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Full text of "Selected English short stories (xix and xx centuries)"

SELECTED ENGLISH 
SHOET STOEIES 

(XIX AND XX CENTURIES) 




HUMPHREY MILFORD 

OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON EDINBURGH GLASGOW COPENHAGEN 
NEW YORK TORONTO MELBOURNE CAPE TOWN 
BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS SHANGHAI PEKING 



* This second selection of English Short Stories was 
first published in i The World's Classics ' in 1921 and 
reprinted in the same year. 



NOTE 

A VOLUME of Selected English Short Stories (nine- 
teenth century) was first published in 19 14, and has 
been often reprinted. This is a second volume selected 
on the same principles and from almost the same 
period. Of both volumes it should be noted that 
English means written in the English language, and 
that no selection from living writers has been attempted. 

H. S. M. 



470450 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

MARY ANN LAMB, 1764-1847 

The Sailor Uncle 1 

CHARLES LAMB, 1775-1834 

First Going to Church .... 12 

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, 1804-1864 

The Maypole of Merry Mount . . .19 
The Grey Champion .... 32 
Roger Malvin's Burial .... 41 
Old Esther Dudley .... 64 

EDGAR ALLAN POE, 1809-1849 

The Purloined Letter .... 78 
The Cask of Amontillado . . . .100 

CHARLES DICKENS, 1812-1870 

The Holly Tree 108 

WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS, 1824-1889 

A Terribly Strange Bed . . . .148 

WILLIAM HALE WHITE (' MARK RUTHER- 
FORD '), 1831-1913 

' The Sweetness of a Man's Friend ' . .169 
(By kind permission of Mrs. White) 

RICHARD GARN^TT, 1835-1906 

Ananda the Miracle Worker . . .177 
(By kind permission of Mr. John Lane) 



viii CONTENTS 

PAGE 

FRANCIS BRET HARTE, 1839-1902 

The Outcasts of Poker Flat . . .190 
How Santa Clans came to Simpson's Bar . 202 

CHARLES GRANT, 1841-1889 

Peppiniello . . . r 220 

(By kind permission of Messrs. Macmillan 
& Co.) 

*" AMBROSE BIERCE, 1842-1913(7) 

A Horseman in the Sky . . ' . 252 

HENRY JAMES, 1843-1916 

Owen Wingrave ..... 260 

(By kind permission of Messrs. Harper Bros.) 
Four Meetings. . . . . 301 

(By kind permission of Mr. J. B. Pinker] 

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, 1850-1894 

The Sire de Maletroit's Door . . .334 
(By kind permission of Messrs. Chatto & 
Windus) 

OSCAR WILDE, 1856-1900 

The Birthday of the Infanta . . . 358 
(By kind permission of Messrs. Methuen 
& Co.) 

GEORGE GISSING, 1857-1903 

A Poor Gentleman ... . . 380 
(By kind permission of Mr. J. B. Pinker) 

HENRY HARLAND, 1861-1905 

The House of Eulalie . > . . .396 
(By kind permission of Mr. John Lane) 



CONTENTS ix 

PAGE 

WILLIAM SYDNEY PORTER ( ' O. HENRY ' ), 
1867-1910 

The Gift of the Magi . . . ,406 
A Municipal Report . . . 412 

Madame Bo-Peep, of the Ranches . . ^430 

R, MURRAY GILCHRIST, 1867-1917 

The Gap in the Wall . . . .452 

A Witch in the Peak . . . .457 
(By kind permission of Mrs. Gilchrist) 

GERALD WARRE CORNISH, 1875-1916 

The Stowaway 462 

(By kind permission of Messrs. Grant 
Richards, Ltd.) 



MARY ANN LAMB 

1764-1847 

THE SAILOR UNCLE 

(From Mrs. Leicester's School : or, The History of Several 
Young Ladies related by themselves.) 

MY father is the curate of a village church, about 
five miles from Amwell. I was born in the parsonage- 
house, which joins the church-yard. The first thing 
I can remember was my father teaching me the alphabet 
from the letters on a tombstone that stood at the head 
of my mother's grave. I used to tap at my father's 
study-door ; I think I now hear him say, ' Who is 
there ? What do you want, little girl ? ' 'Go and 
see mamma. Go and learn pretty letters/ Many 
times in the day would my father lay aside his books 
and his papers to lead me to this spot, and make me 
point to the letters, and then set me to spell syllables 
and words : in this manner, the epitaph on my 
mother's tomb being my primer and my spelling-book, 
I learned to read. 

I was one day sitting on a step placed across the 
church-yard stile, when a gentleman passing by, heard 
me distinctly repeat the letters which formed my 
mother's name, and then say, Elizabeth Villiers, with 
a firm tone, as if I had performed some great matter. 
This gentleman was my uncle James, my mother's 
brother : he was a lieutenant in the navy, and had left 
England a few weeks after the marriage of my father 
and mother, and now, returned home from a long sea- 
voyage, he was coming to visit my mother ; no tidings 

228 B 



2 AT Aft Y AXN LAMB 

of her decease having reached him, though she had 
been dead more than a twelvemonth. 

When my uncle saw me sitting on the stile, and 
heard me pronounce my mother's name, he looked 
earnestly in my face, and began to fancy a resemblance 
to his sister, and to think I might be her child. I was 
too intent on my employment to observe him, and 
went spelling on. ' Who has taught you to spell so 
prettily, my little maid ? ' said my uncle. * Mamma,' 
I replied ; for I had an idea that the words on the tomb- 
stone were somehow a part of mamma, and that she 
had taught me. ' And who is mamma ? ' asked my 
uncle. ' Elizabeth Villiers,' I replied ; and then my 
uncle called me his dear little niece, and said he would 
go with me to mamma : he took hold of my hand , 
intending to lead me home, delighted that he had 
found out who I was, because he imagined it would 
be such a pleasant surprise to his sister to see her little 
daughter bringing home her long lost sailor uncle. 

I agreed to take him to mamma, but we had a 
dispute about the way thither. My uncle was for 
going along the road which led directly up to our house ; 
I pointed to the church-yard, and said, that was the 
way to mamma. Though impatient of any delay, he 
was not willing to contest the point with his new 
relation, therefore he lifted me over the stile, and was 
then going to take me along the path to a gate he 
knew was at the end of our garden ; but no, I would 
not go that way either: letting go his hand, I said, 
* You do not know the way I will show you ' : and 
making what haste I could among the long grass and 
thistles, and jumping over the low graves, he said, as 
he followed what he called my wayward steps, ' What a 
positive soul this little niece of mine is ! I knew the 
way to your mother's house before you were born, 
child.' At last I stopped at my mother's grave, and, 
pointing to the tombstone, said, ' Here is mamma/ in 
a voice of exultation, as if I had now convinced him 



THE SAILOR UNCLE 3 

that I knew the way best : I looked up in his face to 
see him acknowledge his mistake ; but oh, what a face 
of sorrow did I see ! I was so frightened, that I have 
but an imperfect recollection of what followed. I 
remember I pulled his coat, and cried, ' Sir, sir,' and 
tried to move him. I knew not what to do ; my mind 
was in a strange confusion ; I thought I had done some- 
thing wrong in bringing the gentleman to mamma to 
make him cry so sadly ; but what it was I could not 
tell. This grave had always been a scene of delight to 
me. In the house my father would often be weary of 
my prattle, and send me from him ; but here he was all 
my own. I might say anything and be as frolicsome 
as I pleased here ; all was cheerfulness and good 
humour in our visits to mamma, as we called it. My 
father would tell me how quietly mamma slept there, 
and that he and his little Betsy would one day sleep 
beside mamma in that grave ; and when I went to bed, 
as I laid my little head on the pillow, I used to wish I 
was sleeping in the grave with my papa and mamma ; 
and in my childish dreams I used to fancy myself there, 
and it was a place within the ground, all smooth, and 
soft, and green. I never made out any figure of 
mamma, but still it was the tombstone, and papa, and 
the smooth green grass, and my head resting upon the 
elbow of my father. 

How long my uncle remained in this agony of grief 
I know not ; to me it seemed a very long time : at last 
he took me in his arms, and held me so tight, that I 
began to cry, and ran home to my father, and told him, 
that a gentleman was crying about mamma's pretty 
letters. 

No doubt it was a very affecting meeting between my 
father and my uncle. I remember that it was the first 
day I ever saw my father weep : that I was in sad 
trouble, and went into the kitchen and told Susan, our 
servant, that papa was crying ; and she wanted to 
keep me with her that I might not disturb the con versa- 



4 MARY ANN LAMB 

tion ; but I would go back to the parlour to poor papa, 
and I went in softly, and crept between my father's 
knees. My uncle offered to take me in his arms, but I 
turned sullenly from him, and clung closer to my father, 
having conceived a dislike to my uncle because he had 
made my father cry. 

Now I first learned that my mother's death was a 
heavy affliction ; for I heard my father tell a melan- 
choly story of her long illness, her death, and what he 
had suffered from her loss. My uncle said, what a sad 
thing it was for my father to be left with such a young 
child ; but my father replied, his little Betsy was all his 
comfort, and that, but for me, he should have died with 
grief. How I could be any comfort to my father, struck 
me with wonder. I knew I was pleased when he played 
and talked with me ; but I thought that was all good- 
ness and favour done to me, and I had no notion how I 
could make any part of his happiness. The sorrow I 
now heard he had suffered, was as new and strange to 
me. I had no idea that he had ever been unhappy ; 
bis voice was always kind and cheerful ; I had never 
before seen him weep, or show any such signs of grief 
as those in which I used to express my little troubles. 
My thoughts on these subjects were confused and 
childish ; but from that time I never ceased pondering 
on the sad story of my dead mamma. 

The next day I went by mere habit to the study- door, 
to call papa to the beloved grave ; my mind misgave 
me, and I could not tap at the door. I went backwards 
and forwards between the kitchen and the study, and 
what to do with myself I did not know. My uncle met 
me in the passage, and said, ' Betsy, will you come and 
walk with me in the garden ? ' This I refused, for this 
was not what I wanted, but the old amusement of 
sitting on the grave, and talking to papa. My uncle 
tried to persuade me, but still I said, ' No, no,' and ran 
crying into the kitchen. As he followed me in there, 
Susan said, ' This child is so fretful to -day, I do not 



THE SAILOR UNCLE 5 

know what to do with her.' ' Aye,' said my uncle, ' I 
suppose my poor brother spoils her, having but one.' 
This reflection on my papa made me quite in a little 
passion of anger, for I had not forgot that with this new 
uncle sorrow had first come into our dwelling : I 
screamed loudly, till my father came out to know what 
it was all about. He sent my uncle into the parlour, 
and said, he would manage the little wrangler by him- 
self. When my uncle was gone I ceased crying ; my 
father forgot to lecture me for my ill humour, or to 
inquire into the cause, and we were soon seated by the 
side of the tombstone. No lesson went on that day ; 
no talking of pretty mamma sleeping in the green 
grave ; no jumping from the tombstone to the ground ; 
no merry jokes or pleasant stories. I sate upon my 
father's knee, looking up in his face, and thinking, 
' How sorry papa looks ! ' till, having been fatigued with 
crying, and now oppressed with thought, I fell fast 



My uncle soon learned from Susan that this place 
was our constant haunt ; she told him she did verily 
believe her master would never get the better of the 
death of her mistress, while he continued to teach the 
child to read at the tombstone ; for, though it might 
soothe his grief, it kept it for ever fresh in his memory. 
The sight of his sister's grave had been such a shock to 
my uncle, that he readily entered into Susan's appre- 
hensions ; and concluding, that if I were set to study 
by some other means, there would no longer be a pre- 
tence for these visits to the grave, away my kind uncle 
hastened to the nearest market- town to buy me some 
books. 

I heard the conference between my uncle and Susan, 
and I did not approve of his interfering in our pleasures. 
I saw him take his hat and walk out, and I secretly 
hoped he was gone beyond seas again, from whence 
Susan had told me he had come. Where beyond seas was 
I could not tell ; but 1 concluded it was somewhere a 



6 MARY ANN LAMB 

great way off. I took my seat on the church-yard stile, 
and kept looking down the road, and saying, ' I hope I 
shall not see my uncle again. I hope my uncle will not 
come from beyond seas any more ' ; but I said this very 
softly, and had a kind of notion that I was in a perverse 
ill-humoured fit. Here I sate till my uncle returned 
from the market-town with his new purchases. I saw 
him come walking very fast with a parcel under his arm. 
I was very sorry to see him, and I frowned, and tried to 
look very cross. He untied his parcel, and said, ' Betsy, 
I have brought you a pretty book.' I turned my head 
away, and said, ' I don't want a book ' ; but I could not 
help peeping again to look at it. In the hurry of open- 
ing the parcel he had scattered all the books upon the 
ground, and there I saw fine gilt covers and gay pictures 
all fluttering about. What a fine sight ! All my 
resentment vanished, and I held up my face to kiss him, 
that being my way of thanking my father for any 
extraordinary favour. 

My uncle had brought himself into rather a trouble- 
some office ; he had heard me spell so well, that he 
thought there was nothing to do but to put books into 
my hand, and I should read ; yet, notwithstanding 
I spelt tolerably well, the letters in my new library 
were so much smaller than I had been accustomed to, 
they were like Greek characters to me ; I could make 
nothing at all of them. The honest sailor was not to be 
discouraged by this difficulty ; though unused to play 
the schoolmaster, he taught me to read the small print, 
with unwearied diligence and patience ; and whenever 
he saw my father and me look as if we wanted to 
resume our visits to the grave, he would propose some 
pleasant walk ; and if my father said it was too far for 
the child to walk, he would set me on his shoulder, 
and say, * Then Betsy shall ride ' ; and in this manner 
has he carried me many many miles. 

In these pleasant excursions my uncle seldom forgot 
to make Susan furnish him with a luncheon which, 



THE SAILOR UNCLE 7 

though it generally happened every day, made a con- 
stant surprise to my papa and me, when, seated under 
some shady tree, he pulled it out of his pocket and 
began to distribute his little store ; and then I used to 
peep into the other pocket to see if there were not some 
currant wine there and the little bottle of water for 
me ; if, perchance, the water was forgot, then it made 
another joke, that poor Betsy must be forced to 
drink a little drop of wine. These are childish things 
to tell of, and instead of my own silly history, I wish 
I could remember the entertaining stories my uncle 
used to relate of his voyages and travels, while we 
sate under the shady trees, eating our noontide meal. 

The long visit my uncle made us was such an im- 
portant event in my life, that I feel I shall tire your 
patience with talking of him ; but when he is gone, 
the remainder of my story will be but short. 

The summer months passed away, but not swiftly ; 
the pleasant walks, and the charming stories of my 
uncle's adventures, made them seem like years to me ; 
I remember the approach of winter by the warm 
great coat he bought for me, and how proud I was 
when I first put it on, and that he called me Little 
Red Riding Hood, and bade me beware of wolves, 
and that I laughed and said there were no such things 
now ; then he told me how many wolves, and bears, 
and tigers, and lions he had met with in uninhabited 
lands, that were like Robinson Crusoe's Island. Oh, 
these were happy days ! 

In the winter our walks were shorter and less fre- 
quent. My books were now my chief amusement, 
though my studies were often interrupted by a game 
of romps with my uncle, which too often ended in a 
quarrel because he played so roughly ; yet long before 
this I dearly loved my uncle, and the improvement 
I made while he was with us was very great indeed. 
I could now read very well, and the continual habit 
of listening to the conversation of rny father and my 



8 MARY ANN LAMB 

uncle made me a little woman in understanding ; so 
that my father said to him, ' James, you have made 
my child quite a companionable little being.' 

My father often left me alone with my uncle ; 
sometimes to write his sermons ; sometimes to visit 
the sick, or give counsel to his poor neighbours ; then 
my uncle used to hold long conversations with me, 
telling me how I should strive to make my father 
happy, and endeavour to improve myself when he was 
gone : now I began justly to understand why he 
had taken such pains to keep my father from visiting 
my mother's grave, that grave which I often stole 
privately to look at, but' now never without awe and 
reverence ; for my uncle used to tell me what an 
excellent lady my mother was, and I now thought of 
her as having been a real mamma, which before seemed 
an ideal something, no way connected with life. And 
he told me that the ladies from the Manor-House, who 
sate in the best pew in the church, were not so graceful, 
and the best women in the village were not so good, 
as was my sweet mamma ; and that if she had lived, 
I should not have been forced to pick up a little 
knowledge from him^ a rough sailor, or to learn to 
knit and sew of Susan, but that she would have taught 
me all lady-like fine works, and delicate behaviour and 
perfect manners, and would have selected for me 
proper books, such as were most fit to instruct my 
mind, and of which he nothing knew. If ever in my 
life I shall have any proper sense of what is excellent 
or becoming in the womanly character, I owe it to 
these lessons of my rough unpolished uncle ; for, in 
telling me what my mother would have made me, 
he taught me what to wish to be ; and when, soon 
after my uncle left us, I was introduced to the ladies 
at the Manor -House, instead of hanging down my 
head with shame, as I should have done before my 
uncle came, like a little village rustic, I tried to speak 
distinctly, with ease, and a modest gentleness, as my 



THE SAILOR UNCLE 9 

uncle had said my mother used to do ; instead of 
hanging down my head abashed, I looked upon them, 
and thought what a pretty sight a fine lady was, and 
thought how well my mother must have appeared, 
since she was so much more graceful than these ladies 
were ; and when I heard them compliment my father 
on the admirable behaviour of his child, and say how 
well he had brought me up, I thought to myself, * Papa 
does not much mind my manners, if I am but a good 
girl ; but it was my uncle that taught me'to behave 
like mamma.' I cannot now think my uncle was 
so rough and unpolished as he said he was, for his 
lessons were so good and so impressive that I shall 
never forget them, and I hope they will be of use to 
me as long as I live : he would explain to me the 
meaning of all the words he used, such as grace and 
elegance, modest diffidence and affectation, pointing 
out instances of what he meant by those words, in 
the manners of the ladies and their young daughters 
who came to our church ; for, besides the ladies of 
the Manor-House, many of the neighbouring families 
came to our church because my father preached so 
well. 

It must have been early in the spring when my 
uncle went away, for the crocuses were just blown 
in the garden, and the primroses had begun to peep 
from under the young budding hedge -rows. I cried 
as if my heart would break, when I had the last sight 
of him through a little opening among the trees, as 
he went down the road. My father accompanied 
him to the market-town, from whence he was to 
proceed in the stage-coach to London. How tedious 
I thought all Susan's endeavours to comfort me were. 
The stile where I first saw my uncle came into my 
mind, and I thought I would go and sit there, and 
think about that day ; but I was no sooner seated 
there, than I remembered how I had frightened him 
by taking him so foolishly to my mother's grave, 
u* 



10 MARY ANN LAMB 

and then again how naughty I had been when I sate 
muttering to myself at this same stile, wishing that 
he, who had gone so far to buy me books, might never 
come back any more : all my little quarrels with my 
uncle came into my mind, now that I could never 
play with him again, and it almost broke my heart. 
I was forced to run into the house to Susan for that 
consolation I had just before despised. 

Some days after this, as I was sitting by the fire 
with my father, after it was dark, and before the 
candles were lighted, I gave him an account of my 
troubled conscience at the church-stile, where I re- 
membered how unkind I 'had been to my uncle when 
he first came, and how sorry I still was whenever I 
thought of the many quarrels I had had with him. 

My father smiled and took hold of my hand, saying, 
* I will tell you all about this, my little penitent. 
This is the sort of way in which we all feel, when those 
we love are taken from us. When our dear friends 
are with us, we go on enjoying their society, without 
much thought or consideration of the blessings we 
are possessed of, nor do we too nicely weigh the 
measure of our daily actions ; we let them freely 
share our kind or our discontented moods ; and, if 
any little bickerings disturb our friendship, it does 
but the more endear us to each other when we are in 
a happier temper. But these things come over us 
like grievous faults when the object of our affection 
is gone for ever. Your dear mamma and I had no 
quarrels ; yet in the first days of my lonely sorrow, 
how many things came into my mind that I might 
have done to have made her happier. It is so with 
you, my child. You did all a child could do to please 
your uncle, and dearly did he love you ; and these 
little things which now disturb your tender mind, 
were remembered with delight by your uncle. He 
was telling me in our last walk, just perhaps as you 
were thinking about it with sorrow, of the difficulty 



THE SAILOR UNCLE 11 

he had in getting into your good graces when he first 
came ; he will think of these things with pleasure 
when he is far away. Put away from you this un- 
founded grief ; only let it be a lesson to you to be as 
kind as possible to those you love ; and remember, 
when they are gone from you, you will never think 
you had been kind enough. Such feelings as you have 
now described are the lot of humanity. So you will 
feel when I am no more ; and so will your children 
feel when you are dead. But your uncle will come 
back again, Betsy, and we will now think of where we 
are to get the cage to keep the talking parrot in, he 
is to bring home ; and go and tell Susan to bring the 
candles, and ask her if the nice cake is almost -baked, 
that she promised to give us for our tea.' 



CHARLES LAMB 

17751834 
FIRST GOING TO CHURCH 

(From Mrs* Leicester's School : or. The History of Several 
Young -Ladies related by themselves.) 

I WAS born and brought up, in a house in which my 
parents had all their lives resided, which stood in the 
midst of that lonely tract of land called the Lincoln- 
shire fens. Few families besides our own lived near 
the spot, both because it was reckoned an unwhole- 
some air, and because its distance from any town or 
market made it an inconvenient situation. My 
lather was in no very affluent circumstances, and it 
was a sad necessity which he was put to, of having 
to go many miles to fetch anything he wanted from 
the nearest village, which was full seven miles distant, 
through a sad miry way that at all times made it 
heavy walking, and after rain was almost impassable. 
But he had no horse or carriage of his own. 

The church which belonged to the parish in which 
our house was situated, stood in this village ; and its 
distance being, as I said before, seven miles from our 
house, made it quite an impossible thing for my 
mother or me to think of going to it. Sometimes, 
indeed, on a fine dry Sunday, my father would rise 
early, and take a walk to the village, just to see how 
goodness thrived, as he used to say ; but he would 
generally return tired, and the worse for his walk. 
It is scarcely possible to explain to 'any one who has 
not lived in the fens, what difficult and dangerous 
walking it is. A mile is as good as four, I have heard 

12 



FIRST GOING TO CHURCH 13 

my father say, in those parts. My mother, who in 
the e*arly part of her life had lived in a more civilized 
spot, and had been used to constant church-going, 
would often lament her situation. It was from her I 
early imbibed a great curiosity and anxiety to se that 
thing, which I had heard her call a church, and so 
often lament that she could never go to. I had seen 
houses of various structures, and had seen in pictures 
the shapes of ships and boats, and palaces and temples, 
but never rightly anything that could be called a 
church, or that could satisfy me about its form. Some- 
times I thought it must be like our house, and some- 
times I fancied it must be more like the house of our 
neighbour, Mr. Sutton, which was bigger and hand- 
somer than ours. Sometimes I thought it was a great 
hollow cave, such as I have heard my father say the 
first inhabitants of the earth dwelt in. Then I thought 
it was like a waggon, or a cart, and that it must be 
something moveable. The shape of it ran in my mind 
strangely, and one day I ventured to ask my mother, 
what was that foolish thing that she was always 
longing to go to, and which she called a church. Was 
it anything to eat or drink, or was it only like a great 
huge plaything, to be seen and stared at ? I was not 
quite five years of age when I made this inquiry. 

This question, so oddly put, made my mother 
smile ; but in a little time she put on a more grave 
look, and informed me, that a church was nothing 
that I had supposed it, but it was a great building, 
far greater than any house which I had seen, where 
men, and women, and children, came together, twice 
a day, on Sundays, to hear the Bible read, and make 
good resolutions for the week to come. She told me, 
that the fine music which we sometimes heard in the 
air, eame from the bells of St. Mary's church, and 
that we never heard it but when the wind was in a 
particular point. This raised my wonder more than 
all the rest ; for I had somehow conceived that the 



14 CHARLES LAMB 

noise which I heard was occasioned by birds up in the 
air, or that it was made by the angels, whom (so 
ignorant I was till that time) I had always considered 
to be a sort of birds : for before this time I was totally 
ignorant of anything like religion, it being a principle 
of my father, that young heads should not be told 
too many things at once, for fear they should get 
confused ideas, and no clear notions of anything. We 
had always indeed so far observed Sundays, that no 
work was done upon that day, and upon that day I 
wore my best muslin frock, and was not allowed to 
sing, or to be noisy ; but I never understood why 
that day should differ from any other. We had no 
public meetings : indeed, the few straggling houses 
which were near us, would have furnished but a slender 
congregation ; and the loneliness of the place we 
lived in, instead of making us more sociable, and 
drawing us closer together, as my mother used to say 
it ought to have done, seemed to have the effect of 
making us more distant and averse to society than 
other people. One or two good neighbours indeed we 
had, but not in numbers to give me an idea of church 
attendance. 

But now my mother thought it high time to give 
me some clearer instruction in the main points of 
religion, and my father came readily in to her plan. 
I w r as now permitted to sit up half an hour later on a 
Sunday evening, that I might hear a portion of Scrip- 
ture read, which had always been their custom, though 
by reason of my tender age, and my father's opinion 
on the impropriety of children being taught too young, 
I had never till now been an auditor. I was taught 
my prayers, and those things which you, ladies, I 
doubt not, had the benefit of being instructed in at 
a much earlier age. 

The clearer my notions on these points became, they 
only made me more passionately long for the privilege 
of joining in that social service, from which it seemed 



FIRST GOING TO CHURCH 15 

that we alone, of all the inhabitants of the land, were 
debarred ; and when the wind was in that point which 
favoured the sound of the distant bells of St. Mary's 
to be heard over the great moor which skirted our house, 
I have stood out in the air to catch the sounds which I 
almost devoured ; and the tears have come in my eyes, 
when sometimes they seemed to speak to me almost in 
articulate sounds, to eome to church, and because of the 
great moor which was between me and them I could not 
come ; and the too tender apprehensions of these things 
have filled me with a religious melancholy. With 
thoughts like these I entered into my seventh year. 

And now the time has come, when the great moor 
was no longer to separate me from the object of my 
wishes and of my curiosity. My father having some 
money left him by the will of a deceased relation, we 
ventured to set up a sort of a carriage no very superb 
one, I assure you, ladies ; but in that part of the world 
it was looked upon with some envy by our poorer neigh- 
bours. The first party of pleasure which my father 
proposed to take in it, was to the village where I had so 
often wished to go, and my mother and I were to accom- 
pany him ; for it was very fit, niy father observed, that 
little Susan should go to church, and learn how to 
behave herself, for we might some time or other have 
occasion to live in London, and not always be confined 
to that out of the way spot. 

It was on a Sunday morning that we set out, my little 
heart beating with almost breathless expectation. The 
day Avas fine, and the roads as good as they ever are 
in those parts. I was so happy and so proud. I was 
lost hi dreams of what I was going to see. At length 
the tall steeple of St. Mary's church came in view. It 
Avas pointed out to me by my father, as the place from 
which that music had come which I had heard over the 
moor, and had fancied to be angels singing. I was 
wound up to the highest pitch of delight at having 
visibly presented to ine the spot from which had pro- 



16 CHARLES LAMB 

ceeded that unknown friendly music ; and when it 
began to peal, just as we approached the village, it 
seemed to speak, Susan is come, as plainly as it used to 
invite me to come, when I heard it over the moor. I 
pass over our alighting at the house of a relation, and 
all that passed till I went with my father and mother 
to church. 

St. Mary's church is a great church for such a small 
village as it stands in. My father said it was a cathe- 
dral, and that it had once belonged to a monastery, 
but the monks were all gone. Over the door there was 
stone work, representing saints and bishops, and here 
and there, along the sides of the church, there were 
figures of men's heads, made in a strange, grotesque 
way : I have since seen the same sort of figures in the 
round tower of the Temple church in London. My 
father said they were very improper ornaments for such 
a place, and so' I now think them ; but it seems the 
people who built these great churches in old times, gave 
themselves more liberties than they do now ; and I 
remember that when I first saw them, and before my 
father had made this observation, though they were 
so ugly and out of shape, and some of them seemed to 
be grinning and distorting their features with pain or 
with laughter, yet being placed upon a church, to which 
I had come with such serious thoughts, I could not help 
thinking they had some serious meaning ; and I looked 
at them with wonder, but without any temptation to 
laugh. I somehow fancied they were the representa- 
tion of wicked people set up as a warning. 

When we got into the church, the service was not 
begun, and my father kindly took me round, to show 
me the monuments and everything else remarkable. 
I remember seeing one of a venerable figure, which my 
father said had been a judge. The figure was kneeling 
as if it was alive, before a sort of desk, with a book, I 
suppose the Bible, lying on it. I somehow fancied the 
figure had a sort of life in it, it seemed so natural, or 



FIRST GOING TO CHURCH 17 

that the dead judge that it was done for, said his prayers 
at it still. This was a silly notion, but I was very 
young, and had passed my little life in a remote place, 
where I had never seen anything nor knew anything ; 
and the awe which I felt at first being in a church, took 
from me all power but that of wondering. I did not 
reason about anything, I was too young. Now I 
understand why monuments are put up for the dead, 
and why the figures which are upon them, are described 
as doing the actions which they did in their life-times, 
and that they are a sort of pictures set up for our in- 
struction. But all was new and surprising to me on 
that day ; the long windows with little panes, the 
pillars, the pews made of oak, the little hassocks for 
the people to kneel on, the form of the pulpit with the 
sounding-board over it, gracefully carved in flower 
work. To you, who have lived all your lives in 
populous places, and have been taken to church from 
the earliest time you can remember, my admiration of 
these things must appear strangely ignorant. But I 
was a lonely young creature, that had been brought up 
in remote places, where there was neither church nor 
church-going inhabitants. I have since lived in great 
towns, and seen the ways of churches and of worship, 
and I am old enough now to distinguish between what 
is essential in religion, and what is merely formal or 
ornamental. 

When my father had done pointing out to me the 
things most worthy of notice about the church, the 
service was almost ready to begin ; the parishioners had 
most of them entered, and taken their seats ; and we 
were shown into a pew where my mother was already 
seated. Soon after the clergyman entered, and the organ 
began to play what is called the voluntary. I had never 
seen so many people assembled before. At first I 
thought that all eyes were upon me, and that because I 
was a stranger. I was terribly ashamed and confused at 
first ; but my mother helped me to find out the places 



18 CHARLES LAMB 

in the Prayer-book, and being busy about that, took 
off some of my painful apprehensions. I was no 
stranger to the order of the service, having often read 
in a Prayer-book at home ; but my thoughts being 
confused, it puzzled me a little to find out the responses 
and other things, which I thought I knew so well ; but 
I went through it tolerably well. One thing which has 
often troubled me since, is, that I am afraid I was too 
full of myself, and of thinking how happy I was, and 
what a privilege it was for one that was so young to 
join in the service with so many grown people, so that 
I did not attend enough to the instruction which I might 
have received. I remember, I foolishly applied every- 
thing that was said to myself, so as it could mean no- 
body but myself, I was so full of my own thoughts. 
All that assembly of people seemed to me as if they 
were come together only to show me the way of a 
church. Not but I received some very affecting im- 
pressions from some things which I heard that day ; 
but the standing up and the sitting down of the people ; 
the organ ; the singing ; the way of all these things 
took up more of my attention than was proper ; or I 
thought it did. I believe I behaved better and was 
more serious when I went a second time, and a third 
time ; for now we went as a regular thing every Sunday, 
and continued to do so, till, by a still further change 
for the better in my father's circumstances, we removed 
to London. Oh ! it was a happy day for me my first 
going to St. Mary's church : before that day I used to 
feel like a little outcast in the wilderness, like one that 
did not belong to the world of Christian people. I 
have never felt like a little outcast since. But I never 
can hear the sweet noise of bells, that I don't think of 
the angels singing, and what poor but pretty thoughts 
I had of angels in my uninstructed solitude. 



NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

18041864 
THE MAYPOLE, OF MERRY MOUNT 

There is an admirable foundation-* for a philosophic 
romance, in the curious history of the early settlement of 
Mount Wollaston, or Merry Mount. In the slight sketch 
here attempted, the facts, recorded on the grave pages of 
our New England annalists, have wrought themselves, 
almost spontaneously, into a sort of allegory. The masques, 
mummeries, and festive customs, described in the text, 
are in accordance with the manners of the age. Authority 
on these points may be found in Strutt's Book of English 
Sports and Pastimes. 

BRIGHT were the days at Merry Mount, when the 
Maypole was the banner -staff of that gay colony ! 
They who reared it, should their banner be triumphant, 
were to pour sunshine over New England's rugged hills, 
and scatter flower-seeds throughout the soil. Jollity 
and gloom were contending for an empire. Midsummer 
eve had come, bringing deep verdure to the forest, and 
roses in her lap, of a more vivid hue than the tender 
buds of Spring. But May, or her mirthful spirit, dwelt 
all the year round at Merry Mount, sporting with the 
Summer months, and revelling with Autumn, and bask- 
ing in the glow of Winter's fireside. Through a world 
of toil and care she flitted with a dreamlike smile, and 
came hither to find a home among the lightsome hearts 
of Merry Mount. 

Never had the Maypole been so gaily decked as at 

sunset on Midsummer eve. This venerated emblem 

was a pine-tree, which had preserved the slender grace 

of youth, while it equalled the loftiest height of the 

19 



20 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

old wood monarchs. From its top streamed a silken 
banner, coloured like the rainbow. Down nearly to the 
ground the pole was dressed with birchen boughs, and 
others of the liveliest green, and some with silvery 
leaves, fastened by ribands that fluttered in fantastic 
knots of twenty different colours, but no sad ones. 
Garden flowers, and blossoms of the wilderness, 
laughed gladly forth amid the verdure, so fresh and 
dewy, that they must have grown by magic on that 
happy pine-tree. Where this green and flowery 
splendour ter minuted, the shaft of the Maypole was 
stained with the seven brilliant hues of the banner at 
its top. On the lowest green bough hung an abundant 
wreath of roses, some that had been gathered in the 
sunniest spots of the forest, and others, oi still richer 
blush, which the colonists had reared from English seed. 
O people of the Golden Age, the chief of your husbandry 
was to raise flowers ! 

But what was the wild throng that stood hand in 
hand about the Maypole ? It could not be, that the 
fauns and nymphs, when driven from their classic 
groves and homes of ancient fable, had sought refuge, 
as all the persecuted did, in the fresh woods of the West. 
These were Gothic monsters, though perhaps of Grecian 
ancestry. On the shoulders of a comely youth, uprose 
the head and branching antlers of a stag ; a second, 
human in all other points, had the grim visage of a 
wolf ; a third, still with the trunk and limbs of a mortal 
man, showed the beard and horns of a venerable he- 
goat. There was the likeness of a bear erect, brute in 
all but his hind legs, which were adorned. with pink silk 
stockings. And here again, almost as wondrous, stood 
a real bear of the dark forest, lending each of his fore- 
paws to the grasp of a human hand, and as ready for 
the dance as any in that circle. His inferior nature 
rose halfway to meet his companions as they stooped. 
Other faces wore the similitude of man or woman, but 
distorted or extravagant, with red noses pendulous 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 21 

before their mouths, which seemed of awful depth, and 
stretched from ear to ear in an eternal fit of laughter. 
Here might be seen the Salvage Man, well known in 
heraldry, hairy as a baboon, and girdled with green 
leaves. By his side, a nobler figure, but still a counter- 
feit, appeared an Indian hunter, with feathery crest 
and wampum belt. Many of this strange company 
wore fools-caps, and had little bells appended to their 
garments, tinkling with a silvery sound, responsive to 
the inaudible music of their gleesome spirits. Some 
youths and maidens were of soberer garb, yet well 
maintained their places in the irregular throng, by the 
expression of wild revelry upon their features. Such 
were the colonists of Merry Mount, as they stood in the 
broad smile of sunset, round their venerated Maypole. 

Had a wanderer, bewildered in the melancholy forest, 
heard their mirth, and stolen a half -affrighted glance, he 
might have fancied them the crew of Comus, some 
already transformed to brutes, some midway between 
man and beast, and the others rioting in the flow of 
tipsy jollity that foreran the change. But a band of 
Puritans, who watched the scene, invisible themselves, 
compared the masques to those devils and ruined souls 
with whom their superstition peopled the black wilder- 
ness. 

Within the ring of monsters, appeared the two airiest 
forms that had ever trodden on any more solid footing 
than a purple and golden cloud. One w r as a youth in 
glistening apparel, with a scarf of the rainbow pattern 
crosswise on his breast. His right hand held a gilded 
staff, the ensign of high dignity among the revellers, 
and his left grasped the slender fingers of a fair maiden, 
not less gaily decorated than himself. Bright roses 
glowed in contrast with the dark and glossy curls of 
each, and were scattered round their feet, or had sprung 
up spontaneously there. Behind this lightsome couple, 
so close to the Maypole that its boughs shaded his 
jovial face, stood the figure of an English priest, 



22 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

canonically dressed, yet decked with flowers, in 
heathen fashion, and wearing a chaplet of the native 
vine leaves. By the riot of his rolling eye, and the 
pagan decorations of his holy garb, he seemed the 
wildest monster there, and the very Comus of the crew. 

' Votaries of the Maypole,' ' cried the flower-decked 
priest, ' merrily, all day long, have the woods echoed 
to your mirth. But be this your merriest hour, my 
hearts ! Lo, here stand the Lord and Lady of the 
May, whom I, a clerk of Oxford, and high priest of 
Merry Mount, am presently to join in holy matrimony. 
Up with your nimble spirits, ye morris -dancers, green 
men, and glee-maidens, bears and wolves, and horned 
gentlemen ! Come ; a chorus now, rich with the old 
mirth of Merry England, and the wilder glee of this 
fresh forest ; and then a dance, to show the youthful 
pair what life is made of, and how airily they should 
go through it ! All ye that love the Maypole, lend 
your voices to the nuptial song of the Lord and Lady 
of the May ! ' 

This wedlock was more serious than most affairs of 
Merry Mount, where jest and delusion, trick and 
fantasy, kept up a continual carnival. The Lord and 
Lady of the May, though their titles must be laid down 
at sunset, were really and truly to be partners for the 
dance of life, beginning the measure that same bright 
eve. The wreath of roses, that hung from the lowest 
green bough of the Maypole, had been twined for them, 
and would be thrown over both their heads, in symbol 
of their flowery union. When the priest had spoken, 
therefore, a riotous uproar burst from the rout of 
monstrous figures. 

' Begin you the stave, reverend Sir,' cried they all ; 
* and never did the woods ring to such a merry peal 
as we of the Maypole shall send up ! ' 

Immediately a prelude of pipe, cithern, and viol, 
touched with practised minstrelsy, began to play from 
a neighbouring thicket, in such a mirthful cadence, 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 23 

that the boughs of the Maypole quivered to the sound. 
But the May Lord, he of the gilded staff, chancing to 
look into his Lady's eyes, was wonder-struck at the 
almost pensive glance that met his own. 

' Edith, sweet Lady of the May,' whispered he, re- 
proachfully, ' is yon wreath of roses a garland to hang 
above our graves, that you look so sad ? Oh, Edith, 
this is our golden time ! Tarnish it not by any pensive 
shadow of the mind ; for it may be, that nothing of 
futurity will be brighter than the mere remembrance 
of what is now passing.' 

1 That was the very thought that saddened me ! 
How came it in your mind too ? ' said Edith, in a 
still lower tone than he ; for it was high treason to be 
sad at Merry Mount. * Therefore do I sigh amid this 
festive music. And besides, dear Edgar, I struggle 
as with a dream, and fancy that these shapes of our 
jovial friends are visionary, and their mirth unreal, 
and that we are no true Lord and Lady of the May. 
What is the mystery in my heart ? ' 

Just then, as if a spell had loosened them, down 
came a shower of withering rose leaves from the May- 
pole. Alas for the young lovers ! No sooner had 
their hearts glowed with real passion, than they were 
sensible of something vague and unsubstantial in their 
former pleasures, and felt a dreary presentiment of 
inevitable change. From the moment that they truly 
loved, they had subjected themselves to earth's doom 
of care and sorrow, and troubled joy, and had no more 
a home at Merry Mount. That was Edith's mystery. 
Now leave we the priest to marry them, and the 
masquers to sport round the Maypole, till the last 
sunbeam be withdrawn from its summit, and the 
shadows of the forest mingle gloomily in the dance. 
Meanwhile, we may discover who these gay people 
were. 

Two hundred years ago, and more, the old world 
and its inhabitants became mutually weary of each 



24 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

other. Men voyaged by thousands to the West ; some 
to barter glass beads, and such like jewels, for the 
furs of the Indian hunter ; some to conquer virgin 
empires ; and one stern band to pray. But none of 
these motives had much weight with the colonists of 
Merry Mount. Their leaders were men who had 
sported so long with life, that when Thought and 
Wisdom came, even these unwelcome guests were led 
astray by the crowd of vanities which they should 
have put to flight. Erring Thought and perverted 
Wisdom were made to put on masques, and play the 
fool. The men of whom we speak, after losing the 
heart's fresh gaiety, imagined a wild philosophy of 
pleasure, and came hither to act out their latest day- 
dream. They gathered followers from all that giddy 
tribe, whose whole life is like the festal days of soberer 
men. In their train were minstrels, not unknown in 
London streets; wandering players, whose theatres 
had been the halls of noblemen ; mummers, rope- 
dancers, and mountebanks, who would long be missed 
at wakes, church ales, and fairs ; in a word, mirth - 
makers of every sort, such as abounded in that age, 
but now began to be discountenanced by the rapid 
growth of Puritanism. Light had their footsteps been 
on land, and as lightly they came across the sea. Many 
had been maddened by their previous troubles into a 
gay despair ; others were as madly gay in the flush of 
youth, like the May Lord and his Lady ; but what- 
ever might be the quality of their mirth, old and young 
were gay at Merry Mount. The young deemed them- 
selves happy. The elder spirits, if they knew that 
mirth was but the counterfeit of happiness, yet fol- 
lowed the false shadow wilfully, because at least her 
garments glittered brightest. Sworn triflers of a life- 
time, they would not venture among the sober truths 
of life, not even to be truly blest. 

All the hereditary pastimes of Old England were 
transplanted hither. The King of Christmas was duly 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 25 

crowned, and the Lord of Misrule bore potent sway. 
On the eve of Saint John, they felled whole acres of 
the forest to make bonfires, and danced by the blaze 
all night, crowned with garlands, and throwing flowers 
into the flame. At harvest-time, though their -crop 
was of the smallest, they made an image with the 
sheaves of Indian corn, and wreathed it with autumnal 
garlands, and bore it home triumphantly. But what 
chiefly characterized the colonists of Merry Mount, 
was their veneration for the Maypole. It has made 
their true history a poet's tale. Spring decked the 
hallowed emblem with young blossoms and fresh green 
boughs ; Summer brought roses of the deepest blush, 
and the perfected foliage of the forest ; Autumn en- 
riched it with that red and yellow gorgeousness, which 
converts each wildwood leaf into a painted flower ; 
and Winter silvered it with sleet, and hung it round 
with icicles, till it flashed in the cold sunshine, itself a 
frozen sunbeam. Thus each alternate season did 
homage to the Maypole, and paid it a tribute of its 
own richest splendour. Its votaries danced round it, 
once, at least, in every month ; sometimes they called 
it their religion, or their altar ; but always, it was the 
banner-staff of Merry Mount. 

Unfortunately, there were men in the new world, of 
a sterner faith than these Maypole worshippers. Not 
far from Merry Mount was a settlement of Puritans, 
most dismal wretches, who said their prayers before 
daylight, and then wrought in the forest or the corn- 
field, till evening made it prayer-time again. Their 
weapons were always at hand to shoot down the 
straggling savage. When they met in conclave, it 
was never to keep up the old English mirth, but to 
hear sermons three hours long, or to proclaim bounties 
on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians. Their 
festivals were fast-days, and their chief pastime the 
singing of psalms. Woe to the youth or maiden who 
did but dream of a dance ! The selectman nodded to 



26 NATHANIEL HAWTHOKNE 

the constable ; and there sat the light-heeled reprobate 
in the stocks ; or if he danced, it was round the 
whipping-post, which might be termed the Puritan 
Maypole. 

A party of these grim Puritans, toiling through the 
difficult woods, each with a horseload of iron armour 
to burden his footsteps, would sometimes draw near 
the sunny precincts of Merry Mount. There were 
the silken colonists, sporting round their Maypole ; 
perhaps teaching a bear to dance, or striving to com- 
municate their mirth to the grave Indian ; or masquer- 
ading in the skins of deer and wolves, which they had 
hunted for that especial purpose. Often, the whole 
colony were playing at blindman's buff, magistrates 
and all with their eyes bandaged, except a single 
scape- goat, whom the blinded sinners pursued by the 
tinkling of the bella at his garments. Once, it is said, 
they were seen following a flower-decked corpse, with 
merriment and festive music, to his grave. But did 
the dead man laugh ? In their quietest times, they 
sang ballads and told tales, for the edification of their 
pious visitors ; or perplexed them with juggling 
tricks ; or grinned at them through horse-collars ; 
and when sport itself grew wearisome, they made 
game of their own stupidity, and began a yawning 
match. At the very least of these enormities, the 
men of iron shook then- heads and frowned so darkly, 
that the revellers looked up, imagining that a momen- 
tary cloud had overcast the sunshine, which was to be 
perpetual there. On the other hand, the Puritans 
affirmed, that, when a psalm was pealing from their 
place of worship, the echo which the forest sent them 
back seemed often like the chorus of a jolly catch, 
closing with a roar of laughter. Who but the fiend, 
and his bond-slaves, the crew of Merry Mount, had 
thus disturbed them ? In due time, a feud arose, 
stern and bitter on one side, and as serious on the 
other as anything could be among such light spirits 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 27 

as had sworn allegiance to the Maypole. The future 
complexion of New England was involved in this 
important quarrel. Should the grizzly saints estab- 
lish their jurisdiction over the gay sinners, then would 
their spirits darken all the clime, and make it a land 
of clouded visages, of hard toil, of sermon and psalm 
for ever. But should the banner-staff of Merry Mount 
be fortunate, sunshine would break upon the hills, 
and flowers would beautify the forest, and late pos- 
terity do homage to the Maypole. 

After these authentic passages from history, we 
return to the nuptials of the Lord and Lady of the 
May. Alas ! we have delayed too long, and must 
darken our tale too suddenly. As we glance again 
at the Maypole, a solitary sunbeam is fading from the 
summit, and leaves only a faint, golden tinge, blended 
with the hues of the rainbow banner. Even that dim 
light is now withdrawn, relinquishing the whole 
domain of Merry Mount to the evening gloom, which 
has rushed so instantaneously from the black sur- 
rounding woods. But some of these black shadows 
have Crushed forth in human shape. 

Yes, with the setting sun, the last day of mirth had 
passed from Merry Mount. The ring of gay masquers 
was disordered and broken ; the stag lowered his 
antlers in dismay ; the wolf grew weaker than a 
lamb ; the bells of the morris-dancers tinkled with 
tremulous affright. The Puritans had played a char- 
acteristic part in the Maypole mummeries. Their 
darksome figures were intermixed with the wild 
shapes of their foes, and made the scene a picture of 
the moment, when waking thoughts start up amid 
the scattered fantasies of a dream. The leader of the 
hostile party stood in the centre of the circle, while the 
rout of monsters cowered around him, like evil spirits 
in the presence of a dread magician. No fantastic 
foolery could look him in the face. So stern was the 
energy of his aspect, that the whole man, visage, 



28 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

frame, and soul, seemed wrought of iron, gifted with 
life and thought, yet all of one substance with his 
headpiece and breastplate. It was the Puritan of 
Puritans ; it was Endicott himself ! 

' Stand off, priest of Baal ! ' said he, with a grim 
frown, and laying no reverent hand upon the surplice. 
4 1 know thee, Blackstone ! Thou art the man, who 
couldst not abide the rule even of thine own corrupted 
church, and hast come hither to preach iniquity, and 
to give example of it in thy life. But now shall it be 
seen that the Lord hath sanctified this wilderness for 
his peculiar people. Woe unto them that would 
defile it ! And first, for this flower-decked abomina- 
tion, the altar of thy worship ! ' 

And with his keen sword Endicott assaulted the 
hallowed Maypole. Nor long did it resist his arm. It 
groaned with a dismal sound ; it showered leaves and 
rosebuds upon the remorseless enthusiast ; and finally, 
with all its green boughs, and ribands, and flowers, 
symbolic of departed pleasures, down fell the banner- 
staff of Merry Mount. As it sank, tradition says, the 
evening sky grew darker, and the woods threw forth 
a more sombre shadow. 

' There,' cried Endicott, looking triumphantly on 
his work, ' there lies the only Maypole in New England ! 
The thought is strong within me, that, by its fall, is 
shadowed forth the fate of light and idle mirth-makers, 
amongst us and our posterity. Amen, saith John 
Endicott.' 

4 Amen ! ' echoed his followers. 

But the votaries of the Maypole gave one groan for 
their idol. At the sound, the Puritan leader glanced 
at the crew of Comus, each a figure of broad mirth, 
yet, at this moment, strangely expressive of sorrow 
and dismay, 

' Valiant captain,' quoth Peter Palfrey, the Ancient 
of the band, * what order shall be taken with the 
prisoners ? ' 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 29 

' I thought not to repent me of cutting down a May- 
pole,' replied Endicott, * yet now I could find in my 
heart to plant it again, and give each of these bestial 
pagans one other dance round their idol. It would 
have served rarely for a whipping-post ! ' 

' But there are pine-trees enow,' suggested the 
lieutenant. 

' True, good Ancient,' said the leader. * Wherefore, 
bind the heathen crew, and bestow on them a small 
matter of stripes apiece, as earnest of our future justice. 
Set some of the rogues in the stocks to rest themselves, 
so soon as Providence shall bring us to one of our own 
well-ordered settlements, where such accommodations 
may be found. Further penalties, such as branding 
and cropping of ears, shall be thought of hereafter.' 

* How many stripes for the priest ? ' inquired 
Ancient Palfrey. 

' None as yet,' answered Endicott, bending his iron 
frown upon the culprit. ' It must be for the Great 
and General Court to determine, whether stripes and 
long imprisonment, and other grievous penalty, may 
atone for his transgressions. Let him look to himself ! 
For such as violate our civil order, it may be permitted 
us to show mercy. But woe to the wretch that 
troubleth our religion ! ' 

' And this dancing bear,' resumed the officer. 
' Must he share the stripes of his fellows ? ' 

' Shoot him through the head ! ' said the energetic 
Puritan. ' I suspect witchcraft in the beast.' 

' Here be a couple of shining ones,' continued Peter 
Palfrey, pointing his weapon at the Lord and Lady of 
the May. ' They seem to be of high station among 
these misdoers. Methinks their dignity will not be 
fitted with less than a double share of stripes.' 

Endicott rested on his sword, and closely surveyed 
the dress and aspect of the hapless pair. There they 
stood, pale, downcast, and apprehensive. Yet there 
was an air of mutual support, and of pure affection, 



30 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

seeking aid and giving it, that showed them to be man 
and wife, with the sanction of a priest upon their love. 
The youth, in the peril of the moment, had dropped 
his gilded staff, and thrown his arm about the Lady 
of the May, who leaned against his breast, too lightly 
to burden him, but with weight enough to express that 
their destinies were linked together, for good or evil. 
They looked first at each other, and then into the grim 
captain's face. There they stood, in the first hour 
of wedlock, while the idle pleasures, of which their 
companions were the emblems, had given place to the 
sternest cares of life, personified by the dark Puritans. 
But never had their youthful beauty seemed so pure 
and high, as when its glow was chastened by adversity. 

' Youth,' said Endicott, ' ye stand in an evil case, 
thou and thy maiden wife. Make ready presently ; 
for I am minded that ye shall both have a token to 
remember your wedding-day ! ' 

* Stern man,' cried the May Lord, ' how can I move 
thee ? Were the means at hand, I would resist to the 
death. Being powerless, I entreat ! Do with me as 
thou wilt, but let Edith go untouched ! ' 

' Not so,* replied the immitigable zealot. ' We are 
not wont to show an idle courtesy to that sex, which 
requireth the stricter discipline. What sayest thou, 
maid ? Shall thy silken bridegroom suffer thy share 
of the penalty, besides his own ? ' 

1 Be it death,' said Edith, ' and lay it all on me ! ' 

Truly, as Endicott had said, the poor lovers stood 
in a woeful case. Their foes were triumphant, their 
friends captive and abased, their home desolate, the 
benighted wilderness around them, and a rigorous 
destiny, in the shape of the Puritan leader, their only 
guide. Yet the deepening twilight could not alto- 
gether conceal that the iron man was softened ; he 
smiled at the fair spectacle of early love ; he almost 
sighed for the inevitable blight of early hopes. 

' The troubles of life have come hastily on this young 



THE MAYPOLE OF MERRY MOUNT 31 

couple,' observed Endicott. ' We will see how they 
comport themselves under their present trials, ere we 
burden them with greater. If, among the spoil, there 
be any garments of a more decent fashion, let them 
be put upon this May Lord and his Lady, instead of 
their glistening vanities. Look to it, some of you.' 

' And shall not the youth's hair be cut ? ' asked 
Peter Palfrey, looking with abhorrence at the love- 
lock and long glossy curls of the young man. 

' Crop it forthwith, and that in the true pumpkin- 
shell fashion,' answered the captain. ' Then bring 
them along with us, but more gently than their fellows. 
There be qualities in the youth, which may make him 
valiant to fight, and sober to toil, and pious to pray ; 
and in the maiden, that may fit her to become a mother 
in our Israel, bringing up babes in better nurture than 
her own hath been. Nor think ye, young ones, that 
they are the happiest, even in our lifetime of a moment, 
who misspend it in dancing round a Maypole ! ' 

And Endicott, the severest Puritan of all who laid 
the rock foundation of New England, lifted the wreath 
of roses from the ruin of the Maypole, and threw it, 
with his own gauntleted hand, over the heads of the 
Lord and Lady of the May. It was a deed of pro- 
phecy. -As the moral gloom of the world overpower* 
all systematic gaiety, even so was their home of wild 
mirth made desolate amid the sad forest. They re- 
turned to it no more. But, as their flowery garland 
was wreathed of the brightest roses that had grown 
there, so, in the tie that united them, were intertwined 
all the purest and best of their early joys. They went 
heavenward, supporting each other along the difficult 
path which it was their lot to tread, and never wasted 
one regretful thought on the vanities of Merry Mount. 



32 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 



THE GREY CHAMPION 

THERE was once a time when New England groaned 
under the actual pressure of heavier wrongs than those 
threatened ones which brought on the Revolution. 
James II, the bigoted successor of Charles the Volup- 
tuous, had annulled the charters of all the colonies, 
and sent a harsh and unprincipled soldier to take away 
our liberties and endanger our religion. The adminis- 
tration of Sir Edmund Andros lacked scarcely a single 
characteristic of tyranny : a Governor and Council, 
holding office from the King, and wholly independent 
of the country ; laws made and taxes levied without 
concurrence of the people, immediate or by their 
representatives ; the rights of private citizens violated, 
and the titles of all landed property declared void ; 
the voice of complaint stifled by restrictions on the 
press ; and, finally, disaffection overawed by the first 
band of mercenary troops that ever marched on our 
free soil. For two years our ancestors were kept in 
sullen submission, by that filial love which had invari- 
ably secured their allegiance to the mother country, 
whether its head chanced to be a Parliament, Pro- 
tector, or Popish Monarch. Till these evil times, 
however, such allegiance had been merely nominal, 
and the colonists had ruled themselves, enjoying far 
more freedom than is even yet the privilege of the 
native subjects of Great Britain. 

At length, a rumour reached our shores that the 
Prince of Orange had ventured on an enterprise, the 
success of which would be the triumph of civil and 
religious rights and the salvation of New England. It 
was but a doubtful whisper ; it might be false, or the 
attempt might fail ; and, in either case, the man that 
stirred against King James would lose his head. Still 
the intelligence produced a marked effect. The people 
smiled mysteriously in the streets, and threw bold 



THE GREY CHAMPION 33 

glances at their oppressors ; while, far and wide, there 
was a subdued and silent agitation, as if the slightest 
signal would rouse the whole land from its sluggish 
despondency. Aware of their danger, the rulers re- 
solved to avert it by an imposing display of strength, 
and perhaps to confirm their despotism by yet harsher 
measures. One afternoon in April, 1689, Sir Edmund 
Andros and his favourite councillors, being warm with 
wine, assembled the red-coats of the Governor's 
Guard, and made their appearance in the streets of 
Boston. The sun was near setting when the march 
commenced. 

The roll of the drum, at that unquiet crisis, seemed 
to go through the streets, less as the martial music of 
the soldiers, than as a muster call to the inhabitants 
themselves. A multitude, by various avenues, assem- 
bled in King Street, which was destined to be the 
scene, nearly a century afterwards, of another encounter 
between the troops of Britain and a people struggling 
against her tyranny. Though more than sixty years 
had elapsed since the Pilgrims came, this crowd of 
their descendants still showed the strong and sombre 
features of their character, perhaps more strikingly in 
such a stern emergency than on happier occasions. 
There were the sober garb, the general severity of 
mien, the gloomy but undismayed expression, the 
scriptural forms of speech, and the confidence in 
Heaven's blessing on a righteous cause, which would 
have marked a band of the original Puritans, when 
threatened by some peril of the wilderness. Indeed, 
it was not yet time for the old spirit to be extinct ; 
since there were men in the street, that day, who 
had worshipped there beneath the trees, before a house 
was reared to the God for whom they had become 
exiles. Old soldiers of the Parliament were here, too, 
smiling grimly at the thought, that their aged arms 
might strike another blow against the house of Stuart. 
Here, also, were the veterans of King Philip's war, 

228 O 



34 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

who had burned villages and slaughtered young and 
old, with pious fierceness, while the godly souls through- 
out the land were helping them with prayer. Several 
ministers were scattered among the crowd, which, 
unlike all other mobs, regarded them with such rever- 
ence, as if there were sanctity in their very garments. 
These holy men exerted their influence to quiet the 
people, but not to disperse them. Meantime, the 
purpose of the Governor, in disturbing the peace of 
the town, at a period when the slightest commotion 
might throw the country into a ferment, was almost 
the universal subject of inquiry, and variously ex- 
plained. 

4 Satan will strike his master-stroke presently,' cried 
some, l because he knoweth that his time is short. All 
our godly pastors are to be dragged to prison ! We 
shall see them at a Smithfield fire in King Street ! ' 

Hereupon the people of each parish gathered closer 
round their minister, who looked calmly upwards and 
assumed a more apostolic dignity, as well befitted a 
candidate for the highest honour of his profession, the 
crown of martyrdom. It was actually fancied, at that 
period, that New England might have a John Rogers 
of her own, to take the place of that worthy in the 
Primer. 

4 The Pope of Rome has given orders for a new St. 
Bartholomew ! ' cried others. * We are to be massacred, 
man and male child ! ' 

Neither was this rumour wholly discredited, although 
the wiser class believed the Governor's object somewhat 
less atrocious. His predecessor under the old charter, 
Bradstreet, a venerable companion of the first settlers, 
was known to be in town. There were grounds for 
conjecturing that Sir Edmund Andros intended, at 
once, to strike terror, by a parade of military force, 
and to confound the opposite faction, by possessing 
himself of their chief. 

* Stand firm for the old charter, Governor ! ' shouted 



THE GREY CHAMPION 35 

the crowd, seizing upon the idea. ' The good old 
Governor Bradstreet ! ' 

While this cry was at the loudest, the people were 
surprised by the well-known figure of Governor Brad- 
street himself, a patriarch of nearly ninety, who 
appeared on the elevated steps of a door, and, with 
characteristic mildness, besought them to submit to 
the constituted authorities. 

' My children,' concluded this venerable person, ' do 
nothing rashly. Cry not aloud, but pray for the wel- 
fare of New England, and expect patiently what the 
Lord will do in this matter ! ' 

The event was soon to be decided. All this time, 
the roll of the drum had been approaching through 
Cornhill, louder and deeper, till with reverberations 
from house to house, and the regular tramp of martial 
footsteps, it burst into the street. A double rank of 
soldiers made their appearance, occupying the whole 
breadth of the passage, with shouldered matchlocks, 
and matches burning, so as to present a row of fires in 
the dusk. Their steady march was like the progress 
of a machine, that would roll irresistibly over every- 
thing in its way. Next, moving slowly, with a con- 
fused clatter of hoofs on the pavement, rode a party 
of mounted gentlemen, the central figure being Sir 
Edmund Andros, elderly, but erect and soldier-like. 
Those arpund him were his favourite councillors, and 
the bitterest foes of New England. At his right hand 
rode Edward Randolph, our arch-enemy, that * blasted 
wretch,' as Cotton Mather calls him, who achieved the 
downfall of our ancient government, and was followed 
with a sensible curse, through life and to his grave. 
On the other side was Bullivant, scattering jests and 
mockery as he rode along. Dudley came behind, with 
a downcast look, dreading, as well he might, to meet 
the indignant gaze of the people, who beheld him, their 
only countryman by birth, among the oppressors of 
his native land. The captain of a frigate in the har- 



36 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

bour, and two or three civil officers under the Crown, 
were also there. But the figure which most attracted 
the public eye, and stirred up the deepest feeling, was 
the Episcopal clergyman of King's Chapel, riding 
haughtily among the magistrates in his priestly vest- 
ments, the fitting representative of prelacy and perse- 
cution, the union of church and state, and all those 
abominations which had driven the Puritans to the 
wilderness. Another guard of soldiers, in double rank, 
brought up the rear. 

The whole scene was a picture of the condition of 
New England, and its moral, the deformity of any 
government that does not grow out of the nature of 
things and the character of the people. On one side 
the religious multitude, with their sad visages and 
dark attire, and on the other, the group of despotic 
rulers, with the High Churchman in the midst, and 
here and there a crucifix at their bosoms, all mag- 
nificently clad, flushed with wine, proud of unjust 
authority, and scoffing at the universal groan. And 
the mercenary soldiers, waiting but the word to deluge 
the street with blood, showed the only means by which 
obedience could be secured. 

' Lord of Hosts,' cried a voice among the crowd, 
' provide a Champion for Thy people ! ' 

This ejaculation was loudly uttered, and served as 
a herald's cry, to introduce a remarkable personage. 
The crowd had rolled back, and were now huddled 
together nearly at the extremity of the street, while 
the soldiers had advanced no more than a third of its 
length. The intervening space was empty a paved 
solitude, between lofty edifices, which threw almost a 
twilight shadow over it. Suddenly, there was seen 
the figure of an ancient man, who seemed to have 
emerged from among the people, and was walking by 
himself along the centre of the street, to confront the 
armed band. He wore the old Puritan dress, a dark 
cloak and a steeple-crowned hat, in the fashion of at 



THE GREY CHAMPION 37 

least fifty years before, with a heavy sword upon his 
thigh, but a staff in his hand to assist the tremulous 
gait of age. 

When at some distance from the multitude, the old 
man turned slowly round, displaying a face of antique 
majesty, rendered doubly venerable by the hoary 
beard that descended on his breast. He made a ges- 
ture at once of encouragement and warning, then 
turned again, and resumed his way. 

' Who is this grey patriarch ? ' asked the young 
men of their sires. 

' Who is this venerable brother ? ' asked the old 
men among themselves. 

But none could make reply. The fathers of the 
people, those of fourscore years and upwards, were 
disturbed, deeming it strange that they should forget 
one of such evident authority, whom they must have 
known in their early days, the associates of Winthrop, 
and all the old councillors, giving laws, and making 
prayers, and leading them against the savage. The 
elderly men ought to have remembered him, too, with 
locks as grey in their youth, as their own were now. 
And the young ! How could he have passed so utterly 
from their memories that hoary sire, the relic of 
long-departed times, whose awful benediction had 
surely been bestowed on their uncovered heads in 
childhood ? 

' Whence did he come ? What is his purpose ? Who 
can this old man be ? ' whispered the wondering crowd. 

Meanwhile, the venerable stranger, staff in hand, 
was pursuing his solitary walk along the centre of the 
street. As he drew near the advancing soldiers, and 
as the roll of the drum came full upon his ear, the old 
man raised himself to a loftier mien, while the de- 
crepitude of age seemed to fall from his shoulders, 
leaving him in grey but unbroken dignity. Now, he 
marched onward with a warrior's step, keeping time to 
the military music, Thus the aged form advanced on 



38 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

one side, and the whole parade of soldiers and magis- 
trates on the other, till, when scarcely twenty yards 
remained between, the old man grasped his staff by the 
middle, and held it before him like a leader's truncheon. 

' Stand ! ' cried he. 

The eye, the face, and attitude of command ; the 
solemn, yet warlike peal of that voice, fit either to rule 
a host in the battle field or be raised to God in prayer, 
were irresistible. At the old man's word and out- 
stretched arm, the roll of the drum was hushed at once, 
and the advancing line stood still. A tremulous 
enthusiasm seized upon the multitude. That stately 
form, combining the leader and the saint, so grey, so 
dimly seen, in such an ancient garb, could only belong 
to some old champion of the righteous cause, whom 
the oppressor's drum had summoned from his grave. 
They raised a shout of awe and exultation, and looked 
for the deliverance of New England. 

The Governor, and the gentlemen of his party, per- 
ceiving themselves brought to an unexpected stand, 
rode hastily forward, as if they would have pressed 
their snorting and affrighted horses right against the 
hoary apparition. He, however, blenched not a step, 
but glancing his severe eye round the group, which 
half encompassed him, at last bent it sternly on Sir 
Edmund Andros. One would have thought that the 
dark old man was chief ruler there, and that the 
Governor and Council, with soldiers at their back, 
representing the whole power and authority of the 
Crown, had no alternative but obedience. 

' What does this old fellow here ? ' cried Edward 
Randolph, fiercely. ' On, Sir Edmund ! Bid the 
soldiers forward, and give the dotard the same choice 
that you give all his countrymen to stand aside or 
be trampled on ! ' 

4 Nay, nay, let us show respect to the good grand - 
sire,' said Bullivant, laughing. ' See you not, he is 
some old round-headed dignitary, who hath lain asleep 



THE GREY CHAMPION 39 

these thirty years, and knows nothing of the change 
of times ? Doubtless, he thinks to put us down with 
a proclamation in Old Noll's name ! ' 

' Are you mad, old man ? ' demanded Sir Edmund 
Andros, in loud and harsh tones. ' How dare you 
stay the march of King James's Governor ? ' 

' I have stayed the march of a King himself, ere 
now,' replied the grey figure, with stern composure. 
' I am here, Sir Governor, because the cry of an 
oppressed people hath disturbed me in my secret 
place ; and beseeching this favour earnestly of the 
Lord, it was vouchsafed me to appear once again on 
earth, in the good old cause of His saints. And what 
speak ye of James ? There is no longer a Popish 
tyrant on the throne of England, and by to-morrow 
noon, his name shall be a byword in this very street, 
where ye would make it a word of terror. Back, thou 
that wast a Governor, back ! With this night thy 
power is ended to-morrow the prison ! back lest I 
foretell the scaffold ! ' 

The people had been drawing nearer and nearer, 
and drinking in the words of their champion, who 
spoke in accents long disused, like one unaccustomed 
to converse, except with the dead of many years ago. 
But his voice stirred their souls. They confronted 
the soldiers, not wholly without arms, and ready to 
convert the very stones of the street into deadly 
weapons. Sir Edmund Andros looked at the old man ; 
then he cast his hard and cruel eye over the multitude, 
and beheld them burning with that lurid wrath, so 
difficult to kindle or to quench ; and again he fixed his 
gaze on the aged form, which stood obscurely in an 
open space, where neither friend nor foe had thrust 
himself. What were his thoughts, he uttered no word 
which might discover. But whether the oppressor 
were overawed by the Grey Champion's look, or per- 
ceived his peril in the threatening attitude of the people, 
it is certain that he gave back, and ordered his soldiers 



40 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

to commence a slow and guarded retreat. Before 
another sunset, the Governor, and all that rode so 
proudly with him, were prisoners, and long ere it was 
known that James had abdicated, King William was 
proclaimed throughout New England. 

But where was the Grey Champion ? Some re- 
ported, that when the troops had gone from King 
Street, and the people were thronging tumultuously in 
their rear, Bradstreet, the aged Governor, was seen to 
embrace a form more aged than his own. Others 
soberly affirmed, that while they marvelled at the 
venerable grandeur of his aspect, the old man had 
faded from their eyes, melting slowly into the hues of 
twilight, till, where he stood, there was an empty space. 
But all agreed that the hoary shape was gone. The 
men of that generation watched for his reappearance, 
in sunshine and in twilight, but never saw him more, 
nor knew when his funeral passed, nor where his grave- 
stone was. 

And who was the Grey Champion ? Perhaps his 
name might be found in the records of that stern Court 
of Justice which passed a sentence, too mighty for the 
age, but glorious in all after times, for its humbling 
lesson to the monarch and its high example to the 
subject. I have heard, that whenever the descendants 
of the Puritans are to show the spirit of their sires, 
the old man appears again. When eighty years had 
passed, he walked once more in King Street. . Five 
years later, in the twilight of an April morning, he 
stood on the green, beside the meeting-house, at 
Lexington, where now the obelisk of granite, with a 
slab of slate inlaid, commemorates the first fallen of 
the Revolution. And when our fathers were toiling 
at the breastwork on Bunker's Hill, all through that 
night the old warrior walked his rounds. Long, long 
may it be ere he comes again ! His hour is one of 
darkness, and adversity, and peril. But should 
domestic tyranny oppress us, or the invader's step 



THE GREY CHAMPION 41 

pollute our soil, still may the Grey Champion come ; 
for he is the type of New England's hereditary spirit : 
and his shadowy march, on the eve of danger, must 
ever be the pledge that New England's sons will 
vindicate their ancestry. 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 

ONE of the few incidents of Indian warfare naturally 
Susceptible of the moonlight of romance was that 
expedition Undertaken for the defence of the frontiers 
in the ydar 1725, which resulted in the well-remembered 
* Lo veil's Fight.' Imagination, by casting certain cir- 
cumstances judicially into the shade, may see much to 
admire in the heroism of a little band who gave battle 
to twice their number in the heart of the enemy's 
country. The open bravery displayed by both parties 
was in accordance with civilized ideas of valour ; and 
chivalry itself might not blush to record the deeds of 
one or two individuals. The battle, though so fatal 
to those who fought, was not unfortunate in its conse- 
quences to the country ; for it broke the strength of a 
tribe and conduced to the peace which subsisted during 
several ensuing years. History and tradition are un- 
. usually minute in their memorials of this affair ; and 
the captain of a scouting party of frontier men has 
acquired as actual a military renown as many a vic- 
torious leader of thousands. Some of the incidents 
contained in the following pages will be recognized, 
notwithstanding the substitution of fictitious names, 
by such as have heard, from old men's lips, the fate of 
the few combatants who were in a condition to retreat 
after ' Lovell's Fight.' 

The early sunbeams hovered cheerfully upon the 
tree-tops, beneath which two weary and wounded men 
had stretched their limbs the night before. Their bed 



42 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

of withered oak-leaves was strewn upon the small 
level space, at the foot of a rock, situated near the 
summit of one of the gentle swells by which the face 
of the country is there diversified. The mass of granite, 
rearing its smooth, flat surface fifteen or twenty feet 
above their heads, was not unlike a gigantic grave- 
stone, upon which the veins seemed to form an in- 
scription in forgotten characters. On a tract of several 
acres around this rock, oaks and other hard-wood 
trees had supplied the place of the pines, which were 
the usual growth of the land ; and a young and vigorous 
sapling stood close beside the travellers. 

The severe wound of the elder man had probably 
deprived him of sleep ; for, so soon as the first ray of 
sunshine rested on the top of the highest tree, he reared 
himself painfully from his recumbent posture and sat 
erect. The deep lines of his countenance and the 
scattered grey of his hair marked him as past the 
middle age ; but his muscular frame would, but for 
the effects of his wound, have been as capable of sus- 
taining fatigue as in the early vigour of life. Languor 
and exhaustion now sat upon his haggard features ; 
and the despairing glance which he sent forward 
through the depths of the forest proved his own con- 
viction that his pilgrimage was at an end. He next 
turned his eyes to the companion who reclined by his 
side. The youth for he had scarcely Attained the 
years of manhood lay, with his head upon his arm, 
in the embrace of an unquiet sleep, which a thrill of 
pain from his wounds seemed each moment on the 
point of breaking. His right hand grasped a musket ; 
and, to judge from the violent action of his features, 
his slumbers were bringing back a vision of the conflict 
of which he was one of the few survivors. A shout 
deep and loud in his dreaming fancy found its way 
in an imperfect murmur to his lips ; and, starting even 
at the slight sound of his own voice, he suddenly 
awoke. The first act of reviving recollection was to 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 43 

make anxious inquiries respecting the condition of his 
wounded fellow traveller. The latter shook his head. 

' Reuben, my boy,' said he, ' this rock beneath 
which we sit will serve for an old hunter's gravestone. 
There is many and many a long mile of howling wilder- 
ness before us yet ; nor would it avail me anything 
if the smoke of my own chimney were but on the 
other side of that swell of land.* The Indian bullet 
was deadlier than I thought.' 

' You are weary with our three days' travel,' replied 
the youth, ' and a little longer rest will recruit you. 
Sit you here while I search the woods for the herbs 
and roots that must be our sustenance ; and, having 
eaten, you shall lean on me, and we will turn our faces 
homeward. I doubt not that, with my help, you can 
attain to some* one of the frontier garrisons.' 

' There is not two days' life in me, Reuben,' said the 
other, calmly, ' and I will no longer burden you with 
my useless body, when you can scarcely support your 
own. Your wounds are deep and your strength is 
failing fast ; yet, if you hasten onward alone, you may 
be preserved. For me there is no hope, and I will 
await death here.' 

' If it must be so, I will remain and watch by you,' 
said Reuben, resolutely. 

' No, my son, no,' rejoined his companion. ' Let 
the wish of a dying man have weight with you ; give 
me one grasp of your hand, and get you hence. 
Think you that my last moments will be eased by the 
thought that I leave you to die a more lingering 
death ? I have loved you like a father, Reuben ; 
and at a time like this I should have something of a 
father's authority. I charge you to be gone, that I 
may die in peace.' 

' And because you have been a father to me, should 
I therefore leave you to perish and to lie unburied 
in the wilderness ? ' exclaimed the youth. ' No ; if 
your end be in truth approaching, I will watch bv 



44 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

you and receive your parting words. I will dig a 
grave here by the rock, in which, if my weakness 
overcome me, we will rest together ; or, if Heaven 
gives me strength, I will seek my way home.' 

' In the cities and wherever men dwell,' replied the 
other, ' they bury their dead in the earth ; they hide 
them from the sight of the living ; but here, where 
no step may pass perhaps for a hundred years, where- 
fore should I not rest beneath the open sky, covered 
only by the oak-leaves when the autumn winds shall 
strew them ? And for a monument, here is this grey 
rock, on which my dying hand shall carve the name 
of Roger Marvin ; and the traveller in days to come 
will know that here sleeps a hunter and a warrior. 
Tarry not, then, for a folly like this, but hasten away, 
if not for your own sake, for hers who will else be 
desolate.' 

Malvin spoke the last few words in a faltering voice, 
and their effect upon his companion was strongly 
visible. 

They reminded him that there were other and less 
questionable duties than that of sharing the fate of 
a man whom his death could not benefit. Nor can it 
be affirmed that no selfish feeling strove to enter 
Reuben's heart, though the consciousness made him 
more earnestly resist his companion's entreaties. 

* How terrible ta wait the slow approach of death 
in this solitude ! ' exclaimed he. ' A brave man does 
not shrink in the battle ; and, when friends stand 
round the bed, even women may die composedly ; 
but here ' 

' I shall not shrink even here, Reuben Bourne,' in- 
terrupted Malvin. ' I am a man of no weak heart ; 
and, if I were, there is a surer support than that of 
earthly friends. You are young, and life is dear to 
you. Your last moments will need comfort far more 
than mine ; and when you have laid me in the earth, 
and are alone, and night is settling on the forest, 



ROGER MALVIN' S BURIAL 45 

you will feel all the bitterness of the death that may 
now be escaped. But I will urge no selfish motive 
to your generous nature. Leave me for my sake, that, 
having said a prayer for your safety, I may have space 
to settle my account undisturbed by worldly sorrows.' 

' And your daughter, how shall I dare to meet her 
eye ? ' exclaimed Reuben. ' She will ask the fate of 
her father, whose life I vowed to defend with my own. 
Must I tell her that he travelled three days' march 
with me from the field of battle, and that then I left 
him to perish in the wilderness ? Were it not better 
to lie down and die by your side than to return safe 
and say this to Dorcas ? ' 

* Tell my daughter,' said Roger Malvin, ' that, though 
yourself sore wounded, and weak, and weary, you led 
my tottering footsteps many a mile, and left me only 
at my earnest entreaty, because I would not have your 
blood upon my soul. Tell her that through pain and 
danger you were faithful, and that, if your lifeblood 
could have saved me, it would have flowed to its last 
drop ; and tell her that you will be something dearer 
than a father, and that my blessing is with you both, 
and that my dying eyes can see a long and pleasant path 
in which you will journey together.' 

As Malvin spoke he almost raised himself from the 
ground, and the energy of his concluding words seemed 
to fill the wild and lonely forest with a vision of happi- 
ness; but, when he sank exhausted upon his bed of oak- 
leaves, the light which had kindled in Reuben's eye was 
quenched. He felt as if it were both sin and folly to 
think of happiness at* such a moment. His companion 
watched his changing countenance, and sought with 
generous art to wile him to his own good. 

' Perhaps I deceive myself in regard to the time J 
have to live,' he resumed. ' It may be that, with 
speedy assistance, I might recover of my wound. The 
foremost fugitives must, ere this, have carried tidings of 
our fatal battle to the frontiers, and parties will be out 



46 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

to succour those in like condition with ourselves. 
Should you meet one of these and guide them hither, 
who can tell but that I may sit by my own fireside 
again ? ' 

A mournful smile strayed across the features of the 
dying man as he insinuated that unfounded hope ; 
which, however, was not without its effect on Reuben. 
No merely selfish motive, nor even the desolate con- 
dition of Dorcas could have induced him to desert his 
companion at such a moment but his wishes seized 
upon the thought that Mai vin's life might be preserved, 
and his sanguine nature heightened almost to certainty 
the remote possibility of procuring human aid. 

; Surely there is reason, weighty reason, to hope that 
friends are not far distant,' he said, half aloud. ' There 
fled one coward, unwounded, in the beginning of the 
fight, and most probably he made good speed. Every 
true man on the frontier would shoulder his musket at 
the news ; and, though no party may range so far into 
the woods as this, I shall perhaps encounter them in one 
day's march. Counsel me faithfully,' he added, turning 
to Malvin, in distrust of his own motives. ' Were your 
situation mine, would you desert me while life re- 
mained ? ' 

' It is now twenty years,' replied Roger Malvin, sigh- 
ing, however, as he secretly acknowledged the wide 
dissimilarity between the two cases, ' it is now twenty 
years since I escaped with one dear friend from Indian 
captivity near Montreal. We journeyed many days 
through the woods till at length, overcome with hunger 
and weariness, my friend lay down and besought me to 
leave him ; for he knew that, if I remained, we both 
must perish ; and, with but little hope of obtaining 
succour, I heaped a pillow of dry leaves beneath his 
head and hastened on.' 

4 And did 'you return in time to save him ? ' asked 
Reuben, hanging on Malvin' s words as if they were to be 
prophetic of his own success. 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 47 

' I did,' answered the other. ' I came upon the camp 
of a hunting party before sunset of the same day. I 
guided them to the spot where my comrade was expect- 
ing death ; and he is now a hale and hearty man upon 
his own farm, far, within the frontiers, while I lie 
wounded here in the depths of the wilderness.' 

This example, powerful in effecting Reuben's de- 
cision, was aided, unconsciously to himself, by the 
hidden strength of many another motive. Roger Mai- 
vin perceived that the victory was nearly won. 

' Now, go, my son, and Heaven prosper you ! ' he 
said. ' Turn not back with your friends when you 
meet them, lest your wounds and weariness overcome 
you ; but send hitherward two or three, that may be 
spared, to search for me ; and believe me, Reuben, my 
heart will be lighter with every step you take towards 
home.' Yet there was, perhaps, a change both in his 
countenance and voice as he spoke thus ; for, after all, 
it was a ghastly fate to be left expiring in the wilderness. 
Reuben Bourne, but half convinced that he was act- 
ing rightly, at length raised himself from the ground and 
prepared himself for his departure. And first, though 
contrary to Mai vin' s wishes, he collected a stock of roots 
and herbs, which had been their only food during the 
last two days. This useless supply he placed Avithin 
reach of the dying man, for whom, also, he swept to- 
gether a fresh bed of dry oak leaves. Then climbing to 
the summit of the rock, which on one side was rough 
and broken, he bent the oak sapling downward, and 
bound his handkerchief to the topmost branch. This 
precaution was not unnecessary to direct any who 
might come in search of Malvin ; for every part of the 
rock, except its broad, smooth front, was concealed at a 
little distance by the dense undergrowth of the forest. 
The handkerchief had been the bandage of a wound 
upon Reuben's arm ; and, as he bound it to the tree, he 
vowed by the blood that stained it that he would return, 
either to save his companion's life, or to lay his body in 



48 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNS 

the grave. He then descended, and stood, with down- 
cast eyes, to receive Roger Malvin's parting words. 

The experience of the latter suggested much and 
minute advice respecting the youth's journey through 
the trackless forest. Upon this subject he spoke with 
calm earnestness, as if he were sending Reuben to the 
battle or the chase while he himself remained secure at 
home, and not as if the human countenance that was 
about to leave him were the last he would ever behold. 
But his firmness was shaken before he concluded. 

' Carry my blessing to Dorcas, and say that my last 
prayer shall be for her and you. Bid her to have no 
hard thoughts because you left me here,' Reuben's 
heart smote him, ' for that your life would not have 
weighed with you if its sacrifice could have done me 
good. She will marry you after she has mourned a 
little while for her father ; and Heaven grant you long 
and happy days, and may your children's children stand 
round your deatttbed ! And, Reuben,' he added, as the 
weakness of mortality made its way at last, ' return, 
when your wounds are healed and your weariness 
refreshed, return to this wild rock, and lay my bones 
in the grave, and say a prayer over them.' 

An almost superstitious regard, arising perhaps from 
the customs of the Indians, whose war was with the 
dead as well as the living, was paid by the frontier 
inhabitants to the rites of sepulture ; and there are 
many instances of the sacrifice of life in the attempt to 
bury those who had fallen by the ' sword of the wilder- 
ness.' Reuben, therefore, felt the full importance of 
the promise which he most solemnly made to return 
and perform Roger Malvin's obsequies. It was remark- 
able that the latter, speaking his whole heart in his 
parting words, no longer endeavoured to persuade the 
youth that even the speediest succour might avail to the 
preservation of his life. Reuben was internally con- 
vinced that he should see Malvin's living face no more. 
His generous nature would fain have delayed him, at 



&OGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 49 

whatever risk, till the dying scene were past ; but the 
desire of existence and the hope of happiness had 
strengthened in his heart, and he was unable to resist 
them. 

' It is enough,' said Roger Malvin, having listened to 
Reuben's promise. ' Go, and God speed you ! ' 

The youth pressed his hand in silence, turned, and 
was departing. His slow and faltering steps, however, 
had borne him but a little way before Malvin's voice 
recalled him. 

' Reuben, Reuben,' said he, faintly ; and Reuben 
returned and knelt down by the dying man. 

' Raise me, and let me lean against the rock,' was his 
last request. ' My face will be turned towards home, 
and I shall see you a moment longer as you pass among 
the trees.' 

Reuben, having made the desired alteration in his 
companion's posture, again began his solitary 
pilgrimage. He walked more hastily at first than was 
consistent with his strength ; for a sort of guilty feeling, 
which sometimes torments men in their most justifiable 
acts, caused him to seek concealment from Malvin's 
eyes ; but after he had trodden far upon the rustling 
forest leaves he crept back, impelled by a wild and pain- 
ful curiosity, and, sheltered by the earthy roots of an 
uptorn tree, gazed.earnestly at the desolate man. The 
morning sun was unclouded, and the trees and shrubs 
imbibed the sweet air of the month of May ; yet there 
seemed a gloom on Nature's face, as if she sympathized 
with mortal pain and sorrow. Roger Malvin's hands 
were uplifted in a fervent prayer, some of the words of 
which stole through the stillness of the woods and 
entered Reuben's heart, torturing it with an unutter- 
able pang. They were the broken accents of a petition 
for his own happiness and that of Dorcas ; and, as the 
youth listened, conscience, or something in its similitude, 
pleaded strongly with him to return and lie down again 
by the rock. He felt how hard was the doom of the 



50 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

kind and generous being whom he had deserted in his 
extremity. Death would come like the slow approach 
of a corpse, stealing gradually towards him through the 
forest, and showing its ghastly and motionless features 
from behind a nearer and yet a nearer tree. But such 
must have been Reuben's own fate had he tarried 
another sunset ; and who shall impute blame to him if 
he shrank from so useless a sacrifice ? As he gave a 
parting look, a breeze waved the little banner upon the 
sapling oak and reminded Reuben of his vow. 

Many circumstances contributed to retard the 
wounded traveller in his way to the frontiers. On the 
second day the clouds, gathering densely over the sky, 
precluded the possibility of regulating his course by the 
position of the sun ; and he knew not but that every 
effort of his almost exhausted strength was removing 
him farther from the home he sought. His scanty 
sustenance was supplied by the berries and other spon- 
taneous products of the forest. Herds of deer, it is true, 
sometimes bounded past him, and partridges frequently 
whirred up before his footsteps ; but his ammunition 
had been expended in the fight, and he had no means of 
slaying them. His wounds, irritated by the constant 
exertion in which lay the only hope of life, wore away 
his strength and at intervals confused his reason. But, 
even in the wanderings of intellect, Reuben's young 
heart clung strongly to existence ; " and it was only 
through absolute incapacity of motion that he at last 
sank down beneath a tree, compelled there to await 
death. 

In this situation he was discovered by a party who, 
upon the first intelligence of the fight, had been dis- 
patched to the relief of the survivors. They conveyed 
him to the nearest settlement, which chanced to be that 
of his own residence. 

Dorcas", in the simplicity of the olden time, watched 
by the bedside of her wounded lover and administered 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 51 

all those comforts that are in the sole gift of woman's 
heart and hand. During several days Reuben's recol- 
lection strayed drowsily among the perils and hard- 
ships through which he had passed, and he was in- 
capable of returning definite answers to the inquiries 
with which many were eager to harass him. - No 
authentic particulars of the battle had yet been circu- 
lated ; nor could mothers, wives, and children tell 
whether their loved ones were detained by captivity 
or by the stronger chain of death. Dorcas nourished 
her apprehensions in silence till one afternoon when 
Reuben awoke from an unquiet sleep and seemed to 
recognize her more perfectly than at any previous time. 
She saw that his intellect had become composed, and she 
could no longer restrain her filial anxiety. 

' My father, Reuben ? ' she began ; but the change in 
her lover's countenance made her pause. 

The youth shrank as if with a bitter pain, and the 
blood gushed vividly into his wan and hollow cheeks. 
His first impulse was to cover his face ; but, apparently 
with a desperate effort, he half raised himself and spoke 
vehemently, defending himself against an imaginary 
accusation. 

4 Your father was sore wounded in the battle, Dorcas ; 
and he bade me not burden myself with him, but only 
to lead him to the lakeside, that he might quench his 
thirst and die. But I would not desert the old man in 
his extremity, and, though bleeding myself, I supported 
him ; I gave him half my strength, and led him away 
with me. For three days we journeyed on together, 
and your father was sustained beyond my hopes ; but, 
awaking at sunrise on the fourth daj% I found him faint 
and exhausted ; he was unable to proceed ; his life had 
ebbed away fast ; and 

' He died ! ' exclaimed Dorcas, faintly. 

Reuben felt it impossible to acknowledge that his 
selfish love of life had hurried him away before her 
father's fate was decided. He spoke not ; he only 



52 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

bowed his head ; and, between shame and exhaustion, 
sank back and hid his face in the pillow. Dorcas wept 
when her fears were thus confirmed ; but the shock, as 
it had been long anticipated, was on that account the 
less violent. 

' You dug a grave for my poor father in the wilder- 
ness, Reuben ? ' was the question by which her filial 
piety manifested itself. 

' My hands were weak ; but I did what I could,' 
replied the youth in a smothered tone. ' There stands 
a noble tombstone above his head ; and I would to 
Heaven I slept as soundly as he ! ' 

Dorcas, perceiving the wildness of his latter words, 
inquired no further at the time ; but her heart found 
ease in the thought that Roger Malvin had not lacked 
such funeral rites as it was possible to bestow. The 
tale of Reuben's courage and fidelity lost nothing 
when she communicated it to her friends ; and the 
poor youth, tottering from his sick chamber to breathe 
the sunny air, experienced from every tongue the 
miserable and humiliating torture of unmerited praise. 
All acknowledged that he might worthily demand the 
hand of the fair maiden to whose father he had been 
' faithful unto death ' ; and, as my tale is not of love, 
it shall suffice to say that in the space of a few months 
Reuben became the husband of Dorcas Malvin. During 
the marriage ceremony the bride was covered with 
blushes ; but the bridegroom's face was pale. 

There was now in the breast of Reuben Bourne an 
incommunicable thought something which he w r as to 
conceal most heedfulty from her whom he most loved 
and trusted. He regretted, deeply and bitterly, the 
moral cowardice that had restrained his words when he 
was about to disclose the truth to Dorcas ; but pride, 
the fear of losing her affection, the dread of universal 
scorn, forbade him to rectify this falsehood. He felt 
that for leaving Roger Malvin he deserved no censure. 
His presence, the gratuitous sacrifice of his own life, 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 53 

would have added only another and a needless agony 
to the last moments of the dying man ; but conceal- 
ment had imparted to a justifiable act much of the 
secret effect of guilt ; and Reuben, while reason told * 
him that he had done right, experienced in no small 
degree the mental horrors which punish the perpe- 
trator of undiscovered crime. By a certain association 
of ideas, he at times almost imagined himself a mur- 
derer. For years, also, a thought would occasionally 
recur, which, though he perceived all its folly and 
extravagance, he had not power to banish from his 
mind. It was a haunting and torturing fancy that 
his father-in-law was yet sitting at the foot of the 
rock, on the withered forest leaves, alive, and awaiting 
his pledged assistance. These mental deceptions, 
however, came and went, nor did he ever mistake them 
for realities ; but in the calmest and clearest moods of 
his mind he was conscious that he had a deep vow 
unredeemed, and that an unburied corpse was calling 
to him out of the wilderness. Yet such was the con- 
sequence of his prevarication that he could not obey 
the call. It was now too late to require the assistance 
of Roger Malvin's friends in performing his long- 
deferred sepulture ; and superstitious fears, of which 
none were more susceptible than the people of the 
outward settlements, forbade Reuben to go alone. 
Neither did he know where in the pathless and illimit- 
able forest to seek that smooth and lettered rock at the 
base of which the body lay ; his remembrance of 
every portion of his travel thence was indistinct, and 
the latter part had left no impression upon his mind. 
There was, however, a continual impulse, a voice 
audible only to himself, commanding him to go forth 
and redeem his vow ; and he had a strange impression 
that, were he to make the trial, he would be led 
straight to Malvin's bones. But year after year that 
summons, unheard but felt, was disobeyed. His one 
secret thought became like a chain binding down his 



54 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

spirit and like a serpent gnawing into his heart ; and 
he was transformed into a sad and downcast yet 
irritable man. 

In the course of a few years after their marriage 
changes began to be visible in the external prosperity 
of Reuben and Dorcas. The only riches of the former 
had been his stout heart and strong arm ; but the 
latter, her father's sole heiress, had made her husband 
master of a farm, under older cultivation, larger, and 
better stocked than most of the frontier establishments. 
Reuben Bourne, however, was a neglectful husband- 
man ; and, while the lands of the other settlers became 
annually more fruitful, his deteriorated in the same 
proportion. The discouragements to agriculture were 
greatly lessened by the cessation of Indian war, during 
which men held the plough in one hand and the musket 
in the other, and were fortunate if the products of 
their dangerous labour were not destroyed, either in 
the field or in the barn, by the savage enemy. But 
Reuben did not profit by the altered condition of the 
country ; nor can it be denied that his intervals of 
industrious attention to his affairs were but scantily 
rewarded with success. The irritability by which ho 
had recently become distinguished was another cause 
of his declining prosperity, as it occasioned frequent 
quarrels in his unavoidable intercourse with the neigh- 
bouring settlers. The results of these were innumer- 
able lawsuits ; for the people of New England, in the 
earliest stages and wildest circumstances of the country, 
adopted, whenever attainable, the legal mode of decid- 
ing their differences. To be brief, the world did not 
go well with Reuben Bourne ; and, though not till 
many years after his marriage, he was finally a ruined 
man, with but one remaining expedient against the 
evil fate that had pursued him. He was to throw 
sunlight into some deep recess of the forest, and seek 
subsistence from the virgin bosom of the wilderness. 

The only child of Reuben and Dorcas was a son, 



PvOGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 55 

now arrived at the age of fifteen years, beautiful in 
youth, and giving promise of a glorious manhood. 
He was peculiarly qualified for, and already began to 
excel in, the wild accomplishments of frontier life. 
His foot was fleet, his aim true, his apprehension quick, 
his heart glad and high ; and all who anticipated the 
return of Indian war spoke of Cyrus Bourne as a future 
leader in the land. The boy was loved by his father 
with a deep and silent strength, as if whatever was 
good and happy in his own nature had been transferred 
to his child, carrying his affections with it. Even 
Dorcas, though loving and beloved, was far less dear 
to him ; for Reuben's secret thoughts and insulated 
emotions had gradually made him a selfish man, and 
he could no longer love deeply except where he saw or 
imagined some reflection or likeness of his own mind. 
In Cyrus he recognized what he had himself been in 
other days ; and at intervals he seemed to partake of 
the boy's spirit and to be revived with a fresh and 
happy life. Reuben was accompanied by his son in 
the expedition, for the purpose of selecting a tract of 
land and felling and burning the timber, which neces- 
sarily preceded the removal of the household gods. 
Two months of autumn were thus occupied ; after 
which Reuben Bourne and his young hunter returned 
to spend their last winter in the settlements. 

It was early in the month of May that the little 
family snapped asunder whatever tendrils of affections 
had clung to inanimate objects, and bade farewell to 
the few who, in the blight of fortune, called themselves 
their friends. The sadness of the parting moment 
had, to each of the pilgrims, its peculiar alleviations. 
Reuben, a moody man, and misanthropic because un- 
happy, strode onward with his usual stern brow and 
downcast eye, feeling few regrets and disdaining to 
acknowledge any. Dorcas, while she wept abundantly 
over the broken ties by which her simple and affec- 



56 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

tionate nature had bound itself to everything, felt 
that the inhabitants of her inmost heart moved on 
with her, and that all else would be supplied wherever 
she might go. And the boy dashed one teardrop 
from his eye, and thought of the adventurous plea- 
sures of the untrodden forest. 

Oh ! who, in the enthusiasm of a daydream, has not 
wished that he were a wanderer in a world of summer 
wilderness, with one fair and gentle being hanging 
lightly on his arm ? In youth his free and exulting 
step would know no barrier but the rolling ocean or 
the snow-topped mountains ; calmer manhood would 
choose a home where Nature had strewn a double 1 
Wealth in the Vale of some transparent stream ; and 
when hoary age, after long, long years of that pure 
life, stole on and found him there, it would find him the 
father of a race, the patriarch of a people, the founder 
of a mighty nation yet to be. When death, like the 
sweet sleep which we welcome after a day of happi- 
ness, came over him, his far descendants would mourn 
over the venerated dust. Enveloped by tradition in 
mysterious attributes, the men of future generations 
would call him godlike ; and remote posterity would 
see him standing dimly glorious, far up the valley of 
a hundred centuries. 

The tangled and gloomy forest through which the 
personages of my tale were wandering differed widely 
from the dreamer's land of fantasy ; yet there was 
something in their way of life that Nature asserted as 
her own, and the gnawing cares which went with them 
from the world were all that now obstructed their 
happiness. One stout and shaggy steed, the bearer 
of all their wealth, did not shrink from the added weight 
of Dorcas ; although her hardy breeding sustained 
her, during the latter part of each day's journey, by 
her husband's side. Reuben and his son, their muskets 
on their shoulders and their axes slung behind them, 
kept an unwearied pace, each watching with a hunter'3 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 57 

eye for the game that supplied their food. When 
hunger bade, they halted and prepared their meal on 
the bank of some unpolluted forest brook, which, as 
they knelt down with thirsty lips to drink, murmured 
a sweet unwillingness, like a maiden at love's first kiss. 
They slept beneath a hut of branches, and awoke at 
peep of light refreshed for the toils of another day. 
Dorcas and the boy went on joyously, and even 
Reuben's spirit shone at intervals with an outward 
gladness ; but inwardly there was a cold, cold sorrow, 
which he compared to the snow-drifts lying deep in 
the glens and hollows of the rivulets while the leaves 
were brightly green above. 

Cyrus Bourne was sufficiently skilled in the travel of 
the woods to observe that his father did not adhere to 
the course they had pursued in their expedition of the 
preceding autumn. They were now keeping farther 
to the north, striking out more directly from the settle- 
ments, and into a region of which savage beasts and 
savage men were as yet the sole possessors. The boy 
sometimes hinted his opinions upon the subject, and 
Reuben listened attentively, and once or twice altered 
the direction of "their march in accordance with his 
eon's counsel ; but, having so done, he seemed ill at 
ease. His quick and wandering glances were sent 
forward, ^apparently in search of enemies lurking 
behind the tree-trunks ; and, seeing nothing there, he 
would cast his eyes backwards as if in fear of some 
pursuer. Cyrus, perceiving that his father gradually 
resumed the old direction, forbore to interfere ; nor, 
though something began to weigh upon his heart, did 
his adventurous nature permit him to regret the in- 
creased length and the mystery of their way. 

On the afternoon of the fifth day they halted, and 
made their simple encampment nearly an hour before 
sunset. The face of the country, for the last few 
miles, had been diversified by swells of land resembling 
huge waves of a petrified sea ; and in one of the corre- 



58 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

Hponding hollows, a wild and romantic spot, had the 
family reared their hut and kindled their fire. There 
is something chilling, and yet heart- warming, in the 
thought of these three, united by strong bands of love 
and insulated from all that breathe beside. The dark 
and gloomy pines looked down upon them, and, as the 
wind swept through their tops, a pitying sound was 
heard in the forest ; or did those old trees groan in 
fear that men were come to lay the axe to their roots 
at last ? Reuben and his son, while Dorcas made 
ready their meal, proposed to wander out in search of 
game, of which that day's march had afforded no 
supply. The boy, promising not to quit the vicinity 
of the encampment, bounded off with a step as light 
and elastic as that of the deer he hoped to slay ; while 
his father, feeling a transient happiness as he gazed 
after him, was about to pursue an opposite direction. 
Dorcas, in the meanwhile, had seated herself near 
their fire of fallen branches, upon the mossgrown and 
mouldering trunk of a tree uprooted years before. 
Her employment, diversified by an occasional glance 
at the pot, now beginning to simmer over the blaze, 
was the perusal of the current year's Massachusetts 
Almanac, which, with the exception of an old black- 
letter Bible, comprised all the literary wealth of the 
family. None pay a greater regard to arbitrary divi- 
sions of time than those who are excluded from society ; 
and Dorcas mentipned, as if the information were of 
importance, that it was now the twelfth of May. Her 
husband started. 

' The twelfth of May ! I should remember it well,' 
muttered he, while many thoughts occasioned a 
momentary confusion in his mind. ' Where am I ? 
Whither am I wandering ? Where d^d I leave 
him?' 

Dorcas, too well accustomed to her husband's way- 
ward moods to note any peculiarity of demeanour, 
now laid aside the almanac and addressed him in that 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 59 

mournful tone which the tender-hearted appropriate 
to griefs long cold and dead. 

' It was near this time of the month, eighteen years 
ago, that my poor father left this world for a better. 
He had a kind arm to hold his head and a kind voice 
to cheer him, Reuben, in his last moments ; and the 
thought of the faithful care you took of him has com- 
forted me many a time since. Oh, death would have 
been awful to a solitary man in a wild place like this ! ' 

' Pray Heaven, Dorcas,' said Reuben, in a broken 
voice, ' pray Heaven that neither of us three dies 
solitary and lies unburied in this howling wilderness ! ' 
And he hastened away, leaving her to watch the fire 
beneath the gloomy pines. 

Reuben Bourne's rapid pace gradually slackened as 
the pang, unintentionally inflicted by the words of 
Dorcas, became less acute. Many strange reflections, 
however, thronged upon him ; and, straying onward 
rather like a sleep-walker than a hunter, it was attri- 
butable to no care of his own that his devious course 
kept him in the vicinity of the encampment. His 
steps were imperceptibly led almost in a circle ; nor 
did he observe that he was on the verge of a tract of 
land heavily timbered, but not with pine-trees. The 
place of the latter was here supplied by oaks and other 
of 1 he 'larder woods ; and around their roots clustered 
a dense and bushy undergrowth, leaving, however, 
barren spaces between the trees, thick-strewn with 
withered leaves. Whenever the rustling of the branches 
or the creaking of the trunks made a sound, as if the 
forest were waking from slumber, Reuben instinctively 
raised the musket that rested on his arm, and cast a 
quick, sharp glance on every side ; but, convinced by 
a partial observation that no animal was near, he 
would again give himself up to his thoughts. He was 
musing on the strange influence that had led him 
away from his premeditated course and so far into the 
depths of the wilderness. Unable to penetrate to the 



60 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

secret place of his soul where his motives lay hidden, 
he believed that a supernatural voice had called him 
onward and that a supernatural p&wer had obstructed 
his retreat. He trusted that it was Heaven's intent 
to afford him an opportunity of expiating his sin ; 
he hoped that he might find the bones so long nnburied ; 
and that, having laid the earth over them, peace 
would throw its sunlight into the sepulchre of his 
heart. From these thoughts he was aroused by a 
rustling in the forest at some distance from the spot 
to which he had wandered. Perceiving the motion 
of some object behind a thick veil of undergrowth, he 
fired, with the. instinct of a hunter and the aim of a 
practised marksman. A low moan, which told his 
success, and by which even animals can express their 
dying agony, was unheeded by Reuben Bourne. What 
were the recollections now breaking upon him ? 

