B I f K !
If H | j \
NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
AMELIA B. EDWARDS
author of "Barbara's history," "debenham's vow,'' etc.
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A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS OF THE BLACK FOREST 7
THE STORY OF SALOME 45
IN THE CONFESSIONAL 79
THE TRAGEDY IN THE PALAZZO BORHKLI.O. . . 105
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS 145
SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY 189
ALL-SAINTS' EVE 213
A NIGHT ON THE
BORDERS OF THE BLACK FOREST.
A NIGHT ON THE
BORDERS OF THE BLACK FOREST.
My story (if story it can be called, being an
episode in my own early life) carries me back to a
time when the world and I were better friends than
we are likely, perhaps, ever to be again. I was
young then. I had good health, good spirits, and
tolerably good looks. I had lately come into a
snug little patrimony, which I have long since dis-
sipated; and I was in love, or fancied myself in
love, with a charming coquette, who afterwards
threw me over for a West-country baronet with
seven thousand a year.
So much for myself. The subject is not one
that I particularly care to dwell upon; but as I
happen to be the hero of my own narrative, some
sort of self-introduction is, I suppose, necessary.
To begin then — Time: seventeen years ago.
Hour: — three o'clock p.m., on a broiling, cloud-
less September afternoon.
Scene: — a long, straight, dusty road, bordered
with young trees; a far-stretching, undulating plain,
yellow for the most part with corn-stubble; singu-
larly barren of wood and water; sprinkled here and
IO A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
there with vineyards, farmsteads, and hamlets; and
bounded in the extreme distance by a low chain of
Place — a certain dull, unfrequented district in
the little kingdom of Wurtemberg, about twelve
miles north of Heilbronn, and six south-east of the
Dramatis Persona?: — myself, tall, sunburnt, dusty;
in grey suit, straw hat, knapsack and gaiters. In
the distance, a broad-backed pedestrian wielding a
long stick like an old English quarter-staff.
Now, not being sure that I took the right turn-
ing at the cross-roads a mile or two back, and hav-
ing plodded on alone all day, I resolved to over-
take this same pedestrian, and increased my pace
accordingly. He, meanwhile, unconscious of the
vicinity of another traveller, kept on at an easy
"sling-trot," his head well up, his staff swinging idly
in his hand — a practised pedestrian, evidently, and
one not easily out-walked through a long day.
I gained upon him, however, at every step, and
could have passed him easily; but as I drew near
he suddenly came to a halt, disencumbered himself
of his wallet, and stretched himself at full length
under a tree by the way-side.
I saw now that he was a fine, florid, handsome
fellow of about twenty-eight or thirty years of age
— a thorough German to look at; frank, smiling,
blue-eyed; dressed in a light holland blouse and
loose grey trousers, and wearing on his head a
little crimson cap with a gold tassel, such as the
students wear at Heidelberg university. He lifted
OF THE BLACK FOREST. I I
it, with the customary u Gut en Abend" as I came up,
and when I stopped to speak, sprang to his feet
with ready politeness, and remained standing.
"Niedersdorf, mein Herr?" said he, in answer
to my inquiry. "About four miles farther on. You
have but to keep straight forward."
"Many thanks," I said. "You were resting. I
am sorry to have disturbed you."
He put up his hand with a deprecating gesture.
"It is nothing," he said. "I have walked far,
and the day is warm."
"I have only walked from Heilbronn, and yet I
am tired. Pray don't let me keep you standing."
"Will you also sit, mein Herd" he asked with
a pleasant smile. "There is shade for both."
So I sat down, and we fell into conversation. I
began by offering him a cigar; but he pulled out
his pipe — a great dangling German pipe, with a
flexible tube and a painted china bowl like a small
"A thousand thanks," he said; "but I prefer this
old pipe to all the cigars that ever came out of
Havannah. It was given to me eight years ago,
when I was a student; and my friend who gave it
to me is dead."
"You were at Heidelberg 1 ?" I said interroga-
"Yes; and Fritz (that was my friend) was at
Heidelberg also. He was a wonderful fellow; a
linguist, a mathematician, a botanist, a geologist.
He was only five-and-twenty when the govern-
12 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
ment appointed him naturalist to an African explor-
ing party; and in Africa he died."
"Such a man," said I, "was a loss to the world."
"Ah, yes," he replied simply; "but a greater loss
To this I could answer nothing; and for some
minutes we smoked in silence.
"I was not clever like Fritz," he went on pre-
sently. "When I left Heidelberg, I went into busi-
ness. I am a brewer, and I live at Stuttgart. My
name is Gustav Bergheim — what is yours 1 ?"
"Hamilton," I replied; "Chandos Hamilton."
He repeated the name after me.
"You are an Englishman?" he said.
"Good. I like the English. There was an Eng-
lishman at Heidelberg — such a good fellow! his
name was Smith. Do you know him?"
I explained that, in these fortunate islands, there
were probably some thirty thousand persons named
Smith, of whom, however, I did not know one.
"And are you a milord, and a Member of Par-
I laughed, and shook my head.
"No, indeed," I replied; "neither. I read for
the bar; but I do not practise. I am an idle man
— of very little use to myself, and of none to my
"You are travelling for your amusement?"
"I am. I have just been through the Tyrol, and
as far as the Italian lakes — on foot, as you see me.
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 1 3
But tell me about yourself. That is far more in-
"About myself?" he said smiling. "Ah, mein
Herr, there is not much to tell. I have told you
that I live at Stuttgart. Well, at this time of the
year, I allow myself a few weeks' holiday, and I
am now on my way to Frankfort, to see my Madchen,
who lives there with her parents."
"Then I may congratulate you on the certainty
of a pleasant time."
"Indeed, yes. We love each other well, my
Madchen and I. Her name is Frederika, and her
father is a rich banker and wine merchant. They
live in the Neue Mainzer Strasse near the Taunus
Gate; but the Herr Hamilton does not, perhaps,
know Frankfort 1 ?"
I replied that I knew Frankfort very well, and
that the Neue Mainzer Strasse was, to my thinking,
the pleasantest situation in the city. And then I
ventured to ask if the Fraulein Frederika was
"I think her so," he said with his boyish smile;
"but then, you see, my eyes are in love. You shall
judge, however, for yourself."
And with this, he disengaged a locket from his
watch-chain, opened it, and showed me the portrait
of a golden-haired girl, who, without being actually
handsome, had a face as pleasant to look upon as
"Well?" he said anxiously. "What do you say?"
"I say that she has a charming expression," I
14 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
"But you do not think her pretty?"
"Nay, she is better than pretty. She has the
beauty of real goodness."
His face glowed with pleasure.
"It is true," he said, kissing the portrait, and
replacing it upon his chain. "She is an angel! We
are to be married in the Spring."
Just at this moment, a sturdy peasant came
trudging up from the direction of Niedersdorf,
under the shade of a huge red cotton umbrella. He
had taken his coat off, probably for coolness, or it
might be for economy, and was carrying it, neatly
folded up, in a large, new wooden bucket. He
saluted us with the usual "Guten Abend" as he ap-
To which Bergheim laughingly replied by ask-
ing if the bucket was a love-token from his sweet-
"Nein, nein," he answered stolidly; "I bought it
at the Kermess* up yonder."
"So! there is a Kermess at Niedersdorf 1 ?"
"Ach, Himmel! — a famous Kermess. All the
world is there to-day."
And with a nod, he passed on his way.
My new friend indulged in a long and dismal
"Der Teufel!" he said, "this is awkward. I'll
be bound, now, there won't be a vacant room at
any inn in the town. And I had intended to sleep
at Niedersdorf to-night. Had you?"
"Well, I should have been guided by circum-
* Kermess — A fair.
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 1 5
stances. I should perhaps have put up at Nieders-
dorf, if I had found myself tired and the place
comfortable; or I might have dined there, and after
dinner taken some kind of light vehicle as far as
"Rotheskirche!" he repeated. "Where is that?"
"It is a village on the Neckar. My guide-book
mentions it as a good starting-point for pedestrians,
and I am going to walk from there to Heidelberg."
"But have you not been coming out of your
"No; I have only taken a short cut inland, and
avoided the dull part of the river. You know the
Neckar, of course?"
"Only as far as Neckargemund; but I have heard
that higher up it is almost as fine as the Rhine."
"Hadn't you better join me?" I said, as we ad-
justed our knapsacks and prepared to resume our
He shook his head, smiling.
"Nay," he replied, "my route leads me by Buchen
and Darmstadt. I have no business to go round by
"It would be worth the detour"
"Ah, yes; but it would throw me two days later."
"Not if you made up for lost time by taking the
train from Heidelberg."
"I should like it," he said.
"Then why not do it?"
"Well — yes — I will do it. I will go with you.
There! let us shake hands on it, and be friends."
1 6 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
So we shook hands, and it was settled.
The shadows were now beginning to lengthen;
but the sun still blazed in the heavens with unabated
intensity. Bergheim, however, strode on as lightly,
and chatted as gaily, as if his day's work was only
just beginning. Never was there so simple, so open-
hearted a fellow. He wore his heart literally upon
his sleeve, and, as we went along, told me all his
little history; how, for instance, his elder sister, hav-
ing been betrothed to his friend Fritz, had kept
single ever since for his sake; how he was himself
an only son, and the idol of his mother, now a
widow; how he had resolved never to leave either
her or his maiden sister; but intended when he
married to take a larger house, and bring his wife
into their common home; how Frederika's father had
at first opposed their engagement for that reason;
how Frederika (being, as he had already said, an
angel) had won the father's consent last New Year's
Day; and how happy he was now; and how happy
they should be in the good time coming; together
with much more to the same effect.
To all this I listened, and smiled, and assented,
putting in a word here and there, as occasion offered,
and encouraging him to talk on to his heart's content.
And now with every mile that brought us nearer
to Niedersdorf, the signs of fair-time increased and
multiplied. First came straggling groups of home-
ward-bound peasants — old men and women totter-
ing under the burden of newly-purchased household
goods; little children laden with gingerbread and
toys; young men and women in their holiday-best
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 1-7
— the latter with garlands of oak-leaves bound about
their hats. Then came an open cart full of laugh-
ing girls; then more pedestrians; then an old man
driving a particularly unwilling pig; then a royster-
ing party of foot-soldiers; and so on, till not only
the road, but the fields on either side and every
path in sight, swarmed with a double stream of way-
farers — the one coming from the fair — the other
setting towards it.
Presently, through the clouds of dust and to-
bacco-smoke that fouled the air, a steeple and cot-
tages became visible; and then, quite suddenly, we
found ourselves in the midst of the fair.
Here a compact, noisy, smoking, staring, laugh-
ing, steaming crowd circulated among the booths;
some pushing one way, some another — some intent
on buying — some on eating and drinking — some on
love-making and dancing. In one place we came
upon rows of little open stalls for the sale of every
commodity under heaven. In another, we peeped
into a great restaurant-booth full of country folks
demolishing pyramids of German sausage and seas
of Bairisch beer. Yonder, on a raised stage in
front of a temporary theatre, strutted a party of
strolling players in their gaudy tinsels and ballet-
dresses. The noise, the smells, the elbowing, the
braying of brass bands, the insufferable heat and
clamour, made us glad to push our way through as
fast as possible, and take refuge in the village inn.
But even here we could scarcely get a moment's
attention. There were parties dining and drinking
in every room in the house — even in the bed-rooms;
The Black Forest. 2
1 8 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
while the passages, the bar, and the little gardens,
front and back, were all full of soldiers, free-shooters,
Having with difficulty succeeded in capturing a
couple of platters of bread and meat and a measure
of beer, we went round to the stable-yard, which was
crowded with charrettes, ein-spanner, and country
carts of all kinds. The drivers of some of these
were asleep in their vehicles; others were gambling
for kreutzers on the ground; none were willing to
put their horses to for the purpose of driving us to
"Ach, Herr Gott!" said one, "I brought my folks
from Friihlingsfeld — near upon ten stunden— and
shall have to take them back by and by. That's as
much as my beasts can do in one day, and they
shouldn't do more for the king!"
"I've just refused five florins to go less than half
that distance," said another.
At length one fellow, being somewhat less im-
practicable than the rest, consented to drive us as
far as a certain point where four roads met, on con-
dition that we shared his vehicle with two other
travellers, and that the two other travellers consented
to let us do so.
"And even so," he added, "I shall have to take
them two miles out of their way — but, perhaps, being
fair-time, they won't mind that."
As it happened, they were not in a condition to
mind that or anything very much, being a couple of
freeshooters from the Black Forest, wild with fun
and frolic, and somewhat the worse for many pota-
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 1 9
tions of Lager-bier. One of them, it seemed, had
won a prize at some shooting-match that same morn-
ing, and they had been celebrating this triumph all
day. Having kept us waiting, with the horses in, for
at least three-quarters of an hour, they came, escorted
by a troop of their comrades, all laughing, talking,
and wound up to the highest pitch of excitement.
Then followed a scene of last health-drinkings, last
hand-shakings, last embracements. Finally, we drove
off just as it was getting dusk, followed by many
huzzahs, and much waving of grey and green caps.
For the first quarter of an hour they were both
very noisy, exchanging boisterous greetings with
every passer-by, singing snatches of songs, and
laughing incessantly. Then, as the dusk deepened
and we left the last stragglers behind, they sank
into a tipsy stupor, and ended by falling fast
Meanwhile, the driver lit his pipe and let his
tired horses choose their own pace; the stars came
out one by one overhead; and the road, leaving
the dead level of the plain, wound upwards through
a district that became more hilly with every mile.
Then I also fell asleep — I cannot tell for how
long — to be waked by-and-by by the stopping of
the charrette, and the voice of the driver, saying: —
"This is the nearest point to which I can take
these Herren. Will they be pleased to alight?"
I sat up and rubbed my eyes. It was bright
starlight. Bergheim was already leaning out, and
opening the door. Our fellow-travellers were still
sound asleep. We were in the midst of a wild,
20 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
hilly country, black with bristling pine-woods; and
had drawn up at an elevated point where four
"Which of these are we to take?" asked Bergheim,
as he pulled out his purse and counted the stipulated
number of florins into the palm of the driver.
The man pointed with his whip in a direction
at right angles to the road by which he was himself
"And how far shall we have to walk?"
"Yes — to Rotheskirche."
He grunted doubtfully. "Ugh!" he said, "I
can't be certain to a mile or so. It may be twelve
"A good road?"
"Yes — a good road; but hilly. These Herren
have only to keep straight forward. They cannot
miss the way."
And so he drives off, and leaves us standing in
the road. The moon is now rising behind a slope
of dark trees — the air is chill — an owl close by
utters its tremulous, melancholy cry. Place and
hour considered, the prospect of twelve or fourteen
miles of a strange road, in a strange country, is
anything but exhilarating. We push on, however,
briskly; and Bergheim, whose good spirits are in-
vincible, whistles and chatters, and laughs away
as gaily as if we were just starting on a brilliant
"I wonder if you were ever tired in your life!"
I exclaim by and by, half peevishly.
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 21
"Tired!" he echoes. "Why, I am as tired at
this moment as a dog; and would gladly lie down
by the roadside, curl myself up under a tree, and
sleep till morning. I wonder, by the way, what
o'clock it is."
I pulled out my fusee-box, struck a light, and
looked at my watch. It was only ten o'clock.
"We have been walking," said Bergheim, "about
half an hour, and I don't believe we have done
two miles in the time. Well, it can't go on uphill
like this all the way!"
"Impossible," I replied. "Rotheskirche is on
the level of the river. We must sooner or later
begin descending towards the valley of the Neckar."
"I wish it might be sooner, then," laughed my
companion, "for I had done a good twenty miles
to-day before you overtook me."
"Well, perhaps we may come upon some place
half way. If so, I vote that we put up for the
night, and leave Rotheskirche till the morning."
"Ay, that would be capital!" said he. "If it
wasn't that I am as hungry as a wolf, I wouldn't
say no to the hut of a charcoal-burner to-night."
And now, plodding on more and more silently
as our fatigue increased, we found the pine-forests
gradually drawing nearer, till by and by they en-
closed us on every side, and our road lay through
the midst of them. Here in the wood, all was dark
— all was silent — not a breath stirred. The moon
was rising fast; but the shadows of the pines lay
long and dense upon the road, with only a sharp
silvery patch breaking through here and there. By
22 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
and by we came upon a broad space of clearing,
dotted over with stacks of brushwood and great
symmetrical piles of barked trunks. Then followed
another tract of close forest. Then our road sud-
denly emerged into the full moonlight, and some-
times descending abruptly, sometimes keeping at a
dead level for half a mile together, continued to
skirt the forest on the left.
"I see a group of buildings down yonder," said
Bergheim, pointing to a spot deep in the shadow
of the hillside.
I could see nothing resembling buildings, but
he stuck to his opinion.
"That they are buildings," he said, "I am posi-
tive. More I cannot tell by this uncertain light.
It may be a mere cluster of cottages, or it may be
a farmhouse, with stacks and sheds close by. I
think it is the latter."
Animated by this hope, we now pushed on more
rapidly. For some minutes our road carried us
out of sight of the spot; but when we next saw it,
a long, low, white-fronted house and some other
smaller buildings were distinctly visible.
"A mountain farmstead, by all the gods of
Olympus!" exclaimed Bergheim, joyously. "This
is good fortune! And they are not gone to. bed yet,
"How do you know that 1 ?" I asked.
"Because I saw a light."
"But suppose they do not wish to take us in?"
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 23
"Suppose an impossibility! Who ever heard of
inhospitality among our Black Forest folk?"
"Black Forest!" I repeated. "Do you call this
the Black Forest?"
"Undoubtedly. All these wooded hills south
of Heidelberg and the Odenwald are outlying spurs
and patches of the old legendary Schwarzwald—
now dwindling year by year. Hark! the dogs have
found us out already!"
As he spoke, a dog barked loudly in the
direction of the farm; and then another, and an-
other. Bergheim answered them with a shout. Sud-
denly a bright light flashed across the darkness —
flitted vaguely for a moment to and fro, and then
came steadily towards us; resolving itself presently
into a lanthorn carried by a man.
We hurried eagerly to meet him — at all, square-
built, heavy-browed peasant, about forty years of
"Who goes there 1 ?" he said, holding the lanthorn
high above his head, and shading his eyes with his
"Travellers," replied my companion. "Tra-
vellers wanting food and shelter for the night."
The man looked at us for a moment in silence.
"You travel late," he said, at length.
"Ay— and we must have gone on still later, if
we had not come upon your house. We were
bound for Rotheskirche. Can you take us in."
"Yes," he said sullenly. "I suppose so. This
And, swinging the lantho"rn as he went, he
24 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
turned on his heel abruptly, and led the way back
to the house.
"A boorish fellow enough!" said I, as we
"Nay — a mere peasant!" replied Bergheim. "A
mere peasant — rough, but kindly."
As we drew near the house, two large mastiff
pups came rushing out from a yard somewhere at
the back, and a huge, tawny dog chained up in an
open shed close by, strained at his collar and yelled
"Down, Caspar! Down, Schwartz!" growled our
conductor, with an oath.
And immediately the pups slunk back into the
yard, and the dog in the shed dropped into a low
snarl, eyeing us fiercely as we passed.
The house-door opened straight upon a large,
low, raftered kitchen, with a cavernous fire-place at
the further end, flanked on each side by a high-
backed settle. The settles, the long table in the
middle of the room, the stools and chairs ranged
round the walls, the heavy beams overhead, from
which hung strings of dried herbs, ropes of onions,
hams, and the like, were all of old, dark oak. The
ceiling was black with the smoke of at least a
century. An oak dresser laden with rough blue
and grey ware and rows of metal-lidded drinking
mugs; an old blunderbuss and a horn-handled
riding- whip over the chimney-piece; a couple of
hatchets, a spade, and a fishing-rod behind the
door; and a Swiss clock in the corner, completed
the furniture of the room. A couple of half-charred
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 25
logs smouldered on the hearth. An oil-lamp flared
upon the middle of the table, at one corner of
which sat two men with a stone jug and a couple
of beer-mugs between them, playing at cards, and
a third man looking on. The third man rose as
we entered, and came forward. He was so like the
one who had come out to meet us, that I saw at
once they must be brothers.
"Two travellers," said our conductor, setting
down his lanthorn, and shutting the door be-
The players laid down their greasy cards to
stare at us. The second brother, a trifle more civil
than the first, asked if we wished for anything be-
fore going to bed.
Bergheim unslung his wallet, flung himself
wearily into a corner of the settle, and said: —
"Heavens and earth! yes. We are almost
starving. We have been on the road all day, and
have had no regular dinner. Is this a farmhouse
or an inn?"
"What have you in the house?"
" Ham — eggs — voorst — cheese — wine — beer —
"Then bring us the best you have, and plenty
of it, and as fast as you can. We'll begin on the
voorst and a bottle of your best wine, while the
ham and eggs are frying; and we'll have the coffee
The man nodded; went to a door at the other
end of the room — repeated the order to some one
26 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
out of sight; and came back again, his hands in
his pockets. The first brother, meanwhile, was
lounging against the table, looking on at the
"It's a long game," he said.
"Ay — but it's just ended," replied one of the
men, putting down his card with an air of triumph.
His adversary pondered, threw down his hand,
and, with a round oath, owned himself beaten.
Then they divided the remaining contents of
the stone jug, drained their mugs, and rose to go.
The loser pulled out a handful of small coin, and
paid the reckoning for both.
"We've sat late," said he, with a glance at the
clock. "Good night, Karl — good night, Friedrich."
The first brother, whom I judged to be Karl,
nodded sulkily. The second muttered a gruff sort
of good night. The countrymen lit their pipes, took
another long stare at Bergheim and myself, touched
their hats, and went away.
The first brother, Karl, who was evidently the
master, went out with them, shutting the door with
a tremendous bang. The younger, Friedrich, cleared
the board, opened a cupboard under the dresser,
brought out a loaf of black bread, a lump of
voorst, and part of a goat's milk cheese, and then
went to fetch the wine. Meanwhile we each drew
a chair to the table, and fell to vigorously. When
Friedrich returned with the wine, a pleasant smell
of broiling ham came in with him through the
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 2%
"You are hungry," he said, looking down at us
from under his black brows.
"Ay, and thirsty," replied Gustav, reaching out
his hand for the bottle. "Is your wine good?"
The man shrugged his shoulders.
"Drink and judge for yourself," he answered.
"It's the best we have."
"Then drink with us," said my companion,
good-humouredly, filling a glass and pushing it
towards him across the table.
But he shook his head with an ungracious
"Nein, nein," and again left the room. The next
moment we heard his heavy footfall going to and
"He is preparing our beds," I said. "Are there
no women, I wonder, about the place 1 ?"
"Well, yes — this looks like one," laughed Berg-
heim, as the door leading to the inner kitchen
again opened, and a big stolid-looking peasant girl
came in with a smoking dish of ham and eggs,
which she set down before us on the table. "Stop!
stop!" he exclaimed, as she turned away. "Don't
be in such a hurry, my girl. What is your name?"
She stopped with a bewildered look, but said
nothing. Bergheim repeated the question.
"My — my name 1 ?" she stammered. "Annchen."
"Good. Then, Annchen" (filling a bumper
and draining it at a draught), "I drink to thy
health. Wilt thou drink to mine?" And he
pointed to the glass poured out for the landlord's
But she only looked at him in the same scared,
28 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
stupid way, and kept edging away towards the
"Let her go," I said. "She is evidently half an
"She's no idiot to refuse that wine," replied
Bergheim, as the door closed after her. "It's the
most abominable mixture I ever put inside my lips.
Have you tasted it?"
I had not tasted it as yet, and now I would
not; so, the elder brother coming back just at that
moment, we called for beer.
"Don't you like the wine 1 ?" he said, scowling.
"No," replied Bergheim. "Do you? If so, you're
welcome to the rest of it."
The landlord took up the bottle and held it be-
tween his eyes and the lamp.
"Bad as it is," he said, "you've drunk half
"Not I — only one glass, thanks be to Bacchus!
There stands the other. Let us have a Schoppen
of your best beer — and I hope it will be better than
your best wine."
The landlord looked from Bergheim to the glass
— from the glass to the bottle. He seemed to be
measuring with his eye how much had really been
drunk. Then he went to the inner door; called to
Friedrich to bring a Schoppen of the Bairisch, and
went away, shutting the door after him. From the
sound of his footsteps, it seemed to us as if he also
was gone upstairs, but into some more distant part
of the house. Presently the younger brother re-
OF THE BLACK FOREST. . 2Q
appeared with the beer, placed it before us in
silence, and went away as before.
"The most forbidding, disagreeable, uncivil pair
I ever saw in my life!" said I.
"They're not fascinating, I admit," said Berg-
heim, leaning back in his chair with the air of a
man whose appetite is somewhat appeased. "I
don't know which is the worst — their wine or their
And then he yawned tremendously, and pushed
out his plate, which I heaped afresh with ham and
eggs. When he had swallowed a few mouthfuls, he
leaned his head upon his hand, and declared he
was too tired to eat more.
"And yet," he added, "I am still hungry."
"Nonsense!" I said; "eat enough now you are
about it. How is the beer 1 ?"
He took a pull at the Schoppen.
"Capital," he said. "Now I can go on again."
The next instant he was nodding over his plate.
"I am ashamed to be so stupid," he said, rous-
ing himself presently; "but I am overpowered with
fatigue. Let us have the coffee; it will wake me
up a bit."
But he had no sooner said this than his chin
dropped on his breast, and he was sound asleep.
I did not call for the coffee immediately. I let
him sleep, and went on quietly with my supper.
Just as I had done, however, the brothers came
back together, Friedrich bringing the coffee — two
large cups on a tray. The elder, standing by the
30 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
table, looked down at Bergheim with his unfriendly
"Your friend is tired," he said.
"Yes, he has walked far to-day — much farther
than I have."
"Humph! you will be glad to go to bed."
"Indeed we shall. Are our rooms ready?"
I took one of the cups, and put the other beside
"Here, Bergheim," I said, "wake up; the coffee
But he slept on, and never heard me.
I then lifted my own cup to my lips — paused
— set it down untasted. It had an odd, pungent
smell that I did not like.
"What is the matter with it?" I said, "it does
not smell like pure coffee."
The brothers exchanged a rapid glance.
"It is the Kirschenwasser," said Karl. "We al-
ways put it in our black coffee."
I tasted it, but the flavour of the coffee was
quite drowned in that of the coarse, fiery spirit.
"Do you not like it?" asked the younger brother.
"It is very strong," I said.
"But it is very good," replied he; "real Black
Forest Kirsch — the best thing in the world, if one
is tired after a journey. Drink it off, mein Herr;
it is of no use to sip it. It will make you sleep."
This was the longest speech either of them had
"Thanks," I said, pulling out my cigar-case, "but
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 3 I
this stuff is too powerful to be drunk at a draught.
I shall make it last out a cigar or two."
"And your friend 1 ?"
"He is better without the Kirsch, and may sleep
till I am ready to go to bed."
Again they looked at each other.
"You need not sit up," I said impatiently; for
it annoyed me, somehow, to have them standing
there, one at each side of the table, alternately
looking at me and at each other. "I will call the
Madchen to show us to our rooms when we are
"Good," said the elder brother, after a moment's
hesitation. "Come, Friedrich."
Friedrich turned at once to follow him, and they
both left the room.
I listened. I heard them for awhile moving to
and fro in the inner kitchen; then the sound of
their double footsteps going up the stairs; then the
murmur of their voices somewhere above, yet not
exactly overhead; then silence.
I felt more comfortable, now that they were
fairly gone, and not likely to return. I breathed
more freely. I had disliked the brothers from the
first. I had felt uneasy from the moment I crossed
their threshold. Nothing, I told myself, should in-
duce me at any time, or under any circumstances,
to put up under their roof again.
Pondering thus, I smoked on, and took another
sip of the coffee. It was not so hot now, and some
of the strength of the spirit had gone off; but
under the flavour of the Kirschenwasser I could (or
32 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
fancied I could) detect another flavour, pungent
and bitter — a flavour, in short, just corresponding
to the smell that I had at first noticed.
This startled me. I scarcely knew why, but it
did startle me, and somewhat unpleasantly. At the
same instant I observed that Bergheim, in the heavi-
ness and helplessness of sleep, had swayed over on
one side, and was hanging very uncomfortably
across one arm of his chair.
"Come, come," I said, "wake up, Herr fellow-
traveller. This sort of dozing will do you no good.
Wake up, and come to bed."
And with this I took him by the arm, and tried
to rouse him. Then for the first time I observed
that his face was deadly white — that his teeth were
fast clenched — that his breathing was unnatural and
I sprang to my feet. I dragged him into an
upright posture; I tore open his neckcloth; I was
on the point of rushing to the door to call for help,
when a suspicion — one of those terrible suspicions
which are suspicion and conviction in one — flashed
suddenly upon me.
The rejected glass of wine was still standing on
the table. I smelt it — tasted it. My dread was
confirmed. It had the same pungent odour, the
same bitter flavour as the coffee.
In a moment I measured all the horror of my
position; alone — unarmed — my unconscious fellow-
traveller drugged and helpless on my hands — the
murderers overhead, biding their time — the silence
and darkness of night — the unfrequented road — the
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 33
solitary house — the improbability of help from with-
out — the imminence of the danger from within. . . .
I saw it all! What could I do? Was there any
way, any chance, any hope 1 ?
I turned cold and dizzy. I leaned against the
table for support. Was I also drugged, and was
my turn coming'? I looked round for water, but
there was none upon the table. I did not dare to
touch the beer, lest it also should be doctored.
At that instant I heard a faint sound outside,
like the creaking of a stair. My presence of mind
had not as yet for a moment deserted me, and
now my strength came back at the approach of
danger. I cast a rapid glance round the room.
There was the blunderbuss over the chimney-piece
— there were the two hatchets in the corner. I
moved a chair loudly, and hummed some snatches
They should know that I was awake — this might
at least keep them off a little longer. The scraps
of songs covered the sound of my footsteps as I
stole across the room and secured the hatchets.
One of these I laid before me on the table; the
other I hid among the wood in the wood-basket
beside the hearth — singing, as it were to myself, all
Then I listened breathlessly.
All was silent.
Then I clinked my tea-spoon in my cup —
feigned a long yawn — under cover of the yawn took
down the blunderbuss from its hook — and listened
The Black Forest. 3
34 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
Still all was silent — silent as death — save only
the loud ticking of the clock in the corner, and the
heavy beating of my heart.
Then, after a few seconds that dragged past
like hours, I distinctly heard a muffled tread steal-
ing softly across the floor overhead, and another
very faint retreating creak or two upon the stairs.
To examine the blunderbuss, find it loaded with
a heavy charge of slugs, test the dryness of the
powder, cock it, and place it ready for use beside
the hatchet on the table, was but the work of a
And now my course was taken. My spirits rose
with the possession of a certain means of defence,
and I prepared to sell my own life, and the life of
the poor fellow beside me, as dearly as might be.
I must turn the kitchen into a fortress, and de-
fend my fortress as long as defence was possible.
If I could hold it till daylight came to my aid,
bringing with it the chances of traffic, of passers-by,
of farm-labourers coming to their daily work — then
I felt we should be comparatively safe. If, how-
ever, I could not keep the enemy out so long, then
I had another resource But of this there was
no time to think at present. First of all, I must
barricade my fortress.
The windows were already shuttered-up and
barred on the inside. The key of the house-door
was in the lock, and only needed turning. The
heavy iron bolt, in like manner, had only to be shot
into its place. To do this, however, would make
too much noise just now. First and most im-
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 35
portant was the door communicating with the inner
kitchen and the stairs. This, above all, I must
secure; and this, as I found to my dismay, had no
bolts or locks whatever on the inside — nothing but
a clumsy wooden latch!
To pile against it every moveable in the room
was my obvious course; but then it was one that,
by the mere noise it must make, would at once
alarm the enemy. No! I must secure that door —
but secure it silently — at all events for the next few
Inspired by dread necessity, I became fertile in
expedients. With a couple of iron forks snatched
from the table, I pinned the latch down, forcing the
prongs by sheer strength of hand deep into the
woodwork of the door. This done, I tore down
one of the old rusty bits from its nail above the
mantel-shelf, and, linking it firmly over the thump-
piece of the latch on one side, and over the clumsy
catch on the other, I improvised a door-chain that
would at least act as a momentary check in case
the door was forced from without. Lastly, by means
of some half-charred splinters from the hearth, I
contrived to wedge up the bottom of the door in
such a manner that, the more it was pushed in-
wards, the more firmly fixed it must become.
So far my work had been noiseless; but now
the time was come when it could be so no longer.
The house-door must be secured at all costs; and
I knew beforehand that I could not move those
heavy fastenings unheard. Nor did I. The key,
despite all my efforts, grated loudly in the lock, and
36 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
the bolt resisted the rusty staples. I got it in, how-
everj and the next moment heard rapid footsteps
I knew now that the crisis was coming, and from
this moment prepared for open resistance.
Regardless of noise, I dragged out first one
heavy oaken settle, and then the other — placed them
against the inner door — piled them with chairs,
stools, firewood, every heavy thing I could lay hands
upon — raked the slumbering embers, and threw
more wood upon the hearth, so as to bar that
avenue, if any attempt was made by way of the
chimney — and hastily ransacked every drawer in the
dresser, in the hope of finding something in the
shape of ammunition.
Meanwhile, the brothers had taken alarm, and
having tried the inner door, had now gone round
to the front, where I heard them try first the house-
door and then the windows.
"Open! open, I say!" shouted the elder — (I
knew him by his voice). "What is the matter
"The matter is that I choose to spend the night
in this room," I shouted in reply.
"It is a public room — you have no right to shut
the doors!" he said, with a thundering blow upon
"Right or no right," I answered, "I shoot dead
the first man who forces his way in!"
There was a momentary silence, and I heard
them muttering together outside.
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 37
I had by this time found, at the back of one
of the drawers , a handful of small shot screwed up
in a bit of newspaper, and a battered old powder-
flask containing about three charges of powder.
Little as it was, it helped to give me confidence.
Then the parleying began afresh.
"Once more, accursed Englishman will you
open the door?"
A torrent of savage oaths — then a pause.
"Force us to break it open, and it will be the
worse for you!"
All this time I had been wrenching out the
hooks from the dresser, and the nails, wherever I
could find any, from the walls. Already I had
enough to reload the blunderbuss three times, with
my three charges of powder. If only Bergheim were
himself now! ....
I still heard the murmuring of the brothers'
voices outside — then the sound of their retreating
footsteps — then an outburst of barking and yelping
at the back, which showed they had let loose the
dogs. Then all was silent.
Where were they gone 1 ? How would they begin
the attack? In what way would it all end? I
glanced at my watch. It was just twenty minutes
past one. In two hours and a half, or three hours,
it would be dawn. Three hours! Great Heavens!
what an eternity!
I looked round to see if there was anything I
could still do for defence; but it seemed to me that
38 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
I had already done what little it was possible to do
with the material at hand. I could only wait.
All at once I heard their footsteps in the house
again. They were going rapidly to and fro over-
head; then up and down the stairs; then overhead
again; and presently I heard a couple of bolts shot,
and apparently a heavy wooden bar put up, on the
other side of the inner kitchen-door which I had
just been at so much pains to barricade. This
done, they seemed to go away. A distant door
banged heavily; and again there was silence.
Five minutes, ten minutes, went by. Bergheim
still slept heavily; but his breathing, I fancied, was
less stertorous, and his countenance less rigid, than
when I first discovered his condition. I had no
water with which to bathe his head; but I rubbed
his forehead and the palms of his hands with beer,
and did what I could to keep his body upright.
Then I heard the enemy coming back to the
front, slowly, and with heavy footfalls. They paused
for a moment at the front door, seemed to set
something down, and then retreated quickly. After
an interval of about three minutes, they returned in
the same way; stopped at the same place; and hur-
ried off as before. This they did several times in
succession. Listening with suspended breath and
my ear against the keyhole, I distinctly heard them
deposit some kind of burden each time — evidently
a weighty burden, from the way in which they car-
ried it; and yet, strange to say, one that, despite
its weight, made scarcely any noise in the setting
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 39
Just at this moment, when all my senses were
concentrated in the one act of listening, Bergheim
stirred for the first time, and began muttering.
"The man!" he said, in a low, suppressed tone.
"The man under the hearth!"
I flew to him at the first sound of his voice.
He was recovering. Heaven be thanked, he was
recovering! In a few minutes we should be two —
two against two — right and might on our side —
both ready for the defence of our lives!
"One man under the hearth," he went on, in
the same unnatural tone. "Four men at the bottom
of the pond — all murdered — foully murdered!"
I had scarcely heeded his first words; but now,
as their sense broke upon me, that great rush of
exultation and thankfulness was suddenly arrested.
My heart stood still; I trembled; I turned cold with
Then the veins swelled on his forehead; his
face became purple; and he struck out blindly, as
one oppressed with some horrible nightmare.
"Blood!" he gasped. "Everywhere blood — don't
touch it. God's vengeance — help!" . . .
And so, struggling violently in my arms, he
opened his eyes, stared wildly round, and made an
effort to get upon his feet.
"What is the matter?" he said, sinking back
again, and trembling from head to foot. "Was I
asleep 1 ?"
I rubbed his hands and forehead again with
beer. I tasted it, and finding no ill flavour upon it,
put a tiny drop to his lips.
4 » A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
"You are all right now," I said. "You were
very tired, and you fell asleep after supper. Don't
He put his hand to his head. "Ah, yes," he
said, "I remember. I have been dreaming" . . .
He looked round the room in a bewildered way;
then, struck all at once by the strange disorder of
the furniture, asked what was the matter.
I told him in the least alarming way, and with
the fewest words I could muster, but before I could
get to the end of my explanation he was up, ready
for resistance, and apparently himself again.
"Where are they 1 ?" he said. "What are they
doing now? Outside, do you say? Why, good
heavens! man, they're blocking us in. Listen! —
don't you hear? — it is the rustling of straw. Bring
the blunderbuss! quick! — to the window . . . God
grant we may not be too late!"
We both rushed to the window; Bergheim to
undo the shutter, and I to shoot down the first
man in sight.
"Look there!" he said, and pointed to the
A thin stream of smoke was oozing under the
threshold and stealing upward in a filmy cloud that
already dimmed the atmosphere of the room.
"They are going to burn us out!" I exclaimed.
"No, they are going to burn us alive," replied
Bergheim, between his clenched teeth. "We know
too much, and they are determined to silence us at
all costs, though they burn the house down over
our heads. Now hold your breath, for I am going
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 4?
to open the window, and the smoke will rush in
like a torrent."
He opened it, but very little came in— for this
reason, that the outside was densely blocked with
straw, which had not yet ignited.
In a moment we had dragged the table under
the window — put our weapons aside ready for use
— and set to work to cut our way out.
Bergheim, standing on the table, wrenched away
the straw in great armfuls. I caught it, and hurled
it into the middle of the room. We laboured at
the work like giants. In a few moments the pile
had mounted to the height of the table. Then
Bergheim cried out that the straw under his hands
was taking fire, and that he dared throw it back
into the room no longer!
I sprang to his aid with the two hatchets. I
gave him one — I fell to work with the other. The
smoke and flame rushed in our faces, as we hewed
down the burning straw.
Meanwhile, the room behind us was full of
smoke, and above the noise of our own frantic
labour we heard a mighty crackling and hissing, as
of a great conflagration.
"Take the blunderbuss — quick!" cried Berg-
heim, hoarsely. "There is nothing but smoke out-
side now, and burning straw below. Follow me!
Jump as far out as you can, and shoot the first you
And with this, he leaped out into the smoke,
and was gone!
I only waited to grope out the blunderbuss;
42 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS
then, holding it high above my head, I shut my
eyes and sprang after him, clearing the worst of the
fire, and falling on my hands and knees among a
heap of smouldering straw and ashes beyond. At
the same instant that I touched the ground, I heard
the sharp crack of a rifle , and saw two figures rush
To dash out in pursuit without casting one
backward glance at the burning house behind me
— to see a tall figure vanishing among the trees,
and two others in full chase — to cover the foremost
of these two and bring him down as one would
bring down a wolf in the open, was for me but the
work of a second.
I saw him fall. I saw the other hesitate, look
back, throw up his hands with a wild gesture, and
fly towards the hills.
# * # *
The rest of my story is soon told. The one I
had shot was Friedrich, the younger brother. He
died in about half an hour, and never spoke again.
The elder escaped into the forest, and there suc-
ceeded in hiding himself for several weeks among
the charcoal-burners. Being hunted down, how-
ever, at last, he was tried at Heilbronn, and there
The pair, it seemed, were practised murderers.
