Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The World's Greatest Books, Vol VI: Fiction by Arthur Mee, J. A. Hammerton, Eds.

THE WORLD'S

GREATEST

BOOKS

JOINT EDITORS

ARTHUR MEE

Editor and Founder of the Book of Knowledge

J.A. HAMMERTON

Editor of Harmsworth's Universal Encyclopaedia

VOL. VI

FICTION

Copyright, MCMX


Table of Contents

LE FANU, SHERIDAN
    Uncle Silas

LESAGE, RENÉ
    Gil Blas

LEVER, CHARLES
    Charles O'Malley
    Tom Burke of Ours

LEWIS, M.G.
    Ambrosio, or the Monk

LINTON, MRS. LYNN
    Joshua Davidson

LOVER, SAMUEL
    Handy Andy

LYTTON, EDWARD BULWER
    Eugene Aram
    Last Days of Pompeii
    The Last of the Barons

MACKENZIE, HENRY
    Man of Feeling

MAISTRE, COUNT XAVIER DE
    A Journey Round my Room

MALORY, SIR THOMAS
    Morte d'Arthur

MANNING, ANNE
    Household of Sir Thomas More

MANZONI, ALESSANDRO
    The Betrothed

MARRYAT, CAPT
    Mr. Midshipman Easy
    Peter Simple

MATURIN, CHARLES
    Melmoth the Wanderer

MENDOZA, DIEGO DE
    Lazarillo de Tonnes

MEREJOWSKI, DMITRI
    Death of the Gods

MÉRIMÉE, PROSPER
    Carmen

MITFORD, MARY RUSSELL
    Our Village

MOIR, DAVID
    Mansie Wauch

MORIER, JAMES
    Hajji Baba

MURRAY, DAVID CHRISTIE
    Way of the World

NORRIS, FRANK
    The Pit

OHNET, GEORGES
    The Ironmaster

OUIDA
    Under Two Flags

PAYN, JAMES
    Lost Sir Massingberd

A Complete Index of THE WORLD'S GREATEST BOOKS will be found at the end of Volume XX.


Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment and thanks for permission to use the following selections are herewith tendered to G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York, for "The Death of the Gods," by Dmitri Merejkowski; and to Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, for "The Pit," by Frank Norris.


SHERIDAN LE FANU

Uncle Silas

Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, Irish novelist, poet, and journalist, was born at Dublin on August 28, 1814. His grandmother was a sister of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, his father a dean. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Le Fanu became a contributor to the "Dublin University Magazine," afterwards its editor, and finally its proprietor. He also owned and edited a Dublin evening paper. Le Fanu first came into prominence in 1837 as the author of the two brilliant Irish ballads, "Phaudhrig Croohore" and "Shamus O'Brien." His novels, which number more than a dozen, were first published in most cases in his magazine. His power of producing a feeling of weird mystery ranks him with Edgar Allan Poe. It may be questioned whether any Irish novelist has written with more power. The most representative of his stories is "Uncle Silas, a Tale of Bartram-Haugh," which appeared in 1864. Le Fanu died on February 7, 1873.

I.--Death, the Intruder

It was winter, and great gusts were rattling at the windows; a very dark night, and a very cheerful fire, blazing in a genuine old fire-place in a sombre old room. A girl of a little more than seventeen, slight and rather tall, with a countenance rather sensitive and melancholy, was sitting at the tea-table in a reverie. I was that girl.

The only other person in the room was my father, Mr. Ruthyn, of Knowl. Rather late in life he had married, and his beautiful young wife had died, leaving me to his care. This bereavement changed him--made him more odd and taciturn than ever. There was also some disgrace about his younger brother, my Uncle Silas, which he felt bitterly, and he had given himself up to the secluded life of a student.

He was pacing the floor. I remember the start with which, not suspecting he was close by me, I lifted my eyes, and saw him stand looking fixedly on me from less than a yard away.

"She won't understand," he whispered, "no, she won't. Will she? They are easily frightened--ay, they are. I'd better do it another way, and she'll not suspect--she'll not suppose. See, child?" he said, after a second or two. "Remember this key."

It was oddly shaped, and unlike others.

"It opens that." And he tapped sharply on the door of a cabinet. "You will tell nobody what I have said, under pain of my displeasure."

"Oh, no, sir!"

"Good child! Except under one contingency. That is, in case I should be absent and Dr. Bryerly--you recollect the thin gentleman in spectacles and a black wig, who spent three days here last month?--should come and enquire for the key, you understand, in my absence."

"But you will then be absent, sir," I said. "How am I to find the key?"

"True, child. I am glad you are so wise. That, you will find, I have provided for. I have a very sure friend--a friend whom I once misunderstood, but now appreciate."

I wondered silently whether it would be Uncle Silas.

"He'll make me a call some day soon, and I must make a little journey with him. He's not to be denied; I have no choice. But on the whole I rather like it. Remember, I say, I rather like it."

I think it was about a fortnight after this conversation that I was one night sitting in the great drawing-room window, when on a sudden, on the grass before me stood an odd figure--a very tall woman in grey draperies, courtesying rather fantastically, smiling very unpleasantly on me, and gabbling and cackling shrilly--I could not distinctly hear what--and gesticulating oddly with her long arms and hands. This was Madame de la Rougierre, my new governess.

I think all the servants hated her. She was by no means a pleasant gouvernante for a nervous girl of my years. She was always making excuses to consult my father about my contumacy and temper. She tormented me by ghost stories to cover her nocturnal ramblings, and she betrayed a terrifying curiosity about his health and his will. My cousin Monica, Lady Knollys, who visited us about this time, was shocked at her presence in the house; it was the cause of a rupture between my father and her. But not even a frustrated attempt to abduct me during one of our walks--which I am sure madame connived at--could shake my father's confidence in her, though he was perfectly transported with fury on hearing what had happened. It was not until I found her examining his cabinet by means of a false key that he dismissed her; but madame had contrived to leave her glamour over me, and now and then the memory of her parting menaces would return with an unexpected pang of fear.

My father never alluded again to Madame de la Rougierre, but, whether connected with her exposure and dismissal or not, there appeared to be some new trouble at work in his mind.

"I am anxious about you, Maud," he said. "You are more interested than I can be in vindicating his character."

"Whose character, sir?" I ventured to inquire during the pause that followed.

"Whose? Your Uncle Silas's. In course of nature he must survive me. He will then represent the family name. Would you make some sacrifice to clear that name, Maud?"

I answered briefly; but my face, I believe, showed my enthusiasm.

"I can tell you, Maud, if my life could have done it, it should not have been undone. But I had almost made up my mind to leave all to time to illuminate, or consume. But I think little Maud would like to contribute to the restitution of her family name. It may cost you something. Are you willing to buy it at a sacrifice? Your Uncle Silas," he said, speaking suddenly in loud and fierce tones that sounded almost terrible, "lies under an intolerable slander. He troubles himself little about it; he is selfishly sunk in futurity--a feeble visionary. I am not so. The character and influence of an ancient family are a peculiar heritage--sacred, but destructible. You and I, we'll leave one proof on record which, fairly read, will go far to convince the world."

That night my father bade me good-night early. I had fallen into a doze when I was roused by a dreadful crash and a piercing scream from Mrs. Rusk. Scream followed scream, pealing one after the other unabated, wilder and more terror-stricken. Then came a strange lull, and the dull sounds of some heavy body being moved.

What was that dreadful sound? Who had entered my father's chamber? It was the visitor whom he had so long expected, with whom he was to make the unknown journey, leaving me alone. The intruder was Death!

II.--The Sorceries of Bartram-Haugh

One of those fearful aneurisms that lie close to the heart had given way in a moment. He had fallen, with the dreadful crash I had heard, dead upon the floor. He fell across the door, which caused a difficulty in opening it. Mrs. Rusk could not force it open. No wonder she had given way to terror. I think I should have lost my reason.

I do not know how those awful days, and still more awful nights, passed over. Lady Knollys came, and was very kind. She was odd, but her eccentricity was leavened with strong commonsense; and I have often thought since with gratitude of the tact with which she managed my grief.

I did not know where to write to Dr. Bryerly, to whom I had promised the key, but in accordance with my father's written directions, his death was forthwith published in the principal London papers. He came at midnight, accordingly, and on the morrow the will was read. Except for a legacy of £10,000 to his only brother, Silas Ruthyn, and a few minor legacies to relations and servants, my father had left his whole estate to me, appointing my Uncle Silas my sole guardian, with full parental authority over me until I should have reached the age of twenty-one, up to which time I was to reside under his care at Bartram-Haugh, with the sum of £2,000 paid yearly to him for my suitable maintenance and education.

I was startled by the expression of cousin Monica's face. She looked ghastly and angry.

"To whom," she asked, with an effort, "will the property belong in case--in case my cousin should die before she comes of age?"

"To the next heir, her uncle, Mr. Silas Ruthyn. He's both heir-at-law and next-of-kin," replied the attorney.

She was anxious to persuade my uncle to relinquish his guardianship to her; but the evening of the funeral a black-bordered letter came from him, bidding me remain at Knowl until he could arrange for my journey to him. There was a postscript, which made my cheek tingle.

"Pray present my respects to Lady Knollys, who, I understand, is sojourning at Knowl. I would observe that a lady who cherishes, I have reason to fear, unfriendly feelings against your uncle is not the most desirable companion for his ward. But, upon the express condition that I am not made the subject of your discussions, I do not interpose to bring your intercourse to an immediate close."

"Did I ever hear! Well, if this isn't impertinent!" exclaimed Lady Knollys. "I did not intend to talk about him, but now I will." And so it was that I heard the story of that enigmatical person--martyr, angel, demon--Uncle Silas, with whom my fate was now so strangely linked.

It was twenty years ago. He was not a reformed rake, but a ruined one then. My father had helped him again and again, until his marriage with a barmaid. After that he allowed him five hundred a year, and the use of his estate of Bartram-Haugh. Then Mr. Charke, a gentleman of the turf, who was staying with my uncle for Doncaster Races, was found dead in his room--he had committed suicide by cutting his throat. And Uncle Silas was suspected of having killed him.

This wretched Mr. Charke had won heavy wagers at the races from Uncle Silas, and at night they had played very deep at cards. Next morning his servant could not enter his room; it was locked on the inside, the window was fastened by a screw, and the chimney was barred with iron. It seemed that he had hermetically sealed himself in, and then killed himself. But he had been in boisterous spirits. Also, though his own razor was found near his right hand, the fingers of his left hand were cut to the bone. Then the memorandum-book in which his bets were noted was nowhere to be found. Besides, he had written two letters to a friend, saying how profitable he had found his visit to Bartram-Haugh, and that he held Uncle Silas's I O U's for a frightful sum; and although my uncle stoutly alleged he did not owe him a guinea, there had scarcely been time in one evening for him to win back so much money. In a moment the storm was up, and although my uncle met it bravely, he failed to overcome it, and became a social outcast, in spite of all my father's efforts.

And now I was to rehabilitate him before the world, and accordingly all preparations were made for my departure from Knowl; and at last the morning came--a day of partings, a day of novelty, and regrets.

I remember we passed a gypsy bivouac on our journey, with fires alight, on the edge of a great, heathy moor. I had my fortune told, and I am ashamed to confess I paid the gypsy a pound for a brass pin with a round bead for a head--a charmed pin, which would keep away rat, and cat, and snake, a malevolent spirit, or "a cove to cut my throat," from hurting me. The purchase was partly an indication of the trepidations of that period of my life. At all events, I had her pin and she my pound, and I venture to say I was the gladder of the two.

It was moonlight when we reached Bartram-Haugh. It had a forlorn character of desertion and decay, contrasting almost awfully with the grandeur of its proportions and richness of its architecture. A shabby little old man, a young plump, but very pretty female figure in unusually short petticoats, and a dowdy old charwoman, all stood in the door among a riot of dogs. I sat shyly back, peeping at the picture before me.

"Will you tell me--yes or no--is my cousin in the coach?" screamed the young lady. She received me with a hug and a hearty "buss," as she called that salutation, and was evidently glad to see me. Then, after leading me to my bed-room to make a hurried toilet, she conducted me to a handsome wainscotted room, where my Uncle Silas awaited me.

A singular looking old man--a face like marble, with a fearful monumental look--an apparition, drawn, as it seemed, in black and white, venerable, bloodless, fiery-eyed, with its strange look of power and an expression so bewildering. Was it derision, or anguish, or cruelty, or patience?

He said something in his clear, gentle, but cold voice, and, taking both my hands, led me affectionately to a chair near his own. He was a miserable invalid, he told me, after speaking a little eulogy of his brother and examining me closely, respecting his illness and its symptoms. At last, remarking that I must be fatigued, he rose and kissed me with a solemn tenderness, and, placing his hand on a large Bible, bade me "Remember that book; in it lives my only hope. Consult it, my beloved niece, day and night as the only oracle."

"I'm awful afraid of the governor, I am," said Cousin Milly, when we had left him. "I was in a qualm. When he spies me a-napping maybe he don't fetch me a prod with his pencil-case over the head."

But Milly was a pretty and a clever creature in spite of her uncouth dialect, and I liked her very much. We spent much time taking long country rambles and exploring the old house, many of whose rooms were closed and shuttered. Of my uncle we saw little. He was "queerish," Milly said, and I learnt afterwards he took much laudanum.

My other cousin, Dudley, I did not meet till later. To my horror, I beheld in him one of the party of ruffians who had terrified me so much the day of the attempted abduction at Knowl; but he stoutly denied ever having been there with an air so confident that I began to think I must be the dupe of a chance resemblance. My uncle viewed him with a strange, paternal affection. But dear Cousin Monica had written asking Milly and me to go to her, and we had some of the pleasantest and happiest days of our lives at her house of Elverston, for there Milly met her good little curate, the Rev. Sprigge Biddlepen, and Lord Ilbury.

Uncle Silas was terribly ill when we returned to Bartram-Haugh, the result of an overdose of opium; but for the doctor's aid he would have died. Remembering how desperate Lady Knollys had told me his monetary position was, a new and dreadful suspicion began to haunt me.

"Had he attempted to poison himself?"

I remember I was left alone with him while his attendant fetched a fresh candle. A small thick Bible lay on the mantle-shelf. I turned over its leaves, and lighted on two or three odd-looking papers--promissory notes, I believe--when Uncle Silas, dressed in a long white morning-gown, slid over the end of the bed and stood behind me with a deathlike scowl and simper. Diving over my shoulder, with his long, thin hand he snatched the Bible from me, and whispered over my head, "The serpent beguiled her, and she did eat."

It seemed an hour before Wyat came back. You may be sure I did not prolong my watch. I had a long, hysterical fit of weeping when I got to my room: the sorceries of Bartram-Haugh were enveloping.

About this time Dudley began to persecute me with his odious attentions. I was obliged to complain of him to my uncle. He was disposed to think well of the match; but I could not consent, and it was arranged that my cousin should go abroad. And then that night I had the key to some of the mysterious doings at Bartram-Haugh--the comings and goings in the darkness which had so often startled me--the face of Madame de la Rougierre peeped into the room.

III.--A Night of Terror

Shortly afterwards I lost Milly, who was sent to a French school, where I was to follow her in three months. I bade her farewell at the end of Windmill Wood, and was sitting on the trunk of a tree when Meg Hawkes, a girl to whom I had once been kind, passed by.

"Don't ye speak, nor look; fayther spies us," she said quickly. "Don't ye be alone wi' Master Dudley nowhere, for the world's sake!"

The injunction was so startling that I had many an hour of anxious conjecture, and many a horrible vigil by night. But ten days later I was summoned to my uncle's room. He implored me once more to wed Dudley--to listen to the appeal of an old and broken-hearted man.

"You see my suspense--my miserable and frightful suspense," he said. "I'm very miserable, nearly desperate. I stand before you in the attitude of a suppliant."

"Oh, I must--I must--I must say no!" I cried. "Don't question me, don't press me. I could not--I could not do what you ask!"

"I yield, Maud--I yield, my dear. I will not press you. I have spoken to you frankly, perhaps too frankly; but agony and despair will speak out and plead, even with the most obdurate and cruel!"

He shut the door, not violently, but with a resolute hand, and I thought I heard a cry.

The discovery that Dudley was already married spared me further importunity. I was anxious to relieve my uncle's necessities, which, I knew were pressing; and the attorney from Feltram was up with him all night, trying in vain to devise some means by which I might do so. The morning after, I was told I must write to Lady Knollys to ask if I might go to her, as there was shortly to be an execution in the house.

I met Dudley on my way through the hall. He spoke oddly about his father, and made a very strange proposal to me--that I should give him my written promise for twenty thousand pounds, and he would "take me cleverly out o' Bartram-Haugh and put me wi' my cousin Knollys!"

I refused indignantly, but he caught me by the wrist.

"Don't ye be a-flyin' out," he said peremptorily. "Take it or leave it--on or off! Can't ye speak wi' common sense for once? I'll take ye out o' all this, if you'll gi'e me what I say."

He looked black when I refused again. I judged it best to tell my uncle of his offer. He was startled, but made what excuse he could, smiling askance, a pale, peaked smile that haunted me. And then, once more, entering an unfrequented room, I came upon the great bony figure of Madame de la Rougierre. She was to be my companion for a week or two, I was told, and shortly after her coming I found my walks curtailed. I wrote again to my Cousin Knollys, imploring her to take me away. This letter my uncle intercepted, and when she came in reply to my former letter, I had but the sight of her carriage driving swiftly away.

The morning after I was informed madame was to take me to join Milly in France. As Uncle Silas had directed, I wrote to Cousin Monica from London. I know madame asked me what I would do for her if she took me to Lady Knollys. I was inwardly startled, but refused, seeing before me only a tempter and betrayer; and together we ended our journey, driving from the station through the dark and starless night to find ourselves at last in Mr. Charke's room at Bartram-Haugh.

There were bailiffs in the house, I was told. I was locked in. I entreated madame wildly, piteously, to save me; but she mocked me in my agony. I escaped for a brief moment, and sought my uncle. I can never forget the look he fixed on me.

"What is the meaning of this? Why is she here?" he asked, in a stern, icy tone. "You were always odd, niece. I begin to believe you are insane. There's no evil intended you, by--, there is none! Go to your room, and don't vex me, there's a good girl!"

I went upstairs with madame, like a somnambulist. She was to leave me to sleep alone that night. I had lost the talismanic pin I always stuck in the bolster of my bed. Uncle Silas sent up spiced claret in a little silver flagon. Madame abstractedly drank it off, and threw herself on my bed. I believed she was feigning sleep only, and really watching me; but now I think the claret was drugged.

About an hour afterwards I heard them digging in the courtyard. Like a thunder-bolt it smote my brain. "They are making my grave!"

After the first dreadful stun, I grew wild, running up and down wringing my hands, and gasping prayers to heaven. Then a dreadful calm stole over me.

IV.--The Open Door

It was a very still night. A peculiar sound startled me and I saw a man descend by a rope, and take his stand on the windowsill. In a moment more, window, bars and all, swung noiselessly open, and Dudley Ruthyn stepped into the room.

He stole, in a groping way, to the bed, and stooped over it. Nearly at the same moment there came a scrunching blow; an unnatural shriek, accompanied by a convulsive sound, as of the motion of running, and the arms drumming on the bed, and then another blow--and silence. The diabolical surgery was over. There came a little tapping at the door.

"Who's that?" whispered Dudley hoarsely.

"A friend," answered a sweet voice, and Uncle Silas entered.

Coolness was given me in that dreadful moment. I knew that all depended on my being prompt and resolute. With a mental prayer for help, I glided from the room and descended the stairs. I tried the outer door. To my wild surprise it was open. In a moment I was in the free air--and as instantaneously was seized by Tom Brice, Meg's sweetheart, who was waiting to drive the guilty father and son away.

"They shan't hurt ye, miss. Get ye in; I don't care a d----!" he said in a wild, fierce whisper. To me it was the voice of an angel. He drove over the grass so that our passage was noiseless; then, on reaching the highway, at a gallop. At length we entered Elverston. I think I was half wild. I could not speak, but ran, with a loud, long scream, into Cousin Monica's arms. I forget a great deal after that.


It was not till two years afterwards that I learnt that Uncle Silas was found next morning dead of an overdose of laudanum, and that Dudley had disappeared.

Milly married her good little clergyman. I am Lady Ilbury now, happy in the affection of a beloved and noble-hearted husband. A tiny voice is calling "Mamma;" the shy, useless girl you have known is now a mother, thinking, and trembling while she smiles, how strong is love, how frail is life.


RENÉ LE SAGE

Gil Blas

Except that he was born at Sarzeau, in Brittany, on May 8, 1668, and that he was the son of the novelist Claude le Sage, little is known of the youth of Alain René le Sage. Until he was eighteen he was educated with the Jesuits at Vannes, when, it is conjectured he went to Paris to continue his studies for the Bar. An early marriage drove him to seek a livelihood by means of literature, and shortly afterwards he found a valuable and sympathetic friend and patron in the Abbé de Lyonne, who not only bestowed upon him a pension of about £125, but also gave him the use of his library. The first results of this favour were adaptations of two plays from Rojas and Lope de Vega, which appeared some time during the first two or three years of the eighteenth century. Le Sage's reputation as a playwright and as a novelist rests, oddly enough, in each case on one work. As the author of "Tuscaret," produced in 1709, he contributed to the stage one of the best comedies in the French language; as author of "The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillana" he stands for all time in the front rank of the world's novelists. Here he brought the art of story-writing to the highest level of artistic truth. The first and second parts of the work appeared in 1715, the third in 1724, and the fourth in 1735. Le Sage died at Boulogne on November 17, 1747.

I.--I Start on my Travels

My uncle, Canon Perez, was a worthy priest. To live well was, in his opinion, the chief duty of man. He lived very well. He kept the best table in the town of Oviedo. I was very glad of this, as I lived with him, my parents being too poor to keep me.

My uncle gave me an excellent education. He even learned to read so as to be able to teach me himself. There were few ecclesiastics of his rank in Spain in the early part of the seventeenth century who could read a breviary as well as he could when I left him, at the age of seventeen, to continue my duties at the University of Salamanca.

"Here are forty ducats, Gil Blas," he said to me when we parted. "And you can take my old mule and sell it when you reach Salamanca. Then you will be able to live comfortable until you obtain a good position."

It is, I suppose, about two hundred miles from Oviedo to Salamanca. Not very far, you will say, but it took me two years to cover the distance. When one travels along a high road at the age of seventeen, master of one's actions, of an old mule, and forty ducats, one is bound to meet with adventures on the way. I was out to see the world, and I meant to see it; my self-confidence was equalled only by my utter inexperience. Out of my first misadventure came an extraordinary piece of good luck. I fell into the hands of some brigands, and lost my mule and my money. Among my fellow prisoners was a wealthy lady, Doña Mencia, of Burgos. I helped her to escape and got away myself, and when I came to Burgos she rewarded me very handsomely with a diamond ring and a thousand ducats. This changed my plan of life completely. Why should I go and study at Salamanca? Did I want to become a priest or a pedant? I was now sure that I didn't.

"Gil Blas," I said, "you are a good-looking lad, clever, well-educated, and ambitious. Why not go to Madrid and try to get some place at the court of King Philip the Third?"

I spent sixty ducats in dressing myself out gaily in the manner of a rich cavalier, and I engaged a man of about thirty years of age to come with me as my servant.

Lamela, as he was called, was quite different from the other valets who applied for the position. He did not demand any sum as wages.

"Only let me come with you, sir," he said. "I shall be content with whatever you give me."

It seemed to me that I had got a very good servant. We slept at Duengas the first night, and on the second day we arrived at Valladolid. As I was sitting in my inn, a charming lady entered and asked to see me.

"My dear Gil Blas," she exclaimed. "Lamela has just told me of your arrival. I am a cousin of Doña Mencia, and I received a letter from her this morning. How brave it was of you to rescue her from those wicked brigands! I can't leave you in this inn. You must come at once to my house. My brother, Don Raphael, will be delighted to see you when he returns in an hour or two from our country castle."

Doña Camilla, as the lady was called, led me to a great house in the best part of the town, and at the door we met Don Raphael. "What a handsome young cavalier you are, my dear Gil Blas!" he said. "You must make up your mind to stay with us for some weeks."

The supper was a pleasant affair. Doña Camilla and her brother found something to admire in everything I said, and I began to fancy myself as a wit. It was very late when Lamela led me to my bed-room and helped me to undress. And it was very late when I awoke next day. I called to Lamela, but he did not come, so I arose and dressed myself and went downstairs. To my surprise there was nobody in the house, and all my baggage had disappeared. I looked at my hand--the diamond ring had gone. Then I understood why Lamela had been willing to come with me without troubling about wages. I had fallen for a second time into the hands of thieves. They had hired the furnished house for a week, and had trapped me in it. It was clear that I had boasted too much at Burgos about the thousand ducats which Doña Mencia gave me. Now I found myself at Valladolid quite penniless.

As I walked along the street in a very despondent mood, not knowing how to get a meal, someone tapped me on the shoulder, and said, "Good gracious, Gil Blas, I hardly knew you! What a princely dress you've got on. A fine sword, silk stockings, a velvet mantle and doublet with silver lacings! Have you come into a fortune?"

I turned around, and found it was Fabrice, an old schoolfellow, the son of a barber at Oviedo. I told him of my adventure.

"Pride comes before a fall, you see," he said with a laugh. "But I can get you a place if you care to take it. One of the principal physicians of the town, Dr. Sangdado, is looking for a secretary. I know you write a very good hand. Sell your fine raiment and buy some plain clothes, and I will take you to the doctor."

I am glad to say that I obtained the post, but I wasn't altogether satisfied with it. Dr. Sangrado believed in vegetarianism, and he gave me only peas and beans and baked apples to eat, and not much of those. At the end of a fortnight I resolved to go as a servant in some house: where meat and wine were to be had.

"Don't be foolish," said Sangrado. "Your fortune is made if you only stay with me. I am getting old and I require someone to help me in my practice. You can do it. You need not waste your time in studying all the nonsense written by other doctors. You have only to follow my method. Never give a patient medicine. Bleed him well, and tell him to drink a pint of hot water every half hour. If that doesn't cure him--well, it's time he died."

So I donned one of Sangrado's gowns, which gave me a very original appearance, as it was much too long and ample for me, and then I began to attend his patients. A few of them, I believe, managed to recover. One day a woman stopped me and took me into her house to look at her niece. I recognised the girl as soon as I saw her. It was the pretty adventuress, Camilla, who had decoyed me and helped to rob me of my thousand ducats. When I took her hand to feel her pulse I perceived that she was wearing my diamond ring. Happily, she was too ill to know me. After ordering her to be bled and given a pint of warm water every half hour, I went out and talked the matter over with Fabrice. We resolved not to call in the police, as they would certainly keep whatever money of mine they recovered. The ways of the law in Spain in the seventeenth century are very strange and intricate.

Nevertheless, I returned late at night to the house accompanied by a sergeant of the police and five of his men, all well armed. I then awoke Camilla, and told her to dress herself and attend before the magistrate.

"Oh, Gil Blas," she cried, "have pity on me. Lamela and Raphael have run off with the money, and left me alone here on a bed of sickness."

I knew this was true, as I had made inquiries; but I also knew that Camilla had had a share of the spoil, and had bought some valuable jewelry with it. So I said, "Very well, I won't be hard on you. But you must give me back the diamond ring which you are wearing, and you must satisfy these officers of the police."

Poor Camilla understood what I meant. It is a costly matter to satisfy the Spanish police. She gave me the ring, and then, with a sigh, she opened a casket and handed the sergeant everything it contained--a necklace of beautiful pearls, a pair of fine earrings, and some other jewels.

"Isn't this better than calling in the police?" said the sergeant when we had left the house. "There are the jewels. Two hundred ducats' worth, I'll be bound!"

No doubt, dear reader, you have seen through this little plot. The supposed sergeant was my old friend, Fabrice, and his five men were five young barbers of his acquaintance. They quickly changed their clothes, and we all went to an inn and spent a merry evening together.

II.--In Male Attire

A few days afterwards I took up the plan which I had formed at Burgos, and bravely set out for Madrid in the hope of making my fortune there. But my money did not last long, for on reaching the capital I fell in with a wild company of fashionable actors and actresses.

As my purse grew lighter my conscience became tenderer, and at length I humbly accepted the position of lackey in the house of a rich old nobleman, Don Vincent de Guzman. He was a widower, with an only child, Aurora--a lovely, gay, and accomplished girl of twenty-six years of age.

I had hardly been with him a month when he died, leaving his daughter mistress of all his wealth, and free to do what she liked with it. To my surprise, Aurora then began to distinguish me from all the other servants. I could see by the way she looked at me that there was something about me that attracted her. Great ladies, I knew, sometimes fall in love with their lackeys, and one evening my hopes were raised to the highest pitch; for Aurora's maid then whispered to me that somebody would like to talk to me alone at midnight in the garden. Full of wild impatience, I arrived at the spot two hours before the time. Oh, those two hours! They seemed two eternities.

At midnight Aurora appeared, and I threw myself at her feet, exclaiming, "Oh, my dear lady! Even in my wildest dreams of love I never thought of such happiness as this!"

"Don't talk so loud!" said Aurora, stepping back and laughing. "You will rouse all the household. So you thought I was in love with you? My dear boy, I am in love with somebody else. Knowing how clever and ingenious you are, I want you to come at once with me to Salamanca and help me to win my love."

Naturally, I was much disconcerted by this strange turn of affairs. However, I managed to recover myself and listen to my mistress. She had fallen in love with a gallant young nobleman, Don Luis Pacheco, who was unaware of the passion he inspired. He was going the next day to Salamanca to study at the university, and Aurora had resolved to go there also, dressed as a young nobleman, and make his acquaintance. She had fallen in love with him at sight, and had never found an opportunity to speak to him.

"I shall get two sets of rooms in different parts of the town," she said to me. "In one I shall live as Aurora de Guzman, with my maid, who must play the part of an aunt. In the other, I shall be Don Felix de Mendoc, a gallant cavalier, and you must be my valet."

We set off for Salamanca at daybreak, and arrived before Don Luis. Aurora took a furnished mansion in the fashionable quarter, and I called at the principal inns, and found the one where Don Luis had arranged to stay, Aurora then hid her pretty brown tresses under a wig, and put on a dashing cavalier's costume, and came and engaged a room at the place where her lover was.

"So you have come to study at the university, sir?" said the innkeeper. "How lucky! Another gallant young nobleman has just taken a room here for the same purpose. You will be able to dine together and entertain one another."

He introduced his two guests, and they quickly became fast friends.

"Do you know, Don Felix, you're uncommonly good-looking," said Don Luis, as they sat talking over the wine. "Between us we shall set on fire the hearts of the pretty girls of Salamanca."

"There's really a lovely girl staying in the town," said my mistress. "She's a cousin of mine, Aurora de Guzman. We are said to resemble each other in a remarkable way."

"Then she must be a beautiful creature," said Don Luis, "for you have fine, regular features and an admirable colour. When can I see this paragon?"

"This afternoon, if you like," said my mistress.

They went together to the mansion, where the maid received them, dressed as an elderly noblewoman.

"I'm very sorry, Don Felix," said the maid, "but my niece has a bad headache, and she has gone to lie down."

"Very well," said the pretended cousin. "I will just introduce my friend, Don Luis, to you. Tell Aurora we will call to-morrow morning."

Don Luis was much interested in the lovely girl whom he had not been able to see. He talked about her to his companion late into the night. The next day, as they were about to set out to visit her, I rushed in, as arranged, with a note for my mistress.

"What a nuisance!" she said. "Here is some urgent business I must at once attend to. Don Luis, just run round and tell my cousin that I cannot come until this afternoon!"

Don Luis retired to put some final touches to his dress, and my mistress hurried off with me to her mansion, and there, with the help of her maid, she quickly got into her proper clothes. She received Don Luis very kindly, and they talked together for quite two hours. Don Luis then went away, and Aurora slipped into her cavalier's costume and met him at the inn.

"My dear Felix," said Don Luis, "your cousin is an adorable lady. I'm madly in love with her. If I can only win her, I'll marry and settle down on my estates."

Aurora gazed at him very tenderly, and then, with a gay laugh, she shook off her wig and let her curls fall about her shoulders.

Don Felix knelt at her feet and kissed her hands, crying, "Oh, my beautiful Aurora! Do you really care for me? How happy we shall be together!"

The two lovers resolved to return at once to Madrid, and make preparations for the wedding. At the end of a fortnight my mistress was married, and I again set out on my travels with a well-lined purse.

III.--Old Acquaintances

I had always had a particular desire to see the famous town of Toledo. I arrived there in three days, and lodged at a good inn, where, by reason of my fine dress, I passed for a gentleman of importance. But I soon discovered that Toledo was one of those places in which it is easier to spend money than to gain it.

So I set out for Aragon. On the road I fell in with a young cavalier going in the same direction. He was a man of a frank and pleasant disposition, and we soon got on a friendly footing. His name, I learned, was Don Alfonso; he was, like me, seeking for means of livelihood.

It came on to rain very heavily as we were skirting the base of a mountain, and, in looking about for some place of shelter, we found a cave in which an aged, white-haired hermit was living. At first he was not pleased to see us, but something about me seemed to strike him favourably, and he then gave us a kind welcome. We tied our horses to a tree, and prepared to stay the night. The hermit began to talk to us in a very pious and edifying way, when another aged anchorite ran into the cave, and said, "It is all over; we're discovered. The police are after us!"

The first hermit tore off his white beard and his hair, and took off his long robe, showing a doublet beneath; and his companion followed his example. In a few moments they were changed into a couple of young men whose faces I recognised.

"Raphael! Lamela! What mischief are you working now? And where are my thousand ducats, you rascals?"

"Ah, Gil Blas, I knew you at once!" said Raphael blandly. "One comes on old acquaintances when one least expects them. I know we treated you badly. But the money's gone, and can't be recovered. Come with us, and we will soon make up to you all that you have lost."

It was certainly unwise to remain in a cave which the police were about to visit, and, as the rain had ceased and the night had fallen, we all set out in the darkness to find some better shelter. We took the road to Requena, and came to a forest, where we saw a light shining in the distance. Don Alfonso crept up to the spot, and saw four men sitting round a fire, eating and quarrelling. It was easy to see what they were quarrelling about. An old gentleman and a lovely young girl were bound to a tree close by, and by the tree stood a fine carriage.

"They are brigands," said Alfonso, when he returned, "who have captured a nobleman and his daughter, I think. Let us attack them. In order, no doubt, to prevent their quarrelling turning into a deadly affray, they have piled all their arms in a heap some yards away from the fire. So they cannot make much of a fight."

And they did not. We quietly surrounded them, and shot them down before they were able to move. Don Alfonso and I then set free the captives, while Raphael and Lamela rifled the pockets of the dead robbers.

"I am the Count of Polan, and this is my daughter Seraphina," said the old gentleman. "If you will help me to get my carriage ready, I will drive back to an inn which we passed before entering the forest."

When we came to the inn, the count begged us all to stay with him. Raphael and Lamela, however, were afraid that the police would track them out; Don Alfonso, who had been talking very earnestly to Seraphina, was, for some strange reason, also unwilling to remain; so I fell in with their views.

"Why didn't you stay?" I said to Don Alfonso.

"I was afraid the count would recognise me, as Seraphina has done," he said. "I killed his son in a duel, just when I was trying to win Seraphina's love. Heaven grant that the service I have now rendered will make him inclined to forgive me."

The day was breaking when we reached the mountains around Requena. There we hid till nightfall, and then we made our way in the darkness to the town of Xeloa. We found a quiet, shady retreat beside a woodland stream, and there we stayed, while Lamela went into the town to buy provisions. He did not return until evening. He brought back some extraordinary things.

He opened a great bundle containing a long black mantle and robe, another costume, a roll of parchment, a quill, and a great seal in green wax.

"Do you remember the trick you played on Camilla?" he said to me. "I have a better scheme than that. Listen. As I was buying some provisions at a cook-shop, a man entered in a great rage and began abusing a certain Samuel Simon, a converted Jew and a cruel usurer. He had ruined many merchants at Xeloa, and all the towns-people would like to see him ruined in turn. Then, my dear Gil Blas, I remembered your clever trick, and brought these clothes so that we might visit this Jew dressed up as the officers of the Inquisition."

After we had made a good meal, Lamela put on the robe and mantle of the Inquisitor, Raphael the costume of the registrar, and I took the part of a sergeant of the police. We walked very solemnly to the house of the usurer; Simon opened the door himself, and started back in affright.

"Master Simon," said Lamela, in a grave imperative tone of voice, "I command you, on behalf of the Holy Inquisition, to deliver to these officers the key of your cabinet. I must have your private papers closely examined. Serious charges of heresy have been brought against you."

The usurer grew pale with fear. Far from doubting any deceit on our part, he imagined that some of his enemies had informed the Holy Office against him. He obeyed without the least resistance, and opened his cabinet.

"I am glad to see," said Lamela, "that you do not rebel against the orders of the Holy Inquisition. Retire now to another room, and let me carry out the examination without interference."

Simon withdrew into a farther room, and Lamela and Raphael quickly searched in the cabinet for the strongbox. It was unlocked, being so full of money that it could not be closed. We filled all our pockets; then our hose; and then stuffed the coins in any place in our clothes that would hold them. After this, we closed the cabinet, and our pretended Inquisitor sealed it down with a great seal of green wax, and said very solemnly to the usurer, "Master Simon, I have sealed your cabinet with the seal of the Holy Office. Let me find it untouched when I return to-morrow morning to inform you of the decision arrived at in your case."

The next morning we were a good many leagues from Xeloa. At breakfast, we counted over the money which we had taken from Simon. It came to three thousand ducats, of which we each took a fourth part. Raphael and Lamela then desired to carry out a similar plot against someone in the next town; but Don Alfonso and I would not agree to take any part in the affair, and set out for Toledo. There, Don Alfonso was reconciled to the Count of Polan, and soon afterwards he and Seraphina were happily married.

I retired to Lirias, a pleasant estate that Don Alfonso gave me, and there I married happily, and grew old among my children. In the reign of Philip IV., I went to the court, and served under the great minister, Olivarez. But I have now returned to Lirias, and I do not intend to go to Madrid again.


CHARLES LEVER

Charles O'Malley

The author of "Charles O'Malley," perhaps the most typical of Irish novelists, was of English descent on his father's side. But Charles James Lever himself was Irish by birth, being born at Dublin on August 31, 1806--Irish in sentiment and distinctly Irish in temperament. In geniality and extravagance he bore much resemblance to the gay, riotous spirits he has immortalised in his books. "Of all the men I have ever encountered," says Trollope, "he was the surest fund of drollery." Lever was intended for medicine; but financial difficulties forced him to return to literature. His first story was "Harry Lorrequer," published in 1837. It was followed in 1840 by "Charles O'Malley, the Irish Dragoon," which established his reputation as one of the first humorists of his day. The story is the most popular of all Lever's works, and in many respects the most characteristic. The narrative is told with great vigour, and the delineation of character is at once subtle and life-like. Lever died on June 1, 1872.

I.--O'Malley of O'Malley Castle

It was in O'Malley Castle, a very ruinous pile of incongruous masonry that stood in a wild and dreary part of Galway, that I passed my infancy and youth. When a mere child I was left an orphan to the care of my worthy uncle. My father, whose extravagance had well sustained the family reputation, had squandered a large and handsome property in contesting elections for his native county, and in keeping up that system of unlimited hospitality for which Ireland in general, and Galway more especially, was renowned. The result was, as might be expected, ruin and beggary. When he died the only legacy he left to his brother was a boy of four years of age, entreating him, with his last breath, "Be anything you like to him, Godfrey, but a father--or, at least, such a one as I have proved."

Godfrey O'Malley sometime previous had lost his wife, and when this new trust was committed to him he resolved never to re-marry, but to rear me as his own child.

From my earliest years his whole anxiety was to fit me for the part of a country gentleman, as he regarded that character--viz., I rode boldly with the fox-hounds; I was about the best shot within twenty miles; I could swim the Shannon at Holy Island; I drove four-in-hand better than the coachman himself; and from finding a hare to hooking a salmon my equal could not be found from Killaloe to Banagher. These were the staple of my endowments; besides which, the parish priest had taught me a little Latin, a little French, and a little geometry.

When I add to this portraiture of my accomplishments that I was nearly six feet high, with more than a common share of activity and strength for my years, and no inconsiderable portion of good looks, I have finished my sketch, and stand before my reader.

We were in the thick of canvassing the county for the parliamentary seat in my uncle's interest. O'Malley Castle was the centre of operations; while I, a mere stripling, and usually treated as a boy, was entrusted with an important mission, and sent off to canvass a distant relation, Mr. Matthew Blake, who might possibly be approachable by a younger branch of the family, with whom he had never any collision.

I arrived at his house while the company were breakfasting. After the usual shaking of hands and hearty greetings were over, I was introduced to Sir George Dashwood, a tall and singularly handsome man of about fifty, and his daughter, Lucy Dashwood.

If the sweetest blue eyes that ever beamed beneath a forehead of snowy whiteness, over which dark brown and waving hair fell, less in curls than masses of locky richness, could only have known what wild work they were making of my poor heart, Miss Dashwood, I trust, would have looked at her teacup or her muffin rather than at me, as she actually did, on that fatal morning.

Beside her sat a tall, handsome man of about five-and-thirty, or perhaps forty, years of age, with a most soldierly air, who, as I was presented to him, scarcely turned his head, and gave me a half-nod of unequivocal coldness. As I turned from the lovely girl, who had received me with marked courtesy, to the cold air and repelling hauteur of the dark-browed captain, the blood rushed throbbing to my forehead; and as I walked to my place at the table, I eagerly sought his eye, to return him a look of defiance and disdain, proud and contemptuous as his own.

Captain Hammersly, however, never took further notice of me, and I formed a bitter resolution, which I endeavoured to carry into effect during the next day's hunt. Mounted on my best horse, I deliberately led him across the worst and roughest country, river, and hills, and walls, and ditches, till I finished up with a broken head and he with a broken arm, and a horse that had to be slaughtered.

On the fourth day after this adventure I was able to enter the drawing-room again. Sir George Dashwood made the kindest inquiries about my health.

"They tell me you are to be a lawyer, Mr. O'Malley," said he; "and, if so, I must advise you to take better care of your headpiece."

"A lawyer, papa? Oh, dear me!" said his daughter. "I should never have thought of his being anything so stupid."

"Why, silly girl, what would you have a man to be?"

"A dragoon, to be sure, papa," said the fond girl, as she pressed her arm around him, and looked up in his face with an expression of mingled pride and affection.

That word sealed my destiny.

II.--I Join the Dragoons

I had been at Mr. Blake's house five days before I recollected my uncle's interests; but with one hole in my head and some half-dozen in my heart my memory was none of the best. But that night at dinner I discovered, to my savage amazement, that Mr. Blake and all the company were there in the interest of the opposition candidate, and that Sir George Dashwood was their candidate. In my excitement I hurled my wineglass at the head of one of the company who expressed himself in regard to my uncle in a manner insulting to a degree. In the duel which followed I shot my opponent.

I had sprung into man's estate. In three short days I had fallen deeply, desperately, in love, and had wounded, if not killed, an antagonist in a duel. As I meditated on these things I was aroused by the noise of horses' feet. I opened the window, and beheld no less a person than Captain Hammersly. I begged of him to alight and come in.

"I thank you very much," he said; "but, in fact, my hours are now numbered here. I have just received an order to join my regiment. I could not, however, leave the country without shaking hands with you. I owe you a lesson in horsemanship, and I'm only sorry that we are not to have another day together. I'm sorry you are not coming with us."

"Would to heaven I were!" said I, with an earnestness that almost made my brain start.

"Then why not?"

"Unfortunately, my worthy uncle, who is all to me in this world, would be quite alone if I were to leave him; and, although he has never said so, I know he dreads the possibility of my suggesting such a thing."

"Devilish hard; but I believe you are right. Something, however, may turn up yet to alter his mind. And so good-bye, O'Malley, good-bye."

During the contest for the seat--which was frankly fought in pitched battles and scrimmages, and by corruption and perjury--I managed to save Miss Dashwood's life. When polling-time came, Sir George found the feeling against him was so strong, and we were so successful in beating his voters out of the town, in spite of police and soldiers, that he resigned his candidature.

Afterwards I spent some time in Dublin, nominally in preparation for the law, at Trinity College. But my college career convinced my uncle that my forte did not lie in the classics, and Sir George succeeded in inducing him to yield to my wishes, and interested himself so strongly for me that I obtained a cornetcy in the 14th Light Dragoons a week before the regiment sailed for Portugal. On the morning of my last day in Dublin I met Miss Dashwood riding in the park. For some minutes I could scarcely speak. At last I plucked up courage a little, and said, "Miss Dashwood, I have wished most anxiously, before I parted for ever with those to whom I owe already so much, that I should, at least, speak my gratitude."

"But when do you think of going?"

"To-morrow. Captain Power, under whose command I am, has received orders to embark immediately for Portugal."

I thought--perhaps it was but a thought--that her cheek grew somewhat paler as I spoke; but she remained silent.

Fixing my eyes full upon her I spoke.

"Lucy, I feel I must confess it, cost what it may--I love you. I know the fruitlessness, the utter despair, that awaits such a sentiment. My own heart tells me that I am not, cannot be, loved in return. I ask for nothing; I hope for nothing. I see that you at least pity me. Nay, one word more. Do not, when time and distance have separated us, think that the expressions I now use are prompted by a mere sudden ebullition of boyish feeling; for I swear to you that my love to you is the source and spring of every action in my life, and, when I cease to love you, I shall cease to feel. And now, farewell; farewell for ever."

I pressed her hand to my lips, gave one long, last look, turned my horse rapidly away, and, ere a minute, was out of sight.

III.--I Smell Gunpowder

What a contrast to the dull monotony of our life at sea did the scene present which awaited us on landing at Lisbon! The whole quay was crowded with hundreds of people, eagerly watching the vessel which bore from her mast the broad ensign of Britain.

The din and clamour of a mighty city mingled with the far-off sounds of military music; and, in the vistas of the opening streets, masses of troops might be seen, in marching order. All betokened the near approach of war.

On the morning after we landed, Power rode off with dispatches to headquarters, leaving me to execute two commissions with which he had been entrusted--a packet for Hammersly from Miss Dashwood and an epistle from a love-sick midshipman who could not get on shore, to the Senhora Inez da Silviero. I took up the packet for Hammersly with a heavy heart. Alas! thought I, how fatally may my life be influenced by it!

The loud call of a cavalry trumpet roused me, and I passed out into the street for the morning's inspection. The next day I delivered the packet to the Senhora Inez, by whom I was warmly received--rather more on my own account than on that of the little midshipman, I fancied. Certainly I never beheld a being more lovely, and I found myself paying her some attentions. Yet she was nothing to me. It is true, she had, as she most candidly informed me, a score of admirers, among whom I was not even reckoned; she was evidently a coquette. On May 7, 1809, we set off for Oporto. The 14th were detailed to guard the pass to the Douro until the reinforcements were up, and then I saw my first engagement. Never till now, as we rode to the charge, did I know how far the excitement reaches when, man to man, sabre to sabre, we ride forward to the battlefield. On we went, the loud shout of "Forward!" still ringing in our ears. One broken, irregular discharge from the French guns shook the head of our advancing column, but stayed us not as we galloped madly on.

I remember no more. The din, the smoke, the crash--the cry for quarter, mingled with the shout of victory, the flying enemy--are all commingled in my mind, but leave no trace of clearness or connection between them; and it was only when the column wheeled to re-form that I awoke from my trance of maddening excitement, and perceived that we had carried the position and cut off the guns of the enemy.

The scene was now beyond anything, maddening in its interest. From the walls of Oporto the English infantry poured forth in pursuit; while the whole river was covered with boats, as they still continued to cross over. The artillery thundered from the Sierra, to protect the landing, for it was even still contested in places; and the cavalry, charging in flank, swept the broken ranks and bore down their squares. Then a final impetuous charge carried the day.

From that fight I got my lieutenancy, and then was sent off by Sir Arthur Wellesley on special duty to the Lusitanian Legion in Alcantara--a flattering position opened to my enterprise. Before I set out, I was able to deliver Miss Dashwood's packet to Captain Hammersly, barely recovered from a sabre wound. His agitation and his manner in receiving it puzzled me greatly, though my own agitation was scarcely less.

When I returned after a month with the Legion, during which my services were of no very distinguished character, I found a letter from Galway which saddened my thoughts greatly. A lawsuit had gone against my uncle, and what I had long foreseen was gradually accomplishing--the wreck of an old and honoured house. And I could only look on and watch the progress of our downfall without power to arrest it.

IV.--Shipwrecked Hopes

Having been sent to the rear with dispatches, I did not reach Talavera till two days' hard fighting had left the contending armies without decided advantage on either side.

I had scarcely joined my regiment before the 14th were ordered to charge.

We came on at a trot. The smoke of the cannonade obscured everything until we had advanced some distance, but suddenly the splendid panorama of the battlefield broke upon us.

"Charge! Forward!" cried the hoarse voice of our colonel; and we were upon them. The French infantry, already broken by the withering musketry of our people, gave way before us, and, unable to form a square, retired fighting, but in confusion and with tremendous loss, to their position. One glorious cheer from left to right of our line proclaimed the victory, while a deafening discharge of artillery from the French replied to this defiance, and the battle was over.

For several months after the battle of Talavera my life presented nothing which I feel worth recording. Our good fortune seemed to have deserted us when our hopes were highest; for from the day of that splendid victory we began our retrograde movement upon Portugal. Pressed hard by overwhelming masses of the enemy, we saw the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida fall successively into their hands, and retired, mystified and disappointed, to Torres Vedras.

Wounded in a somewhat scatter-brain night expedition to the lines of Ciudad Rodrigo, my campaigning--for some time, at least--was concluded; for my wound began to menace the loss of my arm, and I was ordered back to Lisbon. Fred Power was the first man I saw, and almost the first thing he told me was that Sir George Dashwood was in Lisbon, and that his daughter was with him. And then, with conflicting feelings, I found that all Lisbon mentioned my name in connection with the senhora, and Sir George himself, in appointing me an aide-de-camp, threw increased gloom over my thoughts by referring to the report Power had spoken of. My torment was completed by meeting Miss Dashwood in the Senhora Inez's house under circumstances which led to treat me with stiff, formal courtesy.

The next night a letter from a Dublin friend reached me which told me that "Hammersly had got his congé."

Here, then, was the solution of the whole chaos of mystery; here the full explanation of what had puzzled my aching brain for many a night long. His own were the letters I had delivered into Hammersly's hands. A flood of light poured at once across all the dark passages of my history; and Lucy, too--dare I think of her? What if she had really cared for me! Oh, the bitter agony of that thought! To think that all my hopes were shipwrecked with the very land in sight.

I sprang to my feet with some sudden impulse, but, as I did so, the blood rushed madly to my head, and I fell. My arm was again broken, and ere day I was delirious.

Hours, days, weeks rolled over, and when I returned to consciousness and convalescence I found I had been removed to the senhora's villa, and to her I owed, in a large part, my recovery. I was deeper in my dilemma than ever. Nevertheless, before I returned to the front, I found an opportunity to vindicate to Lucy my unshaken faith, reconciling the conflicting evidences with the proofs I proffered of my attachment. We were interrupted before I could learn how my protestations were received. Power, I found soon after, was the one favoured by the fair Inez's affections.

V.--A Desolate Hearth

It is not my intention, were I even adequate to the task, to trace with anything like accuracy the events of the war at this period. In fact, to those who, like myself, were performing duties of a mere subaltern character, the daily movements of our own troops, not to speak of the continual changes of the enemy, were perfectly unknown, and an English newspaper was more ardently longed for in the Peninsula than by the most eager crowd of a London coffee-room.

So I pass over the details of the retreat of the French, and the great battle of Fuentes D'Oñoro. In the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo, that death struggle of vengeance and despair, I gained some notoriety in leading a party of stormers through a broken embrasure, and found myself under Lord Wellington's displeasure for having left my duties as aide-de-camp. However, the exploit gained me leave to return to England, and the additional honour of carrying dispatches to the Prince Regent.

When I arrived in London with the glorious news of the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo, the kind and gracious notice of the prince obtained me attentions on all sides. Indeed, so flattering was the reception I met with, and so overwhelming the civility showered on me, that it required no small effort on my part not to believe myself as much a hero as they would make me. An eternal round of dinners, balls, and entertainments filled up an entire week.

At last I obtained the Prince Regent's permission to leave London, and a few mornings after landed in Cork. Hastening my journey, I was walking the last eight miles--my chaise having broken down--when suddenly my attention was caught by a sound which, faint from the distance, scarce struck upon my ear. Thinking it probably some delusion of my heated imagination, I rose to push forward; but at the moment a slight breeze stirred, and a low, moaning sound swelled upward, increasing each instant as it came. It grew louder as the wind bore it towards me, and now falling, now swelling, it burst forth into one loud, prolonged cry of agony and grief. O God, it was the death-wail!

My suspense became too great to bear; I dashed madly forward. As I neared the house, the whole approach was crowded with carriages and horsemen. At the foot of the large flight of steps stood the black and mournful hearse, its plumes nodding in the breeze, and, as the sounds without sank into sobs of bitterness and woe, the black pall of a coffin, borne on men's shoulders, appeared at the door, and an old man, a life-long friend of my uncle, across whose features a struggle for self-mastery was playing, held out his hand to enforce silence. I sprang toward him, choked by agony. He threw his arms around me, and muttering the words, "Poor Godfrey!" pointed to the coffin.

Mine was a desolate hearth. In respect to my uncle's last wishes, I sold out of the army and settled down to a quieter life than the clang of battle, the ardour of the march. Gradually new impressions and new duties succeeded; and, ere four months elapsed, the quiet monotony of my daily life healed up the wounds of my suffering, and a sense of content, if not of happiness, crept gently over me, and I ceased to long for the clash of arms and the loud blast of the trumpet.

But three years later a regiment of infantry marching to Cork for embarkation for the Continent after Bonaparte's return from Elba, roused all the eagerness of my old desires, and I volunteered for service again.

A few days after I was in Brussels, and attending that most memorable and most exciting entertainment, the Duchess of Richmond's ball, on the night of June 15, 1815. Lucy Dashwood was there, beautiful beyond anything I had ever seen her. When the word came of the advance of Napoleon I was sent off with the major-general's orders, and then joined the night march to Quatre Bras. There I fell into the hands of a French troop and missed the fighting, though I saw Napoleon himself, and had the good fortune to effect the escape of Sir George Dashwood, who lay a prisoner under sentence of death in the same place as myself. Early in the day of Waterloo I contrived my own escape, and was able to give Lord Wellington much information as to the French movements.

After the battle I wandered back into Brussels and learned that we had gained the day. As I came into the city Sir George met me and took me into his hotel, where were Power and the senhora, about to be married. Wounded by the innocent raillery of my friends, I escaped into an empty room and buried my head in my hands. Oh, how often had the phantom of happiness passed within my reach, but glided from my grasp!

"Oh, Lucy, Lucy!" I exclaimed aloud. "But for you, and a few words carelessly spoken, I had never trod the path of ambition whose end has been the wreck of all my happiness! But for you I had never loved so fondly! But for you, and I had never been--"

"A soldier, you would say," whispered a soft voice as a light hand gently touched my shoulder. "No, Mr. O'Malley; deeply grateful as I am to you for the service you once rendered myself, bound as I am by every tie of thankfulness by the greater one to my father, yet do I feel that in the impulse I have given to your life I have done more to repay my debt to you than by all the friendship, all the esteem I owe you. If, indeed, by any means, you became a soldier, then I am indeed proud."

"Alas! Lucy--Miss Dashwood, I would say--how has my career fulfilled the promise that gave it birth? For you, and you only, to gain your affection, I became a soldier. And now, and now----"

"And now," said she, while her eyes beamed upon me with a very flood of tenderness, "is it nothing that I have glowed with pride at triumphs I could read of, but dared not share in? I have thought of you. I have dreamed, I have prayed for you."

"Alas! Lucy, but not loved me."

Her hand, which had fallen upon mine, trembled violently. I pressed my lips upon it, but she moved it not. I dared to look up; her head was turned away, but her heaving bosom betrayed emotion.

Our eyes met--I cannot say what it was--but in a moment the whole current of my thoughts was changed. Her look was bent upon me, beaming with softness and affection; her hand gently pressed my own, and her lips murmured my name.

The door burst open at this moment, and Sir George Dashwood appeared. Lucy turned one fleeting look upon her father, and fell fainting into my arms.

"God bless you, my boy!" said the old general as he hurriedly wiped a tear from his eye. "I am now indeed a happy father."


Tom Burke of "Ours"

In 1840 Charles Lever, on an invitation from Sir John Crompton, Secretary to the British Embassy in Belgium, forsook Ireland for Brussels, where for a time he followed his profession of medicine. Two years later an offer of the editorship of the "Dublin University Magazine" recalled him to Ireland, when he definitely abandoned a medical career and settled down to literature permanently. The first fruit of that appointment was "Tom Burke of Ours," published, after running serially in the magazine, in 1844. It is more serious in tone than any of his preceding works; in it the author utilises the rich colouring gained from his long residence in France, and the book is less remarkable for the complex, if vigorous, story it contains than for its graphic and exciting pictures of men and events in the campaigns of Napoleon Many of its episodes are conceived in the true spirit of romance.

I.--The Boy Rebel

"Be advised by me," said De Meudon earnestly; "do not embark with these Irish rebels in their enterprise! They have none. Their only daring is some deed of rapine and murder. No; liberty is not to be achieved by such bands as these. France is your country--there liberty has been won; there lives one great man whose notice, were it but passingly bestowed, is fame."

He sank back exhausted. The energy of his speech was too great for his weak and exhausted frame to bear. Captain de Meudon had come to Ireland in 1798 to aid in the rebellion; he had seen its failure, but had remained in Ireland trying vainly to give to the disaffection some military organization. He had realized the hopelessness of his efforts. He was ill, and very near to death. Now I stood by his bedside in a little cottage in Glenmalure.

Boy as I was, I had already seen enough to make me a rebel in feeling and in action. I had stood a short time before the death-bed of my father, who disliked me, and who had left nearly all his property to my elder brother, who was indifferent to me. My father had indentured me as apprentice to his lawyer, and sooner than submit to the rule of this man--the evil genius of our family--I had taken flight. The companion of my wanderings was Darby M'Keown, the piper, the cleverest and cunningest of the agents of rebellion. Then I had met De Meudon, who had turned my thoughts and ambitions into another channel.

My companion grew steadily worse.

"Take my pocket-book," he whispered; "there is a letter you'll give my sister Marie. There are some five or six thousand francs--they are yours; you must be a pupil at the Polytechnique at Paris. If it should be your fortune to speak with General Bonaparte, say to him that when Charles de Meudon was dying--in exile--with but one friend left--he held his portrait to his lips, and, with his last breath, he kissed it."

A shivering ran through his limbs--a sigh--and all was still. He was dead.

"Halloa, there!" said a voice. The door opened, and a sergeant entered. "I have a warrant to arrest Captain de Meudon, a French officer who is concealed here. Where is he?"

I pointed to the bed.

"I arrest you in the king's name!" said the sergeant, approaching. "What----" He started back in horror. "He is dead!"

Then entered one I had seen before--Major Barton, the most pitiless of the government's agents in suppressing insurrection.

The sergeant whispered to him, and his eye ranged the little chamber till it fell on me.

"Ha!" he cried. "You here! Sergeant, here's one prisoner for you, at any rate."

Two soldiers seized me, and I was marched away towards Dublin. About noon the party halted, and the soldiers lay down and chatted on a patch of grass, while my own thoughts turned sadly back to the friend I had known.

Suddenly I heard a song sung by a voice I knew, and afterwards a loud clapping of hands. Darby M'Keown was there in the midst of the soldiers, and as I turned to look at him, my hand came in contact with a clasp-knife. I managed with it to free my arms from the ropes that fastened them, but what was to be done next?

"I didn't think much of that song of yours," said one of the soldiers. "Give us 'The British Grenadiers.'"

"I never heard them play but onst, sir," said Darby, meekly, "and they were in such a hurry I couldn't pick up the tune."

"What d'you mean?"

"'Twas the day but one after the French landed, and the British Grenadiers was running away."

The party sprang to their legs, and a shower of curses fell upon the piper.

"And sure," continued Darby, "'twasn't my fault av they took to their heels. Wouldn't anyone run for his life av he had the opportunity?"

These words were uttered in a raised voice, and I took the hint. While Darby was scuffling with the soldiers, I slipped away.

For miles I pressed forward without turning, and in the evening I found myself in Dublin. The union with England was being debated in the Parliament House; huge and angry crowds raged without. Remembering the tactics De Meudon had taught me, I sought to organize the crowd in a kind of military formation against the troops; but a knock on the head with a musket-butt ended my labours, and I knew nothing more until I came to myself in the quarters of an old chance acquaintance--Captain Bubbleton.

Here, in the house of this officer--an eccentric and impecunious man, but a most loyal friend--I was discovered by Major Barton and dragged to prison. I was released by the intervention of my father's lawyer, who claimed me as his apprentice.

For weeks I lived with Captain Bubbleton and his brother officers, and nothing could be more cordial than their treatment of me. "Tom Burke of 'Ours,'" the captain used proudly to call me. Only one officer held aloof from me, and from all Irishmen--Montague Crofts--through whom it came about that I left Ireland.

One day an uncouth and ragged woman entered the barracks, and addressed me. It was Darby M'Keown, and he brought me nothing less precious than De Meudon's pocket-book, which had been taken from me, and had been picked up by him on the road. A few minutes later Bubbleton lost a sum at cards to Crofts; knowing he could not pay, I passed a note quietly to him. When Bubbleton had gone, Crofts held up the note before me. It was a French note of De Meudon's! I demanded my property back. He refused, and threatened to inform against me. On my seeking to prevent him from leaving the room, he drew his sword, and wounded me; but in the nick of time a blow from a strong arm laid him senseless--dead, perhaps--on the floor.

"We must be far from this by daybreak," whispered Darby.

I walked out of the barracks as steadily as I could. For all I knew, I was implicated in murder--and Ireland was no place for me. In a few days I stood on the shores of France.