The thicket into which Reuben had fired was near 
the summit of a swell of land, and was clustered around 
the base of a rock, which, in the shape and smoothness 
of one of its surfaces, was not unlike a gigantic grave- 
stone. As if reflected in a mirror, its likeness was in 
Reuben's memory. He even recognized the veins 
which seemed to form an inscription in forgotten 
characters : everything remained the same, except 
that a thick covert of bushes shrouded the lower part 
of the rock, and would have hidden Roger Malvin had 
he still been sitting there. Yet in the next moment 
R/euben's eye was caught by another change that time 
had effected since he last stood where he was now 
standing again behind the earthy roots of the uptorn 
tree. The sapling to which he had bound the blood- 
stained symbol of his vow had increased and streng- 
thened into an oak, far indeed from its maturity, but 
with no mean spread of shadowy branches. There 
was one singularity observable in this tree which made 
Reuben tremble. The middle and lower branches 
were in luxuriant life, and an excess of vegetation had 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL 61 

fringed the trunk almost to the ground ; but a blight 
had apparently stricken the upper part of the oak, 
and the very topmost bough was withered, sapless, and 
utterly dead. Reuben remembered how the little 
banner had fluttered on that topmost bough, when it 
was green and lovely, eighteen years before. Whose 
guilt had blasted it ? 

Dorcas, after the departure of the two hunters, con- 
tinued her preparations for their evening repast. Her 
sylvan table was the moss-covered trunk of a large 
fallen tree, on the broadest part of which she had 
spread a snow-white cloth and arranged what were left 
of the bright pewter vessels that had been her pride 
in the settlements. It had a strange aspect, that one 
little spot of homely comfort in the desolate heart of 
Nature. The sunshine yet lingered upon the higher 
branches of the trees that grew on rising ground ; but 
the shadows of evening had deepened into the hollow 
where the encampment was made, and the firelight 
began to redden as it gleamed up the tall trunks of the 
pines or hovered on the dense and obscure mass of 
foliage that circled round the spot. The heart of 
Dorcas was not sad ; for she felt that it was better to 
journey in the wilderness with two whom she loved 
than to be a lonely woman in a crowd that cared not 
for her. As she busied herself in arranging seats of 
mouldering wood, covered with leaves, for Reuben 
and her son, her voice danced through the gloomy 
forest in the measure of a song that she had learned in 
youth. The rude melody, the production of a bard 
who won no name, was descriptive of a winter evening 
in a frontier cottage, when, secured from savage inroad 
by the high-piled snow-drifts, the family rejoiced by 
their own fireside. The whole song possessed the 
nameless charm peculiar to unborrowed thought ; but 
four continually-recurring lines shone out from the 
rest like the blaze of the hearth whose joys they cele- 



62 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

biated. Into them, working magic with a few simple 
words, the poet had instilled the very essence of 
domestic love and household happiness, and they were 
poetry and picture joined in one. As Dorcas sang, the 
walls of her forsaken home seemed to encircle her ; 
she no longer saw the gloomy pines, nor heard the 
wind, which still, as she began each verse, sent a heavy 
breath through the branches and died away in a 
hollow moan from the burden of the song. She was 
aroused by the report of a gun in the vicinity of the 
encampment ; and either the sudden sound or her 
loneliness by the glowing fire caused her to tremble 
violently. The next moment she laughed in the pride 
of a mother's heart. 

' My beautiful young hunter ! My boy has slain a 
deer ! ' she exclaimed, recollecting that in the direc- 
tion whence the shot proceeded Cyrus had gone to the 
chase. 

She waited a reasonable time to hear her son's light 
step bounding over the rustling leaves to tell of his 
success. But he did not immediately appear ; and 
she sent her cheerful voice among the trees in search 
of him. 

' Cyrus ! Cyrus ! ' 

His coming was still delayed ; and she determined, 
as the report had apparently been very near, to seek 
for him in person. Her assistance, also, might be 
necessary in bringing home the venison which she 
flattered herself he had obtained. She therefore set 
forward, directing her steps by the long-past sound, 
and singing as she went, in order that the boy might 
be aware of her approach and run to meet her. From 
behind the trunk of every tree and from every hiding- 
place in the thick foliage of the undergrowth she hoped 
to discover the countenance of her son, laughing with 
the sportive mischief that is born of affection. The 
sun was now beneath the horizon, and the light that 
came down among the trees was sufficiently dim to 



ROGER MALVIN'S BURIAL * 63 

create many illusions in her expecting fancy. Several 
times she seemed indistinctly to .see his face gazing 
out from among the leaves ; and once she imagined 
that he stood beckoning to her at the base of a craggy 
rock. Keeping her eyes on this object, however, it 
proved to be no more than the trunk of an oak, fringed 
to the very ground with little branches, one of which, 
thrust out farther than the rest, was shaken by the 
breeze. Making her way round the foot of the rock, 
she suddenly found herself close to her husband, who 
had approached in another direction. Leaning upon 
the butt of his gun, the muzzle of which rested upon 
the withered leaves, he was apparently absorbed in 
the contemplation of some object at his feet. 

' How is this, Reuben ? Have you slain the deer 
and fallen asleep over him ? ' exclaimed Dorcas, laugh- 
ing cheerfully, on her first slight observation of his 
posture and appearance. 

He stirred not, neither did he turn his eyes towards 
her ; and a cold, shuddering fear, indefinite in its 
source and object, began to creep into her blood. She 
now perceived that her husband's face was ghastly 
pale, and his features were rigid, as if incapable of 
assuming any other expression than the strong despair 
which had hardened upon them. He gave not the 
slightest evidence that he was aware of her approach. 

' For the love of Heaven, Reuben, speak to me ! ' 
cried Dorcas ; and the strange sound of her own voice 
affrighted her even more than the dead silence. 

Her husband started, stared into her face, drew her 
to the front of the rock, and pointed with his finger. 

Oh, there lay the boy, asleep, but dreamless, upon 
the fallen forest leaves ! His cheek rested upon his 
arm his curled locks were thrown back from his 
brow his limbs were slightly relaxed. Had a sudden 
weariness overcome the youthful hunter ? Would his 
mother's voice arouse him ? She knew that it was 
death. 



64 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

' This broad rock is the gravestone of your near 
kindred, Dorcas,' said her husband. ' Your tears will 
fall at once over your father and your son.' 

She heard him not. With one wild shriek, that 
seemed to force its way from the sufferer's inmost soul, 
she sank insensible by the side of her dead boy. At 
that moment the withered topmost bough of the oak 
loosened itself in the stilly air, and fell in soft, light 
fragments upon the rock, upon the leaves, upon Reuben, 
upon his wife and child, and upon Roger Malvin's 
bones. Then Reuben's heart was stricken, and the 
tears gushed out like water from a rock. The vow 
that the wounded youth had made the blighted man 
had come to redeem. His sin was expiated the curse 
was gone from him ; and in the hour, when he had 
shed blood dearer to him than his own, a prayer, the 
first for years, went up to Heaven from the lips of 
Reuben Bourne. 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 

OUR host having resumed the chair, he, as well as 
Mr. Tiffany and myself, expressed much eagerness to 
be made acquainted with the story to which the 
loyalist had alluded. That venerable man first of all 
saw fit to moisten his throat with another glass of 
wine, and then, turning his face towards our coal fire, 
looked steadfastly for a few moments into the depths 
of its cheerful glow. Finally, he poured forth a great 
fluency of speech. The generous liquid that he had 
imbibed, while it warmed his age-chilled blood, like- 
wise took off the chill from his heart and mind, and 
gave him an energy to think and feel, which we could 
hardly have expected to find beneath the snows of 
fourscore winters. His feelings, indeed, appeared to 
me more excitable than those of a younger man ; or, 
at least, the same degree of feeling manifested itself 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 65 

by more visible effects, than if his judgement and will 
had possessed the potency of meridian life. At the 
pathetic passages of his narrative, he readily melted 
into tears. When a breath of indignation swept across 
his spirit, the blood flushed his withered visage even 
to the roots of his white hair ; and he shook his 
clinched fist at the trio of peaceful auditors, seeming 
to fancy enemies in those who felt very kindly towards 
the desolate old soul. But ever and anon, sometimes 
in the midst of his most earnest talk, this ancient 
person's intellect would wander vaguely, losing its 
hold of the matter in hand, and groping for it amid 
misty shadows. Then would he cackle forth a feeble 
laugh, and express a doubt whether his wits for by 
that phrase it pleased our ancient friend to signify his 
mental powers were not getting a little the worse for 
wear. 

Under these disadvantages, the old loyalist's story 
required more revision to render it fit for the public 
eye, than those of the series which have preceded it ; 
nor should it be concealed, that the sentiment and 
tone of the affair may have undergone some slight, or 
perchance more than slight metamorphosis, in its 
transmission to the reader through the medium of a 
thorough-going democrat. The tale itself is a mere 
sketch, with no involution of plot, nor any great 
interest of events, yet possessing, if I have rehearsed 
it aright, that pensive influence over the mind, which 
the shadow of the old Province House flings upon the 
loiterer in its courtyard. 

The hour had come the hour of defeat and humilia- 
tion when Sir William Howe was to pass over the 
threshold of the Province House, and embark with no 
such triumphal ceremonies as he once promised him- 
self, on board the British fleet. He bade his servants 
and military attendants go before him, and lingered a 
moment in the loneliness of the mansion, to quell tho 

228 -n 



66 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

fierce emotions that struggled in his bosom as with a 
death-throb. Preferable, then, would he have deemed 
his fate, had a warrior's death left him a claim to the 
narrow territory of a grave, within the soil which the 
King had given him to defend. With an ominous 
perception that, as his departing footsteps echoed 
adown the staircase, the sway of Britain was passing 
for ever from New England, he smote his clinched hand 
on his brow, and cursed the destiny that had flung the 
shame of a dismembered empire upon him. 

' Would to God,' cried he, hardly repressing his tears 
of rage, ' that the rebels were even now at the door- 
step ! A blood-stain upon the floor should then bear 
testimony that the last British ruler was faithful to 
his trust.' 

The tremulous voice of a woman replied to his 
exclamation. 

' Heaven's cause and the King's are one,' it said. 
' Go forth, Sir William Howe, and trust in Heaven to 
bring back a Royal Governor in triumph.' 

Subduing at once the passion to which he had yielded 
only in the faith that it was unwitnessed, Sir William 
Howe became conscious that an aged woman, leaning 
on a gold-headed staff, was standing betwixt him and 
the door. It was old Esther Dudley, who had dwelt 
almost immemorial years in this mansion until her 
presence seemed as inseparable from it as the recol- 
lections of its history. She was the daughter of an 
ancient and once eminent family, which had fallen 
into poverty and decay, and left its last descendant no 
resource save the bounty of the King, nor any shelter 
except within the walls of the Province House. An 
office in the household, with merely nominal duties, 
had been assigned to her as a pretext for the payment 
of a small pension, the greater part of which she ex- 
pended in adorning herself with an antique magnifi- 
cence of attire. The claims of Esther Dudley's gentle 
blood were acknowledged by all the successive Gover- 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 67 

nors ; and they treated her with the punctilious 
courtesy which it was her foible to demand, not always 
with success, from a neglectful world. The only actual 
share which she assumed in the business of the man- 
sion, was to glide through its passages and public 
chambers late at night, to see that the servants had 
dropped no fire from their flaring torches, nor left 
embers crackling and blazing on the hearths; Perhaps 
it was this invariable custom of walking her rounds in 
the hush of midnight, that caused the superstition of 
the times to invest the old woman with attributes of 
awe and mystery ; fabling that she had entered the 
portal of the Province House, none knew whence, in 
the train of the first Royal Governor, and that it was 
her fate to dwell there till the last should have departed. 
But Sir William Howe, if he ever heard this legend, 
had forgotten it. 

' Mistress Dudley, why are you loitering here ? ' 
asked he, with some severity of tone. ' It is my 
pleasure to be the last in this mansion of the King.' 

' Not so, if it please your Excellency,' answered the 
time-stricken woman. ' This roof has sheltered me 
long. I will not pass from it until they bear me to the 
tomb of my forefathers. What other shelter is there 
for old Esther Dudley, save the Province House or the 
grave ? ' 

4 Now Heaven forgive me ! ' said Sir William Howe 
to himself. ' I was about to leave this wretched old 
creature to starve or beg. Take this, good Mistress 
Dudley,' he added, putting a purse into her hands, 
' King George's head on these golden guineas is sterling 
yet, and will continue so, I warrant you, even should 
the rebels crown John Hancock their king. That purse 
will buy a better shelter than the Province House can 
now afford.' 

' While the burden of life remains upon me, I will 
have no other shelter than this roof,' persisted Esther 
Dudley, striking her staff upon the floor, with a gesture 



68 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

that expressed immovable resolve. ' And when your 
Excellency returns in triumph, I will totter into the 
porch to welcome you.' 

' My poor old friend ! ' answered the British General, 
and all his manly and martial pride could no longer 
restrain a gush of bitter tears. ' This is an evil hour 
for you and me. The province which the King in- 
trusted to my charge is lost. I go hence in misfortune 
perchance in disgrace to return no more. And you, 
whose present being is incorporated with the past 
who have seen Governor after Governor in stately 
pageantry ascend these steps whose whole life has 
been an observance of majestic ceremonies, and a wor- 
ship of the King how will you endure the change ? 
Come with us ! Bid farewell to a land that has shaken 
oS its allegiance, and live still under a Royal govern- 
ment at Halifax.' 

* Never, never ! ' said the pertinacious old dame. 
' Here will I abide ; and King George shall still have 
one true subject in his disloyal province.' 

' Beshrew the old fool ! ' muttered Sir William Howe, 
growing impatient of her obstinacy, and ashamed of 
the emotion into which he had been betrayed. ' She 
is the very moral of old-fashioned prejudice, and could 
exist nowhere but in this musty edifice. Well, then, 
Mistress Dudley, since you will needs tarry, I give the 
Province House in charge to you. Take this key, and 
keep it safe until myself, or some other Royal Governor, 
shall demand it of you.' 

Smiling bitterly at himself and her, he took the heavy 
key of the Province House, and delivering it into the old 
lady's hands, drew his cloak around him for departure. 
As the General glanced back at Esther Dudley's antique 
figure, he deemed her well -fitted for such a charge, as 
being so perfect a representative of the decayed past 
of an age gone by, with its manners, opinions, faith, and 
feelings, all fallen into oblivion or scorn of what had 
once been a reality, but was now merely a vision of 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 69 

faded magnificence. Then Sir William Howe strode 
forth, smiting his clinched hands together, in the fierce 
anguish of his spirit ; and old Esther Dudley was left to 
keep watch in the lonely Province House, dwelling there 
with memory ; and if Hope ever seemed to flit around 
her, still it was Memory in disguise. 

The total change of affairs that ensued on the de- 
parture of the British troops did not drive the venerable 
lady from her stronghold. There was not, for many 
years afterwards, a Governor of Massachusetts ; and 
the magistrates, who had charge of such matters, saw no 
objection to Esther Dudley's residence in the Province 
House, especially as they must otherwise have paid a 
hireling for taking care of the premises, which with her 
was a labour of love. And so they left her the undis- 
turbed mistress of the old historic edifice. Many and 
strange were the fables which the gossips whispered 
about her, in all the chimney-corners of the town. 
Among the time-worn articles of furniture that had 
been left in the mansion, there was a tall, antique 
mirror, which was well worthy of a tale by itself, and 
perhaps may hereafter be the theme of one. The gold 
of its heavily- wrought frame was tarnished, and its 
surface was so Blurred, that the old woman's figure, 
whenever she passed before it, looked indistinct and 
ghost-like. But it was the general belief that Esther 
could cause the Governors of the overthrown dynasty, 
with the beautiful ladies who had once adorned their 
festivals, the Indian chiefs who had come up to the 
Province House to hold council or swear allegiance, the 
grim Provincial warriors, the severe clergyman in 
short, all the pageantry of gone days all the figures 
that ever swept across the broad plate of glass in 
former times she could cause the whole to reappear, 
and people the inner world of the mirror with shadows 
of old life. Such legends as these, together with the 
singularity of her isolated existence, her age, and the 
infirmity that each added winter flung upon her, made 



70 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

Mistress Dudley the object both of fear and pity ; and 
it was partly the result of either sentiment, that, amid 
all the angry licence of the times, neither wrong nor 
insult ever fell upon her unprotected head. Indeed, 
there was so much haughtiness in her demeanour 
towards intruders, among whom she reckoned all 
persons acting under the new authorities, that it was 
really an affair of no small nerve to look her in the face. 
And to do the people justice, stern republicans as they 
had now become, they were well content that the old 
gentlewoman, in her hoop petticoat and faded em- 
broidery, should still haunt the palace of ruined pride 
and overthrown power, the symbol of a departed 
system, embodying a history in her person. So Esther 
Dudley dwelt, year after year, in the Province House, 
still reverencing all that others had flung aside, still 
faithful to her King, who, so long as the venerable dame 
yet held her post, might be said to retain one true 
subject in New England, and one spot of the empire 
that had been wrested from him. 

And did she dwell there in utter loneliness ? Rumour 
said, not so. Whenever her chill and withered heart 
desired warmth, she was wont to summon a black slave 
of Governor Shirley's from the blurred mirror, and send 
him in search of guests who had long ago been familiar 
in those deserted chambers. Forth went the sable 
messenger, with the starlight or the moonshine gleam- 
ing through him, and did his errand in the burial 
ground, knocking at the iron doors of tombs, or upon 
the marble slabs that covered them, and whispering to 
those within : ' My mistress, old Esther Dudley, bids 
you to the Province House at midnight.' And punc- 
tually as the clock of the Old South told twelve, came 
the shadows of the Olivers, the Hutchinsons, the 
Dudleys, all the grandees of a by-gone generation, 
gliding beneath the portal into the well-known mansion, 
where Esther mingled with them as if she likewise were 
a shade. Without vouching for the truth of such 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 71 

traditions, it is certain that Mistress Dudley sometimes 
assembled a few of the stanch, though crestfallen old 
Tories, who had lingered in the rebel town during those 
days of wrath and tribulation. Out of a cobwebbed 
bottle, containing liquor that a Royal Governor might 
have smacked his lips over, they quaffed healths to the 
King, and babbled treason to the Republic, feeling as 
if the protecting shadow of the throne were still flung 
around them. But, draining the last drops of their 
liquor, they stole timorously homeward, and answered 
not again, if the rude mob reviled them in th'e street. 

Yet Esther Dudley's most frequent and favoured 
guests were the children of the town. Towards them 
she was never stern. A kindly and loving nature, 
hindered elsewhere from its free course by a thousand 
rocky prejudices, lavished itself upon these little ones. 
By bribes of gingerbread of her own making, stamped 
with a royal crown, she tempted their sunny sportive- 
ness beneath the gloomy portal of the Province House, 
and would often beguile them to spend a whole play day 
there, sitting in a circle round the verge of her hoop 
petticoat, greedily attentive to her stories of a dead 
world. And when these little boys and girls stole forth 
again from the dark mysterious mansion, they went 
bewildered, full of old feelings that graver people had 
long ago forgotten, rubbing their eyes at the world 
around them as if they had gone astray into ancient 
times, and become children of the past. At home, 
when their parents asked where they had loitered such 
a weary while, and with whom they had been at play, 
the children would talk of all the departed worthies of 
the Province, as far back as Governor Belcher, and the 
haughty dame of Sir William Phipps. It would seem 
as though they had been sitting on the knees of these 
famous personages, whom the grave had hidden for 
half a century, and had toyed with the embroidery of 
their rich waistcoats, or roguishly pulled the long curls 
of their flowing wigs. ' But Governor Belcher has been 



72 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

dead this many a year,' would the mother say to her 
little boy. ' And did you really see him at the Province 
House ? ' * Oh yes, dear mother ! yes ! ' the half- 
dreaming child would answer. * But when old Esther 
had done speaking about him he faded away out of his 
chair.' Thus, without affrighting her little guests, she 
led them by the hand into the chambers of her own 
desolate heart, and made childhood's fancy discern the 
ghosts that haunted there. 

Living so continually in her own circle of ideas, and 
never regulating her mind by a proper reference to 
present things, Esther Dudley appears to have grown 
partially crazed. It was found that she had no right 
sense of the progress and true state of the Revolutionary 
war, but held a constant faith that the armies of Britain 
were victorious on every field, and destined to be 
ultimately triumphant. Whenever the town rejoiced 
for a battle won by Washington, or Gates, or Morgan, 
or Greene, the news, in passing through the door of the 
Province House, as through the ivory gate of dreams, 
became metamorphosed into a strange tale of the 
prowess of Howe, Clinton, or Cornwallis. Sooner or 
later, it was her invincible belief, the colonies would be 
prostrate at the footstool of the King. Sometimes she 
seemed to take for granted that such was already the 
case. On one occasion, she startled the town's people 
by a brilliant illumination of the Province House, with 
candles at every pane of glass, and a transparency of 
the King's initials and a crown of light, in the great 
balcony window. The figure of the aged woman, in the 
most gorgeous of her mildewed velvets and brocades, 
was seen passing from casement to casement, until she 
paused before the balcony, and flourished a huge key 
above her head. Her wrinkled visage actually gleamed 
with triumph, as if the soul within her were a festal 
lamp. 

' What means this blaze of light ? What does old 
Esther's joy portend ? ' whispered a spectator. ' It 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 73 

is frightful to see her gliding about the chambers, and 
rejoicing there without a soul to bear her company.' 

4 It is as if she were making merry in a tomb,' said 
another. 

' Pshaw ! It is no such mystery,' observed an old 
man, after some brief exercise of memory. ' Mistress 
Dudley is keeping jubilee for the King of England's 
birthday.' 

Then the people laughed aloud, and would have 
thrown mud against the blazing transparency of the 
King's crown and initials, only that they pitied the 
poor old dame, who was so dismally triumphant amid 
the wreck and ruin of the system to which she apper- 
tained. 

Oftentimes it was her custom to climb the weary 
staircase that wound upward to the cupola, and thence 
strain her dimmed eyesight seaward and countryward, 
watching for a British fleet, or for the march of a grand 
procession, with the King's banner floating over it. 
The passengers in the street below would discern her 
anxious visage, and send up a shout * When the golden 
Indian on the Province House shall shoot his arrow, 
and when the cock on the Old South spire shall crow, 
then look for a Royal Governor again ! ' for this had 
grown a byword through the town. And at last, 
after long, long years, old Esther Dudley knew, or per- 
chance she only dreamed, that a Royal Governor was 
on the eve of returning to the Province House, to 
receive the heavy key which Sir William Howe had 
committed to her charge. Now it was the fact, that 
intelligence bearing some faint analogy to Esther's 
version of it, was current among the town's people. 
She set the mansion in the best order that her means 
allowed, and arraying herself in silks and tarnished 
gold, stood long before the blurred mirror to admire her 
own magnificence. As she gazed, the grey and with- 
ered lady moved her ashen lips, murmuring half aloud, 
talking to shapes that she saw within the mirror, to 

D* 



74 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

shadows of her own fantasies, to the household friends 
of memory, and bidding them rejoice with her, and coine 
forth to meet the Governor. And while absorbed in 
this communion, Mistress Dudley heard the tramp of 
many footsteps in the street, and looking out of the 
window, beheld what she construed as the Royal 
Governor's arrival. 

' happy day ! O blessed, blessed hour ! ' she 
exclaimed. ' Let me but bid him welcome within the 
portal, and my task in the Province House, and on 
earth, is done ! ' 

Then with tottering feet, which age and tremulous 
joy caused to tread amiss, she hurried down the grand 
staircase, her silks sweeping and rustling as she went, 
so that the sound was as if a train of spectral courtiers 
were thronging from the dim mirror. And Esther 
Dudley fancied, that as soon as the wide door should 
be flung open, all the pomp and splendour of bygone 
times would pace majestically into the Province House, 
and the gilded tapestry of the past would be brightened 
by the sunshine of the present. She turned the key 
withdrew it from the lock unclosed the door and 
stepped across the threshold. Advancing up the court- 
yard appeared a person of most dignified mien, with 
tokens, as Esther interpreted them, of gentle blood, 
high rank, and long- accustomed authority, even in his 
walk and every gesture. He was richly dressed, but 
wore a gouty shoe, which, however, did not lessen the 
stateliness of his gait. Around and behind him were 
people in plain civic dresses, and two or three war-worn 
veterans, evidently officers of rank, arrayed in a uniform 
of blue and buff. But Esther Dudley, firm in the belief 
that had fastened its roots about her heart, beheld only 
the principal personage, and never doubted that this 
was the long-looked-for Governor, to whom she was to 
surrender up her charge. As he approached, she invol- 
untarily sank down on her knees, and tremblingly held 
forth the heavy key. 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 75 

' Receive my trust ! take it quickly ! ' cried she ; 
' for methinks Death is striving to snatch away my 
triumph. But he comes too late. Thank Heaven for 
this blessed hour ! God save King George ! ' 

' That, Madam, is a strange prayer to be offered up 
at such a moment,' replied the unknown guest of the 
Province House, and courteously removing his hat, he 
offered his arm to raise the aged woman. ' Yet, in 
reverence for your grey hairs and long-kept faith, 
Heaven forbid that any here should say you nay. 
Over the realms which still acknowledge his sceptre, 
God save King George ! ' 

Esther Dudley started to her feet, and hastily 
clutching back the key, gazed with fearful earnestness 
at the stranger ; and dimly and doubtfully, as if sud- 
denly awakened from a dream, her bewildered eyes 
half recognized his face. Years ago, she had known 
him among the gentry of the province. But the ban 
of the King had fallen upon him ! How, then, came 
the doomed victim here ? Proscribed, excluded from 
mercy, the monarch's most dreaded and hated foe, 
this New England merchant had stood triumphantly 
against a kingdom's strength ; and his foot now trod 
upon humbled Royalty, as he ascended the steps of 
the Province House, the people's chosen Governor of 
Massachusetts. 

' Wretch, wretch that I am ! ' muttered the old 
woman, with such a heart-broken expression, that the 
tears gushed from the stranger's eyes. ' Have I bidden 
a traitor welcome ? Come, Death ! come quickly ! ' 

' Alas, venerable lady ! ' said Governor Hancock, 
lending her his support with all the reverence that a 
courtier would have shown to a queen. ' Your life 
has been prolonged until the world has changed 
around you. You have treasured up all that time has 
rendered worthless the principles, feelings, manners, 
modes of being and acting, which another generation 
has flung aside and you are a symbol of the past. 



76 NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 

And I, and these around me we represent a new race 
of men living no longer in the past, scarcely in the 
present but projecting our lives forward into the 
future. Ceasing to model ourselves on ancestral super- 
stitions, it is our faith and principle to press onward, 
onward ! Yet,' continued he, turning to his atten- 
dants, ' let us reverence, for the last time, the stately 
and gorgeous prejudices of the tottering Past ! ' 

While the Republican Governor spoke, he had con- 
tinued to support the helpless form of Esther Dudley ; 
her weight grew heavier against his arm ; but at last, 
with a sudden effort to free herself, the ancient woman 
sank down beside one of the pillars of the portal. 
The key of the Province House fell from her grasp, 
and clanked against the stone. 

' I have been faithful unto death,' murmured she. 

* God save the King ! ' 

1 She hath done her office ! ' said Hancock, solemnly. 

* We will follow her reverently to the tomb of her 
ancestors ; and then, my fellow- citizens, onw r ard 
onward ! We are no longer children of the Past ! ' 

As the old loyalist concluded his narrative, the 
enthusiasm which had been fitfully flashing within his 
sunken eyes, and quivering across his wrinkled visage, 
faded away, as if all the lingering fire of his soul were 
extinguished. Just then, too, a lamp upon the 
mantelpiece threw out a dying gleam, which vanished 
as speedily as it shot upward, compelling our eyes to 
grope for one another's features by the dim glow of 
the hearth. With such a lingering fire, methought, 
with such a dying gleam, had the glory of the ancient 
system vanished from the Province House, when the 
spirit of old Esther Dudley took its flight. And now, 
again, the clock of the Old South threw its voice of 
ages on the breeze, knolling the hourly knell of the 
Past, crying out far and wide through the multitudin- 
ous city, and filling our ears, as we sat in the dusky 



OLD ESTHER DUDLEY 77 

chamber, with its reverberating depth of tone. In 
that same mansion in that very chamber what a 
volume of history had been told off into hours, by the 
same voice that was now trembling in the air. Many 
a Governor had heard those midnight accents, and 
longed to exchange his stately cares for slumber. 
And as for mine host, and Mr. Bela Tiffany, and the 
old loyalist, and me, we had babbled about dreams 
of the past, until we almost fancied that the clock was 
still striking in a bygone century. Neither of us 
would have wondered, had a hoop-petticoated phan- 
tom of Esther Dudley tottered into the chamber, 
walking her rounds in the hush of midnight, as of 
yore, and motioned us to quench the fading embers of 
the fire, and leave the historic precincts to herself and 
her kindred shades. But as no such vision was 
vouchsafed, I retired unbidden, and would advise 
Mr. Tiffany to lay hold of another auditor, being 
resolved not to show my face in the Province House 
for a good while hence if ever. 



EDGAR ALLAN FOE 

18091849 

THE PURLOINED LETTER 

4 Nil sapientiae odiosius acumine nimio.' .SENECA. 

AT Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the 
autumn of 18 , I was enjoying the twofold luxury of 
meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my 
friend, C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library 
or book-closet, au troisieme, No. 33 Rue Dunot, Fau- 
bourg St. Germain. For one hour at least we had 
maintained a profound silence ; while each, to any 
casual observer, might have seemed intently and 
exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke 
that oppressed the atmosphere of the chamber. For 
myself, however, I was mentally discussing certain 
topics which had formed matter for conversation 
between us at an earlier period of the evening ; I mean 
the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery attend- 
ing the murder of Marie Roget. I looked upon it, 
therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the 
door of our apartment was thrown open and admitted 

our old acquaintance, Monsieur G , the Prefect of 

the Parisian police. 

We gave him a hearty welcome ; for there was 
nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the con- 
temptible about the man, and we had not seen him 
for several years. We had been sitting in the dark, 
and Dupin now arose for the purpose of lighting a 
lamp, but sat down again, without doing so, upon G.'s 
saying that he had called to consult us, or rather to 

78 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 79 

ask the opinion of my friend, about some official 
business which had occasioned a great deal of trouble. 

' If it is any point requiring reflection,' observed 
Dupin, as he forbore to enkindle the wick, ' we shall 
examine it to better purpose in the dark.' 

' That is another of your odd notions,' said the 
Prefect, who had a fashion of calling everything ' odd ' 
that was beyond his comprehension, and thus lived 
amid an absolute legion of ' oddities.' 

' Very true,' said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor 
with a pipe, and rolled towards him a" comfortable 
chair. 

* And what is the difficulty now ? ' I asked. 
6 Nothing more in the assassination way, I hope ? ' 

' Oh, no ; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the 
business is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt 
that we can manage it sufficiently well ourselves ; but 
then I thought Dupin would like to hear the details 
of it, because it is so excessively odd? 

' Simple and odd,' said Dupin. 

' Why, yes ; and not exactly that, either. The 
fact is, we have all been a good deal puzzled because 
the affair is so simple, and yet baffles us altogether.' 

' Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing 
which puts you at fault,' said my friend. 

' What nonsense you do talk ! ' replied the Prefect, 
laughing heartily. 

' Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain,' said Dupin. 

' Oh, good heavens ! who ever heard of such an 
idea ? ' 

' A little too self-evident.' 

' Ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! ha ! ho ! ho ! ho ! ' roared 
our visitor, profoundly amused ; ' O Dupin, you 
will be the death of me yet ! ' 

' And what, after all, is the matter on hand ? ' I 
asked. 

' Why, I will tell you,' replied the Prefect, as he 
gave a long, steady, and contemplative puff, and 



80 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

settled himself in his chair. ' I will tell you in a few 
words ; but, before I begin, let me caution you that 
this is an affair demanding the greatest secrecy, and 
that I should most probably lose the position I now 
hold, were it known that I confided it to any one.' 

* Proceed,' said I. 

1 Or not,' said Dupin. 

* Well, then ; I have received personal information, 
from a very high quarter, that a certain document of 
the last importance has been purloined from the royal 
apartments. ' The individual who purloined it is 
known ; this beyond a doubt ; he was seen to take 
it. It is known, also, that it still remains in his 
possession.' 

1 How is this known ? ' asked Dupin. 

* It is clearly inferred,' replied the Prefect, ' from 
the nature of the document, and from the non-appear- 
a<nce of certain results which would at once arise from 
its passing out of the robber's possession that is to 
say, from his employing it as he must design in the 
end to employ it.' 

' Be a little more explicit,' I said. 

* Well, I may venture so far as to say that the 
paper gives its holder a certain power in a certain 
quarter where such power is immensely valuable.' 
The Prefect was fond of the cant of diplomacy. 

' Still I do not quite understand,' said Dupin. 

' No ? Well ; the disclosure of the document to a 
third person, who shall be nameless, would bring in 
question the honour of a personage of most exalted 
station ; and this fact gives the holder of the docu- 
ment an ascendancy over the illustrious personage 
whose honour and peace are so jeopardized.' 

4 But this ascendancy,' I interposed, * would depend 
upon the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge 
of the robber. Who would dare 

' The thief,' said G., 'is the Minister D , who 

dares all things, those unbecoming as well as those 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 81 

becoming a man. The method of the theft was not 
less ingenious than bold. The document in question 
a letter, to be frank had been received by the 
personage robbed while alone in the royal boudoir, 
During its perusal she was suddenly interrupted by 
the entrance of the other exalted personage from 
whom especially it w r as her wish to conceal it. After a 
hurried and vain endeavour to thrust it into a drawer, 
she was forced to place it, open as it was, upon a 
table. The address, however, was uppermost, and, 
the contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped 

notice. At this juncture enters the Minister D . 

His lynx eye immediately perceives the paper, recog- 
nizes the handwriting of the address, observes the 
confusion of the personage addressed, and fathoms 
her secret. After some business transactions, hurried 
through in his ordinary manner, he produces a letter 
somewhat similar to the one in question, opens it, 
pretends to read it, and then places it in close juxta- 
position to the other. Again he converses, for some 
fifteen minutes, upon the public affairs. At length, 
in taking leave, he takes also from the table the letter 
to which he had no claim. Its rightful owner saw, 
but, of course, dared not call attention to the act, in 
the presence of the third personage who stood at her 
elbow. The Minister decamped, leaving his own 
letter one of no importance upon the table.' 

' Here, then,' said Dupin to me, ' you have pre- 
cisely what you demand to make the ascendancy com- 
plete the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge 
of the robber.' 

' Yes,' replied the Prefect ; * and the power thus 
attained has, for some months past, been wielded, for 
political purposes, to a very dangerous extent. The 
personage robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every 
day, of the iiec^Bsity of reclaiming her letter. But 
this, of course, cannot be done openly. In fine, driven 
to despair, she has committed the matter to me.' 



82 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

' Than whom,' said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind 
of smoke, ' no more sagacious agent could, I suppose, 
be desired, or even imagined.' 

' You flatter me,' replied the Prefect ; ' but it is 
possible that some such opinion may have been 
entertained.' 

* It is clear,' said I, ' as you observe, that the letter 
is still in the possession of the Minister ; since it is 
this possession, and not any employment of the letter, 
which bestows the power. With the employment the 
power departs.' 

4 True,' said G. ; ' and upon this conviction I pro- 
ceeded. My first care was to make thorough search 
of the Minister's hotel ; and here my chief embarrass- 
ment lay in the necessity of searching without his 
knowledge. Beyond all things, I have been warned 
of the danger which would result from giving him 
reason to suspect our design.' 

' But,' said I, ' you are quite au fait in these in- 
vestigations. The Parisian police have done this 
thing often before.' 

' Oh yes ; and for this reason I did not despair. 
The habits of the Minister gave me, too, a great advan- 
tage. He is frequently absent from home all night. 
His servants are by no means numerous. They sleep 
at a distance from their master's apartment, and, 
being chiefly Neapolitans, are readily made drunk. I 
have keys, as you know, with which I can open any 
chamber or cabinet in Paris. For three months a 
night has not passed, during the greater part of which 
I have not been engaged, personally, in ransacking 

the D Hotel. My honour is interested, and, to 

mention a great secret, the reward is enormous. So I 
did not abandon the search until I had become fully 
satisfied that the thief is a more astute man than 
myself. I fancy that I have investigated every nook 
and corner of the premises in which it is possible that 
the paper can be concealed.' 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 83 

' But is it not possible,' I suggested, ' that although 
the letter may be in possession of the Minister, as it 
unquestionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere 
than upon his own premises ? ' 

' This is barely possible,' said Dupin. * The present 
peculiar condition of affairs at court, and especially of 
those intrigues in which D is known to be in- 
volved, would render the instant availability of the 
document its susceptibility of being produced at a 
moment's notice a point of nearly equal importance 
with its possession.' 

' Its susceptibility of being produced ? ' said I. 

' That is to say, of being destroyed,' said Dupin. 

' True,' I observed ; ' the paper is clearly then 
upon the premises. As for its being upon the person 
of the Minister, we may consider that as out of the 
question.' 

' Entirely,' said the Prefect. ' He has been twice 
waylaid, as if by footpads, and his person rigorously 
searched under my own inspection.' 

' You might have spared yourself this trouble,' said 

Dupin. ' D , I presume, is not altogether a fool, 

and, if not, must have anticipated these waylayings, 
as a matter of course.' 

' Not altogether a fool,' said G. ; ' but then he's a 
poet, which I take to be only one remove from a fool.' 

' True,' said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful 
whiff from his meerschaum, ' although I have been 
guilty of certain doggerel myself*' 

' Suppose you detail,' said I, ' the particulars of 
your search.' 

' Why, the fact is we took our time, and we searched 
everywhere. I have had long experience in these 
affairs. I took the entire building, room by room ; 
devoting the nights of a whole week to each. We 
examined, first, the furniture of each apartment. We 
opened every possible drawer ; and I presume you 
know that, to a properly trained police agent, such a 



84 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

thing as a secret drawer is impossible. Any man is a 
dolt who permits a " secret " drawer to escape him in 
a search of this kind. The thing is so plain. There 
is a certain amount of bulk of space to be accounted 
for in every cabinet. Then we have accurate rules. 
The fiftieth part of a line could not escape us. After 
the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions we 
probed with the fine long needles you have seen me 
employ. From the tables we removed the tops.' 

' Why so ? ' 

' Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly 
arranged piece of furniture, is removed by the person 
wishing to conceal an article ; then the leg is exca- 
vated, the article deposited within the cavity, and 
the top replaced. The bottoms and tops of bedposts 
are employed in the same way.' 

1 But could not the cavity be detected by sound- 
ing ? ' I asked. 

' By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a 
sufficient wadding of cotton be placed around it. 
Besides, in our case, we were obliged to proceed with- 
out noise.' 

' But you could not have removed you could not 
have taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which 
it would have been possible to make a deposit in the 
manner you mention. A letter may be compressed 
into a thin spiral roll, not differing much in shape or 
bulk from a large knitting-needle, and in this form it 
might be inserted into the rung of a chair, for example. 
You did not take to pieces all the chairs ? ' 

* Certainly not ; but we did better we examined 
the rungs of every chair in the hotel, and, indeed, the 
jointings of every description of furniture, by the aid 
of a most powerful microscope. Had there been any 
traces of recent disturbance we should not have 
failed to detect it instantly. A single grain of gimlet- 
dust, for example, w r ould have been as obvious as an 
apple. Any disorder in the glueing any unusual 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 85 

gaping in the joints would have sufficed to ensure 
detection.' 

' I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the 
boards and the plates, and you probed the beds and 
the bedclothes, as well as the curtains and carpets.' 

' That of course ; and when we had absolutely 
completed every particle of the furniture in this way, 
then we examined the house itself. We divided its 
entire surface into compartments, which we numbered, 
so that none might be missed ; then we scrutinized 
each individual square inch throughout the premises, 
including the two houses immediately adjoining, with 
the microscope, as before.' 

' The two houses adjoining ! ' I exclaimed ; ' you 
must have had a great deal of trouble.' 

' We had ; but the reward offered is prodigious.' 

* You include the grounds about the houses ? ' 

1 All the grounds are paved with brick. They gave 
us comparatively little trouble. We examined the 
moss between the bricks, and found it undisturbed.' 

' You looked among D 's papers, of course, and 

into the books of the library ? ' 

' Certainly ; we opened every package and parcel ; 
we not only opened every book, but we .turned over 
every leaf in each volume, not contenting ourselves 
with a mere shake, according to the fashion of some 
of our police officers. We also measured the thickness 
of every book-cover, with the most accurate admeasure- 
ment, and applied to each the most jealous scrutiny 
of the microscope. Had any of the bindings been 
recently meddled with, it would have been utterly 
impossible that the fact should have escaped obser- 
vation. Some five or six volumes, just from the 
hands of the binder, we carefully probed longitudinally, 
with the needles.' 

' You explored the floors beneath the carpets ? ' 

' Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and 
examined the boards with the microscope.' 



80 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

' And the paper on the walls ? ' 

4 Yes.' 

4 You looked into the cellars ? ' 

4 We did.' 

4 Then,' I said, ' you have been making a miscal- 
culation, and the letter is not upon the premises, as 
you suppose.' 

' I fear you are right there,' said the Prefect. ' And 
now, Dupin, what would you advise me to do ? ' 

4 To make a thorough research of the premises.' 

4 That is absolutely needless,' replied G . 4 1 

am not more sure that I breathe than I am that the 
letter is not at the hotel.' 

4 1 have no better advice to give you,' said Dupin. 
' You have, of course, an accurate description of the 
letter ? ' 

4 Oh yes ! ' And here the Prefect, producing a 
memorandum -book, proceeded to read aloud a minute 
account of the internal, and especially of the external 
appearance of the missing document. Soon after 
finishing the perusal of this description, he took his 
departure more entirely depressed in spirits than I 
had ever known the good gentleman before. 

In about a month afterwards he paid us another 
visit, and found us occupied very nearly as before. 
He took a pipe and a chair and entered into some 
ordinary conversation. At length I said 

4 Well, but G , what of the purloined letter ? 

I presume you have at last made up your mind that 
there is no such thing as overreaching the Minister ? ' 

* Confound him, say I yes ; I made the re- examina- 
tion, however, as Dupin suggested but it was all 
labour lost, as I knew it would be.' 

4 How much was the reward offered, did you say ? ' 
asked Dupin. 

4 Why, a very great deal a very liberal reward I 
don't like to say how much, precisely ; but I will say, 
that I wouldn't mind giving my individual cheque for 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 87 

fifty thousand francs to any one who could obtain me 
that letter. The fact is, it is becoming of more and 
more importance every day ; and the reward has been 
lately doubled. If it were trebled, however, I could 
do no more than I have done.' 

' Why, yes,' said Dupin drawlingly, between the 

whiffs of his meerschaum, ' I really think, G , 

you have not exerted yourself to the utmost. in 
this matter. You might do a little more, I think, 
eh?' 

' How ? in w r hat way ? ' 

' Why puff, puff you might puff, puff employ 
counsel in the matter, eh ? puff, puff, puff. Do you 
remember the story they tell of Abernethy ? ' 

' No ; hang Abernethy ! ' 

' To be sure ! hang him and welcome. But once 
upon a time, a certain rich miser conceived the design 
of sponging upon this Abernethy for a medical opinion. 
Getting up, for this purpose, an ordinary conversation 
in a private company, he insinuated his case to the 
physician, as that of an imaginary individual. 

' " We will suppose," said the miser, " that his 
symptoms are such and such ; now, doctor, what 
would you have directed him to take ? " 

' " Take ! " said Abernethy, " why, take advice, to 
be sure." ' 

' But,' said the Prefect, a little discomposed, ' I 
am perfectly willing to take advice, and to pay for it. 
I would really give fifty thousand francs to any one 
who would aid me in the matter.' 

1 In that case,' replied Dupin, opening a drawer, 
and producing a cheque-book, ' you may as well fill 
me up a cheque for the amount mentioned. When 
you have signed it, I will hand you the letter.' 

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely 
thunderstricken. For some minutes he remained 
speechless and motionless, looking incredulously at my 
friend with open mouth, and eyes that seemed starting 



88 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

from their sockets ; then, apparently recovering 
himself in some measure, he seized a pen, and after 
several pauses and vacant stares, finally filled up and 
signed a cheque for fifty thousand francs, and handed 
it across the table to Dupin. The latter examined it 
carefully and deposited it in his pocket-book ; then, 
unlocking an escritoire, took thence a letter and gave 
it to the Prefect. This functionary grasped it in a 
perfect agony of joy, opened it with a trembling hand, 
cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then, scrambling 
and struggling to the door, rushed at length uncere- 
moniously from the room and from the house, without 
having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested 
him to fill up the cheque. 

When he had gone, my friend entered into some 
explanations. 

' The Parisian police,' he said, ; are exceedingly able 
in their way. They are persevering, ingenious, cun- 
ning, and thoroughly versed in the knowledge which 
their duties seem chiefly to demand. Thus, when 

G detailed to us his mode of searching the premises 

at the Hotel D , I felt entire confidence in his 

having made a satisfactory investigation so far as 
his labours extended.' 

' So far as his labours extended ? ' said I. 

* Yes,' said Dupin. ' The measures adopted were 
not only the best of their kind, but carried out to 
absolute perfection. Had the letter been deposited 
within the range of their search, these fellows would, 
beyond a question, have found it.' 

I merely laughed but he seemed quite serious in 
all that he said. 

' The measures, then,' he continued, * were good in 
their kind, and well executed ; their defect lay in 
their being inapplicable to the case, and to the man. 
A certain set of highly ingenious resources are, with 
the Prefect, a sort of Procrustean bed, to which he 
forcibly adapts his designs. But he perpetually errs 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 89 

by being too deep or too shallow for the matter in 
hand ; and many a schoolboy is a better reasoner 
than he. I knew one about eight years of age, whose 
success at guessing in the game of " even and odd " 
attracted universal admiration. This game is simple, 
and is played with marbles. One player holds in his 
hand a number of these toys, and demands of another 
whether that number is even or odd. If the guess 
is right, the guesser wins one ; if wrong, he loses 
one. The boy to whom I allude won all the marbles 
of the school. Of course he had some principle of 
guessing ; and this lay in mere observation and ad- 
measurement of the astuteness of his opponents. For 
example, an arrant simpleton is his opponent, and, 
holding up his closed hand, asks, " Are they even or 
odd ? " Our schoolboy replies, " Odd," and loses ; 
but upon the second trial he wins, for he then says to 
himself, " The simpleton had them even upon the 
first trial, and his amount of cunning is just sufficient 
to make him have them odd upon the second ; I will 
therefore guess odd " he guesses odd, and wins. 
Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first, he 
would have reasoned thus : " This fellow finds that 
in the first instance I guessed odd, and, in the second, 
he will propose to himself, upon the first impulse, a 
simple variation from even to odd, as did the first 
simpleton ; but then a second thought will suggest 
that this is too simple a variation, and finally he will 
decide upon putting it even as before. I will there- 
fore guess even " he guesses even, and wins. Now 
this mode of reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his 
. fellows termed " lucky " what, in its last analysis, 
is it ? " 

1 It is merely,' I said, ' an identification of the 
reasoner' s intellect with that of his opponent.' 

' It is,' said Dupin ; ' and upon inquiring of the 
boy by what means he effected the thorough identifica- 
tion in which his success consisted, I received answer 



90 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

as follows : " When I wish to find out how wise, or 
how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is anyone, 
or what are his thoughts at the moment, I fashion the 
expression of my face, as accurately as possible, in 
accordance with the expression of his, and then wait 
to see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind 
or heart, as if to match or correspond with the expres- 
sion." This response of the schoolboy lies at the 
bottom of all the spurious profundity which has been 
attributed to Rochefoucauld, to La Bougive, to 
Machiavelli, and to Campanella.' 

' And the identification,' I said, ' of the reasoners 
intellect with that of his opponent, depends, if I under- 
stand you aright, upon the accuracy with which the 
opponent's intellect is admeasured.' 

' For its practical value it depends upon this,' re- 
plied Dupin ; * and the Prefect and his cohort fail so 
frequently, first, by default of his identification, and, 
secondly, by ill-admeasurement, or rather through 
non-admeasurement, of the intellect with which they 
are engaged. They consider only their own ideas of 
ingenuity ; and, in searching for anything hidden, 
advert only to the modes in which they would have 
hidden it. They are right in this much that their 
own ingenuity is a faithful representative of that of 
the mass ; but when the cunning of the individual 
felon is diverse in character from their own, the felon 
foils them, of course. This always happens when it is 
above their own, and very usually when it is below. 
They have no variation of principle in their investiga- 
tions ; at best, when urged by some unusual emer- 
gency by some extraordinary reward they extend 
or exaggerate their old modes of practice, without 
touching their principles. What, for example, in this 

case of D , has been done to vary the principle of 

action ? What is all this boring, and probing, and 
sounding, and scrutinizing with the microscope, and 
dividing the surface of the building into registered 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 91 

square inches what is it all but an exaggeration of 
flie application of the one principle or set of principles 
of search, which are based upon the one set of notions 
regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect, in 
the long routine of his duty, has been accustomed ? 
Do you not see he has taken it for granted that all 
men proceed to conceal a letter not exactly in a 
gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg but, at least, in some 
out-of-the-way hole or corner suggested by the same 
tenor of thought which would urge a man to secrete 
a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg ? And 
do you not see also, that such recherches nooks for con- 
cealment are adapted only for ordinary occasions, and 
would be adopted only by ordinary intellects ; for, 
in all cases of concealment, a disposal of the article 
concealed a disposal of it in this recherche manner 
is, in the very first instance, presumable and presumed ; 
and thus its discovery depends, not at all upon the 
acumen, but altogether upon the mere care, patience, 
and determination of the seekers ; and where the case 
is of importance or, what amounts to the same thing 
in the policial eyes, when the reward is of magnitude 
the qualities in question have never been known to 
fail. You will now understand what I meant in sug- 
gesting that, had the purloined letter been hidden 
anywhere within the limits of the Prefect's examina- 
tion in other words, had the principle of its conceal- 
ment been comprehended within the principles of the 
Prefect its discovery would have been a matter alto- 
gether beyond question. This functionary, however, 
has been thoroughly mystified ; and the remote source 
of his defeat lies in the supposition 'that the Minister 
is a fool, because he has acquired renown as a poet. 
All fools are poets this the Prefect feels ; and he is 
merely guilty of a non distributio medii in thence in- 
ferring that alPpoets are fools.' 

* But is this really the poet ? ' I asked. ' There 
are two brothers, I know ; and both have attained 



92 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

reputation in letters. The Minister, I believe, has 
written learnedly on the Differential Calculus. He is 
a mathematician, and no poet.' 

' You are mistaken ; I know him well ; he is both. 
As poet and mathematician, he would reason well ; as 
mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at 
all, and thus would have been at the mercy of the 
Prefect/ 

' You surprise me,' I said, ' by these opinions, which 
have been contradicted by the voice of the world. 
You do not mean to set at naught the well-digested 
idea of centuries. The mathematical reason has long 
been regarded as the reason par excellence' 

4 " II y a a parier," ' replied Dupin, quoting from 
Chamfort, ' " que toute idee publique, toute convention 
reQue, est une sottise, car elle a convenue au plus grand 
nombre" The mathematicians, I grant you, have done 
their best to promulgate the popular error to which 
you allude, and which is none the less an error for its 
promulgation as truth. With an art worthy a better 
cause, for example, they have insinuated the term 
" analysis " into application to algebra. The French 
are the originators of this particular deception ; but 
if a term is of any importance if words derive any 
value from applicability then " analysis " conveys 
" algebra " about as much as, in Latin, " ambitus " 
implies " ambition," " religio " " religion," or " homines 
honesti " a set of honourable men.' 

' You have a quarrel on hand, I see,' said I, ' with 
some of the algebraists of Paris ; but proceed.' 

' I dispute the availability, and thus the value, of 
that reason which is cultivated in any especial form 
other than the abstractly logical. I dispute, in par- 
ticular, the reason educed by mathematical study. 
The mathematics are the science of form and quantity ; 
mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to 
observation upon form and quantity. The great error 
lies in supposing that even the truths of what is called 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 93 

pure algebra, are abstract or general truths. And this 
error is so egregious that I am confounded at the 
universality with which it has been received. Mathe- 
matical axioms are not axioms of general truth. What 
is true of relation of form and quantity is often 
grossly false in regard to morals, for example. In 
this latter science it is very usually untrue that the 
aggregated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry 
also the axiom fails. In the consideration of motive 
it fails ; for two motives, each of a given value, have 
not, necessarily, a value when united, equal to the 
sum of their values apart. There are numerous other 
mathematical truths which are only truths within the 
limits of relation. But the mathematician argues, 
from his finite truths, through habit, as if they were of 
an absolutely general applicability as the world indeed 
imagines them to be. Bryant, in his very learned 
Mythology, mentions an analogous source of error, 
when he says that " although the Pagan fables are not 
believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make 
inferences from them as existing realities." With the 
algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the 
" Pagan fables " are believed, and the inferences are 
made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through 
an unaccountable addling of the brains. In short, I 
never yet encountered the mere mathematician who 
could be trusted out of equal roots, or one who did not 
clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that x 2 -j- px 
was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q. Say 
to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if 
you please, that you believe occasions may occur where 
x 2 + px is not altogether equal to q, and, having made 
him understand what you mean, get out of .his reach 
as speedily as convenient, for, beyond doubt, he will 
endeavour to knock you down. 

' I mean to say,' continued Dupin, while I merely 
laughed at his last observations, ' that if the Minister 
had been no more than a mathematician, the Prefect 



94 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

would have been under no necessity of giving me this 
cheque. I knew him, however, as both mathematician 
and poet, and my measures were adapted to his capacity, 
with reference to the circumstances by which he was 
surrounded. I knew him as a courtier, too, and as a 
bold intriguant. Such a man, I considered, could not 
fail to be aware of the ordinary policial modes of 
action. He could not have failed to anticipate and 
events have proved that he did not fail to anticipate 
the way layings to which he was subjected. He must 
have foreseen, I reflected, the secret investigations of 
his premises. His frequent absences from home at 
night, which were hailed by the Prefect as certain aids 
to his success, I regarded only as ruses, to afford 
opportunity for thorough search to the police, and 
thus the sooner to impress them with the conviction 
to which G , -in fact, did finally arrive the con- 
viction that the letter was not upon the premises. I 
felt, also, that the whole train of thought, which I was 
at some pains in detailing to you just now, concerning 
the invariable principle of policial action in searches 
for articles concealed I felt that this whole train of 
thought would necessarily pass through the mind of 
the Minister. It would imperatively lead him to 
despise all the ordinary nooks of concealment. He 
could not, I reflected, be so weak as not to see that 
the most intricate and remote recess of his hotel would 
be as open as his commonest closets to the eyes, to the 
probes, to the gimlets, and to the microscopes of the 
Prefect. I saw, in fine, that he would be driven, as a 
matter of course, to simplicity, if not deliberately in- 
duced to it as a matter of choice. You will remember, 
perhaps, .how desperately the Prefect laughed when I 
suggested, upon our first interview, that it was just 
possible this mystery troubled him so much on account 
of its being so very self-evident.' 

' Yes,' said I, ' I remember his merriment well. I 
really thought he would have fallen into convulsions.' 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 95 

* The material world,' continued Dupin, * abounds 
with very strict analogies to the immaterial ; and thus 
some colour of truth has been given to the rhetorical 
dogma, that metaphor, or simile, may be made to 
strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a 
description. The principle of the vis inertice, for 
example, seems to be identical in physics and meta- 
physics. It is not more true in the former, that a 
large body, is with more difficulty set in motion than a 
smaller one, and that its subsequent momentum is 
commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the 
latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while 
more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in 
their movements than those of inferior grade, are yet 
the less readily moved, and more embarrassed and full 
of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress. 
Again, have you ever noticed which of the street signs 
over the shop-doors are the most attractive of atten- 
tion ? ' 

' I have never given the matter a thought,' I said. 

' There is a game of puzzles,' he resumed, ' which 
is played upon a map. One party playing requires 
another to find a given word the name of town, river, 
state or empire any word, in short, upon the motley 
and perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the 
game generally seeks to embarrass his opponents by 
giving them the most minutely lettered names ; but 
the adept selects such words as stretch, in large 
characters, from one end of the chart to the other. 
These, like the over-largely lettered signs and placards 
of the street, escape observation by dint of being 
excessively obvious ; and here the physical oversight 
is precisely analogous with the moral inapprehension 
by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed those 
considerations which are too obtrusively and too 
palpably self-evident. But this is a point, it appears, 
somewhat above or beneath the understanding of the 
Prefect. He never once thought it probable, or pos- 



96 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

sible, that the Minister had deposited the letter immedi- 
ately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way 
of best preventing any portion of that world from 
perceiving it. 

' But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, 

and discriminating ingenuity of D ; upon the fact 

that the document must always have been at hand, if 
he intended to use it to good purpose ; and upon the 
decisive evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was 
not hidden within the limits of that dignitary's ordinary 
search the more satisfied I became that, to conceal 
this letter, the Minister had resorted to the compre- 
hensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to 
conceal it at all. 

' Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of 
green spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite 

by accident, at the Ministerial hotel. I found D 

at home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, 
and pretending to be in the last extremity of ennui. 
He is, perhaps, the most really energetic human being 
now alive but that is only when nobody sees him. 

' To be even with him, I complained of my weak 
eyes, and lamented the necessity of the spectacles, 
under cover of which I cautiously and thoroughly 
surveyed the whole apartment, while seemingly intent 
only upon the conversation of my host. 

' I paid especial attention to a large writing-table 
near which he sat, and upon which lay confusedly 
some miscellaneous letters and other papers, with one 
or two musical instruments and a few books. Here, 
however, after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I 
saw nothing to excite particular suspicion. 

' At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the 
room, fell upon a trumpery filigree card-rack of paste- 
board, that hung dangling by a dirty blue ribbon, from 
a little brass knob just beneath the middle of the 
mantelpiece. In this rack, which had three or four 
compartments, were five or six visiting cards and a 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 97 

solitary letter. This last was much soiled and crumpled. 
It was torn nearly in two, across the middle as if a 
design, in the first instance, to tear it entirely up as 
worthless, had been altered, or staj^ed, in the second. 

It had a large black seal, bearing the D cipher 

very conspicuously, and was addressed, in a diminutive 

female hand, to D , the Minister, himself. It was 

thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, contemptu- 
ously, into one of the uppermost divisions of the rack. 

' No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I 
concluded it to be that of which I was in search. To 
be sure, it was, to all appearance, radically different 
from the one of which the Prefect had read us so 
minute a description. Here the seal was large and 

black, with the I) cipher ; there it was small and 

red, with the ducal arms of the S family. Here, 

the address, to the Minister, was diminutive and 
feminine ; there the superscription, to a certain royal 
personage, was markedly bold and decided ; the 
size alone formed a point of correspondence. But 
then the radicalness of these differences, which was 
excessive ; the dirt ; the soiled and torn condition of 
the paper, so inconsistent with the true methodical 
habits of D , and so suggestive of a design to de- 
lude the beholder into an idea of the worthlessness of 
the document ; these things, together with the hyper- 
obtrusive situation of this document, full in the view 
of every visitor, and thus exactly in accordance with 
the conclusions to which I had previously arrived ; 
these things, I say, were strongly corroborative of sus- 
picion, in one who came with the intention to suspect. 

* I protracted my visit as long as possible, and, while 
I maintained a most animated discussion with the 
Minister, upon a topic which I knew well had never 
failed to interest and excite him, I kept my attention 
really riveted upon the letter. In this examination, 
I committed to memory its external appearance and 
arrangement in the rack ; and also fell, at length, upon 

228 B 



98 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

a discovery, which set at rest whatever trivial doubt 
I might have entertained. In scrutinizing the edges 
of the paper, I observed them to be more cliafed than 
seemed necessary. They presented the broken appear- 
ance which is manifested when a stiff paper, having been 
once folded and pressed with a folder, is refolded in a 
reverse direction, in the same creases or edges which had 
formed the original fold. This discovery wa# sufficient. 
It was clear to me that the letter had been turned, as a 
glove, inside out, redirected and resealed. I bade the 
Minister good-morning, and took my departure at once, 
leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table. 

' The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when 
we resumed, quite eagerly, the conversation of the 
preceding day. While thus engaged, however, a loud 
report, as if of a pistol, was heard immediately beneath 
the windows of the hotel, and was succeeded by a series 
of fearful screams, and the shoutings of a terrified mob. 

D rushed to a casement, threw it open, and looked 

out. In the meantime, I stepped to the card-rack, took 
the letter, put it in my pocket, and replaced it by a fac- 
simile (so far as regards externals) which I had carefully 

prepared at my lodgings imitating the D cipher, 

very readily, by means of a seal formed of bread. 

* The disturbance in the street had been occasioned 
by the frantic behaviour of a man with a musket. He 
had fired it among a crowd of women and children. It 
proved, however, to have been without ball, and the 
fellow was suffered to go his way as a lunatic or a 

drunkard. When he had gone, D came from the 

window, whither I had followed him immediately upon 
securing the object in view. Soon afterwards I bade 
him farewell. The pretended lunatic was a man in my 
own pay.' 

4 But what purpose had 3 r ou,' I asked, ' in replacing 
the letter by a fac-simile ? Would it" not have been 
better, at the first visit, to have seized it openly, and 
departed ? ' 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 99 

' D ,' replied Dupin, ' is a desperate man, and a 

man of nerve. His hotel, too, is not without attendants 
devoted to his interests. Had I made the wild attempt 
you suggest, I might never have left the Ministerial 
presence alive. The good people of Paris might have 
heard of me no more. But I had an object apart from 
these considerations. You know my political pre- 
possessions. In this matter, I act as a partisan of the 
lady concerned. For eighteen months the Minister has 
had her in his power. She has now him in hers since, 
being unaware that the letter is not in his possession, he 
will proceed with his exactions as if it was. Thus will 
he inevitably commit himself, at once, to his political 
destruction. His downfall, too, will not be more 
precipitate than awkward. It is all very well to talk 
about the facilis descensus Averni ; but in all kinds of 
climbing, as Catalani said of singing, it is far more easy 
to get up than to come down. In the present instance 
I have no sympathy at least no pity for him who 
descends. He is that monstrum horrendum, an un- 
principled man of genius. I confess, however, that I 
should like very well to know the precise character of 
his thoughts, when, being defied by her whom the 
Prefect terms "a certain personage," he is reduced to 
opening the letter which I left for him in the card -rack.' 
' How ? did you put anything particular in it ? ' 
' Why it did not seem altogether right to leave the 

interior blank that would have been insulting. D , 

at Vienna once, did me an evil turn, which I told him, 
quite good-humouredly, that I should remember. So, 
as I knew he would feel some curiosity in regard to the 
identity of the person who had outwitted him, I thought 
it a pity not to give him a clue. He is well acquainted 
with my MS., and I just copied into the middle of the 
blank sheet the words : 

' " Un dessein si funeste, 

S'il n'est digne d'Atree, est digne de Thyeste." 
They are to be found in Crebillon's " Atree." ' 



100 EDGAR ALLAN POE 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 

THE thousand injuries of Fortunate I had borne as 
I best could ; but when he ventured upon insult, I 
vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of 
my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utter- 
ance to a threat. At length I would be avenged ; this 
was a point definitely settled but the very definitive- 
ness with which it was resolved, precluded the idea of 
risk. I must not only punish, but punish with im- 
punity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution 
overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when 
the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him 
who has done the wrong. 

It must be understood, that neither by word nor 
deed had I given Fortunato cause to doubt my good- 
will. I continued, as was my wont, to smile in his face, 
and he did not perceive that my smile now was at the 
thought of his immolation. 

He had a weak point this Fortunato although in 
other regards he was a man to be respected and even 
feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in 
wine. Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For 
the most part their enthusiasm is adapted to suit the 
time and opportunity to practise imposture upon the 
British and Austrian millionaires. In painting and 
gernmary Fortunato, like his countrymen, was a quack 
but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In 
this respect I did not differ from him materially : I was 
skilful in the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely 
whenever I could. 

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme 
madness of the Carnival season, that I encountered my 
friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he 
had been drinking much. The man wore motley. 
He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress, and his 
head was surmounted by the conical cap and bells. I 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 101 

was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should never 
have done wringing his hand. 

I said to him, ' My dear Fortunate, you are luckily 
met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day ! 
But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontil- 
lado, and I have my doubts.' 

' How ? ' said he ; ' Amontillado ? A pipe ? Im- 
possible ! And in the middle of the Carnival ! ' 

' I have my doubts,' I replied ; ' and I was silly 
enough to pay the full Amontillado price without con- 
sulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, 
and I was fearful of losing a bargain.' 

' Amontillado ! ' 

I 1 have my doubts.' 
' Amontillado ! ' 

4 And I must satisfy them.' 

' Amontillado ! ' 

' As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. 
If any one has a critical turn, it is he. He will tell 
me ' 

' Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.' 

' And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a 
match for your own.' 

' Come, let us go.' 

1 Whither ? s 

' To your vaults.' 

' My friend, no ; I will not impose upon your good- 
nature. I perceive you have an engagement. 
Luchesi ' 

' I have no engagement ; come.' 

' My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the 
severe cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. 
The vaults are insufferably damp. They are encrusted 
with nitre.' 

' Let us go nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. 
Amontillado ! You have been imposed upon. And 
as for Luchesi he cannot distinguish Sherry from 
Amontillado.' 



102" EDGAR ALLAN POE 

Thus speaking, Fortunate possessed himself of my 
arm. Putting on a mask of black silk, and drawing a 
roquelaire closely about my person, I suffered him to 
hurry me to my palazzo. 

There were no attendants at home ; they had ab- 
sconded to make merry in honour of the time. I had 
told them that I should not return until the morning, 
and had given them explicit orders not to stir from 
the house. These orders were sufficient, I well knew, 
to ensure their immediate disappearance, one and all, 
as soon as my back was turned. 

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving 
one to Fortunate, bowed him through several suites of 
rooms to the archway that led into the vaults. I passed 
down a long and winding staircase, requesting him to 
be cautious as he followed. We came at length to 
the foot of the descent, and stood together on the damp 
ground of the catacombs of the Montresors. 

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells 
upon his cap jingled as he strode. 

' The pipe,' said he. 

4 It is farther on,' said I ; c but observe the white 
webwork which gleams from these cavern walls.' 

He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes 
with two filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of in- 
toxication. 

' Nitre ? ' he asked, at length. 

' Nitre,' I replied. ' How long have you had that 
cough ? ' 

' Ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! 
ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! ' 

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many 
minutes. 

' It is nothing,' he said at last. 

' Come, 5 I said, with decision, ' we will go back ; 
your health is precious. You are rich, respected, 
admired, beloved ; you are happy, as once I was. You 
are a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 103 

will go back ; you will be ill, and I cannot be respon- 
sible. Besides, there is Luchesi ' 

' Enough,' he said, ' the cough is a mere nothing ; it 
will not kill me. I shall not die of a cough.' 

' True true,' I replied ; ' and, indeed, I had no 
intention of alarming you unnecessarily but you 
should use all proper caution. A draught of this Me'doc 
will defend us from the damps.' 

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew 
from a long row of its fellows that lay upon the 
mould. 

' Drink,' I said, presenting him the wine. 

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and 
nodded to me familiarly, while his bells jingled. 

' I drink,' he said, ' to the buried that repose around 
us.' 

' And I to your long life.' 

He again took my arm, and we proceeded. 

' These vaults,' he said, ' are extensive.' 

* The Montresors,' I replied, ' were a great and 
numerous family.' 

' I forget your arms.' 

' A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure ; the foot 
crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded 
in the heel.' 

' And the motto ? ' 

' Nemo me impune lacessit.' 

' Good ! ' he said. 

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. 
My own fancy grew warm with the Medoc. We had 
passed through walls with piled bones, with casks and 
puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses 
of the catacombs. I paused again, and this time I 
made bold to seize Fortunate by an arm above the 
elbow. 

' The nitre ! ' I said ; ' see, it increases. It hangs 
like moss upon the vaults. We are below the river's 
bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones. 



104 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your 
cough ' 

' It is nothing,' he said ; ' let us go on. But first, 
another draught of the Medoc.' 

I broke and reached him a flagon of De Grave. He 
emptied it at a breath. His eyes flashed with a fierce 
light. He laughed and threw the bottle upwards with 
a gesticulation I did not understand. 

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the move- 
ment a grotesque one. 

4 You do not comprehend ? ' he said. 

1 Not I,' I replied. 

1 Then you are not of the brotherhood.' 

* How ? ' 

' You are not of the masons.' 

' Yes, yes,' I said ; ' yes, yes.' 

' You ? Impossible ! A mason ? ' 

' A mason,' I replied. 

' A sign,' he said. 

1 It is this,' I answered, producing a trowel from 
beneath the folds of my roquelaire. 

' You jest,' he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. 
' But let us proceed to the Amontillado.' 

4 Be it so,' I said, replacing the tool beneath the 
cloak, and again offering him my arm. He leaned 
upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of 
the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low 
arches, descended, passed on, and descending again, 
arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulness of the 
air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than flame. 

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared 
another less spacious. Its walls had been lined with 
human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the 
fashion of the great catacombs of Paris. Three sides 
of this interior crypt were still ornamented in this 
manner. From the fourth the bones had been thrown 
down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, forming 
at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 105 

thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we per- 
ceived a still interior recess, in depth about four feet, 
in width three, in height six or seven. It seemed to 
have been constructed for no especial use within itself, 
but formed merely the interval between two of the 
colossal supports of the roof of the catacombs, and was 
backed by one of their circumscribing walls of solid 
granite. 

It was in vain that Fortunate, uplifting his dull 
torch, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. 
Its termination the feeble light did not enable us to see. 

' Proceed,' I said ; ' herein is the Amontillado. As 
for Luchesi ' 

' He is an ignoramus,' interrupted my friend, as he 
stepped unsteadily forward, while I followed immedi- 
ately at his heels. In an instant he had reached the 
extremity of the niche, and finding his progress arrested 
by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered. A moment 
more and I had fettered him to the granite. In its 
surface were two iron staples, distant from each other 
about two feet, horizontally. From one of these 
depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. 
Throwing the links about his waist, it was but the 
work of a few seconds to secure it. He was too much 
astounded to resist. Withdrawing the key, I stepped 
back from the recess. 

' Pass your hand,' I said, ' over the wall ; you cannot 
help feeling the nitre. Indeed it is very 'damp. Once 
more let me implore you to return. No? Then I 
must positively leave you. But I must first render 
you all the little attentions in my power.' 

* The Amontillado ! ' ejaculated my friend, not yet 
recovered from his astonishment. 

' True,' I replied, ' the Amontillado.' 

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile 
of bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing 
them aside, I soon, uncovered a quantity of building 
stone aiid mortar. With these materials, and with the 



106 EDGAR ALLAN POE 

aid of my trowel, I began vigorously to wall up the 
entrance of the niche. 

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when 
I discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in 
a great measure worn off. The earliest indication I 
had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of 
the recess. It was not the cry of a drunken man. 
There was then a long and obstinate silence. I laid 
the second tier, and the third, and the fourth ; and 
then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The 
noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I 
might hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased 
my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at 
last the clanking subsided, I resumed the trowel, and 
finished without interruption the fifth, the sixth, and 
the seventh tier. The wall was now nearly upon a 
level with my breast. I again paused, and holding 
the flambeaux over the mason- work, threw a few feeble 
rays upon the figure within. 

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting 
suddenly from the throat of the chained form, seemed 
to thrust me violently back. For a brief moment I 
hesitated I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I 
began to grope with it about the recess ; but the 
thought of an instant reassured me. I placed my hand 
upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt satisfied. 
I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of him 
who clamoured. I re-echoed I aided I surpassed 
them in volume and in strength. I did this, and the 
clamourer grew still. 

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a 
close. I had completed the eighth, the ninth, and the 
tenth tier. I had finished a portion of the last and the 
eleventh ; there remained but a single stone to be fitted 
and plastered in. I struggled with its weight ; I 
placed it partially in its destined position. But now 
there came from out the niche a low laugh that erected 
the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a sad 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 107 

voice, which I had difficulty in recognizing as that of 
the noble Fortunato. The voice said 

' Ha ! ha ! ha ! he ! he ! a very good joke indeed 
an excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh 
about it at the palazzo he ! he ! he ! over our wine- 
he ! he ! he ! ' 

4 The Amontillado ! ' I said. 

' He ! he ! he ! he ! he ! he ! yes, the Amontillado. 
But is it not getting late ? Will not they be awaiting us 
at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest ? Let 
us be gone.' 

' Yes,' I said, ' let us be gone.' 

4 For the love of God, Montresor ! ' 

4 Yes,' I said, ' for the love of God ! ' 

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. 
I grew impatient. I called aloud 

4 Fortunato ! ' 

No answer. I called again 

4 Fortunato ! ' 

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the re- 
maining aperture and let it fall within. There came 
forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart 
grew sick on account of the dampness of the cata- 
combs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I 
forced the last stone into its position ; I plastered it 
up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old 
rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal 
has disturbed them. In pace requiescat ! 



CHARLES DICKENS 

1812-1870 

THE HOLLY-TREE 
THREE BRANCHES 
FIRST BRANCH 

MYSELF 

I HAVE kept one secret in the course of my life. I 
am a bashful man. Nobody would suppose it, no- 
body ever does suppose it, nobody ever did suppose 
it, but I am naturally a bashful man. This is the 
secret which I have never breathed until now. 

I might greatly move the reader by some account 
of the innumerable places I have not been to, the 
innumerable people I have not called upon or received, 
the innumerable social evasions I have been guilty of, 
solely because I am by original constitution and 
character a bashful man. But I will leave the reader 
unmoved, and proceed with the object before rne. 

That object is to give a plain account of my travels 
and discoveries in the Holly-Tree Inn ; in which place 
of good entertainment for man and beast I was once 
snowed up. 

It happened in the memorable year when I parted 
for ever from Angela Leath, whom I was shortly to 
have married, on making the discovery that she pre- 
ferred my bosom friend. From our school-days I 
had freely admitted Edwin, in my own mind, to be 
far superior to myself ; and, though I was grievously 

108 



THE HOLLY-TREE 109 

wounded at heart, I felt the preference to be natural, 
and tried to forgive them both. It was under these 
circumstances that I resolved to go to America on 
my way to the Devil. 

Communicating my discovery neither to Angela nor 
to Edwin, but resolving to write each of them an 
affecting letter conveying my blessing and forgiveness, 
which the steam-tender for shore should carry to the 
post when I myself should be bound for the New 
World, far beyond recall, I say, locking up my grief 
in my own breast, and consoling myself as I could with 
the prospect of being generous, I quietly left all I held 
dear, and started on the desolate journey I have men- 
tioned. 

The dead winter-time was in full dreariness when I 
left my chambers for ever, at five o'clock in the morn- 
ing. I had shaved by candle-light, of course, and was 
miserably cold, and experienced that general all- 
pervading sensation of getting up to be hanged which 
I have usually found inseparable from untimely rising 
under such circumstances. 

How well I remember the forlorn aspect of Fleet- 
street when I came out of the Temple ! The street- 
lamps flickering in the gusty north-east wind, as if the 
very gas were contorted with cold ; the white-topped 
houses ; the bleak, star-lighted sky ; the market 
people and other early stragglers, trotting to circulate 
their almost frozen blood ; the hospitable light and 
warmth of the few coffee-shops and public-houses that 
were open for such customers ; the hard, dry, frosty 
rime with which the air was charged (the wind had 
already beaten it into every crevice), and which lashed 
my face like a steel whip. 

It wanted nine days to the end of the month, and 
end of the year. The Post-office packet for the United 
States was to depart from Liverpool, weather permit- 
ting, on the first of the ensuing month, and I had the 
intervening time on my hands. I had taken this into 



110 CHARLES DICKENS 

consideration, and had resolved to make a visit to a 
certain spot (which I need not name) on the farther 
borders of Yorkshire. It was endeared to me by my 
having first seen Angela at a farmhouse in that place, 
and my melancholy was gratified by the idea of taking 
a wintry leave of it before my expatriation. I ought 
to explain, that, to avoid being sought out before my 
resolution should have been rendered irrevocable by 
being carried into full effect, I had written to Angela 
overnight, in my usual manner, lamenting that urgent 
business, of which she should know all particulars by- 
and-by took me unexpectedly away from her for a 
week or ten days. 

There was no Northern Railway at that time, and 
in its place there were stage-coaches ; which I occa- 
sionally find myself, in common with some other 
people, affecting to lament now, but which everybody 
dreaded as a very serious penance then. I had secured 
the box-seat on the fastest of these, and my business 
in Fleet- street was to get into a cab with my port- 
manteau, so to make the best of my way to the Peacock 
at Islington, where I was to join this coach. But 
when one of our Temple watchmen, who carried my 
portmanteau into Fleet- street for me, told me about 
the huge blocks of ice that had for some days past 
been floating in the river, having closed up in the 
night, and made a walk from the Temple Gardens 
over to the Surrey shore, I began to ask myself the 
question, whether the box-seat would not be likely 
to put a sudden and a frosty end to my unhappiness. 
I was heart-broken, it is true, and yet I was not quite 
so far gone as to wish to be frozen to death. 

When I got up to the Peacock, where I found 
everybody drinking hot purl, in self-preservation, I 
asked if there were an inside seat to spare. I then 
discovered that, inside or out, I was the only passenger. 
This gave me a still livelier idea of the great inclemency 
of the weather, since that coach always loaded par- 



THE HOLLY-TREE 111 

ticularly well. However, I took a little purl (which I 
found uncommonly good), and got into the coach. 
When I was seated, they built me up with straw to 
the waist, and, conscious of making a rather ridiculous 
appearance, I began my journey. 

It was still dark when we left the Peacock. For a 
little while, pale, uncertain ghosts of houses and trees 
appeared and vanished, and then it was hard, black, 
frozen day. People were lighting their fires ; smoke 
was mounting straight up high into the rarefied air ; 
and we were rattling for Highgate Archway over the 
hardest ground I have ever heard the ring of iron 
shoes on. As we got into the country, everything 
seemed to have grown old and grey. The roads, the 
trees, thatched roofs of cottages and homesteads, the 
ricks in farmers' yards. Out-door work was aban- 
doned, horse-troughs at roadside inns were frozen hard, 
no stragglers lounged about, doors were close shut, 
little turnpike houses had blazing fires inside, and 
children (even turnpike people have children, and 
seem to like them) rubbed the frost from the little 
panes of glass with their chubby arms, that their bright 
eyes might catch a glimpse of the solitary coach going 
' by. I don't know when the snow began to set in ; 
but I know that we were changing horses somewhere 
when I heard the guard remark, ' That the old lady up 
in the sky was picking her geese pretty hard to-day.' 
Then, indeed, I found the white down falling fast and 
thick. 

The lonely day wore on, and I dozed it out, as a 
lonely traveller does. I was warm and valiant after 
eating and drinking, particularly after dinner ; cold 
and depressed at all other times. I was always bewil- 
dered as to time and place, and always more or less 
out of my senses. The coach and horses seemed to 
execute in chorus Auld Lang Syne, without a moment's 
intermission. They kept the time and tune with the 
greatest regularity, and rose into the swell at the 



112 CHARLES DICKENS 

beginning of the Refrain, with a precision that worried 
me to death. While we changed horses, the guard 
and coachman went stumping up and down the road, 
printing off their shoes in the snow, and poured so 
much liquid consolation into themselves without being 
any the worse for it, that I began to confound them, 
as it darkened again, with two great white casks 
standing on end. Our horses tumbled down in soli- 
tary places, and we got them up, which was the 
pleasantest variety / had, for it warmed me. And it 
snowed and snowed, and still it snowed, and never 
left off snowing. All night long we went on in this 
manner. Thus we came round the clock, upon the 
Great North Road, to the performance of Auld Lang 
Syne all day again. And it snowed and snowed, and 
still it snowed, and never left off snowing. 

I forget now where we were at noon on the second 
day, and where we ought to have been ; but I know 
that we were scores of miles behindhand, and that 
our case was growing worse every hour. The drift 
was becoming prodigiously deep ; landmarks were 
getting snowed out ; the road and the fields were all 
one ; instead of having fences and hedge-rows to 
guide us, we went crunching on over an unbroken 
surface of ghastly white that might sink beneath us 
at any moment and drop us down a whole hillside. 
Still the coachman and guard who kept together on 
the box, always in council, and looking well about 
them made out the track with astonishing sagacity. 

When we came in sight of a town, it looked, to my 
fancy, like a large drawing on a slate, with abundance 
of slate-pencil expended on the churches and houses 
where the snow lay thickest. When we came within 
a town, and found the church clocks all stopped, the 
dial-faces choked with snow, and the inn-signs blotted 
out, it seemed as if the whole place were overgrown 
with white moss. As to the coach, it was a mere 
snowball ; similarly, the men and 'boys who ran along 



THE HOLLY-TREE 113 

beside us to the town's end, turning our clogged 
wheels and encouraging our horses, were men and 
boys of snow ; and the bleak wild solitude to which 
they at last dismissed us was a snowy Sahara. One 
would have thought this enough : notwithstanding 
which, I pledge my word that it snowed and snowed, 
and still it snowed, and never left off snowing. 

We performed Auld Lang Syne the whole day ; 
seeing nothing, out of towns and villages, but the 
track of stoats, hares, and foxes, and sometimes of 
birds. At nine o'clock at night, on a Yorkshire moor, 
a cheerful burst from our horn, and a welcome sound 
of talking, with a glimmering and moving about of 
lanterns, roused me from my drowsy state. I found 
that we were going to change. 

They helped me out, and I said to a waiter, whose 
bare head became as white as King Lear's in a single 
minute, ' What Inn is this ? ' 

4 The Holly-Tree, Sir,' said he. 

' Upon my word, I believe,' said I, apologetically, 
to the guard and coachman, ' that I must stop here.' 

Now the landlord, and the landlady, and the ostler, 
and the postboy, and all the stable authorities, had 
already asked the coachman, to the wide-eyed interest 
of all the rest of the establishment, if he meant to go 
on. The coachman had already replied, ' Yes, he'd 
take her through it,' meaning by Her the coach, 
' if so be as George would stand by him.' George was 
the guard, and he had already sworn that he tvould 
stand by him. So the helpers were already getting 
the horses out. 

My declaring myself beaten, after this parley, was 
not an announcement without preparation. Indeed, 
but for the way to the announcement being smoothed 
by the parley, I more 'than doubt whether, as an 
innately bashful man, I should have had the confidence 
to make it. As it was, it received the approval even 
of the guard and coachman. Therefore, w^th many 



114 CHARLES DICKENS 

confirmations of my inclining, and many remarks from 
one bystander to another, that the gentleman could 
go for'ard by the mail to-morrow, whereas to-night 
he would only be froze, and where was the good of a 
gentleman being froze ? ah ! let alone buried alive 
(which latter clause was added by a humorous helper 
as a joke at my expense, and was extremely well re- 
ceived), I saw my portmanteau got out stiff, like a 
frozen body ; did the handsome thing by the guard 
and coachman ; wished them good-night and a pros- 
perous journey ; and, a little ashamed of myself, after 
all, for leaving them to fight it out alone, followed the 
landlord, landlady, and waiter of the Holly-Tree 
upstairs. 

I thought I had never seen such a large room as that 
into which they showed me. It had five windows, 
with dark red curtains that would have absorbed the 
light of a general illumination ; and there were com- 
plications of drapery at the top of the curtains, that 
went wandering about the wall in a most extraordinary 
manner. I asked for a smaller room, and they told 
me there was no smaller room. They could screen 
me in, however, the landlord said. They brought a 
great old japanned screen, with natives (Japanese, I 
suppose) engaged in a variety of idiotic pursuits all 
over it ; and left me roasting whole before an immense 
fire. 

My bedroom was some quarter of a mile off, up a 
great staircase at the end of a long gallery ; and 
nobody knows what a misery, this is to a bashful man 
who would rather not meet people on the stairs. It 
was the grimmest room I have ever had the nightmare 
in ; and all the furniture, from the four posts of the 
bed to the two old silver candlesticks, was tall, high- 
shouldered, and spindle- waisted. Below, in my sitting- 
room, if I looked round my screen, the wind rushed 
at me like a mad bull ; if I stuck to my armchair, the 
fire scorcled me to the colour of a new brick. The 



THE HOLLY-TREE 115 

chimney-piece was very high, and there was a bad glass 
what I may call a wavy glass above it, which, when 
I stood up, just showed me my anterior phrenological 
developments, and these never look well, in any 
subject, cut short off at the eyebrow. If I stood with 
my back to the fire, a gloomy vault of darkness above 
and beyond the screen insisted on being looked at ; 
and, in its dim remoteness, the drapery of the ten 
curtains of the five windows went twisting and creep- 
ing about, like a nest of gigantic worms. 

I suppose that what I observe in myself must be 
observed by some other men of similar character in 
themselves ; therefore I am emboldened to mention, 
that, when I travel, I never arrive at a place but I 
immediately want to go away from it. Before I had 
finished my supper of broiled fowl and /nulled port, I 
had impressed upon the waiter in detail my arrange- 
ments for departure in the morning. Breakfast and 
bill at eight. Fly at nine. Two horses, or, if needful, 
even four. 

Tired though I was, the night appeared about a 
week long. In oases of nightmare, I thought of 
Angela, and felt more depressed than ever by the re- 
flection that I was on the shortest road to Gretna 
Green. What had I to do with Gretna Green ? I was 
not going that way to the Devil, but by the American 
route, I remarked in my bitterness. 

In the morning I found that it was snowing still, 
that it had snowed all night, and that I was snowed 
up. Nothing could get out of that spot on the moor, 
or could come at it, until the road had been cut out 
by labourers from the market-town. When they 
might cut their way to the Holly-Tree nobody could 
tell me. 

It was now Christmas-eve. I should have had a 
dismal Christmas-time of it anywhere, and conse- 
quently that did not so much matter ; still, being 
snowed up was like dying of frost, a thing I had not 



116 CHARLES DICKENS 

bargained for. I felt very lonely. Yet I could no more 
have proposed to the landlord and landlady to admit 
me to their society (though I should have liked it 
7ery much) than I could have asked them to present 
me with a piece of plate. Here my great secret, the 
real bashfulness of my character, is to be observed. 
Like most bashful men, I judge of other people as if 
they were bashful too. Besides being far too shame- 
faced to make the proposal myself, I really had a 
delicate misgiving that it would be in the last degree 
disconcerting to them. 

Trying to settle down, therefore, in my solitude, I 
first of all asked what books there were in the house. 
The waiter brought me a Book of Road,s, two or three 
old Newspapers, a little Song-Book, terminating in a 
collection of Toasts and Sentiments, a little Jest- Book, 
an odd volume of Peregrine Pickle, and the Sentimental 
Journey. I knew every word of the two last already, 
but I read them through again, then tried to hum all 
the songs (Auld Lang Syne was among them) ; went 
entirely through the jokes, in which I found a fund 
of melancholy adapted to my state of mind ; proposed 
all the toasts, enunciated all the sentiments, and 
mastered the papers. The latter had nothing in 
them but stock advertisements, a meeting about a 
county rate, and a highway robbery. As I am a 
greedy reader, I could not make this supply hold out 
until night ; it was exhausted by tea-time. Being 
then entirely cast upon my own resources, I got 
through an hour in considering what to do next. 
Ultimately, it came into my head (from which I was 
anxious by any means to exclude Angela and Edwin), 
that I would endeavour to recall my experience of 
Inns, and would try how long it lasted me. I stirred 
the fire, moved my chair a little to one side of the 
screen, not daring to go far, for I knew the wind 
was waiting to make a rush at me, I could hear it 
growling, and began. 



THE HOLLY-TREE 117 

My first impressions of an Inn dated from the Nur- 
sery ; consequently I went back to the Nursery for a 
starting-point, and found myself at the knee of a 
sallow woman with a fishy eye, an aquiline nose, and 
a green gown, whose speciality was a dismal narrative 
of a landlord by the roadside, whose visitors un- 
accountably disappeared for many years, until it was 
discovered that the pursuit of his life had been to 
convert them into pies. For the better devotion of 
himself to this branch of industry, he had constructed 
a secret door behind the head of the bed ; and when 
the visitor (oppressed with pie) had fallen asleep, this 
wicked landlord would look softly in with a lamp in 
one hand and a knife in the other, would cut his throat, 
and would make him into pies ; for which purpose he 
had coppers, underneath a trap-door, always boiling ; 
and rolled out his pastry in the dead of the night. Yet 
even he was not insensible to the stings of conscience, 
for he never went to sleep without being heard to 
mutter, ' Too much pepper ! ' which was eventually 
the cause of his being brought to justice. I had no 
sooner disposed of this criminal than there started up 
another of the same period, whose profession was 
originally housebreaking ; in the pursuit of which art 
he had had his right ear chopped off one night, as he 
was burglariously getting in at a window, by a brave 
and lovely servant-maid (whom the aquiline-nosed 
woman, though not at all answering the description, 
always mysteriously implied to be herself). After 
several years, this brave and lovely servant-maid was 
married to the landlord of a country Inn ; which 
landlord had this remarkable characteristic, that he 
always wore a silk nightcap, and never would on any 
consideration take it off. At last, one night, when he 
was fast asleep, the brave and lovely woman lifted up 
his silk nightcap on the right side, and found that he 
had no ear there ; upon which she sagaciously per- 
ceived that he was the clipped housebreaker, who had 



118 CHARLES DICKENS 

married her with the intention of putting her to death. 
She immediately heated the poker and terminated 
his career, for which she was taken to King George 
upon his throne, and received the compliments of 
royalty on her great discretion and valour. This same 
narrator, who had a Ghoulish pleasure, I have long 
been persuaded, in terrifying me to the utmost con- 
fines of my reason, had another authentic anecdote 
within her own experience, founded, I now believe, 
upon Raymond and Agnes, or the Bleeding Nun. She 
said it happened to her brother-in-law, who was 
immensely rich, which my father was not ; and 
immensely tall, which my father was not. It was 
always a point with this Ghoul to present my dearest 
relations and friends to my youthful mind under cir- 
cumstances of disparaging contrast. The brother-in- 
law was riding once through a forest on a magnificent 
horse (we had no magnificent horse at our house), 
attended by a favourite and valuable Newfoundland 
dog (we had no dog), when he found himself benighted, 
and came to an Inn. A dark woman opened the 
door, and he asked her if he could have a bed there. 
She answered yes, and put his horse in the stable, and 
took him into a room where there were two dark 
men. While he was at supper, a parrot in the room 
began to talk, saying, ' Blood, blood ! Wipe up the 
blood ! ' Upon which one of the dark men wrung the 
parrot's neck, and said he was fond of roasted parrots, 
and he meant to have this one for breakfast in the 
morning. After eating and drinking heartily, the 
immensely rich, tall brother-in-law went up to bed ; 
but he was rather vexed, because they had shut his 
dog in the stable, saying that they never allowed dogs 
in the house. He sat very quiet for more than an 
hour, thinking and thinking, when, just as his candle 
was burning out, he heard a scratch at the door. He 
opened the door, and there was the Newfoundland 
dog ! The dog came softly in, smelt about him, went 



THE HOLLY-TREE 119 

straight to some straw in the corner which the dark 
men had said covered apples, tore the straw away, 
and disclosed two sheets steeped in blood. Just at 
that moment the candle went out, and the brother-in- 
law, looking through a chink in the door, saw the two 
dark men stealing upstairs ; one armed with a dagger 
that long (about five feet) ; the other carrying a 
chopper, a sack, and a spade. Having no remem- 
brance of the close of this adventure, I suppose my 
faculties to have been always so frozen with terror 
at this stage of it, that the power of listening stag- 
nated within me for some quarter of an hour. 

These barbarous stories carried me, sitting there 
on the Holly-Tree hearth, to the Roadside Inn, re- 
nowned in my time in a sixpenny book with a folding 
plate, representing in a central compartment of oval 
form the portrait of Jonathan Bradford, and in four 
corner compartments four incidents of the tragedy 
with which the name is associated, coloured with a 
hand at once so free and economical, that the bloom 
of Jonathan's complexion passed without any pause 
into the breeches of the ostler, and, smearing itself off 
into the next division, became rum in a bottle. Then 
I remembered how the landlord was found at the 
murdered traveller's bedside, with his own knife at 
his feet, and blood upon his hand ; how he was hanged 
for the murder, notwithstanding his protestation that 
he had indeed come there to kill the traveller for his 
saddle-bags, but had been stricken motionless on 
finding him already slain ; but how the ostler, years 
afterwards, owned the deed. By this time I had 
made myself quite uncomfortable. I stirred the fire, 
and stood with my back to it as long as I could bear 
the heat, looking up at the darkness beyond the screen, 
and at the wormy curtains creeping in and creeping 
out, like the worms in the ballad of Alonzo the Brave 
and the Fair Imogene. 

There was an Inn in the cathedral town where I 



120 CHARLES DICKENS 

went to school, which had pleasanter recollections 
about it than any of these. I took it next. It was 
the Inn where friends used to put up, and where we 
used to go to see parents, and to have salmon and 
fowls, and be tipped. It had an ecclesiastical sign, 
the Mitre, and a bar that seemed to be the next best 
thing to a bishopric, it was so snug. I loved the land- 
lord's youngest daughter to distraction, but let that 
pass. It was in this Inn that I was cried over by my 
rosy little sister, because I had acquired a black eye 
in a fight. And though she had been, that Holly-Tree 
night, for many a long year where all tears are dried, 
the Mitre softened me yet. 

' To be continued to-morrow,' said I, when I took 
my candle to go to bed. But my bed took it upon 
itself to continue the train of thought that night. It 
carried me away, like the enchanted carpet, to a dis- 
tant place (though still in England), and there, alight- 
ing from a stage-coach at another Inn in the snow, as 
I had actually done some years before, I repeated in 
my sleep a curious experience I had really had here. 
More than a year before I made the journey in the 
course of which I put up at that Inn, I had lost a 
very near and dear friend by death. Every night 
since, at home or away from home, I had dreamed of 
that friend ; sometimes as still living ; sometimes as 
returning from the world of shadows to comfort me ; 
always as being beautiful, placid, and happy, never 
in association with any approach to fear or distress. 
It was at a lonely Inn in a wide moorland place, that 
I halted to pass the night. When I had looked from 
my bedroom window over the waste of snow on which 
the moon was shining, I sat down by my fire to write 
a letter. I had always, until that hour, kept it within 
my own breast that I dreamed every night of the dear 
lost one. But in the letter that I wrote I recorded 
the circumstance, and added that I felt much interested 
in proving whether the subject of my dream would 



THE HOLLY-TREE 121 

still be faithful to me, travel-tired, and in that remote 
place. No. I lost the beloved figure of my vision in 
parting with the secret. My sleep has never looked 
upon it since, in sixteen years, but once. I was in 
Italy, and awoke (or seemed to awake), the well- 
remembered voice distinctly in my ears, conversing 
with it. I entreated it, as it rose above my bed and 
soared up to the vaulted roof of the old room, to 
answer me a question I had asked touching the Future 
Life. My hands were still outstretched towards it as 
it vanished, when I heard a bell ringing by the garden 
wall, and a voice in the deep stillness of the night 
calling on all good Christians to pray for the souls of 
the dead ; it being All Souls' Eve. 

To return to the Holly-Tree. When I awoke next 
day, it was freezing hard, and the lowering sky threat- 
ened more snow. My breakfast cleared away, I 
drew my chair into its former place, and, with the fire 
getting so much the better of the landscape that I sat 
in twilight, resumed my Inn remembrances. 

That was a good Inn down in Wiltshire where I 
put up once, in the days of the hard Wiltshire ale, 
and before all beer was bitterness. It was on the 
skirts of Salisbury Plain, and the midnight wind that 
rattled my lattice window came moaning at me from 
Stonehenge. There was a hanger-on at that establish- 
ment (a supernaturally preserved Druid I believe him 
to have been, and to be still), with long white hair, and 
a flinty blue eye always looking afar off ; who claimed 
to have been a shepherd, and who seemed to be ever 
watching fo^ the reappearance, on the verge of the 
horizon, of some ghostly flock of sheep that had been 
mutton for many ages. He was a man with a weird 
belief in him that no one could count the stones of 
Stonehenge twice, and make the same number of 
them ; likewise, that any one who counted them 
three times nine times, and then stood in the centre 
and said, ' I dare ! ' would behold a tremendous 



122 CHARLES DICKENS 

apparition, and be stricken dead. He pretended to 
have seen a bustard (I suspect him to have been 
familiar with the dodo), in manner following : He was 
out upon the plain at the close of a late autumn day, 
when he dimly discerned, going on before him at a 
curious fitfully bounding pace, what he at first sup- 
posed to be a gig-umbrella that had been blown from 
some conveyance, but what he presently believed to 
be a lean dwarf man upon a little pony. Having 
followed this object for some distance without gaining 
on it, and having called to it many times without 
receiving any answer, he pursued it for miles and 
miles, when, at length coming up with it, he dis- 
covered it to be the last bustard in Great Britain, 
degenerated into a wingless state, and running along 
the ground. Resolved to capture him or perish in the 
attempt, he closed with the bustard ; but the bustard, 
who had formed a counter-resolution that he should 
do neither, threw him, stunned him, and was last seen 
making off due west. This weird man, at that stage 
of metempsychosis, may have been a sleep-walker or 
an enthusiast or a robber ; but I awoke one night to 
find him in the dark at my bedside, repeating the 
Athanasian Creed in a terrific voice. I paid my bill 
next day, and retired from the county with all pos- 
sible precipitation. 

That was not a commonplace story which worked 
itself out at a little Inn in Switzerland, while I was 
staying there. It was a very homely place, in a village 
of one narrow zigzag street, among mountains, and you 
went in at the main door through the cow-house, and 
among the mules and the dogs and the fowls, before 
ascending a great bare staircase to the rooms ; which 
were all of unpainted wood, without plastering or 
papering, like rough packing-cases. Outside there 
was nothing but the straggling street, a little toy church 
with a copper-coloured steeple, a pine forest, a torrent, 
mists, and mountain sides. A young man belonging 



THE HOLLY-TREE 123 

to this Inn had disappeared eight weeks before (it 
was winter-time), and was supposed to have had some 
undiscovered love affair, and to have gone for a soldier. 
He had got up in the night, and dropped into the 
village street from the loft in which he slept with 
another man ; and he had done it so quietly, that his 
companion and fellow-labourer had heard no movement 
when he was awakened in the morning, and they said, 
' Louis, where is Henri ? ' They looked for him high 
and low, in vain, and gave him up. Now, outside this 
Inn, there stood, as there stood outside every dwelling 
in the village, a stack of firewood ; but the stack 
belonging to the Inn was higher than any of the rest, 
because the Inn was the richest house, and burnt the 
most fuel. It began to be noticed, while they were 
looking high and low, that a Bantam cock, part of the 
live stock of the Inn, put himself wonderfully out of his 
way to get to the top of this wood- stack ; and that he 
would stay there for hours and hours, crowing, until 
he appeared in danger of splitting himself. Five weeks 
went on, six weeks, and still this terrible Bantam, 
neglecting his domestic affairs, was always on the top 
of the wood-stack, crowing the very eyes out of his 
head. By this time it was perceived that Louis had 
become inspired with a violent animosity towards the 
terrible Bantam, and one morning he was seen by a 
woman, who sat nursing her goitre at a little window 
in a gleam of sun, to catch up a rough billet of wood, 
with a great oath, hurl it at the terrible Bantam crowing 
on the wood-stack, and bring him down dead. Here- 
upon the woman, with a sudden light in her mind, stole 
round to the back of the wood-stack, and, being a good 
climber, as all those women are, climbed up, and soon 
was seen upon the summit, screaming, looking down the 
hollow within, and crying, ' Seize Louis, the murderer ! 
Ring the church bell ! Here is the body ! ' I saw the 
murderer that day, and I saw him as I sat by my fire at 
the Holly-Tree Inn, and I see him now, lying sha,ckled 



124 CHARLES DICKENS 

with cords on the stable litter, among the mild eyes and 
the smoking breath of the cows, waiting to be taken 
away by the police, and stared at by the fearful village. 
A heavy animal, the dullest animal in the stables, 
with a stupid head, and a lumpish face devoid of any 
trace of sensibility, who had been, within the knowledge 
of the murdered youth, an embezzler of certain small 
moneys belonging to his master, and who had taken 
this hopeful mode of putting a possible accuser out of 
his way. All of which he confessed next day, like a 
sulky wretch who couldn't be troubled any more, 
now that they had got hold of him, and meant to 
make an end of him. I saw him once again, on the 
day of my departure from the Inn. In that Canton 
the headsman still does his office with a sword ; and 
I came upon this murderer sitting bound to a chair, 
with his eyes bandaged, on a scaffold in a little market- 
place. In that instant, a great sword (loaded with 
quicksilver in the thick part of the blade) swept round 
him like a gust of wind or fire, and there was no such 
creature in the world. My wonder was, not that he 
was so suddenly dispatched, but that any head was left 
unreaped, within a radius of fifty yards of that tre- 
mendous sickle. 

That w r as a good Inn, too, with the kind, cheerful 
landlady and the honest landlord, where I lived in the 
shadow of Mont Blanc, and where one of the apart- 
ments has a zoological papering on the walls, not so 
accurately joined but that the elephant occasionally 
rejoices in a tiger's hind legs and tail, while the lion puts 
on a trunk and tusks, and the bear, moulting as it were, 
appears as to portions of himself like a leopard. I made 
several American friends at that Inn, who all called 
Mont Blanc Mount Blank, except one good-humoured 
gentleman, of a very sociable nature, who became on 
such intimate terms with it that he spoke of it familiarly 
as * Blank ' ; observing, at breakfast, ' Blank looks 
pretty tall this morning ' ; or considerably doubting in 



THE HOLLY-TREE 125 

the courtyard in the evening, whether there warn't 
some go-ahead naters in our country, Sir, that would 
make out the top of Blank in a couple of hours from the 
first start now ! 

