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1 he Yellow Boo 

An Illustrated (Quarterly 

Volume X July 1896 

r i c e 


London: John Lane 








I. Dogs, Cats, Books, a.nd\ 
the Average Man) 
II. An Idyll in Millinery 

III. D Outre tombe 

IV. The Invisible Prince 

V. An Emblem of Translation 

VI. La Goya : a Passion of] 
the Peruvian Desert) 
VII. A Lady Loved a Rose 
VIII. Our River 
IX. Kathy .... 
X. Sub Tegmine Fagi . 
XI. Finger-Posts 
XII. Lucretia .... 

XIII. The Serjeant-at-Law 

XIV. Night and Love 
XV. Two Stories . 

XVI. Prince Alberic and the\ 
Snake Lady) 

By "The Yellow Dwarf" Tagc 1 1 

Menie Muriel Dowie . 24. 

Rosamund Marriott- Wat 
son .... 54 

Henry Harland . . 59 

Richard Garnett, C.B., 

LL.D. ... 88 

Samuel Mathewson Scott 95 

Renee de Coutans . .167 

Mrs. Murray Hickson . 169 

Oswald Sickert . 179 

Marie Clothilde Balfour . 199 

Eva Gore-Booth . .214 

K. ^Douglas King . .223 

Francis Watt . . . 245 

Ernest Wentworth . .259 

Ella D Arcy . . .265 

Vernon Lee . . . 289 

The Yellow Book Vol. X July, 1896 



I. A Dutch Woman 
II. Babies and Brambles 

III. The Dew 

IV. Ysighlu . 
V. A Dream 

VI. Mother and Child . 
VII. Ill Omen 
VIII. The Sleeping Princess 
IX. Dieppe Castle . . \ 
X. The Butterflies 
XI. The Five Sweet Symphonies 
XII. Barren Life . 
XIII. Windermere 

. By Mrs. Stanhope Forbes f"gt 7 
Katharine Cameron . 55 

J. Herbert McNair . . 89 
Margaret Macdonald . 162 


Frances Macdonald 

D. Y. Cameron 

Nellie Syrett . 
Laurence Housman 
Charles Conder 




The Title-page and Front Cover Design are 

The Yellow Book 

Volume X July, 1896 

The Editor of THE YELLOW BOOK advises all persons 
sending manuscripts to keep copies, as, for the future, 
unsolicited contributions cannot be returned. To this 
rule no exception will be made. 

The Yellow 




The Yellow Book 

An Illustrated Quarterly 
Volume X July, 1896 

London : John Lane, The Bodley Head, Vigo Street 
Boston : Copeland <y Day 

Dogs, Cats, Books, and 
the Average Man 
A Letter to the Editor 

From "The Yellow Dwarf" 

SIR : 
I hope you will not suspect me of making a bid for his 
affection, when I remark that the Average Man loves the Obvious. 
By consequence (for, like all unthinking creatures, the duffer s 
logical), by consequence, his attitude towards the Subtle, the 
Elusive, when not an attitude of mere torpid indifference, is an 
attitude of positive distrust and dislike. 

Of this ignoble fact, pretty nearly everything -"from the 
popularity of beer and skittles, to the popularity of Mr. Hall 
Caine s novels ; from the general s distaste for caviare, to the 
general s neglect of Mr. Henry James s tales pretty nearly every 
thing is a reminder. But, to go no further afield, for the moment, 
than his own hearthrug, may I ask you to consider a little the 
relative positions occupied in the Average Man s regard by the 
Dog and the Cat ? 

The Average Man ostentatiously loves the Dog. 

The Average Man, when he is not torpidly indifferent to that 
princely animal, positively distrusts and dislikes the Cat. 

I have used the epithet "princely" with intention, in speaking 


Dogs, Cats, Books, and 
the Average Man 
A Letter to the Editor 

From "The Yellow Dwarf" 

SIR : 
I hope you will not suspect me of making a bid for his 
affection, when I remark that the Average Man loves the Obvious. 
By consequence (for, like all unthinking creatures, the duffer s 
logical), by consequence, his attitude towards the Subtle, the 
Elusive, when not an attitude of mere torpid indifference, is an 
attitude of positive distrust and dislike. 

Of this ignoble fact, pretty nearly everything from the 
popularity of beer and skittles, to the popularity of Mr. Hall 
Caine s novels ; from the general s distaste for caviare, to the 
general s neglect of Mr. Henry James s tales pretty nearly every 
thing is a reminder. But, to go no further afield, for the moment, 
than his own hearthrug, may I ask you to consider a little the 
relative positions occupied in the Average Man s regard by the 
Dog and the Cat ? 

The Average Man ostentatiously loves the Dog. 

The Average Man, when he is not torpidly indifferent to that 
princely animal, positively distrusts and dislikes the Cat. 

I have used the epithet "princely" with intention, in speaking 


12 A Letter to the Editor 

of the near relative of the King of Beasts. The Cat is a Princess 
of the Blood. Yes, my dear, always a Princess, though the 
Average Man, with his unerring instinct for the malappropriate 
word, sometimes names her Thomas. The Cat is always a 
Princess, because everything nice in this world, everything fine, 
sensitive, distinguished, everything beautiful, everything worth 
while, is of essence Feminine, though it may be male by the 
accident of sex ; and that s as true as gospel, let Mr. W. E. 
Henley s lusty young disciples shout their loudest in celebration 
of the Virile. The Cat is a Princess. 

The Dog, on the contrary, is not even a gentleman. Far 
otherwise. His admirers may do what they will to forget it, the 
circumstance remains, writ large in every Natural History, that 
the Dog is sprung from quite the meanest family of the Quad 
rupeds. That coward thief the wolf is his bastard brother ; the 
carrion hyena is his cousin-german. And in his person, as in his 
character, bears he not an hundred marks of his base descent ? In 
his rough coat (contrast it with the silken mantle of the Cat) ; in 
his harsh, monotonous voice (contrast it with the flexible organ of 
the Cat, her versatile mewings, chirrupings, and purrings, and 
their innumerable shades and modulations) ; in the stiff-jointed 
clumsiness of his movements (compare them to the inexpressible 
grace and suppleness of the Cat s) ; briefly, in the all-pervading 
plebeian commonness that hangs about him like an atmosphere 
(compare it to the high-bred reserve and dignity that invest the 
Cat). The wolf s brother, is the Dog not himself a coward ? 
Watch him when, emulating the ruffian who insults an un 
protected lady, he puts a Cat to flight in the streets : watch him 
when the lady halts and turns. Faugh, the craven ! with his 
wild show of savagery so long as there is not the slightest danger 
and his sudden chopfallen drawing back when the lady halts and 

turns ! 

From "The Yellow Dwarf 13 

turns ! The hyena s cousin, is he not himself of carrion an 
impassioned amateur ? At Constantinople he serves ( tis a labour 
of love ; he receives no stipend) he serves as Public Scavenger, 
swallowing with greed the ordures cast by the Turk. Scripture 
tells us to what he returneth : who has failed to observe that he 
returneth not to his own alone ? And the other day, strolling 
upon the sands by the illimitable sea, I came upon a friend and 
her pet terrier. She was holding the little beggar by the scruff of 
his neck, and giving him repeated sousings in a pool. I stood a 
pleased spectator of this exercise, for the terrier kicked and 
spluttered and appeared to be unhappy. " He found a decaying 
jelly-fish below there, and rolled in it," my friend pathetically 
explained. I should like to see the Cat who could be induced to 
roll in a decaying jelly-fish. The Cat s fastidiousness, her 
meticulous cleanliness, the time and the pains she bestows upon 
her toilet, and her almost morbid delicacy about certain more 
private errands, are among the material indications of her patrician 
nature. It were needless to allude to the vile habits and impudicity 
of the Dog. 

Have you ever met a Dog who wasn t a bounder ? Have you 
ever met a Dog who wasn t a bully, a sycophant, and a snob ? 
Have you ever met a Cat who was ? Have you ever met a Cat 
who would half frighten a timid little girl to death, by rushing at 
her and barking ? Have you ever met a Cat who, left alone with 
a visitor in your drawing-room, would truculently growl and show 
her teeth, as often as that visitor ventured to stir in his chair ? 
Have you ever met a Cat who would snarl and snap at the 
servants, Mawster s back being turned ? Have you ever met a 
Cat who would cringe to you and fawn to you, and kiss the hand 
that smote her ? 

Conscious of her high lineage, the Cat understands and accepts 


14 A Letter to the Editor 

the responsibilities that attach to it. She knows what she owes to 
herself, to her rank, to the Royal Idea. Therefore, it is you who 
must be the courtier. The Dog, poor-spirited toady, will study 
your eye to divine your mood, and slavishly adapt his own mood 
and his behaviour to it. Not so the Cat. As between you and 
her, it is you who must do the toadying. A guest in the house, 
never a dependent, she remembers always the courtesy and the 
consideration that are her due. You must respect her pleasure. 
Is it her pleasure to slumber, and do you disturb her : note the 
disdainful melancholy with which she silently comments your 
rudeness. Is it her pleasure to be grave : tempt her to frolic, you 
will tempt in vain. Is it her pleasure to be cold : nothing in 
human possibility can win a caress from her. Is it her pleasure to 
be rid of your presence : only the physical influence of a closed 
door will persuade her to remain in the room with you. It is 
you who must be the courtier, and wait upon her desire. 

But then ! 

When, in her own good time, she chooses to unbend, how 
graciously, how entrancingly, she does it ! Oh, the thousand 
wonderful lovelinesses and surprises of her play ! The wit, the 
humour, the imagination, that inform it ! Her ruses, her false 
leads, her sudden triumphs, her feigned despairs ! And the 
topazes and emeralds that sparkle in her eyes ; the satiny lustre of 
her apparel ; the delicious sinuosities of her body ! And her 
parenthetic interruptions of the game : to stride in regal progress 
round the apartment, flourishing her tail like a banner : or 
coquettishly to throw herself in some enravishing posture at 
length upon the carpet at your feet : or (if she loves you) to leap 
upon your shoulder, and press her cheek to yours, and murmur 
rapturous assurances of her passion ! To be loved by a Princess ! 
Whosoever, from the Marquis de Carabas down, has been loved 


From "The Yellow Dwarf 15 

by a Cat, has savoured that felicity. My own particular treasure 
of a Cat, at this particular moment is lying wreathed about my 
neck, watching my pen as it moves along the paper, and purring 
approbation of my views. But when, from time to time, I 
chance to use a word that doesn t strike her altogether as the 
fittest, she reaches down her little velvet paw, and dabs it out. I 
should like to see the Dog who could do that. 

But the Cat is subtle, the Cat is elusive, the Cat is not to be 
read at a glance, the Cat is not a simple equation. And so the 
Average Man, gross mutton-devouring, money-grubbing mechan 
ism that he is, when he doesn t just torpidly tolerate her, distrusts 
her and dislikes her. A great soul, misappreciated, misunderstood, 
she sits neglected in his chimney-corner ; and the fatuous idgit 
never guesses how she scorns him. 

But the Dog is obvious. Any fool can grasp the meaning of 
the Dog. And the Average Man, accordingly, recreant for once 
to the snobbism which is his religion, hugs the hyena s cousin to his 

What of it ? 

Only this : that in the Average Man s sentimental attitude 
towards the Dog and the Cat, we have a formula, a symbol, for 
his sentimental attitude towards many things, especially for his 
sentimental attitude towards Books. 

Some books, in their uncouthness, their awkwardness, their 
boisterousness, in their violation of the decencies of art, in their 
low truckling to the tastes of the purchaser, in their commonness, 
their vulgarity, in their total lack of suppleness and distinction, 
are the very Dogs of Bookland. The Average Man loves em. 
Such as they are, they re obvious. 

And other books, by reason of their beauties and their virtues, 


1 6 A Letter to the Editor 

their graces and refinements ; because they are considered 
finished ; because they are delicate, distinguished, aristocratic ; 
because their touch is light, their movement deft and fleet ; 
because they proceed by omission, by implication and suggestion ; 
because they employ the demi-mot and the nuance; because, in 
fine, they are Subtle other books are the Cats of Bookland. 
And the Average Man hates them or ignores them. 

