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PR 6037 H524 L6 1905 

3 1822 01232 3564 

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M. P. $HIEL 



PR 6037 H524 L6 1905 


3 1822 01232 3564 





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224 W. Broadway 


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The Lost Viol 


















Edward J. Clode 

Publisher, New York 

Copyright, 1905 
By Edward J. Clode 

The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U. S.A. 

" He struck his breast, and thus reproved his heart: 
' Endure, my heart! thou heavier fate hast borne.' " 

" Let us consider it, then," said I, " for the discourse is 
not about a trifle, but about the manner in which we ought 
to live." " Consider, then," said he. " I will," said I. 

The Lost Viol 


" "^ 7"ES, a grand night," was the thought in Miss 
^l Kathleen Sheridan's mind, as she passed into 
-*- the west lodge-gates of Orrock Park on the 
evening of the 21st of November, '98: an evening of 
storm, with the roar of the sea in the ear. The young 
lady stopped at Embree Pond in the park to watch 
the sheet of water shivering to its dark heart under 
the flight of the squalls; then with her long-legged 
walk (she was a hunchback), went on her way, showing 
in her face her delight in this bleak mood of nature. 

Some way further, however, on hearing the hoofs 
of a horse, her expression changed to one of very real 
fright, for she had a thought of one Sir Percy Orrock, 
beheaded by Cromwell, whose ghost gallops about on 
a headless horse in rough weather; but this turned out 
to be only Mr. Millings, the land-steward: for, on 
coming round to the manor-house, the young lady 
found Millings there talking to Sir Peter Orrock, who 
at a window was holding his ear forward to hear the 
land-steward's news. 


The Lost Viol 

"Good evening, Mr. Millings," called Miss Kath- 
leen, laughing from ear to ear, with strings of black 
hair draping her face. 'Well, uncle, I have been 
sketching it all on the heath — witches on broomsticks, 
'strange screams of death in the air.' That silver lime 
of Farmer Carr's is blown flat. Uncle, if you ask me 
to stop and dine, I may consent." 

"Hm," muttered Sir Peter to himself, "better stick 
to your own dinner. Go on, Millings — same old 
story, eh?" 

"Same old story, Sir Peter," answered Mr. Millings: 
"there won't be any of Norfolk left soon, at this rate. 
Mrs. Dawe's cottage gone, and with it her son, James 
Dawe, and three of the boats — " 

"Well, it is their own fault!" called out the little 
maid, "living on the edge of the cliffs, when they 
know — " 

"Got nowhere else to live," muttered Sir Peter. 
" Dawe drowned, Millings ? " 

"No, Sir Peter, but I'm afraid I must say rescued 
at an awful cost: he was rescued by Miss Langler, who 
has just been taken home to Woodside in a dying 

" Hannah ? Hannah Langler ? " breathed Sir Peter, 
turning very pale. 

" The lad was carried out two hundred yards," said 
Mr. Millings, "where he clung to the bottom of one 
of the three boats; on the cliffs I found a crowd watch- 
ing him, including Fagan, the coast-guardsman, who 


The Lost Viol 

told me that the lifeboat was coming round from 
Wardenham; but I thought from the first that it would 
come too late, for I could see Dawe nearer in every 
time the lighthouse beam swept over him: and so it 
proved, for, as the lifeboat-light appeared round the 
north headland, Dawe was thrown up by a breaker on 
a strip of sand — " 

" But Hannah ? " said the baronet. 

"Miss Langler was in the crowd with her father," 
said Millings; "she had been holding up Dawe's 
mother, who was fainting, but when Dawe was all of 
a sudden lying on the strip of sand below us, I saw 
Miss Langler running among the fishermen, begging 
one and another to save him before the next wave. 
' There's nothing like venturing,' I heard her say twice 
or thrice, but they answered that that would only 
mean two deaths instead of one, and I fully agreed 
with them. When the next breaker drew back from 
the cliffs we all looked to see Dawe gone with it: but 
there he still was, and I now heard Miss Langler cry 
out to Horsford, the lighthouse-keeper, 'Now, now, 
Horsford, venture now,' and then, all at once, I was 
aware that she herself was going down the cliff-side 
by that little foot-path near the church-tower." 

" But, God's name, man, couldn't some of you stop 
her, a whole crowd of you there ? " said Sir Peter. 

"It couldn't be done, Sir Peter, I regret to say. 
Two or three did make a try to hold her, but she was 
gone like the wind. Personally, I confess, I was 


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rather paralyzed: she looked pretty small down there 
in the mouth of the sea, like a fly in an engine at work; 
it was rather painful. Old Farmer Langler fell on 
his knees; no one had a word to say. I don't suppose 
it lasted ten minutes on the whole, but I shouldn't 
care to live through it again. Dawe's a heavy lout, 
a head taller than she, and twice she was felled by the 
sea with him in her arms. When a wave withdrew, 
we saw them still there, and another wave coming. 
Two of the womenfolk fainted. I with some other 
men ran half-way down to see better, and got drenched. 
However, she won back to the path with her unwieldy 
prize, and there gave in. We then ran down and got 
them somehow to the top; Dawe was taken to the 
postmistress's cottage, and Miss Langler home to 
Woodside. Both are in a pretty bad way, they say." 

"Well, it is her own fault!" called the quaint maid 
shrilly against the wind from the outer hall. " Hannah 
has a secret pride in her physical powers which stood 
in need of a ducking." 

The baronet muttered something, turned from the 
window, and in five minutes was passing out of the 
house, well wrapped up, with his rusty top-hat pressed 
on his head, and a footman swinging a lantern before 
his steps. 

" What, going to Woodside, uncle ? " asked Kathleen, 
who still stood in the outer hall, "how wonderfully 
good of you ! " 

The baronet did not answer. She went out with 


The Lost Viol 

him. Beyond the east gates they saw the lighthouse 
beam traveling over land and sea in turn, the one 
thing which the storm could not fluster. A drizzle, 
like spray caught from the sea, struck the face. It 
was very bleak. They met only a manure-cart whose 
driver saw, head-to-wind, his horses' manes, tails, and 
forelocks floating out at random on the streams of the 
storm. Sir Peter was silent, but the quaint maid had 
ever something to say in her laughing way. " Isn't it 
fine?" she cried out: "one feels as if one were oneself 
the storm!" Then presently: "Did you read all that 
about Chris Wilson? That boy is going to be the 
maestro of the day, you'll see. He has won the year's 
prize-violin, and been publicly embraced by Strauss. 
Yvonne writes me that he's the wildest of madcaps, 
and leaves broken hearts in every capital: this is the 
boy that I am supposed to be engaged to." 

At this Sir Peter stooped sharply to her ear, saying: 
" Better drop that talk, and think of something besides 

" But what do you mean ? " cried back Kathleen : 
"wasn't it arranged before I was born that he should 
marry me? Not that I care at all, or would marry 
him, if he wanted me"; in a lower tone she added: 
"you have no humor, mon oncle." 

"This is Hannah Langler's birthday, too!" she 
called out presently: "did you know? She will re- 
member the date of her ducking. Isn't it an extraor- 
dinary thing that on each of her birthdays that girl 


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receives a present from some unknown person ? This 
time it is a ring that must have cost two hundred 

" How old is she to-day ? " asked Sir Peter, stooping 
to her ear. 


" No — twenty-three." 

"Excuse me, uncle, twenty-four. But what does it 
matter to you, really ? I believe you cherish some sort 
of odd weakness for this Langler girl. She tells me 
that every time you see her you whisper into her ear 
always the same words, ' Uglier than ever, I see.' Well 
that might be a pleasantry, if she were pretty, but as 
what you say happens to be true, it is hardly polite, 
is it ? The rector has suggested that perhaps this 
yeoman's daughter is destined to become — Lady 
Orrock. I told him that things of that sort don't 

"Hm!" muttered Sir Peter; "talk too much." 

Kathleen now went up a lane on the left leading to 
her own place, "The Hill," while Sir Peter and the 
footman went on down yew and hawthorn hedges, till 
the light of Woodside Farm appeared; and great was 
the wonder of the old farmer and of Mrs. Langler 
when they saw Sir Peter come to see Hannah, for the 
baronet was a rather crusty and rusty type — tall, 
with a stoop and an asthmatic chest — from whom a 
jerk of the head was about all that people on the 
estate expected in the way of friendliness. 


The Lost Viol 

Sir Peter saw Hannah, who lay unconscious from 
her drenching, stayed a little with the old couple and 
old Dr. Williams, and then trudged back to the 

He sat up so late that night, sniffing his three dried 
apples, that Bentley, his old house-steward, became 
uneasy. He was writing a long letter; for his discovery 
that night that Hannah Langler was twenty-four, not 
twenty-three, as he had somehow thought, was now 
hurrying him to an action which for fifteen years had 
lain planned in his heart. 

"Better," he wrote to his nephew Chris Wilson, 
"come here for two or three months, and let me see 
if I like you. As I have not seen you since you were 
sixteen, and then only for a few minutes in Paris, it is 
impossible for me to know what sort of being you are: 
but I was attached to your mother, and if you have 
any touch of her, it is possible that both myself and 
the young lady to whom I refer may care to have you 
permanently about us. Your income, if I remember 
rightly, hardly amounts to more than £500, and if 
Miss Hannah Langler will marry you, she will have 
from me a jointure of ,£3,000 a year, and will, moreover, 
be my heiress: in which case you may decide to give up 
scraping fiddles for the rest of your days," etc., etc. 

This letter ' went off to Paris the next day. Four 
days later came the reply, written apparently in a heat 
of haste: 


The Lost Viol 

" My dear Sir and Uncle : 

"I am obliged by your most kind invitation to 
Orrock Hall, and delighted that I have so near a 
relative as my uncle to remember me. I shall cer- 
tainly come to visit you, if the good people here will let 
me, and I will marry whomsoever you desire, since that 
is your caprice. You should expect me, therefore, let us 
us say, next Tuesday. Ever yours sincerely, 

"Chris Wilson." 



The appointed Tuesday came, but Chris Wilson 
did not come with it; nor did he send any excuse. 

After a month Sir Peter wrote again, angrily this 
time; in two weeks the answer came from Vienna, 
saying that Chris would find it a " genuine delight " to 
visit so near and dear a relative as his uncle during the 
month of February next. But February, March, April, 
and May passed, and Chris Wilson did not come to 
Orrock, nor send any excuse. 

Once more Sir Peter wrote, no longer an invita- 
tion, but a letter bitter to the point of invective; he 
received no answer to this, but on a day in June 
when no one expected him at Orrock, Chris Wilson 
sat in the Wardenham train from London, with the 
score of Fidelio open on his knees and three violins 
about him. 

At Wardenham, of course, no carriage awaited him, 
and there he stood, a violin-case in each hand, looking 
up and down the road with a pathetic dismay. He 
believed that he had written to Sir Peter the date of 
his coming, and had perhaps expected a procession 
with flags to meet him, but no one even noticed him. 
'Well, the languid people," he said with his meek 


The Lost Viol 

smile, for it seemed to him odd that any one should be 
unconscious of his arrivals and departures. 

At last one of the donkey-baskets peculiar to War- 
denham was got; an old box, which was the master's, 
and a more costly portmanteau, which was the valet's, 
were put into it, and they set off through a land of 
cornfields and farms, past the lighthouse, the windmill 
on the hill, the village with its clothes hung out to dry 
in the sunlight. Anon the sea was in sight with sails 
on it, and the cliffs in their colored carpet of poppy, 
thistle, and sea-daisy; and anon the basket-chaise was 
among hills of heather and fern. There was hardly 
a sound, save the martin's wing, the bee fumbling into 
its lavender-bed, and dream-laughter borne from some 
boys and girls playing cricket in a meadow. Three 
men mending a net before a cottage door, among them 
that Willie Dawe whom Hannah had rescued from 
the sea, seemed to work in a doze. But Chris Wilson, 
who was a native of cities, and was being jolted in the 
lanes, had no eye for all this, and cried out anon to 
his driver : " Is it far, my friend ? " 

Beyond the ruined church-tower on the cliffs, the 
chaise turned inland between hedgerows full of wild 
yellow tulip, and in a lane promenaded by geese passed 
Woodside peeping through its nest of old trees. At 
Woodside gate stood a young lady, looking up and 
down the lane with shaded eyes, who suddenly felt 
ashamed of her hair, but the moment the chaise had 
passed, beckoned eagerly, whereat another young 


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lady spending the day at the farm ran out to 

"Too late," said Hannah Langler: "a Wardenham 
chaise with a young man in it, my dear! the squire's 
nephew, I believe, has violins — you should have run 
quicker ! Saw without seeing me at first, then suddenly 
realizing a petticoat about, looked back and smiled at 
me with little nods in an easy, cheeky kind of a sort 
of a way — " 

"Did you nod back, Hannah?" 

" Get thee behind me, Satan ! Of course not. But 
it wasn't done anyhow, my dear, but prince-like — " 

" What is he like, Hannah ? " asked Anne, highly 

" Not handsome, I think — broad-faced — stout — 
a bit overgrown — more body than head, top of his 
nose browned, my dear, like an apple just turning, a 
split cloth hat cocked well back, so that I could see 
his hair parted in the middle, spreads out behind in 
a mass of curls over his shoulders — brown, lighter 
than mine, his eyes blue and heavy — drowsy, tipsy- 
like — forehead small and flushed — " 

"You saw enough of him all in a moment!" 

"But it was that quietly wicked little smile, with 
little movements of his eyebrows — -!" 

" He must be fast, Hannah." 

"But a dear boy, I should think." 

"I wonder if Miss Kathleen will be falling in love! 
for all that girl thinks about is love and marriage." 


The Lost Viol 

"Poor little dear," sighed Hannah, with a change 
from very gay to very grave : " it is her poor little body 
that's to blame for that, Anne. I believe she is ever 
wondering if everybody finds her as plain as she finds 
herself: the big doubt of her life, that; so she's ever on 
the watch with her sharp grey eyes to solve it one way 
or the other, with a fear of the verdict trembling in 
her poor heart all the time." 

"Hannah, sometimes I believe you see right into 
people's hearts," remarked Anne. 

"Know what's in Kathleen's, anyway," answered 
Hannah with a pleased laugh : " she would give all she 
is worth and a penny more to enter somebody else's 
mind for one minute to watch herself, and, of course, 
she cares most what the male gender thinks of her, so 
every farm-lad she sees, she asks herself, 'How does 
he like me ? ' And to think that she's doomed to stew 
in that pot to the day of her death ! Ah, we ought — " 

A voice from the farmhouse called " Hannah ! " and 
" Coming, mother ! " called Hannah — " no peace to 
the wicked " — and ran away inward. 

The chaise and violinist, meanwhile, had arrived 
before the low front of Orrock with its array of many- 
shafted oriels; whereat Sir Peter, hearing of it, hurried 
from his work of docketing old documents in the 
library, and found Chris Wilson tapping with his foot 
on the floor of the inner hall. 

"You Chris Wilson?" asked Sir Peter, gazing over 
his glasses. 


The Lost Viol 

"The same, sir," answered Chris. 

" Well, what do you want now, sir ? " 

"Absolutely nothing, sir," answered Chris, with his 
meek smile. 

"I don't like erratic persons, sir," said Sir Peter. 
" I don't allow any one about me to be erratic, except 
myself. You promised — " 

"Then you are my own uncle, sir, for I am of 
precisely the same turn of mind myself. If you are as 
erratic as your footman, I have only to wish you a 
good day — " 

"Stop, sir; did you not promise to be here since the 
month of February last?" 

"I'm sure I can't remember, sir. What happened 
in the month of February last are among the things in 
which I no longer take an interest. I am here now; 
let that suffice you." 

" Why, he chooses some of his words something like 
a Frenchman," muttered Sir Peter. "Why on earth, 
sir, didn't you let me know that you were coming ? " 

"Didn't I, sir? I think so." 

"Hm! memory wants brushing up. But, sir — 

" May I remind you, sir, that I am holding an Amati 
fiddle in a terrible draft ? If you invite me to come in, 
I wiU." 

" Then, sir — come in." 

Sir Peter turned inward muttering, and the stranger 
was presently led to his own apartments, whence he 
would not stir for the rest of that day; till late into the 


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night sounds of music — studies in chords, songs — ■ 
were heard coming from behind the locked doors of 
the musician's quarters, so that near midnight Sir 
Peter stamped his list slippers in one of the library 
bear-skins and covered his ears with his palms. 

The next morning there was much ado when Chris 
sent Grimani, his valet, to ask that, since dejeuner was 
to be "breakfast," it should be put off to ten o'clock. 
The baronet at first refused, but yielded afterwards; 
and Chris came down in a better mood, asking as he 
sat to table : " Have I been in this place before, sir ? " 

" I think you have when a boy," answered Sir Peter. 

" Charming place ! Does the whole of this place 
become my property at your death, sir?" 

"No, sir, unless I am foolish enough to die without 
a will; and you should not contemplate my death, sir." 

"God retard it, sir. I don't contemplate it, I only 
conceive it. May you live a thousand years." 

"Hm — and you ten thousand." 

"By the way, sir, was my mother an elder sister of 
yours, or a younger?" 

"You don't know much about your family, my 

" My good sir, if you had ever produced four simul- 
taneous A flats on the violin before the age of, say, 
twenty, you would understand that my time for family 
histories has been short." 

"Why, the fellow takes offence for nothing," thought 
Sir Peter. 


The Lost Viol 

"So you know more about your violin than about 
your mother, sir?" 

" My violin is my wife," said Chris. 

" Got three wives." 

"A full harem, sir! and all are sirens. But was my 
mother older or younger than you ? " 

"Younger, sir." 

'What would be my own age now, sir?" 

"Memory gone crazy!" muttered Sir Peter. 

"I remember my nineteenth birthday," said Chris, 
"my father being then still alive, but since his death 
no one tells me anything." 

'You are now three months over twenty-two, sir." 

" But as to your other sisters, sir, there were — how 
many ? " 

'Your aunts Margaret and Jane, sir." 

"I remember; one married the Marquis de Pen- 
charry-Strannik. And the other?" 

" Jane married an Irish judge named Sheridan." 

"Both dead, sir?" 

'Yes. Your mother, too, is dead, sir." 

" I know it well, sir, for though she died when I was 
quite young, I loved her with enthusiasm. Excellent 
woman! And my two aunts, did they leave behind 
them any family ? " 

"Each left one daughter: Margaret's daughter is 
Yvonne de Pencharry-Strannik whose place, ' Chatcau- 
brun,' is near Toulouse; Jane's daughter is Miss 
Kathleen Sheridan, whose English seat, 'The Hill,' is 


Thb Lost Viol 

not a mile from here. She's pretty sure to come peep- 
ing about here to-day, so you'll see her, if you don't 
lock all the doors of the place.!' 

"Are they charming people, my two cousins?" 

"I know little of Yvonne, though I'm supposed to 
be one of her guardians. She was here five years ago 
when she was sixteen. I believe she's considered a 
beauty, and a leader of fashion in the south of France. 
The other one, Kathleen, is a spiteful little hunch- 

At that very moment the quaint maid herself entered, 
laughing with all her beautiful teeth, while Chris 
rushed headlong from the table to meet her, and hung 
over her hand in a rapture. 

"Heartiest welcomes to Orrock, cousin Chris," said 
Kathleen; "we have not met since you were a little 
thing of six — " 

" That meeting is delightfully stored in my memory," 
murmured Chris. And Sir Peter went, "Hm!" 

"I had no idea that you were come till late last 
night!" said Kathleen, putting her bunch of pink 
hollyhocks and grasses into a china bowl. " Uncle 
Peter, you might have sent to tell one! The difficulty 
now that we have him will be to keep him!" 

She played her fine eyes so coquettishly, that Chris 

"I will stay as long as you wish." 

'That is sweet of you, then. But the wonder is 
that you came! Did Uncle Peter write to ask you? 


The Lost Viol 

He never told me ! If I could flatter myself, now, that 

I was a motive — " 

"Who else?" said he, half with his lips and half 
with his eyebrows. 

The little maid's eyes rested upon him, and she 
thought to herself, " Is not this a dear boy ? " 

" But how are we to amuse him ? " she asked. " He 
won't like wild flowers and sea-bathing^ you know, 
Uncle Peter, nor Friday-night whist-parties, nor the 
county people, nor the Marstons and Iliffes. We must 
have dances — " 

" Can you accompany ? " asked Chris. 

" Why — yes." 

"And excellently, I am certain." 

" Oh, I know that hardly any woman can accompany, 
but you try me and see!" she laughed, half-nervously, 
half conscious of a cleverness that was quite Puck-like. 

But something was not right with the musician's 
chocolate ! he gave one sad look of reproach at Grimani, 
whose clasped fingers were heard to crack for nervous- 
ness; and this for some time threw an awkwardness 
over the breakfast. 

"I don't know how you will find Uncle Peter's 
pianos," said Kathleen when they rose, "but I think 
something of my own grand; better let me take you to 
the Hill at once!" 

Chris let her do this before lunch, and stayed with 
her for hours. The moment he was gone the little 
maid flew to gaze in her mirror at a yellow face wedged 


The Lost Viol 

between high shoulders; she smiled, and her young 
mouth was enclosed in a series of wrinkles, like brackets ; 
she walked, and it was from a waist up at her chest. 
Or perhaps the mirror lied a little to her eyes ? She 
had that doubt, that hope, within her. Chris had 
been meant for her before her birth, and she was born 
like this, if the mirror was quite true. She knew pain 
and fear in that hour. Many had been her loves and 
fevers before, but Chris Wilson compared with other 
men was like a moon wailing music in its orbit, and 
upon him henceforth her ambitious heart was set. 

Nor was she in despair. " He is delighted with me ! " 
she said to one Miss Olivia, her companion at the Hill 
since childhood. " He told me that he had rarely met 
an accompanist who so foreknew the ' history of his 
emotions'; and in going he said, 'Thank you very 
much: you are among the virtuosi.' I never dreamt 
that I could play like that, Olivia; my soul seemed to 
mix with his, and my fingers became his." 

" What a terrible lot of Schubert ! " said Miss Olivia. 
"But do you think Mr. Wilson really great?" 

"Divine, you mean," said Kathleen. "This boy is 
one of the sons of thunder, and lords of the soul, I tell 
you. From the moment his bow touched his Amati's 
sweet, sweet A to his last note, it was all up with me, 
Olivia. Oh, the technicality of his infinite cadenzas, 
his heavenly grace — and his hands ! just made for 
stopping intervals, with two of the fingers quite de- 
formed by his awfully high bridge. I must go out." 


The Lost Viol 

"But it is near dinner-time, and drizzling — !" 

" I don't care, I can't stop in the house." 

It was already dark, but Kathleen went out, and 
within an hour a stable-boy was galloping to fetch 
Dr. Williams to her bedside. 

"Miss Sheridan has seen Shuck, sir," the boy 
answered when the doctor asked what was the matter 
— " Shuck " being the ghost of a headless dog which 
travels furiously across-country from Marsham to St. 
Fay's about that hour. 'Tut, tut," said Dr. Williams, 
"your mistress has caught sight of a white rabbit, 

''Whatever it was," said the boy, "she went out for 
a walk and ran back screaming all the way at the top 
of her voice, and you've got to come at once, doctor, 
for she's very bad." 

Kathleen was subject to these transports and break- 
downs, and for a week she lay tossing, with those two 
images, "Shuck" and Chris Wilson, blazing like 
day-stars in her fever. 

During this time Hannah Langler had been greatly 
exalted, for Sir Peter had" had her to dinner at the 
Hall, and Hannah had heard his whisper at her ear, 
" Mustn't tell you how ugly you are to-night, because 
you are my guest." She was, indeed, from of old, 
quite at home at the Hall, for she would allow no 
hand but hers to make Sir Peter's special pound of 
Jersey butter at Woodside, and liked to bring over 
presents of cream-cheese, lark's eggs, sometimes help- 


The Lost Viol 

ing old Bentley in the management; but dining among 
the great ones was rather another matter. The news 
of a strange creature at Orrock was abroad, the 
" county " was coming to hear him play, and all among 
the "county" Hannah found herself, with a rose in 
her hair, and on her finger that mysterious ring, sent 
her — by whom ? — on her twenty -fourth birthday. It 
was Sir Peter's will. 

" Can you accompany ? " Chris asked her when she 
begged him to play. 

" Oh ! " she laughed, " Hymns New and Old is my 
musical level!" 

"Never mind, I'll play for you." 

He struck round his long Tourte clouds of rosin, 
tossed his hair back, chinned his thick-stringed Ber- 
gonzi, and flooded the drawing-room with Rode's air 
in G. Hannah gazed as if alarmed at something hap- 
pening without or within her, and at one point pressed 
the hand of Mrs. Horsnel, the rector's wife. Chris 
had chosen his fiddle of greatest sonority to move her 
by mere power; and she, too, admitted him, in Kath- 
leen's words, one of the "sons of thunder." 

"Isn't he a dear boy?" murmured Mrs. Horsnel 
when it was all over. 

"Yes," breathed Hannah, like one who sees the sea 
for the first time. 

Some time afterwards when Chris and Sir Peter 
were alone late at night after a card-party, the baronet 
suddenly asked: " What do you think of MissLangler ? " 


The Lost Viol 

" Nice and plump," said Chris. 

" That all you see in her, my friend ? " 

"No, not all, sir. I like her immensely; she has 
both power and charm. How came she by that scar 
on her forehead ? " 

"A little mule in the village which wouldn't let any- 
one ride it ; must take it into her head to tame it — used 
to be a regular tom-boy, got on it barebacked, the 
thing threw her off, and kicked her there." 

'' Well, she seems nice and healthy But the English 
have no instinct for dress. Why on earth should she 
wear her hair brushed back in that fashion ? " 

" Free country, sir. By the way, are you in love with 
the Honorable Edith Cardew ? I have noticed you — " 

"I may have thought of undertaking her conquest, 
sir; it is my habit to be in love, but, frankly, Norfolk 
is not rich in seductions of that sort. I'm afraid I 
must announce my departure, sir. I came for a week, 
and have been here perhaps months now, kept by 
your own good company, and Miss Kathleen's perfect 
accompanying. She is among the virtuosi." 

' You are not — er — taken with Miss Hannah 
Langler, I see, sir." 

'Taken? But stay, stay: didn't you once write me 
something about marrying some one, sir? and wasn't 
this very Hannah Langler the lady in question ? It 
ivas so. I have often wondered what brought me to 
this corner of the world; it was that! You promised 
me some thousands of pounds a year." 


The Lost Viol 

"Well, I've heard of the musician Beethoven for- 
getting his own name, and you are almost as bad. 
You can't think much of money, sir?" 

"On the contrary, sir, I admire gross, handsome 
sums of money to an extent that might be called a 
weakness; I am supposed to be a spendthrift, but I 
throw away only silver: I am pound wise, but shilling 

"So, if you married Miss Langler, it would be for 
the money only ? " 

" Let me see. You know, sir, that on the Continent 
marriages are commercial contracts, and that I have 
a Continental mind; but it should not be difficult to 
me to get fifty wives with far larger dowries than some 
few thousand pounds a year; so that, if I married Miss 
Langler, it would be partly for the money, partly to 
make myself agreeable to a wish of my good Uncle 
Peter, partly because the lady is rather pleasing to my 
fancy, and partly because I don't consider the matter 
of great importance." 

"That ends it, then, that ends it; you take the 
wrong tone, sir, in speaking of that lady," said Sir 
Peter, sniffing one of his dried apples quickly with 
alternate nostrils. "If you think, because you can 
scrape fiddles — " 

"What horror, sir; you know nothing about bowing; 
one does not scrape, one strikes — " 

"Hence the term fiddlesticks, sir," said Sir Peter. 
" I say that if you think you would do Hannah Langler 


The Lost Viol 

an honor in marrying her, then you shall lose her, 
Chris. My proposal to you arose solely from my wish 
to do a great kindness to my sister's son — but I 
despair of making a fellow like you understand what 
you get, if you get her; will have to teach you that her- 
self in time. I know her; have watched her twenty 
odd years; and if you love not only a bright companion, 
but a most faithful hand on your head when it aches, 
will love her. I fancy she's taken with you, fancy so, 
she can't hide much from me, and in that case you are 
in luck's way. And let me tell you, sir, that in mar- 
rying her you marry no farmer's daughter, but a lady 
of ancient lineage and high race — " 

" Ah, I thought there was some mystery — " 
" Not much mystery. I'll tell, on the understanding 
that herself nor any one ever learns facts from you. 
Her father was an old friend of mine " — - Sir Peter 
meant himself, for none but him was Hannah's father 
— " who married a farmer's daughter, and had this 
child by her. My friend's father was a baronet, alive 
at the time of the marriage, marriage had to be kept 
secret, and five months after child's birth its mother 
died, leaving child on its father's hands. Well, my 
friend knew a farmer-couple named Langler in Devon- 
shire, worthy people, who were childless, and deciding 
to bring up his child in the social status of its mother, 
status which he always considered by far the best, he 
fixed upon these Langlers; offered to buy their Devon- 
shire farm from them, and to give them instead the 


The Lost Viol 

large farm they now have here, together with an 
annuity, on condition that they took little Hannah, 
and let it be understood in new county that she was 
their own child. All this arranged by lawyer's-letters, 
and to the present old couple don't know who is 
Hannah's father, though they may suspect, may sus- 
pect. That, at any rate, is all the mystery; baronet's 
daughter instead of farmer's." 

" That makes her all the more interesting, sir," said 
Chris. "I must take the matter seriously, I see. It 
might produce a rather eccentric and pretty effect, an 
English country-girl for one's lawful wife " 



This thing seemed to stick in Chris Wilson's vague 
memory, for three days later he put his cloth hat on 
his curls, and took a stroll to Woodside, where he 
begged Mrs. Langler to take him to Hannah, was led 
upstairs to the foot of a ladder which he climbed, then 
stooped through an opening, and found Hannah in a 
sweet-smelling loft among festoons of apples, thyme, 
and marjoram. She let slip a cry on seeing him, 
rather vexed, and quickly let down her skirt which 
had been pinned up in front. 

" Charming, this place," said Chris, panting. 

"Can't shake hands," said Hannah. "How on 
earth came you up here, so near heaven?" 

"Near Hannah," said Chris, sitting on a tub. 

"Oh! a man may not flirt with his grandmother in 

" But I have come expressly to court you." 

'You mayn't find that all milk and honey, even so 
high up! I could lock you up nicely in here till you 
had done every scrap of this work. I am pretty ruth- 
less, too, if I take a thing into my head." 

"Provided you lock yourself in, too." 


The Lost Viol 

"Ah me, how Somebody finds mischief still. You 
had no right up here, Mr. Wilson." 

"You called me Chris last night." 

"Because you had the heroism to call me Hannah! 
But give him an inch and he takes an ell, of course." 

" L is for Langler. Shall I take a Langler ? " 

"His Majesty is pleased to hunt to-day." 

"I find you admirable." 

"Do you? If Miss Edith Cardew — but I won't 
utter rashness with my lips. Come, work first and 
play after ; help me with these artichokes — " 

"You would not be jealous if you were not in love." 



"But what has brought him here this day, for my 
sins ? I'd as soon think of being in love with the 
Archangel Israfil! Well, no peace to the wicked, I 
suppose — must just make the best of a bad bargain." 

In such talk they spent an hour up there, Chris 
murmuring short remarks with his quiet smile and 
movements of the eyebrows which said for him most 
of the little that he had to say, till he dropped the 
remark, " Seriously, I think of marrying," whereat she, 
with a spin towards him, said quickly: 

" Seriously ? of marrying Kathleen ? " 

"Some one else," said Chris. 

"Ah, well, now that I have the chance I am going to 
say my say about that. You don't mean any harm, 
but you are too friendly with Kathleen, you know. 


The Lost Viol 

Oh! you can't dream what misery you may be making 
for this poor girl, Mr. Wilson! You have a way, for 
instance, of hanging over ladies when you shake hands 
in a sort of silent rapture; but you shouldn't to her. 
Oh, my heart aches! It isn't her fault. Promise me 
this now, and mean it." 

"I like the eyes; nice and clear." 

" Ugh ! it is no good ; he can't be serious. I'd like 
to — beat you ! " 

"Kathleen has nothing to do with the matter. I 
wish to marry you." 

"Oh! that would be nice! to be Mrs. Fiddle!" 

"But seriously." 

"How many strings to your bow, madame? That 
would be nice! With bells on her fingers, and bells 
on her toes, she shall have music — ! " 

" No, but seriously. Will you ? " 

"But you should not say such things, Chris, O, 
you should not, it is not right to me — ! " 

"But don't think that I am jesting. My Uncle 
Peter and I have even spoken together of it." 

"You and Sir Peter have spoken of you marrying 

"Quite true." 

At this Hannah stood silent with her back to Chris, 
dashed away a moisture from her eyes, then with 
instant swiftness was on her knees, fondling his hands, 
saying, "Don't say it, if you don't mean it, dear; mine 
isn't summer-love, but the whole silly Hannah, with 


The Lost Viol 

her heart and everything thrown in, for good. If you 
knew how I have prayed to be saved from loving you, 
for you are like water slipping through one's fingers; 
only an angel could have and hold you. Sometimes 
I've longed to beat you, and smash all the fiddles; 
but tell me once in my ear that you love me, that you 
do love me — " 

Chris smiled with little nods, meaning " yes," saying, 
"I like the hair, quite a burden of womanhood here 
behind, nice and fat," whereat Hannah leapt up with 
rather a sobbing laugh, saying to herself: "It will be a 
work to be Mrs. Fiddle, I know; but I'll tackle it 
gladly, since it is His Will." 

His Will! But while some marriages are made in 
Heaven, some are made on the Continent, and this of 
Chris was rather of this latter type. Hannah, however, 
could dream of no motive, except love, in the mind of 
Chris, for she knew nothing of Sir Peter's hand in the 
matter, and in her joy believed that here was the 
heavenly type. When Chris returned to the Hall, he 
was able to tell Sir Peter that Hannah was willing to 
marry him within four weeks, before Chris should 
quite sicken of Norfolk. 

Hannah had been on the point of becoming a London 
hospital-nurse, but all that was changed now. No 
secret was made of the affair, and the countryside was 
in a state of wonder; old Mr. and Mrs. Langler pon- 
dered it in their hearts; the quaint maid was made ill, 
and when she heard of the dowry that Sir Peter gave 


The Lost Viol 

with Hannah, her amazement went mad. She now 
understood that Sir Peter was the cause of all, and she 
was as angry with the old man as with Hannah. 

Everything was made ready in haste; the five vil- 
lages round Orrock and the coast forefelt what was 
coming; great things were in the air; Woodside no 
more recognized itself; partridge-shooting, dancing, and 
guests were at the Hall, hearing strange music at 

All this, however, was upsetting for Sir Peter, who 
was of a fretful and fidgety build, and delicate in the 
chest. Some days after Kathleen had risen from her 
fever, she came down to the Hall, and found the old 
man in an exhausted sleep. The house-party had gone 
out picnicking, and, hearing this, the little maid had 
wandered in search of Sir Peter to ply him with ques- 
tions about Chris and Hannah. She found him with 
some documents on his knees breathing in sleep among 
the nine thousand volumes which made the fame of 
Orrock; and she made long steps from one white 
bear-skin to another, so as to come softly to him. 

The thought came into her head, "If you slept on 
for a week, our wedding would have to be put off." 

Sir Peter was in a nook, with an oriel window on 
each side of him. Kathleen softly opened a leaf of 
one oriel, and looked out at the autumn sunlight on 
the land. "He always disliked me," she thought, 
"and I have always disliked him for it. Why should 
they dislike me ? I have two eyes, one nose, like human 


The Lost Viol 

beings — perhaps they guess that I am myself, the 
sole of my kind, and that there's something in me that 
rankles and is at war; for it is all a struggle with me 
somehow to hold my poor head above water — a weary 
thing, God knows. Do they see into me at all ? I 
should shriek with shame; but not even God could 
quite know this knot of nerves. Then, if they don't 
guess, why do they dislike me, and make me hate ? 
As to that old man there! I'll look out through that 
other oriel to see the glass-houses." 

She softly opened the oriel on the other side of Sir 
Peter, without closing the first, and looked out anew, 
thinking, " There is quite two acres under glass on this 
side. He is well asleep; that isn't my fault if he sleeps 
where there is a draught, and he hasn't had asthma 
lately, so it is nothing, and not my fault. What could 
have put this marriage into his head ? By what 
witchcraft has Hannah Langler enthralled him to this 
extent? He has a lot under glass over here; there 
must be a dozen gardeners. Not that I should wish 
to harm any one, even it it was in my power. But oh ! 
how I am trembling!" 

She turned inward, and without closing either of 
the windows, fled away over the bear-skins. She 
reached home in such a state of panting and fever, 
that she had to be put to bed, while Sir Peter, for 
his part, slept on an hour in the draft, and awoke 
hoarse. The next morning he did not rise from bed; 
three days later he was so ill, that it was decided that 


The Lost Viol 

the wedding of Hannah and Chris must be put off; in 
a week it was given out by the doctor that Sir Peter 
was dying. 

It was in this state of affairs that old Bentley wrote 
the news to the baronet's niece and "ward," Yvonne 
de Pencharry-Strannik ; and on the ninth evening of 
Sir Peter's illness, Kathleen, walking in Orrock Park, 
heard a voice scream out "Kathleen!" and, looking 
round, saw a chaise with two women, one of whom 
was leaping out to rush to her; in a moment she was 
being kissed by the young marquise, Yvonne. 

"Yvonne! you?" cried Kathleen. 

"It is I! I arrive from Paris," panted Yvonne. 

'You smell of Paris, and of all the scent-bottles on 

"Such an escapade, my dear! I arrive alone with 
my chamber-woman, in order to see our uncle who is 
dying ; is it not that I am good ? " 

"And tall, and astonishing, and most wonderfully 
pretty, Yvonne! It is four years since — ■ You 
know, of course, that your cousin, Chris Wilson, is 

'You yourself, wrote you not to me of it? Am I 
not here? therefore, I knew it!" 

"The darling English that you speak, Yvonne! 
p'tite jaseuse! I believe I could never be jealous of 
you, you are too much like a bird-of-paradise." 

"Oh, no one is jealous of me, my dear, I have too 
good a heart. In effect, I am without a single defect. 


The Lost Viol 

I am rich, I am free, I am pretty, and I have a good 

" Delightful of you to say it ! Are you going to stay 
with me at the Hill — or at the Hall ? " 

" The violinist, where stays he ? " 

"At the Hall." 

"Then, me also, I stay at the Hall." 

" But you have heard that he is to be married ? " 

"I have heard it! And as to the lady, is she charm- 

"A yeoman's daughter, Yvonne — just think! — 
without graces, without beauty. It is such a scandal. 
You have just come in time to rescue Cousin Chris, 
thank Heaven." 

"Oh, the heavy role! I only play in comedy." 

" But you will do this, won't you ? This match is 
all through Uncle Peter, who has taken a crack-brained 
fancy to the girl, and is giving vast sums of money 
with her. Remember that Chris is our cousin, and 
not rich like you and me, so it is our duty to rescue 
him from this mercenary person. All she has is super- 
abundant health and a back-bone — I dislike her. 
Besides, you are about to fall in love yourself, for 
every woman at once says of him, ' What a dear boy ! ' 
He looks so meek and demure, yet one guesses the 
wayward fires in him — " 

"Oh, save me from fires! Chateaubrun is already 
purgatorial ! But if my Uncle Peter dies, Mr. Wilson 
may no more marry — " 


The Lost Viol 

"Uncle Peter won't die. Ah, I couldn't live in 
England afterwards." The little maid said this rather 
to herself, but Yvonne, hearing it, asked: 

'You love much, then, our uncle, my poor Kath- 

Kathleen answered by asking: "Aren't you afraid of 
ghosts, Yvonne?" 

" Ghosts ? Not at all ! " said Yvonne. " In France 
one no longer believes that the spirit lives after death, 
my dear." 

" I don't either, not with my head, but I do with my 
nerves; I know that there are no ghosts, but I live in 
a horrible terror of them, Yvonne." 

"My little cousin droll and dear," murmured 
Yvonne. "But shall we go farther?" 

"Droll and little without being dear," thought 
Kathleen, shrinking on a sudden like the sensitive 

They drove through the darkling park together to 
the Hall, before which they found a knot of men, Chris 
Wilson among them, and with an evil eye Kathleen 
saw Chris start at sight of Yvonne, whom he had never 
met before, and, on being presented, hang over her 
hand in a rapture. Chris had seen nothing French or 
dazzling for months, so Yvonne came like an armed 
man upon him, and he went with her into the Hall 
with quite a new briskness and heat in him (his hair 
lifting in a mass at each step), like a fresh fizzing-up 
and ado in stale-gone champagne. 



" Well, is he a dear boy ? " Kathleen asked Yvonne 
one evening in her laughing way. 

"Of my part, my dear," answered Yvonne, who, 
being in England, duly spoke in Engleesh, " that which 
I repeat to myself is not that he is a dear boy, but that 
he is dear to another. I have a good heart, Kathleen, 
I must not take part in a treason." 

The quaint maid, standing with her hat on beside 
Yvonne, whose yellow hair was being ondules, said 
again, " But is he a dear boy ? " 

" I know nothing of it — there ! Leave me tranquil," 
answered Yvonne. 

" Tranquillity and Chris don't live in the same parish, 

"Oh, pas tant que 9a!" went Yvonne. "And is not 
Miss Langler, of her part, admirable ? Why, you told 
me that she is without charm! Me, on the contrary, I 
find something of even angel-like in her eyes which 
twinkle and smile, and in a certain light on her fore- 

"The beauty of holiness heightened by perspira- 

"Well, for me she is beautiful in her type," said 


The Lost Viol 

Yvonne. "And her devotion to the bedside of our 
Uncle Peter! No one would imagine that she has a 
lover whom she adores. Miss Praed has told me that 
during three days and nights she will not once sleep, 
and still remains gay and fresh; what a Britannic 
physique ! " 

" And if you want to make her your slave for life, just 
tell her 'How splendid and strong you are, Hannah!' 
She is vainer of it than a coquette of her dresses. How- 
ever, it is not her business to nurse Uncle Peter, there 
are the proper nurses; but Hannah knows where her 
nest is feathered." 

" No, she is not mercenary, my dear, I am sure of it. 
But a little jealousy is the salt of country -life, is it not ?" 

" You should be jealous ! " said the little maid with 
lightning eyes. 

"And why?" 

"Isn't there some danger? Do be careful, dear. 
Chris, I can see, likes her racy bell of a tongue with 
its touch of buffoonery, and her warm-hearted moods 
and changes. While she is away from everything at 
Uncle Peter's bedside, you should be specially killing — 

"Oh, as to that, my dear, let neither Miss Langler 
nor you have any delusions," said Yvonne. "It is 
only because I have a good heart." 

" That's where to fire her," thought Kathleen — " in 
her sense of another woman's rivalry: she is more 
emulous than she is lovesick." 

"There! it is finished," said Yvonne before the 


The Lost Viol 

mirror. "Is it not that I am charming to-night? 
Let us descend." 

All day Yvonne would lie torpid, like a Spanish 
woman, but began to brighten up before dinner, and 
shone out at night like a moon, dimming every star. 
Then would be the feast of music in an old drawing- 
room, with a gallery and a chimney-piece made of the 
figures of Alchemy, Astronomy, Justice, and Truth, 
Hannah at such times being mostly absent with Sir 
Peter, who had twice rallied and twice got worse; but 
one night, stealing into the drawing-room and sitting 
apart in shadow with a long cloak on, she saw and 
heard what put her into a heavy mood. Chris and 
Yvonne were sitting together, and Kathleen playing 
a polonaise; when Kathleen rose, Chris said to her, 
"Now, you played that with great fancy and virtu- 
osity," whereat she made a mock courtesy, and glanced 
round to see what everyone was thinking of her. 
Yvonne then said, " Chris wishes that I play with him a 
duet of Spohr, Kathleen, if you will accompany us," 
to which Kathleen answered " Certainly," trying to dry 
her palms in her already wet little handkerchief, for 
these evenings with Chris were to her like the hours 
which go before a death on the scaffold, fierce with an 
inward excitement which was betrayed by her sweating 
palms and the blaze in her eyes. 

The three cousins, Chris, Kathleen, and Yvonne, 
then moved to the piano, Yvonne with Chris's Nicolo, 
and Chris with his loud Bcrgonzi. Hannah's eyes 


The Lost Viol 

smiled with pleasure upon the smart movements of 
Yvonne's body and right elbow, even while the music 
that streamed from Chris brought a tear to her cheek. 
Some genteel hand-clapping went round when it was 
finished; and as the three cousins sat again, Yvonne 
said: "What a violin, this Nicolo! Puff! one may blow 
it into the air; it is nothing but a soul which cries out 
before one touches it." 

" Pity it lacks power in the G," said Chris. 

" Where did you get it, Chris ? " asked Kathleen. 

"A present from the Baronne Veszcolcza, a Hun- 
garian." , 

"Ah, those Hungarian ladies!" said Yvonne in 
French, "they know how to give!" 

"And take," said Chris. 

"Are you going to stick to your Nicolo for concert, 
Chris?" asked Kathleen. 

"Only for chamber-music. I want to get a Joseph 
del Gesu." 

" Rather than a Strad ? " 

" I think so; more carrying and masculine. Paganini 
played one, which I have seen in the Genoa town-hall 
blushing like an angel." 

"Are there many about?" 

"A fair number, with many counterfeits; but you 
know them at once by their grim scrolls." 