The pond, when dragged, was found to contain four
of their victims; and when the crumbling ruins of
the homestead were cleared for the purpose, the
mortal remains of a fifth were discovered under the
hearth, in that kitchen which had so nearly proved
OF THE BLACK FOREST. 43
our grave. A store of money, clothes, and two or
three watches, was also found secreted in a granary-
near the house; and these things served to identify
three out of the five corpses thus providentially
brought to light.
My friend , Gustav Bergheim (now the friend of
seventeen years) is well and prosperous; married
to his "Madchen;" and the happy father of a
numerous family. He often tells the tale of our
terrible night on the borders of the Black Forest,
and avers that in that awful dream in which his
senses came back to him, he distinctly saw, as in a
vision, the mouldering form beneath the hearth, and
the others under the sluggish waters of the pond.
THE STORY OF SALOME.
THE STORY OF SALOME.
A few years ago, no matter how many, I, Har-
court Blunt, was travelling with my friend Coventry
Tumour, and it was on the steps of our hotel that
I received from him the announcement that he was
again in love.
"I tell you, Blunt," said my fellow-traveller,
"she's the loveliest creature I ever beheld in my
I laughed outright.
"My dear fellow," I replied, "you've so often
seen the loveliest creature you ever beheld in your
"Ay, but I am in earnest now for the first
"And you have so often been in earnest for the
first time! Remember the inn-keeper's daughter at
"A pretty housemaid, whom no training could
have made presentable."
"Then there was the beautiful American at
"And the bella Marchesa at Prince Torlonia's
48 THE STORY OF SALOME.
"Not one of them worthy to be named in the
same breath with my imperial Venetian. Come
with me to the Merceria and be convinced. By tak-
ing a gondola to St. Mark's Place we shall be there
in a quarter of an hour."
I went, and he raved of his new flame all the
way. She was a Jewess — he would convert her.
Her father kept a shop in the Merceria — what of
that? He dealt only in costliest Oriental mer-
chandise, and was as rich as a Rothschild. As for
any probable injury to his own prospects, why need
he hesitate on that account 1 ? What were "pros-
pects" when weighed against the happiness of
one's whole life? Besides, he was not ambitious.
He didn't care to go into Parliament. If his uncle,
Sir Geoffrey, cut him off with a shilling, what then?
He had a moderate independence of which no one
living could deprive him, and what more could any
reasonable man desire?
I listened, smiled, and was silent. I knew
Coventry Tumour too well to attach the smallest
degree of importance to anything that he might say
or do in a matter of this kind. To be distractedly
in love was his normal condition. We had been
friends from boyhood; and since the time when he
used to cherish a hopeless attachment to the young
lady behind the counter of the tart-shop at Harrow,
I had never known him "fancy-free" for more than
a few weeks at a time. He had gone through every
phase of no less than three grandes passions during
the five months that we had now been travelling
together; and having left Rome about eleven weeks
THE STORY OF SALOME. 49
before with every hope laid waste, and a heart so
broken that it could never by any possibility be put
together again, he was now, according to the na-
tural course of events, just ready to fall in love
We landed at the traghetto San Marco. It was
a cloudless morning towards the middle of April,
just ten years ago. The Ducal Palace glowed in
the hot sunshine; the boatmen were clustered, gos-
siping, about the quay; the orange-vendors were
busy under the arches of the piazzetta; the flaneurs
were already eating ices and smoking cigarettes
outside the cafes. There was an Austrian military
band, strapped, buckled, moustachioed, and white-
coated, playing just in front of St. Mark's; and the
shadow of the great bell-tower slept all across the
Passing under the low round archway leading
•to the Merceria, we plunged at once into that cool
labyrinth of narrow, intricate, and picturesque
streets, where the sun never penetrates — where no
wheels are heard, and no beast of burden is seen
— where every house is a shop, and every shop-
front is open to the ground, as in an Oriental
bazaar — where the upper balconies seem almost to
meet overhead, and are separated by only a strip
of burning sky — and where more than three people
cannot march abreast in any part. Pushing our
way as best we might through the motley crowd
that here chatters, cheapens, buys, sells, and per-
petually jostles to and fro, we came presently to a
shop for the sale of Eastern goods. A few glass
The Black Forest. 4
50 THE STORY OF SALOME.
jars, filled with spices and some pieces of stuff, un-
tidily strewed the counter next the street; but
within, dark and narrow though it seemed, the place
was crammed with costliest merchandise. Cases of
gorgeous Oriental jewelry; embroideries and fringes
of massive gold and silver bullion; precious drugs
and spices; exquisite toys in filigree; miracles of
carving in ivory, sandal-wood, and amber; jewelled
yataghans; scimitars of state, rich with "barbaric
pearl and gold;" bales of Cashmere shawls, China
silks, India muslins, gauzes, and the like, filled
every inch of available space from floor to ceil-
ing, leaving only a narrow lane from the door to
the counter, and a still narrower passage to the
rooms beyond the shop.
We went in. A young woman who was sitting
reading on a low seat behind the counter, laid aside
her book, and rose slowly. She was dressed wholly
in black. I cannot describe the fashion of her gar-
ments. I only know that they fell about her in
long, soft, trailing folds, leaving a narrow band of
fine cambric visible at the throat and wrists; and
that, however graceful and unusual this dress may
have been, I scarcely observed it, so entirely was I
taken up with admiration of her beauty.
For she was indeed very beautiful — beautiful in
a way I had not anticipated Coventry Tumour, with
all his enthusiasm, had failed to do her justice. He
had raved of her eyes — her large, lustrous, melan-
choly eyes, — of the transparent paleness of her
complexion, of the faultless delicacy of her features;
but he had not prepared me for the unconscious
THE STORY OF SALOME. 5 1
dignity, the perfect nobleness and refinement, that
informed her every look and gesture. My friend
requested to see a bracelet at which he had been
looking the day before. Proud, stately, silent, she
unlocked the case in which it was kept, and laid it
before him on the counter. He asked permission
to take it over to the light. She bent her head, but
answered not a word. It was like being waited
upon by a young Empress.
Tumour took the bracelet to the door and
affected to examine it. It consisted of a double
row of gold coins linked together at intervals by a
bean-shaped ornament studded with pink coral and
diamonds. Coming back into the shop he asked
me if I thought it would please his sister, to whom
he had promised a remembrance of Venice.
"It is a pretty trifle," I replied; "but surely a
remembrance of Venice should be of Venetian manu-
facture. This, I suppose, is Turkish."
The beautiful Jewess looked up. We spoke in
English; but she understood, and replied.
"E Greco, signore" she said coldly.
At this moment an old man came suddenly for-
ward from some dark counting-house at the back
— a grizzled, bearded, eager-eyed Shylock, with a
pen behind his ear.
"Go in, Salome — go in, my daughter," he said
hurriedly. "I will serve these gentlemen."
She lifted her eyes to his for one moment — then
moved silently away, and vanished in the gloom of
the room beyond.
We saw her no more. We lingered awhile look-
52 THE STORY OF SALOME.
ing over the contents of the jewel-cases; but in vain.
Then Tumour bought his bracelet, and we went
out again into the narrow streets, and back to the
open daylight of the Gran' Piazza.
"Well," he said breathlessly, "what do you think
"She is very lovely."
"Lovelier than you expected?"
"Much lovelier. But — "
"The sooner you succeed in forgetting her the
He vowed, of course, that he never would and
never could forget her. He would hear of no in-
compatibilities, listen to no objections, believe in
no obstacles. That the beautiful Salome was her-
self not only unconscious of his passion and in-
different to his person, but ignorant of his very
name and station, were facts not even to be ad-
mitted on the list of difficulties. Finding him thus
deaf to reason, I said no more.
It was all over, however, before the week was
"Look here, Blunt," he said, coming up to me
one morning in the coffee-room of our hotel just
as I was sitting down to answer a pile of home-
letters; "would you like to go on to Trieste to-
morrow? There, don't look at me like that — you
can guess how it is with me. I was a fool ever to
suppose she would care for me — a stranger, a for-
eigner, a Christian. Well, I'm horribly out of sorts,
THE STORY OF SALOME. 53
anyhow — and — and I wish I was a thousand miles
off at this moment!"
* * * #
We travelled on together to Athens, and there
parted, Tumour being bound for England, and I
for the East. My own tour lasted many months
longer. I went first to Egypt and the Holy Land;
then joined an exploring party on the Euphrates;
and at length, after just twelve months of Oriental
life, found myself back again at Trieste about the
middle of April in the year following that during
which occurred the events I have just narrated.
There I found that batch of letters and papers to
which I had been looking forward for many weeks
past; and amongst the former, one from Coventry
Tumour. This time he was not only irrecoverably
in love, but on the eve of matrimony. The letter
was rapturous and extravagant enough. The writer
was the happiest of men; his destined bride the
loveliest and most amiable of her sex; the future a
paradise; the past a melancholy series of mistakes.
As for love, he had never, of course, known what
it was till now.
And what of the beautiful Salome 1 ?
Not one word of her from beginning to end.
He had forgotten her as utterly as if she had never
existed. And yet how desperately in love and how
desperately in despair he was "one little year ago!"
Ah, yes; but then it was "one little year ago;" and
who that had ever known Coventry Tumour would
expect him to remember la plus grande des grandes
passions for even half that time?
54 THE STORY OF SALOME.
I slept that night at Trieste and went on next
day to Venice. Somehow I could not get Tumour
and his love-affairs out of my head. I remembered
our visit to the Merceria. I was haunted by the
image of the beautiful Jewess. Was she still so
lovely? Did she still sit reading in her wonted
seat by the open counter, with the gloomy shop
reaching away behind, and the cases of rich robes
and jewels all around 1 ?
An irresistible impulse prompted me to go to
the Merceria and see her once again. I went. It
had been a busy morning with me, and I did not
get there till between three and four o'clock in the
afternoon. The place was crowded. I passed up
the well-remembered street, looking out on both
sides for the gloomy little shop with its unattractive
counter; but in vain. When I had gone so far that
I thought I must have passed it, I turned back.
House by house I retraced my steps to the very
entrance, and still could not find it. Then, con-
cluding I had not gone far enough at first, I turned
back again till I reached a spot where several streets
diverged. Here I came to a stand-still, for beyond
this point I knew I had not passed before.
It was now evident that the Jew no longer
occupied his former shop in the Merceria, and
that my chance of discovering his whereabouts was
exceedingly slender. I could not inquire of his
successor, because I could not identify the house.
I found it impossible even to remember what trades
were carried on by his neighbours on either side.
I was ignorant of his very name. Convinced, there-
THE STORY OF SALOME. 55
fore, of the inutility of making any further effort, I
gave up the search, and comforted myself by re-
flecting that my own heart was not made of ada-
mant, and that it was, perhaps, better for my peace
not to see the beautiful Salome again. I was des-
tined to see her again, however, and that ere many
days had passed over my head.
A year of more than ordinarily fatiguing Eastern
travel had left me in need of rest, and I had re-
solved to allow myself a month's sketching in Venice
and its neighbourhood before turning my face home-
As, therefore, it is manifestly the first object of
a sketcher to select his points of view, and as no
more luxurious machine than a Venetian gondola
was ever invented for the use of man, I proceeded
to employ the first days of my stay in endless boat-
ings to and fro; now exploring all manner of canals
and canaletti; now rowing out in the direction of
Murano; now making for the islands beyond San
Pietro Castello, and in the course of these pilgrimages
noting down an infinite number of picturesque sites,
and smoking an infinite number of cigarettes.
It was, I think, about the fourth or fifth day of
this pleasant work, when my gondolier proposed to
take me as far as the Lido. It wanted about two
hours to sunset, and the great sand-bank lay not
more than three or four miles away; so I gave the
word, and in another moment we had changed our
route and were gliding farther and farther from
Venice at each dip of the oar.
Then the long, dull, distant ridge that had all
56 THE STORY OF SALOME.
day bounded the shallow horizon rose gradually
above the placid level of the Lagune; assumed a
more broken outline; resolved itself into hillocks
and hollows of tawny sand; showed here and there
a patch of parched grass and tangled brake; and
looked like the coasts of some inhospitable desert
beyond which no traveller might penetrate. My
boatman made straight for a spot where some
stakes at the water's edge gave token of a landing-
place; and here, though with some difficulty, for
the tide was low, ran the gondola aground. I
landed. My first step was among graves.
"E'l Cimiterio Giudaico, signore" said my gon-
dolier, with a touch of his cap.
The Jewish cemetery! The ghetto of the dead!
I remembered now to have read or heard long
since how the Venetian Jews, cut off in death as
in life from the neighbourhood of their Christian
rulers, had been buried from immemorial time upon
this desolate waste. I stooped to examine the head-
stone at my feet. It was but a shattered fragment,
crusted over with yellow lichens, and eaten away
by the salt sea air. I passed on to the next, and
Some were completely matted over with weeds
and brambles; some were half-buried in the drifting
-Bsnd; of some only a corner remained above the
surface. Here and there a name, a date, a frag-
ment of emblematic carving or part of a Hebrew
inscription, was yet legible; but all were more or
less broken and effaced.
THE STORY OF SALOME. 57
Wandering on thus among graves and hillocks,
ascending at every step, and passing some three
or four glassy pools overgrown with gaunt-looking
reeds, I presently found that I had reached the
central and most elevated part of the Lido, and
that I commanded an uninterrupted view on every
side. On the one hand lay the broad, silent
Lagune bounded by Venice and the Euganean hills
— on the other, stealing up in long, lazy folds, and
breaking noiselessly against the endless shore, the
blue Adriatic. An old man gathering shells on the
seaward side, a distant gondola on the Lagune,
were the only signs of life for miles around.
Standing on the upper ridge of this narrow
barrier, looking upon both waters, and watching
the gradual approach of what promised to be a
gorgeous sunset, I fell into one of those wandering
trains of thought in which the real and unreal suc-
ceed each other as capriciously as in a dream.
I remembered how Goethe here conceived his
vertebral theory of the skull — how Byron , too lame
to walk, kept his horse on the Lido, and here rode
daily to and fro — how Shelley loved the wild soli-
tude of the place, wrote of it in Julian and Maddalo,
and listened perhaps from this very spot, to the
mad-house bell on the island of San Giorgio. Then
I wondered if Titian used sometimes to come hither
from his gloomy house on the other side of Venice,
to study the gold and purple of these western skies
— if Othello had walked here with Desdemona — if
Shylock was buried yonder, and Leah whom he
loved "when he was a bachelor,"
58 THE STORY OF SALOME.
And then in the midst of my reverie, I came
suddenly upon another Jewish cemetery.
Was it indeed another, or but an outlying por-
tion of the first? It was evidently another, and a
more modern one. The ground was better kept.
The monuments were newer. Such dates as I had
succeeded in deciphering on the broken sepulchres
lower down were all of the fourteenth and fifteenth
centuries; but the inscriptions upon these bore
reference to quite recent interments.
I went on a few steps farther. I stopped to
copy a quaint Italian couplet on one tomb — to
gather a wild forget-me-not from the foot of another
— to put aside a bramble that trailed across a
third — and then I became aware for the first time
of a lady sitting beside a grave not a dozen yards
from the spot on which I stood.
I had believed myself so utterly alone, and was
so taken by surprise, that for the first moment I
could almost have persuaded myself that she also
was "of the stuff that dreams are made of." She
was dressed from head to foot in deepest mourning;
her face turned from me, looking towards the sunset;
her cheek resting in the palm of her hand. The
grave by which she sat was obviously recent. The
scant herbage round about had been lately dis-
turbed, and the marble headstone looked as if it
had not yet undergone a week's exposure to wind
Persuaded that she had not observed me, I
lingered for an instant looking at her. Something
in the grace and sorrow of her attitude, something
THE STORY OF SALOME. 59
in the turn of her head and the flow of her sable
draperies, arrested my attention. Was she young 1 ?
I fancied so. Did she mourn a husband? — a lover?
— a parent? I glanced towards the headstone. It
was covered with Hebrew characters; so that, had
I even been nearer, it could have told me nothing.
But I felt that I had no right to stand there, a
spectator of her sorrow, an intruder on her privacy.
I proceeded to move noiselessly away. At that
moment she turned and looked at me.
It was Salome.
Salome, pale and worn as from some deep and
wasting grief, but more beautiful, if that could be,
than ever. Beautiful, with a still more spiritual
beauty than of old; with cheeks so wan, and eyes
so unutterably bright and solemn, that my very
heart seemed to stand still as I looked upon them.
For one second I paused, half fancying, half hoping
that there was recognition in her glance; then, not
daring to look or linger longer, turned away.
When I had gone far enough to do so without dis-
courtesy, I stopped and looked back. She had
resumed her former attitude, and was gazing over
towards Venice and the setting sun. The stone by
which she watched was not more motionless.
The sun went down in glory. The last flush
faded from the domes and bell-towers of Venice;
the northward peaks changed from rose to purple,
from gold to grey; a scarcely perceptible film of
mist became all at once visible upon the surface of
the Lagune; and overhead, the first star trembled
into light. I waited and watched till the shadows
60 THE STORY OF SALOME.
had so deepened that I could no longer distinguish
one distant object from another. Was that the spot?
Was she still there? Was she moving 1 ? Was she
gone? I could not tell. The more I looked, the
more uncertain I became. Then, fearing to miss
my way in the fast-gathering twilight, I struck
down towards the water's edge and made for the
point at which I had landed.
I found my gondolier fast asleep, with his head
on a cushion and his bit of gondola-carpet thrown
over him for a counterpane. I asked if he had seen
any other boat put off from the Lido since I left?
He rubbed his eyes, started up, and was awake in
"Per Bacco, signore, I have been asleep," he
said apologetically; "I have seen nothing."
"Did you observe any other boat moored here-
abouts when we landed?"
"And you have seen nothing of a lady in
He laughed and shook his head.
" Consola/evi, signore," he said, archly; "she will
Then, seeing me look grave, he touched his cap,
and with a gentle "Scusate, signore," took his place
at the stern, and there waited. I bade him row
to my hotel; and then, leaning dreamily back,
folded my arms, closed my eyes, and thought of
How lovely she was! How infinitely more
lovely than even my first remembrance of her! How
THE STORY OF SALOME. 6 1
was it that I had not admired her more that day in
the Merceria? Was I blind, or had she become in-
deed more beautiful? It was a sad and strange place
in which to meet her again. By whose grave was
she watching? By her father's 1 ? Yes, surely by her
father's. He was an old man when I saw him, and
in the course of nature had not long to live. He
was dead: hence my unavailing search in the Mer-
ceria. He was dead. His shop was let to another
occupant. His stock-in-trade was sold and dis-
And Salome — was she left alone? Had she no
mother? — no brother? — no lover? Would her eyes
have had that look of speechless woe in them if
she had any very near or dear tie left on earth?
Then I thought of Coventry Tumour, and his ap-
proaching marriage. Had he ever really loved her?
I doubted it. "True love," saith an old song, "can
ne'er forget;" but he had forgotten, as though the
past had been a dream. And yet he was in earnest
while it lasted — would have risked all for her sake,
if she would have listened to him. Ah, if she had
listened to him!
And then I remembered that he had never told
me the particulars of that affair. Did she herself
reject him, or did he lay his suit before her father?
And was he rejected only because he was a Christian?
I had never cared to ask these things while we were
together; but now I would have given the best hun-
ter in my stables to know every minute detail con-
nected with the matter.
Pondering thus, travelling over the same ground
62 THE STORY OF SALOME.
again and again, wondering whether she remembered
me, whether she was poor, whether she was, indeed,
alone in the world, how long the old man had
been dead, and a hundred other things of the same
kind, — I scarcely noticed how the watery miles
glided past, or how the night closed in. One ques-
tion, however, recurred oftener than any other:
How was I to see her again?
I arrived at my hotel; I dined at the table d'hote;
I strolled out after dinner to my favourite cafe in
the piazza; I dropped in for half an hour at the Fe-
nice, and heard one act of an extremely poor opera;
I came home restless, uneasy, wakeful; and sitting
for hours before my bedroom fire, asked myself the
same perpetual question — How was I to see her
Fairly tired out at last, I fell asleep in my
chair, and when I awoke the sun was shining upon
I started to my feet. I had it now. It flashed
upon me, as if it came with the sunlight. I had
but to go again to the cemetery, copy the inscrip-
tion upon the old man's tomb, ask my learned
friend, Professor Nicolai of Padua, to translate it
for me, and then, once in possession of names and
dates, the rest would be easy.
In less than an hour, I was once more on my
way to the Lido.
I took a rubbing of the stone. It was the
quickest way, and the surest; for I knew that in
Hebrew everything depended on the pointing of
THE STORY OF SALOME. 63
the characters, and I feared to trust my own untu-
This done, I hastened back, wrote my letter to
the professor, and despatched both letter and rub-
bing by the midday train.
The professor was not a prompt man. On the
contrary, he was a pre-eminently slow man; dreamy,
indolent, buried in Oriental lore. From any other
correspondent one might have looked for a reply in
the course of the morrow; but from Nicolai of
Padua it would have been folly to expect one
under two or three days. And in the meanwhile?
Well, in the meanwhile there were churches and
palaces to be seen, sketches to be made, letters of
introduction to be delivered. It was, at all events,
of no use to be impatient.
And yet I was impatient — so impatient that I
could neither sketch, nor read, nor sit still for ten
minutes together. Possessed by an uncontrollable
restlessness, I wandered from gallery to gallery, from
palace to palace, from church to church. The im-
prisonment of even a gondola was irksome to me.
I was, as it were, impelled to be moving and doing;
and even so, the day seemed endless.
The next was even worse. There was just the
possibility of a reply from Padua, and the know-
ledge of that possibility unsettled me for the day.
Having watched and waited for every post from
eight to four, I went down to the traghetto of St.
Mark's, and was there hailed by my accustomed
He touched his cap and waited for orders.
64 THE STORY OF SALOME.
"Where to, signore 1 ?" he asked, finding that I
"To the Lido."
It was an irresistible temptation, and I yielded
to it; but I yielded in opposition to my judgment.
I knew that I ought not to haunt the place. I had
resolved that I would not. And yet I went.
Going along, I told myself that I had only come
to reconnoitre. It was not unlikely that she might
be going to the same spot about the same hour as
before; and in that case I might overtake her
gondola by the way, or find it moored somewhere
along the shore. At all events, I was determined
not to land. But we met no gondola beyond San
Pietro Castello; saw no sign of one along the shore.
The afternoon was far advanced; the sun was near
going down; we had the Lagune and the Lido to
My boatman made for the same landing-place,
and moored his gondola to the same stake as be-
fore. He took it for granted that I meant to land;
and I landed. After all, however, it was evident
that Salome could not be there, in which case I
was guilty of no intrusion. I might stroll in the
direction of the cemetery, taking care to avoid her,
if she were anywhere about, and keeping well away
from that part where I had last seen her. So I
broke another resolve, and went up towards the top
of the Lido. Again I came to the salt pools and
the reeds; again stood with the sea upon my left
hand and the Lagune upon my right, and the end-
less sandbank reaching on for miles between the
THE STORY OF SALOME. 65
two. Yonder lay the new cemetery. Standing
thus I overlooked every foot of the ground. I
could even distinguish the headstone of which I
had taken a rubbing the morning before. There
was no living thing in sight. I was, to all ap-
pearance, as utterly alone as Enoch Arden on his
Then I strolled on a little nearer and a little
nearer still; and then, contrary to all my determina-
tions, I found myself standing upon the very spot,
beside the very grave, which I had made up my
mind on no account to approach.
The sun was now just going down — had gone
down, indeed, behind a bank of golden-edged
cumuli — and was flooding earth, sea, and sky with
crimson. It was at this hour that I saw her. It
was upon this spot that she was sitting. A few
scant blades of grass had sprung up here and there
upon the grave. Her dress must have touched them
as she sat there — her dress — perhaps her hand. I
gathered one, and laid it carefully between the leaves
of my note-book.
At last I turned to go, and, turning, met her face
She was distant about six yards, and advancing
slowly towards the spot on which I was standing.
Her head drooped slightly forward; her hands were
clasped together; her eyes were fixed upon the
ground. It was the attitude of a nun. Startled,
confused, scarcely knowing what I did, I took off
my hat, and drew aside to let her pass.
She looked up — hesitated — stood still — gazed at
Tlie Black Forest. 5
66 THE STORY OF SALOME.
me with a strange, steadfast, mournful expression-
then dropped her eyes again, passed me without
another glance, and resumed her former place and
attitude beside her father's grave.
I turned away. I would have given worlds to
speak to her; but I had not dared, and the oppor-
tunity was gone. Yet I might have spoken. She
looked at me — looked at me with so strange and
piteous an expression in her eyes — continued look-
ing at me as long as one might have counted five....
I might have spoken. I surely might have spoken!
And now — ah! now it was impossible. She had
fallen into the old thoughtful attitude, with her
cheek resting on her hand. Her thoughts were far
away. She had forgotten my very presence.
I went back to the shore, more disturbed and
uneasy than ever. I spent all the remaining day-
light in rowing up and down the margin of the
Lido, looking for her gondola — hoping, at all events,
to see her put off— to follow her, perhaps, across
the waste of waters. But. the dusk came quickly on,
and then darkness; and I left at last without having
seen any farther sign or token of her presence.
Lying awake that night, tossing uneasily upon
my bed, and thinking over the incidents of the last
few days, I found myself perpetually recurring to
that long, steady, sorrowful gaze which she fixed
upon me in the cemetery. The more I thought of
it, the more I seemed to feel that there was in it
some deeper meaning than I, in my confusion, had
observed at the time. It was such a strange look —
a look almost of entreaty, of asking for help or
THE STORY OF SALOME. 67.
sympathy; like the dumb appeal in the eyes of a
sick animal. Could this really be? What, after all,
more possible than that, left alone in the world —
with, perhaps, not a single male relation to advise
her — she found herself in some position of present
difficulty, and knew not where to turn for help?
All this might well be. She had even, perhaps,
some instinctive feeling that she might trust me.
Ah! if she would indeed trust me
I had hoped to receive my Paduan letter by
the morning delivery; but morning and afternoon
went by as before, and still no letter came. As the
day began to decline, I was again on my way to
the Lido; this time for the purpose, and with the
intention, of speaking to her. I landed, and went
direct to the cemetery. It had been a dull day.
Lagune and sky were both one uniform leaden grey,
and a mist hung over Venice.
I saw her from the moment I reached the upper
ridge. She was walking to and fro among the graves,
like a stately shadow. I had felt confident, some-
how, that she would be there; and now, for some
reason that I could not have defined for my life, I
felt equally confident that she expected me.
Trembling and eager, yet half dreading the
moment when she should discover my presence, I
hastened on, printing the loose sand at every noise-
less step. A few moments more, and I should over-
take her, speak to her, hear the music of her voice
— that music which I remembered so well, though
a year had gone by since I last heard it. But how
should I address her? What had I to say? I knew
68 THE STORY OF SALOME.
not. I had no time to think. I could only hurry
on till within some ten feet of her trailing gar-
ments; stand still when she turned, and uncover
before her as if she were a queen.
She paused and looked at me, just as she had
paused and looked at me the evening before. With
the same sorrowful meaning in her eyes; with even
more than the same entreating expression. But she
waited for me to speak.
I did speak. I cannot recall what I said; I only
know that I faltered something of an apology —
mentioned that I had had the honour of meeting
her before, many months ago; and, trying to say
more — trying to express how thankfully and proudly
I would devote myself to any service however
humble, however laborious, I failed both in voice
and words, and broke down utterly.
Having come to a stop, I looked up and found
her eyes still fixed upon me.
"You are a Christian?" she said.
A trembling came upon me at the first sound
of her voice. It was the same voice; distinct, me-
lodious, scarce louder than a whisper — and yet it
was not quite the same. There was a melancholy
in the music, and if I may use a word which, after
all, fails to express my meaning, a remoteness, that
fell upon my ear like the plaintive cadence in an
I bent my head, and answered that I was.
She pointed to the headstone of which I had
taken a rubbing a day or two before.
"A Christian soul lies there," she said, "laid in
THE STORY OF SALOME. 69
earth without one Christian prayer — with Hebrew
rites — in a Hebrew sanctuary. Will you, stranger,
perform an act of piety towards the dead?"
"The Signora has but to speak," I said. "All
that she wishes shall be done."
"Read one prayer over this grave; and trace a
cross upon this stone."
She thanked me with a gesture, slightly bowed
her head, drew her outer garment more closely
round her, and moved away to a rising ground at
some little distance. I was dismissed. I had no
excuse for lingering — no right to prolong the inter-
view — no business to remain there one moment
longer. So I left her there, nor once looked back
till I had reached the last point from which
I knew I should be able to see her. But when
I turned for that last look, she was no longer in
I had resolved to speak to her, and this was the
result. A stranger interview never, surely, fell to
the lot of man! I had said nothing that I meant
to say — had learnt nothing that I sought to know.
With regard to her circumstances, her place of
residence, her very name, I was no wiser than be-
fore. And yet I had, perhaps, no reason to be
dissatisfied. She had honoured me with her con-
fidence, and entrusted to me a task of some diffi-
culty and importance. It now only remained for
me to execute that task as thoroughly and as quickly
as possible. That done, I might fairly hope to win
70 THE STORY OF SALOME.
some place in her remembrance — by and by, per-
haps, in her esteem.
Meanwhile, the old question rose again — whose
grave could it be] I had settled this matter so con-
clusively in my own mind from the first, that I could
scarcely believe even now that it was not her father's.
Yet that he should have died a secret convert to
Christianity was incredible. Whose grave could it
be 1 ? A lover's] A Christian lover's] Alas! it might
be. Or a sister's] In either of these cases, it was
more than probable that Salome was herself a con-
vert. But I had no time to waste in conjecture. I
must act, and act promptly.
I hastened back to Venice as fast as my gon-
dolier could row me; and as we went along I pro-
mised myself that all her wishes should be carried
out before she visited the spot again. To secure at
once the services of a clergyman who would go
with me to the Lido at early dawn and there read
some portion, at least, of the burial service; and at
the same time to engage a stonemason to cut the
cross; — to have all done before she, or anyone,
should have approached the place next day, was
my especial object. And that object I was resolved
to carry out, though I had to search Venice through
before I laid my head upon my pillow.
I found a clergyman without difficulty. He was
a young man occupying rooms in the same hotel,
and on the same floor as myself. I had met him
each day at the table d'hote, and conversed with him
once or twice in the reading-room. He was a
North-countryman, had not long since taken orders,
THE STORY OF SALOME. 71
and was both gentlemanly and obliging. He pro-
mised in the readiest manner to do all that I re-
quired, and to breakfast with me at six next morn-
ing, in order that we might reach the cemetery by
To find my stonemason, however, was not so
easy; and yet I went to work methodically enough.
I began with the Venetian Directory; then copied a
list of stonemasons' names and addresses; then took
a gondola a due remi and started upon my voyage
But a night's voyage of discovery among the
intricate back canaletti of Venice is no very easy
and no very safe enterprise. Narrow, tortuous,
densely populated, often blocked by huge hay,
wood, and provision barges, almost wholly un-
lighted, and so perplexingly alike that no mere
novice in Venetian topography need ever hope to
distinguish one from another, they baffle the very
gondoliers, and are a terra incognita to all but the
I succeeded, however, in finding three of the
places entered on my list. At the first I was told
that the workman of whom I was in quest was
working by the week somewhere over by Murano,
and would not be back again till Saturday night.
At the second and third, I found the men at home,
supping with their wives and children at the end of
the day's work; but neither would consent to un-
dertake my commission. One, after a whispered
consultation with his son, declined reluctantly. The
other told me plainly that he dared not do it, and
72 THE STORY OF SALOME.
that he did not believe I should find a stone-
mason in Venice who would be bolder than him-
The Jews, he said, were rich and powerful; no
longer an oppressed people; no longer to be in-
sulted even in Venice with impunity. To cut a
Christian cross upon a Jewish headstone in the
Jewish Cemetery, would be "a sort of sacrilege,"
and punishable, no doubt, by the law. This sounded
like truth; so, finding that my rowers were by no
means confident of their way, and that the canaletti
were dark as the catacombs, I prevailed upon the
stonemason to sell me a small mallet and a couple
of chisels, and made up my mind to commit the
With this single exception, all was done next
morning as I had planned to do it. My new ac-
quaintance breakfasted with me, accompanied me to
the Lido, read such portions of the burial service
as seemed proper to him, and then, having business
in Venice, left me to my task. It was by no means
an easy one. To a skilled hand it would have been,
perhaps, the work of half-an-hour; but it was my
first effort, and rude as the thing was — a mere
grooved attempt at a Latin cross, about two inches
and a half in length, cut close down at the bottom
of the stone, where it could be easily concealed by
a little piling of the sand — it took me nearly four
hours to complete. While I was at work, the dull
grey morning grew duller and greyer; a thick sea-
fog drove up from the Adriatic; and a low moaning
wind came and went like the echo of a distant re-
THE STORY OF SALOME. 73
quiem. More than once I started, believing that
she had surprised me there — fancying I saw the
passing of a shadow — heard the rustling of a gar-
ment — the breathing of a sigh. But no. The
mists and the moaning wind deceived me. I was
When at length I got back to my hotel, it was,
just two o'clock. The hall-porter put a letter into
my hand as I passed through. One glance at that
crabbed superscription was enough. It was from
Padua. I hastened to my room, tore open the en-
velope, and read these words: —
"Caro Signore, — The rubbing you send is
neither ancient nor curious, as I fear you suppose
it to be. It is a thing of yesterday. It merely re-
cords that one Salome, the only and beloved child
of a certain Isaac Da Costa, died last Autumn on
the eighteenth of October, aged twenty-one years,
and that by the said Isaac Da Costa this monument
is erected to the memory of her virtues and his
"I pray you, caro signore, to receive the assur-
ance of my sincere esteem.
The letter dropped from my hand. I seemed
to have read without understanding it. I picked
it up; went through it again, word by word; sat
down; rose up; took a turn across the room; felt
confused, bewildered, incredulous,
74 THE STORY OF SALOME.
Could there, then, be two Salomes? or was there
some radical and extraordinary mistake 1 ?
I hesitated; I knew not what to do. Should I
go down to the Merceria, and see whether the name
of Da Costa was known in the quartier? Or find
out the registrar of births and deaths for the Jewish
district? Or call upon the principal rabbi, and
learn from him who this second Salome had been,
and in what degree of relationship she stood to-
wards the Salome whom I knew? I decided upon
the last course. The chief rabbi's address was
easily obtained. He lived in an ancient house on
the Giudecca, and there I found him — a grave,
stately old man, with a grizzled beard reaching nearly
to his waist.
I introduced myself and stated my business. I
came to ask if he could give me any information
respecting the late Salome da Costa who died
on the 1 8th of October last, and was buried on the
The rabbi replied that he had no doubt he could
give me any information I desired, for he had known
the lady personally, and was the intimate friend of
"Can you tell me," I asked, "whether she had
any dear friend or female relative of the same name
The rabbi shook his head.
"I think not," he said. "I remember no other
maiden of that name."
"Pardon me, but I know there was another," I
replied. "There was a very beautiful Salome living
THE STORY OF SALOME. 75
in the Merceria when I was last in Venice, just this
time last year."
"Salome da Costa was very fair," said the rabbi;
"and she dwelt with her father in the Merceria.
Since her death, he hath removed to the neighbour-
hood of the Rialto."
"This Salome's father was a dealer in Oriental
goods," I said, hastily.
"Isaac da Costa is a dealer in Oriental goods,"
replied the old man very gently. "We are speaking,
my son, of the same persons."
He shook his head again.
"But she lives!" I exclaimed, becoming greatly
agitated. " She lives. I have seen her. I have spoken
to her. I saw her only last evening."
"Nay," he said, compassionately, "this is
some dream. She of whom you speak is indeed
"I saw her only last evening," I repeated.
"Where did you suppose you beheld her 1 ?"
"On the Lido."
"On the Lido 1 ?"
"And she spoke to me. I heard her voice
— heard it as distinctly as I hear my own at this
The rabbi stroked his beard thoughtfully, and
looked at me. "You think you heard her voice!"
he ejaculated. "That is strange. What said she?"
I was about to answer. I checked myself — a
sudden thought flashed upon me — I trembled from
head to foot.
7 6 THE STORY OF SALOME.
"Have you — have you any reason for supposing
that she died a Christian?" I faltered.
The old man started and changed colour.
" I — I — that is a strange question," he stammered.
"Why do you ask it?"
"Yes or no?" I cried wildly. "Yes or no?"
He frowned, looked down, hesitated.
"I admit," he said, after a moment or two, — "I
admit that I may have heard something tending
that way. It may be that the maiden cherished
some secret doubt. Yet she was no professed
"Laid in earth ivithont one Christian prayer ; with
Hebreiv rites; in a Hebrew sanctuary!" I repeated
"But I marvel how you come to have heard of
this," continued the rabbi. "It was known only to
her father and myself."
"Sir," I said solemnly, "I know now that Salome
da Costa is dead; I have seen her spirit thrice,
haunting the spot where . . . ."
My voice broke. I could not utter the words.
"Last evening at sunset," I resumed, "was the
third time. Never doubting that — that I indeed be-
held her in the flesh, I spoke to her. She answered
me. She — she told me this."
The rabbi covered his face with his hands, and
so remained for some time, lost in meditation.
"Young man," he said at length, "your story is
strange, and you bring strange evidence to bear
upon it. It may be as you say; it may be that
'THE STORY OF SALOME. 77
you are the dupe of some waking dream — I know
He knew not; but I ... Ah! I knew only too
well. I knew now why she had appeared to me
clothed with such unearthly beauty. I understood
now that look of dumb entreaty in her eyes — that
tone of strange remoteness in her voice. The sweet
soul could not rest amid the dust of its kinsfolk,
"unhousel'd, unanointed, unanealed," lacking even
"one Christian prayer" above its grave. And
now — was it all over 1 ? Should I never see her
Never — ah! never. How I haunted the Lido
at sunset for many a month, till Spring had blos-
somed into Autumn, and Autumn had ripened into
Summer; how I wandered back to Venice year after
year at the same season, while yet any vestige of
that wild hope remained alive; how my heart has
never throbbed, my pulse never leaped, for love of
mortal woman since that time — are details into
which I need not enter here. Enough that I watched
and waited; but that her gracious spirit appeared
to me no more. I wait still, but I watch no longer.
I know now that our place of meeting will not
IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
The things of which I write befell — let me see,
some fifteen or eighteen years ago. I was not
young then; I am not old now. Perhaps I was
about thirty- two; but I do not know my age very
exactly, and I cannot be certain to a year or two
one way or the other.
My manner of life at that time was desultory
and unsettled. I had a sorrow — no matter of what
kind — and I took to rambling about Europe; not
certainly in the hope of forgetting it, for I had no
wish to forget, but because of the restlessness that
made one place after another triste and intolerable
It was change of place, however, and not ex-
citement, that I sought. I kept almost entirely
aloof from great cities, Spas, and beaten tracks,
and preferred for the most part to explore districts
where travellers and foreigners rarely penetrated.
Such a district at that time was the Upper
Rhine. I was traversing it that particular Summer
for the first time, and on foot; and I had set myself
to trace the course of the river from its source in
the great Rhine glacier to its fall at Schaffhausen.
Having done this, however, I was unwilling to part
The Black Forest. 6
82 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
company with the noble river; so I decided to
follow it yet a few miles farther — perhaps as far as
Mayence, but at all events as far as Basle.
And now began, if not the finest, certainly not
the least charming part of my journey. Here, it is
true, were neither Alps, nor glaciers, nor ruined
castles perched on inaccessible crags; but my way
lay through a smiling country, studded with pic-
turesque hamlets, and beside a bright river, hurrying
along over swirling rapids, and under the dark
arches of antique covered bridges, and between hill-
sides garlanded with vines.
It was towards the middle of a long day's walk
among such scenes as these that I came to Rhein-
felden, a small place on the left bank of the river,
about fourteen miles above Basle.
As I came down the white road in the blinding
sunshine, with the vines on either hand, I saw the
town lying low on the opposite bank of the Rhine.
It was an old walled town, enclosed on the land
side and open to the liver, the houses going sheer
down to the water's edge, with flights of slimy steps
worn smooth by the wash of the current, and over-
hanging eaves, and little built-out rooms with pent-
house roofs, supported from below by jutting piles
black with age and tapestried with water-weeds.
The stunted towers of a couple of churches stood
up from amid the brown and tawny roofs within
Beyond the town, height above height, stretched
a distance of wooded hills. The old covered bridge,
divided by a bit of rocky island in the middle of
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 83
the stream, led from bank to bank — from Germany
to Switzerland. The town was in Switzerland; I, look-
ing towards it from the road, stood on Baden ter-
ritory; the river ran sparkling and foaming between.
I crossed, and found the place all alive in an-
ticipation of a Kermess, or fair, that was to be held
there the next day but one. The townsfolk were
all out in the streets or standing about their doors;
and there were carpenters hard at work knocking
up rows of wooden stands and stalls the whole
length of the principal thoroughfare. Shop-signs in
open-work of wrought iron hung over the doors.