II.--A Blow for the Emperor

By means of a letter of introduction to the head of the Polytechnique, which De Meudon had placed for me in his pocket-book, I was able to enter that military college, and, after a spell of earnest study, I was appointed to a commission in the Eighth Hussars. Proud as I was to become a soldier of France, yet I could not but feel that I was a foreigner, and almost friendless--unlucky, indeed, in the choice of the few friends I possessed. Chief of them was the Marquis de Beauvais, concerning whom I soon made two discoveries--that he was in the thick of an intrigue against the republic I served, and its First Consul, and that he was in love with Marie de Meudon, my dead friend's sister.

To her, as soon as an opportunity came, I gave the news of her brother's end, and his last message. She was terribly affected; and the love we bore in common to the dead, and her own wonderful beauty, aroused in me a passion that was not the less fervent because I felt it was almost hopeless. I did not dare to ask her love, but I had her friendship without asking. She it was who warned me of the dangerous intrigues of De Beauvais and his associates. She it was who, when I fell a victim to their intrigues, laboured with General d'Auvergne, who had befriended me while I was at college, to restore me to liberty.

I had heard that De Beauvais and his fellow royalists were plotting in a château near Versailles, and that a scheme was afoot to capture them. In hot haste I rode to the château, hoping secretly to warn my friend. He did indeed escape, but it was my lot to be caught with the conspirators. For the second time in my short life I saw the inside of a prison; I was in danger of the guillotine; despair had almost overpowered me, when I learnt that my friends had prevailed--my sword was returned to me. I became again an officer of the army of him who was now emperor, and I set forth determined to wipe out on the battlefield the doubts that still clung to my loyalty. Marie de Meudon was wedded, by the emperor's wish, to the gallant and beloved soldier on whose staff I proudly served--General d'Auvergne.

In four vast columns of march, the mighty army poured into the heart of Germany. But not until we reached Mannheim did we learn the object of the war. We were to destroy the Austro-Russian coalition, and the first blow was to be struck at Ulm. When Ulm had capitulated, General d'Auvergne and his staff returned to Elchingen, and on the night when we reached the place I was on the point of lying down supperless in the open air, when I met an old acquaintance, Corporal Pioche, a giant cuirassier of the Guard, who had fought in all Bonaparte's campaigns.

"Ah, mon lieutenant," said he, "not supped yet, I'll wager. Come along with me; Mademoiselle Minette has opened her canteen!"

Presently we entered a large room, at one end of which sat a very pretty Parisian brunette, who bade me a gracious welcome. The place was crowded with captains and corporals, lieutenants and sergeants, all hobnobbing, hand-shaking, and even kissing each other. "Each man brings what he can find, drinks what he is able, and leaves the rest," remarked Pioche, and invited me to take my share in the common stock.

All went well until I absent-mindedly called out, as if to a waiter, for bread. There was a roar of laughter at my mistake, and a little dark-whiskered fellow stuck his sword into a loaf and handed it to me. As I took the loaf, he disengaged his point, and scratched the back of my hand with it. Obviously an insult was intended.

"Ah, an accident, morbleu!" said he, with an impertinent shrug.

"So is this!" said I, as I seized his sword and smashed it across my knee.

"It's François, maitre d'armes of the Fourth," whispered Pioche; "one of the cleverest duellists of the army."

I was hurried out to the court, one adviser counselling me to beware of François's lunge in tierce, another to close on him at once, and so on. For a long time after we had crossed swords, I remained purely on the defensive; at last, after a desperate rally, he made a lunge at my chest, which I received in the muscles of my back; and, wheeling round, I buried my blade in his body.

François lingered for a long time between life and death, and for several days I was incapacitated, tenderly nursed by Minette.

As soon as I was recovered the order came to advance.

Not many days passed ere the chance came to me for which I had longed--the chance of striking a blow for the emperor. Hand-to-hand with the Russian dragoons on the field of Austerlitz, sweeping along afterwards with the imperial hosts in the full tide of victory, I learnt for the first time the exhilaration of military glory; and I had the good fortune to receive the emperor's favour--not only was I promoted, but I was appointed to the compagnie d'élite that was to carry the spoils of victory to Paris.

A few weeks after my return to Paris, the whole garrison was placed in review order to receive the wounded of Austerlitz.

As the emperor rode forward bareheaded to greet his maimed veterans, I heard laughter among the staff that surrounded him. Stepping up, I saw my old friend Pioche, who had been dangerously wounded, with his hand in salute.

"Thou wilt not have promotion, nor a pension," said Napoleon, smiling. "Hast any friend whom I could advance?"

"Yes," answered Pioche, scratching his forehead in confusion. "She is a brave girl, and had she been a man----"

"Whom can he mean?"

"I was talking of Minette, our vivandière."

"Dost wish I should make her my aide-de-camp?" said Napoleon, laughing.

"Parbleu! Thou hast more ill-favoured ones among them," said Pioche, with a glance at the grim faces of Rapp and Daru. "I've seen the time when thou'd have said, 'Is it Minette that was wounded at the Adige and stood in the square at Marengo? I'll give her the Cross of the Legion!'"

"And she shall have it!" said Napoleon. Minette advanced, and as the emperor's own cross was attached to her buttonhole she sat pale as death, overcome by her pride.

For two hours waggon after waggon rolled on, filled with the shattered remnants of an army. Every eye brightened as the emperor drew near, the feeblest gazed with parted lips when he spoke, and the faint cry of "Vive l'Empéreur" passed along the line.

III.--Broken Dreams

Ere I had left Paris to join in the campaign against Prussia, I had made, and broken off, another dangerous friendship. In the compagnie d'élite was an officer named Duchesne who took a liking to me--a royalist at heart, and a cynic who was unfailing in his sneers at all the doings of Napoleon. His attitude was detected, and he was forced to resign his commission; and his slights upon the uniform I wore grew so unbearable that I abandoned his company--little guessing the revenge he would take upon me.

Once more the Grand Army was set in motion, and the hosts of France pressed upon Russia from the south and west. Napoleon turned the enemy's right flank, and compelled him to retire and concentrate his troops around Jena, which was plainly to be the scene of a great battle.

My regiment was ordered on September 13, 1806, to proceed without delay to the emperor's headquarters at Jena, and I was sent ahead to make arrangements for quarters. In the darkness I lost my way, and came upon an artillery battery stuck fast in a ravine, unable to move back or forwards. The colonel was in despair, for the whole artillery of the division was following him, and would inevitably be involved in the same mishap. Wild shouting had been succeeded by a sullen silence, when a stern voice called out: "Cannoniers, dismount; bring the torches to the front!"

When the order was obeyed, the light of the firewood fell upon the features of Napoleon himself. Instantly the work began afresh, directed by the emperor with a blazing torch in his hand. Gradually the gun-carriages were released, and began to move slowly along the ravine. Napoleon turned, and rode off at full speed in the darkness towards Jena. It was my destination, and I followed him.

He preceded me by about fifty paces--the greatest monarch of the world, alone, his thoughts bent on the great events before him. On the top of an ascent the brilliant spectacle of a thousand watch-fires met the eye. Napoleon, lost in meditation, saw nothing, and rode straight into the lines. Twice the challenge "Qui vive?" rang out. Napoleon heard it not. There was a bang of a musket, then another, and another. Napoleon threw himself from his horse, and lay flat on the ground. I dashed up, shouting, "The emperor! The emperor!" My horse was killed, and I was wounded in the shoulder; but I repeated the cry until Napoleon stepped calmly forward.

"Ye are well upon the alert, mes enfants," he said, smiling. Then, turning to me, he asked quickly, "Are you wounded?"

"A mere scratch, sire."

"Let the surgeon see to it, and do you come to headquarters when you are able."

In the morning I went to headquarters, but the emperor was busy; seemingly I was forgotten. My regiment was out of reach, so, at the invitation of my old duelling antagonist, François, I joined the Voltigeurs. My friends could not understand why, after tasting the delights of infantry fighting, I should wish to rejoin the hussars; but I went back to my old regiment after the victory, and rode with it to Berlin.

Soon after our arrival there I read my name in a general order among those on whom the Cross of the Legion was to be conferred. On the morning of the day when I was to receive the decoration, I was requested to attend the bureau of the adjutant-general. There I was confronted with Marshal Berthier, who held up a letter before me. I saw, by the handwriting, it was Duchesne's.

"There, sir, that letter belongs to you," he said. "There is enough in it to make your conduct the matter of a court-martial; but I am satisfied that a warning will be sufficient. I need hardly say that you will not receive the Cross of the Legion."

I glanced at the letter, and realised Duchesne's treachery. Knowing that all doubtful letters were opened and read by the authorities, he had sent me a letter bitterly attacking the emperor, and professing to regard me as a royalist conspirator.

Exasperated, I drew my sword.

"I resign, sir," I said. "The career I can no longer follow honourably and independently, I shall follow no more."

With a half-broken heart and faltering step, I regained my quarters; the whole dream of life was over. Broken in spirit, I made my way slowly back through Germany to Paris, and back to Ireland.

IV.--The Call of the Sword

On reaching my native country I found that my brother had died, and that I had inherited an income of £4,000 a year. I sought to forget the past. But a time came when I could resist the temptation no longer, and the first fact I read of was the burning of Moscow. As misfortune followed misfortune, an impulse came to me that it was useless to resist. My heart was among the glittering squadrons of France. I thought suddenly, was this madness? And the thought was followed by a resolve as sudden. I wrote some lines to my agent, saddled my horse, and rode away. At Verviers I offered my sword to the emperor as an old officer, and went forward in charge of a squadron to Brienne. This place was held by the Prussians, and Blücher and his Prussians were near at hand. Once more I beheld the terrific spectacle of an attack by the army of Napoleon. But alas! the attack was vain; I heard the trumpet sound a retreat. And as I turned, I saw the body of an aged general officer among a heap of slain. With a shriek of horror, I recognized the friend of my heart, General d'Auvergne. Round his neck he wore a locket with a portrait of his wife--Marie de Meudon. I detached the locket, and bade the dead a last adieu.

Why should I dwell on a career of disaster? Retreat followed retreat, until the fate of Napoleon's empire depended on the capture of the bridge of Montereau. Regiment after regiment strove to cross, only to be shattered and mangled by the tremendous fire of the enemy. Four sappers at length laid a petard beneath the gate at the other side of the bridge. But the fuse went out.

"This to the man who lights the fuse!" cried Napoleon, holding up his great Cross of the Legion.

I snatched a burning match from a gunner beside me, and rushed across the bridge. Partly protected by the high projecting parapet, I lit the fuse, and then fell, shot in the chest. My senses reeled; for a time I knew nothing; then I felt a flask pressed to my lips. I looked up, and saw Minette. "Dear, dear girl, what a brave heart is thine!" said I, as she pressed her handkerchief to my wound.

Her fingers became entangled in the ribbon of the general's locket that I had tied round my neck, and by accident the locket opened. She became deathly pale as she saw its contents; then, springing to her feet, she gave me one glance--fleeting, but how full of sorrow!--and ran to the middle of the bridge. The petard had done its work. She beckoned to the column to come on; they answered with a cheer. Presently four grenadiers fell to the rear, carrying between them the body of Minette.

They gave her a military funeral; and I was told that a giant soldier, a corporal it was thought, kneeled down to kiss her before she was covered with the earth, then lay quietly down in the grass. When they sought to move him, he was stone dead.

When I had recovered from my wound, it was nothing to me that Napoleon, besides giving me his Grand Cross, had made me general of brigade. For Napoleon was no longer emperor, and I would not serve the king who succeeded him. But ere I left France I saw Marie de Meudon, it might be, I thought, for the last time. At the sight of her my old passion returned, and I dared to utter it. I know not how incoherently the tale was told; I can but remember the bursting feeling of my bosom, as she placed her hand in mine, and said, "It is yours."


M.G. LEWIS

Ambrosio, or the Monk

There was a time--of no great duration--when Lewis' "Monk" was the most popular book in England. At the end of the eighteenth century the vogue of the "Gothic" romance of ghosts and mysteries was at its height; and this work, written in ten weeks by a young man of nineteen, caught the public fancy tremendously, and Matthew Gregory Lewis was straightway accepted as an adept at making the flesh creep. Taste changes in horrors, as in other things, and "Ambrosio, or The Monk," would give nightmares to few modern readers. Its author, who was born in London on July 9, 1775, and published "The Monk" in 1795, wrote many supernatural tales and poems, and also several plays--one of which, "The Castle Spectre," caused the hair of Drury Lane audiences to stand on end for sixty successive nights, a long run in those days. Lewis, who was a wealthy man, sat for some years in Parliament; he had many distinguished friends among men of letters--Scott and Southey contributed largely to the first volume of his "Tales of Wonder." He died on May 13, 1818.

I.--The Recluse

The Church of the Capuchins in Madrid had never witnessed a more numerous assembly than that which gathered to hear the sermon of Ambrosio, the abbot. All Madrid rang with his praises. Brought mysteriously to the abbey door while yet an infant, he had remained for all the thirty years of his life within its precincts. All his days had been spent in seclusion, study, and mortification of the flesh; his knowledge was profound, his eloquence most persuasive; his only fault was an excess of severity in judging the human feelings from which he himself was exempted.

Among the crowd that pressed into the church were two women--one elderly, the other young--who had seats offered them by two richly habited cavaliers. The younger cavalier, Don Lorenzo, discovered such exquisite beauty and sweetness in the maiden to whom he had given his seat--her name was Antonia--that when she left the church he was desperately in love with her.

He had promised to see his sister Agnes, a nun in the Convent of St. Clare; so he remained in the church, whither the nuns were presently to come to confess to the Abbot Ambrosio. As he waited he observed a man wrapped up in a cloak hurriedly place a letter beneath a statue of St. Francis, and then retire.

The nuns entered, and removed their veils out of respect to the saint to whom the building was dedicated. One of the nuns dropped her rosary beside the statue, and, as she stooped to pick it up, she dexterously removed the letter and placed it in her bosom. As she did so, the light flashed full in her face.

"Agnes, by Heaven!" cried Lorenzo.

He hastened after the cloaked stranger, and overtook him with drawn sword. Suddenly the cloaked man turned and exclaimed, "Is it possible? Lorenzo, have you forgotten Raymond de las Cisternas?"

"You here, marquis?" said the astonished Lorenzo. "You engaged in a clandestine correspondence with my sister?"

"Her affections have ever been mine, and not the Church's. She entered the convent tricked into a belief that I had been false to her; but I have proved to her that it is otherwise. She had agreed to fly with me, and my uncle, the cardinal, is securing for her a dispensation from her vows."

Raymond told at length the story of his love, and at the end Lorenzo said, "Raymond, there is no one on whom I would bestow Agnes more willingly than on yourself. Pursue your design, and I will accompany you."

Meanwhile, Agnes tremblingly advanced toward the abbot, and in her nervousness let fall the precious letter. She turned to pick it up. The abbot claimed and read it; it was the proposal of Agnes's escape with her lover that very night.

"This letter must to the prioress!" said he sternly.

"Hold father, hold!" cried Agnes, flinging herself at his feet. "Be merciful! Do not doom me to destruction!"

"Hence, unworthy wretch! Where is the prioress?"

The prioress, when she came, gazed upon Agnes with fury. "Away with her to the convent!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, Raymond, save me, save me!" shrieked the distracted Agnes. Then, casting upon the abbot a frantic look, "Hear me," she continued, "man of a hard heart! Insolent in your yet unshaken virtue, your day of trial will arrive. Think then upon your cruelty; and despair of pardon!"

II.--The Abbot's Infatuation

Leaving the church, Ambrosio bent his steps towards a grotto in the abbey garden, formed in imitation of a hermitage. On reaching the grotto, he found it already occupied. Extended upon one of the seats, lay a man in a melancholy posture, lost in meditation. Ambrosio recognised him; it was Rosario, his favourite novice, a youth of whose origin none knew anything, save that his bearing, and such of his features as accident had discovered--for he seemed fearful of being recognised, and was continually muffled up in his cowl--proved him to be of noble birth.

"You must not indulge this disposition to melancholy, Rosario," said Ambrosio tenderly.

The youth flung himself at Ambrosio's feet.

"Oh, pity me!" he cried. "How willingly would I unveil to you my heart! But I fear------"

"How shall I reassure you? Reveal to me what afflicts you, and I swear that your secret shall be safe in my keeping."

"Father," said Rosario, in faltering accents, "I am a woman!"

The abbot stood still for a moment in astonishment, then turned hastily to go. But the suppliant clasped his knees.

"Do not fly me!" she cried. "You are my beloved; but far is it from Matilda's wish to draw you from the paths of virtue. All I ask is to see you, to converse with you, to adore you!"

Confusion and resentment mingled in Ambrosio's mind with secret pleasure that a young and lovely woman had thus for his sake abandoned the world. But he recognised the need for austerity.

"Matilda," he said, "you must leave the abbey to-morrow."

"Cruel, cruel!" she exclaimed, wringing her hands in agony. "Farewell, my friend! And yet, methinks, I would fain bear with me some token of your regard."

"What shall I give you?"

"Anything--one of those flowers will be sufficient."

Ambrosio approached a bush, and stooped to pick one of the flowers. He uttered a piercing cry, and Matilda rushed towards him.

"A serpent," he said in a faint voice, "concealed among the roses."

With loud shrieks the distressed Matilda summoned assistance. Ambrosio was carried to the abbey, his wound was examined, and the surgeon pronounced that there was no hope. He had been stung by a centipedoro, and would not live three days.

Mournfully the monks left the bedside, and Ambrosio was entrusted to the care of the despairing Matilda. Next morning the surgeon was astonished to find that the inflammation had subsided, and when he probed the wound no traces of the venom were perceptible.

"A miracle! A miracle!" cried the monks. Joyfully they proclaimed that St. Francis had saved the life of their sainted abbot.

But Ambrosio was still weak and languid, and again the monks left him in Matilda's care. As he listened to an old ballad sung by her sweet voice, he found renewed pleasure in her society, and was conscious of the influence upon him of her beauty. For three days she nursed him, while he watched her with increasing fondness. But on the next day she came not. A lay-brother entered instead.

"Hasten, reverend father," said he. "Young Rosario lies at the point of death, and he earnestly requests to see you."

In deep agitation he followed the lay-brother to Matilda's apartment. Her face glowed at the sight of him. "Leave me, my brethren," she said to the monks; much have I to tell this holy man in private."

"Father, I am poisoned," she said, when they had gone, "but the poison once circulated in your veins."

"Matilda!"

"I loosened the bandage from your arm; I drew out the poison with my lips. I feel death at my heart."

"And you have sacrificed yourself for me! Is there, indeed, no hope?"

"There is but one means of life in my power--a dangerous and dreadful means; life would be purchased at too dear a rate--unless it were permitted me to live for you."

"Then live for me," cried the infatuated monk, clasping her in his arms. "Live for me!"

"Then," she cried joyfully, "no dangers shall appall me. Swear that you will never inquire by what means I shall preserve myself, and procure for me the key of the burying-ground common to us and the sisterhood of St. Clare."

When Ambrosio had obtained the key, Matilda left him. She returned radiant with joy.

"I have succeeded!" she cried. "I shall live, Ambrosio--shall live for you!"

III.--Unavailing Remorse

Raymond and Lorenzo had gone to the rendezvous appointed in the letter, and had waited to be joined by Agnes and to enable her to escape from the convent.

But Agnes had not come, and the two friends withdrew in deep mortification. Presently arrived a message from Raymond's uncle, the cardinal, enclosing the Pope's bull ordering that Agnes should be released from her vows, and restored to her relatives. Lorenzo at once conveyed the bull to the prioress.

"It is out of my power to obey this order," said she, in a voice of anger which she strove in vain to disguise. "Agnes is dead!"

Lorenzo hastened with the fatal news to Raymond, whose terrible affliction led to a dangerous illness.

One morning, as Ambrosio was leaving the chapel after listening to many penitents--he was the favourite confessor in Madrid--Antonia stepped timidly up to him and begged him to visit her mother, who was stretched on a bed of sickness. Charmed with her beauty and innocence, he consented.

The monk retired to his cell, whither he was pursued by Antonia's image. "What would be too dear a price," he meditated, "for this lovely girl's affections?"

Not once but often did Ambrosio visit Antonia and her mother; and each time he saw the innocent girl his love increased. Matilda, who had first opened his heart to love, saw the change, and penetrated his secret.

"Since your love can no longer be mine," she said to him sadly, "I request the next best gift--your confidence and friendship. You love Antonia, but you love her despairingly. I come to point out the road to success."

"Oh, impossible!"

"To those who dare, nothing is impossible. Listen! My guardian was a man of uncommon knowledge, and from him I had training in the arts of magic. One terrible power he gave me--the power of raising a demon. I shuddered at the thought of employing it, until it became my only means of saving my life--a life that you prized. For your sake I performed the mystic rites in the sepulchre of St. Clare. For your sake I will perform them again."

"No, no, Matilda!" cried the monk, "I will not ally myself with God's enemy."

"Look!" Matilda held before him a mirror of polished steel, its borders marked with various strange characters. A mist spread over the surface; it cleared, and Ambrosio gazed upon the countenance of Antonia in all its beauty.

"I yield!" he cried passionately. "Matilda, I follow you!"

They passed into the churchyard; they reached the entry to the vaults; Ambrosio tremblingly followed Matilda down the staircase. They went through narrow passages strewn with skulls and bones, and reached a spacious cavern. Matilda drew a circle around herself, and another around him; bending low, she muttered a few indistinct sentences, and a thin, blue, sulphurous flame arose from the ground.

Suddenly she uttered a piercing shriek, and plunged a poniard into her left arm; the blood poured down, a dark cloud arose, and a clap of thunder was heard. Then a full strain of melodious music sounded and the demon stood before them.

He was a youth of perfect face and form. Crimson wings extended from his shoulders; many-coloured fires played about his locks; but there was a wildness in his eyes, a mysterious melancholy in his features, that betrayed the fallen angel.

Matilda conversed with him in unintelligible language; he bowed submissively, and gave to her a silver branch, imitating myrtle, that he bore in his right hand. The music was heard again, and ceased; the cloud spread itself afresh; the demon vanished.

"With this branch," said Matilda, "every door will open before you. You may gain access to Antonia; a touch of the branch will send her into a deep sleep, and you may carry her away whither you will."

Ashamed and fearful, yet borne away by his love, the monk set forth. The bolts of Antonia's house flew back, and the doors opened before the silver myrtle.

But as he passed stealthily through the house a woman confronted him. It was Antonia's mother, roused by a fearful dream.

"Monster of hypocrisy!" she cried in fury. "I had already suspected you, but I kept silence. Now I will unmask you, villain!"

"Forgive me, lady!" begged the terrified monk. "I swear by all that is holy------"

"No! All Madrid shall shudder at your perfidy."

He turned to fly. She seized him and screamed for help. He grasped her by the throat with all his strength, strangled her, and flung her to the ground, where she lay motionless. After a minute of horror-struck shuddering, the murderer fled. He entered the abbey unobserved, and having shut himself into his cell, he abandoned his soul to the tortures of unavailing remorse.

IV.--A Living Death

"Do not despair," counselled Matilda, when the monk revealed his failure. "Your crime is unsuspected. Antonia may still be yours. The prioress of St. Clare has a mysterious liquor, the effect of which is to give those who drink it the appearance of death for three days. Procure some of this liquor, visit Antonia, and cause her to drink it; have her body conveyed to a sepulchre in the vaults of St. Clare."

Ambrosio hastened to secure a phial of the mysterious potion. He went to comfort Antonia in her distress, and contrived to pour a few drops from the phial into a draught that she was taking. In a few hours he heard that she was dead, and her body was conveyed to the vaults.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo had learned, not indeed that his sister was alive, but that she had been the victim of terrible cruelty. A nun, who had been Agnes's friend, hinted at atrocious vengeance taken by the prioress for Agnes's attempt to escape. She suggested that Lorenzo should bring the officers of the Inquisition with him and arrest the prioress during a public procession of the nuns in honour of St Clare.

Accordingly, as the prioress passed along the street among her nuns with a devout and sanctified air, the officers advanced and arrested her.

"Ah!" she cried frantically, "I am betrayed!"

"Betrayed!" replied the nun who had revealed the secret to Lorenzo. "I charge the prioress with murder!"

She told how Agnes had been secretly poisoned by the prioress. The mob, mad with indignation, rushed to the convent determined to destroy it. Lorenzo and the officers hastened to endeavour to do what they could to save the convent and the terrified nuns who had taken refuge there.

Antonia's heart throbbed, her eyes opened; she raised herself and cast a wild look around her. Her clothing was a shroud; she lay in a coffin among other coffins in a damp and hideous vault. Confronting her with a lantern in his hand, and eyeing her greedily, stood Ambrosio.

"Where am I?" she said abruptly. "How came I here? Let me go!"

"Why these terrors, Antonia?" replied the abbot. "What fear you from me--from one who adores you? You are imagined dead; society is for ever lost to you. You are absolutely in my power!"

She screamed, and strove to escape; he clutched at her and struggled to detain her. Suddenly Matilda entered in haste.

"The mob has set fire to the convent," she said to Ambrosio, "and the abbey is in danger. Don Lorenzo and the officers are searching the vaults. You cannot escape; you must remain here. They may not, perhaps, enter this vault."

Antonia heard that rescue was at hand.

"Help! help!" she screamed, and ran out of the vault. The abbot pursued her in desperation; he caught her; he could not stifle her cries. Frantic in his desire to escape, he grasped Matilda's dagger, plunged it twice in the bosom of Antonia, and fled back to the vault. It was too late he had been seen, the glare of torches filled the vault, and Ambrosio and Matilda were seized and bound by the officers of the Inquisition.

Meanwhile, Lorenzo, running to and fro, had flashed his lantern upon a creature so wretched, so emaciated, that he doubted to think her woman. He stopped petrified with horror.

"Two days, and yet no food!" she moaned. "No hope, no comfort!" Suddenly she looked up and addressed him.

"Do you bring me food, or do you bring me death?"

"I come," he replied, "to relieve your sorrows."

"God, is it possible? Oh, yes! Yes, it is!"--she fainted. Lorenzo carried her in his arms to the nuns above.

Loud shrieks summoned him below again. Hastening after the officers, he saw a woman bleeding on the ground. He went to her; it was his beloved Antonia. She was dying; with a few sweet words of farewell, her spirit passed away.

Broken-hearted, he returned. He had lost Antonia, but he was to learn that Agnes was restored to him. The woman he had rescued was indeed his sister, saved from a living death and brought back to life and love.

V.--Lucifer

Ambrosio was tortured into confession, and condemned to be burned at the stake. Matilda, terrified at the sight of her fellow-criminal's torments, confessed without torture, and was sentenced to be burned at his side.

They were to perish at midnight, and as the monk, in panic-stricken despair, awaited the awful hour, suddenly Matilda stood before him, beautifully attired, with a look of wild pleasure in her eyes.

"Matilda!" he cried, "how have you gained entrance?"

"Ambrosio," she replied, "I am free. For life and liberty I have sold my soul to Lucifer. Dare you do the same?"

The monk shuddered.

"I cannot renounce my God," he said.

"Fool! What hope have you of God's mercy?" She handed him a book. "If you repent of your folly, read the first four lines in the seventh page backwards." She vanished.

A fearful struggle raged in the monk's spirit. What hope had he in any case of escaping eternal torment? And yet--was not the Almighty's mercy infinite? Then the thought of the stake and the flames entered his mind and appalled him.

At last the fatal hour came. The steps of his gaolers were heard in the passage. In uttermost terror he opened the book and ran over the lines, and straightway the fiend appeared--not seraph-like as when he appeared formerly, but dark, hideous, and gigantic, with hissing snakes coiling around his brows.

He placed a parchment before Ambrosio.

"Bear me hence!" cried the monk.

"Will you be mine, body and soul?" said the demon. "Resolve while there is time!"

"I must!"

"Sign, then!" Lucifer thrust a pen into the flesh of Ambrosio's arm, and the monk signed. A moment later he was carried through the roof of the dungeon into mid-air.

The demon bore him with arrow-like speed to the brink of a precipice in the Sierra Morena.

"Carry me to Matilda!" gasped the monk.

"Wretch!" answered Lucifer. "For what did you stipulate but rescue from the Inquisition? Learn that when you signed, the steps in the corridor were the steps of those who were bringing you a pardon. But now you are mine beyond reprieve, to all eternity, and alive you quit not these mountains."

Darting his talons into the monk's shaven crown, he sprang with him from the rock. From a dreadful height he flung him headlong, and the torrent bore away with it the shattered corpse of Ambrosio.


ELIZA LYNN LINTON

Joshua Davidson

Mrs. Lynn Linton, daughter of a vicar of Crosthwaite, was born at Keswick, England, Feb. 10, 1822. At the age of three-and-twenty she embarked on a literary career, and as a journalist, magazine contributor, and novelist wrote vigorously for over fifty years. Before her marriage, in 1858, to W.J. Linton, the eminent wood-engraver, who was also a poet, she had served on the staff of the "Morning Chronicle," as Paris correspondent. Later, she contributed to "All the Year Round," and to the "Saturday Review." After nine years of married life, the Lintons parted amicably. In 1872 Mrs. Lynn Linton published "The True History of Joshua Davidson," a powerfully simple story that has had much influence on working-class thought. "Christopher Kirkland," a later story, is largely autobiographical. Mrs. Linton died in London on July 14, 1898. She was a trenchant critic of what she regarded as tendencies towards degeneration in modern women.

I.--A Cornish Christ

Joshua Davidson was the only son of a village carpenter, born in the small hamlet of Trevalga, on the North Cornwall coast, in the year 1835. There was nothing very remarkable about Joshua's childhood. He was always a quiet, thoughtful boy, and from his earliest years noticeably pious. He had a habit of asking why, and of reasoning out a principle, from quite a little lad, which displeased people, so that he did not get all the credit from the schoolmaster and the clergyman to which his diligence and good conduct entitled him.

He was never well looked on by the vicar since a famous scene that took place in the church one Sunday. After catechism was over, Joshua stood out before the rest, just in his rough country clothes as he was, and said very respectfully to the vicar, "Mr. Grand, if you please I would like to ask you a few questions."

"Certainly, my lad. What have you to say?" said Mr. Grand rather shortly.

"If we say, sir, that Jesus Christ was God," said Joshua, "surely all that He said and did must be real right? There cannot be a better way than His?"

"Surely not, my lad," Mr. Grand made answer.

"And His apostles and disciples, they showed the way, too?" said Joshua.

"And they showed the way, too, as you say; and if you come up to half they taught you'll do well, Joshua."

The vicar laughed a little laugh as he said this, but it was a laugh, Joshua's mother said, that seemed to mean the same thing as a "scat"--our Cornish word for a blow--only the boy didn't seem to see it.

"Yes; but, sir, if we are Christians, why don't we live as Christians?" said Joshua.

"Ah, indeed, why don't we?" said Mr. Grand. "Because of the wickedness of the human heart; because of the world, the flesh, and the devil."

"Then, sir, if you feel this, why don't you and all the clergy live like the apostles, and give what you have to the poor?" cried Joshua, clasping his hands and making a step forward, the tears in his eyes.

"Why do you live in a fine house, and have grand dinners, and let Peggy Bray nearly starve in that old mud hut of hers, and Widow Tregellis there, with her six children, and no fire or clothing for them? I can't make it out, sir!"

"Who has been putting these bad thoughts into your head?" said Mr. Grand sternly.

"No one, sir. I have been thinking for myself. Michael, out by Lion's Den, is called an infidel--he calls himself one. And you preached last Sunday that no infidel can be saved. But Michael helped Peggy and her child when the orphan fund people took away her pension; and he worked early and late for Widow Tregellis and her children, and shared with them all he had, going short for them many a time. And I can't help thinking, sir, that Christ would have helped Peggy, and that Michael, being an infidel and such a good man, is something like that second son in the parable who said he would not do his Lord's will when he was ordered, but who went all the same------"

"And that your vicar is like the first?" interrupted Mr. Grand angrily.

"Well, yes, sir, if you please," said Joshua quite modestly, but very fervently.

There was a stir among the ladies and gentlemen when Joshua said this; and some laughed a little, under their breath, and others lifted up their eyebrows and said, "What an extraordinary boy!" But Mr. Grand was very angry, and said, in a severe tone, "These things are beyond the knowledge of an ignorant lad like you, Joshua. I consider you have done a very impertinent thing to-day, and I shall mark you for it!"

"I meant no harm. I meant only the truth and to hear the things of God," repeated Joshua sadly, as he took his seat among his companions, who tittered.

And so Joshua was not well looked on by the clergyman, who was his enemy, as one may say, ever after.

"Mother," said Joshua, "I mean, when I grow up, to live as our Lord and Saviour lived when He was on the earth."

"He is our example, lad," said his mother. "But I doubt lest you fall by over-boldness."

II.--Faith That Moveth Mountains

Joshua did not leave home early. He wrought at his father's bench, and was content to bide with his people. But his spirit was not dead if his life was uneventful. He gathered about him a few youths of his own age, and held with them prayer-meetings and Bible readings, either at home in his father's house, or in the fields when the throng was too great for the cottage.

No one ever knew Joshua tell the shadow of a lie, or go back from his word, or play at pretence. And he had such an odd way of coming right home to us. He seemed to have felt all that we felt, and to have thought all our thoughts.

The youths that Joshua got together as his friends were as well-conditioned a set of lads as you would wish to see--sober, industrious, chaste. Their aim was to be thorough and like Christ. Joshua's great hope was to bring back the world to the simplicity and broad humanity of Christ's acted life, and he could not understand how it had been let drop.

He was but a young man at this time, remember--enthusiastic, with little or no scientific knowledge, and putting the direct interposition of God above the natural law. Wherefore, he accepted the text about faith removing mountains as literally true. And one evening he went down into the Rocky Valley, earnest to try conclusions with God's promise, and sure of proving it true.

He prayed to God to grant us this manifestation--to redeem His promise. Not a shadow of doubt chilled or slacked him. As he stood there in the softening twilight, with his arms raised above his head and his face turned up to the sky, his countenance glowed as Moses' of old. He seemed inspired, transported beyond himself, beyond humanity.

He commanded the stone to move in God's name, and because Christ had promised. But the rock stood still, and a stonechat went and perched on it.

Another time he took up a viper in his hand, quoting the passage, "They shall take up serpents." But the beast stung him, and he was ill for days after.

"Take my advice," said the doctor. "Put all these thoughts out of your head. Get some work to do in a new part of the country, fall in love with some nice girl, and marry as soon as you can make a home for her. That's the only life for you, depend upon it."

"God has given me other thoughts," said Joshua, "and I must obey them."

The doctor said afterwards that he was quite touched at the lad's sweetness and wrong-headedness combined.

The failure of these trials of faith perplexed us all, and profoundly afflicted Joshua. "Friends," he said at last, "it seems to me--indeed, I think we must all see it now--that His Word is not to be accepted literally. The laws of nature are supreme, and even faith cannot change them. Can it be," he then said solemnly, "that much of the Word is a parable--that Christ was truly, as He says of Himself, the corner-stone, but not the whole building--and that we have to carry on the work in His spirit, but in our own way, and not merely to try and repeat His acts?"

It was after this that we noticed a certain restlessness in Joshua. But in time he had an offer to go up to London to follow his trade at a large house in the City, and got me a job as well, that I might be alongside of him. For we were like brothers. A few days before he went, Joshua happened to be coming out of his father's workshop just as Mr. Grand was passing, driving the neat pair-horse phaeton he had lately bought.

"Well, Joshua, and how are you doing? And why have you not been to church lately?" said the parson, pulling up.

"Well, sir," said Joshua, "I don't go to church, you know."

"A new light on your own account, hey?" and he laughed as if he mocked him.

"No, sir; only a seeker."

"The old path's not good enough for you?"

"I must answer for my conscience to God, sir," said Joshua.

"And your clergyman, appointed by God and the state to be your guide, what of him? Has he no authority in his own parish?"

"Look here, sir," said Joshua, quite respectfully; "I deny your appointment as a God-given leader of souls. The Church is but the old priesthood as it existed in the days of our Lord. I see no sacrifice of the world, no brotherhood with the poor----"

"The poor!" interrupted Mr. Grand disdainfully. "What would you have, you young fool? The poor have the laws of their country to protect them, and the Gospel preached to them for their salvation."

"Why, sir, the poor of our day are the lepers of Christ's, and who among you Christian priests consorts with them? Who ranks the man above his station, or the soul above the man?"

"Now we have come to it!" cried Mr. Grand. "I thought I should touch the secret spring at last! And you would like us to associate with you as equals--is that it, Joshua? Gentlemen and common men hob-and-nob together, and no distinctions made? You to ride in our carriages, and perhaps marry our daughters?"

"That's just it, sir. You are gentlemen, as you say, but not the followers of Christ. If you were, you would have no carriages to ride in, and your daughters would be what Martha and Mary and Lydia and Dorcas were, and their title to ladyhood founded on their degrees of goodness."

"Shall I tell you what would be the very thing for you," said Mr. Grand, quite quietly.

"Yes, sir; what?" asked Joshua eagerly.

"This whip across your shoulders! And, by George, if I were not a clergyman, I would lay it there with a will!" cried the parson.

No one had ever seen Joshua angry since he had grown up. His temper was proverbially sweet, and his self-control was a marvel. But this time he lost both.

"God shall smite thee, thou white wall!" he cried with vehemence. "You are the gentleman, sir, and I am only a poor carpenter's son; but I spurn you with a deeper and more solemn scorn than you have spurned me!"

He lifted his hand as he said this, with a strange and passionate gesture, then turned himself about and went in, and Mr. Grand drove off more his ill-wisher than before. He also made old Davidson, Joshua's father, suffer for his son, for he took away his custom from him, and did him what harm in the neighbourhood a gentleman's ill word can do a working man.

III.--Is Christ's Way Livable?

In London a new view of life opened to Joshua. The first thing that struck him in our workshop was the avowed infidelity of the workmen. Distrust had penetrated to their inmost souls. Christianity represents to the poor, not Christ tender to the sinful, visiting the leprous, the brother of publicans, at Whose feet sat the harlots and were comforted, but the gentleman taking sides with God against the poor and oppressed, an elder brother in the courts of heaven kicking the younger out of doors.

At this time Joshua's mind was like an unpiloted vessel. He was beset with doubts, in which the only thing that kept its shape or place was the character of Christ. For the rest, everything had failed him. During this time he did not neglect what I suppose may be called the secular life. He attended all such science classes as he had time for, and being naturally quick in study, he picked up a vast deal of knowledge in a very short time; he interested himself in politics, in current social questions, specially those relating to labour and capital, and in the condition of the poor.

So his time passed, till at last one evening, "Friends," he said, "I have at last cleared my mind and come to a belief. I have proved to myself the sole meaning of Christ: it is humanity. The modern Christ would be a politician. His aim would be to raise the whole platform of society. He would work at the destruction of caste, which is the vice at the root of all our creeds and institutions. He would accept the truths of science, and He would teach that a man saves his own soul best by helping his neighbour. Friends, the doctrine I have chosen for myself is Christian Communism, and my aim will be, the life after Christ in the service of humanity."

It was this which made him begin his "night school," where he got together all who would come, and tried to interest them in a few homely truths in the way of cleanliness, health, good cooking, and the like, with interludes, so to speak, of lessons in morality.

We lodged in a stifling court, Church Court, where every room was filled as if cubic inches were gold, as indeed they are to London house-owners, if human life is but dross. Opposite us lived Mary Prinsep, who was what the world calls lost--a bad girl--a castaway--but I have reason to speak well of her, for to her we owe the life of Joshua. Joshua fell ill in our wretched lodgings, where we lived and did for ourselves, and I was obliged to leave him for twelve hours and more at a stretch; but Mary Prinsep came over and nursed him, and kept him alive. We helped her all we could, and she helped us. This got us the name of associating with bad women.

Among the rest of the doubtful characters with which our court abounded was one Joe Traill, who had been in prison many a time for petty larceny and the like. He was one of those who stink in the nostrils of cleanly, civilised society, and who are its shame and secret sore. There was no place for Joe in this great world of ours. He said to Joshua one night in his blithe way that there was nothing for him but to make a running fight for it, now up, now down, as his luck went.

"Burglary's a bad trade," said Joshua.

"Only one I've got at my fingers' ends, governor," laughed the thief; "and starvation is a worse go than quod."

"Well, till you've learned a better, share with us," said Joshua. So now we had a reformed burglar and a reformed prostitute in our little circle.

"It is what Christ would have done," said Joshua, when he was remonstrated with.

But the police did not see it. Wherefore, "from information received," Joshua and I were called up before the master, and had our dismissal from the shop, and we found ourselves penniless in the wilds of London. But Joshua was undisturbed. He told both Joe and Mary that he would not forsake them, come what might.

It was a hard time, and, bit by bit, everything we possessed passed over the pawnbroker's counter, even to our tools. But when we were at the worst Joshua received a letter enclosing a five-pound note, "from a friend." We never knew where it came from, and there was no clue by which we could guess. Immediately after both Joshua and I got a job, and Joe and Mary still bided with us.

Joshua's life of work and endeavour brought with it no reward of praise or popularity. It suffered the fate of all unsectarianism, and made him to be as one man in the midst of foes. He soon began to see that the utmost he could do was only palliative and temporary. So he turned to class organisation as something more hopeful than private charity. When the International Workingmen's Association was formed, he joined it as one of its first members; indeed, he mainly helped to establish it. And though he never got the ear of the International, because he was so truly liberal, he had some little influence, and what influence he had ennobled their councils as they have never been ennobled since.

One evening Joe Traill, who had been given a situation, came into the night school staggering drunk, and made a commotion, and though Joshua quieted him, after being struck by him, the police, attracted by the tumult, came up into the room and marched Joshua and myself off to the police station, where we were locked up for the night. As we had to be punished, reason or none, we were both sent to prison for a couple of weeks next morning.

Well, Christ was the criminal of his day!

Such backslidings and failures at that of Joe Traill were among the greatest difficulties of Joshua's work. Men and women whom he had thought he had cleansed and set on a wholesome way of living, turned back again to the drink and the deviltry of their lives, and the various sectarians who came along all agreed that the cause of his failures was--Joshua was not a Christian!

Next a spasmodic philanthropist, Lord X., struck up a friendship with Joshua, who, he said, wanted, as a background, a man of position. This led to Joshua's first introduction into a wealthy house of the upper classes, and the luxury and lavishness almost stupefied him. Lady X. liked Joshua, and felt he was a master-spirit, but when she came to Church Court, and found out what Mary had been, she went away offended, and we saw her no more.

IV.--The Pathway of Martyrdom

Sometimes Joshua went as a lecturer to various towns, for his political associates were willing to use his political zeal, though they did not go in for his religious views. He insisted on the need of the working classes raising themselves to a higher level in mind and circumstance, and on the right of each man to a fair share of the primary essentials for good living. His discourses roused immense antagonism, and he was sometimes set upon and severely handled by the men to whom he spoke. I have known swindlers and murderers more gently entreated. When, after the war between France and Prussia the Commune declared itself in Paris, Joshua went over to help, as far as he could, in the cause of humanity. I went with him, and poor, loving, faithful Mary followed us. But there, notwithstanding all that we and others of like mind could do, blood was shed which covered liberty with shame, and in the confusion that followed Mary was shot as a pétroleuse while she was succouring the wounded. We buried her tenderly, and I laid part of my life in her grave.

On our return Joshua was regarded as the representative of social destruction and godless licence, for the very name of the Commune was a red rag to English thought.

At last we came to a place called Lowbridge, where Joshua was announced to lecture on Communism in the town hall. Grave as he always was, that night he was grave to sadness, like a martyr going to his death. He shook hands with me before going on the platform, and said, "God bless you, John; you have been a true friend to me."

In the first row in front of him was the former clergyman of Trevalga, Mr. Grand, who had lately been given the rich living of Lowbridge and one or two stately cathedral appointments. At the first word Joshua spoke there broke out such a tumult as I had never heard in any public meeting. The yells, hisses, cat-calls, whoopings, were indescribable. It only ceased when Mr. Grand rose, and standing on a chair, appealed to the audience to "Give him your minds, my men, and let him understand that Lowbridge is no place for a godless rascal like him."

I will do Mr. Grand the justice to say I do not think he intended his words to have the effect they did have. A dozen men leaped on the platform, and in a moment I saw Joshua under their feet. They had it all their own way, and while he lay on the ground, pale and senseless, one, with a fearful oath, kicked him twice on the head. Suddenly a whisper went round, they all drew a little, way off, the gas was turned down, and the place cleared as if by magic. When the lights were up again, I went to lift him--and he was dead.

The man who had lived the life after Christ more exactly than any human being ever known to me was killed by the Christian party of order. So the world has ever disowned its best when they came.

The death of my friend has left me not only desolate but uncertain. Like Joshua in earlier days, my mind is unpiloted and unanchored. Everywhere I see the sifting of competition, and nowhere Christian protection of weakness; everywhere dogma adored, and nowhere Christ realised. And again I ask, Which is true--modern society in its class strife and consequent elimination of its weaker elements, or the brotherhood and communism taught by the Jewish Carpenter of Nazareth? Who will answer me? Who will make the dark thing clear?


SAMUEL LOVER

Handy Andy

Samuel Lover, born at Dublin on February 24, 1797, was the most versatile man of his age. He was a song-writer, a novelist, a painter, a dramatist, and an entertainer; and in each of these parts he was remarkably successful. In 1835 he came to London, and set up as a miniature painter; then he turned to literature, and in "Rory O'More," published in 1837, and "Handy Andy, a Tale of Irish Life," which appeared in 1842, he took the town. Lover was a typical Irishman of the old school--high-spirited, witty, and jovially humorous; and his work is informed with a genuine Irish raciness that gives it a perennial freshness. He is a man gaily in love with life, and with a quick eye for all the varied humours of it. "Handy Andy" is one of the most amusing books ever written; a roaring farce, written by a man who combined the liveliest sense of fun with a painter's gift of portraying real character in a few vivid touches. Samuel Lover died on July 6, 1868.

I.--The Squire Gets a Surprise

Andy Rooney was a fellow with a most ingenious knack of doing everything the wrong way. "Handy" Andy was the nickname the neighbours stuck on him, and the poor simple-minded lad liked the jeering jingle. Even Mrs. Rooney, who thought that her boy was "the sweetest craythur the cun shines on," preferred to hear him called "Handy Andy" rather than "Suds."

For sad memories attached to the latter nickname. Knowing what a hard life Mrs. Rooney had had--she had married a stranger, who disappeared a month after marriage, so Andy came into the world with no father to beat a little sense into him--Squire Egan of Merryvale engaged the boy as a servant. One of the first things that Andy was called upon to do was to wait at table during an important political dinner given by the squire. Andy was told to ice the champagne, and the wine and a tub of ice were given to him.

"Well, this is the quarest thing I ever heered of," said Andy. "Musha! What outlandish inventions the quality has among them! They're not content with wine, but they must have ice along with it--and in a tub, too, like pigs! Troth, its a' dirty thrick, I think. But here goes!" said he; and opening a bottle of champagne, he poured it into the tub with the ice.

Andy distinguished himself right at the beginning of the dinner. One of the guests asked him for soda-water.

"Would you like it hot or cold, sir?" he said.

"Never mind," replied the guest, with a laugh. But Andy was anxious to please, and the squire's butler met him hurrying to the kitchen, bewildered, but still resolute.

"One of the gintlemen wants some soap and wather with his wine," exclaimed Andy. "Shall I give it hot or cold?"

The distracted and irate butler took Andy to the sideboard and pushed a small soda into his hand, saying, "Cut the cord, you fool!" Andy took it gingerly, and holding it over the table, carried out the order. Bang I went the bottle, and the cork, after knocking out two of the lights, struck the squire in the eye, while the hostess had a cold bath down her back. Poor Andy, frightened by the soda-water jumping out of the bottle, kept holding it out at arm's-length, exclaiming at every fizz, "Ow, ow, ow!"

"Send that fellow out of the room," said the squire to the butler, "and bring in the champagne."

In staggered Andy with the tub.

"Hand it round the table," said the squire.

Andy tried to lift up the tub "to hand it round the table," but finding he could not, he whispered, "I can't get it up, sir!"

"Draw it then," murmured his master, thinking that Andy meant he had got a bottle which was not effervescent enough to expel its own cork.

"Here it is," said Andy, pulling the tub up to the squire's chair.

"What do you mean, you stupid rascal?" exclaimed the squire, staring at the strange stuff before him. "There's not a single bottle there!"

"To be sure there's no bottle there, sir," said Andy. "I've poured every dhrop of wine in the ice, as you towld me, sir. If you put your hand down into it, you'll feel it."

A wild roar of laughter uprose from the listening guests. Happily they were now too merry to be upset by the mishap, and it was generally voted that the joke was worth twice as much as the wine. Handy Andy was, however, expelled from the dining-room in disgrace, and for days kept out of his master's way, and the servants for months would call him by no other name but "Suds."

II.--O'Grady Gets a Blister

Mr. Egan was a kind-hearted man, and, instead of dismissing Andy, he kept him on for out-door work. Our hero at once distinguished himself in his new walk of life.

"Ride into the town and see if there is a letter for me," said the squire.

"I want a letther, if you plaze!" shouted Andy, rushing into the post-office.

"Who do you want it for?" asked the postmaster.

"What consarn is that o' yours?" exclaimed Andy.

Happily, a man who knew Andy looked in for a letter, paid the postage of fourpence on it, and then settled the dispute between Andy and the postmaster by mentioning Mr. Egan's name.

"Why didn't you tell me you came from the squire?" said the postmaster. "Here's a letter for him. Elevenpence postage."

"Elevenpence postage!" Andy cried. "Didn't I see you give that man a letther for fourpence, and a bigger letther than this? Do you think I'm a fool?"

"No," said the postmaster; "I'm sure of it."

He walked off to serve another customer, and Andy meditated. His master wanted the letter badly, so he would have to pay the exorbitant price. He snatched two other letters from the heap on the counter while the postmaster's back was turned, paid the elevenpence, received the epistle to which he was entitled, and rode home triumphant.

"Look at that!" he exclaimed, slapping the three letters down under his broad fist on the table before the astonished squire. "He made me pay elevenpence, by gor! But I've brought your honour the worth of your money, anyhow."

"Well, by the powers!" said the squire, as Andy stalked out of the room with an air of supreme triumph. "That's the most extraordinary genius I ever came across!"

He read the letter for which he had been anxiously waiting. It was from his lawyer about the forthcoming election. In it he was warned to beware of his friend O'Grady, who was selling his interest to the government candidate.

"So that's the work O'Grady's at!" exclaimed the squire angrily. "Foul, foul! And after all the money I lent him, too!"

He threw down the letter, and his eye caught the other two that Andy had stolen.

"More of that mad fool's work! Robbing the mail now. That's a hanging job. I'd better send them to the parties to whom they're addressed."

Picking up one of the epistles, he found it was a government letter directed to his new enemy, O'Grady. "All's fair in war," thought the squire, and pinching the letter until it gaped, he peeped in and read: "As you very properly remark, poor Egan is a spoon--a mere spoon." "Am I a spoon, your villain!" roared the squire, tearing the letter and throwing it into the fire. "I'm a spoon you'll sup sorrow with yet!"

"Get out a writ on O'Grady for all the money he owes me," he wrote to his lawyer. "Send me the blister, and I'll slap it on him."

Unfortunately, he sent Andy with this letter; still more unfortunately, Mrs. Egan also gave the simple fellow a prescription to be made up at the chemist's. Andy surpassed himself on this occasion. He called at the chemist's on his way back from the lawyer's, and carefully laid the sealed envelope containing the writ on the counter, while he was getting the medicine. On leaving, he took up a different envelope.

"My dear Squire," ran the letter Andy brought back, "I send you the blister for O'Grady, as you insist on it; but I don't think you will find it easy to serve him with it.--Your obedient, MURTOUGH MURPHY."

When the squire opened the accompanying envelope, and found within a real instead of a figurative blister, he grew crimson with rage. But he was consoled when he went to horsewhip his attorney, and met the chemist pelting down the street with O'Grady tearing after him with a cudgel. For some years O'Grady had successfully kept out of his door every process-server sent by his innumerable creditors; but now, having got a cold, he had dispatched his man to the chemist for a blister, and owing to Handy Andy, he obtained Squire Egan's writ against him.

"You've made a mistake this time, you rascal," said the squire to Andy, "for which I'll forgive you."

And this was only fair, for through it he was able to carry the election, and become Edward Egan, Esq., M.P.

III.--Andy Gets Married

Andy was among the guests invited to the wedding feast of pretty Matty Dwyer and handsome young James Casey; like everybody else he came to the marriage full of curiosity. Matty's father, John Dwyer, was a hard, close-fisted fellow, and, as all the neighbours knew, there had been many fierce disputes between him and Casey over the question of a farm belonging to Dwyer going into the marriage settlement.

A grand dinner was laid in the large barn, but it was kept waiting owing to the absence of the bridegroom. Father Phil, the kindly, jovial parish priest, who had come to help James and Matty "tie with their tongues the knot they couldn't undo with their teeth," had not broken his fast that day, and wanted the feast to go on. To the great surprise of the company, Matty backed him, and full of life and spirits, began to lay the dinner. For some time the hungry guests were busy with the good cheer provided for them, but the women at last asked in loud whispers, "Where in the world is James Casey?" Still the bride kept up her smiles, but old Jack Dwyer's face grew blacker and blacker. Unable to bear the strain any longer, he stood up and addressed the expectant crowd.

"You see the disgrace that's put on me!"

"He'll come yet, sir," said Andy.

"No, he won't!" cried Dwyer, "I see he won't. He wanted to get everything his own way, and he thinks to disgrace me in doing what he likes, but he shan't;" and he struck the table fiercely. "He goes back of his bargain now, thinkin' I'll give in to him; but I won't. Friends and neighbours, here's the lease of the three-cornered field below there and a snug little cottage, and it's ready for my girl to walk in with the man that will have her! If there's a man among you here that's willing, let him say the word, and I'll give her to him!"

Matty tried to protest, but her father silenced her with a terrible look. When old Dwyer's blood was up, he was capable of murder. No guest dared to speak.

"Are yiz all dumb?" shouted Dwyer. "It's not every day a farm and a fine girl falls in a man's way."

Still no one spoke, and Andy thought they were using Dwyer and his daughter badly.

"Would I do, sir?" he timidly said.

Andy was just the last man Dwyer would have chosen, but he was determined that someone should marry the girl, and show Casey "the disgrace should not be put on him." He called up Andy and Matty, and asked the priest to marry them.

"I can't, if your daughter objects," said Father Phil.

Dwyer turned on the girl, and there was the devil in his eye.

"I'll marry him," said Matty.

So the rites and blessings of the Church were dispensed between two persons who an hour before had never given a thought to each other. Yet it was wonderful with what lightness of heart Matty went through the honours consequent on a peasant bridal in Ireland. She gaily led off the dance with Andy, and the night was far spent before the bride and bridegroom were escorted to the cottage which was to be their home.

Matty sat quiet, looking at the fire, while Andy bolted the door; but when he tried to kiss her she leaped up furiously.

"I'll crack your silly head if you don't behave yourself," she cried, seizing a stool and brandishing it above him.

"Oh, wirra, wirra!" said Andy. "Aren't you my wife? Why did you marry me?"

"Did I want owld Jack Dwyer to murther me as soon as the people's backs was turned?" said Matty. "But though I'm afraid of him, I'm not afraid of you!"

"Och!" cried poor Andy, "what'll be the end of it?"

There was a tap at the door as he spoke, and Matty ran and opened it.

In came James Casey and half a dozen strong young fellows. Behind them crept a reprobate, degraded priest who got his living and his name of "Couple-Beggar" by performing irregular marriages. The end of it was that Matty was married over again to Casey, whom she had sent for while the dancing was going on. Poor Andy, bound hand and foot, was carried out of the cottage to a lonely by-way, and there he passed his wedding-night roped to the stump of an old tree.

IV.--Andy Gets Married Again

Misfortunes now accumulated on Andy's head. At break of day he was released from the tree-stump by Squire Egan, who was riding by with some bad news for the man he thought was now a happy bridegroom. Owing to an indiscreet word dropped by our simple-minded hero, a gang of smugglers, who ran an illicit still on the moors, had gathered something about Andy stealing the letters from the post-office and Squire Egan burning them. They had already begun to blackmail the squire, and in order to defeat them it was necessary to get Andy out of the country for some time. So nothing could be done against Casey.

And, on going home to prepare for a journey to England with a friend of the squire's, Andy found his mother in a sad state of anxiety. His pretty cousin, Oonah, was crying in a corner of the room, and Ragged Nance, an unkempt beggar-woman, to whom the Rooneys had done many a good turn, was screaming, "I tell you Shan More means to carry off Oonah to-night. I heard them laying the plan for it."

"We'll go to the squire," sobbed Mrs. Rooney. "The villain durst not!"

"He's got the squire under his thumb, I tell you," replied Ragged Nance. "You must look after yourselves. I've got it," she said, turning to Andy. "We'll dress him as a girl, and let the smugglers take him."

Andy roared with laughter at the notion of being made a girl of. Though Shan More was the blackguardly leader of the smugglers who were giving the squire trouble, Andy was too taken up with the fun of being transformed into the very rough likeness of a pleasing young woman to think of the danger. It was difficult to give his angular form the necessary roundness of outline; but Ragged Nance at last padded him out with straw, and tied a bonnet on his head to shade his face, saying, "That'll deceive them. Shan More won't come himself. He'll send some of his men, and they're all dhrunk already."

"But they'll murdher my boy when they find out the chate," said Mrs. Rooney.

"Suppose they did," exclaimed Andy stoutly; "I'd rather die, sure, than the disgrace should fall upon Oonah there."

"God bless you, Andy dear!" said Oonah.

The tramp of approaching horses rang through the stillness of the night, and Oonah and Nance ran out and crouched in the potato tops in the garden. Four drunken vagabonds broke into the cottage, and, seeing Andy in the dim light clinging to his mother, they dragged him away and lifted him on a horse, and galloped off with him.

As it happened, luck favoured Andy. When he came to the smugglers' den, Shan More was lying on the ground stunned, and his sister, Red Bridget, was tending him; in going up the ladder from the underground whisky-still, he had fallen backward. The upshot was that Andy was left in charge of Red Bridget. But, alas! just as he was hoping to escape, she penetrated through his disguise. More unfortunately still, Andy was, with all his faults, a rather good-looking young fellow, and Red Bridget took a fancy to him, and the "Couple-Beggar" was waiting for a job.

Smugglers' whisky is very strong, and Bridget artfully plied him with it. Andy was still rather dazed when he reached home next morning.

"I've married again," he said to his mother.

"Married?" interrupted Oonah, growing pale. "Who to?"

"Shan More's sister," said Andy.

"Wirasthru!" screamed Mrs. Rooney, tearing her cap off her head. "You got the worst woman in Ireland."

"Then I'll go and 'list for a sojer," said he.

V.--Andy Gets Married a Third Time

It was Father Phil that brought the extraordinary news to Squire Egan.

"Do you remember those two letters that Andy stole from the post-office, and that someone burnt?" he asked, with a smile.

"I've been meaning to tell you, father, that one was for you," said the squire, looking very uncomfortable.

"Oh, Andy let it out long ago," said the kindly old priest. "But the joke is that by stealing my letter Andy nearly lost a title and a great fortune. Ever heard of Lord Scatterbrain? He died a little time ago, confessing in his will that it was he that married Mrs. Rooney, and deserted her."

"So Handy Andy is now a lord!" exclaimed the squire, rocking with laughter.

Andy took it like a true son of the wildest and most eccentric of Irish peers. On getting over the first shock of astonishment, he broke out into short peals of laughter, exclaiming at intervals, that "it was mighty quare." When, after much questioning, his wishes in regard to his new life were made clear, it was found that they all centred on one object, which was "to have a goold watch."

The squire was perplexed what to do with a great nobleman of this sort, and at last he got a kinsman, Dick Dawson, who loved fun, to take Andy under his especial care to London. When they arrived there it was wonderful how many persons were eager to show civility to his new lordship, and he who as Handy Andy had been cried down all his life as a "stupid rascal," "a blundering thief," "a thick-headed brute," suddenly acquired, under the title of Lord Scatterbrain, a reputation for being "vastly amusing, a little eccentric, perhaps, but so droll."

All this was very delightful for Andy--so delightful that he quite forgot Red Bridget. But Red Bridget did not forget him.

"Lady Scatterbrain!" announced the servant one day; and in came Bridget and Shan More and an attorney.

The attorney brought out a settlement in which an exorbitant sum was to be settled on Bridget, and Shan More, with a threatening air, ordered Andy to sign the deed.

"I can't," cried Andy, retreating to the fire-place, "and I won't!"

"You must sign your name!" roared Shan More.

"I can't, I tell you!" yelled Andy, seizing the poker. "I've never larned to write."

"Your lordship can make your mark," said the attorney.

"I'll make my mark with this poker," cried Andy, "if you don't all clear out!"

The noise of a frightful row brought Dick Dawson into the room, and he managed to get rid of the intruders by inducing the attorney to conduct the negotiations through Lord Scatterbrain's solicitors.

But while the negotiations were going on, a fact came to light that altered the whole complexion of the matter, and Andy went post-haste over to Ireland to the fine house in which his mother and his cousin were living.

Bursting into the drawing-room, he made a rush upon Oonah, whom he hugged and kissed most outrageously, with exclamations of the wildest affection.

When Oonah freed herself from his embraces, and asked him what he was about, Andy turned over the chairs, threw the mantelpiece ornaments into the fire, and banged the poker and tongs together, shouting! "Hurroo! I'm not married at all!"

It had been discovered that Red Bridget had a husband living when she forced Andy to marry her, and as soon as it was legally proved that Lord Scatterbrain was a free man, Father Phil was called in, and Oonah, who had all along loved her wild cousin, was made Lady Scatterbrain.