" There's a theory that each composer is suited to a 
certain maker," said Kathleen. "Handel to a Strad, 
Mozart to a Maggini — " 


The Lost Viol 

"Oh, I adore Magginis! so full and plaintive," said 

"It is his violas that count," remarked Chris. 

"I have seen one in London," said Kathleen. "A 
queer thing with short corners and upright sound- 

"Delicious orange varnish," said Chris. 

"Sweet! orange and golden; and such purfling." 

"My maternal grandmother brought into our family 
a viol d'amore with seven strings," said Yvonne. "At 
least, they say it is a viol d'amore ; oh, so quaint ! But 
one can induce wonderful arpeggios from it." 

A fourth person now joined in to tell of another viol 
d'amore which he had seen, or thought that he had 
seen, and the talk went on about makers and labels, 
Mittenwald and Cremona, Joachim and Lulli, and, at 
last, about how Calve plays Carmen and how Coquelin 
plays Cyrano, till, dropping into French, it became 
doubly-Dutch to Hannah in her shadow under an old 
gallery; and sitting there with her chin on her palm, 
she became ever more grave, thinking: "What part 
could you take, Hannah, in all that chatter? Oh, I 
see it more every day; it will be a work to be Mrs. 
Fiddle! I shall have to screw all that into my hard 
nut if I am to keep him a year. But there's nothing 
like venturing; it shall be done. French first, then 
music from A to Z." She got up and stole away 
through a little Gothic door as quietly as she had 
come in. 


The Lost Viol 

Just then Chris was murmuring to Yvonne: "Nice 
moonlight, I see; I might take you out to the cliffs." 

Yvonne's eyes mused upon him in a certain French 
way, and her lips formed the word " No," with a smile. 

"It is nothing," said he; "we are now in England, 
not in France." 

"But I am French." 

"Kathleen might come." 

"In that case, perhaps. I wish first to go to my 
Uncle Peter's room, and I may bring back Miss 
Langler to go with us!" 

But at Sir Peter's door Yvonne learned that Hannah 
was not in the house. "I have forced her out for a 
breath of air," said one Miss Praed, a nurse; "she 
will not be back till one o'clock." 

" Is he better now, my uncle ? " asked Yvonne. 

"Yes, I thing it will be all right now. But two 
hours ago it was touch-and-go with him, I can tell 
you. The doctor said that he wouldn't live through 
the night. Miss Langler got on the bed with him 
again, and kept breathing into his mouth." 

" But what could that do to him ? " 

"What good? I don't know. She said that she 
felt impelled to act in that way. Certainly, he rallied 
wonderfully after it, and this is the second time, too. 
Chance, perhaps." 

"Well, tell her, will you, when you see her, that I 
came to see if she wished to go out with me and my 
two cousins," said Yvonne, and ran off to get ready. 


The Lost Viol 

It was eleven o'clock, a full hunter's-moon was abroad 
in the sky, and there could be no stranger stillness than 
that in which the country slept, nothing stirring any- 
where save ground-game, a squirrel in the fir-wood, or 
the white owl on a well in the courtyard of some old 
gabled farmhouse. Without knowing it, the three 
cousins chatted and laughed in lower voices, the moon 
and the earth were in such an elfin tryst. They passed 
by Woodside, lying dark but for one gleam among its 
old trees, then up the lane by cottages of cobble, with the 
mill-house and the lighthouse on the right and left. But 
when they came under the group of Spanish chestnuts 
before St. Peter's churchyard, and could see yonder the 
ruined tower where drowned sailors are laid, the little 
maid was for hanging back, not liking graves and dead 
people, nor had they gone ten steps further when she 
turned white, and whispered " What is that ? " to Chris. 

Chris could see only the graves in their grasses and 
poppies, and one ghost-ship becalmed where the moon- 
shine gloated upon the sea, till Kathleen whispered 
again, " There!" and he now saw at one point among 
the grasses a shade like a sitting form. Wishing to be 
brave, he whispered to the ladies, "You wait here," 
and alone went forward. 

When he had got near enough to the form he saw 
that it was a tall woman seated in the grass in a hooded 
cloak, with her back toward him; just then she was 
gazing up into the sky, speaking aloud to herself, and 
he heard the words: 


The Lost Viol 

"Who God possesseth in nothing is wanting, 
Alone God sufficeth "; 

Immediately afterwards she melted into tears, repeating 
the same words with her brow on a gravestone, and 
was so taken up with her thoughts, that Chris was able 
to lay his lips on her hand before she saw him. 

" Why, it is you ! " said Hannah, leaping up. " I was 
just preparing for a tussle with a ghost." 

"Extraordinary to find you here," said Chris. 

"Oh, I often sit out here late at night. This slab 
here covers the brick grave of your mother's family; 
so here Sir Peter will come some day, and you perhaps, 
Chris, and I, too, now, no doubt, after we have had 
our fling. Meanwhile, it isn't a bad thing sitting out 
on graves. If they make you cold below, they warm 
you up above. I've heard 'em say some things, I can 
tell you." 

Chris laughed at her lively tongue — as near laughter 
as he ever got. 

" But how came you here ? " she asked. " Am I to 
flatter myself that you followed me from the Hall ? 
Say yes." 

"No; I came with Kathleen to see the moonlight. 
Yvonne came, too." 

" Ah, there they are. Let's all run down to the sands 
and have a good romp." 

" But have you had any sleep ? " 

"Oh, I'll sleep to-morrow or some time. Never say 
die when Shuck and all the fairies are about. Look, 


The Lost Viol 

you can even read the names on the gravestones, the 
moon stares so, like a" big baby let loose in a bazaar." 
The other two now came up, and all went downward 
by a path on the cliff-side. Yonder, along the cliffs, 
was to be seen the spot where Mrs. Dawe's cottage 
had been carried away by the landslip a year before, 
when Hannah had rescued Willie Dawe from the 
waves, and, ever vain of her mannish feats, Hannah 
wished now that Kathleen would mention this to Chris ; 
but the little maid was mum as to that and everything 
in this neighborhood of graves. At one place they 
could see a strange thing — coffin-ends sticking out 
from the cliffside, and when Chris asked, "What are 
those things?" Hannah answered, "Coffins! All this 
coast is going, you know; every year the sea wears 
away a bit, like a cake of soap left in a tub of water. 
So many a poor corpse that died on its bed round about 
has found in the end a watery grave." 



" Well, it's all over," said old Mrs. Dene, the house- 
keeper, only nine days after that moonlit midnight in 
the churchyard and on the sands. "And it has been 
like a whirlwind, hasn't it? Perhaps one may have a 
little peace now." 

"Hasn't Sir Peter been splendid?" answered Miss 
Praed, the nurse. "To think that only ten days ago 
he lay at death's door, and there he is now in his white 
waistcoat, looking as hard and dry as a pebble." 

"But he doesn't believe that his recovery will last 
long," said Mrs. Dene, " and I believe that that's why 
he insisted on hurrying on the wedding. Well, it has 
been a trying time for us all. My dear, you can't 
realize the strangeness of this marriage, not being one 
of us. To me it is like some great dream — " 

"But why so strange? They make a fine match," 
said Miss Praed. " He just wanted some one like Mrs. 
Wilson to keep him in order — " 

' Yes ; but if you had told me four months ago that 
some day Hannah Langler might come to the Hall to 
eat her wedding breakfast, I should have thought you 
crazy ! It is true that Sir Peter always had a sneaking 
liking for her; used to whisper into her ear, 'Well, 


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uglier than ever, I see ' — he said it to-day again, I 
think, as they were sitting to the breakfast — but those 
were about the only words he addressed to her for 
years. She used to bring round a special pound of 
butter every three days, but seldom saw Sir Peter, 
though I have caught him prying after her from a 
library window. At any rate, no one could possibly 
have foretold all this sudden — And yet, do you know, 
Hannah has latterly been receiving rich birthday pres- 
ents from some mysterious quarter? Perhaps Sir 
Peter — I don't know what to think ! " 

"But what a jolly bride!" said Miss Praed. "Be- 
tween -maid Jane says that early this morning you could 
hear her clear voice singing hymns a mile from Wood- 
side. Did you notice her cry once, though, during the 
service ? " 

" Did she cry, really ? " 

" Aye, she did — was going to, anyway — he was 
just putting on the ring — and I saw her face work, 
but she made a fight for it, and pulled through dry- 

"And hasn't she been blooming ever since, to be 
sure ! " 

" Hasn't she ? I followed her out when she went to 
the villagers' marquee; she sat at one of the tables, 
and in five minutes had the lot of them in fits of laughter 
at her jokes and stories. She is a wonderful mimic 
and romp." 

"Always was. But, between us, isn't our highly- 


The Lost Viol 

gifted bridegroom just a little — how shall we put it 
— absent-minded ? " 

"It strikes me that Mr. Wilson's eyes have been 
following another woman more often than his wife 
to-day!" said Miss Praed, bluntly. 

'The marquise has looked sweet, it must be ad- 
mitted," said Mrs. Dene. " What a costume ! and her 
manners have a certain absolute bouquet, to which, I 
think, none of our ladies ever attains: there's an equal 
distinction in each case, but mademoiselle's has, be- 
sides, a naturalness, an easy worldliness — the differ- 
ence between very old wine and wine not so old. One 
can't blame the men: I've wanted to take her in my 
arms myself." 

"But a man should be in love with his bride," said 
Miss Praed. "I'd just like to give the genius a piece 
of my mind in some quiet spot! I had a suspicion of 
something before, but to-day it was as plain as a 
pike-staff. And his poor, dear bride, for all her sharp 
eyes, quite unconscious of everything! Oh, it puts me 
in a rage!" 

"And what a day of mishaps," added Mrs. Dene, 
"all through our gifted bridegroom. First, the lack 
of a frock-coat, then the forgotten ring, then the missing 
of the train — " 

The two gossips drew back from a rush of dancing 
couples sweeping past them. The married pair had 
started off on their honeymoon at four-thirty, but half- 
way to the station had turned back when Hannah's 


The Lost Viol 

watch showed that the train must be already gone 
— this lateness being due to the violinist's practise 
after the "breakfast," for five hours' practise a day 
was his habit, and for lack of it he had felt like 
a fish out of water, wedding or no wedding: so he 
had missed his train, as fiddlers do; and when the 
carriage came back amid laughter, the evening had 
been turned into a romp-ball, many of the guests stay- 
ing on. 

Mrs. Praed and Mrs. Dene were still deep in their 
gossip when Kathleen in pink crepe came making her 
way among the dancers, to ask Mrs. Dene if she knew 
where Yvonne was. Yvonne was out on a balcony 
among some men, and out there Kathleen, taking her 
aside, said at her ear: "Yvonne, Chris pleads for one 
last word with you." 

"Kathleen, I cannot," was the sad answer. 

" He is pacing about a corridor up there like one out 
of his mind. We can't let him suffer like that, dear. 
He says he didn't realize that he really loves you till 
this afternoon when you pinned the flower in his coat 
and he smelled your hair, and he says that music will 
be hateful to him, if you don't do something to cool 
his fever. Grimani tells me that he has dashed down 
his Nicolo, and broken one of the blocks. A boy is a 
strange mechanism, Yvonne, and this is the wildest 
and dearest of them all. Come. Won't you have pity 
on poor Cousin Chris ? " 

" Alas, my dear, what can I do there ? " said Yvonne 


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with a sad naivete. "I too am enamored, and what 
may not happen if I go to him ? " 

"Never mind, only come, and leave the rest to 

"And this is his day of marriage, mon Dieu, mon 
Dieu ! Where, then, is his wife at present ? " 

"Wife, indeed! If she is his wife, it is you who 
are to blame, Yvonne, for I warned you. Why, she 
isn't even jealous of you; she thinks that he is 

"Oh, as to that, no woman has the right to be so 
unconscious! But if I go, it is on the condition that 
you assist at the interview, Kathleen." 

" Come, then." 

But no sooner had they come to Chris, than Kathleen 
left Yvonne with him, though she hid behind the 
pedestal of a statue near enough to hear. The corridor 
was dim, but still the meeting there was most impru- 
dent, seeing that in a bedroom not twenty yards away 
old Mrs. Langler was busy round Hannah, putting her 
in a gown, packing, hinting, fussing, with the tears and 
petty ministries of mothers at such a time. It was 
near eleven o'clock. In the morning Chris and 
Hannah were to depart for the Continent. 

The French "interview," meantime, went on in the 
corridor, Yvonne touching her eyes with her handker- 
chief, her face turned from Chris, he in a grande passion, 
pleading, while the little maid peeped with an evil eye. 
To most things that Chris said Yvonne replied ruefully : 


The Lost Viol 

"But your wife, mon ami, your wife. I have a good 

"But one is not expected to be in love with one's 
wife ! " cried Chris. " Certainly not on the first day of 
marriage! I do her no wrong: it is the custom of the 
world, except in this quixotic country of Quakers. 
Why am I to be different from every one, merely 
because my parents were English people? / am not 

" Oh, but she is, mon ami. She expects you to love 
her, I am certain of it," said the rueful Yvonne. 

"And I do love her very much," said Chris. "Dear 
excellent girl ! But as a wife only, not, of course, as a 
sweetheart. How can I, when I am in flames for you ? 
At least give me some hope. Promise to see me in 

" Mon ami, no — no, mon ami. Oh, Chris, let us 
love henceforth apart and in silence, carrying, each of 
us, the image of the other as a holy and sad symbol in 
the soul." 

" You do love and pity me, then, Yvonne ? Tell me 
how much you pity me," said Chris. 

"Mon ami, you know well that I love you with all 
my heart." 

" But what shall I do ? How can I sleep to-night ? 
How am I to practice to-morrow ? I seem to be in the 
greatest trouble! I have eaten very little. Can't 
anything be done for a poor man ? " 

Yvonne's cheeks dimpled into a smile. "The rem- 


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edy is even more abstruse than the disease is painful," 
she said. 

" Could you not come with me and Hannah on our 
honeymoon ? " asked Chris. " You could come in our 
train to-morrow — " 

"Heaven! what a proposition," murmured Yvonne, 
casting up her eyes. "You see, you are only a dear, 
spoilt child. No, mon ami, I must go now; your wife 
awaits you, Chris. But see, since my woman's heart 
is weak, I give you one proof, the last forever." 
Holding his face between her palms, Yvonne kissed 
him with a tender chastity on the lips, once and once 
again. Chris took those kisses with a blessed face, and 
was about to clasp her, but her caress all at once changed 
into a smart escape down a near stairway, whereat he, 
left alone, leant his forehead on the arras, and shed 
some tears. 

Hannah, meantime, as Yvonne had truly remarked, 
awaited her husband in a boudoir of the suite which 
the married couple were to occupy for the night. She 
believed that he was still at the ball, and wondered 
that he was slow in coming, for he had said that he 
would be with her soon. She sat on a footstool in a 
flowing robe, her ears on the alert, thinking that this, 
then, was how it felt to be a married woman. All that 
day she had been riding on some dream-whirlwind — 
she saw it now, looking back — and marriage was going 
up in a balloon ! But in a few days she would be on 
good old terra firma, and the old Hannah once more. 


The Lost Viol 

"Only be with me," she murmured, "only let Thy 
strength be perfect in my weakness." 

But Chris did not come. Mrs. Langler, who could 
not be got rid of so soon, peeped in with the awful 
whisper, " Isn't he come ? " 

"He will soon come, mummie," said Hannah. 

Ten minutes later Chris entered, and Hannah was 
up to him, saying: "At last! They have hardly let 
you speak ten words with me all day. But now I'm 
the woman in possession. Shall I lock all the doors 
of the cage ? Shall I ? But, then, how will the dishes 
be brought in ? You must be hungry and tired, too." 

A table stood laid for two near an apple-wood fire. 

"I can't eat," said Chris with a forlorn smile, kissing 
her on each cheek. 

" Oh, I have set my mind on our supper for two, so 
it must be. What a day of strain — the fierce light 
that beats upon a bride — I don't think that marriages 
should be so public. But now I feel in a nice harbor, 
with my captain on board, and the everlasting hills 
round about. Say that you will eat something, and 
I'll ring : who is it that would do anything to please me ? " 

"I, I think." 

"Cool as a cucumber with eyebrows! genius gone 
weary! but so dear, so dear." 

" Do you love me, Hannah ? " 

"There, he asks me that. It is the one duty which 
I perfectly fulfil: even in God's delicate scales I love 
you as much as I ought to." 


The Lost Viol 

"You are very good. I'm most fond of you, too. 
But my dear girl, I am enerve. I can't feel musically; 
I am hungry, yet can't eat; I don't seem to want to 
smoke; no one seems to know what to do for me." 

Chris threw himself upon a sofa, and Hannah, 
petting his hands, said: "You want a good sleep, that's 
it; we won't eat anything, then, but I will make you a 
nice glass of syllabub, and put you to bed ; then I shall 
brush your hair till you go to sleep, and watch over you 
all night." 

"I couldn't sleep, you know. I seem to be in the 
greatest trouble." 


"Perhaps the good people oughtn't to have made 
me marry, Hannah. I shall probably make every one 
unhappy. I have begun badly already — " 

" But what is it ? " asked Hannah in a state of aston- 
ishment. Made you marry, Chris ? How have you 
begun badly already? If you mean missing the 
train — " 

"No, don't ply me with questions. You are the 
last that I should tell, perhaps." 

At this Hannah did not say anything, but kissed his 
hand, took off his boots quickly, ran and put on his 
slippers; then, sitting again on the footstool, said, 
"Shall I make the syllabub first, or will you tell me 
first ? " 

" You had better not know, perhaps," said Chris. 

"Yes, I had," said she, "and there's no way of 

[ 53 ] 

The Lost Viol 

escape ; you are hemmed in between the back of a sofa 
and a curious woman, so it may as well come first as 

"You would only make a conjugal scene, and give 
me a headache. I wish I was in Paris or somewhere. 
This place has brought me into foolish embarrass- 

"But tell me; there's nothing like making a clean 
breast of things; tell Hannah. That's what I am for, 
you know, to bear everything of yours. I'm the sea; 
you can't put too much into me. I'll either bear or 
swallow the lot. Conjugal scene indeed! I am such 
a little pet, aren't I ? That is just why I can't stand 
women, because they are all so puny and silly. Come, 
better tell. I can't guess — yet I thought I knew you 
all through — " 

"I'm afraid I shouldn't tell you; and yet it might be 
better, for I suppose you will find out. My dear girl, 
I am in love." 

" And not with me ? " 

"My poor— " 

" Not with me, Chris ? not with me ? on my wedding 

"Oh, I am most sorry!" 

" Why, — " her head bent down upon Chris's leg 
while he, murmuring over her, kissing her hair for 
some time, but soon changing to peevishness again, 
said, " I knew that you would make a scene." 

At this she was up on her feet, and old Mrs. Langler, 


The Lost Viol 

peeping from the inner room on hearing a river of 
words, saw Hannah, tall and bright, striding up and 
down, pouring out her anger against some "she": 
it was all " she " — she going about like some one with 
the measles, spreading mischief and vanity, doing evil 
continually and not good — she using her God-given 
beauty and trumpery arts as a poison, not as a medi- 
cine, of life — and so on. It all fell upon the head of 
the poor Yvonne, who had done her best, or her second- 
best, to be good, while the guilty Chris got off without 
any blame. Hannah had never been jealous of 
Yvonne — for strong natures are little given to jealousy 
— but at once now by a flash of instinct she knew that 
Yvonne was the canker, without needing for Chris to 
name Yvonne. 

"It is not Yvonne's fault," Chris managed to say 
in the midst of her flow of words; but this only stung 
Hannah the more, that he should defend Yvonne; and 
" Horrid Frenchwoman ! " she said, with a touch of bile 

But in the very middle of a sentence her stream of 
words dried up; she turned to a window and stood 
there some minutes, humming to herself, playing a 
tune on the window-pane, till, with sudden swiftness, 
she was sitting on the footstool again, saying to Chris, 
"Let's shake hands!" 

"We are friends for life now, Chris," said she, 
"and nothing can alter that; cut me into ten bits, and 
in each bit you'll find a friend cropping up: friends 


The Lost Viol 

first, and other things after. So tell me everything, 
and then we shall know how to go on. First of all, 
are you very badly in love?" 

" I'm afraid I am," answered Chris with a troubled 
brow. "I am like that, I suppose: I go crazy after 

" That's the genius maggot, you see. But ah, Chris, 
an ounce of good conduct is worth a pound of genius, 
believe me." 

"You are very likely quite right. Perhaps, if the 
truth were known, I am not at all worthy of you." 

"No, don't say that to me, dear: it is because of my 
utter unworthiness of you that this has come about. 
But what I want to know is, why did you wish to 
marry me in the first place? Did you love me, and 
then change? and if so, oh, why didn't you give me 
some hint of it, even one day before our marriage? 
Then I should have saved you." 

"My Uncle Peter hurried on everything so bewil- 
deringly," answered Chris; "and it is only this after- 
noon that I began to be so much in love." 

"Oh!" cried Hannah with a laugh, 'only this 
afternoon.' It is the Frenchwoman's bridesmaid's 
dress that you are in love with! I believe that J am 
the true love, really. Hers is only passion, not love." 

" What difference between passion and love ? " asked 
Chris. "That is one of those quixotic phrases which 
you English trot out so confidently, as though there 
were the least reason in them. Love is a passion." 


The Lost Viol 

"At any rate," said Hannah, "haven't you been in 
love like this before?" 

" Never half so seriously, I'm afraid." 

"You have. This only seems more serious because 
it is the last; it will pass in its turn, and the everlasting 
Hannah will remain. Did I ever tell you about Mrs. 
Simpson in the village and her son ? She lives apart 
from her husband, and her son, Fred, a ne'er-do-well 
working at Wardenham, comes to see her once a month. 
So the first time he came, she asked, ' How are you 
going ? ' and when he answered ' Grand, mother,' she 
said, 'Well, better go and tell that to your father, I 
want none o' you here'; second time it was the same, 
' Grand, mother,' and ' Go to your father'; third time he 
said, 'I've broke my arm, mother, and lost my job.' 
'Well, come in, boy,' she said, 'you've got nothing for 
a father now, but a mother's gratis.' Well, that's 
Hannah, gratis, whenever you need her, as you will. 
But meantime, whose side, Chris, do you mean to 
take in the fight between that woman and me?" 

"Is there a fight?" 

"To the death!" 

"Then I will take your side, if you tell me what 
you wish. But be sure that I shall never cease to be 
in love with Yvonne." 

"Oh, I shall have you all straight in three weeks. 
You would cease to-night, if I showed her to you with 
her hair all shaved off. So you must help me by prom- 
ising, firstly, not to see her again without my leave." 


The Lost Viol 

"She won't let me see her." 

" Won't she ? She ought to be ashamed of herself for 
her miserable lack of self-restraint! Yes, she will, fast 
enough, if she gets the chance. So promise me that." 

"Well, I'll try to keep from seeing her." 

" That's a brave. You see, you do love me, or you 
could never be so dear and good to me. So promise 
me, secondly, not to go away from me. Promise me 
that. Of course, we can only live together on a footing 
of friendship — " 

"Perhaps we had better part, Hannah. It would 
be most awkward — " 

"It will be awkward for us both, but awkwardness 
is always the wages of some one's kicking over the 
traces, and I am prepared to put up with it, if you will. 
I foresee that that will be best all round: so say yes 
for me." 

'Well, perhaps I had better do as you wish. I 
believe in your wisdom and goodness. But better let 
me think it out first for myself. Perhaps I could 
smoke. I will put on my boots, and walk out in the 
park; early in the morning we will talk again. You 
ought to go to bed, I suppose. Oh, I am in the greatest 
trouble now, on both our accounts. I had no right in 
this place, — " etc., etc. 

'That one yonder is your room," said Hannah. "I 
will tell Grimani about the lights, and leave the syllabub 
on this table. All else is ready for you. Good night, 
Chris : I hope for better — " 


The Lost Viol 

She could say no more, and his back was hardly 
turned when all her strain and self-rule tottered and 
was half in ruins. Stumbling to the frightened Mrs. 
Langler, she said in a weak voice, " Mummie, I am 
not well to-night," and gave way to a sob on the old 
lady's bosom. 

Chris, meantime, went down by a back stair to 
think out alone the question of parting or not parting 
from Hannah. Down there in a shrubbery stood 
Kathleen, gazing up at the windows of the married 
couple : and she, seeing Chris come out, followed behind 
some way, and then joined him. 



In that doubly-locked journal of hers the little maid 
wrote some days later: 

"I was hiding on the wedding-night near those 
three steps at the chapel-side, watching to see the 
shadow of Chris or Hannah pass by their windows. 
It was after eleven. I was all trembling with cold, 
but enjoyed the suffering in that physical way. For 
a long time I saw nothing. Lights were going out 
here and there in the windows. Bentley came to 
the door opening upon the little courtyard by the 
housekeeper's room, shutting up for the night. The 
guests had mostly gone to bed. One could still see 
the glare on Frean Hill of the wedding bonfire. 
There was a bright half-moon, and a frost. Once I 
saw Hannah's shadow at a window; she must have 
stayed there five long minutes. How I wondered and 
hoped then ! Since she was alone there, I guessed that 
she had found out everything from Chris's manner, 
and had made a row. I prayed from my heart that 
he would leave her straight away, before she could 
have the triumph of sleeping once with him. What 
a darling thing is marriage, after all ! Those windows 
were to me the windows of the seventh heaven, from 


The Lost Viol 

which I was shut out in hell. Yes, I suffered. But 
the battle is not to the strong, but to the fin. 

"After seeing Hannah at the window, I waited on 
about fifteen minutes, when the door which Bentley 
had just bolted was undone, and, to my wonder and 
joy, out came Chris. He looked strange to me in his 
frock-coat, more stout and heavy ; his hair fell rumpled 
over his shoulders, he had no hat, and was smoking a 
cigar. I thought I must die for the shocking, slow 
thumps of my heart. But I would not let him out of 
my sight, for I thought, 'I have him now, and if he 
ever goes back to Hannah, I must in truth be a paltry, 
feeble being.' He went westward, and I followed till 
we were between the rhododendrons and Embree Pond : 
then all at once I found myself saying to him, 'Well, 
Chris, this is not well, a bridegroom wandering alone 
on his wedding night. I am so sorry for you! I 
assume that there has been a row.' 

"'Not at all,' he answered. 'I have told Hannah 
everything, but she took it beautifully. I am most 
wretched, Kathleen. I think Hannah the most perfect 
lady I ever met.' 

"I thought to myself, 'Present company not ex- 
cepted ' ; and I thought, too : ' He would soon get fasci- 
nated by her like the rest of them, if he once lived with 
her.' So I said: 'Yvonne isn't in bed yet; shall I try 
to induce her to come out here to you to hold another 
consultation ? ' 

"'Do you think she'd come?' he asked quickly. 


The Lost Viol 

* That would be splendid of you ! But then, I promised 
Hannah not to see her.' 

" ' But surely,' I said, ' that is no promise, to promise 
the impossible. You would go mad, if you kept it, 
for I know men, they go mad if they don't have what 
they want, especially geniuses like you. People think 
that I am a foreigner in the world, Cousin Chris, an 
outsider who can make only purblind guesses at the 
nature of others; but, really, I am just like everybody 
in every respect, though it is sad to be even thought 
outside the pale.' 

"'Never mind, never mind,' said he twice, patting 
the hunch. But why, why should I have said all that 
about people thinking me different ? It was so dragged 
in! He must have guessed at once that it is I who 
know myself to be different, and only spoke out of the 
fulness of my own heart; and when I said 'I am like 
everybody, and so can guess their nature,' he must 
have thought instantly, 'It is because she is not, that 
she is so eager for me to think that she is.' And to 
say ' in every respect like every one ' ! I wonder if he 
thought that indelicate? He must have understood 
that I wished to reassure him as to my completeness in 
case he ever wishes to marry me. Oh, God, how I 
have betrayed myself to Chris on every occasion, if he 
has the least insight! I can't help it. In his presence 
I get into such a stew, my hands become like wet rags. 
I say out the first thing that rises to my tongue, re- 
vealing to him my inmost nature, and then I hurriedly 


The Lost Viol 

cover up my blurtings with obvious lies and half-lies 
and turns of meaning; and afterwards what tortures 
in grieving over every word that I have said, and in 
seeing too late what I might have said! That day 
when I drew the caricature of him in his presence in 
my sketch-book, shall I ever cease to feel the bliss and 
shame of it ? I did it in a few strong lines, and he took 
up this bony hand and said, 'This hand has craft; you 
are one of the artists'; then, slowly, he pressed his lips 
on it. Lord, how it poured from every pore of me. 
I laid my head on his shoulder, and fainted. Oh, 
Chris, what did you think of me then ? Did you not 
kiss me once while I slept in you ? 

'With regard to his promise to Hannah not to see 
Yvonne, I said to him: 'But you should not help a 
woman for whom you have no regard against Yvonne, 
who loves you too. Better let me run and fetch her.' 

" At this he got into a sudden temper, dashing down 
his cigar, and crying out, 'But, good God, can't you 
let me be ? I tell you I made a distinct promise ! Do 
you all wish to drive a poor man m-m-mad ? ' 

"I was so startled, that all I could find to say, very 
foolishly, was: 'This is all due to Uncle Peter.' I had 
no wish to drive a poor man m-m-mad; but I suppose 
he was irritated by my tempting him to do what he 
was longing to, yet could not do, because of his pledged 
word to Hannah. He seems to be a stickler for what 
he would call 'his honor.' Men must have been 
originally made on the moon, or else / was. 


The Lost Viol 

"'What I came out here for,' Chris next said, 'was 
to think out alone the question whether I am to live 
with Hannah, or what to do.' 

'If you wish to be alone,' Chris, you have only to 
say so,' I said. 

Mmm,' he went, with his murmur of pitying good- 
nature, 'my own dear friend, forgive my peevishness, 
and stay by my side, I beg. You see what a plight I 
am in. If it was any one but Hannah, I shouldn't care 
in the least, for really a wife has no claim upon the 
amorous longings of a husband. But Hannah is a 
personality apart: her pain seems to wound me in a 
wonderful way, and it is keener, I know, than she has 
wanted me to guess. She still wishes to live with me 
on a footing, as she says, of friendship — ' 

"'But the false relation, Chris,' I murmured. 

; ' Grotesquely false,' said he, ' in the case of an 
English wife. Still, I somehow feel a longing to please 
her, Kathleen.' 

" I began to see now that, if I was to keep him from 
her, it must be by showing that the separation would 
be for Hannah's good, as well as his own; so I set to 
work. By this time I was not so excited, and I brought 
out my arguments, and pleaded so well, that I actually 
began to feel like Hannah's best friend, for one must 
either speak as one feels, or else feel as one speaks. 
I wonder if I should have made a great actress, a great 
anything, if I had tried. There is something special 
somewhere in the little box. But perhaps everything 


The Lost Viol 

in me faltered and went crooked in sympathy with my 
back. At any rate, I shed tears, and enjoyed them, 
when I spoke of 'the tragedy of poor Hannah's life'; 
I showed that if he lived with her, that would only be 
making her ' pain ' permanent, which time would other- 
wise heal. 'Don't see her even once again,' I pleaded; 
' you still have time to catch the twelve-thirty train — ' 

" ' But what will the good people think ? ' he asked. 

'"Oh, Chris, which good people?' I said to him. 
'How can that matter, when your life, and the life of 
poor Yvonne, and of poor dear Hannah, are all at 
stake ? If you mean Uncle Peter, hasn't it all happened 
through his own quixotic folly? Let him bear the 
consequences; an old man's feelings are not to be 
considered as against the lives of three young people. 
Go now: don't let us waste the precious minutes in 
talk. From what I know of Hannah, she will certainly 
try to find you, but if you make that impossible by 
merely going under another name for say six months, 
by then all will be well. Don't let a soul know where 
you are, except me — not even Yvonne, if you can 
help it, for you know her 'good heart,' and she may 
think it her duty to tell Hannah. If you would like to 
hear from time to time how your wife is getting on, I 
will meet you anywhere in England or France, as often 
as you please, to tell you; or I could even let you know 
by letter, if you are not anxious to see me.' So I 
kept on, heaping words upon him, and it is pretty 
easy to throw dust in his eyes and persuade him, when 


The Lost Viol 

he isn't being hurried the opposite way by one of his 
heats. He walked by my side staring on the ground, 
his forehead all puckered with perplexity. At last he 
said, 'But could I get off without being seen and 
worried ? ' 

"'Easily,' I said. 'You can leave Grimani behind 
till to-morrow, when I will tell him where to join you. 
We won't take a carriage from the Hall stables, but one 
of my own.' 

'"But my violins,' he said with a start. 

" ' Can't you leave them for one day ? ' I asked. 

'"I couldn't!' he said. 

" ' Then I will run now into the house, and get them,' 
I said promptly, to save more words. 

" ' But I must write a line of farewell to Hannah — ' 
he began to say ; but I cut all that short — no time, no 
time. 'Come, Chris,' I said, 'it is now or never: 
aren't you decided to go ? ' 

'"Yes, quite,' he said; and from that moment he 
became as eager and breathless as I was. He ran half 
of the way back to the Hall with me, then I showed him 
Hewersfield Lane, and told him to wait for the carriage 
at Shooen's Clause. After watching him start up 
Hewersfield Lane, I ran my fastest to the Hall, then 
in by the little courtyard door, and flew to find Gri- 
mani. I found him on a sofa in Chris's private sitting- 
room; he couldn't have long come back from the 
bride's suite, I think, yet he was certainly drunk: not 
with alcohol, though — some other drug. I panted to 


The Lost Viol 

him, ' Quickly Grimani, give me Mr. Wilson's hat and 
three violins,' and that man looked at me, and went 
off into the sweetest, scornfulest chuckling. I'm sure 
I never heard laughter so pure, so full of delight. I 
understood at once that it must be due to some drug, 
but oh, I was cross ! However, I hunted out for myself 
all the fiddles and the old cloth hat, Grimani laughing 
for joy at me all the time, and with them I flew. Only 
fifty minutes were left before the last train, and I 
have never got home from the Hall so quickly. I ran 
direct to the stables, knocked up everybody, ordered 
the brougham, then into the house, woke up Olivia, 
borrowed five pounds from her, then back for the stables. 
I met the brougham coming, got in, and drove fast to 
Shooen's Clause. 

"Chris was there, waiting by the hedge-gate. I 
beckoned in advance, and he got in as the carriage 
stopped. I was all but mad with haste and excitement 
there alone with him in the dark of the brougham; and 
how I loved him then! I wanted to go with him to 
the world's end, at least to the station; but I didn't 
dare. Little time was left. 'You have only nineteen 
minutes to get to Wardenham in,' I said to him. ' Here 
are the violins, your hat, and some money to pay your 

"He pressed my hand, saying, 'You are a treasure; 
you forget nothing.' 

"Tell me where Grimani is to join you to-morrow*' 

'"Say at the Langham Hotel in London.' 


The Lost Viol 

" * And you will write me soon ? You promise ? ' 

" ' Can you doubt it ? ' 

"Then all at once my heart and soul were in my 
mouth, for I found myself saying: 'Good-by, Cousin 
Chris, kiss me.' I felt as if I had cast myself into an 
abyss and was falling forever, with something whis- 
pering at me, ' Suppose he won't ? ' It seemed an age 
before he kissed me on each cheek French-fashion. 
If I could only have been satisfied with that! but I 
went crazy for more while I had him at that last 
moment of parting, and I fastened my lips to his, and 
couldn't stop, but kept on. He dared to draw back 
from me. At least, I think so. I have an impression 
that I was irksome to him, that he felt sick at that 
sort of kiss from me. Oh, may thunder crush me, 
since shame doesn't kill! After that I knew no more, 
till I found myself lying near the hedge, the brougham 
gone. I don't remember getting out. 

"I came back home, they put me to bed, and I 
slept from sheer exhaustion. The next morning I took 
one of my long early rambles, and gathered a fine lot 
of grasses for my botany-table; came home laughing, 
and Olivia said, 'Why, you are looking as fresh as a 
rose this morning.' Yellow roses, my Livie. She 
didn't know what was in me. I asked for news from 
the Hall: she hadn't heard, and I was impatient, so 
drank just a cup of coffee, and went down. It was 
only just eight. No one was down. I walked about 
the breakfast and morning rooms, waiting. Bentley 


The Lost Viol 

and some men-servants came and went. Presently in 
looked the white face of Mrs. Langler, and vanished. 
Ten minutes later I heard Uncle Peter's cough on the 
front terrace. He had been out for a walk; I saw 
him in his muffler and top-hat, talking with his head 
gardener. On coming in, he walked straight into the 
morning room; must have been surprised to see me, 
looked at me rather strangely under his eyes without 
saying anything; I don't know what he could have 
been thinking of. He always disliked me, and I have 
disliked him since he fell ill this last time, for it isn't 
any one's fault if he is weak in the chest. There are 
things which will not be written : only the heart treasures 
them. Heaven only grant that he doesn't die for many 
a long day: I couldn't ever be alone after dusk. 

"I had just begun to laugh and say something to 
him, when Mrs. Langler came in, smiling, but horridly 
agitated. ' Well,' muttered Uncle Peter, ' how's bride ? ' 
'I was looking everywhere for you, squire,' said she. 
'Well, well,' muttered Uncle Peter, 'fine morning for 
first winter-sowings.' 'Squire, I have to tell you that 
the married pair are gone.' 'Gone, gone,' muttered 
Uncle Peter, 'gone where?' 'Gone off to London, 
squire,' said she. ' What, what,' he muttered, ' Hannah 
gone without telling me good-by ? ' ' Oh, forgive her, 
squire,' she said, beginning to cry, 'all's not well.' 
'All not well? What's the matter now, what's it, 
what's it?' muttered Uncle Peter. 'Well,' said she, 
' Miss Kathleen here being one of the family, one may 


The Lost Viol 

speak before her: they haven't gone together, squire, 
for all's not well. Mr. Wilson went away last night, 
and Hannah followed by this morning's train. Not 
that any one need know it, but they haven't gone 
together, squire. He left her at eleven last night, 
didn't come back, and I couldn't get Hannah to go to 
bed. At three in the morning she went to his apart- 
ments, and found out that he was gone away. From 
then to a quarter past six she sat without saying a 
word, until she said, 'I shall be starting for Paris by 
the first train, mother, to look for my husband.' I 
went on my knees to her, squire, beseeching her only 
to wait and consult you ; but you know that one might 
as well pray to the tides as beg that girl to alter her 
mind. She's gone, Hannah's gone. I wanted to wake 
you up, but she wouldn't let me. She started on foot 
for Wardenham at a quarter to seven with nothing 
but a small bag. She left this note for you, squire.' 

'The note trembled in Uncle Peter's hand, and I 
thought to myself, ' You see now, you see, what mischief 
you have done by your quixotism'; yet I couldn't help 
pitying him. I don't know why he took it with such 
frightful agitation. I heard him read three half-sen- 
tences half aloud: 'Gone to look for him,' and 'Do 
forgive him,' and 'He is as good as gold'; then all at 
once, before he had read all, the awful thing came: 
his mouth seemed to go crooked, and he staggered 
half-way round the table, struggling to keep up, but 
apparently without power on the left side, then gave 


The Lost Viol 

in and sank down, bawling out something. It made 
me feel sick, his vain struggle to manage his left leg. 
But I was pretty brave, I didn't run, I stood over him 
while Mrs. Langler ran, calling out; his hat lay on 
the floor near him, the letter still in his right hand; 
his sick eyes seemed to dwell on my face. 

"He was taken away in the middle of a crowd of them, 
and I sat there for hours, staring before me. Quite 
an ado was soon going on on the terrace with carriages, 
trunks, and departing guests, and, on my right, break- 
fast, talk, and hurrying feet ; but I sat on alone, without 
moving, in a sad mood, I don't know why. The cook 
cooks and sweats, and adds the gravy, and then has 
no appetite for all her work: it is a nice world. Once 
Bentley looked in with his long face, and told me that 
Dr. Williams said that Uncle Peter had hemiplegia, a 
stroke all down the left side. I could have told him 
that. I sat there till the clock struck eleven, when I 
got up and went to tell Grimani where he was to meet 
Chris, but found him lying in the same position as 
during the night, in a sort of trance now apparently, 
with half-open eyes. When I shook him, his only 
answer was a murmur. I then scribbled on a bit of 
paper, ' Go to Miss Sheridan when you wake,' and put 
it into his hand. Then I came home. Grimani did 
not turn up till near four in the afternoon, looking 
smart and wide-awake. He is rather a handsome 
fellow. I asked him what had made him laugh so 
heartily the night before when I wanted his master's 


The Lost Viol 

violins: he answered that he had no recollection of 
having seen me; then I asked what drug it was which 
he took, and he very modestly answered — hashish. 
I gave him the Langham Hotel address, warning him 
not to mention it to any one, and he went away." 



She says at a later date: "It is five months since the 
wedding, and this of to-day is only the second letter 
I have from Chris. I have lived without seeing him, 
I couldn't tell why. What a passion for itself this 
little hunch must cherish! Let worlds perish, it says, 
but let me continue to bulge about under the sun. 
Life is nothing, and I know it: but still I like it, I cling 
to it, and a scratch on one little darling hump hurts 
more than if all the straight backs on earth were 
broken. What keeps every one from suicide ? It used 
to be fear, as Hamlet and Plato say, when there was 
hell-fire; but now it is hope of better things to-morrow 
and the love of one's personality — chiefly Hope, ' the 
anchor' which keeps life from drifting into death. 
For me there is only one hope — somehow, at the last, 
to have Chris. I care about nothing else. No doubt 
I shall fail in it, as I failed before my birth, as failure 
runs like a crack through my being, but I live in order 
to try. I must go out of this place: Chris and Yvonne 
must be brought together again, if I can do it; if I 
only had power and craft, Yvonne could be made my 
stepping-stone to Chris. He writes that he has kept 
his word to Hannah and not seen Yvonne, that he 


The Lost Viol 

thinks of Hannah, and would like to come here to see 
her, if he did not fear to 're-open her healing wound.' 
He has no suspicion that Hannah is away searching 
Europe for him; he thinks that she is still here, for I 
have written him that I see her, and no one here but 
me knows where he is to write him. My belief is that 
Chris is trying to ' be good,' and will return to Hannah, 
if something can't be contrived to send him off at a 
new tangent. And it should be done soon, for he comes 
out definitely on the third of next month, when he gives 
his first recital at Queen's Hall. Hannah can't fail to 
find him after all that publicity. But what can I do ? 
I can only wish and dream of doing. I wish that 
Yvonne was in England. If Hannah once gets him 
again, she will keep him. The marriage bond is always 
such a power in itself, and that girl certainly has some 
sort of fascination for many people. A fisher-boy 
named Cooper trudges all the way from Wardenham 
every Saturday afternoon to ask after her, and the 
villagers besiege the Langlers with questions and mes- 
sages. The love of some of them for her really has a 
touch of passion in it. I hate her. Chris's twenty-five 
pounds a month continues to come for her, and old 
Langler forwards it on. What a tax on that poor boy ! 
He has behaved beautifully all round in the money 
way, refusing, Mr. Bretherton tells me, to touch a 
penny of the vast sums with which Uncle Peter bribed 
him into this marriage. I suppose, however, that his 
beloved Joseph will soon bring him riches — he writes 


The Lost Viol 

that he has a Joseph now, another present from a 
lady! He sends me a prelude and fugue of his own 
writing, with the air of 'get your hair cut' for theme: 
it is awfully sad. He has been doing orchestral prac- 
tise at a first desk on the quiet in Berlin under Strauss's 
baton, and is ' in a sea of music,' working hard — for 
the recital perhaps. I wonder if he still drinks such 
a terrible lot of wine. It is rather a pity, but he 
wouldn't be half so dear without the touch of inflam- 
mation in his nose. If he were mine, I should keep 
him tipsy, and we should live and die in Lethe. Han- 
nah would 'pull him all straight,' as she says in her 
off-hand vernacular, and just spoil him. The day 
before yesterday I got a third letter from her, and she 
continues to write once a week to her parents and 
Uncle Peter, enclosing hosts of little notes to Tom, 
Dick, and Harry round about. She irritates me: 
something in me hisses at the tone of her nature, as 
cat detests dog. I don't know what she says to Uncle 
Peter, or he to her. He still babbles when he tries to 
talk, and old Bentley, who does all his writing now, 
has a still tongue: however, he has let out to me that 
Uncle Peter has several times ordered Hannah back — 
as though any power on earth was ever going to draw 
that woman off her quest! She has the nature of a 
bull -dog. But if she doesn't come pretty soon, she 
will never see 'her benefactor' again, for since the 
stroke Uncle Peter becomes every week feebler: so I 
hear, for I don't see him now, I simply don't wish to. 


The Lost Viol 

What shall I do, if he dies ? I wonder if I shall peep 
at the body? I shall want to awfully, I know: but 
shouldn't I pay for it afterwards, if I am ever so mad ! 
Perhaps I shall see him when his spirit is 'passing,' 
for he always disliked me. I should simply die, I 
couldn't live after. I wonder if he will have a white 
ghost or a black. They say it isn't serious to see 
anything white, but that the black ones are terrible. 
At any rate his Hannah is really 'uglier than ever' 
now, for she takes no notice of his command to come 
back. She is still at Weimar," etc., etc. 