A runlet of sparkling water babbled down a stone
channel in the middle of the street. At almost
every other house (to judge by the rows of tarnished
watches hanging in the dingy parlour windows),
there lived a watchmaker; and presently I came to
a fountain — a regular Swiss fountain, spouting water
from four ornamental pipes, and surmounted by the
usual armed knight in old grey stone.
As I rambled on thus (looking for an inn, but
seeing none), I suddenly found that I had reached
the end of the street, and with it the limit of the
town on this side. Before me rose a lofty, pictu-
resque old gate-tower, with a tiled roof and a little
window over the archway; and there was a peep of
green grass and golden sunshine beyond. The
town walls (sixty or seventy feet in height, and
curiously roofed with a sort of projecting shed on
the inner side) curved away to right and left, un-
changed since the Middle Ages. A rude wain,
84 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
laden with clover and drawn by mild-eyed, cream-
coloured oxen, stood close by in the shade.
I passed out through the gloom of the archway
into the sunny space beyond. The moat outside
the walls was bridged over and filled in — a green
ravine of grasses and wild-flowers. A stork had
built its nest on the roof of the gate-tower. The
cicalas shrilled in the grass. The shadows lay
sleeping under the trees, and a family of cocks and
hens went plodding inquisitively to and fro among
the cabbages in the adjacent field. Just beyond
the moat, with only this field between, stood a little
solitary church — a church with a wooden porch,
and a quaint, bright-red steeple, and a churchyard
like a rose-garden, full of colour and perfume, and
scattered over with iron crosses wreathed with im-
The churchyard gate and the church door stood
open. I went in. All was clean, and simple, and
very poor. The walls were whitewashed; the floor
was laid with red bricks; the roof raftered. A tiny
confessional like a sentry-box stood in one corner;
the font was covered with a lid like a wooden
steeple; and over the altar, upon which stood a
pair of battered brass candlesticks and two vases
of artificial flowers, hung a daub of the Holy Family,
All here was so cool, so quiet, that I sat down
for a few moments and rested. Presently an old
peasant woman trudged up the church-path with a
basket of vegetables on her head. Having set this
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 85
down in the porch, she came in, knelt before the
altar, said her simple prayers, and went her way.
Was it not time for me also to go my way? I
looked at my watch. It was past four o'clock, and
I had not yet found a lodging for the night.
I got up, somewhat unwillingly; but, attracted
by a tablet near the altar, crossed over to look at
it before leaving the church. It was a very small
slab, and bore a very brief German inscription to
this effect: —
To the Sacred Memory
THE REVEREND PERE CHESSEZ,
For twenty years the beloved Pastor of this Parish.
Died April 16th, 1825. Aged 44.
HE LIVED A SAINT ; HE DIED A MARTYR.
I read it over twice, wondering idly what story
was wrapped up in the concluding line. Then,
prompted by a childish curiosity, I went up to
examine the confessional.
It was, as I have said, about the size of a
sentry-box, and was painted to imitate old dark oak.
On the one side was a narrow door with a black
handle, on the other a little opening like a ticket-
taker's window, closed on the inside by a faded
I know not what foolish fancy possessed me, but,
almost without considering what I was doing, I turned
the handle and opened the door. Opened it —
86 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
peeped in — found the priest sitting in his place— ►
started back as if I had been shot — and stammered
an unintelligible apology.
"I — I beg a thousand pardons," I exclaimed. "I
had no idea — seeing the church empty "
He was sitting with averted face, and clasped
hands lying idly in his lap— a tall, gaunt man,
dressed in a black soutane. When I paused, and
not till then, he slowly, very slowly, turned his head,
and looked me in the face.
The light inside the confessional was so dim that
I could not see his features very plainly. I only ob-
served that his eyes were large, and bright, and wild-
looking, like the eyes of some fierce animal, and
that his face, with the reflection of the green curtain
upon it, looked lividly pale.
For a moment we remained thus, gazing at each
other, as if fascinated. Then, finding that he made
no reply, but only stared at me with those strange
eyes, I stepped hastily back, shut the door without
another word, and hurried out of the church.
I was very much disturbed by this little incident;
more disturbed, in truth, than seemed reasonable,
for my nerves for the moment were shaken. Never,
I told myself, never while I lived could I forget that
fixed attitude and stony face, or the glare of those
terrible eyes. What was the man's history? Of
what secret despair, of what life-long remorse, of
what wild unsatisfied longings was he the victim?
I felt I could not rest till I had learned something
of his past life.
Full of these thoughts, I went on quickly into
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 87
the town, half running across the field, and never
looking back. Once past the gateway and inside
the walls, I breathed more freely. The wain was
still standing in the shade, but the oxen were gone
now, and two men were busy forking out the clover
into a little yard close by. Having inquired of one
of these regarding an inn, and being directed to the
Krone, "over against the Frauenkirche," I made my
way to the upper part of the town, and there, at
one corner of a forlorn, weed-grown market-place,
I found my hostelry.
The landlord, a sedate, bald man in spectacles,
who, as I presently discovered, was not only an
inn-keeper but a clock-maker, came out from an
inner room to receive me. His wife, a plump, plea-
sant body, took my orders for dinner. His pretty
daughter showed me to my room. It was a large,
low, whitewashed room, with two lattice windows
overlooking the market-place, two little beds, covered
with puffy red eiderdowns at the farther end, and
an army of clocks and ornamental timepieces ar-
ranged along every shelf, table, and chest of drawers
in the room. Being left here to my meditations,
I sat down and counted these companions of my
Taking little and big together, Dutch clocks,
cuckoo clocks, chalet clocks, skeleton clocks, and
pendxdes in ormolu, bronze, marble, ebony, and ala-
baster cases, there were exactly thirty-two. Twenty-
eight were going merrily. As no two among them
were of the same opinion as regarded the time, and
as several struck the quarters as well as the hours,
88 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
the consequence was that one or other gave tongue
about every five minutes. Now, for a light and
nervous sleeper such as I was at that time, here
was a lively prospect for the night!
Going down-stairs presently with the hope of
getting my landlady to assign me a quieter room,
I passed two eight^day clocks on the landing, and a
third at the foot of the stairs. The public room
was equally well-stocked. It literally bristled with
clocks, one of which played a spasmodic version of
Gentle Zitella with variations every quarter of an
hour. Here I found a little table prepared by the
open window, and a dish of trout and a flask of
country wine awaiting me. The pretty daughter
waited upon me; her mother bustled to and fro with
the dishes; the landlord stood by, and beamed upon
me through his spectacles.
"The trout were caught this morning, about two
miles from here," he said, complacently.
"They are excellent," I replied, filling him out a
glass of wine, and helping myself to another. "Your
health, Herr Wirth."
"Thanks, mein Herr — yours."
Just at this moment two clocks struck at oppo-
site ends of the room — one twelve, and the other
seven. I ventured to suggest that mine host was
tolerably well reminded of the flight of time; where-
upon he explained that his work lay chiefly in the
repairing and regulating line, and that at that pre-
sent moment he had no less than one hundred and
eighteen clocks of various sorts and sizes on the
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 89
"Perhaps theHerr Englander is a light sleeper,"
said his quick-witted wife, detecting my dismay.
"If so, we can get him a bed-room elsewhere. Not,
perhaps, in the town, for I know no place where he
would be as comfortable as with ourselves; but just
outside the Friedrich's Thor, not five minutes' walk
from our door."
I accepted the offer gratefully.
"So long," I said, "as I ensure cleanliness and
quiet, I do not care how homely my lodgings
"Ah, you'll have both, mein Herr, if you go
where my wife is thinking of," said the landlord.
"It is at the house of our pastor — the Pere Ches-
"The Pere Chessez!" I exclaimed. "What, the
pastor of the little church out yonder?"
"The same, mein Herr."
"But — but surely the Pere Chessez is dead! I
saw a tablet to his memory in the chancel."
"Nay, that was our pastor's elder brother," replied
the landlord, looking grave. "He has been gone
these thirty years and more. His was a tragical
But I was thinking too much of the younger
brother just then to feel any curiosity about the
elder; and I told myself that I would put up with
the companionship of any number of clocks, rather
than sleep under the same roof with that terrible
face and those unearthly eyes.
"I saw your pastor just now in the church," I
Q0 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
said, with apparent indifference. "He is a singular-
"He is too good for this world," said the land-
"He is a saint upon earth!" added the pretty
"He is one of the best of men," said, more
soberly, the husband and father. "I only wish he
was less of a saint. He fasts, and prays, and works
beyond his strength. A little more beef and a
little less devotion would be all the better for
"I should like to hear something more about
the life of so good a man," said I, having by this
time come to the end of my simple dinner. "Come,
Herr Wirth, let us have a bottle of your best, and
then sit down and tell me your pastor's history!"
The landlord sent his daughter for a bottle of
the "green seal," and, taking a chair, said: —
"Ach Himmel! mein Herr, there is no history
to tell. The good father has lived here all his life.
He is one of us. His father, Johann Chessez, was
a native of Rheinfelden and kept this' very inn. He
was a wealthy farmer and vine-grower. He had
only those two sons — Nicholas, who took to the
church and became pastor of Feldkirche; and this
one, Matthias, who was intended to inherit the busi-
ness; but who also entered religion after the death
of his elder brother, and is now pastor of the same
"But why did he 'enter religion?'" I asked.
"Was he in any way to blame for the accident (if
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 9 1
It was an accident) that caused the death of his
"Ah Heavens! no!" exclaimed the landlady,
leaning on the back of her husband's chair. "It
was the shock — the shock that told so terribly upon
his poor nerves! He was but a lad at that time,
and as sensitive as a girl — but the Herr Englander
does not know the story. Go on, my husband."
So the landlord , after a sip of the " green seal,"
"At the time my wife alludes to, mein Herr,
Johann Chessez was still living. Nicholas, the elder
son, was in holy orders and established in the parish
of Feldkirche, outside the walls; and Matthias, the
younger, was a lad of about fourteen years old, and
lived with his father. He was an amiable good boy —
pious and thoughtful — fonder of his books than of
the business. The neighbour-folk used to say even
then that Matthias was cut out for a priest, like his
elder brother. As for Nicholas, he was neither more
nor less than a saint. Well, mein Herr, at this time
there lived on the other side of Rheinfelden, about
a mile beyond the Basel Thor, a farmer named
Caspar Rufenacht and his wife Margaret. Now Cas-
par Rufenacht was a jealous, quarrelsome fellow;
and the Frau Margaret was pretty; and he led her a
devil of a life. It was said that he used to beat
her when he had been drinking, and that some-
times, when he went to fair or market, he would
lock her up for the whole day in a room at the
top of the house. Well, this poor, ill-used Frau
Margaret — "
0,2 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
"Tut, tut, my man," interrupted the landlady.
"The Frau Margaret was a light one!"
"Peace, wife! Shall we speak hard words of the
dead 1 ? The Frau Margaret was young and pretty,
and a flirt; and she had a bad husband, who left
her too much alone."
The landlady pursed up her lips and shook her
head, as the best of women will do when the cha-
racter of another woman is under discussion. The
innkeeper went on.
"Well, mein Herr, to cut a long story short,
after having been jealous first of one and then of
another, Caspar Rufenacht became furious about a
certain German, a Badener named Schmidt, living
on the opposite bank of the Rhine. I remember
the man quite well — a handsome, merry fellow, and
no saint; just the sort to make mischief between
man and wife. Well, Caspar Rufenacht swore a
great oath that, cost what it might, he would come
at the truth about his wife and Schmidt; so he laid
all manner of plots to surprise them — waylaid the
Frau Margaret in her walks; followed her at a dis-
tance when she went to church; came home at un-
expected hours; and played the spy as if he had
been brought up to the trade. But his spying
was all in vain. Either the Frau Margaret was too
clever for him, or there was really nothing to dis-
cover; but still he was not satisfied. So he cast
about for some way to attain his end, and, by the
help of the Evil One, he found it."
Here the innkeeper's wife and daughter, who
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 93
had doubtless heard the story a hundred times over,
drew near and listened breathlessly.
"What, think you," continued the landlord, "does
this black-souled Caspar do? Does he punish the
poor woman within an inch of her life, till she con-
fesses? No. Does he charge Schmidt with having
tempted her from her duty, and fight it out with
him like a man? No. What else then? I will tell
you. He waits till the vigil of St. Margaret — her
saint's day — when he knows the poor sinful soul is
going to confession; and he marches straight to the
house of the Pere Chessez — the very house where
our own Pere Chessez is now living — and he finds
the good priest at his devotions in his little study,
and he says to him:
"'Father Chessez, my wife is coming to the
church this afternoon to make her confession to
"'She is,' replies the priest.
'"I want you to tell me all she tells you,' says
Caspar; 'and I will wait here till you come back
from the church, that I may hear it. Will you
"'Certainly not,' replies the Pere Chessez. 'You
must surely know, Caspar, that we priests are for-
bidden to reveal the secrets of the confessional.'
'"That is nothing to me,' says Caspar, with an
oath. 'I am resolved to know whether my wife is
guilty or innocent; and know it I will, by fair means
'"You shall never know it from me, Caspar,'
says the Pere Chessez, very quietly.
94 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
"'Then, by Heavens!' says Caspar, 'I'll learn it
Tor myself.' And with that he pulls out a heavy
horse-pistol from his pocket, and with the butt-end
of it deals the Pere Chessez a tremendous blow
upon the head, and then another, and another, till
the poor young man lay senseless at his feet. Then
Caspar, thinking he had quite killed him, dressed
himself in the priest's own soutane and hat; locked
the door; put the key in his pocket; and stealing
round the back way into the church, shut himself
up in the confessional."
"Then the priest died!" I exclaimed, remember-
ing the epitaph upon the tablet.
"Ay, mein Herr — the Pere Chessez died; but
not before he had told the story of his assassina-
tion, and identified his murderer."
"And Caspar Rufenacht, I hope, was hanged 1 ?"
"Wait a bit, mein Herr, we have not come to,
that yet. We left Caspar in the confessional, wait-
ing for his wife."
"And she came 1 ?"
"Yes, poor soul! she came."
"And made her confession?"
"And made her confession, mein Herr."
"What did she confess?"
The innkeeper shook his head.
"That no one ever knew, save the good God
and her murderer."
"Her murderer!" I exclaimed.
"Ay, just that. Whatever it was that she con-'
fessed, she paid for it with her life. He heard her
out, at all events, without discovering himself, and
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 95
let her go home believing that she had received
absolution for her sins. Those who met her that
afternoon said she seemed unusually bright and
happy. As she passed through the town, she went
into the shop in the Mongarten Strasse, and bought
some ribbons. About half an hour later, my own
father met her outside the Basel Thor, walking
briskly homewards. He was the last who saw her
"That evening (it was in October, and the days
were short), some travellers coming that way into
the town heard shrill cries, as of a woman screaming,
in the direction of Caspar's farm. But the night
was very dark, and the house lay back a little way
from the road; so they told themselves it was only
some drunken peasant quarrelling with his wife, and
passed on. Next morning Caspar Rufenacht came
toRheinfelden, walked very quietly into the Polizei,
and gave himself up to justice.
"'I have killed my wife,' said he. T have killed
the Pere Chessez. And I have committed sacri-
"And so, indeed, it was. As for the Frau Mar-
garet, they found her body in an upper chamber,
well-nigh hacked to pieces, and the hatchet with
which the murder was committed lying beside her
on the floor. He had pursued her, apparently, from
room to room; for there were pools of blood and
handfuls of long light hair, and marks of bloody
hands along the walls, all the way from the kitchen
to the spot where she lay dead,"
96 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
"And so he was hanged 1 ?" said I, coming back
to my original question.
"Yes, yes," replied the innkeeper and his woman-
kind in chorus. "He was hanged — of course he
"And it was the shock of this double tragedy
that drove the younger Chessez into the church 1 ?"
"Just so, mein Herr."
"Well, he carries it in his face. He looks like
a most unhappy man."
"Nay, he is not that, mein Herr!" exclaimed
the landlady. "He is melancholy, but not un-
"Well, then, austere."
"Nor is he austere, except towards himself."
"True, wife," said the innkeeper; "but, as I
said, he carries that sort of thing too far. You
understand, mein Herr," he added, touching his
forehead with his forefinger, "the good pastor has
let his mind dwell too much upon the past. He is
nervous — too nervous, and too low."
I saw it all now. That terrible light in his eyes
was the light of insanity. That stony look in his
face was the fixed, hopeless melancholy of a mind
"Does he know that he is mad 1 ?" I asked, as
the landlord rose to go.
He shrugged his shoulders and looked doubtful.
"I have not said that the Pere Chessez is mad,
mein Herr," he replied. "He has strange fancies
sometimes, and takes his fancies for facts — that is
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 97
all. But I am quite sure that he does not believe
himself to be less sane than his neighbours."
So the innkeeper left me, and I (my head full
of the story I had just heard) put on my hat, went
out into the market-place, asked my way to the Basel
Thor, and set off to explore the scene of the Frau
I found it without difficulty — a long, low-fronted,
beetle-browed farm-house, lying back a meadow's
length from the road. There were children playing
upon the threshold, a flock of turkeys gobbling
about the barn-door, and a big dog sleeping out-
side his kennel close by. The chimneys, too, were
smoking merrily. Seeing these signs of life and
cheerfulness, I abandoned all idea of asking to go
over the house. I felt that I had no right to carry
my morbid curiosity into this peaceful home; so I
turned away, and retraced my steps towards Rhein-
It was not yet seven, and the sun had still an
hour's course to run. I re-entered the town, strolled
back through the street, and presently came again
to the Friedrich's Thor and the path leading to the
church. An irresistible impulse seemed to drag
me back to the place.
Shudderingly, and with a sort of dread that was
half longing, I pushed open the churchyard gate
and went in. The doors were closed; a goat was
browsing among the graves; and the rushing of the
Rhine, some three hundred yards away, was dis-
tinctly audible in the silence. I looked round for
the priest's house — the scene of the first murder;
The Black Forest. 7
0,8 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
but from this side, at all events, no house was
visible. Going round, however, to the back of the
church, I saw a gate, a box-bordered path, and,
peeping through some trees, a chimney and the
roof of a little brown-tiled house.
This, then, was the path along which Caspar
Rufenacht, with the priest's blood upon his hands
and the priest's gown upon his shoulders, had taken
his guilty way to the confessional ! How quiet it
all looked in the golden evening light ! How like
the church-path of an English parsonage !
I wished I could have seen something more of
the house than that bit of roof and that one chimney.
There must, I told myself, be some other entrance
— some way round by the road! Musing and linger-
ing thus, I was startled by a quiet voice close against
my shoulder, saying: —
"A pleasant evening, mein Herr!"
I turned, and found the priest at my elbow.
He had come noiselessly across the grass, and was
standing between me and the sunset, like a shadow.
"I — I beg your pardon," I stammered, moving
away from the gate. "I was looking — "
I stopped in some surprise, and indeed with
some sense of relief, for it was not the same priest
that I had seen in the morning. No two, indeed,
could well be more unlike, for this man was small,
white-haired, gentle-looking, with a soft, sad smile
inexpressibly sweet and winning.
"You were looking at my arbutus?" he said.
I had scarcely observed the arbutus till now,
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. 99
but I bowed and said something to the effect that
it was an unusually fine tree.
"Yes," he replied; "but I have a rhododendron
round at the front that is still finer. Will you come
in and see it?"
I said I should be pleased to do so. He led
the way, and I followed.
"I hope you like this part of our Rhine-coun-
try 1 ?" he said, as we took the path through the
"I like it so well," I replied, "that if I were to
live anywhere on the banks of the Rhine , I should
certainly choose some spot on the Upper Rhine be-
tween Schaffhausen and Basle."
"And you would be right," he said. "Nowhere
is the river so beautiful. Nearer the glaciers it is
milky and turbid — beyond Basle it soon becomes
muddy. Here we have it blue as the sky — spark-
ling as champagne. Here is my rhododendron. It
stands twelve feet high, and measures as many in
diameter. I had more than two hundred blooms
upon it last Spring."
When I had duly admired this giant shrub, he
took me to a little arbour on a bit of steep green
bank overlooking the river, where he invited me to
sit down and rest. From hence I could see the
porch and part of the front of his little house; but
it was all so closely planted round with trees and
shrubs that no clear view of it seemed obtainable
in any direction. Here we sat for some time chat-
ting about the weather, the approaching vintage,
IOO IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
and so forth, and watching the sunset. Then I rose
to take my leave.
"I heard of you this evening at the Krone, mein
Herr," he said. "You were out, or I should have
called upon you. I am glad that chance has made
us acquainted. Do you remain over to-morrow 1 ?"
"No; I must go on to-morrow to Basle," I an-
swered. And then, hesitating a little, I added: —
"you heard of me, also, I fear, in the church."
"In the church 1 ?" he repeated.
"Seeing the door open, I went in — from curio-
sity — as a traveller; just to look round for a mo-
ment and rest."
"I — I had no idea, however, that I was not
alone there. I would not for the world have in-
"I do not understand," he said, seeing me
hesitate. "The church stands open all day long. It
is free to every one."
"Ah! I see he has not told you!"
The priest smiled but looked puzzled.
"He 1 ? Whom do you mean]"
"The other priest, mon pere — your colleague. I
regret to have broken in upon his meditations; but
I had been so long in the church, and it was all so
still and quiet, that it never occurred to me that
there might be some one in the confessional."
The priest looked at me in a strange, startled
"In the confessional!" he repeated, with a catch-
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. IOI
ing of his breath. "You saw some one — in the con-
"I am ashamed to say that, having thoughtlessly
opened the door — "
"You saw — what did you see?"
"A priest, mon pere."
"A priest! Can you describe him? Should you
know him again? Was he pale, and tall, and gaunt,
with long black hair?"
"The same, undoubtedly."
"And his eyes — did you observe anything par-
ticular about his eyes?"
"Yes; they were large, wild-looking, dark eyes,
with a look in them — a look I cannot describe."
"A look of terror!" cried the pastor, now greatly
agitated. "A look of terror — of remorse — of de-
"Yes, it was a look that might mean all that," I
replied, my astonishment increasing at every word.
"You seem troubled. Who is he?"
But instead of answering my question, the pastor
took off his hat, looked up with a radiant, awe-
struck face, and said: —
"All-merciful God, I thank Thee! I thank Thee
that I am not mad, and that Thou hast sent this
stranger to be my assurance and my comfort!"
Having said these words, he bowed his head,
and his lips moved in silent prayer. When he looked
up again, his eyes were full of tears.
"My son," he said, laying his trembling hand
upon my arm, "I owe you an explanation; but I
cannot give it to you now. It must wait till I can
102 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
speak more calmly — till to-morrow, when I must see
you again. It involves a terrible story — a story pe-
culiarly painful to myself — enough now if I tell you
that I have seen the Thing you describe — seen It
many times; and yet, because It has been visible to
my eyes alone , I have doubted the evidence of my
senses. The good people here believe that much
sorrow and meditation have touched my brain. I
have half believed it myself till now. But you — you
have proved to me that I am the victim of no illu-
"But in Heaven's name," I exclaimed, "what do
you suppose I saw in the confessional?"
"You saw the likeness of one who, guilty also
of a double murder, committed the deadly sin of
sacrilege in that very spot, more than thirty years
ago," replied the Pere Chessez, solemnly.
"Ah! you have heard the story? Then I am spared
the pain of telling it to you. That is well."
I bent my head in silence. We walked together
without another word to the wicket, and thence
round to the churchyard gate. It was now twilight,
and the first stars were out.
"Good-night, my son," said the pastor, giving
me his hand. "Peace be with you."
As he spoke the words his grasp tightened —
his eyes dilated — his whole countenance became
"Look!" he whispered. "Look where it goes!"
I followed the direction of his eyes, and there,
with a freezing horror which I have no words to
IN THE CONFESSIONAL. IO3
describe, I saw — distinctly saw through the deepen-
ing gloom — a tall, dark figure in a priest's soutane
and broad-brimmed hat, moving slowly across the
path leading from the parsonage to the church. For
a moment it seemed to pause — then passed on to
the deeper shade, and disappeared.
"You saw it?" said the pastor.
He drew a deep breath; crossed himself devoutly;
and leaned upon the gate, as if exhausted.
"This is the third time I have seen it this year,"
he said. "Again I thank God for the certainty
that I see a visible thing, and that His great gift of
reason is mine unimpaired. But I would that He
were graciously pleased to release me from the sight
— the horror of it is sometimes more than I know
how to bear. Good night."
With this he again touched my hand; and so,
seeing that he wished to be alone, I silently left
him. At the Friedrich's Thor I turned and looked
back. He was still standing by the churchyard
gate, just visible through the gloom of the fast
I never saw the Pere Chessez again. Save his
own old servant, I was the last who spoke with him
in this world. He died that night — died in his bed,
where he was found next morning with his hands
crossed upon his breast, and with a placid smile
upon his lips, as if he had fallen asleep in the act
104 IN THE CONFESSIONAL.
As the news spread from house to house, the
whole town rang with lamentations. The church-
bells tolled; the carpenters left their work in the
streets; the children, dismissed from school, went
"'Twill be the saddest Kermess in Rheinfelden
to-morrow, mein Herr!" said my good host of the
Krone, as I shook hands with him at parting. "We
have lost the best of pastors and of friends. He
was a saint. If you had come but one day later,
you would not have seen him!"
And with this he brushed his sleeve across his
eyes, and turned away.
Every shutter was up, every blind down, every
door closed, as I passed along the Friedrich's Strasse
about midday on my way to Basle; and the few
townsfolk I met looked grave and downcast. Then
I crossed the bridge and, having shown my pass-
port to the German sentry on the Baden side, I took
one long, last farewell look at the little walled town
as it lay sleeping in the sunshine by the river —
knowing that I should see it no more.
THE TRAGEDY IN
THE PALAZZO BARDELLO.
[The scene of this story is laid in the Rome of
fifteen years ago, when the old Pontifical regime
was yet in full force, and Victor Emanuel was
still King of Sardinia.]
THE TRAGEDY IN
THE PALAZZO BARDELLO.
The sun had been up for the best part of an
hour; the golden haze in the East was slowly melt-
ing away; the sluggish tide of bullock trucks had
fairly set in along the Via Sacra; and a faint,
universal stir of awakening life was to be felt rather
than heard in the pleasant morning air, when a
certain Englishman, Hugh Girdlestone by name,
rose from his lounging attitude against the parapet
of the Tower of the Capitol, and prepared to be
gone. He had been standing there in the same
spot, in the same attitude, since the first grey of the
dawn. He had seen the last star fade from the
sky. He had seen the shadowy Sabine peaks up-
lift themselves one by one, and the Campagna
emerge, like a troubled sea, from the mystery of
Rome with its multitudinous domes and bell-
towers, its history, its poetry, its fable, lay at his
feet — yonder the Coliseum, brown, vast, indistinct
against the light, with the blue day piercing its top-
most arches; to the left the shapeless ruins of the
I08 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
Palace of the C?esars; to the right, faintly visible
above the mist, the pyramid of Caius Cestius, beside
which, amid a wilderness of sweet wild violets, lie
the ashes of John Keats; nearer still, the sullen
Tiber eddying over the fast vanishing piers of the
Pons Emilius; nearest of all, the Forum, with its
excavations, its columns, its triumphal arches, its
scanty turf, its stunted acacias, its indescribable air
of repose and desolation; and beyond and around
all, the brown and broken Campagna, bounded on
the one hand by long chains of snow-streaked
Apennines, and on the other by a shining zone of
sea. A marvellous panorama! Perhaps, taking it
for all in all, the most marvellous panorama that
Europe has to show. Hugh Girdlestone knew every
feature of it by heart. He was familiar with every
crumbling tower and modern campanile, with every
space of open piazza, with every green enclosure,
with the site of every famous ruin and the outline
of every famous hill. It was his favourite haunt —
the one pageant of which his eyes and his imagina-
tion were never weary. He had seen the sun rise
and set upon that scene many and many a time,
both now and in years past. He might, in all
probability, stand in the same spot and witness the
same gorgeous spectacle to-morrow; and yet he
lingered there as fondly as if this visit were his
first, and left as reluctantly as if it were destined to
be his last.
Slowly and thoughtfully he went his way, out
through the spacious courtyard, past the bronze
horse and his imperial rider, down the great steps,
PALAZZO BARDELLO. IOO,
and along the Via Ara Coeli. Passing the church
of the Jesuits, he paused for a moment to listen to
the chanting. As he did so, a Campagna drover in
a rough sheepskin jacket stopped his truck to kneel
for a moment on the lowest step and then trudge
on again; and presently an Albano woman lifted
the ponderous leather curtain and came out, bring-
ing with her a momentary rush of rolling harmonies.
The Englishman listened and lingered, made as if
he would go in, and then, with something of a smile
upon his lip, turned hastily away. Going straight
on, with his head a little thrown forward and his
hat pulled somewhat low upon his brow, he then
pushed on at a swift, swinging stride, proceeding
direct to the post-office, and passing the Pantheon
without so much as a glance.
Manly, well-born, well-educated, gifted with a
more than ordinary amount of brains, and, perhaps,
with a more than ordinary share of insular stub-
bornness, Hugh Girdlestone was just one of those
men whom it does one good to meet in the streets
of a continental city. He was an Englishman
through and through; and he was precisely that
type of Englishman who commands the respect,
though seldom the liking, of foreigners. He ex-
pressed and held to his opinions with a decision
that they disliked intensely. His voice had a ring
of authority that grated upon their ears. His very
walk had in it something characteristic and resolute
that offended their prejudices. For his appearance,
it was as insular as his gait or his accent. He was
tall, strongly made, somewhat gaunt and swift-look-
I I O THE TRAGEDY IN THE
ing about the limbs, with a slight stoop in the
shoulders, and a trick of swinging his gloves in his
right hand as he went along. In complexion and
feature he was not unlike the earlier portraits of
Charles II. The lines of his face were less harsh,
and his skin was less swarthy; but there was the
same sarcastic play of lip, and now and then a flash
of the same restless fire in the eye.
Nor did the resemblance end here. It came
out strongest of all in a mere passing shadow of
expression — that expression of saturnine foreboding
which Walpole aptly defined as the "fatality of air"
common to the line of the Stuarts. The look was
one which came to his face but rarely — so rarely
that many of his intimate acquaintances had never
seen it there; but it started to the surface some-
times, like a hidden writing, and sometimes settled
like a darkness on his brow.
The main facts of his story up to the morning
of this day — this 13th day of February, 1857 — may
be told in a few lines.
He was the son of a wealthy Derbyshire squire,
had taken honours at Cambridge, and had been
called to the bar some four or five years back. As
yet he could scarcely be said to have entered actively
upon his professional life. He had written an able
treatise on the law of International Copyright, and
edited an important digest of Chancery practice.
He had also been for years in the habit of con-
tributing to the best periodical literature of the
day. Within the last four months, after a prolonged
opposition on the part of her nearest relatives, he
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I I I
had happily married a young lady of ancient Roman
Catholic family and moderate fortune, to whom he
had been attached from boyhood. They were spend-
ing a long honeymoon in Rome, and were perfectly
happy as a pair of lovers in a fairy tale. When it
is added that she was just twenty-two and he thirty-
four years of age, the outline of their little history
is made out with sufficient clearness for all the
purposes of this narrative.
Pushing on, then, at his eager pace, Hugh
Girdlestone came presently to the post-office and
inquired for his letters. There was but one — a
square, blue-looking, ill-favoured sort of document,
sealed with a big office seal and addressed in a
trim business hand. He had to show his passport
before the clerk would trust it beyond the bars of
the little cage in which he sat, and then it was
overweight, and he was called upon to pay forty-six
bajocchi for extra postage. This done — and it
seemed to him that the clerk was wilfully and
maliciously slow about it — Hugh Girdlestone crushed
the letter into an inner breast-pocket, and turned
away. At the door he hesitated, looked at his watch,
crossed over, withdrew into the shade of a neigh-
bouring porte-cochere, took his letter out again, and
tore it open.
It contained two enclosures; the one a note
from his publishers, the other a letter of credit upon
a great Roman banking-house. He drew a deep
breath of satisfaction. He had been expecting this
remittance for several days past, not altogether with
anxiety, for he was in no immediate need of money,
I I 2 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
but with some degree of impatience; for the fate of
more than one project was involved in the sum
which this letter of credit might chance to represent.
The extension of their tour as far as Naples, the
purchase of certain bronzes and cameos, and the
date of their return to England, were all dependent
upon it. It was no wonder, then, that Hugh Girdle-
stone's brow cleared at sight of the amount for
which he found himself entitled to draw upon the
princely establishment in the Piazza Venezia. It
exceeded his expectations by nearly one-half, and
made him a rich man for the next three months.
Having read the letter and folded the enclosure
carefully away in his pocket-book, he then struck off
in a north-easterly direction towards some of those
narrow thoroughfares that lie between the Tiber,
the Corso, and the Piazza di Spagna.
The streets were now beginning to be alive with
passengers. The shop-keepers were busy arranging
their windows; the vetturini were ranging themselves
in their accustomed ranks; the beggars were lazily
setting about their professional avocations for the
day; and the French regiments were turning out, as
usual, for morning parade on the Pincio. Here
and there a long-haired student might be seen with
his colour-box under his arm, trudging away to his
work of reproduction in some neighbouring gallery;
or a Guarda Nobile, cigarette en douche, riding
leisurely towards the Vatican. Here and there, too,
on the steps of the churches and at the corners of
the streets, were gathered little knots of priests and
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I I 3
mendicant friars, deep in pious gossip, and redolent
less of sanctity than of garlic.
But to Hugh Girdlestone these sights and sounds
were all too familiar to claim even passing atten-
tion. He went on his way, preoccupied and un-
observant, with a face of happy thoughtfulness and
a head full of joyous hopes and projects. Life had,
perhaps, never seemed so bright for him as at that
moment. The happy present was his own, and the
future with all its possible rewards and blessings lay,
as it were, unfolded before him. It was not often
that he was visited by a holiday mood such as this;
and, English as he was, he could scarcely forbear
smiling to himself as he went along. Coming pre-
sently, however, into a long picturesque street lined
with shops on both sides from end to end, he
slackened his pace, shook off his reverie, and began
loitering before the windows with the air of a pur-
Pausing now at a cameo-cutter's, now at a
mosaicisms, now at a jeweller's, hesitating between
the bronze medals in this window and the antique
gems in that, he came presently to one of those
shops for the sale of devotional articles, one or
more of which are to be found in almost every
street of Rome. Here were exquisitely carved ro-
saries in cedar and coral and precious stones, votive
offerings in silver and wax, consecrated palms,
coloured prints of saints and martyrs in emblematic
frames, missals, crosses, holy water vessels, and
wreaths of immortelles. Here also, occupying the
centre of the window and relieved against a stand
The Black Forest. 8
114 THE 'I'KAGEDY IN THE
of crimson cloth, stood an ivory crucifixion designed
after the famous Vandyck at Antwerp, and mea-
suring about ten inches in height. It was a little
gem in its way — a tiny masterpiece of rare and de-
Hugh Girdlestone had seen and admired it
many a time before, but never till now with any
thought of purchase. To-day, however, the aspect
of affairs was changed. His letter of credit trou-
bled his peace of mind and oppressed him with an
uneasy sense of wealth. He longed to buy some-
thing for his little bride at home, and he knew that
he could find nothing in all Rome which she would
prefer to this. She would appreciate it as a piece
of art, and prize it as a most precious adjunct to
her devotions. She would love it, too, for his dear
sake, and her eyes would rest upon it when she
prayed for him in her orisons. Dear, pious, tender
little heart! it should be hers, cost what it might.
He would take it home to her this very morning.
What pleasure to see the glad wonder in her eyes!
What pleasure to give her back smile for smile, and
kiss for kiss, when she should fly into his arms to
thank him for the gift!
So Hugh Girdlestone went in and bought it,
reckless of the breach it made in his purse, and
caring for nothing but the delight of gratifying what
he so dearly loved.
That he, an ultra-liberal thinker in all matters
religious and political, should select such a gift for
his wife, was just one of those characteristic traits
that essentially marked the man. Setting but slight
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 115
value on all forms of creeds, and ranking that of
the Romanist at a lower level than most, he could
yet feel a sort of indulgent admiration for the grace-
ful side of Roman Catholic worship. The flowers,
the music, the sculpture, the paintings, the per-
fumes, the gorgeous costumes, gratified his sense
of beauty; and, regarding these things from a
purely aesthetic point of view, he was willing to
admit that it was a pretty, poetical sort of religion
enough— for a woman.
Carrying the ivory carving carefully packed in
a little oblong box under his arm, Hugh Girdlestone
then hastened homewards with his purchase. It
was now ten o'clock, and all Rome was as full of
stir and life as at mid-day. His way lay through
the Piazza di Spagna, up the great steps, and on
through the Via Sistina, to a certain by-street near
the Quattro Fontane, where he and his little wife
occupied an upper floor in a small palazzo situated
upon one of the loftiest and healthiest points of the
Quirinal Hill. As he neared the spot, a sense of
pleasurable excitement came upon him. He smiled,
unconsciously to himself, and, scarcely knowing that
he did so, quickened his pace at every step. To
the accustomed beggar at the corner he flung a
double dole in the joyousness of his heart; to a lean
dog prowling round the cortile, a biscuit that chanced
to be in his pocket. Happiness disposes some
people to benevolence, and Hugh Girdlestone was
one of that number.
Up he went — up the broad stone staircase which
served as a general thoroughfare to the dwellers in
Il6 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
the Palazzo Bardello; past the first landing, with its
English footman, insolently discontent, lolling against
the half-opened door; past the second landing, fra-
grant with flowers, the temporary home of a wealthy
American family; past the third, where, in an at-
mosphere of stormy solfeggi, lived an Italian tenor
and his wife; and on, two steps at a time, to the
fourth, where all that he loved best in life awaited
his coming! There he paused. His own visiting
card was nailed upon the door, and under his name,
in a delicate female hand, was written that of his
wife. Happy Hugh Girdlestone! There was not a
lighter heart in Rome at that moment when, having
delayed an instant to take breath before going in,
he pulled out his latch-key, opened the gates of his
paradise, and passed into the shady little vestibule
At the door of the salon he was met by Mar-
gherita, their Roman servant — a glorious creature
who looked as if she might have been the mother
of the Gracchi, but who was married, instead, to an
honest water-carrier down by the Ripetta, and was
thankful to go out to service for some months every
"Hush!" she whispered, with her finger on her
lip. "She sleeps still."
The breakfast lay on the table, untouched and
ready; the morning sunshine flamed in at the win-
dows; the flowers on the balcony filled the air of
the room with a voluptuous perfume. It was a day
of days — a day when to be still in bed seemed
almost like a sacrilege — a day when, above all
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I I 7
others, one should be up, and doing, and revelling
in the spring-time of the glad new year.
Hugh Girdlestone could scarcely believe that
Margherita was in earnest.
"Sleeps!" he repeated. "What do you mean?"
"I mean that the Signora has not yet rung her
"But is she still in bed?"
"Still in bed, Signore, and sleeping soundly. I
stole in about half-an-hour ago, and she never heard
me. I would not wake her. Sleep is a blessed
thing — the good God sends it."
The Englishman laughed and shrugged his
"One may have too much, even of a blessing,
my good Margherita," he said. "/ shall wake her,
at all events, and she will thank me for doing so.
See — I have something here worth the opening of
one's eyes to look upon!"
Margherita clasped her hands in an ecstasy of
"Ctelo!" she exclaimed. "How beautiful!"
He placed the carving on a stand of red cloth,
and then, going over to the balcony, gathered a
handful of orange blossoms and crimson azalias.
"We must decorate our altar with flowers, Mar-
gherita," he said, smiling. "Fetch me those two
white vases from the chimney-piece in the ante-
The vases were brought, and he arranged his
bouquets as tenderly and gracefully as a woman
might have arranged them. This done, he stole to
I T 8 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
the bedroom door, opened it noiselessly, and
All within was wrapt in a delicious, dreamy
dusk. The jalousies were closed and the inner
blinds drawn down; but one window stood a few
inches open, admitting a soft breath of morning
air, and now and then a faint echo from the world
beyond. He advanced very cautiously. He held
his breath — he stole on a step at a time — he would
not have roused her for the world till all was ready.
At the dressing-table he paused and looked round.
He could just see the dim outline of her form in
the bed. He could just see how one little hand
rested on the coverlet, and how her hair lay like
a lustrous cloud upon the pillow. Very carefully
he then removed her dressing-case and desk from a
tiny table close by, carried it to the side of the bed,
and placed it where her eyes must first meet it on
waking. He next crept back to the salon for the
ivory carving; then for the flowers; and then arranged
them on the table like the decorations of a minia-
And all this time she neither woke nor stirred.
