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Full text of "Victory; an island tale .."

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VICTORY 



BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

Almayer's Folly 

An Outcast of the Islands 

The Nigger of the "Narcissus" 

Tales of Unrest 

Lord Jim 

Youth : A Narrative 

Typhoon 

NosTROMO: A Tale of the Seaboard 

The Mirror of the Sea 

The Secret Agent 

A Set of Six 

Under Western Eyes 

Some Reminiscences 

'TwiXT Land and Sea 

Chance 

Within the Tides 

WITH FORD M. HUEFFER 

Romance : A Novel 

The Inheritors : An Extravagant Story 



VICTORY 



AN ISLAND TALE 



BY 

JOSEPH CONRAD 



Calling shapes and beckoning shadows dire 
And airy tongues that syllable mens names 
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses. 

COMUS 



NEW AND CHEAPER ISSUE 



METHUEN & CO. LTD. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.a 

LONDON 



First Published September 24th igrj 

Second, Thirds and Fourth Editions . September igiS 

Fifth Edition .... . October jgiS 

New and Cheaper Issue . . - igi7 



TO 

PERCEVAL 

AND 

MAISIE GIBBON 



AUTHOR'S NOTE 

'V ^HE last word of this novel was written on the 2gth 
J- of May 1914. And that last word was the single 
word of the title. 

Those were the times of peace. Now that the moment 
of publication approaches I have been considering the 
discretion of altering the title-page. The word Victory, 
the shining and tragic goal of noble effort, appeared too 
great, too august, to stand at the head of a mere novel. 
There was also the possibility of falling under the sus- 
picion of commercial asttcteness deceiving the public into 
the belief that the book had something to do with war. 

Of that, however, I was not afraid very much. What 
influenced my decision most were the obscure promptings 
of that pagan residuum of awe and wonder which lurks 
still at the bottom of our old humanity. Victory was the 
last word I had written in peace time. It was the last 
literary thought which had occurred to me before the 
doors of the Temple of Janus flying open with a crash 
shook the minds, the hearts, the consciences of men all 
over the world. Such coincidence could not be treated 
lightly. And I made up my mind to let the word stand, 
in the same hopeful spirit in which some simple citizen 
of Old Rome would have " accepted the Omen." 



Vll 



viii VICTORY 

The second point on which I wish to offer a remark is 
the existence {in the novel) of a person named Schomherg. 

That I believe him to he true goes without saying. I 
am not likely to offer pinchbeck wares to my public 
consciously. S chamber g is an old member of my company. 
A very subordinate personage in Lord Jim as far back 
as the year 1899, he became notably active in a certain 
short story of mine published in 1902. Here he appears 
in a still larger part, true to life {I hope), but also true to 
himself. Only, in this instance, his deeper passions 
come into play, and thus his grotesque psychology is 
completed at last. 

I don't pretend to say that this is the entire Teutonic 
psychology ; but it is indubitably the psychology of a 
Teuton. My object in mentioning him here is to bring 
out the fact that, far from being the incarnation of recent 
animosities, he is the creature of my old, deep-seated and, 
as it were, impartial conviction. 

]. C. 



PART 1 



THERE is, as every schoolboy knows in this scientific 
age, a very close chemical relation between coal and 
diamonds. It is the reason, I believe, why some people 
allude to coal as " black diamonds." Both these commo- 
dities represent wealth ; but coal is a much less portable 
form of property. There is, from that point of view, a de- 
plorable lack of concentration in coal. Now, if a coal-mine 
could be put into one's waistcoat pocket — but it can't ! 
At the same time, there is a fascination in coal, the supreme 
commodity of the age in which we are camped like be- 
wildered travellers in a garish, unrestful hotel. And I 
suppose those two considerations, the practical and the 
mystical, prevented Heyst — Axel Heyst — from going away. 
The Tropical Belt Coal Company went into liquidation. 
The world of finance is a mysterious world in which, in- 
credible as the fact may appear, evaporation precedes 
liquidation. First the capital evaporates, and then the 
company goes into liquidation. These are very unnatural 
physics, but they account for the persistent inertia of 
Heyst, at which we " out there " used to laugh among our- 
selves — but not inimically. An inert body can do no harm 
to any one, provokes no hostility, is scarcely worth derision. 
It may, indeed, be in the way sometimes ; but this could 
not be said of Axel Heyst. He was out of everybody's way, 
as if he were perched on the highest peak of the Himalayas, 
and in a sense as conspicuous. Every one in that part of 



4 VICTORY 

the world knew of him, dwelling on his little island. An 
island is but the top of a mountain. Axel Heyst, perched 
on it immovably, was surrounded, instead of the imponder- 
able stormy and transparent ocean of air merging into 
infinity, by a tepid, shallow sea ; a passionless offshoot 
of the great waters which embrace the continents of 
this globe. His most frequent visitors were shadows, the 
shadows of clouds, relieving the monotony of the inanimate, 
brooding sunshine of the tropics. His nearest neighbour — 
I am speaking now of things showing some sort of anima- 
tion — was an indolent volcano which smoked faintly all day 
with its head just above the northern horizon, and at night 
levelled at him, from amongst the clear stars, a dull red 
glow, expanding and collapsing spasmodically like the end 
of a gigantic cigar puffed at intermittently in the dark. Axel 
Heyst was also a smoker ; and when he lounged out on his 
veranda with his cheroot, the last thing before going to bed, 
he made in the night the same sort of glow and of the same 
size as that other one so many miles away. 

In a sense, the volcano was company to him in the shades 
of the night — which were often too thick, one would think, 
to let a breath of air through. There was seldom enough 
wind to blow a feather along. On most evenings of the 
year Heyst could have sat outside with a naked candle to 
read one of the books left him by his late father. It was not 
a mean store. But he never did that. Afraid of mos- 
quitoes, very likely. Neither was he ever tempted by the 
silence to address any casual remarks to the companion 
glow of the volcano. He was not mad. Queer chap — yes, 
that may have been said, and in fact was said ; but there is 
a tremendous difference between the two, you will allow. 

On the nights of full moon the silence around Samburan 
— the " Round Island " of the charts — was dazzling ; 
and in the flood of cold light Heyst could see his imme- 



VICTORY 5 

diate surroundings, which had the aspect of an abandoned 
settlement invaded by the jungle : vague roofs above low 
vegetation, broken shadows of bamboo fences in the sheen 
of long grass, something like an overgrown bit of road 
slanting among ragged thickets toward the shore only a 
couple of hundred yards away, with a black jetty and a 
mound of some sort, quite inky on its unlighted side. But 
the most conspicuous object was a gigantic blackboard 
raised on two posts and presenting to Heyst, when the 
moon got over that side, the white letters " T. B. C. Co." 
in a row at least two feet high. These were the initials of 
the Tropical Belt Coal Company, his employers — his late 
employers, to be precise. 

According to the unnatural mysteries of the financial 
world, the T. B. C. Company's capital having evaporated in 
the course of two years, the company went into liquidation — 
— forced, I believe, not voluntary. There was nothing 
forcible in the process, however. It was slow ; and while 
the liquidation — in London and Amsterdam — pursued its 
languid course. Axel Heyst, styled in the prospectus 
" manager in the tropics," remained at his post on Sam- 
buran, the No. i coaling-station of the company. 

And it was not merely a coaling-station. There was a 
coal-mine there, with an outcrop in the hillside less than 
five hundred yards from the rickety wharf and the imposing 
blackboard. The company's object had been to get hold 
of all the outcrops on tropical islands and exploit them 
locally. And, Lord knows, there were any amount of 
outcrops. It was Heyst who had located most of them in 
this part of the tropical belt during his rather aimless 
wanderings, and being a ready letter-writer had written 
pages and pages about them to his friends in Europe. At 
least, so it was said. 

We doubted whether he had any visions of wealth — 



6 VICTORY 

for himself, at any rate. What he seemed mostly con- 
cerned for was the " stride forward," as he expressed it, 
in the general organisation of the universe, apparently. 
He was heard by more than a hundred persons in the 
islands talking of a " great stride forward for these regions." 
The convinced wave of the hand which accompanied the 
phrase suggested tropical distances being impelled onward. 
In connection with the finished courtesy of his manner, it 
was persuasive, or at any rate silencing — for a time, at 
least. Nobody cared to argue with him when he talked in 
this strain. His earnestness could do no harm to anybody. 
There was no danger of any one taking seriously his dream 
of tropical coal, so what was the use of hurting his feelings ? 

Thus reasoned men in reputable business ofi&ces where 
he had his entree as a person who came out East with 
letters of introduction — and modest letters of credit, too — 
some years before these coal-outcrops began to crop up 
in his playfully courteous talk. From the first there was 
some difficulty in making him out. He was not a traveller. 
A traveller arrives and departs, goes on somewhere. Heyst 
did not depart. I met a man once — the manager of the 
branch of the Oriental Banking Corporation in Malacca — 
to whom Heyst exclaimed, in no connection with anything 
in particular (it was in the billiard-room of the club) : 

" I am enchanted with these islands ! " 

He shot it out suddenly, d propos des hottes, as the French 
say, and while chalking his cue. And perhaps it was some 
sort of enchantment. There are more spells than your 
commonplace magicians ever dreamed of. 

Roughly speaking, a circle with a radius of eight hundred 
miles drawn round a point in North Borneo was in Heyst's 
case a magic circle. It just touched Manila, and he had 
been seen there. It just touched Saigon, and he was Hke- 
wise seen there once. Perhaps these were his attempts to 



VICTORY 7 

break out. If so, they were failures. The enchantment 
must have been an unbreakable one. The manager — the 
man who heard the exclamation — had been so impressed 
by the tone, fervour, rapture, what you will, or perhaps by 
the incongruity of it that he had related the experience to 
more than one person. 

" Queer chap, that Swede," was his only comment ; 
but this is the origin of the name " Enchanted Heyst " 
which some fellows fastened on our man. 

He also had other names. In his early years, long 
before he got so becomingly bald on the top, he went to 
present a letter of introduction to Mr. Tesman of Tesman 
Brothers, a Sourabaya firm — tip- top house. Well, Mr. 
Tesman was a kindly, benevolent old gentleman. He did 
not know what to make of that caller. After telling him 
that they wished to render his stay among the islands as 
pleasant as possible, and that they were ready to assist 
him in his plans, and so on, and after receiving Heyst's 
thanks — you know the usual kind of conversation — he 
proceeded to query in a slow, paternal tone : 

" And you are interested in — ? " 

" Facts," broke in Heyst in his courtly voice. " There's 
nothing worth knowing but facts. Hard facts ! Facts 
alone, Mr. Tesman." 

I don't know if old Tesman agreed with him or not, but 
he must have spoken about it, because, for a time, our 
man got the name of " Hard Facts." He had the singular 
good fortune that his sayings stuck to him and became part 
of his name. Thereafter he mooned about the Java Sea in 
some of the Tesmans' trading schooners, and then vanished, 
on board an Arab ship, in the direction of New Guinea. 
He remained so long in that outlying part of his enchanted 
circle that he was nearly forgotten before he swam into 
view again in a native proa full of Goram vagabonds, 



8 VICTORY 

burnt black by the sun, very lean, his hair much thinned, 
and a portfolio of sketches under his arm. He showed 
these willingly, but was very reserved as to anything else. 
He had had an " amusing time," he said. A man who will 
go to New Guinea for fun — well ! 

Later, years afterward, when the last vestiges of youth 
had gone off his face and all the hair off the top of his 
head, and his red-gold pair of horizontal moustaches had 
grown to really noble proportions, a certain disreputable 
white man fastened upon him an epithet. Putting down 
with a shaking hand a long glass emptied of its contents — 
paid for by Heyst — he said, with that deliberate sagacity 
which no mere water-drinker ever attained : 

" Heyst's a puffect g'n'lman. Puffect ! But he's a 
ut-uto-utopist." 

Heyst had just gone out of the place of public refresh- 
ment where this pronouncement was voiced. Utopist, eh ? 
Upon my word, the only thing I heard him say which 
might have had a bearing on the point was his invitation 
to old McNab himself. Turning with that finished courtesy 
of attitude, movement, voice, which was his obvious char- 
acteristic, he had said with delicate playfulness : 

" Come along and quench your thirst with us, Mr. 
McNab ! " 

Perhaps that was it. A man who could propose, even 
playfully, to quench old McNab's thirst must have been an 
utopist, a pursuer of chimaeras ; for of downright irony Heyst 
was not prodigal. And, may be, this was the reason why 
he was generally liked. At that epoch in his life, in the 
fulness of his physical development, of a broad, martial 
presence, with his bald head and long moustaches, he 
resembled the portraits of Charles XH, of adventurous 
memory. However, there was no reason to think that 
Heyst was in any way a fighting man. 



II 



IT was about this time that Heyst became associ- 
ated with Morrison on terms about which people 
were in doubt. Some said he was a partner, others said 
he was a sort of paying guest, but the real truth of 
the matter was more complex. One day Heyst turned 
up in Timor. Why in Timor, of all places in the world, 
no one knows. Well, he was mooning about Delli, that 
highly pestilential place, possibly in search of some un- 
discovered facts, when he came in the street upon Morrison, 
who, in his way, was also an " enchanted " man. When 
you spoke to Morrison of going home — he was from Dorset- 
shire — he shuddered. He said it was dark and wet there ; 
that it was like living with your head and shoulders in 
a moist gunny-bag. That was only his exaggerated style 
of talking. Morrison was " one of us." He was owner 
and master of the Capricorn, trading brig, and was under- 
stood to be doing well with her, except for the drawback 
of too much altruism. He was the dearly beloved friend 
of a quantity of God-forsaken villages up dark creeks and 
obscure bays, where he traded for " produce." He would 
often sail through awfully dangerous channels up to some 
miserable settlement, only to find a very hungry popula- 
tion clamorous for rice, and without so much " produce " 
between them as would have filled Morrison's suit-case. 
Amid general rejoicings, he would land the rice all the same, 
explain to the people that it was an advance, that they 



10 VICTORY 

were in debt to him now ; would preach to them energy 
and industry, and make an elaborate note in a pocket-diary 
which he always carried ; and this would be the end of 
that transaction. I don't know if Morrison thought so, 
but the villagers had no doubt whatever about it. When- 
ever a coast village sighted the brig it would begin to beat 
all its gongs and hoist all its streamers, and all its girls 
would put flowers in their hair, and the crowd would line 
the river bank, and Morrison would beam and glitter at 
all this excitement through his single eyeglass with an 
air of intense gratification. He was tall and lantern- 
jawed, and clean-shaven, and looked like a barrister 
who had thrown his wig to the dogs. 

We used to remonstrate with him : 

" You will never see any of your advances if you go on 
like this, Morrison. *' 

He would put on a knowing air. 

" I shall squeeze them yet some day — never you fear. 
And that reminds me " — pulling out his inseparable pocket- 
book — " there's that So-and-So village. They are pretty 
well off again ; I may just as well squeeze them to begin 
with." 

He would make a ferocious entry in the pocketbook : 

Memo : — Squeeze the So-and-So village at the first time 
of calling. 

Then he would stick the pencil back and snap the elastic 
on with inflexible finality ; but he never began the squeez- 
ing. Some men grumbled at him. He was spoiling the 
trade. Well, perhaps to a certain extent ; not much. 
Most of the places he traded with were unknown not only 
to geography but also to the traders' special lore which 
is transmitted by word of mouth, without ostentation, 
and forms the stock of mysterious local knowledge. It 
was hinted also that Morrison had a wife in each and 



VICTORY II 

every one of them, but the majority of us repulsed these 
innuendoes with indignation. He was a true humanitarian 
and rather ascetic than otherwise. 

When Heyst met him in Belli, Morrison was walking 
along the street, his eyeglass tossed over his shoulder, his 
head down, with the hopeless aspect of those hardened 
tramps one sees on our roads trudging from workhouse to 
workhouse. Being hailed across the street, he looked up 
with a wild, worried expression. He was really in trouble. 
He had come the week before into Delli, and the Portu- 
guese authorities, on some pretence of irregularity in his 
papers, had inflicted a fine upon him and had arrested 
his brig. 

Morrison never had any spare cash in hand. With 
his system of trading it would have been strange if he 
had ; and all these debts entered in the pocketbook 
weren't good enough to raise a millrei on — let alone a 
shilling. The Portuguese officials begged him not to 
distress himself. They gave him a week's grace, and 
then proposed to sell the brig at auction. This meant 
ruin for Morrison ; and when Heyst hailed him across the 
street in his usual courtly tone, the week was nearly 
out. 

Heyst crossed over, and said with a slight bow, and in 
the manner of a prince addressing another prince on a 
private occasion : 

" What an unexpected pleasure. Would you have any 
objection to drink something with me in that infamous 
wine-shop over there ? The sun is really too strong to 
talk in the street." 

The haggard Morrison followed obediently into a sombre, 
cool hovel which he would have disdained to enter at any 
other time. He was distracted. He did not know what 
he was doing. You could have led him over the edge of a 



12 VICTORY 

precipice just as easily as into that wine-shop. He sat 
down like an automaton. He was speechless, but he saw 
a glass full of rough red wine before him, and emptied it. 
Heyst meantime, politely watchful, had taken a seat 
opposite. 

" You are in for a bout of fever, I fear," he said sym- 
pathetically. 

Poor Morrison's tongue was loosened at last. 

" Fever ! " he cried. " Give me fever. Give me 
plague. They are diseases. One gets over them. But I 
am being murdered. I am being murdered by the Portu- 
guese. The gang here downed me at last among them. 
I am to have my throat cut the day after to-morrow." 

In the face of this passion Heyst made, with his eye- 
brows, a slight motion of surprise which would not have 
been misplaced in a drawing-room. Morrison's despairing 
reserve had broken down. He had been wandering with 
a dry throat all over that miserable town of mud hovels, 
silent, with no soul to turn to in his distress, and positively 
maddened by his thoughts ; and suddenly he had stumbled 
on a white man, figuratively and actually white — for 
Morrison refused to accept the racial whiteness of the 
Portuguese officials. He let himself go for the mere relief 
of violent speech, his elbows planted on the table, his eyes 
bloodshot, his voice nearly gone, the brim of his round 
pith hat shading an unshaven, livid face. His white 
clothes, which he had not taken off for three days, were 
dingy. He looked already gone to the bad, past re- 
demption. The sight was shocking to Heyst ; but he 
let nothing of it appear in his bearing, concealing his im- 
pression under that consummate good-society manner of 
his. Polite attention, what's due from one gentleman 
listening to another, was what he showed ; and, as usual, 
it was catching ; so that Morrison pulled himself together 



VICTORY 13 

and finished his narrative in a conversational tone, with a 
man-of-the-world air. 

" It's a villainous plot. Unluckily, one is helpless. 
That scoundrel Cousinho — Andreas, you know — has been 
coveting the brig for years. Naturally, I would never 
sell. She is not only my livelihood ; she's my life. So 
he has hatched this pretty little plot with the chief of the 
customs. The sale, of course, will be a farce. There's 
no one here to bid. He will get the brig for a song — no, 
not even that — a line of a song. You have been some 
years now in the islands, Heyst. You know us all ; you 
have seen how we live. Now you shall have the oppor- 
tunity to see how some of us end ; for it is the end, for me. 
I can't deceive myself any longer. You see it, — don't 
you ? " 

Morrison had pulled himself together, but one felt the 
snapping strain on his recovered self-possession. Heyst 
was beginning to say that he " could very well see all the 
bearings of this unfortunate — " when Morrison interrupted 
him jerkily. 

" Upon my word, I don't know why I have been tell- 
ing you all this. I suppose seeing a thoroughly white 
man like you made it impossible to keep my trouble to 
myself. Words can't do it justice ; but since I've told 
you so much I may as well tell you more. Listen. This 
morning on board, in my cabin, I went down on my knees 
and prayed for help. I went down on my knees ! " 

" You are a believer, Morrison ? " asked Heyst with a 
distinct note of respect. 

" Surely I am not an infidel." 

Morrison was swiftly reproachful in his answer, and 
there came a pause, Morrison perhaps interrogating his 
conscience, and Heyst preserving a mien of unperturbed, 
polite interest. 



14 VICTORY 

" I prayed like a child, of course. I believe in children 
praying — well, women, too, but I rather think God expects 
men to be more self-reliant. I don't hold with a man 
everlastingly bothering the Almighty with his silly troubles. 
It seems such cheek. Anyhow, this morning I — I have 
never done any harm to any God's creature knowingly — 
I prayed. A sudden impulse — I went flop on my knees ; 
so you may judge — " 

They were gazing earnestly into each other's eyes. 
Poor Morrison added, as a discouraging afterthought : 

" Only this is such a God-forsaken spot." 

Heyst inquired with a delicate intonation whether 
he might know the amount for which the brig was 
seized. 

Morrison suppressed an oath, and named curtly a sum 
which was in itself so insignificant that any other person 
than Heyst would have exclaimed at it. And even Heyst 
could hardly keep incredulity out of his politely modu- 
lated voice as he asked if it was a fact that Morrison had 
not that amount in hand. 

Morrison hadn't. He had only a little English gold, 
a few sovereigns, on board. He had left all his spare cash 
with the Tesmans, in Samarang, to meet certain bills which 
would fall due while he was away on his cruise. Anyhow, 
that money would not have been any more good to him 
than if it had been in the innermost depths of the infernal 
regions. He said all this brusquely. He looked with 
sudden disfavour at that noble forehead, at those great 
martial moustaches, at the tired eyes of the man sitting 
opposite him. Who the devil was he ? What was he, 
Morrison, doing there, talking like this ? Morrison knew 
no more of Heyst than the rest of us trading in the Archi- 
pelago did. Had the Swede suddenly risen and hit him 
on the nose, he could not have been taken more aback 



VICTORY 15 

than when this stranger, this nondescript wanderer, said 
with a little bow across the table : 

" Oh ! If that's the case I would be very happy if 
you'd allow me to be of use ! " 

Morrison didn't understand. This was one of those 
things that don't happen — unheard of things. He had 
no real inkling of what it meant, till Heyst said definitely : 

" I can lend you the amount." 

" You have the money ? " whispered Morrison. ** Do 
you mean here, in your pocket ? " 

" Yes, on me. Glad to be of use." 

Morrison, staring open-mouthed, groped over his 
shoulder for the cord of the eyeglass hanging down his 
back. When he found it, he stuck it in his eye hastily. 
It was as if he expected Heyst's usual white suit of the 
tropics to change into a shining garment flowing down to 
his toes, and a pair of great dazzling wings to sprout on 
the Swede's shoulders — and didn't want to miss a single 
detail of the transformation. But if Heyst was an angel 
from on high, sent in answer to prayer, he did not betray 
his heavenly origin by outward signs. So, instead of 
going on his knees, as he felt inclined to do, Morrison 
stretched out his hand, which Heyst grasped with formal 
alacrity and a polite murmur in which " Trifle — delighted 
— of service," could be just distinguished. 

" Miracles do happen," thought the awestruck Morrison. 
To him, as to all of us in the islands, this wandering Heyst, 
who didn't toil or spin visibly, seemed the very last person 
to be the agent of Providence in an affair concerned with 
money. The fact of his turning up in Timor or anywhere 
else was no more wonderful than the settling of a sparrow 
on one's window-sill at any given moment. But that he 
should carry a sum of money in his pocket seemed some- 
how?inconceivable. 



i6 VICTORY 

So inconceivable that as they were trudging together 
through the sand of the roadway to the custom-house — 
another mud hovel — to pay the fine, Morrison broke into 
a cold sweat, stopped short, and exclaimed in faltering 
accents : 

" I say ! You aren't joking, Heyst ? " 

" Joking ! " Heyst's blue eyes went hard as he turned 
them on the discomposed Morrison. " In what way, may 
I ask ? " he continued with austere politeness. 

Morrison was abashed. 

"Forgive me, Heyst. You must have been sent by 
God in answer to my prayer. But I have been nearly off 
my chump for three days with worry ; and it suddenly 
struck me : ' What if it's the Devil who has sent him ? ' " 

" I have no connection with the supernatural," said 
Heyst graciously, moving on. " Nobody has sent me. I 
just happened along." 

" I know better," contradicted Morrison. " I may be 
unworthy, but I have been heard. I know it. I feel it. 
For why should you offer — " 

Heyst inclined his head, as from respect for a conviction 
in which he could not share. But he stuck to his point 
by muttering that in the presence of an odious fact like 
this, it was natural — 

Later in the day, the fine paid, and the two of them 
on board the brig, from which the guard had been re- 
moved, Morrison — who, besides being a gentleman, was 
also an honest fellow — began to talk about repayment. 
He knew very well his inability to lay by any sum of 
money. It was partly the fault of circumstances and 
partly of his temperament ; and it would have been very 
difficult to apportion the responsibility between the two. 
Even Morrison himself could not say, while confessing to 
the fact. With a worried air he ascribed it to fatality. 



VICTORY 17 

" I don't know how it is that I've never been able to 
save. It's some sort of curse. There's always a bill or 
two to meet." 

He plunged his hand into his pocket for the famous 
notebook so well known in the islands, the fetish of his 
hopes, and fluttered the pages feverishly. 

" And yet — look," he went on. " There it is — more 
than five thousand dollars owing. Surely that's some- 
thing." 

He ceased suddenly. Heyst, who had been all the time 
trying to look as unconcerned as he could, made reassuring 
noises in his throat. But Morrison was not only honest. 
He was honourable, too ; and on this stressful day, before 
this amazing emissary of Providence and in the revulsion 
of his feelings, he made his great renunciation. He cast 
off the abiding illusion of his existence. 

" No. No. They are no good. I'll never be able to 
squeeze them. Never. I've been saying for years I 
would ; but I give it up. I never really believed I could. 
Don't reckon on that, Heyst. I have robbed you." 

Poor Morrison actually laid his head on the cabin table, 
and remained in that crushed attitude while Heyst talked 
to him soothingly with the utmost courtesy. The Swede 
was as much distressed as Morrison ; for he understood 
the other's feelings perfectly. No decent feeling was ever 
scorned by Heyst. But he was incapable of outward 
cordiality of manner, and he felt acutely his defect. Con- 
summate politeness is not the right tonic for an emotional 
collapse. They must have had, both of them, a fairly 
painful time of it in the cabin of the brig. In the end 
Morrison, casting desperately for an idea in the blackness 
of his despondency, hit upon the notion of inviting Heyst 
to travel with him in his brig and have a share in his 

trading ventures up to the amount of his loan. 

2 



i8 VICTORY 

It is characteristic of Heyst's unattached, floating 
existence that he was in a position to accept this proposal. 
There is no reason to think that he wanted particularly 
just then to go poking aboard the brig into all the holes 
and corners of the Archipelago where Morrison picked 
up most of his trade. Far from it ; but he would have 
consented to almost any arrangement in order to put an 
end to the harrowing scene in the cabin. There was at 
once a great transformation act : Morrison raising his 
diminished head and sticking the glass in his eye to look 
affectionately at Heyst, a bottle being uncorked, and so 
on. It was agreed that nothing should be said to any 
one of this transaction. Morrison, you understand, was 
not proud of the episode, and he was afraid of being 
unmercifully chaffed. 

" An old bird like me ! To let myself be trapped by 
those damned Portuguese rascals ! I should never hear 
the last of it. We must keep it dark." 

From quite other motives, among which his native 
delicacy was the principal, Heyst was even more anxious 
to bind himself to silence. A gentleman would naturally 
shrink from the part of heavenly messenger that Morrison 
would force upon him. It made Heyst uncomfortable, as 
it was. And perhaps he did not care that it should be 
known that he had some means, whatever they might 
have been — sufficient, at any rate, to enable him to lend 
money to people. These two had a duet down there, like 
conspirators in a comic opera, of " Sh — ssh, shssh ! 
Secrecy ! Secrecy ! " It must have been funny, because 
they were very serious about it. 

And for a time the conspiracy was successful in so far 
that we all concluded that Heyst was boarding with the 
good-natured — some said : sponging on the imbecile — 
Morrison, in his brig. But you know how it is with 



VICTORY 19 

all such mysteries. There is always a leak somewhere. 
Morrison himself, not a perfect vessel by any means, was 
bursting with gratitude, and under the stress he must 
have let out something vague — enough to give the island 
gossip a chance. And you know how kindly the world 
is in its comments on what it does not understand. A 
rumour sprang out that Heyst, having obtained some 
mysterious hold on Morrison, had fastened himself on him 
and was sucking him dry. Those who had traced these 
mutters back to their origin were very careful not to 
believe them. The originator, it seems, was a certain 
Schomberg, a big, manly, bearded creature of the Teutonic 
persuasion, with an ungovernable tongue which surely 
must have worked on a pivot. Whether he was a 
Lieutenant of the Reserve, as he declared, I don't know. 
Out there he was by profession a hotel-keeper, first in 
Bangkok, then somewhere else, and ultimately in Soura- 
baya. He dragged after him up and down that section 
of the tropical belt a silent, frightened little woman with 
long ringlets, who smiled at one stupidly, showing a blue 
tooth. I don't know why so many of us patronised his 
various establishments. He was a noxious ass, and he 
satisfied his lust for silly gossip at the cost of his customers. 
It was he who, one evening, as Morrison and Heyst went 
past the hotel — they were not his regular patrons — 
whispered mysteriously to the mixed company assembled 
on the veranda : 

" The spider and the fly just gone by, gentlemen." 
Then, very important and confidential, his thick paw at 
the side of his mouth : " We are among ourselves ; well, 
gentlemen, all I can say is, don't you ever get mixed up 
with that Swede. Don't you ever get caught in his web." 



Ill 



HUMAN nature being what it is, having a silly 
side to it as well as a mean side, there were not 
a few who pretended to be indignant on no better 
authority than a general propensity to believe every evil 
report ; and a good many others who found it simply 
funny to call Heyst the Spider — behind his back, of course. 
He was as serenely unconscious of this as of his several 
other nicknames. But soon people found other things to 
say of Heyst ; not long afterward he came very much 
to the fore in larger affairs. He blossomed out into some- 
thing definite. He filled the public eye as the manager 
on the spot of the Tropical Belt Coal Company, with 
offices in London and Amsterdam, and other things about 
it that sounded and looked grandiose. The offices in the 
two capitals may have consisted — and probably did — of one 
room in each ; but at that distance, out East there, all 
this had an air. We were more puzzled than dazzled, it 
is true ; but even the most sober-minded among us began 
to think that there was something in it. The Tesmans 
appointed agents, a contract for government mail-boats 
secured, the era of steam beginning for the islands — a great 
stride forward — Heyst 's stride ! 

And all this sprang from the meeting of the cornered 
Morrison and of the wandering Heyst, which may or may 
not have been the direct outcome of a prayer. Morrison 
was not an imbecile, but he seemed to have got himself 

ao 



VICTORY 21 

into a state of remarkable haziness as to his exact position 
towards Heyst. For, if Heyst had been sent with money 
in his pocket by a direct decree of the Almighty in answer 
to Morrison's prayer then there was no reason for special 
gratitude, since obviously he could not help himself. But 
Morrison believed both in the efficacy of prayer and in the 
infinite goodness of Heyst. He thanked God with awed 
sincerity for His mercy, and could not thank Heyst enough 
for the service rendered as between man and man. In 
this (highly creditable) tangle of strong feelings Morrison's 
gratitude insisted on Heyst's partnership in the great 
discovery. Ultimately we heard that Morrison had gone 
home through the Suez Canal in order to push the magnifi- 
cent coal idea personally in London. He parted from his 
brig and disappeared from our ken ; but we heard that he 
had written a letter or letters to Heyst, saying that London 
was cold and gloomy ; that he did not like either the men 
or things, that he was " as lonely as a crow in a strange 
country." In truth, he pined after the Capricorn — I 
don't mean only the tropic ; I mean the ship too. Finally 
he went into Dorsetshire to see his people, caught a 
bad cold, and died with extraordinary precipitation in the 
bosom of his appalled family. Whether his exertions in 
the City of London had enfeebled his vitality I don't know ; 
but I believe it was this visit which put life into the coal 
idea. Be it as it may, the Tropical Belt Coal Company 
was born very shortly after Morrison, the victim of grati- 
tude and his native climate, had gone to join his fore- 
fathers in a Dorsetshire churchyard. 

Heyst was immensely shocked. He got the news in 
the Moluccas through the Tesmans, and then disappeared 
for a time. It appears that he stayed with a Dutch 
government doctor in Amboyna, a friend of his who looked 
after him for a bit in his bungalow. He became visible 



22 VICTORY 

again rather suddenly, his eyes sunk in his head, and with 
a sort of guarded attitude, as if afraid some one would 
reproach him with the death of Morrison. 

Naive Heyst ! As if anybody would. . . . Nobody 
amongst us had any interest in men who went home- 
They were all right ; they did not count any more. Going 
to Europe was nearly as final as going to Heaven. It 
removed a man from the world of hazard and adventure. 

As a matter of fact, many of us did not hear of this 
death till months afterward — from Schomberg, who dis- 
liked Heyst gratuitously and made up a piece of sinister 
whispered gossip : 

" That's what comes of having anything to do with that 
fellow. He squeezes you dry like a lemon, then chucks 
you out — sends you home to die. Take warning by 
Morrison." 

Of course, we laughed at the innkeeper's suggestions of 
black mystery. Several of us heard that Heyst was pre- 
pared to go to Europe himself, to push on his coal enter- 
prise personally ; but he never went. It wasn't necessary. 
The company was formed without him, and his nomination 
of manager in the tropics came out to him by post. 

From the first he had selected Samburan, or Round 
Island, for the central station. Some copies of the pros- 
pectus issued in Europe, having found their way out 
East, were passed from hand to hand. We greatly ad- 
mired the map which accompanied them for the edification 
of the shareholders. On it Samburan was represented as 
the central spot of the Eastern Hemisphere, with its name 
engraved in enormous capitals. Heavy lines radiated 
from it in all directions through the tropics, figuring a 
mysterious and effective star — lines of influence or lines 
of distance, or something of that sort. Company promoters 
have an imagination of their own. There's no more 



VICTORY 23 

romantic temperament on earth than the temperament of 
a company promoter. Engineers came out, coolies were 
imported, bungalows were put up on Samburan, a gallery 
driven into the hillside, and actually some coal got out. 

These manifestations shook the soberest minds. For 
a time everybody in the islands was talking of the Tropical 
Belt Coal, and even those who smiled quietly to themselves 
were only hiding their uneasiness. Oh, yes ; it had come, 
and anybody could see what would be the consequences — 
the end of the individual trader, smothered under a great 
invasion of steamers. We could not afford to buy steamers. 
Not we. And Heyst was the manager. 

" You know, Heyst, enchanted Heyst." 

" Oh come ! He has been no better than a loafer 
around here as far back as any of us can remember." 

" Yes, said he was looking for facts. Well, he's got hold 
of one that will do for all of us," commented a bitter voice. 

" That's what they call development — and be hanged 
to it ! " muttered another. 

Never was Heyst talked about so much in the tropical 
belt before. 

" Isn't he a Swedish baron or something ? " 

" He, a baron ? Get along with you ! " 

For my part I haven't the slightest doubt that he was. 
While he was still drifting amongst the islands, enigmatical 
and disregarded like an insignificant ghost, he told me so 
himself on a certain occasion. It was a long time before 
he materialised in this alarming way into the destroyer 
of our little industry — Heyst the Enemy. 

It became the fashion with a good many to speak of 
Heyst as the Enemy. He was very concrete, very visible 
now. He was rushing all over the Archipelago, jumping 
in and out of local mail-packets as if they had been tram- 
cars, here, there, and everywhere — organising with all 



24 VICTORY 

his might. This was no mooning about. This was 
business. And this sudden display of purposeful energy 
shook the incredulity of the most sceptical more than any 
scientific demonstration of the value of these coal-outcrops 
could have done. It was impressive. Schomberg was 
the only one who resisted the infection. Big, manly in a 
portly style, and profusely bearded, with a glass of beer 
in his thick paw, he would approach some table where the 
topic of the hour was being discussed, would listen for a 
moment, and then come out with his invariable declara- 
tion : 

" All this is very well, gentlemen ; but he can't throw 
any of his coal-dust in my eyes. There's nothing in it. 
Why, there can't be anything in it. A fellow like that for 
manager ? Phoo ! " 

Was it the clairvoyance of imbecile hatred, or mere 
stupid tenacity of opinion, which ends sometimes by 
scoring against the world in a most astonishing manner ? 
Most of us can remember instances of triumphant folly ; 
and that ass Schomberg triumphed. The T. B. C. Co. 
went into liquidation, as I began by telling you. The 
Tesmans washed their hands of it. The Government 
cancelled those famous contracts. The talk died out, 
and presently it was remarked here and there that Heyst 
had faded completely away. He had become invisible, 
as in those early days when he used to make a bolt clear 
out of sight in his attempts to break away from the en- 
chantment of " these isles," either in the direction of 
New Guinea or in the direction of Saigon — to cannibals or 
to caf^s. The enchanted Heyst ! Had he at last broken 
the spell ? Had he died ? We were too indifferent 
to wonder over-much. You see we had on the whole 
liked him well enough. And liking is not sufficient to 
keep going the interest one takes in a human being. With 



VICTORY 25 

hatred, apparently, it is otherwise. Schomberg couldn't 
forget Heyst. The keen, manly Teutonic creature was a 
good hater. A fool often is. 

" Good evening, gentlemen. Have you got everything 
you want ? So ! Good ! You see ? What was I always 
telling you ? Aha ! There was nothing in it. I knew it. 
But what I would like to know is what became of that — 
Swede." 

He put a stress on the word Swede as if it meant scoundrel. 
He detested Scandinavians generally. Why ? Goodness 
only knows. A fool like that is unfathomable. He con- 
tinued : 

" It's five months or more since I have spoken to any- 
body who has seen him." 

As I have said, we were not much interested ; but 
Schomberg, of course, could not understand that. He 
was grotesquely dense. Whenever three people came to- 
gether in his hotel, he took good care that Heyst should 
be with them. 

** I hope the fellow did not go and drown himself," 
he would add with a comical earnestness that ought to 
have made us shudder ; only our crowd was superficial, 
and did not apprehend the psychology of this pious 
hope. 

" Why ? Heyst isn't in debt to you for drinks, is 
he ? " somebody asked him once with shallow scorn. 

"Drinks! Oh dear no ! " 

The innkeeper was not mercenary. Teutonic tempera- 
ment seldom is. But he put on a sinister expression to 
tell us that Heyst had not paid perhaps three visits alto- 
gether to his " establishment." This was Heyst's crime, 
for which Schomberg wished him nothing less than a long 
and tormented existence. Observe the Teutonic sense of 
proportion and nice forgiving temper. 



26 VICTORY 

At last, one afternoon, Schomberg was seen approaching 
a group of his customers. He was obviously in high glee. 
He squared his manly chest with great importance. 

" Gentlemen, I have news of him. Who ? Why, 
that Swede. He is still on Samburan. He's never been 
away from it. The company is gone, the engineers are 
gone, the clerks are gone, the coolies are gone, everything's 
gone ; but there he sticks. Captain Davidson, coming 
by from the westward, saw him with his own eyes. Some- 
thing white on the wharf ; so he steamed in and went 
ashore in a small boat. Heyst, right enough. Put a book 
into his pocket, always very polite. Been strolling on the 
wharf and reading. * I remain in possession here,' he 
told Captain Davidson. What I want to know is what 
he gets to eat there. A piece of dried fish now and then — 
what ? That's coming down pretty low for a man who 
turned up his nose at my table-d'hote ! " 

He winked with immense malice. A bell started 
ringing, and he led the way to the dining-room as if into 
a temple, very grave, with the air of a benefactor of man- 
kind. His ambition was to feed it at a profitable price, 
and his delight was to talk of it behind its back. It was 
very characteristic of him to gloat over the idea of Heyst 
having nothing decent to eat. 



IV 



A FEW of us who were sufficiently interested went 
to Davidson for details. These were not many. 
He told us that he passed to the north of Samburan 
on purpose to see what was going on. At first, it looked 
as if that side of the island had been altogether aban- 
doned. This was what he expected. Presently, above 
the dense mass of vegetation that Samburan presents 
to view, he saw the head of the flagstaff without a flag. 
Then, while steaming across the slight indentation which 
for a time was known officially as Black Diamond 
Bay, he made out with his glass the white figure on 
the coaling-wharf. It could be no one but Heyst. 

" I thought for certain he wanted to be taken off, so 
I steamed in. He made no signs. However, I lowered 
a boat. I could not see another living being anywhere. 
Yes. He had a book in his hand. He looked exactly as 
we have always seen him — very neat, white shoes, cork 
helmet. He explained to me that he had always had a 
taste for solitude. It was the first I ever heard of it, I 
told him. He only smiled. What could I say ? He 
isn't the sort of man one can speak familiarly to. There's 
something in him. One doesn't care to. 

" * But what's the object ? Are you thinking of keeping 
possession of the mine ? ' I asked him. 

" ' Something of the sort,* he says. * I am keeping 

hold.' 

37 



28 VICTORY 



(( ( 



But all this is as dead as Julius Caesar,' I cried. ' In 
fact, you have nothing worth holding on to, Heyst.' 

" ' Oh, I am done with facts,' says he, putting his hand 
to his helmet sharply with one of his short bows." 

Thus dismissed, Davidson went on board his ship, 
swung her out, and as he was steaming away he watched 
from the bridge Heyst walking shoreward along the wharf. 
He marched into the long grass and vanished — all but the 
top of his white cork helmet, which seemed to swim in a 
green sea. Then that too disappeared, as if it had sunk 
into the living depths of the tropical vegetation, which is 
more jealous of men's conquests than the ocean, and which 
was about to close over the last vestiges of the liquidated 
Tropical Belt Coal Company — A. Heyst, manager in the 
East. 

Davidson, a good, simple fellow in his way, was strangely 
affected. It is to be noted that he knew very little of Heyst. 
He was one of those whom Heyst's finished courtesy of 
attitude and intonation most strongly disconcerted. He 
himself was a fellow of fine feeling, I think, though of 
course he had no more polish than the rest of us. We were 
naturally a hail-fellow-well-met crowd, with standards of 
our own — no worse, I daresay, than other people's ; but 
polish was not one of them. Davidson's fineness was real 
enough to alter the course of the steamer he commanded. 
Instead of passing to the south of Samburan, he made it his 
practice to take the passage along the north shore, within 
about a mile of the wharf. 

" He can see us if he likes to see us," remarked Davidson. 
Then he had an after-thought : "I say ! I hope he won't 
think I am intruding, eh ? " 

We reassured him on the point of correct behaviour. The 
sea is open to all. 

This slight deviation added some ten miles to Davidson's 



VICTORY 29 

round trip, but as that was sixteen hundred miles it did 
not matter much. 

" I have told my owner of it," said the conscientious 
commander of the Sissie. 

His owner had a face like an ancient lemon. He was 
small and wizened — which was strange, because generally a 
Chinaman, as he grows in prosperity, puts on inches of girth 
and stature. To serve a Chinese firm is not so bad. Once 
they become convinced you deal straight by them, their 
confidence becomes unlimited. You can do no wrong. So 
Davidson's old Chinaman squeaked hurriedly : 

" All right, all right, all right. You do what you like, 
captain." 

And there was an end of the matter ; not altogether, 
though. From time to time the Chinaman used to ask 
Davidson about the white man. He was still there, eh ? 

" I never see him," Davidson had to confess to his 
owner, who would peer at him silently through round, horn- 
rimmed spectacles, several sizes too large for his little old 
face. " I never see him." 

To me, on occasions, he would say : 

" I haven't a doubt he's there. He hides. It's very 
unpleasant." Davidson was a little vexed with Heyst. 
" Funny thing," he went on. " Of all the people I speak 
to, nobody ever asks after him but that Chinaman of mine — 
and Schomberg," he added after a while. 

Yes, Schomberg, of course. He was asking everybody 
about everything, and arranging the information into the 
most scandalous shape his imagination could invent. From 
time to time he would step up, his blinking, cushioned 
eyes, his thick lips, his very chestnut beard, looking full of 
malice. 

" 'Evening, gentlemen. Have you got all you want ? 
So ! Good ! Well, I am told the jungle has choked the 



30 VICTORY 

very sheds in Black Diamond Bay. Fact. He's a hermit in 
the wilderness now. But what can this manager get to eat 
there ? It beats me." 

Sometimes a stranger would inquire with natural 
curiosity : 

" Who ? What manager ? " 

" Oh, a certain Swede/' — with a sinister emphasis, as if 
he were saying " a certain brigand." — " Well known here. 
He's turned hermit from shame. That's what the devil 
does when he's found out." 

Hermit. This was the latest of the more or less witty 
labels applied to Heyst during his aimless pilgrimage in 
this section of the tropical belt, where the inane clacking of 
Schomberg's tongue vexed our ears. 

But apparently Heyst was not a hermit by tempera- 
ment. The sight of his kind was not invincibly odious to 
him. We must believe this, since for some reason or 
other he did come out from his retreat for a while. Perhaps 
it was only to see whether there were any letters for him at 
the Tesmans. I don't know. No one knows. But this 
reappearance shows that his detachment from the world 
was not complete. And incompleteness of any sort leads 
to trouble. Axel Heyst ought not to have cared for his 
letters — or whatever it was that brought him out after 
something more than a year and a half in Samburan. But 
it was of no use. He had not the hermit's vocation ! 
That was the trouble, it seems. 

Be this as it may, he suddenly reappeared in the world, 
broad chest, bald forehead, long moustaches, polite 
manner, and all — the complete Heyst, even to the kindly, 
sunken eyes on which there still rested the shadow of 
Morrison's death. Naturally, it was Davidson who had 
given him a lift out of his forsaken island. There were no 
other opportunities, unless some native craft were passing by 



VICTORY 31 

— a very remote and unsatisfactory chance to wait for. 
Yes, he came out with Davidson, to whom he volunteered 
the statement that it was only for a short time — a few days, 
no more. He meant to go back to Samburan. 

Davidson expressing his horror and incredulity of such 
foolishness, Heyst explained that when the company came 
into being he had his few belongings sent out from Europe. 

To Davidson, as to any of us, the idea of Heyst, the 
wandering, drifting, unattached Heyst, having any be- 
longings of the sort that can furnish a house was startling] y 
novel. It was grotesquely fantastic. It was like a bird 
owning real property. 

" Belongings ? Do you mean chairs and tables ? " 
Davidson asked with unconcealed astonishment. 

Heyst did mean that. " My poor father died in London. 
It has been all stored there ever since," he explained. 

" For all these years ? " exclaimed Davidson, thinking 
how long we all had known Heyst flitting from tree to tree 
in a wilderness. 

" Even longer," said Heyst, who had understood very 
well. 

This seemed to imply that he had been wandering before 
he came under our observation. In what regions ? At 
what early age ? Mystery. Perhaps he was a bird that 
had never had a nest. 

" I left school early," he remarked once to Davidson, 
on the passage. " It was in England. A very good 
school. I was not a shining success there." 

The confessions of Heyst. Not one of us — with the 
probable exception of Morrison, who was dead — had ever 
heard so much of his history. It looks as if the experience 
of hermit Hfe had the power to loosen one's tongue, doesn't 
it? 

During that memorable passage, in the Sissie, which 



32 VICTORY 

took about two days, he volunteered other hints — for you 
could not call it information — about his history. And 
Davidson was interested. He was interested not because 
the hints were exciting but because of that innate curiosity 
about our fellows which is a trait of human nature. 
Davidson's existence too, running the Sissie along the Java 
Sea and back again, was distinctly monotonous and, in a 
sense, lonely. He never had any sort of company on 
board. Native deck-passengers in plenty, of course, but 
never a white man, so the presence of Heyst for two days 
must have been a godsend. Davidson was telling us all 
about it afterward. Heyst said that his father had written 
a lot of books. He was a philosopher. 

" Seems to me he must have been something of a crank, 
too," was Davidson's comment. " Apparently he had 
quarrelled with his people in Sweden. Just the sort of 
father you would expect Heyst to have. Isn't he a bit 
of a crank himself ? He told me that directly his father 
died he lit out into the wide world on his own, and had 
been on the move till he fetched up against this famous 
coal business. Fits the son of his father somehow, don't 
you think ? 

For the rest, Heyst was as polite as ever. He offered 
to pay for his passage ; but when Davidson refused to 
hear of it he seized him heartily by the hand, gave one 
of his courtly bows, and declared that he was touched by 
his friendly proceedings. 

" I am not alluding to this trifling amount which you 
decline to take," he went on, giving a shake to Davidson's 
hand. " But I am touched by your humanity." Another 
shake. " Believe me, I am profoundly aware of having 
been an object of it," Final shake of the hand. All this 
meant that Heyst understood in a proper sense the little 
Sissie' s periodical appearance in sight of his hermitage. 



VICTORY 



33 



" He's a genuine gentleman," Davidson said to us. " I 
was really sorry when he went ashore." 

We asked him where he had left Heyst. 

" Why, in Sourabaya — where else ? " 

The Tesmans had their principal counting-house in 
Sourabaya. There had long existed a connection between 
Heyst and the Tesmans. The incongruity of a hermit 
having agents did not strike us, nor yet the absurdity of 
a forgotten cast-off, derelict manager of a wrecked, col- 
lapsed, vanished enterprise, having business to attend to. 
We said Sourabaya, of course, and took it for granted 
that he would stay with one of the Tesmans. One of us 
even wondered what sort of reception he would get ; for 
it was known that Julius Tesman was unreasonably bitter 
about the Tropical Belt Coal fiasco. But Davidson set 
us right. It was nothing of the kind. Heyst went to 
stay in Schomberg's hotel, going ashore in the hotel 
launch. Not that Schomberg would think of sending his 
launch alongside a mere trader like the Sissie. But she 
had been meeting a coasting mail-packet, and had been 
signalled to. Schomberg himself was steering her. 

" You should have seen Schomberg's eyes bulge out 
when Heyst jumped in with an ancient brown leather 
bag ! " said Davidson. " He pretended not to know who 
it was — at first, anjrway. I didn't go ashore with them. 
We didn't stay more than a couple of hours altogether. 
Landed two thousand cocoanuts and cleared out. I have 
agreed to pick him up again on my next trip in twenty 
days' time," 



DAVIDSON happened to be two days late on 
his return trip ; no great matter, certainly, but 
he made a point of going ashore at once, during 
the hottest hour of the afternoon, to look for Heyst. 
Schomberg's hotel stood back in an extensive enclosure 
containing a garden, some large trees, and, under their 
spreading boughs, a detached " hall available for concerts 
and other performances," as Schomberg worded it in his 
advertisements. Torn and fluttering bills, intimating in 
heavy red capitals ** Concerts every night," were stuck 
on the brick pillars on each side of the gateway. 

The walk had been long and confoundedly sunny. 
Davidson stood wiping his wet neck and face on what 
Schomberg called " the piazza." Several doors opened 
on to it, but all the screens were down. Not a soul was 
in sight, not even a China boy — nothing but a lot of 
painted iron chairs and tables. Solitude, shade, and 
gloomy silence — and a faint, treacherous breeze which 
came from under the trees and quite unexpectedly caused 
the melting Davidson to shiver slightly — the little shiver 
of the tropics which in Sourabaya, especially, often means 
fever and the hospital to the incautious white man. 

The prudent Davidson sought shelter in the nearest 
darkened room. In the artificial dusk, beyond the levels 
of shrouded billiard-tables, a white form heaved up from 
two chairs on which it had been extended. The middle 

34 



VICTORY 35 

of the day, table d'hdte tiffin once over, was Schomberg's 
easy time. He lounged out, portly, deliberate, on the 
defensive, the great fair beard like a cuirass over his 
manly chest. He did not like Davidson, never a very 
faithful client of his. He hit a bell on one of the tables 
as he went by, and asked in a distant, Officer-of-the-Reserve 
manner : 

" You desire ? " 

The good Davidson, still sponging his wet neck, declared 
with simplicity that he had come to fetch away Heyst, 
as agreed. 

" Not here ! " 

A Chinaman appeared in response to the bell. Schom- 
berg turned to him very severely : 

" Take the gentleman's order." 

Davidson had to be going. Couldn't wait — only begged 
that Heyst should be informed that the Sissie would leave 
at midnight. 

" Not — here, I am telling you ! " 

Davidson slapped his thigh in concern. 

" Dear me ! Hospital, I suppose." A natural enough 
surmise in a very feverish locality. 

The Lieutenant of the Reserve only pursed up his 
mouth and raised his eyebrows without looking at him. 
It might have meant anything, but Davidson dismissed 
the hospital idea with confidence. However, he had to 
get hold of Heyst between this and midnight. 

" He has been staying here ? " he asked. 

** Yes, he was staying here." 

" Can you tell me where he is now ? " Davidson went 
on placidly. Within himself he was beginning to grow 
anxious, having developed the affection of a self-appointed 
protector toward Heyst. The answer he got was : 

" Can't tell. It's none of my business," accompanied 



36 VICTORY 

by majestic oscillations of the hotel-keeper's head, hinting 
at some awful mystery. 

Davidson was placidity itself. It was his nature. He 
did not betray his sentiments, which were not favourable 
to Schomberg. 

" I am sure to find out at the Tesmans' office/' he 
thought. But it was a very hot hour, and if Heyst was 
down at the port he would have learned already that the 
Sissie was in. It was even possible that Heyst had already 
gone on board, where he could enjoy a coolness denied to 
the town. Davidson, being stout, was much preoccupied 
with coolness and inclined to immobility. He lingered 
awhile, as if irresolute. Schomberg, at the door, looking 
out, affected perfect indifference. He could not keep 
it up, though. Suddenly he turned inward and asked with 
brusque rage : 

** You wanted to see him ? " 

" Why, yes," said Davidson. " We agreed to meet — " 

" Don't you bother. He doesn't care about that 



now." 



" Doesn't he ? " 

" W^ell, you can judge for yourself. He isn't here, is 
he ? You take my word for it. Don't you bother about 
him. I am advising you as a friend." 

" Thank you," said Davidson, inwardly startled at the 
savage tone. " I think I will sit down for a moment and 
have a drink, after all." 

This was not what Schomberg had expected to hear. 
He called brutally : 

" Boy ! " 

The Chinaman approached, and after referring him 
to the white man by a nod the hotel-keeper departed, 
muttering to himself. Davidson heard him gnash his 
teeth as he went. 



VICTORY 37 

Davidson sat alone with the billiard-tables as if there 
had been not a soul staying in the hotel. His placidity 
was so genuine that he was not unduly fretting himself 
over the absence of Heyst or the mysterious manners 
Schomberg had treated him to. He was considering these 
things in his own fairly shrewd way. Something had 
happened ; and he was loath to go away to investigate, 
being restrained by a presentiment that somehow enlight- 
enment would come to him there. A poster of " Concerts 
Every Evening," like those on the gate, but in a good 
state of preservation, hung on the wall fronting him. He 
looked at it idly and was struck by the fact — then not so 
very common — that it was a ladies' orchestra ; " Zangia- 
como's eastern tour — eighteen performers." The poster 
stated that they had had the honour of playing their 
select repertoire before various colonial excellencies, also 
before pashas, sheiks, chiefs, H.H. the Sultan of Mascate, 
etc., etc. 

Davidson felt sorry for the eighteen lady-performers. 
He knew what that sort of life was like, the sordid con- 
ditions and brutal incidents of such tours led by such 
Zangiacomos who often were anything but musicians by 
profession. While he was staring at the poster, a door 
somewhere at his back opened, and a woman came in 
who was looked upon as Schomberg's wife, no doubt 
with truth. As somebody remarked cynically once, she 
was too unattractive to be anything else. The opinion 
that he treated her abominably was based on her frightened 
expression. Davidson lifted his hat to her. Mrs. Schom- 
berg gave him an inclination of her sallow head and in- 
continently sat down behind a sort of raised counter, facing 
the door, with a mirror and rows of bottles at her back. 
Her hair was very elaborately done with two ringlets on 
the left side of her scraggy neck ; her dress was of silk, 



38 VICTORY 

and she had come on duty for the afternoon. For some 
reason or other Schomberg exacted this from her, though 
she added nothing to the fascinations of the place. She 
sat there in the smoke and noise, like an enthroned idol, 
smiling stupidly over the billiards from time to time, 
speaking to no one, and no one speaking to her. Schom- 
berg himself took no more interest in her than may be 
implied in a sudden and totally unmotived scowl. Other- 
wise the very Chinamen ignored her existence. 

She had interrupted Davidson in his reflections. Being 
alone with her, her silence and open-eyed immobility 
made him uncomfortable. He was easily sorry for people. 
It seemed rude not to take any notice of her. He said, in 
allusion to the poster : " Are you having these people in 
the house ? " 

She was so unused to being addressed by customers 
that at the sound of his voice she jumped in her seat. 
Davidson was telling us afterward that she jumped ex- 
actly like a figure made of wood, without losing her rigid 
immobility. She did not even move her eyes ; but she 
answered him freely, though her very lips seemed made 
of wood. 

" They stayed here over a month. They are gone now. 
They played every evening." 

" Pretty good, were they ? " 

To this she said nothing ; and as she kept on staring 
fixedly in front of her, her silence disconcerted Davidson. 
It looked as if she had not heard him — which was im- 
possible. Perhaps she drew the line of speech at the 
expression of opinions. Schomberg might have trained 
her, for domestic reasons, to keep them to herself. But 
Davidson felt in honour obliged to converse ; so he said, 
putting his own interpretation on this surprising silence : 

" I see — not much account. Such bands hardly ever 



VICTORY 39 

are. An Italian lot, Mrs. Schomberg, to judge by the 
name of the boss ? " 

She shook her head negatively. 

" No. He is a German really ; only he dyes his hair and 
beard black for business. Zangiacomois his business name." 

" That's a curious fact," said Davidson. His head 
being full of Heyst, it occurred to him that she might be 
aware of other facts. This was a very amazing discovery 
to any one who looked at Mrs. Schomberg. Nobody had 
ever suspected her of having a mind, I mean even a little 
of it, I mean any at all. One was inclined to think of her 
as an It — an automaton, a very plain dummy, with an 
arrangement for bowing the head at times and smiling 
stupidly now and then. Davidson viewed her profile with 
a flattened nose, a hollow cheek and one staring, unwink- 
ing, goggle eye. He asked himself : Did that speak just 
now ? Will it speak again ? It was as exciting, for the 
mere wonder of it, as trying to converse with a mechanism. 
A smile played about the fat features of Davidson ; the 
smile of a man making an amusing experiment. He 
spoke again to her : 

" But the other members of that orchestra were real 
Italians, were they not ? " 

Of course, he didn't care. He wanted to see whether 
the mechanism would work again. It did. It said they 
were not. They were of all sorts, apparently. It paused, 
with the one goggle eye immovably gazing down the whole 
length of the room and through the door opening on to 
the " piazza." It paused, then went on in the same low 
pitch : 

" There was even one English girl." 

" Poor devil ! " said Davidson. " I suppose these 
women are not much better than slaves really. Was 
that fellow with the dyed beard decent in his way ? " 



40 VICTORY 

The mechanism remained silent. The sympathetic soul 
of Davidson drew its own conclusions. 

" Beastly life for these women ! " he said. " When you 
say an English girl, Mrs. Schomberg, do you really mean a 
young girl ? Some of these orchestra girls are no chicks." 

" Young enough," came the low voice out of Mrs. 
Schomberg's unmoved physiognomy. 

Davidson, encouraged, remarked that he was sorry for 
her. He was easily sorry for people. 

" Where did they go to from here ? " he asked. 

" She did not go with them. She ran away." 

This was the pronouncement Davidson obtained next. 
It introduced a new sort of interest. 

" Well ! Well ! " he exclaimed placidly ; and then, 
with the air of a man who knows life : " Who with ? " he 
inquired with assurance. 

Mrs. Schomberg's immobility gave her an appearance 
of listening intently. Perhaps she was really listening ; 
but Schomberg must have been finishing his sleep in some 
distant part of the house. The silence was profound, and 
lasted long enough to become startling. Then, enthroned 
above Davidson, she whispered at last : 

" That friend of yours." 

" Oh, you know I am here looking for a friend," said 
Davidson hopefully. " Won't you tell me — " 

" I've told you." 

" Eh ? " 

A mist seemed to roll away from before Davidson's eyes, 
disclosing something he could not believe. 

" You can't mean it ! " he cried. " He's not the man 
for it." But the last words came out in a faint voice. 
Mrs. Schomberg never moved her head the least bit. 
Davidson, after the shock which made him sit up, went 
slack all over. 



VICTORY 41 

" Heyst ! Such a perfect gentleman ! " he exclaimed 
weakly. 

Mrs. Schomberg did not seem to have heard him. This 
startling fact did not tally somehow with the idea Davidson 
had of Heyst. He never talked of women, he never 
seemed to think of them, or to remember that they existed ; 
and then all at once — hke this ! Running off with a 
casual orchestra girl ! 

" You might have knocked me down with a feather," 
Davidson told us some time afterward. 

By then he was taking an indulgent view of both the 
parties to that amazing transaction. First of all, on 
reflection, he was by no means certain that it prevented 
Heyst from being a perfect gentleman, as before. He 
confronted our open grins or quiet smiles with a serious 
round face. Heyst had taken the girl away to Samburan ; 
and that was no joking matter. The loneliness, the ruins 
of the spot, had impressed Davidson's simple soul. They 
were incompatible with the frivolous comments of people 
who had not seen it. That black jetty, sticking out of 
the jungle into the empty sea ; these roof -ridges of deserted 
houses peeping dismally above the long grass ! Ough ! 
The gigantic and funeral blackboard sign of the Tropical 
Belt Coal Company, still emerging from a wild growth of 
bushes like an inscription stuck above a grave figured by 
the tall heap of unsold coal at the shore end of the wharf, 
added to the general desolation. 

Thus the sensitive Davidson. The girl must have been 
miserable indeed to follow a strange man to such a spot. 
Heyst had, no doubt, told her the truth. He was a 
gentleman. But no words could do justice to the con- 
ditions of life on Samburan. A desert island was nothing 
to it. Moreover, when you were cast away on a desert 
island — why, you could not help yourself ; but to expect 



42 VICTORY 

a fiddle-playing girl out of an ambulant ladies' orchestra 
to remain content there for a day, for one single day, 
was inconceivable. She would be frightened at the first 
sight of it. She would scream. 

The capacity for sympathy in these stout, placid men ! 
Davidson was stirred to the depths ; and it was easy to 
see that it was about Heyst that he was concerned. We 
asked him if he had passed that way lately. 

" Oh, yes. I always do — about half a mile off." 

" Seen anybody about ? " 

" No, not a soul. Not a shadow.'* 

" Did you blow your whistle ? " 

" Blow the whistle ? You think I would do such a 
thing ? " ■ 

He rejected the. mere possibility of such an unwarrant- 
able intrusion. Wonderfully delicate fellow, Davidson ! 

" Well, but how do you know that they are there ? " 
he was naturally asked. 

Heyst had entrusted Mrs. Schomberg with a message 
for Davidson — a few lines in pencil on a scrap of crumpled 
paper. It was to the effect that an unforeseen necessity 
was driving him away before the appointed time. He 
begged Davidson's indulgence for the apparent discourtesy. 
The woman of the house — meaning Mrs. Schomberg — 
would give him the facts, though unable to explain them, 
of course. 

" What was there to explain ? " wondered Davidson 
dubiously. " He took a fancy to that fiddle-playing girl, 
and—" 

" And she to him, apparently," I suggested. 

** Wonderfully quick work," reflected Davidson. 
" What do you think will come of it ? " 

" Repentance, I should say. But how is it that Mrs. 
Schomberg has been selected for a confidante ? " 



VICTORY 43 

For indeed a waxwork figure would have seemed more 
useful than that woman whom we all were accustomed 
to see sitting elevated above the two billiard-tables — 
without expression, without movement, without voice, 
without sight. 

" Why, she helped the girl to bolt," said Davidson 
turning at me his innocent eyes, rounded by the state of 
constant amazement in which this affair had left him, like 
those shocks of terror or sorrow which sometimes leave 
their victim afflicted by nervous trembling. It looked as 
though he would never get over it. 

" Mrs. Schomberg jerked Heyst's note, twisted like a 
pipe-light, into my lap while I sat there unsuspecting," 
Davidson went on. " Directly I had recovered my 
senses, I asked her what on earth she had to do with 
it that Heyst should leave it with her. And then, behav- 
ing like a painted image rather than a live woman, 
she whispered, just loud enough for me to hear : 

*' ' I helped them. I got her things together, tied them 
up in my own shawl, and threw them into the compound 
out of a back window. I did it.' 

" That woman that you would say hadn't the pluck 
to lift her little finger ! " marvelled Davidson in his quiet, 
slightly panting voice. " What do you think of that ? " 

I thought she must have had some interest of her own 
to serve. She was too lifeless to be suspected of impulsive 
compassion. It was impossible to think that Heyst had 
bribed her. Whatever means he had, he had not the 
means to do that. Or could it be that she was moved 
by that disinterested passion for delivering a woman to 
a man which in respectable spheres is called matchmaking ? 
— a highly irregular example of it ! 

" It must have been a very small bundle," remarked 
Davidson further. 



44 VICTORY 

" I imagine the girl must have been specially attractive," 
1 said. 

" I don't know. She was miserable. I don't suppose 
it was more than a little linen and a couple of these white 
frocks they wear on the platform." 

Davidson pursued his own train of thought. He 
supposed that such a thing had never been heard of in 
the history of the tropics. For where could you find 
any one to steal a girl out of an orchestra ? No doubt 
fellows here and there took a fancy to some pretty one — 
but it was not for running away with her. Oh dear no ! 
It needed a lunatic like Heyst. 

" Only think what it means," wheezed Davidson, 
imaginative under his invincible placidity. *' Just only 
try to think ! Brooding alone on Samburan has upset 
his brain. He never stopped to consider, or he couldn't 
have done it. No sane man. . . . How is a thing like 
that to go on ? What's he going to do with her in the 
end ? It's madness." 

" You say that he's mad. Schoraberg tells us that he 
must be starving on his island ; so he may end yet by 
eating her," I suggested. 

Mrs. Schomberg had had no time to enter into details, 
Davidson told us. Indeed, the wonder was that they 
had been left alone so long. The drowsy afternoon was 
slipping by. Footsteps and voices resounded on the 
veranda — I beg pardon, the piazza ; the scraping of 
chairs, the ping of a smitten bell. Customers were turning 
up. Mrs. Schomberg was begging Davidson hurriedly, 
but without looking at him, to say nothing to any one, 
when on a half-uttered word her nervous whisper was 
cut short. Through a small inner door Schomberg came 
in, his hair brushed, his beard combed neatly, but his 
eyelids still heavy from his nap. He looked with suspicion 



VICTORY 45 

at Davidson, and even glanced at his wife ; but he was 
baffled by the natural placidity of the one and the acquired 
habit of immobility in the other. 

" Have you sent out the drinks ? " he asked surlily. 

She did not open her lips, because just then the head 
boy appeared with a loaded tray, on his way out. Schom- 
berg went to the door and greeted the customers outside, 
but did not join them. He remained blocking half the 
doorway, with his back to the room, and was still there 
when Davidson, after sitting still for a while, rose to go. 
At the noise he made Schomberg turned his head, watched 
him lift his hat to Mrs. Schomberg and receive her wooden 
bow accompanied by a stupid grin, and then looked 
away. He was loftily dignified. Davidson stopped at 
the door, deep in his simplicity. 

" I am sorry you won't tell me anything about my 
friend's absence," he said. " My friend Heyst, you 
know. I suppose the only course for me now is to make 
inquiries down at the port. I shall hear something there, 
I don't doubt." 

" Make inquiries of the devil ! " replied Schomberg in 
a hoarse mutter. 

Davidson's purpose in addressing the hotel-keeper 
had been mainly to make Mrs. Schomberg safe from 
suspicion ; but he would fain have heard something 
more of Heyst's exploit from another point of view. It 
was a shrewd try. It was successful in a rather startling 
way, because the hotel -keeper's point of view was horribly 
abusive. All of a sudden, in the same hoarse sinister 
tone, he proceeded to call Heyst many names, of which 
" pig-dog " was not the worst, with such vehemence that 
he actually choked himself. Profiting from the pause, 
Davidson, whose temperament could withstand worse 
shocks, remonstrated in an undertone : • 



46 VICTORY 

" It's unreasonable to get so angry as that. Even if 
he had run off with your cash-box — " 

The big hotel-keeper bent down and put his infuriated 
face close to Davidson's. 

" My cash-box ! My — he — look here, Captain David- 
son ! He ran off with a girl. What do I care for the 
girl ? The girl is nothing to me." 

He shot out an infamous word which made Davidson 
start. That's what the girl was ; and he reiterated the 
assertion that she was nothing to him. What he was 
concerned for was the good name of his house. Where- 
ever he had been established, he had always had " artist 
parties " staying in his house. One recommended him 
to the others ; but what would happen now, when it got 
about that leaders ran the risk in his house — his house — 
of losing members of their troupe ? And just now, when 
he had spent seven hundred and thirty-four guilders in 
building a concert-hall in his compound. Was that a 
thing to do in a respectable hotel ? The cheek, the 
indecency, the impudence, the atrocity ! Vagabond, 
impostor, swindler, ruffian, schwein-hund ! 

He had seized Davidson by a button of his coat, detaining 
him in the doorway, and exactly in the line of Mrs. Schom- 
berg's stony gaze. Davidson stole a glance in that 
direction, and thought of making some sort of reassuring 
sign to her, but she looked so bereft of senses, and almost 
of life, perched up there, that it seemed not worth while. 
He disengaged his button with firm placidity. Thereupon, 
with a last stifled curse, Schomberg vanished somewhere 
within, to try and compose his spirits in solitude. David- 
son stepped out on the veranda. The party of customers 
there had become aware of the explosive interlude in the 
doorway. Davidson knew one of these men, and nodded 
to him in passing ; but his acquaintance called out : 



VICTORY 47 

" Isn't he in a filthy temper ? He's been like that ever 



since." 



The speaker laughed aloud, while all the others sat 
smiling. Davidson stopped. 

" Yes, rather." His feelings were, he told us, those 
of bewildered resignation ; but of course that was no 
more visible to the others than the emotions of a turtle 
when it withdraws into its shell. 

" It seems unreasonable," he murmured thoughtfully. 

" Oh, but they had a scrap ! " the other said. 

" What do you mean ? Was there a fight ! — a fight 
with Heyst ? " asked Davidson, much perturbed, if some- 
what incredulous. 

" Heyst ? No, these two — the bandmaster, the fellow 
who's taking these women about and our Schomberg. 
Signor Zangiacomo ran amuck in the morning, and went 
for our worthy friend. I tell you, they were rolling on 
the floor together on this very veranda, after chasing 
each other all over the house, doors slamming, women 
screaming, seventeen of them, in the dining-room ; China- 
men up the trees — Hey, John ! You climb tree to see 
the fight, eh ? " 

The boy, almond-eyed and impassive, emitted a scornful 
grunt, finished wiping the table, and withdrew. 

" That's what it was — a real go-as-you-please scrap. 
And Zangiacomo began it. Oh, here's Schomberg. Say, 
Schomberg, didn't he fly at you, when the girl was 
missed, because it was you who insisted that the artists 
should go about the audience during the interval ? " 

Schomberg had reappeared in the doorway. He ad- 
vanced. His bearing was stately, but his nostrils were 
extraordinarily expanded, and he controlled his voice 
with apparent effort. 

" Certainly. That was only business. I quoted him 



48 VICTORY 

special terms and all for your sake, gentlemen. I was 
thinking of my regular customers. There's nothing to 
do in the evenings in this town. I think, gentlemen, 
you were all pleased at the opportunity of hearing a little 
good music ; and where' s the harm of offering a grenadine, 
or what not, to a lady artist ? But that fellow — that 
Swede — he got round the girl. He got round all the 
people out here. I've been watching him for years. 
You remember how he got round Morrison." 

He changed front abruptly, as if on parade, and 
marched off. The customers at the table exchanged 
glances silently. Davidson's attitude was that of a 
spectator. Schomberg's moody pacing of the billiard- 
room could be heard on the veranda. 

" And the funniest part is," resumed the man who had 
been speaking before — an English clerk in a Dutch house — - 
" the funniest part is that before nine o'clock that same 
morning those two were driving together in a gharry down 
to the port, to look for Heyst and the girl. I saw them 
rushing around making inquiries. I don't know what they 
would have done to the girl, but they seemed quite ready to 
fall upon your Heyst, Davidson, and kill him on the quay." 

He had never, he said, seen anything so queer. Those 
two investigators working feverishly to the same end 
were glaring at each other with surprising ferocity. In 
hatred and mistrust they entered a steam-launch, and 
went flying from ship to ship all over the harbour, causing 
no end of sensation. The captains of vessels, coming 
on shore later in the day, brought tales of a strange in- 
vasion, and wanted to know who were the two offensive 
lunatics in a steam-launch, apparently after a man and a 
girl, and telling a story of which one could make neither 
head nor tail. Their reception by the roadstead was 
generally unsympathetic, even to the point of the mate 



VICTORY 49 

of an American ship bundling them out over the rail with 
unseemly precipitation. 

Meantime Heyst and the girl were a good few miles away, 
having gone in the night on board one of the Tesman 
schooners bound to the eastward. This was known after- 
ward from the Javanese boatmen whom Heyst hired for 
the purpose at three o'clock in the morning. The Tesman 
schooner had sailed at daylight with the usual land breeze, 
and was probably still in sight in the offing at the time. 
However, the two pursuers, after their experience with 
the American mate, made for the shore. On landing, 
they had another violent row in the German language. 
But there was no second fight ; and finally, with looks 
of fierce animosity, they got together into a gharry — 
obviously with the frugal view of sharing expenses — and 
drove away, leaving an astonished little crowd of Europeans 
and natives on the quay. 

After hearing this wondrous tale, Davidson went away 
from the hotel veranda, which was filling with Schomberg's 
regular customers. Heyst's escapade was the general 
topic of conversation. Never before had that unaccount- 
able individual been the cause of so much gossip, he judged. 
No ! Not even in the beginnings of the Tropical Belt Coal 
Company when becoming for a moment a public character 
he was the object of silly criticism and unintelligent envy 
for e\^ry vagabond and adventurer in the islands. David- 
son concluded that people liked to discuss that sort of 
scandal better than any other. 

