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Full text of "A night on the borders of the Black Forest"

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NIGHT ON THE BORDERS 



OF THE 



BLACK FOREST 



BY 



AMELIA B. EDWARDS 

author of "Barbara's history," "debenham's vow,'' etc. 






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NEW YORK 




FREDERICK A. 


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CONTENTS. 



Page 

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 



302746 



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 
purple hills. 

Place — a certain dull, unfrequented district in 
the little kingdom of Wurtemberg, about twelve 
miles north of Heilbronn, and six south-east of the 
Neckar. 

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 
coffee-cup. 

"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- 
tively. 

"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 me." 

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. 

I nodded. 

"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- 
liament?" 

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 
country." 

"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- 
teresting." 

"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 
pretty. 

"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 
his own. 

"Well?" he said anxiously. "What do you say?" 

"I say that she has a charming expression," I 
replied. 



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- 
proached. 

To which Bergheim laughingly replied by ask- 
ing if the bucket was a love-token from his sweet- 
heart. 

"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 
whistle. 

"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." 

"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 
way?" 

"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 
journey. 

He shook his head, smiling. 

"Nay," he replied, "my route leads me by Buchen 
and Darmstadt. I have no business to go round by 
Heidelberg." 

"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." 

He hesitated. 

"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, 
and farmers. 

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 
Rotheskirche-on-the-Neckar. 

"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 
asleep. 

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 
roads meet. 

"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 
driving. 

"And how far shall we have to walk?" 

"To Rotheskirche?" 

"Yes — to Rotheskirche." 

He grunted doubtfully. "Ugh!" he said, "I 
can't be certain to a mile or so. It may be twelve 
or fourteen." 

"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 
May morning. 

"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, 
either." 

"How do you know that 1 ?" I asked. 

"Because I saw a light." 

"But suppose they do not wish to take us in?" 
I suggested. 



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 
age. 

"Who goes there 1 ?" he said, holding the lanthorn 
high above his head, and shading his eyes with his 
hand. 

"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 
way." 

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 
followed. 

"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 
savagely. 

"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- 
hind us. 

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?" 

"Both." 

"What have you in the house?" 

" Ham — eggs — voorst — cheese — wine — beer — 
coffee." 

"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 
to finish." 

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 
players. 

"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 
door. 



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 
fro overhead. 

"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 
brother. 

But she only looked at him in the same scared, 



28 A NIGHT ON THE BORDERS 

stupid way, and kept edging away towards the 
door. 

"Let her go," I said. "She is evidently half an 
idiot." 

"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 
of it." 

"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 
manners." 

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 
frown. 

"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?" 

"Yes." 

I took one of the cups, and put the other beside 
Bergheim's plate. 

"Here, Bergheim," I said, "wake up; the coffee 
is waiting." 

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 
yet made. 

"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 
ready." 

"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 
laboured. 

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 
of songs. 

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 
the time. 

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 
again. 

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 
moment. 

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 
minutes. 

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 

3* 



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 
overhead. 

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 
within?" 

"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 
the lock. 

"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?" 

"No." 

A torrent of savage oaths — then a pause. 

"Force us to break it open, and it will be the 
worse for you!" 

"Try." 

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 



746 



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 
down. 



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 
horror. 

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 
you remember'?" 

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 
door. 

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 
see!" 

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 
past me. 

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 
executed. 

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 
life." 

I laughed outright. 

"My dear fellow," I replied, "you've so often 
seen the loveliest creature you ever beheld in your 
life." 

"Ay, but I am in earnest now for the first 
time." 

"And you have so often been in earnest for the 
first time! Remember the inn-keeper's daughter at 
Cologne." 

"A pretty housemaid, whom no training could 
have made presentable." 

"Then there was the beautiful American at 
Interlaken." 

"Yes; but—" 

"And the bella Marchesa at Prince Torlonia's 
ball." 



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 
again. 

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 
square. 

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- 

4* 



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 
of her?" 

"She is very lovely." 

"Lovelier than you expected?" 

"Much lovelier. But — " 

"But what?" 

"The sooner you succeed in forgetting her the 
better." 

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 
out. 

"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- 
ward. 

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 
the next. 

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 
and weather. 

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 
a moment. 

"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?" 

"None, signore." 

"And you have seen nothing of a lady in 
black?" 

He laughed and shook his head. 

" Consola/evi, signore," he said, archly; "she will 
come to-morrow." 

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 
Salome. 

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- 
persed. 

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 
again ? 

Fairly tired out at last, I fell asleep in my 
chair, and when I awoke the sun was shining upon 
my window. 

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- 
tored skill. 

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 
gondolier. 

He touched his cap and waited for orders. 



64 THE STORY OF SALOME. 

"Where to, signore 1 ?" he asked, finding that I 
remained silent. 

"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 
ourselves. 