At last, his pretty little preparations being all
complete, the young husband, careful even now not
to startle her too rudely, gently unclosed the ja-
lousies, drew aside the blinds, and filled the room
"Ethel," he said. "Ethel, do you know how
late it is?"
But Ethel still slept on.
He moved a step nearer. Her face was turned
PALAZZO BARBELLO. I IQ
to the pillow; but he could see the rounded outline
of her cheek, and it struck him that she looked
strangely pale. His heart gave a great throb; his
breath came short; a nameless terror — a terror of
he knew not what — fell suddenly upon him.
"Ethel!" he repeated. "My darling — my dar-
He sprang to the bedside — he hung over her —
he touched her hand, her cheek, her neck — then
uttered one wild, despairing cry, and staggered back
against the wall.
She was dead.
Not fainting. No; not even in the first horror
of that moment did he deceive himself with so
vain a hope. She was dead, and he knew that she
was dead. He knew it with as full and fixed a
sense of conviction as if he had been prepared for
it by months of anxiety. He did not ask himself
why it was so. He did not ask himself by what
swift and cruel disease — by what mysterious acci-
dent, this dread thing had come to pass. He only
knew that she was dead; and that all the joy, the
hope, the glory of life was gone from him for ever.
A long time, or what seemed like a long time,
went by thus; he leaning up against the wall, voice-
less, tearless, paralysed, unable to think, or move,
or do anything but stare in a blank, lost way at
the bed on which lay the wreck of his happiness.
By-and-by — it might have been half an hour or
an hour later — he became dimly conscious of a
sound of lamentation; of the presence of many
persons in the room; of being led away like a child,
120 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
and placed in a chair beside an open window;
and of Margherita kneeling at his feet and covering
his hands with tears. Then, as one who has been
stunned by some murderous blow, he recovered by
degrees from his stupor.
"Salimbeni," he said, hoarsely.
It was the first word he had spoken.
"We have sent for him, Signore," sobbed Mar-
gherita. "But— but— "
He lifted his hand, and turned his face aside.
"Hush!" he replied. "I know it."
Signor Salimbeni was a famous Florentine sur-
geon who lived close by in the Piazza Barberini,
and with whom Hugh Girdlestone had been on
terms of intimacy for the last four or five months.
Almost as his name was being uttered, he arrived;
— a tall, dark, bright-eyed man of about forty years
of age, with something of a military bearing. His
first step was to clear the place of intruders — of
the English family from the first floor, of the
Americans from the second, of the Italian tenor
and his wife, and of the servants who had crowded
up en masse from every part of the house. He
expelled them all, civilly but firmly; locked the
door behind the last; and went alone into the
chamber of death. Hugh Girdlestone followed him,
dull-eyed, tongue-tied, bewildered, like a man half
roused from sleep.
The surgeon bent silently over the corpse;
turned the poor white face to the light; held a
mirror to the lips; touched the passive hand; lifted
first one eyelid, then the other; and felt for the last
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 121
lingering spark of vital heat on the crown of the
head. Then he shook his head.
"It is quite hopeless, my friend," he said gently.
"Life has been extinct for some two hours or more."
"But the cause?"
Signor Salimbeni slightly shrugged his shoulders.
"Impossible to tell," he replied, "without a
The widower buried his face in his hands and
"Whether the seat of this mischief be in the
brain," continued Signor Salimbeni, "or whether, as
I am more inclined to suspect, it should be sought
in the heart . . ."
He broke off abruptly— so abruptly, and with
such a change of voice, that Hugh Girdlestone was
startled from his apathy. He looked up, and saw
the surgeon staring down with a face of ashy horror
at the corpse upon the bed.
"Dio!" he faltered. "What is this?"
He had laid back the collar of the nightdress
.and bared the beautiful white bosom beneath; and
there, just above the region of the heart, like a
mere speck upon a surface of pure marble, was
visible a tiny puncture — a spot so small, so in-
significant, that but for a pale violet discoloration
spreading round it like a halo, it would perhaps
have escaped observation altogether.
"What is this?" he repeated. "What does it
• Hugh Girdlestone answered never a word, but
stood in stony silence with his eyes fixed on the
122 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
fatal spot. Then he stooped, looked into it more
narrowly, shuddered, rose once again to his full
height, and less with his breath than by the motion
of his lips, shaped out the one word: —
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 123
It was the most mysterious crime that had been
committed in Rome since the famous murder in
the Coliseum about seven years before. The whole
city rang with it. Even the wretched little local
newspapers, the Giornale di Roma, the Diario Romano,
and the Vero Amico del Popolo, made space, amid
the more pressing claims of Church festivals, pro-
vincial miracles, and the reporting of homilies, to
detail some few scanty particulars of the "fragedia
deplorabile" in the Palazzo Bardello. Each, too,
hinted its own solution to the enigma. The Diario
inclined to the suicidal point of view; the Giornale.
more politically wise than its contemporaries, pointed
a significant finger towards Sardinia; the Vero Amico,
under cover of a cloud of fine phrases, insinuated
a suspicion of Hugh Girdlestone himself. At every
table-d'hote and every artist's club, at the public
reading rooms, in the studios, in the cafes, and at
every evening party throughout Rome, it was the
In the meanwhile such feeble efforts as it is in
the nature of a Pontifical Government to make were
put forward for the discovery of the murderer. A
post-mortem examination was appointed; official
consultations were held; official depositions were
drawn up; pompous gendarmes clanked perpetually
124 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
up and down the staircase and courtyard of the
Palazzo Bardello; and every one about the place
who could possibly be supposed to have anything
to say upon the subject was summoned to give
evidence. But in vain. Days went by, weeks went
by, and the mystery remained impenetrable as ever.
Passing shadows of suspicion fell here and there-
on Margherita, on a Corsican courier in the service
of the American family, on Hugh Girdlestone; but
they rested scarcely at all, and vanished away as a
breath from a surface of polished steel.
In the meanwhile, Ethel Girdlestone was laid to
rest in a quiet little Roman Catholic cemetery be-
yond the walls — a lonely, picturesque spot, over-
looking the valley of the Tiber and the mountains
about Fidenae. A plain marble cross and a wreath
of immortelles marked the place of her grave. For
a week or two the freshly-turned mould looked drear
and desolate under the Spring sunshine; but the
grass soon sprang up again, and the wild crocuses
struck root and blossomed over it; and by that time
Rome had found some fresh subject for gossip, and
the fate of Ethel Girdlestone was well nigh forgotten.
There was one, however, who forgot nothing—
who, the first torpor of despair once past, lived only
to remember and avenge. He offered an enormous
reward for the apprehension of the unknown mur-
derer. He papered Rome with placards. He gave
himself up, body and brain, to the task of discovery,
and felt that for this, and this only, he could con-
tinue to bear the burden of life. As the chances of
success seemed to grow daily more and more un-
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I 25
certain, his purpose but became the more assured.
He would have justice; meaning by justice, blood
for blood, a life for a life. And this at all costs, at
all risks, at all sacrifices. He took a solemn oath
to devote, if need be, all the best years of his life,
all the vigour of his mind, all the strength of his
manhood, to this one desperate end. For it he was
ready to endure any privation, or to incur any per-
sonal danger. For it, could his purpose have been
thereby assured, he would have gladly died at any
hour of the day or night. As it was, he trained
himself to the work with a patience that was never
He studied to acquire the dialects, and to fami-
liarise himself with the habits, of the lowest quarters
of Rome. He frequented the small wine-shops of
the Trastevere and the Rione St. Angelo. He
mastered the intricacies of the Ghetto. He haunted
the street fountains, the puppet-shows, and the quays
of Ripa Grande. Wherever, in short, the Roman
people were to be found in fra di loro, whether
gossiping, gaming, quarrelling, or holiday-making,
there Hugh Girdlestone made his way, mingled with
them, listened, observed, and waited like a trapper
for his prey. It was a task of untold peril and dif-
ficulty, made all the more perilous and difficult by
the fact of his being a foreigner. Fluent Italian as
he was, it was still not possible that he should per-
fectly master all the slang of the Rione, play at morra
and zecchinetta as one to the manner born, or be
at all times equal to the part which he had under-
taken. He was liable at any moment to betray him-
126 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
self, and to be poniarded for a spy. He knew each
time he ventured into certain quarters of the city
that his body might be floating down towards Ostia
before daybreak, or that he might quite probably
disappear from that moment, and never be seen or
heard of more. Yet, strong in his purpose and reck-
less of his life, he went, and came, and went again,
penetrating into haunts where the police dared not
set foot, and assuming in these excursions the dress
and dialect of a Roman "rough" of the lowest order.
Thus disguised, and armed with a deadly patience
that knew neither weariness nor discouragement,
Hugh Girdlestone pursued his quest. How, despite
every precaution, he contrived to escape detection
was matter for daily wonder, even to himself. He
owed his safety, however, in great measure to a
sullen manner and a silent tongue — perhaps in some
degree to his southern complexion; to his black
beard and swarthy skin, and the lowering fire in
Thus the Spring passed away, the Summer heats
came on, and the wealthier quarters of Rome were,
as usual, emptied of their inhabitants. The foreign
visitors went first; then the Italian nobility; and then
all those among the professional and commercial
classes who could afford the healthful luxury of
villeggiatura. Meanwhile, Hugh Girdlestone was the
only remaining lodger in the Palazzo Bardello. Day
by day he lingered on in the deserted city, wander-
ing through the burning streets and piazzas, and
down by the river-side, where the very air was heavy
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 1-27
Night after night he perilled life and limb in the
wine-shops of the Trastevere; and still in vain. Still
the murderer remained undiscovered and the mur-
dered unavenged; still no clue, nor vestige of a clue,
turned up. The police, having grown more and
more languid in the work of investigation, ceased,
at last, from further efforts. The placards became
defaced, or were pasted over with fresh ones. By-
and-by the whole story faded from people's memories;
and save by one who, sleeping or waking, knew no
other thought, the famous "tragedia deplorabile" was
Thus the glowing Summer and sultry Autumn
dragged slowly by. The popular festivals on Monte
Testaccio were celebrated and over; the harvest was
gathered in; the virulence of the malaria abated;
the artists nocked back to their studios, the middle-
class Romans to their homes, the nobles to their
palaces. Then the Pope returned from Castel Gon-
dolfo, and the annual tide of English and American
visitors set in. By the first Sunday in Advent, Rome
was already tolerably well filled; and on the even-
ing of that same Sunday an event took place which
threw the whole city into confusion, and caused a
clamour of dismay even louder than that which
followed the murder of Ethel Girdlestone ten months
128 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
A knot of loungers stood, talking eagerly, round
the stove in Piale's reading-room. It was on the
Monday morning following the first Sunday in Ad-
vent, and still quite early. None were reading, or
attempting to read. The newspapers lay unopened
on the tables. Even the last Times contained no-
thing so exciting as the topic then under discus-
"It is to be hoped and expected that the Govern-
ment will bestir itself in earnest this time," said a
bald-headed Englishman, standing with his back to
"Hope is one thing, my dear sir, and expecta-
tion is another," replied his nearest neighbour.
"When you have lived in Rome as long as myself,
you will cease to expect anything but indifference
from the bureaucracy of the Papal States."
"But a crime of this enormity . . ."
"Is more easily hushed up than investigated,
especially when the sufferers are in a humble sta-
tion of life, and cannot offer a large reward to the
"Mr. Somerville puts the question quite fairly,"
observed another gentleman. "There is nothing
like public spirit to be found throughout the length
and breadth of His Holiness's dominions."
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 120,
"Nor justice either, it would seem, unless one
can pay for it handsomely," added another.
"Nay, your long purse is not always your short
cut to justice, even in Rome," said Mr. Somerville.
"There was that case of the young bride who was
murdered last Winter in the Palazzo Bardello. Her
husband offered an immense reward — a thousand
guineas English, I believe — and yet the mystery was
never cleared up."
"Ay, that Palazzo Bardello murder was a tragic
affair," said the bald-headed Englishman; "more
tragic, on the whole, than . . . ."
A sudden change of expression swept over his
face, and he broke off in the midst of his sen-
"By Jove!" he exclaimed, "I feel as if I were
on the brink of a discovery."
"Plunge away, then, my dear fellow," laughed
Somerville. "What is it?"
"Well, then — what if both these murders had
been committed by the same hand 1 ?"
"Most unlikely, I should think," said one.
"Altogether improbable," added another.
"Do you opine that Othello smothered the
princes in the Tower?" asked a third.
"Listen to my premises before you laugh at my
conclusions," said he of the bald head, obviously
nettled by the general incredulity. "Look at the
details: they are almost identical. In each case the
victim is stabbed to the heart; in each case the
wound is almost imperceptibly small. There is no
effusion of blood; no robbery is committed; and
The Black Forest. 9
130 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
no trace of the assassin remains. I'd stake my
head upon it that these are not purely accidental
"I beg your pardon," said a gentleman, who
till now had been standing by a window at the
further end of the room with his back to the
speakers; "but will you have the goodness to inform
me in what part of Rome this — this murder has
been committed 1 ?"
"Down, I believe, in one of the narrow lanes
near the theatre of Marcellus."
"And the victim is a Roman subject 1 ?"
"The child of Roman parents."
"A child, sir; a little fellow of only eleven
years of age , and the son of a baker named Tom-
The stranger took out his note-book.
"Near the theatre of Marcellus," he said, scrib-
bling a rapid entry.
"Just so — a most shocking and mysterious af-
"And the name, Tommaseo. Many thanks.
With this he lifted his hat, strode from the
room, and vanished without another word.
"Humph! an abrupt sort of fellow," said the
first speaker. "I wonder who he is?"
"He looks horribly ill," said another.
"I've met him before," mused Somerville. "I
remember the face quite well, but the name has
altogether escaped my memory. Good heavens! it
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 13I
is Mr. Girdlestone — the husband of that very lady
who was murdered in the Palazzo Bardello!"
In the meanwhile Hugh Girdlestone was swing-
ing along at his tremendous pace towards that
quarter where the murder had been perpetrated.
He found the house without difficulty, at the end
of a narrow Vicolo about half-way between the
Portico of Octavia and the Theatre of Marcellus.
There was a crowd before the door, and a dis-
mounted dragoon pacing up and down with his
sabre under his arm. Over the shop window was
suspended a board, on which were inscribed, in
faded red letters, the words "Antico Forno;" and
at this window, where still lay unsold some three
or four stale rolls of Saturday's baking, an old
woman every now and then made her appear-
ance, and addressed wild lamentations to the by-
"Alas! alas!" she cried, tossing her arms aloft
like a withered Cassandra. "He was the light of
our eyes! He was our darling, our sunshine, our
pride! He was as good as an angel. He never
told a lie in his life. Everybody loved him! At
this hour yesterday his laugh made music in the
house, and our hearts leaped for joy to hear it.
We shall never hear that voice again — never, never
more, till we hear it in heaven! He is dead! He
is dead, and the blessed Virgin has him in her care.
But his murderer lives. Oh Dw, hear it! Hear it,
O blessed mother of God! Hear it, thou blessed
Saint Stefano! Overtake him with your vengeance!
132 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
Let his tongue wither, and his eyes melt away in
blood! Let his hands and feet rot upon his body!
Let his flesh drop piece-meal from his bones! Let
him die unconfessed and unabsolved, and give him
over to the everlasting fire!"
"No stranger is allowed to pass, Signore," said
the dragoon, interposing his person between the
Englishman and the door.
But Hugh Girdlestone had only to open his
pocket-book and show a certain slip of paper signed
by the chief of the police. It was a magical docu-
ment, and admitted him to all kinds of forbidden
He went in. In the outer room, or shop, he
found some eight or ten persons assembled, ap-
parently relatives and friends of the family; in a
darkened room beyond, the body of a young child
was laid out upon a narrow pallet strewn with im-
mortelles and set round with lighted candles. The
father, a sickly-looking man, with eyes red and
swollen from weeping, was sitting upon a low stool,
in a farther corner of the room, his elbows resting
on his knees, and his chin upon his hands, smok-
ing drearily. The mother lay crouched on the floor
beside the bed, in a stupor of misery.
Hugh Girdlestone apologised for his intrusion
with a word or two of explanation and sympathy.
The woman never stirred. The man took his pipe
from his mouth, rose respectfully, and replied to
such questions as his visitor thought fit to put to
The child's name, he said, was Stefan o — Stefa-
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 1 33
nino, they used to call him. He was their only-
child, and would have been eleven years of age in
the course of a few more days. He was a par-
ticularly good boy, and as clever as he was good.
He was a great favourite with the Padre Lorenzo —
the famous Padre Lorenzo of whom the Signore
had doubtless heard. This Padre Lorenzo had
taken an especial affection for the little Stefanino,
and had himself prepared the boy for his first com-
munion. And he took it only yesterday morning —
took it at the church of II Gesu, from the hands of
Monsignore di Montalto. It was a long ceremony.
There were six hundred children present, and their
Stefanino was among the last who went up. When
it was over they came home and dined, and after
dinner they went for a walk on the Monte Pincio.
Coming back they hired a vettura, for the child was
very tired; and as soon as they reached home his
mother gave him a cup of soup and a piece of
bread, and put him to bed. This was about half-
past six o'clock.
A little later in the evening — perhaps about a
quarter past seven — he and his wife and his wife's
mother went over to see a neighbour in the Via
Fiumara close by. They left the child asleep.
They had often left him so before, especially on
Sunday evenings, and no harm had come of it.
The wife of the shoemaker who occupied the first
floor had promised to listen if he should wake or
call for anything; and she was a good soul, and
had children of her own. Ebbene, they stayed out
somewhat late — later than usual, for the neighbour
134 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
in the Via Fiumara had her married daughter
spending the evening with her, and they stayed
gossiping till past ten o'clock. Then they came
home. The shoemaker and his family were gone
to bed; but the house-door was left, as usual, on
the latch, and the matches and candle were in their
accustomed corner in the passage. So they lit the
candle, and fastened the door, and stole in very
softly; for little Stefanino was a light sleeper, and
apt to lie awake for hours if accidentally roused.
However, this time, although the grandmother
stumbled over the scaldino on first going into the
room, he never turned or stirred. He slept in a
little crib beside their own bed, and after a few
minutes they went to look at him. He was very
pale; but then he had gone through a day of great
fatigue and excitement, and was unusually tired.
They never dreamed, at first sight, that all was not
well with him. It was his mother who discovered
it. She first saw that no breath parted his dear
lips — she first touched his cheek, and found it
When he reached this point in his narrative, the
poor baker fairly broke down, and covered his face
with his hands.
"Eccolo, Signore," he sobbed. "He was our
only little one!"
"He is with God," said Hugh Girdlestone.
He could think of nothing else to say. He was
not a religious man. He was, on the contrary, a
worldly, a careless, perhaps even a somewhat hard
man; and he had no words of ready comfort and
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I 35
sympathy at command. But he was moved, and
his emotion showed itself in his voice.
"Alas! God did not want him so much as we
wanted him," was the naive reply.
The mother, who till now had lain huddled on
the floor, apparently unconscious of all that was
going forward, here suddenly lifted up her head.
"The good God and our Blessed Lady had him
always," she said, hoarsely. "He was in their hands
from the hour when I brought him into the world,
and he is not more theirs in heaven than he was
theirs on earth. But they did not call him from
us. It is not God but man who has bereaved us,
and left us desolate. Behold!"
And with this she rose to her feet, turned down
the sheet, and uncovered the wound — just such a
tiny puncture, with just such a ghastly halo spread-
ing round it, as Hugh Girdlestone had awful cause
He could not bear to look upon it. He shud-
dered and turned his face aside.
"Is there — is there anyone whom you suspect?"
"Have you an enemy 1 ?"
The baker shook his head.
"I think not," he replied. "I am at peace with
all my neighbours."
"Was no one seen to enter the house in your
"No one, Signore."
"Did the shoemaker's wife hear no sound?"
I36 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
"And you have been robbed of nothing 1 ?"
"Not to the value of a quattrino."
The Englishman's heart sank within him. He
felt profoundly discouraged. The double mystery
seemed doubly impenetrable, and his double task
doubly hopeless. He turned again to the little bed,
and took one long, last look at the waxen figure
with its folded hands and funeral chaplets.
"What is this?" he asked, pointing to a white
silk scarf fringed with gold which lay folded across
the feet of the corpse.
The mother snatched it up, and covered it with
" It is the scarf he wore yesterday when he went
up to take his first communion," she replied. "The
Padre Lorenzo gave it to him. Alas! alas! how
beautiful he looked, dressed in all his best, with
new buckles in his shoes and this scarf tied over
one shoulder! The little angels painted over the
altar did not look more beautiful!"
"The Padre Lorenzo!" repeated Hugh Girdle-
stone. "He taught the child, you say, and loved
him. Does he know this 1 ?"
"Yes, he knows it."
It was the man who replied. The woman had
sunk down again upon the floor, and hidden her
"Has he been to see you since?"
"He sent a priest this morning to pray for the
repose of our little one's soul."
PALAZZO BARDFXLO. 137
Tommaseo's quick Italian ear detected the shade
of disapproval in his visitor's voice.
"The Padre Lorenzo is a saint," he said, eagerly.
"All Rome flocks to hear him preach."
"Where is he to be found, amico?"
"At the convent of the Gesuiti close by."
"So!— a Jesuit?"
"A Jesuit, Signore; so eloquent, so learned, so
holy, and yet so young— so young! A holier man
does not live. Though his body still walks upon
earth, his soul already lives in heaven."
"I should like to see him," mused the English-
man. "He might suggest something — these Jesuits
are keen and far-sighted; at all events, it is worth
the effort. I will go round to the Gesuiti, amico, to
hear if your good padre can help us."
"Our blessed Lady and all the saints reward you,
dear Signore!" exclaimed the poor father, humbly
attempting to kiss the hand which Hugh Girdle-
stone extended to him at parting.
But the Englishman snatched it hastily away.
"Nay, nay," he said, roughly. "I have my
own motive — my own wrong. No thanks — no
And with a quick gesture, half deprecation, half
farewell, he was gone.
138 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
Vast, sombre, dimly lighted, splendid with pre-
cious marbles and rich in famous altar-pieces, the
church of II Gesu wore that day an aspect of even
gloomier grandeur than usual. Before the chapel of
Saint Ignazio, a considerable crowd was assembled.
All were listening devoutly. The dropping of a
pin might have been heard among them. There
had been no service. There was no music. No
perfume of incense lingered on the air. It was
simply a week-day discourse that was in process of
delivery, and the preacher was Padre Lorenzo.
As Hugh Girdlestone went up the steps and
lifted the heavy leathern portiere, he suddenly re-
membered how, on that other fatal morning of the
thirteenth of February last, he had paused upon
those very steps, listening to the chanting and half-
disposed to enter. Why had he not followed that
impulse? He could not tell. Why need the coin-
cidence startle him now 1 ? He could not tell that,
either. It was but a coincidence, commonplace and
natural enough — and yet it troubled him.
He went in.
The chapel was small and held but few seats,
and the crowd spread far out into the body of the
church, so that the new comer had to take up his
position on the outskirts of the congregation. From
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 139
this place he could hear, but not see the preacher.
Finding it impossible, however, to work his way-
nearer without disturbing others, he contented him-
self with listening.
The voice of the preacher was low and clear,
and sounded like the voice of a young man; but it
rose every now and then to a higher key, and that
higher key jarred somewhat harshly upon the ear.
The subject of his discourse was death. He held it up
to his hearers from every point of view — as a terror;
as a reward; as a punishment; as a hope beside which
all other hopes were but as the shadows of shadows.
He compared the last moments of the just man
with those of the sinner. He showed under what
circumstances death was robbed of its sting and
the grave of its victory. To the soldier falling on
the field, to the martyr consuming at the stake,
death was glory; to the sick and the heartbroken it
was peace; to the philosopher, infinite knowledge;
to the poor, infinite wealth; to all faithful Christians,
joy everlasting. Happy, he said, were those who
died young, for they had not lived to accumulate
the full burden of human sin; happier still those
who died penitent, since for them was reserved the
special mercy of Heaven.
"But what," he said — and here his voice rose
to a strange pitch of tremulous exaltation — "but
what shall we say to this event which is to-day on
every man's tongue 1 ? What shall we say to the
death of this little child — this little child who but
yesterday partook of his first communion in this
very church, and whose fate is even now moving
14° THE TRAGEDY IN THE
all hearts to indignation and pity? Was ever pity
so mistaken? Was ever death so happily timed?
In the first bloom of his innocence, in the very
moment of his solemn reception into the bosom of
our holy Church, sinless, consecrated, absolved, he
passed, pure as an angel, into the presence of his
Maker. Had he lived but one day longer, he had
been less pure. Had he lived to his full term of
years, who shall say with what crimes his soul
might not have been blackened? He might have
lived to become a heretic, an atheist, a blasphemer.
He might have died with all his sins upon his head,
an outcast upon earth, and an outcast from heaven!
Who then shall dare to pity him? Which among
us shall not envy him? Has he not gone from
earth to heaven, clothed in a wedding garment,
like a guest to the banquet of the saints? Has he
not gone with the chaplet on his brow, the ring
upon his finger, the perfume of the incense yet
clinging to his hair, the wine of Christ yet fresh
upon his lips? Silence, then, Oh ye of little
faith ! Why grieve that another voice is given to the
heavenly choir? Why lament that another martyr
is added to the noble army of the Lord? Let us
rejoice rather than weep. Let our requiems be
changed for songs of praise and thanksgiving.
Shall we pity him that he is beyond the reach of
sorrow? Shall we shudder at the fate that has
given him to Paradise? Shall we even dare to
curse the hand that sent him thither? May not
that very hand have been consecrated to the task?
— have been guided by the finger of God? — have
PALAZZO BARDELLO. I4I
been inspired by a strength a wisdom
no murderer; but a priest a priest of the
tabernacle it was the voice of God
a voice from Heaven saying "
He faltered — became inarticulate — stopped.
A sudden confusion fell upon the congregation;
a sudden murmur rose and filled the church. In
an instant all were moving, speaking, gesticulating;
in an instant Hugh Girdlestone was pushing his
way towards the chapel.
And the preacher"? Tall, slender, wild-eyed,
looking utterly helpless and bewildered, he stood
before his hearers, unable, as it seemed, to speak
or think. He looked quite young — about twenty-
eight, or it might be thirty years, of age — but worn
and haggard, as one that had prayed and fasted
overmuch. Seeing Hugh Girdlestone push through
the crowd and stand suddenly before him, he shrank
back like a hunted creature, and began trembling
"At last! at last!" gasped the Englishman. "Con-
fess it, murderer; confess it, before I strike you
dead with my own hands!"
The priest put his hand to his head. His lips
moved, but no utterance came.
"Do you know who I am?" continued Hugh, in
a deep, hoarse voice that trembled with hatred.
"Do you know who I am"? I am the husband of
Ethel Girdlestone — that Ethel Girdlestone who used
to come to this very church to confess to you — to
you, who slew her in her bed as you yesterday slew
142 THE TRAGEDY IN THE
a little child that loved you. Devil! I remember
you now. Why did 1 not suspect you sooner?"
"Hush!" said a grave voice in his ear. "Does
the Signore forget in Whose house we are 1 ?"
It was another priest of the order, who had just
come upon the scene.
"I forget nothing," replied the Englishman.
"Bear witness, all present, that I charge this man
The new comer turned to tnr congregation.
"And bear witness, all present," he added
solemnly, with uplifted hand, "that the Padre Lo-
renzo is responsible for neither his words nor his
deeds. He is mad."
And so it was. Young, eloquent, learned, an
impassioned orator, and one of the most brilliant
ornaments of his order, the Padre Lorenzo had for
more than two years betrayed symptoms of insanity.
He had committed some few extravagancies from
time to time, and had broken down once or twice
in a discourse; but it had never been supposed
that his eccentricity had danger in it. Of the
murder of Ethel Girdlestone no one had ever for
one moment dreamed that he was guilty. With
the instinctive cunning of madness he had kept his
first secret well. But he could not keep the second.
Having ventured on the perilous subject, he be-
From that hour he became a raving maniac,
and disappeared for ever from the world. By what
motive his distempered brain had been moved to
PALAZZO BARDELLO. 1 43
the commission of these crimes, and where he had
obtained the long slender dagger, scarcely thicker
than a needle, with which they were perpetrated,
were secrets never discovered; but it was thought
by some of those who knew him best that he had
slain the child to save his soul from possible sin
and send him straight to Heaven. As for Ethel
Girdlestone, it was probable that he had murdered
her from some similar motive — most likely to pre-
serve her against the danger of perversion by a
Hugh Girdlestone lives, famous and prosperous,
learned in the law, and not unlikely, it is said, to
attain the woolsack by-and-by. But he lives a
solitary life, and the gloom that fell upon his youth
overshadows all his prosperity. He will never marry
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
The Black Forest. I0
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
The events which I am about to relate took
place between nine and ten years ago. Sebastopol
had fallen in the early Spring; the peace of Paris
had been concluded since March; our commercial
relations with the Russian empire were but recently
renewed; and I, returning home after my first north-
ward journey since the war, was well pleased with
the prospect of spending the month of December
under the hospitable and thoroughly English roof
of my excellent friend Jonathan Jelf, Esquire, of
Dumbleton Manor, Clayborough, East Anglia. Tra-
velling in the interests of the well-known firm in
which it is my lot to be a junior partner, I had
been called upon to visit not only the capitals of
Russia and Poland, but had found it also necessary
to pass some weeks among the trading ports of the
Baltic; whence it came that the year was already
far spent before I again set foot on English soil,
and that instead of shooting pheasants with him,
as I had hoped, in October, I came to be my
friend's guest during the more genial Christmas-
I48 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
My voyage over, and a few days given up to
business in Liverpool and London, I hastened down
to Clayborough with all the delight of a schoolboy
whose holidays are at hand. My way lay by the
Great East Anglian line as far as Clayborough
station, where I was to be met by one of the
Dumbleton carriages and conveyed across the re-
maining nine miles of country. It was a foggy
afternoon, singularly warm for the fourth of De-
cember, and I had arranged to leave London by
the 4.15 express. The early darkness of Winter
had already closed in; the lamps were lighted in
the carriages; a clinging damp dimmed the win-
dows, adhered to the door-handles, and pervaded
all the atmosphere; while the gas jets at the neigh-
bouring bookstand diffused a luminous haze that
only served to make the gloom of the terminus
more visible. Having arrived some seven minutes
before the starting of the train, and, by the conni-
vance of the guard, taken sole possession of an
empty compartment, I lighted my travelling lamp,
made myself particularly snug, and settled down to
the undisturbed enjoyment of a book and a cigar.
Great, therefore, was my disappointment when, at
the last moment, a gentleman came hurrying along
the platform, glanced into my carriage, opened the
locked door with a private key, and stepped in.
It struck me at the first glance that I had seen
him before — a tall, spare man, thin-lipped, light-
eyed, with an ungraceful stoop in the shoulders,
and scant grey hair worn somewhat long upon the
collar. He carried a light waterproof coat, an urn-
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 49
brella, and a large brown japanned deed-box, which
last he placed under the seat. This done, he felt
carefully in his breast-pocket, as if to make certain
of the safety of his purse or pocket-book; laid his
umbrella in the netting overhead; spread the water-
proof across his knees; and exchanged his hat for
a travelling cap of some Scotch material. By this
time the train was moving out of the station,
and into the faint grey of the wintry twilight be-
I now recognized my companion. I recognized
him from the moment when he removed his hat
and uncovered the lofty, furrowed and somewhat
narrow brow beneath. I had met him, as I dis-
tinctly remembered, some three years before, at the
very house for which, in all probability, he was
now bound like myself. His name was Dwerri-
house; he was a lawyer by profession; and, if I was
not greatly mistaken, was first cousin to the wife of
my host. I knew also that he was a man eminently
"well to do," both as regarded his professional and
private means. The Jelfs entertained him with that
sort of observant courtesy which falls to the lot of
the rich relation; the children made much of him;
and the old butler, albeit somewhat surly "to the
general," treated him with deference. I thought,
observing him by the vague mixture of lamplight
and twilight, that Mrs. Jelfs cousin looked all the
worse for the three years' wear and tear which had
gone over his head since our last meeting. He was
very pale, and had a restless light in his eye that I
did not remember to have observed before. The
150 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
anxious lines, too, about his mouth were deepened,
and there was a cavernous hollow look about his
cheeks and temples which seemed to speak of sick-
ness or sorrow. He had glanced at me as he came
in, but without any gleam of recognition in his face.
Now he glanced again, as I fancied, somewhat
doubtfully. When he did so for the third or fourth
time, I ventured to address him.
"Mr. John Dwerrihouse, I think 1 ?"
"That is my name," he replied.
"I had the pleasure of meeting you at Dumble-
ton about three years ago."
Mr. Dwerrihouse bowed.
"I thought I knew your face," he said. "But
your name, I regret to say — "
"Langford — William Langford. I have known
Jonathan Jelf since we were boys together at
Merchant Taylor's, and I generally spend a few
weeks at Dumbleton in the shooting season. I sup-
pose we are bound for the same destination?"
" Not if you are on your way to the Manor," he
replied. "I am travelling upon business — rather
troublesome business, too — whilst you, doubtless,
have only pleasure in view."
"Just so. I am in the habit of looking forward
to this visit as to the brightest three weeks in all
"It is a pleasant house," said Mr. Dwerrihouse.
"The pleasantest I know."
" And Jelf is thoroughly hospitable."
"The best and kindest fellow in the world!"
"They have invited me to spend Christmas week
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 151
with them," pursued Mr. Dwerrihouse, after a mo-
"And you are coming?"
"I cannot tell. It must depend on the issue of
this business which I have in hand. You have
heard, perhaps, that we were about to construct a
branch line from Blackwater to Stockbridge."
I explained that I had been for some months
away from England and had therefore heard no-
thing of the contemplated improvement.
Mr. Dwerrihouse smiled complacently.
"It will be an improvement," he said; "a great
improvement. Stockbridge is a flourishing town,
and only needs a more direct railway communica-
tion with the metropolis to become an important
centre of commerce. This branch was my own
idea. I brought the project before the board, and
have myself superintended the execution of it up
to the present time."
"You are an East Anglian director, I presume?"
"My interest in the company," replied Mr.
Dwerrihouse, "is threefold. I am a director; I am
a considerable shareholder; and, as head of the
firm of Dwerrihouse, Dwerrihouse, and Craik, I am
the company's principal solicitor."
Loquacious, self-important, full of his pet pro-
ject, and apparently unable to talk on any other
subject^JMr. Dwerrihouse then went on to tell of
the opposition he had encountered and the obstacles
he had overcome in the cause of the Stockbridge
branch. I was entertained with a multitude of local
details and local grievances. The rapacity of one
152 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
squire; the impracticability of another; the indigna-
tion of the rector whose glebe was threatened; the
culpable indifference of the Stockbridge townspeople,
who could not be brought to see that their most
vital interests hinged upon a junction with the
Great East Anglian line; the spite of the local
newspaper; and the unheard-of difficulties attending
the Common question, were each and all laid be-
fore me with a circumstantiality that possessed the
deepest interest for my excellent fellow-traveller,
but none whatever for myself. From these, to my
despair, he went on to more intricate matters: to
the approximate expenses of construction per mile;
to the estimates sent in by different contractors; to
the probable traffic returns of the new line: to the
provisional clauses of the new Act as enumerated
in Schedule D of the company's last half-yearly re-
port; and so on, and on, and on till my head ached, and
my attention flagged, and my eyes kept closing in
spite of every effort that I made to keep them open.
At length I was roused by these words: —
"Seventy-five thousand pounds, cash down."
"Seventy-five thousand pounds, cash down," I
repeated, in the liveliest tone I could assume. "That
is a heavy sum."
"A heavy sum to carry here," replied Mr. Dwerri-
house, pointing significantly to his breast-pocket;
"but a mere fraction of what we shall ultimately
have to pay."
"You do not mean to say that you have seventy-
five thousand pounds at this moment upon your
person?" I exclaimed.
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 53
"My good Sir, have I not been telling you so
for the last half hour?" said Mr. Dwerrihouse,
testily. "That money has to be paid over at half-
past eight o'clock this evening, at the office of Sir
Thomas's solicitors, on completion of the deed of
"But how will you get across by night from
Blackwater to Stockbridge with seventy-five thousand
pounds in your pocket?"
"To Stockbridge!" echoed the lawyer. "I find I
have made myself very imperfectly understood. I
thought I had explained how this sum carries our
new line only as far as Mallingford — this first stage,
as it were, of our journey— and how our route from
Blackwater to Mallingford lies entirely through Sir
Thomas Liddell's property."
"I beg your pardon," I stammered. "I fear
my thoughts were wandering. So you only go as
far as Mallingford to-night?"
"Precisely. I shall get a conveyance from the
'Blackwater Arms.' And you?"
"Oh, Jelf sends a trap to meet me at Clay-
borough. Can I be the bearer of any message from
" You may say if you please, Mr. Langford, that
I wished I could have been your companion all the
way, and that I will come over if possible before
Mr. Dwerrihouse smiled grimly.
"Well," he said, "you may tell my cousin that
she need not burn the hall down in my honour
154 TH E FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
this time, and that I shall be obliged if she will
order the blue-room chimney to be swept before I
"That sounds tragic. Had you a conflagra-
tion on the occasion of your last visit to Dumble-
"Something like it. There had been no fire
lighted in my bedroom since the spring, the flue
was foul, and the rooks had built in it; so when I
went up to dress for dinner, I found the room full
of smoke, and the chimney on fire. Are we already
The train had gradually come to a pause while
Mr. Dwerrihouse was speaking, and on putting my
head out of the window, I could see the station
some few hundred yards ahead. There was another
train before us blocking the way, and the ticket-
taker was making use of the delay to collect the
Blackwater tickets. I had scarcely ascertained our
position, when the ruddy-faced official appeared at
our carriage door.
"Ticket, Sir!" said he.
"I am for Clayborough ," I replied, holding out
the tiny pink card.
He took it; glanced at it by the light of his little
lantern; gave it back; looked, as I fancied, some-
what sharply at my fellow-traveller, and disap-
"He did not ask for yours," I said with some
"They never do," replied Mr. Dwerrihouse.
"They all know me; and of course, I travel free."
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 55
"Blackwater! Blackwater!" cried the porter, run-
ning along the platform beside us, as we glided into
Mr. Dwerrihouse pulled out his deed box, put
his travelling-cap in his pocket, resumed his hat,
took down his umbrella, and prepared to be gone.
"Many thanks, Mr. Langford, for your society,"
he said, with old-fashioned courtesy. "I wish you a
"Good evening," I replied, putting out my
But he either did not see it, or did not choose
to see it, and, slightly lifting his hat, stepped out
upon the platform. Having done this, he moved
slowly away, and mingled with the departing
Leaning forward to watch him out of sight, I
trod upon something which proved to be a cigar-
case. It had fallen, no doubt, from the pocket of
his water-proof coat, and was made of dark morocco
leather, with a silver monogram upon the side. I
sprang out of the carriage just as the guard came
up to lock me in.
"Is there one minute to spare?" I asked eagerly.
"The gentleman who travelled down with me from
town has dropped his cigar-case — he is not yet out
of the station!"
"Just a minute and a half, Sir," replied the
guard. "You must be quick."
I dashed along the platform as fast as my feet
could carry me. It was a large station, and Mr.
156 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
Dwerrihouse had by this time got more than half-
way to the farther end.
I, however, saw him distinctly, moving slowly
with the stream. Then, as I drew nearer, I saw that
he had met some friend — that they were talking as
they walked — that they presently fell back some-
what from the crowd, and stood aside in earnest
conversation. I made straight for the spot where
they were waiting. There was a vivid gas-jet just
above their heads, and the light fell full upon their
faces. I saw both distinctly — the face of Mr.
Dwerrihouse and the face of his companion. Run-
ning, breathless, eager as I was, getting in the way
of porters and passengers, and fearful every instant
lest I should see the train going on without me, I
yet observed that the new-comer was considerably
younger and shorter than the director, that he was
sandy- haired, mustachioed, small-featured, and
dressed in a close-cut suit of Scotch tweed. I was
now within a few yards of them. I ran against a
stout gentleman — I was nearly knocked down by a
luggage -truck — I stumbled over a carpet-bag — I
gained the spot just as the driver's whistle warned
me to return.
To my utter stupefaction they were no longer
there. I had seen them but two seconds before —
and they were gone! I stood still. I looked to right
and left. I saw no sign of them in any direction.
It was as if the platform had gaped and swallowed
"There were two gentlemen standing here a
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 157
moment ago," I said to a porter at my elbow;
"which way can they have gone 1 ?"
"I saw no gentlemen, Sir," replied the man.
The whistle shrilled out again. The guard, far
up the platform, held up his arm, and shouted to
me to "Come on!"