I asked him if he believed that this was such a great 
scandal after all. 

" Heavens, no ! " said that excellent man who, himself 
was incapable of any impropriety of conduct. " But it 
isn*t a thing I would have done myself ; I mean even if I 
had not been married." 
4 



50 VICTORY 

There was no implied condemnation in the statement ; 
rather something like regret. Davidson shared my sus- 
picion that this was in its essence the rescue of a distressed 
human being. Not that we were two romantics, tinging 
the world to the hue of our temperament, but that both of 
us had been acute enough to discover a long time ago that 
Heyst was. 

" I shouldn't have had the pluck," he continued. ** I 
see a thing all round, as it were ; but Heyst doesn't, or 
else he would have been scared. You don't take a woman 
into a desert jungle without being made sorry for it sooner 
or later, in one way or another ; and Heyst being a 
gentleman only makes it worse." 



VI 



WE said no more about Heyst on that occasion, and 
it so happened that I did not meet Davidson again 
for some three months. When we did come together, 
almost the first thing he said to me was : 

" I've seen him." 

Before I could exclaim, he assured me that he had taken 
no liberty, that he had not intruded. He was called in. 
Otherwise he would not have dreamed of breaking in upon 
Heyst's privacy. 

" I am certain you wouldn't," I assured him, concealing 
my amusement at his wonderful delicacy. He was the 
most delicate man that ever took a small steam.er to and 
fro amongst the Islands. But his humanity, which was 
not less strong and praiseworthy, had induced him to 
take his steamer past Samburan wharf (at an average 
distance of a mile) every twenty-three days — exactly. 
Davidson was delicate, humane and regular. 

" Heyst called you in ? " I asked, interested. 

Yes, Heyst had called him in as he was going by 
on his usual date. Davidson was examining the shore 
through his glasses with his unwearied and punctual 
humanity as he steamed past Samburan. 

" I saw a man in white. It could only have been 
Heyst. He had fastened some sort of enormous flag to a 
bamboo pole, and was waving it at the end of the old 
wharf." 

SI 



52 VICTORY 

Davidson didn't like to take his steamer alongside — 
for fear of being indiscreet, I suppose ; but he steered 
close inshore, stopped his engines, and lowered a boat. 
He went himself in that boat, which was manned, of course 
by his Malay seamen. 

Heyst, when he saw the boat pulling toward him, dropped 
his signalling-pole ; and when Davidson arrived, he was 
kneeling down engaged busily in unfastening the flag 
from it. 

" Was there anything wrong ? " I inquired, Davidson 
having paused in his narrative and my curiosity being 
naturally aroused. You must remember that Heyst as 
the Archipelago knew him was not — what shall I say — 
was not a signalling sort of man. 

" The very words that came out of my mouth," said 
Davidson, '* before I laid the boat against the piles. I 
could not help it." 

Heyst got up from his knees and began carefully folding 
up the flag thing, which struck Davidson as having the 
dimensions of a blanket. 

" No, nothing wrong," he cried. His white teeth 
flashed agreeably below the coppery horizontal bar of 
his long moustaches. 

I don't know whether it was his delicacy or his obesity 
which prevented Davidson from clambering upon the 
wharf. He stood up in the boat, and, above him, Heyst 
stooped low with urbane smiles, thanking him and apologis- 
ing for the liberty, exactly in his usual manner. Davidson 
had expected some change in the man, but there was none. 
Nothing in him betrayed the momentous fact that within 
that jungle there was a girl, a performer in a ladies' 
orchestra, whom he had carried straight off the concert 
platform into the wilderness. He was not ashamed or 
defiant or abashed about it. He might have been a shade 



VICTORY 53 

confidential when addressing Davidson. And liis words 
were enigmatical. 

*' I took this course of signalling to you/' he said to 
Davidson, "because to preserve appearances might be of 
the utmost importance. Not to me, of course. I don't 
care what people may say, and of course no one can hurt 
me. I suppose I have done a certain amount of harm, 
since I allowed myself to be tempted into action. It 
seemed innocent enough, but all action is bound to be 
harmful. It is devihsh. That is why this world is evil 
upon the whole. But I have done with it ! I shall never 
lift a Httle finger again. At one time I thought that in- 
telligent observation of facts was the best way of cheating 
the time which is allotted to us whether we want it or not ; 
but now I have done with observation, too." 

Imagine poor, simple Davidson being addressed in such 
terms alongside an abandoned, decaying wharf jutting out 
of tropical bush. He had never heard anybody speak like 
this before ; certainly not Heyst, whose conversation was 
concise, poUte, with a faint ring of playfulness in the cul- 
tivated tones of his voice. 

" He's gone mad," Davidson thought to himself. 

But, looking at the physiognomy above him on the 
wharf, he was obUged to dismiss the notion of common, 
crude lunacy. It was truly most unusual talk. Then he 
remembered — in his surprise he had lost sight of it — that 
Heyst now had a girl there. This bizarre discourse was 
probably the effect of the girl. Davidson shook off the 
absurd feeHng, and asked, wishing to make clear his friend- 
liness, and not knowing what else to say : 

" You haven't run short of stores or anything hke 
that ? " 

Heyst smiled and shook his head. 

" No, no. Nothing of the kind. We are fairly well 



54 VICTORY 

off here. Thanks, all the same. If I have taken the Hberty 
to detain you, it is not from any uneasiness for myself and 
my — companion. The person I was thinking of when I 
made up my mind to invoke your assistance is Mrs. Schom- 
berg." 

" I have talked with her," interjected Davidson. 

*' Oh ! You ? Yes, I hoped she would find means 
to—" 

" But she didn't tell me much," interrupted Davidson, 
who was not averse from hearing something — he hardly 
knew what. 

" H'm — yes. But that note of mine ? Yes ? She 
found an opportunity to give it to you ? That's good, very 
good. She's more resourceful than one would give her 
credit for." 

" Women often are," remarked Davidson. The strange- 
ness from which he had suffered, merely because his inter- 
locutor had carried off a girl, wore off as the minutes went 
by. " There's a lot of unexpectedness about women," he 
generaUsed with a didactic aim which seemed to miss its 
mark ; for the next thing Heyst said was : 

" This is Mrs. Schomberg's shawl." He touched the stuff 
hanging over his arm. " An Indian thing, I believe," he 
added, glancing at his arm sideways. 

"It isn't of particular value," said Davidson truth- 
fully. 

" Very Ukely. The point is that it belongs to Schom- 
berg's wife. That Schomberg seems to be an unconscion- 
able ruffian — don't you think so ? " 

Davidson smiled faintly. 

** We out here have got used to him," he said, as if ex- 
cusing a universal and guilty toleration of a manifest 
nuisance. "I'd hardly call him that. I only know him 
as a hotel-keeper." 



VICTORY 55 

" I never knew him even as that — not till this time, when 
you were so obliging as to take me to Sourabaya, I went to 
stay there from economy. The Netherlands House is very 
expensive, and they expect you to bring your own servant 
with you. It's a nuisance." 

" Of course, of course," protested Davidson hastily. 

After a short silence Heyst returned to the matter of the 
shawl. He wanted to send it back to Mrs. Schomberg. 
He said that it might be very awkward for her if she were 
unable, if asked, to produce it. This had given him, Heyst, 
much uneasiness. She was terrified of Schomberg. Ap- 
parently she had reason to be. 

Davidson had remarked that, too. Which did not pre- 
vent her, he pointed out, from making a fool of him, in a 
way, for the sake of a stranger. 

" Oh ! You know ! " said Heyst. " Yes, she helped 
me — us." 

" She told me so. I had quite a talk with her," Davidson 
informed him. " Fancy any one having a talk with Mrs. 
Schomberg ! If I were to tell the fellows they wouldn't 
believe me. How did you get round her, Heyst ? How 
did you think of it ? Why, she looks too stupid to under- 
stand human speech and too scared to shoo a chicken away. 
Oh, the women, the women ! You don't know what there 
may be in the quietest of them." 

" She was engaged in the task of defending her position 
in life," said Heyst. " It's a very respectable task." 

" Is that it ? I had some idea it was that," confessed 
Davidson. 

He then imparted to Heyst the story of the violent pro- 
ceedings following on the discovery of his flight. Heyst 's 
polite attention to the tale took on a sombre cast ; but he 
manifested no surprise, and offered no comment. When 
Davidson had finished he handed down the shawl into the 



56 VICTORY 

boat, and Davidson promised to do his best to return it to 
Mrs. Schomberg in some secret fashion. Heyst expressed 
his thanks in a few simple words, set o^ by his manner of 
finished courtesy. Davidson prepared to depart. They 
were not looking at each other. Suddenly Heyst spoke : 

" You understand that this was a case of odious per- 
secution, don't you ? I became aware of it and — " 

It was a view which the sympathetic Davidson was 
capable of appreciating. 

" I am not surprised to hear it," he said placidly. 
" Odious enough, I dare say. And you, of course — not 
being a married man — were free to step in. Ah, well ! " 

-He sat down in the stern-sheets, and already had the 
steering Hues in his hands when Heyst observed abruptly : 

" The world is a bad dog. It will bite you if you give it a 
chance ; but I think that here we can safely defy the fates.'* 

When relating all this to me, Davidson's only comment 
was : 

*' Funny notion of defying the fates — to take a woman in 
tow 1 " 



VII 

SOME considerable time afterward — we did not meet 
very often — I asked Davidson how he had managed 
about the shawl and heard that he had tackled his 
mission in a direct way, and had found it easy enough. 
At the very first call he made in Samarang he rolled 
the shawl as tightly as he could into the smallest possible 
brown paper parcel, which he carried ashore with him. 
His business in the town being transacted, he got into 
a gharry with the parcel and drove to the hotel. With 
his previous experience, he timed his arrival accurately 
for the hour of Schomberg's siesta. Finding the place 
empty as on the former occasion, he marched into the 
billiard-room, took a seat at the back, near the sort of 
dais which Mrs. Schomberg would in due course come 
to occupy, and broke the slumbering silence of the house 
by thumping a bell vigorously. Of course a Chinaman 
appeared promptly. Davidson ordered a drink and sat 
tight. 

" I would have ordered twenty drinks one after another, 
if necessary," he said — Davidson's a very abstemious 
man — " rather than take that parcel out of the house 
again. Couldn't leave it in a corner without letting the 
woman know it was there. It might have turned out 
worse for her than not bringing the thing back at all." 

And so he waited, ringing the bell again and again, and 
swallowing two or three iced drinks which he did not want. 

57 



•=,8 VICTORY 



w> 



Presently, as he hoped it would happen, Mrs. Schomberg 
came in, silk dress, long neck, ringlets, scared eyes, and 
silly grin — all complete. Probably that lazy beast had 
sent her out to see who was the thirsty customer waking 
up the echoes of the house at this quiet hour. Bow, nod 
— and she clambered up to her post behind the raised 
counter, looking so helpless, so inane, as she sat there, 
that if it hadn't been for the parcel, Davidson declared, 
he would have thought he had merely dreamed of all that 
had passed between them. He ordered another drink, 
to get the Chinaman out of the room, and then seized the 
parcel, which was reposing on a chair near him, and with 
no more than a mutter — " This is something of yours " — 
he rammed it swiftly into a recess in the counter, at her 
feet. There I The rest was her affair. And just in time, 
too. Schomberg turned up, yawning affectedly, almost 
before Davidson had regained his seat. He cast about 
suspicious and irate glances. An invincible placidity of 
expression helped Davidson wonderfully at the moment, 
and the other, of course, could have no grounds for the 
slightest suspicion of any sort of understanding between 
his wife and this customer. 

As to Mrs. Schomberg, she sat there like a joss. David- 
son was lost in admiration. He believed, now, that the 
woman had been putting it on for years. She never even 
winked. It was immense ! The insight he had obtained 
almost frightened him ; he couldn't get over his wonder 
at knowing more of the real Mrs. Schomberg than anybody 
in the Islands, including Schomberg himself. She was a 
miracle of dissimulation. No wonder Heyst got the girl 
away from under two men's noses, if he had her to help 
with the job ! 

The greatest wonder, after aU, was Heyst getting mixed 
up with petticoats. The fellow's life had been open to us 



VICTORY 59 

for years and nothing could have been more detached 
from feminine associations. Except that he stood drinks 
to people on suitable occasions, like any other man, this 
observer of facts seemed to have no connection with earthly 
affairs and passions. The very courtesy of his manner, 
the flavour of playfulness in the voice set him apart. He 
was like a feather floating lightly in the work-a-day atmo- 
sphere which was the breath of our nostrils. For this 
reason whenever this looker-on took contact with things 
he attracted attention. First, it was the Morrison partner- 
ship of mystery ; then came the great sensation of the 
Tropical Belt Coal where indeed varied interests were 
involved : a real business matter. And then came this 
elopement, this incongruous phenomenon of self-assertion, 
the greatest wonder of all, astonishing and amusing. 

Davidson admitted to me that the hubbub was sub- 
siding ; and the affair would have been already forgotten, 
perhaps, if that ass Schomberg had not kept on gnashing 
his teeth publicly about it. It was really provoking that 
Davidson should not be able to give one some idea of 
the girl. Was she pretty ? He didn't know. He had 
stayed the whole afternoon in Schomberg's hotel, mainly 
for the purpose of finding out something about her. But 
the story was growing stale. The parties at the tables on 
the veranda had other, fresher, events to talk about and 
Davidson shrank from making direct inquiries. He sat 
placidly there, content to be disregarded and hoping for 
some chance word to turn up. I shouldn't wonder if the 
good feUow hadn't been dozing. It's difficult to give you 
an adequate idea of Davidson's placidity. 

Presently Schomberg, wandering about, joined a party 
that had taken the table next to Davidson's. 

*' A man like that Swede, gentlemen, is a public danger," 
he began. ** I remember him for years. I won't say 



6o VICTORY 

anything of his spying — well, he used to say himself he 
was looking for out-of-the-way facts, and what is that if 
not sp5dng ? He was spying into everybody's business. 
He got hold of Captain Morrison, squeezed him dry, like 
you would an orange, and scared him off to Europe to die 
there. Everybody knows that Captain Morrison had a 
weak chest. Robbed first and murdered afterward ! I 
don't mince words — not I. Next he gets up that swindle 
of the Belt Coal. You all know about it. And now, after 
lining his pockets with other people's money, he kidnaps 
a white girl belonging to an orchestra which is performing 
in my pubUc room for the benefit of my patrons, and goes 
off to live hke a prince on that island, where nobody 
can get at him. A dam' silly girl . . . It's disgusting — 
tfui ! " 

He spat. He choked with rage — for he saw visions, no 
doubt. He jumped up from his chair, and went away 
to flee from them — perhaps. He went into the room where 
Mrs. Schomberg sat. Her aspect could not have been 
very soothing to the sort of torment from which he was 
suffering. 

Davidson did not feel called upon to defend Heyst. 
His proceeding was to enter into conversation with one 
and another, casually, and showing no particular know- 
ledge of the affair, in order to discover something about 
the girl. Was she anything out of the way ? Was she 
pretty ? She couldn't have been markedly so. She had 
not attracted special notice. She was young — on that 
everybody agreed. The English clerk of Tesmans remem- 
bered that she had a sallow face. He was respectable and 
highly proper. He was not the sort to associate with such 
people. Most of these women were fairly battered speci- 
mens. Schomberg had them housed in what he called the 
Pavilion, in the grounds, where they were hard at it mend- 



VICTORY 6i 

ing and washing their white dresses, and could be seen 
hanging them out to dry between the trees, hke a lot of 
washerwomen. They looked very much like middle-aged 
washerwomen on the platform, too. But the girl had 
been living in the main building along with the boss, the 
director, the fellow with the black beard, and a hard- 
bitten, oldish woman who took the piano and was under- 
stood to be the fellow's wife. 

This was not a very satisfactory result. Davidson 
stayed on, and even joined the table d'hote dinner, without 
gleaning any more information. He was resigned. 

" I suppose," he wheezed placidly, " I am bound to see 
her some day." 

He meant to take the Samburan channel every trip, as 
before, of course. 

" Yes," I said. " No doubt you will. Some day Heyst 
will be signalling to you again ; and I wonder what it 
wiU be for." 

Davidson made no reply. He had his own ideas about 
that, and his silence concealed a good deal of thought. 
We spoke no more of Heyst's girl. Before we separated, 
he gave me a piece of unrelated observation. 

" It's funny," he said, " but I fancy there's some 
gambling going on in the evening at Schomberg's place, 
on the quiet. I've noticed men strolling away in twos 
and threes towards that hall where the orchestra used 
to play. The windows must be specially well shuttered, 
because I could not spy the smallest gleam of light from 
that direction ; but I can't believe that those beggars 
would go in there only to sit and think of their sins in 
the dark." 

" That's strange. It's incredible that Schomberg should 
risk that sort of thing," I said. 



PART II 



•i 



I 



As we know, Heyst had gone to stay in Schomberg's 
hotel in complete ignorance that his person was odious 
to that worthy. When he arrived, Zangiacomo's Ladies' 
Orchestra had been estabhshed there for some time. 

The business which had called him out from his seclusion 
in his lost corner of the Eastern seas was with the Tesmans, 
and it had something to do with money. He transacted 
it quickly, and then found himself with nothing to do 
while he awaited Davidson, who was to take him back to 
his solitude ; for back to his soHtude Heyst meant to go. 
He whom we used to refer to as the Enchanted Heyst 
was suffering from thorough disenchantment. Not with 
the islands, however. The Archipelago has a lasting 
fascination. It is not easy to shake off the spell of island 
life. Heyst was disenchanted with life as a whole. His 
scornful temperament, beguiled into action, suffered from 
failure in a subtle way unknown to men accustomed to 
grapple with the realities of common human enterprise. 
It was like the gnawing pain of useless apostasy, a sort 
of shame before his own betrayed nature ; and, in addi- 
tion, he also suffered from plain, downright remorse. He 
deemed himself guilty of Morrison's death. A rather 
absurd feeling, since no one could possibly have foreseen 
the horrors of the cold, wet summer lying in wait for poor 
Morrison at home. 

It was not in Heyst' s character to turn morose ; but 
5 



66 VICTORY 

his mental state was not compatible with a sociable mood. 
He spent his evenings sitting apart on the veranda of 
Schomberg's hotel. The lamentations of string instru- 
ments issued from the building in the hotel compound, 
the approaches to which were decorated with Japanese 
paper lanterns strung up between the trunks of several 
big trees. Scraps of tunes more or less plaintive reached 
his ears. They pursued him even into his bedroom, which 
opened into an upstairs veranda. The fragmentary and 
rasping character of these sounds made their intrusion 
inexpressibly tedious in the long run. Like most dreamers, 
to whom it is given sometimes to hear the music of the 
spheres, Heyst, the wanderer of the Archipelago, had a 
taste for silence which he had been able to gratify for 
years. The islands are very quiet. One sees them Ijang 
about, clothed in their dark garments of leaves, in a great 
hush of silver and azure, where the sea without murmurs 
meets the sky in a ring of magic stillness. A sort of 
smiling somnolence broods over them ; the very voices 
of their people are soft and subdued, as if afraid to break 
some protecting spell. 

Perhaps this was the very spell which had enchanted 
Heyst in the early days. For him, however, that was 
broken. He was no longer enchanted, though he was still 
a captive of the islands. He had no intention to leave 
them ever. Where could he have gone to, after all these 
years ? Not a single soul belonging to him lived any- 
where on earth. Of this fact — not such a remote one, 
after all — he had only lately become aware ; for it is 
failure that makes a man enter into himself and reckon up 
his resources. And though he had made up his mind to 
retire from the world in hermit fashion, yet he was 
irrationally moved by this sense of loneliness which had 
come to him in the hour of renunciation. It hurt him. 



VICTORY 67 

Nothing is more painful than the shock of sharp con- 
tradictions that lacerate our intelligence and our feelings. 

Meantime Schomberg watched Heyst out of the corner 
of his eye. Towards the unconscious object of his enmity 
he preserved a distant Lieutenant-of-the-Reserve de- 
meanour. Nudging certain of his customers with his 
elbow, he begged them to observe what airs " that Swede " 
was giving himself. 

'* I really don't know why he has come to stay in my 
house. This place isn't good enough for him. I wish to 
goodness he had gone somewhere else to show off his 
superiority. Here I have got up this series of concerts 
for you gentlemen, just to make things a little brighter 
generally ; and do you think he'll condescend to step in 
and listen to a piece or two of an evening ? Not he. I 
know him of old. There he sits at the dark end of the 
piazza, all the evening long — planning some new swindle, 
no doubt. For twopence I would ask him to go and look 
for quarters somewhere else ; only one doesn't like to 
treat a white man like that out in the tropics. I don't 
know how long he means to stay, but I'm willing to bet 
a trifle that he'll never work himself up to the point of 
spending the fifty cents of entrance money for the sake 
of a little good music." 

Nobody cared to bet, or the hotel-keeper would have 
lost. One evening Heyst was driven to desperation by the 
rasped, squeaked, scraped snatches of tunes pursuing him 
even to his hard couch, with a mattress as thin as a pancake 
and a diaphanous mosquito net. He descended among the 
trees, where the soft glow of Japanese lanterns picked out 
parts of their great rugged trunks, here and there, in the 
great mass of darkness under the lofty foliage. More 
lanterns, of the shape of cylindrical concertinas, hanging in 
a row from a slack string, decorated the doorway of what 



68 VICTORY 

Schomberg called grandiloquently "my concert-hall." In 
his desperate mood Heyst ascended three steps, lifted a 
calico curtain, and went in. 

The uproar in that small, barn-like structure, built of 
imported pine boards, and raised clear of the ground, was 
simply stunning. An instrumental uproar, screaming, 
grunting, whining, sobbing, scraping, squeaking some kind 
of lively air ; while a grand piano, operated upon by a bony, 
red-faced woman with bad-tempered nostrils, rained hard 
notes like hail through the tempest of fiddles. The small 
platform was filled with white muslin dresses and crimson 
sashes slanting from shoulders provided with bare arms, 
which sawed away without respite. Zangiacomo con- 
ducted. He wore a white mess-jacket, a black dress waist- 
coat, and white trousers. His longish, tousled hair and his 
great beard were purple-black. He was horrible. The 
heat was terrific. There were perhaps thirty people 
having drinks at several little tables. Heyst, quite over- 
come by the volume of noise, dropped into a chair. In the 
quick time of that music, in the varied, piercing clamour of 
the strings, in the movements of the bare arms, in the low 
dresses, the coarse faces, the stony eyes of the executants, 
there was a suggestion of brutality — something cruel, 
sensual, and repulsive. 

" This is awful ! " Heyst murmured to himself. 

But there is an unholy fascination in systematic noise. 
He did not flee from it incontinently, as one might have 
expected him to do. He remained, astonished at himself 
for remaining, since nothing could have been more repulsive 
to his tastes, more painful to his senses, and, so to speak, 
more contrary to his genius, than this rude exhibition of 
vigour. The Zangiacomo band was not making music ; it 
was simply murdering silence with a vulgar, ferocious energy. 
One felt as if witnessing a deed of violence ; and that im- 



VICTORY 69 

pression was so strong that it seemed marvellous to see the 
people sitting so quietly on their chairs, drinking so calmly 
out of their glasses, and giving no signs of distress, anger or 
fear. Heyst averted his gaze from the unnatural spectacle 
of their indifference. 

When the piece of music came to an end, the relief was so 
great that he felt slightly dizzy, as if a chasm of silence had 
yawned at his feet. When he raised his eyes, the audience, 
most perversely, was exhibiting signs of animation and 
interest in their faces, and the women in white muslin 
dresses were coming down in pairs from the platform into 
the body of Schomberg's "concert-hall." They dispersed 
themselves all over the place. The male creature with the 
hooked nose and purple-black beard disappeared some- 
where. This was the interval during which, as the astute 
Schomberg had stipulated, the members of the orchestra 
were encouraged to favour the members of the audience 
with their company — that is, such members as seemed in- 
clined to fraternise with the arts in a familiar and generous 
manner ; the symbol of familiarity and generosity con- 
sisting in offers of refreshment. 

The procedure struck Heyst as highly incorrect. How- 
ever, the impropriety of Schomberg's ingenious scheme 
was defeated by the circumstance that most of the women 
were no longer young, and that none of them had ever been 
beautiful. Their more or less worn cheeks were slightly 
rouged ; but apart from that fact, which might have been 
simply a matter of routine, they did not seem to take the 
success of the scheme unduly to heart. The impulse to 
fraternise with the arts being obviously weak in the 
audience, some of the musicians sat down listlessly at 
unoccupied tables, while others went on perambulating 
the central passage arm in arm, glad enough, no doubt, to 
stretch their legs while resting their arms. Their crimson 



70 VICTORY 

sashes gave a factitious touch of gaiety to the smoky atmo- 
sphere of the concert-hall ; and Heyst felt a sudden pity for 
these beings, exploited, hopeless, devoid of charm and grace, 
whose fate of cheerless dependence invested their coarse and 
joyless features with a touch of pathos. 

Heyst was temperamentally sympathetic. To have 
them passing and repassing close to his little table was 
painful to him. He was preparing to rise and go out when 
he noticed that two white muslin dresses and crimson 
sashes had not yet left the platform. One of these dresses 
concealed the raw-boned frame of the woman with the bad- 
tempered curve to her nostrils. She was no less a person- 
age than Mrs. Zangiacomo. She had left the piano, and, 
with her back to the hall, was preparing the parts for the 
second half of the concert, with a brusque, impatient 
action of her ugly elbows. This task done, she turned, 
and, perceiving the other white muslin dress motionless 
on a chair in the second row, she strode toward it between 
the music-stands with an aggressive and masterful gait. 
On the lap of that dress there lay, unclasped and idle, a 
pair of small hands, not very white, attached to well- 
formed arms. The next detail Heyst was led to observe 
was the arrangement of the hair — two thick brown tresses 
rolled round an attractively shaped head. 

" A girl, by Jove ! " he exclaimed mentally. 

It was evident that she was a girl. It was evident in 
the outline of the shoulders, in the slender white bust 
springing up, barred slantwise by the crimson sash, 
from the bell-shaped spread of muslin skirt hiding the 
chair on which she sat averted a little from the body of 
the hall. Her feet, in low white shoes, were crossed 
prettily. 

She had captured Heyst's awakened faculty of observa- 
tion ; he had the sensation of a new experience. That 



VICTORY 71 

was because his faculty of observation had never before 
been captured by any feminine creature in that marked 
and exclusive fashion. He looked at her anxiously, as no 
man ever looks at another man ; and he positively forgot 
where he was. He had lost touch with his surroundings. 
The big woman, advancing, concealed the girl from his 
sight for a moment. She bent over the seated youthful 
figure, in passing it very close, as if to drop a word into its 
ear. Her lips did certainly move. But what sort of word 
could it have been to make the girl jump up so swiftly ? 
Heyst, at his table, was surprised into a sympathetic start. 
He glanced quickly round. Nobody was looking toward 
the platform ; and when his eyes swept back there again, 
the girl, with the big woman treading at her heels, was 
coming down the three steps from the platform to the 
floor of the hall. There she paused, stumbled one pace 
forward, and stood still again, while the other — the escort, 
the dragoon, the coarse big woman of the piano — passed 
her roughly, and, marching truculently down the centre 
aisle between the chairs and tables, went out to rejoin the 
hook-nosed Zangiacomo somewhere outside. During her 
extraordinary transit, as if everything in the hall were dirt 
under her feet, her scornful eyes met the upward glance of 
Heyst, who looked away at once toward the girl. She 
had not moved. Her arms hung down ; her eyelids were 
lowered. 

Heyst laid down his half-smoked cigar and compressed 
his lips. Then he got up. It was the same sort of im- 
pulse which years ago had made him cross the sandy 
street of the abominable town of Delli in the island of 
Timor and accost Morrison, practically a stranger to him 
then, a man in trouble, expressively harassed, dejected, 
lonely. 

It was the same impulse. But he did not recognise it. 



^2 VICTORY 

He was not thinking of Morrison then. It may be said 
that, for the first time since the final abandonment of the 
Samburan coal mine, he had completely forgotten the late 
Morrison. It is true that to a certain extent he had for- 
gotten also where he was. Thus, unchecked by any sort 
of self-consciousness, Heyst walked up the central passage. 

Several of the women, by this time, had found an- 
chorage here and there among the occupied tables. They 
talked to the men, leaning on their elbows, and suggesting 
funnily — if it hadn't been for the crimson sashes — in their 
white dresses an assembly of middle-aged brides with 
free and easy manners and hoarse voices. The murmuring 
noise of conversations carried on with some spirit filled 
Schomberg's concert-room. Nobody remarked Heyst's 
movements ; for indeed he was not the only man on his 
legs there. He had been confronting the girl for some 
time before she became aware of his presence. She was 
looking down, very still, without colour, without glances, 
without voice, without movement. It was only when 
Heyst addressed her in his courteous tone that she raised 
her eyes. 

" Excuse me," he said in English, " but that horrible 
female has done something to you. She has pinched 
you, hasn't she ? I am sure she pinched you just now, 
when she stood by your chair." 

The girl received this overture with the wide, motion- 
less stare of profound astonishment. Heyst, vexed with 
himself, suspected that she did not understand what he 
said. One could not tell what nationality these women 
were, except that they were of aU sorts. But she was 
astonished almost more by the near presence of the man 
himself, by this largely bald head, by the white brow, 
the sunburnt cheeks, the long, horizontal moustaches of 
crinkly bronze hair, by the kindly expression of the man's 



VICTORY 73 

blue eyes looking into her own. He saw the stony amaze- 
ment in hers give way to a momentary alarm, which was 
succeeded by an expression of resignation. 

" I am sure she pinched your arm most cruelly," he 
murmured, rather disconcerted now at what he had done. 

It was a great comfort to hear her say : 

" It wouldn't have been the first time. And suppose 
she did — what are you going to do about it ? " 

" I don't know," he said with a faint, remote play- 
fulness in his tone which had not been heard in it lately, 
and which seemed to catch her ear pleasantly. " I am 
grieved to say that I don't know. But can I do any- 
thing ? What would you wish me to do ? Pray com- 
mand me." 

Again the greatest astonishment became visible in her 
face ; for she now perceived how different he was from 
the other men in the room. He was as different from 
them as she was different from the other members of the 
ladies' orchestra. 

" Command you ? " she breathed, after a time, in a 
bewildered tone. " Who are you ? " she asked, a little 
louder. 

" I am staying in this hotel for a few days. I just 
dropped in casually here. This outrage — " 

" Don't you try to interfere," she said so earnestly that 
Heyst asked, in his faintly playful tone : 

" Is it your wish that I should leave you ? " 

" I haven't said that," the girl answered. " She 
pinched me because I didn't get down here quick 
enough." 

I can't tell you how indignant I am," said Heyst. 

But since you are down here now," he went on, with 
the ease of a man of the world speaking to a young lady 
in a drawing-room, " hadn't we better sit down ? " 






74 VICTORY 

She obeyed his inviting gesture, and they sat down 
on the nearest chairs. They looked at each other across 
a Httle round table with a surprised, open gaze, self- 
consciousness growing on them so slowly that it was a 
long time before they averted their eyes ; and very soon 
they met again, temporarily, only to rebound, as it were. 
At last they steadied in contact, but by that time, say 
some fifteen minutes from the moment when they sat 
down, the " interval " came to an end. 

So much for their eyes. As to the conversation, it had 
been perfectly insignificant, because naturally they had 
nothing to say to each other. Heyst had been interested 
by the girl's physiognomy. Its expression was neither 
simple nor yet very clear. It was not distinguished — 
that could not be expected — but the features had more 
fineness than those of any other feminine countenance 
he had ever had the opportunity to observe so closely. 
There was in it something indefinably audacious and 
infinitely miserable — because the temperament and the 
existence of that girl were reflected in it. But her voice ! 
It seduced Heyst by its amazing quality. It was a voice 
fit to utter the most exquisite things, a voice which would 
have made silly chatter supportable and the roughest 
talk fascinating. Heyst drank in its charm as one listens 
to the tone of some instrument without heeding the 
tune. 

" Do you sing as well as play ? " he asked her abruptly. 

" Never sang a note in my life," she said, obviously 
surprised by the irrelevant question ; for they had not 
been discoursing of sweet sounds. She was clearly un- 
aware of her voice. " I don't remember that I ever 
had much reason to sing since I was little," she added. 

That inelegant phrase, by the mere vibrating, warm 
nobility of sound, found its way into Heyst's heart. 



VICTORY 75 

His mind, cool, alert, watched it sink there with a sort 
of vague concern at the absurdity of the occupation, 
till it rested at the bottom, deep down, where our un- 
expressed longings lie. 

" You are English, of course ? " he said. 

" What do you think ? " she answered in the most 
charming accents. Then, as if thinking that it was her 
turn to place a question : " Why do you always smile 
when you speak ? " 

It was enough to make any one look grave ; but her 
good faith was so evident that Heyst recovered himself 
at once. 

" It's my unfortunate manner," he said with his deli- 
cate, polished playfulness. "Is it very objectionable to 
you ? " 

She was very serious. 

" No. I only noticed it. I haven't come across so 
many pleasant people as all that, in my life." 

" It's certain that this woman who plays the piano 
is infinitely more disagreeable than any cannibal I have 
ever had to do with." 

" I believe you ! " She shuddered. " How did you 
come to have anything to do with cannibals ? " 

" It would be too long a tale," said Heyst, with a faint 
smile. Heyst's smiles were rather melancholy, and ac- 
corded badly with his great moustaches, under which his 
mere playfulness lurked as comfortably as a shy bird in its 
native thicket. " Much too long. How did you get amongst 
this lot here ? " 

*' Bad luck," she answered briefly. 

" No doubt, no doubt," Heyst assented with slight nods. 
Then, stiU indignant at the pinch which he had divined 
rather than actually seen inflicted : " I say, couldn't you 
defend yourself somehow ? " 



76 VICTORY 

She had risen already. The ladies of the orchestra 
were slowly regaining their places. Some were already 
seated, idle, stony-eyed, before the music-stands. Heyst 
was standing up, too. 

" They are too many for me," she said. 

These few words came out of the common experience 
of mankind ; yet, by virtue of her voice, they thrilled 
Heyst like a revelation. His feelings were in a state of 
confusion, but his mind was clear. 

"That's bad. But it isn't actual ill-usage that this 
girl is complaining of," he thought lucidly after she left 
him. 



II 



THAT was how it began. How it was that it ended 
as we know it did end, is not so easy to state 
precisely. It is very clear that Heyst was not in- 
different, I won't say to the girl, but to the girl's fate. 
He was the same man who had plunged after the sub- 
merged Morrison whom he hardly knew othenvise than by 
sight and through the usual gossip of the islands. But 
this was another sort of plunge altogether, and likely to 
lead to a very different kind of partnership. 

Did he reflect at all ? Probably. He was sufficiently 
reflective. But if he did, it was with insufficient know- 
ledge. For there is no evidence that he paused at any 
tim^e between the date of that evening and the morning of 
the flight. Truth to say, Heyst was not one of those men 
who pause much. Those dreamy spectators of the world's 
agitation are terrible once the desire to act gets hold of 
them. They lower their heads and charge a wall with 
an amazing serenity which nothing but an indisciplined 
imagination can give. 

He was not a fool. I suppose he knew — or at least he 
felt — where this was leading him. But his complete 
inexperience gave him the necessary audacity. The girl's 
voice was charming when she spoke to him of her miserable 
past, in simple terms, with a sort of unconscious cynicism 
inherent in the truth of the ugly conditions of poverty. 
And whether because he was humane or because her voice 

77 



y^ VICTORY 

included all the modulations of pathos, cheerfulness and 
courage in its compass, it was not disgust that the tale 
awakened in him, but the sense of an immense sadness. 

On a later evening, during the interval between the 
two parts of the concert, the girl told Heyst about herself. 
She was almost a child of the streets. Her father was a 
musician in the orchestras of small theatres. Her mother 
ran away from him while she was little, and the landladies 
of various poor lodging-houses had attended casually to 
her abandoned childhood. It was never positive starva- 
tion and absolute rags, but it was the hopeless grip of 
poverty all the time. It was her father who taught her 
to play the violin. It seemed that he used to get drunk 
sometimes, but without pleasure, and only because he 
was unable to forget his fugitive wife. After he had a 
paralytic stroke, falling over with a crash in the well of 
a music-hall orchestra during the performance, she had 
joined the Zangiacomo company. He was now in a home 
for incurables. 

" And I am here," she finished, " with no one to care 
if I make a hole in the water the next chance I get or 
not." 

Heyst told her that he thought she could do a little 
better than that, if it was only a question of getting out 
of the world. She looked at him with special attention, 
and with a puzzled expression which gave to her face an 
air of innocence. 

This was during one of the " intervals " between the 
two parts of the concert. She had come down that time 
without being incited thereto by a pinch from the awful 
Zangiacomo woman. It is difficult to suppose that she 
was seduced by the uncovered intellectual forehead and 
the long reddish moustaches of her new friend. New is 
not the right word. She had never had a friend before ; 



VICTORY 79 

and the sensation of this friendliness going out to her 
was exciting by its novelty alone. Besides, any man who 
did not resemble Schomberg appeared for that very reason 
attractive. She was afraid of the hotel-keeper, who, in 
the daytime, taking advantage of the fact that she lived 
in the hotel itself, and not in the Pavilion with the other 
** artists," prowled round her, mute, hungry, portentous 
behind his great beard, or else assailed her in quiet corners 
and empty passages with deep, mysterious murmurs from 
behind, which, notwithstanding their clear import, sounded 
horribly insane somehow. 

The contrast of Heyst's quiet, polished manner gave 
her special delight and filled her with admiration. She 
had never seen anything like that before. If she had, 
perhaps, known kindness in her life, she had never met 
the forms of simple courtsey. She was interested by it 
as by a very novel experience, not very intelligible, but 
distinctly pleasurable. 

" I tell you they are too many for me," she repeated, 
sometimes recklessly, but more often shaking her head 
with ominous dejection. 

She had, of course, no money at all. The quantities 
of " black men " all about frightened her. She really 
had no definite idea where she was on the surface of 
the globe. The orchestra was generally taken from the 
steamer to some hotel, and kept shut up there tiU it 
was time to go on board another steamer. She could 
not remember the names she heard. 

** How do you call this place again ? " she used to ask 
Heyst. 

" Sourabaya," he would say distinctly, and would 
watch the discouragement at the outlandish sound coming 
into her eyes, which were fastened on his face. 

He could not defend himself from compassion. He 



8o VICTORY 

suggested that she might go to the consul, but it was his 
conscience that dictated this advice, not his conviction. 
She had never heard of the animal or of its uses. A 
consul ! What was it ? Who was he ? What could he 
do ? And when she learned that perhaps he could be 
induced to send her home, her head dropped on her breast. 

" What am 1 to do when I get there ? " she murmured 
with an intonation so just, with an accent so penetrating 
— the charm of her voice did not fail her even in whispering — 
that Heyst seemed to see the illusion of human fellowship 
on earth vanish before the naked truth of her existence, 
and leave them both face to face in a moral desert as arid 
as the sands of Sahara, without restful shade, without 
refreshing water. 

She leaned slightly over the little table, the same little 
table at which they had sat when they first met each other ; 
and with no other memories but of the stones in the streets 
her childhood had known, in the distress of the incoherent, 
confused, rudimentary impressions of her travels inspiring 
her with a vague terror of the world, she said rapidly, as 
one speaks in desperation : 

" You do something ! You are a gentleman. It wasn't 
I who spoke to you first, was it ? I didn't begin, did I ? 
It was you who came along and spoke to me when I was 
standing over there. What did you want to speak to me 
for ? I don't care what it is, but you must do some- 
thing." 

Her attitude was fierce and entreating at the same 
time — clamorous, in fact, though her voice had hardly 
risen above a breath. It was clamorous enough to be 
noticed. Heyst, on purpose, laughed aloud. She nearly 
choked with indignation at this brutal heartlessness. 

•' What did you mean, then, by saying ' command 
me'?" she almost hissed. 



VICTORY 8i 

Something hard in his mirthless stare, and a quiet 
final " All right,*' steadied her. 

" I am not rich enough to buy you out," he 
went on, speaking with an extraordinary detached grin, 
" even if it were to be done ; but I can always steal 

you." 

She looked at him profoundly, as though these words 
had a hidden and very complicated meaning. 

" Get away now," he said rapidly, " and try to smile 
as you go." 

She obeyed with unexpected readiness ; and as she 
had a set of very good white teeth, the effect of the 
mechanical, ordered smile was joyous, radiant. It as- 
tonished Heyst. No wonder, it flashed through his mind, 
women can deceive men so completely. The faculty was 
inherent in them ; they seemed to be created with a special 
aptitude. Here was a smile the origin of which was well 
known to him ; and yet it had conveyed a sensation of 
warmth, had given him a sort of ardour to live which was 
very new to his experience. 

By this time she was gone from the table, and had 
joined the other ** ladies of the orchestra." They trooped 
towards the platform, driven in truculently by the haughty 
mate of Zangiacomo, who looked as though she were 
restraining herself with difficulty from punching their 
backs. Zangiacomo followed, with his great, pendulous 
dyed beard and short mess-jacket, with an aspect of 
hang-dog concentration imparted by his drooping head 
and the uneasiness of his eyes, which were set very close 
together. He climbed the steps last of all, turned about, 
displaying his purple beard to the haU, and tapped with 
his bow. Heyst winced in anticipation of the horrible 
racket. It burst out immediately unabashed and awful. 
At the end of the platform the woman at the piano, pre- 



82 VICTORY 

senting her cruel profile, her head tilted back, banged the 
keys without looking at the music. 

Heyst could not stand the uproar for more than a 
minute. He went out, his brain racked by the rhythm 
of some more or less Hungarian dance music. The forests 
inhabited by the New Guinea cannibals where he had 
encountered the most exciting of his earUer futile ad= 
ventures were silent. And this adventure, not in its 
execution, perhaps, but in its nature, required even more 
nerve than anything he had faced before. Walking 
among the paper lanterns suspended to trees he remem- 
bered with regret the gloom and the dead stillness of the 
forests at the back of Geelvink Bay, perhaps the wildest, 
the unsafest, the most deadly spot on earth from which 
the sea can be seen. Oppressed by his thoughts, he 
sought the obscurity and peace of his bedroom ; but they 
were not complete. The distant sounds of the concert 
reached his ear, faint indeed but still disturbing. Neither 
did he feel very safe in there ; for that sentiment depends 
not on extraneous circumstances but on our inward con- 
viction. He did not attempt to go to sleep ; he did not 
even unbutton the top button of his tunic. He sat in a 
chair and mused. Formerly, in solitude and in silence, 
he had been used to think clearly and sometimes even 
profoundly, seeing life outside the flattering optical delusion 
of everlasting hope, of conventional self-deceptions, of an 
ever-expected happiness. But now he was troubled ; a 
light veil seemed to hang before his mental vision ; the 
awakening of a tenderness, indistinct and confused as yet, 
toward an unknown woman. 

Gradually silence, a real silence, had established itself 
round him. The concert was over ; the audience had 
gone ; the concert-hall was dark ; and even the Pavilion 
where the ladies' orchestra slept after its noisy labours, 



VICTORY 83 

showed not a gleam of light. Heyst suddenly felt restless 
in all his Hmbs. As this reaction from the long immobility 
would not be denied, he humoured it by passing quietly 
along the back veranda and out into the grounds at the 
side of the house, into the black shadows under the trees, 
where the extinguished paper lanterns were gently swinging 
their globes like withered fruit. 

He paced there to and fro for a long time, a calm, 
meditative ghost in his white drill suit, revolving in his 
head thoughts absolutely novel, disquieting, and seductive ; 
accustoming his mind to the contemplation of his purpose, 
in order that by being faced steadily it should appear 
praiseworthy and \\dse. For the use of reason is to justify 
the obscure desires that move our conduct, impulses, 
passions, prejudices and follies, and also our fears. 

He felt that he had engaged himself by a rash promise 
to an action big with incalculable consequences. And 
then he asked himself if the girl had understood what he 
meant. Who could tell ? He was assailed by all sorts of 
doubts. Raising his head, he perceived something white 
fhtting between the trees. It vanished almost at once ; 
but there could be no mistake. He was vexed at being 
detected roaming like this in the middle of the night. 
Who could that be ? It never occurred to him that 
perhaps the girl, too, would not be able to sleep. He 
advanced prudently. Then he saw the white, phantom- 
like apparition again ; and next moment all his doubts 
as to the state of her mind were laid at rest, because he 
felt her chnging to him after the manner of supplicants all 
the world over. Her whispers were so incoherent that 
he could not understand anything ; but this did not 
prevent him from being profoundly moved. He had no 
illusions about her ; but his sceptical mind was dominated 
by the fulness of his heart. 



84 VICTORY 

" Calm yourself, calm yourself," he murmured in her 
ear, returning her clasp at first mechanically, and after- 
ward with a growing appreciation of her distressed humanity. 
The heaving of her breast and the trembling of all her 
Umbs, in the closeness of his embrace, seemed to enter 
his body, to infect his very heart. While she was growing 
quieter in his arms, he was becoming more agitated, as if 
there were only a fixed quantity of violent emotion on 
this earth. The very night seemed more dumb, more 
still, and the immobility of the vague, black shapes sur- 
rounding him more perfect. 

" It will be aU right," he tried to reassure her, with a 
tone of conviction, speaking into her ear, and of necessity 
clasping her more closely than before. 

Either the words or the action had a very good effect. 
He heard a light sigh of relief. She spoke with a calmed 
ardour. 

" Oh, I knew it would be aU right from the first time 
you spoke to me ! Yes, indeed, I knew directly you came 
up to me that evening. I knew it would be aU right, if 
you only cared to make it so ; but of course I could not 
tell if you meant it. * Command me,* you said. Funny 
thing for a man Hke you to say. Did you really mean 
it ? You weren't making fun of me ? " 

He protested that he had been a serious person all his 
Hfe. 

" I believe you," she said ardently. He was touched 
by this declaration. " It's the way you have of speaking 
as if you were amused with people," she went on. " But 
I wasn't deceived. I could see you were angry with that 
beast of a woman. And you are clever. You spotted 
something at once. You saw it in my face, eh ? It isn't 
a bad face — say ? You'll never be sorry. Listen — I'm 
not twenty yet. It's the truth, and I can't be so bad- 



VICTORY 85 

looking, or else — I will tell you straight that I have been 
worried and pestered by fellows like this before. I don't 
know what comes to them — " 

She was speaking hurriedly. She choked, and then 
exclaimed, with an accent of despair : 

" What is it ? What's the matter ? " 

Heyst had removed his arms from her suddenly, and 
had recoiled a little. "Is it my fault ? I didn't even 
look at them, I tell you straight. Never ! Have I looked 
at you ? Tell me. It was you that began it." 

In truth, Heyst had shrunk from the idea of competi- 
tion with fellows unknown, with Schomberg the hotel- 
keeper. The vaporous white figure before him swayed 
pitifully in the darkness. He felt ashamed of his fastidi- 
ousness. 

" I am afraid we have been detected," he murmured. 
" I think I saw somebody on the path between the house 
and the bushes behind you." 

He had seen no one. It was a compassionate lie, if 
there ever was one. His compassion was as genuine as 
his shrinking had been, and in his judgment more honour- 
able. 

She didn't turn her head. She was obviously relieved. 

" Would it be that brute ? " she breathed out, meaning 
Schomberg, of course. " He's getting too forward with 
me now. What can you expect ? Only this evening, 
after supper, he — but I slipped away. You don't mind 
him, do you ? Why, I could face him myself now that 
I know you care for me. A girl can always put up a fight. 
You believe me ? Only it isn't easy to stand up for 
yourself when you feel there's nothing and nobody at 
your back. There's nothing so lonely in the world as a 
girl who has got to look after herself. When I left poor 
dad in that home — it was in the country, near a village — 



86 VICTORY 

I came out of the gates with seven shillings and three- 
pence in my old purse, and my railway ticket. I tramped 
a mile, and got into a train — " 

She broke off, and was silent for a moment. 

" Don't you throw me over now," she went on. " If 
you did, what should I do ? I should have to live, to be 
sure, because I'd be afraid to kill myself ; but you would 
have done a thousand times worse than killing a body. 
You told me you had been always alone, you had never 
had a dog, even. Well, then, I won't be in anybody's 
way if I live with you — not even a dog's. And what else 
did you mean when you came up and looked at me so 
close ? " 

" Close ? Did I ? " he murmured unstirring before 
her in the profound darkness. " So close as that ?" 

She had an outbreak of anger and despair in subdued 
tones. 

" Have you forgotten, then ? What did you expect 
to find ? I know what sort of girl I am ; but all the same 
I am not the sort that men turn their backs on — and you 
ought to know it, unless you aren't made like the others. 
Oh, forgive me ! You aren't like the others ; you are like 
no one in the world I ever spoke to. Don't you care for 
me ? Don't you see — ? " 

What he saw was that, white and spectral, she was 
putting out her arms to him out of the black shadows like 
an appealing ghost. He took her hands, and was affected, 
almost surprised, to find them so warm, so real, so firm, 
so living in his grasp. He drew her to him, and she dropped 
her head on his shoulder with a deep sigh. 

" I am dead tired," she whispered plaintively. 

He put his arms around her, and only by the convulsive 
movements of her body became aware that she was sob- 
bing without a sound. Sustaining her, he lost himself in 



VICTORY 87 

the profound silence of the night. After a while she became 
still, and cried quietly. Then, suddenly, as if waking up, 
she asked : 

" You haven't seen any more of that somebody you 
thought was spying about ? " 

He started at her quick, sharp whisper, and answered 
that very likely he had been mistaken. 

"If it was anybody at all," she reflected aloud, " it 
wouldn't have been any one but that hotel woman — 
the landlord's wife." 

" Mrs. Schomberg ? " Heyst said, surprised. 

" Yes. Another one that can't sleep o' nights. Why ? 
Don't you see why ? Because, of course, she sees what's 
going on. That beast doesn't even try to keep it from 
her. If she had only the least bit of spirit ! She knows 
how I feel, too, only she's too frightened even to look him 
in the face, let alone open her mouth. He would tell her 
to go hang herself." 

For some time Heyst said nothing. A public, active 
contest with the hotel-keeper was not to be thought of. 
The idea was horrible. Whispering gently to the girl, he 
tried to explain to her that as things stood, an open with- 
drawal from the company would be probably opposed. She 
listened to his explanation anxiously, from time to time 
pressing the hand she had sought and got hold of in the dark. 

" As I 'told you, I am not rich enough to buy you out ; 
so I shall steal you as soon as I can arrange some means 
of getting away from here. Meantime it would be fatal 
to be seen together at night. We mustn't give ourselves 
away. We had better part at once. I think I was 
mistaken just now ; but if, as you say, that poor Mrs. 
Schomberg can't sleep of nights, we must be more careful. 
She would tell the fellow." 

The girl had disengaged herself from his loose hold 



88 VICTORY 

while he talked, and now stood free of him, but still clasp- 
ing his hand firmly. 

" Oh, no," she said with perfect assurance. " I tell 
you she daren't open her mouth to him. And she isn't 
as silly as she looks. She wouldn't give us away. She 
knows a trick worth two of that. She'll help — that's what 
she'll do, if she dares do anything at all." 

" You seem to have a very clear view of the situation/' 
said Heyst, and received a warm, lingering kiss for this 
commendation. 

He discovered that to part from her was not such an 
easy matter as he had supposed it would be. 

" Upon my word," he said before they separated, " I 
don't even know your name." 

" Don't you ? They call me Alma. I don't know 
why. Silly name ! Magdalen too. It doesn't matter ; 
you can call me by whatever name you choose. Yes, 
you give me a name. Think of one you would like the 
sound of — something quite new. How I should like to 
forget everything that has gone before, as one forgets 
a dream that's done with, fright and all ! I would try." 

" Would you really ? " he asked in a murmur. " But 
that's not forbidden. I understand that women easily 
forget whatever in their past diminishes them in their 
eyes." 

" It's your eyes that I was thinking of, for I'm sure 
I've never wished to forget anything till you came up 
to me that night and looked me through and through. I 
know I'm not much account ; but I know how to stand 
by a man. I stood by father ever since I could under- 
stand. He wasn't a bad chap. Now that I can't be of 
any use to him, I would just as soon forget all that and 
make a fresh start. But these aren't things that I could 
talk to you about. What could I ever talk to you about ? " 



VICTORY 89 

" Don't let it trouble you," Heyst said. " Your voice 
is enough. I am in love with it, whatever it says." 

She remained silent for a while, as if rendered breathless 
by this quiet statement. 

" Oh ! I wanted to ask you — " 

He remembered that she probably did not know his 
name, and expected the question to be put to him now; 
but after a moment of hesitation she went on : 

" Why was it that you told me to smile this evening in 
the concert-room there — you remember ? " 

" I thought we were being observed. A smile is the 
best of masks. Schomberg was at a table next but 
one to us, drinking with some Dutch clerks from the 
town. No doubt he was watching us — watching you, 
at least. That's why I asked you to smile." 

Ah, that's why. It never came into my head." 
And you did it very well, too — very readily, as if 
you had understood my intention." 

" Readily ! " she repeated. " Oh, I was ready enough 
to smile then. That's the truth. It was the first time 
for years I may say that I felt disposed to smile. I've 
not had many chances to smile in my life, I can tell you ; 
especially of late." 

" But you do it most charmingly — in a perfectly fascinat- 
ing way." 

He paused. She stood still, waiting for more with the 
stillness of extreme delight, wishing to prolong the sensation. 

" It astonished me," he added. " It went as straight 
to my heart as though you had smiled for the purpose of 
dazzling me. I felt as if I had never seen a smile before 
in my life. I thought of it after I left you. It made me 
restless." 

" It did all that ? " came her voice, unsteady, gentle, 
and incredulous. 






90 VICTORY 

" If you had not smiled as you did, perhaps I should 
not have come out here to-night," he said, with his 
playful earnestness of tone. " It was your triumph.'* 

He felt her lips touch his lightly, and the next moment 
she was gone. Her white dress gleamed in the distance, 
and then the opaque darkness of the house seemed to 
swallow it. Heyst waited a little before he went the 
same way, round the corner, up the steps of the veranda, 
and into his room, where he lay down at last — not to sleep, 
but to go over in his mind all that had been said at their 
meeting. 

" It's exactly true about that smile," he thought. 
There he had spoken the truth to her ; and about her 
voice, too. For the rest — what must be must be. 

A great wave of heat passed over him. He turned on 
his back, flung his arms crosswise on the broad, hard bed, 
and lay still, open-eyed under the mosquito net, till day- 
light entered his room, brightened swiftly, and turned 
to unfailing sunhght. He got up then, went to a small 
looking-glass hanging on the wall, and stared at himself 
steadily. It was not a new-born vanity which induced 
this long survey. He felt so strange that he could not 
resist the suspicion of his personal appearance having 
changed during the night. What he saw in the glass, 
however, was the man he knew before. It was almost a 
disappointment — a behttling of his recent experience. 
And then he smiled at his naiveness ; for, being over five 
and thirty years of age, he ought to have known that in 
most cases the body is the unalterable mask of the soul, 
which even death itself changes but little, till it is put out 
of sight where no changes matter any more, either to our 
friends or to our enemies. 

Heyst was not conscious of either friends or of enemies. 
It was the very essence of his life to be a solitary achieve- 



VICTORY 91 

ment, accomplished not by hermit-like withdrawal with 
its silence and immobility, but by a system of restless 
wandering, by the detachment of an impermanent dweller 
amongst changing scenes. In this scheme he had per- 
ceived the means of passing through life without suffering 
and almost without a single care in the world — invulner- 
able because elusive. 



Ill 

FOR fifteen years Heyst had wandered, invariably 
courteous and unapproachable, and in return was 
generally considered a " queer chap." He had started 
off on these travels of his after the death of his father, 
an expatriated Swede who died in London, dissatisfied 
with his country and angry with all the world, which had 
instinctively rejected his wisdom. 

Thinker, stylist, and man of the world in his time, the 
elder Heyst had begun by coveting all the joys, those of 
the great and those of the humble, those of the fools and 
those of the sages. For more than sixty years he had 
dragged on this painful earth of ours the most weary, the 
most uneasy soul that civilisation had ever fashioned to 
its ends of disillusion and regret. One could not refuse 
him a measure of greatness, for he was unhappy in a way 
unknown to mediocre souls. His mother Heyst had never 
known, but he kept his father's pale, distinguished face 
in affectionate memory. He remembered him mainly in 
an ample blue dressing-gown in a large house of a quiet 
London suburb. For three years, after leaving school 
at the age of eighteen, he had lived with the elder Heyst, 
who was then writing his last book. In this work, at the 
end of his life, he claimed for mankind that right to absolute 
moral and intellectual liberty of which he no longer be- 
lieved them worthy. 

Three years of such companionship at that plastic and 

92 



VICTORY 93 

impressionable age were bound to leave in the boy a pro- 
found mistrust of life. The young man learned to reflect, 
which is a destructive process, a reckoning of the cost. It 
is not the clear-sighted who lead the world. Great achieve- 
ments are accomplished in a blessed, warm mental fog, 
which the pitiless cold blasts of the father's analysis had 
blown away from the son. 

" rU drift," Heyst had said to himself deliberately. 

He did not mean intellectually or sentimentally or morally. 
He meant to drift altogether and literally, body and soul, 
like a detached leaf drifting in the wind-currents under 
the immovable trees of a forest glade ; to drift without 
ever catching on to anything. 

" This shall be my defence against life," he had said to 
himself with a sort of inward consciousness that for the 
son of his father there was no other worthy alternative. 

He became a waif and stray, austerely, from conviction, 
as others do through drink, from vice, from some weakness 
of character — with deliberation, as others do in despair. 
This, stripped of its facts, had been Heyst's life up to that 
disturbing night. Next day, when he saw the girl called 
Alma, she managed to give him a glance of frank tender- 
ness, quick as lightning, and leaving a profound im- 
pression, a secret touch on the heart. It was in the grounds 
of the hotel, about tiffin time, while the ladies of the 
orchestra were strolling back to their pavilion after re- 
hearsal, or practice, or whatever they called their morning 
musical exercises in the hall. Heyst, returning from the 
town, where he had discovered that there would be diffi- 
culties in the way of getting away at once, was crossing 
the compound, disappointed and worried. He had walked 
almost unwittingly into the straggling group of Zangia- 
como's performers. It was a shock to him, on coming 
out of his brown study, to find the girl so near him, as if 



94 VICTORY 

one waking suddenly should see the figure of his dream 
turned into flesh and blood. She did not raise her shapely 
head, but her glance was no dream thing. It was real, 
the most real impression of his detached existence — so far. 

Heyst had not acknowledged it in any way, though it 
seemed to him impossible that its effect on him should not 
be visible to any one who happened to be looking on. 
And there were several men on the veranda, steady cus- 
tomers of Schomberg's table d'hote, gazing in his direction 
— at the ladies of the orchestra, in fact. Heyst's dread 
arose, not out of shame or timidity, but from his fastidious- 
ness. On getting amongst them, however, he noticed 
no signs of interest or astonishment on their faces, any 
more than if they had been blind men. Even Schomberg 
himself, who had to make way for him at the top of the 
stairs, was completely unperturbed, and continued the 
conversation he was carrying on with a client. 

Schomberg, indeed, had observed *' that Swede " talking 
with the girl in the intervals. A crony of his had nudged 
him ; and he had thought that it was so much the better ; 
the silly fellow would keep everybody else off. He was 
rather pleased than otherwise and watched them out of 
the corner of his eye with a malicious enjoyment of the 
situation — a sort of Satanic glee. For he had little doubt 
of his personal fascination, and still less of his power to 
get hold of the girl, who seemed too ignorant to know how 
to help herself, and who was worse than friendless, since 
she had for some reason incurred the animosity of Mrs. 
Zangiacomo, a woman with no conscience. The aversion 
she showed him as far as she dared (for it is not always 
safe for the helpless to display the delicacy of their senti- 
ments), Schomberg pardoned on the score of feminine 
conventional silliness. He had told Alma, as an argu- 
ment, that she was a clever enough girl to see that she 



VICTORY 95 

could do no better than to put her trust in a man of 
substance, in the prime of hfe, who knew his way about. 
But for the excited trembhng of his voice, and the extra- 
ordinary way in which his eyes seemed to be staiting out 
of his crimson, hirsute countenance, such speeches had 
every character of calm, unselfish advice — ^which, after the 
manner of lovers, passed easily into sanguine plans for the 
future. 

" We'll soon get rid of the old woman," he whispered to 
her hurriedly, with panting ferocity. " Hang her ! I've 
never cared for her. The climate don't suit her ; I shaU 
teU her to go to her people in Europe. She will have to 
go, too ! I will see to it. Bins, zwei, march ! And then 
we shaU sell this hotel and start another somewhere else." 

He assured her that he didn't care what he did for her 
sake ; and it was true. Forty -five is the age of recklessness 
for many men, as if in defiance of the decay and death wait- 
ing with open arms in the sinister valley, at the bottom of 
the inevitable hill. Her shrinking form, her downcast eyes, 
when she had to listen to him, cornered at the end of an 
empty corridor, he regarded as signs of submission to the 
overpowering force of his will, the recognition of his per- 
sonal fascinations. For every age is fed on illusions, 
lest men should renounce life early and human race come 
to an end. 

It's easy to imagine Schomberg's humiliation, his 
shocked fury, when he discovered that the girl who had 
for weeks resisted his attacks, his prayers, and his fiercest 
protestations, had been snatched from under his nose by 
" that Swede," apparently without any trouble worth 
speaking of. He refused to believe the fact. He would 
have it, at first, that the Zangiacomos, for some unfathom- 
able reason, had played him a scurvy trick ; but when no 
further doubt was possible, he changed his view of Heyst. 



96 VICTORY 

The despised Swede became for Schomberg the deepest, 
the most dangerous, the most hateful of scoundrels. He 
could not believe that the creature he had coveted with 
so much force and with so little effect, was in reality 
tender, docile to her impulses, and had almost offered 
herself to Heyst without a sense of guilt, in a desire of 
safety, and from a profound need of placing her trust 
where her woman's instinct guided her ignorance. Nothing 
would serve Schomberg but that she must have been 
circumvented by some occult exercise of force or craft, by 
the laying of some subtle trap. His wounded vanity 
wondered ceaselessly at the means " that Swede " had 
employed to seduce her away from a man like him — 
Schomberg — as though those means were bound to have 
been extraordinary, unheard of, inconceivable. He slapped 
his forehead openly before his customers ; he would sit 
brooding in silence or else would burst out unexpectedly 
declaiming against Heyst without measure, discretion or 
prudence, with swollen features and an affectation of out- 
raged virtue which could not have deceived the most 
childlike of moralists for a moment —and greatly amused 
his audience. 

It became a recognised entertainment to go and hear 
his abuse of Heyst, while sipping iced drinks on the ver- 
anda of the hotel. It was, in a manner, a more successful 
draw than the Zangiacomo concerts had ever been — 
intervals and all. There was never any difficulty in 
starting the performer of!. Anybody could do it, by 
almost any distant allusion. As likely as not, he would 
start his endless denunciations in the very billiard-room 
where Mrs. Schomberg sat enthroned as usual, swallowing 
her sobs, concealing her tortures of abject humiliation 
and terror under her stupid, set, everlasting grin, which, 
having been provided for her by nature, was an excellent 



VICTORY 97 

mask, inasmuch as nothing — not even death itself, perhaps 
— could tear it away. 

But nothing lasts in this world, at least without chang- 
ing its physiognomy. So, after a few weeks, Schomberg 
regained his outward calm, as if his indignation had dried 
up within him. And it was time. He was becoming a 
bore with his inability to talk of anything else but Heyst's 
unfitness to be at large, Heyst's wickedness, his wiles, his 
astuteness, and his criminality. Schomberg no longer 
pretended to despise him. He could not have done it. 
After what had happened he could not pretend, even to 
himself. But his bottled-up indignation was fermenting 
venomously. At the time of his immoderate loquacity 
one of his customers, an elderly man, had remarked one 
evening : 

" If that ass keeps on like this, he will end by going 
crazy." 

And this belief was less than half wrong. Schomberg 
had Heyst on the brain. Even the unsatisfactory state 
of his affairs, which had never been so unpromising since 
he came out East directly after the Franco-Prussian War, 
he referred to some subtly noxious influence of Heyst. It 
seemed to him that he could never be himself again till 
he had got even with that artful Swede. He was ready 
to swear that Heyst had ruined his life. The girl so 
unfairly, craftily, basely decoyed away would have inspired 
him to success in a new start. Obviously Mrs. Schomberg, 
whom he terrified by savagely silent moods combined with 
underhand, poisoned glances, could give him no inspiration. 
He had grown generally neglectful, but with a partiality 
for reckless expedients, as if he did not care when and 
how his career as a hotel-keeper was to be brought to an end. 
This demoralised state accounted for what Davidson had 
observed on his last visit to the Schomberg establishment, 
7 



98 VICTORY 

some two months after Heyst's secret departure with the 
girl to the solitude of Samburan. 

The Schomberg of a few years ago — the Schomberg of 
the Bangkok days, for instance, when he started the 
first of his famed table-d'hote dinners — would never have 
risked anything of the sort. His genius ran to cater- 
ing, "white man for white men," and to the inventing, 
elaborating, and retailing of scandalous gossip with asinine 
unction and impudent delight. But now his mind was 
perverted by the pangs of wounded vanity and of thwarted 
passion. In this state of moral weakness Schomberg 
allowed himself to be corrupted. 



IV 

THE business was done by a guest who arrived one 
fine morning by mail-boat — immediately from Celebes, 
having boarded her in Macassar, but generally, Schom- 
berg understood, from up China Sea way ; a wanderer, 
clearly, even as Heyst was, but not alone and of quite 
another kind. 

Schomberg, looking up from the stern-sheets of his 
steam-launch, which he used for boarding passenger 
ships on arrival, discovered a dark, sunken stare plunging 
down on him over the rail of the first-class part of the 
deck. He was no great judge of physiognomy. Human 
beings, for him, were either the objects of scandalous gossip 
or else the recipients of narrow strips of paper, with proper 
bill-heads stating the name of his hotel. — " W. Schom- 
berg, proprietor ; accounts settled weekly." 

So in the clean-shaven, extremely thin face hanging 
over the mail-boat's rail Schomberg saw only the face 
of a possible " account." The steam-launches of other 
hotels were also alongside, but he obtained the preference. 

" You are Mr. Schomberg, aren't you ? " the face 
asked quite unexpectedly. 

" I am, at your service," he answered from below ; for 
business is business, and its forms and formulas must be 
observed, even if one's manly bosom is tortured by that 
dull rage which succeeds the fury of baffled passion, like 
the glow of embers after a fierce blaze. 



99 






100 VICTORY 

Presently the possessor of the handsome but emaciated 
face was seated beside Schomberg in the stern-sheets of 
the launch. His body was long and loose- jointed ; his 
slender fingers, intertwined, clasped the leg resting on his 
knee, as he lolled back in a careless yet tense attitude. 
On the other side of Schomberg sat another passenger, 
who was introduced by the clean-shaven man as — 

My secretary. He must have the room next to mine." 
We can manage that easily for you." 

Schomberg steered with dignity, staring straight ahead, 
but very much interested by these two promising " ac- 
counts." Their belongings, a couple of large leather 
trunks browned by age and a few smaller packages, were 
piled up in the bows. A third individual — a nondescript, 
hairy creature — had modestly made his way forward and 
had perched himself on the luggage. The lower part of 
his physiognomy was over-developed ; his narrow and 
low forehead, unintelligently furrowed by horizontal 
wrinkles, surmounted wildly hirsute cheeks and a flat 
nose with wide, baboon-like nostrils. There was some- 
thing equivocal in the appearance of his shaggy, hair- 
smothered humanity. He, too, seemed to be a follower 
of the clean-shaven man, and apparently had travelled 
on deck with native passengers, sleeping under the awnings. 
His broad, squat frame denoted great strength. Grasping 
the gunwales of the launch, he displayed a pair of re- 
markably long arms, terminating in thick, brown, hairy 
paws of simian aspect. 

** What shall we do with that fellow of mine ? " the 
chief of the party asked Schomberg. " There must be a 
boarding-house somewhere near the port — some grog-shop 
where they could let him have a mat to sleep on ? " 

Schomberg said there was a place kept by a Portuguese 
half-caste. 



<( 

(( 



VICTORY loi 

" A servant of yours ? " he asked. 

" Well, he hangs on to me. He is an alligator-hunter. 
I picked him up in Colombia, you know. Ever been in 
Colombia ? " 

" No," said Schomberg, very much surprised. " An 
alligator-hunter ? Funny trade ! Are you coming from 
Colombia, then ? " 

" Yes, but I have been coming for a long time, I 
come from a good many places. I am travelling west, 
you see." 

For sport, perhaps ? " suggested Schomberg. 
Yes. Sort of sport. What do you say to chasing the 
sun ? " 

" I see — a gentleman at large," said Schomberg, watching 
a sailing canoe about to cross his bow, and ready to clear 
it by a touch of the helm. 

The other passenger made himself heard suddenly. 

" Hang these native craft ! They always get in the 
way." 

He was a muscular, short man with eyes that gleamed 
and blinked, a harsh voice, and a round, toneless, pock- 
marked face ornamented by a thin, dishevelled moustache 
sticking out quaintly under the tip of a rigid nose. Schom- 
berg made the reflection that there was nothing secretarial 
about him. Both he and his long, lank principal wore 
the usual white suit of the tropics, cork helmets, pipe- 
clayed white shoes — all correct. The hairy nondescript 
creature perched on their luggage in the bow had a check 
shirt and blue dungaree trousers. He gazed in their 
direction from forward in an expectant, trained-animal 
manner. 

" You spoke to me first," said Schomberg in his manly 
tones. " You were acquainted with my name. Where 
did you hear of me, gentlemen, may I ask ? " 



102 VICTORY 

" In Manila," answered the gentleman at large, readily. 
** From a man with whom I had a game of cards one 
evening in the Hotel Castille." 

" What man ? I've no friends in Manila that I know 
of," wondered Schomberg with a severe frown. ^ 

" I can't tell you his name. I've clean forgotten it ; 
but don't you worry. He was anything but a friend of 
yours. He called you all the names he could think of. 
He said you set a lot of scandal going about him once, 
somewhere — in Bangkok, I think. Yes, that's it. You 
were running a table d'hote in Bangkok at one time, weren't 
you ? " 

Schomberg, astounded by the turn of the information, 
could only throw out his chest more and exaggerate his 
austere Lieutenant-of-the-Reserve manner. A table d'hote ? 
Yes, certainly. He always — for the sake of white men. 
And here in this place, too ? Yes, in this place, too. 

" That's all right, then." The stranger turned his 
black, cavernous, mesmerising glance away from the 
bearded Schomberg, who sat gripping the brass tiller in 
a sweating palm. " Many people in the evening at your 
place ? " 

Schomberg had recovered somewhat. 

" Twenty covers or so, take one day with another," he 
answered feelingly, as befitted a subject on which he was 
sensitive. ** Ought to be more, if only people would 
see that it's for their own good. Precious httle profit 
I get out of it. You are partial to table d'hdtes, 
gentlemen ? " 

The new guest made answer that he liked a hotel where 
one could find some local people in the evening. It was 
infernally dull otherwise. The secretary, in sign of 
approval, emitted a grunt of astonishing ferocity, as if 
proposing to himself to eat the local people. All this 



VICTORY 103 

sounded like a longish stay, thought Schomberg, satisfied 
under his grave air ; till, remembering the girl snatched 
away from him by the last guest who had made a pro- 
longed stay in his hotel, he ground his teeth so audibly 
that the other two looked at him in wonder. The momen- 
tary convulsion of his florid physiognomy seemed to strike 
them dumb. They exchanged a quick glance. Presently 
the clean-shaven man fired out another question in his 
curt, unceremonious manner : 

" You have no women in your hotel, eh ? " 

" Women ! " Schomberg exclaimed indignantly, but 
also as if a little frightened. " What on earth do you 
mean by women ? What women ? There's Mrs. Schom- 
berg, of course," he added, suddenly appeased, with lofty 
indifference. 

" If she knows how to keep her place, then it will do. 
I can't stand women near me. They give me the horrors," 
declared the other. " They are a perfect curse ! " 

During this outburst the secretary wore a savage grin. 
The chief guest closed his sunken eyes, as if exhausted, 
and leaned the back of his head against the stanchion of 
the awning. In this pose, his long, feminine eyelashes were 
very noticeable, and his regular features, sharp line of the 
jaw, and well-cut chin were brought into prominence, 
giving him a used-up, weary, depraved distinction. He 
did not open his eyes till the steam-launch touched the 
quay. Then he and the other man got ashore quickly, 
entered a carriage, and drove away to the hotel, leaving 
Schomberg to look after their luggage and take care of 
their strange companion. The latter, looking more like 
a performing bear abandoned by his showmen than a 
human being, followed aU Schomberg' s movements step 
by step, close behind his back, muttering to himself in a 
language that sounded like some sort of uncouth Spanish. 



104 VICTORY 

The hotel-keeper felt uncomfortable till at last he got rid 
of him at an obscure den where a very clean, portly 
Portuguese half-caste, standing serenely in the doorway, 
seemed to understand exactly how to deal with clients 
of every kind. He took from the creature the strapped 
bundle it had been hugging closely through all its pere- 
grinations in that strange town, and cut short Schomberg's 
attempts at explanation by a most confident — 

" I comprehend very well, sir." 

" It's more than I do," thought Schomberg, going away 
thankful at being reheved of the alHgator-hunter's com- 
pany. He wondered what these fellows were, without 
being able to form a guess of sufficient probabiUty. Their 
names he learned that very day by direct inquiry — ** to 
enter in my books," he explained in his formal military 
manner, chest thrown out, beard very much in evidence. 