This last was not a true statement, for under the 
same date Hannah herself writes: 

" Arrived in Paris last night after jolly voyage from 
Brussels: met in train two Americans, named Moore, 
sisters, very rich, with their English masseuse — elder 
sister has weak heart, but full of fun ; wanted me sud- 
den and quick to go with her to Yankee-land ! Not 
Hannah! for what woman, having lost a piece of silver, 
doth not seek diligently till she find it ? Came back to 
Madame Brault, and, to my delight, found old room 
free : 197 francs, 3 francs less — a bargain ! Woke up 
blooming, singing, this morning, and, as usual, Paris 
brought me luck and high spirits. First of all, walking 
down rue Scribe on my way to rue Croix des Petits 
Champs, met full-butt a monsieur on pavement, nice 
fat Frenchman, beautifully dressed: we couldn't get past 
each other! He dodged to right, J dodged to right; I 
dodged to left, he dodged to left; wherever I went I 


The Lost Viol 

found him, wherever he fled, there I was, barring his 
way; we kept it up for a good half-minute, trying to 
escape each other, but fastened together by destiny. 
Kept face stern as I could, but a grieved look came 
into his eyes, and then I couldn't help, screamed right 
out. He lifted his hat as we got clear, with a look 
which meant, ' I forgive.' This has kept me going in 
laughter for the day every time I think of it. Well, 
Hannah, a merry heart doeth good like a medicine. 
It is a shout only to live. My soul shall magnify the 
Lord, and my spirit shall rejoice in God. 

" Didn't go straight to rue Croix des Petits Champs, 
as I had meant, but off at a tangent to rue de Berri 
to visit the Gauds. Sad news there, Hannah. Every- 
thing squalid again, children uncared for, Gaud gone 
back to the absinthe! Saw it at a glance. Just 
planted myself down, and had a good old cry, in 
which madame and little Lucille joined. Said ' Never 
mind, soon pull him all straight again.' First French- 
man, I suppose, who ever signed a pledge, and what 
I've made him do once, can make him do twice. But 
what time does news at rue Croix des Petits Champs 
leave for anything? Must be in London within a 
week. Pray, pray for them. 'Alone God sumceth.' 

"Thence straight to rue Croix des Petits Champs" 
— this is the violin-street of Paris — " and to my dear 
old friend, Meunier. The old soul's joy af seeing me! 
His face lit up gloriously. Said I was talking French 
like a jranpaise, wicked flatterer. Had great news for 


The Lost Viol 

me ! What news ? No, wouldn't tell : must first hear 
me play in parlor behind shop on a new Lupot which 
he has, bought from the year's gold-medalist at Con- 
servatoire; so I in parlor, fiddle 'well up' at chin, he 
and madame all smiles and fat, listening critically, 
played air from 'Sonnambula' with variations. Meu- 
nier's verdict, that I had got on wonderfully, fine tone 
and taste, would soon get fluency; hoped I wasn't 
killing myself. 'Fifteen hours most days,' I told him, 
and the astonishment of the pair of them ! They didn't 
say, 'What a woman!' but 'What a race!' as though 
all Englishwomen were not a lot of dolls. Then, after 
much sweet fuss and preparation, came the great news : 
Chris found, the darling of my soul to be mine again. 
Let all that is within me shout His Name. Meunier 
showed English newspaper: great stir in musical Lon- 
don; Chris already known as 'rising star,' 'coming 
man,' and taker of Vienna 'by storm'; recital on 3d 
of next month at Queen's Hall; every one on the look- 
out to be taken 'by storm.' Hannah, too, will be 
there, will wait at stage-door, will follow Chris home. 
And then — what next ? Shall I be turned out of 
doors ? Don't know. The Lord judge between me 
and thee. Meunier sure now that Chris must have 
changed name after leaving Vienna, or I must have 
found him long since. Strange that he should go so 
far as that — not kind, not very like him ; perhaps 
put into his head by some friend. I should certainly 
have found out about Queen's Hall recital without 


The Lost Viol 

Meunier's help, but so thankful that it was from him 
and no other that I learned it, for he sent me all the 
way to Brussels on a false scent, and that must have 
been heavy on his poor old heart, but now he will 
say, 'Yes, I sent her on false scent, but at the last it 
was I who found him for her.' In three days, then, 
for London: must lose fortnight's pension, paid in 
advance, 98 francs, 50. Don't care, all in the day's 



Chris Wilson was in chambers in Gray's Inn when 
the morning of his recital, the third of the month, came 
round. He had meant to do his day's practice early, 
so as to have fresh nerves for the evening, but he lay 
late abed that morning — awake, indeed, but uncalled. 
The clock's hands moved on from nine to ten, to half 
past, and it was pathetic, his meek, smiling patience, 
the stirring of his eyebrows for wonder that Grimani 
did not come, and his lack of power to rise without 
Grimani. He was not altogether sorry to be let alone, 
for he had sat up till four a. m. with a gay crew in 
Victoria; but when it became eleven, that was too 
much, and Chris began to call out for Grimani. 

There was no answer. 

At last, at twenty past eleven, Chris leapt from bed: 
and he was no sooner on his feet than he had a fresh 
insight into the value of time, like a fresh sense and 
pair of eyes, of which he had been bereft while he lay 
pleasing himself abed. And he became on a sudden 
very angry. 

Hurrying straightway, therefore, into Grimani's 
room, Chris began to use strong words, but soon saw 
that they were wasted, for Grimani lay in the trance 


The Lost Viol 

which the Arabs call the " kief " — the last of the three 
states through which one passes under the power of 
hashish; so Chris, without more words, fell upon his 
valet, pulling and beating him. 

When he had got Grimani more or less awake, he 
said to him : " I will bear it no longer. Off you go this 
very day, and this time I mean it. It is simply pitiful 
how you neglect me. Get me my breakfast quickly, 
call the woman in, pack your trunk, and never come 
back to me again." 

Grimani, in a bad temper at being hustled down 
thus suddenly out of heaven, began to answer back 
that he was glad enough to get out of such a place, 
that, if he took hashish, Chris took wine, and it was 
six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, etc., etc., 
whereat Chris fled from his valet's tongue with the 
words, "Off you go." 

Grimani then pulled himself together, and got the 
breakfast. Not a word was said while he waited at 
table, till, toward the end, he asked, "Do you really 
mean me to go away ? " to which Chris answered, 
"Yes, off you go; I mean it this time." 

" C'est tres-bien ! " (All right !) said Grimani in the 
tone of a threat. 

He did his work, summoned before her time the 
house- woman, or "laundress," as they are called in 
the Inn, and lingeringly packed his trunks, half expect- 
ing Chris to come and make friends before it should 
be too late. But Chris was now in another world, 


The Lost Viol 

with a fiddle under his chin. At last Grimani, having 
no excuse to stay longer, went to be paid his wages, 
still hoping that Chris would say something pleasant. 
But Chris paid him with a flushed forehead in an 
irritated haste at being stopped in his morning work; 
and Grimani left the room with his check in a grim, 
Italian mood. 

He knew that that night was to be one of the greatest 
in Chris's musical career, and he made up his mind 
that Chris, if he played at all, should play badly. 
Grimani and Chris had been so long and closely bound 
together, that to be turned off in this way was, natu- 
rally, a painful shock to the valet. Something of this 
kind had, indeed, happened often before, but had 
never gone so far; and a Neapolitan does not go un- 
avenged. Grimani, accordingly, after being paid, 
went back to his portmanteau, and took out a little 
tin box. This box had in it a substance something 
like greengage jam, but paler; it was hashish, the 
so-called "fat extract" of cannabis (hemp boiled with 
butter). One takes only a teaspoonful of this in order 
to get up into one of Grimani's heavens, but Grimani 
now took out nearly a tablespoonful of it; he next took 
out a decanter of wine from a cabinet in the sitting- 
room, poured in the hashish, shook it up, put back the 
decanter; from the next room came the music which 
Chris was making. The Italian's lips were banefully 
set; when his wicked work was done, he made haste 
to leave the flat. 


The Lost Viol 

He knew that Chris, before setting out to play, 
always drank of the Alicante wine in that particular 
decanter, which followed Chris from city to city. 
Grimani was sure, therefore, that the very hashish for 
which he was being sent away would not fail to bring 
him his revenge. 

That, on the whole, was a day of flurry and trouble 
for Chris. About one p. m. a mob of idle young men 
came upon him, and the "laundress" being gone, no 
one opened the door to them. "Grimani!" shouted 
Chris, but no Grimani answered. Chris had to let 
them in himself, and ever and anon broke in upon the 
babel of their talk by shouting " Grimani ! " in a pathetic 
way, till it dawned upon his memory that he had sent 
Grimani away; then he had to go out to meet several 
people, such as his accompanist, a famous Polish 
pianist, Hill's, the hall-manager, his agent, and some 
others whom he was bound to see, but either forgot, 
or had not enough time. Late in the afternoon the 
quaint maid with Miss Olivia called upon him, but no 
one opened to them. When at last Chris returned 
home to dress with four or five young men at his heels, 
it was already time for the concert to begin. In the 
midst of his dressing he ran and poured out a tumbler 
of the wine drugged by Grimani, but some one speaking 
to him drew off his mind, and he was in such a prickly 
heat of haste, that in the end he rushed out of his 
chambers without having drunk any of the drugged 
Alicante. Chris was always late for concerts, and for 


The Lost Viol 

everything; so the tumbler of drugged wine was left 
standing on the table of his sitting-room. 

When he drove up with his friends to Queen's Hall, 
his audience was already getting restless for him. 
Hannah wrote of it that " Though I didn't know who 
was who, I felt that 'everybody' was there; I well in 
front, area, five shillings; he scandalously late; crowd 
waiting on one boy; Hannah's heart wild as a bird. 
Then these eyes saw him — frock-coat, stout, forehead 
flushed with haste, nose a bit shiny, and very modest 
and dear he looked, with his meek, drowsy eyes, his 

meek, dear smile. People clapped; he and H 

bowed; in another half-minute he had one by the 
ears — fugue of Bach. That wasn't much, perhaps, 
but, if I were paid, couldn't describe how it all went on 
after the Kreutzer bit, I in a kind of ecstasy, and 
toward the end a scene of really high-wrought excite- 
ment throughout that hall, not at all the ordinary 
applause, but bursting out uncontrollably, like cries of 
the heart; I, too, clapping without knowing; old 
gentleman whispered agitatedly at my ear, 'The first 
English maestro.' During the Kreutzer his E string 
went — hundreds of opera-glasses bent upon his fingers 
— didn't mind a bit, on he went, his two hands all 
over the place at once, plucking, striking, darting, face 
flushed, hair trembling, octaves coining like one note, 
harmonics precise as fate; seems greatest in f and 
bravura passages, ' rides the storm,' has a Joseph now 
from somewhere — sounded to me like a Joseph ; and 


The Lost Viol 

all the time something whispering to me, 'This boy 
who is shaking this hall as one shakes a child by the 
shoulders, as one stirs a pot, as angel troubled waters 
of Siloam, he is married to you, Hannah, all this crowd 
strangers to him, but you his own wife.' I cried and 
laughed, proud of him. Yes, Chris mayn't be a saint 
or a hero, but a hero in his way, like Samson ' brings 
down the house,' can do one thing wildly well, is God's 
workman. If a man can do his work, forgive him all 
his sins. Chris doesn't play to audience, plays to 
himself, audience just happens to overhear him playing. 
That's right ! — in all art, in art of living : ' Let not thy 
left hand know!' Hearty sincerity, 'the inner life': 
then don't much heed what anybody thinks, just jog 
stubbornly along the right path, humming to yourself, 
'Let's all be jolly, boys.' Chris has this sincerity and 
inner musical life, and it streams from him in psychic 
waves which thrill those capable of being thrilled by 
high things: that's his secret. Others stir, seldom so 
powerfully. Hall continued to be crowded long after 
concert, handkerchiefs and programs waving, recalled 
eighteen times, gave two extra pieces, a Lied, and 
notturno out of M. N'.s Dream; felt pained for him 
coming and going in and out so often; even when 
hall had slowly emptied, still a sprinkling of enthusiasts 
calling him back, ladies pressing upon stage-steps to 
shake hands, then outside another mob besieging 
carriage, he meek and good, shaking most hands. 
Procession of four cabs full of men followed his off, 


The Lost Viol 

don't know who they were, friends: the sixth was 

' The lot of us to Grosvenor Square, stopped at big 
house with porch, where all went in, I waiting in my 
cab with the empty cabs: something told me he didn't 
live there, waited a long time, drizzly dark night, 
hardly any one about there. Then heard fiddling in 
house, not his at first, but presently his, I was certain, 
then piece after piece by him. Didn't know what to 
make of it, at last got out of cab and rapped; asked 
footman if Mr. Wilson lived there: 'No, was there, 

didn't live there.' 'Whose house?' 'Lord L 's,' 

musical patron and amateur. Waited till near mid- 
night, when out they cime again, pitched into waiting 
cabs, and away, I following, noisy laughter from cabs 
in front. They got out in narrow street near Leicester 
Square, and into drinking-place called Gambrinus.' 
I waited twenty minutes, till they came noisier than 
ever, then followed to quiet sort of nook called 'the 
Albany,' behind Regent Street — residential chambers. 
All went into a house, I waiting with other cabs to see 
if he would come out, my heart weary for him. One 
o'clock, half past, two: London well asleep. Soon 
after two they came again, he arm in ami with loud- 
laughing, bearded foreigner. The five cabs started 
off once more, I, as usual, following ten yards behind; 
in Piccadilly they parted, his going eastward into Long 
Acre, I after him. Drove into ITolborn, where he and 
two others got out at a gate and rang bell; night-porter 


The Lost Viol 

opened, they went in ; soon I, too, rang, went in, passed 
through one square into another, and saw them just 
entering house, he between the other two, arm in arm. 
I followed into house, and, guided by their noise, went 
up quaint, rickety stairs with large banisters to second 
floor. Waiting on landing, heard them behind massive 
black door which had 'Mr. Chris Wilson' on it in 
white letters ; could just see by light burning on landing 
below. Knew now where he lived, so ran down and 
out to gate again, paid cabman — ten shillings after a 
wrangle ! — then in again and up to landing before 
door. Why couldn't I have waited till next day now 
that I knew? If I only had! Impulse and warm 
heart will bring these silly, erring feet into some nice 
trap some day, Hannah. 

"Waited on landing fifteen minutes for two friends 
to leave, heart literally in my mouth. It had come to 
the point now. Something said to me, 'It would be 
far better all round to wait till to-morrow, especially 
as you are in such a blue fright now'; but the more 
everything in me urged flight, the more my feet stuck 
where they were. Headlong self-will passing itself off 
in the guise of ' duty that lies nearest,' and what has 
it brought me into now! Oh, it was God's will to 
humble me horribly that night, that I may know better 
the poor thing that I am. 

" They came out at last, the two friends — miserably 
tipsy; I stole into the dark higher up the stairs, till 
Chris had slammed his ' oak ' after them ; then all was 


The Lost Viol 

still, till a town-clock struck three; hung up there on 
stairs fully five minutes, then with a rush was down, 
knocking at his door. 

"Heard hirn coming, laughing to himself, and the 
moment he saw me he upset me by bursting out into 
heartiest laughter! 'What, a woman?' said he. 
'Chris, it is I,' I said. 'Who are you?' he asked, 
laughing. ' Look at me, Chris,' I said, ' it is Hannah.' 
He thought it over a moment, then said, 'What, my 
own lawful wife ? ' — and he went off afresh into the 
same delicious giggling. Oh, he was tipsy! I should 
have had to laugh, too, if I hadn't been so jumpy. 
' If you are glad to see me,' I said, awfully agitated, 
' I will come in for twenty minutes.' ' Mmm,' he went, 
' my own dear friend, I am charmed to see you ; come 
in instantly.' Another moment and he was laughing 
again, his cheek against mine, arm round my waist, 
drawing me to sofa, where he sat beside me. It was 
cozy in there, those old rooms most artistically furnished, 
with a French touch. I felt all shut in with him, alone 
in a world, and couldn't help being soft-soaped at my 
hearty reception, but didn't quite like the wine-inspired 
kisses or mocking laughter, and made up my mind 
sharply, inflexibly (as I thought), to tear myself away 
within five minutes, for my fiddler began to be pressing, 
and when I was coy, said, 'Mmm, are you not my 
wife ? ' as though nothing had ever happened between 
that boy and me! But that wasn't good enough for 
Hannah, though inwardly pleased as Punch, and I 


The Lost Viol 

thought, ' He shall never say that I got over and bound 
him irrevocably to me when he was tipsy: it is urgent 
that I go quickly!' It was hard to do, he so fond, 
endearing, boylike, but still I was on the very point of 
going: I remember that much distinctly. Then, why, 
as a matter of fact, didn't I go till two P. M. the next 
day ? What a mystery! Did I, too, get tipsy ? Seems 
utterly impossible! True, haven't drunk wine for ten 
years, except in church, but I hardly took more then 
than at Holy Communion! Two sips, perhaps three. 
Did that get into my head ? Wonderful sort of wine ! 
No, can't think that: no head so weak. But something 
did happen to me: am as sure of it as of sitting here. 
In any case, the shame, the weakness and pain of it! 
"There was a tumbler half full of wine and a de- 
canter on table near sofa where we sat; twice or thrice 
Chris sipped from tumbler; I was talking about recital, 
just ready to fly, when he, left arm round me, held 
tumbler to my lips with his fond murmur; I shook my 
head, but when he pleaded ' Oh, just a little Alicante,' 
sipped a little. Have a fancy now that it tasted funny 
— buttery like : not sure ; but from that time remember 
clearly nothing, nothing that happened: all like won- 
derful, but most shameful, dream. Either once or 
twice afterwards, I sipped more Alicante; don't re- 
member; it might have been a dozen times, really, I 
lived through that night in such a profound haze. 
Haze of tar-rainbows! Ungodly Utopia! The state 
I allowed myself to get into! What, what can have 


The Lost Viol 

happened to me? Every power of mind and body 
seemed so enlarged! How enormously I loved that 
night! How we two giggled to each other! Shame, 
to my last breath. Was it / really? No good thing 
in me, then ? Seem to have utterly forgotten promise 
to myself to fly from him! Can any will be quite so 
godlessly forgetful ? And the wicked pride which 
puffed me! Remember feeling that whatever I did 
must be right, had been a fool all my life, but now 
was 'all there,' all the world fools, except Chris and 
me; and this kept growing, I fancy, beyond measure 
into impiety, till at last I said, satisfied, 'Well, I am 
God; and Chris is with me in the Heavens.' Can't 
be too sure, all very muggy and far-off; only know that 
I must have either gone raving mad, or very drunk. 

"Another woman might have sworn that Chris 
drugged wine! Have heard of such things. But im- 
possible to him in any case, and in my case how foolish, 
being his already. No, something happened inside 
my brain, the will of God to humble my womanhood 
to the dust. Shall I ever laugh again ? 

" Some time or other I fell into a sleep full of trances 
and visions that seemed to last a hundred years, and 
though I only dimly remember whatever I did, I clearly 
remember whatever I dreamt, for reality seems to have 
become a dream, dreaming the only reality. When I 
woke was by the side of Chris, who was asleep. Had 
never known complete wretchedness till that moment; 
woke sane, slight pain in head, conscience heavy, like 


The Lost Viol 

waking in Hell, and, like stab to the heart, a guess, a 
knowledge of all. Clock pointed to one-thirty — in 
the day! but room still very dim. Sat up quickly, 
pulled myself together, saw at once my life done for, 
since Chris would and must hate me always for tricking 
him into this while hopelessly tipsy. Dared to pray, 
even then, for a bruised reed He will not break, and 
has regard to the humble in heart: and answer came 
quickly — a flood of inspiration, saying, ' Get away 
quickly, for since he was so very tipsy when you came, 
and his memory always bad, he may forget that you 
were ever here; then all will be as if nothing had 
happened; to-morrow or some time you can come 
afresh.' Looked close at dear face — fast asleep, eyes 
a little open; in a moment was up, dressing, never 
dressed so quickly, not minding buttons, hair anyhow, 
laces all over the place; was in the act of rushing out 
with jacket hanging over arm, hatpins, umbrella in 
hand, when something said, 'But suppose, suppose: 
may you not some day need proof that you once passed 
a night in these rooms ? ' Stopped, thought it quickly 
out; made up my mind to take away something pecul- 
iar, precious, which would be at once known, if ever 
tendered as proof and pledge. Looked about — four 
violins; didn't like to take, lest he might want, but, 
hung up here and there, museum of out-of-date fiddles, 
old viol d'amore, six-stringed Duiffoprugcar, small viol 
di Gamba with neck gone, a rebec, crowth, rotta; took 
viol di Gamba, then, to make sure, took from dressing- 


The Lost Viol 

table watch and chain, old amethyst ring with intaglio, 
and nail-brush engraved with word 'Chris' in silver; 
then made escape. 

" Outside on ' oak ' five cards pinned up — visitors 
— also bit of paper with ' Mrs. Hewett, the laundress, 
called, but could not get in.' What a sleep! All 
those people knocking, and neither of us hearing a 
sound ! 

"Finished dressing on landing, went down, broad 
day seeming strange to my eyes, got into first cab, and 
home to Guilford Street. Fresh trouble waiting there 
for Hannah, as sparks fly upward ! Letter from mama : 
Sir Peter really dying at last, asks for me. Should 
have started at once, but not equal to it to-day; head 
still going round, round, hands shaky; but nothing 
must keep me from his death-bed: sent telegram, 
'Come by early train to-morrow.' Am writing iioav 
in bed, half-past ten: last night at this time was fol- 
lowing his cab about London, self-sure, silly, little 
dreaming what trap lay waiting for my feet. How 
much has happened since! The short distance we see 
before! 'A little longer lend Thy guiding Hand to 
these dark steps, a little further on.' To-morrow 
morning by the nine-fifteen for home. Will write first 
a note, 'Am at Orrock'; then, if he remembers and 
cares, he will come to me." 

Hannah did duly depart the next morning to Sir 
Peter Orrock's dying bed, after writing a word to 
Chris. But her hope that Chris would forget all about 


The Lost Viol 

her visit when he woke was perfectly fulfilled. Hashish 
has that effect of blotting out and drowning real hap- 
penings under dreams, and Chris had already well 
drunk of the wine drugged by Grimani before ever 
Hannah rapped at his door and appeared before him. 
Even the little that Hannah in her diary remembers 
of what happened after she had drunk is remarkable, 
and due only to her very powerful memory. As to 
Chris's memory, it was even weaker than hers was 
strong, for it often happened to him, when his head 
was full of music, to stand still in a street and look 
about in a lost way, asking himself, 'Am I in Paris 
now or in London ? Whither am I going, and for 
what?' When therefore he woke from the hashish it 
was with all memory of Hannah's visit cleared from 
his mind. She, for her part, had the instinctive feeling 
that he would forget because of her own very vague 
memory of all that had happened: hence she had 
taken the viol and other things as her proofs, and had 
done well. 

Chris, on missing these, made up his mind that he 
had been robbed by a burglar, and was furious at the 
loss of his viol di Gamba. He meant to put the matter 
into the hands of the police, but shirked the boredom 
of it, and soon forgot. 



Meanwhile, Hannah had left off the chase of a 
husband to give herself to the dying man; the strain 
of her mind turned from Chris to Sir Peter in the 
easiest way; and as to her nursing, Miss Praed, the 
nurse, said to Mrs. Dene, the housekeeper, " Certainly, 
whatever her hand finds to do she does with her might; 
and she is a born nurse, though rather untidy some- 

Miss Praed had not left the Hall since that first 
breakdown of Sir Peter's due to sleeping in a draft 
seven months before. 

"It is extraordinary, too," answered Mrs. Dene, 
"how the old man rallied when she came. He was 
expected to die, you remember, that very day of her 
arrival just five weeks ago, and he is still holding out. 
I suppose it is because he is so wonderfully attached 
to her, for he no longer tries to hide it." 

"Or it may be simply animal magnetism," said 
Miss Praed, "the actual passing of power out of a 
powerful life into a dying one. When old King David 
was dying they put a young damsel into bed with him, 
and that kept him living; and so it may be in this case, 
for I never knew anyone with such beaming health as 


The Lost Viol 

Mrs. Wilson. Perhaps we all rise better after sitting 
near those sort of people, and that's why we like them, 
being just conscious that we get something out of 

"But is Hannah quite well at present?" said Mrs. 
Dene. " Hardly quite herself, I have thought — a 
little falling off in the laughter and fresh color. Haven't 
you noticed anything?" 

Miss Praed smiled mysteriously at this, saying, 
"Perhaps she and the genius have met oftener than 
we suppose!" 

"Oh, no — nothing," said Mrs. Dene. "They have 
not met since the wedding day ; I have questioned Mrs. 
Langler — there's nothing, nothing." 

"Oh, Mr. Wilson, shall I never meet you again to 
pour out to you a piece of my mind ? " sighed Miss 
Praed, just as Hannah herself passed swiftly through 
the apartment, smiling upon them with her eyes; for 
another nurse having just taken her place at the sick- 
bed, she was going out for her night-walk. Coming 
home again had been a gladness to her, she had such 
a love for small things, and for each tree and face in 
the old place; but even now, after five weeks, she had 
not yet peeped afresh at everything, and that night 
she went all along the cliffs, watching to see what 
fresh bits the sea had washed away during her months 
of absence, for she knew every yard of the coast, and 
wherever change had taken place her memory stored 
it. A yard more had gone just where Mrs. Dawe's 


The Lost Viol 

cottage had slipped, and three more coffin-feet were 
showing — for the coffins are buried with their feet to 
the east. Up and down the cliff-paths she climbed 
and slid, or walked along the broad sands, nothing 
moving in the vast of nature but her, for it was late, 
the harvest-moon was shining as on that night before 
her marriage when Chris, Yvonne, Kathleen, and she 
had strolled thereabouts together; and lonesome she 
looked in that scene, yet she was of it, the soil was in 
her blood, the sea had a meaning there which she 
knew by heart from of old. Paris and London were 
nice as shows, but here was home and the old rock: 
and she looked at everything with the feelings of an 

After her long stroll she sat down in her favorite 
spot, the Orrock grave in old St. Peter's churchyard, 
and there had a spell of what she called "the blues." 
Her future was so dark. Chris would leave London 
again before she could leave Sir Peter. Writing again 
to Chris, she thought, was no good; she had received 
no answer to her note, 'I am at Orrock'; but she had 
such a settled faith in her power of "influencing" 
every one, that she did not doubt that all would be 
well, if she once got the chance of "influencing" him 
at close quarters. However, he would be off again 
somewhere, and she was most eager now to be with 
him because of a thing which lay locked in her bosom, 
unknown, she believed, to any one. 

But the thing was known to the quaint maid, who 


The Lost Viol 

about that time wrote of it, "I am burning with fever. 
Hannah is going to have a child. What a depth of 
reserve must be in the woman! Her mother or no 
one has the faintest suspicion! I haven't slept the 
whole night; read it all in her diary yesterday, for, 
with all her innate secrecy, she hasn't a scrap of cau- 
tion, and leaves things about. I knew that she keeps 
a diary, and have often felt a wish to read about her 
travels, little imagining that it would ever be gratified, 
or that I should read the awful things that are in that 
book. Yesterday when I went down to ask after 
Uncle Peter, Miss Praed told me that Hannah was 
with him, so, in passing by Hannah's room, I went in, 
I don't know why — the pleasure of doing something 
unseen — certainly, I had no thought of her diary : 
but there on the top of her clothes it lay. She is by 
nature untidy, I have heard her mother say, and only 
tidy by habit; her trunk lay open, a black note-book 
on the clothes. I pounced upon it — her diary ! — 
one of the entries only a day old. I stood just inside 
the door, ready to drop it and fly. How very little 
courage must the gods have breathed into this box at 
my birth! little courage, much desire. If I had been 
caught, I should have died, but if I had had to die, 
I should still have read. There was no real danger of 
any one coming for hours perhaps, the house up there 
as soundless as the grave, and I might have read the 
whole thing at my ease, but read only a few pages, 
then threw it back, and ran. But I had seen enough. 


The Lost Viol 

"She hasn't written it down in so many words, but 
from hints in the last few pages it is evident that she 
is grosse. I nearly fainted. She was at Chris's recital ! 
but how the woman locks things up in her interior! 
She has given every one the impression that she has not 
seen Chris, and now she will have to pay for it, for she 
is evidently in a pretty scare at what is going to be 
born without any assignable father. Yes, she was at 
the recital, followed Chris about London in a cab, 
then forced herself into his chambers at three in the 
morning when she knew that he was tipsy. This is 
the staid Hannah Langler! What a scandal! Uncle 
Peter's pet! the 'saint of Woodside!' 'How enor- 
mously I loved that night,' writes this saint on the 
spree. If she had dropped dead at his door! How 
dared she ? What claim has she upon Chris, when 
he has shown clearly how he regards her? Her calm 
self-assurance! How I hate her! And after wantonly 
drinking with him and getting excited, to insinuate to 
herself that Chris drugged the wine, and to whine to 
God to forgive her on that account, when she had well 
eaten her cake! Oh, Hannah, we are all saints after 
the fifth act. ' Follow me as I follow — Chris ! ' 

" After eating her cake she proceeded to steal Chris's 
viol de Gamba, his watch and chain, a ring, and a 
brush, thinking that, if he forgets everything, these 
would serve as proofs in case of motherhood; so this 
explains the mystery of the 'burglar' of which Chris 
told me in London. Chris apparently has absolutely 


The Lost Viol 

forgotten that any one was in his chambers that night, 
so that, if the proofs were stolen from Hannah — but 
that way trouble lies, I mustn't think of that. 

" The things must lie in her trunk — unlocked — 
easy enough to get at; she is careless; and I will surely 
do it, if I let my mind dwell upon it like this. Lord 
keep me out of all madness and dangers. 

"Uncle Peter won't last many days now, and when 
he is dead I shall certainly have to fly from here; so, 
if I am to do anything as to the viol and trinkets, it 
must be quickly. They don't belong to Hannah 
Langler; I am Chris's cousin; and they should be easy 
enough to get, if I only had the courage, if I am not 
too hopelessly ill. 

" If she becomes a mother, possessing these proofs, 
she will have Chris. Chris is bete, a stickler for his 
French ' honor.' There isn't any hope left — unless 
I steal the things from her; and I will, even if I drop 
with them in my hands, . . ." etc., etc. 

[ 102] 


The little maid was soon making her threatened 
attempt to take Hannah's viol and trinkets; her diary 
shows her thriee in Hannah's room, but each time she 
found Hannah's trunk locked, and the fierceness of 
her wishes was such, that she was even dreaming of 
forcing the lock, when on the fourth morning, as she 
was returning from one of her early walks, Miss Olivia 
ran out of the Hill-house to meet her, saying, " Well, — 
have you heard the bell tolling ? " 

A bundle of ferns and grasses in Kathleen's hand 

"Sir Peter passed away at four-fifteen this morning," 
said Miss Olivia. 

'Thank God, I was asleep, Livie," breathed Kath- 
leen in a meek voice. 

" He passed away peacefully in Hannah's arms — " 

"Don't say 'pass away,' say 'die.'" 

"But how pale you have gone! Come, bear up, 
now. We shall be going away somewhere, and you 
will soon be quite all right again." 

" Livie, I have been in Scoble's Cave all alone for 
twenty minutes, getting dolomites, never dreaming — 

''Well, but you didn't see anything! You see, it is 

[ ™3 ] 

The Lost Viol 

all right : you are not going to see anything, believe me. 
Cheer up, now. We must all die, death isn't so very 
much — " 

" Isn't it ? Hasn't the very air become sick with it ? 
Oh, promise me, Livie, that you will be my friend and 
stick well to me!" 

"Of course, I shall stick to you," said Miss Olivia; 
"what nonsense! You will soon be all right, I tell 
you ! The funeral will be on Friday — " 

" Am I bound to stay till the funeral ? " 

"Why, what would people think? It is only four 
days away! Mr. Bretherton has charge of everything, 
is already at the Hall, John says, and you know that 
he doesn't let the grass grow under his feet. Well, 
well! Sir Peter is gone, I can't realize it; one by one 
we all go, and it will be my turn some day." 

The quaint maid would not be alone all that day; 
in every sough of the autumn wind a ghost sighed 
away for her; death was in her water and food. But 
the fly braved the lion in his very den; for toward 
evening she went down to the house of death, which 
fascinated her. Hannah with the nurses and some 
cronies were there, all in one apartment, telling and 
hearing tales of Sir Peter's life; and Kathleen came 
also among them. It was after dinner; the one lamp 
in the apartment left in shadow the portraits on the 
wainscot; in a chamber near lay the body. Mrs. 
Langler told of one ghost, Mrs. Dene of another, and 
Miss Praed, who was a spiritualist, of a third, while 

[ 104] 

The Lost Viol 

Kathleen, saying never a word, drank it all in, with 
Miss Olivia petting her wet hand. The little maid 
suffered; but there is a bliss in that kind of sickness, 
as when men can't help casting themselves into prec- 
ipices, or die adream in snow, or revel in the trances 
of drowning. 

"Ever heard of Jig-Butt?" asked Hannah of Miss 

"No," said Miss Praed, all ears for the twentieth 

"His name is Butt, but we call him Jig-Butt," said 
Hannah with twinkling eyes: "little ten-acre farmer 
with a wall-eye. A set of them were dancing at the 
Orrock Arms, when Sir Peter passed, heard the noise, 
and looked in. Everybody dancing, except Jig-Butt 
in a corner. 'Well, Butt, why don't dance?' asked 
Sir Peter. 'Lord bless us all, squire,' answered Jig- 
Butt, ' if a man can't jig, he can't jig.' So ever since 
then he goes by the name of Jig-Butt." 

It cannot be written as she told it. Her perfect way 
of taking off Sir Peter and the squeaky country voice 
saying, "If a man can't jig, he can't jig," set all the 
cronies laughing. 

"Poor old Jig-Butt," said Mrs. Dene, as her laughter 
died down. 

"Tell them, Hannah, about Sir Peter and Harriet 
Davis," said Mrs. Langler. 

"Oh, 'Rest 1 cannot!"' cried Hannah, nothing loth, 
with lively eyes. " Greatest liar in the world. Locked 


The Lost Viol 

up her husband in their cottage one day, and when 
she came back found him dead. So, five months after- 
wards, getting somehow into talk with Sir Peter in the 
home-covert, and wanting to interest him in her, she 
said, 'I've heard an awful voice in the night, squire, 
at my bedside.' ' Hm, and what did voice say ? ' asked 
Sir Peter. ' Squire, I heard it say, " Rest I cannot — 
rest I cannot — rest I cannot" — three times.' Sir 
Peter thought it over, and said, 'Better not go telling 
that to any of boys about, woman.' 'You think not, 
squire?' asked Harriet Davis. 'I do.' 'Then, squire, 
I wunt,' she said." 

"Ah, he had a wonderful dry way with him," said 
Mrs Dene. 

"Aye, and a kindly heart, a kindly heart," added 
Mrs. Langler. "There never was another like him, 
no, nor ever will be." 

"Look at what he did to Mrs. Dawe," said Hannah. 
"You know, Miss Praed, that all this coast is going, 
the churchyard itself — you must have seen the coffin- 
ends sticking out — they say that some day the sea 
will be up to Orrock Park; well, Mrs. Dawe's cottage 
went two years ago this November, and being left 
homeless, she didn't, of course, expect to have to pay 
lease-rent on the bit of useless land left; but Sir Peter 
said she must, a bargain always a bargain for him — 
hard as nails! and oh! she was in a way, poor thing. 
Two days before Lady-day she received a heap of 
bank-notes — hundred pounds — brought them to 


The Lost Viol 

show me, quite broken down, choking, made me feel 
lumpy myself, didn't know where it all came from, 
never found out. Because he did it to the least of 
these, God accept him." 

"And he was awfully good to those Prices, too," 
said Mrs. Dene, wiping her eyes. 

" Ever heard of Brother Kate ? " asked Hannah with 
sparkling eyes. " She's the eldest of the Price family. 
One day Sir Peter met her brother Tom — a boy of 
six then — so he said to Tom, ' Got an elder brother, 
boy ? ' Now, Tom had had an elder brother, but he 
was dead, and the silly fellow answered, 'Yes, sir.' 
' What's name ? ' asked Sir Peter. Tom got confused, 
mixing up the dead elder brother with his elder sister, 
and he answered, 'Kate, sir.' So ever since the whole 
family goes by the name of 'Brother Kate'; and if 
you're fond of black eyes, just murmur ' Brother Kate ' 
to yourself when one of them is about." 

'They practically owe their farm to Sir Peter," said 
Mrs. Dene. 

" What is that story ? " asked Miss Praed. 

Hannah told this also, ending it with a red nose-tip 
and wet eyelashes, and so they went on, telling anec- 
dotes of Sir Peter's pilgrimage here below, with anon 
a weird story, talking of the funeral, of the opening of 
the grave, of how the estate might be devised, and of 
the chances of Chris and Yvonne coming. It was 
near ten o'clock when the quaint maid spoke almost 
her first word, and then secretly at the ear of Miss 


The Lost Viol 

Olivia — "'Come with me"; and they two went out, 
almost unmarked by the others, who were taken up 
with their talk. In the corridor outside Kathleen 
whispered to the other, "You wait just here, till I 
come back." 

"Kathleen, you are not going to dare look at the 
body?" said Miss Olivia, staring. 

"Perhaps I am, yes, I am," said Kathleen. "Don't 
come after me, wait just here, and if you hear me 
scream, run to me round that corner." 

"But you mustn't!" 

"Sh-h-h — have pity!" 

Kathleen, as she whispered this, was gone. In that 
corridor was a door of the death-chamber, but, passing 
this, she went round a corner into another corridor in 
which was also a door of the death-chamber. Miss 
Olivia thought that she would go in by that second 
door, but Kathleen had no intention of seeing the body, 
and only made that an excuse for her going away, 
crafty even in her utmost terror; her aim was to get to 
Hannah's room for a fourth try at the trunk, while 
Hannah was gossiping. It had taken her two hours 
to screw her courage to the height of daring the dead 
man to this extent, and now she was in for it. On she 
hurried with that long-legged walk which hunchbacks 
have, and that swaying aside of the head at each step. 
The passing of the second door of the death-chamber 
was awful to her, but the corridor being more or less 
lit, it was only when she entered the gloom of Hannah's 


The Lost Viol 

room that her fears became as it were mortal, and her 
face had the ugliness of death. There was no electric 
set in the house, she did not know where to look for 
matches, had neither the power nor the time. When 
her eye fell upon the trunk and saw it shut, her heart 
accused the ghost of shutting it against her; and when 
she tried and found it unlocked, her heart accused the 
ghost of leaving it unlocked, in order that he might 
touch and blight her during her search for the things. 
She stooped at the trunk, groping to the bottom, every 
instant awaiting the icy hand. When she found the 
viol, she understood that she had been allowed to find it 
only in order that he might touch her during her search 
for the smaller things, and her hairs bristled when the 
wind stirred the arras. But Hannah's clothes were not 
many, and Kathleen had soon in her hand the watch 
and chain, the ring, and the nail-brush, all in a little 
cardboard box. She had enough wit left to pat down 
the clothes and shut the trunk again — the work of 
an instant; and with a gurgle of escape found herself 
once more outside in the light. 

But having now got the things at so much cost, 
what was she to do with them ? She had not thought 
of this, having never believed that she would really 
get them. Hannah, she felt, would soon miss them: 
they must not, therefore, be taken to the Hill, even if 
she could pass through the Hall without being seen 
with them. She had no furnace into which to throw 
them. If she buried them outside the Hall, she felt 

[ 109 ] 

The Lost Viol 

that the earth would cast them up again, and the 
buiying would take time — with Olivia waiting for 
her. In the end, the thought arose in her to hide them 
in the library bureau, and catching at the first sugges- 
tion, she was off at once. A near stair led down to a 
lobby which opened into the library, and down this she 
stole swiftly. But there was no light down there, and 
her terrors now again thickened upon her. When she 
stumbled over a bear-skin in the darkness, she moaned ; 
but she went straight, and reached her end. Knowing 
that a bunch of keys often hung in the center of the 
bureau, she groped, but could not find it; the darkness 
was deep there; and it was now that it flashed upon 
her that this was the spot at which she had once opened 
two oriels while Sir Peter slept. Not another instant 
would Kathleen stay in that place: she just pushed the 
viol and cardboard box in the space behind the bureau, 
and moved away, her soul flying, but not her feet, for 
she feared to fly, rather moving slowly, with moans. 
It was only when she saw the light above the stair, 
that she flew, and only when she was up in the corridor 
again that she screamed a little, and presently fell with 
a sob into Miss Olivia's arms. 

' You have looked at the body ? " asked Miss Olivia. 

The little maid could not speak, but she nodded. 
She was got home at once, and had to stay in bed three 
days, even though she knew that at any moment 
Hannah's things might be seen in that rather open 
place between the bureau and the wall. Every hour 


The Lost Viol 

she waited to hear that Hannah had missed them from 
her trunk; but no news came. Those three nights she 
surrounded her bed with a crowd of women till a late 
hour, reveling in the terrors of the ghost stories which 
they told ; when they went away, Miss Olivia remained 
to sleep with her. 

"Will you be able to get up for the funeral, do you 
think ? " Miss Olivia asked her. 

; ' You know that I shan't," answered Kathleen, who 
did not intend to be up till the day after the funeral, 
in order then to remove the viol and box from behind 
the bureau. 

"But you must try to be up for the reading of the 
will, you know," said Miss Olivia. 

" The will?" breathed Kathleen — she had forgotten 
about the will. It lay in that very bureau; it would 
be read on the evening of the funeral, probably; people 
would then be crowding about the bureau, might see 
the viol and box; or the bureau might be moved. She 
at once made up her mind to be up and at the funeral 
the next day, and to remove the viol and box before- 

After three days of thought she had decided to hide 
the viol in a coffer of which she knew in a disused 
region of Orrock Hall, if she could reach it unseen, 
and to bury the box in a sea-cave. She was wariness 
itself, understood that hidden things have a way of 
working up into daylight, looked forward fifty years, 
and meant to run as little risk as possible. 


The Lost Viol 

On the funeral day she did not drive down till near 
the "lifting" hour, so that she might act at a time 
when every one was taken up with what was going 
forward. A number of people were already there, 
their carriages, with the hearse, being drawn up before 
the house. The little maid easily escaped from among 
the mourners, got into the library, and saw behind the 
bureau the viol and box quite safe. She was too soon, 
however. It would be ten minutes yet before the 
" lifting," when the eyes of the servants and of every one 
would be preoccupied. She looked out from a window 
at the glass-houses, but her knees trembled so under 
her, shaking even the black plume in her hat, that she 
had to sit down at the bureau. It was open, Mr. 
Bretherton, the lawyer, had been at it, and it now 
came into Kathleen's mind to read the will. In this 
she had no motive save that of doing something secretly 
wayward, and of filling up the time of waiting; so, 
unlocking three drawers and a panel, she penetrated 
to the nook of the will, for from childhood she had 
thoroughly known the mazes of this old piece of cabinet 
work. To her surprise, the will was in duplicate, for 
Sir Peter had lately sent over for the copy at Brether- 
ton's in order to make some notes, but had been 
surprised by illness and death. Kathleen glanced 
down the parchment, and her glance caused her to 
spring up with wonder in her looks: everywhere she 
saw " the said Hannah Wilson " ; it seemed as if every- 
thing was to be Hannah's. She herself was rich and 


The Lost Viol 

not miserly, wanted none of her uncle's wealth, but 
she was offended at the "wrong" done to the absent 
Chris and Yvonne in favor of this outsider, for the 
estate was not much entailed; and she was also afraid 
of the power of riches thus put into the hands of 
Hannah. An impulse to meddle in this overcame her, 
and when she again locked up the drawers of the 
bureau, the two copies of the will had been pushed 
into Hannah's viol through the sound-holes. 

This new impulse drove her to run to hide the viol 
rather sooner than she had meant; so, covering the 
viol and box as best she could under her cape, she 
came out into the lobby, ran up the stairs into a corri- 
dor, passed Hannah's room. No one was to be seen, 
but just there by Hannah's door she heard behind her 
a step running up the stair. A sense of the unseen 
power that is in the world at once turned her faint. 
The crazy thought came into her mind that the step 
was Hannah's, who must suspect, and was following 
her; for it sounded like a woman's step. In fact, it 
was only Miss Olivia's, who was seeking for Kathleen ; 
but there was a moment when the little maid, bewitched 
by it, was on the point of stopping, of dropping every- 
thing, and of screaming out. However, she ran on. 
The trinkets in the box and the two wills in the viol 
made sounds, being shaken up, and the steps continued 
to chase her, for Miss Olivia wished to ask whomever 
it was that she heard before her where Kathleen was. 
Here was real trouble for Kathleen, unlike her ghostly 


The Lost Viol 

fears in this, that in one's fear of ghosts there is always 
a doubt whether they are really any ghosts; but here 
was real trouble and shame. When she came to the 
first door of the death-chamber, the steps behind were 
about to turn a corner, and in another moment Kathleen 
would have been seen, if she had not plunged into the 
room with the corpse. There she stood, staring with 
her eyes at the coffin, staring with her ears at the 
footsteps. The footsteps came and went past, but 
even when they were no longer to be heard, Kathleen 
stood rooted, unable to move. The coffin was on the 
bed, the dead man in it, the sheet which had covered 
it already drawn away, the lid lying askew on it. The 
chamber was large and airy. No one was there. It 
was a sunshiny afternoon of autumn. Outside in the 
dying year a wind arose with the voice of the viol, and 
died away with that universal meaning at which the 
soul faints. The little maid now lacked the power to 
run any farther: her eyes stole round the chamber, 
seeking a temporary hiding-place for the things. There 
was the wardrobe. She stepped toward that on tiptoe, 
her eyes fixed on the coffin. But the wardrobe would 
not open to her: she should have turned the key twice, 
but was too much out of herself to think of this; and 
while fumbling, she heard a troop of steps coming. 
Now she stood at bay, feeling herself undone: her 
eyes moved basely a little from side to side. But all 
at once her craft sprang up and flourished in spite of 
all things against her, and she was in action the most 


The Lost Viol 

gallant, as when little timid birds face a wolf. Her 
eyes, still fixed upon the coffin, saw the safest, surest 
hiding-place in the world. She guessed that the foot- 
steps were those of the undertaker and his men, coming 
to screw down and "lift." She understood that no 
eye would peep into that coffin again forever: and 
she was soon touching what she loathed. Pushing 
the lid a little more aside at the foot, she fixed the viol 
between the two legs of the dead; in placing with it 
the little box, her hand touched what was as cold as 
marble. When she had fixed the viol and box, she 
drew back the shroud over them — all in some seconds. 
The footsteps were now near, but she had still time to 
take one flying peep at the face, she could not help it 
now that she was so near: she dared to lift the face- 
cloth a little, and saw . . . 