"If you're going on by this train, Sir," said the
porter, "you must run for it."
I did run for it — just gained the carriage as the
train began to move — was shoved in by the guard,
and left breathless and bewildered, with Mr. Dwerri-
house's cigar-case still in my hand.
It was the strangest disappearance in the world.
It was like a transformation trick in a pantomime.
They were there one moment — palpably there —
talking — with the gaslight full upon their faces; and
the next moment they were gone. There was no
door near — no window — no staircase. It was a
mere slip of barren platform, tapestried with big
advertisements. Could anything be more mysteri-
It was not worth thinking about; and yet, for
my life, I could not help pondering upon it— pon-
dering, wondering, conjecturing, turning it over and
over in my mind, and beating my brains for a solu-
tion of the enigma. I thought of it all the way
from Blackwater to Clayborough. I thought of it
all the way from Clayborough to Dumbleton, as I
rattled along the smooth highway in a trim dog-
cart drawn by a splendid black mare, and driven
by the silentest and dapperest of East Anglian
158 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
We did the nine miles in something less than
an hour, and pulled up before the lodge-gates just
as the church clock was striking half-past seven. A
couple of minutes more, and the warm glow of the
lighted hall was flooding out upon the gravel; a
hearty grasp was on my hand; and a clear jovial
voice was bidding me "Welcome to Dumbleton."
"And now, my dear fellow," said my host, when
the first greeting was over, "you have no time to spare.
We dine at eight, and there are people coming to
meet you; so you must just get the dressing busi-
ness over as quickly as may be. By the way, you
will meet some acquaintances. The Biddulphs are
coming, and Prendergast (Prendergast, of the Skir-
mishers) is staying in the house. Adieu! Mrs. Jelf
will be expecting you in the drawing-room."
I was ushered to my room — not the blue room,
of which Mr. Dwerrihouse had made disagreeable
experience, but a pretty little bachelor's chamber,
hung with a delicate chintz, and made cheerful by
a blazing fire. I unlocked my portmanteau. I tried
to be expeditious; but the memory of my railway
adventure haunted me. I could not get free of it.
I could not shake it off. It impeded me — it worried
me — it tripped me up — it caused me to mislay my
studs — to mistie my cravat — to wrench the buttons
off my gloves. Worst of all, it made me so late
that the party had all assembled before I reached
the drawing-room. I had scarcely paid my respects
to Mrs. Jelf when dinner was announced, and we
paired off, some eight or ten couples strong, into
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 59
I am not going to describe either the guests or
the dinner. All provincial parties bear the strictest
family resemblance, and I am not aware that an
East Anglian banquet offers any exception to the
rule. There was the usual country baronet and his
wife; there were the usual country parsons and their
wives; there was the sempiternal turkey and haunch
of venison. Vanitas vanitatum.- There is nothing
new under the sun.
I was placed about midway down the table. I
had taken one rector's wife down to dinner, and I
had another at my left hand. They talked across
me, and their talk was about babies. It was dread-
fully dull. At length there came a pause. The
entrees had just been removed, and the turkey had
come upon the scene. The conversation had all
along been of the languidest, but at this moment it
happened to have stagnated altogether. Jelf was
carving the turkey. Mrs. Jelf looked as if she was
trying to think of something to say. Everybody else
was silent. Moved by an unlucky impulse, I thought
I would relate my adventure.
"By the way, Jelf," I began, "I came down part
of the way to-day with a friend of yours."
"Indeed!" said the master of the feast, slicing
scientifically into the breast of the turkey. "With
whom, pray 1 ?"
"With one who bade me tell you that he
should, if possible, pay you a visit before Christ-
"I cannot think who that could be," said my
l60 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
"It must be Major Thorp," suggested Mrs. Jelf.
I shook my head.
"It was not Major Thorp," I replied. "It was a
near relation of your own, Mrs. Jelf."
"Then I am more puzzled than ever," replied
my hostess. "Pray tell me who it was."
"It was no less a person than your cousin, Mr.
Jonathan Jelf laid down his knife and fork.
Mrs. Jelf looked at me in a strange, startled way,
and said never a word.
"And he desired me to tell you, my dear ma-
dam, that you need not take the trouble to burn
the Hall down in his honour this time; but only to
have the chimney of the blue room swept before
Before I had reached the end of my sentence, I
became aware of something ominous in the faces of
the guests. I felt I had said something which I had
better have left unsaid, and that for some unex-
plained reason my words had evoked a general con-
sternation. I sat confounded, not daring to utter
another syllable, and for at least two whole minutes
there was dead silence round the table.
Then Captain Prendergast came to the rescue.
"You have been abroad for some months, have
you not, Mr. Langford?" he said, with the despera-
tion of one who flings himself into the breach. "I
heard you had been to Russia. Surely you have
something to tell us of the state and temper of the
country after the war 1 ?"
I was heartily grateful to the gallant Skirmisher
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. l6l
for this diversion in my favour. I answered him, I
fear, somewhat lamely; but he kept the conversa-
tion up, and presently one or two others joined in,
and so the difficulty, whatever it might have been,
was bridged over. Bridged over, but not repaired.
A something, an awkwardness, a visible constraint
remained. The guests hitherto had been simply
dull; but now they were evidently uncomfortable
The dessert had scarcely been placed upon the
table when the ladies left the room. I seized the
opportunity to drop into a vacant chair next Captain
"In Heaven's name," I whispered, "what was the
matter just now? What had I said?"
"You mentioned the name of John Dwerri-
"What of that? I had seen him not two hours
"It is a most astounding circumstance that you
should have seen him," said Captain Prendergast.
"Are you sure it was he?"
"As sure as of my own identity. We were talk-
ing all the way between London and Blackwater.
But why does that surprise you?"
"Because," replied Captain Prendergast, dropping
his voice to the lowest whisper — "because John
Dwerrihouse absconded three months ago, with seventy-
five thousand pounds of the Company's money, and has
never been heard of since."
The Black Forest. l *
1 02 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
John Dwerrihouse had absconded three months
ago — and I had seen him only a few hours back.
John Dwerrihouse had embezzled seventy-five thou-
sand pounds of the Company's money — yet told me
that he carried that sum upon his person. Were
ever facts so strangely incongruous, so difficult to
reconcile? How should he have ventured again
into the light of day? How dared he show him-
self along the line? Above all, what had he been
doing throughout those mysterious three months of
Perplexing questions these. Questions which at
once suggested themselves to the minds of all con-
cerned, but which admitted of no easy solution. I
could find no reply to them. Captain Prendergast
had not even a suggestion to offer. Jonathan Jelf,
who seized the first opportunity of drawing me
aside and learning all that I had to tell, was more
amazed and bewildered than either of us. He came
to my room that night when all the guests were
gone, and we talked the thing over from every
point of view — without, it must be confessed, arriv-
ing at any kind of conclusion.
"I do not ask you," he said, "whether you can
have mistaken your man. That is impossible."
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 63
"As impossible as that I should mistake some
stranger for yourself."
"It is not a question of looks or voice, but of
facts. That he should have alluded to the fire in
the blue room is proof enough of John Dwerrihouse's
identity. How did he look?"
"Older, I thought. Considerably older, paler,
and more anxious."
"He has had enough to make him look anxious,
anyhow,' said my friend, gloomily; "be he innocent
"I am inclined to believe he is innocent," I re-
plied. "He showed no embarrassment when I ad-
dressed him, and no uneasiness when the guard
came round. His conversation was open to a fault.
I might almost say that he talked too freely of the
business which he had in hand."
"That again is strange; for I know no one more
reticent on such subjects. He actually told you that
he had the seventy-five thousand pounds in his
"Humph! My wife has an idea about it, and she
may be right — "
"Well, she fancies — women are so clever, you
know, at putting themselves inside people's motives
— she fancies that he was tempted; that he did
actually take the money; and that he has been con-
cealing himself these three months in some wild
part of the country — struggling possibly with his
conscience all the time, and daring neither to ab-
164 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
scond with his booty, nor to come back and re-
"But now that he has come back?"
"That is the point. She conceives that he has
probably thrown himself upon the Company's mercy;
made restitution of the money; and, being forgiven,
is permitted to carry the business through as if no-
thing whatever had happened."
"The last," I replied, "is an impossible case.
Mrs. Jelf thinks like a generous and delicate-minded
woman; but not in the least like a board of railway
directors. They would never carry forgiveness so
"I fear not; and yet it is the only conjecture
that bears a semblance of likelihood. However, we
can run over to Clayborough to-morrow, and see if
anything is to be learned. By the way, Prendergast
tells me you picked up his cigar-case."
"I did — and here it is."
Jelf took the cigar-case, examined it, and said
at once that it was beyond doubt Mr. Dwerrihouse's
property, and that he remembered to have seen him
"Here, too, is his monogram on the side," he
added. "A big J transfixing a capital D. He used
to carry the same on his note paper."
"It proves, at all events, that I was not dream-
"Ay; but it is time you were asleep and dream-
ing now. I am ashamed to have kept you so long.
"Good night, and remember that I am more
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 65
than ready to go with you to Clayborough, or Black-
water, or London, or anywhere, if I can be of the
"Thanks! I know you mean it, old friend, and
it may be that I shall put you to the test. Once
more, good night."
So we parted for that night, and met again in
the breakfast-room at half-past eight next morning.
It was a hurried, silent, uncomfortable meal. None
of us had slept well, and all were thinking of the
same subject. Mrs. Jelf had evidently been crying;
Jelf was impatient to be off; and both Captain
Prendergast and myself felt ourselves to be in the
painful position of outsiders, who are involuntarily
brought into a domestic trouble. Within twenty
minutes after we had left the breakfast-table, the
dog-cart was brought round, and my friend and I
were on the road to Clayborough.
"Tell you what it is, Langford," he said, as we
sped along between the wintry hedges, "I do not
much fancy bringing up Dwerrihouse's name at
Clayborough. All the officials know that he is my
wife's relation, and the subject just now is hardly a
pleasant one. If you don't much mind, we will
take the ii.io train to Blackwater. It's an impor-
tant station, and we shall stand a far better chance
of picking up information there than at Clay-
So we took the ii.io, which happened to be an
express, and, arriving at Blackwater about a quarter
before twelve, proceeded at once to prosecute our
l66 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
We began by asking for the station-master — a
big, blunt, business-like person, who at once averred
that he knew Mr. John Dwerrihouse perfectly well,
and that there was no director on the line whom
he had seen and spoken to so frequently.
"He used to be down here two or three times
a-week, about three months ago," said he, "when the
new line was first set afoot; but since then, you
know, gentlemen — - — "
He paused, significantly.
Jelf flushed scarlet.
"Yes, yes," he said hurriedly, "we know all
about that. The point now to be ascertained is
whether anything has been seen or heard of him
"Not to my knowledge," replied the station-
"He is not known to have been down the line
any time yesterday, for instance?"
The station-master shook his head.
"The East Anglian, sir," said he, "is about the
last place where he would dare to show himself.
Why, there isn't a station-master, there isn't a guard,
there isn't a porter, who doesn't know Mr. Dwerri-
house by sight as well as he knows his own face
in the looking-glass; or who wouldn't telegraph for
the police as soon as he had set eyes on him at
any point along the line. Bless you, sir! there's
been a standing order out against him ever since
the twenty-fifth of September last."
"And yet," pursued my friend, "a gentleman
who travelled down yesterday from London to
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 67
Clayborough by the afternoon express, testifies that
he saw Mr. Dwei.ihouse in the train, and that Mr.
Dwerrihouse alighted at Blackwater station."
"Quite imposs ble, sir," replied the station-
" Why impossible V
"Because there ;>, no station along the line
where he is so well jkiown, or where he would run
so great a risk. It Would be just running his head
into the lion's mouth. He would have been mad
to come nigh Blackwa f er station; and if he had
come, he would have =yeen arrested before he left
"Can you tell me . .vho took the Blackwater
tickets of that train]" ,
"I can, sir. It was the guard — Benjamin
Somers." L j
"And where can ': find him 1 ?"
"You can find him, sir, by staying here, if you
please, till one o'clock. He will be coming through
with the up Express from Crampton, which stays at
Blackwater for ten minutes."
We waited for the up Express, beguiling the
time as best we could by strolling along the Black-
water road till we came almost to the outskirts of
the town, from which the station was distant nearly
a couple of miles. By one o'clock we were back
again upon the platform, and waiting for the train.
It came punctually, and I at once recognized the
ruddy-faced guard who had gone down with my
train the evening before.
"The gentlemen want to ask you something
1 68 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
about Mr. Dwerrihouse, Somers/i said the station-
master, by way of introduction.
The guard flashed a keen gl?iice from my face
to Jelf's, and back again to min*.
"Mr. John Dwerrihouse, the' ate director?" said
"The same," replied my friend. "Should you
know him if you saw him?" fi
"Do you know if he was in the 4.15 Express
"He was not, sir." \
"How can you answer- so positively 1 ?"
"Because I looked intiv every carriage, and saw
every face in that train, and I could take my oath
that Mr. Dwerrihouse was not in it. This gentle-
man was," he added, turning sharply upon me. "I
don't know that I ever saw him before in my life,
but I remember his face perfectly. You nearly
missed taking your seat in time at this station, sir,
and you got out at Clayborough."
"Quite true," I replied; "but do you not also
remember the face of the gentleman who travelled
down in the same carriage with me as far as
"It was my impression, sir, that you travelled
down alone," said Somers, with a look of some
"By no means. I had a fellow-traveller as far
as Blackwater, and it was in trying to restore him
the cigar-case which he had dropped in the carriage,
that I so nearly let you go on without me."
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 1 69
"I remember your saying something about a
cigar-case, certainly," replied the guard, "but "
"You asked for my ticket just before we en-
tered the station."
"I did, sir."
"Then you must have seen him. He sat in the
corner next tne very door to which you came."
"No, indeed. I saw no one."
I looked at Jelf. I began to think the guard
was in the ex-director's confidence, and paid for his
"If I had seen another traveller I should have
asked for his ticket," added Somers. "Did you see
me ask for his ticket, sir 1 ?"
"I observed that you did not ask for it, but he
explained that by saying— — "
I hesitated. I feared I might be telling too
much, -nd so broke off abruptly.
The guard and the station-master exchanged
glances. The former looked impatiently at his
"I am obliged to go in four minutes more, sir,"
"One last question, then," interposed Jelf, with
a sort of desperation. "If this gentleman's fellow-
traveller had been Mr. John Dwerrihouse, and he
had been sitting in the corner next the door by
which you took the tickets, could you have failed
to see and recognize him 1 ?"
"No, sir; it would have been quite impossible."
"And you are certain you did not see him?"
"As I said before, sir, I could take my oath I
I70 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
did not see him. And if it wasn't that I don't like
to contradict a gentleman, I would say I could also
take my oath that this gentleman was quite alone
in the carriage the whole way from London to Clay-
borough. Why, sir," he added, dropping his voice
so as to be inaudible to the station-master, who
had been called away to speak to some person
close by, "you expressly asked me to give you a
compartment to yourself, and I did so. I locked
you in, and you were so good as to give me some-
thing for myself."
"Yes; but Mr. Dwerrihouse had a key of his
"I never saw him, sir; I saw no one in the
compartment but yourself. Beg pardon, sir, my
And with this the ruddy guard touched his cap
and was gone. In another minute the heavy panting
of the engine began afresh, and the train glided
slowly out of the station.
We looked at each other for some moments in
silence. I was the first to speak.
"Mr. Benjamin Somers knows more than he
chooses to tell," I said.
"Humph! do you think sol"
"It must be. He could not have come to the
door without seeing him. It's impossible."
"There is one thing not impossible, my dear
"What is that?"
"That you may have fallen asleep, and dreamt
the whole thing."
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 171
"Could I dream of a branch line that I had
never heard of] Could I dream of a hundred and
one business details that had no kind of interest
for me? Could I dream of the seventy-five thousand
"Perhaps you might have seen, or heard, some
vague account of the affair while you were abroad.
It might have made no impression upon you at the
time, and might have come back to you in your
dreams— recalled, perhaps, by the mere names of
the stations on the line."
"What about the fire in the chimney of the
blue room— should I have heard of that during my
journey 1 ?"
"Well, no; I admit there is a difficulty about
"And what about the cigar-case?"
"Ay, by Jove! there is the cigar-case. That
is a stubborn fact. Well, it's a mysterious affair,
and it will need a better detective than myself, I
fancy, to clear it up. I suppose we may as well
172 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
A week had not gone by when I received a
letter from the Secretary of the East Anglian Rail-
way Company, requesting the favour of my at-
tendance at a special board meeting, not then many
days distant. No reasons were alleged, and no
apologies offered, for this demand upon my time;
but they had heard, it was clear, of my inquiries
about the missing director, and had a mind to put
me through some sort of official examination upon
the subject. Being still a guest at Dumbleton Hall,
I had to go up to London for the purpose, and
Jonathan Jelf accompanied me. I found the direc-
tion of the Great East Anglian line represented by
a party of some twelve or fourteen gentlemen
seated in solemn conclave round a huge green-baize
table in a gloomy Board-room adjoining the London
Being courteously received by the chairman (who
at once began by saying that certain statements of
mine respecting Mr. John Dwerrihouse had come to
the knowledge of the direction, and that they in
consequence desired to confer with me on those
points), we were placed at the table, and the inquiry
proceeded in due form.
I was first asked if I knew Mr. John Dwerri-
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 73
house, how long I had been acquainted with him,
and whether I could identify him at sight. I was
then asked when I had seen him last. To which I
replied, "On the fourth of this present month,
December, eighteen hundred and fifty-six."
Then came the inquiry of where I had seen
him on that fourth day of December; to which I
replied that I met him in a first-class compartment
of the 4.15 down-Express; that he got in just as the
train was leaving the London terminus, and that he
alighted at Blackwater station. The chairman then
inquired whether I had held any communication
with my fellow-traveller; whereupon I related, as
I could remember it, the whole bulk and substance
of Mr. John Dwerrihouse's diffuse information re-
specting the new branch line.
To all this the board listened with profound
attention, while the chairman presided and the secre-
tary took notes. I then produced the cigar-case.
It was passed from hand to hand, and recognised
by all. There was not a man present who did not
remember that plain cigar-case with its silver mono-
gram, or to whom it seemed anything less than en-
tirely corroborative of my evidence.
When, at length, I had told all that I had to
tell, the chairman whispered something to the secre-
tary; the secretary touched a silver hand-bell; and
the guard, Benjamin Somers, was ushered into the
room. He was then examined as carefully as my-
self. He declared that he knew Mr. John Dwerri-
house perfectly well; that he could not be mistaken
in him; that he remembered going down with the
174 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
4.15 Express on the afternoon in question; that he
remembered me; and that, there being one or two
empty first-class compartments on that especial after-
noon, he had, in compliance with my request, placed
me in a carriage by myself. He was positive that
I remained alone all the way in that compartment
from London to Clayborough. He was ready to take
his oath that Mr. Dwerrihouse was neither in that
carriage with me, nor in any compartment of that
train. He remembered distinctly to have examined
my ticket at Blackwater; was certain that there was
no one else at that time in the carriage; could not
have failed to observe a second person, if there had
been one; had that second person been Mr. John
Dwerrihouse, should have quietly double-locked the
door of carriage, and have given information to the
Blackwater station-master. So clear, so decisive, so
ready, was Somers with this testimony, that the
board looked fairly puzzled.
"You hear this person's statement, Mr. Lang-
ford," said the chairman. "It contradicts yours in
every particular. What have you to say in reply?"
"I can only repeat what I said before. I am
quite as positive of the truth of my own assertions
as Mr. Somers can be of the truth of his."
"You say that Mr. Dwerrihouse alighted at Black-
water, and that he was in possession of a private
key. Are you sure that he had not alighted by
means of that key before the guard came round for
"I am quite positive that he did not leave the
carriage till the train had fairly entered the station
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 75
and the other Blackwater passengers alighted. I
even saw that he was met there by a friend."
"Indeed! Did you see that person distinctly?"
"Can you describe his appearance?"
"I think so. He was short and very slight,
sandy-haired, with a bushy moustache and beard,
and he wore a closely-fitting suit of grey tweed.
His age I should take to be about thirty-eight or
"Did Mr. Dwerrihouse leave the station in this
"I cannot tell. I saw them walking together
down the platform, and then I saw them standing
aside under a gas-jet, talking earnestly. After that
I lost sight of them quite suddenly; and just then
my train went on, and I with it."
The chairman and secretary conferred together
in an undertone. The directors whispered to each
other. One or two looked suspiciously at the guard.
I could see that my evidence remained unshaken,
and that, like myself, they suspected some com-
plicity between the guard and the defaulter.
"How far did you conduct that 4.15 express
on the day in question, Somers?" asked the chair-
"All through, sir," replied the guard; "from
London to Crampton."
"How was it that you were not relieved at Clay-
borough? I thought there was always a change of
guards at Clayborough."
"There used to be, sir, till the new regulations
176 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
came in force last Midsummer; since when, the
guards in charge of Express trains go the whole
The chairman turned to the secretary.
"I think it would be as well," he said, "if we
had the day-book to refer to upon this point."
Again the secretary touched the silver hand-bell,
and desired the porter in attendance to summon
Mr. Raikes. From a word or two dropped by an-
other of the directors, I gathered that Mr. Raikes
was one of the under-secretaries.
He came — a small, slight, sandy-haired, keen-
eyed man, with an eager, nervous manner, and a
forest of light beard and moustache. He just showed
himself at the door of the board-room, and being
requested to bring a certain day-book from a certain
shelf in a certain room, bowed and vanished.
He was there such a moment, and the surprise
of seeing him was so great and sudden, that it was
not till the door had closed upon him that I found
voice to speak. He was no sooner gone, however,
than I sprang to my feet.
"That person," I said, "is the same who met
Mr. Dwerrihouse upon the platform at Blackwater!"
There was a general movement of surprise. The
chairman looked grave, and somewhat agitated.
"Take care, Mr. Langford," he said, "take care
what you say!"
"I am as positive of his identity as of my own."
"Do you consider the consequences of your
words? Do you consider that you are bringing a
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 77
charge of the gravest character against one of the
"I am willing to be put upon my oath, if neces-
sary. The man who came to that door a minute
since is the same whom I saw talking with Mr.
Dwerrihouse on the Blackwater platform. Were he
twenty times the company's servant, I could say
neither more nor less."
The chairman turned again to the guard.
"Did you see Mr. Raikes in the train, or on the
platform 1 ?" he asked.
Somers shook his head.
"I am confident Mr. Raikes was not in the
train," he said; "and I certainly did not see him on
The chairman turned next to the secretary.
"Mr. Raikes is in your office, Mr. Hunter," he
said. "Can you remember if he was absent on the
fourth instant 1 ?"
"I do not think he was," replied the secretary;
"but I am not prepared to speak positively. I have
been away most afternoons myself lately, and Mr.
Raikes might easily have absented himself if he had
At this moment the under- secretary returned
with the day-book under his arm.
"Be pleased to refer, Mr. Raikes," said the chair-
man, "to the entries of the fourth instant, and see
what Benjamin Somers' duties were on that day."
Mr. Raikes threw open the cumbrous volume,
and ran a practised eye and finger down some three
or four successive columns of entries. Stopping
The Black Forest. 1 2
178 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
suddenly at the foot of a page, he then read aloud
that Benjamin Somers had on that day conducted
the 4.15 express from London to Crampton.
The chairman leaned forward in his seat, looked
the under-secretary full in the face, and said, quite
sharply and suddenly: —
"Where were you, Mr. Raikes, on the same
afternoon 1 ?"
"You, Mr. Raikes. Where were you on the
afternoon and evening of the fourth of the present
"Here, sir — in Mr. Hunter's oifice. Where else
should I be?"
There was a dash of trepidation in the under-
secretary's voice as he said this; but his look of
surprise was natural enough.
"We have some reason for believing, Mr. Raikes,
that you were absent that afternoon without leave.
Was this the case?"
"Certainly not, sir. I have not had a day's
holiday since September. Mr. Hunter will bear me
out in this."
Mr. Hunter repeated what he had previously said
on the subject, but added that the clerks in the ad-
joining office would be certain to know. Where-
upon the senior clerk, a grave, middle-aged person,
in green glasses, was summoned and interrogated.
His testimony cleared the under-secretary at once.
He declared that Mr. Raikes had in no instance, to
his knowledge, been absent during office hours
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 79
since his return from his annual holiday in Sep-
I was confounded.
The chairman turned to me with a smile, in
which a shade of covert annoyance was scarcely
"You hear, Mr. Langford?" he said.
"I hear, sir; but my conviction remains un-
"I fear, Mr. Langford, that your convictions are
very insufficiently based," replied the chairman, with
a doubtful cough. "I fear that you 'dream dreams,'
and mistake them for actual occurrences. It is a
dangerous habit of mind, and might lead to dan-
gerous results. Mr. Raikes here would have found
himself in an unpleasant position, had he not proved
so satisfactory an alibi."
I was about to reply, but he gave me no time.
"I think, gentlemen," he went on to say, ad-
dressing the board, "that we should be wasting time
to push this inquiry farther. Mr. Langford's evidence
would seem to be of an equal value throughout.
The testimony of Benjamin Somers disproves his
first statement, and the testimony of the last witness
disproves his second. I think we may conclude
that Mr. Langford fell asleep in the train on the oc-
casion of his journey to Clayborough, and dreamt
an unusually vivid and circumstantial dream — of
which, however, we have now heard quite enough."
There are few things more annoying than to
find one's positive convictions met with incredulity.
I could not help feeling impatience at the turn that
I SO THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXFRESS.
affairs had taken. I was not proof against the civil
sarcasm of the chairman's manner. Most intolerable
of all, however, was the quiet smile lurking about
the corners of Benjamin Somers' mouth, and the
half-triumphant, half-malicious gleam in the eyes of
the under-secretary. The man was evidently puzzled,
and somewhat alarmed. His looks seemed furtively
to interrogate me. Who was 11 What did I want?
Why had I come there to do him an ill turn with
his employers'? What was it to me whether or not
he was absent without leave?
Seeing all this, and perhaps more irritated by it
than the thing deserved, I begged leave to detain
the attention of the board for a moment longer.
Jelf plucked me impatiently by the sleeve.
"Better let the thing drop," he whispered. "The
chairman's right enough. You dreamt it; and the
less said now, the better."
I was not to be silenced, however, in this fashion.
I had yet something to say, and I would say it. It
was to this effect: — That dreams were not usually
productive of tangible results, and that I requested
to know in what way the chairman conceived I had
evolved from my dream so substantial and well-
made a delusion as the cigar-case which I had had
the honour to place before him at the commence-
ment of our interview.
"The cigar-case, I admit, Mr. Langford," the
chairman replied, is a very strong point in your
evidence. It is your only strong point, however,
and there is just a possibility that we may all be
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. l8l
misled by a mere accidental resemblance. Will you
permit me to see the case again?"
"It is unlikely," I said, as I handed it to him,
"that any other should bear precisely this mono-
gram, and also be in all other particulars exactly
The chairman examined it for a moment in
silence, and then passed it to Mr. Hunter. Mr.
Hunter turned it over and over, and shook his
"This is no mere resemblance," he said. "It is
John Dwerrihouse's cigar-case to a certainty. I re-
member it perfectly. I have seen it a hundred
"I believe I may say the same," added the chair-
man. "Yet how shall we account for the way in
which Mr. Langford asserts that it came into his
possession 1 ?"
"I can only repeat," I replied, "that I found it
on the floor of the carriage after Mr. Dwerrihouse
had alighted. It was in leaning out to look after
him that I trod upon it; and it was in running after
him for the purpose of restoring it that I saw — or
believed I saw — Mr. Raikes standing aside with him
in earnest conversation."
Again I felt Jonathan Jelf plucking at my sleeve.
"Look at Raikes," he whispered. "Look at
I turned to where the under-secretary had been
standing a moment before, and saw him, white as
death, with lips trembling and livid, stealing to-
wards the door.
I &2 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
To conceive a sudden, strange, and indefinite
suspicion; to fling myself in his way; to take him
by the shoulders as if he were a child, and turn his
craven face, perforce, towards the board, was with
me the work of an instant.
"Look at him!" I exclaimed. "Look at his
face! I ask no better witness to the truth of my
The chairman's brow darkened.
"Mr. Raikes," he said, sternly, "if you know
anything, you had better speak."
Vainly trying to wrench himself from my grasp,
the under-secretary stammered out an incoherent
"Let me go!" he said. "I know nothing — you
have no right to detain me — let me go!"
"Did you, or did you not, meet Mr. John Dwerri-
house at Blackwater Station 1 ? The charge brought
against you is either true or false. If true, you will
do well to throw yourself upon the mercy of the
board, and make full confession of all that you
The under-secretary wrung his hands in an agony
of helpless terror.
"I was away," he cried. "I was two hundred
miles away at the time! I know nothing about it —
I have nothing to confess— I am innocent — I call
God to witness I am innocent!"
"Two hundred miles away!" echoed the chair-
man. "What do you mean 1 ?"
"I was in Devonshire. I had three weeks' leave
of absence — I appeal to Mr. Hunter — Mr. Hunter
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 83
knows I had three weeks' leave of absence! I was
in Devonshire all the time — I can prove I was in
Seeing him so abject, so incoherent, so wild with
apprehension, the directors began to whisper gravely
among themselves; while one got quietly up, and
called the porter to guard the door.
"What has your being in Devonshire to do with
the matter?" said the chairman. "When were you
in Devonshire 1 ?"
"Mr. Raikes took his leave in September," said
the secretary; "about the time when Mr. Dwerri-
"I never even heard that he had disappeared
till I came back!"
"That must remain to be proved," said the
chairman. "I shall at once put this matter in the
hands of the police. In the meanwhile, Mr. Raikes,
being myself a magistrate, and used to deal with
these cases, I advise you to offer no resistance; but
to confess while confession may yet do you service.
As for your accomplice "
The frightened wretch fell upon his knees.
"I had no accomplice!" he cried. "Only have
mercy upon me — only spare my life, and I will
confess all! I didn't mean to harm him — I didn't
mean to hurt a hair of his head ! Only have mercy
upon me, and let me go!"
The chairman rose in his place, pale and
"Good heavens!" he exclaimed, "what horrible
mystery is this? What does it mean?"
184 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
"As sure as there is a God in heaven," said
Jonathan Jelf, "it means that murder has been
"No — no — no!" shrieked Raikes, still upon his
knees, and cowering like a beaten hound. "Not
murder! No jury that ever sat could bring it in
murder. I thought I had only stunned him — I never
meant to do more than stun him! Manslaughter —
manslaughter — not murder!"
Overcome by the horror of this unexpected re-
velation, the chairman covered his face with his
hand, and for a moment or two remained silent.
"Miserable man," he said at length, "you have
"You bade me confess! You urged me to throw
myself upon the mercy of the board!"
"You have confessed to a crime which no one
suspected you of having committed," replied the
chairman, "and which this board has no power
either to punish or forgive. All that I can do for
you is to advise you to submit to the law, to plead
guilty, and to conceal nothing. When did you do
The guilty man rose to his feet, and leaned
heavily against the table. His answer came reluc-
tantly, like the speech of one dreaming.
"On the twenty-second of September!"
On the twenty-second of September! I looked
in Jonathan Jelf's face, and he in mine. I felt my
own paling with a strange sense of wonder and
dread. I saw his blench suddenly, even to the lips.
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 85
"Merciful heaven!" he whispered, ''what was It,
then, that you saw in the train?"
What was it that I saw in the train? That ques-
tion remains unanswered to this day. I have never
been able to reply to it. I only know that it bore
the living likeness of the murdered man, whose
body had been lying some ten weeks under a rough
pile of branches, and brambles, and rotting leaves,
at the bottom of a deserted chalk-pit about half way
between Blackwater and Mallingford. I know that
it spoke, and moved, and looked as that man spoke,
and moved, and looked in life; that I heard, or
seemed to hear, things related which I could never
otherwise have learned; that I was guided, as it
were, by that vision on the platform to the identifica-
tion of the murderer; and that, a passive instrument
myself, I was destined, by means of these mysteri-
ous teachings, to bring about the ends of justice.
For these things I have never been able to account.
As for that matter of the cigar-case, it proved,
on inquiry, that the carriage in which I travelled
down that afternoon to Clayborough had not been
in use for several weeks, and was, in point of fact,
the same in which poor John Dwerrihouse had per-
formed his last journey. The case had, doubtless,
been dropped by him, and had lain unnoticed till I
Upon the details of the murder I have no need
to dwell. Those who desire more ample particulars
may find them, and the written confession of Au-
gustus Raikes, in the files of the "Times" for 1856.
I 86 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS.
Enough that the under-secretary, knowing the history
of the new line, and following the negotiation step
by step through all its stages, determined to waylay
Mr. Dwerrihouse, rob him of the seventy^five thou-
sand pounds, and escape to America with his booty.
In order to effect these ends he obtained leave
of absence a few days before the time appointed
for the payment of the money; secured his passage
across the Atlantic in a steamer advertised to start
on the twenty-third; provided himself with a heavily-
loaded "life-preserver," and went down to Black-
water to await the arrival of his victim. How he
met him on the platform with a pretended message
from the board; how he offered to conduct him by
a short cut across the fields to Mallingford; how,
having brought him to a lonely place, he struck
him down with the life-preserver, and so killed
him; and how, finding what he had done, he dragged
the body to the verge of an out-of-the-way chalk-
pit, and there flung it in, and piled it over with
branches and brambles, are facts still fresh in the
memories of those who, like the connoisseurs in De
Quincey's famous essay, regard murder as a fine
art. Strangely enough, the murderer, having done
his work, was afraid to leave the country. He de-
clared that he had not intended to take the director's
life, but only to stun and rob him; and that finding
the blow had killed, he dared not fly for fear of
drawing down suspicion upon his own head. As a
mere robber he would have been safe in the States,
but as a murderer he would inevitably have been
pursued, and given up to justice. So he forfeited
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. I 87
his passage, returned to the office as usual at the
end of his leave, and locked up his ill-gotten
thousands till a more convenient opportunity. In
the meanwhile he had the satisfaction of finding
that Mr. Dwerrihouse was universally believed to
have absconded with the money, no one knew how
Whether he meant murder or not, however, Mr.
Augustus Raikes paid the full penalty of his crime,
and was hanged at the Old Bailey in the second
week in January, 1857. Those who desire to make
his further acquaintance may see him any day (ad-
mirably done in wax) in the Chamber of Horrors at
Madame Tussaud's exhibition in Baker Street. He
is there to be found in the midst of a select society
of ladies and gentlemen of atrocious memory,
dressed in the close-cut tweed suit which he wore
on the evening of the murder, and holding in his
hand the identical life-preserver with which he com-
SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY.
SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY.
If you have ever heard of the Grodner Thai,
then you will also have heard of the village of St.
Ulrich, of which I, Johanna Roederer, am a native.
And if, as is more likely, you have never heard of
either, then still, though without knowing it, many
of you have, even from your earliest childhood,
been familiar with the work by which, for many
generations, we have lived and prospered. Your rock-
ing-horse, your Noah's ark, your first doll, came
from St. Ulrich— for the Grodner Thai is the children's
paradise, and supplies the little ones of all Europe
with toys. In every house throughout the village —
I might almost say in every house throughout the
valley — you will find wood-carving, painting, or
gilding perpetually going on; except only in the
hay-making and harvest-time, when all the world
goes up to the hills to mow and reap, and breathe
the mountain air. Nor do our carvers carve only
grotesque toys. All the crucifixes that you see by
the wayside, all the carved stalls and tabernacles,
all the painted and gilded saints decorating screens
and side altars in our Tyrolean churches, are the
work of their hands.
ig2 sister Johanna's story.
After what I have said, you will no doubt have
guessed that ours was a family of wood-carvers.
My father, who died when my sister and I were
quite little children, was a wood-carver. My mother
was also a wood-carver, as were her mother and
grandmother before her; and Katrine and I were of
course brought up by her to the same calling. But,
as it was necessary that one should look after the
home duties, and as Katrine was always more de-
licate than myself, I gradually came to work less
and less at the business; till at last, what Avith cook-
ing, washing, mending, making, spinning, gardening,
and so forth, I almost left it off altogether. Nor
did Katrine work very hard at it, either; for, being
so delicate, and so pretty, and so much younger
than myself, she came, of course, to be a great deal
spoiled and to have her own way in everything.
Besides, she grew tired, naturally, of cutting nothing
but cocks, hens, dogs, cats, cows, and goats; which
were all our mother had been taught to make, and,
consequently, all she could teach to her children.
"If I could carve saints and angels, like Ulrich,
next door," Katrine used sometimes to say; "or if I
might invent new beasts out of my own head, or if
I might cut caricature nutcrackers of the Herr
Purger and Don Wian, I shouldn't care if I worked
hard all day; but I hate the cocks and hens, and I
hate the dogs and cats, and I hate all the birds and
beasts that ever went into the ark — and I only wish
they had all been drowned in the Deluge, and not
one left for a pattern!"
And then she would fling her tools away, and
sister Johanna's story. 193
dance about the room like a wild creature, and
mimic the Herr Purger, who was the great wholesale
buyer of all our St. Ulrich ware, till even our mother,
grave and sober woman as she was, could not help
laughing, till the tears ran down her cheeks.
Now the Ulrich next door, of whom our little
Katrine used to speak, was the elder of two brothers
named Finazzer, and he lived in the house adjoin-
ing our own; for at St. Ulrich, as in some of the
neighbouring villages, one frequently sees two
houses built together under one roof, with gardens
and orchards surrounded by a common fence. Such
a house was the Finazzer's and ours; or I should
rather say both houses were theirs, for they were
our landlords, and we rented our cottage from them
by the year.
Ulrich, named after the patron saint of our
village, was a tall, brown, stalwart man, very grave,
very reserved, very religious, and the finest wood-
sculptor in all the Grodner Thai. No Madonnas,
no angels, could compare with his for heavenly
grace and tenderness; and as for his Christs, a great
foreign critic who came to St. Ulrich some ten or
twelve years ago said that no other modern artist
with whose works he was acquainted could treat
that subject with anything like the same dig-
nity and pathos. But then, perhaps, no other
modern artist went to his work in the same spirit,
or threw into it, not only the whole force of a very
noble and upright character, but all the loftiest aspira-
tions of a profoundly religious nature.
His younger brother, Alois, was a painter— fair-
T/ie Black Forest, 13
194 sister Johanna's story.
haired, light-hearted, pleasure-loving; as unlike
Ulrich, both in appearance and disposition, as it is
possible to conceive. At the time of which I am
telling you, he was a student in Venice and had
already been three years away from home. I used
to dream dreams, and weave foolish romances about
Alois and my little Katrine, picturing to myself how
he would some day come home, in the flush, per-
haps, of his first success, and finding her so beauti-
ful and a woman grown, fall in love with her at
first sight, and she with him; and the thought of
this possibility became at last such a happy cer-
tainty in my mind, that when things began to work
round in quite the other way, I could not bring
myself to believe it. Yet so it was, and, much as
I loved my darling, and quick-sighted as I had al-
ways been in everything that could possibly concern
her, there was not a gossip in St. Ulrich who did
not see what was coming before I even suspected it.
When, therefore, my little Katrine came to me
one evening in the orchard and told me, half laugh-
ing, half crying, that Ulrich Finazzer had that day
asked her to be his wife, I was utterly taken by surprise.
"I never dreamed that he would think of me,
dear," she said, with her head upon my bosom.
"He is so much too good and too clever for such
a foolish birdie as poor little Katrine."
"But — but my birdie loves him 1 ?" I said, kiss-
ing her bright hair.
She half lifted her head, half laughed through
her tears, and said with some hesitation: —
"Oh, yes, I love him. I — I think I love him —
sister Johanna's story. 195
and then I am quite sure he loves me, and that is
more than enough."
"But, Katrine "
She kissed me, to stop the words upon my
"But you know quite well, dear, that I never
could love any lover half as much as I love you;
and he knows it, too, for I told him so just now,
and now please don't look grave, for I want to be
very happy to-night, and I can't bear it."
And I also wanted her to be very happy, so I
said all the loving things I could think of, and
when we went in to supper we found Ulrich Finazzer
waiting for us.
"Dear Johanna," he said, taking me by both
hands, "you are to be my sister now."
And then he kissed me on the forehead. The
words were few; but he had never spoken to me or
looked at me so kindly before, and somehow my
heart seemed to come into my throat, and I could
not answer a word.
It was now the early summer time, and they
were to be married in the autumn. Ulrich, mean-
while, had his hands full of work, as usual, and
there was, besides, one important task which he
wanted to complete before his wedding. This task
was a Christ, larger than life, which he designed as
a gift to our parish church, then undergoing com-
plete restoration. The committee of management
had invited him in the first instance to undertake
the work as an order, but Ulrich would not accept
a price for it. He preferred to give it as a free-
ig6 sister Johanna's story.
will offering, and he meant it to be the best piece
of wood-sculpture that had ever yet left his hand.