The shaven man, sprawling in a long chair, with his 
air of withered youth, raised his eyes languidly. 

" My name ? Oh, plain Mr. Jones — put that down 
— a gentleman at large. And this is Ricardo." The 
pock-mar kfed man, lying prostrate in another long chair, 
made a grimace, as if something had tickled the end of his 
nose, but did not come out of his supineness. " Martin 
Ricardo, secretary. You don't want any more of our 
history, do you ? Eh, what ? Occupation ? Put down, 
well — tourists. We've been called harder names be- 
fore now ; it won't hurt our feelings. And that fellow 
of mine — where did you tuck him away ? Oh, he will 
be all right. When he wants anything he'll take it. He's 
Peter. Citizen of Colombia, Peter, Pedro — I don't know 
that he ever had any other name. Pedro, alligator- 
hunter. Oh, yes — I'll pay his board with the half-caste. 
Can't help myself. He's so confoundedly devoted to me 
that if I were to give him the sack he would fly at my 



VICTORY 105 

throat. Shall I tell you how I killed his brother in the 
wilds of Colombia ? Well, perhaps some other time — 
it's a rather long story. What I shall always regret 
is that I didn't kill him, too. I could have done it with- 
out any extra trouble then ; now it's too late. Great 
nuisance ; but he's useful sometimes. I hope you are not 
going to put all this in your book ? " 

The offhand, hard manner and the contemptuous tone 
of " plain Mr. Jones " disconcerted Schomberg utterly. 
He had never been spoken to like this in his life. He 
shook his head in silence and withdrew, not exactly scared 
— though he was in reality of a timid disposition under 
his manly exterior — but distinctly mystified and impressed. 



V 



THREE weeks later, after putting his cash-box away 
in the safe which filled with its iron bulk a corner 
of their bedroom, Schomberg turned toward his wife, but 
without looking at her exactly, and said : 

" I must get rid of these two. It won't do ! " 

Mrs. Schomberg had entertained that very opinion 
from the first ; but she had been broken years ago into 
keeping her opinions to herself. Sitting in her night 
attire in the light of a single candle, she was careful 
not to make a sound, knowing from experience that 
her very assent would be resented. With her eyes she 
followed the figure of Schomberg, clad in his sleeping 
suit, and moving restlessly about the room. 

He never glanced her way, for the reason that Mrs. 
Schomberg, in her night attire, looked the most un- 
attractive object in existence — miserable, insignificant, 
faded, crushed, old. And the contrast with the feminine 
form he had ever in his mind's eye made his wife's appear- 
ance painful to his esthetic sense. 

Schomberg walked about swearing and fuming for 
the purpose of screwing his courage up to the sticking 
point. 

" Hang me if I ought not to go now, at once, this minute, 
into his bedroom, and tell him to be off — him and that 
secretary of his — early in the morning. I don't mind a 
round game of cards, but to make a decoy of my 

jo6 



VICTORY 107 

table d'hote — my blood boils ! He came here because 
some lying rascal in Manila told him I kept a table 
d'h6te." 

He said these things, not for Mrs. Schomberg's informa- 
tion, but simply thinking aloud, and trying to work his 
fury up to a point where it would give him courage enough 
to face " plain Mr. Jones." 

" Impudent, overbearing, swindling sharper," he went 
on. "I have a good mind to — " 

He was beside himself in his lurid, heavy, Teutonic 
manner, so unlike the picturesque, lively rage of the Latin 
races ; and though his eyes strayed about irresolutely, yet 
his swollen, angry features awakened in the miserable 
woman over whom he had been tyrannising for years a 
fear for his precious carcass, since the poor creature had 
nothing else but that to hold on to in the world. She 
knew him well ; but she did not know him altogether. 
The last thing a woman will consent to discover in a man 
whom she loves, or on whom she simply depends, is want 
of courage. And, timid in her corner, she ventured to 
say pressingly : 

" Be careful, Wilhelm ! Remember the knives and 
revolvers in their trunks." 

In guise of thanks for that anxious reminder, he swore 
horribly in the direction of her shrinking person. In her 
scanty night-dress, and barefooted, she recalled a mediaeval 
penitent being reproved for her sins in blasphemous terms. 
Those lethal weapons were always present to Schom- 
berg's mind. Personally, he had never seen them. His 
part, ten days after his guests' arrival, had been to lounge 
in manly, careless attitudes on the veranda — keeping watch 
— while Mrs. Schomberg, provided with a bunch of assorted 
keys, her discoloured teeth chattering and her globular eyes 
absolutely idiotic with fright, was "going through" the 



io8 VICTORY 

luggage of these strange clients. Her terrible Wilhelm 
had insisted on it. 

" I'll be on the look-out, I tell you," he said. " I 
shall give you a whistle when I see them coming back. 
You couldn't whistle. And if he were to catch you at it, 
and chuck you out by the scruff of the neck, it wouldn't 
hurt you much ; but he won't touch a woman. Not he ! 
He has told me so. Affected beast. I must find out 
something about their little game, and so there's an end 
of it. Go in ! Go now ! Quick march ! " 

It had been an awful job ; but she did go in, because 
she was much more afraid of Schomberg than of any 
possible consequences of the act. Her greatest concern 
was lest no key of the bunch he had provided her with 
should fit the locks. It would have been such a dis- 
appointment for Wilhelm. However, the trunks, she 
found, had been left open ; but her investigation did not 
last long. She was frightened of firearms, and generally 
of all weapons, not from personal cowardice, but as some 
women are, almost superstitiously, from an abstract horror 
of violence and murder. She was out again on the veranda 
long before Wilhelm had any occasion for a warning 
whistle. The instinctive, motiveless fear being the most 
difficult to overcome, nothing could induce her to return 
to her investigations, neither threatening growls nor 
ferocious hisses, nor yet a poke or two in the ribs. 

" Stupid female ! " muttered the hotel-keeper, per- 
turbed by the notion of that armoury in one of his bed- 
rooms. This was from no abstract sentiment ; with him 
it was constitutional. " Get out of my sight ! " he 
snarled. " Go and dress yourself for the table d'hote." 

Left to himself, Schomberg had meditated. What the 
devil did this mean ? His thinking processes were sluggish 
and spasmodic ; but suddenly the truth came to him. 



VICTORY 109 

" By heavens, they are desperadoes ! " he thought. 

Just then he beheld " plain Mr. Jones " and his secretary 
with the ambiguous name of Ricardo entering the grounds 
of the hotel. They had been down to the port on some 
business, and now were returning ; Mr. Jones lank, spare, 
opening his long legs with angular regularity Hke a pair of 
compasses, the other stepping out briskly by his side. 
Conviction entered Schomberg's heart. They were two 
desperadoes — no doubt about it. But as the funk which 
he experienced was merely a general sensation, he managed 
to put on his most severe Officer-of-the-Reserve manner, 
long before they had closed in with him. 

" Good morning, gentlemen." 

Being answered with derisive civility, he became 
confirmed in his sudden conviction of their desperate 
character. The way Mr. Jones turned his hollow eyes 
on one, Hke an incurious spectre, and the way the other, 
when addressed, suddenly retracted his hps and exhibited 
his teeth without looking round — here was evidence enough 
to settle that point. Desperadoes ! They passed through 
the biUiard-room, inscrutably mysterious, to the back of 
the house, to join their violated trunks. 

" Tiffin bell will ring in five minutes, gentlemen," Schom- 
berg called after them, exaggerating the deep manliness 
of his tone. 

He had managed to upset himself very much. He 
expected to see them come back infuriated and begin to 
bully him with an odious lack of restraint. Desperadoes ! 
However they didn't ; they had not noticed anything 
unusual about their trunks and Schomberg recovered his 
composure and said to himself that he must get rid of this 
deadly incubus as soon as practicable. They couldn't 
possibly want to stay ver>^ long ; this was not the town — 
the colony— for desperate characters. He shrank from 



no VICTORY 

action. He dreaded any kind of disturbance — " fracas," 
he called it — in his hotel. Such things were not good for 
business. Of course, sometimes one had to have a 
** fracas " ; but it had been a comparatively trifling task 
to seize the frail Zangiacomo — whose bones were no larger 
than a chicken's — round the ribs, hft him up bodily, 
dash him to the ground, and fall on him. It had been easy. 
The wretched, hook-nosed creature lay without move- 
ment, buried under its purple beard. 

Suddenly, remembering the occasion of that " fracas," 
Schomberg groaned with the pain as of a hot coal under 
his breastbone, and gave himself up to desolation. Ah, 
if he only had that girl with him he would have been 
masterful and resolute and fearless— fight twenty desper- 
adoes — care for nobody on earth ! Whereas the posses- 
sion of Mrs. Schomberg was no incitement to a display 
of manly virtues. Instead of caring for no one, he felt 
that he cared for nothing. Life was a hollow sham ; he 
wasn't going to risk a shot through his lungs or his liver 
in order to preserve its integrity. It had no savour — 
damn it ! 

In his state of moral decomposition, Schomberg, master 
as he was of the art of hotel-keeping, and careful of giving 
no occasion for criticism to the powers regulating that 
branch of human activities, let things take their course ; 
though he saw very well where that course was tending. 
It began first with a game or two after dinner — for the 
drinks, apparently — with some lingering customer, at 
one of the little tables ranged against the walls of the 
bilHard-room. Schomberg detected the meaning of it 
at once. That's what it was ! This was what they 
were ! And, moving about restlessly (at that time his 
morose silent period had set in), he cast sidelong looks 
at the game ; but he said nothing. It was not worth 



VICTORY III 

while having a row with men who were so overbearing. 
Even when money appeared in connection with these 
postprandial games, into which more and more people 
were being drawn, he still refrained from raising the 
question ; he was reluctant to draw unduly the attention 
of " plain Mr. Jones " and of the equivocal Ricardo, to 
his person. One evening, however, after the pubhc 
rooms of the hotel had become empty, Schomberg made 
an attempt to grapple with the problem in an indirect way. 

In a distant corner the tired China boy dozed on his 
heels, his back against the wall. Mrs. Schomberg had 
disappeared, as usual, between ten and eleven. Schom- 
berg walked about slowly, in and out of the room and the 
veranda, thoughtful, waiting for his two guests to go to 
bed. Then suddenly he approached them, mihtarily, his 
chest thrown out, his voice curt and soldierly. 

" Hot night, gentlemen." 

Mr. Jones, lolling back idly in a chair, looked up. 
Ricardo, as idle, but more upright, made no sign. 

" Won't you have a drink with me before retiring ? " 
went on Schomberg, sitting down by the httle table. 

" By all means," said Mr. Jones lazily. 

Ricardo showed his teeth in a strange, quick grin. 
Schomberg felt painfully how difficult it was to get in 
touch with these men, both so quiet, so dehberate, so 
menacingly unceremonious. He ordered the Chinaman 
to bring in the drinks. His purpose was to discover how 
long these guests intended to stay. Ricardo displayed 
no conversational vein, but Mr. Jones appeared communi- 
cative enough. His voice somehow matched his sunken 
eyes. It was hollow without being in the least mournful ; 
it sounded distant, uninterested, as though he were speak- 
ing from the bottom of a well. Schomberg learned 
that he would have the privilege of lodging and board- 



112 VICTORY 

ing these gentlemen for at least a month more. He 
could not conceal his discomfiture at this piece of 
news. 

*' What's the matter ? Don't you like to have people 
in your house ? " asked plain Mr. Jones languidly. " I 
should have thought the owner of a hotel would be pleased." 

He lifted his delicate and beautifully pencilled eye- 
brows. Schomberg muttered something about the 
locahty being dull and uninteresting to travellers — nothing 
going on—too quiet altogether ; but he only provoked 
the declaration that quiet had its charms sometimes, 
and even dulness was welcome as a change. 

" We haven't had time to be dull for the last three 
years," added plain Mr. Jones, his eyes fixed darkly on 
Schomberg, whom he furthermore invited to have another 
drink, this time with him, and not to worry himself about 
things he did not understand ; and especially not to be 
inhospitable — which in a hotel-keeper was highly un- 
professional. 

" I don't understand," grumbled Schomberg. " Oh, 
yes, I understand perfectly well. I — " 

" You are frightened," interrupted Mr. Jones. ** What 
is the matter ? " 

" I don't want any scandal in my place. That's what's 
the matter." 

Schomberg tried to face the situation bravely, but that 
steady, black stare affected him. And when he glanced 
aside uncomfortably, he met Ricardo's grin uncovering 
a lot of teeth, though the man seemed absorbed in his 
thoughts all the time. 

" And, moreover," went on Mr. Jones in that distant 
tone of his, ** you can't help yourself. Here we are and 
here we stay. Would you try to put us out ? I dare say 
you could do it ; but you couldn't do it without getting 



VICTORY 113 

badly hurt — very badly hurt. We can promise him that, 
can't we, Martin ? " 

The secretary retracted his lips and looked up sharply 
at Schomberg, as if only too anxious to leap upon him 
with teeth and claws. 

Schomberg managed to produce a deep laugh. 

" Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! " 

Mr. Jones closed his eyes wearily, as if the hght hurt 
them, and looked remarkably like a corpse for a moment. 
This was bad enough ; but when he opened them again, it 
was almost a worse trial for Schomberg's nerves. The 
spectral intensity of that glance, fixed on the hotel-keeper 
(and this was most frightful), without any definite expres- 
sion, seemed to dissolve the last grain of resolution in his 
character. 

" You don't think, by any chance, that you have to do 
with ordinary people, do you ? " inquired Mr. Jones, in his 
lifeless manner, which seemed to imply some sort of menace 
from beyond the grave. 

" He's a gentleman," testified Martin Ricardo with a 
sudden snap of the lips, after which his moustaches stirred 
by themselves in an odd, feHne manner. 

" Oh, I wasn't thinking of that," said plain Mr. Jones, 
while Schomberg, dumb and planted heavily in his chair, 
looked from one to the other, leaning forward a httle. '' Of 
course I am that ; but Ricardo attaches too much im- 
portance to a social advantage. What I mean, for in- 
stance, is that he, quiet and inoffensive as you see him 
sitting here, would think nothing of setting fire to this 
house of entertainment of yours. It would blaze Hke a 
box of matches. Think of that I It wouldn't advance 
your affairs much, would it ? — whatever happened to us." 

" Come, come, gentlemen," remonstrated Schomberg 

in a murmur. " This is very wild talk I " 
8 



114 VICTORY 

" And you have been used to deal with tame people, 
haven't you ? But we aren't tame. We once kept a 
whole angry town at bay for two days, and then we got 
away with our plunder. It was in Venezuela. Ask 
Martin here — he can tell you." 

Instinctively Schomberg looked at Ricardo, who only 
passed the tip of his tongue over his hps with an uncanny 
sort of gusto, but did not offer to begin. 

" Well, perhaps it would be a rather long story," Mr. 
Jones conceded after a short silence. 

*' I have no desire to hear it, I am sure," said Schom- 
berg. " This isn't Venezuela. You wouldn't get away 
from here like that. But all this is silly talk of the worst 
sort. Do you mean to say you would make deadly trouble 
for the sake of a few guilders that you and that other " — 
eyeing Ricardo suspiciously, as one would look at a strange 
animal — " gentleman can win of an evening ? 'Tisn't as 
if my customers were a lot of rich men with pockets full of 
cash. I wonder you take so much trouble and risk for so 
little money." 

Schomberg's argument was met by Mr. Jones's state- 
ment that one must do something to kill time. Killing 
time was not forbidden. For the rest, being in a communi- 
cative mood, Mr. Jones said languidly and in a voice in- 
different, as if issuing from a tomb, that he depended on 
himself, as if the world were still one great, wild jungle 
without law. Martin was something like that, too — for 
reasons of his own. 

All these statements Ricardo confirmed by short, inhuman 
grins. Schomberg lowered his eyes, for the sight of these 
two men intimidated him ; but he was losing patience. 

" Of -Course, I could see at once that you were two desper- 
ate characters — something like what you say. But what 
would you think if I told you that I am pretty near as 



VICTORY 115 

desperate as you two gentlemen ? ' Here's that Schom- 
berg has an easy time running his hotel,' people think ; 
and yet it seems to me I would just as soon let you rip me 
open and burn the whole show as not. There ! " 

A low whistle was heard. It came from Ricardo, and 
was derisive. Schomberg, breathing heavily, looked on 
the floor. He was really desperate. Mr. Jones remained 
languidly sceptical. 

" Tut, tut ! You have a tolerable business. You are 
perfectly tame ; you — " He paused, then added in a tone 
of disgust : " You have a wife." 

Schomberg tapped the floor angrily with his foot and 
uttered an indistinct, laughing curse. 

" What do you mean by fhnging that damned trouble 
at my head ? " he cried. " I wish you would carry her 
off with you somewhere to the devil ! I wouldn't run 
after you." 

The unexpected outburst affected Mr. Jones strangely. 
He had a horrified recoil, chair and all, as if Schomberg 
had thrust a wriggling viper in his face. 

What's this infernal nonsense ? " he muttered thickly 

What do you mean ? How dare you ? " 

Ricardo chuckled audibly. 

" I tell you I am desperate," Schomberg repeated. " I 
am as desperate as any man ever was. I don't care a 
hang what happens to me 1 " 

" Well, then " — Mr. Jones began to speak with a quietly 
threatening effect, as if the common words of daily use had 
some other deadly meaning to his mind — " well, then, why 
should you make yourself ridiculously disagreeable to us ? 
If you don't care, as you say, you might just as well let us 
have the key of that music-shed of yours for a quiet game ; 
a modest bank — a dozen candles or so. It would be 
greatly appreciated by your clients, as far as I can judge 






Ii6 VICTORY 

from the way they betted on a game of ecart^ I had with 
that fair, baby-faced man — what's his name ? They just 
yearn for a modest bank. And I am afraid Martin here 
would take it badly if you objected ; but of course you 
won't. Think of the calls for drinks ! " 

Schomberg, raising his eyes, at last met the gleams in 
two dark caverns under Mr. Jones's devihsh eyebrows, 
directed upon him impenetrably. He shuddered as if 
horrors worse than murder had been lurking there, and said, 
nodding toward Ricardo : 

" I dare say he wouldn't think twice about sticking me, 
if he had you at his back ! I wish I had sunk my launch, 
and gone to the bottom myself in her, before I boarded the 
steamer you came by. Ah, well, I've been already living 
in hell for weeks, so you don't make much difference. I'll 
let you have the concert-room — and hang the consequences. 
But what about the boy on late duty ? If he sees cards and 
actual money passing, he will be sure to blab, and it will be 
all over the town in no time." 

A ghastly smile stirred the lips of Mr. Jones. 

" Ah, I see you want to make a success of it. Very 
good. That's the way to get on. Don't let it disturb you. 
You chase all the Chinamen to bed early, and we'U get 
Pedro here every evening. He isn't the conventional 
waiter's cut, but he will do to run to and fro with the tray, 
while you sit here from nine to eleven serving out drinks 
and gathering the money." 

** There will be three of them now," thought the unlucky 
Schomberg. 

But Pedro, at any rate, was just a simple, straight- 
forward brute, if a murderous one. There was no mystery 
about him, nothing uncanny, no suggestion of a stealthy, 
deliberate wild-cat turned into a man, or of an insolent 
spectre on leave from Hades, endowed with skin and bones 



VICTORY 117 

and a subtle power of terror. Pedro with his fangs, his 
tangled beard and queer stare of his httle bear's eyes was, 
by comparison, delightfully natural. Besides, Schomberg 
could no longer help himself. 

" That will do very well," he assented mournfully. " But 
mind, gentlemen, if you had turned up here only three 
months ago — ay, less than three months ago — you would 
have found somebody very different from what I am now 
to talk to you. It's true. What do you think of 
that ? " 

" I scarcely know what to think. I should think it was 
a Ue. You were probably as tame three months ago as 
you are now. You were born tame, like most people in 
the world." 

Mr. Jones got up spectrally, and Ricardo imitated him 
with a snarl and a stretch. Schomberg, in a brown study, 
went on, as if to himself : 

" There has been an orchestra here — eighteen women." 

Mr. Jones let out an exclamation of dismay, and looked 
about as if the walls around him and the whole house had 
been infected with plague. Then he became very angry, 
and swore violently at Schomberg for daring to bring up 
such subjects. The hotel-keeper was too much surprised 
to get up. He gazed from his chair at Mr. Jones's anger, 
which had nothing spectral in it, but was not the more 
comprehensible for that. 

" What's the matter ? " he stammered out. " What 
subject ? Didn't you hear me say it was an orchestra ? 
There's nothing wrong in that. Well, there was a girl 
amongst them — " Schomberg's eyes went stony ; he 
clasped his hands in front of his breast with such force 
that his knuckles came out white. " Such a girl ! Tame, 
am I ? I would have kicked everything to pieces about 
me for her. And she, of course. ... I am in the prime 



ii8 VICTORY 

of life. . . . Then a fellow bewitched her — a vagabond, a 
false, lying, swindling, underhand, stick-at-nothing brute. 
Ah I " 

His entwined fingers cracked as he tore his hands apart, 
flung out his arms, and leaned his forehead on them in 
a passion of fury. The other two looked at his shaking 
back — the attenuated Mr. Jones with mingled scorn and 
a sort of fear, Ricardo with the expression of a cat which 
sees a piece of fish in the pantry out of reach. Schomberg 
flung himself backwards. He was dry-eyed, but he gulped 
as if swallowing sobs. 

" No wonder you can do with me what you like. You 
have no idea — just let me tell you of my trouble — " 

" I don't want to know anything of your beastly 
trouble," said Mr. Jones, in his most lifelessly positive 
voice. 

He stretched forth an arresting hand, and, as Schomberg 
remained open-mouthed, he walked out of the billiard- 
room in all the uncanniness of his thin shanks. Ricardo 
followed at his leader's heels ; but he showed his teeth 
to Schomberg over his shoulder. 



VI 

FROM that evening dated those mysterious but 
significant phenomena in Schomberg's establishment 
which attracted Captain Davidson's casual notice when 
he dropped in, placid yet astute, in order to return Mrs. 
Schomberg's Indian shawl. And, strangely enough, they 
lasted some considerable time. It argued either honesty 
and bad luck or extraordinary restraint on the part of 
" plain Mr. Jones and Co." in their discreet operations with 
cards. 

It was a curious and impressive sight, the inside of 
Schomberg's concert-hall, encumbered at one end by a 
great stack of chairs piled up on and about the musicians' 
platform, and lighted at the other by two dozen candles 
disposed about a long trestle table covered with green 
cloth. In the middle, Mr. Jones, a starved spectre turned 
into a banker, faced Ricardo, a rather nasty, slow-moving 
cat turned into a croupier. By contrast, the other faces 
round that table, anything between twenty and thirty, 
must have looked Hke collected samples of intensely 
artless, helpless humanity — pathetic in their innocent 
watch for the smaU turns of luck which indeed might 
have been serious enough for them. They had no notice 
to spare for the hairy Pedro, carrying a tray with the 
clumsiness of a creature caught in the woods and taught 
to walk on its hind legs. 

As to Schomberg, he kept out of the way. He remained 

"9 



120 VICTORY 

in the billiard-room, serving out drinks to the unspeakable 
Pedro with an air of not seeing the growling monster, of 
not knowing where the drinks went, of ignoring that 
there was such a thing as a music-room over there under 
the trees within^'fifty yards of the hotel. He submitted 
himself to the situation with a low-spirited stoicism com- 
pounded of fear and resignation. Directly the party had 
broken up (he could see dark shapes of the men drifting 
singly and in knots through the gate of the compound), 
he would withdraw out of sight behind a door not quite 
closed, in order to avoid meeting his two extraordinary 
guests ; but he would watch through the crack their 
contrasted forms pass through the billiard-room and dis- 
appear on their way to bed. Then he would hear doors 
being slammed upstairs ; and a profound silence would 
fall upon the whole house, upon his hotel appropriated, 
haunted by those insolently outspoken men provided with 
a whole armoury of weapons in their trunks. A profound 
silence. Schomberg sometimes could not resist the notion 
that he must be dreaming. Shuddering, he would pull 
himself together, and creep out, with movements strangely 
inappropriate to the Lieutenant-of-the-Reserve bearing 
by which he tried to keep up his self-respect before the 
world. 

A great loneliness oppressed him. One after another 
he would extinguish the lamps, and move softly toward 
his bedroom, where Mrs. Schomberg waited for him — no 
fit companion for a man of his abiUty and '* in the prime 
of life." But that life, alas, was blighted. He felt it ; 
and never with such force as when on opening the door 
he perceived that woman sitting patiently in a chair, her 
toes peeping out under the edge of her night-dress, an 
amazingly small amount of hair on her head drooping 
on the long stalk of scraggy neck, with that everlasting 



VICTORY 121 

scared grin showing a blue tooth and meaning nothing — 
not even real fear. For she was used to him. 

Sometimes he was tempted to screw the head oi^ the 
stalk. He imagined himself doing it — with one hand, 
a twisting movement. Not seriously, of course. Just a 
simple indulgence for his exasperated feelings. He wasn't 
capable of murder. He was certain of that. And, re- 
membering suddenly the plain speeches of Mr. Jones, he 
would think : "I suppose I am too tame for that " — 
quite unaware that he had murdered the poor woman 
morally years ago. He was too unintelligent to have the 
notion of such a crime. Her bodily presence was bitterly 
offensive, because of its contrast with a very different 
feminine image. And it was no use getting rid of her. 
She was a habit of years, and there would be nothing to 
put in her place. At any rate, he could talk to that idiot 
half the night if he chose. 

That night he had been vapouring before her as to his 
intention to face his two guests and, instead of that inspira- 
tion he needed, had merely received the usual warning : 
" Be careful, Wilhelm." He did not want to be told to 
be careful by an imbecile female. What he needed was 
a pair of woman's arms which, flung round his neck, would 
brace him up for the encounter. Inspire him, he called 
it to himself. 

He lay awake a long time ; and his slumbers, when 
they came, were unsatisfactory and short. The morning 
light had no joy for his eyes. He hstened dismally to the 
movements in the house. The Chinamen were unlocking 
and flinging wide the doors of the pubHc rooms which 
opened on the veranda. Horrors ! Another poisoned 
day to get through somehow ! The recollection of his 
resolve made him feel actually sick for a moment. First 
of all the lordly, abandoned attitudes of Mr. Jones dis- 



122 VICTORY 

concerted him. Then there was his contemptuous silence. 
Mr. Jones never addressed himself to Schomberg with any 
general remarks, never opened his hps to him unless to 
say " Good morning " — two simple words which, uttered 
by that man, seemed a mockery of a threatening char- 
acter. And, lastly, it was not a frank physical fear he 
inspired — for, as to that, even a cornered rat will fight — • 
but a superstitious, shrinking awe, something like an 
invincible repugnance to seek speech with a wicked 
ghost. That it was a daylight ghost, surprisingly angular 
in his attitudes, and for the most part spread out on three 
chairs, did not make it any easier. Daylight only made 
him a more weird, a more disturbing and unlawful appari- 
tion. Strangely enough, in the evening, when he came out 
of his mute supineness, this unearthly side of him was less 
obtrusive. At the gaming-table, when actually handling 
the cards, it was probably sunk quite out of sight ; but 
Schomberg, having made up his mind in ostrich-like fashion 
to ignore what was going on, never entered the desecrated 
music-room. He had never seen Mr. Jones in the exercise 
of his vocation — or perhaps it was only his trade. 

" I will speak to him to-night," Schomberg said to him- 
self, while he drank his morning tea, in pajamas, on the 
veranda, before the rising sun had topped the trees of 
the compound, and while the undried dew still lay silvery on 
the grass, sparkled on the blossoms of the central flower- 
bed, and darkened the yellow gravel of the drive. ** That's 
what I'll do. I won't keep out of sight to-night. I shall 
come out and catch him as he goes to bed carrying the 
cash-box." 

After all, what was the fellow but a common desperado ? 
Murderous ? Oh, yes ; murderous enough, perhaps — and 
the muscles of Schomberg's stomach had a quivering con- 
traction under his airy attire. But even a common 



VICTORY 133 

desperado would think twice, or, more likely, a hundred 
times, before openly murdering an inoffensive citizen in a 
civilised, European-ruled town. He jerked his shoulders. 
Of course ! He shuddered again, and paddled back to his 
room to dress himself. His mind was made up, and he 
would think no more about it ; but still he had his doubts. 
They grew and unfolded themselves with the progress of 
the day, as some plants do. At times they made him 
perspire more than usual, and they did away with the 
possibihty of his afternoon siesta. After turning over on 
his couch more than a dozen times, he gave up this mockery 
of repose, got up, and went downstairs. 

It was between three and four o'clock, the hour of 
profound peace. The very flowers seemed to doze on 
their stalks set with sleepy leaves. Not even the air 
stirred, for the sea-breeze was not due till later. The 
servants were out of sight, catching naps in the shade 
somewhere behind the house. Mrs. Schomberg, in a 
dim up-stair room with closed jalousies, was elaborating 
those two long pendant ringlets which were such a feature 
of her hair-dressing for her afternoon duties. At that time 
no customers ever troubled the repose of the estabhshment. 
Wandering about his premises in profound solitude, 
Schomberg recoiled at the door of the bilHard-room, as 
if he had seen a snake in his path. All alone with the 
billiards, the bare little tables, and a lot of untenanted 
chairs, Mr. Secretary Ricardo sat near the wall, performing 
with lightning rapidity something that looked Hke tricks 
with his own personal pack of cards, which he always 
carried about in his pocket. Schomberg would have 
backed out quietly if Ricardo had not turned his head. 
Having been seen, the hotel-keeper elected to walk in 
as the lesser risk of the two. The consciousness of his 
inwardly abject attitude toward these men caused him 



124 VICTORY 

always to throw his chest out and assume a severe expres- 
sion. Ricardo watched his approach, clasping the pack 
of cards in both hands. 

" You want something, perhaps ? " suggested Schom- 
berg in his Lieutenant-of-the-Reserve voice. 

Ricardo shook his head in silence and looked expectant. 
With him Schomberg exchanged at least twenty words every 
day. He was infinitely more communicative than his 
patron. At times he looked very much hke an ordinary 
human being of his class ; and he seemed to be in an 
amiable mood at that moment. Suddenly spreading 
some ten cards face downward in the form of a fan, he 
thrust them toward Schomberg. 

*' Come, man, take one quick ! " 

Schomberg was so surprised that he took one hurriedly, 
after a very perceptible start. The eyes of Martin Ricardo 
gleamed phosphorescent in the half-light of the room 
screened from the heat and glare of the tropics. 

" That's a king of hearts you've got," he chuckled, 
showing his teeth in a quick flash. 

Schomberg, after looking at the card, admitted that 
it was, and laid it down on the table. 

" I can make you take any card I like nine times 
out of ten," exulted the secretary, with a strange curl 
of his lips and a green flicker in his raised eyes. 

Schomberg looked down at him dumbly. For a few 
seconds neither of them stirred; then Ricardo lowered 
his glance, and, opening his fingers, let the whole pack 
fall on the table. Schomberg sat down. He sat down 
because of the faintness in his legs, and for no other 
reason. His mouth was dry. Having sat down, he felt 
that he must speak. He squared his shoulders in parade 
style. 

** You are pretty good at that sort of thing," he said. 



VICTORY 125 

*' Practice makes perfect," replied the secretary. 

His precarious amiability made it impossible for Schom- 
berg to get away. Thus, from his very timidity, the 
hotel-keeper found himself engaged in a conversation 
the thought of which had filled him with apprehension. 
It must be said, in justice to Schomberg, that he concealed 
his funk very creditably. The habit of throwing out his 
chest and speaking in a severe voice stood him in good 
stead. With him, too, practice made perfect ; and he 
would probably have kept it up to the end, to the very last 
moment, to the ultimate instant of breaking strain which 
would leave him grovelling on the floor. To add to his 
secret trouble, he was at a loss what to say. He found 
nothing else but the remark : 

" I suppose you are fond of cards." 

" What would you expect ? " asked Ricardo in a simple, 
philosophical tone. "Is it likely I should not be ? " 
Then, with sudden fire : " Fond of cards ? Ay, passion- 
ately ! " 

The effect of this outburst was augmented by the 
quiet lowering of the eyelids, by a reserved pause as 
though this had been a confession of another kind of 
love. Schomberg cudgelled his brains for a new topic, 
but he could not find one. His usual scandalous gossip 
would not serve this turn. That desperado did not know 
any one anywhere within a thousand miles. Schomberg 
was almost compelled to keep to the subject. 

** I suppose you've always been so — from your early 
youth." 

Ricardo's eyes remained cast down. His fingers toyed 
absently with the pack on the table. 

" I don't know that it was so early. I first got in the 
way of it playing for tobacco — in forecastles of ships, you 
know — common sailor games. We used to spend whole 



126 VICTORY 

watches below at it, round a chest, under a slush lamp. 
We would hardly spare the time to get a bite of salt horse — 
neither eat nor sleep. We could hardly stand when the 
watches were mustered on deck. Talk of gambling ! " 
He dropped the reminiscent tone to add the information, 
" I was bred to the sea from a boy, you know." 

Schomberg had fallen into a reverie, but without losing 
the sense of impending calamity. The next words he 
heard were : 

** I got on all right at sea, too. Worked up to be mate. 
I was mate of a schooner — a yacht, you might call her — 
a special good berth too, in the Gulf of Mexico, a soft job 
that you don't run across more than once in a lifetime. 
Yes, I was mate of her when I left the sea to follow him." 

Ricardo tossed up his chin to indicate the room above ; 
from which Schomberg, his wits painfully aroused by this 
reminder of Mr. Jones's existence, concluded that the latter 
had withdrawn into his bedroom. Ricardo, observing 
him from under lowered eyehds, went on : 

"It so happened that we were shipmates." 

" Mr. Jones, you mean ? Is he a sailor too ? " 

Ricardo raised his eyehds at that. 

"He's no more Mr. Jones than you are," he said with 
obvious pride. "He a sailor ! That just shows your 
ignorance. But there ! A foreigner can't be expected to 
know any better. I am an Englishman, and I know a 
gentleman at sight. I should know one drunk, in the 
gutter, in jail, under the gallows. There's a something 
— it isn't exactly the appearance, it's a — no use me trying 
to tell you. You ain't an EngHshman ; and if you were, 
you wouldn't need to be told." 

An unsuspected stream of loquacity had broken its 
dam somewhere deep within the man, had diluted his 
fiery blood and softened his pitiless fibre. Schomberg 



VICTORY 137 

experienced mingled relief and apprehension, as if suddenly 
an enormous savage cat had begun to wind itself about 
his legs in inexplicable friendliness. No prudent man 
under such circumstances would dare to stir. Schomberg 
didn't stir. Ricardo assumed an easy attitude, with an 
elbow on the table. Schomberg squared his shoulders 
afresh. 

** I was employed, in that there yacht — schooner, what- 
ever you call it — by ten gentlemen at once. That surprises 
you, eh ? Yes, yes, ten. Leastwise there were nine of 
them gents good enough in their way, and one downright 
gentleman, and that was ..." 

Ricardo gave another upward jerk of his chin as much 
as to say : He I The only one. 

" And no mistake," he went on. " I spotted him from 
the first day. How ? Why ? Ay, you may ask. I 
hadn't seen that many gentlemen in my Hfe. Well, some- 
how I did. If you were an Englishman, you would — " 

" What was your yacht ? " Schomberg interrupted as 
impatiently as he dared ; for this harping on nationality 
jarred on his already tried nerves. " What was the 
game ? " 

" You have a headpiece on you ! Game ! 'Xactly. 
That's what it was — the sort of silHness gentlemen will 
get up among themselves to play at adventure. A treasure- 
hunting expedition. Each of them put down so much 
money, you understand, to buy the schooner. Their 
agent in the city engaged me and the skipper. The 
greatest secrecy, and all that. I reckon he had a twinkle 
in his eye all the time — and no mistake. But that wasn't 
our business. Let them bust their money as they like. 
The pity of it was that so little of it came our way. Just 
fair pay, and no more. And damn any pay, much or httle, 
anyhow — that's what I say ! " 



128 VICTORY 

He blinked his eyes greenishly in the dim light. The 
heat seemed to have stilled everything in the world but 
his voice. He swore at large, abundantly, in snarUng 
undertones, it was impossible to say why ; then calmed 
down as inexpHcably and went on, as a sailor yarns. 

** At first there were only nine of them adventurous 
sparks ; then, just a day or two before the sailing date, 
he turned up. Heard of it somehow, somewhere^ — I 
would say from some woman, if I didn't know him as 
I do. He would give any woman a ten-mile berth. He 
can't stand them. Or maybe in a flash bar. Or maybe 
in one of them grand clubs in Pall Mall. Anyway, the 
agent netted him in all right — cash down, and only about 
four and twenty hours for him to get ready ; but he 
didn't miss his ship. Not he ! You might have called it 
a pier-head jump — for a gentleman. I saw him come along. 
Know the West India Docks, eh ? " 

Schomberg did not know the West India Docks. Ricardo 
looked at him pensively for a while, and then continued, 
as if such ignorance had to be disregarded. 

" Our tug was already alongside. Two loafers were 
carrying his dunnage behind him. I told the dockmen 
at our moorings to keep all fast for a minute. The gang- 
way was down already ; but he made nothing of it. Up 
he jumps, one leap, swings his long legs over the rail, 
and there he is on board. They pass up his swell dunnage, 
and he puts his hand in his trousers pocket and throws 
all his small change on the wharf for them chaps to pick 
up. They were still promenading that wharf on all fours 
when we cast off. It was only then that he looked at me 
— quietly, j^ou know ; in a slow way. He wasn't so thin 
then as he is now; but I noticed he wasn't so young as 
he looked — not by a long chalk. He seemed to touch me 
inside somewhere. I went away pretty quick from there ; 



VICTORY 129 

I was wanted forward, anyhow. I wasn't frightened. What 
should I be frightened for ? I only felt touched — on the 
very spot. But Jee-miny, if anybody had told me we should 
be partners before the year was out — well, I would have — " 

He swore a variety of strange oaths, some common, 
others quaintly horrible to Schomberg's ears, and all 
mere innocent exclamations of wonder at the shifts and 
changes of human fortune. Schomberg moved sHghtly 
in his chair. But the admirer and partner of " plain 
Mr. Jones " seemed to have forgotten Schomberg's exist- 
ence for the moment. The stream of ingenuous blasphemy 
— some of it in bad Spanish — had run dry, and Martin 
Ricardo, connoisseur in gentlemen, sat dumb with a stony 
gaze as if still marvelhng inwardly at the amazing elections, 
conjunctions and associations of events which influence 
man's pilgrimage on this earth. 

At last Schomberg spoke tentatively : 

" And so the — the gentleman, up there, talked you over 
into leaving a good berth ? " 

Ricardo started. 

" Talked me over ! Didn't need to talk me over. He 
just beckoned to me, and that was enough. By that time 
we were in the Gulf of Mexico. One night we were lying 
at anchor, close to a dry sandbank — to this day I am not 
sure where it was — off the Colombian coast or thereabouts. 
We were to start digging the next morning, and all hands 
had turned in early, expecting a hard day with the shovels. 
Up he comes, and in his quiet, tired way of speaking — you 
can tell a gentleman by that as much as by anything 
else almost — up he comes behind me and says, just like 
that into my ear, in a manner : ' Well, and what do you 
think of our treasure hunt now ? ' 

" I didn't even turn my head ; 'xactly as I stood, I 
remained, and I spoke no louder than himself : 
9 



130 VICTORY 

"'If you want to know, sir, it's nothing but just damned 
tomfoolery/ 

" We had, of course, been having short talks together 
at one time or another during the passage. I dare say he 
had read me hke a book. There ain't much to me, except 
that I have never been tame, even when walking the 
pavement and cracking jokes and standing drinks to chums 
— ay, and to strangers, too. I would watch them hfting 
their elbows at my expense, or spHtting their sides at my 
fun — I can be funny when I like, you bet ! " 

A pause for self-complacent contemplation of his own 
fun and generosity checked the flow of Ricardo's speech. 
Schomberg was concerned to keep within bounds the 
enlargement of his eyes, which he seemed to feel growing 
bigger in his head. 

" Yes, yes," he whispered hastily. 

" I would watch them and think : ' You boys don't 
know who I am. If you did — ! ' With girls, too. Once 
I was courting a girl. I used to kiss her behind the ear 
and say to myself : ' If you only knew who's kissing you, 
my dear, you would scream and bolt ! ' Ha, ha ! Not 
that I wanted to do them any harm ; but I felt the power 
in myself. Now, here we sit, friendly Hke, and that's all 
right. You aren't in my way. But I am not friendly to 
you. I just don't care. Some men do say that ; but I 
really don't. You are no more to me one way or another 
than that fly there. Just so. I'd squash you or leave you 
alone. I don't care what I do." 

If real force of character consists in overcoming our 
sudden weaknesses, Schomberg displayed plenty of that 
quality. At the mention of the fly, he re-enforced the 
severe dignity of his attitude as one inflates a collapsing 
toy balloon with a great effort of breath. The easy-going, 
relaxed attitude of Ricardo was really appalling. 



VICTORY 131 

" That's so," he went on. "I am that sort of fellow. 
You wouldn't think it, would you ? No. You have to 
be told. So I am telling you, and I dare sa}^ you only half 
beheve it. But you can't say to yourself that I am drunk, 
stare at me as you may. I haven't had anything stronger 
than a glass of iced water all day. Takes a real gentleman 
to see through a fellow. Oh, yes — he spotted me. I told 
you we had a few talks at sea about one thing or another. 
And I used to watch him down the skyhght, playing cards 
in the cuddy with the others. They had to pass the time 
away somehow. By the same token he caught me at it 
once, and it was then that I told him I was fond of cards 
— and generally lucky in gambhng, too. Yes, he had sized 
me up. Why not ? A gentleman's just like any other 
man — and something more." 

It flashed through Schomberg's mind that these two 
were indeed well matched in their enormous dissimilarity, 
identical souls in different disguises. 

" Says he to me " — Ricardo started again in a gossip- 
ing manner — " * I'm packed up. It's about time to go, 
Martin.' 

*' It was the first time he called me Martin. Says I : 

" ' Is that it, sir ? ' 

" ' You didn't think I was after that sort of treasure, 
did you ? I wanted to clear out from home quietly. It's 
a pretty expensive way of getting a passage across, but it 
has served my turn.' 

"I let him know very soon that I was game for any- 
thing, from pitch and toss to wilful murder, in his 
company. 

" * Wilful murder ? ' says he in his quiet way. ' What 
the deuce is that ? What are you talking about ? People 
do get killed sometimes when they get in one's way, but 
that's self-defence — you understand ? ' 



132 VICTORY 

" I told him I did. And then I said I would run below 
for a minute, to ram a few of my things into a sailor's bag 
I had. I've never cared for a lot of dunnage ; I believed 
in going about flying light when I was at sea. I came back 
and found him strolling up and down the deck, as if he were 
taking a breath of fresh air before turning in, like on any 
other evening. 

" ' Ready ? ' 

" ' Yes, sir.' 

" He didn't even look at me. We had had a boat in the 
water astern ever since we came to anchor in the afternoon. 
He throws the stump of his cigar overboard. 

" ' Can you get the captain out on deck ? ' he asks. 

" That was the last thing in the world I should have 
thought of doing. I lost my tongue for a moment. 

" * I can try,' says I. 

** * Well, then, I am going below. You ^tt him up and 
keep him with you till I come back on deck. Mind ! 
Don't let him go below till I return.' 

" I could not help asking why he told me to rouse a 
sleeping man, when we wanted everybody on board to 
sleep sweetly till we got clear of the schooner. He laughs 
a Httle and says that I didn't see all the bearings of this 
business. 

" ' Mind,' he says, ' don't let him leave you till you see 
me come up again . ' He puts his eyes close to mine . * Keep 
him with you at all costs.' 

" ' And that means ? ' says I. 

" * All costs to him — by every possible or impossible 
means. I don't want to be interrupted in my business 
down below. He would give me lots of trouble. I take 
you with me to save myself trouble in various circum- 
stances ; and you've got to enter on your work right 
away.' 



VICTORY 133 

" * Just so, sir/ says I ; and he slips down the com- 
panion. 

** With a gentleman you know at once where you are ; 
but it was a ticklish job. The skipper was nothing to me 
one way or another, any more than you are at this moment, 
Mr. Schomberg. You may light your cigar or blow your 
brains out this minute, and I don't care a hang which you 
do, both or neither. To bring the skipper up was easy 
enough. I had only to stamp on the deck a few times over 
his head. I stamped hard. But how to keep him up 
when he got there ? 

" ' Anything the matter, Mr. Ricardo ? ' I heard his 
voice behind me. 

" There he was, and I hadn't thought of anything to 
say to him ; so I didn't turn around. The moonlight was 
brighter than many a day I could remember in the North 
oea. 

" * Why did you call me ? What are you staring at out 
there, Mr. Ricardo ? ' 

" He was deceived by my keeping my back to him. I 
wasn't staring at anything, but his mistake gave me a 
notion. 

" ' I am staring at something that looks like a canoe 
over there,* I said very slowly. 

" The skipper got concerned at once. It wasn't any 
danger from the inhabitants, whoever they were. 

" ' Oh, hang it ! ' says he. ' That's very unfortunate.' 
He had hoped that the schooner being on the coast would 
not get known so very soon. ' Dashed awkward, with the 
business we've got in hand, to have a lot of niggers watch- 
ing operations. But are you certain this is a canoe ? ' 

" * It may be a drift -log,' I said ; ' but I thought you 
had better have a look with your own eyes. You may 
make it out better than I can.' 



134 VICTORY 

" His eyes weren't anything as good as mine. But he 
says : 

** ' Certainly. Certainly. You did quite right.* 

" And it's a fact I had seen some drift-logs at sunset. I 
saw what they were then and didn't trouble my head 
about them, forgot all about it till that very moment. 
Nothing strange in seeing drift -logs off a coast like that ; 
and I'm hanged if the skipper didn't make one out in the 
wake of the moon. Strange what a little thing a man's 
life hangs on sometimes — a single word ! Here you are, 
sitting unsuspicious before me, and you may let out some- 
thing unbeknown to you that would settle your hash. 
Not that I have any ill-feeling. I have no feelings. If 
the skipper had said, ' Oh, bosh ! ' and had turned his back 
on me, he would not have gone three steps toward his bed ; 
but he stood there and stared. And now the job was to 
get him off the deck when he was no longer wanted there. 

" ' We are just trying to make out if that object there is 
a canoe or a log,' says he to Mr. Jones. 

" Mr. Jones had come up, lounging as carelessly as when 
he went below. While the skipper was jawing about boats 
and drifting logs, I asked by signs, from behind, if I hadn't 
better knock him on the head and drop him quietly over- 
board. The night was slipping by, and we had to go. It 
couldn't be put off till next night no more. No. No 
more. And do you know why ? " 

Schomberg made a shght negative sign with his head. 
This direct appeal annoyed him, jarred on the induced 
quietude of a great talker forced into the part of a listener 
and sunk in it as a man sinks into slumber. Mr. Ricardo 
struck a note of scorn. 

" Don't know why ? Can't you guess ? No ? Be- 
cause the boss had got hold of the skipper's cash-box by 
then. See ? " 



VII 



A COMMON thief ! " 
Schomberg bit his tongue just too late, and woke 
up completely as he saw Ricardo retract his hps in a cat- 
Hke grin ; but the companion of " plain Mr. Jones " 
didn't alter his comfortable, gossiping attitude. 

" Garn ! What if he did want to see his money back, 
like any tame shopkeeper, hash-seller, gin-sHnger, or ink- 
spewer does ? - Fancy a mud-turtle like you trying to 
pass an opinion on a gentleman ! A gentleman isn't to 
be sized up so easily. Even I ain't up to it sometimes. 
For instance, that night, all he did was to waggle his 
finger at me. The skipper stops his silly chatter, surprised. 

" * Eh ? What's the matter ? ' asks he. 

" The matter 1 It was his reprieve — that's what was 
the matter. 

" ' Oh, nothing, nothing,' says my gentleman. * You 
are perfectly right. A log — nothing but a log.' 

" Ha, ha ! Reprieve, I call it, because if the skipper 
had gone on with his silly argument much longer he would 
have had to be knocked out of the way. I could hardly 
hold myself in on account of the precious minutes. How- 
ever, his guardian angel put it into his head to shut up 
and go back to his bed. I was ramping mad about the 
lost time. 

" * Why didn't you let me give him one on his silly 
coconut, sir ? ' I asks. 

135 



136 VICTORY 

" * No ferocity, no ferocity,' he says, raising his finger 
at me as cahn as you please. 

" You can't tell how a gentleman takes that sort of 
thing. They don't lose their temper. It's bad form. 
You'll never see him lose his temper — not for anybody to 
see, anyhow. Ferocity ain't good form, either — that 
much I've learned by this time, and more, too. I've had 
that schooling that you couldn't tell by my face if I meant 
to rip you up the next minute — as of course I could do in 
less than a jiffy. I have a knife up the leg of my trousers." 

** You haven't ! " exclaimed Schomberg incredulously. 

Mr. Ricardo was as quick as lightning in changing his 
lounging, idle attitude for a stooping position, and ex- 
hibiting the weapon with one jerk at the left leg of his 
trousers. Schomberg had just a view of it, strapped to 
a very hairy limb, when Mr. Ricardo, jumping up, stamped 
his foot to get the trouser-leg down, and resumed his 
careless pose with one elbow on the table. 

" It's a more handy way to carry a tool than you would 
think," he went on, gazing abstractedly into Schomberg's 
wide-open eyes. " Suppose some little difference comes 
up during a game. Well, you stoop to pick up a dropped 
card, and when you come up — there you are ready to 
strike, or with the thing up your sleeve ready to throw. 
Or you just dodge under the table when there's some 
shooting coming. You wouldn't believe the damage a 
fellow with a knife under the table can do to ill-con- 
ditioned skunks that want to raise trouble, before they 
begin to understand what the screaming's about, and 
make a bolt — those that can, that is." 

The roses of Schomberg's cheek at the root of his 
chestnut beard faded perceptibly. Ricardo chuckled 
faintly. 

*' But no ferocity — no ferocity ! A gentleman knows. 



VICTORY 137 

What's the good of getting yourself into a state ? And 
no shirking necessity, either. No gentleman ever shirks. 
What I learn I don't forget. Why ! We gambled on 
the plains, with a damn lot of cattlemen in ranches ; 
played fair, mind — and then had to fight for our winnings 
afterwards as often as not. We've gambled on the hills 
and in the valleys and on the seashore, and out of sight 
of land — mostly fair. Generally it's good enough. We 
began in Nicaragua first, after we left that schooner and 
her fool errand. There were one hundred and twenty- 
seven sovereigns and some Mexican dollars in that skipper's 
cash -box. Hardly enough to knock a man on the head 
for from behind, I must confess ; but that the skipper 
had a narrow escape, the governor himself could not deny 
afterwards." 

" ' Do you want me to understand, sir, that you mind 
there being one life more or less on this earth ? ' I asked 
him, a few hours after we got away. 

" ' Certainly not,' says he. 

" ' Well, then, why did you stop me ? ' 

" * There's a proper way of doing things. You'll have 
to learn to be correct. There's also unnecessary exertion. 
That must be avoided, too — if only for the look of the 
thing.' A gentleman's way of putting things to you, — 
and no mistake ! 

" At sunrise we got into a creek, to lie hidden in case 
the treasure-hunt party had a mind to take a spell hunting 
for us. And dash me if they didn't ! We saw the 
schooner away out, running to leeward, with ten pairs 
of binoculars sweeping the sea, no doubt, on all sides. 
I advised the governor to give her time to beat back 
again before we made a start. So we stayed up that creek 
something like ten days, as snug as can be. On the 
seventh day we had to kill a man, though — the brother 



138 VICTORY 

of this Pedro here. They were aUigator-hunters, right 
enough. We got our lodgings in their hut. Neither the 
boss nor I could hahla Espanol — speak Spanish, you know 
— much then. Dry bank, nice shade, jolly hammocks, 
fresh fish, good game, everything lovely. The governor 
chucked them a few dollars to begin with ; but it was like 
boarding with a pair of savage apes, anyhow. By and 
by we noticed them talking a lot together. They had 
twigged the cash-box, and the leather portmanteaus, and 
my bag — a jolly lot of plunder to look at. They must 
have been saying to each other : 

" ' No one's ever likely to come looking for these two 
fellows, who seem to have fallen from the moon. Let's 
cut their throats.' 

" Why, of course ! Clear as dayhght. I didn't need 
to spy one of them sharpening a devilish long knife behind 
some bushes, while glancing right and left with his wild 
eyes, to know what was in the wind. Pedro was standing 
by, trying the edge of another long knife. They thought 
we were away on our lookout at the mouth of the river, 
as was usual with us during the day. Not that we expected 
to see much of the schooner, but it was just as well to 
make certain, if possible ; and then it was cooler out of 
the woods, in the breeze. Well, the governor was there 
right enough, lying comfortable on a rug, where he could 
watch the offing, but I had gone back to the hut to get 
a chew of tobacco out of my bag. I had not broken 
myself of the habit then, and I couldn't be happy unless 
I had a lump as big as a baby's fist in my cheek." 

At the cannibahstic comparison, Schomberg muttered 
a faint sickly " don't." Ricardo hitched himself up in 
his seat and glanced down his outstretched legs com- 
placently. 

" I am tolerably light on my feet, as a general thing," 



VICTORY 139 

he went on. " Dash me if I don't think I could drop a 
pinch of salt on a sparrow's tail, if I tried. Anyhow, 
they didn't hear me. I watched them two brown, hairy 
brutes not ten yards off. All they had on was white 
linen drawers rolled up on their thighs. Not a word they 
said to each other. Antonio was down on his thick hams, 
busy rubbing the knife on a fiat stone ; Pedro was leaning 
against a small tree and passing his thumb along the 
edge of his blade. I got away quieter than a mouse, you 
bet. 

" I didn't say anything to the boss then. He was 
leaning on his elbow on his rug, and didn't seem to want 
to be spoken to. He's hke that — sometimes that famihar 
you might think he would eat out of your hand, and at 
others he would snub 5^ou sharper than a devil — but 
always quiet. Perfect gentleman, I tell you. I didn't 
bother him then ; but I wasn't hkely to forget them two 
fellows, so business-like with their knives. At that time 
we had only one revolver between us two — the governor's 
six-shooter, but loaded only in five chambers ; and we 
had no more cartridges. He had left the box behind in 
a drawer in his cabin. Awkward ! I had nothing but 
an old clasp-knife — no good at all for anything serious. 

" In the evening we four sat round a bit of fire outside 
the sleeping-shed, eating broiled fish off plantain leaves, 
with roast yams for bread — the usual thing. The governor 
and I were on one side, and these two beauties cross-legged 
on the other, grunting a word or two to each other now and 
then, hardly human speech at all, and their eyes down, 
fast on the ground. For the last three days we couldn't 
get them to look us in the face. Presently I began to talk 
to the boss quietly, just as I am talking to you now, care- 
less hke, and I told him all I had observed. He goes on 
picking up pieces of fish and putting them into his mouth 



140 VICTORY 

as calm as anything. It's a pleasure to have anything to 
do with a gentleman. Never looked across at them once. 

" ' And now,' says I, yawning on purpose, ' we've got 
to stand watch at night, turn about, and keep our eyes 
skinned all day, too, and mind we don't get jumped upon 
suddenly.' 

*' ' It's perfectly intolerable,' says the governor. ' And 
you with no weapon of any sort ! ' 

"' I mean to stick pretty close to you, sir, from this on, 
if you don't mind,' says I. 

" He just nods the least bit, wipes his fingers on the 
plantain leaf, puts his hand behind his back, as if to help 
himself to rise from the ground, snatches his revolver from 
under his jacket, and plugs a bullet plumb centre into Mr. 
Antonio's chest. See what it is to have to do with a gentle- 
man. No confounded fuss, and things done out of hand. 
But he might have tipped me a wink or something. I 
nearly jumped out of my skin. Scared ain't in it! I 
didn't even know who had fired. Everything had been 
so still just before that the bang of the shot seemed the 
loudest noise I had ever heard. The honourable Antonio 
pitches forward — they always do, towards the shot ; you 
must have noticed that yourself — yes, he pitches forward 
on to the embers, and all that lot of hair on his face and 
head flashes up like a pinch of gunpowder. Greasy, I 
expect ; always scraping the fat off them alligators* 
hides—" 

" Look here," exclaimed Schomberg violently, as if 
trying to burst some invisible bonds, " do you mean to 
say that all this happened ? " 

** No," said Ricardo coolly. " I am making it all up as 
I go along, just to help you through the hottest part of 
the afternoon. So down he pitches, his nose on the red 
embers, and up jumps our handsome Pedro and I at the 



VICTORY 141 

same time, like two Jacks-in-the-box. He starts to bolt 
away, with his head over his shoulder, and I, hardly 
knowing what I was doing, spring on his back. I had 
the sense to get my hands round his neck at once, and it's 
about all I could do to lock my fingers tight under his jaw. 
You saw the beauty's neck, didn't you ? Hard as iron, 
too. Down we both went. Seeing this, the governor puts 
his revolver in his pocket. 

" ' Tie his legs together, sir,' I yell. ' I'm trying to 
strangle him.' 

" There was a lot of their fibre-lines lying about. I 
gave him a last squeeze and then got up. 

" ' I might have shot you,' says the governor, quite 
concerned. 

" * But you are glad to have saved a cartridge, sir,' I 
tell him. 

" My jump did save it. It wouldn't have done to let 
him get away in the dark hke that, and have the beauty 
dodging around in the bushes, perhaps, with the rusty 
flint-lock gun they had. The governor owned up that the 
jump was the correct thing. 

" ' But he isn't dead,' says he, bending over him. 

" Might as well hope to strangle an ox. We made haste 
to tie his elbows back, and then, before he came to himself, 
we dragged him to a small tree, sat him up, and bound him 
to it, not by the waist but by the neck — some twenty 
turns of small Hne round his throat and the trunk, finished 
off with a reef-knot under his ear. Next thing we did was 
to attend to the honourable Antonio, who was making 
a great smell frizzling his face on the red coals. We 
pushed and rolled him into the creek, and left the rest to 
the alligators. 

** I was tired. That little scrap took it out of me some- 
thing awful. The governor hadn't turned a hair. That's 



142 VICTORY 

where a gentleman has the pull of you. He don't get ex- 
cited. No gentleman does — or hardly ever. I fell asleep 
all of a sudden and left him smoking by the fire I had made 
up, his railway rug round his legs, as calm as if he were 
sitting in a first-class carriage. We hardly spoke ten words 
to each other after it was over, and from that day to this 
we have never talked of the business. I wouldn't have 
known he remembered it if he hadn't alluded to it when 
talking with you the other day — you know, with regard 
to Pedro. 

" It surprised you, didn't it ? That's why I am giving 
you this yarn of how he came to be with us, Hke a sort of 
dog — dashed sight more useful, though. You know how 
he can trot around with trays ? Well, he could bring 
down an ox with his fist, at a word from the boss, just 
as cleverly. And fond of the governor ! Oh, my word ! 
More than any dog is of any man." 

Schomberg squared his chest. 

" Oh, and that's one of the things I wanted to mention 
to Mr. Jones," he said. " It's unpleasant to have that 
fellow round the house so early. He sits on the stairs at 
the back for hours before he is needed here, and frightens 
people so that the service suffers. The Chinamen — " 

Ricardo nodded and raised his hand. 

" When I first saw him he was fit to frighten a grizzly 
bear, let alone a Chinaman. He's become civihsed now 
to what he once was. Well, that morning, first thing on 
opening my eyes, I saw him sitting there, tied up by the 
neck to the tree. He was bhnking. We spent the day 
watching the sea, and we actually made out the schooner 
working to windward, which showed that she had given 
us up. Good ! When the sun rose again, I took a squint 
at our Pedro. He wasn't blinking. He was rolling his eyes, 
all white one minute and black the next, and his tongue 



I 



VICTORY 143 

was hanging out a yard. Being tied up short by the neck 
like this would daunt the arch devil himself — in time — in 
time, mind ! I don't know but that even a real gentleman 
would find it difficult to keep a stiff lip to the end. Pre- 
sently we went to work getting our boat ready. I was 
busying myself setting up the mast, when the governor 
passes the remark : 

" ' 1 think he wants to say something.' 

" I had heard a sort of croaking going on for some time, 
only I wouldn't take any notice ; but then I got out of the 
boat and went up to him, with some water. His eyes were 
red — red and black and half out of his head. He drank 
all the water I gave him, but he hadn't much to say for 
himself. I walked back to the governor. 

" ' He asks for a bullet in his head before we go,' I said. 
I wasn't at all pleased. 

" ' Oh, that's out of the question altogether,' says the 
governor. 

*' He was right there. Only four shots left, and ninety 
miles of wild coast to put behind us before coming to the 
first place where you could expect to buy revolver cart- 
ridges. 

" * Anyhow,' I tells him, * he wants to be killed some 
way or other, as a favour.' 

" And then I go on setting the boat's mast. I didn't 
care much for the notion of butchering a man bound hand 
and foot and fastened by the neck besides. I had a knife 
then — the honourable Antonio's knife ; and that knife is 
this knife." 

Ricardo gave his leg a resounding slap. 

" First spoil in my new Hfe," he went on with harsh 
joviahty. ** The dodge of carrying it down there I learned 
later. I carried it stuck in my belt that day. No, I 
hadn't much stomach for the job ; but when you work 



144 VICTORY 

with a gentleman of the real right sort you may depend 
on your feelings being seen through your skin. Says the 
governor suddenly : 

'* * It may even be looked upon as his right * — you 
hear a gentleman speaking there ? — * but what do you 
think of taking him with us in the boat ? ' 

" And the governor starts arguing that the beggar would 
be useful in working our way along the coast. We could 
get rid of him before coming to the first place that was a 
little civilised. I didn't want much talking over. Out I 
scrambled from the boat. 

" * Ay, but will he be manageable, sir ? ' 

" ' Oh, yes. He's daunted. Go on, cut him loose 
— I take the responsibility.' 

" * Right you are, sir.* 

" He sees me come along smartly with his brother's 
knife in my hand — I wasn't thinking how it looked from 
his side of the fence, you know — and jiminy, it nearly 
killed him ! He stared like a crazed bullock and began 
to sweat and twitch all over, something amazing. I was 
so surprised that I stopped to look at him. The drops 
were pouring over his eyebrows, down his beard, off his 
nose — and he gurgled. Then it struck me that he couldn't 
see what was in my mind. By favour or by right he 
didn't like to die when it came to it ; not in that way, any- 
how. When I stepped round to get at the lashing, he let 
out a sort of soft bellow. Thought I was going to stick 
him from behind, I guess. I cut all the turns with one slash, 
and he went over on his side, flop, and started kicking 
with his tied legs. Laugh ! I don't know what there was 
so funny about it, but I fairly shouted. What between my 
laughing and his wrigghng, I had a job in cutting him free. 
As soon as he could feel his Hmbs he makes for the bank, 
where the governor was standing, crawls up to him on his 



VICTORY 145 

hands and knees, and embraces his legs. Gratitude, eh ? 
You could see that being allowed to live suited that chap 
down to the ground. The governor gets his legs away 
from him gently and just mutters to me : 

" ' Let's be off. Get him into the boat.' 

" It was not difficult," continued Ricardo, after eyeing 
Schomberg fixedly for a moment. " He was ready enough 
to get into the boat, and — here he is. He would let himself 
be chopped into small pieces — with a smile, mind ; with a 
smile ! — for the governor. I don't know about him doing 
that much for me ; but pretty near, pretty near. I did 
the tying up and the untying, but he could see who was 
the boss. And then he knows a gentleman. A dog knows 
a gentleman — any dog. It's only some foreigners that 
don't know ; and nothing can teach them, either." 

" And you mean to say," asked Schomberg, disregarding 
what might have been annoying for himself in the emphasis 
of the final remark, " you mean to say that you left steady 
employment at good wages for a life like this ? " 

" There ! " began Ricardo quietly. " That's just what 
a man hke you would say. You are that tame ! I follow 
a gentleman. That ain't the same thing as to serve an 
employer. They give you wages as they'd fling a bone 
to a dog, and they expect you to be grateful. It's worse 
than slavery. You don't expect a slave that's bought for 
money to be grateful. And if you sell your work — what is 
it but selling your own self ? You've got so many days to 
live and you sell them one after another. Hey ? Who 
can pay me enough for my hfe ? Ay ! But they throw 
at you your week's money and expect you to say, ' thank 
you ' before you pick it up." 

He mumbled some curses, directed at employers generally, 

as it seemed, then blazed out : 

" Work be damned ! I ain't a dog walking on its 
10 



146 VICTORY 

hind legs for a bone ; I am a man who's following a gentle- 
man. There's a difference which you will never under- 
stand, Mr. Tame Schomberg." 

He yawned slightly. Schomberg, preserving a military 
stiffness reinforced by a shght frown, had allowed his 
thoughts to stray away. They were busy detailing the 
image of a young girl — absent — gone — stolen from him. 
He became enraged. There was that rascal looking at 
him insolently. If the girl had not been shamefully 
decoyed away from him, he would not have allowed 
any one to look at him insolently. He would have made 
nothing of hitting that rogue between the eyes. After- 
wards he would have kicked the other without hesitation. 
He saw himself doing it ; and in sympathy with this 
glorious vision Schomberg 's right foot and right arm 
moved convulsively. 

At this moment he came out of his sudden reverie to 
note with alarm the wide-awake curiosity of Mr. Ricardo's 
stare. 

" And so you go like this about the world, gambling," 
he remarked inanely, to cover his confusion. But Ricardo's 
stare did not change its character, and he continued 
vaguely : 

" Here and there and everywhere." He pulled him- 
self together, squared his shoulders. " Isn't it very 
precarious ? " he said firmly. 

The word precarious semed to be effective, because 
Ricardo's eyes lost their dangerously interested expression. 

" No, not so bad," Ricardo said, with indifference. 
"It's my opinion that men will gamble as long as they 
have anything to put on a card. Gamble ? That's nature. 
What's life itself ? You never know what may turn up. 
The worst of it is that you never can tell exactly what sort 
of cards you are holding yourself. What's trumps ? — 



VICTORY 147 

that is the question. See ? Any man will gamble if only 
he's given a chance, for anything or everything. You 
too—" 

" I haven't touched a card now for twenty years/' 
said Schomberg in an austere tone. 

" Well, if you got your living that way you would be no 
worse than you are now, selling drinks to people — beastly 
beer and spirits, rotten stuff fit to make an old he-goat 
yell if you poured it down its throat. Pooh ! I can't 
stand the confounded liquor. Never could. A whiff of neat 
brandy in a glass makes me feel sick. Always did. If 
everybody was like me, liquor would be going a-begging. 
You think it's funny in a man, don't you ? " 

Schomberg made a vague gesture of toleration. Ricardo 
hitched up in his chair and settled his elbow afresh on the 
table. 

" French siros I must say I do hke. Saigon's the 
place for them. I see you have siros in the bar. Hang 
me if I ain't getting dry, conversing hke this with you. 
Come, Mr. Schomberg, be hospitable, as the governor 
says." 

Schomberg rose and walked with dignity to the counter. 
His footsteps echoed loudly on the floor of pohshed boards. 
He took down a bottle labelled Strop de Groseille. The 
little sounds he made, the chnk of glass, the gurghng of 
the hquid, the pop of the soda-water cork had a preter- 
natural sharpness. He came back carrying a pink and 
glistening tumbler. Mr. Ricardo had followed his move- 
ments with oblique, coyly expectant yellow eyes, like 
a cat watching the preparation of a saucer of milk ; and 
the satisfied sound after he had drunk might have been 
a slightly modified form of purring, very soft and deep in 
his throat. It affected Schomberg unpleasantly as another 
example of something inhuman in those men wherein lay 



148 VICTORY 

the difficulty of dealing with them. A spectre, a cat, 
an ape — there was a pretty association for a mere man to 
remonstrate with, he reflected with an inward shudder ; 
for Schomberg had been overpowered, as it were, by his 
imagination, and his reason could not react against that 
fanciful view of his guests. And it was not only their 
appearance. The morals of Mr. Ricardo seemed to him 
to be pretty much the morals of a cat. Too much. 
What sort of argument could a mere man offer to a . . . 
or to a spectre, either ! What the morals of a spectre could 
be, Schomberg had no idea. Something dreadful, no 
doubt. Compassion certainly had no place in them. As 
to the ape — well, everybody knew what an ape was. It 
had no morals. Nothing could be more hopeless. 

Outwardly, however, having picked up the cigar which 
he had laid aside to get the drink, with his thick fingers, 
one of them ornamented by a gold ring, Schomberg smoked 
with moody composure. Facing him, Ricardo blinked 
slowly for a time, then closed his eyes altogether, with the 
placidity of the domestic cat dozing on the hearth-rug. 
In another moment he opened them very wide, and seemed 
surprised to see Schomberg there. 

" You're having a very slack time to-day, aren't you ? " 
he observed. " But then this whole town is confoundedly 
slack, anyhow ; and I've never faced such a slack party 
at a table before. Come eleven o'clock, they begin to talk 
of breaking up. What's the matter with them ? Want 
to go to bed so early, or what ? " 

" I reckon you don't lose a fortune by their wanting 
to go to bed," said Schomberg, with sombre sarcasm. 

"No," admitted Ricardo, with a grin that stretched 
his thin mouth from ear to ear, giving a sudden glimpse 
of his white teeth. " Only, you see, when I once start, I 
would play for nuts, for parched peas, for any rubbish. I 



{t 
n 



VICTORY 149 

would play them for their souls. But these Dutchmen 
aren't any good. They never seem to get warmed up 
properly, win or lose. I've tried them both ways, too. 
Hang them for a beggarly, bloodless lot of animated 
cucumbers ! " 

" And if anything out of the way was to happen, they 
would be just as cool in locking you and your gentleman 
up," Schomberg snarled unpleasantly. 

" Indeed ! " said Ricardo slowly, taking Schomberg' s 
measure with his eyes. " And what about you ? " 

You talk mighty big," burst out the hotel-keeper. 

You talk of ranging all over the world, and doing great 
things, and taking fortune by the scruff of the neck, but 
here you stick at this miserable business 1 " 

" It isn't much of a lay — that's a fact," admitted 
Ricardo unexpectedly. 

Schomberg was red in the face with audacity. 

" I caU it paltry," he spluttered. 

" That's how it looks. Can't call it anything else." 
Ricardo seemed to be in an accommodating mood. " I 
should be ashamed of it myself, only you see the governor 
is subject to fits — " 

" Fits ! " Schomberg cried out, but in a low tone. 
" You don't say so ! " He exulted inwardly, as if this 
disclosure had in some way diminished the difficulty 
of the situation. " Fits ! That's a serious thing, isn't 
it ? You ought to take him to the civil hospital — a 
lovely place." 

Ricardo nodded slightly, with a faint grin. 

" Serious enough. Regular fits of laziness, I call them. 
Now and then he lays down on me like this, and there's 
no moving him. If you think I Hke it, you're a long way 
out. Generally speaking, I can talk him over. I know 
how to deal with a gentleman. I am no daily-bread slave. 



150 VICTORY 

But when he has said, * Martin, I am bored,' then look out ! 
There's nothing to do but to shut up, confound it ! " 

Schomberg, very much cast down, had listened open- 
mouthed. 

" What's the cause of it ? " he asked. " Why is he 
like this ? I don't understand." 

" I think I do," said Ricardo. " A gentleman, you 
know, is not such a simple person as you or I ; and not 
so easy to manage, either. If only I had something to 
ever him out with ! " 

" What do you mean, to lever him out with ? " muttered 
Schomberg hopelessly. 

Ricardo was impatient with this denseness. 

" Don't you understand English ? Look here ! I 
louldn't make this billiard table move an inch if I talked 
to it from now till the end of days — could I ? Well, the 
governor is Hke that, too, when the fits are on him. He's 
bored. Nothing's worth while, nothing's good enough, 
that's mere sense. But if I saw a capstan bar lying about 
here, I would soon manage to shift that billiard table of 
yours a good many inches. And that's aU there is to it." 

He rose noiselessly, stretched himself, supple and 
stealthy, with curious sideways movements of his head 
and unexpected elongations of his thick body, glanced 
out of the corners of his eyes in the direction of the door, 
and finally leaned back against the table, folding his arms 
on his breast comfortably, in a completely human attitude. 

" That's another thing you can tell a gentleman by 
— ^his freakishness. A gentleman ain't accountable to 
nobody, any more than a tramp on the roads. He ain't 
got to keep time. The governor got like this once in a 
one-horse Mexican pueblo on the uplands, away from 
everywhere. He lay all day long in a dark room — " 

" Drunk ? " This word escaped Schomberg by in- 



VICTORY 151 

advertence, at which he became frightened. But the 
devoted secretary seemed to find it natural. 

" No, that never comes on together with this kind of 
fit. He just lay there full length on a mat, while a ragged, 
bare-legged boy that he had picked up in the street sat in 
the patio, between two oleanders near the open door of his 
room, strumming on a guitar and singing tristes to him 
from morning to night. You know tristes — twang, twang, 
twang, aouh, hoo ! Chroo, yah ! " 

Schomberg uplifted his hands in distress. This tribute 
seemed to flatter Ricardo. His mouth twitched grimly. 

" Like that — enough to give colic to an ostrich, eh ? 
Awful. Well, there was a cook there who loved me — 
an old, fat negro woman with spectacles. I used to 
hide in the kitchen and turn her to, to make me dulces 
— sweet things, you know, mostly eggs and sugar — to 
pass the time away. I am like a kid for sweet things. 
And, by the way, why don't you ever have a pudding 
at your tablydott, Mr. Schomberg ? Nothing but fruit, 
morning, noon, and night. Sickening ! What do you 
think a fellow is — a wasp ? " 

Schomberg disregarded the injured tone. 

" And how long did that fit, as you call it, last ? " he 
asked anxiously. 