Once I passed a fortnight at an Inn in the North of 
England, where I was haunted by the ghost of a tre- 
mendous pie. It was a Yorkshire pie, like a fort, an 
abandoned fort with nothing in it ; but the waiter had 
a fixed idea that it was a point of ceremony at every 
meal to put the pie on the table. After some days I 
tried to hint, in several delicate ways, that I considered 
the pie done with ; as, for example, by emptying fag- 
ends of glasses of wine into it ; putting cheese-plates 
and spoons into it, as into a basket ; putting wine- 
bottles into it, as into a cooler ; but always in vain, 
the pie being invariably cleaned out again and brought 
up as before. At last, beginning to be doubtful 
whether I was not the victim of a spectral illusion, and 
whether my health and spirits might not sink under 
the horrors of an imaginary pie, I cut a triangle out of 
it, fully as large as the musical instrument of that name 
in a powerful orchestra. Human prevision could not 
have foreseen the result but the waiter mended the 
pie. With some effectual species of cement, he adroitly 
fitted the triangle in again, and I paid my reckoning 
and fled. 

The Holly-Tree was getting rather dismal. I made 
an overland expedition beyond the screen, and pene- 
trated as far as the fourth window. Here I was driven 
back by stress of weather. Arrived at my winter- 
quarters once more, I made up the fire, and took 
another Inn. 

It was in the remotest part of Cornwall. A great 
annual Miners' Feast was being holden at the Inn, when 
I and my travelling companions presented ourselves at 
night among the wild crowd that were dancing before 
it by torchlight. We had had a break-down in the 
dark, on a stony morass some miles away ; and I had 



126 CHARLES DICKENS 

the honour of leading one of the unharnessed post- 
horses. If any lady or gentleman, on perusal of the 
present lines, will take any very tall post-horse with his 
traces hanging about his legs, and will conduct him by 
the bearing-rein into the heart of a country dance of a 
hundred and fifty couples, that lady or gentleman will 
then, and only then, form an adequate idea of the extent 
to which that post-horse will tread on his conductor's 
toes. Over and above which, the post-horse, finding 
three hundred people whirling about him, will probably 
rear, and also lash out with his hind legs, in a manner 
incompatible with dignity or self-respect on his con- 
ductor's part. With such little drawbacks on my 
usually impressive aspect, I appeared at this Cornish 
Inn, to the unutterable wonder of the Cornish Miners. 
It was full, and twenty times full, and nobody could be 
received but the post-horse, though to get rid of that 
noble animal was something. While my fellow- 
travellers and I were discussing how to pass the night 
and so much of the next day as must intervene before 
the jovial blacksmith and the jovial wheelwright would 
be in a condition to go out on the morass and mend the 
coach, an honest man stepped forth from the crowd 
and proposed his unlet floor of two rooms, with supper 
of eggs and bacon, ale and punch. We joyfully 
accompanied him home to the strangest of clean houses, 
where we were well entertained to the satisfaction of 
all parties. But the novel feature of the entertainment 
was, that our host was a chairmaker, and that the chairs 
assigned to us were mere frames, altogether without 
bottoms of any sort ; so that we passed the evening 
on perches. Nor was this the absurdest consequence ; 
for when we unbent at supper, and any one of us 
gave way to laughter, he forgot the peculiarity of 
his position, and instantly disappeared. I myself, 
doubled up into an attitude from which self -extrication 
was impossible, was taken out of my frame, like a 
clown in a comic pantomime who has tumbled into a 



THE HOLLY-TREE 127 

tub, five times by the taper's light during the eggs 
and bacon. 

The Holly-Tree was fast reviving within me a sense 
of loneliness. I began to feel conscious that my subject 
would never carry on until I was dug out. I might be 
a week here, weeks ! 

There was a story with a single idea in it, connected 
with an Inn I once passed a night at in a picturesque 
old town on the Welsh border. In a large double- 
bedded room of this Inn there had been a suicide com- 
mitted by poison, in one bed, while a tired traveller 
slept unconscious in the other. After that time, the 
suicide bed was never used, but the other constantly 
was ; the disused bedstead remaining in the room 
empty, though as to all other respects in its old state. 
The story ran, that whosoever slept in this room, 
though never so entire a stranger, from never so far off, 
was invariably observed to come down in the morning 
with an impression that he smelt Laudanum, and that 
his mind always turned upon the subject of suicide ; 
to which, whatever kind of man he might be, he was 
certain to make some reference if he conversed with 
anyone. This went on for years, until it at length 
induced the landlord to take the disused bedstead down, 
and bodily burn it, bed, hangings, and all. The 
strange influence (this was the story) now changed to a 
fainter one, but never changed afterwards. The 
occupant of that room, with occasional but very rare 
exceptions, would come down in the morning, trying to 
recall a forgotten dream he had had in the night. The 
landlord, on his mentioning his perplexity, would 
suggest various commonplace subjects, not one of 
which, as he very well knew, was the true subject. 
But the moment the landlord suggested ' Poison,' the 
traveller started, and cried, * Yes ! ' He never failed 
to accept that suggestion, and he never recalled any 
more of his dream. 

This reminiscence brought the Welsh Inns in general 



128 CHARLES DICKENS 

before me ; with the women in their round hats, and 
the harpers with their white beards (venerable, but 
humbugs, I am afraid), playing outside the door while 
I took my dinner. The transition was natural to the 
Highland Inns, with the oatmeal bannocks, the honey, 
the venison steaks, the trout from the loch, the whisky, 
and perhaps (having the materials so temptingly at 
hand) the Athol brose. Once was I coming south from 
the Scottish Highlands in hot haste, hoping to change 
quickly at the station at the bottom of a certain wild 
historical glen, when these eyes did with mortification 
see the landlord come out with a telescope and sweep 
the whole prospect for the horses ; which horses were 
away picking up their own living, and did not heave in 
sight under four hours. Having thought of the loch- 
trout, I was taken by quick association to the Anglers' 
Inns of England (I have assisted at innumerable feats 
of angling by lying in the bottom of the boat, whole 
summer days, doing nothing with the greatest perse- 
verance ; which I have generally found to be as effectual 
towards the taking of fish as the finest tackle and the 
utmost science), and to the pleasant white, clean, 
flower- pot- decorated bedrooms of those inns, overlook- 
ing the river, and the ferry, and the green ait, and the 
church- spire, and the country bridge ; and to the 
peerless Emma with the bright eyes and the pretty 
smile, who waited, bless her ! with a natural grace that 
would have converted Blue- Beard. Casting my eyes 
upon my Holly-Tree fire, I next discerned among the 
glowing coals the pictures of a score or more of those 
wonderful English posting-inns which we are all so 
sorry to have lost, which were so large and so comfort- 
able, and which were such monuments of British 
submission to rapacity and extortion. He who would 
see these houses pining away, let him walk from Basing- 
stoke, or even Windsor, to London, by way of 
Hounslow, and moralize on their perishing remains ; 
the stables crumbling to dust ; unsettled labourers and 



THE HOLLY-TREE 129 

wanderers bivouacking in the outhouses ; grass growing 
in the yards ; the rooms, where erst so many hundred 
beds of down were made up, let off to Irish lodgers at 
eighteenpence a week ; a little ill-looking beer- shop 
shrinking in the tap of former days, burning coach- 
house gates for firewood, having one of its two windows 
bunged up, as if it had received punishment in a fight 
with the Railroad ; a low, bandy-legged, brick-making 
bulldog standing in the doorway. What could I next 
see in my fire so naturally as the new railway-house of 
these times near the dismal country station ; with 
nothing particular on draught but cold air and damp, 
nothing worth mentioning in the larder but new mortar, 
and no business doing beyond a conceited affectation of 
luggage in the hall ? Then I came to the Inns of Paris, 
with the pretty apartment of four pieces up one hundred 
and seventy -five waxed stairs, the privilege of ringing 
the bell all day long without influencing anybody's 
mind or body but your own, and the not-too-much-for- 
dinner, considering the price. Next, to the provincial 
Inns of France, with the great church-tower rising 
above the courtyard, the horse-bells jingling merrily up 
and down the street beyond, and the clocks of all 
descriptions in all the rooms, which are never right, 
unless taken at the precise minute when, by getting 
exactly twelve hours too fast or too slow, they uninten- 
tionally become so. Away I went, next, to the lesser 
roadside Inns of Italy ; where all the dirty clothes in 
the house (not in wear) are always lying in your ante- 
room ; where the mosquitoes make a raisin pudding of 
your face in summer, and the cold bites it blue in winter ; 
where you get what you can, and forget what you can't ; 
where I should again like to be boiling my tea in a 
pocket-handkerchief dumpling, for want of a teapot. 
So to the old palace Inns and old monastery Inns, in 
towns and cities of the same bright country ; with 
their massive quadrangular staircases, whence you may 
look from among clustering pillars high into the blue 

228 v 



130 CHARLES DICKENS 

vault of heaven ; with their stately banqueting-rooms, 
and vast refectories ; with their labyrinths of ghostly 
bedchambers, and their glimpses into gorgeous streets 
that have no appearance of reality or possibility. So 
to the close little Inns of the Malaria districts, with their 
pale attendants, and their peculiar smell of never letting 
in the air. So to the immense, fantastic Inns of Venice, 
with the cry of the gondolier below, as he skims the 
corner ; the grip of the watery odours on one particular 
little bit of the bridge of your nose (which is never 
released while you stay there) ; and the great bell of 
St. Mark's Cathedral tolling midnight. Next I put up 
for a minute at the restless Inns upon the Rhine, where 
your going to bed, no matter at what hour, appears to 
be the tocsin for everybody else's getting up ; and 
where, in the table-d'hote room at the end of the long 
table (with several Towers of Babel on it at the other 
end, all made of white plates), oneknot of stoutish men, 
entirely dressed in jewels and dirt, and having nothing 
else upon them, will remain all night, clinking glasses, 
and singing about the river that flows, and the grape 
that grows, and Rhine wine that beguiles, and Rhine 
woman that smiles and hi drink drink my friend and ho 
drink drink my brother, and all the rest of it. I 
departed thence, as a matter of course, to other German 
Inns, where all the eatables are sodden down to the 
same flavour, and where the mind is disturbed by the 
apparition of hot puddings, and boiled cherries, sweet 
and slab, at awfully unexpected periods of the repast. 
After a draught of sparkling beer from a foaming glass 
jug, and a glance of recognition through the windows 
of the student beer-houses at Heidelberg and elsewhere, 
I put out to sea for the Inns of America, with their four 
hundred beds apiece, and their eight or nine hundred 
ladies and gentlemen at dinner every day. Again I 
stood in the bar-rooms thereof, taking my evening 
cobbler, julep, sling, "or cocktail. Again I listened to 
my friend the General, whom I had known for five 



THE HOLLY-TREE 131 

minutes, in the course of which period he had made me 
intimate for life with two Majors, who again had made 
me intimate for life with three Colonels, who again had 
made me brother to twenty-two civilians, again, I 
say, I listened to my friend the General, leisurely 
expounding the resources of the establishment, as to 
gentlemen's morning-room, Sir ; ladies' morning-room, 
Sir ; gentlemen's evening-room, Sir ; ladies' evening- 
room, Sir ; ladies' and gentlemen's evening reuniting- 
room, Sir ; music-room, Sir ; reading-room, Sir ; over 
four hundred sleeping-rooms, Sir ; and the entire 
planned and finished within twelve calendar months 
from the first clearing off of the old encumbrances on 
the plot, at a cost of five hundred thousand dollars, Sir. 
Again I found, as to my individual way of thinking, 
that the greater, the more gorgeous, and the more 
dollarous the establishment was, the less desirable it 
was. Nevertheless, again I drank my cobbler, julep, 
sling, or cocktail, in all good-will, to my friend the 
General, and my friends the Majors, Colonels, and 
civilians all ; full well knowing that, whatever little 
motes my beamy eyes may have descried in .theirs, they 
belong to a kind, generous, large-hearted, and great 
people. 

I had been going on lately at a quick pace to keep my 
solitude out of my mind ; but here I broke down for 
good, and gave up the subject. What was I to do ? 
What was to become of me ? Into what extremity was 
I submissively to sink ? Supposing that, like Baron 
Trenck, I looked out for a mouse or spider, and found 
one, and beguiled my imprisonment by training it ? 
Even that might be dangerous with a view to the future. 
I might be so far gone when the^road did come to be 
cut through the snow, that, on my way forth, I might 
burst into tears, and beseech, like the prisoner who was 
released in his old age from the Bastille, to be taken 
back again to the five windows, the ten curtains, and 
the sinuous drapery. 



132 CHARLES DICKENS 

A desperate idea came into my head. Under any 
other circumstances I should have rejected it ; but, in 
the strait at which I was, I held it fast. Could I so far 
overcome the inherent bashfulness which withheld me 
from the landlord's table and the company I might find 
there, as to call up the Boots, and ask him to take a 
chair, and something in a liquid form, and talk to 
me ? I could. I would. I did. 



SECOND BRANCH 

THE BOOTS 

WHERE had he been in his time ? he repeated, when 
I asked him the question. Lord, he had been every- 
where ! And what had he been ? Bless you, he had 
been everything you could mention a' most ! 

Seen a good deal ? Why, of course he had. I should 
say so, he could assure me, if I only knew about a twen- 
tieth part of what had come in his way. Why, it 
would be easier for him, he expected, to tell what he 
hadn't seen than what he had. Ah ! A deal, it would. 

What was the curiousest thing he had seen ? Well ! 
He didn't know. He couldn't momently name what 
was the curiousest thing he had seen, unless it was a 
Unicorn, and he see him once at a Fair. But sup- 
posing a young gentleman not eight year old was to run 
away with a fine young woman of seven, might I think 
that a queer start ? Certainly. Then that was a start 
as he himself had had his blessed eyes on, and he had 
cleaned the shoes they run away in and they was so 
little he couldn't get his hands into 'em. 

Master Harry Walmers' father, you see, he lived at 
the Elmses, down away by Shooter's Hill there, six or 
seven miles from Lunnon. He was a gentleman of 
spirit, and good-looking, and held his head up when he 
walked, and had what you may call Fire about him. 
He wrote poetry, and he rode, and he ran, and he 



THE HOLLY-TREE 133 

cricketed, and he danced, and he acted, and he done it 
all equally beautiful. He was uncommon proud . of 
Master Harry as was his only child ; but he didn't spoil 
him neither. He was a gentleman that had a will of 
his own and a eye of his own, and that would be minded. 
Consequently, though he made quite a companion of the 
fine bright boy, and was delighted to see him so fond 
of reading his fairy books, and was never tired of 
hearing him say My name is Norval, or hear him sing 
his songs about Young May Moons is beaming love, 
and When he as adores thee has left but the name, and 
that ; still he kept the command over the child, and 
the child was a child, and it's to be wished more of 'em 
was ! 

How did Boots happen to know all this ? Why, 
through being under-gardener. Of course he couldn't 
be under-gardener, and be always about, in the summer- 
time, near the windows on the lawn, a-mowing, and 
sweeping, and weeding, and pruning, and this and that, 
without getting acquainted with the ways of the family. 
Even supposing Master Harry hadn't come to him one 
morning early, and said, ' Cobbs, how should you spell 
Norah, if you was asked ? ' and then began cutting it 
in print all over the fence. 

He couldn't say he had taken particular notice of 
children before that ; but really it was pretty to see 
them two mites a-going about the place together, deep 
in love. And the courage of the boy ! Bless your 
soul, he'd have throwed off his little hat, and tucked 
up his little sleeves, and gone in at a Lion, he would, 
if they had happened to meet one, and she had been 
frightened of him. One day he stops, along with her, 
where Boots was hoeing weeds in the gravel, and says, 
speaking up, ' Cobb,' he says, ' I like you' * Do you, 
Sir ? I'm proud to hear it.' ' Yes, I do, Cobbs. Why 
do I like you, do you think, Cobbs ? ' ' Don't know, 
Master Harry, I am sure.' t Because Norah likes you, 
Cobbs.' ' Indeed, Sir ? That's very gratifying.' 



134 CHARLES DICKENS 

4 Gratifying, Cobbs ? It's better than millions of the 
brightest diamonds to be liked by Norah.' ' Certainly, 
Sir.' ' You're going away, ain't you, Cobbs ? ' ' Yes, 
Sir.' * Would you like another situation, Cobbs ? ' 
' Well, Sir, I shouldn't object, if it was a good 'un.' 
' Then, Cobbs,' says he, ' you shall be our Head 
Gardener when we are married.' And he tucks her, in 
her little sky-blue mantle, under his arm, and walks 
away. 

Boots could assure me that it was better than a picter, 
and equal to a play, to see them babies, with their long, 
bright, curling hair, their sparkling eyes, and their 
beautiful light tread, a rambling about the garden, 
deep in love. Boots was of opinion that the birds 
\believed they was birds, and kept up with 'em, singing 
to please 'em. Sometimes they would creep under 
the Tulip-tree, and would sit there with their arms 
round one another's necks, and their soft cheeks 
touching, a-reading about the Prince and the Dragon, 
and the good and bad enchanters, and the king's fair 
daughter. Sometimes he would hear them planning 
about having a house in a forest, keeping bees and a 
cow, and living entirely on milk and honey. Once he 
came upon them by the pond, and heard Master Harry 
say, ' Adorable Norah, kiss me, and say you love me to 
distraction, or I'll jump in head-foremost.' And Boots 
made no question he would have done it if she hadn't 
complied. On the whole, Boots said it had a tendency 
to make him feel as if he was in love himself only he 
didn't exactly know who with. 

1 Cobbs,' said Master Harry, one evening, when 
Cobbs was watering the flowers, ' I am going on a visit, 
this present Midsummer, to my grandmamma's at 
York.' 

' Are you indeed, Sir ? I hope you'll have a pleasant 
time. I am going into Yorkshire myself, when I leave 
here.' 

' Are you going to your grandmamma's, Cobbs ? ' 



THE HOLLY-TREE 135 

* No, Sir. I haven't got such a thing.' 
' Not as a grandmamma, Cobbs ? ' 

1 No, Sir.' 

The boy looked on at the watering of the flowers for 
a little while, and then said, ' I shall be very glad 
indeed to go, Cobbs, Norah's going.' 

' You'll be all right then, Sir,' says Cobbs, ' with 
your beautiful sweetheart by your side.' 

' Cobbs,' returned the boy, flushing, ' I never let 
anybody joke about it, when I can prevent them.' 

' It wasn't a joke, Sir,' says Cobbs, with humility,- 
* wasn't so meant.' 

' I am glad of that, Cobbs, because I like you, you 
know, and you're going to live with us. Cobbs ! ' 

' Sir.' 

' What do you think my grandmamma gives me 
when I go down there ? ' 

' I couldn't so much as make a guess, Sir.' 

* A Bank of England five-pound note, Cobbs.' 

' Whew ! ' says Cobbs, ' that's a spanking sum of 
money, Master Harry.' 

1 A person could do a good deal with such a sum of 
money as that, couldn't a person, Cobbs ? ' 

' I believe you, Sir ! ' 

c Cobbs,' said the boy, * I'll tell you a secret. At 
Norah's house, they have been joking her about me, 
and pretending to laugh at our being engaged, 
pretending to make game of it, Cobbs ! ' 

' Such, Sir,' says Cobbs, * is the depravity of human 
natur.' 

The boy, looking exactly like his father, stood for a 
few minutes with his glowing face towards the sunset, 
and then departed with, ' Good-night, Cobbs. I'm 
going in.' 

If I was to ask Boots how it happened that he was 
a-going to leave that place just at that present time, 
well, he couldn't rightly answer me. He did suppose he 
might have stayed there till now if he had been anyways 



136 CHARLES DICKENS 

inclined: But, you see, he was younger then, and he 
wanted change. That's what he wanted, change. 
Mr. Walmers, he said to him when he gave him notice 
of his intentions to leave, ' Cobbs,' he says, ' have you 
anythink to complain of ? I make the inquiry because 
if I find that any of my people really has anythink to 
complain of, I wish to make it right if I can.' ' No, 
'Sir, says Cobbs ; ' thanking you, Sir, I find myself as 
well sitiwated here as I could hope to be anywheres. 
The truth is, Sir, that I am a-going to seek my fortun'.' 
1 O, indeed, Cobbs ! ' he says ; ' I hope you may find 
it.' And Boots could assure me which he did, touch- 
ing his hair with his bootjack, as a salute in the way of 
his present calling that he hadn't found it yet. 

Well, Sir ! Boots left the Elmses when his time was 
up, and Master Harry, he went down to the old lady's 
at York, which old lady would have given that child 
the teeth out of her head (if she had had any), she was 
so wrapped up in him. What does that Infant do, 
for Infant you may call him and be within the mark, 
but cut away from that old lady's with his Norah, on 
a expedition to go to Gretna Green and be married ! 

Sir, Boots was at this identical Holly- Tree Inn 
(having left it several times since to better himself, but 
always come back through one thing or another), when, 
one summer afternoon, the coach drives up, and out of 
the coach gets them two children. The Guard says to 
our Governor, ' I don't quite make out these little 
passengers, but the young gentleman's words was, that 
they was to be brought here.' The young gentleman 
gets out ; hands his lady out ; gives the Guard some- 
thing for himself ; says to our Governor, ' We're to 
stop here to-night, please. Sitting-room and two 
bedrooms will be required. Chops and cherry-pudding 
for two ! ' and tucks her, in her little sky-blue mantle, 
under his arm, and walks into the house much bolder 
than Brass. 

Boots leaves me to judge what the amazement of 



THE HOLLY-TREE 137 

that establishment was, when these two tiny creatures 
all alone by themselves was marched into the Angel, 
much more so, when he, who had seen them without 
their seeing him, give the Governor his views of the 
expedition they was upon. ' Cobbs,' says the Governor, 
' if this is so, I must set off myself to York, and quiet 
their friends' minds. In which case you must keep 
your eye upon 'em, and humour 'em, till I come back. 
But before I take these measures, Cobbs, I should wish 
you to find from themselves whether your opinion is 
correct. ' Sir, to you,' says Cobbs, ' that shall be done 
directly.' 

So Boots goes upstairs to the Angel, and there he 
finds Master Harry on a e-normous sofa, immense at 
any time, but looking like the Great Bed of Ware, 
compared with him, a-drying the eyes of Miss Norah 
with his pocket-hankecher. Their little legs was entirely 
off the ground, of course, and it really is not possible for 
Boots to express to me how small them children looked. 

' It's Cobbs ! It's Cobbs ! ' cried Master Harry, and 
comes running to him, and catching hold of his hand. 
Miss Norah comes running to him on t'other side and 
catching hold of his t'other hand, and tj^ey both jump 
for joy. 

' I see you a-getting out, Sir,' says Cobbs, ' I 
thought it was you. I thought I couldn't be mistaken 
in your height and your figure. What's the object of 
your journey, Sir ? Matrimonial ? ' 

' We are going to be married, Cobbs, at Gretna 
Green,' returned the boy. ' We have run away on 
purpose. Norah has been in rather low spirits, Cobbs ; 
but she'll be happy, now we have found you to be our 
friend.' 

' Thank you, Sir, and thank you, Miss,' says Cobbs, 
'for your good opinion. Did you bring any luggage 
with you, Sir ? ' 

If I will believe Boots when he gives me his word and 
honour upon it, the lady had got a parasol, a smelling- 



138 CHARLES DICKENS 

bottle, a round and a half of cold buttered toast, eight 
pepper mint drops, and a hair-brush, seemingly a doll's. 
The gentleman had got about half-a-dozen yards of 
string, a knife, three or four sheets of writing-paper 
folded up surprising small, a orange, and a Chaney mug 
with his name upon it. 

1 What may be the exact natur' of your plans, Sir ? ' 
says Cobbs. 

* To go on,' replied the boy, which the courage of 
that boy was something wonderful ! ' in the morning, 
and be married to-morrow.' 

' Just so, Sir,' says Cobbs. ' Would it meet your 
views, Sir, if I was to accompany you ? ' 

When Cobbs said this, they both jumped for joy 
again, and cried out, ' Oh, yes, yes, Cobbs ! Yes ! ' 

' Well, Sir,' says Cobbs. ' If you will excuse my 
having the freedom to give an opinion, what I should 
recommend would be this. I'm acquainted with a 
pony, Sir, which, put in a pheayton that I could borrow, 
would take you and Mrs. Harry Walmers, Junior, 
(myself driving, if you approved,) to the end of your 
journey in a very short space of time. I am not 
altogether sure, Sir, that this pony will be at liberty 
to-morrow, but even if you had to wait over to-morrow 
for him, it might be worth your while. As to the small 
account here, Sir, in case you was to find yourself 
running at all short, that don't signify ; because I'm a 
part proprietor of this inn, and it could stand over.' 

Boots assures me that when they clapped their hands, 
and jumped for joy again, and called him ' Good Cobbs ! ' 
and * Dear Cobbs ! ' and bent across him to kiss one 
another in the delight of their confiding hearts, he felt 
himself the meanest rascal for deceiving 'em that was 
ever born. 

1 Is there anything you want just at present, Sir ? ' 
says Cobbs, mortally ashamed of himself. 

' We should like some cakes after dinner,' answered 
Master Harry, folding his arms, putting out one leg, 



THE HOLLY-TREE 139 

and looking straight at him, ' and two apples, and 
jam. With dinner we should like to have toast-and- 
water. But Norah has always been accustomed to 
half a glass of currant wine at dessert. And so 
have I.' 

' It shall be ordered at the bar, Sir,' says Cobbs ; and 
away he went. 

Boots has the feeling as fresh upon him at this minute 
of speaking as he had then, that he would far rather 
have had it out in half-a-dozen rounds with the 
Governor than have combined with him ; and that he 
wished with all his heart there was any impossible place 
where those two babies could make an impossible 
marriage, and live impossibly happy ever afterwards. 
However, as it couldn't be, he went into the Governor's 
plans, and the Governor set off for York in half-an-hour. 

The way in which the women of that house without 
exception every one of 'em married and single 
took to that boy when they heard the story, Boots 
considers surprising. It was as much as he could do 
to keep 'em from dashing into the room and kissing 
him. They climbed up all sorts of places, at the risk 
of their lives, to look at him through a pane of glass. 
They was seven deep at the keyhole. They was out of 
their minds about him and his bold spirit. 

In the evening, Boots went into the room to see how 
the runaway couple was getting on. The gentleman 
was on the window-seat, supporting the lady in his 
arms. She had tears upon her face, and was lying, 
very tired and half asleep, with her head upon his 
shoulder. 

' Mrs. Harry Walmers, Junior, fatigued, Sir ? ' says 
Cobbs. 

' Yes, she is tired, Cobbs ; but she is not used to be 
away from home, and she has been in low spirits again. 
Cobbs, do you think you could bring a biffin, please ? ' 

' I ask your pardon, Sir,' says Cobbs. ' What was 
it you ? ' 



140 CHARLES DICKENS 

' I think a Norfolk biffin would rouse her, Cobbs. 
She is very fond of them.' 

Boots withdrew in search of the required restorative, 
and, when he brought it in, the gentleman handed it 
to the lady, and fed her with a spoon, and took a little 
himself ; the lady being heavy with sleep, and rather 
cross. ' What should you think, Sir,' says Cobbs, ' of 
a chamber candlestick ? ' The gentleman approved ; 
the chambermaid went first, up the great staircase ; 
the lady, in her sky-blue mantle, followed, gallantly 
escorted by the gentleman ; the gentleman embraced 
her at her door, and retired to his own apartment, 
where Boots softly locked him up. 

Boots couldn't but feel with increased acuteness 
what a base deceiver he was, when they consulted him 
at breakfast (they had ordered sweet milk-and-water, 
and toast and currant jelly, overnight) about the pony. 
It really was as much as he could do, he don't mind 
confessing to me, to look them two young things in the 
face, and think what a wicked old father of lies he had 
grown up to be. Howsomever, he went on a-lying like 
a Trojan about the pony. He told 'em that it did so 
unfort'nately happen that the pony was half clipped, 
you see, and that he couldn't be taken out in that state, 
for fear it should strike to his inside. But that he'd be 
finished clipping in the course of the day, and that to- 
morrow morning at eight o'clock the pheayton would be 
ready. Boots's view of the whole case, looking back on 
it in my room, is, that Mrs. Harry Walmers, Junior, 
was beginning to give in. She hadn't had her hair 
curled when she went to bed, and she didn't seem quite 
up to brushing it herself, and its getting in her eyes put 
her out. But nothing put out Master Harry. He sat 
behind his breakfast-cup, a-tearing away at the jelly, 
as if he had been his own father. 

After breakfast, Boots is inclined to consider that 
they drawed soldiers, at least, he knows that many 
such was found in the fireplace, all on horseback. In 



THE HOLLY-TREE 141 

the course of the morning, Master Harry rang the bell, 
it was surprising how that there boy did carry on, and 
said, in a sprightly way, ' Cobbs, is there any good walks 
in this neighbourhood ? ' 

' Yes, Sir,' says Cobbs. ' There's Love-lane.' 

' Get out with you, Cobbs ! ' that was that there 
boy's expression, ' you're joking.' 

' Begging your pardon, Sir,' says Cobbs, ' there really 
is Love-lane. And a pleasant walk it is, and proud 
shall I be to show it to yourself and Mrs. Harry 
Walmers, Junior.' 

' Norah, dear,' said Master Harry, ' this is curious. 
We really ought to see Love-lane. Put on your bonnet, 
my sweetest darling, and we will go there with Cobbs.' 

Boots leaves me to judge what a Beast he felt himself 
to be, when that young pair told him, as they all three 
jogged along together, that they had made up their 
minds to give him two thousand guineas a year as head- 
gardener, on accounts of his being so true a friend to 
'em. Boots could have wished at the moment that the 
earth would have opened and swallowed him up, he 
felt so mean, with their beaming eyes a -looking at him, 
and believing him. Well, Sir, he turned the conversa- 
tion as well as he could, and he took 'em down Love- 
lane to the water-meadows, and there Master Harry 
would have drowned himself in half a moment more, 
a-getting out a water-lily for her, but nothing daunted 
that boy. Well, Sir, they was tired out. All being so 
new and strange to 'em, they was tired as tired could 
be. And they laid down on a bank of daisies, like the 
children in the wood, leastways meadows, and fell 



Boots don't know perhaps I do, but never mind, 
it don't signify either way why it made a man fit to 
make a fool of himself to see them two pretty babies 
a-lying there in the clear still sunny day, not dreaming 
half so hard when they was asleep as they done when 
they was awake. But Lord ! when you come to think 



142 CHARLES DICKENS 

of yourself, you know, and what a game you have been 
up to ever since you was in your own cradle, and what 
a poor sort of a chap you are, and how it's always either 
Yesterday with you, or else To-morrow, and never 
To-day, that's where it is ! 

Well, Sir, they woke up at last, and then one thing 
was getting pretty clear to Boots, namely, that Mrs. 
Harry Walrnerses, Junior's, temper was on the move. 
When Master Harry took her round the waist, she said 
he ' teased her so ' ; and when he says, ' Norah, my 
young May Moon, your Harry tease you ? ' she tells 
him, ' Yes ; and I want to go home ! ' 

A biled fowl, and baked bread-and-butter pudding, 
brought Mrs. Walmers up a little ; but Boots could 
have wished, he must privately own to me, to have seen 
her more sensible of the woice of love, and less abandon- 
ing of herself to currants. However, Master Harry, 
he kept up, and his noble heart was as fond as ever. 
Mrs. Walmers turned very sleepy about dusk, and began 
to cry. Therefore, Mrs. Walmers went off to bed as 
per yesterday ; and Master Harry ditto repeated. 

About eleven or twelve at night comes back the 
Governor in a chaise, along with Mr. Walmers and a 
elderly lady. Mr. Walmers looks amused and very 
serious, both at once, and says to our missis, ' We are 
much indebted to you, ma'am, for your kind care of 
our little children, which we can never sufficiently 
acknowledge. Pray, ma'am, where is my boy ? ' Our 
missis says, ' Cobbs has the dear child in charge, Sir. 
Cobbs, show Forty ! ' Then he says to Cobbs, ' Ah, 
Cobbs, I am glad to see you ! I understood you was 
here ! ' And Cobbs says, ' Yes, Sir. Your most 
obedient, Sir.' 

I may be surprised to hear Boots say it, perhaps ; but 
Boots assures me that his heart beat like a hammer, 
going upstairs. ' I beg your pardon, Sir,' says he, 
while unlocking the door ; ' I hope you are not angry 
with Master Harry. For Master Harry is a fine boy, 



THE HOLLY-TREE 143 

Sir, and will do you credit and honour.' And Boots 
signifies to me, that, if the fine boy's father had contra- 
dicted him in the daring state of mind in which he then 
was, he thinks he should have ' fetched him a crack,' 
and taken the consequences. 

But Mr. Walmers only says, * No, Cobbs. No, my 
good fellow. Thank you ! ' And, the door being 
opened, goes in. 

Boots goes in too, holding the light, and he sees Mr. 
Walmers go up to the bedside, bend gently down, and 
kiss the little sleeping face. Then he stands looking at 
it for a minute, looking wonderfully like it (they do say 
he ran away with Mrs. Walmers) ; and then he gently 
shakes the little shoulder. 

' Harry, my dear boy ! Harry ! ' 

Master Harry starts up and looks at him. Looks at 
Cobbs too. Such is the honour of that mite, that he 
looks at Cobbs, to see whether he has brought him into 
trouble. 

' I am not angry, my child. I only want you to 
dress yourself and come home.' 

' Yes, pa.' 

Master Harry dresses himself quickly. His breast 
begins to swell when he has nearly finished, and it swells 
more and more as he stands, at last, a-looking at his 
father : his father standing a-looking at him, the quiet 
image of him. 

1 Please may I ' the spirit of that little creatur, and 
the way he kept his rising tears down ! * please, dear 
pa may I kiss Norah before I go ? ' 

4 You may, my child.' 

So he takes Master Harry in his hand, and Boots leads 
the way with the candle, and they come to that other 
bedroom, where the elderly lady is seated by the bed, 
and poor little Mrs. Harry Walmers, Junior, is fast 
asleep. There the father lifts the child up to the pillow, 
and he lays his little face down for an instant by the 
little warm face of poor unconscious little Mrs. Harry 



144 CHARLES DICKENS 

Walmers, Junior, and gently draws it to him, a sight 
so touching to the chambermaids who are peeping 
through the door, that one of them calls out, 'It's a 
shame to part 'em ! ' But this chambermaid was 
always, as Boots informs me, a soft-hearted one. Not 
that there was any harm in that girl. Far from it. 

Finally, Boots says, that's all about it. Mr. Walmers 
drove away in the chaise, having hold of Master Harry's 
hand. The elderly lady and Mrs. Harry Walmers, 
Junior, that was never to be (she married a Captain 
long afterwards, and died in India), went off next day. 
In conclusion, Boots put it to me whether I hold with 
him in two opinions : firstly, that there are not many 
couples on their way to be married who are half as 
innocent of guile as those two children : secondly, that 
it would be a jolly good thing for a great many couples 
on their way to be married, if they could only be stopped 
in time, and brought back separately. 

THIRD BRANCH 

THE BILL 

I HAD been snowed up a whole week. The time had 
hung so lightly on my hands, that I should have been 
in great doubt of the fact but for a piece of documentary 
evidence that lay upon my table. 

The road had been dug out of the snow on the 
previous day, and the document in question was my 
bill. It testified emphatically to my having eaten and 
drunk, and warmed myself, and slept among the shelter- 
ing branches of the Holly-Tree, seven days and nights. 

I had yesterday allowed the road twenty-four hours 
to improve itself, finding that I required that additional 
margin of time for the completion of my task. I had 
ordered my bill to be upon the table, and a chaise to be 
at the door, ' at eight o'clock to-morrow evening.' It 
was eight o'clock to-morrow evening when I buckled 
up my travelling writing-desk in its leather case, paid 



THE HOLLY-TREE 145 

my bill, and got on my warm coats and wrappers. Of 
course, no time now remained for my travelling on to 
add a frozen tear to the icicles which were doubtless 
hanging plentifully about the farmhouse where I had 
first seen Angela. What I had to do was to get across 
to Liverpool by the shortest open road, there to meet 
my heavy baggage and embark. It was quite enough 
to do, and I had not an hour too much time to do it in. 

I had taken leave of all my Holly-Tree friends 
almost, for the time being, of my bashfulness too and 
was standing for half a minute at the Inn door watching 
the ostler as he took another turn at the cord which 
tied my portmanteau on the chaise, when I saw lamps 
coming down towards the Holly-Tree. The road was 
so padded with snow that no wheels were audible ; 
but all of us who were standing at the Inn door saw 
lamps coming on, and at a lively rate too, between the 
walls of snow that had been heaped up on either side 
of the track. The chambermaid instantly divined how 
the case stood, and called to the ostler, ' Tom, this is 
a Gretna job!' The ostler, knowing that her sex 
instinctively scented a marriage, or anything in that 
direction, rushed up the yard bawling, * Next four out ! ' 
and in a moment the whole establishment was thrown 
into commotion. 

I had a melancholy interest in seeing the happy man 
who loved and was beloved ; and therefore, instead of 
driving pff at once, I remained at the Inn door when 
the fugitives drove up. A bright-eyed fellow, muffled 
in a mantle, jumped out so briskly that he almost over- 
threw me. He turned to apologize, and, by Heaven, it 
was Edwin ! 

' Charley ! ' said he, recoiling. ' Gracious powers, 
what do you do here ? ' 

' Edwin,' said I, recoiling, ' gracious powers, what 
do you do here? ' I struck my forehead as I said it, 
and an insupportable blaze of light seemed to shoot 
before my eyes. 



146 CHARLES DICKENS 

He hurried me into the little parlour (always kept 
with a slow fire in it and no poker), where posting 
company waited while their horses were putting to, 
and, shutting the door, said : 

' Charley, forgive me ! ' 

' Edwin ! ' I returned. ' Was this well ? When I 
loved her so dearly ! When I had garnered up my 
heart so long ! ' I could say no more. 

He was shocked when he saw how moved I was, and 
made the cruel observation, that he had not thought 
I should have taken it so much to heart. 

I looked at him. I reproached him no more. But 
I looked at him. 

' My dear, dear Charley,' said he, ' don't think ill of 
me, I beseech you ! I know you have a right to my 
utmost confidence, and, believe me, you have ever had 
it until now. I abhor secrecy. Its meanness is intoler- 
able to me. But I and my dear girl have observed it 
for your sake.' 

He and his dear girl ! It steeled me. 

' You have observed it for my sake, Sir ? ' said I, 
wondering how his frank face could face it out so. 

' Yes ! and Angela's,' said he. 

I found the room reeling round in an uncertain way, 
like a labouring humming-top. * Explain yourself,' I 
said, holding on by one hand to an armchair. 

1 Dear old darling Charley ! ' returned Edwin, in his 
cordial manner, ' consider ! When you were going on 
so happily with Angela, why should I compromise you 
with the old gentleman by making you a party to our 
engagement, and (after he had declined my proposals) 
to our secret intention ? Surely it was better that you 
should be able honourably to say, ' He never took 
counsel with me, never told me, never breathed a word 
of it.' If Angela suspected it, and showed me all the 
favour and support she could God bless her for a 
precious creature and a priceless wife ! I couldn't help 
that. Neither I nor Emmeline ever told her, any more 



THE HOLLY-TREE 147 

than we told you. And for the same good reason, 
Charley ; trust me, for the same good reason, and no 
other upon ea.rth ! ' 

Emmeline was Angela's cousin. Lived with her. 
Had been brought up with her. Was her father's 
ward. Had property. 

' Emmeline is in the chaise, my dear Edwin ! ' said I, 
embracing him with the greatest affection. 

' My good fellow ! ' said he, ' do you suppose I should 
be going to Gretna Green without her ? ' 

I ran out with Edwin, I o"pened the chaise door, I 
took Emmeline in my arms, I folded her to my heart. 
She was wrapped in soft white fur, like the snowy 
landscape : but was warm, and young, and lovely. I 
put their leaders to with my own hands, I gave the boys 
a five-pound note apiece, I cheered them as they drove 
away, I drove the other way myself as hard as I could 
pelt. 

I never went to Liverpool, I never went to America, 
I went straight back to London, and I married Angela. 
I have never until this time, even to her, disclosed the 
secret of my character, and the mistrust and the mis- 
taken journey into which it led me. When she, and 
they, and our eight children and their seven I mean 
Edwin's and Emmeline's, whose eldest girl is old enough 
now to wear white for herself, and to look very like her 
mother in it come to read these pages, as of course 
they will, I shall hardly fail to be found out at last. 
Never mind ! I can bear it. I began at the Holly -Tree, 
by idle accident, to associate the Christmas-time of 
year with human interest, and with some inquiry into, 
and some care for, the lives of those by whom I find 
myself surrounded. I hope that I am none the worse 
for it, and that no one near me or afar off is the worse 
for it. And I say, May the green Holly-Tree flourish, 
striking its roots deep into our English ground, and 
having its germinating qualities carried by the birds of 
Heaven all over the world ! 



WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

18241889 

THE TRAVELLER'S STORY OF A 
TERRIBLY STRANGE BED 

SHORTLY after my education at college was finished, 
I happened to be staying at Paris with an English friend. 
We were both young men then, and lived, I am afraid, 
rather a wild life, in the delightful city of our sojourn. 
One night we were idling about the neighbourhood of 
the Palais Royal, doubtful to what amusement we 
should next betake ourselves. My friend proposed a 
visit to Frascati's ; but his suggestion was not to my 
taste. 1 knew Frascati's, as the French saying is, by 
heart ; had lost and won plenty of five-franc pieces 
there, merely for amusement's sake, until it was amuse- 
ment no longer, and was thoroughly tired, in fact, of all 
the ghastly respectabilities of such a social anomaly 
as a respectable gambling-house. ' For Heaven's sake,' 
said I to my friend, ' let us go somewhere where we can 
see a little genuine, blackguard, poverty-stricken 
gaming, with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over 
it at all. Let us get away from fashionable Frascati's, 
to a house where they don't mind letting in a man with 
a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged or other- 
wise.' * Very well,' said my friend, ' we needn't go out 
of the Palais Royal to find the sort of company you 
want. Here's the place just before us ; as blackguard 
a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see.' 
In another minute we arrived at the door, and entered 

148 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 149 

the house, the back of which you have drawn in your 
sketch. 1 

When we got upstairs, and left our hats and sticks 
with the doorkeeper, we were admitted into the chief 
gambling-room. We did not find many people 
assembled there. But, few as the men were who looked 
up at us on our entrance, they were all types lament- 
ably true types of their respective classes. 

We had come to see blackguards ; but these men 
were something worse. There is a comic side, more or 
less appreciable, in all blackguardism here there was 
nothing but tragedy mute, weird tragedy. The 
quiet in the room was horrible. The thin, haggard, 
long-haired young man, whose sunken eyes fiercely 
watched the turning up of the cards, never spoke ; the 
flabby, fat-faced, pimply player, who pricked his piece 
of pasteboard perseveringly, to register how often black 
won, and how often red never spoke ; the dirty, 
wrinkled old man, with the vulture eyes and the darned 
greatcoat, who had lost his last sou, and still looked on 
desperately, after he could play no longer never spoke. 
Even the voice of the croupier sounded as if it were 
strangely dulled and thickened in the atmosphere of 
the room. I had entered the place to laugh, but the 
spectacle before me was something to weep over. I 
soon found it necessary to take refuge in excitement from 
the depression of spirits which was fast stealing on me. 
Unfortunately I sought the nearest excitement, by 
going to the table, and beginning to play. Still more 
unfortunately, as tl?e event will show, I won won 
prodigiously ; won incredibly ; won at such a rate, 
that the regular players at the table crowded round me ; 
and staring at my stakes with hungry, superstitious 
eyes, whispered to one another that the English 
stranger was going to break the bank. 

The game was Rouge et Noir. I had played at it in 

i [The story is supposed to be narrated by its chief 
actor, to the artist who is painting his portrait.] 



150 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

every city in Europe, without, however, the care or 
the wish to study the Theory of Chances that philo- 
sopher's stone of all gamblers ! And a gambler, in the 
strict sense of the word, I had never been. I was heart- 
whole from the corroding passion for play. My gaming 
was a mere idle amusement. I never resorted to it by 
necessity, because I never knew what it was to want 
money. I never practised it so incessantly as to lose 
more than I could afford, or to gain more than I could 
coolly pocket without being thrown off my balance by 
my good luck: In short, I had hitherto frequented 
gambling- tables just as I frequented ball-rooms and 
opera-houses because they amused me, and because 
I had nothing better to do with my leisure hours. 

But on this occasion it was very different now, for 
the first time in my life, I felt what the passion for play 
really was. My success first bewildered, and then, 
in the most literal meaning of the word, intoxicated 
me. Incredible as it may appear, it is nevertheless true, 
that I only lost when I attempted to estimate chances, 
and played according to previous calculation. If I 
left everything to luck, and staked without any care or 
consideration, I was sure to win to win in the face of 
every recognized probability in favour of the bank. At 
first, some of the men present ventured their money 
safely enough on my colour ; but I speedily increased 
my stakes to sums which they dared not risk. One 
after another they left off playing, and breathlessly 
looked on at my game. 

Still, time after time, I staked, higher and higher, 
and still won. The excitement in the room rose to 
fever pitch. The silence was interrupted by a deep- 
muttered chorus of oaths and exclamations in different 
languages, every time the gold was shovelled across to 
my side of the table even the imperturbable croupier 
dashed his rake on the floor in a (French) fury of 
astonishment at my success. But one man present 
preserved his self-possession ; and that man was my 



'. THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 151 

friend. He came to my side, and whispering in 
English, begged me to leave the place, satisfied with 
what I had already gained. I must do him the justice 
to say that he repeated his warnings and entreaties 
several times, and only left me and went away, after I 
had rejected his advice (I was to all intents and pur- 
poses gambling-drunk) in terms which rendered it 
impossible for him to address me again that night. 

Shortly after he had gone, a hoarse voice behind me 
cried : ' Permit me, my dear sir ! permit me to 
restore to their proper place two Napoleons which you 
have dropped. Wonderful luck, sir ! I pledge you 
my word of honour, as an old soldier, in the course of 
my long experience in this sort of thing, I never saw 
such luck as yours ! never ! Go on, sir Sacre mille 
lombes ! Go on boldly, and break the bank ! ' 

I turned round and saw, nodding and smiling at me 
with inveterate civility, a tall man, dressed in a frogged 
and braided surtout. 

If I had been in my senses, I should have considered 
him, personally, as being rather a suspicious specimen 
of an old soldier. He had goggling blood-shot eyes, 
mangy mustachios, and a broken nose. His voice 
betrayed a barrack-room intonation of the worst order, 
and he had the dirtiest pair of hands I ever saw even 
in France. These little personal peculiarities exercised, 
however, no repelling influence on me. In the mad 
excitement, the reckless triumph of that moment, I was 
ready to ' fraternize ' with anybody who encouraged 
me in my game. I accepted the old soldier's offered 
pinch of snuff ; clapped him on the back, and swore he 
was the honestest fellow in the world the most 
glorious relic of the Grand Army that I had ever met 
with. * Go on ! ' cried my military friend, snapping 
his fingers in ecstasy, ' Go on, and win ! Break the 
Bank Mille tonnerres ! my gallant English comrade, 
break the bank ! ' 

And I did go on went on at such a rate, that in 



152 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS ; 

another quarter of an hour the croupier called out : 
' Gentlemen ! the bank has discontinued for to-night.' 
All the notes, and all the gold in that ' bank,' now lay 
in a heap under my hands ; the whole floating capital 
of the gambling-house was waiting to pour into my 
pockets ! 

' Tie up the money in your pocket-handkerchief, my 
worthy sir,' said the old s'oldier, as I wildly plunged my 
hands into my heap of gold. ' Tie it up, as we used to 
tie up a bit of dinner in the Grand Army ; your win- 
nings are too heavy for any breeches pockets that ever 
were sewed. There ! that's it ! shovel them in, notes 
and all ! Credie ! what luck ! Stop ! another Napo- 
leon on the floor ! Ah / sacre petit polisson de Napo- 
leon ! have I found thee at last ? Now then, sir -two 
tight double knots each way with your honourable 
permission, and the money's safe. Feel it ! feel it, 
fortunate sir ! hard and round as a cannon ball Ah, 
bah ! if they had only fired such cannon balls at us at 
Austerlitz nom d'une pipe ! if they only had ! And 
now, as an ancient grenadier, as an ex-brave of the 
French army, what remains for me to do ? I ask 
what ? Simply this : to entreat my valued English 
friend to drink a bottle of champagne with me, and 
toast the goddess Fortune in foaming goblets before 
we part ! ' 

Excellent ex- brave ! Convivial ancient grenadier ! 
Champagne by all means ! An English cheer for an 
old soldier ! Hurrah ! hurrah ! Another English 
cheer for the goddess Fortune ! Hurrah ! hurrah ! 
hurrah ! 

' Bravo ! the Englishman ; the amiable, gracious 
Englishman, in whose veins circulates the vivacious 
blood of France ! Another glass ? Ah, bah ! the 
bottle is empty ! Never mind ! Vive le vin / I, the 
old soldier, order another bottle, and half-a-pound of 
bonbons with it ! ' 

' No, no, ex- brave ; never ancient grenadier ! 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 153 

Your bottle last time ; my bottle this. Behold it ! 
Toast away ! The French Army ! the great Napo- 
leon ! the present company ! the croupier ! the 
honest croupier's wife and daughters if he has any ! 
the Ladies generally ! Everybody in the world ! ' 

By the time the second bottle of champagne was 
emptied, I felt as if I had been drinking liquid fire 
my brain seemed all a-flame. No excess in wine had 
ever had this effect on me before in my life. Was it 
the result of a stimulant acting upon my system when 
I was in a highly excited state ? Was my stomach 
in a particularly disordered condition ? Or was the 
champagne amazingly strong ? 

' Ex-brave of the French Army ! ' cried I, in a mad 
state of exhilaration, ' I am on fire ! how are you ? 
You have set me on fire ! Do you hear, my hero of 
Austerlitz ? Let us have a third bottle of cham- 
pagne to put the flame out ! ' 

The old soldier wagged his head, rolled his goggle 
eyes, until I expected to see them slip out of their 
sockets ; placed his dirty forefinger by the side of his 
broken nose ; solemnly ejaculated ' Coffee ! ' and 
immediately ran off into an inner room. 

The word pronounced by the eccentric veteran 
seemed to have a magical effect on the rest of the 
company present. With one accord they all rose to 
depart. Probably they had expected to profit by my 
intoxication ; but finding that my new friend was 
benevolently bent on preventing me from getting 
dead drunk, had now abandoned all hope of thriving 
pleasantly on my winnings. Whatever their motive 
might be, at any rate they went away in a body. 
When the old soldier returned, and sat down again 
opposite to me at the table, we had the room to our- 
selves. I could see the croupier, in a sort of vestibule 
which opened out of it, eating his supper in solitude. 
The silence was now deeper than ever. 

A sudden change, too, had come over the * ex- 



154 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

brave.' He assumed a portentously solemn look ; 
and when he spoke to me again, his speech was orna- 
mented by no oaths, enforced by no finger-snapping, 
enlivened by no apostrophes or exclamations. 

4 Listen, my dear sir,' said he, in mysteriously 
confidential tones ' listen to an old soldier's advice. 
I have been to the mistress of the house (a very charm- 
ing woman, with a genius for cookery !) to impress 
on her the necessity of making us some particularly 
strong and good coffee. You must drink this coffee 
in order to get rid of your little amiable exaltation 
of spirits before you think of going home you must, 
my good and gracious friend ! With all that money 
to take home to-night, it is a sacred duty to yourself 
to have your wits about you. You are known to be 
a winner to an enormous extent by several gentlemen 
present to-night, who, in a certain point of view, are 
very worthy and excellent fellows, but they are mortal 
men, my dear sir, and they have their amiable weak- 
nesses ! Need I say more ? Ah, no, no ! you under- 
stand me ! Now, this is what you must do send for 
a cabriolet when you feel quite well again draw up 
all the windows when you get into it and tell the 
driver to take you home only through the large and 
well-lighted thoroughfares. Do this ; and you and 
your money will be safe. Do this ; and to-morrow 
you will thank an old soldier for giving you a word of 
honest advice.' 

Just as the ex-brave ended his oration in very 
lachrymose tones, the coffee came in, ready poured 
out in two cups. My attentive friend handed me one 
of the cups with a bow. I was parched with thirst, 
and drank it off at a draught. Almost instantly after- 
wards, I was seized with a fit of giddiness, and felt 
more completely intoxicated than ever. The room 
whirled round and round furiously ; the old soldier 
seemed to be regularly bobbing up and down before 
me like the piston of a steam-engine. I was half 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 155 

deafened by a violent singing in my ears ; a feeling of 
utter bewilderment, helplessness, idiocy, overcame me, 
I rose from my chair, holding on by the table to keep 
my balance ; and stammered out, that I felt dread- 
fully unwell so unwell that I did not know how I 
was to get home. 

' My dear friend,' answered the old soldier and 
even his voice seemed to be bobbing up and down as 
he spoke ' my dear friend, it would be madness to 
go home in your state ; you would be sure to lose 
your money ; you might be robbed and murdered 
with the greatest ease. / am going to sleep here : do 
you sleep here, too they make up capital beds in this 
house take one ; sleep off the effects of the wine, 
and go home safely with your winnings to-morrow 
to-morrow, in broad daylight.' 

I had but two ideas left : one, that I must never 
let go hold of my handkerchief full of money ; the 
other, that I must lie down somewhere immediately, 
and fall off into a comfortable sleep. So I agreed to 
the proposal about the bed, and took the offered arm 
of the old soldier, carrying my money with my disen- 
gaged hand. Preceded by the croupier, we passed 
along some passages and up a flight of stairs into the 
bedroom which I was to occupy. The ex- brave shook 
me warmly by the hand, proposed that we should 
breakfast together, and then, followed by the croupier, 
left me for the night. 

I ran to the wash-hand stand ; drank some of the 
water in my jug ; poured the rest out, and plunged 
my face into it ; then sat down in a chair and tried to 
compose myself. I soon felt better. The change for 
my lungs, from the fetid atmosphere of the gambling- 
room to the cool air of the apartment I now occupied ; 
the almost equally refreshing change for my eyes, from 
the glaring gas-lights of the ' Salon ' to the dim, quiet 
flicker of one bedroom candle, aided wonderfully the 
restorative effects of cold water. The giddiness left 



156 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

me, and I began to feel a little like a reasonable being 
again. My first thought was of the risk of sleeping 
all night in a gambling- house ; my second, of the still 
greater risk of trying to get out after the house was 
closed, and of going home alone at night, through the 
streets of Paris, with, a large sum of money Wbout me. 
I had slept in worse places than this on my travels ; 
so I determined to lock, bolt, and barricade my door, 
and take my chance till the next morning. 

Accordingly, I secured myself against all intrusion ; 
looked under the bed, and into the cupboard ; tried 
the fastening of the window ; and then, satisfied that 
I had taken every proper precaution, pulled off my 
upper clothing, put my light, which was a dim one, 
on the hearth among a feathery litter of wood ashes, 
and got into bed, with the handkerchief full of money 
under my pillow. 

I soon felt not only that I could not go to sleep, but 
that I could not even close my eyes. I was wide 
awake, and in a high fever. Every nerve in my body 
trembled every one of my senses seemed to be preter- 
naturally sharpened. I tossed and rolled, and tried 
every kind of position, and perseveringly sought out 
the cold corners of the bed, and all to no purpose. 
Now, I thrust my arms over the clothes ; now, I 
poked them under the clothes ; now, I violently shot 
my legs straight out down to the bottom of the bed ; 
now, I convulsively coiled them up as near my chin 
as they would go ; now, I shook out my crumpled 
pillow, changed it to the cool side, patted it flat, and 
lay down quietly on my back ; now, I fiercely doubled 
it in two, set it up on end, thrust it against the board 
of the bed, and tried a sitting posture. Every effort 
was in vain ; I groaned with vexation, as I felt that I 
was in for a sleepless night. 

What could I do ? I had no book to read. And 
yet, unless I found out some method of diverting my 
mind, I felt certain that I was in the condition to 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 157 

imagine all sorts of horrors ; to rack my brain with 
forebodings of every possible and impossible danger ; 
in short, to pass the night in suffering all conceivable 
varieties of nervous terror. 

I raised myself on my elbow, and looked about the 
room which was brightened by a lovely moonlight 
pouring straight through the window to see if it 
contained any pictures or ornaments that I could at 
all clearly distinguish. While my eyes wandered 
from wall to wall, a remembrance of Le Maistre's 
delightful little book, Voyage autour de ma Chambre, 
occurred to me. I resolved to imitate the French 
author, and find occupation and amusement enough 
to relieve the tedium of my wakefulness, by making a 
mental inventory of every article of furniture I could 
see, and by following up to their sources the multitude 
of associations which even a chair, a table, or a wash- 
hand stand may be made to call forth. 

In the nervous unsettled state of my mind at that 
moment, I found it much easier to make my inven- 
tory than to make my reflections, and thereupon soon 
gave up all hope of thinking in Le Maistre's fanciful 
track or, indeed, of thinking at all. I looked about 
the room at the different articles of furniture, and did 
nothing more. 

There was, first, the bed I was lying in ; a four- 
post bed, of all things in the world to meet with in 
Paris ! yes, a thorough clumsy British four-poster, 
with the regular top lined with chintz the regular 
fringed valance all round the regular stifling un- 
wholesome curtains, which I remembered having 
mechanically drawn back against the posts without 
particularly noticing the bed when I first got into 
the room. Then there was the marble-topped wash- 
hand stand, from which the water I had spilt, in my 
hurry to pour it out, was still dripping, slowly and 
more slowly, on to the brick floor. Then two small 
chairs, with my coat, waistcoat, and trousers flung 



158 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

on them. Then a large elbow-chair covered with 
dirty-white dimity, with my cravat and shirt-collar 
thrown over the back. Then a chest of drawers with 
two of the brass handles off, and a tawdry, broken 
china inkstand placed on it by way of ornament for 
the top. Then the dressing-table, adorned by a very 
small looking-glass, and a very large pincushion. Then 
the window an unusually large window. Then a 
dark old picture, which the feeble candle dimly showed 
me. It was the picture of a fellow in a high Spanish 
hat, crowned with a plume of towering feathers. A 
swarthy sinister ruffian, looking upward, shading his 
eyes with his hand, and looking intently upward it 
might be at some tall gallows at which he was going to 
be hanged. At any rate, he had the appearance of 
thoroughly deserving it. 

This picture put a kind of constraint upon me to 
look upward too at the top of the bed. It was a 
gloomy and not an interesting object, and I looked 
back at the picture. I counted the feathers in the 
man's hat they stood out in relief three white, two 
green. I observed the crown of his hat, which was 
of a conical shape, according to the fashion supposed 
to have been favoured by Guido Pawkes. I won- 
dered what he was looking up at. It couldn't be at 
the stars ; such a desperado was neither astrologer 
nor astronomer. It must be at the high gallows, and 
he was going to be hanged presently. Would the 
executioner come into possession of his conical-crowned 
hat and plume of feathers ? I counted the feathers 
again three white, two green. 

While I still lingered over this very improving and 
intellectual employment, my thoughts insensibly 
began to wander. The moonlight shining into the 
room reminded me of a certain moonlight night in 
England the night after a picnic party in a Welsh 
valley. Every incident of the drive homeward, 
through lovely scenery, which the moonlight made 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 159 

lovelier than ever, came back to my remembrance, 
though I had never given the picnic a thought for 
years ; though, if I had tried to recollect it, I could 
certainly have recalled little or nothing of that scene 
long past. Of all the wonderful faculties that help 
to tell us we are immortal, which speaks the sublime 
truth more eloquently than memory ? Here was I, 
in a strange house of the most suspicious character, 
in a situation of uncertainty, and even of peril, which 
might seem to make the cool exercise of my recollec- 
tion almost out of the question ; nevertheless, remem- 
bering, quite involuntarily, places, people, conversa- 
tions, minute circumstances of every kind, which I 
had thought forgotten for ever ; which I could not 
possibly have recalled at will, even under the most 
favourable auspices. And what cause had produced 
in a moment the whole of this strange, complicated, 
mysterious effect ? Npthing but some rays of moon- 
light shining in at my bedroom window. 

I was still thinking of the picnic of our merriment 
on the drive home of the sentimental young lady 
who would quote Childe Harold because it was moon- 
light. I was absorbed by these past scenes and past 
amusements, when, in an instant, the thread on which 
my memories hung snapped asunder ; my attention 
immediately came back to present things more vividly 
than ever, and I found myself, I neither knew why 
nor wherefore, looking hard at the picture again. 

Looking for what ? 

Good God ! the man had pulled his hat down on 
his brows ! No ! the hat itself was gone ! Where was 
the conical crown ? Where the feathers three white, 
two green ? Not there ? In place of the hat and 
feathers, what dusky object was it that now hid his 
forehead, his eyes, his shading hand ? 

Was the bed moving ? 

I turned on my back and looked up. Was I mad ? 
drunk ? dreaming ? giddy again ? or was the top of 



160 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

the bed really moving down sinking slowly, regu- 
larly, silently, horribly, right down throughout the 
whole of its length and breadth right down upon me, 
as I lay underneath ? 

My blood seemed to stand still. A deadly paralysing 
coldness stole all over me, as I turned my head round 
on the pillow, and determined to test whether the 
bed-top was really moving or not, by keeping my 
eye on the man in the picture. 

The next look in that direction was enough. The 
dull, black, frowsy outline of the valance above me was 
within an inch of being parallel with his waist. I still 
looked breathlessly. And steadily, and slowly very 
slowly I saw the figure, and the line of frame below 
the figure, vanish, as the valance moved down before it. 
I am, constitutionally, anything but timid. I have 
been on more than one occasion in peril of my life, 
and have not lost my self-possession for an instant ; 
but when the conviction first settled on my mind that 
the bed-top was really moving, was steadily and con- 
tinuously sinking down upon me, I looked up shudder- 
ing, helpless, panic-stricken, beneath the hideous 
machinery for murder, which was advancing closer 
and closer to suffocate me where I lay. 

I looked up, motionless, speechless, breathless. 
The candle, fully spent, went out ; but the moonlight 
still brightened the room. Down and down, without 
pausing and without sounding, came the bed-top, 
and still my panic-terror seemed to bind me faster 
and faster to the mattress on which I lay down and 
down it sank, till the dusty odour from the lining of 
the canopy came stealing into my nostrils. 

At that final moment the instinct of self-preserva- 
tion startled me out of my trance, and I moved at 
last. There was just room for me to roll myself side- 
ways off the bed. As I dropped noiselessly to the 
floor, the edge of the murderous canopy touched me 
on the shoulder. 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 161 

Without stopping to draw my breath, without 
wiping the cold sweat from my face, I rose instantly 
on my knees to watch the bed-top. I was literally 
spell- bound by it. If I had heard footsteps behind 
me, I could not have turned round ; if a means of 
escape had been miraculously provided for me, I could 
not have moved to take advantage of it. The whole 
life in me was, at that moment, concentrated in my 
eyes. 

It descended the whole canopy, with the fringe 
round it, came down down close down ; so close 
that there was not room now to squeeze my finger 
between the bed-top and the bed. I felt at the sides, 
and discovered that what had appeared to me from 
beneath to be the ordinary light canopy of a four-post 
bed, was in reality a thick, broad mattress, the sub- 
stance of which was concealed by the valance and its 
fringe. I looked up and saw the four posts rising 
hideously bare. In the middle of the bed-top was a 
huge wooden screw that had evidently worked it 
down through a hole in the ceiling, just as ordinary 
presses are worked down on the substance selected for 
compression. The frightful apparatus moved with- 
out making the faintest noise. There had been no 
creaking as it came down ; there was now not the 
faintest sound from the room above. Amid a dead 
and awful silence I beheld before me in the nineteenth 
century, and in the civilized capital of France such 
a machine for secret murder by suffocation as might 
have existed in the worst days of the Inquisition, in 
the lonely inns among the Hartz Mountains, in the 
mysterious tribunals of Westphalia ! Still, as I looked 
on it, I could not move, I could hardly breathe, but I 
began to recover the power of thinking, and in a 
moment I discovered the murderous conspiracy framed 
against me in all its horror. 

My cup of coffee had been drugged, and drugged 
too strongly. I had been saved from being smothered 

228 O 



162 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

by having taken an overdose of some narcotic. How 
I had chafed and jfretted at the fever-fit which had 
preserved my life by keeping me awake ! How reck- 
lessly I had confided myself to the two wretches who 
had led me into this room, determined, for the eake 
of my winnings, to kill me in my sleep by the surest 
and most horrible contrivance for secretly accomplish- 
ing my destruction ! How many men, winners like 
me, had slept, as I had proposed to sleep, in that 
bed, and had never been seen or heard of more ! I 
shuddered at the bare idea of it. 

But, ere long, all thought was again suspended by 
the sight of the murderous canopy moving once more. 
After it had remained on the bed as nearly as I 
could guess about ten minutes, it began to move up 
again. The villains who worked it from above evi- 
dently believed that their purpose was now accom- 
plished. Slowly and silently, as it had descended, 
that horrible bed-top rose towards its former place. 
When it reached the upper extremities of the four 
posts, it reached the ceiling too. Neither hole nor 
screw could be seen ; the bed became in appearance 
an ordinary bed again the canopy an ordinary canopy 
even to the most suspicious eyes. 

Now, for the first time, I was able to move to rise 
from my knees to dress myself in my upper clothing 
and to consider of how I should escape. If I 
betrayed, by the smallest noise, that the attempt to 
suffocate me had failed, I was certain to be murdered. 
Had I made, any noise already ? I listened intently, 
looking towards the door. 

No ! no footsteps in the passage outside no sound 
of a tread, light or heavy, in the room above absolute 
silence everywhere. Besides locking and bolting my 
door, I had moved an old wooden chest against it, 
which I had found under the bed. To remove this 
chest (my blood ran cold as I thought of what its 
contents might be !) without making some disturbance 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 163 

was impossible ; and, moreover, to think of escaping 
through the house, now barred up for the night, was 
sheer insanity. Only one chance was left me the 
window. I stole to it on tiptoe. 

My bedroom was on the first floor, above an entresol, 
and looked into the back street, which you have 
sketched in your view. I raised my hand to open the 
window, knowing that on that action hung, by the 
merest hair's-breadth, my chance of safety. They 
keep vigilant watch in a House of Murder. If any 
part of the frame cracked, if the hinge creaked, I was 
a lost man ! It must have occupied me at least five 
minutes, reckoning by time five hours, reckoning by 
suspense to open that window. I succeeded in doing 
it silently in doing it with all the dexterity of a 
housebreaker and then looked down into the street. 
To leap the distance beneath me would be almost 
certain destruction ! Next, I looked round at the 
sides of the house. Down the left side ran the thick 
water-pipe which you have drawn it passed close by 
the outer edge of the window. The moment I saw the 
pipe, I knew I was saved. My breath came and went 
freely for the first time since I had seen the canopy 
of the bed moving down upon me ! 

To some men the means of escape which I had dis- 
covered might have seemed difficult and dangerous 
enough to me the prospect of slipping down the pipe 
into the street did not suggest even a thought of peril. 
I had always been accustomed, by the practice of 
gymnastics, to keep up my schoolboy powers as a 
daring and expert climber ; and knew that my head, 
hands, and feet would serve me faithfully in any 
hazards of ascent or descent. I had already got one 
leg over the window-sill, when I remembered the 
handkerchief filled with money under my pillow. I 
could well have afforded to leave it behind me, but I 
was revengefully determined that the miscreants of 
the gambling-house should miss their plunder as well 



164 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

as their victim. So I went back to the bed and tied 
the heavy handkerchief at my back by my cravat. 

Just as I had made it tight and fixed it in a com- 
fortable place, I thought I heard a sound of breathing 
outside the door. The chill feeling of horror ran 
through me again as I listened. No ! dead silence 
still in the passage I had only heard the night-air 
blowing softly into the room. The next moment I 
was on the window-sill and the next I had a firm 
grip on the water-pipe with my hands and knees. 

I slid down into the street easily and quietly, as I 
thought I should, and immediately set off at the top 
of my speed to a branch ' Prefecture ' of Police, which 
I knew was situated in the immediate neighbourhood. 
A ' Sub-prefect,' and several picked men among his 
subordinates, happened to be up, maturing, I believe, 
some scheme for discovering the perpetrator of a 
mysterious murder which all Paris was talking of just 
then. When I began my story, in a breathless hurry 
and in very bad French, I could see that the Sub- 
prefect suspected me of being a drunken Englishman 
who had robbed somebody ; but he soon altered his 
opinion as I went on, and before I had anything like 
concluded, he shoved all the papers before him into 
a drawer, put on his hat, supplied me with another 
(for I was bare-headed), ordered a file of soldiers, 
desired his expert followers to get ready all sorts of 
tools for breaking open doors and ripping up brick- 
flooring, and took my arm, in the most friendly and 
familiar manner possible, to lead me with him out of 
the house. I will venture to say, that when the Bub- 
prefect was a little boy, and was taken for the first 
time to the play, he was not half as much pleased as 
he was now at the job in prospect for him at the 
gambling-house ! 

Away we went through the streets, the Sub-prefect 
cross-examining and congratulating me in the same 
breath as we marched at the head of our formidable 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 165 

posse comitatus. Sentinels were placed at the back 
and front of the house the moment we got to it ; a 
tremendous battery of knocks was directed against 
the door ; a light appeared at a window ; I was told 
to conceal myself behind the police then came more 
knocks, and a cry of ' Open in the name of the law ! ' 
At that terrible summons bolts and locks gave way 
before an invisible hand, and the moment after the 
Sub-prefect was in the passage, confronting a waiter 
half-dressed and ghastly pale. This was the short 
dialogue which immediately took place : 

' We want to see the Englishman who is sleeping 
in this house ? ' 

' He went away hours ago.' 

' He did no such thing. His friend went away ; he 
remained. Show us to his bedroom ! ' 

' I swear to you, Monsieur le Sous-prefect, he is not 
here ! he .' 

' I swear to you, Monsieur le Gar9on, he is. He 
slept here he didn't find your bed comfortable he 
came to us to complain of it here he is among my 
men and here am I ready to look for a flea or two 
in his bedstead. Renaudin ! ' (calling to one of the 
subordinates, and pointing to the waiter) < collar that 
man, and tie his hands behind him. Now, then, 
gentlemen, let us walk upstairs ! ' 

Every man and woman in the house was secured 
the ' Old Soldier ' the first. Then I identified the bed 
in which I had slept, and then we went into the room 
above. 

No object that was at all extraordinary appeared in 
any part of it. The Sub-prefect looked round the 
place, commanded everybody to be silent, stamped 
twice on the floor, called for a candle, looked atten- 
tively at the spot he had stamped on, and ordered the 
flooring there to be carefully taken up. This was done 
in no time. Lights were produced, and we saw a 
deep raftered cavity between the floor of this room 



166 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

and the ceiling of the room beneath. Through this 
cavity there ran perpendicularly a sort of case of iron 
thickly greased ; and inside the case appeared the 
screw, which communicated with the bed-top below. 
Extra lengths of screw, freshly oiled ; levers covered 
with felt ; all the complete upper works of a heavy 
press constructed with infernal ingenuity so as to 
join the fixtures below, and when taken to pieces 
again to go into the smallest possible compass were 
next discovered and pulled out on the floor. After 
some little difficulty the Sub-prefect succeeded in put- 
ting the machinery together, and, leaving his men to 
work it, descended with me to the bedroom. The 
smothering canopy was then lowered, but not so noise- 
lessly as I had seen it lowered. When I mentioned 
this to the Sub-prefect, his answer, simple as it was, 
had a terrible significance. ' My men,' said he, ' are 
working down the bed-top for the first time the men 
whose money you won were in better practice.' 

We left the house in the sole possession of two police 
agents every one of the inmates being removed to 
prison on the spot. The Sub-prefect, after taking 
down my ' proces-verbal ' in his office, returned with 
me to my hotel to get my passport. * Do you think,' 
I asked, as I gave it to him, ' that any men have really 
been smothered in that bed, as they tried to smother 
me ? ' 

' I have seen dozens of drowned men laid out at the 
Morgue,' answered the Sub-prefect, ' in whose pocket- 
books were found letters, stating that they had com- 
mitted suicide in the Seine, because they had lost 
everything at the gaming-table. Do I 'know how 
many of those men entered the same gambling- house 
that you entered ? won as you won ? took that bed 
as you took it ? slept in it ? were smothered in it ? 
and were privately thrown into the river, with a letter 
of explanation written by the murderers and placed in 
their pocket-books ? No man can say how many or 



THE TRAVELLER'S STORY 167 

how few have suffered the fate from which you have 
escaped. The people of the gambling-house kept their 
bedstead machinery a secret from us even from the 
police ! The dead kept the rest of the secret for them. 
Good night, or rather good morning, Monsieur Faulk- 
ner ! Be at my office again at nine o'clock in the 
meantime, au revoir ! ' 

The rest of my story is soon told. I was examined 
and re-examined ; the gambling-house was strictly 
searched all through from top to bottom ; the pris- 
oners were separately interrogated ; and two of the 
less guilty among them made a confession. I dis- 
covered that the Old Soldier was the master of the 
gambling-house justice discovered that he had been 
drummed out of the army as a vagabond years ago ; 
that he had been guilty of all sorts of villanies since ; 
that he was in possession of stolen property, which the 
owners identified ; and that he, the croupier, another 
accomplice, and the woman who had made my cup of 
coffee, were all in the secret of the bedstead. There 
appeared some reason to doubt whether the inferior 
persons attached to the house knew anything of the 
suffocating machinery ; and they received the benefit 
of that doubt, by being treated simply as thieves and 
vagabonds. As for the Old Soldier and his two head- 
myrmidons, they went to the galleys ; the ^oman who 
had drugged my coffee was imprisoned for I forget how 
many years ; the regular attendants at the gambling- 
house were considered ' suspicious,' and placed under 
' surveillance' ; and I became, for one whole week 
(which is a long time), the head 'lion' in Parisian 
society. My adventure was dramatized by three 
illustrious playmakers, but never saw theatrical day- 
light ; for the censorship forbade the introduction on 
the stage of a correct copy of the gambling-house 
bedstead. 

One good result was produced by my adventure, 
which any censorship must have approved : it cured 



168 WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS 

me of ever again trying ' Rouge et Noir ' as an amuse- 
ment. The sight of a green cloth, with packs of cards 
and heaps of money on it, will henceforth be for ever 
associated in my mind with the sight of a bed-canopy 
descending to suffocate me in the silence and darkness 
of the night. 



WILLIAM HALE WHITE 

(' MARK RUTHERFORD ') 
18311913 

' THE SWEETNESS OF A MAN'S FRIEND ' 
* But when he came to himself he said ' 

FORTY years ago I had been a clerk in a Government 
office in Whitehall for three years. My father was a 
small squire owning about 1,500 acres of land in the 
Midlands, and, as he had only two children, a girl and 
a boy, he contrived to send me to Harrow, his own 
school. When I left Harrow I went to Cambridge, and 
came out well in the Civil Service examination. Soon 
afterwards I became engaged to Margaret Rushworth, 
daughter of the rector in the little town of Hemsworth, 
about five miles from my home, and in 1870 we were 
married. In addition to my salary I had an allowance 
of over 100 a year from home, and Margaret had 50 
a year of her own. We set up house at Blackheath. 

Margaret was not a great reader, although what she 
read she read slowly and thoroughly. I thought she 
would ' open out,' as I infelicitously described a liking 
for literature, but in this way she did not open out. 
Perhaps it was required of her that she should develop 
according to the law of her own nature. Providence 
may have considered it necessary, although probably 
she was not conscious of the command, that her par- 
ticular character should be preserved without the inter- 
ference or imposition of any other. I, on the contrary, 
lived hi books ; I worked hard at Cambridge, and I 
hated dissipation. It was this love of books that was 

G* 169 



170 WILLIAM HALE WHITE 

answerable for certain defects in me ; one of which was 
the absence of a sense of proportion. It is curious 
Glycine's song of three or four verses in Zapolya or a 
dozen lines from The Rape of the Lock were more to me 
than the news of great events. I should even have 
thought it better worth while to discover how 
Shakespeare laced his shoes than to understand the 
provisions of a revolutionary Reform Bill. Conversa- 
tion was interesting to me mainly in so far as it turned 
upon w r hat I had been reading. I was often, no doubt, 
set down as a prig. I was not a prig, for I was much 
in earnest. I was however, I admit, an uncomfortable, 
unpopular acquaintance. The gay, the empty-hearted, 
empty-headed society joker scoffed at me because I 
was an easy chance he could not afford to miss of 
securing laughter at the expense of that stock subject, 
' a serious person.' 

My peculiar temperament did not fully reveal itself 
until some time after I was engaged. I then hoped for 
a happy time with Margaret : when in long evenings 
we could study Shelley together and discuss the con- 
nexion of the story in The Revolt of Islam, a problem 
I had not yet been able to solve. I belonged to a club, 
called, for no particular reason, the Saturday Club, of 
a dozen men about the same age as myself and of a 
somewhat similar disposition, who met together for 
mutual edification on. the second and fifteenth 
of each month. It looks strange to many people, no 
doubt, but to me, even now, it is not strange that 
twelve persons belonging to this* commonplace world 
could quietly seat themselves round a table and begin, 
without the aid of alcohol, tobacco, or even of coffee, 
to impart to one another their opinions on subjects 
which would generally be considered most uninviting. 
Once I came home with my head full of Milton's 
prosody. I proceeded immediately to pour out upon 
Margaret all the results of our debate and, more particu- 
larly, my own observations, but as she had never read 



'THE SWEETNESS OF A MAN'S FRIEND' 171 

Paradise, Lost, and knew nothing of the laws of blank 
verse, I did not go on and was disappointed. She also 
was sad, and the evening passed as an evening passes 
in late September when we have not begun fires, and 
cold rain sets in with the growing darkness. When 
either the second or fifteenth of the month fell on a 
Saturday, the hour of meeting was four o'clock. One 
Saturday we had tried to make out what really hap- 
pened to the magic boat in Alastor. The eddying 
waters rise ' stair above stair,' and the boat is 

4 Seized by the sway of the ascending stream.' 

I was puzzled and eager ; I got home early and could 
not help trying to explain the difficulty to Margaret ! 
I read all that part of Alastor to her which has to do 
with the movement of the boat, and I expatiated on it 
with some eloquence and almost with emotion. I 
could see she tried to follow me and to make clear to 
herself the miraculous course of the stream, but she did 
not succeed, and her irrelevant remarks made me 
irritable. She asked me who the wanderer was, and 
what was the object of his voyage. ' O Margaret,' I 
broke out, and I propped my elbows on the table, my 
head falling in despondency between my hands, ' O 
Margaret, I do wish I could find a little more sympathy 
in you. What a joy it would be for me if you cared 
for the things for which I care, those which really 
concern me.' She said nothing and I left the room, 
but as I went I thought I saw tears in her eyes. I was 
frightened. I loved her passionately, and I said to 
myself that perhaps this was the beginning of decay in 
my love for her. What should I do, what should I be 
if we became estranged ? I felt that horrible half- 
insane terror which men feel during an earthquake, 
when the ground under their feet begins to shake. 

That night an old college friend came to supper with 
us. I had not seen him for two years. His name was 
Robert Barclay. His father was a clergyman who had 



172 WILLIAM HALE WHITE 

been trained theologically in the school of Simeon, and 
was, consequently, very Low Church. Robert also, 
who went to Cambridge, was Low Church while he was 
there, but when he was five-and-twenty there came a 
great change. He woke up as if from a trance, and 
began to ask questions, the result of which was that 
the creed in which he had been educated seemed to 
have no rock-foundation, but to hang in the air. He 
went on until he could only say / do not know ; but it 
was impossible for him to rest here. He was so con- 
stituted that he was compelled to affirm, and, by a 
process which I cannot now develop, he became a 
Roman Catholic, conquering, to his own satisfaction, 
the difficulty of finding for Papal authority a support 
reaching down to the centre which he could not find in 
Simeonism. He was content to rest where Newman 
rested ' there is no help for it : we must either give 
up the belief in the Church as a divine institution alto- 
gether, or we mtist recognize it in that communion of 
which the Pope is the head ; we must take things as 
they are ; to believe in a Church is to believe in the 
Pope.' 

Barclay was often at my father's house before his 
conversion, and there he fell in love with Veronica, 
Margaret's sister, who, with Margaret, was staying with 
my mother. Veronica also was deeply in love with 
him, and they were engaged. Slowly he became pos- 
sessed with a desire to be a priest, with a sure conviction, 
in fact, that he ought to be one. Veronica by this time 
was a Roman Catholic, and she was strong enough to 
urge him to obey what both of them believed to be a 
divine injunction. What these two went through no 
mortal can tell : Heaven only knows. I had a glimpse 
every now and then of a struggle even unto death, of 
wrestling till the blood forced itself through the pores 
of the skin. 

The difficulty lay not in doing what they were sure 
was right, but in discovering what the right was. 



'THE SWEETNESS OF A MAN'S FRIEND' 173 

Sometimes it seemed a clear command that they should 
give themselves up to one another. There was no 
hesitation in it. Both of them were ardent, passionate, 
vividly imaginative. Was it conceivable that such an 
overwhelming impulse was not of God ? The command 
that Robert should be a priest was nothing like so clear ; 
but, on the other hand, both Veronica and Robert were 
too well instructed not to be aware that clearness is not 
decisive as to the authority of a direction, and that the 
true path may be suggested in a whisper when we are 
bidden, as if through a speaking trumpet, to take that 
which leads to destruction. What made the separation 
especially terrible, both to Veronica and Robert, it is 
hard to say. Here are a couple of lines from one of 
Robert's letters to me which may partly explain : 
' There is something in this trouble I cannot put into 
words. It is the complete unfolding, the making real 
to myself, all that is hidden in that word Never. 9 Is 
it possible to express by speech a white handkerchief 
waved from the window of the railway train, or the 
deserted platform where ten minutes before a certain 
woman stood, where her image still lingers ? There 
is something in this which is not mere sorrow. It is 
rather the disclosure of that dread Abyss which underlies 
the life of man. One consequence of this experience 
was the purest sincerity. All insincerity, everything 
unsound, everything which could not stand the severest 
test, was by this trial crushed out of him. His words 
uniformly stood for facts. Perhaps it was his sincerity 
which gave him a power over me such as no other man 
ever possessed. He could not persuade me to follow 
him into the Roman Catholic Church, but this was 
because Margaret held me back. She was the only 
person who could have enabled me to resist. 

Robert was much struck with Margaret's account 
during supper of the manner in which she helped her 
poorer neighbours. She did not give them money or 
clothes or food, nor did she play the district visitor ; 



174 WILLIAM HALE WHITE 

but she went into their houses and devoted to one 
woman an hour in cooking, to another an hour in washing 
clothes, or cleaning rooms and scrubbing floors. Not 
only was this real assistance, but it was an opportunity 
for her to show how work ought to be done. ' I can 
slip in something now and then,' she said, ' which may 
do their souls good, and I am sure that it is the word 
which is spoken casually that is most effective with 
them. It is useless to talk abstractions or to preach in 
general terms the heinousness of sin ; but if Bill next 
door has beaten his wife or drinks and gives her nothing 
out of his wages, you can enlarge on his bad behaviour 
with much profit. As to religion as we understand it 
when we kneel at Holy Communion, it cannot be taught. 
It requires a heavenly endowment as much as writing 
great poems. Keeping your hands from picking and 
stealing is a different matter.' 

Margaret went early to bed. Her little girl, six 
months old, required her attention. We had been 
silent for a few minutes. Somewhat unexpectedly, 
without any introduction, Robert spoke. 

' Margaret is original, and has real genius. What a 
blessing it is that she has honoured you with marriage ! 
Let stupid people say what they will, originality and 
genius in a wife are amongst the greatest of earthly 
blessings. But, although amongst the greatest, there 
is something greater.' His voice shook a little. 
Genius ! originality ! I had not thought of it before. 
. The boat in Alastor crossed my mind, but Robert's 
power asserted itself, a strength sufficient not only to 
change an opinion, but to alter entirely the aspect of 
things, just as in a flash, without argument, Saul per- 
ceived that he had been utterly mistaken. Robert 
revealed the truth of Margaret to me, and the revelation 
was almost miraculous, so strangely disproportionate 
were means to the effect. 

I went into her room. I opened the door gently, 
and saw that she and her child were both asleep, but 



1 THE SWEETNESS OF A MAN'S FRIEND ' 175 

the night-light was burning. I took off my shoes 
outside and crept noiselessly to the little table by the 
side of the bed. A bookmarker in a volume of Shelley 
showed me she had been studying the passages which 
I had read to her about the boat. I went back to bed, 
but not to sleep. Next morning, early, I again went 
into her room. She had been awake, for a page was 
turned over, but her eyes were closed. Her arm lay 
upon the coverlet. I knelt down and took her hand, 
that delicately beautiful hand with its filbert finger- 
nails knelt down and kissed it softly. She started 
a little, sat up, and bent over me, and I felt her lips on 
my head, her thick hair falling over it and enveloping 
it. She died ten years ago. The face in the vision 
which is always before me is a happy face, thank God. 



RICHARD GARNETT 

18351906 

ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 

THE holy Buddha, Sakhya Muni, on dispatching his 
apostles to proclaim his religion throughout the 
peninsula of India, failed not to provide them with 
salutary precepts for their guidance. He exhorted 
them to meekness, to compassion, to abstemiousness, 
to zeal in the promulgation of his doctrine, and added 
an injunction never before or since prescribed by the 
founder of any religion namely, on no account to 
perform any miracle. 

It is further related, that whereas the apostles experi- 
enced considerable difficulty in complying with the 
other instructions of their master, and sometimes a.ctu- 
ally failed therein, the prohibition to work miracles 
was never once transgressed by any of them, save only 
the pious Ananda, the history of whose first year's 
apostolate is recorded as follows. 

Ananda repaired to the kingdom of Magadha, and 
instructed the inhabitants diligently in the law of 
Buddha. His doctrine being acceptable, and his speech 
persuasive, the people hearkened to him willingly, and 
began to forsake the Brahmins whom they had pre- 
viously revered as spiritual guides. Perceiving this, 
Ananda became elated in spirit, and one day he ex- 
claimed : 

' How blessed is the apostle who propagates truth 
by the efficacy of reason and virtuous example, com- 
bined with eloquence, rather than error by imposture 
and devil-monger ing, like those miserable Brahmins ! ' 

176 



AN AND A THE MIRACLE WORKER 177 

As he uttered this vainglorious speech, the mountain 
of his merits was diminished by sixteen yojanas, and 
virtue and efficacy departed from him, insomuch that 
when he next addressed the multitude they first mocked, 
then hooted, and finally pelted him. 

When matters had reached this pass, Ananda lifted 
his eyes and discerned a number of Brahmins of the 
lower sort, busy about a boy who lay in a fit upon the 
ground. They had long been applying exorcisms and 
other approved methods with scant success, when the 
most sagacious among them suggested : 

1 Let us render the body of this patient an uncom- 
fortable residence for the demon ; peradventure he will 
then cease to abide therein.' 

They were accordingly engaged with branding the 
sufferer with hot irons, filling his nostrils with smoke, 
and otherwise to the best of their ability disquieting 
the intrusive devil. Ananda' s first thought was, ' The 
lad is in a fit '; the second, ' It -were a pious deed to 
deliver him from his tormentors ' ; the third, ' By good 
management this may extricate me from my present 
uncomfortable predicament, and redound to the glory 
of the most holy Buddha.' 

Yielding to this temptation, he strode forward, 
chased away the Brahmins with an air of authority, 
and, uplifting his countenance to heaven, recited the 
appellations of seven devils. No effect ensuing, he 
repeated seven more, and so continued until, the fit 
having passed off in the course of nature, the patient's 
paroxysms ceased, he opened his eyes, and Ananda 
restored him to his relatives. But the people cried 
loudly, ' A miracle ! a miracle ! ' and when Ananda 
resumed his instructions, they gave heed to him, and 
numbers embraced the religion of Buddha. Where- 
upon Ananda exulted, and applauded himself for his 
dexterity and presence of mind, and said to himself : 

* Surely the end sanctifies the means.' 

As he propounded this heresy, the eminence of his 



178 RICHARD GARNETT 

merits was reduced to the dimensions of a mole-hill, 
and he ceased to be of account in the eyes of any of the 
saints, save only of Buddha, whose compassion is 
inexhaustible. 

The fame of his achievement, nevertheless, was 
bruited about the whole country, and soon reached the 
ears of the King, who sent for him, and inquired if he 
had actually expelled the demon. 
Ananda replied in the affirmative. 
' I am indeed rejoiced,' returned the King, ' as thpu 
now wilt without doubt proceed to heal my son, who 
has lain in a trance for twenty-nine days.' 

' Alas ! dread sovereign,' modestly returned Ananda, 
' how should the merits which barely suffice to effect 
the cure of a miserable Pariah avail to restore the off- 
spring of an Elephant among Kings ? ' 

' By what process are these merits acquired ? ' 
demanded the monarch. 

' By the 'exercise of penance,' responded Ananda, 
* in virtue of which the austere devotee quells the winds, 
allays the waters, expostulates convincingly with 
tigers, carries the moon in his sleeve, and otherwise 
performs all acts and deeds appropriate to the 
character of a peripatetic thaumaturgist.' 

' This being so,' answered the King, ' thy inability 
to heal my son manifestly arises from defect of merit, 
and defect of merit from defect of penance. I will 
therefore consign thee to the charge of my Brahmins, 
that they may aid thee to fill up the measure of that 
which is lacking.' 

Ananda vainly strove to explain that the austerities 
to which he had referred were entirely of a spiritual 
and contemplative character. The Brahmins, en- 
chanted to get a heretic into their clutches, immediately 
seized upon him, and conveyed him to one of their 
temples. They stripped him, and perceived with 
astonishment that not one single weal or scar was 
visible anywhere on his person. * Horror ! ' they 



ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 179 

exclaimed ; c here is a man who expects to go to heaven 
in a whole skin ! ' To obviate this breach of etiquette, 
they laid him upon his face, and flagellated him until 
the obnoxious soundness of cuticle was entirely 
removed. They then departed, promising to return 
next day and operate in a corresponding manner upon 
the anterior part of his person, after which, they 
jeeringly assured him, his merits would be in no respect 
less than those of the saintly Bhagiratha, or of the regal 
Viswamitra himself. 

Ananda lay half dead upon the floor of the temple, 
when the sanctuary was illuminated by the apparition 
of a resplendent Glendoveer, who thus addressed 
him : 

4 Well, backsliding disciple, art thou yet convinced 
of thy folly ? ' 

Ananda relished neither the imputation on his 
orthodoxy nor that on his wisdom. He replied, 
notwithstanding, with all meekness : 

' Heaven forbid that I should repine at any variety 
of martyrdom that tends to the propagation of my 
master's faith.' 

' Wilt thou then first be healed, and moreover 
become the instrument of converting the entire realm 
of Magadha ? ' 

' How shall this be accomplished ? ' demanded 
Ananda. 

' By perseverance in the path of deceit and dis- 
obedience,' returned the Glendoveer. 

Ananda winced, but maintained silence in the ex- 
pectation of more explicit directions. 

' Know,' pursued the spirit, * that the king's son 
will revive from his trance at the expiration of the 
thirtieth day, which takes place at noon to-morrow. 
Thou hast but to proceed at the fitting period to the 
couch whereon he is deposited, and, placing thy hand 
upon his heart, to command him to rise forthwith. 
His recovery will be ascribed to thy supernatural 



180 RICHARD GARNETT 

powers, and the establishment of Buddha's religion 
will result. Before this it will be needful that I should 
perform an actual cure upon thy back, which is within 
the compass of my capacity. I only request thee to 
take notice, that thou wilt on this occasion be trans- 
gressing the precepts of thy master with thine eyes 
open. It is also meet to apprise thee that thy tem- 
porary extrication from thy present difficulties will 
only involve thee in others still more formidable.' 

' An incorporeal Glendoveer is no judge of the 
feelings of a flayed apostle,' thought Ananda. ' Heal 
me,' he replied, ' if thou canst, and reserve thy admoni- 
tions for a more convenient opportunity.' 

' So be it,' returned the Glendoveer ; and as he 
extended his hand over Ananda, the latter' s back was 
clothed anew with skin, and his previous smart 
simultaneously allayed. The Glendoveer vanished at 
the same moment, saying, ' When thou hast need 
of me, pronounce but the incantation, Gnooh Im- 
dap Inam Mua, 1 and I will immediately be by thy 
side.' 

The anger and amazement of the Brahmins may 
be conceived when, on returning equipped with fresh 
implements of flagellation, they discovered the salu- 
brious condition of their victim. Their scourges would 
probably have undergone conversion into halters, had 
they not been accompanied by a royal officer, who 
took the really triumphant martyr under his protec- 
tion, and carried him off to the palace. He was speedily 
conducted to the young prince's couch, whither a vast 
crowd attended him. The hour of noon not having 
yet arrived, Ananda discreetly protracted the time 
by a seasonable discourse on the impossibility of 
miracles, those only excepted which should be wrought 
by the professors of the faith of Buddha. He then 
descended from his pulpit, and precisely as the sun 
attained the zenith laid his hand upon the bosom of 
i The mystic formula of the Buddhists, read backwards. 



ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 181 

the young prince, who instantly revived, and com- 
pleted a sentence touching the game of dice which 
had been interrupted by his catalepsy. 

The people shouted, the courtiers went into ecstasies, 
the countenances of the Brahmins assumed an ex- 
ceedingly sheepish expression. Even the king seemed 
impressed, and craved to be more particularly in- 
structed in the law of Buddha. In complying with 
this request, Ananda, who had made marvellous 
progress in worldly wisdom during the last twenty- 
four hours, deemed it needless to dilate on the cardinal 
doctrines of his master, the misery of existence, the 
need of redemption, the path to felicity, the prohibi- 
tion to shed blood. He simply stated that the priests 
of Buddha were bound to perpetual poverty, and 
that under the new dispensation all ecclesiastical 
property would accrue to the temporal authorities. 

4 By the holy cow ! ' exclaimed the monarch, ' this 
is something like a religion ! ' 

The words were scarcely out of the royal lips ere 
the courtiers professed themselves converts. The 
multitude followed their example. The Brahminical 
church was promptly disestablished and disendowed, 
and more injustice was committed in the name of the 
new and purified religion in one day than the old 
corrupt one had occasioned in a hundred years. 

Ananda had the satisfaction of feeling able to 
forgive his adversaries, and of valuing himself accord- 
ingly ; and to complete his felicity, he was received 
in the palace, and entrusted with the education of the 
king's son, which he strove to conduct agreeably to 
the precepts of Buddha. This was a task of some 
delicacy, as it involved interference with the princely 
youth's favourite amusement, which had previously 
consisted in torturing small reptiles. 

After a short interval Ananda was again sum- 
moned to the monarch's presence. He found his 
majesty in the company of two most ferocious ruffians, 



182 RICHARD GARNETT 

one of whom bore a huge axe, and the other an 
enormous pair of pincers. 

4 My chief executioner and my chief tormentor,* 
said the king. 

Ananda expressed his gratification at becoming 
acquainted with such exalted functionaries. 

' Thou must know, most holy man,' resumed the 
king, ' that need has again arisen for the exercise of 
fortitude and self-denial on thy part. A powerful 
enemy has invaded my dominions, and has impiously 
presumed to discomfit my troops. Well might I feel 
dismayed, were it not for the consolations of religion ; 
but my trust is in thee, O my spiritual father ! It is 
urgent that thou shouldst accumulate the largest 
amount of merit with the least delay possible. I am 
unable to invoke the ministrations of thy old friends 
the Brahmins to this end, they being, as thou knowest, 
in disgrace, but I have summoned these trusty and 
experienced counsellors in their room. I find them 
not wholly in accord. My chief tormentor, being a 
man of mild temper and humane disposition, con- 
siders that it might at first suffice to employ gentle 
measures, such, for example, as suspending thee head 
downwards in the smoke of a wood fire, and filling 
thy nostrils with red pepper. My chief executioner, 
taking, peradventure, a too professional view of the 
subject, deems it best to resort at once to crucifixion 
or impalement. I would gladly know thy thoughts 
on the matter.' 

Ananda expressed, as well as his terror would suffer 
him, his entire disapproval of both the courses recom- 
mended by the royal advisers. 

4 Well,' said the king, with an air of resignation, 
' if we cannot agree upon either, it follows that we 
must try both. We will meet for that purpose to- 
morrow morning at the second hour. Go in peace ! ' 

Ananda went, but not in peace. His alarm would 
have well-nigh deprived him of his faculties if he had 



AN AND A THE MIRACLE WORKER 183 

not remembered the promise made him by his former 
deliverer. On reaching a secluded spot he pronounced 
the mystic formula, and immediately became aware 
of the presence, not of a radiant Glendoveer, but of 
a holy man, whose head was strewn with ashes, and 
his body anointed with cow-dung. 

' Thy occasion,' said the Fakir, ' brooks no delay. 
Thou must immediately accompany me, and assume 
the garb of a Jogi.' 

Ananda rebelled excessively in his heart, for he 
had imbibed from the mild and sage Buddha a befit- 
ting contempt for these grotesque and cadaverous 
fanatics. The emergency, however, left him no 
resource, <and he followed his guide to a charnel 
house, which the latter had selected as his domicile. 
There, with many lamentations over the smoothness 
of his hair and the brevity of his nails, the Jogi be- 
sprinkled and besmeared Ananda agreeably to his 
own pattern, and scored him with chalk and ochre 
until the peaceful apostle of the gentlest of creeds re- 
sembled a Bengal tiger. He then hung a chaplet of 
infants' skulls about his neck, placed the skull of a 
malefactor in one of his hands, and the thigh-bone of 
a necromancer in the other, and at nightfall conducted 
him into the adjacent cemetery, where, seating him 
on the ashes of a recent funeral pile, he bade him 
drum upon the skull with the thigh-bone, and repeat 
after himself the incantations which he began to 
scream out towards the western part of the firma- 
ment. These charms were apparently possessed of 
singular efficacy, for scarcely were they commenced 
ere a hideous tempest arose, rain descended in torrents, 
phosphoric flashes darted across the sky, wolves and 
hyaenas thronged howling from their dens, and gigantic 
goblins, arising from the earth, extended their flesh- 
less arms towards Ananda, and strove to drag him 
from his seat. Urged by frantic terror, and the 
example and exhortations of his companion, he bat- 



184 RICHARD GARNETT 

tered, banged, and vociferated, until on the very 
verge of exhaustion ; when, as if by enchantment, the 
tempest ceased, the spectres disappeared, and joyous 
shouts and a burst of music announced the occurrence 
of something auspicious in the adjoining city. 

' The hostile king is dead,' said the Jogi ; * and his 
army has dispersed. This will be attributed to thy 
incantations. They are coming in quest of thee even 
now. Farewell until thou again hast need of me.' 

The Jogi disappeared, the tramp of a procession 
became audible, and soon torches glared feebly through 
the damp, cheerless dawn. The monarch descended 
from his state elephant, and, prostrating himself before 
Ananda, exclaimed : 

4 Inestimable man ! why didst thou not disclose 
that thou wert a Jogi ? Never more shall I feel the 
least apprehension of any of my enemies, so long as 
thou continuest an inmate of this cemetery.' 

A family of jackals were unceremoniously dislodged 
from a disused sepulchre, which was allotted to Ananda 
for his future residence. The king permitted no 
alteration in his costume, and took care that the food 
doled out to him should have no tendency to impair 
his sanctity, which speedily gave promise of attaining 
a very high pitch. His hair had already become as 
matted and his nails as long as the Jogi could have 
desired, when he received a visit from another royal 
messenger. The Rajah, so ran the regal missive, 
had been suddenly and mysteriously attacked by a 
dangerous malady, but confidently anticipated relief 
from Ananda's merits and incantations. 

Ananda resumed his thigh-bone and his skull, and 
ruefully began to thump the latter with the former, 
in dismal expectation of the things that were to come. 
But the spell seemed to have lost its potency. No- 
thing more unearthly than a bat presented itself, and 
Ananda was beginning to think that he might as well 
desist when his reflections were diverted by the appari- 



ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 185 

tion of a tall and grave personage, wearing a sad- 
coloured robe, and carrying a long wand, who stood 
by his side as suddenly as though just risen from the 
earth. 

' The caldron is ready,' said the stranger. 

' What caldron ? ' demanded Ananda. 

* That wherein thou art about to be immersed.' 

* I immersed hi a caldron ! wherefore ? ' 

4 Thy spells,' returned his interlocutor, ' having 
hitherto failed to afford his Majesty the slightest 
relief, and his experience of their efficacy on a former 
occasion forbidding: him to suppose that they can be 
inoperative he is naturally led to ascribe to their 
pernicious influence that aggravation of pain of which 
he has for some time past unfortunately been sensible. 
I have confirmed him in this conjecture, esteeming it 
for the interest of science that his anger should fall 
upon an impudent impostor like thee rather than rn 
a discreet and learned physician like myself. He has 
consequently directed the principal caldron to be 
kept boiling all night, intending to immerse thee 
therein at daybreak, unless he should in the meantime 
derive some benefit from thy conjurations.' 

1 Heavens ! J exclaimed Ananda, ' whither shall I 
fly?' 

* Nowhere beyond this cemetery,' returned the 
physician, * inasmuch as it is entirely surrounded by 
the royal forces.' 

4 Wherein, then,' demanded the agonized apostle, 
* doth the path of safety lie ? ' 

' In this phial,' answered the physician. * It con- 
tains a subtle poison. Demand to be led before the 
king. Affirm that thou hast received a sovereign 
medicine from the hands of benignant spirits. He 
will drink it and perish, and thou wilt be richly re- 
warded by his successor.' 

* Avaunt , tempter ! ' cried Ananda, hurling the phial 
indignantly away. ' I defy thee ! and will have re- 



186 RICHARD GARNETT 

course to my old deliverer Gnooh Imdap Inam 
Mua!" 