EDWARD BULWER LYTTON

Eugene Aram

Novelist, poet, essayist, and politician, Edward Bulwer Lytton was born in London on May 25, 1805. His father was General Earle Bulwer. He assumed his mother's family name on her death in 1843, and was elevated to the peerage as Baron Lytton in 1866. At seventeen Lytton published a volume entitled, "Ismael, and Other Poems." An unhappy marriage in 1827 was followed by extraordinary literary activity, and during the next ten years he produced twelve novels, two poems, a play, "England and the English," and "Athens: Its Rise and Fall," besides an enormous number of shorter stories, essays, and articles for contemporary periodicals. Altogether his output is represented by nearly sixty volumes. Few books on their publication have created a greater furore than Lord Lytton's "Eugene Aram," which was published in 1832. One section of the novel-reading public hailed its moving, dramatic story with manifest delight, while the other severely condemned it on the plea of its false morality. The story takes its title from that remarkable scholar and criminal, Eugene Aram, at one time a tutor in the Lytton family, who was executed at York in 1759, for a murder committed fourteen years before. The crime caused much consternation at the time, Aram's refined and mild disposition being apparently in direct contradiction to his real nature. The novel is an unusually successful, though perhaps one-sided psychological study. In a revised edition Lytton made the narrative agree with his own conclusion that, though an accomplice in robbery, Aram was not guilty of premeditated or actual murder. Edward Bulwer Lytton died on January 18, 1873.

I.--At the Sign of the Spotted Dog

In the county of ---- was a sequestered hamlet, to which I shall give the name of Grassdale. It lay in a fruitful valley between gentle and fertile hills. Its single hostelry, the Spotted Dog, was owned by one Peter Dealtry, a small farmer, who was also clerk of the parish. On summer evenings Peter was frequently to be seen outside his inn discussing psalmody and other matters with Jacob Bunting, late a corporal in his majesty's army, a man who prided himself on his knowledge of the world, and found Peter's too easy fund of merriment occasionally irritating.

On one such evening their discussion was interrupted by an unprepossessing and travel-stained stranger, who, when his wants, none too amiably expressed, had been attended to, exhibited a marked curiosity concerning the people of the locality. As the stranger paid for his welcome with a liberal hand, Peter became more than usually communicative.

He described the lord of the manor, a distinguished nobleman who lived at the castle some six miles away. He talked of the squire and his household. "But," he continued, "the most noticeable man is a great scholar. There, yonder," said he, "you may just catch a glimpse of the tall what-d'ye-call-it he has built on the top of his house that he may get nearer to the stars."

"The scholar, I suppose," observed the stranger, "is not very rich. Learning does not clothe men nowadays, eh, corporal?"

"And why should it?" asked Bunting. "Zounds! can it teach a man how to defend his country? Old England wants soldiers. But the man's well enough, I must own--civil, modest----"

"And by no means a beggar," added Peter. "He gave as much to the poor last winter as the squire himself. But if he were as rich as Lord----he could not be more respected. The greatest folk in the country come in their carriages-and-four to see him. There is not a man more talked on in the whole county than Eugene Aram----"

"What!" cried the traveller, his countenance changing as he sprang from his seat. "What! Aram! Did you say Aram? Great heavens! How strange!"

"What! You know him?" gasped the astonished landlord.

Instead of replying, the stranger muttered inaudible words between his teeth. Now he strode two steps forward, clenching his hands. Now smiled grimly. Then he threw himself upon his seat, still in silence.

"Rum tantrums!" ejaculated the corporal. "What the devil! Did the man eat your grandmother?"

The stranger lifted his head, and addressing Peter, said, with a forced smile, "You have done me a great kindness, my friend. Eugene Aram was an early acquaintance of mine. We have not met for many years. I never guessed that he lived in these parts."

And then, directed, in answer to his inquiries, to Aram's dwelling, a lonely grey house in the middle of a broad plain, the traveller went his way.

II.--The Squire's Guest

The man the stranger went to seek was one who perhaps might have numbered some five-and-thirty years, but at a hasty glance would have seemed considerably younger. His frame was tall, slender, but well-knit and fair proportioned; his cheek was pale, but with thought; his hair was long, and of a rich, deep brown; his brow was unfurrowed; his face was one that a physiognomist would have loved to look upon, so much did it speak of both the refinement and the dignity of intellect.

Eugene Aram had been now about two years settled in his present retreat, with an elderly dame as housekeeper. From almost every college in Europe came visitors to his humble dwelling, and willingly he imparted to others any benefit derived from his lonely researches. But he proffered no hospitality, and shrank from all offers of friendship. Yet, unsocial as he was, everyone loved him. The peasant threw kindly pity into his respectful greeting. Even that terror of the village, Mother Darkmans, saved her bitterest gibes for others; and the village maiden, as she curtseyed by him, stole a glance at his handsome but melancholy countenance, and told her sweetheart she was certain the poor scholar had been crossed in love.

At the manor house he was often the subject of remark, but only on the day of the stranger's appearance at the Spotted Dog had the squire found an opportunity of breaking through the scholar's habitual reserve, and so persuaded him to dine with him and his family on the day following.

The squire, Rowland Lester, a man of cultivated tastes, was a widower, with two daughters and a nephew. Walter, the only son of Rowland's brother Geoffrey, who had absconded, leaving his wife and child to shift for themselves, was in his twenty-first year, tall and strong, with a striking if not strictly handsome face; high-spirited, jealous of the affections of those he loved; cheerful outwardly, but given to moody reflections on his orphaned and dependent lot, for his mother had not long survived her desertion.

Madeline Lester, at the age of eighteen, was the beauty and toast of the whole country; with a mind no less beautiful than her form was graceful, and a desire for study equalled only by her regard for those who possessed it, a regard which had extended secretly, if all but unacknowledged to herself, to the solitary scholar of whom I have been speaking. Ellinor, her junior by two years, was of a character equally gentle, but less elevated, and a beauty akin to her sister's.

When Eugene Aram arrived at the manor house in keeping with his promise, something appeared to rest upon his mind, from which, however, by the excitement lent by wine and occasional bursts of eloquence, he seemed striving to escape, and at length he apparently succeeded.

When the ladies had retired, Lester and his guest resumed their talk in the open, Walter declining to join them.

Aram was advancing the view that it is impossible for a man who leads the life of the world ever to experience content.

"For me," observed the squire, "I have my objects of interest in my children."

"And I mine in my books," said Aram.

As they passed over the village green, the gaunt form of Corporal Bunting arrested their progress.

"Beg pardon, your honour," said he to the scholar, "but strange-looking dog here last evening--asked after you--said you were old friend of his--trotted off in your direction--hope all was right, master--augh!"

"All right," repeated Aram, fixing his eyes on the corporal, who had concluded his speech with a significant wink. Then, as if satisfied with his survey, he added, "Ay, ay; I know whom you mean. He had become acquainted with me some years ago. I don't know--I know very little of him." And the student was turning away, but stopped to add, "The man called on me last night for assistance. I gave what I could afford, and he has now proceeded on his journey. Good evening!"

Lester and his companion passed on, the former somewhat surprised, a feeling increased when shortly afterwards Aram abruptly bade him farewell. But, recalling the peculiar habits of the scholar, he saw that the only way to hope for a continuance of that society which had so pleased him was to indulge Aram at first in his unsocial inclinations; and so, without further discourse, he shook hands with him, and they parted.

III.--The Old Riding-Whip

When Lester regained the little parlour in his home he found his nephew sitting, silent and discontented, by the window. Madeline had taken up a book, and Ellinor, in an opposite corner, was plying her needle with an earnestness that contrasted with her customary cheerful vivacity.

The squire thought he had cause to complain of his nephew's conduct to their guest. "You eyed the poor student," he said, "as if you wished him amongst the books of Alexandria."

"I would he were burnt with them!" exclaimed Walter sharply. "He seems to have bewitched my fair cousins here into a forgetfulness of all but himself."

"Not me!" said Ellinor eagerly.

"No, not you; you are too just. It is a pity Madeline is not more like you."

Thus was disturbance first introduced into a peaceful family. Walter was jealous; he could not control his feelings. An open breach followed, not only between him and Aram, but a quarrel between him and Madeline. The position came as a revelation to his uncle, who, seeing no other way out of the difficulty, yielded to Walter's request that he should be allowed to travel.

Meanwhile, Aram, drawn out of his habitual solitude by the sweet influence of Madeline, became a frequent visitor to the manor house and the acknowledged suitor for Madeline's hand. As for Walter, when he set out for London, with Corporal Bunting as his servant, he had found consolation in the discovery that Ellinor's regard for him had gone beyond mere cousinly affection. His uncle gave him several letters of introduction to old friends; among them one to Sir Peter Hales, and another to a Mr. Courtland.

An incident that befell him on the London road revived to an extraordinary degree Walter's desire to ascertain the whereabouts of his long-lost father. At the request of Sir Peter Hales he had alighted at a saddler's for the purpose of leaving a parcel committed to him, when his attention was attracted by an old-fashioned riding-whip. Taking it up, he found it bore his own crest, and his father's initials, "G.L." Much agitated, he made quick inquiries, and learned that the whip had been left for repair about twelve years previously by a gentleman who was visiting Mr. Courtland, and had not been heard of since.

Eagerly he sought out Mr. Courtland, and gleaned news which induced him, much to Corporal Bunting's disgust, to set his back on London, and make his way with all speed in the direction of Knaresborough. It appeared that at the time the whip was left at the saddler's, Geoffrey Lester had just returned from India, and when he called on his old acquaintance, Mr. Courtland, he was travelling to the historic town in the West Riding to claim a legacy his old colonel--he had been in the army--had left him for saving his life. The name Geoffrey Lester had assumed on entering the army was Clarke.

IV.--Hush-Money

While Walter Lester and Corporal Bunting were passing northward, the squire of Grassdale saw, with evident complacency, the passion growing up between his friend and his daughter. He looked upon it as a tie that would permanently reconcile Aram to the hearth of social and domestic life; a tie that would constitute the happiness of his daughter and secure to himself a relation in the man he felt most inclined of all he knew to honour and esteem. Aram seemed another man; and happy indeed was Madeline in the change. But one evening, while the two were walking together, and Aram was discoursing on their future, Madeline uttered a faint shriek, and clung trembling to her lover's arm.

Amazed and roused from his enthusiasm, Aram looked up, and, on seeing the cause of her alarm, seemed himself transfixed, as by a sudden terror to the earth.

But a few paces distant, standing amidst the long and rank fern that grew on each side of their path, quite motionless, and looking on the pair with a sarcastic smile, stood the ominous stranger whom we first met at the sign of the Spotted Dog.

"Pardon me, dear Madeline," said Aram, softly disengaging himself from her, "but for one moment."

He then advanced to the stranger, and after a conversation that lasted but a minute, the latter bowed, and, turning away, soon vanished among the shrubs.

Aram, regaining the side of Madeline, explained, in answer to her startled inquiries, that the man, whom he had known well some fourteen years ago, had again come to ask for his help, and he supposed that he would again have to aid him.

"And is that indeed all?" said Madeline, breathing more freely. "Well, poor man, if he be your friend, he must be inoffensive. Here, Eugene." And the simple-hearted girl put her purse into Aram's hand.

"No, dearest," said he, shrinking back. "I can easily spare him enough. But let us turn back. It grows chill."

"And why did he leave us, Eugene?"

"Because," was the reply, "I desired him to visit me at home an hour hence."

There was a past shared by these two men, and Houseman--for that was the stranger's name--had come for the price of his silence. The next day, on the plea of an old debt that suddenly had to be met, Aram approached his prospective father-in-law for the loan of £300. This sum was readily placed at his disposal. Indeed, he was offered double the amount. His next action was to travel to London, where, with all the money at his command, he purchased an annuity for Houseman, falling back, for his own needs, upon the influence of Lord ---- to secure for him a small state allowance which it was in that nobleman's power to grant to him as a needy man of letters.

Houseman was surprised at the scholar's generosity when the paper ensuring the annuity was placed in his hands. "Before daybreak to-morrow," he said, "I will be on the road. You may now rest assured that you are free of me for life. Go home--marry--enjoy your existence. Within four days, if the wind set fair, I shall be in France."

The pale face of Eugene Aram brightened. He had resolved, had Houseman's attitude been different, to surrender Madeline at once.

V.--Human Bones

The unexpected change in her lover's demeanour, on his return to Grassdale, brought unspeakable joy to the heart of Madeline Lester. But hardly had Aram left Houseman's squalid haunt in Lambeth when a letter was put into the ruffian's hand telling of his daughter's serious illness. For this daughter Houseman, villain as he was, would willingly have given his life. Now, casting all other thoughts aside, he set forth, not for France, but for Knaresborough, where his daughter was lying, and whither, guided by his inquiries concerning his father, Walter Lester was also on his way.

It was not long ere Walter found that a certain Colonel Elmore had died in 17--, leaving £1,000 and a house to one Daniel Clarke, and that an executor of the colonel's will survived in the person of a Mr. Jonas Elmore. From Mr. Elmore, Walter learned that Clarke had disappeared suddenly, after receiving the legacy, taking with him a number of jewels with which Mr. Elmore had entrusted him. His disappearance had caused a sensation at the time, and a man named Houseman had assigned as a cause of Clarke's disappearance a loan which he did not mean to repay. It was true that Houseman and a young scholar named Eugene Aram had been interrogated by the authorities, but nothing could be proved against them, and certainly nothing was suspected where Aram was concerned. He left Knaresborough soon after Clarke had disappeared, having received a legacy from a relative at York.

This story of a legacy Walter was not inclined to believe, but proof of it was forthcoming. Another circumstance in Aram's favour was that his memory was still honoured in the town, by the curate, Mr. Summers, as well as by others.

Accompanied by Mr. Summers, Walter visited the house where Daniel Clarke had stayed and also the woman at whose house Aram had lived. It was a lonely, desolate-looking house; its solitary occupant a woman who evidently had been drinking. When the name of Eugene Aram was mentioned, the woman assumed a mysterious air, and eventually disclosed the fact that she had seen Mr. Clarke, Houseman and Aram enter Aram's room early one morning. They went away together. A little later Aram and Houseman returned. She found out afterwards that they had been burning some clothes. She also discovered a handkerchief belonging to Houseman with blood upon it. She had shown this to Houseman, who had threatened to shoot her should she say a word to anyone regarding himself or his companions.

Armed with this narrative, extracted by the promise of pecuniary reward, Walter and Mr. Summers were making their way to a magistrate's when their attention was attracted by a crowd. A workman, digging for limestone, had unearthed a big wooden chest. The chest contained a skeleton!

In the midst of the commotion caused by this discovery a voice broke out abruptly. It was that of Richard Houseman. His journey had been in vain. His daughter was dead. His appearance revealed all too plainly to what source he had flown for consolation.

"What do ye here, fools?" he cried, reeling forward. "Ha! Human bones! And whose may they be, think ye?"

There were in the crowd those who remembered the disappearance which had so surprised them years before, and more than one repeated the name of "Daniel Clarke."

"Clarke's bones!" exclaimed Houseman. "Ha, ha! They are no more Clarke's than mine!"

At this moment Walter stepped forward.

"Behold!" he cried, in a ringing voice, vibrant with emotion--"behold the murderer!"

Pale, confused, conscience-stricken, the bewilderment of intoxication mingling with that of fear, Houseman gasped out that if they wanted the bones of Clarke they should search St. Robert's Cave. And in the place he named they found at last the unhallowed burial-place of the murdered dead.

But Houseman, now roused by a sense of personal danger, denied that he was the guilty man. Drawing his breath hard, and setting his teeth as with steeled determination, he cried, "The murderer is Eugene Aram!"

VI.--"I Murdered my Own Life"

It was a chill morning in November. But at Grassdale all was bustle and excitement. The church bells were ringing merry peals. It wanted but an hour or so to the wedding of Eugene Aram and Madeline Lester. In this interval the scholar was alone with his thoughts. His reverie was rudely disturbed by a loud knocking, the noise of which penetrated into his study. The outer door was opened. Voices were heard.

"Great God!" he exclaimed. "'Murderer!' Was that the word I heard shouted forth? The voice, too, is Walter Lester's. Can he have learned----"

Calm succeeded to the agitation of the moment. He met the newcomers with a courageous front. But, followed by his bride who was to be, by her sister Ellinor, and by their father, all confident that Walter had made some horrible mistake, Eugene Aram was taken away to be committed to York on the capital charge.

The law's delays were numerous. Winter passed into spring, and spring into summer before the trial came on. Eugene Aram's friends were numerous. Lord ---- firmly believed in his innocence, and proffered help. But the prisoner refused legal aid, and conducted his own defence--how ably history records. Madeline was present at the closing scene, in her wedding dress. Her father was all but broken in his grief for daughter and friend. Walter was distraught by the havoc he had caused, and in doubt whether, after all, his action had not been too impetuous. The court was deeply impressed by the prisoner's defence. But the judge's summing-up was all against the accused, and the verdict was "Guilty!" Madeline lived but a few hours after hearing it.

The following evening Walter obtained admittance to the condemned cell.

"Eugene Aram," he said, in tones of agony, "if at this moment you can lay your hand on your heart, and say, 'Before God, and at peril of my soul, I am innocent of this deed,' I will depart; I will believe you, and bear as I may the reflection that I have been one of the unconscious agents in condemning to a fearful death an innocent man. But if you cannot at so dark a crisis take that oath, then, oh then, be generous, even in guilt, and let me not be haunted through life by the spectre of a ghastly and restless doubt!"

On the eve of the day destined to be his last on earth Eugene Aram placed in Walter's hands a paper which that young man pledged himself not to read till Rowland Lester's grey hairs had gone to the grave. This document set forth at length the story of Aram's early life, how he sought knowledge amidst grinding poverty, and how, when a gigantic discovery in science gleamed across his mind, a discovery which only lack of means prevented him from realising to the vast benefit of truth and man, the tempter came to him. This tempter took the form of a distant relative, Richard Houseman, with his doctrine that "Laws order me to starve, but self-preservation is an instinct more sacred than society," and his demand for co-operation in an act of robbery from one Daniel Clarke, whose crimes were many, who was, moreover, on the point of disappearing with a number of jewels he had borrowed on false pretences.

"Houseman lied," wrote the condemned man. "I did not strike the blow. I never designed a murder. But the deed was done, and Houseman divided the booty. My share he buried in the earth, leaving me to withdraw it when I chose. There, perhaps, it lies still. I never touched what I had murdered my own life to gain. Three days after that deed a relative, who had neglected me in life, died and left me wealth--wealth, at least, to me! Wealth greater than that for which I had----My ambition died in remorse!"

Houseman passed away in his own bed. But he had to be buried secretly in the dead of night, for, ten years after Eugene Aram had died on the scaffold, the hatred of the world survived for his accomplice. Rowland Lester did not live long after Madeline's death. But when Walter returned from a period of honourable service with the great Frederick of Prussia, it was with no merely cousinly welcome that Ellinor received him.


The Last Days of Pompeii

"The Last Days of Pompeii," the most popular of Lytton's historical romances, was begun and almost completed at Naples in the winter of 1832-3, and was first published in 1834. The period dealt with is that of 79 A.D., during the short reign of Titus, when Rome was at its zenith and the picturesque Campanian city a kind of Rome-by-the-Sea. Lytton wrote the novel some thirty years before the excavations of Pompeii had been systematically begun; but his pictures of the life, the luxuries, the pastimes and the gaiety of the half-Grecian colony, its worship of Isis, its trade with Alexandria, and the early struggles of Christianity with heathen superstition are exceptionally vivid. The creation of Nydia, the blind flower-girl, was suggested by the casual remark of an acquaintance that at the time of the destruction of Pompeii the sightless would have found the easiest deliverance.

I.--The Athenian's Love Story

Within the narrow compass of the walls of Pompeii was contained a specimen of every gift which luxury offered to power. In its minute but glittering shops, its tiny palaces, its baths, its forum, its theatre, its circus--in the energy yet corruption, in the refinement yet the vice, of its people, you beheld a model of the whole Roman Empire. It was a toy, a plaything, a show-box, in which the gods seemed pleased to keep the representation of the great monarchy of earth, and which they afterwards hid from time, to give to the wonder of posterity--the moral of the maxim, that under the sun there is nothing new.

Crowded in the glassy bay were vessels of commerce and gilded galleys for the pleasures of the rich citizens. The boats of the fishermen glided to and fro, and afar off you saw the tall masts of the fleet under the command of Pliny.

Drawing a comrade from the crowded streets, Glaucus the Greek, newly returned to Pompeii after a journey to Naples, bent his steps towards a solitary part of the beach; and the two, seated on a small crag which rose amidst the smooth pebbles, inhaled the voluptuous and cooling breeze which, dancing over the waters, kept music with its invisible feet. There was something in the scene which invited them to silence and reverie.

Clodius, the aedile, who sought the wherewithal for his pleasures at the gaming table, shaded his eyes from the burning sky, and calculated the gains of the past week. He was one of the many who found it easy to enrich themselves at the expense of his companion. The Greek, leaning upon his hand, and shrinking not from that sun, his nation's tutelary deity, with whose fluent light of poesy and joy and love his own veins were filled, gazed upon the broad expanse, and envied, perhaps, every wind that bent its pinions toward the shores of Greece.

Glaucus obeyed no more vicious dictates when he wandered into the dissipations of his time that the exhilarating voices of youth and health. His heart never was corrupted. Of far more penetration than Clodius and others of his gay companions deemed, he saw their design to prey upon his riches and his youth; but he despised wealth save as the means of enjoyment, and youth was the great sympathy that united him to them. To him the world was one vast prison to which the sovereign of Rome was the imperial gaoler, and the very virtues which, in the free days of Athens, would have made him ambitious, in the slavery of earth made him inactive and supine.

"Tell me, Clodius," said the Athenian at last, "hast thou ever been in love?"

"Yes, very often."

"He who has loved often," answered Glaucus, "has loved never."

"Art thou, then, soberly and earnestly in love? Hast thou that feeling which the poets describe--a feeling which makes us neglect our suppers, forswear the theatre, and write elegies? I should never have thought it. You dissemble well."

"I am not far gone enough for that," returned Glaucus, smiling. "In fact, I am not in love; but I could be if there but be occasion to see the object."

"Shall I guess the object? Is it not Diomed's daughter? She adores you, and does not affect to conceal it. She is both handsome and rich. She will bind the door-post of her husband with golden fillets."

"No, I do not desire to sell myself. Diomed's daughter is handsome, I grant; and at one time, had she not been the grandchild of a freedman, I might have--yet, no--she carries all her beauty in her face; her manners are not maiden-like, and her mind knows no culture save that of pleasure."

"You are ungrateful. Tell me, then, who is the fortunate virgin."

"You shall hear, my Clodius. Several months ago I was sojourning at Naples, a city utterly to my own heart. One day I entered the temple of Minerva to offer up my prayers, not for myself more than for the city on which Pallas smiles no longer. The temple was empty and deserted. The recollections of Athens crowded fast and meltingly upon me. Imagining myself still alone, my prayer gushed from my heart to my lips, and I wept as I prayed. I was startled in the midst of my devotions, however, by a deep sigh. I turned suddenly, and just behind me was a female. She had raised her veil also in prayer, and when our eyes met, methought a celestial ray shot from those dark and smiling orbs at once into my soul.

"Never, my Clodius, have I seen mortal face more exquisitely moulded. A certain melancholy softened, and yet elevated, its expression. Tears were rolling down her eyes. I guessed at once that she was of Athenian lineage. I spoke to her, though with a faltering voice. 'Art thou not, too, Athenian?' said I. At the sound of my voice she blushed, and half drew her veil across her face. 'My forefathers' ashes,' she said, 'repose by the waters of Ilyssus; my birth is of Naples; but my heart, as my lineage, is Athenian.'

"'Let us, then,' said I, 'make our offerings together!' And as the priest now appeared, we stood side by side, and so followed the ceremonial prayer. Together we touched the knees of the goddess; together we laid our olive garlands on the altar. Silently we left the temple, and I was about to ask her where she dwelt, when a youth, whose features resembled hers, took her by the hand. She turned and bade me farewell, the crowd parted us, and I saw her no more; nor when I returned to Naples after a brief absence at Athens, was I able to discover any clue to my lost country-woman. So, hoping to lose in gaiety all remembrance of that beautiful apparition, I hastened to plunge myself amidst the luxuries of Pompeii. This is all my history, I do not love but I remember and regret."

So said Glaucus. But that very night, in a house at Pompeii, whither she had come from Naples during his absence, Glaucus came face to face once more with the beautiful lone, the object of his dreams. And no longer was he able to say, "I do not love."

II.--Arbaces, the Egyptian

Amongst the wealthy dwellers in Pompeii was one who lived apart, and was at once an object of suspicion and fear. The riches of this man, who was known as Arbaces, the Egyptian, enabled him to gratify to the utmost the passions which governed him--the passion of sensual indulgence and the blind force which impelled him to seek relief from physical satiety in the pursuit of that occult knowledge which he regarded as the heritage of his race.

In Naples, Arbaces had known the parents of Ione and her brother Apaecides, and it was under his guardianship that they had come to Pompeii. The confidence which, before their death, their parents had reposed in the Egyptian was in turn fully given to him by lone and her brother. For Apaecides the Egyptian felt nothing but contempt; the youth was to him but an instrument that might be used by him in bending lone to his will. But the mind of Ione, no less than the beauty of her form, appealed to Arbaces. With her by his side, his willing slave, he saw no limit to the heights his ambition might soar to. He sought primarily to impress her with his store of unfamiliar knowledge. She, in turn, admired him for his learning, and felt grateful to him for his guardianship. Apaecides, docile and mild, with a soul peculiarly alive to religious fervour, Arbaces placed amongst the priests of Isis, and under the special care of a creature of his own, named Calenus. It pleased his purpose best, where Ione was concerned, to leave her awhile surrounded by the vain youth of Pompeii, so that he might gain by comparison.

It fell not within Arbaces' plans to show himself too often to his ward. Consequently it was some time before he became aware of the warmth of the friendship that was growing up between Ione and the handsome Greek. He knew not of their evening excursions on the placid sea, of their nightly meetings at Ione's dwelling, till these had become regular happenings in their daily lives. But one day he surprised them together, and his eyes were suddenly opened. No sooner had the Greek departed than the Egyptian sought to poison Ione's mind against him by exaggerating his love of pleasure and by unscrupulously describing him as making light of Ione's love.

Following up the advantage he gained by this appeal to her pride, Arbaces reminded Ione that she had never seen the interior of his home. It might, he said, amuse her. "Devote then," he went on, "to the austere friend of your youth one of these bright summer evenings, and let me boast that my gloomy mansion has been honoured with the presence of the admired Ione."

Unconscious of the pollutions of the mansion, of the danger that awaited her, Ione readily assented to the proposal. But there was one who, by accident, had become aware of the nature of the spells cast by Arbaces upon his visitors, and who was to be the humble means of saving lone from his toils. This was the blind flower-girl Nydia.

Of Thessalian extraction, and gentle nurture, Nydia had been stolen and sold into the slavery of an ex-gladiator named Burbo, a relative of the false priest Calenus. To save her from the cruelty of Burbo, Glaucus had purchased her, and, in return, the blind girl had become devoted to him--so devoted that her gentle heart was torn when he made it plain to her that his action was prompted by mere natural kindness of heart, and that it was his purpose to send her to Ione.

But she cast all feeling of jealousy aside when she heard of Ione's visit to the Egyptian, and quickly apprised Glaucus and Apaecides of the fair Athenian's peril.

On her arrival, Arbaces greeted Ione with deep respect. But he found it harder than he thought to resist the charm of her presence in his house, and in a moment of forgetful passion he declared his love for her. "Arbaces," he declared, "shall have no ambition save the pride of obeying thee--Ione. Ione, do not reject my love!" And as he spoke he knelt before her.

Alone, and in the grip of this singular and powerful man, Ione was not yet terrified; the respect of his language, the softness of his voice, reassured her; and in her own purity she felt protection. But she was confused, astonished. It was some moments before she could recover the power of reply.

"Rise, Arbaces," said she at length. "Rise! and if thou art serious, if thy language be in earnest----"

"If----" said he tenderly.

"Well, then, listen. You have been my guardian, my friend, my monitor. For this new character I was not prepared. Think not," she added quickly, as she saw his dark eyes glitter with the fierceness of his passion, "think not that I scorn; that I am untouched; that I am not honoured by this homage; but, say, canst thou hear me calmly?"

"Ay, though the words were lightning and could blast me!"

"I love another!" said Ione blushingly, but in a firm voice.

"By the gods," shouted Arbaces, rising to his fullest height, "dare not tell me that! Dare not mock me! It is impossible! Whom hast thou seen? Whom known? Oh, Ione, it is thy woman's invention, thy woman's art that speaks; thou wouldst gain time. I have surprised--I have terrified thee."

"Alas!" began Ione; and then, appalled before his sudden and unlooked for violence, she burst into tears.

Arbaces came nearer to her, his breath glowed fiercely on her cheek. He wound his arms round her; she sprang from his embrace. In the struggle a tablet fell from her bosom. Arbaces perceived, and seized it; it was a letter she had received that morning from Glaucus.

Ione sank upon the couch, half-dead with terror.

Rapidly the eyes of Arbaces ran over the writing. He read it to the end, and then, as the letter fell from his hand, he said, in a voice of deceitful calmness, "Is the writer of this the man thou lovest?"

Ione sobbed, but answered not.

"Speak!" he demanded.

"It is--it is!"

"Then hear me," said Arbaces, sinking his voice into a whisper. "Thou shalt go to thy tomb rather than to his arms."

At this instant a curtain was rudely torn aside, and Glaucus and Apsecides appeared. There was a severe struggle, which might have had a more sinister ending had not the marble head of a goddess, shaken from its column, fallen upon Arbaces as he was about to stab the Greek, and struck the Egyptian senseless to the ground. As it was, Ione was saved, and she and her lover were then and for ever reconciled to one another.

III.--The Love Philtre

Clodius had not spoken without warrant when he had said that Julia, the daughter of the rich merchant Diomed, thought herself in love with Glaucus. But since Glaucus was denied to her, her thoughts were concentrated on revenge. In this mood she sought out Arbaces, presenting herself as one loving unrequitedly, and seeking in sorrow the aid of wisdom.

"It is a love charm," admitted Julia, "that I would seek from thy skill. I know not if I love him who loves me not, but I know that I would see myself triumph over a rival. I would see him who has rejected me my suitor. I would see her whom he has preferred in her turn despised."

Very quickly Arbaces discerned Julia's secret, and when he heard that Glaucus and Ione were shortly to be wedded, he gladly availed himself of this opportunity to rid himself of his hated rival. But he dealt not in love potions, he said; he would, however, take Diomed's daughter to one who did--the witch who dwelt on the slopes of Vesuvius.

He kept his promise; but the entire philtre given to Julia was one which went direct to the brain, and the effects of which--for neither Arbaces nor his creature, the witch, wished to place themselves within the power of the law--were such as caused those who witnessed them to attribute them to some supernatural agency.

But once again, though less happily than on the former occasion, Nydia was destined to be the means of thwarting the schemes of the Egyptian. The devotion of the blind flower-girl had deepened into love for her deliverer. She was jealous of Ione. Now, for Julia had taken her into confidence, and both believed in the love charm, she was confronted with another rival. By a simple ruse Nydia obtained the poisoned draught and in its place substituted a phial of simple water.

At the close of a banquet given by Diomed, to which the Greek was invited, Julia duly administered that which she imagined to be the secret love potion. She was disappointed when she found Glaucus coldly replace the cup, and converse with her in the same unmoved tone as before.

"But to-morrow," thought she, "to-morrow, alas for Glaucus!"

Alas for him, indeed!

When Glaucus arrived at his own house that evening, Nydia was waiting for him. She had, as usual, been tending the flowers and had lingered awhile to rest herself.

"It has been warm," said Glaucus. "Wilt thou summon Davus? The wine I have drunk heats me, and I long for some cooling drink."

Here at once, suddenly and unexpectedly, the very opportunity that Nydia awaited presented itself. She breathed quickly. "I will prepare for you myself," said she, "the summer draught that Ione loves--of honey and weak wine cooled in snow."

"Thanks," said the unconscious Glaucus. "If Ione loves it, enough; it would be grateful were it poison."

Nydia frowned, and then smiled. She withdrew for a few moments, and returned with the cup containing the beverage. Glaucus took it from her hand.

What would not Nydia have given then to have seen the first dawn of the imagined love! Far different, as she stood then and there, were the thoughts and emotions of the blind girl from those of the vain Pompeian under a similar suspense!

Glaucus had raised the cup to his lips. He had already drained about a fourth of its contents, when, suddenly glancing upon the face of Nydia, he was so forcibly struck by its alteration, by its intense, and painful, and strange expression, that he paused abruptly, and still holding the cup near his lips, exclaimed. "Why, Nydia--Nydia, art thou ill or in pain? What ails thee, my poor child?"

As he spoke, he put down the cup--happily for him, unfinished--and rose from his seat to approach her, when a sudden pang shot coldly to his heart, and was followed by a wild, confused, dizzy sensation at the brain.

The floor seemed to glide from under him, his feet seemed to move on air, a mighty and unearthly gladness rushed upon his spirit. He felt too buoyant for the earth; he longed for wings--nay, it seemed as if he possessed them. He burst involuntarily into a loud and thrilling laugh. He clapped his hands, he bounced aloft. Suddenly this perpetual transport passed, though only partially, away. He now felt his blood rushing loudly and rapidly through his veins.

Then a kind of darkness fell over his eyes. Now a torrent of broken, incoherent, insane words gushed from his lips, and, to Nydia's horror, he passed the portico with a bound, and rushed down the starlit streets, striking fear into the hearts of all who saw him.

IV.--The Day of Ghastly Night

Anxious to learn if the drug had taken effect, Arbaces set out for Julia's house on the morrow. On his way he encountered Apaecides. Hot words passed between them, and stung by the scorn of the youth, he stabbed him into the heart with his stylus. At this moment Glaucus came along. Quick as thought the Egyptian struck the already half-senseless Greek to the ground, and steeping his stylus in the blood of Apaecides, and recovering his own, called loudly for help. The next moment he was accusing Glaucus of the crime.

For a time fortune favoured the Egyptian. Glaucus, his strong frame still under the influence of the poison, was sentenced to encounter a lion in the amphitheatre, with no weapon beyond the incriminating stylus. Nydia, in her terror, confessed to the Egyptian the exchange of the love philtre. She he imprisoned in his own house. Calenus, who had witnessed the deed, sought Arbaces with the intention of using his knowledge to his own profit. He, by a stratagem, was incarcerated in one of the dungeons of the Egyptian's dwelling. The law gave Ione into the guardianship of Arbaces. But, for a third time, Nydia was the means of frustrating the plans of Arbaces.

The blind girl, when vainly endeavouring to escape from the toils of the Egyptian, overheard, in his garden, the conversation of Arbaces and Calenus; and she heard the cries of Calenus from behind the door of the chamber in which he was imprisoned. She herself was caught again by Arbaces' servant, but she contrived to bribe her keeper to take a message to Glaucus's friend, Sallust; and he, taking his servants to Arbaces' house released the two captives, and reached the arena with them, to accuse Arbaces before the multitude at the very moment when the lion was being goaded to attack the Greek, and Arbaces' victory seemed within his grasp.

Even now the nerve of the Egyptian did not desert him. He met the charge with his accustomed coolness. But the frenzied accusation of the priest of Isis turned the huge assembly against him. With loud cries they rose from their seats and poured down toward the Egyptian.

Lifting his eyes at this terrible moment, Arbaces beheld a strange and awful apparition. He beheld, and his craft restored his courage. He stretched his hand on high; over his lofty brow and royal features there came an expression of unutterable solemnity and command.

"Behold," he shouted, with a voice of thunder, which stilled the roar of the crowd, "behold how the gods protect the guiltless! The fires of the avenging Orcus burst forth against the false witness of my accusers!"

The eyes of the crowd followed the gesture of the Egyptian, and beheld, with ineffable dismay, a vast vapour shooting from the summit of Vesuvius in the form of a gigantic pine-tree; the trunk blackness, the branches fire--a fire that shifted and wavered in its hues with every moment, now fiercely luminous, now of a dull and dying red, that again blazed terrifically forth with intolerable glare. The earth shook. The walls of the theatre trembled. In the distance was heard the crash of falling roofs. The cloud seemed to roll towards the assembly, casting forth from its bosom showers of ashes mixed with fragments of burning stone. Then the burning mountain cast up columns of boiling water.

In the ghastly night thus rushing upon the realm of noon, all thought of justice and of Arbaces left the minds of the terrified people. There ensued a mad flight for the sea. Through the darkness Nydia guided Glaucus, now partly recovered from the effects of the poisoned draught, and Ione to the shore. Her blindness rendered the scene familiar to her alone.

While Arbaces perished with the majority, these three eventually gained the sea, and joined a group, who, bolder than the rest, resolved to hazard any peril rather than continue on the stricken land.

Utterly exhausted, Ione slept on the breast of Glaucus, and Nydia lay at his feet. Meanwhile, showers of dust and ashes fell into the waves, scattered their snows over the deck of the vessel they had boarded, and, borne by the winds, descended upon the remotest climes, startling even the swarthy African, and whirling along the antique soil of Syria and of Egypt.

Meekly, softly, beautifully dawned at last the light over the trembling deep! The winds were sinking into rest, the foam died from the azure of that delicious sea. Around the east thin mists caught gradually the rosy hues that heralded the morning. Light was about to resume her reign. There was no shout from the mariners at the dawning light--it had come too gradually, and they were too wearied for such sudden bursts of joy--but there was a low, deep murmur of thankfulness amidst those watchers of the long night. They looked at each other, and smiled; they took heart. They felt once more that there was a world around and a God above them!

In the silence of the general sleep Nydia had risen gently. Bending over the face of Glaucus, she softly kissed him. She felt for his hand; it was locked in that of Ione. She sighed deeply, and her face darkened. Again she kissed his brow, and with her hair wiped from it the damps of night.

"May the gods bless you, Athenian!" she murmured "May you be happy with your beloved one! May you sometimes remember Nydia! Alas! she is of no further use on earth."

With these words she turned away. A sailor, half-dozing on the deck, heard a slight splash on the waters. Drowsily he looked up, and behind, as the vessel bounded merrily on, he fancied he saw something white above the waves; but it vanished in an instant. He turned round again and dreamed of his home and children.

When the lovers awoke, their first thought was of each other, their next of Nydia. Every crevice of the vessel was searched--there was no trace of her! Mysterious from first to last, the blind Thessalian had vanished from the living world! They guessed her fate in silence, and Glaucus and Ione, while they drew nearer to each other, feeling each other the world itself, forgot their deliverance, and wept as for a departed sister.


The Last of the Barons

A romance of York and Lancaster's "long wars," "The Last of the Barons" was published in 1843, shortly before the death of Bulwer's mother, when, on inheriting the Knebworth estates, he assumed the surname of Lytton. The story is an admirably chosen historical subject, and in many respects is worked out with even more than Lytton's usual power and effect. Incident is crowded upon incident; revolutions, rebellions, dethronements follow one another with amazing rapidity--all duly authenticated and elaborated by powerful dialogue. It is thronged with historical material, sufficient, according to one critic, to make at least three novels. The period dealt with, 1467-1471, witnessed the rise of the trading class and the beginning of religious freedom in England. Lytton leans to the Lancastrian cause, with which the fortunes of one of his ancestors were identified, and his view of Warwick is more favourable to the redoubtable "king-maker" than that of the historians.

I.--Warwick's Mission to France

Lacking sympathy with the monastic virtues of the deposed Henry VI., and happy in the exile of Margaret of Anjou, the citizens of London had taken kindly to the regime of Edward IV. In 1467 Edward still owed to Warwick the support of the more powerful barons, as well as the favour of that portion of the rural population which was more or less dependent upon them. But he encouraged, to his own financial advantage, the enterprises of the burgesses, and his marriage with Elizabeth Woodville and his favours to her kinsfolk indicated his purpose to reign in fact as well as in name. The barons were restless, but the rising middle-class, jealous of the old power of the nobles, viewed with misgiving the projected marriage, at Warwick's suggestion, of the king's sister Margaret and the brother of Louis XI. of France.

This was the position of affairs when young Marmaduke Nevile came to London to enter the service of his relative the Earl of Warwick; and some points of it were explained to the young man by the earl himself when he had introduced the youth to his daughters, Isabel and Anne.

"God hath given me no son," he said. "Isabel of Warwick had been a mate for William the Norman; and my grandson, if heir to his grandsire's soul, should have ruled from the throne of England over the realms of Charlemagne! But it hath pleased Him Whom the Christian knight alone bows to without shame, to order otherwise. So be it. I forgot my just pretensions--forgot my blood--and counselled the king to strengthen his throne by an alliance with Louis XI. He rejected the Princess Bona of Savoy to marry widow Elizabeth Grey. I sorrowed for his sake, and forgave the slight to my counsels. At his prayer I followed the train of the queen, and hushed the proud hearts of the barons to obeisance. But since then this Dame Woodville, whom I queened, if her husband mismated, must dispute this royaulme with mine and me! A Neville, nowadays, must vail his plume to a Woodville! And not the great barons whom it will suit Edward's policy to win from the Lancastrians, not the Exeters and the Somersets, but the craven varlets, and lackeys, and dross of the camp--false alike to Henry and to Edward--are to be fondled into lordships and dandled into power. Young man, I am speaking hotly. Richard Neville never lies nor conceals; but I am speaking to a kinsman, am I not? Thou hearest--thou wilt not repeat?"

"Sooner would I pluck forth my tongue by the roots!" was Marmaduke's reply.

"Enough!" returned the earl, with a pleased smile. "When I come from France I will speak more to thee. Meanwhile, be courteous to all men, servile to none. Now to the king."

Warwick sought his royal cousin at the Tower, where the court exhibited a laxity of morals and a faculty for intrigue that were little to the stout earl's taste.

It was with manifest reluctance that Edward addressed himself to the object of Warwick's visit.

"Knowst thou not," said he, "that this French alliance, to which thou hast induced us, displeases sorely our good traders of London?"

"Mort Dieu!" returned Warwick bluntly. "And what business have the flat-caps with the marriage of a king's sister? You have spoiled them, good my lord king. Henry IV. staled not his majesty to consultation with the mayor of his city. Henry V. gave the knighthood of the Bath to the heroes of Agincourt, not to the vendors of cloth and spices."

"Thou forgettest, man," said the king carelessly, "the occasion of those honours--the eve before Elizabeth was crowned. As to the rest," pursued the king, earnestly and with dignity, "I and my house have owed much to London. Thou seest not, my poor Warwick, that these burgesses are growing up into power. And if the sword is the monarch's appeal for his right, he must look to contented and honest industry for his buckler in peace. This is policy, policy, Warwick; and Louis XI. will tell thee the same truths, harsh though they grate in a warrior's ear."

The earl bowed his head.

"If thou doubtest the wisdom of this alliance," he said, "it is not too late yet. Let me dismiss my following, and cross not the seas. Unless thy heart is with the marriage, the ties I would form are but threads and cobwebs."

"Nay," returned Edward irresolutely. "In these great state matters thy wit is older than mine. But men do say the Count of Charolois is a mighty lord, and the alliance with Burgundy will be more profitable to staple and mart."

"Then, in God's name so conclude it!" said the earl hastily. "Give thy sister to the heir of Burgundy, and forgive me if I depart to the castle of Middleham. Yet think well. Henry of Windsor is thy prisoner, but his cause lives in Margaret and his son. There is but one power in Europe that can threaten thee with aid to the Lancastrians. That power is France. Make Louis thy friend and ally, and thou givest peace to thy life and thy lineage. Make Louis thy foe, and count on plots and stratagems and treason. Edward, my loved, my honoured liege, forgive Richard Nevile for his bluntness, and let not his faults stand in bar of his counsels."

"You are right, as you are ever, safeguard of England and pillar of my state," said the king frankly; and pressing Warwick's arm, he added, "go to France, and settle all as thou wilt."

When Warwick had departed, Edward's eye followed him, musingly. The frank expression of his face vanished, and with the deep breath of a man who is throwing a weight from his heart, he muttered, "He loves me--yes; but will suffer no one else to love me! This must end some day. I am weary of the bondage."

II.--A Dishonoured Embassy

One morning, some time after Warwick's departure for France, the Lord Hastings was summoned to the king's presence. There was news from France, in a letter to Lord Rivers, from a gentleman in Warwick's train. The letter was dated from Rouen, and gave a glowing account of the honours accorded to the earl by Louis XI. Edward directed Hastings' attention to a passage in which the writer suggested that there were those who thought that so much intercourse between an English ambassador and the kinsman of Margaret of Anjou boded small profit to the English king.

"Read and judge, Hastings," said the king.

"I observe," said Hastings, "that this letter is addressed to my Lord Rivers. Can he avouch the fidelity of his correspondent?"

"Surely, yes," answered Rivers. "It is a gentleman of my own blood."

"Were he not so accredited," returned Hastings, "I should question the truth of a man who can thus consent to play the spy upon his lord and superior."

"The public weal justifies all things," said Lord Worcester, who, with Lord Rivers, viewed with jealous scorn the power of the Earl of Warwick.

"And what is to become of my merchant-ships," said the king, "if Burgundy take umbrage and close its ports?"

Hastings had no cause to take up the quarrel on Warwick's behalf. The proud earl had stepped in to prevent his marriage with his sister. But Hastings, if a foe, could be a noble one.

"Beau sire," said he, "thou knowest how little cause I have to love the Earl of Warwick. But in this council I must be all and only the king's servant. I say first, then, that Warwick's faith to the House of York is too well proven to become suspected because of the courtesies of King Louis. Moreover, we may be sure that Warwick cannot be false if he achieve the object of his embassy and detach Louis from the side of Margaret and Lancaster by close alliance with Edward and York. Secondly, sire, with regard to that alliance, which it seems you would repent, I hold now, as I have held ever, that it is a master-stroke in policy, and the earl in this proves his sharp brain worthy his strong arm; for, as his highness the Duke of Gloucester has discovered that Margaret of Anjou has been of late in London, and that treasonable designs were meditated, though now frustrated, so we may ask why the friends of Lancaster really stood aloof--why all conspiracy was, and is, in vain? Because the gold and subsidies of Louis are not forthcoming, because the Lancastrians see that if once Lord Warwick wins France from the Red Rose nothing short of such a miracle as their gaining Warwick instead can give a hope to their treason."

"Your pardon, my Lord Hastings," said Lord Rivers, "there is another letter I have not yet laid before the king." He drew forth a scroll and read from it as follows.

"Yesterday the earl feasted the king, and as, in discharge of mine office, I carved for my lord, I heard King Louis say, 'Pasque Dieu, my Lord Warwick, our couriers bring us word that Count de Charolais declares he shall yet wed the Lady Margaret, and that he laughs at your embassage. What if our brother King Edward fall back from the treaty?' 'He durst not,' said the earl."

"'Durst not!'" exclaimed Edward, starting to his feet, and striking the table with his clenched hand. "'Durst not!' Hastings, heard you that?"

Hastings bowed his head in assent.

"Is that all, Lord Rivers?"

"All! And, methinks, enough!"

"Enough, by my halidame!" said Edward, laughing bitterly. "He shall see what a king dares when a subject threatens."

Lord Rivers had not read the whole of the letter. The sentence read: "He durst not, because what a noble heart dares least is to belie the plighted word, and what the kind heart shuns most is to wrong the confiding friend."

When Warwick returned, with the object of his mission achieved, it was to find Margaret of England the betrothed of the Count de Charolais, and his embassy dishonoured. He retired in anger and grief to his castle of Middleham, and though the king declared that "Edward IV. reigns alone," most of the great barons forsook him to rally round their leader in his retirement.

III.--The Scholar and his Daughter

Sybill Warner had been at court in the train of Margaret of Anjou. Her father, Adam Warner, was a poor scholar, with his heart set upon the completion of an invention which should inaugurate the age of steam. They lived together in an old house, with but one aged serving-woman. Even necessaries were sacrificed that the model of the invention might be fed. Then one day there came to Adam Warner an old schoolfellow, Robert Hilyard, who had thrown in his lot with the Lancastrians, and become an agent of the vengeful Margaret. Hilyard told so moving a tale of his wrongs at the hands of Edward that the old man consented to aid him in a scheme for communicating with the imprisoned Henry.

Henry was still permitted to see visitors, and Hilyard's proposal was that Warner should seek permission to exhibit his model, in the mechanism of which were to be hidden certain treasonable papers for Henry to sign.

As we have seen, from Hastings' remark to the king, the plot failed. Hilyard escaped, to stir up the peasantry, who knew him as Robin of Redesdale. Warner's fate was inclusion in the number of astrologers and alchemists retained by the Duchess of Bedford, who also gave a place amongst her maidens to Sybill, to whom Hastings had proffered his devoted attachment, though he was already bound by ties of policy and early love to Margaret de Bonville.

Meanwhile, it became the interest of the king's brothers to act as mediators between Edward and his powerful subject. The Duke of Clarence was anxious to wed the proud earl's equally proud elder daughter Isabel; the hand of the gentle Anne was sought more secretly by Richard of Gloucester. At last the peacemakers effected their object.

But the peace was only partial, the final rupture not far off. The king restored to Warwick the governorship of Calais--outwardly as a token of honour; really as a means of ridding himself of one whose presence came between the sun and his sovereignty. Moreover, he forbade the marriage between Clarence and Isabel, to the mortification of his brother, the bitter disappointment of Isabel herself, and the chagrin of the earl.

However, Edward had once more to experience indebtedness at the hands of the man whom he treated so badly, but whose devotion to him it seemed that nothing could destroy. There arose the Popular Rebellion, and Warwick only arrived at Olney, where the king was sorely pressed, in time to save him and to secure, on specific terms, a treaty of peace.

Again Edward's relief was but momentary. Proceeding to Middleham as Warwick's guest, when he beheld the extent of the earl's retinue his jealous passions were roused more than ever before; and he formed a plan not only for attaching to himself the allegiance of the barons, but of presenting the earl to the peasants in the light of one who had betrayed them.

Smitten, too, by the charms of the Lady Anne, he meditated a still more unworthy scheme. Dismissing the unsuspecting Warwick to the double task of settling with the rebels and calling upon his followers to range themselves under the royal banner, he commanded Anne's attendance at court.

Events leading to the final breach between king and king-maker followed rapidly. One night the Lady Anne fled in terror from the Tower--fled from the dishonouring addresses of her sovereign, now grown gross in his cups, however brave in battle. The news reached Warwick too late for him to countermand the messages he had sent to his friends on the king's behalf. And, so rapid were Edward's movements that Warwick, his eyes at length opened to Edward's true character, was compelled to flee to the court of King Louis at Amboise, there to plan his revenge, hampered in doing so by his daughter Isabel's devotion to Clarence, who followed him to France, and by the fact that, in regard to his own honour, he could communicate to none save his own kin the secret cause of his open disaffection.

IV.--The Return of the King-Maker

There was no love between Warwick and Margaret of Anjou. But his one means of exacting penance from Edward was alliance with the unlucky cause of Lancaster. And this alliance was brought about by the suave diplomacy of Louis, and the discovery of the long-existing attachment between the Lady Anne and her old play-fellow, Edward, the only son of Henry and Margaret, and the hope of the Red Rose.

Coincidently with the marriage of Clarence and Isabel on French soil, the young Edward and Isabel's sister were betrothed. Richard of Gloucester was thus definitely estranged from Warwick's cause. And secret agencies were set afoot to undermine the loyalty of the weak Clarence to the cause which he had espoused.

At first, however, Warwick's plans prospered. He returned to England, forced Edward to fly the country in his turn, and restored Henry VI. to the throne. So far, Clarence and Isabel accompanied him; while Margaret and her son, with Lady Warwick and the Lady Anne, remained at Amboise.

Then the very elements seemed to war against the Lancastrians. The restoration came about in October 1470. Margaret was due in London in November, but for nearly six months the state of the Channel was such that she was unable to cross it.

Warwick sickened of his self-imposed task. The whole burden of government rested upon the shoulders of the great earl, great where deeds of valour were to be done, but weak in the niceties of administration.

The nobles, no less than the people, had expected miracles. The king-maker, on his return, gave them but justice. Such was the earl's position when Edward, with a small following, landed at Ravenspur. A treacherous message, sent to Warwick's brother Montagu by Clarence, caused Montagu to allow the invader to march southwards unmolested. This had so great an effect on public feeling that when Edward reached the Midlands, he had not a mere handful of supporters at his back, but an army of large dimensions. Then the wavering Clarence went over to his brother, and it fell to the lot of the earl sorrowfully to dispatch Isabel to the camp of his enemy.

But Warwick's cup of bitterness was not yet full. The Tower was surrendered to Edward's friends, and on the following day Edward himself entered the capital, to be received by the traders with tumultuous cheers.

Raw, cold, and dismal dawned the morning of the fateful 14th of March, 1471, when Margaret at last reached English soil, and Edward's forces met those of Warwick on the memorable field of Barnet. All was not yet lost to the cause of the Red Rose. But a fog settled down over the land to complete, as it were, the disadvantages caused by the prolonged storms at sea. At a critical period of the battle the silver stars on the banners of one of the Lancastrians, the Earl of Oxford, being mistaken for the silver suns of Edward's cognisance, two important sections of Warwick's army fell upon one another. Friend was slaughtering friend ere the error was detected. While all was yet in doubt, confusion, and dismay, rushed full into the centre Edward himself, with his knights and riders; and his tossing banners added to the general incertitude and panic.

Warwick and his brother gained the shelter of a neighbouring wood, where a trusty band of the earl's northern archers had been stationed. Here they made their last stand, Warwick destroying his charger to signify to his men that to them and to them alone he entrusted his fortunes and his life.

A breach was made in the defence, and Warwick and his brother fell side by side, choosing death before surrender. And by them fell Hilyard, shattered by a bombard. Young Marmaduke Nevile was among the few notable survivors.

The cries of "Victory!" reached a little band of watchers gathered in the churchyard on the hill of Hadley. Here Henry the Peaceful had been conveyed. And here, also, were Adam Warner and his daughter. The soldiers, hearing from one of the Duchess of Bedford's creatures whose chicanery had been the object of his scorn, that Warner was a wizard, had desired that his services should be utilised. Till the issue was clear, he had been kept a prisoner. When it was beyond doubt, he was hanged. Sybill was found lying dead at her father's feet. Her heart was already broken, for the husband of Margaret de Bonville having died, Lord Hastings had been recalled to the side of his old love, his thought of marriage with Sybill being abandoned for ever.

King Edward and his brothers went to render thanksgiving at St. Paul's; thence to Baynard's Castle to escort the queen and her children once more to the Tower.

At the sight of the victorious king, of the lovely queen, and, above all, of the young male heir, the crowd burst forth with a hearty cry: "Long live the king and the king's son!"

Mechanically, Elizabeth turned her moistened eyes from Edward to Edward's brother, and suddenly clasped her infant closer to her bosom when she caught the glittering and fatal eye of Richard, Duke of Gloucester--Warwick's grim avenger in the future--fixed upon that harmless life, destined to interpose a feeble obstacle between the ambition of a ruthless intellect and the heritage of the English throne!


HENRY MACKENZIE

The Man of Feeling

Henry Mackenzie, the son of an Edinburgh physician, was born in that city on August 26, 1745. He was educated for the law, and at the age of twenty became attorney for the crown in Scotland. It was about this time that he began to devote his attention to literature. His first story, "The Man of Feeling," was published anonymously in 1771, and such was its popularity that its authorship was claimed in many quarters. Considered as a novel, "The Man of Feeling" is frankly sentimental. Its fragmentary form was doubtlessly suggested by Sterne's "Sentimental Journey," and the adventures of the hero himself are reminiscent of those of Moses in "The Vicar of Wakefield." But of these two masterpieces Mackenzie's work falls short: it has none of Sterne's humour, nor has it any of Goldsmith's subtle characterisation. "The Man of Feeling" was followed in 1773 by "The Man of the World," and later by a number of miscellaneous articles and stories. Mackenzie died on January 14, 1831.

I.--A Whimsical History

I was out shooting with the curate on a burning First of September, and we had stopped for a minute by an old hedge.

Looking round, I discovered for the first time a venerable pile, to which the enclosure before us belonged. An air of melancholy hung about it, and just at that instant I saw pass between the trees a young lady with a book in her hand. The curate sat him down on the grass and told me that was the daughter of a neighbouring gentleman of the name of Walton, whom he had seen walking there more than once.

"Some time ago," he said, "one Harley lived there, a whimsical sort of man, I am told. The greatest part of his history is still in my possession. I once began to read it, but I soon grew weary of the task; for, besides that the hand is intolerably bad, I never could find the author in one strain for two chapters together. The way I came by it was this. Some time ago a grave, oddish kind of a man boarded at a farmer's in this parish. He left soon after I was made curate, and went nobody knows whither; and in his room was found a bundle of papers, which was brought to me by his landlord."

"I should be glad to see this medley," said I.

"You shall see it now," answered the curate, "for I always take it along with me a-shooting. 'Tis excellent wadding."

When I returned to town I had leisure to peruse the acquisition I had made, and found it a little bundle of episodes, put together without art, yet with something of nature.

The curate must answer for the omissions.

II.--The Man of Feeling in Love

Harley lost his father, the last surviving of his parents, when he was a boy. His education, therefore, had been but indifferently attended to; and after being taken from a country school, the young gentleman was suffered to be his own master in the subsequent branches of literature, with some assistance from the pastor of the parish in languages and philosophy, and from the exciseman in arithmetic and book-keeping.

There were two ways of increasing his fortune. One of these was the prospect of succeeding to an old lady, a distant relation, who was known to be possessed of a very large sum in the stocks. But the young man was so untoward in his disposition, and accommodated himself so ill to her humour, that she died and did not leave him a farthing.

The other method pointed out to him was an endeavour to get a lease of some crown lands which lay contiguous to his little paternal estate. As the crown did not draw so much rent as Harley could afford to give, with very considerable profit to himself, it was imagined this lease might be easily procured. However, this needed some interest with the great, which neither Harley nor his father ever possessed.

His neighbour, Mr. Walton, having heard of this affair, generously offered his assistance to accomplish it, and said he would furnish him with a letter of introduction to a baronet of his acquaintance who had a great deal to say with the first lord of the treasury.

Harley, though he had no great relish for the attempt, could not resist the torrent of motives that assaulted him, and a day was fixed for his departure.

The day before he set out he went to take leave of Mr. Walton--there was another person of the family to whom also the visit was intended. For Mr. Walton had a daughter; and such a daughter!

As her father had some years retired to the country, Harley had frequent opportunities of seeing her. He looked on her for some time merely with that respect and admiration which her appearance seemed to demand; he heard her sentiments with peculiar attention, but seldom declared his opinions on the subject. It would be trite to observe the easy gradation from esteem to love; in the bosom of Harley there scarce needed a transition.

Harley's first effort to interview the baronet met with no success, but he resolved to make another attempt, fortified with higher notions of his own dignity, and with less apprehensions of repulse. By the time he had reached Grosvenor Square and was walking along the pavement which led to the baronet's he had brought his reasoning to the point that by every rule of logic his conclusions should have led him to a thorough indifference in approaching a fellow-mortal, whether that fellow-mortal was possessed of six or six thousand pounds a year. Nevertheless, it is certain that when he approached the great man's door he felt his heart agitated by an unusual pulsation.

He observed a young gentleman coming out, dressed in a white frock and a red laced waistcoat; who, as he passed, very politely made him a bow, which Harley returned, though he could not remember ever having seen him before. The stranger asked Harley civilly if he was going to wait on his friend the baronet. "For I was just calling," said he, "and am sorry to find that he is gone some days into the country."

Harley thanked him for his information, and turned from the door, when the other observed that it would be proper to leave his name, and very obligingly knocked for that purpose.

"Here is a gentleman, Tom, who meant to have waited on your master."

"Your name, if you please, sir?"

"Harley."

"You'll remember, Tom, Harley."

The door was shut.

"Since we are here," said the stranger, "we shall not lose our walk if we add a little to it by a turn or two in Hyde Park."

The conversation as they walked was brilliant on the side of his companion.

When they had finished their walk and were returning by the corner of the park they observed a board hung out of a window signifying, "An excellent ordinary on Saturdays and Sundays." It happened to be Saturday, and the table was covered for the purpose.

"What if we should go in and dine, sir?" said the young gentleman. Harley made no objection, and the stranger showed him the way into the parlour.

Over against the fire-place was seated a man of a grave aspect, who wore a pretty large wig, which had once been white, but was now of a brownish yellow; his coat was a modest coloured drab; and two jack-boots concealed in part the well-mended knees of an old pair of buckskin breeches. Next him sat another man, with a tankard in his hand and a quid of tobacco in his cheek, whose dress was something smarter.

The door was soon opened for the admission of dinner. "I don't know how it is with you, gentlemen," said Harley's new acquaintance, "but I am afraid I shall not be able to get down a morsel at this horrid mechanical hour of dining." He sat down, however, and did not show any want of appetite by his eating. He took upon him the carving of the meat, and criticised the goodness of the pudding, and when the tablecloth was removed proposed calling for some punch, which was readily agreed to.

While the punch lasted the conversation was wholly engrossed by this young gentleman, who told a great many "immensely comical stories" and "confounded smart things," as he termed them. At last the man in the jack-boots, who turned out to be a grazier, pulling out a watch of very unusual size, said that he had an appointment. And the young gentleman discovered that he was already late for an appointment.

When the grazier and he were gone, Harley turned to the remaining personage, and asked him if he knew that young gentleman. "A gentleman!" said he. "I knew him, some years ago, in the quality of a footman. But some of the great folks to whom he has been serviceable had him made a ganger. And he has the assurance to pretend an acquaintance with men of quality. The impudent dog! With a few shillings in his pocket, he will talk three times as much as my friend Mundy, the grazier there, who is worth nine thousand if he's worth a farthing. But I know the rascal, and despise him as he deserves!"

Harley began to despise him, too, but he corrected himself by reflecting that he was perhaps as well entertained, and instructed, too, by this same ganger, as he should have been by such a man of fashion as he had thought proper to personate.

III.--Harley's Success with the Baronet

The card he received was in the politest style in which disappointment could be communicated. The baronet "was under a necessity of giving up his application for Mr. Harley, as he was informed that the lease was engaged for a gentleman who had long served his majesty in another capacity, and whose merit had entitled him to the first lucrative thing that should be vacant." Even Harley could not murmur at such a disposal. "Perhaps," said he to himself, "some war-worn officer, who had been neglected from reasons which merited the highest advancement; whose honour could not stoop to solicit the preferment he deserved; perhaps, with a family taught the principles of delicacy without the means of supporting it; a wife and children--gracious heaven!--whom my wishes would have deprived of bread--!"

