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New Arabian Nights

By Robert Louis Stevenson


Edinburgh Edition


Robert Alan Mowbray Stevenson
in grateful remembrance of their youth
and their already old affection



Originally published, 'London,'
June 8 to October 26, 1878.

First Collected Edition: Chatto
and Windus, London, 1882.








DURING his residence in London, the accomplished Prince
Florizel of Bohemia gained the affection of all classes
by the seduction of his manner and by a well-considered
generosity. He was a remarkable man even by what was
known of him; and that was but a small part of what he
actually did. Although of a placid temper in ordinary
circumstances, and accustomed to take the world with as
much philosophy as any ploughman, the Prince of Bohemia
was not without a taste for ways of life more
adventurous and eccentric than that to which he was
destined by his birth. Now and then, when he fell into
a low humour, when there was no laughable play to
witness in any of the London theatres, and when the
season of the year was unsuitable to those field sports
in which he excelled all competitors, he would summon
his confidant and Master of the Horse, Colonel
Geraldine, and bid him prepare himself against an
evening ramble. The Master of the Horse was a young
officer of a brave and even temerarious disposition.
He greeted the news with delight, and hastened to make
ready. Long practice and a varied acquaintance of life
had given him a singular facility in disguise; he could
adapt, not only his face and bearing, but his voice and
almost his thoughts, to those of any rank, character,
or nation; and in this way he diverted attention from
the Prince, and sometimes gained admission for the pair
into strange societies. The civil authorities were
never taken into the secret of these adventures; the
imperturbable courage of the one and the ready
invention and chivalrous devotion of the other had
brought them through a score of dangerous passes; and
they grew in confidence as time went on.

One evening in March they were driven by a sharp fall
of sleet into an Oyster Bar in the immediate
neighbourhood of Leicester Square. Colonel Geraldine
was dressed and painted to represent a person connected
with the Press in reduced circumstances; while the
Prince had, as usual, travestied his appearance by the
addition of false whiskers and a pair of large adhesive
eyebrows. These lent him a shaggy and weather-beaten
air, which, for one of his urbanity, formed the most
impenetrable disguise. Thus equipped, the commander and
his satellite sipped their brandy and soda in security.

The bar was full of guests, male and female; but though
more than one of these offered to fall into talk with
our adventurers, none of them promised to grow
interesting upon a nearer acquaintance. There was
nothing present but the lees of London and the
commonplace of disrespectability; and the Prince had
already fallen to yawning, and was beginning to grow
weary of the whole excursion, when the swing-doors were
pushed violently open, and a young man, followed by a
couple of commissionaires, entered the bar. Each of the
commissionaires carried a large dish of cream tarts
under a cover, which they at once removed; and the
young man made the round of the company, and pressed
these confections upon every one's acceptance with an
exaggerated courtesy. Sometimes his offer was
laughingly accepted; sometimes it was firmly, or even
harshly, rejected. In these latter cases the newcomer
always ate the tart himself, with some more or less
humorous commentary.

At last he accosted Prince Florizel.

"Sir," said he, with a profound obeisance, proffering
the tart at the same time between his thumb and
forefinger," will you so far honour an entire stranger?
I can answer for the quality of the pastry, having
eaten two dozen and three of them myself since five

"I am in the habit," replied the Prince, "of looking
not so much to the nature of a gift as to the spirit in
which it is offered."

"The spirit, sir," returned the young man, with another
bow, "is one of mockery."

"Mockery!" repeated Florizel. "And whom do you propose
to mock?"

"I am not here to expound my philosophy," replied the
other, "but to distribute these cream tarts. If I
mention that I heartily include myself in the ridicule
of the transaction, I hope you will consider honour
satisfied and condescend. If not, you will constrain me
to eat my twenty-eighth, and I own to being weary of
the exercise."

"You touch me," said the Prince, "and I have all the
will in the world to rescue you from this dilemma, but
upon one condition. If my friend and I eat your cakes--
for which we have neither of us any natural
inclination--we shall expect you to join us at supper
by way of recompence."

The young man seemed to reflect.

"I have still several dozen upon hand," he said at
last; "and that will make it necessary for me to visit
several more bars before my great affair is concluded.
This will take some time; and if you are hungry----"

The Prince interrupted him with a polite gesture.

"My friend and I will accompany you," he said; "for we
have already a deep interest in your very agreeable
mode of passing an evening. And now that the
preliminaries of peace are settled, allow me to sign
the treaty for both."

And the Prince swallowed the tart with the best grace

"It is delicious," said he.

"I perceive you are a connoisseur," replied the young man.

Colonel Geraldine likewise did honour to the pastry;
and every one in that bar having now either accepted or
refused his delicacies, the young man with the cream
tarts led the way to another and similar establishment.
The two commissionaires, who seemed to have grown
accustomed to their absurd employment, followed
immediately after; and the Prince and the Colonel
brought up the rear, arm in arm, and smiling to each
other as they went. In this order the company visited
two other taverns, where scenes were enacted of a like
nature to that already described--some refusing, some
accepting, the favours of this vagabond hospitality,
and the young man himself eating each rejected tart.

On leaving the third saloon the young man counted his
store. There were but nine remaining, three in one tray
and six in the other.

"Gentlemen," said he, addressing himself to his two new
followers, "I am unwilling to delay your supper. I am
positively sure you must be hungry. I feel that I owe
you a special consideration. And on this great day for
me, when I am closing a career of folly by my most
conspicuously silly action, I wish to behave handsomely
to all who give me countenance. Gentlemen, you shall
wait no longer. Although my constitution is shattered
by previous excesses, at the risk of my life I
liquidate the suspensory condition."

With these words he crushed the nine remaining tarts
into his mouth, and swallowed them at a single movement
each. Then, turning to the commissionaires, he gave
them a couple of sovereigns.

"I have to thank you," said he, "for your extraordinary

And he dismissed them with a bow apiece. For some
seconds he stood looking at the purse from which he had
just paid his assistants, then, with a laugh, he tossed
it into the middle of the street, and signified his
readiness for supper.

In a small French restaurant in Soho, which had enjoyed
an exaggerated reputation for some little while, but
had already begun to be forgotten, and in a private
room up two pair of stairs, the three companions made a
very elegant supper, and drank three or four bottles of
champagne, talking the while upon indifferent subjects.
The young man was fluent and gay, but he laughed louder
than was natural in a person of polite breeding; his
hands trembled violently, and his voice took sudden and
surprising inflections, which seemed to be independent
of his will. The dessert had been cleared away, and all
three had lighted their cigars, when the Prince
addressed him in these words:--

"You will, I am sure, pardon my curiosity. What I have
seen of you has greatly pleased but even more puzzled
me. And though I should be loth to seem indiscreet, I
must tell you that my friend and I are persons very
well worthy to be intrusted with a secret. We have many
of our own, which we are continually revealing to
improper ears. And if, as I suppose, your story is a
silly one, you need have no delicacy with us, who are
two of the silliest men in England. My name is Godall,
Theophilus Godall; my friend is Major Alfred
Hammersmith--or at least such is the name by which he
chooses to be known. We pass our lives entirely in the
search for extravagant adventures; and there is no
extravagance with which we are not capable of

"I like you, Mr. Godall," returned the young man; "you
inspire me with a natural confidence; and I have not
the slightest objection to your friend the Major, whom
I take to be a nobleman in masquerade. At least, I am
sure he is no soldier."

The Colonel smiled at this compliment to the perfection
of his art; and the young man went on in a more
animated manner.

"There is every reason why I should not tell you my
story. Perhaps that is just the reason why I am going
to do so. At least, you seem so well prepared to hear a
tale of silliness that I cannot find it in my heart to
disappoint you. My name, in spite of your example, I
shall keep to myself. My age is not essential to the
narrative. I am descended from my ancestors by ordinary
generation, and from them I inherited the very eligible
human tenement which I still occupy and a fortune of
three hundred pounds a year. I suppose they also handed
on to me a hare-brain humour, which it has been my
chief delight to indulge. I received a good education.
I can play the violin nearly well enough to earn money
in the orchestra of a penny gaff, but not quite. The
same remark applies to the flute and the French horn.
I learned enough of whist to lose about a hundred a year
at that scientific game. My acquaintance with French
was sufficient to enable me to squander money in Paris
with almost the same facility as in London. In short, I
am a person full of manly accomplishments. I have had
every sort of adventure, including a duel about
nothing. Only two months ago I met a young lady exactly
suited to my taste in mind and body; I found my heart
melt; I saw that I had come upon my fate at last, and
was in the way to fall in love. But when I came to
reckon up what remained to me of my capital, I found it
amounted to something less than four hundred pounds!
I ask you fairly--can a man who respects himself fall in
love on four hundred pounds? I concluded, certainly
not; left the presence of my charmer, and slightly
accelerating my usual rate of expenditure, came this
morning to my last eighty pounds. This I divided into
two equal parts; forty I reserved for a particular
purpose; the remaining forty I was to dissipate before
the night. I have passed a very entertaining day, and
played many farces besides that of the cream tarts
which procured me the advantage of your acquaintance;
for I was determined, as I told you, to bring a foolish
career to a still more foolish conclusion; and when you
saw me throw my purse into the street the forty pounds
were at an end. Now you know me as well as I know
myself: a fool, but consistent in his folly; and, as I
will ask you to believe, neither a whimperer nor a

From the whole tone of the young man's statement it was
plain that he harboured very bitter and contemptuous
thoughts about himself. His auditors were led to
imagine that his love-affair was nearer his heart than
he admitted, and that he had a design on his own life.
The farce of the cream tarts began to have very much
the air of a tragedy in disguise.

"Why, is this not odd, broke out Geraldine, giving a
look to Prince Florizel," that we three fellows should
have met by the merest accident in so large a
wilderness as London, and should be so nearly in the
same condition?"

"How?" cried the young man. "Are you, too, ruined? Is
this supper a folly like my cream tarts? Has the devil
brought three of his own together for a last carouse?"

"The devil, depend upon it, can sometimes do a very
gentlemanly thing," returned Prince Florizel; "and I am
so much touched by this coincidence, that, although we
are not entirely in the same case, I am going to put an
end to the disparity. Let your heroic treatment of the
last cream tarts be my example."

So saying, the Prince drew out his purse and took from
it a small bundle of bank-notes.

"You see, I was a week or so behind you, but I mean to
catch you up and come neck-and-neck into the winning-
post," he continued. "This," laying one of the notes
upon the table, "will suffice for the bill. As for the

He tossed them into the fire, and they went up the
chimney in a single blaze.

The young man tried to catch his arm, but as the table
was between them his interference came too late.

"Unhappy man," he cried, "you should not have burned
them all! You should have kept forty pounds."

"Forty pounds!" repeated the Prince. "Why, in heaven's
name, forty pounds?"

"Why not eighty?" cried the Colonel; "for to my certain
knowledge there must have been a hundred in the

"It was only forty pounds he needed," said the young
man gloomily. "But without them there is no admission.
The rule is strict. Forty pounds for each. Accursed
life, where a man cannot even die without money!"

The Prince and the Colonel exchanged glances.

"Explain yourself," said the latter. "I have still a
pocket-book tolerably well lined, and I need not say
how readily I should share my wealth with Godall. But I
must know to what end: you must certainly tell us what
you mean."

The young man seemed to awaken: he looked uneasily from
one to the other, and his face flushed deeply.

"You are not fooling me?" he asked. "You are indeed
ruined men like me?"

"Indeed, I am for my part," replied the Colonel.

"And for mine," said the Prince, "I have given you
proof. Who but a ruined man would throw his notes into
the fire? The action speaks for itself."

"A ruined man--yes," returned the other suspiciously,
"or else a millionaire."

"Enough, sir," said the Prince; "I have said so, and I
am not accustomed to have my word remain in doubt."

"Ruined?" said the young man. "Are you ruined, like me?
Are you, after a life of indulgence, come to such a
pass that you can only indulge yourself in one thing
more? Are you"--he kept lowering his voice as he went
on--"are you going to give yourself that last
indulgence? Are you going to avoid the consequences of
your folly by the one infallible and easy path? Are you
going to give the slip to the sheriff's officers of
conscience by the one open door?"

Suddenly he broke off and attempted to laugh.

"Here is your health!" he cried, emptying his glass,
"and good-night to you, my merry ruined men."

Colonel Geraldine caught him by the arm as he was about
to rise.

"You lack confidence in us," he said, "and you are
wrong. To all your questions I make answer in the
affirmative. But I am not so timid, and can speak the
Queen's English plainly. We too, like yourself, have
had enough of life, and are determined to die. Sooner
or later, alone or together, we meant to seek out death
and beard him where he lies ready. Since we have met
you, and your case is more pressing, let it be to-
night--and at once--and, if you will, all three
together. Such a penniless trio," he cried, "should go
arm in arm into the halls of Pluto, and give each other
some countenance among the shades!"

Geraldine had hit exactly on the manners and
intonations that became the part he was playing.
The Prince himself was disturbed, and looked over at his
confidant with a shade of doubt. As for the young man,
the flush came back darkly into his cheek, and his eyes
threw out a spark of light.

"You are the men for me!" he cried, with an almost
terrible gaiety. "Shake hands upon the bargain!" (his
hand was cold and wet). "You little know in what a
company you will begin the march! You little know in
what a happy moment for yourselves you partook of my
cream tarts! I am only a unit, but I am a unit in an
army. I know Death's private door. I am one of his
familiars, and can show you into eternity without
ceremony and yet without scandal."

They called upon him eagerly to explain his meaning.

"Can you muster eighty pounds between you?" he

Geraldine ostentatiously consulted his pocket-book, and
replied in the affirmative.

"Fortunate beings!" cried the young man. "Forty pounds
is the entry-money of the Suicide Club."

"The Suicide Club," said the Prince, "why, what the
devil is that?"

"Listen," said the young man; "this is the age of
conveniences, and I have to tell you of the last
perfection of the sort. We have affairs in different
places; and hence railways were invented. Railways
separated us infallibly from our friends; and so
telegraphs were made that we might communicate speedily
at great distances. Even in hotels we have lifts to
spare us a climb of some hundred steps. Now, we know
that life is only a stage to play the fool upon as long
as the part amuses us. There was one more convenience
lacking to modern comfort: a decent, easy way to quit
that stage; the back stairs to liberty; or, as I said
this moment, Death's private door. This, my two fellow-
rebels, is supplied by the Suicide Club. Do not suppose
that you and I are alone, or even exceptional, in the
highly reasonable desire that we profess. A large
number of our fellow-men, who have grown heartily sick
of the performance in which they are expected to join
daily, and all their lives long, are only kept from
flight by one or two considerations. Some have families
who would be shocked, or even blamed, if the matter
became public; others have a weakness at heart and
recoil from the circumstances of death. That is, to
some extent, my own experience. I cannot put a pistol
to my head and draw the trigger; for something stronger
than myself withholds the act; and although I loathe
life, I have not strength enough in my body to take
hold of death and be done with it. For such as I, and
for all who desire to be out of the coil without
posthumous scandal, the Suicide Club has been
inaugurated. How this has been managed, what is its
history, or what may be its ramifications in other
lands, I am myself uninformed; and what I know of its
constitution, I am not at liberty to communicate to
you. To this extent, however, I am at your service.
If you are truly tired of life, I will introduce you
to-night to a meeting; and if not to-night, at least some
time within the week, you will be easily relieved of
your existences. It is now (consulting his watch)
eleven; by half-past, at latest, we must leave this
place; so that you have half an hour before you to
consider my proposal. It is more serious than a cream
tart," he added, with a smile; "and I suspect more

"More serious, certainly," returned Colonel Geraldine;
"and as it is so much more so, will you allow me five
minutes' speech in private with my friend Mr. Godall?"

"It is only fair," answered the young man. "If you will
permit, I will retire."

"You will be very obliging," said the Colonel.

As soon as the two were alone--"What," said Prince
Florizel, "is the use of this confabulation, Geraldine?
I see you are flurried, whereas my mind is very
tranquilly made up. I will see the end of this."

"Your Highness," said the Colonel, turning pale; "let
me ask you to consider the importance of your life, not
only to your friends, but to the public interest. 'If
not to-night,' said this madman; but supposing that
to-night some irreparable disaster were to overtake your
Highness's person, what, let me ask you, what would be
my despair, and what the concern and disaster of a
great nation?"

"I will see the end of this," repeated the Prince in
his most deliberate tones; "and have the kindness,
Colonel Geraldine, to remember and respect your word of
honour as a gentleman. Under no circumstances,
recollect, nor without my special authority, are you to
betray the incognito under which I choose to go abroad.
These were my commands, which I now reiterate. And
now," he added, "let me ask you to call for the bill."

Colonel Geraldine bowed in submission; but he had a
very white face as he summoned the young man of the
cream tarts, and issued his directions to the waiter.
The Prince preserved his undisturbed demeanour, and
described a Palais-Royal farce to the young suicide
with great humour and gusto. He avoided the Colonel's
appealing looks without ostentation, and selected
another cheroot with more than usual care. Indeed, he
was now the only man of the party who kept any command
over his nerves.

The bill was discharged, the Prince giving the whole
change of the note to the astonished waiter; and the
three drove off in a four-wheeler. They were not long
upon the way before the cab stopped at the entrance to
a rather dark court. Here all descended.

After Geraldine had paid the fare, the young man
turned, and addressed Prince Florizel as follows:--

"It is still time, Mr. Godall, to make good your escape
into thraldom. And for you too, Major Hammersmith.
Reflect well before you take another step; and if your
hearts say no--here are the crossroads."

"Lead on, sir," said the Prince. "I am not the man to
go back from a thing once said."

"Your coolness does me good," replied their guide. "I
have never seen any one so unmoved at this conjuncture;
and yet you are not the first whom I have escorted to
this door. More than one of my friends has preceded me,
where I knew I must shortly follow. But this is of no
interest to you. Wait me here for only a few moments;
I shall return as soon as I have arranged the
preliminaries of your introduction."

And with that the young man, waving his hand to his
companions, turned into the court, entered a doorway
and disappeared.

"Of all our follies," said Colonel Geraldine in a low
voice, "this is the wildest and most dangerous."

"I perfectly believe so," returned the Prince.

"We have still," pursued the Colonel, "a moment to
ourselves. Let me beseech your Highness to profit by
the opportunity and retire. The consequences of this
step are so dark, and may be so grave, that I feel
myself justified in pushing a little further than usual
the liberty which your Highness is so condescending as
to allow me in private."

"Am I to understand that Colonel Geraldine is afraid?"
asked his Highness, taking his cheroot from his lips,
and looking keenly into the other's face.

"My fear is certainly not personal," replied the other
proudly; "of that your Highness may rest well assured."

"I had supposed as much," returned the Prince, with
undisturbed good-humour; "but I was unwilling to remind
you of the difference in our stations. No more--no
more," he added, seeing Geraldine about to apologise;
"you stand excused."

And he smoked placidly, leaning against a railing,
until the young man returned.

"Well," he asked, "has our reception been arranged?"

"Follow me," was the reply. "The President will see you
in the cabinet. And let me warn you to be frank in your
answers. I have stood your guarantee; but the club
requires a searching inquiry before admission; for the
indiscretion of a single member would lead to the
dispersion of the whole society for ever."

The Prince and Geraldine put their heads together for a
moment. "Bear me out in this," said the one, and "Bear
me out in that," said the other; and by boldly taking
up the characters of men with whom both were
acquainted, they had come to an agreement in a
twinkling, and were ready to follow their guide into
the President's cabinet.

There were no formidable obstacles to pass. The outer
door stood open; the door of the cabinet was ajar; and
there, in a small but very high apartment, the young
man left them once more.

"He will be here immediately," he said with a nod, as
he disappeared.

Voices were audible in the cabinet through the folding-
doors which formed one end; and now and then the noise
of a champagne cork, followed by a burst of laughter,
intervened among the sounds of conversation. A single
tall window looked out upon the river and the
embankment; and by the disposition of the lights they
judged themselves not far from Charing Cross Station.
The furniture was scanty, and the coverings worn to the
thread; and there was nothing moveable except a hand-
bell in the centre of a round table, and the hats and
coats of a considerable party hung round the wall on pegs.

"What sort of a den is this?" said Geraldine.

"That is what I have come to see," replied the Prince.
"If they keep live devils on the premises, the thing
may grow amusing."

Just then the folding-door was opened no more than was
necessary for the passage of a human body; and there
entered at the same moment a louder buzz of talk, and
the redoubtable President of the Suicide Club. The
President was a man of fifty or upwards; large and
rambling in his gait, with shaggy side-whiskers, a bald
top to his head, and a veiled grey eye, which now and
then emitted a twinkle. His mouth, which embraced a
large cigar, he kept continually screwing round and
round and from side to side, as he looked sagaciously
and coldly at the strangers. He was dressed in light
tweeds, with his neck very open in a striped shirt-
collar; and carried a minute-book under one arm.

"Good-evening," said he, after he had closed the door
behind him. "I am told you wish to speak with me."

"We have a desire, sir, to join the Suicide Club,"
replied the Colonel.

The President rolled his cigar about in his mouth.

"What is that?" he said abruptly.

"Pardon me," returned the Colonel, "but I believe you
are the person best qualified to give us information on
that point."

"I?" cried the President. "A Suicide Club? Come, come!
this is a frolic for All Fools' Day. I can make
allowances for gentlemen who get merry in their liquor;
but let there be an end to this."

"Call your club what you will," said the Colonel; "you
have some company behind these doors, and we insist on
joining it."

"Sir," returned the President curtly, "you have made a
mistake. This is a private house, and you must leave it

The Prince had remained quietly in his seat throughout
this little colloquy; but now, when the Colonel looked
over to him, as much as to say, "Take your answer and
come away, for God's sake!" he drew his cheroot from
his mouth, and spoke--

"I have come here," said he, "upon the invitation of a
friend of yours. He has doubtless informed you of my
intention in thus intruding on your party. Let me
remind you that a person in my circumstances has
exceedingly little to bind him, and is not at all
likely to tolerate much rudeness. I am a very quiet
man, as a usual thing; but, my dear sir, you are either
going to oblige me in the little matter of which you
are aware, or you shall very bitterly repent that you
ever admitted me to your ante-chamber."

The President laughed aloud.

"That is the way to speak," said he. "You are a man who
is a man. You know the way to my heart, and can do what
you like with me. Will you," he continued, addressing
Geraldine, "will you step aside for a few minutes? I
shall finish first with your companion, and some of the
club's formalities require to be fulfilled in private."

With these words he opened the door of a small closet,
into which he shut the Colonel.

"I believe in you," he said to Florizel, as soon as
they were alone; "but are you sure of your friend?"

"Not so sure as I am of myself, though he has more
cogent reasons," answered Florizel, "but sure enough to
bring him here without alarm. He has had enough to cure
the most tenacious man of life. He was cashiered the
other day for cheating at cards."

"A good reason, I daresay," replied the President; "at
least we have another in the same case, and I feel sure
of him. Have you also been in the Service, may I ask?"

"I have," was the reply; "but I was too lazy--I left it

"What is your reason for being tired of life?" pursued
the President.

"The same, as near as I can make out," answered the
Prince: "unadulterated laziness."

The President started. "D--n it," said he, "you must
have something better than that."

"I have no more money," added Florizel. "That is also a
vexation, without doubt. It brings my sense of idleness
to an acute point."

The President rolled his cigar round in his mouth for
some seconds, directing his gaze straight into the eyes
of this unusual neophyte; but the Prince supported his
scrutiny with unabashed good temper.

"If I had not a deal of experience," said the President
at last, "I should turn you off. But I know the world;
and this much any way, that the most frivolous excuses
for a suicide are often the toughest to stand by. And
when I downright like a man, as I do you, sir, I would
rather strain the regulation than deny him."

The Prince and the Colonel, one after the other, were
subjected to a long and particular interrogatory: the
Prince alone; but Geraldine in the presence of the
Prince, so that the President might observe the
countenance of the one while the other was being warmly
cross-examined. The result was satisfactory; and the
President, after having booked a few details of each
case, produced a form of oath to be accepted. Nothing
could be conceived more passive than the obedience
promised, or more stringent than the terms by which the
juror bound himself. The man who forfeited a pledge so
awful could scarcely have a rag of honour or any of the
consolations of religion left to him. Florizel signed
the document, but not without a shudder; the Colonel
followed his example with an air of great depression.
Then the President received the entry-money; and
without more ado introduced the two friends into the
smoking-room of the Suicide Club.

The smoking-room of the Suicide Club was the same
height as the cabinet into which it opened, but much
larger, and papered from top to bottom with an
imitation of oak wainscot. A large and cheerful fire
and a number of gasjets illuminated the company. The
Prince and his follower made the number up to eighteen.
Most of the party were smoking, and drinking champagne;
a feverish hilarity reigned, with sudden and rather
ghastly pauses.

"Is this a full meeting?" asked the Prince.

"Middling," said the President.--" By the way," he
added, "if you have any money, it is usual to offer
some champagne. It keeps up a good spirit, and is one
of my own little perquisites."

"Hammersmith," said Florizel, "I may leave the
champagne to you."

And with that he turned away and began to go round
among the guests. Accustomed to play the host in the
highest circles, he charmed and dominated all whom he
approached; there was something at once winning and
authoritative in his address; and his extraordinary
coolness gave him yet another distinction in this half-
maniacal society. As he went from one to another he
kept both his eyes and ears open, and soon began to
gain a general idea of the people among whom he found
himself. As in all other places of resort, one type
predominated: people in the prime of youth, with every
show of intelligence and sensibility in their
appearance, but with little promise of strength or the
quality that makes success. Few were much above thirty,
and not a few were still in their teens. They stood,
leaning on tables and shifting on their feet; sometimes
they smoked extraordinarily fast, and sometimes they
let their cigars go out; some talked well, but the
conversation of others was plainly the result of
nervous tension, and was equally without wit or
purport. As each new bottle of champagne was opened,
there was a manifest improvement in gaiety. Only two
were seated--one in a chair in the recess of the
window, with his head hanging and his hands plunged
deep into his trousers pockets, pale, visibly moist
with perspiration, saying never a word, a very wreck of
soul and body; the other sat on the divan close by the
chimney, and attracted notice by a trenchant
dissimilarity from all the rest. He was probably
upwards of forty, but he looked fully ten years older;
and Florizel thought he had never seen a man more
naturally hideous, nor one more ravaged by disease and
ruinous excitements. He was no more than skin and bone,
was partly paralysed, and wore spectacles of such
unusual power that his eyes appeared through the
glasses greatly magnified and distorted in shape.
Except the Prince and the President, he was the only
person in the room who preserved the composure of
ordinary life.

There was little decency among the members of the club.
Some boasted of the disgraceful actions, the
consequences of which had reduced them to seek refuge
in death; and the others listened without disapproval.
There was a tacit understanding against moral
judgments; and whoever passed the club doors enjoyed
already some of the immunities of the tomb. They drank
to each other's memories, and to those of notable
suicides in the past. They compared and developed their
different views of death--some declaring that it was no
more than blackness and cessation; others full of a
hope that that very night they should be scaling the
stars and commercing with the mighty dead.

"To the eternal memory of Baron Trenck, the type of
suicides!" cried one. "He went out of a small cell into
a smaller, that he might come forth again to freedom."

"For my part," said a second, "I wish no more than a
bandage for my eyes and cotton for my ears. Only they
have no cotton thick enough in this world."

A third was for reading the mysteries of life in a
future state; and a fourth professed that he would
never have joined the club if he had not been induced
to believe in Mr. Darwin.

"I could not bear," said this remarkable suicide, "to
be descended from an ape."

Altogether, the Prince was disappointed by the bearing
and conversation of the members.

"It does not seem to me," he thought, "a matter for so
much disturbance. If a man has made up his mind to kill
himself, let him do it, in God's name, like a
gentleman. This flutter and big talk is out of place."

In the meanwhile Colonel Geraldine was a prey to the
blackest apprehensions; the club and its rules were
still a mystery, and he looked round the room for some
one who should be able to set his mind at rest. In this
survey his eye lighted on the paralytic person with the
strong spectacles; and seeing him so exceedingly
tranquil, he besought the President, who was going in
and out of the room under a pressure of business, to
present him to the gentleman on the divan.

The functionary explained the needlessness of all such
formalities within the club, but nevertheless presented
Mr. Hammersmith to Mr. Malthus.

Mr. Malthus looked at the Colonel curiously, and then
requested him to take a seat upon his right.

"You are a newcomer," he said, "and wish information.
You have come to the proper source. It is two years
since I first visited this charming club."

The Colonel breathed again. If Mr. Malthus had
frequented the place for two years there could be
little danger for the Prince in a single evening. But
Geraldine was none the less astonished, and began to
suspect a mystification.

"What?" cried he, "two years! I thought--but indeed I
see I have been made the subject of a pleasantry."

"By no means," replied Mr. Malthus mildly. "My case is
peculiar. I am not, properly speaking, a suicide at
all; but, as it were, an honorary member. I rarely
visit the club twice in two months. My infirmity and
the kindness of the President have procured me these
little immunities, for which besides I pay at an
advanced rate. Even as it is, my luck has been

"I am afraid," said the Colonel, "that I must ask you
to be more explicit. You must remember that I am still
most imperfectly acquainted with the rules of the

"An ordinary member who comes here in search of death,
like yourself," replied the paralytic, "returns every
evening until fortune favours him. He can even, if he
is penniless, get board and lodging from the President:
very fair, I believe, and clean, although, of course,
not luxurious; that could hardly be, considering the
exiguity (if I may so express myself) of the
subscription. And then the President's company is a
delicacy in itself."

"Indeed!" cried Geraldine, "he had not greatly
prepossessed me."

"Ah!" said Mr. Malthus, "you do not know the man: the
drollest fellow! What stories! What cynicism! He knows
life to admiration, and, between ourselves, is probably
the most corrupt rogue in Christendom."

"And he also," asked the Colonel, "is a permanency--
like yourself, if I may say so without offence?"

"Indeed, he is a permanency in a very different sense
from me," replied Mr. Malthus. "I have been graciously
spared, but I must go at last. Now he never plays. He
shuffles and deals for the club, and makes the
necessary arrangements. That man, my dear Mr.
Hammersmith, is the very soul of ingenuity. For three
years he has pursued in London his useful and, I think
I may add, his artistic calling; and not so much as a
whisper of suspicion has been once aroused. I believe
him myself to be inspired. You doubtless remember the
celebrated case, six months ago, of the gentleman who
was accidentally poisoned in a chemist's shop? That was
one of the least rich, one of the least racy, of his
notions; but then, how simple! and how safe!"

"You astound me," said the Colonel. "Was that
unfortunate gentleman one of the----" He was about to
say "victims"; but bethinking himself in time, he
substituted--"members of the club?"

In the same flash of thought it occurred to him that
Mr. Malthus himself had not at all spoken in the tone
of one who is in love with death; and he added

"But I perceive I am still in the dark. You speak of
shuffling and dealing; pray, for what end? And since
you seem rather unwilling to die than otherwise, I must
own that I cannot conceive what brings you here at

"You say truly that you are in the dark," replied Mr.
Malthus with more animation. "Why, my dear sir, this
club is the temple of intoxication. If my enfeebled
health could support the excitement more often, you may
depend upon it I should be more often here. It requires
all the sense of duty engendered by a long habit of
ill-health and careful regimen, to keep me from excess
in this, which is, I may say, my last dissipation.
I have tried them all, sir," he went on, laying his hand
on Geraldine's arm, "all, without exception, and I
declare to you, upon my honour, there is not one of
them that has not been grossly and untruthfully
overrated. People trifle with love. Now, I deny that
love is a strong passion. Fear is the strong passion;
it is with fear that you must trifle if you wish to
taste the intensest joys of living. Envy me--envy me,
sir," he added with a chuckle; "I am a coward!"

Geraldine could scarcely repress a movement of
repulsion for this deplorable wretch; but he commanded
himself with an effort, and continued his inquiries.

"How, sir," he asked, "is the excitement so artfully
prolonged? and where is there any element of

"I must tell you how the victim for every evening is
selected," returned Mr. Malthus; "and not only the
victim, but another member, who is to be the instrument
in the club's hands, and death's high priest for that

"Good God!" said the Colonel, "do they then kill each

"The trouble of suicide is removed in that way,"
returned Malthus with a nod.

"Merciful heavens!" ejaculated the Colonel, "and may
you--may I--may the--my friend, I mean--may any of us
be pitched upon this evening as the slayer of another
man's body and immortal spirit? Can such things be
possible among men born of women? O infamy of

He was about to rise in his horror, when he caught the
Prince's eye. It was fixed upon him from across the
room with a frowning and angry stare. And in a moment
Geraldine recovered his composure.

"After all," he added, "why not? and since you say the
game is interesting, _vogue la galere,_ I follow the

Mr. Malthus had keenly enjoyed the Colonel's amazement
and disgust. He had the vanity of wickedness; and it
pleased him to see another man give way to a generous
movement, while he felt himself, in his entire
corruption, superior to such emotions.

"You now, after your first moment of surprise," said
he, "are in a position to appreciate the delights of
our society. You can see how it combines the excitement
of a gaming-table, a duel, and a Roman amphitheatre.
The Pagans did well enough; I cordially admire the
refinement of their minds; but it has been reserved for
a Christian country to attain this extreme, this
quintessence, this absolute of poignancy. You will
understand how vapid are all amusements to a man who
has acquired a taste for this one. The game we play,"
he continued, "is one of extreme simplicity. A full
pack--but I perceive you are about to see the thing in
progress. Will you lend me the help of your arm? I am
unfortunately paralysed."

Indeed, just as Mr. Malthus was beginning his
description, another pair of folding-doors was thrown
open, and the whole club began to pass, not without
some hurry, into the adjoining room. It was similar in
every respect to the one from which it was entered, but
somewhat differently furnished. The centre was occupied
by a long green table, at which the President sat
shuffling a pack of cards with great particularity.
Even with the stick and the Colonel's arm, Mr. Malthus
walked with so much difficulty that every one was
seated before this pair and the Prince, who had waited
for them, entered the apartment; and, in consequence,
the three took seats close together at the lower end of
the board.

"It is a pack of fifty-two," whispered Mr. Malthus.
"Watch for the ace of spades, which is the sign of
death, and the ace of clubs, which designates the
official of the night. Happy, happy young men!" he
added. "You have good eyes, and can follow the game.
Alas! I cannot tell an ace from a deuce across the

And he proceeded to equip himself with a second pair of

"I must at least watch the faces," he explained.

The Colonel rapidly informed his friend of all that he
had learned from the honorary member, and of the
horrible alternative that lay before them. The Prince
was conscious of a deadly chill and a contraction about
his heart; he swallowed with difficulty, and looked
from side to side like a man in a maze.

"One bold stroke," whispered the Colonel, "and we may
still escape."

But the suggestion recalled the Prince's spirits.

"Silence!" said he. "Let me see that you can play like
a gentleman for any stake, however serious."

And he looked about him, once more to all appearance at
his ease, although his heart beat thickly, and he was
conscious of an unpleasant heat in his bosom. The
members were all very quiet and intent; every one was
pale, but none so pale as Mr. Malthus. His eyes
protruded; his head kept nodding involuntarily upon his
spine; his hands found their way, one after the other,
to his mouth, where they made clutches at his tremulous
and ashen lips. It was plain that the honorary member
enjoyed his membership on very startling terms.

"Attention, gentlemen!" said the President.

And he began slowly dealing the cards about the table
in the reverse direction, pausing until each man had
shown his card. Nearly every one hesitated; and
sometimes you would see a player's fingers stumble more
than once before he could turn over the momentous slip
of pasteboard. As the Prince's turn grew nearer, he was
conscious of a growing and almost suffocating
excitement; but he had somewhat of the gambler's
nature, and recognised almost with astonishment that
there was a degree of pleasure in his sensations. The
nine of clubs fell to his lot; the three of spades was
dealt to Geraldine; and the queen of hearts to Mr.
Malthus, who was unable to suppress a sob of relief.
The young man of the cream tarts almost immediately
afterwards turned over the ace of clubs, and remained
frozen with horror, the card still resting on his
finger; he had not come there to kill, but to be
killed; and the Prince in his generous sympathy with
his position almost forgot the peril that still hung
over himself and his friend.

The deal was coming round again, and still Death's card
had not come out. The players held their respiration,
and only breathed by gasps. The Prince received another
club; Geraldine had a diamond; but when Mr. Malthus
turned up his card a horrible noise, like that of
something breaking, issued from his mouth; and he rose
from his seat and sat down again, with no sign of his
paralysis. It was the ace of spades. The honorary
member had trifled once too often with his terrors.

Conversation broke out again almost at once. The
players relaxed their rigid attitudes, and began to
rise from the table and stroll back by twos and threes
into the smoking-room. The President stretched his arms
and yawned, like a man who has finished his day's work.
But Mr. Malthus sat in his place, with his head in his
hands, and his hands upon the table, drunk and
motionless--a thing stricken down.

The Prince and Geraldine made their escape at once.
In the cold night air their horror of what they had
witnessed was redoubled.

"Alas!" cried the Prince, "to be bound by an oath in
such a matter! to allow this wholesale trade in murder
to be continued with profit and impunity! If I but
dared to forfeit my pledge!"

"That is impossible for your Highness," replied the
Colonel, "whose honour is the honour of Bohemia.
But I dare, and may with propriety, forfeit mine."

"Geraldine," said the Prince, "if your honour suffers
in any of the adventures into which you follow me, not
only will I never pardon you, but--what I believe will
much more sensibly affect you--I should never forgive

"I receive your Highness's commands," replied the
Colonel. "Shall we go from this accursed spot?"

"Yes," said the Prince. "Call a cab in Heaven's name,
and let me try to forget in slumber the memory of this
night's disgrace."

But it was notable that he carefully read the name of
the court before he left it.

The next morning, as soon as the Prince was stirring,
Colonel Geraldine brought him a daily newspaper, with
the following paragraph marked:--

"MELANCHOLY ACCIDENT.--This morning, about two o'clock,
Mr. Bartholomew Malthus, of 16 Chepstow Place,
Westbourne Grove, on his way home from a party at a
friend's house, fell over the upper parapet in
Trafalgar Square, fracturing his skull and breaking a
leg and an arm. Death was instantaneous. Mr. Malthus,
accompanied by a friend, was engaged in looking for a
cab at the time of the unfortunate occurrence. As Mr.
Malthus was paralytic, it is thought that his fall may
have been occasioned by another seizure. The unhappy
gentleman was well known in the most respectable
circles, and his loss will be widely and deeply

"If ever a soul went straight to hell," said Geraldine
solemnly, "it was that paralytic man's."

The Prince buried his face in his hands, and remained

"I am almost rejoiced," continued the Colonel, "to know
that he is dead. But for our young man of the cream
tarts I confess my heart bleeds."

"Geraldine," said the Prince, raising his face, "that
unhappy lad was last night as innocent as you and I;
and this morning the guilt of blood is on his soul.
When I think of the President, my heart grows sick
within me. I do not know how it shall be done, but I
shall have that scoundrel at my mercy as there is a God
in heaven. What an experience, what a lesson, was that
game of cards!"

"One," said the Colonel, "never to be repeated."

The Prince remained so long without replying that
Geraldine grew alarmed.

"You cannot mean to return," he said. "You have
suffered too much and seen too much horror already.
The duties of your high position forbid the repetition
of the hazard."

"There is much in what you say," replied Prince
Florizel, "and I am not altogether pleased with my own
determination. Alas! in the clothes of the greatest
potentate what is there but a man? I never felt my
weakness more acutely than now, Geraldine, but it is
stronger than I. Can I cease to interest myself in the
fortunes of the unhappy young man who supped with us
some hours ago? Can I leave the President to follow his
nefarious career unwatched? Can I begin an adventure so
entrancing, and not follow it to an end? No, Geraldine,
you ask of the Prince more than the man is able to
perform. To-night, once more, we take our places at the
table of the Suicide Club."

Colonel Geraldine fell upon his knees.

"Will your Highness take my life?" he cried. "It is
his--his freely; but do not, O do not! let him ask me
to countenance so terrible a risk."

"Colonel Geraldine," replied the Prince, with some
haughtiness of manner, "your life is absolutely your
own. I only looked for obedience; and when that is
unwillingly rendered I shall look for that no longer.
I add one word: your importunity in this affair has been

The Master of the Horse regained his feet at once.

"Your Highness," he said, "may I be excused in my
attendance this afternoon? I dare not, as an honourable
man, venture a second time into that fatal house until
I have perfectly ordered my affairs. Your Highness
shall meet, I promise him, with no more opposition from
the most devoted and grateful of his servants."

"My dear Geraldine," returned Prince Florizel, "I
always regret when you oblige me to remember my rank.
Dispose of your day as you think fit, but be here
before eleven in the same disguise."

The club, on this second evening, was not so fully
attended; and when Geraldine and the Prince arrived
there were not above half a dozen persons in the
smoking-room. His Highness took the President aside and
congratulated him warmly on the demise of Mr. Malthus.

"I like," he said, "to meet with capacity, and
certainly find much of it in you. Your profession is of
a very delicate nature, but I see you are well
qualified to conduct it with success and secrecy."

The President was somewhat affected by these
compliments from one of his Highness's superior
bearing. He acknowledged them almost with humility.

"Poor Malthy!" he added, "I shall hardly know the club
without him. The most of my patrons are boys, sir, and
poetical boys, who are not much company for me. Not but
what Malthy had some poetry too; but it was of a kind
that I could understand."

"I can readily imagine you should find yourself in
sympathy with Mr. Malthus," returned the Prince. "He
struck me as a man of a very original disposition."

The young man of the cream tarts was in the room, but
painfully depressed and silent. His late companions
sought in vain to lead him into conversation.

"How bitterly I wish," he cried, "that I had never
brought you to this infamous abode! Begone, while you
are clean-handed. If you could have heard the old man
scream as he fell, and the noise of his bones upon the
pavement! Wish me, if you have any kindness to so
fallen a being--wish the ace of spades for me to-night!"

A few more members dropped in as the evening went on,
but the club did not muster more than the devil's dozen
when they took their places at the table. The Prince
was again conscious of a certain joy in his alarms; but
he was astonished to see Geraldine so much more self-
possessed than on the night before.

"It is extraordinary," thought the Prince, "that a
will, made or unmade, should so greatly influence a
young man's spirit."

"Attention, gentlemen!" said the President, and he
began to deal.

Three times the cards went all round the table, and
neither of the marked cards had yet fallen from his
hand. The excitement as he began the fourth
distribution was overwhelming. There were just cards
enough to go once more entirely round. The Prince, who
sat second from the dealer's left, would receive, in
the reverse mode of dealing practised at the club, the
second last card. The third player turned up a black
ace--it was the ace of clubs. The next received a
diamond, the next a heart, and so on, but the ace of
spades was still undelivered. At last Geraldine, who
sat upon the Prince's left, turned his card; it was an
ace, but the ace of hearts.

When Prince Florizel saw his fate upon the table in
front of him, his heart stood still. He was a brave
man, but the sweat poured off his face. There were
exactly fifty chances out of a hundred that he was
doomed. He reversed the card; it was the ace of spades.
A loud roaring filled his brain, and the table swam
before his eyes. He heard the player on his right break
into a fit of laughter that sounded between mirth and
disappointment; he saw the company rapidly dispersing,
but his mind was full of other thoughts. He recognised
how foolish, how criminal, had been his conduct. In
perfect health, in the prime of his years, the heir to
a throne, he had gambled away his future and that of a
brave and loyal country. "God," he cried, "God forgive
me!" And with that the confusion of his senses passed
away, and he regained his self-possession in a moment.

To his surprise Geraldine had disappeared. There was no
one in the card-room but his destined butcher
consulting with the President, and the young man of the
cream tarts, who slipped up to the Prince and whispered
in his ear--

"I would give a million, if I had it, for your luck."

His Highness could not help reflecting, as the young
man departed, that he would have sold his opportunity
for a much more moderate sum.

The whispered conference now came to an end. The holder
of the ace of clubs left the room with a look of
intelligence, and the President, approaching the
unfortunate Prince, proffered him his hand.

"I am pleased to have met you, sir," said he, "and
pleased to have been in a position to do you this
trifling service. At least you cannot complain of
delay. On the second evening--what a stroke of luck!"

The Prince endeavoured in vain to articulate something
in response, but his mouth was dry and his tongue
seemed paralysed.

"You feel a little sickish?" asked the President, with
some show of solicitude. "Most gentlemen do. Will you
take a little brandy?"

The Prince signified in the affirmative, and the other
immediately filled some of the spirit into a tumbler.

"Poor old Malthy!" ejaculated the President, as the
Prince drained the glass. "He drank near upon a pint,
and little enough good it seemed to do him!"

"I am more amenable to treatment," said the Prince, a
good deal revived. "I am my own man again at once, as
you perceive. And so let me ask you, what are my

"You will proceed along the Strand in the direction of
the City, and on the left-hand pavement, until you meet
the gentleman who has just left the room. He will
continue your instructions, and him you will have the
kindness to obey; the authority of the club is vested
in his person for the night. And now," added the
President, "I wish you a pleasant walk."

Florizel acknowledged the salutation rather awkwardly,
and took his leave. He passed through the smoking-room,
where the bulk of the players were still consuming
champagne, some of which he had himself ordered and
paid for; and he was surprised to find himself cursing
them in his heart. He put on his hat and greatcoat in
the cabinet, and selected his umbrella from a corner.
The familiarity of these acts, and the thought that he
was about them for the last time, betrayed him into a
fit of laughter which sounded unpleasantly in his own
ears. He conceived a reluctance to leave the cabinet,
and turned instead to the window. The sight of the
lamps and the darkness recalled him to himself.

"Come, come, I must be a man," he thought, "and tear
myself away."

At the corner of Box Court three men fell upon Prince
Florizel, and he was unceremoniously thrust into a
carriage, which at once drove rapidly away. There was
already an occupant.

"Will your Highness pardon my zeal?" said a well-known

The Prince threw himself upon the Colonel's neck in a
passion of relief.

"How can I ever thank you?" he cried. "And how was this

Although he had been willing to march upon his doom, he
was overjoyed to yield to friendly violence and return
once more to life and hope.

"You can thank me effectually enough," replied the
Colonel, "by avoiding all such dangers in the future.
And as for your second question, all has been managed
by the simplest means. I arranged this afternoon with a
celebrated detective. Secrecy has been promised and
paid for. Your own servants have been principally
engaged in the affair. The house in Box Court has been
surrounded since nightfall, and this, which is one of
your own carriages, has been awaiting you for nearly an

"And the miserable creature who was to have slain me--
what of him?" inquired the Prince.

"He was pinioned as he left the club," replied the
Colonel, "and now awaits your sentence at the Palace,
where he will soon be joined by his accomplices."

"Geraldine," said the Prince, "you have saved me
against my explicit orders, and you have done well.
I owe you not only my life, but a lesson; and I should be
unworthy of my rank if I did not show myself grateful
to my teacher. Let it be yours to choose the manner."

There was a pause, during which the carriage continued
to speed through the streets, and the two men were each
buried in his own reflections. The silence was broken
by Colonel Geraldine--

"Your Highness," said he, "has by this time a
considerable body of prisoners. There is at least one
criminal among the number to whom justice should be
dealt. Our oath forbids us all recourse of law; and
discretion would forbid it equally if the oath were
loosened. May I inquire your Highness's intention?"

"It is decided," answered Florizel; "the President must
fall in duel. It only remains to choose his adversary."

"Your Highness has permitted me to name my own
recompence," said the Colonel. "Will he permit me to
ask the appointment of my brother? It is an honourable
post, but I dare assure your Highness that the lad will
acquit himself with credit."

"You ask me an ungracious favour," said the Prince,
"but I must refuse you nothing."

The Colonel kissed his hand with the greatest
affection, and at that moment the carriage rolled under
the archway of the Prince's splendid residence.

An hour after, Florizel in his official robes, and
covered with all the orders of Bohemia, received the
members of the Suicide Club.

"Foolish and wicked men," said he, "as many of you as
have been driven into this strait by the lack of
fortune shall receive employment and remuneration from
my officers. Those who suffer under a sense of guilt
must have recourse to a higher and more generous
Potentate than I. I feel pity for all of you, deeper
than you can imagine; to-morrow you shall tell me your
stories; and as you answer more frankly, I shall be the
more able to remedy your misfortunes.--As for you," he
added, turning to the President, "I should only offend
a person of your parts by any offer of assistance; but
I have instead a piece of diversion to propose to you.
Here," laying his hand on the shoulder of Colonel
Geraldine's young brother, "is an officer of mine who
desires to make a little tour upon the Continent; and I
ask you, as a favour, to accompany him on this
excursion. Do you," he went on, changing his tone, "do
you shoot well with the pistol? Because you may have
need of that accomplishment. When two men go travelling
together, it is best to be prepared for all. Let me add
that, if by any chance you should lose young Mr.
Geraldine upon the way, I shall always have another
member of my household to place at your disposal; and I
am known, Mr. President, to have long eyesight and as
long an arm."

With these words, said with much sternness, the Prince
concluded his address. Next morning the members of the
club were suitably provided for by his munificence, and
the President set forth upon his travels, under the
supervision of Mr. Geraldine, and a pair of faithful
and adroit lackeys, well trained in the Prince's
household. Not content with this, discreet agents were
put in possession of the house in Box Court, and all
letters or visitors for the Suicide Club or its
officials were to be examined by Prince Florizel in



Here (says my Arabian author) ends THE STORY OF THE
comfortable householder in Wigmore Street, Cavendish
Square. The number, for obvious reasons, I suppress.
Those who care to pursue the adventures of Prince
Florizel and the President of the Suicide Club may





MR. SILAS Q. SCUDDAMORE was a young American of a
simple and harmless disposition, which was the more to
his credit as he came from New England--a quarter of
the New World not precisely famous for those qualities.
Although he was exceedingly rich, he kept a note of all
his expenses in a little paper pocket-book; and he had
chosen to study the attractions of Paris from the
seventh story of what is called a furnished hotel in
the Latin Quarter. There was a great deal of habit in
his penuriousness; and his virtue, which was very
remarkable among his associates, was principally
founded upon diffidence and youth.

The next room to his was inhabited by a lady, very
attractive in her air and very elegant in toilette,
whom, on his first arrival, he had taken for a
Countess. In course of time he had learned that she was
known by the name of Madame Zephyrine, and that
whatever station she occupied in life it was not that
of a person of title. Madame Zephyrine, probably in the
hope of enchanting the young American, used to flaunt
by him on the stairs with a civil inclination, a word
of course, and a knock-down look out of her black eyes,
and disappear in a rustle of silk, and with the
revelation of an admirable foot and ankle. But these
advances, so far from encouraging Mr. Scuddamore,
plunged him into the depths of depression and
bashfulness. She had come to him several times for a
light, or to apologise for the imaginary depredations
of her poodle; but his mouth was closed in the presence
of so superior a being, his French promptly left him,
and he could only stare and stammer until she was gone.
The slenderness of their intercourse did not prevent
him from throwing out insinuations of a very glorious
order when he was safely alone with a few males.

The room on the other side of the American's--for there
were three rooms on a floor in the hotel---was tenanted
by an old English physician of rather doubtful
reputation. Dr. Noel, for that was his name, had been
forced to leave London, where he enjoyed a large and
increasing practice; and it was hinted that the police
had been the instigators of this change of scene. At
least he, who had made something of a figure in earlier
life, now dwelt in the Latin Quarter in great
simplicity and solitude, and devoted much of his time
to study. Mr. Scuddamore had made his acquaintance, and
the pair would now and then dine together frugally in a
restaurant across the street.

Silas Q. Scuddamore had many little vices of the more
respectable order, and was not restrained by delicacy
from indulging them in many rather doubtful ways. Chief
among his foibles stood curiosity. He was a born
gossip; and life, and especially those parts of it in
which he had no experience, interested him to the
degree of passion. He was a pert, invincible
questioner, pushing his inquiries with equal
pertinacity and indiscretion; he had been observed,
when he took a letter to the post, to weigh it in his
hand, to turn it over and over, and to study the
address with care; and when he found a flaw in the
partition between his room and Madame Zephyrine's,
instead of filling it up, he enlarged and improved the
opening, and made use of it as a spy-hole on his
neighbour's affairs.

One day, in the end of March, his curiosity growing as
it was indulged, he enlarged the hole a little further,
so that he might command another corner of the room.
That evening, when he went as usual to inspect Madame
Zephyrine's movements, he was astonished to find the
aperture obscured in an odd manner on the other side,
and still more abashed when the obstacle was suddenly
withdrawn and a titter of laughter reached his ears.
Some of the plaster had evidently betrayed the secret
of his spy-hole, and his neighbour had been returning
the compliment in kind. Mr. Scuddamore was moved to a
very acute feeling of annoyance; he condemned Madame
Zephyrine unmercifully: he even blamed himself; but
when he found, next day, that she had taken no means to
baulk him of his favourite pastime, he continued to
profit by her carelessness, and gratify his idle

That next day Madame Zephyrine received a long visit
from a tall, loosely-built man of fifty or upwards,
whom Silas had not hitherto seen. His tweed suit and
coloured shirt, no less than his shaggy side-whiskers,
identified him as a Britisher, and his dull grey eye
affected Silas with a sense of cold. He kept screwing
his mouth from side to side and round and round during
the whole colloquy, which was carried on in whispers.
More than once it seemed to the young New-Englander as
if their gestures indicated his own apartment; but the
only thing definite he could gather by the most
scrupulous attention was this remark, made by the
Englishman in a somewhat higher key, as if in answer to
some reluctance or opposition--

"I have studied his taste to a nicety, and I tell you
again and again you are the only woman of the sort that
I can lay my hands on."

In answer to this, Madame Zephyrine sighed, and
appeared by a gesture to resign herself, like one
yielding to unqualified authority.

That afternoon the observatory was finally blinded, a
wardrobe having been drawn in front of it upon the
other side; and while Silas was still lamenting over
his misfortune, which he attributed to the Britisher's
malign suggestion, the _concierge_ brought him up a
letter in a female handwriting. It was conceived in
French of no very rigorous orthography, bore no
signature, and in the most encouraging terms invited
the young American to be present in a certain part of
the Bullier Ball at eleven o'clock that night.
Curiosity and timidity fought a long battle in his
heart; sometimes he was all virtue, sometimes all fire
and daring; and the result of it was that, long before
ten, Mr. Silas Q. Scuddamore presented himself in
unimpeachable attire at the door of the Bullier Ball
Rooms, and paid his entry-money with a sense of
reckless devilry that was not without its charm.

It was Carnival time, and the Ball was very full and
noisy. The lights and the crowd at first rather abashed
our young adventurer, and then, mounting to his brain
with a sort of intoxication, put him in possession of
more than his own share of manhood. He felt ready to
face the devil, and strutted in the ball-room with the
swagger of a cavalier. While he was thus parading, he
became aware of Madame Zephyrine and her Britisher in
conference behind a pillar. The cat-like spirit of
eavesdropping overcame him at once. He stole nearer and
nearer on the couple from behind, until he was within

"That is the man," the Britisher was saying; "there
with the long blond hair--speaking to a girl in green."

Silas identified a very handsome young fellow of small
stature, who was plainly the object of this

"It is well," said Madame Zephyrine. "I shall do my
utmost. But, remember, the best of us may fail in such
a matter."

"Tut!" returned her companion; "I answer for the
result. Have I not chosen you from thirty? Go; but be
wary of the Prince. I cannot think what cursed accident
has brought him here to-night. As if there were not a
dozen balls in Paris better worth his notice than this
riot of students and counter-jumpers! See him where he
sits, more like a reigning Emperor at home than a
Prince upon his holidays!"

Silas was again lucky. He observed a person of rather a
full build, strikingly handsome, and of a very stately
and courteous demeanour, seated at table with another
handsome young man, several years his junior, who
addressed him with conspicuous deference. The name of
Prince struck gratefully on Silas's Republican hearing,
and the aspect of the person to whom that name was
applied exercised its usual charm upon his mind. He
left Madame Zephyrine and her Englishman to take care
of each other, and threading his way through the
assembly, approached the table which the Prince and his
confidant had honoured with their choice.

"I tell you, Geraldine," the former was saying, "the
action is madness. Yourself (I am glad to remember it)
chose your brother for this perilous service, and you
are bound in duty to have a guard upon his conduct. He
has consented to delay so many days in Paris; that was
already an imprudence, considering the character of the
man he has to deal with; but now, when he is within
eight-and-forty hours of his departure, when he is
within two or three days of the decisive trial, I ask
you, is this a place for him to spend his time? He
should be in a gallery at practice; he should be
sleeping long hours and taking moderate exercise on
foot; he should be on a rigorous diet, without white
wines or brandy. Does the dog imagine we are all
playing comedy? The thing is deadly earnest,

"I know the lad too well to interfere," replied Colonel
Geraldine, "and well enough not to be alarmed. He is
more cautious than you fancy, and of an indomitable
spirit. If it had been a woman I should not say so
much, but I trust the President to him and the two
valets without an instant's apprehension."

"I am gratified to hear you say so," replied the
Prince; "but my mind is not at rest. These servants are
well-trained spies, and already has not this miscreant
succeeded three times in eluding their observation and
spending several hours on end in private, and most
likely dangerous, affairs? An amateur might have lost
him by accident, but if Rudolph and Jerome were thrown
off the scent, it must have been done on purpose, and
by a man who had a cogent reason and exceptional

"I believe the question is now one between my brother
and myself," replied Geraldine, with a shade of offence
in his tone.

"I permit it to be so, Colonel Geraldine," returned
Prince Florizel. "Perhaps, for that very reason, you
should be all the more ready to accept my counsels.
But enough. That girl in yellow dances well."

And the talk veered into the ordinary topics of a Paris
ball-room in the Carnival.

Silas remembered where he was, and that the hour was
already near at hand when he ought to be upon the scene
of his assignation. The more he reflected the less he
liked the prospect, and as at that moment an eddy in
the crowd began to draw him in the direction of the
door, he suffered it to carry him away without
resistance. The eddy stranded him in a corner under the
gallery, where his ear was immediately struck with the
voice of Madame Zephyrine. She was speaking in French
with the young man of the blond locks who had been
pointed out by the strange Britisher not half an hour

"I have a character at stake," she said, "or I would
put no other condition than my heart recommends. But
you have only to say so much to the porter, and he will
let you go by without a word."