But the charm appeared to fail of its effect. No 
figure was visible to his gaze, save that of the phy- 
sician, who seemed to regard him with an expression 
of pity as he gathered up his robes and melted rather 
than glided into the encompassing darkness. 

Ananda remained, contending with himself. Count- 
less times was he on the point of calling after the 
physician and imploring him to return with a potion 
of like properties to the one rejected, but something 
seemed always to rise in his throat and impede his 
utterance, until, worn out by agitation, he fell asleep 
and dreamed this dream. 

He thought he stood at the vast and gloomy entrance 
of Patala. 1 The lugubrious spot wore a holiday 
appearance ; everything seemed to denote a dia- 
bolical gala. Swarms of demons of all shapes and 
sizes beset the portal, contemplating what appeared 
to be preparations for an illumination. Strings of 
coloured lamps were in course of disposition in wreaths 
and festoons by legions of frolicsome imps, chattering, 
laughing, and swinging by their tails like so many 
monkeys. The operation was directed from below 
by superior fiends of great apparent gravity and 
respectability. These bore wands of office, tipped 
with yellow flames, wherewith they singed the tails of 
the imps when such discipline appeared to them to be 
requisite. Ananda could not refrain from asking the 
reason of these festive preparations. 

' They are in honour,' responded the demon in- 
terrogated, ' of the pious Ananda, one of the 
apostles of the Lord Buddha, whose advent is 
hourly expected among us with much eagerness and 
satisfaction.' 

The horrified Ananda with much difficulty mustered 
resolution to inquire on what account the apostle in 
i The Hindoo Pandemonium* 



ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 187 

question was necessitated to take up his abode in the 
infernal regions. 

' On account of poisoning,' returned the fiend 
laconically. 

Ananda was about to seek further explanations, 
when his attention was arrested by a violent altercation 
between two of the supervising demons. 

' Kammuragha, evidently,' croaked one. 

' Damburanana, of course,' snarled the other. 

' May I,' inquired Ananda of the fiend he had before 
addressed, ' presume to ask the signification of Kam- 
muragha and Damburanana ? ' 

' They are two hells,' replied the demon. ' In 
Kammuragha the occupant is plunged into melted 
pitch and fed with melted lead. In Damburanana he 
is plunged into melted lead and fed with melted pitch. 
My colleagues are debating which is the more appro- 
priate to the demerits of our guest Ananda.' 

Ere Ananda had time to digest this announcement 
a youthful imp descended from above with agility, and, 
making a profound reverence, presented himself before 
the disputants. 

'"Venerable demons,' interposed he, ' might my 
insignificance venture to suggest that we cannot well 
testify too much honour for our visitor Ananda, seeing 
that he is the only apostle of Buddha w r ith whose com- 
pany we are likely ever to be indulged ? Wherefore 
I would propose that neither Kammuragha nor Dam- 
buranana be assigned for his residence, but that the 
amenities of all the two hundred and forty-four 
thousand hells be combined in a new one, constructed 
especially for his reception.' 

The imp having thus spoken, the senior demons were 
amazed at his precocity, and performed a pradakshina, 
exclaiming, ' Truly thou art a highly superior young 
devil ! ' They then departed to prepare the new in- 
fernal chamber, agreeably to his recipe. 

Ananda awoke, shuddering with terror. 



188 RICHARD GARNETT 

' Why,' he exclaimed, ' why was I ever an apostle ? 
O Buddha ! Buddha ! how hard are the paths of 
saintliness ! How prone to error are the well-meaning ! 
How huge is the absurdity of spiritual pride ! ' 

' Thou hast discovered that, my son ? ' said a gentle 
voice in his vicinity. 

He turned and beheld the divine Buddha, radiant 
with a mild and benignant light. A cloud seemed 
rolled away from his vision, and he recognized in his 
master the Glendoveer, the Jogi, and the Physician. 

' holy teacher ! ' exclaimed he in extreme pertur- 
bation, ' whither shall I turn ? My sin forbids me to 
approach thee.' 

' Not on account of thy sin art thou forbidden, my 
son,' returned Buddha, ' but on account of the ridicu- 
lous and unsavoury plight to which thy knavery and 
disobedience have reduced thee. I have now appeared 
to remind thee that this day all my apostles meet 
on Mount Vindhya to render an account of their mission, 
and to inquire whether I am to deliver thine in thy stead, 
or whether thou art minded to proclaim it thyself.' 

1 1 will render it with my own lips,' resolutely 
exclaimed Ananda. ' It is meet that I should bear the 
humiliation of acknowledging my folly.' 

' Thou hast said well, my son,' replied Buddha, ' and 
in return I will permit thee to discard the attire, if such 
it may be termed, of a Jogi, and to appear in our 
assembly wearing the yellow robe as beseems my 
disciple. Nay, I will even infringe my own rule on 
thy behalf, and perform a not inconsiderable miracle 
by immediately transporting thee to the summit of 
Vindhya, where the faithful are already beginning to 
assemble. Thou wouldst otherwise incur much risk 
of being torn to pieces by the multitude, who, as the 
shouts now approaching may instruct thee, are be- 
ginning to extirpate my religion at the instigation of 
the new king, thy hopeful pupil. The old king is 
dead, poisoned by the Brahmins.' 



ANANDA THE MIRACLE WORKER 189 

4 O master ! master ! ' exclaimed Ananda, weeping 
bitterly, ' and is all the work undone, and all by my 
fault and folly ? ' 

' That which is built on fraud and imposture can by 
no means endure,' returned Buddha, ' be it the very 
truth of heaven. Be comforted ; thou shalt proclaim 
my doctrine to better purpose in other lands. Thou 
hast this time but a sorry account to render of thy 
stewardship ; yet thou mayest truly declare that thou 
hast obeyed my precept in the letter, if not in the spirit, 
since none can assert that thou hast ever wrought any 
miracle.' 



FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

18391902 

THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 

As Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, stepped into the 
main street of Poker Flat on the morning of the twenty- 
third of November, 1850, he was conscious of a change 
in its moral atmosphere since the preceding night. 
Two or three men, conversing earnestly together, 
ceased as he approached, and exchanged significant 
glances. There was a Sabbath lull in the air, which, 
in a settlement unused to Sabbath influences, looked 
ominous. 

Mr. Oakhurst' s calm, handsome face betrayed small 
concern in these indications. Whether he was con- 
scious of any predisposing cause, was another question. 
4 1 reckon they're after somebody,' he reflected ; ' likely 
it's me.' He returned to his pocket the handkerchief 
with which he had been whipping away the red dust 
of Poker Flat from his neat boots, and quietly dis- 
charged his mind of any further conjecture. 

In point of fact, Poker Flat was ' after somebody.' 
It had lately suffered the loss of several thousand 
dollars, two valuable horses, and a prominent citizen. 
It was experiencing a spasm of virtuous reaction, quite 
as lawless and ungovernable as any of the acts that had 
provoked it. A secret committee had determined to 
rid the town of all improper persons. This was done 
permanently in regard of two men who were then hang- 
ing from the boughs of a sycamore in the gulch, and 
temporarily in the banishment of certain other objec- 
tionable characters, I regret to say that some of these 

190 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 191 

were ladies. It is but due to the sex, however, to state 
that their impropriety was professional, and it was only 
in such easily established standards of evil that Poker 
Flat ventured to sit in judgement. 

Mr. Oakhurst was right in supposing that he was in- 
cluded in this category. A few of the committee had urged 
hanging him as a possible example, and a sure method 
of reimbursing themselves from his pockets of the sums 
he had won from them. ' It's agin justice,' said Jim 
Wheeler, ' to let this yer young man from Roaring 
Camp an entire stranger carry away our money.' 
But a crude sentiment of equity residing in the breasts 
of those who had been fortunate enough to win from 
Mr. Oakhurst overruled this narrower local prejudice. 

Mr. Oakhurst received his sentence with philosophic 
calmness, none the less coolly that he was aware of the 
hesitation of his judges. He was too much of a 
gambler not to accept fate. With him life was at 
best an uncertain game, and he recognized the usual 
percentage in favour of the dealer. 

A body of armed men accompanied the deported 
wickedness of Poker Flat to the outskirts of the settle- 
ment. Besides Mr. Oakhurst, who was known to be a 
coolly desperate man, and for whose intimidation the 
armed escort was intended, the expatriated party 
consisted of a young woman familiarly known as ' The 
Duchess ' ; another, who had won the title of ' Mother 
Shipton ' ; and ' Uncle Billy,' a suspected sluice-robber 
and confirmed drunkard. The cavalcade provoked no 
comments from the spectators, nor was any word 
uttered by the escort. Only when the gulch which 
marked the uttermost limit of Poker Flat was reached, 
the leader spoke briefly and to the point. The exiles 
were forbidden to return at the peril of their lives. 

As the escort disappeared, their pent-up feelings 
found vent in a few hysterical tears from the Duchess, 
some bad language from Mother Shipton, and a Par- 
thian volley of expletives from Uncle Billy. The 



192 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

philosophic Oakhurst alone remained silent. He 
listened calmly to Mother Shipton's desire to cut some- 
body's heart out, to the repeated statements of the 
Duchess that she would die in the road, and to the 
alarming oaths that seemed to be bumped out of Uncle 
Billy as he rode forward. With the easy good-humour 
characteristic of his class, he insisted upon exchanging 
his own riding-horse, ' Five Spot,' for the sorry mule 
which the Duchess rode. But even this act did not 
draw the party into any closer sympathy. The young 
woman readjusted her somewhat draggled plumes with 
a feeble, faded coquetry ; Mother Shipton eyed the - 
possessor of ' Five Spot ' with malevolence ; and Uncle 
Billy included the whole party in one sweeping 
anathema. 

The road to Sandy Bar a camp that, not having as 
yet experienced the regenerating influences of Poker 
Flat, consequently seemed to offer some invitation to 
the emigrants lay over a steep mountain range. It 
was distant a day's severe travel. In that advanced 
season, the party soon passed out of the moist, tem- 
perate regions of the foot-hills into the dry, cold, bracing 
air of the Sierras. The trail was narrow and difficult. 
At noon the Duchess, rolling out of her saddle upon the 
ground, declared her intention of going no farther, and 
the party halted. 

The spot was singularly wild and impressive. A 
wooded amphitheatre, surrounded on three sides by 
precipitous cliffs of naked granite, sloped gently toward 
the crest of another precipice that overlooked the valley. 
It was, undoubtedly, the most suitable spot for a camp, 
had camping been advisable. But Mr. Oakhurst knew 
that scarcely half the journey to Sandy Bar was accom- 
plished, and the party were not equipped or provisioned 
for delay. This fact he pointed out to his companions 
curtly, with a philosophic commentary on the folly of 
' throwing up their hand before the game was played 
out.' But they were furnished with liquor, which in 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 193 

this emergency stood them in place of food, fuel, rest, 
and prescience. In spite of his remonstrances, it was 
not long before they were more or less under its 
influence. Uncle Billy passed rapidly from a bellicose 
state into one of stupor, the Duchess became maudlin, 
and Mother Shipton snored. Mr. Oakhurst alone 
remained erect, leaning against a rock, calmly surveying 
them. 

Mr. Oakhurst did not drink. It interfered with a 
profession which required coolness, impassiveness, and 
presence of mind, and, in his own language, he ' couldn't 
afford it.' As he gazed at his recumbent fellow- exiles, 
the loneliness begotten of his pariah -trade, his habits of 
life, his very vices, for the first time seriously oppressed 
him. He bestirred himself in dusting his black clothes, 
washing his hands and face, and other acts character- 
istic of his studiously neat habits, and for a moment 
forgot his annoyance. The thought of deserting his 
weaker and more pitiable companions never perhaps 
occurred to him. Yet he could not help feeling the 
want of that excitement which, singularly enough, was 
most conducive to that calm equanimity for which he 
was notorious. He looked at the gloomy walls that 
rose a thousand feet sheer above the circling pines 
around him ; at the sky, ominously clouded ; at the 
valley below, already deepening into shadow. And, 
doing so, suddenly he heard his own name called. 

A horseman slowly ascended the trail. In the fresh, 
open face of the new-comer Mr. Oakhurst recognized 
Tom Simson, otherwise known as ' The Innocent ' of 
Sandy Bar. He had met him some months before over 
a l little game,' and had, with perfect equanimity, won 
the entire fortune amounting to some forty dollars 
of that guileless youth. After the game was finished, 
Mr. Oakhurst drew the youthful speculator behind the 
door, and thus addressed him : ' Tommy, you're a good 
little man, but you can't gamble worth a cent. Don't 
try it over again,' He then handed him his money 

228 H 



194 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

back, pushed him gently from the room, and so made 
a devoted slave of Tom Simson. 

There was a remembrance of this in his boyish and 
enthusiastic greeting of Mr. Oakhurst. He had started, 
he said, to go to Poker Flat to seek his fortune. ' Alone ? ' 
No, not exactly alone ; in fact (a giggle), he had run 
away with Piney Woods. Didn't Mr. Oakhurst remem- 
ber Piney ? She that used to wait on the table at the 
Temperance House ? They had been engaged a long 
time, but old Jake Woods had objected, and so they 
had run away, and were going to Poker Flat to be 
married, and here they were. And they were tired out, 
and how lucky it was they had found a place to camp 
and company ! All this the Innocent delivered rapidly, 
while Piney, a stout, comely damsel of fifteen, emerged 
from behind the pine-tree, where she had been blushing 
unseen, and rode to the side of her lover. 

Mr. Oakhurst seldom troubled himself with senti- 
ment, still less with propriety ; but he had a vague 
idea that the situation was not fortunate. He retained, 
however, his presence of mind sufficiently to kick Uncle 
Billy, who was about to say something, and Uncle 
Billy was sober enough to recognize in Mr. Oakhurst "s 
kick a superior power that would not bear trifling. He 
then endeavoured to dissuade Tom Simson from delay- 
ing further, but in vain. He even pointed out the fact 
that there was no provision, nor means of making a 
camp. But, unluckily, the Innocent met this objection 
by assuring the party that he was provided with an 
extra mule loaded with provisions, and by the discovery 
of a rude attempt at a log-house near the trail. ' Piney 
can stay with Mrs. Oakhurst,' said the Innocent, point- 
ing to the Duchess, * and I can shift for myself.' 

Nothing but Mr. Oakhurst's admonishing foot saved 
Uncle Billy from bursting into a roar of laughter. As it 
was, he felt compelled to retire up the canon until he 
could recover his gravity. There he confided the joke 
to the tall pine-trees, with many slaps of his leg, con- 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 195 

tortions of his face, and the usual profanity. But 
when he returned to the party, he found them seated 
by a fire for the air had grown strangely chill and the 
sky overcast^-in apparently amicable conversation. 
Piney was actually talking in an impulsive, girlish 
fashion to the Duchess, who was listening with an 
interest and animation she had not shown for many 
days. The Innocent was holding forth, apparently 
with equal effect, to Mr. Oakhurst and Mother Shipton, 
who was actually relaxing into amiability. ' Is this 
yer a d d picnic ? ' said Uncle Billy, with inward scorn, 
as he surveyed the sylvan group, the glancing firelight, 
and the tethered animals in the foreground. Suddenly 
an idea mingled with the alcoholic fumes that disturbed 
his brain. It was apparently of a jocular nature, for he 
felt impelled to slap his leg again and cram his fist into 
his mouth. 

As the shadows crept slowly up the mountain, a 
slight breeze rocked the tops of the pine-trees, and 
moaned through their long and gloomy aisles. The 
ruined cabin, patched and covered with pine-boughs, 
was set apart for the ladies. As the lovers parted, they 
unaffectedly exchanged a kiss, so honest and sincere 
that it might have been heard above the swaying pines. 
The frail Duchess and the malevolent Mother Shipton 
were probably too stunned to remark upon this last 
evidence of simplicity, and so turned without a word 
to the hut. The fire was replenished, the men lay down 
before the door, and in a few minutes were asleep. 

Mr. Oakhurst was a light sleeper. Toward morning 
he awoke benumbed and cold. As he stirred the dying 
fire, the wind, which was now blowing strongly, brought 
to his cheek that which caused the blood to leave it, 
snow ! 

He started to his feet with the intention of awakening 
the sleepers, for there was no time to lose. But turning 
to where Uncle Billy had been lying, he found him gone. 
A suspicion leaped to his brain and a curse to his lips, 



196 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

He ran to the spot where the mules had been tethered ; 
they were no longer there. The tracks were already 
rapidly disappearing in the snow. 

The momentary excitement brought Mr. Oakhurst 
back to the fire with his usual calm. He did not waken 
the sleepers. The Innocent slumbered peacefully, 
with a smile on his good-humoured, freckled face ; the 
virgin Piney slept beside her frailer sisters as sweetly 
as though attended by celestial guardians, and Mr. 
Oakhurst, drawing his blanket over his shoulders, 
stroked his moustaches and waited for the dawn. It 
came slowly in a whirling mist of snow-flakes, that 
dazzled and confused the eye. What could be seen of 
the landscape appeared magically changed. He looked 
over the valley, and summed up the present and future 
in two words ' snowed in ! ' 

A careful inventory of the provisions, which, fortun- 
ately for the party, had been stored within the hut, and 
so escaped the felonious fingers of Uncle Billy, disclosed 
the fact that with care and prudence they might last 
ten days longer. ' That is,' said Mr. Oakhurst, sotto 
voce to the Innocent, ' if you're willing to board us. If 
you ain't and perhaps you'd better not you can 
wait till Uncle Billy gets back with provisions.' For 
some occult reason, Mr. Oakhurst could not bring 
himself to disclose Uncle Billy's rascality, and so 
offered the hypothesis that he had wandered from the 
camp and had accidentally stampeded the animals. 
He dropped a warning to the Duchess and Mother Ship- 
ton, who of course knew the facts of their associate's 
defection. ' They'll find out the truth about us all 
when they find out anything,' he added, significantly, 
4 and there's no good frightening them now.' 

Tom Simson not only put all his worldly store at the 
disposal of Mr. Oakhurst, but seemed to enjoy the pros- 
pect of their enforced seclusion. ' We'll have a good 
camp for a week, and then the snow'll melt, and we'll 
all go back together.' The cheerful gaiety of the young 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 197 

man and Mr. Oakhurst's calm infected the others. 
The Innocent, with the aid of pine-boughs, extempor- 
ized a thatch for the roofless cabin, and the Duchess 
directed Piney in the rearrangement of the interior 
with a taste and tact that opened the blue eyes of that 
provincial maiden to their fullest extent. ' I reckon 
now you're used to fine things at Poker Flat,' said Piney. 
The Duchess turned away sharply to conceal something 
that reddened her cheeks through their professional tint, 
and Mother Shipton requested Piney not to ' chatter.' 
But when Mr. Oakhurst returned from a weary search 
for the trail, he heard the sound of happy laughter 
echoed from the rocks. He stopped in some alarm, 
and his thoughts first naturally reverted to the whisky, 
which he had prudently cached. ' And yet it don't 
somehow sound like whisky,' said the gambler. It was 
not until he caught sight of the blazing fire through 
the still blinding storm and the group around it, that he 
settled to the conviction that it was ' square fun.' 

Whether Mr. Oakhurst had cached his cards with the 
whisky as something debarred the free access of the 
community, I cannot say. It was certain that, in 
Mother Shipton' s words, he ' didn't say cards once ' 
during that evening. Haply the time was beguiled by 
an accordion, produced somewhat ostentatiously by 
Tom Simson from his pack. Notwithstanding some 
difficulties attending the manipulation of this instru- 
ment, Piney Woods managed to pluck several reluctant 
melodies from its keys, to an accompaniment by the 
Innocent on a pair of bone castanets. But the crowning 
festivity of the evening was reached in a rude camp- 
meeting hymn, which the lovers, joining hands, sang 
with great earnestness and vociferation. I fear that a 
certain defiant tone and Covenanter's swing to its chorus, 
rather than any devotional quality, caused it speedily 
to infect the others, who at last joined in the refrain : 

' I'm proud to live in the service of the Lord, 
And I'm bound to die in His army.' 



198 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

The pines rocked, the storm eddied and whirled 
above the miserable group, and the flames of their altar 
leaped heavenward, as if in token of the vow. 

At midnight the storm abated, the rolling clouds 
parted, and the stars glittered keenly above the sleeping 
camp. Mr. Oakhurst, whose professional habits had en- 
abled him to live on the smallest possible amount of 
sleep, in dividing the watch with Tom Simson, somehow 
managed to take upon himself the greater part of that 
duty. He excused himself to the Innocent by saying 
that he had * often been a week without sleep.' ' Doing 
what ? ' asked Tom. ' Poker ! ' replied Oakhurst, 
sententiously ; ' when a man gets a streak of luck 
nigger-luck he don't get tired. The luck gives in first. 
Luck,' continued the gambler, reflectively, ' is a mighty 
queer thing. All you know about it for certain is 
that it's bound to change. And it's finding out when 
it's going to change that makes you. We've had a 
streak of bad luck since we left Poker Flat you come 
along, and slap you get into it, too. If you can hold 
your cards right along you're all right. For,' added 
the gambler, with cheerful irrelevance 

' " I'm proud to live in the service of the Lord, 
And I'm bound to die in His army." ' 

The third day came, and the sun, looking through 
the white-curtained valley, saw the outcasts divide 
their slowly decreasing store of provisions for the 
morning meal. It was one of the peculiarities of that 
mountain climate that its rays diffused a kindly warmth 
over the wintry landscape, as if in regretful commisera- 
tion of the past. But it revealed drift on drift of snow 
piled high around the hut a hopeless, uncharted, 
trackless sea of white lying below the rocky shores to 
which the castaways still clung. Through the marvel- 
lously clear air the smoke of the pastoral village of 
Poker Flat rose miles away. Mother Shipton saw it, 
and from a remote pinnacle of her rocky fastness, 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 199 

hurled in that direction a final malediction. It was her 
last vituperative attempt, and perhaps for that reason 
was invested with a certain degree of sublimity. It 
did her good, she privately informed the Duchess. 
' Just you go out there and cuss, and see.' She then 
set herself to the task of amusing ' the child,' as she and 
the Duchess were pleased to call Piney. Piney was 
no chicken, but it was a soothing and original theory 
of the pair thus to account for the fact that she didn't 
swear and wasn't improper. 

When night crept up again through the gorges, the 
reedy notes of the accordion rose and fell in fitful 
spasms and long-drawn gasps by the nickering camp- 
fire. But music failed to fill entirely the aching void 
left by insufficient food, and a new diversion was 
proposed by Piney story-telling. Neither Mr. Oak- 
hurst nor his female companions caring to relate their 
personal experiences, this plan would have failed, too, 
but for the Innocent. Some months before he had 
chanced upon a stray copy of Mr. Pope's ingenious 
translation of the Iliad. He now proposed to narrate 
the principal incidents of that poem having 
thoroughly mastered the argument and fairly forgotten 
the words in the current vernacular of Sandy Bar. 
And so for the rest of that night the Homeric demi- 
gods again walked the earth. Trojan bully and wily 
Greek wrestled in the winds, and the great pines in the 
canon seemed to bow to the wrath of the son of Peleus. 
Mr. Oakhurst listened with quiet satisfaction. Most 
especially was he interested in the fate of ' Ash-heels,' 
as the Innocent persisted in denominating the ' swift- 
footed Achilles.' 

So with small food and much of Homer and the 
accordion, a week passed over the heads of the outcasts. 
The sun again forsook them, and again from leaden 
skies the snowflakes were sifted over the land. Day by 
day closer around them drew the snowy circle, until at 
last they looked from their prison over drifted walls of 



200 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

dazzling white, that towered twenty feet above their 
heads. It became more and more difficult to replenish 
their fires, even from the fallen trees beside them, now 
half hidden in the drifts. And yet no one complained. 
The lovers turned from the dreary prospect and looked 
into each other's eyes, and were happy. Mr. Oakhurst 
settled himself coolly to the losing game before him. 
The Duchess, more cheerful than she had been, assumed 
the care of Piney. Only Mother Shipton once the 
strongest of the party seemed to sicken and fade. 
At midnight on the tenth day she called Oakhurst to 
her side. ' I'm going,' she said, in a voice of querulous 
weakness, ' but don't say anything about it. Don't 
waken the kids. Take the bundle from under my head 
and open it.' Mr. Oakhurst did so. It contained 
Mother Shipton's rations for the last week, untouched. 

* Give 'em to the child,' she said, pointing to the sleeping 
Piney. ' You've starved yourself,' said the gambler. 

* That's what they call it,' said the woman, querulously, 
as she lay down again, and, turning her face to the wall, 
passed quietly away. 

The accordion and the bones were put aside that day, 
and Homer was forgotten. When the body of Mother 
Shipton had been committed to the snow, Mr. Oakhurst 
took the Innocent aside, and showed him a pair of snow- 
shoes, which he had fashioned from the old pack-saddle. 
' There's one chance in a hundred to save her yet,' he 
said, pointing to Piney ; ' but it's there,' he added, 
pointing towards Poker Flat. ' If you can reach there 
in two days she's safe.' ' And you ? ' asked Tom 
Simson. ' I'll stay here,' was the curt reply. 

The lovers parted with a long embrace. * You are 
not going, too ? ' said the Duchess, as she saw Mr. Oak- 
hurst apparently waiting to accompany him. ' As 
far as the canon,' he replied. He turned suddenly, 
and kissed the Duchess, leaving her pallid face aflame, 
and her trembling limbs rigid with amazement. 

Night came, but not Mr. Oakhurst. It brought the 



THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT 201 

storm again and the whirling snow. Then the Duchess, 
feeding the fire, found that someone had quietly piled 
beside the hut enough fuel to last a few days longer. 
The tears rose to her eyes, but she hid them from Piney. 

The women slept but little. In the morning, looking 
into each other's faces, they read their fate. Neither 
spoke ; but Piney, accepting the position of the 
stronger, drew near and placed her arm around the 
Duchess's waist. They kept this attitude for the rest 
of the day. That night the storm reached its greatest 
fury, and, rending asunder the protecting pines, 
invaded the very hut. 

Toward morning they found themselves unable to 
feed the fire, which gradually died away. As the 
embers slowly blackened, the Duchess crept closer to 
Piney, and broke the silence of many hours : ' Piney, 
can you pray ? ' ' No, dear,' said Piney, simply. The 
Duchess, without knowing exactly why, felt relieved, 
and, putting her head upon Piney's shoulder, spoke no 
more. And so reclining, the younger and purer 
pillowing the head of her soiled sister upon her virgin 
breast, they fell asleep. 

The wind lulled as if it feared to waken them. 
Feathery drifts of snow, shaken from the long pine- 
boughs, flew like white-winged birds, and settled about 
them as they slept. The moon through the rifted 
clouds looked down upon what had been the camp. 
But all human stain, all trace of earthly travail, was 
hidden beneath the spotless mantle mercifully flung 
from above. 

They slept all that day and the next, nor did they 
waken when voices and footsteps broke the silence of 
the camp. And when pitying fingers brushed the snow 
from their wan faces, you could scarcely have told, from 
the equal peace that dwelt upon them, which was she 
that had sinned. Even the law of Poker Flat recog- 
nized this, and turned away, leaving them still locked 
in each other's arms. 



202 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

But at the head of the gulch, on one of the largest 
pine-trees, they found the deuce of clubs pinned to the 
bark with a bowie-knife. It bore the following, written 
in pencil, in a firm hand : 

t 

BENEATH THIS TREE 

LIES THE BODY 

OF 

JOHN OAKHURST, 

WHO STRUCK A STREAK OF BAD LUCK 
ON THE 23RD OF NOVEMBER, 1850, 

AND 

HANDED IN HIS CHECKS 
ON THE 7TH DECEMBER, 1850. 



And pulseless and cold, with a Derringer by his side and 
a bullet in his heart, though still calm as in life, beneath 
the snow lay he who was at once the strongest and yet 
the weakest of the outcasts of Poker Flat. 



HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME TO SIMPSON'S BAR 

IT had been raining in the valley of the Sacramento. 
The North Fork had overflowed its banks, and Rattle- 
snake Creek was impassable. The few boulders that had 
marked the summer ford at Simpson's Crossing were 
obliterated by a vast sheet of water stretching to the 
foothills. The up-stage was stopped at Grangers ; 
the last mail had been abandoned in the tules, the rider 
swimming for his life. ' An area,' remarked the Sierra 
Avalanche, with pensive local pride, ' as large as the 
State of Massachusetts is now under water.' 



HOW SANTA GLAUS CAME 203 

Nor was the weather any better in the foothills. 
The mud lay deep on the mountain road ; wagons that 
neither physical force nor moral objurgation could 
move from the evil ways into which they had fallen, 
encumbered the track, and the way to Simpson's Bar 
was indicated by broken-down teams and hard swearing. 
And farther on, cut off and inaccessible, rained upon 
and bedraggled, smitten by high winds and threatened 
by high water, Simpson's Bar, on the eve of Christmas 
Day, 1862, clung like a swallow's nest to the rocky 
entablature and splintered capitals of Table Mountain, 
and shook in the blast. 

As night shut down on the settlement, a few lights 
gleamed through the mist from the windows of cabins 
on either side of the highway now crossed and gullied 
by lawless streams and swept by marauding winds. 
Happily most of the population were gathered at 
Thompson's store, clustered round a red-hot stove, at 
which they silently spat in some accepted sense of 
social communion that perhaps rendered conversation 
unnecessary. Indeed, most methods of diversion had 
long since been exhausted on Simpson's Bar ; high water 
had suspended the regular occupations on gulch and on 
river, and a consequent lack of money and whisky had 
taken the zest from most illegitimate recreation. Even 
Mr. Hamlin was fain to leave the Bar with fifty dollars 
in his pocket the only amount actually realized of the 
large sums won by him in the successful exercise of his 
arduous profession. ' Ef I was asked,' he remarked 
somewhat later, ' ef I was asked to pint out a purty 
little village where a retired sport as didn't care for 
money could exercise hisself , frequent and lively, I'd say 
Simpson's Bar ; but for a young man with a large family 
depending on his exertions, it don't pay.' As Mr. Ham- 
lin' s family consisted mainly of female adults, this remark 
is quoted rather to show the breadth of his humour than 
the exact extent of his responsibilities. 

Howbeit, the unconscious objects of this satire sat 



204 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

that evening in the listless apathy begotten of idleness 
and lack of excitement. Even the sudden splashing 
of hoofs before the door did not arouse them. Dick 
Bullen alone paused in the act of scraping out his pipe, 
and lifted his head, but no other one of the group 
indicated any interest in, or recognition of, the man 
who entered. 

It was a figure familiar enough to the company, and 
known in Simpson's Bar as ' The Old Man.' A man of 
perhaps fifty years ; grizzled and scant of hair, but 
still fresh and youthful of complexion. A face full 
of ready but not very powerful sympathy, with a 
chameleon-like aptitude for taking on the shade and 
colour of contiguous moods and feelings. He had evi- 
dently just left some hilarious companions, and did not 
at first notice the gravity of the group, but clapped the 
shoulder of the nearest man jocularly, and threw 
himself into a vacant chair. 

' Jest heard the best thing out, boys ! Ye know 
Smiley, over yar Jim Smiley funniest man in the 
Bar ? Well, Jim was jest telling the richest yarn 
about ' 

* Smiley' s a fool,' interrupted a gloomy voice. 

1 A particular skunk,' added another in sepul- 
chral accents. 

A silence followed these positive statements. The 
Old Man glanced quickly around the group. Then his 
face slowly changed. ' That's so,' he said reflectively, 
after a pause, ' certingly a sort of a skunk and suthin' 
of a fool. In course.' He was silent for a moment as 
in painful contemplation of the unsavouriness and folly 
of the unpopular Smiley. ' Dismal weather, ain't it ? ' 
he added, now fully embarked on the current of pre- 
vailing sentiment. ' Mighty rough papers on the boys, 
and no show for money this season. And to-morrow's 
Christmas.' 

There was a movement among the men at this an- 
nouncement, but whether of satisfaction or disgust was 



HOW SANTA GLAUS CAME 205 

not plain. ' Yes,' continued the Old Man in the lugubri- 
ous tone he had, within the last few moments, uncon- 
sciously adopted,' yes , Christmas , and to-night' s Christ- 
masEve. Ye see, boys, I kinderthought thatis,! sorter 
had an idee, jest passin' like, you know that maybe 
ye'd all like to come over to my house to-night and 
have a sort of tear round. But I suppose, now, you 
wouldn't ? Don't feel like it, maybe ? ' he added with 
anxious sympathy, peering into the faces of his com- 
pardons. 

' Well, I don't know,' responded Tom Flynn with 
some cheerfulness. ' P'r'aps we may. But how about 
your wife, Old Man .? What does she say to it ? ' 

The Old Man hesitated. His conjugal experience 
had not been a happy one, and the fact was known to 
Simpson's Bar. His first wife, a delicate, pretty little 
woman, had suffered keenly and secretly from the 
jealous suspicions of her husband, until one day he 
invited the whole Bar to his house to expose her 
infidelity. On arriving, the party found the shy, petite 
creature quietly engaged in her household duties, and 
retired abashed and discomfited. But the sensitive 
woman did not easily recover from the shock of this 
extraordinary outrage. It was with difficulty she 
regained her equanimity sufficiently to release her lover 
from the closet in which he was concealed, and escape 
with him. She left a boy of three years to comfort her 
bereaved husband. The Old Man's present wife had 
been his cook. She was large, loyal, and aggressive. 

Before he could reply, Joe Dimmick suggested with 
great directness that it was the ' Old Man's house,' and 
that, invoking the Divine Power, if the case were his 
own, he would invite whom he pleased, even if in so 
doing he imperilled his salvation. The Powers of Evil, 
he further remarked, should contend against him 
vainly. All this delivered with a terseness and vigour 
lost in this necessary translation. 

' In course. Certainly. Thet's it,' said the Old 



206 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

Man with a sympathetic frown. * Thar's no trouble 
about thet. It's my own house, built every stick on it 
myself. Don't you be afeard o' her, boys. She may 
cut up a trifle rough ez wimmin do but she'll come 
round.' Secretly the Old Man trusted to the exaltation 
of liquor and the power of courageous example to 
sustain him in such an emergency. 

As yet, Dick Bullen, the oracle and leader of Simp- 
son's Bar, had not spoken. He now took his pipe from 
his lips. ' Old Man, how's that yer Johnny gettin' on ? 
Seems to me he didn't look so peart last time I seed him 
on the bluff heavin' rocks at Chinamen. Didn't seem 
to take much interest in it. Thar was a gang of 'em 
by yar yesterday drownded out up the river and 
I kinder thought o' Johnny, and how he'd miss ? em ! 
Maybe now, we'd be in the way ef he wus sick ? ' 

The father, evidently touched not only by this 
pathetic picture of Johnny's deprivation, but by the 
considerate delicacy of the speaker, hastened to assure 
him that Johnny was better and that a ' little fun 
might 'liven him up.' Whereupon Dick arose, shook 
himself, and saying, ' I'm ready. Lead the way, Old 
Man : here goes,' himself led the way with a leap, a 
characteristic howl, and darted out into the night. As 
he passed through the outer room he caught up a blaz- 
ing brand from the hearth. The action was repeated 
by the rest of the party, closely following and elbowing 
each other, and before the astonished proprietor of 
Thompson's grocery was aware of the intention of his 
guests, the room was deserted. 

The night was pitchy dark. In the first gust of wind 
their temporary torches were extinguished, and only 
the red brands dancing and flitting in the gloom like 
drunken will-o'-the-wisps indicated their whereabouts. 
Their way led up Pine-Tree Canon, at the head of which 
a broad, low, bark-thatched cabin burrowed in the 
mountain-side. It was the home of the Old Man, and 
the entrance to the tunnel in which he worked when 



HOW SANTA GLAUS CAME . 207 

he worked at all. Here the crowd paused for a moment, 
out of delicate deference to their host, who came up 
panting in the rear. 

' P'r'aps ye'd better hold on a second out yer, whilst 
I go in and see that things is all right/ said the Old Man, 
with an indifference he was far from feeling. The 
suggestion was graciously accepted, the door opened 
and closed on the host, and the crowd, leaning their 
backs against the wall and cowering under the eaves, 
waited and listened. 

For a few moments there was no sound but the 
dripping of water from the eaves, and the stir and 
rustle of wrestling boughs above them. Then the 
men became uneasy, and whispered suggestion and 
suspicion passed from the one to the other. ' Reckon 
she's caved in his head the first lick ! ' ' Decoyed him 
inter the tunnel and barred him up, likely.' ' Got 
him down and sittin' on him.' ' Prob'ly biling suthin' 
to heave on us : stand clear the door, boys ! ' For 
just then the latch clicked, the door slowly opened, 
and a voice said, ' Come in out o' the wet.' 

The voice was neither that of the Old Man nor of 
his wife. It was the voice of a small boy, its weak 
treble broken by that preternatural hoarseness which 
only vagabondage and the habit of premature self- 
assertion can give. It was the face of a small boy 
that looked up at theirs, a face that might have been 
pretty, and even refined, but that it was darkened by 
evil knowledge from within, and dirt and hard experi- 
ence from without. He had a blanket around his 
shoulders, and had evidently just risen from his bed. 
1 Come in,' he repeated, ' and don't make no noise. 
The Old Man's in there talking to mar,' he continued, 
pointing to an adjacent room which seemed to be a 
kitchen, from which the Old Man's voice came in 
deprecating accents. ' Let me be,' he added queru- 
lously, to Dick Bullen, who had caught him up, 
blanket and all, and was affecting to toss him into 



208 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

the fire, ' let go o' me, you d d old fool, d'ye 
hear ? ' 

Thus adjured, Dick Bullen lowered Johnny to the 
ground with a smothered laugh, while the men, enter- 
ing quietly, ranged themselves around a long table of 
rough boards which occupied the centre of the room. 
Johnny then gravely proceeded to a cupboard and 
brought out several articles, which he deposited on 
the table. ' Thar's whisky. And crackers. And red 
herons. And cheese.' He took a bite of the latter 
on his way to the table. ' And sugar.' He scooped 
up a mouthful en route with a small and very dirty 
hand. ' And ter backer. Thar's dried appils too on 
the shelf, but I don't admire 'em. Appils is swellin'. 
Thar,' he concluded, ' now wade in, and don't be 
afeard. / don't mind the old woman. She don't 
b'long to me. S'long.' 

He had stepped to the threshold of a small room, 
scarcely larger than a closet, partitioned off from the 
main apartment, and holding in its dim recess a small 
bed. He stood there a moment looking at the company, 
his bare feet peeping from the blanket, and nodded. 

' Hello, Johnny ! You ain't goin' to turn in agin, 
are ye ? ' said Dick. 

' Yes, I are,' responded Johnny decidedly. 

' Why, wot's up, old fellow ? ' 

1 I'm sick.' 

' How sick ? ' 

' I've got a fevier. And childblains. And rooma- 
tiz,' returned Johnny, and vanished within. After a 
moment's pause, he added in the dark, apparently from 
under the bed-clothes, ' And biles ! ' 

There was an embarrassing silence. The men 
looked at each other and at the fire. Even with the 
appetizing banquet before them, it seemed as if they 
might again fall into the despondency^of Thompson's 
grocery, when the voice of the Old Man, incautiously 
lifted, came deprecatingly from the kitchen* 



HOW SANTA GLAUS CAME 209 

' Certainly ! Thet's so. In course they is. A gang 
o' lazy, drunken loafers, and that ar Dick Bullen's the 
ornariest of all. Didn't hev no more sabe than to 
come round yar with sickness in the house and no 
provision. Thet's what I said : " Bullen," sez I, " it's 
crazy drunk you^are, or a fool," sez I, "to think o' 
such a thing.'* " Staples," I sez, " be you a man, 
Staples, and 'spect to raise h 11 under my roof and 
invalids lyin' round ? " But they would come, 
they would. Thet's wot you must 'spect o' such 
trash as lays round the Bar.' 

A burst of laughter from the men followed this 
unfortunate exposure. Whether it was overheard in 
the kitchen, or whether the Old Man's irate companion 
had just then exhausted all other modes of expressing 
her contemptuous indignation, I cannot say, but a 
back door was suddenly slammed with great violence. 
A moment later and the Old Man reappeared, haply 
unconscious of the cause of the late hilarious outburst, 
and smiled blandly. 

' The old woman thought she'd jest run over to 
Mrs. McFadden's for a sociable call,' he explained, with 
jaunty indifference, as he took a seat at the board. 

Oddly enough it needed this untoward incident to 
relieve the embarrassment that was beginning to be 
felt by the party, and their natural audacity returned 
with their host. I do not propose to record the con- 
vivialities of that evening. The inquisitive reader 
will accept the statement that the conversation was 
characterized by the same intellectual exaltation, the 
same cautious reverence, the same fastidious delicacy, 
the same rhetorical precision, and the same logical 
and coherent discourse somewhat later in the evening, 
which distinguish similar gatherings of the masculine 
sex in more civilized localities and under more favour- 
able auspices. No glasses were broken in the absence 
of any ; no liquor was uselessly spilt on the floor or 
table in the scarcity of that article. 



210 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

It was nearly midnight when the festivities were 
interrupted. ' Hush,' said Dick Bullen, holding up 
his hand. It was the querulous voice of Johnny from 
his adjacent closet : 4 Oh, dad ! ' 

The Old Man arose hurriedly and disappeared in the 
closet. Presently he reappeared. *His rheurnatiz is 
coming on agin bad,' he explained, * and he wants 
rubbinV He lifted the demijohn of whisky from the 
table and shook it. It was empty. Dick Bullen put 
down his tin cup with an embarrassed laugh. So did 
the others. The Old Man examined their contents 
and said hopefully, ' I reckon that's enough ; he don't 
need much. You hold on all o' you for a spell, and 
I'll be back ' ; and vanished in the closet with an old 
flannel shirt and the whisky. The door closed but 
imperfectly, and the following dialogue was distinctly 
audible : 

4 Now, sonny, whar does she ache worst ? ' 

' Sometimes over yar and sometimes under yer ; 
but it's most powerful from yer to yer. Rub yer, 
dad.' 

A silence seemed to indicate a brisk rubbing. Then 
Johnny : 

' Hevin' a good time out yer, dad ? ' 

* Yes, sonny.' 

1 To-morrer's Chrismiss, ain't it ? ' 

' Yes, sonny. How does she feel now ? ' 

' Better. Rub a little furder down. Wot's Chris- 
miss, anyway ? Wot's it all about ? ' 

' Oh, it's a day.' 

This exhaustive definition was apparently satis- 
factory, for there was a silent interval of rubbing. 
Presently Johnny again : 

' Mar sez that everywhere else but yer everybody 
gives things to everybody Chrismiss, and then she jist 
waded inter you. She sez thar's a man they call 
Sandy Claws, not a white man, you know, but a kind 
o' Chinemin, comes down the chimbley night afore 



HOW SANTA GLAUS CAME 211 

Chrismiss and gives things to chillern, boys like me. 
Puts 'em in their butes ! Thet's what she tried to 
play upon me. Easy now, pop, whar are you rabbin' 
to, thet's a mile from the place. She jest made that 
up, didn't she. jest to aggrewate me and you ? Don't 
rub thar Why, dad ! ' 

In the great quiet that seemed to have fallen upon 
the house the sigh of the near pines and the drip of 
leaves without was very distinct. Johnny's voice, 
too, was lowered as he went on, ' Don't you take on 
now, fur I'm gettin' all right fast. Wot's the boys 
doin' out thar ? ' 

The Old Man partly opened the door and peered 
through. His guests were sitting there sociably enough, 
but there were a few silver coins and a lean buckskin 
purse on the table. ' Bettin' on suthin' some little 
game or 'nother. They're all right,' he replied to 
.Johnny, and recommenced his rubbing. 

* I'd like to take a hand and win some money,' said 
Johnny reflectively after a pause. 

The Old Man glibly repeated what was evidently a 
familiar formula, that if Johnny would wait until he 
struck it rich in the tunnel he'd have lots of money, 
etc., etc. 

' Yes,' said Johnny, ' but you don't. And whether 
you strike it or I win it, it's about the same. It's all 
luck. But it's mighty cur'o's about Chrismiss ain't 
it ? Why do they call it Chrismiss ? ' 

Perhaps from some instinctive deference to the 
overhearing of his guests, or from some vague sense of 
incongruity, the Old Man's reply was so low as to be 
inaudible beyond the room. 

' Yes,' said Johnny, with some slight abatement of 
interest, ' I've heerd o' him before. Thar, that'll do, 
dad. I don't ache near so bad as I did. Now wrap 
me tight in this yer blanket. So. Now/ he added in a 
muffled whisper, ' sit down yer by me till I go asleep. 9 
To assure himself of obedience, he disengaged one 



212 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

hand from the blanket and, grasping his father's 
sleeve, again composed himself to rest. 

For some moments the Old Man waited patiently. 
Then the unwonted stillness of the house excited his 
x curiosity, and without moving from the bed he cau- 
tiously opened the door with his disengaged hand, 
and looked into the main room. To his infinite sur- 
prise it was dark and deserted. But even then a 
smouldering log on the hearth broke, and by the up- 
springing blaze he saw the figure of Dick Bullen sitting 
by the dying embers. 

< Hello ! ' 

Dick started, rose, and came somewhat unsteadily 
toward him. 

' Whar's the boys ? ' said the Old Man. 

' Gone up the canon on a little pasear. They're 
coming back for me in a minit. I'm waitin' round for 
'em. What are you starin' at, Old Man ? ' he added 
with a forced laugh ; ' do you think I'm drunk ? ' 

The Old Man might have been pardoned the sup- 
position, for Dick's eyes were humid and his face 
flushed. He loitered and lounged back to the chimney, 
yawned, shook himself, buttoned up his coat and 
laughed. ' Liquor ain't so plenty as that, Old Man. 
Now don't you git up, 5 he continued, as the Old Man 
made a movement to release his sleeve from Johnny's 
hand. ' Don't you mind manners. Sit jest whar you 
be ; I'm goin' in a jiffy. Thar, that's them now.' 

There was a low tap at the door. Dick Bullen 
opened it quickly, nodded ' Good night ' to his host, 
and disappeared. The Old Man would have followed 
him but for the hand that still unconsciously grasped 
his sleeve. He could have easily disengaged it ; it 
was small, weak, and emaciated. But perhaps be- 
cause it was small, weak, and emaciated, he changed 
his mind, and, drawing his chair closer to the bed, 
rested his head upon it. In this defenceless attitude 
the potency of his earlier pDtations surprised him. 



. HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME 213 

The room flickered and faded before his eyes, re- 
appeared, faded again, went out, and left him asleep. 

Meantime Dick Bullen, closing the door, confronted 
his companions. ' Are you ready ? ' said Staples. 
4 Ready,' said Dick ; ' what's the time ? ' ' Past 
twelve/ was the reply ; * can you make it ? it's nigh 
on fifty miles, the round trip hither and yon.' ' I 
reckon,' returned Dick shortly. ' Whar's the mare ? ' 
4 Bill and Jack's holdin' her at the crossin'.' ' Let 'em 
hold on a minit longer,' said Dick. 

He turned and re-entered the house softly. By the 
light of the guttering candle and dying fire he saw that 
the door of the little room was open. He stepped 
toAvard it on tiptoe and looked in. The Old Man had 
fallen back in his chair, snoring, his helpless feet 
thrust out in a line with his collapsed shoulders, and 
his hat pulled over his eyes. Beside him, on a narrow 
wooden bedstead, lay Johnny, muffled tightly in a 
blanket that hid all save a strip of forehead and a 
few curls damp with perspiration. Dick Bullen made 
a step forward, hesitated, and glanced over his shoul- 
der into the deserted room. Everything was quiet. 
With a sudden resolution he parted his huge mous- 
taches with both hands and stooped over the sleeping 
boy. But even as he did so a mischievous blast, lying 
in wait, swooped down the chimney, rekindled the 
hearth, and lit up the room with a shameless glow from 
which Dick fled in bashful terror. 

His companions were already waiting for him at the 
crossing. Two of them were struggling in the dark- 
ness with some strange misshapen bulk, which as 
Dick came nearer took the semblance of a great yellow 
horse. 

It was the mare. She was not a pretty picture. 
From her Roman nose to her rising haunches, from 
her arched spine hidden by the stiff mactiillas of a 
Mexican saddle, to her thick, straight, bony legs, there 
was not a line of equine grace. In her "half -blind but 



214 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

wholly vicious white eyes, in her protruding under- 
lip, in her monstrous colour, there was nothing but 
ugliness and vice. 

' Now then,' said Staples, ' stand cl'ar of her heels, 
boys, and up with you. Don't miss your first hold of 
her mane, and mind ye get your off stirrup quick. 
Ready ! ' 

There was a leap, a scrambling struggle, a bound, 
a wild retreat of the crowd, a circle of flying hoofs, 
two springless leaps that jarred the earth, a rapid play 
and jingle of spurs, a plunge, and then the voice of 
Dick somewhere in the darkness, ' All right ! ' 

' Don't take the lower road back onless you're hard 
pushed for time ! Don't hold her in down hill. We'll 
be at the ford at five. G'lang ! Hoopa ! Mula ! 
GO!' 

A splash, a spark struck from the ledge in the road, 
a clatter in the rocky cut beyond, and Dick was gone. 

Sing, Muse, the ride of Richard Bullen ! Sing, 
O Muse, of chivalrous men ! the sacred quest, the 
doughty deeds, the battery of low churls, the fearsome 
ride and gruesome perils of the Flower of Simpson's 
Bar ! Alack ! she is dainty, this Muse ! She will have 
none of this bucking brute and swaggering, ragged 
rider, and I must fain follow him in prose, afoot ! 

It was one o'clock, and yet he had only gained 
Rattlesnake Hill. For in that time Jovita had re- 
hearsed to him all her imperfections and practised all 
her vices. Thrice had she stumbled. Twice had she 
thrown up her Roman nose in a straight line with 
the reins, and, resisting bit and spur, struck out madly 
across country. Twice had she reared, and, rearing, 
fallen backward ; and twice had the agile Dick, un- 
harmed, regained his seat before she found her vicious 
legs again. And a mile beyond them, at the foot of 
a long hill, was Rattlesnake Creek. Dick knew that 
here was the crucial test of his ability to perform his 



HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME 215 

enterprise, set his teeth grimly, put -his knees well 
into her flanks, and changed his defensive tactics to 
brisk aggression. Bullied and maddened, Jovita 
began the descent of the hill. Here the artful Richard 
pretended to hold her in with ostentatious objurga- 
tion and well-feigned cries of alarm. It is unneces- 
sary to add that Jovita instantly ran away. Nor 
need I state the time made in the descent ; it is 
written in the chronicles of Simpson's Bar. Enough 
that in another moment, as it seemed to Dick, she 
was splashing on the overflowed banks of Rattlesnake 
Creek. As Dick expected, the momentum she had 
acquired carried her beyond the point of balking, and, 
holding her well together for a mighty leap, they 
dashed into the middle of the swiftly flowing current. 
A few moments of kicking, wading, and swimming, 
and Dick drew a long breath on the opposite bank. 

The road from Rattlesnake Creek to Red Mountain 
was tolerably level. Either the plunge in Rattlesnake 
Creek had dampened her baleful fire, or the art which 
led to it had shown her the superior wickedness of 
her rider, for Jovita no longer wasted her surplus 
energy in wanton conceits. Once she bucked, but it 
was from force of habit ; once she shied, but it was 
from a new, freshly-painted meeting-house at the 
crossing of the county road. Hollows, ditches, gravelly 
deposits, patches of freshly -springing grasses, flew from 
beneath her rattling hoofs. She began to smell un- 
pleasantly, once or twice she coughed slightly, but 
there was no abatement of her strength or speed. By 
two o'clock he had passed Red Mountain and begun 
the descent to the plain. Ten minutes later the driver 
of the fast Pioneer coach was overtaken and passed 
by a ' man on a Pinto hoss,' an event sufficiently 
notable for remark. At half-past two Dick rose in his 
stirrups with a great shout. Stars were glittering 
through the rifted clouds, and beyond him, out of the 
plain, rose two spires, a flagstaff, and a straggling line 



216 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

of black objects. Dick jingled his spurs and swung 
his riataj Jo vita bounded forward, and in another 
moment they swept into Tuttleville, and drew up 
before the wooden piazza of ' The Hotel of All Nations/ 

What transpired that night at Tuttleville is not 
strictly a part of this record. Briefly I may state, 
however, that after Jo vita had been handed over to a 
sleepy ostler, whom she at once kicked into unpleasant 
consciousness, Dick sallied out with the bar-keeper 
for a tour of the sleeping town. Lights still gleamed 
from a few saloons and gambling- houses ; but, avoid- 
ing these, they stopped before several closed shops, 
and by persistent tapping and judicious outcry roused 
the proprietors from their beds, and made them 
unbar the doors of their magazines and expose their 
wares. Sometimes they were met by curses, but 
oftener by interest and some concern in their needs, 
and the interview was invariably concluded by a 
drink. It was three o'clock before this pleasantry 
was given over, and with a small waterproof bag of 
indiarubber strapped on his shoulders Dick returned 
to the hotel. But here he was waylaid by Beauty, 
Beauty opulent in charms, affluent in dress, persuasive 
in speech, and Spanish in accent ! In vain she re- 
peated the invitation in ' Excelsior,' happily scorned 
by all Alpine-climbing youth, and rejected by this 
child of the Sierras, r a rejection softened in this in- 
stance by a laugh and his last gold coin. And then 
he sprang to the saddle and dashed down the lonely 
street and out into the lonelier plain, where presently 
the lights, the black line of houses, the spires, and the 
flagstaff sank into the earth behind him again and 
were lost in the distance. 

The storm had cleared away, the air was brisk and 
cold, the outlines of adjacent landmarks were distinct, 
but it was half-past four before Dick reached the 
meeting-house and the crossing of the county road. 
To avoid the rising grade he had taken a longer and 



HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME 217 

more circuitous road, in whose viscid mud Jo vita sank 
fetlock deep at every bound. It was a poor prepara- 
tion for a steady ascent of five miles more ; but 
Jovita, gathering her legs under her, took it with her 
usual blind, unreasoning fury, and a half -hour later 
reached the long level that led to Rattlesnake Creek. 
Another half-hour would bring him to the creek. He 
threw the reins lightly upon the neck of the mare, 
chirruped to her, and began to sing. 

Suddenly Jovita shied with a bound that would 
have unseated a less practised rider. Hanging to her 
rein was a figure that had leaped from the bank, and 
at the same time from the road before her arose a 
shadowy horse and rider. ' Throw up your hands,' 
commanded the second apparition, with an oath. 

Dick felt the mare tremble, quiver, and apparently 
sink under him. He knew what it meant and was 
prepared. 

' Stand aside, Jack Simpson. I know you, you 
d d thief ! Let me pass, or ' 

He did not finish the sentence. Jovita rose straight 
in the air with a terrific bound, throwing the figure 
from her bit with a single shake of her vicious head, 
and charged with deadly malevolence down on the 
impediment before her. An oath, a pistol-shot, horse 
and highwayman rolled over in the road, and the next 
moment Jovita was a hundred yards away. But the 
good right arm of her rider, shattered by a bullet, 
dropped helplessly at his side. 

Without slacking his speed he shifted the reins to 
his left hand. But a few moments later he was obliged 
to halt and tighten the saddle-girths that had slipped 
in the onset. This in his crippled condition took some 
time. He had no fear of pursuit, but looking up he 
saw that the eastern stars were already paling, and 
that the distant peaks had lost their ghostly white- 
ness, and now stood out blackly against a lighter sky. 
Day was upon him. Then completely absorbed in a 



218 FRANCIS BRET HARTE 

single idea, he forgot the pain of his wound, and mount- 
ing again dashed on toward Rattlesnake Creek. But 
now Jo vita's breath came broken by gasps, Dick 
reeled in his saddle, and brighter and brighter grew 
the sky. 

Ride, Richard ; run, Jovita ; linger, O day ! 

For the last few rods there was a roaring in his ears. 
Was it exhaustion from loss of blood, or what ? He 
was dazed and giddy as he swept down the hill, and 
did not recognize his surroundings. Had he taken 
the wrong road, or was this Rattlesnake Creek ? 

It was. But the brawling creek he had swam a few 
hours before had risen, more than doubled its volume, 
and now rolled a swift and resistless river between 
him and Rattlesnake Hill. For the first time that 
night Richard's heart sank within him. The river, 
the mountain, the quickening east, swam before his 
eyes. He shut them to recover his self-control. In 
that brief interval, by some fantastic mental process, 
the little room at Simpson's Bar and the figures of 
the sleeping father and son rose upon him. He opened 
his eyes wildly, cast off his coat, pistol, boots, and 
saddle, bound his precious pack tightly to his shoul- 
ders, grasped the bare flanks of Jovita with his bared 
knees, and with a shout dashed into the yellow water. 
A cry rose from the opposite bank as the head of a 
man and horse struggled for a few moments against 
the battling current, and then were swept away amidst 
uprooted trees and whirling driftwood. 

The Old Man started and woke. The fire on the 
hearth was dead, the candle in the outer room flicker- 
ing in its socket, and somebody was rapping at the 
door. He opened it, but fell back with a cry before 
the dripping, half-naked figure that reeled against the 
doorpost. 

* Dick ? ' 

4 Hush ! Is he awake yet ? ' 



HOW SANTA CLAUS CAME 219 

' No, but, Dick ? ' 

' Dry up, you old fool ! Get me some whisky, 
quick ! ' The Old Man flew and returned with an 
empty bottle ! Dick would have sworn, but his 
strength was not equal to the occasion. He staggered, 
caught at the handle of the door, and motioned to the 
Old Man. 

' Thar's suthin' in my pack yer for Johnny. Take 
it off. I can't.' 

The Old Man unstrapped the pack, and laid it before 
the exhausted man. 

' Open it, quick ! ' 

He did so with trembling fingers. It contained only 
a few poor toys, cheap and barbaric enough, good- 
ness knows, but bright with paint and tinsel. One of 
them was broken ; another, I fear, was irretrievably 
ruined by water ; and on the third ah me ! there 
was a cruel spot. 

* It don't look like much, that's a fact,' said Dick 
ruefully. . . . ' But it's the best we could do. . . . Take 
'em, Old Man, and put 'em in his stocking, and tell 

him tell him, you know hold me, Old Man ' 

The Old Man caught at his sinking figure. ' Tell him,' 
said Dick, with a weak little laugh, ' tell him Sandy 
Glaus has come.' 

And even so, bedraggled, ragged, unshaven, and un- 
shorn, with one arm hanging helplessly at his side, 
Santa Glaus came to Simpson's Bar and fell fainting on 
the first threshold. The Christmas dawn came slowly 
after, touching the remoter peaks with the rosy 
warmth of ineffable love. And it looked so tenderly 
on Simpson's Bar that the whole mountain, as if 
caught in a generous action, blushed to the skies. 



CHARLES GRANT 

1841-1889 
PEPPINIELLO 



IF you have ever sauntered along the Strada del 
Molo at Naples, you can hardly have failed to notice 
the mozzonari who gather there in greater numbers 
than in any other part of the city. You frequently 
catch sight of a single mozzonare in other places, it 
is true lounging on the steps of a church, it may 
be, or basking in the hottest corner of a piazza ; but 
here is the great centre of the trade in old cigar ends, 
and here its ' merchants most do congregate ' as 
ragged, dirty, and unkempt a set of little beggar-boys 
as any European city can show. Each has his stock- 
in-trade spread out before him on the sheet of an old 
newspaper, and carefully divided into little heaps of 
eight or nine ends apiece. The lots have been care- 
fully selected according to the quality of the cigars 
of which they are composed, and cost one soldo each ; 
for the mozzonari are almost the only Neapolitan 
traders who have really fixed prices, and with whom 
it is useless to bargain, though even they stoop to 
human weakness in so far as to keep a general heap 
from which each purchaser is allowed to select a 
stump. 

Perhaps you may wonder who can be found to buy 
such nasty rubbish. Wait a minute or two, and you 
will see. 

But first fix your eyes on the boy who lounges at 
the corner of the road leading down to the custom- 

220 



PEPPINIELLO 221 

house and the landing-place. His name is Peppiniello, 
and he is about twelve years old. Judging from his 
face you might fancy him older, it wears in its moments 
of rest so astute and self-reliant an expression ; but 
if you looked at his body you would think him at 
least a year or two younger, for a scanty diet has 
checked his growth. Otherwise his. limbs are not 
ill-formed. If you watch him while bathing in the 
dirty waters of the harbour, you will be amazed at 
their suppleness and activity, and also at their leanness. 
He seems to consist of nothing but skin and bone. 
' The wonder is,' as an Italian shopkeeper once re- 
marked to me, ' that there should be so much life in 
so little flesh ! ' The whole of his skin is of one 
colour, a deep greyish- brown ; there is not blood 
enough in the veins to lend it the warmer tint that 
the Venetian painters loved. The upper part of the 
face is well formed, and the eyes are very bright and 
intelligent ; the mouth, however, is not only too large, 
but there is a precocious trait about it of something 
which generally appears to be merely humour, but at 
times looks unpleasantly like cunning. Still it is, at 
the worst, a quick, cheerful, not unkindly face, and 
it would look far better if the hair were not shorn so 
closely to the head. In dress, Peppiniello does not 
greatly differ from his companions. His shirt is open 
before and torn behind ; his trousers are so full of 
holes that you wonder he should think it worth while 
to put them on at all, particularly in a town where 
their absence in a boy of his age would attract but 
little attention. He is wiser than you, however, and 
he knows that in Naples it is only the children who 
have parents to care for them that can afford to run 
about in their shirts. He does not look at the nether 
article of his dress at least during the summer months 
as a matter either of comfort or decency, but simply 
as the badge of the social position he is desirous of 
occupying. In the same light, too, he regards the 



222 CHARLES GRANT 

little round cap, of nearly the same colour as his skin, 
which seems to be made of some woollen material. I 
have never been daring enough to examine it closely. 
It is rarely to be seen upon his head, and its chief 
practical purpose seems to be to serve as an elbow 
cushion. 

At present Peppiniello looks idle enough. He is 
stretched at full length upon the ground, watching a 
game which two other boys are playing with peach- 
stones, a natural substitute for marbles ; but he has a 
keen eye for business, and makes more money than 
any of the fraternity. This his comrades attribute to 
his luck ; but it is really the result of a number of 
small observations. Thus, more than a year and a 
half ago he noticed that when four or rive of them sat 
in a row, those at the two ends were sure to sell their 
wares quickest ; for if the purchaser is in haste he 
will buy of the first that he sees, and hurry on ; if he 
is at leisure he will probably inspect all the piles, and, 
finding them pretty much alike, he will take his tobacco 
of the last, in order that he may not have to retrace 
his steps. Some months passed before he made a 
second discovery, namely, that the spot he now 
occupies is the best for its purpose in all Naples, because 
the mechanics who pass along the Strada del Molo 
are generally anxious to get to or from their work as 
quickly as may be, while, on the other hand, the boat- 
men who return from the landing-place have usually 
finished their task, and have nothing very particular 
to do. As soon as he had noticed this, he made a 
point of occupying the corner before any of his com- 
rades were astir, and he has now almost a prescriptive 
right to it. Some of his success must also be attri- 
buted to his good-nature. When his wares are ex- 
hausted, or there is no hope of custom, he is always 
ready to run an errand for the men who are working 
near. Sometimes he is rewarded by a crust, a slice of 
cabbage, or a handful of fruit, and more rarely by a 



PEPPINIELLO 223 

centesimo or two ; but on such occasions he never 
asks for anything, and those whom he serves in this 
way naturally repay him by giving him their own 
custom and recommending him to their friends. In 
fact, he is a favourite with most of the men who are 
employed in the neighbourhood ; and this is useful to 
him in more ways than one. 

Among Peppiniello's other observations is this 
that during the morning hours it is useless for him to 
take much trouble in recommending his wares. Those 
who want old cigar ends will come and buy them ; 
but every one is then too busy to pay attention to 
his noise and nonsense. Later in the day it will be 
different a joke may secure a customer, or a grin 
and a caper draw a soldo from the pocket of some 
foreign gentleman, and Peppiniello is as equal to these 
as to the other requirements of his trade. But there 
is a time for everything, and at present the most 
brilliant display of his talents would make no impres- 
sion on any one but his companions, for whose applause 
he does not greatly care ; so he lies at his ease with 
the happy conviction that his own stock is the finest 
in this morning's market. 

It consists of eleven piles, and a little heap of foreign 
cigar ends, which are their possessor's great joy and 
pride, though he is a little uncertain as to their exact 
market value. If a sailor of luxurious tastes and 
reduced means happens to pass, he will probably offer 
a good price for them ; but at present the boy is not 
anxious to sell, for he knows the unusual display will 
attract customers for his other wares. This special 
heap is the result of a daring raid into the Grand 
Cafe which he made the other evening, and in which 
his retreat was covered by a party of good-natured 
foreigners. When he found himself in safety, and 
gesticulated his thanks from the middle of the street, 
they threw him a soldo or two, and one of them, 
supposing that an infantile craving for the prohibited 



224 CHARLES GRANT 

joys of tobacco was the cause of his boldness, added 
a cigar which he had only just lighted. There it lies 
at the top of the sheet of paper. Peppiniello is re- 
solved not to part with it for less than eight centesimi. 
It must surely be worth ten, he thinks ; but, unfortu- 
nately, those who are ready to pay such a price for a 
cigar usually prefer to buy it in a shop. 

But see, a mechanic in his working-dress pauses for 
a moment, lays down two soldi, sweeps up two piles, 
which he wraps in a piece of paper, and thrusts them 
into his pocket as he walks on. The whole trans- 
action has been the work of a few seconds, and has 
not cost a single word. The next customer is of a 
very different type : he is a fisherman coming up from 
the landing-place to fill his morning pipe. He feels 
the deepest contempt and animosity for the mechanic 
on account of his calling ; but, at the same time, he 
has a firm conviction that he belongs to a class which 
knows how to cheat the devil, and that consequently 
it is by no means unadvisable for a good, simple, 
Christian fisherman to take a hint from it in worldly 
matters. He has, consequently, made up his mind 
as to which of the mozzonari he will patronize long 
before he reaches the first of them ; but that does not 
prevent him inspecting all the other papers with a 
critical, irresolute air. When he reaches Peppiniello, 
he looks at his wares with a new expression of marked 
contempt, pauses for half a minute, and then com- 
mences to gesticulate. To all his movements Pep- 
piniello only replies by that slight and peculiar toss 
of the head which every Neapolitan accepts as a 
final refusal. In fact, they have been having an 
animated discussion, although not a single word has 
been spoken ; for the common people of Naples, 
though ready enough with their tongues, are fond of 
* conversing silently ' with each other not exactly 
as lovers are said to do, but by means of a perfect 
language of signs. The fisherman has offered, first 



PEPPINIELLO 225 

three, and then four centesimi for a single lot, and 
then nine centesimi for two. These offers have of 
course been refused. He knew from the first that 
they would be, for any mozzonare who was observed 
to increase the size of his piles, or even suspected of 
selling below the established price, would not only 
lose caste, but be subjected to constant persecution 
by his comrades ; but then, as a fisherman, he feels 
he would be outraging every feeling of propriety if he 
were to buy any article whatever without at least 
attempting to cheapen it. It would almost look as if 
he wished to be taken for a signore. At last, with a 
sigh, he places the exact price of a single pile which 
he has all the time been holding ready upon the 
paper, and then, with a most innocent expression, he 
stretches out his hand to the foreign tobacco at the 
top of the sheet. He knows that is not its price, and 
he does not want it, as he greatly prefers the Italian 
tobacco below : he only wishes to show that he is 
not quite a fool. Peppiniello gently pushes back his 
hand, draws a line with his own finger between the 
upper and the lower lots, and points to the latter. He 
is very careful not to touch the money, as that might 
lead to an unpleasant discussion with respect to the 
exact amount. The fisherman now makes as if he 
intended to resume it, and purchase of the next 
dealer ; but, as he sees Peppiniello is still unmoved, 
he takes instead the heap on which from the first his 
heart has been set, seizes the largest cigar -end in the 
general pile, and moves off slowly till he finds an 
empty place on the coping on Avhich to seat himself. 
When he feels quite comfortable, he slowly takes off 
that peculiar piece of headgear, which young artists 
and enthusiastic antiquaries delight to call Phrygian, 
but which to the uninitiated eyes of ordinary mortals 
rather suggests a cross between an overgrown night- " 
cap and a gouty stocking ; from this, after fumbling 
about in it for a time, he draws a red clay pipe with a 
228 I 



226 CHARLES GRANT 

cane stem, and a clasp-knife, and begins to prepare 
for the enjoyment of a morning smoke. If you could 
get near enough to look into that Phrygian headdress 
of his, as it lies there beside him, you would probably 
find that it still contains a hunch of bread, half an 
onion, an apple, two peaches, a few small fish wrapped 
up in seaweed, and a picture of San Antonio ; for the 
fisherman's cap is not only his purse and tobacco- 
pouch, but a general receptacle for miscellaneous 
articles of his personal property. It is but just to 
add, however, that the fish he carries in this way is 
always intended for his own consumption. 



IT 

At ten o'clock, Peppiniello has disposed of all his 
wares. As the day is hot he feels almost inclined to 
have a swim in the harbour ; but he sees no one near 
with whom he could safely deposit the eleven soldi 
which he has made by his morning's work, and, 
besides, he is hungry, as well he may be, for he has 
been up since dawn and has eaten nothing yet. Where 
to get a dinner ? that is the question ; for it never 
even occurs to him that he might spend a part of 
his hard-earned gains upon common food, though 
now and then, when the times are good, he will buy a 
slice of water-melon. He would hardly feel justified 
in doing even that to-day ; so, as he rolls up the 
foreign tobacco, which he has not sold, in the old 
newspaper, and places it inside the breast of his shirt, 
which serves all Neapolitans of his class as a capacious 
pocket, he revolves in his mind the chances that are 
open to him. He knows he could have what he wants 
at once by going to the narrow street near the Porta 
Capuana, where his father used to live ; for there 
are still several women in the neighbourhood who 
remember his family, and who would give him a crust 
of bread, a slice of raw cabbage, or a part of whatever 



PEPPINIELLO 227 

their own dinner happened to be. But he has noticed 
that the more rarely he comes the warmer his welcome 
is; and he wishes to leave these friends as a last 
resource in cases of the utmost need. Though it is 
not the hour during which strangers are likely to be 
moving about, it might be worth while to saunter 
down to Santa Lucia, as there is no saying what a 
foreigner may not do, and, if he is out, that is the 
likeliest place to find him. But the children in that 
district hold together, and look upon him as an in- 
truder on the hunting-grounds that belong by right 
to them. They will crowd him out of the circle, if 
possible, spoil his antics, and snatch the soldi out of 
his very hand. Nay, a few weeks ago, when he stole 
the purse from the English gentleman, they seemed 
half-inclined to betray him, instead of covering his 
retreat. It is true, that, at last, their instinctive hatred 
of law and the police got the better of their local 
jealousy, and he made his escape. In half an hour, 
when he had brought his booty into safety, he re- 
turned, and invited the boys who had helped him 
into a neighbouring taverna, where he placed four 
litres of wine before them. That was the right thing 
to do, and he did it ; nay, as the purse had contained 
nearly twenty lire though that he confessed to 
nobody he even added a kilo of bread to the repast. 
Since then he has enjoyed a half -unwilling respect hi 
that quarter. But Peppiniello is not the boy to 
forget their hesitation, which seems to him the basest 
of treachery. Besides, their manners disgust him. It 
is right enough that boys should cut capers, and make 
grimaces, and beg, and steal ; but it is indecent for 
girls of eleven or twelve to do so. If he has a con- 
tempt for anything in the world, it is for those girls 
and their relations. No ; he will not go to Santa 
Lucia. 

So he turns up one of the dark narrow ways that 
lead away from the Porto, looking wistfully into. every 



228 CHARLES GRANT 

taverna that he passes. Most of them are empty. 
In some a single workman is sitting, with a small 
piece of bread and one glass of wine before him, or 
half a dozen have clubbed together to buy a loaf and 
a bottle. Peppiniello knows it is useless to beg of 
these they have little enough to stay their own appe- 
tites. ' Ah ! ' thinks he, who, like, all his class, is 
a bitter enemy of the present government perhaps 
only because it is the government ' it was different 
in good King Ferdinand's days, when bread only cost 
four soldi the kilo, and wine seven centesimi the litre. 
Then, they say, if a hungry beggar-boy could find a 
workman at his dinner, he was sure of a crust and a 
sup ; but how can they give anything now, with bread 
at eight and wine at twelve soldi ? ' At last he sees 
what appears to be a well-dressed man, sitting at the 
further end of the low, dark room. He slips in in a 
moment, and stands before him making that move- 
ment of the forefinger and thumb to the mouth by 
which Neapolitan beggars express their hunger. The 
man cuts off a small fragment of his bread and gives 
it him. Now Peppiniello is near, he can see by the 
pinched face and bright eyes of the man that he, too, 
has nothing to spare. He is almost ashamed of having 
begged of him ; but he munches the bread as he goes 
along. It is such a little piece that it seems only to 
make him hungrier. He hardly knows what to do ; 
so he sits down on a doorstep to reflect. 

He knows an English ship came into port last 
night. The chance is that some of the sailors are 
ashore. If he could find them, they would very likely 
give him something, and he fancies he can guess 
pretty nearly where they are ; but then to tell the 
truth he is afraid. Such sailors, it is true, have 
never shown him anything but kindness ; but who 
knows what they may do ? They are so strong and 
rough, and have no respect for anything. He looks 
upon them as he does on the forces of nature, as 



PEPPINIELLO 229 

something entirely capricious, incalculable, and un- 
controllable. They threw him a handful of soldi the 
other day ; perhaps to-day they may throw him out 
-of the window. The people say they are not even 
Christians. Who can tell ? Yet surely the Madonna 
must have power over them too; and he is very 
hungry. So he rises, and turns once more in the 
direction of the Porto, murmuring a Paternoster and 
an Ave, with eyes in the meantime perfectly open to 
any other chance of provender. 

He goes to one, two, three of the houses they are 
likely to frequent, and convinces himself they are not 
there. At last he hears them in the front room of 
the first story of the fourth. It is the very worst 
house for his purpose that they could have chosen ; 
for the hostess is a very well, I know no English 
word which would not be degraded if applied to her. 
She looks upon all the money in the pockets of her 
guests upstairs as already her own, and naturally 
resents any claim upon it, however small. Peppiniello 
knows her well ; but he has not come thus far to be 
turned back at last by fear of an old woman. He 
saunters carelessly and yet wearily into the street, 
and seats himself on the step opposite the door of the 
locanda, leans his head upon his arm, and finally 
stretches himself at full length. Any passer would 
fancy him asleep ; in fact, he is on the watch. He 
knows his only chance is to wait till the lower room 
and, if possible, the kitchen behind it, are empty, and 
then make a dart for the staircase. He lies there for 
more than half an hour. At last the cook is sent out 
to fetch something, as it seems from a distance ; for 
he takes his coat and hat. The hostess stands at a 
table at the back of the front room, with a tray of 
grog-glasses before her which are half -full of spirits. 
In a moment more the scullion comes with a kettle of 
boiling water, which he pours into the glasses while 
the hostess stirs them. By some accident a drop or 



230 CHARLES GRANT 

two falls upon her hand ; she says nothing, but simply 
wipes it with a cloth beside her. As soon, however, 
as the last glass is full, and the scullion has taken two 
steps away from the table, she gives him such a cuff 
as sends him flying to the other end of the kitchen, 
with the scalding water streaming down his legs. Of 
course, there is a howl. He, at least, is not likely to 
take much notice of anything at present. The hostess 
quietly takes up the tray, puts on a bland smile, and 
mounts the stairs. This is Peppiniello' s chance. He 
lets her ascend three or four steps, and then, with a 
spring as stealthy as a cat's, he follows her. His bare 
feet fall noiselessly, and he steals up so close behind 
her that there is no chance of her seeing him, even if 
she should turn, which she can hardly do, as the stairs 
are narrow and she has the tray in her hand. When 
she reaches the landing, she stops to place her burden 
on a table, in order that she may open the door ; 
Peppiniello at once springs forward, and enters with- 
out being announced, satisfied so far with his success, 
but by no means certain that he may not have sprung 
out of the frying-pan into the fire. 

Round a table which is strewed with the remnants 
of what seems to have been a sumptuous though 
rather coarse meal, six sailors are seated in company 
not of the most respectable. 

Peppiniello knows that boldness is now his only 
hope, for if the hostess can catch hold of him before 
he has attracted the men's attention he will certainly 
fly down the stairs much more quickly than he as- 
cended them. So he advances at once, and with a low 
bow and a grin makes the gesture that indicates his 
hunger. 

' What does the young devil mean ? ' asks one of 
the men in very imperfect Italian. 

' He only wants some of the broken bread,' replies 
a girl, throwing him half a loaf. 

Peppiniello springs into the air, catches it halfway, 



PEPPINIELLO 231 

makes a gesture of the wildest joy, and then, with a 
face of preternatural gravity, bows his thanks and 
stands like a soldier on parade. The men are amused, 
and soon all the bread upon the table is stowed away 
within his shirt. This gives him a strange appearance, 
as the slender arms and legs form a striking contrast 
to the enormous trunk. He at once sees his advantage, 
and proceeds to contort his face and limbs in a way 
that makes him appear hardly human. Shouts of 
laughter follow, and one of the girls hands him a glass 
of wine. Meanwhile the grog has been placed on the 
table and the men have lighted their pipes. One 
pulls out an Italian cigar, but after the first whiff he 
throws it away with a curse, declaring that it is made 
of a mixture of rotten cabbage-leaves and india-rubber. 
Peppiniello seizes it almost before it falls, seats him- 
self in a corner, and begins to puff away with an 
expression of the most luxurious enjoyment. 

' What, you smoke, do you, you little imp of hell ? 
You'd better take the whole lot of them, for I'll be 
d d if any human being can smoke them.' 

The words are spoken in English, and Peppiniello 
can hardly believe his eyes when a parcel of cigars 
comes flying across the room into his lap. 

' Ask him if his mother knows he's out/ says one 
of the men. His companion puts the question into 
such Italian as he can command. One of the girls 
repeats it in the Neapolitan dialect, and explains 
Peppiniello' s answer, which is then translated into 
English for the benefit of the male part of the com- 
pany. 

' I have no mother.' 

' His father, then ? ' 

' I have no father.' 

' How does he live, then ? * 

' How I can.' 

4 Ask him if he'll come aboard with us ; and tell 
him we'll make a man of him.' 



232 CHARLES GRANT 

' What would my sisters do then ? ' 

' How many sisters has he ? ' 

1 Four.' 

' How old ? ' 

' One a year older and three younger than I am, 
and they have nobody in the world to take care of 
them but me.' 

The idea of that little monkey being the father of a 
family is too comic not to excite a laugh, yet there is 
something pathetic in it. None of the girls believe 
the tale ; but if questioned by their companions they 
would all assert a firm conviction of its truth. Nay, 
one or two of them would probably say they were 
personally acquainted with all the facts of the case. 

4 It's all a d d lie, of course,' says another of 

the men ; ' but it don't matter,' and he throws the 
boy a two-soldi piece. The other sailors follow his 
example. 

Peppiniello gathers up his riches. He feels that it 
is time for him to withdraw, but he knows the land- 
lady is waiting below with a stick, and that she pur- 
poses first to beat him as unmercifully as she can, 
then to rob him of all that has been given him, and 
finally to kick him into the street. He is afraid that 
even his morning's earnings will go with the rest of 
his gains. It is not a pleasant prospect. Fortunately 
for him the girls at the table know all this as well as 
he does. One of them whispers a word or two to her 
companion, rises, beckons slightly to the boy, and 
goes downstairs. He makes a silent bow to the com- 
pany and slinks after her, but when they reach the 
lower room she takes him by the hand and leads him 
to the street-door amid a perfect storm of abuse from 
the landlady, who, however, does not venture to give 
any more practical expression to her rage. 

' Now run, you little devil, run ! ' 

Peppiniello only pauses for a single moment to raise 
the girl's hand gently to his lips, and before half a 



PEPPINIELLO 233 

minute is past he has put a dozen corners between 
himself and the scene of his adventure. 

But the girl turns and faces the infuriated hostess. 
' What harm has the boy done you ? ' she says quietly. 
' If the gentlemen .upstairs had been angry I could 
understand it, but they were amused. What harm 
has he done you ? ' 

The hostess is rather cowed by the girl's manner, 
and she replies in an almost whining tone, ' All that 
bread he has robbed me of is that nothing ? ' 

' Why, what can you do with broken bread ? ' 

' Sell it to the poor.' 

The girl's form assumes a sudden dignity ; she feels 
that this woman has sunk far below her, and her 
voice is very low but very biting as she says, ' Donna 
Estere, you are as hard and wicked as a Piedmontese. 
If you speak another word I will never enter your 
house again, but take all my friends over there, and 
she moves her head slightly in the direction of a rival 
establishment. 

This is a threat that Donna Estere cannot afford to 
disregard, but she is still too excited to be able to 
fawn on the girl and flatter her as she will in half an 
hour's time. So she retires silently into the kitchen, 
to vent her rage first in abusing and then in beating 
the scullion. 



When Peppiniello feels himself well out of the reach 
of danger, he draws out a piece of bread and eats 
it greedily as he walks slowly in the direction of his 
father's old home. He has not gone far before he 
sees another boy of his own class seated in a doorway 
and dining off a raw cabbage head and two onions. 
Peppiniello squats himself down opposite, and by way 
of beginning a conversation he remarks in a friendly 
tone that the cabbage doesn't look very fresh. The 



234 CHARLES GRANT 

owner of the maligned vegetable replies that he pulled 
it that very morning in his uncle's garden, and adds 
that he is sorry for boys who are obliged to dine oil 
stale bread. This gives rise to an animated discussion, 
which in about five minutes leads to the exchange of 
a thick slice of cabbage and half an onion for a piece 
of bread. Each now feels that he is dining sumptu- 
ously, and in order to remove any unpleasant impres- 
sion that may have been left on his neighbour's mind, 
he praises the provisions he has just received at least 
as warmly as he before disparaged them. The stranger 
then gives a glowing description of his uncle's garden, 
which, by his account, must certainly be the most 
remarkable estate ever possessed by a violent and 
eccentric old gentleman, whose only weakness is a 
doting fondness for his nephew. Pepphiiello has his 
own doubts as to the existence of that earthly para- 
dise, but he is far too polite to express any. In his 
turn he relates how his father went to sea a year and 
a half ago and was, as they thought, lost, and how 
they mourned for him, and how that very morning 
his aunt had received a letter stating that he had 
married a great heiress in Palermo, and was going to 
return to Naples in a few weeks. 

' Ah, won't your stepmother just beat you ! ' says 
the stranger, in a tone which implies that he could 
quite enter into the fun of the operation. 

" Ah, but she can't ! ' replies Peppiniello. ' That's 
the best of it. She's only one leg ; the other's a 
wooden one, but they say it's stuffed full of good 
French gold pieces.' 

And so, having finished his meal, he proceeds upon 
his way, pondering upon what to do with the fortune 
he has so unexpectedly invented for himself. The 
stranger, as he saunters in the opposite direction, con- 
siders the important question whether a ferocious 
miser of an uncle who can refuse nothing to his single 
pet, or a stepmother with a wooden leg stuffed with 



PEPPINIELLO 235 

gold pieces, is zhe more desirable imaginary possession 
for a little street-boy of limited means. 

Peppiniello at last reaches a small tobacco-shop ai 
the corner of a narrow close. ' Good-day, Donna 
Amalia,' he says as he enters. 

4 What, Peppiniello ! you here again, and dinner's 
over, and I don't believe there's a bite left in the 
house.' Her tone is rough, but she turns with the 
evident intention of searching her larder. 

' Thank you ; I've eaten to-day. I only want to 
ask you to take care of this for me till the evening,' 
and he heaps the bread upon the counter. 

' What, ten pieces ; you have had luck to-day ! * 

' And here are some cigars. Will you sell them for 
me ? Of course I should not expect the full price.' 

It goes rather against Donna Amalia' s conscience 
to refuse any lawful profit that may fall in her way ; 
but she remembers that the boy is an orphan, and 
that the Virgin has a way of rewarding those who are 
pitiful to such. 

' Well, let me see them. Yes, they are whole. 
They cost, you know, eight centesimi apiece ; that 
makes fourteen soldi and two centesimi. There it is,' 
and she pays him the whole sum. She has no doubt 
in her own mind that she is receiving stolen goods, 
but no one can identify a cigar, and it is no business 
of hers, so she asks no questions. Peppiniello puts it 
together with the rest, and then commits the whole 
to her care. She counts over the sum with him very 
carefully, wraps it in a piece of paper, and places it on 
a shelf in the inside room beside the bread. He has 
already bidden her good-bye, and is passing out of 
the shop, when she calls him back. 

' You will never be able to eat all that bread while 
it is fresh.' 

4 It is quite at your service, Donna Amalia ; ' but 
there is something in the eyes that contradicts the 
tone and the words. 



236 CHARLES GRANT 

' Nay, boy, I don't want to beg your bread of you ; 
but look here, these three pieces are as good as when 
they came from the baker's. If you like, I will take 
them to-day, and give you new bread for them to- 
morrow.' 

' A thousand thanks, but let it be the day after 
to-morrow.' 

' Very well.' 

He is really grateful to the rough kind woman, but 
he does not kiss her hand. That one only does to 
people of a higher social class, and he does not feel 
so very much below Donna Amalia. 

It is now more than time for the mid-day sleep, so 
Peppiniello retires into a doorway where the stones 
are pretty smooth, and there is no danger of the 
sunshine stealing in to waken him. He does not go to 
sleep so quickly as usual, perhaps because he has dined 
better ; and as he reviews the events of the morning 
he comes to the conclusion that it is his duty to go to 
mass next morning, to return thanks for his deliverance 
from danger. He has no doubt that it was the Ma- 
donna who saved him from Donna Ester e, and it never 
occurs to him that she chose rather a strange messenger. 
Then he begins to consider on what numbers he had 
better set in this week's lotto. He is rather doubtful 
of his luck, for he has lost six of the francs he found in 
the purse in that way. How he wishes he could dream 
of numbers, but somehow he never does. The priests 
of course know them all, for they are learned, but they 
are bound by a vow not to impart their knowledge to 
any one ; yet they say that sometimes a monk will 
whisper the sacred secret to a friend. Surely they 
ought to do so, if only to be revenged on the govern- 
ment who has turned them out of their monasteries. 
Peppiniello resolves to be very polite to all monks in 
future. If he could read, he would try to get hold of 
one of those wonderful books which explain things so 
well you can hardly dream of anything without finding 



PEPPINIELLO 237 

the number it signifies in them. Well, this time he 
will set upon 32, the number of Donna Estere's house, 
and upon 12, for there were twelve guests at table. 
Fate will doubtless give him another number before 
the time for playing comes round. Pondering these 
things, he falls asleep. 

It is later than usual when he awakens, and he sees 
with some consternation how low the sun has already 
sunk. He has missed the best early harvest for old 
cigar ends, which is at its height at two o'clock, when 
the gentlemen who have lunched and smoked return to 
their places of business. He must make haste or he 
will have nothing for the evening market and miss that 
too. So he hastens off to the railway station, picking 
up here and there a bit of merchandise by the way. 
He is not lucky even there, though a good-natured 
porter lets him slip into the waiting-room, which is 
empty for the moment ; and on his way to the Porto, 
which he chooses to take through the narrow streets 
and not by the most frequented road, he walks slowly, 
as if in doubt. At last he sits down and counts over 
his scanty gleanings with a look that says plainly 
enough, ' They won't do.' So he turns once more away 
from the Porto, and after climbing two or three streets 
at rather a rapid pace, he reaches the corner of one in 
which a poverty-stricken cafe is situated. Then his 
whole manner changes ; he assumes an indolent but 
merry air, and begins to sing a Neapolitan song. The 
threadbare waiter who is sitting at the door hails him 
with a loud jest, and then asks in a low voice, ' Don't 
you want any cigar-ends to-day ? ' 

' Well, I hardly know. I have such a large stock, and 
I sell so few : but let me see them.' 

They enter the empty cafe together, and the treasure 
is displayed. 

' Wnat do you want for them ? ' 

' What will you give four soldi ? ' 

' Not two for that lot,' says the boy contemptuously. 



238 CHARLES GRANT 

A discussion of course follows, and Peppiniello finally 
agrees to give two soldi, but only that he may not lose 
the waiter's friendship and patronage. The tobacco 
he still insists is not worth the price. 

' And when am I to be paid ? ' 

' To-night, if I sell enough.' 

He resumes his indolent walk and his song, which he 
continues till he reaches the end of the street, when he 
quickens his pace and leaves off singing. Both parties 
are rather ashamed of this transaction. The waiter 
knows he has been acting meanly, and the boy, who 
looks upon all cigar- ends as the rightful property of the 
mozzonari, feels he has been put upon. It is only in 
extreme cases like to-day's that he will submit to this. 
In fact, this perfectly legitimate purchase, by which he 
is sure of making a large profit, weighs on his conscience 
far more heavily than any of his thefts. Hence each is 
sure of the other's secrecy. 

As Peppiniello turns again in the direction of the 
Porto, he fancies that some misfortune is sure to over- 
take him shortly, for he feels he has deserved a punish- 
ment, and only hopes the avenging powers will lay it on 
with a light hand. So when he finds a perfect stranger 
to the whole company of mozzonari a great hulking 
youth of some fifteen years has taken possession of his 
place, he looks upon it as the result of their immediate 
interposition, but this does not make him feel any the 
more inclined to bear it patiently. Besides, Ke knows 
that if he gives way now his favourite seat is lost for 
ever. Accordingly he utters an indignant protest, 
which calls forth a contemptuous answer. An angry 
altercation follows, in which sufficiently strong language 
is used on both sides. A boatman passing up from 
the landing-place soon puts an end to the situation by 
first pushing the youth to a distance of some yards 
and then tossing his wares after him. This being done, 
he passes on, fully satisfied that he has been perform- 
ing an act of justice, for he knows Peppiniello does 



PEPPINIELLO 239 

usually sit there, and then his opponent is old enough 
to gain his living in some other way. The sale of old 
cigar- ends is work that children can do, and so it ought 
to be left to them. 

Peppiniello quietly takes his old seat, from which the 
new-comer does not venture to expel him by force he 
has evidently too powerful allies ; so he crouches down 
at a distance of a few yards in front of him, and covers 
him with every term of abuse. Hitherto the language, 
though strong, has been confined within the wide limits 
of what the lower-class Neapolitans consider decent, 
or at least tolerable ; now the vilest and most offensive 
terms which their unusually expressive dialect furnishes 
are freely used. At first the boy gives epithet for 
epithet, but then he falls silent, his eyes dilate, his lips 
tighten, his right hand is fumbling inside his shirt. 

4 You son of a priest.' 

The words are scarcely uttered, when the boy's 
knife is unclasped, and, with a spring as sudden and 
unexpected as a cat's, he has flown at his enemy's 
throat. 

Fortunately for both, a well-dressed man has been 
silently watching the scene, and with a motion as 
quick as Peppiniello' s he has seized the boy, clasping 
his body with his right arm and grasping the knife 
with his left hand. Another moment, and a hearty 
kick has sent the intruder sprawling upon the stones. 
The latter gathers up first himself and then his wares, 
and goes off muttering threats and curses. A single 
glance at his face, however, is sufficient to show that 
he will never venture to interfere with Peppiniello 
again. 

' If you had ever seen the inside of a prison, my 
boy,' says the man whose intervention has just been 
so opportune, ' you would not run the risk of being 
sent there for such a foul-mouthed fool as that ; nor,' 
he adds in a voice that none but the child in his arms 
can hear ' nor for a purse either, even if it did contain 



240 CHARLES GRANT 

twenty lire ; ' and so he pushes him with apparent 
roughness, but real gentleness, back into his place. 

Peppiniello stretches himself at full length. His 
face is on the ground and covered by his two arms, 
his whole body is still quivering, but his protector sees 
at a glance that it is only with subsiding rage, so he 
passes on as if nothing particular had happened. 
When he returns in an hour's time the boy is jesting 
merrily with his comrades ; but his quick eyes catch 
the approaching form, he draws back into his corner, 
and whispers with a down-bent head, ' Thank you, 
Don Antonio.' 

Don Antonio, if that is his name, takes no notice ; 
he does not even cast a passing glance at the scene of 
the late conflict. 



IV 

At about eight o'clock, Peppiniello resolves to give 
up business for that evening. It is true the market is 
at its height, and he has not yet sold more than half 
his wares, but he will want a new supply to-morrow, 
and the best time for gathering it has now begun. 
To-night, too, he must make good use of his time, for 
he will have to return home earlier than usual, as 
Donna Amalia goes to bed between eleven and twelve. 
He turns in the direction of San Carlo, and walks 
slowly past the small theatres, picking up what he can 
by the way, till he reaches the garden gate of the palace, 
over which he throws a two-centesimo piece, with a 
hardly perceptible motion of his hand, and without 
, turning his head. On each side stands a colossal 
bronze statue of a man governing an unruly horse. 
The Emperor Nicholas of Russia sent them as a present 
to King Ferdinand after his return from Italy, and 
they were supposed by the Italian Liberals of those 
days to convey a delicate hint as to what the Autocrat 
of the North considered the true principles of govern- 



PEPPINIELLO 241 

ment. Of all this Peppiniello of course knows nothing ; 
but the stalwart forms have made a deep impression 
on his imagination, and he has invented this strange 
way of paying his adoration to them. He does not 
number them with the saints, still less has he any 
intention of paying them divine honours. What he 
attributes to them is great, though by no means un- 
limited, power, and some such capricious goodwill to 
himself as the boatmen frequently show. He is not 
given to analysis, and he sees no contradiction between 
this worship and the rest of his religious creed ; indeed, 
the bronze statues fill a place that would otherwise be 
left vacant in his pantheon. He looks upon them as 
leading strong joyous lives of their own, and caring on 
the whole very little for human affairs, though he 
thinks they must be somewhat pleased by sincere 
devotion. At best they are only good-natured, not 
good ; and so they stand far below the saints, whose 
whole time is spent in acts of graciousness and pity. 
But then you cannot call upon the saints to help you 
in committing what the Church calls a sin, though 
doubtless they will often save you from its conse- 
quences. With respect to the two bronze figures, he 
has no such scruples, for he is convinced that their 
moral code is no more stringent than his own. So he 
called upon them when the children at Santa Lucia 
seemed inclined to abandon him to the police, and we 
know how well he got out of that scrape. Nevertheless, 
he keeps his irreligious faith a profound secret, partly 
from a fear of ridicule, no doubt, but partly also because 
he has a shrewd suspicion that the objects of it are 
more likely to pay attention to his prayers if the 
number of their worshippers remains strictly limited. 

Peppiniello now sets to work in good earnest, and 
by twelve o'clock he has collected an ample stock-in- 
trade, paid the waiter the two soldi he owed him, and 
received his bread and money from Donna Amalia. 
He now turns homewards. It is a long way, but tie 



242 CHARLES GRANT 

only pauses to buy two slices of water-melon at a stall, 
and these he carries in his hand until he reaches a 
small open court at the mouth of a cavern, where a 
number of women are seated to enjoy as much of the 
freshness of the night as the high walls of the neigh- 
bouring houses will allow. He gives a sharp whistle, 
and immediately a girl hastens towards him. You 
can see at a glance that she is Peppiniello' s sister. 
Her name is Concetta, and she is about thirteen years 
old, though a Northerner would probably think her a 
year and a half older. Her complexion is sallower 
than her brother's, her eyes are very bright, and her 
black hair, which is tied in a rough wisp round her 
head, has been burnt and bleached by exposure till 
the surface coil is almost brown. With a little care it 
might be made to look well, but it has never been 
brushed since her mothers death, and is rarely combed 
more than once a week. Her dress is decent, but it 
has been patched in many places with different 
materials, and she is far dirtier than Peppiniello, to 
whom custom allows the luxury of sea-bathing. Still 
there is a great deal of intelligence, some kindness, and 
not a little care in her look. Yet at times she can 
break into wild fits of merriment, and dance the taran- 
tella with all the wild passion of a bacchanal. She 
seldom does that, however, when her brother or, 
indeed, any male person is present, and to-night she 
follows him very quietly down a narrow street to a 
little open place, and there seats herself on a doorstep 
beside him. She feels quite as strongly as he does that 
it would be beneath his dignity to take a place among 
the women and girls at the cavern's mouth. 

4 The children are asleep ? ' asks Peppiniello, as he 
gives his sister a hunch of bread and one of the slices 
of water-melon. 

' Yes ; and Donna Lucia has promised to have an 
eye on them till I come back.' 

Peppiniello now gives the girl four soldi for the 



PEPPINIELLO 243 

household expenses of the morrow, and when he adds 
eight centesimi to enable them each to buy a piece of 
water-melon, she knows he has had a prosperous day, 
for in hard times she and her sisters are obliged to live 
on a soldo each, and what they can manage to earn or 
pick up. The bread is a new and pleasant surprise, 
over which her eyes brighten ; to-morrow, house- 
keeping will be a'n easy task. 

Business being over, the two fall to their suppers 
with a hearty appetite, while Peppiniello relates all 
his day's adventures, with the exception of the bargain 
with the waiter, and his sacrifice to the statues. The 
manner of both is quite changed ; they are mere 
children chatting together as merrily as if they had 
never known want or care. When he has finished his 
tale, he places the money in her hand all except a 
single soldo which he has hid away before. She counts 
it over carefully, and then exclaims joyously, 'Why, 
you have been lucky ! With the rest this makes seven 
lire and a half: only ten soldi more and the month's 
rent is ready, and to-morrow is only the thirteenth.' 

Peppiniello' s tone assumes some of its old business 
weight iness, as he replies, ' Yes, but that must be made 
up before we spend anything.' 

Concetta readily assents to this, and then goes on to 
propose that, even when their rent is ready, they shall 
continue to hoard their gains until they have money 
enough to buy one of the children a nice dress, so that 
they may be able to send her out of an evening to sell 
flowers to the ladies and gentlemen in the villa. ' That 
is the way to make money.' But Peppiniello very 
decisively rejects the proposal, and the girl, who, like 
most affectionate women that have not been spoiled 
by culture, has a habit of obeying even the unreason- 
able wishes of those whom she loves, gives way at once, 
and all who know more of Neapolitan life than she does 
will feel that in this difference her brother is in the right. 
Still, though she does not sulk or quarrel, she is disap- 



244 CHARLES GRANT 

pointed by the rejection of her plan, and more silent 
than usual. She has a great trust, love, and admira- 
tion for her brother : they never quarrel, partly per- 
haps because they are so little together, and, what is 
more, she never yet had a secret from him. He, as we 
have seen, is not so open. He never told his sister 
anything about that purse ; but he had several good 
reasons for this. He does not wish her to know that 
he steals, for she might imitate his example, and that 
would be unfeminine. There is no harm in boys doing 
a great many things that girls must not do, and he 
would be as much shocked to hear that Concetta had 
been guilty of a theft as to find her swimming in the 
waters of the harbour. But he had also another reason 
for keeping that secret. He knew exactly what he 
wanted to do with the money. The great terror of his 
life is that some month he may be unable to pay the 
rent, and that they will consequently be turned into 
the street. For himself the discomfort would not be 
great, as in most weathers he can sleep at least as com- 
fortably on a doorstep as in bed ; but he dreads it 
for the children's, and still more for Concetta' s sake. 
So as soon as the money fell into his hands, he resolved 
to keep eight lire constantly in store as a resource 
against cases of the utmost need, and to say nothing 
about this, in order that neither he nor his sister might 
be tempted to be less careful in always getting the rent 
together as early in the month as possible. Nearly 
three lire were spent on the banquet he had to give to 
his half-hearted associates. He has still three left to 
dispose of, but they will go, as six have already gone, 
to the lotto. For that, too. he reserves the soldo, which 
he daily abstracts from his earnings. It is the only 
way he knows of investing his savings, but he is afraid 
of awakening hopes in his sister's mind which a sad 
experience has shown to be so often fallacious. Yet 
he has many compunctions of conscience about that 
soldo, which he tries to quiet by remembering that he 



PEPPINIELLO 245 

allows each of the others the same sum for her daily 
expenditure. Otherwise he scrupulously shares every- 
thing he gains with the rest. If he buys a little fruit, 
the only way in which he ever spends anything upon 
himself, he brings them some, or gives them money to 
do the same. What Concetta and the children can 
earn or pick up they do as they like with, but though 
she keeps the family purse, into which all his gains flow, 
she never thinks of taking a centesimo out of it without 
his previous consent. 

But, by this time, Peppiniello and his sister have 
finished their supper and are returning to the cavern's 
mouth. More than twenty families sleep in that 
gloomy hole, divided from each other by no partition 
greater than a line drawn upon the floor. The sides 
of the grotto are damp, and the air close and fetid 
with a thousand evil odours, though the entrance and 
the roof are lofty. You can catch no glimpse of the 
latter at this time of night ; there is only one great 
starless darkness overhead, but below, here and there, 
a tiny oil flame glimmers before the picture of some 
saint. There is one burning at the foot of Peppiniello' s 
bed, which occupies the worst place but one, that 
farthest from the entrance, and when the two reach it, 
after exchanging a few friendly words with Donna 
Lucia, one of the occupants of the neighbouring bed, 
they refill the lamp from a little flask, and then kneel 
down before a rough print of the Virgin to repeat a 
Paternoster and an Ave. 