When the men came in the little maid was kneeling 
at the bedside, sobbing faintly, one of them bore her 
away, while the others hurriedly screwed down, for 
they were some minutes late. Kathleen lay on a sofa 
shaken with sobs almost till the funeral started; a 
month afterwards she wrote in her diary, "I am 
perfectly convinced that he scowled at me." 

"We had cards given us," she wrote, "to show our 
places. I drove behind Sir George Iliffe, in front of 
whom were Hannah and her parents. Olivia kept 
plying me with smelling-salts. The tolling of the bell 
was awful : that, T think, is the worst of all, the soprano 
of the knells shivering at the grave. Who invented 


The Lost Viol 

bell-tolling? How wild a soul! What a poet! No 
one knew how much was being buried: only I. I felt 
old and wrinkled; for doing certain things makes one 
old. Moral people are best off; but there never were 
any, and never will be. We are all alike, a saint is 
the same thing as a sinner, and all men are liars. 
Very regrettable but true: fie, the hand of the Potter 
shook. I shan't care; when you are once on a road, 
you must go on. J'accuse, et je defie! I didn't 
fashion my soul any more than I fashioned my back, 
and we are all humped inside, a happy-go-lucky crew. 
Look at Hannah, with her ' How enormously I loved 
that night ! ' — praying, nursing, hymn-shouting Han- 
nah. Christian talk, that! modest behavior! I wish 
she had dropped dead. She would have loved just 
the same 'that night,' if she hadn't been married to 
Chris, and if she hadn't loved so 'enormously' I 
shouldn't have had to bury her viol and things deep 
in brick whence even the hand of Time shall never 
unearth them. Yes, Uncle Peter, you loved her and 
disliked me, in each case without cause; but you shall 
guard her treasure well from her for me. ' The wicked ' 
mostly have their way and 'flourish,' and the rewards 
of vice and virtue are about equal. Vice is brackish 
afterwards; there is a certain failure of satisfaction 
after the deed is done; but virtue is bitter beforehand, 
though nice after: so they are about equal. I am 
pretty happy in my own way, and will jog along. 
It is only a month since the funeral, and already I am 


The Lost Viol 

no longer afraid during the daytime; this old Cha- 
teaubrun of Yvonne's is too charming a place to harbor 
many ghosts. But I suffered truly that day : the tolling 
of the bell, and the dead-march, it can't be uttered 
what they sang to the very quick of me. I wouldn't 
go into the church, but the march reached me outside. 
Then, standing about twenty yards from the grave, 
I looked on at the lowering, the horrid ropes grating; 
Olivia could not get me away; I stayed to the very 
end and after it, till only Hannah was left, with Mrs. 
Langler and old Watts, the relieving-officer, who was 
one of the pall-bearers. It was nearly night, and still 
they stood there, looking down, Hannah with a red 
nose, at the foot of the grave toward the sea. She 
did not know all that was just under her feet," etc, etc. 



"Chris was staying with Count Orsi and giving 
concerts at the Fondo in Naples at the time of the 
funeral," writes the quaint maid further. 'Yvonne 
was at Chateaubrun, entertaining, so couldn't come. 
I didn't mean to leave the Hill for two days, for I was 
not ready, but the first thing I heard on opening my 
eyes the morning after the funeral was that Hannah 
was gone; and I at once made up my mind to go, too. 
How crazy, I thought, must she be to be with Chris! 
She had hardly had the decency to go home from the 
grave with her mother, when she was off. She must 
certainly have hoped that Uncle Peter had left her 
something, but she didn't even stay to see if there was 
a will, or what was in it. Even if Chris had been 
nothing to me, the mere heat of the woman to have 
him would have made me wish to disappoint her; but 
what irritates me most is her calm assumption of owner- 
ship in Chris, as though she was anything to him. 
At any rate, she was gone, evidently without missing 
the viol and things from her trunk — believing them 
still there! She will never now be able to trace even 
where she lost them. I felt that if she once got at 
Chris, who had been trying to be good, and had not 


The Lost Viol 

seen Yvonne for months, then Chris would easily be- 
come her prey, and that nothing could prevent this — 
except Yvonne; and I at once telegraphed to Yvonne, 
begging her to invite me to Chateaubrun, since I 
couldn't stay at the Hill. I got the answer at noon, 
' Come at once ' ; and Olivia and I slept in London 
that night. 

"It is an ill wind that blows no one any good, and 
the death of Uncle Peter, besides making me nearly 
twice as rich, has left me as free as a bird. True, he 
never presumed when alive to meddle in my goings 
and comings, but he was my ' guardian ' — tender 
' guardian ' ! — and I had the consciousness of his old 
eyes and grumpy censorship being always there. That 
first night in London I had such a feeling of liberation 
and of being out on the spree; and Olivia and I en- 
joyed ourselves thoroughly, like Bohemians. Picca- 
dilly Circus is no fit place for ghosts, mon oncle. 

"As soon as we got out of the train at Liverpool 
Street, I sent a long telegram, like a letter, to the Orsi 
Palace, telling Chris that since Uncle Peter had died 
intestate, and most of the oof would be his, it was 
essential to his interests to meet me after his farewell 
at the Fondo, so that I might talk over matters with 
him; and I added that I was on my way to Yvonne at 
Chateaubrun, which would be a good half-way meeting 

"I thought to myself, 'This will furnish an excuse 
to his conscience, for he can say to himself that he is 


The Lost Viol 

only coming on business, and, if he has the least 
longing left to see Yvonne, he will deceive himself, and 

'The next morning I left for Paris, and reached 
Toulouse at 2.15 p. m. the day after. Yvonne was 
outside the station in a carriage, and almost her first 
words were, 'There is a telegram for you at the cha- 
teau.' From Chris! ' I shall be with you on Thursday 
the 5th.' 

" How I expected him on that 5th ! and on the 6th 
and 7th the same wretchedness over again. He didn't 
come, and I began to make sure that Hannah had 
entrapped him. 

" But at eleven in the morning of the 8th, I on the 
terrace saw him coming. I waved my handkerchief 
like a flag of victory. There he was in the old short 
jacket, the Tyrolese cloth hat on the back of his curls, 
and Grimani (taken back at last!) with the elaborate 
case of the Joseph in his hand. Ah, what a different 
Chateaubrun it suddenly became that bright day! 
The cicadas, the trees, became parts of an orchestra, 
the world turned into an Olympian concert-hall. 
There was no end to the music till dinner, and, oh 
Heaven, what sweets that day! It was one swoon to 
me. Music isn't music in England, it must be here 
in the South, where the sun ripens the heart like a 
grape, and sets the blood whispering like passionate 
wine; and I am sure that nobody in the world can 
really accompany Chris but me: he as good as said 


The Lost Viol 

so; I do it by nature, with an over-perfection and an 
over-ease which purrs and becomes voluptuous. 

'"This is a surprise, monsieur,' said Yvonne on 
shaking hands. I had not told her a word beforehand, 
for I wished her to be taken by surprise, but she got 
through the meeting with perfect chic and uncon- 
sciousness — much better than he. ' Didn't Kathleen 
tell you that I was coming to talk over some affairs ? ' 
he blurted out. Yvonne looked at me and said point- 
edly, ' Kathleen is always at her best when she speaks, 
but she often has reasons to be silent.' I disliked her 
for it. I, too, have a tongue with a point, and it may 
sting some day. 

"She took no part in the music all the afternoon; 
her manner was as if she and Chris had not met before. 
The old baronne d'Estampe, looking like a dame 
Louis Seize, played her old chords and arpeggios on 
the harp, and Arbos gave his canzonets: the rest was 
Chris and I, Yvonne meantime keeping up an elaborate 
gaiety and aloofness. She loves Chris, cela se voit. 
In the evening Chris and I in the pine-avenue: Yvonne 
declined to come; and I unwisely glad of it. He liked 
the chateau : ' Charming place ! ' I told him the names 
of plants, and showed him their structure. He said, 
'You know everything; you are both virtuoso and 
savant.' I suppose I am a special little one — better 
somehow perhaps in my essence than anybody! If I 
could only always feel it, have the pluck of it ! Then I 
should not struggle and stew in this self-consciousness. 


The Lost Viol 

But I am only conceited when alone. My soul has no 
skin, every wind blisters it. It is the hump! — this 
millstone, this prison. ' Oh, wretched man that I am, 
who shall deliver me from this dead body ? ' 

"I pretended great interest in his Orrock affairs, 
advised this and that. 'But,' said he, 'how comes it 
that our good Uncle Peter died without a will ? I 
distinctly remember his telling me that Hannah was 
to be his heiress.' 

"'It happened so,' I said; 'old men are capricious, 

"'Or, more likely, it is a mere accident,' he said. 
'Perhaps I ought to make over to Hannah all this 
property. It will be only fitting, for Hannah, you 
know, is not really of yeoman race — ' 

" ' What do you mean, Chris ? ' I asked, too soon, for 
he said, checking himself, 'I am under a promise.' 

"What could he possibly have meant? I pressed 
him, but he wouldn't tell. Something he has dreamt! 
Hannah would laugh to hear that old Langler isn't a 
yeoman. As to making over his inheritance to her, 
I treated that with derision, telling him that the world 
is a practical place, not cloud-land. I hope I per- 
suaded him, but am not sure. He couldn't be so 
feeble. I asked him if he had seen Hannah since the 
wedding night: his answer was, 'You know that I 
have not been to Norfolk since.' This relieved me, 
showing that he still imagines her down in Norfolk, 
that he has really forgotten her night in his London 

[ 123] 

The Lost Viol 

chambers, and that she has not run across him during 
his delay in coming to Chateaubrun from the 5th to 
the 8th, though she was then pretty certainly some- 
where about Naples, seeking him. I thoroughly en- 
joyed that walk with him up and down the pine- 
avenue, but I saw that he still thinks so much of 
Hannah, that, if she once said to him, ' A child is going 
to be born to you and me, I swear it,' he would be 
inclined to believe her, however deeply buried in brick 
the proofs of it may be — unless he had first got well 
entangled with Yvonne, and so become deaf to Hannah. 
Yvonne, as before, was the pivot. I asked him how 
long he would be staying at Chateaubrun ? He an- 
swered meekly, ' I have not been asked to stay. I shall 
go back to Toulouse to-night.' This did not suit me. 
When we got back to the terraces they were all pacing 
about in the moonlight, with something eighteenth- 
century in the scene of statues, waterworks, and pacing 
groups. Yvonne was with de Marsillac. I left Chris 
with madame la baronne and Marthe Wesendonk, 
and joined her. ' Chris,' I said ' is going back to 
Toulouse presently.' 'Is he?' said she, 'then I must 
give the necessary orders, or will you see to everything ? ' 
'I will see to everything at once,' I said. At this we 
both stood silent, until she asked, 'Has he a courier? 
Will he be sleeping in Toulouse ? ' ' Yes,' I said, ' but 
you know, Yvonne, that there is no really comfortable 
hotel in Toulouse.' 'Oh, everywhere is a palace to 
poets,' said she; 'but is Lady Wilson with him at 

[ 124] 

The Lost Viol ■ 

Toulouse? I forgot to ask him.' 'There is no Lady 
Wilson, Yvonne,' I said, 'you know that, though there 
will be one in three days' time, if Chris is sent away.' 
'I'm glad of that,' said she; 'you pronounce it like a 
threat, but you must mean it as a promise, his wife is 
in all respects so admirable a lady.' 'That is just 
where the danger lies,' I said, vexed, 'in the fact that 
he thinks more of her than of — any one.' ' You ex- 
cepted, I am certain, Kathleen,' she said. 'And you, 
perhaps,' I retorted in my rage. '7 perhaps and you 
certainly,' she said: 'That is an exception and a half.' 
She referred to my dwarfishness, of course, and the 
smartness of her repartees don't lessen their smart; 
but her half-a-cousin has finesse, too, in plenty, when 
collected, and my revenge may come. I dared not hit 
back then: my object was to get her to ask Chris to 
stay, and I was afraid to exasperate her, though I 
knew that she was hungering to keep him. For a 
minute I was in too much torture to speak. We stood 
half turned away, threatening each other to go, but 
lingering, afraid to part. At last I began to say, 
'Well, I will go and tell Grimani,' when she said, 
' Have you finished the discussion about money matters 
with your cousin?' 'Not quite,' I said. 'Well,' said 
she, ' as he is such a wanderer — it is nine months, for 
instance, since I had the honor of meeting Monsieur 
Wilson.' 'That's not his fault, Yvonne,' I said, 'he 
was under a promise to Hannah Langler with regard 
to you.' ' To me ? ' ' Yes, she really would be amused, 


The Lost Viol 

if you send him away.' 'But this is the second time 
you speak of " sending him away " ! Have I not asked 
him to stay ? ' Thus ignominiously mademoiselle gave 
in to her heart's lusts. Nothing of the sort had been 
done, of course: she had been tempted to, had resisted 
all day, and now could resist no longer. We are all 
alike, hunch or no hunch. I said, ' No, you may have 
meant to ask him, but have forgotten.' 'I was almost 
sure — Well, perhaps you will repeat to him my re- 
quest, Kathleen,' she said, going quickly off to rejoin 
de Marsillac. That was nearly three weeks ago, and 
Chris must be riding back with her now from the 
picnicking at La Risolette," etc., etc. 



"Hannah," continued Kathleen a little later, "is 
in Paris. I have a letter from her. She has heard 
from her parents that I am at Chateaubrun, and asks 
if I can give her any hint as to the whereabouts of 
Chris! I am afraid that Chris is also at Chateaubrun, 
and enjoying himself very much indeed, but what 
business can that be of Miss Langler of Woodside ? 
She flew from the graveside of Uncle Peter to Italy, 
knowing that Chris was playing at the Fondo; but by 
the time she reached Naples he had got my telegram 
summoning him to Chateaubrun. He stopped on his 
journey to give a concert at the Milan Scala, and 
she followed to Milan, but a day too late. Chris had 
left for Chateaubrun. So, on losing him, she went 
back to Paris, which seems to be her headquarters, 
and is there waiting till he turns up somewhere. 

" She writes a lot of tattle about Orrock affairs, such 
as that my groom Parker has influenza, that a bit of 
coast has slipped just south of Wardenham, etc., etc.: 
no one would imagine that she has a great grief gnaw- 
ing at her. No reproach at not being left anything by 
Uncle Peter, not a mention about the viol and box; 
but this mayn't mean that she hasn't discovered their 


The Lost Viol 

loss, for miss (or Mrs. ?) certainly doesn't wear her 
heart on her sleeve. She must have found out by this 
time; and what a tenfold mystery to her! They are 
buried pretty deep, my Hannah, and you feel now, 
don't you, how headlong and naughty it was of you 
to forget all the hymns and texts, and force yourself 
into Chris's chambers that morning ? 

" I doubt if she will ever now get Chris. My scheme 
here has prospered more than I care to witness. Chris 
is as badly in love again as ever he was at Orrock, and 
Yvonne ten times more so. No Frenchwoman loves 
quite disinterestedly: Chris with two decorations, fore- 
run by a shudder of expectancy in every town which 
he enters, is not the same boy of ten months ago; and 
because he is more, she loves him more. I alone 
should love him as well in rags, so no one has any real 
right to him but me. 

"The day before yesterday Yvonne went into a sort 
of hysterics. It was down at the village, where a lot 
of us had gone to patronize the fete in the afternoon. 
We had left Chris at the chateau, practising in his 
rooms. Yvonne drove with de Marsillac, flirting as 
ostentatiously as usual. I was in the brougham with 
the Comtesse Choderlos de Hanska. We left the 
carriages at the Villa des Sapins, and walked down to 
look at the fete. It was jolly — a great crowd of 
people in bright-colored clothes. I don't know how 
de Marsillac lost Yvonne, but presently she was missed. 
I suspected that she might have a rendezvous with 


The Lost Viol 

Chris, and this sent me looking for her in the Sapins 
(pine-wood). She had no rendezvous, however, for I 
and the comtesse, who would come with me, found 
her sitting alone on a tree-trunk in the forest-glade 
which they call 'le Rond Point.' There she sat, her 
face buried in her hands; and the moment the comtesse 
spoke to her, Yvonne burst out into the most aston- 
ishing laughter and sobbing, like hysterics. Her face 
was just crimson, and I never heard such a thing, it 
made me want to laugh and cry myself. 

" Old Choderlos de Hanska put her hand on mine 
as we two were driving home again, saying, ' My dear, 
after what we have witnessed together, there is no 
longer any indelicacy in expressing ourselves to each 
other, for here, you have seen, is that which demands 

"So it seems, madame,' I said, thinking to myself, 
'Words, mere words.' 

'If ever a poor child was in the grip of a tragic 
destiny,' the old chatterbox went on, 'it is this.' 
'But why tragic, madame?' I asked. 

" ' Because the cause of that which is about to over- 
take her is in herself,' she said, 'and because she has 
struggled so desperately and so vainly against herself 
and her destiny. It is said, my dear, that "even the 
gods weep to see a good man struggling in vain with 
misfortune." Here you have a good girl, striving with 
all her heart to keep the moral law, but little by little 
losing ground and hope. It has even made me shed a 


The Lost Viol 

tear to notice her punctuality on her religious duties at 
the church of late.' 

"I tried to imagine the old monkey's tear tearing 
a ravine through paste, like a geologic river; she 
daren't cry, except in the mornings. 'But I thought 
that Yvonne pretends to be a pantheist,' I murmured. 

"'Ah, my dear,' said the old windbag, 'but when 
we need a God, we reconstruct Him. Yvonne's father 
and mother were both good Christians, and this disease 
in her blood is all the more awful to her because, 
having been practically her own mistress since their 
death, she has grown accustomed to feel the responsi- 
bility of her conduct and of her high name. For the 
first time, she now finds herself dragged along a path 
which is repugnant to her principles and her tastes.' 

"'Why doesn't she marry Monsieur de Marsillac, 
who adores her?' I said, 'then as a married woman she 
could more properly contract a liaison with Monsieur 

" ' I have taken the liberty to advise her in that very 
sense,' said madame, 'but the poor girl has answered 
me only with her shoulder. Yvonne's mother was an 
English lady, and her own point of view is modified in 
an English way. No, there is no solution but one: 
it is much to be desired that Monsieur Wilson could 
be induced to depart from Chateaubrun.' 

'You should try to induce him, madame,' I said. 

"'77' murmured the old thing, lifting her hands in 
dainty horror. 


The Lost Viol 

'"It cannot be done, madame,' I said: 'it would be 
intolerable, if any one presumed to interfere. And 
what would happen, if he did go ? Yvonne would only 
become ill.' 

'She is ill now,' madame answered: 'Ernestine 
assures me that she paces her room far into the morn- 
ings, and has dreams from which she awakes with 
cries; and you have observed her looks.' 

'I'm afraid I can't sympathize with all that fuss,' 
I said. ' The affair is a very ordinary one, only Yvonne 
happens to be of noble blood.' 

'But that is not precisely where the thorn pierces 
her, I am certain,' said madame, 'but in the fact — 
is it not a fact that Monsieur Wilson possesses a wife ?' 
"I smiled without answering. 

"'I happen to have reasons for believing it, my 
dear, and you know that nothing ever escapes my old 
lips, so you may be open with me. In fact, Yvonne 
has as good as admitted it to me — an English wife. 
Well, I believe that that is where this poor child is 
excruciated: she is unwilling to wrong that other 
woman. It seems a little unworldly, but then Yvonne 
is a young girl, with a still tender conscience. Tell me, 
is not the name of that wife " Hannah " ? ' 

'How can you know, madame?' I asked. 

'Tell me if it is so, and I will then tell you how I 

'"Well, yes.' 

'I thought it! For, two mornings ago, Yvonne, on 


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being startled out of sleep by a vase dropped from 
Ernestine's hands, broke into sobs, repeating many 
times that word, " Hannah, Hannah. " She had been 
dreaming of this "Hannah," and there, be sure of it, 
is where the ache lies.' 

" ' Well, it seems a ease for the physician,' I said — 
'a little phosphorus, perhaps. This only comes of 
people allowing their desires to wander upon forbidden 

'"It is true,' said she, 'the earth has sun-stroke, but 
from habit I prefer it to Utopia, my dear. This poor 
child can't be stoned by me, for, providentially, I also 
am not without sin. You, no doubt, are: it is all a 
relation between temptation and strength. In the case 
of Yvonne, you have a poor child fighting a real battle 
in loneliness, without help or sympathy. Her guar- 
dians are merely well-wishers; her friends are merely 
visitors; you, her cousine, recommend phosphorus; I, 
her great-aunt, try to be distressed, but at my age, 
after the life of fashion, one is no longer distressed at 
anything, except at a disturbance in one's habits. 
Old people are as selfish as babies — " 

: ' Oh, but you are not in your second childhood in 
that respect, madame,' I murmured, giving it back to 
her for her 'temptation and strength'; she answered 
something, but the carriage was passing over gravel, 
I didn't hear, and immediately afterwards we got out. 

' Yvonne arrived soon afterwards, ' retired,' and did 
not appear at dinner, which was a failure. Chris had 

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nothing to say, de Marsillac's Parisian lightness seemed 
to have got a wetting, and the Conseilleur Municipal 
and old Choderlos de Hanska were allowed to talk to 
the air absolutely without pause. Chris escaped at 
the first chance. I didn't know where he had gone, 
went to spy, and after a search saw him in that out- 
of-the-way balcony behind the armory on the south, 
near the precipice. He was pacing up and down 
pretty quickly. The trellis-work being thick with 
vine, except over the three steps in the center, I got 
up to it without being seen, and sat down on the old 
horse trough there, just to be near. He made those 
old worn dalles of the balcony hold ground. I didn't 
know before he ever went there. Couldn't see him, 
but could hear his tread, and smell his cigar, the 
darling god; buried my head in its wrap in the vine 
leaves, and closed my eyes. It was dark there in spite 
of bright moonlight, the air heavy with maples and 
wild sarsaparilla that grow down to the precipice-edge, 
hosts of cicadas screeching, with a tinkling of the piano 
from far away. Chris must have had some musical 
thought in him; now and again he hummed, just a 
murmur. I was enjoying too deeply to move, but 
after a time had begun to think of speaking to him 
about the signing of the lawyer's documents from 
England, when I heard some one with him. My heart 
all at once was beating awfully. It was Yvonne. 
' She is not too unwell for this,' I thought, and I pushed 
my ear well into the bush to hear. 


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'"Ernestine has told me that you were here, Chris,' 
I heard her say, ' so ' — something lost — ' the answer 
which you demand of me.' 

'"Mum, mum, mum,' from Chris; I couldn't hear! 
They stood fifteen yards away. 

'. . . Believe me,' from Yvonne, 'risen from my 
knees before my Creator to come here to you, hum, 
hum, hum.' If they had only spoken in English! I 
might have caught more. 

'Mum, mum, I prefer you to all things,' from 
Chris: 'nothing is sacred but you . . . God is less 
than Love . . . mum, mum, ethics is for unmusical 
souls who need a lower guide . . . Love in itself is 
right, and is enough . . . love like ours ... love, 
love ' — they say it must have been grand to see Will 
Shakespeare in love, but wild-hearted Chris! I felt 
to my heart the boundless throbbings of his, but 
couldn't hear! the cicadas screeching in my ears. 

"'Do not mistake me,' from Yvonne: 'the doing of 
what is right has been made too terribly hard a task! 
Hum, hum, hum, I have suffered, mon ami, yes, I 
have suffered, hum, hum, but I love you too much, 
Chris, my soul ... I am too ill now ... I can no 
longer bear it . . . the great decision of our lives rests 
henceforth with you.' 

" ' Mum, mum, mum,' from Chris, ' nothing is so 
great as infinity, mum, mum.' I heard her better 
than him, he mumbles so, his tongue is in his 


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'In ten days my guests will have departed,' from 
Yvonne; 'you love me . . . tell me then . . . you are 
my supreme ... do not fear . . . claim that which 
is yours, nothing shall dare oppose you . . . seize me, 
have me, destroy me, kill me . . . death ... I know 
that it will end all, hum, hum, hum.' 

" ' . . . destiny,' from Chris, ' the grave itself, mum, 
mum, Love like ours ... is itself a law-giver . . . 
destiny . . . cannot be defeated, mum, mum,' then 
the wretched castle-bell began that sort of curfew 
which they ring here, and for two minutes I could 
hear nothing.' 

'. . . these sorts of relations,' from Yvonne . . . 
'ashes, hum, hum, contempt . . . twenty years . . . 
Virtue alone is incorruptible . . . poor mortals . . . 
nets for our feet . . . the road to death, mon ami ! ' — 
with a sob. 

'To-day is as good as to-morrow,' from Chris — 
'better, for we are younger to-day . . . next summer 
as unimportant as last summer, mum, mum, you may 
love me less.' 

"'. . . dreams,' from Yvonne, 'Hannah, your 
wedded wife ... a good woman . . . speaking to 
me, pleading with me, warning me, as plainly as I see 
you now ... a very strange thing . . . you can see 
that I am ill . . . the voices of destiny, hum, hum, 
hum, will end in sorrow.' 

. . . Things are as they are,' from Chris, ' we 
did not make the world . . . excellent woman! . . . 


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out of relation with my longings . . . dare everything, 
sacrifice everything . . .' 

" ' Yes ! yes ! ' from Yvonne ; ' my guests will have de- 
parted . . . twelve days . . . Venice . . . even one 
year of heaven ... I shall have lived . . . after- 
wards one may die, hum, hum, hum, Ernestine, mon 
ami . . . must go away . . . soon, soon.' 

" ' . . .Write it in a song of joy,' from Chris, ' how 
amiable! . . . thievish feet of love . . . Mmm . . . 
joy forever . . . kiss . . . 

"'Yes! give!' from Yvonne, now first tutoying him 
— ' Oui! donne! ' — and I knew that they were kissing. 
For some minutes I must have fainted away just then, 
I don't remember the moment at which Yvonne left 
him. I wondered at myself for letting her go without 
flying at her; it seemed that nothing was left me now 
but to throw my wretched frame into that precipice 
not twenty yards off; but I had no strength left even 
for that, I simply sat with my head in the vine, and 
suffered my forlornness. Lord, what a pain it is! I 
felt how God had made me ugly, wretched, unloved, 
wretched, wretched, unchangeably, Lord God, Lord 
God. If their sweet carryings-on were bad for Hannah, 
they were as bad for me; but it was all my own doing, 
I had no right to complain. Why had I brought Chris 
here? To keep him from Hannah, forsooth! with 
some notion in me that, since he is married and can't 
be Yvonne's husband, then, at some far-off day, he 
may somehow be mine. Weak dream ! He thoroughly 

r i36i 

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belongs to Yvonne now anyway, may always, and what 
do I care whether he is Yvonne's or Hannah's, if he is 
not mine? Certainly, I never felt toward Hannah 
quite the same cat-o'-mountain rancor that I felt for 
Yvonne that night. I don't know what kept my hands 
from her, for I longed to see both him and her struck 
down in the height of their selfish bliss, the two wantons. 
If I hadn't fainted when they kissed, perhaps I should 
have done something, for in my highest moments, 
when I am white-hot, this little hunchback towers a 
head taller than everything, casts off fear like a cloak, 
and her will is done. No one had better make me mad. 
" Chris remained alone on the balcony a long while ; 
he must have brought one of his counterfeit Guar- 
neriuses with him, for he presently began to play, 
rendering an Ernst reverie with delicious peace and 
intimite. He seemed to do it to console me. I waited 
on till he went away near eleven." 



"The same night," continued the quaint maid two 
days later, " that Chris and Yvonne met on that south 
balcony, Monsieur de Ballu, the notaire, came over 
from Toulouse on a visit. In passing through the 
salon, meaning to go to bed, I saw his old rat-face, 
which resembles Robespierre's. All these old fogies 
down here have an eighteenth-century air to me. De 
Ballu is Yvonne's parrain (godfather), and one of the 
guardians and administrators. I noticed him deep in 
talk with old Choderlos de Hanska in a far part of the 
salon, while his mountain of a wife spoke with Olivia 
and the Conseilleur Municipal. Little did I dream 
what trouble that old man was even then hatching for 
my poor head. 

"The next morning, while I was being dressed, 
Olivia came with the news that Chris had gone off to 
Toulouse. ' What on earth for ? ' I asked. She didn't 
know. I went down late with a headache to second 
dejeuner. A few people were still there, among them 
old Choderlos de Hanska, who, as she rose from table, 
passed by me, saying in that sort of court whisper in 
which the French monde is expert, 'All will be well: 
Monsieur Wilson has gone to Toulouse to interview 


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Monsieur de Ballu.' Before I could say a word the old 
windbag was gone, with her finger on her lips. I was 
perfectly astonished. What, I wondered, could Chris 
possibly have to say to this old French lawyer, or he 
to Chris ? 

"I was soon to know! Chris came back about 
two-thirty o'clock. I was at a window of that huge 
old room on the ground floor which they call 'the 
salle,' looking out for him. He got out of his carriage 
precipitately, looking flushed and radiant. As he was 
passing by me, I stepped out to him. 'Why, Cousin 
Chris,' I said in a wretchedly sycophant voice, 'I have 
hardly spoken a word with you for two days.' I was 
the last thing in the world of which he was thinking at 
that moment! 'Mmm, my own dear friend,' he said, 
' forgive me. Much has been going forward — but 
you will soon hear.' 'What is it? You have been to 
Toulouse — ' 'We will speak together,' he said, and 
was gone with a wave of his hand. As he entered the 
house, I flew to watch, and caught sight of him going 
up the branch of the stair which leads to Yvonne's 
quarters ; so whatever was the matter concerned Yvonne. 

"I was on thorns. I went searching, for the second 
time, for old Choderlos de Hanska. They said she was 
taking siesta; then I found Olivia at the salon piano, 
and asked if madame la comtesse had not said anything 
about the object of Chris's interview with old de Ballu. 
'Not a word,' she answered. I had to wait about in 
suspense, the house very still and dull, a party of them 

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having gone riding to Moulin Chantepleure, the rest 
were scattered about the salon, verandas and terraces, 
or taking siesta, the sun blazing, the ladies as lightly 
clad as a man could wish, and strains of studies in 
chords reaching one's ears from time to time. They 
have always been sweet to me, those strains of Chris's 
riddle, for I have thought then, ' He is not near her now, 
nor thinking of her.' At last Choderlos de Hanska 
came, with a raw look of sleep in her eyes, — ghastly old 
thing, I hate her. I'd rather be a young hunchback 
than an old beauty. She melted into smiles and nods 
on seeing my anxious face, and I got her out to the 
salon balcony, where we were alone. 'What, then, is 
happening?' I asked. 

'Ma cher-r-e, it has all come about by the most 
extraordinary Providence — ' 

'But what?' I asked, dreading a rigmarole. 
'Is it possible that you do not even yet surmise 
that there is about to be a wedding among us ? ' 


"'Monsieur Wilson and Yvonne.' 

"'A wedding/ 1 

'"A wedding.' 
'I suppose you jest, madame,' I said, 'since you 
know as well as I do that Monsieur Wilson is already 

' Ma cher-r-e, I never jest after siesta,'' said the old 
hag. 'Don't be so astonished. When Providence 
wishes to witness a situation, it devises it. Listen, and 


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you shall hear. Last night Monsieur de Ballu was 
here. You must have seen him. He and I were in 
conversation, when he happened to mention the case 
of one of his clients who, having set up a business in 
London, married an English lady, but the marriage 
was unhappy, and the young man, on returning to 
France, married a lady of Toulouse. I had no idea 
that this could be done, and expressed my astonishment 
at it, but Monsieur de Ballu assured me that the affair 
was quite formal, since the marriage in London had 
not taken place before a French consul, and was there- 
fore null and void in France, the bridegroom being a 
French citizen.' 

"My heart ceased to beat; I could only just groan 
something about 'some mistake,' and 'what madmen 
could make such a law.' 

" ' Laws are like the scheme of things, my dear,' she 
said, 'they only seem mad because we others do not 
know the spirit of them. At any rate, when I heard 
this, Monsieur Wilson and Yvonne of course leapt into 
my mind. I ventured to recount everything to Mon- 
sieur de Ballu, and it was then decided between us 
that all would be well, provided that the musician is 
really a French citizen, and provided that his English 
marriage did not take place in the presence of a French 
consul. If these two things are so, he can marry 
Yvonne, and I have just received a telegram from 
Monsieur de Ballu assuring me that they are so.' 
; ' But is not Hannah, then, his lawful wife ? ' 

[ 142] 

The Lost Viol 

"'Oh, yes — in England; not in France.' 
'So a Frenchman can have two lawful wives in 
Europe ? ' 

"'Yes, four or five.' 

'"Oh, but, madame, what lunacy!' 

'"I thought you would be pleased,' she sighed. 
'I am most pleased!' I answered, like a fool, 'but 
who,' I groaned, 'could be expected to know this 
obscure French law in the country parts of England ? 
Chris married in all good faith, not dreaming — no 
one dreamed - We all assumed that Chris was an 
Englishman: his father was English-born, his mother 
an English woman — ' 

'All that does not alter the law, ma cher-r-e,' she 
said. 'French laws are not made for the benefit of 
English ladies, but for the amusement of French men. 
And, after all, what harm is done ? One wife in 
England and another in France are only two, nor can 
they be jealous the one of the other, for each will 
consider the other a mistress. As for me, I am a good 
Catholic, my dear, but, between us, Mahomet was also 
a prophet. And, as a matter of fact, is not polygamy 
more general in Paris than in Cairo — ? ' 

'But at any rate, Hannah is his wife in England/ 3 
I cried. 'English law isn't going to permit him to 
remarry in France, even though French law does.' 

"'No, his marriage in England is final from the 
English point of view,' she said, ' so, if he remarries in 
France, he will return to England at his own risk, 

[ 143 ] 

The Lost Viol 

Monsieur de Ballu even says that to a bigamy of that 
sort English justice would show itself extremely severe 
— if it knew of it. But then, geniuses are exempt 
from everything.' 

" ' They are not — not in England ! I cried, for I 
couldn't restrain my rage, ' and that settles it, for Chris 
will often have to be in England, and surely Yvonne 
would never expose him to this awful risk — ' 

"'That is not the point with Yvonne, the risk,' she 
answered; 'she has not thought of that, and, in fact 
the risk is very slight, my dear, whatever you may say 
of it. But the point with Yvonne is the other lady. 
She absolutely refuses to marry Monsieur Wilson. 
After his interview with Monsieur de Ballu this morn- 
ing, Monsieur Wilson hastened with the good news to 
Yvonne's apartments, and Ernestine, who partly over- 
heard their interview, tells me that Yvonne first waltzed 
about the room with glee, then suddenly changed, and 
in the end refused to hear of the marriage. She said 
that, even if she was willing to wrong the other lady to 
the extent of entering into a liaison with her husband, 
bearing the shame of it while enjoying the sin, yet she 
was not so wicked as to shelter herself behind an 
international quibble and legally usurp one who is 
already another's. "The word 'wife' has no plural, 
Chris," the poor child said. I don't know in what 
grammar she found it; in my time it was 'wives' that 
had no singular, except in the breviary. So for the 
present there is a deadlock. But sufficient pressure, 


The Lost Viol 

you may be sure, will be brought to bear upon Yvonne 
to induce her to be more worldly.' 

"'Pressure by whom ?' I asked; but before she could 
answer, a flunkey brought her a card. ' From Monsieur 
de Ballu,' she whispered me, and went off, leaving me 
undone. At that hour the day before such a thought 
as Chris marrying Yvonne had never entered a human 
brain; it had all come through the cackle of those two 
old geese. And it was I who had brought Chris to 
Chateaubrun! Much thanks did I get for it! I, who 
had done all for her, was forgotten, ignored, and she 
swimming in joy. I felt that if ever I should see her 
the wife of Chris — They have no right to make me 

" I wouldn't believe a word of what the old hag had 
told me, but at once sent Olivia to order a caleche, and 
by four o'clock we were off to Toulouse, leaving old 
Choderlos de Hanska and Monsieur de Ballu in an 
interview with Yvonne. In Toulouse I put the case 
before the first lawyer I could find. He told me that 
it was true, all, all, that Choderlos de Hanska had 
said — Chris could marry Yvonne. What a sudden, 
undreamt-of thing! I had never conceived anything 
but a short liaison between them, for I always had a 
girl-to-girl fondness for Yvonne, and could have borne 
to see that: but this was lifelong union. I understood 
that Yvonne might say no to the marriage at first, 
and be on the stage, as all Frenchwomen always are, 
but I felt that she couldn't long resist the bliss and 

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greatness of owning Chris for life. When I got back 
to the chateau I went up to the sort of flat to which 
Yvonne 'retires'; at the top of the stairs Ernestine, 
hanging about in a state of suspense, whispered me: 
' Madame Choderlos de Hanska and Monsieur de Ballu 
are still in conference with her. She is about to yield.' 

"Then a head peeping out between the portieres of 
Yvonne's ante-chamber, said, 'Ah, it is you, mad- 
emoiselle' — old Choderlos de Hanska ; she put her lips 
to my ear with the whisper, 'I have left Monsieur de 
Ballu alone with her.' 

"'What for?' I asked. 

"'It was essential.' 

" ' But why not let Monsieur Wilson do his own 
persuading, madame ? ' 

" ' He is not to see her again till all is settled. He 
has very sagaciously handed over the whole affaire to 
the tuteurs (guardians).' 

" While speaking to me she was touched from behind 
by Monsieur de Ballu, and they two entered into a 
whispering with gesticulations which must have lasted 
twenty minutes, rivers of words. Then Choderlos de 
Hanska sailed through the little salon, and went in to 
Yvonne alone, while Monsieur de Ballu sat in the little 
salon, a book on his knees, but his ferret-eyes fixedly 
leering at Yvonne's door. I waited in the ante- 
chamber, feeling all out of it, but after a time ventured 
to peep into the little salon and say to Monsieur de 
Ballu, 'May I see my cousine now?' Silly! I ought 

[ 146] 

The Lost Viol 

to have walked in boldly, for at my question that old 
Jaek-in-office cast up his eyes and hands to heaven, 
then shook his head crazily, stopping and beginning 
again, meaning 'A thousand times no.' 

"I wished to warn Yvonne of the danger of a second 
marriage to Chris when he should go back to England, 
though I knew in my heart that the danger was mainly 
theoretical, since no one would be busybody enough 
to act in the matter, even if it were known in London; 
but I wished to frighten her with it; so when I had 
withdrawn again into the ante-chamber, I stood near 
the portiere, feeling shy and out of place, but clinging 

"Presently Choderlos de Hanska opened Yvonne's 
boudoir door a little, and beckoned to Monsieur de 
Ballu, who went in. This was French 'intrigue'! 
Then came Chris almost on tiptoe along the darkling 
corridor, with pauses and listenings. 

'Have you seen her?' he whispered to me; 'is she 
about to yield ? ' 

"'Yes, Cousin Chris, but — ' 

!< Sh-h-h' -with his finger on his lips. He stole 
off again. My heart failed me. I had nothing to say 
to him to which he was not deaf. 

' Then came a heavy bonhomme with creaking boots 
and an air of business — one of the tuteurs, I suppose; 
I had never seen him before. On seeing me, he said 
at my ear, 'Is she about to yield?' Monsieur de Ballu 
had just come out again from Yvonne, so he and the 


The Lost Viol 

newcomer met warmly, and went off into whispering, 
of which I could only hear 'about to yield,' 'will not 
yield,' 'it is necessary,' 'mon ami,' 'the testament,' 
'the code Napoleonique,' 'the English law,' the 'tu- 
teurs,' 'yield,' 'yield,' — a thousand times over. Pres- 
ently Choderlos de Hanska came out, the three whis- 
pered together, and the two men went in to Yvonne. 
I asked Choderlos de Hanska who was the heavy man, 
and she said, ' Monsieur Tombarel, the mayor.' 

"Then came Olivia, all fuss, wanting me to go to 
dinner, and I had to, for I was famished. Neither 
Chris nor Choderlos de Hanska appeared at table, 
where everyone seemed trying to be unconscious that 
something was going on. As I went up the stairs 
again, Ernestine ran down to meet me with the breath- 
less news, ' Maitre Bibesco has arrived ! It is said that 
she is about to yield.' I neither knew nor cared who 
Maitre Bibesco was, but on peeping into the little 
salon I saw him — a huge Danton of a man with a 
lowering brow. There were now four of them in there 
at Yvonne. I hung about the corridor and portieres 
for hours, waiting my chance to see her, or send in a 
note, but it never came; one by one, or two, three, 
four together, they were with her. The to-do that 
those people made that night! The chaos of words, 
the plans and shifts, the wine that they drank! They 
were just in their element, with an 'affaire' to let 
themselves loose over. About eleven I left them, and 
went to bed shivering and burning at once. 

[ 148] 

The Lost Viol 

"The next morning, as I lay abed, Ernestine ran in 
to say, ' She has not yielded, but it is believed that she 
will yield this afternoon at about two ' — and rushed 
out again. Ten minutes later Olivia was saying to 
me, 'She has not yielded.' I said, 'What, have you, 
too, caught the epidemic of " yield " ? ' Presently my 
own maid brought me in a note from old Choderlos 
de Hanska, scribbled with the words, 'She has not 
yielded, but signs are not wanting. Monsieur Tom- 
barel will be with her at eleven.' I said to Olivia, 
'It is all French play-acting, she will "yield" soon 
enough; but in that case my mind is made up what to 
do.' I had resolved during the night: I should tell 
Hannah all, and let Hannah defend her rights. I 
might have got dressed in time to go to warn Yvonne 
of Chris's danger from English law before any of the 
tuteurs were with her, but I would not now be at the 
pains, for I felt that nothing in the end would keep 
her from 'yielding'; and my mind was quite made up 
that one wife is enough for Chris. 

"But the fuss all that day! The arrivals and de- 
partures, the telegrams, the mounted messengers! 
Though I was kept informed of most things by one or 
another of them, still I couldn't grasp what it was all 
about, nor could conceive how the ' affaire ' had become 
so mightily complex in so short a time. "What made it 
worse was that those with Yvonne sent hourly tele- 
grams to those in Toulouse: 'She is about to yield,' 
'She does not yield,' 'Send both documents,' 'Your 

[ 149] 

The Lost Viol 

presence is essential,' ' Consult Leyds of Paris as to 
droits de tutelage,' 'Influence of Madame de Ballu 
would prove most useful auxiliary at present juncture,' 
and more. Besides, there were the three visits of the 
physician, who himself became one of the arguers and 
persuaders. Near two o'clock in the afternoon Chod- 
erlos de Hanska told me that Yvonne would become 
dangerously ill if the strain continued; she had fainted 
some minutes before in attempting to sit up in bed. 
I pitied her, but pitied myself more. Twice she sent 
for Chris to go to her, but Chris was not allowed to go, 
her longing to see him being one of the means used to 
persuade her. But soon after three Ernestine ran to 
me with the news, 'It is finished: Monsieur Wilson is 
now with her. She has yielded.' 

" My mind was quite made up. I at once telegraphed 
to Hannah in Paris, ' Will you be at the same address 
the day after to-morrow?' At six I got the answer, 

"Yvonne's rooms were still more or less full of her 
friends enjoying the after- taste of their victory; so, 
not wishing to see either her or Chris, I simply wrote 
her a note, saying that Olivia and I were going to 
Cannes to meet some one, and should soon be back. 

'What on earth Hannah would or could do now I 
couldn't imagine, but I knew that she would do some- 
thing effective, and I was determined to set her on the 
back of Yvonne. One wife at a time for Chris, ladies. 
At 7.15 I left Toulouse for Paris, arrived at," etc., etc. 



"By eleven in the morning I was at 14 rue Boissy 
d'Anglas," continued the little maid three days later. 
' The concierge told me that Hannah lived at Madame 
Brault's, a pension at the top of the hive, so up and up 
I climbed — to the fifth floor, troops of work-girls 
hurrying all about the dark stairs. Hannah wasn't in, 
but was expected in to dejeuner at noon, a servant 
said. I answered that I would wait, and was led into 
a little salon, where I sat a long time, trying to keep 
my palms dry. When any one came in I felt relieved 
that it was not Hannah. I don't know why I should 
have been so nervous. 

" At last Hannah swept in, vomiting her energy like a 
volcano, uttered a cry, and caught me in her arms, chat- 
tering French, slurring her r's daintily like a Parisienne. 
She had quite a chic hat and coiffure, with a stole tossing 
about her, and looked tall and smart, no sign yet of any- 
thing coming. I always disliked the girl, but if I had 
not, I should have liked her. I ceased to be nervous the 
moment she flew at me and took me to her. She se* me 
down, knelt before me, and caressed my hands, pouring 
out all the paltry news of a letter received by her from 
Orrock that morning, without letting me speak. 