He was interrupted in his reverie by someone tapping him on the shoulder, and on turning round, he discovered it to be the very man who had recently explained to him the condition of his gay companion.

"I believe we are fellows in disappointment," said he. Harley started, and said that he was at a loss to understand him.

"Pooh! you need not be so shy," answered the other; "everyone for himself is but fair, and I had much rather you had got it than the rascally ganger. I was making interest for it myself, and I think I had some title. I voted for this same baronet at the last election, and made some of my friends do so, too; though I would not have you imagine that I sold my vote. No, I scorn it--let me tell you I scorn it; but I thought as how this man was staunch and true, and I find he's but a double-faced fellow after all, and speechifies in the House for any side he hopes to make most by. A murrain on the smooth-tongued knave, and after all to get it for this rascal of a ganger."

"The ganger! There must be some mistake," said Harley. "He writes me that it was engaged for one whose long services--"

"Services!" interrupted the other; "some paltry convenience to the baronet. A plague on all rogues! I shall but just drink destruction to them to-night and leave London to-morrow by sunrise."

"I shall leave it, too," said Harley; and so he accordingly did.

In passing through Piccadilly, he had observed on the window of an inn a notification of the departure of a stage-coach for a place on his road homewards; on the way back to his lodgings, he took a seat in it.

IV.--He Meets an Old Acquaintance

When the stage-coach arrived at the place of its destination, Harley, who did things frequently in a way different from what other people call natural, set out immediately afoot, having first put a spare shirt in his pocket and given directions for the forwarding of his portmanteau. It was a method of travelling which he was accustomed to take.

On the road, about four miles from his destination, Harley overtook an old man, who from his dress had been a soldier, and walked with him.

"Sir," said the stranger, looking earnestly at him, "is not your name Harley? You may well have forgotten my face, 'tis a long time since you saw it; but possibly you may remember something of old Edwards? When you were at school in the neighbourhood, you remember me at South Hill?"

"Edwards!" cried Harley, "O, heavens! let me clasp those knees on which I have sat so often. Edwards! I shall never forget that fireside, round which I have been so happy! But where have you been? Where is Jack? Where is your daughter?"

"'Tis a long tale," replied Edwards, "but I will try to tell it you as we walk."

Edwards had been a tenant farmer where his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had lived before him. The rapacity of a land steward, heavy agricultural losses, and finally the arrival of a press-gang had reduced him to misery. By paying a certain sum of money he had been accepted by the press-gang instead of his son, and now old Edwards was returning home invalided from the army.

When they had arrived within a little way of the village they journeyed to, Harley stopped short and looked steadfastly on the mouldering walls of a ruined house that stood by the roadside.

"What do I see?" he cried. "Silent, unroofed, and desolate! That was the very school where I was boarded when you were at South Hill; 'tis but a twelve-month since I saw it standing and its benches filled with cherubs. That opposite side of the road was the green on which they sported; see, it is now ploughed up!"

Just then a woman passed them on the road, who, in reply to Harley, told them the squire had pulled the school-house down because it stood in the way of his prospects.

"If you want anything with the school-mistress, sir," said the woman. "I can show you the way to her house."

They followed her to the door of a snug habitation, where sat an elderly woman with a boy and a girl before her, each of whom held a supper of bread and milk in their hands.

"They are poor orphans," the school-mistress said, when Harley addressed her, "put under my care by the parish, and more promising children I never saw. Their father, sir, was a farmer here in the neighbourhood, and a sober, industrious man he was; but nobody can help misfortunes. What with bad crops and bad debts, his affairs went to wreck, and both he and his wife died of broken hearts. And a sweet couple they were, sir. There was not a properer man to look on in the county than John Edwards, and so, indeed, were all the Edwardses of South Hill."

"Edwards! South Hill!" said the old soldier, in a languid voice, and fell back in the arms of the astonished Harley.

He soon recovered, and folding his orphan grandchildren in his arms, cried, "My poor Jack, art thou gone--"

"My dear old man," said Harley, "Providence has sent you to relieve them. It will bless me if I can be the means of assisting you."

"Yes, indeed, sir," answered the boy. "Father, when he was a-dying, bade God bless us, and prayed that if grandfather lived he might send him to support us. I have told sister," said he, "that she should not take it so to heart. She can knit already, and I shall soon be able to dig. We shall not starve, sister, indeed we shall not, nor shall grandfather neither."

The little girl cried afresh. Harley kissed off her tears, and wept between every kiss.

V.--The Man of Feeling is Jealous

Shortly after Harley's return home his servant Peter came into his room one morning with a piece of news on his tongue.

"The morning is main cold, sir," began Peter.

"Is it?" said Harley.

"Yes, sir. I have been as far as Tom Dowson's to fetch some barberries. There was a rare junketting at Tom's last night among Sir Harry Benson's servants. And I hear as how Sir Harry is going to be married to Miss Walton. Tom's wife told it me, and, to be sure, the servants told her; but, of course, it mayn't be true, for all that."

"Have done with your idle information," said Harley. "Is my aunt come down into the parlour to breakfast?"

"Yes, sir."

"Tell her I'll be with her immediately."

His aunt, too, had been informed of the intended match between Sir Harry Benson and Miss Walton, Harley learnt.

"I have been thinking," said she, "that they are distant relations, for the great-grandfather of this Sir Harry, who was knight of the shire in the reign of Charles I., married a daughter of the Walton family."

Harley answered drily that it might be so, but that he never troubled himself about those matters.

"Indeed," said she, "you are to blame, nephew, for not knowing a little more of them; but nowadays it is money, not birth, that makes people respected--the more shame for the times."

Left alone, Harley went out and sat down on a little seat in the garden.

"Miss Walton married!" said he. "But what is that to me? May she be happy! Her virtues deserve it. I had romantic dreams. They are fled."

That night the curate dined with him, though his visits, indeed, were more properly to the aunt than the nephew. He had hardly said grace after dinner when he said he was very well informed that Sir Harry Benson was just going to be married to Miss Walton. Harley spilt the wine he was carrying to his mouth; he had time, however, to recollect himself before the curate had finished the particulars of his intelligence, and, summing up all the heroism he was master of, filled a bumper, and drank to Miss Walton.

"With all my heart," said the curate; "the bride that is to be!" Harley would have said "bride," too, but it stuck in his throat, and his confusion was manifest.

VI.--He Sees Miss Walton and is Happy

Miss Walton was not married to Sir Harry Benson, but Harley made no declaration of his own passion after that of the other had been unsuccessful. The state of his health appears to have been such as to forbid any thoughts of that kind. He had been seized with a very dangerous fever caught by attending old Edwards in one of an infectious kind. From this he had recovered but imperfectly, and though he had no formed complaint, his health was manifestly on the decline.

It appears that some friend had at length pointed out to his aunt a cause from which this decline of health might be supposed to proceed, to wit, his hopeless love for Miss Walton--for, according to the conceptions of the world, the love of a man of Harley's modest fortune for the heiress of £4,000 a year is indeed desperate.

Be that as it may, I was sitting with him one morning when the door opened and his aunt appeared, leading in Miss Walton. I could observe a transient glow upon his face as he rose from his seat. She begged him to resume his seat, and placed herself on the sofa beside him. I took my leave, and his aunt accompanied me to the door. Harley was left with Miss Walton alone. She inquired anxiously about his health.

"I believe," said he, "from the accounts which my physicians unwillingly give me, that they have no great hopes of my recovery."

She started as he spoke, and then endeavoured to flatter him into a belief that his apprehensions were groundless.

"I do not wish to be deceived," said he. "To meet death as becomes a man is a privilege bestowed on few. I would endeavour to make it mine. Nor do I think that I can ever be better prepared for it than now." He paused some moments. "I am in such a state as calls for sincerity. Let that also excuse it. It is perhaps the last time we shall ever meet." He paused again. "Let it not offend you to know your power over one so unworthy. To love Miss Walton could not be a crime; if to declare it is one, the expiation will be made."

Her tears were now flowing without control.

"Let me entreat you," said she, "to have better hopes. Let not life be so indifferent to you, if my wishes can put any value on it. I know your worth--I have known it long. I have esteemed it. What would you have me say? I have loved it as it deserved."

He seized her hand, a languid colour reddened her cheek; a smile brightened faintly in his eye. As he gazed on her it grew dim, it fixed, it closed. He sighed, and fell back on his seat. Miss Walton screamed at the sight.

His aunt and the servants rushed into the room. They found them lying motionless together.

His physician happened to call at that instant. Every art was tried to recover them. With Miss Walton they succeeded, but Harley was gone for ever.


XAVIER DE MAISTRE

A Journey Round My Room

Count Xavier de Maistre was born in October 1763 at Chambéry, in Savoy. When, in the war and the upheaval that followed on the French Revolution, his country was annexed to France, he emigrated to Russia, and being a landscape painter of fine talent, he managed to live on the pictures which he sold. He died at St. Petersburg on June 12, 1852. His famous "Journey Round My Room" ("Voyage autour de ma chambre") was written in 1794 at Turin, where he was imprisoned for forty-two days over some affair of honour. The style of his work is clearly modelled on that of Sterne, but the ideas, which he pours out with a delightful interplay of wit and fancy, are marked with the stamp of a fine, original mind. The work is one of the most brilliant tours de force in a literature remarkable for its lightness, grace, and charm. Being a born writer, de Maistre whiled away his time by producing a sparkling little masterpiece, which will be cherished long after the heavy, philosophical works written by his elder brother, Joseph de Maistre, have mouldered into the dust. In the lifetime of the two brothers, Joseph was regarded throughout Europe as a man of high genius, while Xavier was looked down on as a trifler.

I.--My Great Discovery

How glorious it is to open a new career, and to appear suddenly in the world of science with a book of discoveries in one's hand like an unexpected comet sparkling in space! Here is the book, gentleman. I have undertaken and carried out a journey of forty-two days in my room. The interesting observations I have made, and the continual pleasure I have felt during this long expedition, excited in me the wish to publish it; the certitude of the usefulness of my work decided me. My heart is filled with an inexpressible satisfaction when I think of the infinite number of unhappy persons to whom I am now able to offer an assured resource against the tediousness and vexations of life. The delight one finds in travelling in one's own room is a pure joy, exempt from the unquiet jealousies of men and independent of ill-fortune.

In the immense family of men that swarm on the surface of the earth, there is not one--no, not one (I am speaking, of course, of those who have a room to live in)--who can, after having read this book, refuse his approbation to the new way of travelling which I have invented. It costs nothing, that is the great thing! Thus it is certain of being adopted by very rich people! Thousands of persons who have never thought of travelling will now resolve to follow my example.

Come, then, let us go forth! Follow me, all ye hermits who through some mortification in love, some negligence in friendship, have withdrawn into your rooms far from the pettiness and infidelity of mankind! But quit your dismal thoughts, I pray you. Every minute you lose some pleasure without gaining any wisdom in place of it. Deign to accompany me on my travels. We shall go by easy stages, laughing all along the road at every tourist who has gone to Rome or Paris. No obstacle shall stop us, and, surrendering ourselves to our imagination, we will follow it wherever it may lead us.

But persons are so curious. I am sure you would like to know why my journey round my room lasted forty-two days instead of forty-three, or some other space of time. But how can I tell you when I do not know myself? All I can say is that if you find my work too long, it was not my fault. In spite of the vanity natural in a traveller, I should have been very glad if it had only run a single chapter. The fact is, that though I was allowed in my room all the pleasures and comfort possible, I was not permitted to leave it when I wished.

Is there anything more natural and just than to fight to the death with a man who has inadvertently trodden on your foot, or let fall some sharp words in a moment of vexation of which your imprudence was the cause? Nothing, you will admit, is more logical; and yet there are some people who disapprove of this admirable custom.

But, what is still more natural and logical, the very people who disapprove it and regard it as a grave crime treat with greater rigour any man who refuses to commit it. Many an unhappy fellow has lost his reputation and position through conforming with their views, so that if you have the misfortune to be engaged in what is called "an affair of honour," it is best to toss up to see if you should follow the law or the custom; and as the law and the custom in regard to duelling are contradictory, the magistrates would also do well to frame their sentence on the throw of the dice. Probably, it was in this way that they determined that my journey should last exactly forty-two days.

II.--My Armchair and my Bed

My chamber forms a square, round which I can take thirty-six steps, if I keep very close to the wall. But I seldom travel in a straight line. I dislike persons who are such masters of their feet and of their ideas that they can say: "To-day I shall make three calls, I shall write four letters, I shall finish this work that I have begun." So rare are the pleasures scattered along our difficult path in life, that we must be mad not to turn out of our way and gather anything of joy which is within our reach.

To my mind, there is nothing more attractive than to follow the trail of one's ideas, like a hunter tracking down game, without holding to any road. I like to zigzag about. I set out from my table to the picture in the corner. From there I journey obliquely towards the door; but if I come upon my armchair I stand on no ceremonies, but settle myself in it at once. 'Tis an excellent piece of furniture, an armchair, and especially useful to a meditative man. In long winter evenings it is sometimes delightful and always wise to stretch oneself in it easily, far from the din of the numerous assemblies.

After my armchair, in walking towards the north I discover my bed, which is placed at the end of my room, and there forms a most agreeable perspective. So happily is it arranged that the earliest rays of sunlight come and play on the curtains. I can see them, on fine summer mornings, advancing along the white wall with the rising sun; some elms, growing before my window, divide them in a thousand ways, and make them dance on my bed, which, by their reflection, spread all round the room the tint of its own charming white and rose pattern. I hear the twittering of the swallows that nest in the roof, and of other birds in the elms; a stream of charming thoughts flows into my mind, and in the whole world nobody has an awakening as pleasant and as peaceful as mine.

III.--The Beast

Only metaphysicians must read this chapter. It throws a great light on the nature of man. I cannot explain how and why I burnt my fingers at the first steps I made in setting out on my journey around my room, until I expose my system of the soul and the beast. In the course of diverse observations I have found out that man is composed of a soul and a beast.

It is often said that man is made up of a soul and a body, and this body is accused of doing all sorts of wrong things. In my opinion, there is no ground for such accusations, for the body is as incapable of feeling as it is of thinking. The beast is the creature on whom the blame should be laid. It is a sensible being, perfectly distinct from the soul, a veritable individual, with its separate existence, tastes, inclinations, and will; it is superior to other animals only because it has been better brought up, and endowed with finer organs. The great art of a man of genius consists in knowing how to train his beast so well that it can run alone, while the soul, delivered from its painful company, rises up into the heavens. I must make this clear by an example.

One day last summer I was walking along on my way to the court. I had been painting all the morning, and my soul, delighted with her meditation on painting, left to the beast the care of transporting me to the king's palace.

"What a sublime art painting is!" thought my soul. "Happy is the man who has been touched by the spectacle of nature, who is not compelled to paint pictures for a living, and still less just to pass the time away; but who, struck by the majesty of a fine physiognomy and by the admirable play of light that blends in a thousand tints on a human face, tries to approach in his works the sublime effects of nature!"

While my soul was making these reflections, the beast was running its own way. Instead of going to court, as it had been ordered to, it swerved so much to the left that at the moment when my soul caught it up, it was at the door of Mme. de Hautcastel's house, half a mile from the palace.


If it is useful and pleasant to have a soul so disengaged from the material world that one can let her travel all alone when one wishes to, this faculty is not without its inconveniences. It was through it, for instance, that I burnt my fingers. I usually leave to my beast the duty of preparing my breakfast. It toasts my bread and cuts it in slices. Above all, it makes coffee beautifully, and it drinks it very often without my soul taking part in the matter, except when she amuses herself with watching the beast at work. This, however, is rare, and a very difficult thing to do.

It is easy, during some mechanical act, to think of something else; but it is extremely difficult to study oneself in action, so to speak; or, to explain myself according to my own system, to employ one's soul in examining the conduct of one's beast, to see it work without taking any part. This is really the most astonishing metaphysical feat that man can execute.

I had laid my tongs on the charcoal to toast my bread, and some time after, while my soul was on her travels, a flaming stump rolled on the grate; my poor beast went to take up the tongs, and I burnt my fingers.

IV.--A Great Picture

The first stage of my journey round my room is accomplished. While my soul has been explaining my new system of metaphysic, I have been sitting in my armchair in my favourite attitude, with the two front feet raised a couple of inches off the floor. By swaying my body to and fro, I have insensibly gained ground, and I find myself with a start close to the wall. This is the way in which I travel when I am not in a hurry.

My chamber is hung with prints and paintings which embellish it in an admirable manner. I should like the reader to examine them one after the other, and to entertain himself during the long journey that we must make in order to arrive at my desk. Look, here is a portrait of Raphael. Beside it is a likeness of the adorable lady whom he loved.

But I have something still finer than these, and I always reserve it for the last. I find that both connoisseurs and ignoramuses, both women of the world and little children, yes, and even animals, are pleased and astonished by the way in which this sublime work renders every effect in nature. What picture can I present to you, gentlemen; what scene can I put beneath your lovely eyes, ladies, more certain of winning your favour than the faithful image of yourselves? The work of which I speak is a looking-glass, and nobody up to the present has taken it into his head to criticise it; it is, for all those who study it, a perfect picture in which there is nothing to blame. It is thus the gem of my collection.

You see this withered rose? It is a flower of the Turin carnival of last year. I gathered it myself at Valentin's, and in the evening, an hour before the ball, I went full of hope and joy to present it to Mme. de Hautcastel. She took it, and placed it on her dressing-table without looking at it, and without looking at me. But how could she take any notice of me? Standing in an ectasy before a great mirror, she was putting the last touches to her finery. So totally was she absorbed in the ribbons, the gauzes, the ornaments heaped up before her, that I could not obtain a glance, a sign. I finished my losing patience, and being unable to resist the feeling of anger that swept over me, I took up the rose and walked out without taking leave of my sweetheart.

"Are you going?" she said, turning round to see her figure in profile.

I did not answer, but I listened at the door to learn if my brusque departure produced any effect.

"Do you not see," exclaimed Mme. de Hautcastel to her maid, after a short silence, "that this pelisse is much too full at the bottom? Get some pins and make a tuck in it."

That is how I come to have a withered rose on my desk. I shall make no reflections on the affair. I shall not even draw any conclusions from it concerning the force and duration of a woman's love.

My forty-two days are coming to an end, and an equal space of time would not suffice to describe the rich country in which I am now travelling, for I have at last reached my bookshelf. It contains nothing but novels--yes, I shall be candid--nothing but novels and a few choice poets. As though I had not enough troubles of my own, I willingly share in those of a thousand imaginary persons, and I feel them as keenly as if they were mine. What tears have I shed over the unhappiness of Clarissa!

But if I thus seek for feigned afflictions, I find, in compensation, in this imaginary world, the virtue, the goodness, the disinterestedness which I have been unable to discover together in the real world in which I exist. It is there that I find the wife that I desire, without temper, without lightness, without subterfuge; I say nothing about beauty--you can depend on my imagination for that! Then, closing the book which no longer answers to my ideas, I take her by the hand, and we wander together through a land a thousand times more delicious than that of Eden. What painter can depict the scene of enchantment in which I have placed the divinity of my heart? But when I am tired of love-making I take up some poet, and set out again for another world.

V.--In Prison Again

O charming land of imagination which has been given to men to console them for the realities of life, it is time for me to leave thee! This is the day when certain persons pretend to give me back my freedom, as though they had deprived me of it! As though it were in their power to take it away from me for a single instant, and to hinder me from scouring as I please the vast space always open before me! They have prevented me from going out into a single town--Turin, a mere point on the earth--but they have left to me the entire universe; immensity and eternity have been at my service.

To-day, then, I am free, or rather I am going to be put back into irons. The yoke of business is again going to weigh me down; I shall not be able to take a step which is not measured by custom or duty. I shall be fortunate if some capricious goddess does not make me forget one and the other, and if I escape from this new and dangerous captivity.

Oh, why did they not let me complete my journey! Was it really to punish me that they confined me in my room? In this country of delight which contains all the good things, all the riches of the world? They might as well have tried to chastise a mouse by shutting him up in a granary.

Yet never have I perceived more clearly that I have a double nature. All the time that I am regretting my pleasures of the imagination, I feel myself consoled by force. A secret power draws me away. It tells me that I have need of the fresh air and the open sky, and that solitude resembles death. So here am I dressed and ready. My door opens; I am rambling under the spacious porticoes of the street of Po; a thousand charming phantoms dance before my eyes. Yes, this is her mansion, this is the door; I tremble with anticipation.


SIR THOMAS MALORY

Morte d'Arthur

Little is known of Sir Thomas Malory, who, according to Caxton, "did take out of certain French books a copy of the noble histories of King Arthur and reduced it to English." We learn from the text that "this book was finished in the ninth year of the reign of King Edward the Fourth, by Sir Thomas Malory, Knight." That would be in the year 1469. Malory is said to have been a Welshman. The origin of the Arthurian romance was probably Welsh. Its first literary form was in Geoffrey of Monmouth's prose, in 1147. Translated into French verse, and brightened in the process, these legends appear to have come back to us, and to have received notable additions from Walter Map (1137-1209), another Welshman. A second time they were worked on and embellished by the French romanticists, and from these later versions Malory appears to have collated the materials for his immortal translation. The story of Arthur and Launcelot is the thread of interest followed in this epitome.

I.--The Coming of Arthur

It befell in the days of the noble Utherpendragon, when he was King of England, there was a mighty and noble duke in Cornwall, named the Duke of Tintagil, that held long war against him. And the duke's wife was called a right fair lady, and a passing wise, and Igraine was her name. And the duke, issuing out of the castle at a postern to distress the king's host, was slain. Then all the barons, by one assent, prayed the king of accord between the Lady Igraine and himself. And the king gave them leave, for fain would he have accorded with her; and they were married in a morning with great mirth and joy.

When the Queen Igraine grew daily nearer the time when the child Arthur should be born, Merlin, by whose counsel the king had taken her to wife, came to the king and said: "Sir, you must provide for the nourishing of your child. I know a lord of yours that is a passing true man, and faithful, and he shall have the nourishing of your child. His name is Sir Ector, and he is a lord of fair livelihood." "As thou wilt," said the king, "be it." So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and he bare it forth unto Sir Ector, and made a holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur.

But, within two years, King Uther fell sick of a great malady, and therewith yielded up the ghost, and was interred as belonged unto a king; wherefore Igraine the queen made great sorrow, and all the barons.

Then stood the realm in great jeopardy a long while, for many weened to have been king. And Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and counselled him to send for all the lords of the realm, and all the gentlemen of arms, to London before Christmas, upon pain of cursing, that Jesus, of His great mercy, should show some miracle who should be rightwise king. So in the greatest church of London there was seen against the high altar a great stone and in the midst thereof there was an anvil of steel, and therein stuck a fair sword, naked by the point, and letters of gold were written about the sword that said, "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England."

And many essayed, but none might stir the sword.

And on New Year's Day the barons made a joust, and Sir Ector rode to the jousts; and with him rode Sir Kaye, his son, and young Arthur, that was his nourished brother.

And Sir Kaye, who was made knight at Allhallowmas afore, had left his sword at his father's lodging, and so prayed young Arthur to ride for it. Then Arthur said to himself, "I will ride to the churchyard and take the sword that sticketh in the stone for my brother Kaye." And so, lightly and fiercely, he pulled it out of the stone, and took horse and delivered to Sir Kaye the sword. "How got you this sword?" said Sir Ector to Arthur. "Sir, I will tell you," said Arthur; "I pulled it out of the stone without any pain." "Now," said Sir Ector, "I understand you must be king of this land." "Wherefore I?" said Arthur. "And for what cause?" "Sir," said Sir Ector, "for God will have it so." And therewithal Sir Ector kneeled down to the earth, and Sir Kaye also.

Then Sir Ector told him all how he had betaken him to nourish him; and Arthur made great moan when he understood that Sir Ector was not his father.

And at the Feast of Pentecost all manner of men essayed to pull out the sword, and none might prevail but Arthur, who pulled it out before all the lords and commons. And the commons cried, "We will have Arthur unto our king." And so anon was the coronation made.

And Merlin said to King Arthur, "Fight not with the sword that you had by miracle till you see that you go to the worst, then draw it out and do your best." And the sword, Excalibur, was so bright that it gave light like thirty torches.

II.--The Marriage of Arthur

In the beginning of King Arthur, after that he was chosen king by adventure and by grace, for the most part the barons knew not that he was Utherpendragon's son but as Merlin made it openly known. And many kings and lords made great war against him for that cause, but King Arthur full well overcame them all; for the most part of the days of his life he was much ruled by the counsel of Merlin. So it befell on a time that he said unto Merlin, "My barons will let me have no rest, but needs they will have that I take a wife, and I will none take but by thy advice."

"It is well done," said Merlin, "for a man of your bounty and nobleness should not be without a wife. Now, is there any fair lady that ye love better than another?"

"Yea," said Arthur; "I love Guinever, the king's daughter, of the land of Cameliard. This damsel is the gentlest and fairest lady I ever could find."

"Sir," said Merlin, "she is one of the fairest that live, and as a man's heart is set he will be loth to return."

But Merlin warned the king privily that Guinever was not wholesome for him to take to wife, for he warned him that Launcelot should love her, and she him again. And Merlin went forth to King Leodegraunce, of Cameliard, and told him of the desire of the king that he would have to his wife Guinever, his daughter. "That is to me," said King Leodegraunce, "the best tidings that ever I heard; and I shall send him a gift that shall please him, for I shall give him the Table Round, the which Utherpendragon gave me; and when it is full complete there is a place for a hundred and fifty knights; and a hundred good knights I have myself, but I lack fifty, for so many have been slain in my days."

And so King Leodegraunce delivered his daughter, Guinever, to Merlin, and the Table Round, with the hundred knights, and they rode freshly and with great royalty, what by water and what by land.

And when Arthur heard of the coming of Guinever and the hundred knights of the Round Table he made great joy; and in all haste did ordain for the marriage and coronation in the most honourable wise that could be devised. And Merlin found twenty-eight good knights of prowess and worship, but no more could he find. And the Archbishop of Canterbury was sent for, and blessed the seats of the Round Table with great devotion.

Then was the high feast made ready, and the king was wedded at Camelot unto Dame Guinever, in the Church of St. Steven's, with great solemnity.

III.--Sir Launcelot and the King

And here I leave off this tale, and overskip great books of Merlin, and Morgan le Fay, and Sir Balin le Savage, and Sir Launcelot du Lake, and Sir Galahad, and the Book of the Holy Grail, and the Book of Elaine, and come to the tale of Sir Launcelot, and the breaking up of the Round Table.

In the merry month of May, when every heart flourisheth and rejoiceth, it happened there befel a great misfortune, the which stinted not till the flower of the chivalry of all the world was destroyed and slain.

And all was along of two unhappy knights named Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, that were brethren unto Sir Gawaine. For these two knights had ever privy hate unto the queen, and unto Sir Launcelot. And Sir Agravaine said openly, and not in counsel, "I marvel that we all be not ashamed to see and know how Sir Launcelot cometh daily and nightly to the queen, and it is shameful that we suffer so noble a king to be ashamed." Then spake Sir Gawaine, "I pray you have no such matter any way before me, for I will not be of your counsel." And so said his brothers, Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth. "Then will I," said Sir Mordred. And with these words they came to King Arthur, and told him they could suffer it no longer, but must tell him, and prove to him that Sir Launcelot was a traitor to his person.

"I would be loth to begin such a thing," said King Arthur, "for I tell you Sir Launcelot is the best knight among you all." For Sir Launcelot had done much for him and for his queen many times, and King Arthur loved him passing well.

Then Sir Agravaine advised that the king go hunting, and send word that he should be out all that night, and he and Sir Mordred, with twelve knights of the Round Table should watch the queen. So on the morrow King Arthur rode out hunting.

And Sir Launcelot told Sir Bors that night he would speak with the queen. "You shall not go this night by my counsel," said Sir Bors.

"Fair nephew," said Sir Launcelot, "I marvel me much why ye say this, sithence the queen hath sent for me." And he departed, and when he had passed to the queen's chamber, Sir Agravaine and Sir Mordred, with twelve knights, cried aloud without, "Traitor knight, now art thou taken!"

But Sir Launcelot after he had armed himself, set the chamber door wide open, and mightily and knightly strode among them, and slew Sir Agravaine and twelve of his fellows, and wounded Sir Mordred, who fled with all his might, and came straight to King Arthur, wounded and beaten, and all be-bled.

"Alas!" said the king, "now am I sure the noble fellowship of the Round Table is broken for ever, for with Launcelot will hold many a noble knight."

And the queen was adjudged to death by fire, for there was none other remedy but death for treason in those days. Then was Queen Guinever led forth without Carlisle, and despoiled unto her smock, and her ghostly father was brought to her to shrive her of her misdeeds; and there was weeping and wailing and wringing of hands.

But anon there was spurring and plucking up of horses, for Sir Launcelot and many a noble knight rode up to the fire, and none might withstand him. And a kirtle and gown were cast upon the queen, and Sir Launcelot rode his way with her to Joyous Gard, and kept her as a noble knight should.

Then came King Arthur and Sir Gawaine, whose brothers, Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth, had been slain by Sir Launcelot unawares, and laid a siege to Joyous Gard. And Launcelot had no heart to fight against his lord, King Arthur; and Arthur would have taken his queen again, and would have accorded with Sir Launcelot, but Sir Gawaine would not suffer him. Then the Pope called unto him a noble clerk, the Bishop of Rochester, and gave him bulls, under lead, unto King Arthur, charging him that he take his queen, Dame Guinever, to him again, and accord with Sir Launcelot. And as for the queen, she assented. And the bishop had of the king assurance that Sir Launcelot should come and go safe. So Sir Launcelot delivered the queen to the king, who assented that Sir Launcelot should not abide in the land past fifteen days.

Then Sir Launcelot sighed, and said these words, "Truly me repenteth that ever I came into this realm, that I should be thus shamefully banished, undeserved, and causeless." And unto Queen Guinever he said, "Madam, now I must depart from you and this noble fellowship for ever; and since it is so, I beseech you pray for me, and send me word if ye be noised with any false tongues." And therewith Launcelot kissed the queen, and said openly, "Now let me see what he be that dare say the queen is not true to King Arthur--let who will speak, and he dare!" And he took his leave and departed, and all the people wept.

IV.--The Passing of Arthur

Now, to say the truth, Sir Launcelot and his nephews were lords of the realm of France, and King Arthur and Sir Gawaine made a great host ready and shipped at Cardiff, and made great destruction and waste on his lands. And Arthur left the governance of all England to Sir Mordred. And Sir Mordred caused letters to be made that specified that King Arthur was slain in battle with Sir Launcelot; wherefore Sir Mordred made a parliament, and they chose him king, and he was crowned at Canterbury. But Queen Guinever came to London, and stuffed it with victuals, and garnished it with men, and kept it.

Then King Arthur raised the siege on Sir Launcelot, and came homeward with a great host to be avenged on Sir Mordred. And Sir Mordred drew towards Dover to meet him, and most of England held with Sir Mordred, the people were so new-fangled.

Then was there launching of great boats and small, and all were full of noble men of arms, and there was much slaughter of gentle knights; but King Arthur was so courageous none might let him to land; and his knights fiercely followed him, and put back Sir Mordred, and he fled.

But Sir Gawaine was laid low with a blow smitten on an old wound given him by Sir Launcelot. Then Sir Gawaine, after he had been shriven, wrote with his own hand to Sir Launcelot, flower of all noble knights: "I beseech thee, Sir Launcelot, return again to this realm, and see my tomb, and pray some prayer more or less for my soul. Make no tarrying but come with thy noble knights and rescue that noble king that made thee knight, for he is straitly bestood with a false traitor." And so Sir Gawaine betook his soul into the hands of our Lord God.

And many a knight drew unto Sir Mordred and many unto King Arthur, and never was there seen a dolefuller battle in a Christian land. And they fought till it was nigh night, and there were a hundred thousand laid dead upon the down.

"Alas! that ever I should see this doleful day," said King Arthur, "for now I come unto mine end. But would to God that I wist where that traitor Sir Mordred is, which hath caused all this mischief."

Then was King Arthur aware where Sir Mordred leaned upon his sword, and there King Arthur smote Sir Mordred throughout the body more than a fathom, and Sir Mordred smote King Arthur with his sword held in both hands on the side of the head, that the sword pierced the helmet and the brain-pan. And Sir Mordred fell dead; and the noble King Arthur fell in a swoon, and Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere laid him in a little chapel not far from the sea-side.

And when he came to himself again, he said unto Sir Bedivere, "Take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and throw it into that water." And when Sir Bedivere (at the third essay) threw the sword into the water, as far as he might, there came an arm and a hand above the water, and met and caught it, and so shook and brandished it thrice; and then the hand vanished away with the sword in the water.

Then Sir Bedivere bore King Arthur to the water's edge, and fast by the bank hovered a little barge, and there received him three queens with great mourning. And Arthur said, "I will unto the vale of Avillon for to heal me of my grievous wound, and if thou never hear more of me, pray for my soul." And evermore the ladies wept.

And in the morning Sir Bedivere was aware between two hills of a chapel and a hermitage; and he saw there a hermit fast by a tomb newly graven. And the hermit said, "My son, here came ladies which brought this corpse and prayed me to bury him."

"Alas," said Sir Bedivere, "that was my lord, King Arthur."

And when Queen Guinever understood that her lord, King Arthur, was slain, she stole away and went to Almesbury, and made herself a nun, and was abbess and ruler as reason would.

And Sir Launcelot passed over into England, and prayed full heartily at the tomb of Sir Gawaine, and then rode alone to find Queen Guinever. And when Sir Launcelot was brought unto her, she said: "Through this knight and me all the wars were wrought, and through our love is my noble lord slain; therefore, Sir Launcelot, I require thee that thou never look me more in the visage."

And Sir Launcelot said: "The same destiny ye have taken you unto I will take me unto." And he besought the bishop that he might be his brother; then he put a habit on Sir Launcelot, and there he served God day and night, with prayers and fastings.

And when Queen Guinever died Sir Launcelot buried her beside her lord, King Arthur. Then mourned he continually until he was dead, so within six weeks after they found him stark dead, and he lay as he had smiled. Then there was weeping and dolor out of measure. And they buried Sir Launcelot with great devotion.


ANNE MANNING

The Household of Sir Thomas More

Anne Manning, one of the most active women novelists of Queen Victoria's reign, was born in London on February 17, 1807. Her first book, "A Sister's Gift: Conversations on Sacred Subjects," was written in the form of lessons for her brothers and sisters, and published at her own expense in 1826. It was followed in 1831 by "Stories from the History of Italy," and in 1838 her first work of fiction, "Village Belles," made its appearance. In their day Miss Manning's novels had a great vogue, only equalled by her amazing output. Altogether some fifty-one stories appeared under her name, of which the best remembered is "The Household of Sir Thomas More," an imaginary diary written by More's daughter, Margaret. After appearing in "Sharpe's Magazine," it was published in book form in 1860. It is wonderfully vivid, and is written with due regard to historical facts. It is interesting to compare it with the "Life of Sir Thomas More," written by William Roper, Margaret More's husband, with which it is now frequently reprinted. Miss Manning died on September 14, 1879.

I.--Of the Writing of My Libellus

Chelsea, June 18.

On asking Mr. Gunnel to what use I should put this fayr Libellus, he did suggest my making it a kinde of family register, wherein to note the more important of our domestic passages, whether of joy or griefe--my father's journies and absences--the visits of learned men, theire notable sayings, etc. "You are ready at the pen, Mistress Margaret," he was pleased to say, "and I woulde humblie advise your journaling in the same fearless manner in the which you framed that letter which so well pleased the Bishop of Exeter that he sent you a Portugal piece. 'Twill be well to write it in English, which 'tis expedient for you not altogether to negleckt, even for the more honourable Latin."

Methinks I am close upon womanhood. My master Gonellus doth now "humblie advise" her he hath so often chid. 'Tis well to make trial of his "humble" advice.

...As I traced the last word methoughte I heard the well-known tones of Erasmus, his pleasant voyce, and indeede here is the deare little man coming up from the riverside with my father, who, because of the heat, had given his cloak to a tall stripling behind him to bear, I flew upstairs, to advertise mother, and we found 'em alreadie in the hall.

So soon as I had obtayned their blessings, the tall lad stept forth, and who should he be but William Roper, returned from my father's errand overseas! His manners are worsened, for he twice made to kiss me and drew back. I could have boxed his ears, 'speciallie as father, laughing, cried, "The third time's lucky!"

After supper, we took deare Erasmus entirely over the house, in a kind of family procession. In our own deare Academia, with its glimpse of the cleare-shining Thames, Erasmus noted and admired our cut flowers, and glanced, too, at the books on our desks--Bessy's being Livy; Daisy's, Sallust; and mine, St. Augustine, with father's marks where I was to read, and where desist. He tolde Erasmus, laying hand fondlie on my head, "Here is one who knows what is implied in the word 'trust.'" Dear father, well I may! Thence we visitted the chapel, and gallery, and all the dumb kinde. Erasmus doubted whether Duns Scotus and the Venerable Bede had been complimented in being made name-fathers to a couple of owls; but he said Argus and Juno were good cognomens for peacocks.

Anon, we rest and talk in the pavilion. Sayth Erasmus to my father, "I marvel you have never entered into the king's service in some publick capacitie."

Father smiled. "I am better and happier as I am. To put myself forward would be like printing a book at request of friends, that the publick may be charmed with what, in fact, it values at a doit. When the cardinall offered me a pension, as retaining fee to the king, I told him I did not care to be a mathematical point, to have position without magnitude."

"We shall see you at court yet," says Erasmus.

Sayth father, "With a fool's cap and bells!"

Tuesday.

This morn I surprised father and Erasmus in the pavillion. Erasmus sayd, the revival of learning seemed appoynted by Heaven for some greate purpose.

In the evening, Will and Rupert, spruce enow with nosegays and ribbons, rowed us up to Putney. We had a brave ramble through Fulham meadows, father discoursing of the virtues of plants, and how many a poor knave's pottage would be improved if he were skilled in the properties of burdock and old man's pepper.

June 20.

Grievous work overnighte with the churning. Gillian sayd that Gammer Gurney, dissatisfyde last Friday with her dole, had bewitched the creame. Mother insisted on Bess and me, Daisy and Mercy Giggs, churning until the butter came. We sang "Chevy Chase" from end to end, and then chaunted the 119th Psalme; and by the time we had attained to Lucerna Pedibus, I heard the buttermilk separating and splashing in righte earnest. 'Twas neare midnighte, however. Gillian thinketh our Latin brake the spell.

June 21.

Erasmus to Richmond with Polus (for soe he Latinises Reginald Pole), and some other of his friends.

I walked with William juxta fluvium, and he talked not badlie of his travels. There is really more in him than one would think.

To-day I gave this book to Mr. Gunnel in mistake for my Latin exercise! Was ever anything so downright disagreeable?

June 24.

Yesternighte, St. John's Eve, we went into town to see the mustering of the watch. The streets were like unto a continuation of fayr bowers or arbours, which being lit up, looked like an enchanted land. To the sound of trumpets, came marching up Cheapside two thousand of the watch and seven hundred cressett bearers, and the Lord Mayor and sheriffs, with morris dancers, waits, giants, and pageants, very fine. The streets uproarious on our way back to the barge, but the homeward passage under the stars delicious.

June 25.

Poor Erasmus caughte colde on the water last nighte, and keeps house. He spent the best part of the morning in our Academia, discussing the pronunciation of Latin and Greek with Mr. Gunnel, and speaking of his labours on his Greek and Latin Testament, which he prays may be a blessing to all Christendom. He talked of a possible Index Bibliorum, saying 'twas onlie the work of patience and Industrie. Methoughte, if none else would undertake it, why not I?

June 29.

Dr. Linacre at dinner. At table discourse flowed soe thicke and faste that I might aim in vain to chronicle it, and why should I, dwelling as I doe at the fountayn head?

In the hay-field alle the evening. Swathed father in a hay-rope. Father reclining on the hay with his head in my lap. Said he was dreaming "of a far-off future day, when thou and I shall looke back on this hour, and this hay-field, and my head on thy lap."

"Nay, but what a stupid dream, Mr. More," says mother. "If I dreamed at all, it shoulde be of being Lord Chancellor at the leaste."

"Well, wife," sayd father, "I forgive thee for not saying at the most."

July 2.

Erasmus is gone. His last saying to father was, "They will have you at court yet;" and father's answer, "When Plato's year comes round."

To me he gave a copy--how precious!--of his Greek Testament.

July 11.

A forayn mission hath been proposed to father and he did accept. Lengthe of his stay uncertain, which caste a gloom on alle.

II.--Father Goeth to the Court

May 27, 1523.

'Tis so manie months agone since I made an entry in my Libellus, as that my motto, Nulla dies sine linea, hath somewhat of sarcasm in it. In father's prolonged absence I have toiled at my Opus (the Index Bibliorum), but 'twas not to purpose, and then came that payn in my head. Father discovered my Opus, and with alle swete gentlenesse told me firmly that there are some things a woman cannot, and some she had better not do. Yet if I would persist, I shoulde have leisure and quiet and the help of his books.

Hearing Mercy propound the conditions of an hospital for aged and sick folk, father hath devised and given me the conduct of a house of refuge, and oh, what pleasure have I derived from it! "Have I cured the payn in thy head, miss?" said he. Then he gave me the key of the hospital, saying, "'Tis yours now, my joy, by livery and seisin."

August 6.

I wish William would give me back my Testament.

August 7.

Yesterday, father, taking me unawares, asked, "Come, tell me, Meg, why canst not affect Will Roper?"

I was a good while silent, at length made answer, "He is so unlike alle I have been taught to esteem and admire by you."

"Have at you," he returned laughing, "I wist not I had been sharpening weapons against myself."

Then did he plead Will's cause and bid me take him for what he is.

August 30.

Will is in sore doubte and distresse, and I fear it is my Testament that hath unsettled him. I have bidden him fast, pray, and use such discipline as our church recommends.

September 2.

I have it from Barbara through her brother, one of the men-servants, that Mr. Roper hath of late lien on the ground and used a knotted cord. I have made him an abstract from the Fathers for his soul's comfort.

1524, October.

The king took us by surprise this morning. Mother had scarce time to slip on her scarlet gown and coif ere he was in the house. His grace was mighty pleasant to all, and at going, saluted all round, which Bessy took humourously, Daisy immoveablie, Mercy humblie, I distastefullie, and mother delightedlie. She calls him a fine man; he is indeed big enough, and like to become too big; with long slits of eyes that gaze freelie on all. His eyebrows are supercilious, and his cheeks puffy. A rolling, straddling gait and abrupt speech.

Tuesday, October 25.

Will troubleth me noe longer with his lovefitt, nor with his religious disquietations. Hard studdy of the law hath filled his head with other matters, and made him infinitely more rationall and more agreeable. I shall ne'er remind him.

T'other evening, as father and I were strolling down the lane, there accosts us a poor, shabby fellow, who begged to be father's fool. Father said he had a fancy to be prime fooler in his own establishment, but liking the poor knave's wit, civilitie, and good sense, he agreed to halve the businesse, he continuing the fooling, and Patteson--for that is the simple good fellow's name--receiving the salary. Father delighteth in sparring with Patteson far more than in jesting with the king, whom he alwaies looks on as a lion that may, any minute, rend him.

1525, July 2.

Soe my fate is settled. Who knoweth at sunrise what will chance before sunsett? No; the Greeks and Romans mighte speak of chance and fate, but we must not. Ruth's hap was to light on the field of Boaz, but what she thought casual, the Lord had contrived.

'Twas no use hanging back for ever and ever, soe now there's an end, and I pray God to give Will and me a quiet life.

1528, September.

Father hath had some words with the cardinall touching the draught of some foreign treaty. "By the Mass," exclaimed his grace, nettled, "thou art the verist fool in all the council."

Father, smiling, rejoined, "God be thanked that the king, our master, hath but one fool therein."

The cardinall's rage cannot rob father of the royal favour. Howbeit, father says he has no cause to be proud thereof. "If my head," said he to Will, "could win the king a castle in France, it shoulde not fail to fly off."

...I was senseless enow to undervalue Will. Yes, I am a happy wife, a happy mother. When my little Bill stroaked dear father's face just now, and murmured "Pretty!" he burst out a-laughing, and cried, "You are like the young Cyrus, who exclaimed, 'Oh, mother, how pretty is my grandfather!'"

I often sitt for an hour or more, watching Hans Holbein at his brush. He hath a rare gift of limning; but in our likeness, which he hath painted for deare Erasmus, I think he has made us very ugly.

III.--The Great Seal is Resigned

June, 1530.

Events have followed too quick and thick for me to note 'em. Father's embassade to Cambray, and then his summons to Woodstock. Then the fire in the men's quarter, the outhouses and barns. Then, more unlookt for, the fall of my lord cardinall and father's elevation to the chancellorship.

On the day succeeding his being sworn in, Patteson marched hither and thither, in mourning and paper weepers, bearing a huge placard, inscribed, "Partnership dissolved," and crying, "My brother is dead; for now they've made him Lord Chancellor, we shall ne'er see Sir Thomas more."

Father's dispatch of business is such that one day before the end of term he was told there was no cause or petition to be sett before him, a thing unparalleled, which he desired might be formally recorded.

July 28.

Here's father at issue with half the learned heads in Christendom concerning the king's marriage. And yet for alle that, I think father is in the right.

He taketh matters soe to heart that e'en his appetite fails.

August.

He hath resigned the Great Seal! And none of us knew it until after morning prayer to-day, when, instead of one of his gentlemen stepping up to my mother in her pew, with the words, "Madam, my lord is gone," he cometh up to her himself, smiling, and with these selfsame words. She takes it at first for one of his manie jests whereof she misses the point.

Our was but a short sorrow, for we have got father to ourselves again. Patteson skipped across the garden, crying, "Let a fatted calf be killed, for this my brother who was dead is alive again!"

How shall we contract the charges of Sir Thomas More? Certain servants must go; poor Patteson, alas! can be easier spared than some.

September 22.

A tearfull morning. Poor Patteson has gone, but father had obtained him good quarters with my Lord Mayor, and he is even to retain his office with the Lord Mayor, for the time being.

1533, April 1.

The poor fool to see me, saying it is his holiday, and having told the Lord Mayor overnight that if he lookt for a fool this morning, he must look in the glass.

Patteson brought news of the coronation of Lady Anne this coming Easter, and he begs father to take a fool's advice and eat humble pie; for, says he, this proud madam is as vindictive as Herodias, and will have father's head on a charger.

April 4.

Father bidden to the coronation by three bishops. He hath, with curtesie, declined to be present. I have misgivings of the issue.

April 15.

Father summoned forth to the Council to take the oathe of supremacie. Having declared his inabilitie to take the oathe as it stoode, they bade him take a turn in the garden to reconsider. When called in agayn, he was as firm as ever, and was given in ward to the Abbot of Westminster until the king's grace was informed of the matter. And now the fool's wise saying of vindictive Herodians came true, for 'twas the king's mind to have mercy on his old servant, and tender him a qualified oathe, but Queen Anne, by her importunate clamours, did overrule his proper will, and at four days' end father was committed to the Tower. Oh, wicked woman, how could you!... Sure you never loved a father.

May 22.

Mother hath at length obtaynd access to dear father. He is stedfaste and cheerfulle as ever. He hath writ us a few lines with a coal, ending with "Sursum corda, dear children! Up with your hearts."

August 16.

The Lord begins to cut us short. We are now on very meagre commons, dear mother being obliged to pay fifteen shillings a week for the board, meagre as it is, of father and his servant. She hath parted with her velvet gown.

August 20.

I have seen him, and heard his precious words. He hath kist me for us alle.

November. Midnight.

Dear little Bill hath ta'en a feverish attack. Early in the night his mind wandered, and he says fearfullie, "Mother, why hangs yon hatchet in the air with its sharp edge turned towards us?"

I rise, to move the lamp, and say, "Do you see it now?"

He sayth, "No, not now," and closes his eyes.

November 17.

He's gone, my pretty! ... Slipt through my fingers like a bird upfled to his native skies. My Billy-bird! His mother's own heart! They are alle wondrous kind to me....

March, 1535.

Spring comes, that brings rejuvenescence to the land and joy to the heart, but none to me, for where hope dieth joy dieth. But patience, soul; God's yet in the aumry!

IV.--The Worst is Done

May 7.

Father arraigned.

July 1.

By reason of Willie minding to be present at the triall, which, for the concourse of spectators, demanded his earlie attendance, he committed the care of me, with Bess, to Dancey, Bess's husband, who got us places to see father on his way from the Tower to Westminster Hall. We coulde not come at him for the crowd, but clambered on a bench to gaze our very hearts away after him as he went by, sallow, thin, grey-haired, yet in mien not a whit cast down. His face was calm but grave, but just as he passed he caught the eye of some one in the crowd, and smiled in his old frank way; then glanced up towards the windows with the bright look he hath so oft caste up to me at my casement, but saw us not; perchance soe 'twas best.

...Will telleth me the indictment was the longest ever heard: on four counts. First, his opinion concerning the king's marriage. Second, his writing sundrie letters to the Bishop of Rochester, counselling him to hold out. Third, refusing to acknowledge his grace's supremacy. Fourth, his positive deniall of it, and thereby willing to deprive the king of his dignity and title.

They could not make good their accusation. 'Twas onlie on the last count he could be made out a traitor, and proof of't had they none. He shoulde have been acquitted out of hand, but his bitter enemy, my Lord Chancellor, called on him for his defence, whereat a general murmur ran through the court.

He began, but a moment's weakness of the body overcame him and he was accorded a seat. He then proceeded to avow his having always opposed the king's marriage to his grace himself, deeming it rather treachery to have withholden his opinion when solicited. Touching the supremacy he held there could be no treachery in holding his peace, God only being cognizant of our thoughts.

"Nay," interposeth the attorney generall, "your silence was the token of a malicious mind."

"I had always understood," answers father, "that silence stoode for consent," which made sundrie smile.

The issue of the black day was aforehand fixed. The jury retired and presentlie returned with a verdict of guilty; for they knew what the king's grace would have 'em doe in that case....

And then came the frightful sentence....

They brought him back by water ... The first thing I saw was the axe, turned with its edge towards him.

Some one laid a cold hand on mine arm; 'twas poor Patteson. He sayth, "Bide your time, Mistress Meg; when he comes past, I'll make a passage for ye." ...

O, brother, brother, what ailed thee to refuse the oath? I've taken it! ... "Now, Mistress, now!" and flinging his arms right and left, made a breach, through which I darted, fearless of bills and halberds, and did cast mine arms about father's neck. He cries, "My Meg!" and hugs me to him as though our very souls shoulde grow together. He sayth, "Bless thee, bless thee! Kiss them alle for me thus and thus." ... Soe gave me back into Dancey's arms, the guards about him alle weeping.

I did make a second rush, and agayn they had pitie on me and made pause while I hung upon his neck. He whispered, "Meg, for Christ's sake don't unman me. God's blessing be with you," he sayth with a last kiss, then adding, with a passionate upward regard, "The chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!"

I look up, almost expecting a beautific vision, and when I turn about, he's gone.

July 5,6.

Alle's over now.... They've done theire worst, and yet I live. Dr. Clement sayth he went up as blythe as a bridegroom, to be clothed upon with immortality.

July 19.

They have let us bury his poor mangled trunk; but as sure as there's a sun in heaven, I'll have his head!--before another sun has risen, too. If wise men won't speed me, I'll e'en content me with a fool.

July 20.

Quoth Patteson: "Fool and fayr lady will cheat 'em yet."

At the stairs lay a wherry with a couple of boatmen. We went down the river quietlie enow--nor lookt I up till aneath the bridge gate, when, casting up one fearsome look, I beheld the dark outline of the ghastly yet precious relic; and falling into a tremour, did wring my hands and exclaim, "Alas, alas! That head hath lain full manie a time in my lap, woulde God it lay there now!" When o' suddain, I saw the pole tremble and sway towardes me; and stretching forth my apron I did, in an extasy of gladness, pity, and horror, catch its burthen as it fell.

Patteson, shuddering, yet grinning, cries under his breath, "Managed I not well, mistress? Let's speed away with our theft, but I think not they'll follow hard after us, for there are well-wishers on the bridge. I'll put ye into the boat and then say, 'God sped ye, lady, with your burthen.'"

July 23.

I've heard Bonvisi tell of a poor Italian girl who buried her murdered lover's heart in a pot of basil, which she watered day and night with her tears, just as I do my coffer. Will hath promised it shall be buried with me; layd upon my heart, and since then I've been easier.

He thinks he shall write father's life, when we are settled in a new home. We are to be cleared out o' this in alle haste; for the king grutches at our lingering over father's footsteps, and yet when the news of the bloody deed was taken to him, he scowled at Queen Anne, saying, "Thou art the cause of this man's death!"

Flow on, bright shining Thames. A good, brave man hath walked aforetime on your margent, himself as bright, and usefull, and delightsome as you, sweet river. There's a river whose streams make glad the city of our God. He now rests beside it. Good Christian folks, as they hereafter pass this spot, will, maybe, point this way and say, "There dwelt Sir Thomas More," but whether they doe or not, Vox Populi is no very considerable matter. Theire favourite of to-day may, for what they care, goe hang himself to-morrow in his surcingle. Thus it must be while the world lasts; and the very racks and scrues wherewith they aim to overcome the nobler spiritt onlie lift and reveal its power of exaltation above the heaviest gloom of circumstance.

Interfecistis, interfecistis hominem omnium anglorum optimum.


ALESSANDRO MANZONI

The Betrothed

Poet, dramatist, and novelist, Alessandro Francesco Tommaso Manzoni was born at Milan on March 7, 1785. In early manhood he became an ardent disciple of Voltairianism, but after marriage embraced the faith of the Church of Rome; and it was in reparation of his early lapse that he composed his first important literary work, which took the form of a treatise on Catholic morality, and a number of sacred lyrics. Although Manzoni was perhaps surpassed as a poet by several of his own countrymen, his supreme position as novelist of the romantic school in Italy is indisputable. His famous work, "The Betrothed" ("I Promessi Sposi"), completed in 1822 and published at the rate of a volume a year during 1825-27, was declared by Scott to be the finest novel ever written. Manzoni died on May 22, 1873.

I.--The Schemes of Don Rodrigo

Don Abbondio, curé of a little town near Como, was no hero. It was, therefore, the less difficult for two armed bravos whom he encountered one evening in the year 1628 to convince him that the wedding of Renzo Tramaglino and Lucia Mondella must not take place, as it did not suit the designs of their master, Don Rodrigo. Renzo, however, was by no means disposed to take this view of the matter, and was like to have taken some desperate steps to express his disapproval. From this course he was dissuaded by Fra Cristoforo, a Capuchin, renowned for his wisdom and sanctity, who undertook to attempt to soften the heart of Don Rodrigo.

The friar was held in affectionate esteem by all, even by Rodrigo's bravos, and on his arrival at the castle he was at once shown into the presence of its master.

"I come," said he, "to propose to you an act of justice. Some men of bad character have made use of the name of your illustrious lordship to alarm a poor curé, and dissuade him from performing his duty, and to oppress two innocent persons--"

"In short, father," said Rodrigo, "I suppose there is some young girl you are concerned about. Since you seem to think that I am so powerful, advise her to come and put herself under my protection; she shall be well looked after. Cowled rascal!" he shouted. "Vile upstart! Thank the cassock that covers your cowardly shoulders for saving them from the caresses that such scoundrels should receive. Depart, or--"

In the meantime, plans were being discussed in Lucia's cottage.

"Listen, my children," said Agnese, her mother; "if you were married, that would be the great difficulty out of the way."

"Is there any doubt," said Renzo; "if we were married--At Bergamo, not far from here, a silk-weaver would be received with open arms. You know my cousin Bartolo has wanted me to go there and make my fortune, as he has done. Once married, we could all go thither together, and live in blessed peace, out of this villain's reach."

"Listen, then," said Agnese. "There must be two witnesses; all four must go to the priest and take him by surprise, that he mayn't have time to escape. The man says, 'Signor Curé, this is my wife'; the woman says, 'Signor Curé, this is my husband.' It is necessary that the curé and the witnesses hear it, and the marriage is then as valid and sacred as if the Pope himself had blessed it."

"But why, then," said Lucia, "didn't this plan come into Fra Cristoforo's mind?"

"Do you think it didn't?" replied she. "But--if you must know--the friars disapprove of that sort of thing."

"If it isn't right, we ought not to do it."

"What! Would I give you advice contrary to the fear of God; if it were against the will of your parents? But when I am satisfied, and he who makes all this disturbance is a villain---- Once it is done, what do you think the father will say? 'Ah! daughter; it was a sad error, but it is done.' In his heart he will be very well satisfied."

On the following night Don Abbondio was disturbed at a late hour by a certain Tonio, who came with his cousin Gervase to pay a small debt. While he was giving him a receipt for it, Renzo and Lucia slipped in unperceived. The curé was startled on suddenly hearing the words, "Signor Curé, in the presence of these witnesses, this is my wife." Instantly grasping the situation, and before Lucia's lips could form a reply, Don Abbondio seized the tablecloth, and at a bound wrapped her head in it, so that she could not complete the formula. "Perpetua!" he shouted to his housekeeper. "Help!"

Dashing to an inner room, he locked himself in, flung open the window, and shouted for help. Hearing the uproar, the sexton, who lived next door, shouted out, "What is it?"

"Help!" repeated the curé. Not being over desirous of thrusting himself blindly in upon unknown dangers, the sexton hastened to the belfry and vigorously rang the great bell. This ringing the bell had more far-reaching consequences than he anticipated. Enraged by the friar's visit, Rodrigo had determined to abduct Lucia, and sent his bravos to effect his purpose that very night. At the very moment that the bell began to ring they had just broken into Agnese's house, and were searching for the occupants. Convinced that their action was the cause of commotion, they beat a hasty retreat.

The discomfited betrothed--still only betrothed--hastily rejoined Agnese, who was waiting for them in the street. As they hurriedly turned their steps homeward a child threw himself into their way.

"Back! Back!" he breathlessly exclaimed. "This way to the monastery!"

"What is it?" asked Renzo.

"There are devils in your house," said the boy, panting. "I saw them; Fra Cristoforo said so; he sent me to warn you. He had news from someone at the castle; you must go to him at the monastery at once."

"My children," said Fra Cristoforo on their arrival, "the village is no longer safe for you; for a time, at least, you must take refuge elsewhere. I will arrange for you, Lucia, to be taken care of in a convent at Monza. You, Renzo, must put yourself in safety from the anger of others, and your own. Carry this letter to Father Bonaventura, in our monastery at Milan. He will find you work."

II.--The Riot of the Hungry

Fra Bonaventura was out when Renzo arrived to present his letter.

"Go and wait in the church, where you may employ yourself profitably," was the porter's advice, which Renzo was about to follow, when a tumultuous crowd came in sight. Here, apparently, was matter of greater interest, so he turned aside to see the cause of the uproar.

The cause, though Renzo did not at the time discover it, was the shortage of the bread supply. Owing to the ravages of war and the disturbed state of the country, much land lay uncultivated and deserted; insupportable taxes were levied; and no sooner had the deficient harvest been gathered in than the provisions for the army, and the waste which always accompanies them, made a fearful void in it. What had attracted Renzo's attention was but the sudden exacerbation of a chronic disease.

Mingling with the hurrying mob, Renzo soon discovered that they had been engaged in sacking a bakery, and were filled with fury to find large quantities of flour, the existence of which the authorities had denied. "The superintendent! The tyrant! We'll have him, dead or alive!"

Renzo found himself borne along in the thickest of the throng to the house of the superintendent, where a tremendous crowd was endeavouring to break in the doors. The tumult being allayed by the arrival of Ferrer, the chancellor, a popular favourite, Renzo became involved in conversation with some of the rioters. He asked to be directed to an inn where he could pass the night.

"I know an inn that will suit you," said one who had listened to all the speeches without himself saying a word. "The landlord is a friend of mine, a very worthy man."

So saying, he took Renzo off to an inn at some little distance, taking pains to ascertain who he was and whence he came. Arrived at the inn, the new companions shared a bottle of wine which, in Renzo's excited condition, soon mounted to his head. Another bottle was called for; and the landlord, being asked if he had a bed, produced pen, ink, and paper, and demanded his name, surname and country.

"What has all this to do with my bed?"

"I do my duty. We are obliged to report everyone that sleeps in the house."

"Oh, so I'm to tell my business, am I? This is something new. Supposing I had come to Milan to confess, I should go to a Capuchin father, not to an innkeeper."

"Well, if you won't, you won't!" said the landlord, with a glance at Renzo's companion. "I've done my duty."

So saying, he withdrew, and shortly afterwards the new-found friend insisted on taking his departure. At daybreak Renzo was awakened by a shake and a voice calling, "Lorenzo Tramaglino."

"Eh, what does this mean? What do you want? Who told you my name?" said Renzo, starting up, amazed to find three men, two of them fully armed, standing at his bedside.

"You must come with us. The high sheriff wants to have some words with you."

Renzo now found himself being led through the streets, that were still filled with a considerable number of last night's rioters, by no means yet pacified. When they had gone a little way some of the crowd, noticing them, began to form around the party.

"If I don't help myself now," thought Renzo, "it's my own fault. My friends," he shouted, "they're carrying me off because yesterday I shouted 'Bread and Justice!' Don't abandon me, my friends!"

The crowd at once began to press forward, and the bailiffs, fearing danger, let go of his hands and tried to disappear into the crowd. Renzo was carried off safely.

His only hope of safety now lay in getting entirely clear of Milan and hiding himself in some other town out of the jurisdiction of the duchy. He decided to go to Bergamo, which was under Venetian government, where he could live safely with his cousin until such time as Milan had forgotten him.

III.--The Unnamed's Penitence

Don Rodrigo was now more determined than ever to accomplish his praiseworthy undertaking, and to this end he sought the help of a very formidable character, a powerful noble, whose bravos had long been the terror of the countryside, and who was always referred to as "The Unnamed."