Yes. Literature broadly divides itself into Cat-Literature, 
despised and rejected of the Average Man, and Dog-Literature, 
adopted and petted by him. What is more like the ponderous, 
slow-strutting, dull-witted Mastiff, than the writing of our 
tedious friend Mr. Caine ? What more like a formless, undipped 
white Poodle, with pink eyes, than the gushing of Miss Corelli ? 
In the lucubrations of Mr. J. K. Jerome and his School, do we 
not recognise the Dog of the Public House, grinning and 
wagging his tail and performing his round of inexpensive tricks 
for whoso will chuck him a biscuit ? And in the long-drawn 
bellowings of Dr. Nordau, hear we not the distempered Hound 
complaining to the moon ? The books of Mr. Conan Doyle are 
as a litter of assorted Mongrels, going cheap regardez mot leurs 
pattes ! Mr. Anthony Hope produces the smart Fox Terrier ; 
Mr. George Moore, the laborious Dachshund ; whilst Messrs. 
Crockett and MacLaren breed you the sanctimonious Collie. 
To cross the Channel, for an instant, we find the works of Mons. 
Crapule Mendes, poking their noses into whatever nastiness is 
going, and doing the other usual canine thing. And then, to 
come back to England, and to turn our attention upon Journal 
ism, we mustn t forget Mr, Punch s collaborator Toby ; nor 
Lo-Ben, the former ruling spirit of the Pall Mall Gazette; 
nor the Jackals and Pariahs of Lower Grubb Street ; nor the 
Butcher s Dog, whose carnivorous yawling is the predominant 


From "The Yellow Dwarf 17 

note of a certain sixpenny weekly, which I will not advertise by 

Cat-Literature, in the nature of things, it is less easy to put 
one s finger on. Good books have such an unpleasant way of 
being rare. Still, in Paris, there are MM. France, Bourget, and 
Pierre Loti (oh, that sweet Pierre Loti, with his Moumoutte 
Blanche and his Moumoutte Chinoise!); and, in England, at 
least two or three Literary Cats are born every year. There are 
many sorts of Cats, to be sure ; and some Cats are not so nice as 
other Cats ; but even the shabbiest, drabbiest Cat, lurking in the 
area, is interesting to those who have learned the Cat language, 
and so can commune with her. That is one of the prettiest 
differences between the Dog and the Cat : the Dog will learn 
your language, but you must learn the Cat s. Dog-Literature is 
written in the language of the Average Man, a crude, unlovely 
language, necessarily. Cat-Literature is written in a complex 
shaded language all its own, which the Average Man is too stupid 
or too indolent to learn. 

Yes, even in poor old England, we may be thankful, a Literary 
Cat is born two or three times a year. Miss Dowie and Miss 
D Arcy, Mr. Grahame, Mrs. Meynell, Mr. Crackanthorpe they 
are among the most careful and successful of our native breeders. 
Mr. Harland has given us some very pretty Grey Kittens ; and 
for the artificially educated Cat, in green apron and periwig, we 
naturally turn to Mr. Beerbohm - - whose collected works, by 
the bye, I am glad to see have at last been published, accompanied 
by a charming Cat-like bibliography and preface from the hand of 
Mr. Lane. But of course, in any proper Cat Show, the Cats of 
Mr. Henry James would carry off the special grand prix d honneur. 
And now, Mr. Editor, these philosophical reflections may be 
not inappositely punctuated by a piece of news. 

I beg 

1 8 A Letter to the Editor 

I beg to announce to you the recent appearance in Cat-Literature 
of a highly curious and diverting sport or variation. Perhaps your 
attention has already been directed to it ? Have you seen March 
Hares ? 

March Hares, by George Forth, is a most spirited, lithe-limbed, 
and surprising Cat. It will mystify and irritate the Average Man, 
as much as it will rejoice his betters. He will discover that he 
has been made a fool of, at the end of every bout ; for it is Cat s 
play perpetually a malicious sequence of ruses and false leads. 
He will declare that it is madder even than its name, for the 
method that governs its capricious pirouettings is a method much 
too subtle for his coarse senses to apprehend. Indeed, I can almost 
hope that March Hares was conceived and brought to parturition, 
for the deliberate purpose of giving the Average Man a headache. 
If it were frank Opera-bouffe, he wouldn t mind ; but it is Opera- 
bouffe masquerading as legitimate drama. The Average Man will 
take it seriously and presently begin to stare and swear. He will 
feel as if Harlequin were circling round him, jeering at him and 
flouting him, making disrespectful gestures in his face, whacking 
his skull with wooden sword, and throwing his sluggish intellects 
promiscuously into a whirl of bewilderment and anger. 

Mr. David Mosscrop, self-defined as an habitual criminal, is a 
dissipated young Scottish Professor of Culdees, who draws a salary 
of four-hundred odd pounds per annum, and, for forty-nine weeks 
out of the fifty-two, renders no equivalent of service. Accordingly, 
he lives in chambers, at Dunstan s Inn, and lounges at seven 
o clock in the morning of his thirtieth birthday, against the low 
stone parapet of Westminster Bridge, nursing a bad attack of 
vapours, and wondering vaguely whether a chap " who does not 
know enough to keep sober over-night, should not be thrown like 
garbage into the river." 


From "The Yellow Dwarf 19 

What more natural than that he should here encounter a young 
lady "almost tall," with "butter-coloured hair," and treat her to 
an outfit of silk stockings and a pair of patent-leather boots "of 
the best Parisian make" ? Inevitably, after that, he invites her to 
breakfast at an Italian ordinary, where she drinks freely of Chianti 
and Maraschino, and lies to him like fun about her identity and 
her extraction. "My name is Vestalia Peaussier. My father 
was a French gentleman an officer, and a man of position. He 

died killed in a duel when I was very young My 

mother was the daughter of a very old Scottish house." And 
Vestalia has just been turned out of her lodgings for non-payment 
of rent, and insinuates that she is looking to the streets for a 

Mosscrop, properly enough shocked at this, hurries her away 
upon his arm to the British Museum, where he entertains her 
with his ideas about Nero, Richard Cceur de Lion, King John, 
the Monkish Chroniclers, and the lions of Assur-Banipal. She 
listens, with her shoulder against his " but now he has other 
auditors as well." 

" Excuse me, sir," the urgent and anxious voice of a stranger 
says close behind him, " but you seem to be extraordinarily well 
posted indeed on these sculptures here. I hope you will not object 
to my daughter and me standing where we can hear your re 

The stranger is Mr. Skinner, from Paris, Kentucky, U.S.A. 
His daughter, Adele, is a handsome girl with " coal-black tresses," 
who looks askance at the " butter-coloured " locks of Vestalia 

Skinner persists in his advances. " I should delight, sir, to have 
my daughter be privileged to profit by your remarks." David 
speaks somewhat abruptly : " You are certainly welcome, but it 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. B happens 

2o A Letter to the Editor 

happens that I have finished my remarks, as you call them. 
Skinner observes, and the reader will agree with him, that " that s 
too bad 3" for David s remarks were lively and instructive. And 
Skinner, with a view to mutual intellectual improvement, asks 
David to call upon him at the Savoy Hotel. 

Then David and Vestalia lunch together at the Cafe Royal, 
drinking a bottle of 34A, cooled to 48. And then they go to 
Greenwich and eat fish. And at last David conducts her to his 
chambers, and sends her to bed in the room of his absent neigh 
bour Linkhaw, supposed to be seeking recreation in Uganda, or 
* maybe in the Hudson Bay Territory." And Linkhaw, in 
opportune villain, chooses, of course, this night of all nights for 
playing the god from the machine. Footsteps come echoing up 
the staircase. A key rattles in Linkhaw s lock. " Stop that, you 
idiot ! " David commands fiercely. " Ah, Davie, Davie, still at 
the bottle," replies a well known voice from out of the obscurity ; 
and Linkhaw is dragged by Davie into Davie s den. 

From the advent of Linkhaw the plot thickens terribly, the 
Cat s play becomes fast and furious. First of all, Linkhaw isn t 
Linkhaw, but the Earl of Drumpipes, in the Peerage of Scotland. 
And secondly, Vestalia isn t Vestalia, but Linkhaw s thoroughly 
bad lot of a wife, whom he imagines "dead as a mackerel, thank 
God." And thirdly, she isn t either, but the entirely virtuous 
niece of Mr. Skinner, who turns out to be a renegade Englishman 
himself. And Peaussier was only Skinner Gallicised ! Then the 
question rises, Is Mosscrop a gentleman ? Drumpipes, with 
northern caution, admits that he is "a professional man, a person 
of education." It is certain, anyhow, that Drumpipes would be 
blithe to make a Countess of Miss Skinner : she is rich, and she 
is pleasing. Her Popper is in Standard oil. But there are 
democratic prejudices against his title, though David reminds him 


From "The Yellow Dwarf 21 

that it is "nothing better than a Scottish title," and Drainpipes 
retorts that the Pilliewillies were great lords in Slug-Angus 
" before the Campbells were ever heard of, or the Gordons had 
learned not to eat their cattle raw." Whereupon they almost 
come to blows about the compensation to be paid for a ruined 
"moosie." After some persuasion, however, Mosscrop good- 
naturedly consents to assume his friend s embarrassment, and 
while Drumpipes, as Linkhaw, makes love to the dark Adele, 
Mosscrop, as Drumpipes, arranges a coaching-party, a luncheon, 
and a tableau whereof he and Vestalia are the central figures. 
Then the waiter comes in with the tureen ; and the Cat s play is 
ended. Foila^ as the French say, tout. 

March Hares^ by George Forth. Who is George Forth ? 
I ll bet half-a-sovereign that " George Forth " is a pseudonym, 
and that it covers at least two personalities, perhaps three or four. 
If March Hares is not the child of a collaboration, then my eye 
sight is beginning to fail. Who are the collaborators ? Oddly 
enough, they are quite manifestly members of a group I have 
never professed to love they are manifestly pupils of Mr. W. E. 
Henley. I can only gratefully suppose either that the Master s 
influence is waning, or that the Publisher s Adviser pruned their 
manuscript, and the Printer s Reader put the finishing touches to 
their proofs ; for Brutality is absent. I saw it stated in a daily 
paper, a week or so ago, that George Forth was Mr. Harold 
Frederic j but that s a rank impossibility. Mr. Harold Frederic 
has proved that he can cross Bulldogs with Newfoundlands, that 
he can write able, unreadable Illuminations in choice Americanese. 
He could no more flitter and flutter and coruscate, and turn 
somersaults in mid-air, and fall lightly on his feet, in the Cat- 
fashion of George Forth, than he could dance a hornpipe on the 
point of a needle. It is barely conceivable that Mr. Harold 


22 A Letter to the Editor 

Frederic may have been one of the collaborators, but, in that case, 
I ll eat my wig if the others didn t mightily revise his " copy. 
Nenni-da ! George Forth were far more likely to be, in some 
degree, Mr. George Steevens late of the P.M.G., much chastened 
and improved. Perhaps he is also, in some degree, Mr. Marriott 
Watson ? And (cherchez la femme] who knows that a lady may 
not supply an element of his composition ? But these are mere 
conjectures. The long of it is and the short of it is that I m 
devoured by curiosity ; and I ll offer a bottle of his favourite wine 
to any fellow who ll provide me with an authenic version of George 
Forth s " real names." 

You will remember, Mr. Editor, the magnificent retort of the 
French King to the malapert counsellor who ventured to remind 
him of that silly old Latin saw about vox populi and vox Dei. 
With the same splendid and conclusive scorn might you and I 
dismiss the opinions of the Average Man especially his opinions 
about Dogs, Cats, and Books. So long as they remain his own, 
and are not shared by his superiors, they import as little as the 
opinions of the Average Dugong. But the tiresome thing is, 
they are infectious ; and his superiors are constantly exposed to 
the danger of catching them. When he speaks as an individual, 
the Average Man only bores without convincing you. But when 
he speaks by the thousand, somehow or other, he is as like as not 
to set a fashion, or even to establish a tradition. He has already 
established a tradition about Dogs and Cats ; and nowadays he is 
beginning to set the fashion about Books. Nice people are begin 
ning to accept his opinions upon this, the one subject above all 
subjects which he is least qualified to touch. I actually know 
nice people who have read Mr. Conan Doyle ! And I have 
actually met nice people who do not read Mr. Henry James ! 


From "The Yellow Dwarf 23 

And that is all the fault of the Average Man. Why can t the 
dunce be gagged ? Mr. James, for instance, has just published 
a new volume of his incomparable tales. Embarrassments tis 
called. Of course, it must be as a volume composed in Coptic 
for the Average Man ; but nice people would find it a casket of 
inexpressible delights, if only the Average Man could be silenced 
long enough to let them hear of it. For my part, I do what I 
can. I remember the example of Martin Luther, and I hurl my 
ink-pot. But the Devil is still abroad in the world, seeking 
whom he may devour ; and the Average Man will no doubt go 
on gabbling the Devil take him ! 

I have the honour, dear Mr. Editor, to subscribe myself, as 


Your obedient Servant, 


An Idyll in Millinery 

By Menie Muriel Dowie 


THE actual reason why Liphook was there does not matter : 
he was there, and he was there for the second time within 
a fortnight, and on each occasion, as it happened, he was the only 
man in the place the only man-customer in the place. A pale,, 
shaven young Jew passed sometimes about the rooms, in the 

Liphook could not stand still ; the earliest sign of mental 
excitement, this ; if he paused for a moment in front of one of 
the two console tables and glanced into the big mirror, it was 
only to turn the next second and make a step or two this way 
or that upon the spacious-sized, vicious-patterned Axminster 
carpet. His eye wandered, but not without a mark of resolution 
in its wandering resolution not to wander persistently in one 
direction. First the partings in the curtains which ran before 
the windows seemed to attract him, and he glanced into the gay 
grove of millinery that blossomed before the hungry eyes of 
female passers-by in the street. Sometimes he looked through 
the archways that led upon each hand to further salons in which 
little groups of women, customers and saleswomen, were collected. 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 25 

Sometimes his eye rested upon the seven or eight unemployed 
shop-ladies who stood behind the curtains, like spiders, and looked 
with an almost malevolent contemptuousness upon the street 
starers who came not in to buy, but lingered long, and seemed to- 
con the details of attractive models. More than once, a group- 
in either of the rooms fascinated him for full a minute. One 
particularly, because its component parts declared themselves so 
quickly to his apprehension. 