The Lost Viol 

" ' Well, it is home again to see you,' she said at last. 
' What brought you to Paris ? Tell me about yourself. 
I believe you have news for me. You know where 
Chris is." 

" ' Chris is at Chateaubrun,' I said. 

"Her palms just lifted a little from me, as if hurt, 
then came back. 

"'With Yvonne?' 


"'Oh, the rogue! he oughtn't to be.' 

" I enjoyed her struggle to hide her pang and dismay 
under a light air. 

'"Hannah, things have come to a fine pass at Cha- 
teaubrun,' I said, 'and I have come all this way to 
tell you, because you know that I have your interests 
at heart, and I could not say everything in a letter. 
Chris has been at Chateaubrun four weeks — ' 

'"And you didn't tell me,' she put in. 

" ' How could I ? ' I said. ' Yvonne is my friend, 
too, and my hostess. It was delicate.' 

'"So true. But tell me.' 
'Prepare yourself to hear the most startling news, 
Hannah — ' 

'"Come, Hannah, sit tight,' she put in. 

'"Chris is going to marry Yvonne,' I said. 

"Again her palms started up a little, and slowly 
came back upon me. 

"'He can't do that,' she murmured. 

'"He can,' I said, 'there is a law in France — ' 


The Lost Viol 

"'Give it to me in the good old home brogue,' she 
said, for I had been speaking in French without know- 
ing, so I changed into English, and told nearly every- 
thing. She listened at my knees at first, but presently 
getting up, stood at a window with her back almost 
turned to me, but listening attentively. When I had 
said all, she stood silent awhile, then, chucking up her 
head, said, 'Nice young lady that.' I was astonished 
at her coolness, but thought to myself, 'Since she is 
cool, she will act all the more effectively.' 

"'As to Yvonne,' I began, 'she ought to be 
ashamed — ' 

"'So ought you,' from Hannah. 

"'// But why?' 

'"For staying in such a house.' 

"'Oh, as to that—' 

"'Well, God grant them joy.' 

"'You take it coolly, Hannah.' 

" At this, she suddenly spun round upon me, crying 
out in a startlingly loud voice, 'Oh, my dear, the 
flames of these fires, such is His mercy, cannot touch 
me!' Her face was crimson with passion. I was 
frightened by the woman's shout. She then turned 
sharply to the window again, and I could see her 
trembling from head to foot. The 'flames of these 
fires' did touch my Hannah. Perhaps she had been 
reading Dante: something like that was what Beatrice 
said when she came from heaven into the flames of 
torment. There she stood, silent and trembling; but 


The Lost Viol 

in a minute or two I heard her humming ' viens, pou- 
poule,' to herself. I didn't venture to say anything, 
I was so startled. Presently she spun round again, 
picked up a fiddle from the piano-top, and said, showing 
it to me, ' I have been practising on it — fifteen hours 
a day sometimes — for a year, in order to make myself 
a little worthy of him. That's all thrown into the 
deep blue sea now.' 

" I was sorry for her at the moment — and alarmed 
at her resignation. 

'But why thrown into the sea?' I said. 'Don't 
take it so coolly, Hannah!' 

'My dear,' she answered, 'at this moment there 
are ten thousand poor people lying with their death- 
sweats on their forehead, all worse off than I, and they 
have to face and bear it. What can't be cured must 
be endured.' 

' But,' I said astonished, ' you don't mean that you 
are going to allow Yvonne to have it all her own way 
with your own husband ? ' 

' Really, Kathleen ! ' she answered, ' what can you 
think of me ? Am I to strive and cry ? One must 
have some self-respect. I have been following Chris 
about, not merely because I am married to him, but 
because I believed that his infatuation for that woman 
didn't amount to much, and that he really loved me 
at bottom. But when he proves beyond doubt that 
he does love her, and cares nothing for me, what's left 
for me to do? I go back to England to-night.' 

[ 154] 

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"As she said this, all my hopes fell to the ground. 
Not a doubt had crossed my mind that she would find 
something strong to do to stop Chris and Yvonne; and 
now I saw my voyage to Paris taken in vain, and I 
saw Yvonne in sure, lifelong possession of Chris. I 
set myself to plead with Hannah with tears in my 
eyes. I tried her on every side. 'You can never 
marry again, as long as Chris lives,' I said. She 
laughed, crying out, ' Oh ! one marriage is plenty for a 
lifetime!' Then I dared to say, 'Of course, I don't 
know whether you and Chris have ever been together 
all this time, but, if so, think of what may come, and 
he another woman's husband.' Her eyes, I thought, 
rested sharply on me a moment, as I said this; then 
she laughed rather wildly, but made no answer. I 
tried every argument, and still she remained 'un- 
touched' by 'these fires,' till it occurred to me that I 
hadn't yet mentioned about the risk which Chris 
would run from English law, if he married Yvonne. 
That did it! While I spoke of it she stood staring 
strangely at me, and then just breathed: 'You don't 
mean that he can be imprisoned in England ? ' 

' ' I do mean just that,' I said strongly, seeing the 
effect I had made: 'Imprisonment, penal servitude, 
infamy — his high career blighted forever, Hannah, — ' 

' No one will know,' she said in a low voice. 

'But how do you mean? I said; 'can a public 
character like Chris marry without every one knowing ? ' 
Then, seeing the necessity to clinch the nail, I invented 


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a story, and added: 'Besides, there's a man staying 
now at Chateaubrun named de Marsillac, who is madly 
in love with Yvonne and hates Chris; he and Chris 
have fought a duel, he knows that Chris was married 
before, and he swears that the moment Chris marries 
Yvonne he will communicate the fact to the London 
police — ' 

'My boy,' she murmured, with her lips trembling. 
' What will you do, Hannah ? ' I asked. ' You can't 
stand quietly by and witness such a disaster.' 

"She didn't answer, sat down with her palm under 
her chin, thinking of it. I had said all that I could 
now, and felt worn out. It was for her now to act, 
and I watched her with interest to see what she would 
do. Presently she sprang up, threw her hat one way, 
her stole another, and stood again at the window, 
looking out. I saw her hand steal up and wipe away 
a tear. Then she said behind her shoulder, 'Surely 
the woman doesn't know all this ? ' 

"'She does — of course,' I said. 

"'And Chris, too?' 

"'Yes, of course.' 

" ' So it's no use any one writing to warn them ? ' 

"'Not the least, I'm afraid.' 

"'But the woman must be mad!' 

" ' People who are in love don't mind the future,' 
I said. 

'In love,'' she repeated with contempt. 

"'Will you do something, Hannah?' I asked. 


The Lost Viol 

'Will I breathe?' she answered. 'Chris is my 
friend, Kathleen — a one-sided affair no doubt, but 
still — that's all right. Husband-and-wife isn't so 
much — one flesh — but friend-and-friend is one soul, 
you know. That goes pretty deep, that. I shall do 
something, of course; don't know what. That will be 
told me later, perhaps.' 

'But they are to be married soon!' I said. 

'"Well, we'll see.' 

"Soon after this, dejeuner-bell began to ring, and 
three people came into the room. Hannah wished me 
to stay, but I wouldn't. I told her that I wanted to 
return at once to Chateaubrun, so that Yvonne might 
not suspect that I had been to Paris. She kissed me 
coldly, I thought, at good-by. Ah, my Hannah, there 
is more between my soul and you than you know: 
I should have liked to like you, if I had not disliked 
you. Anyway, she will be doing something strong 
and effective," etc., etc. 



Hannah did, indeed, do "something," going in the 
first place to the British consul five minutes' walk, 
from the rue Boissy d'Anglas, got there the address of 
an English solicitor, and set off in a cab to find him. 
But at his offices near the Grand Boulevard, she learned 
that he was away for a week. It was late then, four 
o'clock, and knowing of no other English solicitor, she 
determined to make short work, to go to England, and 
consult a London expert the next morning. 

She drove through London at that early hour when 
men are washing the streets with hoses, went to her old 
lodgings in Guilford Street, and by ten A. m. was getting 
from her detectives in Berners Street — the detectives 
who were trying to find her viol and trinkets — the 
address of an expert in international marriage law. 

By eleven she was shut in with the great man in a 
room in the Middle Temple. "Deep as he is long!" 
she wrote of him. "Never in my life beheld such a 
paunch: '/ first,' it says to great little man, and he 
comes trotting after; and not only legs ridiculously 
short for what's up above, but trousers too short for 

legs." It was Mr. G , the little judgc-bullicr, an 

Irishman, since dead. 


The Lost Viol 

Mr. G stood with his back to a fire, gowned 

and wigged, ready to step over to the courts, his hands 
in his large pockets; and Hannah, sitting veiled by a 
table before him, put her case. 

" And you wish to know ? " he asked. 

"Firstly, whether he can legally marry the French- 

"Is it certain that no French consul was at his first 
marriage ? " 

" Quite." 

"Then he can marry in France." 

"Yes. Secondly, I want to know how English law 
regards this legal marriage in France." 

"As bigamy." 

"Yes, I had heard that. But I want to know what 
would be the actual consequences to him in England ? 
Surely, since he is a Frenchman, and is only acting 
according to the laws of his country, no English judge 
would actually punish him for it?" 

"There you are mistaken, madam. Just the con- 
trary — a ruffian of that sort would catch it pretty 
hot, I can tell you, from an English judge." 

" He is not a ruffian, only a wild boy." 

" What, to leave his English wife, and marry another 
woman ? Shameful conduct." 

"His English wife is hardly very worthy of him, 

"Pardon me there, she's a long way more than 
worthy of him; for I know." 


The Lost Viol 

"But apart from that, I want to know, thirdly and 
lastly, what can be done to save him?" 

"Why, what do you suppose can be done to save 
him ? except to induce him to behave himself in a 
respectable manner." 

"'His paunch laughed,' wrote Hannah; "shouldn't 
have known that he was laughing, but saw it going, 
and drew my own conclusions." 

"But something must be done," she said. "He is 
not an ordinary man, Mr. G — — : just think, his career 
will be only half a career, if he never comes to England 
— Can this be allowed to hang over him ? " 

Mr. G looked at his watch, smiled, and said 

almost tenderly, "What can J do, madam?" 

"But I felt so sure in the cab coming to you," per- 
sisted Hannah, "that I was being guided, that you 
would suggest some way out. Oh, pray, think for me ! 
I myself am so utterly at a loss — Perhaps if you only 
knew who he is! — such a big lot is at stake." 

Mr. G , with a puckered brow, said: "I only 

wish I knew what you mean, and could help you. 
What way out can there be ? The law is clear : if a 
foreigner comes to England and breaks the law of 
England, he must surfer. The only thing that could 
cause the law to condone or forgive such a gross bigamy 
is the wife's previous misconduct, or the wife's previous 
bigamy, of which the husband knew before his own 
bigamy, and which he could prove." 

"As he said this," wrote Hannah, "it was as if God 

[ 161 ] 

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spoke to me by his voice. Sat electrified — all clear 
before me. Had known with certainty when I crossed 
that threshold that a message would be sent me, and 
here it was." 

"Well, that can be done," she said to Mr. G . 

"What can, madam?" 

" Could not his wife marry illegally, and contrive to 
let him know before his own second marriage that she 
had done so ? Then he will always have the excuse to 
plead that she abandoned him before he abandoned 

"One part of him," wrote Hannah, "again went 

" You can't be serious, madam," said Mr. G- . 

"Could it not be done?" 

"It could be done, certainly; all sorts of breaches of 
the law can be done : but woe to the woman who dares 
do that, I tell you." 

"Why so?" 

"Doesn't she commit a bigamy in order to save a 
man from the consequences of his bigamy ? " 

" That's no sin, if her second marriage is unreal." 

"It's a crime." 

" Oh, crimes that are no sin: I'd commit any number 
of them before breakfast." 

"Well, I never yet met a woman who respects the 

law," said Mr. G . "But, madam, if the lady in 

question is a — friend of yours, do let me warn you 
most solemnly against any such step on her part. I 


The Lost Viol 

never heard the like! Tricks of that sort can't be 
played with the law, mark you: sooner or later it finds 
means to avenge itself. There now, I shall consider 
that I have earned my fee of you, if I have taught you 

Hannah hardly heard. She was all inwardness, 

thought, and feeling; the "law" of Mr. G was 

hardly to her the highest sort of law; springing up, she 
warmly thanked and shook hands with the lawyer. 

She drove from there to a timber-yard in Lamb's 
Conduit Street, leaning over the cab-doors, eager to 
arrive, an impulse now upon her from which nothing 
could have turned her. At the gate of the timber-yard 
she had a fifteen minutes' talk with a young workman 
named Willie Dawe, the same whom she had rescued 
from the sea at Orrock. He had come up to seek his 
fortune, and she, who knew everything about each 
Orrock life, had often seen him in London. After 
her talk with him, she drove the short way to the 
Clerkenwell Town-hall, and arranged for a marriage 
there in three days' time. 

But during those three days her heart seems to have 
often failed her; her diary was filled with doubts and 
fears, self-accusations of "impulse," of "pride," of 
"stubbornness," of "self-will," of "self-love," of 
"rashness"; passionate prayers for "guidance," again 
and again repeated; terrors as to the future of her 
child, and of herself; love-cries of her abandoned 
heart. But if she imagined that to accuse herself 

[ 163 ] 

The Lost Viol 

many times of "stubbornness" could make less stub- 
born, she was mistaken, since one can by no means 
fly oneself: in reality, though all things else in her 
shrank and were weak, her founded will never budged. 
"A tailor the ninth of a man," she wrote, "a genius 
nine men; so as I stepped from town-hall with my 
Willie, thought to myself, 'This your tenth marriage, 
Hannah.' Said to my Willie: 'Understand now, 
Willie, what I didn't tell you formally before, though 
you guessed, that I am not really a widow, Mr. Wilson 
still alive, so your marriage with me not binding on 
you, you can marry again whenever you like.' 'I 
guessed as much, Miss Hannah,' said my dear boy, 
' that's all right between us ' — shy as a squirrel, 
looking lovely in Sunday best. I said, 'Here's the 
£2, and mind how you spend it, hear you are a gay 
one for the girls and the beer; but promise to get 
back to work this afternoon, and to come to see me 
sometimes.' Promised, and we parted fondly. To- 
night typewritten letter to be posted to Chateaubrun. 
The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.' 

[ 164] 


Meanwhile, the quaint maid at Chateaubrun was 
writing: "But why does she wait? If she means to do 
something effective, now, now, is the time, before 
every one here gets to know of the impending marriage. 
I thought that she would have been here days ago, 
and been at Yvonne like a fury. But nothing done. 
I have written to her at Paris, beseeching her to come, 
to do something; but no reply. Of what, in God's 
name, can Hannah be thinking? I am certain that 
she said she would do something: when I asked her 
if she would, she answered, 'Will I breathe?' Then 
why doesn't she come ? The marriage is fixed for the 
12th before the mayor. Yvonne is crazily excited. 
She was in bed again yesterday: one day as gay as a 
bird, the next down in bed. Old Choderlos dc Hanska 
repeats in a court- whisper that she is 'In the grip of 
a tragic destiny,' whatever that means. Chris just 
smiles and stirs one eyebrow," etc., etc. 

On the day after the date of this entiy the little 
maid was sitting alone in a grape-arbor at the entrance 
of an avenue near the chateau, some torn envelopes 
by her side — the post had lately come — and a volume 


The Lost Viol 

of Kant lying unread, for she was in distress, since 
among her letters was none from Hannah. 

At that hour of ten it looked like noon, so glaring 
was the Southern morning. 

Presently Kathleen heard a step, peeped out of the 
arbor, and saw Chris coming quickly, looking flushed, 
an open letter in his hand. "I heard that you were 
here," he said to her, "just read that." 

Kathleen took the letter and ran her quick eyes 
over the typewritten words: 

"Dear Sir: 

"Are you aware that your wife, Hannah Wilson, 
has lately contracted a second marriage in London ? 
This is the truth, as you may at any time convince 
yourself by applying at the Clerkenwell Registry-office 
for a copy of the certificate. 

"Yours always, 

"A Friend." 

The quaint maid went awfully pale as she read 
this! for her sharp wits at once pierced to the truth 
that Hannah had really now done "something," but 
the opposite to her hopes, making the new marriage 
safe for Chris instead of fighting it tooth and nail. 

" What do you think of it ? " asked Chris. 

"It is true," she murmured, sitting down. 

"But it can't possibly be true," said Chris. 

Kathleen could hardly speak, and disliked Hannah 


The Lost Viol 

far too much at that moment to be at the pains to 
explain to Chris what must be Hannah's motive. 

"To me it is merely incredible," repeated Chris. 

" You ought to be glad." 

"If Well, I suppose I ought to be glad in one way, 
if it can possibly be true: but, on the contrary, I am 
most sorry. This woman bears my name, and I was 
prouder of it, Kathleen, than I realized till now, it 
seems. I should have something to say to the good 
gentleman concerned, if I met him, I think ! " 

Kathleen did not care, nor answer: she felt too ill. 

"Can Hannah Wilson be base?" asked Chris with 
opening arms. "If that be so, I shall never again 
trust a human soul! What have I done, that she 
should abandon me in this fashion? I who have 
wished to do all that I could for her, and was about 
to make over to her most that our good uncle left me ? 
But this letter must be a libel : her soul had for me the 
noblest perfume — " 

"You couldn't have both Hannah and Yvonne, 
Chris," murmured Kathleen. 

" But why not ? " asked the astonished Chris, " since 
they would not have met each other? How sorrows 
come unmerited upon one's head! It is as when one 
owns a ring or a precious stone which he never sees, 
but when it is lost, he has a feeling of poverty. Can 
nothing be done for me? Will you write, Kathleen, 
to the office in London, and find out if this is true ? " 

"If you like," answered Kathleen, and that day she 


The Lost Viol 

made Miss Olivia write, she herself being in bed with 
a racked brow; but before the answer came from 
London a great grief had fallen upon Chateaubrun, 
so that when it came, and Chris was shown the proof 
of Hannah's marriage, he saw it with bewildered eyes, 
for he was then bereft of Yvonne as well as of Hannah. 

The day after the coming of that typewritten letter 
from "a friend" was one of the last of the grape-vin- 
tage in that part, and it had been arranged that a 
party from the chateau should go out as reapers to a 
vineyard named l'Adhemar, two or three miles away. 
About three, then, in the blazing afternoon they set 
out gaily in several kinds of carriage, the ladies looking 
as much like peasant vendangeuses as they could, with 
straw hats, and coarse gloves on their hands. 

Chris and Yvonne drove together with Monsieur de 
Marsillac and the old comtesse Choderlos de Hanska; 
Kathleen and Miss Olivia were in an old-fashioned 
sort of yellow painted coach with some men. Yvonne 
was rather feverishly gay that day, but Chris was 
absent-minded: the affair of Hannah had put him into 
that large, yearning mood in which music is often 
written, so he had been trying to write his sigh, but 
had done nothing excellent: and this failure, this 
musical flea and unrest, was fretting his mind. He had 
said nothing as yet to Yvonne about the typewritten, 
letter from London ; was waiting to have it first proved 
or disproved. 

As to Kathleen, it was odd that she went with the 


The Lost Viol 

others that day, since she had worked herself into a 
fever at what would certainly now take place before 
Monsieur Tombarel, the mayor, in five days' time; 
however, no one guessed at her headache and hot skin, 
for she laughed and talked with the rest. 

When they came to l'Adhemar, the vigneron and 
his family, who expected them, gave out reaping-scissors 
and baskets, and with a crowd of boys and girls the 
party went out to the terraced hills, scattered, and 
reaped with the other reapers. 

Yvonne in the vines had filled her basket, had borne 
it to one of the carts, and was again filling it, when she 
called out, " Monsieur Wilson ! are you there ? " — for 
each reaper was hidden from the rest, the soil there- 
abouts being deep, and the scene very different from 
those scrubby vineyards of central France which, how- 
ever, yield the choicest wine. L'Adhemar gives one 
of those strong wines, like Hermitage and the Pro- 
vencal crops, which are reaped almost as late as port; 
and here the hills are thickly grown, with trellises and 
espaliers reaching well above one's head. 

Chris called back in answer to Yvonne's call, fol- 
lowed the direction of her voice, and soon came upon 
her. They were there together in a little cave of 
shadow made of the hairy leaves, of the tendrils, and 
of the purple grappcs (or bunches), Yvonne's gloves 
already soaked, for at every wound made by the scissors 
in the vine, sap poured plenteously out. 

"You see, it is already 'she' who seeks 'him* rather 


The Lost Viol 

than he her," she said to Chris, looking like a saucy 
vendangeuse, and holding up in her lips a half-crushed 
grape to his; Chris fed on grape and lips together, 
whereat she, pretending to be outraged, said, "But, 
monsieur, this is very English conduct! Oah, shock- 
eeng ! seeing that I have not yet the honor to be Madame 

"Five days," murmured Chris. 

"Four and eight hours: tell me if it seems long.** 

Chris nodded, gazing into her eyes, and smiling. 

" Sometimes, mon ami," sighed Yvonne with sudden 
soberness, "I have a sharp sensation that it will never 
be ; four days — it is infinitely far, and that which is 
infinite has no end." 

" I get very little sleep," said Chris. 

"I sleep very well, but my sleep is full of dreams 
of one person> a woman, who is never angry, but 
always smiles: and this causes me to suffer, Chris." 

"That will soon be well." 

Yvonne sighed. 

"After all," she said, "an injustice has been done 
to us mortals: the problem of life has been made too 
deep and hard for our blind understandings." 

"We were not made to think, but to feel," said 
Chris; "whoever enjoys is the true worshiper of the 
Father. The grapes live rightly in their voluptuous 
nonchalance. In five days we shall be as defiantly 
perfect and happy as they." 

"Very well, I am ready, let us defy: but you must 


The Lost Viol 

give me a lot, a lot, a whole ocean, to poison the worm. 
Will you ? Tell me." 

Chris said yes with his eyebrows. 


He nodded. 

' Yes, soon. One — two — three — four. Do you 
know beforehand how a wife kisses ? " 

But their passion was startled by a step. Yvonne 
pushed Chris from her in a frightened manner (for all 
this was highly improper in France), and, as Chris 
disappeared, Kathleen came, looking awfully wan, 
though trying to laugh, saying, " Oh, you are here." 

'Yes, this is my second basket," said Yvonne: "and 

" I have filled one, but have stopped now, they are 
too heavy." 

'You do not look well, my poor dear," said Yvonne, 
kissing Kathleen's cheek. " I have been sorry, Kath- 
leen, that we have been so little together lately: you 
have guessed the cause of it, have you not ? But you 
do look pale to-day; are you suffering? Would it not 
be better if you go and sit in the cart over there ? " 

"I think I will, dear," said Kathleen, "my head 
aches terribly." 

"Stay, I will come with you." 

" No, dear, don't trouble, I can go — " 

The little maid turned off, disappeared, and Yvonne 
was left alone in her little home of leafage. For some 
ten minutes she now worked industriously, snipping 


The Lost Viol 

off the cones of grapes, now stooping, now reaching 
up, and dropping them into her basket; but presently 
she stopped, looked slyly round, hesitated, and called 
out, " Monsieur Wilson ! are you there ? " 

There was no answer; she repeated the call twice, 
but Chris did not come. In fact, he had wandered 
away, forgetting the vintaging, Yvonne and all, in his 
effort to catch a musical something, sad and sweet, 
which buzzed in his brain that day, but ever escaped 

Yvonne left her basket there, and went a little way 
to seek him, but checked herself, returned to her nook 
and worked again; but she could find no rest without 
him, and again set out to find him, with death treading 
close now at her elbow, with, as it were, death in her 

She went down-hill through the trellises until she 
came to a place where the hillside was rocky and bare, 
though lower down more vines grew; a level path ran 
across that bare place, and along this she went: but 
the setting sun was in her eyes, and stopping at one 
spot, she shaded them with her hand, looking abroad 
for any sign of Chris. 

She stood there with shaded eyes for perhaps not 
more than a minute, perhaps two or three ; but a second 
would have been long enough for the fate which awaited 

Those who knew her well, who were living at the 
time in the same house with her, have never recovered 

[ 172] 

The Lost Viol 

from the shock of it, she was so young and joyous, so 
beautiful, just about to be married. When they sud- 
denly saw her lying dead that afternoon, it was like a 
madness to them, they could not believe their eyes. 

On a ledge of the hillside perhaps twenty feet above 
where she stood was one of the little carts, holding the 
tonneau (or hogshead) into which the grapes are 
poured from the baskets. These carts are tilted up- 
ward toward the shafts and the donkey, and, as the 
hogshead is usually kept in position by a hook and eye, 
if the hook is slipped, the hogshead tumbles out at 
the tail of the cart. The tail of the cart above Yvonne 
was turned down-hill toward her; Kathleen was in the 
cart, resting; no one was there at the moment; the 
reapers were all buried in the vines; and during the 
short time that Yvonne stood below with shaded eyes, 
the little maid's hand, by some chance, knocked out 
the hook from the eye, and the hogshead, already 
heavy with grapes, went bounding down. 

Kathleen, seeing what had happened below, stood up 
in the cart, spread her arms, and howled to Heaven ; be- 
fore any one could come she leapt and ran howling up 
toward the vines with a face of madness; she met two 
people running to her, and, half-kneeling to them, her 
hands trembling together in prayer, she said, "Yvonne, 
Yvonne, come, come," and dropped to the ground. 

Chris Wilson, happily for him, was nowhere near 
there: he had gone wandering upward beyond the 
brow of the hills, not caring whither, alone with that 

[ 173 ] 

The Lost Viol 

sad musical motif which enticed, yet always escaped 
him. A note of it came to him Memnonian from that 
choir of colors going down in the west; the leaves in 
the breeze seemed to lisp to him, " You see, we know 
the tune of it, but can't utter it." He woke up to 
himself in an olive-wood a long way from l'Adhemar, 
looked feebly about, and wondered what had become 
of him. It was getting dark. He set out at random 
with the aim of getting back to l'Adhemar or to Cha- 
teaubrun, meaning to ask his way of any one whom he 
might meet. But he had soon forgotten this aim, and 
wandered for another hour in roundabout ways. Near 
nine o'clock, a peasant who met him in an avenue 
asked him if he had heard of " the calamity which the 
lady from Chateaubrun had met with." Chris listened 
absently, and went on his way with a dim knowledge 
in him that something had happened to some one; he 
had not well understood: the patois of that part was 
strange to him. It was ten before he at last asked 
his way at a cottage; and it was midnight before he 
reached Chateaubrun. 

The chateau seemed to be in darkness. He went 
in by an out-of-the-way door, and found his way 
up-stairs, guided here or there by a lonely night-light. 
Without having met any one, he was passing Yvonne's 
apartments toward his own, when he was struck by 
the strong light coining out between the portieres of 
her ante-chamber. He peeped in: her petit salon was 
alight with candles, but no one was there. He went in, 


The Lost Viol 

and peeped further into her cozy-corner; it, too, was 
ablaze with candle-light, but without any one in it; 
he wondered at this, and at the same time was struck 
by a memory of what the peasant had told him out in 
the country. Yvonne's chamber-door was a little open, 
and he could see that her chamber, too, like the other 
rooms, was ablaze with candle-light. He stood still 
some time with a beating heart. Not a sound was to 
be heard, save a very faint clicking sound from minute 
to minute. At last he peeped into the chamber, went 
in. Yvonne was lying on her bed, dressed for the 
grave, in a heap of flowers. No one was there but a 
nun kneeling in her black robes at the bedside, and 
telling her beads from minute to minute. 

After gazing at the face of his lover for some minutes, 
Chris went away at an eager walk to his own chamber, 
in which he found a lamp burning. There he walked 
to and fro with quick steps a little while, then at an 
open window put out his arms to the rolling heavens, 
which was thronged with such stars as one never sees 
in northern countries; a moment afterwards he turned 
sharply inward with a crimson, crying face, in a jiffy 
had paper and ink before him, and for twenty minutes 
was writing music in a fierce haste and heat of the soul. 
What he had sought all that day he found now: for 
this was when his marche funebre quintet in E flat, 
called " Mortalitc" was written. 

When it was finished he threw himself on a couch, 
empty, griefless, hopeless, and very weary. 



"Dead," wrote Hannah (about Yvonne), "leaving 
me the humblest creature on God's earth. What devil 
could have got into me against that girl ? The wicked 
bile in my heart! That day in rue Boissy d'Anglas 
Kathleen as good as told me of her noble, brave strug- 
gle, letting it out in bits, for she did not want, I think, 
to say any good of Yvonne, and I should have guessed 
that the struggle was far greater than the hints ; but no, 
blind to it all — none so blind as those who will not 
see! And she's dead now, so young, so young, and so 
fair, and the sun has gone down forever on my wrath. 
Oh, forgive, sweet, I'll never do that again." 

To her self-upbraiding there was no end, month after 
month it went on, with a grief apparently as fresh as 
on the first day, the same wearisome prayers for 
forgiveness, and stream of tears. On whatever sub- 
ject she wrote it presently turned into a lament over 
Yvonne: but this much may be left out here. 

As to Chris she wrote: "How strangely it turned 
out! had given him up for good and all, but the very 
day after my letter telling of second marriage must 
have reached him, Yvonne met her death, and he 
became mine in a way once more. But never any 


The Lost Viol 

more gallopings over Europe after him, Hannah: all 
that mere holiday-making in guise of right and duty: 
railway journeys, strange lands, bustle, hotels, fighting- 
cock fare, like Hodge up for the day in town, all very 
fine and large, but not doing work of Him that sent 
me. A woman should have a husband to beat her 
daily, and if she hasn't, then must beat herself, put 
her nose to it, and work. Chastity, chastisement — 
same things. 7 will have a husband some day, feel as 
certain of it now as of sitting here, but not for next 
three years anyway: it should take him quite the four 
to get well over death of that dear. I wonder ? About 
that. Then will present myself before him with his 
son's hand in mine. Meantime, must spend my 
strength without stint, to quell riot within, if for no 
higher reason, and not let that little whelp asleep there 
stop me, either. If women were meant to devote 
themselves to brats, would have half a dozen at a 
litter, but one only meant to keep you laughing in 
play-hour," etc., etc. 

"But work at London Hospital unsatisfying," she 
wrote in another place: "five hundred of us, seem as 
many nurses as patients. Have never once felt weary, 
and need something to pull me really down, and take 
it out of me. Wait, the Lord will provide. Perhaps 
when I become staff-nurse something better may be 
opened ; but no seeking for ' some great thing to do,' 
let it be humble, so long as real and tough. Meantime, 
plenty of warm joy inside, and songs in the night. 


The Lost Viol 

"Interview yesterday" (in another place) "with 
Bailey at hospital: brought news that poor innocent 
Josef at Madame Brault's had been arrested for theft 
of viol and things, but released. Over there they call 
being in choky, 'etre au violon,' so just suited poor 
Josef with viol. Oh, I was cross! Told Bailev that 
if any more innocent people to be arrested, then shall 
stop search altogether. 'What next?' I asked, 'any 
hope?' 'Plenty of hope,' he answered: 'the field of 
inquiry now definitely narrowed; Mr. Dene quite con- 
vinced now that things not lost in France, therefore 
in England, and in England must be looked for. 
'Looked for and found two different things,' I said: 
'you must think I am millionaire.' 'We will drop 
investigation, if you wish,' he said. Told him ' No, 
keep it going to bitter end'; then told him dream, 
twice dreamt in three months, in which Sir Peter 
appeared to me in shroud, holding out viol and box, 
in such a marvelous light each time. Bailey not much 
impressed by dreams! Agent to go down at once to 
Orrock, search to be transferred there for the present. 
New check, £\7, like getting blood out of stone. 
Then in afternoon went all alone to inter-'Varsity 
match at Lords," etc. 

'Twenty-seven to-day," she wrote on the 21st of 
November, her birthday: "getting on, Hannah, but 
as blooming to-day as ever was — more so. ' That 
ye may have life, and have it more abundantly.' Spent 
whole afternoon here in Guilford Street with baby, 


The Lost Viol 

jaws sore with laughing, when, about five, two newsboys 
shouting in street: 'Great British disaster,' sixty-five 
killed and wounded, making me feel pretty choky: no 
end to the devilish war. Birthday letter from mummie 
this morning, with two turkeys and pigmeat; wants to 
know if she can't come up to me, since I won't go 
down. Yes, when my child has a father, not till then. 
She suspects that paper-shop address is not my real 
address, asks if I am 'hiding anything from her'! 
Imagine her stare, if she only dreamt what lies asleep 
there! Poor mummie, you will know some day. 
Meantime, 'Let not thy left hand know!' Each live 
life in own skin, not burden others with one's ha'penny 
cares, mishaps, and shames: lock it all up in own 
bosom, and throw key away. Don't mean to be cross- 
examined, either; shall go down when I want to, not 
before. They used to say I wasn't very devoted 
daughter, and now Mrs. Reid here all hints that I am 
not very devoted mother : ' How you can bear to leave 
him, I don't know!' Poor thing: so pathetic. God 
grant me true, manly emotions, not unreal, like most 
women's: there are a few other things about beside my 
mother and child, a God in labor pains and a world 
squalling, both needing nursing. As for brat, if he is 
neglected, that's self-neglect, for he is the same thing 
as myself: some things your own, some your ownest 
own, and some your own ownest own. Toss him 
about like doll, kill and eat him, if I chose, and not 
ask anyone's leave — would only be suicide. 


The Lost Viol 

" Mummie anxious about my money-matters, thinks 
the <£10 a month since I refused Chris's money not 
enough; doesn't know that I am putting it all away 
in bank, and, besides, getting £12 a year as proba- 
tioner, all found down to uniform. Three months 
hence will begin to get £2 for second year. Can't 
she guess that I am not sitting down idly, waiting for 
husband to turn up ? But why couldn't I have told 
her about hospital ? Liking to go one's own way in 
silence may become a fault. Shall tell her in next 
letter, without saying which hospital. 

" Five sweet birthday-letters enclosed in mummie's, 

and others from Bishop W , Kathleen, Sir F. T , 

and my Willie, who never forgets date of his ducking! 
He working in timber-yard at Chelsea now; hasn't 
been to see me for five weeks. Kathleen with Miss 
Olivia in Paris, still subject to bad dreams, frights, and 
breakdowns through death of Yvonne, now and again 
sees Chris, and would like to know 'What are your 
plans?' But this the odd thing: she says, 'If you had 
had a child, that would have been a link between you 
and Chris.' That's odd! This the second time she 
has referred to possibility of a child, as though she 
knew or guessed something. But not possible. Have 
never yet found out whether she knows of my second 
marriage. She was at Chateaubrun when I wrote 
news of it to Chris. Do hope she doesn't know: but 
all the same a hundred years hence, dear, when we 
both sleeping in mother's arms, poppies whispering all 


The Lost Viol 

the summer, little hunch pulled quite straight then, 
such is His mercy, and Hannah's brawl nicely hushed. 

"Oh, do so hunger and thirst lately to see the old 
place once more, the cliffs, geese, graves, Woodside 
old gables, coots on Embree Pond, the sea. Shall go 
first chance, but late at night, no one to see: a child, 
and no husband to show for it, ladies. 'Avoid the 
very appearance of evil,' and 'Let not thy left hand 
know.' But a grave in that place draws me. Is it 
kept fresh with flowers ? He had a love for old apples 
and apple-blossoms, so that's what they should heap 
on mostly. The dead long for flowers to keep them 
going. How I have abandoned him! That old man's 
love for me! And mine for you, too, dear. If you 
hadn't love me so quick, I should have beaten you 
and loved you first. Shall soon come to you: it's the 
hospital, the brat, the eternal violin, and the hard, 
hard reading that have kept me away; must vow to 
give up cricket-matches all next summer. 

" Chris just finished Bavarian tour, says Kathleen, 
and due in England in four months: will see him then 
without being seen — only the second time since mar- 
riage. What can he possibly think of me after that 
letter telling of second marriage ? Does he guess 
motive ? How did he take it ? Would give the world 
to know. My complete ignorance of his mind now! 
But wait, all's quite well: death of Yvonne proves him 
my very own, in spite of all. No end apparently to 
his achievement: Kathleen says playing double har- 

[ 182] 

The Lost Viol 

monies in rapidest passages, whole melodies in har- 
monics, in Vienna ties and walking-sticks called after 
him, his last sonata all the rage everywhere, tours like 
triumphal progresses. Have a thought of writing to 
him in assumed name, just to see if he will answer: 
but wait till my love comes to England." 

[ 183 ] 


After another month the diary becomes gloomy 
reading, where she writes of leaving the London 
Hospital. "Dismissal," she wrote, "for it comes to 
that. I'd rather they had said plain 'go' than say 
' Please ask to be allowed to go.' It was like a thunder- 
bolt, I had so set my mind upon becoming staff-nurse 
— only eleven more months : now all dark before me 
again, nothing to do but stare at Foundling boys at 
drill in mornings, and moon with baby all day. Where- 
in hath she offended ? Presentation-Bible from pro- 
bationers at parting, everybody in tears because of 
my going, I inclined that way for same reason, yet 
going all the same, bewitched, not knowing why! 
Matron must have heard something somehow — about 
child ? about second marriage ? Seems impossible, 
but must be. Was down in Chelsea to my Willie 
yesterday, questioned him narrowly: no, had not 
breathed a word to a soul. Anyway, bitter and 
shameful enough. Oh, you could sit down and cry, 
Hannah, if you only would." 

But scarcely two weeks had passed when she was 
out of this slough of despond, and once more in her 
brighter mood. It came about through a boy named 


The Lost Viol 

"Ralphie," of whom she often wrote. She seems to 
have met him at a little meeting-house Sunday-school 
in the Euston Road, for she belonged to all the religious 
sects in the world, and wrote of them, "the more the 
merrier." " Ralphie's " mother fell ill, Hannah went to 
see her, and at the bedside met a little St. Pancras- 
Dispensary doctor who fell in love with her, and brought 
her into touch with more sick people. In all that part 
between Guilford Street and St. Pancras there is no 
lack of wretchedness and disease, and her days and 
nights, too, were soon as full of work and hurry as she 
could wish, though in an unofficial way. After only 
five or six weeks of it, when she had met several doctors, 
patrons, and influential people, she wrote the extraor- 
dinary words: "My own hospital some day perhaps," 
meaning that the little so-called "Medical Mission," 
now in Compton Place, which she helped to found, 
was already in sight. On the top of all this bustling 
activity came Chris Wilson, of whose first concert she 
wrote: "St. James's Hall yesterday afternoon: my same 
boy, a little bigger, hair worn a little longer. Some 
difference between yesterday and that first night at 
Queen's Hall, not the same thrill beforehand, but even 
greater emotion during, and ado after, concert. If I 
had had a veil, would have tried to shake hands like 
the rest, but hadn't thought of veil, and didn't dare. 
Not according to the plan, Hannah. Wait, only two 
years and a half, say two years, a man can't love the 
sweetest ghost longer, then he will take you. I love 


The Lost Viol 

him as friend, as husband, as little papa, as sweetheart, 
and as workman: really wondrous tremolo use of left 
hand now, something like three octaves out of each 
string, twice changed pitch of G in height of last piece 
by turn of peg. See program gummed on other side. 
Came home 'sick with love,' and under strong im- 
pulse wrote letter straight away, signed 'Viola.' See 
copy, p. 71," etc., etc. 

"Hip! hip!" she wrote two days later, "answer to 
'Viola' this morning from Chris! Never thought he 
would answer! Here it is: 

"'4 Gray's Inn Square. 
'"My dear Viola, 

"'I thank you infinitely for your letter, which I 
find no less than charming, and I have a perfect con- 
viction that you are as charming in your person as in 
your writing. Imagine, then, my trouble, when, 
having sent my valet to-day to make inquiries at the 
address which you give, he brought me back the intelli- 
gence that none such as you lives there, since the place 
is only a little paper-shop. Let me beseech you, dear 
Viola, to place me at once in a better position with 
regard to you. The proof that I am seriously concerned 
is this letter, since it is well known that I am not fond 
of writing letters, and am daily compelled to leave 
missives from unknown correspondents unanswered. 
But yours has seriously fascinated my fancy, I picture 
you as a being endowed with every grace, and desire 


The Lost Viol 

to see you. If you do not let me see you at once, I 
shall become lovesick and restless, my work will be 
disturbed, and you would certainly not wish this. Or 
perhaps you do not care to give me your address at 
once ? but mean to wait till your modesty is appeased 
by time ? In which case, let me remind you that youth 
is short, that the flowers of to-morrow grow for others, 
but to-day is Love's opportunity; moreover, my stay 
in England will not be long. Do for me, then, what 
you can in this, will you ? For if my longings are 
balked, everything goes wrong with me. If you can't 
let me see you at once, pray let me have your photo- 
graph without delay. Long as your letter was, it left 
in me a kind of longing desire for more, rather than a 
satiety. Your hand-writing, though strong, I find 
thrillingly feminine; and you have scented the paper 
with a heavenly art. Why, by the way, do you so 
object to this word 'art,' and wish it 'left out of the 
dictionary ? ' Is it not too old a friend ? But we will 
discuss your letter particularly at our near meeting. 

" ' Sincerely yours, dear Viola, 

"'Chris Wilson.'" 

'Was rather afraid," wrote Hannah of the letters, 
" that he might recognize my handwriting, for has seen 
it once or twice. However, all safe henceforth. Let 
two days pass, then wrote following: 

"'Dear Chris Wilson: 

"'I was surprised and glad to get your letter. Let 


The Lost Viol 

me say at once that I shall be sorry indeed if your 
work is " disturbed " through me, but I can't give you 
my address, nor even send you my photograph. Does 
it follow, because you are a great "artist," that you 
may send such commands to a woman who merely 
wrote to express her liking for your fiddling ? Just as 
all men are not fiddlers, so all women are not fiddles, 
sir! But you won't go lovesick after a shadow? I 
happen to know that you once took to your bed through 
longing for some odor which you had smelled, or 
dreamt that you had smelled. I don't call that vir- 
tuous. But you shall see me. That is a promise. 
Not when you order me, but when / see fit, perhaps a 
good time hence, one day I shall certainly present 
myself before you. And I promise also that in that 
day I shall bring you in my hands a present worthy 
of you and me — a rich one — richer than a king's 
ransom, cunningly made, richer than Koh-i-noor added 
to Le Messie, La Pucelle, and all the Strads in the 
world. That may sound rather wild talk, but I already 
have the thing by me, am keeping it for you, and you 
may rely upon my promise. Meantime, as I can't 
send my photograph, I may tell you, to keep you 
going, that I am by no means an old woman, am 
tallish, no skin-and-bones, every tooth sound in my 
head, figure straight as a dart and strong in the back, 
not bad looking up above, nice country color, a little 
too much jaw perhaps, but laughing, deep blue eyes 
to make up. Not a bad lot altogether, well-meaning, 

[ 189 1 

The Lost Viol 

but stumbling and purblind. That's Viola. But what 
surprises me in your letter is your ' desire to see ' this 
unknown Viola only nineteen months after the death 
of Yvonne de Pencharry-Strannik. You see, I know 
things. Am I right or wrong in deciding that " Mor- 
talite " was written with your eyes fixed on her beatified 
image? I am sure that that hymn is truly of God. 
You will let her memory fade with the tenderest slow- 
ness? I always think now of white violets when I 
think of her. These, too, must fade, though watered 
with tears, but with a lingering, sweet decay. Then 
I shall like you a lot, and do am/thing for you. As to 
my attack on the word "art," I only meant that all 
meaning seems to have got rubbed out of it now. It 
implies artfulness, thought? yes, but was " Mortalite" 
a work of thought ? No : so we have a word meaning 
thought used to describe works purely emotional and 
instinctive. I want to consult you about a viola which 
I have come across lying under a bed in a quite poor 
house in Islington, looking wondrously like a Maggini, 
with clear-cut bouts, short corners, and upright //'s, 
clover-leaves and trefoils on back. I could get it, if 
I chose, for — how much do you think ? — £2, and 
am haunted by the possibility of its genuineness. Shall 
I get and send it you ? Varnish orange and palest 
yellow, with dated label. Or will you not write again ? 
I have a whole heartful to say to you by little and 
little, if you will hear. 

"'Your sincere Viola.'" 


The Lost Viol 

This letter- writing between "Viola" and Chris 
Wilson was still in its earliest stage when Hannah's 
quietness of mind was troubled by a little thing — the 
disappearance of " her" Willie. " Hadn't seen him for 
four months," she wrote of him ; " began to get anxious, 
and went down ... to his timber-yard in Chelsea. 
Not there, had left months before — without telling 
me a word ! One of workmen said : ' Dawe must have 
come into a fortune; saw him one evening five weeks 
ago at Charing Cross, dressed up like a lord, watch and 
chain and cane, with a young lady on his arm.' Can't 
be true! Wrote to Mrs. Dawe to ask, and this morning 
her answer that she doesn't know where Willie is; says 
that Kathleen, too, has wanted his address, and she 
gave it; doesn't think that since then she has got either 
money or letter from him; doesn't say why Kathleen 
wanted address. That must have been when Kathleen 
was in England and went down to Orrock about four 
months ago; she called at paper-shop address thinking 
to see me, about then. Anyway, my Willie gone, 
perhaps out of work, clothes shabby, and ashamed to 
come to me! But strange he hasn't written to his 
mother. Why did Kathleen want him ? Don't even 
know where she is now — not at the Hill." 