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 
desert island. 

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 
to 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 

5* 



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 
autumnal wind. 

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." 

"I will." 

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 
sight. 

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 
eight. 

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 
of discovery. 

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 
dwellers therein. 

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- 
self. 

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 
sacrilege myself. 

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 
alone. 

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 
grief. 

"I pray you, caro signore, to receive the assur- 
ance of my sincere esteem. 

"Nicolo Nicolai." 



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 
Lido. 

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 
her father. 

"Can you tell me," I asked, "whether she had 
any dear friend or female relative of the same name 
—Salome?" 

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." 

"Impossible!" 

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 
no more." 

"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 
moment." 

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 
Christian." 

"Laid in earth ivithont one Christian prayer ; with 
Hebreiv rites; in a Hebrew sanctuary!" I repeated 
to myself. 

"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 
not." 

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 
more? 

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 
be here. 



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 
to me. 

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 
the walls. 

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- 
mortelles. 

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, 
in oils. 

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 

of 

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 
green curtain. 

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 
solitude. 

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 
premises. 



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 
may be." 

"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- 
sez." 

"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 
ending." 

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- 
looking man." 

"He is too good for this world," said the land- 
lady. 

"He is a saint upon earth!" added the pretty 
Friiulein. 

"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 

him." 

"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 
parish." 

"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 
elder brother?" 

"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," 
continued: — 

"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 
you.' 

"'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 
do so?' 

"'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 
or foul.' 

'"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 
alive. 

"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- 
lege.' 

"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 
was hanged." 

"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- 
happy." 

"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 
diseased. 

"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 
Margaret's murder. 

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- 
felden. 

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 
shrubbery. 

"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, 

r 



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." 

"Naturally." 

"I — I had no idea, however, that I was not 
alone there. I would not for the world have in- 
truded—" 

"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 
way. 

"In the confessional!" he repeated, with a catch- 



IN THE CONFESSIONAL. IOI 

ing of his breath. "You saw some one — in the con- 
fessional?" 

"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- 
spair!" 

"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- 
sion." 

"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. 

"Caspar Rufenacht!" 

"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 
rigid. 

"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. 

"Yes— plainly." 

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 
deepening twilight. 



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 
of prayer. 



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 
home weeping. 

"'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. 



CHAPTER I. 

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 
the twilight. 

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- 
chaser. 

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- 
licate workmanship. 

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 
beyond. 

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 
year. 

"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 
bell." 

"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 
shoulders. 

"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 
devotional admiration. 

"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- 
room." 

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 
peeped in. 

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- 
ture shrine. 

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 
with sunshine. 

"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- 
ling!" 

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 
proper examination." 

The widower buried his face in his hands and 
groaned aloud. 

"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 

mean?" 

• 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: — 
"Murdered." 



PALAZZO BARDELLO. 123 



CHAPTER II. 

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 
universal topic. 

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 
wearied. 

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 
his eyes. 

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 
with malaria. 



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 
quite forgotten. 

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 
before. 



128 THE TRAGEDY IN THE 



CHAPTER III. 

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- 
sion. 

"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 
the stove. 

"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 
police." 

"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- 
tence. 

"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 
coincidences!" 

"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!" 

"A child, sir; a little fellow of only eleven 
years of age , and the son of a baker named Tom- 
maseo." 

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- 
fair!" 

"And the name, Tommaseo. Many thanks. 
Good morning." 

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- 
standers. 

"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! 

9* 



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 
places. 

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 
him. 

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 
cold! 

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 
to remember. 

He could not bear to look upon it. He shud- 
dered and turned his face aside. 

"Is there — is there anyone whom you suspect?" 
he faltered. 

"No one." 

"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 
absence?" 

"No one, Signore." 

"Did the shoemaker's wife hear no sound?" 



I36 THE TRAGEDY IN THE 

"None whatever." 

"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 
passionate kisses. 

" 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 
face. 

"Has he been to see you since?" 

"He sent a priest this morning to pray for the 
repose of our little one's soul." 

"Humph!" 



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 
thanks!" 

And with a quick gesture, half deprecation, half 
farewell, he was gone. 



138 THE TRAGEDY IN THE 



CHAPTER IV. 

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 
violently. 

"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 
with murder!" 

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- 
trayed himself. 

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 
heretic husband. 

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 
again. 



THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 



The Black Forest. I0 



THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 



CHAPTER I. 

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- 
tide. 

io» 



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- 
yond. 

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 
the year." 

"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- 
ment's pause. 

"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 
sale." 

"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?" 

" 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 
Christmas." 

"Nothing more?" 

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 
arrive." 

"That sounds tragic. Had you a conflagra- 
tion on the occasion of your last visit to Dumble- 
ton?" 

"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 
at Blackwateii" 

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- 
peared. 

"He did not ask for yours," I said with some 
surprise. 