A young woman, with fringe carefully ordered to complete 
formlessness and fuzz, who now sat upon a chair and now rose 
to regard herself in a glass as she poised a confection of the toque 
breed upon her head. With her, a friend, older, of identical 
type, but less serious mien, whose face pringled into vivacious 
comment upon each venture ; comment which of course Liphook 
could not overhear. With them both, an elder lady, to whom 
the shopwoman, a person of clever degage manner and primrose 
hair, principally addressed herself; appealingly, confirmatively,. 
rapturously, critically according to her ideas upon the hat in 
question. In and out of their neighbourhood moved a middle- 
aged woman of French appearance, short-necked, square- 
shouldered, high-busted, with a keen face of chamois leather 
colour and a head to which the black hair seemed to have been 
permanently glued Madame Felise herself. When she threw 
a word into the momentous discussion the eyes of the party 
turned respectfully upon her ; each woman hearkened. Even 
Liphook divined that the girl was buying her trousseau millinery ; 
the older sister, or married friend, advising in crisp, humorous 
fashion, the elder lady controlling, deciding, voicing the great 
essential laws of order, obligation and convention ; the shop- 
woman playing the pipes, the dulcimer, the sackbut, the tabor or 
the viol Madame Felise the while commanding with invisible 


26 An Idyll in Millinery 

baton her intangible orchestra ; directing distantly, but with 
ineludable authority, the very players upon the stage. At this 
moment She turned to him and his attention necessarily left the 
group. How did he find this ? Did he care for the immense 
breadth in front ? Every one in Paris was doing it. Wasn t he 
on the whole a little bit sick of hydrangeas every one, positively 
every one, had hydrangeas just now, and hydrangeas the size 
of cauliflowers. He made replies; he assumed a quiet interest, 
not too strong to be in character ; he steered her away from the 
Parisian breadth in front, away from the hydrangeas, into a con 
sideration of something that rose very originally at the back and 
had a ruche of watercresses to lie upon the hair, and three 
dahlias, and four distinct colours of tulle in aniline shades, one over 
the other, and an osprey, and a bird of Paradise, and a few paste 
ornaments; and a convincing degree of chic in its abandoned 
hideousness. Then he took a turn down the room towards the 
group aforesaid. 

"It looks so fearfully married to have that tinsel crown, don t 
you know ! " the elder sister or youthful matron was saying. "I 
mean, it suggests dull calls, doesn t it ? Dull people always have 
tinsel crowns, haven t you noticed ? I don t want to influence 

* j 

you, but as I said before, I liked you in the Paris model." 

Every hat over which you conspicuously hover at Felise s, 

becomes, on the instant, a Paris model. 

" So smart, Madam," cut in the shop-lady. " And you can t 

have anything newer than that rustic brim in shot straw with 

just the little knot of gardenias at the side. Oh I do think it 

suits you ! " 

Liphook turned away. After all, he didn t want to hear what 

these poor, silly, feeble people were saying ; he wanted to 

look. . . . 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 27 

" But Jim always likes me so much in pale blue, that I think 
" began the girl. 

" Why not have just a little tiny knot of forget-me nots with 
the gardenia. Oh, I m shaw you d like it." 

Thus flowed the oily current of the shop-lady, reaching his ear 
as Liphook returned down the room. He could look again in the 
only direction that won his eyes and his thoughts ; five minutes 
had been killed ; there was time left him yet, for She had just 
been seized with the idea that something with a little more brim 
was really her style. After all, She craved no more than to be 
loose at Felise s, amid the Spring models lit by a palely ardent 
town sun, and Harold s cheque-book looming in the comfortable 
shadow of his pocket. 

At the back of each gilt and mirrored saloon was placed a 
work-table in the manner of all hat-shops surrounded by chairs 
in which, mostly with their backs to the shops sat the girls who 
were making up millinery ; their ages anywhere from sixteen to 
twenty-one. Seldom did the construction of a masterpiece appear 
to concern them ; but they were spangling things ; deftly turning 
loops into bows, curling feathers, binding ospreys into close sheaves; 
their heads all bent over their work, their neat aprons tied with 
tape bows at the back, their dull hair half flowing and half coiled 
the inimitable manner of the London work girl their pale faces 
dimly perceived as they turned and whispered not too noisily: the 
whole thing recalling the soft, quietly murmurous groups of 
pigeons in the streets gathered about the scatterings of a cab- 
horse s nose-bag. Sometimes shop-girls with elaborately distorted 
hair came up and gave them disdainful-seeming orders ; but the 
flock of sober little pigeons murmured and pecked at its work and 
ruffled no plumage of tan-colour or slate. And one of them, 
different from the others how Liphook s eyes, in the brief looks 


28 An Idyll in Millinery 

he allowed himself, ate up the details of her guise. Dressed in 
something dark-blue, it might have been that fitted with a 
difference over her plump little figure; a fine and wide lawn collar 
spread over breast and shoulders ; a smooth head, with no tags and 
ends upon the pale, yellow-tinted brow ; a head as sleek and as 
sweetly-coloured as the coat of the cupboard-mouse ; a face so 
softly indented by its features, so fleckless, so mat in its flat tones, 
so mignon in its delicate lack of prettiness as to be irresistible. 
Lips, a dull greyish-pink, but tenderly curved at the pouting bow 
and faithfully compressed at the dusk-downy corners terribly 
conscientious little lips that seemed as if never could they be kissed 
to lighter humour. Eyes, with pale ash-coloured fringes, neither 
long nor greatly curved, but so shy-shaped as ever eyes were ; eyes 
that could only be imagined by Liphook, and he was sometimes 
of mind that they were that vaporous Autumn blue ; and at other 
times that they were liquid, brook-coloured hazel. 

But this was the maddest obsession that was riding him ! A 
London workgirl in a West-end hat shop, a girl whose voice he had 
never heard, near whom he had never, could never, come. And 
Heaven forbid he should come near her; what did he want with 
her ? Before Heaven, and all these hats and mirrors, Viscount 
Liphook could have sworn he wanted nothing of her. Yet he loved 
her completely, desperately, exclusively. What name was there for 
this feeling other than the name of love ? Soiled with all ignoble 
use, this name of love ; though to do him justice, Liphook was not 
greatly to blame in that matter. He was but little acquainted 
with the word ; he left it out of his affaires fie cceur^ and very 
properly, for it did not enter into them. Still, his feeling for this 
girl, his craving for the sound of her voice, his eye fascinated by 
her smallest movement, his yearning for the sense of her nearer 
presence novel, inexplicable as this all was, might it not be lore? 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 29 

He stood there ; quiet, inexpressive of face, in jealous hope of 
what next ? And then She claimed his attention in a whisper 
which brought her head with its mahogany hair, and her face with 
its ground-rice surface, close to his ear. She said : 

"You don t mind five, eh? It s a model and don t you 
think it becomes me ? I do think this mushroom-coloured velvet 
and just the three green orchids divine and it s really very 
quiet ! " 

He assented, careful to look critically at the hat a clever mass 
of evilly-imagined, ill-assorted absurdities. He had looked too 
long at that work-table, at that figure, at that face he dropped 
into a chair let his stick fall between his knees and cast his eyes 
to the mirror-empanelled ceiling ; there the heads, and feet of the 
passers-by were seething grotesquely in a fashion that recalled the 
Inferno of an old engraving. 

Well, it would be time to look again soon ah ! she had risen ; 
thank goodness, not a tall woman (She was five foot nine) 
small, and indolent of outline. 

" I ll take it to the French milliner now, Madam, and she ll pin 
a pink rose in for you to see ! " 

It was a shop-woman speaking to some customer, who with a 
hat in her hand, approached the work-table. 

" If you please, Mam zelle Melanie," she began, in a voice 
meant to impress the customer, " would you pin in a rose for 
Madam to try ? Madam thinks the pansy rather old-looking " 
&c., &c., &c." 

The French milliner ; French, then ! And what a dear 
innocent, young, crusty little face ! what delicious surliness : the 
little brown bear that she was, growling and grumbling to do a 
favour. Well, bless that woman and the pansy that looked old 
he knew her name ; enough to recognise her by, enough to address 

a note 

30 An Idyll in Millinery 

a note to her and it should be a note ! A note that would bring 
out a star in each grey eye they were grey after all. (The 
grey of a lingering, promising, but unbestowing twilight.) 
Reflecting, but unobservant, his glance left her face and focussed 
the pale, fair, young Jew, who was seated, in frock coat and hat, 
gloating over a pocket-book that had scraps of coloured silk 
and velvet pinned in it. He recalled his wandering senses. 

" How much ? Eight ten?" 

" Well, I ve taken a little black thing as well ; it happens to be 
very reasonable. There, you don t mind ? " Mrs. Percival always 
went upon the principle of appearing to be careful of other 
people s money ; she found she got more of it that way. 

" My dear ! as long as you are pleased ! " It was weeks 
since this tone had been possible to him. He scribbled a cheque 
and they got away. 

" I know I ve been an awful time, old boy," said the mahogany- 
haired one, with rough good humour the good humour of a vain 
woman whose vanity has been fed. " Are you coming ? " 

" Er no ; in fact, I m going out of town, I shan t see you for 
a bit Oh, I wasn t very badly bored, thanks." 

She made no comment on his reply to her question ; her coarsely 
pretty face hardly showed lines of relief, for it was not a mobile 
face ; but she was pleased. 

"Glad you didn t fret. I d never dreamt you d be so good 
about shopping. Yes, I ll take a cab. There is a call for 12.30, 
and I see it is nearly one now." 

He put her into a nice-looking hansom, lifted his hat and 
watched her drive away. Then he turned and looked into the 
gaudy windows. His feelings were his own somehow, now that 
She had left him. He smiled ; love warmed in him. Was the 
old pansv gone and the pink rose in its place ? Had she pricked 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 31 

those creamy yellow fingers in the doing of it ? No, she was 
too deft. Tired, flaccid little fingers ! Was he never to think 
of anything or anyone again, except Mam zelle Melanie ? 


Now the mahogany-haired lady was not an actress : she was 
nothing so common as an actress ; she belonged to a mysterious 
class, but little understood, even if clearly realised, by the public. It 
was not because she could not that she did not act ; she had never 
tried to, there had been no question of capability but she con 
sented to appear at a famous West-end burlesque theatre, to 
oblige the manager who was a personal friend of long-standing. 
She " went on " in the ball-room scene of a hoary but ever- 
popular " musical comedy," because there was not a part but 
a pretty gown to be filled, and because she was surprisingly 
handsome, and of very fine figure, and filled that gown amazingly 
well. The two guineas a week that came her way at " Treasury " 
went a certain distance in gloves and cab-fares, and the neces 
saries of life she had a different means of supplying. Let her 
position be understood : she was a very respectable person : there 
are degrees in respectability as in other things ; there was no fear 
of vulgar unpleasantnesses with her and her admirers if she had 
them. Mr. John Holditch, the popular manager of several 
theatres had a real regard for her ; in private she called him 
"Jock, old boy," and he called her " Mill " because he recollected 
her debut ; but the public knew her as Miss Mildred Metcalf, and 
her lady comrades in the dressing-room as Mrs. Percival, and it 
was generally admitted by all concerned that she was equally 
satisfactory under any of these styles. Oh, it will have been 


32 An Idyll in Millinery 

noticed and need not be insisted on, that Liphook called her 
" my dear," and if it be not pushing the thing too far, I may add 
that her mother spoke of her as "our Florrie." 

Liphook was a rich man whose occupation, when he was in 
town, was the dividing of days between the club, his rooms in 
Half Moon Street, his mother s house in Belgrave Square, and 
Mrs. PercivaPs abode in Manfield Gardens, Kensington. The 
only respect in which he differed from a thousand men of his 
class was, that he had visited the hat shop of Madame Felise, in 
the company of Mrs. Percival, and had conceived a genuine 
passion for a little French milliner who sewed spangles on to 
snippets of nothingness at a table in the back of the shop. 

The note had been written, had been answered. This answer, 
in fine, sloping, uneducated French handwriting, upon thin, 
lined, pink paper of the foreign character, had given Liphook a 
ridiculous amount of pleasure. The club waiters, his mother s 
butler, his man in Half Moon Street, these unimportant people 
chiefly noted the uncontrollable bubbles of happiness that floated 
to the surface of his impassive English face during the days that 
followed the arrival of that answer. He didn t think anything in 
particular about it ; few men so open to the attractions of women 
as this incident proves him, think anything in particular at all, 
least of all, at so early a stage. He was not for the sake of his 
judges it must be urged meaning badly any more than he was 
definitely meaning well. He wasn t meaning at all. He cannot 
be blamed, either. The world is responsible for this sense of 
irresponsibility in men of the world who are the world s sole 
making. Herein he was true to type ; in so far as he did not think 
what the girl meant by her answer, type was supported by 
individual character. Liphook was not clever, and did not think 
much or with any success, on any subject. And if he had he 

wouldn t 

By Mcnie Muriel Dowie 33 

wouldn t have hit the real reason ; only experience would have 
told him that a French workgirl, from a love of pleasure and the 
national measure of shrewd practicality combined, never refuses 
the chance of a nice outing. She does not, like her English 
sister, drag her virtue into the question at all. 