The bed itself is large enough not only for the whole 
family, but also to accommodate a stranger now and 
then, when, of a stormy night, Peppiniello happens 
to find some homeless boy shivering on a doorstep 
that does not shelter him from the rain. Three 
children are now sleeping quietly enough in it. The 
eldest of them, who may be nine, has a strong family 
likeness to Concetta, and so has one of the younger 
girls, whom you take to be six ; but the third, who 



24C CHARLES GRANT 

seems to be of nearly the same age, has quite a different 
face and figure. She is far more slightly built, has a 
little rosy mouth and tiny hands and feet. Her skin, 
though it is bronzed by the sun, is far fairer than that 
of her bedfellows, and she has fine light brown hair 
which would be silken if it were kept in proper order. 
Her name is Mariannina, and she is not in fact one of 
Peppiniello's sisters. This is her story : 

One night, about a year ago, when the boy was 
returning home, he saw her sleeping all alone in the 
portico of a church. If it had been a boy he would 
have passed on without taking any notice, but that 
wasn't a proper place for little girls to sleep in, so he 
wakened her, and asked where her home was, that he 
might take her there. It was a long way off, she 
said ; she didn't know where, but a long, long way. 
At length, in answer to many questions and a good 
deal of coaxing, she told him she lived alone with her 
mother, who, as soon as she had had her breakfast, 
used to give her a hunch of bread, turn her into the 
street, lock the door, and go to her work, from which 
she did not return till after dark. But one morning 
some time ago Mariannina did not know exactly 
how long : it seemed a long while her mother was 
lazy and would not get up. The child had nothing to 
eat that day, but in the evening her mother gave her 
the key of the cupboard where the bread was, and told 
her where to find some money. Mariannina had a good 
time of it for several days, as her mother took no notice 
of her, and would not eat anything ; but when the 
money was all spent she told her she had no more, and 
that she must get her breakfast how she could. She 
went out to play as usual, and a neighbour gave her 
something to eat. When she came back her mother 
was talking very loud, but there was no one else in the 
room, and the child could not understand what she 
said. She went on in that way for a long time, but at 
last she made a strange noise and then she was quite 



PEPPINIELLO 247 

still. Afterwards the lamp before the Virgin went 
out ; there had been no oil to replenish it with. Next 
morning, when Mariannina awoke, her mother was 
still asleep. When she touched her she was quite cold. 
At first she had tried to awaken her, but she would not 
speak nor move, so the child was frightened and ran 
away. All day she had tried to get as far away as she 
could. She did not want to go home ; she would go 
with Peppiniello, and she was hungry. 

The kindest as well as the wisest thing would of 
course have been to take the little orphan to the 
Foundling Hospital, but Peppiniello never thought of 
that. He was convinced that the Holy Virgin had 
sent him to take care of this child, and he was not the 
boy to shrink from such a trust. Concetta was of the 
same opinion, and from that day to this Mariannina 
had been a member of the family. She is a quiet child, 
with soft, caressing ways, and never has those fits of 
wild merriment into which the others fall ; but she has 
also less cheerfulness to face hard times with, and w T hen 
the supply of food is very scanty, she is apt to be rather 
subdued and to look weary. The girls treat her exactly 
as they do each other, but there is just a shade of extra 
gentleness in the relation between her and her protector, 
which may arise from the consciousness that the ties 
between them have been formed by their own free 
choice, or perhaps from the belief which both entertain 
that it was the Blessed Virgin who brought them 
together. 

As soon as Peppiniello and Concetta have finished 
their prayers they arm themselves with two long sticks. 
A rusty fork is firmly bound to the end of that which 
the girl leans against her side of the bed, while her 
brother's terminates in the blade of an old knife, 
carefully sharpened. As he creeps into his place, 
Mariannina puts her hands up to his cheeks and falls 
asleep again in the midst of the caress. And now the 
purpose of the strange weapons soon becomes clear, 



248 CHARLES GRANT 

for scarcely has quiet been restored when the floor is 
literally covered with hundreds of rats. Concetta 
makes several ineffectual thrusts before Peppiniello 
moves his arm, but at his first blow he succeeds in 
wounding one of them, which utters a sharp squeak as 
it disappears. In a moment all the rest have vanished, 
and a shrill yet tremulous voice is raised in angry pro- 
test from the darkness beyond. At first it utters noth- 
ing but vile abuse and frightful curses, but then in a 
whine it urges that it is a sin to maim and injure the 
poor creatures. ' They, too, are God's children.' 

' Why doesn't He keep them at home, then ? While 
I'm here, they're not going to nibble Mariannina's 
toes,' replies Peppiniello, but in a tone only just loud 
enough to catch Concetta' s ear, for he respects the age 
and pities the suffering of the wretched being who has 
just spoken. 

It is Donna Lucia's mother, who, having been found 
too loathsome to retain her place in the family bed, 
has been accommodated with a sack of dried maize- 
leaves in the darkest corner of the cave. As her 
daughter and son-in-law are abroad at their work all 
day, their children are too little to be of any use, and she 
cannot move from her pallet, she has perhaps some 
reason to be grateful to the natural scavengers she 
vainly endeavours to protect. Perhaps, too, the last 
affectionate instincts of a motherly nature have centred 
themselves on the only living beings that constantly 
surround her. At length the querulous voice dies 
away, the stick falls from Peppiniello' s hand, and he 
sinks into a sound sleep. 1 

i The incident of the old woman's affection for the rats 
is borrowed from Renato Fucini's interesting Napoli a 
occliio nudo, p. 67. On his visiting one of the habitations 
of the poor, some such wretched being as Donna Lucia's 
mother used the expression employed in the text, in re- 
proving him for frightening the rats away. The Italian 
words are Son creature di Dio anche loro, and the verbal 
translation would of course be, ' They, too, are God's 



PBPPINIELLO 249 



When Peppiniello wakes he feels instinctively that 
it is dawn, though as yet no ray of light has penetrated 
even to the entrance of the cavern ; so he awakens 
Concetta. She is tired, and would willingly sleep 
another hour or two as she usually does, but in that 
case she could not go to mass with her brother, so she 
rouses herself, and they are soon on their way to a 
neighbouring church. 

It is still dusk, the larger stars have not yet faded 
out of the sky, and the freshness of the morning air is 
felt even in the narrow streets through which their way 
leads them. There is a stillness everywhere, and an 
unusual light on common things, which impress both 
the children, but chiefly Concetta, who never rises so 
early except when she goes to mass. And when they 
pass the portal of the church the blaze of the candles 
upon the altar, the glow of the polished marble, the 
rich colours of the hangings, seem to stand in a strange 
contrast, not only to the quiet twilight outside, but 
also to all their ordinary surroundings. To you and 
me the church looks gaudy, a miracle of bad taste, it 
may be ; to them it is a little glimpse of splendour 
which they feel all the more keenly because it is so 

creatures ' ; but this would quite fail to give the point of 
the reproof, for the word creatura is constantly applied in 
affectionate excuse for little children, or to urge their claim 
on the pity of adults. When a poor widow says in begging, 
Tengo tre creature, she means to insist on their inability 
to care for themselves in any way, and Sono creature is 
the constant plea of the mother whose children have excited 
the anger of a grown-up person ; pretty much as an Eng- 
lishwoman might say, ' They are too young to know 
what they are doing, poor things.' In calling the rats 
creature di Dio, therefore, the old woman wished to insist 
upon their weakness and their ignorance of right and 
wrong as a claim upon human pity, quite as much as on the 
fact of their having been created by God ; almost as if she 
had said, ' Spare the poor helpless innocents who have no 
protector but Him Who made them.' 



250 CHARLES GRANT 

different from all the sordid circumstances of their 
daily life. And they are so safe here, too. Dirty as 
they are, no one rudely forbids their entrance or will 
push them from the altar step at which they kneel. 
For this is no great man's palace, but the house of God 
and the Madonna, and even these outcast children 
have a right to a place in it. 

And so the mass begins, and Peppiniello remembers 
a number of trifles, and asks forgiveness for them. 
He thinks about the daily soldo he conceals from his 
sister, and has half a mind not to do so any more, 
though he is by no means sure it is a sin, and he thanks 
God and the Madonna for having taken care of him so 
often, but particularly yesterday, and prays them still 
to be good to him and his sisters and Mariannina, and 
to the girl who so kindly befriended him yesterday. 
For the rest of his friends and benefactors he prays in a 
general way and in the usual form ; he does not 
specially think even of Donna Amalia or Don Antonio 
(though he would pray for both if they asked him), 
far less of the English sailors ; and when he repeats the 
petition which he has been taught to use with respect 
to his enemies, I doubt whether any remembrance of 
Donna Estere comes into his head. When the eleva- 
tion of the Host is past, and the time has come to 
remember the dead, Concetta gently presses his hand, 
and he prays for the souls of his parents and of Marian- 
nina' s mother, and for ' all that rest in Christ.' She 
remembers their old home better, and thinks oftener 
about it, than he does, and so she is more moved by this 
part of the service, which he is sometimes apt to forget. 

And all his real sins, his lies and thefts, doesn't he 
repent of them ? I am afraid not. Some time ago he 
took his sisters to see the miracle of San Gennaro, and , 
when the liquefaction of the blood was long delayed, 
did not think of all the other spectators who crowded 
the church, but concluded that it was some personal 
sin of his that had offended the saint. So he searched 



PEPPINIELLO 251 

his conscience, and remembered that some time before 
he had refused an old woman a part of his scanty dinner, 
even though she had begged for it in the Madonna's 
name, and that he had spoken harshly to Donna 
Lucia's mother a few d&ys afterwards ; and he resolved 
to be gentler and kinder to the aged and infirm in 
future. Then the miracle was wrought, and hitherto 
he has kept his resolution. But his lies and thefts he 
did not remember. Nay, when he next prepares himself 
for confession, they will probably be the last sins that 
come into his mind. When the priest insists on their 
wickedness, the boy will be moved, and he will really 
repent, and make up his mind to give them up alto- 
gether, and for a day or two he will persevere ; but 
then he will begin to consider the matter from a worldly 
point of view. The priest was doubtless right in what 
he said. Peppiniello himself can hardly imagine that 
a saint ever picked anyone's pocket, but then there is 
no chance of his ever becoming a saint, and they know 
how hard a poor mozzonare's life is, and will not judge 
him too harshly. In some such way he will probably 
arrive at the conclusion that perfect honesty is a luxury 
as far beyond his means as the whelks and periwinkles 
which are heaped upon the itinerant vendor's tray, 
and whose dainty odours so often vainly excite his 
appetite. 

But now the mass is over, and Peppiniello and 
Concetta pass out of the church into the golden morning 
sunshine and there part, each to begin anew the labours 
and adventures of the day. And here we must leave 
them for the present. 



AMBROSE BIERCE 

18421913 (?) 

A HORSEMAN IN THE SKY 

ONE sunny afternoon in the autumn of the year 1861, 
a soldier lay in a clump of laurel by the side of a road 
in Western Virginia. He lay at full length, upon his 
stomach, his feet resting upon the toes, his head upon 
the left forearm. His extended right hand loosely 
grasped his rifle. But for the somewhat methodical 
disposition of his limbs and a slight rhythmic movement 
of the cartridge box at the back of his belt, he might 
have been thought to be dead. He was asleep at his 
post of duty. But if detected he would be dead shortly 
afterward, that being the just and legal penalty of his 
crime. 

The clump of laurel in which the criminal lay was in 
the angle of a road which, after ascending, southward, 
a steep acclivity to that point, turned sharply to the 
west, running along the summit for perhaps one hun- 
dred yards. There it turned southward again and went 
zigzagging downward through the forest. At the 
salient of that second angle was a large flat rock, 
jutting out from the ridge to the northward, overlooking 
the deep valley from which the road ascended. The 
rock capped a high cliff ; a stone dropped from its 
outer edge would have fallen sheer downward one thou- 
sand feet to the tops of the pines. The angle where the 
soldier lay was on another spur of the same cliff. Had 
he been awake he would have commanded a view, not 
only of the short arm of the road and the jutting rock 

252 



A HORSEMAN IN THE SKY 253 

i 

but of the entire profile of the cliff below it. It might 
well have made him giddy to look. 

The country was wooded everywhere except at the 
bottom of the valley to the northward, where there 
was a small natural meadow, through which flowed a 
stream scarcely visible from the valley's rim. This 
open ground looked hardly larger than an ordinary 
door r yard, but was really several acres in extent. Its 
green was more vivid than that of the enclosing forest. 
Away beyond it rose a line of giant cliffs similar to 
those upon which we are supposed to stand in our 
survey of the savage scene, and through which the road 
had somehow made its climb to the summit. The 
configuration of the valley, indeed, was such that from 
our point of observation it seemed entirely shut in, 
and one could not but have wondered how the road 
which found a way out of it had found a way into it, and 
whence came and whither went the waters of the stream 
that parted the meadow two thousand feet below. 

No country is so wild and difficult but men will make 
it a theatre of war ; concealed in the f orest at the 
bottom of that military rat-trap, in which half a hun- 
dred men in possession of the exits might have starved 
an army to submission, lay five regiments of Federal 
infantry. They had marched all the previous day and 
night and were resting. At nightfall they would take 
to the road again, climb to the place where their 
unfaithful sentinel now slept, and, descending the 
other slope of the ridge, fall upon a camp of the enemy 
at about midnight. Their hope was to surprise it, for 
the road led to the rear of it. In case of failure their 
position would be perilous in the extreme ; and fail 
they surely would should accident or vigilance apprise 
the enemy of the movement. 

The sleeping sentinel in the clump of laurel was a 
young Virginian named Carter Druse. He was the son 
of wealthy parents, an only child, and had known such 
ease and cultivation and high living as wealth and taste 



254 AMBROSE BIERCE 

were able to command in the mountain country of 
Western Virginia. His home was but a few miles from 
where he now lay. One morning he had risen from the 
breakfast table and said, quietly and gravely : * Father, 
a Union regiment has arrived at Grafton. I am going 
to join it.' 

The father lifted his leonine head, looked at the son a 
moment in silence, and replied : 'Go, Carter, and, 
whatever may occur, do what you conceive to be your 
duty. Virginia, to which you are a traitor, must get 
on without you. Should we both live to the end of the 
war, we will speak further of the matter. Your mother, 
as the physician has informed you, is in a most critical 
condition ; at the best she cannot be with us longei 
than a few weeks, but that time is precious. It would 
be better not to disturb her.' 

So Carter Druse, bowing reverently to his father, 
who returned the salute with a stately courtesy which 
masked a breaking heart, left the home of his childhood 
to go soldiering. By conscience and courage, by deeds 
of devotion and daring, he soon commended himself 
to his fellows and his officers ; and it was to these 
qualities and to some knowledge of the country that he 
owed his selection for his present perilous duty at the 
extreme outpost. Nevertheless, fatigue had been 
stronger than resolution, and he had fallen asleep. 
What good or bad angel came in a dream to rouse him 
from his state of crime who shall say ? Without a 
movement, without a sound, in the profound silence 
and the languor of the late afternoon, some invisible 
messenger of fate touched with unsealing finger the 
eyes of his consciousness whispered into the ear of 
his spirit the mysterious awakening word which no 
human lips have ever spoken, no human memory 
ever has recalled. He quietly raised his forehead 
from his arm and looked between the masking stems 
of the laurels, instinctively closing his right hand 
about the stock of his rifle. 



A HORSEMAN IN THE SKY 255 

His first feeding was a keen artistic delight. On 
a colossal pedestal, the cliff, motionless at the extreme 
edge of the capping rock and sharply outlined against, 
the sky, was an equestrian statue of impressive dignity. 
The figure of the man sat the figure of the horse, 
straight and soldierly, but with the repose of a Grecian 
god carved in the marble which limits the suggestion 
of activity. The grey costume harmonized with its 
aerial background ; the metal of accoutrement and 
caparison was softened and subdued by the shadow ; 
the animal's skin had no points of high light. A 
carbine, strikingly foreshortened, lay across the pommel 
of the saddle, kept in place by the right hand grasping 
it at the ' grip ' ; the left hand, holding the bridle rein, 
was invisible. In silhouette against the sky, the profile 
of the horse was cut with the sharpness of a cameo ; it 
looked across the heights of air to the confronting cliffs 
beyond. The face of the rider, turned slightly to the 
left, showed only an outline of temple and beard ; he 
was looking downward to the bottom of the valley. 
Magnified by its lift against the sky and by the soldier's 
testifying sense of the formidableness of a near enemy, 
the group appeared of heroic, almost colossal, size. 

For an instant Druse had a strange, half-defined 
feeling that he had slept to the end of the war and was 
looking upon a noble work of art reared upon that 
commanding eminence to commemorate the deeds of 
an heroic past of which he had been an inglorious part. 
The feeling was dispelled by a slight movement of the 
group ; the horse, without moving its feet, had drawn 
its body slightly backward from the verge ; the man 
remained immobile as before. Broad awake and keenly 
alive to the significance of the situation, Druse now 
brought the butt of his rifle against his cheek by 
cautiously pushing the barrel forward through the 
bushes, cocked the piece, and, glancing through the 
sights, covered a vital spot of the horseman's breast. 
A touch upon the trigger and all would have been well 



256 AMBROSE BIERCE 

with arter .Druse. At that instant the horseman 
turned his head and looked in the direction of his 
concealed foeman seemed to look into his very face, 
into his eyes, into his brave compassionate heart. 

Is it, then, so terrible to kill an enemy in war an 
enemy who has surprised a secret vital to the safety of 
one's self and comrades an enemy more formidable 
for his knowledge than all his army for its numbers ?- 
Carter Druse grew deathly pale ; he shook in every 
limb, turned faint, and saw the statuesque group before 
him as black figures, rising, falling, moving unsteadily 
in arcs of circles in a fiery sky. His hand fell away 
from his weapon, his head slowly dropped until his face 
rested on the leaves in which he lay. This courageous 
gentleman and hardy soldier was near swooning from 
intensity of emotion. 

It was not for long ; in another moment his face was 
raised from earth, his hands resumed their places on 
the rifle, his forefinger sought the trigger ; mind, heart, 
and eyes were clear, conscience and reason sound. He 
could not hope to capture that enemy ; to alarm him 
would but send him dashing to his camp with his fatal 
news. The duty of the soldier was plain : the man 
must be shot dead from ambush without warning, 
without a moment's spiritual preparation, with 
never so much as an unspoken prayer, he must be sent 
to his account. But no there is a hope ; he may 
have discovered nothing perhaps he is but admiring 
the sublimity of the landscape. If permitted he may 
turn and ride carelessly away in the direction whence 
he came. Surely it will be possible to judge at the 
instant of his withdrawing whether he knows. It may 
well be that his fixity of attention Druse turned his 
head and looked below, through the deeps of air down- 
ward, as from the surface to the bottom of a translucent 
sea. He saw creeping across the green meadow a 
sinuous line of figures of men and horses some foolish 
commander was permitting the soldiers of his escort 



A HORSEMAN IN THE SKY 257 

to water their beasts in the open, in plain view from a 
hundred summits ! 

Druse withdrew his eyes from the valley and fixed 
them again upon the group of man and horse in the 
sky, and again it was through the sights of his rifle. 
But this time his aim was at the horse. In his memory, 
as if they were a divine mandate, rang the words of his 
father at their parting. ' Whatever may occur, do 
what you conceive to be your duty.' He was calm 
now. His teeth were firmly but not rigidly closed ; 
his nerves were as tranquil as a sleeping babe's not 
a tremor affected any muscle of his body ; his breathing 
until suspended in the act of taking aim, was regular 
and slow. Duty had conquered ; the spirit, had said to 
the body : ' Peace, be still.' He fired. 

At that moment an officer of the Federal force, 
who, in a spirit of adventure or in quest of knowledge, 
had left the hidden bivouac in the valley, and, with 
aimless feet, had made his way to the lower edge of 
a small open space near the foot of the cliff, was con- 
sidering what he had to gain by pushing his explora- 
tion further. At a distance of a quarter-mile before 
him, but apparently at a stone's throw, rose from its 
fringe of pines the gigantic face of rock, towering to 
so great a height above him that it made him giddy 
to look up to where its edge cut a sharp, rugged line 
against the sky. At some distance away to his right 
it presented a clean, vertical profile against a back- 
ground of blue sky to a point half of the way down, 
and of distant hills hardly less blue thence to the 
tops of the trees at its base. Lifting his eyes to the 
dizzy altitude of its summit, the officer saw an aston- 
ishing sight a man on horseback riding down into 
the valley through the air ! 

Straight upright sat the rider, in military fashion, 
with a firm seat in the saddle, a strong clutch upon 
the rein to hold his charger from too impetuous a 
plunge. From his bare head his long hair streamed 

228 K 



258 AMBROSE BIERCE 

upward, waving like a plume. His right hand was 
concealed in the cloud of the horse's lifted mane. 
The animal's body was as level as if every hoof stroke 
encountered the resistant earth. Its motions were 
those of a wild gallop, but even as the officer looked 
they ceased, with all the legs thrown sharply forward 
as in the act of alighting from a leap. But this was 
a flight ! 

Filled with amazement and terror by this appari- 
tion of a horseman in the sky half believing himself 
the chosen scribe of some new Apocalypse, the officer 
was overcome by the intensity of his emotions ; his 
legs failed him and he fell. -Almost at the same instant 
he heard a crashing sound in the trees a sound that 
died without an echo, and all was still. 

The officer rose to his feet, trembling. The familiar 
sensation of an abraded shin recalled his dazed facul- 
ties, Pulling himself together, he ran rapidly obliquely 
away from the cliff to a point a half-mile from its 
foot ; thereabout he expected to find his man ; and 
thereabout he naturally failed. In the fleeting in- 
stant of his vision his imagination had been so wrought 
upon by the apparent grace and ease and intention 
of the marvellous performance that it did not occur 
to him that the line of march of aerial cavalry is 
directed downward, and that he could find the objects 
of his search at the very foot of the cliff. A half-hour 
later he returned to camp. 

This officer was a wise man ; he knew better than 
to tell an incredible truth. He said nothing of w r hat 
he had seen. But when the commander asked him 
if in his scout he had learned anything of advantage 
to the expedition, he answered : 

' Yes, sir ; there is no road leading down into this 
valley from the southward.' 

The commander, knowing better, smiled. 

After firing his shot Private Carter Druse reloaded 
his rifle and resumed his watch. Ten minutes had 



A HORSEMAN IN THE SKY 259 

hardly passed when a Federal sergeant crept cau- 
tiously to him on hands and knees. Druse neither 
turned his head nor looked at him, but lay .without 
motion or sign of recognition. 

'Did you fire ? ' the sergeant whispered. 

1 Yes.' 

' At what ? ' 

' A horse. It was standing on yonder rock pretty 
far out. You see it is no longer there. It went over 
the cliff.' 

The man's face was white, but he showed no other 
sign of emotion. Having answered, he turned away 
his face and said no more. The sergeant did not 
understand. 

' See here, Druse,' he said, after a moment's silence, 
' it's no use making a mystery. I order you to report. 
Was there anybody on the horse ? ' 

4 Yes.' 

' Who ? ' 

' My father.' 

The sergeant rose to his feet and walked away. 
' Good God ! ' he said. 



HENRY JAMES 

1843-1916 
OWEN WINGRAVE 



* UPON my honour you must be off your head ! ' 
cried Spencer Coyle, as the young man, with a white 
face, stood there panting a little and repeating ' Really, 
I've quite decided,' and ' I assure you I've thought it 
all out.' They were both pale, but Owen Wingrave 
smiled in a manner exasperating to his interlocutor, 
who however still discriminated sufficiently to see that 
his grimace (it was like an irrelevant leer) was the 
result of extreme and conceivable nervousness. 

' It was certainly a mistake to have gone so far ; 
but that is exactly why I feel I mustn't go further,' 
poor Owen said, waiting mechanically, almost humbly 
(he wished not to swagger, and indeed he had nothing 
to swagger about) and carrying through the window 
to the stupid opposite houses the dry glitter of his 
eyes. 

4 I'm unspeakably disgusted. You've made me 
dreadfully ill,' Mr. Coyle went on, looking thoroughly 
upset. 

4 I'm very sorry. It was the fear of the effect on 
you that kept me from speaking sooner.' 

' You should have spoken three months ago. Don't 
you know your mind from one day to the other ? ' 

The young man for a moment said nothing. Then 
he replied with a little tremor : ' You're very angry 
with me, and I expected it. I'm awfully obliged to 
you for all you've done for me. I'll do anything else 

260 



OWEN WINGRAVE 261 

for you in return, but I can't do that. Everyone else 
will let me have it, of course. I'm prepared for it 
I'm prepared for everything. That's what has taken 
the time : to be sure I was prepared. I think it's 
your displeasure I feel most and regret most. But 
little by little you'll get over it.' 

1 You'll get over it rather faster, I suppose ! ' 
Spencer Coyle satirically exclaimed. He was quite 
as agitated as his young friend, and they were evi- 
dently in no condition to prolong an encounter in 
which they each drew blood. Mr. Coyle was a pro- 
fessional ' coach ' ; he prepared young men for the 
army, taking only three or four at a time, to whom 
he applied the irresistible stimulus of which the posses- 
sion was both his secret and his fortune. He had not 
a great establishment ; he would have said himself 
that it was not a wholesale business. Neither his 
system, his health, nor his temper could have accom- 
modated itself to numbers ; so he weighed and mea- 
sured his* pupils and turned away more applicants 
than he passed. He was an artist in his line, caring 
only for picked subjects and capable of sacrifices 
almost passionate for the individual. He liked ardent 
young men (there were kinds of capacity to which he 
was indifferent) and he had taken a particular fancy 
to Owen Wingrave. This young man's facility really 
fascinated him. His candidates usually did wonders, 
and he might have sent up a multitude. He was a 
person of exactly the stature of the great Napoleon, 
with a certain flicker of genius in his light blue eye : 
it had been said of him that he looked like a pianist. 
The tone of his favourite pupil now expressed, with- 
out intention indeed, a superior wisdom which irritated 
him. He had not especially suffered before from 
Wingrave' s high opinion of himself, which had seemed 
justified by remarkable parts ; but to-day it struck 
him as intolerable. He cut short the discussion, 
declining absolutely to regard their relations as ter- 



262 HENRY JAMES 

minated, and remarked to his pupil that he had better 
go off somewhere (down to Eastbourne, say ; the 
sea would bring him round) and take a few days to 
find his feet and come to his senses. He could afford 
the time, he was so well up : when Spencer Coyle 
remembered how well up he was he could have boxed 
his ears. The tall, athletic young man was not phy- 
sically a subject for simplified reasoning ; but there 
was a troubled gentleness in his handsome face, the 
index of compunction mixed with pertinacity, which 
signified that if it could have done any good he would 
have turned both cheeks. He evidently didn't pre- 
tend that his wisdom was superior ; he only presented 
it as his own. It was his own career after all that 
was in question. He couldn't refuse to go through 
the form of trying Eastbourne or at least of holding 
his tongue, though there was that in his manner 
which implied that if he should do so it would be 
really to give Mr. Coyle a chance to recuperate. He 
didn't feel a bit overworked, but there was nothing 
more natural than that with their tremendous pressure 
Mr. Coyle should be. Mr. Coyle's own intellect would 
derive an advantage from his pupil's holiday. Mr. 
Coyle saw what he meant, but he controlled himself ; 
he only demanded, as his right, a truce of three days. 
Owen Wingrave granted it, though as fostering sad 
illusions this went visibly against his conscience ; but 
before they separated the famous crammer remarked : 

' All the same I feel as if I ought to see someone. 
I think you mentioned to me that your aunt had 
come to town ? ' 

' Oh yes ; she's in Baker Street. Do go and see 
her,' the boy said comfortingly. 

Mr. Coyle looked at him an instant. ' Have you 
broached this folly to her ? ' 

4 Not yet to no one. I thought it right to speak 
to you first.' 

' Oh, what you " think right " ! ' cried Spencer 



OWEN WINGRAVE 263 

Coyle, outraged by his young friend's standards. He 
added that he would probably call on Miss Wingrave ; 
after which the recreant youth got out of the house. 

Owen Wingrave didn't however start punctually 
for Eastbourne ; he only directed his steps to Ken- 
sington Gardens, from which Mr. Coyle' s desirable 
residence (he was terribly expensive and had a big 
house) was not far removed. The famous coach ' put 
up ' his pupils, and Owen had mentioned to the butler 
that he would be back to dinner. The spring day 
was warm to his young blood, and he had a book 
in his pocket which, when he had passed into the 
gardens and, after a short stroll, dropped into a chair, 
he took out with the slow, soft sigh that finally ushers 
in a pleasure postponed. He stretched his long legs 
and began to read it ; it was a volume of Goethe's 
poems. He had been for days in a state of the highest 
tension, and now that the cord had snapped the relief 
was proportionate ; only it was characteristic of him 
that this deliverance should take the form of an intel- 
lectual pleasure. If he had thrown up the probability 
of a magnificent career it was not to dawdle along 
Bond Street nor parade his indifference in the window 
of a club. At any rate he had in a few moments 
forgotten everything the tremendous pressure, Mr. 
Coyle' s disappointment, and even his formidable aunt 
in Baker Street. If these watchers had overtaken 
him, there would surely have been some excuse for 
their exasperation. There was no doubt he was per- 
verse, for his very choice of a pastime only showed 
how he had got up his German. 

' What the devil's the matter with him, do you 
know ? ' Spencer Coyle asked that afternoon of young 
Lechmere, who had never before observed the head 
of the establishment to set a fellow such an example 
of bad language. Young Lechmere was not only 
Wingrave' s fellow-pupil, he was supposed to be his 
intimate, indeed quite his best friend, and had uncon- 



264 HENRY JAMES 

sciously performed for Mr. Coyle the office of making 
the promise of his great gifts more vivid by contrast. 
He was short and sturdy and as a general thing unin- 
spired, and Mr. Coyle, who found no amusement in 
believing in him, had never thought him less exciting 
than as he stared now out of a face from which you 
could never guess whether he had caught an idea. 
Young Lechmere concealed such achievements as if 
they had been youthful indiscretions. At any rate 
he could evidently conceive no reason why it should 
be thought there was anything more than usual the 
matter with the companion of his studies ; so Mr. 
Coyle had to continue : 

' He declines to go up. He chucks the whole 
thing ! ' 

The first thing that struck young Lechmere in the 
case was the freshness it had imparted to the governor's 
vocabulary. 

' He doesn't want to go to Sandhurst ? ' 

* He doesn't want to go anywhere. He gives up 
the army altogether. He objects,' said Mr. Coyle, 
in a tone that made young Lechmere almost hold 
his breath, ' to the military profession.' 

' Why, it has been the profession of all his family ! ' 

* Their profession ? It has been their religion ! 
Do you know Miss Wingrave ? ' 

' Oh, yes. Isn't she awful ? ' young Lechmere 
candidly ejaculated. 

His instructor demurred. 

' She's formidable, if you mean that, and it's right 
she should be ; because somehow in her very person, 
good maiden lady as she is, she represents the might, 
she represents the traditions and the exploits of the 
British army. She represents the expansive pro- 
perty of the English name. I think his family can 
be trusted to come down on him, but every influence 
should be set in motion. I want to know what yours 
is. Can you do anything in the matter ? ' 



OWEN WINGRAVE 265 

* I can try a couple of rounds with him,' said young 
Lechmere reflectively. ' But he knows a fearful lot. 
He has the most extraordinary ideas.' 

' Then he has told you some of them he has taken 
you into his confidence ? ' 

' I've heard him jaw by the yard,' smiled the honest 
youth. ' He has told me he despises it.' 

' What is it he despises ? I can't make out.' 

The most consecutive of Mr. Coyle's nurslings 
considered a moment, as if he were conscious of a 
responsibility. 

' Why, I think, military glory. He says we take 
the wrong view of it.' 

' He oughtn't to talk to you that way. It's cor- 
rupting the youth of Athens. It's sowing sedition.'' 

' Oh, I'm all right ! ' said young Lechmere. ' And 
he never told me he meant to chuck it. I always 
thought he meant to see it through, simply because 
he had to. He'll argue on any side you like. It's 
a tremendous pity I'm sure he'd have a big career.' 

' Tell him so, then ; plead with him ; struggle with 
him for God's sake.' 

' I'll do what I can I'll tell him it's a regular 
shame.' 

' Yes, strike that note insist on the disgrace 
of it.' 

The young man gave Mr. Coyle a more perceptive 
glance. ' I'm sure he wouldn't do anything dis- 
honourable'. 

4 Well it won't look right. He must be made to 
feel that work it up. Give him a comrade's point 
of view that of a brother-in-arms.' 

4 That's what I thought we were going to be ! ' 
young Lechmere mused romantically, much uplifted 
by the nature of the mission imposed on him. ' He's 
an awfully good sort.' 

" No one will think so if he backs out ! ' said Spencer 
Coyle. 

Iv* 



266 HENRY JAMES 

' They mustn't say it to me ! ' his pupil rejoined 
with a flush. 

Mr. Coyle hesitated a moment, noting his tone and 
aware that in the perversity of things, though this 
young man was a born soldier, no excitement would 
ever attach to his alternatives save perhaps on the 
part of the nice girl to whom at an early day he was 
sure to be placidly united. ' Do you like him very 
much do you believe in him ? ' 

Young Lechmere's life in these days was spent in 
answering terrible questions ; but he had never been 
subjected to so queer an interrogation as this. ' Be- 
lieve in him ? Rather ! ' 

' Then save him ! ' 

The poor boy was puzzled, as if it were forced 
upon him by this intensity that there was more in 
such an appeal than could appear on the surface ; 
and he doubtless felt that he was only entering into 
a complex situation when after another moment, 
with his hands in his pockets, he replied hopefully 
but riot pompously : ' I daresay I can bring him 
round ! ' 



n 

Before seeing young Lechmere Mr. Coyle had deter- 
mined to telegraph an inquiry to Miss Wingrave. 
He had prepaid the answer, which, being promptly 
put into his hand, brought the interview we have 
just related to a close. He immediately drove off to 
Baker Street, where the lady had said she awaited 
him, and five minutes after he got there, as he sat 
with Owen Wingrave's remarkable aunt, he repeated 
over several times, in his angry sadness and with the 
infallibility of his experience : ' He's so intelligent 
he's so intelligent ! ' He had declared it had been 
a luxury to put such a fellow through. 

4 Of course he's intelligent, what else could he be ? 



OWEN WINGRAVE 267 

We've never, that I know of, had but one idiot in the 
family ! ' said Jane Wingrave. This was an allusion 
that Mr. Coyle could understand, and it brought home 
to him another of the reasons for the disappointment, 
the humiliation, as it were, of the good people at Para- 
more, at the same time that it gave an example of the 
conscientious coarseness he had on former occasions 
observed in his interlocutress. Poor Philip Wingrave, 
her late brother's eldest son, was literally imbecile 
and banished from view ; deformed, unsocial, irre- 
trievable, he had been relegated to a private asylum 
and had become among the friends of the family 
only a little hushed lugubrious legend. All the hopes 
of the house, picturesque Paramore, now unintermit- 
tently old Sir Philip's rather melancholy home (his 
infirmities would keep him there to the last), were 
therefore collected on the second boy's head, which 
nature, as if in compunction for her previous botch, 
had, in addition to making it strikingly handsome, 
filled with marked originalities and talents. These 
two had been the only children of the old man's only 
son, who, like so many of his ancestors, had given up 
a gallant young life to the service of his country. 
Owen Wingrave the elder had received his death-cut, 
in close-quarters, from an Afghan sabre ; the blow 
had come crashing across his skull. His wife, at that 
time in India, was about to give birth to her third 
child ; and when the event took place, in darkness 
and anguish, the baby came lifeless into the world 
and the mother sank under the multiplication of her 
woes. The second of the little boys in England, who 
was at Paramore with his grandfather, became the 
peculiar charge of his aunt, the only unmarried one, 
and during the interesting Sunday that, by urgent 
invitation, Spencer Coyle, busy as he was, had, after 
consenting to put Owen through, spent under that 
roof, the celebrated crammer received a vivid impres- 
sion of the influence exerted at least in intention by 



268 HENRY JAMES 

Miss Wingrave. Indeed the picture of this short 
visit remained with the observant little man a curious 
one the vision of an impoverished Jacobean house, 
shabby and remarkably ' creepy,' but full of character 
still and full of felicity as a setting for the distinguished 
figure of the peaceful old soldier. Sir Philip Win- 
grave, a relic rather than a celebrity, was a small 
brown, erect octogenarian, with smouldering eyes and 
a studied courtesy. He liked to do the diminished 
honours of his house, but even when with a shaky 
hand he lighted a bedroom candle for a deprecating 
guest it was impossible not to feel that beneath the 
surface he was a merciless old warrior. The eye of 
the imagination could glance back into his crowded 
Eastern past back at episodes in which his scrupulous 
forms would only have made him more terrible. 

Mr. Coyle remembered also two other figures a 
faded inoffensive Mrs. Julian, domesticated there by 
a system of frequent visits as the widow of an officer 
and a particular friend of Miss Wingrave, and a re- 
markably clever little girl of eighteen, who was this 
lady's daughter and who struck the speculative visitor 
as already formed for other relations. She was very 
impertinent to Owen, and in the course of a long walk 
that he had taken with the young man and the effect 
of which, in much talk, had been to clinch his high 
opinion of him, he had learned (for Owen chattered 
confidentially) that Mrs. Julian was the sister of a 
very gallant gentleman, Captain Hume- Walker, of the 
Artillery, who had fallen in the Indian Mutiny and 
between whom and Miss Wingrave (it had been that 
lady's one known concession) a passage of some deli- 
cacy, taking a tragic turn, was believed to have been 
enacted. They had been engaged to be married, but 
she had given way to the jealousy of her nature 
had broken with him and sent him off to his fate, 
which had been horrible. A passionate sense of 
having wronged him, a hard eternal remorse had there- 



OWEN WINGRAVE 269 

upon taken possession of her, and when his poor sister, 
linked also to a soldier, had by a still heavier blow 
been left almost without resources, she had devoted 
herself charitably to a long expiation. She had sought 
comfort in taking Mrs. Julian to live much of the 
time at Paramore, where she became an unremunerated 
though not uncriticized housekeeper, and Spencer 
Coyle suspected that it was a part of this comfort 
that she could at her leisure trample on her. The im- 
pression of Jane Wingrave was not the faintest he had 
gathered on that intensifying Sunday an occasion 
singularly tinged for him with the sense of bereave- 
ment and mourning and memory, of names never 
mentioned, of the far-away plaint of widows and 
the echoes of battles and bad news. It was" all mili- 
tary indeed, and Mr. Coyle was made to shudder a 
little at the profession of which he helped to open 
the door to harmless young men. Miss Wingrave 
moreover might have made such a. bad conscience 
worse so cold and clear a good one looked at him 
out of her hard, fine eyes and trumpeted in her sonor- 
ous voice. 

She was a high, distinguished person ; angular but 
not awkward, with a large forehead and abundant 
black hair, arranged like that of a woman conceiving 
perhaps excusably of her head as ' noble,' and irregu- 
larly streaked to-day with white. If however she 
represented for Spencer Coyle the genius of a military 
race, it was not that she had the step of a grenadier 
or the vocabulary of a camp-follower ; it was only 
that such sympathies were vividly implied in the 
general fact to which her very presence and each of 
her actions and glances and tones were a constant 
and direct allusion the paramount valour of her 
family. If she was military, it was because she sprang 
from a military house and because she wouldn't for 
the world have been anything but what the Wingraves 
had been. She was almost vulger about her ancestors 



270 HENRY JAMES 

and if one had been tempted to quarrel with her, one 
would have found a fair pretext in her defective sense 
of proportion. This temptation however said no- 
thing to Spencer Coyle, for whom as a strong character 
revealing itself in colour and sound she was a spec- 
tacle and who was glad to regard her as a force exerted 
on his own side. He wished her nephew had more 
of her narrowness instead of being almost cursed with 
the tendency to look at things in their relations. He 
wondered why when she came up to town she always 
resorted to Baker Street for lodgings. He had never 
known nor heard of Baker Street as a residence he 
associated it only with bazaars and photographers. 
He divined in her a rigid indifference to everything 
that was not the passion of her life. Nothing really 
mattered to her but that, and she would have occupied 
apartments in Whitechapel if they had been a feature 
in her tactics. She had received her visitor in a 
large cold, faded room, furnished with slippery seats 
and decorated with alabaster vases and wax-flowers. 
The only little personal comfort for which she appeared 
to have looked out was a fat catalogue of the Army 
and Navy Stores, which reposed on a vast, desolate 
table-cover of false blue. Her clear forehead it was 
like a porcelain slate, a receptacle for addresses and 
sums had flushed when her nephew's crammer told 
her the extraordinary news ; but he saw she was 
fortunately more angry than frightened. She had 
essentially, she would always have, too little imagina- 
tion for fear, and the healthy habit moreover of fac- 
ing everything had taught her that the occasion usually 
found her a quantity to reckon with. Mr. Coyle saw 
that her only fear at present could have been that of 
not being able to prevent her nephew from being 
absurd and that to such an apprehension as this she 
was in fact inaccessible. Practically too she was not 
troubled by surprise ; she recognized none of the 
futile, none of the subtle sentiments. If Philip had 



OWEN WINGRAVE 271 

for an hour made a fool of himself she was angry ; 
disconcerted as she would have been on learning that 
he had confessed to debts or fallen in love with a low 
girl. But there remained in any annoyance the saving 
fact that no one could make a fool of Tier. 

i I don't know when I've taken such an interest in 
a young man I think I never have, since I began 
to handle them,' Mr. Coyle said. ' I like him, I 
believe in him it's been a delight to see how he w r as 
going.' 

' Oh, I know how they go ! ' Miss Wingrave threw 
back her head with a familiar briskness, as if a rapid 
procession of the generations had flashed before her, 
rattling their scabbards and spurs. Spencer Coyle 
recognized the intimation tha.t she had nothing to 
learn from anybody about the natural carriage of a 
Wingrave, and he even felt convicted by her ne^t 
words of being, in her eyes, with the troubled story 
of his check, his weak complaint of his pupil, rather 
a poor creature. ' If you like him,' she exclaimed, 
* for mercy's sake keep him quiet ! ' 

Mr. Coyle began to explain to her that this was less 
easy than she appeared to imagine ; but he perceived 
that she understood very little of what he said. The 
more he insisted that the boy had a kind of intellectual 
independence, the more this struck her as a conclusive 
proof that her nephew was a Wingrave and a soldier. 
It was not till he mentioned to her that Owen had 
spoken of the profession of arms as of something that 
would be ' beneath ' him, it was not till her attention 
was arrested by this intenser light on the complexity 
of the problem that Miss Wingrave broke out after a 
moment's stupefied reflection : ' Send him to see me 
immediately ! ' 

* That's exactly what I wanted to ask your leave to 
do. But I wanted also to prepare you for the worst, 
to make you understand that he strikes me as really 
obstinate and to suggest to you that the most powerful 



272 HENRY JAMES 

arguments at your command especially if you should 
be able to put your hand on some intensely practical 
one will be none too effective.' 

' I think I've got a powerful argument.' Miss Win- 
grave looked very hard at her visitor. He didn't know 
in the least what it was, but he begged her to put it 
forward without delay. He promised that their young 
man should come to Baker Street that evening, men- 
tioning however that he had already urged him to 
spend without delay a couple of days at Eastbourne. 
This led Jane Wingrave to inquire with surprise what 
virtue there might be in that expensive remedy, and to 
reply with decision when Mr. Coyle had said ' The 
virtue of a little rest, a little change, a little relief to 
overwrought nerves,' ' Ah, don't coddle him he's 
costing us a great deal of money ! I'll talk to him 
and I'll take him down to Paramore ; then I'll send 
him back to you straightened out.' 

Spencer Coyle hailed this pledge superficially with 
satisfaction, but before he quitted Miss Wingrave he 
became conscious that he had really taken on a new 
anxiety a restlessness that made him say to 
himself, groaning inwardly : * Oh, she is a grenadier 
at bottom, and she'll have no tact. I don't know what 
her powerful argument is ; I'm only afraid she'll be 
stupid and make him worse. The old man's better 
he's capable of tact, though he's not quite an extinct 
volcano. Owen will probably put him in a rage. In 
short the difficulty is that the boy's the best of 
them.' 

Spencer Coyle felt afresh that evening at dinner that 
the boy was the best of them. Young Wingrave (who, 
he was pleased to observe, had not yet proceeded to the 
seaside) appeared at the repast as usual, looking in- 
evitably a little self-conscious, but not too original for 
Bayswater. He talked very naturally to Mrs. Coyle, 
who had thought him from the first the most beautiful 
young man they had ever received ; so that the person 



OWEN WINGKAVE 273 

most ill at ease was poor Lechmere, who took great 
trouble, as if from the deepest delicacy, not to meet the 
eye of his misguided mate. Spencer Coyle however 
paid the penalty of his own profundity in feeling more 
and more worried ; he could so easily see that there 
were all sorts of things in his young friend that the 
people of Paramore wouldn't understand. He began 
even already to react against the notion of his being 
harassed to reflect that after all he had a right to his 
ideas to remember that he was of a substance too fine 
to be in fairness roughly used. It was in this way that 
the ardent little crammer, with his whimsical percep- 
tions and complicated sympathies, was generally 
condemned not to settle down comfortably either into 
his displeasures or into his enthusiasms. His love of 
the real truth never gave him a chance to enjoy them. 
He mentioned to Wingrave after dinner the propriety 
of an immediate visit to Baker Street, and the young 
man, looking ' queer,' as he thought that is smiling 
again with the exaggerated glory he had shown in their 
recent interview went off to face the ordeal. Spencer 
Coyle noted that he was scared lie was afraid of his 
aunt ; but somehow this didn't strike him as a sign of 
pusillanimity. He should have been scared, he was 
well aware, in the poor boy's place, and the sight of his 
pupil marching up to the battery in spite of his terrors 
was a positive suggestion of the temperament of the 
soldier. Many a plucky youth would have shirked 
this particular peril. 

1 He has got ideas ! ' young Lechmere broke out to 
his instructor after his comrade had quitted the house. 
He was evidently bewildered and agitated he had 
an emotion to work off. He had before dinner gone 
straight at his friend, as Mr. Coyle had requested, and 
had elicited from him that his scruples were founded 
011 an overwhelming conviction of the stupidity the 
' crass barbarism' he called it of war. His great 
complaint was that people hadn't invented anything 



274 HENRY JAMES 

cleverer, and he was determined to show, the only way 
he could, that he wasn't such an ass. 

4 And he thinks all the great generals ought to have 
been shot, and that Napoleon Bonaparte in particular, 
she greatest, was a criminal, a monster for whom 
language has no adequate name ! ' Mr. Coyle rejoined, 
completing young Lechmere's picture. ' He favoured 
you, I see, with exactly the same pearls of wisdom 
that he produced for me. But I want to know what 
you said.' 

' I said they were awful rot ! ' Young Lechmere 
spoke with emphasis, and he was slightly surprised to 
hear Mr. Coyle laugh incongruously at this just declara- 
tion and then after a moment continue : 

' It's all very curious I daresay there's something 
in it. But it's a pity ! ' 

' He told me when it was that the question began to 
strike him in that light. Four or five years ago, when 
he did a lot of reading about all the great swells and 
their campaigns Hannibal and Julius Caesar, Marl- 
borough and Frederick and Bonaparte. He has done 
a lot of reading, and he says it opened his eyes. He 
says that a wave of disgust rolled over him. He 
talked about the " immeasurable misery " of wars, 
and asked me why nations don't tear to pieces the 
governments, the rulers that go in for them. He hates 
poor old Bonaparte worst of all.' 

' Well, poor old Bonaparte was a brute. He was a 
frightful ruffian, Mr. Coyle unexpectedly declared. 
' But I suppose you didn't admit that.' 

4 Oh, I daresay he was objectionable, and I'm very 
glad we laid him on his back. But the point I made 
to Wingrave was that his own behaviour would excite 
no end of remark.' Young Lechmere hesitated an 
instant, then he added : ' I told him he must be pre- 
pared for the worst.' 

' Of course he asked you what you meant by the 
"worst," ' said Spencer Coyle. 



OWEN WINGRAVE 275 

4 Yes, he asked me that, and do you know what I 
said ? I said people would say that his conscientious 
scruples and his wave of disgust are only a pretext. 
Then he asked " A pretext for what ? " 

4 Ah, he rather had you there ! ' Mr. Coyle exclaimed 
with a little laugh that was mystifying to his pupil. 

1 Not a bit for I told him.' 

4 What did you tell him ? ' 

Once more, for a few seconds, with his conscious eyes 
in his instructor's, the young man hung fire. 

* Why, what we spoke of a few hours ago. The 

appearance he'd present of not having ' The 

honest youth faltered a moment, then brought it out : 
* The military temperament, don't you know ? But 
do you know what he said to that ? ' young Lechmere 
went on. 

' Damn the military temperament ! ' the crammer 
promptly replied. 

Young Lechmere stared. Mr. Coyle's tone left him 
uncertain if he were attributing the phrase to Wingrave 
or uttering his own opinion, but he exclaimed : 

4 Those were exactly his words ! ' 

4 He doesn't care,' said Mr. Coyle. 

4 Perhaps not. But it isn't fair for him to abuse us 
fellows. I told him it's the finest temperament in the 
world, and that there's nothing so splendid as pluck 
and heroism.' 

' Ah ! there you had him.? 

4 1 told him it was unworthy of him to abuse a gallant, 
a magnificent profession. I told him there's no type 
so fine as that of the soldier doing his duty.' 

4 That's essentially your type, my dear boy.' Young 
Lechmere blushed ; he couldn't make out (and the 
danger was naturally unexpected to him) whether at 
that moment he didn't exist mainly for the recreation 
of his friend. But he was partly reassured by the genial 
way this friend continued, laying a hand on his 
shoulder : 4 Keep at him that way ! we may do some- 



276 HENRY JAMES 

thing. I'm extremely obliged to you.' Another doubt 
however remained unassuaged a doubt which led him 
to exclaim to Mr. Coyle before they dropped the pain- 
ful subject : 

' He doesn't care ! But it's awfully odd he 
shouldn't ! ' 

4 So it is, but remember >what you said this after- 
noon I mean about your not advising people to make 
insinuations to you.'' 

' I believe I should knock a fellow down ! ' said 
young Lechmere. Mr. Coyle had got up ; the conver- 
sation had taken place while they sat together after 
Mrs. Coyle' s withdrawal from the dinner- table and the 
head of the establishment administered to his disciple, 
on principles that were a part of his thoroughness, a 
glass of excellent claret. The disciple, also on his feet, 
lingered an instant, not for another ' go,' as he would 
have called it, at the decanter, but to wipe his micro- 
scopic moustache with prolonged and unusual care. 
His companion saw he had something to bring out which 
required a final effort, and waited for him an instant 
with a hand on the knob of the door. Then as young 
Lechmere approached him, Spencer Coyle grew 
conscious of an unwonted intensity in the round and 
ingenuous face* The boy was nervous, but he tried to 
behave like a man of the world. ' Of course, it's 
between ourselves,' he stammered, ' and I wouldn't 
breathe such a word to any one who wasn't interested 
in poor Wingrave as you are. But do you think he 
funks it ? ' 

Mr. Coyle looked at him so hard for an instant that 
he was visibly frightened at what he had said. 

1 Funks it ! Funks what ? ' 

' Why, what we're talking about the service.' 
Young Lechmere gave a little gulp and added with a 
naivete almost pathetic to Spencer Coyle : * The 
dangers, you know ! ' 

' Do you mean he's thinking of his skin ? ' 



OWEN WINGRAVE 277 

Young Lechmere's eyes expanded appealingly, and 
what his instructor saw in his pink face he even 
thought he saw a tear was the dread of a disappoint- 
ment shocking in the degree in which the loyalty of 
admiration had been great. 

' Is he is he afraid ? ' repeated the honest lad, with 
a quaver of suspense. 

' Dear no ! ' said Spencer Coyle, turning his back. 

Young Lechmere felt a little snubbed and even a 
little ashamed ; but he felt still more relieved. 



in 

Less than a week after this Spencer Coyle received 
a note from Miss Wingrave, who had immediately 
quitted London with her nephew. She proposed that 
he should come down to Paramore for the following 
Sunday Owen was really so tiresome. On the spot, 
in that house of examples and memories and in com- 
bination with her poor dear father, who was ' dreadfully 
annoyed,' it might be worth their while to make a last 
stand. Mr. Coyle read between the lines of this letter 
that the party at Paramore had got over a good deal of 
ground since Miss Wingrave, in Baker Street, had 
treated his despair as superficial. She was not an 
insinuating woman, but she went so far as to put the 
question on the ground of his conferring a particular 
favour on an afflicted family ; and she expressed the 
pleasure it would give them if he should be accom- 
panied by Mrs. Coyle, for whom she inclosed a separate 
invitation. She mentioned that she was also writing, 
subject to Mr. Coyle' s approval, to young Lechmere. 
She thought such a nice manly boy might do her 
wretched nephew some good. The celebrated crammer 
determined to embrace this opportunity ; and now it 
was the case not so much that he was angry as that he 
was anxious. As he directed his answer to Miss 
Wingrave' s letter he caught himself smiling at the 



278 HENRY JAMES 

thought that at bottom he was going to defend his 
young friend rather than to attack him. He said to 
his wife, who was a fair, fresh, slow woman a person 
of much more presence than himself that she had 
better take Miss Wingrave at her word : it was such an 
extraordinary, such a fascinating specimen of an old 
English home. This last allusion was amicably sar- 
castic he had already accused the good lady more 
than once of being in love with Owen Wingrave. She 
admitted that she was, she even gloried in her passion ; 
which shows that the subject, between them, was 
treated in a liberal spirit. She carried out the joke by 
accepting the invitation with eagerness. Young 
Lechmere was delighted to do the same ; his instructor 
had good-naturedly taken the view that the little break 
would freshen him up for his last spurt. 

It was the fact that the occupants of Paramore did 
indeed take their trouble hard that struck Spencer 
Coyle after he had been an hour or two in that fine 
old house. This very short second visit, beginning 
on the Saturday evening, was to constitute the strangest 
episode of his life. As soon as he found himself in 
private with his wife they had retired to dress for 
dinner they called each other's attention with effu- 
sion and almost with alarm to the sinister gloom that 
was stamped on the place. The house was admirable 
with its old grey front which came forward in wings 
so as to form three sides of a square, but Mrs. Coyle 
made no scruple to declare that if she had known in 
advance the sort of impression she was going to receive 
she would never have put her foot in it. She charac- 
terized it as ' uncanny,' she accused her husband of 
not having warned her properly. He had mentioned 
to her in advance certain facts, but while she almost 
feverishly dressed she had innumerable questions to 
ask. He hadn't told her about the girl, the extra- 
ordinary girl, Miss Julian that is, he hadn't told her 
that this young lady, who in plain terms was a mere 



OWEN WINGRAVE 279 

dependent, would be in effect, and as a consequence 
of the way 'she carried herself, the most important 
person in the house. Mrs. Coyle was already prepared 
to announce that she hated Miss Julian's affectations. 
Her husband, above all, hadn't told her that they 
should find their young charge looking five years older. 

' I couldn't imagine that,' said Mr. Coyle, ' nor 
that the character of the crisis here would be quite 
so perceptible. But I suggested to Miss Wingrave 
the other day that they should press her nephew in 
real earnest, and she has taken me at my word. 
They've cut off his supplies they're trying to starve 
him out. That's not what I meant but indeed I 
don't quite know to-day what I meant. Owen feels 
the pressure, but he won't yield.' The strange thing 
was that, now that he was there, the versatile little 
coach felt still more that his own spirit had been 
caught up by a wave of reaction. If he was there it 
was because he was on poor Owen's side. His whole 
impression, his whole apprehension, had on the spot 
become much deeper. There was something in the 
dear boy's very resistance that began to charm him. 
When his wife, in the intimacy of the conference I have 
mentioned, threw off the mask and commended even 
with extravagance the stand his pupil had taken (he 
was too good to be a horrid soldier and it was noble 
of him to suffer for his convictions wasn't he as 
upright as a young hero, even though as pale as a 
Christian martyr ?) the good lady only expressed 
the sympathy which, under cover of regarding his 
young friend as a rare exception, he had already 
recognized in his own soul. 

For, half an hour ago, after they had had super- 
ficial tea in the brown old hall of the house, his young 
friend had proposed to him, before going to dress, 
to take a turn outside, and had even, on the terrace, 
as they walked together to one of the far ends of it, 
passed his hand entreatingly into his companion's 



280 HENRY JAMES 

arm, permitting himself thus a familiarity unusual 
between pupil and master and calculated to show 
that he had guessed whom he could most depend on 
to be kind to him. Spencer Coyle, on his own side, 
had guessed something, so that he was not surprised 
at the boy's having a particular confidence to make. 
He had felt on arriving that each member of the party 
had wished to get hold of him first, and he knew that 
at that moment Jane Wingrave was peering through 
the ancient blur of one of the windows (the house 
had been modernized so little that the thick dim 
panes were three centuries old) to see if her nephew 
looked as if he were poisoning the visitor's mind. 
Mr. Coyle lost no time therefore in reminding the 
youth (and he took care to laugh as he did so) that 
he had not come down to Paramore to be corrupted". 
He had come down to make, face to face, a last appeal 
to him he hoped it wouldn't be utterly vain. Owen 
smiled sadly as they went, asking him if he thought 
he had the general air of a fellow who was going to 
knock under. 

' I think you look strange I think you look ill,' 
Spencer Coyle said very honestly. They had paused 
at the end of the terrace. 

' I've had to exercise a great power of resistance, 
and it rather takes it out of one.' 

' Ah, my dear boy, I wish your great power for 
you evidently possess it were exerted in a better 
cause ! ' 

Owen Wingrave smiled down at his small instructor. 
' I don't believe that ! ' Then he added, to explain 
why : ' Isn't what you want, if you're so good as to 
think well of my character, to see me exert most 
power, in whatever direction ? Well, this is the way 
I exert most.' Owen Wingrave went on to relate 
that he had had some terrible hours with his grand- 
father, who had denounced him in a way to make one's 
hair stand up on one's head. He had expected them 



OWEN WINGRAVE 281 

not to like it, not a bit, but he had had no idea they 
would make such a row. His aunt was different, but 
she was equally insulting. Oh, they had made him 
feel they were ashamed of him ; they accused him of 
putting a public dishonour on their name. He was 
the only one who had ever backed out he was the 
first for three hundred years. Every one had known 
he was to go up, and now every one would know he 
was a young hypocrite who suddenly pretended to 
have scruples. They talked of his scruples as you 
wouldn't talk of a cannibal's god. His grandfather 
had called him outrageous names. ' He called me 

he called me ' Here the young man faltered, his 

voice failed him. He looked as haggard as was pos- 
sible to a young man in such magnificent health. 

1 1 probably know ! ' said Spencer Coyle, with a 
nervous laugh. 

Owen Wingrave's clouded eyes, as if they were 
following the far-off consequences of things, rested 
for an instant on a distant object. Then they met 
his companion's and for another moment sounded 
them deeply. ' It isn't true. No, it isn't. It's not 
that ! ' 

' I don't suppose it is ! But what do you propose 
instead of it ? ' 

' Instead of what ? ' 

' Instead of the stupid solution of war. If you 
take that away you should suggest at least a substi- 
tute.' 

' That's for the people in charge, for governments 
and cabinets,' said Owen Wingrave. ' They'll arrive 
soon enough at a substitute, in the particular case, if 
they're made to understand that they'll be hung if 
they don't find* one. Make it a capital crime that'll 
quicken the wits of ministers ! ' His eyes brightened 
as he spoke, and he looked assured and exalted. Mr. 
Coyle gave a sigh of perplexed resignation it was 
a monomania. He fancied after; this for a moment 



282 HENRY JAMES 

that Owen was going to ask him if he too thought 
he was a coward ; but he was relieved to observe 
that he either didn't suspect him of it or shrank 
uncomfortably from putting the question to the test. 
Spencer Coyle wished to show confidence, but s6me- 
how a direct assurance that he didn't doubt of his 
courage appeared too gross a compliment it would 
be like saying he didn't doubt of his honesty. The 
difficulty was presently averted by Owen's continu- 
ing : ' My grandfather can't break the entail, but I 
shall have nothing but this place, which, as you know, 
is small and, with the way rents are going, has quite 
ceased to yield an income. He has some money 
not much, but such as it is he cuts me off. My aunt 
does the same she has let me know her intentions. 
She was to have left me her six hundred a year. It 
was all settled ; but now what's settled is that I 
don't get a penny of it if I give up the army. I must 
add in fairness that I have from my mother three 
hundred a year of my own. And I tell you the simple 
truth when I say that I don't care a rap for the loss 
of the money.' The young man drew a long, slow 
breath, like a creature in pain ; then he subjoined : 
' That's not what worries me ! ' 

' What are you going to do ? ' asked Spencer Coyle. 

' I don't know ; perhaps nothing. Nothing great, 
at all events. Only something peaceful ! ' 

Owen gave a weary smile, as if, worried as he was, 
he could yet appreciate the humorous effect of such 
a declaration from a Wingrave ; but what it sug- 
gested to his companion, who looked up at him with 
a sense that he was after all not a Wingrave for nothing 
and had a military steadiness under fire, was the 
exasperation that such a programme, uttered in such 
a way and striking them as the last word of the in- 
glorious, might well have engendered on the part of 
his grandfather and his aunt. ' Perhaps nothing ' 
when he might cawy on the great tradition ! Yes, 



OWEN WINGRAVE 283 

he wasn't weak, and he was interesting ; but there was 
a point of view from which he was provoking. 4 What 
is it then that worries you ? ' Mr. Coyle demanded. 

' Oh, the house the very air and feeling of it. 
There are strange voices in it that seem to mutter 
at me to say dreadful things as I pass. I mean 
the general consciousness and responsibility of what 
I'm doing. Of course it hasn't been easy for me 
not a bit. I assure you I don't enjoy it.' With a 
light in them that was like a longing for justice Owen 
again bent his eyes on those of the little coach ; then 
he pursued : 'I've started up all the old ghosts. 
The very portraits glower at me on the walls. There's 
one of my great- great-grandfather (the one the extra- 
ordinary story you know is about the old fellow 
who hangs on the second landing of the big staircase) 
that fairly stirs on the canvas just heaves a little 
when I come near it. I have to go up and down 
stairs it's rather awkward ! It's what my aunt calls 
the family circle. It's all constituted here, it's a kind 
of indestructible presence, it stretches away into the 
past, and when I came back with her the other day 
Miss Wingrave told me I wouldn't have the impudence 
to stand in the midst of it and say such things. I 
had to say them to my grandfather ; but now that 
I've said them it seems to me that the question's 
ended. I want to go away I don't care if I never 
come back again.' 

' Oh, you are a soldier ; you must fight it out ! ' 
Mr. Coyle laughed. 

The young man seemed discouraged at his levity, 
but as they turned round, strolling back in the direc- 
tion from which they had come, he himself smiled 
faintly after an instant and replied : 

4 Ah, we're tainted all ! ' 

They walked in silence part of the way to the old 
portico ; then Spencer Coyle, stopping short after 
having assured himself that he was at a sufficient 



284 HENRY JAMES 

distance from the house not to be heard, suddenly 
put the question : ' What does Miss Julian say ? ' 

' Miss Julian ? ' Owen had perceptibly coloured. 

' I'm sure she hasn't concealed her opinion.' 

* Oh, it's the opinion of the family-circle, for she's 
a member of it, of course. And then she has her own 
as well.' 

4 Her own opinion ? ' 

' Her own family-circle.' 

' Do you mean her mother that patient lady ? ' 

' I mean more particularly her father, who fell in 
battle. And her grandfather, and his father, and her 
uncles and great-uncles they all fell in battle.' 

' Hasn't the sacrifice of so many lives been suffi- 
cient ? Why should she sacrifice you ? ' 

' Oh, she hates me ! ' Owen declared, as they re- 
sumed their walk. 

4 Ah, the hatred of pretty girls for fine young men ! ' 
exclaimed Spencer Coyle. 

He didn't believe in it, but his wife did, it appeared, 
perfectly, when he mentioned this conversation while, 
in the fashion that has been described, the visitors 
dressed for dinner. Mrs. Coyle had already dis- 
covered that nothing could have been nastier than 
Miss Julian's manner to the disgraced youth during 
the half-hour the party had spent in the hall ; and 
it was this lady's judgement that one must have had 
no eyes in one's head not to see that she was already 
trying outrageously to flirt with young Lechmere. 
It was a pity they had brought that silly boy : he 
was down in the hall with her at that moment. Spencer 
Coyle' s version was different ; he thought there were 
finer elements involved. The girl's footing in the 
house was inexplicable on any ground save that of 
her being predestined to Miss Wingrave's nephew. 
As the niece of Miss Wingrave's own unhappy in- 
tended she had been dedicated early by this lady to 
the office of healing by a union with Owen the tragic 



OWEN WINGRAVE 285 

breach that had separated their elders ; and if in 
reply to this it was to be said that a girl of spirit 
couldn't enjoy in such a matter having her duty cut 
out for her, Owen's enlightened friend was ready 
with the argument that a young person in Miss Julian's 
position would never be such a fool as really to quarrel 
with a capital chance. She was familiar at Para- 
more and she felt safe ; therefore she might trust 
herself to the amusement of pretending that she had 
her option. But it was all innocent coquetry. She 
had a curious charm, and it was vain to pretend that 
the heir of that house wouldn't seem good enough to 
a girl, clever as she might be, of eighteen. Mrs. Coyle 
reminded her husband that the poor young man 
was precisely now not of that house: this problem 
was among the questions that exercised their wits 
after the two men had taken the turn on the terrace. 
Spencer Coyle told his wife that Owen was afraid of 
the portrait of his great-great-grandfather. He would 
show it to her, since she hadn't noticed it, on their 
way downstairs. 

4 Why of his great-great-grandfather more than of 
any of the others ? * 

* Oh, because he's the most formidable. He's the 
one who's sometimes seen.' 

4 Seen where ? ' Mrs. Coyle had turned round with 
a jerk. 

4 In the room he was found dead hi the White 
Room they've always called it.' 

1 Do you mean to say the house has a ghost ? ' Mrs. 
Coyle almost shrieked. ' You brought me here with- 
out telling me ? ' 

4 Didn't I mention it after my other visit ? 7 

4 Not a word. You only talked about Miss Win- 
grave.' 

4 Oh, I was full of the story you have simply 
forgotten.' 

4 Then you should have reminded me ! * 



286 HENRY JAMES 

' If I had thought of it I would have held my peace, 
for you wouldn't have come.' 

* I wish, indeed, I hadn't ! * cried Mrs. Coyle. 
*'What is the story ? ' 

' Oh, a deed of violence that took place here ages 
ago. I think it was in George the First's time. 
Colonel Wingrave, one of their ancestors, struck in 
a fit of passion one of his children, a lad just growing 
up, a blow on the head of which the unhappy child 
died. The matter was hushed up for the hour some 
other explanation was put about. The poor boy was 
laid out in one of those rooms on the other side of the 
house, and amid strange smothered rumours the 
funeral was hurried on. The next morning, when the 
household assembled, Colonel Wingrave was missing ; 
he was looked for vainly, and at last it occurred to 
some one that he might perhaps be in the room from 
which his child had been carried to burial. The 
seeker knocked without an answer then opened the 
door. Colonel Wingrave lay dead on the floor, in his 
clothes, as if he had reeled and fallen back, without 
a wound, without a mark, without anything in his 
appearance to indicate that he had either struggled 
or suffered. He was a strong, sound man there was 
nothing to account for such a catastrophe. He is 
supposed to have gone to the room during the night, 
just before going to bed, in some fit of compunction 
or some- fascination of dread. It was only after this 
that the truth about the boy came out. But no one 
ever sleeps in the room.' 

Mrs. Coyle had fairly turned pale. ' I hope not ! 
Thank heaven they haven't put its there ! ' 

' We're at a comfortable distance; but I've seen 
the gruesome chamber.' 

' Do you mean you've been in it ? ' 

' For a few moments. They're rather proud of it 
and my young friend showed it to me when I was 
here before.' 



OWEN WINGRAVE 287 

Mrs. Coyle stared. ' And what is it like ? ' 

' Simply like an empty, dull, old-fashioned bed- 
room, rather big, with the things of the " period " 
in it. It's panelled from floor to ceiling, and the 
panels evidently, years and years ago, were painted 
white. But the paint has darkened with time and 
there are three or four quaint little ancient " samplers," 
framed and glazed, hung on the walls.' 

Mrs. Coyle looked round with a shudder. ' I'm 
glad there are no samplers here ! I never heard 
anything so jumpy ! Come down to dinner.' 

On the staircase as they went down her husband 
showed her the portrait of Colonel Wingrave rather 
a vigorous representation, for the place and period, 
of a gentleman with a hard, handsome face, in a red 
coat and a peruke. Mrs. Coyle declared that his 
descendant Sir Philip was wonderfully like him ; and 
her husband could fancy, though he kept it to him- 
self, that if one should have the courage to walk about 
the old corridors of Paramore at night one might 
meet a figure that resembled him roaming, with the 
restlessness of a ghost, hand in hand with the figure 
of a tall boy. As he proceeded to the drawing-room 
with his wife he found himself suddenly wishing that 
he had made more of a point of his pupil's going to 
Eastbourne. The evening however seemed to have 
taken upon itself to dissipate any such whimsical 
forebodings, for the grimness of the family-circle, as 
Spencer Coyle had preconceived its composition, was 
mitigated by an infusion of the ' neighbourhood.' 
The company at dinner was recruited by two cheer- 
ful couples one of them the vicar and his wife 
and by a silent young man who had come down to 
fish. This was a relief to Mr. Coyle, who had begun 
to wonder what was after all expected of him and 
why he had been such a fool as to come, and who 
now felt that for the first hours at least the situation 
would not have directly to be dealt with. Indeed he 



288 HENRY JAMES 

found, as he had found before, sufficient occupation 
for his ingenuity in reading the various symptoms 
of which the picture before him was an expression. 
He should probably have an irritating day on the 
morrow : he foresaw the difficulty of the long decorous 
Sunday and how dry Jane Wingrave's ideas, elicited 
in a strenuous conference, would taste. She and her 
father would, make him feel that they depended upon 
him for the impossible, and if they should try to 
associate him with a merely stupid policy he might 
end by telling them what he thought of it an acci- 
dent not required to make his visit a sensible mistake. 
The old man's actual design was evidently to let their 
friends see in it a positive mark of their being all 
right. The presence of the great London coach was 
tantamount to a profession of faith in the results of 
the impending examination. It had clearly been 
obtained from Owen, rather to Spencer Coyle's sur- 
prise, that he would do nothing to interfere with 
the apparent harmony. He let the allusions to his 
hard work pass, and, holding his tongue about his 
affairs, talked to the ladies as amicably as if he had 
not been ' cut off.' When Spencer Coyle looked at 
him once or twice across the table, catching his eye, 
which showed an indefinable passion, he saw a puzzling 
pathos in his laughing face : one couldn't resist a 
pang for a young lamb so visibly marked for sacri- 
fice. ' Hang him what a pity he's such a fighter ! ' 
he privately sighed, with a want of logic that was only 
superficial. 

This idea however would have absorbed him more 
if so much of his attention had not been given to 
Kate Julian, who, now that he had her well before him, 
struck him as a remarkable and even as a possibly 
fascinating young woman. The fascination resided 
not in any extraordinary prettiness, for if she was 
handsome, with her long Eastern eyes, her magnifi- 
cent hair and her general unabashed originality, he 



OWEN WINGRAVE 289 

had seen complexions rosier and features that pleased 
him more : it resided in a strange impression that 
she gave of being exactly the sort of person whom, 
in her position, common considerations, those of 
prudence and perhaps even a little those of decorum, 
would have enjoined on her not to be. She was what 
was vulgarly termed a dependent penniless, patro- 
nized, tolerated ; but something in her aspect and 
manner signified that if her situation was inferior, 
her spirit, to make up for it, was above precautions or 
submissions. It was not in the least that she was 
aggressive, she was too indifferent for that ; it was 
only as if, having nothing either to gain or to lose, 
she could afford to do as she liked. It occurred to 
Spencer Coyle that she might really have had more at 
stake than her imagination appeared to take account 
of ; whatever it was at any rate he had never seen 
a young woman at less pains to be on the safe side. 
He wondered inevitably how the peace was ept 
between Jane Wingrave and such an inmate as this ; 
but those questions of course were unfathomable 
deeps. Perhaps Kate Julian lorded it even over her 
protectress. The other time he was at Paramore he 
had received an impression that, with Sir Philip 
beside her, the girl could fight with her back to the 
wall. She amused Sir Philip, she charmed him, and 
he liked people who weren't afraid ; between him 
and his daughter moreover there was no doubt which 
was the higher in command. Miss Wingrave took 
many things for granted, and most of all the rigour of 
discipline and the fate of the vanquished and the 
captive. 

But between their clever boy and so original a 
companion of his childhood what odd relation would 
have grown up ? It couldn't be indifference, and 
yet on the part of happy, handsome, youthful crea- 
tures it was still less likely to be aversion. They 
weren't Paul and . Virginia, but they must have had 

228 L 



290 HENRY JAMES 

their common summer and their idyll: no nice girl 
could have disliked such a nice fellow for anything 
btft not liking her, and no nice fellow could have 
resisted such propinquity. Mr. Coyle remembered 
indeed that Mrs. Julian had spoken to him as if the 
propinquity had been by no means constant, owing 
to her daughter's absences at school, to say nothing 
of Owen's ; her visits to a few friends who were so 
kind as to ' take her ' from time to time ; her sojourns 
in London so difficult to manage, but still managed 
by God's help for ' advantages,' for drawing and 
singing, especially drawing or rather painting, in oils, 
in which she had had immense success. But the 
good lady had also mentioned that the young people 
were quite brother and sister, which was a little, after 
all, like Paul and Virginia. Mrs. Coyle had been 
right, and it was apparent that Virginia was doing 
her best to make the time pass agreeably for young 
Lecnmere. There was no such whirl of conversation 
as to render it an effort for Mr. Coyle to reflect on 
these things, for the tone of the occasion, thanks 
principally to the other guests, was not disposed to 
stray it tended to the repetition of anecdote and 
the discussion of rents, topics that huddled together 
like uneasy animals. He could judge how intensely 
his hosts wished the evening to pass off as if nothing 
had happened ; and this gave him the measure of 
their private resentment. Before dinner was over he 
found himself fidgety about his second pupil. Young 
Lechmere, since he began to cram, had done all that 
might have been expected of him ; but this couldn't 
blind his instructor to a present perception of his 
being in moments of relaxation as innocent as a babe. 
Mr. Coyle had considered that the amusements of 
Paramore would probably give him a fillip, and the 
poor fellow's manner testified to the soundness of the 
forecast. The fillip had been unmistakably adminis- 
tered ; it had come in the form of a revelation. The 



OWEN WINGRAVE 291 

light on young Lechmere's brow announced with a 
candour that was almost an appeal for compassion, or 
at least a deprecation of ridicule, that he had never 
seen anything like Miss Julian. 



In the drawing-room after dinner the girl found 
an occasion to approach Spencer Coyle. She stood 
before him a moment, smiling while she opened and 
shut her fan, and then she said abruptly, raising her 
strange eyes : * I know what you've come for, but it 
isn't any use.' 

' I've come to look after, you a little. Isn't that 
any use ? ' 

' It's very kind. But I'm not the question of the 
hour. You won't do anything with Owen.' 

Spencer Coyle hesitated a moment. ' What will 
you do with his young friend ? ' 

She stared, looked round her. 

' Mr. Lechmere ? Oh, poor little lad ! We've been 
talking about Owen. He admires him so.' 

' So do I. I should tell you that.' , 

1 So do we all. That's why we're in such despair.' 

' Personally then you'd like him to be a soldier ? ' 
Spencer Coyle inquired. 

4 I've quite set my heart on it. I adore the army 
and I'm awfully fond of my old playmate,' said Miss 
Julian. 

Her interlocutor remembered the young man's own 
different version of her attitude ; but he judged it loyal 
not to challenge the girl. 

4 It's not conceivable that your own playmate 
shouldn't be fond of you. He must therefore wish to 
please you ; and I don't see why between you you 
don't set the matter right.' 

' Wish to please me ! ' Miss Julian exclaimed. 
' I'm sorry to say he shows no such desire. He thinks 



292 HENRY JAMES 

me an impudent wretch. I've told him what I think 
of him, and he simply hates me.' 

' But you think so highly ! You just told me you 
admire him.' 

' ' His talents, his possibilities, yes ; even his appear- 
ance, if I may allude to such a matter. But I don't 
admire his present behaviour.' 

4 Have you had the question out with him ? ' 
Spencer Coyle asked. 

' Oh, yes, I've ventured to be frank the occasion 
seemed to excuse it. He couldn't like what I said.' 

' What did you say ? ' 

Miss Julian, thinking a moment, opened and shut 
her fan again. 

' Why, that such conduct isn't that of a gentleman ! ' 

Alter she had spoken her eyes met Spencer Coyle's, 
who looked into their charming depths. 

4 Do you want then so much to send him off to be 
killed ? ' 

' How odd for you to ask that in such a way ! ' she 
replied with a laugh. ' I don't understand your 
position : I thought your line was to make soldiers ! ' 

' You should take my little joke. But, as regards 
Owen Wmgrave, there's no " making " needed,' Mr. 
Coyle added. * To my sense ' the little crammer 
paused a moment, as if with a consciousness of respon- 
sibility for his paradox ' to my sense he is, 'in a high 
sense of the term, a fighting man.' 

* Ah, let him prove it ! ' the girl exclaimed, turning 
away. 

Spencer Coyle let her go ; there was something in 
her tone that annoyed and even a little shocked him. 
There had evidently been a violent passage between 
these young people, and the reflection that such a 
matter was after all none of his business only made 
him more sore. It was indeed a military house, and 
she was at any rate a person w r ho placed her ideal of 
manhood (young persons doubtless always had their 



OWEN WINGRAVE 293 

ideals of manhood) in the type of the belted warrior. 
It was a taste like another ; but, even a quarter of an 
hour later, finding himself near young Lechmere, in 
whom this type was embodied, Spencer Coyle was still 
so ruffled that he addressed the innocent lad with a 
certain magisterial dryness. ' You're not to sit up 
late, you know. That's not what I brought you down 
for.' The dinner-guests were taking leave and the bed- 
room candles twinkled in a monitory row. Young 
Lechmere however was too agreeably agitated to be 
accessible to a snub : he had a happy preoccupation 
which almost engendered a grin. 

' I'm only too eager for bedtime. Do you know 
there's an awfully jolly room ? ' 

' Surely they haven't put you there ? ' 

* No indeed : no one has passed a night in it for ages. 
But that's exactly what I want to do it would be 
tremendous fun.' 

4 And have you been trying to get Miss Julian's 
permission ? ' 

1 Oh, she can't give leave, she says. But she believes 
in it, and she maintains that no man dare.' 

' No man shall / A man in your critical position 
in particular must have a quiet night,' said Spencer 
Coyle. 

Young Lechmere gave a disappointed but reasonable 
sigh. 

* Oh, all right. But mayn't I sit up for a little go 
at Wingrave ? I haven't had any yet.' 

Mr. Coyle looked at his watch. 

' You may smoke one cigarette.' 

He felt a hand on his shoulder, and he turned round 
to see his wife tilting candle-grease upon his coat. 
The ladies were going to bed and it was Sir Philip's 
inveterate hour ; but Mrs. Coyle confided to her hus- 
band that after the dreadful things he had told her 
she positively declined to be left alone, for no matter 
how short an interval, in any part of the house. He 



294 HENRY JAMES 

promised to follow her in three minutes, and after the 
orthodox handshakes the ladies rustled away. The 
forms were kept up at Paramore as bravely as if the old 
house had no present heartache. The only one of which 
Spencer Coyle noticed the omission was some salutation 
to himself from Kate Julian. She gave him neither a 
word nor a glance, but he saw her look hard at Owen 
Wingrave. Her mother, timid and pitying, was appar- 
ently the only person from whom this young man 
caught an inclination of the head. Miss Wingrave 
marshalled the three ladies her little procession of 
twinkling tapers up the wide oaken stairs and past 
the watching portrait of her ill-fated ancestor. Sir 
Philip's servant appeared and offered his arm to the 
old man, who turned a perpendicular back on poor 
Owen when the boy made a vague movement to antici- 
pate this office. Spencer Coyle learned afterwards 
that before Owen had forfeited favour it had always, 
when he was at home, been his privilege at bedtime to 
conduct his grandfather ceremoniously to rest. Sir 
Philip's habits were contemptuously different now. 
His apartments were on the lower floor, and he shuffled 
stiffly off to them with his valet's help, after fixing 
for a moment significantly on the most responsible 
of his visitors the thick red ray, like the glow of stirred 
embers, that always made his eyes conflict oddly with 
his mild manners. They seemed to say to Spencer 
Coyle, * We'll let the young scoundrel have it to- 
morrow ! ' One might have gathered from them that 
the young scoundrel, who had now strode to the other 
end of the hall, had at least forged a cheque. Mr. Coyle 
watched him an instant, saw him drop nervously into 
a chair and then with a restless movement get up. The 
same movement brought him back to where his late 
instructor stood addressing a last injunction to young 
Lechmere. 

* I'm going to bed and I should like you particularly 
to conform to what I said to you a short time ago. 



OWEN WINGRAVE 295 

Smoke a single cigarette with your friend here and then 
go to your room. You'll have me down on you if I 
hear of your having, during the night, tried any prepos- 
terous games.' Young Lechmere, looking down with 
his hands in his pockets, said nothing he only poked 
at the corner of a rug with his toe ; so that Spencer 
Coyle, dissatisfied with so tacit a pledge, presently 
went on, to Owen : ' I must request you, Wingrave, not 
to keep this sensitive subject sitting up and indeed to 
put him to bed and turn his key in the door.' As Owen 
stared an instant, apparently not understanding the 
motive of so much solicitude, he added : ' Lechmere 
has a morbid curiosity about one of your legends of 
your historic rooms. Nip it in the bud.' 

4 Oh, the legend's rather good, but I'm afraid the 
room's an awful sell ! ' Owen laughed. 

' You know you don't believe that, my boy ! ' young 
Lechmere exclaimed. 

' I don't think he does,' said Mr. Coyle, noticing 
Owen's mottled flush. 

4 He wouldn't try a night there himself ! ' young 
Lechmere pursued. 

* I know who told you that,' rejoined Owen, lighting 
a cigarette in an embarrassed way at the candle, with- 
out offering one to either of his companions. 

1 Well, what if she did ? ' asked the younger of these 
gentlemen, rather red. ' Do you want them all your- 
self ? ' he continued facetiously, fumbling in the cigar- 
ette box. 

Owen Wingrave only smoked quietly ; then he 
exclaimed : 

' Yes what if she did ? But she doesn't know,' 
he added. 

' She doesn't know what ? ' 

' She doesn't know anything ! I'll tuck him in ! ' 
Owen went on gaily to Mr. Coyle, who saw that his 
presence, now that a certain note had been struck, 
made the young men uncomfortable. He was 



296 HENRY JAMES 

curious, but there was a kind of discretion, with his 
pupils, that he had always pretended to practise ; 
a discretion that however didn't prevent him as he 
took his way upstairs from recommending them not 
to be donkeys. 

At the top of the staircase, to his surprise, he met 
Miss Julian, who was apparently going down again. 
She had not begun to undress, nor was she perceptibly 
disconcerted at seeing him. She nevertheless in a 
manner slightly at variance with the rigour with which 
she had overlooked him ten minutes before, dropped 
the words : 'I'm going down to look for something. 
I've lost a jewel.' 

* A jewel ? ' 

* A rather good turquoise j out of my locket. As it's 

the only ornament I have the honour to possess ! ' 

And she passed down. 

' Shall I go with you and help you ? ' asked Spencer 
Coyle. 

The girl paused a few steps below him, looking back 
with her Oriental eyes. 

* Don't I hear voices hi the hall ? ' 

' Those remarkable young men are there.' 

* They'll help me.' And Kate Julian descended. 

Spencer Coyle was tempted to follow her, but remem- 
bering his standard of tact he rejoined his wife in their 
apartment. He delayed however to go to bed, and 
though he went into his dressing-room, he couldn't 
bring himself even to take off his coat. He pretended 
for half an hour to read a novel ; after which, quietly, 
or perhaps I should say agitatedly, he passed from the 
dressing-room into the corridor.' He followed this 
passage to the door of the room which he knew to have 
been assigned to young Lechmere and was comforted 
td see that it was closed. Half an hour earlier "he had 
seen it standing open ; therefore he could take for 
granted that the bewildered boy had come to bed. It 
was of this he had wished to assure himself, and having 



OWEN WINGRAVE 297 

done so he was on the point of retreating. But at the 
same instant he heard a sound in the room the occu- 
pant was doing, at the window, something which 
showed him that he might knock without the reproach 
of waking his pupil up. Young Lechmere came in 
fact to the door in his shirt and trousers. He admitted 
his visitor in some surprise, and when the door was 
closed again Spencer Coyle said : 

* I don't want to make your life a burden to you, but 
I had it on my conscience to see for myself that you're 
not exposed to undue excitement.' 

' Oh, there's plenty of that ! ' said the ingenuous 
youth. ' Miss Julian came down again.' 
' To look for a turquoise ? ' 

* So she said.' 

' Did she find it ? ' 

' I don't know. I came up. I left her with poor 
Wingrave.' 

' Quite the right thing,' said Spencer Coyle. 

' 1 don't know,' young Lechmere repeated uneasily. 
* I left them quarrelling.' 

' What about ? ' 

4 1 don't understand. They're a quaint pair ! ' 

Spencer Coyle hesitated. He had, fundamentally, 
principles and scruples, but what he had in particular 
just now was a curiosity, or rather, to recognize it 
for what it was, a sympathy, which brushed them 
away. 

' Does it strike you that she's down on him ? ' he" 
permitted himself to inquire. 

' Rather ! when she tells him he lies ! ' 

' What do you mean ? ' 

4 Why, before me. It made me leave them ; it was 
getting too hot. I stupidly brought up the question 
of the haunted room again, and said how sorry I was 
that I had had to promise you not to try my luck with 
it.' 

* You can't pry about in that gross way in other 

L* 



298 HENRY JAMES 

people's houses you can't take such liberties, you 
know ! ' Mr Coyle interjected. 

* I'm all right see how good I am. I don't want 
to go near the place ! ' said young Lechmere, con- 
fidingly. * Miss Julian said to me "Oh, I daresay 
you'd risk it, but"- and she turned and laughed at 
poor Owen -"that's more than we can expect of a 
gentleman who has taken his extraordinary line." I 
could see that something had already passed between 
them on the subject some teasing or challenging of 
hers. It may have been only chaff, but his chucking 
the profession had evidently brought up the question 
of his pluck.' 

' And what did Owen say ? ' 

4 Nothing at first ; but presently he brought out 
very quietly : " I spent all last night in the confounded 
place." We both stared and cried out at this and I 
asked him what he had seen there. He said he had 
seen nothing, and Miss Julian replied that he ought to 
tell his story better than that he ought to make some- 
thing good of it. " It's not a story it's a simple fact," 
said he ; on which she jeered at him and wanted to 
know why, if he had done it, he hadn't told her in the 
morning, since he knew what she thought of him. 
*' I know, but I don't care," said Wingrave. This 
made her angry, and she asked him quite seriously 
whether he would care if he should know she believed 
him to be trying to deceive us.' 

* Ah, what a brute ! ' cried Spencer Coyle. 

* She's a most extraordinary girl I don't know 
what she's up to.' 

' Extraordinary indeed to be romping and bandying 
words at that hour of the night with fast young men ! ' 

Young Lechmere reflected a moment. ' I mean 
because I think she likes him.' 

Spencer Coyle was so struck with this unwonted 
symptom of subtlety that he flashed out : ' And do 
you think he likes her ? ' 



OWEN WINGRAVE 299 

But his interlocutor only replied with a puzzled 
sigh and a plaintive ' I don't know I give it up ! 
I'm sure he did see something or hear something,' 
young Lechmere added. 

' In that ridiculous place ? What makes you 
sure ? ' 

' I don't know he looks as if he had. He behaves 
as if he had.' 

' Why then shouldn't he mention it ? ' 

Young Lechmere thought a moment. * Perhaps 
it's too gruesome ! ' 

Spencer Coyle gave a laugh. ' Aren't you glad 
then you're not in it ? ' 

' Uncommonly ! ' 

* Go to bed, you goose,' said Spencer Coyle, with 
another laugh. ' But before you go tell me what 
he said when she told him he was trying to deceive 
you.' 

' " Take me there yourself, then, and lock me in ! " 

' And did she take him ? ' 

4 1 don't know I came up.' 

Spencer Coyle exchanged a long look with his 
pupil. 

' I don't think they're in the hall now. Where's 
Owen's own room ? ' 

* I haven't the least idea.' 

Mr. Coyle was perplexed ; he was in equal ignor- 
ance, and he couldn't go about trying doors. He 
bade young Lechmere sink to slumber, and came 
out into the passage. He asked himself if he should 
be able to find his way to the room Owen had for- 
merly shown him, remembering that in common with 
many of the others it had its ancient name painted 
upon it. But the corridors of Paramore were intri- 
cate ; moreover some of the servants would still be 
up, and he didn't wish to have the appearance of 
roaming over the house. He went back to his own 
quarters, where Mrs. Coyle soon perceived that his 



$00 HENRY JAMES 

inability to rest had not subsided. As she confessed 
for her own part, in the dreadful place, to an increased 
sense of * creepiness,' they spent the early part of the 
night in conversation, so that a portion of their vigil 
was inevitably beguiled by her husband's account of 
his colloquy with little Lechmere and by their ex- 
change of opinions upon it. Toward two o'clock Mrs. 
Coyle became so nervous about their persecuted 
young friend, and so possessed by the fear that that 
wicked girl had availed herself of his invitation to 
put him to an abominable test, that she begged her 
husband to go and look into the matter at whatever 
cost to his own equilibrium. But Spencer Coyle, 
perversely, had ended, as the perfect stillness of the 
night settled upon them, by charming himself into a 
tremulous acquiescence in Owen's readiness to face 
a formidable ordeal an ordeal the more formidable 
to an excited imagination as the poor boy now knew 
from the experience .of the previous night how reso- 
lute an effort he should have to make. ' I hope he is 
there,' he said to his wife : ' it puts them all so in 
the wrong ! ' At any rate he couldn't take upon 
himself to explore a house he knew so little. He 
was inconsequent he didn't prepare for bed. He 
sat in the dressing-room with his light and his novel, 
waiting to find himself nodding. At last however 
Mrs. Coyle turned over and ceased to talk, and at 
last he too fell asleep in his chair. How long he 
slept he only knew afterwards by computation ; what 
he knew to begin with was that he had started up, in 
confusion, with the sense of a sudden appalling sound. 
His sense cleared itself quickly, helped doubtless by a 
confirmatory cry of horror from his wife's room. 
But he gave no heed to his wife ; he had already 
bounded into the passage. There the sound was 
repeated it was the ' Help ! help ! ' of a woman in 
agonized terror. It came from a distant quarter of 
the house, but the quarter was sufficiently indicated. 



OWEN WINGRAVE 301 

Spencer Coyle rushed straight before him, with the 
sound of opening doors and alarmed voices in his 
ears and the faintness of the early dawn in his eyes. 
At a turn of one of the passages he came upon the 
white figure of a girl in a swoon on a bench, and in 
the vividness of the revelation he read as he went 
that Kate Julian, stricken in her pride too late with 
a chill of compunction for what she had mockingly 
done, had, after coming to release the victim of her 
derision, reeled away, overwhelmed, from the catas- 
trophe that was her work the catastrophe that the 
next moment he found himself aghast at on the 
threshold of an open door. Owen Wingrave, dressed 
as he had last seen him, lay dead on the spot on which 
his ancestor had been found. He looked like a young 
soldier on a battle-field. 



FOUR MEETINGS 

I SAW her only four times, but I remember them 
vividly ; she made an impression upon me. I thought 
her very pretty and very interesting a charming 
specimen of a type. I am very sorry to hear of her 
death ; and yet, when I think of it, why should I be 
sorry ? The last time I saw her she was certainly 
not But I will describe all our meetings in order. 



The first one took place in the country, at a little 
tea-party, one snowy night. It must have been some 
seventeen years ago. My friend Latouche, going to 
spend Christmas with his mother, had persuaded me 
to go with him, and the good lady had given in our 
honour the entertainment of which I speak. To me 
it was really entertaining ; I had never been in the 
depths of New England at that season. It had been 
snowing all day and the drifts were knee-high. I 



302 HENRY JAMES 

wondered how the ladies had made their way to the 
house ; but I perceived that at Grim winter a con- 
versazione offering the attraction of two gentlemen 
from New. York was felt to be worth an effort. 

Mrs. Latouche in the course of the evening asked 
me if I ' didn't want to ' show the photographs to 
some of the young ladies. The photographs were in 
a couple of great portfolios, and had been brought 
home by her son, who, like myself, was lately returned 
from Europe. I looked round and was struck with 
the fact that most of the young ladies were provided 
with an object of interest more absorbing than the 
most vivid sun -picture. But there was a person 
standing alone near the mantel-shelf, and looking 
round the room with a small, gentle smile which 
seemed at odds, somehow, with her isolation. I 
looked at her a moment, and then said, ' I should like 
to show them to that young lady.' 

' Oh yes,' said Mrs. Latouche, ' she is just the per- 
son. She doesn't care for flirting ; I will speak to her.' 

I rejoined that if she did not care for flirting, she 
was, perhaps, not just the person ; but Mrs. Latouche 
had already gone to propose the photographs to her. 

' She's delighted,' she said, coming back. ' She is 
just the person, so quiet and so bright.' And then 
she told me the young lady was, by name, Miss Caro- 
line Spencer, and with this she introduced me. 

Miss Caroline Spencer was not exactly a beauty, 
but she was a charming little figure. She must have 
been close upon thirty, but she was made almost like 
a little girl, and she had the complexion of a child. 
She had a very pretty head, and her hair was arranged 
as nearly as possible like the hair of a Greek bust, 
though indeed it was to be doubted if she had ever 
seen a Greek bust. She was * artistic,' I suspected, 
so far as Grimwinter allowed such tendencies. She 
had a soft, surprised eye, and thin lips, with very 
pretty teeth. Round her neck she wore what ladies 



FOUR MEETINGS 303 

call, I believe, a ' ruche,' fastened with a very small 
pin in pink coral, and in her hand she carried a fan 
made of plaited straw and adorned with pink ribbon. 
She wore a scanty black silk dress. She spoke with 
a kind of soft precision, showing her white teeth 
between her narrow but tender-looking lips, and she 
seemed extremely pleased, even a little fluttered, at 
tfce prospect of my demonstrations. These went 
forward very smoothly, after I had moved the port- 
folios out of their corner and placed a couple of chairs 
near a lamp. The photographs were usually things 
I knew large views of Switzerland, Italy, and Spain, 
landscapes, copies of famous buildings, pictures and 
statues. I said what I could about them, and my 
companion, looking at them as I held them up, sat 
perfectly still, with her straw fan raised to her under- 
lip. Occasionally, as I laid one of the pictures down, 
she said very softly, * Have you seen that place ? ' 
I usually answered that I had seen it several times 
(I had been a great traveller), and then I felt that 
she looked at me askance for a moment with her 
pretty eyes. I had asked her at the outset whether 
she had been to Europe ; to this she answered, ' No, 
no, no,' in a little quick, confidential whisper. But 
after that, though she never took her eyes off the 
pictures, she said so little that I was afraid she was 
bored. Accordingly, after we had finished one port- 
folio, I offered, if she desired it, to desist. I felt that 
she was not bored, but her reticence puzzled me and 
I wished to make her speak. I turned round to look 
at her, and saw that there was a faint flush in each 
of her cheeks. She was waving her little fan to and 
fro. Instead of looking at me she fixed her eyes 
upon the other portfolio, which was leaning against 
the table. 

1 Won't you show me that ? ' she asked, with a 
little tremor in her voice. I could almost have be- 
lieved she was agitated. 



304 HENRY JAMES 

' With pleasure,' I answered, ' if you are not 
tired.' 

' No, I am not tired,' she affirmed. ' I like it I 
love it.' 

And as I took up the other portfolio she laid her 
hand upon it, rubbing it softly. 

' And have you been here too ? ' she asked. 

On my opening the portfolio it appeared that I 
had been there. One of the first photographs was a 
large view of the Castle of Chillon, on the Lake of 
Geneva. 

* Here,' I said, ' I have been many a time. Is it 
not beautiful ? ' And I pointed to the perfect reflec- 
tion of the rugged rocks and pointed towers in the 
clear, still water. She did not say, ' Oh, enchanting ! ' 
and push it away to see the next picture. She looked 
awhile, and then she asked if it was not where Boni- 
vard, about whom Byron wrote, was confined. I 
assented, and tried to quote some of Byron's verses, 
but in this attempt I succeeded imperfectly. 

She fanned herself a moment and then repeated 
the lines correctly, in a soft, flat, and yet agreeable 
voice. By the time she had finished, she was blush- 
ing. I complimented her and told her she was per- 
fectly equipped for visiting Switzerland and Italy. 
She looked at me askance again, to see whether I was 
serious, and I added, that if she wished to recognize 
Byron's descriptions she must go abroad speedily ; 
Europe was getting sadly dis-Byronised. 

4 How soon must I go ? ' she asked. 

' Oh, I will give you ten years.' 

' I think I can go within ten years,' she answered 
very soberly. 

6 Well,' I said, * you will enjoy it immensely ; you 
will find it very charming.' And just then I came 
upon a photograph of some nook in a foreign city 
which I had been very fond of, and which recalled 
tender memories. I discoursed (as I suppose) with 



FOUR MEETINGS 305 

a certain eloquence ; my companion sat listening, 
breathless. 

1 Have you been very long in foreign lands ? ' she 
asked, some time after I had ceased. 

' Many years,' I said. 

' And have you travelled everywhere ? ' 

* I have travelled a great deal. I am very fond 
of it ; and, happily, I have been able.' 

Again she gave me her sidelong gaze. ' And do 
you know the foreign languages ? ' 
1 After a fashion.' 

* Is it hard to speak them ? ' 

* I don't believe you would find it hard,' I gallantly 
responded. 

' Oh, I shouldn't want to speak I should only 
want to listen,' she said. Then, after a pause, 
she added * They say the French theatre is so 
beautiful.' 

' It is the best in the world.' 

* Did you go there very often ? ' 

* When I was first in Paris I went every night.' 

* Every night ! ' And she opened her clear eyes 
very wide. ' That to me is ' and she hesitated a 
moment ' is very wonderful.' A few minutes later 
she asked ' Which country do you prefer ? ' 

' There is one country I prefer ;to all others. I think 
you would do the same.' 

She looked at me a moment, and then she said 
softly' Italy ? ' 

' Italy,' I answered softly, too ; and for a moment 
we looked at each other. She looked as pretty as if, 
instead of showing her photographs, I had been making 
love to her. To increase the analogy, she glanced 
away, blushing. There was a silence, which she broke 
at last by saying 

' That is the place, which in particular I thought 
of going to.' 

* Oh, that's the place that's the place ! ' I said. 



306 HENRY JAMES 

She looked at two or three photographs in silence. 
* They say it is not so dear.' 

' As some other countries ? Yes, that is not the 
least of its charms.' 

' But it is all very dear, is it not ? ' 

' Europe, you mean ? ' 

' Going there and travelling. That has been the 
trouble. I have very little money. I give lessons,' 
said Miss Spencer. 

4 Of course one must have money,' I said, ' but one 
can manage with a moderate amount.' 

' I think I should manage. I have laid something 
by, and I am always adding a little to it. It's all for 
that.' She paused a moment, and then went on with 
a kind of suppressed eagerness, as if telling me the 
story were a rare, but a possibly impure, satisfaction. 
' But it has not been only the money ; it has been 
everything. Everything has been against it. I have 
waited and waited. It has been a mere castle in the 
air. I am almost afraid to talk about it. Two or 
three times it has been a little nearer, and then I have 
talked about it and it has melted away. I have talked 
about it too much,' she said, hypocritically ; for I saw 
that such talking was now a small tremulous ecstasy. 
4 There is a lady who is a great friend of mine ; she 
doesn't want to go ; I always talk to her about it. I 
tire her dreadfully. She told me once she didn't know 
what would become of me. I should go crazy if I did 
not go to Europe, and I should certainly go crazy if I 
did.' 

' Well,' I said, * you have not gone yet and neverthe- 
less you are not crazy.' 

She looked at me a moment, and said ' I'm not so 
sure. I don't think of anything else. I am always 
thinking of it. It prevents me from thinking of things 
that are nearer home things that I ought to attend to 
That is a kind of craziness.' 

' The cure for it is to go,' I said. 



FOUR MEETINGS 307 

' I have a faith that I shall go. I have a cousin in 
Europe ! ' she announced. 

We turned over some more photographs, and I asked 
her if she had always lived at Grimwinter. 

' Oh, no, sir,' said Miss Spencer. * I have spent 
twenty-three months in Boston.' 

I answered, jocosely, that in that case foreign lands 
would probably prove a disappointment to her ; but 
I quite failed to alarm her. 

' I know more about them than you might think,' 
she said, with her shy, neat little smile. ' I mean by 
reading ; I have read a great deal. I have not only 
read Byron ; I have read histories and guide-books. 
I know I shall like it ! ' 

' I understand your case,' I rejoined. ' You have 
the native American passion the passion for the 
picturesque. With us, I think, it is primordial 
antecedent to experience. Experience comes and only 
shows us something we have dreamt of.' 

' I think that is very true,' said Caroline Spencer. 
* I have dreamt of everything ; I shall know it all ! ' 

' I am afraid you have wasted a great deal of time.' 

' Oh yes, that has been my great wickedness.' 

The people about us had begun to scatter ; they were 
taking their leave. She got up and put out her hand 
to me, timidly, but with a peculiar brightness in her 
eyes. 

4 1 am going back there,' I said, as I shook hands 
with her. ' I shall look out for you. 5 

' I will tell you,' she answered, ' if I am disappointed.' 