"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 
the station. 

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." 

"Good evening," I replied, putting out my 
hand. 

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 
crowd. 

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 
them. 

"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- 
ous? 

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 
grooms. 



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 dining-room. 



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- 
mas." 

"I cannot think who that could be," said my 
friend, smiling. 



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. 
John Dwerrihouse." 

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 
his arrival." 

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 
and embarrassed. 

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 
Prendergast. 

"In Heaven's name," I whispered, "what was the 
matter just now? What had I said?" 

"You mentioned the name of John Dwerri- 
house." 

"What of that? I had seen him not two hours 
before." 

"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. 



CHAPTER II. 

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 
disappearance? 

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 
or guilty." 

"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 
pocket?" 

"He did." 

"Humph! My wife has an idea about it, and she 
may be right — " 

"What idea?" 

"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- 

11* 



164 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 

scond with his booty, nor to come back and re- 
store it." 

"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 
far." 

"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 
use it. 

"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- 
ing." 

"Ay; but it is time you were asleep and dream- 
ing now. I am ashamed to have kept you so long. 
Good night." 

"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 
least service." 

"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- 
borough." 

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 
inquiry. 



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 
lately." 

"Not to my knowledge," replied the station- 
master. 

"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- 
master, promptly. 

" 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 
the platform." 

"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 
he, interrogatively. 

"The same," replied my friend. "Should you 
know him if you saw him?" fi 

"Anywhere, sir." 

"Do you know if he was in the 4.15 Express 
yesterday afternoon?" 

"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 
here?" 

"It was my impression, sir, that you travelled 
down alone," said Somers, with a look of some 
surprise. 

"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 

silence. 

"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 
watch. 

"I am obliged to go in four minutes more, sir," 

he said. 

"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 
own." 

"I never saw him, sir; I saw no one in the 
compartment but yourself. Beg pardon, sir, my 
time's up." 

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 
fellow." 

"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 
pounds V 

"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 

that point." 

"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 
go home." 



172 THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS. 



CHAPTER III. 

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 
terminus. 

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 
the tickets?" 

"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?" 

"Quite 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 
forty." 

"Did Mr. Dwerrihouse leave the station in this 
person's company?" 

"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- 
man. 

"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 
way through." 

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 
company's servants?" 

"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 platform." 

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 
been disposed." 

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 ?" 

"I, sir?" 

"You, Mr. Raikes. Where were you on the 
afternoon and evening of the fourth of the present 
month?" 

"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- 
tember. 

I was confounded. 

The chairman turned to me with a smile, in 
which a shade of covert annoyance was scarcely 
apparent. 

"You hear, Mr. Langford?" he said. 

"I hear, sir; but my conviction remains un- 
shaken." 

"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 

12* 



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 
similar." 

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 
head. 

"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 
times." 

"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 
Raikes!" 

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 
words." 

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 
denial. 

"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 
know." 

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 
Devonshire!" 

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- 
house disappeared." 

"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 
agitated. 

"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 
done." 

"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 
betrayed yourself." 

"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 
this deed?" 

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 
found it. 

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 
or whither. 

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- 
mitted it. 



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 
lips. 

"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- 

13* 



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 
was open. 

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 
day. 

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 
florins. 

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, 
laughingly. 

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 
spot. 

"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- 
day. 

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 
went. 

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 
getting out. 

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 
speeding southwards. 

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, 
by seven. 

"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 
smiled. 

"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 
here." 

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 
bear. 

"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 
and lost. 

"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 
sign. 

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 
Finazzer. 

Himself, and yet so changed! Worn, haggard, 
grey. 

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 night. 

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? 



14 4 






ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 

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.] 



ALL-SAINTS' EVE. 



CHAPTER I. 
The Mountaineers. 

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 
precipice. 

" '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 
of age. 

"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 
her." 

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 
before. 

"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 
been silent. 

"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- 
dulous Pierre. 

"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 
marriage." 

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 
Count: — 

"'Monsieur,' said he, 'I know my daughter; she 
will obey my commands. Promise me to make her 
happy.' 

"The Count, greatly moved, promised to devote 
his life to her; and the poor dear master fell back 
quite dead! 

"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 
soul." 

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 
timel" 

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- 
tanel 

"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 
the priest. 

"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 
true; Jacques." 

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 
you?" 

The priest coloured crimson. 

"Madame," said he, falteringly, "this partridge 
is wounded in the wing, but is not dead. Who 
shot it?" 

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. 



CHAPTER II. 

The Storm. 

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 
paint. 



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 
profound respect. 

"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- 
son again." 

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 

15* 



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 
Pradines?" 

"You were there no longer, Madame," said the 
mountaineer, standing before her in a respectful at- 
titude. 

"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 
bread." 

"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 
deathly white. 

"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?" 

"No, Madame." 

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 
longer." 