Never in his life, so it chanced, had Liphook gone forth to an 
interview in such a frame of mind as on the day he was to meet 
Melanie outside the Argyll Baths in Great Marlboro Street at 
ten minutes past seven. Apart from the intoxicating perfume 
that London seemed to breathe for him, and the gold motes that 
danced in the dull air, there was the unmistakable resistant pres 
sure of the pavement against his feet (thus it seemed) which is 
seldom experienced twice in a lifetime ; in the lifetime of such a 
man as Liphook, usually never. The Argyll Baths, Great 
Marlboro Street : what a curious place for the child to have 
chosen, and she would be standing there, pretending to look into 
a shop window. Oh, of course, there were no shop windows to 
speak of in Great Marlboro Street. (He had paced its whole 
length several times since the arrival of the pink glazed note). 
What would she say ? What would she look like ? Her eyes, 
drooped or raised frankly to his, for instance ? That she would 
not greet him with bold, meaning smile and common phrase he 
knew he felt. Dreaming and speculating, but wearing the 
calm leisured air of a gentleman walking from one point to 
another, he approached and yes ! there she was ! A scoop- 
shaped hat rose above the cream-yellow brow ; a big dotted veil 
was loosely was wonderfully bound about it ; a little black 
cape covered the demure lawn collar; quite French bottines peeped 
below the dark-blue skirt. But she was not alone, a man was 
with her. A man whom, even at some distance, he could discern 
to be unwelcome and unexpected, the pale fair young Jew 


34 An Idyll in Millinery 

in dapper frock-coat and extravagantly curved over-shiny hat. 
Loathsome-looking reptile he was, too, so thought Liphook as he 
turned abruptly with savage scrape of his veering foot upon the 
pavement, up Argyll Street. Perhaps she was getting rid of him; 
it was only nine minutes past seven, anyhow ; perhaps he would 
be gone in a moment. Odious beast ! In love with her, no 
doubt ; how came it he had the wit to recognise her indescribable 
charm ? (Liphook never paused to wonder how himself had 
recognised it, though this was, in the circumstances, even more 
remarkable). Anyway, judging by that look he remembered, she 
would not be unequal to rebuffing unwelcome attention. 

Liphook walked as far as Hengler s Circus and read the bills ; 
the place was in occupation, it being early in March. He studied 
the bill from top to bottom, then he turned slowly and retraced 
his steps to the corner. Joy ! she was there and alone. His pace 
quickened, his heart rose ; his face, a handsome face, was strung to 
lines of pride, of passionate anticipation. 

He had greeted her ; he had heard her voice ; so soft dear 
Heaven ! so soft in reply ; they had turned and were walking 
towards Soho, and he knew no word of what had passed. 

" We will have a cab ; you will give me the pleasure of dining 
with me. I have arranged it. Allow me." Perhaps these were 
the first coherent words that he said. Then they drove along and 
he said inevitable, valueless things in quick order, conscious of the 
lovely interludes when her smooth tones, now wood-sweet, now 
with a harp-like thrilling timbre in them, again with the viol or 
was it the lute-note? a sharp dulcidity that made answer in him as 
certainly as the tuning-fork compels its octave from the rosewood 
board. The folds of the blue gown fell beside him ; the French 
pointed feet, miraculously short-toed, rested on the atrocious straw 
mat of the wretched hansom his blindness had brought him ; the 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 35 

scoop-hat knocked the wicked reeking lamp in the centre of the 
cab ; the dotted veil, tied as only a French hand can tie a veil, 
made more delectable the creams and twine-shades of the monoto 
nous-coloured kitten face. They drove, they arrived somewhere, 
they dined, and then of all things, they went into a church, which 
being open and permitting organ music to exude from its smut- 
blackened walls, seemed less like London than any place they 
might have sought. 

And it happened to be a Catholic Church, and he yes, he 
actually followed the pretty ways of her, near the grease-smeared 
pecten shell with its holy water, that stuck from a pillar : some 
Church oyster not uprooted from its ancient bed. And they sat 
on prie-dieuS) in the dim incense-savoured gloom ; little un 
aspiring lights seemed to be burning in dim places beyond ; and 
sometimes there were voices, and sometimes these ceased again 
and music filled the dream-swept world in which Liphook was 
wrapped and veiled away. And they talked at least she talked, 
low murmurous recital about herself and her life, and every detail 
sunk and expanded wondrously in the hot-bed of Liphook s abnor 
mally affected mind. The evening passed to night, and people 
stepped about, and doors closed with a hollow warning sound that 
hinted at the end of lovely things, and they went out and he 
left her at a door which was the back entrance to Madame 
Felise s establishment ; but he had rolled back a grey lisle-thread 
glove, and gathered an inexpressibly precious memory from the 
touch of that small hand that posed roses instead of pansies all the 

And of course he was to see her again. He had heard all 
about her. How a year since she had been fetched from Paris at 
the instance of Goldenmuth. Goldenmuth was the fair young 
Jewish man in the frock-coat and supremely curved hat. He was 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. c a " relative " 

36 An Idyll in Millinery 

a " relative " of Madame Felise, and travelled for her, in a certain 
sense, in Paris. He had seen Melanie in an obscure corner of the 
Petit St. Thomas when paying an airy visit to a lady in charge of 
some department there. An idea had occurred to him ; in three 
days he arrived and made a proposition. He had conceived the 
plan of transplanting this ideally French work-flower to the 
London shop, and his plan had been a success. Her simple, 
shrewd, much-defined little character clung to Melanie in London, 
as in Paris ; she had clever fingers, but beyond all, her appearance 
which Goldenmuth had the art to appreciate, soft but marked and 
unassailable by influence, told infinitely at that unobtrusive but 
conspicuous work-table. 

Half mouse, half dove ; never to be vulgarised, never to be 

Melanie had a family, worthy epicier of Nantes, her father ; 
her mother, his invaluable book-keeper. Her sister Hortense, 
cashier at the Restaurant des Trois Epees ; her sister Albertine, 
in the millinery like herself. Every detail delighted Liphook, 
every word of her rapid incorrect London English sank into his 
mind ; in the extraordinarily narrow circumscribed life that 
Liphook had lived that all the Liphooks of the world usually 
do live a little, naively-simple description of some quite different 
life is apt to sound surprisingly interesting, and if it comes from 
the lips of your Melanie, why 

But previous to the glazed pink note, if Liphook had crystal 
lised any floating ideas he might have had as to the nature 
of the intimacy he expected, they would have tallied in no 
particular with the reality. In his first letter had been certain 
warmly-worded sentences ; at their first interview when he had 
interred two kisses below the lisle-thread glove, he had incohe 
rently murmured something lover-like. It had been too dark to 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 37 

see Meianie s face at the moment ; but when since, more than 
once, he had attempted similar avowals she had put her head on 
one side, raised her face, crinkled up the corners of the grey eyes,, 
and twisted quite alarmingly the lilac-pink lips. So there wasn t 
much said about love or any such thing. After all, he could see 
her three or four times a week ; on Sunday they often spent the 
whole day together ; he could listen to her prattle ; he was a 
silent fellow himself, having never learnt to talk and having 
nothing to talk about ; he could, in hansoms and quiet places, 
tuck her hand within his arm and beam affectionately into her 
face, and they grew always closer and closer to each other ; as- 
cajnarades, still only as camarades. She never spoke of Goldenmuth 
except incidentally, and then very briefly ; and Liphook, who had 
since seen the man with her in the street on two occasions, felt 
very unanxious to introduce the subject ; after all he knew more 
than he wanted to about it, he said to himself. It was obvious 
enough. He had bought her two hats at Felise s ; he had begged 
to do as much, and she had advised him which he should purchase, 
and on evenings together she had looked ravishing beneath them. 
He knew many secrets of the hat trade ; he knew and delightedly 
laughed over half a hundred fictions Melanie exploded ; he was in 
a fair way to become a man-milliner ; even Goldenmuth could not 
have talked more trippingly of the concomitants of capotes. 

One Sunday, when the sunniest of days had tempted them 
down the river, he came suddenly into the private room where 
they were to lunch and found her coquetting with her veil in 
front of a big ugly mirror j a mad sort of impulse took him, he 
gripped her arms to her side, nipped her easily off the floor, bent 
his head round the prickly fence of hat-brim and kissed her several 
times ; she laughed with the low, fluent gurgle of water pushing 
through a narrow passage. She said nothing, she only laughed. 


38 An Idyll in Millinery 

Somehow, it disorganised Liphook. 

"Do you love me ? Do you love me ?" he asked rapidly, even 
roughly, in the only voice he could command, and he shook her a 

She put her head on one side and made that same sweet 
crinkled-up kind of moue moquante^ then she spread her palms out 
and shook them and laughed and ran away round the table. 
11 Est-ce que jesais, moi ? " she cried in French. Liphook didn t 
speak. Oh, he understood her all right, but he was getting him 
self a little in hand first. A man like Liphook has none of the 
art of life ; he can t do figure-skating among his emotions like 
your nervous, artistic-minded, intellectually trained man. After 
that one outburst and the puzzlement that succeeded it, he was 
silent, until he remarked upon the waiter s slowness in bringing up 
luncheon. But he had one thing quite clear in his thick English 
head, through which the blood was still whizzing and singing. 
He wanted to kiss her again badly ; he was going to kiss her 
again at the first opportunity. 

But, of course, when he wasn t with her his mind varied in its 
reflections. For instance, he had come home one night from 
dining at Aldershot a farewell dinner to his Colonel it was 
and he had actually caught himself saying : " I must get out of 
it," meaning his affair with Melanie. That was pretty early on, 
when it had still seemed, particularly after being in the society 
of worldly-wise friends who rarely, if ever, did anything foolish, 
much less emotional, that he was making an ass of himself, or 
was likely to if he didn t "get out of it." Now the thing had 
assumed a different aspect. He could not give her up ; under no 
circumstances could he contemplate giving her up j well then, 
why give her up ? She was only a little thing in a hat shop, she 
would do very much better yes, but, somehow he had a certain 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 39 

feeling about her, he couldn t well, in point of fact, he loved 
her ; hang it, he respected her ; he d sooner be kicked out of his 
Club than say one word to her that he d mind a fellow saying to 
his sister. 

Thus the Liphook of March, 95, argued with the Liphook of 
the past two and thirty years ! 


Liphook s position was awkward all the other Liphooks in the 
world have said it was beastly awkward, supposing they could have 
been made to understand it. To many another kind of man this 
little love story might not have been inappropriate ; occurring in 
the case of Liphook it was nothing less than melancholy. Not that 
he felt melancholy about it, no indeed ; just sometimes, when he 
happened to think how it was all going to end, he had rather a 
bad moment, but thanks to his nature and training he did not 
think often. 

Meantime, he had sent a diamond heart to Mrs. Percival ; there 
was more sentiment about a heart than a horse-shoe ; women 
looked at that kind of thing, and she would feel that he wasn t 
cooling off ; so it had been a heart. That secured him several more 
weeks of freedom at any rate, and he wouldn t have the trouble of 
putting notes in the fire. For on receiving the diamond heart 
Mrs. Percival behaved like a python after swallowing an antelope ; 
she was torpid in satiety, and no sign came from her. 

But one morning Liphook got home to Half Moon Street after 
his Turkish bath, and heard that a gentleman was waiting to see 

" At least, hardly a gentleman, my lord ; I didn t put him in 
the library," explained the intuitive Sims. 


40 An Idyll in Millinery 

Some one from his tailor s with so-called "new" patterns, no 
doubt ; well 

He walked straight into the room, never thinking, and he saw 
Goldenmuth. The man had an offensive orchid in his buttonhole. 
To say that Liphook was surprised is nothing ; he was astounded, 
and too angry to call up any expression whatever to his face ; he 
was rigid with rage. What in hell had Sims let the fellow in for ? 
However, this was the last of Sims ; Sims would go. 

The oily little brute, with his odious hat in his hand, was speak 
ing ; was saying something about being fortunate in finding his 
lordship, &c. 

" Be good enough to tell me your business with me," said 
Liphook, with undisguised savagery. Though he had asked him 
to speak, he thought that when her name was mentioned he would 
have to choke him. His rival by gad, this little Jew beggar 
was Liphook s rival. Goldenmuth hitched his sallow neck, as 
leathery as a turtle s, in his high, burnished collar, and took his 
pocket-book from his breast pocket which meant that he was 
nervous, and forgot that he was not calling upon a "wholesale 
buyer," to whom he would presently show a pattern. He pressed 
the book in both hands, and swayed forward on his toes swayed 
into hurried speech. 