And she went away, looking delicately agitated and 
moving her little straw fan. 

ii 

A few months after this I returned to Europe, and 
some three years elapsed. I had been living in Paris, 
and, toward the end of October, I went from that city 
to Havre, to meet my sister and her husband, who had 



308 HENRY JAMES 

written me that they were about to arrive there. On 
reaching Havre I found that the steamer was already 
in ; I was nearly two hours late. I repaired directly 
to the hotel, where my relatives were already estab- 
lished. My sister had gone to bed, exhausted and 
disabled by her voyage ; she was a sadly incompetent 
sailor, and her sufferings on this occasion had been 
extreme. She wished, for the moment, for undis- 
turbed rest, and was unable to see me more than five 
minutes ; so it was agreed that we should remain at 
Havre until the next day. My brother-in-law, who 
was anxious about his wife, was unwilling to leave her 
room ; but she insisted upon his going out with me to 
take a walk and recover his land-legs. The early 
autumn day was warm and charming, and our stroll 
through the bright-coloured, busy streets of the old 
French sea-port was sufficiently entertaining. We 
walked along the sunny, noisy quays and then turned 
into a wide, pleasant street which lay half in sun and 
half in shade a French provincial street, that looked 
like an old water-colour drawing : tall, grey, steep- 
roofed, red-gabled, many-storied houses ; green 
shutters on windows and old scroll-work above them ; 
flower-pots in balconies and white-capped women in 
door-ways. We walked in the shade ; all this stretched 
away on the sunny side of the street and made a picture. 
We looked at it as we passed along ; then, suddenly, 
my brother-in-law stopped pressing my arm and 
staring. I followed his gaze and saw that we had 
paused just before coming to a cafe, where, under 
an awning, several tables and chairs were disposed 
upon the pavement. The windows were open behind ; 
half-a-dozen plants in tubs were ranged beside the door ; 
the pavement was besprinkled with clean bran. It 
was a nice little, quiet, old-fashioned cafe ; inside, in 
the comparative dusk, I saw a stout, handsome woman, 
with pink ribbons in her cap, perched up with a mirror 
behind her back, smiling at some one who was out of 



FOUR MEETINGS 309 

sight. All this, however, I perceived afterwards ; 
what I first observed was a lady sitting alone, outside, 
at one of the little marble-topped tables. My brother- 
in-law had stopped to look at her. There was 
something on the little table, but she was leaning back 
quietly, with her hands folded, looking down the street, 
away from us. I saw her only in something less than 
profile ; nevertheless, I instantly felt that I had seen 
her before. 

' The little lady of the steamer ! ' exclaimed my 
brother-in-law. 

' Was she on your steamer ? ' I asked. 

' From morning till night. She was never sick. 
She used to sit perpetually at the side of the vessel 
with her hands crossed that way, looking at the east- 
ward horizon.' 

' Are you going to speak to her ? ' 

* I don't know her. I never made acquaintance 
with her. I was too seedy. But I used to watch her 
and I don't know why to be interested in her. 
She's a dear little Yankee woman. I have an idea 
she is a school-mistress taking a holiday for which 
her scholars have made up a purse.' 

She turned her face a little more into profile, looking 
at the steep, grey house-fronts opposite to her. Then 
I said ' I shall speak to her myself.' 

' I wouldn't ; she is very shy,' said my brother-in- 
law. 

* My dear fellow, I know her. I once showed her 
photographs at a tea-party.' 

And I went up to her. She turned and looked at 

me, and I saw she was in fact Miss Caroline Spencer. 

But she was not so quick to recognize me ; she looked. 

startled. I pushed a chair to the table and sat 

down. 

' Well,' I said, * I hope you are not disappointed ! ' 
She stared, blushing a little ; then she gave a small 

jump which betrayed recognition. 



310 HENRY JAMES 

1 It was you who showed me the photographs at 
Grimwinter ! ' 

' Yes, it was I. This happens very charmingly, for 
I feel as if it were for me to give you a formal reception 
here an official welcome. I talked to you so much 
about Europe.' 

4 You didn't say too much. I am so happy ! ' she 
softly exclaimed. 

Very happy she looked. There was no sign of her 
being older ; she was as gravely, decently, demurely 
pretty as before. If she had seemed before a thin- 
stemmed, mild-hued flower of Puritanism, it may be 
imagined whether in her present situation this delicate 
bloom was less apparent. Beside her an old gentleman 
was drinking absinthe ; behind her the dame de comp- 
toir in the pink ribbons was calling ' Alcibiade ! 
Alcibiade ! ' to the long- aproned waiter. I explained 
to Miss Spencer that my companion had lately been 
her ship-mate, and my brother-in-law came up and was 
introduced to her. But she looked at him as if she 
had never seen him before, and I remembered that he 
had told me that her eyes were always fixed upon the 
eastward horizon. She had evidently not noticed him , 
and, still timidly smiling, she made no attempt what- 
ever to pretend that she had. I stayed with her at the 
cafe door, and he went back to the hotel and to his wife. 
I said to Miss Spencer that this meeting of ours in the 
first hour of her landing was really very strange, but 
that I was delighted to be there and receive her first 
impressions. 

4 Oh, I can't tell you,' she said ; 1 1 feel as if I were 
in a dream. I have been sitting here for an hour, and 
I don't want to move. Everything is so picturesque. 
I don't know whether the coffee has intoxicated me ; 
it's so delicious.' 

' Really,' said I, ' if you are so pleased with this poor 
prosaic Havre, you will have no admiration left for 
better things. Don't spend all your admiration the 



FOUR MEETINGS 311 

first day ; remember it's your intellectual letter of 
credit. Remember all the beautiful places and things 
that are waiting for you ; remember that lovely Italy ! ' 

' I'm not afraid of running short,' she said gaily, 
still looking at the opposite houses. ' I could sit here 
all day, saying to myself that here I am at last. It's 
so dark, and old, and different.' 

' By the way,' I inquired, ' how come you to be 
sitting here ? Have you not gone to one of the inns ? ' 
For I was half amused, half alarmed at the good con- 
science with which this delicately pretty woman had 
stationed herself in conspicuous isolation on the edge 
of the side-walk. 

' My cousin brought me here,' she answered. ' You 
know I told you I had a cousin in Europe. He met 
me at the steamer this morning.' 

' It was hardly worth his while to meet you if he 
was to desert you so soon.' 

'Oh, he has only left me for half an hour,' said 
Miss Spencer. ' He has gone to get my money.' 

' Where is your money ? ' 

She gave a little laugh. ' It makes me feel very 
fine to tell you ! It is in some circular notes.' 

' And where are your circular notes .? ' 

* In my cousin's pocket.' 

This statement was very serenely uttered, but I 
can hardly say why it gave me a sensible chill. At 
the moment I should have been utterly unable to 
give the reason of this sensation, for I knew nothing 
of Miss Spencer's cousin. Since he was her cousin, 
the presumption was in his favour. But I felt sud- 
denly uncomfortable at the thought that, half an 
hour after her landing, her scanty funds should have 
passed into his hands. 

' Is he to travel with you ? ' I asked. 

' Only as far as Paris. He is an art-student in 
Paris. I wrote to him that I was coming, but I never 
expected him to come off to the ship. I supposed 



312 HENRY JAMES 

he would only just meet me at the train in Paris. It 
is very kind of him. But he is very kind and very 
bright.' 

I instantly became conscious of an extreme curiosity 
to see this bright cousin who was an art-student, 

* He is gone to the banker's ? ' I asked. 

' Yes, to the banker's. He took me to an hotel 
such a queer, quaint, delicious little place, with a 
court in the middle, and a gallery all round, and a 
lovely landlady, in such a beautifully fluted cap, and 
such a perfectly fitting dress ! After a while we 
came out to walk to the banker's, for I haven't got 
any French money. But I was very dizzy from the 
motion of the vessel, and I thought I had "better sit 
down. He found this place for me here, and he went 
off to the banker's himself. I am to wait here till 
he comes back.' 

It may seem very fantastic, but it passed through 
my mind that he would never come back. I settled 
myself in my chair beside Miss Spencer and deter- 
mined to await the event. She was extremely obser- 
vant ; there was something touching in it. She 
noticed everything that the movement of the street 
brought before us the peculiarities of costume, the 
shapes of vehicles, the big Norman horses, the fat 
priests, the shaven poodles. We talked of these 
things, and there was something charming in her 
freshness of perception and the way her book-nourished 
fancy recognized and welcomed everything. 

' And when your cousin comes back what are you 
going to do ? ' I asked. 

She hesitated a moment. * We don't quite know.' 

' When do you go to Paris ? If you go by the four 
o'clock tram I may have the pleasure of making the 
journey with you.' 

' 1 don't think we shall do that. My cousin thinks 
I had better stay here a few days.' 

' Oh ! ' said I ; and for five minutes said nothing 



FOUR MEETINGS 313 

more. I was wondering what her cousin was, in 
vulgar parlance, ' up to.' I looked up and down the 
street, but saw nothing that looked like a bright 
American art-student. At last I took the liberty of 
observing that Havre was hardly a place to choose as 
one of the aesthetic stations of a European tour. It 
was a place of convenience, nothing more ; a place of 
transit, through which transit should be rapid. I 
recommended her to go to Paris by the afternoon 
train, and meanwhile to amuse herself by driving to 
the ancient fortress at the mouth of the harbour 
that picturesque, circular structure which bore the 
name of Francis the First and looked like a small 
castle of St. Angelo. (It has lately been demolished.) 

She listened with much interest ; then for a moment 
she looked grave. 

' My cousin told me that when he returned he 
should have something particular to say to me, and 
that we could do nothing or decide nothing until I 
should have heard it. But I will make him tell me 
quickly, and then we will go to the ancient fortress. 
There is no hurry to get to Paris ; there is plenty of 
time.' 

She smiled with her softly severe little lips as she 
spoke those last words. But I, looking at her with a 
purpose, saw just a tiny gleam of apprehension in her 
eye. 

* Don't tell me,' I said, ' that this wretched man is 
going to give you bad news ! ' 

' I suspect it is a little bad, but I don't believe it 
is very bad. At any rate, I must listen to it.' 

I looked at her again an instant. ' You didn't 
come to Europe to listen,' I said. c You came to see ! ' 
But now I was sure her cousin would come back ; 
since he had something disagreeable to say to her, he 
certainly would turn up. We sat a while longer, and 
I asked her about her plans of travel. She had them 
on her fingers' ends, and she told over the names 



314 HENRY JAMES 

with a kind of solemn distinctness : from Paris to 
Dijon and to Avignon, from Avignon to Marseilles 
and the Cornice road ; thence to Genoa, to Spezia, 
to Pisa, to Florence, to Rome. It apparently had 
never occurred to her that there could be the least 
mcommodity in her travelling alone ; and since she 
was unprovided with a companion I of course scrupu- 
lously abstained from disturbing her sense of security. 

At last her cousin came back. I saw him turn 
towards us out of a side-street, and from the moment 
my eyes rested upon him I felt that this was the bright 
American art-student. He wore a slouch hat and a 
rusty black velvet jacket, such as I had often encoun- 
tered in the Rue Bonaparte. His shirt-collar revealed 
a large section of a throat which, at a distance, was 
not strikingly statuesque. He was tall and lean ; he 
had red hair and freckles. So much I had time to 
observe while he approached the caf6, staring at me 
with natural surprise from under his umbrageous 
coiffure. When he caine up to us I immediately 
introduced myself to him as an old acquaintance of 
Miss Spencer. He looked at me hard with a pair of 
little red eyes, then he made me a solemn bow in the 
French fashion, with his sombrero. 

' You were not on the ship ? ' he said. 

* No, I was not on the ship. I have been in Europe 
these three years.' 

He bowed once more, solemnly, and motioned me 
to be seated again. I sat down, but it was only for 
the purpose of observing him an instant I saw it 
was time I should return to my sister. Miss Spencer's 
cousin was a queer fellow. Nature had not shaped 
him for a Raphaelesque or Byronic attire, and his 
velvet doublet and naked throat were not in harmony 
with his facial attributes. His hair was cropped close 
to his head ; his ears were large and ill- ad justed to 
the same. He had a lackadaisical carriage and a 
sentimental droop which ^were peculiarly at variance 



FOUR MEETINGS 315 

with his keen, strange-coloured eyes. Perhaps I was 
prejudiced, but I thought his eyes treacherous. He 
said nothing for some time ; he leaned his hands on 
his cane and looked up and down the street. Then at 
last, slowly lifting his cane and pointing with it, 
' That's a very nice bit,' he remarked, softly. He 
had his head on one side, and his little eyes were half 
closed. I followed the direction of his stick ; the 
object it indicated was a red cloth hung out of an old 
window. ' Nice bit of colour,' he continued ; and 
without moving his head he transferred his half-closed 
gaze to me. ' Composes well,' he pursued. ' Make a 
nice thing.' He spoke in a hard, vulgar voice. 

' I see you have a great deal of eye,' I replied. 
' Your cousin tells me you are studying art.' He 
looked at me in the same way without answering, and 
I went on with deliberate urbanity ' I suppose you 
are at the studio of one of those great men.' 

Still he looked at me, and then he said softly 
' Gerome.' 

' Do you like it ? ' I asked. 

1 Do you understand French ? ' he said. 

' Some kinds,' I answered. 

He kept his little eyes on me ; then he said 
* J' adore la peinture ! ' 

4 Oh, I understand that kind ! ' I rejoined. Miss 
Spencer laid her hand upon her cousin's arm with a 
little pleased and fluttered movement ; it was delight- 
ful to be among people who were on such easy terms 
with foreign tongues. I got up to take leave, and 
asked Miss Spencer where, in Paris, I might have the 
honour of waiting upon her. To what hotel would 
she go ? 

She turned to her cousin inquiringly and he honoured 
me again with his little languid leer. ' Do you know 
the Hotel des Princes ? ' 

' I know where it is.' 

4 1 shall take her there.' 



316 HENRY JAMES 

' I congratulate you,' I said to Caroline Spencer. 
' I believe it is the best inn in the world ; and in case 
I should still have a moment to call upon you here, 
where are you lodged ? ' 

4 Oh, it's such a pretty name,' said Miss Spencer, 
gleefully. ' A la Belle Normande.' 

As I left them her cousin gave me a great flourish 
with his picturesque hat. 



ni 

My sister, as it proved, was not sufficiently restored 
to leave Havre by the afternoon train ; so that, as 
the autumn dusk began to fall, I found myself at 
liberty to call at the sign of the Fair Norman. I must 
confess that I had spent much of the interval in 
wondering what the disagreeable thing was that my 
charming friend's disagreeable cousin had been telling 
her. The * Belle Normande ' was a modest inn in 
a shady by-street, where it gave me satisfaction to 
think Miss Spencer must have encountered local 
colour in abundance. There was a crooked little 
court, where much of the hospitality of the house was 
carried on ; there was a staircase climbing to bed- 
rooms on the outer side of the wall ; there was a small 
trickling fountain with a stucco statuette in the midst 
of it ; there was a little boy in a white cap and apron 
cleaning copper vessels at a conspicuous kitchen door ; 
there was a chattering landlady, neatly laced, arrang- 
ing apricots and grapes into an artistic pyramid upon 
a pink plate. I looked about, and on a green bench 
outside of an open door labelled Salle d, Manger, I 
perceived Caroline Spencer. No sooner had I looked 
at her than I saw that something had happened since 
the morning. She was leaning back on her bench, 
her hands were clasped in her lap, and her eyes were 
fixed upon the landlady, at the other side of the court, 
manipulating her apricots. 



FOUR MEETINGS 317 

But I saw she was not thinking of apricots. She 
was staring absently, thoughtfully ; as I came near 
her I perceived that she had been crying. I sat down 
on the bench beside her before she saw me ; then, 
when she had done so, she simply turned round, with- 
out surprise, and rested her sad eyes upon me. Some- 
thing very bad indeed had happened ; she was com- 
pletely changed. 

I immediately charged her with it. ' Your cousin 
has been giving you bad news ; you are in great dis- 
tress.' 

For a moment she said nothing, and I supposed 
that she was afraid to speak, lest her tears should 
come back. But presently I perceived that in the 
short time that had elapsed since my leaving her in 
the morning she had shed them all, and that she was 
now softly stoical intensely composed. 

1 My poor cousin is in distress, 5 she said at last. 
* His news was bad.' Then, after a brief hesitation 
1 He was in terrible want of money.' 

' In want of yours, you mean ? ' 

* Qf any that he could get honestly. Mine was 
the only money.' 

' And he has taken yours ? ' 

She hesitated again a moment, but her glance, 
meanwhile, was pleading. ' I gave him what I 
had.' 

I have always remembered the accent of those 
words as the most angelic bit of human utterance I 
had ever listened to ; but then, almost with a sense 
of personal outrage, I jumped up. ' Good heavens ! ' 
I said, ' do you call that getting it honestly ? ' 

I had gone too far ; she blushed deeply. ' We 
will not speak of it,' she said. 

' We must speak of it,' I answered, sitting down 
again. ' I am your friend ; it seems to me you need 
one. What is the matter with your cousin ? ' 

' He is in debt.' 



318 HENRY JAMES 

' No doubt ! But what is the special fitness of 
your paying his debts ? ' 

4 He has told me all his story ; I am very sorry for him.' 

* So am I ! But I hope he will give you back your 
money.' 

' Certainly he will ; as soon as he can.' 

* When will that be ? ' 

1 When he has finished his great picture.' 

* My dear young lady, confound his great picture ! 
Where is this desperate cousin ? ' 

She certainly hesitated now. Then ' At his 
dinner,' she answered. 

I turned about and looked through the open door 
into the satte a manger. There, alone at the end of a 
long table, I perceived the object of Miss Spencer's 
compassion the bright young art-student. He was 
dining too attentively to notice me at first ; but in 
the act of setting down a well-emptied wine-glass he 
caught sight of my observant attitude. He paused 
in his repast, and, with his head on one side and his 
meagre jaws slowly moving, fixedly returned my gaze. 
Then the landlady came lightly brushing by with her 
pyramid of apricots. 

* And that nice little plate of fruit is for him ? ' I 
exclaimed* 

Miss Spencer glanced at it tenderly. ' They do that 
so prettily ! ' she murmured. 

I felt helpless and irritated. ' Come now, really,' 
I said ; * do you approve of that long strong fellow 
accepting your funds ? ' She looked away from me ; 
I was evidently giving her pain. The case was hope- 
less ; the long strong fellow had ' interested ' her. 

' Excuse me if I speak of him so unceremoniously/ 
I said. ' But you are really too generous, and he is 
not quite delicate enough. He made his debts himself 
he ought to pay them himself.' 

' He has been foolish,' she answered ; ' I know that. 
He has told me everything. We had a long talk this 



FOUR MEETINGS 319 

morning ; the poor fellow threw himself upon my 
charity. He has signed notes to a large amount.' 

' The more fool he ! ' 

*" He is in extreme distress ; and it is not only himself. 
It is his poor wife.' 

' Ah, he has a poor wife ? ' 

c I didn't know it but he confessed everything. He 
married two years since, secretly.' 

' Why secretly ? ' 

Caroline Spencer glanced about her, as if she feared 
listeners. Then softly, in a little impressive tone 
' She was a Countess ! ' 

' Are you very sure of that ? ' 

* She has written me a most beautiful letter.' 
c Asking you for money, eh ? ' 

* Asking me for confidence and sympathy,' said Miss 
Spencer. ' She has been disinherited by her father. 
My cousin told me the story and she tells it in her own 
way, in the letter. It is like an old romance. Her 
father opposed the marriage, and when he discovered 
that she had secretly disobeyed him he cruelly cast her 
off. It is really most romantic. They are the oldest 
family in Provence.' 

I looked and listened, in wonder. It really seemed 
that the poor woman was enjoying the ' romance ' 
of having a discarded Countess-cousin, out of Provence, 
so deeply as almost to lose the sense of what the 
forfeiture of her money meant for her. 

* My dear young lady,' I said, l you don't want to 
be ruined for picturesqueness' sake ? ' 

' I shall not be ruined. I shall come back before long 
to stay with them. The Countess insists upon that.' 
' Come back ! You are going home, then ? ' 
She sat for a moment with her eyes lowered, then 
with an heroic suppression of a faint tremor of the 
voice ' I have no money for travelling ! ' she answered. 

* You gave it all up ? ' 

' I have kept enough to take me home.' 



320 HENRY JAMES 

I gave an angry groan, and at this juncture Miss 
Spencer's cousin, the fortunate possessor of her sacred 
savings and of the hand of the Proven9al Countess, 
emerged from the little dining-room. He stood on 
the threshold for an instant, removing the stone from 
a plump apricot which he had brought away from the 
table ; then he put the apricot into his mouth, and 
while he let it sojourn there, gratefully, stood looking 
at us, with his long legs apart and his hands dropped 
into the pockets of his velvet jacket. My companion 
got up, giving him a thin glance which I caught in its 
passage, and which expressed a strange commixture 
of resignation and fascination a sort of perverted 
exaltation. Ugly, vulgar, pretentious, dishonest as I 
thought the creature, he had appealed successfully to 
her eager and tender imagination. I was deeply 
disgusted, but I had no warrant to interfere, and at 
any rate I felt that it would be vain. 

The young man waved his hand with a pictorial 
gesture. ' Nice old court,' he observed. ' Nice mellow 
old place. Good tone in that brick. Nice crooked old 
stair-case.' 

Decidedly, I couldn't stand it ; without responding 
I gave my hand to Caroline Spencer. She looked at 
me an instant with her little white face and expanded 
eyes, and as she showed her pretty teeth I suppose she 
meant to smile. 

4 Don't be sorry for me,' she said ; ' I am very sure 
I shall see something of this dear old Europe yet.' 

I told her that I would not bid her good-bye I 
should find a moment to come back the next morning. 
Her cousin, who had put on his sombrero again, 
flourished it off at me by way of a bow upon which I 
took my departure. 

The next morning I came back to the inn, where I 
met in the court the landlady, more loosely laced than 
in the eVening. On my asking for Miss Spencer 
4 Partie, monsieur,' said the hostess. ' She went away 



FOUR MEETINGS 321 

last night at ten o'clock, with her her not her 
husband, eh ? in fine her Monsieur. They went down 
to the American ship.' I turned away ; the poor gdrl 
had been about thirteen hours in Europe. 



rv 

I myself, more fortunate, was there some five years 
longer. During this period I lost my friend Latouche, 
who died of a malarious fever during a tour in the 
Levant. One of the first things I did on my return 
was to go up to Grimwinter to pay a consolatory visit 
to his poor mother. I found her in deep affliction, 
and I sat with her the whole of the morning that fol- 
lowed my arrival (I had come in late at night), listening 
to her tearful descant and singing the praises of my 
friend. We talked of nothing else, and our conversa- 
tion terminated only with the arrival of a quick little 
woman who drove herself up to the door in a ' carry-all,' 
and whom I saw toss the reins upon the horse's back 
with the briskness of a startled sleeper throwing back 
the bed-clothes. She jumped out of the carry-all and 
she jumped into the room. She proved to be the 
minister's wife and the great town- gossip, and she had 
evidently, in the latter capacity, a choice morsel to 
communicate. I was as sure of this as I was that poor 
Mrs. Latouche was not absolutely too bereaved to 
listen to her. It seemed to me discreet to retire ; I 
said I believed I would go and take a walk before dinner. 

' And, by the way,' I added, ' if you will tell me 
where my old friend Miss Spencer lives I will walk to 
her house.' 

The minister's wife immediately responded. Miss 
Spencer lived in the fourth house beyond the Baptist 
church ; the Baptist church was the one on the right, 
with that queer green thing over the door ; they called 
it a portico, but it looked more like an old-fashioned 
bedstead. 

228 M 



322 HENRY JAMES 

' Yes, do go and see poor Caroline,' said Mrs. 
Latouche. ' It will refresh her to see a strange face.' 

4 1 should think she had had enough of strange 
faces ! ' cried the minister's wife. 

1 1 mean, to see a visitor,' said Mrs. Latouche, amend- 
ing her phrase. 

' I should think she had had enough of visitors ! ' 
her companion rejoined. ' But you don't mean to 
stay ten years,' she added glancing at me. 

' Has she a visitor of that sort ? ' I enquired, per- 
plexed. 

' You will see the sort ! ' said the minister's wife. 
' She's easily seen ; she generally sits in the front 
yard. Only take care what you say to her, and be very 
sure you are polite.' 

' Ah, she is so sensitive ? ' 

The minister's wife jumped up and dropped me a 
curtsey a most ironical curtsey. 

* That's what she is, if you please. She's a 
Countess ! ' 

And pronouncing this word with the most scathing 
accent, the little woman seemed fairly to laugh in the 
Countess's face. I stood a moment, staring, wonder- 
ing, remembering. 

* Oh, I shall be very polite ! ' I cried ; and, grasping 
my hat and stick, I went on my way. 

I found Miss Spencer's residence without difficulty. 
The Baptist church was easily identified, and the small 
dwelling near it, of a rusty white, with a large central 
chimney stack and a Virginia creeper, seemed naturally 
and properly the abode of a frugal old maid with a taste 
for the picturesque. As I approached I slackened 
my pace, for I had heard that some one was always 
sitting in the front yard, and I wished to reconnoitre. 
I looked cautiously over the low white fence which 
separated the small garden-space from the unpaved 
street ; but I descried nothing in the shape of a 
Countess. A small straight path led up to the crooked 



FOUR MEETINGS 323 

door-step, and on either side of it was a little grass-plot, 
fringed with currant-bushes. In the middle of the 
grass, on either side, was a large quince-tree, full of 
antiquity and contortions, and beneath one of the 
quince-trees were placed a small table and a couple of 
chairs. On the table lay a piece of unfinished em- 
broidery and two or three books in bright-coloured 
paper covers. I went in at the gate and paused half- 
way along the path, scanning the place for some farther 
token of its occupant, before whom I could hardly 
have said why I hesitated abruptly to present myself. 
Then I saw that the poor little house was very shabby. 
I felt a sudden doubt of my right to intrude; for 
curiosity had been my motive, and curiosity here 
seemed singularly indelicate. While I hesitated, a 
figure appeared in the open door-way and stood there 
looking at me. I immediately recognized Caroline 
Spencer, but she looked at me as if she had never 
seen me before. Gently, but gravely and timidly, I 
advanced to the door-step, and then I said, with an 
attempt at friendly badinage 

' 1 waited for you over there to come back, but you 
never came.' 

' Waited where, sir ? ' she asked softly, and her light- 
coloured eyes expanded more than before. 

She was much older ; she looked tired and wasted. 

' Well, 5 I said, ' I waited at Havre.' 

She stared ; then she recognized me. She smiled 
and blushed and clasped her two hands together. ' I 
remember you now,' she said. * I remember that day.' 
But she stood there, neither coming out nor asking me 
to come in. She was embarrassed. 

I, too, felt a little awkward. I poked my stick into 
the path. ' I kept looking out for you, year after year,' 
I said. 

' You mean in Europe ? ' murmured Miss Spencer. 

' In Europe, of course ! Here, apparently, you are 
easy enough to find.' 



324 HENRY JAMES 

She leaned her hand against the unpainted door-post, 
and her head fell a little to one side. She looked at me 
for a moment without speaking, and I thought I recog- 
nized the expression that one sees in women's eyes 
when tears are rising. Suddenly she stepped out upon 
the cracked slab of stone before the threshold and 
closed the door behind her. Then she began to smile 
intently, and I saw that her teeth were as pretty as 
ever. But there had been tears too. 

' Have you been there ever since ? ' she asked, almost 
in a whisper. 

I Until three weeks ago. And you you never came 
back ? ' 

Still looking at me with her fixed smile, she put her 
hand behind her and opened the door again. ' I am 
not very polite,' she said. ' Won't you come in ? ' 

I 1 am afraid I incommode you.' 

' Oh no ! ' she answered, smiling more than ever. 
And she pushed back the door, with a sign that I should 
enter. 

I went in, following her. She led the way to a small 
room on the left of the narrow hall, which I supposed 
to be her parlour, though it was at the back of the 
house, and we passed the closed door of another 
apartment which apparently enjoyed a view of the 
quince-trees. This one looked out upon a small wood- 
shed and two clucking hens. But I thought it very 
pretty, until I saw that its elegance was of the most 
frugal kind ; after which, presently, I thought it 
prettier still, for I had never seen faded chintz and old 
mezzotint engravings, framed in varnished autumn 
leaves, disposed in so graceful a fashion. Miss Spencer 
sat down on a very small portion of the sofa, with her 
hands tightly clasped in her lap. She looked ten years 
older, and it would have sounded very perverse now 
to speak of her as pretty. But I thought her so ; or at 
least I thought her touching. She was peculiarly 
agitated. I tried to appear not to notice it ; but 



FOUR MEETINGS 325 

suddenly, in the most inconsequent fashion it was 
an irresistible memory of our little friendship at Havre 
I said to her ' I do incommode you. You are 
distressed.' 

She raised her two hands to her face, and for a 
moment kept it buried in them. Then, taking them 

away ' It's because you remind me . . .' she 

said. 

' I remind you, you mean, of that miserable day at 
Havre ? ' 

She shook her head. * It was not miserable. It 
was delightful.' 

' I never was so shocked as when, on going back to 
your inn the next morning, I found you had set sail 
again.' 

She was silent a moment ; and then she said 

* Please let us not speak of that.' 

' Did you come straight back here ? ' I asked. 

' I was back here just thirty days after I had gone 
away.' 

' And here you have remained ever since ? ' 

' Oh yes ! ' she said gently. 

' When are you going to Europe again ? ' 

This question seemed brutal ; but there was some- 
thing that irritated me in the softness of her resignation, 
and I wished to extort from her some expression of 
impatience. 

She fixed her eyes for a moment on a small sun-spot 
on the carpet ; then she got up and lowered the window- 
blincj a little, to obliterate it. Presently, in the same 
mild voice, answering my question, she said ' Never ! ' 

' I hope your cousin repaid you your money.' 

' I don't care for it now,' she said, looking away from 
me. 

' You don't care for your money ? ' 

* For going to Europe.' 

' Do you mean that you would not go if you 
could ? ' 



32G HENRY JAMES 

' I can't I can't,' said Caroline Spencer. ' It is all 
over ; I never think of it.' 

* He never repaid you, then ! ' I exclaimed. 

' Please please,' she began. 

But she stopped ; she was looking toward the door. 
There had been a rustling and a sound of steps in the 
hall. 

I also looked toward the door, which was open, and 
now admitted another person a lady who paused just 
within the threshold. Behind her came a young man. 
The lady looked at me with a good deal of fixedness 
long enough for my glance to receive a vivid impression 
of herself. Then she turned to Caroline Spencer, and, 
with a smile and a strong foreign accent 

' Excuse my interruption ! ' she said. ' I knew not 
you had company the gentleman came in so quietly.' 

With this, she directed her eyes toward me again. 

She was very strange ; yet my first feeling was that 
I had seen her before. Then I perceived that I had 
only seen ladies who were very much like her. But I 
had seen them very far away from Grimwinter, and it 
was an odd sensation to be seeing her here. Whither 
was it the sight of her seemed to transport me ? To 
some dusky landing before a shabby Parisian qiiatrieme 
to an open door revealing a greasy ante-chamber, 
and to Madame leaning over the banisters while she 
holds a faded dressing-gown together and bawls down 
to the portress to bring up her coffee. Miss Spencer's 
visitor was a very large woman, of middle age, with a 
plump, dead-white face and hair drawn back a la chin- 
oise. She had a small, penetrating eye, and what is 
called in French an agreeable smile. She wore an 
old pink cashmere dressing-gown, covered with white 
embroideries, and, like the figure in my momentary 
vision, she was holding it together in front with a bare 
and rounded arm and a plump and deeply-dimpled 
hand. 

' It is only to spick about my cafe,' she said to Miss 



FOUR MEETINGS 327 

Spencer with her agreeable smile. ' I should like it 
served in the garden under the leetle tree.' 

The young man behind her had now stepped into 
the room, and he also stood looking at me. He was a 
pretty-faced little fellow, with an air of provincial 
foppishness a tiny Adonis of Grimwater. .He had a 
small, pointed nose, a small, pointed chin, and, as I 
observed, the most diminutive feet. He looked at me 
foolishly, with bis mouth open. 

' You shall have your coffee,' said Miss Spencer, who 
had a faint red spot in each of her cheeks. 

' It is well ! ' said the lady in the dressing-gown'. 
* Find your bouk,' she added, turning to the young man. 

He looked vaguely round the room. ' My grammar, 
d'ye mean ? ' he asked, with a helpless intonation. 

But the large lady was looking at me curiously, and 
gathering in her dressing-gown with her white arm. 

' Find your bouk, my friend,' she repeated. 

' My poetry, d'ye mean ? ' said the young man, also 
gazing at me again. 

4 Never mind your bouk,' said his companion. ' To- 
day we will talk. We will make some conversation. 
But we must not interrupt. Come,' and she turned 
away. * Under the leetle tree,' she added, for the 
benefit of Miss Spencer. 

Then she gave me a sort of salutation, and a ' Mon- 
sieur ! ' with which she swept away again, followed 
by the young man. 

Caroline Spencer stood there with her eyes fixed upon 
the ground. 

' Who is that ? ' I asked. 

' The Countess, my cousin." 

' And who is the young man ? ' 

' Her pupil, Mr. Mixter.' 

This description of the relation between the two 
persons who had just left the room made me break into 
a little laugh. Miss Spencer looked at me gravely. 

' She gives French lessons ; she has lost her fortune ' 



328 HENRY JAMES 

4 1 see,' I said. ' She is determined to be a burden 
to no one. That is very proper.' 

Miss Spencer looked down on the ground again. ' I 
must go and get the coffee,' she said. 

' Has the lady many pupils ? ' I asked. 

4 She has only Mr. Mixter. She gives all her time 
to him.' 

At this I could not laugh, though I smelt provocation. 
Miss Spencer was too grave. ' He pays very well,' 
she presently added, with simplicity. ' He is very 
rich. He is very kind. He takes the Countess to 
drive.' And she was turning away. 

' You are going for the Countess's coffee ? ' I said. 

* If you will excuse me for a few moments.' 

* Is there no one else to do it ? ' 

She looked at me with the softest serenity. * I keep 
no servants.' 

* Can she not wait upon herself ? ' 
' She is not used to that.' 

' I see,' said I, as gently as possible. * But before 
you go, tell me this : who is this lady ? ' 

' I told you about her before that day. She is the 
wife of my cousin, whom you saw.' 

' The lady who was disowned by her family in conse- 
quence of her marriage ? ' 

' Yes ; they have never seen her again. They have 
cast her off.' 

4 And where is her husband ? ' 

' He is dead.' 

* And where is your money ? ' 

The poor girl flinched, there was something too 
methodical hi my questions. ' I don't know,' she said 
wearily. 

But I continued a moment. * On her husband's 
death this lady came over here ? ' 

' Yes, she arrived one day.' 

* How long ago ? ' 

* Two years.' 



FOUR MEETINGS 329 

' She has been here ever since ? ' 

' Every moment.' 

4 How does she like it ? ' 

* Not at all.' 

* And how do you like it ? ' 

Miss Spencer laid her face in her two hands an instant, 
as she had done ten minutes before. Then, quickly, 
she went to get the Countess's coffee. 

I remained alone in the little parlour ; I wanted to 
see more to learn more. At the end of five minutes 
the young man whom Miss Spencer had described as 
the Countess's pupil came in. He stood looking at me 
for a moment with parted lips. I saw he was a very 
rudimentary young man. 

* She wants to know if you won't come out there ? ' 
he observed at last. 

* Who wants to know ? ' 

1 The Countess. That French lady.' 
' She has asked you to bring me ? ' 

* Yes, sir,' said the young man feebly, looking at my 
six feet of stature. 

I went out with him, and we found the Countess 
sitting under one of the little quince-trees in front of 
the house. She was drawing a needle through the 
piece of embroidery which she had taken from the small 
table. She pointed graciously to the chair beside her 
and I seated myself. Mr. Mixter glanced about him, 
and then sat down in the grass at her feet. He gazed 
upward, looking with parted lips from the Countess 
to me. 

* I am sure you speak French,' said the Countess, 
fixing her brilliant little eyes upon me. 

' I do, madam, after a fashion,' I answered, in the 
lady's own tongue. 

4 Voila ! ' she cried most expressively. ' I knew it 
so soon as I looked at you. You have been in my poor 
dear country.' 

' A long time.' 

M* 



330 HENRY JAMES 

' You know Paris ? ' 

' Thoroughly, madam.' And with a certain con- 
scious purpose I let my eyes meet her own. 

She presently, hereupon, moved her own and glanced 
down at Mr. Mixter. * What are we talking about ? ' 
she demanded of her attentive pupil. 

He pulled his knees up, plucked at the grass with 
his hand, stared, blushed a little. ' You are talking 
French,' said Mr. Mixter. 

' La belle decouverte ! ' said the Countess. ' Here 
are ten months,' she explained to me, ' that I am giving 
him lessons. Don't put yourself out not to say he's a 
fool ; he won't understand you.' 

* I hope your other pupils are more gratifying,' I 
remarked. 

' I have no others. They don't know what French 
is in this place ; they don't want to know. You may 
therefore imagine the pleasure it is to me to meet a 
person who speaks it like yourself.' I replied that my 
own pleasure was not less, and she went on drawing her 
stitches through her embroidery, with her little finger 
curled out. Every few moments she put her eyes close 
to her work, near-sightedly. I thought her a very 
disagreeable person ; she was coarse, affected, dis- 
honest, and no more a Countess than I was a caliph. 
4 Talk to me of Paris,' she went on. ' The very name 
of it gives me an emotion ! How long since you were 
there ? ' 

' Two months ago.' 

' Happy man ! Tell me something about it. What 
were they doing ? Oh, for an hour of the boule- 
vard ! ' 

' They were doing about what they are always 
doing amusing themselves a good deal.' 

' At the theatres, eh ? ' sighed the Countess. ' At 
the cafes-concerts at the little tables in front of the 
doors ? Quelle existence ! You know I am a Paris- 
ienne, monsieur,' she added, ' to rny finger-tips.' 



FOUR MEETINGS 331 

' Miss Spencer was mistaken, then,' I ventured to 
rejoin, ' in telling me that you are a Provencale.' 

She stared a moment, then she put her nose to her 
embroidery, which had a dingy, desultory aspect. 
' Ah, I am a Proven9ale by birth ; but I am a Paris- 
ienne by inclination.' 

4 And by experience, I suppose ? ' I said. 

She questioned me a moment with her hard little 
eyes. ' Oh, experience ! I could talk of experience 
if I wished. I never expected, for example, that 
experience had this in store for me.' And she pointed 
with her bare elbow, and with a jerk of her head, at 
everything that surrounded her at the little white 
house, the quince-tree, the rickety paling, even at 
Mr. Mixter. 

' You are in exile ! ' I said smiling. 

' You may imagine what it is ! These two years 
that I have been here I have passed hours hours ! 
One gets used to things, and sometimes I think I have 
got used to this. But there are some things that are 
always beginning over again. For example, my 
coffee.' 

' Do you always have coffee at this hour ? ' I inquired. 

She tossed back her head and measured me. 

' At what hour would you 'prefer me to have it ? I 
must have my little cup after breakfast.' 

' Ah, you breakfast at this hour ? ' 

' At mid-day comme cela se fait. Here they break- 
fast at a quarter past seven ! That " quarter past " 
is charming ! ' 

4 But you were telling me about your coffee,' I 
observed, sympathetically. 

' My cousine can't believe in it : she can't understand 
it. She's an excellent girl ; but that little cup of black 
coffee, with a drop of cognac, served at this hour they 
exceed her comprehension. So I have to break the 
ice every day, and it takes the coffee the time you see to 
arrive. And when it arrives, monsieur ! If I don't 



332 HENRY JAMES 

offer you any of it you must riot take it ill. It will be 
because I know you have drunk it on the boulevard.' 

I resented extremely this scornful treatment of poor 
Caroline Spencer's humble hospitality ; but I said 
nothing, in order to say nothing uncivil. I only 
looked on Mr. Mixter, who had clasped his arms round 
his knees and was watching my companion's demon- 
strative graces in solemn fascination. She presently 
saw that I was observing him ; she glanced at me with 
a little bold explanatory smile. * You know, he 
adores me,' she murmured, putting her nose into her 
tapestry again. I expressed the promptest credence, 
and she went on. ' He dreams of becoming my lover ! 
Yes, it's his dream. He has read a French novel ; it 
took him six months. But ever since that he has 
thought himself the hero, and me the heroine ! ' 

Mr. Mixter had evidently not an idea that he was 
being talked about ; he was too preoccupied with the 
ecstasy of contemplation. At this moment Caroline 
Spencer came out of the house, bearing a coffee-pot on 
a little tray. I noticed that on her way from the door 
to the table she gave me a single quick, vaguely appeal- 
ing glance. I wondered what it signified ; I felt that 
it signified a sort of half-frightened longing to know 
what, as a man of the world who had been in France, 
I thought of the Countess. It made me extremely 
uncomfortable. I could not tell her that the Countess 
was very possibly the runaway wife of a little hair- 
dresser. I tried suddenly, on the contrary, to show a 
high consideration for her. But I got up ; I couldn't 
stay longer. It vexed me to see Caroline Spencer 
standing there like a waiting-maid. 

' You expect to remain some time at Grimwinter ? ' 
I said to the Countess. 

She gave a terrible shrug. 

' Who knows ? Perhaps for years. When one is 
in misery ! . . . Chere belle,' she added* turning to 
Miss Spencer, ' you have forgotten the cognac ! ' 



FOUR MEETINGS 333 

I detained Caroline Spencer as, after looking a 
moment in silence at the little table, she was turning 
away to procure this missing delicacy. I silently gave 
her my hand in farewell. She looked very tired, but 
there was a strange hint of prospective patience in her 
severely mild little face. I thought she was rather 
glad I was going. Mr. Mixter had risen to his feet and 
was pouring out the Countess's coffee. As I went back 
past the Baptist church I reflected that poor Miss 
Spencer had been right in her presentiment that she 
should still see something of that dear old Europe. 



EGBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

18501894 

THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 

DENIS DE BEATTLIEU was not yet two-and-twenty, 
but he counted himself a grown man, and a very accom- 
plished cavalier into the bargain. Lads were early 
formed hi that rough, warfaring epoch ; and when 
one has been in a pitched battle and a dozen raids, 
has killed one's man in an honourable fashion, and 
knows a thing or two of strategy and mankind, a certain 
swagger hi the gait is surely to be pardoned. He had 
put up his horse with due care, and supped with due 
deliberation ; and then, in a very agreeable frame of 
mind, went out to pay a visit in the grey of the evening. 
It was not a very wise proceeding on the young man's 
part. He would have done better to remain beside 
the fire or go decently to bed. For the town was full 
of the troops of Burgundy and England under a mixed 
command ; and though Denis was there on safe- 
conduct, his safe-conduct was like to serve him little 
on a chance encounter. 

It was September 1429; the weather had fallen 
sharp ; a flighty piping wind, laden with showers, beat 
about the township ; and the dead leaves ran riot along 
the streets. Here and there a window was already 
lighted up ; and the noise of men-at-arms making 
merry over supper within came forth in fits and was 
swallowed up and carried away by the wind. The night 
fell swiftly ; the flag of England, fluttering on the 
spire-top, grew ever fainter and fainter against the 
flying clouds a black speck 1'ke a swallow in the 

334 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 335 

tumultuous, leaden chaos of the sky. As the night fell 
the wind rose, and began to hoot under archways and 
roar amid the tree-tops in the valley below the town. 

Denis de Beaulieu walked fast and was soon knocking 
at his friend's door ; but though he promised himself 
to stay only a little while and make an early return, his 
welcome was so pleasant, and he found so much to 
delay him, that it was already long past midnight 
before he said good-bye upon the threshold. The wind 
had fallen again in the meanwhile ; the night was as 
black as the grave ; not a star, nor a glimmer of moon- 
^hine, slipped through the canopy of cloud. Denis 
was ill-acquainted with the intricate lanes of Chateau 
Landon ; even by daylight he had found some trouble 
hi picking his way ; and in this absolute darkness he 
soon lost it altogether. He was certain of one thing 
only to keep mounting the hill ; for his friend's house 
lay at the lower end, or tail, of Chateau Landon, while 
the inn was up at the head, under the great church 
spire. With this clue to go upon he stumbled and 
groped forward, now breathing more freely in open 
places where there was a good slice of sky overhead, 
now feeling along the wall in stifling closes. It is an 
eerie and mysterious position to be thus submerged 
in opaque blackness in an almost unknown town. The 
silence is terrifying in its possibilities. The touch of 
cold window bars to the exploring hand startles the man 
like the touch of a toad ; the inequalities of the pave- 
ment shake his heart into his mouth ; a piece of denser 
darkness threatens an ambuscade or a chasm in the 
pathway ; and where the air is brighter, the houses 
put on strange and bewildering appearances, as if to 
lead him farther from his way. For Denis, who had 
to regain his inn without attracting notice, there 
was real danger as well as mere discomfort in the walk ; 
and he went warily and boldly at once, and at every 
corner paused to make an observation. 

He had been for some time threading a lane so 



336 EGBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

narrow that he could touch a wall with either hand, 
when it began to open out and go sharply downward. 
Plainly this lay no longer in the direction of his inn ; 
but the hope of a little more light tempted him forward 
to reconnoitre. The lane ended in a terrace with a 
bartizan wall, which gave an outlook between high 
houses, as out of an embrasure, into the valley lying 
dark and formless several hundred feet below. Denis 
looked down, and could discern a few tree- tops waving 
and a single speck of brightness where the river ran 
across a weir. The weather was clearing up, and the 
sky had lightened, so as to show the outline of the 
heavier clouds and the dark margin of the hills. By 
the uncertain glimmer, the house on his left hand should 
be a place of some pretensions ; it was surmounted by 
several pinnacles and turret-tops ; the round stern of 
a chapel, with a fringe of flying buttresses, projected 
boldly from the main block ; and the door was sheltered 
under a deep porch carved with figures and overhung 
by two long gargoyles. The windows of the chapel 
gleamed through their intricate tracery with a light 
as of many tapers, and threw out the buttresses and 
the peaked roof in a more intense blackness against 
the sky. It was plainly the hotel of some great family 
of the neighbourhood ; and as it reminded Denis of a 
town house of his own at Bourges, he stood for some 
time gazing up at it and mentally gauging the skill 
of the architects and the consideration of the two 
families. 

There seemed to be no issue to the terrace but the 
" lane by which he had reached it ; he could only retrace 
his steps, but he had gained some notion of his where- 
abouts, and hoped by this means to hit the main 
thoroughfare and speedily regain the inn. He was 
reckoning without that chapter of accidents which was 
to make this night memorable above all others in his 
career ; for he had not gone back above a hundred 
yards before he saw a light coming to meet him, and 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 337 

heard loud voices speaking together in the echoing 
narrows of the lane. It was a party of men-at-arms 
going the night round with torches. Denis assured 
himself that they had all been making free with the 
wine-bowl, and were in no mood to be particular about 
safe- conducts or the niceties of chivalrous war. It was 
as like as not that they would kill him like a dog and 
leave him where he fell. The situation was inspiriting 
bwfc nervous. Their own torches would conceal him 
from sight, he reflected ; and he hoped that they would 
drown the noise of his footsteps with their own empty 
voices. If he were but fleet and silent, he might evade 
their notice altogether. 

Unfortunately, as he turned to beat a retreat, his 
foot rolled upon a pebble ; he fell against the wall with 
an ejaculation, and his sword rang loudly on the stones. 
Two or three voices demanded who went there some 
in French, some in English ; but Denis made no reply, 
and ran the faster down the lane. Once upon the 
terrace, he paused to look back. They still kept calling 
after him, and just then began to double the pace in 
pursuit, with a considerable clank of armour, and great 
tossing of the torchlight to and fro in the narrow jaws 
of the passage. 

Denis cast a look around and darted into the 
porch. There he might escape observation, or if 
that were too much to* expect was in a capital 
posture whether for parley or defence. So thinking, 
he drew his sword and tried to set his back against the 
door. To his surprise, it yielded behind his weight ; 
and though he turned in a moment, continued to swing 
back on oiled and noiseless hinges, until it stood wide 
open on a black interior. When things fall out oppor- 
tunely for the person concerned, he is not apt to be 
critical about the how or why, his own immediate 
personal convenience seeming a sufficient reason for 
the strangest oddities and revolutions in our sublunary 
things ; and so Denis, without a moment's hesitation, 



338 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

stepped within and partly closed the door behind him 
to conceal his place of refuge. Nothing was further 
from his thoughts than to close it altogether ; but for 
some inexplicable reason perhaps by a spring or a 
weight the ponderous mass of oak whipped itself out 
of his fingers and clanked to, with a formidable rumble 
and a noise like the falling of an automatic bar. 

The round, at that very moment, debouched upon 
the terrace and proceeded to summon him with showts 
and curses. He heard them ferreting in the dark 
corners ; and the stock of a lance even rattled along the 
outer surface of the door behind which he stood ; but 
these gentlemen were in too high a humour to be long 
delayed, and soon made off down a corkscrew pathway 
which had escaped Denis's observation, and passed out 
of sight and hearing along the battlements of the 
town. 

Denis breathed again. He gave them a few minutes' 
grace for fear of accidents, and then groped about for 
some means of opening the door and slipping forth 
again. The inner surface was quite smooth, not a 
handle, not a moulding, not a projection of any sort. 
He got his finger-nails round the edges and pulled, but 
the mass was immovable. He shook it, it was as firm 
as a rock. Denis de Beaulieu frowned and gave vent 
to a little noiseless whistle. What ailed the door ? he 
wondered. Why was it open ? How came it to shut 
so easily and so effectually after him ? There was 
something obscure and underhand about all this that 
was little to the young man's fancy. It looked like a 
snare ; and yet who could suppose a snare in such a 
quiet by-street and in a house of so prosperous and even 
noble an exterior ? And yet snare or no snare, 
intentionally or unintentionally here he was, prettily 
trapped ; and for the life of him he could see no way 
out of it again. The darkness began to weigh upon him . 
He gave ear ; all was silent without, but within and 
close by he seemed to catch a faint sighing, a faint 



THE SIRE BE MALETROIT'S DOOR 339 

sobbing rustle, a little stealthy creak as though many 
persons were at his side, holding themselves quite still, 
and governing even their respiration with the extreme 
of slyness. The idea went to his vitals with a shock, 
and he faced about suddenly as if to defend his life. 
Then, for the first time, he became aware of a light 
about the level of his eyes and at some distance in the 
interior of the house a vertical thread of light, widen- 
ing towards the bottom, such as might escape between 
two wings of arras over a doorway. To see anything 
was a relief to Denis ; it was like a piece of solid ground 
to a man labouring in a morass ; his mind seized upon 
it with avidity ; and he stood staring at it and trying 
to piece together some logical conception of his sur- 
roundings. Plainly there was a flight of steps ascend- 
ing from his own level to that of this illuminated door- 
way ; and indeed he thought he could make out another 
thread of light, as fine as a needle and as faint as 
phosphorescence, which might very well be reflected 
along the polished wood of a handrail. Since he had 
begun to suspect that he was not alone, his heart had 
continued to beat with smothering violence, and an 
intolerable desire for action of any sort had possessed 
itself of his spirit. He was in deadly peril, he believed. 
What could be more natural than to mount the stair- 
case, lift the curtain, and confront his difficulty at once ? 
At least he would be dealing with something tangible ; 
at least he would be no longer in the dark. He stepped 
slowly forward with outstretched hands, until his foot 
struck the bottom step ; then he rapidly scaled the 
stairs, stood for a moment to compose his expression, 
lifted the arras and went in. 

He found himself in a large apartment of polished 
stone. There were three doors ; one on eaeh of three 
sides ; all similarly curtained with tapestry. The 
fourth side was occupied by two large windows and a 
great stone chimney-piece, carved with the arms of the 
Maletroits. Denis recognized the bearings, and was 



340 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

gratified to find himself in such good hands. The room 
was strongly illuminated ; but it contained little 
furniture except a heavy table and a chair or two, the 
hearth was innocent of fire, and the pavement was but 
sparsely strewn with rushes clearly many days old. 

On a high chair beside the chimney, and directly 
facing Denis as he entered, sat a little old gentleman 
in a fur tippet. He sat with his legs crossed and his 
hands folded, and a cup of spiced wine stood by his 
elbow on a bracket on the wall. His countenance had 
a strongly masculine cast ; not properly human, but 
such as we see in the bull, the goat, or the domestic 
boar ; something equivocal and wheedling, something 
greedy, brutal, and dangerous. The upper lip was 
inordinately full, as though swollen by a blow or a 
toothache ; and the smile, the peaked eyebrows, and 
the small, strong eyes were quaintly and almost 
comically evil in expression. Beautiful white hair 
hung straight all round his head, like a saint's, and fell 
in a single curl upon the tippet. His beard and mous- 
tache were the pink of venerable sweetness. Age, 
probably in consequence of inordinate precautions, 
had left no mark upon his hands ; and the Maletroit 
hand was famous. It would be difficult to imagine 
anything at once so fleshy and so delicate in design ; 
the taper, sensual fingers were like those of one of 
Leonardo's women ; the fork of the thumb made a 
dimpled protuberance when closed ; the nails were 
perfectly shaped, and of a dead, surprising whiteness. 
It rendered his aspect tenfold more redoubtable, that a 
man with hands like these should keep them devoutly 
folded in his lap like a virgin martyr that a man with 
so intense and startling an expression of face should 
sit patiently on his seat and contemplate people with 
an unwinking stare, like a god, or a god's statue. His 
quiescence seemed ironical and treacherous, it fitted 
so poorly with his looks. 

Such was Alain, Sire de Maletroit. 



THE SIRE DE MALETKOIT'S DOOR 341 

Denis and he looked silently at each other for a 
second or two. 

' Pray step in,' said the Sire de Maletroit. ' I have 
been expecting you all the evening.' 

He had not risen, but he accompanied his words 
with a smile, and a slight but courteous inclination of 
the head. Partly from the smile, partly from the 
strange musical murmur with which the Sire prefaced 
his observation, Denis felt a strong shudder of disgust 
go through his marrow. And what with disgust and 
honest confusion of mind, he could scarcely get words 
together in reply. 

' I fear,' he said, ' that this is a double accident. J 
am not the person you suppose me. It seems you 
were looking for a visit ; but for my part, nothing was 
further from my thoughts nothing could be more 
contrary to my wishes than this intrusion.' 

' Well, well,' replied the old gentleman indulgently, 
' here you are, which is the main point. Seat 
yourself, my friend, and put yourself entirely at your 
ease. We shall arrange our little affairs presently.' 

Denis perceived that the matter was still compli- 
cated with some misconception, and he hastened to 
continue his explanations. 

' Your door . . . ' he began. 

' About my door ? ' asked the other, raising his 
peaked eyebrows. * A little piece of ingenuity.' And 
he shrugged his shoulders. * A hospitable fancy ! 
By your own account, you were not desirous of making 
my acquaintance. We old people look for such reluc- 
tance now and then ; and when it touches our honour, 
we cast about until we find some way of overcoming 
it. You arrive uninvited, but believe me, very 
welcome.' 

' You persist in error, sir,' said Denis. ' There can 
be no question between you and me. I am a stranger 
in this country-side. My name is Denis, damoiseau 
de Beaulieu. If you see me in your house, it is only ' 



342 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

' My young friend,' interrupted the other, ' you will 
permit me to have my own ideas on that subject. They 
probably differ from yours at the present moment,' 
he added with a leer, ' but time will show which of us 
is in the right.' 

Denis was convinced he had to do with a lunatic. 
He seated himself with a shrug, content to wait the 
upshot ; and a pause ensued, during which he thought 
he could distinguish a hurried gabbling as of prayer 
from behind the arras immediately opposite him. 
Sometimes there seemed to be but one person engaged, 
sometimes two ; and the vehemence of the voice, low 
as it was, seemed to indicate either great haste or an 
agony of spirit. It occurred to him that this piece of 
tapestry covered the entrance to the chapel he had 
noticed from without. 

The old gentleman meanwhile surveyed Denis from 
head to foot with a smile, and from time to time 
emitted little noises like a bird or a mouse, which 
seemed to indicate a high degree of satisfaction. This 
state of matters became rapidly insupportable ; and 
Denis, to put an end to it, remarked politely that the 
wind had gone down. 

The old gentleman fell into a fit of silent laughter, 
so prolonged and violent that he became quite red in 
the face. Denis got upon his feet at once, and put on 
his hat with a flourish. 

' Sir,' he said, ' if you are in your wits, you have 
affronted me grossly. If you are out of them, I flatter 
myself I can find better employment for my brains 
than to talk with lunatics. My conscience is clear ; you 
have made a fool of me from the first moment ; you 
have refused to hear my explanations ; and now there 
is no power under God will make me stay here any 
longer ; and if I cannot make my way out in a more 
decent fashion, I "will hack your door in pieces with my 
sword." 

The Sire de Maletroit raised his right hand and 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 343 

wagged it at Denis with the fore and little fingers 
extended. 

' My dear nephew,' he said, ' sit down.' 

' Nephew ! ' retorted Denis, ' you lie in your throat '; 
and he snapped his fingers in his face. 

' Sit down, you rogue ! ' cried the old gentleman, 
in a sudden, harsh voice, like the barking of a dog. 
' Do you fancy,' he went on, i that when I had made 
my little contrivance for the door I had stopped short 
with that ? If you prefer to be bound hand and foot 
till your bones ache, rise and try to go away. If you 
choose to remain a free young buck, agreeably convers- 
ing with an old gentleman why, sit where you are in 
peace, and God be with you.' 

4 Do you mean I am a prisoner ? ' demanded Denis. 

* I state the facts,' replied the other. ' I would rather 
leave the conclusion to yourself.' 

Denis sat down again. Externally he managed to 
keep pretty calm ; but within, he was now boiling 
with anger, now chilled with apprehension. He no 
longer felt convinced that he was dealing with a mad- 
man. And if the old gentleman was sane, what, in 
God's name, had he to look for ? What absurd or 
tragical adventure had befallen him ? What counten- 
ance was he to assume ? 

While he was thus unpleasantly reflecting, the arras 
that overhung the chapel door was raised, and a tall 
priest in his robes came forth and, giving a long, keen 
stare at Denis, said something in an undertone to Sire 
de Maletroit. 

4 She is in a better frame of spirit ? ' asked the latter. 

* She is more resigned, messire,' replied the priest. 
' Now the Lord help her, she is hard to please ! ' 

sneered the old gentleman. 4 A likely stripling not 
ill-born and of her own choosing, too ? Why, what 
more would the jade have ? ' 

4 The situation is not usual for a young damsel,' said 
the other, ' and somewhat trying to her blushes.' 



344 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

* She should have thought of that before she began 
. the dance ? It was none of my choosing, God knows 
that : but since she is in it, by our Lady, she shall carry 
it to the end.' And then addressing Denis, ' Monsieur 
de Beaulieu,' he asked, ' may I present you to my niece ? 
She has been waiting your arrival, I may say, with 
even greater impatience than myself.' 

Denis had resigned himself with a "good grace all 
he desired was to know the worst of it as speedily as 
possible ; so he rose at once, and bowed in acquiescence. 
The Sire de Maletroit followed his example and limped, 
with the assistance of the chaplain's arm, towards the 
chapel door. The priest pulled aside the arras, and all 
three entered. The building had considerable archi- 
tectural pretensions. A light groining sprang from 
six stout columns, and hung down in two rich pendants 
from the centre of the vault. The place terminated 
behind the altar in a round end, embossed and honey- 
combed with a superfluity of ornament in relief, and 
pierced by many little windows shaped like stars, 
trefoils, or wheels. These windows were imperfectly 
glazed, so that the night air circulated freely in the 
chapel. The tapers, of which there must have been 
half a hundred burning on the altar, were unmercifully 
blown about ; and the light went through many 
different phases of brilliancy and semi-eclipse. On 
the steps in front of the altar knelt a young girl richly 
attired as a bride. A chill settled over Denis as he 
observed her costume ; he fought with desperate energy 
against the conclusion that was being thrust upon his 
mind ; it could not it should not be as he feared. 

' Blanche,' said the Sire, in his most flute-like tones, 
' I have brought a friend to see you, my little girl ; turn 
round and give him your pretty hand. It is good to 
be devout ; but it is necessary to be polite, my niece.' 

The girl rose to her feet and turned towards the new- 
comers. She moved all of a piece ; and shame and 
exhaustion were expressed in every line of her fresh 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 345 

young body ; and she held her head down and kept her 
eyes upon the pavement, as she came slowly forward. 
In the course of her advance, her eyes fell upon Denis 
de Beaulieu's feet feet of which he was justly vain, be 
it remarked, and wore in the most elegant accoutrement 
even while travelling. She paused started, as if his 
yellow boots had conveyed some shocking meaning 
and glanced suddenly up into the wearer's countenance. 
Their eyes met ; shame gave place to horror and terror 
in her looks ; the blood left her lips ; with a piercing 
scream she covered her face with her hands and sank 
upon the chapel floor. 

' That is not the man ! ' she cried. * My uncle ; that 
is not the man ! ' 

The Sire de Maletroit chirped agreeably. * Of course 
not,' he said, ' I expected as much. It was so unfortu- 
nate you could not remember his name.' 

' Indeed,' she cried, ' indeed, I have never seen this 
person till this moment I have never so much as set 
eyes upon him I never wish to see him again. Sir,' 
she said, turning to Denis, ' if you are a gentleman, 
you will bear me out. Have I ever seen you have 
you ever seen me before this accursed hour ? ' 

4 To speak for myself, I have never had that pleasure,' 
answered the young man. ' This is the first time, 
messire, that I have met with your engaging niece.' 

The old gentleman shrugged his shoulders. 

' I am distressed to hear it,' he said. ' But it is 
never too late to begin. I had little more acquaintance 
with my own late lady ere I married her ; which 
proves,' he added with a grimace, ' that these im- 
promptu marriages may often produce an excellent 
understanding in the long-run. As the bridegroom is 
to have a voice in the matter, I will give him two hours 
to make up for lost time before we proceed with the 
ceremony.' And he turned towards the door, followed 
by the clergyman. 

The girl was on her feet in a moment. ' My uncle, 



346 ROBERT LOUTS STEVENSON 

you cannot be in earnest,' she said. ' I declare before 
God I will stab myself rather than be forced on that 
young man. The heart rises at it ; God forbids such 
marriages ; you dishonour your white hair. Oh, my 
uncle, pity me ! There is not a woman in all the world 
but would prefer death to such a nuptial. Is it 
possible,' she added, faltering ' is it possible that you 
do not believe me that you still think this ' and she 
pointed at Denis with a tremor of anger and contempt 
' that you still think this to be the man ? ' 

' Frankly,' said the old gentleman, pausing on the 
threshold, ' I do. But let me explain to you once for 
all, Blanche de Maletroit, my way of thinking about 
this affair. When you took it into your head to 
dishonour my family and the name that I have borne, 
in peace and war, for more than threescore years, you 
forfeited, not only the right to question my designs, but 
that of looking me in the face. If your father had been 
alive, he would have spat on you and turned you out 
of doors. His was the hand of iron. You may bless 
your God you have only to deal with the hand of 
velvet, mademoiselle. It was my duty to get you 
married without delay. Out of pure goodwill, I have 
tried to find your own gallant for you. And I believe 
I have succeeded. But before God and all the holy 
angels, Blanche de Maletroit, if I have not, I care not 
one jack-straw. So let me recommend you to be polite 
to our young friend ; for upon my word, your next 
groom may be less appetizing.' 

And with that he went out, with the chaplain at his 
heels ; and the arras fell behind the pair. 

The girl turned upon Denis with flashing eyes. 

' And what, sir,' she demanded, ' may be the meaning 
of all this ? ' 

4 God knows,' returned Denis gloomily, ( I am a 
prisoner in this house, which seems full of mad people. 
More I know not ; and nothing do I understand.' 

' And pray how came you here ? ' she asked. 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 347 

He told her as briefly as he could. ' For the rest,' 
he added, ' perhaps you will follow my example, and 
tell me the answer to all these riddles, and what, in 
God's name, is like to be the end of it.' 

She stood silent for a little, and he could see her lips 
tremble and her tearless eyes burn with a feverish 
lustre. Then she pressed her forehead in both 
hands. 

' Alas, how my head aches ! ' she said wearily ' to 
say nothing of my poor heart ! But it is due to you 
to know my story, unmaidenly as it must seem. I am 
called Blanche de Maletroit: I have been without 
father or mother for oh ! for as long as I can recollect, 
and indeed I have been most unhappy all my life. 
Three months ago a young captain began to stand near 
me every day in church. I could see that I pleased 
him ; I am much to blame, but I was so glad that any 
one should love me ; and when he passed me a letter, 
I took it home with me and read it with great pleasure. 
Since that time he has written many. He was so 
anxious to speak with me, poor fellow ! and kept asking 
me to leave the door open some evening that we might 
have two words upon the stair. For he knew how 
much my uncle trusted me.' She gave something like 
a sob at that, and it was a moment before she could go 
on. ' My uncle is a hard man, but he is very shrewd,' 
she said at last. ' He has performed many feats in 
war, and was a great person at court, and much trusted 
by Queen Isabeau in old days. How he came to sus- 
pect me I cannot tell ; but it is hard to keep anything 
from his knowledge ; and this morning, as we came 
from mass, he took my hand in his, forced it open, and 
read my little billet, walking by my side all the while. 
When he had finished, he gave it back to me with great 
politeness. It contained another request to have the 
door left open ; and this has been the ruin of us all. 
My uncle kept me strictly in my room until evening, 
and then ordered me to dress myself as you see me 



348 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

a hard mockery for a young girl ; do you not think so ? 
I suppose, when he could not prevail with me to tell 
him the young captain's name, he must have laid a trap 
for him : into which, alas ! you have fallen in the anger 
of God. I looked for much confusion ; for how could 
I tell whether he was willing to take me for his wife 
on these sharp terms ? He might have been trifling 
with me from the first ; or I might have made myself 
too cheap in his eyes. But truly I had not looked for 
such a shameful punishment as this ! I could not 
think that God would let a girl be so disgraced before 
a young man. And now I have told you all ; and I 
can scarcely hope that you will not despise me.' 

Denis made her a respectful inclination. 

' Madam/ he said, ' you have honoured me by your 
confidence. f It remains for me to prove that I am not 
unworthy oi the honour. Is Messire de Maletroit at 
hand ? ' 

' I believe he is writing in the salle without,' she 
answered. 

' May I lead you thither, madam ? ' asked Denis, 
offering his hand with his most courtly bearing. 

She accepted it ; and the pair passed out of the 
chapel, Blanche in a very drooping and shamefast 
condition, but Denis strutting and ruffling in the 
consciousness of a mission, and the boyish certainty 
of accomplishing it with honour. 

The Sire de Maletroit rose to meet them with an 
ironical obeisance. 

' Sir,' said Denis, with the grandest possible air, ' I 
believe I am to have some say in the matter of this mar- 
riage ; and let me tell you at once, I will be no party 
to forcing the inclination of this young lady. Had it 
been freely offered to me, I should have been proud to 
accept her hand, for I perceive she is as good as she is 
beautiful ; but as things are, I have now the honour, 
messire, of refusing.' 

Blanche looked at him with gratitude in her eyes ; 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 349 

but the old gentleman only smiled and smiled, until his 
smile grew positively sickening to Denis. 

' I am afraid,' he said, ' Monsieur de Beaulieu, that 
you do not perfectly understand the choice I have to 
offer you. Follow me, I beseech you, to this window.' 
And he led the way to one of the large windows which 
stood open on the night. ' You observe,' he went on, 
' there is an iron ring in the upper masonry, and reeved 
through that a very efficacious rope. Now, mark my 
words : if you should find your disinclination to my 
niece's person insurmountable, I shall have you hanged 
out of this window before sunrise. I shall only proceed 
to such an extremity with the greatest regret, you may- 
believe me. For it is not at all your death that I desire, 
but my mace's establishment in life. At the same time, 
it must come to that if you prove obstinate. Your 
family, Monsieur de Beaulieu, is very well in its way ; 
but if you sprang from Charlemagne, you should not 
refuse the hand of a Maletroit with impunity not if 
she had been as common as the Paris road not if she 
were as hideous as the gargoyle over my door. Neither 
my niece nor you, nor my own private feelings, move 
me at all in this matter. The honour of my house has 
been compromised ; I believe you to be the guilty 
person ; at least you are now in the secret ; and you 
can hardly wonder if I request you to wipe out the stain. 
If you will not, your blood be on your own head ! It 
will be no great satisfaction to me to have your inter- 
esting relics kicking their heels in the breeze below my 
windows ; but half a loaf is better than no bread, and 
if I cannot cure the dishonour, I shall at least stop the 
scandal.' 

There was a pause. 

' I believe there are other ways of settling such 
imbroglios among gentlemen,' said Denis. ' You wear 
a sword, and I hear you have used it with distinction.' 

The Sire de Maletroit made a signal to the chaplain, 
who crossed the room with long silent strides and raised 



350 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

the ajras over the third of the three doors. It was 
only a moment before he let it fall again ; but Denis had 
time to see a dusky passage full of armed men. 

' When I was a little younger, I should have been 
delighted to honour you, Monsieur de Beaulieu,' said 
Sire Alain ; ' but I am now too old. Faithful retainers 
are the sinews of age, and I must employ the strength 
I have. This is one of the hardest things to swallow 
as a man grows up in years ; but with a little patience, 
even this becomes habitual. You and the lady seem 
to prefer the salle for what remains of your two hours ; 
and as I have no desire to cross your preference, I shall 
"resign it to your use with all the pleasure in the world . 
No haste ! ' he added, holding up his hand, as he saw 
a dangerous look come into Denis de Beauiieu's face. 
' If your mind revolts against hanging, it will be time 
enough two hours hence to throw yourself out of the 
window or upon the pikes of my retainers. Two hours 
of life are always two hours. A great many things 
may turn up in even as little a while as that. And, 
besides, if I understand her appearance, my niece has 
still something to say to you. You will not disfigure 
your last hours by a want of politeness to a lady ? ' 

Denis looked at Blanche, and she made him an im- 
ploring gesture. 

It is likely that the old gentleman was hugely 
pleased at this symptom of an understanding ; for he 
smiled on both, and added sweetly : ' If you will give 
me your word of honour, Monsieur de Beaulieu, to 
await my return at the end of the two hours before 
attempting anything desperate, I shall withdraw my 
retainers, and let you speak in greater privacy with 
mademoiselle.' 

Denis again glanced at the girl, who seemed to 
beseech him to agree. 

' I give you my word of honour,' he said. 

Messire de Maletroit bowed, and proceeded to limp 
about the apartment, clearing his throat the while 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 351 

with that odd musical chirp which had already grown 
so irritating in the ears of Denis de Beaulieu. He first 
possessed himself of some papers which lay upon the 
table ; then he went to the mouth of the passage and 
appeared to give an order to the men behind the arras ; 
and lastly, he hobbled out through the door by which 
Denis had come in, turning upon the threshold to 
address a last smiling bow to the young couple, and 
followed by the chaplain with a hand-lamp. 

No sooner were they alone than Blanche advanced 
towards Denis with her hands extended. Her face 
was flushed and excited, and her eyes shone with tears. 

' You shall not die ! ' she cried, ' you shall marry 
me after all.' 

* You seem to think, madam,' replied Denis, ' that I 
stand much in fear of death.' 

' Oh no, no,' she said, ' I see you are no poltroon. 
It is for my own sake I could not bear to have you 
slain for such a scruple.' 

4 1 am afraid,' returned Denis, ' that you underrate 
the difficulty, madam. What you may be too generous 
to refuse, I may be too proud to accept. In a moment 
of noble feeling towards me, you forgot what you per- 
haps owe to others.' 

He had the decency to keep his eyes upon the floor 
as he said this, and after he had finished, so as not 
to spy upon her confusion. She stood silent for a 
moment, then walked 'suddenly away, and falling on 
her uncle's chair, fairly burst out sobbing. Denis was 
in the acme of embarrassment. He looked round, as 
if to seek for inspiration, and seeing a stool, plumped 
down upon it for something to do. There he sat, 
playing with the guard of his rapier, and wishing him- 
self dead a thousand times over, and buried in the 
nastiest kitchen -heap in France. His eyes wandered 
round the apartment, but found nothing to arrest them. 
There were such wide spaces between the furniture, the 
light fell so baldly and cheerlessly over all, the dark 



352 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

outside air looked in so coldly through the windows, 
that he thought he had never seen a church so vast, 
nor a tomb so melancholy. The regular sobs of 
Blanche de Maletroit measured out the time like the 
ticking of a clock. He read the device upon the shield 
over and over again, until his eyes became obscured ; 
he stared into shadowy corners until he imagined they 
were swarming with horrible animals ; and every now 
and again he awoke with a start, to remember that his 
last two hours were running, and death was on the 
march. 

Oftener and oftener, as the time went on, did his 
glance settle on the girl herself. Her face was bowed 
forward and covered with her hands, and she was 
shaken at intervals by the convulsive hiccup of grief. 
Even 'thus she was not an unpleasant object to dwell 
upon, so plump and yet so fine, with a warm brown 
skin, and the most beautiful hair, Denis thought, in 
the whole world of womankind. Her hands were like 
her uncle's ; but they were more in place at the end of 
her young arms, and looked infinitely soft and caressing. 
He remembered how her blue eyes had shone upon 
him, full of anger, pity, and innocence. And the more 
he dwelt on her perfections, the uglier death looked, 
and the more deeply was he smitten with penitence at 
her continued tears. Now he felt that no man could 
have the courage to leave a world which contained 
so beautiful a creature ; and now he would have given 
forty minutes of his last hour to unsay this cruel 
speech. 

Suddenly a hoarse and ragged peal of cockcrow 
rose to their ears from the dark valley below the 
windows. And this shattering noise in the silence of 
all around was like a light in a dark place, and shook 
them both out of their reflections. 

1 Alas, can I do nothing to help you ? ' she said, 
looking up. 

1 Madam,' replied Denis, with a fine irrelevancy, 



THE SIRE BE MALETROlT'S DOOR 353 

' if I have said anything to wound you, believe me, 
it was for your own sake and not for mine.' 

She thanked him with a tearful look. 

4 1 feel your position cruelly,' he went on. ' The 
world has been bitter hard on you. Your uncle is a 
disgrace to mankind. Believe me, madam, there is 
no young gentleman in all France but would be glad 
of my opportunity, to die in doing you a momentary 
service/ 

' I know already that you can be very brave and 
generous,' she answered. ' What I want to know is 
whether I can serve you now or afterwards,' she added, 
with a quaver. 

4 Most certainly,' he answered with a smile. ' Let 
me sit beside you as if I were a friend, instead of a 
foolish intruder ; try to forget how awkwardly we are 
placed to one another ; make my last moments go 
pleasantly ; and you will do me the chief service 
possible.' 

' You are very gallant,' she added, with a yet deeper 
sadness . . . ' very gallant . . . and it somehow pains 
me. But draw nearer, if you please ; and if you find 
anything to say to me, you will at least make certain 
of a very friendly listener. Ah ! Monsieur de Beaulieu,' 
she broke forth ' ah ! Monsieur de Beaulieu, how can 
I look you in the face ? ' And she fell to weeping 
again with a renewed effusion. 

' Madam,' said Denis, taking her hand in both of 
his, * reflect on the little time I have before me, and the 
great bitterness into which I am cast by the sight of 
your distress. Spare me, in my last moments, the 
spectacle of what I cannot cure even with the sacrifice 
of my life.' 

' I am very selfish,' answered Blanche. ' I will be 
braver, Monsieur de Beaulieu, for your sake. But think 
if I can do you no kindness in the future if you have 
no friends to whom I could carry your adieux. Charge 
me as heavily as you can ; every burden will lighten, 



354 EGBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

by so little, the invaluable gratitude I owe you. Put 
it in my power to do something more for you than 
weep.' 

' My mother is married again, and has a young family 
to care for. My brother Guichard will inherit my fiefs ; 
and if I am not in error, that will content him amply 
for my death. Life is a little vapour that passeth 
away, as we are told by those in holy orders. When 
a man is in a f air way and sees all life open in front of 
him, he seems to himself to make a very important 
figure in the world. His horse whinnies to him ; the 
trumpets blow and the girls look out of window 
as he rides into town before his company ; he receives 
many assurances of trust and regard sometimes by 
express in a letter sometimes face to face, with persons 
of great consequence falling on his neck. It is not 
wonderful if his head is turned for a time. But once 
he is dead, were he as brave as Hercules or as wise as 
Solomon, he is soon forgotten. It is not ten years 
since my father fell, with many other knights around 
him, in a very fierce encounter, and I do not think that 
any one of them, nor so much as the name of the fight, 
is now remembered. No, no, madam, the nearer you 
come to it, you see that death is a dark and dusty 
corner, where a man gets into his tomb and has the 
door shut after him till the Judgement Day. I have 
few friends just now, and once I am dead I shall 
have none.' 

' Ah, Monsieur de Beaulieu ! ? she exclaimed, * you 
forget Blanche de Maletroit.' 

' You have a sweet nature, madam, and you are 
pleased to estimate a little service far beyond its 
worth.' 

' It is not 'that,' she answered. * You mistake me 
if you think I am so easily touched by my own concerns. 
I say so, because you are the noblest man I have ever 
met ; because I recognize in you a spirit that would 
have made even a common person famous in the land.' 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 355 

' And yet here I die in a mousetrap with no more 
noise about it than my own squeaking,' answered he. 

A look of pain crossed her face, and she was silent 
for a little while. Then a light came into her eyes, and 
with a smile she spoke again. 

' I cannot have my champion think meanly of him- 
self. Any one who gives his life for another will be met 
in Paradise by all the heralds and angels of the Lord 
God. And you have no such cause to hang your head. 
For . . . Pray, do you think me beautiful ? ' she asked, 
with a deep flush. 

' Indeed, madam, I do,' he said. 

* I am glad of that,' she answered heartily. ' Do 
you think there are many men in France who have 
been asked in marriage by a beautiful maiden with 
her own lips and who have refused her to her face ? 
I know you men would half despise such a triumph ; but 
believe me, we women know more of what is precious 
in love. There is nothing that should set a person 
higher in his own esteem ; and we women would prize 
nothing more dearly.' 

' You are very good,' he said ; * but you cannot 
make me forget that I was asked in pity and not for 
love.' 

' 1 am not so sure of that,' she replied, holding down 
her head. ' Hear me to an end, Monsieur de Beaulieu. 
I know how you must despise me ; I feel you are right 
to do so ; I am too poor a creature to occupy one 
thought of your mind, although, alas ! you must die 
for me this morning. But when I asked you to marry 
me, indeed, and indeed, it was because I respected and 
admired you, and loved you with my whole soul, from 
the very moment that you took my part against my 
uncle. If you had seen yourself, and how noble you 
looked, you would pity rather than despise me. And 
now,' she went on, hurriedly checking him with her 
hand, ' although I have laid aside all reserve and told 
you so much, remember that I know your sentiments 



356 ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

towards me already. I would not, believe me, being 
nobly born, weary you with importunities into consent. 
I too have a pride of my own : and I declare before 
the holy mother of God, if you should now go back 
from your word already given, I would no more marry 
you than I would marry my uncle's groom.' 

Denis smiled a little bitterly. 

4 It is a small love,' he said, ' that shies at a little 
pride.' 

She made no answer, although she probably had her 
own thoughts. 

4 Come hither to the window,' he said, with a sigh. 
' Here is the dawn.' 

And indeed the dawn was already beginning. The 
hollow of the sky was full of essential daylight, colour- 
less and clean ; and the valley underneath was flooded 
with a grey reflection. A few thin vapours clung in 
the coves of the forest or lay along the winding course 
of the river. The scene disengaged a surprising effect 
of stillness, which was hardly interrupted when the 
cocks began once more to crow among the steadings. 
Perhaps the same fellow who had made so horrid a 
clangour in the darkness not half an hour before, now 
sent up the merriest cheer to greet the coming day. A 
little wind went bustling and eddying among the tree- 
tops underneath the windows. And still the daylight 
kept flooding insensibly out of the east, which was soon 
to grow incandescent and cast up that red-hot cannon- 
ball, the rising sun. 

Denis looked out over all this with a bit of a shiver. 
He had taken her hand and retained it in his almost 
unconsciously. 

4 Has the day begun already ? ' she said ; and then, 
illogically enough : i the night has been so long ! Alas ! 
what shall we say to my uncle when he returns ? ' 

4 What you will,' said Denis, and he pressed her 
fingers in his. 

She was silent. 



THE SIRE DE MALETROIT'S DOOR 357 

4 Blanche,' he said, with a swift, uncertain, passionate 
utterance, * you have seen whether I fear death. You 
must know well enough that I would as gladly leap 
out of that window into the empty air as lay a finger 
on you without your free and full consent. But if you 
care for me at all, do not let me lose my life in a mis- 
apprehension ; for I love you better than the whole 
world ; and though I will die for you blithely, it would 
be like all the joys of Paradise to live on and spend my 
life in your service.' 

As he stopped speaking, a bell began to ring loudly 
in the interior of the house ; and a clatter of armour 
in the corridor showed that the retainers were returning 
to their post, and the two hours were at an end. 

' After all that you have heard ? ' she whispered, 
leaning towards him with her lips and eyes. 

' I have heard nothing,' he replied. 

' The captain's name was Florimond de Champ- 
divers,' she said in his ear. 

* I did not hear it,' he answered, taking her supple 
body in his arms, and covered her wet face with kisses. 

A melodious chirping was audible behind, followed 
by a beautiful chuckle, and the voice of Messire de 
Maletroit wished his new nephew a good morning. 



OSCAR WILDE 

18561900 

THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 

IT was the birthday of the Infanta. She was just 
twelve years of age, and the sun was shining brightly 
in the gardens of the palace. 

Although she was a real Princess and the Infanta of 
Spain, she had only one birthday every year, just like 
the children of quite poor people, so it was naturally 
a matter of great importance to the whole country 
that she should have a really fine day for the occasion. 
And a really fine day it certainly was. The tall striped 
tulips stood straight up upon their stalks, like long 
rows of soldiers, and looked defiantly across the grass 
at the roses, and said : ' We are quite as splendid as 
you are now.' The purple butterflies fluttered about 
with gold dust on their wings, visiting each flower in 
turn ; the little lizards crept out of the crevices of the 
wall, and lay basking in the white glare ; and the 
pomegranates split and cracked with the heat, and 
showed their bleeding red hearts. Even the pale yellow 
lemons, that hung in such profusion from the moulder- 
ing trellis and along the dim arcades, seemed to have 
caught a richer colour from the wonderful sunlight, 
and the magnolia trees opened their great globe-like 
blossoms of folded ivory, and filled the air with a sweet 
heavy perfume. 

The little Princess herself walked up and down the 
terrace with her companions, and played at hide and 
seek round the stone vases and the old moss-grown 
358 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 359 

statues. On ordinary days she was only allowed to 
play with children of her own rank, so she had always to 
play alone, but her birthday was an exception, and the 
King had given orders that she was to invite any of 
her young friends whom she liked to come and amuse 
themselves with her. There was a stately grace about 
these slim Spanish children as they glided about, the 
boys with their large-plumed hats and short fluttering 
cloaks, the girls holding up the trains of their long 
brocaded gowns, and shielding the sun from their eyes 
with huge fans of black and silver. But the Infanta 
was the most graceful of all, and the most tastefully 
attired, after the somewhat cumbrous fashion of the 
day. Her robe was of grey satin, the skirt and the 
wide puffed sleeves heavily embroidered with silver, 
and the stiff corset studded with rows of fine pearls. 
Two tiny slippers with big pink rosettes peeped out 
beneath her dress as she walked. Pink and pearl was 
her great gauze fan, and in her hair, which like an 
aureole of faded gold stood out stiffly round her pale 
little face, she had a beautiful white rose. 

From a window in the palace the sad melancholy 
King watched them. Behind him stood his brother, 
Don Pedro of Aragon, whom he hated, and his con- 
fessor, the Grand Inquisitor of Granada, sat by his side. 
Sadder even than usual was the King, for as he looked 
at the Infanta bowing with childish gravity to the 
assembling courtiers, or laughing behind her fan at the 
grim Duchess of Albuquerque who always accompanied 
her, he thought of the young Queen, her mother, who 
but a short time before so it seemed to him had come 
from the gay country of France, and had withered away 
in the sombre splendour of the Spanish court, dying 
just six months after the birth of her child, and before 
she had seen the almonds blossom twice in the orchard, 
or plucked the second year's fruit from the old gnarled 
fig-tree that stood in the centre of the now grass-grown 
courtyard. So great had been his love for her that he 



360 OSCAR WILDE 

had not suffered even the grave to hide her from him. 
She had been embalmed by a Moorish physician, who 
in return for this service had been granted his life, which 
for heresy and suspicion of magical practices had been 
already forfeited, men said, to the Holy Office, and her 
body was still lying on its tapestried bier in the black 
marble chapel of the Palace, just as the monks had 
borne her in on that windy March day nearly twelve 
years before. Once every month the King, wrapped 
in a dark cloak and with a muffled lantern in his hand, 
went in and knelt by her side calling out, * M i reina ! 
Mi reina ! ' and sometimes breaking through the formal 
etiquette that in Spain governs every separate action 
of life, and sets limits even to the sorrow of a King, he 
would clutch at the pale jewelled hands in a wild agony 
of grief, and try to wake by his mad kisses "the cold 
painted face. 

To-day he seemed to see her again, as he had seen 
her first at the Castle of Fontainebleau, when he was 
but fifteen years of age, and she still younger. They 
had been formally betrothed on that occasion by the 
Papal Nuncio in the presence of the French King and 
all the Court, and he had returned to the Escurial 
bearing with him a little ringlet of yellow hair, and the 
memory of two childish lips bending down to kiss his 
hand as he stepped into his carriage. Later on had 
followed the marriage, hastily performed at Burgos, a 
small town on the frontier between the two countries, 
and the grand public entry into Madrid with . the 
customary celebration of high mass at the Church of 
La Atocha, and a more than usually solemn auto-da-fe, 
in which nearly three hundred heretics, amongst whom 
were many Englishmen, had been delivered over to the 
secular arm to be burned. 

Certainly he had loved her madly, and to the ruin, 
many thought, of his country, then at war with England 
for the possession of the empire of the New World. 
He had hardly ever permitted her to be out of his 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 361 



sight ; for her, he had forgotten, or seemed to have 
forgotten, all grave affairs of State ; and, with that 
terrible blindness that passion brings upon its servants, 
he had failed to notice that the elaborate ceremonies 
by which he sought to please her did but aggravate 
the strange malady from which she suffered. When she 
died he was, for a time, like one bereft of reason. 
Indeed, there is no doubt but that he would have 
formally abdicated and retired to the great Trappist 
monastery at Granada, of which he was already titular 
Prior, had he not been afraid to leave the little Infanta 
at the mercy of his brother, whose cruelty, even in 
Spain, was notorious, and who was suspected by many 
of having caused the Queen's death by means of a pair 
of poisoned gloves that he had presented to her on the 
occasion of her visiting his castle in Aragon. Even 
after the expiration of the three years of public mourn- 
ing that he had ordained throughout his whole do- 
minions by royal edict, he would never suffer his ministers 
to speak about any new alliance, and when the Emperor 
himself sent to him, and offered him the hand of the 
lovely Archduchess of Bohemia, his niece, in marriage, 
he bade the ambassadors tell their master that the 
King of Spain was already wedded to Sorrow, and that 
though she was but a barren bride, he loved her better 
than Beauty ; an answer that cost his crown the rich 
provinces of the Netherlands, which soon after, at the 
Emperor's instigation, revolted against him under the 
leadership of some fanatics of the Reformed Church. 

His whole married life, with its fierce, fiery-coloured 
joys and the terrible agony of its sudden ending, 
seemed to come back to him to-day as he watched the 
Infanta playing on the terrace. She had all the 
Queen's pretty petulance of manner, the same wilful 
way of tossing her head, the same proud curved beauti- 
ful mouth, the same wonderful smile vrai sourire de 
France indeed as she glanced up now and then at 
the window, or stretched out her little hand for the 



362 OSCAR WILDE 

stately Spanish gentlemen to kiss. But the shrill 
laughter of the children grated on his ears, and the 
bright pitiless sunlight mocked his sorrow, and a dull 
odour of strange spices, spices such as embalmers use, 
seemed to taint or was it fancy ? the clear morning 
air. He buried his face in his hands, and when the 
Infanta looked up again the curtains had been drawn, 
and the King had retired. 

She made a little moue of disappointment, and 
shrugged her shoulders. Surely he might have stayed 
with her on her birthday. What did the stupid State- 
affairs matter ? Or had he gone to that gloomy chapel 
where the candles were always burning, and where she 
was never allowed to enter ? How silly of him, when 
the sun was shining so brightly, and everybody was 
so happy ! Besides, he would, miss the sham bull-fight 
for which the trumpet was already sounding, to say 
nothing of the puppet-show and the other wonderful 
things. Her uncle and the Grand Inquisitor were 
much more sensible. They had come out on the terrace, 
and paid her nice compliments. So she tossed her 
pretty head, and taking Don Pedro by the hand, she 
walked slowly down the steps towards a long pavilion 
of purple silk that had been erected at the end of the 
garden, the other children following in strict order of 
precedence, those who had the longest names going 
first. 

A procession of noble boys, fantastically dressed as 
toreadors, came out to meet her, and the young Count 
of Tierra-Nueva, a wonderfully handsome lad of about 
fourteen years of age, uncovering his head with all the 
grace of a born hidalgo and grandee of Spain, led her ( 
solemnly in to a little gilt and ivory chair that was 
placed on a raised dais above the arena. The children 
grouped themselves all round, fluttering their big fans 
and whispering to each other, and Don Pedro and the 
Grand Inquisitor stood laughing at the entrance. 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 363 

Even the Duchess the Camerera-Mayor as she was 
called a thin, hard-featured woman with a yellow 
ruff, did not look quite so bad-tempered as usual, and 
something like a chill smile flitted across her wrinkled 
face and twitched her thin bloodless lips. 

It certainly was a marvellous bull-fight, and much 
nicer, the Infanta thought, than the real bull-fight 
that she had been brought to see at Seville, on the 
occasion of the visit of the Duke of Parma to her 
father. Some of the boys pranced about on richly- 
caparisoned hobby-horses brandishing long javelins 
with gay streamers of bright ribands attached to them ; 
others went on foot waving their scarlet cloaks before 
the bull, and vaulting lightly over the barrier when he 
charged them ; and as for the bull himself, he was just 
like a live bull, though he was only made of wicker-work 
and stretched hide, and sometimes insisted on running 
round the arena on his hind legs, which no live bull 
ever dreams of doing. He made a splendid fight of it 
too, and the children got so excited that they stood 
up upon the benches, and waved their lace handkerchiefs 
and cried out : Bravo toro / Bravo toro ! just as sensibly 
as if they had been grown-up people. At last, how- 
ever, after a prolonged combat, during which several 
of the hobby-horses were gored through and through, 
and their riders dismounted, the young Count of Tierra- 
Nueva brought the bull to his knees, and having 
obtained permission from the Infanta to give the coup 
de grace, he plunged his wooden sword into the neck 
of the animal with such violence that the head came 
right off, and disclosed the laughing face of little 
Monsieur de Lorraine, the son of the French Ambas- 
sador at Madrid. 

The arena was then cleared amidst much applause, 
and the dead hobby-horses dragged solemnly away by 
two Moorish pages in yellow and black liveries, and 
after a short interlude, during which a French posture- 
master performed upon the tight- rope, some Italian 



364 OSCAR WILDE 

puppets appeared in the semi-classical tragedy of 
Sophonisba on the stage of a small theatre that had 
been built up for the purpose. They acted so well, and 
their gestures were so extremely natural, that at the 
close of the play the eyes of the Infanta were quite 
dim with tears. Indeed, some of the children really 
cried, and had to be comforted with sweetmeats, and 
the Grand Inquisitor himself was so affected that he 
could not help saying to Don Pedro that it seemed 
to him intolerable that things made simply out of wood 
and coloured wax, and worked mechanically by wires, 
should be so unhappy and meet with such terrible mis- 
fortunes. 

An African juggler followed, who brought in a large 
flat basket covered with a red cloth, and having placed 
it in the centre of the arena, he took from his turban 
a curious reed pipe, and blew through it. In a few 
moments the cloth began to move, and as the pipe 
grew shriller and shriller two green and gold snakes 
put out their strange wedge-shaped heads and rose 
slowly up, swaying to and fro with the music as a plant 
sways in the water. The children, however, were 
rather frightened at their spotted hoods and quick 
darting tongues, and were much more pleased when the 
juggler made a tiny orange-tree grow out of the sand 
and bear pretty white blossoms and clusters of real 
fruit ; and when he took the fan of the little daughter 
of the Marquess de Las-Torres, and changed it into 
a blue bird that flew all around the pavilion and sang, 
their delight and amusement knew no bounds. The 
solemn minuet, too, performed by the dancing boys 
from the church of Nuestra Senora Del Pilar, was 
charming. The Infanta had never before seen this 
wonderful ceremony which takes place every year 
at Maytime in front of the high altar of the Virgin, and 
in her honour ; and indeed none of the royal family 
of Spain 'had entered the great cathedral of Saragossa 
since a mad priest, supposed by many to have been 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 365 

in the pay of Elizabeth of England, had tried to ad- 
minister a poisoned wafer to the Prince of the Asturias. 
So she had known only by hearsay of ' Our Lady's 
Dance,' as it was called, and it certainly was a beautiful 
sight. The boys wore old-fashioned court dresses of 
white velvet, and their curious three-cornered hats 
were fringed with silver and surmounted with huge 
plumes of ostrich feathers, the dazzling whiteness of 
their costumes, as they moved about in the sunlight, 
being still more accentuated by their swarthy faces 
and long black hair. Everybody was fascinated by 
the grave dignity with which they moved through the 
intricate figures of the dance, and by the elaborate 
grace of their slow gestures and stately bows ; and 
when they had finished their performance and doffed 
their great plumed hat* to the Infanta, she acknow- 
ledged their reverence with much courtesy, and made 
a vow that she would send a large wax candle to the 
shrine of Our Lady of Pilar in return for the pleasure 
that she had given her. 

A troop of handsome Egyptians as the gipsies 
were termed in those days then advanced into the 
arena, and sitting down cross-legs, in a circle, began 
to play softly upon their zithers, moving their bodies 
to the tune, and humming, almost below their breath, 
a low dreamy air. When they caught sight of Don 
Pedro they scowled at him, and some of them looked 
terrified, for only a few weeks before he had had two 
of their tribe hanged for sorcery in the market-place 
at Seville, but the pretty Infanta charmed them as she 
leaned back peeping over her fan with her great blue 
eyes, and they felt sure that one so lovely as she was 
could never be cruel to anybody. So they played on 
very gently and just touching the chords of the zithers 
with their long pointed nails, and their heads began 
to nod as though they were falling asleep. Suddenly, 
with a cry so shrill that all the children were startled 
and Don Pedro's hand clutched at the agate pammel 



366 OSCAR WILDE 

of his dagger, they leapt to their feet and whirled madly 
round the enclosure beating their tambourines, and 
chaunting some wild love-song in their strange guttural 
language. Then at another signal they all flung them- 
selves again to the ground and lay there quite still, the 
dull strumming of the zithers being the only sound that 
broke the silence. After that they had done this 
several times, they disappeared for a moment and came 
back leading a brown shaggy bear by a chain, and 
carrying on their shoulders some little Barbary apes. 
The bear stood upon his head with the utmost gravity, 
and the wizened apes played all kinds of amusing tricks 
with two gipsy boys who seemed to be their masters, 
and fought with tiny swords, and fired off guns, and 
went through a regular soldiers' drill just like the King's 
own bodyguard. In fact ths gipsies were a great 
success. 

But the funniest part of the whole morning's enter- 
tainment was undoubtedly the dancing of the little 
Dwarf. When he stumbled into the arena, waddling 
on his crooked legs and wagging his huge misshapen 
head from side to side, the children went off into a 
loud shout of delight, and the Infanta herself laughed 
so much that the Camerera was obliged to remind her 
that although there were many precedents in Spain 
for a King's daughter weeping before her equals, there 
were none for a Princess of the blood royal making so 
merry before those who were her inferiors in birth. 
The Dwarf, however, was really quite irresistible, and 
even at the Spanish Court, always noted for its culti- 
vated passion for the horrible, so fantastic a little 
monster had never been seen. It was his first appear- 
ance, too. He had been discovered only the day 
before, running wild through the forest, by two of the 
nobles who happened to have been hunting in a remote 
part of the great cork-wood that surrounded the town, 
and had been carried off by them to the Palace as a 
surprise for the Infanta ; his father, who was a poor 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 367 

charcoal-burner, being but too well pleased to get rid 
of so ugly and useless a child. Perhaps the most 
amusing thing about him was his complete unconscious- 
ness of his own grotesque appearance. Indeed he 
seemed quite happy and full of the highest spirits. 
When the children laughed, he laughed as freely and as 
joyously as any of them, and at the close of each dance 
he made them each the funniest of bows, smiling and 
nodding at them just as if he was really one of them- 
selves, and not a little misshapen thing that Nature, 
in some humorous mood, had fashioned for others 
to mock at. As for the Infanta, she absolutely fasci- 
nated him. He could not keep his eyes off her, and 
seemed to dance for her alone, and when at the close 
of the performance, remembering how she had seen 
the great ladies of the Court throw bouquets to Caffar- 
elli, the famous Italian treble, whom the Pope had sent 
from his own chapel to Madrid that he might cure the 
King's melancholy by the sweetness of his voice, she 
took out of her hair the beautiful white rose, and partly 
for a jest and partly to tease the Camerera, threw it 
to him across the arena with her sweetest smile, he took 
the whole matter, quite seriously, and, pressing the 
flower to his rough coarse lips, he put his hand upon his 
heart, and sank on one knee before her, grinning from 
ear to ear, and with his little bright eyes sparkling with 
pleasure. 

This so upset the gravity of the Infanta that she 
kept on laughing long after the little Dwarf had run out 
of the arena, and expressed a desire to her uncle that 
the dance should be immediately repeated. The 
Camerera, however, on the plea that the sun was too 
hot, decided that it would be better that her Highness 
should return without delay to the Palace, where a 
wonderful feast had been already prepared for her, 
including a real birthday cake with her own initials 
worked all over it in painted sugar and a lovely silver 
flag waving from the top. The Infanta accordingly 



36$ OSCAR WILDE 

rose up with much dignity, and having given orders 
that the little Dwarf was to dance again for her after 
the hour of siesta, and conveyed her thanks to the 
young Count of Tierra-Nueva for his charming recep- 
tion, she went back to her apartments, the children 
following in the same order in which they had entered. 

Now when the little Dwarf heard that he was to 
dance a second time before the Infanta, and by her own 
express command, he was so proud that he ran out 
into the garden, kissing the white rose in an absurd 
ecstasy of pleasure, and making the most uncouth and 
clumsy gestures of delight. 

The Flowers were quite indignant at his daring to 
intrude into their beautiful home, and when they saw 
him capering up and down the walks, and waving his 
arms above his head in such a ridiculous manner, they 
could not restrain their feelings any longer. 

4 He is really far too ugly to be allowed to play in 
any place where we are,' cried the Tulips. 

' He should drink poppy- juice, and go to sleep for a 
thousand years,' said the great scarlet Lilies, and they 
grew quite hot and angry. 

' He is a perfect horror ! ' screamed the Cactus. 
' Why, he is twisted and stumpy, and his head is com- 
pletely out of proportion with his legs. Really he 
makes me feel prickly all over, and if he comes near me 
I will sting him with my thorns.' 

* And he has actually got one of my best blooms,' 
exclaimed the White Rose-Tree. ' I gave it to the 
Infanta this morning myself, as a birthday present, 
and he has stolen it from her.' And she called out : 
* Thief, thief, thief ! ' at the top of her voice. 

Even the red Geraniums, who did not usually give 
themselves airs, and were known to have a great many 
poor relations themselves, curled up in disgust when 
they saw him, and when the Violets meekly remarked 
that though he was certainly extremely plain, still he 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 36 

could not help it, they retorted with a good deal of 
justice that that was his chief defect, and that there 
was no reason why one should admire a person because 
he was incurable ; and, indeed, some of the Violets 
themselves felt that the ugliness of the little Dwarf 
was almost ostentatious, and that he would have shown 
much better taste if he had looked sad, or at least 
pensive, instead of jumping about merrily, and throw- 
ing himself into such grotesque and silly attitudes. 

As for the old Sundial, who was an extremely remark- 
able individual, and had once told the time of day to 
no less a person than the Emperor Charles V himself, 
he was so taken aback by the little Dwarf's appearance, 
that he almost forgot to mark two whole minutes with 
his long shadowy finger, and could not help saying to 
the great milk-white Peacock, who was sunning herself 
on the balustrade, that every one knew that the chil- 
dren of Kings were Kings, and that the children of 
charcoal-burners were charcoal-burners, and that it 
was absurd to pretend that it wasn't so ; a statement 
with which the Peacock entirely agreed, and indeed 
screamed out, ' Certainly, certainly,' in such a loud, 
harsh voice, that the gold-fish who lived in the basin 
of the cool splashing fountain put their heads out of 
the water, and asked the huge stone Tritons what on 
earth was the matter. 

But somehow the Birds liked him. They had seen 
him often in the forest, dancing about like an elf after 
the eddying leaves, or crouched up in the hollow of 
some old oak-tree, sharing his nuts with the squirrels. 
They did not mind his being ugly, a bit. Why, even 
the nightingale herself, who sang so sweetly in the 
orange groves at night that sometimes the Moon leaned 
down to listen, was not much to look at after all ; and, 
besides, he ha*d been kind to them, and during that 
terribly bitter winter, when there were no berries on 
the trees, and the ground was as hard as iron, and the 
wolves had come down to the very gates of the city to 



370 OSCAR WILDE 

look for food, he had never once forgotten them, but 
had always given them crumbs out of his little hunch 
of black bread, and divided with them whatever poor 
breakfast he had. 

So they flew round and round him, just touching his 
cheek with their wings as they passed, and chattered 
to each other, and the little Dwarf was so pleased that 
he could not help showing them the beautiful white 
rose, and telling them that the Infanta herself had given 
it to him because she loved him. 

They did not understand a single word of what he 
was saying, but that made no matter, for they put their 
heads on one side, and looked wise, which is quite as 
good as understanding a thing, and very much easier. 

The Lizards also took an immense fancy to him, and 
when he grew tired of running about and flung himself 
down on the grass to rest, they played and romped all 
over him, and tried to amuse him in the best way 
they could. ' Every one cannot be as beautiful as a 
lizard,' they cried ; ' that would be too much to expect. 
And, though it sounds absurd to say so, he is really not 
so ugly after all, provided, of course, that one shuts 
one's eyes, and does not look at him.' The Lizards 
were extremely philosophical by nature, and often sat 
thinking for hours and hours together, when there 
was nothing else to do, or when the weather was too 
rainy for them to go out. 