'* Weeks, months, years, centuries, it seemed to me," 
returned Mr. Ricardo with feeling. "Of an evening the 
governor would stroll out into the sola and fritter his life 
away playing cards with the jtiez of the place — a little 
Dago with a pair of black whiskers — ekarty, you know, a 
quick French game, for small change. And the contandante, 
a one-eyed, half-Indian, flat-nosed ruffian and I, we had 
to stand around and bet on their hands. It was awful ! " 

" Awful," echoed Schomberg in a Teutonic throaty 
tone of despair. " Look here, I need your rooms," 



152 VICTORY 

"To be sure. I have been thinking that for some time 
past," said Ricardo indifferently. 

" I was mad when I listened to you. This must end I " 

" I think you are mad yet," said Ricardo, not even 
unfolding his arms or shifting his attitude an inch. He 
lowered his voice to add : " And if I thought you had been 
to the police, I would tell Pedro to catch you round the 
waist and break your fat neck by jerking your head back- 
ward — snap ! I saw him do it to a big buck nigger who 
was flourishing a razor in front of the governor. It can be 
done. You hear a low crack, that's all — and the man 
drops down like a limp rag." 

Not even Ricardo's head, slightly inclined on the left 
shoulder, had moved ; but when he ceased the greenish 
irises which had been staring out of doors glided into the 
corners of his eyes nearest to Schomberg and stayed there 
with a coyly voluptuous expression. 



VIII 



SCHOMBERG felt desperation, that lamentable sub- 
stitute for courage, ooze out of him. It was not 
so much the threat of death as the weirdly circumstantial 
manner of its declaration which affected him. A mere 
" I'll murder you," however ferocious in tone and earnest 
in purpose, he could have faced ; but before this novel 
mode of speech and procedure, his imagination being very 
sensitive to the unusual, he collapsed as if indeed his moral 
neck had been broken — snap ! 

" Go to the police ? Of course not. Never dreamed 
of it. Too late now. I've let myself be mixed up in this. 
You got my consent while I wasn't myself. I explained 
it to you at the time." 

Ricardo's eyes glided gently off Schomberg to stare 
far away. 

" Ay ! Some trouble with a girl. But that's nothing 
to us." 

" Naturally. What I say is, what's the good of all 
that savage talk to me ? " A bright argument occurred 
to him. " It's out of proportion ; for even if I were fool 
enough to go to the police now, there's nothing serious to 
complain about. It would only mean deportation for you. 
They would put you on board the first west-bound steamer 
to Singapore." He had become animated. " Out of 
this to the devil," he added between his teeth for his own 
private satisfaction. 

IS3 



154 VICTORY 

Ricardo made no comment, and gave no sign of having 
heard a single word. This discouraged Schomberg, who 
had looked up hopefully. 

" Why do you want to stick here ? " he cried. " It 
can't pay you people to fool around like this. Didn't 
you worry just now about moving your governor ? Well, 
the police would move him for you ; and from Singapore 
you can go on to the east coast of Africa." 

" I'll be hanged if the fellow isn't up to that silly 
trick ! " was Ricardo's comment, spoken in an ominous 
tone which recalled Schomberg to the realities of his 
position. 

" No I No ! " he protested. " It's a manner of speak- 
ing. Of course I wouldn't." 

" I think that trouble about the girl has really muddled 
your brains, Mr. Schomberg. Believe me, you had better 
part friends with us ; for, deportation or no deportation, 
you'll be seeing one of us turning up before long to pay you 
oil for any nasty dodge you may be hatching in that fat 
head of yours." 

" Gott im Himmel ! " groaned Schomberg. " Will 
nothing move him out ? Will he stop here immer — 
I mean always ? Suppose I were to make it worth your 
while, couldn't you — " 

" No," Ricardo interrupted. " I couldn't, unless I 
had something to lever him out with. I've told you 
that before." 

" An inducement ? " muttered Schomberg. 

" Ay. The east coast of Africa isn't good enough. 
He told me the other day that it will have to wait till 
he is ready for it ; and he may not be ready for a long 
time, because the east coast can't run away, and no one 
is hkely to run off with it." 

These remarks, whether considered as truisms or as 



VICTORY 155 

depicting Mr. Jones's mental state, were distinctly dis- 
couraging to the long-suffering Schomberg ; but there is 
truth in the well-known sajang that places the darkest 
hour before the dawn. The sound of words, apart from 
the context, has its power ; and these two words, " run 
off," had a special affinity to the hotel-keeper's haunting 
idea. It was always present in his brain, and now it came 
forward evoked by a purely fortuitous expression. No, 
nobody could run off with a continent ; but Heyst had run 
off with the girl ! 

Ricardo could have had no conception of the cause 
of Schomberg's changed expression. Yet it was noticeable 
enough to interest him so much that he stopped the careless 
swinging of his leg and said, looking at the hotel-keeper : 

" There's not much use arguing against that sort of 
talk— is there ? " 

Schomberg was not listening. 

" I could put you on another track," he said slowly, 
and stopped, as if suddenly choked by an unholy emotion 
of intense eagerness combined with fear of failure. 
Ricardo waited, attentive, yet not without a certain 
contempt. 

" On the track of a man ! " Schomberg uttered con- 
vulsively, and paused again, consulting his rage and 
his conscience. 

" The man in the moon, eh ? " suggested Ricardo, in 
a jeering murmur. 

Schomberg shook his head. 

** It would be nearly as safe to rook him as if he were 
the man in the moon. You go and try. It isn't so very 
far." 

He reflected. These men were thieves and murderers 
as well as gamblers. Their fitness for purposes of 
vengeance was appallingly complete. But he preferred 



156 VICTORY 

not to think of it in detail. He put it to himself sum- 
marily that he would be paying Heyst out and would, 
at the same time, relieve himself of these men's oppression. 
He had only to let loose his natural gift for talking 
scandalously about his fellow creatures. And in this case 
his great practice in it was assisted by hate, which, like 
love, has an eloquence of its own. With the utmost ease 
he portrayed for Ricardo, now seriously attentive, a Heyst 
fattened by years of private and public rapines, the 
murderer of Morrison, the swindler of many shareholders, 
a wonderful mixture of craft and impudence, of deep pur- 
poses and simple wiles, of mystery and futihty. In this 
exercise of his natural function Schomberg revived, the 
colour coming back to his face, loquacious, florid, eager, 
his manliness set off by the military bearing. 

" That's the exact story. He was seen hanging about 
this part of the world for years, spying into everybody's 
business ; but I am the only one who has seen through 
him from the first — contemptible, double-faced, stick-at- 
nothing, dangerous fellow." 

" Dangerous, is he ? " 

Schomberg came to himself at the sound of Ricardo 's 
voice. 

" Well, you know what I mean," he said uneasily. 
" A lying, circumventing, soft-spoken, polite, stuck-up 
rascal. Nothing open about him." 

Mr. Ricardo had slipped off the table, and was prowhng 
about the room in an oblique, noiseless manner. He 
flashed a grin at Schomberg in passing, and a snarling : 

" Ah ! H'm ! " 

** Well, what more dangerous do you want ? " argued 
Schomberg. "He's in no way a fighting man, I believe," 
he added negligently. 

" And you say he has been living alone there ? " 



VICTORY 157 

" Like the man in the moon," answered Schomberg 
readily. " There's no one that cares a rap what becomes 
of him. He has been lying low, you understand, after 
bagging all that plunder." 

" Plunder, eh ? Why didn't he go home with it ? " 
inquired Ricardo. 

The henchman of " plain Mr. Jones " was beginning 
to think that this was something worth looking into. 
And he was pursuing truth in the manner of men of 
sounder morality and purer intentions than his own ; 
that is he pursued it in the light of his own experience 
and prejudices. For facts, whatever their origin (and 
God only knows where they come from), can be only 
tested by our own particular suspicions. Ricardo was 
suspicious all round. Schomberg, such is the tonic power 
of recovered self-esteem, Schomberg retorted fearlessly : 

" Go home ? Why don't you go home ? To hear 
your talk, you must have made a pretty considerable 
pile going round winning people's money. You ought 
to be ready by this time." 

Ricardo stopped to look at Schomberg with surprise. 

" You think yourself very clever, don't you ? " he said. 

Schomberg just then was so conscious of being clever 
that the snarling irony left him unmoved. There was 
positively a smile in his noble Teutonic beard, the first 
smile for weeks. He was in a felicitous vein. 

" How do you know that he wasn't thinking of going 
home ? As a matter of fact, he was on his way home." 

" And how do I know that you are not amusing yourself 
by spinning out a blamed fairy tale ? " interrupted Ricardo 
roughly. " I wonder at myself listening to the silly 
rot ! " 

Schomberg received this turn of temper unmoved. He 
did not require to be very subtly observant to notice that 



158 VICTORY 

he had managed to arouse some sort of feeling, perhaps 
of greed, in Ricardo's breast. 

" You won't believe me ? Well ! You can ask any- 
body that comes here if that — that Swede hadn't got 
as far as this house on his way home. Why should he 
turn up here if not for that ? You ask anybody." 

" Ask, indeed ! " returned the other. " Catch me ask- 
ing at large about a man I mean to drop on ! Such jobs 
must be done on the quiet — or not at all." 

The peculiar intonation of the last phrase touched 
the nape of Schomberg's neck with a chill. He cleared 
his throat slightly and looked away as though he had 
heard something indelicate. Then, with a jump as it 
were : 

" Of course he didn't tell me. Is it likely ? But 
haven't I got eyes ? Haven't I got my common sense 
to tell me ? I can see through people. By the same 
token, he called on the Tesmans. Why did he call on 
the Tesmans two days running, eh ? You don't know ? 
You can't tell ? " 

He waited complacently till Ricardo had finished 
swearing quite openly at him for a confounded chatterer, 
and then went on : 

" A fellow doesn't go to a counting-house in business 
hours for a chat about the weather, two days running. 
Then why ? To close his account with them one day, 
and to get his money out the next ! Clear, what ? " 

Ricardo, with his trick of looking one way and moving 
another, approached Schomberg slowly. # 

" To get his money ? " he purred. 

" Gewiss," snapped Schomberg with impatient superi- 
ority. " What else ? That is, only the money he had 
with the Tesmans. What he has buried or put away on 
the island, devil only knows. When you think of the 



VICTORY 159 

lot of hard cash that passed through that man's hands, 
for wages and stores and all that — and he's just a cunning 
thief, I tell you." Ricardo's hard stare discomposed the 
hotel-keeper, and he added in an embarrassed tone : "I 
mean a common, sneaking thief — no account at all. And 
he calls himself a Swedish baron, too ! Tfui ! " 

" He's a baron, is he ? That foreign nobility ain't 
much," commented Mr. Ricardo seriously. " And then 
what ? He hung about here." 

" Yes, he hung about," said Schomberg, making a wry 
mouth. " He — hung about. That's it. Hung — " 

His voice died out. Curiosity was depicted in Ricardo's 
countenance. 

" Just like that ; for nothing ? And then turned about 
and went back to that island again ? " 

" And went back to that island again," Schomberg 
echoed lifelessly, fixing his gaze on the floor. 

" What's the matter with you ? " asked Ricardo with 
genuine surprise. " What is it ? " 

Schomberg, without looking up, made an impatient 
gesture. His face was crimson, and he kept it lowered. 
Ricardo went back to the point. 

" Well, but how do you account for it ? What was 
his reason ? What did he go back to the island for ? " 

" Honeymoon ! " spat out Schomberg viciously. 

Perfectly still, his eyes downcast, he suddenly, with 
no preliminary stir, hit the table with his fist a blow which 
caused the utterly unprepared Ricardo to leap aside. 
And only then did Schomberg look up with a dull, re- 
sentful expression. 

Ricardo stared hard for a moment, spun on his heel, 
walked to the end of the room, came back smartly and 
muttered a profound " Ay ! Ay ! " above Schomberg's 
rigid head. That the hotel-keeper was capable of a great 



i6o VICTORY 

moral effort was proved by a gradual return of his severe, 
Lieutenant-of-the-Reserve manner. 

" Ay, ay ! " repeated Ricardo more deliberately than 
befcare, and as if after a further survey of the circum- 
stances. " I wish I hadn't asked you, or that you had 
told me a lie. It don't suit me to know that there's a 
woman mixed up in this affair. What's she like ? It's 
the girl you — " 

" Leave off ! " muttered Schomberg, utterly pitiful 
behind his stiff military front. 

" Ay, ay ! " Ricardo ejaculated for the third time, 
more and more enlightened and perplexed. " Can't bear 
to talk about it — so bad as that ? And yet I would bet 
she isn't a miracle to look at." 

Schomberg made a gesture as if he didn't know, as 
if he didn't care. Then he squared his shoulders and 
frowned at vacancy. 

" Swedish baron — h'm ! " Ricardo continued medi- 
tatively. " I believe the governor would think that 
business worth looking up, quite, if I put it to him pro- 
perly. The governor likes a duel, if you will call it so ; 
but I don't know a man that can stand up to him on the 
square. Have you ever seen a cat play with a mouse ? 
It's a pretty sight." 

Ricardo, with his voluptuously gleaming eyes and 
the coy expression, looked so much like a cat that 
Schomberg would have felt all the alarm of a mouse if 
other feelings had not had complete possession of his 
breast. 

" There are no lies between you and me," he said, 
more steadily than he thought he could speak. 

" What's the good now ? He funks women. In that 
Mexican pueblo where we lay grounded on our beef-bones, 
so to speak, I used to go to dances of an evening. The 



VICTORY i6i 

girls there would ask me if the English caballero in the 
posada was a monk in disguise, or if he had taken a vow to 
the sancissima madre not to speak to a woman, or whether — 
You can imagine what fairly free-spoken girls will ask when 
they come to the point of not caring what they say ; and 
it used to vex me. Yes, the governor funks facing women." 

" One woman ? " interjected Schomberg in guttural tones. 

" One may be more awkward to deal with than two, or 
two hundred, for that matter. In a place that's full of 
women you needn't look at them unless you like ; but 
if you go into a room where there is only one woman, 
young or old, pretty or ugly, you have got to face her. 
And, unless you are after her, then — the governor is right 
enough — she's in the way." 

" Why notice them ? " muttered Schomberg. " What 
can they do ? " 

" Make a noise, if nothing else," opined Mr. Ricardo 
curtly, with the distaste of a man whose path is a path 
of silence ; for, indeed, nothing is more odious than a 
noise when one is engaged in a weighty and absorbing 
card game. " Noise, noise, my friend," he went on 
forcibly ; " confounded screeching about something or 
other, and I like it no more than the governor does. But 
with the governor there's something else besides. He 
can't stand them at all." 

He paused to reflect on this psychological phenomenon, 
and as no philosopher was at hand to tell him that there 
is no strong sentiment without some terror, as there is no 
real religion without a little fetichism, he emitted his own 
conclusion, which surely could not go to the root of the 
matter. 

" I'm hanged if I don't think they are to him what 
Hquor is to me. Brandy — pah ! " 

He made a disgusted face, and produced a genuine 



II 



i62 VICTORY 

shudder. Schomberg listened to him in wonder. It 
looked as if the very scoundrelism of that — that Swede 
would protect him ; the spoil of his iniquity standing 
between the thief and the retribution. 

" That's so, old buck." Ricardo broke the silence after 
contemplating Schomberg's mute dejection with a sort of 
sympathy. " I don't think this trick will work." 

" But that's silly," whispered the man deprived of 
the vengeance which he had seemed already to hold 
in his hand, by a mysterious and exasperating idiosyn- 
crasy. 

" Don't you set yourself to judge a gentleman." 
Ricardo without anger administered a moody rebuke. 
" Even I can't understand the governor thoroughly. 
And I am an Englishman and his follower. No ; I don't 
think I care to put it before him, sick as I am of staying 
here." 

Ricardo could not be more sick of staying than Schom- 
berg was of seeing him stay. Schomberg believed so 
firmly in the reality of Heyst as created by his own power 
of false inferences, of his hate, of his love of scandal, that 
he could not contain a stifled cry of conviction as sincere 
as most of our convictions, the disguised servants of our 
passions, can appear at a supreme moment. 

"It would have been like going to pick up a nugget of 
a thousand pounds, or two or three times as much, for 
all I know. No trouble, no — " 

** The petticoat's the trouble," Ricardo struck in. 

He had resumed his noiseless, fehne, oblique prowling, 
in which an observer would have detected a new character 
of excitement, such as a wild animal of the cat species, 
anxious to make a spring, might betray. Schomberg saw 
nothing. It would probably have cheered his drooping 
spirits ; but in a general way he preferred not to look 



VICTORY 163 

at Ricardo. Ricardo, however, with one of his slant- 
ing, gHding, restless glances, observed the bitter smile 
on Schomberg's bearded lips — the unmistakable smile of 
ruined hopes. 

" You are a pretty unforgiving sort of chap," he said, 
stopping for a moment with an air of interest. " Hang 
me if I ever saw anybody look so disappointed ! I bet 
you would send black plague to that island if you only 
knew how — eh, what ? Plague too good for them ? Ha, 
ha, ha ! " 

He bent down to stare at Schomberg who sat unstirring 
with stony eyes and set features, and apparently deaf to 
the rasping derision of that laughter so close to his red 
fleshy ear. 

" Black plague too good for them, ha, ha ! " Ricardo 
pressed the point on the tormented hotel-keeper. Schom- 
berg kept his eyes down obstinately. 

" I don't wish any harm to the girl," he muttered. 

" But she did bolt from you ? A fair bilk ? Come ! " 

" Devil only knows what that villainous Swede had 
done to her — ^what he promised her, how he frightened 
her. She couldn't have cared for him, I know." Schom- 
berg's vanity clung to the belief in some atrocious, extra- 
ordinary means of seduction employed by Heyst. " Look 
how he bewitched that poor Morrison," he murmured. 

" Ah, Morrison — got all his money, what ? " 

" Yes— and his Hfe." 

*' Terrible fellow, that Swedish baron ! How is one to 
get at him ? " 

Schomberg exploded. 

" Three against one I Are you shy ? Do you want me 
to give you a letter of introduction ? " 

" You ought to look at yourself in a glass," Ricardo 
said quietly. '* Dash me if you don't get a stroke of some 



<< 



i64 VICTORY 

kind presently. And this is the fellow who says women 
can do nothing ! That one will do for you, unless you 
manage to forget her." 

I wish I could," Schomberg admitted earnestly. 

And it's all the doing of that Swede. I don't get enough 
sleep, Mr. Ricardo. And then, to finish me off, you 
gentlemen turn up ... as if I hadn't enough worry." 

" That's done you good," suggested the Secretary with 
ironic seriousness. " Takes your mind off that silly 
trouble. At your age too." 

He checked himself, as if in pity, and changing his tone : 

" I would really like to oblige you while doing a stroke 
of business at the same time." 

'■ A good stroke," insisted Schomberg, as if it were 
mechanically. In his simplicity he was not able to give 
up the idea which had entered his head. An idea must 
be driven out by another idea, and with Schomberg ideas 
were rare and therefore tenacious. " Minted gold," he 
murmured with a sort of anguish. 

Such an expressive combination of words was not 
without effect on Ricardo. Both these men were amenable 
to the influence of verbal suggestions. The Secretary of 
" plain Mr. Jones " sighed and murmured : 

" Yes. But how is one to get at it ? " 

" Being three to one," said Schomberg, " I suppose you 
could get it for the asking." 

" One would think the fellow lived next door," Ricardo 
growled impatiently. '' Hang it all, can't you understand 
a plain question ? I have asked you the way." 

Schomberg seemed to revive. 

" The way ? " 

The torpor of deceived hopes underlying his superficial 
changes of mood had been pricked by these words, which 
seemed pointed with purpose. 






VICTORY 165 

" The way is over the water, of course," said the hotel- 
keeper. " For people like you, three days in a good, big 
boat is nothing. It's no more than a little outing, a bit 
of a change. At this season the Java Sea is a pond. I 
have an excellent, safe boat — a ship's life-boat — carry 
thirty, let alone three, and a child could handle her. You 
wouldn't get a wet face at this time of the year. You 
might call it a pjeasure-trip." 

" And yet, having this boat, you didn't go after her 
yourself — or after him ? Well, you are a fine fellow for a 
disappointed lover." 

Schomberg gave a start at the suggestion. 

" I am not three men," he said sulkily, as the shortest 
answer of the several he could have given. 

Oh, I know your sort," Ricardo let fall neghgently. 

You are like most people — or perhaps just a little more 
peaceable than the rest of the buying and selling gang 
that bosses this rotten show. Well, well, you respectable 
citizen," he went on, " let us go thoroughly into the 
matter." 

When Schomberg had been made to understand that 
Mr. Jones's henchman was ready to discuss, in his own 
words, " this boat of yours, with courses and distances," 
and such concrete matters of no good augury to that 
villainous Swede, he recovered his soldierly bearing, 
squared his shoulders, and asked in his military manner : 

" You wish, then, to proceed with the business ? " 

Ricardo nodded. He had a great mind to, he said. 
A gentleman had to be humoured as much as possible ; 
but he must be managed, too, on occasions, for his own 
good. And it was the business of the right sort of " fol- 
lower " to know the proper time and the proper methods 
of that delicate part of his duty. Having exposed this 
theory Ricardo proceeded to the application. 



i66 VICTORY 

" I've never actually lied to him/' he said, " and I ain't 
going to now. I shall just say nothing about the girl. 
He will have to get over the shock the best he can. Hang 
it all ! Too much humouring won't do here." 

" Funny thing," Schomberg observed crisply. 

^' Is it ? Ay, you wouldn't mind taking a woman by 
the throat in some dark corner and nobody by, I bet ! " 

Ricardo's dreadful, vicious, cat-like readiness to get 
his claws out at any moment startled Schomberg as usual. 
But it was provoking too. 

" And you ? " he defended himself. " Don't you 
want me to believe you are up to anything ? " 

" I, my boy ? Oh, yes. I am not that gentleman ; 
neither are you. Take 'em by the throat or chuck 'em 
under the chin is all one to me — almost," affirmed Ricardo, 
with something obscurely ironical in his complacency. 
*' Now, as to this business. A three days' jaunt in a good 
boat isn't a thing to frighten people hke us. You are right, 
so far ; but there are other details." 

Schomberg was ready enough to enter into details. 
He explained that he had a small plantation, with a fairly 
habitable hut on it, on Madura. He proposed that his 
guests should start from town in his boat, as if going for 
an excursion to that rural spot. The custom-house 
people on the quay were used to see his boat go off on 
such trips. 

From Madura, after some repose and on a convenient 
day, Mr. Jones and party would make the real start. 
It would all be plain sailing. Schomberg undertook to 
provision the boat. The greatest hardship the voyagers 
need apprehend would be a mild shower of rain. At 
that season of the year there were no serious thunder- 
storms. 

Schomberg's heart began to thump as he saw himself 



VICTORY 167 

nearing his vengeance. His speech was thick but per- 
suasive. 

" No risk at all — none whatever ! " 

Ricardo dismissed these assurances of safety with 
an impatient gesture. He was thinking of other risks. 

" The getting away from here is all right ; but we 
may be sighted at sea, and that may bring awkwardness 
later on. A ship's boat with three white men in her, 
knocking about out of sight of land, is bound to make 
talk. Are we Hkely to be seen on our way ? " 

" No, unless by native craft," said Schomberg. 

Ricardo nodded, satisfied. Both these white men looked 
on native life as a mere play of shadows. A play of 
shadows the dominant race could walk through unaffected 
and disregarded in the pursuit of its incomprehensible 
aims and needs. No. Native craft did not count, of 
course. It was an empty, solitary part of the sea, Schom- 
berg expounded further. Only the Ternate mail-boat 
crossed that region about the 8th of every month, regularly 
— nowhere near the island, though. Rigid, his voice hoarse, 
his heart thumping, his mind concentrated on the success 
of his plan, the hotel-keeper multiplied words, as if to keep 
as many of them as possible between himself and the 
murderous aspect of his purpose. 

" So, if you gentlemen depart from my plantation 
quietly at sunset on the 8th — always best to make a 
start at night, with a land breeze — it's a hundred to one — 
what am I saying ? — it's a thousand to one that no human 
eye will see you on the passage. All you've got to do is 
to keep her heading northeast for, say, fifty hours ; perhaps 
not quite so long. There will always be draft enough to 
keep a boat moving ; you may reckon on that ; and 
then—" 

The muscles about his waist quivered under his clothes 



I68 VICTORY 

with eagerness, with impatience, and with something Hke 
apprehension, the true nature of which was not clear to 
him. And he did not want to investigate it. Ricardo 
regarded him steadily, with those dry eyes of his shining 
more like poHshed stones than Hving tissue. 

" And then what ? " he asked. 

** And then — why, you will astonish der hen baron 
—ha, ha ! " 

Schomberg seemed to force the words and the laugh 
out of himself in a hoarse bass. 

*' And you beheve he has all that plunder by him ? " 
asked Ricardo, rather perfunctorily, because the fact 
seemed to him extremely probable when looked at all 
round by his acute mind. 

Schomberg raised his hands and lowered them slowly. 

" How can it be otherwise ? He was going home, 
he was on his way, in this hotel. Ask people. Was 
it hkely he would leave it behind him ? " 

Ricardo was thoughtful. Then, suddenly raising his 
head, he remarked : 

" Steer northeast for fifty hours, eh ? That's not much 
of a sailing direction. I've heard of a port being missed 
before on better information. Can't you say what sort 
of landfall a fellow may expect ? But I suppose you have 
never seen that island yourself." 

Schomberg admitted that he had not seen it, in a tone 
in which a man congratulates himself on having escaped 
the contamination of an unsavoury experience. No, 
certainly not. He had never had any business to call him 
there. But what of that ? He could give Mr. Ricardo 
as good a sea-mark as anybody need wish for. He laughed 
nervously. Miss it I He defied any one that came 
within forty miles of it to miss the retreat of that villainous 
Swede. 



VICTORY 169 

" What do you think of a pillar of smoke by day and a 
loom of fire at night ? There's a volcano in full blast 
near that island — enough to guide almost a bhnd man. 
What more do you want ? An active volcano to steer by I " 

These last words he roared out exultingly, then jumped 
up and glared. The door to the left of the bar had swung 
open, and Mrs. Schomberg, dressed for duty, stood facing 
him down the whole length of the room. She clung to the 
handle for a moment, then came in and glided to her place, 
where she sat down to stare straight before her, as usual. 



PART III 



171 



TROPICAL nature had been kind to the failure of 
the commercial enterprise. The desolation of the 
headquarters of the Tropical Belt Coal Company had been 
screened from the side of the sea ; from the side where 
prying eyes — if any were sufficiently interested, either in 
mahce or in sorrow — could have noted the decaying bones 
of that once sanguine enterprise. 

Heyst had been sitting among the bones buried so 
kindly in the grass of two wet seasons' growth. The 
silence of his surroundings, broken only by such sounds 
as a distant roll of thunder, the lash of rain through the 
foliage of some big trees, the noise of the wind tossing the 
leaves of the forest, and of the short seas breaking against 
the shore, favoured rather than hindered his sohtary 
meditation. 

A meditation is always — in a white man, at least — 
more or less an interrogative exercise. Heyst meditated 
in simple terms on the mystery of his actions ; and he 
answered himself with the honest reflection : 

" There must be a lot of the original Adam in me, after 
all." 

He reflected, too, with the sense of making a discovery, 
that this primeval ancestor is not easily suppressed. The 
oldest voice in the world is just the one that never ceases 
to speak. If anybody could have silenced its imperative 
echoes, it should have been Heyst 's father, with his con- 



173 



174 VICTORY 

temptuous, inflexible negation of all effort ; but appar- 
ently he could not. There was in the son a lot of that first 
ancestor who, as soon as he could uphft his muddy frame 
from the celestial mould, started inspecting and naming 
the animals of that paradise which he was so soon to 
lose. 

Action — the first thought, or perhaps the first impulse, 
on earth ! The barbed hook, baited with the illusion of 
progress, to bring out of the lightless void the shoals of 
unnumbered generations ! 

" And I, the son of my father, have been caught 
too, like the silliest fish of them all," Heyst said to 
himself. 

He suffered. He was hurt by the sight of his own 
life, which ought to have been a masterpiece of aloofness. 
He remembered always his last evening with his father. 
He remembered the thin features, the great mass of white 
hair, and the ivory complexion. A five-branched candle- 
stick stood on a little table by the side of the easy chair. 
They had been talking a long time. The noises of the 
street had died out one by one, till at last, in the moon- 
light, the London houses began to look like the tombs of 
an unvisited, unhonoured, cemetery of hopes. 

He had listened. Then, after a silence, he had asked — 
for he was really young then : 

" Is there no guidance ? " 

His father was in an unexpectedly soft mood on that 
night, when the moon swam in a cloudless sky over the 
begrimed shadows of the town. 

" You still believe in something, then ? " he said in a 
clear voice, which had been growing feeble of late. " You 
believe in flesh and blood, perhaps ? A full and equable 
contempt would soon do away with that, too. But since 
you have not attained to it, I advise you to cultivate 



VICTORY 175 

that form of contempt which is called pity. It is perhaps 
the least difficult — always remembering that you, too, if 
you are anything, are as pitiful as the rest, yet never 
expecting any pity for yourself. 

" What is one to do, then ? " sighed the young 
man, regarding his father, rigid in the high-backed 
chair. 

" Look on — make no sound," were the last words of 
the man who had spent his life in blowing blasts upon a 
terrible trumpet which had filled heaven and earth with 
ruins, while mankind went on its way unheeding. 

That very night he died in his bed, so quietly that 
they found him in his usual attitude of sleep, lying on 
his side, one hand under his cheek, and his knees slightly 
bent. He had not even straightened his legs. 

His son buried the silenced destroyer of systems, of 
hopes, of beliefs. He observed that the death of that 
bitter contemner of life did not trouble the flow of life's 
stream, where men and women go by thick as dust, re- 
volving and jostling one another like figures cut out of 
cork and weighted with lead just sufficiently to keep them 
in their proudly upright posture. 

After the funeral, Heyst sat alone, in the dusk, and 
his meditation took the form of a definite vision of the 
stream, of the fatuously jostling, nodding, spinning figures 
hurried irresistibly along, and giving no sign of being 
aware that the voice on the bank had been suddenly 
silenced. . . . Yes. A few obituary notices generally 
insignificant and some grossly abusive. The son had 
read them all with mournful detachment. 

** This is the hate and rage of their fear," he thought 
to himself, " and also of wounded vanity. They shriek 
their little shriek as they fly past. I suppose I ought to 
hate him too. . . ." 



176 VICTORY 

He became aware of his eyes being wet. It was not 
that the man was his father. For him it was purely a 
matter of hearsay which could not in itself cause this 
emotion. No ! It was because he had looked at him 
so long that he missed him so much. The dead man had 
kept him on the bank by his side. And now Heyst felt 
acutely that he was alone on the bank of the stream. In 
his pride he determined not to enter it. 

A few slow tears rolled down his face. The rooms, 
filling with shadows, seemed haunted by a melancholy, 
uneasy presence which could not express itself. The 
young man got up with a strange sense of making way 
for something impalpable that claimed possession, went 
out of the house, and locked the door. A fortnight later 
he started on his travels— to " look on and never make 
a sound." 

The elder Heyst had left behind him a little money and 
a certain quantity of movable objects, such as books^ 
tables, chairs, and pictures, which might have complained 
of heartless desertion after many years of faithful service ; 
for there is a soul in things. Heyst, our Heyst, had often 
thought of them, reproachful and mute, shrouded and 
locked up in those rooms, far away in London with the 
sounds of the street reaching them faintly, and sometimes 
a little sunshine, when the bUnds were pulled up and the 
windows opened from time to time in pursuance of his 
original instructions and later reminders. It seemed as if 
in his conception of a world not worth touching, and 
perhaps not substantial enough to grasp, these objects 
familiar to his childhood and his youth and associated 
with the memory of an old man, were the only reahties, 
something having an absolute existence. He would never 
have them sold, or even moved from the places they 
occupied when he looked upon them last. When he was 



VICTORY 



177 



advised from London that his lease had expired, and 
that the house, with some others as like it as two 
peas, was to be demolished, he was surprisingly dis- 
tressed. 

He had entered by then the broad, human path of in- 
consistencies. Already the Tropical Belt Coal Company 
was in existence. He sent instructions to have some of the 
things sent out to him at Samburan, just as any ordinary, 
credulous person would have done. They came, torn 
out from their long repose — a lot of books, some chairs 
and tables, his father's portrait in oils, which surprised 
Heyst by its air of youth, because he remembered his 
father as a much older man ; a lot of small objects, such as 
candlesticks, inkstands, and statuettes from his father's 
study, which surprised him because they looked so old 
and so much worn. 

The manager of the Tropical Belt Coal Company, un- 
packing them on the veranda in the shade besieged by a 
fierce sunshine, must have felt like a remorseful apostate 
before these relics. He handled them tenderly; and it 
was perhaps their presence there which attached him to 
the island when he woke up to the failure of his apostasy. 
Whatever the decisive reason, Heyst had remained where 
another would have been glad to be off. The excellent 
Davidson had discovered the fact without discovering 
the reason, and took a humane interest in Heyst's strange 
existence, while at the same time his native delicacy 
kept him from intruding on the other's whim of Lolitude. 
He could not possibly guess that Heyst, alone on the 
island, felt neither more nor less lonely than in any other 
place, desert or populous. Davidson's concern was, if 
one may express it so, the danger of spiritual starvation ; 
but this was a spirit which had renounced all outside 
nourishment, and was sustaining itself proudly on its 



12 



178 Victory 

own contempt of the usual coarse aliments which life offers 
to the common appetites of men. 

Neither was Heyst's body in danger of starvation, as 
Schomberg had so confidently asserted. At the beginning 
of the company's operations the island had been pro- 
visioned in a manner which had outlasted the need. 
Heyst did not need to fear hunger ; and his very loneliness 
had not been without some alleviation. Of the crowd 
of imported Chinese labourers, one at least had remained 
in Samburan, solitary and strange, like a swallow left 
behind at the migrating season of his tribe. 

Wang was not a common coolie. He had been a servant 
to white men before. The agreement between him and 
Heyst consisted in the exchange of a few words on the 
day when the last batch of the mine coolies was leaving 
Samburan. Heyst, leaning over the balustrade of the 
veranda, was looking on, as calm in appearance as though 
he had never departed from the doctrine that this world, 
for the wise, is nothing but an amusing spectacle. Wang 
came round the house, and, standing below, raised up his 
yellow, thin face. 

" All finish ? " he asked. 

Heyst nodded slightly from above, glancing towards the 
jetty. A crowd of blue-clad figures with yellow faces and 
calves was being hustled down into the boats of the char- 
tered steamer lying well out, like a painted ship on a painted 
sea; painted in crude colours, without shadows, without 
feeling, with brutal precision. 

" You had better hurry up if you don't want to be left 
behind." 

But the Chinaman did not move. 

" Me stop," he declared. Heyst looked down at him for 
the first time. 

** You want to stop here ? " 



VICTORY 179 



" Yes/' 



What were you ? What was your work here ? " 
Mess-loom boy." 
** Do you want to stay with me here as my boy ? " in- 
quired Heyst, surprised. 

The Chinaman unexpectedly put on a deprecatory ex- 
pression, and said, after a marked pause : 
" Can do." 

" You needn't," said Heyst, " unless you like. I pro- 
pose to stay on here — it may be for a very long time. I 
have no power to make you go if you wish to remain, but 
I don't see why you should." 

" Catchee one piecee wife," remarked Wang unemotion- 
ally, and marched off, turning his back on the wharf and 
the great world beyond, represented by the steamer waiting 
for her boats. 

Heyst learned presently that Wang had persuaded one 
of the women of the Alfuro village, on the west shore of the 
island, beyond the central ridge, to come over to live with 
him in a remote part of the company's clearing. It was a 
curious case, inasmuch as the Alfuros, having been fright- 
ened by the sudden invasion of Chinamen, had blocked 
the path over the ridge by felling a few trees, and had kept 
strictly on their own side. The coolies, as a body, mistrusting 
the manifest mildness of these harmless fisher-folk, had kept 
to their lines, without attempting to cross the island. 
Wang was the brilliant exception. He must have been 
uncommonly fascinating, in a way that was not apparent 
to Heyst. or else uncommonly persuasive. The woman's 
services to Heyst were limited to the fact that she had 
anchored Wang to the spot by her channs, which remained 
unknown to the white man, because she never came near 
the houses. The couple lived at the edge of the forest, and 
she could sometimes be seen gazing toward the bungalow 



i8o VICTORY 

shading her eyes with her hand. Even from a distance 
she appeared to be a shy, wild creature, and Heyst, anxious 
not to try her primitive nerves unduly, scrupulously avoided 
that side of the clearing in his strolls. 

The day — or rather the first night — after his hermit life 
began, he was aware of vague sounds of revelry in that 
direction. Emboldened by the departure of the invading 
strangers, some Alfuros, the woman's friends and relations, 
had ventured over the ridge to attend something in the 
nature of a wedding feast. Wang had invited them. But 
this was the only occasion when any sound louder than 
the buzzing of insects had troubled the profound silence 
of the clearing. The natives were never invited again. 
Wang not only knew how to live according to conventional 
proprieties, but had strong personal views as to the manner 
of arranging his domestic existence. After a time Heyst 
perceived that Wang had annexed all the keys. Any 
key left lying about vanished after Wang had passed that 
way. Subsequently some of them — those that did not 
belong to the storerooms and the empty bungalows, and 
could not be regarded as the common property of this com- 
munity of two — were returned to Heyst, tied in a bunch 
with a piece of string. He found them one morning lying 
by the side of his plate. He had not been inconvenienced 
by their absence, because he never locked up anything in 
the way of drawers and boxes. Heyst said nothing. Wang 
also said nothing. Perhaps he had always been a taciturn 
man ; perhaps he was influenced by the genius of the 
locality, which was certainly that of silence. Till Heyst 
and Morrison had landed in Black Diamond Bay, and 
named it, that side of Samburan had hardly ever heard 
the sound of human speech. It was easy to be taciturn 
with Heyst, who had plunged himself into an abyss of 
meditation over books, and remained in it till the shadow 



VICTORY i8i 

of Wang falling across the page, and the sound of a rough, 
low voice uttering the Malay word " makan," would force 
him to climb out to a meal. 

Wang in his native province in China might have been 
an aggressively, sensitively genial person ; but in Samburan 
he had clothed himself in a mysterious stolidity and did not 
seem to resent not being spoken to except in single words, 
at a rate which did not average half a dozen per day. And 
he gave no more than he got. It is to be presumed that 
if he suffered constraint, he made up for it with the Alfuro 
woman. He always went back to her at the first fall of 
dusk, vanishing from the bungalow suddenly at his hour, 
Hke a sort of topsyturvy, day-haunting Chinese ghost with 
a white jacket and a pigtail. Presently, giving way to a 
Chinaman's ruling passion, he could be observed breaking 
the ground near his hut, between the mighty stumps of 
felled trees, with a miner's pick-axe. After a time, he dis- 
covered a rusty but serviceable spade in one of the empty 
storerooms, and it is to be supposed that he got on famously ; 
but nothing of it could be seen, because he went to the 
trouble of pulling to pieces one of the company's sheds 
in order to get materials for making a high and very close 
fence round his patch, as if the growing of vegetables were 
a patented process, or an awful and holy mystery en- 
trusted to the keeping of his race. 

Heyst, following from a distance the progress of Wang's 
gardening and of these precautions — there was nothing 
else to look at — was amused at the thought that he, in his 
own person, represented the market for its produce. The 
Chinaman had found several packets of seeds in the store- 
rooms, and had surrendered to an irresistible impulse to put 
them into the ground. He would make his master pay for 
the vegetables which he was raising to satisfy his instinct. 
And, looking silently at the silent Wang going about his 



i82 VICTORY 

work in the bungalow in his unhasty, steady way, Heyst 
envied the Chinaman's obedience to his instincts, the power- 
ful simplicity of purpose which made his existence appear 
almost automatic in the mysterious precision of its 
facts. 



II 



DURING his master's absence at Sourabaya, Wang 
had busied himself with the ground immediately in 
front of the principal bungalow. Emerging from the 
fringe of grass growing across the shore end of the coal- 
jetty, Heyst beheld a broad, clear space, black and level, 
with only one or two clumps of charred twigs, where the 
flame had swept from the front of his house to the nearest 
trees of the forest. 

" You took the risk of firing the grass ? " Heyst 
asked. 

Wang nodded. Hanging on the arm of the white 
man before whom he stood was the girl called Alma ; 
but neither from the Chinaman's eyes nor from his ex- 
pression could any one have guessed that he was in the 
slightest degree aware of the fact. 

" He has been tidying the place in this labour-saving 
way," explained Heyst, without looking at the girl, whose 
hand rested on his forearm. " He's the whole establish- 
ment, you see. I told you I hadn't even a dog to keep me 
company here." 

Wang had marched off toward the wharf. 

" He's like those waiters in that place," she said. That 
place was Schomberg's hotel. 

" One Chinaman looks very much like another," Heyst 

remarked. " We shall find it useful to have him here. 

This is the house." 

163 



i84 VICTORY 

They faced, at some distance, the six shallow steps 
leading up to the veranda. The girl had abandoned 
Heyst's arm. 

" This is the house," he repeated. 

She did not offer to budge away from his side, but 
stood staring fixedly at the steps, as if they had been 
something unique and impracticable. He waited a little, 
but she did not move. 

" Don't you want to go in ? " he asked, without turning 
his head to look at her. " The sun's too heavy to stand 
about here." He tried to overcome a sort of fear, a sort of 
impatient faintness, and his voice sounded rough. " You 
had better go in," he concluded. 

They both moved then, but at the foot of the stairs 
Heyst stopped, while the girl went on rapidly, as if nothing 
could stop her now. She crossed the veranda swiftly, 
and entered the twilight of the big central room opening 
upon it, and then the deeper twilight of the room beyond. 
She stood still in the dusk, in which her dazzled eyes could 
scarcely make out the forms of objects, and sighed a sigh of 
relief. The impression of the sunlight, of sea and sky, 
remained with her like a memory of a painful trial gone 
through — done with at last ! 

Meanwhile Heyst had walked back slowly toward 
the jetty ; but he did not get so far as that. The practical 
and automatic Wang had got hold of one of the little 
trucks that had been used for running baskets of coal 
alongside ships. He appeared pushing it before him, 
loaded lightly with Heyst's bag and the bundle of the girl's 
belongings, wrapped in Mrs. Schomberg's shawl. Heyst 
turned about and walked by the side of the rusty rails on 
which the truck ran. Opposite the house Wang stopped, 
lifted the bag to his shoulder, balanced it carefully, and then 
took the bundle in his hand. 



VICTORY 185 

" Leave those things on the table m the big room — 
understand ? " 

" Me savee," grunted Wang, moving off. 

Heyst watched the Chinaman disappear from the 
veranda. It was not till he had seen Wang come out 
that he himself entered the twilight of the big room. 
By that time Wang was out of sight at the back of the 
house, but by no means out of hearing. The Chinaman 
could hear the voice of him who, when there were many 
people there, was generally referred to as " Number One." 
Wang was not able to understand the words, but the 
tone interested him. 

" Where are you ? " cried Number One. 

Then Wang heard, much more faint, a voice he had 
never heard before — a novel impression which he acknow- 
ledged by cocking his head slightly to one side. 

" I am here — out of the sun." 

The new voice sounded remote and uncertain. Wang 
heard nothing more, though he waited for some time, very 
still, the top of his shaven poll exactly level with the 
floor of the back veranda. His face meanwhile preserved 
an inscrutable immobility. Suddenly he stooped to pick 
up the lid of a deal candle-box which was lying on the ground 
by his foot. Breaking it up with his fingers, he directed 
his steps toward the cook-shed, where, squatting on his 
heels, he proceeded to kindle a small fire under a very sooty 
kettle, possibly to make tea. Wang had some knowledge 
of the more superficial rites and ceremonies of white men's 
existence, otherwise so enigmatically remote to his mind, 
and containing unexpected possibilities of good and evil, 
which had to be watched for with prudence and care. 



Ill 

THAT morning, as on all the others of the full tale 
of mornings since his return with the girl to vSamburan, 
Heyst came out on the veranda and spread his elbows on 
the railing, in an easy attitude of proprietorship. The 
bulk of the central ridge of the island cut off the bungalow 
from sunrises, whether glorious or cloudy, angry or serene. 
The dwellers therein were debarred from reading early 
the fortune of the new-born day. It sprang upon 
them in its fulness with a swift retreat of the great 
shadow when the sun, clearing the ridge, looked down, 
hot and dry, with a devouring glare like the eye of an 
enemy. But Heyst, once the Number One of this locality, 
while it was comparatively teeming with mankind, appreci- 
ated the prolongation of early coolness, the subdued, 
lingering half light, the faint ghost of the departed night, 
the fragrance of its dewy, dark soul captured for a moment 
longer between the great glow of the sky and the intense 
blaze of the uncovered sea. 

It was naturally difficult for Heyst to keep his mind 
from dwelling on the nature and consequences of this, his 
latest departure from the part of an unconcerned spectator. 
Yet he had retained enough of his wrecked philosophy to 
prevent him from asking himself consciously how it would 
end. But at the same time he could not help being 
temperamentally, from long habit and from set purpose, 
a spectator still, perhaps a little less naive but (as he 

i86 



VICTORY 187 

discovered with some surprise) not much more far-sighted 
than the common run of men. Like the rest of us who 
act, all he could say to himself, with a somewhat affected 
grimness, was : 

" We shall see ! '' 

This mood of grim doubt intruded on him only when 
he was alone. There were not many such moments in 
his day now ; and he did not Hke them when they came. 
On this morning he had no time to grow uneasy. Alma 
came out to join him long before the sun, rising above 
the Samburan ridge, swept the cool shadow of the early 
morning and the remnant of the night's coolness clear off 
the roof under which they had dwelt for more than three 
months alre?^dy. She came out as on other mornings. He 
had heard her light footsteps in the big room — the room 
where he had unpacked the cases from London ; the room 
now lined with the backs of books half-way up on its three 
sides. Above the cases the fine matting met the ceiling 
of tightly stretched white caHco. In the dusk and cool- 
ness nothing gleamed except the gilt frame of the portrait 
of Heyst's father, signed by a famous painter, lonely in 
the middle of a wall. 

Heyst did not turn round. 

" Do you know what I was thinking of ? " he asked. 

" No," she said. Her tone betrayed always a shade 
of anxiety, as though she were never certain how a con- 
versation with him would end. She leaned on the guard- 
rail by his side. 

" No," she repeated. " What was it ? " She waited. 
Then, rather with reluctance than shyness, she asked : 
" Were you thinking of me ? " 

** I was wondering when you would come out," said 
Heyst still without looking at the girl — to whom, after 
several experimental essays in combining detached 



i88 VICTORY 

letters and loose syllables, he had given the name of 
Lena. 

She remarked after a pause : 

*' I was not very far from you.*' 

" Apparently you were not near enough for me." 

" You could have called if you wanted me," she said. 
" And I wasn't so long doing my hair." 

" Apparently it was too long for me." 

" Well, you were thinking of me, anyhow. I am glad 
of it. Do you know, it seems to me, somehow, that if 
you were to stop thinking of me I shouldn't be in the world 
at all ! " 

He turned round and looked at her. She often said 
things which surprised him. A vague smile faded away 
on her lips before his scrutiny. 

" What is it ? " he asked. " Is it a reproach ? " 

** A reproach ! Why, how could it be ? " she defended 
herself. 

** Well, what did it mean ? " he insisted. 

** What I said — just what I said. Why aren't you 
fair ? " 

" Ah, this at least is a reproach ! " 

She coloured to the roots of her hair. 

*' It looks as if you were trying to make out that I am 
disagreeable," she murmured. *' Am I ? You will make 
me afraid to open my mouth presently. I shall end by 
believing I am no good." 

Her head drooped a little. He looked at her smooth, 
low brow, the faintly coloured cheeks and the red Hps, 
parted shghtly, with the gleam of her teeth within. 

'* And then I won't be any good," she added with con- 
viction. " That I won't ! I can only be what you think 
I am." 

He made a slight movement. She put her hand on 



VICTORY 189 

his arm, without raising her head, and went on, her voice 
animated in the stillness of her body : 

" It is so. It couldn't be any other way with a girl like 
me and a man hke you. Here we are we two alone, and 
I can't even tell where we are." 

" A very well-known spot of the globe," Heyst uttered 
gently. " There must have been at least fifty thousand 
circulars issued at the time — a hundred and fifty thousand, 
more likely. My friend was looking after that, and his 
idecLS were large and his belief very strong. Of us two 
it was he who had the faith. A hundred and fifty thou- 
sand, certainly." 

*' What is it you mean ? " she asked in a low tone. 

" What should I find fault with you for ? " Heyst 
went on. " For being amiable, good, gracious — and 
pretty?" 

A silence fell. Then she said : 

" It's all right that you should think that of me. There's 
no one here to think anything of us, good or bad." 

The rare timbre of her voice gave a special value to 
what she uttered. The indefinable emotion which certain 
intonations gave him, he was aware, was more physical 
than moral. Every time she spoke to him she seemed 
to abandon to him something of herself — something ex- 
cessively subtle and inexpressible, to which he was in- 
finitely sensible, which he would have missed horribly 
if she were to go away. While he was looking into her 
eyes she raised her bare forearm, out of the short sleeve, 
and held it in the air till he noticed it and hastened to 
pose his great bronze moustaches on the whiteness of the 
skin. Then they went in. 

Wang immediately appeared in front, and, squatting 
on his heels, began to potter mysteriously about some 
plants at the foot of the veranda. When Heyst and the 



I go 



VICTORY 



girl came out again, the Chinaman had gone in his pecuHar 
manner, which suggested vanishing out of existence 
rather than out of sight, a process of evaporation rather 
than of movement. They descended the steps, looking 
at each other, and started off smartly across the cleared 
ground ; but they were not ten yards away when, without 
perceptible stir or sound, Wang materiahsed inside the 
empty room. The Chinaman stood still with roaming 
eyes, examining the walls as if for signs, for inscriptions ; 
exploring the floor as if for pitfalls, for dropped coins. 
Then he cocked his head shghtly at the profile of Heyst's 
father, pen in hand above a white sheet of paper on a 
crimson tablecloth ; and, moving forward noiselessly, 
began to clear away the breakfast things. 

Though he proceeded without haste, the unerring pre- 
cision of his movements, the absolute soundlessness of 
the operation, gave it something of the quality of a con- 
juring trick. And, the trick having been performed, 
Wang vanished from the scene, to materialise presently 
in front of the house. He materialised walking away 
from it, with no visible or guessable intention ; but at 
the end of some ten paces he stopped, made a half turn, 
and put his hand up to shade his eyes. The sun had 
topped the grey ridge of Samburan. The great morning 
shadow was gone ; and far away in the devouring sun- 
shine Wang was in time to see Number One and the woman, 
two remote white specks against the sombre line of the 
forest. In a moment they vanished. With the smallest 
display of action, Wang also vanished from the sunlight 
of the clearing. 

Heyst and Lena entered the shade of the forest path 
which crossed the island, and which, near its highest 
point, had been blocked by felled trees. But their in- 
tention was not to go so far. After keeping to the path 



VICTORY 191 

for some distance, they left it at a point where the forest 
was bare of undergrowth, and the trees, festooned with 
creepers, stood clear of one another in the gloom of their 
own making. Here and there great splashes of light 
lay on the ground. They moved, silent in the great 
stillness, breathing the calmness, the infinite isolation, 
the repose of a slumber without dreams. They emerged 
at the upper limit of vegetation, among some rocks ; 
and in a depression of the sharp slope, Hke a small plat- 
form, they turned about and looked from on high over 
the sea, lonely, its colour effaced by sunshine, its horizon 
a heat mist, a mere unsubstantial shimmer in the pale and 
bhnding infinity overhung by the darker blaze of the sky. 

" It makes my head swim," the girl murmured, shutting 
her eyes and putting her hand on his shoulder. 

Heyst, gazing fixedly to the southward, exclaimed : 

" Sail ho ! " 

A moment of silence ensued. 

*' It must be very far away," he went on. " I don't 
think 370U could see it. Some native craft m.aking for 
the Moluccas, probably. Come, we mustn't stay here." 

With his arm round her waist, he led her down a little 
distance, and thev settled themselves in the shade ; she 
seated on the ground, he a little lower, reclining at her 
feet. 

" You don't like to look at the sea from up there ? " 
he said after a time. 

She shook her head. That empty space was to her the 
abomination of desolation. But she only said again : 

" It makes my head swim." 

" Too big ? " he inquired. 

" Too lonely. It makes my heart sink, too," she added 
in a low voice, as if confessing a secret. 

" I am afraid," said Heyst, " that you would be justi- 



192 VICTORY 

lied in reproaching me for these sensations. But what 
would you have ? " 

His tone was playful, but his eyes, directed at her 
face, were serious. She protested. 

" I am not feeling lonely with you — not a bit. It 
is only when we come up to that place, and I look at 
all that water and all that light — " 

" We will never come here again, then," he interrupted 
her. 

She remained silent for a while, returning his gaze 
till he removed it. 

" It seems as if everything that there is had gone under/' 
she said. 

" Reminds you of the story of the deluge," muttered 
the man, stretched at her feet and looking at them. " Are 
you frightened at it ? " 

" I should be rather frightened to be left behind alone. 
When I say /, of course I mean we." 

" Do you ? " . . . Heyst remained silent for a while. 
" The vision of a world destroyed," he mused aloud. 
" Would you be sorry for it ? " 

" I should be sorry for the happy people in it," she 
said simply. 

His gaze travelled up her figure and reached her face, 
where he seemed to detect the veiled glow of intelligence, 
as one gets a glimpse of the sun through the clouds. 

" I should have thought it's they specially who ought 
to have been congratulated. Don't you ? " 

" Oh, yes — I understand what you mean ; but there 
were forty days before it was all over." 

" You seem to be in possession of all the details." 

Heyst spoke just to say something rather than to gaze 
at her in silence. She was not looking at him. 

" Sunday school," she murmured. " I went regularly 



VICTORY 193 

from the time I was eight till I was thirteen. We lodged 
in the north of London, off Kingsland Road. It wasn't 
a bad time. Father was earning good money then. The 
woman of the house used to pack me off in the afternoon 
with her own girls. She was a good woman. Her husband 
was in the post-office. Sorter or something. Such a 
quiet man. He used to go off after supper for night duty, 
sometimes. Then one day they had a row, and broke up 
the home. I remember I cried when we had to pack 
up all of a sudden and go into other lodgings. I never 
knew what it was, though — " 

" The deluge," muttered Heyst absently. 

He felt intensely aware of her personality, as if this 
were the first moment of leisure he had found to look at 
her since they had come together. The peculiar timbre 
of her voice, with its modulations of audacity and sadness, 
would have given interest to the most inane chatter. But 
she was no chatterer. She was rather silent, with a 
capacity for immobility, an upright stillness, as when 
resting on the concert platform between the musical 
numbers, her feet crossed, her hands reposing on her 
lap. But in the intimacy of their life her grey, un- 
abashed gaze forced upon him the sensation of something 
inexplicable reposing within her ; stupidity or inspira- 
tion, weakness or force — or simply an abysmal emptiness, 
reserving itself even in the moments of complete 
surrender. 

During a long pause she did not look at him. Then 
suddenly, as if the word " deluge " had stuck in her mind, 
she asked, looking up at the cloudless sky : 

" Does it ever rain here ? " 

" There is a season when it rains almost every day," 
said Heyst, surprised. " There are also thunderstorms. 
We had once a mud-shower." 
13 



194 VICTORY 

" Mud-shower ? " 

" Our neighbour there was shooting up ashes. He 
sometimes clears his red-hot gullet like that ; and a 
thunderstorm came along at the same time. It was very 
messy ; but our neighbour is generally well behaved — 
just smokes quietly, as he did that day when I first showed 
you the smudge in the sky from the schooner's deck. He's 
a good-natured, lazy fellow of a volcano." 

" I saw a mountain smoking like that before," she 
said, staring at the slender stem of a tree-fern some dozen 
feet in front of her. " It wasn't very long after we left 
England — some few days, though. I was so ill at first 
that I lost count of days. A smoking mountain — I can't 
think how they called it." 

" Vesuvius, perhaps," suggested Heyst. 

" That's the name." 

" I saw it, too, years, ages ago," said Heyst. 

" On your way here ? " 

" No, long before I ever thought of coming into this 
part of the world. I was yet a boy." 

She turned and looked at him attentively, as if seeking 
to discover some trace of that boyhood in the mature face 
of the man with the hair thin at the top and the long, thick 
moustaches. Heyst stood the frank examination with a 
playful smile, hiding the profound effect these veiled grey 
eyes produced — whether on his heart or on his nerves, 
whether sensuous or spiritual, tender or irritating, he was 
unable to say. 

" Well, princess of Samburan," he said at last, " have 
I found favour in your sight ? " 

She seemed to wake up, and shook her head. 

** I was thinking," she murmured very low. 

" Thought, action — so many snares ! If you begin to 
think you will be unhappy." 



VICTORY 195 

" I wasn't thinking of myself," she declared with a 
simplicity which took Heyst aback somewhat. 

" On the lips of a moralist this would sound like a 
rebuke," he said, half seriously ; " but I won't suspect 
you of being one. Moralists and I haven't been friends 
for many years." 

She had listened with an air of attention. 

" I understood you had no friends," she said. ** 1 
am pleased that there's nobody to find fault with you 
for what you have done. T like to think that I am in no 
one's way." 

Heyst would have said something, but she did not 
give him time. Unconscious of the movement he made, 
she went on : 

" What I was thinking to myself was, why are you 
here ? " 

Heyst let himself sink on his elbow again. 

"If by ' 3'ou ' you mean ' we ' — well, you know why 
we are here." 

She bent her gaze down at him. 

" No, it isn't that. I meant before — all that time 
before you came across me and guessed at once that I 
was in trouble, with no one to turn to. And you know 
it was desperate trouble, too." 

Her voice fell on the last words, as if she would end 
there ; but there was something so expectant in Heyst 's 
attitude as he sat at her feet, looking up at her 
steadily, that she continued, after drawing a short, quick 
breath : 

" It was, really. I told you I had been worried 
before by bad fellows. It made me unhappy, disturbed 
— angry, too. But oh, how I hated, hated, hated that 
man I " 

" That man " was the florid Schomberg with the military 



igS VICTORY 

bearing, benefactor of white men (" decent food to eat 
in decent company ") — mature victim of belated passion. 
The girl shuddered. The characteristic harmoniousness 
of her face became, as it were, decomposed for an instant. 
Heyst was startled. 

" Why think of it now ? " he cried. 

" It's because I was cornered that time. It wasn't as 
before. It was worse, ever so much. I wished I could 
die of my fright ; — and yet it's only now that I begin to 
understand what a horror it might have been. Yes, only 
now, since we — " 

Heyst stirred a little. 

" Came here," he finished. 

Her tenseness relaxed, her flushed face went gradually 
back to its normal tint. 

" Yes," she said indifferently, but at the same time she 
gave him a stealthy glance of passionate appreciation ; 
and then her face took on a melancholy cast, her whole 
figure drooped imperceptibly. " But you were coming 
back here anyhow ? " she asked. 

" Yes. I was only waiting for Davidson. Yes, I was 
coming back here, to these ruins — to Wang, who perhaps 
did not expect to see me again. It's impossible to guess 
at the way that Chinaman draws his conclusions, and how 
he looks upon one." 

" Don't talk about him. He makes me feel uncom- 
fortable. Talk about yourself." 

" About myself ? I see you are still busy with the 
mystery of my existence here ; but it isn't at all mysterious. 
Primarily the man with the quill pen in his hand in that 
picture you so often look at is responsible for my existence. 
He is also responsible for what my existence is, or rather 
has been. He was a great man in his way. I don't 
know much of his history. I suppose he began like other 



ft 



VICTORY 197 

people ; took fine words for good, ringing coin and noble 
ideals for valuable banknotes. He was a great master of 
both, himself, by the way. Later he discovered — how 
am I to explain it to you ? Suppose the world were a 
factory and all mankind workmen in it. Well, he dis- 
covered that the wages were not good enough. That 
they were paid in counterfeit money." 
I see ! " the girl said slowly. 
Do you ? " 

Heyst, who had been speaking as if to himself, looked 
up curiously. 

" It wasn't a new discovery, but he brought his capacity 
for scorn to bear on it. It was immense. It ought to 
have withered this globe. I don't know how many minds 
he convinced. But my mind was very young then, and 
youth I suppose can be easily seduced — even by a 
negation. He was very mthless, and yet he was not 
without pity. He dominated me without difficulty. A 
heartless man could not have done so. Even to fools he 
was not utterly merciless. He could be indignant, but 
he was too great for flouts and jeers. What he said was 
not meant for the crowd ; it could not be ; and I was 
flattered to find myself among the elect. They read his 
books, but I have heard his Uving word. It was irre- 
sistible. It was as if that mind were taking me into its 
confidence, giving me a special insight into its mastery 
of despair. Mistake, no doubt. There is something of 
my father in every man who lives long enough. But 
they don't say anything. They can't. They wouldn't 
know how, or perhaps, they wouldn't speak if they could. 
Man on this earth is an unforeseen accident which does 
not stand close investigation. However, that particular 
man died as quietly as a child goes to sleep. But, after 
listening to him, I could not take my soul down into the 



igS VICTORY 

street to fight there. I started off to wander about, an 
independent spectator — if that is possible." 

For a long time the girl's grey eyes had been watching 
his face. She discovered that, addressing her, he was 
really talking to himself. Heyst looked up, caught sight 
of her as it were, and caught himself up, with a low laugh 
and a change of tone. 

" All this does not tell you why I ever came here. Why, 
indeed ? It's like prying into inscrutable mysteries which 
are not worth scrutinising. A man drifts. The most 
successful men have drifted into their successes. I don't 
want to tell you that this is a success. You wouldn't 
believe me if I did. It isn't ; neither is it the ruinous 
failure it looks. It proves nothing, unless perhaps some 
hidden weakness in my character — and even that is not 
certain." 

He looked fixedly at her, and with such grave eyes 
that she felt obliged to smile faintly at him, since she did 
not understand what he meant. Her smile was reflected, 
still fainter, on his lips. 

" This does not advance you much in your inquiry," 
he went on. " And in truth your question is unanswer- 
able ; but facts have a certain positive value, and I will 
tell you a fact. One day I met a cornered man. I use 
the word because it expresses the man's situation exactly, 
and because you just used it yourself. You know what 
that means ? " 

" What do you say ? " she whispered, astounded. " A 
man ! " 

Heyst laughed at her wondering eyes. 

" No ! No ! I mean in his own way." 

" I knew very well it couldn't be anything like that," 
she observed under her breath. 

" I won't bother you with the story. It was a custom- 



VICTORY 199 

house affair, strange as it may sound to you. He would 
have preferred to be killed outright — that is, to have his 
soul despatched to another world, rather than to be robbed 
of his substance, his very insignificant substance, in this. 
I saw that he beheved in another world because, being 
cornered, as I have told you, he went down on his knees 
and prayed. What do you think of that ? " 

Heyst paused. She looked at him earnestly. 

" You didn't make fun of him for that ? " she said. 

Heyst made a brusque movement of protest. 

" My dear girl, I am not a ruffian," he cried. Then, 
returning to his usual tone : " I didn't even have to 
conceal a smile. Somehow it didn't look a smiling matter. 
No, it was not funny ; it was rather pathetic ; he was so 
representative of aU the past victims of the Great Joke. 
But it is by folly alone that the world moves, and so it 
is a respectable thing upon the whole. And besides, he 
was what one would call a good man. I don't mean 
especially because he had offered up a prayer. No ! He 
was really a decent feUow, he was quite unfitted for this 
world, he was a failure, a good man cornered — a sight \ 
for the gods ; for no decent mortal cares to look at that 
sort." A thought seemed to occur to him. He turned 
his face to the girl. " And you, who have been cornered 
too — did you think of offering a prayer ? " 

Neither her eyes nor a single one of her features moved 
the least bit. She only let faU the words : 

" I am not what they call a good girl." , 

" That sounds evasive," said Heyst after a short silence. 
" Well, the good fellow did pray and after he had confessed 
to it I was struck by the comicahty of the situation. No, 
don't misunderstand me — I am not aUuding to his act, 
of course. And even the idea of Eternity, Infinity, 
Omnipotence, being called upon to defeat the conspiracy 



200 VICTORY 

of two miserable Portuguese half-castes did not move 
my mirth. From the point of view of the supplicant, 
the danger to be conjured was something like the end of 
the world, or worse. No ! What captivated my fancy 
was that I, Axel Heyst, the most detached of creatures in 
this earthly captivity, the veriest tramp on this earth, an 
indifferent stroller going through the world's bustle — that 
I should have been there to step into the situation of an 
agent of Providence, I, a man of universal scorn and 
unbelief. ..." 

" You are putting it on," she interrupted in her seductive 
voice, with a coaxing intonation. 

" No. I am like that, born or fashioned, or both. I 
am not for nothing the son of my father, of that man in 
the painting. I am he, all but the genius. And there is 
even less in me than I make out, because the very scorn 
is falling away from me year after year. I have never 
been so amused as by that episode in which I was suddenly 
called to act such an incredible part. For a moment I 
enjoyed it greatly. I got him out of his corner, you 
know." 

" You saved a man for fun — is that what you mean ? 
Just for fun ? " 

" Why this tone of suspicion ? " remonstrated Heyst. 
" I suppose the sight of this particular distress was dis- 
agreeable to me. What you call fun came afterward, 
when it dawned on me that I was for him a walking, 
breathing, incarnate proof of the efficacy of prayer. I was 
a little fascinated by it — and then, could I have argued 
with him ? You don't argue against such evidence, and 
besides it would have looked as if I had wanted to claim 
all the merit. Already his gratitude was simply frightful. 
Funny position, wasn't it ? The boredom came later, 
when we lived together on board his ship. I had, in a 



VICTORY 201 

moment of inadvertence, created for myself a tie. How 
to define it precisely I don't know. One gets attached in a 
way to people one has done something for. But is that 
friendship ? I am not sure what it was. I only know 
that he who forms a tie is lost. The germ of corruption 
has entered into his soul." 

Heyst's tone was light, with the flavour of playfulness 
which seasoned all his speeches and seemed to be of the 
very essence of his thoughts. The girl he had come across, 
of whom he had possessed himself, to whose presence he 
was not yet accustomed, with whom he did not yet know 
how to live ; that human being so near and still so strange, 
gave him a greater sense of his own reality than he had 
ever known in all his life. 



IV 



WITH her knees drawn up, Lena rested her elbows on 
them and held her head in both her hands. 

" Are you tired of sitting here ? " Heyst asked. 

An almost imperceptible negative movement of the 
head was all the answer she made. 

" Why are you looking so serious ? " he pursued, and 
immediately thought that habitual seriousness, in the 
long run, was much more bearable than constant gaiety. 
" However, this expression suits you exceedingly," he 
added, not diplomatically, but because, by the tendency 
of his taste, it was a true statement. " And as long as I 
can be certain that it is not boredom which gives you this 
severe air, I am willing to sit here and look at you till you 
are ready to go." 

And this was true. He was still under the fresh sortilege 
of their common life, the surprise of novelty, the flattered 
vanity of his possession of this woman ; for a man must 
feel that, unless he has ceased to be masculine. Her eyes 
moved in his direction, rested on him, then returned to 
their stare into the deeper gloom at the foot of the straight 
tree-trunks, whose spreading crowns were slowly with- 
drawing their shade. The warm air stirred slightly about 
her motionless head. She would not look at him, from 
some obscure fear of betraying herself. She felt in her 

innermost depths an irresistible desire to give herself 

202 



VICTORY 203 

up to him more completely, by some act of absolute 
sacrifice. This was something of which he did not seem 
to have an idea. He was a strange being without needs. 
She felt his eyes fixed upon her ; and as he kept silent, 
she said uneasily — for she didn't know what his silences 
might mean : 

" And so you lived with that friend — that good 
man ? " 

" Excellent fellow," Heyst responded, with a readiness 
that she did not expect. " But it was a weakness on my 
part. I really didn't want to, only he wouldn't let me off, 
and I couldn't explain. He was the sort of man to whom 
you can't explain anything. He was extremely sensitive, 
and it would have been a tigerish thing to do to mangle 
his delicate feelings by the sort of plain speaking that 
would have been necessary. His mind was like a white- 
walled, pure chamber, furnished with, say, six straw- 
bottomed chairs, and he was always placing and displacing 
them in various combinations. But they were always the 
same chairs. He was extremely easy to live with ; but 
then he got hold of this coal idea — or, rather, the idea 
got hold of him. It entered into that scantily furnished 
chamber of which I have just spoken, and sat on all the 
chairs. There was no dislodging it, you know ! It was 
going to make his fortune, my fortune, everybody's fortune. 
In past years, in moments of doubt that will come to a man 
determined to remain free from absurdities of existence, I 
often asked myself, with a momentary dread, in what way 
would life try to get hold of me ? And this was the way ! 
He got it into his head that he could do nothing without 
me. And was I now, he asked me, to spurn and ruin 
him ? Well, one morning — I wonder if he had gone 
down on his knees to pray that night ! — one morning I 
gave in." 



204 VICTORY 

Heyst tugged violently at a tuft of dried grass, and cast 
it away from him with a nervous gesture. 

" I gave in," he repeated. 

Looking toward him with a movement of her eyes 
only, the girl noticed the strong feeling on his face with 
that intense interest which his person awakened in her 
mind and in her heart. But it soon passed away, leaving 
only a moody expression. 

" It's difficult to resist where nothing matters," he 
observed. " And perhaps there is a grain of freakishness 
in my nature. It amused me to go about uttering silly, 
commonplace phrases. I was never so well thought of in 
the islands till I began to jabber commercial gibberish 
like the veriest idiot. Upon my word, I believe that I 
was actually respected for a time. I was as grave as an 
owl over it ; I had to be loyal to the man. I have been 
from first to last, completely, utterly loyal to the best of 
my ability. I thought he understood something about 
coal. And if I had been aware that he knew nothing of it, 
as in fact he didn't, well — I don't know what I could 
have done to stop him. In one way or another I should 
have had to be loyal. Truth, work, ambition, love itself, 
may be only counters in the lamentable or despicable game 
of life, but when one takes a hand one must play the game. 
No, the shade of Morrison needn't haunt me. What's 
the matter ? I say, Lena, why are you staring like that ? 
Do you feel ill ? " 

Heyst made as if to get on his feet. The girl extended 
her arm to arrest him, and he remained staring in a sitting 
posture, propped on one arm, observing her indefinable 
expression of anxiety, as if she were unable to draw breath. 

" What has come to you ? " he insisted, feeling strangely 
unwilling to move, to touch her. 

Nothing." She swallowed painfully. '' Of course 



(( 



VICTORY 205 

it can't be. What name did you say ? I didn't hear 
it properly." 

" Name ? " repeated Heyst dazedly. " I only men- 
tioned Morrison. It's the name of that man of whom I've 
been speaking. What of it ? " 

" And you mean to say that he was your friend ? " 

" You have heard enough to judge for yourself. You 
know as much of our connection as I know myself. The 
people in this part of the world went by appearances, 
and called us friends, as far as I can remember. Appear- 
ances — what more, what better can you ask for ? In 
fact you can't have better. You can't have anything 
else." 

" You are trying to confuse me with your talk," she 
cried. " You can't make fun of this." 

" Can't ? Well, no» I can't. It's a pity. Perhaps 
it would have been the best way," said Heyst, in a tone 
which for him could be called gloomy. " Unless one could 
forget the silly business altogether." His faint playfulness 
of manner and speech returned, like a habit one has schooled 
oneself into, even before his forehead had cleared com- 
pletely. " But why are you looking so hard at me ? 
Oh, I don't object, and I shall try not to flinch. Your 
eyes — " 

He was looking straight into them, and as a matter of 
fact had forgotten all about the late Morrison at that 
moment. 

" No," he exclaimed suddenly. " What an impenetrable 
girl you are, Lena, with those grey eyes of yours ! Windows 
of the soul, as some poet has said. The fellow must have 
been a glazier by vocation. Well, nature has provided 
excellently for the shyness of your soul." 

When he ceased speaking, the girl came to herself with a 
catch of her breath. He heard her voice, the varied charm 



2o6 VICTORY 

of which he thought he knew so well, saying with an un- 
familiar intonation : 

" And that partner of yours is dead ? " 

" Morrison ? Oh, yes, as I've told you, he — " 

" You never told me." 

" Didn't I ? I thought I did ; or, rather, I thought you 
must know. It seems impossible that anybody with whom 
I speak should not know that Morrison is dead." 

She lowered her eyelids, and Heyst was startled by some- 
thing like an expression of horror on her face. 

" Morrison ! " she whispered in an'appalled tone. " Mor- 
rison ! " Her head drooped. Unable to see her features, 
Heyst could tell from her voice that for some reason or 
other she was profoundly moved by the syllables of that 
unromantic name. A thought flashed through his head 
— could she have known Morrison ? But the mere differ- 
ence of their origins made it wildly improbable. 

" This is very extraordinary ! " he said. *' Have you 
ever heard the name before ? " 

Her head moved quickly several times in tiny affirmative 
nods, as if she could not trust herself to speak, or even to 
look at him. She was biting her lower lip. 

" Did you ever know anybody of that name ? " he asked. 

The girl answered by a negative sign ; and then at last 
she spoke, jerkily, as if forcing herself against some doubt 
or fear. She had heard of that very man, she told Heyst. 

" Impossible ! " he said positively. " You are mis- 
taken. You couldn't have heard of him. It's — " 

He stopped short, with the thought that to talk like this 
was perfectly useless ; that one doesn't argue against thin 
air. 

" But I did hear of him ; only I didn't know then, I 
couldn't guess, that it was your partner they were talking 
about." 



VICTORY 207 






Talking about my partner ? " repeated Heyst slowly. 
No." Her mind seemed almost as bewildered, as full 
of incredulity, as his. " No. They were talking of you, 
really ; only I didn't know it." 