" Being interested in a young lady whom your lordship has 
honoured with your attentions lately, I called to ave a little 
talk." The man had an indescribable accent, a detestable fluency, 
a smile which nearly warranted you in poisoning him, a manner 

! There was silence. Liphook waited ; the snap with 

which he bit off four tough orange-coloured hairs from his mous 
tache, sounded to him like the stroke of a hammer in the street. 
Then an idea struck him. He put a question : 

" What has it got to do with you ? " 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 41 

" I am interested " 

"So am I. But I fail to see why you should mix yourself up 
with my affairs." 

" Madame Felise feels " 

"What s she got to do with it?" Liphook tossed out his 
remarks with the nakedest brutality. 

" The lady is in her employment and 

" Look here ; say what you ve got to say, or go," burst from 
Liphook, with the rough bark of passion. He had his hands be 
hind his back ; he was holding one with the other in the fear that 
they might get away from him, as it were. His face was still im 
mobile, but the crooks of two veins between the temples and the 
eye corners stood up upon the skin ; his impassive blue eyes 
harboured sullen hatred. He saw the whole thing. That old 
woman had sent her dirty messenger to corner him, to " ask his 
intentions," to get him to give himself away, to make some pro 
mise. It was a kind of blackmail they had in view. The very 
idea of such creatures about Melanie would have made him sick at 
another time ; now he felt only disgust, and the rising obstinacy 
about committing himself at the unsavory instance of Goldenmuth. 
After all, they couldn t take Melanie from him ; she was free, she 
could go into another shop ; he could marry .... Stop 
madness ! 

" Mademoiselle Melanie is admitted to be most attractive 
others have observed it " 

" You mean you have," sneered Liphook ; in the most un- 
gentlemanly manner, it must be allowed. 

" I must bring to the notice of your lordship," said the Jew, 
with the deference of a man who knows he is getting his point, 
" that so young as Mademoiselle is, and so innocent, she is not 
fitted to understand business questions ; and her parents being at 

a distance 

42 An Idyll in Millinery 

a distance ft falls to Madame Felise and myself to see that 
excuse me, my lord, but we know what London is ! that her 
youth is not misled." 

"Who s misleading her youth ? " Liphook burst out ; and his 
schoolboy language detracted nothing from the energy with which 
he spoke. " You can take my word here and now that she is in 
every respect as innocent as I found her. And now," with a 
sudden reining in of his voice, " we have had enough of this talk. 
If you are the lady s guardians you may reassure yourselves : I am 
no more to her than a friend : I have not sought to be any more. * 
Liphook moved in conclusion of the interview. 

" Your lordship is very obliging ; but I must point out that a 
young and ardent girl is likely, in the warmth of her affection, to 
be precipitate that we would protect her from herself." 

" About this I have nothing to say, and will hear nothing," 
exclaimed Liphook, hurriedly. 

Goldenmuth used the national gesture ; he bent his right 
elbow, turned his right hand palm upwards and shook it softly to 
and fro. 

" Perhaps even I have noticed it. I am not insensible ! " 

Liphook had never heard a famous passage he neither read nor 
looked at Shakespeare, so this remark merely incensed him. 
"But," went on the Jew, "since she came to England for I 
brought her I have made myself her protector 

"You re a liar ! " said Liphook, who was a very literal person. 

" Oh, my lord ! I mean in the sense of being kind to her and 
looking after her, with Madame Felise s entire approval ; so 
when I noticed the marked attentions of a gentleman like your 
lordship " 

"You re jealous," put in Liphook, again quite inexcusably. 
But it would be impossible to over-estimate his contempt for this 


By Mcnie Muriel Dowie 43 

man. Belonging to the uneducated section of the upper class he 
was a man of the toughest prejudices on some points. One of 
these was that all Jews were mean, scurvy devils at bottom and 
that no kind of consideration need be shown them. Avoid them 
as you would a serpent ; when you meet them, crush them as you 
would a serpent. He d never put it into words ; but that is 
actually what poor Liphook thought, or at any rate it was the 
dim idea on which he acted. 

" Your lordship is making a mistake," said Goldenmuth with a 
flush. " I am not here in my own interest ; I am here to act on 
behalf of the young lady." Had the heavens fallen ? In her 
interest ? Then Melanie ? Never ! As if a Thing like this 
could speak the truth ! 

" Who sent you ? " Liphook always went to the point. 
" Madame Felise and I talked it over and agreed that I should 
make it convenient to call. We have both a great regard for 
Mademoiselle ; we feel a responsibility a responsibility to her 

What was all this about ? Liphook was too bewildered to 
interrupt even. 

" Naturally, we should like to see Mademoiselle in a position, 
an assured position for which she is every way suited." 

So it was as he thought. They wanted to rush a proposal. 
Must he chaffer with them at all ? 

"I can tell you that if I had anything to propose I should 
write it to the lady herself," he said. 

"We are not anxious to come between you. I may say I have 
enquired my interest in Mademoiselle has led me to enquire 
and Madame Felise and I think it would be in every way a 
suitable connection for her. Your lordship must feel that we 
regard her as no common girl ; she deserves to be lancee in the 


44 An Idyll in Millinery 

right manner ; a settlement an establishment some indication 
that the connection will be fairly permanent, or if not, that 


"Is that what you are driving at, you dog, you?" cried 
Liphoolc, illuminated at length and boiling with passion. - So 
you want to sell her to me and take your blasted commission ? 
Get out of my house ! " He grew suddenly quiet ; it was an 
ominous change. " Get out, this instant, before - 

Goldenmuth was gone, the street door banged. 

" God ! God ! " breathed Liphook with his hand to his wet 
brow, " what a hellish business ! " 

* # # * * 

It was nine o clock when Liphook came in that night. He 
did not know where he had been, he believed he had had 
something in the nature of dinner, but he could not have said 
exactly where he had had it. 

Sims handed him a note. 

He recognised a friend s hand and read the four lines it 

"When did Captain Throgmorton come, then ? " 

" Came in about three to alf past, my lord ; he asked me if 
your lordship had any engagement to-night, and said he would 
wait at the Club till quarter past eight and that he should dine at 
the Blue Posts after that." 

"I see; well," he reflected a moment, "Sims, pack my 
hunting things, have everything at St. Pancras in time for the ten 
o clock express, and," he reflected again, " Sims, I want you to 
take a note no, never mind. That ll do." 

"V ry good, my lord." 

Yes, he d go. Jack Throgmorton was the most companionable 
man in the world he was so silent. Liphook and he had been 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 45 

at Sandhurst together, they had joined the same regiment. Lip- 
hook had sent in his papers rather than stand the fag of India ; 
Throgmorton had " taken his twelve hundred " rather than stand 
the fag of anywhere. He was a big heavy fellow with a marked 
difficulty in breathing, also there was fifteen stone of him. His 
round eyes, like " bulls -eyes," the village children s best-loved 
goodies, stuck out of a face rased to an even red resentment. 
He had the hounds somewhere in Bedfordshire. His friends liked 
him enormously, so did his enemies. To say that he was stupid 
does not touch the fringe of a description of him. He had never 
had a thought of his own, nor an idea ; all the same, in any Club 
quarrel, or in regard to a point of procedure, his was an opinion 
other men would willingly stand by. At this moment in his 
life, a blind instinct taught Liphook to seek such society ; no one 
could be said to sum up more completely perhaps because so 
unconsciously the outlook of Liphook s world, which of late he 
had positively begun to forget. The thing was bred into 
Throgmorton by sheer, persistent sticking to the strain, and it came 
out of him again mechanically, automatically, distilled through 
his dim brain a triple essence. The kind of man clever people 
have found it quite useless to run down, for it has been proved 
again and again that if he can only be propped up in the right 
place at the right moment, you ll never find his equal in that 
place. Altogether, a handsome share in " the secret of England s 
greatness" belongs to him. The two men met on the platform 
beside a pile of kit-bags and suit cases, all with Viscount Liphook s 
name upon them in careful uniformity. Sims might have had 
the administration of an empire s affairs upon his mind, whereas 
he was merely chaperoning more boots and shirts than any one 
man has a right to possess. 

" You didn t come last night," said Captain Throgmorton, as 


46 An Idyll in Millinery 

though he had only just realised the fact. He prefaced the re 
mark by his favourite ejaculation which was " Harr-rr he pre 
faced every remark with " Harr-rr " on a cold day it was not 
uninspiriting if accompanied by a sharp stroke of the palms ; in 
April it was felt to be somewhat out of season. But Captain 
Throgmorton merely used it as a means of getting his breath and 
his voice under way. " Pity," he went on, without noticing 
Liphook s silence ; " good bone." This summed up the dinner 
with its famous marrow-bones, at the Blue Posts. 

They got in. Each opened a Morning Post. Over the top of 
this fascinating sheet they flung friendly brevities from time to 

" Shan t have more than a couple more days to rattle em 
about," Captain Throgmorton remarked, after half an hour s 
silence, and a glance at the flying hedges. 

Liphook began to come back into his world. After all it was 
a comfortable world. Yet had an angel for a time transfigured it, 
ah dear ! how soft that angel s wings, if he might be folded within 
them .... old world, dear, bad old world, you might roll by. 

They were coming home from hunting next day. Each man 
bent ungainly in his saddle ; their cords were splashed ; the going 
had been heavy, and once it had been hot as well, but only for a 
while. Then they had hung about a lot, and though they found 
three times, they hadn t killed. Liphook was weary. When 
Throgmorton stuck his crop under his thigh, hung his reins on 
it, and lit a cigar, Liphook was looking up at the sky, where 
dolorous clouds of solid purple splotched a background of orange, 
flame-colour and rose. Throgmorton s peppermint eye rolled 
slowly round when it left his cigar-tip ; he knew that when a 
man that is, a man of Liphook s sort is found staring at a thing 
like the sunset there is a screw loose somewhere. 

" Wha* 

By Menie Muriel Dowie 47 

" Wha is it, Harold ? " he said, on one side of his cigar. 

Liphook made frank answer. 

"What s she done then?" 

Oh, Lord, it isn t her." 

" Nother ? " said Jack, without any show of surprise, and got 
his answer again. 

" What sort ? " This was very difficult, but Liphook shut his 
eyes and flew it. 

How old ? " 

" Twenty," said Liphook, and felt a rapture rising. 

"Jack, man," he exclaimed, under the influence or the flame 
and rose, no doubt, " what if I were to marry ? " 

Throgmorton was not, as has been indicated, a person of fine 
fibre. " Do, and be done with em," said he. And after all, as 
far as it went, it was sound enough advice. 

" I mean marry her," Liphook explained, and the explanation 
cost him a considerable expenditure of pluck. 

An emotional man would have fallen off his horse if the horse 
would have let him. Jack s horse never would have let him. 
Jack said nothing for a moment ; his eye merely seemed to swell ; 
then he put another question : 

" Earl know about it ?" 

" By George, I should say not!" 

" Harr-rr." 

That meant that the point would be resolved in the curiously 
composed brain of Captain Throgmorton, and by common con 
sent not another word was said on the matter. 


48 An Idyll in Millinery 


Two days had gone by. Liphook s comfortable sense of having 
acted wisely in coming out of town to think the thing over still 
supported him, ridiculous though it seems. For of course he was 
no more able to think anything over than a Hottentot. Think 
ing is not a natural process at all ; savage men never knew of it, 
and many people think it quite as dangerous as it is unnatural. It 
has become fashionable to learn thinking, and some forms of 
education undertake to teach it ; but Liphook had never gone 
through those forms of education. After all, to understand Lip- 
hook, one must admit that he approximated quite as nearly to the 
savage as to the civilised and thinking man, if not more nearly. 
His appetites and his habits were mainly savage, and had he lived 
in savage times he would not have been touched by a kind of love 
for which he was never intended, and his trouble would not have 
existed. However, he was as he was, and he was thinking things 
over ; that is, he was waiting and listening for the most forceful of 
his instincts to make itself heard, and he had crept like a dumb 
unreasoning animal into the burrow of his kind, making one last 
effort to be of them. At the end of the week his loudest instinct 
was setting up a roar ; there could be no mistaking it. He loved 
her. He could not part from her ; he must get back to her ; he 
must make her his and carry her off. 

"Sorry to be leaving you, Jack," he said one morning at the 
end of the week. They were standing looking out of the hall door 
together and it was raining. "But I find I must go up this 

Throgmorton rolled a glance at him, then armed him into the 
library and shut the door. 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 49- 

" What are you going to do ? " 

" Marry her." 

There was a silence. They stood there, the closest feeling of 
friendship between them, not saying a word. 

"My dear Harold," said Throgmorton at length, with much 
visible and more invisible effort ; he put a hand heavily on 
Liphook s shoulder and blew hard in his mute emotion. Then he 
put his other hand on Liphook s other shoulder. Liphook kept 
his eyes down ; he was richly conscious of all Jack was mutely 
saying ; he felt the weight of every unspoken argument ; the 
moment was a long one, but for both these slow-moving minds a 
very crowded moment. 

"Come to the Big Horn Mountains with me," Throgmorton 

remarked suddenly, " and har-rr write to her from 


He was proud of this suggestion ; he knew the value of a really 
remote point to write from. It was always one of the first things 
to give your mind to, the choice of a geographically well-nigh 
inaccessible point to write from. First you found it, then you 
went to it, and when you got there, by Jove, you didn t need to 
write at all. Liphook smiled in impartial recognition of his 
friend s wisdom, but shook his head. 