Lucia, having been sent one day with a note from the convent where she had found refuge to a monastery at some little distance, found herself suddenly seized from behind, and, regardless of her screams, bundled into a carriage, which drove off at a great pace.

When the carriage stopped, after a long drive, Lucia was hurried into a litter, which bore her up a steep hill to a castle, where she was shut up in a room with an old crone. After a while a resounding knock was heard on the door, and the Unnamed strode in.

Casting a glance around, he discovered Lucia crouched down on the floor in a corner.

"Come, get up!" he said to her.

The unhappy girl raised herself on her knees, and raised her hands to him.

"Oh, what have I done to you? Where am I? Why do you make me suffer the agonies of hell? In the name of God--"

"God!" interrupted he; "always God! They who cannot defend themselves must always bring forward this God. What do you expect by this word? To make me--"

"Oh, signor, what can a poor girl like me expect, except that you should have mercy upon me? God pardons so many sins for one deed of mercy. For charity's sake, let me go! I will pray for you all my life. Oh, see, you are moved to pity! Say one word; oh, say it! God pardons so many sins for one deed of mercy!"

"Oh, why isn't she the daughter of one of the dogs who outlawed me?" thought the Unnamed. "Then I should enjoy her sufferings; but instead--"

"Don't drive away a good inspiration!" continued Lucia earnestly, seeing a certain hesitation in his face.

"Perhaps some day even you--But no--no, I will always pray the Lord to keep you from every evil."

"Come, take courage," said the Unnamed, with unusual gentleness. "Have I done you any harm? To-morrow morning--"

"Oh set me free now!"

"To-morrow I will see you again."

When he left her, the unhappy girl flung herself on her knees. "O most holy Virgin," she prayed, "thou to whom I have so often recommended myself, and who hast so often comforted me! Bring me out of this danger, bring me safely to my mother, and I vow unto thee to continue a virgin! I renounce for ever my unfortunate betrothed, that I may belong only to thee!"

The Unnamed retired for the night, but not to sleep. "God pardons so many sins for one deed of mercy!" kept ringing in his ears. Suppose there was a God, after all? He had so many sins in need of pardon.

About daybreak a confused murmur reached his ear from the valley below; a distant chiming of bells began to make itself heard; nearer bells took up the peal, until the whole air rang with the sound. He demanded the cause of all this rejoicing, and was informed that Cardinal Boromeo had arrived, and that the festival was in his honour.

He went to Lucia's apartment, and found her still huddled up in a corner, but sleeping. The hag explained that she could not be prevailed upon to go to bed.

"Then let her sleep. When she wakes, tell her that I will do all she wishes."

Leaving the castle with rapid steps, the Unnamed hastened to the village where the cardinal had rested the previous night.

"Oh," cried Federigo Boromeo, "what a welcome visit is this. You have good news for me, I am sure."

"Good news! What good news can you expect from such as I?"

"That God has touched your heart, and would make you His own."

"God! God! If I could but see Him! If He be such as they say, what do you suppose that He can do with me?"

"The world has long cried out against you," replied Federigo in a solemn voice. "He can acquire through you a glory such as others cannot give Him. How must He love you, Who has bid and enabled me to regard you with a charity that consumes me!" So saying, he extended his hand.

"No!" cried the penitent. "Defile not your hand! You know not all that the one you would grasp has committed."

"Suffer me to press the hand which will repair so many wrongs, comfort so many afflicted, be extended peacefully and humbly to so many enemies."

"Unhappy man that I am," exclaimed the signor, "one thing, at least, I can quickly arrest and repair."

Federigo listened attentively to the relation of Lucia's abduction. "Ah, let us lose no time!" he exclaimed breathlessly. "This is an earnest of God's forgiveness, to make you an instrument of safety to one whom you would have ruined."

IV.--In a Lazzeretto

Thanks to his cousin, Renzo was enabled to earn very good wages, and would have been quite content to remain had it not been for his desire to rejoin Lucia. A terrible outbreak of plague in Milan spread to Bergamo, and our friend was among the first to be stricken down, his recovery being due more to his excellent constitution than to any medical skill. Thereafter, he lost no more time, and after many inquiries he succeeded in tracing Lucia to an address in Milan.

Secure in an alias, he set out to the plague-stricken city, which he found in the most deplorable condition. Having found the house of which he was in search, he knocked loudly at the door and inquired if Lucia still lived there. To his horror, he found that she had been taken to the Lazzeretto!

Let the reader imagine the enclosure of the Lazzeretto, peopled with 16,000 persons ill of the plague; the whole area encumbered, here with tents and cabins, there with carts, and elsewhere with people; crowded with dead or dying, stretched on mattresses, or on bare straw; and throughout the whole a commotion like the swell of the sea.

"Lucia, I've found you! You're living!" exclaimed Renzo, all in a tremble.

"Oh, blessed Lord!" cried she, trembling far more violently. "You?"

"How pale you are! You've recovered, though?"

"The Lord has pleased to leave me here a little longer. Ah, Renzo, why are you here?"

"Why? Need I say why? Am I no longer Renzo? Are you no longer Lucia?"

"Ah, what are you saying? Didn't my mother write to you?"

"Ay, that indeed she did. Fine things to offer to an unfortunate, afflicted, fugitive wretch who had never done you wrong."

"But, Renzo, Renzo, you don't think what you're saying! A promise to the Madonna--a vow!"

"And I think better of the Madonna than you do, for I believe she doesn't wish for promises that injure one's fellow-creatures. Promise her that our first daughter shall be called Maria, for that I'm willing to promise, too. That is a devotion that may have some use, and does no harm to anyone."

"You don't know what it is to make a vow. Leave me, for heaven's sake, and think no more about me--except in your prayers!"

"Listen, Lucia! Fra Cristoforo is here. I spoke with him but a short while ago, while I was searching for you, and he told me that I did right to come and look for you; and that the Lord would approve my acting so, and would surely help me to find you, which has come to pass."

"But if he said so, he didn't know------"

"How should he know of things you've done out of your own head, and without the advice of a priest? A good man, as he is, would never think of things of this kind. And he spoke, too, like a saint. He said that perhaps God designed to show mercy to that poor fellow, for so I must now call him, Don Rodrigo, who is now in this place, and waits to take him at the right moment, but wishes that we should pray for him together. Together! You hear? He told me to go back and tell him whether I'd found you. I'm going. We'll hear what he says."

After a while, Renzo returned with Fra Cristoforo. "My daughter," said the father, "did you recollect, when you made that vow, that you were bound by another promise?"

"When it related to the Madonna?"

"My daughter, the Lord approves of offerings when we make them of our own. It is the heart, the will that He desires. But you could not offer Him the will of another, to Whom you had pledged yourself."

"Have I done wrong?"

"No, my poor child. But tell me, have you no other motive that hinders you from fulfilling your promise to Renzo?"

Lucia blushed crimson. "Nothing else," she whispered.

"Then, my child, you know that the Church has power to absolve you from your vow?"

"But, father, is it not a sin to turn back and repent of a promise made to the Madonna? I made it at the time with my whole heart----" said Lucia, violently agitated by so unexpected a hope.

"A sin? A sin to have recourse to the Church, and to ask her minister to make use of the authority which he has received, through her, from God? And if you request me to declare you absolved from this vow, I shall not hesitate to do it; nay, I wish that you may request me."

"Then--then--I do request it!"

In an explicit voice the father then said, "By the authority I have received from the Church, I declare you absolved from the vow of virginity, and free you from every obligation you may thereby have contracted. Beseech the Lord again for those graces you once besought to make you a holy wife; and rely on it, He will bestow them upon you after so many sorrows."

"Has Renzo told you," Fra Cristoforo continued, "whom he has seen here?"

"Oh, yes, father, he has!"

"You will pray for him. Don't be weary of doing so. And pray also for me."

Some weeks later, Don Abbondio received a visit, as unexpected as it was gratifying, from the marquis who, on Rodrigo's death from the plague, succeeded to his estates.

"I come," said he, "to bring you the compliments of the cardinal archbishop. He wishes to have news of the young betrothed persons of this parish, who had to suffer on account of the unfortunate Don Rodrigo."

"Everything is settled, and they will be man and wife as soon as possible."

"And I request that you be good enough to tell me if I can be of any service to them."


And here we may safely leave Renzo and Lucia. Their powerful protector easily secured Renzo's pardon, and shortly afterwards they were happily married and settled in Bergamo, where abundant prosperity came to them; and, furthermore, they were blessed with a large family, of whom the first, being a girl, was named Maria.


FREDERICK MARRYAT

Mr. Midshipman Easy

Frederick Marryat, novelist and captain in the navy, was born in London on July 10, 1792. As a boy he chiefly distinguished himself by repeatedly running away from school with the intention of going to sea. His first experience of naval service was under Lord Cochrane, whom he afterwards reproduced as Captain Savage of the Diomede in "Peter Simple." Honourable though Marryat's life at sea was, it is as a graphic depictor of naval scenes, customs, and character that he is known to the present generation. His first story, "Frank Mildmay" (1829), took the reading public by storm, and from that time onward he produced tale after tale with startling rapidity. "Peter Simple" is the best of Captain Marryat's novels, and "Mr. Midshipman Easy" is the most humorous. Published in volume form in 1836, after appearing serially in the pages of the "Metropolitan Magazine," of which Marryat was then editor, the latter story immediately caught the fancy of the public, and considerably widened his already large circle of readers. "Mr. Midshipman Easy" is frankly farcical; it shows its author not only as a graphic writer, but as one gifted with an abundance of whimsical humour and a keen sense of characterisation. Opinions may differ as to the actual merits of "Mr. Midshipman Easy," but it has more than served its author's purpose--it has held the public for over seventy years. Captain Marryat died on August 9, 1848.

I.--Mr. Easy Joins His Majesty's Service

Mr. Nicodemus Easy was a gentleman who lived down in Hampshire. He was a married man, and in very easy circumstances, and having decided to be a philosopher, he had fixed upon the rights of man, equality, and all that--how every person was born to inherit his share of the earth--for his philosophy.

At the age of fourteen his only son, Jack, decided to go to sea.

"It has occurred to me, father," he said, "that although the whole earth has been so nefariously divided among the few, the waters at least are the property of all. No man claims his share of the sea; everyone may there plough as he pleases without being taken up for a trespasser. It is, then, only upon the ocean that I am likely to find that equality and rights of man which we are so anxious to establish on shore; and therefore I have resolved not to go to school again, which I detest, but to go to sea."

"I cannot listen to that, Jack. You must return to school."

"All I have to say is, father, that I swear by the rights of man I will not go back to school, and that I will go to sea. Was I not born my own master? Has anyone a right to dictate to me as if I were not his equal?"

Mr. Easy had nothing to reply.

"I will write to Captain Wilson," he said mournfully.

Captain Wilson, who was under considerable obligations to Mr. Easy, wrote in reply promising that he would treat Jack as his own son, and our hero very soon found his way down to Portsmouth.

As Jack had plenty of money, and was very much pleased at finding himself his own master, he was in no hurry to join his ship, and five or six companions whom he had picked up strongly advised him to put it off until the very last moment. So he was three weeks at Portsmouth before anyone knew of his arrival.

At last, Captain Wilson, receiving a note from Mr. Easy, desired Mr. Sawbridge, the first lieutenant, to make inquiries; and Mr. Sawbridge, going on shore, and being informed by the waiter at the Fountain Inn that Mr. Easy had been there three weeks, was justly indignant.

Mr. Sawbridge was a good officer, who had really worked his way up to the present rank--that is, he had served seven-and-twenty years, and had nothing but his pay. He was a good-hearted man; but when he entered Jack's room, and saw the dinner-table laid out in the best style for eight, his bile was raised by the display.

"May I beg to ask," said Jack, who was always remarkably polite in his address, "in what manner I may be of service to you?"

"Yes sir, you may--by joining your ship immediately."

Hereupon, Jack, who did not admire the peremptory tone of Mr. Sawbridge, very coolly replied. "And, pray, who are you?"

"Who am I, sir? My name is Sawbridge, sir, and I am the first lieutenant of the Harpy. Now, sir, you have your answer."

Mr. Sawbridge was not in uniform, but he imagined the name of the first lieutenant would strike terror to a culprit midshipman.

"Really, sir," replied Jack. "What may be your exact situation on board? My ignorance of the service will not allow me to guess; but if I may judge from your behaviour, you have no small opinion of yourself."

"Look ye, young man, you may not know what a first lieutenant is; but, depend upon it, I'll let you know very soon! In the meantime, sir, I insist that you go immediately on board."

"I'm sorry that I cannot comply with your very moderate request," replied Jack coolly. "I shall go on board when it suits my convenience, and I beg that you will give yourself no further trouble on my account." He then rang the bell. "Waiter, show this gentleman downstairs."

"By the god of wars!" exclaimed the first lieutenant. "But I'll soon show you down to the boat, my young bantam! I shall now go and report your conduct to Captain Wilson, and if you are not on board this evening, to-morrow morning I shall send a sergeant and a file of marines to fetch you."

"You may depend upon it," replied Jack, "that I also shall not fail to mention to Captain Wilson that I consider you a very quarrelsome, impertinent fellow, and recommend him not to allow you to remain on board. It will be quite uncomfortable to be in the same ship with such an ungentlemanly bear."

"He must be mad--quite mad!" exclaimed Sawbridge, whose astonishment even mastered his indignation. "Mad as a March hare!"

"No, sir," replied Jack, "I am not mad, but I am a philosopher."

"A what? Well, my joker, all the better for you. I shall put your philosophy to the proof."

"It is for that very reason, sir, that I have decided upon going to sea; and if you do remain on board, I hope to argue the point with you, and make you a convert to the truth of equality and the rights of man. We are all born equal. I trust you'll allow that?"

"Twenty-seven years have I been in the service!" roared Sawbridge. "But he's mad--downright, stark, staring mad!" And the first lieutenant bounced out of the room.

"He calls me mad," thought Jack. "I shall tell Captain Wilson what is my opinion about his lieutenant." Shortly afterwards the company arrived, and Jack soon forgot all about it.

In the meantime, Sawbridge called at the captain's lodgings, and made a faithful report of all that had happened.

Sawbridge and Wilson were old friends and messmates, and the captain put it to the first lieutenant that Mr. Easy, senior, having come to his assistance and released him from heavy difficulties with a most generous cheque, what could he do but be a father to his son?

"I can only say," replied Sawbridge, "that, not only to please you, but also from respect to a man who has shown such goodwill towards one of our cloth, I shall most cheerfully forgive all that has passed between the lad and me."

Captain Wilson then dispatched a note to our hero, requesting the pleasure of his company to breakfast on the ensuing morning, and Jack answered in the affirmative.

Captain Wilson, who knew all about Mr. Easy's philosophy, explained to Jack the details and rank of every person on board, and that everyone was equally obliged to obey orders. Lieutenant Sawbridge's demeanour was due entirely to his zeal for his country.

That evening Mr. Jack Easy was safe on board his majesty's sloop Harpy.

II.--On Board the Harpy

Jack remained in his hammock during the first few days at sea. He was very sick, bewildered, and confused, every minute knocking his head against the beams with the pitching and tossing of the sloop.

"And this is going to sea," thought Jack. "No wonder that no one interferes with another here, or talks about a trespass; for I am sure anyone is welcome to my share of the ocean."

When he was well enough he was told to go to the midshipman's berth, and Jack, who now felt excessively hungry, crawled over and between chests until he found himself in a hole infinitely inferior to the dog-kennels which received his father's pointers.

"I'd not only give up the ocean," thought Jack, "and my share of it, but also my share of the Harpy, unto anyone who fancies it. Equality enough here, for everyone appears equally miserably off."

But when he had gained the deck, the scene of cheerfulness, activity, and order lightened his heart after the four days of suffering, close air, and confinement from which he had just emerged.

Jack dined with the captain that night, and was very much pleased to find that everyone drank wine with him, and that everybody at the captain's table appeared to be on an equality. Before the dessert had been on the table five minutes, Jack became loquacious on his favourite topic. All the company stared with surprise at such an unheard-of doctrine being broached on board of a man-of-war.

This day may be considered as the first in which Jack really made his appearance on board, and it also was on this first day that Jack made known, at the captain's table, his very peculiar notions. If the company at the captain's table were astonished at such heterodox opinions being started, they were equally astonished at the cool, good-humoured ridicule with which they were received by Captain Wilson. The report of Jack's boldness, and every word and opinion that he had uttered--of course, much magnified--were circulated that evening through the whole ship; the matter was canvassed in the gun-room by the officers, and descanted upon by the midshipmen as they walked the deck. The boatswain talked it over with the other warrant officers, till the grog was all gone, and then dismissed it as too dry a subject.

The bully of the midshipman's berth--a young man about seventeen, named Vigors--at once attacked our hero.

"So, my chap, you are come on board to raise a mutiny here with your equality? You came off scot free at the captain's table, but it won't do, I can tell you; someone must knock under in the midshipman's berth, and you are one of them."

"I can assure you that you are mistaken," replied Easy.

At school Jack had fought and fought again, until he was a very good bruiser, and although not so tall as Vigors, he was much better built for fighting.

"I've thrashed bigger fellows than he," he said to himself.

"You impudent blackguard!" exclaimed Vigors. "If you say another word, I'll give you a good thrashing, and knock some of your equality out of you!"

"Indeed!" replied Jack, who almost fancied himself back at school. "We'll try that!"

Vigors had gained his assumed authority more by bullying than fighting; others had submitted to him without a sufficient trial. Jack, on the contrary, had won his way up in school by hard and scientific combat. The result, therefore, may easily be imagined. In less than a quarter of an hour Vigors, beaten dead, with his eyes closed and three teeth out, gave in; while Jack, after a basin of water, looked as fresh as ever.

After that, Jack declared that as might was right in a midshipman's berth, he would so far restore equality that, let who would come, they must be his master before they should tyrannise over those weaker than he.

III.--The Triangular Duel

Jack, although generally popular on board, had made enemies of Mr. Biggs, the boatswain, and Mr. Easthupp, the purser's steward. The latter--a cockney and a thief--had even been kicked down the hatchway by our hero.

When the Harpy was at Malta, Jack, wroth at the way the two men talked at him, declared he would give them satisfaction.

"Mr. Biggs, let you and this fellow put on plain clothes, and I will meet you both."

"One at a time?" said the boatswain.

"No, sir; not one at a time, but both at the same time. I will fight both or none. If you are my superior officer, you must descend to meet me, or I will not descend to meet that fellow, whom I believe to have been little better than a pickpocket!"

Mr. Biggs having declared that he would fight, of course, had to look out for a second, and he fixed upon Mr. Tallboys, the gunner, and requested him to be his friend. Mr. Tallboys consented, but he was very much puzzled how to arrange that three were to fight at the same time, for he had no idea of there being two duels. Jack had no one to confide in but Gascoigne, a fellow-midshipman; and although Gascoigne thought it was excessively infra dig. of Jack to meet even the boatswain, as the challenge had been given there was no retracting, and he therefore consented and went to meet Mr. Tallboys.

"Mr. Gascoigne," said the gunner, "you see that there are three parties to fight. Had there been two or four there would have been no difficulty, as the straight line or square might guide us in that instance; but we must arrange it upon the triangle in this."

Gascoigne stared. He could not imagine what was coming.

"The duel between three can only be fought upon the principle of the triangle," the gunner went on. "You observe," he said, taking a piece of chalk and making a triangle on the table, "in this figure we have three points, each equidistant from each other; and we have three combatants, so that, placing one at each point, it is all fair play for the three. Mr. Easy, for instance, stands here, the boatswain here, and the purser's steward at the third corner. Now, if the distance is fairly measured it will be all right."

"But then," replied Gascoigne, delighted at the idea, "how are they to fire?"

"It certainly is not of much consequence," replied the gunner; "but still, as sailors, it appears to me that they should fire with the sun--that is, Mr. Easy fires at Mr. Biggs, Mr. Biggs fires at Mr. Easthupp, and Mr. Easthupp fires at Mr. Easy, so that you perceive that each party has his shot at one, and at the same time receives the fire of another."

Gascoigne was in ecstasies at the novelty of the proceeding.

"Upon my word, Mr. Tallboys, I give you great credit. You have a profound mathematical head, and I am delighted with your arrangement. I shall insist upon Mr. Easy consenting to your excellent and scientific proposal."

Gascoigne went out and told Jack what the gunner had proposed, at which Jack laughed heartily. The gunner also explained it to the boatswain, who did not very well comprehend, but replied, "I daresay it's all right. Shot for shot, and d---- all favours!"

The parties then repaired to the spot with two pairs of ship's pistols, which Mr. Tallboys had smuggled on shore; and as soon as they were on the ground, the gunner called Mr. Easthupp. In the meantime, Gascoigne had been measuring an equilaterial triangle of twelve paces, and marked it out. Mr. Tallboys, on his return with the purser's steward, went over the ground, and finding that it was "equal angles subtended by equal sides," declared that it was all right. Easy took his station, the boatswain was put into his, and Mr. Easthupp, who was quite in a mystery, was led by the gunner to the third position.

"But, Mr. Tallboys," said the purser's steward, "I don't understand this. Mr. Easy will first fight Mr. Biggs, will he not?"

"No," replied the gunner; "this is a duel of three. You will fire at Mr. Easy, Mr. Easy will fire at Mr. Biggs, and Mr. Biggs will fire at you. It is all arranged, Mr. Easthupp."

"But," said Mr. Easthupp, "I do not understand it. Why is Mr. Biggs to fire at me? I have no quarrel with Mr. Biggs."

"Because Mr. Easy fires at Mr. Biggs, and Mr. Biggs must have his shot as well."

"But still, I've no quarrel with Mr. Biggs, and therefore, Mr. Biggs, of course you will not aim at me."

"Why, you don't think that I'm going to be fired at for nothing?" replied the boatswain. "No, no; I'll have my shot, anyhow!"

"But at your friend, Mr. Biggs?"

"All the same, I shall fire at somebody, shot for shot, and hit the luckiest."

"Vel, gentlemen, I purtest against these proceedings," remarked Mr. Easthupp. "I came here to have satisfaction from Mr. Easy, and not to be fired at by Mr. Biggs."

"So you would have a shot without receiving one?" cried Gascoigne. "The fact is that this fellow's a confounded coward."

At this affront, Mr. Easthupp rallied, and accepted the pistol offered by the gunner.

"You 'ear those words, Mr. Biggs? Pretty language to use to a gentleman! I purtest no longer, Mr. Tallboys. Death before dishonour--I'm a gentleman!"

The gunner gave the word as if he were exercising the great guns on board ship.

"Cock your locks! Take good aim at the object! Fire!"

Mr. Easthupp clapped his hand to his trousers, gave a loud yell, and then dropped down, having presented his broadside as a target to the boatswain. Jack's shot had also taken effect, having passed through both the boatswain's cheeks, without further mischief than extracting two of his best upper double teeth, and forcing through the hole of the farther cheek the boatswain's own quid of tobacco. As for Mr. Easthupp's ball, as he was very unsettled and shut his eyes before he fired, it had gone heaven knows where.

The purser's steward lay on the ground and screamed; the boatswain threw down his pistol in a rage. The former was then walked off to the hospital, attended by the gunner, and also the boatswain, who thought he might as well have a little medical advice before going on board.

"Well, Easy," said Gascoigne, collecting the pistols and tying them up in his handkerchief, "I'll be shot, but we're in a pretty scrape; there's no hushing this up. I'll be hanged if I care; it's the best piece of fun I ever met with."

"I'm afraid that our leave will be stopped for the future," replied Jack.

"Confound it, and they say that the ship is to be here six weeks at least. I won't go on board. Look ye, Jack, we'll pretend to be so much alarmed at the result of this duel, that we dare not show ourselves lest we should be hung. I will write a note and tell all the particulars to the master's mate, and refer to the gunner for the truth of it, and beg him to intercede with the captain and first lieutenant. I know that although we should be punished, they will only laugh; but I will pretend that Easthupp is killed, and we are frightened out of our lives. That will be it; and then let's get on board one of the fruit boats, sail in the night for Palermo, and then we'll have a cruise for a fortnight, and when the money is all gone we'll come back."

"That's a capital idea, Ned, and the sooner we do it the better."

They were two very nice lads.

IV.--Jack Leaves the Service

At the end of four years at sea, Jack had been cured of his philosophy of equality. The death of his mother, and a letter from the old family doctor that his father was not in his senses, decided him to return home.

"It is fortunate for you that the estate is entailed," wrote Dr. Middleton, "or you might soon be a beggar, for there is no saying what debts your father might, in his madness, be guilty of. He has turned away his keepers, and allowed poachers to go all over the manor. I consider that it is absolutely necessary that you should immediately return home and look after what will one day be your property. You have no occasion to follow the profession with your income of £8,000 per annum. You have distinguished yourself, now make room for those who require it for their subsistence."

Captain Wilson approved of the decision, and Jack left the service. At his request, his devoted admirer Mesty--an abbreviation of Mephistopheles--an African, once a prince in Ashantee and now the cook of the midshipmen's mess, was allowed to leave the service and accompany our hero to England as his servant.

From the first utterances of Jack on the subject of liberty and equality, he had won Mesty's heart, and in a hundred ways the black had proved his fidelity and attachment. His delight at going home with his patron was indescribable.

Jack had not written to his father to announce his arrival, and when he reached home he found things worse than he expected.

His father was at the mercy of his servants, who, insolent and insubordinate, robbed, laughed at, and neglected him. The waste and expense were enormous. Our hero, who found how matters stood, soon resolved what to do.

He rose early; Mesty was in the room, with warm water, as soon as he rang.

"By de power, Massa Easy, your fader very silly old man!"

"I'm afraid so," replied Jack. "How are they getting on in the servants' hall?"

"Regular mutiny, sar--ab swear dat dey no stand our nonsense, and dat we both leave the house to-morrow."

Jack went to his father.

"Do you hear, sir, your servants declare that I shall leave your house to-morrow."

"You leave my house, Jack, after four years' absence! No, no, I'll reason with them--I'll make them a speech. You don't know how I can speak, Jack."

"Look you, father, I cannot stand this. Either give me carte blanche to arrange this household as I please, or I shall quit it myself to-morrow morning."

"Quit my house, Jack! No, no--shake hands and make friends with them; be civil, and they will serve you."

"Do you consent, sir, or am I to leave the house?"

"Leave the house! Oh, no; not leave the house, Jack. I have no son but you. Then do as you please--but you will not send away my butler--he escaped hanging last assizes on an undoubted charge of murder? I selected him on purpose, and must have him cured, and shown as a proof of a wonderful machine I have invented."

"Mesty," said Jack, "get my pistols ready for to-morrow morning, and your own too--do you hear? It is possible, father, that you may not have yet quite cured your murderer, and therefore it is as well to be prepared."

Mr. Easy did not long survive his son's return, and under Jack's management, in which Mesty rendered invaluable assistance, the household was reformed, and the estate once more conducted on reasonable lines.

A year later Jack was married, and Mesty, as major domo, held his post with dignity, and proved himself trustworthy.


Peter Simple

"Peter Simple," published in 1833, is in many respects the best of all Marryat's novels. Largely drawn from Marryat's own professional experiences, the story, with its vivid portraiture and richness of incident, is told with rare atmosphere and style. Hogg placed the character of "Peter Simple" on a level with Fielding's "Parson Adams;" Edgar Allan Poe, on the other hand, found Marryat's works "essentially mediocre."

I.--I am Sacrificed to the Navy

I think that had I been permitted to select my own profession in childhood, I should in all probability have bound myself apprentice to a tailor, for I always envied the comfortable seat which they appeared to enjoy upon the shopboard. But my father, who was a clergyman of the Church of England and the youngest brother of a noble family, had a lucrative living, and a "soul above buttons," if his son had not. It has been from time immemorial the custom to sacrifice the greatest fool of the family to the prosperity and naval superiority of the country, and at the age of fourteen, I was selected as the victim.

My father, who lived in the North of England, forwarded me by coach to London, and from London I set out by coach for Portsmouth.

A gentleman in a plaid cloak sat by me, and at the Elephant and Castle a drunken sailor climbed up by the wheel of the coach and sat down on the other side.

I commenced a conversation with the gentleman in the plaid cloak relative to my profession, and asked him whether it was not very difficult to learn.

"Larn," cried the sailor, interrupting us, "no; it may be difficult for such chaps as me before the mast to larn; but you, I presume, is a reefer, and they ain't not much to larn, 'cause why, they pipe-clays their weekly accounts, and walks up and down with their hands in their pockets. You must larn to chaw baccy and drink grog, and then you knows all a midshipman's expected to know nowadays. Ar'n't I right, sir?" said the sailor, appealing to the gentleman in a plaid cloak. "I axes you, because I see you're a sailor by the cut of your jib. Beg pardon, sir," continued he, touching his hat; "hope no offence."

"I am afraid that you have nearly hit the mark, my good fellow," replied the gentleman.

At the bottom of Portsdown Hill I inquired how soon we should be at Portsmouth. He answered that we were passing the lines; but I saw no lines, and I was ashamed to show my ignorance. The gentleman in a plaid cloak asked me what ship I was going to join, and whether I had a letter of introduction to the captain.

"Yes, I have," replied I. And I pulled out my pocket-book, in which the letter was. "Captain Savage, H.M. ship Diomede," I read.

To my surprise, he very coolly took the letter and proceeded to open it, which occasioned me immediately to snatch the letter from him, stating my opinion at the same time that it was a breach of honour, and that in my opinion he was no gentleman.

"Just as you please, youngster," replied he. "Recollect, you have told me I am no gentleman."

He wrapped his plaid around him and said no more, and I was not a little pleased at having silenced him by my resolute behaviour.

I stayed at the Blue Posts, where all the midshipmen put up, that night, and next morning presented myself at the George Inn with my letter of introduction to Captain Savage.

"Mr. Simple, I am glad to see you," said a voice. And there sat, with his uniform and epaulets, and his sword by his side, the passenger in the plaid cloak who wanted to open my letter and whom I had told to his face that he was "no gentleman!"

I thought I should have died, and was just sinking down upon my knees to beg for mercy, when the captain, perceiving my confusion, burst out into a laugh, and said, "So you know me again, Mr. Simple? Well, don't be alarmed. You did your duty in not permitting me to open the letter, supposing me, as you did, to be some other person, and you were perfectly right, under that supposition, to tell me that I was not a gentleman. I give you credit for your conduct. Now, I think the sooner you go on board the better."

On my arrival on board, the first lieutenant, after looking at me closely, said, "Now, Mr. Simple, I have looked attentively at your face, and I see at once that you are very clever, and if you do not prove so in a very short time, why--you had better jump overboard, that's all."

I was very much terrified at this speech, but at the same time I was pleased to hear that he thought me clever. My unexpected reputation was shortly afterwards strengthened, when, noticing the first lieutenant in consultation with the gunner, the former, on my approaching, said, "Youngster hand me that monkey's tail."

I saw nothing like a monkey's tail, but I was so frightened that I snatched up the first thing that I saw, which was a short bar of iron, and it so happened that it was the very article which he wanted.

"So you know what a monkey's tail is already, do you?" said the first lieutenant. "Now don't you ever sham stupid after that."

A fortnight later, at daylight, a signal from the flagship in harbour was made for us to unmoor; our orders had come to cruise in the Bay of Biscay. The captain came on board, the anchor weighed, and we ran through the Needles with a fine breeze. Presently I felt so very ill that I went down below. What occurred for the next six days I cannot tell. I thought I should die every moment, and lay in my hammock, incapable of eating, drinking, or walking about.

O'Brien, the senior midshipman and master's mate, who had been very kind to me, came to me on the seventh, morning and said that if I did not exert myself I never should get well; that he had taken me under his protection, and to prove his regard would give me a good basting, which was a sovereign remedy for sea-sickness. He suited the action to the word, and drubbed me on the ribs without mercy until I thought the breath was out of my body; but I obeyed his orders to go on deck immediately, and somehow or other did contrive to crawl up the ladder to the main deck, where I sat down and cried bitterly. What would I have given to have been at home again! It was not my fault that I was the greatest fool of the family, yet how was I punished for it! But, by degrees, I recovered myself, and certainly that night I slept very soundly.

The next morning O'Brien came to me again.

"It's a nasty slow fever, that sea-sickness, my Peter, and we must drive it out of you."

And then he commenced a repetition of yesterday's remedy until I was almost a jelly. Whether the fear of being thrashed drove away my sickness, I do not know, but this is certain, that I felt no more of it after the second beating, and the next morning when I awoke I was very hungry.

II.--I am Taken Prisoner

One morning at daybreak we found ourselves about four miles from the town of Cette, and a large convoy of vessels coming round a point. We made all sail in chase, and they anchored close in shore under a battery, which we did not discover until it opened fire upon us. The captain tacked the ship, and stood out again, until the boats were hoisted out, and all ready to pull on shore and storm the battery. O'Brien, who was the officer commanding the first cutter on service, was in his boat, and I obtained permission from him to smuggle myself into it.

We ran ashore, amidst the fire of the gunboats which protected the convoy, by which we lost three men, and made for the battery, which we took without opposition, the French artillerymen running out as we ran in. The directions of the captain were very positive not to remain in the battery a minute after it was taken, but to board the gunboats, leaving only one of the small boats, with the armourer, to spike the guns, for the captain was aware that there were troops stationed along the coast who might come down upon us and beat us off.

The first lieutenant, who commanded, desired O'Brien to remain with the first cutter, and after the armourer had spiked the guns, as officer of the boat he was to shove off immediately. O'Brien and I remained in the battery with the armourer, the boat's crew being ordered down to the boat to keep her afloat and ready to shove off at a moment's warning. We had spiked all the guns but one, when all of a sudden a volley of musketry was poured upon us, which killed the armourer, and wounded me in the leg above the knee. I fell down by O'Brien, who cried out, "By the powers, here they are, and one gun not spiked!" He jumped down, wrenched the hammer from the armourer's hand, and seizing a nail from the bag, in a few moments he had spiked the gun.

At this time I heard the tramping of the French soldiers advancing, when O'Brien threw away the hammer and lifting me upon his shoulders cried, "Come along, Peter, my boy," and made for the boat as fast as he could. But he was too late; he had not got half-way to the boat before he was collared by two French soldiers and dragged back into the battery. The French troops then advanced and kept up a smart fire; our cutter escaped and joined the other boat, who had captured the gunboats and convoy with little opposition.

In the meantime, O'Brien had been taken into the battery with me on his back; but as soon as he was there he laid me gently down, saying, "Peter, my boy, as long as you were under my charge, I'd carry you through thick and thin; but now that you are under the charge of these French beggars, why, let them carry you."

When the troops ceased firing (and if O'Brien had left one gun unspiked they must have done a great deal of mischief to our boats), the commanding officer came up to O'Brien, and looking at him, said, "Officer?" to which O'Brien nodded his head. He then pointed to me--"Officer?" O'Brien nodded his head again, at which the French troops laughed, and called me an enfant.

Then, as I was very faint and could not walk, I was carried on three muskets, O'Brien walking by my side, till we reached the town of Cette; there we were taken to the commanding officer's house. It turned out that this officer's name was also O'Brien, and that he was of Irish descent. He and his daughter Celeste, a little girl of twelve, treated us both with every kindness. Celeste was my little nurse, and we became very intimate, as might be expected. Our chief employment was teaching each other French and English.

Before two months were over, I was quite recovered, and soon the time came when we were to leave our comfortable quarters for a French prison. Captain Savage had sent our clothes and two hundred dollars to us under a flag of truce, and I had taken advantage of this to send a letter off which I dictated to Colonel O'Brien, containing my statement of the affair, in which I mentioned O'Brien's bravery in spiking the gun and in looking after me. I knew that he would never tell if I didn't.

At last the day came for us to leave, and my parting with Celeste was very painful. I promised to write to her, and she promised to answer my letters if it were permitted. We shook hands with Colonel O'Brien, thanking him for his kindness, and much to his regret we were taken in charge by two French cuirassiers, and so set off, on parole, on horseback for Toulon.

From Toulon we were moved to Montpelier, and from Montpelier to Givet, a fortified town in the department of Ardennes, where we arrived exactly four months after our capture.

III.--We Make Our Escape

O'Brien had decided at once that we should make our escape from the prison at Givet.

First he procured a plan of the fortress from a gendarme, and then, when we were shown into the room allotted to us, and our baggage was examined, the false bottom of his trunk was not noticed, and by this means various instruments he had bought on the road escaped detection. Round his body O'Brien had also wound a rope of silk, sixty feet long, with knots at every two feet.

The practicability of escape from Givet seemed to me impossible. The yard of the fortress was surrounded by a high wall; the buildings appropriated for the prisoners were built with lean-to roofs on one side, and at each side of the square was a sentry looking down upon us. We had no parole, and but little communication with the towns-people.

But O'Brien, who often examined the map he had procured from the gendarme, said to me one day, "Peter, can you swim?"

"No," replied I; "but never mind that."

"But I must mind it, Peter; for observe we shall have to cross the River Meuse, and boats are not always to be had. This fortress is washed by the river on one side; and as it is the strongest side it is the least guarded--we must escape by it. I can see my way clear enough till we get to the second rampart on the river, but when we drop into the river, if you cannot swim, I must contrive to hold you up somehow or other. But first tell me, do you intend to try your luck with me?"

"Yes," replied I, "most certainly, if you have sufficient confidence in me to take me as your companion."

"To tell you the truth, Peter, I would not give a farthing to escape without you. We were taken together, and, please God, we'll take ourselves off together, directly we get the dark nights and foul weather."

We had been about two months in Givet when letters arrived. My father wrote requesting me to draw for whatever money I might require, and also informing me that as my Uncle William was dead, there was now only one between him and the title, but that my grandfather, Lord Privilege, was in good health. O'Brien's letter was from Captain Savage; the frigate had been sent home with despatches, and O'Brien's conduct represented to the Admiralty, which had, in consequence, promoted him to the rank of lieutenant. We read each other's letters, and O'Brien said, "I see your uncle is dead. How many more uncles have you?"

"My Uncle John, who is married, and has already two daughters."

"Blessings on him! Peter, my boy, you shall be a lord before you die."

"Nonsense, O'Brien; I have no chance."

"What chance had I of being lieutenant, and am I not one? And now, my boy, prepare yourself to quit this cursed hole in a week, wind and weather permitting. But, Peter, do me one favour. As I am really a lieutenant, just touch your hat to me, only once, that's all; but I wish the compliment, just to see how it looks."

"Lieutenant O'Brien," said I, touching my hat, "have you any further orders?"

"Yes, sir," replied he; "that you never presume to touch your hat to me again, unless we sail together, and then that's a different sort of thing."

A week later, O'Brien's preparations were complete. I had bought a new umbrella on his advice, and this he had painted with a preparation of oil and beeswax. He had also managed to procure a considerable amount of twine, which he had turned into a sort of strong cord, or square plait.

At twelve o'clock on a dark November night we left our room and went down into the yard. By means of pieces of iron, which he drove into the interstices of the stone, we scaled a high wall, and dropped down on the other side by a drawbridge. Here the sentry was asleep, but O'Brien gagged him, and I threw open the pan of his musket to prevent him from firing.

Then I followed O'Brien into the river. The umbrella was opened and turned upwards, and I had only to hold on to it at arm's-length. O'Brien had a tow line, and taking this in his teeth, he towed me down with the stream to about a hundred yards clear of the fortress, where we landed. O'Brien was so exhausted that for a few minutes he remained quite motionless. I also was benumbed with the cold.

"Peter," said he, "thank God we have succeeded so far. Now we must push on as far as we can, for we shall have daylight in two hours."

It was not till some months later that, after many adventures, we reached Flushing, and procured the services of a pilot. With a strong tide and a fair wind we were soon clear of the Scheldt, and next morning a cutter hove in sight, and in a few minutes we found ourselves once more under the British pennant.

IV.--In Bedlam

Once, in the West Indies, O'Brien and I had again come across our good friend Colonel O'Brien and his daughter Celeste. He was now General O'Brien, Governor of Martinique; and Celeste was nineteen, and I one-and-twenty. And though France and England were still at war, before we parted Celeste and I were lovers, engaged to be married; and the general raised no objection to our attachment.

On our return from that voyage a series of troubles overtook me. My grandfather, Lord Privilege, had begun to take some interest in me; but before he died my uncle went to live with him, and so poisoned his mind against me that when the old lord's will was read it was found that £10,000 bequeathed to me had been cancelled by a codicil. As both my brothers and my other uncle were dead, my uncle was enraged at the possibility of my succeeding to the title.

The loss of £10,000 was too much for my father's reason, and from lunacy he went quietly to his grave, leaving my only sister, Ellen, to find a home among strangers.

In the meantime, O'Brien had been made a captain, and had sailed for the East Indies. I was to have accompanied him, but my uncle, who had now succeeded to the title, had sufficient influence at the Admiralty to prevent this, and I was appointed first lieutenant to a ship whose captain, an illegitimate son of Lord Privilege, was determined to ruin me. Captain Hawkins was a cowardly, mean, tyrannical man, and, although I kept my temper under all his petty persecutions, he managed at last to string together a number of accusations and, on our return, send me to a court-martial.

The verdict of the court-martial was that "the charges of insubordination had been partly proved, and therefore that Lieutenant Peter Simple was dismissed his ship; but in consideration of his good character and services his case was strongly recommended to the consideration of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty."

I hardly knew whether I felt glad or sorry at this sentence. On the one hand, in spite of the fourteen years I had served, it was almost a death-blow to my future advancement or employment in the service; on the other, the recommendation very much softened down the sentence, and I was quite happy to be quit of Captain Hawkins and free to hasten to my poor sister.

I hurried on shore, but on my journey north fell ill with fever, and for three weeks was in a state of alternate stupor and delirium, lying in a cottage by the roadside.

My uncle, learning of my condition, thought this too favourable an opportunity, provided I should live, not to have me in his power. He sent to have me removed, and some days afterwards--for I recollect nothing about the journey--I found myself in bed in a dark room, and my arms confined. Where was I? Presently the door opened, and a man entered who took down a shutter, and the light streamed in. The walls were bare and whitewashed. I looked at the window; it was closed up with two iron bars.

"Why, where am I?" I inquired, with alarm.

"Where are you?" replied he. "Why, in Bedlam!"

As I afterwards discovered, my uncle had had me confined upon the plea that I was a young man who was deranged with an idea that his name was Simple, and that he was the heir to the title and estates, and that it was more from the fear of my coming to some harm than from any ill-will toward the poor young man that he wished me to remain in the hospital and be taken care of. Under these circumstances, I remained in Bedlam for one year and eight months.

A chance visit from General O'Brien, a prisoner on parole, who was accompanied by his friend, Lord Belmore, secured my release; and shortly afterwards I commenced an action for false imprisonment against Lord Privilege. But the sudden death of my uncle stopped the action, and gave me the title and estates. The return of my old messmate, Captain O'Brien, who had just been made Sir Terence O'Brien, in consequence of his successes in the East Indies, added to my happiness.

I found that Sir Terence had been in love with my sister Ellen from the day I had first taken him home, and that Ellen was equally in love with him; so when Celeste consented to my entreaties that our wedding should take place six weeks after my assuming the title, O'Brien took the hint and spoke.

Both unions have been attended with as much happiness as this world can afford. O'Brien and I are blessed with children, until we can now muster a large Christmas party in the two families.

Such is the history of Peter Simple, Viscount Privilege, no longer the fool, but the head, of the family.


CHARLES MATURIN

Melmoth the Wanderer

The romances of Charles Robert Maturin mark the transition stage between the old crude "Gothic" tales of terror and the subtler and weirder treatment of the supernatural that had its greatest master in Edgar Allan Poe. Maturin was born at Dublin in 1782, and died there on October 30, 1824. He became a clergyman of the Church of Ireland; but his leanings were literary rather than clerical, and his first story, "Montorio" (1807), was followed by others that brought him increasing popularity. Over-zealousness on a friend's behalf caused him heavy financial losses, for which he strove to atone by an effort to write for the stage. Thanks to the good offices of Scott and Byron, his tragedy, "Bertram," was acted at Drury Lane in 1816, and proved successful. But his other dramatic essays were failures, and he returned to romance. In 1820 was published his masterpiece, "Melmoth the Wanderer," the central figure of which is acknowledged to be one of the great Satanic creations of literature. The book has been more appreciated in France than in England; one of its most enthusiastic admirers was Balzac, who paid it the compliment of writing a kind of sequel to it.

I.--The Portrait

"I want a glass of wine," groaned the old man; "it would keep me alive a little longer."

John Melmoth offered to get some for him. The dying man clutched the blankets around him, and looked strangely at his nephew.

"Take this key," he said. "There is wine in that closet."

John knew that no one but his uncle had entered the closet for sixty years--his uncle who had spent his life in greedily heaping treasure upon treasure, and who, now, on his miserable death-bed, grudged the clergyman's fee for the last sacrament.

When John stepped into the closet, his eyes were instantly riveted by a portrait that hung on the wall. There was nothing remarkable about costume or countenance, but the eyes, John felt, were such as one feels they wish they had never seen. In the words of Southey, "they gleamed with demon light." John held the candle to the portrait, and could distinguish the words on the border: "Jno. Melmoth, anno 1646." He gazed in stupid horror until recalled by his uncle's cough.

"You have seen the portrait?" whispered old Melmoth.

"Yes."

"Well, you will see him again--he is still alive."

Later in the night, when the miser was at the point of death, John saw a figure enter the room, deliberately look round, and retire. The face of the figure was the face of the portrait! After a moment of terror, John sprang up to pursue, but the shrieks of his uncle recalled him. The agony was nearly ended; in a few minutes old Melmoth was dead.

In the will, which made John a wealthy man, there was an instruction to him to destroy the portrait in the closet, and also to destroy a manuscript that he would find in the mahogany chest under the portrait; he was to read the manuscript if he pleased.

On a cold and gloomy evening John entered the closet, found the manuscript, and with a feeling of superstitious awe, began to read it. The task was a hard one, for the manuscript was discoloured and mutilated, and much was quite indecipherable.

John was able to gather, however, that it was the narrative of an Englishman, named Stanton, who had travelled in Spain in the seventeenth century. On one night of storm, Stanton had seen carried past him the bodies of two lovers who had been killed by lightning. As he watched, a man had stepped forward, had looked calmly at the bodies, and had burst into a horrible demoniac laugh. Stanton saw the man several times, always in circumstances of horror; he learnt that his name was Melmoth. This being exercised a kind of fascination over Stanton, who searched for him far and wide. Ultimately, Stanton was confined in a madhouse by relatives who wanted to secure his property; and from the madhouse he was offered, but refused, release by Melmoth as a result of some bargain, the nature of which was not revealed.

After reading this story, John Melmoth raised his eyes, and he started involuntarily as they encountered those of the portrait. With a shudder, he tore the portrait from its frame, and rushed into his room, where he flung its fragments on the fire.

The mansion was close by the iron-bound coast of Wicklow, in Ireland, and on the next night John was summoned forth by the news that a vessel was in distress. He saw immediately that the ship was doomed. She lay beating upon a rock, against which the tempest hurled breakers that dashed their foam to a height of thirty feet.

In the midst of the tumult John descried, standing a little above him on the rock, a figure that showed neither sympathy nor terror, uttered no sound, offered no help. A few minutes afterwards he distinctly heard the words, "Let them perish!"

Just then a tremendous wave dashing over the vessel extorted a cry of horror from the spectators. When the cry had ceased, Melmoth heard a laugh that chilled his blood. It was from the figure that stood above him. He recalled Stanton's narrative. In a blind fury of eagerness, he began to climb the rock; but a stone gave way in his grasp, and he was hurled into the roaring deep below.

It was several days before he recovered his senses, and he then learned that he had been rescued by the one survivor of the wreck, a Spaniard, who had clutched at John and dragged him ashore with him. As soon as John had recovered somewhat, he hastened to thank his deliverer, who was lodged in the mansion. Having expressed his gratitude, Melmoth was about to retire, when the Spaniard detained him.

"Señor," he said, "I understand your name is"--he gasped--"Melmoth?"

"It is."

"Had you," said the Spaniard rapidly, "a relative who was, about one hundred and forty years ago, said to be in Spain?"

"I believe--I fear--I had."

"Are you his descendant? Are you the repository of that terrible secret which--?" He gave way to uncontrollable agitation. Gradually he recovered himself, and went on. "It is singular that accident should have placed me within the reach of the only being from whom I could expect either sympathy or relief in the extraordinary circumstances in which I am placed--circumstances which I did not believe I should ever disclose to mortal man, but which I shall disclose to you."

II.--The Spaniard's Story

I am, as you know, a native of Spain; but you are yet to learn that I am a descendant of one of its noblest houses--the house of Monçada. While I was yet unborn, my mother vowed that I should be devoted to religion. As the time drew near when I was to forsake the world and retire to a monastery, I revolted in horror at the career before me, and refused to take the vows. But my family were completely under the influence of a cunning and arrogant priest, who threatened God's curse upon me if I disobeyed; and ultimately, with a despairing heart, I consented.

"The horror with which I had anticipated monastic life was nothing to my disgust and misery at the realisation of its evils. The narrowness and littleness of it, the hypocrisies, all filled me with revolt; and it was only by brooding over possibilities of escape that I could avoid utter despair. At length a ray of hope came to me. My younger brother, a lad of spirit, who had quarrelled with the priest who dominated our family, succeeded with great difficulty in communicating with me, and promised that a civil process should be undertaken for the reclamation of my vows.

"But presently my hopes were destroyed by the news that my civil process had failed. Of the desolation of mind into which this failure plunged me, I can give no account--despair has no diary. I remember that I used to walk for hours in the garden, where alone I could avoid the neighbourhood of the other monks. It happened that the fountain of the garden was out of repair, and the workmen engaged upon it had had to excavate a passage under the garden wall. But as this was guarded by day and securely locked by night, it offered but a tantalising image of escape and freedom.

"One evening, as I sat gloomily by the door of the passage, I heard my name whispered. I answered eagerly, and a paper was thrust under the door. I knew the handwriting--it was that of my brother Juan. From it I learned that Juan was still planning my escape, and had found a confederate within the monastery--a parricide who had turned monk to evade his punishment.

"Juan had bribed him heavily, yet I feared to trust him until he confided to me that he himself also intended to escape. At length our plans were completed; my companion had secured the key of a door in the chapel that led through the vaults to a trap-door opening into the garden. A rope ladder flung by Juan over the wall would give us liberty.

"At the darkest hour of the night we passed through the door, and crawled through the dreadful passages beneath the monastery. I reached the top of the ladder-a lantern flashed in my eyes. I dropped down into my brother's arms.

"We hurried away to where a carriage was waiting. I sprang into it.

"'He is safe,' cried Juan, following me.

"'But are you?' answered a voice behind him. He staggered and fell back. I leapt down beside him. I was bathed in his blood. He was dead. One moment of wild, fearful agony, and I lost consciousness.

"When I came to myself, I was lying in an apartment not unlike my cell, but without a crucifix. Beside me stood my companion in flight.

"'Where am I?' I asked.

"'You are in the prison of the Inquisition,' he replied, with a mocking laugh.

"He had betrayed me! He had been all the while in league with the superior.

"I was tried again and again by the Inquisition--, charged not only with the crime of escaping from the convent and breaking my religious vows, but with the murder of my brother. My spirits sank with each appearance before the judges. I foresaw myself doomed to die at the stake.

"One night, and for several nights afterwards, a visitor presented himself to me. He came and went apparently without help or hindrance--as if he had had a master-key to all the recesses of the prison. And yet he seemed no agent of the Inquisition--indeed, he denounced it with caustic satire and withering severity. But what struck me most of all was the preternatural glare of his eyes. I felt that I had never beheld such eyes blazing in a mortal face. It was strange, too, that he constantly referred to events that must have happened long before his birth as if he had actually witnessed them.

"On the night before my final trial, I awoke from a hideous dream of burning alive to behold the stranger standing beside me. With an impulse I could not resist, I flung myself before him and begged him to save me. He promised to do so--on one awful and incommunicable condition. My horror brought me courage; I refused, and he left me.

"Next day I was sentenced to death at the stake. But before my fearful doom could be accomplished, I was free--and by that very agency of fire that was to have destroyed me. The prison of the Inquisition was burned to the ground, and in the confusion I escaped.

"When my strength was exhausted by running through the deserted streets, I leaned against a door; it gave way, and I found myself within the house. Concealed, I heard two voices--an old man's and a young man's. The old man was confessing to the young one--his son--that he was a Jew, and entreating the son to adopt the faith of Israel.

"I knew I was in the presence of a pretended convert--one of those Jews who profess to become Catholics through fear of the Inquisition. I had become possessed of a valuable secret, and instantly acted upon it. I burst out upon them, and threatened that unless the old man gave me hiding I should betray him. At first he was panic-stricken, then, hastily promising me protection, he conducted me within the house. In an inner room he raised a portion of the floor; we descended and went along a dark passage, at the end of which my guide opened a door, through which I passed. He closed it behind me, and withdrew.

"I was in an underground chamber, the walls of which were lined with skeletons, bottles containing strange misshapen creatures, and other hideous objects. I shuddered as I looked round.

"'Why fearest thou these?' asked a voice.' Surely the implements of the healing art should cause no terror.'

"I turned and beheld a man immensely old seated at a table. His eyes, although faded with years, looked keenly at me.

"'Thou hast escaped from the clutches of the Inquisition?' he asked me.

"'Yes,' I answered.

"'And when in its prison,' he continued, leaning forward eagerly, 'didst thou face a tempter who offered thee deliverance at a dreadful price?'

"'It was so,' I answered, wondering.

"'My prayer, then, is granted,' he said. 'Christian youth, thou art safe here. None save mine own Jewish people know of my existence. And I have employment for thee.'

"He showed me a huge manuscript.

"'This,' he said, 'is written in characters that the officers of the Inquisition understand not. But the time has come for transcribing it, and my own eyes, old with age, are unequal to the labour. Yet it was necessary that the work should be done by one who has learnt the dread secret.'

"A glance at the manuscript showed me that the language was Spanish, but the characters Greek. I began to read it, nor did I raise my eyes until the reading was ended."

III.--The Romance of Immalee

"The manuscript told how a Spanish merchant had set forth for the East Indies, taking his wife and son with him, and leaving an infant daughter behind. He prospered, and decided to settle in the East; he sent for his daughter, who came with her nurse. But their ship was wrecked; the child and the nurse alone escaped, and were stranded on an uninhabited island near the mouth of the Hooghly. The nurse died; but the child survived, and grew up a wild and beautiful daughter of nature, dwelling in lonely innocence, and revered as a goddess by the natives who watched her from afar.

"To the Island, when Immalee (so she called herself) was growing into pure and lovely womanhood, there came a stranger--pale-faced, wholly different from the dark-skinned people she had seen from the shores of the island. She welcomed him with innocent joy. He came often; he told her of the outer world, of its wickedness and its miseries. She, too untutored to realise the sinister bitterness of his tone, listened with rapt attention and sympathy. She loved him. She told him that he was her all, that she would cling to him wheresoever he went. He looked at her with stern sorrow; he left her abruptly, nor did he ever visit the island again.

"Immalee was rescued, her origin was discovered, and she became Isidora de Aliaga, the carefully nurtured daughter of prosperous and devout Spanish parents. The island and the stranger were memories of the past. Yet one day, in the streets of Madrid, she beheld once more the well-remembered eyes. Soon afterwards she was visited by the stranger. How he entered and left her home when he came to her--and again he came often--she could not tell. She feared him, and yet she loved him.

"At length her father, who had been on another voyage, announced that he was returning, and bringing with him a suitable husband for his newly-found daughter. Isidora, in panic, besought the stranger to save her. He was unwilling. At last, in response to her tears, he consented. They were wedded, so Isidora believed, by a hermit in a ruined monastery. She returned home, and he renewed his visits, promising to reveal their marriage in the fullness of time.

"Meanwhile, tales had reached her father's ears of a malignant being who was permitted to wander over the earth and tempt men in dire extremity with release from their troubles as the result of their concluding an unspeakable bargain. This being himself appeared to the father, and warned him that his daughter was in danger.

"He returned, and pressed on with preparations for the bridal ceremony. Isidora entreated her husband to rescue her. He promised, and went away. A masked ball was given in celebration of the nuptials. At the hour of twelve Isidora felt a touch upon her shoulder. It was her husband. They hastened away, but not unperceived. Her brother called on the pair to stop, and drew his sword. In an instant he lay bleeding and lifeless. The family and the guests crowded round in horror. The stranger waved them back with his arm. They stood motionless, as if rooted to the ground.

"'Isidora, fly with me!' he said. She looked at him, looked at the body of her brother, and sank in a swoon. The stranger passed out amid the powerless onlookers.

"Isidora, the confessed bride of an unhallowed being, was taken before the Inquisition, and sentenced to life-long imprisonment. But she did not survive long; and ere she died, her husband appeared to her, and offered her freedom, happiness, and love--at a dreadful price she would not pay. Such was the history of the ill-fated love of Immalee for a being to whom mortal love was a boon forbidden."

IV.--The Fate of Melmoth

When Monçada had completed the tale of Immalee, he announced his intention of describing how he had left the house of the Jewish doctor, and what was his purpose in coming to Ireland. A time was fixed for the continuation of the recital.

The night when Monçada prepared to resume his story was a dark and stormy one. The two men drew close to the fire.

"Hush!" suddenly said Monçada.

John Melmoth listened, and half rose from his chair.

"We are watched!" he exclaimed.

At that moment the door opened, and a figure appeared at it. The figure advanced slowly to the centre of the room. Monçada crossed himself, and attempted to pray. John Melmoth, nailed to his chair, gazed upon the form that stood before him--it was indeed Melmoth the Wanderer. But the eyes were dim; those beacons lit by an infernal fire were no longer visible.

"Mortals," said the Wanderer, in strange and solemn accents, "you are here to talk of my destiny. That distiny is accomplished. Your ancestor has come home," he continued, turning to John Melmoth. "If my crimes have exceeded those of mortality, so will my punishment. And the time for that punishment is come.

"It is a hundred and fifty years since I first probed forbidden secrets. I have now to pay the penalty. None can participate in my destiny but with his own consent. None has consented. It has been reported of me, as you know, that I obtained from the enemy of souls a range of existence beyond the period of mortality--a power to pass over space with the swiftness of thought--to encounter perils unharmed, to penetrate into dungeons, whose bolts were as flax and tow at my touch. It has been said that this power was accorded to me that I might be enabled to tempt wretches at their fearful hour of extremity with the promise of deliverance and immunity on condition of their exchanging situations with me.

"No one has ever changed destinies with Melmoth the Wanderer. I have traversed the world in search, and no one to gain that world would lose his own soul!" He paused. "Let me, if possible, obtain an hour's repose. Ay, repose--sleep!" he repeated, answering the astonishment of his hearers' looks. "My existence is still human!"

And a ghastly and derisive smile wandered over his features as he spoke. John Melmoth and Monçada quitted the apartment, and the Wanderer, sinking back in his chair slept profoundly.

The two men did not dare to approach the door until noon next day. The Wanderer started up, and they saw with horror the change that had come over him. The lines of extreme age were visible in every feature.

"My hour is come," he said. "Leave me alone. Whatever noises you may hear in the course of the awful night that is approaching, come not near, at peril of your lives. Be warned! Retire!"

They passed that day in intense anxiety, and at night had no thought of repose. At midnight sounds of indescribable horror began to issue from the Wanderer's apartment, shrieks of supplication, yells of blasphemy--they could not tell which. The sounds suddenly ceased. The two men hastened into the room. It was empty.

A small door leading to a back staircase was open, and near it they discovered the trace of footsteps of a person who had been walking in damp sand or clay. They traced the footsteps down the stairs, through the garden, and across a field to a rock that overlooked the sea.

Through the furze that clothed this rock, there was a kind of track as if a person had dragged his way, or been dragged, through it. The two men gained the summit of the rock; the wide, waste, engulfing ocean was beneath. On a crag below, something hung as floating to the blast. Melmoth clambered down and caught it. It was the handkerchief which the Wanderer had worn about his neck the preceding night. That was the last trace of the Wanderer.

Melmoth and Monçada exchanged looks of silent horror, and returned slowly home.


DIEGO DE MENDOZA

Lazarillo de Tormes

Don Diego Hurtado de Mendoza's career was hardly of a kind that would be ordinarily associated with a lively romance of vagabondage. A grandee of high birth, an ambassador of the Emperor Charles V., an accomplished soldier and a learned historian--such was the creator of the hungry rogue Lazarillo, and the founder of the "picaresque" school of fiction, or the romance of roguery, which is not yet extinct. Don Diego de Mendoza, born early in 1503, was educated at the University of Salamanca, and spent most of the rest of his days in courts and camps. He died at Madrid in April 1575. Although written during Mendoza's college days, "Lazarillo de Tormes" did not appear until 1533, when it was published anonymously at Antwerp. During the following year it was reprinted at Bruges, but it fell under the ban of the Inquisition, and subsequent editions were considerably expurgated. Such was its popularity that it was continued by inferior authors after Mendoza's death.

I.--The Blind Man

You must know, in the first place, that my name is Lazarillo de Tormes, and that I am the son of Thomas Gonzalez and Antonia Perez, natives of Tejares, a village of Salamanca. My father was employed to superintend the operations of a water-mill on the river Tormes, from which I took my surname; and I had only reached my ninth year, when he was taken into custody for administering certain copious, but injudicious, bleedings to the sacks of customers. Being thrown out of employment by this disaster, he joined an armament then preparing against the Moors in the quality of mule-driver to a gentleman; and in that expedition he, along with his master, finished his life and services together.

My widowed mother hired a small place in the city of Salamanca, and opened an eating-house for the accommodation of students. It happened some time afterwards that a blind man came to lodge at the house, and thinking that I should do very well to lead him about, asked my mother to part with me. He promised to receive me not as a servant, but as a son; and thus I left Salamanca with my blind and aged master. He was as keen as an eagle in his own calling. He knew prayers suitable for all occasions, and could repeat them with a devout and humble countenance; he could prognosticate; and with respect to the medicinal art, he would tell you that Galen was an ignoramus compared with him. By these means his profits were very considerable.