" Who were they ? " Heyst raised his voice. " Who 
was talking of me ? Talking where ? " 

With the first question he had lifted himself from his 
reclining position ; at the last he was on his knees before 
her, their heads on a level. 

"Why, in that town, in that hotel. Where else could 
it have been ? " she said. 

The idea of being talked about was always novel to 
Heyst's simplified conception of himself. For a moment 
he was as much surprised as if he had believed himself to 
be a mere gliding shadow among men. Besides, he had in 
him a half -unconscious notion that he was above the level 
of island gossip. 

" But you said first that it was of Morrison they talked," 
he remarked to the girl, sinking on his heels, and no longer 
much interested. " Strange that you should have the op- 
portunity to hear any talk at all ! I was rather under 
the impression that you never saw anybody belonging to 
the town except from the platform." 

" You forget that I was not living with the other girls," 
she said. " After meals they used to go back to the 
Pavilion, but I had to stay in the hotel and do my sewing, 
or what not, in the room where they talked." 

" I didn't think of that. By the by, you never told me 
who they were." 

** Why, that horrible red-faced beast," she said, with all 
the energy of disgust which the mere thought of the hotel- 
keeper provoked in her. 

" Oh, Schomberg ! " Heyst murmured carelessly. 

" He talked to the boss — to Zangiacomo, I mean. I had 



2o8 VICTORY 

to sit there. That devil-woman sometimes wouldn't let 
me go away. I mean Mrs. Zangiacomo." 

" I guessed," murmured Heyst. " She liked to torment 
you in a variety of ways. But it is really strange that the 
hotel-keeper should talk of Morrison to Zangiacomo. As 
far as I can remember he saw very little of Morrison pro- 
fessionally. He knew many others much better." 

The girl shuddered slightly. 

" That was the only name I ever overheard. I would 
get as far away from them as I could, to the other end of 
the room ; but when that beast started shouting, I could 
not help hearing. I wish I had never heard anything. If 
I had got up and gone out of the room I don't suppose the 
woman would have killed me for it ; but she would have 
rowed me in a nasty way. She would have threatened me 
and called me names. That sort, when they know you 
are helpless, there's nothing to stop them. I don't 
know how it is, but bad people, real bad people that 
you can see are bad, they get over me somehow. It's 
the way they set about downing one. I am afraid of 
wickedness." 

Heyst watched the changing expressions of her face. 
He encouraged her, profoundly sympathetic, a little 
amused. 

" I quite understand. You needn't apologise for your 
great delicacy in the perception of inhuman evil. I am 
a little like you." 

" I am not very plucky," she said. 

" Well ! I don't know myself what I would do, what 
countenance I would have before a creature which would 
strike me as being the evil incarnate. Don't you be 

ashamed." 

She sighed, looked up with her pale, candid gaze and a 
timid expression of her face, and murmured : 



VICTORY 209 






You don't seem to want to know what he was saying." 
About poor Morrison ? It couldn't have been any- 
thing bad, for the poor fellow was innocence itself. And 
then, you know, he is dead, and nothing can possibly 
matter to him now." 

" But I tell you that it was of you he was talking ! " she 
cried. " He was saying that Morrison's partner first got 
all there was to get out of him, and then, and then — well, 
as good as murdered him — sent him out to die some- 
where ! " 

" You believed that of me ? " said Heyst, after a moment 
of perfect silence. 

" I didn't know it had anything to do with you. Schom- 
berg was talking of some Swede. How was I to know ? 
It was only when you began telling me about how you 
came here — " 

" And now you have my version." Heyst forced him- 
self to speak quietly. " So that's how the business looked 
from outside ! " he muttered. 

" I remember him saying that everybody in these parts 
knew the story," the girl added breathlessly. 

" Strange that it should hurt me ! " mused Heyst to 
himself ; " yet it does. I seem to be as much of a fool as 
those everybodies who know the story — and no doubt 
believe it. Can you remember any more ? " he addressed 
the girl in a grimly polite tone. " I've often heard of the 
moral advantages of seeing oneself as others see one. Let 
us investigate further. Can't you recall something else 
that everybody knows ? " 

" Oh ! Don't laugh ! " she cried. 

" Did I laugh ? I assure you I was not aware of it. I 
won't ask you whether you believe the hotel-keeper's 
version. Surely you must know the value of human 
judgment." 
14 



iio VICTORY 

She unclasped her hands, moved them sHghtly, and 
twined her fingers as before. Protest ? Assent ? Was 
there to be nothing more ? He was relieved when she 
spoke in that warm and wonderful voice which in itself 
comforted and fascinated one's heart, which made her 
lovable. 

" I heard this before you and I ever spoke to each 
other. It went out of my memory afterwards. Every- 
thing went out of my memory then ; and I was glad of 
it. It was a fresh start for me, with you — and you know 
it. I wish I had forgotten who I was — that would have 
been best ; and I very nearly did forget." 

He was moved by the vibrating quality of the last 
words. She seemed to be talking low of some wonderful 
enchantment, in mysterious terms of special significance. 
He thought that if she only could talk to him in some 
unknown tongue, she would enslave him altogether by 
the sheer beauty of the sound, suggesting infinite depths 
of wisdom and feeling. 

" But," she went on, " the name stuck in my head, it 
seems ; and when you mentioned it — " 

" It broke the spell," muttered Heyst in angry dis- 
appointment, as if he had been deceived in some hope. 

The girl, from her position a little above him, surveyed 
with still eyes the abstracted silence of the man on whom 
she now depended with a completeness of which she had 
not been vividly conscious before, because, till then, she 
had never felt herself swinging between the abysses of 
earth and heaven in the hollow of his arm. What if he 
should grow weary of the burden. 

" And, moreover, nobody had ever believed that 
tale ! " 

Heyst came out with an abrupt burst of sound which 
made her open her steady eyes wider, with an effect of 



VICTORY 211 

immense surprise. It was a purely mechanical effect, 
because she was neither surprised nor puzzled. In fact, 
she could understand him better then than at any moment 
since she first set eyes on him. 
He laughed scornfully. 

" What am I thinking of ? " he cried. " As if it could 
matter to me what anybody had ever said or beheved, 
from the beginning of the world till the crack of doom ! " 

" I never heard you laugh till to-day," she observed. 
" This is the second time." 
He scrambled to his feet and towered above her. 
" That's because, when one's heart has been broken 
into in the way you have broken into mine, all sorts of 
weaknesses are free to enter — shame, anger, stupid in- 
dignations, stupid fears — stupid laughter, too. I wonder 
what interpretation you are putting on it ? " 

" It wasn't gay, certainly," she said. " But why 
are you angry with me ? Are you sorry you took me 
away from those beasts ? I told you who I was. You 
could see it." 

'* Heavens ! " he muttered. He had regained his 
command of himself. " I assure you I could see much 
more than you could tell me. I could see quite a lot 
that you don't even suspect yet ; but you can't be seen 
quite through." 

He sank to the ground by her side and took her hand. 
She asked gently : 

" What more do you want from me ? " 
He made no sound for a time. 

" The impossible, I suppose," he said very low, as one 
makes a confidence, and pressing the hand he grasped. 

It did not return the pressure. He shook his head 
as if to drive away the thought of this, and added in a 
louder, light tone : 



212 VICTORY 



tt 



Nothing less. And it isn't because I think little 
of what I've got already. Oh, no ! It is because I think 
so much of this possession of mine that I can't have it 
complete enough. I know it's unreasonable. You can't 
hold back anything — now." 

" Indeed I couldn't," she whispered, letting her hand 
lie passive in his tight grasp. " I only wish I could give 
you something more, or better, or whatever it is you 
want." 

He was touched by the sincere accent of these simple 
words. 

" I tell you what you can do — you can tell me whether 
you would have gone with me like this if you had known 
of whom that abominable idiot of a hotel-keeper was 
speaking. A murderer — no less ! " 

" But I didn't know you at all then," she cried. " And 
I had the sense to understand what he was saying. It 
wasn't murder, really. I never thought it was." 

" What made him invent such an atrocity ? " Heyst 
exclaimed. " He seems a stupid animal. He is stupid. 
How did he manage to hatch that pretty tale ? Have I a 
particularly vile countenance ? Is black selfishness written 
all over my face ? Or is that sort of thing so universally 
human that it might be said of anybody ? " 

" It wasn't murder," she insisted earnestly. 

" I know. I understand. It was worse. As to kiUing 
a man, which would be a comparatively decent thing to 
do, well — I have never done that." 

" Why should you do it ? " she asked in a frightened 
voice. 

" My dear girl, you don't know the sort of hfe I have 
been leading in unexplored countries, in the wilds ; it's 
difficult to give you an idea. There are men who haven't 
been in such tight places as I have found myself in who 



VICTORY 213 

have had to — to shed blood, as the saying is. Even the 
wilds hold prizes which tempt some people ; but I had 
no schemes, no plans — and not even great firmness of 
mind to make me unduly obstinate. I was simply moving 
on, while the others, perhaps, were going somewhere. 
An indifference as to roads and purposes makes one 
meeker, as it were. And I may say truly, too, that I 
never did care, I won't say for hfe — I had scorned what 
people call by that name from the first — but for being 
ahve. I don't know if that is what men call courage, 
but I doubt it very much." 

" You ! You have no courage ? " she protested. 

" I really don't know. Not the sort that always itches 
for a weapon, for I have never been anxious to use one in 
the quarrels that a man gets into in the most innocent 
way, sometimes. The differences for which men murder 
each other are, Hke everything else they do, the most 
contemptible, the most pitiful things to look back upon. 
No, I've never killed a man or loved a woman — not even 
in my thoughts, not even in my dreams." 

He raised her hand to his lips, and let them rest on it 
for a space, during which she moved a Httle closer to him. 
After the lingering kiss he did not rehnquish his hold. 

'* To slay, to love — the greatest enterprises of life upon 
a man ! And I have no experience of either. You must 
forgive me anything that may have appeared to you 
awkward in my behaviour, inexpressive in my speeches, 
untimely in my silences." 

He moved uneasily, a little disappointed by her attitude, 
but indulgent to it, and feeling, in this moment of perfect 
quietness, that in holding her surrendered hand he had 
found a closer communion than they had ever achieved 
before. But even then there still lingered in him a sense 
of incompleteness not altogether overcome — which, it 



214 VICTORY 

seemed, nothing ever would overcome — the fatal imper- 
fection of all the gifts of life, which makes of them a 
delusion and a snare. 

All of a sudden he squeezed her hand angrily. His 
delicately playful equanimity, the product of kindness 
and scorn, had perished with the loss of his bitter liberty. 

" Not murder, you say ! I should think not. But when 
you led me to talk just now, when the name turned up, 
when you understood that it was of me that these things 
had been said, you showed a strange emotion. I could 
see it." 

" I was a bit startled," she said. 

" At the baseness of my conduct ? " he asked. 

" I wouldn't judge you ; not for anything." 

" ReaUy ? " 

" It would be as if I dared to judge everything that 
there is." With her other hand she made a gesture that 
seemed to embrace in one movement the earth and the 
heaven. " I wouldn't do such a thing." 

Then came a silence, broken at last by Heyst : 

" I ! I ! do a deadly wrong to my poor Morrison ! " 
he cried. " I, who could not bear to hurt his feeUngs ! 
I, who respected his very madness ! Yes, this madness, 
the wreck of which you can see lying about the jetty of 
Diamond Bay. What else could I do ? He insisted on 
regarding me as his saviour ; he was always restraining 
the eternal obligation on the tip of his tongue, till I was 
burning with shame at his gratitude. What could I do ? 
He was going to repay me with this infernal coal, and I 
had to join him as one joins a child's game in a nursery. 
One would no more have thought of humi hating him than 
one would think of humiliating a child. What's the use 
of talking of all this ! Of course, the people here could 
not understand the truth of our relation to each other. 



VICTORY 215 

But what business of theirs was it ? Kill old Morrison ! 
Well, it is less criminal, less base — I am not saying it is 
less difficult — to kill a man than to cheat him in that way. 
You understand that ? " 

She nodded shghtly, but more than once and with 
evident conviction. His eyes rested on her, inquisitive, 
ready for tenderness. 

" But it was neither one nor the other," he went on. 
" Then, why your emotion ? All you confess is that 
you wouldn't judge me." 

She turned upon him her veiled, unseeing grey eyes in 
which nothing of her wonder could be read. 

" I said I couldn't," she whispered. 

" But you thought that there was no smoke without 
fire ! " The playfulness of tone hardly concealed his 
irritation. " What power there must be in words, only 
imperfectly heard — for you did not listen with particular 
care, did you ? What were they ? What evil effort of 
invention drove them into that idiot's mouth out of his 
lying throat ? If you were to try to remember, they 
would perhaps convince me, too." 

" I didn't listen," she protested. " What was it to 
me what they said of anybody ? He was saying that 
there never were such loving friends to look at as you 
two ; then, when you got all you wanted out of him and 
got thoroughly tired of him, too, you kicked him out to 
go home and die." 

Indignation, with an undercurrent of some other 
feehng, rang in these quoted words, uttered in her pure 
and enchanting voice. She ceased abruptly and lowered 
her long, dark lashes, as if mortally weary, sick at 
heart. 

" Of course, why shouldn't you get tired of that or 
any other — company ? You aren't like any one else. 



2i6 VICTORY 

and — and the thought of it made me unhappy suddenly ; 
but indeed, I did not beheve anything bad of you. I — " 

A brusque movement of his arm, flinging her hand 
away, stopped her short. Heyst had again lost control 
of himself. He would have shouted, if shouting had been 
in his character. 

" No, this earth must be the appointed hatching planet 
of calumny enough to furnish the whole universe ! I 
feel a disgust at my own person, as if I had tumbled into 
some filthy hole. Pah I And you — all you can say is 
that you won't judge me ; that you — " 

She raised her head at this attack, though indeed he 
had not turned to her. 

" I don't believe anything bad of you," she repeated. 
" I couldn't." 

He made a gesture as if to say : 

" That's sufficient." 

In his soul and in his body he experienced a nervous 
reaction from tenderness. All at once, without transition, 
he detested her. But only for a moment. He remembered 
that she was pretty, and, more, that she had a special grace 
in the intimacy of life. She had the secret of individuality 
which excites — and escapes. 

He jumped up and began to walk to and fro. Presently 
his hidden fury fell into dust within him, like a crazy 
structure, leaving behind emptiness, desolation, regret. 
His resentment was not against the girl, but against life 
itself — that commonest of snares, in which he felt himself 
caught, seeing clearly the plot of plots and unconsoled by 
the lucidity of his mind. 

He swerved and, stepping up to her, sank to the ground 
by her side. Before she could make a movement, or even 
turn her head his way, he took her in his arms and kissed 
her lips. He tasted on them the bitterness of a tear fallen 



VICTORY 217 

there. He had never seen her cry. It was like another 
appeal to his tenderness — a new seduction. The girl 
glanced round, moved suddenly away, and averted her 
face. With her hand she signed imperiously to him to 
leave her alone — a command which Heyst did not obey. 



WHEN she opened her eyes at last and sat up, Heyst 
scrambled quickly to his feet and went to pick up 
her cork helmet, which had rolled a little way off. Mean- 
while she busied herself in doing up her hair, plaited on 
the top of her head in two heavy, dark tresses, which had 
come loose. He tendered her the helmet in silence, and 
waited as if unwilling to hear the sound of his own voice. 

" We had better go down now," he suggested in a 
low tone. 

He extended his hand to help her up. He had the 
intention to smile, but abandoned it at the nearer sight 
of her still face, in which was depicted the infinite lassi- 
tude of her soul. On their way to regain the forest path 
they had to pass through the spot from which the view of 
the sea could be obtained. The flaming abyss of emptiness, 
the Uquid, undulating glare, the tragic brutality of the 
light, made her long for the friendly night, with its stars 
stilled by an austere spell ; for the velvety dark sky and 
the mysterious great shadow of the sea, conveying peace 
to the day-weary heart. She put her hand to her eyes. 
Behind her back Heyst spoke gently. 

" Let us get on, Lena." 

She walked ahead in silence. Heyst remarked that 
they had never been out before during the hottest hours. 
It would do her no good, he feared. This solicitude 
pleased and soothed her. She felt more and more like 

2l8 



VICTORY 219 

herself — a poor London girl playing in an orchestra, and 
snatched out from the humiliations, the squalid dangers 
of a miserable existence, by a man like whom there was not, 
there could not be, another in this world. She felt this 
with elation, with uneasiness, with an intimate pride — and 
with a peculiar sinking of the heart. 

" I am not easily knocked out by any such thing as 
heat," she said decisively. 

" Yes, but I don't forget that you're not a tropical 
bird." 

" You weren't born in these parts, either," she re- 
turned. 

" No, and perhaps I haven't even your physique. I 
am a transplanted being. Transplanted ! I ought to 
call myself uprooted — an unnatural state of existence ; 
but a man is supposed to stand anything." 

She looked back at him and received a smile. He 
told her to keep in the shelter of the forest path, which 
was very still and close, full of heat if free from glare. 
Now and then they had glimpses of the company's old 
clearing blazing with light, in which the black stumps 
of trees stood charred, without shadows, miserable and 
sinister. They crossed the open in a direct line for the 
bungalow. On the veranda they fancied they had a glimpse 
of a vanishing Wang, though the girl was not at all sure 
that she had seen anything move. Heyst had no doubts. 

" Wang has been looking out for us. We are late." 

'* Was he ? I thought I saw something white for a 
moment, and then I did not see it any more." 

" That's it — he vanishes. It's a very remarkable gift 
in that Chinaman." 

" Are they all like that ? " she asked with naive curiosity 
and uneasiness. 

** Not in such perfection," said Heyst, amused. 



220 VICTORY 

He noticed with approval that she was not heated by 
the walk. The drops of perspiration on her forehead were 
like dew on the cool, white petal of a flower. He looked 
at her figure of grace and strength, solid and supple, with 
an ever growing appreciation. 

" Go in and rest yourself for a quarter of an hour ; and 
then Mr. Wang will give us something to eat," he said. 

They had found the table laid. When they came to- 
gether again and sat down to it, Wang materialised without 
a sound, unheard, uncalled, and did his ofi&ce. Which 
being accomplished, at a given moment he was not. 

A great silence brooded over Samburan — the silence of 
the great heat that seems pregnant with fatal issues, like 
the silence of ardent thought. Heyst remained alone in 
the big room. The girl seeing him take up a book, had 
retreated to her chamber. Heyst sat down under his 
father's portrait ; and the abominable calumny crept 
back into his recollection. The taste of it came on his 
lips, nauseating and corrosive like some kinds of poison. 
He was tempted to spit on the floor, naively, in sheer 
unsophisticated disgust of the physical sensation. He 
shook his head, surprised at himself. He was not used 
to receive his intellectual impressions in that way — re- 
flected in movements of carnal emotion. He stirred 
impatiently in his chair, and raised the book to his eyes 
with both hands. It was one of his father's. He opened 
it haphazard, and his eyes fell on the middle of the page. 
The elder Heyst had written of everything in many books 
— of space and of time, of animals and of stars ; analysing 
ideas and actions, the laughter and the frowns of men, 
and the grimaces of their agony. The son read, shrinking 
into himself, composing his face as if under the author's 
eye, with a vivid consciousness of the portrait on his right 
hand, a little above his head ; a wonderful presence in its 



VICTORY 221 

heavy frame on the flimsy wall of mats, looking exiled and 
at home, out of place and masterful, in the painted im- 
mobility of profile. 

And Heyst, the son, read : 

Of the stratagems of life the most cruel is the consolation 
of love — the most subtle, too ; for the desire is the bed of 
dreams. 

He turned the pages of the little volume, "Storm and 
Dust," glancing here and there at the broken text of re- 
flections, maxims, short phrases, enigmatical sometimes 
and sometimes eloquent. It seemed to him that he was 
hearing his father's voice, speaking and ceasing to speak 
again. Startled at first, he ended by finding a charm 
in the illusion. He abandoned himself to the half-belief 
that something of his father dwelt yet on earth — a ghostly 
voice, audible to the ear of his own flesh and blood. With 
what strange serenity, mingled with terrors, had that man 
considered the universal nothingness ! He had plunged 
into it headlong, perhaps to render death, the answer 
that faced one at every inquiry, more supportable. 

Heyst stirred, and the ghostly voice ceased ; but his 
eyes followed the words on the last page of the book : 

Men of tormented conscience, or of a criminal imagination, 
are aware of much that minds of a peaceful, resigned cast 
do not even suspect. It is not poets alone who dare 
descend into the abyss of infernal regions, or even who 
dream of such a descent. The most inexpressive of human 
beings must have said to himself, at one time or another : 
" Anything but this !".... 

We all have our instants of clairvoyance. They are 
not very helpful. The character of the scheme does not 
permit that or anything else to be helpful. Properly 
speaking its character, judged by the standards established 
by its victims, is infamous. It excuses every violence of 
protest and at the same time never fails to crush it, just 
as it crushes the blindest assent. The so-called wickedness 



(( 
<( 



222 VICTORY 

must be, like the so-called virtue, its own reward — to be 
anything at all. . . . 

Clairvoyance or no clairvoyance, men love their cap- 
tivity. To the unknown force of negation they prefer 
the miserably tumbled bed of their servitude. Man 
alone can give one the disgust of pity ; yet I find it easier 
to believe in the misfortune of mankind than in its 
wickedness. 

These were the last words. Heyst lowered the book 
to his knees. Lena's voice spoke above his drooping head : 
You sit there as if you were unhappy." 
I thought you were asleep," he said. 

" I was lying down, right enough, but I never closed my 
eyes." 

" The rest would have done you good after our walk. 
Didn't you try ? " 

I was l3nng down, I tell you, but sleep I couldn't." 
And you made no sound ! What want of sincerity ! 
Or did you want to be alone for a time ? " 

" I — alone ! " she murmured. 

He noticed her eyeing the book, and got up to put it 
back in the bookcase. When he turned round, he baw 
that she had dropped into the chair — it was the one she 
always used — and looked as if her strength had suddenly 
gone from her, leaving her only her youth, which seemed 
very pathetic, very much at his mercy. He moved 
quickly toward the chair. 

** Tired, are you ? It's my fault, taking you up so high 
and keeping you out so long. Such a windless day, too ! " 

She watched his concern, her pose languid, her eyes 
raised to him, but as unreadable as ever. He avoided 
looking into them for that very reason. He forgot him- 
self in the contemplation of those passive arms, of these 
defenceless lips, and — yes, one had to go back to them — 
of these wide open eyes. Something wild in their grey 



(( 



(( 



VICTORY 223 

stare made him think of sea-birds in the cold murkiness 
of high latitudes. He started when she spoke, all the 
charm of physical intimacy revealed suddenly in that 
voice. 

" You should try to love me ! " she said. 

He had a movement of astonishment. 

•* Try ! " he muttered. " But it seems to me—" He 
broke off, saying to himself that if he loved her, he had 
never told her so in so many words. Simple words ! 
They died on his lips. " What makes you say that ? " 
he asked. 

She lowered her eyelids and turned her head a 
little. 

** I have done nothing," she said in a low voice. *' It's 
you who have been good, helpful, and tender to me. 
Perhaps you love me for that — just for that ; or perhaps 
you love me for company, and because — well ! But 
sometimes it seems to me that you can never love me 
for myself, only for myself, as people do love each other 
when it is to be for ever." Her head drooped. " For 
ever," she breathed out again; then, still more faintly, 
she added an entreating : " Do try ! " 

These last words went straight to his heart — the sound 
of them more than the sense. He did not know what to 
say, either from want of practice in dealing with women, 
or simply from his innate honesty of thought. All his 
defences were broken now. Life had him fairly by the 
throat. But he managed a smile, though she was not 
looking at him ; yes, he did manage it — the well-known 
Heyst smile of playful courtesy, so familiar to all sorts 
and conditions of men in the islands. 

" My dear Lena," he said, " it looks as if you were 
tr5dng to pick a very unnecessary quarrel with me — 
of all people ! " 



224 VICTORY 

She made no movement. With his elbows spread out, 
he was twisting the ends of his long moustaches, very 
masculine and perplexed, enveloped in the atmosphere 
of femininity as in a cloud, suspecting pitfalls, and as if 
afraid to move. 

" I must admit, though," he added, " that there is no 
one else ; and I suppose a certain amount of quarrelling 
is necessary for existence in this world." 

That girl, seated in her chair in graceful quietude, was 
to him hke a script in an unknown language, or even more 
simply mysterious : Hke any writing to the iUiterate. As 
far as women went he was altogether uninstructed and 
he had not the gift of intuition which is fostered in the 
days of youth by dreams and visions, exercises of the 
heart fitting it for the encounters of a world in which love 
itself rests as much on antagonism as on attraction. His 
mental attitude was that of a man looking this way and 
that on a piece of writing which he is unable to decipher, 
but which may be big with some revelation. He didn't 
know what to say. All he found to add was : 

*' I don't even understand what I have done or left 
undone to distress you like this." 

He stopped, struck afresh by the physical and moral 
sense of the imperfection of their relations — a sense which 
made him desire her constant nearness, before his eyes, 
under his hand, and which, when she was out of his sight, 
made her so vague, so illusive and illusory, a promise 
that could not be embraced and held. 

" No 1 I don't see clearly what you mean. Is your 
mind turned towards the future ? " he interpellated her 
with marked playfulness, because he was ashamed to let 
such a word pass his Hps. But all his cherished negations 
were faUing off him one by one. 

" Because if it is so there is nothing easier than to 



VICTORY 225 

dismiss it. In our future, as in what people call the other 
life, there is nothing to be frightened of." 

She raised her eyes to him ; and if nature had formed 
them to express anything else but blank candour he would 
have learned how terrified she was by his talk and the 
fact that her sinking heart loved him more desperately 
than ever. He smiled at her. 

** Dismiss all thought of it," he insisted. " Surely you 
don't suspect after what I have heard from you, that I 
am anxious to return to mankind. II I ! murder my 
poor Morrison ! It's possible that I may be really capable 
of that which they say I have done. The point is that 
I haven't done it. But it is an unpleasant subject to 
me. I ought to be ashamed to confess it — but it is I 
Let us forget it. There's that in you, Lena, which 
can console me for worse things, for uglier passages. 
And if we forget, there are no voices here to remind 
us." 

She had raised her head before he paused. 

" Nothing can break in on us here," he went on and as 
if there had been an appeal or a provocation in her upward 
glance, he bent down and took her under the arms, raising 
her straight out of the chair into a sudden and close 
embrace. Her alacrity to respond, which made her seem 
as Hght as a feather, warmed his heart at that moment 
more than closer caresses had done before. He had not 
expected that ready impulse toward himself which had 
been dormant in her passive attitude. He had just felt 
the clasp of her arms round his neck, when, with a shght 
exclamation — " He's here ! " — she disengaged herself and 
bolted away into her room. 



15 



H 



VI 

EYST was astounded. Looking all round, as if 
to take the whole room to witness of this outrage, 
he became aware of Wang materialised in the doorway. 
The intrusion was as surprising as anything could be, in 
view of the strict regularity with which Wang made 
himself visible. Heyst was tempted to laugh at first. 
This practical comment on his affirmation that nothing 
could break in on them relieved the strain of his feehngs. 
He was a little vexed, too. The Chinaman preserved a 
profound silence. 

" What do you want ? " asked Heyst sternly. 

** Boat out there," said the Chinaman. 

** Where ? What do you mean ? Boat adrift in the 
straits ? " 

Some subtle change in Wang's bearing suggested his 
being out of breath ; but he did not pant, and his voice 
was steady. 

" No— row." 

It was Heyst now who was startled and raised his voice. 

" Malay man, eh ? " 

Wang made a slight negative movement with his head. 

" Do you hear, Lena ? " Heyst called out. " Wang says 
there is a boat in sight — somewhere near, apparently. 
Where's that boat, Wang ? " 

" Round the point," said Wang, leaping into Malay un- 
expectedly, and in a loud voice. " White men — three." 

236 



VICTORY 227 

" So close as that ? '* exclaimed Heyst, moving out 
on the veranda followed by Wang. " White men ? Im- 
possible ! " 

Over the clearing the shadows were already lengthening. 
The sun hung low ; a ruddy glare lay on the burnt black 
patch in front of the bungalow, and slanted on the ground 
between the straight, tall, mast-like trees soaring a hundred 
feet or more without a branch. The growth of bushes 
cut off all view of the jetty from the veranda. Far away 
to the right Wang's hut, or rather its dark roof of mats, 
could be seen above the bamboo fence which insured the 
privacy of the Alfuro woman. The Chinaman looked that 
way swiftly. Heyst paused, and then stepped back a 
pace into the room. 

" White men, Lena, apparently. What are you doing ? " 

" I am just bathing my eyes a httle," the girl's voice 
said from the inner room. 

" Oh, yes ; all right ! " 

*' Do you want me ? " 

" No. You had better — I am going down to the jetty. 
Yes, you had better stay in. What an extraordinary 
thing ! " 

It was so extraordinary that nobody could possibly 
appreciate how extraordinary it was but himself. His 
mind was full of mere exclamations, while his feet were 
carrying him in the direction of the jetty. He followed 
the Une of the rails, escorted by Wang. 

" Where were you when you first saw the boat ? " he 
asked over his shoulder. 

Wang explained in Malay that he had gone to the shore 
end of the wharf, to get a few lumps of coal from the big 
heap, when, happening to raise his eyes from the ground, 
he saw the boat — a white man boat, not a canoe. He had 
good eyes. He had seen the boat, with the men at the 



228 VICTORY 

oars ; and here Wang made a particular gesture over his 
eyes, as if his vision had received a blow. He had turned 
at once and run to the house to report. 

*' No mistake, eh ? " said Heyst, moving on. At the 
very outer edge of the belt he stopped short. Wang 
halted behind him on the path, till the voice of Number 
One called him sharply forward into the open. He 
obeyed. 

" Where's that boat ? " asked Heyst forcibly. " I say 
— where is it ? " 

Nothing whatever was to be seen between the point 
and the jetty. The stretch of Diamond Bay was like a 
piece of purple shadow, lustrous and empty, while beyond 
the land, the open sea lay blue and opaque under the sun. 
Heyst's eyes swept all over the offing till they met, far 
off, the dark cone of the volcano, with its faint plume of 
smoke broadening and vanishing everlastingly at the top, 
without altering its shape in the glowing transparency of 
the evening. 

** The fellow has been dreaming," he muttered to 
himself. 

He looked hard at the Chinaman. Wang seemed 
turned into stone. Suddenly, as if he had received a 
shock, he started, flung his arm out with a pointing fore- 
finger, and made guttural noises to the effect that there, 
there, there, he had seen a boat. 

It was very uncanny. Heyst thought of some strange 
hallucination. Unlikely enough; but that a boat with 
three men in it should have sunk between the point and 
the jetty, suddenly, like a stone, without leaving as much 
on the surface as a floating oar, was still more unlikely. 
The theory of a phantom boat would have been more 
credible than that. 

" Confound it ! " he muttered to himself. 



VICTORY 229 

He was unpleasantly affected by this mystery ; but 
now a simple explanation occurred to him. He stepped 
hastily out on the wharf. The boat, if it had existed and 
had retreated, could perhaps be seen from the far end of 
the long jetty. 

Nothing was to be seen. Heyst let his eyes roam 
idly over the sea. He was so absorbed in his perplexity 
that a hollow sound, as of somebody tumbling about in a 
boat, with a clatter of oars and spars, failed to make him 
move for a moment. When his mind seized its meaning, 
he had no difficulty in locating the sound. It had come 
from below — from under the jetty ! 

He ran back for a dozen yards or so, and then looked 
over. His sight plunged straight into the stern-sheets 
of a big boat, the greater part of which was hidden from 
him by the planking of the jetty. His eyes fell on the 
thin back of a man doubled up over the tiller in a queer, 
uncomfortable attitude of drooping sorrow. Another 
man, more directly below Heyst, sprawled on his back 
from gunwale to gunwale, half off the after thwart, his 
head lower than his feet. This second man glared wildly 
upward, and struggled to raise himself, but to all appear- 
ance was much too drunk to succeed. The visible part 
of the boat contained also a flat, leather trunk, on which 
the first man's long legs were tucked up nervelessly. A 
large earthenware jar, with its wide mouth uncorked, 
rolled out on the bottom-boards from under the sprawling 
man. 

Heyst had never been so much astonished in his life. 
He stared dumbly at the strange boat's crew. From 
the first he was positive that these men were not sailors. 
They wore the white drill suit of tropical civilisation ; 
but their apparition in a boat Heyst could not connect 
with anything plausible. The civilisation of the tropics 



230 VICTORY 

could have had nothing to do with it. It was more like 
those myths, current in Polynesia, of amazing strangers, 
who arrive at an island, gods or demons, bringing good or 
evil to the innocence of the inhabitants — gifts of unknown 
things, words never heard before. 

Heyst noticed a cork helmet floating alongside the 
boat, evidently fallen from the head of the man doubled 
over the tiller, who displayed a dark, bony poll. An oar, 
too, had been knocked overboard, probably by the sprawl- 
ing man, who was still struggling between the thwarts. 
By this time Heyst regarded the visitation no longer with 
surprise, but with the sustained attention demanded by a 
difficult problem. With one foot posed on the string- 
piece, and leaning on his raised knee, he was taking in 
everything. The sprawling man rolled off the thwart, 
collapsed, and, most unexpectedly, got on his feet. He 
swayed dizzily, spreading his arms out, and uttered 
faintly a hoarse, dreamy, " Hallo ! " His upturned face 
was swollen, red, peeling all over the nose and cheeks. 
His stare was irrational. Heyst perceived stains of 
dried blood all over the front of his dirty white coat, and 
also on one sleeve. 

" What's the matter ? Are you wounded ? " 

The other glanced down, reeled — one of his feet was 
inside a large pith hat — and, recovering himself, let out 
a dismal, grating sound in the manner of a grim 
laugh. 

" Blood — not mine. Thirst's the matter. Exhausted's 
the matter. Done up. Drink, man ! Give us water ! " 

Thirst was in the very tone of his words, alternating 
a broken croak and a faint, throaty rustle which just 
reached Heyst's ears. The man in the boat raised his 
hands to be helped up on the jetty, whispering : 

" I tried. I am too weak. I tumbled down." 



VICTORY 231 

Wang was coming along the jetty slowly, with intent, 
straining eyes. 

" Run back and bring a crowbar here. There's one 
lying by the coal-heap," Heyst shouted to him. 

The man standing in the boat sat down on the thwart 
behind him. A horrible coughing laugh came through 
his swollen lips. 

" Crowbar ? What's that for ? " he mumbled, and 
his head dropped on his chest mournfully. 

Meantime Heyst, as if he had forgotten the boat, started 
kicking hard at a large brass tap projecting above the planks. 
To accommodate ships that came for coal and happened 
to need water as well, a stream had been tapped in the 
interior and an iron pipe led along the jetty. It terminated 
with a curved end almost exactly where the strangers' boat 
had been driven between the piles ; but the tap was set 
fast. 

" Hurry up ! " Heyst yelled to the Chinaman, who was 
running with the crowbar in his hand. 

Heyst snatched it from him, and, obtaining a leverage 
against the string-piece, wrung the stiff tap round with a 
mighty jerk. 

** I hope that pipe hasn't got choked ! " he muttered 
to himself anxiously. 

It hadn't ; but it did not yield a strong gush. The 
sound of a thin stream, partly breaking on the gunwale of 
the boat and partly splashing alongside, became at once 
audible. It was greeted by a cry of inarticulate and 
savage joy. Heyst knelt on the string-piece and peered 
down. The man who had spoken was already holding 
his open mouth under the bright trickle. Water ran over 
his eyelids and over his nose, gurgled down his throat, 
flowed over his chin. Then some obstruction in the pipe 
gave way, and a sudden thick jet broke on his face. In a 



232 VICTORY 

moment his shoulders were soaked, the front of his coat 
inundated ; he streamed and dripped ; water ran into his 
pockets, down his legs, into his shoes ; but he had clutched 
the end of the pipe, and, hanging on with both hands, 
swallowed, spluttered, choked, snorted with the noises 
of a swimmer. Suddenly a curious dull roar reached 
Heyst's ears. Something hairy and black flew from under 
the jetty. A dishevelled head, coming on like a cannon- 
ball, took the man at the pipe in flank, with enough force 
to tear his grip loose and fiing him headlong into the 
stern-sheets. He fell upon the folded legs of the man at 
the tiller, who, roused by the commotion in the boat, was 
sitting up, silent, rigid, and very much like a corpse. His 
eyes were but two black patches, and his teeth glistened 
with a death's head grin between his retracted lips, no 
thicker than blackish parchment glued over the gums. 

From him Heyst's eyes wandered to the creature who 
had replaced the first man at the end of the water-pipe. 
Enormous brown paws clutched it savagely ; the wild, 
big head hung back, and in a face covered with a wet 
mass of hair there gaped crookedly a wide mouth full of 
fangs. The water filled it, welled up in hoarse coughs, 
ran down on each side of the jaws and down the hairy 
throat, soaked the black pelt of the enormous chest, naked 
under a torn check shirt, heaving convulsively with a play 
of massive muscles carved in red mahogany. 

As soon as the second man had recovered the breath 
knocked out of him by the irresistible charge, a scream 
of mad cursing issued from the stern-sheets. With a 
rigid, angular crooking of the elbow, the man at the tiller 
put his hand back to his hip. 

"Don't shoot him, sir ! " yelled the second man. " Wait! 
Let me have that tiller. I will teach him to shove himself 
in front of a cahallero ! " 



VICTORY 233 

Martin Ricardo flourished the heavy piece of wood, 
leaped forward with astonishing vigour, and brought it 
down on Pedro's head with a crash that resounded all 
over the quiet sweep of Black Diamond Bay. A crimson 
patch appeared on the matted hair ; red veins appeared 
in the water flowing all over his face, and it dripped in rosy 
drops off his head. But the man hung on. Not till a 
second furious blow descended did the hairy paws let go 
their grip and the squirming body sink limply. Before it 
could touch the bottom-boards, a tremendous kick in the 
ribs from Ricardo's foot shifted it forward out of sight, 
whence came the noise of a heavy thud, a clatter of spars, 
and a pitiful grunt. Ricardo stooped to look under the 
jetty. 

" Aha, dog ! This will teach you to keep back where 
you belong, you murdering brute, you slaughtering savage, 
you ! You infidel, you robber of churches ! Next time 
I will rip you open from neck to heel, you carrion-eater ! 
Esclavo ! " 

He backed a little and straightened himself up. 

" I don't mean it really," he remarked to Heyst, whose 
steady eyes met his from above. He ran aft briskly. 

" Come along, sir. It's your turn. I oughtn't to have 
drunk first. 'S truth, I forgot myself ! A gentleman 
like you wiU overlook that, I know." As he made these 
apologies, Ricardo extended his hand. '* Let me steady 
you, sir." 

Slowly Mr. Jones unfolded himself in all his slenderness, 
rocked, staggered, and caught Ricardo's shoulder. His 
henchman assisted him to the pipe, which went on gushing 
a clear stream of water, sparkling exceedingly against the 
black piles and the gloom under the jetty. 

" Catch hold, sir," Ricardo advised solicitously. " All 
right ? " 



234 VICTORY 

He stepped back, and, while Mr. Jones revelled in the 
abundance of water, he addressed himself to Heyst with 
a sort of justificatory speech, the tone of which, reflecting 
his feelings, partook of purring and spitting. They had 
been thirty hours tugging at the oars, he explained, and 
they had been more than forty hours without water, 
except that the night before they had licked the dew off 
the gunwales. 

Ricardo did not explain to Heyst how it happened. 
At that precise moment he had no explanation ready 
for the man on the wharf, who, he guessed, must be wonder- 
ing much more at the presence of his visitors than at their 
plight. 



• 



VII 

THE explanation lay in the two simple facts that the 
light winds and strong currents of the Java Sea 
had drifted the boat about until they partly lost their 
bearings ; and that by some extraordinary mistake one of 
the two jars put into the boat by Schomberg's man con- 
tained salt water. Ricardo tried to put some pathos into 
his tones. Pulling for thirty hours with eighteen-foot 
oars ! And the sun ! Ricardo relieved his feelings 
by cursing the sun. They had felt their hearts and lungs 
shrivel within them. And then, as if all that hadn't 
been trouble ^ftiough, he complained bitterly, he had had to 
waste his faintihg strength in beating their servant about 
the head with S, stretcher. The fool had wanted to drink 
sea water/ ^d wouldn't listen to reason. There was no 
stopping ^im ^otherwise. It was better to beat him into 
. insenStbuity than to have him go crazy in the boat, and* to 

• be •obliged to shoot him. The preventive, administere4 

• with' enough force to brain ^p. elephant, boasted Ricardo, 
^V.had to be applied on two occasions — the second time 

all but in sight of the jetty. • • 

" You have seen the beauty," Ricardo went on ex- 
pansively, hiding his lack of some sort of probable story 
under* this loquacity. " I had to hammer him away from 

• the spout. Opened afresh all the old broken spots on his 
head. •You saw how hard I had to hit. He has no 

, • jrestraint, no restraint at all. If it w^-sn't that he can be 



•• . 



236 VICTORY 

made useful in one way or another, I would just as soon 
have let the governor shoot him." 

He smiled up at Heyst in his peculiar lip-retracting 
manner, and added by way of afterthought : 

" That's what will happen to him in the end, if he 
doesn't learn to restrain himself. But I've taught him 
to mind his manners for a while, anyhow ! " 

And again he addressed his quick grin up to the man on 
the wharf. His round eyes had never left Heyst' s face 
ever since he began to deliver his account of the voyage. 

" So that's how he looks ! " Ricardo was sajdng to 
himself. 

He had not expected Heyst to be like this. He had 
formed for himself a conception containing the helpful 
suggestion of a vulnerable point. These solitary men were 
often tipplers. But no — this was not a drinking man's 
face ; nor could he detect the weakness of alarm, or even 
the weakness of surprise, on these features, in these steady 
eyes. 

" We were too far gone to climb out," Ricardo went 
on. " I heard you walking along, though. I thought I 
shouted ; I tried to. You didn't hear me shout ? " 

Heyst made an almost imperceptible negative sign, 
which the greedy eyes of Ricardo — greedy for all signs — 
did not miss. 

" Throat too parched. We didn't even care to whisper 
to each other lately. Thirst chokes one. We might have 
died there under this wharf before you found us." 

" I couldn't think where you had gone to." Heyst 
was heard at last, addressing directly the newcomers 
from the sea. " You were seen as soon as you cleared 
that point." 

" We were seen, eh ? " grunted Mr. Ricardo. " We 
puUed like machines — daren't stop. The governor sat 



VICTORY 237 

at the tiller, but he couldn't speak to us. She drove in 
between the piles till she hit something, and we all tumbled 
off the thwarts as if we had been drunk. Drunk — ha, 
ha ! Too dry, by George ! We fetched in here with the 
very last of our strength, and no mistake. Another mile 
would have done for us. When I heard your footsteps 
above, I tried to get up, and I fell down." 

'* That was the first sound I heard," said Heyst. 

Mr. Jones, the front of his soiled white tunic soaked 
and plastered against his breast-bone, staggered away 
from the water-pipe. Steadying himself on Ricardo's 
shoulder, he drew a long breath, raised his dripping head, 
and produced a smile of ghastly amiabihty, which was lost 
upon the thoughtful Heyst. Behind his back the sun, 
touching the water, was like a disc of iron cooled to a dull 
red glow, ready to start rolling round the circular steel 
plate of the sea, which, under the darkening sky, looked 
more soUd than the high ridge of Samburan ; more solid 
than the point, whose long outUned slope melted into its 
own unfathomable shadow blurring the dim sheen on 
the bay. The forceful stream from the pipe broke like 
shattered glass on the boat's gunwale. Its loud, fitful, 
and persistent splashing revealed the depth of the world's 
silence. 

" Great notion, to lead the water out here," pronounced 
Ricardo appreciatively. 

Water was hfe. He felt now as if he could run a mile, 
scale a ten-foot wall, sing a song. Only a few minutes ago 
he was next door to a corpse, done up, unable to stand, 
to Uft a hand ; unable to groan. A drop of water had done 
that miracle. 

" Didn't you feel Hfe itself running and soaking into 
you, sir ? " he asked his principal, with deferential but 
forced vivacity. 



238 VICTORY 

Without a word, Mr. Jones stepped off the thwart and 
sat down in the stern-sheets. 

" Isn't that man of yours bleeding to death in the 
bows under there ? " inquired Heyst. 

Ricardo ceased his ecstasies over the hfe-giving water 
and answered in a tone of innocence : 

" He ? You may call him a man, but his hide is a 
joUy sight tougher than the toughest alligator he ever 
skinned in the good old days. You don't know how much 
he can stand ; I do. We have tried him long time ago. 
Olci, there ! Pedro ! Pedro ! " he yelled, with a force 
of lung testifying to the regenerative virtues of water. 

A weak " Senor ? " answered from under the wharf. 

" What did I tell you ? " said Ricardo triumphantly. 
" Nothing can hurt him. He's all right. But, I say, 
the boat's getting swamped. Can't you turn this water 
off before you sink her under us ? She's half full already." 

At a sign from Heyst, Wang hammered at the brass tap 
on the wharf, then stood behind Number One, crowbar 
in hand, motionless as before. Ricardo was perhaps not 
so certain of Pedro's toughness as he affirmed ; for he 
stooped, peering under the wharf, then moved forward 
out of sight. The gush of water, ceasing suddenly, 
made a silence which became complete when the after- 
trickle stopped. Afar, the sun was reduced to a red spark, 
glowing very low in the breathless immensity of twilight. 
Purple gleams lingered on the water all round the boat. 
The spectral figure in the stern-sheets spoke in a languid 
tone : 

*' That — er — companion — er — secretary of mine is a 
queer chap. I am afraid we aren't presenting ourselves 
in a very favourable light." 

Heyst listened. It was the conventional voice of an 
educated man, only strangely lifeless. But more strange 



VICTORY 239 

yet was this concern for appearances, expressed, he did 
not know, whether in jest or in earnest. Earnestness was 
hardly to be supposed under the circumstances, and no one 
had ever jested in such dead tones. It was something 
which could not be answered, and Heyst said nothing. 
The other went on : 

" Travelling as I do, I find a man of his sort extremely 
useful. He has his little weaknesses, no doubt." 

" Indeed ! " Heyst was provoked into speaking. 
** Weakness of the arm is not one of them ; neither is 
an exaggerated humanity, as far as I can judge." 

" Defects of temper," explained Mr. Jones from the 
stern-sheets. 

The subject of this dialogue, coming out just then from 
under the wharf into the visible part of the boat, made 
himself heard in his own defence, in a voice full of life, 
and with nothing languid in his manner. On the contrary, 
it was brisk, almost jocose. He begged pardon for con- 
tradicting. He was never out of temper with " our 
Pedro." The fellow was a Dago of immense strength 
and of no sense whatever. This combination made 
him dangerous, and he had to be treated accordingly, 
in a manner which he could understand. Reasoning was 
beyond him. 

" And so " — Ricardo addressed Heyst with anima- 
tion — " you mustn't be surprised if — " 

" I assure you," Heyst interrupted, " that my won- 
der at your arrival in your boat here is so great that it 
leaves no room for minor astonishments. But hadn't 
you better land ? " 

" That's the talk, sir ! " Ricardo began to bustle about 
the boat, talking all the time. Finding himself unable 
to " size up " this man, he was inclined to credit him 
with extraordinary powers of penetration, which, it 



240 VICTORY 

seemed to him, would be favoured by silence. Also, 
he feared some pointblank question. He had no ready- 
made story to tell. He and his patron had put off con- 
sidering that rather important detail too long. For the 
last two days, the horrors of thirst, coming on them un- 
expectedly, had prevented consultation. They had 
had to pull for dear life. But the man on the wharf, 
were he in league with the devil himself, would pay for 
all their sufferings, thought Ricardo with an unholy 

joy- 
Meantime, splashing in the water which covered the 

bottom -boards, Ricardo congratulated himself aloud on 

the luggage being out of the way of the wet. He had 

piled it up forward. He had roughly tied up Pedro's 

head. Pedro had nothing to grumble about. On the 

contrary, he ought to be mighty thankful to him, Ricardo, 

for being alive at all. 

" Well, now, let me give you a leg up, sir," he said 
cheerily to his motionless principal in the stern-sheets. 
" All our troubles are over — for a time, anyhow. Ain't 
it luck to find a white man on this island ? I would have 
just as soon expected to meet an angel from heaven — 
eh, Mr. Jones ? Now then — ready, sir ? One, two, three, 
up you go ! " 

Helped from below by Ricardo, and from above by 
the man more unexpected than an angel, Mr. Jones 
scrambled up and stood on the wharf by the side of Heyst. 
He swayed like a reed. The night descending on Sam- 
buran turned into dense shadow the point of land and 
the wharf itself, and gave a dark solidity to the unshimmer- 
ing water extending to the last faint trace of light away to 
the west. Heyst stared at the guests whom the renounced 
world had sent him thus at the end of the day. The only 
other vestige of light left on earth lurked in the hollows 






VICTORY 241 

of the thin man's eyes. They gleamed, mobile and 
languidly evasive. The eyelids fluttered. 
You are feeling weak," said Heyst. 
For the moment, a little," confessed the other. 

With loud panting, Ricardo scrambled on his hands 
and knees upon the wharf, energetic and unaided. He 
rose up at Heyst's elbow and stamped his foot on the 
planks, with a sharp, provocative, double beat, such as is 
heard sometimes in fencing-schools before the adversaries 
engage their foils. Not that the renegade seaman Ricardo 
knew anything of fencing. What he called " shooting- 
irons " were his weapons, or the still less aristocratic 
knife, such as was even then ingeniously strapped to his 
leg. He thought of it, at that moment. A swift stooping 
motion, then, on the recovery, a ripping blow, a shove off 
the wharf, and no noise except a splash in the water that 
would scarcely disturb the silence. Heyst would have no 
time for a cry. It would be quick and neat, and im- 
mensely in accord with Ricardo's humour. But he 
repressed this gust of savagery. The job was not such 
a simple one. This piece had to be played to another 
tune, and in much slower time. He returned to his note 
of talkative simplicity. 

" Ay ; and I too don't feel as strong as I thought I was 
when the first drink set me up. Great wonder-worker 
water is ! And to get it right here on the spot ! It was 
heaven — hey, sir ? " 

Mr. Jones, being directly addressed, took up his part 
in the concerted piece : 

" Really, when I saw a wharf on what might have 

been an uninhabited island, I couldn't believe my eyes. 

I doubted its existence. I thought it was a delusion, 

till the boat actually drove between the piles, as you 

see her lying now." 
16 



242 VICTORY 

While he was speaking faintly, in a voice which did 
not seem to belong to the earth, his henchman, in extremely 
loud and terrestrial accents, was fussing about their belong- 
ings in the boat, addressing himself to Pedro : 

" Come, now— pass up the dunnage there ! Move 
yourself, hombre, or I'll have to get down again and give 
you a tap on those bandages of yours, you growling bear, 
you ! " 

" Ah ! You didn't believe in the reality of the wharf ? " 
Heyst was saying to Mr. Jones. 

" You ought to kiss my hands ! " 

Ricardo caught hold of an ancient Gladstone bag and 
swung it on the wharf with a thump. 

" Yes ! You ought to burn a candle before me as 
they do before the saints in your country. No saint 
has ever done so much for you as I have, you ungrateful 
vagabond. Now then ! Up you get." 

Helped by the talkative Ricardo, Pedro scrambled 
up on the wharf, where he remained for some time on 
all fours, swinging to and fro his shaggy head tied up in 
white rags. Then he got up clumsily, like a bulky animal 
in the dusk, balancing itself on its hind legs. 

Mr. Jones began to explain languidly to Heyst that 
they were in a pretty bad state that morning, when they 
caught sight of the smoke of the volcano. It nerved them 
to make an effort- for their lives. Soon afterward they 
made out the island. 

" I had just wits enough left in my baked brain to 
alter the direction of the boat," the ghostly voice went 
on. "As to finding assistance, a wharf, a white man — 
nobody would have dreamed of it. Simply preposterous ! " 

" That's what I thought when my Chinaman came 
and told me he had seen a boat with white men pulling 
up," said Heyst. 



VICTORY 243 

" Most extraordinary luck," interjected Ricardo, stand- 
ing by anxiously attentive to every word. " Seems a 
dream," he added. " A lovely dream 1 " 

A silence fell on that group of three, as if every one 
had become afraid to speak, in an obscure sense of an 
impending crisis. Pedro on one side of them and Wang 
on the other had the air of watchful spectators. A few 
stars had come out pursuing the ebbing twihght. A Hght 
draught of air, tepid enough in the thickening twihght after 
the scorching day, struck a chill into Mr. Jones in his 
soaked clothes. 

" I may infer, then, that theie is a settlement of white 
people here ? " he murmured, shivering visibly. 
Heyst roused himself. 

" Oh, abandoned, abandoned. I am alone here — 
practically alone ; but several empty houses are still 
standing. No lack of accommodation. We may just 
as well — here, Wang, go back to the shore and run the 
trolley out here." 

The last words having been spoken in Malay, he ex- 
plained courteously that he had given directions for the 
transport of the luggage. Wang had melted into the 
night in his soundless manner. 

" My word ! Rails laid down and all," exclaimed 

Ricardo softly, in a tone of admiration. " Well, I never ! " 

** We were working a coal-mine here," said the late 

manager of the Tropical Belt Coal Company. " These 

are only the ghosts of things that have been." 

Mr. Jones's teeth were suddenly started chattering 
by another faint puff of wind, a mere sigh from the west, 
where Venus cast her rays on the dark edge of the horizon, 
like a bright lamp hung above the grave of the sun. 

" We might be moving on," proposed Heyst. " The 
Chinaman and that — ah— ungrateful servant of yours. 



244 VICTORY 

with the broken head, can load the things and come along 
after us." 

The suggestion was accepted without words. Moving 
toward the shore, the three men met the trolley, a mere 
metaUic rustle which whisked past them, the shadowy 
Wang running noiselessly behind. Only the sound of their 
footsteps accompanied them. It was a long time since 
so many footsteps had rung together on that jetty. Before 
they stepped on to the path trodden through the grass, 
Heyst said : 

*' I am prevented from offering you a share of my own 
quarters." The distant courthness of this beginning 
arrested the other two suddenly, as if amazed by some 
manifest incongruity. " I should regret it more," he went 
on, ** if I were not in a position to give you the choice of 
those empty bungalows for a temporary home." 

He turned round and plunged into the narrow track, 
the two others following in single file. 

" Queer start I " Ricardo took the opportunity for 
whispering, as he fell behind Mr. Jones, who swayed 
in the gloom, enclosed by the stalks of tropical grass, 
almost as slender as a stalk of grass himself. 

In this order they emerged into the open space kept 
clear of vegetation by Wang's judicious system of periodical 
firing. The shapes of buildings, unlighted, high-roofed, 
looked mysteriously extensive and featureless against the 
increasing glitter of the stars. Heyst was pleased at the 
absence of light in his bungalow. It looked as uninhabited 
as the others. He continued to lead the way, inclining 
to the right. His equable voice was heard : 

" This one would be the best. It was our counting- 
house. There is some furniture in it yet. I am pretty 
certain that you'll find a couple of camp bedsteads in one 
of the rooms." 



VICTORY 245 

The high-pitched roof of the bungalow towered up 
very close, eclipsing the sky. 

" Here we are. Three steps. As you see, there's a 
wide veranda. Sorry to keep you waiting for a moment ; 
the door is locked, I think." 

He was heard trying it. Then he leaned against the 
rail, saying : 

" Wang will get the keys." 

The others waited, two vague shapes nearly mingled 
together in the darkness of the veranda, from which 
issued a sudden chattering of Mr. Jones's teeth, directly 
suppressed, and a slight shuffle of Ricardo's feet. Their 
guide and host, his back against the rail, seemed to have 
forgotten their existence. Suddenly he moved, and 
murmured : 

" Ah, here's the troUey." 

Then he raised his voice in Malay, and was answered, 
" Ya tuan/' from an indistinct group that could be made 
out in the direction of the track. 

" I have sent Wang for the key and a light," he said, 
in a voice that came out without any particular direction — 
a peculiarity which disconcerted Ricardo. 

Wang did not tarry long on his mission. Very soon 
from the distant recesses of obscurity appeared the swing- 
ing lantern he carried. It cast a fugitive ray on the 
arrested trolley with the uncouth figure of the wild Pedro 
drooping over the load ; then it moved toward the 
bungalow and ascended the stairs. After working at the 
stiff lock, Wang applied his shoulder to the door. It 
came open with explosive suddenness, as if in a passion 
at being thus disturbed after two years' repose. From 
the dark slope of a tall stand-up writing-desk a forgotten, 
solitary sheet of paper flew up and settled gracefully on 
the floor. 



246 VICTORY 

Wang and Pedro came and went through the offended 
door, bringing the things off the trolley, one flitting swiftly 
in and out, the other staggering heavily. Later, directed 
by a few quiet words from Number One, Wang made 
several journeys with the lantern to the store-rooms, 
bringing in blankets, provisions in tins, coffee, sugar, and 
a packet of candles. He Hghted one, and stuck it on the 
ledge of the stand-up desk. Meantime Pedro, being intro- 
duced to some kindhng-wood and a bundle of dry sticks, 
had busied himself outside in Hghting a fire, on which 
he placed a ready filled kettle handed to him by Wang 
impassively, at arm's length, as if across a chasm. Having 
received the thanks of his guests, Heyst wished them good 
night and withdrew, leaving them to their repose. 



H 



VIII 

EYST walked away slowly. There was still no light 
in his bungalow, and he thought that perhaps 
it was just as well. By this time he was much less per- 
turbed. Wang had preceded him with the lantern, as if 
in a hurry to get away from the two white men and their 
hairy attendant. The Hght was not dancing along any 
more ; it was standing perfectly still by the steps of 
the veranda. 

Heyst glancing back casually, saw behind him still 
another light, — the light of the strangers' open fire. A 
black, uncouth form, stooping over it monstrously, 
staggered away into the outlying shadows. The kettle 
had boiled, probably. 

With that weird vision of something questionably 
human impressed upon his senses, Heyst moved on a 
pace or two. What could the people be who had such 
a creature for their famiUar attendant ? He stopped. 
The vague apprehension of a distant future, in which 
he saw Lena unavoidably separated from him by pro- 
found and subtle differences ; the sceptical carelessness 
which had accompanied every one of his attempts at action, 
like a secret reserve of his soul, fell away from him. He 
no longer belonged to himself. There was a call far more 
imperious and august. He came up to the bungalow, and, 
at the very limit of the lantern's light, on the top step, he 

saw her feet and the bottom part of her dress. The rest 

247 



248 VICTORY 

of her person was suggested dimly as high as her waist. 
She sat on a chair, and the gloom of the low eaves de- 
scended upon her head and shoulders. She didn't stir. 

" You haven't gone to sleep here ? " he asked. 

" Oh, no ! I was waiting for you — in the dark." 

Heyst, on the top step, leaned against a wooden pillar, 
after moving the lantern to one side. 

" I have been thinking that it is just as well you had no 
light. But wasn't it dull for you to sit in the dark ? " 

" I don't need a light to think of you." Her charming 
voice gave a value to this banal answer, which had also 
the merit of truth. Heyst laughed a little, and said that 
he had had a curious experience. She made no remark. 
He tried to figure to himself the outlines of her easy pose. 
A spot of dim light here and there hinted at the unfailing 
grace of attitude which was one of her natural possessions. 

She had thought of him, but not in connection with the 
strangers. She had admired him from the first ; she had 
been attracted by his warm voice, his gentle eye, but she 
had felt him too wonderfully difficult to know. He had 
given to life a savour, a movement, a promise mingled with 
menaces, which she had not suspected were to be found 
in it — or, at any rate, not by a girl wedded to misery as 
she was. She said to herself that she must not be irritated 
because he seemed too self-contained, and as if shut up 
in a world of his own. When he took her in his arms, she 
felt that his embrace had a great and compelling force, 
that he was moved deeply, and that perhaps he would not 
get tired of her so very soon. She thought that he had 
opened to her the feelings of delicate joy, that the very 
uneasiness he caused her was delicious in its sadness, and 
that she would try to hold him as long as she could — till 
her fainting arms, her sinking soul, could cling to him no 
more. 



VICTORY 249 

" Wang's not here, of course ? " Heyst said suddenly. 

She answered as if in her sleep. 

" He put this light down here without stopping, and ran.'* 

" Ran, did he ? H'm ! Well, it's considerably later 
than his usual time to go home to his Alfuro wife ; but to 
be seen running is a sort of degradation for Wang, who has 
mastered the art of vanishing. Do you think he was 
startled out of his perfection by something ? '* 

" Why should he be startled ? " 

Her voice remained dreamy, a little uncertain. 

" I have been startled," Heyst said. 

She was not listening to him. The lantern at their feet 
threw the shadows of her face upward. Her eyes glistened, 
as if frightened and attentive, above a lighted chin and 
a very white throat. 

" Upon my word," mused Heyst, " now that I don't see 
them, I can hardly believe that those fellows exist ! " 

" And what about me ? " she asked, so swiftly that he 
made a movement like somebody pounced upon from an 
ambush. " When you don't see me, do you believe that 
I exist ? " 

" Exist ? Most charmingly ! My dear Lena, you 
don't know your own advantages. Why, your voice 
alone would be enough to make you unforgettable ! " 

" Oh, I didn't mean forgetting in that way. I dare say 
if I were to die you would remember me right enough. 
And what good would that be to anybody ? It's while 
I am alive that I want — " 

Heyst stood by her chair, a stalwart figure imperfectly 
lighted. The broad shoulders, the martial face that was 
like a disguise of his disarmed soul, were lost in the gloom 
above the plane of light in which his feet were planted. 
He suffered from a trouble with which she had nothing to 
do. She had no general conception of the conditions of 



250 VICTORY 

the existence he had offered to her. Drawn into its 
peculiar stagnation she remained unrelated to it because 
of her ignorance. 

For instance, she could never perceive the prodigious 
improbability of the arrival of that boat. She did not 
seem to be thinking of it. Perhaps she had already for- 
gotten the fact herself. And Heyst resolved suddenly to 
say nothing more of it. It was not that he shrank from 
alarming her. Not feeling anything definite himself he 
could not imagine a precise effect being produced on her 
by any amount of explanation. There is a quality in 
events which is apprehended differently by different 
minds or even by the same mind at different times. 
Any man living at all consciously knows that embarrassing 
truth. Heyst was aware that this visit could bode nothing 
pleasant. In his present soured temper towards all 
mankind he looked upon it as a visitation of a particularly 
offensive kind. 

He glanced along the veranda in the direction of the 
other bungalow. The fire of sticks in front of it had gone 
out. No faint glow of embers, not the slightest thread of 
light in that direction, hinted at the presence of strangers. 
The darker shapes in the obscurity, the dead silence, 
betrayed nothing of that strange intrusion. The peace 
of Samburan asserted itself as on any other night. Every- 
thing was as before, except — Heyst became aware of it 
suddenly — that for a whole minute, perhaps, with his hand 
on the back of the girl's chair and within a foot of her 
person, he had lost the sense of her existence, for the first 
time since he had brought her over to share this invincible, 
this undefiled peace. He picked up the lantern, and the 
act made a silent stir all along the veranda. A spoke of 
shadow swung swiftly across her face, and the strong light 
rested on the immobility of her features, as of a woman 



VICTORY 251 

looking at a vision. Her eyes were still, her lips serious. 
Her dress, open at the neck, stirred slightly to her even 
breathing. 

" We had better go in, Lena," suggested Heyst, very 
low, as if breaking a spell cautiously. 

She rose without a word. Heyst followed her indoors. 
As they passed through the living-room, he left the lantern 
burning on the centre table. 



IX 

THAT night the girl woke up, for the first time in her 
new experience, with the sensation of having been 
abandoned to her own devices. She woke up from a pain- 
ful dream of separation brought about in a way which she 
could not understand, and missed the relief of the waking 
instant. The desolate feeling of being alone persisted. 
She was really alone. A night-light made it plain enough 
in the dim, mysterious manner of a dream ; but this was 
reality. It startled her exceedingly. 

In a moment she was at the curtain that hung in the 
doorway, and raised it with a steady hand. The con- 
ditions of their life in Samburan would have made peep- 
ing absurd ; nor was such a thing in her character. This 
was not a movement of curiosity, but of downright alarm 
— the continued distress and fear of the dream. The 
night could not have been very far advanced. The light 
in the lantern was burning strongly, striping the floor and 
walls of the room with thick black bands. She hardly 
knew whether she expected to see Heyst or not ; but she 
saw him at once, standing by the table in his sleeping-suit, 
his back to the doorway. She stepped in noiselessly with 
her bare feet, and let the curtain fall behind her. Some- 
thing characteristic in Heyst's attitude made her say, 
almost in a whisper : 

" You are looking for something.'* 

He could not have heard her before ; but he didn't 



VICTORY 253 

start at the unexpected whisper. He only pushed the 
drawer of the table in and, without even looking over 
his shoulder, asked quietly, accepting her presence as if 
he had been aware of all her movements : 

" I say, are you certain that Wang didn't go through 
this room this evening ? " 

" Wang ? When ? " 

" After leaving the lantern, I mean." 

" Oh, no. He ran on. I watched him." 

" Or before, perhaps — while I was with these boat 
people ? Do you know ? Can you tell ? " 

" I hardly think so. I came out as the sun went down, 
and sat outside till you came back to me." 

" He could have popped in for an instant through the 
back veranda." 

" I heard nothing in here," she said. " What is the 
matter ? " 

" Naturally you wouldn't hear. He can be as quiet 
as a shadow, when he likes. I believe he could steal 
the pillows from under our heads. He might have been 
here ten minutes ago." 

" What woke you up ? Was it a noise ? " 

" Can't say that. Generally one can't tell ; but is it 
likely, Lena ? You are, I beUeve, the hghter sleeper 
of us two. A noise loud enough to wake me up would 
have awakened you, too. I tried to be as quiet as I 
could. What roused you ? " 

" I don't know — a dream, perhaps. I woke up 



>> 



crying, 

" What was the dream." 



Heyst, with one hand resting on the table, had turned 
in her direction, his round, uncovered head set on a 
fighter's muscular neck. She left his question unanswered, 
as if she had not heard it. 



254 VICTORY 

" What is it you have missed ? " she asked in her turn, 
very grave. 

Her dark hair, drawn smoothly back, was done in 
two thick tresses for the night. Heyst noticed the good 
form of her brow, the dignity of its width, its unshin- 
ing whiteness. It was a sculptural forehead. He had a 
moment of acute appreciation intruding upon another 
order of thoughts. It was as if there could be no end 
of his discoveries about that girl, at the most incongruous 
moments. 

She had on nothing but a hand-woven cotton sarong 
— one of Heyst's few purchases, years ago, in Celebes, 
where they are made. He had forgotten aU about it 
till she came, and then had found it at the bottom of an 
old sandalwood trunk dating back to pre-Morrison days. 
She had quickly learned to wind it up under her armpits 
with a safe twist, as Malay village girls do when going 
down to bathe in a river. Her shoulders and arms were 
bare ; one of her tresses, hanging forward, looked almost 
black against the white skin. As she was taller than the 
average Malay woman, the sarong ended a good way 
above her ankles. She stood poised firmly, half-way 
between the table and the curtained doorway, the insteps 
of her bare feet gleaming like marble on the overshadowed 
matting of the floor. The fall of her lighted shoulders, 
the strong and fine modelling of her arms hanging down 
her sides, her immobility, too, had something statuesque, 
the charm of art tense with life. She was not very big — 
Heyst used to think of her, at first, as " that poor little 
girl " — but revealed free from the shabby banality of a 
white platform dress, in the simple drapery of the sarong, 
there was that in her form and in the proportions of her 
body which suggested a reduction from a heroic size. 

She moved forward a step. 



VICTORY 255 

" What IS it you have missed ? " she asked again. 

Heyst turned his back altogether on the table. The 
black spokes of darkness over the floor and the walls, 
joining up on the ceiling in a patch of shadow, were like 
the bars of a cage about them. It was his turn to ignore a 
question. 

" You woke up in a fright, you say ? " he said. 

She walked up to him, exotic yet familiar, with her 
white woman's face and shoulders above the Malay sarong, 
as if it were an airy disguise ; but her expression was 
serious. 

" No ! " she rephed. " It was distress, rather. You 
see, you weren't there, and I couldn't tell why you had 
gone away from me. A nasty dream — the first I've 
had, too, since — " 

" You don't believe in dreams, do you ? " asked Heyst. 

'* I once knew a woman who did. Leastwise, she used 
to tell people what dreams meant, for a shilling." 

" Would you go now and ask her what this dream 
means ? " inquired Heyst jocularly. 

** She Uved in Camberwell. She was a nasty old thing I " 

Heyst laughed a httle uneasily. 

** Dreams are madness, my dear. It's things that 
happen in the waking world, while one is asleep, that 
one would be glad to know the meaning of." 

" You have missed something out of this drawer," 
she said positively. 

" This or some other. I have looked into every single 
one of them and come back to this again, as people do. 
It's difficult to believe the evidence of my own senses ; 
but it isn't there. Now, Lena, are you sure that you 
didn't—" 

" I have touched nothing in the house but what you 
have given me." _ . , . 






256 VICTORY 

" Lena ! " he cried. 

He was painfully affected by this disclaimer of a charge 
which he had not made. It was what a servant might 
have said — an inferior open to suspicion — or, at any rate, 
a stranger. He was angry at being so wretchedly mis- 
understood ; disenchanted at her not being instinctively 
aware of the place he had secretly given her in his thoughts. 

" After all," he said to himself, " we are strangers to 
each other." 

And then he felt sorry for her. He spoke calmly : 

" I was about to say, are you sure you have no reason 
to think that the Chinaman has been in this room to- 
night ? " 

You suspect him ? " she asked, knitting her eyebrows. 
There is no one else to suspect. You may call it 
a certitude." 

" You don't want to tell me what it is ? " she inquired, 
in the equable tone in which one takes a fact into account. 

Heyst only smiled faintly. 

" Nothing very precious, as far as value goes," he 
replied. 

I thought it might have been money," she said. 
Money I " exclaimed Heyst, as if the suggestion had 
been altogether preposterous. She was so visibly sur- 
prised that he hastened to add : "Of course, there is 
some money in the house — there, in that writing-desk, 
the drawer on the left. It's not locked. You can pull 
it right out. There is a recess, and the board at the back 
pivots ; a very simple hiding-place, when you know the 
way to it. I discovered it by accident, and I keep our store 
of sovereigns in there. The treasure, my dear, is not big 
enough to require a cavern." 

He paused, laughed very low, and returned her steady 
stare. 






VICTORY 257 

" The loose silver, some guilders and dollars, I have 
always kept in that unlocked left drawer. I have no 
doubt Wang knows what there is in it ; but he isn't a 
thief, and that's why I — no, Lena, what I've missed is 
not gold or jewels ; and that's what makes the fact inter- 
esting — which the theft of money cannot be." 

She took a long breath, relieved to hear that it was 
not money. A great curiosity was depicted on her face, 
but she refrained from pressing him with questions. She 
only gave him one of her deep-gleaming smiles. 

" It isn't me, so it must be Wang. You ought to make 
him give it back to you." 

Heyst said nothing to that naive and practical sug- 
gestion, for the object that he missed from the drawer 
was his revolver. 

It was a heavy weapon which he had owned for many 
years and had never used in his hfe. Ever since the 
London furniture had arrived in Samburan, it had been 
reposing in the drawer of the table. The real dangers of 
life, for him, were not those which could be repelled by 
swords or bullets. On the other hand, neither his manner 
nor his appearance looked sufficiently inoffensive to expose 
him to Ught -minded aggression. 

He could not have explained what had induced him to 
go to the drawer in the middle of the night. He had 
started up suddenly — which was very unusual with him. 
He had found himself sitting up and extremely wide 
awake all at once, with the girl reposing by his side, lying 
with her face away from him, a vague, characteristically 
feminine form in the dim light. She was perfectly still. 

At that season of the year there were no mosquitoes 

in Samburan, and the sides of the mosquito-net were 

looped up. Heyst swung his feet to the floor, and found 

himself standing there, almost before he had become 

17 



258 VICTORY 

aware of his intention to get up. Why he did this he 
did not know. He didn't wish to wake her up, and the 
shght creak of the broad bedstead had sounded very loud 
to him. He turned round apprehensively and waited for 
her to move ; but she did not stir. While he looked at 
her, he had a vision of himself lying there too, also fast 
asleep, and — it occurred to him for the first time in his 
life— very defenceless. This quite novel impression of 
the dangers of slumber made him think suddenly of his 
revolver. He left the bedroom with noiseless footsteps. 
The lightness of the curtain he had to lift as he passed 
out, and the outer door, wide open on the blackness of 
the veranda — for the roof eaves came down low, shutting 
out the starHght — gave him a sense of having been danger- 
ously exposed, he could not have said to what. He pulled 
the drawer open. Its emptiness cut his train of self- 
communion short. He murmured to the assertive fact : 

" Impossible 1 Somewhere else ! " 

He tried to remember where he had put the thing; 
but those provoked whispers of memory were not en- 
couraging. Foraging in every receptacle and nook big 
enough to contain a revolver, he came slowly to the con- 
clusion that it was not in that room. Neither was it in 
the other. The whole bungalow consisted of the two 
rooms and a profuse allowance of veranda all round. 
Heyst stepped out on the veranda. 

''It's Wang, beyond a doubt," he thought, staring into 
the night. " He has got hold of it for some reason." 

There was nothing to prevent that ghostly Chinaman 
from materiahsing suddenly at the foot of the stairs, or 
anywhere, at any moment, and toppHng him over with 
a dead sure shot. The danger was so irremediable that 
it was not worth worrying about, any more than the 
general precariousness of human Hfe. Heyst speculated 



VICTORY 259 

on this added risk. How long had he had been at the 
mercy of a slender yellow finger on the trigger? That 
is, if that was the fellow's reason for purloining the 
revolver. 