The Flowers, however, were excessively annoyed at 
their behaviour, and at the behaviour of the birds. 
4 It only shows,' they said, ' what a vulgarizing effect 
this incessant rushing and flying about has. Well-bred 
people always stay exactly in the same place, as we do. 
No one ever saw us hopping up and down the walks, or 
galloping madly through the grass after dragon-flies. 
When we do want change of air, we send for the 
gardener, and he carries us to another bed. This is 
dignified, and as it should be. But birds and lizards 
have no sense of repose, and indeed birds have not even 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 371 

a permanent address. They are mere vagrants like 
the gipsies, and should be treated in exactly the same 
manner.' So they put their noses in the air, and looked 
very haughty, and were quite delighted when after 
some time they saw the little Dwarf scramble up from 
the grass, and make his way across the terrace to the 
palace. 

' He should certainly be kept indoors for the rest of 
his natural life,' they said. ' Look at his hunched 
back, and his crooked legs,' and they began to titter. 

But the little Dwarf knew nothing of all this. He 
liked the birds and the lizards immensely, and thought 
that the flowers were the most marvellous things in 
the whole world, except of course the Infanta, but then 
she had given him the beautiful white rose, and she 
loved him, and that made a great difference. How he 
wished that he had gone back with her ! She would 
have put him on her right hand, and smiled at him, 
and he would have never left her side, but would have 
made her his playmate, and taught her allrkinds of 
delightful tricks. For though he had never been in a 
palace before, he knew a grea't many wonderful things. 
He could make little cages out of rushes for the grass- 
hoppers to sing in, and fashion the long- jointed bamboo 
into the pipe that Pan loves to hear. He knew the 
cry of every bird, and could call the starlings from the 
tree-top, or the heron from the mere. He knew the 
trail of every animal, and could track the hare by its 
delicate footprints, and the boar by the trampled leaves. 
All the wild-dances he knew, the mad dance in red rai- 
ment with the autumn, the light dance in blue sandals 
over the corn, the dance with white snow-wreaths in 
winter, and the blossom-dance through the orchards in 
spring. He knew where the wood-pigeons built their 
nests, and once when a fowler had snared the parent 
birds, he had brought up the young ones himself, and 
had built a little dovecot for them in the cleft of a 
pollard elm. They were quite tame, and used to feed 



372 OSCAR WILDE 

out of his hands every morning. She would like the*in, 
and the rabbits that scurried about in the long fern, 
and the jays with their steely feathers and black bills, 
and the hedgehogs that could curl themselves up into 
prickly balls, and the great wise tortoises that crawled 
slowly about, shaking their heads and nibbling at the 
young leaves. Yes, she must certainly come to the 
forest and play with him. He would give her his own 
little bed, and would watch outside the window till 
dawn, to see that the wild horned cattle did not harm 
her, nor the gaunt wolves creep too near the hut. And 
at dawn he would tap at the shutters and wake her, 
and they would go out and dance together all the day 
long. It was really not a bit lonely in the forest. 
Sometimes a Bishop rode through on his white mule, 
reading out of a painted book. Sometimes in their 
green velvet caps, and their jerkins of tanned deerskin, 
the falconers passed by with hooded hawks on their 
wrists. At vintage-time came the grape-treaders, 
with purple hands and feet, wreathed with glossy ivy 
and carrying dripping skins of wine ; and the charcoal- 
burners sat round their huge braziers at night, watching 
the dry logs charring slowly in the fire, and roasting 
chestnuts in the ashes, and the robbers came out of their 
caves and made merry with them. Once, too, he had 
seen a beautiful procession winding up the long, dusty 
road to Toledo. The monks went in front singing 
sweetly, and carrying bright banners and crosses of 
gold, and then, in silver armour, with matchlocks and 
pikes, came the soldiers, and in their midst walked 
three barefooted men, in strange yellow dresses painted 
all over with wonderful figures, and carrying lighted 
candles in their hands. Certainly there was a great 
deal to look at in the forest, and when she was tired he 
would find a soft bank of moss for her, or carry her in 
his arms, for he was very strong, though he knew that 
he was not tall. He would make her a necklace of 
red bryony berries, that would be quite as prett} 7 as 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 373 

the white berries that she wore on her dress, and when 
she was tired of them she could throw them away, and 
he would find her others. He would bring her acorn - 
cups and dew-drenched anemones, and tiny glow-worms 
to be stars in the pale gold of her hair. 

But where was she ? He asked the white rose, and it 
made him no answer. The whole palace seemed asleep, 
and even where the shutters had not been closed, heavy 
curtains had been drawn across the windows to keep out 
the glare. He wandered all round looking for some place 
through which he might gain an entrance, and at last 
he caught sight of a little private door that was lying 
open. He slipped through, and found himself in a 
splendid hall, far more splendid, he feared, than the 
forest, there was so much more gilding everywhere, 
and even the floor was made of great coloured stones, 
fitted together into a sort of geometrical pattern. But 
the little Infanta was not there, only some wonderful 
white statues that looked down on him from their 
jasper pedestals, with sad blank eyes and strangely 
smiling lipte. 

At the end of the hall hung a richly embroidered 
curtain of black velvet, powdered with suns and stars, 
the King's favourite devices, and broidered on the 
colour he loved best. Perhaps she was hiding behind 
that ? He would try, at any rate. 

So he stole quietly across, and drew it aside. No ; 
there was only another room, though a prettier room, 
he thought, than the one he had just left. The walls 
were hung with a many -figured green arras of needle - 
wrought tapestry representing a hunt, the work of some 
Flemish artists who had spent more than seven years 
in its composition. It had once been the chamber of 
Jean le Fou, as he was called, that mad King who was 
so enamoured of the chase that he had often tried in 
his delirium to mount the huge rearing horses, and to 
drag down the stag on which the great hounds were 
leaping, sounding his hunting-horn, and stabbing with 



374 OSCAR WILDE 

his dagger at the pale, flying deer. It was now used as 
the council-room, and on the centre table were lying 
the red portfolios of the ministers, stamped with the 
gold tulips of Spain, and with the arms and emblems of 
the house of Hapsburg. 

The little Dwarf looked in wonder all round him, 
and was half-afraid to go on. The strange silent horse- 
men that galloped so swiftly through the long glades 
without making any noise, seemed to him like those 
terrible phantoms of whom he had heard the charcoal- 
burners speaking the Comprachos, who hunt only at 
night, and if they meet a man, turn him into a hind, and 
chase him. But he thought of the pretty Infanta, and 
took courage. He wanted to find her alone, and to tell 
her that he too loved her. Perhaps she was in the room 
beyond. 

He ran across the soft Moorish carpets, and opened 
the door. No ! She was not here either. The room 
was quite empty. 

It was a throne-room, used for the reception of 
foreign ambassadors, when the King, which of late had 
not been often, consented to give them a personal 
audience ; the same room in which, many years before, 
envoys had appeared from England to make arrange- 
ments for the marriage of their Queen, then one of the 
Catholic sovereigns of Europe, with the Emperor's 
eldest son. The hangings were of gilt Cordovan leather, 
and a heavy gilt chandelier with branches for three 
hundred wax lights hung down from the black and white 
ceiling. Underneath a great canopy of gold cloth, on 
which the lions and towers of Castile were broidered 
in seed pearls, stood the throne itself, covered with a 
rich pall of black velvet studded with silver tulips and 
elaborately fringed with silver and pearls. On the 
second step of the throne was placed the kneeling-stool 
of the Infanta, with its cushion of cloth of silver tissue, 
and below that again, and beyond the limit of the 
canopy, stood the chair for the Papal Nuncio, who 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 375 

alone had the right to be seated in the King's presence 
on the occasion of any public ceremonial, and whose 
Cardinal's hat, with its tangled scarlet tassels, lay on 
a purple tabouret in front. On the wall, facing the 
throne, hung a life-sized portrait of Charles V in 
hunting-dress, with a great mastiff by his side ; and a 
picture of Philip II receiving the homage of the 
Netherlands occupied the centre of the other wall. 
Between the windows stood a black ebony cabinet, 
inlaid with plates of ivory, on which the figures from 
Holbein's Dance of Death had been graved by the 
hand, some said, of that famous master himself. 

But the little Dwarf cared nothing for all this mag- 
nificence. He would not have given his rose for all 
the pearls on the canopy, nor one white petal of his 
rose for the throne itself. What he wanted was to see 
the Infanta before she went down to the pavilion, and 
to ask her to come away with him when he had finished 
his dance. Here, in the Palace, the air was close and 
heavy, but in the forest the wind blew free, and the 
sunlight, with wandering hands of gold, moved the 
tremulous leaves aside. There were flowers, too, in 
the forest, not so splendid, perhaps, as the flowers in 
the garden, but more sweetly scented for all that ; 
hyacinths in early spring that flooded with waving 
purple the cool glens, and grassy knolls ; yellow prim- 
roses that nestled in little clumps round the gnarled 
roots of the oak-trees ; bright celandine, and blue 
speedwell, and irises lilac and gold. There were grey 
catkins on the hazels, and the foxgloves drooped with 
the white of their dappled bee-haunted cells. The 
chestnut had its spires of white stars, and the hawthorn 
its pallid moons of beauty. Yes : surely she would 
come if he could only find her ! She would come with 
him to the fair forest, and all day long he would dance 
for her delight. A smile lit up his eyes at the thought, 
and he passed into the next room. 

Of all the rooms this was the brightest and the most 



376 OSCAR WILDE 

beautiful. The walls were covered with a pink- 
flowered Lucca damask, patterned with birds and 
dotted with dainty blossoms of silver ; the furniture 
was of massive silver, festooned with florid wreaths 
and swinging Cupids ; in front of the two large fire- 
places stood great screens broidered with parrots and 
peacocks ; and the floor, which was of sea-green onyx, 
seemed to stretch far away into the distance. Nor 
was he alone. Standing under the shadow of the door- 
way, at the extreme end of the room, he saw a little 
figure watching him. His heart trembled, a cry of joy 
broke from his lips, and he moved out into the sunlight. 
As he did so, the figure moved out also, and he saw it 
plainly. 

The Infanta ! It was a monster, the most grotesque 
monster he had ever beheld. Not properly shaped, 
as all other people were, but hunchbacked, and crooked- 
limbed, with huge lolling head and mane of black hair. 
The little Dwarf frowned, and the monster frowned 
also. He laughed, and it laughed with him, and held 
its hands to its sides, just as he himself was doing. He 
made it a mocking bow, and it returned him a low 
reverence. He went towards it, and it came to meet 
him, copying each step that he made, and stopping 
when he stopped himself. He shouted with amusement, 
and ran forward, and reached out his hand, and the 
hand of the monster touched his, and it was as cold as 
ice. He grew afraid, and moved his hand across, and 
the monster's hand followed it quickly. He tried to 
press on, but something smooth and hard stopped him. 
The face of the monster wa,s now close to his own, and 
seemed full of terror. He brushed his hair off his eyes. 
It imitated him. He struck at it, and it returned blow 
for blow. He loathed it, and it made hideous faces at 
him. He drew back, and it retreated. 

What is it ? He thought for a moment, and looked 
round at the rest of the room. It was strange, but 
everything seemed to have its double in this invisible 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 377 

wall of clear water. Yes, picture for picture was re- 
peated, and couch for couch. The sleeping Faun that 
lay in the alcove by the doorway had its twin brother 
that slumbered, and the silver Venus that stood in the 
sunlight held out her arms to a Venus as lovely as 
herself. 

Was it Echo ? He had called to her once in the 
valley, and she had answered him word for word. 
Could she mock the eye, as she mocked the voice ? 
Could she make a mimic world just like the real world ? 
Could the shadows of things have colour and life and 
movement ? Could it be that ? 

He started, and taking from his breast the beautiful 
white rose, he turned round, and kissed it. The 
monster had a rose of its own, petal for petal the same ! 
It kissed it with like kisses, and pressed it to its heart 
with horrible gestures. 

When the truth dawned upon him, he gave a wild 
cry of despair, and fell sobbing to the ground. So it 
was he who was misshapen and hunchbacked, foul to 
look at and grotesque. He himself was the monster, 
and it was at him that all the children had been laugh- 
ing, and the little Princess who he had thought loved 
him she too had been merely mocking at his ugliness, 
and making merry over his twisted limbs. Why had 
they not left him in the forest, where there was no 
mirror to tell him how loathsome he was ? Why had 
his father not killed him, rather than sell him to his 
shame ? The hot tears poured down his cheeks, and 
he tore the white rose to pieces. The sprawling 
monster did the same, and scattered the faint petals 
in the air. It grovelled on the ground, and, when he 
looked at it, it watched him with a face drawn with pain. 
He crept away, lest he should see it, and covered his 
eyes with his hands. He crawled, like some wounded 
thing, into the shadow, and lay there moaning. 

And at that moment the Infanta herself came in 
with her companions through the open window, and 



378 OSCAR WILDE 

when they saw the ugly little dwarf lying on the ground 
and beating the floor with his clenched hands, hi the 
most fantastic and exaggerated manner, they went off 
into shouts of happy laughter, and stood all round him 
and watched him. 

4 His dancing was funny,' said the Infanta ; * but 
his acting is funnier still. Indeed he is almost as good 
as the puppets, only of course not quite so natural.' 
And she fluttered her big fan, and applauded. 

But the little Dwarf never looked up, and his sobs 
grew fainter and fainter, and suddenly he gave a curious 
gasp, and clutched his side. And then he fell back 
again,-and lay quite still. 

* Thab is capital,' said the Infanta, after a pause ; 
' but now you must dance for me.' 

* Yes,' cried all the children, * you must get up and 
dance, for you are as clever as the Barbary apes, and 
much more ridiculous.' 

But the little Dwarf made no answer. 

And the Infanta stamped her foot, and called out to 
her uncle, who was walking on the terrace with the 
Chamberlain, reading some despatches that had just 
arrived from Mexico, where the Holy Office had recently 
been established. * My funny little dwarf is sulking,' 
she cried, ' you must wake him up, and tell him to 
dance for me.' 

They smiled at each other, and sauntered in, and 
Don Pedro stooped down, and slapped the Dwarf on 
the cheek with his embroidered glove. * You must 
dance,' he said, * petit monstre. You must dance. The 
Infanta of Spain and the Indies wishes to be 
amused.' 

But the little Dwarf never moved. 

1 A whipping-master should be sent for,* said Don 
Pedro wearily, and he went back to the terrace. But 
the Chamberlain looked grave, and he knelt beside the 
little Dwarf, and put his hand upon his heart. And 
after a few moments he shrugged his shoulders, and rose 



THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA 379 

up, and having made a low bow to the Infanta, he 
said * 

' M i bella Princesa, your funny little Dwarf will never 
dance again. It is a pity, for he is so ugly that he 
might have made the King smile.' 

* But why will he not dance again ? ' asked the 
Infanta, laughing. 

' Because his heart is broken,' answered the 
Chamberlain. 

And the Infanta frowned, and her dainty rose-leaf 
lips curled in pretty disdain. t For the future let those 
who come to play with me have no hearts,' she cried, 
and she ran out into the garden. 



GEOKGE GISSING 

18571903 

A POOR GENTLEMAN 

IT was in the drawing-room, after dinner. Mrs. 
Charman, the large and kindly hostess, sank into 
a chair beside her little friend Mrs. Loring, and sighed 
a question. 

1 How do you like Mr. Tymperley ? ' 

' Very nice. Just a little peculiar.' 

* Oh, he is peculiar ! Quite original. I wanted to 
tell you about him before we went down, but there 
wasn't time. Such a very old friend of ours. My 
dear husband and he were at school together Harro- 
vians. The sweetest, the most affectionate character ! 
Too good for this world, I'm afraid ; he takes every- 
thing so seriously. I shall never forget his grief at my 
poor husband's death. I'm telling Mrs. Loring about 
Mr. Tymperley, Ada.' 

She addressed her married daughter, a quiet young 
woman who reproduced Mrs. Charman's good-natured 
countenance, with something more of intelligence, the 
reflective serenity of a higher type. 

* I'm sorry to see him looking so far from well,' 
remarked Mrs. Weare, in reply. 

* He never had any colour, you know, and his life . . . 
But I must tell you,' she resumed to Mrs. Loring. 
* He's a bachelor, in comfortable circumstances, and 
would you believe it ? he lives quite alone in one of 
the distressing parts of London. Where is it, Ada ? ' 

4 A poor street in Islington.' 

' Yes. There he lives, I'm afraid in shocking lodgings 
it must be so unhealthy just to become acquainted 

380 



A POOR GENTLEMAN '-. 381 

with the life of poor people, and be helpful to them. 
Isn't it heroic ? He seems to have given up his whole 
life to it. One never meets him anywhere ; I think 
ours is the only house where he's seen. A noble life ! 
He never talks about it. I'm sure you would never 
have suspected such a thing from his conversation at 
dinner ? * 

' Not for a moment,' answered Mrs. Loring, aston- 
ished. ' He wasn't very gossipy I gathered that his 
chief interests were fretwork and foreign politics.' 

Mrs. Weare laughed. ' The very man ! When I 
was a little girl he used to make all sorts of pretty 
things for me with his fret-saw ; and when I grew old 
enough, he instructed me in the Balance of Power. It's 
possible, mamma, that he writes leading articles. We 
should never hear of it.' 

' My dear, anything is possible with Mr. Tymperley. 
And such a change, this, after his country life. He had 
a beautiful little house near ours, in Berkshire. I really 
can't help thinking that my husband's death caused 
him to leave it. He was so attached to Mr. Charman ! 
When my husband died, and we left Berkshire, we 
altogether lost sight of him oh, for a couple of years. 
Then I met him by chance in London. Ada thinks 
there must have been some sentimental trouble.' 

' Dear mamma,' interposed the daughter, ' it was 
you, not I, who suggested that.' 

' Was it ? Well, perhaps it was. One can't help 
seeing that he has gone through something. Of course 
it may be only pity for the poor souls he gives his life 
to. A wonderful man ! ' 

When masculine voices sounded at the drawing-room 
door, Mrs. Loring looked curiously for the eccentric 
gentleman. He entered last of all. A man of more 
than middle-height, but much bowed in the shoulders ; 
thin, ungraceful, with an irresolute step and a shy 
demeanour ; his pale-grey eyes, very soft in expression, 
looked timidly this way and that from beneath brows 



382 GEORGE GISSING 

nervously bent, and a self -obliterating smile wavered 
upon his lips. His hair had begun to thin and to turn 
grey, but he had a heavy moustache, which would better 
have sorted with sterner lineaments. As he walked 
or sidled into the room, his hands kept shutting and 
opening, with rather ludicrous effect. Something 
which was not exactly shabbiness, but a lack of lustre, 
of finish, singled him among the group of men ; looking 
closer, one saw that his black suit belonged to a fashion 
some years old. His linen was irreproachable, but he 
wore no sort of jewellery, one little black stud showing 
on his front, and, at the cuffs, solitaires of the same 
simple description. 

He drifted into a corner, and there would have sat 
alone, seemingly at peace, had not Mrs. Weare presently 
moved to a seat beside him. 

4 1 hope you won't be staying in town through 
August, Mr. Tymperley ? ' 

' No ! Oh no ! -Oh no, I think not ! ' 

' But you seem uncertain. Do forgive me if I say 
that I'm sure you need a change. Really, you know, 
you are not looking quite the thing. Now, can't I per- 
suade you to join us at Lucerne ? My husband would 
be so pleased delighted to talk with you about the 
state of Europe. Give us a fortnight do ! ' 

* My dear Mrs. Weare, you are kindness itself ! I 
am deeply grateful. I can't easily express my sense of 
your most friendly thoughtfulness. But, the truth is, 
I am half engaged to other friends. Indeed, I think I 
may almost say that I have practically , , . yes, 
indeed, it amounts to that.' 

He spoke in a thinly fluting voice, with a preciseness 
of enunciation akin to the more feebly clerical, and 
with smiles which became almost lachrymose in their 
expressiveness as he dropped from phrase to phrase of 
embarrassed circumlocution. And his long bony 
hands writhed together till the knuckles were white. 

* Well, so long as you are going away. I'm so afraid 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 383 

lest your conscientiousness should go too far. You 
won't benefit anybody, you know, by making yourself 
ill.' 

* Obviously not ! Ha, ha ! I assure you that fact is 
patent to me. Health is a primary consideration. 
Nothing more detrimental to one's usefulness than an 
impaired . . . Oh, to be sure, to be sure ! ' 

' There's the strain upon your sympathies. That 
must affect one's health, quite apart from an unhealthy 
atmosphere.' 

* But Islington is not unhealthy, my dear Mrs. Weare ! 
Believe me, the air has often quite a tonic quality. We 
are so high, you must remember. If only we could 
subdue in some degree the noxious exhalations of 
domestic and industrial chimneys ! Oh, I assure you, 
Islington has every natural feature of salubrity.' 

Before the close of the evening there was a little 
music, which Mr. Tymperley seemed much to enjoy. 
He let his head fall back, and stared upwards ; remain- 
ing rapt in that posture for some moments after the 
music ceased, and at length recovering himself with a 
sigh. 

When he left the house he donned an overcoat con- 
siderably too thick for the season, and bestowed in the 
pockets his patent-leather shoes. His hat was a hard 
felt, high in the crown. He grasped an ill-folded 
umbrella, and set forth at a brisk walk, as if for the 
neighbouring station. But the railway was not his 
goal, nor yet the omnibus. Through the ambrosial 
night he walked and walked, at the steady pace of one 
accustomed to pedestrian exercise : from Notting Hill 
Gate to the Marble Arch ; from the Marble Arch to 
New Oxford Street ; thence by Theobald's Road to 
.Pentonville, and up, and up, until he attained the 
heights of his own salubrious quarter. Long after 
midnight he entered a narrow byway, which the pale 
moon showed to be decent, though not inviting. He 
admitted himself with a latchkey to a little house which 



384 GEORGE GISSING 

smelt of glue, lit a candle-end which he found in his 
pocket, and ascended two flights of stairs to a back 
bedroom, its size eight feet by seven and a half. A 
few minutes more, and he lay sound asleep. 

Waking at eight o'clock he knew the time by a bell 
that clanged hi the neighbourhood Mr. Tymperley 
clad himself with nervous haste. On opening his door, 
he found lying outside a tray, with the materials of a 
breakfast reduced to its lowest terms : half a pint of 
milk, bread, butter. At nine o'clock he went down- 
stairs, tapped civilly at the door of the front parlour, 
and by an untuned voice was bidden enter. The 
room was occupied by an oldish man and a girl, ad- 
dressing themselves to the day's work of plain book- 
binding. 

' Good morning to you, sir,' said Mr. Tymperley, 
bending his head. ' Good morning, Miss Suggs. 
Bright ! Sunny ! How it cheers one ! ' 

He stood rubbing his hands, as one might on a morn- 
ing of sharp frost. The bookbinder, with a dry nod for 
greeting, forthwith set Mr. Tymperley a task, to which 
that gentleman zealously applied himself. He was 
learning the elementary processes of the art. He 
worked with patience, and some show of natural 
aptitude, all through the working hours of the day. 

To this pass had things come with Mr. Tymperley, 
a gentleman of Berkshire, once living in comfort and 
modest dignity on the fruit of sound investments. 
Schooled at Harrow, a graduate of Cambridge, he had 
meditated the choice of a profession until it seemed, on 
the whole, too late to profess anything at all ; and, as 
there was no need of such exertion, he settled himself 
to a life of innocent idleness, hard by the country-house 
of his wealthy and influential friend, Mr. Charman. 
Softly the years flowed by. His thoughts turned once 
or twice to marriage, but a profound diffidence withheld 
him from the initial step ; in the end, he knew himself 
born for bachelorhood, and with that estate was con- 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 385 

tent. Well for him had he seen as clearly the delusive- 
ness of other temptations ! In an evil moment he 
listened to Mr. Charm an, whose familiar talk was of 
speculation, of companies, of shining percentages. 
Not on his own account was Mr. Tymperley lured : he 
had enough and to spare ; but he thought of his sister, 
married to an unsuccessful provincial barrister, and of 
her six children, whom it would be pleasant to help, 
like the opulent uncle of fiction, at their entering upon 
the world. In Mr. Charman he put blind faith, with 
the result that one morning he found himself shivering 
on the edge of ruin ; the touch of confirmatory news, 
and over he went. 

No one was aware of it but Mr. Charman himself, 
and he, a few days later, lay sick unto death. Mr. 
Charman' s own estate suffered inappreciably from 
what to his friend meant sheer disaster. And Mr. 
Tymperley breathed not a word to the widow ; spoke 
not a word to any one at all, except the lawyer, who 
quietly wound up his affairs, and the sister whose chil- 
dren must needs go without avuncular aid. During 
the absence of his friendly neighbours after Mr. Char- 
man's death, he quietly disappeared. 

The poor gentleman was then close upon forty years 
old. There remained to him a capital which he durst 
not expend ; invested, it bore him an income upon 
whi<#i a labourer could scarce have subsisted. The 
only possible place of residence because the only sure 
place of hiding was London, and to London Mr. 
Tymperley betook himself. Not at once did he learn 
the art of combating starvation with minim resources. 
During his initiatory trials he was once brought so low, 
by hunger and humiliation, that he swallowed some- 
thing of his pride, and wrote to a certain acquaintance, 
asking counsel and indirect help. But only a man in 
Mr. Tymperley 's position learns how vain is well- 
meaning advice, and how impotent is social influence. 
Had he begged for money, he would have received, no 



386 GEORGE GISSING 

doubt, a cheque, with words of compassion ; but Mr. 
Tymperley could never bring himself to that. 

He tried to make profit of his former amusement, 
fretwork, and to a certain extent succeeded, earning in 
six months half a sovereign. But the prospect of 
adding one pound a year to his starveling dividends did 
not greatly exhilarate him. 

All this time he was of course living in absolute 
solitude. Poverty is the great secluder unless one 
belongs to the rank which is born to it ; a sensitive man 
who no longer finds himself on equal terms with his 
natural associates, shrinks into loneliness, and learns 
with some surprise how very willing people are to forget 
his existence. London is a wilderness abounding in 
anchorites voluntary or constrained. As he wan- 
dered about the streets and parks, or killed time in 
museums and galleries (where nothing had to be paid), 
Mr. Tymperley often recognized brethren in seclusion ; 
he understood the furtive glance which met his own, he 
read the peaked visage, marked with understanding 
sympathy the shabby-genteel apparel. No interchange 
of confidences between these lurking mortals ; they 
would like to speak, but pride holds them aloof ; each 
goes on his silent and unfriended way, until, by good 
luck, he finds himself in hospital or workhouse, when 
at length the tongue is loosed, and the sore heart pours 
forth its reproach of the world. 

Strange knowledge comes to a man in this position. 
He learns wondrous economies, arid will feel a sort of 
pride in his ultimate discovery of how little money is 
needed to support life. In his old days Mr. Tymperley 
would have laid it down as an axiom that ' one ' cannot 
live on less than such-and-such an income ; he found 
that ' a man ' can live on a few coppers a day. He 
became aware of the prices of things to eat, and was 
taught the relative virtues of nutriment. Perforce a 
vegetarian, he found that a vegetable diet was good for 
his health, and delivered to himself many a scornful 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 387 

speech on the habits of the carnivorous multitude. He 
of necessity abjured alcohols, and straightway longed 
to utter his testimony on a teetotal platform. These 
were his satisfactions. They compensate astonishingly 
for the loss of many kinds of self-esteem. 

But it happened one day that, as he was in the act 
of drawing his poor little quarterly salvage at the Bank 
of England, a lady saw him and knew him. It was 
Mr. Charman' s widow. 

' Why, Mr. Tymperley, what has become of you all 
this time ? Why have I never heard from you ? Is it 
true, as some one told me, that you have been living 
abroad ? ' 

So utterly was he disconcerted, that in a mechanical 
way he echoed the lady's last word : ' Abroad.' 

' But why didn't you write to us ? ' pursued Mrs. 
Charman, leaving him no time to say more. ' How 
very unkind ! Why did you go away without a word ? 
My daughter says that we must have unconsciously 
offended you in some way. Do explain ! Surely there 
can't have been anything ' 

' My dear Mrs. Charman, it is I alone who. am to 
blame. I ... the explanation is difficult ; it involves 
a multiplicity of detail. I beg you to interpret my 
unjustifiable behaviour as as pure idiosyncrasy.' 

' Oh, you must come and see me. You know that 
Ada's married ? Yes, nearly a year ago. How glad 
she will be to see you again. So often she has spoken 
of you. When can you dine ? To-morrow ? ' 

' With pleasure with great pleasure.' 

' Delightful ! ' 

She gave her address, and they parted. 

Now, a proof that Mr. Tymperley had never lost all 
hope of restitution to his native world lay in the fact 
of his having carefully preserved an evening-suit, with 
the appropriate patent-leather shoes. Many a time 
had he been sorely tempted to sell these seeming super- 
fluities ; more than once, towards the end of his pinched 



388 GEORGE GISSING 

quarter, the suit had been pledged for a few shillings ; 
but to part with the supreme symbol of respectability 
would have meant despair a state of mind alien to 
Mr. Tymperley's passive fortitude. His jewellery, even 
watch and chain, had long since gone : such gauds 
are not indispensable to a gentleman's outfit. He now 
congratulated himself on his prudence, for the meeting 
with Mrs. Charman had delighted as much as it embar- 
rassed him, and the prospect of an evening in society 
made his heart glow. He hastened home ; he 
examined his garb of ceremony with anxious care, and 
found no glaring defect in it. A shirt, a collar, a neck- 
tie must needs be purchased ; happily he had the 
means. But how explain himself ? Could he confess 
his place of abode, his startling poverty ? To do so 
would be to make an appeal to the compassion of his 
old friends, and from that he shrank in horror. A 
gentleman will not, if it can possibly be avoided, reveal 
circumstances likely to cause pain. Must he, then, 
tell or imply a falsehood ? The whole truth involved 
a reproach of Mrs. Charman' s husband a thought he 
could not bear. 

The next evening found him still worrying over this 
dilemma. He reached Mrs. Charman' s house without 
having come to any decision. In the drawing-room 
three persons awaited him : the hostess, with her 
daughter and son-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Weare. The 
cordiality of his reception moved him all but to tears ; 
overcome by many emotions, he lost his head. He 
talked at random ; and the result was so strange a 
piece of fiction, that no sooner had he evolved it than 
he stood aghast at himself. 

It came in reply to the natural question where he was 
residing. 

4 At present ' he smiled fatuously ' I inhabit a 
bed-sitting-room in a little street up at Islington.' 

Dead silence followed. Eyes of wonder were fixed 
upon him. But for those eyes, who knows what 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 389 

confession Mr. Tymperley might have made ? As it 
was . . . 

' I said, Mrs. Charman, that I had to confess to an 
eccentricity. I hope it won't shock you. To be brief, 
I have devoted my poor energies to social work. I live 
among the poor, and as one of them, to obtain know- 
ledge that cannot otherwise be procured.' 

4 Oh, how noble ! ' exclaimed the hostess. 

The poor gentleman's conscience smote him terribly. 
He could say no more. To spare his delicacy, his 
friends turned the conversation. Then or afterwards, 
it never occurred to them to doubt the truth of what 
he had said. Mrs. Charman had seen him transacting 
business at the Bank of England, a place not suggestive 
of poverty ; and he had always passed for a man some- 
what original in his views and ways. Thus was Mr. 
Tymperley committed to a singular piece of deception, 
a fraud which could not easily be discovered, and which 
injured only its perpetrator. 

Since then about a year had elapsed. Mr. Tymperley 
had seen his friends perhaps half a dozen times, his 
enjoyment of their society pathetically intense, but 
troubled by any slightest allusion to his mode of life. 
It had come to be understood that he made it a matter 
of principle to hide his light under a bushel, so he seldom 
had to take a new step in positive falsehood. Of course 
he regretted ceaselessly the original deceit, for Mrs. 
Charman, a wealthy woman, might very well have 
assisted him to some not undignified mode of earning 
his living. As it was, he had hit upon the idea of 
making himself a bookbinder, a craft somewhat to his 
taste. For some months he had lodged in the book- 
binder's house ; one day courage came to him, and he 
entered into a compact with his landlord, whereby he 
was to pay for instruction by a certain period of unre- 
munerated work after he became proficient. That 
stage was now approaching. On the whole, he felt 
much happier than in the time of brooding idleness. 



390 GEORGE GISSING 

He looked forward to the day when he would have a 
little more money in his pocket, and no longer dread 
the last fortnight of each quarter, with its supperless 
nights. 

Mrs. Weare's invitation to Lucerne cost him pangs. 
Lucerne ! Surely it was in some former state of exist- 
ence that he had taken delightful holidays as a matter 
of course. He thought of the many lovely places he 
knew, and so many dream-landscapes ; the London 
streets made them infinitely remote, utterly unreal. 
His three years of gloom and hardship were longer than 
all the life of placid contentment that came before. 
Lucerne ! A man of more vigorous temper would have 
been maddened at the thought ; but Mr. Tymperley 
nursed it all day long, his emotions only expressing 
themselves in a little sigh or a sadly wistful smile. 

Having dined so well yesterday, he felt it his duty to 
expend less than usual on to-day's meals. About 
eight o'clock in the evening, after a meditative stroll 
in the air which he had so praised, he entered the shop 
where he was wont to make his modest purchases. A 
fat woman behind the counter nodded familiarly to 
him, with a grin at another customer. Mr. Tymperley 
bowed, as was his courteous habit. 

' Oblige me,' he said, * with one new-laid egg and a 
small, crisp lettuce.' 

' Only one to-night, eh ? ' said the woman. 

* Thank you, only one,' he replied, as if speaking in 
a drawing-room. ' Forgive me if I express a hope that 
it will be, in the strict sense of the word, new-laid. The 
last, I fancy, had got into that box by some oversight 
pardonable in the press of business.' 

4 They're always the same,' said the fat shopkeeper. 
' We don't make no mistakes of that kind.' 

' Ah ! Forgive me ! Perhaps I imagined ' 

Egg and lettuce were carefully deposited in a little 
handbag he carried, and he returned home. An hour 
later, when his meal was finished, and he sat on a 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 391 

straight-backed chair meditating in the twilight, a rap 
sounded at his door, and a letter was handed to him. 
So rarely did a letter arrive for Mr. Tymperley that his 
hand shook as he examined the envelope. On opening 
it, the first thing he saw was a cheque. This excited 
him still more ; he unfolded the written sheet with 
agitation. It came from Mrs. Weare, who wrote thus : 

' MY DEAR MR. TYMPERLEY, After our talk last 
evening, I could not help thinking of you and your 
beautiful life of self-sacrifice. I contrasted the lot of 
these poor people with my own, which, one cannot but 
feel, is so undeservedly blest and so rich in enjoyments. 
As a result of these thoughts, I feel impelled to send you 
a little contribution to your good work a sort of 
thank-offering at the moment of setting off for a happy 
holiday. Divide the money, please, among two or 
three of your most deserving pensioners ; or, if you 
see fit, give it all to one. I cling to the hope that we 
may see you at Lucerne. With very kind regards.' 

The cheque was for five pounds. Mr. Tymperley 
held it up by the window, and gazed at it. By his 
present standards of value five pounds seemed a very 
large sum. Think of what one could do with it ! His 
boots which had been twice repaired would not 
decently serve him much longer. His trousers were 
in the last stage of presentability. The hat he wore 
(how carefully tended !) was the same in which he had 
come to London three years ago. He stood in need, 
verily, of a new equipment from head to foot ; and in 
Islington five pounds would more than cover the whole 
expense. When, pray, was he likely to have such a 
sum at his free disposal ? 

He sighed deeply, and stared about him in the dusk. 

The cheque was crossed. For the first time in his 
life Mr. Tymperley perceived that the crossing of a 
cheque may occasion its recipient a great deal of 
trouble. How was he to get it changed ? He knew 



392 GEORGE GISSING 

his landlord for a suspicious curmudgeon, and refusal 
of the favour, with such a look as Mr. Suggs knew how 
to give, would be a sore humiliation ; besides, it was 
very doubtful whether Mr. Suggs could make any use 
of the cheque himself. To whom else could he apply ? 
Literally, to no one in London. 

* Well, the first thing to do was to answer Mrs. 
Weare's letter. He lit his lamp and sat down at the 
crazy little deal table ; but his pen dipped several 
times into the ink before he found himself able to write. 

1 DEAB MRS, WBABE,' 

Then, so long a pause that he seemed to be falling 
asleep. With a jerk, he bent again to his task. 

* With sincere gratitude I acknowledge the receipt 
of your most kind and generous donation. The 
money . . .' 

(Again his hand lay idle for several minutes.) 

' shall be used as you wish, and I will render to you a 
detailed account of the benefits conferred by it.' 

Never had he found composition so difficult. He 
felt that he was expressing himself wretchedly ; a clog 
was on his brain. It cost him an exertion of physical 
strength to conclude the letter. When it was done, 
he went out, purchased a stamp at a tobacconist's shop, 
and dropped the envelope into the post. 

Little slumber had Mr. Tymperley that night. On 
lying down, he began to wonder where he should find 
the poor people worthy of sharing in this benefaction. 
Of course he had no acquaintance with the class of 
persons of whom Mrs. Weare was thinking. In a sense, 
all the families round about were poor, but he asked 
himself had poverty the same meaning for them as 
for him ? Was there a man or woman in this grimy 
street who, compared with himself, had any right to 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 393 

be called poor at all ? An educated man forced to 
live among the lower classes arrives at many interesting 
conclusions with regard to them ; one conclusion long 
since fixed in Mr. Tymperley's mind was that the 
' suffering ' of those classes is very much exaggerated 
by outsiders using a criterion quite inapplicable. He 
saw around him a world of coarse jollity, of contented 
labour, and of brutal apathy. It seemed to him more 
than probable that the only person in this street con- 
scious of poverty, and suffering under it, was himself. 

From nightmarish dozing, he started with a vivid 
thought, a recollection which seemed to pierce his brain. 
To whom did he owe his fall from comfort and self- 
respect, and all his long miseries ? To Mrs. Weare's 
father. And, from this point of view, might the cheque 
for five pounds be considered as mere restitution? 
Might it not strictly be applicable to his own necessities ? 

Another little gap of semi- consciousness led to 
another strange reflection. What if Mrs. Weare (a 
sensible woman) suspected, or even had discovered, 
the truth about him ? What if she secretly meant the 
money for his own use ? 

Earliest daylight made this suggestion look very 
insubstantial ; on the other hand, it strengthened his 
memory of Mr. Charman's virtual indebtedness to him. 
He jumped out of bed to reach the cheque, and for an 
hour lay with it hi his hand. Then he rose and dressed 
mechanically. 

After tKe day's work he rambled in a street of large 
shops. A bootmaker's arrested him ; he stood before 
the window for a long time, turning over and over in 
his pocket a sovereign no small fraction of the ready 
coin which had to support him until dividend day. 
Then he crossed the threshold. 

Never did man use less discretion in the purchase of a 
pair of boots. His business was transacted in a dream ; 
he spoke without hearing what he said ; he stared at 
objects without perceiving them. The result was that 



394 GEORGE GISSING 

not till he had got home, \vith his easy old footgear 
under his arm, did he become aware that the new boots 
pinched him most horribly. They creaked too : 
heavens ! how they creaked ! But doubtless all new 
boots had these faults ; he had forgotten ; it was so 
long since he had bought a pair. The fact was, he felt 
dreadfully tired, utterly worn out. After munching 
a mouthful of supper he crept into bed. 

All night long he warred with his new boots. Foot- 
sore, he limped about the streets of a spectral city, 
where at every corner some one seemed to lie in ambush 
for him, and each time the lurking enemy proved to be 
no other than Mrs. Weare, who gazed at him with scorn- 
ful eyes and let him totter by. The creaking of the 
boots was an articulate voice, which ever and anon 
screamed at him a terrible name. He shrank and shiv- 
ered and groaned ; but on he went, for in his hand he 
held a crossed cheque, which he was bidden to get 
changed, and no one would change it. What a night ! 

When he woke his brain was heavy as lead ; but his 
meditations were very lucid. Pray, what did he mean 
by that insane outlay of money, which he could not 
possibly afford, on a new (and detestable) pair of boots ? 
The old would have lasted, at all events, till winter 
began. What was in his mind when he entered the 
shop ? Did he intend . . . ? Merciful powers ! 

Mr. Tymperley was not much of a psychologist. 
But all at once he saw with awful perspicacity the 
moral crisis through which he had been living. And 
it taught him one more truth on the subject of poverty. 

Immediately after his breakfast he went downstairs 
and tapped at the door of Mr. Suggs' sitting-room. 

4 What is it ? ' asked the bookbinder, who was eating 
his fourth large rasher, and spoke with his mouth full. 

4 Sir, I beg leave of absence for an hour or two this 
morning. Business of some moment demands my 
attention.' 

Mr. Suggs answered, with the grace natural to his 



A POOR GENTLEMAN 395 

order, ' I s'pose you can do as you like. I don't pay 
you nothing.' 

The other bowed and withdrew. 

Two days later he again penned a letter to Mrs. 
Weare. It ran thus : 

' The money which you so kindly sent, and which 
I have already acknowledged, has now been distributed. 
To ensure a proper use of it, I handed the cheque, with 
clear instructions, to a clergyman in this neighbourhood, 
who has been so good as to jot down, on the sheet 
enclosed, a memorandum of his beneficiaries, which I 
trust will be satisfactory and gratifying to you. 

' But why, you will ask, did I have recourse to a 
clergyman. Why did I not use my own experience, 
and give myself the pleasure of helping poor souls in 
whom I have a personal interest I who have devoted 
my life to this mission of mercy ? 

* The answer is brief and plain. I have lied to you. 

* I am not living in this place of my free will. I am 
not devoting myself to works of charity. I am no, 
no, I was merely a poor gentleman, who, on a certain 
day, found that he had wasted his substance in a foolish 
speculation, and who, ashamed to take his friends into 
his confidence, fled to a life of miserable obscurity. 
You see that I have added disgrace to misfortune. I 
will not tell you how very near I came to something 
still worse. 

' I have been serving an apprenticeship to a certain 
handicraft which will, I doubt not, enable me so to 
supplement my own scanty resources that I shall be 
in better circumstances than hitherto. I entreat you 
to forgive me, if you can, and henceforth to forget 
Yours unworthily, 

' S. V. TYMPERLEY,' 



HENRY HARLAND 

18611905 

THE HOUSE OF EULALIE 

IT was a pretty little house, in very charming country 
in an untravelled corner of Normandy, near the sea ; 
a country of orchards and colza-fields, of soft green 
meadows where cattle browsed, and of deep elm-shaded 
lanes. 

One was rather surprised to see this little house just 
here, for all the other houses in the neighbourhood 
were rude farm-houses or labourers' cottages ; and 
this was a coquettish little chalet, white- walled, with 
slim French windows, and balconies of twisted iron- 
work, and Venetian blinds : a gay little pleasure-house, 
standing in a bright little garden, among rose-bushes, 
and parterres of geraniums, and smooth stretches of 
greensward. Beyond the garden there was an orchard 
rows and couples of old gnarled apple-trees, bending 
towards one another like fantastic figures arrested in 
the middle of a dance. Then, turning round, you 
looked over feathery colza-fields and yellow corn-fields, 
a mile away, to the sea, and to a winding perspective of 
white cliffs, which the sea bathed in transparent greens 
and purples, luminous shadows of its own nameless 
hues. 

A board attached to the wall confirmed, in roughly- 
painted characters, the information I had had from an 
agent in Dieppe. The house was to let ; and I had 
driven out a drive of two long hours to inspect it. 
Now I stood on the doorstep and rang the bell. It 
was a big bell, hung in the porch, with a pendent 

396 



THE HOUSE OP EULALIE 397 

handle of bronze, wrought in the semblance of a rope 
and tassel. Its voice would carry far on that still 
country air. 

It carried, at any rate, as far as a low thatched farm- 
house, a hundred yards down the road. Presently 
a man and a woman came out of the farm-house, gazed 
for an instant in my direction, and then moved towards 
me : an old brown man, an old grey woman, the man 
in corduroys, the woman wearing a neat white cotton 
cap and a blue apron, both moving with the burdened 
gait of peasants. 

' You are Monsieur and Madame Leroux ? ' I asked, 
when we had accomplished our preliminary good-days ; 
and I explained that I had come from the agent in 
Dieppe to look over their house. For the rest, they 
must have been expecting me ; the agent had said that 
he would let them know. 

But, to my perplexity, this business-like announce- 
ment seemed somehow to embarrass them ; even, I 
might have thought, to agitate, to distress them. They 
lifted up their worn old faces, and eyed me anxiously. 
They exchanged anxious glances with each other. 
The woman clasped her hands, nervously working her 
fingers. The man hesitated and stammered a little, 
before he was able to repeat vaguely, ' You have com 
to look over the house, Monsieur ? ' 

' Surely,' I said, ' the agent has written to you ? 1 
understood from him that you would expect me at this 
hour to-day.' 

' Oh yes,' the man admitted, ' we were expecting 
you.' But he made no motion to advance matters. He 
exchanged another anxious glance with his wife. She 
gave her head a sort of helpless nod, and looked down. 

' You see, Monsieur,' the man began, as if he were 
about to elucidate the situation, ' you see ' But 
then he faltered, frowning at the air, as one at a loss 
for words. 

' The house is already let, perhaps ? ' suggested I. 



398 HENRY HARLAND 

' No, the house is not let,' said he. 

' You had better go and fetch the key,' his wife 
said at last, in a dreary way, still looking down. 

He truclged heavily back to the farm-house. While 
he was gone we stood by the door in silence, the woman 
always nervously working the fingers of her clasped 
hands. I tried, indeed, to make a little conversation : 
I ventured something about the excellence of the site, 
the beauty of the view. She replied with a murmur of 
assent, civilly but wearily ; and I did not feel en- 
couraged to persist. 

By -and -by her husband rejoined us, with the key ; 
and they began silently to lead me through the house. 

There were two pretty drawing-rooms on the ground 
floor, a pretty dining-room, and a delightful kitchen, 
with a broad hearth of polished red bricks, a tiled 
chimney, and shining copper pots and pans. The 
drawing-rooms and the dining-room were pleasantly 
furnished in a light French fashion, and their windows 
opened to the sun and to the fragrance and greenery of 
the garden. I expressed a good deal of admiration ; 
whereupon, little by little, the manner of my conductors 
changed. From constrained, depressed, it became 
responsive ; even, in the end, effusive. They met my 
exclamations with smiles, my inquiries with voluble 
eager answers. But it remained an agitated manner, 
the manner of people who were shaken by an emotion. 
Their old hands trembled as they opened the doors 
for me or drew up the blinds ; their voices trembled. 
There was something painful in their very smiles, as if 
these were but momentary ripples on the surface of 
a trouble. 

' Ah,' I said to myself, ' they are hard-pressed for 
money. They have put their whole capital into this 
house, very likely. They are excited by the prospect 
of securing a tenant.' 

' Now, if ypu please, Monsieur, we will go upstairs, 
and see the bedrooms,' the old man said. 



THE HOUSE OF EULALIE 399 

The bedrooms were airy, cheerful rooms, gaily 
papered, with chintz curtains and the usual French 
bedroom furniture. One of them exhibited signs of 
being actually lived in ; there were things about it, 
personal things, a woman's things. It was the last 
room we visited, a front room, looking off to the sea. 
There were combs and brushes on the toilet-table ; 
there were pens, an inkstand, and a portfolio on the 
writing-desk ; there were books in the bookcase. 
Framed photographs stood on the mantelpiece. In 
the closet dresses were suspended, and shoes and 
slippers were primly ranged on the floor. The bed 
was covered with a counterpane of blue silk ; a crucifix 
hung on the wall above it ; beside it there was a prie- 
dieu, with a little porcelain holy- water vase. 

* Oh,' I exclaimed, turning to Monsieur and Madame 
Leroux, * this room is occupied ? ' 

Madame Leroux did not appear to hear me. Her 
eyes were fixed in a dull stare before her, her lips 
were parted slightly. She looked tired, as if she 
would be glad when our tour through the house was 
finished. Monsieur Leroux threw his hand up towards 
the ceiling in an odd gesture, and said, ' No, the room 
is not occupied at present.' 

We went back downstairs, and concluded an agree- 
ment. I was to take the house for the summer. 
Madame Leroux would cook for me. Monsieur Leroux 
would drive into Dieppe on Wednesday to fetch me 
and my luggage out. 

On Wednesday we had been driving for something 
like half an hour without speaking, when all at once 
Leroux said to me, ' That room, Monsieur, the room 
you thought was occupied ' 

' Yes ? ' I questioned, as he paused. 

4 1 have a proposition to make,' said he. He spoke, 
as it seemed to me, half shyly, half doggedly, gazing 
the while at the ears of his horse. 



400 HENRY HARLAND 

* What is it ? ' I asked. 

' If you will leave that room as it is, with the things 
in it, we will make a reduction in the rent. If you 
will let us keep it as it is ?' he repeated, with a curious 
pleading intensity. * You are alone. The house will 
be big enough for you without that room, will it not, 
Monsieur ? ' 

Of course, I consented at once. If they wished to keep 
the room as it was, they were to do so, by all means. 
' Thank you, thank you very much. My wife will 
be grateful to you,' he said. 

For a little while longer we drove on without speak- 
ing. Presently, ' You are our first tenant. We have 
never let the house before,' he volunteered. 
' Ah ? Have you had it long ? ' I asked. 
' I built it. I built it, five, six, years ago,' said 
he. Then, after a pause, he added, * I built it for my 
daughter.' 

His voice sank, as he said this. But one felt that it 

was only the beginning of something he wished to say. 

I invited him to continue by an interested * Oh ? ' 

' You see what we are, my wife and I,' he broke 

out suddenly. ' We are rough people, we are peasants. 

But my daughter, sir ' he put his hand on my knee, 

and looked earnestly into my face * my daughter was 

as fine as satin, as fine as lace.' 

He turned back to his horse, and again drove for a 
minute or two in silence. At last, always with his 
eyes on the horse's ears, ' There was not a lady in. this 
country finer than my daughter,' he went on, speaking 
rapidly, in a thick voice, almost as if to himself. ' She 
was beautiful, she had the sweetest character, she had 
the best education. She was educated at the convent, 
in Rouen, at the Sacre Cceur. Six years from twelve 
to eighteen she studied at the convent. She knew 
English, sir your language. She took prizes for 
history. And the piano ! Nobody living can touch 
the piano as my daughter could. Well,' he demanded 



THE HOUSE OF EULALIE 401 

abruptly, with a kind of fierceness, * was a rough farm- 
house good enough for her ? ' He answered his own 
question. * No, Monsieur. You would not soil fine 
lace by putting it in a dirty box. My daughter was 
finer thar^, lace. \ Her hands were softer than Lyons 
velvet, &nd oh,' he cried, ' the sweet smell they had, 
her handsT It was good to smell her hands. I used 
to kiss them and smell them, as you would smell a 
rose.'*) His voice died away at the reminiscence, and 
there was another interval of silence. By-and-by he 
began again, ' I had plenty of money. I was the richest 
farmer of this neighbourhood. I sent to Rouen for 
the best architect they have there. Monsieur Clermont, 
the best architect of Rouen, laureate of the Fine Arts 
School of Paris, he built that house for my daughter ; 
he built it and furnished it, to make it fit for a countess, 
so that when she came home for good from the convent 
she should have a home worthy of her. Look at this, 
Monsieur. Would the grandest palace hi the world 
be too good for her ? ' 

He had drawn a worn red leather case from his 
pocket, and taken out a small photograph, which he 
handed to me. It was the portrait of a girl, a delicate- 
looking girl, of about seventeen. Her face was pretty, 
with the irregular prettiness not uncommon in France, 
and very sweet and gentle. The old man almost held 
his breath while I was examining the photograph. 
* Est-elle gentille ? Est-elle belle, Monsieur ? ' he 
besought me, with a very hunger for sympathy, as I 
returned it. One answered, of course, what one could, 
as best one could. He, with shaking fingers, replaced 
the photograph in its case. ' Here, Monsieur,' he 
said, extracting from an opposite compartment a 
little white card. It was the usual French memorial 
of mourning : an engraving of the Cross and Dove, 
under which was printed : ' Eulalie-Josephine-Marie 
Leroux. Born the 16th May, 1874. Died the 12th 
August, 1892. Pray for her,' 



402 HENRY HARLAND 

' The good God knows what He does. I built that 
house for my daughter, and when it was built the good 
God took her away. We were mad with grief, mv 
wife and I ; but that could not save her, Perhaps we 
are" still mad with grief,' the poor old man said simply. 
' We can think of nothing else. We never wish to 
speak of anything else. We could not live in the 
house her house, without her. We never thought 
to let it. I built that house for my daughter, I fur- 
nished it for her, and when it was ready for her she 
died. Was it not hard, Monsieur ? How could I let 
the house to strangers ? But lately I have had losses. 
I am compelled to let it, to pay my debts. I would 
not let it to everybody. You are an Englishman. 
Well, if I did not like you, I would not let it to you 
for a million English pounds. But I am glad I have 
let it to you. You will respect her memory. And 
you will allow us to keep that room her room. We 
shall be able to keep it as it was, with her things in it. 
Yes, that room which you thought was occupied that 
was my daughter's room.' 

Madame Leroux was waiting for us in the garden 
of the chalet. She looked anxiously up at her husband 
as we arrived. He nodded his head, and called out, 
' It's all right. Monsieur agrees.' 

The old woman took my hands, wringing them 
hysterically almost. ' Ah, Monsieur, you are very 
good,' she said. She raised her eyes to mine. But 
I could not look into her eyes. There was a sorrow 
in them, an awf illness, a sacredness of sorrow, which, 
I felt, it would be like sacrilege for me to look at. 

We became good friends, the Leroux and I, during the 
three months I passed as their tenant. Madame, 
indeed, did for me and looked after me with a zeal 
that was almost maternal. Both of them, as the old 
man had said, loved above all things to talk of their 
daughter, and I hope I was never loath to listen. Their 



THE HOUSE OF EULALIE 403 

passion, their grief, their constant thought of her, 
appealed to me as very beautiful, as well as very 
touching. And something like a pale spirit of the girl 
seemed gently, sweetly, always to be present in the 
house, the house that Love had built for her, not 
guessing that Death would come, as soon as it was 
finished, and call her away. ' Oh, but it is a joy, 
Monsieur, that you have left us her room,' the old 
couple were never tired of repeating. - One day Madame 
took me up into the room, and showed me Eulalie's 
pretty dresses, her trinkets, her books, the handsomely 
bound books that she had won as prizes at the convent. 
And on another day she showed me some of Eulalie's 
letters, asking me if she hadn't a beautiful hand- 
writing, if the letters were not beautifully expressed. 
She showed me photographs of the girl at all ages ; 
a lock of her hair ; her baby clothes ; the priest's 
certificate of her first communion ; the bishop's 
certificate of her confirmation. And she showed me 
letters from the good sisters of the Sacred Heart, at 
Rouen, telling of Eulalie's progress in her studies, 
praising her conduct and her character. ' Oh, to think 
that she is gone, that she is gone ! ' the old woman 
wailed, in a kind of helpless incomprehension, incred- 
ulity, of loss. Then, in a moment, she murmured, 
with what submissiveness she could, ' Le bon Dieu sait 
ce qu'il fait, 5 crossing herself. 

On the 12th of August, the anniversary of her death, 
I went with them to the parish church, where a mass 
was said for the repose of Eulalie's soul. And the 
kind old cure afterwards came round, and pressed their 
hands, and spoke words of comfort to them. 

In September I left them, returning to Dieppe. One 
afternoon I chanced to meet that same old cure in the 
high street there. We stopped and spoke together 
naturally, of the Leroux, of what excellent people they 
were, of how they grieved for their daughter, ' Their 



404 HENRY HARLAND 

love was more than love. They adored the child, they 
idolized her. I have never witnessed such affection,' 
the cure told me. ' When she died, I seriously feared 
they would lose their reason. They were dazed, they 
were beside themselves ; for a long while they were 
quite as if mad. But God is merciful. They have 
learnt to live with their affliction.' 

' It is very beautiful,' said I, c the way they have 
sanctified her memory, the way they worship it. 
You know, of course, they keep her room, with her 
things in it, exactly as she left it. That seems to me 
very beautiful.' 

* Her room ? ' questioned the cure, looking vague. 
' What room ? ' 

' Oh, didn't you know ? ' I wondered. ' Her bed- 
room in the chalet. They keep it as she left it, with all 
her things about, her books, her dresses.' 

' I don't think I follow you,' the cure said. c She 
never had a bedroom in the chalet.' 

' Oh, I beg your pardon. One of the front rooms on 
the first floor was her room,' I informed him. 

But he shook his head. ' There is some mistake. 
She never lived in the chalet. She died in the old 
house. The chalet was only just finished when she 
died. The workmen were hardly out of it.' 

' No,' I said, ' it is you who must be mistaken ; you 
must forget. I am quite sure. The Leroux have 
spoken of it to me times without number.' 

* But, my dear sir,' the cure insisted, ' I am not 
merely sure ; I know. I attended the girl in her last 
agony. She died in the farm-house. They had not 
moved into the chalet. The chalet was being fur- 
nished. The last pieces of furniture were taken in 
the very day before her death. The chalet was never 
lived in. You are the only person who has ever lived 
in the chalet. I assure you of the fact.' 

* Well,' I said, ' that is very strange, that is very 
strange indeed.' And for a minute I was bewildered, 



THE HOUSE OF EULALIE 405 

I did not know what to think. But only for a minute. 
Suddenly I cried out, ' Oh, I see I see. I understand.' 

I saw, I understood. Suddenly I saw the pious, 
the beautiful deception that these poor stricken souls 
had sought to practise on themselves ; the beautiful, 
the fond illusion they had created for themselves. 
They had built the house for their daughter, and she 
had died just when it was ready for her. But they 
could not bear they could not bear to think that 
not for one little week even, not even for one poor 
little day or hour, had she lived in the house, enjoyed 
the house. That was the uttermost farthing of their 
sorrow, which they could not pay. They could not 
acknowledge it to their own stricken hearts. So, 
piously, reverently with closed eyes, as it were, that 
they might not know what they were doing they 
had carried the dead girl's things to the room they 
had meant for her, they had arranged them there, 
they had said, ' This was her room ; this was her room.' 
They would not admit to themselves, they would not 
let themselves stop to think, that she had never, even 
for one poor night, slept in it, enjoyed it. They told 
a beautiful pious falsehood to themselves. It was a 
beautiful pious game of ' make-believe,' which, like 
children, they could play together. And the cure 
had said it: God is merciful. In the end they had 
been enabled to confuse their beautiful falsehood with 
reality, and to find comfort in it ; they had been 
enabled to forget that their * make-believe 'was a ' make- 
believe,' and to mistake it for a beautiful comforting 
truth. The uttermost farthing of their sorrow, which 
they could not pay, was not exacted. They were 
suffered to keep it ; and it became their treasure, 
precious to them as fine gold. 

Falsehood truth ? Nay, I think there are illusions 
that are not falsehoods that are Truth's own smiles 
of pity for us. 



WILLIAM SYDNEY PORTER 
(0. HENRY 

18671910 

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI 

ONE dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. 
And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved 
one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and 
the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks 
burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that 
such close dealing implied. Three times Delia counted 
it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next 
day would be Christmas. 

There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on 
the shabby little couch and howl. So Delia did it. 
Which instigates the moral reflection that life is 
made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles 
predominating. 

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding 
from the first stage to the second, take a look at the 
home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not 
exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that 
word on the look-out for the mendicancy squad. 

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which 
no letter would go, and an electric button from which 
no mortal finger, could coax a ring. Also appertaining 
thereunto was a card bearing the name ' Mr. James 
Dillingham Young. 

The ' Dillingham ' had been flung to the breeze 
during a former period of prosperity when its possessor 
was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income 
was shrunk to $20, the letters of ' Dillingham ' looked 
blurred, as though they were thinking seriously of 

406 



THE GIFT OF THE MAGT 407 

contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But 
whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home 
and reached his flat above he was called ' Jim ' and 
greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, 
already introduced to you as Delia. Which is all very 
good. 

Delia finished her cry and attended to her cheeks 
with the powder rag. She stood by the window and 
looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in 
a grey backyard. To-morrow would be Christmas 
Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim 
a present. She had been saving every penny she could 
for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week 
doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she 
had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy 
a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour 
she had spent planning for something nice for him. 
Something fine and rare and sterling something just 
a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being 
owned by Jim. 

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the 
room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 
flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by 
observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longi- 
tudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of 
his looks. Delia, being slender, had mastered the art. 

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood 
before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, 
but her face had lost its colour within twenty seconds. 
Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its 
full length. 

Now, there were two possessions of the James 
Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty 
pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his 
father's and his grandfather's. The other was Delia's 
hair. Had the Queen of Sheba lived in the flat across 
the airshaft, Delia would have let her hair hang out 
of the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her 



408 'O. HENRY' 

Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been 
the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the base- 
ment, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time 
he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy. 

So now Delia's beautiful hair fell about her, rippling 
and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached 
below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. 
And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. 
Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a 
tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. 

On went her old brown jacket ; on went her old 
brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the 
brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out of 
the door and down the stairs to the street. 

Where she stopped the sign read: * Mme Sofronie. 
Hair Goods of All Kinds.' One flight up Delia ran, 
and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too 
white, chilly, hardly looked the * Sofronie.' 

' Will you buy my hair ? ' asked Delia. 

' I buy hair,' said Madame. ' Take yer hat off and 
let's have a sight at the looks of it.' 

Down rippled the brown cascade. 

' Twenty dollars,' said Madame, lifting the mass 
with a practised hand. 

* Give it to me quick,' said Delia. 

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. 
Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the 
stores for Jim's present. 

She found it at last. It surely had been made for 
Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any 
of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. 
It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in 
design, properly proclaiming its value by substance 
alone and not by meretricious ornamentation as all 
good things should do. It was even worthy of The 
Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must 
be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value 
the description applied to both. Twenty- one dollars 



*THE GIFT OF THE MAGI 409 

they took from her for it, and she hurried home with 
the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might 
be properly anxious about the time in any company. 
Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on 
the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used 
in place of a chain. 

When Delia reached home her intoxication gave 
way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her 
curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work 
repairing the ravages made by generosity added to 
love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends 
a mammoth task. 

Within forty minutes her head was covered with 
tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully 
like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection 
in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. 

' If Jim doesn't kill me,' she said to herself, ' before 
he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a 
Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do oh ! 
what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents ? ' 

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan 
was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the 
chops. 

Jim was never late. Delia doubled the fob chain 
in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the 
door that he always entered. Then she heard his 
step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she 
turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of 
saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday 
things, and now she whispered : ' Please, God, make 
him think I am still pretty.' 

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. 
He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was 
only twenty-two and to be burdened with a family ! 
He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. 

Jim stepped inside the door, as immovable as a setter 
at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Delia, 
and there was an expression in them that she could not 



410 '0. HENRY' 

read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor 
surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the 
sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply 
stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on 
his face. 

Delia wriggled off the table and went for him. 

4 Jim, darling,' she cried, ' don't look at me that way. 
I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn't 
have lived through Christmas without giving you a 
present. It'll grow out again you won't mind, will 
you ? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully 
fast. Say " Merry Christmas ! " Jim, and let's be 
happy. You don't know what a nice what a beauti- 
ful, nice gift I've got for you.' 

4 You've cut off your hair ? ' asked Jim, laboriously, 
as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet, even 
after the hardest mental labour. 

1 Cut it off and sold it,' said Delia. ' Don't you like 
me just as well, anyhow ? I'm me without my hair, 
ain't I ? ' 

Jim looked about the room curiously. 

1 You say your hair is gone ? ' he said, with an air 
almost of idiocy. 

4 You needn't look for it,' said Delia. 4 It's sold, 
I tell you sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, 
boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the 
hairs of my head were numbered,' she went on with a 
sudden serious sweetness, 4 but nobody could ever 
count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, 
Jim ? ' 

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He 
enfolded his Delia. For ten seconds let us regard with 
discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the 
other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a 
year what is the difference ? A mathematician or a 
wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi 
brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. 
This dark assertion will be illuminated later on. 



THE GIFT OF THE MAGI 411 

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and 
threw it upon the table. 

' Don't make any mistake, Dell,' he said, ' about me. 
I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut 
or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my 
girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you 
may see why you had me going a while at first.' 

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and 
paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy ; and 
then, alas ! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears 
and wails, necessitating the immediate employment 
of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat. 

For there lay The Combs the set of combs, side and 
back, that Delia had worshipped for long in a Broadway 
window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise-shell, with 
jewelled rims just the shade to wear in the beautiful 
vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, 
and her heart had simply craved and yearned over 
them without the least hope of possession. And now, 
they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned 
the coveted adornments were gone. 

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length 
she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and 
say : ' My hair grows so fast, Jim ! ' 

And then Delia leaped up like a little singed cat 
and cried, ' Oh, oh ! ' 

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She 
held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The 
dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection 
of her bright and ardent spirit. 

' Isn't it a dandy, Jim ? I hunted all over town 
to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred 
times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to 
see how it looks on it.' 

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch 
and put his hands under the back of his head and 
smiled. 

' Dell,' said he, ' let's put our Christmas presents 



412 'O. HENRY' 

away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use 
just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to 
buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops 
on.' 

The magi, as you know, were wise men wonderfully 
wise men who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. 
They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. 
Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, pos- 
sibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of dupli- 
cation. And here I have lamely related to you the 
uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat 
who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest 
treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise 
of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts 
these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive 
gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are 
wisest. They are the magi. 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 

The cities ara full of pride, 

Challenging each to each 
This from her mountainside, 

That from her burthened beach. 

K. KIPLING. 

Fancy a novel about Chicago or Buffalo, let us say, or 
Nashville, Tennessee ! There are just three big cities in 
the United States that are " story cities " New York, of 
course, New Orleans, and, best of the lot, San Francisco. 
FRANK NOBBIS. 

EAST is East, and West is San Francisco, according to 
Californians. Californians are a race of people ; they 
are not merely inhabitants of a State. They are the 
Southerners of the West. Now, Chicagoans are no 
less loyal to their city ; but when you ask them why, 
they stammer and speak of lake fish and the new Odd 
Fellows Building. But Californians go into detail. 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 413 

Of course they have, in the climate, an argument 
that is good for half an hour while you are thinking 
of your coal bills and heavy underwear. But as soon 
as they come to mistake your Silence for conviction, 
madness comes upon them, and they picture the city 
of the Golden Gate as the Bagdad of the New World. 
So far, as a matter of opinion, no refutation is necessary. 
But, dear cousins all (from Adam and Eve descended), 
it is a rash one who will lay his finger on the map and 
say : ' In this town there can be no romance what 
could happen here ? ' Yes, it is a bold and a rash deed 
to challenge in one sentence history, romance, and 
Band and McNally. 

NASHVILLE, A city, port of . delivery, and the 
capital of the State of Tennessee, is on the Cumber- 
land River and on the N.C. & St. L. and the L. & N. 
railroads. This city is regarded as the most import- 
ant educational centre in the South. 



I stepped off the train at 8 P.M. Having searched the 
thesaurus in vain for adjectives, I must, as a substi- 
tution, hie me to comparison in the form of a recipe. 

Take of London fog 30 parts ; malaria 10 parts ; 
gas leaks 20 parts ; dewdrops gathered in a brick yard 
at sunrise, 25 parts ; odour of honeysuckle 15 parts. 
Mix. 

The mixture will give you an approximate conception 
of a Nashville drizzle. It is not so fragrant as a moth- 
ball nor as thick as pea-soup ; but 'tis enough 'twill 
serve. 

I went to the hotel in a tumbril. It required strong 
self -suppression for me to keep from climbing to the 
top of it and giving an imitation of Sidney Carton. 
The vehicle was drawn by beasts of a bygone era and 
driven by something dark and emancipated. 

I was sleepy and tired, so when I got to the hotel I 
hurriedly paid it the fifty cents it demanded (with 
approximate laggniappe, I assure you). I knew its 



414 <O. HENRY' 

habits ; and I did not want to hear it prate about its 
old ' marster ' or anything that happened ' befo' 
de wah.' 

The hotel was one of the kind described as ' reno- 
vated.' That means $20,000 worth of new marble 
pillars, tiling, electric lights and brass cuspidors in the 
lobby, and a new L. & N. time table and a lithograph 
of Lookout Mountain in each one of the great rooms 
above. The management was without reproach, the 
attention full of exquisite Southern courtesy, the 
service as slow as the progress of a snail and as good- 
humoured as Rip Van Winkle. The food was worth 
travelling a thousand miles for. There is no other 
hotel in the world where you can get such chicken 
livers en brochette. 

At dinner I asked a negro waiter if there was any- 
thing doing in town. He pondered gravely for a 
minute, and then replied : ' Well, boss, I don't really 
reckon there's anything at all doin' after sundown.' 

Sundown had been accomplished ; it had been 
drowned in the drizzle long before. So that spectacle 
was denied me. But I went forth upon the streets in 
the drizzle to see what might be there. 

It is built on undulating grounds ; and the streets 
are lighted by electricity at a cost of $32,470 per 
annum. 

As I left the hotel there was a race riot. Down upon 
me charged a company of freedmen, or Arabs, or Zulus, 
armed with no, I saw with relief that they were not 
rifles, but whips. And I saw dimly a caravan of black, 
clumsy vehicles ; and at the reassuring shouts, ' Kyar 
you anywhere in the town, boss, fuh fifty cents,' I 
reasoned that I was merely a ' fare ' instead of a 
victim. 

I walked through long streets, all leading uphill. I 
wondered how those streets ever came down again. 
Perhaps they didn't until they were ' graded.' On a 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 415 

few of the ' main streets ' I saw lights in stores here 
and there ; saw street cars go by conveying worthy 
burghers hither and yon ; saw people pass engaged in 
the art of conversation, and heard a burst of semi- 
lively laughter issuing from a soda-water and ice-cream 
parlour. The streets other than 'main 5 seemed to 
have enticed upon their borders houses consecrated to 
peace and domesticity. In many of them lights shone 
behind discreetly drawn window shades ; in a few 
pianos tinkled orderly and irreproachable music. 
There was, indeed, little ' doing.' I wished I had come 
before sundown. So I returned to my hotel. 

In November, 1864, the Confederate General 
Hood advanced against Nashville, where he shut 
up a National force under General Thomas. The 
latter then sallied forth and defeated the Confederates 
in a terrible conflict. 

All my life I have heard of, admired, and witnessed 
the fine marksmanship of the South in its peaceful 
conflicts in the tobacco-chewing regions. But in my 
hotel a surprise awaited me. There were twelve 
bright, new, imposing, capacious brass cuspidors in the 
great lobby, tall enough to be called urns and so wide- 
mouthed that the crack pitcher of a lady baseball team 
should have been able to throw a ball into one of them 
at five paces distant. But, although a terrible battle 
had raged and was still raging, the enemy had not suf- 
fered. Bright, new, imposing, capacious, untouched, 
they stood. But shades of Jefferson Brick ! the tile 
floor the beautiful tile floor ! I could not avoid 
thinking of the battle of Nashville, and trying to 
draw, as is my foolish habit, some deductions about 
hereditary marksmanship. 

Here I first saw Major (by misplaced courtesy) 
Wentworth Caswell. I knew him for a type the 
moment my eyes suffered from the sight of him. A 
rat has no geographical habitat. My old friend, 



416 '0. HENRY' 

A. Tennyson, said, as he so well said almost every- 
thing : 

'Prophet, curse me the babbling lip, 
And curse me the British vermin, the rat.* 

Let us regard the word ' British ' as interchangeable 
ad lib. A rat is a rat. 

This man was hunting about the hotel lobby like a 
* starved dog that had forgotten where he had buried a 
bone. He had a face of great acreage, red, pulpy, and 
with a kind of sleepy massiveness like that of Buddha. 
He possessed one single virtue he was very smoothly 
shaven. The mark of the beast is not indelible upon 
a man until he goes about with a stubble. I think that 
if he had not used his razor that day I would have 
repulsed his advances, and the criminal calendar of the 
world would have been spared the addition of one 
murder. 

I happened to be standing within five feet of a cus- 
pidor when Major Caswell opened fire upon it. I had 
been observant enough to perceive that the attacking 
force Was using Gatlings instead of squirrel rifles ; so 
I side-stepped so promptly that the major seized the 
opportunity to apologize to a noncombatant. He had 
the blabbing lip. In four minutes he had become my 
friend and had dragged me to the bar. 

I desire to interpolate here that I am a Southerner. 
But I am not one by profession or trade. I eschew the 
string tie, the slouch hat, the Prince Albert, the number 
of bales of cotton destroyed by Sherman, and plug 
chewing. When the orchestra plays Dixie I do not 
cheer. I slide a little lower on the leather- cornered 
seat and, well, order another Wurzburger and wish that 
Longstreet had but what's the use ? 

Major Caswell banged the bar with his fist, and the 
first gun at Fort Sumter re-echoed. When he fired 
the last one at Appomattox I began to hope. But then 
he began on family trees, and demonstrated that Adam 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 417 

was only a third cousin of a collateral branch of the 
Caswell family. Genealogy disposed of, he took up, 
to my distaste, his private family matters. He spoke 
of his wife, traced her descent back to Eve, and pro- 
fanely denied any possible rumour that she may have 
had relations in the land of Nod. 

By this time I began to suspect that he was trying to 
obscure by noise the fact that he had ordered the drinks, 
on the chance that I would be bewildered into paying 
for them. But when they were down he crashed a 
silver dollar loudly upon the bar. Then, of course, 
another serving was obligatory. And when I had paid 
for that I took leave of him brusquely ; for I wanted 
no more of him. But before I had obtained my release 
he had prated loudly of an income that his wife received, 
and showed a handful of silver money. 

When I got my key at the desk the clerk said to me 
courteously : ' If that man Caswell has annoyed you, 
and if you would like to make a complaint, we will have 
him ejected. He is a nuisance, a loafer, and without 
any known means of support, although he seems to 
have some money most the time. But we don't seem 
to be able to hit upon any means of throwing him out 
legally. 5 

' Why, no,' said I, after some reflection ; * I don't 
see my way clear to making a complaint. But I would 
like to place myself on record as asserting that I do not 
care for his company. Your town,' I continued, 
' seems to be a quiet one. What manner of enter- 
tainment, adventure, or excitement have you to offer 
to the stranger within your gates ? ' 

4 Well, sir,' said the clerk, ' there will be a show here 
next Thursday. It is I'll look it up and have the 
announcement sent up to your room with the ice water. 
Good night.' 

After I went up to my room I looked out of the win- 
dow. It was only about ten o'clock, but I looked upon a 
silent town. The drizzle continued, spangled with dim 



418 0. HENBY' 

lights, as far apart as currants in a cake sold at the 
Ladies' Exchange. 

' A quiet place,' I said to myself, as my first shoe 
struck the ceiling of the occupant of the room beneath 
mine. * Nothing of the lif e here that gives colour 
and variety to the cities in the East and West. Just a 
good, ordinary, humdrum business town.' 

Nashville occupies a foremost place among the 
manufacturing centres of the country. It is the 
fifth boot and shoe market in the United States, the 
largest candy and cracker manufacturing city in 
the South, and does an enormous wholesale drygoods, 
grocery, and drug business. 

I must tell you how I came to be in Nashville, and 
assure ypu the digression brings as much tedium to me 
as it does to you. I was travelling elsewhere on my own 
business, but I had a commission from a Northern 
literary magazine to stop over there and establish 
a personal connection between the publication and 
one of its contributors, Azalea Adair. 

Adair (there was no clue to the personality except 
the handwriting) had sent in some essays (lost art !) 
and poems that had made the editors swear approvingly 
over their one o'clock luncheon. So they had com- 
missioned me to round up said Adair and corner by 
contract his or her output at two cents a word before 
some other publisher offered her ten or twenty. 

At nine o'clock the next morning, after my chicken 
livers en brochette (try them if you can find that hotel), 
I strayed out into the drizzle, which was still on for an 
unlimited run. At the first corner I came upon Uncle 
Caesar. He was a stalwart negro, older than the 
pyramids, with grey wool and a face that reminded me 
of Brutus, and a second afterwards of the late King 
Cettiwayo. He wore the most remarkable coat that 
I ever had seen or expect to see. It reached to his 
ankles and had once been a Confederate grey in colours. 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT ,419 

But rain and sun and age had so variegated it that 
Joseph's coat, beside it, would have faded to a pale 
monochrome. I must linger with that coat, for it 
has to do with the story the story that is so long in 
coming, because you can hardly expect anything to 
happen at Nashville. 

Once it must have been the military coat of an officer. 
The cape of it had vanished, but all ad own its front it 
had been frogged and tasselled magnificently. But 
now the frogs and tassels were gone. In their stead 
had been patiently stitched (I surmised by some 
surviving ' black mammy ' ) new frogs made of cun- 
ningly twisted common hempen twine. This twine 
was frayed and dishevelled. It must have been added 
to the coat as a substitute for vanished splendours, 
with tasteless but painstaking devotion, for it followed 
faithfully the curves of the long-missing frogs. And, 
to cpmplete the comedy and pathos of the garment, 
all its buttons were gone save one. The second button 
from the top alone remained. The coat was fastened 
by other twine strings tied through the button-holes 
and other holes rudely pierced in the opposite side. 
There was never such a weird garment so fantastically 
bedecked and of so many mottled hues. The lone 
button was the size of a half-dollar, made of yellow 
horn and sewed on with coarse twine. 

This negro stood by a carriage so old that Ham him- 
self might have started a hack line with it after he left 
the ark with the two animals hitched to it. As I 
approached he threw open the door, drew out a leather 
duster, waved it without using it, and said in deep, 
. rumbling tones : 

* Step right in, suh ; ain't a speck of dust in it jus' 
got back from a funeral, suh.' 

I inferred that on such gala occasions carriages were 
given an extra cleaning. I looked up and down the 
street and perceived that there was little choice among 
the vehicles for hire that lined the kerb. I looked 



420 '0. HENRY' 

in my memorandum book for the address of Azalea 
Adair. 

' I want to go to 861 Jessamine Street,' I said, and 
was about to step into the hack. But for an instant 
the thick, long, gorilla-like arm of the old negro barred 
me. On his massive and saturnine face a look of 
sudden suspicion and enmity flashed for a moment. 
Then, with quickly-returning conviction, he asked 
blandishingly : ' What are you gwine there for, boss ? ' 

' What is that to you ? ' I asked, a little sharply. 

'Nothin', suh, jus' nothin'. Only it's a lonesome 
kind of part of town and few folks ever has business 
out there. Step right in. The seats is clean jes' 
got back from a funeral, suh.' 

A mile and a half it must have been to our journey's 
end. I could hear nothing but the fearful rattle of the 
ancient hack over the uneven brick paving ; I could 
smell nothing but the drizzle, now further flavoured 
with coal smoke and something like a mixture of tar 
and oleander blossoms. All I could see through the 
streaming windows were two rows of dim houses. 

The city has an area of 10 square miles ; 181 miles 
of streets, of which 137 miles are paved ; a system 
of waterworks that cost $2,000,000, with 77 miles of 
mains. 

Eight-sixty-one Jessamine Street was a decayed 
mansion. Thirty yards back from the street it stood, 
outmerged in a splendid grove of trees and untrimmed 
shrubbery. A row of box bushes overflowed and 
almost hid the paling fence from sight ; the gate was 
kept closed by a rope noose that encircled the gate-post . 
and the first paling of the gate. But when you got 
inside you saw that 861 was a shell, a shadow, a ghost 
of former grandeur and excellence. But in the story, 
I have not yet got inside. 

When the hack had ceased from rattling and the 
weary quadrupeds came to a rest I handed my jehu his 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 421 

fifty cents with an additional quarter, feeling a glow of 
conscious generosity as I did so. He refused it. 
' It's two dollars, suh,' he said. 

* How's that ? ' I asked. ' I plainly heard you call 
out at the hotel : " Fifty cents to any part of the 
town." ' 

' It's two dollars, suh,' he repeated obstinately. 
6 It's a long ways from the hotel.' 

* It is within the city limits and well within them,' 
I argued. * Don't think that you have picked up a 
greenhorn Yankee. Do you see those hills over 
there ? ' I went on, pointing toward the- east (I could 
not see them, myself, for the drizzle) ; ' well, I was 
born and raised on their other side. You old fool 
nigger, can't you tell people from other people when you 
see 'em ? ' 

The grim face of King Cettiwayo softened. * Is you 
from the South, suh ? I reckon it was them shoes of 
yourn fooled me. There is somethin' sharp in the toes 
for a Southern gen'l'man to wear.' 

' Then the charge is fifty cents, I suppose ? ' said I 
inexorably. 

His former expression, a mingling of cupidity and 
hostility, returned, remained ten seconds, and vanished. 

' Boss,' he said, * fifty cents is right ; but I needs 
two dollars, suh ; I'm obleeged to have two dollars. 
I ain't demandin' it now, suh ; after I knows whar 
you's from ; I'm jus' sayin' that I has to have two 
dollars to-night, and business is mighty po'.' 

Peace and confidence settled upon his heavy features. 
He had been luckier than he had hoped. Instead of 
having picked up a greenhorn, ignorant of rates, he 
had come upon an inheritance. 

' You confounded old rascal,' I said, reaching down 
into my pocket, ' you ought to be turned over to the 
police.' 

For the first time I saw him smile. He knew ; he 
knew; HE KNEW. 



422 '0. HENRY' 

I gave him two one-dollar bills. As I handed them 
over I noticed that one of them had seen parlous times. 
Its upper right-hand corner was missing, and it had been 
torn through in the middle, but joined again. A strip 
of blue tissue paper, pasted over the split, preserved its 
negotiability. 

Enough of the African bandit for the present : I left 
him happy, lifted the rope and opened the creaky gate. 

The house, as I said, was a shell. A paint brush had 
not touched it in twenty years. I could not see why a 
strong wind should not have bowled it over like a house 
of cards until- 1 looked again at the trees that hugged 
it close the trees that saw the battle of Nashville 
and still drew their protecting branches around it 
against storm and enemy and cold. 

Azalea Adair, fifty years old, white-haired, a descend- 
ant of the cavaliers, as thin and frail as the house she 
lived in, robed in the cheapest and cleanest dress I ever 
saw, with an air as simple as a queen's, received me. 

The reception-room seemed a mile square, because 
there was nothing in it except some rows of books, on 
unpainted white-pine bookshelves, a cracked marble- 
top table, a rag rug, a hairless horsehair sofa, and two 
or three chairs. Yes, there was a picture on the wall, 
a coloured crayon drawing of a cluster of pansies. I 
looked around for the portrait of Andrew Jackson and 
the pine-cone hanging basket, but they were not 
there. 

Azalea Adair and I had conversation, a little of which 
will be repeated to you. She was a product of the old 
South, gently nurtured in the sheltered life. Her 
learning was not broad, but was deep and of splendid 
originality in its somewhat narrow scope. She had 
been educated at home, and her knowledge of the 
world was derived from inference and by inspiration. 
Of such is the precious, small group of essayists made. 
While she talked to me I kept brushing my fingers, 
trying, unconsciously, to rid them guiltily of the absent 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 423 

dust from the half-calf backs of Lamb, Chaucer, 
Hazlitt, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne, and Hood. She 
was exquisite, she was a valuable discovery. Nearly 
everybody nowadays knows too much oh, so much 
too much of real life. 

I could perceive clearly that Azalea Adair was very 
poor. A house and a dress she had, not much else, I 
fancied. So, divided between my duty to the magazine 
and my loyalty to the poets and essayists who fought . 
Thomas in the valley of the Cumberland, I listened to 
her voice, which was like a harpsichord's, and found 
that I could not speak of contracts. In the presence 
of the nine Muses and the three Graces one hesitated to 
lower the topic to two cents. There would have to be 
another colloquy after I had regained my commercial- 
ism. But I spoke of my mission, and three o'clock of 
the next afternoon was set for the discussion of the 
business proposition. 

' Your town,' I said, as I began to make ready to 
depart (which is the time for smooth generalities), 
' seems to be a quiet, sedate place. A home town, I 
should say, where few things out of the ordinary ever 
happen.' 

It carries on an extensive trade in stoves and 
hollow ware with the West and South, and its 
flouring mills have a daily capacity of more than 
2,000 barrels. 

Azalea Adair seemed to reflect. 

' I have never thought of it that way,' she said, with 
a kind of sincere intensity that seemed to belong to her. 
' Isn't it in the still, quiet places that things do happen ? 
I fancy that when God began to create the earth on 
the first Monday morning one could have leaned out 
one's windows and heard the drop of mud splashing 
from His trowel as He built up the everlasting hills. 
What did the noisiest project in the world I mean the 
building of the tower of Babel result in finally ? A 



424 '0. HENRY' 

page and a half of Esperanto in the North American 
Review :' 

' Of course,' said I platitudinously, ' human nature 
is the same everywhere ; but there is more colour er 
more drama and movement and-r-er romance in some 
cities than in others.' 

' On the surface,' said Azalea Adair. ' I have 
travelled many times around the world in a golden 
airship wafted on two wings print and dreams. I 
have seen (on one of my imaginary tours) the Sultan 
of Turkey bowstring with his own hands one of his 
wives who had uncovered her face in public. I have 
seen a man in Nashville tear up his theatre tickets 
because his wife was going out with her face covered 
with rice powder. In San Francisco's Chinatown I 
saw the slave girl Sing Yee dipped slowly, inch by inch, 
in boiling almond oil to make her swear she would never 
see her American lover again. She gave in when the 
boiling oil had reached three inches above her knee. 
At a euchre party in East Nashville the other night 
I saw Kitty Morgan cut dead by seven of her school- 
mates and lifelong friends because she had married a 
house painter. The boiling oil was sizzling as high as 
her heart ; but I wish you could have seen the fine little 
smile that she carried from table to table. Oh, yes, 
it is a humdrum towri. Just a few miles of red-brick 
houses and mud and stores and lumber yards.' 

Some one knocked hollowly at the back of the house. 
Azalea Adair breathed a soft apology and went to inves- 
tigate the sound. She came back in three minutes with 
brightened eyes, a faint flush on her cheeks, and ten 
years lifted from her shoulders. 

' You must have a cup of tea before you go,' she said, 
' and a sugar cake.' 

She reached and shook a little iron bell. In shuffled 
a small negro girl about twelve, barefoot, not very tidy, 
glowering at me with thumb in mouth and bulging eyes. 

Azalea Adair opened a tiny, worn purse and drew out 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 425 

a dollar bill, a dollar bill with the upper right-hand 
corner missing, torn in two pieces and pasted together 
again with a strip of blue tissue paper. It was one of 
the bills I had given the piratical negro there was no 
doubt of it. 

* Go up to Mr. Baker's store on the corner, Impy,' 
she said, handing the girl the dollar bill, * and get me a 
quarter of a pound of tea -the kind he always sends 
me and ten cents worth of sugar cakes. Now hurry. 
The supply of tea in the house happens to be exhausted,' 
she explained to me. 

Impy left by the back way. Before the scrape of her 
hard, bare feet had died away on the back porch, a wild 
shriek I was sure it was hers filled the hollow house. 
Then the deep, gruff tones of an angry man's voice 
mingled with the girl's further squeals and unintelligible 
words. 

Azalea Adair rose without surprise or emotion and 
disappeared. For two minutes I heard the hoarse 
rumble of the man's voice ; then something like an oath 
and a light scuffle, and she returned calmly to her chair. 

1 This is a roomy house,' she said, ' and I have a 
tenant for part of it. I am sorry to have to rescind my 
invitation to tea. It was impossible to get the kind I 
always use at the store. Perhaps to-morrow Mr. Baker 
will be able to supply me.' 

I was sure that Impy had not had time to leave the 
house. I inquired concerning street-car lines and took 
my leave. After I was well on my way I remembered 
that I had not learned Azalea Adair' s name. But 
to-morrow would do. 

That same day I started in on the course of iniquity 
that this uneventful city forced upon me. I was in the 
town only two days, but in that time I managed to lie 
shamelessly by telegraph, and to be an accomplice 
after the fact, if that is the correct legal term to a 
murder. 

As I rounded the corner nearest my hotel the Af rite 



426 '0. HENRY' 

coachman of the polychromatic, nonpareil coat seized 
me, swung open the dungeony door of his peripatetic 
sarcophagus, flirted his feather duster and began his 
ritual : ' Step right in, boss. Carriage is clean jus' 
got back from a funeral. Fifty cents to any ' 

And then he knew me and grinned broadly. * 'Scuse 
me, boss ; you is de gen'l'man what rid out with me dis 
mawnin'. Thank you kindly, suh.' 

6 1 am going out to 861 again to-morrow afternoon at 
three,' said I, ' and if you will be here, I'll let you drive 
me. So you know Miss Adair ? ' I concluded, thinking 
of my dollar bill. 

* I belonged to her father, Judge Adair, suh,' he 
replied. 

' I judge that she is pretty poor,' I said. ' She hasn't 
much money to speak of, has she ? ' 

For an instant I looked again at the fierce counten- 
ance of King Cettiwayo, and then he changed back to 
an extortionate old negro hack driver. 

' She a'n't gwine to starve, suh,' he said slowly. 
' She has reso'ces, suh ; she has reso'ces.' 

' I shall pay you fifty cents for the trip,' said I. 

' Dat is puffeckly correct, suh,' he answered humbly. 
' I jus' had to have dat two dollars dis mawnin', boss.' 

I went to the hotel and lied by electricity. I wired 
the magazine : ' A. Adair holds out for eight cents a 
word.' 

The answer that came back was : ' Give it to her 
quick, you duffer.' 

Just before dinner ' Major ' Wentworth Caswell bore 
down upon me with the greetings of a long-lost friend. 
I have seen few men whom I have so instantaneously 
hated, and of whom it was so difficult to be rid. I was 
standing at the bar when he invaded me ; therefore I 
could not wave the white ribbon in his face. I would 
have paid gladly for the drinks, hoping, thereby, to 
escape another ; but he was one of those despicable, 
roaring, advertising bibbers who must have brass bands 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 427 

and fireworks attend upon every cent that they waste 
in their follies. 

With an air of producing millions he drew two one- 
dollar bills from a pocket and dashed one of them upon 
the bar. I looked once more at the dollar bill with the 
upper right-hand corner missing, torn through the 
middle, and patched with a strip of blue tissue paper. 
It was my dollar bill again. It could have been no 
other. 

I went up to my room. The drizzle and the monot- 
ony of a dreary, eventless Southern town had made me 
tired and listless. I remember that just before I went 
to bed I mentally disposed of the mysterious dollar bill 
(which might % ]iave formed the clue to a tremendously 
fine detective story of San Francisco) by saying to 
myself sleepily : ' Seems as if a lot of people here own 
stock in the Hack-Driver's Trust. Pays dividends 
promptly, too. Wonder if ' Then I fell asleep. 

King Cettiwayo was at his post the next day, and 
rattled my bones over the stones out to 861. He was 
to wait and rattle me back again when I was ready. 

Azalea Adair looked paler and cleaner and frailer 
than she had looked the day before. After she had 
signed the contract at eight cents per word she grew 
still paler and began to slip out of her chair. Without 
much trouble I managed to get her up on the ante- 
diluvian horsehair sofa and then I ran out to the side- 
walk and yelled to the coffee- coloured Pirate to bring 
a doctor. With a wisdom that I had not suspected in 
him, he abandoned his team and struck off up the 
street afoot, realizing the value of speed. In ten 
minutes he returned with a grave, grey-haired, and 
capable man of medicine. In a few words (worth 
much less than eight cents each) I explained to him my 
presence in the hollow house of mystery. He bowed 
with stately understanding, and turned to the old negro. 

' Uncle Caesar,' he said calmly, ' run up to my house 
and ask Miss Lucy to give you a cream pitcher full of 



428 '0. HENRY' 

fresh milk and half a tumbler of port wine. And hurry 
back. Don't drive run. I want you to get back 
sometime this week.' 

It occurred to me that Dr. Merriman also felt a 
distrust as to the speeding powers of the land-pirate's 
steeds. After Uncle . Csesar was gone, lumberingly, 
but swiftly, up the street, the doctor looked me over 
with great politeness and as much careful calculation 
until he had decided that I might do. 

' It is only a case of insufficient nutrition,' he said. 

* In other words, the result of poverty, pride, and 
starvation. Mrs. Caswell has many devoted friends 
who would be glad to aid her, but she will accept noth- 
ing except from that old negro, Uncle Csesar, who was 
once owned by her family.' 

' Mrs. Caswell ! ' said I, in surprise. And then I 
looked at the contract and saw that she had signed it 

* Azalea Adair Caswell.' 

' I thought she was Miss Adair,' I said. 

' Married to a drunken, worthless loafer, sir,' said the 
doctor. ' It is said that he robs her even of the small 
sums that her old servant contributes toward her 
support.' 

When the milk and wine had been brought, the doctor 
soon revived Azalea Adair. She sat up and talked of 
the beauty of the autumn leaves that were then in 
season, and their height of colour. She referred 
lightly to her fainting seizure as the outcome of an old 
palpitation of the heart. Impy fanned her as she lay 
on the sofa. The doctor was due elsewhere, and I 
followed him to the door. I told him that it was 
within my power and intentions to make a reasonable 
advance of money to Azalea Adair on future contri- 
butions to the magazine, and he seemed pleased. 

' By the way,' he said, ' perhaps you would like to 
know that you have had royalty for a coachman. Old 
Caesar's grandfather was a king in Congo. Caesar him- 
self has royal ways, as you may have observed.' 



A MUNICIPAL REPORT 429 

As the doctor was moving off I heard Uncle Caesar's 
voice inside ; ' Did he git bofe of dem two dollars from 
you, Mis' Zalea ? ' 

' Yes, Caesar,' I heard Azalea Adair answer weakly. 
And then I went in and concluded business negotiations 
with our contributor. I assumed the responsibility of 
advancing fifty dollars, putting it as a necessary 
formality in binding our bargain. And then Uncle 
Caesar drove me back to the hotel. 

Here ends all of the story as far as I can testify as a 
witness. The rest must be only bare statements of 
facts. 

At about six o'clock I went out for a stroll. Uncle 
Caesar was at his corner. He threw open the door of 
his carriage, flourished his duster and began his depress- 
ing formula : ' Step right in, suh. Fifty cents to 
anywhere in the city hack's puffickly clean, suh jus' 
got back from a funeral ' 

And then he recognized me. I think his eyesight 
was getting bad. His coat had taken on a few more 
faded shades of colour, the twine strings were more 
frayed and ragged, the last remaining button the 
button of yellow horn was gone. A motley descend- 
ant of kings was Uncle Caesar ! 

About two hours later I saw an excited crowd 
besieging the front of a drug store. In a desert where 
nothing happens this was manna ; so I edged my way 
inside. On an extemporized couch of empty boxes 
and chairs was stretched the mortal corporeality of 
Major Wentworth Caswell. A doctor was testing him 
for the immortal ingredient. His decision was that 
it was conspicuous by its absence. 

The erstwhile Major had been found dead on a dark 
street and brought by curious and ennuied citizens 
to the drug store. The late human being had been 
engaged in terrific battle the details showed that. 
Loafer and reprobate though he had been, he had been 
also a warrior. But he had lost. His hands were yet 



430 '0. HENRY' 

clenched so tightly that his fingers would not be opened. 
The gentle citizens who had known him, stood about 
and searched their vocabularies to find some good 
words, if it were possible, to speak of him. One kind- 
looking man said, after much thought : ' When "Cas" 
was about fo'teen he was one of the best spellers in 
school.' 

While I stood there the fingers of the right hand of 
4 the man that w r as,' which hung down the side of a 
white pine box, relaxed, and dropped something at 
my feet. I covered it with one foot quietly, and a little 
later on I picked it up and pocketed it. I reasoned 
that in his last struggle his hand must have seized 
that object unwittingly and held it in a death grip. 

At the hotel that night the main topic of conversa- 
tion, with the possible exception of politics and pro- 
hibition, was the demise of Major Caswell. I heard 
one man say to a group of listeners : 

' In my opinion, gentlemen, Caswell was murdered by 
some of these no-account niggers for his money. He 
had fifty dollars this afternoon which ho showed to 
several gentlemen in the hotel. When he was found 
the money was not on his person.' 

I left the city the next morning at nine, and as the 
train was crossing the bridge over the Cumberland 
River I took out of my pocket a yellow horn overcoat 
button the size of a fifty-cent piece, with frayed ends 
of coarse twine hanging from it, and cast it out of the 
window into the slow, muddy waters below. 

1 ivonder wJuiVs doing in Buffalo ! 

MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 

4 AUNT Ellen,' said Octavia cheerfully, as she threw 
her black kid gloves carefully at the dignified Persian 
cat on the window-seat, ' I'm a pauper.' 

4 You are so extreme in your statements, Octavia, 
dear,' said Aunt Ellen mildly, looking up from her 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 431 

paper. ' If you find yourself temporarily in need of 
some small change for bonbons, you will find my purse 
in the drawer of the writing-desk.' 

Octavia Beaupree removed her hat and seated her- 
self on a footstool near her aunt's chair, clasping her 
hands about her knees. Her slim and flexible figure, 
clad in a modish mourning costume, accommodated 
itself easily and gracefully to the trying position. Her 
bright and youthful face, with its pair of sparkling, 
life-enamoured eyes, tried to compose itself *to the 
seriousness that the occasion seemed to demand. 

4 You good auntie, it isn't a case of bonbons ; it is 
abject, staring, unpicturesque poverty, with ready- 
made clothes, gasolined gloves, and probably one 
o'clock dinners all waiting with the traditional wolf 
at the door. I've just come from my lawyer, auntie, 
and, " Please, ma'am, I ain't got nothink 't all. 
Flowers, lady ? Buttonhole, gentleman ? Pencils, 
sir, three for five, to help a poor widow " ? Do I do it 
nicely, auntie, or, as a bread-winning accomplishment, 
were my lessons in elocution entirely wasted ? ' 

* Do be serious, my dear,' said Aunt Ellen, letting 
her paper fall to the floor, * long enough to tell me what 
you mean. Colonel Beaupree' s estate ' 

* Colonel Beaupree' s estate,' interrupted Octavia, 
emphasizing her words with appropriate dramatic 
gestures, ' is of Spanish castellar architecture. 
Colonel Beaupree' s resources are wind. Colonel 
Beaupree' s stocks are water. Colonel Beaupree' s 
income is all in. The statement lacks the legal 
technicalities to which I have been listening for an 
hour, but that is what it means when translated.' 

* Octavia ! ' Aunt Ellen was now visibly possessed 
by consternation. ' I can hardly believe it. And it 
was the impression that he was worth a million. And 
the De Peysters themselves introduced him ! ' 

Octavia rippled out a laugh, and then became 
properly grave. 



432 'O. HENRY* 

' De mortuis nil, auntie not even the rest of it. The 
dear old colonel what a gold brick he was, after all f 
I paid for my bargain fairly I'm all here, am I not ? 
items : eyes, fingers, toes, youth, old family, un- 
questionable position in society as called for in the 
contract no wild-cat stock here.' Octavia picked up 
the morning paper from the floor. c But I'm not going 
to " squeal " isn't that what they call it when you 
rail at Fortune because you've lost the game ? ' She 
turned the pages of the paper calmly. * " Stock 
market " no use for that. " Society's doings " 
that's done. Here is my page the wish column. A 
Van Dresser could not be said to " want " for anything, 
of course. " Chambermaids, cooks, canvassers, steno- 
graphers " ' 

' Dear,' said Aunt Ellen, with a little tremor in her 
voice, ' please do not talk in that way. Even if your 
affairs are in so unfortunate a condition, there is my 
three thousand ' 

Octavia sprang up lithely, and deposited a smart kiss 
on the delicate cheek of the prim little elderly maid. 

' Blessed auntie, your three thousand is just sufficient 
to insure your Hyson to be free from willow leaves and 
keep the Persian in sterilized cream. I know I'd be 
welcome, but I prefer to strike bottom like Beelzebub 
rather than hang around like the Peri listening to 
the music from the side entrance. I'm going to earn 
my own living. There's nothing else to do. I'm a 
Oh, oh, oh ! I had forgotten. There's one thing saved 
from the wreck. It's a corral no, a ranch in let me 
gee Texas ; an asset, dear old Mr. Bannister called it. 
How pleased he was to show me something he could 
describe as unencumbered ! I've a description of it 
among those stupid papers he made me bring away with 
me from his office. I'll try to find it.' 

Octavia found her shopping-bag, and drew from it a 
long envelope filled with typewritten documents. 

' A ranch in Texas,' sighed Aunt Ellen. ' It sounds 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 433 

to me more like a liability than an asset. Those are 
the places where the centipedes are found, and cowboys, 
and fandangos.' 

' " The R-ancho de las Sombras," J read Octavia from 
a sheet of violently purple typewriting, ' " is situated 
one hundred and ten miles south-east of San Antonio, 
and thirty-eight miles from its nearest railroad station, 
Nopal, on the I. and G-.N. Ranch consists of 7,680 
acres of well- watered land, with title conferred by State 
patents, and twenty-two sections, or 14,080 acres, 
partly under yearly running lease and partly bought 
under State's twenty-year-purchase act. Eight thou- 
sand graded merino sheep, with the necessary equipment 
of horses, vehicles, and general ranch paraphernalia. 
Ranch-house built of brick, with six rooms comfortably 
furnished according to the requirements of the climate. 
All within a strong barbed-wire fence. 

' " The present ranch manager seems to be competent 
and reliable, and is rapidly placing upon a paying basis 
a business that, in other hands, had been allowed to 
suffer from neglect and misconduct. 

1 " This property was secured by Colonel Beaupree in 
a deal with a Western irrigation syndicate, and the 
title to it seems to be perfect. With careful manage- 
ment and the natural increase of land values, it ought 
to be made the foundation for a comfortable fortune 
for its owner." ' 

When Octavia ceased reading, Aunt Ellen uttered 
something as near a sniff as her breeding permitted. 

' The prospectus,' she said, with uncompromising 
metropolitan suspicion, ' doesn't mention the centi- 
pedes, or the Indians. And you never did like mutton, 
Octavia. I don't see what advantage you can derive 
from this desert.' 

But Octavia was in a trance. Her eyes were steadily 
regarding something quite beyond their focus. Her 
lips were parted, and her face was lighted by the kind- 
ling furor of the explorer, the ardent, stirring disquiet 



434 *0. HENRY* 

of the adventurer. Suddenly she clasped her hands 
together exultantly. 