"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 
difficult." 

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 
to-morrow." 

"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 
hand. 

"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- 
way. 

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 
pathway. 

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 
below. 

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 
storm. 

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 
beautiful eyes!" 

'■'■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- 
dred louis." 

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 
the king." 

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 
upon it." 

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 
very pale. 

"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 
master. 

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. 



CHAPTER III. 

The Parsonage. 

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- 
pagnie. 

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 
the book. 

"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- 
nette." 

"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 
keep it." 

"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 

16* 



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?" 

"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 
pious horror. 

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 
de Fontane." 

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- 
ing!" 

"It is quite true," said the poor Abbe, tremu- 
lously. 

"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 
guilty man. 

"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. 



CHAPTER IV. 
The Vow. 

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 
groaned aloud. 

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 
me die!" 

"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- 
spairingly. 

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 
soul." 

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 
happy. 



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 
the valleys. 

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 
his regiment. 



all-saints' eve. 255 



CHAPTER V. 

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 
since? 

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 
terrace. 

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 
by another. 

"Oh, mon Dieu!" murmured the young woman, 
leaning for support against the window-frame; "what 
Christian hunts at such an hour as this? Heaven 
protect Eugene!" 

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 
to fall. 

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 
Fontane." 

"Very likely," said his companion — "I play the 
king." 

"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 
the evening!" 

"And it was followed by — by a second," said 
the Countess. 

"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 
league." 

"A quarter of a league, did you say?" ex- 

17* 



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 
voices. 

"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 
his mistress, 



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 
Fontanel" 

"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- 
ment!" 

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 
blood!" 

"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 
de Pradines. 

"It is now too late to hope for his arrival," said 
Marguerite. "I trust he has met with no wolves on 
the road." 

"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 
de Pradines!" 

"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- 
out. 

"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 
Fontane. 

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 
more. 

"And that person?" 

"Pardon, M. le Lieutenant, but — but I will not 
say." 

"Answer, I command you," said the officer, "in 
the name of the King." 

"It is — M. le Chevalier de Fontane!" gasped the 
terrified peasant. 

"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 
murder." 



all-saints' eve. 267 



CHAPTER VI. 

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 
Light Dragoons. 

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- 
stances. 

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 
passed on. 

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 
guilty?" 

"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 



CHAPTER VII. 

The Trial. 

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 
the province. 

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 witness-box. 

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 
the body." 

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 
from us." 

Lieut. "At what time did the mass begin?" 

Jacques. "At seven o'clock, Monsieur le Lieute- 
nant." 

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 
observed him. 

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 
sight. 



all-saints' eve. 277 

The Lieutenant of Police next examined the 
houtillier Pierre. 

Lieut. "Repeat what you said of the quarrel 
between Monsieur le Chevalier and the Baron de 
Pradines." 

Pierre, [in great confusion]: "I know nothing, 
Monsieur, beyond what the poor people say about 
the village." 

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 
reports'?" 

Pierre. "From Pere Jacques, Monsieur le Lieute- 
nant." 

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 
about, Monsieur." 

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 
Saints' Day." 

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 
abusive language. 

The Lieutenant of Police, cross-examining the 
servant of M. de Fontane, then continued: — 

"Where was M. de Fontane on All-Saints' 
Day?" 

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 
o'clock." 

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 
about eight?" 

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- 
mour." 

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 
movement. 

"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 
servant. 



282 all-saints' eve. 

"Did Madame think that Monsieur de Fontane 
thoroughly pardoned the imprudent language of M. 
de Pradines?" 

The lady said that she believed it from her 
heart. 

"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 
Chateau?" 

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 
a second. 

"Still, might not Madame have been deceived — 
by an echo, for instance?" 

The lady was convinced of the accuracy of her 
statement. 

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 
Countess. 

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 
troubled farther. 

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- 
bourg. 

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 
blood." 

Lieut. "How did M. de Fontane seem when he 
rode in?" 

L. Masson. "He seemed very much excited, 
M. le Lieutenant. His neckcloth and waistcoat 
were stained with blood, and his hand was tied in 
a handkerchief." 

Lieut. "Did he make any remarks to you about 
it?" 

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 
Court. 

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 
hall." 

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 
and fortitude." 

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 
were called. 

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 
mountains." 

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 
Rocher Rouge?" 

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 
every particular. 

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. 

19* 



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 
distinctly. 

The silence was intense throughout the court. 
Every breath was held; every eye turned towards 
him. 

"Do you find the prisoner guilty, or not guilty?" 

"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- 
head. 

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. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

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 
are innocent?" 

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- 
fore. 

"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 
Pradines!" 

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 
same jury. 

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- 
where present. 

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- 
plied. 

"'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 
more.' 

"'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 
yourself?' 

"'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 
royal clemency. 

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 
prison. 

"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." 



THE END. 



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