" Shoot and inherit," thought Heyst. " Very simple ! " 
Yet there was in his mind a marked reluctance to regard 
the domesticated grower of vegetables in the light of a 
murderer. 

" No, it wasn't that. For Wang could have done it 
any time this last twelve months or more." 

Heyst 's mind had worked on the assumption that Wang 
had possessed himself of the revolver during his own 
absence from Samburan ; but at that period of his specula- 
tion his point of view changed. It struck him with the 
force of manifest certitude that the revolver had been 
taken only late in the day, or on that very night. Wang, 
of course ! But why ? So there had been no danger in 
the past. It was all ahead. 

" He has me at his mercy now," thought Heyst, without 
particular excitement. 

The sentiment he experienced was curiosity. He forgot 
himself in it ; it was as if he were considering somebody 
else's strange predicament. But even that sort of interest 
was dying out when, looking to his left, he saw the accus- 
tomed shapes of the other bungalows looming in the night, 
and remembered the arrival of the thirsty company in 
the boat. Wang would hardly risk such a crime in the 
presence of other white men. It was a pecuHar instance 
of the " safety in numbers " principle, which somehow 
was not much to Heyst's taste. 

He went in gloomily, and stood over the empty drawer 
in deep and unsatisfactory thought. He had just made 
up his mind that he must breathe nothing of this to the 
girl, when he heard her voice behind him. She had 



26o VICTORY 

taken him by surprise, but he resisted the impulse to turn 
round at once under the impression that she might read 
his trouble in his face. Yes, she had taken him by 
surprise ; and for that reason the conversation which 
began was not exactly as he would have conducted it if 
he had been prepared for her pointblank question. He 
ought to have said at once : " I've missed nothing." It 
was a deplorable thing that he should have let it come so 
far as to have her ask what it was he missed. He closed 
the conversation by saying Hghtly : 

" It's an object of very small value. Don't worry about 
it — it isn't worth while. The best you can do is to go 
and lie down again, Lena." 

Reluctant she turned away, and only in the doorway 
asked : 

" And you ? " 

" I think I shall smoke a cheroot on the veranda. I 
don't feel sleepy for the moment." 

" Well, don't be long." 

He made no answer. She saw him standing there, very 
still, with a frown on his brow, and slowly dropped the 
curtain. 

Heyst did really light a cheroot before going out again 
on the veranda. He glanced up from under the low eaves, 
to see by the stars how the night went on. It was going 
very slowly. Why it should have irked him he did not 
know ; for he had nothing to expect from the dawn ; but 
everything round him had become unreasonable, unsettled, 
and vaguely urgent, laying him under an obligation, but 
giving him no hne of action. He felt contemptuously 
irritated with the situation. The outer world had broken 
upon him ; and he did not know what wrong he had done 
to bring this on himself, any more than he knew what 
he had done to provoke the horrible calumny about his 



VICTORY 261 

treatment of poor Morrison. For he could not forget this. 
It had reached the ears of one who needed to have the 
most perfect confidence in the rectitude of his conduct. 

" And she only half disbeheves it," he thought, with 
hopeless humiliation. 

This moral stab in the back seemed to have taken some 
of his strength from him, as a physical wound would have 
done. He had no desire to do anything — neither to bring 
Wang to terms in the matter of the revolver, nor to find 
out from the strangers who they were, and how their 
predicament had come about. He flung his glowing cigar 
away into the night. But Samburan was no longer a 
soHtude wherein he could indulge in all his moods. The 
fiery paraboHc trail the cast-out stump traced in the air 
was seen from another veranda at a distance of some 
twenty yards. It was noted as a symptom of importance 
by an observer with his faculties greedy for signs, and in 
a state of alertness tense enough almost to hear the grass 
grow. 



X 

THE observer was Martin Ricardo. To him life was 
not a matter of passive renunciation, but of a 
particularly active warfare. He was not mistrustful of it, 
he was not disgusted with it, still less was he inclined to be 
suspicious of its disenchantments ; but he was vividly 
aware that it held many possibilities of failure. Though 
very far from being a pessimist, he was not a man of foolish 
illusions. He did not like failure ; not only because of 
its unpleasant and dangerous consequences, but also be- 
cause of its damaging effect upon his own appreciation of 
Martin Ricardo. And this was a special job, of his own 
contriving, and of considerable novelty. It was not, so 
to speak, in his usual line of business — except, perhaps, 
from a moral standpoint, about which he was not likely 
to trouble his head. For these reasons Martin Ricardo 
was unable to sleep. 

Mr. Jones, after repeated shivering fits, and after drink- 
ing much hot tea, had apparently fallen into deep slumber. 
He had very peremptorily discouraged attempts at con- 
versation on the part of his faithful follower. Ricardo 
listened to his regular breathing. It was all very well 
for the governor. He looked upon it as a sort of sport. 
A gentleman naturally would. But this ticklish and 
important job had to be pulled off at all costs, both for 
honour and for safety. Ricardo rose quietly, and made 
his way on the veranda. He could not lie still. He wanted 

a63 



VICTORY 263 

to go out for air ; and he had a feeling that by the force 
of his eagerness even the darkness and the silence could 
be made to yield something to his eyes and ears. 

He noted the stars, and stepped back again into the 
dense darkness. He resisted the growing impulse to go 
out and steal toward the other bungalow. It would have 
been madness to start prowling in the dark on unknown 
ground. And for what end ? Unless to relieve the 
oppression. Immobility lay on his limbs like a leaden 
garment. And yet he was unwilling to give up. He 
persisted in his objectless vigil. The man of the island was 
keeping quiet. 

It was at that moment that Ricardo's eyes caught the 
vanishing red trail of light made by the cigar — a startling 
revelation of the man's wakefulness. He could not suppress 
a low " Hallo ! " and began to sidle along toward the door, 
with his shoulders rubbing the wall. For all he knew, 
the man might have been out in front by this time, ob- 
serving the veranda. As a matter of fact, after flinging 
away the cheroot, Heyst had gone indoors with the feeling 
of a man who gives up an unprofitable occupation. But 
Ricardo fancied he could hear faint footfalls on the open 
ground, and dodged quickly into the room. There he 
drew breath, and meditated for a while. His next step 
was to feel for the matches on the tall desk, and to light 
the candle. He had to communicate to his governor views 
and reflections of such importance that it was absolutely 
necessary for him to watch their effect on the very counten- 
ance of the hearer. At first he had thought that these 
matters could have waited till daylight ; but Heyst' s 
wakefulness, disclosed in that startling way, made him 
feel suddenly certain that there could be no sleep for him 
that night. 

He said as much to his governor. When the little 



264 VICTORY 

dagger-like flame had done its best to dispel the darkness, 
Mr. Jones was to be seen reposing on a camp bedstead, 
in a distant part of the room. A railway rug concealed 
his spare form up to his very head, which rested on the 
other railway rug rolled up for a pillow. Ricardo plumped 
himself down cross-legged on the floor, very close to the 
low bedstead ; so that Mr. Jones — who perhaps had not 
been so very profoundly asleep — on opening his eyes 
found them conveniently levelled at the face of his 
secretary. 

" Eh ? What is it you say ? No sleep for you to- 
night ? But why can't you let me sleep ? Confound your 
fussiness ! " 

" Because that there fellow can't sleep — that's why. 
Dash me if he hasn't been doing a think just now ! What 
business has he to think in the middle of the night ? " 

" How do you know ? " 

" He was out, sir — up in the middle of the night. My 
own eyes saw it." 

" But how do you now that he was up to think ? " 
inquired Mr. Jones. " It might have been anything 
— toothache, for instance. And you may have dreamed 
it for all I know. Didn't you try to sleep ? ' 

" No, sir. I didn't even try to go to sleep." 

Ricardo informed his patron of his vigil on the veranda, 
and of the revelation which put an end to it. He con- 
cluded that a man up with a cigar in the middle of the night 
must be doing a think. 

Mr. Jones raised himself on his elbow. This sign of 
interest comforted his faithful henchman. 

" Seems to me it's time we did a little think ourselves," 
added Ricardo, with more assurance. Long as they had 
been together the moods of his governor were still a source 
of anxiety to his simple soul. 



VICTORY 265 

" You are always making a fuss," remarked Mr. Jones, 
in a tolerant tone. 

** Ay, but not for nothing, am I ? You can't say that, 
sir. Mine may not be a gentleman's way of looking round 
a thing, but it isn't a fool's way, either. You've admitted 
that much yourself at odd times." 

Ricardo was growing warmly argumentative. Mr. 
Jones interrupted him without heat. 

" You haven't roused me to talk about yourself, I 
presume." 

" No, sir." Ricardo remained silent for a minute, 
with the tip of his tongue caught between his teeth. " I 
don't think I could tell you anything about myself that 
you don't know," he continued. There was a sort of 
amused satisfaction in his tone which changed completely 
as he went on. "It's that man, over there, that's got to be 
talked over. I don't like him ! " 

He failed to observe the flicker of a ghastly smile on his 
governor's lips. 

** Don't you ? " murmured Mr. Jones, whose face, as 
he reclined on his elbow, was on a level with the top of his 
follower's head. 

" No, sir," said Ricardo emphatically. The candle 
from the other side of the room threw his monstrous 
black shadow on the wall. " He — I don't know how to 
say it — he isn't hearty-like." 

Mr. Jones agreed languidly in his own manner : 
He seems to be a very self-possessed man." 
Ay, that's it. Self — " Ricardo choked with in- 
dignation. " I would soon let out some of his self-posses- 
sion through a hole between his ribs, if this weren't a 
special job ! " 

Mr. Jones had been making his own reflections, for 
he asked : 






266 VICTORY 

" Do you think he is suspicious ? " 

" I don't see very well what he can be suspicious of," 
pondered Ricardo. " Yet there he was, doing a think. 
And what could be the object of it ? What made him 
get out of his bed in the middle of the night ? Tain't 
fleas, surely." 

" Bad conscience, perhaps," suggested Mr. Jones 
jocularly. 

His faithful secretary suffered from irritation, and 
did not see the joke. In a fretful tone he declared that 
there was no such thing as conscience. There was such a 
thing as funk ; but there was nothing to make that fellow 
funky in any special way. He admitted, however, that 
the man might have been uneasy at the arrival of 
strangers, because of all that plunder of his put away 
somewhere. 

Ricardo glanced here and there, as if he were afraid 
of being overheard by the heavy shadows cast by the 
dim light all over the room. His patron, very quiet, 
spoke in a calm whisper : 

" And perhaps that hotel-keeper has been lying to 
you about him. He may be a very poor devil indeed." 

Ricardo shook his head slightly. The Schombergian 
theory of Heyst had become in him a profound conviction, 
which he had absorbed as naturally as a sponge takes up 
water. His patron's doubts were a wanton denying of 
what was self-evident ; but Ricardo's voice remained as 
before, a soft purring with a snarling undertone. 

" I am sup-prised at you, sir ! It's the very way them 
tame ones — the common 'yporcrits of the world — ^get on. 
When it comes to plunder drifting under one's very nose, 
there's not one of them that would keep his hands off. 
And I don't blame them. It's the way they do it that sets 
my back up. Just look at the story of how he got rid 



VICTORY 267 

of that pal of his ! Send a man home to croak of a cold 
on the chest — that's one of your tame tricks. And d'you 
mean to say, sir, that a man that's up to it wouldn't bag 
whatever he could lay his hands on in his 'yporcritical 
way ? What was all that coal business ? Tame citizen 
dodge ; 'yporcrisy — nothing else. No, no, sir ! The 
thing is to 'xtract it from him as neatly as possible. That's 
the job ; and it isn't so simple as it looks. I reckon 
you have looked at it all round, sir, before you took up 
the notion of this trip." 

" No." Mr. Jones was hardly audible, staring far away 
from his couch. " I didn't think about it much. I was 
bored." 

" Ay, that you were — bad. I was feehng pretty 
desperate that afternoon when that bearded softy of 
a landlord got talking to me about this fellow here. 
Quite accidentally, it was. Well, sir, here we are after 
a mighty narrow squeak. I feel all limp yet ; but never 
mind — his swag will pay for the lot ! " 

" He's all alone here," remarked Mr. Jones in a hollow 
murmur. 

" Ye-es, in a way. Yes, alone enough. Yes, you 
may say he is." 

" There's that Chinaman, though." 

" Ay, there's the Chink," assented Ricardo rather 
absentmindedly. 

He was debating in his mind the advisability of making 
a clean breast of his knowledge of the girl's existence. 
Finally he concluded he wouldn't. The enterprise was 
difficult enough without complicating it with an upset 
to the sensibilities of the gentleman with whom he had 
the honour of being associated. Let the discovery come 
of itself, he thought, and then he could swear that he 
had known nothing of that offensive presence. 



268 VICTORY 

He did not need to lie. He had only to hold his tongue. 

" Yes," he muttered reflectively, " there's that Chink, 
certainly." 

At bottom, he felt a certain ambiguous respect for his 
governor's exaggerated dislike of women, as if that horror 
of feminine presence were a sort of depraved morality ; 
but still morality, since he counted it as an advantage. 
It prevented many undesirable complications. He did 
not pretend to understand it. He did not even try to 
investigate this idiosyncrasy of his chief. All he knew 
was that he himself was differently inclined, and that it 
did not make him any happier or safer. He did not know 
how it would have acted if he had been knocking about 
the world on his own. Luckily he was a subordinate, 
not a wage-slave but a follower — which was a restraint. 
Yes ! The other sort of disposition simplified matters in 
general ; it wasn't to be gainsaid. But it was clear 
that it could also complicate them — as in this most 
important and, in Ricardo's view, already sufficiently 
delicate case. And the worst of it was that one could 
not tell exactly in what precise manner it would act. 

It was unnatural, he thought somewhat peevishly. 
How was one to reckon up the unnatural ? There were 
no rules for that. The faithful henchman of plain Mr. 
Jones, foreseeing many difficulties of a material order, 
decided to keep the girl out of the governor's knowledge ; 
out of his sight, too, for as long a time as it could be 
managed. That, alas, seemed to be at most a matter of a 
few hours ; whereas Ricardo feared that to get the affair 
properly going would take some days. Once well started, 
he was not afraid of his gentleman failing him. As is 
often the case with lawless natures, Ricardo's faith in any 
given individual was of a simple, unquestioning character. 
For man must have some support in hf e. 



VICTORY 269 

Cross-legged, his head drooping a little and perfectly 
still, he might have been meditating in a bonze-Hke attitude 
upon the sacred syllable " Om." It was a striking illus- 
tration of the untruth of appearances, for his contempt 
for the world was of a severely practical kind. There 
was nothing oriental about Ricardo but the amazing 
quietness of his pose. Mr. Jones was also verj^ quiet. 
He had let his head sink on the rolled-up rug, and lay 
stretched out on his side with his back to the light. In 
that position the shadows gathered in the cavities of his 
eyes made them look perfectly empty. When he spoke, 
his ghostly voice had only to travel a few inches straight 
into Ricardo's left ear. 

" Why don't you say something, now that you've got 
me awake ? " 

" I wonder if you were sleeping as sound as you are 
tr5dng to make out, sir," said the unmoved Ricardo. 

** I wonder," repeated Mr. Jones. " At any rate, I 
was resting quietly." 

" Come, sir ! " Ricardo's whisper was alarmed. " You 
don't mean to say you're going to be bored ? " 

" No." 

" Quite right ! " The secretary was very much re- 
lieved. " There's no occasion to be, I can tell you, sir," 
he whispered earnestly. " Anything but that 1 If I 
didn't say anything for a bit, it ain't because there isn't 
plenty to talk about. Ay, more than enough." 

" What's the matter with you ? " breathed out his 
patron. " Are you going to turn pessimist ? " 

" Me turn ? No, sir ! I ain't of those that turn. 
You may call me hard names, if you hke, but you know 
very well that I ain't a croaker." Ricardo changed his 
tone. " If I said nothing for a while, it was because I 
was meditating over the Chink, sir." 



270 VICTORY 

" You were ? Waste of time, my Martin. A China- 
man is unfathomable." 

Ricardo admitted that this might be so. Anyhow, 
a Chink was neither here nor there, as a general thing, 
unfathomable as he might be ; but a Swedish baron 
wasn't — couldn't be ! The woods were full of such barons. 

" I don't know that he is so tame," was Mr. Jones's 
remark, in a sepulchral undertone. 

" How do you mean, sir ? He ain't a rabbit, of course. 
You couldn't hypnotise him, as I saw you do to more 
than one Dago, and other kinds of tame citizens, when it 
came to the point of holding them down to a game." 

*' Don't you reckon on that," murmured plain Mr. Jones 
seriously. 

"No, sir, I don't ; though you have a wonderful power 
of the eye. It's a fact." 

* I have a wonderful patience," remarked Mr. Jones 
drily. 

A dim smile flitted over the lips of the faithful Ricardo, 
who never raised his head. 

" I don't want to try you too much, sir ; but this is 
hke no other job we ever turned our minds to." 

" Perhaps not. At any rate let us think so." 

A weariness with the monotony of life was reflected 
in the tone of this qualified assent. It jarred on the 
nerves of the sanguine Ricardo. 

" Let us think of the way to go to work," he retorted 
a little impatiently. *' He's a deep one. Just look at 
the way he treated that chum of his. Did you ever hear 
of anything so low ? And the artfulness of the beast— 
the dirty, tame artfulness ! " 

*' Don't you start moralising, Martin," said Mr. Jones 
warningly. " As far as I can make out the story that 
German hotel-keeper told you, it seems to show a certain 



VICTORY 271 

amount of character ; and independence from common 
feelings which is not usual. It's very remarkable, if 
true." 

" Ay, ay ! Very remarkable. It's mighty low down, 
all the same," muttered Ricardo obstinately. " I must 
say I am glad to think he will be paid off for it in a way 
that'll surprise him ! " 

The tip of his tongue appeared lively for an instant, as 
if trying for the taste of that ferocious retribution on his 
compressed hps. For Ricardo was sincere in his indigna- 
tion before the elementary principle of loyalty to a chum 
violated in cold blood, slowly, in a patient dupHcity of 
years. There are standards in villainy as in virtue, and 
the act as he pictured it to himself acquired an additional 
horror from the slow pace of that treachery so atrocious 
and so tame. But he understood too the educated judg- 
ment of his governor, a gentleman looking on all this with 
the privileged detachment of a cultivated mind, of an 
elevated personahty. 

" Ay, he's deep — he's artful," he mumbled between 
his sharp teeth. 

" Confound you ! " Mr. Jones's calm whisper crept 
into his ear. " Come to the point." 

Obedient, the secretary shook off his thought fulness. 
There was a similarity of mind between these two — one 
the outcast of his vices, the other inspired by a spirit of 
scornful defiance, the aggressiveness of a beast of prey 
looking upon all the tame creatures of the earth as its 
natural victims. Both were astute enough, however, and 
both were aware that they had plunged into this adventure 
without a sufficient scrutiny of detail. The figure of a 
lonely man far from all assistance had loomed up largely, 
fascinating and defenceless in the middle of the sea, filling 
the whole field of their vision. There had not seemed to be 



272 VICTORY 

any need for thinking. As Schomberg had been sa5nng : 
" Three to one." 

But it did not look so simple now in the face of that 
soHtude which was Hke an armour for this man. The 
feeling voiced by the henchman in his own way — '* We 
don't seem much forwarder now we are here " — was 
acknowledged by the silence of the patron. It was easy 
enough to rip a fellow up or drill a hole in him, whether 
he was alone or not, Ricardo reflected in low, confidential 
tones, but — 

" He isn't alone," Mr. Jones said faintly, in his attitude 
of a man composed for sleep. " Don't forget that China- 
man." Ricardo started sUghtly. 

" Oh, ay— the Chink ! " 

Ricardo had been on the point of confessing about 
the girl ; but no ! He wanted his governor to be un- 
perturbed and steady. Vague thoughts, which he hardly 
dared to look in the face, were stirring in his brain in con- 
nection with that girl. She couldn't be much account, 
he thought. She could be frightened. And there were 
also other possibiHties. The Chink, however, could be 
considered openly. 

** What I was thinking about it, sir," he went on ear- 
nestly, " is this — here we've got a man. He's nothing. 
If he won't be good, he can be made quiet. That's easy. 
But then there's his plunder. He doesn't carry it in his 
pocket." 

" I hope not," breathed Mr. Jones. 

" Same here. It's too big, we know ; but if he were 
alone, he would not feel worried about it overmuch — 
I mean the safety of the pieces. He would just put the 
lot into any box or drawer that was handy." 

" Would he ? " 

** Yes, sir. He would keep it under his eye, as it were. 



VICTORY 273 

Why not ? It is natural. A fellow doesn't put his swag 
underground, unless there's a very good reason for it." 

" A very good reason, eh ? *' 

" Yes, sir. What do you think a fellow is — a mole ? " 

From his experience, Ricardo declared that man was 
not a burrowing beast. Even the misers very seldom 
buried their hoard, unless for exceptional reasons. In the 
given situation of a man alone on an island, the company 
of a Chink was a very good reason. Drawers would not 
be safe, nor boxes, either, from a prying, slant-eyed Chink. 
No, sir ; unless a safe — a proper office safe. But the safe 
was there in the room. 

" Is there a safe in this room ? I didn't notice it," 
whispered Mr. Jones. 

That was because the thing was painted white, like 
the walls of the room ; and besides, it was tucked away in 
the shadows of a corner. Mr. Jones had been too tired 
to observe anything on his first coming ashore ; but 
Ricardo had very soon spotted the characteristic form. 
He only wished he could believe that the plunder of 
treachery, dupHcity, and all the moral abominations of 
Heyst had been there. But no ; the blamed thing was 
open. 

" It might have been there at one time or another," 
he commented gloomily, " but it isn't there now." 

" The man did not elect to Hve in this house," remarked 
Mr. Jones. " And by the by, what could he have meant 
by speaking of circumstances which prevented him lodging 
us in the other bungalow ? You remember what he said, 
Martin ? Sounded cryptic." 

Martin, who remembered and understood the phrase 

as directly motived by the existence of the girl, waited 

a little before saying : 

" Some of his artfulness, sir ; and not the worst of it, 
18 



274 VICTORY 

either. That manner of his to us, this asking no questions, 
is some more of his artfulness. A man's bound to be 
curious, and he is ; yet he goes on as if he didn't care. 
He does care — or else what was he doing up with a cigar 
in the middle of the night, doing a think ? I don't hke 
it!" 

** He may be outside, observing the light here, and 
saying the very same thing to himself of our own wake- 
fulness," gravely suggested Ricardo's governor. 

" He may be, sir ; but this is too important to be talked 
over in the dark. And the light is all right. It can be 
accounted for. There's a Hght in this bungalow in the 
middle of the night because — why, because you are not 
well. Not well, sir — that's what's the matter ; and you 
will have to act up to it." 

This consideration had suddenly occurred to the faith- 
ful henchman, in the Hght of a felicitous expedient to keep 
his governor and the girl apart as long as possible. Mr. 
Jones received the suggestion without the slightest stir, 
even in the deep sockets of his eyes, where a steady, faint 
gleam was the only thing teUing of life and attention in 
his attenuated body. But Ricardo, as soon as he had 
enunciated his happy thought, perceived in it other 
possibihties more to the point and of greater practical 
advantage. 

" With your looks, sir, it will be easy enough," he went 
on evenly, as if no silence had intervened, always respectful, 
but frank, with perfect simphcity of purpose. " All you've 
got to do is just to he down quietly. I noticed him looking 
sort of surprised at you on the wharf, sir." 

At these words, a naive tribute to the aspect of his 
physique, even more suggestive of the grave than of 
the sick-bed, a fold appeared on that side of the governor's 
face which was exposed to the dim light — a deep, shadowy, 



VICTORY 275 

semicircular fold from the side of the nose to bottom of the 
chin — a silent smile. By a side glance Ricardo had noted 
this play of feature. He smiled, too, appreciative, en- 
couraged. 

" And you as hard as nails all the time," he went on. 
" Hang me if anybody would believe you aren't sick, if 
I were to swear myself black in the face ! Give us a day 
or two to look into matters and size up that 'yporcrit." 

Ricardo 's eyes remained fixed on his crossed shins. 
The chief, in his lifeless accents, approved. 

" Perhaps it would be a good idea." 

" The Chink, he's nothing. He can be made quiet 
any time." 

One of Ricardo 's hands, reposing palm upward on his 
folded legs, made a swift thrusting gesture, repeated by 
the enormous darting shadow of an arm very low on the 
wall. It broke the spell of perfect stillness in the room. 
The secretary eyed moodily the wall from which the 
shadow had gone. Anybody could be made quiet, he 
pointed out. It was not anything that the Chink could 
do ; no, it was the effect that his company must have 
produced on the conduct of the doomed man. A man ! 
What was a man ? A Swedish baron could be ripped up, 
or else holed by a shot, as easily as any other creature ; 
but that was exactly what was to be avoided, till one 
knew where he had hidden his plunder. 

" I shouldn't think it would be some sort of hole in 
his bungalow," argued Ricardo with real anxiety. 

No. A house can be burnt — set on fire accidentally, 
or on purpose, while a man's asleep. Under the house — 
or in some crack, cranny, or crevice ? Something told 
him it wasn't that. The anguish of mental effort con- 
tracted Ricardo' s brow. The skin of his head seemed to 
move in this travail of vain and tormenting suppositions. 



276 VICTORY 

" What did you think a fellow is, sir — a baby ? " he 
said, in answer to Mr. Jones's objections. " I am trying 
to find out what I would do myself. He wouldn't be 
likely to be cleverer than I am." 

" And what do you know about yourself ? " 

Mr. Jones seemed to watch his follower's perplexities 
with amusement concealed in a death-like composure. 

Ricardo disregarded the question. The material vision 
of the spoil absorbed all his faculties. A great vision ! 
He seemed to see it. A few small canvas bags tied up 
with thin cord, their distended rotundity showing the inside 
pressure of the disk-like forms of coins — gold, solid, heavy, 
eminently portable. Perhaps steel cash-boxes with a 
chased design on the covers ; or perhaps a black and brass 
box with a handle on the top, and full of goodness knows 
what. Bank notes ? Why not ? The fellow had been 
going home ; so it was surely something worth going 
home with. 

" And he may have put it anywhere outside — any- 
where ! " cried Ricardo in a deadened voice. " In the 
forest—" 

That was it ! A temporary darkness replaced the 
dim light of the room. The darkness of the forest at 
night, and in it the gleam of a lantern, by which a figure 
is digging at the foot of a tree-trunk. As likely as not, 
another figure holding that lantern — ha, feminine ! The 
girl! 

The prudent Ricardo stifled a picturesque and profane 
exclamation, partly joy, partly dismay. Had the girl 
been trusted or mistrusted by that man ? Whatever 
it was, it was bound to be wholly ! With women there 
could be no half -measures. He could not imagine a fellow 
half-trusting a woman in that intimate relation to him- 
self, and in those particular circumstances of conquest 



VICTORY 277 

and loneliness where no confidences could appear dangerous 
since, apparently, there could be no one she could give him 
away to. Moreover in nine cases out of ten, the woman 
would be trusted. But, trusted or mistrusted, was her 
presence a favourable or unfavourable condition of the 
problem ? That was the question ! 

The temptation to consult his chief, to talk over the 
weighty fact and get his opinion on it, was great indeed. 
Ricardo resisted it ; but the agony of his solitary mental 
conflict was extremely sharp. A woman in a problem 
is an incalculable quantity, even if you have something 
to go upon in forming your guess. How much more 
so when you haven't even once caught sight of her. 

Swift as were his mental processes, he felt that a longer 
silence was inadvisable. He hastened to speak : 

*'And do you see us, sir, you and I, with a couple 
of spades' having to tackle this whole confounded 
island ? " 

He allowed himself a slight movement of the arm. The 
shadow enlarged it into a sweeping gesture. 

" This seems rather discouraging, Martin," murmured 
the unmoved governor. 

" We mustn't be discouraged — that's all," retorted 
his henchman. " And after what we had to go through 
in that boat too ! Why it would be — " 

He couldn't find the qualifying words. Very calm, 
faithful, and yet astute, he expressed his new-born hopes 
darkly. 

" Something's sure to turn up to give us a hint ; only 
this job can't be rushed. You may depend on me to 
pick up the least little bit of a hint ; but you, sir — you've 
got to play him very gently. For the rest you can trust 



me." 



(< 



Yes ; but I ask myself what you are trusting to." 



278 VICTORY 

''Our luck," said the faithful Ricardo. "Don't say 
a word against that. It might spoil the run of it." 

" You are a superstitious beggar. No, I won't say 
anything against it." 

" That's right, sir. Don't you even think lightly of 
it. Luck's not to be played with." 

" Yes, luck's a delicate thing," assented Mr. Jones 
in a dreamy whisper. 

A short silence ensued, which Ricardo ended in a dis- 
creet and tentative voice. 

" Talking of luck, I suppose he could be made to take 
a hand with you, sir — two-handed picket or ekkarty, you 
being seedy and keeping indoors — ^just to pass the time. 
For all we know, he may be one of them hot ones once 
they start — " 

" Is it likely ? " came coldly from the principal. " Con- 
sidering what we know of his history — say with his 
partner." 

" True, sir. He's a cold-blooded beast ; a cold-blooded, 
inhuman — " 

" And I'll tell you another thing that isn't likely. He 
would not be likely to let himself be stripped bare. We 
haven't to do with a young fool that can be led on by chaff 
or flattery, and in the end simply over-awed. This is a 
calculating man." 

Ricardo recognised that clearly. What he had in 
his mind was something on a small scale, just to keep 
the enemy busy while he, Ricardo, had time to nose around 
a bit. 

" You could even lose a little money to him, sir," he 
suggested. 

" I could." 

Ricardo was thoughtful for a moment. 

" He strikes me, too, as the sort of man to start 



VICTORY 279 

prancing when one didn't expect it. What do you think, 
sir ? Is he a man that would prance ? That is, if some- 
thing startled him. More likely to prance than to run— 
what ? " 

The answer came at once, because Mr. Jones under- 
stood the peculiar idiom of his faithful follower. 

" Oh, without doubt ! Without doubt ! " 

" It does me good to hear that you think so. He's 
a prancing beast, and so we mustn't startle him — not 
till I have located the stuff. Afterward — " 

Ricardo paused, sinister in the stillness of his pose. 
Suddenly he got up with a swift movement and gazed 
down at his chief in moody abstraction. Mr. Jones 
did not stir. 

"There's one thing that's worrying me," began Ricardo 
in a subdued voice. 

" Only one ? " was the faint comment from the motion- 
less body on the bedstead. 

" I mean more than all the others put together." 

" That's grave news." 

" Ay, grave enough. It's this — how do you feel in 
yourself, sir ? Are you likely to get bored ? I know 
them fits come on you suddenly ; but surely you can 
tell—" 

" Martin, you are an ass." 

The moody face of the secretary brightened up. 

" Really, sir ? Well, I am quite content to be on 
these terms — I mean as long as you don't get bored. It 
wouldn't do, sir." 

For coolness, Ricardo had thrown open his shirt and 
rolled up his sleeves. He moved stealthily across the 
room, bare-footed, toward the candle, the shadow of 
his head and shoulders growing bigger behind him on 
the opposite wall, to which the face of plain Mr. Jones 



28o VICTORY 

was turned. With a feline movement, Ricardo glanced 
over his shoulder at the thin back of the spectre reposing 
on the bed, and then blew out the candle. 

" In fact, I am rather amused, Martin," Mr. Jones 
said in the dark. 

He heard the sound of a slapped thigh and the jubilant 
exclamation of his henchman : 

'' Good I That's the way to talk, sir ! " 



PART IV 



981 



RICARDO advanced prudently by short darts from 
one tree-trunk to another, more in the manner of a 
squirrel than a cat. The sun had risen some time before. 
Already the sparkle of open sea was encroaching rapidly on 
the dark, cool, early-morning blue of Diamond Bay ; but 
the deep dusk lingered yet under the mighty pillars of the 
forest, between which the secretary dodged. 

He was watching Number One's bungalow with an 
animal-like patience, if with a very human complexity of 
purpose. This was the second morning of such watching. 
The first one had not been rewarded by success. Well, 
strictly speaking, there was no hurry. 

The sun, swinging above the ridge all at once, inun- 
dated with light the space of burnt grass in front of 
Ricardo and the face of the bungalow, on which his eyes 
were fixed, leaving only the one dark spot of the doorway. 
To his right, to his left, and behind him, splashes of gold 
appeared in the deep shade of the forest, thinning the 
gloom under the ragged roof of leaves. 

This was not a very favourable circumstance for Ricardo's 
purpose. He did not wish to be detected in his patient 
occupation. For what he was watching for was a sight of 
the girl — that girl ! Just a gHmpse across the burnt patch 
to see what she was like. He had excellent eyes, and the 
distance was not so great. He would be able to distinguish 

her face quite easily if she only came out on the veranda ; 

283 



284 VICTORY 

and she was bound to do that sooner or later. He was con- 
fident that he could form some opinion about her — which, 
he felt, was very necessary, before venturing on some steps 
to get in touch with her behind that Swedish baron's 
back. His theoretical view of the girl was such that 
he was quite prepared, on the strength of that distant 
examination, to show himself discreetly — perhaps even 
make a sign. It all depended on his reading of the face. 
She couldn't be much. He knew that sort ! 

By protruding his head a little he commanded, through 
the foliage of a festooning creeper, a view of the three 
bungalows, irregularly disposed along a fiat curve. Over 
the veranda rail of the farthermost one hung a dark rug 
of a tartan pattern, amazingly conspicuous. Ricardo 
could see the very checks. A brisk fire of sticks was 
burning on the ground in front of the steps, and in the sun- 
light the thin, fluttering flame had paled almost to invisi- 
bility — a mere rosy stir under a faint wreath of smoke. 
He could see the white bandage on the head of Pedro 
bending over it, and the wisps of black hair sticking up 
weirdly. He had wound that bandage himself, after 
breaking that shaggy and enormous head. The creature 
balanced it like a load, staggering toward the steps. 
Ricardo could see a small, long-handled saucepan at the end 
of a great hairy paw. 

Yes, he could see all that there was to be seen, far and 
near. Excellent eyes I The only thing they could not 
penetrate was the dark oblong of the doorway on the 
veranda under the low eaves of the bungalow's roof. 
And that was vexing. It was an outrage. Ricardo was 
easily outraged. Surely she would come out presently ! 
Why didn't she ? Surely the fellow did not tie her up 
to the bed-post before leaving the house ! 

Nothing appeared. Ricardo was as still as the leafy 



VICTORY 285 

cables of creepers depending in a convenient curtain 
from the mighty Umb sixty feet above his head. His 
very eyelids were still, and this unblinking watchfulness 
gave him the dreamy air of a cat posed on a hearth-rug 
contemplating the fire. Was he dreaming ? There, in 
plain sight, he had before him a white, blouse-like jacket, 
short blue trousers, a pair of bare yellow calves, a pigtail, 
long and slender — 

** The confounded Chink 1 " he muttered, astounded. 

He was not conscious of having looked away ; and 
yet right there, in the middle of the picture, without 
having come round the right-hand corner or the left- 
hand corner of the house, without falling from the sky 
or surging up from the ground, Wang had become 
visible, as large as life, and engaged in the young-ladyish 
occupation of picking flowers. Step by step, stooping 
repeatedly over the flower-beds at the foot of the 
veranda, the startlingly materialised Chinaman passed 
off the scene in a very commonplace manner, by going 
up the steps and disappearing in the darkness of the 
doonvay. 

Only then the yellow eyes of Martin Ricardo lost their 
intent fixity. He understood that it was time for him 
to be moving. That bunch of flowers going into the house 
in the hand of a Chinaman was for the breakfast-table. 
What else could it be for ? 

" I'll give you flowers ! " he muttered threateningly. 
" You wait ! " 

Another moment, just for a glance toward the Jones 
bungalow, whence he expected Heyst to issue on his way 
to that breakfast so offensively decorated, and Ricardo 
began his retreat. His impulse, his desire, was for a rush 
into the open, face to face with the appointed victim, 
for what he called a *' ripping up," visualised greedily, and 



286 VICTORY 

always with the swift prehminary stooping movement on 
his part — the forerunner of certain death to his adversary. 
This was his impulse ; and as it was, so to speak, con- 
stitutional, it was extremely difficult to resist when his 
blood was up. What could be more trying than to have 
to skulk and dodge and restrain oneself, mentally and 
physically, when one's blood was up ? Mr. Secretary 
Ricardo began his retreat from his post of observation 
behind a tree opposite Heyst's bungalow, using great care 
to remain unseen. His proceedings were made easier 
by the declivity of the ground, which sloped sharply 
down to the water's edge. There, his feet feehng the 
warmth of the island's rocky foundation already heated 
by the sun, through the thin soles of his straw slippers, he 
was, as it were, sunk out of sight of the houses. A short 
scramble of some twenty feet brought him up again to the 
upper level, at the place where the jetty had its root in the 
shore. He leaned his back against one of the lofty 
uprights which still held up the company's sign-board 
above the mound of derelict coal. Nobody could have 
guessed how much his blood was up. To contain himself 
he folded his arms tightly on his breast. 

Ricardo was not used to a prolonged effort of self- 
control. His craft, his artfulness, felt themselves always 
at the mercy of his nature, which was truly feral and only 
held in subjection by the influence of the "governor," 
the prestige of a gentleman. It had its cunning too, but 
it was being almost too severely tried since the feral 
solution of a growl and a spring was forbidden by the 
problem. Ricardo dared not venture out on the cleared 
ground. He dared not. 

'* If I meet the beggar," he thought, " I don't know 
what I mayn't do. I daren't trust myself." 

What exasperated him just now was his inability 



VICTORY 287 

to understand Heyst. Ricardo was human enough to 
suffer from the discovery of his Umitations. No, he 
couldn't size Heyst up. He could kill him with extreme 
ease — a growl and a spring — but that was forbidden ! 
However, he could not remain indefinitely under the 
funereal blackboard. 

" I must make a move," he thought. 
He moved on, his head swimming a little with the 
repressed desire of violence, and came out openly in 
front of the bungalows, as if he had just been down to 
the jetty to look at the boat. The sunshine enveloped 
him, very brilliant, very still, very hot. The three build- 
ings faced him. The one with the rug on the balustrade 
was the most distant ; next to it was the empty bungalow ; 
the nearest, with the flower-beds at the foot of its veranda, 
contained that bothersome girl, who had managed so 
provokingly to keep herself invisible. That was why 
Ricardo's eyes lingered on that building. The girl would 
surely be easier to " size up " than Heyst. A sight of her, 
a mere gUmpse, would have been something to go by, a 
step nearer to the goal — the first real move, in fact. 
Ricardo saw no other move. And any time she might 
appear on that veranda ! 

She did not appear ; but, like a concealed magnet, she 
exercised her attraction. As he went on, he deviated 
towards the bungalow. Though his movements were 
deliberate, his feral instincts had such sway that if he had 
met Heyst walking toward him, he would have had to 
satisfy his need of violence. But he saw nobody. Wang 
was at the back of the house, keeping the coffee hot against 
Number One's return for breakfast. Even the simian 
Pedro was out of sight, no doubt crouching on the door- 
step, his red little eyes fastened with animal-hke devotion 
on Mr. Jones, who was in discourse with Heyst in the other 



288 VICTORY 

bungalow — the conversation of an evil spectre with a dis- 
armed man, watched by an ape. 

His will having very Httle to do with it, Ricardo, darting 
swift glances in all directions, found himself at the steps 
of the Heyst bungalow. Once there, falling under an 
uncontrollable force of attraction, he mounted them with 
a savage and stealthy action of his limbs, and paused 
for a moment under the eaves to listen to the silence. 
Presently he advanced over the threshold one leg — it 
seemed to stretch itself, hke a Hmb of india-rubber — 
planted his foot within, brought up the other swiftly, and 
stood inside the room, turning his head from side to side. 
To his eyes, brought in there from the dazzUng sunshine, 
all was gloom for a moment. His pupils, like a cat's, 
dilating swiftly, he distinguished an enormous quantity 
of books. He was amazed ; and he was put off, too. He 
was vexed in his astonishment. He had meant to note 
the aspect and nature of things, and hoped to draw some 
useful inference, some hint as to the man. But what 
guess could one make out of a multitude of books ? He 
didn't know what to think ; and he formulated his be- 
wilderment in the mental exclamation : 

" What the devil has this fellow been trying to set up 
here — a school ? " 

He gave a prolonged stare to the portrait of Heyst *s 
father, that severe profile ignoring the vanities of this 
earth. His eyes gleamed sideways at the heavy silver 
candlesticks — signs of opulence. He prowled as a stray 
cat entering a strange place might have done ; for if 
Ricardo had not Wang's miraculous gift of materiahsing 
and vanishing, rather than coming and going, he could 
be nearly as noiseless in his less elusive movements. He 
noted the back door standing just ajar ; and all the time 
his sHghtly pointed ears, at the utmost stretch of watch- 



VICTORY 289 

fulness, kept in touch with the profound silence outside 
enveloping the absolute stillness of the house. 

He had not been in the room two minutes when it 
occurred to him that he must be alone in the bungalow. 
The woman, most likely, had sneaked out, and was walk- 
ing about somewhere in the grounds at the back. She 
had been probably ordered to keep out of sight. Why ? 
Because the fellow mistrusted his guests ; or was it because 
he mistrusted her ? 

Ricardo reflected that from a certain point of view it 
amounted nearly to the same thing. He remembered 
Schomberg's story. He felt that running away with 
somebody only to get clear of that beastly, tame, hotel- 
keeper's attentions, was no proof of hopeless infatuation. 
She could be got in touch with. 

His moustaches stirred. For some time he had been 
looking at a closed door. He would peep into that other 
room, and perhaps see something more informing than a 
confounded lot of books. As he crossed over, he thought 
recklessly : 

" If the beggar comes in suddenly, and starts to prance 
ril rip him up and be done with it ! " 

He laid his hand on the handle, and felt the door come 
unlatched. Before he pulled it open, he listened again to the 
silence. He felt it all about him, complete, without a flaw. 

The necessity of prudence had exasperated his self- 
restraint. A mood of ferocity woke up in him, and, as 
always at such times, he became physically aware of the 
sheeted knife strapped to his leg. He pulled at the door 
with fierce curiosity. It came open without a squeak of 
hinge, without a rustle, with no sound at all ; and he found 
himself glaring at the opaque surface of some rough blue 
stufi, like serge. A curtain was fitted inside, heavy enough 
and long enough not to stir. 
19 



290 VICTORY 

A curtain ! This unforeseen veil, baffling his curiosity, 
checked his brusqueness. He did not fling it aside with 
an impatient movement ; he only looked at it closely, as if 
its texture had to be examined before his hand could touch 
such stuff. In this interval of hesitation he seemed to 
detect a flaw in the perfection of the silence, the faintest 
possible rustle, which his ears caught and instantly, in the 
effort of conscious Hstening, lost again. No 1 Every- 
thing was still inside and outside the house, only he had 
no longer the sense of being alone there. 

When he put out his hand toward the motionless folds, 
it was with extreme caution, and merely to push the stuff 
aside a little, advancing his head at the same time to peep 
within. A moment of complete immobility ensued. Then, 
without anything else of him stirring, Ricardo's head 
shrank back on his shoulders, his arm descended slowly 
to his side. There was a woman in there. The very 
woman 1 Lighted dimly by the reflection of the outer 
glare, she loomed up strangely big and shadowy at the 
other end of the long, narrow room. With her back to the 
door, she was doing her hair with her bare arms uphfted. 
One of them gleamed pearly white ; the other detached 
its perfect form in black against the unshuttered, uncur- 
tained square window-hole. She was there, her fingers 
busy with her dark hair, utterly unconscious, exposed and 
defenceless — and tempting. 

Ricardo drew back one foot and pressed his elbows close 
to his sides ; his chest started heaving convulsively, as if 
he were wrestling or running a race ; his body began to 
sway gently back and forth. The self-restraint was at an 
end : his psychology must have its way. The instinct 
for the feral spring could no longer be denied. Ravish or 
kill — it was all one to him, as long as by the act he liber- 
ated the suffering soul of savagery repressed for so long. 



VICTORY 291 

After a quick glance over his shoulder, which hunters of 
big game tell us no lion or tiger omits to give before charg- 
ing home, Ricardo charged, head down, straight at the 
curtain. The stuff, tossed up violently by his rush, settled 
itself with a slow, floating descent into vertical folds, 
motionless, without a shudder even, in the still, warm air. 



II 



THE clock — which once upon a time had measured 
the hours of philosophic meditation — could not 
have ticked away more than five seconds when Wang 
materialised within the living-room. His concern prim- 
arily was with the delayed breakfast, but at once his 
slanting eyes became immovably fixed upon the unstirring 
curtain. For it was behind it that he had located the 
strange, deadened scuffling sounds which filled the empty 
room. The slanting eyes of his race could not achieve a 
round, amazed stare ; but they remained still, dead still, 
and his impassive yellow face grew all at once careworn 
and lean with the sudden strain of intense, doubtful, 
frightened watchfulness. Contrary impulses swayed his 
body, rooted to the floor-mats. He even went so far as 
to extend his hand toward the curtain. He could not 
reach it, and he didn't make the necessary step forward. 

The mysterious struggle was going on with confused 
thuds of bare feet, in a mute wrestling match, no human 
sound, hiss, groan, murmur, or exclamation coming through 
the curtain. A chair fell over, not with a crash but lightly, 
as if just grazed, and a faint metallic ring of the tin bath 
succeeded. Finally the tense silence, as of two adver- 
saries locked in a deadly grip, was ended by the heavy, dull 
thump of a soft body flung against the inner partition of 
planks. It seemed to shake the whole bungalow. By that 
time, walking backward, his eyes, bis very throat, strained 

aga 



VICTORY 293 

with fearful excitement, his extended arm still pointing at 
the curtain, Wang had disappeared through the back door. 
Once out in the compound, he bolted round the end of the 
house. Emerging innocently between the two bungalows 
he lingered and lounged in the open, where anybody 
issuing from any of the dwellings was bound to see him — 
a self-possessed Chinaman idling there, with nothing but 
perhaps an unserved breakfast on his mind. 

It was at this time that Wang made up his mind to 
give up all connection with Number One, a man not only 
disarmed but already half vanquished. Till that morning 
he had had doubts as to his course of action, but this 
overheard scuffle decided the question. Number One was 
a doomed man — one of those beings whom it is unlucky 
to help. Even as he walked in the open with a fine air 
of unconcern, Wang wondered that no sound of any sort 
was to be heard inside the house. For all he knew, the 
white woman might have been scuffling in there with an 
evil spirit, which had of course killed her. For nothing 
visible came out of the house he watched out of the 
slanting corner of his eye. The sunshine and the silence 
outside the bungalow reigned undisturbed. 

But in the house the silence of the big room would not 
have struck an acute ear as perfect. It was troubled by 
a stir so faint that it could hardly be called a ghost of 
whispering from behind the curtain. 

Ricardo, feeling his throat with tender care, breathed 
out admiringly : 

" You have fingers like steel. Jimminy ! You have 
muscle like a giant ! " 

Luckily for Lena, Ricardo's onset had been so sudden — 
she was winding her two heavy tresses round her head 
— that she had no time to lower her arms. This, which 
saved them from being pinned to her sides, gave her a 



294 VICTORY 

better chance to resist. His spring had nearly thrown her 
down. Luckily, again, she was standing so near the wall 
that, though she was driven against it headlong, yet the 
shock was not heavy enough to knock all the breath out of 
her body. On the contrary, it helped her first instinctive 
attempt to drive her assailant backward. 

After the first gasp of a surprise that was really too 
overpowering for a cry, she was never in doubt of the 
nature of the danger. She defended herself in the full, 
clear knowledge of it, from the force of instinct which is the 
true source of every great display of energy, and with a 
determination which could hardly have been expected from 
a girl who, cornered in a dim corridor by the red-faced, 
stammering Schomberg, had trembled with shame, dis- 
gust, and fear ; had drooped, terrified, before mere words 
spluttered out odiously by a man who had never in his 
life laid his big paw on her. 

This new enemy's attack was simple, straightforward 
violence. It was not the slimy, underhand plotting to 
deliver her up like a slave, which had sickened her heart 
and had made her feel in her loneliness that her oppressors 
were too many for her. She was no longer alone in the 
world now. She resisted without a moment of faltering, 
because she was no longer deprived of moral support ; 
because she was a human being who counted ; because she 
was no longer defending herself for herself alone ; because 
of the faith that had been born in her — the faith in the 
man of her destiny, and perhaps in the Heaven which had 
sent him so wonderfully to cross her path. 

She had defended herself principally by maintaining a 
desperate, murderous clutch on Ricardo's windpipe, till 
she felt a sudden relaxation of the terrific hug in which 
he stupidly and ineffectually persisted to hold her. Then, 
with a supreme effort of her arms and of her suddenly 



VICTORY 295 

raised knee, she sent him flying against the partition. The 
cedar-wood chest stood in the way, and Ricardo, with a 
thump which boomed hollow through the whole bungalow, 
fell on it in a sitting posture, half strangled, and exhausted 
not so much by the efforts as by the emotions of the 
struggle. 

With the recoil of her exerted strength, she too reeled, 
staggered back, and sat on the edge of the bed. Out of 
breath, but calm and unabashed, she busied herself in 
readjusting under her arms the brown and yellow figured 
Celebes sarong, the tuck of which had come undone during 
the fight. Then, folding her bare arms tightly on her 
breast, she leaned forward on her crossed legs, determined 
and without fear. 

Ricardo, leaning forward too, his nervous force gone, 
crestfallen like a beast of prey that has missed its spring, 
met her big grey eyes looking at him — wide open, observing, 
mysterious — from under the dark arches of her courageous 
eyebrows. Their faces were not a foot apart. He ceased 
feeling about his aching throat, and dropped the palms of 
his hands heavily on his knees. He was not looking at 
her bare shoulders, at her strong arms ; he was looking 
down at the floor. He had lost one of his straw slippers. 
A chair with a white dress on it had been overturned. 
These, with splashes of water on the floor out of a brusquely 
misplaced sponge -bath, were the only traces of the 
struggle. 

Ricardo swallowed twice consciously, as if to make sure 
of his throat, before he spoke again : 

" All right. I never meant to hurt you — though I am 
no joker when it comes to it." 

He pulled up the leg of his pyjamas to exhibit the 
strapped knife. She glanced at it without moving her 
head, and murmured, with scornful bitterness : 



296 VICTORY 

" Ah, yes — with that thing stuck in my side. In no 
other way." 

He shook his head with a shamefaced smile. 

** Listen ! I am quiet now. Straight — I am. I don't 
need to explain why — you know how it is. And I can see, 
now, this wasn't the way with you." 

She made no sound. Her still, upward gaze had a 
patient mournfulness which troubled him like a suggestion 
of an inconceivable depth. He added doubtfully : 

" You are not going to make a noise about this silly 
try of mine ? " 

She moved her head the least bit. 

" Jee-miny ! You are a wonder," he murmured ear- 
nestly, relieved more than she could have guessed. 

Of course, if she had attempted to run out, he would 
have stuck the knife between her shoulders, to stop her 
screaming ; but aU the fat would have been in the fire, 
the business utterly spoiled, and the rage of the governor 
— especially when he learned the cause — boundless. A 
woman that does not make a noise after an attempt of 
that kind has tacitly condoned the offence. Ricardo had 
no small vanities. But clearly, if she would pass it over 
like this, then he could not be so utterly repugnant to 
her. He felt flattered. And she didn't seem afraid of 
him either. He already felt almost tender toward the 
girl — that plucky, fine girl who had not tried to run 
screaming from him. 

" We shall be friends yet. I don't give you up. Don't 
think it. Friends as friends can be ! " he whispered con- 
fidently. " Jee-miny ! You aren't a tame one. Neither 
am I. You will find that out before long." 

He could not know that if she had not run out, it was 
because that morning, under the stress of growing uneasi- 
ness at the presence of the incomprehensible visitors, 



VICTORY 297 

Heyst had confessed to her that it was his revolver he 
had been looking for in the night ; that it was gone ; 
that he was a disarmed, defenceless man. She had hardly 
comprehended the meaning of his confession. Now she 
understood better what it meant. The effort of her self- 
control, her stillness, impressed Ricardo. Suddenly she 
spoke : 

" What are you after ? " 

He did not raise his eyes. His hands reposing on his 
knees, his drooping head, something reflective in his pose, 
suggested the weariness of a simple soul, the fatigue of a 
mental rather than physical contest. He answered the 
direct question by a direct statement, as if he were too 
tired to dissemble : 

" After the swag." 

The word was strange to her. The veiled ardour of 
her grey gaze from under the dark eyebrows never left 
Ricardo's face. 

" A swag ? " she murmured quietly. " What's that ? " 

" Why, swag, plunder — ^what your gentleman has been 
pinching right and left for years — the pieces. Don't you 
know? This!" 

Without looking up, he made the motion of counting 
money into the palm of his hand. She lowered her eyes 
slightly to observe this bit of pantomime, but returned 
them to his face at once. Then, in a mere breath : 

" How do you know anything about him ? " she asked, 
concealing her puzzled alarm. " What has it got to do 
with you ? " 

" Everything," was Ricardo's concise answer, in a low, 
emphatic whisper. He reflected that this girl was really 
his best hope. Out of the unfaded impression of past 
violence there was growing the sort of sentiment which 
prevents a man from being indifferent to a woman he 



298 VICTORY 

has once held in his arms — if even against her will — and 
still more so if she has pardoned the outrage. It becomes 
then a sort of bond. He felt positively the need to confide 
in her — a subtle trait of mascuUnity, this, almost physical, 
need of trust which can exist side by side with the most 
brutal readiness of suspicion. 

" It's a game of grab — see ? " he went on, with a new 
inflection of intimacy in his murmur. He was looking 
straight at her now. "That fat, tame slug of a gin- 
slinger, Schomberg, put us up to it." 

So strong is the impression of helpless and persecuted 
misery, that the girl who had fought down a savage 
assault without faltering could not completely repress a 
shudder at the mere sound of the abhorred name. 

Ricardo became more rapid and confidential : 

" He wants to pay him off — pay both of you, at that ; 
so he told me. He was hot after you. He would have 
given all he had into those hands of yours that have 
nearly strangled me. But you couldn't, eh ? Nohow — 
what ? " He paused. " So, rather than — you followed 
a gentleman ? " 

He noticed a slight movement of her head and spoke 
quickly. 

" Same here — rather than be a wage- slave. Only these 
foreigners aren't to be trusted. You're too good for him. 
A man that will rob his best chum ! " She raised her 
head. He went on, well pleased with his progress, 
whispering hurriedly : *' Yes. I know all about him. 
So you may guess how he's likely to treat a woman after 
a bit I " 

He did not know that he was striking terror into her 
breast now. Still the grey eyes remained fixed on him 
unmovably watchful, as if sleepy, under the white fore- 
head. She was beginning to understand. His words 



VICTORY 299 

conveyed a definite, dreadful meaning to her mind, which 
he proceeded to enlighten further in a convinced murmur. 

" You and I are made to understand each other. Born 
ahke, bred alike, I guess. You are not tame. Same 
here ! You have been chucked out into this rotten world 
of 'yrporcrits. Same here ! " 

Her stillness, her appalled stillness, wore to him an air 
of fascinated attention. He asked abruptly : 

" Where is it ? " 

She made an effort to breathe out : 

" Where's what ? " 

His tone expressed excited secrecy. 

" The swag — plunder — pieces. It's a game of grab. 
We must have it ; but it isn't easy, and so you will have 
to lend a hand. Come ! Is it kept in the house ? " 

As often with women, her wits were sharpened by the 
very terror of the glimpsed menace. She shook her head 
negatively. 

" No." 

" Sure ? " 

" Sure," she said. 

" Ay I Thought so. Does your gentleman trust 
you ? " 

Again she shook her head. 

" Blamed 'yrporcrit," he said feehngly, and then re- 
flected : " He's one of the tame ones, ain't he ? " 

" You had better find out for yourself," she said. 

" You trust me. I don't want to die before you and 
I have made friends." This was said with a strange air 
of feline gallantry. Then, tentatively : " But he could 
be brought to trust you, couldn't he ? " 

" Trust me ? " she said, in a tone which bordered on 
despair, but which he mistook for derision. 

" Stand in with us," he urged. " Give the chuck to all 



300 VICTORY ' 

this blamed 'yrporcrisy. Perhaps, without being trusted, 
you have managed to find out something already, eh ? " 

" Perhaps I have," she uttered with lips that seemed 
to her to be freezing fast. 

Ricardo now looked at her calm face with something 
like respect. He was even a little awed by her stillness, 
by her economy of words. Womanlike, she felt the effect 
she had produced, the effect of knowing much and of 
keeping all her knowledge in reserve. So far, somehow, 
this had come about of itself. Thus encouraged, directed 
in the way of duplicity, the refuge of the weak, she made 
a heroically conscious effort and forced her stiff, cold lips 
into a smile. 

Duplicity — the refuge of the weak and the cowardly, 
but of the disarmed, too ! Nothing stood between the 
enchanted dream of her existence and a cruel catastrophe 
but her duplicity. It seemed to her that the man sitting 
there before her was an unavoidable presence, which had 
attended all her life. He was the embodied evil of the 
world. She was not ashamed of her duplicity. With a 
woman's frank courage, as soon as she saw that opening 
she threw herself into it without reserve, with only one 
doubt — that of her own strength. She was appalled by 
the situation ; but already all her aroused femininity, 
understanding that whether Heyst loved her or not she 
loved him, and feeling that she had brought this on his 
head, faced the danger with a passionate desire to defend 
her own. 



Ill 



To Ricardo the girl had been so unforeseen that 
he was unable to bring upon her the hght of his 
critical faculties. Her smile appeared to him full of 
promise. He had not expected her to be what she was. 
Who, from the talk he had heard, could expect to meet 
a girl like this ? She was a blooming miracle, he said to 
himself, familiarly, yet with a tinge of respect. She was 
no meat for the hkes of that tame, respectable gin-shnger. 
Ricardo grew hot with indignation. Her courage, her 
physical strength, demonstrated at the cost of his dis- 
comfiture, commanded his sympathy. He felt himself 
drawn to her by the proofs of her amazing spirit. Such 
a girl 1 She had a strong soul ; and her reflective dis- 
position to throw over her connection proved that she 
was no hypocrite. 

" Is your gentleman a good shot ? " he said, looking 
down on the floor again, as if indifferent. 

She hardly understood the phrase ; but in its form 
it suggested some accomplishment. It was safe to whisper 
an afi&rmative. 

" Yes." 

" Mine, too — and better than good," Ricardo murmured, 
and then, in a confidential burst : " I am not so good at 
it, but I carry a pretty deadly thing about me, all the 

same I " 

He tapped his leg. She was past the stage of shudders 

301 



302 VICTORY 

now. Stiff all over, unable even to move her eyes, she 
felt an awful mental tension which was Hke blank forget- 
fulness. Ricardo tried to influence her in his own way. 

" And my gentleman is not the sort that would drop 
me. He ain't no foreigner ; whereas you, with your 
baron, you don't know what's before you — or, rather, 
being a woman, you know only too well. Much better not 
to wait for the chuck. Pile in with us and get your share 
— of the plunder, I mean. You have some notion about 
it already." 

She felt that if she as much as hinted by word or sign 
that there was no such thing on the island, Heyst's life 
wouldn't be worth half an hour's purchase ; but all power 
of combining words had vanished in the tension of her mind. 
Words themselves were too difficult to think of — all except 
the word " yes." The saving word 1 She whispered 
it with not a feature of her face moving. To Ricardo 
the faint and concise sound proved a cool, reserved assent, 
more worth having from that amazing mistress of herself 
than a thousand words from any other woman. He 
thought with exultation that he had come upon one in a 
million — in ten miUions I His whisper became frankly 
entreating. 

" That's good ! Now all you've got to do is to make 
sure where he keeps his swag. Only do be quick about 
it ! I can't stand much longer this crawhng-on-the- 
stomach business so as not to scare your gentleman. 
What do you think a fellow is — a reptile ? " 

She stared without seeing any one, as a person in the 
night sits staring and listening to deadly sounds, to evil 
incantations. And always in her head there was that 
tension of the mind trying to get hold of something, of a 
saving idea which seemed to be so near and could not 
be captured. Suddenly she seized it. Yes — she had to get 



VICTORY 303 

that man out of the house. At that very moment, raised 
outside, not very near, but heard distinctly, Heyst's voice 
uttered the words : 

" Have you been looking out for me, Wang ? " 

It was for her like a flash of lightning framed in the 
darkness which had beset her on all sides, showing a 
deadly precipice right under her feet. With a convulsive 
movement she sat up straight, but had no power to rise. 
Ricardo, on the contrary, was on his feet on the instant, 
as noiseless as a cat. His yellow eyes gleamed, gliding 
here and there ; but he, too, seemed unable to make 
another movement. Only his moustaches stirred visibly, 
like the feelers of some animal. 

Wang's answer, " Ya tuan," was heard by the two in 
the room, but more faintly. Then Heyst again : 

" All right ! You may bring the coffee in. Mem 
Putih out in the room yet ? " 

To this question Wang made no answer. 

Ricardo's and the girl's eyes met, utterly without 
expression, all their faculties being absorbed in listening 
for the first sound of Heyst's footsteps, for any sound 
outside which would mean that Ricardo's retreat was 
cut off. Both understood perfectly well that Wang 
must have gone round the house, and that he was now 
at the back, making it impossible for Ricardo to slip out 
unseen that way before Heyst came in at the front. 

A darkling shade settled on the face of the devoted 
secretary. Here was the business utterly spoiled I It 
was the gloom of anger, and even of apprehension. He 
would perhaps have made a dash for it through the back 
door, if Heyst had not been heard ascending the front 
steps. He climbed them slowly, very slowly, hke a man 
who is discouraged or weary — or simply thoughtful ; 
and Ricardo had a mental vision of his face, with its martial 



304 VICTORY 

moustaches, the lofty forehead, the impassive features, 
and the quiet, meditative eyes. Trapped 1 Confound it I 
After all, perhaps the governor was right. Women had 
to be shunned. FooHng with this one had apparently 
ruined the whole business. For, trapped as he was, he 
might just as well kill, since, anyhow, to be seen was to 
be unmasked. But he was too fair-minded to be angry 
with the girl. 
Heyst had paused on the veranda, or in the very doorway. 
" I shall be shot down like a dog if I ain't quick," Ricardo 
muttered excitedly to the girl. 

He stooped to get hold of his knife ; and the next 
moment would have hurled himself out through the 
curtain, nearly as prompt and fully as deadly to Heyst 
as an unexpected thunderbolt. The feel more than the 
strength of the girl's hand, clutching at his shoulder, 
checked him. He swung round, crouching with a yellow 
upward glare. Ah ! Was she turning against him ? 

He would have stuck his knife into the hollow of her 
bare throat if he had not seen her other hand pointing 
to the window. It was a long opening, high up, close 
under the ceihng almost, with a single pivoting shutter. 

While he was still looking at it, she moved noiselessly 
away, picked up the overturned chair, and placed it under 
the wall. Then she looked round ; but he didn't need to 
be beckoned to. In two long, tiptoeing strides he was 
at her side. 

" Be quick ! " she gasped. 

He seized her hand and wrung it with all the force 
of his dumb gratitude, as a man does to a chum when 
there is no time for words. Then he mounted the chair. 
Ricardo was short — too short to get over without a noisy 
scramble. He hesitated an instant ; she, watchful, bore 
rigidly on the seat with her beautiful bare arms, while. 



VICTORY 305 

light and sure, he used the back of the chair as a ladder. 
The masses of her brown hair fell all about her face. 

Footsteps resounded in the next room, and Heyst's 
voice, not very loud, called her by name. 

" Lena ! " 

" Yes I In a minute," she answered with a particular 
intonation which she knew would prevent Heyst from 
coming in at once. 

When she looked up, Ricardo had vanished, letting 
himself down outside so hghtly that she had not heard the 
slightest noise. She stood up then, bewildered, frightened, 
as if awakened from a drugged sleep, with heavy, down- 
cast, unseeing eyes, her fortitude tired out, her imagina- 
tion as if dead within her and unable to keep her fear ahve. 

Heyst moved about aimlessly in the other room. This 
sound roused her exhausted wits. At once she began to 
think, hear, see ; and what she saw — or rather recog- 
nised, for her eyes had been resting on it all the time — 
was Ricardo 's straw shpper, lost in the scuffle, lying near 
the bath. She had just time to step forward and plant 
her foot on it when the curtain shook, and, pushed aside, 
disclosed Heyst in the doorway. 

Out of the appeased enchantment of the senses she 
had found with him, like a sort of bewitched state, his 
danger brought a sensation of warmth to her breast. 
She felt something stir in there, something profound, 
like a new sort of life. 

The room was in partial darkness, Ricardo having 
accidentally swung the pivoted shutter as he went out 
of the window. Heyst peered from the doorway. 

" Why, you haven't done your hair yet," he said. 

" I won't stop to do it now. I sha'n't be long," sh* 

replied steadily, and remained still, feeling Ricardo's 

slipper under the sole of her foot. 
20 



3o6 VICTORY 

Heyst, with a movement of retreat, let the curtain 
drop slowly. On the instant she stooped for the slipper, 
and, with it in her hand, spun round wildly, looking 
for some hiding-place ; but there was no such spot in the 
bare room. The chest, the leather trunk, a dress or two 
of hers hanging on pegs — there was no place where the 
merest hazard might not guide Heyst 's hand at any 
moment. Her wildly roaming eyes were caught by the 
half-closed window. She ran to it, and by raising herself 
on her toes was able to reach the shutter with her finger- 
tips. She pushed it square, stole back to the middle of 
the room, and, turning about, swung her arm, regulating 
the force of the throw so as not to let the slipper fly too 
far out and hit the edge of the overhanging eaves. It 
was a task of the nicest judgment for the muscles of those 
round arms, still quivering from the deadly wrestle with a 
man, for that brain, tense with the excitement of the 
situation and for the unstrung nerves flickering darkness 
before her eyes. At last the slipper left her hand. As 
soon as it passed the opening, it was out of her sight. 
She listened. She did not hear it strike anything ; it 
just vanished, as if it had wings to fly on through the 
air. Not a sound ! It had gone clear. 

Her valiant arms hanging close against her side, she 
stood as if turned into stone. A faint whistle reached 
her ears. The forgetful Ricardo, becoming very much 
aware of his loss, had been hanging about in great anxiety, 
which was relieved by the appearance of the slipper 
flying from under the eaves ; and now, thoughtfully, 
he had ventured a whistle to put her mind at ease. 

Suddenly the girl reeled forward. She saved herself 
from a fall only by embracing with both arms one of 
the tall, roughly carved posts holding the mosquito-net 
above the bed. For a long time she clung to it, with 



VICTORY 307 

her forehead leaning against the wood. One side of her 
loosened sarong had slipped down as low as her hip. The 
long brown tresses of her hair fell in lank wisps, as if 
wet, almost black against her white body. Her uncovered 
flank, damp with the sweat of anguish and fatigue, gleamed 
coldly with the immobility of polished marble in the hot, 
diffused light falling through the window above her head 
— a dim reflection of the consuming, passionate blaze of 
sunshine outside, all aquiver with the effort to set the 
earth on fire, to burn it to ashes. 



IV 

HEYST, seated at the table with his chin on his 
breast, raised his head at the faint rustle of Lena's 
dress. He was startled by the dead pallor of her cheeks, 
by something lifeless in her eyes, which looked at him 
strangely, without recognition. But to his anxious in- 
quiries she answered reassuringly that there was nothing 
the matter with her, really. She had felt giddy on rising. 
She had even had a moment of faintness, after her bath. 
She had to sit down to wait for it to pass. This had 
made her late dressing. 

" I didn't try to do my hair. I didn't want to keep 
you waiting any longer," she said. 

He was unwilling to press her with questions about 
her health, since she seemed to make light of this indis- 
position. She had not done her hair, but she had brushed 
it, and had tied it with a ribbon behind. With her fore- 
head uncovered, she looked very young, almost a child, 
a careworn child ; a child with something on its mind. 

What surprised Heyst was the non-appearance of 
Wang. The Chinaman had always materialised at the 
precise moment of his service, neither too soon nor too 
late. This time the usual miracle failed. What was the 
meaning of this ? 

Heyst raised his voice — a thing he disliked doing. It 
was promptly answered from the compound : 

'* Adaiuanl" 

30l 



VICTORY 309 

Lena, leaning on her elbow, with her eyes on her plate, 
did not seem to hear anything. When Wang entered 
with a tray, his narrow eyes, tilted inward by the prom- 
inence of salient cheekbones, kept her under stealthy 
observation all the time. Neither the one nor the other 
of that white couple paid the slightest attention to him, 
and he withdrew without having heard them exchange 
a single word. He squatted on his heels on the back 
veranda. His Chinaman's mind, very clear but not far- 
reaching, was made up according to the plain reason 
of things, such as it appeared to him in the light of his 
simple feeling for self-preservation, untrammelled by any 
notions of romantic honour or tender conscience. His 
yellow hands, lightly clasped, hung idly between his 
knees. The graves of Wang's ancestors were far away, 
his parents were dead, his elder brother was a soldier 
in the yamen of some Mandarin away in Formosa. No 
one near by had a claim on his veneration or his obedience. 
He had been for years a labouring, restless vagabond. 
His only tie in the world was the Alfuro woman, in ex- 
change for whom he had given away some considerable 
part of his hard-earned substance ; and his duty, in 
reason, could be to no one but himself. 

The scuffle behind the curtain was a thing of bad 
augury for that Number One for whom the Chinaman 
had neither love nor dislike. He had been awed enough 
by that development to hang back with the coffee-pot 
till at last the white man was induced to call him in. 
Wang went in with curiosity. Certainly, the white woman 
looked as if she had been wrestling with a spirit, which 
had managed to tear half her blood out of her before letting 
her go. As to the man, Wang had long looked upon him 
as being in some sort bewitched ; and now he was doomed. 
He heard their voices in the room. Heyst was urging the 



310 VICTORY 

girl to go and lie down again. He was extremely con- 
cerned. She had eaten nothing. 

" The best thing for you. You really must ! " 

She sat listless, shaking her head from time to time 
negatively, as if nothing could be any good. But he 
insisted ; she saw the beginning of wonder in his eyes, 
and suddenly gave way. 

" Perhaps I had better." 

She did not want to arouse his wonder, which would 
lead him straight to suspicion. He must not suspect ! 

Already, with the consciousness of her love for this 
man, of that something rapturous and profound going 
beyond the mere embrace, there was born in her a woman's 
innate mistrust of masculinity, of that seductive strength 
allied to an absurd, delicate shrinking from the recognition 
of the naked necessity of facts, which never yet frightened 
a woman worthy of the name. She had no plan ; but 
her mind, quieted down somewhat by the very effort 
to preserve outward composure for his sake, perceived 
that her behaviour had secured, at any rate, a short 
period of safety. Perhaps because of the similarity of 
their miserable origin in the dregs of mankind, she had 
understood Ricardo perfectly. He would keep quiet for 
a time now. In this momentarily soothing certitude 
her bodily fatigue asserted itself, the more overpoweringly 
since its cause was not so much the demand on her strength 
as the awful suddenness of the stress she had had to meet. 
She would have tried to overcome it from the mere in- 
stinct of resistance, if it had not been for Heyst's alternate 
pleadings and commands. Before this eminently masculine 
fussing she felt the woman's need to give way, the sweetness 
of surrender. 

" I will do anything you like," she said. 

Getting up, she was surprised by a wave of languid 



VICTORY 311 

weakness that came over her, embracing and enveloping 
her like warm water, with a noise in her ears as of a break- 
ing sea. 

" You must help me along," she added quickly. 

While he put his arm round her waist — ^not by any 
means an uncommon thing for him to do — she found 
a special satisfaction in the feeling of being thus sustained. 
She abandoned all her weight to that encircling and pro- 
tecting pressure, while a thrill went through her at the 
sudden thought that it was she who would have to protect 
him, to be the defender of a man who was strong enough 
to lift her bodily, as he was doing even then in his two 
arms. For Heyst had done this as soon as they had 
crept through the doorway of the room. He thought it 
was quicker and simpler to carry her the last step or two. 
He had grown really too anxious to be aware of the effort. 
He lifted her high and deposited her on the bed, as one 
lays a child on its side in a cot. Then he sat down on 
the edge, masking his concern with a smile which obtained 
no response from the dreamy immobility of her eyes. 
But she sought his hand, seized it eagerly ; and while 
she was pressing it with all the force of which she was 
capable, the sleep she needed overtook her suddenly, over- 
whelmingly, as it overtakes a child in a cot, with her lips 
parted for a safe, endearing word which she had thought 
of but had no time to utter. 

The usual flaming silence brooded over Samburan. 

" What in the world is this new mystery ? " murmured 
Heyst to himself, contemplating her deep slumber. 

It was so deep, this enchanted sleep, that when some 
time afterward he gently tried to open her fingers and free 
his hand, he succeeded without provoking the slightest stir. 

" There is some very simple explanation, no doubt," 
he thought, as he stole out into the living-room. 



312 VICTORY 

Absent-mindedly he pulled a book out of the top shelf, 
and sat down with it ; but even after he had opened it on 
his knee, and had been staring at the pages for a time, he 
had not the slightest idea of what it was about. He 
stared and stared at the crowded, parallel lines. It was 
only when, raising his eyes for no particular reason, he 
saw Wang standing motionless on the other side of the 
table, that he regained complete control of his faculties. 

" Oh, yes," he said, as if suddenly reminded of a forgotten 
appointment of a not particularly welcome sort. 

He waited a little, and then, with reluctant curiosity, 
forced himself to ask the silent Wang what he had to say. 
He had some idea that the matter of the vanished revolver 
would come up at last ; but the guttural sounds which 
proceeded from the Chinaman did not refer to that delicate 
subject. His speech was concerned with cups, saucers, 
plates, forks, and knives. All these things had been put 
away in the cupboards on the back veranda, where they 
belonged, perfectly clean, " all plopel." Heyst wondered 
at the scrupulosity of a man who was about to abandon 
him ; for he was not surprised to hear Wang conclude the 
account of his stewardship with the words : 

" I go now." 