"But why this talk of debt?" objected her companion.

"Heavens!" said she, "do you think I do not understand
my own hotel?"

And she went by, clinging affectionately to her
companion's arm.

This put Silas in mind of his billet.

"Ten minutes hence," thought he, "and I may be walking
with as beautiful a woman as that, and even better
dressed--perhaps a real lady, possibly a woman of

And then he remembered the spelling, and was a little

"But it may have been written by her maid," he

The clock was only a few minutes from the hour, and
this immediate proximity set his heart beating at a
curious and rather disagreeable speed. He reflected
with relief that he was in no way bound to put in an
appearance. Virtue and cowardice were together, and he
made once more for the door, but this time of his own
accord, and battling against the stream of people which
was now moving in a contrary direction. Perhaps this
prolonged resistance wearied him, or perhaps he was in
that frame of mind when merely to continue in the same
determination for a certain number of minutes produces
a reaction and a different purpose. Certainly, at
least, he wheeled about for a third time, and did not
stop until he had found a place of concealment within a
few yards of the appointed place.

Here he went through an agony of spirit, in which he
several times prayed to God for help, for Silas had
been devoutly educated. He had now not the least
inclination for the meeting; nothing kept him from
flight but a silly fear lest he should be thought
unmanly; but this was so powerful that it kept head
against all other motives; and although it could not
decide him to advance, prevented him from definitely
running away. At last the clock indicated ten minutes
past the hour. Young Scuddamore's spirit began to rise;
he peered round the corner and saw no one at the place
of meeting; doubtless his unknown correspondent had
wearied and gone away. He became as bold as he had
formerly been timid. It seemed to him that if he came
at all to the appointment, however late, he was clear
from the charge of cowardice. Nay, now he began to
suspect a hoax, and actually complimented himself on
his shrewdness in having suspected and out-manoeuvred
his mystifiers. So very idle a thing is a boy's mind!

Armed with these reflections, he advanced boldly from
his corner; but he had not taken above a couple of
steps before a hand was laid upon his arm. He turned
and beheld a lady cast in a very large mould and with
somewhat stately features, but bearing no mark of
severity in her looks.

"I see that you are a very self-confident lady-killer,"
said she; "for you make yourself expected. But I was
determined to meet you. When a woman has once so far
forgotten herself as to make the first advance, she has
long ago left behind her all considerations of petty

Silas was overwhelmed by the size and attractions of
his correspondent and the suddenness with which she had
fallen upon him. But she soon set him at his ease. She
was very towardly and lenient in her behaviour; she led
him on to make pleasantries, and then applauded him to
the echo; and in a very short time, between
blandishments and a liberal exhibition of warm brandy,
she had not only induced him to fancy himself in love,
but to declare his passion with the greatest vehemence.

"Alas!" she said; "I do not know whether I ought not to
deplore this moment, great as is the pleasure you give
me by your words. Hitherto I was alone to suffer; now,
poor boy, there will be two. I am not my own mistress.
I dare not ask you to visit me at my own house, for I
am watched by jealous eyes. Let me see," she added;
"I am older than you, although so much weaker; and while
I trust in your courage and determination, I must employ
my own knowledge of the world for our mutual benefit.
Where do you live?"

He told her that he lodged in a furnished hotel, and
named the street and number.

She seemed to reflect for some minutes, with an effort
of mind.

"I see," she said at last. "You will be faithful and
obedient, will you not?"

Silas assured her eagerly of his fidelity.

"To-morrow night, then," she continued, with an
encouraging smile, "you must remain at home all the
evening; and if any friends should visit you, dismiss
them at once on any pretext that most readily presents
itself. Your door is probably shut by ten?" she asked.

"By eleven," answered Silas.

"At a quarter past eleven," pursued the lady, "leave
the house. Merely cry for the door to be opened, and be
sure you fall into no talk with the porter, as that
might ruin everything. Go straight to the corner where
the Luxembourg Gardens join the Boulevard; there you
will find me waiting you. I trust you to follow my
advice from point to point: and remember, if you fail
me in only one particular, you will bring the sharpest
trouble on a woman whose only fault is to have seen and
loved you."

"I cannot see the use of all these instructions," said

"I believe you are already beginning to treat me as a
master," she cried, tapping him with her fan upon the
arm. "Patience, patience! that should come in time.
A woman loves to be obeyed at first, although afterwards
she finds her pleasure in obeying. Do as I ask you, for
Heaven's sake, or I will answer for nothing. Indeed,
now I think of it," she added with the manner of one
who has just seen further into a difficulty, "I find a
better plan of keeping importunate visitors away. Tell
the porter to admit no one for you, except a person who
may come that night to claim a debt; and speak with
some feeling, as though you feared the interview, so
that he may take your words in earnest."

"I think you may trust me to protect myself against
intruders," he said, not without a little pique.

"That is how I should prefer the thing arranged," she
answered coldly. "I know you men; you think nothing of
a woman's reputation."

Silas blushed and somewhat hung his head; for the
scheme he had in view had involved a little vain-
glorying before his acquaintances.

"Above all," she added, "do not speak to the porter as
you come out."

"And why?" said he. "Of all your instructions, that
seems to me the least important."

"You at first doubted the wisdom of some of the others,
which you now see to be very necessary," she replied.
"Believe me, this also has its uses; in time you will
see them; and what am I to think of your affection, if
you refuse me such trifles at our first interview?"

Silas confounded himself in explanations and apologies;
in the middle of these she looked up at the clock and
clapped her hands together with a suppressed scream.

"Heavens!" she cried, "is it so late? I have not an
instant to lose. Alas, we poor women, what slaves we
are! What have I not risked for you already?"

And after repeating her directions, which she artfully
combined with caresses and the most abandoned looks,
she bade him farewell and disappeared among the crowd.

The whole of the next day Silas was filled with a sense
of great importance; he was now sure she was a
countess; and when evening came he minutely obeyed her
orders and was at the corner of the Luxembourg Gardens
by the hour appointed. No one was there. He waited
nearly half an hour, looking in the face of every one
who passed or loitered near the spot; he even visited
the neighbouring corners of the Boulevard and made a
complete circuit of the garden railings; but there was
no beautiful countess to throw herself into his arms.
At last, and most reluctantly, he began to retrace his
steps towards his hotel. On the way he remembered the
words he had heard pass between Madame Zephyrine and
the blond young man, and they gave him an indefinite

"It appears," he reflected, "that every one has to tell
lies to our porter."

He rang the bell, the door opened before him, and the
porter in his bed-clothes came to offer him a light.

"Has he gone?" inquired the porter.

"He? Whom do you mean?" asked Silas, somewhat sharply,
for he was irritated by his disappointment.

"I did not notice him go out," continued the porter,
"but I trust you paid him. We do not care, in this
house, to have lodgers who cannot meet their

"What the devil do you mean?" demanded Silas rudely.
"I cannot understand a word of this farrago."

"The short, blond young man who came for his debt,"
returned the other. "Him it is I mean. Who else should
it be, when I had your orders to admit no one else?"

"Why, good God! of course he never came," retorted

"I believe what I believe," returned the porter,
putting his tongue into his cheek with a most roguish

"You are an insolent scoundrel," cried Silas, and,
feeling that he had made a ridiculous exhibition of
asperity, and at the same time bewildered by a dozen
alarms, he turned and began to run upstairs.

"Do you not want a light, then?" cried the porter. But
Silas only hurried the faster, and did not pause until
he had reached the seventh landing and stood in front
of his own door. There he waited a moment to recover
his breath, assailed by the worst forebodings, and
almost dreading to enter the room.

When at last he did so he was relieved to find it dark,
and to all appearance untenanted. He drew a long
breath. Here he was, home again in safety, and this
should be his last folly as certainly as it had been
his first. The matches stood on a little table by the
bed, and he began to grope his way in that direction.
As he moved, his apprehensions grew upon him once more,
and he was pleased, when his foot encountered an
obstacle, to find it nothing more alarming than a
chair. At last he touched curtains. From the position
of the window, which was faintly visible, he knew he
must be at the foot of the bed, and had only to feel
his way along it in order to reach the table in

He lowered his hand, but what it touched was not simply
a counterpane--it was a counterpane with something
underneath it like the outline of a human leg. Silas
withdrew his arm and stood a moment petrified.

"What, what," he thought, "can this betoken?"

He listened intently, but there was no sound of
breathing. Once more, with a great effort, he reached
out the end of his finger to the spot he had already
touched; but this time he leaped back half a yard, and
stood shivering and fixed with terror. There was
something in his bed. What it was he knew not, but
there was something there.

It was some seconds before he could move. Then, guided
by an instinct, he fell straight upon the matches, and,
keeping his back towards the bed, lighted a candle. As
soon as the flame had kindled, he turned slowly round
and looked for what he feared to see. Sure enough,
there was the worst of his imaginations realised. The
coverlid was drawn carefully up over the pillow, but it
moulded the outline of a human body lying motionless;
and when he dashed forward and flung aside the sheets,
he beheld the blond young man whom he had seen in the
Bullier Ball the night before, his eyes open and
without speculation, his face swollen and blackened,
and a thin stream of blood trickling from his nostrils.

Silas uttered a long, tremulous wail, dropped the
candle, and fell on his knees beside the bed.

Silas was awakened from the stupor into which his
terrible discovery had plunged him, by a prolonged but
discreet tapping at the door. It took him some seconds
to remember his position; and when he hastened to
prevent any one from entering it was already too late.
Dr. Noel, in a tall nightcap, carrying a lamp which
lighted up his long white countenance, sidling in his
gait, and peering and cocking his head like some sort
of bird, pushed the door slowly open, and advanced into
the middle of the room.

"I thought I heard a cry," began the Doctor, "and
fearing you might be unwell I did not hesitate to offer
this intrusion."

Silas, with a flushed face and a fearful beating heart,
kept between the Doctor and the bed; but he found no
voice to answer.

"You are in the dark," pursued the Doctor; "and yet you
have not even begun to prepare for rest. You will not
easily persuade me against my own eyesight; and your
face declares most eloquently that you require either a
friend or a physician--which is it to be? Let me feel
your pulse, for that is often a just reporter of the

He advanced to Silas, who still retreated before him
backwards, and sought to take him by the wrist; but the
strain on the young American's nerves had become too
great for endurance. He avoided the Doctor with a
febrile movement, and, throwing himself upon the floor,
burst into a flood of weeping.

As soon as Dr. Noel perceived the dead man in the bed
his face darkened; and hurrying back to the door, which
he had left ajar, he hastily closed and double-locked

"Up!" he cried, addressing Silas in strident tones;
"this is no time for weeping. What have you done? How
came this body in your room? Speak freely to one who
may be helpful. Do you imagine I would ruin you? Do you
think this piece of dead flesh on your pillow can alter
in any degree the sympathy with which you have inspired
me? Credulous youth, the horror with which blind and
unjust law regards an action never attaches to the doer
in the eyes of those who love him; and if I saw the
friend of my heart return to me out of seas of blood he
would be in no way changed in my affection. Raise
yourself," he said; "good and ill are a chimera; there
is nought in life except destiny, and however you may
be circumstanced there is one at your side who will
help you to the last."

Thus encouraged, Silas gathered himself together, and
in a broken voice, and helped out by the Doctor's
interrogations, contrived at last to put him in
possession of the facts. But the conversation between
the Prince and Geraldine he altogether omitted, as he
had understood little of its purport, and had no idea
that it was in any way related to his own misadventure.

"Alas!" cried Dr. Noel, "I am much abused, or you have
fallen innocently into the most dangerous hands in
Europe. Poor boy, what a pit has been dug for your
simplicity! into what a deadly peril have your unwary
feet been conducted! This man," he said, "this
Englishman, whom you twice saw, and whom I suspect to
be the soul of the contrivance, can you describe him?
Was he young or old? tall or short?"

But Silas, who, for all his curiosity, had not a seeing
eye in his head, was able to supply nothing but meagre
generalities, which it was impossible to recognise.

"I would have it a piece of education in all schools!"
cried the Doctor angrily. "Where is the use of eyesight
and articulate speech if a man cannot observe and
recollect the features of his enemy? I, who know all
the gangs of Europe, might have identified him, and
gained new weapons for your defence. Cultivate this art
in future, my poor boy; you may find it of momentous

"The future!" repeated Silas. "What future is there
left for me except the gallows?"

"Youth is but a cowardly season," returned the Doctor;
"and a man's own troubles look blacker than they are.
I am old, and yet I never despair."

"Can I tell such a story to the police?" demanded

"Assuredly not," replied the Doctor. "From what I see
already of the machination in which you have been
involved, your case is desperate upon that side; and
for the narrow eye of the authorities you are
infallibly the guilty person. And remember that we only
know a portion of the plot; and the same infamous
contrivers have doubtless arranged many other
circumstances which would be elicited by a police
inquiry, and help to fix the guilt more certainly upon
your innocence."

"I am then lost, indeed!" cried Silas.

"I have not said so," answered Dr. Noel, "for I am a
cautious man.

"But look at this!" objected Silas, pointing to the
body. "Here is this object in my bed: not to be
explained, not to be disposed of, not to be regarded
without horror."

"Horror?" replied the Doctor. "No. When this sort of
clock has run down, it is no more to me than an
ingenious piece of mechanism, to be investigated with
the bistoury. When blood is once cold and stagnant it
is no longer human blood; when flesh is once dead it is
no longer that flesh which we desire in our lovers and
respect in our friends. The grace, the attraction, the
terror, have all gone from it with the animating
spirit. Accustom yourself to look upon it with
composure; for if my scheme is practicable you will
have to live some days in constant proximity to that
which now so greatly horrifies you."

"Your scheme?" cried Silas; "what is that? Tell me
speedily, Doctor; for I have scarcely courage enough to
continue to exist."

Without replying, Dr. Noel turned towards the bed, and
proceeded to examine the corpse.

"Quite dead," he murmured. "Yes, as I had supposed, the
pockets empty. Yes, and the name cut off the shirt.
Their work has been done thoroughly and well.
Fortunately, he is of small stature."

Silas followed these words with an extreme anxiety.
At last the Doctor, his autopsy completed, took a chair
and addressed the young American with a smile.

"Since I came into your room," said he, "although my
ears and my tongue have been so busy, I have not
suffered my eyes to remain idle. I noted a little while
ago that you have there, in the corner, one of those
monstrous constructions which your fellow-countrymen
carry with them into all quarters of the globe--in a
word, a Saratoga trunk. Until this moment I have never
been able to conceive the utility of these erections;
but then I began to have a glimmer. Whether it was for
convenience in the slave-trade, or to obviate the
results of too ready an employment of the bowie-knife,
I cannot bring myself to decide. But one thing I see
plainly--the object of such a box is to contain a human

"Surely," cried Silas, "surely this is not a time for

"Although I may express myself with some degree of
pleasantry," replied the Doctor, "the purport of my
words is entirely serious. And the first thing we have
to do, my young friend, is to empty your coffer of all
that it contains."

Silas, obeying the authority of Dr. Noel, put himself
at his disposition. The Saratoga trunk was soon gutted
of its contents, which made a considerable litter on
the floor; and then--Silas taking the heels and the
Doctor supporting the shoulders--the body of the
murdered man was carried from the bed, and, after some
difficulty, doubled up and inserted whole into the
empty box. With an effort on the part of both, the lid
was forced down upon this unusual baggage, and the
trunk was locked and corded by the Doctor's own hand,
while Silas disposed of what had been taken out between
the closet and a chest of drawers.

"Now," said the Doctor, "the first step has been taken
on the way to your deliverance. To-morrow, or rather
to-day, it must be your task to allay the suspicions of
your porter, paying him all that you owe; while you may
trust me to make the arrangements necessary to a safe
conclusion. Meantime, follow me to my room, where I
shall give you a safe and powerful opiate, for,
whatever you do, you must have rest."

The next day was the longest in Silas's memory; it
seemed as if it would never be done. He denied himself
to his friends, and sat in a corner with his eyes fixed
upon the Saratoga trunk in dismal contemplation. His
own former indiscretions were now returned upon him in
kind; for the observatory had been once more opened,
and he was conscious of an almost continual study from
Madame Zephyrine's apartment. So distressing did this
become that he was at last obliged to block up the spy-
hole from his own side; and when he was thus secured
from observation he spent a considerable portion of his
time in contrite tears and prayer.

Late in the evening Dr. Noel entered the room carrying
in his hand a pair of sealed envelopes without address,
one somewhat bulky, and the other so slim as to seem
without enclosure.

"Silas," he said, seating himself at the table, "the
time has now come for me to explain my plan for your
salvation. To-morrow morning, at an early hour, Prince
Florizel of Bohemia returns to London, after having
diverted himself for a few days with the Parisian
Carnival. It was my fortune, a good while ago, to do
Colonel Geraldine, his Master of the Horse, one of
those services, so common in my profession, which are
never forgotten upon either side. I have no need to
explain to you the nature of the obligation under which
he was laid; suffice it to say that I knew him ready to
serve me in any practicable manner. Now, it was
necessary for you to gain London with your trunk
unopened. To this the Custom House seemed to oppose a
fatal difficulty; but I bethought me that the baggage
of so considerable a person as the Prince, is, as a
matter of courtesy, passed without examination by the
officers of Custom. I applied to Colonel Geraldine, and
succeeded in obtaining a favourable answer. To-morrow,
if you go before six to the hotel where the Prince
lodges, your baggage will be passed over as a part of
his, and you yourself will make the journey as a member
of his suite."

"It seems to me, as you speak, that I have already seen
both the Prince and Colonel Geraldine; I even overheard
some of their conversation the other evening at the
Bullier Ball."

"It is probable enough; for the Prince loves to mix
with all societies," replied the Doctor. "Once arrived
in London," he pursued, your task is nearly ended. In
this more bulky envelope I have given you a letter
which I dare not address; but in the other you will
find the designation of the house to which you must
carry it along with your box, which will there be taken
from you and not trouble you any more."

"Alas!" said Silas, "I have every wish to believe you;
but how is it possible? You open up to me a bright
prospect, but, I ask you, is my mind capable of
receiving so unlikely a solution? Be more generous, and
let me further understand your meaning."

The Doctor seemed painfully impressed.

"Boy," he answered, "you do not know how hard a thing
you ask of me. But be it so. I am now inured to
humiliation; and it would be strange if I refused you
this, after having granted you so much. Know, then,
that although I now make so quiet an appearance--
frugal, solitary, addicted to study--when I was
younger, my name was once a rallying-cry among the most
astute and dangerous spirits of London; and while I was
outwardly an object for respect and consideration, my
true power resided in the most secret, terrible, and
criminal relations. It is to one of the persons who
then obeyed me that I now address myself to deliver you
from your burden. They were men of many different
nations and dexterities, all bound together by a
formidable oath, and working to the same purposes; the
trade of the association was in murder; and I who speak
to you, innocent as I appear, was the chieftain of this
redoubtable crew."

"What?" cried Silas. "A murderer? And one with whom
murder was a trade? Can I take your hand? Ought I so
much as to accept your services? Dark and criminal old
man, would you make an accomplice of my youth and my

The Doctor bitterly laughed.

"You are difficult to please, Mr. Scuddamore," said he,
"but I now offer you your choice of company between the
murdered man and the murderer. If your conscience is
too nice to accept my aid, say so, and I will
immediately leave you. Thenceforward you can deal with
your trunk and its belongings as best suits your
upright conscience."

"I own myself wrong," replied Silas. "I should have
remembered how generously you offered to shield me,
even before I had convinced you of my innocence, and I
continue to listen to your counsels with gratitude."

"That is well," returned the Doctor; "and I perceive
you are beginning to learn some of the lessons of

"At the same time," resumed the New-Englander, "as you
confess yourself accustomed to this tragical business,
and the people to whom you recommend me are your own
former associates and friends, could you not yourself
undertake the transport of the box, and rid me at once
of its detested presence?"

"Upon my word," replied the Doctor, "I admire you
cordially. If you do not think I have already meddled
sufficiently in your concerns, believe me, from my
heart I think the contrary. Take or leave my services
as I offer them; and trouble me with no more words of
gratitude, for I value your consideration even more
lightly than I do your intellect. A time will come, if
you should be spared to see a number of years in health
of mind, when you will think differently of all this,
and blush for your to-night's behaviour."

So saying, the Doctor arose from his chair, repeated
his directions briefly and clearly, and departed from
the room without permitting Silas any time to answer.

The next morning Silas presented himself at the hotel,
where he was politely received by Colonel Geraldine,
and relieved, from that moment, of all immediate alarm
about his trunk and its grisly contents. The journey
passed over without much incident, although the young
man was horrified to overhear the sailors and railway
porters complaining among themselves about the unusual
weight of the Prince's baggage. Silas travelled in a
carriage with the valets, for Prince Florizel chose to
be alone with his Master of the Horse. On board the
steamer, however, Silas attracted his Highness's
attention by the melancholy of his air and attitude as
he stood gazing at the pile of baggage; for he was
still full of disquietude about the future.

"There is a young man," observed the Prince, "who must
have some cause for sorrow."

"That," replied Geraldine, "is the American for whom I
obtained permission to travel with your suite."

"You remind me that I have been remiss in courtesy,"
said Prince Florizel, and advancing to Silas, he
addressed him with the most exquisite condescension in
these words:--

"I was charmed, young sir, to be able to gratify the
desire you made known to me through Colonel Geraldine.
Remember, if you please, that I shall be glad at any
future time to lay you under a more serious

And then he put some questions as to the political
condition of America, which Silas answered with sense
and propriety.

"You are still a young man," said the Prince; "but I
observe you to be very serious for your years. Perhaps
you allow your attention to be too much occupied with
grave studies. But perhaps, on the other hand, I am
myself indiscreet and touch upon a painful subject."

"I have certainly cause to be the most miserable of
men," said Silas; "never has a more innocent person
been more dismally abused."

"I will not ask you for your confidence," returned
Prince Florizel. "But do not forget that Colonel
Geraldine's recommendation is an unfailing passport;
and that I am not only willing, but possibly more able
than many others, to do you a service."

Silas was delighted with the amiability of this great
personage; but his mind soon returned upon its gloomy
preoccupations; for not even the favour of a Prince to
a Republican can discharge a brooding spirit of its

The train arrived at Charing Cross, where the officers
of the Revenue respected the baggage of Prince Florizel
in the usual manner. The most elegant equipages were in
waiting; and Silas was driven, along with the rest, to
the Prince's residence. There Colonel Geraldine sought
him out, and expressed himself pleased to have been of
any service to a friend of the physician's, for whom he
professed a great consideration.

"I hope," he added, "that you will find none of your
porcelain injured. Special orders were given along the
line to deal tenderly with the Prince's effects."

And then, directing the servants to place one of the
carriages at the young gentleman's disposal, and at
once to charge the Saratoga trunk upon the dickey, the
Colonel shook hands and excused himself on account of
his occupations in the princely household.

Silas now broke the seal of the envelope containing the
address, and directed the stately footman to drive him
to Box Court, opening off the Strand. It seemed as if
the place were not at all unknown to the man, for he
looked startled and begged a repetition of the order.
It was with a heart full of alarms that Silas mounted
into the luxurious vehicle, and was driven to his
destination. The entrance to Box Court was too narrow
for the passage of a coach; it was a mere footway
between railings, with a post at either end. On one of
these posts was seated a man, who at once jumped down
and exchanged a friendly sign with the driver, while
the footman opened the door and inquired of Silas
whether he should take down the Saratoga trunk, and to
what number it should be carried.

"If you please," said Silas. "To number three."

The footman and the man who had been sitting on the
post, even with the aid of Silas himself, had hard work
to carry in the trunk; and before it was deposited at
the door of the house in question, the young American
was horrified to find a score of loiterers looking on.
But he knocked with as good a countenance as he could
muster up, and presented the other envelope to him who

"He is not at home," said he, "but if you will leave
your letter and return to-morrow early, I shall be able
to inform you whether and when he can receive your
visit. Would you like to leave your box?" he added.

"Dearly," cried Silas; and the next moment he repented
his precipitation, and declared, with equal emphasis,
that he would rather carry the box along with him to
the hotel.

The crowd jeered at his indecision, and followed him to
the carriage with insulting remarks; and Silas, covered
with shame and terror, implored the servants to conduct
him to some quiet and comfortable house of
entertainment in the immediate neighbourhood.

The Prince's equipage deposited Silas at the Craven
Hotel in Craven Street, and immediately drove away,
leaving him alone with the servants of the inn. The
only vacant room, it appeared, was a little den up four
pairs of stairs, and looking towards the back. To this
hermitage, with infinite trouble and complaint, a pair
of stout porters carried the Saratoga trunk. It is
needless to mention that Silas kept closely at their
heels throughout the ascent, and had his heart in his
mouth at every corner. A single false step, he
reflected, and the box might go over the banisters and
land its fatal contents, plainly discovered, on the
pavement of the hall.

Arrived in the room, he sat down on the edge of his bed
to recover from the agony that he had just endured; but
he had hardly taken his position when he was recalled
to a sense of his peril by the action of the boots, who
had knelt beside the trunk, and was proceeding
officiously to undo its elaborate fastenings.

"Let it be!" cried Silas. "I shall want nothing from it
while I stay here."

"You might have let it lie in the hall, then," growled
the man; "a thing as big and heavy as a church. What
you have inside I cannot fancy. If it is all money, you
are a richer man than me."

"Money?" repeated Silas, in a sudden perturbation.
"What do you mean by money? I have no money, and you
are speaking like a fool."

"All right, captain," retorted the boots with a wink.
"There's nobody will touch your lordship's money.
I'm as safe as the bank," he added; "but as the box is
heavy, I shouldn't mind drinking something to your
lordship's health."

Silas pressed two Napoleons upon his acceptance,
apologising, at the same time, for being obliged to
trouble him with foreign money, and pleading his recent
arrival for excuse. And the man, grumbling with even
greater fervour, and looking contemptuously from the
money in his hand to the Saratoga trunk, and back again
from the one to the other, at last consented to

For nearly two days the dead body had been packed into
Silas's box; and as soon as he was alone the
unfortunate New-Englander nosed all the cracks and
openings with the most passionate attention. But the
weather was cool, and the trunk still managed to
contain his shocking secret.

He took a chair beside it, and buried his face in his
hands, and his mind in the most profound reflection. If
he were not speedily relieved, no question but he must
be speedily discovered. Alone in a strange city,
without friends or accomplices, if the Doctor's
introduction failed him, he was indubitably a lost
New-Englander. He reflected pathetically over his ambitious
designs for the future; he should not now become the
hero and spokesman of his native place of Bangor,
Maine; he should not, as he had fondly anticipated,
move on from office to office, from honour to honour;
he might as well divest himself at once of all hope of
being acclaimed President of the United States, and
leaving behind him a statue, in the worst possible
style of art, to adorn the Capitol at Washington. Here
he was, chained to a dead Englishman doubled up inside
a Saratoga trunk; whom he must get rid of, or perish
from the rolls of national glory!

I should be afraid to chronicle the language employed
by this young man to the Doctor, to the murdered man,
to Madame Zephyrine, to the boots of the hotel, to the
Prince's servants, and, in a word, to all who had been
ever so remotely connected with his horrible

He slunk down to dinner about seven at night; but the
yellow coffee-room appalled him, the eyes of the other
diners seemed to rest on his with suspicion, and his
mind remained upstairs with the Saratoga trunk. When
the waiter came to offer him cheese, his nerves were
already so much on edge that he leaped half-way out of
his chair and upset the remainder of a pint of ale upon
the table-cloth.

The fellow offered to show him to the smoking-room when
he had done; and although he would have much preferred
to return at once to his perilous treasure, he had not
the courage to refuse, and was shown downstairs to the
black, gas-lit cellar, which formed, and possibly still
forms, the divan of the Craven Hotel.

Two very sad betting men were playing billiards,
attended by a moist, consumptive marker; and for the
moment Silas imagined that these were the only
occupants of the apartment. But at the next glance his
eye fell upon a person smoking in the farthest corner,
with lowered eyes and a most respectable and modest
aspect. He knew at once that he had seen the face
before; and, in spite of the entire change of clothes,
recognised the man whom he had found seated on a post
at the entrance to Box Court, and who had helped him to
carry the trunk to and from the carriage. The New-
Englander simply turned and ran, nor did he pause until
he had locked and bolted himself into his bedroom.

There, all night long, a prey to the most terrible
imaginations, he watched beside the fatal boxful of
dead flesh. The suggestion of the boots that his trunk
was full of gold inspired him with all manner of new
terrors, if he so much as dared to close an eye; and
the presence in the smoking-room, and under an obvious
disguise, of the loiterer from Box Court convinced him
that he was once more the centre of obscure

Midnight had sounded some time, when, impelled by
uneasy suspicions, Silas opened his bedroom door and
peered into the passage. It was dimly illuminated by a
single jet of gas; and some distance off he perceived a
man sleeping on the floor in the costume of an hotel
under-servant. Silas drew near the man on tiptoe. He
lay partly on his back, partly on his side, and his
right fore-arm concealed his face from recognition.
Suddenly, while the American was still bending over
him, the sleeper removed his arm and opened his eyes,
and Silas found himself once more face to face with the
loiterer of Box Court.

"Good-night, sir," said the man pleasantly.

But Silas was too profoundly moved to find an answer,
and regained his room in silence.

Towards morning, worn out by apprehension, he fell
asleep on his chair, with his head forward on the
trunk. In spite of so constrained an attitude and such
a grisly pillow, his slumber was sound and prolonged,
and he was only awakened at a late hour and by a sharp
tapping at the door.

He hurried to open, and found the boots without.

"You are the gentleman who called yesterday at Box
Court?" he asked.

Silas, with a quaver, admitted that he had done so.

"Then this note is for you," added the servant,
proffering a sealed envelope.

Silas tore it open, and found inside the words: "Twelve

He was punctual to the hour; the trunk was carried
before him by several stout servants; and he was
himself ushered into a room, where a man sat warming
himself before the fire with his back towards the door.
The sound of so many persons entering and leaving, and
the scraping of the trunk as it was deposited upon the
bare boards, were alike unable to attract the notice of
the occupant; and Silas stood waiting, in an agony of
fear, until he should deign to recognise his presence.

Perhaps five minutes had elapsed before the man turned
leisurely about, and disclosed the features of Prince
Florizel of Bohemia.

"So, sir," he said, with great severity, "this is the
manner in which you abuse my politeness. You join
yourself to persons of condition, I perceive, for no
other purpose than to escape the consequences of your
crimes; and I can readily understand your embarrassment
when I addressed myself to you yesterday."

"Indeed," cried Silas, "I am innocent of everything
except misfortune."

And in a hurried voice, and with the greatest
ingenuousness, he recounted to the Prince the whole
history of his calamity.

"I see I have been mistaken," said his Highness, when
he had heard him to an end. "You are no other than a
victim, and since I am not to punish you may be sure I
shall do my utmost to help.--And now," he continued,
"to business. Open your box at once, and let me see
what it contains."

Silas changed colour.

"I almost fear to look upon it," he exclaimed.

"Nay," replied the Prince, "have you not looked at it
already? This is a form of sentimentality to be
resisted. The sight of a sick man, whom we can still
help, should appeal more directly to the feelings than
that of a dead man who is equally beyond help or harm,
love or hatred. Nerve yourself, Mr. Scuddamore,"--and
then, seeing that Silas still hesitated, "I do not
desire to give another name to my request," he added.

The young American awoke as if out of a dream, and with
a shiver of repugnance addressed himself to loose the
straps and open the lock of the Saratoga trunk. The
Prince stood by, watching with a composed countenance
and his hands behind his back. The body was quite
stiff, and it cost Silas a great effort, both moral and
physical, to dislodge it from its position, and
discover the face.

Prince Florizel started back with an exclamation of
painful surprise.

"Alas!" he cried, "you little know, Mr. Scuddamore,
what a cruel gift you have brought me. This is a young
man of my own suite, the brother of my trusted friend;
and it was upon matters of my own service that he has
thus perished at the hands of violent and treacherous
men. Poor Geraldine," he went on, as if to himself, "in
what words am I to tell you of your brother's fate? How
can I excuse myself in your eyes, or in the eyes of
God, for the presumptuous schemes that led him to this
bloody and unnatural death? Ah, Florizel! Florizel!
when will you learn the discretion that suits mortal
life, and be no longer dazzled with the image of power
at your disposal? Power!" he cried; "who is more
powerless? I look upon this young man whom I have
sacrificed, Mr. Scuddamore, and feel how small a thing
it is to be a Prince."

Silas was moved at the sight of his emotion. He tried
to murmur some consolatory words, and burst into tears.
The Prince, touched by his obvious intention, came up
to him and took him by the hand.

"Command yourself," said he. "We have both much to
learn, and we shall both be better men for to-day's

Silas thanked him in silence with an affectionate look.

"Write me the address of Doctor Noel on this piece of
paper," continued the Prince, leading him towards the
table; "and let me recommend you, when you are again in
Paris, to avoid the society of that dangerous man.
He has acted in this matter on a generous inspiration;
that I must believe; had he been privy to young
Geraldine's death he would never have despatched the
body to the care of the actual criminal."

"The actual criminal!" repeated Silas in astonishment.

"Even so," returned the Prince. "This letter, which the
disposition of Almighty Providence has so strangely
delivered into my hands, was addressed to no less a
person than the criminal himself, the infamous
President of the Suicide Club. Seek to pry no further
in these perilous affairs, but content yourself with
your own miraculous escape, and leave this house at
once. I have pressing affairs, and must arrange at once
about this poor clay, which was so lately a gallant and
handsome youth."

Silas took a grateful and submissive leave of Prince
Florizel, but he lingered in Box Court until he saw him
depart in a splendid carriage on a visit to Colonel
Henderson of the police. Republican as he was, the
young American took off his hat with almost a sentiment
of devotion to the retreating carriage. And the same
night he started by rail on his return to Paris.



Here (observes my Arabian author) is the end of THE
Omitting some reflections on the power of Providence,
highly pertinent in the original, but little suited to
our Occidental taste, I shall only add that Mr.
Scuddamore has already begun to mount the ladder of
political fame, and by last advices was the Sheriff of
his native town.





LIEUTENANT BRACKENBURY RICH had greatly distinguished
himself in one of the lesser Indian hill wars. He it
was who took the chieftain prisoner with his own hand;
his gallantry was universally applauded; and when he
came home, prostrated by an ugly sabre-cut and a
protracted jungle-fever, society was prepared to
welcome the Lieutenant as a celebrity of minor lustre.
But his was a character remarkable for unaffected
modesty; adventure was dear to his heart, but he cared
little for adulation; and he waited at foreign
watering-places and in Algiers until the fame of his
exploits had run through its nine days' vitality and
begun to be forgotten. He arrived in London at last, in
the early season, with as little observation as he
could desire; and as he was an orphan and had none but
distant relatives who lived in the provinces, it was
almost as a foreigner that he installed himself in the
capital of the country for which he had shed his blood.

On the day following his arrival he dined alone at a
military club. He shook hands with a few old comrades,
and received their warm congratulations; but as one and
all had some engagement for the evening he found
himself left entirely to his own resources. He was in
dress, for he had entertained the notion of visiting a
theatre. But the great city was new to him; he had gone
from a provincial school to a military college, and
thence direct to the Eastern Empire; and he promised
himself a variety of delights in this world for
exploration. Swinging his cane, he took his way
westward. It was a mild evening, already dark, and now
and then threatening rain. The succession of faces in
the lamplight stirred the Lieutenant's imagination; and
it seemed to him as if he could walk for ever in that
stimulating city atmosphere and surrounded by the
mystery of four million private lives. He glanced at
the houses, and marvelled what was passing behind those
warmly-lighted windows; he looked into face after face,
and saw them each intent upon some unknown interest,
criminal or kindly.

"They talk of war," he thought, "but this is the great
battle-field of mankind."

And then he began to wonder that he should walk so long
in this complicated scene, and not chance upon so much
as the shadow of an adventure for himself

"All in good time," he reflected. "I am still a
stranger, and perhaps wear a strange air. But I must be
drawn into the eddy before long."

The night was already well advanced when a plump of
cold rain fell suddenly out of the darkness.
Brackenbury paused under some trees, and as he did so
he caught sight of a hansom cabman making him a sign
that he was disengaged. The circumstance fell in so
happily to the occasion that he at once raised his cane
in answer, and had soon ensconced himself in the London

"Where to, sir?" asked the driver.

"Where you please," said Brackenbury.

And immediately, at a pace of surprising swiftness, the
hansom drove off through the rain into a maze of
villas. One villa was so like another, each with its
front garden, and there was so little to distinguish
the deserted lamp-lit streets and crescents through
which the flying hansom took its way, that Brackenbury
soon lost all idea of direction. He would have been
tempted to believe that the cab-man was amusing himself
by driving him round and round and in and out about a
small quarter, but there was something business-like in
the speed which convinced him of the contrary. The man
had an object in view, he was hastening towards a
definite end; and Brackenbury was at once astonished at
the fellow's skill in picking a way through such a
labyrinth, and a little concerned to imagine what was
the occasion of his hurry. He had heard tales of
strangers falling ill in London. Did the driver belong
to some bloody and treacherous association? and was he
himself being whirled to a murderous death?

The thought had scarcely presented itself, when the cab
swung sharply round a corner and pulled up before the
garden gate of a villa in a long and wide road. The
house was brilliantly lighted up. Another hansom had
just driven away, and Brackenbury could see a gentleman
being admitted at the front door and received by
several liveried servants. He was surprised that the
cabman should have stopped so immediately in front of a
house where a reception was being held; but he did not
doubt it was the result of accident, and sat placidly
smoking where he was, until he heard the trap thrown
open over his head.

"Here we are, sir," said the driver.

"Here!" repeated Brackenbury. "Where?"

"You told me to take you where I pleased, sir,"
returned the man with a chuckle, "and here we are."

It struck Brackenbury that the voice was wonderfully
smooth and courteous for a man in so inferior a
position; he remembered the speed at which he had been
driven; and now it occurred to him that the hansom was
more luxuriously appointed than the common run of
public conveyances.

"I must ask you to explain," said he. "Do you mean to
turn me out into the rain? My good man, I suspect the
choice is mine."

"The choice is certainly yours," replied the driver;
"but when I tell you all, I believe I know how a
gentleman of your figure will decide. There is a
gentleman's party in this house. I do not know whether
the master be a stranger to London and without
acquaintances of his own; or whether he is a man of odd
notions. But certainly I was hired to kidnap single
gentlemen in evening dress, as many as I pleased, but
military officers by preference. You have simply to go
in and say that Mr. Morris invited you."

"Are you Mr. Morris?" inquired the Lieutenant.

"Oh no," replied the cabman. "Mr. Morris is the person
of the house."

"It is not a common way of collecting guests," said
Brackenbury:" but an eccentric man might very well
indulge the whim without any intention to offend. And
suppose that I refuse Mr. Morris's invitation," he went
on, "what then?"

"My orders are to drive you back where I took you
from," replied the man, "and set out to look for others
up to midnight. Those who have no fancy for such an
adventure, Mr. Morris said, were not the guests for

These words decided the Lieutenant on the spot.

"After all," he reflected, as he descended from the
hansom, "I have not had long to wait for my adventure."

He had hardly found footing on the sidewalk, and was
still feeling in his pocket for the fare, when the cab
swung about and drove off by the way it came at the
former break-neck velocity. Brackenbury shouted after
the man, who paid no heed, and continued to drive away;
but the sound of his voice was overheard in the house,
the door was again thrown open, emitting a flood of
light upon the garden, and a servant ran down to meet
him holding an umbrella.

"The cabman has been paid," observed the servant in a
very civil tone; and he proceeded to escort Brackenbury
along the path and up the steps. In the hall several
other attendants relieved him of his hat, cane, and
paletot, gave him a ticket with a number in return, and
politely hurried him up a stair adorned with tropical
flowers, to the door of an apartment on the first
story. Here a grave butler inquired his name, and
announcing, "Lieutenant Brackenbury Rich," ushered him
into the drawing-room of the house.

A young man, slender and singularly handsome, came
forward and greeted him with an air at once courtly and
affectionate. Hundreds of candles, of the finest wax,
lit up a room that was perfumed, like the staircase,
with a profusion of rare and beautiful flowering
shrubs. A side-table was loaded with tempting viands.
Several servants went to and fro with fruits and
goblets of champagne. The company was perhaps sixteen
in number, all men, few beyond the prime of life, and,
with hardly an exception, of a dashing and capable
exterior. They were divided into two groups, one about
a roulette-board, and the other surrounding a table at
which one of their number held a bank of baccarat.

"I see," thought Brackenbury, "I am in a private
gambling saloon, and the cabman was a tout."

His eye had embraced the details, and his mind formed
the conclusion, while his host was still holding him by
the hand; and to him his looks returned from this rapid
survey. At a second view Mr. Morris surprised him still
more than on the first. The easy elegance of his
manners, the distinction, amiability, and courage that
appeared upon his features, fitted very ill with the
Lieutenant's preconceptions on the subject of the
proprietor of a hell; and the tone of his conversation
seemed to mark him out for a man of position and merit.
Brackenbury found he had an instinctive liking for his
entertainer; and though he chid himself for the
weakness, he was unable to resist a sort of friendly
attraction for Mr. Morris's person and character.

"I have heard of you, Lieutenant Rich," said Mr.
Morris, lowering his tone; "and believe me I am
gratified to make your acquaintance. Your looks accord
with the reputation that has preceded you from India.
And if you will forget for a while the irregularity of
your presentation in my house, I shall feel it not only
an honour, but a genuine pleasure besides. A man who
makes a mouthful of barbarian cavaliers," he added,
with a laugh, "should not be appalled by a breach of
etiquette, however serious."

And he led him towards the sideboard and pressed him to
partake of some refreshment.

"Upon my word," the Lieutenant reflected, "this is one
of the pleasantest fellows and, I do not doubt, one of
the most agreeable societies in London."

He partook of some champagne, which he found excellent;
and observing that many of the company were already
smoking, he lit one of his own Manillas, and strolled
up to the roulette board, where he sometimes made a
stake and sometimes looked on smilingly on the fortune
of others. It was while he was thus idling that he
became aware of a sharp scrutiny to which the whole of
the guests were subjected. Mr. Morris went here and
there, ostensibly busied on hospitable concerns; but he
had ever a shrewd glance at disposal; not a man of the
party escaped his sudden, searching looks; he took
stock of the bearing of heavy losers, he valued the
amount of the stakes, he paused behind couples who were
deep in conversation; and, in a word, there was hardly
a characteristic of any one present but he seemed to
catch and make a note of it. Brackenbury began to
wonder if this were indeed a gambling-hell: it had so
much the air of a private inquisition. He followed Mr.
Morris in all his movements; and although the man had a
ready smile, he seemed to perceive, as it were under a
mask, a haggard, care-worn, and preoccupied spirit.
The fellows around him laughed and made their game;
but Brackenbury had lost interest in the guests.

"This Morris," thought he, "is no idler in the room.
Some deep purpose inspires him; let it be mine to
fathom it."

Now and then Mr. Morris would call one of his visitors
aside; and after a brief colloquy in an anteroom he
would return alone, and the visitors in question
reappeared no more. After a certain number of
repetitions, this performance excited Brackenbury's
curiosity to a high degree. He determined to be at the
bottom of this minor mystery at once; and strolling
into the anteroom, found a deep window recess concealed
by curtains of the fashionable green. Here he hurriedly
ensconced himself; nor had he to wait long before the
sound of steps and voices drew near him from the
principal apartment. Peering through the division, he
saw Mr. Morris escorting a fat and ruddy personage,
with somewhat the look of a commercial traveller, whom
Brackenbury had already remarked for his coarse laugh
and underbred behaviour at the table. The pair halted
immediately before the window, so that Brackenbury lost
not a word of the following discourse:--

"I beg you a thousand pardons!" began Mr. Morris, with
the most conciliatory manner; "and, if I appear rude, I
am sure you will readily forgive me. In a place so
great as London accidents must continually happen; and
the best that we can hope is to remedy them with as
small delay as possible. I will not deny that I fear
you have made a mistake and honoured my poor house by
inadvertence; for, to speak openly, I cannot at all
remember your appearance. Let me put the question
without unnecessary circumlocution--between gentlemen
of honour a word will suffice--Under whose roof do you
suppose yourself to be?"

"That of Mr. Morris," replied the other, with a
prodigious display of confusion, which had been visibly
growing upon him throughout the last few words.

"Mr. John or Mr. James Morris?" inquired the host.

"I really cannot tell you," returned the unfortunate
guest. "I am not personally acquainted with the
gentleman, any more than I am with yourself."

"I see," said Mr. Morris. "There is another person of
the same name farther down the street; and I have no
doubt the policeman will be able to supply you with his
number. Believe me, I felicitate myself on the
misunderstanding which has procured me the pleasure of
your company for so long; and let me express a hope
that we may meet again upon a more regular footing.
Meantime, I would not for the world detain you longer
from your friends.--John," he added, raising his voice,
"will you see that this gentleman finds his greatcoat?"

And with the most agreeable air Mr. Morris escorted his
visitor as far as the anteroom door, where he left him
under conduct of the butler. As he passed the window,
on his return to the drawing-room, Brackenbury could
hear him utter a profound sigh, as though his mind was
loaded with a great anxiety, and his nerves already
fatigued with the task on which he was engaged.

For perhaps an hour the hansoms kept arriving with such
frequency that Mr. Morris had to receive a new guest
for every old one that he sent away, and the company
preserved its number undiminished. But towards the end
of that time the arrivals grew few and far between, and
at length ceased entirely, while the process of
elimination was continued with unimpaired activity. The
drawing-room began to look empty: the baccarat was
discontinued for lack of a banker; more than one person
said good-night of his own accord, and was suffered to
depart without expostulation; and in the meanwhile Mr.
Morris redoubled in agreeable attentions to those who
stayed behind. He went from group to group and from
person to person with looks of the readiest sympathy
and the most pertinent and pleasing talk; he was not so
much like a host as like a hostess, and there was a
feminine coquetry and condescension in his manner which
charmed the hearts of all.

As the guests grew thinner, Lieutenant Rich strolled
for a moment out of the drawing-room into the hall in
quest of fresher air. But he had no sooner passed the
threshold of the antechamber than he was brought to a
dead halt by a discovery of the most surprising nature.
The flowering shrubs had disappeared from the
staircase; three large furniture-waggons stood before
the garden gate; the servants were busy dismantling the
house upon all sides; and some of them had already
donned their great-coats and were preparing to depart.
It was like the end of a country ball, where everything
has been supplied by contract. Brackenbury had indeed
some matter for reflection. First, the guests, who were
no real guests after all, had been dismissed; and now
the servants, who could hardly be genuine servants,
were actively dispersing.

"Was the whole establishment a sham?" he asked himself,
"the mushroom of a single night which should disappear
before morning?"

Watching a favourable opportunity, Brackenbury dashed
upstairs to the higher regions of the house. It was as
he had expected. He ran from room to room, and saw not
a stick of furniture nor so much as a picture on the
walls. Although the house had been painted and papered,
it was not only uninhabited at present, but plainly had
never been inhabited at all. The young officer
remembered with astonishment its specious, settled, and
hospitable air on his arrival. It was only at a
prodigious cost that the imposture could have been
carried out upon so great a scale.

Who, then, was Mr. Morris? What was his intention in
thus playing the householder for a single night in the
remote west of London? And why did he collect his
visitors at hazard from the streets?

Brackenbury remembered that he had already delayed too
long, and hastened to join the company. Many had left
during his absence; and, counting the Lieutenant and
his host, there were not more than five persons in the
drawing-room--recently so thronged. Mr. Morris greeted
him, as he re-entered the apartment, with a smile, and
immediately rose to his feet.

"It is now time, gentlemen," said he, "to explain my
purpose in decoying you from your amusements. I trust
you did not find the evening hang very dully on your
hands; but my object, I will confess it, was not to
entertain your leisure, but to help myself in an
unfortunate necessity. You are all gentlemen," he
continued, "your appearance does you that much justice,
and I ask for no better security. Hence, I speak it
without concealment, I ask you to render me a dangerous
and delicate service; dangerous because you may run the
hazard of your lives, and delicate because I must ask
an absolute discretion upon all that you shall see or
hear. From an utter stranger the request is almost
comically extravagant; I am well aware of this; and I
would add at once if there be any one present who has
heard enough, if there be one among the party who
recoils from a dangerous confidence and a piece of
Quixotic devotion to he knows not whom--here is my hand
ready, and I shall wish him good-night and God-speed
with all the sincerity in the world."

A very tall, black man, with a heavy stoop, immediately
responded to this appeal.

"I commend your frankness, sir," said he; "and, for my
part, I go. I make no reflections; but I cannot deny
that you fill me with suspicious thoughts. I go myself,
as I say; and perhaps you will think I have no right to
add words to my example."

"On the contrary," replied Mr. Morris, "I am obliged to
you for all you say. It would be impossible to
exaggerate the gravity of my proposal."

"Well, gentlemen, what do you say?" said the tall man,
addressing the others. "We have had our evening's
frolic; shall we all go homeward peaceably in a body?
You will think well of my suggestion in the morning,
when you see the sun again in innocence and safety."

The speaker pronounced the last words with an
intonation which added to their force; and his face
wore a singular expression, full of gravity and
significance. Another of the company rose hastily, and
with some appearance of alarm prepared to take his
leave. There were only two who held their ground,
Brackenbury and an old red-nosed cavalry Major; but
these two preserved a nonchalant demeanour, and, beyond
a look of intelligence which they rapidly exchanged,
appeared entirely foreign to the discussion that had
just been terminated.

Mr. Morris conducted the deserters as far as the door,
which he closed upon their heels; then he turned round,
disclosing a countenance of mingled relief and
animation, and addressed the two officers as follows.

"I have chosen my men like Joshua in the Bible," said
Mr. Morris, "and I now believe I have the pick of
London. Your appearance pleased my hansom cabmen; then
it delighted me; I have watched your behaviour in a
strange company, and under the most unusual
circumstances: I have studied how you played and how
you bore your losses; lastly, I have put you to the
test of a staggering announcement, and you received it
like an invitation to dinner. It is not for nothing,"
he cried, "that I have been for years the companion and
the pupil of the bravest and wisest potentate in

"At the affair of Bunderchang," observed the Major, "I
asked for twelve volunteers, and every trooper in the
ranks replied to my appeal. But a gaming party is not
the same thing as a regiment under fire. You may be
pleased, I suppose, to have found two, and two who will
not fail you at a push. As for the pair who ran away, I
count them among the most pitiful hounds I ever met
with.--Lieutenant Rich," he added, addressing
Brackenbury, "I have heard much of you of late; and I
cannot doubt but you have also heard of me. I am Major

And the veteran tendered his hand, which was red and
tremulous, to the young Lieutenant

"Who has not?" answered Brackenbury.

"When this little matter is settled," said Mr. Morris,
"you will think I have sufficiently rewarded you; for I
could offer neither a more valuable service than to
make him acquainted with the other."

"And now," said Major O'Rooke, "is it a duel?"

"A duel after a fashion," replied Mr. Morris, "a duel
with unknown and dangerous enemies, and, as I gravely
fear, a duel to the death. I must ask you," he
continued, "to call me Morris no longer; call me, if
you please, Hammersmith; my real name, as well as that
of another person to whom I hope to present you before
long, you will gratify me by not asking, and not
seeking to discover for yourselves. Three days ago the
person of whom I speak disappeared suddenly from home;
and, until this morning, I received no hint of his
situation. You will fancy my alarm when I tell you that
he is engaged upon a work of private justice. Bound by
an unhappy oath, too lightly sworn, he finds it
necessary, without the help of law, to rid the earth of
an insidious and bloody villain. Already two of our
friends, and one of them my own born brother, have
perished in the enterprise. He himself, or I am much
deceived, is taken in the same fatal toils. But at
least he still lives and still hopes, as this billet
sufficiently proves."

And the speaker, no other than Colonel Geraldine,
proffered a letter, thus conceived:--


"MAJOR HAMMERSMITH,--On Wednesday at 3 A.M., you will
be admitted by the small door to the gardens of
Rochester House, Regent's Park, by a man who is
entirely in my interest. I must request you not to fail
me by a second. Pray bring my case of swords, and, if
you can find them, one or two - gentlemen of conduct
and discretion to whom my person is unknown. My name
must not be used in this affair.



"From his wisdom alone, if he had no other title,"
pursued Colonel Geraldine, when the others had each
satisfied his curiosity, "my friend is a man whose
directions should implicitly be followed. I need not
tell you, therefore, that I have not so much as visited
the neighbourhood of Rochester House; and that I am
still as wholly in the dark as either of yourselves as
to the nature of my friend's dilemma. I betook myself,
as soon as I had received this order, to a furnishing
contractor, and, in a few hours, the house in which we
now are had assumed its late air of festival. My scheme
was at least original; and I am far from regretting an
action which has procured me the services of Major
O'Rooke and Lieutenant Brackenbury Rich. But the
servants in the street will have a strange awakening.
The house which this evening was full of lights and
visitors they will find uninhabited and for sale to-
morrow morning. Thus even the most serious concerns,"
added the Colonel, "have a merry side."

"And let us add a merry ending," said Brackenbury.

The Colonel consulted his watch.

"It is now hard on two," he said. "We have an hour
before us, and a swift cab is at the door. Tell me if I
may count upon your help."

"During a long life," replied Major O'Rooke, "I never
took back my hand from anything, nor so much as hedged
a bet."

Brackenbury signified his readiness in the most
becoming terms; and after they had drunk a glass or two
of wine, the Colonel gave each of them a loaded
revolver, and the three mounted into the cab and drove
off for the address in question.

Rochester House was a magnificent residence on the
banks of the canal. The large extent of the garden
isolated it in an unusual degree from the annoyances of
neighbourhood. It seemed the _parc aux cerfs_ of some
great nobleman or millionaire. As far as could be seen
from the street, there was not a glimmer of light in
any of the numerous windows of the mansion; and the
place had a look of neglect, as though the master had
been long from home.

The cab was discharged, and the three gentlemen were
not long in discovering the small door, which was a
sort of postern in a lane between two garden walls. It
still wanted ten or fifteen minutes of the appointed
time; the rain fell heavily, and the adventurers
sheltered themselves below some pendent ivy, and spoke
in low tones of the approaching trial.

Suddenly Geraldine raised his finger to command
silence, and all three bent their hearing to the utmost
Through the continuous noise of the rain, the steps and
voices of two men became audible from the other side of
the wall; and, as they drew nearer, Brackenbury, whose
sense of hearing was remarkably acute, could even
distinguish some fragments of their talk.

"Is the grave dug?" asked one.

"It is," replied the other; "behind the laurel hedge.
When the job is done, we can cover it with a pile of

The first speaker laughed, and the sound of his
merriment was shocking to the listeners on the other

"In an hour from now," he said.

And by the sound of the steps it was obvious that the
pair had separated, and were proceeding in contrary

Almost immediately after the postern door was
cautiously opened, a white face was protruded into the
lane, and a hand was seen beckoning to the watchers. In
dead silence the three passed the door, which was
immediately locked behind them, and followed their
guide through several garden alleys to the kitchen
entrance of the house. A single candle burned in the
great paved kitchen, which was destitute of the
customary furniture; and as the party proceeded to
ascend from thence by a flight of winding stairs, a
prodigious noise of rats testified still more plainly
to the dilapidation of the house.

Their conductor preceded them, carrying the candle. He
was a lean man, much bent, but still agile; and he
turned from time to time and admonished silence and
caution by his gestures. Colonel Geraldine followed on
his heels, the case of swords under one arm, and a
pistol ready in the other. Brackenbury's heart beat
thickly. He perceived that they were still in time; but
he judged from the alacrity of the old man that the
hour of action must be near at hand; and the
circumstances of this adventure were so obscure and
menacing, the place seemed so well chosen for the
darkest acts, that an older man than Brackenbury might
have been pardoned a measure of emotion as he closed
the procession up the winding stair.

At the top the guide threw open a door and ushered the
three officers before him into a small apartment,
lighted by a smoky lamp and the glow of a modest fire.
At the chimney corner sat a man in the early prime of
life, and of a stout but courtly and commanding
appearance. His attitude and expression were those of
the most unmoved composure; he was smoking a cheroot
with much enjoyment and deliberation, and on a table by
his elbow stood a long glass of some effervescing
beverage which diffused an agreeable odour through the

"Welcome," said he, extending his hand to Colonel
Geraldine. "I knew I might count on your exactitude."

"On my devotion," replied the Colonel, with a bow.

"Present me to your friends," continued the first; and,
when that ceremony had been performed, "I wish,
gentlemen," he added, with the most exquisite
affability, "that I could offer you a more cheerful
programme; it is ungracious to inaugurate an
acquaintance upon serious affairs; but the compulsion
of events is stronger than the obligations of good-
fellowship. I hope and believe you will be able to
forgive me this unpleasant evening; and for men of your
stamp it will be enough to know that you are conferring
a considerable favour."

"Your Highness," said the Major, "must pardon my
bluntness. I am unable to hide what I know. For some
time back I have suspected Major Hammersmith, but Mr.
Godall is unmistakable. To seek two men in London
unacquainted with Prince Florizel of Bohemia was to ask
too much at Fortune's hands."

"Prince Florizel!" cried Brackenbury in amazement.

And he gazed with the deepest interest on the features
of the celebrated personage before him.

"I shall not lament the loss of my incognito," remarked
the Prince, "for it enables me to thank you with the
more authority. You would have done as much for Mr.
Godall, I feel sure, as for the Prince of Bohemia; but
the latter can perhaps do more for you. The gain is
mine," he added, with a courteous gesture.

And the next moment he was conversing with the two
officers about the Indian army and the native troops, a
subject on which, as on all others, he had a remarkable
fund of information and the soundest views.