" Interview in drawing-room with Bailey," she wrote 
two days later, "and never was so utterly mystified. 
Something discovered at last: viol and box seen behind 
bureau in Hall library on morning of Sir Peter's funeral ! 
If he had said, ' Man-in-the-moon seen playing cricket,' 


The Lost Viol 

I couldn't have been more hopelessly astonished. He 
heard it from under-housemaid Jane, who, when Hall- 
servants were put on half- pay, and some dismissed, 
went home to parents in Nottinghamshire ; after endless 
bother Bailey found her down there in a coffee-house, 
and she is sure of facts: saw the things behind bureau 
— ' thing like a fiddle, a little larger, only without any 
handle, and cardboard box like a collar-box ' — won- 
dered how they had got there, didn't like to touch, 
next time she looked they were gone! Must be true, 
since she can describe them exactly. But the wonder 
of it! Who, and with what motive, could steal just 
those two things, and nothing else ? Does any one 
know my secret, and how ? Does this explain dreams 
about Sir Peter ? But don't try to see through stone- 
wall, Hannah, take deep breaths, and possess your 
soul. Worry about this, however, that I must have 
left trunk open some time, and no hope for me, if I 
continue that sort of slovenly life. Only two days ago 
Drs. Lloyd and Herrick complimenting my ' powers of 
organization' 'would have been a general, if a man,' 
when I had the thought, 'but if you only knew some 
of the things I forget, the silly, childish mistakes and 
omissions in most important matters'; can't help it! 
a screw loose somewhere, the sex of the girl, perhaps. 
"Anyway, so the matter stands about viol and box, 
and now, with a clue, they may turn up any day. 
Gave Bailey new check, .£11.15; then, when he was 
gone, the frenzy came upon me to be in the old place 

[ 192] 

The Lost Viol 

that very night! and if old Pat had got worse during 
absence would have served me just right. Several 
things forbade me to go that night; no good; had been 
hearing too much from Bailey about everybody down 
there, just wrote notes to doctors, was away by the 
8.37, and now in a rage with myself for it, like drunk- 
ard's awaking. Impulse, and tearing, stumbling self- 
will. But enjoyed myself thoroughly; walked from 
Cromer, and between midnight and five a. m. ranged 
everywhere, saw everything, without being seen by a 
soul; cloudy, drizzling, with moon now and again 
a little; sat ten minutes on Woodside side-steps with 
Rover; at the grave half an hour in the dark o' the 
moon, boats out on sea at the pots; heaped it with 
clove-carnations, heartsease, tulip, harebell. Just over 
Scoble's Cave a bit of cliff gone like the wall of a house, 
debris still there at bottom, and a narrow slice, a foot 
thick, from south end of graveyard; makes me sad 
every time: no end to it. He gives, and He takes 

The strange fact to what she refers here is to be seen 
more or less at work all round Britain. Yorkshire 
every year loses thirty acres; between Spurn Head and 
Whitby five feet a year are swallowed up; between 
Bridlington and the Humber a hundred yards are said 
to have vanished within fifty years. The lane where 
lovers plighted their troth may be gone before the 
wedding day, and "soon where late we stood shall no 
man stand," says Mr. Swinburne. It is rather a 


The Lost Viol 

painful thing: timber and stones may prop the cliffs 
here or there, but the North Sea is an army with 
banners whose march is long and strong, England is 
being invaded, and where Napoleon faltered God will 
effect a landing. Ravenspur, once a great seaport, is 
no more to be found; Auburn and Hyde are where no 
one can trace them. In Norfolk, one Cromer is gone, 
the other going; Shipden and Eccles are "as Sodom 
and Gomorrah"; and Sheppey has lost three hundred 
yards within the memory of its people. At some points 
there is now a superstition against buiying in the east 
side of the church toward the sea, so common a sight 
have out-sticking coffins become. On the west coast, 
too — in Wales, in Lancashire, at many points — the 
Atlantic with a still longer and stronger march is 
pressing to effect a junction with the North Sea, and 
it is said that in a certain number of years, which to 
the Eternal is as an hour, ships will reef their sails in 
a rough mid-sea where the dream of England was. 
It is not strange if the poor fishers and tillers of the soil 
upon whom such-like thoughts are daily forced have 
a certain sigh, a certain sadness of outlook. 

[ 194] 


As to Kathleen, she had all this time been as quiet 
as a mouse, and was to be found hobbling to church 
services. The death of Yvonne de Pencharry-Strannik 
had come upon her as one of those bullying thunder- 
claps which overawe all men, save heroes. It was 
with her as when a child touches a hot grate, and 
touches a grate no more for years. The little maid 
seems to have been troubled with a doubt whether that 
death of Yvonne was not in some way owing to her 
will; it is to be feared that she suspected herself: and 
at this thing Kathleen gave up Chris Wilson as utterly 
as Hannah had given him up during those three days 
between her second marriage and the death of Yvonne : 
nothing was left in Kathleen but awe of a universe in 
which there is room for such outbreaks and Gorgons. 

But such awes little by little lose their power, and 
the snail dares to peep out afresh. Kathleen saw 
Chris Wilson here or there, each time with a renewed 
feeling of worldliness and enterprise; she began to be 
bitter again at Hannah's claim upon him, at Hannah's 
probable hopes and plans; it soon occurred to her that 
it might be a good thing to make Willie Dawe, Hannah's 
second "husband," her slave, by keeping him in clover; 


The Lost Viol 

then she was to be found writing that " Chris is again 
madly in love, this time not with a woman, but with a 
dream: she calls herself 'Viola,' he has never seen her, 
but she has promised to see him some day, bearing in 
her hand some marvelous present which is to outweigh 
all the great diamonds! So he told me last night in 
the lobby of the Opera. What a boy! His romantic 
fancy dresses her in the rainbow. The correspondence 
has been going on some two years now, all about 
music, art, life, love. 'She inspires me,' he told me, 
' guides me, loves me, and in the oddest way knows all 
about me, Kathleen. Her letters are the very genius 
of good sense, and yet contain the essence of a certain 
materialistic mysticism which I can't tell you of. 
Moreover, she is the very spirit of Woman, and always 
somehow about me: sometimes she knows how many 
glasses of absinthe I take at the cafe, and the next day 
writes to tell me of it. Yet I never see her; but I soon 
shall, for she has promised it.' All cloud, cloud. Who 
can it be? Some Austrian landgrafin or Russian 
princess, old, no doubt, and hideous: she won't send 
him her photograph — wise woman. I don't see why 
I should be so haunted and agitated by it; but it is 
such a pang to be jealous of the unknown. He is so 
interested, that the quixote actually keeps copies of 
some of his own letters. After a lot of praying he 
consented to let me peep at the packet; he has it in 
the rue de Rome, and I am to go this afternoon at 
five. ..." 


The Lost Viol 

"It was well conceived, Hannah," Kathleen wrote 
three days later, " but your patience has done for you, 
you have waited too long. If she had come to Chris, 
saying, 'I am Viola,' may be on the sudden he would 
have fallen to her; but if I tell him casually one day, 
'Viola" is only Hannah,' that's another matter, the 
spell will be broken. After all, ' Lady Wilson ' is an 
inappropriate name for Farmer Langler's daughter, 
with all her talents. I have read the letters; Chris 
allowed me to bring them to the hotel for two days, 
read a few of them aloud to me himself: he is gone 
just daft over 'Viola.' Who on earth taught Hannah 
Langler to write letters ? One must admit that she 
has a calm, strong brain, and some grace in writing 
which has grown with practice: four or five of the letters 
are worthy of George Sand, and two or three of 
Madame de Sevigny. I wonder that she ventured to 
write them in her own hand! Her second marriage 
letter was typewritten, but I suppose she thought it 
too much trouble to get these typewritten, and risked 
it. Oh, if I had her calm audacity! I am bold, too, 
but only in white-hot fits, and then all too bold, perhaps, 
little hunch. Chris must have seen her handwriting 
somewhere, if only in Orrock church, but, of course, 
forgot it. He provokes me with his simplicity, men 
have no wits. The moment I saw the writing I felt 
almost certain, and soon I came across this bit: 'I 
know a countryman named Butt, who, sitting still in 
a place where every one was dancing, was asked by a 


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certain squire, "Well, why don't you dance, Butt?" 
"Lord bless us all, squire," answered Butt, "if a man 
can't jig, he can't jig." So ever since he goes by the 
name of Jig-Butt. Well, the same with fiddling: if 
a gel can't scrape, she can't scrape.' Then, of course, 
I knew my Hannah: who else on earth but Lady 
Wilson cares what name Mr. Butt of Orrock ' goes by ' ? 
She is essentially 'of the people,' but has got some 
finesse by dint of willing. 

" I have spent two days over the letters, which would 
fill a volume, and it is to be hoped that Chris has been 
edified. She writes with enough aplomb! 'I under- 
stand that you have a tendency to give up practise 
now, and are taking to a mute, and though I repeat 
to myself that you must know better than I can what 
you are about, I have searchings of heart as to this. 
Consider if it is well, beloved. In the sort of feverish 
life which you lead "the inner life" becomes doubly 
precious ? . . . When thou hast entered into thy closet, 
pray: for " working is praying," even when it is playing. 
... I myself am living a full, robustious life just now, 
and sometimes, after some sleep, can only just keep my 
feet from dancing all over the place. The last time 
I ran over to France, just to see your face, I did not 
once sleep for ninety-six hours afterwards, and some 
days, having only time for one meal, I carry pastry in 
my pocket, so whenever my envelopes reach you greasy 
you will know from what pit they have been drawn.' 
Three whole letters are a discussion of the meaning of 


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'virtue'! She had written 'ladylike arid unvirtuous,' 
and, Chris not agreeing, she answers: 'I have been 
hunting down "virtue" to-day, and find that the 
Greek is from ar, a male, and in Latin the same, from 
vir, a male. So virtue means vigor? In which ease 
Tannhauser was merely unwell ? and the Venusberg a 
slum ? Virtue is health of mind ? health is virtue of 
body ? A burglar is in the room of a sleeping saint : 
which of the two is the more virtuous? the burglar? 
for "virtue," "vigor," "health," "life," "joy" are all 
one? You can choose any one of them you like, and 
throw the rest out of the dictionary.' If she had her 
way, not many words would be left in the dictionary, 
apparently: she wants 'art' to go, and elsewhere 
'spirit.' 'God is a spirit,' she says, 'but what is a 
spirit? / don't know, so look in the dictionary, and 
find that the people who wrote it had no idea either. 
As applied to Alicante wine, I know well what it means : 
and you, perhaps ? But otherwise, it has no right to 
be about, since we don't mean anything when we say 
it, but thinking that we do, trick ourselves.' Her 
cocksure tone of 'having authority'! I wonder that 
it never occurred to me to enter into such a correspond- 
ence with Chris: I could have done it just like her, 
or better. Her phrases are, 'be ye therefore perfect,' 
and 'that ye may have life, and have it more abun- 
dantly'; twenty, thirty times these recur, her 'life' 
meaning mere 'health': au fond she is a materialist. 
Some of her little bits are not bad: 'The first duty of 


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a modern man is to be modern, the second is to be 
modest, to know himself primeval, and feel the ro- 
mance of Time'; 'health, like wealth, is the product 
of daily industry: happiness consists in martyrdom, 
torture, athletics, physical and mental; but oh, how 
easy is this yoke, and how joyfully light this burden!' 
' I have found out that the " ma " of little children really 
means "food," but as food comes from mother, "ma" 
soon gets to mean mother'; 'health, I take it, isn't the 
mere absence of discomfort and sin — that's only a 
first step up Snowdon and Mont Blanc — but a choky 
lump of worship inside, tears in the eyes, and laughter 
all down below'; 'in the present stage of things there 
are existing together ape, underman, man, and over- 
man : the product of the extremes is equal to the product 
of the means'; 'a quick memory, and a certain two- 
eyed faculty, meaning the power of seeing one thing 
through the right eye at the same moment as one sees 
another through the left eye — a question of athletics 
— these, I think, are the makings of the saint, of the 
superhuman and divine man'; 'the most important 
part of the body is the soul'; 'I went to see Sandow 
perform last night: to me he is a true saint and holy 
one, or at least a true half-saint; if he were as good 
a Christian as he is an athlete, meaning that if he kept 
his nerve-matter, or soul, in as good form as he keeps 
his muscle-matter, he would be about four times 
greater than all the martyrs, seers, and prophets'; 
' was Shakespeare Bacon ? Bacon and more ! Say 


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Bacon plus Ham: and hence was the father of the 
little Hamlet ; ' I find that my head is a magnet, though 
a feeble one: if I put an iron hairpin gently on my 
forehead, it sticks, even when I turn the forehead 
downward'; 'athletics is about the most effectual form 
of prayer: the answer hardly ever fails'; 'a moral man 
would live two hundred years without a hole in his 
teeth'; 'the higher the animal the longer his life: 
some animals only live a few seconds; man will be 
living hundreds of years a little later on'; '"purity of 
heart" is a hearty preoccupation with hard fact, and 
impurity a preoccupation with soft delusion : most nuns 
and nurses are impure in heart, often preoccupied with 
" the world," though pure in life, while the poor Magda- 
lens of the streets are pure in heart, preoccupied with 
the pretty hard fact of board -and-lodging, though im- 
pure in life'; 'I think, dear, that the air which we 
breathe is full of sparks of life and of the Holy Ghost: 
people lying dead are only dead because they can't 
breathe it, while most living people about are only 
half alive because they only half-breathe it'; 'when 
you have walked a long way, and begin to feel tired, 
give yourself a rest by running'; 'how excellent to be 
perfect! how perfect to be excellent!' 'to be happy 
every morning, and to attain to joy every afternoon, 
isn't this the whole duty of man ? ' ' I am a great one 
for conscription, not, of course, the conscription which 
teaches people to kill, but one which would teach 
athletics; why the Governments don't at least wash 

[201 j 

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and drill each of its citizens, male and female, every 
morning, it is hard to say: even the horrid Continental 
conscription seems better than none at all ' — and so 
on. She sent Chris a Stainer tenor, I don't know 
where she got the money to buy it, and Chris promptly 
replied by sending her — his Nicolo. After this, ' Dear 
Chris Wilson ' suddenly changes into ' Beloved,' and 
'Dear Viola' becomes 'Adored' and 'Darling Viola.' 
But all the thanks he got for his Nicolo was an elabo- 
rate eulogy of Mitten wald at the expense of Cremona: 
' There is something so much more Dorian in the mood 
of a Stainer than in all the Bergonzis, Storionis, and 
later Cremonese, to say nothing of the earlier. Plato 
would have played a Stainer, they are so wide-awake 
and virtuous, like Highland troops on the march with 
all the flags, drums, and bagpipes going; I'd rather even 
a Barak Norman or a Klotz than a Nicolo, though 
I love my Nicolo, since some of your passion still 
trembles in the sound-post ? Last week, however, I 
came across a grand pattern Strad in a bishop's house, 
and must admit myself fascinated; I cuddled the 
golden belly against my cheek; played from 'Wal- 
kiire," and "Joy, O Joy!" When the finger-tips just 
brood over the strings, an electric thrill burns between, 
as with meeting lips, and the whole thing hums like 
a dizzy brain. I noticed, as you say, one of the //'s 
a thought lower than the other, and now have my own 
theory as to that.' . . . ' I find myself in communion with 
you,' from Chris in answer, 'in a transcendent way; 


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I am but little a mystic, and do not know the ways of 
the spirit; but you are certainly, as it were, my wife, 
and with me; just now, in playing for my amusement 
"Du bist die Ruh," I had an intimate sense of your 
womanhood and of your presence, like a vision. That 
will be interesting to have you accompany me on the 
piano: I am curious to know what will be the emotional 
outcome. I have a notion that still higher achieve- 
ments in sensation will be mine when you are at my 
side. But how long ? I invite you to be good to our 
youth.' 'It won't be long now,' is her answer, 'it 
would have been sooner, if so many ties didn't bind 
me here ; I am like Gulliver bound — the threads can 
be snapped, but then the little ones would be hurt. 
Others, however, are being prepared to fill my place, 
and very soon I shall leave all to follow you. . . . You 
are my business in life and one thing needful. . . . Some 
women in my place would have a blue fright that you 
would unlove them at first sight: not I. I shan't 
breathe any the quicker when we meet, but shall come 
carelessly into my own somehow, like blind kittens 
born into they don't quite know what age or nook of 
the universe, but understanding that it is into their 
proper planet, to their own mother, and that they 
have a right to make a noise, and be kittenish ... In 
my hand no price I shall bring, what I bring will be 
priceless, and brought not in the way of purchase- 
money, but as free gift; and in my face you will see 
the eyes of a friend : for no less than this, I believe, will 


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be my pride when I shall come to review my life, that 
I, though a woman, was capable of friendship. "The 
ordinary sufficiency of women," says old Florio, " can- 
not answer this conference, the nurse of this sacred 
bond, nor seem their minds strong enough to endure 
the pulling of a knot so hard, so fast, and durable, 
and this sex could never yet by any example attain 
unto it"; and he says: "So many parts are required to 
the erecting of such a friendship, that it may be ac- 
counted a wonder if fortune once in three ages contract 
the like. It is a great and strange wonder, for a man 
to double himself, their mutual agreement being no 
other than one soul in two bodies, according to the 
definition of Aristotle; they can neither lend nor give 
out to each other; and each doth as wholly give himself 
unto his friend, that he hath nothing left him to divide 
elsewhere, and is grieved that he is not double, and 
hath not many souls, that he might confer them all 
upon this object." As for Viola, when she had only 
heard your name, before ever she had seen you, her 
heart quickened with friendliness, and was qualmish 
and fain for the altar of sacrifice. You speak of me 
as your "wife"? Truly, I am that: but if I were no 
nearer you, you should never see Viola.' 

"It is a mercy," continues Kathleen, "that I didn't 
tell Chris who 'Viola' is, for a sentence in one of his 
letters to her has become an awful temptation to me. 
He says: 'That will be interesting to have you accom- 
pany me on the piano'; he feels that 'Viola' will do it 


The Lost Viol 

well, but he already knows that / do, and there is no rea- 
son why he shouldn't be made to think that / am' Viola.' 
Only, my heart beats too madly at the mere thought: I 
could never do it for that reason alone. But since he 
knows my handwriting, I could hint that I naturally got 
some one to copy the letters out for me. I should come 
in for some at least of Viola's spoils. All is fair in love, 
in war, and in everything. Not that it is pretty : but to 
be rich one must steal ; all rich men are thieves, and all 
poor ones are would-be thieves. We are as alike as peas, 
the whole mass of pudding. Honesty is only a form of 
snobbishness, a means of looking down in turn upon 
one's richer neighbors who look down upon one. Still, 
one goes horrid, really, if one does such things, one gets 
worse and weaker, till some day one does something in- 
effably outrageous. I hope I am not going to do this 
thing. And could I ? It would be horribly dangerous 
for many, many reasons ! Hannah will soon be coming 
to Chris with his child's hand in hers; if the child is at 
all like him, she won't need the proofs buried in St. 
Peter's churchyard; even if the child is not like, Chris 
won't doubt her word when she has once explained her 
motive for marrying Willie Dawe. But mightn't I poison 
Chris's mind against her in advance by making Willie 
Dawe tell Chris that the child is his, Willie's ? Many 
things occur to me now, many; my head is rank with 
fraud; and something is going to come of it, for they 
haven't any right to tempt me, and make me mad. 
"Chris will be in England within a month," etc., etc. 



It was, indeed, just a month after this that the 
little maid drove one night from the Savoy Hotel, 
where she was staying, to Gray's Inn with a young 
man beside her, to whom she said on the way, " Well, 
you are looking quite smart and prosperous: have you 
a house of your own now ? " 

'Thank you, miss, I've taken the house in Camden 
Town," said Willie Dawe, a lank fellow, with a loose 

"And I suppose you are not so foolish as to do any 
work now?" 

'Thank you, no, miss; I'm taking it easy just for 
the present, thanks to you." 

" Having a good time ? " 

"Thank you, miss, pretty fair, thank you." 

"Well, you are a lucky fellow: it is only because I 
have known your mother so long on the estate. That's 
why. If I were you, I should thoroughly enjoy myself 
while I could, for suppose I were to die or anything, 
what would become of you ? You could nevergobackto 
the old workaday life, after tasting ease and pleasure." 

'Thank you kindly, miss, thank you," said Willie 


The Lost Viol 

"But you could have been twice as well off, if you 
had followed my hints: for she would have been con- 
pelled to give you as much as you chose to ask for." 

"Thank you, miss, I didn't quite like to do that, 
miss," said Willie Dawe with a blush. 

" I don't see why not." 

"I don't fancy she has so over-much for herself, 
miss, begging your pardon." 

" Her father is a large farmer, with plenty of money 
laid by. But you are fond of her, Willie." 

"I, miss ? fond of her! Not me, I'll swear." 

"You are. You like her better than me for saving 
you that time from the sea." 

"No, miss, no, I tell you; don't talk of that, miss, 
please, begging your pardon." 

"She only did it to show off her physical powers. 
She cared nothing about you." 

"No, miss, thank you." 

"Have you never once seen her since I came across 
you ? Are you sure ? " 

"Miss Hannah, miss? Not I, miss!" 

" I have told you not to call her ' Miss Hannah ' : say 
'my wife'; it is only the truth: you married her; she is 
your wife, and the mother of your child." 

"Well, miss, since you say so." 

" Didn't you admit as much to me yesterday ? " 

"I did, yes, miss, in a way, thank you." 

"Well, all you have to do is to repeat the same tale 
to the gentleman. Don't be abject before him, he 


The Lost Viol 

can't bite you. Just show the certificate, say all that 
I have suggested, and claim your rights as a father and 
husband. By the way, I have thought that you would 
like to see Paris, and am giving you an extra thirty 
pounds to-night: Paris is an awfully gay place. Oh, 
here we are." 

The carriage drew up in Gray's Inn, where Chris 
Wilson still stuck to his old chambers. Kathleen and 
her companion, both of them pale and trembling, went 
up, were let in by Grimani, and went into the room 
where Chris was; Chris was half a minute before he 
could tear himself from his desk, then leapt up and 
rushed, with a murmur of " My own dear friend," to 
Kathleen's hand. 

" Is that a letter to ' Viola,' Chris ? " asked Kathleen, 
showing her pretty teeth in a nervous laugh; "you 
were so deep in it — " 

He gave some little nods, meaning "yes." 

" This is the young man whom you are expecting, if 
you haven't forgotten my letter," said Kathleen. "I 
am afraid he has a grievance against you, and has 
brought it all to me. I have known him since I was a 
child; he is one of your own Orrock subjects, so I felt 
bound to be interested." 

" What have I done ? " asked Chris meekly. 

" You know that this is the — husband — of some 

" So you wrote to say." 

" Well, some busybody has been filling him with the 

[ 200 ] 

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notion that you intend to claim the child as your 


"I didn't know that you had a child, my friend," 
said Chris gently to Willie Dawe. 

" Now, Willie Dawe, are you satisfied ? " asked 
Kathleen. "I told you that Sir Chris probably knew 
nothing whatever of the matter." 

There was silence. 

" What made her have him ? " asked Chris, more 
with his eyes than his lips. 

'"Tell Sir Chris everything," said Kathleen. 

"I and my wife grew up neck and neck together 
down at Orrock, sir, begging your pardon," said Willie 
Dawe, trying to remember Avhat he had been told to say. 

"But it is an incredible thing!" said Chris, his arms 
akimbo, looking down with disgust at Dawe, who was 
sitting at the last edge of a chair. 

"Show Sir Chris the copy of the certificate," said 

"But have I not already seen one?" asked Chris: 
"spare yourself the pains, my friend." 

"The affair took place at the Clerkenwell Town 
hall, sir," said Dawe, his eye-corners ever wandering 
round to where Kathleen sat. 

"Let it be so," answered Chris: "I don't at all ques- 
tion the formality of your proceedings. One only 
hopes that you never play at cards, for certainly you 
are most lucky in love. Have you only one child ? " 

"Yes, sir." 


The Lost Viol 

"A boy? a girl?" 

Dawe did not know! His eyes swam round to 

"A boy," said Kathleen quickly at a venture, 
flushing. * 

" How old ? " asked Chris. 

"About — four years, sir." 

" But don't be agitated. I have no thought of taking 
your little one from you; it is true that I once went 
through the marriage ceremony with your wife, but 
we parted the same evening, and I have never seen 
her since. Her son can't be mine. I don't know why 
you are agitated." 

" It isn't that, sir, it isn't that, begging your pardon," 
said the unfortunate Willie. 

' Why did she marry you, my friend ? " asked Chris. 

"My wife and I grew up neck and neck together, 
sir," repeated Willie, with an eye on Kathleen. 

"And still you are neck and neck under the same 
yoke. That is idyllic! though in the books of Moses 
it is forbidden to yoke the ox and the ass together. 
But did you dare to marry her, knowing that her first 
husband was alive ? or did you believe that he was 

"She told me — " 


"That you were dead, sir." 


'Yes, sir, and that she — wor — glad of it." 


The Lost Viol 

"But the fellow is a traitor and a liar," muttered 
Chris with a flushed forehead. " Go away now, go, go," 
and he brushed Willie Dawe away with motions of his 
hands, following and brushing him out. 

When he returned Kathleen was alone, with him, 
except for Grimani in another room, but the little 
maid showed no haste to go away, as would have been 
only proper. It was after eleven in the night. 

" I hope you did not want him to stay for any reason, 
Kathleen," said Chris; "he became intolerable." 

"It is all right," said Kathleen. "I thought it 
would be a curiosity to you to see him, so brought 

"But I am grieved to the heart! How is one to 
explain to oneself this grotesque and beastly marriage, 
like Briinnhilda marrying Ghunter of her own accord ? 
It can't be the same Hannah Wilson whose pure eyes 
I knew — For that matter, ' Hannah Wilson ' is a 
common name in England: why may not this man's 
wife be another Hannah Wilson ? " 

"No, Chris," said Kathleen, "don't let us delude 
ourselves with any such hope: it is the same Hannah. 
Even Lucifer went wrong, and Hannah has gone so 
very far wrong, that even her parents and I are not 
permitted to know her true address." 

" Can all this be my fault ? " asked Chris with opened 

" Why, what do you mean ? " 

"I was a mere boy then," Chris muttered. "The 


The Lost Viol 

good people should not have caused me to marry. 
God grant that it is in no way my fault." 

" Oh, Chris, how can it be your fault ? People go 
their own way and nothing can stop them. And per- 
haps she is as happy in her sty as you in your heaven. 
Well, I suppose I ought to go now, and leave you to 
your ' Viola.' I dare say in your heart you are wishing 
me to the dickens." 

" Mmm, my own friend," groaned Chris. " Grimani! 
— let me offer you a glass — " 

"No, thanks, no wine: it is all right, Grimani. 
Continue your letter to darling Viola. Can I have a 
peep, I wonder, at this last one ? " 

Chris shook his curls, with a smile. 

"I shall see it all the same," said Kathleen suddenly: 
for though she had finally made up her mind not to 
pass herself off as "Viola," the little maid now on a 
sudden yielded to the temptation, blind to all the 
hundred risks and difficulties of to-morrow, her mind 
in the presence of Chris was always in such a state of 
flurry and weakness. 

" How will you ' sec it all the same ? ' ; " asked Chris. 

"Never mind, I will," answered Kathleen, looking 
up at him with a pale smile. 

" Hut I don't mean to keep any copy," said Chris. 

"I shall still see it." 

Chris looked at her, and said eagerly: 

"Kathleen! do you know Viola?" 

Kathleen smiled mysteriously, without answering. 


The Lost Viol 

"Do you know her? Tell me, my friend!" 

"I know her very well; and so do you." 

" I have seen her ? " 

"Oh, Chris, how unconscious you are! She is 
nearer, much nearer to you at this moment than you 
dream; the girl who is nearest to you, now and always, 
is she." 

At these words Chris stood in pain: her meaning 
seemed plain; he was not given to doubting the words 
of women; and all at once he saw melting that whole 
cloud-cuckoo- town which the word "Viola" meant to 
his fancy. He could not speak, but stood looking at 
Kathleen in a pathetic way. 

"Chris, are you sorry?" she asked, standing up, 
putting her poor trembling hand on his shoulder. 

"No," answered Chris: "are you Viola?" 

"I hoped in that way to show you — to win you," 
said Kathleen with pan tings and passion, "and I have 
succeeded; if you don't take me now, the reason will 
be clear, you will insult me, you will be a brute without 
pity. I have not loved you as a man, but as a god 
above all Gods, for years and years; have pity — " 

" Kathleen — my dear friend — " 

"For years and years, mind you, Chris! I have 
dragged my soul through ignominy after you! Re- 
member that! But I will be a slave no longer; to-night 
— this very night — " 

At this she fastened her lips to his; he, somehow, 
wished to get free: and at his effort, the little maid 


The Lost Viol 

threw back her head, and piled scream on scream. 
Grimani ran in and bore her to a sofa, where she 
continued to utter screams and sobs and laughter, 
while Chris darted about in a flurry, seeking he knew 
not what. They had only liqueurs to give her, her furs 
and hat were taken off, her forehead sprinkled with 
water, and a doctor sent for; but before he could come 
she had got somewhat better, and while still in shameful 
agitation insisted upon being taken to her carriage. 
Chris parted from her with the words: "I will write to 

When he went up again, he stood for a long time 
with his forehead resting on the mantelpiece; then, 
noticing the letter which he had been writing to " Viola," 
tore it slowly into two pieces, which he threw upon the 
fire; then sat and wrote to Kathleen. 

At that same hour Hannah's other husband, Willie 
Dawe, was lurking in Guilford Street at a corner of 
the Foundling wall, hugging himself for cold, but 
watching without a movement a certain window which 
he oftentimes liked to come and watch. It was now 
after one o'clock, some snow was falling, the night 
murky, and no one to be seen, save a policeman, whose 
tread came and went like ehcoes in desolate Balclutha. 

A faint light was in that second floor window which 
Daw watched. Behind it lay Hannah, sleeping, but 
hardly undressed, with a sick girl-child of the lowest 
class asleep on her arm. For some time nothing hap- 
pened: Dawe shivered and watched, Hannah slept, 


The Lost Viol 

the policeman strolled; but soon after the Foundling 
clock struck two a poor woman came hurrying south- 
ward, passed by Dawe, went to the house of the lighted 
window, and rang a bell which was so strung as to 
ring in Hannah's room. At its first tinkle, Hannah 
was awake and up, settled the sick child comfortably, 
had on her boots in a jiffy, cast a glance at her little 
son in his cot, caught up a stethoscope, and ran down 
the stair, still dressing herself in her flight. Dawe 
guessed that the bell rung was hers, that she would 
presently appear in the street, and ran to hide himself: 
but he had hardly time to do this when she was down 
and hurrying northward into Brunswick Square with 
the poor woman. He followed some way, peering 
after her through the murk and snowfall, and presently 
saw that she had left the woman behind, and was 
running forward alone. Swift and happy feet, running 
to do well. 



The kind of night which the little maid passed after 
that scene with Chris may be guessed. She saw, for 
one thing, that she had put herself into a fine fix in 
pretending to be " Viola," since the real " Viola " would 
soon be writing again to Chris, without saying a word 
about the scene! Miss Olivia and a maid watched 
through the night by her bed, each holding one of her 
quaking arms. 

And the morning's post only made things worse! 
Chris wrote, blaming himself for what had passed, 
and inviting himself to Kathleen's suite at the hotel 
on the second evening thence, " in order that my dear 
friend Kathleen and I may better understand each 
other." " Never shall I cease to remember ' Viola,' " 
he wrote, "nor all the fresh flowers which you have 
sent me during two years in your charming letters." 
All this was well enough, but in a postscript he added: 
" Shall we not have some music ? My Bergonzi and 
your Nicolo will make our evening complete." 

He meant the Nicolo which he had presented to 

'Viola"! innocently meant it, but the little maid at 

once had the guilty feeling that he did it in order to 

test whether she was really " Viola " ! and she was now, 


The Lost Viol 

as it were, in fire. To tell Chris that she had not the 
Nicolo with her would, she felt, be most lame; nor are 
Nicolos to be got like hairpins; even if she could buy 
one, Chris would know it from his own at first sight, 
at the first note. She felt that she would gladly part 
with all things in life to have " Viola's " Nicolo for two 

Her first thought was to hasten to Hannah, and, 
somehow, to get the Nicolo; but she did not know 
where Hannah lived. 

She had often asked Willie Dawe for Hannah's 
address, but Dawe had protested that he did not 
know it. That, however, was her only hope now, 
that Dawe had told a falsehood in some wish to keep 
Hannah's secret. And by eleven the brave girl had 
overcome her breakdown, and had had Dawe brought 
to her. 

"I don't know where Miss Hannah is, miss," 
answered Dawe many times. 

"Well, it is a pity for you," Kathleen answered, 
"for I have made up my mind to give you nothing 
more unless you can find out for me before mid-day." 

Beads of sweat stood on Dawe's forehead ; after some 
time he said that he knew where Miss Hannah used to 
live — 

"That will do," said Kathleen; and Dawe then gave 
Hannah's address. 

So by two in the afternoon Miss Olivia was at Han- 
nah's door, Kathleen waiting in her carriage round 

[ 218 ] 

The Lost Viol 

the corner of Guilford Place. But "Mrs. Wilson" 
was not in. 

" When will she be in ? " asked Miss Olivia. 

" Ah, now you are asking something puzzling," said 
Mrs. Reid, the landlady. 

" I will call back about four." 

" What name shall I say ? " 

"Well, perhaps I should prefer to surprise her: we 
are friends." 

Miss Olivia came back to see Hannah three times 
that day before nine p. m., but always in vain. 

By that hour Kathleen was in a high-wrought state, 
and had to be put to bed. But when it was near 
midnight, nothing would satisfy her but she must get 
up, and go to see if Hannah was in. Miss Olivia was 
asleep after her sleepless last night; and the little maid 
dressed and went out in a kind of stealth. 

At Hannah's door she alighted from her cab. But 
her heart failed her when her hand was on the knocker. 
What should she say to Hannah? How explain her 
knowledge of Hannah's address? Hannah would 
think her wondrously eager to have the Nicolo, spring- 
ing up at that hour of the night to borrow it! Would 
Hannah lend the precious gift? All these painful 
questions passed through the little head. There she 
stood, with a cowering heart, unable to knock, unable 
to go away. The door was a little open, as often in 
that kind of Bloomsbury caravansary, and she was 
peeping in when the sight of a man coming in the 


The Lost Viol 

passage sent her skedaddling. He came out, slammed 
the door, and went his way. Kathleen now stood on 
the further side of the street under the Foundling wall, 
and thence watched the house. A light was in a 
window of the second floor, on which, as Dawe had 
told her, Hannah's rooms were, and her heart stopped 
to see on the blind a shadow like Hannah's: it was 
gone in a moment, came again, and was gone, flitting 
actively about. The quaint maid's soul was thrown 
forth of herself upon that window, as when on Hannah's 
wedding night she had watched the bride's windows at 
Orrock. For a minute or two the shadow was no more 
seen : then Kathleen was aware of Hannah herself down 
at the front door. Hannah came out, slammed the 
door behind her, and started northward into Bruns- 
wick Square, her face bent down, looking neither to the 
right hand nor to the left, almost running; her nurse's 
uniform could be heard brabbling in the north wind; 
she hardly left Kathleen time to run to hide under the 
tree-shaded west wall of the Foundling, when, on the 
other side of the street, she hastened past into the square. 
Kathleen had come to see her, and there she was, quite 
near, but the little maid dared not speak to her. 

Hannah gone, the little maid went back a few yards 
to her former stand, and again watched the window. 
Though robed in layers of fur to her feet, she began to 
suffer from cold, for those were frosty days, the pave- 
ments were caked in snow and ice, and a half-moon in 
the clear sky looked like a traveler lost in a cold waste. 


The Lost Viol 

But still Kathleen stood where she was, doubly fasci- 
nated by the window now that Hannah was gone. Her 
eyes wandered between it and the front door. The 
door was now fastened, but it was not long before a girl 
came out with a jug, and ran to a near beer- house — 
in haste, for it was just when the beer-houses are shut 
up; she left the front door open, and Kathleen ran to it. 

The trouble of her heart was great, for whichever 
way things might go, she foresaw shame: if she took 
the Nicolo from Hannah's room, the real 'Viola" 
might write to tell Chris of its loss! But her keenest 
care was the meeting with Chris on the coming evening, 
and leaving the further future to take care of itself, 
she hastened in. The passage was lit, but the stairs 
in darkness, save for a tin lamp on a window-ledge 
over the first landing. She met no one. On the 
second landing were two front rooms: that on the left 
was the lighted one; in the other, a smaller one, Han- 
nah's nurse-girl slept. Kathleen tapped at the door 
on the left; there was no answer; she went in, and 
closed the door behind her without making a sound. 

Her next task was to get her breath: the little mass 
of furs stood swelling and sinking, amazed to find 
itself there. Round she cast her eyes: the bed was 
rumpled, the gas turned down, a fire burning, and 
there on an easy-chair by the fire lay the pampered 
Nicolo, a soft silk handkerchief covering the strings. 
But the little maid's eyes were fixed on quite another 
sight now than the Nicolo — on Hannah's little boy 


The Lost Viol 

asleep with flushed cheeks. He had golden hair, 
fairer than both his father and his mother. "He 
looked like a faint water-color of an angel," Kathleen 
wrote of him long afterwards: "I didn't know before 
that flesh could be so ravishingly lovely; yet the image 
of Chris." She stood a strangely long time, staring at 
the child in its cot, forgetting the Nicolo; and her face 
took on a look truly elfin, wannish, as it were of Me- 
phisto or of Erl-king with sword and crown, one of her 
eyebrows pitched up beyond the other. Strange temp- 
tations, forecastings, wrought in her quick mind then, 
yet, as it were, in a dream, and all that she went on to 
do was in sleep-walking; for by living waywardly a 
long while the little maid seems to have reared up now 
within herself a second creature which in high moments 
arose, pushed her aside, and acted instead of her. 

There was no fear of not being able to get the child 
down to the door without being seen: that could be 
done; the danger lay in his awaking on the way, and 
screaming! In the end, she turned the gas very low, 
threw her muff on the fire, took off her fur cloak, and 
with endless cares got it under the child; his clothes 
lay folded on a chair; she put them on his breast, his 
boots and socks into her pockets; on his clothes she 
laid the Nicolo with its slackened bow; and wrapping 
all in the fur, got the bundle in her arms. It was no 
slight burden for her, the child being nearly four years 
old! But that second Frankenstein-self which was 
doing all for her was strong, and, in spite of stoppages 


The Lost Viol 

on the stairs, the child was hardly shaken. But it 
was a journey ! She seemed to be bearing a horse — 
with the eyes of multitudes upon her — during an age. 
But she met no one. Down in the hall she had to put 
down the burden on a table, run to open the door, and 
run back for the bundle — all in bright gaslight. But, 
like the defaulting lodgers who steal out trunks from 
such like places, she got out safely. 

She hobbled toward Russell Square, and there was 
another waiting for a cab — another age in which she 
grew old. She met four people, but they took no 
notice of her bundle, the child was so hidden in the 
fur. When at last she was putting him into a cab, 
the little boy awoke, stared at her strange face, and 
began to cry. But all was well then. 

She told her driver to drive to Hampstead, and 
thence drove back southward to the Hotel Metropole, 
by which time the child was weary of crying, and 
dressed. She took a suite of rooms; wrote to Miss 
Olivia at the Savoy Hotel that she would be away 
most of the next day; and lay all night with her boy 
in her arms. 

Her first care the next morning was to get other 
clothes for him, to burn his former ones, to hire two 
good nurses; and she spent the day in bribing her boy 
to love her, till it was nearly time to go to meet Chris 
at her suite in the Savoy Hotel, when she set out with 
the Nicolo in a new case, leaving her boy with his 
new nurses. . . . 



"Don't let us try to talk here, Chris," said the 
little maid that night in her Savoy Hotel salon; " there 
is something to be said between you and me, but it 
can't be said in this garish place, with five of my 
enemies amiably bivouacked about us. If you can 
make time for me to-morrow evening before dinner, 
I shall come to you." 

"I am in your hands," said Chris. "I shall try to 
be disengaged, but perhaps — " 

" Oh, there is nothing outre in my going now to your 
place alone, and you have no fresh scene to dread 
from me. Our meeting will be too serious for that. 
In a wild moment I let out before the time who wrote 
the 'Viola' letters, but to-morrow I shall come more 
seriously to you as 'Viola,' bringing with me the 
precious gift which 'Viola' promised." 

"My own friend," answered Chris with compunc- 
tion, "it is I who should be bringing you precious 
gifts for your goodness — " 

"No, I; but we won't talk of it now: let's play the 
Prometheus now, as you promised. Come, Olivia." 

With the Bergonzi and the Nicolo they played a 
two-fiddle overture, the maestro saying afterwards to 


The Lost Viol 

Kathleen, "Your virtuosity is no less refined on the 
violin than on the piano"; he was eager to please her, 
for the fact of her quaint body and of her hopeless 
passion touched his heart; but the interview of the 
coming evening was most irksome to him beforehand, 
though his curiosity was stirred at the wonderful gift 
to be given him. However, he made up his mind to 
go through it with a good grace, and then, his London 
concerts being over, to fly from the quaint maid and 
from England. 

But when Kathleen appeared before him at six the 
next evening, Chris uttered a cry and rushed with a 
murmur to embrace the boy whom she led by the hand, 
the boy was such a pretty picture in his sailor dress. 

" Have I seen him before, Kathleen ? " he asked. 


"How delicious a being! How dainty a traumbild 
of color! This is Eros himself, and his mother's limbs 
could have sprung only from the sea-foam: cluck, 
cluck, kiss me." 

Chris sat on a sofa with the sulky boy on his knee, 
while Kathleen, sitting near in an armchair, said to 
her boy, " Tell us your name, will you ? " 

The answer " Chris " was got out of him after some 

"Chris!" cried out Chris the elder. 

" And whom are you like, Chris ? " asked Kathleen : 
" like this gentleman ? " 

The boy did not answer; Chris looked into his face 


The Lost Viol 

with growing astonishment, for the likeness was indeed 
striking; then looked from the boy to Kathleen. 

'This is the present which 'Viola' promised to 
bring in her hand, Chris," said Kathleen, "and now 
she has brought it. Is it truly priceless? Are you 
fully satisfied ? " 

"A present! May I have the boy?" 

"Yes, if you have the heart to take him from me." 

"But I am so wholly at a disadvantage, you see! 
Who are the parents of this wonderful child ? " 

" Can you not see your own image in him ? Whose 
child should I bring you as a present but your own, 

Chris was pierced with laughter. 

" My own ? " he cried : " is this boy a son of mine ? " 

"Yes, Chris." 

" But are you certain, my friend ? " 

" Chris, can't you see ? " 

"Oh, how splendid! He does, he does resemble 
me, if the celestials can resemble the autochthones. 
He is indeed my very self: what, can you play the 
fiddle, lad? You soon will, I can see: look, Kathleen, 
a blind man could tell that he has music in the breadth 
between the ears, blessed darling, kiss, kiss. But, 
Kathleen, are you quite sure ? I must confess that 
you surprise me. Why have I never heard of his 
existence before ? Who, then, is his divine — mother ? ' 

" Chris, can you not guess that even now ? " 

" I declare I have no idea ! " cried Chris staring, with 


The Lost Viol 

one twinge of laughter; "let it suffice that he is mine, 
my own image and likeness! My own dear 'Viola,' 
you have indeed more than fulfilled your promise! 
But where, then, is his — mother ? " 

Kathleen moved shyly on her seat, and turned away 
her face. 

"Tell me!" said Chris. 

A blush overspread the face of the little maid, making 
her younger and prettier. 

" Think whom he resembles, Chris, beside yourself," 
she just murmured. 

"I — have no idea!" said Chris at a loss. "Is it 
the Baroness Vescz — ? No, I am foolish." 

"No, not she," murmured Kathleen, her blush 
deepening to red, as she added, " Is he not like me — 
a little — about the eyes ? " 

" Mmm, my own best friend," groaned Chris, who, 
leaning forward, had just caught the little maid's 
words, " yes — about the eyes — since you say so — 
he does distinctly resemble you." 

" Well, then." 


"Don't press me, Chris: I am only a girl." 

"Oh, but tears! — don't cry, don't cry. Forgive 
me : I don't understand — I am so utterly at a loss — " 

"Who but his mother could have brought him to 
you?" asked Kathleen through sobs, with a covered 
face, whereat Chris, though half-crying for sympathy, 
again had a throe of laughter. 


The Lost Viol 

"But don't cry," he said: "it is all right, I don't 
know why you cry; at present you speak of a mystery, 
but all will presently be made clear." 

"He is yours and mine." 

"Quite so: don't cry, don't cry." 

" You don't believe me, but it is true." 

"Well, I am most flattered: don't cry." 

"You think me crazy, but did you never suspect 


"That I am—" 


"A little mother, Chris?" 

"I didn't know. It is the very highest dignity on 

" It is sweet to be a mother, Chris, yes, it is sweet to 
the heart, Chris: little did I dream before, but now I 
know — to have something which is your very, very 
own, as that boy is mine." 

At this the little maid wept afresh, for for two 
nights she had been wallowing in the feeling that the 
boy was, really, her offspring, as little girls are their 
dolls' true mothers, and as a hen will think a pheasant- 
chick truly hers because she has hatched it and it is 
under her wing. 

" Is this divine child yours ? " asked the simple, good 

'Yes," murmured the little maid, weeping quietly, 
without meaning to tell an untruth. 


The Lost Viol 

" I felicitate you from my heart ! But — " 

" Oh, Chris, don't doubt my word." 