" Oh ! You go now ? " said Heyst, leaning back, his 
book on his knees. 

" Yes. Me no likee. One man, two man, thlee man — 
no can do ! Me go now." 

" What's frightening you away like this ? " asked 
Heyst, while through his mind flashed the hope that 
something enlightening might come from that being so 
unlike himself, taking contact with the world with a 
simplicity and directness of which his own mind was 
not capable. " Why .? " he went on. " You are used to 
white men. You know them well." 



VICTORY 313 

" Yes. Me savee them/' assented Wang inscrutably. 
" Me savee plenty." 

All that he really knew was his own mind. He had 
made it up to withdraw himself and the Alfuro woman 
from the uncertainties of the relations which were going 
to establish themselves between those white men. It was 
Pedro who had been the first cause of Wang's suspicion 
and fear. The Chinaman had seen wild men. He had 
penetrated, in the train of a Chinese pedlar, up one or two 
of the Bornean rivers into the country of the Dyaks. He 
had also been in the interior of Mindanao, where there are 
people who live in trees — savages, no better than animals ; 
but a hairy brute like Pedro, with his great fangs and 
ferocious growls, was altogether beyond his conception 
of anything that could be looked upon as human. The 
strong impression made on him by Pedro was the prime 
inducement which had led Wang to purloin the revolver. 
Reflection on the general situation, and on the insecurity 
of Number One, came later, after he had obtained posses- 
sion of the revolver and of the box of cartridges out of the 
table drawer in the living-room. 

" Oh, you savee plenty about white men," Heyst went 
on in a slightly bantering tone, after a moment of silent 
reflection in which he had confessed to himself that the 
recovery of the revolver was not to be thought of, either 
by persuasion or by some more forcible means. " You 
speak in that fashion, but you are frightened of those 
white men over there ! " 

" Me no flightened," protested Wang raucously, throw- 
ing up his head — which gave to his throat a more strained, 
anxious appearance than ever. " Me no likee," he added 
in a quieter tone. " Me velly sick." 

He put his hand over the region under the breastbone. 

" That," said Heyst, serenely positive, " belong one 



314 VICTORY 

piecee lie. That isn't proper man-talk at all. And after 
stealing my revolver, too ! " 

He had suddenly decided to speak about it, because 
this frankness could not make the situation much worse 
than it was. He did not suppose for a moment that Wang 
had the revolver anywhere about his person ; and after 
having thought the matter over, he had arrived at the 
conclusion that the Chinaman never meant to use the 
weapon against him. After a slight start, because the 
direct charge had taken him unawares, Wang tore open 
the front of his jacket with a convulsive show of indigna- 
tion. 

" No hab got. Look see ! '* he mouthed in pretended 
anger. 

He slapped his bare chest violently ; he uncovered 
his very ribs, all astir with the panting of outraged virtue ; 
his smooth stomach heaved with indignation. He started 
his wide blue breeches flapping about his yellow calves. 
Heyst watched him quietly. 

" I never said you had it on you," he observed, with- 
out raising his voice ; " but the revolver is gone from 
where I kept it." 

" Me no savee levolvel," Wang said obstinately. 

The book lying open on Heyst's knee slipped suddenly, 
and he made a sharp movement to catch it up. Wang 
was unable to see the reason of this because of the table, 
and leaped away from what seemed to him a threatening 
symptom. When Heyst looked up, the Chinaman was 
already at the door facing the room, not frightened, but 
alert. 

" What's the matter ? " asked Heyst. 

Wang nodded his shaven head significantly at the 
curtain closing the doorway of the bedroom. 

" Me no likee," he repeated. 



VICTORY 315 

" What the devil do you mean ? " Heyst was genuinely 
amazed. " Don't like what ? " 

Wang pointed a long, lemon-coloured finger at the 
motionless folds. 

" Two," he said. 

" Two what ? I don't understand." 

" Suppose you savee, you no hke that fashion. Me 
sa vee plenty. Me go now. ' ' 

Heyst had risen from his chair, but Wang kept his 
ground in the doorway for a httle while longer. His 
almond-shaped eyes imparted to his face an expression 
of soft and sentimental melancholy. The muscles of 
his throat moved visibly while he uttered a distinct and 
guttural " Good-bye," and vanished from Number One's 
sight. 

The Chinaman's departure altered the situation. Heyst 
reflected on what would be best to do in view of that fact. 
For a long time he hesitated ; then, shrugging his shoulders 
wearily, he walked out on the veranda, down the steps, 
and continued at a steady gait, with a thoughtful mien, 
in the direction of his guests' bungalow. He wanted to 
make an important communication to them, and he had 
no other object — least of all to give them the shock of a 
surprise call. Nevertheless, their brutish henchman not 
being on watch, it was Heyst's fate to startle Mr. Jones 
and his secretary by his sudden appearance in the door- 
way. Their conversation must have been very interesting 
to prevent them from hearing the visitor's approach. 
In the dim room — the shutters were kept constantly 
closed against the heat — Heyst saw them start apart. 
It was Mr. Jones who spoke ! 

** Ah, here you are again ! Come in, come in I " 

Heyst, taking his hat off in the doorway, entered the 
room. 



WAKING up suddenly, Lena looked, without raising 
her head from the pillow, at the room in which she 
was alone. She got up quickly, as if to counteract the 
awful sinking of her heart by the vigorous use of her limbs. 
But this sinking was only momentary. Mistress of herself 
from pride, from love, from necessity, and also because 
of a woman's vanity in self-sacrifice, she met Heyst, 
returning from the strangers' bungalow, with a clear 
glance and a smile. 

The smile he managed to answer ; but, noticing that 
he avoided her eyes, she composed her hps and lowered 
her gaze. For the same reason she hastened to speak 
to him in a tone of indifference, which she put on without 
effort, as if she had grown adept in duphcity since sunrise. 

" You have been over there again ? " 

" I have. I thought — but you had better know first 
that we have lost Wang for good." 

She repeated '* For good ? " as if she had not under- 
stood. 

"For good or evil — I shouldn't know which if you 
were to ask me. He has dismissed himself. He's gone." 

" You expected him to go, though, didn't you ? " 

Heyst sat down on the other side of the table. 

'* Yes. I expected it as soon as I discovered that 
he had annexed my revolver. He says he hasn't taken 

it. That's of course. A Chinaman would not see the 

316 



VICTORY 317 

sense of confessing under any circumstances. To deny 
any charge is a principle of right conduct ; but he hardly 
expected to be believed. He was a little enigmatic at the 
last, Lena. He startled me." 

Heyst paused. The girl seemed absorbed in her own 
thoughts. 

" He startled me," repeated Heyst. She noted the 
anxiety in his tone, and turned her head sUghtly to look 
at him across the table. 

" It must have been something — to startle you** she 
said. In the depth of her parted lips, Hke a ripe pome- 
granate, there was a gleam of white teeth. 

" It was only a single word — and some of his gestures. 
He had been making a good deal of noise. I wonder 
we didn't wake you up. How soundly you can sleep 1 
I say, do you feel all right now ? " 

" As fresh as can be," she said, treating him to another 
deep gleam of a smile. " I heard no noise, and Fm glad 
of it. The way he talks in his harsh voice frightens me. 
I don't like all these foreign people " 

" It was just before he went away — bolted out, I should 
say. He nodded and pointed at the curtain of our room. 
He knew you were there, of course. He seemed to think 
— he seemed to try to give me to understand that 
you were in special — well, danger. You know how he 
talks." 

She said nothing ; she made no sound, only the faint 
tinge of colour ebbed out of her cheek. 

" Yes," Heyst went on. " He seemed to try to warn 
me. That must have been it. Did he imagine I had 
forgotten your existence ? The only word he said was 
* two.' It sounded so, at least. Yes, ' two ' — and that 
he didn't Hke it." 

" What does that mean ? " she whispered. 



3i8 VICTORY 

" We know what the word two means, don't we, Lena ? 
We are two. Never were such a lonely two out of the 
world, my dear ! He might have tried to remind me that 
he himself has a woman to look after. Why are you so 
pale, Lena ? " 
*' Am I pale ? " she asked negligently. 
" You are." Heyst was really anxious. 
*' Well, it isn't from fright," she protested truthfully. 
Indeed, what she felt was a sort of horror which left 
her absolutely in the full possession of all her faculties ; 
more difficult to bear, perhaps, for that reason, but not 
paralysing to her fortitude. 
Heyst in his turn smiled at her. 

" I really don't know that there is any reason to be 
frightened." 

** I mean I am not frightened for myself." 
" I believe you are very plucky," he said. The colour 
had returned to her face. "I," continued Heyst, " am so 
rebellious to outward impressions that I can't say that 
much about myself. I don't react with sufficient dis- 
tinctness." He changed his tone. " You know I went 
to see those men first thing this morning." 
*' I know. Be careful ! " she murmured. 
" I wonder how one can be careful ! I had a long 
talk with — but I don't beheve you have seen them. One 
of them is a fantastically thin, long person, apparently 
aihng ; I shouldn't wonder if he were really so. He 
makes rather a point of it in a mysterious manner. I 
imagine he must have suffered from tropical fevers, but 
not so much as he tries to make out. He's what people 
would call a gentleman. He seemed on the point of 
volunteering a tale of his adventures — for which I didn't 
ask him — but remarked that it was a long story ; some 
other time, perhaps. 



VICTORY 319 



n t 



I suppose you would like to know who I am ? ' he 
asked me. 

" I told him I would leave it to him, in a tone which, 
between gentlemen, could have left no doubt in his mind. 
He raised himself on his elbow — he was l5nng down on the 
camp-bed — and said : 

" ' I am he who is— ' " 

Lena seemed not to be listening ; but when Heyst 
paused, she turned her head quickly to him. He took it 
for a movement of inquiry, but in this he was wrong. 
A great vagueness enveloped her impressions, but all her 
energy was concentrated on the struggle that she wanted 
to take upon herself, in a great exaltation of love and self- 
sacrifice, which is woman's subhme faculty ; altogether on 
herself, every bit of it, leaving him nothing, not even the 
knowledge of what she did, if that were possible. She 
would have hked to lock him up by some stratagem. Had 
she known of some means to put him to sleep for days 
she would have used incantations or philtres without 
misgivings. He seemed to her too good for such con- 
tacts, and not sufficiently equipped. This last feeling had 
nothing to do with the material fact of the revolver being 
stolen. She could hardly appreciate that fact at its full 
value. 

Observing her eyes fixed and as if sightless — for the 
concentration on her purpose took all expression out of 
them— Heyst imagined it to be the effect of a great mental 
effort. 

" No use asking me what he meant, Lena ; I don't 
know, and I did not ask him. The gentleman, as I have 
told you before, seems devoted to mystification. I said 
nothing, and he laid down his head again on the bundle 
of rugs he uses for a pillow. He affects a state of great 
weakness, but I suspect that he's perfectly capable of 



320 VICTORY 

leaping to his feet if he likes. Having been ejected, he 
said, from his proper social sphere because he had refused 
to conform to certain usual conventions, he was a rebel 
now, and was coming and going up and down the earth. 
As I really did not want to listen to all this nonsense, I told 
him that I had heard that sort of story about somebody 
else before. His grin is really ghastly. He confessed that 
I was very far from the sort of man he expected to meet. 
Then he said : 

" * As to me, I am no blacker than the gentleman you 
are thinking of, and I have neither more nor less deter- 
mination.' " 

Heyst looked across the table at Lena. Propped on 
her elbows, and holding her head in both hands, she moved 
it a Uttle with an air of understanding. 

" Nothing could be plainer, eh ? " said Heyst grimly. 
" Unless, indeed, this is his idea of a pleasant joke ; for, 
when he finished speaking, he burst into a long, loud 
laugh. I didn't join him ! " 

" I wish you had," she breathed out. 

" I didn't join him. It did not occur to me. I am 
not much of a diplomatist. It would probably have 
been wise ; for, indeed, I believe he had said more than 
he meant to say, and was trying to take it back by this 
affected jocularity. Yet, when one thinks of it, diplo- 
macy without force in the background is but a rotten reed 
to lean upon. And I don't know whether I could have done 
it if I had thought of it. I don't know. It would have 
been against the grain. Could I have done it ? I have 
lived too long within myself, watching the mere shadows 
and shades of life. To deceive a man on some issue which 
could be decided quicker by his destruction while one is 
disarmed, helpless, without even the power to run away — 
no ! That seems to me too degrading. And yet I have 



VICTORY 321 

you here ! I have your very existence in my keeping. 
What do you say, Lena ? Would I be capable of throwing 
you to the lions to save my dignity ? " 

She got up, walked quickly round the table, posed 
herself on his knees lightly, throwing one arm round his 
neck, and whispered in his ear : 

" You may, if you like. And may be that's the only 
way I would consent to leave you. For something like that. 
If it were something no bigger than your little finger." 

She gave him a light kiss on the lips and was gone before 
he could detain her. She regained her seat and propped 
her elbows again on the table. It was hard to believe that 
she had moved from the spot at all. The fleeting weight 
of her body on his knees, the hug round his neck, the whisper 
in his ear, the kiss on his lips, might have been the un- 
substantial sensations of a dream invading the reahty of 
waking Hfe ; a sort of charming mirage in the barren 
aridity of his thoughts. He hesitated to speak till she 
said, business-like : 

" WeU. And what then ? " 

Heyst gave a start. 

" Oh, yes. I didn't join him. I let him have his 

laugh out by himself. He was shaking all over, Hke a 

merry skeleton, under a cotton sheet he was covered with 

— I beheve in order to conceal the revolver that he had 

in his right hand. I didn't see it, but I have a distinct 

impression it was there in his fist. As he had not been 

looking at me for some time, but staring into a certain part 

of the room, I turned my head and saw a hairy, wild sort 

of creature which they take about with them, squatting 

on its heels in the angle of the walls behind me. He 

wasn't there when I came in. I didn't like the notion of 

that watchful monster behind my back. If I had been 

less at their mercy, I should certainly have changed my 
21 



322 VICTORY 

position. As things are now, to move would have been a 
mere weakness. So I remained where I was. The gentle- 
man on the bed said he could assure me of one thing ; 
and that was that his presence here was no more morally 
reprehensible than mine. 

" ' We pursue the same ends,' he said, ' only perhaps 
I pursue them with more openness than you — ^with more 
simplicity.' 

" That's what he said," Heyst went on, after looking 
at Lena in a sort of inquiring silence. " I asked him if 
he knew beforehand that I was living here ; but he only 
gave me a ghastly grin. I didn't press him for an answer, 
Lena. I thought I had better not." 

On her smooth forehead a ray of light always seemed 
to rest. Her loose hair, parted in the middle, covered the 
hands sustaining her head. She seemed spell-bound by the 
interest of the narrative. Heyst did not pause long. He 
managed to continue his relation smoothly enough, be- 
ginning afresh with a piece of comment. 

" He would have lied impudently — and I detest being 
told a lie. It makes me uncomfortable. It's pretty clear 
that I am not fitted for the affairs of the wide world. But 
I did not want him to think that I accepted his presence 
too meekly ; so I said that his comings or goings on the 
earth were none of my business, of course, except that I 
had a natural curiosity to know when he would find it 
convenient to resume them. 

" He asked me to look at the state he was in. Had 
I been all alone here, as they think I am, I should have 
laughed at him. But not being alone — I say, Lena, you 
are sure you haven't shown yourself where you could be 
seen ? " 

" Certain," she said promptly. 

He looked reheved. 



VICTORY 323 

" You understand, Lena, that when I ask you to keep 
so strictly out of sight, it is because you are not for them 
to look at — to talk about. My poor Lena 1 I can't help 
that feeHng. Do you understand it ? '* 

She moved her head slightly in a manner that was 
neither affirmative nor negative. 

" People will have to see me some day," she said. 

" I wonder how long it will be possible for you to keep 
out of sight 1 " murmured Heyst thoughtfully. He bent 
over the table. " Let me finish telling you. I asked him 
pointblank what it was he wanted with me ; he appeared 
extremely unwilling to come to the point. It was not 
really so pressing as all that, he said. His secretary, 
who was in fact his partner, was not present, having gone 
down to the wharf to look at their boat. Finally the 
fellow proposed that he should put off a certain communica- 
tion he had to make till the day after to-morrow. I 
agreed ; but I also told him that I was not at aU anxious 
to hear it. I had no conception in what way his affairs 
could concern me. 

" ' Ah, Mr. Heyst,' he said, * you and I have much 
more in common than you think.* " 

Heyst struck the table with his fist unexpectedly. 

" It was a jeer ; I am sure it was ! " 

He seemed ashamed of this outburst and smiled faintly 
into the motionless eyes of the girl, 

" What could I have done — even if I had had my 
pockets full of revolvers ? " 

She made an appreciative sign. 

" KilUng's a sin, sure enough," she murmured. 

" I went away," Heyst continued. " I left him there, 
lying on his side with his eyes shut. When I got back here, 
I found you looking ill. What was it, Lena ? You did 
give me a scare ! Then I had the interview with Wang 



324 VICTORY 

while you rested. You were sleeping quietly. I sat here 
to consider all these things calmly, to try to penetrate 
their inner meaning and their outward bearing. It struck 
me that the two days we have before us have the character 
of a sort of truce. The more I thought of it, the more I 
felt that this was tacitly understood between Jones and 
myself. It was to our advantage, if anything can be of 
advantage to people caught so completely unawares as 
we are. Wang was gone. He, at any rate, had declared 
himself, but as I did not know what he might take it into 
his head to do, I thought I had better warn these people 
that I was no longer responsible for the Chinaman. I did 
not want Mr. Wang making some move which would 
precipitate the action against us. Do you see my point of 
view ? 

She made a sign that she did. All her soul was wrapped 
in her passionate determination, in an exalted belief in 
herself — in the contemplation of her amazing oppor- 
tunity to win the certitude, the eternity, of that man's 
love. 

*' I never saw two men,'* Heyst was saying, " more 
affected by a piece of information than Jones and his 
secretary, who was back in the bungalow by then. They 
had not heard me come up. I told them I was sorry to 
intrude. 

" ' Not at all ! Not at all,' said Jones. 

" The secretary backed away into a corner and watched 
me like a wary cat. In fact, they both were visibly on 
their guard. 

*' * I am come,' I told them, ' to let you know that my 
servant has deserted — gone off.' 

" At first they looked at each other as if they had not 
understood what I was saying ; but very soon they seemed 
quite concerned. 



(( ( 



VICTORY 325 

" * You mean to say your Chink's cleared out ? ' said 
Ricardo, coming forward from his corner. * Like this — all 
at once ? What did he do it for ? ' 

" I said that a Chinaman had always a simple and pre- 
cise reason for what he did, but that to get such a reason 
out of him was not so easy. All he had told me, I said, 
was that he ' didn't like.' 

" They looked extremely disturbed at this. Didn't like 
what, they wanted to know. 

The looks of you and your party,' I told Jones. 
Nonsense ! ' he cried out ; and immediately Ricardo, 
the short man, struck in. 

" ' Told you that ? What did he take you for, sir — an 
infant ? Or do you take us for kids ? — meaning no 
offence. Come, I bet you will tell us next that you've 
missed something.' 

" ' I didn't mean to tell you anything of the sort,' I said, 
* but as a matter of fact it is so.' 

" He slapped his thigh. 

" * Thought so. What do you think of this trick, 
governor ? ' 

" Jones made some sort of sign to him, and then that 
extraordinary cat-faced associate proposed that he and 
their servant should come out and help me to catch or kill 
the Chink. 

" My object, I said, was not to get assistance. I did not 
intend to chase the Chinaman. I had come only to warn 
them that he was armed, and that he really objected to 
their presence on the island. I wanted them to under- 
stand that I was not responsible for anything that might 
happen. 

" ' Do you mean to tell us,' asked Ricardo, ' that there is 
a crazy Chink with a six-shooter broke loose on this island, 
and that you don't care ?' 



326 VICTORY 

"Strangely enough, they did not seem to believe my 
story. They were exchanging significant looks all the 
time. Ricardo stole up close to his principal ; they had a 
confabulation together, and then something happened 
which I did not expect. It's rather awkward, too. 

" Since I would not have their assistance to get hold of 
the Chink and recover my property, the least they could 
do was to send me their servant. It was Jones who said 
that, and Ricardo backed up the idea. 

" * Yes, yes — let our Pedro cook for all hands in your 
compound. He isn't so bad as he looks. That's what 
we will do ! ' 

" He bustled out of the room to the veranda, and let out 
an air-splitting whistle for their Pedro. Having heard 
the brute's answering howl, Ricardo ran back into the 



room. 



Yes, Mr. Heyst. This will do capitally, Mr. Heyst. 
You just direct him to do whatever you are accus- 
tomed to have done for you in the way of attendance. 
See?' 

" Lena, I confess to you that I was taken completely 
by surprise. I had not expected anything of the sort. 
I don't know what I expected. I am so anxious about you 
that I can't keep away from these infernal scoundrels. 
And only two months ago I would not have cared. I 
would have defied their scoundrelism as much as I have 
scorned all the other intrusions of life. But now I have 
you ! You stole into my life, and — " 

Heyst drew a deep breath. The girl gave him a quick, 
wide-eyed glance. 

" Ah ! That's what you are thinking of — that you 
have me ! " 

It was impossible to read the thoughts veiled by her 
steady grey eyes, to penetrate the meaning of her silences, 



VICTORY 327 

her words, and even her embraces. He used to come out 
of her very arms with the feeling of a baffled man. 

" If I haven't you, if you are not here, then where are 
you ? " cried Heyst. " You understand me very well ! " 

She shook her head a little. Her red lips, at which he 
looked now, her lips as fascinating as the voice that came 
out of them, uttered the words : 

" I hear what you say ; but what does it mean ? " 

" It means that I could lie and perhaps cringe for your 
sake." 

" No ! No ! Don't you ever do that," she said in 
haste, while her eyes glistened suddenly. " You would 
hate me for it afterwards ! " 

" Hate you ? " repeated Heyst, who had recalled his 
polite manner. " No ! You needn't consider the ex- 
tremity of the improbable — as yet. But I will confess to 
you that I — how shall I call it ? — that I dissembled. First 
I dissembled my dismay at the unforeseen result of my 
idiotic diplomacy. Do you understand, my dear girl ? " 

It was evident that she did not understand the word. 
Heyst produced his playful smile, which contrasted oddly 
with the worried character of his whole expression. His 
temples seemed to have sunk in, his face looked a little 
leaner. 

" A diplomatic statement, Lena, is a statement of which 
everything is true but the sentiment which seems to 
prompt it. I have never been diplomatic in my relation 
with mankind — not from regard for its feelings, but from 
a certain regard for my own. Diplomacy doesn't go well 
with consistent contempt. I cared little for life and still 
less for death." 

" Don't talk like that ! " 

" I dissembled my extreme longing to take these wan- 
dering scoundrels by their throats," he went on. " I have 



328 VICTORY 

only two hands — I wish I had a hundred to defend you 
— and there were three throats. By that time their Pedro 
was in the room too. Had he seen me engaged with their 
two throats, he would have been at mine like a fierce dog, 
or any other savage and faithful brute. I had no difficulty 
in dissembling my longing for the vulgar, stupid, and 
hopeless argument of fight. I remarked that I really did 
not want a servant. I couldn't think of depriving them 
of their man's services ; but they would not hear me. 
They had made up their minds. 

" * We shall send him over at once,' Ricardo said, ' to 
start cooking dinner for everybody. I hope you won't 
mind me coming to eat it with you in your bungalow ; and 
we will send the governor's dinner over to him here.' 

" I could do nothing but hold my tongue or bring on a 
quarrel — some manifestation of their dark purpose, which 
we have no means to resist. Of course, you may remain 
invisible this evening ; but with that atrocious brute 
prowling all the time at the back of the house, how long 
can your presence be concealed from these men ? " 

Heyst's distress could be felt in his silence. The girl's 
head, sustained by her hands buried in the thick masses 
of her hair, had a perfect immobility. 

" You are certain you have not been seen so far ? " he 
asked suddenly. 

The motionless head spoke. 

" How can I be certain ? You told me you wanted me 
to keep out of the way. I kept out of the way. I didn't 
ask your reason. I thought you didn't want people to 
know that you had a girl like me about you." 

" What ? Ashamed ? " cried Heyst. 

" It isn't what's right, perhaps — I mean for you — 
is it ? " 

Heyst lifted his hands, reproachfully courteous. 



VICTORY 329 

" I look upon it as so very much right that I couldn't 
bear the idea of any other than sympathetic, respectful 
eyes resting on you. I disliked and mistrusted these 
fellows from the first. Didn't you understand ? " 

" Yes ; I did keep out of sight," she said. 

A silence fell. At last Heyst stirred slightly. 

" All this is of very little importance now," he said 
with a sigh. " This is a question of something infinitely 
worse than mere looks and thoughts, however base and 
contemptible. As I have told you, I met Ricardo's sug- 
gestions by silence. As I was turning away he said : 

" * If you happen to have the key of that storeroom 
of yours on you, Mr. Heyst, you may just as well let me 
have it ; I will give it to our Pedro.' 

" I had it onme, and I tendered it to him without speaking. 
The hairy creature was at the door by then, and caught 
the key, which Ricardo threw to him, better than any 
trained ape could have done. I came away. All the 
time I had been thinking anxiously of you, whom I had 
left asleep, alone here, and apparently ill." 

Heyst interrupted himself, with a listening turn of his 
head. He had heard the faint sound of sticks being 
snapped in the compound. He rose and crossed the room 
to look out of the back door. 

" And here the creature is," he said, returning to the 
table. " Here he is, already attending to the fire. Oh 
my dear Lena ! " 

She had followed him with her eyes. She watched him 
go out on the front veranda cautiously. He lowered 
stealthily a couple of screens that hung between the 
columns, and remained outside very still, as if interested 
by something on the open ground. Meantime she had 
risen in her turn, to take a peep into the compound. 
Heyst, glancing over his shoulder, saw her returning to 



330 VICTORY 

her seat. He beckoned to her, and she continued to 
move, crossing the shady room, pure and bright in her 
white dress, her hair loose, with something of a sleep- 
walker in her unhurried motion, in her extended hand, in 
the sightless effect of her grey eyes luminous in the half 
light. He had never seen such an expression in her face 
before. It had dreaminess in it, intense attention, and 
something like sternness. Arrested in the doorway by 
Heyst's extended arm, she seemed to wake up, flushed 
faintly — and this flush, passing off, carried away with 
it the strange transfiguring mood. With a courageous 
gesture she pushed back the heavy masses of her hair. 
The light clung to her forehead. Her dehcate nostrils 
quivered. Heyst seized her arm and whispered excitedly : 

" Slip out here, quickly ! The screens will conceal you. 
Only you must mind the stair-space. They are actually 
out — I mean the other two. You had better see them 
before you — " 

She made a barely perceptible movement of recoil, 
checked at once, and stood still. Heyst released her 
arm. 

" Yes, perhaps I had better," she said with unnatural 
deliberation, and stepped out on the veranda to stand 
close by his side. 

Together, one on each side of the screen, they peeped 
between the edge of the canvas and the veranda-post 
entwined with creepers. A great heat ascended from the 
sun-smitten ground, in an ever-rising wave, as if from 
some secret store of earth's fiery heart ; for the sky was 
growing cooler already, and the sun had declined sufficiently 
for the shadows of Mr. Jones and his henchman to be 
projected toward the bungalow side by side — one infinitely 
slender, the other short and broad. 

The two visitors stood still and gazed. To keep up the 



VICTORY 331 

fiction of his invalidism, Mr. Jones, the gentleman, leaned 
on the arm of Ricardo, the secretary, the top of whose 
hat just came up to his governor's shoulder. 

"Do yoQ see them ? " Heyst whispered into the girl's 
ear. " Here they are, the envoys of the outer world. 
Here they are before you — evil intelligence, instinctive 
savagery, arm in arm. The brute force is at the back. 
A trio of fitting envoys perhaps — but what about the 
welcome ? Suppose I were armed, could I shoot those 
two down where they stand ? Could I ? " 

Without moving her head, the girl felt for Heyst's hand, 
pressed it, and thereafter did not let it go. He continued, 
bitterly playful : 

" I don't know. I don't think so. There is a strain 
in me which lays me under an insensate obligation to 
avoid even the appearance of murder. I have never 
pulled a trigger or lifted my hand on a man, even in self- 
defence." 

The suddenly tightened grip of her hand checked him. 

" They are making a move," she murmured. 

" Can they be thinking of coming here ? " Heyst 
wondered anxiously. 

" No, they aren't coming this way," she said ; and 
there was another pause. " They are going back to their 
house," she reported finally. 

After watching them a little longer, she let go Heyst's 
hand and moved away from the screen. He followed her 
into the room. 

" You have seen them now," he began. " Think what 
it was to me to see them land in the dusk, fantasms 
from the sea — apparitions, chimseras ! And they persist. 
That's the worst of it — they persist. They have no right 
to be — but they are. They ought to have aroused my 
fury. But I have refined everything away by this time 



332 VICTORY 

— anger, indignation, scorn itself. Nothing's left but 
disgust. Since you have told me of that abominable 
calumny, it has become immense — it extends even to 
myself." He looked up at her. 

" But luckily I have you. And if only Wang had not 
carried off that miserable revolver — yes, Lena, here we 
are, we two ! " 

She put both her hands on his shoulders and looked 
straight into his eyes. He returned her penetrating gaze. 
It baffled him. He could not pierce the grey veil of her 
eyes ; but the sadness of her voice thrilled him profoundly. 

" You are not reproaching me ? " she asked slowly. 

" Reproach ? What a word between us ! It could only 
be myself — but the mention of Wang has given me an 
idea. I have been, not exactly cringing, not exactly 
lying, but still dissembling. You have been hiding yourself, 
to please me, but still you have been hiding. All this is 
very dignified. Why shouldn't we try begging now ? 
A noble art ! Yes, Lena, we must go out together. I 
couldn't think of leaving you alone, and I must — yes, I 
must speak to Wang. We shall go and seek that man, 
who knows what he wants and how to secure what he 
wants. We will go at once ! " 

" Wait till I put my hair up," she agreed instantly, and 
vanished behind the curtain. 

When the curtain had fallen behind her, she turned her 
head back with an expression of infinite and tender concern 
for him — for him whom she could never hope to under- 
stand, and whom she was afraid she could never satisfy ; 
as if her passion were of a hopelessly lower quality, unable 
to appease some exalted and delicate desire of his superior 
soul. In a couple of minutes she reappeared. They left 
the house by the door of the compound, and passed within 
three feet of the thunderstruck Pedro, without even 



VICTORY 



333 



looking in his direction. He rose from stooping over a 
fire of sticks, and, balancing himself clumsily, uncovered 
his enormous fangs in gaping astonishment. Then sud- 
denly he set off rolling on his bandy legs to impart to his 
masters the astonishing discovery of a woman. 



VI 



As luck would have it, Ricardo was lounging alone 
on the veranda of the former counting-house. He 
scented some new development at once, and ran down 
to meet the trotting, bear-hke figure. The deep, growHng 
noises it made, though they had only a very remote 
resemblance to the Spanish language, or indeed to any 
sort of human speech, were from long practice quite 
inteUigible to Mr. Jones's secretary. Ricardo was rather 
surprised. He had imagined that the girl would continue 
to keep out of sight. That hne apparently was given up. 
He did not mistrust her. How could he ? Indeed, he 
could not think of her existence calmly. 

He tried to keep her image out of his mind so that 
he should be able to use its powers with some approach 
to that coolness which the complex nature of the 
situation demanded from him, both for his own sake 
and as the faithful follower of plain Mr. Jones, 
gentleman. 

He collected his wits and thought. This was a change 
of pohcy, probably on the part of Heyst. If so, what 
could it mean ? A deep fellow ! Unless it was her doing ; 
in which case — h'm — all right ! Must be. She would 
know what she was doing. Before him Pedro, lifting 
his feet alternately, swayed to and fro sideways — his 
usual attitude of expectation. His Httle red eyes, lost 
in the mass of hair, were motionless. Ricardo stared 

334 



VICTORY 335 

into them with calculated contempt and said in a rough, 
angry voice : 

" Woman ! Of course there is. We know that without 
you ! " He gave the tame monster a push. " Git ! 
Vamos I Waddle ! Get back and cook the dinner 1 
Which way did they go, then ? " 

Pedro extended a huge, hairy forearm to show the 
direction, and went off on his bandy legs. Advancing 
a few steps, Ricardo was just in time to see, above some 
bushes, two white helmets moving side by side in the 
clearing. They disappeared. Now that he had managed 
to keep Pedro from informing the governor that there 
was a woman on the island, he could indulge in speculation 
as to the movements of these people. His attitude 
towards Mr. Jones had undergone a spiritual change, of 
which he himself was not yet fully aware. 

That morning, before tiffin, after his escape from the 
Heyst bungalow, completed in such an inspiring way by 
the recovery of the sHpper, Ricardo had made his way 
to their allotted house, reeling as he ran, his head in a 
whirl. He was wildly excited by visions of inconceivable 
promise. He waited to compose himself before he dared 
to meet the governor. On entering the room, he found 
Mr. Jones sitting on the camp bedstead like a tailor on 
his board, cross-legged, his long back against the wall. 

" I say, sir ! You aren't going to tell me you are 
bored ? " 

" Bored ? No ! Where the devil have you been all 
this time ? " 

"Observing — watching — nosing around. What else? I 
knew you had company. Have you talked freely, sir ? " 

" Yes, I have," muttered Mr. Jones. 

" Not downright plain, sir ? " 
No. I wished you had been here. You loaf all 



(( 



336 VICTORY 

the morning, and now you come in out of breath. What's 
the matter ? " 

" I haven't been wasting my time out there," said 
Ricardo. *' Nothing's the matter. I — I — might have 
hurried a bit." He was in truth still panting ; only it 
was not with running, but with the tumult of thoughts 
and sensations long repressed, which had been set free 
by the adventure of the morning. He was almost dis- 
tracted by them now. He forgot himself in the maze 
of possibiHties threatening and inspiring. " And so you 
had a long talk ? " he said, to gain time. 

'* Confound you ! The sun hasn't affected your head, 
has it ? Why are you staring at me like a basilisk ? " 

** Beg pardon, sir. Wasn't aware I stared," Ricardo 
apologised good-humouredly. " The sun might well affect 
a thicker skull than mine. It blazes. Phew I What do 
you think a fellow is, sir — a salamander ? " 

" You ought to have been here," observed Mr. Jones. 

" Did the beast give any signs of wanting to prance ? " 
asked Ricardo quickly, with absolutely genuine anxiety. 
*' It wouldn't do, sir. You must play him easy for at 
least a couple of days, sir. I have a plan. I have a 
notion that I can find out a lot in a couple of days." 

'* You have ? In what way ? " 

" Why, by watching," Ricardo answered slowly. 

Mr. Jones grunted. 

" Nothing new, that. Watch, eh ? Why not pray a 
Httle, too ? " 

" Ha, ha, ha ! That's a good one," burst out the 
secretary, fixing Mr. Jones with mirthless eyes. 

The latter dropped the subject indolently. 

" Oh, you may be certain of at least two days," he said. 

Ricardo recovered himself. His eyes gleamed volup- 
tuously. 



VICTORY 337 

" We'll pull this off yet — clean — whole — right through, 
if you will only trust me, sir." 

" I am trusting you right enough," said Mr. Jones. 
" It's your interest, too." 

And, indeed, Ricardo was truthful enough in his state- 
ment. He did absolutely believe in success now. But 
he couldn't tell his governor that he had intelHgences in 
the enemy's camp. It wouldn't do to tell him of the girl. 
Devil only knew what he would do if he learned there was 
a woman about. And how could he begin to tell of it ? 
He couldn't confess his sudden escapade. 

" We'll pull it off, sir," he said, with perfectly acted 
cheerfulness. He experienced gusts of awful joy ex- 
panding in his heart and hot like a fanned flame. 

" We must," pronounced Mr. Jones, " This thing, 
Martin, is not hke our other tries. I have a peculiar 
feehng about this. It's a different thing. It's a sort of 
test." 

Ricardo was impressed by the governor's manner ; 
for the first time a hint of passion could be detected in 
him. But also a word he used, the word " test," had 
struck him as particularly significant somehow. It was 
the last word uttered during that morning's conversation. 
Immediately afterwards Ricardo went out of the room. 
It was impossible for him to keep still. An elation in 
which an extraordinary softness mingled with savage 
triumph would not allow it. It prevented his thinking, 
also. He walked up and down the veranda far into the 
afternoon, eyeing the other bungalow at every turn. It 
gave no sign of being inhabited. Once or twice he stopped 
dead short and looked down at his left slipper. Each time 
he chuckled audibly. His restlessness kept on increasing 
till at last it frightened him. He caught hold of the 
balustrade of the veranda and stood still, smihng not at 

22 



338 VICTORY 

his thoughts but at the strong sense of life within him. 
He abandoned himself to it carelessly, even recklessly. 
He cared for no one, friend or enemy. At that moment 
Mr. Jones called him by name from within. A shadow fell 
on the secretary's face. 

" Here, sir," he answered; but it was a moment before 
he could make up his mind to go in. 

He found his governor on his feet. Mr. Jones was 
tired of lying down when there was no necessity for it. 
His slender form, gliding about the room, came to a 
standstill. 

" I've been thinking, Martin, of something you sug- 
gested. At the time it did not strike me as practical ; 
but on reflection it seems to me that to propose a game 
is as good a way as any to let him understand that the 
time has come to disgorge. It's less — how should I say ? 
— vulgar. He will know what it means. It's not a bad 
form to give to the business — which in itself is crude, 
Martin, crude." 

" Want to spare his feelings ? " jeered the secretary 
in such a bitter tone that Mr. Jones was really surprised. 

" Why, it was your own notion, confound you ! " 

" Who says it wasn't ? " retorted Ricardo sulkily. 
" But I am fairly sick of this crawling. No I No I Get 
the exact bearings of his swag and then a rip up. That's 
plenty good enough for him." 

His passions being thoroughly aroused, a thirst for 
blood was allied in him with a thirst for tenderness — yes, 
tenderness. A sort of anxious, melting sensation pervaded 
and softened his heart when he thought of that girl — 
one of his own sort. And at the same time jealousy started 
gnawing at his breast as the image of Heyst intruded itself 
on his fierce anticipation of bliss. 

" The crudeness of your ferocity is positively gross. 



VICTORY 339 

Martin," Mr. Jones said disdainfully. " You don't 
even understand my purpose. I mean to have some 
sport out of him. Just try to imagine the atmosphere of 
the game — the fellow handling the cards — the agonising 
mockery of it ! Oh, I shall appreciate this greatly. Yes, 
let him lose his money instead of being forced to hand it 
over. You, of course, would shoot him at once, but I shall 
enjoy the refinement and the jest of it. He's a man of the 
best society. I've been hounded out of my sphere by 
people very much hke that fellow. How enraged and 
humiUated he will be 1 I promise myself some exquisite 
moments while watching his play." 

" Ay, and suppose he suddenly starts prancing ! He 
may not appreciate the fun." 

" I mean you to be present," Mr. Jones remarked 
calmly. 

" Well, as long as I am free to plug him or rip him up 
whenever I think the time has come, you are welcome to 
your bit of sport, sir. I sha'n't spoil it." 



(( 



It 



VII 

IT was at this precise moment of their conversation 
that Heyst had intruded on Mr. Jones and his secretary 
with his warning about Wang, as he had related to Lena. 
When he left them, the two looked at each other in wonder- 
ing silence. Mr. Jones was the first to break it. 
" I say, Martin ! " 
" Yes, sir." 

" What does this mean ? " 

" It's some move. Blame me if I can understand ! " 
Too deep for you ? " Mr. Jones inquired drily. 
It's nothing but some of his infernal impudence," 
growled the secretary. " You don't believe all that about 
the Chink, do you, sir ? 'Tain't true." 

" It isn't necessary for it to be true to have a meaning 
for us. It's the why of his coming to teU us this tale 
that's important." 

" Do you think he made it up to frighten us ? " asked 
Ricardo. 
Mr. Jones scowled at him thoughtfully. 
" The man looked worried," he muttered, as if to him- 
self. " Suppose that Chinaman has reaUy stolen his 
money I The man looked very worried." 

" Nothing but his artfulness, sir," protested Ricardo 
earnestly, for the idea was too disconcerting to entertain. 
"Is it Ukely that he would have trusted a Chink with 

enough knowledge to make it possible ? " he argued 

340 



VICTORY 341 

warmly. " Why, it's the very thing that he would keep 
close about. There's something else there. Ay, but what?" 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " Mr. Jones let out a ghostly, squeaky 
laugh. " I've never been placed in such a ridiculous 
position before," he went on, with a sepulchral equanimity 
of tone. " It's you, Martin, who dragged me into it. 
However, it's my fault too. I ought to — but I was really 
too bored to use my brain, and yours is not to be trusted. 
You are a hothead ! " 

A blasphemous exclamation of grief escaped from 
Ricardo. Not to be trusted ! Hothead ! He was almost 
tearful. 

" Haven't I heard you, sir, saying more than twenty 
times since we got fired out from Manila that we should 
want a lot of capital to work the East Coast with ? You 
were always telling me that to prime properly aU them 
officials and Portuguese scallawags we should have to lose 
heavily at first. Weren't you always worrying about some 
means of getting hold of a good lot of cash ? It wasn't 
to be got hold of by allowing yourself to become bored 
in that rotten Dutch town and playing a twopenny game 
with confounded beggarly bank-clerks and such like. 
Well, I've brought you here, where there is cash to be 
got — and a big lot, to a moral," he added through his set 
teeth. 

Silence fell. Each of them was staring into a different 
corner of the room. Suddenly, with a slight stamp of his 
foot, Mr. Jones made for the door. Ricardo caught him 
up outside. 

" Put your arm through mine, sir," he begged him 
gently but firmly. '* No use giving the game away. 
An invalid may well come out for a breath of fresh air 
after the sun's gone down a bit. That's it, sir. But 
where do you want to go ? Why did you come out, sir ? " 



342 VICTORY 

Mr. Jones stopped short. 

" I hardly know myself," he confessed in a hollow 
mutter, staring intently at the Number One bungalow. 
" It's quite irrational," he declared in a still lower tone. 

" Better go in, sir," suggested Ricardo. " What's 
that ? Those screens weren't down before. He's sp3dng 
from behind them now, I bet — the dodging, artful, plotting 
beast ! " 

" Why not go over there and see if we can't get to 
the bottom of this game ? " was the unexpected 
proposal uttered by Mr. Jones. " He will have to talk to 



us." 



Ricardo repressed a start of dismay, but for a moment 
could not speak. He only pressed the governor's hand 
to his side instinctively. 

"No, sir. What could you say ? Do you expect to 
get to the bottom of his lies ? How could you make him 
talk ? It isn't time yet to come to grips with that gent. 
You don't think I would hang back, do you ? His Chink, 
of course, I'll shoot Hke a dog the moment I catch sight 
of him ; but as to that Mr. Blasted Heyst, the time isn't yet. 
My head's cooler just now than yours. Let's go in again. 
Why, we are exposed here. Suppose he took it into his 
head to let off a gun on us ! He's an unaccountable, 
'yporcritical skunk." 

Allowing himself to be persuaded, Mr. Jones returned 
to his seclusion. The secretary, however, remained on 
the veranda — for the purpose, he said, of seeing whether 
that Chink wasn't sneaking around ; in which case he 
proposed to take a long shot at the galoot and chance 
the consequences. His real reason was that he wanted to 
be alone, away from the governor's deep-sunk eyes. He 
felt a sentimental desire to indulge his fancies in solitude. 
A great change had come over Mr. Ricardo since that 



VICTORY 343 

morning. A whole side of him which from prudence, 
from necessity, from loyalty, had been kept dormant, was 
aroused now, colouring his thoughts and disturbing his 
mental poise by the vision of such staggering consequences 
as, for instance, the possibility of an active conflict with 
his governor. The appearance of the monstrous Pedro 
with his news drew Ricardo out of a feeling of dreaminess 
wrapped up in a sense of impending trouble. A woman ? 
Yes, there was one ; and it made all the difference. After 
driving away Pedro, and watching the white helmets 
of Heyst and Lena vanish among the bushes he stood 
lost in meditation. 

" Where could they be off to like this ? " he mentally 
asked himself. 

The answer found by his speculative faculties on their 
utmost stretch was — to meet that Chink. For in the 
desertion of Wang Ricardo did not believe. It v/as a 
lying yarn, the organic part of a dangerous plot. Heyst 
had gone to combine some fresh move. But then Ricardo 
felt sure that the girl was with him — the girl, full of pluck, 
full of sense, full of understanding ; an ally of his own 
kind! 

He went indoors briskly. Mr. Jones had resumed 
his cross-legged pose at the head of the bed, with his 
back against the wall. 

" Anything new ? " 

" No, sir." 

Ricardo walked about the room as if he had no care 
in the world. He hummed snatches of song. Mr. Jones 
raised his waspish eyebrows at the sound. The secretary 
got down on his knees before an old leather trunk, and, 
rummaging in there, brought out a small looking-glass. 
He fell to examining his physiognomy in it with silent 
absorption. 



344 VICTORY 

" I think I'll shave," he decided, getting up. 

He gave a sidelong glance to the governor, and repeated 
it several times during the operation, which did not take 
long, and even afterward, when, after putting away the im- 
plements, he resumed his walking, humming more snatches 
of unknown songs. Mr. Jones preserved a complete 
immobility, his thin lips compressed, his eyes veiled. His 
face was like a carving. 

" So you would like to try your hand at cards with 
that skunk, sir ? " said Ricardo, stopping suddenly and 
rubbing his hands. 

Mr. Jones gave no sign of having heard anything. 

" Well, why not ? Why shouldn't he have the experi- 
ence ? You remember in that Mexican town — ^what's 
its name ? — the robber fellow they caught in the moun- 
tains and condemned to be shot ? He played cards 
half the night with the jailer and the sheriff. Well, this 
fellow is condemned, too. He must give you your game. 
Hang it all, a gentleman ought to have some little relaxa- 
tion ! And you have been uncommonly patient, sir." 

" You are uncommonly volatile all of a sudden," Mr. 
Jones remarked in a bored voice. " What's come to 
you ? " 

The secretary hummed for a while, and then said : 

" I'll try to get him over here for you to-night, after 
dinner. If I ain't here myself, don't you worry, sir. I 
shall be doing a bit of nosing round — see ? " 

" I see," sneered Mr. Jones languidly. " But what 
do you expect to see in the dark ? " 

Ricardo made no answer, and after another turn or 
two slipped out of the room. He no longer felt com- 
fortable alone with the governor. 



VIII 



MEANTIME Heyst and Lena, walking rather fast, 
approached Wang's hut. Asking the girl to wait, 
Heyst ascended the little ladder of bamboos giving access 
to the door. It was as he had expected. The smoky 
interior was empty, except for a big chest of sandalwood 
too heavy for hurried removal. Its lid was thrown up, 
but whatever it might have contained was no longer 
there. All Wang's possessions were gone. Without 
tarrying in the hut, Heyst came back to the girl, who 
asked no questions, with her strange air of knowing or 
understanding everything. 

" Let us push on," he said. 

He went ahead, the rustle of her white skirt following 
him into the shades of the forest, along the path of their 
usual walk. Though the air lay heavy between straight 
denuded trunks, the sunlit patches moved on the ground, 
and raising her eyes Lena saw far above her head the flutter 
of the leaves, the surface shudder on the mighty limbs 
extended horizontally in the perfect immobility of patience. 
Twice Heyst looked over his shoulder at her. Behind the 
readiness of her answering smile there was a fund of 
devoted, concentrated passion, burning with the hope 
of a more perfect satisfaction. They passed the spot 
where it was their practice to turn towards the barren 
summit of the central hill. Heyst held steadily on his 
way toward the upper limit of the forest. The moment 

345 



346 VICTORY 

they left its shelter, a breeze enveloped them, and a great 
cloud, racing over the sun, threw a peculiar sombre tint 
over everything. Heyst pointed up a precipitous, rugged 
path clinging to the side of the hill. It ended in a barricade 
of felled trees, a primitively conceived obstacle which 
must have cost much labour to erect at just that spot. 

" This," Heyst explained in his urbane tone, "is a 
barrier against the march of civilisation. The poor 
folk over there did not like it, as it appeared to them in 
the shape of my company — a great step forward, as some 
people used to call it with mistaken confidence. The 
advanced foot has been drawn back, but the barricade 
remains." 

They went on climbing slowly. The cloud had driven 
over, leaving an added brightness on the face of the world. 

" It's a very ridiculous thing," Heyst went on ; " but 
then it is the product of honest fear — fear of the unknown, 
of the incomprehensible. It's pathetic, too, in a way. 
And I heartily wish, Lena, that we were on the other side 
of it." 

" Oh, stop, stop ! " she cried, seizing his arm. 

The face of the barricade they were approaching had 
been piled up with a lot of fresh-cut branches. The leaves 
were still green. A gentle breeze, sweeping over the top, 
stirred them a little ; but what had startled the girl was 
the discovery of several spear-blades protruding from 
the mass of foliage. She had made them out suddenly. 
They did not gleam, but she saw them with extreme dis- 
tinctness, very still, very vicious to look at. 

" You had better let me go forward alone, Lena," said 
Heyst. 

She tugged persistently at his arm, but after a time, 
during which he never ceased to look smihngly into her 
terrified eyes, he ended by disengaging himself. 



VICTORY 347 

"It's a sign rather than a demonstration/' he argued 
persuasively. " Just wait here a moment. I promise 
not to approach near enough to be stabbed." 

As in a nightmare she watched Heyst go up the few 
yards of the path as if he never meant to stop ; and she 
heard his voice, Hke voices heard in dreams, shouting 
unknown words in an unearthly tone. Heyst was only 
demanding to see Wang. He was not kept waiting very 
long. Recovering from the first flurry of her fright, Lena 
noticed a commotion in the green top-dressing of the 
barricade. She exhaled a sigh of relief when the spear- 
blades retreated out of sight, sHding inward — the horrible 
things ! In a spot facing Heyst a pair of yellow hands 
parted the leaves, and a face filled the small opening — a 
face with very noticeable eyes. It was Wang's face, of 
course, with no suggestion of a body belonging to it, Hke 
those cardboard faces at which she remembered gazing 
as a child in the window of a certain dim shop kept by 
a mysterious httle man in Kingsland Road. Only this 
face, instead of mere holes, had eyes which bhnked. She 
could see the beating of the eyeHds. The hands on each 
side of the face, keeping the boughs apart, also did not look 
as if they belonged to any real body. One of them was 
holding a revolver — a weapon which she recognised 
merely by intuition, never having seen such an object 
before. 

She leaned her shoulders against the rock of the per- 
pendicular hillside and kept her eyes on Heyst, with com- 
parative composure, since the spears were not menacing 
him any longer. Beyond the rigid and motionless back 
he presented to her, she saw Wang's unreal cardboard 
face moving its thin Hps and grimacing artificially. She 
was too far down the path to hear the dialogue, carried on 
in an ordinary voice. She waited patiently for its end. 



348 VICTORY 

Her shoulders felt the warmth of the rock ; now and then 
a whiff of cooler air seemed to slip down upon her head 
from above ; the ravine at her feet, choked full of vegeta- 
tion, emitted the faint, drowsy hum of insect life. Every- 
thing was very quiet. She failed to notice the exact 
moment when Wang's head vanished from the foliage, 
taking the unreal hands away with it. To her horror, the 
spear-blades came gliding slowly out. The very hair on 
her head stirred ; but before she had time to cry out, 
Heyst, who seemed rooted to the ground, turned round 
abruptly and began to move toward her. His great 
moustaches did not quite hide an ugly but irresolute 
smile ; and when he had come down near enough to touch 
her, he burst out into a harsh laugh : 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " 

She looked at him, uncomprehending. He cut short 
his laugh and said curtly : 

" We had better go down as we came." 

She followed him into the forest. The advance of the 
afternoon had filled it with gloom. Far away a slant of 
light between the trees closed the view. All was dark 
beyond. Heyst stopped. 

" No reason to hurry, Lena," he said in his ordinary » 
serenely polite tones. " We return unsuccessful. I 
suppose you know, or at least can guess, what was my 
object in coming up there ? " 

" No, I can't guess, dear," she said, and smiled, noticing 
with emotion that his breast was heaving as if he had been 
out of breath. Nevertheless, he tried to command his 
speech, pausing only a little between the words. 

" No ? I went up to find Wang. I went up " — he 
gasped again here, but this was for the last time — " I 
made you come with me because I didn't like to leave 
you unprotected in the proximity of those fellows." 



VICTORY 349 

Suddenly he snatched his cork helmet off his head and 
dashed it on the ground. " No ! " he cried roughly. 
" All this is too unreal altogether. It isn't to be borne ! 
I can't protect you ! I haven't the power." 

He glared at her for a moment, then hastened after 
his hat, which had bounded away to some distance. He 
came back looking at her face, which was very white. 

" I ought to beg your pardon for these antics," he 
said, adjusting his hat. " A movement of childish petu- 
lance ! Indeed, I feel very much like a child in my 
ignorance, in my powerlessness, in my want of resource, in 
everything except in the dreadful consciousness of some 
evil hanging over your head — yours ! " 

" It's you they are after," she murmured. 

" No doubt, but unfortunately — " 

" Unfortunately— what ? " 

" Unfortunately, I have not succeeded with Wang," 
he said. " I failed to move his Celestial heart — that 
is, if there is such a thing. He told me with horrible 
Chinese reasonableness that he could not let us pass the 
barrier, because we should be pursued. He doesn't like 
fights. He gave me to understand that he would shoot 
me with my own revolver without any sort of compunction, 
rather than risk a rude and distasteful contest with the 
strange barbarians for my sake. He has preached to the 
villagers. They respect him. He is the most remarkable 
man they have ever seen, and their kinsman by marriage. 
They understand his poHcy. And anyway only women 
and children and a few old fellows are left in the village. 
This is the season when the men are away in trading 
vessels. But it would have been all the same. None of 
them have a taste for fighting — and with white men too ! 
They are peaceable, kindly folk and would have seen me 
shot with extreme satisfaction. Wang seemed to think 



350 VICTORY 

my insistence — for I insisted, you know — very stupid and 
tactless. But a drowning man clutches at straws. We 
were talking in such Malay as we are both equal to. 

" ' Your fears are fooHsh/ I said to him. 

" ' Foohsh ? Of course I am fooHsh,' he rephed. ' If I 
were a wise man, I would be a merchant with a big hong 
in Singapore, instead of being a mine coolie turned house- 
boy. But if you don't go away in time, I will shoot you 
before it grows too dark to take aim. Not till then, 
Number One, but I will do it then. Now — finish ! ' 

" ' All right,' I said. ' Finish as far as I am concerned ; 
but you can have no objections to the mem putih coming 
over to stay with the Orang Kaya's women for a few days. 
I will make a present in silver for it.' Orang Kaya is the 
head man of the village, Lena," added Heyst. 

She looked at him in astonishment. 

" You wanted me to go to that village of savages ? " 
she gasped. " You wanted me to leave you ? " 

" It would have given me a freer hand." 

Heyst stretched out his hands and looked at them for a 
moment, then let them fall by his side. Indignation 
was expressed more in the curve of her hps than in her 
clear eyes, which never wavered. 

** I beheve Wang laughed," he went on. "He made a 
noise like a turkey-cock." 

" ' That would be worse than anything/ he told me. 

" I was taken aback. I pointed out to him that he 
was talking nonsense. It could not make any differ- 
ence to his security where you were, because the evil 
men, as he calls them, did not know of your existence. 
I did not lie exactly, Lena, though I did stretch the truth 
till it cracked ; but the fellow seems to have an uncanny 
insight. He shook his head. He assured me they knew 
all about you. He made a horrible grimace at me." 



VICTORY 351 

" It doesn't matter," said the girl. " I didn't want 
— I would not have gone." 

Heyst raised his eyes. 

" Wonderful intuition ! As I continued to press him, 
Wang made that very remark about you. When he 
smiles, his face looks Hke a conceited death's head. It was 
his very last remark — that you wouldn't want to. I went 
away then." 

She leaned back against a tree. Heyst faced her in the 
same attitude of leisure, as if they had done with time 
and all the other concerns of the earth. Suddenly, high 
above their heads, the roof of leaves whispered at them 
tumultuously and then ceased. 

" That was a strange notion of yours, to send me away," 
she said. " Send me away ? What for ? Yes, what 
for ? " 

" You seem indignant," he remarked listlessly. 

" To these savages, too ! " she pursued. " And you 
think I would have gone ? You can do what you Hke 
with me — but not that, not that ! " 

Heyst looked into the dim aisles of the forest. Every- 
thing was so still now that the very ground on which they 
stood seemed to exhale silence into the shade. 

" Why be indignant ? " he remonstrated. " It has not 
happened. I gave up pleading with Wang. Here we are, 
repulsed ! Not only without power to resist the evil, but 
unable to make terms for ourselves with the worthy 
envoys, the envoys extraordinary of the world we thought 
we had done with for years and years. And that's bad, 
Lena, very bad." 

"It's funny," she said thoughtfully. "Bad? I sup- 
pose it is. I don't know that it is. But do you ? Do you ? 
You talk as if you didn't believe in it." 

She gazed at him earnestly. 



352 VICTORY 

" Do I ? Ah ! That's it. I don't know how to talk. 
I have managed to refine everything away. I've said 
to the Earth that bore me : ' I am I and you are a 
shadow.' And, by Jove, it is so ! But it appears that 
such words cannot be uttered with impunity. Here I am 
on a Shadow inhabited by Shades. How helpless a man 
is against the Shades ! How is one to intimidate, per- 
suade, resist, assert oneself against them ? I have lost 
all belief in realities. . . . Lena, give me your hand." 

She looked at him surprised, uncomprehending. 

" Your hand," he cried. 

She obeyed ; he seized it with avidity as if eager to 
raise it to his lips, but half-way up released his grasp. 
They looked at each other for a time. 
j8i'* What's the matter, dear ? " she whispered timidly. 

*' Neither force nor conviction," Heyst muttered wearily 
to himself. " How am I to meet this charmingly simple 
problem ? " 

" I am sorry," she murmured. 

" And so am I," he confessed quickly. " And the 
bitterest of this humiliation is its complete uselessness — 
which I feel, I feel ! " 

She had never before seen him give such signs of feeling. 
Across his ghastly face the long moustaches flamed in 
the shade. He spoke suddenly : 

" I wonder if I could find enough courage to creep 
among them in the night, with a knife, and cut their 
throats one after another, as they slept ! I wonder — " 

She was frightened by his unwonted appearance more 
than by the words in his mouth, and said earnestly : 

"Don't you try to do such a thing ! Don't you think 
of it ! " 

" I don't possess anything bigger than a penknife. 
As to thinking of it, Lena, there's no saying what one 



n 



VICTORY 353 

may think of. I don't think. Something in me thinks 

— something foreign to my nature. What is the 
matter ? " 

He noticed her parted Ups, and the pecuUar stare in her 
eyes, which had wandered from his face. 

" There's somebody after us. I saw something white 
moving," she cried. 

Heyst did not turn his head ; he only glanced at her 
outstretched arm. 

" No doubt we are followed ; we are watched." 
I don't see anything now," she said. 
And it does not matter," Heyst went on in his ordinary 
voice. " Here we are in the forest. I have neither 
strength nor persuasion. Indeed, it's extremely difficult 
to be eloquent before a Chinaman's head stuck at one 
out of a lot of brushwood. But can we wander among 
these big trees indefinitely ? Is this a refuge ? No I 
What else is left to us ? I did think for a moment of 
the mine ; but even there we could not remain very long. 
And then that gallery is not safe. The props were too 
weak to begin with. Ants have been at work there 

— ants after the men. A death-trap, at best. One 
can die but once, but there are many manners of 
death." 

The girl glanced about fearfully, in search of the watcher 
or follower whom she had glimpsed once among the trees ; 
but if he existed, he had concealed himself. Nothing 
met her eyes but the deepening shadows of the short 
vistas between the living columns of the still roof of 
leaves. She looked at the man beside her expectantly, 
tenderly, with suppressed affright and a sort of awed 
wonder. 

" I have also thought of these people's boat," Heyst 
went on. "We could get into that, and — only they 
23 



354 VICTORY 

have taken everything out of her. I have seen her oars 
and mast in a corner of their room. To shove off in an 
empty boat would be nothing but a desperate expedient, 
supposing even that she would drift out a good distance 
between the islands before the morning. It would only 
be a complicated manner of committing suicide — to be 
found dead in a boat, dead from sun and thirst. A sea 
mystery. I wonder who would find us ! Davidson, 
perhaps ; but Davidson passed westward ten days ago. 
I watched him steaming pa^t one early morning, from 
the jetty." 

" You never told me," she said. 

" He must have been looking at me through his big 
binoculars. Perhaps, if I had raised my arm — ^but what 
did we want with Davidson then, you and I ? He won't 
be back this way for three weeks or more, Lena. I wish I 
had raised my arm that morning." 

" What would have been the good of it ? " she sighed 
out. 

" What good ? No good, of course. We had no 
forebodings. This seemed to be an inexpugnable refuge, 
where we could Uve untroubled and learn to know each 
other." 

" It's perhaps in trouble that people get to know each 
other," she suggested. 

" Perhaps," he said indifferently. " At any rate, we 
would not have gone away from here with him ; though 
I believe he would have come in eagerly enough, and ready 
for any service he could render. It's that fat man's nature 
— a delightful fellow. You would not come on the wharf 
that time I sent the shawl back to Mrs. Schomberg through 
him. He has never seen you." 

•' I didn't know that you wanted anybody ever to 
see me." she said. 



VICTORY 355 

He had folded his arms on his breast and hung his 
head. 

" And I did not know that you cared to be seen as 
yet. A misunderstanding evidently. An honourable mis- 
understanding. But it does not matter now." 

He raised his head after a silence. 

"How gloomy this forest has grown! Yet surely the 
sun cannot have set already." 

She looked round ; and as if her eyes had just been 
opened, she perceived the shades of the forest surrounding 
her, not so much with gloom, but with a sullen, dumb, 
menacing hostility. Her heart sank in the engulfing 
stillness ; at that moment she felt the nearness of death 
breathing on her and on the man with her. If there had 
been a sudden stir of leaves, the crack of a dry branch, the 
faintest rustle, she would have screamed aloud. But she 
shook off the unworthy weakness. Such as she was, a 
fiddle-scraping girl picked up on the very threshold of 
infamy, she would try to rise above herself, triumphant 
and humble ; and then happiness would burst on her 
like a torrent, flinging at her feet the man whom she 
loved. 

Heyst stirred slightly. 

" We had better be getting back, Lena, since we can't 
stay aU night in the woods — or anywhere else, for that 
matter. We are the slaves of this infernal surprise which 
has been sprung on us by — shall I say fate ? — your fate, 
or mine." 

It was the man who had broken the silence, but it 
was the woman who led the way. At the very edge of 
the forest she stopped, concealed by a tree. He joined 
her cautiously. 

" What is it ? What do you see, Lena ? " he whispered. 

She said that it was only a thought that had come into 



356 VICTORY 

her head. She hesitated for a moment, giving him over 
her shoulder a shining gleam of her grey eyes. She wanted 
to know whether this trouble, this danger, this evil, what- 
ever it was, finding them out in their retreat, was not a 
sort of punishment. 

" Punishment ? " repeated Heyst. He could not under- 
stand what she meant. When she explained, he was still 
more surprised. ** A sort of retribution from an angry 
Heaven ? " he said in wonder. ''On us ? What on 
earth for ? " 

He saw her pale face darken in the dusk. She had 
blushed. Her whispering flowed very fast. It was the 
way they lived together — that wasn't right, was it ? 
It was a guilty life. For she had not been forced into 
it, driven, scared into it. No, no — she had come to him 
of her own free will, with her whole soul yearning un- 
lawfully. 

He was so profoundly touched that he could not speak 
for a moment. To conceal his trouble, he assumed his 
best Heystian manner. 

" What ? Are our visitors then messengers of morality, 
avengers of righteousness, agents of Providence ? That's 
certainly an original view. How flattered they would be 
if they could hear you ! " 

" Now you are making fun of me," she said in a subdued 
voice which broke suddenly. 

" Are you conscious of sin ? " Heyst asked gravely. 
She made no answer. " For I am not," he added ; " before 
Heaven, I am not ! " 

" You ! You are different. Woman is the tempter. 
You took me up from pity. I threw myself at you." 

" Oh, you exaggerate, you exaggerate. It was not so 
bad as that," he said playfully, keeping his voice steady 
with an effort. 



VICTORY 357 

He considered himself a dead man already, yet forced 
to pretend that he was alive for her sake, for her defence. 
He regretted that he had no Heaven to which he could 
recommend this fair, palpitating handful of ashes and dust 
— warm, living, sentient, his own — and ^exposed helplessly 
to insult, outrage, degradation, and infinite misery of the 
body. 

She had averted her face from him and was still. He 
suddenly seized her passive hand. 

" You will have it so ? " he said. " Yes ? Well, let 
us then hope for mercy together." 

She shook her head without looking at him, like an 
abashed child. 

" Remember," he went on incorrigible with his delicate 
raillery, " that hope is a Christian virtue, and, surely, 
you can't want all the mercy for yourself." 

Before their eyes the bungalow across the cleared ground 
stood bathed in a sinister light. An unexpected chill 
gust of wind made a noise in the tree-tops. She snatched 
her hand away and stepped out into the open ; but before 
she had advanced more than three yards, she stood still 
and pointed to the west. 

" Oh, look there ! " she exclaimed. 

Beyond the headland of Diamond Bay, lying black 
on a purple sea, great masses of cloud stood piled up and 
bathed in a mist of blood. A crimson crack like an open 
wound zigzagged between them, with a piece of dark red 
sun showing at the bottom. Heyst cast an indifferent 
glance at the ill-omened chaos of the sky. 

" Thunderstorm making up. We shall hear it all 
night, but it won't visit us, probably. The clouds generally 
gather round the volcano." 

She was not listening to him. Her eyes reflected the 
sombre and violent hues of the sunset. 



358 VICTORY 

'* That does not look much like a sign of mercy," she 
said slowly, as if to herself, and hurried on, followed by 
Heyst. Suddenly she stopped. " I don't care. I would 
do more yet ! And some day you'll forgive me. You'll 
have to forgive me ! " 



IX 



STUMBLING up the steps, as if suddenly exhausted, 
Lena entered the room and let herself fall on the 
nearest chair. Before following her, Heyst took a survey 
of the surroundings from the veranda. It was a complete 
solitude. There was nothing in the aspect of this familiar 
scene to tell him that he and the girl were not as completely 
alone as they had been in the early days of their common 
life on this abandoned spot, with only Wang discreetly 
materialising from time to time and the uncomplaining 
memory of Morrison to keep them company. 

After the cold gust of wind there was an absolute still- 
ness of the air. The thunder-charged mass hung unbroken 
beyond the low, ink-black headland, darkening the twi- 
light. By contrast, the sky at the zenith displayed pellucid 
clearness, the sheen of a delicate glass bubble which the 
merest movement of air might shatter. A little to the left, 
between the black masses of the headland and of the forest, 
the volcano, a feather of smoke by day and a cigar-glow 
at night, took its first fiery expanding breath of the evening. 
Above it a reddish star came out like an expelled spark 
from the fiery bosom of the earth, enchanted into per- 
manency by the mysterious spell of frozen spaces. 

In front of Heyst the forest, already full of the deepest 
shades, stood like a wall. But he lingered, watching its 
edge, especially where it ended at the line of bushes, mask- 
ing the land end of the jetty. Since the girl had spoken of 

359 



36o VICTORY 

catching a glimpse of something white among the trees, 
he believed pretty firmly that they had been followed in 
their excursion up the mountain by Mr. Jones's secretary. 
No doubt the fellow had watched them out of the forest, 
and now, unless he took the trouble to go back some 
distance and fetch a considerable circuit inland over the 
clearing, he was bound to walk out into the open space 
before the bungalows. Heyst did, indeed, imagine at one 
time some movement between the trees, lost as soon as 
perceived. He stared patiently, but nothing more 
happened. After all, why should he trouble about these 
people's actions ? Why this stupid concern for the pre- 
liminaries, since, when the issue was joined, it would find 
him disarmed and shrinking from the ugliness and de- 
gradation of it ? 

He turned and entered the room. Deep dusk reigned 
in there already. Lena, near the door, did not move or 
speak. The sheen of the white tablecloth was very ob- 
trusive. The brute these two vagabonds had tamed had 
entered on its service while Heyst and Lena were away. 
The table was laid. Heyst walked up and down the room 
several times. The girl remained without sound or move- 
ment on the chair. But when Heyst, placing the two 
silver candelabra on the table, struck a match to light the 
candles, she got up suddenly and went into the bedroom. 
She came out again almost immediately, having taken off 
her hat. Heyst looked at her over his shoulder. 

" What's the good of shirking the evil hour ? I've 
lighted these candles for a sign of our return. After all, 
we might not have been watched — while returning, I 
mean. Of course we were seen leaving the house." 

The girl sat down again. The great wealth of her 
hair looked very dark above her colourless face. She 
raised her eyes, glistening softly in the light with a sort 



VICTORY 361 

of unreadable appeal, with a strange effect of unseeing 



innocence. 



Yes," said Heyst across the table, the finger-tips of 
one hand resting on the immaculate cloth. " A creature 
with an antediluvian lower jaw, hairy like a mastodon, 
and formed like a prehistoric ape, has laid this table. 
Are you awake, Lena ? Am I ? I would pinch myself, 
only I know that nothing would do away with this dream. 
Three covers. You know it is the shorter of the two who's 
coming — the gentleman who, in the play of his shoulders 
as he walks, and in his facial structure, recalls a jaguar. 
Ah, you don't know what a jaguar is ? But you have had 
a good look at these two. It's the short one, you know, 
who's to be our guest." 

She made a sign with her head that she knew. Heyst's 
insistence brought Ricardo vividly before her mental 
vision. A sudden languor, like the physical echo of her 
struggle with the man, paralysed all her limbs. She lay 
still in the chair, feeling very frightened at this pheno- 
menon — ready to pray aloud for strength. 

Heyst had started to pace the room. 

" Our guest ! There is a proverb — in Russia, I believe 
— that when a guest enters the house, God enters the 
house. The sacred virtue of hospitality ! But it leads 
one into trouble as well as any other." 

The girl unexpectedly got up from the chair, swaying 
her supple figure and stretching her arms above her head. 
He stopped to look at her curiously, paused, and then went 



on : 



I venture to think that God has nothing to do with 
such a hospitality and with such a guest ! " 

She had jumped to her feet to react against the numb- 
ness, to discover whether her body would obey her will. 
It did. She could stand up, and she could move her arms 



362 VICTORY 

freely. Though no physiologist, she concluded that all 
that sudden numbness was in her head, not in her limbs. 
Her fears assuaged, she thanked God for it mentally, and 
to Heyst murmured a protest : 

" Oh, yes ! He's got to do with everything — every 
little thing. Nothing can happen — " 

" Yes," he said hastily ; " one of the two sparrows 
can't be struck to the ground — you are thinking of that." 
The habitual playful smile faded on the kindly lips under 
the martial moustache. " Ah, you remember what you 
have been told — as a child — on Sundays." 

" Yes, I do remember." She sank into the chair again. 
" It was the only decent bit of time I ever had when I was 
a kid, with our landlady's two girls, you know." 

" I wonder, Lena," Heyst said, with a return of his 
urbane playfulness, " whether you are just a little child, 
or whether you represent something as old as the world." 

She surprised Heyst by saying dreamily : 

" Well — and what about you ? " 

" I ? I date later — much later. I can't call myself a 
child, but I am so recent that I may call myself a man of 
the last hour — or is it the hour before last ? I have been 
out of it so long that I am not certain how far the hands 
of the clock have moved since — since — " 

He glanced at the portrait of his father, exactly above 
the head of the girl, and as it were ignoring her in its 
painted austerity of feeling. He did not finish the sentence ; 
but he did not remain silent for long. 

" Only what must be avoided are fallacious inferences, 
my dear Lena — especially at this hour." 

" Now you are making fun of me again," she said 
without looking up. 

" Am I ? " he cried. " Making fun ? No, giving 
warning. Hang it all, whatever truth people told you in 



VICTORY 363 

the old days, there is also this one — that sparrows do fall to 
the ground, that they are brought down to the ground. 
This is no vain assertion, but a fact. Ihat's why " — again 
his tone changed, while he picked up a table knife and let 
it fall disdainfully — " that's why I wish these wretched 
round knives had some edge on them. Absolute rubbish 
— neither edge, point, nor substance. I believe one of 
these forks would make a better weapon at a pinch. But 
can I go about with a fork in my pocket ? " He gnashed 
his teeth with a rage very real, and yet comic. 

" There used to be a carver here, but it was broken and 
thrown away a long time ago. Nothing much to carve 
here. It would have made a noble weapon, no doubt ; 
but—" 

He stopped. The girl sat very quiet, with downcast 
eyes. As he kept silent for some time, she looked up and 
said thoughtfully : 

" Yes, a knife — it's a knife that you would want, wouldn't 
you, in case, in case — " 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

" There must be a crowbar or two in the sheds ; but I 
have given up all the keys together. And then, do you see 
me walking about with a crowbar in my hand ? Ha, ha ! 
And besides, that edifying sight alone might start the 
trouble for all I know. In truth, why has it not started 
yet ? " 

" Perhaps they are afraid of you," she whispered, look- 
ing down again. 

By Jove, it looks like it," he assented meditatively. 

They do seem to hang back for some reason. Is that 
reason prudence, or downright fear, or perhaps the leisurely 
method of certitude ? " 

Out in the black night, not very far from the bungalow, 
resounded a loud and prolonged whistle. Lena's hands 






364 VICTORY 

grasped the sides of the chair, but she made no movement. 
Heyst started, and turned his face away from the door. 