There was something so striking in this man's attitude
at a moment of deadly peril that Brackenbury was
overcome with respectful admiration; nor was he less
sensible to the charm of his conversation or the
surprising amenity of his address. Every gesture, every
intonation, was not only noble in itself, but seemed to
ennoble the fortunate mortal for whom it was intended;
and Brackenbury confessed to himself with enthusiasm
that this was a sovereign for whom a brave man might
thankfully lay down his life.

Many minutes had thus passed, when the person who had
introduced them into the house, and who had sat ever
since in a corner, and with his watch in his hand,
arose and whispered a word into the Prince's ear.

"It is well, Doctor Noel," replied Florizel aloud; and
then addressing the others, "You will excuse me,
gentlemen," he added, "if I have to leave you in the
dark. The moment now approaches."

Dr. Noel extinguished the lamp. A faint, grey light,
premonitory of the dawn, illuminated the window, but
was not sufficient to illuminate the room; and when the
Prince rose to his feet, it was impossible to
distinguish his features or to make a guess at the
nature of the emotion which obviously affected him as
he spoke. He moved towards the door, and placed himself
at one side of it in an attitude of the wariest

"You will have the kindness," he said, "to maintain the
strictest silence, and to conceal yourselves in the
densest of the shadow."

The three officers and the physician hastened to obey,
and for nearly ten minutes the only sound in Rochester
House was occasioned by the excursions of the rats
behind the woodwork. At the end of that period, a loud
creak of a hinge broke in with surprising distinctness
on the silence; and shortly after, the watchers could
distinguish a slow and cautious tread approaching up
the kitchen stair. At every second step the intruder
seemed to pause and lend an ear, and during these
intervals, which seemed of an incalculable duration, a
profound disquiet possessed the spirit of the
listeners. Dr. Noel, accustomed as he was to dangerous
emotions, suffered an almost pitiful physical
prostration; his breath whistled in his lungs, his
teeth grated one upon another, and his joints cracked
aloud as he nervously shifted his position.

At last a hand was laid upon the door, and the bolt
shot back with a slight report. There followed another
pause, during which Brackenbury could see the Prince
draw himself together noiselessly as if for some
unusual exertion. Then the door opened, letting in a
little more of the light of the morning; and the figure
of a man appeared upon the threshold and stood
motionless. He was tall, and carried a knife in his
hand. Even in the twilight they could see his upper
teeth bare and glistening, for his mouth was open like
that of a hound about to leap. The man had evidently
been over the head in water but a minute or two before;
and even while he stood there the drops kept falling
from his wet clothes and pattered on the floor.

The next moment he crossed the threshold. There was a
leap, a stifled cry, an instantaneous struggle; and
before Colonel Geraldine could spring to his aid, the
Prince held the man, disarmed and helpless, by the

"Doctor Noel," he said, "you will be so good as to
relight the lamp."

And relinquishing the charge of his prisoner to
Geraldine and Brackenbury, he crossed the room and set
his back against the chimney-piece. As soon as the lamp
had kindled, the party beheld an unaccustomed sternness
on the Prince's features. It was no longer Florizel,
the careless gentleman; it was the Prince of Bohemia,
justly incensed and full of deadly purpose, who now
raised his head and addressed the captive President of
the Suicide Club.

"President," he said, "you have laid your last snare,
and your own feet are taken in it. The day is
beginning; it is your last morning. You have just swum
the Regent's Canal; it is your last bathe in this
world. Your old accomplice, Doctor Noel, so far from
betraying me, has delivered you into my hands for
judgment. And the grave you had dug for me this
afternoon shall serve, in God's almighty providence, to
hide your own just doom from the curiosity of mankind.
Kneel and pray, sir, if you have a mind that way; for
your time is short, and God is weary of your

The President made no answer either by word or sign;
but continued to hang his head and gaze sullenly on the
floor, as though he were conscious of the Prince's
prolonged and unsparing regard.

"Gentlemen," continued Florizel, resuming the ordinary
tone of his conversation, "this is a fellow who has
long eluded me, but whom, thanks to Doctor Noel, I now
have tightly by the heels. To tell the story of his
misdeeds would occupy more time than we can now afford;
but if the canal had contained nothing but the blood of
his victims, I believe the wretch would have been no
drier than you see him. Even in an affair of this sort
I desire to preserve the forms of honour. But I make
you the judges, gentlemen--this is more an execution
than a duel; and to give the rogue his choice of
weapons would be to push too far a point of etiquette.
I cannot afford to lose my life in such a business," he
continued, unlocking the case of swords; "and as a
pistol-bullet travels so often on the wings of chance,
and skill and courage may fall by the most trembling
marksman, I have decided, and I feel sure you will
approve my determination, to put this question to the
touch of swords."

When Brackenbury and Major O'Rooke, to whom these
remarks were particularly addressed, had each intimated
his approval, "Quick, sir," added Prince Florizel to
the President, "choose a blade and do not keep me
waiting; I have an impatience to be done with you for

For the first time since he was captured and disarmed
the President raised his head, and it was plain that he
began instantly to pluck up courage.

"Is it to be stand up?" he asked eagerly, "and between
you and me?"

"I mean so far to honour you," replied the Prince.

"Oh, come!" cried the President. "With a fair field,
who knows how things may happen? I must add that I
consider it handsome behaviour on your Highness's part;
and if the worst comes to the worst I shall die by one
of the most gallant gentlemen in Europe."

And the President, liberated by those who had detained
him, stepped up to the table and began, with minute
attention, to select a sword. He was highly elated, and
seemed to feel no doubt that he should issue victorious
from the contest. The spectators grew alarmed in the
face of so entire a confidence, and adjured Prince
Florizel to reconsider his intention.

"It is but a farce," he answered; "and I think I can
promise you, gentlemen, that it will not be long a-

"Your Highness will be careful not to overreach," said
Colonel Geraldine.

"Geraldine," returned the Prince, "did you ever know me
fail in a debt of honour? I owe you this man's death,
and you shall have it."

The President at last satisfied himself with one of the
rapiers, and signified his readiness by a gesture that
was not devoid of a rude nobility. The nearness of
peril, and the sense of courage, even to this obnoxious
villain, lent an air of manhood and a certain grace.

The Prince helped himself at random to a sword.

"Colonel Geraldine and Doctor Noel," he said, "will
have the goodness to await me in this room. I wish no
personal friend of mine to be involved in this
transaction. Major O'Rooke, you are a man of some years
and a settled reputation--let me recommend the
President to your good graces. Lieutenant Rich will be
so good as lend me his attentions: a young man cannot
have too much experience in such affairs."

"Your Highness," replied Brackenbury, "it is an honour
I shall prize extremely."

"It is well," returned Prince Florizel; "I shall hope
to stand your friend in more important circumstances."

And so saying he led the way out of the apartment and
down the kitchen stairs.

The two men who were thus left alone threw open the
window and leaned out, straining every sense to catch
an indication of the tragical events that were about to
follow. The rain was now over; day had almost come, and
the birds were piping in the shrubbery and on the
forest-trees of the garden. The Prince and his
companions were visible for a moment as they followed
an alley between two flowering thickets; but at the
first corner a clump of foliage intervened, and they
were again concealed from view. This was all that the
Colonel and the Physician had an opportunity to see,
and the garden was so vast, and the place of combat
evidently so remote from the house, that not even the
noise of sword-play reached their ears.

"He has taken him towards the grave," said Dr. Noel,
with a shudder.

"God," cried the Colonel, "God defend the right!"

And they awaited the event in silence, the Doctor
shaking with fear, the Colonel in an agony of sweat.
Many minutes must have elapsed, the day was sensibly
broader, and the birds were singing more heartily in
the garden before a sound of returning footsteps
recalled their glances towards the door. It was the
Prince and the two Indian officers who entered. God had
defended the right.

"I am ashamed of my emotion," said Prince Florizel; "I
feel it is a weakness unworthy of my station, but the
continued existence of that hound of hell had begun to
prey upon me like a disease, and his death has more
refreshed me than a night of slumber. Look, Geraldine,"
he continued, throwing his sword upon the floor, "there
is the blood of the man who killed your brother. It
should be a welcome sight. And yet," he added, "see how
strangely we men are made! my revenge is not yet five
minutes old, and already I am beginning to ask myself
if even revenge be attainable on this precarious stage
of life. The ill he did, who can undo it? The career in
which he amassed a huge fortune (for the house itself
in which we stand belonged to him)--that career is now
a part of the destiny of mankind for ever; and I might
weary myself making thrusts in carte until the crack of
judgment, and Geraldine's brother would be none the
less dead, and a thousand other innocent persons would
be none the less dishonoured and debauched! The
existence of a man is so small a thing to take, so
mighty a thing to employ! Alas!" he cried, "is there
anything in life so disenchanting as attainment?"

"God's justice has been done," replied the Doctor. "So
much I behold. The lesson, your Highness, has been a
cruel one for me; and I await my own turn with deadly

"What was I saying?" cried the Prince. "I have
punished, and here is the man beside us who can help me
to undo. Ah, Doctor Noel! you and I have before us many
a day of hard and honourable toil; and perhaps, before
we have done, you may have more than redeemed your
early errors."

"And in the meantime," said the Doctor, "let me go and
bury my oldest friend."



And this (observes the erudite Arabian) is the
fortunate conclusion of the tale. The Prince, it is
superfluous to mention, forgot none of those who served
him in this great exploit; and to this day his
authority and influence help them forward in their
public career, while his condescending friendship adds
a charm to their private life. To collect, continues my
author, all the strange events in which this Prince has
played the part of Providence were to fill the
habitable globe with books. But the stories which
relate to the fortunes of THE RAJAH'S DIAMOND are of
too entertaining a description, says he, to be omitted.
Following prudently in the footsteps of this Oriental,
we shall now begin the series to which he refers with










UP to the age of sixteen, at a private school, and
afterwards at one of those great institutions for which
England is justly famous, Mr. Harry Hartley had
received the ordinary education of a gentleman. At that
period he manifested a remarkable distaste for study;
and his only surviving parent being both weak and
ignorant, he was permitted thenceforward to spend his
time in the attainment of petty and purely elegant
accomplishments. Two years later, he was left an
orphan, and almost a beggar. For all active and
industrious pursuits, Harry was unfitted alike by
nature and training. He could sing romantic ditties,
and accompany himself with discretion on the piano; he
was a graceful although a timid cavalier; he had a
pronounced taste for chess; and nature had sent him
into the world with one of the most engaging exteriors
that can well be fancied. Blond and pink, with dove's
eyes and a gentle smile, he had an air of agreeable
tenderness and melancholy, and the most submissive and
caressing manners. But when all is said, he was not the
man to lead armaments of war or direct the councils of
a State.

A fortunate chance and some influence obtained for
Harry, at the time of his bereavement, the position of
private secretary to Major-General Sir Thomas
Vandeleur, C.B. Sir Thomas was a man of sixty, loud-
spoken, boisterous, and domineering. For some reason,
some service the nature of which had been often
whispered and repeatedly denied, the Rajah of Kashgar
had presented this officer with the sixth known diamond
of the world. The gift transformed General Vandeleur
from a poor into a wealthy man, from an obscure and
unpopular soldier into one of the lions of London
society; the possessor of the Rajah's Diamond was
welcome in the most exclusive circles; and he had found
a lady, young, beautiful, and well-born, who was
willing to call the diamond hers even at the price of
marriage with Sir Thomas Vandeleur. It was commonly
said at the time that, as like draws to like, one jewel
had attracted another; certainly Lady Vandeleur was not
only a gem of the finest water in her own person, but
she showed her self to the world in a very costly
setting; and she was considered by many respectable
authorities as one among the three or four best-dressed
women in England.

Harry's duty as secretary was not particularly onerous;
but he had a dislike for all prolonged work; it gave
him pain to ink his fingers; and the charms of Lady
Vandeleur and her toilettes drew him often from the
library to the boudoir. He had the prettiest ways among
women, could talk fashions with enjoyment, and was
never more happy than when criticising a shade of
ribbon or running on an errand to the milliner's. In
short, Sir Thomas's correspondence fell into pitiful
arrears, and my Lady had another lady's-maid.

At last the General, who was one of the least patient
of military commanders, arose from his place in a
violent access of passion, and indicated to his
secretary that he had no further need for his services,
with one of those explanatory gestures which are most
rarely employed between gentlemen. The door being
unfortunately open, Mr. Hartley fell downstairs head-

He arose somewhat hurt and very deeply aggrieved. The
life in the General's house precisely suited him; he
moved, on a more or less doubtful footing, in very
genteel company, he did little, he ate of the best, and
he had a lukewarm satisfaction in the presence of Lady
Vandeleur, which, in his own heart, he dubbed by a more
emphatic name.

Immediately after he had been outraged by the military
foot, he hurried to the boudoir and recounted his

"You know very well, my dear Harry," replied Lady
Vandeleur, for she called him by name like a child or a
domestic servant, "that you never by any chance do what
the General tells you. No more do I, you may say. But
that is different. A woman can earn her pardon for a
good year of disobedience by a single adroit
submission; and, besides, no one is married to his
private secretary. I shall be sorry to lose you; but
since you cannot stay longer in a house where you have
been insulted, l shall wish you good-bye, and I promise
you to make the General smart for his behaviour."

Harry's countenance fell; tears came into his eyes, and
he gazed on Lady Vandeleur with a tender reproach.

"My Lady," said he, "what is an insult? I should think
little indeed of any one who could not forgive them by
the score. But to leave one's friends; to tear up the
bonds of affection--"

He was unable to continue, for his emotion choked him,
and he began to weep.

Lady Vandeleur looked at him with a curious expression.

"This little fool," she thought, "imagines himself to
be in love with me. Why should he not become my servant
instead of the General's? He is good-natured, obliging,
and understands dress; and besides, it will keep him
out of mischief. He is positively too pretty to be

That night she talked over the General, who was already
somewhat ashamed of his vivacity; and Harry was
transferred to the feminine department, where his life
was little short of heavenly. He was always dressed
with uncommon nicety, wore delicate flowers in his
button-hole, and could entertain a visitor with tact
and pleasantry. He took a pride in servility to a
beautiful woman; received Lady Vandeleur's commands as
so many marks of favour; and was pleased to exhibit
himself before other men, who derided and despised him,
in his character of male lady's-maid and man-milliner.
Nor could he think enough of his existence from a moral
point of view. Wickedness seemed to him an essentially
male attribute, and to pass one's days with a delicate
woman, and principally occupied about trimmings, was to
inhabit an enchanted isle among the storms of life.

One fine morning he came into the drawing-room and
began to arrange some music on the top of the piano.
Lady Vandeleur, at the other end of the apartment, was
speaking somewhat eagerly with her brother, Charlie
Pendragon, an elderly young man, much broken with
dissipation, and very lame of one foot. The private
secretary, to whose entrance they paid no regard, could
not avoid overhearing a part of their conversation.

"To-day or never," said the lady. "Once and for all, it
shall be done to-day."

"To-day, if it must be," replied the brother, with a
sigh. "But it is a false step, a ruinous step, Clara;
and we shall live to repent it dismally."

Lady Vandeleur looked her brother steadily and somewhat
strangely in the face.

"You forget," she said; "the man must die at last."

"Upon my word, Clara," said Pendragon, "I believe you
are the most heartless rascal in England."

"You men," she returned, "are so coarsely built, that
you can never appreciate a shade of meaning. You are
yourselves rapacious, violent, immodest, careless of
distinction; and yet the least thought for the future
shocks you in a woman. I have no patience with such
stuff. You would despise in a common banker the
imbecility that you expect to find in us."

"You are very likely right," replied her brother; "you
were always cleverer than I. And, anyway, you know my
motto: The family before all."

"Yes, Charlie," she returned, taking his hand in hers,
"I know your motto better than you know it yourself
"And Clara before the family!" Is not that the second
part of it? Indeed, you are the best of brothers, and I
love you dearly."

Mr. Pendragon got up, looking a little confused by
these family endearments.

"I had better not be seen," said he. "I understand my
part to a miracle, and I'll keep an eye on the Tame

"Do," she replied. "He is an abject creature, and might
ruin all."

She kissed the tips of her fingers to him daintily; and
the brother withdrew by the boudoir and the back stair.

"Harry," said Lady Vandeleur, turning towards the
secretary as soon as they were alone, "I have a
commission for you this morning. But you shall take a
cab; I cannot have my secretary freckled."

She spoke the last words with emphasis and a look of
half motherly pride that caused great contentment to
poor Harry; and he professed himself charmed to find an
opportunity of serving her.

"It is another of our great secrets," she went on
archly, "and no one must know of it but my secretary
and me. Sir Thomas would make the saddest disturbance;
and if you only knew how weary I am of these scenes!
O Harry, Harry, can you explain to me what makes you men
so violent and unjust? But, indeed, I know you cannot;
you are the only man in the world who knows nothing of
these shameful passions; you are so good, Harry, and so
kind; you, at least, can be a woman's friend; and, do
you know? I think you make the others more ugly by

"It is you," said Harry gallantly, "who are so kind to
me. You treat me like----"

"Like a mother," interposed Lady Vandeleur; "I try to
be a mother to you. Or at least," she corrected herself
with a smile, "almost a mother. I am afraid I am too
young to be your mother really. Let us say a friend--a
dear friend."

She paused long enough to let her words take effect in
Harry's sentimental quarters, but not long enough to
allow him a reply.

"But all this is beside our purpose," she resumed.
"You will find a bandbox in the left-hand side of the oak
wardrobe; it is underneath the pink slip that I wore on
Wednesday with my Mechlin. You will take it immediately
to this address," and she gave him a paper, "but do
not, on any account, let it out of your hands until you
have received a receipt written by myself. Do you
understand? Answer, if you please--answer! This is
extremely important, and I must ask you to pay some

Harry pacified her by repeating her instructions
perfectly; and she was just going to tell him more when
General Vandeleur flung into the apartment, scarlet
with anger, and holding a long and elaborate milliner's
bill in his hand.

"Will you look at this, madam?" cried he. "Will you
have the goodness to look at this document? I know well
enough you married me for my money, and I hope I can
make as great allowances as any other man in the
service; but, as sure as God made me, I mean to put a
period to this disreputable prodigality."

"Mr. Hartley," said Lady Vandeleur, "I think you
understand what you have to do. May I ask you to see to
it at once?"

"Stop," said the General, addressing Harry, "one word
before you go." And then, turning again to Lady
Vandeleur, "What is this precious fellow's errand?" he
demanded. "I trust him no further than I do yourself,
let me tell you. If he had as much as the rudiments of
honesty he would scorn to stay in this house; and what
he does for his wages is a mystery to all the world.
What is his errand, madam? and why are you hurrying him

"I supposed you had something to say to me in private,"
replied the lady.

"You spoke about an errand," insisted the General.
"Do not attempt to deceive me in my present state of
temper. You certainly spoke about an errand."

"If you insist on making your servants privy to our
humiliating dissensions," replied Lady Vandeleur,
"perhaps I had better ask Mr. Hartley to sit down. No?"
she continued; "then you may go, Mr. Hartley. I trust
you may remember all that you have heard in this room;
it may be useful to you."

Harry at once made his escape from the drawing room;
and as he ran upstairs he could hear the General's
voice upraised in declamation, and the thin tones of
Lady Vandeleur planting icy repartees at every opening.
How cordially he admired the wife! How skilfully she
could evade an awkward question! with what secure
effrontery she repeated her instructions under the very
guns of the enemy! and on the other hand, how he
detested the husband!

There had been nothing unfamiliar in the morning's
events, for he was continually in the habit of serving
Lady Vandeleur on secret missions, principally
connected with millinery. There was a skeleton in the
house, as he well knew. The bottomless extravagance and
the unknown liabilities of the wife had long since
swallowed her own fortune, and threatened day by day to
engulf that of the husband. Once or twice in every year
exposure and ruin seemed imminent, and Harry kept
trotting round to all sorts of furnishers' shops,
telling small fibs, and paying small advances on the
gross amount, until another term was tided over, and
the lady and her faithful secretary breathed again.
For Harry, in a double capacity, was heart and soul upon
that side of the war; not only did he adore Lady
Vandeleur and fear and dislike her husband, but he
naturally sympathised with the love of finery, and his
own single extravagance was at the tailor's.

He found the bandbox where it had been described,
arranged his toilette with care, and left the house.
The sun shone brightly; the distance he had to travel
was considerable, and he remembered with dismay that
the General's sudden irruption had prevented Lady
Vandeleur from giving him money for a cab. On this
sultry day there was every chance that his complexion
would suffer severely; and to walk through so much of
London with a bandbox on his arm was a humiliation
almost insupportable to a youth of his character. He
paused, and took counsel with himself. The Vandeleurs
lived in Eaton Place; his destination was near Noffing
Hill; plainly, he might cross the Park by keeping well
in the open and avoiding populous alleys; and he
thanked his stars when he reflected that it was still
comparatively early in the day.

Anxious to be rid of his incubus, he walked somewhat
faster than his ordinary, and he was already some way
through Kensington Gardens when, in a solitary spot
among trees, he found himself confronted by the

"I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas," observed Harry,
politely falling on one side; for the other stood
directly in his path.

"Where are you going, sir?" asked the General.

"I am taking a little walk among the trees," replied
the lad.

The General struck the bandbox with his cane.

"With that thing?" he cried; "you lie, sir, and you
know you lie!"

"Indeed, Sir Thomas," returned Harry, "I am not
accustomed to be questioned in so high a key."

"You do not understand your position," said the
General. "You are my servant, and a servant of whom I
have conceived the most serious suspicions. How do I
know but that your box is full of teaspoons?"

"It contains a silk hat belonging to a friend," said

"Very well," replied General Vandeleur. "Then I want to
see your friend's silk hat. I have," he added grimly,
"a singular curiosity for hats; and I believe you know
me to be somewhat positive."

"I beg your pardon, Sir Thomas; I am exceedingly
grieved," Harry apologised; "but indeed this is a
private affair."

The General caught him roughly by the shoulder with one
hand, while he raised his cane in the most menacing
manner with the other. Harry gave himself up for lost;
but at the same moment Heaven vouchsafed him an
unexpected defender in the person of Charlie Pendragon,
who now strode forward from behind the trees.

"Come, come, General, hold your hand," said he; "this
is neither courteous nor manly."

"Aha!" cried the General, wheeling round upon his new
antagonist, "Mr. Pendragon! And do you suppose, Mr.
Pendragon, that because I have had the misfortune to
marry your sister, I shall suffer myself to be dogged
and thwarted by a discredited and bankrupt libertine
like you? My acquaintance with Lady Vandeleur, sir, has
taken away all my appetite for the other members of her

"And do you fancy, General Vandeleur," retorted
Charlie, "that because my sister has had the misfortune
to marry you, she there and then forfeited her rights
and privileges as a lady? I own, sir, that by that
action she did as much as anybody could to derogate
from her position; but to me she is still a Pendragon.
I make it my business to protect her from ungentlemanly
outrage, and if you were ten times her husband I would
not permit her liberty to be restrained, nor her
private messengers to be violently arrested."

"How is that, Mr. Hartley?" interrogated the General.
"Mr. Pendragon is of my opinion, it appears. He too
suspects that Lady Vandeleur has something to do with
your friend's silk hat."

Charlie saw that he had committed an unpardonable
blunder, which he hastened to repair.

"How, sir?" he cried; "I suspect, do you say? suspect
nothing. Only where I find strength abused and a man
brutalising his inferiors, I take the liberty to

As he said these words he made a sign to Harry, which
the latter was too dull or too much troubled to

"In what way am I to construe your attitude, sir?"
demanded Vandeleur.

"Why, sir, as you please," returned Pendragon.

The General once more raised his cane, and made a cut
for Charlie's head; but the latter, lame foot and all,
evaded the blow with his umbrella, ran in, and
immediately closed with his formidable adversary.

"Run, Harry, run!" he cried; "run, you dolt!"

Harry stood petrified for a moment, watching the two
men sway together in this fierce embrace; then he
turned and took to his heels. When he cast a glance
over his shoulder he saw the General prostrate under
Charlie's knee, but still making desperate efforts to
reverse the situation; and the Gardens seemed to have
filled with people, who were running from all
directions towards the scene of fight. This spectacle
lent the secretary wings; and he did not relax his pace
until he had gained the Bayswater Road, and plunged at
random into an unfrequented by-street.

To see two gentlemen of his acquaintance thus brutally
mauling each other was deeply shocking to Harry. He
desired to forget the sight; he desired, above all, to
put as great a distance as possible between himself and
General Vandeleur; and in his eagerness for this he
forgot everything about his destination, and hurried
before him headlong and trembling. When he remembered
that Lady Vandeleur was the wife of one and the sister
of the other of these gladiators, his heart was touched
with sympathy for a woman so distressingly misplaced in
life. Even his own situation in the General's household
looked hardly so pleasing as usual in the light of
these violent transactions.

He had walked some little distance, busied with these
meditations, before a slight collision with another
passenger reminded him of the bandbox on his arm.

"Heavens!" cried he, "where was my head? and whither
have I wandered?"

Thereupon he consulted the envelope which Lady
Vandeleur had given him. The address was there, but
without a name. Harry was simply directed to ask for
"the gentleman who expected a parcel from Lady
Vandeleur," and if he were not at home to await his
return. The gentleman, added the note, should present a
receipt in the handwriting of the lady herself. All
this seemed mightily mysterious, and Harry was above
all astonished at the omission of the name and the
formality of the receipt. He had thought little of this
last when he heard it dropped in conversation; but
reading it in cold blood, and taking it in connection
with the other strange particulars, he became convinced
that he was engaged in perilous affairs. For half a
moment he had a doubt of Lady Vandeleur herself; for he
found these obscure proceedings somewhat unworthy of so
high a lady, and became more critical when her secrets
were preserved against himself. But her empire over his
spirit was too complete, he dismissed his suspicions,
and blamed himself roundly for having so much as
entertained them.

In one thing, however, his duty and interest, his
generosity and his terrors, coincided--to get rid of
the bandbox with the greatest possible despatch.

He accosted the first policeman and courteously
inquired his way. It turned out that he was already not
far from his destination, and a walk of a few minutes
brought him to a small house in a lane, freshly
painted, and kept with the most scrupulous attention.
The knocker and bell-pull were highly polished:
flowering pot-herbs garnished the sills of the
different windows; and curtains of some rich material
concealed the interior from the eyes of curious
passengers. The place had an air of repose and secrecy;
and Harry was so far caught with this spirit that he
knocked with more than usual discretion, and was more
than usually careful to remove all impurity from his

A servant-maid of some personal attractions immediately
opened the door, and seemed to regard the secretary
with no unkind eyes.

"This is the parcel from Lady Vandeleur," said Harry.

"I know," replied the maid, with a nod. "But the
gentleman is from home. Will you leave it with me?"

"I cannot," answered Harry. "I am directed not to part
with it but upon a certain condition, and I must ask
you, I am afraid, to let me wait."

"Well," said she, "I suppose I may let you wait. I am
lonely enough, I can tell you, and you do not look as
though you would eat a girl. But be sure and do not ask
the gentleman's name, for that I am not to tell you."

"Do you say so?" cried Harry. "Why, how strange! But
indeed for some time back I walk among surprises. One
question I think I may surely ask without indiscretion:
Is he the master of this house?"

"He is a lodger, and not eight days old at that,"
returned the maid. "And now a question for a question:
Do you know Lady Vandeleur?"

"I am her private secretary," replied Harry, with a
glow of modest pride.

"She is pretty, is she not?" pursued the servant.

"Oh, beautiful!" cried Harry; "wonderfully lovely, and
not less good and kind!"

"You look kind enough yourself," she retorted; "and I
wager you are worth a dozen Lady Vandeleurs."

Harry was properly scandalised.

"I!" he cried. "I am only a secretary!"

"Do you mean that for me?" said the girl. "Because I am
only a housemaid, if you please." And then, relenting
at the sight of Harry's obvious confusion, "I know you
mean nothing of the sort," she added; "and I like your
looks; but I think nothing of your Lady Vandeleur. O
these mistresses!" she cried. "To send out a real
gentleman like you--with a bandbox--in broad day!"

During this talk they had remained in their original
positions--she on the doorstep, he on the sidewalk,
bare-headed for the sake of coolness, and with the
bandbox on his arm. But upon this last speech, Harry,
who was unable to support such point-blank compliments
to his appearance, nor the encouraging look with which
they were accompanied, began to change his attitude,
and glance from left to right in perturbation. In so
doing he turned his face towards the lower end of the
lane, and there, to his indescribable dismay, his eyes
encountered those of General Vandeleur. The General, in
a prodigious fluster of heat, hurry, and indignation,
had been scouring the streets in chase of his brother-
in-law; but so soon as he caught a glimpse of the
delinquent secretary, his purpose changed, his anger
flowed into a new channel, and he turned on his heel
and came tearing up the lane with truculent gestures
and vociferations.

Harry made but one bolt of it into the house, driving
the maid before him; and the door was slammed in his
pursuer's countenance.

"Is there a bar? Will it lock?" asked Harry, while a
salvo on the knocker made the house echo from wall to

"Why, what is wrong with you?" asked the maid. "Is it
this old gentleman?"

"If he gets hold of me," whispered Harry, "I am as good
as dead. He has been pursuing me all day, carries a
sword-stick, and is an Indian military officer."

"These are fine manners," cried the maid. "And what, if
you please, may be his name?"

"It is the General, my master," answered Harry. "He is
after this bandbox."

"Did not I tell you?" cried the maid in triumph.
"I told you I thought worse than nothing of your Lady
Vandeleur, and if you had an eye in your head you might
see what she is for yourself. An ungrateful minx, I
will be bound for that!"

The General renewed his attack upon the knocker, and
his passion growing with delay, began to kick and beat
upon the panels of the door.

"It is lucky," observed the girl, "that I am alone in
the house: your General may hammer until he is weary,
and there is none to open for him. Follow me!"

So saying she led Harry into the kitchen, where she
made him sit down, and stood by him herself in an
affectionate attitude, with a hand upon his shoulder.
The din at the door, so far from abating, continued to
increase in volume, and at each blow the unhappy
secretary was shaken to the heart.

"What is your name?" asked the girl.

"Harry Hartley," he replied.

"Mine," she went on, "is Prudence. Do you like it?"

"Very much," said Harry. "But hear for a moment how the
General beats upon the door. He will certainly break it
in, and then, in heaven's name, what have I to look for
but death?"

"You put yourself very much about with no occasion,"
answered Prudence. "Let your General knock, he will do
no more than blister his hands. Do you think I would
keep you here if I were not sure to save you? Oh no, I
am a good friend to those that please me! and we have a
back door upon another lane. But," she added, checking
him, for he had got upon his feet immediately on this
welcome news, "but I will not show where it is unless
you kiss me. Will you, Harry?"

"That I will," he cried, remembering his gallantry,
"not for your back door, but because you are good and

And he administered two or three cordial salutes, which
were returned to him in kind.

Then Prudence led him to the back gate, and put her
hand upon the key.

"Will you come and see me?" she asked.

"I will indeed," said Harry. "Do not I owe you my

"And now," she added, opening the door, "run as hard as
you can, for I shall let in the General."

Harry scarcely required this advice; fear had him by
the forelock; and he addressed himself diligently to
flight. A few steps, and he believed he would escape
from his trials, and return to Lady Vandeleur in honour
and safety. But these few steps had not been taken
before he heard a man's voice hailing him by name with
many execrations, and, looking over his shoulder, he
beheld Charlie Pendragon waving him with both arms to
return. The shock of this new incident was so sudden
and profound, and Harry was already worked into so high
a state of nervous tension, that he could think of
nothing better than to accelerate his pace and continue
running. He should certainly have remembered the scene
in Kensington Gardens; he should certainly have
concluded that, where the General was his enemy,
Charlie Pendragon could be no other than a friend. But
such was the fever and perturbation of his mind that he
was struck by none of these considerations, and only
continued to run the faster up the lane.

Charlie, by the sound of his voice and the vile terms
that he hurled after the secretary, was obviously
beside himself with rage. He, too, ran his very best;
but, try as he might, the physical advantages were not
upon his side, and his outcries and the fall of his
lame foot on the macadam began to fall farther and
farther into the wake.

Harry's hopes began once more to arise. The lane was
both steep and narrow, but it was exceedingly solitary,
bordered on either hand by garden walls, overhung with
foliage; and, for as far as the fugitive could see in
front of him, there was neither a creature moving nor
an open door. Providence, weary of persecution, was now
offering him an open field for his escape.

Alas! as he came abreast of a garden door under a tuft
of chestnuts, it was suddenly drawn back, and he could
see inside, upon a garden path, the figure of a
butcher's boy with his tray upon his arm. He had hardly
recognised the fact before he was some steps beyond
upon the other side. But the fellow had had time to
observe him; he was evidently much surprised to see a
gentleman go by at so unusual a pace; and he came out
into the lane and began to call after Harry with shouts
of ironical encouragement.

His appearance gave a new idea to Charlie Pendragon,
who, although he was now sadly out of breath, once more
upraised his voice.

"Stop, thief!" he cried.

And immediately the butcher's boy had taken up the cry
and joined in the pursuit.

This was a bitter moment for the hunted secretary.
It is true that his terror enabled him once more to
improve his pace, and gain with every step on his
pursuers; but he was well aware that he was near the
end of his resources, and should he meet any one coming
the other way, his predicament in the narrow lane would
be desperate indeed.

"I must find a place of concealment," he thought, "and
that within the next few seconds, or all is over with
me in this world."

Scarcely had the thought crossed his mind than the lane
took a sudden turning, and he found himself hidden from
his enemies. There are circumstances in which even the
least energetic of mankind learn to behave with vigour
and decision, and the most cautious forget their
prudence and embrace foolhardy resolutions. This was
one of those occasions for Harry Hartley; and those who
knew him best would have been the most astonished at
the lad's audacity. He stopped dead, flung the bandbox
over a garden wall, and leaping upward with incredible
agility, and seizing the copestone with his hands, he
tumbled headlong after it into the garden.

He came to himself a moment afterwards, seated in a
border of small rose-bushes. His hands and knees were
cut and bleeding, for the wall had been protected
against such an escalade by a liberal provision of old
bottles; and he was conscious of a general dislocation
and a painful swimming in the head. Facing him across
the garden, which was in admirable order, and set with
flowers of the most delicious perfume, he beheld the
back of a house. It was of considerable extent, and
plainly habitable; but, in odd contrast to the grounds,
it was crazy, ill-kept, and of a mean appearance. On
all other sides the circuit of the garden wall appeared

He took in these features of the scene with mechanical
glances, but his mind was still unable to piece
together or draw a rational conclusion from what he
saw. And when he heard footsteps advancing on the
gravel, although he turned his eyes in that direction,
it was with no thought either for defence or flight.

The newcomer was a large, coarse, and very sordid
personage, in gardening clothes, and with a watering-
pot in his left hand. One less confused would have been
affected with some alarm at the sight of this man's
huge proportions and black and lowering eyes. But Harry
was too gravely shaken by his fall to be so much as
terrified; and if he was unable to divert his glances
from the gardener, he remained absolutely passive, and
suffered him to draw near, to take him by the shoulder,
and to plant him roughly on his feet, without a motion
of resistance.

For a moment the two stared into each other's eyes,
Harry fascinated, the man filled with wrath and a
cruel, sneering humour.

"Who are you?" he demanded at last. "Who are you to
come flying over my wall and break my Gloire de Dijons?
What is your name?" he added, shaking him; "and what
may be your business here?"

Harry could not as much as proffer a word in

But just at that moment Pendragon and the butcher's boy
went clumping past, and the sound of their feet and
their hoarse cries echoed loudly in the narrow lane.
The gardener had received his answer; and he looked
down into Harry's face with an obnoxious smile.

"A thief!" he said. "Upon my word, and a very good
thing you must make of it; for I see you dressed like a
gentleman from top to toe. Are you not ashamed to go
about the world in such a trim, with honest folk, I
daresay, glad to buy your cast-off finery second-hand?
Speak up, you dog," the man went on; "you can
understand English, I suppose; and I mean to have a bit
of talk with you before I march you to the station."

"Indeed, sir," said Harry, "this is all a dreadful
misconception; and if you will go with me to Sir Thomas
Vandeleur's in Eaton Place, I can promise that all will
be made plain. The most upright person, as I now
perceive, can be led into suspicious positions."

"My little man," replied the gardener, "I will go with
you no farther than the station-house in the next
street. The inspector, no doubt, will be glad to take a
stroll with you as far as Eaton Place, and have a bit
of afternoon tea with your great acquaintances. Or
would you prefer to go direct to the Home Secretary?
Sir Thomas Vandeleur, indeed! Perhaps you think I don't
know a gentleman when I see one, from a common run-the-
hedge like you? Clothes or no clothes, I can read you
like a book. Here is a shirt that maybe cost as much as
my Sunday hat; and that coat, I take it, has never seen
the inside of Rag-fair, and then your boots----"

The man, whose eyes had fallen upon the ground, stopped
short in his insulting commentary, and remained for a
moment looking intently upon something at his feet.
When he spoke his voice was strangely altered.

"What, in God's name," said he, "is all this?"

Harry, following the direction of the man's eyes,
beheld a spectacle that struck him dumb with terror and
amazement. In his fall he had descended vertically upon
the bandbox, and burst it open from end to end; thence
a great treasure of diamonds had poured forth, and now
lay abroad, part trodden in the soil, part scattered on
the surface in regal and glittering profusion. There
was a magnificent coronet which he had often admired on
Lady Vandeleur; there were rings and brooches, ear-
drops and bracelets, and even unset brilliants rolling
here and there among the rose-bushes like drops of
morning dew. A princely fortune lay between the two men
upon the ground--a fortune in the most inviting, solid,
and durable form, capable of being carried in an apron,
beautiful in itself, and scattering the sunlight in a
million rain-bow flashes.

"Good God!" said Harry, "I am lost!"

His mind raced backwards into the past with the
incalculable velocity of thought, and he began to
comprehend his day's adventures, to conceive them as a
whole, and to recognise the sad imbroglio in which his
own character and fortunes had become involved. He
looked round him as if for help, but he was alone in
the garden, with his scattered diamonds and his
redoubtable interlocutor; and when he gave ear, there
was no sound but the rustle of the leaves and the
hurried pulsation of his heart. It was little wonder if
the young man felt himself deserted by his spirits, and
with a broken voice repeated his last ejaculation--

"I am lost!"

The gardener peered in all directions with an air of
guilt; but there was no face at any of the windows, and
he seemed to breathe again.

"Pick up a heart," he said, "you fool! The worst of it
is done. Why could you not say at first there was
enough for two? Two?" he repeated, "ay, and for two
hundred! But come away from here, where we may be
observed; and, for the love of wisdom, straighten out
your hat and brush your clothes. You could not travel
two steps the figure of fun you look just now."

While Harry mechanically adopted these suggestions, the
gardener, getting upon his knees, hastily drew together
the scattered jewels and returned them to the bandbox.
The touch of these costly crystals sent a shiver of
emotion through the man's stalwart frame; his face was
transfigured, and his eyes shone with concupiscence;
indeed, it seemed as if he luxuriously prolonged his
occupation, and dallied with every diamond that he
handled. At last, however, it was done; and concealing
the bandbox in his smock, the gardener beckoned to
Harry and preceded him in the direction of the house.

Near the door they were met by a young man, evidently
in holy orders, dark and strikingly handsome, with a
look of mingled weakness and resolution, and very
neatly attired after the manner of his caste. The
gardener was plainly annoyed by this encounter; but he
put as good a face upon it as he could, and accosted
the clergyman with an obsequious and smiling air.

"Here is a fine afternoon, Mr. Rolles," said he: "a
fine afternoon, as sure as God made it! And here is a
young friend of mine who had a fancy to look at my
roses. I took the liberty to bring him in, for I
thought none of the lodgers would object."

"Speaking for myself," replied the Reverend Mr. Rolles,
"I do not; nor do I fancy any of the rest of us would
be more difficult upon so small a matter. The garden is
your own, Mr. Raeburn; we must none of us forget that;
and because you give us liberty to walk there we should
be indeed ungracious if we so far presumed upon your
politeness as to interfere with the convenience of your
friends. But, on second thoughts," he added, "I believe
that this gentleman and I have met before. Mr. Hartley,
I think. I regret to observe that you have had a fall."

And he offered his hand.

A sort of maiden dignity, and a desire to delay as long
as possible the necessity for explanation, moved Harry
to refuse this chance of help, and to deny his own
identity. He chose the tender mercies of the gardener,
who was at least unknown to him, rather than the
curiosity and perhaps the doubts of an acquaintance.

"I fear there is some mistake," said he. "My name is
Thomlinson, and I am a friend of Mr. Raeburn's."

"Indeed?" said Mr. Rolles. "The likeness is amazing."

Mr. Raeburn, who had been upon thorns throughout this
colloquy, now felt it high time to bring it to a

"I wish you a pleasant saunter, sir," said he.

And with that he dragged Harry after him into the
house, and then into a chamber on the garden. His first
care was to draw down the blind, for Mr. Rolles still
remained where they had left him, in an attitude of
perplexity and thought. Then he emptied the broken
bandbox on the table, and stood before the treasure,
thus fully displayed, with an expression of rapturous
greed, and rubbing his hands upon his thighs. For
Harry, the sight of the man's face under the influence
of this base emotion added another pang to those he was
already suffering. It seemed incredible that, from his
life of pure and delicate trifling, he should be
plunged in a breath among sordid and criminal
relations. He could reproach his conscience with no
sinful act; and yet he was now suffering the punishment
of sin in its most acute and cruel forms--the dread of
punishment? the suspicions of the good, and the
companionship and contamination of vile and brutal
natures. He felt he could lay his life down with
gladness to escape from the room and the society of Mr.

"And now," said the latter, after he had separated the
jewels into two nearly equal parts, and drawn one of
them nearer to himself; "and now," said he, "everything
in this world has to be paid for, and some things
sweetly. You must know, Mr. Hartley, if such be your
name, that I am a man of a very easy temper, and good-
nature has been my stumbling-block from first to last.
I could pocket the whole of these pretty pebbles, if I
chose, and I should like to see you dare to say a word;
but I think I must have taken a liking to you; for I
declare I have not the heart to shave you so close. So,
do you see, in pure kind feeling, I propose that we
divide; and these," indicating the two heaps, "are the
proportions that seem to me just and friendly. Do you
see any objection, Mr. Hartley, may I ask? I am not the
man to stick upon a brooch."

"But, sir," cried Harry, "what you propose to me is
impossible. The jewels are not mine, and I cannot share
what is another's, no matter with whom, nor in what

"They are not yours, are they not?" returned Raeburn.
"And you could not share them with anybody, couldn't
you? Well now, that is what I call a pity; for here am
I obliged to take you to the station. The police--think
of that," he continued; "think of the disgrace for your
respectable parents; think," he went on, taking Harry
by the wrist; "think of the Colonies and the Day of

"I cannot help it," wailed Harry. "It is not my fault.
You will not come with me to Eaton Place?"

"No," replied the man; "I will not, that is certain.
And I mean to divide these playthings with you here."

And so saying he applied a sudden and severe torsion to
the lad's wrist.

Harry could not suppress a scream, and the perspiration
burst forth upon his face. Perhaps pain and terror
quickened his intelligence, but certainly at that
moment the whole business flashed across him in another
light; and he saw that there was nothing for it but to
accede to the ruffian's proposal, and trust to find the
house and force him to disgorge, under more favourable
circumstances, and when he himself was clear from all

"I agree," he said.

"There is a lamb," sneered the gardener. "I thought you
would recognise your interests at last. This bandbox,"
he continued, "I shall burn with my rubbish; it is a
thing that curious folk might recognise; and as for
you, scrape up your gaieties and put them in your

Harry proceeded to obey, Raeburn watching him, and
every now and again, his greed, rekindled by some
bright scintillation, abstracting another jewel from
the secretary's share, and adding it to his own.

When this was finished, both proceeded to the front
door, which Raeburn cautiously opened to observe the
street. This was apparently clear of passengers; for he
suddenly seized Harry by the nape of the neck, and
holding his face downward so that he could see nothing
but the roadway and the doorsteps of the houses, pushed
him violently before him down one street and up another
for the space of perhaps a minute and a half. Harry had
counted three corners before the bully relaxed his
grasp, and crying, "Now be off with you!" sent the lad
flying head-foremost with a well-directed and athletic

When Harry gathered himself up, half-stunned and
bleeding freely at the nose, Mr. Raeburn had entirely
disappeared. For the first time, anger and pain so
completely overcame the lad's spirits that he burst
into a fit of tears and remained sobbing in the middle
of the road.

After he had thus somewhat assuaged his emotion, he
began to look about him and read the names of the
streets at whose intersection he had been deserted by
the gardener. He was still in an unfrequented portion
of West London, among villas and large gardens; but he
could see some persons at a window who had evidently
witnessed his misfortune; and almost immediately after
a servant came running from the house and offered him a
glass of water. At the same time, a dirty rogue, who
had been slouching somewhere in the neighbourhood, drew
near him from the other side.

"Poor fellow," said the maid, "how vilely you have been
handled, to be sure! Why, your knees are all cut, and
your clothes ruined! Do you know the wretch who used
you so?"

"That I do!" cried Harry, who was somewhat refreshed by
the water; "and shall run him home in spite of his
precautions. He shall pay dearly for this day's work,
I promise you."

"You had better come into the house and have yourself
washed and brushed," continued the maid. "My mistress
will make you welcome, never fear. And see, I will pick
up your hat. Why, love of mercy!" she screamed, "if you
have not dropped diamonds all over the street!"

Such was the case; a good half of what remained to him
after the depredations of Mr. Raeburn had been shaken
out of his pockets by the summersault, and once more
lay glittering on the ground. He blessed his fortune
that the maid had been so quick of eye; "there is
nothing so bad but it might be worse," thought he; and
the recovery of these few seemed to him almost as great
an affair as the loss of all the rest. But, alas! as he
stooped to pick up his treasures, the loiterer made a
rapid onslaught, over-set both Harry and the maid with
a movement of his arms, swept up a double-handful of
the diamonds, and made off along the street with an
amazing swiftness.

Harry, as soon as he could get upon his feet, gave
chase to the miscreant with many cries, but the latter
was too fleet of foot, and probably too well acquainted
with the locality; for turn where the pursuer would he
could find no traces of the fugitive.

In the deepest despondency Harry revisited the scene of
his mishap, where the maid, who was still waiting, very
honestly returned him his hat and the remainder of the
fallen diamonds. Harry thanked her from his heart, and
being now in no humour for economy, made his way to the
nearest cabstand and set off for Eaton Place by coach.

The house, on his arrival, seemed in some confusion, as
if a catastrophe had happened in the family; and the
servants clustered together in the hall, and were
unable, or perhaps not altogether anxious, to suppress
their merriment at the tatter-demalion figure of the
secretary. He passed them with as good an air of
dignity as he could assume, and made directly for the
boudoir. When he opened the door an astonishing and
even menacing spectacle presented itself to his eyes;
for he beheld the General and his wife, and, of all
people, Charlie Pendragon, closeted together and
speaking with earnestness and gravity on some important
subject. Harry saw at once that there was little left
for him to explain--plenary confession had plainly been
made to the General of the intended fraud upon his
pocket, and the unfortunate miscarriage of the scheme;
and they had all made common cause against a common

"Thank Heaven!" cried Lady Vandeleur, "here he is! The
bandbox, Harry--the bandbox!"

But Harry stood before them silent and downcast.

"Speak!" she cried. "Speak! Where is the bandbox?"

And the men, with threatening gestures, repeated the

Harry drew a handful of jewels from his pocket. He was
very white.

"This is all that remains," said he. "I declare before
Heaven it was through no fault of mine; and if you will
have patience, although some are lost, I am afraid, for
ever, others, I am sure, may be still recovered."

"Alas!" cried Lady Vandeleur, "all our diamonds are
gone, and I owe ninety thousand pounds for dress!"

"Madam," said the General, "you might have paved the
gutter with your own trash; you might have made debts
to fifty times the sum you mention; you might have
robbed me of my mother's coronet and ring; and Nature
might have still so far prevailed that I could have
forgiven you at last. But, madam, you have taken the
Rajah's Diamond--the Eye of Light, as the Orientals
poetically termed it--the Pride of Kashgar! You have
taken from me the Rajah's Diamond," he cried, raising
his hands, "and all, madam, all is at an end between

"Believe me, General Vandeleur," she replied, "that is
one of the most agreeable speeches that ever I heard
from your lips; and since we are to be ruined, I could
almost welcome the change, if it delivers me from you.
You have told me often enough that I married you for
your money; let me tell you now that I always bitterly
repented the bargain; and if you were still
marriageable, and had a diamond bigger than your head,
I should counsel even my maid against a union so
uninviting and disastrous.--As for you, Mr. Hartley,"
she continued, turning on the secretary, "you have
sufficiently exhibited your valuable qualities in this
house; we are now persuaded that you equally lack
manhood, sense, and self-respect; and I can see only
one course open for you--to withdraw instanter, and, if
possible, return no more. For your wages you may rank
as a creditor in my late husband's bankruptcy."

Harry had scarcely comprehended this insulting address
before the General was down upon him with another.

"And in the meantime," said that personage, "follow me
before the nearest Inspector of Police. You may impose
upon a simple-minded soldier, sir, but the eye of the
law will read your disreputable secret. If I must spend
my old age in poverty through your underhand intriguing
with my wife, I mean at least that you shall not remain
unpunished for your pains; and God, sir, will deny me a
very considerable satisfaction if you do not pick oakum
from now until your dying day."

With that the General dragged Harry from the apartment,
and hurried him downstairs and along the street to the
police station of the district.


Here (says my Arabian author) ended this deplorable
business of the bandbox. But to the unfortunate
secretary the whole affair was the beginning of a new
and manlier life. The police were easily persuaded of
his innocence; and, after he had given what help he
could in the subsequent investigations, he was even
complimented by one of the chiefs of the detective
department on the probity and simplicity of his
behaviour. Several persons interested themselves in one
so unfortunate; and soon after he inherited a sum of
money from a maiden aunt in Worcestershire. With this
he married Prudence, and set sail for Bendigo, or,
according to another account, for Trincomalee,
exceedingly content, and with the best of prospects.





THE Reverend Mr. Simon Rolles had distinguished himself
in the Moral Sciences, and was more than usually
proficient in the study of Divinity. His essay "On the
Christian Doctrine of the Social Obligations" obtained
for him, at the moment of its production, a certain
celebrity in the University of Oxford; and it was
understood in clerical and learned circles that young
Mr. Rolles had in contemplation a considerable work--a
folio, it was said--on the authority of the Fathers of
the Church. These attainments, these ambitious designs,
however, were far from helping him to any preferment;
and he was still in quest of his first curacy when a
chance ramble in that part of London, the peaceful and
rich aspect of the garden, a desire for solitude and
study, and the cheapness of the lodging, led him to
take up his abode with Mr. Raeburn, the nurseryman of
Stockdove Lane.

It was his habit every afternoon, after he had worked
seven or eight hours on St. Ambrose or St. Chrysostom,
to walk for a while in meditation among the roses. And
this was usually one of the most productive moments of
his day. But even a sincere appetite for thought, and
the excitement of grave problems awaiting solution, are
not always sufficient to preserve the mind of the
philosopher against the petty shocks and contacts of
the world. And when Mr. Rolles found General
Vandeleur's secretary, ragged and bleeding, in the
company of his landlord; when he saw both change colour
and seek to avoid his questions; and, above all, when
the former denied his own identity with the most
unmoved assurance, he speedily forgot the Saints and
Fathers in the vulgar interest of curiosity.

"I cannot be mistaken," thought he. "That is Mr.
Hartley beyond a doubt. How comes he in such a pickle?
why does he deny his name? and what can be his business
with that black-looking ruffian, my landlord?"

As he was thus reflecting, another peculiar
circumstance attracted his attention. The face of Mr.
Raeburn appeared at a low window next the door; and, as
chance directed, his eyes met those of Mr. Rolles. The
nurseryman seemed disconcerted, and even alarmed; and
immediately after the blind of the apartment was pulled
sharply down.

"This may all be very well," reflected Mr. Rolles; "it
may be all excellently well; but I confess freely that
I do not think so. Suspicious, underhand, untruthful,
fearful of observation--I believe upon my soul," he
thought, "the pair are plotting some disgraceful

The detective that there is in all of us awoke and
became clamant in the bosom of Mr. Rolles; and with a
brisk, eager step, that bore no resemblance to his
usual gait, he proceeded to make the circuit of the
garden. When he came to the scene of Harry's escalade,
his eye was at once arrested by a broken rose-bush and
marks of trampling on the mould. He looked up and saw
scratches on the brick, and a rag of trouser floating
from a broken bottle. This, then, was the mode of
entrance chosen by Mr. Raeburn's particular friend! It
was thus that General Vandeleur's secretary came to
admire a flower-garden! The young clergyman whistled
softly to himself as he stooped to examine the ground.
He could make out where Harry had landed from his
perilous leap; he recognised the flat foot of Mr.
Raeburn where it had sunk deeply in the soil as he
pulled up the secretary by the collar; nay, on a closer
inspection he seemed to distinguish the marks of
groping fingers, as though something had been spilt
abroad and eagerly collected.

"Upon my word," he thought, "the thing grows vastly

And just then he caught sight of something almost
entirely buried in the earth. In an instant he had
disinterred a dainty morocco case, ornamented and
clasped in gilt. It had been trodden heavily underfoot,
and thus escaped the hurried search of Mr. Raeburn.
Mr. Rolles opened the case, and drew a long breath of
almost horrified astonishment; for there lay before
him, in a cradle of green velvet, a diamond of
prodigious magnitude and of the finest water. It was of
the bigness of a duck's egg; beautifully shaped, and
without a flaw; and as the sun shone upon it, it gave
forth a lustre like that of electricity, and seemed to
burn in his hand with a thousand internal fires.

He knew little of precious stones; but the Rajah's
Diamond was a wonder that explained itself; a village
child, if he found it, would run screaming for the
nearest cottage; and a savage would prostrate himself
in adoration before so imposing a fetich. The beauty of
the stone flattered the young clergyman's eyes; the
thought of its incalculable value overpowered his
intellect. He knew that what he held in his hand was
worth more than many years' purchase of an
archiepiscopal see; that it would build cathedrals more
stately than Ely or Cologne; that he who possessed it
was set free for ever from the primal curse, and might
follow his own inclinations without concern or hurry,
without let or hindrance. And as he suddenly turned it,
the rays leaped forth again with renewed brilliancy,
and seemed to pierce his very heart.

Decisive actions are often taken in a moment and
without any conscious deliverance from the rational
parts of man. So it was now with Mr. Rolles. He glanced
hurriedly round; beheld, like Mr. Raeburn before him,
nothing but the sunlit flower-garden, the tall tree-
tops, and the house with blinded windows; and in a
trice he had shut the case, thrust it into his pocket,
and was hastening to his study with the speed of guilt.

The Reverend Simon Rolles had stolen the Rajah's

Early in the afternoon the police arrived with Harry
Hartley. The nurseryman, who was beside himself with
terror, readily discovered his hoard; and the jewels
were identified and inventoried in the presence of the
secretary. As for Mr. Rolles, he showed himself in a
most obliging temper, communicated what he knew with
freedom, and professed regret that he could do no more
to help the officers in their duty.

"Still," he added, "I suppose your business is nearly
at an end."

"By no means," replied the man from Scotland Yard; and
he narrated the second robbery of which Harry had been
the immediate victim, and gave the young clergyman a
description of the more important jewels that were
still not found, dilating particularly on the Rajah's

"It must be worth a fortune," observed Mr. Rolles.

"Ten fortunes--twenty fortunes," cried the officer.

"The more it is worth," remarked Simon shrewdly, "the
more difficult it must be to sell. Such a thing has a
physiognomy not to be disguised, and I should fancy a
man might as easily negotiate St. Paul's Cathedral."

"Oh, truly!" said the officer; "but if the thief be a
man of any intelligence, he will cut it into three or
four, and there will be still enough to make him rich."

"Thank you," said the clergyman. "You cannot imagine
how much your conversation interests me."

Whereupon the functionary admitted that they knew many
strange things in his profession, and immediately after
took his leave.

Mr. Rolles regained his apartment. It seemed smaller
and barer than usual; the materials for his great work
had never presented so little interest; and he looked
upon his library with the eye of scorn. He took down,
volume by volume, several Fathers of the Church, and
glanced them through; but they contained nothing to his

"These old gentlemen," thought he, "are no doubt very
valuable writers, but they seem to me conspicuously
ignorant of life. Here am I, with learning enough to be
a Bishop, and I positively do not know how to dispose
of a stolen diamond. I glean a hint from a common
policeman, and with all my folios I cannot so much as
put it into execution. This inspires me with very low
ideas of University training."

Herewith he kicked over his book-shelf, and, putting on
his hat, hastened from the house to the club of which
he was a member. In such a place of mundane resort he
hoped to find some man of good counsel and a shrewd
experience in life. In the reading-room he saw many of
the country clergy and an Archdeacon; there were three
journalists and a writer upon the Higher Metaphysic,
playing pool; and at dinner only the raff of ordinary
club frequenters showed their commonplace and
obliterated countenances. None of these, thought Mr.
Rolles, would know more on dangerous topics than he
knew himself; none of them were fit to give him
guidance in his present strait. At length, in the
smoking-room, up many weary stairs, he hit upon a
gentleman of somewhat portly build and dressed with
conspicuous plainness. He was smoking a cigar and
reading the _Fortnightly Review;_ his face was
singularly free from all sign of preoccupation or
fatigue; and there was something in his air which
seemed to invite confidence and to expect submission.
The more the young clergyman scrutinised his features,
the more he was convinced that he had fallen on one
capable of giving pertinent advice.

"Sir," said he, "you will excuse my abruptness; but I
judge you from your appearance to be preeminently a man
of the world."

"I have indeed considerable claims to that
distinction," replied the stranger, laying aside his
magazine with a look of mingled amusement and surprise.

"I, sir," continued the Curate, "am a recluse, a
student, a creature of ink-bottles and patristic
folios. A recent event has brought my folly vividly
before my eyes, and I desire to instruct myself in
life. By life," he added, "I do not mean Thackeray's
novels; but the crimes and secret possibilities of our
society, and the principles of wise conduct among
exceptional events. I am a patient reader; can the
thing be learnt in books?"