He had made innumerable designs for it both in
clay and on paper, and separate studies from life
for the limbs, hands, and feet. In short, it was to
be no ordinary piece of mere conventional Grodner
Thai work, but a work of art in the true sense of
the word. In the meanwhile, he allowed no one
to see the figure in progress — not even Katrine;
but worked upon it with closed doors, and kept it
covered with a linen cloth whenever his workshop
So the Summer time wore on, and the roses
bloomed abundantly in our little garden, and the
corn yellowed slowly on the hill-sides, and the wild
white strawberry-blossoms turned to tiny strawberries,
ruby-red, on every mossy bank among the fir-forests
of the Seisser Alp. And still Ulrich laboured on at
his great work, and sculptured many a gracious
saint besides; and still the one object of his earthly
worship was our little laughing Katrine.
Whether it was that, being so grave himself,
and she so gay, he loved her the better for the con-
trast, I cannot tell; but his affection for her seemed
to deepen daily. I watched it as one might watch
the growth of some rare flower, and I wondered
sometimes if she prized it as she ought. Yet I
scarcely know how, child that she was, she should
ever have risen to the heights or sounded the depths
of such a nature as his. That she could not ap-
preciate him, however, would have mattered little,
if she had loved him more. There was the pity of
sister Johanna's story. 197
it. She had accepted him, as many a very young
girl accepts her first lover, simply because he was
her first. She was proud of his genius — proud of
his preference — proud of the house, and the lands,
and the worldly goods that were soon to be hers;
but for that far greater wealth of love, she held it
all too lightly.
Seeing this day after day, with the knowledge
that nothing I could say would make things better,
I fell, without being conscious of it, into a sad and
silent way that arose solely out of my deep love for
them both, and had no root of selfishness in it, as
my own heart told me then, and tells me to this
In the midst of this time, so full of happiness
for Ulrich, so full of anxiety for me, Alois Finazzer
came home suddenly. We had been expecting him
in a vague way ever since the Spring, but the sur-
prise when he walked in unannounced was as great
as if we had not expected him at all.
He kissed us all on both cheeks, and sat down
as if he had not been away for a day.
"What a rich fellow I am!" he said, joyously.
"I left only a grave elder brother behind when I
went to Venice, and I come back finding two dear
little sisters to welcome me home again."
And then he told us that he had just taken the
gold medal at the Academy, that he had sold his
prize-picture for two hundred florins, and that he
had a pocketful of presents for us all — a necklace
for Katrine, a spectacle-case for our mother, and a
housewife for myself. When he put the necklace
198 sister Johanna's story.
round my darling's neck he kissed her again, and
praised her eyes, and said he should some day put
his pretty little sister into one of his pictures.
He was greatly changed. He went away a curly-
headed lad of eighteen; he came back a man,
bearded and self-confident.
Three years, at certain turning-points on the
road of life, work with us more powerfully, whether
for better or worse, than would ten years at any
other period. I thought I liked Alois Finazzer better
when he was those three years younger.
Not so Katrine, however — not so our mother —
not so the St. Ulrich folk, all of whom were loud
in his praise. Handsome, successful, gay, generous,
he treated the men, laughed with the girls, and
carried all before him.
As for Ulrich, he put his work aside, and cleared
his brow, and made holiday for two whole days,
going round with his brother from house to house,
and telling everyone how Alois had taken the great
gold medal in Venice. Proud and happy as he was,
however, he was prouder and happier still when,
some three or four days later, at a meeting of the
Church Committee of management, the Commune
formally invited Alois to paint an altar-piece for the
altar of San Marco at the price of three hundred
That evening Ulrich invited us to supper, and
we drank Alois's health in a bottle of good Barbera
wine. He was to stay at home now, instead of
going back to Venice, and he was to have a large
room at the back of Ulrich's workshop for a studio.
sister Johanna's story. 199
"I'll bring your patron saint into my picture if
you will sit for her portrait, Katrine," said Alois,
And Katrine blushed and said, "Yes;" and Ul-
rich was delighted ; and Alois pulled out his
pocket-book, and began sketching her head on the
"Only you must try to think of serious things,
and not laugh when you are sitting for a saint, my
little Madchen," said Ulrich, tenderly; whereupon
Katrine blushed still more deeply, and Alois, with-
out looking up from his drawing, promised that
they would both be as grave as judges whenever the
sittings were going on.
And now there began for me a period of such
misery that even at this distance of time I can
scarcely bear to speak or think of it. There, day
after day, was Alois painting in his new studio, and
Katrine sitting to him for Santa Catarina, while
Ulrich, unselfish, faithful, trustful, worked on in the
next room, absorbed in his art, and not only un-
conscious of treachery, but incapable of conceiving
it as a possibility. How I tried to watch over her,
and would fain have watched over her still more
closely if I could, is known to myself alone. My
object was to be with her throughout all those fatal
sittings; Alois's object was to make the appoint-
ments for hours when my household duties com-
pelled me to remain at home. He soon found out
that my eyes were opened. From that moment it
was a silent, unacknowledged fight between us, and
we were always fighting it.
200 sister Johanna's story.
And now, as his work drew nearer to completion,
Ulrich seemed every day to live less for the people
and things about him, and more for his art. Al-
ways somewhat over-silent and reserved, he now
seemed scarcely conscious, at times, of even the pre-
sence of others. He spoke and moved as in a
dream; went to early mass every morning at four;
fasted three days out of seven; and, having wrought
himself up to a certain pitch of religious and ar-
tistic excitement, lived in a world of his own creation,
from which even Katrine was for the time excluded.
Things being thus, what could I do but hold my
peace? To speak to Ulrich would have been im-
possible at any time; to speak to my darling (she
being, perhaps, wholly unconscious) might be to
create the very peril I dreaded; to appeal to Alois,
I felt beforehand, would be worse than useless. So
I kept my trouble to myself, and prayed that the
weeks might pass quickly, and bring their wedding-
Now, just about this time of which I am telling
(that is towards the middle of August) came round
the great annual fete, or Sagro, as we call it, at
Botzen; and to this fete Katrine and I had for
some years been in the habit of going — walking to
Atzwang the first day by way of Castelruth; sleeping
near Atzwang in the house of our aunt, Maria Bern-
hard, whose husband kept the Gasthaus called the
Schwarze Adler; taking the railway next morning
from Atzwang to Botzen, and there spending the
day of the Sagro; and returning in the same order
as we came. This year, however, having the dread
SISTER JOHANNA S STORY. 201
of Alois before my eyes, and knowing that Ulrich
would not leave his work, I set my face against the
Botzen expedition, and begged my little sister, since
she could not have the protection of her betrothed
husband, to give it up. And so I think she would
have done at first, but that Alois was resolute to
have us go; and at last even Ulrich urged it upon
us, saying that he would not have his little Madchen
balked of her festa simply because he was too busy
to take her there himself. Would not Johanna be
there to take care of her, Alois to take care of
them both? So my protest was silenced, and we
It is a long day's walk from St. Ulrich to
Atzwang, and we did not reach our aunt's house
till nearly supper-time; so that it was quite late be-
fore we went up to our room. And now my dar-
ling, after being in wild spirits all day, became sud-
denly silent, and instead of going to bed, stayed by
the window, looking at the moon.
"What is my birdie thinking of?" I said, putting
my arm about her waist.
"I am thinking," she said, softly, "how the
moon is shining now at St. Ulrich on our mother's
bedroom window, and on our father's grave."
And with this she laid her head down upon my
shoulder, and cried as if her heart would break.
I have reproached myself since for letting that
moment pass as I did. I believe I might have had
her confidence if I had tried, and then what a world
of sorrow might have been averted from us all!
We reached Botzen next morning in time for
202 SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY.
the six o'clock mass; went to high mass again at
nine; and strolled among the booths between the
services. Here Alois, as usual, was very free with
his money, buying ribbons and trinkets for Katrine,
and behaving in every way as if he, and not Ulrich,
were her acknowledged lover. At eleven, having
met some of our St. Ulrich neighbours, we made a
party and dined all together at a Gasthaus in the
Silbergasse; and after dinner the young men proposed
to take us to see an exhibition of rope-dancers and
tumblers. Now I knew that Ulrich would not ap-
prove of this, and I entreated my darling for his
sake, if not for mine, to stay away. But she would
not listen to me.
"Ulrich, Ulrich!" she repeated, pettishly. "Don't
tease me about Ulrich; I am tired of his very
name ! "
The next moment she had taken Alois's arm,
and we were in the midst of the crowd.
Finding she would go, I of course went also,
though sorely against my inclination; and one of
our St. Ulrich friends gave me his arm, and got me
through. The crowd, however, was so great that I
lost sight somehow of Alois and Katrine, and found
myself landed presently inside the booth and sitting
on a front seat next to the orchestra, alone with
the St. Ulrich people. We kept seats for them as
long as we could, and stood upon the bench to look
for them, till at last the curtain rose, and we had
to sit down without them.
I saw nothing of the performance. To this day
I have no idea how long it lasted, or what it con-
sister johanna's story. 203
sisted of. I remember nothing but the anxiety with
which I kept looking towards the door, and the
deadly sinking at my heart as the minutes dragged
by. To go in search of them was impossible, for
the entrance was choked, and there was no standing-
room in any part of the booth, so that even when
the curtain fell we were fully another ten minutes
You have guessed it, perhaps, before I tell you.
They were not in the market-place; they were not
at the Gasthaus; they were not in the Cathedral.
"The tall young man in a grey and green coat,
and the pretty girl with a white rose in her hair 1 ?"
said a bystander. "Tush, my dear, don't be uneasy.
They are gone home; I saw them running towards
the station more than half an hour ago."
So we flew to the station, and there one of the
porters, who was an Atzwang man and knew us
both, confirmed the dreadful truth. They were
gone indeed, but they were not gone home. Just
in time to catch the Express, they had taken their
tickets through to Venice, and were at this moment
How I got home — not stopping at all at Atzwang,
but going straight away on foot in the broiling after-
noon sun — never resting till I reached Castelruth,
a little after dusk — lying down outside my bed and
sobbing all the night — getting up at the first glim-
mer of grey dawn and going on again before the
sun was up — how I did all this, faint for want of
food, yet unable to eat; weary for want of rest, yet
unable to sleep — I know not. But I did it, and
204 SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY.
was home again at St. Ulrich, kneeling beside our
mother's chair, and comforting her as best I could,
"How is Ulrich to be told?"
It was her first question. It was the question I
had been asking myself all the way home. I knew
well, however, that I must be the one to break it to
him. It was a terrible task, and I put it from me
as long as possible.
When at last I did go, it was past mid-day.
The workshop door stood open — the Christ, just
showing a vague outline through the folds, was
covered with a sheet, and standing up against the
wall — and Ulrich was working on the drapery of a
St. Francis, the splinters from which were flying off
rapidly in every direction.
Seeing me on the threshold, he looked up and
"So soon back, Hebe Johanna?" he said. "We
did not expect you till evening."
Then, finding I made no answer, he paused in
his work, and said, quickly: —
"What is the matter? Is she ill?"
I shook my head.
"No," I said, "she is not ill."
"Where is she, then?"
"She is not ill," I said, again, "but — she is not
And then I told him.
He heard me out in dead silence, never moving
so much as a finger, only growing whiter as I went
on. Then, when I had done, he went over to the
sister Johanna's story. 205
window, and remained standing with his back to-
wards me for some minutes.
"And you?" he said, presently, still without turn-
ing his head. "And you — through all these weeks
— you never saw or suspected anything?"
"I feared — I was not sure — "
He turned upon me with a terrible pale anger
in his face.
"You feared — you were not sure!" he said,
slowly. "That is to say, you saw it going on, and
let it go on, and would not put out your hand to
save us all! False! false! false! — all false together
— false love, false brother, false friend!"
"You are not just to me, Ulrich," I said; for
to be called false by him was more than I could
"Am I not just? Then I pray that God will be
more just to you, and to them, than I can ever be;
and that His justice may be the justice of vengeance
— swift, and terrible, and without mercy."
And saying this he laid his hand on the veiled
Christ, and cursed us all three with a terrible, pas-
sionate curse, like the curse of a prophet of old.
For one moment my heart stood still, and I felt
as if there was nothing left for me but to die — but
it was only for that one moment; for I knew, even
before he had done speaking, that no words of his
could harm either my poor little erring Katrine or
myself. And then, having said so as gently as I
could, I formally forgave him in her name and
mine, and went away.
That night Ulrich Finazzer shut up his house
206 sister Johanna's story.
and disappeared, no one knew whither. When I
questioned the old woman who lived with him as
servant, she said that he had paid and dismissed
her a little before dusk; that she then thought he
was looking very ill, and that she had observed
how, instead of being as usual hard at work all day
in the workshop, he had fetched his gun out of the
kitchen about two o'clock, and carried it up to his
bedroom, where, she believed, he had spent nearly
all the afternoon cleaning it. This was all she had
to tell; but it was more than enough to add to the
burden of my terrors.
Oh, the weary, weary time that followed — the
long, sad, solitary days — the days that became weeks
— the weeks that became months — the Autumn that
chilled and paled as it wore on towards Winter —
the changing wood — the withering leaves — the snow
that whitened daily on the great peaks round about!
Thus September and October passed away, and the
last of the harvest was gathered in, and November
came with bitter winds and rain; and save a few
hurried lines from Katrine, posted in Perugia, I
knew nothing of the fate of all whom I had loved
"We were married," she wrote, "in Venice, and
Alois talks of spending the Winter in Rome. I
should be perfectly happy if I knew that you and
Ulrich had forgiven us."
This was all. She gave me no address; but I
wrote to her at the Poste Restante Perugia, and
again to the Poste Restante, Rome; both of which
sister Johanna's story, 207
letters, I presume, lay unclaimed till destroyed by
the authorities, for she never replied to either.
And now the Winter came on in earnest, as
Winter always comes in our high valleys, and
Christmas-time drew round again; and on the eve
of St. Thomas, Ulrich Finazzer returned to his
house as suddenly and silently as he had left it.
Next door neighbours as we were, we should
not have known of his return but for the trampled
snow upon the path, and the smoke going up from
the workshop chimney. No other sign of life or
occupation was to be seen. The shutters remained
unopened. The doors, both front and back, re-
mained fast locked. If any neighbour knocked,
he was left to knock unanswered. Even the old
woman who used to be his servant, was turned
away by a stern voice from within, bidding her
begone and leave him at peace.
That he was at work was certain; for we could
hear him in the workshop by night as well as by
day. But he could work there as in a tomb, for
the room was lighted by a window in the roof.
Thus St. Thomas's Day, and the next day which
was the fourth Sunday in Advent, went by; and
still he who had ever been so constant at mass
showed no sign of coming out amongst us. On
Monday our good cure walked down, all through
the fresh snow (for there had been a heavy fall in
the night), on purpose to ask if we were sure that
Ulrich was really in his house; if we had yet seen
him; and if we knew what he did for food, being
208 sister Johanna's story.
shut in there quite alone. But to these questions
we could give no satisfactory reply.
That day when we had dined, I put some bread
and meat in a basket and left it at his door; but
it lay there untouched all through the day and
night, and in the morning I fetched it back again,
with the food still in it.
This was the fourth day since his return. It
was very dreadful — I cannot tell you how dreadful
— to know that he was so near, yet never even to
see his shadow on a blind. As the day wore on
my suspense became intolerable. To-night, I told
myself, would be Christmas Eve; to-morrow Christ-
mas Day. Was it possible that his heart would not
soften if he remembered our Happy Christmas of
only last year, when he and Katrine were not yet
betrothed; how he supped with us, and how we all
roasted nuts upon the hearth and sang part-songs
after supper? Then, again, it seemed incredible
that he should not go to church on Christmas Day.
Thus the day went by, and the evening dusk
came on, and the village choir came round singing
carols from house to house, and still he made no
Now what with the suspense of knowing him
to be so near, and the thought of my little Katrine
far away in Rome, and the remembrance of how
he — he whom I had honoured and admired above
all the world my whole life long — had called down
curses on us both the very last time that he and I
stood face to face — what with all this, I say, and
what with the season and its associations, I had
sister Johanna's story. 209
such a great restlessness and anguish upon me that
I sat up trying to read my Bible long after mother
had gone to bed. But my thoughts wandered
continually from the text, and at last the restlessness
so gained upon me that I could sit still no longer,
and so got up and walked about the room.
And now suddenly, while I was pacing to and
fro, I heard, or fancied I heard, a voice in the
garden calling to me by name. I stopped — I
listened— I trembled. My very heart stood still!
Then, hearing no more, I opened the window and
outer shutters, and instantly there rushed in a torrent
of icy cold air and a flood of brilliant moonlight,
and there, on the shining snow below, stood Ulrich
Himself, and yet so changed! Worn, haggard,
I saw him, I tell you, as plainly as I see my
own hand at this moment. He was standing close,
quite close, under the window, with the moonlight
full upon him.
"Ulrich!" I said, and my own voice sounded
strange to me, somehow, in the dead waste and
silence of the night — "Ulrich, are you come to tell
me we are friends again?"
But instead of answering me he pointed to a
mark on his forehead — a small dark mark, that
looked at this distance and by this light like a
bruise — cried aloud with a strange wild cry, less
like a human voice than a far-off echo, "The brand
of Cain! The brand of Cain!" and so flung up his
The Black Forest. 1 4
210 SISTER JOHANNA'S STORY.
arms with a despairing gesture, and fled away into
The rest of my story may be told in a few
words — the fewer the better. Insane with the desire
of vengeance, Ulrich Finazzer had tracked the
fugitives from place to place, and slain his brother
at mid-day in the streets of Rome. He escaped
unmolested, and was well nigh over the Austrian
border before the authorities began to inquire into
the particulars of the murder. He then, as was
proved by a comparison of dates, must have come
straight home by way of Mantua, Verona, and
Botzen, with no other object, apparently, than to
finish the statue that he had designed for an offering
to the church. He worked upon it, accordingly, as
I have said, for four days and nights incessantly,
completed it to the last degree of finish, and then,
being in who can tell how terrible a condition of
remorse, and horror, and despair, sought to expiate
his crime with his blood. They found him shot
through the head by his own hand, lying quite dead
at the feet of the statue upon which he had been
working, probably, up to the last moment; his tools
lying close by; the pistol still fast in his clenched
hand, and the divine pitying face of the Redeemer
whose law he had outraged, bending over him as if
in sorrow and forgiveness.
Our mother has now been dead some years;
strangers occupy the house in which Ulrich Finazzer
came to his dreadful death; and already the double
tragedy is almost forgotten. In the sad, faded
sister Johanna's story. 211
woman, prematurely grey, who lives with me, ever
working silently, steadily, patiently, from morning
till night at our hereditary trade, few who had
known her in the freshness of her youth would now
recognise my beautiful Katrine. Thus from day to
day, from year to year, we journey on together,
nearing the end.
Did I indeed see Ulrich Finazzer that night of
his self-murder? If I did so with my bodily eyes
and it was no illusion of the senses, then most
surely I saw him not in life, for that dark mark
which looked to me in the moonlight like a bruise
was the bullet-hole in his brow.
But did I see him? It is a question I ask my-
self again and again, and have asked myself for
years. Ah! who can answer it?
A STORY OF CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE.
[This story, written some seventeen or eighteen
years ago, was founded, to the best of my recollec-
tion, on the particulars of a French trial that I
read in some old volume of Causes CelZbres, or
Causes Judiciaires, the title of which I have now
forgotten. I no longer remember how much of it
is fact, or how much fiction; or even whether the
names and dates are retained unaltered.]
It was a sultry day in the month of August,
a.d. 1 710. The place was wild and solitary enough
— a narrow ledge of rock jutting out from a pre-
cipitous mountain-side in the department of the
Haute Auvergne. The mountain was volcanic —
bare and blackened towards the west; grassy to the
east and south; clothed with thick chestnut-woods
about the base. A sea of dusky peaks stretched
all around. The deep blue sky burned overhead.
All was repose; all was silence — silence in the grass,
in the air, on the mountain-side.
Upon this shelf of rock lay three men, sound
asleep; with their heads in the shade, their feet in
the sun, and the remains of a brown loaf and a big
cheese lying beside them on the grass.
The air up here was as still to-day, and as
languid, as down in the green valleys below. To-
wards the south, a faint white mist dulled the dis-
tance; but in the direction of Clermont, on the
north, every summit rose clear and keen against the
sky. Most conspicuous amongst these was the long-
2l6 all-saints' eve.
toothed ridge of the Mont Dor; and loftiest of all,
though apparently farthest, the solitary summit of
the Puy de Dome. Here and there a few scattered
sheep or cows might be seen as mere moving specks
on some green slope of high level pasture. Now
and then, the faint bleating of a stray lamb, or the
bark of a herdsman's dog, or the piping of some
distant shepherd boy "piping as though he should
never grow old," just stirred the silence. But for
these vague sounds and the low humming of insects
in the grass, all was so profoundly still that it
seemed as if Nature herself were holding her breath,
and as if the very perfumes were asleep in the hearts
of the wild flowers.
Suddenly, in the midst of this charmed silence,
the prolonged blast of a huntsman's horn, and the
deep baying of many hounds, came sweeping up
the ravine below. The sleepers sprang to their feet,
rubbed their eyes, and peered over the brink of the
" 'Tis Madame la Comtesse out with the hounds!"
said the elder of the three — a big, burly, sun-
browned mountaineer of some fifty-five or sixty years
"Peste! It is my luck never to be in the way
when she rides!" exclaimed one of the two younger
herdsmen. "Here is the third time our new mis-
tress has hunted of late, and I have never yet seen
The horns rang out again, but this time farther
away and more faintly. Once more, and it was but
all-saints' eve. 217
a breath upon the breeze. Then all was silent as
"They have gone round by the Gorge des
Loups," said the elder of the trio.
Then, looking round the horizon, he added: —
"There is a storm brewing somewhere — and the
shadows are lengthening. 'Tis time we went down
to the Buron, lads, and saw to the milking."
Now these three constituted the usual triumvirate
of the Haute Auvergne — the vacher, or cowkeeper,
(sometimes called the buronnier) who makes the
cheeses which form the principal revenue of the
landowners in this part of France; the boutilier who
makes the butter; and the pdtre, or herdsman, who
looks after the cows, and keeps the Buron and dairy
in order. The distinctions of rank among these
three are strictly observed.
The vacher is a person of authority, "a wise
fellow, and, what is more, an officer;" the boutilier
comes next in dignity; and the pdtre is under both.
The Buron, or little wooden hut, in which they live
during the six Summer months, in Switzerland
would be called a chalet. It is generally built of
wood, and divided into three chambers, the first of
which is for living and cooking in, and is provided
with a rude fire-place and chimney; the second is
for the cheese-making, and contains milk-pails,
churns, and other implements; the third serves for
a cheese-room, store-room, and sleeping-room. A
small kitchen-garden, a stable, a pigsty, and an
enclosure in which the cattle take refuge in rough
weather, completes the establishment.
21 8 all-saints' eve.
The Buron to which the three herdsmen now
took their way stood on a green slope surrounded
by oaks, about six hundred feet below the spot on
which they had been sleeping. As they went along,
the cows came to their call and followed them,
knowing that milking-time was come. Every cow
— and there were fifty in all — was branded on the
flank with a coronet and an initial P, thus showing
them to be the property of the Countess de Pey-
relade, a young and wealthy widow whose estates ex-
tended for many miles to the eastward of the Plomb
de Cantal. Other herds, other Burons, other de-
pendents, she had scattered about the neighbouring
hillsides, all portioned off in the same way — namely,
fifty cows and three men to each district.
"Tell us, Pere Jacques," said the boutilier when,
the milking being done, the men sat outside the
Buron door, smoking and chatting, "tell us what
our new lady is like."
"Like!" repeated the cowkeeper. "Eh, mon
gargon, it would take a more skilful tongue than
mine to describe her! She is more beautiful than
the Madonna in the Cathedral of St. Flour."
"When did you see her, Pere Jacques, and
where?" asked the pdtre.
"Mon en/ant, I have seen her from near by and
from afar off. I have seen her as a child, a demoi-
selle, a bride, a widow. I have carried her in my
arms, and danced her on my knee, many and many
a time. Ah! that surprises you; but the snow has
fallen for many a Winter on the summit of Mount
Cantal since that time."
all-saints' eve. 219
"Then it was a great many years ago, Father
Jacques. How old is Madame la Comtesse!"
"Twenty-five years at the most, come September,"
replied Jacques. "And she's so fresh and beautiful
that she does not yet look above eighteen. We
always used to call her the little Queen Marguerite;
and sure, if a young girl were to be made a queen
for her beauty, Marguerite would have been crowned
ten years ago. Ah, when she married the old
Comte de Peyrelade and went away to the King's
court, there was not a soul in the province but
missed her. It was a blessing even to look upon
her; she was so fair, so smiling, so gracious! From
everybody you heard, 'Well, have you been told
the news'? The little Queen Marguerite is gone!'
And all the men sighed, and the women cried; and
it was a sad day for the poor folks. Well, nine
years have gone by since then. She has at last
come back to us; the old Count is dead; and our
little Queen will live with us once more, till the end
of her days!"
"Perhaps," said the boutilier, who had hitherto
"Why perhaps?" said Pere Jacques, knitting his
grey brows, "why perhaps 1 ?"
"Is not Madame young and beautiful?" asked
the boutilier. "Is she not rich? Why, then, should
she bury herself for life in an old chateau? What
will you bet that she does not go back to court be-
fore twelve months are over, and there marry some
rich and handsome lord?"
"Hush! Pierre," replied Jacques, in a moody
220 ALL-SAINTS' EVE.
voice; "I tell you she will neither marry nor leave
us. She has made a vow to that effect."
"Do ladies keep those vows'?" asked the incre-
"She will. Listen, and I will tell you all that
passed nine years ago in the Chateau de Pradines,
the home of our little Queen Marguerite before her
The two lads drew nearer, and the cowkeeper
thus began: —
"The handsomest and noblest among all Mar-
guerite's lovers was M. le Chevalier de Fontane.
She preferred him; and though he was but a younger
son, with a lieutenant's commission, the old Baron
de Pradines consented to the marriage for love of
his daughter. The wedding-day was fixed. Then
news came that Monsieur George, the brother of
Mademoiselle Marguerite, was to have leave of ab-
sence from his regiment; and M. le Baron deferred
the marriage till his arrival — and sorely he repented
of it afterwards! Monsieur George was as much
disliked as his father and sister were beloved in the
province; and the day when he had first left it was
a day of rejoicing amongst us. It was late one
evening when he arrived at the chateau, bringing
with him an old gentleman. This gentleman was
the Count de Peyrelade. As soon as supper was
over, Monsieur George went to his father's chamber,
and there remained with him for a long time in
conversation. No one ever knew what passed be-
tween them; but the night was far spent when he
came out, and the next day M. le Baron, who had
ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 221
been full of life and health before the arrival of his
son, was confined to his bed in the extremity of illness.
A priest was sent for, and the last sacraments were
administered; and then the poor old gentleman
summoned all the household to take his farewell.
"'Marguerite,' said he to his daughter, who was
crying bitterly— 'Marguerite, I have but a few mo-
ments to live, and before I leave thee I have a
prayer to address to thee.' And as Mademoiselle
kissed his hands without being able to speak a
word, he added, 'My daughter, promise me to
marry M. de Peyrelade!'
"At these words the poor young lady gave a
great cry, and fell on her knees at the foot of her
father's bed. Then the Baron turned to the late
"'Monsieur,' said he, 'I know my daughter; she
will obey my commands. Promise me to make her
"The Count, greatly moved, promised to devote
his life to her; and the poor dear master fell back
"It was exactly twenty-four hours after his son's
arrival that M. le Baron breathed his last. What a
terrible night it was, boys! The rain and snow had
never ceased falling since that fatal return. M.
le Chevalier de Fontane, who knew nothing of what
had passed, came riding into the courtyard about
an ho.ur after the Baron had died. I ran out to
him, for I was a stableman in the chateau, and I
told him all that had happened. As he listened to
me, he became as pale as a corpse, and I saw him
222 ALL-SAINTS' EVE.
reel in his saddle. Then he plunged his spurs into
his horse's flanks, and fled away like a madman into
the storm. From that time he was never seen or
heard of again; but, as he took the road to the
mountains, it was supposed that he fell, with his
horse, into some chasm, and was buried in the
snow. Every year, on the anniversary of that day,
his family have a mass said for the repose of his
Here the cowkeeper crossed himself devoutly,
and his companions followed his example.
After a few minutes' silence, "Well, Pierre," he
said, "now do you understand why Madame la
Comtesse de Peyrelade has retired at the age of
twenty-five to live in a ruinous old Chateau of
Auvergne, and why she should never marry a second
The boutilier was so concerned that he had not
the heart to say a word; but the herdsman, who was
excessively curious, returned to the charge.
"You have not told us, Pere Jacques," said
he, "why the Baron desired his daughter to marry
the late Count instead of the Chevalier de Fon-
"I can only tell you the reports," replied Jacques;
"for nobody knows the truth of it. They said that
M. George owed more money to the Count de Pey-
relade than his father could pay, and that he had
sold the hand of his sister to defray the debt.
Every one knows that the Count was very much
in love with her, and that she had refused him
several times already."
all-saints' eve. 223
"Alas!" exclaimed Pierre, "I don't wonder at
the poor lady's determination. It is not her old
husband that she grieves for, but her father and her
lover; is it not, Pere Jacques]"
"Ay," replied the cowkeeper, "and it is not only
past troubles that the gentle soul has to bear, but
present troubles also! 'Tis not much peace, I fear,
that she will find in Auvergne."
"Why so, friend 1 ?" said a deep voice behind the
speakers, and a man of about thirty-eight or forty
years of age, with a pale face, a stooping figure,
and a melancholy expression of countenance came
suddenly into the midst of them. The mountaineer
and the ecclesiastic were oddly combined in his
attire; for with the cassock and band he wore
leathern gaiters, a powder-pouch and a cartridge-
box; while across his shoulders was slung a double-
barrelled musket. A couteau de chasse was thrust in
his leathern belt, and a magnificent mountain-dog
walked leisurely at his side.
"Good day, Monsieur le Cure," said the cow-
keeper, respectfully. "Welcome to the Buron. Have
you had good sport?"
"Not very, my good friend, not very," replied
"You are tired, Monsieur le Cure; come and
rest awhile in the Buron. We can give you fresh
milk and bread, and new cheese. Ah dame! you
will not find such refreshments here as at the
chateau, but they are heartily at your service."
"I will sit here with you, friends, and willingly
accept a draught of milk," said the priest, as he
224 ALL-SAINTS' EVE.
took his place beside them on the grass; "but upon
one condition; namely, that you will continue the
subject of your conversation as freely as if I were
not amongst you."
Pere Jacques was abashed and confounded. He
looked uneasily to the right, and then to the left;
and at last, having no other resource, "Eh bien!"
he exclaimed, "I will e'en speak the truth, Monsieur
le Cure, because it is wicked to tell a lie, and be-
cause you are a holy man and will not be offended
with me. We were talking of Madame and M.
George, the present Baron de Pradines. He is
actually living here in the chateau, and here he is
going to remain— M. George, the spendthrift brother
of Madame, to whom, through your intercession,
Monsieur le Cure, she is lately reconciled."
"Hush! Jacques," said the priest, gravely. "M.
de Pradines was wild in his youth; but he has
repented. It was he who made the first advances
towards a reconciliation with Madame."
"I know that, M. le Cure," said the moun-
taineer, "I know that; but the Baron is poor, and
knows how to look after his own interests. He is
here for no good, and no good will come of his
return. It is certain that the old well in the court-
yard of the chateau, which was dry for years, has
refilled these last few days; and you know that to
be a sure sign of some misfortune to the family."
"It is true," said the Cure superstitiously, "it is
And he grew thoughtful.
The mountaineers were silent; suddenly the
all-saints' eve. 225
priest's dog started and pricked up his ears. At
the same moment the report of a gun echoed
through the glen, and a white partridge, such as is
sometimes to be seen in the mountains after a
severe Winter, fell fluttering at the feet of the Cure.
Then followed a crashing of underwood and a
sound of rapid footsteps, and in another moment a
gentleman appeared, parting the bushes and escort-
ing a young lady who held the train of her hunting-
habit thrown across her arm. The gentleman was
laughing loudly, but the lady looked pale and dis-
tressed, and running towards the group under the
chestnut-trees, took up the wounded bird and kissed
it tenderly, exclaiming: —
"Ah, M. le Cure, you would not have killed
the pretty creature if I had begged its life, would
The priest coloured crimson.
"Madame," said he, falteringly, "this partridge
is wounded in the wing, but is not dead. Who
The young lady looked reproachfully at the
gentleman; the gentleman shrugged his shoulders
and laughed again, but less heartily than before.
"Oh, mea culpa!" he said, lightly. "I am the
culprit, Monsieur l'Abbe."
The Black Forest. 1 5
226 all-saints' eve.
The Baron de Pradines, late of the Royal Mus-
keteers and now captain in the Auvergne Dragoons,
was small and fair, like his sister, and about thirty-
five years of age. He looked, however, some years
older, pale, ennuye, and languid — as might be ex-
pected in a man who had spent a dissipated youth
in the gayest court of Europe.
Madame de Peyrelade, on the contrary, was
scarcely changed since Jacques had last seen her.
She was then sixteen; she was now five-and-twenty;
and, save in a more melancholy expression, a
sadder smile, and a bearing more dignified and
self-possessed, the good herdsman told himself that
nine years had left no trace of their flight over the
head of "la belle Marguerite" The Countess, being
still in mourning, wore a riding-dress of grey cloth
ornamented with black velvet, with a hat and plume
of the same colours. Thus attired, she so strongly
resembled the portraits of her namesake, the beauti-
ful Marguerite de Navarre, that one might almost
have fancied she had just stepped out of the canvas
upon that wild precipice amidst a group of still
wilder mountaineers, such as Salvator loved to
all-saints' eve. 227
There were some minutes of uneasy silence.
The wondering herdsmen had retreated into a little
knot; the captain bit his glove, and glanced at his
sister under his eyelashes; the Countess tapped her
little foot impatiently upon the ground; and the
Cure of St. Saturnin, with an awkward assump-
tion of indifference, bent his sallow face over the
wounded partridge, which was nestled within the
folds of his black serge cassock.
"Mordieu! sister," exclaimed the Baron, with
his unpleasant laugh, "are we all struck dumb at
this woeful catastrophe — this woodland tragedy?
Being the culprit, I am, however, ready to throw
myself at your feet. You prayed to me for mercy
just now, for a white partridge, and I denied it. I
now entreat it for myself, having offended you."
The Countess, smiling somewhat sadly, held out
her hand, which the dragoon kissed with an air of
"George," she said, "I am foolishly supersti-
tious about these white partridges. A person who
was very dear to me gave me once upon a time a
white partridge. One day it escaped. Was it an
evil omen? I know not; but I never saw that per-
The young man frowned impatiently, and, chang-
ing the conversation, exclaimed, with a disdainful
movement of the head: —
"We have the honour, Madame, to be the ob-
ject of your herdsmen's curiosity all this time. The
fellows, I should imagine, would be more fitly oc-
cupied among their cows. Or is it the custom on
228 all-saints' eve.
your estates, my amiable sister, that these people
should pass their time in idleness. A word to the
steward would not, methinks, be altogether out of
place on this subject."
The herdsmen shrank back at these words, which,
though uttered in the purest French of Versailles,
were sufficiently intelligible to their ears; but the
Countess, with a kindly smile, and a quick glance
towards the priest, undertook their defence.
It was holiday, she said, doubtless in consequence
of his own arrival in Auvergne; and besides, did
he not see that M. the good Cure has been deliver-
ing to them some pious exhortation, as was his
wont 1 ?
The priest blushed and bowed, and made an
inward resolution of penance that same night, for
participation in that innocent falsehood. It was his
first sin against truth.
At this moment the lady, looking towards the
little group of men, recognized Pere Jacques.
"If I do not mistake," she exclaimed, making
use of the mountain patois, "I see one of my oldest
friends yonder — a herdsman who used to be in my
father's service! Pere Jacques, is it really you?"
The herdsman stepped forward eagerly.
"Ah, Mam'selle Marguerite," he stammered, "is
it possible that — that you remember me?"
And he scarcely dared to touch with his lips
the gloved hand that his mistress gave him to kiss.
"George," said the Countess, "do you not re-
member Pere Jacques?"
"Ah! — yes," replied the Baron, carelessly; ad-
all-saints' eve. 229
ding, half aloud, "my dear sister, do not let us stay
here talking with these boors."
"Nay, brother, this place is not Versailles, Dieu
merci! Let me talk a little with my old friend —
he reminds me of the days when I was so happy."
"And so poor," muttered the dragoon between
his teeth, as he turned away and began talking
chasse with the Cure of St. Saturnin.
"And now tell me, Pere Jacques," said the
young Countess, seating herself at the foot of a
chestnut-tree, "why have you left the chateau de
"You were there no longer, Madame," said the
mountaineer, standing before her in a respectful at-
"But I was not here either."
"True; but Madame might, some day, grow
weary of the court; and I knew that sooner or later
she would come to Auvergne. Besides, here I
worked on Madame's property, and ate of her
"Poor Pere Jacques! you also think sometimes
Of the old days at Pradines?"
"Sometimes! — it seems as if it were but yester-
day, Mam'selle, that I carried you in my arms, and
ran beside you when you rode Fifine, the black
pony, and heard your laugh in the court-yard and
your foot in the garden! Ah, Madame, those were
the happy times, when the hunt came round, and
Monsieur your father, and yourself, and Monsieur
the Chevalier de Fon . Oh, pardon, Madame!
pardon! — what have I said!"
230 all-saints' eve.
And the herdsman stopped, terrified and re-
morseful; for at that name the lady had turned
"Hush, my good friend," she said, falteringly.
"It is nothing." Then, after a brief pause and a
rapid glance towards her brother and the priest,
"Come nearer, Jacques," she said, in a subdued
tone. "One word — Was the body ever discovered?"
She shaded her face with her hand, and so re-
mained for some moments without speaking. She
then resumed in a low voice: —
"A terrible death, Jacques! He must have
fallen down some precipice."
"Alas! Madame, it may have been so."
"Do you remember the last day that we all
hunted together at Pradines 1 ? The anniversary of
that day comes round again to-morrow. Poor
Eugene! . . . Take my purse, Pere Jacques, and
share its contents with your companions — but re-
serve a louis to purchase some masses for the re-
pose of his soul. Say that they are for your friend
and benefactor — for he was always good to you.
He has often spoken of you to me. Will you
promise me this, Pere Jacques?"
The herdsman was yet assuring her of his
obedience, when the priest and her brother came
forward and interrupted them.
"My dear sister," said M. de Pradines, "the sun
is fast going down, and we have but another hour
of daylight. Our friend here, M. le Cure, ap-
ALL-SAINTS EVE. 23 1
prehends a storm. It were best we rejoined our
huntsmen, and began to return."
"A storm, mon frlre" said Madame de Peyre-
lade with surprise. "Impossible! The sky is per-
fectly clear. Besides, it is so delightful under these
old trees — I should like to remain a short time
"It might be imprudent, Madame la Comtesse,"
said the Cure timidly, as he cast a hurried glance
along the horizon. "Do you not see those light
vapours about the summit of Mont Cantal, and that
low bank of clouds behind the forest 1 ? I greatly
mistake if we have not a heavy storm before an
hour, and I should counsel you to take the road
for the chateau without delay."
"Come hither, Pere Jacques," said the lady,
smiling, "you used to be my oracle at Pradines.
Will there be a storm to-night 1 ?"
The old mountaineer raised his head, and
snuffed the breeze like a stag-hound.
"M. le Cure is right," he said. "The night-
wind is rising, and there is a tempest close at
hand. See the cows, how they are coming up the
valley for shelter in the stalls! They know what
this wind says."
"To horse! to horse!" cried the dragoon, as he
raised his silver horn and blew a prolonged blast.
"We have no time to lose; the roads are long and
A clear blast from the valley instantly echoed
to his summons, and the next moment a group of
men and dogs were seen hurrying up the slope.
232 all-saints' eve.
"Farewell, my friends," said the Countess; "fare-
well, Pere Jacques! M. le Cure, you will return
and dine with us?"
"Madame, I thank you; but — but this is a fast-
day with me."
"Well, to-morrow. You will come to-morrow?
I will sing you some of those old songs you are so
fond of! Say yes, M. le Cure."
"Madame la Comtesse will graciously excuse
me. I must catechise the children of the district
"But my brother returns to-morrow to his regi-
ment — you will come to bid him farewell?"