"If I don't ! I was only going to say — " 

"You are his father, Chris: you can see it for your- 

" Precisely ! But, my own best friend, — " 

"Listen, Chris: I am only a girl, and it is hard to 
say, but it must be said. There is a night of your 
life which has passed out of your memory. It is the 
night when you gave your first great London recital, 
at Queen's Hall. Try to remember it. After the 
concert you went to several places with a lot of men, 
and drank a good deal. I was in love, and followed 
you in a cab; then I was mad enough to come here, 
and you let me in." 

" Good God ! " murmured Chris under his breath. 

" Try to remember," went on Kathleen : " that same 
night a burglar somehow entered your rooms, and 
stole from you a viol di Gamba, your watch and chain, 
and some other things — " 

"I remember," breathed Chris, with a look of horror. 

"And do you remember sleeping till three or four 
the next afternoon ? I was vexed with myself, and 
left you asleep about two in the afternoon. But I 
needn't have been so vexed, for I see now that my 
only fault was in coming to your door, since something 
or other that we both drank took away our senses, our 
memory, and everything. This accounts for the late 
sleeping the next day." 


The Lost Viol 

"Something that we drank?" 

" Yes : isn't it a fact that Grimani takes hashish ? " 


"Well, you won't remember, but I do, that just 
about that time you dismissed Grimani, and I have 
come to the conclusion that Grimani must have put 
some hashish into your Alicante that day, out of re- 
venge; for I happen to know that he does take 
hashish, and I have lately found out that the symp- 
toms of hashish are the same as mine and yours that 

"Good God, can this have happened?" groaned 
Chris to himself, with a hopeless brow on his hand. 

At this point the unhappy boy, who had wriggled 
from Chris' knee to the floor, and had been looking 
from Chris to Kathleen and from Kathleen to Chris, 
turned down his mouth, and began to cry, saying, 
"I want mama." 

"He means his nurse," remarked the little maid: 
"come, Chris, to mama, come." 

It was while she was saying this that there was a 
knock at the front " oak," and half a minute afterwards 
Grimani looked in, saying, "Lady Wilson to see you, 

"Who?" asked Chris. 

"'Lady Wilson,' she told me, sir." 

"Can it be Hannah?" asked Chris of Kathleen. 

"Oh, God!" breathed Kathleen, half rising with a 
face of terror, "we mustn't meet." 

[ 231 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"Tell the lady that I am not at home for the 
moment," said Chris to Grimani. 

" I told her so, sir, but she came inside, and said that 
she must see you at once." 

Instantly Kathleen caught up the crying child, and 
ran away with it into Chris's bedroom. 



"Didn't I hear a child crying?" asked Hannah, 
appearing heatedly before Chris without being asked 
in (the crying was no more heard, for Kathleen had 
closed three heavy doors between). 

" What do you want ? " asked Chris feebly. 

" I was almost sure — Was there a child here ? " 

"Yes; but what is the matter?" 

" I thought I recognized — Oh, it is only my silli- 
ness," she sighed, dropping into an easy-chair. " Every 
child I hear, I think — Bear with me a moment, I am 
so tired." 

She sat with closed eyes, and Chris stood looking at 
her with a wrinkled brow. 

" I come to you in great trouble," she said, " all that 
I had — a good half anyway — My child has been 
stolen : I come to his father ; perhaps you can do some- 
thing. Tried not to come, but my feet brought me." 

" Do you say that I am his father ? " asked Chris, 
with half a laugh. 

"Yes, then." 

Again on a sudden Chris was pierced with laughter, 
for every one wished to accuse him of fatherhood. 

'This is sufficiently barefaced," he said. 

[ 233 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"Oh, well," she sighed. 

" Is it not really so ? What can you mean ? You 
wear the livery of an honorable profession." 

"I am quite worn out. Give me a few minutes, 
then I will tell you. You needn't be afraid, you will 
believe everything I say." 

" Well, I hope so. Grimani I — let me get you some 

" Yes, but not Alicante " — her eyes twinkled a 
little — "I have tasted your Alicante before." 

"But when?" 

" Over four years ago, that night of your first recital 
at Queen's Hall." 

" What, you, too ? Grimani, a glass of — shall we 
say Chrypre, Muscat?" 

" Yes, Muscat, and if you have any biscuits : I haven't 
tasted since yesterday." 

"Quickly, Grimani, some mortadel sandwiches." 

" That's right. He's gone — somehow — some- 
where. I went out night before last at half -past twelve 
to be at a deathbed; he was gone when I came back, 
vanished, don't know how or why: God knows." 

"Your son?" 


" Have you communicated with the police ? " 

"Of course. No clue. No one to suspect. Oh, 
my soul is sorrowful unto death, Chris Wilson. 

"Never mind, he shall be found for you: don't cry." 

"Oh, I am not crying, but it's a nice old wrench, 

[ 234 ] 

The Lost Viol 

you know, like having your jaw carried away. I was 
fond of him." 

"Don't cry, don't cry: he shall certainly be found 
for you." 

" You think so ? But what will you do ? What can 

"I can spend money, if that is any good." 

"That's no good, I'm afraid. If the police can't 
find him, no one will. Are you never to see him, I 
wonder? You would merely have worshiped him: 
he is the loveliest — and the picture of you, only 


" He has your mouth, your eyes, your hands — " 

" He might leave me my hands, to practise with." 

"There, he jests. Don't believe, really? I almost 
forgot that I hadn't told you. Well, I feel better 
now: you shall hear. On the night of your first recital, 
I came here to you " — she told the whole story of her 
entrance, of the wine, of the strange drunkenness, of 
her waking and flight the next afternoon with the viol 
di Gamba, etc. Chris listened looking out on the 
Gardens. Having just been hearing the very same 
tale from Kathleen, he could only assume that one of 
the two had heard of the escapade from the other, 
and was an imposter. Both could hardly be true. 

"Were you and I alone here that night?" he asked. 

"Yes; I didn't see Grimani." 

" No other lady was here ? " 


The Lost Viol 

"Lady? Of course not." 

By this time the little maid, who had now quieted 
the child, and left it in an inner room, was holding 
her ear at a keyhole, and undergoing the keenest strain 
of mind at what she heard. 

"And as to the viol di Gamba, the watch and chain, 
and the other things which you took," said Chris, " do 
you happen to have any of them with you at present ? " 

"No; I have lost them." 

" Lost them ? Not all of them." 


"But how?" 

" They were stolen out of my trunk, I suppose. For 
five years I have been trying all the time to find them. 
No good." 

"So that what was purloined by you was in turn 
purloined from you ? " 

"I couldn't purloin what was my own, you know." 

"No, I forgot: they were your own. But first your 
'proofs' were stolen, and now the child itself? You 
are very unfortunate." 

"Yes; but don't blame me for that." 

"I don't blame you. But can one be so unfortu- 
nate ? " 

"Oh, there are worse things than that. The big 
woes happen inside. I'd rather that than a sluggish 
liver, or a cold heart." 

" Hannah," murmured Chris, " how excellent you — 
have been." 


The Lost Viol 

"Chris," she said, "how flattering you — are." 

" I have the utmost faith in your liver, Hannah — 
though I think I should prefer a sluggish liver to the 
loss of my only child." 

"If your liver was sluggish, your very pity and 
grief would be sluggish, too. It is because mine is 
rather hot for me alone that I came here for your 

' Well, I give you that, if you have lost your child, 
though I mustn't pretend that my sorrow is paternal. 
It is the mother that interests me. I see that you are 
even more beautifully blooming than ever, and looking 
charming in that costume." 

' There, he is falling in love now. But not now, my 
friend, not now. Pity me now." 

"Well, you seem to suffer genuinely. Tell me if 
you have really lost a child." 

She started, saying gently, "Don't believe, really?" 

"Put yourself in my place," said Chris in pain, 
" how can I possibly ? It is most distressing. Do 
you still say that your child is mine also ? " 

Hannah's eyes rested upon him, but she answered 

"Don't you see," said Chris, "how impossible it 
looks ? How long, for instance, after that night of 
my recital did you marry a second time?" 

"About three months after." 

" And you married another man, knowing — ? You 
wouldn't have done that." 


The Lost Viol 

"Oh, Chris, you are cross-examining me." 

"Yes, in your own interests: you have made certain 
statements to me, and I wish you to know that I am 
more or less awake, so that you may make no more of 
the same kind. I don't know what is your motive for 
saying such things, but I warn you that they are not 

" Well, blessed are the wounds of a friend, Chris." 

"Yes, it is all very well to speak in that way, but 
drop the queer statements, and then we can truly be 
friends. What you say is really not credible: you 
would hardly have lost the viol and all the other things, 
and you would most certainly not have married a new 
man, if you had been about to be a mother. You 
admit that you did marry the man ? " 

"Yes: that was merely formal." 

"Now comes yet a new statement, you see, and if it 
were credible, I should rush gladly into belief. What 
could have been your motive for a merely formal 
marriage with this man ? " 

" I'm afraid I must never tell you that : I am forbidden 
to whisper it even to my own left hand; but it wasn't 
a bad motive." 

"But the left hand knows, Hannah, being the ring 

'Yes, but cynicism always runs a terrible risk of 
being unkind," she said with a pout. 

"My own dear friend," said Chris feelingly — "yes, 
runs a terrible risk of being unkind, but put yourself 


The Lost Viol 

in my place. For some five, six, seven years perhaps, 
we have not seen each other; during that time, though 
I have led a busy life, never a week has passed in which 
I have not thought of you with tenderness and longed 
to see you, in spite of your abandonment of me, for I 
have said to myself, 'Perhaps she abandoned me be- 
cause I abandoned her.' Imagine, therefore, if I wish 
to be cynical rather than to be kind. I would give 
anything. But you suddenly appear before me with a 
number of statements. At one time, if you had said to 
me, ' The sky is made of paper,' I should have trusted 
you. But you admit your second marriage; and suppose 
I tell you that not four days ago your terrible ' merely 
formal ' husband spoke to me of your child and his ? " 

" Willie Dawe?" 

"I think that that is his name." 

Hannah sat over the fire, her chin on her palm, 

" My own Willie ? " she said presently, " spoke of 
the child as his ? " 

'Yes," said Chris with some bitterness. 

"I didn't know that he knew that I have a child." 

"That is yet a statement." 

"They are all pretty true, Chris." 

"Granted. But you see why I disbelieve them?" 

"No, I don't. I never conceived that you would 
really doubt me. Let all the world doubt me, but you 
believe me, Chris." 

" What, against my five wits ! " 


The Lost Viol 

"Yes: I expect that of you." 

" By Heaven, you will either drive me mad, or force 
me to press you to my heart. I love you, if only for 
your audacity." 

" Believe me first, and press me to your heart after, 
my friend." 

" It would be a costly embrace ! bought at the expense 
of my reason." 

"Never mind about reason: believe in Hannah." 

"I — almost do ! " laughed Chris, with opened arms. 

' That's brave : make one rough effort against your- 
self, and then you will." 

" You have the very accent and face of truth ! " 

" There, he's coming round," said Hannah, laughing 
with pleasure: " I shall soon have you all straight now." 

" Do you laugh at my simplicity ? " asked Chris. 

"No, I laugh for joy because we know each other 
inside like brothers, and our friendship is sealed up 
above forever. Everything proves me a liar, and yet 
you believe me." 

"But I don't!" 

" You do inside — you soon will : keep looking into 
my eyes, and, the moment you believe, you can kiss 
me, and be friends." 

" Have I a longing look ? " 

"Oh, one can see that you are hankering to regain 
possession: let's be frank." 

'"De Vaudace, et encore de Vaudace, et tou jours de 
Vaudace,' " murmured Chris, smiling icily. 

[ 240 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"Ah, now, that's backsliding. No, I'd better go, 
since you are in this mood. You shan't see me again 
for another year " — she sprang up so sharply, that 
Chris was taken aback. 

"Are you going?" he asked rather ruefully: "in 
another year we shall both be older." He was ever a 
miser of his youth. 

"Oh, not I!" laughed Hannah, "there's no need 
for anybody to grow a day older"; then, with a fickle 
change of face, looking upward with triumph, she said: 
'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their 
youth: they shall mount up with wings as eagles. 
Good-by ! " she offered her right hand sharply, covering 
her moist eyes with the left. 

"Mmm," groaned Chris, "don't cry," and wished 
to come near to her, but she caught away her hand 
from him, and slipped away round the table, saying, 
" No, believe first." 

"I do, I do," he said with a flushed face. 

" Fully ? " 


"There, I have won him!" running to him and 
kissing him — " and only by a trick " — kissing him — 
"a fiddler can't stand tears, even half-crocodile ones" 
— kissing him. 

"Amazing chameleon," murmured Chris, kissing her, 
" have you tricked me ? " 

"Oh, no more backsliding," said Hannah, dropping 
again with a fickle change and sigh into her easy-chair, 


The Lost Viol 

"and no more kissing. Oh, you don't know, Chris: 
my soul is exceeding bitter and sorrowful this day, 
God knows. Aren't you going to give me my little boy 

Chris stood in thought for some time, and then said : 

"Listen, Hannah: I will tell you now what was my 
chief reason for disbelieving your story: it was, that 
another lady declares that she spent here the very 
night that you claim; you can't both be true; and she 
proved her case by showing me a child, a boy, which 
is certainly very like me: so I couldn't believe you. 
But it occurs to me now that, in case she be false, and 
you true, then the child which she has may be the 
very one which you have lost." 

"It is, of course!" cried Hannah, springing up in a 
jubilee; "he is found! and I'll never lose sight of him 
again. Where is he now? Was that his crying I 
heard — " 

" No. Wait. Describe your son to me. " 

" Curly golden hair, your eyes, but much lighter and 
larger, your hands and large mouth, but more like an 
angel than like — " 

" Then it is very likely the same." 

"But where is he? When can I have him? He 
only likes oaten bread — must be suffering miseries — " 

"No, don't be impatient, wait, wait. I know now 
what I shall do. You shall see him here — to-morrow 
evening at this hour." 

"But why? Why? Where is he? Who is this 


The Lost Viol 

awful woman ? Am I to leave my child to her ten- 
der mercies till to-morrow evening? Oh, fair's fair, 
Chris! Don't rob me of my child for a whole night 
and day!" 

"But I don't understand your extreme impatience," 
said Chris: "just now you didn't expect to find him at 
all, and now you chafe at one day's delay. You must 
wait, since I can't do any better for you. Besides, he 
is in the hands of a lady who will pet him up, and keep 
him warm and nice." 

"Oh! he'll laugh at any one's petting!" 
"Still, you must wait: come to-morrow at seven, and 
I undertake that the child and the other woman who 
claims him shall be here, too. If he is your son, we 
shall know it in a moment by his conduct; then we 
shall be certain that your story is true, for there's no 
doubt that he is my son." 

" But, Chris, you submit me to tests and proofs." 
" Forgive me, will you ? That's not because I any 
longer disbelieve you, but as a formal justice to the 
other little woman, whom I fully believed up to the 
moment when you came in. Now I shall keep an 
open mind till your interview, and then I shall judge 
between you. It will be a cruel ordeal for the liar, 
but she deserves it." 

" But who can this woman be ? I am perfectly be- 
wildered! Some one came to my place four times on 
the day the child was stolen, asking for me, saying that 
she was a ' friend,' but I haven't been able to identify 


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her from my landlady's description. I wonder if it 
is the same ? " 

"Probably not. I won't tell you now. You will 
see her to-morrow." 

"But she won't come to be proved a liar! She will 
hide my child ! — " 

" No, I undertake that she will come with the child. 
Woe to her, if she doesn't. But I have some one 
waiting in yonder : will you go now ? and come back in 
an hour to dine with me ? Do you live far from here ? " 

"Ten minutes' walk. But I shan't come back: too 
tired and sad. Good-by." 

" Are you pleased with me now ? " 

"Whatever you do is well done for me: that's all 
settled and done with." 

" What, still ? Do you still love me, Hannah ? " 

"Let me go. I will tell you to-morrow night." 

" Why on earth did you marry that horrible man ? " 

"He isn't horrible, only unhappy. Good-by." 

Chris just managed to steal a kiss askance from her 
cheek, and she was gone. 

" To-morrow at seven ! " he called after her. 

" All right," she said over her shoulder, but — " 

[ 244 1 


A minute after Hannah was gone, Kathleen came 
out to Chris leading the boy, looking a picture of 
nervous flurry and unrule. 

"I don't know if you heard anything, Kathleen," 
said Chris, looking at her gravely under his eyes. 

"Yes, I did," said the little maid with a breathless 
vehemence, with a twitching of the lips. 

"Hannah, you see, claims your little one." 

" Base thing ! I had told her everything — this is 
the result — You ought to be ashamed, Chris — " 

"Of what?" 

" Of being so miserably her dupe — of kissing her 
like a slave — I told you how low she had fallen — I 
brought you her husband — " 

" He is not really her husband — " 

"Yes, defend her, Chris, a woman of the middle- 
class — a farmer's daughter — fallen to the dregs of 
society — I know that I am only a little hunchback, 
my word is not as good as hers, but not a soul knows 
me, I will show you all what I am, I am the greatest 
being that ever breathed, I defy you all — " 

"Mmm, my dear friend, don't — " 

" Base thing! Didn't she dare to claim to be ' Viola,' 

[245 ] 

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too? It's a wonder! for I told her about that, too; 
she could have said that the Nicolo was stolen from 
her, as well as the child, but she didn't dare — " 

"Oh, but don't— " 

"Base thing! She wants money of you to support 
her husband, that is the cause of this elaborate acting 
— and her word to be taken against mine, and she to 
be kissed and worshiped, and sent away in triumph, 
and all the time the child is mine, my very own, and 
every word I say is true — true because / say it — no 
other reason — that's enough — because / say it, you 
hear, Chris?" 

"But, good God, do you wish to drive a poor man 
mad?" cried Chris with a sudden flush: "can't you 
let me speak ? " 

" Oh, let me get out of here!" said Kathleen, moving 
sharply to hobble off. 

"Stay! stay! Do you understand, Kathleen, that 
Hannah will be here at seven to-morrow evening in 
order that she may meet you and the child ? " 

"But do you imagine for a moment that she will 
come?" screamed Kathleen, turning upon him with a 
face of rage. " She won't come ! She knows that the 
child is mine!" 

"She said the very same thing of you, that you 
wouldn't come." 

"But I will! Whom do you believe, her or me? 
I'll come, if only to punish you, but she won't! Qui 
vivra verra 1 " and the little maid was off, with stamps 


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in her hobbling, dragging the astonished child, while 
Chris chased her with " Don't think that I doubt you ! 
I keep a perfectly open mind till to-morrow; but per- 
haps if you leave the child, I could manage — " but 
she went out without a backward glance or answer, 
Chris looking after her with his foolish, meek look 
till she disappeared down the stairs. 

The little maid drove thence to the Hotel Metropole, 
but, without alighting there, sent up-stairs for the 
child's nurse, gave the child to her, and said to her 
coachman, "To Scotland Yard." 

At Scotland Yard she had a ten minutes' interview 
with an official, to whom she reported the fact of 
Hannah's two marriages, with the dates, then drove 
back to the hotel, and spent the night there with her 
now doubly-dear boy. On the morrow she might be 
childless, but for that night at least she was a little 
mother, with her own offspring in her arms. 

Most of the next day she spent at the Savoy Hotel 
with Miss Olivia, who was still in a state of wonder 
as to the where and why of Kathleen's nightly absences: 
and sharp at seven the little maid was at Chris's " oak " 
with the child, to keep the appointment made by Chris. 

' Thanks infinitely for coming," said Chris, catching 
up the boy to his breast, "you are the first to arrive." 

"But it is humiliating, Chris," said Kathleen, re- 

" I see that ; but bear with me, since it was my only 


The Lost Viol 

They sat down and waited for Hannah to come. 
Little was said. Kathleen toyed with her boy, who 
was now becoming tamer to her caresses. The lamp 
was not lit; the room, though inflamed by the firelight, 
grew duskier and duskier. Anon Chris peered at his 
watch; the ticking of a clock in the room filled the si- 
lence ; Kathleen, pale at first, after a time brightened up, 
came out like the sun from all cloud and trouble, and 
said smiling, "Well, I seem to be last as well as first." 

"She is late," remarked Chris. 

"But this is tiresome. Do play something, Chris." 

"No verve," said Chris with a pathetic smile. 

"Til play," cried the little maid, starting up to the 
piano; she played a polonaise, anon calling out to the 
boy through the noise with lively glances round, " Dance, 
Chrisie!" Then she played the third Lied of the 
second book, and then, with flushed cheeks, a Brahms 
movement, " Guten Abend, gute Nacht," in the midst 
of which last Chris leapt up with a start which lifted 
his hair in a mass, and began to pace about with a 
red brow. It was eight o'clock. 

The little maid stood up with a laugh. 

" You won't ever doubt me again, Chris ? " — with her 
hands on his shoulders, and a happy light in her eyes. 

" Forgive my unbelief," he said absently, patting her 
back, "you shall be recompensed. Oh, I have been a 
dreamer!" he brought his palm to his forehead, and 
threw himself desperately upon a couch: Hannah did 
not come, and white was black to Chris, 



The very morning after that failure of Hannah to 
come to Chris's chambers for her child, Chris left 
England for the Continent. The little maid wrote of 
it: "He felt her non-appearance — keenly, too. Well, 
let him write a notturno over it, as he wrote Mortalite 
over poor some one's dead body, and then he won't 
care any more, when he has once made ' copy ' of his 
sighs. I got his note at two p. m., four hours after he 
had gone: 'My own dear friend, 1 find it necessary to 
leave England at once, but you will be kept always 
informed of my whereabouts, as I hope you will keep 
me informed of yours, so that the future of the close 
relation which exists between us may be fully discussed 
between us by letter; moreover, we are certain to meet 
either at Orrock or in some quarter of the globe. 
Meantime, you may be sure I carry "Viola" about in 
my heart. Kiss the darling boy for me, mentioning 
every day to him the name of his father. Ever yours 
sincerely, Chris Wilson.' He sticks to his 'Viola.' It 
is rather a mercy that Hannah in her interview with 
him never mentioned about ' Viola,' or about the Nicolo 
being lost: I suppose she was too full of the loss of the 
child to trouble about anything else; if she had men- 

[ 240 ] 

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tioned it, that might have shaken Chris's certainty as 
to me being 'Viola,' for there are already things in 
the letters against it, such as 'Viola's' description of 
herself as tall, and the rot about ' joy,' ' health,' ' having 
life,' and so on. But the mere fact of my having the 
Nicolo must be to Chris an overwhelming proof that 
I am 'Viola,' and the fact of no more letters coming 
now from 'Viola' must be an added proof. 

" At five p. m. on the day after the ' ordeal ' and 
Hannah's arrest I went to her place, for I was eager to 
hear everything; had a long talk with Mrs. Reid, the 
landlady, and got her to take me up to Hannah's 
room, that I might look round the place in which I 
had trembled and dared. It looked pretty desolate, 
like a room from which the dead has been carried out. 
I was frightened, and didn't go right in, or stay long 
up there. Mrs. Reid said that Hannah had told her 
the morning before that she would be giving up the 
rooms, since she was going to live with her husband 
thenceforth, that the child was found, and that she 
was going for it to Gray's Inn at seven in the evening. 
' About ten minutes to seven,' said Mrs. Reid, ' she ran 
down the stairs, dressed to go out. I happened to be 
at the front door, looking out for the coalman, so I 
said to her, " Going for him now ? " she smiled and 
said, " Yes, don't be impatient, soon have more of him 
than is good for you." She looked as bright as an 
angel, God knows, and an angel is what we all thought 
her, though I will say she did neglect her little boy 


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sometimes, and made my life wretched about the 
blessed mice ; most people are a bit nervous of a mouse, 
but not like her, I've seen her stand on a bed as white 
as a corpse — " 

'"But about the arrest,' I said for the twentieth 
time; but it was another hour before I got it all out of 
the endless old thing. ' Just as Mrs. Wilson got to 
the door,' she said, ' a boy named Ralphie, who follows 
her about like her shadow, ran up from the Medical 
Mission in Compton Place, to tell her that a man from 
the timber-yard named Giddins was taken worse; she 
looked rather taken aback, glanced at her watch, hesi- 
tated a bit on the doorstep, and at last said to Ralphie, 
"Well, come on." She and the boy then ran off into 
Brunswick Square. Half an hour afterwards I was in 
the kitchen, when I heard a knock, went up, and found 
a constable and another man at the door. They 
wanted to know if Mrs. Wilson was in. "She is out," 
I said. "No, she isn't," said the one in plain clothes, 
" for there she comes " — and so, true, there she was 
coming down the stairs with some papers in her hand, 
for, after seeing the sick man, she must have come in 
to get something, and now was just starting off again 
to Gray's Inn.' 

"I shivered as she spoke: one minute's difference 
and Hannah might have got to Gray's Inn. There's 
some star in collusion with the little hunch. They had 
told me at Scotland Yard that she would probably be 
arrested by noon. 


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a e 

: She was passing out,' Mrs. Reid said, 'when the 
two men asked if she was Mrs. Wilson. She said yes. 
"Well, a warrant has been issued for your arrest," 
said the one in plain clothes, and at those words I 
almost dropped — she that every one thought was so 
good! But you never know who's who in London, 
miss. " What wrong have I done ? " she asked, smiling 
with them. " You are charged," said the officer, " with 
contracting a bigamous marriage with somebody at 
so-and-so on such a date." "How can you know?" 
said she. "That's neither here nor there," said he; 
" take notice that your words are being taken down " — 
he had a note-book in his hand. " Well, what next ? " 
said she. "You must come with us to the station," 
said he. " Oh, not now," said she. "Yes, now," said 
he. " But do you know that I have lost my child ? " 
said she. " We know nothing of that," said he, " you 
must come." "But listen," said she. "We can't," 
said he, "you must come." "For God's sake, will 
you?" said she. "We can't," said he, "you must 
come now: if you have any statement to make, you can 
make it at the station." "But listen, I am a poor 
mother," said she. "Can't help that," said he, "you 
must come at once." " But if any time is lost, a wrong 
will be done," said she, " and you would not like it to 
be done through you." "Very sorry," said he, "but 
you must come." "May I not even write a note?" 
said she. "Not now," said he. "Well, then," said 
she, " if you won't listen to reason, I am sorry for you." 


The Lost Viol 

At this she turned and said at my ear, "Tell them at 
the Medical Mission that I had to go away, and don't 
cry, it will be all the same to me a hundred years 
hence." She kissed me, and walked away between 
them, with a little crowd of boys and girls following. 
I ran out into the drizzle, and whispered to one of the 
men, '" Don't be hard on her, now." They took a 
four-wheeler at the Foundling rank. . . .' 

' The old thing began to cry. I was listening to her 
till after six, then drove back full of pity and fear for 
poor Hannah, and joy at the awful dangers which I 
had escaped the evening before. It is a mercy that 
I didn't stay at Chris's later than eight o'clock, for 
undoubtedly Hannah told the police-station people that 
her lost child was then at Chris's place, and some one 
may have been sent to see if it was true. I don't sup- 
pose that much weight is given to a prisoner's state- 
ments, but, if any one was sent, I was gone when he 
came; Chris must have been out, too, at that hour, 
and the next morning early was off to the Continent. 

" I meant to go down to Orrock at once, so the next 
thing was to introduce my boy to Olivia; I didn't mean 
to invent any story about having adopted him, for, far 
from being ashamed of it, I glory in being a mother. 
That night we had Charlie Podmore with Lady Roden 
and her Lillian and Aimee, so after they were gone I 
made Olivia sit at my feet in the salon, and I confessed 
to her all about the recital night, the drugged wine, 
the birth of the child -- everything. She was amusing 

[ 253 ] 

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with her astonishment, didn't know to what first to 
apply her boundless 'but's.' 'But,' she said, and 
stopped, and then said 'but' again. I didn't care; I 
was too happy; I shall have Chris now at last; I have 
become quite reckless and jolly; I defy every one and 
everything; there's a little star somewhere that winks 
when I wink. 

" ' But you slept with me on the night of that recital ! ' 
Livie managed to get out at last. 

'"I got up while you were asleep, and came back 
while you were asleep,' I answered. 

"'But — but— ' 

" ' Never mind, Olivia,' I said, ' reconcile yourself to 
facts as they are.' 

" ' But which facts ! ' she cried ; ' you are only acting a 
part to yourself and to me! — the whole thing is wildly 
incredible ! ' 

" ' You won't say so when you see him,' I said. ' You 
will simply sit down and cry for joy that I could be the 
little mother of such an angel. Chris called him ' Eros' 
— there never was such a child — I don't say it be- 
cause I am his mother; try to imagine what Chris's 
soul must be under hashish, Olivia, like Uriel clad in 
the sunset; and I, too, was under hashish, remember: 
the child is a peg above other children — ' 

" ' It's all play-acting ! ' she cried : " where — when — ? 
I have always been with you except those three months 
when you were with Louise at Davos!' 

"'It was then,' I said. 


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'No, if it is impossible, it is impossible/ she said. 
'I shall write and ask Louise.' 

'Louise will deny,' I said; 'it is a secret between 
her and me.' 

"'It can't be, it can't be,' she said. 
' But, Livie, why so ? ' I pleaded. ' Didn't you think 
that I was capable of being the little mother of a sweet 
boy ? I am just like everybody, Livie, and more so. It 
is sweet to the heart, Livie, to be a mother — ' 

"'Acting, acting, all acting!' she cried, shaking her 
head; and I got angry, saying, 'Well, we will let the 
subject drop now, if you please.' 

'Yes,' she said, 'get angry if you please, but have 
I no cause for anger? What kind of thing is this 
which you have brought upon me ? ' 

" ' A pure honor,' I said, 'not even a hint of disgrace. 
Chris says that it is the highest dignity on earth to be 
a mother. And the mother of his child! Don't the 
haphazard sons of kings become dukes? But the 
world looks upon Chris as far above any king!' 

"'But still, Kathleen,' she said, beginning to sniffle, 
' it is hard on me — ' 

'But no one need know,' I said to comfort her, 
and in the end worked her round to a state of mere 
curiosity to see the child: when I brought him the 
next forenoon she was as much in love as any one. 
To-morrow we go down, and shall stay at the Hill till 
Hannah's final trial, when I mean to come up for two 
or three days at the beginning of the season; they say 


The Lost Viol 

that things will be quite dull until little Teddy comes 
into his own: all the world is in purple mourning by 
command. I shall spend the whole season at home 
with German philosophy, botany, music, and my boy, 
without receiving at all, but living like a recluse. 
Perhaps Chris may come to Orrock,. . ." etc., etc. 

" This place," she wrote later, " is certainly haunted, 
and nothing could keep me here but Chris's promise 
to come down at any moment; but I must reap what 
I have sown; there have been moments of my life, like 
that day of the hiding of the viol, when I have certainly 
danced mad. What could have possessed me to lift 
the face-cloth? Some hand took mine and did it: 
and it is now that I am really feeling the effects of it. 
Oh, the terrors which this scheme of nerves can divine 
and foreknow! Something lately seems to threaten 
me, I am conscious of it afar off, it lifts its head within 
me for a moment and just whispers of eyeballs staring 
and shrieks of madness ringing through deep vaults of 
the earth, which some day I shall hear, and there are 
times when somewhere far off at the back of me ten 
thousand thunders seem mustering themselves to hurry 
and burst upon me. What is the meaning of it? 
Every night now I dream of him, with his rigid face. 
I oughtn't to have dared put the things into his coffin. 
But what else was left me to do? I am taking phos- 
phorus, iron, and salicylate of soda; these last four days 
the rheumatic pains in the left leg, and the indigestion, 
have been worse than ever. Plato says that a healthy 


The Lost Viol 

body will not make one virtuous, but a virtuous mind 
will make one healthy. I wonder? Perhaps I could 
have done better, better for myself. But what is 
virtue? Poor 'Viola' says mere 'vigor' of mind: but 
if you haven't got the vigor, you haven't, that's all, as 
when a man can't jig, he can't jig. If one's vigor of 
mind may be strengthened by practising goodness, as 
one's body by athletics, still you must have some vigor 
to start on. Everything is God's fault. People with 
heart disease can't do athletics. I shan't care about 
anything, except the physical pains, and the terrors. 
Life is about equally troublesome to every one, and I 
shouldn't change places with poor Hannah now. I 
have my boy, and some little day I shall be standing 
at an altar with a certain C. W. That's plenty to have 
lived for. 

" Olivia returned last night at nine, after witnessing 
the trial. She has been away three days, staying two 
with Lady Roden; the coronation, she says, is already 
all the rage; she saw a return of mounted infantry 
through the Park, and on the second day Hannah in 
the dock. It has made poor Livie unwell, and I am 
glad now that I was too ill to go. She sat veiled with 
the common crowd in a gallery, kept an opera glass 
fixed upon Hannah, and was struck by Hannah's 
'politeness' to every one — so she says. It didn't last 
long: Hannah pleaded guilty. She looked pale and 
ill. A lot of the poor in the gallery knew her, and 
their excited whispering among themselves kept Olivia 


The Lost Viol 

from hearing much that was said below. She says 
that ' something about her forehead struck me that day 
as mulishly stubborn: though it is low, it would be 
overbearing, but for the kindly twinkling of her eyes, 
like a rock with bluebells. When she answered the 
judge or the lawyer she seemed to be treating them 
gently, like "patients." She made them all chuckle 
by telling the judge that " she tried bigamy because 
she found marriage a failure." They wanted to get 
the address of Willie Dawe, but she wouldn't, or 
couldn't, give it. What could have made Hannah 
Wilson do such a thing with such a creature surpasses 
mortal comprehension! Yet somehow I couldn't be- 
lieve, while looking at her, that she had done any 
wrong; at one time I wanted to scream, it seemed to 
me that I was witnessing some piercing outrage, like 
the rending of a lamb, the harming of the harmless, 
the trampling of white robes in the mud, and the 
judgment of the higher by the lower. The name 
"Lady" Wilson didn't occur throughout the trial. 
When a doctor from some hospital spoke of the love 
of the poor people for her, Hannah wept passionately. 
When the judge was about to deliver sentence, she 
stood up by the side of her wardress, very pale and 
austere, and heard his long lecture with lowered eyes. 
The moment the words "nine months" passed his 
lips a howl of lamentation broke out a little behind 
me — a tall man with his head buried in his arms, 
howling for all he was worth. It was Willie Dawe: 


The Lost Viol 

I hadn't noticed him before. I saw Hannah's eyes 
lift and rest steadily upon him as he was being removed 
in a fainting condition.' Cutting of the trial is on 
third fly-leaf. Olivia brought down a heap of papers, 
but they all say much the same things. Down here 
not a soul knew a word about anything, till they saw 
it in the papers. Both the old Langlers are ill, and 
all Orrock, they say, is mourning. This is great 
Babylon which I have built, . . ." etc., etc. 



"Last night," continued the little maid later, 
"another quarrel with Olivia — just because I sent 
for Dr. Williams when my darling pricked his finger. 
She said that I am ' exposing myself to the ridicule of 
everybody by my skittish extravagances with the boy.' 
I wasn't really angry, for I feel pleased au fond to 
have them all wondering at my adoration of him, but 
by pretending to be angry I became rather so. 'I 
don't seem to be any longer mistress in my own house,' 
I said. 

"'The mischief is that you are too much so,' she 
answered : ' what has come over you of late, Kathleen ? 
You didn't use to be like this! That child has turned 
you into a perfect Donna Quixote!' 

" ' Even if that be true,' I said, ' isn't he sweet enough 
to turn any little mother's head ? ' 

" ' Let his sweetness be admitted,' she said : ' but. that 
is no reason, Kathleen, why the tongue of a lady should 
be heard scolding through her house every five minutes 
in the day for imaginary wrongs done to a brat — ' 

"'You are not to call him a brat, Olivia,' I said. 

'"Well, a pretty child, if you like,' she said, 'but 
still a brat, for a brat's a brat, and what I have said I 


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stick to. I am sure that everybody in the place does 
the very best for the boy, and to turn away old servants, 
servant after servant, in your late tyrannical manner 
for imaginary wrongs — the merest figments of your 
brain — ' 

"'I am the best judge of all that,' I said: 'I wish 
my boy to be the one grand fact of life for every one 
around me, and whoever fails in the slightest degree 
to come up to this standard must go, that's all.' 

Well, go your way,' she said, ' but I am only doing 
my duty to warn you, Kathleen, that your conduct is 
causing astonishment and ridicule; since the end of 
May it becomes every day more fantastic, and I won't 
hold my tongue any longer. Are there to be no bounds 
to your antics with this boy ? I say nothing of his 
jewel-studded plate, his gold knife and fork, and his 
ivory cot — those may pass ; but tell me if it is a sane 
thing for a young lady to bare her virgin bosom to a 
boy four years old, and invite him with tears in her 
eyes to take his nourishment from her? Look here, 
Kathleen — ' 

" ' Whose virgin bosom ? ' I cried, the blood rushing 
to my head: 'don't you dare insult my motherhood, 

'"Well, let that pass,' she said, turning pale with 
rage, 'let us admit that you are his mother: but why 
publish it so ? Wasn't it agreed between us that he 
should pass as your adopted child ? ' 

'"Well, isn't that what I tell everybody?' 


The Lost Viol 

" ' Yes, you tell them so ! but you take good care that 
they shall think you his real mother by your mysterious 
perks, and smiles, and hints, and fantastic carryings-on ! 
I never heard of such a thing! A lady of high birth 
going out of her way to fasten upon herself so awful a 
scandal — ' 

" ' Well,' I said, ' if they know that I am his mother, 
they will also know that Chris must be his father, so 
I don't care. I am quite reckless and happy now.' 

"She cast up her eyes and hands together, sighing, 
' But where is this grotesque frenzy to end ? As to the 
kittens and the flies — ' 

" ' I caught no less than five by one sweep of my hand 
across the table this afternoon,' I said, ' and he screamed 
with joy! My skill is now simply absolute, and he is 
conscious that no one in the world can really catch 
flies but his mama.' 

"'But for a girl of your attainments, Kathleen,' she 
said, 'to devote whole days to nothing but catching 

"'I am not a girl, Olivia,' I said, interrupting her, 
'I am a matron. Give the devil his due, and don't 
eat out your poor heart with envy.' 

"'//' she cried, 'if that's what it is to be a matron, 
let me be as I am, thank you ! Perhaps as an old maid 
I shall find some nobler occupation than catching 
flies. And I don't know if you think it is a good thing 
for that boy's character, Kathleen, to see half a dozen 
kittens drowned every morning of his life — ' 

[ 2G3 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"'They would be fillies instead of kittens/ I said, 
' if that pleased my little prince.' 

'"The supply would fall short of the demand,' she 
said spitefully, 'and even the kittens, happily, won't 
last, for lamentation and a voice in Orrock among cats 
can't go much farther now — ' In this way she kept 
on, harping on the same old strings, and I let her, for 
I really like it au fond. I left her to go to watch over 
his sleep : he is never quite so ravishing as when asleep. 
How I love him! Sometimes when I first wake in the 
mornings I have a sharp pang, a feeling that he is not 
really my child, but by noon I am sure of him, and 
toward evening I seem to remember the night of my 
pains when I travailed and bore him; then I rock my 
love in my arms, and pour the sweet tears over him, 
and ask him if he, too, remembers. God of Heaven, 
it is dear and holy to be a little mother, have mercy 
upon me, and forgive me. 

"I frightened him out of sleep at two this morning. 
I had a dream of some one who is dead, and started 
out of it screaming and sobbing for mercy; the three 
night lights were all burning: when I looked around 
there he was sitting up in his cot, staring at me." 



"Chris is back in Paris from Moscow," continued 
the quaint maid in July, " and makes the Opera-concert 
on Tuesday the excuse for not coming here at once. 
He can't say that I haven't been patient: but I won't 
wait indefinitely; I must have a father for my child, 
and if I can't get it by hints and sighs, I must get it 
by cries and insistence. It is two months now since 
he practically asked me to marry him — that was the 
only construction I could put upon his words; but he 
hasn't once shown his nose at Orrock, in spite of all 
his promises, since he first saw the child. His very 
offer of marriage may be mere words, words; not 
written for my sake, or even the child's, but to satisfy 
his French 'honor.' How I have longed and waited! 
It is scandalous that he doesn't hunger to see the 
child. What would happen to me, if I didn't see him 
for even an hour ? I suppose I should go into a fever. 
Promises are easily made, my Chris, but they have no 
weight, and weight is what your little hunchback wants 
to make her a sweet, humble little wife. There's one 
of my tenants on the further side of Shooen's Clause 
named Joan Speight who has seventeen sons, all with 
straight backs. That's the way, even if it racks you 


The Lost Viol 

to pieces. Let's be patriarchal: 'travaillez, mes 
fcmmesl' Sir C. W. is always,,' coming immediately'; 
but never comes! He writes to ask his own 'Viola,' 
' Will you marry me ? ' or something very like it ; ' Viola ' 
says, ' Yes : when ? ' and he answers, ' Immediately,' 
meaning fifteen years hence perhaps, if then; but it 
must be within three months, for the dangers of all 
sorts that will threaten me the moment some one 
comes out of prison are too awful to think of. He still 
thinks of his Hannah, ca se voit; speaks in his last 
letter of 'the extraordinary boldness of her statement 
that it was she who took the viol and trinkets out of 
his room, when she knew that she did not have them 
to produce, and when she knew that they were believed 
to have been taken by a thief. If this was lying, it 
was that most gallant style of lying which invites and 
defies disbelief.' 'If,' this was lying! Aren't we quite 
convinced, then, by her non-appearance to claim the 
child ? What an obstinate infatuation ! He wants to 
know if 'the poor woman' can't be found by me, in 
order to see whether she is in need of 'financial aid.' 
He is a divinely unconscious old Chris. Who doesn't 
know that Hannah Wilson is in prison ? But not he: 
his head is up in the clouds. The rest of his letter is 
mostly talk about the different schools, says that he is 
fast acquiring a degenerate weakness for Italian opera, 
Giardini, Viotti, sends his last orchestral suite and 
sonata, longs to be again accompanied by ' Viola,' and 
says that during the height of the fuss and lamentation 


The Lost Viol 

in Paris at the rumor of his death last month, he was 
abroad in the cafes with his friends, strangers speaking 
to him of his own death without recognizing him. I 
shall write immediately after the concert. . . ." 

"... Since he knows nothing about what has be- 
fallen Hannah, I wrote boldly yesterday to say that as 
he is causing me to suffer, and as it can only be Hannah 
who is at the bottom of his delay, my duty to my child 
has forced me to think of having Hannah punished by 
the law for her bigamy, unless something is done for 
my little one quickly. I wrote in quite a new tone, and 
I'll wait and see what effect this has upon him. . . ." 

"... Hannah has been seen in prison. Yesterday 
morning Olivia ran to me in the rockery in a state of 
excitement, saying that a woman named Harriet Davis, 
who went to London two years ago, got five months' 
imprisonment for neglect of her children, and has just 
come home again, was with Hannah in Wandsworth 
prison. We at once sent John packing to find and 
bring her, and in the afternoon had her by stealth a 
Ions: time in Olivia's boudoir. But she is known as a 
liar. She makes out that Hannah is quite a privileged 
person: had at first to wash clothes and scrub floors, 
but now is one of the nurses in the prison-infirmary; 
' almost fainted ' when she saw Harriet Davis. Harriet 
asked her, ' Are you guilty ? ' ' Miss Hannah ' an- 
swered, 'So they say.' One morning Miss Hannah hid 
the scrubbing-brush of another prisoner, 'just for a 
lark,' and the woman was going to beat Miss Hannah, 

[ 267 ] 

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but didn't after; another morning there was a riot, the 
women were going to set upon a wardress, if Miss 
Hannah hadn't quieted them; for two weeks Miss 
Hannah was in the infirmary ill. Livie and I sat with 
'our chins on our hands, listening to the string of 
incidents — half lies ; this is the same Harriet Davis 
that told Uncle Peter about a voice which said, 'Rest 
I cannot.' We gave her some money. ..." 

"... My threat to inform on Hannah's bigamy 
has drawn a quick reply from Chris. I knew that he 
would be horrified at me, but I mustn't mind that now. 
My dream of motherhood may be drawing toward its 
close, for when she comes out I shall have everything 
to fear with regard to the child at least, if I don't then 
belong to his father. Suppose he ever were taken 
from me ? I should be stripped of all, I should die of 
ignominy, I should be a maid again. I shall repeat 
my threat to Chris: he seems aghast at the notion of 
' that poor woman being sent to prison, . . .' " etc., etc. 



"... So I am to be an autumn bride!" she wrote 
later, " if I don't go wild beforehand. Livie says that 
I am ' cracked.' She cried on Thursday when she saw 
him on his little silver throne, looking every inch a 
monarch with his little scepter and crown, and his 
purple and ermine; I insisted upon her courtesying, 
while I knelt, and she burst into tears, saying that it 
was a shame to play such antics with a poor child. 
I don't care, I am quite reckless and happy, but for 
the physical pains. When I look round my life and 
see to what a height I have brought it, I repeat to 
myself, 'This is great Babylon which I have built.' 
Last night I was amusing myself with reading over one 
of the old volumes" (of her diary), "seven years old, 
written about that time when Uncle Peter was supposed 
to be dying, and some one ran over from Paris to see 
him. I was only twenty then, Chris was twenty-two, 
some one was twenty-one, Hannah was nearly twenty- 
five. How time flies! and changes us. I must have 
been a perfect little goose; the diary is full of laments 
over my sweating palms and agitations in Chris's 
presence. A shrinking little chrysalis I was, as unequal 
to the world as 'the rath primrose'; whatever was said 

[ 200 ] 

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had a pang in it for me; if I fancied that a tenant didn't 
treat me with homage on the road, I wrote it down, 
and suffered half the night. Now I am quite reckless 
and jolly: I want people to look upon me as a little 
mama, and to stand agaze at my adoration of my 
boy. But Olivia says that it is only another phase of 
the self-same sickness, and that ' Dir kannst du nicht 
entfliehen.' I don't know why she is so surly lately; 
she forgets that, in reality, she is only part of my 
establishment. At any rate, I have changed, I am no 
longer a muling failure, I have accomplished something, 
everything; with these hands I have built great Babylon, 
and there's a trick in Nature that was in league all the 
time with little me. Seven years ago my highest ambi- 
tion was to see some one take Chris from Hannah, and 
now, in a month's time, Chris is to be my own — 
husband! The quickness of the hand deceives the 
eye! Pick up your skirts, girls, and dance till you 
drop! There's a white dress making, and making for 
me; there's a plain gold ring forged somewhere, which 
is for me: its maker little thought, as he heated and 
polished it, that it was for me: but God thought, ' That 
one is for the little one.' Pity the pains are getting so 
bad: seven years ago I didn't have my left leg all in 
cotton wool. ..." 