With all this, however, I am sorry to say that I never met with so avaricious and so wicked an old curmudgeon; he allowed me almost daily to die of hunger, without troubling himself about my necessities; and, to say the truth, if I had not helped myself by means of a ready wit I should have closed my account from sheer starvation.

The old man was accustomed to carry his food in a sort of linen knapsack, secured at the mouth by a padlock; and in adding to or taking from his store he used such vigilance that it was almost impossible to cheat him of a single morsel. By means of a small rent, however, which I slyly effected in one of the seams of the bag, I helped myself to the choicest pieces.

Whenever we ate, he kept a jar of wine near him; and I adopted the practice of bestowing on it sundry loving though stolen embraces. The fervency of my attachment was soon discovered in the deficiency of the wine, and the old man tied the jar to himself by the handle. I now procured a large straw, which I dipped into the mouth of the jar; but the old traitor must have heard me drink with it, for he placed the jar between his knees, keeping the mouth closed with his hand.

I then bored a small hole in the bottom of the jar, and closed it very delicately with wax. As the poor old man sat over the fire, with the jar between his knees, the heat melted the wax, and I, placing my mouth underneath, received the whole contents of the jar. The old boy was so enraged and surprised that he thought the devil himself had been at work. But he discovered the hole; and when next day I placed myself under the jar, he brought the jar down with full force on my mouth. Nearly all my teeth were broken, and my face was horribly cut with the fragments of the broken vessel.

After this, he continually ill-treated me; on the slightest occasion he would flog me without mercy. If any humane person interfered, he immediately recounted the history of the jar; they would laugh, and say, "Thrash him well, good man; he deserves it richly!" I determined to revenge myself on the old tyrant, and seized an opportunity on a rainy day when a stream was flowing down the street. I took him to a point where the stream passed a stone pillar, told him that the water was narrowest there, and invited him to jump. He jumped accordingly, and gave his poor old pate such a smash against the pillar that he fell senseless. I took to my heels as swiftly as possible; nor did I even trouble to inquire what became of him.

II.--The Priest

The next day I went to a place called Maqueda, where, as it were in punishment for my evil deeds, I fell in with a certain priest. I accosted him for alms, when he inquired whether I knew how to assist at mass. I answered that I did, which was true, for the blind man had taught me. The priest, therefore, engaged me on the spot.

There is an old proverb which speaks of getting out of the frying-pan into the fire, which was indeed my unhappy case in this change of masters. This priest was, without exception, the most niggardly of all miserable devils I have ever met with. He had a large old chest, the key of which he always carried about him; and when the charity bread came from the church, he would with his own hands deposit it in the chest and turn the key. The only other eatable we had was a string of onions, of which every fourth day I was allowed one. Five farthings' worth of meat was his allowance for dinner and supper. It is true he divided the broth with me; but my share of the meat I might have put in my eye instead of my mouth, and have been none the worse for it; but sometimes, by good luck, I got a little morsel of bread.

At the end of three weeks I was so exhausted with sheer hunger that I could hardly stand on my legs. One day, when my miserable, covetous thief of a master had gone out, an angel, in the likeness of a tinker, knocked at the door, and inquired whether I had anything to mend. Suddenly a light flashed upon me. "I have lost the key of this chest," said I, "can you fit it?" He drew forth a bunch of keys, fitted it, and lo! the lid of the chest arose. "I have no money," I said to my preserver, "but give me the key and help yourself." He helped himself, and so, when he had gone, did I.

But it was not predestined for me that such good luck should continue long; for on the third day I beheld the priest turning and counting the loaves over and over again. At last he said, "If I were not assured of the security of this chest, I should say that somebody had stolen my bread; but from this day I shall count the loaves; there remain now exactly nine and a piece."

"May nine curses light upon you, you miserable beggar!" said I to myself. The utmost I dared do, for some days, was to nibble here and there a morsel of the crust. At last it occurred to me that the chest was old and in parts broken. Might it not be supposed that rats had made an entrance? I therefore picked one loaf after another until I made up a tolerable supply of crumbs, which I ate like so many sugar-plums.

The priest, when he returned, beheld the havoc with dismay.

"Confound the rats!" quoth he. "There is no keeping anything from them." I fared well at dinner, for he pared off all the places which he supposed the rats had nibbled at, and gave them to me, saying, "There, eat that; rats are very clean animals." But I received another shock when I beheld my tormentor nailing pieces of wood over all the holes in the chest. All I could do was to scrape other holes with an old knife; and so it went on until the priest set a trap for the rats, baiting it with bits of cheese that he begged from his neighbours. I did not nibble my bread with less relish because I added thereto the bait from the rat-trap. The priest, almost beside himself with astonishment at finding the bread nibbled, the bait gone, and no rat in the trap, consulted his neighbours, who suggested, to his great alarm, that the thief must be a snake.

For security, I kept my precious key in my mouth--which I could do without inconvenience, as I had been in the habit of carrying in my mouth the coins I had stolen from my former blind master. But one night, when I was fast asleep, it was decreed by an evil destiny that the key should be placed in such a position in my mouth that my breath caused a loud whistling noise. My master concluded that this must be the hissing of the snake; he arose and stole with a club in his hand towards the place whence the sound proceeded; then, lifting the club, he discharged with all his force a blow on my unfortunate head. When he had fetched a light, he found me moaning, with the tell-tale key protruding from my mouth.

"Thank God," he exclaimed, "that the rats and snakes which have so long devoured my substance are at last discovered!"

As soon as my wounds were healed, he turned me out of his door as if I had been in league with the evil one.

III.--The Poor Gentleman

By the assistance of some kind people I made my way to Toledo, where I sought my living by begging from door to door. But one day I encountered a certain esquire; he was well dressed, and walked with an air of ease and consequence. "Are you seeking a master, my boy?" he said. I replied that I was, and he bade me follow him.

He led me through a dark and dismal entry to a house absolutely bare of furniture; and the hopes I had formed when he engaged me were further depressed when he told me that he had already breakfasted, and that it was not his custom to eat again till the evening. Disconsolately I began to eat some crusts that I had about me.

"Come here, boy," said my master. "What are you eating?" I showed him the bread. "Upon my life, but this seems exceedingly nice bread," he exclaimed; and seizing the largest piece, he attacked it fiercely.

When night came on, and I was expecting supper, my master said, "The market is distant, and the city abounds with rogues; we had better pass the night as we can, and to-morrow we will fare better. Nothing will ensure length of life so much as eating little."

"Then truly," said I to myself in despair, "I shall never die."

I spent the night miserably on a hard cane bedstead without a mattress. In the morning my master arose, washed his hands and face, dried them on his garments for want of a towel, and then carefully dressed himself, with my assistance. Having girded on his sword, he went forth to hear mass, without saying a word about breakfast. "Who would believe," I said, observing his erect bearing and air of gentility as he walked up the street, "that such a fine gentleman had passed the whole of yesterday without any other food than a morsel of bread? How many are there in this world who voluntarily suffer more for their false idea of honour, than they would undergo for their hopes of an hereafter!"

The day advanced, and my master did not return; my hopes of dinner disappeared like those of breakfast. In desperation, I went out begging, and such was the talent I had acquired in this art that I came back with four pounds of bread, a piece of cow-heel, and some tripe. I found my master at home, and he did not disapprove of what I had done.

"It is much better," said he, "to ask, for the love of God, than to steal. I only charge you on no account to say you live with me."

When I sat down to supper, my poor master eyed me so longingly that I resolved to invite him to partake of my repast; yet I wondered whether he would take it amiss if I did so. But my wishes towards him were soon gratified.

"Ah!" said he; "cow-heel is delicious. There is nothing I am more fond of."

"Then taste it, sir," said I, "and try whether this is as good as you have eaten." Presently he was grinding the food as ravenously as a greyhound.

In this manner we passed eight or ten days, my master taking the air every day with the most perfect ease of a man of fashion, and returning home to feast on the contributions of the charitable, levied by poor Lazaro. Whereas my former masters declined to feed me, this one expected that I should maintain him. But I was much more sorry for him than angry at him, and with all his poverty I found greater satisfaction in serving him than either of the others.

At length a man came to demand the rent, which of course my master could not pay. He answered the man very courteously that he was going out to change a piece of gold. But this time he made his exit for good. Next morning the man came to seize my master's effects, and on finding there were none, he had me arrested. But I was soon found to be innocent, and released. Thus did I lose my third and poorest master.

IV.--The Dealer in Indulgences

My fourth master was a holy friar, eager in the pursuit of every kind of secular business and amusement. He kept me so incessantly on the trot that I could not endure it, so I took my leave of him without asking it.

The next master that fortune threw in my way was a bulero, or dealer in papal indulgences, one of the cleverest and most impudent rogues that I have ever seen. He practised all manner of deceit, and resorted to the most subtle inventions to gain his end. A regular account of his artifices would fill a volume; but I will only recount a little manoeuvre which will give you some idea of his genius and invention.

He had preached two or three days at a place near Toledo, but found his indulgences go off but slowly. Being at his wits' end what to do, he invited the people to the church next morning to take his farewell. After supper at the inn that evening, he and the alguazil quarrelled and began to revile each other, my master calling the alguazil a thief, the alguazil declaring that the bulero was an impostor, and that his indulgences were forged. Peace was not restored until the alguazil had been taken away to another inn.

Next morning, during my master's farewell sermon, the alguazil entered the church and publicly repeated his charge, that the indulgences were forged. Whereupon my devout master threw himself on his knees in the pulpit, and exclaimed: "O Lord, Thou knowest how cruelly I am calumniated! I pray Thee, therefore, to show by a miracle the whole truth as to this matter. If I deal in iniquity may this pulpit sink with me seven fathoms below the earth, but if what is said be false let the author of the calumny be punished, so that all present may be convinced of his malice."

Hardly had he finished his prayer when the alguazil fell down, foaming at the mouth, and rolled about in the utmost apparent agony. At this wonderful interposition of Providence, there was a general clamour in the church, and some terrified people implored my sainted master, who was kneeling in the pulpit, with his eyes towards heaven, to intercede for the poor wretch. He replied that no favour should be sought for one whom God had chastised, but that as we were bidden to return good for evil, he would try to obtain pardon for the unhappy man. Desiring the congregation to pray for the sinner, he commanded the holy bull to be placed on the alguazil's head. Gradually the sufferer was restored, and fell at the holy commissary's feet, imploring his pardon, which was granted with benevolent words of comfort.

Great now was the demand for indulgences; people came flocking from all parts, so that no sermons were necessary in the church to convince them of the benefits likely to result to the purchasers. I must confess that I was deceived at the time, but hearing the merriment which it afforded to the holy commissary and the alguazil, I began to suspect that it originated in the fertile brain of my master, and from that time I ceased to be a child of grace. For, I argued, "If I, being an eye-witness to such an imposition, could almost believe it, how many more, amongst this poor innocent people, must be imposed on by these robbers?"

On leaving the bulero I entered the service of a chaplain, which was the first step I had yet made towards attaining an easy life, for I had here a mouthful at will. Having bidden the chaplain farewell, I attached myself to an alguazil. But I did not long continue in the train of justice; it pleased Heaven to enlighten and put me into a much better way, for certain gentlemen procured me an office under government. This I yet keep, and flourish in it, with the permission of God and every good customer. In fact, my charge is that of making public proclamation of the wine which is sold at auctions, etc.; of bearing those company who suffer persecution for justice's sake, and publishing to the world, with a loud voice, their faults.

About this time the arch-priest of Salvador, to whom I was introduced, and who was under obligations to me for crying his wine, showed his sense of it by uniting me with one of his own domestics. About this time I was at the top of the ladder, and enjoyed all kinds of good fortune. This happy state I conceived would continue; but fortune soon began to show another aspect, and a fresh series of miseries and difficulties followed her altered looks--troubles which it would be too cruel a task for me to have to recount.


DMITRI MEREJKOWSKI

The Death of the Gods

Among Russian writers whose works have achieved European reputation, prominence must be given to Dmitri Merejkowski. The son of a court official, Merejkowski was born in 1866, and began to write verses at the age of fifteen, his first volume of poems appearing in 1888. Then, nine years later, came the first of his great trilogy, "The Death of the Gods," which is continued in "The Resurrection of the Gods," and completed by "Anti-Christ," the last-named having for its central character the figure of Peter the Great, the creator of modern Russia. "The Death of the Gods," by many considered the finest of the three, is a vivid picture of the times of the Roman Emperor Julian, setting forth the doctrine that the pagan and the Christian elements in human nature are equally legitimate and sacred, a doctrine which, in its various guises, runs through the trilogy.

I.--Julian's Boyhood

All was dark in the great palace at Macellum, an ancient residence of Cappadocian princes. Here dwelt Julian and Gallus, the youthful cousins of the reigning Emperor Constantius, and the nephews of Constantine the Great. They were the last representatives of the hapless house of the Flavii. Their father, Julian Constantius, brother of Constantine, was murdered by the orders of Constantius on his accession to the throne, and the two orphans lived in constant fear of death.

Julian was not asleep. He listened to the regular breathing of his brother, who slept near him on a more comfortable bed, and to the heavy snore of his tutor Mardonius in the next room. Suddenly the door of the secret staircase opened softly, and a bright light dazzled Julian. Labda, an old slave, entered, carrying a metal lamp in her hand.

The old woman, who loved Julian, and held him to be the true successor of Constantine the Great, placed the lamp in a stone niche above his head, and produced honey cakes for him to eat. Then she blessed him with the sign of the cross and disappeared.

A heavy slumber fell on Julian, and then he awoke full of fears. He sat up on his bed, and listened in the silence to the beatings of his own heart. Suddenly, voices and steps resounded from room to room. Then the steps approached, the voices became distinct.

The boy called out, "Gallus, wake up! Mardonius, can't you hear something?"

Gallus awoke, and at the same moment old Mardonius, with his grey hair all dishevelled, entered and rushed towards the secret door.

"The soldiers of the Prefect! ... Dress! ... We must fly! ..." he exclaimed.

Mardonius was too late; all he could do was to draw an old sword and stand in warlike attitude before the door, brandishing his weapon. The centurion, who was drunk, promptly seized him by the throat and threw him out of the way, and the Roman legionaries entered.

"In the name of the most orthodox and blessed Augustus Constantius Imperator! I, Marcus Scuda, Tribune of the Fretensian Legion, take under my safeguard Julian and Gallus, sons of the Patrician Julius Flavius."

It was Scuda's plan to gain favour with his superiors by boldly carrying off the lads and sending them down to his barracks at Caesarea. There were rumours from time to time of their escaping from Macellum, and Scuda knew, the emperor's fear lest these possible claimants for the throne should gain a following among the soldiers of the people. At Caesarea they would be in safe custody.

For the first time he gazed upon Gallus and Julian. The former, with his indolent and listless blue eyes and flaxen hair, trembled and blinked, his eyelids heavy with sleep, and crossed himself. The latter, thin, sickly, and pale, with large shining eyes, stared at Scuda fixedly, and shook with bridled rage. In his right hand, hidden by the panther skin of his bed, which he had flung over his shoulder, he gripped the handle of a Persian dagger given him by Labda; it was tipped with the keenest of poisons.

A wild chance of safety suddenly occurred to Mardonius. Throwing aside his sword, he caught hold of the tribune's mantle, and shrieked out, "Do you know what you're doing, rascals? How dare you insult an envoy of Constantius? It is I who am charged to conduct these two princes to court. The august emperor has restored them to his favour. Here is the order from Constantinople!"

"What is he saying? What order is it?" Scuda waited in perplexity while Mardonius, after hunting in a drawer, pulled out a roll of parchment, and presented it to the tribune. Scuda saw the name of the emperor, and read the first lines, without remarking the date of the document. At the sight of the great imperial seal of dark green wax he became frightened.

"Pardon, there is some mistake," said the tribune humbly. "Don't ruin us! We are all brothers and fellow-sinners! I beseech you in the name of Christ!"

"I know what acts you commit in the name of Christ. Away with you! Begone at once!" screamed Mardonius. The tribune gave the order to retire, and only when the sound of the steps dying away assured Mardonius that all peril was over did the old man forget his tutorial dignity. A wild fit of laughter seized him, and he began to dance.

"Children, children!" he cried gleefully. "Glory to Hermes! We've done them cleverly! That edict was annulled three years ago! Ah, the idiots, the idiots!"

At daybreak Julian fell into a deep sleep.

II.--Julian the Emperor

Gallus had fallen at the hands of the imperial executioner, and Julian had been banished to the army in Gaul. Constantius hoped to get news of the defeat and death of Julian, and was horribly disappointed when nothing was heard but tidings of victory.

Julian, successful in arms and worshipped by his soldiers, became more and more convinced that the old Olympian gods were protecting him and advancing his cause, and only for prudential reasons did he continue to attend Christian churches. In his heart he abhorred the crucified Galilean God of the Christians, and longed for the restoration of the old worship of Apollo and the gods of Greece and Rome.

More than two years after the victory of Argentoratum, when Julian had delivered all Gaul from the barbarians, he received an important letter from the Emperor Constantius.

Each new victory in Gaul had maddened the soul of Constantius, and smitten his vanity to the quick. He writhed with jealousy, and grew thin and sleepless and sick. At the same time he sustained defeat after defeat in his own campaign in Asia against the Persians. Musing, during nights of insomnia, the emperor blamed himself for having let Julian live.

Finally, Constantius decided to rob Julian of his best soldiers, and then, by gradually disarming him, to draw him into his toils and deal him the mortal blow.

With this intention he sent a letter to Julian by the tribune Decensius, commanding him to select the most trusted legions, namely, the Heruli, Batavians, and Celts, and to dispatch them into Asia for the emperor's own use. Each remaining legion was also to be deflowered of its three hundred bravest warriors, and Julian's transport crippled of the pick of the porters and baggage carriers.

Julian at once warned Decensius, and proved to him that rebellion was inevitable among the savage legions raised in Gaul, who would almost certainly prefer to die rather than quit their native soil. But Decensius took no account of these warnings.

On the departure of the first cohorts, the soldiers, hitherto only restrained by Julian's stern and wise discipline, became excited and tumultuous. Savage murmurs ran through the crowd. The cries came nearer; wild agitation seized the garrison.

"What has happened?" asked a veteran.

"Twenty soldiers have been beaten to death!"

"Twenty! No; a hundred!"

A legionary, with torn clothes and terrified appearance, rushed into the crowd, shouting, "Comrades, quick to the palace! Quick! Julian's just been beheaded!"

These words kindled the long-smouldering flame. Everyone began to shout, "Where is the envoy from the Emperor Constantius?"

"Down with the envoy!"

"Down with the emperor!"

Another mob swept by the barracks, calling out, "Glory to the Emperor Julian! Glory to Augustus Julian!"

Then the cohorts, who had marched out the night before, mutinied, and were soon seen returning. The crowd grew thicker and thicker, like a raging flood.

"To the palace! To the palace!" the cry was raised. "Let us make Julian emperor! Let us crown him with the diadem!"

Foreseeing the revolt, Julian had not left his quarters nor shown himself to the soldiers, but for two days and two nights had waited for a sign.

The indistinct cries of the mutineers came to him, borne faintly upon the wind.

A servant entered, and announced that an old man from Athens desired to see the Caesar on urgent business. Julian ran to meet the newcomer; it was the high-priest of the mysteries of Eleusis, whom he had impatiently expected.

"Caesar," said the old man, "be not hasty. Decide nothing to-night; wait for the morrow, the gods are silent."

Outside could be heard the noise of soldiers pouring into the courtyard, and thrilling the old palace with their cries. The die was cast, Julian put on his armour, warcloak, and helmet, buckled on his sword, and ran down the principal staircase to the main entrance. In a moment the crowd felt his supremacy; in action his will never vacillated; at his first gesture the mob was silenced.

Julian spoke to the soldiers, asked them to restore order, and declared that he would neither abandon them nor permit them to be taken from Gaul.

"Down with Constantius!" cried the legionaries. "Thou art our emperor! Glory to Augustus Julian the Invincible!"

Admirably did Julian affect surprise, lowering his eyes, and turning aside his head with a deprecating gesture of his lifted palms.

The shouts redoubled. "Silence!" exclaimed Julian, striding towards the crowd. "Do you think that I can betray my sovereign? Are we not sworn?"

The soldiers seized his hands, and many, falling at his feet, kissed them, weeping and crying, "We are willing to die for you! Have pity on us; be our emperor!"

With an effort that might well have been thought sincere, Julian answered, "My children, my dear comrades, I am yours in life and in death! I can refuse you nothing!"

A standard-bearer pulled from his neck the metal chain denoting his rank, and Julian wound it twice around his own neck. This chain made him Emperor of Rome.

"Hoist him on a shield," shouted the soldiery. A round buckler was tendered. Hundreds of arms heaved the emperor. He saw a sea of helmeted heads, and heard, like the rolling of thunder, the exultant cry, "Glory to Julian, the divine Augustus!"

It seemed the will of destiny.

III.--The Worship of Apollo

Constantius was dead, and Julian sole emperor of Rome.

Before all the army the golden cross had been wrenched from the imperial standard, and a little silver statue of the sun-god, Mithra-Helios, had been soldered to the staff of the Labarum.

One of the men in the front rank uttered a single word so distinctly that Julian heard it, "Anti-Christ!"

Toleration was promised to the Christians, but Julian organised processions in honour of the Olympian gods, and encouraged in every way the return of the old and dying worship.


Five miles from Antioch stood the celebrated wood of Daphne, consecrated to Apollo. A temple had been built there, where every year the praises of the sun-god were celebrated.

Julian, without telling anyone of his intention, quitted Antioch at daybreak. He wished to find out for himself whether the inhabitants remembered the ancient sacred feast. All along the road he mused on the solemnity, hoping to see lads and maidens going up the steps of the temple, the crowd of the faithful, the choirs, and the smoke of incense.

Presently the columns and pediments of the temple shone through the wood, but not a worshipper yet had Julian encountered. At last he saw a boy of twelve years old, on a path overgrown with wild hyacinth.

"Do you know, child, where are the sacrificers and the people?" Julian asked.

The child made no answer.

"Listen, little one. Can you not lead me to the priest of Apollo?"

The boy put a finger to his lips and then to both his ears, and shook his head gravely. Suddenly he pointed out to Julian an old man, clothed in a patched and tattered tunic, and Julian recognised a temple priest. The weak and broken old man stumbled along in drunken fashion, carrying a large basket and laughing and mumbling to himself as he went. He was red-nosed, and his watery and short-sighted eyes had an expression of childlike benevolence.

"The priest of Apollo?" asked Julian.

"I am he. I am called Gorgius. What do you want, good man?"

He smelt strongly of wine. Julian thought his behaviour indecent.

"You seem to be drunk, old man!"

Gorgius, in no wise dismayed, put down his basket and rubbed his bald head.

"Drunk? I don't think so. But I may have had four or five cups in honour of the celebration; and, as to that, I drink more through sorrow than mirth. May the Olympians have you in their keeping!"

"Where are the victims?" asked Julian. "Have many people been sent from Antioch? Are the choirs ready?"

"Victims! Small thanks for victims! Many's the long year, my brother, since we saw that kind of thing. Not since the time of Constantine. It is all over--done for! Men have forgotten the gods. We don't even get a handful of wheat to make a cake; not a grain of incense, not a drop of oil for the lamps. There's nothing for it but to go to bed and die.... The monks have taken everything.... Our tale is told.... And you say 'don't drink.' But it's hard not to drink when one suffers. If I didn't drink I should have hanged myself long ago."

"And no one has come from Antioch for this great feast day?" asked Julian.

"None but you, my son. I am the priest, you are the people! Together we will offer the victim to the god. It is my own offering. We've eaten little for three days, this lad and I, to save the necessary money. Look; it is a sacred bird!"

He raised the lid of the basket. A tethered goose slid out its head, cackling and trying to escape.

"Have you dwelt long in this temple; and is this lad your son?" questioned Julian.

"For forty years, and perhaps longer; but I have neither relatives nor friends. This child helps me at the hour of sacrifice. His mother was the great sibyl Diotima, who lived here, and it is said that he is the son of a god," said Gorgius.

"A deaf mute the son of a god?" murmured the emperor, surprised.

"In times like ours if the son of a god and a sibyl were not a deaf mute he would die of grief," said Gorgius.

"One thing more I want to ask you," said Julian. "Have you ever heard that the Emperor Julian desired to restore the worship of the old gods?"

"Yes, but ... what can he do, poor man? He will not succeed. I tell you--all's over. Once I sailed in a ship near Thessalonica, and saw Mount Olympus. I mused and was full of emotion at beholding the dwellings of the gods; and a scoffing old man told me that travellers had climbed Olympus, and seen that it was an ordinary mountain, with only snow and ice and stones on it. I have remembered those words all my life. My son, all is over; Olympus is deserted. The gods have grown weary and have departed. But the sun is up, the sacrifice must be performed. Come!"

They passed into the temple alone.

From behind the trees came the sound of voices, a procession of monks chanting psalms. In the very neighbourhood of Apollo's temple a tomb had been built in honour of a Christian martyr.

IV.--"Thou Hast Conquered, Galilean!"

At the beginning of spring Julian quitted Antioch for a Persian campaign with an army of sixty-five thousand men.

"Warriors, my bravest of the brave," said Julian, addressing his troops at the outset, "remember the destiny of the world is in our hands. We are going to restore the old greatness of Rome! Steel your hearts, be ready for any fate. There is to be no turning back, I shall be at your head, on horseback or on foot, taking all dangers and toils with the humblest among you; because, henceforth, you are no longer my servants, but my children and my friends. Courage then, my comrades; and remember that the strong are always conquerors!"

He stretched his sword, with a smile, toward the distant horizon. The soldiers, in unison, held up their bucklers, shouting in rapture, "Glory, glory to conquering Caesar!"

But the campaign so bravely begun ended in treachery and disaster.

At the end of July, when the Roman army was in steady retreat, came the last battle with the Persians. The emperor looked for a miracle in this battle, the victory which would give him such renown and power that the Galileans could no longer resist; but it was not till the close of the day that the ranks of the enemy were broken. Then a cry of triumph came from Julian's lips. He galloped ahead, pursuing the fugitives, not perceiving that he was far in advance of his main body. A few bodyguards surrounded the Caesar, among them old General Victor. This old man, though wounded, was unconscious of his hurt, not quitting the emperor's side, and shielding him time after time from mortal blows. He knew that it was as dangerous to approach a fleeing enemy as to enter a falling building.

"Take heed, Caesar!" he shouted. "Put on this mail of mine!" But Julian heard him not, and still rode on, as if he, unsupported, unarmed, and terrible, were hunting his countless enemies by glance and gesture only from the field.

Suddenly a lance, aimed by a flying Saracen who had wheeled round, hissed, and grazing the skin of the emperor's right hand, glanced over the ribs, and buried itself in his body. Julian thought the wound a slight one, and seizing the double-edged barb to withdraw it, cut his fingers. Blood gushed out, Julian uttered a cry, flung his head back, and slid from his horse into the arms of the guard.

They carried the emperor into his tent, and laid him on his camp-bed. Still in a swoon, he groaned from time to time. Oribazius, the physician, drew out the iron lance-head, and washed and bound up the deep wound. By a look Victor asked if any hope remained, and Oribazius sadly shook his head. After the dressing of the wound Julian sighed and opened his eyes.

Hearing the distant noise of battle, he remembered all, and with an effort, rose upon his bed. His soul was struggling against death. Slowly he tottered to his feet.

"I must be with them to the end.... You see, I am able-bodied still.... Quick, give me my sword, buckler, horse!"

Victor gave him the shield and sword. Julian took them, and made a few unsteady steps, like a child learning to walk. The wound re-opened; he let fall his sword and shield, sank into the arms of Oribazius and Victor, and looking up, cried contemptuously, "All is over! Thou hast conquered, Galilean!" And making no further resistance, he gave himself up to his friends, and was laid on the bed.

At night he was in delirium.

"One must conquer ... reason must.... Socrates died like a god.... I will not believe!... What do you want from me?... Thy love is more terrible than death.... I want sunlight, the golden sun!"

At dawn the sick man lay calm, and the delirium had left him.

"Call the generals--I must speak."

The generals came in, and the curtain of the tent was raised so that the fresh air of the morning might blow on the face of the dying. The entrance faced east, and the view to the horizon was unbroken.

"Listen, friends," Julian began, and his voice was low, but clear. "My hour is come, and like an honest debtor, I am not sorry to give back my life to nature, and in my soul is neither pain nor fear. I have tried to keep my soul stainless; I have aspired to ends not ignoble. Most of our earthly affairs are in the hands of destiny. We must not resist her. Let the Galileans triumph. We shall conquer later on!"

The morning clouds were growing red, and the first beam of the sun washed over the rim of the horizon. The dying man held his face towards the light, with closed eyes.

Then his head fell back, and the last murmur came from his half-open lips, "Helios! Receive me unto thyself!"


PROSPER MÉRIMÉE

Carmen

Novelist, archaeologist, essayist, and in all three departments one of the greatest masters of French style of his century, Prosper Mérimée was born in Paris on September 23, 1803. The son of a painter, Mérimée was intended for the law, but at the age of twenty-two achieved fame as the author of a number of plays purporting to be translations from the Spanish. From that time until his death at Cannes on September 23, 1870, a brilliant series of plays, essays, novels, and historical and archaeological works poured from his fertile pen. Altogether he wrote about a score of tales, and it is on these and on his "Letters to an Unknown" that Mérimée's fame depends. His first story to win universal recognition was "Colombo," in 1830. Seventeen years later appeared his "Carmen, the Power of Love," of which Taine, in his celebrated essay on the work, says, "Many dissertations on our primitive savage methods, many knowing treatises like Schopenhauer's on the metaphysics of love and death, cannot compare to the hundred pages of 'Carmen.'"

I.--I Meet Don José

One day, wandering in the higher part of the plain of Cachena, near Cordova, harassed with fatigue, dying of thirst, burned by an overhead sun, I perceived, at some distance from the path I was following, a little green lawn dotted with rushes and reeds. It proclaimed to me the neighbourhood of a spring, and I saw that a brook issued from a narrow gorge between two lofty spurs of the Sierra de Cabra.

At the mouth of the gorge my horse neighed, and another horse that I did not see answered immediately. A hundred steps farther, and the gorge, suddenly widening, revealed a sort of natural circus, shaded by the cliffs which surrounded it. It was impossible to light upon a place which promised a pleasanter halt to the traveller.

But the honour of discovering this beautiful spot did not belong to me. A man was resting there already, and it my entrance, he had risen and approached his horse. He was a young fellow of medium height, but robust appearance, with a gloomy and haughty air. In one hand he held his horse's halter, in the other a brass blunderbuss. The fierce air of the man somewhat surprised me, but not having seen any robbers I no longer believed in them. My guide Antonio, however, who came up behind me, showed evident signs of terror, and drew near very much against his will.

I stretched myself on the grass, drew out my cigar-case, and asked the man with the blunderbuss if he had a tinder-box on him. The unknown, without speaking, produced his tinder-box, and hastened to strike a light for me. In return I gave him one of my best Havanas, for which he thanked me with an inclination of the head.

In Spain a cigar given and received establishes relations of hospitality, like the sharing of bread and salt in the East. My unknown now proved more talkative than I had expected. He seemed half famished, and devoured some slices of excellent ham, which I had put in my guide's knapsack, wolfishly. When I mentioned I was going to the Venta del Cuervo for the night he offered to accompany me, and I accepted willingly.

As we rode along Antonio endeavoured to attract my attention by mysterious signs, but I took no notice. Doubtless my companion was a smuggler, or a robber. What did it matter to me? I knew I had nothing to fear from a man who had eaten and smoked with me.

We arrived at the venta, which was one of the most wretched I had yet come across. An old woman opened the door, and on seeing my companion, exclaimed, "Ah, Señor Don José!"

Don José frowned and raised his hand, and the old woman was silent at once.

The supper was better than I expected, and after supper Don José played the mandoline and sang some melancholy songs. My guide decided to pass the night in the stable, but Don José and I stretched ourselves on mule cloths on the floor.

Very disagreeable itchings snatched me from my first nap, and drove me to a wooden bench outside the door. I was about to close my eyes for the second time, when, to my surprise, I saw Antonio leading a horse. He stopped on seeing me, and said anxiously, "Where is he?"

"In the venta; he is sleeping. He is not afraid of the fleas. Why are you taking away my horse?"

I then observed that, in order to prevent any noise, Antonio had carefully wrapped the animal's feet in the remains of an old sack.

"Hush!" said Antonio. "That man there is José Navarro, the most famous bandit of Andalusia. There are two hundred ducats for whoever gives him up. I know a post of lancers a league and a half from here, and before it is day I will bring some of them here."

"What harm has the poor man done you that you denounce him?" said I.

"I am a poor wretch, sir!" was all Antonio could say. "Two hundred ducats are not to be lost, especially when it is a matter of delivering the country from such vermin."

My threats and requests were alike unavailing. Antonio was in the saddle, he set spurs to his horse after freeing its feet from the rags, and was soon lost to sight in the darkness.

I was very much annoyed with my guide, and somewhat uneasy; but quickly making up my mind, returned to the inn, and shook Don José to awaken him.

"Would you be very pleased to see half a dozen lancers arrive here?" I said.

He leapt to his feet.

"Ah, your guide has betrayed me! Your guide! I had suspected him. Adieu, sir. God repay you the service I am in your debt for. I am not quite as bad as you think. Yes, there is still something in me deserving the pity of a gentleman. Adieu!"

He ran to the stable, and some minutes later I heard him galloping into the fields.

As for me, I asked myself if I had been right in saving a robber, perhaps a murderer, from the gallows only because I had eaten ham and rice and smoked with him.

I think Antonio cherished a grudge against me; but, nevertheless, we parted good friends at Cordova.

II.--My Experience with Carmen

I passed some days at Cordova searching for a certain manuscript in the Dominican's library.

One evening I was leaning on the parapet of the quay, smoking, when a woman came up the flight of stairs leading to the river and sat down beside me. She was simply dressed, all in black, and we fell into conversation.

On my taking out my repeater watch she was greatly astonished.

"What inventions they have among you foreigners!"

Then she told me she was a gipsy, and proposed to tell my fortune.

"Have you heard people speak of La Carmencita?" she added. "That is me!"

"Good!" I said to myself. "Last week I supped with a highway robber; now to-day I will eat ices with a gipsy. When travelling one must see everything."

With that I escorted the Señorita Carmen to a café, and we had ices.

My gipsy had a strange and wild beauty, a face which astonished at first, but which one could not forget. Her eyes, in particular, had an expression, at once loving and fierce, that I have found in no human face since.

It would have been ridiculous to have had my fortune told in a public café and I begged the fair sorceress to allow me to accompany her to her domicile. She at once consented, but insisted on seeing my watch again.

"Is it really of gold?" she said, examining it with great attention.

Night had set in, and most of the shops were closed and the streets almost deserted as we crossed the Guadalquiver bridge, and went on to the outskirts of the town.

The house we entered was by no means a palace. A child opened the door, and disappeared when the gipsy said some words to it in the Romany tongue.

Then the gipsy produced some cards, a magnet, a dried chameleon, and other things necessary for her art. She told me to cross my left hand with a piece of money, and the magic ceremonies began. It was evident to me that she was no half-sorceress.

Unfortunately, we were soon disturbed. Of a sudden the door opened violently, and a man entered, who denounced the gipsy in a manner far from polite.

I at once recognised my friend Don José, and greeted him cheerfully.

"The same as ever! This will have an end," he said turning fiercely to the gipsy, who now started talking to him in her own language. She grew animated as she spoke, and her eyes became terrible. It appeared to me she was urging him warmly to do something at which he hesitated. I think I understood what it was only too well from seeing her quickly pass and repass her little hand under her chin. There was some question of a throat to cut, and I had a suspicion that the throat was mine.

Don José only answered with two or three words in a sharp tone, and the gipsy, casting a look of deep contempt at him, retired to a corner of the room, and taking an orange, peeled it and began to eat it.

Don José took my arm, opened the door, and led me into the street. We walked some way together in the profoundest silence. Then, stretching out his hand, "Keep straight on," he Said, "and you will find the bridge."

With that he turned his back on me, and walked rapidly away. I returned to my inn a little crestfallen and depressed. Worst of all was that, as I was undressing, I discovered my watch was missing.

I departed for Seville next day, and after several months of rambling in Andalusia, was once more back in Cordova, on my way to Madrid.

The good fathers at the Dominican convent received me with open arms.

"Your watch has been found again, and will be returned to you," one of them told me. "The rascal is in gaol, and is to be executed the day after to-morrow. He is known in the country under the name of José Navarro, and he is a man to be seen."

I went to see the prisoner, and took him some cigars. At first he shrugged his shoulders and received me coldly, but I saw him again on the morrow, and passed a part of the day with him. It was from his mouth I learnt the sad adventures of his life.

III.--Don José's Story

"I was born," he said, "at Elizondo, and my name--Don José Lizzarrabengoa--will tell you that I am Basque, and an old Christian. If I take the don, it is because I have the right to do so. One day when I had been playing tennis with a lad from Alava I won, and he picked a quarrel with me. We took our iron-tipped sticks, and fought, and again I had the advantage; but it forced me to quit the country. I met some dragoons, and enlisted in the Almanza regiment of cavalry. Soon I became a corporal, and they were under promise to make me sergeant when, to my misfortune, I was put on guard at the tobacco factory at Seville.

"I was young then, and I was always thinking of my native country, and was afraid of the Andalusian young women and their jesting ways. But one Friday--I shall never forget it--when I was on duty, I heard people saying, 'Here's the gipsy.' And, looking up, I saw her for the first time. I saw that Carmen whom you know, in whose house I met you some months ago.

"She made some joke at me as she passed into the factory, and flipped a cassia flower just between my eyes. When she had gone, I picked it up and put it carefully in my pocket. First piece of folly!

"A few hours afterwards I was ordered to take two of my men into the factory. There had been a quarrel, and Carmen had slashed another woman with two terrible cuts of her knife across the face. The case was clear. I took Carmen by the arm, and bade her follow me. At the guard-house the sergeant said it was serious, and that she must be taken to prison. I placed her between two dragoons, and, walking behind, we set out for the town.

"At first the gipsy kept silence, but presently she turned to me, and said softly, 'You are taking me to prison! Alas! what will become of me? Have pity on me, Mr. Officer! You are so young, so good-looking! Let me escape, and I will give you a piece of the loadstone which will make all women love you.'

"I answered her as seriously as I could that the order was to take her to prison, and that there was no help for it.

"My accent told her I was from the Basque province, and she began to speak to me in my native tongue. Gipsies, you know, sir, speak all languages. She told me she had been carried off by gipsies from Navarro, and was working at the factory in order to earn enough to return home to her poor mother. Would I do nothing for a country-woman? The Spanish women at the factory had slandered her native place.

"It was all lies, sir. She always lied. But I believed her at the time.

"'If I pushed you and you fell,' she resumed, in Basque, 'it would not be these two conscripts who would hold me.'

"I forgot my order and everything, and said, "'Very well, my country-woman; and may our Lady of the Mountain be your aid!'

"Suddenly Carmen turned round and dealt me a blow on the chest with her fist. I let myself fall backwards on purpose, and, with one bound, she leapt over me, and started to run. There was no risk of overtaking her with our spurs, our sabres, and our lances. The prisoner disappeared in no time, and all the women-folk in the quarter favoured her escape, and made fun of us, pointing out the wrong road on purpose. We had to return at last to the guard-house without a receipt from the governor of the prison.

"The result of this was I was degraded and sent to prison for a month. Farewell to the sergeant's stripes, I thought.

"One day in prison the jailor entered, and gave me a special loaf of bread.

"'Here,' he said, 'see what your cousin has sent you.'

"I was astonished, for I had no cousin in Seville, and when I broke the loaf I found a small file and a gold piece inside it. No doubt then, it was a present from Carmen, for a gipsy would set fire to a town to escape a day's imprisonment, and I was touched by this mark of remembrance.

"But I served my sentence, and, on coming out, was put on sentry outside the colonel's door, like a common soldier. It was a terrible humiliation.

"While I was on duty I saw Carmen again. She was dressed out like a shrine, all gold and ribbons, and was going in one evening with a party of gipsies to amuse the colonel's guests. She recognised me, and named a place where I could meet her next day. When I gave her back the gold piece she burst into laughter, but kept it all the same. Do you know, my son,' she said to me when we parted, 'I believe I love you a little. But that cannot last. Dog and wolf do not keep house together long. Perhaps, if you adopted the gipsy law, I would like to become your wife. But it is nonsense; it is impossible. Think no more of Carmencita, or she will bring you to the gallows.'

"She spoke the truth. I would have been wise to think no more of her; but after that day I could think of nothing else, and walked about always hoping to meet her, but she had left the town.

"It was some weeks later, when I had been placed as a night sentinel at one of the town gates that I saw Carmen. I was put there to prevent smuggling; but Carmen persuaded me to let five of her friends pass in, and they were all well laden with English goods. She told me I might come and see her next day at the same house I had visited before.

"Carmen had moods, like the weather in our country. She would make appointments and not keep them, and at another time, would be full of affection.

"One evening when I had called on a friend of Carmen's the gipsy entered the room, followed by a young man, a lieutenant in our regiment.

"He told me to decamp, and I said something sharp to him. We soon drew our swords, and presently the point of mine entered his body. Then Carmen extinguished the lamp, and, wounded though I was, we started running down the street. 'Great fool,' she said. 'You can do nothing but foolish things. Besides, I told you I would bring you bad luck.' She made me take off my uniform and put on a striped cloak, and this with a handkerchief over my head, enabled me to pass fairly well for a peasant. Then she took me to a house at the end of a little lane, and she and another gipsy washed and dressed my wounds. Next day Carmen pointed out to me the new career she destined me for. I was to go to the coast and become a smuggler. In truth it was the only one left me, now that I had incurred the punishment of death. Besides, I believed I could make sure of her love. Carmen introduced me to her people, and at first the freedom of the smuggler's life pleased me better than the soldier's life. I saw Carmen often, and she showed more liking for me than ever; but, she would not admit that she was willing to be my wife.

IV.--The End of Don José's Story

"One becomes a rogue without thinking, sir. A pretty girl makes one lose one's head, one fights for her, a misfortune happens, one is driven to the mountains, from smuggler one becomes robber before reflecting.

"Carmen often made me jealous, especially after she accepted me as her husband, and she warned me not to interfere with her freedom. On my part I wanted to change my way of life, but when I spoke to her about quitting Spain and trying to live honestly in America, she laughed at me.

"'We are not made for planting cabbages,' she said; 'our destiny is to live at the expense of others.' Then she told me of a fresh piece of smuggling on hand, and I let myself be persuaded to resume the wretched traffic.

"While I was in hiding at Granada, there were bullfights to which Carmen went. When she returned, she spoke much of a very skilful picador, named Lucas. She knew the name of his horse, and how much his embroidered jacket cost him. I paid no heed to this, but began to grow alarmed when I heard that Carmen had been seen about with Lucas. I asked her how and why she had made his acquaintance.

"'He is a man,' she said, 'with whom business can be done. He has won twelve hundred pounds at the bullfights. One of two things: we must either have the money, or, as he is a good horseman, we can enroll him in our band.'

"'I wish,' I replied, 'neither his money nor his person, and I forbid you to speak to him.'

"'Take care,' she said; 'when anyone dares me to do a thing it is soon done.'

"Luckily the picador left for Malaga, and I set about my smuggling. I had a great deal to do in this expedition, and it was about that time I first met you. Carmen robbed you of your watch at our last interview, and she wanted your money as well. We had a violent dispute about that, and I struck her. She turned pale and wept. It was the first time I saw her weep, and it had a terrible effect on me. I begged her pardon, but it was not till three days later that she would kiss me.

"'There is a fête at Cordova,' she said, when we were friends again. 'I am going to see it, then I shall find out the people who carry money with them and tell you.'

"I let her go, but when a peasant told me there was a bull-fight at Cordova, I set off like a madman to the spot. Lucas was pointed out to me, and on the bench close to the barrier I recognised Carmen. It was enough for me to see her to be certain how things stood. Lucas, at the first bull, did the gallant, as I had foreseen. He tore the bunch of ribbons from the bull and carried it to Carmen, who put it in her hair on the spot. The bull took upon itself the task of avenging me. Lucas was thrown down with his horse on his chest, and the bull on the top of both. I looked at Carmen, she had already left her seat, but I was so wedged in I was obliged to wait for the end of the fights.

"I got home first, however, and Carmen only arrived at two o'clock in the morning.

"'Come with me,' I said.

"'Very well, let us go,' she answered.

"I went and fetched my horse; I put her behind me, and we travelled all the rest of the night without speaking. At daybreak we were in a solitary gorge.

"'Listen,' I said to Carmen, 'I forget everything. Only swear to me one thing, that you will follow me to America, and live there quietly with me.'

"'No,' she said, in a sulky tone, 'I do not want to go to America. I am quite comfortable here.'

"I implored her to let us change our way of life and Carmen answered, 'I will follow you to death, but I will not live with you any longer. I always thought you meant to kill me, and now I see that is what you are going to do. It is destiny, but you will not make me yield.'

"'Listen to me!' I said, 'for the last time. You know that it is for you I have become a robber and a murderer. Carmen! my Carmen, there is still time for us to save ourselves,' I promised anything and everything if she would love me again.

"'José,' she replied, 'you ask me for the impossible. I do not love you any more. All is over between us. You have the right to kill me. But Carmen must always be free. To love you is impossible, and I do not wish to live with you.'

"Fury took possession of me, and I killed her with my knife. An hour later I laid her in a grave in the wood. Then I mounted my horse, galloped to Cordova, and gave myself up at the first guard-house.... Poor Carmen! it is the gipsies who are to blame for having brought her up like that."


MARY RUSSELL MITFORD

Our Village

Mary Russell Mitford was known first as a dramatist, with tragedy as her forte, and in later years as a novelist, but by posterity she will be remembered as a portrayer of country life, in simply worded sketches, with a quiet colouring of humour. These sketches were collected, as "Our Village," into five volumes, between 1824 and 1832. Miss Mitford was born Dec. 16, 1787, at Alresford, Hampshire, England, the daughter of a foolish spendthrift father, to whom she was pathetically devoted, and lived in her native county almost throughout her life. In her later years she received a Civil List pension. She died on January 10, 1855. The quietness of the country is in all Miss Mitford's writing, but it is a cheerful country, pervaded by a rosy-cheeked optimism. Her letters, too, scribbled on small scraps of paper, are as attractive as her books.

I.--Some of the Inhabitants

Will you walk with me through our village, courteous reader? The journey is not long. We will begin at the lower end, and proceed up the hill.

The tidy, square, red cottage on the right hand, with the long, well-stocked garden by the side of the road, belongs to a retired publican from a neighbouring town; a substantial person with a comely wife--one who piques himself on independence and idleness, talks politics, reads the newspapers, hates the minister, and cries out for reform. He hangs over his gate, and tries to entice passengers to stop and chat. Poor man! He is a very respectable person, and would be a very happy one if he would add a little employment to his dignity. It would be the salt of life to him.

Next to his house, though parted from it by another long garden with a yew arbour at the end, is the pretty dwelling of the shoemaker, a pale, sickly-looking, black-haired man, the very model of sober industry. There he sits in his little shop from early morning till late at night. An earthquake would hardly stir him. There is at least as much vanity in his industry as in the strenuous idleness of the retired publican. The shoemaker has only one pretty daughter, a light, delicate, fair-haired girl of fourteen, the champion, protectress, and play-fellow of every brat under three years old, whom she jumps, dances, dandles, and feeds all day long. A very attractive person is that child-loving girl. She likes flowers, and has a profusion of white stocks under her window, as pure and delicate as herself.

The first house on the opposite side of the way is the blacksmith's--a gloomy dwelling, where the sun never seems to shine; dark and smoky within and without, like a forge. The blacksmith is a high officer in our little state, nothing less than a constable; but alas, alas! when tumults arise, and the constable is called for, he will commonly be found in the thickest of the fray. Lucky would it be for his wife and her eight children if there were no public-house in the land.

Then comes the village shop, like other village shops, multifarious as a bazaar--a repository for bread, shoes, tea, cheese, tape, ribbons, and bacon; for everything, in short, except the one particular thing which you happen to want at the moment, and will be sure not to find.

Divided from the shop by a narrow yard is a habitation of whose inmates I shall say nothing. A cottage--no, a miniature house, all angles, and of a charming in-and-outness; the walls, old and weather-stained, covered with hollyhocks, roses, honeysuckles, and a great apricot-tree; the casements full of geraniums (oh, there is our superb white cat peeping out from among them!); the closets (our landlord has the assurance to call them rooms) full of contrivances and corner-cupboards; and the little garden behind full of common flowers. That house was built on purpose to show in what an exceeding small compass comfort may be packed.

The next tenement is a place of importance, the Rose Inn--a whitewashed building, retired from the road behind its fine swinging sign, with a little bow-window room coming out on one side, and forming, with our stable on the other, a sort of open square, which is the constant resort of carts, waggons, and return chaises.

Next door lives a carpenter, "famed ten miles around, and worthy all his fame," with his excellent wife and their little daughter Lizzy, the plaything and queen of the village--a child three years old according to the register, but six in size and strength and intellect, in power and self-will. She manages everybody in the place; makes the lazy carry her, the silent talk to her, and the grave to romp with her. Her chief attraction lies in her exceeding power of loving, and her firm reliance on the love and the indulgence of others.

How pleasantly the road winds up the hill, with its broad, green borders and hedgerows so thickly timbered! How finely the evening sun falls on that sandy, excavated bank, and touches the farmhouse on the top of the eminence!

II.--Hannah Bint

The shaw leading to Hannah Bint's habitation is a very pretty mixture of wood and coppice. A sudden turn brings us to the boundary of the shaw, and there, across the open space, the white cottage of the keeper peeps from the opposite coppice; and the vine-covered dwelling of Hannah Bint rises from amidst the pretty garden, which lies bathed in the sunshine around it.

My friend Hannah Bint is by no means an ordinary person. Her father, Jack Bint (for in all his life he never arrived at the dignity of being called John), was a drover of high repute in his profession. No man between Salisbury Plain and Smithfield was thought to conduct a flock of sheep so skilfully through all the difficulties of lanes and commons, streets and high-roads, as Jack Bint, aided by Jack Bint's famous dog, Watch.

No man had a more thorough knowledge of the proper night stations, where good feed might be procured for his charge, and good liquor for Watch and himself; Watch, like other sheepdogs, being accustomed to live chiefly on bread and beer, while his master preferred gin.

But when a rheumatic fever came one hard winter, and finally settled in Jack Bint's limbs, reducing the most active and handy man in the parish to the state of a confirmed cripple, poor Jack, a thoughtless but kind creature, looked at his three motherless children with acute misery. Then it was that he found help where he least expected it--in the sense and spirit of his young daughter, a girl of twelve years old.

Hannah was a quick, clever lass of a high spirit, a firm temper, some pride, and a horror of accepting parochial relief--that surest safeguard to the sturdy independence of the English character. So when her father talked of giving up their comfortable cottage and removing to the workhouse, while she and her brothers must move to service, Hannah formed a bold resolution, and proceeded to act at once on her own plans and designs.

She knew that the employer in whose service her father's health had suffered so severely was a rich and liberal cattle-dealer in the neighbourhood, who would willingly aid an old and faithful servant. Of Farmer Oakley, accordingly, she asked, not money, but something much more in his own way--a cow! And, amused and interested by the child's earnestness, the wealthy yeoman gave her a very fine young Alderney.

She then went to the lord of the manor, and, with equal knowledge of character, begged his permission to keep her cow on the shaw common. He, too, half from real good nature, and half not to be outdone in liberality by his tenant, not only granted the requested permission, but reduced the rent so much that the produce of the vine seldom failed to satisfy their kind landlord.

Now Hannah showed great judgment in setting up as a dairy-woman. One of the most provoking of the petty difficulties which beset a small establishment in this neighbourhood is the trouble, almost the impossibility, of procuring the pastoral luxuries of milk, eggs, and butter. Hannah's Alderney restored us to our rural privilege. Speedily she established a regular and gainful trade in milk, eggs, butter, honey, and poultry--for poultry they had always kept.

In short, during the five years she has ruled at the shaw cottage the world has gone well with Hannah Bint. She has even taught Watch to like the buttermilk as well as strong beer, and has nearly persuaded her father to accept milk as a substitute for gin. Not but that Hannah hath had her enemies as well as her betters. The old woman at the lodge, who always piqued herself on being spiteful, and crying down new ways, foretold that she would come to no good; nay, even Ned Miles, the keeper, her next neighbour, who had whilom held entire sway over the shaw common, as well as its coppices, grumbled as much as so good-natured and genial a person could grumble when he found a little girl sharing his dominion, a cow grazing beside his pony, and vulgar cocks and hens hovering around the buckwheat destined to feed his noble pheasants.

Yes! Hannah hath had her enemies, but they are passing away. The old woman at the lodge is dead, poor creature; and the keeper?--why, he is not dead, or like to die, but the change that has taken place there is the most astonishing of all--except perhaps the change in Hannah herself.

Few damsels of twelve years old, generally a very pretty age, were less pretty than Hannah Bint. Short and stunted in her figure, thin in face, sharp in feature, with a muddied complexion, wild, sunburnt hair, and eyes whose very brightness had in them something startling, over-informed, too clever for her age; at twelve years old she had quite the air of a little old fairy.

Now, at seventeen, matters are mended. Her complexion has cleared; her countenance has developed itself; her figure has shot up into height and lightness, and a sort of rustic grace; her bright, acute eye is softened and sweetened by a womanly wish to please; her hair is trimmed and curled and brushed with exquisite neatness; and her whole dress arranged with that nice attention to the becoming which would be called the highest degree of coquetry if it did not deserve the better name of propriety. The lass is really pretty, and Ned Miles has discovered that she is so. There he stands, the rogue, close at her side (for he hath joined her whilst we have been telling her little story, and the milking is over); there he stands holding her milk-pail in one hand, and stroking Watch with the other. There they stand, as much like lovers as may be; he smiling and she blushing; he never looking so handsome, nor she so pretty, in their lives.

There they stand, and one would not disturb them for all the milk and the butter in Christendom. I should not wonder if they were fixing the wedding-day.

III.--A Country Cricket Match

I doubt if there be any scene in the world more animating or delightful than a cricket match. I do not mean a set match at Lord's Ground--no! the cricket I mean is a real solid, old-fashioned match between neighbouring parishes, where each attacks the other for honour and a supper.

For the last three weeks our village has been in a state of great excitement, occasioned by a challenge from our north-western neighbours, the men of B----, to contend with us at cricket. Now, we have not been much in the habit of playing matches. The sport had languished until the present season, when the spirit began to revive. Half a dozen fine, active lads, of influence among their comrades, grew into men and yearned for cricket. In short, the practice recommenced, and the hill was again alive with men and boys and innocent merriment. Still, we were modest and doubted our own strength.

The B---- people, on the other hand, must have been braggers born. Never was such boasting! Such ostentatious display of practice! It was a wonder they did not challenge all England. Yet we firmly resolved not to decline the combat; and one of the most spirited of the new growth, William Grey by name, and a farmer's son by station, took up the glove in a style of manly courtesy that would have done honour to a knight in the days of chivalry.

William Grey then set forth to muster his men, remembering with great complacency that Samuel Long, the very man who had bowled us out at a fatal return match some years ago at S--, our neighbours south-by-east, had luckily, in a remove of a quarter of a mile last Lady Day, crossed the boundaries of his old parish and actually belonged to us. Here was a stroke of good fortune! Our captain applied to him instantly, and he agreed at a word. We felt we had half gained the match when we had secured him. Then James Brown, a journeyman blacksmith and a native, who, being of a rambling disposition, had roamed from place to place for half a dozen years, had just returned to our village with a prodigious reputation in cricket and gallantry. To him also went the indefatigable William Grey, and he also consented to play. Having thus secured two powerful auxiliaries, we began to reckon the regular forces.

Thus ran our list. William Grey, 1; Samuel Long, 2; James Brown, 3; George and John Simmons, one capital, the other so-so--an uncertain hitter, but a good fieldsman, 5; Joel Brent, excellent, 6; Ben Appleton--here was a little pause, for Ben's abilities at cricket were not completely ascertained, but then he was a good fellow, so full of fun and waggery! No doing without Ben. So he figured in the list as 7. George Harris--a short halt there too--slowish, but sure, 8; Tom Coper--oh, beyond the world Tom Coper, the red-headed gardening lad, whose left-handed strokes send her (a cricket-ball is always of the feminine gender) send her spinning a mile, 9; Harry Willis, another blacksmith, 10.

We had now ten of our eleven, but the choice of the last occasioned some demur. John Strong, a nice youth--everybody likes John Strong--was the next candidate, but he is so tall and limp that we were all afraid his strength, in spite of his name, would never hold out. So the eve of the match arrived and the post was still vacant, when a little boy of fifteen, David Willis, brother to Harry, admitted by accident to the last practice, saw eight of them out, and was voted in by acclamation.

Morning dawned. On calling over our roll, Brown was missing; and it transpired that he had set off at four o'clock in the morning to play in a cricket match at M----, a little town twelve miles off, which had been his last residence. Here was desertion! Here was treachery! How we cried him down! We were well rid of him, for he was no batter compared with William Grey; not fit to wipe the shoes of Samuel Long as a bowler; the boy David Willis was worth fifty of him. So we took tall John Strong. I never saw any one prouder than the good-humoured lad was at this not very flattering piece of preferment.

They began the warfare--these boastful men of B----! And what think you was the amount of their innings? These challengers--the famous eleven--how many did they get? Think! Imagine! Guess! You cannot. Well, they got twenty-two, or, rather, they got twenty, for two of theirs were short notches, and would never have been allowed, only that, seeing what they were made of, we and our umpires were not particular. Oh, how well we fielded.

Then we went in. And what of our innings? Guess! A hundred and sixty-nine! We headed them by a hundred and forty-seven; and then they gave in, as well they might. William Grey pressed them much to try another innings, but they were beaten sulky and would not move.

The only drawback in my enjoyment was the failure of the pretty boy David Willis, who, injudiciously put in first, and playing for the first time in a match amongst men and strangers, was seized with such a fit of shamefaced shyness that he could scarcely hold his bat, and was bowled out without a stroke, from actual nervousness. Our other modest lad, John Strong, did very well; his length told in the field, and he got good fame. William Grey made a hit which actually lost the cricket-ball. We think she lodged in a hedge a quarter of a mile off, but nobody could find her. And so we parted; the players retired to their supper and we to our homes, all good-humoured and all happy--except the losers.

IV.--Love, the Leveller

The prettiest cottage on our village green is the little dwelling of Dame Wilson. The dame was a respected servant in a most respectable family, which she quitted only on her marriage with a man of character and industry, and of that peculiar universality of genius which forms what is called, in country phrase, a handy fellow. His death, which happened about ten years ago, made quite a gap in our village commonwealth.

Without assistance Mrs. Wilson contrived to maintain herself and her children in their old, comfortable home. The house had still, within and without, the same sunshiny cleanliness, and the garden was still famous over all other gardens. But the sweetest flower of the garden, and the joy and pride of her mother's heart, was her daughter Hannah. Well might she be proud of her! At sixteen, Hannah Wilson was, beyond a doubt, the prettiest girl in the village, and the best. Her chief characteristic was modesty. Her mind was like her person: modest, graceful, gentle and generous above all.

Our village beauty had fairly reached her twentieth year without a sweetheart; without the slightest suspicion of her having ever written a love-letter on her own account, when, all of a sudden, appearances changed. A trim, elastic figure, not unaccompanied, was descried walking down the shady lane. Hannah had gotten a lover!

Since the new marriage act, we, who belong to the country magistrates, have gained a priority over the rest of the parish in matrimonial news. We (the privileged) see on a work-day the names which the Sabbath announces to the generality. One Saturday, walking through our little hall, I saw a fine athletic young man, the very image of health and vigour, mental and bodily, holding the hand of a young woman, who was turning bashfully away, listening, and yet not seeming to listen, to his tender whispers. Hannah! And she went aside with me, and a rapid series of questions and answers conveyed the story of the courtship. "William was," said Hannah, "a journeyman hatter, in B----. He had walked over to see the cricketing, and then he came again. Her mother liked him. Everybody liked him--and she had promised. Was it wrong?"

"Oh, no! And where are you to live?" "William had got a room in B----. He works for Mr. Smith, the rich hatter in the market-place, and Mr. Smith speaks of him, oh, so well! But William will not tell me where our room is. I suppose in some narrow street or lane, which he is afraid I shall not like, as our common is so pleasant. He little thinks--anywhere--" She stopped suddenly. "Anywhere with him!"

The wedding-day was a glorious morning.

"What a beautiful day for Hannah!" was the first exclamation at the breakfast-table. "Did she tell you where they should dine?"

"No, ma'am; I forgot to ask."

"I can tell you," said the master of the house, with the look of a man who, having kept a secret as long as it was necessary, is not sorry to get rid of the burthen. "I can tell you--in London."

"In London?"

"Yes. Your little favourite has been in high luck. She has married the only son of one of the best and richest men in B----, Mr. Smith, the great hatter. It is quite a romance. William Smith walked over to see a match, saw our pretty Hannah, and forgot to look at the cricketers. He came again and again, and at last contrived to tame this wild dove, and even to get the entrée of the cottage. Hearing Hannah talk is not the way to fall out of love with her. So William, finding his case serious, laid the matter before his father, and requested his consent to the marriage. Mr. Smith was at first a little startled. But William is an only son, and an excellent son; and after talking with me, and looking at Hannah, the father relented. But, having a spice of his son's romance, and finding that he had not mentioned his station in life, he made a point of its being kept secret till the wedding-day. I hope the shock will not kill Hannah."

"Oh, no! Hannah loves her husband too well."

And I was right. Hannah has survived the shock. She is returned to B----, and I have been to call on her. She is still the same Hannah, and has lost none of her old habits of kindness and gratitude. She did indeed just hint at her trouble with visitors and servants; seemed distressed at ringing the bell, and visibly shrank from the sound of a double knock. But in spite of these calamities Hannah is a happy woman. The double rap was her husband's, and the glow on her cheek, and the smile of her lips and eyes when he appeared spoke more plainly than ever: "Anywhere with him!"