" Thanks," he said. " I ve thought it all over " he genuinely 
believed he had " and I m going to marry her. Jack, old man, I 
love her like the very devil ! " 

In spite of the grotesqueness of the phrase, the spirit in it was 
worth having. 

Throgmorton s hands came slowly off his friend s shoulders. 
He walked to the window, took out a very big handkerchief and 
dried his head. He seemed to look out at the dull rain battering 
on the gravel and digging yellow holes. 

" I ll 

50 An Idyll in Millinery 

"I ll drive you to meet the 11.15," he said at last and went out 
of the room. 

Liphook put up his arms and drew a deep breath ; it had been 
a stiff engagement. He felt tired. But no, not tired. Roll by, 
O bad old world he has chosen the angel s wing ! 

Not one word had passed about Goldenmuth, Madame Felise, 
or the astounding interview ; a man like Liphook can always hold 
his tongue ; one of his greatest virtues. Besides, why should he 
ever think or breathe the names of those wretches again ? Jack 
Throgmorton, in his splendid ignorance, would have been unable 
to throw light upon the real motive of these simple, practical 
French people. Liphook to his dying day would believe they had 
given proof of hideous iniquity, while in reality they were actuated 
by a very general belief of the bourgeoise, that to be "established," 
with settlements, as the mistress of a viscount, is quite as good as 
becoming the wife of a grocer. They had been, perhaps, wicked, 
but innocently wicked ; for they acted according to their belief, 
in the girl s best interest. Unfortunately they had had an im 
practicable Anglais to deal with and had had to submit to insult ; 
in their first encounter, they had been worsted by British brute 

With a constant dull seething of impulses that quite possessed 
him, he got through the time that had to elapse before he could 
hear from her in reply to his short letter. He had done with 
thinking. A chance meeting with his father on the sunny side 
of Pall Mall one morning did not even disquiet him. His every 
faculty, every fibre was in thrall to his great passion. The rest 
of life seemed minute, unimportant, fatuous, a mass of trivial 

There were two things in the world, and two only. There 
was Melanie, and there was love. Ah, yes, and there was time ! 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 51 

Why did she not answer ? 

A note from the bonnet-shop, re-enclosing his own, offered an 
explanation that entered like a frozen knife-blade into Liphook s 
heart. She had left. She was gone. Gone altogether, for good. 
Absurd ! Did they suppose they could oh, a higher price 
was what they wanted. He d go; by God he d give it. Was he 
not going to marry her ? He hurried to the hat-shop ; he dropped 
into the chair he had occupied when last in the shop, let his stick 
fall between his knees and stared before him into the mirrored 
walls. All the same tangled scene of passing people, customers, 
shop-women and brilliant millinery was reflected in them ; only 
the bright hats islanded and steady among this ugly fluctuation. 
Pools of fretful life, these circular mirrors ; garish, discomfiting 
to gaze at ; stirred surely by no angel unless the reflection of the 
mouse-maiden should ever cross their surfaces. 

Fifteen minutes later he was standing gazing at the horrid clock 
and ornaments in ormolu that stood on the mantel-piece of the red 
velvet salon where he waited for Madame Fe lise. 
She came. Her bow was admirable. 

" I wrote to Mademoiselle, and my letter has been returned. 
The note says she has gone." Liphook s schoolboy bluntness 
came out most when he was angry. " Where has she gone ? 
And why ? " 

" Aha ! Little Mademoiselle ! Yes, indeed, she has left us 
and how sorry we are ! Cbere petite ! But what could we do ? 

We would have kept her, but her parents " A shrug and a 

smile punctuated the sentence. 
" What about her parents ? " 

" They had arranged for her an alliance what would you 
have ? we had to let her go. And the responsibility after 

all " 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. D " What 

52 An Idyll in Millinery 

" What sort of an alliance ? " The dog-like note was in his voice 

" But an alliance ! I believe very good ; a charpentier a 
cbarcutier, I forget but lien sohde ! " 

" Do you mean you have sold her to some French - 

"Ah, my lord ! how can you speak such things ? Her parents 
are most rezpectable, she has always been most rezpectable 
naturally we had more than once felt anxious here in 
London - " 

"I wish to marry her," said Liphook curtly, and he said it 
still, though he believed her to have been thrust upon a less 
reputable road. It was his last, his greatest triumph over his 
world. It fitted him nobly for the shelter of the angel s wing. 
He had learned the worst and 

" I wish to marry her," said Liphook. 

" Helas ! but she is married ! " shrieked Madame Felise in a 
mock agony of regret, but with surprise twinkling in her little 
black eyes. 

" Married ! " shouted Liphook. " Impossible ! " 

" Ask Mr. Goldenmuth, he was at the wedding." Madame 
laughed ; the true explanation of my lord s remarkable statement 
had just struck her. It was a ruse; an English ruse. She 
laughed very much, and it sounded and looked most unpleasant. 

" His lordship was a little unfriendly a little too too 
reserved not to tell us, not even to tell Mademoiselle herself 
that he desired to marry her," she said with villainous archness. 

Liphook strode to the door. Yes, why, why had he not ? 

" I will find her ; I know where her relatives live. " If it is a 
lie I ll make you sorry - " 


Ft dW, what a word ! The ceremony at the Maine was 
on Thursday last." 


By Menie Muriel Dowie 53 

They were going downstairs and had to pass through the 
showrooms quite near ah, quite near the table where the 
little grey and brown pigeons sat clustered, where the one ring 
dove had sat too. 

" It is sometimes the fate of a lover who thinks too long," 
Madame was saying, with an air of much philosophy. " But see 
now, if my lord would care to send a little souvenir " Madame 
reached hastily to a model on a stand " comme cadeau de noce here 
is something quite exquisf" She kissed the tips of her brown 
fingers inimitably, it must be allowed. "So simple, so young, 
so innocent I could pose a little naeud of myosotls. Coming from 
my lord, it would be so delicate ! " 

Liphook was in a shop. There were people about. He was a 
lover, he was a fool, he was a gentleman. 

" Er thank you not to-day," he said ; the air of the world 
he had repudiated came back to him. And a man like Liphook 
doesn t let you see when he is hit. That is the beauty of him. 
He knew it was true, but he would go to Paris ; yes, though he 
knew it was true. He would not, could not see her. But he 
would go. 

He stood a moment in the sun outside the shop, its windows 
like gardens behind him ; its shop-ladies like evil-eyed reptiles in 
these gardens. The carpets, the mirrors on the wall, the tables 
at the back and it was here he had first seen the tip and heard 
the flutter of an angel s wing ! 

" Lord Liphook," said a voice, " what an age . . . ." 

He turned and lifted his hat. 

His world had claimed him. 

D Outre tombe 

By Rosamund Marriott- Watson 

BESIDE my grave, if chance should ever bring you, 
You, peradventure, on some dim Spring day, 
What song of welcome could my blackbird sing you, 
As once in May ? 

As once in May, when all the birds were calling, 
Calling and crying through the soft Spring rain, 

As once in Autumn with the dead leaves falling 
In wood and lane. 

I, in my grave, and you, above, remember 
And yet between us what is there to say? 

In Death s disseverance, wider than December 
Disparts from May. 

I with the dead, and you among the living, 
In separate camps we sojourn, unallied ; 

Life is unkind and Death is unforgiving, 
And both divide. 

Babies and Brambles 

By Katharine Cameron 

The Invisible Prince 

By Henry Harland 

A 1 a masked ball given by the Countess Wohenhoffen, in 
Vienna, during carnival week, a year ago, a man draped in 
the embroidered silks of a Chinese mandarin, his features entirely 
concealed by an enormous Chinese head in cardboard, was standing 
in the Wintergarten, the big, dimly lighted conservatory, near the 
door of one of the gilt-and-white reception rooms, rather a stolid- 
seeming witness of the multi-coloured romp within, when a voice 
behind him said, " How do you do, Mr. Field ? " a woman s 
voice, an English voice. 

The mandarin turned round. 

From a black mask, a pair of blue-grey eyes looked into his 
broad, bland Chinese visage ; and a black domino dropped him an 
extravagant little courtesy. 

" How do you do ? " he responded. " I m afraid I m not Mr. 
Field ; but I ll gladly pretend I am, if you ll stop and talk with 
me. I was dying for a little human conversation." 

" Oh, you re afraid you re not Mr. Field, are you ? " the mask 
replied derisively. " Then why did you turn when I called his 
name ? " 

" You mustn t hope to disconcert me with questions like that," 
said he. " I turned because I liked your voice." 


60 The Invisible Prince 

He might quite reasonably have liked her voice, a delicate, clear, 
soft voice, somewhat high in register, with an accent, crisp, 
chiselled, concise, that suggested wit as well as distinction. She 
was rather tall, for a woman 5 one could divine her slender and 
graceful, under the voluminous folds of her domino. 

She moved a little away from the door, deeper into the con 
servatory. The mandarin kept beside her. There, amongst the 
palms, a fontaine lumineuse was playing, rhythmically changing 
colour. Now it was a shower of rubies ; now of emeralds or 
amethysts, of sapphires, topazes, of opals. 

" How pretty," she said, " and how frightfully ingenious. I am 
wondering whether this wouldn t be a good place to sit down. 
What do you think ? And she pointed with her fan to a rustic 

" I think it would be no more than fair to give it a trial," he 

So they sat down on the rustic bench, by the fontaine 

" In view of your fear that you re not Mr. Field, it s rather a 
coincidence that at a masked ball in Vienna you should just 
happen to be English, isn t it ? " she asked. 

" Oh, everybody s more or less English, in these days, you know," 
said he. 

"There s some truth in that," she admitted, with a laugh. 
"What a diverting piece of artifice this Wintergarten is, to be 
sure. Fancy arranging the electric lights to shine through a 
dome of purple glass, and look like stars. They do look like stars, 
don t they ? Slightly over-dressed, showy stars, indeed ; stars in 
the German taste ; but stars, all the same. Then, by day, you 
know, the purple glass is removed, and you get the sun the real 
sun. Do you notice the delicious fragrance of lilac ? If one 

hadn t 

By Henry Harland 61 

hadn t too exacting an imagination, one might almost persuade 
oneself that one was in a proper open-air garden, on a night in 
May. . . . Yes, everybody is more or less English, in these days. 
That s precisely the sort of thing I should have expected Victor 
Field to say." 

" By-the-bye," questioned the mandarin, " if you don t mind 
increasing my stores of knowledge, who is this fellow Field ? " 

"This fellow Field ? Ah, who indeed?" said she. "That s 
just what I wish you d tell me." 

" I ll tell you with pleasure, after you ve supplied me with the 
necessary data." 

"Well, by some accounts, he s a little literary man in London." 

" Oh, come ! You never imagined that I was a little literary 
man in London." 

" You might be worse. However, if the phrase offends you, I ll 
say a rising young literary man, instead. He writes things, you 

" Poor chap, does he ? But then, that s a way they have, rising 
young literary persons ? " 

" Doubtless. Poems and stories and things. And book re 
views, I suspect. And even, perhaps, leading articles in the 

" Toute la lyre enfin ? What they call a penny-a-liner ?" 

" I m sure I don t know what he s paid. I should think he d 
get rather more than a penny. He s fairly successful. The things 
he does aren t bad." 

"I must look em up. But meantime, will you tell me how 
you came to mistake me for him ? Has he the Chinese type ? 
Besides, what on earth should a little London literary man be doing 
at the Countess Wohenhoffen s ? " 

" He was standing near the door, over there, dying for a little 


62 The Invisible Prince 

human conversation, till I took pity on him. No, he hasn t 
exactly the Chinese type, but he s wearing a Chinese costume, 
and I should suppose he d feel uncommonly hot in that exasperat- 
ingly placid Chinese head. Vm nearly suffocated, and I m only 
wearing a loup. For the rest, why shouldn t he be here ? 

"If your loup bothers you, pray take it off. Don t mind 


"You re extremely good. But if I should take off my 
you d be sorry. Of course, manlike, you re hoping that I m young 
and pretty." 

"Well, and aren t you?" 

" I m a perfect fright. I m an old maid." 

" Thank you. Manlike, I confess, I was hoping you d be 
young and pretty. Now my hope has received the strongest 
confirmation. I m sure you are." 

" Your argument, with a meretricious air of subtlety, is facile 
and superficial. Don t pin your faith to it. "Why shouldn t Victor 
Field be here ? " 

" The Countess only receives tremendous swells. It s the most 
exclusive house in Europe." 

" Are you a tremendous swell ? " 

" Rather ! Aren t you ? " 

She laughed a little, and stroked her fan, a big fan of fluffy black 

" That s very jolly," said he. 

" What ? " said she. 

"That thing in your lap." 

" My fan ? " 

" I expect you d call it a fan." 

" For goodness sake, what would you call it ? 

" I should call it a fan." 


By Henry Harland 63 

She gave another little laugh. " You have a nice instinct for 
the mot juste" she informed him. 