"Monsieur de Pradines has already accepted my
good wishes and compliments."
"The day after to-morrow, then, M. le Cure?"
"Madame, I will endeavour."
"But you promise nothing. Ah, monsieur, for
some time past you have been very sparing of your
visits. Have I offended you that you will no longer
honour me with your company?"
"Offended me! — oh Madame!"
These words were uttered with an accent and
an expression so peculiar that the young lady looked
up in surprise, and saw that the priest's eyes were
full of tears.
For a moment she was silent; then, affecting an
air of gaiety, "Adieu, M. le Cure," she cried as she
turned away; "be more neighbourly in future."
Then, seeing that he still held the wounded
partridge, "Alas! that poor bird," she exclaimed; "it
is trembling still!"
all-saints' eve. 233
"Ah, Madame la Comtesse," said Pere Jacques.
"I'll engage that, if M. le Cure opened his hand,
that cunning partridge would be a mile away in
half a minute!"
"Do you think it will live? Well, Pere Jacques,
take care of it for my sake. Feed it for two or
three days, and then give the poor bird its liberty."
"Sister!" said the dragoon, in a tone of im-
patience, "the storm is coming on."
"Adieu all!" were the last words of the Countess,
as she took her brother's arm, and went down the
rough pathway leading to the valley.
In a few minutes more they had mounted their
horses and set off at a quick gallop towards the
turreted chateau that peeped above the trees three
miles away. The priest and the herdsmen stood
watching them in silence till they disappeared round
an angle of rock, and listened till the faint echo of
the horns died away in the distance.
"Dear little Queen Marguerite!" exclaimed Pere
Jacques, when all was silent. "Dear little Queen
Marguerite, how good and kind she is!"
"And how beautiful!" murmured the priest.
Then taking a little leathern purse from his
breast, he slipped an icu into the mountaineer's
"Good Jacques," said he, "I will take care of
the partridge; but say nothing to the Countess when
you see her again. Good evening, friends, and
thanks for your hospitality!"
And the Cur£ threw his gun across his shoulder,
234 all-saints' eve.
whistled to his dog, and turned towards the path-
At the same moment a gathering peal of thunder
rolled over the distant mountains; and the summit
of Mont Cantal, visible a few moments since, was
covered with thick black clouds.
"Monsieur le Cure!" cried the herdsmen, with
one voice, "come back! the storm is beginning.
Come back, and take shelter in the Buron!"
"The storm!" replied the priest, raising his eyes
to the heavens. "Thanks, my friends, thanks! God
sends the storm. Pray to Him!"
While he spoke , there came a flash of lightning
that seemed to rend open the heavens. The herds-
men crossed themselves devoutly. But the Cure of
St. Saturnin had disappeared already down the
The storm came on more swiftly than they had
expected. All that evening the mountains, which
here extend for more than three leagues in one un-
broken chain, echoed back the thunder. Sturdy
oaks and mountain pines that had weathered every
storm for fifty years, were torn up from their firm
rootage. Huge fragments of rock, white and
tempest-scarred from long exposure on bleak
mountain-heights, were shivered by the lightning,
and fell like fierce avalanches into the depths
All was darkness. The rain came down in piti-
less floods; the thunder never seemed to cease, for
before the doubling echoes had half died away,
fresh peals renewed and mocked them. Every flash
all-saints' eve. 235
of lightning revealed for an instant the desolate
landscape, the rocking trees, the swollen torrents
rushing in floods to the valley. It was scarcely like
lightning, but seemed as if the whole sky opened
and blinded the world with fire.
Meanwhile the Countess and her brother ar-
rived safely at the Chateau de Peyrelade; and,
having changed their wet garments, were sitting be-
fore a blazing log-fire, in the big salon overlooking
the valley. Both were silent. Their reconciliation
had not been, as yet, of long duration. Marguerite
could not forget her wrongs, and the Baron felt
embarrassed in her presence. It is true that he en-
deavoured to conceal his embarrassment under an
excess of courteous respect; but his smiles looked
false, and his attentions always appeared, to his
sister at least, to wear an air of mockery. And so
they sat in the great salon and listened to the
It was a gloomy place at all times, but gloomier
now than ever, with the winds howling round it and
the rain dashing blindly against the windows. Great
oaken panellings and frowning ancestral portraits
adorned the walls, with here and there a stand of
arms, a rusty helmet and sword, or a tattered flag
that shivered when the storm swept by. Old
cabinets inlaid with tortoiseshell and tarnished or-
molu were placed between the heavy crimson dra-
peries that hung before the windows; a long oaken
table stood in the centre of the room; and above
the fire-place the ghastly skull and antlers of a royal
236 all-saints' eve.
deer seemed to nod spectrally in the flickering light
of the wood-fire.
At length the Baron broke silence: —
"What are you thinking about so intently, Ma-
dame 1 ?" said he.
"I am wondering," replied the lady, "if any hap-
less travellers are out in this heavy storm. If so,
heaven have mercy on them!"
"Ah, truly," replied the brother, carelessly. "By
the way, that poor devil of a Cure, who would not
come to dinner, I wonder if he got safely back to
his den at Saturnin. Do you know, Marguerite, 'tis
my belief that the holy man is smitten with your
'■'■Monsieur mon fre're!" exclaimed the lady in-
dignantly, "if you forget your own position and
mine, I must beg you at least to remember the pro-
fession of the holy man whom you calumniate. He
is ill repaid for his goodness towards you by
language such as this! But for his intercessions you
would not now be my guest at Peyrelade."
"I beg a thousand pardons, my dear sister,"
said the Baron lightly. "Pray do not attach such
importance to a mere jest. Ce cher Cure! he has
not a better friend in the world than myself. By-
the-by, has he happened to mention to you the
dilapidated state of the chapel at Pradines 1 ? It
should be put into proper repair, and would cost a
mere trifle — three hundred louis — which sum, how-
ever, I really cannot at present command. Now, my
dear sister, you are so kind . . . ."
"George," said the Countess, gravely, "M. le
ALL- SAINTS' EVE. 237
Cure has not spoken to me of anything of the kind.
I will not, however, refuse this sum to you; but do
not deceive me. Shall you really put the money to
this use 1 ? Have you quite given up play?"
"Au diable la morale!" muttered the dragoon
between his teeth. Then he added, aloud, "If I ask
it for any other use, I wish I may be — "
"No more, M. le Baron," interrupted the lady.
"To-morrow morning you shall have the three hun-
As she spoke these last words, a loud knocking
was heard at the outer gates of the chateau.
"Bravo!" cried the Baron, delighted at this in-
terruption to the conversation. "Here is a visitor.
Yet, no; for what visitor in his senses would come
out on such a night? It must be a message from
It was neither, for in a few moments a servant
entered, saying that an accident had occurred to a
traveller a short distance from the chateau. His
horse, taking fright at the fall of a large fragment
of rock, had become unmanageable, and had flung
himself and his rider over a steep bank. Happily,
some bushes had served to break the force of their
fall, or they must inevitably have been much in-
jured. As it was, however, the gentleman was a
good deal hurt, and his servant entreated shelter
within the walls of the chateau.
The Countess desired that the traveller should
be brought into the salon, and a horseman be de-
spatched to the nearest town for a surgeon.
238 all-saints' eve.
"Ah, brother," said she, "I had a presentiment
of evil this night! Alas, the unfortunate gentleman!
Throw on more logs, I beseech you, and draw
this couch nearer to the fire, that we may lay him
The door was again opened, and the stranger's
groom, assisted by the people of the chateau, brought
in the wounded traveller, whom they laid upon the
couch beside the fire. He was a young man of
twenty-eight or thirty, slightly made, and dressed in
a foreign military uniform.
The Countess, who had advanced to render
some assistance, suddenly retreated and became
"What is the matter, Marguerite? What ails
you?" cried her brother.
She made no reply, but leaned heavily upon his
arm. At this moment the traveller, who began to
recover when placed near the warmth, raised his
head feebly, and looked around him. All at once
his vague and wandering glance rested on Mar-
guerite. Instantly a look of recognition flashed into
his eyes. Then he raised himself by a convulsive
effort, and fell back again, insensible as before.
The Baron de Pradines, who had attentively ob-
served this scene, turned to the stranger's groom,
and asked him in a low voice the name of his
He could not repress a start when the man re-
plied — "My master, Monsieur, is called the Cheva-
lier de Fontane."
all-saints' eve. 239
"Ah!" said the ex-captain of Royal Musketeers,
as he rent one of his lace ruffles into tiny shreds
that fell upon the floor, "I will not leave to-mor-
row ! "
240 all-saints' eve.
Andre Bernard, Cure of the parish of St. Sa-
turnin, was sitting in the little parlour which served
him for breakfast-room, dining-room, and study.
He had just said mass in the tiny chapel adjoining
his garden; and now the peasants were dispersing
towards their various homes, or clustering in little
knots beneath the road-side trees, discussing the
weather, the harvest, or the arrival of their lady the
Countess in her chateau at Auvergne.
The pastor had hastened back to his cottage,
and was already seated in his great leathern arm-
chair, busily cleaning his gun, which was laid across
his knees; but at the same time, in order that mind
and body should be equally employed, he was
devoutly reading an office from the breviary which
lay open on a stool beside him. His dog lay at his
feet, sleeping. His modest array of books filled a
couple of shelves behind his chair; the open window
looked upon the mountain-country beyond, and ad-
mitted a sweet breath from the clustering Provence
roses that hung like a frame-work round the case-
ment. The floor was sanded. A few coloured
prints of the Virgin and various saints upon the
walls; a small black crucifix above the fire-place; a
ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 24I
clock, and an old oak press behind the door, make
up the list of furniture in the Cure's salon de com-
Opposite to her master, seated in a second high-
backed leathern chair, the very brother to his own,
an old woman who played the important part of
housekeeper in the parsonage, sat silently spinning
flax and superintending the progress of a meagre
pot age that was "simmering" on the fire. Not a
sound was heard in the chamber save the monotonous
rattle of the spindle, and the heavy breathing of the
dog; save now and then when the priest turned a
leaf of his breviary. The old woman cast frequent
glances at her master through her large tortoise-
shell spectacles, and seemed several times about to
address him, but as often checked herself, in respect
to his holy employment.
At last she could keep silence no longer.
"Monsieur le Cure," she exclaimed, in that shrill
tone which age and long familiarity appears to
authorise in old servants, "Monsieur le Cure, will
you never have finished reading your breviary 1 ?"
The Abbe, who did not seem to hear her in the
least, went on mechanically rubbing his gun, and
murmuring words of the Latin office.
The old lady repeated her question — this time
with more effect; for Andre Bernard slowly raised
his head, fixed his eyes vacantly upon her, and
resting the butt-end of his musket on the floor,
made the sign of the cross, and reverently closed
"Jeannette," said he, gravely, "here is a screw
The Black Forest. *6
242 all-saints' eve.
in the gun-barrel that will not hold any longer;
fetch me the box of nails and screws, that I may fit
it with a fresh one."
Having said these words, he opened the bre-
viary in a fresh place, and resumed his orisons.
"Here, Monsieur le Cure," said the good house-
keeper, somewhat testily, bringing out a little box
of gunsmith's tools from a corner cupboard, "here
is what you asked for; but I think there must be
some spell on your musket if it wants mending with
the little use you make of it! There is no danger
of your ever wanting a new one, I'm certain. Then
your powder — it never diminishes! I have not filled
your pouch for the last three weeks. Truly we
should starve but for the eggs and vegetables; and
the saints know that our larder has been empty for
a long time!"
"What is the matter, my poor Jeannette 1 ?" said
the priest, kindly, as he again looked up from his
breviary. "I do not know how it is, but the game
has fled from me lately."
"Say rather, Monsieur le Cure, that it is you
who fly from the game ! The other day M. Gaspard,
the schoolmaster, told me that he met you on the
mountains, and that a great hare ran past you at a
yard's distance, and you only looked at it as if it
had been a Christian!"
"The schoolmaster must have mistaken, Jean-
"Oh, no, Monsieur le Cure; Gaspard's eyes are
excellent! Then your breviary — it is frightful to see
you reading from morning till night, from night till
all-saints' eve. 243
morning, instead of being out in the fresh air, and
bringing back a good store of game for ourselves
and our neighbours. How shall we live 1 ? If you
will not kill, you must buy — and your money all
goes in charity. Ah, Monsieur, you must indeed be
more industrious with your gun!"
"Well, Jeannette, I promise to reform," said the
priest, smiling; "I will go out this afternoon, and
try to be more successful."
"Indeed I should advise it, Monsieur le Cure;
and above all do not come back, as you did yester-
day, wet to the skin, and bringing what, forsooth 1 ? —
nothing but a miserable partridge!"
"Ah! but I do not mean to make a supper
of that partridge, my good Jeannette: I mean to
"To keep it — holy Virgin! Keep a partridge!
A live partridge! Why, Monsieur, it would devour
our corn, and cost as much as twenty canaries. If
you do these things, Monsieur, instead of giving
alms you will have to beg."
"Be calm, Jeannette, my good Jeannette; we
shall never be ruined by a partridge. Besides, it is
a rare bird. Bring it here to me."
"Rare, Monsieur le Cure! I have seen them
over and over again after a severe winter."
"Well, Jeannette, for my sake take care of this
poor little bird, for I value it greatly. Bring it here;
I wish to feed it myself."
The good housekeeper looked uneasily at her
master through her great spectacles, and began
244 All-saints' eve.
glancing from right to left in evident tribulation.
She did not offer, however, to rise from her seat.
"Are you dreaming, Jeannette?" said the priest,
with much surprise; "did you hear me?"
"Oh, yes, Monsieur le Cure. The — the par-
tridge. . . ."
"Well — that is, Monsieur le Cur6, you will be a
little vexed, I fear — perhaps — but the partridge — "
"Will you speak, Jeannette?"
"There — Monsieur le Cure — there was nothing
in the house for supper, Monsieur le Cure — and —
and so I — "
"Wretch! have you killed it?"
And the priest sprang from his seat, pale with
anger, and advanced towards the terrified house-
keeper, who fell upon her knees, and clasped her
hands in a speechless appeal for mercy.
Even the dog ran trembling under the table,
and uttered a low deprecatory howl.
Recalled to himself by the panic of his house-
hold, Andre Bernard threw himself back into his
chair, and covered his face with his hands. Could
one have removed those fingers, they would have
seen large tears upon his sunken cheeks.
At this moment the door was opened quickly,
and a man entered the room. The priest rose pre-
cipitately from his chair, for in the intruder he saw
no less a person than the Baron de Pradines.
"Excuse my intrusion, Monsieur le Cure," said
the gentleman, whose features wore an expression
of peculiar anxiety. "I wish to speak with you in
all-saints' eve. 245
private." And he glanced towards the still-kneeling
Jeannette. "You see I have not yet returned to my
regiment. I have, for the present, changed my plans.
Pray who is this woman?"
"She is my housekeeper, Monsieur le Baron:
she — she was in prayer when you entered," said
Andre Bernard, telling another falsehood to account
for the strange position of Jeannette.
Poor Abbe! he blushed and faltered, and men-
tally vowed another penance for his sin.
"Jeannette," he said, "you may go. I will hear
the rest of your confession in the evening."
The Baron smiled furtively as the old lady rose
and left the room — he had, unfortunately heard the
latter part of the pretended confession.
"Now, Monsieur le Cure," said he, "I have
come to consult you on a very grave and important
subject. You are renowned in all this district for
your piety and learning; tell me, do you consider
vows to be sacred and indissoluble?"
The priest was surprised to hear these words
from the lips of a gentleman whose reputation for
light morals and free views was so extensively
known; but after a few moments' consideration —
"There are several kinds of vows, Monsieur le
Baron," he replied; "there are vows by which we
bind ourselves to the service of God, and those
never must be broken. Then there are vows rashly
uttered in times of mental excitement, by which
people engage themselves to perform acts of sacri-
fice or penance."
"Ah, it is of such that I would speak!" said the
246 all-saints' eve.
captain. "What of those? Think well, M. le
Cure, before you answer me."
"It is doubtless a great sin," replied the priest,
"not to fulfil such vows; but still I do not think
that the good God in His mercy would desire to
chastise eternally an erring creature who had thus
offended him; especially if the vow were made un-
der the strong influence of human passion."
The dragoon bit his lips angrily.
"I am no churchman, Monsieur le Cure," said
he roughly, "but I cannot agree with you there.
Do you forget that God commanded Abraham to
sacrifice Isaac his son 1 ?"
"Yes, but I also remember that He sent an
angel to arrest the father's hand."
"Possibly," said the Baron, with a bitter laugh;
"but I do not believe anything of the kind myself!"
Andre Bernard raised his eyes to the ceiling, in
After a moment, George de Pradines drew his
chair beside the priest, and continued: —
"And yet, Monsieur le Cure, I have something
to tell you that I think will change your opinion in
the matter of vows."
"Proceed," murmured the priest, who was al-
ready troubled with a presentiment of evil.
"Since we parted last night, strange things have
happened at the chateau. A wounded traveller has
arrived — a traveller whom we believed long since
dead. He lives. Eh bieti, Monsieur le Cure, can
you guess who he is?"
"Monsieur le Baron — I — I know not," murmured
all-saints' eve. 247
the priest; and for the third time Andre Bernard
uttered an untruth.
"I am really surprised, Monsieur le Cure at
your want of penetration. Well, it is the Chevalier
At this name the priest turned pale and trembled.
He looked silently upon the ground.
"Listen, Monsieur le Cure," cried the young
man determinedly; "dissimulation avails nothing.
My sister is a rich widow, and I shall be ruined if
she breaks her solemn vow never to marry a second
time. I have already procured large sums of money
upon the reversion of her estate, when she either
dies or adopts a conventual life. I am not a man
who could pass his days agreeably at the galleys.
My future depends solely on her vow, and she
must not marry a second time."
"But, Monsieur le Baron, it seems to me that
you leap at too hasty a conclusion. Your fears
may be without foundation. Madame may not wish
to be absolved from her vow — Monsieur le Chevalier
may no longer be desirous "
"Bah!" interrupted the Baron, savagely, "what
eke is he here for 1 ? His servant has told me all.
He has been for eight or nine years serving in the
Prussian army; during all that time he kept a strict
watch upon France. At length he heard of the
death of the late Count de Peyrelade: he obtained
leave of absence when a decent time had elapsed.
Loving and hoping more ardently than ever, he set
off for Auvergne; he met with this accident at the
248 ALL-SAINTS' EVE.
very gates of the chateau, (would that it had killed
him!); and there he is!"
The priest was silent.
"You see, Monsieur le Cure, there is but one
way to prevent this marriage. My sister is pious,
and rests every faith in your sanctity. She will sigh
— perhaps she will weep; but is it for a priest, a
minister of the church, to be swayed by trifles of
this kind 1 ? No! it is for the sake of religion and
heaven, Monsieur le Cure, that you will be firm
and faithful to your trust. It is nothing to you if
my fortunes fail or prosper — if a young woman
weeps or smiles — you must fulfil the disinterested
duties of your sacred calling— you must maintain
the sanctity of vows— you must rescue my sister
from the abyss of crime into which she is fall-
"It is quite true," said the poor Abbe, tremu-
"Then you will render your utmost assistance?"
said the Baron eagerly.
"Yes," murmured the priest.
"Monsieur le Cure, you are a holy man, and
you have my esteem."
The Abbe blushed and accepted the proffered
hand of the dragoon. At that moment some one
knocked at the door.
"Who is there?" said the Abbe, starting like a
"It is I," replied old Jeannette. "A servant
from the chateau presents the compliments of Ma-
all-saints' eve. 249
dame la Comtesse, and requests M. le Cure to pay
her a visit directly on urgent business."
"You see," said the Baron, "my sister has her
scruples already. Go quickly, my dear Abbe, and
do not forget that the interests of the church are in
your hands. It is a holy mission!"
"A holy mission!" repeated the priest, as he
turned to leave the room. "A holy mission! O
mon Dieu, mon Dieu! do not forsake thy servant!"
250 all-saints' eve.
Andre Bernard arrived at the Chateau de
Peyrelade like a man walking in his sleep. He found
that he had been ushered into the Countess's
boudoir, and that he was sitting there awaiting her
arrival, without having the faintest remembrance of
the forest through which he must have come, the
gates through which he must have passed, or the
staircase which he must have ascended. Truly
the Abbe Bernard had been asleep, and his sleep
had lasted for two months. Now he was slowly
awaking, and it was the stern reality of his position
that so bewildered him.
The charm which spread itself round the young
and beautiful Countess had not been unfelt by this
lonely priest, whose calm and passionless existence
had hitherto been passed in the society of an aged
housekeeper, or of a simple and untaught peasantry.
Seeing nothing for long years beyond the narrow
limits of his own little world — his parsonage, his
chapel, or his parishioners; familiar only with the
savage grandeur of the mountains, or the cool still-
nesses of the valleys, is it to be wondered at that
the presence of an accomplished and graceful
woman should blind the reason of a simple Cure?
all-saints' eve. 251
Even at this moment, the perfumed atmosphere
of the boudoir intoxicated him. Exotics of exqui-
site shape and colour, with long drooping leaves
and heavy white and purple blossoms, were piled
against the windows; a Persian carpet, gorgeous
with eastern dyes —
" Orange and azure deep'ning into gold,"
was spread beneath his feet. Yonder was her lute;
here were some of her favourite books; all around,
draperies of pink silk fell from the ceiling, and cur-
tained round the boudoir like a tent.
The Abbe laid his head upon his hand, and
When he again looked up, the Countess was
standing beside him, with an unwonted trouble in
her face — a trouble that might have been pity, or
anxiety, or shame, or a mingling of all three.
She began to speak; she hesitated; her voice
trembled, and her words were indistinct.
Andre Bernard was suddenly aroused from his
dream. The lover, not the priest, was awakened.
He rose abruptly.
"Madame la Comtesse," he said, sternly, "spare
yourself useless and sinful words. I know why you
have sent for me to-day; and I tell you that the All-
Powerful who has received your vow, commands you
by my lips to observe its sanctity."
The young woman cast a terrified glance at the
gloomy countenance of the priest, and hid her face
in her hands.
2 $2 ALL- SAINTS' EVE.
"Then, Monsieur le Cure, the All-Powerful bids
"No, you will not die," replied the Abbe, in the
same profound and steady voice — "you will not die.
Heaven, which gave you strength to bear the first
separation, will enable you to sustain the second."
"Alas! alas!" cried the Countess, in a piercing
tone, "I had thought to be so happy!"
The priest dug his nails into the palms of his
clenched hands. A convulsive tremor shook him
from head to foot, and he gasped for breath. Before
he had seen her, he had prepared a host of holy
consolations for the wounded heart; but now that
he had it before him, trembling and bleeding like
the stricken bird which had nestled in his breast the
night before, he had not a word of comfort or pity
to soothe her anguish. Every tear that forced its
way between her slender fingers, fell like a burning
coal upon the conscience of the good Cure\ In this
cruel perplexity he murmured a brief prayer for
strength and guidance.
"Alas, Madame," he faltered, "do you then love
him so deeply 1 ?"
"I have loved him all my life!" she cried de-
The priest was silent. He threw open the win-
dow, and suffered the evening breeze to cool his
brow and lift his long black hair.
Then he returned.
"Marguerite," he said, in a broken voice, "be it
as you will. In the name of the living God, I release
you from your vow; and if in this a wrong should
ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 253
be committed, henceforth I take that sin upon my
Powerfully moved, glowing with excitement,
elevated for the moment by a rapture of generosity
— feeling, perhaps, as the martyrs of old, when they
went triumphant to their deaths, and sealed their
faith with blood — so Andre Bernard stood in the
glory of the setting sun, rapt, illumined, glorified.
And Marguerite de Peyrelade, dimly conscious of
the dark struggle that had passed through his soul
and the divine victory which he had achieved, fell
on her knees as to a deity, calling upon him as her
saviour, her benefactor!
"Not unto me, Marguerite, but unto Him," said
Andre, releasing his hand gently from her lips, and
pointing upwards. "It is not I who give you happi-
ness. C'est Dieu qui Venvoie. Priez Dieuf" And
he pointed to a crucifix against the wall.
The young woman bowed before the sacred
emblem in speechless gratitude, and when she rose
from her knees the priest was gone.
In an hour from this time, two persons were sit-
ting together on the terrace, upon which opened the
Countess's boudoir. One was a young man, pale,
but with a light of joy in his countenance that re-
placed the bloom of health. He was seated in an
easy chair, and wrapped in a large military cloak.
The other was a woman, young and beautiful, who
sat on a low stool at his feet, with her cheek rest-
ing on his hand. They spoke at intervals in low
caressing tones, and seemed calmly, speechlessly
254 all-saints' eve.
Far around them extended range beyond range
of purple mountains, quiet valleys, and long, dark
masses of foliage tinted with all the hues of autumn
and golden in the sun. No traces of the late storm
were visible, save that here and there a tree lay pros-
trate, and one or two brawling streams that but
yesterday were tiny rivulets, dashed foaming through
Presently the red disc of the sun disappeared
slowly behind the tree-tops; the gathered clouds
faded into grey; the mountain summits grew darker,
and their outline more minutely distinct; a mist
came over the valley; and a star gleamed out above.
The lady wrapped his cloak more closely round
her lover, to protect him from the evening air, and
then resumed her lowly seat. And so they sat, look-
ing at the stars and into one another's eyes, listen-
ing to the distant sheep-bell, or the lowing of the
herds as they were driven home to their stalls.
"Methinks, sweet one," said the gentleman, as
he looked down at the dear head laid against his
hand — "methinks, that in an hour such as this, with
thee beside me, I should love to die!"
But the lady kissed his hand, and then his brow,
and looked at him with eyes that were filled only
with life and love.
That night the Baron de Pradines set off to join
all-saints' eve. 255
The Supper of All-Saints' Eve.
Two months quickly passed away in the Chateau
de Peyrelade, during which the Chevalier de Fontane
had recovered from his accident, and the Countess
from her melancholy. Preparations had been making
for the last three weeks for the celebration of their
marriage. Workmen from Paris had been decorating
the rooms; a dignitary of the church was invited to
perform the ceremony; and all the nobility for miles
around were invited to the fete. Even the Baron
de Pradines, mortally offended as he was by the
whole business, had at last consented to be friends,
and had accepted an invitation to the wedding. In
a word, the contract was to be signed on the even-
ing of All-Saints' Day, and the marriage was to take
place the following morning.
At length All-Saints' Day arrived, a grey, cold,
snowing morning. Autumn is wintry enough, some-
times, in the Haute Auvergne. The earth looks
bare and hard, the chestnut-trees are all stripped of
their thick foliage, and the snow has encroached
half-way down the sides of the mountains. The
raw north-east wind rushes howling through the
passes and along the valley, carrying with it at
sunrise and sunset drifting sleet and fine snow,
256 all-saints' eve.
Soon it will come down thick and fast, and bury
all the bushes in its white mantle. Now the herds-
men's huts are empty, and the cows are transferred
to the warm stabling of the chateau.
Marguerite de Peyrelade, sitting in her salon,
surrounded by a gay and noble company, is ill at
ease, thinking of the dark night, of the falling snow,
of the howling wolves, and of the Chevalier de
Fontane, who has been out since morning and is
momentarily expected at the chateau. He has been
to the notary's in the neighbouring town respecting
the marriage-settlements, and has promised to return
in time for the great supper of All-Saints' Eve.
The Baron de Pradines is also to arrive to-night to
be present at the signing of the contract; and the
young Countess, whose heart is overflowing with
love and charity, is even a little concerned for the
safety of her ungracious brother.
Parisian workmen have effected wondrous changes
in the great dark salon of the Chateau de Peyrelade.
Who would recognize, in the brilliantly lighted re-
ception-room blazing with chandeliers and mirrors,
furnished with exquisite taste, garlanded with ever-
greens, and crowded with all the rank and pride
of Auvergne, the gloomy, cavernous hall with the
rusty armour and ghostly antlers of two months
Uniforms and glittering orders were abundant.
There was the Marquis de Florae, gorgeous with
the ribbon and decoration of St. John of Jerusalem;
the Count de Saint Flour, in his uniform as Colonel
of the St. Flour cavalry; the Commander de Fontane,
all-saints' eve. 257
cousin of the bridegroom, in a rich court dress re-
dolent of Versailles; the Lieutenant of Police; the
Seigneur de Rochevert, who owned the adjoining
estate; several officers, a cabinet minister, some
diplomatic gentlemen, and one or two younger sons
from the colleges and the Polytechnique. The
gentlemen were gathered in little knots, playing at
ombre and piquet: the ladies were assembled round
la belle reine Marguerite.
But the queen of the fete was anxious and ab-
stracted, and her thoughts wandered away to the
Chevalier de Fontane and his lonely journey. The
time-piece in the ante-chamber struck nine. No
one heard it but Marguerite . Neither laughter, nor
music , nor the sound of many voices could drown
that silvery reverberation, however, for her listening
ears. Her impatience became intolerable, for the
Chevalier should have returned full three hours be-
fore. At last she rose and slipped quietly out of
the room, through the ante-chamber, along the cor-
ridor, and so into her little quiet boudoir, far away
from the jarring merriment of her guests. There
she wrapped herself in a great cloak lined with
sables, opened the window, and stepped out on the
It was a gloomy night. The moon shone fit-
fully through masses of black cloud. There was
snow upon the terrace; snow in the garden beneath;
snow in the valley; snow on the distant mountains.
The silence was profound; not a sound was audible
from the noisy salon; not a sound from the distant
forest. All around lay deep shadow and spectral
The Black Forest. 1 7
258 all-Saints' eve,
moonlight; and upon all the scene a stillness as of
death. Suddenly, in the midst of the silence,
Marguerite de Peyrelade heard the sharp, clear
report of a distant musket shot. She listened,
trembling and terrified. It was instantly followed
"Oh, mon Dieu!" murmured the young woman,
leaning for support against the window-frame; "what
Christian hunts at such an hour as this? Heaven
And now another sound almost as deadly — a
prolonged howling of wolves startled in their lair —
came up from the valley. Then the moon be-
came obscured by heavy clouds, and snow began
The Countess re-entered her boudoir, closed
the windows hastily, and was glad once more to
find herself in the noisy salon.
"Our hostess looks very pale," whispered the
Marquis de I-lorac to his partner at ombre. "She
is anxious, I suppose, for the arrival of M. de
"Very likely," said his companion — "I play the
"Is Madame unwell?" asked a young Colonel
of Hussars, going up to her with a profound saluta-
tion. "Madame appears much agitated."
"I have heard something very strange," stam-
mered the Countess, as she sank into a chair: "the
report of a gun!"
all-saints' eve. 259
"Indeed, Madame!" said the Lieutenant of
Police. "That is somewhat strange at this hour of
"And it was followed by — by a second," said
"Stranger still!" muttered the Lieutenant.
"Pooh! nothing but the fall of some fragment
of rock up in the mountains yonder," said the
Commander de Fontane, with a gay laugh. "The
days of banditti are past. Do not be alarmed,
chlre petite cousine; Eugene is safe enough, and
knows how to take care of himself."
"He should have been here some hours ago,
Monsieur," replied the lady.
At this moment the door of the salon was
thrown open, and the Majordomo announced that
supper was served.
"But the two principal guests are not yet here,"
cried the Marquis de Florae. "Monsieur le Chevalier
de Fontane, and Monsieur le Baron de Pradines!"
"Three are wanting, M. le Marquis," said the
Countess, forcing a smile. "Our good Abbe Bernard,
the Cure of St. Saturnin, has not yet arrived; and
how could we take our places at table without his
presence on All-Saints' Eve? We must wait awhile
for the three missing guests. I am surprised at
the absence of M. le Cure, for he has the shortest
road to travel; not more than a quarter of a
"A quarter of a league, did you say?" ex-
260 all-saints' EVE.
claimed the Commander: "is that all? Why, with
a good horse it would not take more than five
minutes to go and return. If you command it,
Madame, I will fly to M. le Cure, and bring him to
your feet dead or alive!"
"Monsieur, I thank you," said the Countess,
smiling; "but here is our worthy Abbe!"
At the same instant the Cure of St. Saturnin
was ushered into the salon. He looked strangely
white and wan; his teeth chattered; his hands were
damp and cold.
"At last, Monsieur le Cur£!" said the Countess,
as she advanced to meet him.
"At last, Monsieur le Cure!" repeated several
"Five minutes later, Monsieur le Cure, and I
protest that Madame's chef de cuisine would have
committed suicide for grief at the ruin of the
ragotits, and you would have had murder on your
conscience!" exclaimed the Commander.
"Murder!" echoed Andre Bernard in a hollow
voice, staring round him upon the company — "who
speaks here of murder 1 ?"
"For shame, Monsieur le Commandeur! you
alarm our good Abbe," said Madame de Peyrelade.
"Come to the fire, Monsieur le Cure; you are trem-
bling from cold."
"The supper is served," said the Majordomo
for the second time, with an appealing look towards
ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 26 I
"Ladies and gentlemen, we will wait no longer
for Monsieur de Fontane or my brother," said the
Countess, rising. "The former will doubtless be
here before supper is over; and the Baron de Pra-
dines is possibly detained at court, and may not
arrive till to-morrow. We will defer supper no
longer. Your arm, Monsieur de Florae."
The supper was laid out in the great hall of
the chateau. Wine and jests went round. Even
the Countess recovered her spirits, and joined in
the gaiety of her guests.
"Remove those two covers," said she. "We
will tell these gentlemen, if they arrive, that they
shall have no supper by way of penance."
"No, no," exclaimed the Commander; "I protest
against the sentence! They will be here soon, and
deserve pity rather than reproof. Who knows 1 ? Per-
haps my cousin and the Baron have agreed to sur-
prise us at the supper-table, and will both be in the
midst of us in a few minutes."
"Both!" ejaculated the priest, casting a terrified
glance at the vacant chairs.
"And why not, Monsieur le Cure? I remember,
when I was some twelve years younger, being in-
vited to sup with a party of friends at ten leagues'
distance. It was a pouring night, but there was a
pretty girl in question, and so I rode through the
rain, and arrived just at the right time, but wet to
the skin. These gentlemen would either of them
undertake a similar expedition, and I will answer for
it they will both be here before supper is over.
262 all-saints' eve.
Come, I bet a hundred crowns! Who will take it?
Will you, Monsieur le Cure?"
"I? Heaven forbid!" cried the priest.
"Well, you will not refuse to drink their
healths?" said the Commander, as he filled the
priest's glass and his own. "The health of Mes-
sieurs le Baron de Pradines and le Chevalier de
"Thanks cousin, for the honour!" cried a voice
from the farther end of the hall. "When I am a
little thawed, I shall be happy to return the compli-
And the Chevalier de Fontane, flushed from rid-
ing, and radiant with happiness, came hastening up
to kiss the hand of his betrothed.
"Mon dieu, Monsieur de Fontane, what has hap-
pened?" cried the lady beside whom he took his
seat; "your neckcloth and ruffles are covered with
"A mere trifle, Madame de Rochevert," laughed
the young officer, holding up his hand, round which
a handkerchief was bound; "a tussle with a wolf,
who would fain have supped off of your humble
servant, instead of suffering him to occupy this chair
by your side — voila tout!"
"How horrible!" exclaimed several ladies.
Madame de Peyrelade turned pale, and murmured
a prayer of thanks to Heaven.
Healths went round again. Everyone drank to
the Chevalier, and congratulated him upon his vie-
all-saints' eve. 263
tory. Then the conversation turned upon the Baron
"It is now too late to hope for his arrival," said
Marguerite. "I trust he has met with no wolves on
"Let us drink to him," said the Commander, "and
perhaps, like my cousin Eugene, he may come upon
us at the very moment. The health of M. le Baron
"The health of M. le Baron de Pradines!" cried
all the voices.
"I denounce M. l'Abbe of high treason," ex-
claimed a lady. "He never opened his lips, and put
down his glass untasted!"
The Cure was dumb with consternation.
"For shame, M. le Cure!" cried the merry-makers.
"We can have no abstinence to-night. Do penance,
and drink the health alone."
"To the health of M. le Baron de Pradines!"
said the priest in a hollow voice, and emptied his
glass at a draught.
"Bravo! bravo, M. le Cure!" cried the gentlemen,
rattling their glasses, by way of applause. "Nothing
like the amende honorable!"
At this moment, a succession of thundering
blows upon the outer gate startled the revellers into
a momentary silence.
"The Baron de Pradines, for a hundred crowns!"
cried the Marquis de Florae.
Andre Bernard turned paler than before.
264 all-saints' eve.
"Who comes 1 ?" asked the Countess. "Go, Pierre,"
she said to a servant behind her chair, "go and see
if it be M. de Pradines."
In a moment the valet returned , pale and
speechless. A confused murmur was heard with-
"Who is there 1 ?" asked the Countess.
"Doubtless," said the Cure, in a hoarse wander-
ing voice, "doubtless it is one of the guests who has
arrived in time for the dessert."
At these words everyone rose from table, struck
by a fatal presentiment.
The door opened, and Pere Jacques appeared,
followed by his two assistants. They carried the
body of a man wrapped in a military cloak. The
Countess recognising the body of her brother, ut-
tered a piercing cry and hid her face in her hands.
Silent and terror-stricken, the company stood look-
ing at each other. The Cure clasped his hands as
if in prayer; the Lieutenant of Police went over and
examined the body.
"This is not the work of a robber," said he,
"for the jewels and purse of the Baron are un-
touched. He has been shot in the temple. Does
any person here present know anything of this
murder 1 ?"
No one spoke.
"Where was the body found?"
"We discovered it near the foot of Mont Cantal,
with M. le Baron's horse standing beside it, M. le
Lieutenant," replied P6re Jacques,
all-saints' eve. 265
"Does any person know of any enemy whom M.
le Baron may have had in this neighbourhood?"
pursued the officer of police.
"Alas, Monsieur," replied the cow-keeper, bluntly,
"the Baron de Pradines had very few friends in
these parts, but no enemy, I think, who would serve
him a turn like this."
"Does any person know if M. le Baron had any
difference or quarrel lately with any person?"
There was a profound silence; but more than
one glance was directed towards the Chevalier de
The Lieutenant of Police repeated the inquiry.
"I — I know of only one person, Monsieur," stam-
mered the bouiillier, "and — and "
He was silent: a stern look from Pere Jacques
arrested the words upon his lips, and he said no
"And that person?"
"Pardon, M. le Lieutenant, but — but I will not
"Answer, I command you," said the officer, "in
the name of the King."
"It is — M. le Chevalier de Fontane!" gasped the
"You hear this, Monsieur," said the Lieutenant.
"What answer do you make? Have you had a
quarrel with the late Baron?"
"I acknowledge — that is — I " faltered the
young man in evident confusion and dismay.
"Enough, Monsieur. Appearances, I regret to
say, are against you. You arrive late; your dress is
266 all-saints' eve.
disordered; your apparel is blood-stained, and your
hand is wounded. I am grieved beyond measure;
but I am compelled to arrest you on the charge of
all-saints' eve. 267
The Lieutenant of Police.
When misfortune falls upon a house in the
midst of feasting and revelry, the guests, of late so
friendly and familiar, shun the presence of their
entertainers as if there were contagion in the very
air. It is as if the plague had broken out within
the walls, and as if the black flag were alone needed
to complete the resemblance.
So it was in the Chateau de Peyrelade after the
arrival of the body of the Baron de Pradines. Some
few of the guests who lived in the immediate neigh-
bourhood, mounted their horses and hastened home
that very night. Others, not caring for the night-
journey through a mountain-country in fast-falling
snow, waited courageously for the dawn. All, how-
ever, rose so early next morning and contrived so
well that, by the time the sun poured his full radi-
ance into the disordered apartments, not a soul re-
mained in the chateau beyond its usual inhabitants.
The kitchens that had been so busy with cooks and
servants, the salon that had been thronged with visi-
tors, the supper-room that had of late been the
scene of festivity and mirth — all were deserted; and
on the supper-table lay the body of the murdered
man, covered with a sheet.
268 all-saints' eve.
We have said that all the guests were gone; but
this was not strictly true, for two remained at the
chateau — the Commandeur de Fontane, cousin to
the prisoner, and the Lieutenant of Police. The
former had stayed to stand by his kinsman; the
latter, in the prosecution of his duties. Determined
to investigate the matter to the utmost, he had al-
ready despatched two of his servants to the town of
St. Flour, to command the instant attendance of a
detachment of gendarmerie. Father Jacques, and
the unfortunate boutillier, who had (through sheer
terror and excitement) betrayed the hostility existing
between the Baron and the Chevalier, were placed
with loaded muskets before the door of the wretched
bridegroom's chamber. The public crier was sent
round the parish of St. Saturnin to proclaim rewards
for information tending to throw light upon the
murder of the high and puissant George, Baron de
Pradines, and, during life, Captain of the Auvergne
In short, Monsieur the Lieutenant of Police was
an active and intelligent officer, and before noon
on the day following the event, had done all that
was in the power of man towards discovering the
particulars of the dreadful deed, and securing the
person of the supposed offender.