"... Everything isn't quite smooth. Now comes 
the news that Willie Dawe tried to hang himself on 
the third evening after Hannah's trial, but was found 
and cut down just in time. While I was wondering 


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what had become of him, he was in hospital, and now, 
they say, is weak in the head. Why should he have 
hanged himself, when he had plenty of money to go 
on with? Heaven grant that he doesn't let out any- 
thing to anybody about me. Olivia says that his 
mother has written to him to come down, and I have 
no means to prevent his coming; but, if he dares blab 
anything, I shall have him charged and sent to Nor- 
wich. ..." 

"... I always love this time of the year; the leaves 
are beginning to fall fast, and sometimes in the early 
mornings there are meanings in the winds with which 
I am so akin, that I could faint for bliss. I wonder if 
any other soul is ever so pierced to the very quick by 
their bleakness ? It isn't over this earth alone that 
they sorrow to me, but over the despondence of moons 
that no glass ever spied. Like me they are forlorn, 
and they bear me echoes of wailings from worlds where 
I, too, once beat the breast by chill waters. It is when 
I hear them, and when I am weeping over my boy, 
that I am truly religious, truly pure in heart, and I 
worship, understanding that some day all my crooked- 
ness will surely be blotted out, and my sins will be 
remembered against me no more forever. ..." 

"... There have been two grand storms within 
three weeks, and from eveiywhere come lamentations 
of boats and houses and bits of coast-wall being washed 
away. Th;s is a tempestuous, wet place, and somehow 
the presence of the sea is in all our lives. Some day 


The Lost Viol 

perhaps the descendants of the hunchback won't have 
any Hill to call their own. But they say that the salt 
in the air is good for rheumatism, though I have had 
sea-baths all the summer, and am worse than ever for 
it. Dr. Williams says that is the continual crabs and 
lobsters, but it is no good, I can't give them up: I have 
tried, but 'Set a hunch to pick a hunch,' as ex-cook 
Bassett is said to have remarked. I am not going to 
break any habits now, I am twenty-seven, and perhaps 
in any case shan't live very long. 'Let us tax and 
stint and feed ourselves according to habit,' says Mon- 
taigne, and not try to be heroes. I am frail in every 
part, but do very well as I am without athletics. There 
was a man whom the Spanish Inquisition condemned 
to sleep on blunt spikes for fifteen years, and afterwards 
he couldn't sleep on anything else. To the average 
dormant person the familiar is better than the best, 
and so every one likes himself as he is. If I could 
only get the rheumatism and indigestion a little better 
before the wedding, I shouldn't mind. Ever since that 
last storm the pains have been sharper. That was an 
awful night for me. I can almost say that I saw 
Uncle Peter, though I can't swear that I was awake: 
but, if it was a dream, how vivid. I haven't written 
the details, and shan't now, it would make me ill. I 
woke up every one in the house; many a stronger 
woman would have died. They say that another 
storm is predicted by the coastguard next week. ..." 
", . .1 have advised Chris not to trouble himself 


The Lost Viol 

about any divorce from Hannah, however slight the 
trouble, since there is a law that after seven years of 
such a marriage one is free. He has never come 
across her, except that evening when she went to tell 
him about the loss of the child, and that doesn't count: 
only he and I know of it; it would be a far-fetched sort 
of law that could regard him as in any sense her hus- 
band now. He wishes, apparently, to be very punc- 
tilious, and is quite 'on his honor.' But what his 
'own friend' wants is his solid presence, and no more 
talk and delays. He is to be at Orrock, positively, on 
the 5th; on the 1st Olivia and I go to London for two 
days to see after everything, and will be back by the 
4th to receive him; the wedding on the 10th; Hannah 
comes out on the 27th, when I shall be in Italy. I 
spent the whole of this morning with Mr. Bretherton, 
talking of the two estates, and the settlement. ..." 

"... A long talk this morning " (seven days later) 
" with Chris in Orrock Park, and I am far from flattered, 
in spite of his anxiety to be polite. He forgets that I 
have a pair of sharp eyes, and can read him like a 
book. I can see that his main motive for marrying 
me in a hurry isn't love for me, nor even his 'honor' 
toward the little mother of his child, but my repeated 
threats to have ' that poor woman ' put into prison for 
her bigamy. If he only knew that I have done it, he 
wouldn't like me, I'm afraid. He may be making as 
great a sacrifice for Hannah now, if the truth were 
known, as she made for him when she married Willie 


The Lost Viol 

Dawe. I wonder if it is so ? If he really doesn't love 
me at all, there's plenty of poison in the house: I can 
take back the crooked back to Him that made it: 
perhaps He will comfort me and forgive me when no 
one else will. Anyway I feel that I shan't live long to 
strut in my Babylon; there's a pretty constant feeling 
now of something hanging over me, the fall of which 
will crush me. Some times in the mornings I can only 
lift my head by an effort, I am so weak and weary; 
and there's a crack running right through me somehow, 
which any shock might widen, and not one stone 
would be left on another. Perhaps it would be as 
well. C. W., too, is strangely grave: at some moments 
he looks quite broken-down and lost; then he will take 
my arm jauntily, and try to be boyish. If he doesn't 
love me really, I am sorry for him. Perhaps people 
who are not so accustomed to me as I am to myself 
see me in an uglier light: it may be so: may thunder 
crush me, if it is ! He has only kissed me on the cheeks, 
everything strictly French so far, and this forenoon in 
the park he ' good Godded ' me about Hannah. ' It is 
amazing,' he said, 'that a thought of harming that 
unfortunate woman could ever have entered your 
mind!' I answered, 'I believed that she was injuring 
me and my boy, Chris.' 'But good God!' he cried, 
'why do you seek to madden me? I haven't seen or 
heard of the woman since that night in my London 
chambers! And, in any case, where is your regard 
for me to think of casting into the common prison a 


The Lost Viol 

woman whom you know that I have already wronged 
and driven to despair?' 

" ' But don't be angry with me, Chris,' I said, ' I am 
not very well. I know that I have many faults, and 
have done many, many wrong things, but they have 
all been done through love of you — ' 

" ' Well, well,' he said, patting me. 

" ' Will you always remember that ? ' I said — 
'through love of you. Our parents made a compact 
before I was born that we should marry, and though 
some imp must have been grinning behind their backs, 
the compact somehow embodied itself with my embryo 
being. I worship you, Chris, and ask you to be kind 
to me while I live. I know that you don't love me — ' 

'"Mmm, I do, I do,' he said. 

'"Then, will you let me be with you after we are 
married ? ' 

"'With me! Where?' he asked, starting. 

"'Anywhere — wherever you are. Promise me at 
least that for six months of the year Chrisie and I may 
live with you. Look, he is bringing you flowers' — 
Chrisie was racing back to us with a lot of harebells 
and bachelor-buttons; his father patted his back 
absently, not thinking of him, saying, 'I am such a 
wanderer: if you came with me, you would be wretched, 
and I shouldn't be able to play, already I abhor — ' 

" ' On my account ? ' I asked quickly. 

" ' Oh, no, never think that, my own friend, just the 
contrary,' he said. ' But perhaps, if you will consider 


The Lost Viol 

Orrock your home, then I could pay you long and 
frequent visits — ' 

'Chris, you mean to be the death of me, I can 
see,' I said. 

"'Heavens!' he breathed, throwing up his eyes: 
'then, be with me, be with me.' 

" ' Is that a promise ? ' 

'"Yes, a promise.' 
'It mayn't be for long, Chris: I feel so frail lately.' 

" ' Mmm ' — with a pat. 
' My presence won't be irksome to you, Chris ? ' 

"'Not at all.' 
'And may I accompany you sometimes, Chris?' 

"'Not in public?' 

"'If I may. You know, Chris, that no one can 
really accompany you but me.' 

'"That's only the truth. You shall accompany me.' 

"'And Chris, will you love me just a little as your 
own little — Oh, pray ! say yes ! I know that I don't 
deserve it, but the great God makes his sun to shine 
upon the just and upon the unjust.' 

'I shall certainly love you,' he said with apparent 
sincerity, ' and at least take better care of you than of 
the first one.' Just then Chrisie fell flat in moss twenty 
yards ahead, and I ran down the avenue to him; when 
I next looked back there was Chris sitting on a tree- 
trunk, with his face buried in his arms. I don't know 
why he was like that on a sudden. ..." 

"... To-morrow evening is for the settlement of 


The Lost Viol 

the estates and signing the marriage-documents. C. W., 
like all Frenchmen, is a stickler for form and nicety in 
money-matters, and I am instructed to invite friends 
to 'assist' at the ceremony, French-fashion: so it will 
be rather a function. Mr. Bretherton writes that 
everything is drawn up and ready, and Olivia is in a 
state of palish excitement. So much for Babylon, and 
my little star. But one star isn't enough to make one 
happy somehow: perhaps one should be in league with 
all the stars. God help me. ..." etc., etc. 



On the seventh of that month (November), about 
nine in the evening, while the marriage documents were 
being read before some dozen people in the Hall library, 
Hannah, for her part, was sitting in the churchyard a 
mile away. On account of good behavior in her late 
trouble she had been let out a little before the term of 
her sentence, had now been at large over twenty-four 
hours, and, as the people in London had not been able 
to give her any news of her child, she had made up 
her mind to go down to Orrock, to face old Mr. Lang- 
ler, and to get some money for the further search, 
since her funds had run low. But, on going down, she 
shirked the shame of showing herself, shirked the 
questions, the eyes of awe and reproach, and went 
first to her old spot in St. Peter's churchyard, to rest 
and talk with herself. 

She was there from half-past seven to nine, sitting 
in wet grass, with squalls of drizzle beating upon her, 
for it was a rough night. She habitually treated in 
this amazingly reckless way that "health" which she 
considered divine: and, indeed, she was hardly ever 
unwell. That night, however, a dark fit was upon her 
— partly a reaction from her flush of freedom the day 


The Lost Viol 

before, partly a result of seeing round her the wreck of 
her goods. Her child was gone, her good name, her 
husband. She felt that to rebuild herself in England 
now was a hopeless matter, and meant when the child 
should be found, if ever, to fly to America, where she 
had some "friends." In this state of her affairs, she 
came to the Orrock grave to strew no flowers upon it 
as erewhile, but really to seek a sort of comfort from 
the dead, since among the living there was none. She 
made herself fancy that if Sir Peter were living, he, at 
least, would know her, would trust her soul, when her 
own father, mother, and every one were strangers to 
her. In her heart she called the old baronet " father," 
little dreaming how strictly true this was; she thought 
of the tender shyness with which he used to whisper 
at her ear, "Uglier than ever, I see," and this made 
her smile and moan: now, perhaps, hovering about 
her in the dark, or streaming upon the north wind's 
ravings, his spirit mourned of her, "Prettier than 
ever." She was somehow sure of his nearness and of 
his sympathy, and thinking still of him, recalling his 
ways and words, tears of love wet her eyes. 

But even the old grave failed her that night: "East 
railings," she wrote of it, "standing on nothing, gone 
askew, only held up by horizontal bar; east half of 
slab hanging over nothing. Made me feel really 
homeless, a stranger, as if nothing solid was left. The 
whole coast transformed: old St. Cuthbert's tower 
perhaps five feet nearer cliff-edge, three yards gone 


The Lost Viol 

from east end of Mailing's Lane, sea roaring in great 
breakers under spots where I have planted flowers 
when a girl; enough to make the geese and cows cry: 
hungry wash of the sea ever ravening with rough 
shout to wreck and bereave. ' Oh, earth, what changes 
hast thou seen!' Must have been some awful storms 
while in prison: fifteen of graves clean gone from St. 
Peter's ; no longer the same place. ' Here have we no 
continuing city'; 'all flows,' changes; but thought to 
myself, ' the fleece of Gideon at least remains dry,' 
the mind 'invincible': 'therefore will not we fear 
though the earth be removed, and though the moun- 
tains be carried into the midst of the sea.' Things 
were pretty cruel, none on earth that I could really 
tell my heart to, the very night unpitiful, not a star, 
moon, nor light over sea, gusts coming shaky from 
northeast like flapping sails, no one in wide world, 
only me, the lighthouse, and the dead, old landmarks 
gone; but still something left inside, one last Gibraltar, 
and good old whisper, 'The mountains shall depart 
and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not 
depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My 
peace be removed.' Through it all, felt strong cu- 
riosity to see his coffin, if visible; went to edge at last, 
and, clinging underneath to railings, poked head up 
between railings and slab, climbed on to slab, and lay 
on it, gazing down over east edge. Eyes could just 
guess out either three or four coffin-ends, five to seven 
feet down. Hoped eyes would get used to darkness, 

[281 ] 

The Lost Viol 

and lay on face perhaps twenty minutes, but still 
couldn't make out anything. Lighthouse beam in 
passing didn't lighten even a little the murk under 
there, and at last something creepy said, 'Suppose 
slab tips over with you,' so was off quicker than I 
went on. 

But no sooner out in the grass again, than I felt 
myself bested, and thought of climbing down to see; 
the cliff-face now lay about half way between flat and 
steep up above, then twenty-five feet down came a 
ledge, then another, after which cliff-face went down 
steep; could see ledges and state of cliff -face during 
passage of lighthouse beam: cliff -face all white, rough 
chalk, not polished and hard and discolored as it soon 
becomes, so landslip couldn't have taken place more 
than a week or two before; a Y-shaped cake had been 
taken off cliff from top to bottom, leaving plenty of 
rough footway up above. Peered along edge, till I 
came to likely spot about ten feet south of Orrock 
grave; as I stood there, something said, 'Better not try 
it': wouldn't listen: but the moment foot was over 
edge, my heart leapt into my mouth; if I hadn't been 
a coward should have turned back, but afraid of being 
called a coward by myself, so went on — a coward 
either way. Crept northward and downward toward 
Orrock coffins, wary step by wary step, clinging on 
with hands, wind blowing clothes about, white as a 
sheet, if truth were known, and every instant getting 
more miserably jumpy. ' Go back!' said reason to will; 


The Lost Viol 

no go: will deaf and blind. In daytime should have 
felt quite safe, have done worse bits in Switzerland, 
but up another street at dark night — with fifty feet 
below. Was actually among Orroek coffins when foot 
slipped — or I fancied so, and utterly lost nerve ; once 
a woman always a woman : caught wildly at coffin just 
above head, caught something, didn't quite know what, 
something pretty rotten which gave way, and next 
moment had said my prayers and gone tumbling. 
Whole rain of things seemed to come with me — had 
that fancy — like a thousand of bricks. Had caught 
inside coffin-rim, where lid may have subsided, or else 
by a handle, and so broken coffin. Didn't fall far, 
perhaps twelve, fifteen feet, to first ledge, and there 
lay feeling wronged, like child with cut finger, my 
hands bruised, face hot, dignity outraged; think I lost 
consciousness for some minutes, not sure. Ledge five 
feet wide, happily lower at inner edge than outer. 
Sat wondering how on earth I was to get back up, 
absolutely hadn't the nerve to climb; put out my hand 
to collect my dress, and touched tibia of leg — not yet 
bare! caught back hand and touched something cold 
lying on dress — man's watch and chain: seemed to 
be the one I had taken from Chris; I felt it all over, 
it certainly seemed to be no other; thought I must be 
stunned and dreaming, but the same twisted links, 
elephant guard, covered watch — the very same; was 
pretty scared: even in blessing, the Hand of God 
terrible; never was afraid of ghosts in my life, but was 

[ 283 1 

The Lost Viol 

then, badly; seemed to stand face to face with that 
which cannot be named for excessive greatness, and 
the wind spoke monstrously to me with human tongue; 
didn't see Sir Peter, but nearly did, waited, with my 
hair rising, on the very point of seeing him, breathing 
his name; at same time lighthouse-beam swept over 
shiny thing lying on ledge two yards away, the viol: 
couldn't doubt it the same — no neck, elaborate deco- 
ration all over back and belly, sloping shoulders, 
straight sound-holes long way from purfling — the very 
same. Understood that they had been buried with 
Sir Peter: and how awful! couldn't help crying after 
I had got over ungrateful terrors. Looked about for 
cardboard box and ring and brush, but couldn't find: 
box may have got blown away. 

"No difficulty now about getting back up to top: 
for state of the mind everything, and he that has faith, 
i. e., tip-top spirits inside, shall say to mountain, ' Be 
thou removed.' Couldn't very well take up viol with 
me, started up without, but after some feet up, went 
back, tore petticoat into strips, tied string round side- 
grooves, and climbed with end of string between teeth. 
Got up all right to coffins, stopped and had a look, 
heart beating foolishly again, one of them all broken, 
and — no tibias ! Climbed twelve more feet to top 
and drew up viol, which came bumping vocally, that 
old salt-seasoned pine belly and chrysolite varnish still 
sound as a nut. Didn't stop to worry about how it 
had got into coffin : a haste to lay it before Chris within 


The Lost Viol 

forty-eight hours had me ; thought he was on Continent, 
and made up my mind not to show face at Woodside, 
but to go and ask Bentley at Hall where he was, and 
start off straight to him. Wanted to run, but wouldn't; 
walked slowly. Heard something knocking about in- 
side viol, stopped under lamp in Woodside Lane, and 
picked out through sound-holes with hatpin two folded 
parchments, copies of each other apparently; saw my 
name all about; they seemed to be will of Sir Peter: 
understood that in that case I must have offended 
some one, though always thought every one sweet on 
me, the old self-conceit wrong again. Went on past 
Woodside, Rover howling piteously after me (chained 
up) ; might have stopped, for not a soul anywhere about, 
but didn't; passed down and on to Brookend, where I 
washed hands, then through Orrock gates, and by 
south side made for second inner courtyard, hoping to 
meet either Bentley or Mrs. Dene on the quiet, when 
I saw library lighted up. ..." etc., etc. 



On a sudden Hannah, with a wet face and looking 
bedraggled, was standing in a corner of the library 
with the group of people who were taking part in the 
rite of settlement; Chris and Kathleen were seated at 
opposite sides of a table, the others seated round it. 
Though six crowds of candles hung in a row from the 
ceiling, their light was somehow local about the chan- 
deliers, and still left a gloom in that old hall; extra 
candles in smooth old candlesticks were on the table, 
which reflected their light in its surface; the little 
crowd of people who were gathered round the table 
with the candlesticks on it looked lonely and local in 
the bigness of the place; a butler and a footman in 
yellow stockings hung mutely upon the scene; all were 
more or less mute and stiff; Chris Wilson had the smile 
of a saint who is being led to the stake. 

" I didn't know that visitors were here," said Hannah 
to him, "I saw your back through the little courtyard 

Chris leapt to his feet with the whisper, "What is 

"I'll wait till another time," said Hannah: "good 
evening, Kathleen, how are you, Mrs. Horsnel — ?" 


The Lost Viol 

She was stopped by Chris pointing and crying out, 
" But isn't that my viol di Gamba ? " 

"Yes, then," said Hannah, "you may as well hear 
now before everybody. Some one in the Hall wished 
me ill six years ago, and hid the things which I took 
from your rooms. Here is the watch and chain, too. 
Can't find the ring and nail-brush. They were buried 
in Sir Peter's coffin, and the sea has rendered them 
back to me, the hammers of God, pounding doggedly 
— . Ah, don't mind my weakness — it seems a pretty 
dreadful thing, and I'm only just out of prison — " 

"Prison!" breathed Chris, his mind flitting help- 
lessly from one astonishment to another. 

" Oh, you didn't know," said Hannah. 

" You out of prison ? " cried Chris with a flush of 
anger on his brow, " then, why am I going through — 
What dreadful thing is this, my friends ? " 

"Nothing very dreadful about it," said Hannah, 
drying her eyes, with a broken laugh : " everything nice 
and clean, and all found. Nothing is dreadful, except 
— one thing. But how came you not to know, when 
everybody must know?" 

" I seem to have been the victim of some conspiracy ! 
You must all be seeking to drive me mad! Bentley, 
why have I never been told that this lady was in such 
a case r 

"First of all, Sir Chris," said old Bentley, "I as- 
sumed that you knew; secondly, I had instructions not 
to grieve you by referring to the matter." 


The Lost Viol 

" Instructions ! But from whom ? " 

"Oh, don't trouble about that now," said Hannah. 
" Look here ; I found these two parchments inside the 

A guttural voice stopped her with the words, "It is 
all a lie" 

All eyes had been mostly fixed upon Hannah, but 
now turned to Kathleen, decked that night in many 
jewels and flowers; they beheld her standing up, 
leaning forward, her right palm pressed upon the table, 
her left pressed against her left temple, as though there 
was pain there, her eyes staring toward Hannah, yet 
not somehow at Hannah, but at something, it seemed, 
beyond; when she said in that strange, low voice, "It 
is all a lie," every one was hushed: two or three glanced 
behind Hannah to see whom the little maid was talking 
to; but before any one could say anything, Hannah's 
little boy, dressed in black velvet and gold, ran toward 
the table out of a recess where he had been playing 
with one of his nurses: he was running to Kathleen, 
but catching sight of Hannah, stopped midway between 
his two mamas, both of whom he loved very much, 
staring from one to the other, while his father looked 
to see what he would do, and his mother's eyes danced 
merrily at him; and presently, as his memory more 
awake, he moved toward Hannah, took hold of her 
skirt, and, with his head thrown back, murmured half 
to himself, "Mama." Hannah just rumpled his 
hair, and pinched his cheek. 'There he was again," 


The Lost Viol 

she wrote of him afterwards, "like a bad penny, 
prodigal son come home weary of the world." She 
did not kiss him before the crowd. 

" So, Chris," she began to say, " you had my child — " 
but was interrupted by a cry from Chris and from all, 
for the little maid had fallen forward over the table, 
and at once the rather stiff gathering which Hannah 
had startled became a noise of tongues. "She has 
fainted!" "It is a stroke!" "Some water quickly!" 
" Make room — let me hold her head back! " " Quickly, 
Thomas, Dr. Williams ! " — every one was moving, 
crowding, crying out something, while Chris, whom 
the sight of suffering always pierced to the quick, 
rushed from place to place, calling out what no one 
heard. In the midst of it Hannah said to Mr. Millings 
and the butler, "You two take her up," and soon the 
little maid was being borne away; but when she strug- 
gled midway, Hannah took her from the men to her 
shoulder, and ran up the lobby-stairs, the little boy 
still clinging to her skirt, the crowd following. Above, 
Hannah went into her old room whence the viol and 
box had been stolen, and shut out every one, except 
the boy and Mrs. Dene, with whose help she undid 
Kathleen's clothes, wet her brow, lit a lamp, did all 
that a nurse could, awaiting the doctor, then lay on 
the bed, almost over the dying girl, whispering at one 
moment of the gospel, and at the next pleading with 
Kathleen to make an effort, and not die. Presently 
Kathleen, who was breathing hard in the strait and 


The Lost Viol 

article of death, said in a gross voice, "1 buried the 
things." 'Yes, yes," said Hannah, "but make an 
effort, will you ? Summon all your powers — " "7 
stole him from your room," said Kathleen with fixed 
eyes. 'Yes," said Hannah, weeping, "but Jesus 
cares nothing about that." Presently again Kathleen 
said in a feebler voice, "I was his little mother" 
sinking every moment. ' Were you ? " said Hannah, 
"and you always shall be, I promise you that; here he 
is, if you will only live; it is a question of will, just say, 
' I won't die, life is mine ' — Oh ! if I could do it for 
you!" "Too late," said Kathleen, "my will is weak- 
ened." She smiled in saying this, and laid her right 
hand on Hannah's arm: it was like a caress. A 
minute later she reared, fell back, and the room was 
suddenly still and rid of her death-rattle, as when a 
clock stops, and a death stillness is heard where a 
ticking was heard. Hannah's fingers shut down the 
lids over the sightlessness of the beautiful eyes. 

As she was getting down from the bed, a tap was 
heard, and the voice of Chris, calling, "Mayn't one 
come in ? " 

' Tell him I'm gone to London," whispered Hannah 
quickly to Mrs. Dene, catching up the child, and 
hurrying away through a side door. 

'You can come in," said Mrs. Dene to those at the 
door: "the doctor will arrive too late." 

Some of them went in, and looked at the still face 
on the bed. Chris, who could not stand such sights, 

[291 ] 

The Lost Viol 

just glanced round the room, and asked, "Where is 
Lady Wilson?" 

"She is gone to London," said Mrs. Dene. 

Chris looked dumfounded. He hurried down again 
to the library, gazed at the viol and watch and chain, 
read the will, which Hannah had left on the table. 
No one was there. For some time he sat with his head 
buried in his arms. Then he rang for old Bentley. 

"You know, Bentley," he said in a low voice, "that 
Lady Wilson contracted a second marriage?" 

"Yes, Sir Chris: hence her imprisonment." 

" What on earth was her reason, my friend ? " 

" I have no idea: all the world has been amazed at it." 

" Can you remember the man's name ? " 

" William Dawe, Sir Chris." 

"That's the name! Now, how could this man be 
found, Bentley ? " 

"Why, he is at present living with his mother at 
Woodside, within a mile and a half of the Hall, Sir 
Chris: he attempted suicide after the conviction of 
Lady Wilson, but was saved, though they say he's 
rather weak in the head now." 

"Could you contrive to have him here to-night?" 

"I think so, Sir Chris." 

"Try, then, quickly, will you? Go yourself in a 

Old Bentley hobbled off at his fastest gait; and Chris 
paced the library with quick steps, till in half an hour 
Willie Dawe, looking scared, was before him. 


The Lost Viol 

"Now, tell me, my friend," said Chris: "how many 
children do you say that Lady Wilson has had ? " 

" Only one, sir," answered Willie. 

" But since I am the father of that one, why did you 
tell me that you were ? " 

" Miss Sheridan told me to say so, sir, begging your 

" Well, let that pass. But might you ever have been 
the father of a child of Lady Wilson ? " 

"Oh, God help us! Miss Hannah, sir?" 

"I am sure that you tell the truth. But why on 
earth, then, did she go through a form of marriage 
with you ? " 

"As far as I could make it out, sir, she did it for 
your good." 

" Mine ! But in what possible way ? " 

"She heard that you were going to get married in 
France, sir, and was afraid that you'd get taken up 
for bigamy, unless she got married first." 

At this Chris gazed at Willie Dawe without saying 
anything, then began to pace the library quickly with 
a flushed brow, till, dropping into a chair, he said to 
himself, "But it is pitiful," and buried away his face, 
shedding tears. 

Presently he sprang up, saying, "Bentley! is it true 
that Lady Wilson is gone to London ? " 

"I heard Mrs. Dene say so, Sir Chris." 

" But what for, my friend ? " 

"I have no idea, Sir Chris." 

[ 203 ] 

The Lost Viol 

" But where is she to be found ? You, Dawe, do 
you know her address in London ? " 

Willie Dawe gave the Guilford Street address. 

"Bentley," said Chris, "tell Grimani that I start 
for London at once, and find out for me the hour of 
the next train." 

By 10.15 Chris and his valet were in a train, London 



Near 1 a. m. Chris was knocking up the house in 
Guilford Street; and presently Mrs. Reid, the landlady, 
appeared in little more than a shawl. 

" I am sorry to have had to disturb you," said Chris, 
" but my business is most urgent. Is Lady Wilson 
here ? " 

'There never was any Lady Wilson, sir; there's a 

" It's the same. Is she not here ? Don't say 

" She was here earlier in the night, but she's gone to 

"France! What for?" 

"That's more than I can tell you." 

" But it is impossible for her to have gone to France 
to-night, since she was in Norfolk at 9.30." 

'That's what she told me: that she was going to 
France at once." 

"And she left no address?" 

"Yes, she did." 

"Ah, good news." 

"She said that if any one called, I was to give him 
an address which she wrote." 

[ 295 ] 

The Lost Viol 

" Good news. So that was why she came to you ? " 

"Yes, and to get me to cash a check for her. I'll 
run and get the address." 

Mrs. Reid soon returned with a piece of paper on 
which was written, "Hannah Wilson, chez Madame 
Brault, 14 rue Boissy d'Anglas." Chris, looking at 
the writing, wondered why it struck some fond chord 
in his soul: it was because it was "Viola's" writing; 
but he was as when one recognizes a face, yet forgets 
where one saw it. 

'This will do excellently," said he; "thank you very 

He then drove to Gray's Inn; paced his sitting-room 
in a heat for the morning to come; slept for some time 
on a couch; and by the first train was off to France. 
By 5.30 p. m. he was on a fifth floor in the rue Boissy 
d'Anglas, at that door of Madame Brault's to which 
the quaint maid had once come from Chateaubrun, 
in order to tell Hannah that Chris was going to marry 
Yvonne de Pencharry-Strannik. 

" Is Madame Wilson here ? " he asked of the pension- 

"No, sir, not here." 

" Is she expected ? " 

" Not that I know, sir. I'll ask." 

It turned out that Hannah was not even expected, 
and Chris drove away in very low spirits. Stopping 
his carriage at the first post-office, he sent a telegram 
to one Rowland- Jones of Cavendish Square, London, 


The Lost Viol 

saying, "Am in the greatest trouble. Pray come at 
once to me in rue de Rome." 

He passed a wretched night, seeing no one; but 
when he opened his eyes the next morning, there was 
Rowland- Jones, a naval officer, a man of square brow 
and strong eye, at his bedside. 

" Oh, thank Heaven, here you are, Jack ! How splen- 
did of you," said Chris; "now I am safe"; and he 
poured out the whole story of Hannah to Jack. 

"But where's the trouble?" asked Jack: "how 
could you expect to find her in Paris at five yesterday 
when she couldn't possibly have left London the night 
before ? " 

" I had forgotten that," said Chris meekly. 

"She's probably now at the rue Boissy d'Anglas," 
said Jack: "heave your old carcase overboard that 
dream-ship, and let us be there before she goes out." 

" Had any breakfast ? " 

"No, and no particular appetite: I am in love with 
your wife, Chris." 

"Isn't she splendid!" 

"There seem to be other sorts of music than the 
'octave and perfect cadence,' Chris." 

"I shall have her to-day, Jack!" 

" Perhaps : and she you to-morrow. Look alive now." 

" Grimani!" shouted Chris, hastening out of bed, 
and before long the two friends were driving to the 
rue Boissy d'Anglas. At Madame Brault's Chris 
asked if Madame Wilson was come. 


The Lost Viol 

" Come and gone, sir," was the answer. 


"She arrived at nine last night, sir, slept here, and 
went away this morning at half-past seven." 

"What is one to do, my friend?" said Chris, half 
crying, to Rowland-Jones. 

" Did she leave no address ? " asked Rowland- Jones. 

"An address in Normandy, sir, for letters to be sent." 

"Let us have that address." 

"She did not leave it to be given to any one, sir." 

"Oh, but we are exceptions," said Rowland- Jones: 
and a battle began between him and the boy, ending 
in a British victory at a cost of ten francs. Hannah 
had left the address, "Villa des Lilas, St. Pierre-les- 
Elbeuf, Normandy." 

"We must be after her instantly," said Rowland- 
Jones, as they stepped into the carriage. 

" But we have had nothing to eat ! " said Chris. 

"We must eat train food." 

" Let's stop and wire to Grimani to follow with — " 

" Ah, let's not mind about Grimani ; we mustn't lose 
an instant: I'll tell you why presently." 

But at the Gare St. Lazare they had to wait ten 
minutes for a train, and during that time Chris wired 
to Grimani to follow with the fiddles and mute. They 
then set out. 

"Look here, Chris," said Rowland- Jones over 
breakfast in the train: "one of two things, either she 
doesn't want you — " 

[ 298 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"But can any love be like hers for me?" groaned 

" You are thinking of five years ago, Chris ; five years is 
more than a lustrum in the story of a woman's heart — " 

"Oh, she despises women." 

" But we only despise what we are in peril of resem- 
bling, lad. We worship the cow, but scorn the coward. 
Lady Wilson, be sure, is dimly conscious of her nether 
half, which duly exists. Let's be in no doubt as to 
her sex, Chris. Either she doesn't want you, or — 
she's playing a game: quite possibly the latter. Why 
else should she scurry through Normandy, spend one 
night in Paris, and then be off to Normandy again in 
this way ? I'll bet that the woman is only playing 
tit for tat; you once ran away from her, and she says, 
' Now it is my turn, let him catch me, if he really wants 
me.' It's feminine because simple. Women, of course 
are just so elementary as the mastodon. I hope that 
I am right in this case. If so, our plan is to catch her 
quickly — to pounce upon her by mere grimness of 
forced marches, or she'll lead us a dance over half the 
globe, until funds fail her." 

"It is cruel, my friend," said Chris. 

"It is anything but amusing: and it would be no 
use our sitting down somewhere, waiting for her to 
relent and turn up of her own accord. She evidently 
means to be won by eagerness and strategy, and will 
never give herself. Ah, I'd rather like to have the 
permanent handling of this particular gamy lass." 


The Lost Viol 

"My dear Jack, don't desire my wife." 
"Oh, after you Chris: gamy and bigamy are unre- 
lated, to say nothing of trigamy. We'll soon see what 
Elbeuf has in store — " 

Ninety minutes from Paris they arrived at Elbeuf, 
got a trap, and drove two miles to St. Pierre, to find 
the Villa des Lilas on the top of a hill in the middle 
of pine forests. But Hannah was not there. " Madame 
Wilson," said the proprietress, "after an hour's stay, 
left for Gournay-en-Brey, messieurs " : and to Gournay- 
en-Brey the two friends hastened. 



At the end of three days' hunt after the flights and 
dodges of "an Englishwoman in blue nurse's costume 
with a child," Chris gave up, saying: 

"I can't Jack — I must have a decent night's rest — 
I am utterly done for with the damned trains — I am 
not made for this kind of work — " and he threw himself 
down wearily. They were now at an old inn in the 
romantic country round Domfront, in William-the- 
Conqueror land. They had just been told that Hannah 
was no longer at the inn. It was about nine in the 

" But doesn't she ever sleep ? " asked Rowland- Jones: 
"she must have the strength of three mules; and that 
boy with her — how on earth does she do it ? She 
must have reared him on lioness-milk, the splendid 

"I, for my part, couldn't keep it up to-night, my 
friend," said Chris. "To-morrow morning we will 
resume operations — " 

'That's as you like, Chris, but never say that Jack 
Rowland-Jones was beaten by this lady. J am pre- 
pared to go on now, and to go on till I am no more; 
give me carte blanche to act alone, and I even say that 


The Lost Viol 

I shall have her here within twenty-four hours, if she 
have the cunning of the devil and the vigor of a cart- 

"Do so, if you like," said Chris; "but when are they 
going to bring us something to eat — ? " 

" Just get up now, and write me an authorization to 
act for you," said Rowland-Jones. 

Chris got up, and was in the act of writing out a 
statement that Mr. Rowland-Jones was his friend, 
when from behind the old wainscoting was heard the 
call, "Papa!" and he leapt to his feet. 

"That your child's voice?" asked Rowland- Jones 

"I think so!" 

Rowland-Jones darted to one of the two doors, only 
to find it locked, caught up his hat, and rushed out 
of the other. Though solidly built and of a certain 
age, he was nimble, and could run. 

Chris awaited his return eagerly. But he had to 
eat his meal alone, for Rowland-Jones did not come. 
He sat, nodding with sleep, till one o'clock, but his 
friend did not appear. 

All the next day Rowland-Jones did not come. 
Chris was like a lost man: had no idea what to do 
now, did not know where Grimani was, had no fiddles: 
he could only stroll about and moon, with a forlorn 
movement of the eyebrow. 

And like that first day a second passed. Chris was 
now in purgatory. But on the third morning he re- 


The Lost Viol 

ceived three letters: one was from his friend, and this 
he tore open first. It told of Rowland-Jones's adven- 
tures during the past two days, and of his failure to 
catch Lady Wilson. "I actually saw her," he wrote, 
"at the station at Bayeux. As I rushed upon the 
platform, I distinctly caught sight of her head in the 
velvet bonnet looking out eagerly of a window of the 
train. She drew in at sight of me. The train was 
already moving; and I just had time to pitch into the 
nearest compartment, without a ticket. I felt that I 
had her safe now : we were in the same train — a 
through train to St. Lo. Imagine my disgust on 
reaching St. Lo. to find that she wasn't in the train. 
I can only conclude that, as a signal was against us at 
one place, she must have leapt upon the metals on the 
off-side when the train stopped. That's the only 
hypothesis: the night was dark. I'm sure I don't know 
what to do next: she is quite lost, ..." etc. 

Having read this Chris tore open the second letter: 
the handwriting struck him as familiar: he glanced 
first to the bottom, and saw — " Viola " ! 

" Beloved," he read, " it is a long time since I have 
written you. There have been reasons, apart from 
the fact that it is you who owe me a letter. But let 
there be no more letter- writing between us henceforth: 
for the long-loved day will have come, even as you 
read this, when Viola will be ready to leave all to be 
with you. Meet me, then, at the Gare St. Lazare 
to-morrow at 2.15 p. m., under the clock. I shall have 

[ 308 | 

The Lost Viol 

in my hand the gift beyond price which I have so long 
promised you. „ Yours m ^^ 


Chris was so accustomed to the notion of "Viola" 
knowing of his doings in mysterious ways that he hardly 
asked himself how she could know of his stay in that 
little inn. He had again the old thrill on reading her 
letter. Already he had guessed that the quaint maid 
could not have been "Viola," and here was the real 
"Viola," the romantic, the high-minded, about to show 
herself, to give herself, at last. He was all at once 
eager to set out, curious to see her, to see her gift. 
But into his eagerness stole an awkward thought of 
Hannah. That Hannah might be "Viola" never en- 
tered his head; if for no other reason, because the 
Hannah whom he had married at Orrock couldn't 
play the violin. 

He was so flushed by Viola's letter, that he hardly 
had the patience to open the third letter: he did so, 
however, glanced at the bottom, and saw — " Hannah " ! 

Hannah had written this letter in a round hand very 
different from "Viola's," and she said: 

"Dear Chris: 

"If you really wish to see me, I shall be on the 
sea-cliffs above Barc-la-Foret to-morrow at 2 p. m. 
sharp. Barc-la-Foret is a village two miles north of 


The Lost Viol 

Coutances. I hope your friend, Mr. Rowland-Jones, 

continues well ? ,,,. .. 

Your wife, 

" Hannah." 

On reading this, Chris was in the greatest joy and 
the greatest trouble at the same time. One of two 
ladies, he felt with bitterness, would wait in vain for 
his coming that day: for he could not be at the coast 
to meet Hannah at 2 p. m. and in Paris to meet " Viola " 
at 2.15. He must therefore choose between them the 
one that he liked the best; and he was so torn by this 
trial, that, at one time, pacing about the old flagstones 
of the inn-kitchen, he threw his arms up, crying out 
that all the world must be in a conspiracy to drive him 

However, he had to make up his mind, so, having 
sent a telegram to Rowland-Jones where to join him, 
by 1 o'clock, an hour too soon, he was walking about 
the sea-cliffs above Barc-la-Foret. In the village itself 
a fete was going on, and very faint tones of music 
were caught by his ear among the noises of the wind. 
It was a boisterous day, but very bright and warm for 
that time of year. The ground up there was hard, 
grown in patches with grass and scrub; and pretty far 
away down below was the sea, a lovely sight, as it 
were a very great host jogging northeastward on a gay 
pilgrimage. Chris had to hold on his hat against the 
puffs of the wind, and presently, tired of its power 
over him, he lay with his back to a rock, gazing up at 


The Lost Viol 

the clouds and blue of the sky: all was large-minded 
beyond wonder — the sky, the sea, the earth — the 
whole a-move as at some heyday and fair, and soon he 
had a feeling that the pillars of all that Walhalla tot- 
tered upon him, that the very cliff under him was 
adrift with the rest of the dream-stuff and pageant; 
his spirit seemed to swoon into that awful revelry of 
the Most High; he became It; and no longer knew if 
he was on his head or on his heels. Scrambling in a 
scare to his feet, he walked about again with the winds 
in his ears, eager to hold Hannah in his arms, but 
grieved to the heart, too, for "Viola." It was % 
o'clock. At that hour "Viola," he thought, was 
already perhaps on her way to the Gare St. Lazare, 
and she would be waiting for him in vain, with the 
gift in her hand, she who had for two years been his 
spiritual wife, to whom he had sworn many oaths of 
love. There, however, was Hannah coming up over 
the bend of the hill, with her legs expressed, and her 
face held sideward to it, as when a lady is shy, and 
blushes; and in her hand was the little boy's. Chris 
hurried to meet her. 

" Oh, you did come," she said laughing. 

" Is it surprising ? " he asked. 

" It is, a little. What about " Viola ' ? Did you send 
any one to meet her?" 

" I had no one to send. How on earth do you know 
about 'Viola'?" 

"I know very well. If you had gone to meet her 


The Lost Viol 

instead of me, you wouldn't have met her, and you 
wouldn't have seen me for another year." 

'Why would I not have met her? Hannah! Are 
you 'Viola'?" 

"You would have known it, if you had known the 
handwriting and mind of your wife, as a man should. 
As for the gift, I'm afraid it's a little stale to you now, 
but here it is, such as he is. See, I give him a kiss to 
give to you." 

Chris took the boy to his breast, saying, " I love him 
almost as much as I worship his dear, dear mother." 

" You do love me now ? " 

" Oh, Hannah." 

"Well, it's nice to hear. Tell it me once secretly 
in my ear out here on this lonely hill, so that even our 
child mayn't hear, and then I'll never forget." 

'With a joy as deep as being," whispered Chris, 
"with a most fresh and wonderful ravishment." 

" All right, that'll keep Hannah going for some years, 
like everlasting bread to feed upon in the heart by 
faith. Here's my hand, Chris, ' with my heart in it.' " 

Chris took and kissed the hand, and was about to 
kiss more, when Hannah said, " ZooA\" and he saw 
Rowland-Jones and Grimani coming along the cliffs 
from the north. 

'That man and I will remember each other," said 
Hannah, with fun in the corners of her mouth. 

"Lady Wilson, I think?" said Rowland- Jones when 
he came up. 

[ 307 ] 

The Lost Viol 

"Mr. Rowland- Jones ? " said Hannah with a grave 
face : " surely we have seen each other before ? " 

"I have had the honor of seeing part of your lady- 
ship," said Rowland- Jones demurely. 

"And not the best part either, I think!" cried 
Hannah: "I am strongest about the feet!" 

" I kiss them with sincerity," said Rowland- Jones. 

"Well, no, don't take it so abjectly," said Hannah: 
" it was only a chance — if I hadn't beaten you, you 
would have beaten me. I happened to overhear you 
in the inn at Domfront when you vowed to Chris that 
you would catch me or perish, so thought to myself, 
' Well, then, now for it.' But it was only a chance — 
My husband's two best friends are equals, and can 
shake hands." 

A hearty handshake was exchanged, and they went 
down the hill, till they came to the village fete, where 
all kinds of merriment were on foot; and here it came 
into Chris's head to give himself to Barc-la-Foret that 
one day in Time, and play. He had not handled a 
fiddle for days, and the spirit came upon him. He 
caught his Bergonzi from Grimani, and struck in with 
the other fiddles on the green, nor was it long before 
he alone was playing. Never was the ear of Barc-la- 
Foret tickled by the gospel of such a mirth; every one 
forsook all else, and crowded to jig round the frivolous 
seraph dropped down among them, wondering that 
out of that staid monsieur such riches of fun should 
gush : there he stood — stout, respectable — in his 


The Lost Viol 

frock-coat and top-hat; the top-hat, however, was 
rather cocked back, one leg cocked forward, and, if 
one looked closely, there was a certain butting and 
instigation of his brow which was in the very spirit 
of revel and godless company. They all came and 
jigged, Hannah jigging with Rowland-Jones, till he 
was out of breath, then with the village-lads, then 
with Rowland-Jones again, letting slip side-glances at 
Chris, her legs plying in a stubbornness of glee, an- 
swering still to the unrelenting spur of his joy, while 
still the brook of his improvization flowed on, and the 
dancing grew ever larger and crazier round the giggle 
of his G and the skittishness of his tittering chanterelle. 
It was near five o'clock when he tossed the fiddle to 
Grimani, smiled with Hannah, and said to Rowland- 
Jones, "I am hungry, my friend." 

They three, with Chrisie and Grimani, then drove in 
a cart to high-set Coutances, dined there, and went on 
to Caen, from which Rowland-Jones took train to 
Ouistreham, the port of Caen, so as to get back to 
England; while Chris and Hannah went to Rouen; 
from Rouen they started the next day for Orrock. 


[ S09 ] 


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