DAVID MOIR

Autobiography of Mansie Wauch

David Macbeth Moir was born at Musselburgh, Scotland, Jan. 5, 1798, and educated at the grammar school of the Royal Burgh and at Edinburgh University, from which he received the diploma of surgeon in 1816. He practised as a physician in his native town from 1817 until 1843, when, health failing, he practically withdrew from the active duties of his profession. Moir began to write in both prose and verse for various periodicals when quite a youth, but his long connection with "Blackwood's Magazine" under the pen name of "Delta" (Δ), began in 1820, and he became associated with Christopher North, the Ettrick Shepherd, and others of the Edinburgh coterie distinguished in "Noctes Ambrosianae." He contributed to "Blackwood," histories, biographies, essays, and poems, to the number of about 400. His poems were esteemed beyond their merits by his generation, and his reputation now rests almost solely on the caustic humour of his "Autobiography of Mansie Wauch," published in 1828, a series of sketches of the manner of life in the shop-keeping and small-trading class of a Scottish provincial town at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Moir died at Dumfries on July 6, 1851.

I.--Mansie's Forebears and Early Life

Some of the rich houses and great folk pretend to have histories of the ancientness of their families, which they can count back on their fingers almost to the days of Noah's Ark, and King Fergus the First, but it is not in my power to come further back than auld grand-faither, who died when I was a growing callant. I mind him full well. To look at him was just as if one of the ancient patriarchs had been left on the earth, to let succeeding survivors witness a picture of hoary and venerable eld.

My own father, auld Mansie Wauch, was, at the age of thirteen, bound a 'prentice to the weaver trade, which he prosecuted till a mortal fever cut through the thread of his existence. Alas, as Job says, "How time flies like a weaver's shuttle!" He was a decent, industrious, hard-working man, doing everything for the good of his family, and winning the respect of all who knew the value of his worth. On the five-and-twentieth year of his age he fell in love with, and married, my mother, Marion Laverock.

I have no distinct recollection of the thing myself, but there is every reason to believe that I was born on October 13, 1765, in a little house in the Flesh-Market Gate, Dalkeith, and the first thing I have any clear memory of was being carried on my auntie's shoulders to see the Fair Race. Oh! but it was a grand sight! I have read since the story of Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp, but that fair and the race, which was won by a young birkie who had neither hat nor shoon, riding a philandering beast of a horse thirteen or fourteen years auld, beat it all to sticks.

In time, I was sent to school, where I learned to read and spell, making great progress in the Single and Mother's Carritch. What is more, few could fickle me in the Bible, being mostly able to spell it all over, save the second of Ezra and the seventh of Nehemiah, which the Dominie himself could never read through twice in the same way, or without variation.

Being of a delicate make--nature never intended me for the naval or military line, or for any robustious profession--I was apprenticed to the tailoring trade. Just afterwards I had a terrible stound of calf-love, my first flame being the minister's lassie, Jess, a buxom and forward queen, two or three years older than myself. I used to sit looking at her in the kirk, and felt a droll confusion when our eyes met. It dirled through my heart like a dart. Fain would I have spoken to her, but aye my courage failed me, though whiles she gave me a smile when she passed. She used to go to the well every night with her two stoups to draw water, so I thought of watching to give her two apples which I had carried in my pocket for more than a week for that purpose. How she started when I stappit them into her hand, and brushed by without speaking!

Jamie Coom, the blacksmith, who I aye jealoused was my rival, came up and asked Jess, with a loud guffaw, "Where is the tailor?" When I heard that, I took to my heels till I found myself on the little stool by the fireside with the hamely sound of my mother's wheel bum-bumming in my lug, like a gentle lullaby.

The days of the years of my 'prenticeship having glided cannily over, I girt myself round about with a proud determination of at once cutting my mother's apron-string. So I set out for Edinburgh in search of a journeyman's place, which I got the very first day in the Grassmarket. My lodging was up six pairs of stairs, in a room which I rented for half-a-crown a week, coals included; but my heart was sea-sick of Edinburgh folk and town manners, for which I had no stomach. I could form no friendly acquaintanceship with a living soul. Syne I abode by myself, like St. John in the Isle of Patmos, on spare allowance, making a sheep-head serve me for three days' kitchen.

Everything around me seemed to smell of sin and pollution, and often did I commune with my own heart, that I would rather be a sober, poor, honest man in the country, able to clear my day and way by the help of Providence, than the provost himself, my lord though he be, or even the mayor of London, with his velvet gown trailing for yards in the glaur behind him, or riding about the streets in a coach made of clear crystal and wheels of beaten gold.

But when my heart was sickening unto death, I fell in with the greatest blessing of my life, Nanse Cromie, a bit wench of a lassie frae the Lauder direction, who had come to be a servant in the flat below our workshop, and whom I often met on the stairs.

If ever a man loved, and loved like mad, it was me; and I take no shame in the confession. Let them laugh who like; honest folk, I pity them; such know not the pleasures of virtuous affection. Matters were by and bye settled full tosh between us; and though the means of both parties were small, we were young, and able and willing to help one another. Nanse and me laid our heads together towards the taking a bit house in the fore-street of Dalkeith, and at our leisure bought the plenishing.

Two or three days after Maister Wiggie, the minister, had gone through the ceremony of tying us together, my sign was nailed up, painted in black letters on a blue ground, with a picture of a jacket on one side and a pair of shears on the other; and I hung up a wheen ready-made waistcoats, caps, and Kilmarnock cowls in the window. Business in fact, flowed in upon us in a perfect torrent.

Both Nanse and I found ourselves so proud of our new situation that we slipped out in the dark and had a prime look with a lantern at the sign, which was the prettiest ye ever saw, although some sandblind creatures had taken the neatly painted jacket for a goose.

II.--The Resurrection Men

A year or two after the birth and christening of wee Benjie, my son, I was cheated by a swindling black-aviced Englishman out of some weeks' lodgings and keep, and a pair of new velveteen knee-breeches.

Then there arose a great surmise that some loons were playing false with the kirkyard; and, on investigation, it was found that four graves had been opened, and the bodies harled away to the college. Words cannot describe the fear, the dool, and the misery it caused, and the righteous indignation that burst through the parish.

But what remead? It was to watch in the session-house with loaded guns, night about, three at a time. It was in November when my turn came. I never liked to go into the kirkyard after darkening, let-a-be sit through a long winter night with none but the dead around us. I felt a kind of qualm of faintness and downsinking about my heart and stomach, to the dispelling of which I took a thimbleful of spirits, and, tying my red comforter about my neck, I marched briskly to the session-house.

Andrew Goldie, the pensioner, lent me his piece and loaded it to me. Not being well acquaint with guns, I kept the muzzle aye away from me, as it is every man's duty not to throw his precious life into jeopardy. A bench was set before the sessions-house fire, which bleezed brightly. My spirits rose, and I wondered, in my bravery, that a man like me should be afraid of anything. Nobody was there but a towzy, carroty-haired callant.

The night was now pitmirk. The wind soughed amid the headstones and railings of the gentry (for we must all die), and the black corbies in the steeple-holes cackled and crawed in a fearsome manner. Oh, but it was lonesome and dreary; and in about an hour the laddie wanted to rin awa hame; but, trying to look brave, though half-frightened out of my seven senses, I said, "Sit down, sit down; I've baith whiskey and porter wi' me. Hae, man, there's a cawker to keep your heart warm; and set down that bottle of Deacon Jaffrey's best brown stout to get a toast."

The wind blew like a hurricane; the rain began to fall in perfect spouts. Just in the heart of the brattle the grating of the yett turning on its rusty hinges was but too plainly heard.

"The're coming; cock the piece, ye sumph!" cried the laddie, while his red hair rose, from his pow like feathers. "I hear them tramping on the gravel," and he turned the key in the lock and brizzed his back against the door like mad, shouting out, "For the Lord's sake, prime the gun, or our throats will be cut before you can cry Jack Robinson."

I did the best I could, but the gun waggled to and fro like a cock's tail on a rainy day. I trust I was resigned to die, but od' it was a frightful thing to be out of one's bed to be murdered in an old session-house at the dead hour of the night by devils incarnate of ressurrection men with blacked faces, pistols, big sticks, and other deadly weapons.

After all, it was only Isaac, the bethrel, who, when we let him in, said that he had just keppit four ressurrectioners louping over the wall. But that was a joke. I gave Isaac a dram to kep his heart up, and he sung and leuch as if he had been boozing with some of his drucken cronies; for feint a hair cared he about auld kirkyards, or vouts, or dead folk in their winding-sheets, with the wet grass growing over them. Then, although I tried to stop him, he began to tell stories of Eirish ressurrectioners, and ghaists, seen in the kirkyard at midnight.

Suddenly a clap like thunder was heard, and the laddie, who had fallen asleep on the bench, jumped up and roared "Help!" "Murder!" "Thieves!" while Isaac bellowed out, "I'm dead! I'm killed!--shot through the head! Oh, oh, oh!" Surely, I had fainted away, for, when I came to myself, I found my red comforter loosed, my face all wet, Isaac rubbing down his waistcoat with his sleeve--the laddie swigging ale out of a bicker--and the brisk brown stout, which, by casting its cork, had caused all the alarm, whizz-whizz, whizzing in the chimney lug.

III.--The Friends of the People

The sough of war and invasion flew over the land at this time, like a great whirlwind; and the hearts of men died within their persons with fear and trembling. Abroad the heads of crowned kings were cut off, and great dukes and lords were thrown into dark dungeons, or obligated to flee for their lives to foreign countries.

But worst of all the trouble seemed a smittal one, and even our own land began to show symptoms of the plague spot. Agents of the Spirit of Darkness, calling themselves the Friends of the People, held secret meetings, and hatched plots to blow up our blessed king and constitution. Yet the business, though fearsome in the main, was in some parts almost laughable. Everything was to be divided, and everyone made alike. Houses and lands were to be distributed by lots, and the mighty man and the beggar--the old man and the hobble-de-hoy--the industrious man and the spendthrift, the maimed, the cripple, and the blind, the clever man of business, and the haveril simpleton, made all just brethern, and alike. Save us! but to think of such nonsense! At one of their meetings, held at the sign of the Tappet Hen and the Tankard, there was a prime fight of five rounds between Tammy Bowsie, the snab, and auld Thrashem, the dominie, about their drawing cuts which was to get Dalkeith Palace, and which Newbottle Abbey! Oh, sic riff-raff!

It was a brave notion of the king to put the loyalty of the land to the test, that the daft folk might be dismayed, and that the clanjamphrey might be tumbled down before their betters, like the windle-straes in a hurricane. And so they were. Such crowds came forward when the names of the volunteers were taken down. I will never forget the first day that I got my regimentals on, and when I looked myself in the glass, just to think I was a sodger who never in my life could thole the smell of powder! Oh, but it was grand! I sometimes fancied myself a general, and giving the word of command. Big Sam, who was a sergeant in the fencibles, and enough to have put five Frenchmen to flight any day of the year, whiles came to train us; but as nature never intended me for the soldiering trade, I never got out of the awkward squad, though I had two or three neighbours to keep me in countenance.

We all cracked very crouse about fighting; but one dark night we got a fleg in sober earnest. Jow went the town bell, and row-de-dow gaed the drums, and all in a minute was confusion and uproar in ilka street. I was seized with a severe shaking of the knees and a flapping at the heart, when, through the garret window, I saw the signal posts were in a bleeze, and that the French had landed. This was in reality to be a soldier! I never got such a fright since the day I was cleckit. There was such a noise and hullabaloo in the streets, as if the Day of Judgment had come to find us all unprepared.

Notwithstanding, we behaved ourselves like true-blue Scotsmen, called forth to fight the battles of our country, and if the French had come, as they did not come, they would have found that to their cost, as sure as my name is Mansie. However, it turned out that it was a false alarm, and that the thief Buonaparte had not landed at Dunbar, as it was jealoused; so, after standing under arms for half the night, we were sent home to our beds.

But next day we were taken out to be taught the art of firing. We went through our motions bravely--to load, ram down the cartridge, made ready, present, fire. But so flustered and confused was I that I never had mind to pull the tricker, though I rammed down a fresh cartridge at the word of command. At the end of the firing the sergeant of the company ordered all that had loaded pieces to come to the front, and six of us stepped out in a little line in face of the regiment. Our pieces were cocked, and at the word "Fire!" off they went. It was an act of desperation on my part to draw the tricker, and I had hardly well shut my blinkers when I got such a thump on the shoulder as knocked me backwards, head over heels, on the grass. When I came to my senses and found myself not killed outright, and my gun two or three ells away, I began to rise up. Then I saw one of the men going forward to lift the fatal piece, but my care for the safety of others overcame the sense of my own peril. "Let alane, let alane!" cried I to him, "and take care of yoursell, for it has to gang off five times yet." I thought in my innocence that we should hear as many reports as I had crammed cartridges down her muzzle. This was a sore joke against me for a length of time; but I tholed it patiently, considering cannily within myself, that even Johnny Cope himself had not learned the art of war in a single morning.

IV.--My First and Last Play

Maister Glen, a farmer from the howes of the Lammermoor, Hills, a far-awa cousin of our neighbour Widow Grassie, came to Dalkeith to buy a horse at our fair. He put up free of expense at the widow's, who asked me to join him and her at a bit warm dinner, as may be, being a stranger, he would not like to use the freedom of drinking by himself--a custom which is at the best an unsocial one--especially with none but women-folk near him.

When we got our joy filled for the second time, and began to be better acquainted, we became merry, and cracked away just like two pen-guns. I asked him, ye see, about sheep and cows, and ploughing and thrashing, and horses and carts, and fallow land and lambing-time, and such like; and he, in his turn, made inquiries regarding broad and narrow cloth, Shetland hose, and mittens, thread, and patent shears, measuring, and all other particulars belonging to our trade, which he said, at long and last, after we had joked together, was a power better one than the farming line; and he promised to bind his auldest callant 'prentice to me to the tailoring trade.

On the head of this auld Glen and I had another jug, three being cannie, after which we were both a wee tozymozy. Mistress Grassie saw plainly that we were getting into a state where we could not easily make a halt, and brought in the tea-things and told us that a company of strolling players had come to the town and were to give an exhibition in Laird Wheatley's barn. Many a time I had heard of play-acting, and I determined to run the risk of Maister Wiggie, our minister's rebuke, for the transgression. Auld Glen, being as full of nonsense and as fain to gratify his curiosity as myself, volunteered to pay the ransom of a shilling for admission, so we went to the barn, which had been browley set out for the occasion by Johnny Hammer, the joiner.

The place was choke-full, just to excess, and when the curtain was hauled up in came a decent old gentleman in great distress, and implored all the powers of heaven and earth to help him find his runaway daughter that had decamped with some ne'er-do-weel loon of a half-pay captain. Out he went stumping on the other side, determined, he said, to find them, though he should follow them to Johnny Groat's house, or something to that effect. Hardly was his back turned than in came the birkie and the very young lady the old gentleman described, arm-and-arm together, laughing like daft Dog on it! It was a shameless piece of business. As true as death, before all the crowd of folk, he put his arm round her waist and called her his sweetheart, and love, and dearie, and darling, and everything that is fine.

In the middle of their goings on, the sound of a coming foot was heard, and the lassie, taking guilt to her, cried out, "Hide me, hide me, for the sake of goodness, for yonder comes my old father!" No sooner said than done. In he stappit her into a closit, and, after shutting the door on her, he sat down upon a chair, pretending to be asleep in the twinkling of a walking-stick. The old father came bounsing in, shook him up, and gripping him by the cuff of the neck, aske him, in a fierce tone, what he had made of his daughter. Never since I was born did I ever see such brazen-faced impudence! The rascal had the face to say at once that he had not seen the lassie for a month. As a man, as a father, as an elder of our kirk, my corruption was raised, for I aye hated lying as a poor cowardly sin, so I called out, "Dinna believe him, auld gentleman; he's telling a parcel of lees. Never saw her for a month! Just open that press-door, and ye'll see whether I am speaking truth or not!" The old man stared and looked dumfounded; and the young one, instead of running forward with his double nieves to strike me, began a-laughing, as if I had done him a good turn.

But never since I had a being did I ever witness such an uproar and noise as immediately took place. The whole house was so glad that the scoundrel had been exposed that they set up siccan a roar of laughter, and thumped away at siccan a rate with their feet that down fell the place they called the gallery, all the folk in't being hurl'd topsy-turvy among the sawdust on the floor below.

Then followed cries of "Murder," "Hold off me," "My ribs are in," "I'm killed," "I'm speechless." There was a rush to the door, the lights were knocked out, and such tearing, swearing, tumbling, and squealing was never witnessed in the memory of man since the building of Babel. I was carried off my feet, my wind was fairly gone, and a sick qualm came over me, which entirely deprived me of my senses. On opening my eyes in the dark, I found myself leaning with my broadside against the wall on the opposite side of the close, with the tail of my Sunday coat docked by the hainch buttons. So much for plays and play-actors--the first and the last I trust in grace that I shall ever see.

Next morning I had to take my breakfast in bed, a thing very uncommon to me, except on Sunday mornings whiles, when each one according to the bidding of the Fourth Commandment, has a licence to do as he likes. Having a desperate sore head, our wife, poor body, put a thimbleful of brandy into my first cup of tea which had a wonderful virtue in putting all things to rights.

In the afternoon Thomas Burlings, the ruling elder in the kirk, popped into the shop, and, in our two-handed crack, after asking me in a dry, curious way if I had come by no skaith in the business of the play, he said the thing had now spread far and wide, and was making a great noise in the world. I thought the body a wee sharp in his observe, so I pretended to take it quite lightly. Then he began to tell me a wheen stories, each one having to do with drinking.

"It's a wearyfu' thing that whisky," said Thomas. "I wish it could be banished to Botany Bay."

"It is that," said I. "Muckle and nae little sin does it breed and produce in this world."

"I'm glad," quoth Thomas, stroking down his chin in a slee way, "I'm glad the guilty should see the folly o' their ain ways; it's the first step, ye ken, till amendment. And indeed I tell't Maister Wiggie, when he sent me here, that I could almost become guid for your being mair wary of your conduct for the future time to come."

This was a thunder-clap to me, but I said briskly, "So ye're after some session business in this visit, are ye?"

"Ye've just guessed it," answered Thomas, sleeking down his front hair with his fingers in a sober way. "We had a meeting this forenoon, and it was resolved ye should stand a public rebuke in the meeting house next Sunday."

"Hang me if I do!" answered I. "Not for all the ministers and elders that were ever cleckit. I was born a free man, I live in a free country, I am the subject of a free king and constitution, and I'll be shot before I submit to such rank diabolical papistry."

"Hooly and fairly, Mansie," quoth Thomas. "They'll maybe no be sae hard as they threaten. But ye ken, my friend, I'm speaking to you as a brither; it was an unco'-like business for an elder, not only to gang till a play, which is ane of the deevil's rendevouses, but to gan there in a state of liquor, making yourself a world's wonder, and you an elder of our kirk! I put the question to yourself soberly."

His threatening I could despise; but ah, his calm, brotherly, flattering way I could not thole with. So I said till him, "Weel, weel, Thomas, I ken I have done wrong, and I am sorry for't; they'll never find me in siccan a scrape again."

Thomas Burlings, in a friendly way, shook hands with me; telling that he would go back and plead with the session in my behalf. To do him justice he was not worse than his word, for I have aye attended the kirk as usual, standing, when it came to my rotation, at the plate, and nobody, gentle or simple, ever spoke to me on the subject of the playhouse, or minted the matter of the rebuke from that day to this.

V.--Benjie a Barber

When wee Benjie came to his thirteenth year, many and long were the debates between his fond mother and me what trade we would bring him up to. His mother thought that he had just the physog of an admiral, and when the matter was put to himsell, Benjie said quite briskly he would like to be a gentleman. At which I broke through my rule never to lift my fist to the bairn, and gave him such a yerk in the cheek with the loof of my hand, as made, I am sure, his lugs ring, and sent him dozing to the door like a peerie.

We discussed, among other trades and professions, a lawyer's advocatt, a preaching minister, a doctor, a sweep, a rowley-powley man, a penny-pie-man, a man-cook, that easiest of all lives, a gentleman's gentleman; but in the end Nanse, when I suggested a barber, gave a mournful look and said in a state of Christian resignation, "Tak' your ain way, gudeman."

And so Benjie was apprenticed to be a barber, for, as I made the observe, "Commend me to a safe employment, and a profitable. They may give others the nick, and draw blood, but catch them hurting themselves. The foundations of the hair-cutting and the shaving line are as sure as that of the everlasting rocks; beards being likely to roughen, and heads to require polling as long as wood grows and water runs."

Benjie is now principal shop-man in a Wallflower Hair-Powder and Genuine Macassar Oil Warehouse, kept by three Frenchmen, called Moosies Peroukey, in the West End of London. But, though our natural enemies, he writes me that he has found them agreeable and shatty masters, full of good manners and pleasant discourse, and, except in their language, almost Christians.

I aye thought Benjie was a genius, and he is beginning to show himself his father's son, being in thoughts of taking out a patent for making a hair-oil from rancid butter. If he succeeds it will make the callant's fortune. But he must not marry Madamoselle Peroukey without my special consent, as Nance says that her having a French woman for a daughter-in-law would be the death of her.

As for myself, I have now retired from business with my guid wife Nanse to our ain cottage at Lugton, with a large garden and henhouse attached, there to spend the evening of our days. I have enjoyed a pleasant run of good health through life, reading my Bible more in hope than fear; our salvation, and not our destruction, being, I should suppose, its purpose. And I trust that the overflowing of a grateful heart will not be reckoned against me for unrighteousness.


JAMES MORIER

The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan

"Hajji Baba" stands by itself among the innumerable books written of the East by Europeans. For these inimitable concessions of a Persian rogue are intended to give a picture of Oriental life as seen by Oriental and not by Western eyes---to present the country and people of Persia from a strictly Persian standpoint. This daring attempt to look at the East from the inside, as it were, is acknowledged to be successful; all Europeans familiar with Persia testify to the truth, often very caustic truth, of James Morier's portraiture. The author of "The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan" was born about 1780, and spent most of his days as a diplomatic representative of Great Britain in the East. He first visited Persia in 1808-09, as private secretary to the mission mentioned in the closing pages of "Hajji Baba." He returned to Persia in 1811-12, and again in 1814, and wrote two books about the country. But the thoroughness and candour of his intimacy with the Persian character were not fully revealed until the publication of "Hajji Baba" in 1824. So popular was the work that Morier wrote an amusing sequel to it entitled "Hajji Baba in England." He died on March 23, 1849.

I.--The Turcomans

My father, Kerbelai Hassan, was one of the most celebrated barbers of Ispahan. I was the son of his second wife, and as I was born when my father and mother were on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Hosein, in Kerbelah, I was called Hajji, or the pilgrim, a name which has procured for me a great deal of unmerited respect, because that honoured title is seldom conferred on any but those who have made the great pilgrimage to the tomb of the blessed Prophet of Mecca.

I was taught to read and write by a mollah, or priest, who kept a school in a mosque near at hand; when not in school I attended the shop, and by the time I was sixteen it would be difficult to say whether I was most accomplished as a barber or a scholar. My father's shop, being situated near the largest caravanserai in the city, was the common resort of the foreign merchants; and one of them, Osman Aga, of Bagdad, took a great fancy to me, and so excited me by describing the different cities he had visited, that I soon felt a strong desire to travel. He was then in want of someone to keep his accounts, and as I associated the two qualifications of barber and scribe, he made me such advantageous offers that I agreed to follow him.

His purpose was to journey to Meshed with the object of purchasing the lambskins of Bokhara. Our caravan proceeded without impediment to Tehran; but the dangerous part of the journey was yet to come, as a tribe of Turcomans were known to infest the road.

We advanced by slow marches over a parched and dreary country, and our conversation chiefly turned upon the Turcomans. Everyone vaunted his own courage; my master above the rest, his teeth actually chattering with apprehension, boasted of what he would do in case we were attacked. But when we in reality perceived a body of Turcomans coming down upon us, the scene instantly changed. Some ran away; others, and among them my master, yielded to intense fear, and began to exclaim: "O Allah! O Imams! O Mohammed the Prophet, we are gone! We are dying! We are dead!" A shower of arrows, which the enemy discharged as they came in, achieved their conquest, and we soon became their prey. The Turcomans having completed their plunder, placed each of us behind a horseman, and we passed through wild tracts of mountainous country to a large plain, covered with the black tents and the flocks and herds of our enemies.

My master was set to tend camels in the hills; but when the Turcomans discovered my abilities as a barber and a surgeon, I became a general favourite, and gained the confidence of the chief of the tribe himself. Finally, he determined to permit me to accompany him on a predatory excursion into Persia--a permission which I hoped would lead to my escaping. I was the more ready to do so, in that I secretly possessed fifty ducats. These had been concealed by my master, Osman Aga, in his turban at the outset of his journey. The turban had been taken from him and carried to the women's quarters, whence I had recovered it. I had some argument with myself as to whether I ought to restore the ducats to him; but I persuaded myself that the money was now mine rather than his. "Had it not been for me," I said, "the money was lost for ever; who, therefore, has a better claim to it than myself?"

We carried off much property on the raid, but as our only prisoners were a court poet, a carpet-spreader, and a penniless cadi, we had little to hope for in the way of ransom. On our return journey we perceived a large body of men, too compact for a caravan--plainly some great personage and his escort. The Turcomans retired hastily, but I lagged behind, seeing in this eventuality a means of escape. I was soon overtaken and seized, plundered of my fifty ducats and everything else, and dragged before the chief personage of the party--a son of the Shah, on his way to become governor of Khorassan.

Kissing the ground before him, I related my story, and petitioned for the return of my fifty ducats. The rogues who had taken the money were brought before the prince, who ordered them to be bastinadoed until they produced it. After a few blows they confessed, and gave up the ducats, which were carried to the prince. He counted the money, put it under the cushion on which he was reclining, and said loudly to me, "You are dismissed."

"My money, where is it?" I exclaimed.

"Give him the shoe," said the prince to his master of the ceremonies, who struck me over the mouth with the iron-shod heel of his slipper, saying: "Go in peace, or you'll have your ears cut off."

"You might as well expect a mule to give up a mouthful of fresh grass," said an old muleteer to whom I told my misfortune, "as a prince to give up money that has once been in his hands."

Reaching Meshed in a destitute state, I practised for a time the trade of water-carrier, and then became an itinerant vendor of smoke. I was not very scrupulous about giving my tobacco pure; and when one day the Mohtesib, or inspector, came to me, disguised as an old woman, I gave him one of my worst mixtures. Instantly he summoned half a dozen stout fellows; my feet were noosed, and blow after blow was inflicted on them until they were a misshapen mass of flesh and gore. All that I possessed was taken from me, and I crawled home miserably on my hands and knees.

I felt I had entered Meshed in an unlucky hour, and determined to leave it. Dressed as a dervish I joined a caravan for Tehran.

II.--The Fate of the Lovely

I at first resolved to follow the career of a dervish, tempted thereto by the confidences of my companion, Dervish Sefer, who befriended me after my unhappy encounter with the Mohtesib.

"With one-fiftieth of your accomplishments, and a common share of effrontery," he told me, "you may command both the purses and the lives of your hearers. By impudence I have been a prophet, by impudence I have wrought miracles--by impudence, in short, I live a life of great ease."

But a chance came to me of stealing a horse, the owner of which confessed he had himself stolen it; and by selling it I hoped to add to the money I had obtained as a dervish, and thereby get into some situation where I might gain my bread honestly. Unfortunately, when I had reached Tehran, the real owner of the horse appeared. I was compelled to refund to the dealer the money I had been paid for the horse, and had some difficulty, when we went before the magistrate at the bazaar, in proving that I was not a thief. I had heard that the court poet, with whom I had formed a friendship during his captivity among the Turcomans, had escaped and returned to Tehran. To him, therefore, I repaired, and through his good offices I secured a post as assistant to Mirza Ahmak, the king's chief physician.

Although the physician was willing to have my services, he was too avaricious to pay me anything for them; and I would not have remained long with him had I not fallen in love. In the heat of summer I made any bed in the open air, in a corner of a terrace that overlooked an inner court where the women's apartments were situated. I came presently to exchanging glances with a beautiful Curdish slave. From glances we came to conversation. At length, when Zeenab--for that was her name--was alone in the women's apartments, she would invite me down from the terrace, and we would spend long hours feasting and singing together.

But our felicity was destined to be interrupted. The Shah was about to depart for his usual summer campaign, and, according to his wont, paid a round of visits to noblemen, thereby reaping for himself a harvest of presents. The physician, being reputed rich, was marked out as prey fit for the royal grasp. The news of the honour to be paid him left him half-elated at the distinction, half-trembling at the ruin that awaited his finances. The Shah came with his full suite, dined gorgeously at my master's expense, and, as is customary, visited the women's apartments. Presently came the news that my master had presented the Shah with Zeenab! She was to be trained as a dancing-girl, and was to dance before the Shah on his return from the campaign.

When Zeenab was thus removed out of my reach, I had no inducement to remain in the physician's service. I therefore sought and secured a post as nasakchi, or officer of the chief executioner. I was now a person of authority with the crowd, and used my stick so freely upon their heads and backs that I soon acquired a reputation for courage. Nor did I fail to note the advice given to me by my brother officers as to the making of money by extortion--how an officer inflicts the bastinado fiercely or gently according to the capacity of the sufferer to pay; how bribes may be obtained from villages anxious not to have troops quartered upon them, and so on. I lived in such an atmosphere of violence and cruelty--I heard of nothing but slitting noses, putting out eyes, and chopping men in two--that I am persuaded I could almost have impaled my own father.

The chief executioner was a tall and bony man, extremely ferocious. "Give me good hard fighting," he was accustomed to declare; "let me have my thrust with the lance, and my cut with the sabre, and I want no more. We all have our weaknesses--these are mine." This terrible man accompanied the Shah in his campaign, and I and the others went along with him, in the army that was to expel the Muscovite infidels from Georgia. Having heard that the Muscovites were posted on the Pembaki river, the chief executioner, with a large body of cavalry and infantry, proceeded to advance upon them.

On reaching the river, we found two Muscovite soldiers on the opposite bank. The chief put on a face of the greatest resolution. "Go, seize, strike, kill!" he exclaimed. "Bring me their heads!"

Several men dashed into the river, but the Russians, firing steadily, killed two of them, whereupon the rest retreated; nor could all the chief's oaths, entreaties, and offers of money persuade anybody to go forward.

While we were thus parleying, a shot hit the chief executioner's stirrup, which awoke his fears to such a degree that he recalled his troops, and himself rode hastily away, exclaiming, "Curses be on their beards! Whoever fought after this fashion? Killing, killing, as if we were so many hogs! They will not run away, do all you can to them. They are worse than brutes! O Allah, Allah, if there was no dying in the case, how the Persians would fight!"

On our return to the camp, a proclamation was issued announcing that an army of 50,000 infidels had been vanquished by the all-victorious armies of the Shah, that 10,000 of the dogs had given up their souls, and that the prisoners were so many that the prices of slaves had diminished a hundred per cent.

When we went back with the Shah to Tehran, a horrid event occurred which plunged me in the greatest misery. I heard that Zeenab was ill, and unable to dance before the Shah; and, knowing the royal methods of treating unsatisfactory slaves, I feared greatly for the consequences. My fears were warranted. I was ordered, with others, to wait below the tower of the royal harem at midnight and bear away a corpse. We saw a woman struggling with two men at the top of the tower. The woman was flung over. We rushed forward. At my feet, in the death-agony, lay my beloved Zeenab. I hung over her in the deepest despair; my feelings could not be concealed from the ruffians around me.

I abandoned everything, and left Tehran next day determined to become a real dervish, and spend the rest of my life in penitence and privations.

III.--Among the Holy Men

As I was preparing next night to sleep on the bare ground outside a caravanserai--for I was almost destitute--I saw a horseman ride up whom I recognised. It was one of the nasakchis who had assisted in the burial of Zeenab. I had been betrayed, then; my love for the king's slave had been revealed, and they were pursuing me.

I went into the caravanserai, sought out a friend--the dervish whom I had known at Meshed--and asked his advice. "I can expect no mercy from this man," I said, "particularly as I have not enough money to offer him, for I know his price. Where shall I go?"

The dervish replied, "You must lose not a moment in getting within the sanctuary of the tomb of Fatimeh at Kom. You can reach it before morning, and then you will be safe even from the Shah's power."

"But how shall I live when I am there?" I asked.

"I shall soon overtake you, and then, Inshallah (please God), you will not fare so ill as you imagine."

As the day broke, I could distinguish the gilt cupola of the tomb before me; and as I perceived the horseman at some distance behind, I made all possible speed until I had passed the gateway of the sanctuary. Kissing the threshold of the tomb, I said my prayers with all the fervency of one who has got safe from a tempest into port.

My friend the dervish arrived soon afterwards, and immediately urged upon me the importance of saying my prayers, keeping fasts, and wearing a long and mortified countenance. As he assured me that unless I made a pretence of deep piety I should be starved or stoned to death, I assumed forthwith the character of a rigid Mussulman. I rose at the first call, made my ablutions at the cistern in the strictest forms, and then prayed in the most conspicuous spot I could find.

By the intensity of my devotion I won the goodwill of Mirza Abdul Cossim, the first mashtehed (divine) of Persia, and by his influence I obtained a pardon from the Shah. Now that I was free from the sanctuary, I became anxious to gain some profit by my fame for piety; so I applied to Mirza Abdul Cossim, who straightway sent me to assist the mollah Nadân, one of the principal men of the law in Tehran. My true path of advancement, I believed, was now open. I was on the way to become a mollah.

Nadân was an exemplary Mussulman in all outward matters; but I was not long in discovering that he had two ruling passions--jealousy of the chief priest of Tehran, and a hunger for money. My earliest duty was to gratify his second passion by negotiating temporary marriages for handsome fees. In these transactions we prospered fairly well; but unfortunately Nadân's desire to supplant the chief priest led him to stir up the populace to attack the Christians of the city, and plunder their property. The Shah was then in a humour to protect the Christians; consequently, Nadân had his beard plucked out by the roots, was mounted on an ass with his face to its tail, and was driven out of the city with blows and execrations.

Once more homeless and almost penniless, not knowing what to do, I strolled in the dusk into a bath, and undressed. The bath was empty save for one man, whom I recognized as the chief priest. He was splashing about in a manner that struck me as remarkable for so sedate a character; then a most unusual floundering, attended with a gurgling of the throat, struck my ear. To my horror, I saw that he was drowned. Here was a predicament; it was inevitable that I should be charged with his murder.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I bore a close resemblance to the dead man. For an hour or two, at any rate, I might act as an impostor. So, in the dim light, I dressed myself in the chief priest's clothes, and repaired to his house.

I was there received by two young slaves, who paid me attentions that would at most times have delighted me; but just then they filled me with apprehension, and I was heartily glad when I got rid of the slaves and fastened the door. I then explored the chief priest's pockets, and found therein two letters. One was from the chief executioner--a notorious drunkard--begging permission to take unlimited wine for his health's sake. The other was from a priest at the mollah's village saying that he had extracted from the peasantry one hundred tomauns (£80), which would be delivered to a properly qualified messenger.

To the chief executioner I wrote cheerfully granting the permission he sought, and suggesting that the loan of a well-caparisoned horse would not be amiss. I wrote a note to the priest requesting that the money be delivered to the bearer, our confidential Hajji Baba. Next morning I rose early, and made certain alterations in the chief priest's clothes so as to avoid detection. I went to the chief executioner's house, presented the letter, and received the horse, upon which I rode hastily away to the village. Having obtained the hundred tomauns I escaped across the frontier to Bagdad.

IV.--Hajji and the Infidels

On reaching Bagdad, I sought the house of my old master, Osman Aga, long since returned from his captivity, and through his assistance, and with my hundred tomauns as capital, I was able to set up in business as a merchant in pipe-sticks, and, having made myself as like as possible to a native of Bagdad, I travelled in Osman Aga's company to Constantinople. Having a complaint to make, I went to Mirza Ferouz, Persian ambassador on a special mission to Constantinople.

"Your wit and manner are agreeable," he said to me; "you have seen the world and its business; you are a man who can make play under another's beard. Such I am in want of."

"I am your slave and your servant," I replied.

"Lately an ambassador came from Europe to Tehran," said Mirza Ferouz, "saying he was sent, with power to make a treaty, by a certain Boonapoort, calling himself Emperor of the French. He promised, that Georgia should be reconquered for us from the Russians, and that the English should be driven from India. Soon afterwards the English infidels in India sent agents to impede the reception of the Frenchman. We soon discovered that much was to be got between the rival curs of uncleanness; and the true object of my mission here is to discover all that is to be known of these French and English. In this you can help me."

This proposal I gladly accepted, and went forth to interview a scribe of the Reis Effendi with whom I had struck up a friendship. He told me that Boonapoort was indeed a rare and daring infidel, who, from a mere soldier, became the sultan of an immense nation, and gave the law to all the Europeans.

"And is there not a tribe of infidels called Ingliz?" I asked.

"Yes, truly. They live in an island, are powerful in ships, and in watches and broad-cloth are unrivalled. They have a shah, but it is a farce to call him by that title. The power lies with certain houses full of madmen, who meet half the year round for the purposes of quarrelling. Nothing can be settled in the state, be it only whether a rebellious aga is to have his head cut off and his property confiscated, or some such trifle, until these people have wrangled. Let us bless Allah and our Prophet that we are not born to eat the miseries of the poor English infidels, but can smoke our pipes in quiet on the shores of our own peaceful Bosphorus!"

I returned to my ambassador full of the information I had acquired; daily he sent me in search of fresh particulars, and before long I felt able to draw up the history of Europe that the Shah had ordered Mirza Ferouz to provide. So well pleased was the ambassador with my labours, that he announced his intention of taking me back to Persia and continuing me in Government employ. To this I readily agreed, knowing that, with the protection of men in office, I might show myself in my own country with perfect safety.

On out return to Tehran we found an English ambassador negotiating a treaty, the French having gone away unsuccessful. Owing to the knowledge I had acquired of European affairs when at Constantinople, I was much employed in these transactions with the infidels, and when I gained the confidence of the grand vizier himself, destiny almost as much as whispered that the buffetings of the world had taken their departure from me.

The negotiations reached a difficult point, and threatened to break down; neither the Persians nor the infidels would give way. I was sent by the grand vizier on a delicate mission to the English ambassador. I prevailed. I returned to the grand vizier with a sack of gold for him and the promise of a diamond ring, and the treaty was signed.

It was decided to send an ambassador to England. Mirza Berouz was appointed, and I was chosen as his first mirza, or secretary. What pleased me most of all was that I was sent to Ispahan to raise part of the money for the presents to be taken to England. Hajji Baba, the barber's son, entered his native place as Mirza Hajji Baba, the Shah's deputy, with all the parade of a man of consequence, and on a mission that gave him unbounded opportunity of enriching himself. I found myself, after all my misfortunes, at the summit of what, in my Persian eyes, was perfect human bliss.


DAVID CHRISTIE MURRAY

The Way of the World

David Christie Murray was born at West Bromwich, England, April 13, 1847, and began his journalistic career at Birmingham. In 1873 he moved to London and joined the staff of the "Daily News" and in 1878 he was correspondent of the "Times" and the "Scotsman" in the Russo-Turkish war. He now began to transfer his abundant experience of life to the pages of fiction. His first novel, "A Life's Atonement," was published in 1880, and was followed a year later by "Joseph's Coat." In "The Way of the World," published in 1884, his art as a story-teller and his keen observation of men and manners were displayed as strikingly as in any of his later works--several of which were written in collaboration with other authors. Altogether he produced over thirty volumes of short stories and novels single-handed. At the end of last century he emerged from his literary seclusion in Wales and became active in current affairs; he was one of the leading English champions of Dreyfus, and obtained the warm friendship of Emile Zola. He died on August 1, 1907.

I.--The Upstart

Your sympathies are requested for Mr. Bolsover Kimberley, a gentleman embarrassed beyond measure.

Mr. Kimberley was thirty-five years of age. He was meek, and had no features to speak of. His hair was unassuming, and his whiskers were too shy to curl. He was a clerk in a solicitor's office in the town of Gallowbay, and he seemed likely to live to the end of his days in the pursuit of labours no more profitable or pretentious.

A cat may look at a king. A solicitor's clerk may love an earl's daughter. It was an undeniable madness in Kimberley even to dream of loving the Lady Ella Santerre. He knew perfectly well what a fool he was; but he was in love for all that.

To Bolsover Kimberley, seated in a little room with a dingy red desk and cobwebbed skylight, there entered Mr. Ragshaw, senior clerk to Messrs. Begg, Batter, and Bagg, solicitors.

"My dear Mr. Kimberley," said Mr. Ragshaw, "allow me the honour of shaking hands with you. I believe that I am the first bearer of good news."

Mr. Kimberley turned pale.

"My firm, sir," pursued Mr. Ragshaw, "represented the trustees of the late owner of the Gallowbay Estate, who died three months ago at the age of twenty, leaving no known relatives. We instituted a search, which resulted in the discovery of an indisputable title to the estate. Permit me to congratulate you, sir--the estate is yours."

Bolsover Kimberley gasped, and his voice was harsh.

"How much?"

"The estate, sir, is now approximately valued at forty-seven thousand per annum."

Kimberley lurched forward, and fell over in a dead faint. Mr. Ragshaw's attentions restored him to his senses, and he drank a little water, and sobbed hysterically.

When he had recovered a little, he arose weakly from the one office chair, took off his office coat, rolled it up neatly, and put it in his desk. Then he put on his walking coat and his hat and went out.

"Don't you think, Mr. Kimberley," asked Mr. Ragshaw, with profound respect, "that a little something----"

They were outside the Windgall Arms, and Kimberley understood.

"Why, yes, sir," he said; "but I never keep it in the 'ouse, and having had to pay a tailor's bill this week, I don't happen----"

"My dear sir, allow me!" said Ragshaw, with genuine emotion.

The champagne, the dinner that followed, the interviews with pressmen, the excitement and obsequiousness of everybody, conveyed to Kimberley's mind, in a dizzy sort of a way, that he was somebody in the world, and ought to be proud of it. But his long life of servitude, his shyness and want of nerve, all weighed heavily upon him, and he was far from being happy.

Mr. Begg, senior partner of Messrs. Begg, Batter, and Bagg, was sitting in his office a day or two later when a clerk ushered in the Earl of Windgall.

"What's this news about Gallowbay, Begg? Is it true?" asked the earl.

"It is certainly true," answered Begg.

"What sort of fellow is this Kimberley?"

"Well, he seems to be a shy little man, gauche, and--and--underbred, even for his late position."

"That's a pity. I should like to see him," added the grey little nobleman. "I suppose you will act for him as you did for poor young Edward?"

Poor young Edward was the deceased minor whose early death had wrecked the finest chances the Windgall family craft had ever carried.

"I suppose so," said Begg.

"I presume," said the earl, "that even if he wanted to call in his money you could arrange elsewhere?"

"With regard to the first mortgage?" asked Mr. Begg. "Certainly."

"And what about the new arrangement?" asked the earl nervously.

"Impossible, I regret to say."

"Very well," returned the earl, with a sigh. "I suppose the timber must go. If poor Edward had lived, it would all have been very different."

Next day, when Kimberley, preposterously overdressed and thoroughly ashamed of himself, was trying to talk business in Mr. Begg's office, the Earl of Windgall was announced. There was nothing in the world that could have terrified him more. And when the father of his ideal love, Lady Ella Santerre, shook him by the hand, he could only gasp and gurgle in response. But the earl's manner gradually reassured him, and in a little time he began to plume himself in harmless trembling vanity upon sitting in the same room with a nobleman and a great lawyer.

"I am pleased to have met Mr. Kimberley," said the earl, in going; "and I trust we shall see more of each other."

Mr. Kimberley flushed, and bowed in a violent flutter.

As the earl was driven homeward he could not help feeling that he was engaged in a shameful enterprise. People would talk if he invited this gilded little snob to Shouldershott Castle, and would know very well why he was asked there. Let them talk.

"A million and a quarter!" said the poor peer. "And if I don't catch him, somebody else will."

Meanwhile, Captain Jack Clare, an extremely popular young officer of dragoons, was in the depths of despair. He was the younger brother of Lord Montacute, whose family was poor; he loved Lady Ella Santerre, whose family was still poorer. The heads of the families had forbidden the match for financial reasons. He had stolen an interview with Ella, and had found that she bowed to the decision of the seniors.

"It is all quite hopeless and impossible," she had said. "Good-bye, Jack!"

As he rode dispiritedly away, he could not see, for the intervening trees, that she was kneeling in the fern and crying.

II.--A Peer in Difficulties

The Lady Ella slipped an arm about her father's neck.

"You are in trouble, dear," she said. "Can I help you?"

"No," said the poor nobleman. "There's no help for it, Beggs says, and they'll have to cut down the timber in the park. Poverty, my dear, poverty."

This was a blow, and a heavy one.

"That isn't the worst of it," said Windgall, after a pause. "I am in the hands of the Jews. A wretched Hebrew fellow says he will have a thousand pounds by this day week. He might as well ask me for a million."

"The diamonds are worth more than a thousand pounds, dear," she said gently.

"No, no, my darling," he answered. "I have robbed you of everything already."

"You must take them, papa," she said in tender decision. She left him, only to return in a few minutes' time with a dark shagreen case in her hands. The earl paced about the room for a minute or two.

"I take these," he said at last, "in bitter unwillingness, because I can't help taking them, my dear. I had best get the business over, Ella. I will go up to town this afternoon."

During the whole of his journey the overdressed figure of Kimberley seemed to stand before the embarrassed man, and a voice seemed to issue from it. "Catch me, flatter me, wheedle me, marry me to one of your daughters, and see the end of your woes." He despised himself heartily for permitting the idea to enter his mind, but he could not struggle against its intrusion.

Next day Kimberley entered his jewellers to consult him concerning a scarf-pin. It was a bull-dog's head, carved in lava, and not quite life-size. The eyes were rubies, the collar was of gold and brilliants. This egregious jewel was of his own designing, and was of a piece with his general notions of how a millionaire should attire himself.

As he passed through the door somebody leapt from a cab carrying something in his hands, and jostled against him. He turned round apologetically, and confronted the Earl of Windgall.

His lordship looked like a man detected in a theft, and shook hands with a confused tremor.

"Can you spare me half an hour?" he asked. Then he handed the package to the shop-man. "Take care of that," he stammered. "It is valuable. I will call to-morrow."

That afternoon Kimberley accepted an invitation to stay at Shouldershott Castle.

He was prodigiously flattered and fluttered. When he thought of being beneath the same roof with Lady Ella, he flushed and trembled as he had never done before.

"I shall see her," he muttered wildly to himself. "I shall see her in the 'alls, the 'alls of dazzling light." It is something of a wonder that he did not lose his mental balance altogether.

When he was daily in the presence of Ella, the little man's heart ached with sweet anguish and helpless worship and desire. Yet before her he was tongue-tied, incapable of uttering a consecutive sentence. With her sister, Lady Alice Santerre, who had been the intended bride of the deceased heir to the Gallowbay Estate, Kimberley felt on a different footing. He had hardly ever been so much at ease with anybody in his life as this young lady made him.

Kimberley's own anxious efforts at self-improvement, Lady Alice's good-natured advice, and the bold policy of the earl, who persuaded him to undergo the terrors of an election, and get returned to Parliament as member for Gallowbay, gradually made the millionaire a more presentable person. He learned how to avoid dropping his h's; but two vices were incurable--the shyness and his appalling taste in dress.

The world, meanwhile, had guessed at the earl's motives in extending his friendship to Kimberley, and the little man's name was knowingly linked with that of Lady Alice. Kimberley came to hear what the world was saying through meeting Mr. Blandy, his former employer. Mr. Blandy invited him to his house, honoured the occasion with champagne, drank freely of it, and became confidential.

"The noble earl'll nail you f' one o' the girls, Kimbly. I'm a lill bit 'fected when I think, seeing my dear Kimbly 'nited marriage noble family. That's what makes me talk like this. I b'leeve you're gone coon already, ole man. 'Gratulate you, allmy heart."

Kimberley went away in a degradation of soul. Was it possible that this peer of the realm could be so coarsely and openly bent on securing him and his money that the whole world should know of it? What had Kimberley, he asked himself bitterly, to recommend him but his money? But then, triumphing over his miseries, came the fancy--he could have his dream of love; he had cried for the moon, and now he could have it.

III.--Ella's Martyrdom

The earl's liabilities amounted roughly to ninety thousand pounds. The principal mortgagee was insisting upon payment or foreclosure, and there was a general feeling abroad that the estate was involved beyond its capacity to pay.

Kimberley learned these circumstances in an interview with Mr. Begg. A few days afterwards he drove up desperately to the castle and asked for a private interview with his lordship.

"My lord," he said, when they were alone, "I want to ask your lordship's acceptance of these papers."

The earl understood them at a glance. Kimberley had bought his debts.

"I ask you to take them now," Kimberley went on, "before I say another word."

He rose, walked to the fire, and dropped the papers on the smouldering coal. The earl seized the papers and rescued them, soiled but unsinged.

"Kimberley," he said, "I dare not lay myself under such an obligation to any man alive."

"They are yours, my lord," replied Kimberley. "I shall never touch them again. You're under no obligation to me, my lord. But"--he blushed and stammered--"I want to ask you for the hand of Lady Ella."

It took Windgall a full minute to pull himself together. He had schooled himself to the trembling hope that Alice might be chosen; but Ella! "Forgive me," he began, "I was unprepared--I was not altogether unprepared--" Then he lapsed into silence.

"I will submit your proposal to my daughter," he said after a time, "but--I am powerless--altogether powerless."

Kimberley went home in a tremor of nervous anxiety, and Windgall sent for his daughter.

"I want you to understand, my dear," he began nervously, "that you are free to act just as you will. Mr. Kimberley gave these into my hands this morning"--showing her the papers. "He gave them freely, as a gift. If I could accept them I should be free from the nightmare of debt. But in the same breath with that unconditional gift, he asked me for your hand in marriage."

She kept silence.

"You know our miserable necessities, Ella," he pleaded. "But I can't force your inclinations in a matter like this, my dear."

She ran to him, and threw her arms about his neck.

"If it depends upon me to end your troubles, my dear, they are ended already."

"Shall I," he asked lamely, "make Kimberley happy?"

She answered simply, "Yes."

Kimberley came to luncheon next day. Lady Ella gave him a hand like marble, and he kissed it. Her father, anxious to preserve a seeming satisfaction, put his arm about her waist and kissed her. Her cheek was like ice and her whole figure trembled.

It was a dull, dreadful meal to all three who sat at table, and the millionaire's heart was the heaviest and the sorest.

If Ella suffered, she had the consolation, so dear to the nobler sort of women, that she was a sacrifice. If Windgall suffered, he had a solid compensation locked in the drawers of his library table. But Kimberley had no consolation, and knew only that he was expected somehow to be happy, and was, in spite of his prosperous wooing, more miserable than he had ever been before.

As time went on, Kimberley grew no happier. The gulf between Lady Ella and himself had not been bridged by their betrothal. She was always courteous to him, but always cold. She had accepted him, and yet----

The first inkling that something was wrong came through the altered demeanour of Alice. The girl was furious at her father for sacrificing her sister, and furious with her sister for consenting to the sacrifice; her former half-humourous comradeship for Kimberley was changed into chilly disdain.

The suspicions that were thus suggested to him were confirmed by a meeting with Ella outside the castle lodge. As he approached, he caught sight of her face as she was nodding a smiling good-bye to the old gate-keeper. She saw Kimberley, and the smile fled from her face with so swift a change, and left for a mere second something so like terror there, that he could scarcely fail to notice it.

He returned home possessed with remorse and shame. There was no doubt what the end should be. Ella must be released.

"She never cared about the money," he said, pacing the room with tear-blotted face. "She wanted to save her father, and she was ready to break her heart to do it. But she shall never break her heart through me. No, no. What a fool I was to think she could ever be happy with a man like me!"

IV.--The Renunciation

Jack Clare, with a heart burning with rage at what he deemed Ella's treachery, had resigned his commission and bought an estate in New Zealand with a sum of money that had been left him. He became possessed of a desire to see Ella once more. He wrote to her that he was about to start for New Zealand, and wished to say good-bye to her. This letter he brought to the castle gate-keeper, and caused it to be taken to Ella. Then he paced up and down the avenue, impatiently awaiting her.

Destiny ordained that Kimberley should come that way just then on his fateful errand of releasing Ella from her engagement. As he entered the park his resolve failed him; he wandered unhappily to and fro, until he became aware of a strange gentleman prowling about the avenue in a mighty hurry. The stranger caught sight of him.

"Pardon me," said Kimberley nervously, "have you lost your way?"

Jack eyed him from head to foot--the vulgar glories of his attire, the extraordinary bull-dog pin. This, he guessed, was Kimberley--the man to whom Ella had sold herself. He smiled bitterly, and turned on his heel.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Kimberley ruffled. "I did myself the honour to address you."

"You pestilential little cad!" cried Jack, wheeling round and letting out his wrath; "go home!"

"Cad, sir!" answered Kimberley in indignation.

"I call any man a cad, sir," answered Jack, "who goes about dressed like that."

Jack walked on and Kimberley stood rooted to the ground. He was crushed and overwhelmed beneath the sense of his own humiliation. His fineries had been the one thing on which he had relied to make himself look like a gentleman, and he knew now what they made him look like.

He retreated to a little arboured seat, and a few minutes later would have given anything to escape from it. For he was a witness of the parting of Jack and Ella. He saw the tears streaming from her eyes; he heard Jack tell her that he had never loved another woman and never would. As they clasped each other's hands for the final good-bye, Jack seized her passionately and kissed her. Her head fell back from his shoulder; she had fainted. He laid her down upon the grass, and looked upon her in an agony of fear and self-reproach. Then his mood changed.

"Curse the man that broke her heart and mine!" he cried wildly. "Darling, look up!"

Presently she recovered, and he begged her forgiveness.

"I am better," said Ella feebly. "Leave me now. Good-bye, dear!"

Soon afterwards a little man, with a tear-stained face and enormous bull-dog scarf-pin, arrived at the castle, and asked in a breaking voice to see his lordship.

"Did you know, my lord," he began, "that Lady Ella was breaking her heart because she was to marry me?"

"Really--"

"You didn't know it? I should be glad to think you didn't. Perhaps in spite of all I said, you thought I had bought those papers to have you in my grasp. I am not a gentleman, my lord, but I hope I am above that. I was a fool to think I could ever make Lady Ella happy, and I resign my claim upon her hand, my lord, and I must leave your roof for ever."

"Stop, sir!" cried the earl, in a rage of embarrassment and despair. He seemed face to face with the wreck of all his hopes. "Do you know that this is an insult to my daughter and to me?"

"My lord," returned Kimberley, "I am very sorry, but it was a shame to ask her to marry a man like me. I won't help to break her heart--I can't--not if I break my own a million times over."

The earl beat his foot upon the carpet. It was true enough. It had been a shame; and yet the man was a gentleman when all was said and done.

"By heaven, Kimberley," cried his lordship, in spite of himself, "you are a noble-hearted fellow!"

"Excuse me the trouble I have caused you. Good-bye, my lord." Kimberley bowed and left.

That night Kimberley received a package containing the papers and a note from the earl congratulating him on the magnanimous manner in which he had acted, but declaring that he felt compelled to return the documents. This added another drop to the bitterness of Kimberley's cup. He could well nigh have died for shame; he could well nigh have died for pity of himself.

V.--Kimberley's Wedding Gift

"My lord," said Kimberley, as he met the earl of Windgall outside the London hotel where the earl was staying, "can you give me a very few minutes?"

"Certainly," said his lordship. "You are not well?" he added, with solicitude.

He had brought a dispatch-box with him; he put it on the table and slowly unlocked it. The earl's heart beat violently as he looked once more upon the precious documents.

"You sent these back to me," said Kimberley. "Will you take 'em now? My lord, my lord, marry lady Ella to the man she loves, and take these for a wedding gift. I helped to torture her. I have a right to help to make her happy."

Windgall was as wildly agitated as Kimberley himself. He recoiled and waved his hands.

"I--I do not think, Kimberley," he said with quivering lip, "that I have ever known so noble an act before."

"If I die," said Kimberley in a loud voice which quavered suddenly down into a murmur, "everything is to go to Lady Ella, with my dearest love and worship."

Windgall caught only the first three words; he tugged at the bell-pull, and sent for a doctor.

An hour afterwards Kimberley was in bed with brain fever.

On the following morning Jack Clare stood in the rain on the deck of the steamship Patagonia, a travelling-cap pulled moodily over his eyes, watching the bestowal of his belongings in the hold.

"Honourable Captain Clare aboard?" cried a voice from the quay. A messenger came and handed Jack a letter. He saw with amazement that it bore the Windgall crest.

It was a hastily written note from the earl stating that circumstances had occurred which enabled him to withdraw his opposition to the union of Clare with Lady Ella.


Kimberley recovered. He can speak now to Clare's wife without embarrassment and without pain. Has he forgotten his love? No. He will never love again, never marry; but he is by no means unhappy or solitary or burdened with regrets. And he knows that those for whom he made his great sacrifice have given him their profoundest gratitude and sincerest friendship.

The ways of the world are various and many. And along them travel all sorts of people. Very dark grey, indeed--almost black some of them--middling grey, light grey, and here and there a figure that shines with a pure white radiance.


FRANK NORRIS

The Pit

Frank Norris, one of the most brilliant of contemporary American novelists, was born at Chicago in 1870. He was educated at the University of California and at Harvard, and also spent three years as an art student in Paris. Afterwards he adopted journalism, and served in the capacity of war correspondent for various newspapers. His first novel, "McTeague," a virile, realistic romance, brought him instant recognition. This was followed in 1900 by "Moran of the Lady Betty," a romantic narrative of adventures on the Californian Coast. In 1901 Norris conceived the idea of trilogy of novels dealing with wheat, the object being an arraignment of wheat operations at Chicago, and the consequent gambling with the world's food-supply. The first of the series, "The Octopus," deals with wheat raising and transportation; the second, "The Pit," a vigorous, human story covers wheat-exchange gambling, and appeared in 1903; the third, which was to have been entitled "The Wolf," was cut short by the author's death, which occurred on October 25, 1902.

I.--Curtis Jadwin and His Wife

Laura Dearborn's native town was Barrington, in Massachusetts. Both she and her younger sister Page had lived there until the death of their father. The mother had died long before, and of all their relations, Aunt Wess, who lived at Chicago, alone remained. It was at the entreaties of Aunt Wess and of their dearest friends, the Cresslers, that the two girls decided to live with their aunt in Chicago. Both Laura and Page had inherited money, and when they faced the world they had the assurance that, at least, they were independent.

Chicago, the great grey city, interested Laura at every instant and under every condition. The life was tremendous. All around, on every side, in every direction, the vast machinery of commonwealth clashed and thundered from dawn to dark, and from dark to dawn. For thousands of miles beyond its confines the influence of the city was felt. At times Laura felt a little frightened at the city's life, and of the men for whom all the crash of conflict and commerce had no terrors. Those who could subdue this life to their purposes, must they not be themselves terrible, pitiless, brutal? What could women ever know of the life of men, after all?

Her friend, Mr. Cressler, who had been almost a second father to her, was in business, and had once lost a fortune by a gamble in wheat; and there was Mr. Curtis Jadwin, whom she had met at the opera with the Cresslers.

Mrs. Cressler had told Laura, very soon after her arrival in Chicago, that Mr. Jadwin wanted to marry her.

"I've known Curtis Jadwin now for fifteen years--nobody better," said Mrs. Cressler. "He's as old a family friend as Charlie and I have. And I tell you the man is in love with you. He told me you had more sense and intelligence than any girl he had ever known, and that he never remembered to have seen a more beautiful woman. What do you think of him, Laura--of Mr. Jadwin?"

"I don't know," Laura answered. "I thought he was a strong man--mentally, and that he would be kindly and generous. But I saw very little of him."

"Jadwin struck you as being a kindly man, a generous man? He's just that, and charitable. You know, he has a Sunday-school over on the West side--a Sunday-school for mission children--and I do believe he's more interested in that than in his business. He wants to make it the biggest Sunday-school in Chicago. It's an ambition of his. Laura," she exclaimed, "he's a fine man. No one knows Curtis Jadwin better than Charlie and I, and we just love him. The kindliest, biggest-hearted fellow. Oh, well, you'll know him for yourself, and then you'll see!"

"I don't know anything about him," Laura had remarked in answer to this. "I never heard of him before the theatre party."

But Mrs. Cressler promptly supplied information. Curtis Jadwin was a man about thirty-five, who had begun life without a sou in his pockets. His people were farmers in Michigan, hardy, honest fellows, who ploughed and sowed for a living. Curtis had only a rudimentary schooling, and had gone into business with a livery-stable keeper. Someone in Chicago owed him money, and, in default of payment, had offered him a couple of lots of ground on Wabash Avenue. That was how he happened to come to Chicago. Naturally enough, as the city grew the Wabash Avenue property increased in value. He sold the lots, and bought other real estate; sold that, and bought somewhere else, and so on till he owned some of the best business sites in the city, and was now one of the largest real-estate owners in Chicago. But he no longer bought and sold. His property had grown so large, that just the management of it alone took up most of his time. As a rule, he deplored speculation. He had no fixed principles about it, and occasionally he hazarded small operations.

It was after this that Laura's first aversion to the great grey city fast disappeared, and she saw it in a kindlier aspect.

Soon it was impossible to deny that Curtis Jadwin--"J" as he was called in business--was in love with her. The business man, accustomed to deal with situations with unswerving directness, was not in the least afraid of Laura. He was aggressive, assertive, and his addresses had all the persistence and vehemence of veritable attack. He contrived to meet her everywhere, and even had the Cresslers and Laura over to his mission Sunday-school for the Easter festival, an occasion of which Laura carried away a confused recollection of enormous canvas mottoes, sheaves of lilies, imitation bells of tinfoil, revival hymns vociferated from seven hundred distended mouths, and through it all the smell of poverty, the odour of uncleanliness, that mingled strangely with the perfume of the lilies.

Somehow Laura found that with Jadwin all the serious, all the sincere, earnest side of her character was apt to come to the front.