"You put me in a difficulty," said the stranger.
"I confess I have no great notion of the use of books,
except to amuse a railway journey; although, I believe,
there are some very exact treatises on astronomy, the
use of the globes, agriculture, and the art of making
paper flowers. Upon the less apparent provinces of life
I fear you will find nothing truthful. Yet stay," he
added, "have you read Gaboriau?"

Mr. Rolles admitted he had never even heard the name.

"You may gather some notions from Gaboriau," resumed
the stranger. "He is at least suggestive; and as he is
an author much studied by Prince Bismarck, you will, at
the worst, lose your time in good society."

"Sir," said the Curate, "I am infinitely obliged by
your politeness."

"You have already more than repaid me," returned the

"How?" inquired Simon.

"By the novelty of your request," replied the
gentleman; and with a polite gesture, as though to ask
permission, he resumed the study of the _Fortnightly

On his way home Mr. Rolles purchased a work on precious
stones and several of Gaboriau's novels. These last he
eagerly skimmed until an advanced hour in the morning;
but although they introduced him to many new ideas, he
could nowhere discover what to do with a stolen
diamond. He was annoyed, moreover, to find the
information scattered amongst romantic story-telling,
instead of soberly set forth after the manner of a
manual; and he concluded that, even if the writer had
thought much upon these subjects, he was totally
lacking in educational method. For the character and
attainments of Lecoq, however, he was unable to contain
his admiration.

"He was truly a great creature," ruminated Mr. Rolles.
"He knew the world as I know Paley's Evidences. There
was nothing that he could not carry to a termination
with his own hand, and against the largest odds.
Heavens!" he broke out suddenly, "is not this the
lesson? Must I not learn to cut diamonds for myself?"

It seemed to him as if he had sailed at once out of his
perplexities; he remembered that he knew a jeweller,
one B. Macculloch, in Edinburgh, who would be glad to
put him in the way of the necessary training; a few
months, perhaps a few years, of sordid toil, and he
would be sufficiently expert to divide and sufficiently
cunning to dispose with advantage of the Rajah's
Diamond. That done, he might return to pursue his
researches at leisure, a wealthy and luxurious student,
envied and respected by all. Golden visions attended
him through his slumber, and he awoke refreshed and
light-hearted with the morning sun.

Mr. Raeburn's house was on that day to be closed by the
police, and this afforded a pretext for his departure.
He cheerfully prepared his baggage, transported it to
King's Cross, where he left it in the cloak-room, and
returned to the club to while away the afternoon and

"If you dine here to-day, Rolles," observed an
acquaintance, "you may see two of the most remarkable
men in England--Prince Florizel of Bohemia and old Jack

"I have heard of the Prince," replied Mr. Rolles; "and
General Vandeleur I have even met in society."

"General Vandeleur is an ass!" returned the other.
"This is his brother John, the biggest adventurer, the
best judge of precious stones, and one of the most
acute diplomatists in Europe. Have you never heard of
his duel with the Duc de Val d'Orge? of his exploits
and atrocities when he was Dictator of Paraguay? of his
dexterity in recovering Sir Samuel Levi's jewellery?
nor of his services in the Indian Mutiny--services by
which the Government profited, but which the Government
dared not recognise? You make me wonder what we mean by
fame, or even by infamy; for Jack Vandeleur has
prodigious claims to both. Run downstairs," he
continued, "take a table near them, and keep your ears
open. You will hear some strange talk, or I am much

"But how shall I know them?" inquired the clergyman.

"Know them!" cried his friend; "why, the Prince is the
finest gentleman in Europe, the only living creature
who looks like a king; and as for Jack Vandeleur, if
you can imagine Ulysses at seventy years of age, and
with a sabre-cut across his face, you have the man
before you! Know them indeed! Why, you could pick
either of them out of a Derby day!"

Rolles eagerly hurried to the dining-room. It was as
his friend had asserted; it was impossible to mistake
the pair in question. Old John Vandeleur was of a
remarkable force of body, and obviously broken to the
most difficult exercises. He had neither the carriage
of a swordsman, nor of a sailor, nor yet of one much
inured to the saddle; but something made up of all
these, and the result and expression of many different
habits and dexterities. His features were bold and
aquiline; his expression arrogant and predatory; his
whole appearance that of a swift, violent, unscrupulous
man of action; and his copious white hair and the deep
sabre-cut that traversed his nose and temple added a
note of savagery to a head already remarkable and
menacing in itself

In his companion, the Prince of Bohemia, Mr. Rolles was
astonished to recognise the gentleman who had
recommended him the study of Gaboriau. Doubtless Prince
Florizel, who rarely visited the club, of which, as of
most others, he was an honorary member, had been
waiting for John Vandeleur when Simon accosted him on
the previous evening.

The other diners had modestly retired into the angles
of the room, and left the distinguished pair in a
certain isolation, but the young clergyman was
unrestrained by any sentiment of awe, and, marching
boldly up, took his place at the nearest table.

The conversation was, indeed, new to the student's
ears. The ex-Dictator of Paraguay stated many
extraordinary experiences in different quarters of the
world; and the Prince supplied a commentary which, to a
man of thought, was even more interesting than the
events themselves. Two forms of experience were thus
brought together and laid before the young clergyman;
and he did not know which to admire the most--the
desperate actor or the skilled expert in life; the man
who spoke boldly of his own deeds and perils, or the
man who seemed, like a god, to know all things and to
have suffered nothing. The manner of each aptly fitted
with his part in the discourse. The Dictator indulged
in brutalities alike of speech and gesture; his hand
opened and shut and fell roughly on the table; and his
voice was loud and heady. The Prince, on the other
hand, seemed the very type of urbane docility and
quiet; the least movement, the least inflection, had
with him a weightier significance than all the shouts
and pantomime of his companion; and if ever, as must
frequently have been the case, he described some
experience personal to himself, it was so aptly
dissimulated as to pass unnoticed with the rest.

At length the talk wandered on to the late robberies
and the Rajah's Diamond.

"That diamond would be better in the sea," observed
Prince Florizel.

"As a Vandeleur," replied the Dictator, "your Highness
may imagine my dissent."

"I speak on grounds of public policy," pursued the
Prince. "Jewels so valuable should be reserved for the
collection of a prince or the treasury of a great
nation. To hand them about among the common sort of men
is to set a price on Virtue's head; and if the Rajah of
Kashgar--a Prince, I understand, of great
enlightenment--desired vengeance upon the men of
Europe, he could hardly have gone more efficaciously
about his purpose than by sending us this apple of
discord. There is no honesty too robust for such a
trial. I myself, who have many duties and many
privileges of my own--I myself, Mr. Vandeleur, could
scarce handle the intoxicating crystal and be safe.
As for you, who are a diamond-hunter by taste and
profession, I do not believe there is a crime in the
calendar you would not perpetrate--I do not believe you
have a friend in the world whom you would not eagerly
betray--I do not know if you have a family, but if you
have I declare you would sacrifice your children--and
all this for what? Not to be richer, nor to have more
comforts or more respect, but simply to call this
diamond yours for a year or two until you die, and now
and again to open a safe and look at it as one looks at
a picture."

"It is true," replied Vandeleur. "I have hunted most
things, from men and women down to mosquitos; I have
dived for coral; I have followed both whales and
tigers; and a diamond is the tallest quarry of the lot.
It has beauty and worth; it alone can properly reward
the ardours of the chase. At this moment, as your
Highness may fancy, I am upon the trail; I have a sure
knack, a wide experience; I know every stone of price
in my brother's collection as a shepherd knows his
sheep; and I wish I may die if I do not recover them
every one!"

"Sir Thomas Vandeleur will have great cause to thank
you," said the Prince.

"I am not so sure," returned the Dictator, with a
laugh. "One of the Vandeleurs will. Thomas or John--
Peter or Paul--we are all apostles."

"I did not catch your observation," said the Prince,
with some disgust.

And at the same moment the waiter informed Mr.
Vandeleur that his cab was at the door.

Mr. Rolles glanced at the clock, and saw that he also
must be moving; and the coincidence struck him sharply
and unpleasantly, for he desired to see no more of the

Much study having somewhat shaken the young man's
nerves, he was in the habit of travelling in the most
luxurious manner; and for the present journey he had
taken a sofa in the sleeping carriage.

"You will be very comfortable," said the guard; "there
is no one in your compartment, and only one old
gentleman in the other end."

It was close upon the hour, and the tickets were being
examined, when Mr. Rolles beheld this other fellow-
passenger ushered by several porters into his place;
certainly, there was not another man in the world whom
he would not have preferred--for it was old John
Vandeleur, the ex-Dictator.

The sleeping carriages on the Great Northern line were
divided into three compartments--one at each end for
travellers, and one in the centre fitted with the
conveniences of a lavatory. A door running in grooves
separated each of the others from the lavatory; but as
there were neither bolts nor locks, the whole suite was
practically common ground.

When Mr. Rolles had studied his position, he perceived
himself without defence. If the Dictator chose to pay
him a visit in the course of the night, he could do no
less than receive it; he had no means of fortification,
and lay open to attack as if he had been lying in the
fields. This situation caused him some agony of mind.
He recalled with alarm the boastful statements of his
fellow-traveller across the dining-table, and the
professions of immorality which he had heard him
offering to the disgusted Prince. Some persons, he
remembered to have read, are endowed with a singular
quickness of perception for the neighbourhood of
precious metals; through walls and even at considerable
distances they are said to divine the presence of gold.
Might it not be the same with diamonds? he wondered;
and if so, who was more likely to enjoy this
transcendental sense than the person who gloried in the
appellation of the Diamond Hunter? From such a man he
recognised that he had everything to fear, and longed
eagerly for the arrival of the day.

In the meantime he neglected no precaution, concealed
his diamond in the most internal pocket of a system of
greatcoats, and devoutly recommended himself to the
care of Providence.

The train pursued its usual even and rapid course; and
nearly half the journey had been accomplished before
slumber began to triumph over uneasiness in the breast
of Mr. Rolles. For some time he resisted its influence;
but it grew upon him more and more, and a little before
York he was fain to stretch himself upon one of the
couches and suffer his eyes to close; and almost at the
same instant consciousness deserted the young
clergyman. His last thought was of his terrifying

When he awoke it was still pitch dark, except for the
flicker of the veiled lamp; and the continual roaring
and oscillation testified to the unrelaxed velocity of
the train. He sat upright in a panic, for he had been
tormented by the most uneasy dreams; it was some
seconds before he recovered his self-command; and even
after he had resumed a recumbent attitude sleep
continued to flee him, and he lay awake with his brain
in a state of violent agitation, and his eyes fixed
upon the lavatory door. He pulled his clerical felt hat
over his brow still further to shield him from the
light; and he adopted the usual expedients, such as
counting a thousand or banishing thought, by which
experienced invalids are accustomed to woo the approach
of sleep. In the case of Mr. Rolles they proved one and
all vain; he was harassed by a dozen different
anxieties--the old man in the other end of the carriage
haunted him in the most alarming shapes; and in
whatever attitude he chose to lie, the diamond in his
pocket occasioned him a sensible physical distress. It
burned, it was too large, it bruised his ribs; and
there were infinitesimal fractions of a second in which
he had half a mind to throw it from the window.

While he was thus lying, a strange incident took place.

The sliding-door into the lavatory stirred a little,
and then a little more, and was finally drawn back for
the space of about twenty inches. The lamp in the
lavatory was unshaded, and in the lighted aperture thus
disclosed Mr. Rolles could see the head of Mr.
Vandeleur in an attitude of deep attention. He was
conscious that the gaze of the Dictator rested intently
on his own face; and the instinct of self-preservation
moved him to hold his breath, to refrain from the least
movement, and, keeping his eyes lowered, to watch his
visitor from underneath the lashes. After about a
moment, the head was withdrawn and the door of the
lavatory replaced.

The Dictator had not come to attack, but to observe;
his action was not that of a man threatening another,
but that of a man who was himself threatened; if Mr.
Rolles was afraid of him, it appeared that he, in his
turn, was not quite easy on the score of Mr. Rolles.
He had come, it would seem, to make sure that his only
fellow-traveller was asleep; and, when satisfied on
that point, he had at once withdrawn.

The clergyman leaped to his feet. The extreme of terror
had given place to a reaction of foolhardy daring. He
reflected that the rattle of the flying train concealed
all other sounds, and determined, come what might, to
return the visit he had just received. Divesting
himself of his cloak, which might have interfered with
the freedom of his action, he entered the lavatory and
paused to listen. As he had expected, there was nothing
to be heard above the roar of the train's progress; and
laying his hand on the door at the farther side, he
proceeded cautiously to draw it back for about six
inches. Then he stopped, and could not contain an
ejaculation of surprise.

John Vandeleur wore a fur travelling-cap with lappets
to protect his ears; and this may have combined with
the sound of the express to keep him in ignorance of
what was going forward. It is certain, at least, that
he did not raise his head, but continued without
interruption to pursue his strange employment. Between
his feet stood an open hat-box; in one hand he held the
sleeve of his sealskin greatcoat; in the other a
formidable knife, with which he had just slit up the
lining of the sleeve. Mr. Rolles had read of persons
carrying money in a belt; and as he had no acquaintance
with any but cricket-belts, he had never been able
rightly to conceive how this was managed. But here was
a stranger thing before his eyes; for John Vandeleur,
it appeared, carried diamonds in the lining of his
sleeve; and even as the young clergyman gazed, he could
see one glittering brilliant drop after another into
the hat-box.

He stood riveted to the spot, following this unusual
business with his eyes. The diamonds were, for the most
part, small, and not easily distinguishable either in
shape or fire. Suddenly the Dictator appeared to find a
difficulty; he employed both hands and stooped over his
task; but it was not until after considerable
manoeuvring that he extricated a large tiara of
diamonds from the lining, and held it up for some
seconds' examination before he placed it with the
others in the hat-box. The tiara was a ray of light to
Mr. Rolles; he immediately recognised it for a part of
the treasure stolen from Harry Hartley by the loiterer.
There was no room for mistake; it was exactly as the
detective had described it; there were the ruby stars,
with a great emerald in the centre; there were the
interlacing crescents; and there were the pear-shaped
pendants, each a single stone, which gave a special
value to Lady Vandeleur's tiara.

Mr. Rolles was hugely relieved. The Dictator was as
deeply in the affair as he was; neither could tell
tales upon the other. In the first glow of happiness,
the clergyman suffered a deep sigh to escape him; and
as his bosom had become choked and his throat dry
during his previous suspense, the sigh was followed by
a cough.

Mr. Vandeleur looked up; his face contracted with the
blackest and most deadly passion; his eyes opened
widely, and his under jaw dropped in an astonishment
that was upon the brink of fury. By an instinctive
movement he had covered the hat-box with the coat For
half a minute the two men stared upon each other in
silence. It was not a long interval, but it sufficed
for Mr. Rolles; he was one of those who think swiftly
on dangerous occasions; he decided on a course of
action of a singularly daring nature; and although he
felt he was setting his life upon the hazard, he was
the first to break silence.

"I beg your pardon," said he.

The Dictator shivered slightly, and when he spoke his
voice was hoarse.

"What do you want here?" he asked.

"I take a particular interest in diamonds," replied Mr.
Rolles, with an air of perfect self-possession. "Two
connoisseurs should be acquainted. I have here a trifle
of my own which may perhaps serve for an introduction."

And so saying, he quietly took the case from his
pocket, showed the Rajah's Diamond to the Dictator for
an instant, and replaced it in security.

"It was once your brother's," he added.

John Vandeleur continued to regard him with a look of
almost painful amazement; but he neither spoke nor

"I was pleased to observe," resumed the young man,
"that we have gems from the same collection."

The Dictator's surprise overpowered him.

"I beg your pardon," he said; "I begin to perceive that
I am growing old! I am positively not prepared for
little incidents like this. But set my mind at rest
upon one point: do my eyes deceive me, or are you
indeed a parson?"

"I am in holy orders," answered Mr. Rolles.

"Well," cried the other, "as long as I live I will
never hear another word against the cloth!"

"You flatter me," said Mr. Rolles.

"Pardon me," replied Vandeleur; "pardon me, young man.
You are no coward, but it still remains to be seen
whether you are not the worst of fools. Perhaps," he
continued, leaning back upon his seat, "perhaps you
would oblige me with a few particulars. I must suppose
you had some object in the stupefying impudence of your
proceedings, and I confess I have a curiosity to know

"It is very simple," replied the clergyman; "it
proceeds from my great inexperience of life."

"I shall be glad to be persuaded," answered Vandeleur.

Whereupon Mr. Rolles told him the whole story of his
connection with the Rajah's Diamond, from the time he
found it in Raeburn's garden to the time when he left
London in the Flying Scotchman. He added a brief sketch
of his feelings and thoughts during the journey, and
concluded in these words:--

"When I recognised the tiara I knew we were in the same
attitude towards Society, and this inspired me with a
hope, which I trust you will say was not ill-founded,
that you might become in some sense my partner in the
difficulties and, of course, the profits of my
situation. To one of your special knowledge and
obviously great experience the negotiation of the
diamond would give but little trouble, while to me it
was a matter of impossibility. On the other part, I
judged that I might lose nearly as much by cutting the
diamond, and that not improbably with an unskilful
hand, as might enable me to pay you with proper
generosity for your assistance. The subject was a
delicate one to broach; and perhaps I fell short in
delicacy. But I must ask you to remember that for me
the situation was a new one, and I was entirely
unacquainted with the etiquette in use. I believe
without vanity that I could have married or baptized
you in a very acceptable manner; but every man has his
own aptitudes, and this sort of bargain was not among
the list of my accomplishments."

"I do not wish to flatter you," replied Vandeleur; "but
upon my word you have an unusual disposition for a life
of crime. You have more accomplishments than you
imagine; and though I have encountered a number of
rogues in different quarters of the world, I never met
with one so unblushing as yourself. Cheer up, Mr.
Rolles, you are in the right profession at last! As for
helping you, you may command me as you will. I have
only a day's business in Edinburgh on a little matter
for my brother; and once that is concluded, I return to
Paris, where I usually reside. If you please, you may
accompany me thither. And before the end of a month I
believe I shall have brought your little business to a
satisfactory conclusion."



At this point, contrary to all the canons of his art,
our Arabian author breaks of the STORY OF THE YOUNG MAN
IN HOLY ORDERS. I regret and condemn such practices;
but I must follow my original, and refer the reader for
the conclusion of Mr. Rolles' adventures to the next
number of the cycle,





FRANCIS SCRYMGEOUR, a clerk in the Bank of Scotland at
Edinburgh, had attained the age of twenty-five in a
sphere of quiet, creditable, and domestic life. His
mother died while he was young; but his father, a man
of sense and probity, had given him an excellent
education at school, and brought him up at home to
orderly and frugal habits. Francis, who was of a docile
and affectionate disposition, profited by these
advantages with zeal, and devoted himself heart and
soul to his employment. A walk upon Saturday afternoon,
an occasional dinner with members of his family, and a
yearly tour of a fortnight in the Highlands, or even on
the continent of Europe, were his principal
distractions, and he grew rapidly in favour with his
superiors, and enjoyed already a salary of nearly two
hundred pounds a year, with the prospect of an ultimate
advance to almost double that amount. Few young men
were more contented, few more willing and laborious,
than Francis Scrymgeour. Sometimes at night, when he
had read the daily paper, he would play upon the flute
to amuse his father, for whose qualities he entertained
a great respect.

One day he received a note from a well-known firm of
Writers to the Signet, requesting the favour of an
immediate interview with him. The letter was marked
"Private and Confidential," and had been addressed to
him at the bank, instead of at home--two unusual
circumstances which made him obey the summons with the
more alacrity. The senior member of the firm, a man of
much austerity of manner, made him gravely welcome,
requested him to take a seat, and proceeded to explain
the matter in hand in the picked expressions of a
veteran man of business. A person, who must remain
nameless, but of whom the lawyer had every reason to
think well--a man, in short, of some station in the
country,--desired to make Francis an annual allowance
of five hundred pounds. The capital was to be placed
under the control of the lawyer's firm and two trustees
who must also remain anonymous. There were conditions
annexed to this liberality, but he was of opinion that
his new client would find nothing either excessive or
dishonourable in the terms; and he repeated these two
words with emphasis, as though he desired to commit
himself to nothing more.

Francis asked their nature.

"The conditions," said the Writer to the Signet, "are,
as I have twice remarked, neither dishonourable nor
excessive. At the same time I cannot conceal from you
that they are most unusual. Indeed, the whole case is
very much out of our way; and I should certainly have
refused it had it not been for the reputation of the
gentleman who intrusted it to my care, and, let me add,
Mr. Scrymgeour, the interest I have been led to take in
yourself by many complimentary and, I have no doubt,
well-deserved reports."

Francis entreated him to be more specific.

"You cannot picture my uneasiness as to these
conditions," he said.

"They are two," replied the lawyer, "only two, and the
sum, as you will remember, is five hundred a year--and
unburdened, I forgot to add, unburdened."

And the lawyer raised his eyebrows at him with solemn

"The first," he resumed, "is of remarkable simplicity.
You must be in Paris by the afternoon of Sunday, the
15th, there you will find, at the box-office of the
Comedie Francaise, a ticket for admission taken in your
name and waiting you. You are requested to sit out the
whole performance in the seat provided, and that is

"I should certainly have preferred a week-day," replied
Francis. "But, after all, once in a way----"

"And in Paris, my dear sir," added the lawyer
soothingly. "I believe I am something of a precisian
myself, but upon such a consideration, and in Paris,
I should not hesitate an instant."

And the pair laughed pleasantly together.

"The other is of more importance," continued the Writer
to the Signet. "It regards your marriage. My client,
taking a deep interest in your welfare, desires to
advise you absolutely in the choice of a wife.
Absolutely, you understand," he repeated.

"Let us be more explicit, if you please," returned
Francis. "Am I to marry any one, maid or widow, black
or white, whom this invisible person chooses to

"I was to assure you that suitability of age and
position should be a principle with your benefactor,"
replied the lawyer. "As to race, I confess the
difficulty had not occurred to me, and I failed to
inquire; but if you like I will make a note of it at
once, and advise you on the earliest opportunity."

"Sir," said Francis, "it remains to be seen whether
this whole affair is not a most unworthy fraud. The
circumstances are inexplicable--I had almost said
incredible; and until I see a little more daylight, and
some plausible motive, I confess I should be very sorry
to put a hand to the transaction. I appeal to you in
this difficulty for information. I must learn what is
at the bottom of it all. If you do not know, cannot
guess, or are not at liberty to tell me, I shall take
my hat and go back to my bank as I came."

"I do not know," answered the lawyer, "but I have an
excellent guess. Your father, and no one else, is at
the root of this apparently unnatural business."

"My father!" cried Francis, in extreme disdain. "Worthy
man, I know every thought of his mind, every penny of
his fortune!"

"You misinterpret my words," said the lawyer. "I do not
refer to Mr. Scrymgeour senior; for he is not your
father. When he and his wife came to Edinburgh, you
were already nearly one year old, and you had not yet
been three months in their care. The secret has been
well kept; but such is the fact. Your father is
unknown, and I say again that I believe him to be the
original of the offers I am charged at present to
transmit to you."

It would be impossible to exaggerate the astonishment
of Francis Scrymgeour at this unexpected information.
He pled this confusion to the lawyer.

"Sir," said he, "after a piece of news so startling,
you must grant me some hours for thought. You shall
know this evening what conclusion I have reached."

The lawyer commended his prudence; and Francis,
excusing himself upon some pretext at the bank, took a
long walk into the country, and fully considered the
different steps and aspects of the case. A pleasant
sense of his own importance rendered him the more
deliberate: but the issue was from the first not
doubtful. His whole carnal man leaned irresistibly
towards the five hundred a year, and the strange
conditions with which it was burdened; he discovered in
his heart an invincible repugnance to the name of
Scrymgeour, which he had never hitherto disliked; he
began to despise the narrow and unromantic interests of
his former life; and when once his mind was fairly made
up, he walked with a new feeling of strength and
freedom, and nourished himself with the gayest

He said but a word to the lawyer, and immediately
received a cheque for two quarters' arrears; for the
allowance was antedated from the 1st of January. With
this in his pocket, he walked home. The flat in
Scotland Street looked mean in his eyes; his nostrils,
for the first time, rebelled against the odour of
broth; and he observed little defects of manner in his
adoptive father which filled him with surprise, and
almost with disgust. The next day, he determined,
should see him on his way to Paris.

In that city, where he arrived long before the
appointed date, he put up at a modest hotel frequented
by English and Italians, and devoted himself to
improvement in the French tongue. For this purpose he
had a master twice a week, entered into conversation
with loiterers in the Champs Elysees, and nightly
frequented the theatre. He had his whole toilette
fashionably renewed; and was shaved and had his hair
dressed every morning by a barber in a neighbouring
street. This gave him something of a foreign air, and
seemed to wipe off the reproach of his past years.

At length, on the Saturday afternoon, he betook himself
to the box-office of the theatre in the Rue Richelieu.
No sooner had he mentioned his name than the clerk
produced the order in an envelope of which the address
was scarcely dry.

"It has been taken this moment," said the clerk.

"Indeed!" said Francis. "May I ask what the gentleman
was like?"

"Your friend is easy to describe," replied the
official. "He is old and strong and beautiful, with
white hair and a sabre-cut across his face. You cannot
fail to recognise so marked a person."

"No, indeed," returned Francis; "and I thank you for
your politeness."

"He cannot yet be far distant," added the clerk.
"If you make haste you might still overtake him."

Francis did not wait to be twice told; he ran
precipitately from the theatre into the middle of the
street and looked in all directions. More than one
white-haired man was within sight; but though he
overtook each of them in succession, all wanted the
sabre-cut. For nearly half an hour he tried one street
after another in the neighbourhood, until at length,
recognising the folly of continued search, he started
on a walk to compose his agitated feelings; for this
proximity of an encounter with him to whom he could not
doubt he owed the day had profoundly moved the young

It chanced that his way lay up the Rue Drouot and
thence up the Rue des Martyrs; and chance, in this
case, served him better than all the forethought in the
world. For on the outer boulevard he saw two men in
earnest colloquy upon a seat. One was dark, young, and
handsome, secularly dressed, but with an indelible
clerical stamp; the other answered in every particular
to the description given him by the clerk. Francis felt
his heart beat high in his bosom; he knew he was now
about to hear the voice of his father; and making a
wide circuit, he noiselessly took his place behind the
couple in question, who were too much interested in
their talk to observe much else. As Francis had
expected, the conversation was conducted in the English

"Your suspicions begin to annoy me, Rolles," said the
older man. I tell you I am doing my utmost; a man
cannot lay his hand on millions in a moment. Have I not
taken you up, a mere stranger, out of pure goodwill?
Are you not living largely on my bounty?"

"On your advances, Mr. Vandeleur," corrected the other.

"Advances, if you choose; and interest instead of
goodwill, if you prefer it," returned Vandeleur
angrily. "I am not here to pick expressions. Business
is business; and your business, let me remind you, is
too muddy for such airs. Trust me, or leave me alone
and find some one else; but let us have an end, for
God's sake, of your jeremiads."

"I am beginning to learn the world," replied the other,
"and I see that you have every reason to play me false,
and not one to deal honestly. I am not here to pick
expressions either; you wish the diamond for yourself;
you know you do--you dare not deny it. Have you not
already forged my name, and searched my lodging in my
absence? I understand the cause of your delays; you are
lying in wait ; you are the diamond-hunter, forsooth;
and sooner or later, by fair means or foul you'll lay
your hands upon it. I tell you, it must stop; push me
much further and I promise you a surprise."

"It does not become you to use threats," returned
Vandeleur. "Two can play at that. My brother is here in
Paris; the police are on the alert; and if you persist
in wearying me with your caterwauling, I will arrange a
little astonishment for you, Mr. Rolles. But mine shall
be once and for all. Do you understand, or would you
prefer me to tell it you in Hebrew? There is an end to
all things, and you have come to the end of my
patience. Tuesday, at seven; not a day, not an hour
sooner, not the least part of a second, if it were to
save your life. And if you do not choose to wait, you
may go to the bottomless pit for me, and welcome."

And so saying, the Dictator arose from the bench, and
marched off in the direction of Montmartre, shaking his
head and swinging his cane with a most furious air;
while his companion remained where he was, in an
attitude of great dejection.

Francis was at the pitch of surprise and horror; his
sentiments had been shocked to the last degree; the
hopeful tenderness with which he had taken his place
upon the bench was transformed into repulsion and
despair; old Mr. Scrymgeour, he reflected, was a far
more kindly and creditable parent than this dangerous
and violent intriguer; but he retained his presence of
mind, and suffered not a moment to elapse before he was
on the trail of the Dictator.

That gentleman's fury carried him forward at a brisk
pace, and he was so completely occupied in his angry
thoughts that he never so much as cast a look behind
him till he reached his own door.

His house stood high up in the Rue Lepic, commanding a
view of all Paris, and enjoying the pure air of the
heights. It was two stories high, with green blinds and
shutters; and all the windows looking on the street
were hermetically closed. Tops of trees showed over the
high garden wall, and the wall was protected by
_chevaux-de-frise._ The Dictator paused a moment while
he searched his pocket for a key; and then, opening a
gate, disappeared within the enclosure.

Francis looked about him; the neighbourhood was very
lonely; the house isolated in its garden. It seemed as
if his observation must here come to an abrupt end. A
second glance, however, showed him a tall house next
door presenting a gable to the garden, and in this
gable a single window. He passed to the front and saw a
ticket offering unfurnished lodgings by the month; and,
on inquiry, the room which commanded the Dictator's
garden proved to be one of those to let. Francis did
not hesitate a moment; he took the room, paid an
advance upon the rent, and returned to his hotel to
seek his baggage.

The old man with the sabre-cut might or might not be
his father; he might or he might not be upon the true
scent; but he was certainly on the edge of an exciting
mystery, and he promised himself that he would not
relax his observation until he had got to the bottom of
the secret.

From the window of his new apartment Francis Scrymgeour
commanded a complete view into the garden of the house
with the green blinds. Immediately below him a very
comely chestnut with wide boughs sheltered a pair of
rustic tables where people might dine in the height of
summer. On all sides save one a dense vegetation
concealed the soil; but there, between the tables and
the house, he saw a patch of gravel walk leading from
the verandah to the garden gate. Studying the place
from between the boards of the Venetian shutters, which
he durst not open for fear of attracting attention,
Francis observed but little to indicate the manners of
the inhabitants, and that little argued no more than a
close reserve and a taste for solitude. The garden was
conventual, the house had the air of a prison. The
green blinds were all drawn down upon the outside; the
door into the verandah was closed; the garden, as far
as he could see it, was left entirely to itself in the
evening sunshine. A modest curl of smoke from a single
chimney alone testified to the presence of living

In order that he might not be entirely idle, and to
give a certain colour to his way of life, Francis had
purchased Euclid's Geometry in French, which he set
himself to copy and translate on the top of his
portmanteau and seated on the floor against the wall;
for he was equally without chair or table. From time to
time he would rise and cast a glance into the enclosure
of the house with the green blinds; but the windows
remained obstinately closed and the garden empty.

Only late in the evening did anything occur to reward
his continued attention. Between nine and ten the sharp
tinkle of a bell aroused him from a fit of dozing; and
he sprang to his observatory in time to hear an
important noise of locks being opened and bars removed,
and to see Mr. Vandeleur, carrying a lantern and
clothed in a flowing robe of black velvet with a skull-
cap to match, issue from under the verandah and proceed
leisurely towards the garden gate. The sound of bolts
and bars was then repeated; and a moment after, Francis
perceived the Dictator escorting into the house, in the
mobile light of the lantern, an individual of the
lowest and most despicable appearance.

Half an hour afterwards the visitor was reconducted to
the street; and Mr. Vandeleur, setting his light upon
one of the rustic tables, finished a cigar with great
deliberation under the foliage of the chestnut.
Francis, peering through a clear space among the
leaves, was able to follow his gestures as he threw
away the ash or enjoyed a copious inhalation; and
beheld a cloud upon the old man's brow and a forcible
action of the lips, which testified to some deep and
probably painful train of thought. The cigar was
already almost at an end, when the voice of a young
girl was heard suddenly crying the hour from the
interior of the house.

"In a moment," replied John Vandeleur.

And with that he threw away the stump, and, taking up
the lantern, sailed away under the verandah for the
night. As soon as the door was closed, absolute
darkness fell upon the house; Francis might try his
eyesight as much as he pleased, he could not detect so
much as a single chink of light below a blind; and he
concluded, with great good sense, that the bed-chambers
were all upon the other side.

Early the next morning (for he was early awake after an
uncomfortable night upon the floor) he saw cause to
adopt a different explanation. The blinds rose, one
after another, by means of a spring in the interior,
and disclosed steel shutters such as we see on the
front of shops; these in their turn were rolled up by a
similar contrivance; and for the space of about an hour
the chambers were left open to the morning air. At the
end of that time Mr. Vandeleur, with his own hand, once
more closed the shutters and replaced the blinds from

While Francis was still marvelling at these
precautions, the door opened and a young girl came
forth to look about her in the garden. It was not two
minutes before she reentered the house, but even in
that short time he saw enough to convince him that she
possessed the most unusual attractions. His curiosity
was not only highly excited by this incident, but his
spirits were improved to a still more notable degree.
The alarming manners and more than equivocal life of
his father ceased from that moment to prey upon his
mind; from that moment he embraced his new family with
ardour; and whether the young lady should prove his
sister or his wife, he felt convinced she was an angel
in disguise. So much was this the case that he was
seized with a sudden horror when he reflected how
little he really knew, and how possible it was that he
had followed the wrong person when he followed Mr.

The porter, whom he consulted, could afford him little
information; but, such as it was, it had a mysterious
and questionable sound. The person next door was an
English gentleman of extraordinary wealth, and
proportionately eccentric in his tastes and habits. He
possessed great collections, which he kept in the house
beside him; and it was to protect these that he had
fitted the place with steel shutters, elaborate
fastenings, and _chevaux-de-frise_ along the garden
wall. He lived much alone, in spite of some strange
visitors, with whom, it seemed, he had business to
transact; and there was no one else in the house,
except Mademoiselle and an old woman servant.

"Is Mademoiselle his daughter?" inquired Francis.

"Certainly," replied the porter. "Mademoiselle is the
daughter of the house; and strange it is to see how she
is made to work. For all his riches, it is she who goes
to market; and every day in the week you may see her
going by with a basket on her arm."

"And the collections?" asked the other.

"Sir," said the man, "they are immensely valuable. More
I cannot tell you. Since M. de Vandeleur's arrival no
one in the quarter has so much as passed the door."

"Suppose not," returned Francis, "you must surely have
some notion what these famous galleries contain. Is it
pictures, silks, statues, jewels, or what?"

"My faith, sir," said the fellow, with a shrug, "it
might be carrots, and still I could not tell you. How
should I know? The house is kept like a garrison, as
you perceive.

And then as Francis was returning disappointed to his
room, the porter called him back.

"I have just remembered, sir," said he. "M. de
Vandeleur has been in all parts of the world, and I
once heard the old woman declare that he had brought
many diamonds back with him. If that be the truth,
there must be a fine show behind those shutters."

By an early hour on Sunday Francis was in his place at
the theatre. The seat which had been taken for him was
only two or three numbers from the left-hand side, and
directly opposite one of the lower boxes. As the seat
had been specially chosen there was doubtless something
to be learned from its position; and he judged by an
instinct that the box upon his right was, in some way
or other, to be connected with the drama in which he
ignorantly played a part. Indeed, it was so situated
that its occupants could safely observe him from
beginning to end of the piece, if they were so minded;
while, profiting by the depth, they could screen
themselves sufficiently well from any counter-
examination on his side. He promised himself not to
leave it for a moment out of sight; and whilst he
scanned the rest of the theatre, or made a show of
attending to the business of the stage, he always kept
a corner of an eye upon the empty box.

The second act had been some time in progress, and was
even drawing towards a close, when the door opened and
two persons entered and ensconced themselves in the
darkest of the shade. Francis could hardly control his
emotion. It was Mr. Vandeleur and his daughter. The
blood came and went in his arteries and veins with
stunning activity; his ears sang; his head turned. He
dared not look lest he should awake suspicion; his
playbill, which he kept reading from end to end, and
over and over again, turned from white to red before
his eyes; and when he cast a glance upon the stage, it
seemed incalculably far away, and he found the voices
and gestures of the actors to the last degree
impertinent and absurd.

From time to time he risked a momentary look in the
direction which principally interested him; and once at
least he felt certain that his eyes encountered those
of the young girl. A shock passed over his body, and he
saw all the colours of the rainbow. What would he not
have given to overhear what passed between the
Vandeleurs? What would he not have given for the
courage to take up his opera-glass and steadily inspect
their attitude and expression? There, for aught he
knew, his whole life was being decided--and he not able
to interfere, not able even to follow the debate, but
condemned to sit and suffer where he was, in impotent

At last the act came to an end. The curtain fell, and
the people around him began to leave their places for
the interval. It was only natural that he should follow
their example; and if he did so, it was not only
natural but necessary that he should pass immediately
in front of the box in question. Summoning all his
courage, but keeping his eyes lowered, Francis drew
near the spot. His progress was slow, for the old
gentleman before him moved with incredible
deliberation, wheezing as he went. What was he to do?
Should he address the Vandeleurs by name as he went by?
Should he take the flower from his button-hole and
throw it into the box? Should he raise his face and
direct one long and affectionate look upon the lady who
was either his sister or his betrothed? As he found
himself thus struggling among so many alternatives, he
had a vision of his old equable existence in the bank,
and was assailed by a thought of regret for the past.

By this time he had arrived directly opposite the box;
and although he was still undetermined what to do or
whether to do anything, he turned his head and lifted
his eyes. No sooner had he done so than he uttered a
cry of disappointment and remained rooted to the spot
The box was empty. During his slow advance Mr.
Vandeleur and his daughter had quietly slipped away.

A polite person in his rear reminded him that he was
stopping the path; and he moved on again with
mechanical footsteps, and suffered the crowd to carry
him unresisting out of the theatre. Once in the street,
the pressure ceasing, he came to a halt, and the cool
night-air speedily restored him to the possession of
his faculties. He was surprised to find that his head
ached violently, and that he remembered not one word of
the two acts which he had witnessed. As the excitement
wore away, it was succeeded by an overmastering
appetite for sleep, and he hailed a cab and drove to
his lodging in a state of extreme exhaustion and some
disgust of life.

Next morning he lay in wait for Miss Vandeleur on her
road to market, and by eight o'clock beheld her
stepping down a lane. She was simply, and even poorly,
attired; but in the carriage of her head and body there
was something flexible and noble that would have lent
distinction to the meanest toilette. Even her basket,
so aptly did she carry it, became her like an ornament.
It seemed to Francis, as he slipped into a doorway,
that the sunshine followed and the shadows fled before
her as she walked; and he was conscious, for the first
time, of a bird singing in a cage above the lane.

He suffered her to pass the doorway, and then, coming
forth once more, addressed her by name from behind.

"Miss Vandeleur," said he.

She turned and, when she saw who he was, became deadly

"Pardon me," he continued; "Heaven knows I had no will
to startle you; and, indeed, there should be nothing
startling in the presence of one who wishes you so well
as I do. And, believe me, I am acting rather from
necessity than choice. We have many things in common,
and I am sadly in the dark. There is much that I should
be doing, and my hands are tied. I do not know even
what to feel, nor who are my friends and enemies."

She found her voice with an effort.

"I do not know who you are," she said.

"Ah, yes! Miss Vandeleur, you do," returned Francis;
"better than I do myself. Indeed, it is on that, above
all, that I seek light. Tell me what you know," he
pleaded. "Tell me who I am, who you are, and how our
destinies are intermixed. Give me a little help with my
life, Miss Vandeleur--only a word or two to guide me,
only the name of my father, if you will--and I shall be
grateful and content."

"I will not attempt to deceive you," she replied.
"I know who you are, but I am not at liberty to say."

"Tell me, at least, that you have forgiven my
presumption, and I shall wait with all the patience I
have," he said. "If I am not to know, I must do
without. It is cruel, but I can bear more upon a push.
Only do not add to my troubles the thought that I have
made an enemy of you."

"You did only what was natural," she said, "and I have
nothing to forgive you. Farewell."

"Is it to be _farwell?_" he asked.

"Nay, that I do not know myself," she answered.
"Farewell for the present, if you like."

And with these words she was gone.

Francis returned to his lodging in a state of
considerable commotion of mind. He made the most
trifling progress with his Euclid for that forenoon,
and was more often at the window than at his improvised
writing-table. But beyond seeing the return of Miss
Vandeleur, and the meeting between her and her father,
who was smoking a Trichinopoli cigar in the verandah,
there was nothing notable in the neighbourhood of the
house with the green blinds before the time of the mid-
day meal. The young man hastily allayed his appetite in
a neighbouring restaurant, and returned with the speed
of unallayed curiosity to the house in the Rue Lepic.
A mounted servant was leading a saddle-horse to and fro
before the garden wall; and the porter of Francis's
lodging was smoking a pipe against the door-post,
absorbed in contemplation of the livery and the steeds.

"Look!" he cried to the young man, "what fine cattle!
what an elegant costume! They belong to the brother of
M. de Vandeleur, who is now within upon a visit. He is
a great man, a general, in your country; and you
doubtless know him well by reputation."

"I confess," returned Francis, "that I have never heard
of General Vandeleur before. We have many officers of
that grade, and my pursuits have been exclusively

"It is he," replied the porter, "who lost the great
diamond of the Indies. Of that at least you must have
read often in the papers."

As soon as Francis could disengage himself from the
porter he ran upstairs and hurried to the window.
Immediately below the clear space in the chestnut
leaves, the two gentlemen were seated in conversation
over a cigar. The General, a red, military-looking man,
offered some traces of a family resemblance to his
brother; he had something of the same features,
something, although very little, of the same free and
powerful carriage; but he was older, smaller, and more
common in air; his likeness was that of a caricature,
and he seemed altogether a poor and debile being by the
side of the Dictator.

They spoke in tones so low, leaning over the table with
every appearance of interest, that Francis could catch
no more than a word or two on an occasion. For as
little as he heard, he was convinced that the
conversation turned upon himself and his own career;
several times the name of Scrymgeour reached his ear,
for it was easy to distinguish, and still more
frequently he fancied he could distinguish the name

At length the General, as if in a hot anger, broke
forth into several violent exclamations.

"Francis Vandeleur!" he cried, accentuating the last
word. "Francis Vandeleur, I tell you."

The Dictator made a movement of his whole body, half
affirmative, half contemptuous, but his answer was
inaudible to the young man.

Was he the Francis Vandeleur in question? he wondered.
Were they discussing the name under which he was to be
married? Or was the whole affair a dream and a delusion
of his own conceit and self-absorption?

After another interval of inaudible talk, dissension
seemed again to rise between the couple underneath the
chestnut, and again the General raised his voice
angrily so as to be audible to Francis.

"My wife?" he cried. "I have done with my wife for
good. I will not hear her name. I am sick of her very

And he swore aloud and beat the table with his fist.

The Dictator appeared, by his gestures, to pacify him
after a paternal fashion; and a little after he
conducted him to the garden gate. The pair shook hands
affectionately enough; but as soon as the door had
closed behind his visitor, John Vandeleur fell into a
fit of laughter which sounded unkindly and even
devilish in the ears of Francis Scrymgeour.

So another day had passed, and little more learnt.
But the young man remembered that the morrow was Tuesday,
and promised himself some curious discoveries; all
might be well, or all might be ill; he was sure, at
least, to glean some curious information, and perhaps,
by good luck, get at the heart of the mystery which
surrounded his father and his family.

As the hour of the dinner drew near many preparations
were made in the garden of the house with the green
blinds. That table, which was partly visible to Francis
through the chestnut leaves, was destined to serve as a
sideboard, and carried relays of plates and the
materials for salad: the other, which was almost
entirely concealed, had been set apart for the diners,
and Francis could catch glimpses of white cloth and
silver plate.

Mr. Rolles arrived, punctual to the minute; he looked
like a man upon his guard, and spoke low and sparingly.
The Dictator, on the other hand, appeared to enjoy an
unusual flow of spirits; his laugh, which was youthful
and pleasant to hear, sounded frequently from the
garden; by the modulation and the changes of his voice
it was obvious that he told many droll stories and
imitated the accents of a variety of different nations;
and before he and the young clergyman had finished
their vermouth all feeling of distrust was at an end,
and they were talking together like a pair of school-

At length Miss Vandeleur made her appearance, carrying
the soup-tureen. Mr. Rolles ran to offer her
assistance, which she laughingly refused; and there was
an interchange of pleasantries among the trio which
seemed to have reference to this primitive manner of
waiting by one of the company.

"One is more at one's ease," Mr. Vandeleur was heard to

Next moment they were all three in their places, and
Francis could see as little as he could hear of what
passed. But the dinner seemed to go merrily; there was
a perpetual babble of voices and sound of knives and
forks below the chestnut; and Francis, who had no more
than a roll to gnaw, was affected with envy by the
comfort and deliberation of the meal. The party
lingered over one dish after another, and then over a
delicate dessert, with a bottle of old wine, carefully
uncorked by the hand of the Dictator himself. As it
began to grow dark a lamp was set upon the table and a
couple of candles on the sideboard; for the night was
perfectly pure, starry, and windless. Light overflowed
besides from the door and window in the verandah, so
that the garden was fairly illuminated and the leaves
twinkled in the darkness.

For perhaps the tenth time Miss Vandeleur entered the
house; and on this occasion she returned with the
coffee-tray, which she placed upon the sideboard.
At the same moment her father rose from his seat.

"The coffee is my province," Francis heard him say.

And next moment he saw his supposed father standing by
the sideboard in the light of the candles.

Talking over his shoulder all the while, Mr. Vandeleur
poured out two cups of the brown stimulant, and then,
by a rapid act of prestidigitation, emptied the
contents of a tiny phial into the smaller of the two.
The thing was so swiftly done that even Francis, who
looked straight into his face, had hardly time to
perceive the movement before it was completed. And next
instant, and still laughing, Mr. Vandeleur had turned
again towards the table with a cup in either hand.

"Ere we have done with this," said he, "we may expect
our famous Hebrew."

It would be impossible to depict the confusion and
distress of Francis Scrymgeour. He saw foul play going
forward before his eyes, and he felt bound to
interfere, but knew not how. It might be a mere
pleasantry, and then how should he look if he were to
offer an unnecessary warning? Or again, if it were
serious, the criminal might be his own father, and then
how should he not lament if he were to bring ruin on
the author of his days? For the first time he became
conscious of his own position as a spy. To wait
inactive at such a juncture and with such a conflict of
sentiments in his bosom was to suffer the most acute
torture; he clung to the bars of the shutters, his
heart beat fast and with irregularity, and he felt a
strong sweat break forth upon his body.

Several minutes passed.

He seemed to perceive the conversation die away and
grow less and less in vivacity and volume; but still no
sign of any alarming or even notable event.

Suddenly the ring of a glass breaking was followed by a
faint and dull sound, as of a person who should have
fallen forward with his head upon the table. At the
same moment a piercing scream rose from the garden.

"What have you done?" cried Miss Vandeleur. "He is

The Dictator replied in a violent whisper, so strong
and sibilant that every word was audible to the watcher
at the window.

"Silence!" said Mr. Vandeleur; "the man is as well as I
am. Take him by the heels whilst I carry him by the

Francis heard Miss Vandeleur break forth into a passion
of tears.

"Do you hear what I say?" resumed the Dictator, in the
same tones. "Or do you wish to quarrel with me? I give
you your choice, Miss Vandeleur."

There was another pause, and the Dictator spoke again.

"Take that man by the heels," he said. "I must have him
brought into the house. If I were a little younger, I
could help myself against the world. But now that years
and dangers are upon me, and my hands are weakened, I
must turn to you for aid."

"It is a crime," replied the girl.

"I am your father," said Mr. Vandeleur.

This appeal seemed to produce its effect. A scuffling
noise followed upon the gravel, a chair was overset,
and then Francis saw the father and daughter stagger
across the walk and disappear under the verandah,
bearing the inanimate body of Mr. Rolles embraced about
the knees and shoulders. The young clergyman was limp
and pallid, and his head rolled upon his shoulders at
every step.

Was he alive or dead? Francis, in spite of the
Dictator's declaration, inclined to the latter view.
A great crime had been committed; a great calamity had
fallen upon the inhabitants of the house with the green
blinds. To his surprise, Francis found all horror for
the deed swallowed up in sorrow for a girl and an old
man whom he judged to be in the height of peril. A tide
of generous feeling swept into his heart; he, too,
would help his father against man and mankind, against
fate and justice; and casting open the shutters he
closed his eyes and threw himself with outstretched
arms into the foliage of the chestnut.

Branch after branch slipped from his grasp or broke
under his weight; then he caught a stalwart bough under
his arm-pit, and hung suspended for a second; and then
he let himself drop and fell heavily against the table.
A cry of alarm from the house warned him that his
entrance had not been effected unobserved. He recovered
himself with a stagger, and in three bounds crossed the
intervening space and stood before the door in the

In a small apartment, carpeted with matting and
surrounded by glazed cabinets full of rare and costly
curios, Mr. Vandeleur was stooping over the body of Mr.
Rolles. He raised himself as Francis entered, and there
was an instantaneous passage of hands. It was the
business of a second; as fast as an eye can wink the
thing was done; the young man had not the time to be
sure, but it seemed to him as if the Dictator had taken
something from the curate's breast, looked at it for
the least fraction of time as it lay in his hand, and
then suddenly and swiftly passed it to his daughter.

All this was over while Francis had still one foot upon
the threshold, and the other raised in air. The next
instant he was on his knees to Mr. Vandeleur.

"Father!" he cried. "Let me too help you. I will do
what you wish and ask no questions; I will obey you
with my life; treat me as a son, and you will find I
have a son's devotion."

A deplorable explosion of oaths was the Dictator's
first reply.

"Son and father?" he cried. "Father and son? What d----d
unnatural comedy is all this? How do you come in my
garden? What do you want? And who, in God's name, are

Francis, with a stunned and shamefaced aspect, got upon
his feet again, and stood in silence.

Then a light seemed to break upon Mr. Vandeleur, and he
laughed aloud.

"I see," cried he. "It is the Scrymgeour. Very well,
Mr. Scrymgeour. Let me tell you in a few words how you
stand. You have entered my private residence by force,
or perhaps by fraud, but certainly with no
encouragement from me; and you come at a moment of some
annoyance, a guest having fainted at my table, to
besiege me with your protestations. You are no son of
mine. You are my brother's bastard by a fishwife, if
you want to know. I regard you with an indifference
closely bordering on aversion; and from what I now see
of your conduct, I judge your mind to be exactly
suitable to your exterior. I recommend you these
mortifying reflections for your leisure; and, in the
meantime, let me beseech you to rid us of your
presence. If I were not occupied," added the Dictator
with a terrifying oath, "I should give you the
unholiest drubbing ere you went!"

Francis listened in profound humiliation. He would have
fled had it been possible; but as he had no means of
leaving the residence into which he had so
unfortunately penetrated, he could do no more than
stand foolishly where he was.

It was Miss Vandeleur who broke the silence.

"Father," she said, "you speak in anger. Mr. Scrymgeour
may have been mistaken, but he meant well and kindly."

"Thank you for speaking," returned the Dictator. "You
remind me of some other observations which I hold it a
point of honour to make to Mr. Scrymgeour. My brother,"
he continued, addressing the young man, "has been
foolish enough to give you an allowance; he was foolish
enough and presumptuous enough to propose a match
between you and this young lady. You were exhibited to
her two nights ago; and I rejoice to tell you that she
rejected the idea with disgust. Let me add that I have
considerable influence with your father; and it shall
not be my fault if you are not beggared of your
allowance and sent back to your scrivening ere the week
be out."

The tones of the old man's voice were, if possible,
more wounding than his language; Francis felt himself
exposed to the most cruel, blighting, and unbearable
contempt; his head turned, and he covered his face with
his hands, uttering at the same time a tearless sob of
agony. But Miss Vandeleur once again interfered in his

"Mr. Scrymgeour," she said, speaking in clear and even
tones, "you must not be concerned at my father's harsh
expressions. I felt no disgust for you; on the
contrary, I asked an opportunity to make your better
acquaintance. As for what has passed to-night, believe
me it has filled my mind with both pity and esteem."

Just then Mr. Rolles made a convulsive movement with
his arm, which convinced Francis that he was only
drugged, and was beginning to throw off the influence
of the opiate. Mr. Vandeleur stooped over him and
examined his face for an instant.

"Come, come!" cried he, raising his head. "Let there be
an end of this. And since you are so pleased with his
conduct, Miss Vandeleur, take a candle and show the
bastard out."

The young lady hastened to obey.

"Thank you," said Francis, as soon as he was alone with
her in the garden. "I thank you from my soul. This has
been the bitterest evening of my life, but it will have
always one pleasant recollection."

"I spoke as I felt," she replied, "and in justice to
you. It made my heart sorry that you should be so
unkindly used."

By this time they had reached the garden gate; and Miss
Vandeleur, having set the candle on the ground, was
already unfastening the bolts.

"One word more," said Francis. "This is not for the
last time--I shall see you again, shall I not?"

"Alas!" she answered. "You have heard my father. What
can I do but obey?"

"Tell me at least that it is not with your consent,"
returned Francis; "tell me that you have no wish to see
the last of me."

"Indeed," replied she, "I have none. You seem to me
both brave and honest."

"Then," said Francis, "give me a keepsake."

She paused for a moment, with her hand upon the key;
for the various bars and bolts were all undone, and
there was nothing left but to open the lock.

"If I agree," she said, "will you promise to do as I
tell you from point to point?"

"Can you ask?" replied Francis. "I would do so
willingly on your bare word."

She turned the key and threw open the door.

"Be it so," said she. "You do not know what you ask,
but be it so. Whatever you hear," she continued,
"whatever happens, do not return to this house; hurry
fast until you reach the lighted and populous quarters
of the city; even there be upon your guard. You are in
a greater danger than you fancy. Promise me you will
not so much as look at my keepsake until you are in a
place of safety."

"I promise," replied Francis.

She put something loosely wrapped in a handkerchief
into the young man's hand; and at the same time, with
more strength than he could have anticipated, she
pushed him into the street.

"Now, run!" she cried.

He heard the door close behind him, and the noise of
the bolts being replaced.

"My faith," said he, "since I have promised!"

And he took to his heels down the lane that leads into
the Rue Ravignan.

He was not fifty paces from the house with the green
blinds when the most diabolical outcry suddenly arose
out of the stillness of the night. Mechanically he
stood still; another passenger followed his example; in
the neighbouring floors he saw people crowding to the
windows; a conflagration could not have produced more
disturbance in this empty quarter. And yet it seemed to
be all the work of a single man, roaring between grief
and rage, like a lioness robbed of her whelps; and
Francis was surprised and alarmed to hear his own name
shouted with English imprecations to the wind.

His first movement was to return to the house; his
second, as he remembered Miss Vandeleur's advice, to
continue his flight with greater expedition than
before; and he was in the act of turning to put his
thought in action, when the Dictator, bareheaded,
bawling aloud, his white hair blowing about his head,
shot past him like a ball out of the cannon's mouth,
and went careering down the street.

"That was a close shave," thought Francis to himself
"What he wants with me, and why he should be so
disturbed, I cannot think; but he is plainly not good
company for the moment, and I cannot do better than
follow Miss Vandeleur's advice."

So saying, he turned to retrace his steps, thinking to
double and descend by the Rue Lepic itself while his
pursuer should continue to follow after him on the
other line of street. The plan was ill-devised: as a
matter of fact, he should have taken his seat in the
nearest cafe, and waited there until the first heat of
the pursuit was over. But besides that Francis had no
experience and little natural aptitude for the small
war of private life, he was so unconscious of any evil
on his part, that he saw nothing to fear beyond a
disagreeable interview. And to disagreeable interviews
he felt he had already served his apprenticeship that
evening; nor could he suppose that Miss Vandeleur had
left anything unsaid. Indeed, the young man was sore
both in body and mind--the one was all bruised, the
other was full of smarting arrows; and he owned to
himself that Mr. Vandeleur was master of a very deadly

The thought of his bruises reminded him that he had not
only come without a hat, but that his clothes had
considerably suffered in his descent through the
chestnut. At the first magazine he purchased a cheap
wideawake, and had the disorder of his toilet summarily
repaired. The keepsake, still rolled in the
handkerchief, he thrust in the meanwhile into his
trousers pocket.

Not many steps beyond the shop he was conscious of a
sudden shock, a hand upon his throat, an infuriated
face close to his own, and an open mouth bawling curses
in his ear. The Dictator, having found no trace of his
quarry, was returning by the other way. Francis was a
stalwart young fellow; but he was no match for his
adversary, whether in strength or skill; and after a
few ineffectual struggles he resigned himself entirely
to his captor.

"What do you want with me?" said he.

"We will talk of that at home," returned the Dictator

And he continued to march the young man up hill in the
direction of the house with the green blinds.

But Francis, although he no longer struggled, was only
waiting an opportunity to make a bold push for freedom.
With a sudden jerk he left the collar of his coat in
the hands of Mr. Vandeleur, and once more made off at
his best speed in the direction of the Boulevards.

The tables were now turned. If the Dictator was the
stronger, Francis, in the top of his youth, was the
more fleet of foot, and he had soon effected his escape
among the crowds. Relieved for a moment, but with a
growing sentiment of alarm and wonder in his mind, he
walked briskly until he debouched upon the Place de
l'Opera, lit up like day with electric lamps.

"This, at least," thought he, "should satisfy Miss

And turning to his right along the Boulevards, he
entered the Cafe Americain and ordered some beer.
It was both late and early for the majority of the
frequenters of the establishment. Only two or three
persons, all men, were dotted here and there at
separate tables in the hall; and Francis was too much
occupied by his own thoughts to observe their presence.

