PR 6037 H524 L6 1905
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO
3 1822 01232 3564
M. P. $HIEL
; A N DIEGO
PR 6037 H524 L6 1905
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEM
3 1822 01232 3564
.ONDON BOOK CO.
224 W. Broadway
THE LOST VIOL
iM M uuf w a ii mm i na iBiiiii
The Lost Viol
BY M. P. SHIEL
Edward J. Clode
Publisher, New York
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
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
"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
The Lost Viol
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
" 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
The Lost Viol
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
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,
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
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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
"The same, sir," answered Chris.
" Well, what do you want now, sir ? "
"Absolutely nothing, sir," answered Chris, with his
"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,
" 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
The Lost Viol
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
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 ? "
'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
"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!"
"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
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
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,
"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 ? Not at all ! " said Yvonne. " In France
one no longer believes that the spirit lives after death,
" 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,"
" 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
"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-
"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
" 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
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.
"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
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 ?
"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,
The Lost Viol
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
"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
"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-
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
The Lost Viol
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
" 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
" 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-
The Lost Viol
edy is even more abstruse than the disease is painful,"
" 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
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
"I couldn't sleep, you know. I seem to be in the
"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
"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,
"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
'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
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
" 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
"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
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,
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
"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
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
"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.
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
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
"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
"Poor old Jig-Butt," said Mrs. Dene, as her laughter
"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
"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
" 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
"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
"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
"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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
'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
'I thought it! For, two mornings ago, Yvonne, on
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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.
The Lost Viol
'"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
The Lost Viol
'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
'. . . 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! . . .
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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
'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
The Lost Viol
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
"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 ? '
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
" ' 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
[ 145 ]
The Lost Viol
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
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.
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
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 at Chateaubrun,' I said.
"Her palms just lifted a little from me, as if hurt,
then came back.
"'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
' 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.'
The Lost Viol
"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
The Lost Viol
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,'
'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 ? "
"Then he can marry in France."
"Yes. Secondly, I want to know how English law
regards this legal marriage in France."
"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
"'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 ]
The Lost Viol
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."
"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.'
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:
"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.
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
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."
"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.
' 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
'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
"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
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
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-
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,
'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
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.
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
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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
'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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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;
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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
'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
" 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 ]
The Lost Viol
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 ? "
The Lost Viol
"A boy? a girl?"
Dawe did not know! His eyes swam round to
"A boy," said Kathleen quickly at a venture,
" 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,
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
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
"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
"That will do," said Kathleen; and Dawe then gave
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
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
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 ? "
" 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
"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
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.
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."
" 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."
" 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
" 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."
" They were stolen out of my trunk, I suppose. For
five years I have been trying all the time to find them.
"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 —
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
" Believe me first, and press me to your heart after,
" 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
"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
The Lost Viol
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 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,'
The Lost Viol
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
"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
"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
The Lost Viol
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 ]
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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.
The Lost Viol
: 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 ]
The Lost Viol
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.
The Lost Viol
'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
" 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,'
"'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
The Lost Viol
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 ]
The Lost Viol
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 ]
The Lost Viol
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
The Lost Viol
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-
"... 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,
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
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,
The Lost Viol
just glanced round the room, and asked, "Where is
"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
" 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,
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-
"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:
"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 ? ,,,. ..
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
"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 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
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 ]
UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY
AA 000 205 098 7