"Oh, no," he disclaimed, modestly. "But I can call a fan 
a fan, when I think it won t shock the sensibilities of my 

" If the Countess only receives tremendous swells," said she, 
" you must remember that Victor Field belongs to the Aristocracy 
of Talent." 

"Oh, quant a p, so, from the Wohenhoffens point of view, do 
the barber and the horse-leech. In this house, the Aristocracy of 
Talent dines with the butler." 

" Is the Countess such a snob ? " 

" No ; she s an Austrian. They draw the line so absurdly 
tight in Austria." 

" Well, then, you leave me no alternative but to conclude that 
Victor Field is a tremendous swell. Didn t you notice, I bobbed 
him a courtesy ? " 

" I took the courtesy as a tribute to my Oriental magnificence. 
Field doesn t sound like an especially patrician name. I d give 
anything to discover who you are. Can t you be induced to tell 
me ? I ll bribe, entreat, threaten I ll do anything you think 
might persuade you." 

"I ll tell you at once, if you ll own up that you re Victor 

"Oh, I ll own up that I m Queen Elizabeth if you ll tell me 
who you are. The end justifies the means." 

" Then you are Victor Field ? " 

" If you don t mind suborning perjury, why should I mind 
committing it ? Yes. And now, who are you ? " 

" No ; I must have an unequivocal avowal. Are you or are 
you not Victor Field ? " 


64 The Invisible Prince 

" Let us put it at this, that I m a good serviceable imitation ; 
an excellent substitute when the genuine article is not procur 

" Of course, your real name isn t anything like Victor Field," 
she declared pensively. 

" I never said it was. But I admire the way in which you give 
with one hand and take back with the other." 

" Your real name is .... Wait a moment .... Yes, 
now I have it. Your real name .... It s rather long. You 
don t think it will bore you ? " 

"Oh, if it s really my real name, I daresay I m hardened to it." 

" Your real name is Louis Charles Ferdinand Stanislas John 
Joseph Emmanuel Maria Anna." 

" Mercy upon me," he cried, " what a name ! You ought to 
have broken it to me in instalments. And it s all Christian name 
at that. Can t you spare me just a little rag of a surname, for 
decency s sake ? " 

" The surnames of royalties don t matter, Monseigneur." 

a Royalties ? What ? Dear me, here s rapid promotion ! I 
am royal now ? And a moment ago I was a little penny-a-liner 
in London." 

" Uun nempeche pas Vautre. Have you never heard the story 
of the Invisible Prince ? " 

" I adore irrelevancy. I seem to have read something about an 
invisible prince when I was young. A fairy tale, wasn t it ? " 

"The irrelevancy is only apparent. The story I mean is a 
story of real life. Have you ever heard of the Duke of Zeln ? " 

" Zeln ? Zeln ? " he repeated, reflectively. " No, I don t 
think so." 

She clapped her hands. " Really, you do it admirably. If I 
-weren t perfectly sure of my facts, I believe I should be taken in. 


By Henry Harland 65: 

Zeln, as any history would tell you, as any old atlas would show 
you, was a little independent duchy in the centre of Germany." 

" Poor, dear thing ! Like Jonah in the centre of the whale," 
he murmured, sympathetically. 

" Hush. Don t interrupt. Zeln was a little independent 
German duchy, and the Duke of Zeln was its sovereign. After 
the war with France it was absorbed by Prussia. But the ducal 
family still rank as royal highnesses. Of course, you ve heard of 
the Leczinskis ? " 

" Lecz- - what ? " 

" Leczinski." 

" How do you spell it ? " 

" L e c z i n s k i." 

" Good. Capital. You have a real gift for spelling." 

" Will you be quiet," she said, severely, " and answer my 
question ? Are you familiar with the name ? " 

" I should never venture to be familiar with a name I didn t 

" Ah, you don t know it ? You have never heard of Stanislas 
Leczinski, who was king of Poland ? Of Marie Leczinska, who 
married Louis XV. ? " 

"Oh, to be sure. I remember. The lady whose portrait one 
sees at Versailles." 

" Quite so. Very well ; the last representative of the Lec 
zinskis, in the elder line, was the Princess Anna Leczinska, who, 
in 1858, married the Duke of Zeln. She was the daughter of 
John Leczinski, Duke of Grodnia, and governor of Galicia, and 
of the Archduchess Henrietta d Este, a cousin of the Emperor of 
Austria. She was also a great heiress, and an extremely hand 
some woman. But the Duke of Zeln was a bad lot, a viveur, a 
gambler, a spendthrift. His wife, like a fool, made her entire 


66 The Invisible Prince 

fortune over to him, and he proceeded to play ducks and drakes 
with it. By the time their son was born he d got rid of the last 
farthing. Their son wasn t born till 63, five years after their 
marriage. Well, and then, what do you suppose the duke did ? " 

" Reformed, of course. The wicked husband always reforms 
when a child is born and there s no more money." 

" You know perfectly well what he did. He petitioned the 
German Diet to annul the marriage. You see, having exhausted 
the dowry of the Princess Anna, it occurred to him that if she 
could only be got out of the way, he might marry another heiress, 
and have the spending of another fortune." 

" Clever dodge. Did it come off? " 

" It came off, all too well. He based his petition on the ground 
that the marriage had never been I forget what the technical 
term is. Anyhow, he pretended that the princess had never been 
his wife except in name, and that the child couldn t possibly be 
his. The Emperor of Austria stood by his connection, like the 
loyal gentleman he is ; used every scrap of influence he possessed 
to help her. But the duke, who was a Protestant (the princess 
was of course a Catholic), persuaded all the Protestant States in 
the Diet to vote in his favour. The Emperor of Austria was 
powerless, the Pope was powerless. And the Diet annulled the 

" Ah," said the mandarin. 

" Yes. The marriage was annulled, and the child declared 
illegitimate. Ernest Augustus, as the duke was somewhat incon- 
sequently named, married again, and had other children, the eldest 
of whom is the present bearer of the title the same Duke of 
Zeln one hears of, quarrelling with the croupiers at Monte Carlo. 
The Princess Anna, with her baby, came to Austria. The 
Emperor gave her a pension, and lent her one of his country 


By Henry Harland 67 

houses to live in Schloss Sanct Andreas. Our hostess, by-the- 
bye, the Countess WohenhofFen, was her intimate friend and her 
-premiere dame cChonneur" 

" Ah," said the mandarin. 

"But the poor princess had suffered more than she could bear. 
She died when her child was four years old. The Countess 
Wohenhoffen took the infant, by the Emperor s desire, and 
brought him up with her own son Peter. He was called Prince 
Louis Leczinski. Of course, in all moral right, he was the 
Hereditary Prince of Zeln. His legitimacy, for the rest, and his 
mother s innocence, are perfectly well established, in every sense 
but a legal sense, by the fact that he has all the physical charac 
teristics of the Zeln stock. He has the Zeln nose and the Zeln 
chin, which are as distinctive as the Hapsburg lip." 

" I hope, for the poor young man s sake, though, that they re 
not so unbecoming ? " 

" They re not exactly pretty. The nose is a thought too long, 
the chin is a trifle short. However, I daresay the poor young 
man is satisfied. As I was about to tell you, the Countess 
WohenhofFen brought him up, and the Emperor destined him for 
the Church. He even went to Rome and entered the Austrian 
College. He d have been on the high road to a cardinalate by 
this time, if he d stuck to the priesthood, for he had strong interest. 
But, lo and behold, when he was about twenty, he chucked the 
whole thing up." 

"Ah ? Histoire de femme ? " 

"Very likely, though I ve never heard any one say so. At all 
events, he left Rome, and started upon his travels. He had no 
-money of his own, but the Emperor made him an allowance. He 
started upon his travels, and he went to India, and he went to 
America, and he went to South Africa, and then, finally, in 87 


68 The Invisible Prince 

or 88, he went no one knows where. He totally disappeared, 
vanished into space. He s not been heard of since. Some people 
think he s dead. But the greater number suppose that he tired 
of his false position in the world, and one fine day determined to 
escape from it, by sinking his identity, changing his name, and 
going in for a new life under new conditions. They call him the 
Invisible Prince. His position was rather an ambiguous one, 
wasn t it ? You see, he was neither one thing nor the other. 
He had no etat-clvtl. In the eyes of the law he was a bastard, 
yet he knew himself to be the legitimate son of the Duke of 
Zeln. He was a citizen of no country, yet he was the rightful 
heir to a throne. He was the last descendant of Stanislas 
Leczinski, yet it was without authority that he bore his name. 
And then, of course, the rights and wrongs of the matter were 
only known to a few. The majority of people simply remem 
bered that there had been a scandal. And (as a wag once said of 
him) wherever he went, he left his mother s reputation behind 
him. No wonder he found the situation irksome. Well, there 
is the story of the Invisible Prince." 

" And a very exciting, melodramatic little story, too. For my 
part, I suspect your Prince met a boojum. I love to listen to 
stories. Won t you tell me another ? Do, please." 

" No, he didn t meet a boojum. He went to England, and set 
up for an author. The Invisible Prince and Victor Field are one 
and the same person." 

"Oh, I say! Not really ?" 

Yes, really." 

" What makes you think so ? " 

"I m sure of it. To begin with, I must confide to you that 
Victor Field is a man I ve never met." 

" Never met . . . . ? But, by the blithe way in which you 


By Henry Harland 69 

were laying his sins at my door, a little while ago, I supposed you 
were sworn confederates." 

" What s the good of masked balls, if you can t talk to people 
you ve never met ? I ve never met him, but I m one of his 
admirers. I like his little poems. And I m the happy possessor 
of a portrait of him. It s a print after a photograph. I cut it 
from an illustrated paper." 

" I really almost wish I was Victor Field. I should feel such 
a glow of gratified vanity." 

" And the Countess Wohenhoffen has at least twenty portraits 
of the Invisible Prince photographs, miniatures, life-size paint 
ings, taken from the time he was born, almost, to the time of his 
disappearance. Victor Field and Louis Leczinski have counten 
ances as like each other as two halfpence." 
" An accidental resemblance, doubtless." 
" No, it isn t an accidental resemblance." 
" Oh, then you think it s intentional ? " 

" Don t be absurd. I might have thought it accidental, except 
for one or two odd little circumstances. Prirno^ Victor Field is a 
guest at the Wohenhoffens ball." 
" Oh, he is a guest here ? " 

" Yes, he is. You are wondering how I know. Nothing- 
si rr. pier. The same costumier who made my domino, supplied 
his Chinese dress. I noticed it at his shop. It struck me as 
rather nice, and I asked whom it was for. The costumier said, 
for an Englishman at the Hotel de Bade. Then he looked in his 
book, and told me the Englishman s name. It was Victor Field, 
So, when I saw the same Chinese dress here to-night, I knew it 
covered the person of one of my favourite authors. But I own, 
like you, I was a good deal surprised. What on earth should a 
little London literary man be doing at the Countess Wohen- 
The Yellow Book Vol. X. E hoffen s ? 

jo The Invisible Prince 

hoffen s ? And then I remembered the astonishing resemblance 
between Victor Field and Louis Leczinski ; and I remembered 
that to Louis Leczinski the Countess Wohenhoffen had been a 
second mother ; and I reflected that though he chose to be as one 
dead and buried for the rest of the world, Louis Leczinski might very 
probably keep up private relations with the Countess. He might 
very probably come to her ball, incognito, and safely masked. I 
observed also that the Countess s rooms were decorated through 
out with white lilac. But the white lilac is the emblematic flower 
of the Leczinskis ; green and white are their family colours. 
Wasn t the choice of white lilac on this occasion perhaps designed 
as a secret compliment to the Prince ? I was taught in the 
schoolroom that two and two make four." 

" Oh, one can see that you ve enjoyed a liberal education. But 
where were you taught to jump to conclusions ? You do it with a 
grace, an assurance. I too have heard that two and two make 
four ; but first you must catch your two and two. Really, as if 
there couldn t be more than one Chinese costume knocking 
about Vienna, during carnival week ! Dear, good, sweet lady, 
it s of all disguises the disguise they re driving hardest, this 
particular season. And then to build up an elaborate theory of 
identities upon the mere chance resemblance of a pair of photo 
graphs ! Photographs indeed ! Photographs don t give the com 
plexion. Say that your Invisible Prince is dark, what s to prevent 
your literary man from being fair or sandy ? Or vice vend ? 
And then, how is a little German Polish princeling to write poems 
and things in English ? No, no, no ; your reasoning hasn t a leg 
to stand on." 

" Oh, I don t mind its not having legs, so long as it convinces 
me. As for writing poems and things in English, you yourself 
said that everybody is more or less English, in these days. 


By Henry Harland 71 

German princes are especially so. They all learn English, as a 
second mother-tongue. You see, like Circassian beauties, they 
are mostly bred up for the marriage market ; and nothing is a 
greater help towards a good sound remunerative English marriage, 
than a knowledge of the language. However, don t be frightened. 
I must take it for granted that Victor Field would prefer not to 
let the world know who he is. I happen to have discovered his 
secret. He may trust to my discretion." 