Yet for a long time Laura could not make up her mind that she loved him, but "J" refused to be dismissed.

"I told him I did not love him. Only last week I told him so," Laura explained to Mrs. Cressler.

"Well, then, why did you promise to marry him?"

"My goodness! You don't realise what it's been. Do you suppose you can say 'no' to that man?"

"Of course not--of course not!" declared Mrs. Cressler joyfully. "That's 'J' all over. I might have known he'd have you if he set out to do it."

They were married on the last day of June of that summer in the Episcopalian church. Immediately after the wedding the couple took the train for Geneva Lake, where Jadwin had built a house for his bride.

II.--A Corner in Wheat

The months passed. Soon three years had gone by since the ceremony in St. James's Church, and all that time the price of wheat had been steadily going down. Heavy crops the world over had helped the decline.

Jadwin had been drawn into the troubled waters of the Pit, and was by now "blooded to the game." It was in April that he decided that better times and higher prices were coming for wheat, and announced his intentions to Sam Gretry, his broker.

"Sam," he said, "the time is come for a great big chance. We've been hammering wheat down and down and down till we've got it below the cost of production, and now she won't go any further with all the hammering in the world. The other fellows, the rest of the bear crowd, don't seem to see it; but I see it. Before fall we're going to have higher prices. Wheat is going up, and when it does I mean to be right there. I'm going to buy. I'm going to buy September wheat, and I'm going to buy it to-morrow--500,000 bushels of it; and if the market goes as I think it will later on, I'm going to buy more. I'm going to boost this market right through till the last bell rings, and from now on Curtis Jadwin spells b-u-double l--bull."

"They'll slaughter you," said Gretry; "slaughter you in cold blood. You're just one man against a gang--a gang of cut-throats. Those bears have got millions and millions back of them. 'J,' you are either Napoleonic, or--or a colossal idiot!"

All through the three years that had passed Jadwin had grown continually richer. His real estate appreciated in value; rents went up. Every time he speculated in wheat it was upon a larger scale, and every time he won. Hitherto he had been a bear; now, after the talk with Gretry, he had secretly "turned bull" with the suddenness of a strategist.

A marvellous golden luck followed Jadwin all that summer. The crops were poor, the yield moderate.

Jadwin sold out in September, having made a fortune, and then, in a single vast clutch, bought 3,000,000 bushels of the December option.

Never before had he ventured so deeply into the Pit.

One morning in November, at breakfast, Laura said to her husband, "Curtis, dear, when is it all going to end--your speculating? You never used to be this way. It seems as though, nowadays, I never had you to myself. Even when you are not going over papers and reports, or talking by the hour to Mr. Gretry in the library, your mind seems to be away from me. I--I am lonesome, dearest, sometimes. And, Curtis, what is the use? We're so rich now we can't spend our money."

"Oh, it's not the money!" he answered. "It's the fun of the thing--the excitement."

That very week Jadwin made 500,000 dollars.

"I don't own a grain of wheat now," he assured his wife. "I've got to be out of it."

But try as he would, the echoes of the rumbling of the Pit reached Jadwin at every hour of the day and night. He stayed at home over Christmas. Inactive, he sat there idle, while the clamour of the Pit swelled daily louder, and the price of wheat went up.

Jadwin chafed and fretted at his inaction and his impatience harried him like a gadfly. Would no one step into the place of high command.

Very soon the papers began to speak of an unknown "bull" clique who were rapidly coming into control of the market, and it was no longer a secret to Laura that her husband had gone back to the market, and that, too, with such an impetuosity that his rush had carried him to the very heart of the turmoil.

He was now deeply involved; his influence began to be felt. Not an important move on the part of the "unknown bull," the nameless, mysterious stranger, that was not noted and discussed.

It was very late in the afternoon of a lugubrious March day when Jadwin and Gretry, in the broker's private room, sat studying the latest Government reports as to the supply of wheat, and Jadwin observed, "Why, Sam, there's less than 100,000,000 bushels in the farmers' hands. That's awfully small."

"It ain't, as you might say, colossal," admitted Gretry.

"Sam," said Jadwin again, "the shipments have been about 5,000,000 a week; 20,000,000 a month, and it's four months before a new crop. Europe will take 80,000,000 out of the country. I own 10,000,000 now. Why, there ain't going to be any wheat left in Chicago by May! If I get in now, and buy a long line of cash wheat, where are all these fellows going to get it to deliver to me? Say, where are they going to get it? Come on, now, tell me, where are they going to get it?"

Gretry laid down his pencil, and stared at Jadwin.

"'J,'" he faltered, "'J,' I'm blest if I know."

And then, all in the same moment, the two men were on their feet.

Jadwin sprang forward, gripping the broker by the shoulder.

"Sam," he shouted, "do you know----Great God! Do you know what this means? Sam, we can corner the market!"

III.--The Corner Breaks

The high prices meant a great increase of wheat acreage. In June the preliminary returns showed 4,000,000 more acres under wheat in the two states of Dakota alone, and in spite of all Gretry's remonstrances, Jadwin still held on, determined to keep up prices to July.

But now it had become vitally necessary for Jadwin to sell out his holdings. His "long line" was a fearful expense; insurance and storage charges were eating rapidly into the profits. He must get rid of the load he was carrying little by little.

A month ago, and the foreign demand was a thing almost insensate. There was no question as to the price. It was, "Give us the wheat, at whatever figure, at whatever expense."

At home in Chicago Jadwin was completely master of the market. His wealth increased with such rapidity that at no time was he able even to approximate the gains that accrued to him because of his corner. It was more than twenty million, and less than fifty million. That was all he knew.

It was then that he told Gretry he was going to buy in the July crops.

"' J,' listen to me," said Gretry. "Wheat is worth a dollar and a half to-day, and not one cent more. If you run it up to two dollars--"

"It will go there of itself, I tell you."

"If you run it up to two dollars it will be that top-heavy that the littlest kick in the world will knock it over. Be satisfied now with what you've, got. Suppose the price does break a little, you'd still make your pile. But swing this deal over into July, and it's ruin. The farmers all over the country are planting wheat as they've never planted it before. Great Scott, 'J,' you're fighting against the earth itself."

"Well, we'll fight it then."

"Here's another point," went on Gretry. "You ought to be in bed this very minute. You haven't got any nerves left at all. You acknowledge you don't sleep. You ought to see a doctor."

"Fiddlesticks!" exclaimed Jadwin. "I'm all right. Haven't time to see a doctor."

So the month of May drew to its close, and as Jadwin beheld more and more the broken speculators, with their abject humility, a vast contempt for human nature grew within him. The business hardened his heart, and he took his profits as if by right of birth.

His wife he saw but seldom. Occasionally they breakfasted together; more often they met at dinner. But that was all.

And now by June 11 the position was critical.

"The price broke to a dollar and twenty yesterday," said Gretry. "Just think, we were at a dollar and a half a little while ago."

"And we'll be at two dollars in another ten days, I tell you."

"Do you know how we stand, 'J'?" said the broker gravely. "Do you know how we stand financially? It's taken pretty nearly every cent of our ready money to support this July market. Oh, we can figure out our paper profits into the millions. We've got thirty, forty, fifty million bushels of wheat that's worth over a dollar a bushel; but if we can't sell it we're none the better off--and that wheat is costing us six thousand dollars a day. Where's the money going to come from, old man? You don't seem to realise that we are in a precarious condition. The moment we can't give our boys buying orders, the moment we admit that we can't buy all the wheat that's offered, there's the moment we bust."

"Well, we'll buy it," cried Jadwin. "I'll show those brutes. I'll mortgage all my real estate, and I'll run up wheat so high before the next two days that the Bank of England can't pull it down; then I'll sell our long line, and with the profits of that I'll run it up again. Two dollars! Why, it will be two-fifty before you know how it happened."

That day Jadwin placed as heavy a mortgage as the place would stand upon every piece of real estate that he owned. He floated a number of promissory notes, and taxed his credit to its farthest stretch. But sure as he was of winning, Jadwin could, not bring himself to involve his wife's money in the hazard, though his entire personal fortune swung in the balance.

Jadwin knew the danger. The new harvest was coming in--the new harvest of wheat--huge beyond all possibility of control; so vast that no money could buy it. And from Liverpool and Paris cables had come in to Gretry declining to buy wheat, though he had offered it cheaper than he had ever done before.


On the morning of June 13, Gretry gave his orders to young Landry Court and his other agents in the Pit, to do their best to keep the market up. "You can buy each of you up to half a million bushels apiece. If that don't keep the price up--well, I'll let you know what to do. Look here, keep your heads cool. I guess to-day will decide things."

In the Pit roar succeeded roar. It seemed that a support long thought to be secure was giving way. Not a man knew what he or his neighbour was doing. The bids leaped to and fro, and the price of July wheat could not so much as be approximated.

Landry caught one of the Gretry traders by the arm.

"What shall we do?" he shouted. "I've bought up to my limit. No more orders have come in. What's to be done?"

"I don't know," the other shouted back--"I don't know! Looks like a smash; something's gone wrong."

In Gretry's office Jadwin stood hatless and pale. Around him were one of the heads of a great banking house and a couple of other men, confidential agents, who had helped to manipulate the great corner.

"It's the end of the game," Gretry exclaimed, "you've got no more money! Not another order goes up to that floor."

"It's a lie!" Jadwin cried, "keep on buying, I tell you! Take all they'll offer. I tell you we'll touch the two dollar mark before noon."

"It's useless, Mr. Jadwin," said the banker quietly, "You were practically beaten two days ago."

But Jadwin was beyond all appeal. He threw off Gretry's hand.

"Get out of my way!" he shouted. "Do you hear? I'll play my hand alone from now on."

"'J,' old man--why, see here!" Gretry implored, still holding him by the arm. "Here, where are you going?"

Jadwin's voice rang like a trumpet-call:

"Into the Pit! If you won't execute my orders I'll act myself. I'm going into the Pit, I tell you!"

"'J,' you're mad, old fellow! You're ruined--don't you understand?--you're ruined!"

"Then God curse you, Sam Gretry, for the man who failed me in a crisis!" And, as he spoke, Curtis Jadwin struck the broker full in the face.

Gretry staggered back from the blow. His pale face flashed to crimson for an instant, his fists clenched; then his hands fell to his sides.

"No," he said; "let him go--let him go. The man is merely mad!"

Jadwin thrust the men who tried to hold him to one side, and rushed from the room.

"It's the end," Gretry said simply. He wrote a couple of lines, and handed the note to the senior clerk. "Take that to the secretary of the board at once."

Straight into the turmoil and confusion of the Pit, into the scene of so many of his victories, came the "Great Bull." The news went flashing and flying from lip to lip. The wheat Pit, torn and tossed and rent asunder, stood dismayed, so great had been his power. What was about to happen? Jadwin himself, the great man, in the Pit! Had his enemies been too premature in their hope of his defeat? For a second they hesitated, then moved by a common impulse, feeling the push of the wonderful new harvest behind them, gathered themselves together for the final assault, and again offered the wheat for sale--offered it by thousands upon thousands of bushels.

Blind and insensate, Jadwin strove against the torrent of the wheat. Under the stress and violence of the hour, something snapped in his brain; but he stood erect there in the middle of the Pit, iron to the end, proclaiming over the din of his enemies, like a bugle sounding to the charge of a forlorn hope.

"Give a dollar for July--give a dollar for July!"

Then little by little the tumult of the Pit subsided. There were sudden lapses in the shouting, and again the clamour would break out.

All at once the Pit, the entire floor of the Board of Trade, was struck dumb. In the midst of the profound silence the secretary announced. "All trades with Gretry & Co. must be closed at once!"

The words were greeted with a wild yell of exultation. Beaten--beaten at last, the Great Bull! Smashed! The great corner smashed! Jadwin busted! Cheer followed cheer, hats went into the air. Men danced and leaped in a frenzy of delight.

Young Landry Court, who had stood by Jadwin in the Pit, led his defeated captain out. Jadwin was in a daze--he saw nothing, heard nothing, but submitted to Landry's guidance.

From the Pit came the sound of dying cheers.

"They can cheer now all they want. They didn't do it," said a man at the door. "It was the wheat itself that beat him; no combination of men could have done it."

IV.--A Fresh Start

The evening had closed in wet and misty, and when Laura Jadwin came down to the dismantled library a heavy rain was falling.

"There, dear," Laura said, "now sit down on the packing-box there. You had better put your hat on. It is full of draughts now that the furniture and curtains are out. You've had a pretty bad siege of it, you know, and this is only the first week you've been up."

"I've had too good a nurse," he answered, stroking her hand, "not to be as fit as a fiddle by now. You must be tired yourself, Laura. Why, for whole days there--and nights, too, they tell me--you never left the room."

Laura shook her head, and said:

"I wonder what the West will be like. Do you know I think I am going to like it, Curtis?"

"It will be starting in all over again, old girl. Pretty hard at first, I'm afraid."

"Hard--now?" She took his hand and laid it to her cheek.

"By all the rules you ought to hate me," he began. "What have I done for you but hurt you, and at last bring you to----"

But she shut her gloved-hand over his mouth.

"The world is all before us where to choose, now, isn't it?" she answered. "And this big house and all the life we have led in it was just an incident in our lives--an incident that is closed."

"We're starting all over again, honey.... Well, there's the carriage, I guess."

They rose, gathering up their valises.

"Ho!" said Jadwin. "No servants now, Laura, to carry our things down for us and open the door; and it's a hack, old girl, instead of the victoria."

"What if it is?" she cried. "What do servants, money, and all amount to now?"

As Jadwin laid his hand upon the knob of the front door, he all at once put down his valise and put his arm about his wife. She caught him about the neck, and looked deep into his eyes a long moment, and then, without speaking, they kissed each other.


GEORGES OHNET

The Ironmaster

Georges Ohnet, one of the most prolific and popular of French novelists and playwrights, was born in Paris on April 3, 1848. His father was an architect, and, after a period devoted to the study of law, Georges Ohnet adopted a journalistic career. He first came into prominence as the part-author of the drama "Regina Sarpi," in 1875. "The Ironmaster, or Love and Pride," was originally conceived as a play, and as such was submitted in vain to the theatrical managers of Paris. It was entitled "Marrying for Money" ("Les Mariages d'Argent") and on its rejection he laid it aside and directed his attention to the novel, "Serge Panine." This was immediately successful, and was crowned with honour by the French Academy. Its author adapted it as a play, and then, in 1883, did the opposite with "Les Manages d'Argent," calling it "Le Maitre de Forges." As a novel, "The Ironmaster," with its dramatic plot and strong, moving story, attracted universal attention, and has been translated into several European languages.

I.--The Faithless Lover

The Château de Beaulieu, in the Louis XIII. style, is built of white stone with red brick dressings. A broad terrace more than five hundred yards long, with a balustrade in red granite, and decked with parterres of flowers, becomes a delightful walk in autumn. M. Derblay's ironworks may have somewhat spoilt the beauty of the landscape, but Beaulieu remains a highly covetable estate.

Madame de Beaulieu sat in the drawing-room knitting woollen hoods for the children in the village, while her daughter Claire contemplated, without seeing it, the admirable horizon before her. At last, turning her beautiful, sad face to her mother, she asked, "How long is it since we have had any letters from St. Petersburg?"

"Come," said the marchioness, taking hold of Claire's hands--"come, why do you always think about that, and torture your mind so?"

"What can I think of," answered Claire bitterly, "but of my betrothed? And how can I avoid torturing my mind as you say, in trying to divine the reason of his silence?"

"I own it is difficult to explain," rejoined the marchioness. "After spending a week with us last year, my nephew, the Duc de Bligny, started off promising to return to Paris during the winter. He next began by writing that political complications detained him at his post. Summer came, but not the duke. Here now is autumn, and Gaston no longer even favours us with pretences. He does not even trouble to write."

"But supposing he were ill?" Claire ventured to say.

"That is out of the question," replied the marchioness pitilessly. "The embassy would have informed us. You may be sure he is in perfect health, and that he led the cotillon all last winter in the ball-rooms of St. Petersburg."

Claire, forcing herself to smile, said, "It must be confessed, mother, he is not jealous, and yet I have been courted wherever I have gone, and am scarcely allowed to remain in peace, even in this desert of Beaulieu. It would seem I have attracted the attention of our neighbour the ironmaster."

"Monsieur Derblay?"

"Yes, mother; but his homage is respectful, and I have no cause to complain of him. I only mentioned him as an example--as one of many. The duke stays away, and I remain here alone, patient and--"

"And you act very wrongly!" exclaimed the marchioness.

The opportunity of easing her mind was not to be lost, and she told Claire that if the marriage ever did take place she feared there would be cause for regret. But her daughter's violent emotion made her realise more forcibly than ever how deeply and firmly Claire was attached to the Due de Bligny. So she assured her she had heard nothing fresh about him, and hoped they might have news from the De Prefonts, who were to arrive that day from Paris.

"Ah!" interrupted Mdlle. de Beaulieu, "here is Octave coming with Monsieur Bachelin, the notary." And she went to meet them, looking the living incarnation of youth in all its grace and vigour.

"You have had good sport, it seems," she said, waylaying her brother, and feeling the weight of his game-bag.

"Oh, I'll be modest. This game was not killed by me," answered the marquis; and explained that he had lost his way on the Pont Avesnes land, and had been rather haughtily accosted by another sportsman, who, however, as soon as he heard his name, became very polite, and forced him to accept the contents of his own bag.

Maitre Bachelin immediately informed them that this must have been the ironmaster himself, whom he had been to see that morning, and all questions at issue about the boundaries of the estates were as good as settled.

"For," said he, "my worthy friend accepts whatever conditions you may lay down. The only point now is to sign the preliminaries, and with this object Monsieur Derblay proposes to call at Beaulieu with his sister, Mile. Suzanne; that is, if you are pleased to authorise him, Madame la Marquise."

"Oh, certainly. Let him come by all means. I shall be glad to see this Cyclops, who is blackening all the valley. But come, you have, no doubt, brought me some fresh documents in reference to our English lawsuit."

"Yes, Madame la Marquise, yes," rejoined Bachelin, with an appealing look. "We will talk business if you desire it."

Without asking any questions, Claire and the marquise gave their mother a smile, and left the drawing-room.

"Well, Bachelin, have the English courts decided? Is the action lost?"

The notary lacked courage to reply in words, but his gesture was sufficient. The marchioness bit her lips, and a tear glittered for a moment.

"Ah!" said the notary. "It is a terrible blow for the house of Beaulieu."

"Terrible indeed," said the marchioness; "for it implies my son's and my daughter's ruin. Misfortunes seldom come singly," she resumed. "I suppose you have some other bad news for me, Bachelin. Tell me everything. You have news of the Duc de Bligny?"

"For the last six weeks M. le Duc de Bligny has been in Paris."

"He is aware of the misfortune that has overtaken us?"

"He knew of it one of the first, Madame la Marquise."

The marchioness was grieved more cruelly by this than by the money loss; and the notary was thus emboldened to tell her that a gallant friend of his, M. Derblay, whose father had been kind enough to call Maitre Bachelin his friend, had fallen passionately in love with Mdlle. de Beaulieu, and would be the happiest man in the world if he were even allowed to hope. He advised the marchioness not to say anything at present to her daughter. Maybe the duke would return to more honourable feelings, and it would always be time enough for Mdlle. Claire to suffer."

"You are right; but, at all events, I must inform my son of this blow that strikes him."

Octave was not surprised, but affectionately taking his mother's hand, said, "My only concern was for my sister, whose dowry was at stake. You must leave her the part of your fortune you were reserving for me. Don't you think, mother, that our cousin De Bligny's silence has some connection with the loss of this lawsuit?"

"You are mistaken, child," cried the marchioness eagerly. "For the duke----"

"Oh, fear nothing, mother," said Octave. "If Gaston hesitates now that Mdlle. de Beaulieu no longer comes to him with a million in either hand, we are not, I fancy, the sort of folk to seize him by the collar and compel him to keep his promises."

"Well said, my son," cried the marchioness.

Bachelin took respectful leave of his noble clients, and hurried off to Pont Avesnes as fast as his legs could carry him.

II.--M. Derblay's Passion

It was really M. Derblay whom the Marquis de Beaulieu had met in the woods of Pont Avesnes. Letting Octave call after him as loud as he liked, he hurried on through the woods. Chance had brought him nearer to the woman he adored from afar, in a dream as it were, and his heart was full of joy. He, Philippe, might approach her--he would be able to speak to her. But at the thought of the Duc de Bligny, a feeling of deep sadness overcame him, and his strength waned.

He recalled to mind all the exploits of his life, and asked himself if, in virtue of the task he had accomplished, he were not really deserving of happiness. After very brilliant studies, he had left the polytechnic school with first honours, and had chosen the state mining service when the Franco-German war had broken out. He was then two-and-twenty, and had just obtained an appointment, but at once enlisted as a volunteer. He served with distinction, and when at last he started for home he wore on his breast the ribbon of the Legion of Honour. He found the house in mourning. His mother had just died, and his little sister, Suzanne, just seven years old, clung to him with convulsive tenderness. Within six months his father also died, leaving his affairs in a most confused state.

Philippe renounced the brilliant career as an engineer already chalked out before him, and that his sister might not be dowerless, became a manufacturer. In seven years he had liquidated the paternal inheritance; his property was really his own, and he felt capable of greatly extending his enterprises. Popular in the district, he might come forward at the elections to be returned as a deputy. Who knew? Hope revived in Philippe Derblay's heart.

After a long talk with Maitre Bachelin, he, on considering the situation, felt it was not unfavourable to his hopes. When he presented himself at Beaulieu, the marchioness received him kindly, and, touching Suzanne's fair hair with her lips, "There is peace signed on this child's forehead," said she. "All your sins are forgiven you, neighbour. And now come and let me introduce you to the family."

A burning flush suffused Philippe's face, and he bowed low before the girl he adored.

"Why, he's a gentleman, dear!" whispered the baroness to Claire. "And think, I pictured him with a leather apron! Why, he's decorated, and the baron isn't! He's really very good-looking, and his eyes are superb!"

Claire looked at him almost sternly. The contrast was complete between him and Bligny, far away. Philippe was relieved to find the Baron de Préfont present; he had read a treatise of his, which delighted the baron, who at once became very friendly, and insisted on visiting the ironworks. Only Claire remained frigid and indifferent, and this on his second visit, instead of disconcerting the ironmaster, only irritated him; and the more she pretended to ignore him the more determined he became to compel her to notice him. They were all on the terrace when Monsieur and Mademoiselle Monlinet were announced.

"What can these people want?" said Madame de Beaulieu.

Monsieur Monlinet was a wealthy tradesman, who had just bought the Château de la Varenne, near by. His daughter had been at school with Claire and the Baroness de Préfont, and a bitter warfare was waged incessantly between the juvenile aristocrats and the monied damsels without handles to their names. All recollections of Athénais had faded from Claire's mind, but hatred was still rife in Mlle. Monlinet's heart; and when her father, in view of her marriage, bought La Varenne for her, the château was a threatening fortress, whence she might pounce down on her enemy.

Now she advanced towards Mlle, de Beaulieu when she entered the drawing-room at Beaulieu and threw her arms round her neck, and boldly exclaimed, "Ah, my beautiful Claire! How happy am I to see you!"

This young person had wonderfully improved, had become very pretty, and now paralysed her adversaries by her audacity. She soon contrived to leave the others, and when alone with Claire informed her she had come to beg for advice respecting her marriage.

Mlle, de Beaulieu instantly divined what her relatives had been hiding so carefully, and though she became very pale while Athénais looked at her in fiendish delight, she determined to die rather than own her love for Gaston, and exerted all her will to master herself. The noise of a furious gallop resounded, and the Duc de Bligny dashed into the courtyard on a horse white with foam. He would have entered the drawing-room, but the baron hindered him, while Maître Bachelin went to ask if he might be received.

Claire wore a frightful expression of anger.

"Be kind enough"--she turned to Bachelin--"to ask the duke to go round to the terrace and wait a moment. Don't bring him in till I make you a sign from the window; but, in the meantime, send M. Derblay to me."

The marchioness and the baroness immediately improvided a mise-en-scéne, so that when the duke entered, he perceived the marchioness seated as usual in her easy chair, the baroness standing near the chimney-piece, and Claire with her back to the light. He bowed low before the noble woman who had been his second mother.

"Madame la Marquise," he said, "my dear aunt, you see my emotion--my grief! Claire, I cannot leave this room till you have forgiven me!"

"But you owe me no explanation, duke," Claire said, with amazing serenity; "and you need no forgiveness. I have been told you intend to marry. You had the right to do so, it seems to me. Were you not as free as myself?"

Thereupon, approaching the doorway, she made a sign to Philippe. Athénais boldly followed the ironmaster.

"I must introduce you to one another, gentlemen. Monsieur le Duc de Bligny--my cousin." Then, turning towards her faithless lover, and defying him, as it were, with her proud gaze, she added, "Duke, Monsieur Derblay, my future husband."

III.--The Ironmaster's Disappointment

Touched by the disinterested delicacy of M. Derblay, the marchioness sanctioned her daughter's sudden determination without anxiety. In her mother's presence, Claire showed every outward sign of happiness, but her heart became bitter and her mind disturbed, and nought remained of the noble, tender-hearted Claire.

Her only object now was to avenge herself on Athénais and humiliate the duke; and the preparations for the wedding were carried on with incredible speed. Left ignorant of the ironmaster's generous intentions, she attributed his ready deference to all her wishes to his ambition to become her husband, and even felt contempt for the readiness with which he had enacted his part in the humiliating comedy played before the duke, so thoroughly did she misjudge passionate, generous-hearted Philippe, whose only dream was to restore her happiness.

Mlle, de Beaulieu arrived at two decisions which stupefied everybody. She wished the wedding to take place at midnight, without the least pomp, and only the members of the two families to be present. The marchioness raised her hands to heaven, and the marquis asked his sister if she were going mad, but Philippe declared these wishes seemed very proper to him, and so they were carried out.

The marriage contract was signed on the eve of the great day. Claire remained ignorant of the fact that she was ruined, and signed quite unsuspectingly the act which endowed her with half M. Derblay's fortune.

The service was performed with the same simplicity as would have been observed at a pauper's wedding. The dreary music troubled the duke, and reminded him of his father's funeral, when his aunt and cousins wept with him. He was now alone. Separated for ever from the dear ones who had been so kind to him, he compared Philippe's conduct with his own, and, turning his eyes to Claire, divined that she wept. A light broke on him; he realised the ironmaster's true position, and decided he might revenge himself very sweetly.

"She weeps," he said to himself. "She hates that man, and still loves me."

After the service he looked in vain for traces of tears. She was calm and smiling, and spoke in perfect self-possession.

But when she was left alone, all on a sudden she found herself face to face with the cruel reality. She held herself and Philippe in horror. She must have been mad, and he had acted most unworthily in lending himself to her plans. When he at last ventured to come to her, her harsh expression astonished him. She managed to convey to him her wish to remain alone, and he showed himself so proud and magnanimous, she asked herself if it would be possible for her to live apart from him. How could she for ever repel such a loyal, generous man without showing herself unjust and cruel?

Her husband approached her. His lips touched her forehead. "Till to-morrow," he said. But as he touched her he was seized with a mad, passionate longing. He caught her in his arms in an irresistible transport. "Oh, if you only knew how much I love you!"

Surprised at first, Claire turned livid.

"Leave me!" she cried in an angry voice.

Philippe drew back. "What!" he said, in a troubled voice. "You repel me with horror! Do you hate me, then? And why? Ah, that man who forsook you so cowardly--that man, do you still happen to love him?"

"Ah, have you not perceived that I have been mad?" cried Claire, ceasing to restrain herself. "I have deserved your anger and contempt, no doubt. Come, take everything belonging to me except myself! My fortune is yours. I give it you. Let it be the ransom of my liberty."

Philippe was on the point of revealing the truth, which he had hitherto hidden with such delicacy and care, but he cast the idea aside. "Do you really take me for a man who sells himself?" he asked coldly. "I, who came here but a little while ago, palpitating and trembling to tell my love! Wasn't I more than mad, more than grotesque? For, after all, I have your fortune. I'm paid. I have no right to complain."

Philippe burst into a bitter laugh, and falling on the sofa, hid his face in his hands.

"Monsieur," said Claire haughtily, "let us finish this. Spare me useless raillery----"

Philippe showed his face, down which tears were streaming. "I am not railing, madame; I am weeping--mourning my happiness, for ever lost. But this is enough weakness. You wished to purchase your liberty. I give it you for nothing. You will realise one day that you have been even more unjust than cruel, and you may then think of trying to undo what you have done. But it will be useless. If I saw you on your knees begging my forgiveness, I should not have a word of pity for you. Adieu, madame. We shall live as you have willed it."

Claire simply bent her head in assent. Philippe gave her a last glance, hoping for some softening; but she remained inert and frigid. He slowly opened the door, and closed it, pausing again to listen if a cry or a sigh would give him--wounded as he was--a pretext for returning and offering to forgive. But all was silent.

"Proud creature," said he. "You refuse to bend, but I will break you."

The next morning Claire was found insensible, and for months she lay ill, nursed by Philippe with silent devotion. From that time forth his manner did not change. Gentle and most attentive to Claire in the presence of strangers, he was cold, grave, and strictly polite when they were alone.

IV.--The Lover's Reward

In the first expansion of her return to life she had decided she would be amiable, and frankly grant her friendship to Philippe, but saw, to her mortification, she was disposed to grant more than was asked of her. When he handed her "the income of her fortune, for six months," she became in a moment the proud Claire of other times, and refused to take it. Their eyes met; she relapsed, conquered. He it was she loved now. She constantly looked at him, and did whatever she thought would please him. She learnt with surprise that her husband was on the high road to becoming one of the princes of industry--that great power of the century. And when she learnt, accidentally from her brother, that she herself had had no dowry, she said, "I must win him back, or I shall die!"

The Duc and Duchess de Bligny arrived at La Varenne. La Varenne became the scene of numerous fetes, but Claire excused herself from attending on the ground that she was not yet well enough to sit up late. Athénais' anticipated pleasure was all lost, since she could not crush her rival with her magnificence. In her jealous rage she began to devote particular attention to Monsieur Derblay. At last, Claire judged the cup was full, and on her fête day, encouraged for the first time by her husband's glances, called Athénais aside and entreated her to stay away from their home for a time, at least. Athénais, pale with rage, replied insultingly, and Claire summoned the duke to take his wife away if he did not wish her to be turned out in presence of everyone.

With perfect composure Bligny asked Philippe if he approved of what Madame Derblay had done. In a grave voice, the ironmaster answered, "Monsieur le Duc, whatever Madame Derblay may do, whatever reason she may have for doing it, I consider everything she does as well done."


Claire saw two pistols lowered. With a shriek, she bounded forward and clapped her hand on the muzzle of Bligny's pistol!


An hour had elapsed without her regaining consciousness. The ironmaster was leaning over her. Suddenly her eyes opened, and she threw her arms round his neck. An acute pain passed through her hand, and she remembered everything--her despair, her anguish, and her sacrifice.

"One word?" she asked. "Tell me, do you love me?"

Philippe showed her a radiant face.

"Yes, I love you," he replied.

A cry escaped Claire. She clung frantically to Philippe; their eyes met, and in inexpressible ecstasy they exchanged their first kiss of love.


OUIDA (LOUISE DE LA RAMÉE)

Under Two Flags

There are few women writers who have created more stir by their works than Louise de la Ramée, the lady who wrote under the pen name of Ouida. Born of English and French parentage at Bury St. Edmund, England, in 1840, she began to turn to account her undoubted literary talents at the age of twenty, when she contributed to the "New Monthly" and "Bentley's Magazine." In the same year appeared her first long story, "Granville de Vigne," which was afterwards renamed and republished as "Held in Bondage." From that time an amazing output of romances fell in rapid succession from her pen, the most picturesque of them, perhaps, being "Under Two Flags" (1867) and "Moths." With respect to the former, although on occasions it exhibits a tendency towards inaccurate observation, the story is told with rare dramatic force and descriptive power. From 1874, Mlle. Ramée made her home in Italy, where, at Lucca, in spite of her reputation as a novelist, she died in straightened circumstances Jan. 25, 1908.

I.--An Officer of the Guards

A Guardsman at home is always luxuriously accommodated, and the Hon. Bertie Cecil, second son of Viscount Royallieu, was never behind his fellows in anything; besides, he was one of the crack officers of the 1st Life Guards, and ladies sent him pretty things enough to fill the Palais Royal.

Then Hon. Bertie was known generally in the brigade as "Beauty," and the appellative, gained at Eton, was in no way undeserved. His face, with as much delicacy and brilliancy as a woman's, was at once handsome, thoroughbred, languid, nonchalant with a certain latent recklessness, under the impassive calm of habit.

Life petted him and pampered him; lodged him like a prince, dined him like a king, and had never let him feel the want of all that is bought by money. How could he understand that he was not as rich a man as his oldest and closest comrade, Lord Rockingham, a Colossus, known as "the Seraph," the eldest son of the Duke of Lyonesse?

A quarrel with his father (whom he always alluded to as "Royal") reminded him that he was ruined; that he would get no help from the old lord, or from his elder brother, the heir. He was hopelessly in debt; nothing but the will of his creditors stood between him and the fatal hour when he must "send in his papers to sell," and be "nowhere" in the great race of life.

An appeal for money from his young brother, Berkeley, whom he really loved, forced Cecil to look, for the first time, blankly in the face of ruin that awaited him.

Berkeley, a boy of twenty, had been gambling, and came to Cecil, as he had come often enough before, with his tale of needs. It was £300 Berkeley wanted, and he had already borrowed £100 from a friend--a shameless piece of degradation in Cecil's code.

"It is no use to give you false hopes, young one," said Cecil gently. "I can do nothing. If the money were mine it should be yours at a word. But I am all downhill, and my bills may be called in at any moment."

"You are such chums with Rockingham, and he's as rich as all the Jews put together. What harm could there be if you asked him to lend you some money for me?"

Cecil's face darkened.

"You will bring some disgrace on us before you die, Berkeley," he said. "Have you no common knowledge of honour? If I did such a thing I should deserve to be hounded out of the Guards to-morrow. The only thing for you to do is to go down and tell Royal, he will sell every stick and stone for your sake."

"I would rather cut my throat," said the boy. "I have had so much from him lately."

But in the end he promised to go.

It was hard for Bertie to get it into his brain that he really was at the end of his resources. There still seemed one chance open to him. He was a fearless rider, and his horse, Forest King, was famous for its powers. He entered him for a great race at Baden, and piled on all he could, determined to be sunk or saved by the race. If he won he might be able to set things right for a time, and then family influence ought to procure him an advance in the Guards.

Forest King had never failed its master hitherto, and Bertie would have been saved by his faithful steed, but for the fact that a blackguardly turf welcher doctored the horse's mouth, and Forest King was beaten, and couldn't finish the course.

"Something ails King," said Cecil calmly, "he is fairly knocked off his legs. Some vet must look to him; ridden a yard further he will fall."

II "A Mystery--An Error"

Cecil knew that with the failure of Forest King had gone the last plank that saved him from ruin, perhaps the last chance that stood between him and dishonour. He had never looked on it as within the possibilities of hazard that the horse could be defeated, and the blow fell with crushing force; the fiercer because his indolence had persisted in ignoring his danger, and his whole character was so accustomed to ease and to enjoyment.

He got away from his companions, and wandered out alone into the gardens in the evening sunlight, throwing himself on a bench beneath a mountain-ash.

Here the little Lady Venetia, the eight-year-old sister of the colossal Seraph, found him, and Cecil roused himself, and smiled at her.

"They say you have lost all your money," said the child, "and I want you to take mine. It is my very own. Papa gives it to me to do just what I like with it. Please do take it."

Twenty bright Napoleons fell in a glittering shower on the grass.

"Petite reine," Cecil murmured gently, "how some man will love you one day. I cannot take your money, and you will understand why when you are older. But I will take this if you will give it me," and he picked up a little enamelled sweetmeat box, and slipped it into his waistcoat pocket. It was only a child's gift, but he kept it through many a dark day and wild night.

At that moment as he stood there, with the child beside him, one of the men of the gardens brought him an English letter, marked "instant." Cecil took it wearily, broke the envelope, and read a scrawled, miserable letter, blotted with hot tears, and scored out in impulsive misery. The Lady Venetia went slowly away and when next they met it was under the burning sun of Africa.

Alone, Cecil's head sank down upon his hands.

"Oh, God!" he thought. "If it were anything--anything except disgrace!"

An hour later and the Seraph's servant brought him a message, asking him to come to Lord Rockingham's rooms immediately.

Cecil went, and the Seraph crossed the room with his hand held out; not for his life in that moment would he have omitted that gesture of friendship. There was a third person in the room, a Jew, M. Baroni, who held a folded paper, with the forged signature of Rockingham on it, and another signature, the name of the forger in whose favour the bill was drawn; that other signature was--Bertie Cecil.

"Cecil, my dear fellow," said the Seraph, "I'm ashamed to send for you on such a blackguard errand! Here, M. Baroni, make your statement. Later on, Mr. Cecil can avenge it."

"My statement is easily made," said the Jew. "I simply charge the Hon. Bertie Cecil with having negotiated a bill with my firm for £750 month, drawn in his own favour, and accepted at two months' date by your lordship. Your signature you, my lord marquis, admit to be a forgery. With that forgery I charge your friend!"

Cecil stood silent, with a strange anguish on his face.

"I am not guilty," he said quietly.

"Beauty--Beauty! Never say that to me!" said the Seraph. "Do you think I can ever doubt you?"

"It is a matter of course," replied Baroni, "that Mr. Cecil denies the accusation. It is very wise. But I must arrest Mr. Cecil! Were you alone, my lord, you could prosecute or not, as you please; but ours is the money obtained by that forgery. If Mr. Cecil will accompany me unresistingly, I will not summon legal force."

"Cecil, tell me what is to be done?" said the Seraph hoarsely. "I will send for the duke--"

"Send for no one. I will go with this man. He is right as far as he knows. The whole is a--a mystery--an error."

Cecil hesitated a moment; then he stretched out his hand. "Will you take it--still?"

"Take it! Before all the world, always, come what will!"

The Seraph's voice rang clear as the ring of silver. Another moment, and the door had closed. Cecil went slowly out beside his accuser, not blaming the Jew in anything.

Once out in the air, the Hebrew laid his hand on his arm. Presently, in a side-street, three figures loomed in the shadow of the houses--a German official, the commissary of police, and an English detective. The Hebrew had betrayed him, and arrested him in the open street.

In an instant all the pride and blood of his race was up. He wrenched his wrists free and with his left arm felled the detective to earth with a crushing blow. The German---a powerful and firmly-built man--was on him at once, but Cecil's science was the finer. For a second the two rocked in close embrace, and then the German fell heavily.

The cries of Baroni drew a crowd at once, but Cecil dashed, with the swiftness of the deer, forward into the gathering night.

Flight! The craven's refuge--the criminal's resource! Flight! He wished in the moment's agony that they would send a bullet through his brain.

Soon the pursuers were far behind. But Cecil knew that he had but the few remaining hours of night left to save those for whom he had elected to sacrifice his life.

III.--Under Another Flag

Cigarette was the pet of the army of Africa, and was as lawless as most of her patrons. She was the Friend of the Flag. Soldiers had been about her from her cradle. They had been her books, her teachers, her guardians, and, later on, her lovers, all the days of her life. She had no sense of duty taught her, except to face fire boldly, never to betray a comrade, and to worship but two deities--"la Gloire" and "la France." Her own sex would have seen no good in her, but her comrades-in-arms could, and did. A certain chasseur d'Afrique in this army at Algiers puzzled her. He treated her with a grave courtesy, that made her wish, with impatient scorn for the wish, that she knew how to read, and had not her hair cut short like a boy's--a weakness the little vivandière had never been visited with before.

"You are too fine for us, mon brave," she said pettishly once to this chasseur. "They say you are English, but I don't believe it. Say what you are, then?"

"A soldier of France. Can you wish me more?"

"True," she said simply. "But you were not always a soldier of France? You joined, they say, twelve years ago. What were you before then?"

"Before?" he answered slowly. "Well--a fool"

"You belonged to the majority, then!" said Cigarette. "But why did you come into the service? You were born in the noblesse--bah, I know an aristocrat at a glance! What ruined you, Monsieur l'Aristocrat?"

"Aristocrat? I am none. I am Louis Victor, a corporal of the chasseurs."

"You are dull, mon brave."

Cigarette left him, and made her way to the officers' quarters. High or low, they were all the same to Cigarette, and she would have talked to the emperor himself as coolly as she did to any private.

She praised the good looks of the corporal of chasseurs, and his colonel, M. le Marquis de Châteauroy, answered, with a curse, "I wish my corporal were shot! One can never hear the last of him!"

Meanwhile, the corporal of chasseurs sat alone among the stones of a ruined mosque. He was a dashing cavalry soldier, who had a dozen wounds cut over his body by the Bedouin swords in many and hot skirmishes; who had waited through sultry African nights for the lion's tread; and who had served well in fierce, arduous work in trying campaigns and in close discipline.

From the extremes of luxury and indolence Cecil came to the extremes of hardship and toil. He had borne the change mutely, and without a murmur, though the first years were years of intense misery. His comrades had grown to love him, seeing his courage and his willingness to help them, with a rough, dog-like love.

Twelve years ago in England it was accepted that Bertie Cecil and his servant Rake had been killed in a railway accident in France.

And the solitary corporal of chasseurs read in the "Galignani" of the death of his father, Viscount Royallieu, and of his elder brother. The title and estate that should have been his had gone to his younger brother.

IV.--From Death to Life

The Seraph, now Duke of Lyonesse, and his sister Venetia, Princess Corona, came on a visit to the French camp, and with them Berkeley, Viscount Royallieu. Corporal Louis Victor saw them, and, safe from recognition himself, knew them. But Cecil was not to go down to the grave unreleased. First, his brother Berkeley coming upon him alone in the solitude of a desert camp, made concealment impossible.

"Have you lived stainlessly since?" were Cecil's only words, stern as the demand of a judge.

"God is my witness, yes! But you--they said you were dead. That was my first disgrace, and my last; you bore the weight of my shame. What can I say? Such nobility, such sacrifice--"

It was for himself that Berkeley trembled.

"I have kept your secret twelve years; I will keep it still," said Cecil gravely. "Only leave Algeria at once."

A slight incident revealed the corporal's identity to the Princess Corona. By his bearing he had attracted the attention of the visitors to the camp, and on being admitted to the villa of the princess to restore a gold chain dropped carelessly in the road, he disclosed the little enamelled box, marked "Venetia," the gift of the child in the garden at Baden.

"That box is mine!" cried the princess. "I gave it! And you? You are my brother's friend? You are Bertie Cecil?"

"Petite reine!" he murmured.

Then he acknowledged who he was, not even for his brother's sake could he have lied to her; but he implored her to say nothing to the Seraph. "I was innocent, but in honour I can never give you or any living thing proof that this crime was not mine."

"He is either a madman or a martyr," she mused, when Cecil had left her. That he loved her was plain, and the time was not far distant when she should love him, and be willing to share any sacrifice love and honour might demand.

The hatred of Colonel Châteauroy for his corporal brought matters to a climax. Meeting Cecil returning from his visit to Venetia, Châteauroy could not refrain from saying insulting things concerning the princess.

"You lie!" cried Cecil; "and you know that you lie! Breathe her name once more, and, as we are both living men, I will have your life for your outrage!"

And as he spoke Cecil smote him on the lips.

Châteauroy summoned the guard, the corporal was placed under arrest, and brought to court-martial.

In three days' time Corporal Louis Victor would be shot by order of the court-martial.

Cigarette, and Cigarette alone, prevented the sentence being carried out, and that at the cost of her life.

She was away from the camp at the time in a Moorish town when the news came to her; and she stumbled on Berkeley Cecil, and, knowing him for an Englishman, worked on his feelings, and gave him no rest till he had acknowledged the condemned man for his elder brother and the lawful Viscount Royallieu, peer of England.

With this document, signed and sealed by Berkeley, Cigarette galloped off to the fortress where the marshal of France, who was Viceroy of Africa, had arrived. The marshal knew Cigarette; he had decorated her with the cross for her valour in battle, and with the whole army of Africa he loved and admired her.

Cigarette gave him the document, and told him all she knew of the corporal's heroism. And the marshal promised the sentence should be deferred until he had found out the whole truth of the matter.

With the order of release in her bosom Cigarette once more vaulted into the saddle, to ride hard through the day and night--for at sunrise on the morrow will the sentence be executed.

And now it is sunrise, and the prisoner has been brought out to the slope of earth out of sight of the camp.

At the last the Seraph appeared, and found in the condemned man the friend of his youth. It was only with great difficulty that Rockingham was overpowered, for he swore Cecil should not be killed, and a dozen soldiers were required to get him away.

Then Cecil raised his hand, and gave the signal for his own death-shot.

The levelled carbines covered him; ere they could fire a shrill cry pierced the air: "Wait! In the name of France!"

Dismounted and breathless, Cigarette was by the side of Cecil, and had flung herself on his breast.

Her cry came too late; the volley was fired, and while the prisoner stood erect, grazed only by some of the balls, Cigarette fell, pierced and broken by the fire. She died in Cecil's arms, with the comrades she had loved around her.


It is spring. Cecil is Lord of Royallieu, the Lady Venetia is his bride.

"It was worth banishment to return," he murmured to her. "It was worth the trials that I bore to learn the love that I have known."

And the memories of both went back to a place in a desert land where the folds of the tricolour drooped over one little grave--a grave where the troops saluted as they passed it, because on the white stone there was carved a name that spoke to every heart:

                    CIGARETTE
ENFANT DE L'ARMÉE, SOLDAT DE LA FRANCE.

JAMES PAYN

Lost Sir Massingberd

James Payn, one of the most prolific literary workers of the second half of the nineteenth century, was born at Cheltenham, England, Feb. 28, 1830, and died March 23, 1898. After a false start in education for the army, he went to Cambridge University, where he was president of the Union, and published some poems. The acceptance of his contributions by "Household Words" turned him to his true vocation. After writing some years for "Chambers's Journal" he became its editor from 1850 till 1874. His first work of fiction, "The Foster Brothers," a story founded on his college life, appeared in 1859, but it was not until five years later that Payn's name was established as a novelist. This was on the publication of "Lost Sir Massingberd, a Romance of Real Life." The story first appeared in "Chambers's Journal," and is marked by all his good qualities--ingenious construction, dramatic situations, and a skilful arrangement of incidents. Altogether, Payn wrote about sixty volumes of novels and short stories.

I.--Neither Fearing God Nor Regarding Man

In a Midland county, not as yet scarred by factories, there stands a village called Fairburn, which at the time I knew it first had for its squire, its lord, its despot, one Sir Massingberd Heath. Its rector, at that date, was the Rev. Matthew Long, into whose wardship I, Peter Meredith, an Anglo-Indian lad, was placed by my parents. I loved Mr. Long, although he was my tutor; and oh, how I feared and hated Mr. Massingberd! It was not, however, my boyhood alone that caused me to hold this man as a monster of iniquity; it was the opinion which the whole county entertained of him, more or less. Like the unjust judge, he neither feared God nor regarded man.

He had been a fast, very fast friend of the regent; but they were no longer on speaking terms. Sir Massingberd had left the gay, wicked world for good, and was obliged to live at his beautiful country seat in spite of himself. He was irretrievably ruined, and house and land being entailed upon his nephew Marmaduke, he had nothing but a life interest in anything.

Marmaduke Heath was Mr. Long's pupil as well as myself, and he resided with his uncle at the Hall. He dreaded his relative beyond measure. All the pretended frankness with which the old man sometimes treated the lad was unable to hide the hate with which Sir Massingberd really regarded him; but for this heir-presumptive to the entail, the baronet might raise money to any extent, and once more take his rightful station in the world.

Abject terror obscured the young existence of Marmaduke Heath. The shadow of Sir Massingberd cast itself over him alike when he went out from his hated presence and when he returned to it.

Soon after my first meeting with Marmaduke, Sir Massingberd unexpectedly appeared before me. He was a man of Herculean proportions, dressed like an under-gamekeeper, but with the face of one who was used to command. On his forehead was a curious indented frown like the letter V, and his lips curled contemptuously upward in the same shape. These two together gave him a weird, demoniacal look, which his white beard, although long and flowing, had not enough of dignity to do away with. He ordered his nephew to go home, and the boy instantly obeyed, as though he almost dreaded a blow from his uncle. Then the baronet strode away, and his laugh echoed again and again, for it was joy to know that he was feared.

Mr. Long determined to buy a horse for me, and upon my suggestion that I wished Marmaduke Heath to spend more time in my company, he and I went up to the Hall to ask Sir Massingberd if he were willing. The squire received us curtly, and upon hearing of my tutor's intention, declared that he himself would select a horse for Marmaduke. Then, since he wished to talk with Mr. Long concerning Mr. Chint, the family lawyer, he bade me go to his nephew's room, calling upon Grimjaw, a loathsome old dog, to act as my guide. This beast preceded me up the old oak staircase to a chamber door, before which it sat and whined. Marmaduke opened this and admitted me, and we sat talking together.

My tutor found us together, and knowing the house better than the heir did, offered to play cicerone and show me over. In the state bed-room, a great room facing the north, he disclosed to us a secret stairway that opened behind a full-length portrait. Marmaduke, who had been unaware of its existence, grew ghastly pale.

"The foot of the stairway is in the third bookcase on the left of the library door," said Mr. Long. "I dare say that nobody has moved the picture for twenty years."

"Yes, yes!" said Marmaduke passionately. "My uncle has moved it. When I was ill, upon my coming to Fairburn, I slept here, and I had terrible visions. I see it all now. He wanted to frighten me to death, or to make me mad. He would come and stand by my bedside and stare at me. Cruel--cruel coward!"

Then he begged us to go away. "My uncle will wonder at your long delay. He will suspect something," he said.

"Peter," observed my tutor gravely, as we went homeward, "whatever you may think of what has passed to-day, say nothing. I am not so ignorant of the wrongs of that poor boy as I appear, but there is nothing for it but patience."

II.--A Gypsy's Curse

In a few days I was in possession of an excellent horse, and Marmaduke had the like fortune. My tutor examined the steed Sir Massingberd had bought with great attention, and after commenting on the tightness of the curb, declared that he would accompany us on our first ride. After we had left the village, he expressed a wish to change mounts with Marmaduke, and certainly if he had been a horsebreaker he could not have taken more pains with the animal. In the end he expressed himself highly satisfied. Some days afterwards, however, Panther, for so we called the horse, behaved in a strange and incomprehensible fashion, and at last became positively fiendish. Shying at a gypsy encampment, he rushed at headlong speed down a zigzagged chalk road, and at last pitched head-first over a declivity. When I found Marmaduke blood was at his mouth, blood at his ears, blood everywhere.

"Marmaduke, Marmaduke!" I cried. "Speak! Speak, if it be but a single word! Great heaven, he is dead!"

"Dead! No, not he," answered a hoarse, cracked voice at my ear. "The devil would never suffer a Heath of Fairburn to die at his age!"

"Woman," cried I, for it was an old gypsy, who had somehow transported herself to the spot, "for God's sake go for help! There is a house yonder amongst the trees."

"And why should I stir a foot," replied she fiercely, "for the child of a race that has ever treated me and mine as dogs?"

Then she cursed Sir Massingberd as the oppressor of her kith and kin, concluding with the terrible words, "May he perish, inch by inch, within reach of the aid that shall never come, ere the God of the poor take him into His hand!"

"If you hate Sir Massingberd Heath," said I despairingly, "and want to do him the worst service that lies in your power, flee, flee to that house, and bid them save this boy's life, which alone stands between his beggared uncle and unknown riches!"

Revenge accomplished what pity had failed to work. She knelt at his side, from a pocket produced a spirit-flask in a leathern case, and applied it to his lips. After a painful attempt to swallow, he succeeded; his eyelids began tremulously to move, and the colour to return to his pallid cheeks. She disappeared; during her absence I noted that the tarnished silver top of the flask bore upon it a facsimile of one of the identical griffins which guarded each side of the broad steps that led to Fairburn Hall.

After a short interval, a young and lovely girl appeared, accompanied by a groom and butler, who bore between them a small sofa, on which Marmaduke was lifted and gently carried to the house. The master came in soon, accompanied by the local doctor, who at last delivered the verdict that my friend "would live to be a baronet."

He said, moreover, that the youth must be kept perfectly quiet, and not moved thence on any consideration--it might be for weeks. Harvey Gerard, a noble-looking gentleman, refused to admit Sir Massingberd under his roof.

The baronet, however, did appear towards twilight, and forced his way into the house, where Harvey Gerard met him with great severity. Soon hatred took the place of all other expressions on the baronet's face, and he swore that he would see his nephew.

"That you shall not do, Sir Massingberd," said the gentleman. "If you attempt to do so, my servants will put you out of the house by force."

"Before night, then, I shall send for him, and he shall be carried back to Fairburn, to be nursed in his proper home."

"Nursed!" repeated Harvey Gerard hoarsely. "Nursed by the gravedigger!"

Sir Massingberd turned livid.

"To hear you talk one would think that I had tried to murder the boy," he said.

"I know you did!" cried Harvey Gerard solemnly. "To-day you sent your nephew forth upon that devil with a snaffle-bridle instead of a curb! See, I track your thoughts like slime. Base ruffian, begone from beneath this roof, false coward!"

Sir Massingberd started up like one stung by an adder.

"Yes, I say coward!" continued Harvey Gerard. "Heavens, that this creature should still feel touch of shame! Be off, be off; molest not anyone within this house at peril of your life! Murderer!"

For once Sir Massingberd had met his match--and more. He seized his hat, and hurried from the room.

III.--A Wife Undesired

When Marmaduke recovered consciousness, twelve hours after his terrible fall, he told me that he had been given a sign of his approaching demise.

"I have seen a vision in the night," he said, "far too sweet and fair not to have been sent from heaven itself. They say the Heaths have always ghastly warnings when their hour is come; but this was surely a gentle messenger."

"Your angel is Lucy Gerard," replied I quietly, "and we are at this moment in her father's house."

He was silent for a time, with features as pale as the pillow on which he lay; then he repeated her name as though it were a prayer.

"It would indeed be bitter for me to die now," he said.

I myself was stricken with love for Lucy Gerard, and would have laid down my life to kiss her finger-tips. Nearly half a century has passed over my head since the time of which I write, and yet, I swear to you, my old heart glows again, and on my withered cheeks there comes a blush as I call to mind the time when I first met that pure and lovely girl. But from the moment that Marmaduke Heath spoke to me as he did, upon his bed of sickness, of our host's daughter, I determined within myself not only to stand aside, and let him win if he could, but to help him by all the means within my power. And so it came about that later I told Lucy that his recovery depended upon her kindness, and won her to look upon him with compassion and with tenderness.

Mr. Clint, the lawyer, came from London, and arrangements were made for Marmaduke to continue in Harvey Gerard's care, and when Marmaduke was convalescent the Gerards removed him to their residence in Harley street. After I had bidden them farewell, I rode slowly towards Fairburn, but was stopped at some distance by a young gypsy boy, who summoned me to the encampment to converse with the aged woman whom I had seen on the occasion of the accident. She bade me sit down beside her, and after a time produced the silver-mounted flask, concerning whose history I felt great curiosity. I asked her how it came into her possession, and she herself asked a question in turn.

"Has it never struck you why Sir Massingberd has not long ago taken to himself a young wife, and begotten an heir for the lands of Fairburn, in despite of his nephew?"

"If that be so," said I, "why does not Sir Massingberd marry?"

Thereupon she told me that many years ago he had joined their company, and shared their wandering fortune. Her sister Sinnamenta, a beautiful girl beloved by the handsome Stanley Carew, had fascinated him, and he would have married her according to gypsy rites; but since her father did not believe that he meant to stay with the tribe longer than it suited him, he peremptorily refused his request. Sir Massingberd left them; they struck tent at once, and travelled to Kirk Yetholm, in Roxburghshire, a mile from the frontier of Northumberland. There the wretch followed her, and again proposed to go through the Cingari ceremony, and this time the father consented. It was on the wedding-day that he gave my informant the shooting-flask as a remembrance, just before he and his wife went away southward. Long months afterwards Sinnamenta returned heart-stricken, woebegone, about to become a mother, with nothing but wretchedness in the future, and even her happy past a dream dispelled.

The gypsies were at Fairburn again, and Sinnamenta's father sent for Sir Massingberd, and he was told that the marriage was legal, Kirk Yetholm being over the border. An awful silence succeeded this disclosure. Sir Massingberd turned livid, and twice in vain essayed to speak; he was well-nigh strangled with passion. At last he caught Sinnamenta's Wrist with fingers of steel.

"What man shall stop me from doing what I will with my own?" he cried. "Come along with me, my pretty one!"

Stanley Carew flung himself upon him, knife in hand; but the others plucked him backward, and Sir Massingberd signed to his wife to followed him, and she obeyed. That night Stanley Carew was arrested on a false charge of horse-stealing, and lying witnesses soon afterwards brought him to the gallows.

"I know not what she suffered immediately after she was taken from us," concluded the old woman. "But this I have heard, that when he told her of the death of Stanley Carew, she fell down like one dead, and presently, being delivered of a son, the infant died after a few hours. Yonder," she looked menacingly towards Fairburn Hall, "the mother lives--a maniac. What else could keep me here in a place that tortures me with memories of my youth, and of loving faces that have crumbled into dust? What else but the hope of one day seeing my little sister yet, and the vengeance of Heaven upon him who has worked her ruin? If Massingberd Heath escape some awful end, there is no Avenger on high. I am old, but I shall see it yet, I shall see it before I die."

IV.--The Curse Fulfilled

I returned to Fairburn, and soon Sir Massingberd, finding that all correspondence with his nephew was interrupted by Harvey Gerard, began to pay small attentions to my tutor and myself. At last he appeared at the rectory, and desired me to forward a letter to Marmaduke. This--finding nothing objectionable in the contents--I agreed to do, and he departed, after inviting me to make use of his grounds whenever I pleased. On the morrow I yielded to curiosity, and after wandering to and fro in the park, came near a small stone house with unglazed, iron-grated windows. A short, sharp shriek clove the humid air, and approaching, I looked into a sitting-room, where an ancient female sat eating a chicken without knife or fork. Her hair was scanty and white as snow, but hung almost to the ground.

"Permit me to introduce myself," she said. "I am Sinnamenta, Lady Heath. You are not Stanley Carew, are you? They told me that he was hung, but I know better than that. To be hung for nothing must be a terrible thing; but how much worse to be hung for love! It is not customary to watch a lady when she is partaking of refreshment."

Then the poor mad creature turned her back, and I withdrew from the sad scene. A day or two afterwards the post carried misfortune from me to Harley Street. The wily baronet had fooled me, and had substituted a terrible letter for that which he had persuaded me to enclose to his nephew.

"Return hither, sir, at once," he had written. "It is far worse than idle to attempt to cross my will. I give you twenty-four hours to arrive after the receipt of this letter. I shall consider your absence to be equivalent to a contumacious refusal. However well it may seem with you, it will not be well. Whenever you think yourself safest, you will be most in danger. There is, indeed, but one place of safety for you; come you home."

Very soon afterwards, and before we knew of this villainy, word reached us that the baronet was lost, and could not be found. He had started on his usual nocturnal rounds in the preserves, and nobody had seen him since midnight. Old Grimjaw, the dog, had been found on the doorstep, nigh frozen to death.

The news spread like wild-fire through Fairburn village. I myself joined the searchers, but soon separated from them, and passing the home spinney, near by which was the famous Wolsey oak, a tree of great age. I heard a sound that set my heart beating, and fluttering like the wings of a prisoned bird against its cage. Was it a strangled cry for "Help!" repeated once, twice, thrice, or was it the cold wind clanging and grinding the naked branches of the spinney? But nought living was to be seen; a bright wintry sun completely penetrated the leafless woodland. At last I came upon the warm but lifeless body of Grimjaw lying on the grass, and I hurried madly from the accursed place to where the men were dragging the lake.

No clue was found, and my tutor began to fear that the gypsies had made away with their enemy. Word came that they had passed through the turnpike with a covered cart, and we rode out to interview them. The old woman met us, and conducted us to the vehicle, when we found Sinnamenta, Lady Heath, weaving rushes into crowns.

"My little sister is not beaten now," said the beldam. "May God's curse have found Sir Massingberd! I would that I had his fleshless bones to show you. Where he may be we know not; we only hope that in some hateful spot he may be suffering unimagined pains!"

By the next post I received bitter news from Harley Street. A copy of the menacing epistle reached me from Harvey Gerard. In a postscript Lucy added that Marmaduke was too ill to write. An hour later Mr. Long and I set off to town, where we found the lad in a less morbid state than we had expected. He had asked, and gained, Harvey Gerard's permission to marry his daughter, and the beautiful girl was supporting him with all her strength.

The services of Townsend, the great Bow street runner, were called for; but in spite of his endeavours, no solution was discovered to the mystery of Sir Massingberd's disappearance. Fairburn Hall remained without a master, occupied only by the servants.

At last Marmaduke came of age, and as he and Lucy were now man and wife, it was decreed that they must return to the old home. Art changed that sombre house into a comfortable and splendid mansion, and when Lucy brought forth a son, the place seemed under a blessing, and no longer under a curse. But it was not until the christening feast of the young heir was celebrated with due honour that the secret of Sir Massingberd's disappearance was discovered.

Some young boys, playing at hide-and-seek, were using the Wolsey oak for "home," and, whilst waiting there, dug a hole with their knives, and came upon a life-preserver that the baronet had always carried. Then a keeper climbed the tree, and cried out that it was hollow, and there was a skeleton inside.

"It's my belief," said the man, "that Sir Massingberd must have climbed up into the fork to look about him for poachers, and that the wood gave way beneath him, and let him down feet foremost into the trunk."

Later, as I looked upon the ghastly relics of humanity, the old gypsy's curse recurred to my mind with dreadful distinctness. "May he perish, inch by inch, within reach of the aid that shall never come, ere the God of the poor take him into His hand."



[VOL. I] [VOL. II] [VOL. III] [VOL. IV] [VOL. V] [VOL. VI] [VOL. VII] [VOL. VIII]


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