The startling sound had died away. 

" Whistles, yells, omens, signals, portents — ^what do 
they matter ? " he said. " But what about that crow- 
bar ? Suppose I had it ! Could I stand in ambush at 
the side of the door — this door — and smash the first pro- 
truding head, scatter blood and brains over the floor, over 
these walls, and then run stealthily to the other door to do 
the same thing — and repeat the performance for a third 
time, perhaps ? Could I ? On suspicion, without com- 
punction, with a calm and determined purpose ? No, it is 
not in me. I date too late. Would you like to see me 
attempt this thing while that mysterious prestige of mine 
lasts — or their not less mysterious hesitation ? " 

" No, no ! " she whispered ardently, as if compelled to 
speak by his eyes fixed on her face. " No, it's a knife you 
want to defend yourself with — to defend — there will be 
time—" 

" And who knows if it isn't really my duty ? " he began 
again, as if he had not heard her disjointed words at all. 
" It may be — my duty to you, to myself. For why should 
I put up with the humiliation of their secret menaces ? 
Do you know what the world would say ? " 

He emitted a low laugh, which struck her with terror. 
She would have got up, but he stooped so low over her that 
she could not move without first pushing him away. 

" It would say, Lena, that I — that Swede — after luring 
my friend and partner to his death from mere greed of 
money, have murdered these unoffending shipwrecked 
strangers from sheer funk. That would be the story whis- 
pered — ^perhaps shouted — certainly spread out, and be- 
lieved — and believed, my dear Lena ! " 

** Who would believe such awful things ? " 



VICTORY 365 

" Perhaps you wouldn't — not at first, at any rate ; but 
the power of calumny grows with time. It's insidious and 
penetrating. It can even destroy one's faith in oneself — 
dry-rot the soul." 

All at once her eyes leaped to the door and remained fixed, 
stony, a little enlarged. Turning his head, Heyst beheld 
the figure of Ricardo framed in the doorway. For a 
moment none of the three moved ; then, looking from 
the newcomer to the girl in the chair, Heyst formulated 
a sardonic introduction. 

" Mr. Ricardo, my dear." 

Her head drooped a little. Ricardo's hand went up to 
his moustache. His voice exploded in the room. 

" At your service, ma'am ! " 

He stepped in, taking his hat off with a flourish, and 
dropping it carelessly on a chair near the door. 

" At your service," he repeated, in quite another tone. 
" I was made aware there was a lady about, by that Pedro 
of ours ; only I didn't know I should have the privilege of 
seeing you to-night, ma'am." 

Lena and Heyst looked at him covertly, but he, with a 
vague gaze avoiding them both, looked at nothing, seeming 
to pursue some point in space. 

" Had a pleasant walk ? " he asked suddenly. 

" Yes. And you ? " returned Heyst, who had managed 
to catch his glance. 

" I ? I haven't been a yard away from the governor 
this afternoon till I started for here." The genuineness 
of the accent surprised Heyst, without convincing him of 
the truth of the words. ** Why do you ask ? " pursued 
Ricardo with every inflexion of perfect candour. 

" You might have wished to explore jthe jisland ^'a 
little," said Heyst, studying the man, who, to render 
him justice, did not try to free his captured *gaze. " I 



366 VICTORY 

may remind you that it wouldn't be a perfectly safe 
proceeding." 

Ricardo presented a picture of innocence. 

" Oh, yes ! — meaning that Chink that has run away 
from you. He ain't much ! " 

" He has a revolver," observed Heyst meaningly. 

" Well, and you have a revolver, too," Mr. Ricardo 
argued unexpectedly. " I don't worry myself about 
that." 

" I ? That's different. I am not afraid of you," Heyst 
made answer after a short pause. 

" Of me ? " 

" Of all of you." 

" You have a queer way of putting things," began 
Ricardo. 

At that moment the door on the compound side of 
the house came open with some noise, and Pedro entered, 
pressing the edge of a loaded tray to his breast. His big, 
hairy head rolled a little, his feet fell in front of each other 
with a short, hard thump on the floor. The arrival changed 
the current of Ricardo 's thought, perhaps, but certainly of 
his speech. 

" You heard me whistling a httle while ago outside ? 
That was to give him a hint, as I came along, that it 
was time to bring in the dinner ; and here it is." 

Lena rose and passed to the right of Ricardo, who 
lowered his glance for a moment. They sat down at 
the table. The enormous gorilla back of Pedro swayed 
out through the door. 

*' Extraordinary strong brute, ma'am," said Ricardo. 
He had a propensity to talk about " his Pedro," as 
some men will talk of their dog. " He ain't pretty, 
though. No, he ain't pretty. And he has got to be kept 
under. I am his keeper, as it might be. The governor 



VICTORY 367 

don't trouble his head much about dee-tails. All that's 
left to Martin. Martin, that's me, ma'am." 

Heyst saw the girl's eyes turn toward Mr. Jones's 
secretary and rest blankly on his face. Ricardo, how- 
ever, looked vaguely into space, and, with faint flickers 
of a smile about his lips, made conversation indefatigably 
against the silence of his entertainers. He boasted largely 
of his long association with Mr. Jones — over four years 
now, he said. Then, glancing rapidly at Heyst : 

" You can see at once he's a gentleman, can't you ? " 

** You people," Heyst said, his habitual playful in- 
tonation tinged with gloom, " are divorced from all reality 
in my eyes." 

Ricardo received this speech as if he had been expecting 
to hear those very words, or else did not mind at all what 
Heyst might say. He muttered an absent-minded " Ay, 
ay," played with a bit of biscuit, sighed, and said, with a 
peculiar stare which did not seem to carry any distance, 
but to stop short at a point in the air very near his face : 

" Anybody can see at once you are one. You and 
the governor ought to understand each other. He ex- 
pects to see you to-night. The governor isn't well, and 
we've got to think of getting away from here." 

While saying these words he turned himself full toward 
Lena, but without any marked expression. Leaning 
back with folded arms, the girl stared before her as if 
she had been alone in the room. But under that aspect 
of almost vacant unconcern the perils and emotion that 
had entered into her hfe warmed her heart, exalted her 
mind with a sense of an inconceivable intensity of existence. 

" Really ? Thinking of going away from here ? " Heyst 
murmured. 

" The best of friends must part," Ricardo pronounced 
slowly. " And, as long as they part friends, there's no 



368 VICTORY 

harm done. We two are used to be on the move. You, 
I understand, prefer to stjck in one place." 

It was obvious that all this was being said merely for 
the sake of talking, and that Ricardo's mind was con- 
centrated on some purpose unconnected with the words 
that were coming out of his mouth. 

" I should like to know," Heyst asked with incisive 
poHteness, " how you have come to understand this 
or anything else about me ? As far as I can remember, 
I've made you no confidences." 

Ricardo, gazing comfortably into space out of the 
back of his chair — for some time all three had given 
up any pretence of eating — answered abstractedly : 

" Any fellow might have guessed it." He sat up 
suddenly, and uncovered all his teeth in a grin of ex- 
traordinary ferocity, which was belied by the persistent 
amiability of his tone. " The governor will be the man 
to tell you something about that. I wish you would say 
you would see my governor. He's the one who does 
all our talking. Let me take you to him this evening. 
He ain't at all well ; and he can't make up his mind to go 
away without having a talk with you." 

Heyst, looking up, met Lena's eyes. Their expression 
of candour seemed to hide some struggHng intention. 
Her head, he fancied, had made an imperceptible affirma- 
tive movement. Why ? What reason could she have ? 
Was it the prompting of some obscure instinct ? Or 
was it simply a delusion of his own senses ? But in this 
strange complication invading the quietude of his life, 
in his state of doubt and disdain and almost of despair 
with which he looked at himself, he would let even a 
delusive appearance guide him through a darkness so 
dense that it made for indifference. 

" Well, suppose I do say so."j 



VICTORY 369 

Ricardo did not conceal his satisfaction, which for a 
moment interested Heyst. 

" It can't be my Hfe they are after," he said to himself. 
" What good could it be to them ? " 

He looked across the table at the girl. What did 
it matter whether she had nodded or not ? As always, 
when looking into her unconscious eyes, he tasted some- 
thing hke the dregs of tender pity. He had decided to 
go. Her nod, imaginary or not imaginary, advice or 
illusion, had tipped the scale. He reflected that Ricardo 's 
invitation could scarcely be anything in the nature of a 
trap. It would have been too absurd. Why carry subtly 
into a trap some one already bound hand and foot, as it 
were ? 

All this time he had been looking fixedly at the girl he 

called Lena. In the submissive quietness of her being, 

which had been her attitude ever since they had begun 

their Hfe on the island, she remained as secret as ever. 

Heyst got up abruptly, with a smile of such enigmatic 

and despairing character that Mr. Secretary Ricardo, 

whose abstract gaze had an all-round efficiency, made 

a slight crouching start, as if to dive under the table for 

his leg-knife — a start that was repressed as soon as begun. 

He had expected Heyst to spring on him or draw a revolver, 

because he created for himself a vision of him in his own 

image. Instead of doing either of these evident things, 

Heyst walked across the room, opened the door, and put 

his head through it to look out into the compound. 

As soon as his back was turned, Ricardo 's hand sought 

the girl's arm under the table. He was not looking at 

her, but she felt the groping, nervous touch of his search, 

felt suddenly the grip of his fingers above her wrist. He 

leaned forward a little ; still he dared not look at her. 

His hard stare remained fastened on Heyst's back. In 
24 



370 VICTORY 

an extremely low hiss, his fixed idea of argument found 
expression scathingly : 

" See ! He's no good. He's not the man for you ! " 
He glanced at her at last. Her lips moved a Httle, 
and he was awed by that movement without a sound. 
Next instant the hard grasp of his fingers vanished from 
her arm. Heyst had shut the door. On his way back 
to the table, he crossed the path of the girl they had called 
Alma — she didn't know why — also Magdalen, whose mind 
had remained so long in doubt as to the reason of her own 
existence. She no longer wondered at that bitter riddle, 
since her heart found its solution in a bUnding, hot glow 
of passionate purpose. 



SHE passed by Heyst as if she had indeed been 
blinded by some secret, lurid, and consuming glare 
into which she was about to enter. The curtain of the 
bedroom door fell behind her into rigid folds. Ricardo's 
vacant gaze seemed to be watching the dancing flight 

of a fly in mid air. 

" Extra dark outside, ain't it ? " he muttered. 

" Not so dark but that I could see that man of 
yours prowling about there," said Heyst in measured tones. 

" What — Pedro ? He's scarcely a man, you know ; or 
else I wouldn't be so fond of him as I am." 

" Very well. Let's call him your worthy associate." 

" Ay I Worthy enough for what we want of him. A 
great stand-by is Peter in a scrimmage. A growl and a 
bite — oh, my 1 And you don't want him about ? " 

" I don't." 

" You want him out of the way ? " insisted Ricardo, 
with an affectation of incredulity which Heyst accepted 
calmly, though the air in the room seemed to grow more 
oppressive with every word spoken. 

" That's it. I do want him out of the way." He forced 
himself to speak equably. 

" Lor' ! That's no great matter. Pedro's not much 
use here. The business my governor's after can be settled 
by ten minutes' rational talk with — with another gentle- 
man. Quiet talk ! " 

37* 



372 VICTORY 

He looked up suddenly with hard, phosphorescent eyes. 
Heyst didn't move a muscle. Ricardo congratulated 
himself on having left his revolver behind. He was so 
exasperated that he didn't know what he might have 
done. He said at last : 

" You want poor, harmless Peter out of the way before 
you let me take you to see the governor — is that it ? " 

" Yes, that is it." 

" H'm ! One can see," Ricardo said with hidden 
venom, " that you are a gentleman ; but all that gentle- 
manly fancifulness is apt to turn sour on a plain man's 
stomach. However — you'll have to pardon me." 

He put his fingers into his mouth and let out a whistle 
which seemed to drive a thin, sharp shaft of air sohdly 
against one's nearest ear-drum. Though he greatly 
enjoyed Heyst's involuntary grimace, he sat perfectly 
stolid waiting for the effect of the call. 

It brought Pedro in with an extraordinary, uncouth, 
primeval impetuosity. The door flew open with a clatter, 
and the wild figure it disclosed seemed anxious to devastate 
the room in leaps and bounds ; but Ricardo raised his 
open palm, and the creature came in quietly. His 
enormous half-closed paws swung to and fro a Httle in 
front of his bowed trunk as he walked. Ricardo looked on 
truculently. 

" You go to the boat — understand ? Go now ! " 

The little red eyes of the tame monster blinked with 
painful attention in the mass of hair. 

" WeU ? Why don't you get ? Forgot human speech, 
eh ? Don't you know any longer what a boat is ? " 

*' Si — ^boat," the creature stammered out doubtfully. 

" Well, go there — the boat at the jetty. March off to 
it and sit there, lie down there, do anything but go to 
sleep there — till you hear my call, and then fly here. 



VICTORY 373 

Them's your orders. March ! Get, vamos ! No, not 
that way — out through the front door. No sulks ! " 

Pedro obeyed with uncouth alacrity. When he had 
gone, the gleam of pitiless savagery went out of Ricardo's 
yellow eyes, and his physiognomy took on, for the first 
time that evening, the expression of a domestic cat which 
is being noticed. 

" You can watch him right into the bushes, if you like. 
Too dark, eh ? Why not go with him to the very spot, 
then ? " 

Heyst made a gesture of vague protest. 

" There's nothing to assure me that he will stay there. 
I have no doubt of his going ; but it's an act without a 
guarantee." 

" There you are ! " Ricardo shrugged his shoulders 
philosophically. " Can't be helped. Short of shooting 
our Pedro, nobody can make absolutely sure of his staying 
in the same place longer than he has a mind to ; but I 
tell you, he lives in holy terror of my temper. That's why 
I put on my sudden-death air when I talk to him. And 
yet I wouldn't shoot him — not I, unless in such a fit of 
rage as would make a man shoot his favourite dog. Look 
here, sir 1 This deal is on the square. I didn't tip him 
a wink to do anything else. He won't budge from the 
jetty. Are you coming along now, sir ? " 

A short silence ensued. Ricardo's jaws were working 
ominously under his skin. His eyes glided voluptuously 
here and there, cruel and dreamy. Heyst checked a 
sudden movement, reflected for a while, then said : 

" You must wait a little." 

" Wait a Httle ! Wait a Httle 1 What does he think 
a fellow is — a graven image ? " grumbled Ricardo half 
audibly. 

Heyst went into the bedroom, and shut the door after 



374 VICTORY 

him with a bang. Coming from the Hght, he could not 
see a thing in there at first ; yet he received the impression 
of the girl getting up from the floor. On the less opaque 
darkness of the shutter-hole, her head detached itself 
suddenly, very faint, a mere hint of a round, dark shape 
without a face. 

" I am going, Lena. I am going to confront these 
scoundrels." He was surprised to feel two arms falling 
on his shoulders. " I thought that you — " he began. 

" Yes, yes ! " the girl whispered hastily. 

She neither clung to him, nor yet did she try to draw 
him to her. Her hands grasped his shoulders, and she 
seemed to him to be staring into his face in the dark. 
And now he could see something of her face, too — an oval 
without features — and faintly distinguish her person, in 
the blackness, a form without definite lines. 

" You have a black dress here, haven't you, Lena ? " 
he asked, speaking rapidly, and so low that she could just 
hear him. 

" Yes— an old thing." 

" Very good. Put it on at once." 

" But why ? " 

" Not for mourning I " There was something per- 
emptory in the slightly ironic murmur. " Can you find 
it and get into it in the dark ? " 

She could. She would try. He waited, very still. He 
could imagine her movements over there at the far end 
of the room ; but his eyes, accustomed now to the darkness, 
had lost her completely. When she spoke, her voice 
surprised him by its nearness. She had done what he 
had told her to do, and had approached him, invisible. 

" Good I Where's that piece of purple veil I've seen 
lying about ? " he asked. 

There was no answer, only a slight rustle, 



VICTORY 375 

" Where is it ? " he repeated impatiently. 

Her unexpected breath was on his cheek. 

" In my hands." 

" Capital ! Listen, Lena. As soon as I leave the 
bungalow with that horrible scoundrel, you slip out at 
the back — instantly, lose no time I — and run round into 
the forest. That will be your time, while we are walking 
away, and I am sure he won't give me the slip. Run into 
the forest behind the fringe of bushes between the big 
trees. You will know, surely, how to find a place in full 
view of the front door. I fear for you ; but in this black 
dress, with most of your face muffled up in that dark 
veil, I defy anybody to find you there before daylight. 
Wait in the forest till the table is pushed into full view 
of the doorway, and you see three candles out of four 
blown out and one relighted — or, should the lights be put 
out here while you watch them, wait till three candles 
are Ughted and then two put out. At either of these 
signals run back as hard as you can, for it will mean that 
I am waiting for you here." 

While he was speaking, the girl had sought and seized 
one of his hands. She did not press it ; she held it loosely, 
as it were timidly, caressingly. It was no grasp ; it was 
a mere contact, as if only to make sure that he was there, 
that he was real and no mere darker shadow in the obscurity. 
The warmth of her hand gave Heyst a strange, intimate 
sensation of all her person. He had to fight down a new 
sort of emotion, which almost unmanned him. He went 
on, whispering sternly : 

" But if you see no such signals, don't let anything 
— fear, curiosity, despair, or hope — entice you back to 
this house ; and with the first sign of the dawn steal 
away along the edge of the clearing till you strike the 
path. Wait no longer, because I shall probably be dead." 



376 VICTORY 

The murmur of the word " Never ! " floated into his 
ear as if it had formed itself in the air. 

" You know the path," he continued. " Make your 
way to the barricade. Go to Wang — yes, to Wang. Let 
nothing stop you ! " It seemed to him that the girl's 
hand trembled a little. " The worst he can do to you is 
to shoot you ; but he won't. I really think he won't, 
if I am not there. Stay with the villagers, with the wild 
people, and fear nothing. They will be more awed by 
you than you can be frightened of them. Davidson's 
bound to turn up before very long. Keep a lookout for a 
passing steamer. Think of some sort of signal to call him." 

She made no answer. The sense of the heavy, brooding 
silence in the outside world seemed to enter and fill the 
room — the oppressive infinity of it, without breath, without 
light. It was as if the heart of hearts had ceased to beat 
and the end of all things had come. 

" Have you understood ? You are to run out of the 
house at once," Heyst whispered urgently. 

She lifted his hand to her lips and let it go. He was 
startled. 

" Lena ! " he cried out under his breath. 

She was gone from his side. He dared not trust him- 
self — no, not even to the extent of a tender word. 

Turning to go out, he heard a thud somewhere in the 
house. To open the door, he had first to lift the curtain ; 
he did so with his face over his shoulder. The merest 
trickle of light, coming through the keyhole and one or 
two cracks, was enough for his eyes to see her plainly, 
all black, down on her knees, with her head and arms 
flung on the foot of the bed — all black in the desolation 
of a mourning sinner. What was this ? A suspicion 
that there were everywhere more things than he could 
understand crossed Heyst's mind. Her arm, detached 



VICTORY 377 

from the bed, motioned him away. He obeyed, and went 
out, full of disquiet. 

The curtain behind him had not ceased to tremble 
when she was up on her feet, close against it, listening 
for sounds, for words, in a stooping, tragic attitude of 
stealthy attention, one hand clutching at her breast as if 
to compress, to make less loud, the beating of her heart. 
Heyst had caught Mr. Jones's secretary in the contem- 
plation of his closed writing-desk. Ricardo might have 
been meditating how to break into it ; but when he turned 
about suddenly, he showed so distorted a face that it made 
Heyst pause in wonder at the upturned whites of the eyes, 
which were blinking horribly, as if the man were inwardly 
convulsed. 

" I thought you were never coming," Ricardo mumbled. 

" I didn't know you were pressed for time. Even if 
your going away depends on this conversation, as you say, 
I doubt if you are the men to put to sea on such a night 
as this," said Heyst, motioning Ricardo to precede him 
out of the house. 

With feline undulations of hip and shoulder, the secretary 
left the room at once. There was something cruel in the 
absolute dumbness of the night. The great cloud covering 
half the sky hung right against one, like an enormous 
curtain hiding menacing preparations of violence. As 
the feet of the two men touched the ground, a rumble 
came from behind it, preceded by a swift, mysterious 
gleam of light on the waters of the bay. 

" Ha ! " said Ricardo. " It begins." 

" It may be nothing in the end," observed Heyst, 
stepping along steadily. 

" No ! Let it come ! " Ricardo said viciously. " I 
am in the humour for it ! " 

By the time the two men had reached the other bunga- 



378 VICTORY 

low, the far-off, modulated rumble growled incessantly, 
while pale lightning in waves of cold fire flooded and ran 
off the island in rapid succession. Ricardo, unexpectedly, 
dashed ahead up the steps and put his head through the 
doorway. 

" Here he is, governor ! Keep him with you as long 
as you can — till you hear me whistle. I am on the track." 

He flung these words into the room with inconceivable 
speed, and stood aside to let the visitor pass through the 
doorway ; but he had to wait an appreciable moment, 
because Heyst, seeing his purpose, had scornfully slowed 
his pace. When Heyst entered the room it was with a 
smile, the Heyst smile, lurking under his martial moustache. 



XI 



Two candles were burning on the stand-up desk. 
Mr. Jones, tightly enfolded in an old but gorgeous 
blue silk dressing-gown, kept his elbows close against his 
sides and his hands deeply plunged into the extraordinarily 
deep pockets of the garment. The costume accentuated 
his emaciation. He resembled a painted pole lean- 
ing against the edge of the desk, with a dried head 
of dubious distinction stuck on the top of it. Ricardo 
lounged in the doorway. Indifferent, in appearance, to 
what was going on, he was biding his time. At a given 
moment, between two flickers of lightning, he melted 
out of his frame into the outer air. His disappearance 
was observed on the instant by Mr. Jones, who abandoned 
his nonchalant immobility against the desk, and made a 
few steps calculated to put him between Heyst and the 
doorway. 

" It's awfully close," he remarked. 

Heyst, in the middle of the room, had made up his 
mind to speak plainly. 

" We haven't met to talk about the weather. You 
favoured me earlier in the day with a rather cryptic phrase 
about yourself. * I am he that is,' you said. What does 
that mean ? " 

Mr. Jones, without looking at Heyst, continued his absent- 
minded movements till, attaining the desired position, 
he brought his shoulders with a thump against the wall 

379 



38o VICTORY 

near the door, and raised his head. In the emotion of 
the decisive moment his haggard face gUstened with per- 
spiration. Drops ran down his hollow cheeks and almost 
blinded the spectral eyes in their bony caverns. 

" It means that I am a person to be reckoned with. 
No — stop ! Don't put your hand into your pocket — 
don't" 

His voice had a wild, unexpected shrillness. Heyst 
started, and there ensued a moment of suspended anima- 
tion, during which the thunder's deep bass muttered 
distantly and the doorway to the right of Mr. Jones flickered 
with bluish light. At last Heyst shrugged his shoulders ; 
he even looked at his hand. He didn't put it in his pocket, 
however. Mr. Jones, glued against the wall, watched him 
raise both his hands to the ends of his horizontal mous- 
taches, and answered the note of interrogation in his 
steady eyes. 

"A matter of prudence," said Mr. Jones in his natural 
hollow tones, and with a face of deathlike composure. 
" A man of your free life has surely perceived that. Though 
you are a much talked-about man, Mr. Heyst — as far as I 
understand, you are accustomed to employ the subtler 
weapons of intelligence, still I can't afford to take any 
risks of the — er — grosser methods. I am not unscrupulous 
enough to be a match for you in the use of intelligence ; 
but I assure you, Mr. Heyst, that in the other way you 
are no match for me. I have you covered at this very 
moment. You have been covered ever since you entered 
this room. Yes — from my pocket." 

During this harangue Heyst looked deliberately over 
his shoulder, stepped back a pace, and sat down on the 
end of the camp bedstead. Leaning his elbow on one 
knee, he laid his cheek in the palm of his hand and seemed 
to meditate on what he should say next. Mr. Jones, 



VICTORY 381 

planted against the wall, was obviously waiting for some 
sort of overture. As nothing came, he resolved to speak 
himself ; but he hesitated. For, though he considered 
that the most difficult step had been taken, he said to 
himself that every stage of progress required great caution, 
lest the man, in Ricardo's phraseology, should " start to 
prance " — which would be most inconvenient. He fell 
back on a previous statement : 

" And I am a person to be reckoned with." 

The other man went on looking at the floor, as if he were 
alone in the room. There was a pause. 

" You have heard of me, then ? " Heyst said at length, 
looking up. 

" I should think so ! We have been staying at Schom- 
berg's hotel." 

" Schom — " Heyst choked on the word. 

" What's the matter, Mr. Heyst ? " 

" Nothing. Nausea," Heyst said resignedly. He re- 
sumed his former attitude of meditative indifference. 
" What is this reckoning you are talking about ? " he 
asked after a time, in the quietest possible tone. " I 
don't know you." 

"It's obvious that we belong to the same — social 
sphere," began Mr. Jones with languid irony. Inwardly 
he was as watchful as he could be. " Something has 
driven you out — the originaUty of your ideas, perhaps. 
Or your tastes." 

Mr. Jones indulged in one of his ghastly smiles. In 
repose his features had a curious character of evil, ex- 
hausted austerity ; but when he smiled, the whole mask 
took on an unpleasantly infantile expression. A recru- 
descence of the rolling thunder invaded the room loudly, 
and passed into silence. 

" You are not taking this very well," observed Mr. 



3^2 VICTORY 

Jones. This was what he said, but as a matter of fact he 
thought that the business was shaping quite satisfactorily. 
The man, he said to himself, had no stomach for a fight. 
Aloud he continued : " Come I You can't expect to 
have it always your own way. You are a man of the 
world." 

" And you ? " Heyst interrupted him unexpectedly. 
*' How do you define yourself ? " 

" I, my dear sir ? In one way I am — yes, I am the 
world itself, come to pay you a visit. In another sense 
I am an outcast — almost an outlaw. If you prefer a less 
materialistic view, I am a sort of fate — the retribution 
that waits its time." 

" I wish to goodness you were the commonest sort of 
ruffian ! " said Heyst, raising his equable gaze to Mr. 
Jones. *' One would be able to talk to you straight, then, 
and hope for some humanity. As it is — " 

" I dislike violence and ferocity of every sort as much as 
you do," Mr. Jones declared, looking very languid as he 
leaned against the wall, but speaking fairly loud. " You 
can ask my Martin if it is not so. This, Mr. Heyst, is 
a soft age. It is also an age without prejudices. I've 
heard that you are free from them yourself. You mustn't 
be shocked if I tell you plainly that we are after your 
money — or I am, if you prefer to make me alone respon- 
sible. Pedro, of course, knows no more of it than any 
other animal would. Ricardo is of the faithful retainer 
class — absolutely identified with all my ideas, wishes, and 
even whims." 

Mr. Jones pulled his left hand out of his pocket, got a 
handkerchief out of another, and began to wipe the per- 
spiration from his forehead, neck and chin. The excite- 
ment from which he suffered made his breathing visible. 
In his long dressing-gown he had the air of a convalescent 



VICTORY 383 

invalid who had imprudently overtaxed his strength. 
Heyst, broad-shouldered, robust, watched the operation 
from the end of the camp bedstead, very calm, his hands 
on his knees. 

" And by the by," he asked, " where is he now, that 
henchman of yours ? Breaking into my desk ? " 

" That would be crude. Still, crudeness is one of hfe's 
conditions." There was the slightest flavour of banter 
in the tone of Ricardo's governor. " Conceivable, but 
unhkely. Martin is a httle crude ; but you are not, Mr. 
Heyst. To tell you the truth, I don't know precisely 
where he is. He has been a little mysterious of late ; 
but he has my confidence. No, don't get up, Mr. 
Heyst I " 

The viciousness of his spectral face was indescribable. 
Heyst, who had moved a little, was surprised by the dis- 
closure. 

" It was not my intention," he said. 

" Pray remain seated," Mr. Jones insisted in a languid 
voice, but with a very determined glitter in his black 
eye-caverns. 

*' If you were more observant," said Heyst with dis- 
passionate contempt, " you would have known before I had 
been five minutes in the room that I had no weapon of any 
sort on me." 

" Possibly ; but pray keep your hands still. They 
are very well where they are. This is too big an affair 
for me to take any risks." 

" Big ? Too big ? " Heyst repeated with genuine sur- 
prise. " Good Heavens 1 Whatever you are looking for, 
there's very little of it here — very little of anything." 

" You would naturally say so, but that's not what 
we have heard," retorted Mr. Jones quickly, with a grin 
so ghastly that it was impossible to think it voluntary. 



384 VICTORY 

Heyst's face had grown very gloomy. He knitted his 
brows. 

** What have you heard ? " he asked. 

" A lot, Mr. Heyst— a lot," af&rmed Mr. Jones. He 
was trying to recover his manner of languid superiority. 
** We have heard, for instance, of a certain Mr. Morrison, 
once your partner." 

Heyst could not repress a slight movement. 

" Aha ! " said Mr. Jones, with a sort of ghostly glee on 
his face. 

The muffled thunder resembled the echo of a distant 
cannonade below the horizon, and the two men seemed 
to be hstening to it in sullen silence. 

" This diabolical calumny will end in actually and 
literally taking my life from me," thought Heyst. 

Then, suddenly, he laughed. Portentously spectral, 
Mr. Jones listened to the sound. 

" Laugh as much as you please," he said. " I, who 
have been hounded out from society by a lot of highly 
moral souls, can't see anything funny in that story. But 
here we are, and you will now have to pay for your fun, 
Mr. Heyst." 

" You have heard a lot of ugly lies," observed Heyst. 
" Take my word for it." 

" You would say so, of course — very natural. As a 
matter of fact, I haven't heard very much. Strictly 
speaking, it was Martin. He collects information, and 
so on. You don't suppose I would talk to that Schomberg 
animal more than I could help ? It was Martin whom he 
took into his confidence." 

" The stupidity of that creature is so great that it 
becomes formidable," Heyst said, as if speaking to him- 
self. 

Involuntarily, his mind turned to the girl, wandering 



VICTORY 385 

in the forest, alone and terrified. Would he ever see 
her again ? At that thought he nearly lost his self- 
possession. But the idea that if she followed his in- 
structions those men were not Ukely to find her, steadied 
him a Uttle. They did not know that the island had any 
inhabitants ; and he himself once disposed of, they would 
be too anxious to get away to waste time hunting for a 
vanished girl. 

All this passed through Heyst's mind in a flash, as men 
think in moments of danger. He looked speculatively 
at Mr. Jones, who, of course, had never for a moment 
taken his eyes from his intended victim. And the con- 
viction came to Heyst that this outlaw from the higher 
spheres was an absolutely hard and pitiless scoundrel. 

Mr. Jones's voice made him start. 

" It would be useless, for instance, to tell me that your 
Chinaman has run off with your money. A man living 
alone with a Chinaman on an island takes care to conceal 
property of that kind so well that the devil himself — " 

" Certainly," Heyst muttered. 

Again, with his left hand, Mr. Jones mopped his frontal 
bone, his stalk-like neck, his razor jaws, his fleshless chin. 
Again his voice faltered and his aspect became still more 
gruesomely malevolent, as of a wicked and pitiless 
c>orpse. 

" I see what you mean," he cried, " but you mustn't 
put too much trust in your ingenuity. You don't strike 
me as a very ingenious person, Mr. Heyst. Neither am I. 
My talents lie another way. But Martin — " 

" Who is now engaged in rifling my desk," interjected 
Heyst. 

" I don't think so. What I was going to say is that 
Martin is much cleverer than a Chinaman. Do you 
believe in racial superiority, Mr. Heyst ? I do, firmly. 
25 



386 VICTORY 

Martin is great at ferreting out such secrets as yours, for 
instance." 

" Secrets like mine ! " repeated Heyst bitterly. " Well, 
I wish him joy of all he can ferret out ! " 

"That's very kind of you," remarked Mr. Jones. He 
was beginning to be anxious for Martin's return. Of iron 
self-possession at the gaming-table, fearless in a sudden 
affray, he found that this rather special kind of work was 
telling on his nerves. ** Keep still as you are ! " he cried 
sharply. 

" I've told you I am not armed," said Heyst, folding 
his arms on his breast. 

" I am really inclined to believe that you are not," 
admitted Mr. Jones seriously. " Strange ! " he mused 
aloud, the caverns of his eyes turned upon Heyst. Then 
briskly : " But my object is to keep you in this room. 
Don't provoke me, by some unguarded movement, to 
smash your knee or do something definite of that sort." 
He passed his tongue over his lips, which were dry and 
black, while his forehead glistened with moisture. " I 
don't know if it wouldn't be better to do it at once I " 

*' He who deliberates is lost," said Heyst with grave 
mockery. 

Mr. Jones disregarded the remark. He had the air of 
communing with himself. 

" Physically I am no match for you," he said slowly, 
his black gaze fixed upon the man sitting on the end of 
the bed. " You could spring — " 

" Are you trying to frighten yourself ? " asked Heyst 
abruptly. " You don't seem to have quite enough pluck 
for your business. Why don't you do it at once ? " 

Mr. Jones, taking violent offence, snorted Hke a savage 
skeleton. 

** Strange as it may seem to you, it is because of my 



VICTORY 387 

origin, my breeding, my traditions, my early associations, 
and such-like trifles. Not everybody can divest himself 
of the prejudices of a gentleman as easily as you have 
done, Mr. Heyst. But don't worry about my pluck. If 
you were to make a clean spring at me, you would receive 
in mid air, so to speak, something that would make you 
perfectly harmless by the time you landed. No, don't 
misapprehend us, Mr. Heyst. We are — er — adequate 
bandits ; and we are after the fniit of your labours as a — 
er — successful swindler. It's the way of the world — ^gorge 
and disgorge ! " i 

He inclined wearily his head on his left shoulder. His 
vitality seemed exhausted. Even his sunken eyeUds 
drooped within the bony sockets. Only his thin, waspish, 
beautifully pencilled eyebrows, drawn together a little, 
suggested the will and the power to sting — something 
vicious, unconquerable, and deadly. 

" Fruits ! Swindler I " repeated Heyst, without heat, 
almost without contempt. " You are giving yourself 
no end of trouble, you and your faithful henchman, to 
crack an empty nut. There are no fruits here, as you 
imagine. There are a few sovereigns, which you may 
have if you like ; and since you have called yourself a 
bandit—" 

" Yaas 1 " drawled Mr. Jones. " That, rather than 
a swindler. Open warfare at least ! " 

" Very good ! Only let me tell you that there 
were never in the world two more deluded bandits — 
never I " 

Heyst uttered these words with such energy that Mr. 
Jones, stiffening up, seemed to become thinner and taller 
in his metallic blue dressing-gown against the whitewashed 
wall. 

" Fooled by a silly, rascally innkeeper ! " Heyst went 



388 VICTORY 

on. " Talked over like a pair of children with a promise 
of sweets ! '* 

" I didn't talk with that disgusting animal," muttered 
Mr. Jones sullenly ; " but he convinced Martin, who is 
no fool." 

" I should think he wanted very much to be convinced," 
said Heyst, with the courteous intonation so well known 
in the islands. " I don't want to disturb your touching 
trust in your — your follower, but he must be the most 
credulous brigand in existence. What do you imagine ? 
If the story of my riches were ever so true, do you 
think Schomberg would have imparted it to you from 
sheer altruism ? Is that the way of the world, Mr. 
Jones ? " 

For a moment the lower jaw of Ricardo's gentleman 
dropped ; but it came up with a snap of scorn, and he said 
with spectral intensity : 

" The beast is cowardly ! He was frightened, and 
wanted to get rid of us, if you want to know, Mr. Heyst. 
I don't know that the material inducement was so very 
great, but I was bored, and we decided to accept the 
bribe. I don't regret it. All my Ufe I have been seeking 
new impressions, and you have turned out to be something 
quite out of the common. Martin, of course, looks to the 
material results. He's simple — and faithful — and wonder- 
fully acute." 

" Ah, yes ! He's on the track " — and now Heyst*s 
speech had the character of politely grim raillery — " but 
not sufficiently on the track, as yet, to make it quite 
convenient to shoot me without more ado. Didn't Schom- 
berg tell you precisely where I conceal the fruit of my 
rapines ? Pah ! Don't you know he would have told 
you anything, true or false, from a very clear motive ? 
Revenge ! Mad hate— the unclean idiot ! " 



VICTORY 389 

Mr. Jones did not seem very much moved. On his 
right hand the doorway incessantly flickered with distant 
lightning, and the continuous rumble of thunder went on 
irritatingly, like the growl of an inarticulate giant mutter- 
ing fatuously. 

Heyst overcame his immense repugnance to allude 
to her whose image, cowering in the forest, was con- 
stantly before his eyes, with all the pathos and force of 
its appeal, august, pitiful, and almost holy to him. It 
was in a hurried, embarrassed manner that he went 
on : 

"If it had not been for that girl whom he persecuted 
with his insane and odious passion, and who threw herself 
on my protection, he would never have — but you know 
well enough ! " 

" I don't know ! " burst out Mr. Jones with amazing 
heat. " That hotel-keeper tried to talk to me once of 
some girl he had lost, but I told him I didn't want to 
hear any of his beastly women stories. It had something 
to do with you, had it ? " 

Heyst looked on serenely at this outburst, then lost his 
patience a little. 

" What sort of comedy is this ? You don't mean to 
say that you didn't know that I had — that the girl was 
here ? " 

One could see that the eyes of Mr. Jones had become fixed 
in the depths of their black holes by the gleam of white 
becoming steady there. The whole man seemed frozen 
stiU. 

" Here ! Here ! " he screamed out twice. There was 
no mistaking his astonishment, his shocked incredulity — 
something like frightened disgust. 

Heyst was disgusted also, but in another way. He 
too was incredulous. He regretted having mentioned 



390 VICTORY 

the girl ; but the thing was done, his repugnance had been 
overcome in the heat of his argument against the absurd 
bandit, 

" Is it possible that you didn't know of that significant 
fact ? " he inquired. " Of the only effective truth in the 
welter of silly lies that deceived you so easily ? " 

" No, I didn't ! " Mr. Jones shouted. " But Martin 
did ! " he added in a faint whisper, which Heyst's ears 
just caught and no more. 

" I kept her out of sight as long as I could," said Heyst. 
" Perhaps, with your bringing up, traditions, and so on, 
you will understand my reason for it." 

" He knew. He knew before ! " Mr. Jones mourned 
in a hollow voice. " He knew of her from the first ! " 

Backed hard against the wall, he no longer watched 
Heyst. He had the air of a man who had seen an abyss 
yawning under his feet. 

" If I want to kill him, this is my time," thought Heyst ; 
but he did not move. 

Next moment Mr. Jones jerked his head up, glaring 
with sardonic fury. 

" I have a good mind to shoot you, you woman-ridden 
hermit, you man in the moon, that can't exist without — 
no, it won't be you that I'll shoot. It's the other woman- 
lover — the prevaricating, sly, low-class, amorous cuss ! 
And he shaved — shaved under my very nose. I'll shoot 
him ! " 

" He's gone mad," thought Heyst, startled by the 
spectre's sudden fury. 

He felt himself more in danger, nearer death, than 
ever since he had entered that room. An insane bandit 
is a deadly combination. He did not, could not know 
that Mr. Jones was quick-minded enough to see already 
the end of his reign over his excellent secretary's thoughts 



VICTORY 391 

and feelings ; the coming failure of Ricardo's fidelity. 
A woman had intervened ! A woman, a girl, who appar- 
ently possessed the power to awaken men's disgusting folly. 
Her power had been proved in two instances already — the 
beastly innkeeper, and that man with moustaches, upon 
whom Mr. Jones, his deadly right hand twitching in his 
pocket, glared more in repulsion than in anger. The very 
object of the expedition was lost from view in his sudden 
and overwhelming sense of utter insecurity. And this 
made Mr. Jones feel very savage ; but not against the man 
with the moustaches. Thus, while Heyst was really 
feeling that his life was not worth two minutes* purchase, 
he heard himself addressed with no affectation of languid 
impertinence, but with a burst of feverish determination. 

" Here ! Let's call a truce ! " said Mr. Jones. 

Heyst's heart was too sick to allow him to smile. 

" Have I been making war on you ? " he asked wearily. 
" How do you expect me to attach any meaning to your 
words ? " he went on. " You seem to be a morbid, sense- 
less sort of bandit. We don't speak the same language. 
If I were to tell you why I am here, talking to you, you 
wouldn't believe me, because you would not understand me. 
It certainly isn't the love of life, from which I have divorced 
myself long ago — not sufficiently, perhaps ; but if you 
are thinking of yours, then I repeat to you that it has 
never been in danger from me. I am unarmed." 

Mr. Jones was biting his lower lip, in a deep meditation. 
It was only toward the last that he looked at Heyst. 

" Unarmed, eh ? " Then he burst out violently : " I 
tell you, a gentleman is no match for the common herd. 
And yet one nmst make use of them. Unarmed, eh ? 
And I suppose that creature is of the commonest sort. 
You could hardly have got her out of a drawing-room. 
Though they're all alike, for that matter. Unarmed ! 



392 VICTORY 

It's a pity. I am in much greater danger than you are, 
or were — or I am much mistaken. But I am not — I know 
my man ! " 

He lost his air of mental vacancy and broke out into 
shrill exclamations. To Heyst they seemed madder than 
anything that had gone before. 

" On the track ! On the scent ! " he cried, forgetting 
himself to the point of executing a dance of rage in the 
middle of the floor. 

Heyst looked on, fascinated by this skeleton in a gay 
dressing-gown, jerkily agitated like a grotesque toy on the 
end of an invisible string. It became quiet suddenly. 

" I might have smelt a rat ! I always knew that this 
would be the danger." He changed suddenly to a con- 
fidential tone, fixing his sepulchral stare on Heyst. '' And 
yet here I am, taken in by the fellow, like the veriest 
fool. I've been always on the watch for some such beastly 
influence, but here I am, fairly caught. He shaved himself 
right in front of me — and I never guessed ! " 

The shrill laugh, following on the low tone of secrecy, 
sounded so convincingly insane that Heyst got up as if 
moved by a spring. Mr. Jones stepped back two paces, 
but displayed no uneasiness. 

"It's as clear as daylight ! " he uttered mournfully, 
and fell silent. 

Behind him the doorway flickered lividly, and the 
sound as of a naval action somewhere away on the horizon 
filled the breathless pause. Mr. Jones inclined his head 
over his shoulder. His mood had completely changed. 

" What do you say, unarmed man ? Shall we go and 
see what is detaining my trusted Martin so long ? He 
asked me to keep you engaged in friendly conversation 
till he made a further examination of that track. Ha, 
ha, ha I 



It 



VICTORY 393 

" He is no doubt ransacking my house," said Heyst. 

He was bewildered. It seemed to him that all this 
was an incomprehensible dream, or perhaps an elaborate 
other-world joke, contrived by that spectre in a gorgeous 
dressing-gown. 

Mr. Jones looked at him with a horrible, cadaverous 
smile of inscrutable mockery, and pointed to the door. 
Heyst passed through it first. His feelings had become so 
blunted that he did not care how soon he was shot in the 
back. 

" How oppressive the air is ! " the voice of Mr. Jones 
said at his elbow. ** This stupid storm gets on my nerves. 
I would welcome some rain, though it would be unpleasant 
to get wet. On the other hand, this exasperating thunder 
has the advantage of covering the sound of our approach. 
The lightning's not so convenient. Ah, your house is fuUy 
illuminated ! My clever Martin is punishing your stock 
of candles. He belongs to the unceremonious classes, 
which are also unlovely, untrustworthy, and so on." 

" I left the candles burning," said Heyst, " to save him 
trouble." 

" You really believed he would go to your house ? " 
asked Mr. Jones with genuine interest. 

" I had that notion, strongly. I do believe he is there 
now." 

" And you don't mind ? " 

*' No ! " 

" You don't ? " Mr. Jones stopped to wonder. " You 
are an extraordinary man," he said suspiciously, and moved 
on, touching elbows with Heyst. 

In the latter' s breast dwelt a deep silence, the complete 
silence of unused faculties. At this moment, by simply 
shouldering Mr. Jones, he could have thrown him down and 
put himself by a couple of leaps, beyond the certain aim 



394 VICTORY 

of the revolver ; but he did not even think of that. His 
very will seemed dead of weariness. He moved automati- 
cally, his head low, like a prisoner captured by the evil 
power of a masquerading skeleton out of the grave. Mr. 
Jones took charge of the direction. They fetched a wide 
sweep. The echoes of distant thunder seemed to dog their 
footsteps. 

" By the by," said Mr. Jones, as if unable to restrain 
his curiosity, " aren't you anxious about that — ouch ! — 
that fascinating creature to whom you owe whatever 
pleasure you can find in our visit ? " 

" I have placed her in safety," said Heyst. " I — I 
took good care of that." 

Mr. Jones laid a hand on his arm. 

" You have ? Look ! Is that what you mean ? " 

Heyst raised his head. In the flicker of lightning the 
desolation of the cleared ground on his left leaped out and 
sank into the night, together with the elusive forms of 
things distant, pale, unearthly. But in the brilliant sqaare 
of the door he saw the girl — the woman he had longed to 
see once more — as if enthroned, with her hands on the arms 
of the chair. She was in black ; her face was white, her 
head dreamily inclined on her breast. He saw her only 
as low as her knees. He saw her — there, in the room, 
alive with a sombre reality. It was no mocking vision. 
She was not in the forest — but there ! She sat there 
in the chair, seemingly without strength, yet without 
fear, tenderly stooping. 

" Can you understand their power ? " whispered the 
hot breath of Mr. Jones into his ear. " Can there be a 
more disgusting spectacle ? It's enough to make the 
earth detestable. She seems to have found her affinity. 
Move on closer. If I have to shoot you in the end, then 
perhaps you will die cured." 



VICTORY 395 

Heyst obeyed the pushing pressure of a revolver barrel 
between his shoulders. He felt it distinctly, but he did 
not feel the ground under his feet. They found the steps, 
without his being aware that he was ascending them — 
slowly, one by one. Doubt entered into him — a doubt 
of a new kind, formless, hideous. It seemed to spread 
itself all over him, enter his limbs, and lodge in his en- 
trails. He stopped suddenly, with a thought that he who 
experienced such a feeling had no business to live — or 
perhaps was no longer living. 

Everything — the bungalow, the forest, the open ground — 
trembled incessantly ; the earth, the sky itself, shivered 
all the time, and the only thing immovable in the shudder- 
ing universe was the interior of the lighted room and the 
woman in black sitting in the hght of the eight candle- 
flames. They flung around her an intolerable brilliance 
which hurt his eyes, seemed to sear his very brain with the 
radiation of infernal heat. It was some time before his 
scorched eyes made out Ricardo seated on the floor at some 
little distance, his back to the doorway, but only partly 
so ; one side of his upturned face showing the absorbed, 
all-forgetful rapture of his contemplation. 

The grip of Mr. Jones's hard claw drew Heyst back a 
little. In the roll of thunder, swelling and subsiding, he 
whispered in his ear a sarcastic : "Of course I " 

A great shame descended upon Heyst — the shame of 
guilt, absurd and maddening. Mr. Jones drew him still 
farther back into the darkness of the veranda. 

" This is serious," he went on, distilling his ghostly 
venom into Heyst's very ear. " I had to shut my eyes 
many times to his little flings ; but this is serious. He 
has found his soul-mate. Mud souls, obscene and 
cunning ! Mud bodies, too — the mud of the gutter ! 
I tell you, we are no match for the vile populace. I, 



396 VICTORY 

even I, have been nearly caught. He asked me to detain 
you till he gave me the signal. It won't be you that I'll 
have to shoot, but him. I wouldn't trust him near me for 
five minutes after this ! " 

He shook Heyst's arm a little. 

" If you had not happened to mention the creature, 
we should both have been dead before morning. He 
would have stabbed you as you came down the steps 
after leaving me, and then he would have walked up to 
me and planted the same knife between my ribs. He has 
no prejudices. The viler the origin, the greater the freedom 
of these simple souls ! " 

He drew a cautious, hissing breath and added in an 
agitated murmur : "I can see right into his mind ; I 
have been nearly caught napping by his cunning." 

He stretched his neck to peer into the room from the 
side. Heyst, too, made a step forward, under the slight 
impulse of that slender hand clasping his arm with a thin, 
bony grasp. 

** Behold 1 " the skeleton of the crazy bandit jabbered 
thinly into his ear in spectral fellowship. " Behold the 
simple Acis kissing the sandals of the nymph, on the way 
to her hps, all forgetful, while the menacing fife of Poly- 
phemus already sounds close at hand — if he could only 
hear it 1 Stoop a little." 



XII 



ON returning to the Heyst bungalow, rapid as if on 
wings, Ricardo found Lena waiting for him. She 
was dressed in black ; and at once his uplifting exultation 
was replaced by an awed and quivering patience before 
her white face, before the immobility of her reposeful pose, 
the more amazing to him who had encountered the 
strength of her Hmbs and the indomitable spirit in her 
body. She had come out after Heyst's departure, and 
had sat down under the portrait to wait for the return 
of the man of violence and death. While lifting the cur- 
tain, she felt the anguish of her disobedience to her lover, 
which was soothed by a feeling she had known before — 
a gentle flood of penetrating sweetness. She was not 
automatically obeying a momentary suggestion ; she was 
under influences more deliberate, more vague, and of 
greater potency. She had been prompted, not by her 
will, but by a force that was outside of her and more 
worthy. She reckoned upon nothing definite ; she had 
calculated nothing. She saw only her purpose of capturing 
death — savage, sudden, irresponsible death, prowling 
round the man who possessed her ; death embodied 
in the knife ready to strike into his heart. No doubt 
it had been a sin to throw herself into his arms. With 
that inspiration that descends at times from above for the 
good or evil of our common mediocrity, she had a sense of 
having been for him only a violent and sincere choice of 

397 



398 VICTORY 

curiosity and pity — a. thing that passes. She did not 
know him. If he were to go away from her and disappear, 
she would utter no reproach, she would not resent it ; 
for she would hold in herself the impress of something 
most rare and precious — ^his embraces made her own by 
her courage in saving his life. 

All she thought of — the essence of her tremors, her 
flushes of heat, and her shudders of cold — ^was the question 
how to get hold of that knife, the mark and sign of stalking 
death. A tremor of impatience to clutch the frightful 
thing, glimpsed once and unforgettable, agitated her 
hands. 

The instinctive flinging forward of these hands stopped 
Ricardo dead short between the door and her chair, with 
the ready obedience of a conquered man who can bide 
his time. Her success disconcerted her. She listened 
to the man's impassioned transports of terrible eulogy 
and even more awful declarations of love. She was even 
able to meet his eyes, oblique, apt to glide away, throwing 
feral gleams of desire. 

" No ! " he was saying, after a fiery outpouring of 
words in which the most ferocious phrases of love were 
mingled with wooing accents of entreaty. " I will have 
no more of it ! Don't you mistrust me. I am sober in 
my talk. Feel how quietly my heart beats. Ten times 
to-day when you, you, you, swam in my eye, I thought 
it would burst one of my ribs or leap out of my throat. 
It has knocked itself dead tired, waiting for this evening, 
for this very minute. And now it can do no more. Feel 
how quiet it is ! " 

He made a step forward, but she raised her clear voice 
commandingly : 

" No nearer ! " 

He stopped with a smile of imbecile worship on his lips. 



VICTORY 399 

and with the delighted obedience of a man who could 
at any moment seize her in his hands and dash her to the 
ground. 

" Ah ! If I had taken you by the throat that morning 
and had my way with you, I should never have known 
what you are. And now I do. You are a wonder ! 
And so am I, in my way. I have nerve, and I have brains, 
too. We should have been lost many times but for me. 
I plan — I plot for my gentleman. Gentleman — pah ! 
I am sick of him. And you are sick of yours, eh ? You, 
you ! " 

He shook all over ; he cooed at her a string of endearing 
names, obscene and tender, and then asked abruptly : 

" Why don't you speak to me ? " 

" It's my part to listen," she said, giving him an in- 
scrutable smile, with a flush on her cheek and her lips 
cold as ice. 

" But you will answer me ? " 

" Yes," she said, her eyes dilated as if with sudden 
interest. 

" Where's that plunder ? Do you know ? " 

" No ! Not yet." 

" But there is plunder stowed somewhere that's worth 
having ? " 

" Yes, I think so. But who knows ? " she added after 
a pause. 

" And who cares ? " he retorted recklessly. I've 
had enough of this crawling on my belly. It's you who 
are my treasure. It's I who found you out where a gentle- 
man had buried you to rot for his accursed pleasure ! " 

He looked behind him and all around for a seat, then 
turned to her his troubled eyes and dim smile. 

" I am dog-tired," he said, and sat down on the floor. 
" I went tired this morning, since I came in here and 



400 VICTORY 

started talking to you — as tired as if I had been pouring 
my life-blood here on these planks for you to dabble 
your white feet in." 

Unmoved, she nodded at him thoughtfully. Woman- 
like, all her faculties remained concentrated on her heart's 
desire — on the knife — while the man went on babbling 
insanely at her feet, ingratiating and savage, almost 
crazy with elation. But he, too, was holding on to his 
purpose. 

" For you ! For you I will throw away money, lives 
— all the lives but mine ! What you want is a man, a 
master that will let you put the heel of your shoe on his 
neck ; not that skulker, who will get tired of you in a 
year — and you of him. And then what ? You are not the 
one to sit still ; neither am I. I live for myself, and you 
shall live for yourself, too — not for a Swedish baron. 
They make a convenience of people like you and me. 
A gentleman is better than an employer, but an equal 
partnership against all the 'j^pocrits is the thing for you 
and me. We'll go on wandering the world over, you and 
I, both free and both true. You are no cage bird. We'll 
rove together, for we are of them that have no homes. 
We are born rovers ! " 

She listened to him with the utmost attention, as 
if any unexpected word might give her some sort of open- 
ing to get that dagger, that awful knife — to disarm murder 
itself, pleading for her love at her feet. Again she nodded 
at him thoughtfully, rousing a gleam in his yellow eyes, 
yearning devotedly upon her face. When he hitched 
himself a little closer, her soul had no movement of recoil. 
This had to be. Anything had to be which would bring 
the knife within her reach. He talked more confidentially 
now. 

" We have met, and their time has come," he began, 



VICTORY 401 

looking up into her eyes. " The partnership between 
me and my gentleman has to be ripped up. There's no 
room for him where we two are. Why, he would shoot me 
hke a dog ! Don't you worry. This will settle it not later 
than to-night ! " 

He tapped his folded leg below the knee, and was sur- 
prised, flattered, by the lighting up of her face, which 
stooped toward him eagerly and remained expectant, 
the lips girlishly parted, red in the pale face, and quivering 
in the quickened drawing of her breath. 

" You marvel, you miracle, you man's luck and joy 
— one in a million ! No, the only one ! You have found 
your man in me," he whispered tremulously. " Listen ! 
They are having their last talk together ; for I'll do for 
your gentleman, too, by midnight ! " 

Without the slightest tremor she murmured, as soon as 
the tightening of her breast had eased off and the words 
would come : 

" I wouldn't be in too much of a hurry — with him." 

The pause, the tone, had all the value of meditated 
advice. 

" Good, thrifty girl ! " he laughed low, with a .strange 
feline gaiety, expressed by the undulating movement of 
his shoulders and the sparkling snap of his oblique eyes. 
*' You are still thinking about the chance of that swag. 
You'll make a good partner, that you will ! And, I say, 
what a decoy you will make ! Jee-miny ! " 

He was carried away for a moment, but his face darkened 
swiftly. 

" No 1 No reprieve. What do you think a fellow 
is — a scarecrow ? All hat and clothes and no feeling, 
no inside, no brain to make fancies for himself ? No ! " 
he went on violently. " Never in his hfe will he go 

again into that room of yours — never any more ! " 
26 



402 VICTORY 

A silence fell. He was gloomy with the torment of his 
jealousy, and did not even look at her. She sat up and 
slowly, gradually, bent lower and lower over him, as if 
ready to fall into his arms. He looked up at last, and 
checked this droop unwittingly. 

" Say ! You, who are up to fighting a man with your 
bare hands, could you — eh ? — could you manage to stick 
one with a thing like that knife of mine ? " 

She opened her eyes very wide and gave him a wild 
smile. 

" How can I tell ? " she whispered enchantingly. 
" Will you let me have a look at it ? " 

Without taking his eyes from her face, he pulled the 
knife out of its sheath — a short, broad, cruel, double- 
edged blade with a bone handle — and only then looked 
down at it. 

" A good friend," he said simply. " Take it in your hand 
and feel the balance," he suggested. 

At the moment when she bent forward to receive it 
from him, there was a flash of fire in her mysterious eyes — 
a red gleam in the white mist which wrapped the promptings 
and longings of her soul. She had done it ! The very 
sting of death was in her hands ; the venom of the viper 
in her paradise, extracted, safe in her possession — and its 
head all but lying under her heel. Ricardo, stretched on 
the mats of the floor, crept closer and closer to the chair 
in which she sat. 

All her thoughts were busy planning how to keep posses- 
sion of that weapon which had seemed to have drawn into 
itself every danger and menace on the death-ridden earth. 
She said with a low laugh, the exultation in which he failed 
to recognise: 

" I didn't think that you would ever trust me with that 
thing I " 



VICTORY 403 

" Why not ? " 

" For fear I should suddenly strike you with it." 

" What for ? For this morning's work ? Oh, no ! 
There's no spite in you for that. You forgave me. You 
saved me. You got the better of me, too. And anyhow, 
what good would it be ? " 

" No, no good," she admitted. 

In her heart she felt that she would not know how to 
do it ; that if it came to a struggle, she would have to 
drop the dagger and fight with her hands. 

" Listen. When we are going about the world together, 
you shall always call me husband. Do you hear ? " 

" Yes," she said, bracing herself for the contest, in 
whatever shape it was coming. 

The knife was lying in her lap. She let it slip into the 
fold of her dress, and laid her forearms with clasped fingers 
over her knees, which she pressed desperately together. 
The dreaded thing was out of sight at last. She felt a 
dampness break out all over her. 

" I am not going to hide you, Hke that good-for-nothing, 
finicky, sneery gentleman. You shall be my pride and 
my chum. Isn't that better than rotting on an island for 
the pleasure of a gentleman, till he gives you the chuck ? " 

" rU be anything you hke," she said. 

In his intoxication he crept closer with every word she 
uttered, with every movement she made. 

** Give your foot," he begged in a timid murmur, and in 
the full consciousness of his power. 

Anything I Anything to keep murder quiet and dis- 
armed till strength had returned to her limbs and she could 
make up her mind what to do. Her fortitude had been 
shaken by the very facility of success that had come to her. 
She advanced her foot forward a little from under the hem 
of her skirt ; and he threw himself on it greedily. She 



404 VICTORY 

was not even aware of him. She had thought of the forest, 
to which she had been told to run. Yes, the forest — that 
was the place for her to carry off the terrible spoil, the sting 
of vanquished death. Ricardo, clasping her ankle, pressed 
his lips time after time to the instep, muttering gasping 
words that were like sobs, making little noises that resembled 
the sounds of grief and distress. Unheard by them both, 
the thunder growled distantly with angry modulations of its 
tremendous voice, while the world outside shuddered in- 
cessantly around the dead stillness of the room where the 
framed profile of Heyst's father looked severely into space. 

Suddenly Ricardo felt himself spurned by the foot he had 
been cherishing — spurned with a push of such violence 
into the very hollow of his throat that it swung him back 
instantly into an upright position on his knees. He read 
his danger in the stony eyes of the girl ; and in the very 
act of leaping to his feet he heard sharply, detached on the 
comminatory voice of the storm, the brief report of a shot 
which half stunned him, in the manner of a blow. He 
turned his burning head, and saw Heyst towering in the 
doorway. The thought that the beggar had started to 
prance darted through his mind. For a fraction of a second 
his distracted eyes sought for his weapon all over the floor. 
He couldn't see it. 

" Stick him, you ! " he called hoarsely to the girl, and 
dashed headlong for the door of the compound. 

While he thus obeyed the instinct of self-preservation, 
his reason was telling him that he could not possibly reach 
it ahve. It flew open, however, with a crash, before his 
launched weight, and instantly he swung it to behind him. 
There, his shoulder leaning against it, his hands clinging to 
the handle, dazed and alone in the night full of shudders 
and muttered menaces, he tried to pull himself together. 
He asked himself if he had been shot at more than once. 



VICTORY 405 

His shoulder was wet with the blood trickling from his 
head. Feeling above his ear, he ascertained that it was 
only a graze, but the shock of the surprise had unmanned 
him for the moment. 

What the deuce was the governor about, to let the 
beggar break loose hke this ? Or — was the governor 
dead, perhaps ? 

The silence within the room awed him. Of going back 
there could be no question. 

" But she knows how to take care of herself," he 
muttered. 

She had his knife. It was she now who was deadly, while 
he was disarmed, no good for the moment. He stole away 
from the door, staggering, the warm trickle running down 
his neck, to find out what had become of the governor and 
to provide himself with a firearm from the armoury in the 
trunks. 



XIII 



MR. JONES, after firing his shot over Heyst's shoulder, 
had thought it proper to dodge away. Like the 
spectre he was, he had noiselessly vanished from the ver- 
anda. Heyst stumbled into the room and looked around. 
All the objects in there — the books, the gleam of old silver 
familiar to him from boyhood, the very portrait on the 
wall — seemed shadowy, unsubstantial, the dumb accom- 
plices of an amazing dream-plot ending in an illusory effect 
of awakening and the impossibility of ever closing his eyes 
again. With dread he forced himself to look at the girl. 
Still in the chair, she was leaning forward far over her 
knees, and had hidden her face in her hands. Heyst 
remembered Wang suddenly. How clear all this was — 
and how extremely amusing ! Very. 

She sat up a little, then leaned back, and, taking her 
hands from her face, pressed both of them to her breast, 
as if moved to the heart by seeing him there looking at her 
with a black, horror-struck curiosity. He would have 
pitied her, if the triumphant expression of her face had 
not given him a shock which destroyed the balance of 
his feelings. She spoke with an accent of wild joy : 

" I knew you would come back in time ! You are safe 
now. I have done it ! I would never, never have let 
him — " Her voice died out, while her eyes shone at him 
as when the sun breaks through a mist. " Never get it 

back. Oh, my beloved ! " 

406 



VICTORY 407 

He bowed his head gravely, and said in his poUte. 
Heystian tone : 

" No doubt you acted from instinct. Women have been 
provided with their own weapon. I was a disarmed man, 
I have been a disarmed man all my life as I see it now. 
You may glory in your resourcefulness and your profound 
knowledge of yourself ; but I may say that the other 
attitude, suggestive of shame, had its charm. For you 
are full of charm ! " 

The exultation vanished from her face. 

" You mustn't make fun of me now. I know no shame. 
I was thanking God with all my sinful heart for having 
been able to do it — for giving you to me in that way — oh, 
my beloved — all my own at last ! " 

He stared as if mad. Timidly she tried to excuse 
herself for disobeying his directions for her safety. Every 
modulation of her enchanting voice cut deep into his very 
breast, so that he could hardly understand the words for 
the sheer pain of it. He turned his back on her ; but a 
sudden drop, an extraordinary faltering of her tone, made 
him spin round. On her white neck her pale head dropped 
as in a cruel drought a withered flower droops on its 
stalk. He caught his breath, looked at her closely, and 
seemed to read some awful inteUigence in her eyes. At 
the moment when her eyeUds fell as if smitten from above 
by an invisible power, he snatched her up bodily out of 
the chair, and disregarding an unexpected metallic clatter 
on the floor, carried her off into the other room. The 
limpness of her body frightened him. Laying her down 
on the bed, he ran out again, seized a four-branched 
candlestick on the table, and ran back, tearing down with 
a furious jerk the curtain that swung stupidly in his way ; 
but after putting the candlestick on the table by the bed, 
he remained absolutely idle. There did not seem any- 



4o8 VICTORY 

thing more for him to do. Holding his chin in his hand, 
he looked down intently at her still face. 

*' Has she been stabbed with this thing ? " asked 
Davidson, whom suddenly he saw standing by his side 
and holding up Ricardo's dagger to his sight. Heyst 
uttered no word of recognition or surprise. He gave 
Davidson only a dumb look of unutterable awe ; then, as 
if possessed with a sudden fury, started tearing open the 
front of the girl's dress. She remained insensible under 
his hands, and Heyst let out a groan which made Davidson 
shudder inwardly — the heavy plaint of a man who falls 
clubbed in the dark. 

They stood side by side, looking mournfully at the Uttle 
black hole made by Mr. Jones's bullet under the swelling 
breast of a dazzHng and as it were sacred whiteness. It 
rose and fell slightly — so slightly that only the eyes of 
the lover could detect the faint stir of life. Heyst, calm 
and utterly unlike himself in the face, moving about 
noiselessly, prepared a wet cloth, and laid it on the insig- 
nificant wound, round which there was hardly a trace of 
blood to mar the charm, the fascination, of that mortal 
flesh. 

Her eyeUds fluttered. She looked drowsily about, 
serene, as if fatigued only by the exertions of her tremendous 
victory, capturing the very sting of death in the service 
of love. But her eyes became very wide awake when they 
caught sight of Ricardo's dagger, the spoil of vanquished 
death, which Davidson was still holding unconsciously. 

" Give it to me ! " she said. " It's mine." 

Davidson put the symbol of her victory into her feeble 
hands extended to him with the innocent gesture of a 
child reaching eagerly for a toy. 

For you," she gasped, turning her eyes to Heyst. 

Kill nobody." 






VICTORY 409 

" No," said Heyst, taking the dagger and la5dng it 
gently on her breast, while her hands fell powerless by 
her side. 

The faint smile on her deep-cut Ups waned, and her 
head sank deep into the pillow, taking on the majestic 
pallor and immobility of marble. But over the muscles, 
which seemed set in their transfigured beauty for ever, 
passed a slight and awful tremor. With an amazing 
strength she asked loudly : 

" What's the matter with me ? " 

" You have been shot, dear Lena," Heyst said in a 
steady voice, while Davidson, at the question, turned away 
and leaned his forehead against the post at the foot of 
the bed. 

" Shot ? I did think, too, that something had struck 
me. 

Over Samburan the thunder had ceased to growl at 
last, and the world of material forms shuddered no more 
under the emerging stars. The spirit of the girl which 
was passing away from under them clung to her triumph, 
convinced of the reality of her victory over death. 

" No more," she muttered. " There will be no more ! 
Oh, my beloved," she cried weakly, ** I've saved you I 
Why don't you take me into your arms and carry me out 
of this lonely place ? " 

Heyst bent low over her, cursing his fastidious soul, 
which even at that moment kept the true cry of love 
from his lips in its infernal mistrust of all life. He dared 
not touch her, and she had no longer the strength to throw 
her arms about his neck. 

" Who else could have done this for you ? " she whispered 
gloriously. 

** No one in the world," he answered her in a murmur 
of unconcealed despair. 



410 VICTORY 

She tried to raise herself, but all she could do was to 
lift her head a Httle from the pillow. With a terrified 
and gentle movement, Heyst hastened to slip his arm 
under her neck. She felt relieved at once of an intolerable 
weight, and was content to surrender to him the infinite 
weariness of her tremendous achievement. Exulting, she 
saw herself extended on the bed, in a black dress, and 
profoundly at peace ; while, stooping over her with a 
kindly, playful smile, he was ready to lift her up in his 
firm arms and take her into the sanctuary of his innermost 
heart — for ever ! The flush of rapture flooding her whole 
being broke out in a smile of innocent, girlish happiness ; 
and with that divine radiance on her Hps she breathed her 
last, triumphant, seeking for his glance in the shades of 
death. 



XIV 

"■\7'ES, Excellency," said Davidson in his placid voice ; 

i " there are more dead in this affair — more white 
people, I mean — than have been killed in many of the 
battles of the last Achin war." 

Davidson was talking with an Excellency, because 
what was alluded to in conversation as " the mystery of 
Samburan " had caused such a sensation in the Archi- 
pelago that even those in the highest spheres were anxious 
to hear something at first hand. Davidson had been 
summoned to an audience. It was a high official on his 
tour. 

" You knew the late Baron Heyst well ? " 

" The truth is that nobody out here can boast of having 
known him well," said Davidson. " He was a queer 
chap. I doubt if he himself knew how queer he was. 
But everybody was aware that I was keeping my eye 
on him in a friendly way. And that's how I got the 
warning which made me turn round in my tracks in the 
middle of my trip and steam back to Samburan, where, I 
am grieved to say, I arrived too late." 

Without enlarging very much, Davidson explained to 
the attentive Excellency how a woman, the wife of a 
certain hotel-keeper named Schomberg, had overheard 
two card-sharping rascals making inquiries from her 
husband as to the exact position of the island. She 
caught only a few words referring to the neighbouring 

4" 



412 VICTORY 

volcano, but these were enough to arouse her suspicions — 
** which," went on Davidson, " she imparted to me, your 
Excellency. They were only too well founded ! " 

" That was very clever of her," remarked the great man. 

" She's much cleverer than people have any conception 
of," said Davidson. 

But he refrained from disclosing to the Excellency the 
real cause which had sharpened Mrs. Schomberg's wits. 
The poor woman was in mortal terror of the girl being 
brought back within reach of her infatuated Wilhelm. 
Davidson only said that her agitation had impressed him ; 
but he confessed that while going back, he began to have 
his doubts as to there being anything in it. 

" I steamed into one of those silly thunderstorms that 
hang about the volcano, and had some trouble in making 
the island," narrated Davidson. " I had to grope my 
way dead slow into Diamond Bay. I don't suppose that 
anybody, even if looking out for me, could have heard 
me let go the anchor." 

He admitted that he ought to have gone ashore at 
once ; but everything was perfectly dark and absolutely 
quiet. He felt ashamed of his impulsiveness. What a 
fool he would have looked, waking up a man in the middle 
of the night just to ask him if he was all right ! And then, 
the girl being there, he feared that Heyst would look 
upon his visit as an unwarrantable intrusion. 

The first intimation he had of there being something 
wrong was a big white boat, adrift, with the dead body 
of a very hairy man inside, bumping against the bows of 
his steamer. Then indeed he lost no time in going ashore 
— alone, of course, from motives of delicacy. 

" I arrived in time to see that poor girl die, as I 
have told your Excellency," pursued Davidson. " I won't 
tell you what a time I had with him afterward. He talked 



(( ( 
(( ( 



VICTORY 413 

to me. His father seems to have been a crank, and to 
have upset his head when he was young. He was a queer 
chap. Practically the last words he said to me, as we 
came out on the veranda, were : 

** ' Ah, Davidson, woe to the man whose heart has 
not learned while young to hope, to love — and to put 
its trust in life ! ' 

" As we stood there, just before I left him, for he said 
he wanted to be alone with his dead for a time, we heard 
a snarly sort of voice near the bushes by the shore calling 
out : 

Is that you, governor ? ' 
Yes, it's me.' 

" ' Jeeminy ! I thought the beggar had done for you. 
He has started prancing and nearly had me. I have 
been dodging around, looking for you ever since.' 

" ' Well, here I am,' suddenly screamed the other voice, 
and then a shot rang out. 

" * This time he has not missed him,' Heyst said to me 
bitterly, and went back into the house. 

" I returned on board as he had insisted I should do. 
I didn't want to intrude on his grief. Later, about five 
in the morning, some of my calashes came running to me, 
yelling that there was a fire ashore. I landed at once, of 
course. The principal bungalow was blazing. The heat 
drove us back. The other two houses caught one after 
another like kindling-wood. There was no going beyond 
the shore end of the jetty till the afternoon." 

Davidson sighed placidly. 

" I suppose you are certain that Baron Heyst is dead ? " 

** He is — ashes, your Excellency," said Davidson, 
wheezing a little ; "he and the girl together. I suppose 
he couldn't stand his thoughts before her dead body — 
and fire purifies everything. That Chinaman of whom 



414 VICTORY 

I told your Excellency helped me to investigate next 
day, when the embers got cooled a little. We found 
enough to be sure. He's not a bad Chinaman. He told 
me that he had followed Heyst and the girl through the 
forest from pity, and partly out of curiosity. He watched 
the house till he saw Heyst go out, after dinner, and 
Ricardo come back alone. While he was dodging there, 
it occurred to him that he had better cast the boat adrift, 
for fear those scoundrels should come round by water 
and bombard the village from the sea with their revolvers 
and Winchesters. He judged that they were devils enough 
for anything. So he walked down the wharf quietly ; and 
as he got into the boat, to cast her off, that hairy man 
who, it seems, was dozing in her, jumped up growling, 
and Wang shot him dead. Then he shoved the boat 
off as far as he could and went away." 

There was a pause. Presently Davidson went on, in his 
tranquil manner : 

" Let Heaven look alter what has been purified. The 
wind and rain will take care of the ashes. The carcass of 
that follower, secretary, or whatever the unclean ruffian 
called himself, I left where it lay, to swell and rot in the 
sun. His principal had shot him neatly through the 
heart. Then, apparently, this Jones went down the 
wharf to look for the boat and for the hairy man. I 
suppose he tumbled into the water by accident — or 
perhaps not by accident. The boat and the man were 
gone, and the scoundrel saw himself all alone, his game 
clearly up, and fairly trapped. Who knows ? The water's 
very clear there, and I could see him huddled up on the 
bottom between two piles, like a heap of bones in a blue 
silk bag, with only the head and the feet sticking out. 
Wang was very pleased when we discovered him. That 
made everything safe, he said, and he went at once over 



VICTORY 415 

the hill to fetch his Alfuro woman back to the 
hut." 

Davidson took out his handkerchief to wipe the perspira- 
tion off his forehead. 

" And then, your Excellency, I went away. There was 
nothing to be done there." 

" Clearly," assented the Excellency. 

Davidson, thoughtful, seemed to weigh the matter 
in his mind, and then murmured with placid sadness : 

" Nothing ! " 



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