He drew the handkerchief from his pocket. The object
wrapped in it proved to be a morocco case, clasped and
ornamented in gilt, which opened by means of a spring,
and disclosed to the horrified young man a diamond of
monstrous bigness and extraordinary brilliancy. The
circumstance was so inexplicable, the value of the
stone was plainly so enormous, that Francis sat staring
into the open casket without movement, without
conscious thought, like a man stricken suddenly with

A hand was laid upon his shoulder, lightly but firmly,
and a quiet voice, which yet had in it the ring of
command, uttered these words in his ear--

"Close the casket, and compose your face."

Looking up, he beheld a man, still young, of an urbane
and tranquil presence, and dressed with rich
simplicity. This personage had risen from a
neighbouring table, and, bringing his glass with him,
had taken a seat beside Francis.

"Close the casket," repeated the stranger, "and put it
quietly back into your pocket, where I feel persuaded
it should never have been. Try, if you please, to throw
off your bewildered air, and act as though I were one
of your acquaintances whom you had met by chance. So!
Touch glasses with me. That is better. I fear, sir, you
must be an amateur."

And the stranger pronounced these last words with a
smile of peculiar meaning, leaned back in his seat and
enjoyed a deep inhalation of tobacco.

"For God's sake," said Francis, "tell me who you are
and what this means. Why I should obey your most
unusual suggestions I am sure I know not; but the truth
is, I have fallen this evening into so many perplexing
adventures, and all I meet conduct themselves so
strangely, that I think I must either have gone mad or
wandered into another planet. Your face inspires me
with confidence; you seem wise, good, and experienced;
tell me, for heaven's sake, why you accost me in so odd
a fashion."

"All in due time," replied the stranger. "But I have
the first hand, and you must begin by telling me how
the Rajah's Diamond is in your possession."

"The Rajah's Diamond!" echoed Francis.

"I would not speak so loud, if I were you," returned
the other. "But most certainly you have the Rajah's
Diamond in your pocket. I have seen and handled it a
score of times in Sir Thomas Vandeleur's collection."

"Sir Thomas Vandeleur! The General! My father!" cried

"Your father?" repeated the stranger. "I was not aware
the General had any family."

"I am illegitimate, sir," replied Francis, with a

The other bowed with gravity. It was a respectful bow,
as of a man silently apologising to his equal; and
Francis felt relieved and comforted, he scarce knew
why. The society of this person did him good; he seemed
to touch firm ground; a strong feeling of respect grew
up in his bosom, and mechanically he removed his
wideawake as though in the presence of a superior.

"I perceive," said the stranger, "that your adventures
have not all been peaceful. Your collar is torn, your
face is scratched, you have a cut upon your temple; you
will, perhaps, pardon my curiosity when I ask you to
explain how you came by these injuries, and how you
happen to have stolen property to an enormous value in
your pocket."

"I must differ from you!" returned Francis hotly.
"I possess no stolen property. And if you refer to the
diamond, it was given to me not an hour ago by Miss
Vandeleur in the Rue Lepic."

"By Miss Vandeleur in the Rue Lepic!" repeated the
other. "You interest me more than you suppose. Pray

"Heavens!" cried Francis.

His memory had made a sudden bound. He had seen Mr.
Vandeleur take an article from the breast of his
drugged visitor, and that article, he was now
persuaded, was a morocco case.

"You have a light?" inquired the stranger.

"Listen," replied Francis. "I know not who you are, but
I believe you to be worthy of confidence and helpful; I
find myself in strange waters; I must have counsel and
support, and since you invite me I shall tell you all."

And he briefly recounted his experiences since the day
when he was summoned from the bank by his lawyer.

"Yours is indeed a remarkable history," said the
stranger, after the young man had made an end of his
narrative; "and your position is full of difficulty and
peril. Many would counsel you to seek out your father,
and give the diamond to him; but I have other views.--
Waiter!" he cried.

The waiter drew near.

"Will you ask the manager to speak with me a moment?"
said he; and Francis observed once more, both in his
tone and manner, the evidence of a habit of command.

The waiter withdrew, and returned in a moment with the
manager, who bowed with obsequious respect.

"What," said he, "can I do to serve you?"

"Have the goodness," replied the stranger, indicating
Francis, "to tell this gentleman my name."

"You have the honour, sir," said the functionary,
addressing young Scrymgeour, "to occupy the same table
with His Highness Prince Florizel of Bohemia."

Francis rose with precipitation, and made a grateful
reverence to the Prince, who bade him resume his seat.

"I thank you," said Florizel, once more addressing the
functionary; "I am sorry to have deranged you for so
small a matter."

And he dismissed him with a movement of his hand.

"And now," added the Prince, turning to Francis, "give
me the diamond."

Without a word the casket was handed over.

"You have done right," said Florizel; "your sentiments
have properly inspired you, and you will live to be
grateful for the misfortunes of to-night. A man, Mr.
Scrymgeour, may fall into a thousand perplexities, but
if his heart be upright and his intelligence unclouded,
he will issue from them all without dishonour. Let your
mind be at rest; your affairs are in my hand; and with
the aid of Heaven I am strong enough to bring them to a
good end. Follow me, if you please, to my carriage."

So saying the Prince arose, and, having left a piece of
gold for the waiter, conducted the young man from the
cafe and along the Boulevard to where an unpretentious
brougham and a couple of servants out of livery awaited
his arrival.

"This carriage," said he, "is at your disposal; collect
your baggage as rapidly as you can make it convenient,
and my servants will conduct you to a villa in the
neighbourhood of Paris where you can wait in some
degree of comfort until I have had time to arrange your
situation. You will find there a pleasant garden, a
library of good authors, a cook, a cellar, and some
good cigars, which I recommend to your attention.
Jerome," he added, turning to one of the servants, "you
have heard what I say; I leave Mr. Scrymgeour in your
charge; you will, I know, be careful of my friend."

Francis uttered some broken phrases of gratitude.

"It will be time enough to thank me," said the Prince,
"when you are acknowledged by your father and married
to Miss Vandeleur."

And with that the Prince turned away and strolled
leisurely in the direction of Montmartre. He hailed the
first passing cab, gave an address, and a quarter of an
hour afterwards, having discharged the driver some
distance lower, he was knocking at Mr. Vandeleur's
garden gate.

It was opened with singular precautions by the Dictator
in person.

"Who are you?" he demanded.

"You must pardon me this late visit, Mr. Vandeleur,"
replied the Prince.

"Your Highness is always welcome," returned Mr.
Vandeleur, stepping back.

The Prince profited by the open space, and without
waiting for his host walked right into the house and
opened the door of the _salon._ Two people were seated
there; one was Miss Vandeleur, who bore the marks of
weeping about her eyes, and was still shaken from time
to time by a sob; in the other the Prince recognised
the young man who had consulted him on literary matters
about a month before, in a club smoking-room.

"Good-evening, Miss Vandeleur," said Florizel; "you
look fatigued. Mr. Rolles, I believe? I hope you have
profited by the study of Gaboriau, Mr. Rolles."

But the young clergyman's temper was too much
embittered for speech; and he contented himself with
bowing stiffly, and continued to gnaw his lip.

"To what good wind," said Mr. Vandeleur, following his
guest, "am I to attribute the honour of your Highness's

"I am come on business," returned the Prince; "on
business with you; as soon as that is settled I shall
request Mr. Rolles to accompany me for a walk.--Mr.
Rolles," he added, with severity, "let me remind you
that I have not yet sat down."

The clergyman sprang to his feet with an apology;
whereupon the Prince took an arm-chair beside the
table, handed his hat to Mr. Vandeleur, his cane to Mr.
Rolles, and, leaving them standing and thus menially
employed upon his service, spoke as follows:--

"I have come here, as I said, upon business; but, had I
come looking for pleasure, I could not have been more
displeased with my reception nor more dissatisfied with
my company. You, sir," addressing Mr. Rolles, "you have
treated your superior in station with discourtesy; you,
Vandeleur, receive me with a smile, but you know right
well that your hands are not yet cleansed from
misconduct.--I do not desire to be interrupted, sir,"
he added imperiously; "I am here to speak, and not to
listen; and I have to ask you to hear me with respect,
and to obey punctiliously. At the earliest possible
date your daughter shall be married at the Embassy to
my friend, Francis Scrymgeour, your brother's
acknowledged son. You will oblige me by offering not
less than ten thousand pounds dowry. For yourself, I
will indicate to you in writing a mission of some
importance in Siam which I destine to your care. And
now, sir, you will answer me in two words whether or
not you agree to these conditions."

"Your Highness will pardon me," said Mr. Vandeleur,
"and permit me, with all respect, to submit to him two

"The permission is granted," replied the Prince.

"Your Highness," resumed the Dictator, "has called Mr.
Scrymgeour his friend. Believe me, had I known he was
thus honoured, I should have treated him with
proportional respect."

"You interrogate adroitly," said the Prince; "but it
will not serve your turn. You have my commands; if I
had never seen that gentleman before to-night, it would
not render them less absolute."

"Your Highness interprets my meaning with his usual
subtlety," returned Vandeleur. "Once more: I have,
unfortunately, put the police upon the track of Mr.
Scrymgeour on a charge of theft; am I to withdraw or to
uphold the accusation?"

"You will please yourself," replied Florizel. "The
question is one between your conscience and the laws of
this land. Give me my hat; and you, Mr. Rolles, give me
my cane and follow me. Miss Vandeleur, I wish you good-
evening. I judge," he added to Vandeleur, "that your
silence means unqualified assent."

"If I can do no better," replied the old man, "I shall
submit; but I warn you openly it shall not be without a

"You are old," said the Prince; "but years are
disgraceful to the wicked. Your age is more unwise than
the youth of others. Do not provoke me, or you may find
me harder than you dream. This is the first time that I
have fallen across your path in anger; take care that
it be the last."

With these words, motioning the clergyman to follow,
Florizel left the apartment and directed his steps
towards the garden gate; and the Dictator, following
with a candle, gave them light, and once more undid the
elaborate fastenings with which he sought to protect
himself from intrusion.

"Your daughter is no longer present," said the Prince,
turning on the threshold. "Let me tell you that I
understand your threats; and you have only to lift your
hand to bring upon yourself sudden and irremediable

The Dictator made no reply; but as the Prince turned
his back upon him in the lamplight he made a gesture
full of menace and insane fury; and the next moment,
slipping round a corner, he was running at full speed
for the nearest cab-stand.



Here (says my Arabian) the thread of events is finally
diverted from THE HOUSE WITH THE GREEN BLINDS. One more
adventure, he adds, and we have done with THE RAJAH'S
DIAMOND. That last link in the chain is known among the
inhabitants of Bagdad by the name of





PRINCE FLORIZEL walked with Mr. Rolles to the door of a
small hotel where the latter resided. They spoke much
together, and the clergyman was more than once affected
to tears by the mingled severity and tenderness of
Florizel's reproaches.

"I have made ruin of my life," he said at last. "Help
me; tell me what I am to do; I have, alas! neither the
virtues of a priest nor the dexterity of a rogue."

"Now that you are humbled," said the Prince, "I command
no longer; the repentant have to do with God, and not
with princes. But if you will let me advise you, go to
Australia as a colonist, seek menial labour in the open
air, and try to forget that you have ever been a
clergyman, or that you ever set eyes on that accursed

"Accurst indeed!" replied Mr. Rolles. "Where is it now?
What further hurt is it not working for mankind?"

"It will do no more evil," returned the Prince. "It is
here in my pocket And this," he added kindly, "will
show that I place some faith in your penitence, young
as it is."

"Suffer me to touch your hand," pleaded Mr. Rolles.

"No," replied Prince Florizel, "not yet."

The tone in which he uttered these last words was
eloquent in the ears of the young clergyman; and for
some minutes after the Prince had turned away he stood
on the threshold following with his eyes the retreating
figure and invoking the blessing of Heaven upon a man
so excellent in counsel.

For several hours the Prince walked alone in
unfrequented streets. His mind was full of concern;
what to do with the diamond, whether to return it to
its owner, whom he judged unworthy of this rare
possession, or to take some sweeping and courageous
measure and put it out of the reach of all mankind at
once and for ever, was a problem too grave to be
decided in a moment. The manner in which it had come
into his hands appeared manifestly providential; and as
he took out the jewel and looked at it under the street
lamps, its size and surprising brilliancy inclined him
more and more to think of it as of an unmixed and
dangerous evil for the world.

"God help me!" he thought; "if I look at it much
oftener I shall begin to grow covetous myself"

At last, though still uncertain in his mind, he turned
his steps towards the small but elegant mansion on the
river-side which had belonged for centuries to his
royal family. The arms of Bohemia are deeply graved
over the door and upon the tall chimneys; passengers
have a look into a green court set with the most costly
flowers; and a stork, the only one in Paris, perches on
the gable all day long and keeps a crowd before the
house. Grave servants are seen passing to and fro
within; and from time to time the great gate is thrown
open and a carriage rolls below the arch. For many
reasons this residence was especially dear to the heart
of Prince Florizel; he never drew near to it without
enjoying that sentiment of home-coming so rare in the
lives of the great; and on the present evening he
beheld its tall roof and mildly illuminated windows
with unfeigned relief and satisfaction.

As he was approaching the postern door by which he
always entered when alone, a man stepped forth from the
shadow and presented himself with an obeisance in the
Prince's path.

"I have the honour of addressing Prince Florizel of
Bohemia?" said he.

"Such is my title," replied the Prince. "What do you
want with me?"

"I am," said the man, "a detective, and I have to
present your Highness with this billet from the Prefect
of Police."

The Prince took the letter and glanced it through by
the light of the street lamp. It was highly apologetic,
but requested him to follow the bearer to the
Prefecture without delay.

"In short," said Florizel, "I am arrested."

"Your Highness," replied the officer, "nothing, I am
certain, could be further from the intention of the
Prefect. You will observe that he has not granted a
warrant. It is mere formality, or call it, if you
prefer, an obligation that your Highness lays on the

"At the same time," asked the Prince, "if I were to
refuse to follow you?"

"I will not conceal from your Highness that a
considerable discretion has been granted me," replied
the detective, with a bow.

"Upon my word," cried Florizel, "your effrontery
astounds me! Yourself, as an agent, I must pardon; but
your superiors shall dearly smart for their misconduct.
What, have you any idea, is the cause of this impolitic
and unconstitutional act? You will observe that I have
as yet neither refused nor consented, and much may
depend on your prompt and ingenuous answer. Let me
remind you, officer, that this is an affair of some

"Your Highness," said the detective humbly, "General
Vandeleur and his brother have had the incredible
presumption to accuse you of theft. The famous diamond,
they declare, is in your hands. A word from you in
denial will most amply satisfy the Prefect; nay, I go
further: if your Highness would so far honour a
subaltern as to declare his ignorance of the matter
even to myself, I should ask permission to retire upon
the spot."

Florizel, up to the last moment, had regarded his
adventure in the light of a trifle, only serious upon
international considerations. At the name of Vandeleur
the horrible truth broke upon him in a moment; he was
not only arrested, but he was guilty. This was not only
an annoying incident--it was a peril to his honour.
What was he to say? What was he to do? The Rajah's
Diamond was indeed an accursed stone; and it seemed as
if he were to be the last victim to its influence.

One thing was certain. He could not give the required
assurance to the detective. He must gain time.

His hesitation had not lasted a second.

"Be it so," said he, "let us walk together to the

The man once more bowed, and proceeded to follow
Florizel at a respectful distance in the rear.

"Approach," said the Prince. "I am in a humour to talk,
and, if I mistake not, now I look at you again, this is
not the first time that we have met."

"I count it an honour," replied the officer, "that your
Highness should recollect my face. It is eight years
since I had the pleasure of an interview."

"To remember faces," returned Florizel, "is as much a
part of my profession as it is of yours. Indeed,
rightly looked upon, a Prince and a detective serve in
the same corps. We are both combatants against crime;
only mine is the more lucrative and yours the more
dangerous rank, and there is a sense in which both may
be made equally honourable to a good man. I had rather,
strange as you may think it, be a detective of
character and parts than a weak and ignoble sovereign."

The officer was overwhelmed.

"Your Highness returns good for evil," said he. "To an
act of presumption he replies by the most amiable

"How do you know," replied Florizel, "that I am not
seeking to corrupt you?"

"Heaven preserve me from the temptation!" cried the

"I applaud your answer," returned the Prince. "It is
that of a wise and honest man. The world is a great
place, and stocked with wealth and beauty, and there is
no limit to the rewards that may be offered. Such an
one who would refuse a million of money may sell his
honour for an empire or the love of a woman; and I
myself, who speak to you, have seen occasions so
tempting, provocations so irresistible to the strength
of human virtue, that I have been glad to tread in your
steps and recommend myself to the grace of God. It is
thus, thanks to that modest and becoming habit alone,"
he added, "that you and I can walk this town together
with untarnished hearts."

"I had always heard that you were brave," replied the
officer, "but I was not aware that you were wise and
pious. You speak the truth, and you speak it with an
accent that moves me to the heart. This world is indeed
a place of trial."

"We are now," said Florizel, "in the middle of the
bridge. Lean your elbows on the parapet and look over.
As the water rushing below, so the passions and
complications of life carry away the honesty of weak
men. Let me tell you a story."

"I receive your Highness's commands," replied the man.

And, imitating the Prince, he leaned against the
parapet, and disposed himself to listen. The city was
already sunk in slumber; had it not been for the
infinity of lights and the outline of buildings on the
starry sky, they might have been alone beside some
country river.

"An officer," began Prince Florizel, "a man of courage
and conduct, who had already risen by merit to an
eminent rank, and won not only admiration but respect,
visited, in an unfortunate hour for his peace of mind,
the collections of an Indian Prince. Here he beheld a
diamond so extraordinary for size and beauty that from
that instant he had only one desire in life: honour,
reputation, friendship, the love of country--he was
ready to sacrifice all for this lump of sparkling
crystal. For three years he served this semi-barbarian
potentate as Jacob served Laban; he falsified
frontiers, he connived at murders, he unjustly
condemned and executed a brother officer who had the
misfortune to displease the Rajah by some honest
freedoms; lastly, at a time of great danger to his
native land, he betrayed a body of his fellow-soldiers,
and suffered them to be defeated and massacred by
thousands. In the end he had amassed a magnificent
fortune, and brought home with him the coveted diamond.

"Years passed," continued the Prince, "and at length
the diamond is accidentally lost. It falls into the
hands of a simple and laborious youth, a student, a
minister of God, just entering on a career of
usefulness and even distinction. Upon him also the
spell is cast; he deserts everything, his holy calling,
his studies, and flees with the gem into a foreign
country. The officer has a brother, an astute, daring,
unscrupulous man, who learns the clergyman's secret.
What does he do? Tell his brother, inform the police?
No; upon this man also the Satanic charm has fallen; he
must have the stone for himself. At the risk of murder,
he drugs the young priest and seizes the prey. And now,
by an accident which is not important to my moral, the
jewel passes out of his custody into that of another,
who, terrified at what he sees, gives it into the
keeping of a man in high station and above reproach.

"The officer's name is Thomas Vandeleur," continued
Florizel. "The stone is called the Rajah's Diamond.
And"--suddenly opening his hand--"you behold it here
before your eyes."

The officer started back with a cry.

"We have spoken of corruption," said the Prince. "To me
this nugget of bright crystal is as loathsome as though
it were crawling with the worms of death; it is as
shocking as though it were compacted out of innocent
blood. I see it here in my hand, and I know it is
shining with hell-fire. I have told you but a hundredth
part of its story; what passed in former ages, to what
crimes and treacheries it incited men of yore, the
imagination trembles to conceive; for years and years
it has faithfully served the powers of hell; enough, I
say, of blood, enough of disgrace, enough of broken
lives and friendships; all things come to an end, the
evil like the good; pestilence as well as beautiful
music; and as for this diamond, God forgive me if I do
wrong, but its empire ends to-night."

The Prince made a sudden movement with his hand, and
the jewel, describing an arc of light, dived with a
splash into the flowing river.

"Amen," said Florizel, with gravity. "I have slain a

"God pardon me!" cried the detective "What have you
done? I am a ruined man."

"I think," returned the Prince, with a smile, "that
many well-to-do people in this city might envy you your

"Alas! your Highness!" said the officer, "and you
corrupt me after all?"

"It seems there was no help for it," replied Florizel.--"
And now let us go forward to the Prefecture."



Not long after, the marriage of Francis Scrymgeour and
Miss Vandeleur was celebrated in great privacy; and the
Prince acted on that occasion as groom's-man. The two
Vandeleurs surprised some rumour of what had happened
to the diamond; and their vast diving operations on the
river Seine are the wonder and amusement of the idle.
It is true that through some miscalculation they have
chosen the wrong branch of the river.

As for the Prince, that sublime person, having now
served his turn, may go, along with the _Arabian
Author,_ topsy-turvy into space. But if the reader
insists on more specific information, I am happy to say
that a recent revolution hurled him from the throne of
Bohemia, in consequence of his continued absence and
edifying neglect of public business; and that his
Highness now keeps a cigar-store in Rupert Street, much
frequented by other foreign refugees. I go there from
time to time to smoke and have a chat, and find him as
great a creature as in the days of his prosperity; he
has an Olympian air behind the counter; and although a
sedentary life is beginning to tell upon his waistcoat,
he is probably, take him for all in all, the handsomest
tobacconist in London.






Originally published, "Cornhill Magazine,"
September and October 1880.

Reprinted in "New Arabian Nights":
Chatto and Windus, London, 1882.






I WAS a great solitary when I was young. I made it my
pride to keep aloof and suffice for my own
entertainment; and I may say that I had neither friends
nor acquaintances until I met that friend who became my
wife and the mother of my children. With one man only
was I on private terms; this was R. Northmour, Esquire,
of Graden-Easter, in Scotland. We had met at college;
and though there was not much liking between us, nor
even much intimacy, we were so nearly of a humour that
we could associate with ease to both. Misanthropes we
believed ourselves to be; but I have thought since that
we were only sulky fellows. It was scarcely a
companionship, but a co-existence in unsociability.
Northmour's exceptional violence of temper made it no
easy affair for him to keep the peace with any one but
me; and as he respected my silent ways, and let me come
and go as I pleased, I could tolerate his presence
without concern. I think we called each other friends.

When Northmour took his degree and I decided to leave
the University without one, he invited me on a long
visit to Graden-Easter; and it was thus that I first
became acquainted with the scene of my adventures.
The mansion-house of Graden stood in a bleak stretch of
country some three miles from the shore of the German
Ocean. It was as large as a barrack; and as it had been
built of a soft stone, liable to consume in the eager
air of the seaside, it was damp and draughty within and
half-ruinous without. It was impossible for two young
men to lodge with comfort in such a dwelling. But there
stood in the northern part of the estate, in a
wilderness of links and blowing sand-hills, and between
a plantation and the sea, a small Pavilion or
Belvidere, of modern design, which was exactly suited
to our wants; and in this hermitage, speaking little,
reading much, and rarely associating except at meals,
Northmour and I spent four tempestuous winter months.
I might have stayed longer; but one March night there
sprang up between us a dispute, which rendered my
departure necessary. Northmour spoke hotly, I remember,
and I suppose I must have made some tart rejoinder.
He leaped from his chair and grappled me; I had to fight,
without exaggeration, for my life; and it was only with
a great effort that I mastered him, for he was near as
strong in body as myself, and seemed filled with the
devil. The next morning we met on our usual terms; but
I judged it more delicate to withdraw; nor did he
attempt to dissuade me.

It was nine years before I revisited the neighbourhood.
I travelled at that time with a tilt-cart, a tent, and
a cooking-stove, tramping all day beside the waggon,
and at night, whenever it was possible, gipsying in a
cove of the hills, or by the side of a wood. I believe
I visited in this manner most of the wild and desolate
regions both in England and Scotland; and, as I had
neither friends nor relations, I was troubled with no
correspondence, and had nothing in the nature of
headquarters, unless it was the office of my
solicitors, from whom I drew my income twice a year.
It was a life in which I delighted; and I fully thought to
have grown old upon the march, and at last died in a

It was my whole business to find desolate corners,
where I could camp without the fear of interruption;
and hence, being in another part of the same shire, I
bethought me suddenly of the Pavilion on the Links.
No thoroughfare passed within three miles of it. The
nearest town, and that was but a fisher village, was at
a distance of six or seven. For ten miles of length,
and from a depth varying from three miles to half a
mile, this belt of barren country lay along the sea.
The beach, which was the natural approach, was full of
quicksands. Indeed, I may say there is hardly a better
place of concealment in the United Kingdom. I
determined to pass a week in the Sea-Wood of Graden-
Easter, and making a long stage, reached it about
sundown on a wild September day.

The country, I have said, was mixed sand-hill and
links; _links_ being a Scottish name for sand which has
ceased drifting and become more or less solidly covered
with turf. The pavilion stood on an even space; a
little behind it, the wood began in a hedge of elders
huddled together by the wind; in front, a few tumbled
sand-hills stood between it and the sea. An outcropping
of rock had formed a bastion for the sand, so that
there was here a promontory in the coast-line between
two shallow bays; and just beyond the tides, the rock
again cropped out and formed an islet of small
dimensions but strikingly designed. The quicksands were
of great extent at low water, and had an infamous
reputation in the country. Close inshore, between the
islet and the promontory, it was said they would
swallow a man in four minutes and a half; but there may
have been little ground for this precision. The
district was alive with rabbits, and haunted by gulls
which made a continual piping about the pavilion.
On summer days the outlook was bright, and even gladsome;
but at sundown in September, with a high wind, and a
heavy surf rolling in close along the links, the place
told of nothing but dead mariners and sea disaster.
A ship beating to windward on the horizon, and a huge
truncheon of wreck half-buried in the sands at my feet,
completed the innuendo of the scene.

The pavilion--it had been built by the last proprietor,
Northmour's uncle, a silly and prodigal virtuoso--
presented little signs of age. It was two stories in
height, Italian in design, surrounded by a patch of
garden in which nothing had prospered but a few coarse
flowers, and looked, with its shuttered windows, not
like a house that had been deserted, but like one that
had never been tenanted by man. Northmour was plainly
from home; whether, as usual, sulking in the cabin of
his yacht, or in one of his fitful and extravagant
appearances in the world of society, I had of course no
means of guessing. The place had an air of solitude
that daunted even a solitary like myself, the wind
cried in the chimneys with a strange and wailing note;
and it was with a sense of escape, as if I were going
indoors, that I turned away and, driving my cart before
me, entered the skirts of the wood.

The Sea-Wood of Graden had been planted to shelter the
cultivated fields behind, and check the encroachments
of the blowing sand. As you advanced into it from
coastward, elders were succeeded, by other hardy
shrubs; but the timber was all stunted and bushy; it
led a life of conflict; the trees were accustomed to
swing there all night long in fierce winter tempests;
and even in early spring the leaves were already
flying, and autumn was beginning, in this exposed
plantation. Inland the ground rose into a little hill,
which, along with the islet, served as a sailing mark
for seamen. When the hill was open of the islet to the
north, vessels must bear well to the eastward to clear
Graden Ness and the Graden Bullers. In the lower
ground, a streamlet ran among the trees, and, being
dammed with dead leaves and clay of its own carrying,
spread out every here and there, and lay in stagnant
pools. One or two ruined cottages were dotted about the
wood; and, according to Northmour, these were
ecclesiastical foundations, and in their time had
sheltered pious hermits.

I found a den, or small hollow, where there was a
spring of pure water; and there, clearing away the
brambles, I pitched the tent, and made a fire to cook
my supper. My horse I picketed farther in the wood,
where there was a patch of sward. The banks of the den
not only concealed the light of my fire, but sheltered
me from the wind, which was cold as well as high.

The life I was leading made me both hardy and frugal.
I never drank but water, and rarely ate anything more
costly than oatmeal; and I required so little sleep
that, although I rose with the peep of day, I would
often lie long awake in the dark or starry watches of
the night. Thus in Graden Sea-Wood, although I fell
thankfully asleep by eight in the evening, I was awake
again before eleven with a full possession of my
faculties, and no sense of drowsiness or fatigue.
I rose and sat by the fire, watching the trees and clouds
tumultuously tossing and fleeing overhead, and
hearkening to the wind and the rollers along the shore;
till at length, growing weary of inaction, I quitted
the den, and strolled towards the borders of the wood.
A young moon, buried in mist, gave a faint illumination
to my steps; and the light grew brighter as I walked
forth into the links. At the same moment, the wind,
smelling salt of the open ocean, and carrying particles
of sand, struck me with its full force, so that I had
to bow my head.

When I raised it again to look about me, I was aware of
a light in the pavilion. It was not stationary; but
passed from one window to another as though some one
were reviewing the different apartments with a lamp or
candle. I watched it for some seconds in great
surprise. When I had arrived in the afternoon the house
had been plainly deserted; now it was as plainly
occupied. It was my first idea that a gang of thieves
might have broken in and be now ransacking Northmour's
cupboards, which were many and not ill supplied. But
what should bring thieves to Graden-Easter? And again,
all the shutters had been thrown open, and it would
have been more in the character of such gentry to close
them. I dismissed the notion, and fell back upon
another: Northmour himself must have arrived, and was
now airing and inspecting the pavilion.

I have said that there was no real affection between
this man and me; but, had I loved him like a brother,
I was then so much more in love with solitude that I
should none the less have shunned his company. As it
was, I turned and ran for it; and it was with genuine
satisfaction that I found myself safely back beside the
fire. I had escaped an acquaintance; I should have one
more night in comfort. In the morning I might either
slip away before Northmour was abroad, or pay him as
short a visit as I chose.

But when morning came I thought the situation so
diverting that I forgot my shyness. Northmour was at my
mercy; I arranged a good practical jest, though I knew
well that my neighbour was not the man to jest with in
security; and, chuckling before-hand over its success,
took my place among the elders at the edge of the wood,
whence I could command the door of the pavilion. The
shutters were all once more closed, which I remember
thinking odd; and the house, with its white walls and
green venetians, looked spruce and habitable in the
morning light. Hour after hour passed, and still no
sign of Northmour. I knew him for a sluggard in the
morning, but as it drew on towards noon I lost my
patience. To say the truth, I had promised myself to
break my fast in the pavilion, and hunger began to
prick me sharply. It was a pity to let the opportunity
go by without some cause for mirth; but the grosser
appetite prevailed, and I relinquished my jest with
regret and sallied from the wood.

The appearance of the house affected me, as I drew
near, with disquietude. It seemed unchanged since last
evening; and I had expected it, I scarce knew why, to
wear some external signs of habitation. But no: the
windows were all closely shuttered, the chimneys
breathed no smoke, and the front door itself was
closely padlocked. Northmour therefore had entered by
the back; this was the natural, and indeed the
necessary, conclusion; and you may judge of my surprise
when, on turning the house, I found the back-door
similarly secured.

My mind at once reverted to the original theory of
thieves; and I blamed myself sharply for my last
night's inaction. I examined all the windows on the
lower story, but none of them had been tampered with; I
tried the padlocks, but they were both secure. It thus
became a problem how the thieves, if thieves they were,
had managed to enter the house. They must have got, I
reasoned, upon the roof of the outhouse where Northmour
used to keep his photographic battery; and from thence,
either by the window of the study or that of my old
bedroom, completed their burglarious entry.

I followed what I supposed was their example; and,
getting on the roof, tried the shutters of each room.
Both were secure; but I was not to be beaten; and, with
a little force, one of them flew open, grazing, as it
did so, the back of my hand. I remember I put the wound
to my mouth and stood for perhaps half a minute licking
it like a dog, and mechanically gazing behind me over
the waste links and the sea; and in that space of time
my eye made note of a large schooner yacht some miles
to the north-east. Then I threw up the window and
climbed in.

I went over the house, and nothing can express my
mystification. There was no sign of disorder, but, on
the contrary, the rooms were unusually clean and
pleasant. I found fires laid ready for lighting; three
bedrooms prepared with a luxury quite foreign to
Northmour's habits, and with water in the ewers and the
beds turned down; a table set for three in the dining-
room; and an ample supply of cold meats, game, and
vegetables on the pantry shelves. There were guests
expected, that was plain; but why guests when Northmour
hated society? And, above all, why was the house thus
stealthily prepared at dead of night? and why were the
shutters closed and the doors padlocked?

I effaced all traces of my visit, and came forth from
the window feeling sobered and concerned.

The schooner yacht was still in the same place; and it
flashed for a moment through my mind that this might be
the _Red Earl_ bringing the owner of the pavilion and
his guests. But the vessel's head was set the other






I RETURNED to the den to cook myself a meal, of which I
stood in great need, as well as to care for my horse,
which I had somewhat neglected in the morning. From
time to time I went down to the edge of the wood; but
there was no change in the pavilion, and not a human
creature was seen all day upon the links. The schooner
in the offing was the one touch of life within my range
of vision. She, apparently with no set object, stood
off and on or lay to, hour after hour; but as the
evening deepened she drew steadily nearer. I became
more convinced that she carried Northmour and his
friends, and that they would probably come ashore after
dark; not only because that was of a piece with the
secrecy of the preparations, but because the tide would
not have flowed sufficiently before eleven to cover
Graden Floe and the other sea-quags that fortified the
shore against invaders.

All day the wind had been going down, and the sea along
with it; but there was a return towards sunset of the
heavy weather of the day before. The night set in pitch
dark. The wind came off the sea in squalls, like the
firing of a battery of cannon; now and then there was a
flaw of rain, and the surf rolled heavier with the
rising tide. I was down at my observatory among the
elders, when a light was run up to the mast-head of the
schooner, and showed she was closer in than when I had
last seen her by the dying daylight. I concluded that
this must be a signal to Northmour's associates on
shore; and, stepping forth into the links, looked
around me for something in response.

A small footpath ran along the margin of the wood, and
formed the most direct communication between the
pavilion and the mansion-house; and as I cast my eyes
to that side I saw a spark of light, not a quarter of a
mile away, and rapidly approaching. From its uneven
course it appeared to be the light of a lantern carried
by a person who followed the windings of the path, and
was often staggered and taken aback by the more violent
squalls. I concealed myself once more among the elders,
and waited eagerly for the newcomer's advance. It
proved to be a woman; and as she passed within half a
rod of my ambush I was able to recognise the features.
The deaf and silent old dame who had nursed Northmour
in his childhood was his associate in this underhand

I followed her at a little distance, taking advantage
of the innumerable heights and hollows, concealed by
the darkness, and favoured not only by the nurse's
deafness, but by the uproar of the wind and surf. She
entered the pavilion, and, going at once to the upper
story, opened and set a light in one of the windows
that looked towards the sea. Immediately afterwards the
light at the schooner's mast-head was run down and
extinguished. Its purpose had been attained, and those
on board were sure that they were expected. The old
woman resumed her preparations; although the other
shutters remained closed, I could see a glimmer going
to and fro about the house; and a gush of sparks from
one chimney after another soon told me that the fires
were being kindled.

Northmour and his guests, I was now persuaded, would
come ashore as soon as there was water on the floe.
It was a wild night for boat service; and I felt some
alarm mingle with my curiosity as I reflected on the
danger of the landing. My old acquaintance, it was
true, was the most eccentric of men; but the present
eccentricity was both disquieting and lugubrious to
consider. A variety of feelings thus led me towards the
beach, where I lay flat on my face in a hollow within
six feet of the track that led to the pavilion. Thence
I should have the satisfaction of recognising the
arrivals, and, if they should prove to be
acquaintances, greeting them as soon as they had

Some time before eleven, while the tide was still
dangerously low, a boat's lantern appeared close
inshore; and, my attention being thus awakened, I could
perceive another still far to seaward, violently
tossed, and sometimes hidden by the billows. The
weather, which was getting dirtier as the night went
on, and the perilous situation of the yacht upon a lee-
shore, had probably driven them to attempt a landing at
the earliest possible moment.

A little afterwards, four yachtsmen carrying a very
heavy chest, and guided by a fifth with a lantern,
passed close in front of me as I lay, and were admitted
to the pavilion by the nurse. They returned to the
beach, and passed me a second time with another chest,
larger but apparently not so heavy as the first. A
third time they made the transit; and on this occasion
one of the yachtsmen carried a leather portmanteau, and
the others a lady's trunk and carriage bag. My
curiosity was sharply excited. If a woman were among
the guests of Northmour, it would show a change in his
habits and an apostasy from his pet theories of life,
well calculated to fill me with surprise. When he and I
dwelt there together, the pavilion had been a temple of
misogyny. And now, one of the detested sex was to be
installed under its roof. I remembered one or two
particulars, a few notes of daintiness and almost of
coquetry which had struck me the day before as I
surveyed the preparations in the house; their purpose
was now clear, and I thought myself dull not to have
perceived it from the first.

While I was thus reflecting, a second lantern drew near
me from the beach. It was carried by a yachtsman whom I
had not yet seen, and who was conducting two other
persons to the pavilion. These two persons were
unquestionably the guests for whom the house was made
ready; and, straining eye and ear, I set myself to
watch them as they passed. One was an unusually tall
man, in a travelling hat slouched over his eyes, and a
highland cape closely buttoned and turned up so as to
conceal his face. You could make out no more of him
than that he was, as I have said, unusually tall, and
walked feebly with a heavy stoop. By his side, and
either clinging to him or giving him support--I could
not make out which--was a young, tall, and slender
figure of a woman. She was extremely pale; but in the
light of the lantern her face was so marred by strong
and changing shadows that she might equally well have
been as ugly as sin or as beautiful as I afterwards
found her to be.

When they were just abreast of me, the girl made some
remark which was drowned by the noise of the wind.

"Hush!" said her companion; and there was something in
the tone with which the word was uttered that thrilled
and rather shook my spirits. It seemed to breathe from
a bosom labouring under the deadliest terror; I have
never heard another syllable so expressive; and I still
hear it again when I am feverish at night, and my mind
runs upon old times. The man turned towards the girl as
he spoke; I had a glimpse of much red beard and a nose
which seemed to have been broken in youth; and his
light eyes seemed shining in his face with some strong
and unpleasant emotion.

But these two passed on and were admitted in their turn
to the pavilion.

One by one, or in groups, the seamen returned to the
beach. The wind brought me the sound of a rough voice
crying, "Shove off!" Then, after a pause, another
lantern drew near. It was Northmour alone.

My wife and I, a man and a woman, have often agreed to
wonder how a person could be, at the same time, so
handsome and so repulsive as Northmour. He had the
appearance of a finished gentleman; his face bore every
mark of intelligence and courage; but you had only to
look at him, even in his most amiable moment, to see
that he had the temper of a slaver captain. I never
knew a character that was both explosive and revengeful
to the same degree; he combined the vivacity of the
South with the sustained and deadly hatreds of the
North; and both traits were plainly written on his
face, which was a sort of danger-signal. In person he
was tall, strong, and active; his hair and complexion
very dark; his features handsomely designed, but
spoiled by a menacing expression.

At that moment he was somewhat paler than by nature; he
wore a heavy frown; and his lips worked, and he looked
sharply round him as he walked, like a man besieged
with apprehensions. And yet I thought he had a look of
triumph underlying all, as though he had already done
much, and was near the end of an achievement.

Partly from a scruple of delicacy--which I daresay came
too late--partly from the pleasure of startling an
acquaintance, I desired to make my presence known to
him without delay.

I got suddenly to my feet and stepped forward.

"Northmour!" said I.

I have never had so shocking a surprise in all my days.
He leaped on me without a word; something shone in his
hand; and he struck for my heart with a dagger. At the
same moment I knocked him head over heels. Whether it
was my quickness, or his own uncertainty, I know not;
but the blade only grazed my shoulder, while the hilt
and his fist struck me violently on the mouth.

I fled, but not far. I had often and often observed the
capabilities of the sand-hills for protracted ambush or
stealthy advances and retreats; and, not ten yards from
the scene of the scuffle, plumped down again upon the
grass. The lantern had fallen and gone out. But what
was my astonishment to see Northmour slip at a bound
into the pavilion, and hear him bar the door behind him
with a clang of iron!

He had not pursued me. He had run away.

Northmour, whom I knew for the most implacable and
daring of men, had run away! I could scarce believe my
reason; and yet in this strange business, where all was
incredible, there was nothing to make a work about an
incredibility more or less. For why was the pavilion
secretly prepared? Why had Northmour landed with his
guests at dead of night, in half a gale of wind, and
with the floe scarce covered? Why had he sought to kill
me? Had he not recognised my voice? I wondered. And,
above all, how had he come to have a dagger ready in
his hand? A dagger, or even a sharp knife, seemed out
of keeping with the age in which we lived; and a
gentleman landing from his yacht on the shore of his
own estate, even although it was at night and with some
mysterious circumstances, does not usually, as a matter
of fact, walk thus prepared for deadly onslaught.
The more I reflected, the further I felt at sea.
I recapitulated the elements of mystery, counting them on
my fingers: the pavilion secretly prepared for guests;
the guests landed at the risk of their lives and to the
imminent peril of the yacht; the guests, or at least
one of them, in undisguised and seemingly causeless
terror; Northmour with a naked weapon; Northmour
stabbing his most intimate acquaintance at a word;
last, and not least strange, Northmour fleeing from the
man whom he had sought to murder, and barricading
himself, like a hunted creature, behind the door of the
pavilion. Here were at least six separate causes for
extreme surprise; each part and parcel with the others,
and forming all together one consistent story. I felt
almost ashamed to believe my own senses.

As I thus stood, transfixed with wonder, I began to
grow painfully conscious of the injuries I had received
in the scuffle; skulked round among the sand-hills;
and, by a devious path, regained the shelter of the
wood. On the way, the old nurse passed again within
several yards of me, still carrying her lantern, on the
return journey to the mansion-house of Graden. This
made a seventh suspicious feature in the case.
Northmour and his guest, it appeared, were to cook and
do the cleaning for themselves, while the old woman
continued to inhabit the big empty barrack among the
policies. There must surely be great cause for secrecy
when so many inconveniences were confronted to preserve

So thinking, I made my way to the den. For greater
security I trod out the embers of the fire, and lit my
lantern to examine the wound upon my shoulder. It was a
trifling hurt, although it bled somewhat freely, and I
dressed it as well as I could (for its position made it
difficult to reach) with some rag and cold water from
the spring. While I was thus busied I mentally declared
war against Northmour and his mystery. I am not an
angry man by nature, and I believe there was more
curiosity than resentment in my heart. But war I
certainly declared; and, by way of preparation, I got
out my revolver, and, having drawn the charges, cleaned
and reloaded it with scrupulous care. Next I became
preoccupied about my horse. It might break loose, or
fall to neighing, and so betray my camp in the Sea-
Wood. I determined to rid myself of its neighbourhood;
and long before dawn I was leading it over the links in
the direction of the fisher village.






FOR two days I skulked round the pavilion, profiting by
the uneven surface of the links. I became an adept in
the necessary tactics. These low hillocks and shallow
dells, running one into another, became a kind of cloak
of darkness for my enthralling, but perhaps
dishonourable, pursuit. Yet, in spite of this
advantage, I could learn but little of Northmour or his

Fresh provisions were brought under cover of darkness
by the old woman from the mansion-house. Northmour and
the young lady, sometimes together, but more often
singly, would walk for an hour or two at a time on the
beach beside the quicksand. I could not but conclude
that this promenade was chosen with an eye to secrecy;
for the spot was open only to the seaward. But it
suited me not less excellently; the highest and most
accidented of the sand-hills immediately adjoined; and
from these, lying flat in a hollow, I could overlook
Northmour or the young lady as they walked.

The tall man seemed to have disappeared. Not only did
he never cross the threshold, but he never so much as
showed face at a window; or, at least, not so far as I
could see; for I dared not creep forward beyond a
certain distance in the day, since the upper floor
commanded the bottoms of the links; and at night, when
I could venture farther, the lower windows were
barricaded as if to stand a siege. Sometimes I thought
the tall man must be confined to bed, for I remembered
the feebleness of his gait; and sometimes I thought he
must have gone clear away, and that Northmour and the
young lady remained alone together in the pavilion.
The idea, even then, displeased me.

Whether or not this pair were man and wife, I had seen
abundant reason to doubt the friendliness of their
relation. Although I could hear nothing of what they
said, and rarely so much as glean a decided expression
on the face of either, there was a distance, almost a
stiffness, in their bearing which showed them to be
either unfamiliar or at enmity. The girl walked faster
when she was with Northmour than when she was alone;
and I conceived that any inclination between a man and
a woman would rather delay than accelerate the step.
Moreover, she kept a good yard free of him, and trailed
her umbrella, as if it were a barrier, on the side
between them. Northmour kept sidling closer; and, as
the girl retired from his advance, their course lay at
a sort of diagonal across the beach, and would have
landed them in the surf had it been long enough
continued. But when this was imminent, the girl would
unostentatiously change sides and put Northmour between
her and the sea. I watched these manoeuvres, for my
part, with high enjoyment and approval, and chuckled to
myself at every move.

On the morning of the third day she walked alone for
some time, and I perceived, to my great concern, that
she was more than once in tears. You will see that my
heart was already interested more than I supposed. She
had a firm yet airy motion of the body, and carried her
head with unimaginable grace; every step was a thing to
look at, and she seemed in my eyes to breathe sweetness
and distinction.

The day was so agreeable, being calm and sun-shiny,
with a tranquil sea, and yet with a healthful piquancy
and vigour in the air, that, contrary to custom, she
was tempted forth a second time to walk. On this
occasion she was accompanied by Northmour, and they had
been but a short while on the beach, when I saw him
take forcible possession of her hand. She struggled,
and uttered a cry that was almost a scream. I sprang to
my feet, unmindful of my strange position; but, ere I
had taken a step, I saw Northmour bareheaded and bowing
very low, as if to apologise; and dropped again at once
into my ambush. A few words were interchanged; and
then, with another bow, he left the beach to return to
the pavilion. He passed not far from me, and I could
see him, flushed and lowering, and cutting savagely
with his cane among the grass. It was not without
satisfaction that I recognised my own handiwork in a
great cut under his right eye, and a considerable
discoloration round the socket.

For some time the girl remained where he had left her,
looking out past the islet and over the bright sea.
Then with a start, as one who throws off pre-occupation
and puts energy again upon its mettle, she broke into a
rapid and decisive walk. She also was much incensed by
what had passed. She had forgotten where she was. And I
beheld her walk straight into the borders of the
quicksand where it is most abrupt and dangerous. Two or
three steps farther and her life would have been in
serious jeopardy, when I slid down the face of the
sand-hill, which is there precipitous, and, running
half-way forward, called to her to stop.

She did so, and turned round. There was not a tremor of
fear in her behaviour, and she marched directly up to
me like a queen. I was barefoot, and clad like a common
sailor, save for an Egyptian scarf round my waist; and
she probably took me at first for some one from the
fisher village, straying after bait. As for her, when I
thus saw her face to face, her eyes set steadily and
imperiously upon mine, I was filled with admiration and
astonishment, and thought her even more beautiful than
I had looked to find her. Nor could I think enough of
one who, acting with so much boldness, yet preserved a
maidenly air that was both quaint and engaging; for my
wife kept an old-fashioned precision of manner through
all her admirable life--an excellent thing in woman,
since it sets another value on her sweet familiarities.

"What does this mean?" she asked.

"You were walking," I told her, "directly into Graden

"You do not belong to these parts," she said again.
"You speak like an educated man."

"I believe I have right to that name," said I,
"although in this disguise."

But her woman's eye had already detected the sash.

"Oh!" she said; "your sash betrays you."

"You have said the word _betray,_" I resumed. "May I
ask you not to betray me? I was obliged to disclose
myself in your interest; but if Northmour learned my
presence it might be worse than disagreeable for me."

"Do you know," she asked, "to whom you are speaking?"

"Not to Mr. Northmour's wife?" I asked, by way of

She shook her head. All this while she was studying my
face with an embarrassing intentness. Then she broke

"You have an honest face. Be honest like your face,
sir, and tell me what you want and what you are afraid
of. Do you think I could hurt you? I believe you have
far more power to injure me! And yet you do not look
unkind. What do you mean--you, a gentleman--by skulking
like a spy about this desolate place? Tell me," she
said, "who is it you hate?"

"I hate no one," I answered; "and I fear no one face to
face. My name is Cassilis--Frank Cassilis. I lead the
life of a vagabond for my own good pleasure. I am one
of Northmour's oldest friends; and three nights ago,
when I addressed him on these links, he stabbed me in
the shoulder with a knife."

"It was you!" she said.

"Why he did so," I continued, disregarding the
interruption, "is more than I can guess, and more than
I care to know. I have not many friends, nor am I very
susceptible to friendship; but no man shall drive me
from a place by terror. I had camped in Graden Sea-Wood
ere he came; I camp in it still. If you think I mean
harm to you or yours, madam, the remedy is in your
hand. Tell him that my camp is in the Hemlock Den, and
to-night he can stab me in safety while I sleep."

With this I doffed my cap to her, and scrambled up once
more among the sand-hills. I do not know why, but I
felt a prodigious sense of injustice, and felt like a
hero and a martyr; while, as a matter of fact, I had
not a word to say in my defence, nor so much as one
plausible reason to offer for my conduct. I had stayed
at Graden out of a curiosity natural enough, but
undignified; and though there was another motive
growing in along with the first, it was not one which,
at that period, I could have properly explained to the
lady of my heart.

Certainly, that night, I thought of no one else; and,
though her whole conduct and position seemed
suspicious, I could not find it in my heart to
entertain a doubt of her integrity. I could have staked
my life that she was clear of blame, and, though all
was dark at the present, that the explanation of the
mystery would show her part in these events to be both
right and needful. It was true, let me cudgel my
imagination as I pleased, that I could invent no theory
of her relations to Northmour; but I felt none the less
sure of my conclusion because it was founded on
instinct in place of reason, and, as I may say, went to
sleep that night with the thought of her under my

Next day she came out about the same hour alone, and,
as soon as the sand-hills concealed her from the
pavilion, drew nearer to the edge, and called me by
name in guarded tones. I was astonished to observe that
she was deadly pale, and seemingly under the influence
of strong emotion.

"Mr. Cassilis!" she cried; "Mr. Cassilis!"

I appeared at once, and leaped down upon the beach.
A remarkable air of relief overspread her countenance as
soon as she saw me.

"Oh!" she cried, with a hoarse sound, like one whose
bosom has been lightened of a weight. And then, "Thank
God you are still safe!" she added; "I knew, if you
were, you would be here." (Was not this strange? So
swiftly and wisely does Nature prepare our hearts for
these great life-long intimacies, that both my wife and
I had been given a presentiment on this the second day
of our acquaintance. I had even then hoped that she
would seek me; she had felt sure that she would find
me.) "Do not," she went on swiftly, "do not stay in
this place. Promise me that you will sleep no longer in
that wood. You do not know how I suffer; all last night
I could not sleep for thinking of your peril."

"Peril?" I repeated. "Peril from whom? From Northmour?"

"Not so," she said. "Did you think I would tell him
after what you said?"

"Not from Northmour?" I repeated. "Then how? From whom?
I see none to be afraid of"

"You must not ask me," was her reply, "for I am not
free to tell you. Only believe me, and go hence--
believe me, and go away quickly, quickly, for your

An appeal to his alarm is never a good plan to rid
oneself of a spirited young man. My obstinacy was but
increased by what she said, and I made it a point of
honour to remain. And her solicitude for my safety
still more confirmed me in the resolve.

"You must not think me inquisitive, madam," I replied;
"but, if Graden is so dangerous a place, you yourself
perhaps remain here at some risk."

She only looked at me reproachfully.

"You and your father " I resumed; but she interrupted
me almost with a gasp.

"My father! How do you know that?" she cried.

"I saw you together when you landed," was my answer;
and I do not know why, but it seemed satisfactory to
both of us, as indeed it was the truth. "But," I
continued, "you need have no fear from me. I see you
have some reason to be secret, and, you may believe me,
your secret is as safe with me as if I were in Graden
Floe. I have scarce spoken to any one for years; my
horse is my only companion, and even he, poor beast, is
not beside me. You see, then, you may count on me for
silence. So tell me the truth, my dear young lady, are
you not in danger?"

"Mr. Northmour says you are an honourable man," she
returned, "and I believe it when I see you. I will tell
you so much; you are right; we are in dreadful,
dreadful danger, and you share it by remaining where
you are."

"Ah!" said I; "you have heard of me from Northmour? And
he gives me a good character?"

"I asked him about you last night," was her reply.
"I pretended," she hesitated, "I pretended to have met you
long ago, and spoken to you of him. It was not true;
but I could not help myself without betraying you, and
you had put me in a difficulty. He praised you highly."

"And--you may permit me one question--does this danger
come from Northmour?" I asked.

"From Mr. Northmour?" she cried. "Oh no; he stays with
us to share it."

"While you propose that I should run away?" I said.
"You do not rate me very high."

"Why should you stay?" she asked. "You are no friend of

I know not what came over me, for I had not been
conscious of a similar weakness since I was a child,
but I was so mortified by this retort that my eyes
pricked and filled with tears, as I continued to gaze
upon her face.

"No, no," she said, in a changed voice; "I did not mean
the words unkindly."

"It was I who offended," I said; and I held out my hand
with a look of appeal that somehow touched her, for she
gave me hers at once, and even eagerly. I held it for a
while in mine, and gazed into her eyes. It was she who
first tore her hand away, and, forgetting all about her
request and the promise she had sought to extort, ran
at the top of her speed, and without turning, till she
was out of sight. And then I knew that I loved her, and
thought in my glad heart that she--she herself--was not
indifferent to my suit. Many a time she has denied it
in after days, but it was with a smiling and not a
serious denial. For my part, I am sure our hands would
not have lain so closely in each other if she had not
begun to melt to me already. And, when all is said, it
is no great contention, since, by her own avowal, she
began to love me on the morrow.

And yet on the morrow very little took place. She came
and called me down as on the day before, upbraided me
for lingering at Graden, and, when she found I was
still obdurate, began to ask me more particularly as to
my arrival. I told her by what series of accidents I
had come to witness their disembarkation, and how I had
determined to remain, partly from the interest which
had been wakened in me by Northmour's guests, and
partly because of his own murderous attack. As to the
former, I fear I was disingenuous, and led her to
regard herself as having been an attraction to me from
the first moment that I saw her on the links. It
relieves my heart to make this confession even now,
when my wife is with God, and already knows all things,
and the honesty of my purpose even in this; for while
she lived, although it often pricked my conscience, I
had never the hardihood to undeceive her. Even a little
secret, in such a married life as ours, is like the
rose-leaf which kept the Princess from her sleep.

From this the talk branched into other subjects, and I
told her much about my lonely and wandering existence;
she, for her part, giving ear and saying little.
Although we spoke very naturally, and latterly on
topics that might seem indifferent, we were both
sweetly agitated. Too soon it was time for her to go;
and we separated, as if by mutual consent, without
shaking hands, for both knew that, between us, it was
no idle ceremony.

The next, and that was the fourth day of our
acquaintance, we met in the same spot, but early in the
morning, with much familiarity and yet much timidity on
either side. When she had once more spoken about my
danger--and that, I understood, was her excuse for
coming--I, who had prepared a great deal of talk during
the night, began to tell her how highly I valued her
kind interest, and how no one had ever cared to hear
about my life, nor had I ever cared to relate it,
before yesterday. Suddenly she interrupted me, saying
with vehemence--

"And yet, if you knew who I was, you would not so much
as speak to me!"

I told her such a thought was madness, and, little as
we had met, I counted her already a dear friend; but my
protestations seemed only to make her more desperate.

"My father is in hiding!" she cried.

"My dear," I said, forgetting for the first time to add
"young lady," "what do I care? If he were in hiding
twenty times over, would it make one thought of change
in you?"

"Ah, but the cause!" she cried, "the cause! It is----"
she faltered for a second--"it is disgraceful to us!"






THIS was my wife's story, as I drew it from her among
tears and sobs. Her name was Clara Huddlestone: it
sounded very beautiful in my ears; but not so beautiful
as that other name of Clara Cassilis, which she wore
during the longer, and I thank God the happier, portion
of her life. Her father, Bernard Huddlestone, had been
a private banker in a very large way of business. Many
years before, his affairs becoming disordered, he had
been led to try dangerous, and at last criminal,
expedients to retrieve himself from ruin. All was in
vain; he became more and more cruelly involved, and
found his honour lost at the same moment with his
fortune. About this period Northmour had been courting
his daughter with great assiduity, though with small
encouragement; and to him, knowing him thus disposed in
his favour, Bernard Huddlestone turned for help in his
extremity. It was not merely ruin and dishonour, nor
merely a legal condemnation, that the unhappy man had
brought upon his head. It seems he could have gone to
prison with a light heart. What he feared, what kept
him awake at night or recalled him from slumber into
frenzy, was some secret, sudden, and unlawful attempt
upon his life. Hence he desired to bury his existence
and escape to one of the islands in the South Pacific,
and it was in Northmour's yacht, the _Red Earl,_ that
he designed to go. The yacht picked them up
clandestinely upon the coast of Wales, and had once
more deposited them at Graden, till she could be
refitted and provisioned for the longer voyage. Nor
could Clara doubt that her hand had been stipulated as
the price of passage. For, although Northmour was
neither unkind nor even discourteous, he had shown
himself in several instances somewhat over-bold in
speech and manner.

I listened, I need not say, with fixed attention, and
put many questions as to the more mysterious part. It
was in vain. She had no clear idea of what the blow
was, nor of how it was expected to fall. Her father's
alarm was unfeigned and physically prostrating, and he
had thought more than once of making an unconditional
surrender to the police. But the scheme was finally
abandoned, for he was convinced that not even the
strength of our English prisons could shelter him from
his pursuers. He had had many affairs with Italy, and
with Italians resident in London, in the later years of
his business; and these last, as Clara fancied, were
somehow connected with the doom that threatened him.
He had shown great terror at the presence of an Italian
seaman on board the _Red Earl,_ and had bitterly and
repeatedly accused Northmour in consequence. The latter
had protested that Beppo (that was the seaman's name)
was a capital fellow, and could be trusted to the
death; but Mr. Huddlestone had continued ever since to
declare that all was lost, that it was only a question
of days, and that Beppo would be the ruin of him yet.