Having discharged these duties, the worthy
Lieutenant found himself altogether unemployed.
Nothing more could be done till the arrival of the
gendarmerie from St. Flour; so he resolved to go
into the supper-room and examine the body of the
Baron de Pradines,
all-saints' eve. 269
The Countess de Peyrelade, veiled and in deep
mourning, was kneeling at the foot of the table,
absorbed in prayer. He signified by a gesture that
he had no intention of disturbing her orisons; and
as she once more resumed her attitude of devotion,
he turned down the sheet, and attentively contem-
plated the body. M. le Lieutenant was a man
eminently skilful in his profession, and he was not
ignorant of the importance of slight indications. He
knew how frequently the weightiest discoveries lie
concealed beneath a veil of the commonest circum-
George de Pradines was yet dressed in the clothes
which he had worn at the moment of his fall. His
features, even in death, preserved their habitually
proud and sarcastic expression; nay, it even seemed
as if the haughty lip were curved more mockingly
than ever. The bullet-hole on his temple proved that
he was face to face with the murderer when at-
tacked. This circumstance precluded, at least, all
suspicion of a cowardly ambush. What if he could
be shown to have fallen in a duel!
The Lieutenant of Police took up the musket
lying beside the body. It was loaded. He then ex-
amined the pistols which were in the belt around
the dead man's waist. They were loaded likewise.
Strange! Had he not even defended himself, though
facing his murderer's weapon? And then had not
Madame de Peyrelade, returning to the salon pale
and terrified, told the assembled company in evident
terror that she had distinctly heard two reports of a
gun in the direction of the mountains'?
270 all-saints' eve.
Presently Madame de Peyrelade rose from her
knees, and burst into tears.
"He is not guilty, Monsieur le Lieutenant!" she
cried, sobbing. "Eugene is not guilty! Why have
you accused him of this fearful crime? Why have
you brought this misery upon us? Was it not
enough," she said, pointing to the body, "was it not
enough that my brother should be assassinated, but
that you — the guest under my roof — should seek to
fix the guilt upon my betrothed husband?"
"Madame la Comtesse," replied the Lieutenant,
with severe courtesy, "you forget that I am but ful-
filling my duty to the state. It is not I who act, but
the law in my person. I do not say that Monsieur
de Fontane is guilty. It is for the Judge to decide
that point. Appearances are strongly against him:
public opinion accused him before I did: the
suspicions of your friends and dependents were
directed to him at once. Madame, be just."
Marguerite's gentle heart was touched.
"Monsieur le Lieutenant," she said, "I was in
the wrong. Forgive me."
"Madame," replied the gentleman, kindly, as he
held the door for her to pass, "retire now to your
chamber, and take some rest. I fear that it will be
our painful duty, ere night, to remove the body of
the Baron de Pradines to St. Flour. Should such
commands arrive from the judicial authorities, I re-
gret to say that it will be imperative upon me to
include yourself, some of your people, and the
Chevalier de Fontane among our party. Fear no-
thing, Madame, and hope for the best. Perseve-
all-saints' eve. 2/1
ranee alone can aid us now; and the stricter are our
investigations, the more completely shall we, I hope,
prove the innocence of Monsieur de Fontane."
The lady retired, and the Lieutenant of Police
returned to his contemplation of the corpse.
He was not wrong. Before night a party of sol-
diers arrived, bringing with them a paper of instruc-
tions from the authorities both military and civil.
Before day-break on the following morning the gloomy
procession — including the Countess, two of her wo-
men-servants, the Chevalier de Fontane, Father
Jacques, and his assistants — set off for St. Flour.
The body of the murdered officer, in a plain black
coffin borne upon the shoulders of six gendarmes,
brought up the rear.
From the moment of his arrest the Chevalier
had scarcely spoken, except to utter broken ejacula-
tions of grief and horror. The mountaineers who
guarded the door of his chamber had heard him
restlessly pacing to and fro all that dreadful night.
Food had been twice or thrice brought to him,
but there it still lay untouched, untasted. Being
summoned to the carriage that was to convey him
to St. Flour, he went quite silently and submissively,
between a couple of guards.
In the hall they passed the coffin. For a mo-
ment the young man paused. He turned very pale,
took off his hat, crossed himself devoutly, and
Only once he was seen to give way to emotion.
It was when the Lieutenant of Police stepped into
the carriage and took his seat opposite to him.
2 72 ALL- SAINTS' EVE.
"Monsieur," he exclaimed, passionately, "one
word, for mercy's sake! Does she believe that I am
"Monsieur de Fontane," replied the Lieutenant,
briefly but kindly, "Madame la Comtesse entertains
no doubt of your innocence."
The prisoner's whole countenance brightened.
He bent his head gratefully, and spoke no more
during the rest of the journey.
ALL-SAINTS EVE. 2 J 3
The court-house was crowded in every part.
The judge in gloomy state, the robed lawyers, the
busy avocats, the imperious ushers— all were there.
It was a dark, wintry day. The great chandeliers
were lighted in the hall. The windows were closed;
but a little patch of daylight streamed in at the ceil-
de-boeuf overhead, and made the murky atmosphere
still darker by contrast.
All Madame de Peyrelade's dear friends, who
had fled so precipitately the evening of the murder,
might have been seen in various parts of the court-
house, chattering to each other with the most lively
interest, and now and then affecting a tone of pro-
found compassion for "ce pauvre Baron," or "cette
charmante Madame la Comtesse." They, however,
agreed unanimously in condemning the unfortunate
Chevalier. All had discovered that his countenance
wore a very cruel and sinister expression. One had
never liked him from a boy: another had mistrusted
him from the first: a third said it was rumoured
that he had been much disliked in Prussia, and
even dismissed the service: a fourth would not be
in the least surprised to hear that this assassination
was not the first of which he had been guilty.
The Black Forest. l %
274 all-saints' eve.
The object of these charitable remarks sat, how-
ever, pale and composed, in the space railed off for
the prisoner. Not the soldiers who stood behind his
chair were more completely unmoved. He looked
worn and sorrowful, but neither desponding nor
abashed. He was dressed in a suit of complete mourn-
ing. His lawyer sat at a table near him, with far the
more troubled countenance of the two. In a room
set apart for the witnesses at the farther end of the
Justice Hall might have been observed the three
herdsmen who discovered the body, the Chevalier's
servant, some gendarmes, and several strangers.
Near the bench, on a raised platform, sat a
veiled lady in deep mourning, surrounded by a party
of her friends. This was Madame de Peyrelade.
Near her stood the Commandeur de Fontane, the
Lieutenant of Police, and some other gentlemen of
A dense crowd of townspeople, Auvergne
peasants, and country gentry filled the court-house
to the very passages and ante-rooms.
The proceedings opened with a short address
from the Advocate-General, of which not one syllable
was to be heard above the incessant hum of voices.
Then he sat down, and Pere Jacques was placed in
The noise instantly subsided; the interest of the
assembled multitude was excited; and the business
of the day began in earnest.
The honest cowkeeper gave his testimony in a
straightforward, unhesitating voice. He had been
to high mass at the chapel of St. Saturnin with his
all-saints' eve. 275
two companions — Pierre, the boutillier, and Henri,
the herdsman. They were returning from thence
to the Chateau de Peyrelade, where Madame had
invited all her dependents to supper in the servant's
hall, while she gave a grand entertainment in the
state-rooms to all the gentry of the province. He
(Jacques) and his friends were walking leisurely
along, laughing and talking, and thinking of nothing
but the wedding which was to take place on the
morrow. When they had turned the foot of the
Rocher Rouge, which lies between the chapel and
the Chateau, and were coming down into the valley,
Henri, who was a little in advance, gave a great
cry, and shouted "Murder!" And sure enough,
when he (Jacques) came up, there was a man lying
upon his face under a tree, with his horse standing
beside him, trembling all over and covered with
foam. They lifted the body, and found that it was
the Baron de Pradines. Then they wrapped it in
his cloak, and picked up the musket, which had
fallen beside him on the grass. There was no one
in sight, and there were no signs of any struggle.
He (Jacques) felt the body: the Baron was quite
dead, but not yet cold. He had no more to say.
M. le Lieutenant de Police. "At what hour of
the evening did this occur?"
Jacques. "As near as I can guess, M. le Lieu-
tenant, about nine, or a quarter past."
Lieut. "Was it dark at the time 1 ?"
Jacques. "It was neither dark nor light, Mon-
sieur. The moon kept going in and out, and the
276 all-saints' eve.
snow began to come down just after we had found
Lieut. "Did you hear any shots fired 1 ?"
Jacques. "No, M. le Lieutenant."
Lieut. "But if the body was not cold, the shots
could not have been fired very long before you dis-
covered it 1 ?"
Jacques. "That might be, too, M. le Lieute-
nant; for the wind set the other way, towards the
Chateau, and would have carried the noise away
Lieut. "At what time did the mass begin?"
Jacques. "At seven o'clock, Monsieur le Lieute-
Pierre and Henri were next examined.
These witnesses corroborated the testimony of
Father Jacques. The first in a nervous and con-
fused manner, the second in a bold and steady
voice. Pierre looked several times in a contrite
and supplicating manner towards the Chevalier de
Fontane and Madame de Peyrelade; but neither
He was very penitent and unhappy. He felt
that it was through his indiscretion that the be-
trothed lover of his mistress was placed in this posi-
tion of peril; and he would have given the world
to be far enough away in the desolate Buron.
Henri stated that, after finding the body, he
climbed the high tree beneath which it lay, for the
purpose of reconnoitring; but no person was in
all-saints' eve. 277
The Lieutenant of Police next examined the
Lieut. "Repeat what you said of the quarrel
between Monsieur le Chevalier and the Baron de
Pierre, [in great confusion]: "I know nothing,
Monsieur, beyond what the poor people say about
Lieut. "Well, and what do the poor people say
about the village ?"
Pierre. "Indeed, Monsieur, I know nothing."
Lieut. "You must speak. You must not trifle
with the law."
Pierre. u Mon Dieu! they only said that Mon-
sieur le Baron wanted Madame's money and estates
himself, and that he hated Monsieur le Chevalier,
because Monsieur le Chevalier loved Madame and
Madame loved him."
Lieut. "And from whom did you hear these
Pierre. "From Pere Jacques, Monsieur le Lieute-
Lieut, [cross-examining Jacques the cow-keeper]
"What did you know, witness, of the difference
between these gentlemen?"
Jacques. "Nothing, M. le Lieutenant."
Lieut. "Did you ever hear of any such quarrel?"
Jacques. "I don't deny to have heard it talked
Lieut. "Whom did you hear talk about it?"
Jacques. "I have heard Gustave, Monsieur le
Chevalier's valet, say so many times."
278 all-saints' eve.
Lieut, [examining Gustave] "Relate all you know
or have heard respecting the differences that are
said to have arisen between your master and the
late Baron de Pradines."
Gustave. "I came with my master, the Chevalier
de Fontane, from Prussia, about ten weeks ago. As
soon as we got near the Chateau de Peyrelade, my
master met with an accident. We got him into the
house, where he stayed some weeks, till he had
quite recovered. The Countess and my master
were old lovers, and very glad to meet each other
again. They made up the match between them-
selves the very next day, and Madame sent for a
priest, who absolved her of a vow that she had
made, never to marry again. After the priest was
gone, M. le Baron, who had been out since the
morning, came home, and Madame informed him
that she was betrothed to the Chevalier, and that
the marriage would take place in a few weeks. M.
le Baron was furious. He swore at Madame, and
at M. de Fontane, and even at the priest. He asked
Madame if she had no respect for her vow or her
soul, and he called M. le Chevalier a villain and a
coward to his face. M. le Chevalier was too ill and
weak to pay any attention to him; but Madame was
very indignant, and told her brother that it was
himself who was the coward, so to insult a woman
and a sick man. In a word, Madame said that, if
he could not conduct himself more like a gentleman,
he had better leave the house. And so M. le Baron
did leave the house that very night, and set off for
his regiment. But it did not end here. M. le Baron
all-saints' eve. 279
had been gone only a very few days when he sent
abusive and violent letters to Madame, and to Mon-
sieur le Chevalier; and I heard that he had also the
audacity to send one to the holy priest; but this I
cannot be sure of. Madame had no sooner read
hers than she burnt it; but Monsieur le Chevalier
only laughed, and threw his into his writing-case.
He said that the writer deserved a good thrashing,
but did not seem at all angry. In a few days there
came another letter to M. le Chevalier, and this
time the Baron threatened to bring the matter be-
fore Holy Church on account of Madame's broken
vow, as he called it; for he would not hear of the
absolution granted by M. le Cure. This letter vexed
M. le Chevalier a good deal, for he could not bear
the idea of Madame's name being brought into a
court of ecclesiastical law; and so he wrote back a
very sharp answer to M. le Baron, representing the
odium which it would bring both upon himself
and the family, and telling him how perfectly use-
less such a step would be, since Madame was alto-
gether absolved from her rash engagement. Well,
the Baron never wrote any reply to this letter; but
about a week before All Saints' Day, Madame sent
a very kind and loving letter to her brother (at least
so I overheard her telling Monsieur le Chevalier),
and invited him to the wedding. Whether it was
that M. le Baron thought it would be no use hold-
ing out; or whether he really was sorry for having
been so unkind; or whether he only intended to
spoil the festivities by being disagreeable to every-
body, I cannot tell; but at all events he wrote back,
280 all-saints' eve.
accepting Madame's invitation, and saying he hoped
she would be happy, and that she and Monsieur
would forget the past, and receive him as a brother.
You may be sure that Madame was delighted; and
Monsieur le Chevalier declared that for his part he
was quite ready to shake hands with him. No more
letters passed, and I never saw M. de Pradines again
till he was brought in dead on the evening of All
Here the judge desired that the writing-case of
M. de Fontane should be brought into court; and
a small black folio was accordingly laid upon the
table by one of the attendants. It was found to
contain, among various unimportant papers, two
letters from the deceased addressed to M. le Che-
valier. Both were corroborative of the depositions
of the last witness, and were couched in violent and
The Lieutenant of Police, cross-examining the
servant of M. de Fontane, then continued: —
"Where was M. de Fontane on All-Saints'
Gustave. "My master left the Chateau early in
the morning for Murat, where the notary resided to
whom he had confided the drawing up of the con-
tract and settlements. Monsieur was to have re-
turned by six o'clock, bringing the papers with him;
but he did not arrive till between nine and ten
Lieut. "Let the notary be called."
M. Francois, notary and avocat of Murat, was
then called to the witness-box.
all-saints' eve. 281
Lieut. "At what hour did the Chevalier de
Fontane leave your offices at Murat?"
M. Francois. "At about six o'clock: the papers
were not ready, and he waited for them."
Lieut. "How long would it take a man to ride
from Murat to the Chateau?"
M. Francois. "About two hours."
Lieut. "He should then have reached Peyrelade
M. Francois. "I suppose so, Monsieur."
Lieut. "Did the Chevalier appear at all excited
or out of humour?"
M. Francois. "He appeared excited, and in
the highest spirits; but not in the least out of hu-
Marguerite de Peyrelade, nee Pradines, was then
summoned by the crier. She rose from her chair
with difficulty, leaning on the arm of the Comman-
deur, and was about to proceed to the witness-box,
but the judge begged her to remain seated.
A sympathetic murmur ran through the court.
She raised her veil and looked steadily at the
Lieutenant, never once glancing towards the prisoner,
who, pale and trembling, was observing her every
"Madame de Peyrelade," said the Lieutenant,
"do you remember to have heard M. de Fontane
utter any hostile expressions on receipt of either of
the letters lately examined?"
Madame had nothing to say beyond what had
been stated by Gustave, Monsieur de Fontane's
282 all-saints' eve.
"Did Madame think that Monsieur de Fontane
thoroughly pardoned the imprudent language of M.
The lady said that she believed it from her
"Did not Madame, on the night of her fete,
leave the salon and go out a little after nine o'clock
on the terrace at the west side of the Chateau?"
She answered in the affirmative.
"Did not Madame aver that she then heard two
shots fired, at a considerable distance from the
She did, and was greatly terrified.
"Could Madame have been mistaken as to the
second report? Is Madame certain that she dis-
tinguished more than one?"
The Countess said that she undoubtedly heard
"Still, might not Madame have been deceived —
by an echo, for instance?"
The lady was convinced of the accuracy of her
Here there was a pause of some minutes, during
which the lawyers whispered together, and the
Lieutenant of Police conferred with the Judge.
He then went on with the examination.
"How long an interval elapsed, Madame, be-
tween the two reports?"
"Scarcely a minute, I should think," replied the
There was another pause. Then the Lieutenant
of Police thanked her for her information, and in-
all-saints' eve. 283
timated that, for the present, she would not be
Some gendarmes were then summoned, and gave
their evidence as follows: —
Paul Dubourg, gendarme in the Baillage of St.
Flour. "I have examined the body and fire-arms
of the late Baron, in the presence of M. le Lieute-
nant of Police. A musket was found lying beside
the body, and a brace of pistols were in his riding-
belt. None of these had been discharged. All the
pieces were loaded."
Lieut. "Should you suppose that the Baron had
made any defence?"
P. Dubourg. "Evidently none, Monsieur."
Michel Perrin, gendarme in the Baillage of St.
Flour, corroborated the testimony of Paul Du-
Monsieur Berthet, Surgeon, was then called for.
He testified that the Baron de Pradines had died of
a fracture of the skull caused by a wound in the
temple. The wound was given by a musket-ball,
which had struck him three-quarters of an inch
above the eyebrow, and entered the brain. He (M.
Berthet) had extracted the ball, which he now laid
before the Court. From the wound being inflicted
in the front of the head, witness concluded that he
must have been face to face with the assassin. At
the same time, the fact of none of his own weapons
being used countenanced the probability of a sur-
prise. Could not conceive how it was possible that
two shots should have been fired without the Baron's
offering any resistance. Had the first taken effect,
284 all-saints' eve.
there was then no need of a second: whereas, if the
first failed, the Baron would surely have defended
himself against a second. Had no more to say, and
left the witness-box.
Louis Masson, groom to Madame de Peyrelade,
was next examined.
Lieut, of Police. "You were in the stables when
Monsieur de Fontane returned on the evening of
All Saints' Day?"
L. Masson. "I was, Monsieur le Lieutenant."
Lieut. "In what condition was his horse when
he arrived 1 ?"
L. Masson. "The horse was covered with sweat,
and appeared to have been ridden fast. It trembled
a good deal likewise, as if it had been frightened,
and there were some spots of blood on the chest
and knees. The saddle was also spotted with
Lieut. "How did M. de Fontane seem when he
L. Masson. "He seemed very much excited,
M. le Lieutenant. His neckcloth and waistcoat
were stained with blood, and his hand was tied in
Lieut. "Did he make any remarks to you about
L. Masson. "Yes, Monsieur, he laughed a good
deal, in a wild sort of way, and said he had been
settling a wolf among the mountains."
There was a movement of horror throughout the
Lieut. "A wolf? Did you believe him?"
all-saints' eve. 285
L. Masson. "Why, yes, Monsieur; none of us
doubted him, for he's a brave young gentleman,
and has killed many a noted wolf in the woods
about Pradines, in the old Baron's time. To be
sure, when M. le Baron was brought in, soon after,
we could not help recollecting the disagreement
which they had lately had, and we did think that
M. le Chevalier had indeed settled a wolf; but one
of another sort. However, I said nothing till Pierre
the boutillier spoke out to your worship in the
Lieut. "Bring into court the clothes worn by
the Chevalier de Fontane and the firearms that he
carried about his person on the evening in question."
A servant here laid some clothes, a musket, and
a pair of holsters on the table. The clothes were
then carefully examined. The waistcoat, cravat,
and shirt-front were spotted in several places with
blood. The lawyers shook their heads, and the
prisoner's advocate, who had not yet spoken, looked
grave and uneasy.
The Lieutenant took up the musket.
"This weapon has been discharged," he said, as
he passed it to the Judge for inspection.
He then drew the pistols from the holsters, and
examined the priming of both.
"Neither of these pistols has been used," he
said, as he passed them on. "Both are loaded."
No second shot, therefore, had been fired.
The Countess clasped her hands, and uttered
an exclamation of thankfulness.
"Nay, Madame," whispered the Lieutenant
286 all-saints' eve.
kindly, "we must not begin to hope too soon. This
one ambiguous circumstance will not alone be suffi-
cient to clear our friend. We must have patience
The Prosecutor for the Crown then rose, and
summed up the evidence. The substance of his
speech was this: — "That the body of George,
Baron de Pradines, had been discovered by three
servants of the Countess de Peyrelade, lying dead
in the valley known as the Val du Rocher Rouge,
on the evening of All Saints' Day. It was known
that M. de Fontane had had some misunderstanding
with the deceased, and had received from him letters
of a threatening nature. M. de Fontane had been
out all day at Murat, and in returning thence must
pass through that valley. Monsieur de Fontane
left Murat at six o'clock, and did not reach the
Chateau de Peyrelade till between nine and ten.
The journey need not occupy longer than two hours.
What had the Chevalier done with the surplus time?
He arrives at the Chateau in an excited state, with
his clothes blood-stained, and his horse trembling
as if from terror and hard riding. His voice is
wild, and he says he has killed 'a wolf.' When the
body is brought to the Chateau and he is interrogated
by M. le Lieutenant, he betrays manifest confusion
and alarm. Even the grooms and herdsmen attach
suspicion to him; and, as if to cherish the lingering
rancour which he entertained against M. de Pradines,
both the letters sent to him by that gentleman are
found preserved in his writing-case. Madame la
Comtesse affirms that she heard two shots fired on
all-saints' eve. 287
the night of the murder, and only one of M. de
Fontane's weapons has been discharged. He felt
bound to say that this circumstance tended to the
advantage of the prisoner; but, at the same time,
everyone knew that, to a lady in the naturally
anxious state of mind of Madame de Peyrelade,
every sight and sound becomes magnified. What
more likely than that the second shot should be a
mere trick of the distempered imagination? The
examination of the weapons proved that one shot
only could have been fired. Out of four pistols
and two muskets — six firearms in all — one only had
been discharged; and that was the musket of M.
de Fontane. He believed that nothing farther
could be said on the subject."
The Judge then asked the prisoner if he had
anything to reply.
M. de Fontane rose, pale and self-possessed.
He bowed to the Judge, to the Procureur du Roi,
and to the Lieutenant of Police.
"My Lord," he said calmly, "I have little to
urge in my defence, except to assever my innocence.
I left Murat at six, and set off briskly for the
Chateau de Peyrelade. Before half-an-hour had
elapsed, the evening became quite dark. Much
snow had already fallen, and by the time I entered
upon the road across the mountains, the way was
not only dark, but slippery for my horse. I dis-
mounted, and led him up the first steep ascent.
I thus lost considerable time. When I came down
at the opposite side and arrived at the open space
whence five different ways branch off in five different
288 all-saints' eve.
directions, I found myself altogether at fault. I had
not travelled this country for many years — the snow-
had changed the general features of the place, and
it was just then quite dark. I thought it best to
leave all to the sagacity of the horse, and, re-mount-
ing, dropped the reins upon his neck, and let him
choose his way. He was as much perplexed as
myself. Twice he turned towards the road on our
left; then, after a momentary pause, chose a road
straight before us. So we went on. The farther
we went, however, the more I became convinced
that the horse had taken a wrong direction. At
last I found that we were entering a thick wood,
and as I knew there should be nothing of the kind
on the way to the Chateau, I turned the horse's head,
and began to retrace our steps. Scarcely had I
proceeded a dozen yards on the way back, when I
heard a distant howl. The horse stopped instinc-
tively, and we both listened. Again that sound, and
nearer! I needed no spur to urge my steed on his
flight — that ominous cry was enough. Away he
started with me, as if we had not gone a mile that
day! It was of little use; for the wolf gained on us,
and at last I descried him about a quarter of a
mile behind, coming with savage speed along the
snow. I now saw that there was nothing for it but
a mortal combat with the brute. So I alighted
quietly, and waited for him, a clasp-knife open and
ready in my belt, and my gun on the cock. I did
not tie the horse to a tree, for I thought if the wolf
conquered, the poor animal might at least have the
chance of escape. The beast was up in less time
ALL- SAINTS' EVE. 289
too than I take to tell it. When within a couple
of yards, he stopped, seeing me prepared to receive
him. His eyes were red and bright as coals — his
sides gaunt — his tongue lolling from his mouth.
His hot breath smoked in the frosty air. So we
stood for a second or two, face to face — the wolf
and I. Then he gave a low howl, and as he sprang
towards me, I fired! I hit him — lamed one of his
fore-legs; but that only made him more furious, for
he was on me again directly, like a tiger! I tried in
vain to beat him off with my gun, but he was too
strong for me; so I threw it down, got my knife
from my belt, and held it between my teeth. As I
did so, he snapped at my hand and nearly tore my
fingers off. Then I threw my arms round the brute,
and fell upon him. It was my last resource — he
was under, and if I could only keep him there, and
strangle him, or cut his throat, I was safe. It was
a frightful moment. My head swam — my breath
failed — then I gathered up all my remaining strength,
and plunged the knife in his throat! He moaned,
his head fell back — the struggle was over — he was
dead! I then mounted my horse, who had never
once offered to leave me, though he stood trembling
all over with terror. I cheered him on — I shouted
— I laughed — I sang! I rode like a madman at full
speed, and when I reached the Chateau I had not
yet recovered from the excitement of the contest.
I came out of a death-fight to a brilliant company
— from a wolf to a bride; and I was just about to
relate my adventure — when — when, my Lord, the
corpse of the Baron de Pradines was brought into
The Black Forest. 19
290 all-saints' eve.
the room, and I heard myself accused of being his
murderer! I have no more to say. I have stated
the whole truth. I lost my way, and almost my
life. I am innocent, and God will judge me rightly,
however my fellow-men may decide against me."
The young man sat down, flushed with the
relation of his c®mbat, and confident in the justice
of his cause.
A loud murmur of sympathy and satisfaction
ran through the Court, and the prisoner was re-
warded for all his sufferings by one glad and loving
glance from Marguerite de Peyrelade. Her mind
was now relieved of every doubt; and, indeed,
with the exception of the lawyers, there was not a
soul in the hall who doubted his innocence.
When the murmur had subsided, more witnesses
Antoine Guinot and Elie Blainval, two gendarmes,
next gave evidence.
Lieut, of Police. "Antoine Guinot — you went
by my orders to inspect the roads among the
A. Guinot. "Yes, M. le Lieutenant."
Lieut. "Did you there discover the body of a
dead wolf, or any signs of blood on the snow?"
A. Guinot. "No, M. le Lieutenant."
Lieut. "Did you thoroughly search the Val du
A. Guinot. "Yes, Monsieur. There was no dead
wolf to be seen in any part. Snow had been falling
for two days and nights before we got there, so
there would have been nothing but the carcase of
all-saints' eve. 291
the beast to guide us; but there was no such car-
case anywhere about."
Elie Blainval was next examined. Went with
the last witness. Saw no carcase. Snow was deep
on the ground, and of course no stains or other
marks could be distinguished. Would swear there
was no dead wolf anywhere on the mountain roads.
Corroborated the statement of his companion in
On this the Prosecutor for the Crown again ad-
dressed the Court, but very briefly. The jury, he
said, had heard the statements of the last witnesses.
M. the Lieutenant of Police had despatched them
on the day following the murder, as soon as they
arrived from St. Flour, in order that the prisoner's
statement might be thoroughly investigated. No
carcase of any description had been found. It was
not his (the Prosecutor's) desire to prejudice his
hearers against the prisoner; but he felt it his duty
to remind them that his defence was unsupported
by any kind of proof. They had before them a
strong case of circumstantial evidence on the one
side, and on the other the bare assertion of a man
whose only chance for life depended on the plau-
sibility of his defence and the credulity of his
auditors. He begged now to leave the matter in
the hands of the Jury.
After an address from the judge, in which he
summed up the evidence in a very similar manner
to the Prosecutor for the Crown, and in which he
exhorted them to lay any doubts which they might
entertain to the side of mercy, the jury retired.
292 all-saints' eve.
Then the chorus of laughter and loud talking,
so long hushed, broke forth again. By this time
night had come on, and the patch of daylight seen
through the ceil-de-bocuf had long since disappeared.
The young men made bets with each other on the
verdict. All the ladies took the part of the prisoner;
and, to do them justice, most of the gentlemen like-
wise. The peasants pulled out lumps of brown
bread and country cheese, and began to eat.
Time went on. Two hours passed away without
the return of the jury. Then another hour. Ten
o'clock struck by the great clock over the entrance,
and the audience grew silent and weary. Still the
twelve came not. The judge nodded on the bench.
Madame de Peyrelade sat, statue-like, in the same
spot. The Chevalier de Fontane paced the dock
in an agony of suspense.
Then eleven struck; and ere the last stroke had
died away, the jury returned and took their places.
"Gentlemen of the jury," said his lordship, wak-
ing up, "are you all agreed?"
"Yes, my Lord," said the foreman slowly and
The silence was intense throughout the court.
Every breath was held; every eye turned towards
"Do you find the prisoner guilty, or not guilty?"
A loud murmur broke from all parts of the hall.
The prisoner — a shade paler than before — folded
his arms across his breast, and looked calmly round
all-saints' eve. 293
him. The Countess de Peyrelade was carried faint-
ing from the court.
The judge then pronounced sentence of death.
Not a word was audible; but his lips were seen to
move, and he shed tears.
The Chevalier was then conducted from the
dock; the judge and jury retired; and the great
mass of spectators, undulating and noisy, gradually
dispersed; thankful to exchange the thick, steaming
atmosphere of the densely-crowded Justice Hall,
for the cold night-air, with the keen stars over-
The trial had lasted fourteen hours. They had
begun at nine a.m., and it now wanted less than an
hour to midnight. All was over — the hope, the
fear, the suspense. The Chevalier de Fontane was
condemned to die within twenty-four hours.
294 all-saints' eve.
The Scaffold and the Confession.
It is night. The air is cold and biting; the
stars are bright in the clear sky; and the moon is
slowly sinking behind the Cathedral of St. Flour.
Snow lies on the ground and on the house-tops,
and everything looks pale in the blue moonlight.
A gloomy platform hung with black cloth and sur-
rounded by horse-soldiers, each with a torch in his
left hand and a drawn sword in his right, stands in
the midst of the public square. A vast multitude
is assembled outside the barriers that surround the
scaffold. The houses blaze with lights, and all the
windows are crowded with curious spectators. Huge
and sombre, the prison rises on one side of the
square, and the church upon the other. A low
unquiet sound comes from the indistinct mass all
around, as it heaves and sways from side to side
in ever-restless undulation.
Now the great Cathedral clock strikes the first
stroke of ten. Scarcely has it begun when the iron
tongues of all the churches in the town reply. They
clash — they mingle — they are still. Then the gates
of the gaol swing apart, and a procession comes
slowly forth. First, soldiers; then the sheriff and
the governor of the gaol; then more soldiers; then
all-saints' eve. 295
the bishop of the diocese; then the prisoner; then
more soldiers to bring up the rear.
They pass slowly through a double file of horse-
soldiery till they reach the scaffold. They ascend;
and the sheriff, with his black wand in one hand,
advances with a parchment roll in the other, and
reads aloud the dreadful formula: —
"He whom we have brought hither is Eugene
Fontane, formerly called Chevalier de Fontane, and
ex-Captain of Hussars in the military service of His
Majesty the King of Prussia. The said Eugene
de Fontane is brought hither to suffer death, being
condemned thereto by the criminal court of this
town. He will now be broken on the wheel, being
charged and convicted of the crime of homicide on
the person of the very noble, puissant, and excellent
Seigneur George, Baron de Pradines, and, during
life, Captain of the Auvergne Light Dragoons. Pray
to God for the repose of their souls!"
Eugene is pale, but resigned. He has not long
since taken leave of Marguerite, and, despite the
agony of that parting, he is comforted, for she be-
lieves him innocent. His step is firm, his head
erect, his eye bright and fearless. His right hand
is hidden in the breast of his coat, closely pressed
against his heart. It holds a lock of her hair.
Now the bishop addresses to him the last words
which a prisoner hears on earth.
"Eugene de Fontane," he says, solemnly, "if
you will speak the truth and declare yourself guilty
296 all-saints' eve.
of the crime for which you are condemned, I am
here, in the name of God, to give you absolution;
and when you are stretched upon the wheel the
executioner will give you the coup de grace, in order
to spare you the sufferings which you would other-
wise endure. Reflect, for the sake of both body
and soul. Do you yet persist in saying that you
The young man cast a glance of horror at the
hideous apparatus. His lip quivered, and for a
moment his resolution seemed to fail. Then he
fell upon his knees and prayed silently.
When he rose, he was calm and stedfast as be-
"Let the executioner do his office," he said,
firmly. "I will not die with a lie upon my tongue.
I am innocent, and Heaven knows it."
The Chevalier then draws a ring from his finger
and gives it to the executioner, in token of pardon.
And now he takes off his coat and waistcoat and
holds out his arms to be bound; and now, suddenly,
a cry is heard on the outskirts of the crowd — a
shrill, piercing, despairing cry.
"Stop! stop! let me pass! I am the murderer! —
he is innocent! I am the murderer of the Baron de
And a mounted man, pale, breathless, disordered,
is seen pressing wildly through the crowd. He gains
the foot of the scaffold — he rushes eagerly up the
steps — falls fainting at the feet of the condemned!
It is the priest — it is Andre Bernard.
# * # #
ALL- SAINTS' EVE. 297
Once again the Justice Hall is thronged. Once
again we see the former crowd; the same faces; the
same peasants; the same lawyers; the same mass of
spectators, noble and plebeian; the same judge; the
Yet there is one great and material difference;
there is not the same prisoner. Andre Bernard is
in the dock, and the Chevalier de Fontane is no-
Madame de Peyrelade and servants are also
absent. Otherwise the Court House looks as it did
a week since, when an innocent man was there con-
demned to die.
"Prisoner," says the Judge, "the Court is pre-
pared to listen to your confession."
The Abbe rose. A profound silence reigned
throughout the hall. In a voice broken with emo-
tion, he began as follows: —
"About three months since, I was visited by the
Baron de Pradines in my parsonage at St. Saturnin.
He had not been on good terms with his sister,
Madame de Peyrelade, for some years, and he now
desired a reconciliation. He was a man of violent
temper and dissolute habits; but he professed re-
pentance for his former courses, and ardently en-
treated my intercession with Madame. I believed
him, and became the bearer of his penitent messages.
Owing to my representations, the lady believed him
also, and he was received into the Chateau. A
fortnight had scarcely elapsed, when M. de Fontane
arrived at the Chateau; and on a due consideration
of — of all the previous events" (here the prisoner's
298 all-saints' eve.
voice faltered), "I absolved Madame from a rash
vow which she had too hastily contracted. Now M.
de Pradines had hoped to inherit the estates and
fortune of his sister; he was therefore much enraged
on finding that the said vow was made null and
void. He departed at once to join his regiment,
and in the course of a few days I received from him
an abusive letter. Of this I took no notice, and I
may say that it caused me no anger. I destroyed
and forgot it. In about two months' time from the
date of his departure, the marriage of his sister with
M. de Fontane was appointed to take place. The
Baron, seeing the uselessness of further hostilities,
then yielded to the entreaties of Madame and ac-
cepted her invitation, appointing the Fete of All-
Saints as the day of his arrival, that he might be
present at the ceremony of betrothal. On that day
I said mass in the morning at my chapel, and high
mass at seven o'clock in the afternoon. I was in-
vited to the Chateau that evening, and nine was
the hour appointed. Mass would not be over till
half-past eight — I had therefore half an hour only to
reach the Chateau; and, as soon as I had pro-
nounced the benediction, I hastened from the chapel
by the side-door, and was some distance on the
road before my congregation dispersed. The moon
shone out at times, and at times was overcast. I
had my gun with me; for after night-fall at this
season, the wolves are savage, and often come down
from the heights. I had not gone far when I heard
a horse coming along at full speed behind me. I
drew on one side to let the rider pass. The moon
all-saints' eve. 299
just then shone out, and I recognised the Baron de
Pradines. He knew me also; and though he had
been galloping before, he now reigned up his horse
and stood quite still.
"'Good evening, most reverend Abbe,' said he
in a mocking voice. 'Will you favour me with a
piece of godly information; for I am but a poor
sinner, and need enlightening. Pray how much
have you been paid by M. le Chevalier for patching
up this marriage 1 ?'
"I felt my blood boil and my cheeks burn at
this insult, but I affected to treat it as a jest.
"'You are facetious, Monsieur le Baron,' I re-
"'Not at all,' he said, with a bitter laugh. 'Gen-
tlemen in your profession, M. le Cure, have their
prices for everything; from the absolution for a vow
to the absolution for a murder.'
"'Monsieur,' I replied, 'your expressions exceed
the limits of pleasantry.'
'"Not at all, Monsieur le Cure,' he repeated
again, ' not at all. And, withal, you are a very noble,
and meek, and self-sacrificing gentleman, M. le Cure.
You love my sister, most holy sir; and yet you sell
the absolution which enables her to marry another.
It is really difficult to tell, M. le Cure, which of your
admirable qualities predominates — your Avarice, or
your Love. Both, at least, are equally respectable
in a priest who is vowed to poverty and celibacy.'
"'And peace, M. le Baron,' I added. 'You are
aware, Monsieur, that my profession forbids me to
chastise you as you deserve, and therefore you
300 all-saints' eve.
insult me. Pass on, and interfere with me no
"'Indeed I shall not pass on, M. le Cure,' he
continued, 'I must stay and compliment you as you
deserve. It is a pity, is it not, M. le Cure, that
your vows prevent you from marrying my sister
"'If you will not pass me, M. le Baron,' I said,
for I was trembling with suppressed rage , 'I must
pass you, for I will bear this no longer.'
"The passage was narrow, and he intentionally
barred the way. I seized his horse's reins and turned
his head, when — my lord — the Baron raised his
whip and struck me on the face! My fowling-piece
was in my hand — I was mad — I was furious. I
know not to this moment how it was done, but I
fired — fired both barrels of my gun, and the next
moment — Oh, vion Dieu! — he was lying at my feet
dead and bleeding — I was a murderer!"
The priest paused in his narrative, and hid his
face in his hands. A murmur ran through the court.
After a few moments, however, he raised his head,
and continued: —
"I saw him but for an instant, and then turned
and fled. I cannot remember where I went, or what
I did in that terrible interval; but at last I found
myself before the gates of the Chateau de Peyrelade.
A dreadful terror possessed me — I feared the night,
and the woods, and the mountains, and the pale
moonlight. I thought to find refuge in the crowd
of human beings — refuge from that terrible thought
—refuge from that hideous sight. But it pursued
all-saints' eve. 301
me! They brought him in, ghastly and blood-stained,
wrapt in the cloak in which he lay upon the grass;
and on his pale forehead was the mark of my — of
my .... That night I was mad. I remember no-
thing — neither how I got home — nor how I left the
Chateau — nor when I entered my own door. For
days I walked and lived in a dream of horror. Then
I heard of the trial and condemnation of an inno-
cent man. I mounted my 'horse — I flew — I feared
that I should be too late; but I had resolved to kill
myself on the scaffold if he was already dead! I
was in time, thank God! and now I am ready to
take his place. This is my confession, and, before
Heaven, I declare it full and true. I entreat all
here present to pray for me."
When the agitation that followed this confession
had somewhat subsided, and the jury had conferred
for a moment in their places, the foreman pro-
nounced the prisoner guilty, but recommended him
to mercy. Then the judge, in a speech interrupted
more than once by emotion, passed sentence of
death; but concluded by an intimation that the case
should be reported to the King as one deserving his
The Royal Pardon, thus solicited, followed as a
matter of course, and in less than a week Andre
Bernard was free. The Chevalier de Fontane him-
self brought the precious parchment from Versailles,
and fetched a carriage to convey the priest from
"Come back to us, dear friend," he said. "Come
back to your chapel and your flock. Forget the
302 all-saints' eve.
past, and resume the useful life in which you used
to find your greatest happiness."
But the priest shook his head.
"I cannot," he said. "The King has pardoned
me, but I have yet to earn the pardon of Heaven.
I go hence to la Trappe, there to pass the remainder
of my days in prayer and penance. Hush! — to
remonstrate is useless. I deserve a far heavier
punishment. I have more sins than one upon my
soul. God sees my heart, and He knows all my
guilt. I must go — far, far away. I shall pray for
your happiness — and hers. Heaven bless you, and
have mercy on me! Farewell."
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