4 The problem solves itself, auntie,' she cried. ' I'm 
going to that ranch. I'm going to live on it. I'm 
going to learn to like mutton, and even concede the 
good qualities of centipedes at a respectful distance. 
It's just what I need. It's a new life that comes when 
my old one is just ending. It's a release, auntie ; it 
isn't a narrowing. Think of the gallops over those 
leagues of prairies, with the wind tugging at the roots 
of your hair, the coming close to the earth and learning 
over again the stories of the growing grass and the little 
wild flowers without names ! Glorious is what it will 
be. Shall I be a shepherdess with a Watteau hat, and 
a crook to keep the bad wolves from the lambs, or a 
typical Western ranch girl, with short hair, like the 
pictures of her in the Sunday papers ? I think the 
latter. And they'll have my picture, too, with the 
wild-cats I've slain, single-handed, hanging from my 
saddle horn. " From the Four Hundred to the 
Flocks " is the way they'll headline it, and they'll 
print photographs of the old Van Dresser mansion and 
the church where I was married. They won't have 
my picture, but they'll get an artist to draw it. It'll 
be wild and woolly, and I'll grow my own wool.' 

* Octavia ! ' Aunt Ellen condensed into the one 
word all the protests she was unable to utter. 

' Don't say a word, auntie. I'm going. I'll see the 
sky at night fit down on the world like a big butter-dish 
cover, and I'll make friends again with the stars that I 
haven't had a chat with since I was a wee child. I wish 
to go. I'm tired of all this. I'm glad I haven't any 
money. I could bless Colonel Beaupree for that ranch, 
and forgive him for all his bubbles. What if the life 
will be rough and lonely ! I I deserve it. I shut 
my heart to everything except that miserable ambition. 
I oh, I wish to go away, and forget forget ! ' 

Octavia swerved suddenly to her knees, laid hei 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 435 

flushed face in her aunt's lap, and shook with tur- 
bulent sobs. 

Aunt Ellen bent over her, and smoothed the 
coppery-brown hair. 

' I didn't know,' she said, gently ; ' 1 didn't know 
that. Who was it, dear ? ' 

When Mrs. Octavia Beaupree, nee Van Dresser, 
stepped from the train at Nopal, her manner lost, for 
the moment, some of that easy certitude which had 
always marked her movements. The town was of 
recent establishment, and seemed to have been hastily 
constructed of undressed lumber and flapping canvas. 
The element that had congregated about the station, 
though not offensively demonstrative, was clearly 
composed of citizens accustomed to and prepared for 
rude alarms. 

Octavia stood on the platform, against the telegraph 
office, and attempted to choose by intuition, from the 
swaggering, straggling string of loungers, the manager 
of the Rancho de las Sombras, who had been instructed 
by Mr. Bannister to meet her there. That tall, serious- 
looking, elderly man in the blue flannel shirt and white 
tie she thought must be he. But, no ; he passed by, 
removing his gaze from the lady as hers rested on him, 
according to the Southern custom. The manager, 
she thought, with some impatience at being kept wait- 
ing, should have no difficulty in selecting her. Young 
women wearing the most recent thing in ash- coloured 
travelling-suits were not so plentiful in Nopal ! 

Thus keeping a speculative watch on all persons of 
possible managerial aspect, Octavia, with a catching 
breath and a start of surprise, suddenly became aware 
of Teddy Westlake hurrying along the platform in the 
direction of the train of Teddy Westlake or his sun- 
browned ghost in cheviot, boots, and leather-girdled 
hat Theodore Westlake, Jr., amateur polo (almost) 
champion, all-round butterfly and cumberer of the soil ; 



436 C 0. HENRY' 

but a broader, surer, more emphasized and determined 
Teddy than the one she had known a year ago when 
last she saw him. 

He perceived Octavia at almost the same time, 
deflected his course, and steered for her in his old, 
straightforward way. Something like awe came upon 
her as the strangeness of his metamorphosis was 
brought into closer range ; the rich, red-brown of his 
complexion brought out so vividly his straw-coloured 
moustache and steel-grey eyes. He seemed more 
grown-up, and, somehow, farther away. But, when 
he spoke, the old, boyish Teddy came back again. 
They had been friends from childhood. 

4 Why, 'Tave ! ' he exclaimed, unable to reduce his 
perplexity to coherence. ' How what when 
where ? ' 

4 Train,' said Octavia ; ' necessity ; ten minutes ago ; 
home. Your complexion's gone, Teddy. Now, how 
what when -where ? ' 

* I'm working down here,' said Teddy. He cast side 
glances about the station as one does who tries to 
combine politeness with duty. 

* You didn't notice on the train,' he asked, ' an old 
lady with grey curls and a poodle, who occupied two 
seats with her bundles and quarrelled with the con- 
ductor, did you ? ' 

' I think not,' answered Octavia, reflecting. * And 
you haven't, by any chance, noticed a big, grey- 
moustached man in a blue shirt and six-shooters, with 
little flakes of merino wool sticking in his hair, have 
you ? ' 

* Lots of 'em.' said Teddy, with symptoms of mental 
delirium under the strain. ' Do you happen to know 
any such individual ? ' 

4 No ; the description is imaginary. Is your interest 
in the old lady whom you describe a personal one ? ' 

' Never saw her in my life. She's painted entirely 
from fancy. She owns a little piece of property where 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 437 

I earn iny bread and butter the Rancho de las 
Sombras. I drove up to meet her according to arrange- 
ment with her lawyer.' 

Octavia leaned against the wall of the telegraph 
office. Was this possible ? And didn't he know ? 

' Are you the manager of that ranch ? ' she asked 
weakly. 

' I am,' said Teddy, with pride. 

* I am Mrs. Beaupree,' said Octavia faintly ; ' but 
my hair never would curl, and I was polite to the 
conductor.' 

For a moment that strange, grown-up look came 
back and removed Teddy miles away from her. 

' I hope you'll excuse me,' he said, rather awkwardly. 
* You see, I've been down here in the chaparral a year. 
I hadn't heard. Give me your checks, please, and I'll 
have your traps loaded into the wagon. Jose will 
follow with them. We travel ahead in the buckboard.' 

Seated by Teddy in a feather-weight buckboard, 
behind a pair of wild, cream-coloured Spanish ponies, 
Octavia abandoned all thought for the exhilaration of 
the present. They swept out of the little town and 
down the level road toward the south. Soon the road 
dwindled and disappeared, and they struck across a 
world carpeted with an endless reach of curly mesquite 
grass. The wheels made no sound. The tireless 
ponies bounded ahead at an unbroken gallop. The 
temperate wind, made fragrant by thousands of acres 
of blue and yellow wild flowers, roared gloriously in 
their ears. The motion was aerial, ecstatic, with a 
thrilling sense of perpetuity in its effect. Octavia sat 
silent, possessed by a feeling of elemental, sensual bliss. 
Teddy seemed to be wrestling with some internal 
problem. 

' I'm going to call you madama,' he announced as the 
result of his labours. ' That is what the Mexicans will 
call you they're nearly all Mexicans on the ranch, 
you know. That seems to be about the proper thing.' 



438 <0. HENRY' 

' Very well, Mr. Westlake,' said Octavia primly. 

6 Oh, now,' said Teddy, in some consternation, that's 
carrying the thing too far, isn't it ? ' 

4 Don't worry me with your beastly etiquette. I'm 
just beginning to live. Don't remind me of anything 
artificial. If only this air could be bottled ! This 
much alone is worth coming for. Oh, look ! there goes 
a deer ! ' 

4 Jack-rabbit,' said Teddy, without turning his head. 

1 Could I might I drive ? ' suggested Octavia, 
panting, with rose-tinted cheeks and the eye of an 
eager child. 

' On one condition. Could I might I smoke ? ' 

' For ever ! ' cried Octavia, taking the lines with 
solemn joy. ' How shall I know which way to drive ? ' 

i Keep her sou' by sou' east, and all sail set. You see 
that black speck on the horizon under that lowermost 
Gulf cloud ? That's a group of live-oaks and a land- 
mark. Steer half-way between that and the little hill 
to the left. I'll recite you the whole code of driving 
rules for the Texas prairies : keep the reins from under 
the horse's feet, and swear at 'em frequent.' 

' I'm too happy to swear, Ted. Oh, why do people 
buy yachts or travel in palace- cars, when a buckboard 
and a pair of plugs and a spring morning like this can 
satisfy all desire. ? ' 

* Now, I'll ask you,' protested Teddy, who was 
futilely striking match after match on the dashboard, 
' not to call those denizens of the air plugs. They can 
kick out a hundred miles between daylight and dark.' 
At last he succeeded in snatching a light for his cigar 
from the flame held in the hollow of his hands. 

* Room ! ' said Octavia intensely. ' That's what 
produces the effect. I know now what I've wanted 
scope range room ! ' 

' Smoking-room,' said Teddy unsentimentally. k I 
love to smoke in a buckboard. The wind blows the 
smoke into you and out again. It saves exertion.' 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 439 

The two fell so naturally into their old-time good- 
fellowship that it was only by degrees that a sense of 
the strangeness of the new relations between them came 
to be felt. 

' Madama,' said Teddy wonderingly, ' however did 
you get it into your head to cut the crowd and come 
down here ? Is it a fad now among the upper classes 
to trot off to sheep ranches instead of to Newport ? ' 

* I was broke, Teddy,' said Octavia sweetly, with 
her interest centred upon steering safely between a 
Spanish dagger plant and a clump of chaparral ; ' I 
haven't a thing in the world but this ranch not even 
any other home to go to.' 

' Come, now,' said Teddy anxiously but incredu- 
lously, ' you don't mean it ? ' 

' When my husband,' said Octavia, with a shy 
slurring of the word, ' died three months ago I thought 
I had a reasonable amount of the world's goods. His 
lawyer exploded that theory in a sixty-minute fully 
illustrated lecture. I took to the sheep as a last resort. 
Do you happen to know of any fashionable caprice 
among the gilded youth of Manhattan that induces 
them to abandon polo and club windows to become 
managers of sheep ranches ? ' 

8 It's easily explained in my case,' responded Teddy, 
promptly. ' I had to go to work. I couldn't have 
earned my board in New York, so I chummed a while 
with old Sandford, one of the syndicate that owned the 
ranch before Colonel Beaupree bought it, and got a 
place down here. I wasn't manager at first. I jogged 
around on ponies and studied the business in detail, 
until I got all the points in my head. I saw where it 
was losing and what the remedies were, and then 
Sandford put me in charge. I get a hundred dollars 
a month, and I earn it.' 

' Poor Teddy ! ' said Octavia, with a smile. 

' You needn't. I like it. I save half my wages, and 
I'm as hard as a water plug. It beats polo.' 



440 O. HENRY' 

* Will it furnish bread and tea and jam for another 
outcast from civilization ? ' 

' The spring shearing,* said the manager, ' just 
cleaned up a deficit in last year's business. Wasteful- 
ness and inattention have been the rule heretofore. 
The autumn clip will leave a small profit over all 
expenses. Next year there will be jam.' 

When, about four o'clock in the afternoon, the 
ponies rounded a gentle, brush-covered hill, and then 
swooped, like a double cream-coloured cyclone, upon 
the Rancho de las Sombras, Octavia gave a little cry 
of delight. A lordly grove of magnificent live-oaks 
cast an area of grateful, cool shade, whence the ranch 
had drawn its name, * de las Sombras ' of the shadows. 
The house, of red brick, one story, ran low and long 
beneath the trees. Through its middle, dividing its 
six rooms in half, extended a broad, arched passage-way, 
picturesque with flowering cactus and hanging red 
earthern jars. A ' gallery,' low and broad, encircled 
the building. Vines climbed about it, and the adjacent 
ground was, for a space, covered with transplanted 
grass and shrubs. A little lake, long and narrow, 
glimmered in the sun at the rear. Further away stood 
the shacks of the Mexican workers, the corrals, wool 
sheds, and shearing pens. To the right lay the low hills, 
splattered with dark patches of chaparral : to the left 
the unbounded green prairie blending against the blue 
heavens. 

* It's a home, Teddy,' said Octavia breathlessly ; 
* that's what it is it's a home.' 

4 Not so bad for a sheep ranch,' admitted Teddy, 
with excusable pride. ' I've been tinkering on it at 
odd times.' 

A Mexican youth sprang from somewhere in the grass, 
and took charge of the creams. The mistress and the 
manager entered the house. 

' Here's Mrs. Maclntyre,' said Teddy, as a placid, 
neat, elderly lady came out upon the gallery to meet 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 441 

them. ' Mrs. Mac, here's the boss. Very likely she 
will be wanting a hunk of bacon and a dish of beans 
after her drive.' 

Mrs. Maclntyre, the housekeeper, as much a fixture 
on the place as the lake or the live-oaks, received the 
imputation of the ranch's resources of refreshment with 
mild indignation, and was about to give it utterance 
when Octavia spoke. 

. ' Oh, Mrs. Maclntyre, don't apologize for Teddy. 
Yes, I call him Teddy. So does every one whom he 
hasn't duped into taking him seriously. You see, we 
used to cut paper dolls and play jackstraws together 
ages ago. No one minds what he says.' 

' No,' said Teddy, ' no one minds what he says, just 
so he doesn't do it again.' 

Octavia cast one of those subtle, sidelong glances 
toward him from beneath her lowered eyelids a glance 
that Teddy used to describe as an upper-cut. But 
there was nothing in his ingenuous, weather- tanned face 
to warrant a suspicion that he was making an allusion 
nothing. Beyond a doubt, thought Octavia, he had 
forgotten. 

' Mr. Westlake likes his fun,' said Mrs. Maclntyre, as 
she conducted Octavia to her rooms. ' But,' she added 
loyally, ' people around here usually pay attention to 
what he says when he talks in earnest. I don't know 
what would have become of this place without him.' 

Two rooms at the east end of the house had been 
arranged for the occupancy of the ranch's mistress. 
When she entered them a slight dismay seized her at 
their bare appearance and the scantiness of their furni- 
ture ; but she quickly reflected that the climate was a 
semi-tropical one, and was moved to appreciation of 
the well- conceived efforts to conform to it. The sashes 
had already been removed from the big windows, and 
white curtains waved in the Gulf breeze that streamed 
through the wide jalousies. The bare floor was amply 
strewn with cool rugs ; the chairs were inviting, deep, 



442 *0. HENRY' 

dreamy willows ; the walls were papered with a light, 
cheerful olive. One whole side of her sitting-room was 
covered with books on smooth, unpainted pine shelves. 
She flew to these at once. Before her was a well- 
selected library. She caught glimpses of titles of 
volumes of fiction and travel not yet seasoned from the 
dampness of the press. 

Presently, recollecting that she was now in a wilder- 
ness given over to mutton, centipedes, and privations, 
the incongruity of these luxuries struck her, and, with 
intuitive feminine suspicion, she began turning to the 
fly-leaves of volume after volume. Upon each one was 
inscribed in fluent characters the name of Theodore 
Westlake, Jr. 

Octavia, fatigued by her long journey, retired early 
that night. Lying upon her white, cool bed, she rested 
deliciously, but sleep coquetted long with her. She 
listened to faint noises whose strangeness kept her 
faculties on the alert the fractious yelping of the 
coyotes, the ceaseless, low symphony of the wind, the 
distant booming of the frogs about the lake, the lamen- 
tation of a concertina in the Mexicans' quarters. There 
were many conflicting feelings in her heart thankful- 
ness and rebellion, peace and disquietude, loneliness 
and a sense of protecting care, happiness and an old, 
haunting pain. 

She did what any other woman would have done 
sought relief in a wholesome tide of unreasonable tears, 
and her last words, murmured to herself before slumber, 
capitulating, came softly to woo her, were, ' He has 
forgotten.' 

The manager of the Rancho de las Sombras was no 
dilettante. He was a ' hustler.' He was generally 
up. mounted, and away of mornings before the rest 
of the household were 'awake, making the rounds of the 
flocks and camps. This was the duty of the major- 
domo, a stately old Mexican with a princely air and 
manner, but Teddy seemed to have a great deal of con- 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 443 

fidence in his own eyesight. Except in the busy 
seasons, he nearly always returned to the ranch to 
breakfast at eight o'clock, with Octavia and Mrs. 
Maclntyre, at the little table set in the central hallway, 
bringing with him a tonic and breezy cheerfulness full 
of the health and flavour of the prairies. 

A few days after Octavia' s arrival he made her get 
out one of her riding-skirts, and curtail it to a shortness 
demanded by the chaparral brakes. 

With some misgivings she donned this and the pair 
of buckskin leggings he prescribed in addition, and 
mounted upon a dancing pony, rode with him to view 
her possessions. He showed her everything the flocks 
of ewes, muttons and grazing lambs, the dipping vats, 
the shearing pens, the uncouth merino rams in their 
little pasture, the water-tanks prepared against the 
summer drought giving account of his stewardship 
with a boyish enthusiasm that never flagged. 

Where was the old Teddy that she knew so well ? 
This side of him was the same, and it was a side that 
pleased her ; but this was all she ever saw of him now. 
Where was his sentimentality those old, varying 
moods of impetuous love-making, of fanciful, quixotic 
devotion, of heart-breaking gloom, of alternating, 
absurd tenderness and haughty dignity ? His nature 
had been a sensitive one, his temperament bordering 
closely on the artistic. She knew that, besides being a 
follower of fashion and its fads and sports, he had 
cultivated tastes of a finer nature. He had written 
things, he had tampered with colours, he was something 
of a student in certain branches of art, and once she had 
been admitted to all his aspirations and thoughts. 
But now and she could not avoid the conclusion 
Teddy had barricaded against her every side of himself 
except one the side that showed the manager of the 
Raiicho de las Sombras and a jolly chum who had for- 
given and forgotten. Queerly enough the words of Mr. 
Bannister's description of her property came into her 



444 '0. HENRY' 

mind * all inclosed within a strong barbed-wire 
fence.' 

1 Teddy's fenced, too,' said Octavia to herself. 

It was not difficult for her to reason out the cause of 
his fortifications. It had originated one night at the 
Hammersmiths' ball. It occurred at a time soon after 
she had decided to accept Colonel Beaupree and his 
million, which was no more than her looks and the 
entree she held to the inner circles were worth. 
Teddy had proposed with all his impetuosity and fire, 
and she looked him straight in the eyes, and said coldly 
and finally : ' Never let me hear any such silly non- 
sense from you again.' ' You won't,' said Teddy, with 
a new expression around his mouth, and now Teddy 
was inclosed within a strong barbed-wire fence. 

It was on this first ride of inspection that Teddy was 
seized by the inspiration that suggested the name of 
Mother Goose's heroine, and he at once bestowed it 
upon Octavia. The idea, supported both by a simil- 
arity of names and identity d^occupations, seemed to 
strike him as a peculiarly happy one, and he never tired 
of using it. The Mexicans on the r^nch also took up 
the name, adding another syllable to accommodate 
then: lingual incapacity for the final ' p,' gravely 
referring to her as * La Madama Bo-Peepy.' Eventu- 
ally it spread, and ' Madame Bo-Peep's ranch ' was as 
often mentioned as the Ranoho de las Sombras.' 

Came the long, hot season from May to September, 
when work is scarce on the ranches. Octavia passed 
the days in a kind of lotus-eater's dream. Books, 
hammocks, correspondence with a few intimate friends, 
a renewed interest hi her old water-colour box and easel 
these disposed of the sultry hours of daylight. The 
evenings were always sure to bring enjoyment. Best 
of all were the rapturous horseback rides with Teddy, 
when the moon gave light over the wind-swept leagues, 
chaperoned by the wheeling night-hawk and the startled 
owl. Often the Mexicans would come up from their 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 445 

shacks with their guitars and sing the weirdest of heart- 
breaking songs. There were long, cosy chats on the 
breezy gallery, and an interminable warfare of wits 
between Teddy and Mrs. Maclntyre, whose abundant 
Scotch shrewdness often more than overmatched the 
lighter humour in which she was lacking. 

And the nights came, one after another, and were 
filed away by weeks and months nights soft and 
languorous and fragrant, that should have driven 
Strephon to Chloe over wires however barbed, that 
might have drawn Cupid himself to hunt, lasso in hand, 
among those amorous pastures but Teddy kept his 
fences up. 

One July night Madame Bo-Peep and her ranch 
manager were sitting on the east gallery. Teddy had 
been exhausting the science of prognostication as to the 
probabilities of a price of twenty-four cents for the 
autumn clip, and had then subsided into an anaesthetic 
cloud of Havana smoke. Only as incompetent a judge 
as a woman would have failed to note long ago that at 
least a third of his salary must have gone up in the 
fumes of those imported Regalias. 

' Teddy,' said Octavia suddenly and rather sharply, 
' what are you working down here on a ranch for ? ' 

' One hundred per,' said Teddy glibly, * and found.' 

* I've a good mind to discharge you.' 

* Can't do it,' said Teddy, with a grin. 

' Why not ? ' demanded Octavia, with argumentative 
heat. 

* Under contract. Terms of sale respect all unex- 
pired contracts. Mine runs until 12 p.m., December 
thirty-first. You might get up at midnight on that 
date and fire me. If you try it sooner I'll be in a 
position to bring legal proceedings.' 

Octavia seemed to be considering the prospects of 
litigation. 

' But,' continued Teddy cheerfully, t I've been 
thinking of resigning anyway.' 



446 *O. HENRY' 

Octavia's rocking-chair ceased its motion. There 
were centipedes in this country, she felt sure ; and 
Indians ; and vast, lonely, desolate, empty wastes ; 
all within strong barbed- wire fence. There was a Van 
Dresser pride, but there was also a Van Dresser heart. 
She must know for certain whether or not he had 
forgotten. 

' Ah, well, Teddy,' she said, with a fine assumption 
of polite interest, ' it's lonely down here ; you're 
longing to get back to the old life to polo and lo*bsters 
and theatres and balls.' 

' Never cared much for balls,' said Teddy virtuously. 

* You're getting old, Teddy. Your memory is 
failing. Nobody ever knew you to miss a dance, unless 
it occurred on the same night with another one which 
you attended. And you showed such shocking bad 
taste, too, in dancing too often with the same partner. 
Let me see, what was that Forbes girl's name the one 
with wall eyes Mabel, wasn't it ? ' 

4 No ; Adele. Mabel was the one with the bony 
elbows. That wasn't wall in Adele's eyes. It was 
soul. We used to talk sonnets together, and Verlaine. 
Just then I was trying to run a pipe from the Pierian 
spring.' 

' You were on the floor with her,' said Octavia, 
undeflected, ' five times at the Hammersmiths'.' 

4 Hammersmiths' what ? ' questioned Teddy vacu- 
ously. 

' Ball ball,' said Octavia viciously. ' What were 
we talking of ? ' 

' Eyes, I thought,' said Teddy, after some reflection ; 
' and elbows.' 

' Those Hammersmiths,' went on Octavia, in her 
sweetest society prattle, after subduing an intense 
desire to yank a handful of sunburnt, sandy hair from 
the head lying back contentedly against the canvas of 
the steamer chair, * had too much money. Mines, 
wasn't it ? It was something that paid something to 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 447 

the ton. You couldn't get a glass of plain water in 
their house. Everything at that ball was dreadfully 
overdone.' 

4 It was/ said Teddy. 

4 Such a crowd there was ! ' Octavia continued, 
conscious that she was talking the rapid drivel of a 
school-girl describing her first dance. 4 The balconies 
were as warm as the rooms. I lost something at 
that ball.' The last sentence was uttered in a tone 
calculated to remove the barbs from miles of wire. 

* So did I,' confessed Teddy, in a lower voice. 

* A glove/ said Octavia, falling back as the enemy 
approached her ditches. 

4 Caste/ said Teddy, halting his firing line without 
loss. 4 1 hobnobbed half the evening with one of 
Hammersmith's miners, a fellow who kept his hands 
in his pockets, and talked like an archangel about 
reduction plants and drifts and levels and sluice-boxes.' 

4 A pearl-grey glove, nearly new/ sighed Octavia 
mournfully. 

4 A bang-up chap, that McArdle/ maintained Teddy 
approvingly. * A man who hated olives and elevators ; 
a man who handled mountains as croquettes, and built 
tunnels in the air ; a man who never uttered a word 
of silly nonsense in his life. Did you sign those lease- 
renewal applications yet, madama ? They've got to 
be on file in the land office by the thirty-first.' 

Teddy turned his head lazily. Octavia' s chair was 
vacant. 

A certain centipede, crawling along the lines marked 
out by fate, expounded the situation. It was early 
one morning while Octavia and Mrs. Maclntyre were 
trimming the honeysuckle on the west gallery. Teddy 
had risen and departed hastily before daylight in 
response to word that a flock of ewes had been scattered 
from their bedding ground during the night by a 
thunder-storm. 



448 <0. HENRY' 

The centipede, driven by destiny, showed himself on 
the floor of the gallery, and then, the screeches of the 
two women giving him his cue, he scuttled with all his 
yellow legs through the open door into the furthermost 
west room, which was Teddy's. Arming themselves 
with domestic utensils selected with regard to their 
length, Octavia and Mrs. Maclntyre, with much clutch- 
ing of skirts and skirmishing for the position of rear- 
guard in the attacking force, followed. 

Once outside, the centipede seemed to have disap- 
peared, and his prospective murderers began a thorough 
but cautious search for their victim. 

Even in the midst of such a dangerous and absorbing 
adventure Octavia was conscious of an awed curiosity 
on finding herself in Teddy's sanctum. In that room 
he sat alone, silently communing with those secret 
thoughts that he now shared with no one, dreamed 
there whatever dreams he now called on no one to 
interpret. 

It was the room of a Spartan or a soldier. In one 
corner stood a wide, canvas-covered cot ; in another, a 
small bookcase ; in another, a grim stand of Winches- 
ters and shotguns. An immense table, strewn with 
letters, papers, and documents and surmounted by a 
set of pigeon-holes, occupied one side. 

The centipede showed genius in concealing himself 
in such bare quarters. Mrs. Maclntyre was poking a 
broom-handle behind the bookcase. Octavia ap- 
proached Teddy's cot. The room was just as the 
manager had left it in his hurry. The Mexican maid 
had not yet given it her attention. There was his big 
pillow with the imprint of his head still in the centre. 
She thought the horrid beast might have climbed the 
cot and hidden itself to bite Teddy. Centipedes were 
thus cruel and vindictive toward managers. 

She cautiously overturned the pillow, and then 
parted her lips to give the signal for reinforcements at 
sight of a long, slender, dark object lying there. But, 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 449 

repressing it in time, she caught up a glove, a pearl- 
grey glove, flattened it might be conceived by many, 
many months of nightly pressure beneath the pillow 
of the man who had forgotten the Hammersmiths' ball. 
Teddy must have left so hurriedly that morning that 
he had, for once, forgotten to transfer it to its resting- 
place by day. Even managers, who are notoriously 
wily and cunning, are sometimes caught up with. 

Octavia slid the grey glove into the bosom of her 
summery morning gown. It was hers. Men who put 
themselves within a strong barbed-wire fence, and 
remember Hammersmith balls only by the talk of 
miners about sluice-boxes, should not be allowed to 
possess such articles. 

After all, what a paradise this prairie country was ! 
How it blossomed like the rose when you found things 
that were thought to be lost ! How delicious was that 
morning breeze coming in the windows, fresh and sweet 
with the breath of the yellow ratama blooms ! Might 
one not stand, for a minute, with shining, far-gazing 
eyes, and dream that mistakes might be corrected ? 

Why was Mrs. Maclntyre poking about so absurdly 
with a broom ? 

4 I've found it,' said Mrs. Maclntyre, banging the 
door. ' Here it is.' 

6 Did you lose something ? ' asked Octavia, with 
sweetly polite non-interest. 

' The little devil ! ' said Mrs. Maclntyre, driven to 
violence. ' Ye've no forgotten him alretty ? ' 

Between them they slew the centipede. Thus was 
he rewarded for his agency toward the recovery of 
things lost at the Hammersmiths' ball. 

It seems that Teddy, in due course, remembered the 
glove, and when he returned to the house at sunset 
made a secret but exhaustive search for it. Not until 
evening, upon the moonlit eastern gallery, did he find 
it. It was upon the hand that he had thought lost to 
him for ever, and so he was moved to repeat certain 

228 n 



450 '0, HENRY' 

nonsense that he had been commanded never, never to 
utter again. Teddy's fences were down. 

This time there was no ambition to stand in the way, 
and the wooing was as natural and successful as should 
be between ardent shepherd and gentle shepherdess. 

The prairies changed to a garden. The Rancho de 
las Sombras became the Ranch of Light. 

A few days later Octavia received a letter from Mr. 
Bannister, in reply to one she had written to him asking 
some questions about her business. A portion of the 
letter ran as follows : 

' I am at a loss to account for your references to the 
sheep ranch. Two months after your departure to 
take up your residence upon it, it was discovered that 
Colonel Beaupree's title was worthless. A deed came 
to light showing that he disposed of the property before 
his death. The matter was 'reported to your manager, 
Mr. Westlake, who at once repurchased the property. 
It is entirely beyond my powers of conjecture to imagine 
how you have remained in ignorance of this fact. I 
beg that you will at once confer with that gentleman, 
who will, at least, corroborate my statement.' 

Octavia sought Teddy, with battle in her eye. 

4 What are you working on this ranch for ? ' she 
asked once more. 

' One hundred ' he began to repeat, but saw in 

her face that she knew. She held Mr. Bannister's 
letter in her hand. He knew that the game was up. 

' It's my ranch,' said Teddy, like a schoolboy detected 
in evil. ' It's a mighty poor manager that isn't able 
to absorb the boss's business if you give him time.' 

4 Why were you working down here ? ' pursued 
Octavia, still struggling after the key to the riddle of 
Teddy. 

' To tell the truth, 'Tave,' said Teddy, with quiet 
candour, ' it wasn't for the salary. That about kept 
me in cigars and sunburn lotions, I was sent south by 



MADAME BO-PEEP, OF THE RANCHES 451 

my doctor. 'Twas that right lung that was going to 
the bad on account of over-exercise and strain at polo 
and gymnastics. I needed climate and ozone and rest 
and things of that sort.' 

In an instant Octavia was close against the vicinity 
of the affected organ. Mr. Bannister's letter fluttered 
to the floor. 

' It's it's well now, isn't it, Teddy ? ' 

' Sound as a mesquite chunk. I deceived you in one 
thing. I paid fifty thousand for your ranch as soon as 
I found you had no title. I had just about that much 
income accumulated at my banker's while I've been 
herding sheep down here, so it was almost like picking 
the thing up on a bar gain- counter for a penny. There's 
another little surplus of unearned increment piling up 
there, 'Tave. I've been thinking of a wedding trip in 
a yacht with white ribbons tied to the mast, through the 
Mediterranean, and then up among the Hebrides and 
down Norway to the Zuyder Zee.' 

' And I was thinking,' said Octavia softly, ' of a 
wedding gallop with my manager among the flocks of 
sheep and back to a wedding breakfast with Mrs. Mac- 
Intyre on the gallery, with, maybe, a sprig of orange 
blossom fastened to the red jar above the table.' 

Teddy laughed, and began to chant : 

' Little Bo -Peep has lost her sheep, 
And doesn't know where to find 'em. 
Let 'em alone, and they'll come home, 
And ' 

Octavia drew his head down and whispered in his 
ear. 

But that is one of the tales they brought behind 
them. 



R. MUERAY GILCHRIST 

1867-1917 
THE GAP IN THE WALL 

IT was a hot May forenoon and the sloping meadows 
were pied with anemones. Four cuckoos were crying 
against each other at the end of the hazy valley ; a 
building magpie castanetted incessantly from the elm 
planting. 

Keziah Unwin was going down to Hatherton Flat 
with a present of Rouen ducks' eggs for old Mrs. 
Pursglove. The produce of the poultry on her father's 
farm was Keziah' s s perquisite, and she was so accom- 
plished in the art of rearing that her advice was sought 
by all the countryside. There was no need for her to 
save the money she earned, for she was the only child 
of a well-to-do man ; so she spent it in the purchase of 
good and pretty clothes, such as raised the standard 
of the village taste. 

She had donned a dainty gown of pale blue linen 
that clung without wrinkles to her slender figure. A 
little tippet of white lace covered her shoulders. Cousin 
Sarah, who had opened a milliner's shop in the country 
town, had sent her that Parisian hat which seemed like 
nothing but a tangle of apple-blossom that had broken 
off the parent tree and fallen prone on a cushion of 
emerald moss. 

It was only natural that such a beautiful girl should 
be troubled with many suitors. Swain after swain 
strolled into the house-place at night, ostensibly for the 
sake of listening to her father's old tales, but really to 
give themselves the wild delight of making sheep's eyes 

452 



THE GAP IN THE WALL 453 

at the young mistress. She had listened to numerous 
offers of marriage and had declined all, and now experi- 
ence had taught her how to slay a would-be lover's 
courage with well-planted barbs of good-natured ridi- 
cule. Local history enshrines the story of young John 
Hancock's proposal. Keziah revealed it to none, but 
the discouraged youth wailed it out at the Bold Rodney 
whilst in his cups. By unlucky stratagem having been 
left alone with her for a while, he began to stammer his 
feeble declaration. She affected great terror, but still 
retained enough presence of mind to enable her to pour 
a bucket of cold water over his head. When he became 
normal again she prevented a repetition of his mis- 
demeanour with the cruel words, ' Eh dear, I am glad ! 
I thowt yo' were i' a fit ! ' 

Once only had her heart been touched, and that was 
when Rafe Paramour of Rocky Edge had put the 
question. They had been school-mates together, and 
in later years had romped like hoyden and hobble-de- 
hoy seeking birds' nests in Milton Dale. She had 
begun to care for him without knowing it, but when 
he spoke she flouted him so mercilessly that he had 
withdrawn at once. The lad had attributed her refusal 
to the narrowness of his circumstances, and although 
since then his love had increased, he had never noticed 
her save in the coldest fashion. 

At the curve of the highway where the hawthorns 
grow thickest, she paused to reflect. If she continued 
walking along the white, dusty road she would have 
two miles farther to go ; but if she took a short cut, 
which necessitated slipping through hedgerows and 
climbing rough, loosely-built limestone walls, she could 
reach Hatherton Flat in less than a quarter of an hour. 

4 I'll risk et,' she said. ' They're Rafe Paramour's 
fields, but he wunna be abaat to-day. I'm welly 
sweltered wi' th' heat.' 

So she laid the basket on the bank, and crept between 
the gnarled trunks. In another minute she was 



454 R. MURRAY GILCHRIST 

walking leisurely on the bank of a brook, where May- 
blobs and ladies' -smocks luxuriated. At the well-head, 
where the water leaped from under a block of sandstone, 
she turned and made for a gateway that opened to a 
field of green wheat, and skirting this she reached the 
first high wall. 

It was a difficult place to climb, for the ground on 
the farther side was on a higher level and the loose 
coping overtopped the tallest flower in her hat. But 
she was young and agile, and she did not flinch. She 
placed the egg-basket on a safe stone and began to 
ascend. It was more dangerous than she imagined, 
and the scaly limestone crumbled beneat-h her feet. 

She had almost reached the top when her heart gave 
a great leap, for the wall had begun to rock with her 
weight. She had only just time to fling herself on the 
soft turf of the higher field when more than three yards 
of masonry fell down into the green wheat. 

She rose leisurely. Despite her alarm, her flushed 
face bore a pleasant look of malice. 

' Et'll be a nice job for Rafe to build et up again,' 
she said. * Ef et'd bin onybody else's I'ld hev towd 
as I'd done et, an' paid for et too, but sin et's his, et'll 
part work out my spite.' 

Suddenly she gave a little scream of fear, for almost 
within touching distance was Rafe Paramour himself, 
seated beneath a full-bloomed crab and busily whittling 
thatch pegs. He was smiling wryly ; there was some- 
thing ogre-like in his aspect. 

She caught up the basket, which had escaped any 
harm, and ran, but he sprang to his feet and followed 
with great strides. 

* I heerd what yo' said, Keziah,' he remarked firmly, 
* an' I dunna think et were i' a kindly spirit. Haaso- 
ever, et's th' custom here for him as pulls daan a wall 
to build et up again. An' yo've got to do et.' 

She turned and faced him defiantly. 

' I wunna ! ' 



THE GAP IN THE WALL 455 

4 But yo' will, for I'll mek yoV 

Her colour deepened. ' Yo'll be th' first man as hes 
e'er med me do owt I hedna a mind to,' she said. 
* Stan' aside an' let me go.' 

1 That I shanna. Yo're trespassin' ; dunna yo' see 
yon board wi' " Trespassers will be prosecuted " en ? 
Well, I'll prosecute yo' by mekin' yo' build the wall up.' 

' I'll call aat, an' someone '11 come,' she said, half 
tearfully. 

4 Call till yo're tired, nob'dy '11 hear. Yo' mun just 
buckle to ! ' 

' Yo're a brute, Rafe Paramour, to tek advantage o' 
me i' this way ! I werena browt up to build walls.' 

He gazed at her with whimsical tenderness. ' Et'll 
be a lesson for yo', Keziah : yo' humbled my pride, 
and I'll humble yo'rn. Them big stones go first ; set 
to as quick as yo' like.' 

For the first time since her refusal of his suit she 
looked full into his face. He instantly assumed an 
air of great firmness. It had never struck her before 
that he was very handsome, but as he stood there with- 
out jacket or waistcoat, and with snowy shirt all damp 
with perspiration, she became convinced that there was 
none in the neighbourhood half so worthy of the name 
of man. 

She drew off her yellow cotton gloves. There was a 
suspicious quivering about her lips ; she did not know 
which was nearer laughing or crying and her eyes 
were sparkling brightly. 

' I hate yo',' she murmured. ' Ef I mun do et, I 
mun. I doubt et'll murder me ! ' 

He laughed outright. ' I dunna want that sin on my 
conscience,' he said. ' I reckon 111 hev to let yo' off 
th' hardest part o' the job. Yo' may pick up th' least 
stones, an I'll pick up th' biggest.' 

So they began to work in silence. He noticed, with 
delight, that the stones she brought were no larger 
than apples, and that it took her five minutes to bring 



456 R. MURRAY GILCHRTST 

each. Neither spoke until the first two rows were 
laid. 

' Et'll tek us a day at this rate,' Rafe said at last, 
c an' et's dinner time now. I've gotten bread, and 
cheese an' beer under th' trees. We'll share et.' 

4 What 'Id fowk say ef they knew ? ' she whispered. 
' I wouldna do et for th' world.' 

' Yo' will do et,' he replied, resuming his sternness. 
' None'll know fro' me.' 

So she was forced to obey. The bread and cheese 
stuck in her throat, and she scarcely drank from the 
horn. She was soon ready to return to her work, but 
he made her remain at his side. 

* I always hev a pipe o' bacca after meals,' he said. 
' Let's chat abaat owd times. D' yo' reflect me killin' 
a hern to get his beard for yo' ? I climbed up th' 
biggest tree i' Hassop Park to pick him off th' branch 
wheer he'd dropped.' 

Keziah sullenly refused to notice his ingratiations. 
Soon she rose perforce, and began to collect the stones 
again ; this time working more diligently than before. 
But somehow, the more she hurried, the more he 
lagged, and it was four o'clock before the gap was half* 
filled. 

She fell a-weeping in earnest. He heard the sound, 
and his breath came quickly. 

' Keziah, wench,' he said, in a soft voice, ' I think 
I've tried yo' enow. Yo' can go, an I'll finish et mysen.' 

She took no heed ; but, hastily drying her tears, 
brought the stones faster than ever. Seeing that she 
was in such deadly earnest, he put on a spurt, and in 
two more hours the wall was finished. 

Then Keziah took up the basket and began to walk 
in the direction of home. She was quite speechless, 
and her head hung forward almost limply. He felt 
afraid that he had been too hard, and overwhelming 
pity swayed into his heart. 



THE GAP IN THE WALT. 457 

He hurried after her, reaching her side before she 

passed through the gateway. 

' Keziah,' he cried, ' I ask your pardon.' 

She set down the basket and showed him her hands. 

The skin was roughened, the finger-tips were bleeding. 

The sight made his eyes swim. 

* My poor Keziah, wunna yo' forgie me ? ' 
All the shadow left her face. 

* Yo've been a wretch, but I will,' she faltered, s I 
wunna pull yo'r walls daan again.' 

He came nearer and caught her in his arms, 
' I wouldna hev done et ef I hedna looved yo.' 
' Et's all reet, Rafe. Yo'll be master, I reckon.' 
And she kissed him, and he led her to the road. 



A WITCH IN THE PEAK 

IT was the evening after old Johnny White's funeral, 
and Elizabeth sat by the low fire in the house-place, 
wondering how she could manage to exist for the 
remainder of her days without him who had never spent 
a whole day apart from her since their wedding, fifty 
years ago. The bitterness of her spirit was increased 
by the knowledge that at the end of the week the little 
farm must be sold to pay the money which the dead 
man had owed for standing surety for a dishonest 
cousin. The original sum had been thirty-five pounds ; 
but the lender, Luke Flint, a shoemaker, who was 
known as ' the Milton Spider,' from his knack of wrap- 
ping a web about such unwary folk as craved aid from 
him, had stipulated on an interest of fifty per cent, 
until all was repaid. This interest had eaten up all the 
profits of the stony acres, and Johnny had died heart- 
broken because one year's payment was in arrears. 

Elizabeth had dismissed all her neighbours. She 
desired to be left in solitude for such short time as she 
remained in the house, so that she might recall scenes 

Q* 



458 R. MURRAY GILCHRIST 

of bygone happiness. She was quite alone in the world, 
so that there was none save herself to suffer ; but still 
the outlook was so depressing that the source of her 
tears was dried. 

' I can see yo' again, Johnny lad,' she murmured, 
1 walkin' wi' me fro' church on aar weddin' morn, as 
coomly a man as were i' th' whoal Peak. . . . But yo' 
looked just as coomly i' yo'r shroud, wi' all ets pratty 
gimpings, tho' yo'r cheeks hed lost theer red, and yo'r 
gowd hair were gone as white as snow. Ay lad, ay lad, 
I do wish I might hev gone wi' yo' ! When I think o' 
all our good life together ; how yo' thowt nowt were 
too han'some for me, an' as whate'er I did were th' 
reet thing, I'm like to go mad. An' now I'm to be 
turned aat o' th' place wheer aar wedlock's bin spent ! 
Et's hard, et's very hard ! ' 

As she lamented, the latch of the door was lifted and 
the creditor entered. He was a dark, squat man of 
middle-age, with a bullet-shaped head and blue, close- 
shaven jowls. His arms and legs were unnaturally 
long, and his broad shoulders were so much bent as to 
suggest deformity. He strode forward to the hearth, 
and without invitation plumped down in the arm-chair 
which Johnny had always used. 

Elizabeth rose in excessive anger. Her thin face 
flushed crimson, her toothless lower jaw moved oddly 
from side to side. 

4 I'll thank yo' to get aat o' that ! ' she cried. * Et's 
always bin set in by a honest fellow, an' I canna see 
ony other sort use et ! Ef yo' mun sit, sit on th' 
sattle.' 

He assumed an air of bravado ; but her aspect was 
so threatening that he rose sullenly and took the corner 
to which she pointed. 

' Yo' needna be so haughty, 'Lizbeth White,' he said, 
with an unpleasant sneer. ' This spot' 11 be mine soon, 
for I'm a-going to buy et, an' happen yo'll coom a-beggin ' 
to th' door.' 



A WITCH IN THE PEAK 459 

' I'ld liefer starve nor beg o' yo'. What d'yo' want, 
a-coomin' rattin' ? ' 

' I on'y want to mind yo' as yo' mun tek none o' th' 
things aat o' th' place. My papers 'low me to sell all, 
an' if yo' touch owt off yo' go to Derby. ' 

She cracked her fingers in his face. * I'll be more nor 
thankful to get aat o' yo'r debt,' she said. * Et's yo'r 
cheatin' simple lads like my John as keeps yo' alive. 
Yo're none fit to be 'mongst decent livers. I do b'lieve 
as th' law wouldna favour yo'.' 

His sallow skin grew white and then purple. 

1 Yo' try th' law, 'Lizbeth White, an' yo'll find as et 
canna touch me. Yo'r man signed th' agreement to 
pay me my money, an' ef he couldna pay et, I were to 
be at lib'ty to sell th' lond. Th' lond, say I ? et esna 
lond nowt but three akkers o' stone an' moss, wi'aat 
a real blade o' grass ! Et wunna fetch thretty pun', 
an' I'm certain sure as th' furniture esna worth ten. 
Yo'll still be soom pun's i' my debt. I reckon yo'll 
hev to go to th' Bastille, an' I may mek' up my mind 
to losin' some of the good money ! ' 

' I'd go to th' Bastille forty times ower, sooner nor 
be behowden to yo' for owt. But as long as I'm 
stopping i' th' haase, I wunna stond yo'r jaw ! Aat 
yo' go, yo' brute yo' ! ' 

She unfastened the door, and held it wide open. It 
was a dark night, and the air was heavy with the scent 
of withered leaves. The prattle of the spring as it 
leaped from the moor-edge to the trough in the paddock 
was distinctly audible. 

' Yo' owd wretch ! ' he muttered. ' I'll see as yo' 
suffer for yo'r brazzenness. Yo' beggar ! When yo'r 
a-hoein' taturs i' th' Bastille garden, I'll set th' others 
laughin' at yo'.' 

He moved leisurely across the floor ; she sharpened 
his gait by picking up a besom-stale. 

* Whiles I'm mistress here, I'll hev none o' yo'. 
John's paid yo' time an' time again. Be off, yo' skin-a- 



460 R. MURRAY GILCHRIST 

louse ! I beg an' pray God to punish yo' this very 
neet. Ef et hadna bin fo yo' theer'ld hev been no 
buryin' here for mony a year. I'm none one as es 
gi'en to cursin', but yo' deserve whatten yo'll get.' 

He slunk out into the darkness. She closed the door 
and bolted it carefully, and when the clatter of his 
footsteps had died away, she returned to the chair by 
the hearth, where a choir of crickets was now singing 
cheerfully, and delivered herself to the melancholy satis- 
faction of meditating on past joy and present sorrow. 

Meanwhile the Spider walked down the lane in some 
trepidation, for her violence had unnerved him 
strangely. 

' I do b'lieve hoo's really a witch,' he said. * Her eyes 
brenned that red ! Ef hoo'd lived i' my greet-gran'- 
feyther's days hoo'ld hev bin faggotted, sure enow ! ' 

His mumbling was suddenly cut short by some 
terrible thing catching the hinder-part of his waistband 
and plucking him up from the ground. When he 
recovered his senses in some measure he was on a level 
with the tree-tops. His voice rose in a harsh shriek. 

1 Help ! All o' yo' help ! Jack-wi'-th' -Iron-Teeth's 
gotten howd o' me an's draggin' me to Hell ! ' 

But as it was late, and the M$ton folk were abed, 
none heard. He flew swiftly through the air, his long 
arms and legs sprawling frog-like. Once he caught 
hold of the thatch of a barn and clung for a moment, 
but the rotten wisps came away in his hands. He gave 
himself up for lost. The demon was dragging him over 
the moor in the direction of the river. 

'.0 Lord, forgi'e me, forgi'e me, an' I'll tek' advantage 
o' innocent fowk no more. I'll do my best to set things 
reet as I've set wrong, ef only Thou' It let me off this 
time ! ' 

He fell with a heavy splash into the marsh of the 
Wet Withins. For a long time he lay, half-swooning, 
on a tussock of bent-grass. Then, when his strength 
returned, he crawled blindly over the heath to the road. 



A WITCH IN THE PEAK 461 

Instead of making for home, he went straight to 
Crosslow Farm and knocked feebly at the door. Eliza- 
beth was sleeping in her chair. She had been dreaming 
blithely of years of good crops. She rose, drowsily, 
and drew back the bolts. In the dim firelight she 
looked more like a witch than ever. 

' Yo've coom back again ! ' she said sharply. * Be 
off ! I wunna hev et said as I let yo' in at this time o' 
neet ! ' 

He was trembling like a paralytic. 

' Gi'e me a bit o' paper, 'Lizbeth White,' he stam- 
mered, ' an' I'll write a quittance. Yo're a wicked 
woman, an' I'll hev nowt more to do wi' yo'. Yo're 
on'y fit to bren ! ' 

* I reckon et's conscience,' she said, as she took 
paper and pen and ink from the corner cupboard. 
' Write whatever yo' like an 5 go to ' 

' Dunna say thatten, for Lord's sake ! ' he yelled. 

He took the paper and wrote : ' /, Luke Flint, do 
hereby forgive Elizabeth White her husband's debt as she 
owed me, and I trust as she will bear no further malice.' 

Then he hastened from the place, as though it held a 
creature accursed. 

Two days afterwards he returned to Crosslow, in a 
cajoling, lachrymose humour. 

' Gi'e me that quittance back again,' he said, with a 
painful giggle. ' Yo're an honest woman, I reckon. I 
thowt yo' were a witch, but et were a b'loon hook as 
picked me up an' carried me to th' wayter-holes. 
Soom chaps droppin' advertysements for gin an' 
whisky 'Id gone astray an' were try in' to fix on a spot. 
Summat hed gone wrong wi' th' machine. Gi'e me et 
back, wench ; yo're a reet-dealin' woman, an' I'm sure 
yo' wunna do but whatten's just.' 

She laid hold of the besom-stale again. 

' I'll breek yo'r back ef yo' dunna go,' she cried. 
4 Yo' thowt I were a witch, but yo' munna think I'm 
a fool ! ' 



GEEALD WAREE COENISH 

1875-1916 
THE STOWAWAY 

A BOAT was rowing quietly along the shore of the 
Sogne Fjord, near its mouth and looking toward the 
sea. In its stern sat the owner, holding the tiller, 
whilst a boy and a girl, his son and daughter, pulled 
at the oars. It was evening, and the mountains on 
either side of the Fjord were reflected for miles into 
the distance. Far away could be seen the edge of the 
open sea, with its strips of low-lying land and islands. 
Over these hung a golden haze, the day's last gift. 
The man in the stern was a robust and happy-looking 
bearded man. His daughter was a typical Norwegian 
girl, strong, broad-chested and broad- waisted, with a 
healthy, beautiful complexion. His son looked like 
an English boy. On the stern of the boat, just behind 
where the owner sat, were painted the words * J. 
Holloway Sandener.' The boat quitted the shore, 
and made across for the other side, where Sandener 
could be seen. It was a little wooden village, close 
beside a rushing river ; it possessed a wooden hotel, 
and a wooden church and tower. Above it rose the 
mountains, with waterfalls streaming down their 
shadowy sides. J. Holloway was an important man 
in his town, and had a flagstaff in his garden. He 
could see his little house and flagstaff, somewhat 
separate from the rest, beyond the church tower. His 
eye wandered from this to the open sea and the golden 
light beyond. In that direction lay England and Hull. 
He became meditative. The still waters, the moun- 
tains, the sound of the oars, the evening light, and the 
occasional talk of the rowers these things faded from 
462 



THE STOWAWAY 463 

his mind, and he journeyed back into the past, across 
the sea to Hull. This was what he remembered. 

James Holloway had been out of work for ten weeks. 
During this period he had ' eaten nothing,' as we say 
of invalids or persons of abstemious- temperament. 
He had not drunk as much as usual either ; but he 
had drunk more than he had eaten. He had a theory 
that beer was as nourishing as bread to a man of his 
constitution. It was all a matter of constitution. 
Some men grew fat on the drink, others grew thin ; 
this was proved in every walk of life. He was one of 
those whom it nourished ; and he was grateful to 
Nature for this mark of her favour. As he stood this 
morning in the road outside the docks at Hull, in the 
company of several hundred others of his kind, this 
peculiar constitution of his did not mark him out as 
being above the general average. The average was 
not a high one. The men were waiting to be hired, 
standing together in groups. It was six o'clock in the 
morning, and drizzling. The circumstances were 
depressing, yet there was an air of composure about 
the crowd. They sucked their pipes of foul tobacco, 
with an early-morning relish ; most of them had had 
some breakfast. They spat on the ground with de- 
cision, and when they did speak for the most part 
they were silent they spoke out loud and bold, or 
short and sharp, with a jest and an oath. The chins 
were bristly throughout. They all shaved once a week. 
There was not a collar amongst them, but a great 
variety of knotted neckcloths ; and there were great- 
coats of some kind or another, procured somehow or 
other, on the backs of all. There had been a long period 
of slackness in the Docks, and a slump in trade all 
through the town. The greater part of the men had 
earned next to nothing for two or three months past. 
Most of them had wives and families at home. A 
specialist in sociology could have passed an interesting 



464 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

morning, inquiring how these men and their families 
had lived during this period. But the results would 
not have worked out on paper. For none of these 
men knew how he had lived ; and even their wives 
could not have explained the secret. According to all 
reasonable statistics, they ought not to have lived at 
all. It was a most peculiar state of affairs. 

James Holloway was a bachelor ; but he did not 
thank his stars for it. He was not* of a grateful mind, 
and he was too full of theories. If he had had a wife, 
he theorized, she might have picked up a sixpence or 
two, now and then, and the children might have got 
something out of the church, and after school hours ; 
together, he thought, they might have got along better 
than he was doing singly. There were men who had 
found it so. He had a theory, too, that money was 
always money, however many there were to spend it, 
and that one and sixpence was always better than a 
shilling, whatever the company. This had been proved 
again and again to his satisfaction when clubbing 
together with his pals. 

He waited and waited, with his hands in his great- 
coat pockets, now and then jogging his elbows against 
his sides. He had lived all his life, twenty-five years, 
in Hull, alternately working and loafing, either by 
inclination or compulsion. But he had a theory that 
his life had not yet really begun. Some day he was 
going to do better than he had done so far. That was 
quite certain. He never allowed himself for an instant 
to believe that the distressed and irregular condition 
was a permanent thing. It was merely temporary, 
and therefore supportable. He talked and laughed 
with two or three others, as. they waited for work. 
There was a faint blueness and bitterness, a touch of 
solemnity, lingering round the corners of his mouth 
and eyes, but scarcely noticeable, owing to the strong 
look, of life and sense which animated his countenance, 
and those of his friends, as they talked and laughed in 



THE STOWAWAY 465 

their abrupt, rapid, jerky manner. Discontent ap- 
peared chiefly in the filthy adjectives with which every 
substantive was heralded. 

After several hours of the morning had thus passed, 
it became apparent that no more work was to be had 
that day. He went off into the town, walking up the 
street courageously as if he were in regular employment 
and going home to dinner. He spent the middle of the 
day as usual ; that is to say, he did not know how he 
spent it ; it spent itself. As usual, he was busy with 
his thoughts and theories, thinking over his prospects. 
He must do something that was certain. It would 
not do to go on living in this way any longer. This 
sort of thing must come to an end. It was time he 
made a new start, struck out a new life. He had said 
the same for years past ; he had said it oftener and 
oftener, and now he said it once every ten minutes. 
When he was not talking to himself in this way, he was 
talking to his pals. They talked of every imaginable 
subject under the sun, but they arrived at no fixed 
opinions on any. At least the opinions were all fixed, 
but they were all conflicting. For instance, all were 
agreed that the life they were leading was a dog's life, 
not fit for a Christian man, and that something must be 
done to better themselves. This was one fixed con- 
viction, and its friend and companion was that a man 
could not better himself, that there was nothing to do, 
and nowhere else to go. Both these opinions were 
clear and certain. Again, when politics came up for 
discussion, Jim Holloway was convinced that the 
Government were not doing their duty to such as him- 
self ; that they were allowing the blood and muscle 
of the country to be drained away ; that they only 
talked, never did anything, and had got their posts 
through the influence of society women, and that the 
condition of the people in his town was a scandal to 
the country. Simultaneously, if properly aroused, 
he was always ready to swear by the good old. British 



466 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

Constitution, the Flag, the Throne, the Army, Navy, 
and the sporting Aristocracy. So, too, with religion, 
which was frequently discussed in the lodging-houses 
of an evening. He was perfectly convinced that it was 
all a humbug, a got- up affair Noah's Ark and the 
Flood and all. The clergy and the bishops did it all 
for money. ' Religion was civilization.' This was 
the idea of one of the talkers in the lodging-house ; and 
he had succeeded in making his meaning clear to all. 
God could not be good, if He sent evil and suffering. 
The whole thing was a lie ; but civilization needed it. 
This was perfectly clear to the unsophisticated reason- 
ing of all. Truth had only to be stated to be under- 
stood and believed. This was one opinion. The 
other was that something good, some fatherly power 
or destiny, which understood things, lay at the back 
of his life. This was also quite certain. Apart from 
the direct knowledge of the fact, it had been proved 
again and again. For he would certainly have died 
for various reasons, chiefly for lack of nourishment, 
long before, if life had not been constantly supplied 
him and so would they all have done. All the middle 
of the day he spent outside a public-house, cogitating 
these contradictory opinions, but especially about 
what he was going to do. For some reason he asked 
himself this question to-day with greater frequency 
and with more vital emphasis than before. ' Must do 
something this can't go on,' he reiterated. He ran 
through all his old rejected schemes again for the 
thousandth time emigration, enlisting, tramping into 
the country, going round the town once more. 

In the midst of these thoughts, impelled by the cer- 
tain conviction that something must be done, he found 
himself wandering down the street again. It was 
afternoon, and during all the period of the last ten 
weeks he had never before felt so empty and cavernous 
within. A crowd of people were going into a public 
hall, off one of the principal streets. Admission 



THE STOWAWAY 467 

appeared to be free, and Jim drifted in with them, 
pondering on what he was going to do on what he 
had got to do rather than on what he was doing. He 
found himself at a political meeting. The chairman, a 
small, fat, smiling gentleman, in a fur coat, was intro- 
ducing the speaker. The chairman spoke with dainti- 
ness and grace, looking round on his audience and 
smiling, and clasping his two little hands together. 
He was enjoying himself. Then the speaker began, a 
gloomy man. James Holloway followed all that was 
said. He seemed to have two minds this afternoon. 
With one mind he followed the speaker, and understood 
all that he said ; with the other mind he was still 
determining that something must be done, that he 
must enlist, emigrate, cut his throat, or do something. 
The gloomy speaker was getting a little warmer. He 
had reached the glories of the Empire, the necessity 
for building it up, and doing all in our power to preserve 
it, and hand it on to our children. We must even be 
prepared to make sacrifices for it. Though in his own 
private opinion no sacrifice would be necessary, still 
we must be prepared to make sacrifices. James 
Holloway, along with the rest of the audience, loudly 
indicated his readiness to make a sacrifice. As he 
cheered, his mind Number Two was saying that some- 
thing must be done, that it could not go on, and that 
he must go up again to the paper mills to see if a job 
was to be had there. 

The speaker was now threatening his audience. 
* Was England to become a second-class Power ? ' he 
asked them. Before asking that question he had 
paused ; and he asked it, not triumphantly, but with 
a deadly significance. His voice lowered itself. ' Was 
it possible that England might ever become a second- 
class Power ? ' He spoke as if alluding to one of those 
darker subjects which are not mentioned in polite 
society. A third time he repeated the question, in a 
grave and awful whisper, ' Was there any one in that 



468 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

room who had ever faced the possibility of England' 3 
becoming a second-class Power a Denmark, a Sweden, 
or a Norway ? ' James Hollo way felt faint. Then 
the speaker recovered himself, and brought out his 
emphatic Noes. He passed on once more to Empire, 
to Royalty, the Flag, and the Army and Navy, in a 
grand peroration. Holloway, who sat at the back 
of the room, rose to his feet with many of the audience, 
and shouted. As he rose, it seemed to him that he 
was indeed rising and rising. For a moment he thought 
that his spirit had left the body. Then he realized 
that he must be ill ; and immediately fright seized him, 
and he turned sick and faint. He made for the door, 
and hurried out. 

James Holloway had a theory that when a man was 
feeling ill and done-up, the best thing he could do was 
to go and work. This he had often proved in practice. 
He made up his mind on the spot, that he would go and 
work. Cost what it might, he would work before night- 
fall. He went down to the docks, and slunk along the 
wharves unobserved. Come what might, he would 
work somewhere, at something. It was the only way 
to cure himself. Heaven was propitious. In a quiet 
corner, against a lonely wharf, he observed a Norwegian 
schooner, unloading small baulks of timber. The baulks 
of timber were being thrown out by hand from the hold 
of the vessel. Two seamen stood on deck, catching 
them as they popped out of the hold, and throwing them 
with a clatter on a huge pile that had formed itself on 
the wharf. Two other seamen stood on this pile, 
throwing the wood slowly about, so as to build and 
shape the structure, and allow room for more. James 
Holloway slunk alongside this pile of wood. For 
some time he watched the men at work. He caught 
the eye of one of the seamen, and winked. The big 
Norwegian stopped work, and straightened himself 
with a S!OW T , pleasant gasp. Jim scrambled on to the 
pile, and began to throw the timber towards its farther 



THE STOWAWAY 469 

end, so as to make room for more in the centre. The 
Norwegian smiled, and went on with his own work. 
Jim worked away with a will. It was a luxury to put 
out his strength again ; and he felt better and better. 
Every moment he expected the mate to come and warn 
him off. The mate came to the edge of the vessel, and 
leaned his arm on the bulwarks, smiling ironically at 
Holloway. ' You laike vurk ? ' he said. Holloway 
worked away in silence. The mate smiled a deeper 
smile. He remained lazily leaning on the bulwarks 
for a minute, and then returned to his post above the 
hold, catching the timber as it popped out. The vessel 
was being unloaded by the crew, without any outside 
assistance but this voluntary aid proffered by our 
friend. They worked on till late. Holloway ventured 
no questions ; but they were evidently working over- 
time. Only one thought now occupied his mind. 
Would his services be recognized in any form ? His 
unchartered work was against the rules of the docks ; 
and they had not even asked for it. Yet he augured 
well from the mate's impassive look ; they were 
evidently in a hurry, as they were working late, and 
his work was a gain to them. 

Presently the mate made a peculiar sound in his 
throat ; and they all stopped work. The mate leaned 
again on the bulwarks. The big seaman on the pile 
straightened himself once more with the same pleasant 
gasp. Slowly they all disappeared into the little fo'c'sle. 
Holloway stood on the pile in the gathering dusk, 
dismally watching them depart. The mate had now 
disappeared in the forward part of the vessel ; and 
his last hope was gone. Suddenly the mate's figure 
reappeared on deck. He looked at Holloway, and 
nodded his head casually towards the fo'c'sle. 

Jim Hofloway scrambled on board and, lowering his 
head, joined the other seamen in the fo'c'sle, which was 
about six feet by eight feet. A beautiful smell greeted 
his nostrils, of frizzled onions and potatoes, along with 



470 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

tobacco and oil and tar. One of the men was frying a 
mess over a little stove. A table in the centre was 
prepared for the meal. Hollo way jammed himself 
down by the table on a chest, trying to take up as little 
room as possible. The three other seamen lay in their 
bunks, enjoying the luxury of relief from toil. They 
grunted to one another in Norwegian, paying no atten- 
tion to Jim. The cook glanced at him and laughed, 
as he stirred his pan. The cook could speak English. 
8 No work in Hull,' he said, ' very slack, all out of 
work.' He smiled affectionately at his onions. Pres- 
ently the fry was served up on the table. The seamen 
came out of their bunks, and all fell to. Jim Holloway 
never enjoyed a meal so much. Two of the hands were 
scarcely more than boys. They had fair hair and blue 
eyes, and looked fresh and blooming, with enormous 
shoulders encased in blue jerseys. On Holloway's 
right sat an older man, in a pair of boots reaching 
above his knees, which he had not troubled to pull off. 
Opposite to him sat the cook. All five of them ate 
away with a relish ; a small lamp burned against the 
wall, and the smoke of the food went up from the table. 
The Norwegians became more talkative as they ate. 
Holloway thought that never had he seen four such 
pleasant-looking fellows. It was a luxury to him to 
rest his eyes on their contented faces. They paid but 
little attention to himself, and talked and laughed 
quietly to one another. It was a pleasure to hear them 
speaking in a foreign tongue, to watch their smiles and 
laughs and gestures, without knowing what it was they 
were talking about. The fo'c'sle was very warm. 
The men got out their tobacco, and began to smoke. 
They looked at one another through the smoke, now 
talking volubly. The cook began to hum, drumming 
his fingers on the table. He hummed louder and 
louder, and presently his humming broke into words, 
which he sang over to himself. When he reached a 
certain point in the song, the others stopped talking 



THE STOWAWAY 471 

suddenly and joined in. The cook had a pleasant 
voice, and he made the most of it. He came out now 
with the next verse in style, and the others alt joined 
in again at the right moment. The song sounded very 
pleasantly and strangely in Holloway's ears ; unlike 
anything he had heard before. Opposite him on the 
wall was a picture post-card, representing a waterfall 
coming down a mountain-side into the sea ; and 
Holloway kept his eyes fixed upon it. As the song 
rose and fell, Holloway became aware of the country 
to which these men belonged. He felt the atmosphere 
of the land from which they came ; and it seemed to 
make the fo'c'sle fresher and purer. It was a happy 
land they belonged to, and one that was dear to them 
a small land far away north, far away from his troubles 
in Hull. ' Lucky chaps ! Lucky beggars ! ' he 
thought to himself. He spat on the floor. He could 
scarcely restrain his emotion and envy. He had never 
been outside Hull himself, and yet he felt and under- 
stood, and knew that he understood, the sort of 
country these men came from. He watched the 
Norwegians with closer interest and delight. Another 
of the seamen began to sing. One of the boys reached 
down a cardboard box from his bunk, and turned over 
a few letters, and photographs done up in newspaper. 
He took out a photograph of a girl with large eyes 
wide apart, and fair hair parted on her forehead, and 
plaited down her back. He looked at it fondly and 
winked at Holloway. Then he kissed it and held it in 
his arm, and smiled at Holloway. Then he replaced 
it carefully in the newspaper. Holloway swore to 
himself. The cook told him to sing them a song. He 
gave them as much as he could remember of the last 
music-hall song. His voice was nasal. He hoped 
to have made an impression, but, to judge from their 
faces, they did not understand his style and tone. At 
last he had to clear out. ' Well, good night, mates, 
and thank ye kindly much obliged, I'm sure.' Some- 



472 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

what to his surprise they held out their hands ; and ho 
shook hands all round. On the dark deck outside, he 
paused for a moment, and looked back with a sigh at 
the bright, steaming interior of the little fo'c'sle. 

Then he slunk along the docks. He had a full belly, 
but no money in his pockets. Passing a deserted part 
of the wharf, he slipped into a storage shed, and 
presently came across an enormous empty packjng- 
case, with straw in it, into which he climbed, and 
nestled down at the bottom. He felt tired, comfort- 
able, and happy ; but he could not sleep. He was 
thinking of the Norwegian schooner, and the land she 
was bound for. They were off the day after to-morrow, 
he had gathered from the cook lucky fellows. 

All in an instant his mind was made up. He would 
go with them. Yes, this was what things had been 
working towards. He had got to do something, he 
must do something. Then he would go to Norway. 
His spirits rose wonderfully. Why, of course, it was 
just the thing. He would stow himself away some- 
where in the hold. But what was he going to do when 
he got there ? He cared not a jot. Let them send him 
to quod, let them do anything with him ; he wanted to 
see that little harbour, and the mountain, and the 
young woman whose photograph had been kissed. 
What was there to keep him in Hull ? When in doubt, 
do something, he said to himself, and fell asleep, and 
dreamed of the waterfall and the mountain. In his 
ear the music of the Norwegian song kept rising and 
falling rhythmically. He sat beside the waterfall, with 
his arm round the waist of a young lady. 

In the grey of the morning he awoke again. He 
remembered his decision of the night before, and felt 
doubtful. He was only a fool to think of such a plan. 
' Go to Norway, eh ? ' He laughed, and spat into the 
straw in which he lay. He lay there thinking for some 
time. Then he scrambled out and sloped along the 
wharf. It was drizzling, and just getting light. 



THE STOWAWAY 473 

Jim Holloway had a theory that no man could fight 
against Destiny. This had been proved again and 
again in his life. He had often thought of getting 
married, of finding a nice girl who would do him good ; 
and he had remained a bachelor. That was Destiny. 
He had often thought of leaving Hull and making a 
fresh start somewhere else, making the most of himself, 
earning the respect of his fellow-men, and a regular 
wage ; but he had remained at Hull, in irregular em- 
ployment, or out of employment. This was Destiny. 
He was always on the look-out for Destiny. His great- 
coat had come to him by Destiny. He had found it 
hanging on a paling. Destiny had ruled his life. 
Destiny now carried him up to the town. It first of 
all pawned his overcoat, and bought him two loaves 
of bread, some cheese, and a large stone bottle of water. 
It acted with infinite caution, and waited two days 
and a night. It rested his mind, and healed the pain 
of the last many weeks. It bade good-bye to Hull, 
and the drizzle, and the dreary tramp from dockyard 
to dockyard, and from one mill to another. He spent 
most of the day outside his usual pub. ' Now what 
should make me think of going to Norway ? J he kept 
saying to himself. And then he laughed to himself. 
He discussed a variety of themes, as usual, with a 
choice company outside the public -house. He felt 
his eyes twinkling as he spoke, and he kept smiling. 
He was wondering what they would say, if he told them 
he was going to Norway ? Who could tell ? It was 
just pure Destiny. He had seen it last night in the 
fo'c'sle, and it was a place which would suit him, it 
was a place which was meant for him. This day and 
the next, as he waited for his schooner to be loaded up, 
and ready to start, were the happiest of his life so far. 
He was at last going to do something. For ten years 
past he had felt that Destiny was on its way ; it was 
coming, and something would happen. Now he knew 
it had come. He smiled benevolently on his poor 



474 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

companions. He took the lead in the conversation. 
He was full of confidence and cheerfulness ; and the 
spirits of his companions rose, they knew not why. 
Jim Holloway was conscious again of his two minds. 
With one mind he talked and jested and swore with 
his pals ; with the other he knew that Destiny was at 
work, that a new life had begun. With one mind he 
talked sound sense and reason to his companions ; with 
the other he cognized a project, the meaning and sense 
of which he knew it was impossible for him to explain 
to any mortal man. But the knowledge of this only 
made him happier. He thrust his hands deep down in 
his breeches pockets. Yes, he was going away, going 
away the following night where to he did not know, 
what to do he did not care but he was going some- 
where, and Destiny was taking him there. 

He kept an eye on the schooner, until the loading-up 
for the home journey was completed. That night he 
went down to the docks about midnight. He had 
not the slightest doubt that he should be successful 
in stowing himself away. He had no difficulty in 
getting on to the wharves, and soon found his little 
schooner. There she lay, with her old-fashioned spars 
and rigging visible against the sky. Sure enough, he 
had nothing to do but drop quietly on board, and slip 
down into the hold. It was all as easy as possible. 
He met no policeman or dock-watcher anywhere on 
the wharves. A miscellaneous cargo had been shipped 
in the hold. Jim looked about for a comfortable 
corner. Doubts kept drifting across his mind. He 
was afraid, now and then, that he had perhaps gone 
off his head in doing such a senseless thing ; but this 
doubt troubled him very little. He had a theory that 
when a man thought one thing, the opposite was usually 
the truth ; and this comforted him. He groped about 
with circumspection in the hold, cautiously lighting 
matches until he found a snug little corner right down 
in the cargo, where he could stow himself comfortably. 



THE STOWAWAY 475 

There was even a shelf for his bottle of water, his two 
loaves, and his bit of cheese. He felt neither hungry, 
tired, nor thirsty, but perfectly normal. He curled 
himself up, with a sigh of satisfaction, and was soon 
fast asleep. 

Bang, bump. ... It was morning, and more cargo 
was being swung down into the hold. Jim had 
climbed down into the hold by the forward hatch, and 
he had scrambled aft. The stern hatch had been 
closed down, and he had had an idea that it was closed 
for good. Now to his surprise the light shone ; it had 
been opened again. He heard the rattle of the steam 
crane, and big boxes began to swing down above him. 
Jim sat still, his heart in his mouth. Bump came a 
large case of several tons weight right above his head, 
entirely closing the aperture at the bottom of which he 
sat. He was shut in a trap. For a moment his head 
swam, and he thought of shouting and disclosing him- 
self. But in another moment Destiny presented itself 
to his reason. He was acting under compulsion ; this 
was only a friendly joke on the part of his guide. All 
was yet well though pitch dark. He lay comfortably 
and quietly, penned in his little cabin. As soon as the 
hatch overhead was closed, and all sounds had ceased, 
he tried the strength of his prison walls. The cleft in 
the cargo which formed his prison was about four feet 
high and three wide. Consequently he could get his 
back against its roof, and use the whole strength of his 
body to lift. He put his hands on his knees, and put 
out his strength little by little. So great was the pur- 
chase that it seemed to him that nothing could possibly 
resist him. Yet the case never budged. It weighed 
tons. Again he put out the whole strength of his body. 
Its force appeared to him tremendous, but it was of 
no avail. Well, he had his bottle of water and his two 
loaves, and they would not be many days crossing the 
sea then all would be well. He had tobacco with 
him, and lit his pipe and made himself comfortable. 



476 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

Presently he knew they were moving ; and before long 
they were out at sea. The ship was tossing and rolling ; 
he could hear the waves crunching against her sides, 
and rushing past them. It never occurred to him to 
be sea-sick, as his thoughts were busy. He had become 
happy again, now that they were off, as he smoked his 
pipe in the dark. It was madness from beginning to 
end, and he knew it ; but that was just the point. He 
could never have settled on such an expedition as this 
for himself it had all been done for him. He had 
been waiting for years and years, and now his time had 
come. To think that Destiny should have taken him 
in hand like this, singled him out from his companions, 
and sent him on a voyage of faith. It was glorious. 
Of course it was all nonsense. What possible use was 
there in his going to Norway ? What in the name of 
fortune was he going to do when he got there ? What 
the devil had ever suggested it ? But it was just 
these arguments which proved the presence of Destiny. 
For, in spite of them all, he was going. 

In the midst of these thoughts he fell into a happy 
sleep ; then he awoke and thought, then he slept 
again. Time passed. Between sleeping and waking, 
and thinking and sleeping again, days passed by. It 
seemed to him that weeks, even months had passed ; 
but he decided that it was not more than a few days. 
Still, they must be already somewhere near Norway, 
he thought. So far, he had eaten and drunk nothing. 
He was saving his provisions up in case of bad weather 
and delays ; and he had felt no need of them, lying 
there sleeping. On waking from a nap some days 
before, as the time had seemed to him, he had felt 
hungry, and a trifle thirsty. But he had resisted the 
temptation to eat and drink ; and it had passed away 
again. Such a long while had passed since then, 
without his taking anything, that he began to look upon 
himself as a sort of fasting man. He had a theory 
that sleep was as good as food and drink, and he was 



THE STOWAWAY 477 

proving it up to the hilt. Now, however, the time 
had come, he thought, to take a little food and drink. 
He began with a bit of bread, but found he could not 
eat it till he had drunk some water* He took a re- 
freshing gulp, and applied himself to the bread. But 
he could not get on with it ; it seemed to- stick in his 
throat. He took a little more water, not enough to 
satisfy him. He lay down and slept again, and awoke 
feeling thirsty. He then recollected a theory of his 
that, in the treatment of appetites, half measures were 
no use, and it was best to satisfy them fully, and so let 
them be. So he had a real good drink, wiped his mouth 
and corked up the stone bottle. Five minutes after- 
wards he felt thirsty again. This time he had to deny 
himself, but he could not sleep for thinking of the water 
in the bottle. He was also puzzled by this feeling of 
thirst. He could not make it out. He had drunk a 
good half-pint or more, enough to last a man who was 
not working, but just lying idle, as long as you like. 
Why should he feel thirsty again at once ? The right 
plan, the normal plan was, to quench his thirst, and 
then go comfortably for twenty-four hours without any 
more drink* So he took another pull at the bottle, to 
make sure that the thirst was satisfied, and laid him- 
self down to sleep. In three minutes he was thirsty 
again. He saw now that he had a battle to fight, that 
an enemy had risen up against him. He could sleep 
no more, because this enemy grew. When he did drop 
off into a doze, the enemy took new and strange 
shapes. It was better to fight it waking than sleeping. 
It was not thirst merely that he suffered from, but 
fear. 

Fear laid hold of him more and more ; an unknown 
horror of darkness lay before him. He had never been 
afraid of death. Death at this moment, in the open 
air and with his thirst quenched, would have been 
bliss. But death where he was, and with his thirst 
unsatisfied. . . . Every now and then he put his lips 



478 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

to the stone bottle, and enjoyed a few moments of 
exquisite pleasure. The thirst was momentarily 
relieved ; but the fear remained, and soon the suffering 
came back again. At last the water was all gone. 
His whole being became absorbed in one awful want. 
The very objects of his consciousness the darkness, 
the walls of his prison, the empty bottle, the remains 
of the bread and cheese, his own body these things 
ceased to be themselves, and became one unspeakable 
thirst. He began to shout at the top o& his voice. He 
put his back to the roof of his prison, and strained 
against it with his whole force. He shouted and 
shouted for days, it seemed to him. A raging madness 
took possession of him ; he flung himself about his 
prison, then he lay and wept and sobbed, sucking the 
salt tears into his mouth with his dry tongue. Then 
he cursed God, Creation, and Destiny, with every foul 
word known in Hull. 

Sometimes there would come a lull in these par- 
oxysms. Whilst lying in one of these calmer moments, 
half senseless, he suddenly noticed that the ship was 
steadier. The deafening sound of plunging and surging 
had given place to a loud cackling, as she rippled through 
quieter water. A wild hope sprang up in his breast. 
They must be reaching Norway. He had been weeks 
and weeks in his prison ; and the end of the journey must 
be close at hand. For a time his sufferings vanished, 
swallowed up by hope. Every moment he expected 
to hear even the ripple cease, and to reach the stillness 
of the harbour side. Hour after hour the water 
cackled loudly past the ship's sides. He shouted 
again and again ; but his voice was still drowned and 
powerless to carry. How many more hours of anguish 
before they reached the port ? Time, as it passed, 
brought its inexorable answer. There was no end to 
the journey, there never would be any end to it. He 
would go mad and die long before the end ever came. 
The cackle of the stiller waters sounded everlastingly 



THE STOWAWAY 479 

in his ears, and yet they never got to the shore. The 
ship was evidently moving, so there must be some 
breeze outside ; yet the waves no longer rocked her, 
they only splashed and rippled round her. He argued 
and argued as to the meaning of this. Gradually hope 
gave way again to madness and despair. He went 
off his head once more, and raged about within his 
little tomb. Once more he found himself calm. It 
seemed to him that he awoke from a state of uncon- 
sciousness. The waters were still talking round the 
ship's sides, in the same loud and senseless manner. 
He found his mind strangely clear, and saw things in 
the light of reason. He had been a fool and a madman. 
It was all a lie, that nonsense about Destiny all day- 
dreams. This was the real truth ; this was his awaken- 
ing to the facts of life. He had always refused to face 
the truth, liked to live in a little world of his own 
imagination, and this was the end of it ... this was 
the real truth . . . darkness and suffering, awful 
suffering. . . . ' People would never believe what 
suffering is,' he thought, ' they would never believe 
it, not if you was to tell them, till you was black in 
the face, they could not believe it ... it's worse 
than what anybody understands. . . . And this is 
truth, this is God's blessed truth. I believed a 
fairy-tale, and I've got what I deserve.' He began 
to shout and scream once more ; and then he fell 
by degrees into a state of coma. 

As he lay unconscious, the ship came into port, after 
a long journey up the land-locked coast of Norway. 
Half an hour afterwards, he came to his senses again. 
All was still around him. For a while he thought that 
he was dead. Then he heard a sound overhead, and 
a crack of light appeared in the roof of his prison. 
4 Help, help ! ' he shouted, in a strong triumphant 
voice. Joy overpowered him, and quenched his thirst. 
Even in his excitement he noticed that his thirst was 
gone for the moment. He heard men walking above 



480 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

him, and he shouted again, strongly and joyfully. 
The case above began to shift, and in a moment he was 
out of his hole. ' Water ! ' he cried, and scrambled 
on deck. He was struck blind by the light, and held 
out his hands, crying ' Water 1 ' They brought him 
water and he drank, checking his greed with all his 
might. He did not wish to drown his life, now that 
he had just found it. He compelled himself to drink 
quietly* He kept his eyes tightly closed as he drank. 
An ocean of blinding light surrounded him, as though 
he were in the presence of God. His whole being was 
absorbed in joy, and intense, almost insufferable light, 
as he sipped the water of life. Presently he staggered 
to his feet. A hand was stretched out to help him ; 
but he put it from him, and reached the bulwarks. 
The world began to appear to him, unfolding itself 
little by little out of a sea of glory. Overhead he 
became aware of a mountain, its sides and summit 
steaming with a dazzling mist. Out of a golden haze 
on either hand appeared more mountains, and the sea, 
or a lake, he knew not which, reflecting one another 
into the distance. His vision became stronger and 
clearer. Now he saw that the sun was shining, and 
that waterfalls were streaming down the mountain- 
sides ; he could hear the fresh sound of them in the 
distance* The sky was blue overhead. At the foot 
of the mountain the corn was growing. The water- 
falls dashed down the rocks, and tumbled into the fields, 
making rainbows above the corn. He staggered back 
again to his can of water, and sat down on the deck, 
with his back against the fo'c'sle wall. The seamen 
stood around him, smiling. He had his drink ; but 
they now acted as bread and meat to him, as he looked 
at their tanned faces and stalwart figures, warm in the 
sun. He felt very dazed and helpless as he lay on the 
deck, and wondered what they would do with him. 
Though he had staggered to his feet, he thought he 
was too weak to walk. The cook kept talking to him 



THE STOWAWAY 481 

in broken English. The seamen had not been able 
to do anything but smile so far ; but now the cook's 
expression became more emphatic. 

' What you want ? What you doing here ? What 
you come over for ? ' Jim Holloway remembered him- 
self. He scrambled on to his feet again. His head 
swam, and his knees began to totter. The cook 
caught him round the waist, but Jim put his arm aside. 
' Just give us a bite of something,' he said, ' and then 
I'll go and look for work,' and he gazed up at the moun- 
tain overhead, standing firmly without assistance on 
the deck. He felt that, whatever happened, he 
must not give Destiny away again, but play up to it 
manfully. The cook smiled. He bent over the bul- 
warks and talked to a girl who stood on the wooden 
quay. Then he walked up the ship, talked to the mate, 
and came back to Jim, who was leaning on the bulwarks 
again, looking at the mountain. ' You go 'long with 
her,' he said, pointing to the girl. Jim stepped on shore 
bravely, and walked off with the girl down the sunlit 
road. The girl had blue eyes and a softly glowing 
complexion, a shawl was tied over her flaxen hair, her 
sleeves were white, and she wore a*blue serge skirt. 
Jim limped along beside her in his greasy green-black 
clothes. All his life at Hull he had never before felt 
so like a tramp and a ne'er-do-weel. In his excitement 
he kept explaining to her his condition and suffering 
in voluble English. They passed up a little stone path, 
through the hay fields, crossed a bridge over a rushing 
and roaring river, and came to a large substantial 
wooden hut. Here Jim was seated at a table, and given 
milk and bread and cheese, and a hundred comforts. 
His soul was fed with fatness. The mother of the 
household and her daughter attended to him, freely 
and kindly, and with a roughness which put him at his 
ease. He cracked jokes at them, and laughed as he 
soaked his bread in the milk and gained strength. The 
cook soon turned up from the ship. ' Now you in luck, 

228 B 



482 GERALD WARRE CORNISH 

my friend,' lie said. ' There is the pier building over 
there at Sandener, two kilometres, all short of hands, 
the men busy, milk the cows in the saeters. You get 
work on the pier.' ' I thought so,' said Jim, and a 
smile of triumph lit up his face. He was shown some 
clean straw in a barn next door, and rolled up for a 
ten hours' sleep. Next day he was off early. His 
sufferings seemed to have left no effect whatever. He 
walked lightly along the coast ; presently he turned 
a corner of the bay ; and a small village with a wooden 
hotel came in sight. Sure enough, a wooden pier was 
being constructed. He walked straight up to a little 
wooden office, and applied for work. The manager 
could speak English. There was a considerable 
colloquy. Jim explained that he had taken a passage 
over from Hull in search of work. The manager raised 
his eyebrows in astonishment. Jim told a string of 
lies in answer to his questions ; he had heard, he said, 
in Hull that work was to be found in Sandener. The 
manager was baffled. He put back his cap and stared 
at the draggled figure. Then he engaged his services 
as a pile-driver at eighteen krone a week. Jim had a 
hard day's work. Now and then he feared that he was 
going to faint. He worked with four Norwegians, 
heaving up the ton- weight hammer, and letting it fall 
with a bang on to the pile. He marvelled at his own 
powers of endurance after his sufferings. What 
refreshed him was the thought of Destiny. When he 
was on the point of giving in, the thought came to him, 
and a sensation of sweetness and happiness stole over 
him, renewing his strength. 



The steersman came to himself with a start. They 
were close to Sandener ; and the boat had entered the 
shadow of the mountain. The sound of the oars echoed 
louder. He steered towards the wooden pier. On 
it stood his wife, smiling and waving. They landed, 



THE STOWAWAY 483 

made the boat fast for the night, and walked up all 
together to the house with the flagstaff. The mountain 
rose above his house, grey, vast, and barren in the 
gathering gloom. But it brought no chill or vague 
foreboding to his breast. For, in spite of his settled 
life and prosperity, he still loved Destiny. 



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of the public. Some two million copies have 
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from the cheapest to the best cannot fail to com- 
mend themselves to all who love good literature 
presented in worthy form. That a high standard 
is insisted upon is proved by the list of books 
already published and of those on the eve of 
publication. A great feature is the brief critical 
introductions written by leading authorities of 
the day. The volumes of The World's Classics 
are obtainable, bound in cloth and leather, as 
given on page i ; and special attention is directed 
to the sultan-red limp and other leather styles for 
presentation. 

The books printed on thin opaque paper make 
handy volumes for the pocket. 

A recent offshoot from The World's Classics is 
The Oxford Pocket Poets in special bindings. 

October 1921. 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



LIST OF THE SERIES 

The figures in parentheses denote the number of the book in the series 

Aeschylus. The Seven Plays. Translated by LEWIS CAMPBELL. (117) 
Ainsworth (W. Harrison). The Tower of London. (162) 
A Kempis (Thomas). Of the Imitation of Christ. (49) 
Aristophanes. Frere's translation of the Acharnians, Knights, Birds, 

and Frogs. Introduction by W. W. MERRY. (134) 
Arnold (Matthew). Poems. Intro, by Sir A. T. QuiLLER-CouCH. (85) 
Aurelius (Marcus). Thoughts. Trans. J. JACKSON. (60) 
Austen (Jane). Emma. Introduction by E. V. LUCAS. (129) 
Bacon. The Advancement of Learning, and the New Atlantis. Intro- 
duction by Professor CASE. (93) 
Essays. (24) 

Barham. The Ingoldsby Legends. (9) 
Barrow (Sir John). The Mutiny of the Bounty. Introduction by 

Admiral Sir CYPRIAN BRIDGE. (195) 
Betham-Edwards (M.). The Lord of the Harvest. Introduction by 

FREDERIC HARRISON. (194) 

Blackmore (R. D.). Lorna Doone. Intro, by Sir H. WARREN. (171) 
Borrow. The Bible in Spain. (75) 
Lavengro. (66) 
The Romany Rye. (73) 
Wild Wales. (224) 
Bronte Sisters. 

Charlotte Bronte. Jane Eyre, (i) 
Shirley. (14) 
Villette. (47) 

The Professor, and the Poems of Charlotte, Emily, and Anoe 
Bronte. Introduction by THEODORE WATTS-DuNTON. (78) 
Life of Charlotte Bronte, by E. C. GASKELL. (214) 
Emily Bronte. Wuthering Heights. (10) 
Anne Bronte. Agnes Grey. (141) 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. (67) 

Brown (Dr. John). Horae Subsecivae. Intro, by AUSTIN DOBSON. (118) 
Browning (Elizabeth Barrett). Poems : A Selection. (176) 
Browning (Robert). Poems and Plays, 1833-1842. (58) 

Poems, 1842-1864. (137) 

Buckle. The History of Civilization in England. 3 vols. (41, 48, 53) 
Bunyan. The Pilgrim's Progress. (12) 
Burke. 6 vo!s. Vol. I. General Introduction by Judgre WILLIS and 

Preface by F. W. RAFFETY. (71) 

Vols. II, IV, V, VI. Prefaces by F. W. RAFFEIY. (81. 112-114) 
Vol. III. Preface by F. H. WILLIS. (111) 
Correspondence. Selected by H. J. LASKI. (237) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series continued 

Burns. Poems. (34) 

Butler. The Analogy of Religion. Ed. W. E. GLADSTONE. (136) 

Byron. Poems : A Selection. (180) 

Carlyle. On Heroes and Hero- Worship. (62) 

Past and Present. Introduction by G. K. CHESTERTON. (153) 

Sartor Resartus. (19) 

The French Revolution. Intro. C. R. L. FLETCHER. 2 vols. (125, 126) 

The Life of John Sterling. Introduction by W. HALE WHITE. (144) 
Cervantes. Don Quixote. Translated by C. JERVAS. Intro, and Notes by 
J. FiTZMAURICE-KELLY. 2 vols. With a frontispiece. (130,131) 
Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales. (76) 

Chaucer. The Works of. From the text of Professor SKEAT. 3 vols. 
Vol. I (42); Vol. II (56); Vol. Ill, containing the whole of the 
Canterbury Tales (76) 

Cobbold. Margaret Catch pole. Intro, by CLEMENT SHORTER. (119) 
Coleridge. Poems. Introduction by Sir A. T. QuiLLER-CoucH. (99) 
Collins (Wilkie). The Woman in White. (226) 
Cooper (T. Fenimore). The Last of the Mohicans. (163) 
Cowper. Letters. Selected, with Introduction, by E. V. LUCAS. (138) 
Darwin. The Origin of Species. With a Note by GRANT ALLEN. (11) 
Defoe. Captain Singleton. Intro, by THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON. (82) 

Robinson Crusoe. (17) 

De Quincey. Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. (23) 
Dickens. Great Expectations. With 6 Illustrations by WARWICK 
GOBLE. (128) 

Oliver Twist. (8) 

Pickwick Papers. With 43 Illustrations by SEYMOUR and 'Pmz\ 

2 Vols. (I2O, 121) 

Tale of Two Cities. (38) 

Dufferin (Lord). Letters from High Latitudes. Illustrated. With 
Introduction by R. W. MACAN. (158) 

Eliot (George). Adam Bede. (63) 

Felix Holt. Introduction by VIOLA MEYNELL. (179) 

Romola. Introduction by VIOLA MEYNELL. (178) 

Scenes of Clerical Life. Introduction by ANNIE MATHESON. (155) 

Silas Marner, The Lifted Veil, and Brother Jacob. Introduction by 

THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON. (80) 
The Mill on the Floss. (31) 

Emerson. English Traits, and Representative Men. (30) 
Essays. First and Second Series. (6) 
Nature; and Miscellanies. (236) 

English Critical Essays (Nineteenth Century). Selected and edited 
by EDMUND D. JONES. (206) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series continued 

English Essays. Chosen and arranged by W. PEACOCK. (32)' 
English Essays, 1600-1900 (Book of). Chosen by S. V. MAKOWER 

and B. H. BLACKWELL. (172) 
English Letters. (Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries.) Selected and 

edited by M. UUCKITT and H. WRAGG. (192) 
English Prose. Chosen and arranged by W. PEACOCK. 

Mandeville to Ruskin. (45) 

Wycliffe to Clarendon. (219) 

Milton to Gray. (220) 

Walpole to Lamb. (221) 

Landor to Holmes. (222) 

Mrs. Gaskell to Henry James. (223) 
English Prose: Narrative, Descriptive, and Dramatic. Selected 

by H. A. TREBLE. (204) 

English Short Stories. (Nineteenth Century.) Introduction by 
Prof. HUGH WALKER. (193) 

Second Series. (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.) (228) 
English Songs and Ballads. Compiled by T. W. H. CROSLAND. (13) 
English Speeches, from Burke to Gladstone. Selected by EDGAR 

R. JONES, M.P. (191). 

Fielding. Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon, &c. Intro. A. DOBSON. (142) 
Gait (John). The Entail. Introduction by JOHN AYSCOUGH. (177) 
Gaskell (Mrs.). Introductions by CLEMENT SHORTER. 

Cousin Phillis, and other Tales, &c. (168) 

Cranford, The Cage at Cranford, and The Moorland Cottage, (no) 

Lizzie Leigh, The Grey Woman, and other Tales, &c. (175) 

Mary Barton. (86) 

North and South. (154) 

Right at Last, and other Tales, &c. (203) 

Round the Sofa. (190) 

Ruth. (88) 

Sylvia's Lovers. (156) 

Wives and Daughters. (157) 

Life of Charlotte Bronte. (214) 

Gibbon. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. With Maps. 7 vols. 
(35, 44, 5', 55 6 4, 69, 74) 

Autobiography. Introduction by J. B. BURY. (139) 
Goethe. Faust, Part I (with Marlowe's Dr. Faustus). Translated by 

JOHN ANSTER. Introduction by Sir A. W. WARD. (135) 
Goldsmith. Poems. Introduction and Notes by AUSTIN DOBSON. (123) 

The Vicar of Wakefield. (4) 

Grant (James). The Captain of the Guard. (159) 
Hawthorne. The Scarlet Letter. (26) 
Hazlitt. Characters of Shakespeare's Plays. Introduction by Sir A. 

QUILLER-COUCH. (205) 

Lectures on the English Comic Writers. Introduction by R. BRIMLEY 

JOHNSON. (124) 
Sketches and Essays. (15) 
Spirit of the Age. (57) 
Table-Talk. () 
Wiuterslow (25^ 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series continued 

Herbert (George). Poems. Introduction by ARTHUR WAUGH. (109) 

He nick. Poems. (16) 

Holmes (Oliver Wendell). The Autocrat of the Breakfast- Table. (61) 

The Poet at the Breakfast-Table. Intro. Sir W. R. NICOLL. (95) 

The Professor at the Breakfast-Table. Intro. Sir W. R. NlCOLL. (89) 
Homer. Iliad. Translated by Pope. (18) 

Odyssey. Translated by Pope. (36) 
Hood. Poems, Introduction by WALTER JERROLD. (87) 
Home (R. H.). A New Spirit of the Age. Intro. W. JERROLD. (127) 
Hume. Essays. (33) 
Hunt (Leigh). Essays and Sketches. Intro. R. B. JOHNSON. (115) 

The Town. Introduction and Notes by AUSTIN DOBSON. (132) 
Irving (Washington). The Conquest of Granada. (150) 

The Sketch-Book. Introduction by T. BALSTON. (173) 
Jerrold (Douglas). Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures, &c. Intro. 
WALTER JERROLD, and 90 Illustrations by KEENE, LEECH, and 
DOYLE. (122) 
Johnson. Lives of the English Poets. Intro. A. WAUGH. 2 vols. 

(83, 84) 

Keats. Poems. (7) 
Keble. The Christian Year. (181) 

Lamb. Essays of Elia, and The Last Essays of Elia. (2) 
Landor. Imaginary Conversations. Selected with Introduction by 

Prof. E. DE SELINCOURT. (196) 
Lesage. Gil Bias. Translated by T. SMOLLETT, with Introduction and 

Notes by J. FiTZMAUR ICE-KELLY. 2 vols. (151, 152) 
Letters written in War Time. Selected by H. WRAGG. (202) 
Longiellow. Evangeline, The Golden Legend, &c. (39) 

Hiawatha, Miles Standish, Tales of a Wayside Inn, &c. (174) 
Lytton. Harold. With 6 Illustrations by CHARLES BURTON. (165) 
Macaulay. Lays of Ancient Rome ; Ivry; The Armada. (27) 
Machiavelli. The Prince. Translated by LuiGl Ricci. (43) 
Marcus Aurelius. See Aurelius. 
Marlowe. Dr. Faustus (with Goethe's Faust, Part I). Introduction by 

Sir A. W. WARD. (135) 
Marryat Mr. Midshipman Easy. (160) 

The King's Own. With 6 Illustrations by WARWICK GOBLE. (164) 
Melville (Herman). Moby-Dick. Intro. VIOLA MEYNELL. (225) 
Mill (John Stuart). On Liberty, &c. Intro. Mrs. FAWCETT. (170) 
Milton. The English Poems. (182) 

Montaigne. Essays. Translated by J. FLORIO. 3 vols. (65, 70, 77) 
Morris (W.). The Defence of Guene^ere, Jason, &c. (183) 
Motley. Rise of the Dutch Republic. 3 vols. (96, 97, 98) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series continued 

Nekrassov. Who can be happy and free in Russia? A Poem. Trans. 

by JULIET SOSKICE. (213) 
Palgrave. The Golden Treasury. With additional Poems, including 

FITZGERALD'S translation of Omar Khayyam. (133) 
Peacock (W.). English Prose from Mandeville to Ruskin. (45) 
English Prose. 5 vols. : 

Wjcliffe to Clarendon. (219) Walpole to Lamb. (221) 

Milton to Gray. (220) Landor to Holmes. (222) 

Mrs. Gaskell to Henry James. (223) 
Selected English Essays. (32) 

Poe (Edgar Allan). Tales of Mystery and Imagination. (21) 
Polish Tales. A Selection. Translated by ELSIE C. M. BENECKE and 

M. BUSCH. (230) 

Porter (Jane). The Scottish Chiefs. (161) 
Prescott (W. H.). History of the Conquest of Mexico. Introduction 

by Mrs. ALBC-TwEEDiB. 2 vols. (197, 198) 
Reid (Mayne). The Rifle Rangers. With 6 Illustrations. (166) 

The Scalp Hunters. With 6 Illustrations by A. H. COLLINS. (167) 
Reynolds (Sir Joshua). The Discourses, and the Letters to 'The 

Idler'. Introduction by AUSTIN DOBSON. (149) 
Rossetti (Christina). Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress, and 

other Poems. (184) 

Rossetti (D. G.). Poems and Translations, 1850-1870. (185) 
Ruskin. {Ruskin House Editions^ by arrangement with Messrs. Allen 

and Unwin^ Ltd?) 

* A Joy for Ever,' and The Two Paths. Illustrated. (147) 
Sesame and Lilies, and The Ethics of the Dust. (145) 
Time and Tide, and The Crown of Wild Olive. (146) 
Unto this Last, and Munera Pulveris. (148) 
Scott. Ivanhoe. (29) 

Lives of the Novelists. Introduction by AUSTIN DOBSON. (94) 
Poems. A Selection. (186) 
Selected English Short Dories. (Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.) 

Two Series. (193, 228) 

Selected Speeches and Documents on British Colonial Polic}' 
(1763-1917). Edited, with Intro., by Professor A. B. Keith, 
D.C.L., D.Litt. 2 vols. (215, 216) ' 
Selected Speeches and Documents on Indian Policy (1756-1921), 

Edited, with Introduction, by Prof. A. B. KEITH. (231, 232) 
Selected Speeches on British Foreign Policy (1738-1914). Edited 

by EDGAR R. JONES, M.P. (201) 

Shakespeare. Plays and Poems. With a Preface by A. C. SWINBURNE 
and general Introductions to the several plays and poems by 
EDWARD DOWDEN, and a Note by T. WATTS-DUNTON on the 
special typographical features of this Edition. 9 vols. 
Comedies. 3 vols. (100, 101, 102) 
Histories and Poems. 3 vols. (103, 104, 105) 
Tragedies, 3 vols. (106, 107, 108) 



THE WORLD'S CLASSICS 



List of the Series continued 

Shakespeare's Contemporaries. Six Plays by BEAUMONT and 
FLETCHEK, DEKKER, WEBSTER, and MASSINGER. Edited bv 
C. B. WHEELER. (199) 

Shakespearean Criticism. A Selection. Ed. D. N. SMITH. (212) 

Shelley. Poems. A Selection. (187) 

Sheridan. Plays. Introduction by JOSEPH KNIGHT. (79) 

Smith (Adam). The Wealth of Nations. 2 vols. (54, 59) 

Smith (Alexander). Dreamthorp, with Selections from Last Leaves. 
Introduction by Prof. HUGH WALTER. (200) 

Smollett. Travels through France and Italy. Intro. T. SECCOMBE. (90) 

Sophocles. The Seven Plays. Trans. LEWIS CAMPBELL, (i 16) 

Southey (Robert). Letters. Selected, with an Introduction and Notes, 
by MAURICE H. FITZGERALD. (169) 

Sterne. Tristram Shandy. (40) 

Swift. Gulliver's Travels. (20) 

Taylor (Meadows). Confessions of a Thug. (207) 

Tennyson. Selected Poems. Introduction by Sir H. WARREN. (3) 

Thackeray. Book of Snobs, Sketches and Travels in London, &c. (50) 
Henry Esmond. (28) 
Pendennis. Introduction by EDMUND GOSSE. 2 vols. (91,92) 

Thoreau. Walden. Introduction by THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON. (68) 

Tolstoy. Essays and Letters. Translated by AYLMER MAUDE. (46) 
Twenty-three Tales. Translated by L. and A. MAUDE. (72) 
The Cossacks. Translated by L. and A. MAUDE. (208) 
Resurrection. Trans. L. MAUDE, Intro. A. MAUDE. (209) 
Anna Karenina. Trans. AYLMER MAUDE. 2 vols. (210,211) 
A Confession, and What I Believe. Trans. AYLMER' MAUDE. (229) 
War and Peace. 3 vols. f 233-5) 

Trollope. The Three Clerks. Intro, by W. TEIGNMOUTH SHORE. (i 4 o) 
The Warden. (217) 

Virgil. Translated by DRYDEN. (37) 

Virgil. Translated by J. RHOADES. (227) 

Watts-Dunton (Theodore). Aylwin. (52), 

Wells (Charles). Joseph and his Brethren. With an Introduction by 
ALGERNON CHARLES SWINBURNE, and a Note on Rossetti and 
Charles Wells by THEODORE WATTS-DUNTON. (143) 

White (Gilbert). The Natural History of Selborne. (22) 

Whitman. Leaves of Grass: A Selection. Introduction by E. DB 
SELINCOURT. (218) 

Whittier. Poems : A Selection. (188) 

Wordsworth. Poems: A Selection. (189) 



HUMPHREY MILFORD 
OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS 

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