I regarded the whole story as the hallucination of a
mind shaken by calamity. He had suffered heavy loss by
his Italian transactions; and hence the sight of an
Italian was hateful to him, and the principal part in
his nightmare would naturally enough be played by one
of that nation.

"What your father wants," I said, "is a good doctor and
some calming medicine."

"But Mr. Northmour?" objected your mother. "He is
untroubled by losses, and yet he shares in this

I could not help laughing at what I considered her

"My dear," said I, "you have told me yourself what
reward he has to look for. All is fair in love, you
must remember; and if Northmour foments your father's
terrors, it is not at all because he is afraid of any
Italian man, but simply because he is infatuated with a
charming English woman."

She reminded me of his attack upon myself on the night
of the disembarkation, and this I was unable to
explain. In short, and from one thing to another, it
was agreed between us that I should set out at once for
the fisher village, Graden-Wester, as it was called,
look up all the newspapers I could find, and see for
myself if there seemed any basis of fact for these
continued alarms. The next morning, at the same hour
and place, I was to make my report to Clara. She said
no more on that occasion about my departure; nor,
indeed, did she make it a secret that she clung to the
thought of my proximity as something helpful and
pleasant; and, for my part, I could not have left her,
if she had gone upon her knees to ask it.

I reached Graden-Wester before ten in the fore-noon;
for in those days I was an excellent pedestrian, and
the distance, as I think I have said, was little over
seven miles; fine walking all the way upon the springy
turf. The village is one of the bleakest on that coast,
which is saying much: there is a church in a hollow; a
miserable haven in the rocks, where many boats have
been lost as they returned from fishing; two or three
score of stone houses arranged along the beach and in
two streets, one leading from the harbour, and another
striking out from it at right angles; and, at the
corner of these two, a very dark and cheerless tavern,
by way of principal hotel.

I had dressed myself somewhat more suitably to my
station in life, and at once called upon the minister
in his little manse beside the graveyard. He knew me,
although it was more than nine years since we had met;
and when I told him that I had been long upon a walking
tour, and was behind with the news, readily lent me an
armful of newspapers, dating from a month back to the
day before. With these I sought the tavern, and,
ordering some breakfast, sat down to study the
"Huddlestone Failure."

It had been, it appeared, a very flagrant case.
Thousands of persons were reduced to poverty; and one
in particular had blown out his brains as soon as
payment was suspended. It was strange to myself that,
while I read these details, I continued rather to
sympathise with Mr. Huddlestone than with his victims;
so complete already was the empire of my love for my
wife. A price was naturally set upon the banker's head;
and, as the case was inexcusable and the public
indignation thoroughly aroused, the unusual figure of
750 Pounds was offered for his capture. He was reported
to have large sums of money in his possession. One day
he had been heard of in Spain; the next, there was sure
intelligence that he was still lurking between
Manchester and Liverpool, or along the border of Wales;
and the day after, a telegram would announce his
arrival in Cuba or Yucatan. But in all this there was
no word of an Italian, nor any sign of mystery.

In the very last paper, however, there was one item not
so clear. The accountants who were charged to verify
the failure had, it seemed, come upon the traces of a
very large number of thousands, which figured for some
time in the transactions of the house of Huddlestone;
but which came from nowhere, and disappeared in the
same mysterious fashion. It was only once referred to
by name, and then under the initials "X. X."; but it
had plainly been floated for the first time into the
business at a period of great depression some six years
ago. The name of a distinguished Royal personage had
been mentioned by rumour in connection with this sum.
"The cowardly desperado"--such, I remember, was the
editorial expression--was supposed to have escaped with
a large part of this mysterious fund still in his

I was still brooding over the fact, and trying to
torture it into some connection with Mr. Huddlestone's
danger, when a man entered the tavern and asked for
some bread and cheese with a decided foreign accent.

"_Siete Italiano?_" said I.

"_Si, signor,_" was his reply.

I said it was unusually far north to find one of his
compatriots; at which he shrugged his shoulders, and
replied that a man would go anywhere to find work. What
work he could hope to find at Graden-Wester I was
totally unable to conceive; and the incident struck so
unpleasantly upon my mind that I asked the landlord,
while he was counting me some change, whether he had
ever before seen an Italian in the village. He said he
had once seen some Norwegians, who had been shipwrecked
on the other side of Graden Ness and rescued by the
lifeboat from Cauldhaven.

"No!" said I; "but an Italian, like the man who has
just had bread and cheese?"

"What?" cried he, "yon blackavised fellow wi' the
teeth? Was he an I-talian? Weel, yon's the first that
ever I saw, an' I daresay he's like to be the last."

Even as he was speaking, I raised my eyes, and, casting
a glance into the street, beheld three men in earnest
conversation together, and not thirty yards away. One
of them was my recent companion in the tavern parlour;
the other two, by their handsome, sallow features and
soft hats, should evidently belong to the same race.
A crowd of village children stood around them,
gesticulating and talking gibberish in imitation.
The trio looked singularly foreign to the bleak dirty
street in which they were standing, and the dark grey
heaven that overspread them; and I confess my
incredulity received at that moment a shock from which
it never recovered. I might reason with myself as I
pleased, but I could not argue down the effect of what
I had seen, and I began to share in the Italian terror.

It was already drawing towards the close of the day
before I had returned the newspapers at the manse, and
got well forward on to the links on my way home. I
shall never forget that walk. It grew very cold and
boisterous; the wind sang in the short grass about my
feet; thin rain showers came running on the gusts; and
an immense mountain range of clouds began to arise out
of the bosom of the sea. It would be hard to imagine a
more dismal evening; and whether it was from these
external influences, or because my nerves were already
affected by what I had heard and seen, my thoughts were
as gloomy as the weather.

The upper windows of the pavilion commanded a
considerable spread of links in the direction of
Graden-Wester. To avoid observation it was necessary to
hug the beach until I had gained cover from the higher
sand-hills on the little headland, when I might strike
across, through the hollows, for the margin of the
wood. The sun was about setting; the tide was low, and
all the quicksands uncovered; and I was moving along,
lost in unpleasant thought, when I was suddenly
thunder-struck to perceive the prints of human feet.
They ran parallel to my own course, but low down upon
the beach instead of along the border of the turf, and,
when I examined them, I saw at once, by the size and
coarseness of the impression, that it was a stranger to
me and to those in the pavilion who had recently passed
that way. Not only so; but from the recklessness of the
course which he had followed, steering near to the most
formidable portions of the sand, he was as evidently a
stranger to the country and to the ill-repute of Graden

Step by step I followed the prints; until, a quarter of
a mile farther, I beheld them die away into the south-
eastern boundary of Graden Floe. There, whoever he was,
the miserable man had perished. One or two gulls, who
had, perhaps, seen him disappear, wheeled over his
sepulchre with their usual melancholy piping. The sun
had broken through the clouds by a last effort, and
coloured the wide level of quicksands with a dusky
purple. I stood for some time gazing at the spot,
chilled and disheartened by my own reflections, and
with a strong and commanding consciousness of death.
I remember wondering how long the tragedy had taken, and
whether his screams had been audible at the pavilion.
And then, making a strong resolution, I was about to
tear myself away, when a gust fiercer than usual fell
upon this quarter of the beach, and I saw, now whirling
high in air, now skimming lightly across the surface of
the sands, a soft, black, felt hat, somewhat conical in
shape, such as I had remarked already on the heads of
the Italians.

I believe, but I am not sure, that I uttered a cry. The
wind was driving the hat shoreward, and I ran round the
border of the floe to be ready against its arrival. The
gust fell, dropping the hat for a while upon the
quicksand, and then, once more freshening, landed it a
few yards from where I stood. I seized it with the
interest you may imagine. It had seen some service;
indeed, it was rustier than either of those I had seen
that day upon the street. The lining was red, stamped
with the name of the maker, which I have forgotten, and
that of the place of manufacture, _Venedig._ This (it
is not yet forgotten) was the name given by the
Austrians to the beautiful city of Venice, then, and
for long after, a part of their dominions.

The shock was complete. I saw imaginary Italians upon
every side; and for the first, and, I may say, for the
last time in my experience, became overpowered by what
is called a panic terror. I knew nothing, that is, to
be afraid of, and yet I admit that I was heartily
afraid; and it was with a sensible reluctance that I
returned to my exposed and solitary camp in the Sea-

There I ate some cold porridge which had been left over
from the night before, for I was disinclined to make a
fire; and feeling strengthened and reassured, dismissed
all these fanciful terrors from my mind, and lay down
to sleep with composure.

How long I may have slept it is impossible for me to
guess; but I was awakened at last by a sudden, blinding
flash of light into my face. It woke me like a blow.
In an instant I was upon my knees. But the light had gone
as suddenly as it came. The darkness was intense. And,
as it was blowing great guns from the sea and pouring
with rain, the noises of the storm effectually
concealed all others.

It was, I daresay, half a minute before I regained my
self-possession. But for two circumstances, I should
have thought I had been awakened by some new and vivid
form of nightmare. First, the flap of my tent, which I
had shut carefully when I retired, was now unfastened;
and, second, I could still perceive, with a sharpness
that excluded any theory of hallucination, the smell of
hot metal and of burning oil. The conclusion was
obvious. I had been wakened by some one flashing a
bull's-eye lantern in my face. It had been but a flash,
and away. He had seen my face, and then gone. I asked
myself the object of so strange a proceeding, and the
answer came pat. The man, whoever he was, had thought
to recognise me, and he had not. There was yet another
question unresolved: and to this, I may say, I feared
to give an answer; if he had recognised me, what would
he have done?

My fears were immediately diverted from myself, for I
saw that I had been visited in a mistake; and I became
persuaded that some dreadful danger threatened the
pavilion. It required some nerve to issue forth into
the black and intricate thicket which surrounded and
overhung the den; but I groped my way to the links,
drenched with rain, beaten upon and deafened by the
gusts, and fearing at every step to lay my hand upon
some lurking adversary. The darkness was so complete
that I might have been surrounded by an army and yet
none the wiser, and the uproar of the gale so loud that
my hearing was as useless as my sight.

For the rest of that night, which seemed interminably
long, I patrolled the vicinity of the pavilion, without
seeing a living creature or hearing any noise but the
concert of the wind, the sea, and the rain. A light in
the upper story filtered through a cranny of the
shutter, and kept me company till the approach of dawn.






WITH the first peep of day I retired from the open to
my old lair among the sand-hills, there to await the
coming of my wife. The morning was grey, wild, and
melancholy; the wind moderated before sunrise, and then
went about, and blew in puffs from the shore; the sea
began to go down, but the rain still fell without
mercy. Over all the wilderness of links there was not a
creature to be seen. Yet I felt sure the neighbourhood
was alive with skulking foes. The light had been so
suddenly and surprisingly flashed upon my face as I lay
sleeping, and the hat that had been blown ashore by the
wind from over Graden Floe, were two speaking signals
of the peril that environed Clara and the party in the

It was perhaps half-past seven, or nearer eight, before
I saw the door open, and that dear figure come towards
me in the rain. I was waiting for her on the beach
before she had crossed the sand-hills.

"I have had such trouble to come!" she cried. "They did
not wish me to go walking in the rain."

"Clara," I said, "you are not frightened?"

"No," said she, with a simplicity that filled my heart
with confidence. For my wife was the bravest as well as
the best of women; in my experience I have not found
the two go always together, but with her they did; and
she combined the extreme of fortitude with the most
endearing and beautiful virtues.

I told her what had happened; and though her cheek grew
visibly paler, she retained perfect control over her

"You see now that I am safe," said I, in conclusion.
"They do not mean to harm me; for, had they chosen, I
was a dead man last night."

She laid her hand upon my arm.

"And I had no presentiment!" she cried.

Her accent thrilled me with delight. I put my arm about
her, and strained her to my side; and before either of
us was aware, her hands were on my shoulders and my
lips upon her mouth. Yet up to that moment no word of
love had passed between us. To this day I remember the
touch of her cheek, which was wet and cold with the
rain; and many a time since, when she has been washing
her face, I have kissed it again for the sake of that
morning on the beach. Now that she is taken from me,
and I finish my pilgrimage alone, I recall our old
loving-kindnesses and the deep honesty and affection
which united us, and my present loss seems but a trifle
in comparison.

We may have thus stood for some seconds--for time
passes quickly with lovers--before we were startled by
a peal of laughter close at hand. It was not natural
mirth, but seemed to be affected in order to conceal an
angrier feeling. We both turned, though I still kept my
left arm about Clara's waist; nor did she seek to
withdraw herself; and there, a few paces off upon the
beach, stood Northmour, his head lowered, his hands
behind his back, his nostrils white with passion.

"Ah! Cassilis!" he said, as I disclosed my face.

"That same," said I; for I was not at all put about.

"And so, Miss Huddlestone," he continued slowly but
savagely, "this is how you keep your faith to your
father and to me? This is the value you set upon your
father's life? And you are so infatuated with this
young gentleman that you must brave ruin, and decency,
and common human caution----"

"Miss Huddlestone" I was beginning to interrupt him,
when he, in his turn, cut in brutally--

"You hold your tongue," said he; "I am speaking to that

"That girl, as you call her, is my wife," said I; and
my wife only leaned a little nearer, so that I knew she
had affirmed my words.

"Your what?" he cried. "You lie!"

"Northmour," I said, "we all know you have a bad
temper, and I am the last man to be irritated by words.
For all that, I propose that you speak lower, for I am
convinced that we are not alone."

He looked round him, and it was plain my remark had in
some degree sobered his passion. "What do you mean?" he

I only said one word: "Italians."

He swore a round oath, and looked at us, from one to
the other.

"Mr. Cassilis knows all that I know," said my wife.

"What I want to know," he broke out, "is where the
devil Mr. Cassilis comes from, and what the devil Mr.
Cassilis is doing here. You say you are married; that I
do not believe. If you were, Graden Floe would soon
divorce you; four minutes and a half, Cassilis. I keep
my private cemetery for my friends."

"It took somewhat longer," said I, "for that Italian."

He looked at me for a moment half-daunted, and then,
almost civilly, asked me to tell my story. "You have
too much the advantage of me, Cassilis," he added. I
complied, of course; and he listened, with several
ejaculations, while I told him how I had come to
Graden: that it was I whom he had tried to murder on
the night of landing; and what I had subsequently seen
and heard of the Italians.

"Well," said he, when I had done, "it is here at last;
there is no mistake about that. And what, may I ask, do
you propose to do?"

"I propose to stay with you and lend a hand," said I.

"You are a brave man," he returned, with a peculiar

"I am not afraid," said I.

"And so," he continued, "I am to understand that you
two are married? And you stand up to it before my face,
Miss Huddlestone?"

"We are not yet married," said Clara; "but we shall be
as soon as we can."

"Bravo!" cried Northmour. "And the bargain? D--n it,
you're not a fool, young woman; I may call a spade a
spade with you. How about the bargain? You know as well
as I do what your father's life depends upon. I have
only to put my hands under my coat-tails and walk away,
and his throat would be cut before the evening."

"Yes, Mr. Northmour," returned Clara, with great
spirit; "but that is what you will never do. You made a
bargain that was unworthy of a gentleman; but you are
gentleman for all that, and you will never desert a man
whom you have begun to help."

"Aha!" said he. "You think I will give my yacht for
nothing? You think I will risk my life and liberty for
love of the old gentleman; and then, I suppose, be
best-man at the wedding, to wind up? Well," he added,
with an odd smile, "perhaps you are not altogether
wrong. But ask Cassilis here. _He_ knows me. Am I a man
to trust? Am I safe and scrupulous? Am I kind?"

"I know you talk a great deal, and sometimes, I think,
very foolishly," replied Clara, "but I know you are a
gentleman, and I am not the least afraid."

He looked at her with a peculiar approval and
admiration; then, turning to me, "Do you think I would
give her up without a struggle, Frank?" said he.
"I tell you plainly, you look out. The next time we
come to blows----"

"Will make the third," I interrupted, smiling.

"Ay, true; so it will," he said. "I had forgotten.
Well, the third time's lucky."

"The third time, you mean, you will have the crew of
the _Red Earl_ to help," I said.

"Do you hear him?" he asked, turning to my wife.

"I hear two men speaking like cowards," said she.
"I should despise myself either to think or speak like
that. And neither of you believe one word that you are
saying, which makes it the more wicked and silly."

"She's a trump!" cried Northmour. "But she's not yet
Mrs. Cassilis. I say no more. The present is not for

Then my wife surprised me.

"I leave you here," she said suddenly. "My father has
been too long alone. But remember this: you are to be
friends, for you are both good friends to me."

She has since told me her reason for this step. As long
as she remained, she declares that we two would have
continued to quarrel; and I suppose that she was right,
for when she was gone we fell at once into a sort of

Northmour stared after her as she went away over the

"She is the only woman in the world!" he exclaimed,
with an oath. "Look at her action."

I, for my part, leaped at this opportunity for a little
further light.

"See here, Northmour," said I; "we are all in a tight
place, are we not?"

"I believe you, my boy," he answered, looking me in the
eyes, and with great emphasis. "We have all hell upon
us, that's the truth. You may believe me or not, but
I'm afraid of my life."

"Tell me one thing," said I. "What are they after,
these Italians? What do they want with Mr.

"Don't you know?" he cried. "The black old scamp had
_carbonaro_ funds on a deposit--two hundred and eighty
thousand; and of course he gambled it away on stocks.
There was to have been a revolution in the Tridentino,
or Parma; but the revolution is off, and the whole
wasps' nest is after Huddlestone. We shall all be lucky
if we can save our skins."

"The _carbonari!_" I exclaimed; "God help him indeed!"

"Amen!" said Northmour. "And now, look here: I have
said that we are in a fix; and, frankly, I shall be
glad of your help. If I can't save Huddlestone, I want
at least to save the girl. Come and stay in the
pavilion; and there's my hand on it, I shall act as
your friend until the old man is either clear or dead.
But," he added, "once that is settled, you become my
rival once again, and I warn you--mind yourself."

"Done!" said I; and we shook hands.

"And now let us go directly to the fort," said
Northmour; and he began to lead the way through the






WE were admitted to the pavilion by Clara, and I was
surprised by the completeness and security of the
defences. A barricade of great strength, and yet easy
to displace, supported the door against any violence
from without; and the shutters of the dining-room, into
which I was led directly, and which was feebly
illuminated by a lamp, were even more elaborately
fortified. The panels were strengthened by bars and
cross-bars; and these, in their turn, were kept in
position by a system of braces and struts, some
abutting on the floor, some on the roof, and others, in
fine, against the opposite wall of the apartment.
It was at once a solid and well-designed piece of
carpentry; and I did not seek to conceal my admiration.

"I am the engineer," said Northmour. "You remember the
planks in the garden? Behold them!"

"I did not know you had so many talents," said I.

"Are you armed?" he continued, pointing to an array of
guns and pistols, all in admirable order, which stood
in line against the wall or were displayed upon the

"Thank you," I returned; "I have gone armed since our
last encounter. But, to tell you the truth, I have had
nothing to eat since early yesterday evening."

Northmour produced some cold meat, to which I eagerly
set myself, and a bottle of good Burgundy, by which,
wet as I was, I did not scruple to profit. I have
always been an extreme temperance man on principle; but
it is useless to push principle to excess, and on this
occasion I believe that I finished three-quarters of
the bottle. As I ate, I still continued to admire the
preparations for defence.

"We could stand a siege," I said at length.

"Ye--es," drawled Northmour; "a very little one, per--
haps. It is not so much the strength of the pavilion I
misdoubt; it is the double danger that kills me. If we
get to shooting, wild as the country is, some one is
sure to hear it, and then--why, then it's the same
thing, only different, as they say: caged by law, or
killed by _carbonari._ There's the choice. It is a
devilish bad thing to have the law against you in this
world, and so I tell the old gentleman upstairs. He is
quite of my way of thinking."

"Speaking of that," said I, "what kind of person is he?"

"Oh, he!" cried the other; "he's a rancid fellow, as
far as he goes. I should like to have his neck wrung
to-morrow by all the devils in Italy. I am not in this
affair for him. You take me? I made a bargain for
Missy's hand, and I mean to have it too."

"That by the way," said I. "I understand. But how will
Mr. Huddlestone take my intrusion?"

"Leave that to Clara," returned Northmour.

I could have struck him in the face for this coarse
familiarity; but I respected the truce, as, I am bound
to say, did Northmour, and so long as the danger
continued not a cloud arose in our relation. I bear him
this testimony with the most unfeigned satisfaction;
nor am I without pride when I look back upon my own
behaviour. For surely no two men were ever left in a
position so invidious and irritating.

As soon as I had done eating, we proceeded to inspect
the lower floor. Window by window we tried the
different supports, now and then making an
inconsiderable change; and the strokes of the hammer
sounded with startling loudness through the house.
I proposed, I remember, to make loopholes; but he told me
they were already made in the windows of the upper
story. It was an anxious business, this inspection, and
left me down-hearted. There were two doors and five
windows to protect, and, counting Clara, only four of
us to defend them against an unknown number of foes.
I communicated my doubts to Northmour, who assured me,
with unmoved composure, that he entirely shared them.

"Before morning," said he, "we shall all be butchered
and buried in Graden Floe. For me, that is written."

I could not help shuddering at the mention of the
quicksand, but reminded Northmour that our enemies had
spared me in the wood.

"Do not flatter yourself," said he. "Then you were not
in the same boat with the old gentleman; now you are.
It's the Floe for all of us, mark my words."

I trembled for Clara; and just then her dear voice was
heard calling us to come upstairs. Northmour showed me
the way, and, when he had reached the landing, knocked
at the door of what used to be called _My Uncle's
Bedroom,_ as the founder of the pavilion had designed
it especially for himself.

"Come in, Northmour; come in, dear Mr. Cassilis," said
a voice from within.

Pushing open the door, Northmour admitted me before him
into the apartment. As I came in I could see the
daughter slipping out by the side-door into the study,
which had been prepared as her bedroom. In the bed,
which was drawn back against the wall, instead of
standing, as I had last seen it, boldly across the
window, sat Bernard Huddlestone, the defaulting banker.
Little as I had seen of him by the shifting light of
the lantern on the links, I had no difficulty in
recognising him for the same. He had a long and sallow
countenance, surrounded by a long red beard and side-
whiskers. His broken nose and high cheek-bones gave him
somewhat the air of a Kalmuck, and his light eyes shone
with the excitement of a high fever. He wore a skull-
cap of black silk; a huge Bible lay open before him on
the bed, with a pair of gold spectacles in the place,
and a pile of other books lay on the stand by his side.
The green curtains lent a cadaverous shade to his
cheek; and, as he sat propped on pillows, his great
stature was painfully hunched, and his head protruded
till it overhung his knees. I believe if he had not
died otherwise, he must have fallen a victim to
consumption in the course of but a very few weeks.

He held out to me a hand, long, thin, and disagreeably

"Come in, come in, Mr. Cassilis," said he. "Another
protector--ahem!--another protector. Always welcome as
a friend of my daughter's, Mr. Cassilis. How they have
rallied about me, my daughter's friends! May God in
heaven bless and reward them for it!"

I gave him my hand, of course, because I could not help
it; but the sympathy I had been prepared to feel for
Clara's father was immediately soured by his
appearance, and the wheedling, unreal tones in which he

"Cassilis is a good man," said Northmour; "worth ten."

"So I hear," cried Mr. Huddlestone eagerly; "so my girl
tells me. Ah, Mr. Cassilis, my sin has found me out,
you see! I am very low, very low; but I hope equally
penitent. We must all come to the throne of grace at
last, Mr. Cassilis. For my part, I come late indeed;
but with unfeigned humility, I trust."

"Fiddle-de-dee!" said Northmour roughly.

"No, no, dear Northmour!" cried the banker. "You must
not say that; you must not try to shake me. You forget,
my dear, good boy, you forget I may be called this very
night before my Maker."

His excitement was pitiful to behold; and I felt myself
grow indignant with Northmour, whose infidel opinions I
well knew, and heartily derided, as he continued to
taunt the poor sinner out of his humour of repentance.

"Pooh, my dear Huddlestone!" said he. "You do yourself
injustice. You are a man of the world, inside and out,
and were up to all kinds of mischief before I was born.
Your conscience is tanned like South American leather--
only you forgot to tan your liver, and that, if you
will believe me, is the seat of the annoyance."

"Rogue, rogue! bad boy!" said Mr. Huddlestone, shaking
his finger. "I am no precisian, if you come to that; I
always hated a precisian; but I never lost hold of
something better through it all. I have been a bad boy,
Mr. Cassilis; I do not seek to deny that; but it was
after my wife's death, and you know, with a widower,
it's a different thing: sinful--I won't say no; but
there is a gradation, we shall hope. And talking of
that---- Hark!" he broke out suddenly, his hand raised,
his fingers spread, his face racked with interest and
terror. "Only the rain, bless God!" he added, after a
pause, and with indescribable relief.

For some seconds he lay back among the pillows like a
man near to fainting; then he gathered himself
together, and, in somewhat tremulous tones, began once
more to thank me for the share I was prepared to take
in his defence.

"One question, sir," said I, when he had paused. "Is it
true that you have money with you?"

He seemed annoyed by the question, but admitted with
reluctance that he had a little.

"Well," I continued, "it is their money they are after,
is it not? Why not give it up to them?"

"Ah!" replied he, shaking his head, "I have tried that
already, Mr. Cassilis; and alas that it should be so!
but it is blood they want."

"Huddlestone, that's a little less than fair," said
Northmour. "You should mention that what you offered
them was upwards of two hundred thousand short. The
deficit is worth a reference; it is for what they call
a cool sum, Frank. Then, you see, the fellows reason in
their clear Italian way; and it seems to them, as
indeed it seems to me, that they may just as well have
both while they're about it--money and blood together,
by George, and no more trouble for the extra pleasure."

"Is it in the pavilion?" I asked.

"It is; and I wish it were in the bottom of the sea
instead," said Northmour: and then suddenly--"What are
you making faces at me for?" he cried to Mr.
Huddlestone, on whom I had unconsciously turned my
back. "Do you think Cassilis would sell you?"

Mr. Huddlestone protested that nothing had been further
from his mind.

"It is a good thing," retorted Northmour in his ugliest
manner. "You might end by wearying us.--What were you
going to say?" he added, turning to me.

"I was going to propose an occupation for the
afternoon," said I. "Let us carry that money out, piece
by piece, and lay it down before the pavilion door. If
the _carbonari_ come, why, it's theirs at any rate."

"No, no," cried Mr. Huddlestone; "it does not, it
cannot belong to them! It should be distributed _pro
rata_ among all my creditors."

"Come now, Huddlestone," said Northmour, "none of

"Well, but my daughter," moaned the wretched man.

"Your daughter will do well enough. Here are two
suitors, Cassilis and I, neither of us beggars, between
whom she has to choose. And as for yourself, to make an
end of arguments, you have no right to a farthing, and,
unless I'm much mistaken, you are going to die."

It was certainly very cruelly said; but Mr. Huddlestone
was a man who attracted little sympathy; and, although
I saw him wince and shudder, I mentally indorsed the
rebuke; nay, I added a contribution of my own.

"Northmour and I," I said, "are willing enough to help
you to save your life, but not to escape with stolen

He struggled for a while with himself, as though he
were on the point of giving way to anger, but prudence
had the best of the controversy.

"My dear boys," he said, "do with me or my money what
you will. I leave all in your hands. Let me compose

And so we left him, gladly enough I am sure. The last
that I saw, he had once more taken up his great Bible,
and with tremulous hands was adjusting his spectacles
to read.






THE recollection of that afternoon will always be
graven on my mind. Northmour and I were persuaded that
an attack was imminent; and if it had been in our power
to alter in any way the order of events, that power
would have been used to precipitate rather than delay
the critical moment. The worst was to be anticipated;
yet we could conceive no extremity so miserable as the
suspense we were now suffering. I have never been an
eager, though always a great, reader; but I never knew
books so insipid as those which I took up and cast
aside that afternoon in the pavilion. Even talk became
impossible as the hours went on. One or other was
always listening for some sound, or peering from an
upstairs window over the links. And yet not a sign
indicated the presence of our foes.

We debated over and over again my proposal with regard
to the money; and had we been in complete possession of
our faculties, I am sure we should have condemned it as
unwise; but we were flustered with alarm, grasped at a
straw, and determined, although it was as much as
advertising Mr. Huddlestone's presence in the pavilion,
to carry my proposal into effect.

The sum was part in specie, part in bank-paper, and
part in circular notes payable to the name of James
Gregory. We took it out, counted it, enclosed it once
more in a despatch-box belonging to Northmour, and
prepared a letter in Italian which he tied to the
handle. lt was signed by both of us under oath, and
declared that this was all the money which had escaped
the failure of the house of Huddlestone. This was,
perhaps, the maddest action ever perpetrated by two
persons professing to be sane. Had the despatch-box
fallen into other hands than those for which it was
intended, we stood criminally convicted on our own
written testimony; but, as I have said, we were neither
of us in a condition to judge soberly, and had a thirst
for action that drove us to do something, right or
wrong, rather than endure the agony of waiting.
Moreover, as we were both convinced that the hollows of
the links were alive with hidden spies upon our
movements, we hoped that our appearance with the box
might lead to a parley, and perhaps a compromise.

It was nearly three when we issued from the pavilion.
The rain had taken off, the sun shone quite cheerfully.
I have never seen the gulls fly so close about the
house or approach so fearlessly to human beings. On the
very doorstep one flapped heavily past our heads, and
uttered its wild cry in my very ear.

"There is an omen for you," said Northmour, who, like
all freethinkers, was much under the influence of
superstition. "They think we are already dead."

I made some light rejoinder, but it was with half my
heart; for the circumstance had impressed me.

A yard or two before the gate, on a patch of smooth
turf, we set down the despatch-box; and Northmour waved
a white handkerchief over his head. Nothing replied.
We raised our voices, and cried aloud in Italian that we
were there as ambassadors to arrange the quarrel; but
the stillness remained unbroken save by the sea-gulls
and the surf. I had a weight at my heart when we
desisted; and I saw that even Northmour was unusually
pale. He looked over his shoulder nervously, as though
he feared that some one had crept between him and the
pavilion door.

"By God," he said in a whisper, "this is too much for

I replied in the same key: " Suppose there should be
none, after all!"

"Look there," he returned, nodding with his head, as
though he had been afraid to point.

I glanced in the direction indicated; and there, from
the northern quarter of the Sea-Wood, beheld a thin
column of smoke rising steadily against the now
cloudless sky.

"Northmour," I said (we still continued to talk in
whispers), "it is not possible to endure this suspense.
I prefer death fifty times over. Stay you here to watch
the pavilion; I will go forward and make sure, if I
have to walk right into their camp."

He looked once again all round him with puckered eyes,
and then nodded assentingly to my proposal.

My heart beat like a sledge-hammer as I set out walking
rapidly in the direction of the smoke; and, though up
to that moment I had felt chill and shivering, I was
suddenly conscious of a glow of heat over all my body.
The ground in this direction was very uneven; a hundred
men might have lain hidden in as many square yards
about my path. But I had not practised the business in
vain, chose such routes as cut at the very root of
concealment, and, by keeping along the most convenient
ridges, commanded several hollows at a time. It was not
long before I was rewarded for my caution. Coming
suddenly on to a mound somewhat more elevated than the
surrounding hummocks, I saw, not thirty yards away, a
man bent almost double, and running as fast as his
attitude permitted along the bottom of a gully. I had
dislodged one of the spies from his ambush. As soon as
I sighted him, I called loudly both in English and
Italian; and he, seeing concealment was no longer
possible, straightened himself out, leaped from the
gully, and made off as straight as an arrow for the
borders of the wood.

It was none of my business to pursue; I had learned
what I wanted--that we were beleaguered and watched in
the pavilion; and I returned at once, and walking as
nearly as possible in my old footsteps, to where
Northmour awaited me beside the despatch-box. He was
even paler than when I had left him, and his voice
shook a little.

"Could you see what he was like?" he asked.

"He kept his back turned," I replied.

"Let us get into the house, Frank. I don't think I'm a
coward, but I can stand no more of this," he whispered.

All was still and sunshiny about the pavilion as we
turned to reenter it; even the gulls had flown in a
wider circuit, and were seen flickering along the beach
and sand-hills; and this loneliness terrified me more
than a regiment under arms. It was not until the door
was barricaded that I could draw a full inspiration and
relieve the weight that lay upon my bosom. Northmour
and I exchanged a steady glance; and I suppose each
made his own reflections on the white and startled
aspect of the other.

"You were right," I said. "All is over. Shake hands,
old man, for the last time."

"Yes," replied he, "I will shake hands; for, as sure as
I am here, I bear no malice. But remember, if, by some
impossible accident, we should give the slip to these
blackguards, I'll take the upper hand of you by fair or

"Oh," said I, "you weary me!"

He seemed hurt, and walked away in silence to the foot
of the stairs, where he paused.

"You do not understand," said he. "I am not a swindler,
and I guard myself; that is all. It may weary you or
not, Mr. Cassilis, I do not care a rush; I speak for my
own satisfaction, and not for your amusement. You had
better go upstairs and court the girl; for my part, I
stay here."

"And I stay with you," I returned. "Do you think I
would steal a march, even with your permission?"

"Frank," he said, smiling, "it's a pity you are an ass,
for you have the makings of a man. I think I must be
_fey_ to-day; you cannot irritate me even when you try.
Do you know," he continued softly, "I think we are the
two most miserable men in England, you and I? we have
got on to thirty without wife or child, or so much as a
shop to look after--poor, pitiful, lost devils, both!
And now we clash about a girl! as if there were not
several millions in the United Kingdom! Ah, Frank,
Frank, the one who loses this throw, be it you or me,
he has my pity! It were better for him--how does the
Bible say?--that a millstone were hanged about his neck
and he were cast into the depth of the sea. Let us take
a drink," he concluded suddenly, but without any levity
of tone.

I was touched by his words, and consented. He sat down
on the table in the dining-room, and held up the glass
of sherry to his eye.

"If you beat me, Frank," he said, "I shall take to
drink. What will you do if it goes the other way?"

"God knows," I returned.

"Well," said he, "here is a toast in the meantime:
_'Italia irredenta!'_"

The remainder of the day was passed in the same
dreadful tedium and suspense. I laid the table for
dinner, while Northmour and Clara prepared the meal
together in the kitchen. I could hear their talk as I
went to and fro, and was surprised to find it ran all
the time upon myself. Northmour again bracketed us
together, and rallied Clara on a choice of husbands;
but he continued to speak of me with some feeling, and
uttered nothing to my prejudice unless he included
himself in the condemnation. This awakened a sense of
gratitude in my heart, which combined with the
immediateness of our peril to fill my eyes with tears.
After all, I thought--and perhaps the thought was
laughably vain--we were here three very noble human
beings to perish in defence of a thieving banker.

Before we sat down to table I looked forth from an
upstairs window. The day was beginning to decline; the
links were utterly deserted; the despatch-box still lay
untouched where we had left it hours before.

Mr. Huddlestone, in a long yellow dressing-gown, took
one end of the table, Clara the other; while Northmour
and I faced each other from the sides. The lamp was
brightly trimmed; the wine was good; the viands,
although mostly cold, excellent of their sort. We
seemed to have agreed tacitly; all reference to the
impending catastrophe was carefully avoided; and,
considering our tragic circumstances, we made a merrier
party than could have been expected. From time to time,
it is true, Northmour or I would rise from table and
make a round of the defences; and, on each of these
occasions, Mr. Huddlestone was recalled to a sense of
his tragic predicament, glanced up with ghastly eyes,
and bore for an instant on his countenance the stamp of
terror. But he hastened to empty his glass, wiped his
forehead with his handkerchief, and joined again in the

I was astonished at the wit and information he
displayed. Mr. Huddlestone's was certainly no ordinary
character; he had read and observed for himself; his
gifts were sound; and, though I could never have
learned to love the man, I began to understand his
success in business, and the great respect in which he
had been held before his failure. He had, above all,
the talent of society; and though I never heard him
speak but on this one and most unfavourable occasion,
I set him down among the most brilliant
conversationalists I ever met.

He was relating with great gusto, and seemingly no
feeling of shame, the manoeuvres of a scoundrelly
commission merchant whom he had known and studied in
his youth, and we were all listening with an odd
mixture of mirth and embarrassment, when our little
party was brought abruptly to an end in the most
startling manner.

A noise like that of a wet finger on the window-pane
interrupted Mr. Huddlestone's tale; and in an instant
we were all four as white as paper, and sat tongue-tied
and motionless round the table.

"A snail," I said at last; for I had heard that these
animals make a noise somewhat similar in character.

"Snail be d--d!" said Northmour. "Hush!"

The same sound was repeated twice at regular intervals;
and then a formidable voice shouted through the
shutters the Italian word _"Traditore!"_

Mr. Huddlestone threw his head in the air; his eyelids
quivered; next moment he fell insensible below the
table. Northmour and I had each run to the armoury and
seized a gun. Clara was on her feet with her hand at
her throat.

So we stood waiting, for we thought the hour of attack
was certainly come; but second passed after second, and
all but the surf remained silent in the neighbourhood
of the pavilion.

"Quick," said Northmour; "upstairs with him before they






SOMEHOW or other, by hook and crook, and between the
three of us, we got Bernard Huddlestone bundled
upstairs and laid upon the bed in _My Uncle's Room._
During the whole process, which was rough enough, he
gave no sign of consciousness, and he remained, as we
had thrown him, without changing the position of a
finger. His daughter opened his shirt and began to wet
his head and bosom; while Northmour and I ran to the
window. The weather continued clear; the moon, which
was now about full, had risen and shed a very clear
light upon the links; yet, strain our eyes as we might,
we could distinguish nothing moving. A few dark spots,
more or less, on the uneven expanse, were not to be
identified; they might be crouching men, they might be
shadows; it was impossible to be sure.

"Thank God," said Northmour, "Aggie is not coming to-

Aggie was the name of the old nurse; he had not thought
of her till now; but that he should think of her at all
was a trait that surprised me in the man.

We were again reduced to waiting. Northmour went to the
fireplace and spread his hands before the red embers,
as if he were cold. I followed him mechanically with my
eyes, and in so doing turned my back upon the window.
At that moment a very faint report was audible from
without, and a ball shivered a pane of glass, and
buried itself in the shutter two inches from my head.
I heard Clara scream; and though I whipped instantly out
of range and into a corner, she was there, so to speak,
before me, beseeching to know if I were hurt. I felt
that I could stand to be shot at every day and all day
long, with such marks of solicitude for a reward; and I
continued to reassure her, with the tenderest caresses
and in complete forgetfulness of our situation, till
the voice of Northmour recalled me to myself.

"An air-gun," he said. "They wish to make no noise."

I put Clara aside, and looked at him. He was standing
with his back to the fire and his hands clasped behind
him; and I knew by the black look on his face that
passion was boiling within. I had seen just such a look
before he attacked me, that March night, in the
adjoining chamber; and, though I could make every
allowance for his anger, I confess I trembled for the
consequences. He gazed straight before him; but he
could see us with the tail of his eye, and his temper
kept rising like a gale of wind. With regular battle
awaiting us outside, this prospect of an internecine
strife within the walls began to daunt me.

Suddenly, as I was thus closely watching his expression
and prepared against the worst, I saw a change, a
flash, a look of relief, upon his face. He took up the
lamp which stood beside him on the table, and turned to
us with an air of some excitement.

"There is one point that we must know," said he. "Are
they going to butcher the lot of us, or only
Huddlestone? Did they take you for him, or fire at you
for your own _beaux yeux?_"

"They took me for him, for certain," I replied. "I am
near as tall, and my head is fair."

"I am going to make sure," returned Northmour; and he
stepped up to the window, holding the lamp above his
head, and stood there, quietly affronting death, for
half a minute.

Clara sought to rush forward and pull him from the
place of danger; but I had the pardonable selfishness
to hold her back by force.

"Yes," said Northmour, turning coolly from the window;
"it's only Huddlestone they want."

"Oh, Mr. Northmour!" cried Clara; but found no more to
add; the temerity she had just witnessed seeming beyond
the reach of words.

He, on his part, looked at me, cocking his head, with a
fire of triumph in his eyes; and I understood at once
that he had thus hazarded his life, merely to attract
Clara's notice, and depose me from my position as the
hero of the hour. He snapped his fingers.

"The fire is only beginning," said he. "When they warm
up to their work they won't be so particular."

A voice was now heard hailing us from the entrance.
From the window we could see the figure of a man in the
moonlight; he stood motionless, his face uplifted to
ours, and a rag of something white on his extended arm;
and as we looked right down upon him, though he was a
good many yards distant on the links, we could see the
moonlight glitter on his eyes.

He opened his lips again, and spoke for some minutes on
end, in a key so loud that he might have been heard in
every corner of the pavilion, and as far away as the
borders of the wood. It was the same voice that had
already shouted "_Traditore!_" through the shutters of
the dining-room; this time it made a complete and clear
statement. If the traitor "Oddlestone" were given up,
all others should be spared; if not, no one should
escape to tell the tale.

"Well, Huddlestone, what do you say to that?" asked
Northmour, turning to the bed.

Up to that moment the banker had given no sign of life,
and I, at least, had supposed him to be still lying in
a faint; but he replied at once, and in such tones as I
have never heard elsewhere, save from a delirious
patient, adjured and besought us not to desert him.
It was the most hideous and abject performance that my
imagination can conceive.

"Enough," cried Northmour; and then he threw open the
window, leaned out into the night, and in a tone of
exultation, and with a total forgetfulness of what was
due to the presence of a lady, poured out upon the
ambassador a string of the most abominable raillery
both in English and Italian, and bade him be gone where
he had come from. I believe that nothing so delighted
Northmour at that moment as the thought that we must
all infallibly perish before the night was out.

Meantime the Italian put his flag of truce into his
pocket, and disappeared, at a leisurely pace, among the

"They make honourable war," said Northmour. "They are
all gentlemen and soldiers. For the credit of the
thing, I wish we could change sides--you and I, Frank,
and you too, Missy my darling--and leave that being on
the bed to some one else. Tut! don't look shocked! We
are all going post to what they call eternity, and may
as well be above-board while there's time. As far as
I'm concerned, if I could first strangle Huddlestone
and then get Clara in my arms, I could die with some
pride and satisfaction. And as it is, by God, I'll have
a kiss!"

Before I could do anything to interfere, he had rudely
embraced and repeatedly kissed the resisting girl. Next
moment I had pulled him away with fury, and flung him
heavily against the wall. He laughed loud and long, and
I feared his wits had given way under the strain; for
even in the best of days he had been a sparing and a
quiet laugher.

"Now, Frank," said he, when his mirth was some-what
appeased, "it's your turn. Here's my hand. Good bye;
farewell!" Then, seeing me stand rigid and indignant,
and holding Clara to my side--"Man!" he broke out, "are
you angry? Did you think we were going to die with all
the airs and graces of society? I took a kiss; I'm glad
I had it; and now you can take another if you like, and
square accounts."

I turned from him with a feeling of contempt which I
did not seek to dissemble.

"As you please," said he. "You've been a prig in life;
a prig you'll die."

And with that he sat down in a chair, a rifle over his
knee, and amused himself with snapping the lock; but I
could see that his ebullition of light spirits (the
only one I ever knew him to display) had already come
to an end, and was succeeded by a sullen, scowling

All this time our assailants might have been entering
the house, and we been none the wiser; we had in truth
almost forgotten the danger that so imminently overhung
our days. But just then Mr. Huddlestone uttered a cry,
and leaped from the bed.

I asked him what was wrong.

"Fire!" he cried. "They have set the house on fire!"

Northmour was on his feet in an instant, and he and I
ran through the door of communication with the study.
The room was illuminated by a red and angry light.
Almost at the moment of our entrance a tower of flame
arose in front of the window, and, with a tingling
report, a pane fell inwards on the carpet. They had set
fire to the lean-to outhouse, where Northmour used to
nurse his negatives.

"Hot work," said Northmour. "Let us try in your old

We ran thither in a breath, threw up the casement, and
looked forth. Along the whole back wall of the pavilion
piles of fuel had been arranged and kindled; and it is
probable they had been drenched with mineral oil, for,
in spite of the morning's rain, they all burned
bravely. The fire had taken a firm hold already on the
outhouse, which blazed higher and higher every moment;
the back-door was in the centre of a red-hot bonfire;
the eaves, we could see, as we looked upward, were
already smouldering, for the roof overhung, and was
supported by considerable beams of wood. At the same
time, hot, pungent, and choking volumes of smoke began
to fill the house. There was not a human being to be
seen to right or left.

"Ah, well!" said Northmour, "here's the end, thank

And we returned to _My Uncle's Room._ Mr. Huddlestone
was putting on his boots, still violently trembling,
but with an air of determination such as I had not
hitherto observed. Clara stood close by him, with her
cloak in both hands ready to throw about her shoulders,
and a strange look in her eyes, as if she were half-
hopeful, half-doubtful of her father.

"Well, boys and girls," said Northmour, "how about a
sally? The oven is heating; it is not good to stay here
and be baked; and, for my part, I want to come to my
hands with them, and be done."

"There is nothing else left," I replied.

And both Clara and Mr. Huddlestone, though with a very
different intonation, added, "Nothing."

As we went downstairs the heat was excessive, and the
roaring of the fire filled our ears; and we had scarce
reached the passage before the stairs window fell in, a
branch of flame shot brandishing through the aperture,
and the interior of the pavilion became lit up with
that dreadful and fluctuating glare. At the same moment
we heard the fall of something heavy and inelastic in
the upper story. The whole pavilion, it was plain, had
gone alight like a box of matches, and now not only
flamed sky-high to land and sea, but threatened with
every moment to crumble and fall in about our ears.

Northmour and I cocked our revolvers. Mr. Huddlestone,
who had already refused a fire-arm, put us behind him
with a manner of command.

"Let Clara open the door," said he. "So, if they fire a
volley, she will be protected. And in the meantime
stand behind me. I am the scapegoat; my sins have found
me out."

I heard him, as I stood breathless by his shoulder,
with my pistol ready, pattering off prayers in a
tremulous, rapid whisper; and I confess, horrid as the
thought may seem, I despised him for thinking of
supplications in a moment so critical and thrilling. In
the meantime, Clara, who was dead white, but still
possessed her faculties, had displaced the barricade
from the front door. Another moment, and she had pulled
it open. Firelight and moonlight illuminated the links
with confused and changeful lustre, and far away
against the sky we could see a long trail of glowing

Mr. Huddlestone, filled for the moment with a strength
greater than his own, struck Northmour and myself a
back-hander in the chest; and while we were thus for
the moment incapacitated from action, lifting his arms
above his head like one about to dive, he ran straight
forward out of the pavilion.

"Here am I!" he cried--"Huddlestone! Kill me, and spare
the others!"

His sudden appearance daunted, I suppose, our hidden
enemies; for Northmour and I had time to recover, to
seize Clara between us, one by each arm, and to rush
forth to his assistance, ere anything further had taken
place. But scarce had we passed the threshold when
there came near a dozen reports and flashes from every
direction among the hollows of the links. Mr.
Huddlestone staggered, uttered a weird and freezing
cry, threw up his arms over his head, and fell backward
on the turf.

"_Traditore! Traditore!_" cried the invisible avengers.

And just then a part of the roof of the pavilion fell
in, so rapid was the progress of the fire. A loud,
vague, and horrible noise accompanied the collapse, and
a vast volume of flame went soaring up to heaven. It
must have been visible at that moment from twenty miles
out at sea, from the shore at Graden-Wester, and far
inland from the peak of Graystiel, the most eastern
summit of the Caulder Hills. Bernard Huddlestone,
although God knows what were his obsequies, had a fine
pyre at the moment of his death.






I SHOULD have the greatest difficulty to tell you what
followed next after this tragic circumstance. It is all
to me, as I look back upon it, mixed, strenuous, and
ineffectual, like the struggles of a sleeper in a
nightmare. Clara, I remember, uttered a broken sigh and
would have fallen forward to earth, had not Northmour
and I supported her insensible body. I do not think we
were attacked; I do not remember even to have seen an
assailant; and I believe we deserted Mr. Huddlestone
without a glance. I only remember running like a man in
a panic, now carrying Clara altogether in my own arms,
now sharing her weight with Northmour, now scuffling
confusedly for the possession of that dear burden. Why
we should have made for my camp in the Hemlock Den, or
how we reached it, are points lost for ever to my
recollection. The first moment at which I became
definitely sure, Clara had been suffered to fall
against the outside of my little tent, Northmour and I
were tumbling together on the ground, and he, with
contained ferocity, was striking for my head with the
butt of his revolver. He had already twice wounded me
on the scalp; and it is to the consequent loss of blood
that I am tempted to attribute the sudden clearness of
my mind.

I caught him by the wrist.

"Northmour," I remember saying, "you can kill me
afterwards. Let us first attend to Clara."

He was at that moment uppermost. Scarcely had the words
passed my lips, when he had leaped to his feet and ran
towards the tent; and the next moment he was straining
Clara to his heart and covering her unconscious hands
and face with his caresses.

"Shame!" I cried. "Shame to you, Northmour!"

And, giddy though I still was, I struck him repeatedly
upon the head and shoulders.

He relinquished his grasp, and faced me in the broken

"I had you under, and I let you go," said he; "and now
you strike me! Coward!"

"You are the coward," I retorted. "Did she wish your
kisses while she was still sensible of what she wanted?
Not she! And now she may be dying; and you waste this
precious time, and abuse her helplessness. Stand aside,
and let me help her."

He confronted me for a moment, white and menacing; then
suddenly he stepped aside.

"Help her then," said he.

I threw myself on my knees beside her, and loosened, as
well as I was able, her dress and corset; but while I
was thus engaged, a grasp descended on my shoulder.

"Keep your hands off her," said Northmour fiercely.
"Do you think I have no blood in my veins?"

"Northmour," I cried, "if you will neither help her
yourself, nor let me do so, do you know that I shall
have to kill you?"

"That is better!" he cried. "Let her die also--where's
the harm? Step aside from that girl, and stand up to

"You will observe," said I, half-rising, "that I have
not kissed her yet."

"I dare you to," he cried.

I do not know what possessed me; it was one of the
things I am most ashamed of in my life, though, as my
wife used to say, I knew that my kisses would be always
welcome were she dead or living; down I fell again upon
my knees, parted the hair from her forehead, and, with
the dearest respect, laid my lips for a moment on that
cold brow. It was such a caress as a father might have
given; it was such a one as was not unbecoming from a
man soon to die to a woman already dead.

"And now," said I, "I am at your service, Mr.

But I saw, to my surprise, that he had turned his back
upon me.

"Do you hear?" I asked.

"Yes," said he, "I do. If you wish to fight, I am
ready. If not, go on and save Clara. All is one to me."

I did not wait to be twice bidden; but, stooping again
over Clara, continued my efforts to revive her. She
still lay white and lifeless; I began to fear that her
sweet spirit had indeed fled beyond recall, and horror
and a sense of utter desolation seized upon my heart.
I called her by name with the most endearing inflections;
I chafed and beat her hands; now I laid her head low,
now supported it against my knee; but all seemed to be
in vain, and the lids still lay heavy on her eyes.

"Northmour," I said, "there is my hat. For God's sake
bring some water from the spring."

Almost in a moment he was by my side with the water.

"I have brought it in my own," he said. "You do not
grudge me the privilege?"

"Northmour," I was beginning to say, as I laved her
head and breast; but he interrupted me savagely.

"Oh, you hush up!" he said. "The best thing you can do
is to say nothing."

I had certainly no desire to talk, my mind being
swallowed up in concern for my dear love and her
condition; so I continued in silence to do my best
towards her recovery, and, when the hat was empty,
returned it to him, with one word--"More." He had,
perhaps, gone several times upon this errand, when
Clara reopened her eyes.

"Now," said he, "since she is better, you can spare me,
can you not? I wish you a good night, Mr. Cassilis."

And with that he was gone among the thicket. I made a
fire, for I had now no fear of the Italians, who had
even spared all the little possessions left in my
encampment; and, broken as she was by the excitement
and the hideous catastrophe of the evening, I managed,
in one way or another--by persuasion, encouragement,
warmth, and such simple remedies as I could lay my hand
on--to bring her back to some composure of mind and
strength of body.

Day had already come, when a sharp "Hist!" sounded from
the thicket. I started from the ground; but the voice
of Northmour was heard adding, in the most tranquil
tones: "Come here, Cassilis, and alone; I want to show
you something."

I consulted Clara with my eyes, and, receiving her
tacit permission, left her alone, and clambered out of
the den. At some distance off I saw Northmour leaning
against an elder; and, as soon as he perceived me, he
began walking seaward. I had almost overtaken him as he
reached the outskirts of the wood.

"Look," said he, pausing.

A couple of steps more brought me out of the foliage.
The light of the morning lay cold and clear over that
well-known scene. The pavilion was but a blackened
wreck; the roof had fallen in, one of the gables had
fallen out; and, far and near, the face of the links
was cicatrised with little patches of burnt furze.
Thick smoke still went straight upwards in the windless
air of the morning, and a great pile of ardent cinders
filled the bare walls of the house, like coals in an
open grate. Close by the islet a schooner yacht lay-to,
and a well-manned boat was pulling vigorously for the

"The _Red Earl!_" I cried. "The _Red Earl_ twelve hours
too late!"

"Feel in your pocket, Frank. asked Northmour. Are you

I obeyed him, and I think I must have become deadly
pale. My revolver had been taken from me.

"You see I have you in my power," he continued.
"I disarmed you last night while you were nursing Clara;
but this morning--here--take your pistol. No thanks!"
he cried, holding up his hand. "I do not like them;
that is the only way you can annoy me now."

He began to walk forward across the links to meet the
boat, and I followed a step or two behind. In front of
the pavilion I paused to see where Mr. Huddlestone had
fallen; but there was no sign of him, nor so much as a
trace of blood.

"Graden Floe," said Northmour.

He continued to advance till we had come to the head of
the beach.

"No farther, please," said he. "Would you like to take
her to Graden House?"

"Thank you," replied I; "I shall try to get her to the
minister's at Graden-Wester."

The prow of the boat here grated on the beach, and a
sailor jumped ashore with a line in his hand.

"Wait a minute, lads!" cried Northmour; and then,
lower, and to my private ear: "You had better say
nothing of all this to her," he added.

"On the contrary!" I broke out, "she shall know
everything that I can tell."

"You do not understand," he returned, with an air of
great dignity. "It will be nothing to her; she expects
it of me. Good-bye!" he added, with a nod.

I offered him my hand.

"Excuse me," said he. "It's small, I know; but I can't
push things quite so far as that. I don't wish any
sentimental business, to sit by your hearth a white-
haired wanderer, and all that. Quite the contrary: I
hope to God I shall never again clap eyes on either one
of you."

"Well, God bless you, Northmour!" I said heartily.

"Oh yes," he returned.

He walked down the beach; and the man who was ashore
gave him an arm on board, and then shoved off and
leaped into the bows himself. Northmour took the
tiller; the boat rose to the waves, and the oars
between the thole-pins sounded crisp and measured in
the morning air.

They were not yet half-way to the _Red Earl,_ and I was
still watching their progress, when the sun rose out of
the sea.

One word more, and my story is done. Years after,
Northmour was killed fighting under the colours of
Garibaldi for the liberation of the Tyrol.







Originally published:
"Temple Bar," October, 1877.

Reprinted in "New Arabian Nights":
Chatto and Windus, London, 1882.



IT was late in November 1456. The snow fell over Paris
with rigorous, relentless persistence; sometimes the
wind made a sally and scattered it in flying vortices;
sometimes there was a lull, and flake after flake
descended out of the black night air, silent,
circuitous, interminable. To poor people, looking up
under moist eyebrows, it seemed a wonder where it all
came from. Master Francis Villon had propounded an
alternative that afternoon at a tavern window: was it
only Pagan Jupiter plucking geese upon Olympus? or were
the holy angels moulting? He was only a poor Master of
Arts, he went on; and as the question somewhat touched
upon divinity he durst not venture to conclude. A silly
old priest from Montargis, who was among the company,
treated the young rascal to a bottle of wine in honour
of the jest and the grimaces with which it was
accompanied, and swore on his own white beard that he
had been just such another irreverent dog when he was
Villon's age.

The air was raw and pointed, but not far below
freezing; and the flakes were large, damp, and
adhesive. The whole city was sheeted up. An army might
have marched from end to end and not a footfall given
the alarm. If there were any belated birds in heaven,
they saw the island like a large white patch, and the
bridges like slim white spars, on the black ground of
the river. High up overhead the snow settled among the
tracery of the cathedral towers. Many a niche was
drifted full; many a statue wore a long white bonnet on
its grotesque or sainted head. The gargoyles had been
transformed into great false noses, drooping towards
the point. The crockets were like upright pillows
swollen on one side. In the intervals of the wind there
was a dull sound of dripping about the precincts of the

The cemetery of St. John had taken its own share of the
snow. All the graves were decently covered; tall white
housetops stood around in grave array; worthy burghers
were long ago in bed, be-night-capped like their
domiciles; there was no light in all the neighbourhood
but a little peep from a lamp that hung swinging in the
church choir, and tossed the shadows to and fro in time
to its oscillations. The clock was hard on ten when the
patrol went by with halberds and a lantern, beating
their hands; and they saw nothing suspicious about the
cemetery of St. John.

Yet there was a small house, backed up against the
cemetery wall, which was still awake, and awake to evil
purpose, in that snoring district. There was not much
to betray it from without; only a stream of warm vapour
from the chimney-top, a patch where the snow melted on
the roof, and a few half-obliterated footprints at the
door. But within, behind the shuttered windows, Master
Francis Villon the poet, and some of the thievish crew
with whom he consorted, were keeping the night alive
and passing round the bottle.

A great pile of living embers diffused a strong and
ruddy glow from the arched chimney. Before this
straddled Dom Nicolas, the Picardy monk, with his
skirts picked up and his fat legs bared to the
comfortable warmth. His dilated shadow cut the room in
half; and the firelight only escaped on either side of
his broad person, and in a little pool between his
outspread feet. His face had the beery, bruised
appearance of the continual drinker's; it was covered
with a network of congested veins, purple in ordinary
circumstances, but now pale violet, for even with his
back to the fire the cold pinched him on the other
side. His cowl had half-fallen back, and made a strange
excrescence on either side of his bull-neck. So he
straddled, grumbling, and cut the room in half with the
shadow of his portly frame.

On the right, Villon and Guy Tabary were huddled
together over a scrap of parchment; Villon making a
ballade which he was to call the "Ballade of Roast
Fish," and Tabary spluttering admiration at his
shoulder. The poet was a rag of a man, dark, little,
and lean, with hollow cheeks and thin black locks. He
carried his four-and-twenty years with feverish
animation. Greed had made folds about his eyes, evil
smiles had puckered his mouth. The wolf and pig
struggled together in his face. It was an eloquent,
sharp, ugly, earthly countenance. His hands were small
and prehensile, with fingers knotted like a cord; and
they were continually flickering in front of him in
violent and expressive pantomime. As for Tabary, a
broad, complacent, admiring imbecility breathed from
his squash nose and slobbering lips: he had become a
thief, just as he might have become the most decent of
burgesses, by the imperious chance that rules the lives
of human geese and human donkeys.

At the monk's other hand, Montigny and Thevenin Pensete
played a game of chance. About the first there clung
some flavour of good birth and training, as about a
fallen angel; something long, lithe, and courtly in the
person; something aquiline and darkling in the face.
Thevenin, poor soul, was in great feather: he had done
a good stroke of knavery that afternoon in the Faubourg
St. Jacques, and all night he had been gaining from
Montigny. A flat smile illuminated his face; his bald
head shone rosily in a garland of red curls; his little
protuberant stomach shook with silent chucklings as he
swept in his gains.

"Doubles or quits?" said Thevenin.

Montigny nodded grimly.

"_Some may prefer to dine in state,_" wrote Villon,
"_On bread and cheese on silver plate._ Or--or--help me
out, Guido!"

Tabary giggled.

"_Or parsley on a golden dish,_" scribbled the poet.

The wind was freshening without; it drove the snow
before it, and sometimes raised its voice in a
victorious whoop, and made sepulchral grumblings in the
chimney. The cold was growing sharper as the night went
on. Villon, protruding his lips, imitated the gust with
something between a whistle and a groan. It was an
eerie, uncomfortable talent of the poet's, much
detested by the Picardy monk.

"Can't you hear it rattle in the gibbet?" said Villon.
"They are all dancing the devil's jig on nothing, up
there. You may dance, my gallants, you'll be none the
warmer! Whew! what a gust! Down went somebody just now!
A medlar the fewer on the three-legged medlar-tree!--I
say, Dom Nicolas, it'll be cold to-night on the St.
Denis Road?" he asked.

Dom Nicolas winked both his big eyes, and seemed to
choke upon his Adam's apple. Montfaucon, the great
grisly Paris gibbet, stood hard by the St. Denis Road,
and the pleasantry touched him on the raw. As for
Tabary, he laughed immoderately over the medlars; he
had never heard anything more light-hearted; and he
held his sides and crowed. Villon fetched him a fillip
on the nose, which turned his mirth into an attack of

"Oh, stop that row," said Villon, "and think of rhymes
to 'fish.'"

"Doubles or quits?" said Montigny doggedly.

"With all my heart," quoth Thevenin.

"Is there any more in that bottle?" asked the monk.

"Open another," said Villon. "How do you ever hope to
fill that big hogshead, your body, with little things
like bottles? And how do you expect to get to heaven?
How many angels, do you fancy, can be spared to carry
up a single monk from Picardy? Or do you think yourself
another Elias--and they'll send the coach for you?"

"_Hominibus impossibile,_" replied the monk, as he
filled his glass.

Tabary was in ecstasies.

Villon filliped his nose again.

"Laugh at my jokes, if you like," he said.

"It was very good," objected Tabary.

Villon made a face at him. "Think of rhymes to 'fish,'"
he said. "What have you to do with Latin? You'll wish
you knew none of it at the great assizes, when the
devil calls for Guido Tabary, clericus--the devil with
the hump-back and red-hot finger-nails. Talking of the
devil," he added in a whisper, "look at Montigny!"

All three peered covertly at the gamester. He did not
seem to be enjoying his luck. His mouth was a little to
a side; one nostril nearly shut, and the other much
inflated. The black dog was on his back, as people say,
in terrifying nursery metaphor; and he breathed hard
under the gruesome burden.

"He looks as if he could knife him," whispered Tabary,
with round eyes.

The monk shuddered, and turned his face and spread his
open hands to the red embers. It was the cold that thus
affected Dom Nicolas, and not any excess of moral

"Come now," said Villon--"about this ballade. How does
it run so far?" And beating time with his hand, he read
it aloud to Tabary.

They were interrupted at the fourth rhyme by a brief
and fatal movement among the gamesters. The round was
completed, and Thevenin was just opening his mouth to
claim another victory, when Montigny leaped up, swift
as an adder, and stabbed him to the heart. The blow
took effect before he had time to utter a cry, before
he had time to move. A tremor or two convulsed his
frame; his hands opened and shut, his heels rattled on
the floor; then his head rolled backward over one
shoulder with the eyes wide open; and Thevenin
Pensete's spirit had returned to Him who made it.

Every one sprang to his feet; but the business was over
in two twos. The four living fellows looked at each
other in rather a ghastly fashion; the dead man
contemplating a corner of the roof with a singular and
ugly leer.

"My God!" said Tabary; and he began to pray in Latin.

Villon broke out into hysterical laughter. He came a
step forward and ducked a ridiculous bow at Thevenin,
and laughed still louder. Then he sat down suddenly,
all of a heap, upon a stool, and continued laughing
bitterly as though he would shake himself to pieces.

Montigny recovered his composure first.

"Let's see what he has about him," he remarked; and he
picked the dead man's pockets with a practised hand,
and divided the money into four equal portions on the
table. "There's for you," he said.

The monk received his share with a deep sigh, and a
single stealthy glance at the dead Thevenin, who was
beginning to sink into himself and topple sideways off
the chair.

"We're all in for it," cried Villon, swallowing his
mirth. "It's a hanging job for every man jack of us
that's here--not to speak of those who aren't." He made
a shocking gesture in the air with his raised right
hand, and put out his tongue and threw his head on one
side, so as to counterfeit the appearance of one who
has been hanged. Then he pocketed his share of the
spoil, and executed a shuffle with his feet as if to
restore the circulation.

Tabary was the last to help himself; he made a dash at
the money, and retired to the other end of the

Montigny stuck Thevenin upright in the chair, and drew
out the dagger, which was followed by a jet of blood.

"You fellows had better be moving," he said, as he
wiped the blade on his victim's doublet.

"I think we had," returned Villon, with a gulp. "Damn
his fat head!" he broke out. "It sticks in my throat
like phlegm. What right has a man to have red hair when
he is dead?" And he fell all of a heap again upon the
stool, and fairly covered his face with his hands.

Montigny and Dom Nicolas laughed aloud, even Tabary
feebly chiming in.

"Cry baby," said the monk.

"I always said he was a woman," added Montigny with a
sneer. "Sit up, can't you?" he went on, giving another
shake to the murdered body. "Tread out that fire,

But Nick was better employed; he was quietly taking
Villon's purse, as the poet sat, limp and trembling, on
the stool where he had been making a ballade not three
minutes before. Montigny and Tabary dumbly demanded a
share of the booty, which the monk silently promised as
he passed the little bag into the bosom of his gown.
In many ways an artistic nature unfits a man for practical

No sooner had the theft been accomplished than Villon
shook himself, jumped to his feet, and began helping to
scatter and extinguish the embers. Meanwhile Montigny
opened the door and cautiously peered into the street.
The coast was clear; there was no meddlesome patrol in
sight. Still it was judged wiser to slip out severally,
and as Villon was himself in a hurry to escape from the
neighbourhood of the dead Thevenin, and the rest were
in a still greater hurry to get rid of him before he
should discover the loss of his money, he was the first
by general consent to issue forth into the street.

The wind had triumphed and swept all the clouds from
heaven. Only a few vapours, as thin as moonlight,
fleeted rapidly across the stars. It was bitter cold;
and by a common optical effect, things seemed almost
more definite than in the broadest daylight. The
sleeping city was absolutely still: a company of white
hoods, a field full of little Alps, below the twinkling
stars. Villon cursed his fortune. Would it were still
snowing! Now, wherever he went, he left an indelible
trail behind him on the glittering streets; wherever he
went he was still tethered to the house by the cemetery
of St. John; wherever he went he must weave, with his
own plodding feet, the rope that bound him to the crime
and would bind him to the gallows. The leer of the dead
man came back to him with a new significance. He
snapped his fingers as if to pluck up his own spirits,
and choosing a street at random, stepped boldly forward
in the snow.

Two things pre-occupied him as he went: the aspect of
the gallows at Montfaucon in this bright windy phase of
the night's existence, for one; and for another, the
look of the dead man with his bald head and garland of
red curls. Both struck cold upon his heart, and he kept
quickening his pace as if he could escape from
unpleasant thoughts by mere fleetness of foot.
Sometimes he looked back over his shoulder with a
sudden nervous jerk; but he was the only moving thing
in the white streets, except when the wind swooped
round a corner and threw up the snow, which was
beginning to freeze, in spouts of glittering dust.

Suddenly he saw, a long way before him, a black clump
and a couple of lanterns. The clump was in motion, and
the lanterns swung as though carried by men walking.
It was a patrol. And though it was merely crossing his
line of march, he judged it wiser to get out of eyeshot
as speedily as he could. He was not in the humour to be
challenged, and he was conscious of making a very
conspicuous mark upon the snow. Just on his left hand
there stood a great hotel, with some turrets and a
large porch before the door; it was half-ruinous, he
remembered, and had long stood empty; and so he made
three steps of it and jumped into the shelter of the
porch. It was pretty dark inside, after the glimmer of
the snowy streets, and he was groping forward with
outspread hands, when he stumbled over some substance
which offered an indescribable mixture of resistances,
hard and soft, firm and loose. His heart gave a leap,
and he sprang two steps back and stared dreadfully at
the obstacle. Then he gave a little laugh of relief.
It was only a woman, and she dead. He knelt beside her
to make sure upon this latter point. She was freezing
cold, and rigid like a stick. A little ragged finery
fluttered in the wind about her hair, and her cheeks
had been heavily rouged that same afternoon. Her
pockets were quite empty; but in her stocking,
underneath the garter, Villon found two of the small
coins that went by the name of whites. It was little
enough; but it was always something; and the poet was
moved with a deep sense of pathos that she should have
died before she had spent her money. That seemed to him
a dark and pitiable mystery; and he looked from the
coins in his hand to the dead woman, and back again to
the coins, shaking his head over the riddle of man's
life. Henry V. of England, dying at Vincennes just
after he had conquered France, and this poor jade cut
off by a cold draught in a great man's doorway, before
she had time to spend her couple of whites--it seemed a
cruel way to carry on the world. Two whites would have
taken such a little while to squander; and yet it would
have been one more good taste in the mouth, one more
smack of the lips, before the devil got the soul, and
the body was left to birds and vermin. He would like to
use all his tallow before the light was blown out and
the lantern broken.

While these thoughts were passing through his mind, he
was feeling, half mechanically, for his purse. Suddenly
his heart stopped beating; a feeling of cold scales
passed up the back of his legs, and a cold blow seemed
to fall upon his scalp. He stood petrified for a
moment; then he felt again with one feverish movement;
and then his loss burst upon him, and he was covered at
once with perspiration. To spendthrifts money is so
living and actual--it is such a thin veil between them
and their pleasures! There is only one limit to their
fortune--that of time; and a spendthrift with only a
few crowns is the Emperor of Rome until they are spent.
For such a person to lose his money is to suffer the
most shocking reverse, and fall from heaven to hell,
from all to nothing, in a breath. And all the more if
he has put his head in the halter for it; if he may be
hanged to-morrow for that same purse so dearly earned,
so foolishly departed! Villon stood and cursed; he
threw the two whites into the street; he shook his fist
at heaven; he stamped, and was not horrified to find
himself trampling the poor corpse. Then he began
rapidly to retrace his steps towards the house beside
the cemetery. He had forgotten all fear of the patrol,
which was long gone by at any rate, and had no idea but
that of his lost purse. It was in vain that he looked
right and left upon the snow: nothing was to be seen.
He had not dropped it in the streets. Had it fallen in
the house? He would have liked dearly to go in and see;
but the idea of the grisly occupant unmanned him. And
he saw besides, as he drew near, that their efforts to
put out the fire had been unsuccessful; on the
contrary, it had broken into a blaze, and a changeful
light played in the chinks of door and window, and
revived his terror for the authorities and Paris

He returned to the hotel with the porch, and groped
about upon the snow for the money he had thrown away in
his childish passion. But he could only find one white;
the other had probably struck sideways and sunk deeply
in. With a single white in his pocket, all his projects
for a rousing night in some wild tavern vanished
utterly away. And it was not only pleasure that fled
laughing from his grasp; positive discomfort, positive
pain, attacked him as he stood ruefully before the
porch. His perspiration had dried upon him; and though
the wind had now fallen, a binding frost was setting in
stronger with every hour, and he felt benumbed and sick
at heart. What was to be done? Late as was the hour,
improbable as was success, he would try the house of
his adopted father, the chaplain of St. Benoit.

He ran there all the way, and knocked timidly. There
was no answer. He knocked again and again, taking heart
with every stroke; and at last steps were heard
approaching from within. A barred wicket fell open in
the iron-studded door, and emitted a gush of yellow

"Hold up your face to the wicket," said the chaplain
from within.

"It's only me," whimpered Villon.

"Oh, it's only you, is it?" returned the chaplain; and
he cursed him with foul unpriestly oaths for disturbing
him at such an hour, and bade him be off to hell, where
he came from.

"My hands are blue to the wrist," pleaded Villon; "my
feet are dead and full of twinges: my nose aches with
the sharp air; the cold lies at my heart. I may be dead
before morning. Only this once, father, and before God
I will never ask again!"

"You should have come earlier," said the ecclesiastic
coolly. "Young men require a lesson now and then." He
shut the wicket and retired deliberately into the
interior of the house.

Villon was beside himself; he beat upon the door with
his hands and feet, and shouted hoarsely after the

"Wormy old fox!" he cried. "If I had my hand under your
twist, I would send you flying headlong into the
bottomless pit."

A door shut in the interior, faintly audible to the
poet down long passages. He passed his hand over his
mouth with an oath. And then the humour of the
situation struck him, and he laughed and looked lightly
up to heaven, where the stars seemed to be winking over
his discomfiture.

What was to be done? It looked very like a night in the
frosty streets. The idea of the dead woman popped into
his imagination, and gave him a hearty fright; what had
happened to her in the early night might very well
happen to him before morning. And he so young! and with
such immense possibilities of disorderly amusement
before him! He felt quite pathetic over the notion of
his own fate, as if it had been some one else's, and
made a little imaginative vignette of the scene in the
morning when they should find his body.

He passed all his chances under review, turning the
white between his thumb and forefinger. Unfortunately
he was on bad terms with some old friends who would
once have taken pity on him in such a plight. He had
lampooned them in verses, he had beaten and cheated
them; and yet now, when he was in so close a pinch, he
thought there was at least one who might perhaps
relent. It was a chance. It was worth trying at least,
and he would go and see.

On the way, two little accidents happened to him which
coloured his musings in a very different manner. For,
first, he fell in with the track of a patrol, and
walked in it for some hundred yards, although it lay
out of his direction. And this spirited him up; at
least he had confused his trail; for he was still
possessed with the idea of people tracking him all
about Paris over the snow, and collaring him next
morning before he was awake. The other matter affected
him very differently. He passed a street corner, where,
not so long before, a woman and her child had been
devoured by wolves. This was just the kind of weather,
he reflected, when wolves might take it into their
heads to enter Paris again; and a lone man in these
deserted streets would run the chance of something
worse than a mere scare. He stopped and looked upon the
place with an unpleasant interest--it was a centre
where several lanes intersected each other; and he
looked down them all one after another, and held his
breath to listen, lest he should detect some galloping
black things on the snow, or hear the sound of howling
between him and the river. He remembered his mother
telling him the story and pointing out the spot, while
he was yet a child. His mother! If he only knew where
she lived, he might make sure at least of shelter. He
determined he would inquire upon the morrow; nay, he
would go and see her too, poor old girl! So thinking,
he arrived at his destination--his last hope for the

The house was quite dark, like its neighbours; and yet
after a few taps he heard a movement overhead, a door
opening, and a cautious voice asking who was there. The
poet named himself in a loud whisper, and waited, not
without some trepidation, the result. Nor had he to
wait long. A window was suddenly opened, and a pailful
of slops splashed down upon the doorstep. Villon had
not been unprepared for something of the sort, and had
put himself as much in shelter as the nature of the
porch admitted; but for all that, he was deplorably
drenched below the waist. His hose began to freeze
almost at once. Death from cold and exposure stared him
in the face; he remembered he was of phthisical
tendency, and began coughing tentatively. But the
gravity of the danger steadied his nerves. He stopped a
few hundred yards from the door where he had been so
rudely used, and reflected with his finger to his nose.
He could only see one way of getting a lodging, and
that was to take it. He had noticed a house not far
away, which looked as if it might be easily broken
into, and thither he betook himself promptly,
entertaining himself on the way with the idea of a room
still hot, with a table still loaded with the remains
of supper, where he might pass the rest of the black
hours, and whence he should issue on the morrow with an
armful of valuable plate. He even considered on what
viands and what wines he should prefer; and as he was
calling the roll of his favourite dainties, roast fish
presented itself to his mind with an odd mixture of
amusement and horror.

"I shall never finish that ballade," he thought to
himself; and then, with another shudder at the
recollection, "Oh, damn his fat head!" he repeated
fervently, and spat upon the snow.

The house in question looked dark at first sight; but
as Villon made a preliminary inspection in search of
the handiest point of attack, a little twinkle of light
caught his eye from behind a curtained window.

"The devil!" he thought. "People awake! Some student or
some saint--confound the crew! Can't they get drunk and
lie in bed snoring like their neighbours! What's the
good of curfew, and poor devils of bell-ringers jumping
at a rope's-end in bell-towers? What's the use of day,
if people sit up all night? The gripes to them!" He
grinned as he saw where his logic was leading him.
"Every man to his business, after all," added he, "and
if they're awake, by the Lord, I may come by a supper
honestly for this once, and cheat the devil."

He went boldly to the door and knocked with an assured
hand. On both previous occasions he had knocked
timidly, and with some dread of attracting notice; but
now, when he had just discarded the thought of a
burglarious entry, knocking at a door seemed a mighty
simple and innocent proceeding. The sound of his blows
echoed through the house with thin, phantasmal
reverberations, as though it were quite empty; but
these had scarcely died away before a measured tread
drew near, a couple of bolts were withdrawn, and one
wing was opened broadly, as though no guile or fear of
guile were known to those within. A tall figure of a
man, muscular and spare, but a little bent, confronted
Villon. The head was massive in bulk, but finely
sculptured; the nose blunt at the bottom, but refining
upward to where it joined a pair of strong and honest
eye-brows; the mouth and eyes surrounded with delicate
markings, and the whole face based upon a thick white
beard, boldly and squarely trimmed. Seen as it was by
the light of a flickering hand-lamp, it looked perhaps
nobler than it had a right to do; but it was a fine
face, honourable rather than intelligent, strong,
simple, and righteous.

"You knock late, sir," said the old man in resonant,
courteous tones.

Villon cringed, and brought up many servile words of
apology; at a crisis of this sort the beggar was
uppermost in him, and the man of genius hid his head
with confusion.

"You are cold," repeated the old man, "and hungry?
Well, step in." And he ordered him into the house with
a noble enough gesture.

"Some great seigneur," thought Villon, as his host,
setting down the lamp on the flagged pavement of the
entry, shot the bolts once more into their places.

"You will pardon me if I go in front," he said, when
this was done; and he preceded the poet up-stairs into
a large apartment, warmed with a pan of charcoal and
lit by a great lamp hanging from the roof. It was very
bare of furniture: only some gold plate on a sideboard;
some folios; and a stand of armour between the windows.
Some smart tapestry hung upon the walls, representing
the crucifixion of our Lord in one piece, and in
another a scene of shepherds and shepherdesses by a
running stream. Over the chimney was a shield of arms.

"Will you seat yourself," said the old man, "and
forgive me if I leave you? I am alone in my house
to-night, and if you are to eat I must forage for you

No sooner was his host gone than Villon leaped from the
chair on which he had just seated himself, and began
examining the room, with the stealth and passion of a
cat. He weighed the gold flagons in his hand, opened
all the folios, and investigated the arms upon the
shield, and the stuff with which the seats were lined.
He raised the window curtains, and saw that the windows
were set with rich stained glass in figures, so far as
he could see, of martial import. Then he stood in the
middle of the room, drew a long breath, and retaining
it with puffed cheeks, looked round and round him,
turning on his heels, as if to impress every feature of
the apartment on his memory.

"Seven pieces of plate," he said. "If there had been
ten, I would have risked it. A fine house, and a fine
old master, so help me all the saints!"

And just then, hearing the old man's tread returning
along the corridor, he stole back to his chair, and
began humbly toasting his wet legs before the charcoal

His entertainer had a plate of meat in one hand and a
jug of wine in the other. He set down the plate upon
the table, motioning Villon to draw in his chair, and
going to the sideboard, brought back two goblets, which
he filled.

"I drink to your better fortune," he said, gravely
touching Villon's cup with his own.

"To our better acquaintance," said the poet, growing
bold. A mere man of the people would have been awed by
the courtesy of the old seigneur, but Villon was
hardened in that matter; he had made mirth for great
lords before now, and found them as black rascals as
himself. And so he devoted himself to the viands with a
ravenous gusto, while the old man, leaning backward,
watched him with steady, curious eyes.

"You have blood on your shoulder, my man," he said.

Montigny must have laid his wet right hand upon him as
he left the house. He cursed Montigny in his heart.

"It was none of my shedding," he stammered.

"I had not supposed so," returned his host quietly.
"A brawl?"

"Well, something of that sort," Villon admitted with a

"Perhaps a fellow murdered?"

"Oh no--not murdered," said the poet, more and more
confused. "It was all fair play--murdered by accident.
I had no hand in it, God strike me dead!" he added

"One rogue the fewer, I daresay," observed the master
of the house.

"You may dare to say that," agreed Villon, infinitely
relieved. "As big a rogue as there is between here and
Jerusalem. He turned up his toes like a lamb. But it
was a nasty thing to look at. I daresay you've seen
dead men in your time, my lord?" he added, glancing at
the armour.

"Many," said the old man. "I have followed the wars, as
you imagine."

Villon laid down his knife and fork, which he had just
taken up again.

"Were any of them bald?" he asked.

"Oh yes, and with hair as white as mine."

"I don't think I should mind the white so much," said
Villon. "His was red." And he had a return of his
shuddering and tendency to laughter, which he drowned
with a great draught of wine. "I'm a little put out
when I think of it," he went on. "I knew him--damn him!
And then the cold gives a man fancies--or the fancies
give a man cold, I don't know which."

"Have you any money?" asked the old man.

"I have one white," returned the poet, laughing. "I got
it out of a dead jade's stocking in a porch. She was as
dead as Caesar, poor wench, and as cold as a church,
with bits of ribbon sticking in her hair. This is a
hard world in winter for wolves and wenches and poor
rogues like me."

"I," said the old man, "am Enguerrand de la Feuillee,
seigneur de Brisetout, bailly du Patatrac. Who and what
may you be?"

Villon rose and made a suitable reverence. "I am called
Francis Villon," he said, "a poor Master of Arts of
this University. I know some Latin, and a deal of vice.
I can make chansons, ballades, lais, virelais, and
roundels, and I am very fond of wine. I was born in a
garret, and I shall not improbably die upon the
gallows. I may add, my lord, that from this night
forward I am your lordship's very obsequious servant to

"No servant of mine," said the knight; "my guest for
this evening, and no more."

"A very grateful guest," said Villon politely; and he
drank in dumb show to his entertainer.

"You are shrewd," began the old man, tapping his
forehead, "very shrewd; you have learning; you are a
clerk; and yet you take a small piece of money off a
dead woman in the street. Is it not a kind of theft?"

"It is a kind of theft much practised in the wars, my

"The wars are the field of honour," returned the old
man proudly. "There a man plays his life upon the cast;
he fights in the name of his lord the king, his Lord
God, and all their lordships the holy saints and

"Put it," said Villon, "that I were really a thief,
should I not play my life also, and against heavier

"For gain, but not for honour."

"Gain?" repeated Villon, with a shrug. "Gain! The poor
fellow wants supper, and takes it. So does the soldier
in a campaign. Why, what are all these requisitions we
hear so much about? If they are not gain to those who
take them, they are loss enough to the others. The men-
at-arms drink by a good fire, while the burgher bites
his nails to buy them wine and wood. I have seen a good
many ploughmen swinging on trees about the country; ay,
I have seen thirty on one elm, and a very poor figure
they made; and when I asked some one how all these came
to be hanged, I was told it was because they could not
scrape together enough crowns to satisfy the men-at-

"These things are a necessity of war, which the low-
born must endure with constancy. It is true that some
captains drive over-hard; there are spirits in every
rank not easily moved by pity; and indeed many follow
arms who are no better than brigands."

"You see," said the poet, "you cannot separate the
soldier from the brigand; and what is a thief but an
isolated brigand with circumspect manners? I steal a
couple of mutton-chops, without so much as disturbing
people's sleep; the farmer grumbles a bit, but sups
none the less wholesomely on what remains. You come up
blowing gloriously on a trumpet, take away the whole
sheep, and beat the farmer pitifully into the bargain.
I have no trumpet; I am only Tom, Dick, or Harry; I am
a rogue and a dog, and hanging's too good for me--with
all my heart; but just you ask the farmer which of us
he prefers, just find out which of us he lies awake to
curse on cold nights."

"Look at us two," said his lordship. "I am old, strong,
and honoured. If I were turned from my house to-morrow,
hundreds would be proud to shelter me. Poor people
would go out and pass the night in the streets with
their children if I merely hinted that I wished to be
alone. And I find you up, wandering homeless, and
picking farthings off dead women by the wayside! I fear
no man and nothing; I have seen you tremble and lose
countenance at a word. I wait God's summons contentedly
in my own house, or, if it please the king to call me
out again, upon the field of battle. You look for the
gallows; a rough, swift death, without hope or honour.
Is there no difference between these two?"

"As far as to the moon," Villon acquiesced. "But if I
had been born lord of Brisetout, and you had been the
poor scholar Francis, would the difference have been
any the less? Should not I have been warming my knees
at this charcoal pan, and would not you have been
groping for farthings in the snow? Should not I have
been the soldier, and you the thief?"

"A thief!" cried the old man. "I a thief! If you
understood your words, you would repent them."

Villon turned out his hands with a gesture of
inimitable impudence. "If your lordship had done me the
honour to follow my argument!" he said.

"I do you too much honour in submitting to your
presence," said the knight. "Learn to curb your tongue
when you speak with old and honourable men, or some one
hastier than I may reprove you in a sharper fashion."
And he rose and paced the lower end of the apartment,
struggling with anger and antipathy. Villon
surreptitiously refilled his cup, and settled himself
more comfortably in the chair, crossing his knees and
leaning his head upon one hand and the elbow against
the back of the chair. He was now replete and warm; and
he was in nowise frightened for his host, having gauged
him as justly as was possible between two such
different characters. The night was far spent, and in a
very comfortable fashion after all; and he felt morally
certain of a safe departure on the morrow.

"Tell me one thing," said the old man, pausing in his
walk. "Are you really a thief?"

"I claim the sacred rights of hospitality," returned
the poet. "My lord, I am."

"You are very young," the knight continued.

"I should never have been so old," replied Villon,
showing his fingers, "if I had not helped myself with
these ten talents. They have been my nursing-mothers
and my nursing-fathers."

"You may still repent the change."

"I repent daily," said the poet. "There are few people
more given to repentance than poor Francis. As for
change, let somebody change my circumstances. A man
must continue to eat, if it were only that he may
continue to repent."

"The change must begin in the heart," returned the old
man solemnly.

"My dear lord," answered Villon, "do you really fancy
that I steal for pleasure? I hate stealing, like any
other piece of work or of danger. My teeth chatter when
I see a gallows. But I must eat, I must drink, I must
mix in society of some sort. What the devil! Man is not
a solitary animal--_cui Deus foeminam tradit._ Make me
king's pantler--make me abbot of St. Denis; make me
bailly of the Patatrac; and then I shall be changed
indeed. But as long as you leave me the poor scholar
Francis Villon, without a farthing, why, of course, I
remain the same."

"The grace of God is all-powerful."

"I should be a heretic to question it," said Francis.
"It has made you lord of Brisetout and bailly of the
Patatrac; it has given me nothing but the quick wits
under my hat and these ten toes upon my hands. May I
help myself to wine? I thank you respectfully. By God's
grace, you have a very superior vintage."

The lord of Brisetout walked to and fro with his hands
behind his back. Perhaps he was not yet quite settled
in his mind about the parallel between thieves and
soldiers; perhaps Villon had interested him by some
cross-thread of sympathy; perhaps his wits were simply
muddled by so much unfamiliar reasoning; but whatever
the cause, he somehow yearned to convert the young man
to a better way of thinking, and could not make up his
mind to drive him forth again into the street.

"There is something more than I can understand in
this," he said at length. "Your mouth is full of
subtleties, and the devil has led you very far astray;
but the devil is only a very weak spirit before God's
truth, and all his subtleties vanish at a word of true
honour, like darkness at morning. Listen to me once
more. I learned long ago that a gentleman should live
chivalrously and lovingly to God, and the king, and his
lady; and though I have seen many strange things done,
I have still striven to command my ways upon that rule.
It is not only written in all noble histories, but in
every man's heart, if he will take care to read. You
speak of food and wine, and I know very well that
hunger is a difficult trial to endure; but you do not
speak of other wants; you say nothing of honour, of
faith to God and other men, of courtesy, of love
without reproach. It may be that I am not very wise--
and yet I think I am--but you seem to me like one who
has lost his way and made a great error in life. You
are attending to the little wants, and you have totally
forgotten the great and only real ones, like a man who
should be doctoring a tooth-ache on the Judgment Day.
For such things as honour and love and faith are not
only nobler than food and drink, but indeed I think
that we desire them more, and suffer more sharply for
their absence. I speak to you as I think you will most
easily understand me. Are you not, while careful to
fill your belly, disregarding another appetite in your
heart, which spoils the pleasure of your life and keeps
you continually wretched?"

Villon was sensibly nettled under all this sermonising.
"You think I have no sense of honour!" he cried. "I'm
poor enough, God knows! It's hard to see rich people
with their gloves, and you blowing in your hands. An
empty belly is a bitter thing, although you speak so
lightly of it. If you had had as many as I, perhaps you
would change your tune. Any way I'm a thief--make the
most of that--but I'm not a devil from hell, God strike
me dead! I would have you to know I've an honour of my
own, as good as yours, though I don't prate about it
all day long, as if it was a God's miracle to have any.
It seems quite natural to me; I keep it in its box till
it's wanted. Why now, look you here, how long have I
been in this room with you? Did you not tell me you
were alone in the house? Look at your gold plate!
You're strong, if you like, but you're old and unarmed,
and I have my knife. What did I want but a jerk of the
elbow and here would have been you with the cold steel
in your bowels, and there would have been me, linking
in the streets, with an armful of gold cups! Did you
suppose I hadn't wit enough to see that? And I scorned
the action. There are your damned goblets, as safe as
in a church; there are you, with your heart ticking as
good as new; and here am I, ready to go out again as
poor as I came in, with my one white that you threw in
my teeth! And you think I have no sense of honour--God
strike me dead!"

The old man stretched out his right arm. "I will tell
you what you are," he said. "You are a rogue, my man,
an impudent and a black-hearted rogue and vagabond.
I have passed an hour with you. Oh! believe me, I feel
myself disgraced! And you have eaten and drunk at my
table. But now I am sick at your presence; the day has
come, and the night-bird should be off to his roost.
Will you go before, or after?"

"Which you please," returned the poet, rising.
"I believe you to be strictly honourable." He thoughtfully
emptied his cup. "I wish I could add you were
intelligent," he went on, knocking on his head with his
knuckles. "Age, age! the brains stiff and rheumatic."

The old man preceded him from a point of self-respect;
Villon followed, whistling, with his thumbs in his

"God pity you!" said the lord of Brisetout at the door.

"Good-bye, papa," returned Villon, with a yawn. "Many
thanks for the cold mutton."

The door closed behind him. The dawn was breaking over
the white roofs. A chill, uncomfortable morning ushered
in the day. Villon stood and heartily stretched himself
in the middle of the road.

"A very dull old gentleman," he thought. "I wonder what
his goblets may be worth."








Originally published:
"Temple Bar," January, 1878.

Reprinted in "New Arabian Nights":
Chatto and Windus, London, 1882.



DENIS DE BEAULIEU was not yet two-and-twenty, but he
counted himself a grown man, and a very accomplished
cavalier into the bargain. Lads were early formed in
that rough, war-faring epoch; and when one has been in
a pitched battle and a dozen raids, has killed one's
man in an honourable fashion, and knows a thing or two
of strategy and mankind, a certain swagger in the gait
is surely to be pardoned. He had put up his horse with
due care, and supped with due deliberation; and then,
in a very agreeable frame of mind, went out to pay a
visit in the grey of the evening. It was not a very
wise proceeding on the young man's part. He would have
done better to remain beside the fire or go decently to
bed. For the town was full of the troops of Burgundy
and England under a mixed command; and though Denis was
there on safe-conduct, his safe-conduct was like to
serve him little on a chance encounter.

It was September 1429; the weather had fallen sharp; a
flighty piping wind, laden with showers, beat about the
township; and the dead leaves ran riot along the
streets. Here and there a window was already lighted
up; and the noise of men-at-arms making merry over
supper within came forth in fits and was swallowed up
and carried away by the wind. The night fell swiftly;
the flag of England, fluttering on the spire-top, grew
ever fainter and fainter against the flying clouds--a
black speck like a swallow in the tumultuous, leaden
chaos of the sky. As the night fell the wind rose, and
began to hoot under archways and roar amid the tree-
tops in the valley below the town.

Denis de Beaulieu walked fast, and was soon knocking at
his friend's door; but though he promised himself to
stay only a little while and make an early return, his
welcome was so pleasant, and he found so much to delay
him, that it was already long past midnight before he
said good-bye upon the threshold. The wind had fallen
again in the meanwhile; the night was as black as the
grave; not a star, nor a glimmer of moonshine, slipped
through the canopy of cloud. Denis was ill acquainted
with the intricate lanes of Chateau Landon; even by
daylight he had found some trouble in picking his way;
and in this absolute darkness he soon lost it
altogether. He was certain of one thing only--to keep
mounting the hill; for his friend's house lay at the
lower end, or tail, of Chateau Landon, while the inn
was up at the head, under the great church spire. With
this clue to go upon he stumbled and groped forward,
now breathing more freely in open places where there
was a good slice of sky overhead, now feeling along the
wall in stifling closes. It is an eerie and mysterious
position to be thus submerged in opaque blackness in an
almost unknown town. The silence is terrifying in its
possibilities. The touch of cold window-bars to the
exploring hand startles the man like the touch of a
toad; the inequalities of the pavement shake his heart
into his mouth; a piece of denser darkness threatens an
ambuscade or a chasm in the pathway; and where the air
is brighter, the houses put on strange and bewildering
appearances, as if to lead him farther from his way.
For Denis, who had to regain his inn without attracting
notice, there was real danger as well as mere
discomfort in the walk; and he went warily and boldly
at once, and at every corner paused to make an

He had been for some time threading a lane so narrow
that he could touch a wall with either hand, when it
began to open out and go sharply downward. Plainly this
lay no longer in the direction of his inn; but the hope
of a little more light tempted him forward to
reconnoitre. The lane ended in a terrace with a
bartizan wall, which gave an outlook between high
houses, as out of an embrasure, into the valley lying
dark and formless several hundred feet below. Denis
looked down, and could discern a few tree-tops waving
and a single speck of brightness where the river ran
across a weir. The weather was clearing up, and the sky
had lightened, so as to show the outline of the heavier
clouds and the dark margin of the hills. By the
uncertain glimmer, the house on his left hand should be
a place of some pretensions; it was surmounted by
several pinnacles and turret-tops; the round stern of a
chapel, with a fringe of flying buttresses, projected
boldly from the main block; and the door was sheltered
under a deep porch carved with figures and overhung by
two long gargoyles. The windows of the chapel gleamed
through their intricate tracery with a light as of many
tapers, and threw out the buttresses and the peaked
roof in a more intense blackness against the sky. It
was plainly the hotel of some great family of the
neighbourhood; and as it reminded Denis of a town-house
of his own at Bourges, he stood for some time gazing up
at it and mentally gauging the skill of the architects
and the consideration of the two families.

There seemed to be no issue to the terrace but the lane
by which he had reached it; he could only retrace his
steps, but he had gained some notion of his
whereabouts, and hoped by this means to hit the main
thoroughfare and speedily regain the inn. He was
reckoning without that chapter of accidents which was
to make this night memorable above all others in his
career; for he had not gone back above a hundred yards
before he saw a light coming to meet him, and heard
loud voices speaking together in the echoing narrows of
the lane. It was a party of men-at-arms going the
night-round with torches. Denis assured himself that
they had all been making free with the wine-bowl, and
were in no mood to be particular about safe-conducts or
the niceties of chivalrous war. It was as like as not
that they would kill him like a dog and leave him where
he fell. The situation was inspiriting, but nervous.
Their own torches would conceal him from sight, he
reflected; and he hoped that they would drown the noise
of his footsteps with their own empty voices. If he
were but fleet and silent, he might evade their notice

Unfortunately, as he turned to beat a retreat, his foot
rolled upon a pebble; he fell against the wall with an
ejaculation, and his sword rang loudly on the stones.
Two or three voices demanded who went there--some in
French, some in English; but Denis made no reply, and
ran the faster down the lane. Once upon the terrace, he
paused to look back. They still kept calling after him,
and just then began to double the pace in pursuit, with
a considerable clank of armour, and great tossing of
the torchlight to and fro in the narrow jaws of the

Denis cast a look around and darted into the porch.
There he might escape observation, or--if that were too
much to expect--was in a capital posture whether for
parley or defence. So thinking, he drew his sword and
tried to set his back against the door. To his
surprise, it yielded behind his weight; and though he
turned in a moment, continued to swing back on oiled
and noiseless hinges, until it stood wide open on a
black interior. When things fall out opportunely for
the person concerned, he is not apt to be critical
about the how or why, his own immediate personal
convenience seeming a sufficient reason for the
strangest oddities and revolutions in our sublunary
things; and so Denis, without a moment's hesitation,
stepped within and partly closed the door behind him to
conceal his place of refuge. Nothing was further from
his thoughts than to close it altogether; but for some
inexplicable reason--perhaps by a spring or a weight--
the ponderous mass of oak whipped itself out of his
fingers and clanked-to, with a formidable rumble and a
noise like the falling of an automatic bar.

The round, at that very moment, debouched upon the
terrace, and proceeded to summon him with shouts and
curses. He heard them ferreting in the dark corners;
the stock of a lance even rattled along the outer
surface of the door behind which he stood; but these
gentlemen were in too high a humour to be long delayed,
and soon made off down a corkscrew pathway which had
escaped Denis's observation, and passed out of sight
and hearing along the battlements of the town.

Denis breathed again. He gave them a few minutes' grace
for fear of accidents, and then groped about for some
means of opening the door and slipping forth again. The
inner surface was quite smooth--not a handle, not a
moulding, not a projection of any sort. He got his
finger-nails round the edges and pulled, but the mass
was immovable. He shook it; it was as firm as a rock.
Denis de Beaulieu frowned and gave vent to a little
noiseless whistle. What ailed the door? he wondered.
Why was it open? How came it to shut so easily and so
effectually after him? There was something obscure and
underhand about all this that was little to the young
man's fancy. It looked like a snare; and yet who could
suppose a snare in such a quiet by-street and in a
house of so prosperous and even noble an exterior? And
yet--snare or no snare, intentionally or
unintentionally--here he was, prettily trapped; and for
the life of him he could see no way out of it again.
The darkness began to weigh upon him. He gave ear; all
was silent without, but within and close by he seemed
to catch a faint sighing, a faint sobbing rustle, a
little stealthy creak--as though many persons were at
his side, holding themselves quite still, and governing
even their respiration with the extreme of slyness. The
idea went to his vitals with a shock, and he faced
about suddenly as if to defend his life. Then, for the
first time, he became aware of a light about the level
of his eyes, and at some distance in the interior of
the house--a vertical thread of light, widening towards
the bottom, such as might escape between two wings of
arras over a doorway. To see anything was a relief to
Denis; it was like a piece of solid ground to a man
labouring in a morass; his mind seized upon it with
avidity; and he stood staring at it and trying to piece
together some logical conception of his surroundings.
Plainly there was a flight of steps ascending from his
own level to that of this illuminated doorway; and
indeed he thought he could make out another thread of
light, as fine as a needle, and as faint as
phosphorescence, which might very well be reflected
along the polished wood of a handrail. Since he had
begun to suspect that he was not alone, his heart had
continued to beat with smothering violence, and an
intolerable desire for action of any sort had possessed
itself of his spirit. He was in deadly peril, he
believed. What could be more natural than to mount the
staircase, lift the curtain, and confront his
difficulty at once? At least he would be dealing with
something tangible; at least he would be no longer in
the dark. He stepped slowly forward with outstretched
hands, until his foot struck the bottom step; then he
rapidly scaled the stairs, stood for a moment to
compose his expression, lifted the arras, and went in.

He found himself in a large apartment of polished
stone. There were three doors; one on each of three
sides; all similarly curtained with tapestry. The
fourth side was occupied by two large windows and a
great stone chimney-piece, carved with the arms of the
Maletroits. Denis recognised the bearings, and was
gratified to find himself in such good hands. The room
was strongly illuminated; but it contained little
furniture except a heavy table and a chair or two, the
hearth was innocent of fire, and the pavement was but
sparsely strewn with rushes clearly many days old.

On a high chair beside the chimney, and directly facing
Denis as he entered, sat a little old gentleman in a
fur tippet. He sat with his legs crossed and his hands
folded, and a cup of spiced wine stood by his elbow on
a bracket on the wall. His countenance had a strongly
masculine cast; not properly human, but such as we see
in the bull, the goat, or the domestic boar; something
equivocal and wheedling, something greedy, brutal, and
dangerous. The upper lip was inordinately full, as
though swollen by a blow or a toothache; and the smile,
the peaked eye-brows, and the small, strong eyes, were
quaintly and almost comically evil in expression.
Beautiful white hair hung straight all round his head,
like a saint's, and fell in a single curl upon the
tippet. His beard and moustache were the pink of
venerable sweetness. Age, probably in consequence of
inordinate precautions, had left no mark upon his
hands; and the Maletroit hand was famous. It would be
difficult to imagine anything at once so fleshy and so
delicate in design; the taper, sensual fingers were
like those of one of Leonardo's women; the fork of the
thumb made a dimpled protuberance when closed; the
nails were perfectly shaped, and of a dead, surprising
whiteness. It rendered his aspect tenfold more
redoubtable, that a man with hands like these should
keep them devoutly folded in his lap like a virgin
martyr--that a man with so intense and startling an
expression of face should sit patiently on his seat and
contemplate people with an unwinking stare, like a god,
or a god's statue. His quiescence seemed ironical and
treacherous, it fitted so poorly with his looks.

Such was Alain, Sire de Maletroit.

Denis and he looked silently at each other for a second
or two.

"Pray step in," said the Sire de Maletroit. "I have
been expecting you all the evening."

He had not risen, but he accompanied his words with a
smile and a slight but courteous inclination of the
head. Partly from the smile, partly from the strange
musical murmur with which the Sire prefaced his
observation, Denis felt a strong shudder of disgust go
through his marrow. And what with disgust and honest
confusion of mind, he could scarcely get words together
in reply.

"I fear," he said, "that this is a double accident.
I am not the person you suppose me. It seems you were
looking for a visit; but for my part, nothing was
further from my thoughts--nothing could be more
contrary to my wishes--than this intrusion."

"Well, well," replied the old gentleman indulgently,
"here you are, which is the main point. Seat yourself,
my friend, and put yourself entirely at your ease.
We shall arrange our little affairs presently."

Denis perceived that the matter was still complicated
with some misconception, and he hastened to continue
his explanations.

"Your door----" he began.

"About my door?" asked the other, raising his peaked
eyebrows. "A little piece of ingenuity." And he
shrugged his shoulders. "A hospitable fancy! By your
own account, you were not desirous of making my
acquaintance. We old people look for such reluctance
now and then; and when it touches our honour, we cast
about until we find some way of overcoming it. You
arrive uninvited, but believe me, very welcome."

"You persist in, error, sir," said Denis. "There can be
no question between you and me. I am a stranger in this
countryside. My name is Denis, damoiseau de Beaulieu.
If you see me in your house, it is only----"

"My young friend," interrupted the other, "you will
permit me to have my own ideas on that subject. They
probably differ from yours at the present moment," he
added, with a leer, "but time will show which of us is
in the right."

Denis was convinced he had to do with a lunatic.
He seated himself with a shrug, content to wait the
upshot; and a pause ensued, during which he thought he
could distinguish a hurried gabbling as of prayer from
behind the arras immediately opposite him. Sometimes
there seemed to be but one person engaged, sometimes
two; and the vehemence of the voice, low as it was,
seemed to indicate either great haste or an agony of
spirit. It occurred to him that this piece of tapestry
covered the entrance to the chapel he had noticed from

The old gentleman meanwhile surveyed Denis from head to
foot with a smile, and from time to time emitted little
noises like a bird or a mouse, which seemed to indicate
a high degree of satisfaction. This state of matters
became rapidly insupportable; and Denis, to put an end
to it, remarked politely that the wind had gone down.

The old gentleman fell into a fit of silent laughter so
prolonged and violent that he became quite red in the
face. Denis got upon his feet at once, and put on his
hat with a flourish.

"Sir," he said, "if you are in your wits, you have
affronted me grossly. If you are out of them, I flatter
myself I can find better employment for my brains than
to talk with lunatics. My conscience is clear; you have
made a fool of me from the first moment; you have
refused to hear my explanations, and now there is no
power under God will make me stay here any longer; and
if I cannot make my way out in a more decent fashion, I
will hack your door in pieces with my sword."

The Sire de Maletroit raised his right hand and wagged
it at Denis with the fore and little fingers extended.

"My dear nephew," he said, "sit down."

"Nephew!" retorted Denis, "you lie in your throat;" and
he snapped his fingers in his face.

"Sit down, you rogue!" cried the old gentleman, in a
sudden, harsh voice, like the barking of a dog. "Do you
fancy," he went on, "that when I had made my little
contrivance for the door I had stopped short with that?
If you prefer to be bound hand and foot till your bones
ache, rise and try to go away. If you choose to remain
a free young buck, agreeably conversing with an old
gentleman--why, sit where you are in peace, and God be
with you."

"Do you mean I am a prisoner?" demanded Denis.

"I state the facts," replied the other. "I would rather
leave the conclusion to yourself."

Denis sat down again. Externally he managed to keep
pretty calm; but within, he was now boiling with anger,
now chilled with apprehension. He no longer felt
convinced that he was dealing with a madman. And if the
old gentleman was sane, what, in God's name, had he to
look for? What absurd or tragical adventure had
befallen him? What countenance was he to assume?

While he was thus unpleasantly reflecting, the arras
that overhung the chapel door was raised, and a tall
priest in his robes came forth, and, giving a long,
keen stare at Denis, said something in an undertone to
Sire de Maletroit.

"She is in a better frame of spirit?" asked the latter.

"She is more resigned, messire," replied the priest.

"Now the Lord help her, she is hard to please!" sneered
the old gentleman. "A likely stripling--not ill-born--
and of her own choosing too? Why, what more would the
jade have?"

"The situation is not usual for a young damsel," said
the other, "and somewhat trying to her blushes."

"She should have thought of that before she began the
dance! It was none of my choosing, God knows that: but
since she is in it, by Our Lady, she shall carry it to
the end." And then addressing Denis, "Monsieur de
Beaulieu," he asked, "may I present you to my niece?
She has been waiting your arrival, I may say, with even
greater impatience than myself."

Denis had resigned himself with a good grace--all he
desired was to know the worst of it as speedily as
possible; so he rose at once, and bowed in
acquiescence. The Sire de Maletroit followed his
example, and limped, with the assistance of the
chaplain's arm, towards the chapel door. The priest
pulled aside the arras, and all three entered. The
building had considerable architectural pretensions.
A light groining sprang from six stout columns, and hung
down in two rich pendants from the centre of the vault.
The place terminated behind the altar in a round end,
embossed and honeycombed with a superfluity of ornament
in relief, and pierced by many little windows shaped
like stars, trefoils, or wheels. These windows were
imperfectly glazed, so that the night-air circulated
freely in the chapel. The tapers, of which there must
have been half a hundred burning on the altar, were
unmercifully blown about; and the light went through
many different phases of brilliancy and semi-eclipse.
On the steps in front of the altar knelt a young girl
richly attired as a bride. A chill settled over Denis
as he observed her costume; he fought with desperate
energy against the conclusion that was being thrust
upon his mind; it could not--it should not--be as he

"Blanche," said the Sire, in his most flute-like tones,
"I have brought a friend to see you, my little girl;
turn round and give him your pretty hand. It is good to
be devout; but it is necessary to be polite, my niece."

The girl rose to her feet and turned towards the new-
comers. She moved all of a piece; and shame and
exhaustion were expressed in every line of her fresh
young body; and she held her head down and kept her
eyes upon the pavement, as she came slowly forward.
In the course of her advance, her eyes fell upon Denis
de Beaulieu's feet--feet of which he was justly vain,
be it remarked, and wore in the most elegant accoutrement
even while travelling. She paused--started, as if his
yellow boots had conveyed some shocking meaning--and
glanced suddenly up into the wearer's countenance.
Their eyes met; shame gave place to horror and terror
in her looks; the blood left her lips; with a piercing
scream she covered her face with her hands and sank
upon the chapel floor.

"That is not the man!" she cried. "My uncle, that is
not the man!"

The Sire de Maletroit chirped agreeably. "Of course
not," he said, "I expected as much. It was so
unfortunate you could not remember his name."

"Indeed," she cried, "indeed, I have never seen this
person till this moment--I have never so much as set
eyes upon him--I never wish to see him again. Sir," she
said, turning to Denis, "if you are a gentleman, you
will bear me out. Have I ever seen you--have you ever
seen me--before this accursed hour?"

"To speak for myself, I have never had that pleasure,"
answered the young man. "This is the first time,
messire, that I have met with your engaging niece."

The old gentleman shrugged his shoulders.

"I am distressed to hear it," he said. "But it is never
too late to begin. I had little more acquaintance with
my own late lady ere I married her; which proves," he
added with a grimace, "that these impromptu marriages
may often produce an excellent understanding in the
long-run. As the bridegroom is to have a voice in the
matter, I will give him two hours to make up for lost
time before we proceed with the ceremony." And he
turned towards the door, followed by the clergyman.

The girl was on her feet in a moment. "My uncle, you
cannot be in earnest," she said. "I declare before God
I will stab myself rather than be forced on that young
man. The heart rises at it; God forbids such marriages;
you dishonour your white hair. O my uncle, pity me!
There is not a woman in all the world but would prefer
death to such a nuptial. Is it possible," she added,
faltering--"is it possible that you do not believe me--
that you still think this"--and she pointed at Denis
with a tremor of anger and contempt--"that you still
think this to be the man?"

"Frankly," said the old gentleman, pausing on the
threshold, "I do. But let me explain to you once for
all, Blanche de Maletroit, my way of thinking about
this affair. When you took it into your head to
dishonour my family and the name that I have borne, in
peace and war, for more than threescore years, you
forfeited, not only the right to question my designs,
but that of looking me in the face. If your father had
been alive, he would have spat on you and turned you
out of doors. His was the hand of iron. You may bless
your God you have only to deal with the hand of velvet,
mademoiselle. It was my duty to get you married without
delay. Out of pure goodwill, I have tried to find your
own gallant for you. And I believe I have succeeded.
But before God and all the holy angels, Blanche de
Maletroit, if I have not, I care not one jack-straw.
So let me recommend you to be polite to our young friend;
for upon my word, your next groom may be less

And with that he went out, with the chaplain at his
heels; and the arras fell behind the pair.

The girl turned upon Denis with flashing eyes.

"And what, sir," she demanded, "may be the meaning of
all this?"

"God knows," returned Denis gloomily. "I am a prisoner
in this house, which seems full of mad people. More I
know not, and nothing do I understand."

"And pray how came you here?" she asked.

He told her as briefly as he could. "For the rest," he
added, "perhaps you will follow my example, and tell me
the answer to all these riddles, and what, in God's
name, is like to be the end of it."

She stood silent for a little, and he could see her
lips tremble and her tearless eyes burn with a feverish
lustre. Then she pressed her forehead in both hands.

"Alas, how my head aches!" she said wearily--" to say
nothing of my poor heart! But it is due to you to know
my story, unmaidenly as it must seem. I am called
Blanche de Maletroit; I have been without father or
mother for--oh! for as long as I can recollect, and
indeed I have been most unhappy all my life. Three
months ago a young captain began to stand near me every
day in church. I could see that I pleased him; I am
much to blame, but I was so glad that any one should
love me; and when he passed me a letter, I took it home
with me and read it with great pleasure. Since that
time he has written many. He was so anxious to speak
with me, poor fellow! and kept asking me to leave the
door open some evening that we might have two words
upon the stair. For he knew how much my uncle trusted
me." She gave something like a sob at that, and it was
a moment before she could go on. "My uncle is a hard
man, but he is very shrewd," she said at last. "He has
performed many feats in war, and was a great person at
court, and much trusted by Queen Isabeau in old days.
How he came to suspect me I cannot tell; but it is hard
to keep anything from his knowledge; and this morning,
as we came from mass, he took my hand in his, forced it
open, and read my little billet, walking by my side all
the while. When he had finished, he gave it back to me
with great politeness. It contained another request to
have the door left open; and this has been the ruin of
us all. My uncle kept me strictly in my room until
evening, and then ordered me to dress myself as you see
me--a hard mockery for a young girl, do you not think
so? I suppose, when he could not prevail with me to
tell him the young captain's name, he must have laid a
trap for him: into which, alas! you have fallen in the
anger of God. I looked for much confusion; for how
could I tell whether he was willing to take me for his
wife on these sharp terms? He might have been trifling
with me from the first; or I might have made myself too
cheap in his eyes. But truly I had not looked for such
a shameful punishment as this! I could not think that
God would let a girl be so disgraced before a young
man. And now I have told you all; and I can scarcely
hope that you will not despise me."

Denis made her a respectful inclination.

"Madam," he said, "you have honoured me by your
confidence. It remains for me to prove that I am not
unworthy of the honour. Is Messire de Maletroit at

"I believe he is writing in the salle without," she

"May I lead you thither, madam?" asked Denis, offering
his hand with his most courtly bearing.

She accepted it; and the pair passed out of the chapel,
Blanche in a very drooping and shamefast condition, but
Denis strutting and ruffling in the consciousness of a
mission, and the boyish certainty of accomplishing it
with honour.

The Sire de Maletroit rose to meet them with an
ironical obeisance.

"Sir," said Denis, with the grandest possible air, "I
believe I am to have some say in the matter of this
marriage; and let me tell you at once, I will be no
party to forcing the inclination of this young lady.
Had it been freely offered to me, I should have been
proud to accept her hand, for I perceive she is as good
as she is beautiful; but as things are, I have now the
honour, messire, of refusing."

Blanche looked at him with gratitude in her eyes; but
the old gentleman only smiled and smiled, until his
smile grew positively sickening to Denis.

"I am afraid," he said, "Monsieur de Beaulieu, that you
do not perfectly understand the choice I have to offer
you. Follow me, I beseech you, to this window." And he
led the way to one of the large windows which stood
open on the night "You observe," he went on, "there is
an iron ring in the upper masonry, and reeved through
that a very efficacious rope. Now, mark my words: if
you should find your disinclination to my niece's
person insurmountable, I shall have you hanged out of
this window before sunrise. I shall only proceed to
such an extremity with the greatest regret, you may
believe me. For it is not at all your death that I
desire, but my niece's establishment in life. At the
same time, it must come to that if you prove obstinate.
Your family, Monsieur de Beaulieu, is very well in its
way; but if you sprang from Charlemagne, you should not
refuse the hand of a Maletroit with impunity--not if
she had been as common as the Paris road--not if she
were as hideous as the gargoyle over my door. Neither
my niece nor you, nor my own private feelings, move me
at all in this matter. The honour of my house has been
compromised; I believe you to be the guilty person; at
least you are now in the secret; and you can hardly
wonder if I request you to wipe out the stain. If you
will not, your blood be on your own head! It will be no
great satisfaction to me to have your interesting
relics kicking their heels in the breeze below my
windows; but half a loaf is better than no bread, and
if I cannot cure the dishonour, I shall at least stop
the scandal."

There was a pause.

"I believe there are other ways of settling such
imbroglios among gentlemen," said Denis. "You wear a
sword, and I hear you have used it with distinction."

The Sire de Maletroit made a signal to the chaplain,
who crossed the room with long, silent strides and
raised the arras over the third of the three doors.
It was only a moment before he let it fall again; but
Denis had time to see a dusky passage full of armed men.

"When I was a little younger, I should have been
delighted to honour you, Monsieur de Beaulieu," said
Sire Alain; "but I am now too old. Faithful retainers
are the sinews of age, and I must employ the strength I
have. This is one of the hardest things to swallow as a
man grows up in years; but with a little patience, even
this becomes habitual. You and the lady seem to prefer
the salle for what remains of your two hours; and as I
have no desire to cross your preference, I shall resign
it to your use with all the pleasure in the world. No
haste!" he added, holding up his hand, as he saw a
dangerous look come into Denis de Beaulieu's face.
"If your mind revolts against hanging, it will be time
enough two hours hence to throw yourself out of the
window or upon the pikes of my retainers. Two hours of
life are always two hours. A great many things may turn
up in even as little a while as that. And, besides, if
I understand her appearance, my niece has still
something to say to you. You will not disfigure your
last hours by a want of politeness to a lady?"

Denis looked at Blanche, and she made him an imploring

It is likely that the old gentleman was hugely pleased
at this symptom of an understanding; for he smiled on
both, and added sweetly: "If you will give me your word
of honour, Monsieur de Beaulieu, to await my return at
the end of the two hours before attempting anything
desperate, I shall withdraw my retainers, and let you
speak in greater privacy with mademoiselle."

Denis again glanced at the girl, who seemed to beseech
him to agree.

"I give you my word of honour," he said.

Messire de Maletroit bowed, and proceeded to limp about
the apartment, clearing his throat the while with that
odd musical chirp which had already grown so irritating
in the ears of Denis de Beaulieu. He first possessed
himself of some papers which lay upon the table; then
he went to the mouth of the passage and appeared to
give an order to the men behind the arras; and lastly
he hobbled out through the door by which Denis had come
in, turning upon the threshold to address a last
smiling bow to the young couple, and followed by the
chaplain with a hand-lamp.

No sooner were they alone than Blanche advanced towards
Denis with her hands extended. Her face was flushed and
excited, and her eyes shone with tears.

"You shall not die!" she cried; "you shall marry me
after all."

"You seem to think, madam," replied Denis, "that I
stand much in fear of death."

"Oh no, no," she said; "I see you are no poltroon. It
is for my own sake--I could not bear to have you slain
for such a scruple."

"I am afraid," returned Denis, "that you underrate the
difficulty, madam. What you may be too generous to
refuse, I may be too proud to accept. In a moment of
noble feeling towards me, you forgot what you perhaps
owe to others."

He had the decency to keep his eyes upon the floor as
he said this, and after he had finished, so as not to
spy upon her confusion. She stood silent for a moment,
then walked suddenly away, and falling on her uncle's
chair, fairly burst out sobbing. Denis was in the acme
of embarrassment He looked round, as if to seek for
inspiration, and seeing a stool, plumped down upon it
for something to do. There he sat, playing with the
guard of his rapier, and wishing himself dead a
thousand times over, and buried in the nastiest
kitchen-heap in France. His eyes wandered round the
apartment, but found nothing to arrest them. There were
such wide spaces between the furniture, the light fell
so baldly and cheerlessly over all, the dark outside
air looked in so coldly through the windows, that he
thought he had never seen a church so vast nor a tomb
so melancholy. The regular sobs of Blanche de Maletroit
measured out the time like the ticking of a clock. He
read the device upon the shield over and over again,
until his eyes became obscured; he stared into shadowy
corners until he imagined they were swarming with
horrible animals; and every now and again he awoke with
a start, to remember that his last two hours were
running, and death was on the march.

Oftener and oftener, as the time went on, did his
glance settle on the girl herself. Her face was bowed
forward and covered with her hands, and she was shaken
at intervals by the convulsive hiccup of grief. Even
thus she was not an unpleasant object to dwell upon, so
plump and yet so fine, with a warm brown skin, and the
most beautiful hair, Denis thought, in the whole world
of womankind. Her hands were like her uncle's; but they
were more in place at the end of her young arms, and
looked infinitely soft and caressing. He remembered how
her blue eyes had shone upon him full of anger, pity,
and innocence. And the more he dwelt on her
perfections, the uglier death looked, and the more
deeply was he smitten with penitence at her continued
tears. Now he felt that no man could have the courage
to leave a world which contained so beautiful a
creature; and now he would have given forty minutes of
his last hour to have unsaid his cruel speech.

Suddenly a hoarse and ragged peal of cockcrow rose to
their ears from the dark valley below the windows. And
this shattering noise in the silence of all around was
like a light in a dark place, and shook them both out
of their reflections.

"Alas, can I do nothing to help you?" she said, looking

"Madam," replied Denis, with a fine irrelevancy, "if I
have said anything to wound you, believe me it was for
your own sake and not for mine."

She thanked him with a tearful look.

"I feel your position cruelly," he went on. "The world
has been bitter hard on you. Your uncle is a disgrace
to mankind. Believe me, madam, there is no young
gentleman in all France but would be glad of my
opportunity, to die in doing you a momentary service.

"I know already that you can be very brave and
generous," she answered. "What I _want_ to know is
whether I can serve you--now or afterwards," she added,
with a quaver.

"Most certainly," he answered, with a smile. "Let me
sit beside you as if I were a friend, instead of a
foolish intruder; try to forget how awkwardly we are
placed to one another; make my last moments go
pleasantly; and you will do me the chief service

"You are very gallant," she added, with a yet deeper
sadness; "very gallant and it somehow pains me. But
draw nearer, if you please; and if you find anything to
say to me, you will at least make certain of a very
friendly listener. Ah! Monsieur de Beaulieu," she broke
forth--"ah! Monsieur de Beaulieu, how can I look you in
the face?" And she fell to weeping again with a renewed

"Madam," said Denis, taking her hand in both of his,
"reflect on the little time I have before me, and the
great bitterness into which I am cast by the sight of
your distress. Spare me, in my last moments, the
spectacle of what I cannot cure even with the sacrifice
of my life."

"I am very selfish," answered Blanche. "I will be
braver, Monsieur de Beaulieu, for your sake. But think
if I can do you no kindness in the future--if you have
no friends to whom I could carry your adieux. Charge me
as heavily as you can: every burden will lighten, by so
little, the invaluable gratitude I owe you. Put it in
my power to do something more for you than weep."

"My mother is married again, and has a young family to
care for. My brother Guichard will inherit my fiefs:
and if I am not in error, that will content him amply
for my death. Life is a little vapour that passeth
away, as we are told by those in holy orders. When a
man is in a fair way and sees all life open in front of
him, he seems to himself to make a very important
figure in the world. His horse whinnies to him; the
trumpets blow and the girls look out of window as he
rides into town before his company; he receives many
assurances of trust and regard--sometimes by express in
a letter--sometimes face to face, with persons of great
consequence falling on his neck. It is not wonderful if
his head is turned for a time. But once he is dead,
were he as brave as Hercules or as wise as Solomon, he
is soon forgotten. It is not ten years since my father
fell, with many other knights around him, in a very
fierce encounter, and I do not think that any one of
them, nor so much as the name of the fight, is now
remembered. No, no, madam, the nearer you come to it,
you see that death is a dark and dusty corner, where a
man gets into his tomb and has the door shut after him
till the judgment-day. I have few friends just now, and
once I am dead I shall have none."

"Ah, Monsieur de Beaulieu!" she exclaimed, "you forget
Blanche de Maletroit."

"You have a sweet nature, madam, and you are pleased to
estimate a little service far beyond its worth."

"It is not that," she answered. "You mistake me if you
think I am so easily touched by my own concerns. I say
so, because you are the noblest man I have ever met;
because I recognise in you a spirit that would have
made even a common person famous in the land."

"And yet here I die in a mouse-trap--with no more noise
about it than my own squeaking," answered he.

A look of pain crossed her face, and she was silent for
a little while. Then a light came into her eyes, and
with a smile she spoke again.

"I cannot have my champion think meanly of himself. Any
one who gives his life for another will be met in
Paradise by all the heralds and angels of the Lord God.
And you have no such cause to hang your head. For----
Pray, do you think me beautiful?" she asked, with a
deep flush.

"Indeed, madam, I do," he said.

"I am glad of that," she answered heartily. "Do you
think there are many men in France who have been asked
in marriage by a beautiful maiden--with her own lips--
and who have refused her to her face? I know you men
would half-despise such a triumph; but believe me, we
women know more of what is precious in love. There is
nothing that should set a person higher in his own
esteem; and we women would prize nothing more dearly."

"You are very good," he said; "but you cannot make me
forget that I was asked in pity and not for love."

"I am not so sure of that," she replied, holding down
her head. "Hear me to an end, Monsieur de Beaulieu.
I know how you must despise me; I feel you are right to
do so; I am too poor a creature to occupy one thought
of your mind, although, alas! you must die for me this
morning. But when I asked you to marry me, indeed, and
indeed, it was because I respected and admired you, and
loved you with my whole soul, from the very moment that
you took my part against my uncle. If you had seen
yourself, and how noble you looked, you would pity
rather than despise me. And now," she went on,
hurriedly checking him with her hand, "although I have
laid aside all reserve, and told you so much, remember
that I know your sentiments towards me already. I would
not, believe me, being nobly born, weary you with
importunities into consent I too have a pride of my
own: and I declare before the holy Mother of God, if
you should now go back from your word already given, I
would no more marry you than I would marry my uncle's

Denis smiled a little bitterly.

"It is a small love," he said, "that shies at a little

She made no answer, although she probably had her own

"Come hither to the window," he said, with a sigh.
"Here is the dawn."

And indeed the dawn was already beginning. The hollow
of the sky was full of essential daylight, colourless
and clean; and the valley underneath was flooded with a
grey reflection. A few thin vapours clung in the coves
of the forest or lay along the winding course of the
river. The scene disengaged a surprising effect of
stillness, which was hardly interrupted when the cocks
began once more to crow among the steadings. Perhaps
the same fellow who had made so horrid a clangour in
the darkness not half an hour before now sent up the
merriest cheer to greet the coming day. A little wind
went bustling and eddying among the tree-tops
underneath the windows. And still the daylight kept
flooding insensibly out of the east, which was soon to
grow incandescent and cast up that red-hot cannon-ball,
the rising sun.

Denis looked out over all this with a bit of a shiver.
He had taken her hand, and retained it in his almost

"Has the day begun already?" she said; and then,
illogically enough: "the night has been so long! Alas!
what shall we say to my uncle when he returns?"

"What you will," said Denis, and he pressed her fingers
in his.

She was silent.

"Blanche," he said, with a swift, uncertain, passionate
utterance, "you have seen whether I fear death. You
must know well enough that I would as gladly leap out
of that window into the empty air as lay a finger on
you without your free and full consent. But if you care
for me at all do not let me lose my life in a
misapprehension; for I love you better than the whole
world; and though I will die for you blithely, it would
be like all the joys of Paradise to live on and spend
my life in your service."

As he stopped speaking, a bell began to ring loudly in
the interior of the house; and a clatter of armour in
the corridor showed that the retainers were returning
to their post, and the two hours were at an end.

"After all that you have heard?" she whispered, leaning
towards him with her lips and eyes.

"I have heard nothing," he replied.

"The captain's name was Florimond de Champdivers," she
said in his ear.

"I did not hear it," he answered, taking her supple
body in his arms, and covered her wet face with kisses.

A melodious chirping was audible behind, followed by a
beautiful chuckle, and the voice of Messire de
Maletroit wished his new nephew a good morning.








Originally published:
"London," November 2 to 23, 1878.

Reprinted in "New Arabian Nights":
Chatto and Windus, London, 1882.





MONSIEUR LEON BERTHELINI had a great care of his
appearance, and sedulously suited his deportment to the
costume of the hour. He affected something Spanish in
his air, and something of the bandit, with a flavour of
Rembrandt at home. In person he was decidedly small,
and inclined to be stout; his face was the picture of
good-humour; his dark eyes, which were very expressive,
told of a kind heart, a brisk, merry nature, and the
most indefatigable spirits. If he had worn the clothes
of the period you would have set him down for a
hitherto undiscovered hybrid between the barber, the
innkeeper, and the affable dispensing chemist. But in
the outrageous bravery of velvet jacket and flapped
hat, with trousers that were more accurately described
as fleshings, a white handkerchief cavalierly knotted
at his neck, a shock of Olympian curls upon his brow,
and his feet shod through all weathers in the
slenderest of Moliere shoes--you had but to look at him
and you knew you were in the presence of a Great
Creature. When he wore an overcoat he scorned to pass
the sleeves; a single button held it round his
shoulders; it was tossed backwards after the manner of
a cloak, and carried with the gait and presence of an
Almaviva. I am of opinion that M. Berthelini was
nearing forty. But he had a boy's heart, gloried in his
finery, and walked through life like a child in a
perpetual dramatic performance. If he were not Almaviva
after all, it was not for lack of making believe. And
he enjoyed the artist's compensation. If he were not
really Almaviva, he was sometimes just as happy as
though he were.

I have seen him, at moments when he has fancied himself
alone with his Maker, adopt so gay and chivalrous a
bearing, and represent his own part with so much warmth
and conscience, that the illusion became catching, and
I believed implicitly in the Great Creature's pose.

But, alas! life cannot be entirely conducted on these
principles; man cannot live by Almavivary alone; and
the Great Creature, having failed upon several
theatres, was obliged to step down every evening from
his heights, and sing from half a dozen to a dozen
comic songs, twang a guitar, keep a country audience in
good humour, and preside finally over the mysteries of
a tombola.

Madame Berthelini, who was art and part with him in
these undignified labours, had perhaps a higher
position in the scale of beings, and enjoyed a natural
dignity of her own. But her heart was not any more
rightly placed, for that would have been impossible;
and she had acquired a little air of melancholy,
attractive enough in its way, but not good to see like
the wholesome, sky-scraping, boyish spirits of her

He, indeed, swam like a kite on a fair wind, high above
earthly troubles. Detonations of temper were not
unfrequent in the zones he travelled; but sulky fogs
and tearful depressions were there alike unknown. A
well-delivered blow upon a table, or a noble attitude,
imitated from Melingue or Frederic, relieved his
irritation like a vengeance. Though the heaven had
fallen, if he had played his part with propriety,
Berthelini had been content! And the man's atmosphere,
if not his example, reacted on his wife; for the couple
doated on each other, and although you would have
thought they walked in different worlds, yet continued
to walk hand in hand.

It chanced one day that Monsieur and Madame Berthelini
descended with two boxes and a guitar in a fat case at
the station of the little town of Castel-le-Gachis, and
the omnibus carried them with their effects to the
Hotel of the Black Head. This was a dismal, conventual
building in a narrow street, capable of standing siege
when once the gates were shut, and smelling strangely
in the interior of straw and chocolate and old feminine
apparel. Berthelini paused upon the threshold with a
painful premonition. In some former state, it seemed to
him, he had visited a hostelry that smelt not
otherwise, and been ill received.

The landlord, a tragic person in a large felt hat, rose
from a business-table under the key-rack, and came
forward, removing his hat with both hands as he did so.

"Sir, I salute you. May I inquire what is your charge
for artists?" inquired Berthelini, with a courtesy at
once splendid and insinuating.

"For artists?" said the landlord. His countenance fell
and the smile of welcome disappeared. "Oh, artists!" he
added brutally; "four francs a day." And he turned his
back upon these inconsiderable customers.

A commercial traveller is received, he also, upon a
reduction--yet is he welcome, yet can he command the
fatted calf; but an artist, had he the manners of an
Almaviva, were he dressed like Solomon in all his
glory, is received like a dog and served like a timid
lady travelling alone.

Accustomed as he was to the rubs of his profession,
Berthelini was unpleasantly affected by the landlord's

"Elvira," said he to his wife, "mark my words: Castel-
le-Gachis is a tragic folly."

"Wait till we see what we take," replied Elvira.

"We shall take nothing," replied Berthelini; "we shall
feed upon insults. I have an eye, Elvira; I have a
spirit of divination; and this place is accursed. The
landlord has been discourteous, the Commissary will be
brutal, the audience will be sordid and uproarious, and
you will take a cold upon your throat. We have been
besotted enough to come; the die is cast--it will be a
second Sedan."

Sedan was a town hateful to the Berthelinis, not only
from patriotism (for they were French, and answered
after the flesh to the somewhat homely name of Duval),
but because it had been the scene of their most sad
reverses. In that place they had lain three weeks in
pawn for their hotel bill, and had it not been for a
surprising stroke of fortune they might have been lying
there in pawn until this day. To mention the name of
Sedan was for the Berthelinis to dip the brush in
earthquake and eclipse. Count Almaviva slouched his hat
with a gesture expressive of despair, and even Elvira
felt as if ill-fortune had been personally invoked.

"Let us ask for breakfast," said she, with a woman's

The Commissary of Police of Castel-le-Gachis was a
large red Commissary, pimpled, and subject to a strong
cutaneous transpiration. I have repeated the name of
his office because he was so very much more a
Commissary than a man. The spirit of his dignity had
entered into him. He carried his corporation as if it
were something official. Whenever he insulted a common
citizen it seemed to him as if he were adroitly
flattering the Government by a side-wind; in default of
dignity he was brutal from an overweening sense of
duty. His office was a den, whence passers-by could
hear rude accents laying down, not the law, but the
good pleasure of the Commissary.

Six several times in the course of the day did M.
Berthelini hurry thither in quest of the requisite
permission for his evening's entertainment; six several
times he found the official was abroad. Leon Berthelini
began to grow quite a familiar figure in the streets of
Castel-le-Gachis; he became a local celebrity, and was
pointed out as "the man who was looking for the
Commissary." Idle children attached themselves to his
footsteps, and trotted after him back and forward
between the hotel and the office Leon might try as he
liked; he might roll cigarettes, he might straddle, he
might cock his hat at a dozen different jaunty
inclinations--the part of Almaviva was, under the
circumstances, difficult to play.

As he passed the market-place upon the seventh
excursion the Commissary was pointed out to him, where
he stood, with his waistcoat unbuttoned and his hands
behind his back, to superintend the sale and
measurement of butter. Berthelini threaded his way
through the market-stalls and baskets, and accosted the
dignitary with a bow which was a triumph of the
histrionic art.

"I have the honour," he asked, "of meeting M. le

The Commissary was affected by the nobility of his
address. He excelled Leon in the depth if not in the
airy grace of his salutation.

"The honour," said he, "is mine!"

"I am," continued the strolling player, "I am, sir, an
artist, and I have permitted myself to interrupt you on
an affair of business. To-night I give a trifling
musical entertainment at the Cafe of the Triumphs of
the Plough--permit me to offer you this little
programme--and I have come to ask you for the necessary

At the word "artist," the Commissary had replaced his
hat with the air of a person who, having condescended
too far, should suddenly remember the duties of his

"Go, go," said he, "I am busy; I am measuring butter."

"Heathen Jew!" thought Leon. "Permit me, sir," he
resumed, aloud. "I have gone six times already----"

"Put up your bills if you choose," interrupted the
Commissary. "In an hour or so I will examine your
papers at the office. But now go; I am busy."

"Measuring butter!" thought Berthelini. "O France, and
it is for this that we made "93!"

The preparations were soon made; the bills posted,
programmes laid on the dinner-table of every hotel in
the town, and a stage erected at one end of the Cafe of
the Triumphs of the Plough; but when Leon returned to
the office the Commissary was once more abroad.

"He is like Madame Benoiton," thought Leon: "Fichu

And just then he met the man face to face.

"Here, sir," said he, "are my papers. Will you be
pleased to verify?"

But the Commissary was now intent upon dinner.

"No use," he replied, "no use; I am busy; I am quite
satisfied. Give your entertainment."

And he hurried on.

"Fichu Commissaire!" thought Leon.





THE audience was pretty large; and the proprietor of
the cafe made a good thing of it in beer. But the
Berthelinis exerted themselves in vain.

Leon was radiant in velveteen; he had a rakish way of
smoking a cigarette between his songs that was worth
money in itself; he underlined his comic points so that
the dullest numskull in Castel-le-Gachis had a notion
when to laugh; and he handled his guitar in a manner
worthy of himself. Indeed, his play with that
instrument was as good as a whole romantic drama; it
was so dashing, so florid, and so cavalier.

Elvira, on the other hand, sang her patriotic and
romantic songs with more than usual expression; her
voice had charm and plangency; and as Leon looked at
her, in her low-bodied maroon dress, with her arms bare
to the shoulder, and a red flower set provocatively in
her corset, he repeated to himself for the many
hundredth time that she was one of the loveliest
creatures in the world of women.

Alas! when she went round with the tambourine, the
golden youth of Castel-le-Gachis turned from her
coldly. Here and there a single halfpenny was
forthcoming; the net result of a collection never
exceeded half a franc; and the Maire himself, after
seven different applications, had contributed exactly
twopence. A certain chill began to settle upon the
artists themselves; it seemed as if they were singing
to slugs; Apollo himself might have lost heart with
such an audience. The Berthelinis struggled against the
impression; they put their back into their work, they
sang loud and louder, the guitar twanged like a living
thing; and at last Leon arose in his might, and burst
with inimitable conviction into his great song, "Y a
des honnetes gens partout!" Never had he given more
proof of his artistic mastery; it was his intimate,
indefeasible conviction that Castel-le-Gachis formed an
exception to the law he was now lyrically proclaiming,
and was peopled exclusively by thieves and bullies; and
yet, as I say, he flung it down like a challenge, he
trolled it forth like an article of faith; and his face
so beamed the while that you would have thought he must
make converts of the benches.

He was at the top of his register, with his head thrown
back and his mouth open, when the door was thrown
violently open, and a pair of new-comers marched
noisily into the cafe. It was the Commissary, followed
by the Garde Champetre.

The undaunted Berthelini still continued to proclaim,
"Y a des honnetes gens partout!" But now the sentiment
produced an audible titter among the audience.
Berthelini wondered why; he did not know the
antecedents of the Garde Champetre; he had never heard
of a little story about postage-stamps. But the public
knew all about the postage-stamps and enjoyed the
coincidence hugely.

The Commissary planted himself upon a vacant chair with
somewhat the air of Cromwell visiting the Rump, and
spoke in occasional whispers to the Garde Champetre,
who remained respectfully standing at his back. The
eyes of both were directed upon Berthelini, who
persisted in his statement.

"Y a des honnetes gens partout," he was just chanting
for the twentieth time; when up got the Commissary upon
his feet and waved brutally to the singer with his

"Is it me you want?" inquired Leon, stopping in his

"It is you," replied the potentate.

"Fichu Commissaire!" thought Leon, and he descended
from the stage and made his way to the functionary.

"How does it happen, sir," said the Commissary,
swelling in person, "that I find you mountebanking in a
public cafe without my permission?"

"Without?" cried the indignant Leon. "Permit me to
remind you----"

"Come, come, sir!" said the Commissary, "I desire no

"I care nothing about what you desire," returned the
singer. "I choose to give them, and I will not be
gagged. I am an artist, sir, a distinction that you
cannot comprehend. I received your permission and stand
here upon the strength of it; interfere with me who

"You have not got my signature, I tell you," cried the
Commissary. "Show me my signature! Where is my

That was just the question; where was his signature?
Leon recognised that he was in a hole; but his spirit
rose with the occasion, and he blustered nobly, tossing
back his curls. The Commissary played up to him in the
character of tyrant; and as the one leaned farther
forward, the other leaned farther back--majesty
confronting fury. The audience had transferred their
attention to this new performance, and listened with
that silent gravity common to all Frenchmen in the
neighbourhood of the Police. Elvira had sat down, she
was used to these distractions, and it was rather
melancholy than fear that now oppressed her.

"Another word," cried the Commissary, "and I arrest

"Arrest me?" shouted Leon. "I defy you!"

"I am the Commissary of Police," said the official.

Leon commanded his feelings, and replied, with great
delicacy of innuendo--

"So it would appear."

The point was too refined for Castel-le-Gachis; it did
not raise a smile; and as for the Commissary, he simply
bade the singer follow him to his office, and directed
his proud footsteps towards the door. There was nothing
for it but to obey. Leon did so with a proper pantomime
of indifference, but it was a leek to eat, and there
was no denying it.

The Maire had slipped out and was already waiting at
the Commissary's door. Now the Maire, in France, is the
refuge of the oppressed. He stands between his people
and the boisterous rigours of the Police. He can
sometimes understand what is said to him; he is not
always puffed up beyond measure by his dignity. 'Tis a
thing worth the knowledge of travellers. When all seems
over, and a man has made up his mind to injustice, he
has still, like the heroes of romance, a little bugle
at his belt whereon to blow; and the Maire, a
comfortable _deus ex machina,_ may still descend to
deliver him from the minions of the law. The Maire of
Castel-le-Gachis, although inaccessible to the charms
of music as retailed by the Berthelinis, had no
hesitation whatever as to the rights of the matter. He
instantly fell foul of the Commissary in very high
terms, and the Commissary, pricked by this humiliation,
accepted battle on the point of fact. The argument
lasted some little while with varying success, until at
length victory inclined so plainly to the Commissary's
side that the Maire was fain to reassert himself by an
exercise of authority. He had been out-argued, but he
was still the Maire. And so, turning from his
interlocutor, he briefly but kindly recommended Leon to
get back _instanter_ to his concert.

"It is already growing late," he added.

Leon did not wait to be told twice. He returned to the
Cafe of the Triumphs of the Plough with all expedition.
Alas! the audience had melted away during his absence;
Elvira was sitting in a very disconsolate attitude on
the guitar-box; she had watched the company dispersing
by twos and threes, and the prolonged spectacle had
somewhat overwhelmed her spirits. Each man, she
reflected, retired with a certain proportion of her
earnings in his pocket, and she saw to-night's board
and to-morrow's railway expenses, and finally even to-
morrow's dinner, walk one after another out of the
cafe-door and disappear into the night.

"What was it?" she asked languidly.

But Leon did not answer. He was looking round him on
the scene of defeat. Scarce a score of listeners
remained, and these of the least promising sort. The
minute-hand of the clock was already climbing upward
towards eleven.

"It's a lost battle," said he, and then taking up the
money-box, he turned it out. "Three francs seventy-
five!" he cried, "as against four of board and six of
railway fares; and no time for the tombola! Elvira,
this is Waterloo." And he sat down and passed both
hands desperately among his curls. "O fichu
Commissaire!" he cried, "fichu Commissaire!"

"Let us get the things together and be off," returned
Elvira. "We might try another song, but there is not
six halfpence in the room."

"Six halfpence?" cried Leon, "six hundred thousand
devils! There is not a human creature in the town--
nothing but pigs and dogs and commissaries! Pray heaven
we get safe to bed."

"Don't imagine things!" exclaimed Elvira, with a

And with that they set to work on their preparations.
The tobacco-jar, the cigarette-holder, the three papers
of shirt-studs, which were to have been the prizes of
the tombola had the tombola come off, were made into a
bundle with the music; the guitar was stowed into the
fat guitar-case; and Elvira having thrown a thin shawl
about her neck and shoulders, the pair issued from the
cafe and set off for the Black Head.

As they crossed the market-place the church bell rang
out eleven. It was a dark, mild night, and there was no
one in the streets.

"It is all very fine," said Leon: "but I have a
presentiment. The night is not yet done."





THE "Black Head" presented not a single chink of light
upon the street, and the carriage gate was closed.

"This is unprecedented," observed Leon. "An inn closed
by five minutes after eleven! And there were several
commercial travellers in the cafe up to a late hour.
Elvira, my heart misgives me. Let us ring the bell."

The bell had a potent note; and being swung under the
arch it filled the house from top to bottom with surly,
clanging reverberations. The sound accentuated the
conventual appearance of the building; a wintry
sentiment, a thought of prayer and mortification, took
hold upon Elvira's mind; and, as for Leon, he seemed to
be reading the stage directions for a lugubrious fifth

"This is your fault," said Elvira; "this is what comes
of fancying things!"

Again Leon pulled the bell-rope; again the solemn
tocsin awoke the echoes of the inn; and ere they had
died away, a light glimmered in the carriage entrance,
and a powerful voice was heard upraised and tremulous
with wrath.

"What's all this?" cried the tragic host through the
spars of the gate. "Hard upon twelve, and you come
clamouring like Prussians at the door of a respectable
hotel? Oh!" he cried, "I know you now! Common singers!
People in trouble with the Police! And you present
yourselves at midnight like lords and ladies? Be off
with you!"

"You will permit me to remind you," replied Leon, in
thrilling tones, "that I am a guest in your house, that
I am properly inscribed, and that I have deposited
baggage to the value of four hundred francs."

"You cannot get in at this hour," returned the man.
"This is no thieves' tavern, for mohocks and night-
rakes and organ-grinders."

"Brute!" cried Elvira, for the organ-grinders touched
her home.

"Then I demand my baggage," said Leon, with unabated

"I know nothing of your baggage," replied the landlord.

"You detain my baggage? You dare to detain my baggage?"
cried the singer.

"Who are you?" returned the landlord. "It is dark--I
cannot recognise you."

"Very well, then--you detain my baggage," concluded
Leon. "You shall smart for this. I will weary out your
life with persecutions; I will drag you from court to
court; if there is justice to be had in France, it
shall be rendered between you and me. And I will make
you a by-word--I will put you in a song--a scurrilous
song--an indecent song--a popular song--which the boys
shall sing to you in the street, and come and howl
through these spars at midnight!"

He had gone on raising his voice at every phrase, for
all the while the landlord was very placidly retiring;
and now, when the last glimmer of light had vanished
from the arch, and the last footstep died away in the
interior, Leon turned to his wife with a heroic

"Elvira," said he, "I have now a duty in life. I shall
destroy that man as Eugene Sue destroyed the concierge.
Let us come at once to the Gendarmerie and begin our

He picked up the guitar-case, which had been propped
against the wall, and they set forth through the silent
and ill-lighted town with burning hearts.

The Gendarmerie was concealed beside the telegraph-
office at the bottom of a vast court, which was partly
laid out in gardens; and here all the shepherds of the
public lay locked in grateful sleep. It took a deal of
knocking to waken one; and he, when he came at last to
the door, could find no other remark but that "it was
none of his business." Leon reasoned with him,
threatened him, besought him; "here," he said, "was
Madame Berthelini in evening dress--a delicate woman--
in an interesting condition"--the last was thrown in, I
fancy, for effect; and to all this the man-at-arms made
the same answer--

"It is none of my business," said he.

"Very well," said Leon, "then we shall go to the
Commissary." Thither they went; the office was closed
and dark; but the house was close by, and Leon was soon
swinging the bell like a madman. The Commissary's wife
appeared at a window. She was a thread-paper creature,
and informed them that the Commissary had not yet come

"Is he at the Maire's?" demanded Leon.

She thought that was not unlikely.

"Where is the Maire's house?" he asked.

And she gave him some rather vague information on that

"Stay you here, Elvira," said Leon, "lest I should miss
him by the way. If, when I return, I find you here no
longer, I shall follow at once to the Black Head."

And he set out to find the Maire's. It took him some
ten minutes' wandering among blind lanes, and when he
arrived it was already half an hour past midnight.
A long white garden wall overhung by some thick
chestnuts, a door with a letter-box, and an iron bell-
pull,--that was all that could be seen of the Maire's
domicile. Leon took the bell-pull in both hands, and
danced furiously upon the side-walk. The bell itself
was just upon the other side of the wall; it responded
to his activity, and scattered an alarming clangour far
and wide into the night.

A window was thrown open in a house across the street,
and a voice inquired the cause of this untimely uproar.

"I wish the Maire," said Leon.

"He has been in bed this hour," returned the voice.

"He must get up again," retorted Leon, and he was for
tackling the bell-pull once more.

"You will never make him hear," responded the voice.
"The garden is of great extent, the house is at the
farther end, and both the Maire and his housekeeper are

"Aha!" said Leon, pausing. "The Maire is deaf, is he?
That explains." And he thought of the evening's concert
with a momentary feeling of relief "Ah!" he continued,
"and so the Maire is deaf, and the garden vast, and the
house at the far end?"

"And you might ring all night," added the voice, "and
be none the better for it. You would only keep me

"Thank you, neighbour," replied the singer. "You shall

And he made off again at his best pace for the
Commissary's. Elvira was still walking to and fro
before the door.

"He has not come?" asked Leon.

"Not he," she replied.

"Good," returned Leon. "I am sure our man's inside. Let
me see the guitar-case. I shall lay this siege in form,
Elvira; I am angry, I am indignant: I am truculently
inclined; but I thank my Maker I have still a sense of
fun. The unjust judge shall be importuned in a
serenade, Elvira. Set him up--and set him up."

He had the case opened by this time, struck a few
chords, and fell into an attitude which was
irresistibly Spanish.

"Now," he continued, "feel your voice. Are you ready?
Follow me!"

The guitar twanged, and the two voices upraised, in
harmony and with a startling loudness, the chorus of a
song of old Beranger's:--

Commissaire! Commissaire!
Colin bat sa menagere."

The stones of Castel-le-Gachis thrilled at this
audacious innovation. Hitherto had the night been
sacred to repose and night-caps; and now what was this?
Window after window was opened; matches scratched, and
candles began to flicker; swollen, sleepy faces peered
forth into the star-light. There were the two figures
before the Commissary's house, each bolt upright, with
head thrown back and eyes interrogating the starry
heavens; the guitar wailed, shouted, and reverberated
like half an orchestra, and the voices, with a crisp
and spirited delivery, hurled the appropriate burden at
the Commissary's window. All the echoes repeated the
functionary's name. It was more like an entr'acte in a
farce of Moliere's than a passage of real life in

The Commissary, if he was not the first, was not the
last of the neighbours to yield to the influence of
music, and furiously threw open the window of his
bedroom. He was beside himself with rage. He leaned far
over the window-sill, raving and gesticulating; the
tassel of his white night-cap danced like a thing of
life: he opened his mouth to dimensions hitherto
unprecedented, and yet his voice, instead of escaping
from it in a roar, came forth shrill and choked and
tottering. A little more serenading, and it was clear
he would be better acquainted with the apoplexy.

I scorn to reproduce his language; he touched upon too
many serious topics by the way for a quiet story-
teller. Although he was known for a man who was prompt
with his tongue, and had a power of strong expression
at command, he excelled himself so remarkably this
night that one maiden lady, who had got out of bed like
the rest to hear the serenade, was obliged to shut her
window at the second clause. Even what she had heard
disquieted her conscience; and next day she said she
scarcely reckoned as a maiden lady any longer.

Leon tried to explain his predicament, but he received
nothing but threats of arrest by way of answer.

"If I come down to you!" cried the Commissary.

"Ay," said Leon, "do!"

"I will not!" cried the Commissary.

"You dare not!" answered Leon.

At that the Commissary closed his window.

"All is over," said the singer. "The serenade was
perhaps ill-judged. These boors have no sense of

"Let us get away from here," said Elvira, with a
shiver. "All these people looking--it is so rude and so
brutal." And then giving way once more to passion--
"Brutes!" she cried aloud to the candle-lit spectators--
"brutes! brutes! brutes!"

"_Sauve qui peut,_" said Leon. "You have done it now!"

And taking the guitar in one hand and the case in the
other, he led the way with something too precipitate to
be merely called precipitation from the scene of this
absurd adventure.





To the west of Castel-le-Gachis four rows of venerable
lime-trees formed, in this starry night, a twilit
avenue with two side aisles of pitch darkness. Here and
there stone benches were disposed between the trunks.
There was not a breath of wind; a heavy atmosphere of
perfume hung about the alleys; and every leaf stood
stock-still upon its twig. Hither, after vainly
knocking at an inn or two, the Berthelinis came at
length to pass the night. After an amiable contention,
Leon insisted on giving his coat to Elvira, and they
sat down together on the first bench in silence. Leon
made a cigarette, which he smoked to an end, looking up
into the trees, and beyond them at the constellations,
of which he tried vainly to recall the names. The
silence was broken by the church bell; it rang the four
quarters on a light and tinkling measure; then followed
a single deep stroke that died slowly away with a
thrill; and stillness resumed its empire.

"One," said Leon. "Four hours till daylight. It is
warm; it is starry; I have matches and tobacco. Do not
let us exaggerate, Elvira--the experience is positively
charming. I feel a glow within me; I am born again.
This is the poetry of life. Think of Cooper's novels,
my dear."

"Leon," she said fiercely, "how can you talk such
wicked, infamous nonsense? To pass all night out of
doors--it is like a nightmare! We shall die!"

"You suffer yourself to be led away," he replied
soothingly. "It is not unpleasant here; only you brood.
Come now, let us repeat a scene. Shall we try Alceste
and Celimene? No? Or a passage from the "Two Orphans"?
Come now, it will occupy your mind; I will play up to
you as I never have played before; I feel art moving in
my bones."

"Hold your tongue," she cried, "or you will drive me
mad! Will nothing solemnise you--not even this hideous

"Oh, hideous!" objected Leon. "Hideous is not the word.
Why, where would you be? _'Dites, la jeune belle, ou
voulez-vous aller?'_" he carolled. "Well, now," he went
on, opening the guitar-case, "there's another idea for
you--sing. Sing _'Dites, la jeune belle'_! It will
compose your spirits, Elvira, I am sure."

And without waiting an answer he began to strum the
symphony. The first chords awoke a young man who was
lying asleep upon a neighbouring bench.

"Hullo!" cried the young man, "who are you?"

"Under which king, Bezonian?" declaimed the artist.
"Speak or die!"

Or if it was not exactly that, it was something to much
the same purpose from a French tragedy.

The young man drew near in the twilight. He was a tall,
powerful, gentlemanly fellow, with a somewhat puffy
face, dressed in a grey tweed suit, with a deer-stalker
hat of the same material; and as he now came forward he
carried a knapsack slung upon one arm.

"Are you camping out here too?" he asked, with a strong
English accent. "I'm not sorry for company."

Leon explained their misadventure; and the other told
them that he was a Cambridge undergraduate on a walking
tour, that he had run short of money, could no longer
pay for his night's lodging, had already been camping
out for two nights, and feared he should require to
continue the same manoeuvre for at least two nights

"Luckily, it's jolly weather," he concluded.

"You hear that, Elvira?" said Leon.--"Madame
Berthelini," he went on, "is ridiculously affected by
this trifling occurrence. For my part, I find it
romantic and far from uncomfortable; or at least," he
added, shifting on the stone bench, "not quite so
uncomfortable as might have been expected. But pray be

"Yes," returned the undergraduate, sitting down, "it's
rather nice than otherwise when once you're used to it;
only it's devilish difficult to get washed. I like the
fresh air and these stars and things."

"Aha!" said Leon, "Monsieur is an artist."

"An artist?" returned the other, with a blank stare.
"Not if I know it!"

"Pardon me," said the actor. "What you said this moment
about the orbs of heaven----"

"Oh, nonsense!" cried the Englishman. "A fellow may
admire the stars and be anything he likes."

"You have an artist's nature, however, Mr.---- I beg
your pardon; may I, without indiscretion, inquire your
name?" asked Leon.

"My name is Stubbs," replied the Englishman.

"I thank you," returned Leon. "Mine is Berthelini--Leon
Berthelini, ex-artist of the theatres of Montrouge,
Belleville, and Montmartre. Humble as you see me, I
have created with applause more than one important
_role._ The Press were unanimous in praise of my
Howling Devil of the Mountains, in the piece of the
same name. Madame, whom I now present to you, is
herself an artist, and I must not omit to state, a
better artist than her husband. She also is a creator;
she created nearly twenty successful songs at one of
the principal Parisian music-halls. But to continue:
I was saying you had an artist's nature, Monsieur Stubbs,
and you must permit me to be a judge in such a
question. I trust you will not falsify your instincts;
let me beseech you to follow the career of an artist."

"Thank you," returned Stubbs, with a chuckle. "I'm
going to be a banker."

"No," said Leon, "do not say so. Not that. A man with
such a nature as yours should not derogate so far. What
are a few privations here and there, so long as you are
working for a high and noble goal?"

"This fellow's mad," thought Stubbs: "but the woman's
rather pretty, and he's not bad fun himself, if you
come to that." What he said was different: "I thought
you said you were an actor?"

"I certainly did so," replied Leon. "I am one, or,
alas! I was."

"And so you want me to be an actor, do you?" continued
the undergraduate. "Why, man, I could never so much as
learn the stuff; my memory's like a sieve; and as for
acting, I've no more idea than a cat."

"The stage is not the only course," said Leon. "Be a
sculptor, be a dancer, be a poet or a novelist; follow
your heart, in short, and do some thorough work before
you die."

"And do you call all these things art?" inquired

"Why, certainly!" returned Leon. "Are they not all

"Oh! I didn't know," replied the Englishman. "I thought
an artist meant a fellow who painted."

The singer stared at him in some surprise.

"It is the difference of language," he said at last.

"This Tower of Babel, when shall we have paid for it?
If I could speak English you would follow me more

"Between you and me, I don't believe I should," replied
the other. "You seem to have thought a devil of a lot
about this business. For my part, I admire the stars,
and like to have them shining--it's so cheery--but hang
me if I had an idea it had anything to do with art!
It's not in my line, you see. I'm not intellectual;
I have no end of trouble to scrape through my exams,
I can tell you! But I'm not a bad sort at bottom," he
added, seeing his interlocutor looked distressed even
in the dim star-shine, "and I rather like the play, and
music, and guitars, and things."

Leon had a perception that the understanding was
incomplete. He changed the subject.

"And so you travel on foot?" he continued. "How
romantic! How courageous! And how are you pleased with
my land? How does the scenery affect you among these
wild hills of ours?"

"Well, the fact is," began Stubbs--he was about to say
that he didn't care for scenery, which was not at all
true, being, on the contrary, only an athletic
undergraduate pretension; but he had begun to suspect
that Berthelini liked a different sort of meat, and
substituted something else: "The fact is, I think it
jolly. They told me it was no good up here; even the
guide-book said so; but I don't know what they meant.
I think it is deuced pretty--upon my word, I do."

At this moment, in the most unexpected manner, Elvira
burst into tears.

"My voice!" she cried. "Leon, if I stay here longer I
shall lose my voice!"

"You shall not stay another moment," cried the actor.
"If I have to beat in a door, if I have to burn the
town, I shall find you shelter."

With that he replaced the guitar, and, comforting her
with some caresses, drew her arm through his.

"Monsieur Stubbs," said he, taking off his hat, "the
reception I offer you is rather problematical; but let
me beseech you to give us the pleasure of your society.
You are a little embarrassed for the moment; you must,
indeed, permit me to advance what may be necessary.
I ask it as a favour; we must not part so soon after
having met so strangely."

"Oh, come, you know," said Stubbs, "I can't let a
fellow like you" And there he paused, feeling somehow
or other on a wrong tack.

"I do not wish to employ menaces," continued Leon, with
a smile; "but if you refuse, indeed I shall not take it

"I don't quite see my way out of it," thought the
undergraduate; and then, after a pause, he said, aloud
and ungraciously enough, "All right. I--I'm very much
obliged, of course." And he proceeded to follow them,
thinking in his heart, "But it's bad form, all the
same, to force an obligation on a fellow."





LEON strode ahead as if he knew exactly where he was
going; the sobs of Madame were still faintly audible,
and no one uttered a word. A dog barked furiously in a
courtyard as they went by; then the church clock struck
two, and many domestic clocks followed or preceded it
in piping tones. And just then Berthelini spied a
light. It burned in a small house on the outskirts of
the town, and thither the party now directed their

"It is always a chance," said Leon.

The house in question stood back from the street behind
an open space, part garden, part turnip-field; and
several outhouses stood forward from either wing at
right angles to the front. One of these had recently
undergone some change. An enormous window, looking
towards the north, had been effected in the wall and
roof, and Leon began to hope it was a studio.

"If it's only a painter," he said, with a chuckle, "ten
to one we get as good a welcome as we want."

"I thought painters were principally poor," said

"Ah!" cried Leon, "you do not know the world as I do.
The poorer the better for us!"

And the trio advanced into the turnip-field.

The light was in the ground floor; as one window was
brightly illuminated and two others more faintly, it
might be supposed that there was a single lamp in one
corner of a large apartment; and a certain
tremulousness and temporary dwindling showed that a
live fire contributed to the effect. The sound of a
voice now became audible; and the trespassers paused to
listen. It was pitched in a high, angry key, but had
still a good, full, and masculine note in it. The
utterance was voluble, too voluble even to be quite
distinct; a stream of words, rising and falling, with
ever and again a phrase thrown out by itself, as if the
speaker reckoned on its virtue.

Suddenly another voice joined in. This time it was a
woman's; and if the man were angry, the woman was
incensed to the degree of fury. There was that
absolutely blank composure known to suffering males;
that colourless unnatural speech which shows a spirit
accurately balanced between homicide and hysterics; the
tone in which the best of women sometimes utter words
worse than death to those most dear to them. If
Abstract Bones-and-Sepulchre were to be endowed with
the gift of speech, thus, and not otherwise, would it
discourse. Leon was a brave man, and I fear he was
somewhat sceptically given (he had been educated in a
Papistical country), but the habit of childhood
prevailed, and he crossed himself devoutly. He had met
several women in his career. It was obvious that his
instinct had not deceived him, for the male voice broke
forth instantly in a towering passion.

The undergraduate, who had not understood the
significance of the woman's contribution, pricked up
his ears at the change upon the man.

"There's going to be a free fight," he opined.

There was another retort from the woman, still calm,
but a little higher.

"Hysterics?" asked Leon of his wife. "Is that the stage

"How should I know?" returned Elvira, somewhat tartly.

"Oh, woman, woman!" said Leon, beginning to open the
guitar-case. "It is one of the burdens of my life,
Monsieur Stubbs; they support each other; they always
pretend there is no system; they say it's nature. Even
Madame Berthelini, who is a dramatic artist!"

"You are heartless, Leon," said Elvira; "that woman is
in trouble."

"And the man, my angel?" inquired Berthelini passing
the ribbon of his guitar. "And the man, _m'amour?_"

"He is a man," she answered.

"You hear that?" said Leon to Stubbs. "It is not too
late for you. Mark the intonation. And now," he
continued, "what are we to give them?"

"Are you going to sing?" asked Stubbs.

"I am a troubadour," replied Leon. "I claim a welcome
by and for my art. If I were a banker, could I do as

"Well, you wouldn't need, you know," answered the

"Egad," said Leon, "but that's true. Elvira, that is

"Of course it is," she replied. "Did you not know it?"

"My dear," answered Leon impressively, "I know nothing
but what is agreeable. Even my knowledge of life is a
work of art superiorly composed. But what are we to
give them? It should be something appropriate."

Visions of "Let dogs delight" passed through the
undergraduate's mind; but it occurred to him that the
poetry was English and that he did not know the air.
Hence he contributed no suggestion.

"Something about our houselessness," said Elvira

"I have it," cried Leon. And he broke forth into a song
of Pierre Dupont's:--

"Savez-vous ou gite
Mai, ce joli mois?"

Elvira joined in; so did Stubbs, with a good ear and
voice, but an imperfect acquaintance with the music.
Leon and the guitar were equal to the situation. The
actor dispensed his throat-notes with prodigality and
enthusiasm; and, as he looked up to heaven in his
heroic way, tossing the black ringlets, it seemed to
him that the very stars contributed a dumb applause to
his efforts, and the universe lent him its silence for
a chorus. That is one of the best features of the
heavenly bodies, that they belong to everybody in
particular; and a man like Leon, a chronic Endymion who
managed to get along without encouragement, is always
the world's centre for himself.

He alone--and it is to be noted, he was the worst
singer of the three--took the music seriously to heart,
and judged the serenade from a high artistic point of
view. Elvira, on the other hand, was preoccupied about
their reception; and as for Stubbs, he considered the
whole affair in the light of a broad joke.

"Know you the lair of May, the lovely month?" went the
three voices in the turnip-field.

The inhabitants were plainly fluttered; the light moved
to and fro, strengthening in one window, paling in
another; and then the door was thrown open, and a man
in a blouse appeared on the thresh-old carrying a lamp.
He was a powerful young fellow, with bewildered hair
and beard, wearing his neck open; his blouse was
stained with oil-colours in a harlequinesque disorder;
and there was something rural in the droop and
bagginess of his belted trousers.

From immediately behind him, and indeed over his
shoulder, a woman's face looked out into the darkness;
it was pale and a little weary, although still young;
it wore a dwindling, disappearing prettiness, soon to
be quite gone, and the expression was both gentle and
sour, and reminded one faintly of the taste of certain
drugs. For all that, it was not a face to dislike; when
the prettiness had vanished, it seemed as if a certain
pale beauty might step in to take its place; and as
both the mildness and the asperity were characters of
youth, it might be hoped that, with years, both would
merge into a constant, brave, and not unkindly temper.

"What is all this?" cried the man.





LEON had his hat in his hand at once. He came forward
with his customary grace; it was a moment which would
have earned him a round of cheering on the stage.
Elvira and Stubbs advanced behind him, like a couple of
Admetus's sheep following the god Apollo.

"Sir," said Leon, "the hour is unpardonably late, and
our little serenade has the air of an impertinence.
Believe me, sir, it is an appeal. Monsieur is an
artist, I perceive. We are here three artists benighted
and without shelter, one a woman--a delicate woman--in
evening dress--in an interesting situation. This will
not fail to touch the woman's heart of Madame, whom I
perceive indistinctly behind Monsieur her husband, and
whose face speaks eloquently of a well-regulated mind.
Ah! Monsieur, Madame--one generous movement, and you
make three people happy! Two or three hours beside your
fire--I ask it of Monsieur in the name of Art--I ask it
of Madame by the sanctity of woman-hood."

The two, as by a tacit consent, drew back from the

"Come in," said the man.

"_Entrez,_ Madame," said the woman.

The door opened directly upon the kitchen of the house,
which was to all appearance the only sitting-room. The
furniture was both plain and scanty; but there were one
or two landscapes on the wall, handsomely framed, as if
they had already visited the committee-rooms of an
exhibition and been thence extruded. Leon walked up to
the pictures and represented the part of a connoisseur
before each in turn, with his usual dramatic insight
and force. The master of the house, as if irresistibly
attracted, followed him from canvas to canvas with the
lamp. Elvira was led directly to the fire, where she
proceeded to warm herself, while Stubbs stood in the
middle of the floor and followed the proceedings of
Leon with mild astonishment in his eyes.

"You should see them by daylight," said the artist.

"I promise myself that pleasure," said Leon. "You
possess, sir, if you will permit me an observation, the
art of composition to a T."

"You are very good," returned the other. "But should
you not draw nearer to the fire?"

"With all my heart," said Leon.

And the whole party was soon gathered at the table over
a hasty and not an elegant cold supper, washed down
with the least of small wines. Nobody liked the meal,
but nobody complained; they put a good face upon it,
one and all, and made a great clattering of knives and
forks. To see Leon eating a single cold sausage was to
see a triumph; by the time he had done he had gone
through as much pantomime as would have sufficed for a
baron of beef, and he had the relaxed expression of the

As Elvira had naturally taken a place by the side of
Leon, and Stubbs as naturally, although I believe
unconsciously, by the side of Elvira, the host and
hostess were left together. Yet it was to be noted that
they never addressed a word to each other, nor so much
as suffered their eyes to meet. The interrupted
skirmish still survived in ill-feeling; and the instant
the guests departed it would break forth again as
bitterly as ever. The talk wandered from this to that
subject--for with one accord the party had declared it
was too late to go to bed; but those two never relaxed
towards each other; Goneril and Regan in a sisterly
tiff were not more bent on enmity.

It chanced that Elvira was so much tired by all the
little excitements of the night, that for once she laid
aside her company manners, which were both easy and
correct, and in the most natural manner in the world
leaned her head on Leon's shoulder. At the same time,
fatigue suggesting tenderness, she locked the fingers
of her right hand into those of her husband's left;
and, half-closing her eyes, dozed off into a golden
borderland between sleep and waking. But all the time
she was not unaware of what was passing, and saw the
painter's wife studying her with looks between contempt
and envy.

It occurred to Leon that his constitution demanded the
use of some tobacco; and he undid his fingers from
Elvira's in order to roll a cigarette. It was gently
done, and he took care that his indulgence should in no
other way disturb his wife's position. But it seemed to
catch the eye of the painter's wife with a special
significancy. She looked straight before her for an
instant, and then, with a swift and stealthy movement,
took hold of her husband's hand below the table. Alas!
she might have spared herself the dexterity. For the
poor fellow was so overcome by this caress that he
stopped with his mouth open in the middle of a word,
and by the expression of his face plainly declared to
all the company that his thoughts had been diverted
into softer channels.

If it had not been rather amiable, it would have been
absurdly droll. His wife at once withdrew her touch;
but it was plain she had to exert some force. Thereupon
the young man coloured and looked for a moment

Leon and Elvira both observed the by-play, and a shock
passed from one to the other; for they were inveterate
match-makers, especially between those who were already

"I beg your pardon," said Leon suddenly. "I see no use
in pretending. Before we came in here we heard sounds
indicating--if I may so express myself--an imperfect

"Sir----" began the man.

But the woman was beforehand.

"It is quite true," she said. "I see no cause to be
ashamed. If my husband is mad I shall at least do my
utmost to prevent the consequences. Picture to
yourself, Monsieur and Madame," she went on, for she
passed Stubbs over, "that this wretched person--a
dauber, an incompetent, not fit to be a sign-painter--
receives this morning an admirable offer from an uncle--
an uncle of my own, my mother's brother, and tenderly
beloved--of a clerkship with nearly a hundred and fifty
pounds a year, and that he--picture to yourself!--he
refuses it! Why? For the sake of Art, he says. Look at
his art, I say--look at it! Is it fit to be seen? Ask
him--is it fit to be sold? And it is for this, Monsieur
and Madame, that he condemns me to the most deplorable
existence, without luxuries, without comforts, in a
vile suburb of a country town. _O non!_" she cried,
"_non--je ne me tairai pas--c'est plus fort que moi!_
I take these gentlemen and this lady for judges--is this
kind? is it decent? is it manly? Do I not deserve
better at his hands after having married him and"--(a
visible hitch)--"done everything in the world to please

I doubt if there were ever a more embarrassed company
at a table; every one looked like a fool; and the
husband like the biggest.

"The art of Monsieur, however," said Elvira, breaking
the silence, "is not wanting in distinction."

"It has this distinction," said the wife, "that nobody
will buy it."

"I should have supposed a clerkship----" began Stubbs.

"Art is Art," swept in Leon. "I salute Art. It is the
beautiful, the divine; it is the spirit of the world
and the pride of life. But----" And the actor paused.

"A clerkship " began Stubbs.

"I'll tell you what it is," said the painter. "I am an
artist, and as this gentleman says, Art is this and the
other; but of course, if my wife is going to make my
life a piece of perdition all day long, I prefer to go
and drown myself out of hand."

"Go!" said his wife. "I should like to see you!"

"I was going to say," resumed Stubbs, "that a fellow
may be a clerk and paint almost as much as he likes.
I know a fellow in a bank who makes capital water-colour
sketches; he even sold one for seven-and-six."

To both the women this seemed a plank of safety; each
hopefully interrogated the countenance of her lord;
even Elvira, an artist herself!--but indeed there must
be something permanently mercantile in the female
nature. The two men exchanged a glance; it was tragic;
not otherwise might two philosophers salute, as at the
end of a laborious life each recognised that he was
still a mystery to his disciples.

Leon arose.

"Art is Art," he repeated sadly. "It is not water-
colour sketches, nor practising on a piano. It is a
life to be lived."

"And in the meantime people starve!" observed the woman
of the house. "If that's a life, it is not one for me."

"I'll tell you what," burst forth Leon; "you, Madame,
go into another room and talk it over with my wife; and
I'll stay here and talk it over with your husband. It
may come to nothing, but let's try."

"I am very willing," replied the young woman; and she
proceeded to light a candle. "This way, if you please."
And she led Elvira upstairs into a bed-room. "The fact
is," said she, sitting down, "that my husband cannot

"No more can mine act," replied Elvira.

"I should have thought he could," returned the other;
"he seems clever."

"He is so, and the best of men besides," said Elvira;
"but he cannot act."

"At least he is not a sheer humbug like mine; he can at
least sing."

"You mistake Leon." returned his wife warmly. "He does
not even pretend to sing; he has too fine a taste; he
does so for a living. And, believe me, neither of the
men are humbugs. They are people with a mission--which
they cannot carry out."

"Humbug or not," replied the other, "you came very near
passing the night in the fields; and, for my part, I
live in terror of starvation. I should think it was a
man's mission to think twice about his wife. But it
appears not. Nothing is their mission but to play the
fool. Oh!" she broke out, "is it not something dreary
to think of that man of mine? If he could only do it,
who would care? But no--not he--no more than I can!"

"Have you any children?" asked Elvira.

"No; but then I may."

"Children change so much," said Elvira, with a sigh.

And just then from the room below there flew up a
sudden snapping chord on the guitar; one followed after
another; then the voice of Leon joined in; and there
was an air being played and sung that stopped the
speech of the two women. The wife of the painter stood
like a person transfixed; Elvira, looking into her
eyes, could see all manner of beautiful memories and
kind thoughts that were passing in and out of her soul
with every note; it was a piece of her youth that went
before her; a green French plain, the smell of apple-
flowers, the far and shining ringlets of a river, and
the words and presence of love.

"Leon has hit the nail," thought Elvira to herself
"I wonder how."

The how was plain enough. Leon had asked the painter if
there were no air connected with courtship and pleasant
times; and having learned what he wished, and allowed
an interval to pass, he had soared forth into


"O mon amante,
O mon desir,
Sachons cueillir
L'heure charmante!"


"Pardon me, Madame," said the painter's wife, "your
husband sings admirably well."

"He sings that with some feeling," replied Elvira
critically, although she was a little moved herself,
for the song cut both ways in the upper chamber; "but
it is as an actor and not as a musician."

"Life is very sad," said the other; "it so wastes away
under one's fingers."

"I have not found it so," replied Elvira. "I think the
good parts of it last and grow greater every day."

"Frankly, how would you advise me?"

"Frankly, I would let my husband do what he wished. He
is obviously a very loving painter; you have not yet
tried him as a clerk. And you know--if it were only as
the possible father of your children--it is as well to
keep him at his best."

"He is an excellent fellow," said the wife.

They kept it up till sunrise with music and all manner
of good-fellowship; and at sunrise, while the sky was
still temperate and clear, they separated on the
threshold with a thousand excellent wishes for each
other's welfare. Castel-le-Gachis was beginning to send
up its smoke against the golden east; and the church
bell was ringing six.

"My guitar is a familiar spirit," said Leon, as he and
Elvira took the nearest way towards the inn; "it
resuscitated a Commissary, created an English tourist,
and reconciled a man and wife."

Stubbs, on his part, went off into the morning with
reflections of his own.

"They are all mad," thought he, "all mad--but
wonderfully decent"


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