" You still persist in imagining that I m Victor Field ? " 

" I should have to be extremely simple-minded to imagine 
anything else. You wouldn t be a male human being if you had 
sat here for half an hour patiently talking about another man." 

" Your argument, with a meretricious air of subtlety, is facile 
and superficial. I thank you for teaching me that word. I d sit 
here till doomsday talking about my worst enemy, for the pleasure 
of talking with you." 

" Perhaps we have been talking of your worst enemy. Whom 
do the moralists pretend a man s worst enemy is wont to be ? 

" I wish you would tell me the name of the person the moralists 
-would consider your worst enemy." 

" I ll tell you directly, as I said before, if you ll own up." 

" Your price is prohibitive. I ve nothing to own up to." 

" Well then good night." 

Lightly, swiftly, she fled from the conservatory, and was soon 
irrecoverable in the crowd. 


The next morning Victor Field left Vienna for London ; but 
before he left he wrote a letter to Peter Wohenhoffen. In the 
course of it he said : " There was an Englishwoman at your ball 
last night with the reasoning powers of a detective in a novel. 


72 The Invisible Prince 

By divers processes of elimination and induction, she had formed 
all sorts of theories about no end of things. Among others, for 
instance, she was willing to bet her halidome that a certain Prince 
Louis Leczinski, who seems to have gone on the spree some 
years ago, and never to have come home again she was willing 
to bet anything you like that Leczinski and I moi qui vans parle 
were to all intents and purposes the same. Who was she, 
please ? Rather a tall woman, in a black domino, with grey eyes, 
or greyish blue, and a nice voice." 

In the answer which he received from Peter Wohenhoffen 
towards the end of the week, Peter said : " There were nineteen 
Englishwomen at my mother s party, all of them rather tall, with 
nice voices, and grey or blue-grey eyes. I don t know what 
colours their dominoes were. Here is a list of them." 

The names that followed were names of people whom Victor 
Field almost certainly would never meet. The people Victor 
knew in London were the sort of people a little literary man 
might be expected to know. Most of them were respectable ; some 
of them even deemed themselves rather smart and patronised him 
right Britishly. But the nineteen names in Peter Wohenhoffen s 
list ("Oh, me ! Oh, my ! " cried Victor) were names to make 
you gasp. 

All the same, he went a good deal to Hyde Park during the 
season, and watched the driving. 

" Which of all those haughty high-born beauties is she ? " he 
wondered futilely. 

And then the season passed, and then the year ; and little by 
little, of course, he ceased to think about her. 


One afternoon last May, a man habited in accordance with 


By Henry Harland 73 

the fashion of the period, stopped before a hairdresser s shop in 
Knightsbridge somewhere, and, raising his hat, bowed to the 
three waxen ladies who simpered from the window. 

" Oh ! It s Mr. Field ! " a voice behind him cried. " What 
are these cryptic rites that you re performing ? What on earth 
are you bowing into a hairdresser s window for ? " a smooth, 
melodious voice, tinged by an inflection that was half ironical, 
half bewildered. 

" I was saluting the type of English beauty," he answered, 
turning. " Fortunately, there are divergencies from it," he 
added, as he met the puzzled smile of his interlocutrice ; a puzzled 
smile indeed, but, like the voice, by no means without its touch 
of irony. 

She gave a little laugh ; and then, examining the models 
critically, " Oh ? " she questioned. " Would you call that the 
type ? You place the type high. Their features are quite fault 
less, and who ever saw such complexions ? " 

" It s the type, all the same," said he. "Just as the imitation 
marionette is the type of English breeding." 

" The imitation marionette ? I m afraid I don t follow," she 

" The imitation marionettes. You ve seen them at little 
theatres in Italy. They re actors who imitate puppets. Men and 
women who try to behave as if they weren t human, as if they 
were made of starch and whalebone instead of flesh and blood." 

"Ah, yes," she assented, with another little laugh. "That 
would be rather typical of our insular methods. But do you 
know what an engaging, what a reviving spectacle you presented, 
as you stood there flourishing your hat ? What do you imagine 
people thought ? And what would have happened to you if I 
had just chanced to be a policeman, instead of a friend ? " 

" Would 

74 The Invisible Prince 

" Would you have clapped your handcuffs on me ? I suppose 
my conduct did seem rather suspicious. I was in the deepest 
depths of dejection. One must give some expression to one s 


" Are you going towards Kensington ? " she asked, preparing 
to move on. 

" Before I commit myself, I should like to be sure whether you 
are," he replied. 

"You can easily discover with a little perseverance." 

He placed himself beside her, and together they walked towards 

She was rather taller than the usual woman, and slender. She 
was exceedingly well-dressed ; smartly, becomingly : a jaunty 
little hat of strangely twisted straw, with an aigrette springing 
defiantly from it ; a jacket covered with mazes and labyrinths of 
embroidery ; at her throat a big knot of white lace, the ends of 
which fell winding in a creamy cascade to her waist (do they call 

the thing a jabot ?) ; and then But what can a man 

trust himself to write of these esoteric matters ? She carried 
herself extremely well, too : with grace, with distinction, her 
head held high, even thrown back a little, superciliously. She 
had an immense quantity of very lovely hair. Red hair ? Yellow 
hair ? Red hair with yellow lights burning in it ? Yellow hair 
with red fires shimmering through it ? In a single loose, full 
billow it swept away from her forehead, and then flowed into 
half-a-thousand rippling, crinkling, capricious undulations. And 
her skin had the sensitive colouring, the fineness of texture, that 
are apt to accompany red hair when it s yellow, yellow hair when 
it s red. Her face, with its pensive, quizzical eyes, its tip-tilted 
nose, its rather large mouth, and the little mocking quirks and 
curves the lips took, was an alert, arch, witty face, a delicate 


By Henry Harland 75 

high-bred face, and withal a somewhat sensuous, emotional face ; 
the face of a woman with a vast deal of humour in her soul, a vast 
deal of mischief, of a woman who would love to tease you and 
mystify you, and lead you on, and put you off, and yet who, in 
her own way, at her own time, would know supremely well how 
to be kind. 

But it was mischief rather than kindness that glimmered in her 
eyes at present, as she asked, " You were in the deepest depths of 
dejection ? Poor man ! Why ? " 

" I can t precisely determine," said he, " whether the sym 
pathy that seems to vibrate in your voice is genuine or counter 

" Perhaps it s half and half. But my curiosity is unmixed. 
Tell me your troubles." 

" The catalogue is long. I ve sixteen hundred million. The 
weather, for example. The shameless beauty of this radiant 
spring day. It s enough to stir all manner of wild pangs and 
longings in the heart of an octogenarian. But, anyhow, when 
one s life is passed in a dungeon, one can t perpetually be singing 
and dancing from mere exuberance of joy, can one ? " 

" Is your life passed in a dungeon ? " 

" Indeed, indeed, it is. Isn t yours ? " 

" It had never occurred to me that it was." 

" You re lucky. Mine is passed in the dungeons of Castle 

" Oh, Castle Ennui. Ah, yes. You mean you re bored ? " 

" At this particular moment I m savouring the most exquisite 
excitement. But in general, when I am not working or sleeping, 
I m bored to extermination incomparably bored. If only one 
could work and sleep alternately, twenty-four hours a day, the 
year round ! There s no use trying to play in London. It s so 


76 The Invisible Prince 

hard to find a playmate. The English people take their pleasures 
without salt." 

" The dungeons of Castle Ennui," she repeated meditatively. 
" Yes, we are fellow-prisoners. I m bored to extermination too. 
Still," she added, " one is allowed out on parole, now and again. 
And sometimes one has really quite delightful little experiences." 

" It would ill become me, in the present circumstances, to 
dispute that." 

"But the Castle waits to reclaim us afterwards, doesn t it? 
That s rather a happy image, Castle Ennui." 

" I m extremely glad you approve of it ; Castle Ennui is the 
Bastille of modern life. It is built of prunes and prisms ; it has 
its outer court of Convention, and its inner court of Propriety ; 
it is moated round by Respectability; and the shackles its inmates 
wear are forged of dull little duties and arbitrary little rules. You 
can only escape from it at the risk of breaking your social neck, 
or remaining a fugitive from social justice to the end of your 
days. Yes, it is a fairly decent little image." 

" A bit out of something you re preparing for the press ? " she 

"Oh, how unkind of you!" he cried. "It was absolutely 

" One can never tell, with vans autres gens-de-lettres" 

"It would be friendlier to say nous autres gens a" 1 esprit" 

" Aren t we proving to what degree nous autres gens cf esprit 
so>:t betes" she remarked, " by continuing to walk along this 
narrow pavement, when we can get into Kensington Gardens by 
merely crossing the street ? Would it take you out of your 
way ? " 


u I have no way. I was sauntering for pleasure, if you can 
believe me. I wish I could hope that you have no way either. 


By Henry Harland 77 

Then we could stop here, and crack little jokes together the 
livelong afternoon," he said, as they entered the Gardens. 

" Alas, my way leads straight back to the Castle. I ve pro 
mised to call on an old woman in Campden Hill." 

" Disappoint her. It s good for old women to be disappointed. 
It whips up their circulation." 

" I shouldn t much regret disappointing the old woman, and I 
should rather like an hour or two of stolen freedom. I don t 
mind owning that I ve generally found you, as men go, a moder 
ately interesting man to talk with. But the deuce of it is 

You permit the expression ? " 

" I m devoted to the expression." 

" The deuce of it is, I m supposed to be driving." 

" Oh, that doesn t matter. So many suppositions in this world 
are baseless." 

" But there s the prison-van. It s one of the tiresome rules in 
the female wing of Castle Ennui that you re always supposed, 
more or less, to be driving. And though you may cheat the 
authorities by slipping out of the prison-van directly it s turned 
the corner, and sending it on ahead, there it remains, a factor 
that can t be eliminated. The prison-van will relentlessly await 
my arrival in the old woman s street." 

" That only adds to the sport. Let it wait. When a factor 
can t be eliminated, it should be haughtily ignored. Besides, 
there are higher considerations. If you leave me, what shall I do 
with the rest of this weary day ? " 

" You can go to your club." 

" Merciful lady ! What sin have I committed ? I never go 
to my club, except when I ve been wicked, as a penance. If you 
will permit me to employ a metaphor oh, but a tried and trusty 
metaphor when one ship on the sea meets another in distress, it 


78 The Invisible Prince 

stops and comforts it, and forgets all about its previous engage 
ments and the prison-van and everything. Shall we cross to the 
north, and see whether the Serpentine is in its place ? Or would 
you prefer to inspect the eastern front of the Palace ? Or may I 
offer you a penny chair ? " 

" I think a penny chair would be the maddest of the three 

And they sat down in penny chairs. 

"It s rather jolly here, isn t it?" said he. "The trees, with 
their black trunks, and their leaves, and things. Have you ever seen 
such sumptuous foliage ? And the greensward, and the shadows, 
and the sunlight, and the atmosphere, and the mistiness isn t it 
like pearl-dust and gold-dust floating in the air ? It s all got up 
to imitate the background of a Watteau. We must do our best 
to be frivolous and ribald, and supply a proper foreground. How 
big and fleecy and white the clouds are. Do you think they re 
made of cotton-wool ? And what do you suppose they paint the 
sky with ? There never was such a brilliant, breath-taking blue. 
It s much too nice to be natural. And they ve sprinkled the 
whole place with scent, haven t they ? You notice how fresh and 
sweet it smells. If only one could get rid of the sparrows the 
cynical little beasts ! hear how they re chortling and the people, 
and the nursemaids and children. I have never been able to under 
stand why they admit the public to the parks." 

" Go on," she encouraged him. " You re succeeding admirably 
in your effort to be ribald." 

"But that last remark wasn t ribald in the least it was 
desperately sincere. I do think it s inconsiderate of them to admit 
the public to the parks. They ought to exclude all the lower 
classes, the People, at one fell swoop, and then to discriminate 
tremendously amongst the others." 

" Mercy, 

By Henry Harland 79 

"Mercy, what undemocratic sentiments ! The People, the 
poor dear People what have they done ? " 

" Everything. What haven t they done ? One could forgive 
their being dirty and stupid and noisy and rude ; one could forgive 
their ugliness, the ineffable banality of their faces, their goggle-eyes, 
their protruding teeth, their ungainly motions ; but the trait one 
can t forgive is their venality. They re so mercenary. They re 
always thinking how much they can get out of you everlastingly 
touching their hats and expecting you to put your hand in your 
pocket. Oh, no, believe me, there s no health in the People. 
Ground down under the iron heel of despotism, reduced to a 
condition of hopeless serfdom, I don t say that they might not 
develop redeeming virtues. But free, but sovereign, as they are 
in these days, they re everything that is squalid and sordid and 
offensive. Besides, they read such abominably bad literature." 

" In that particular they re curiously like the aristocracy, aren t 
they ? " said she. " By-the-bye, when are you going to publish 
another book of poems ? " 

" Apropos of bad literature ? " 

" Not altogether bad. I rather like your poems." 

"So do I," said he. "It s useless to pretend that we haven t 

tastes in common." 

They were both silent for a bit. She looked at him oddly, an 
inscrutable little light flickering in her eyes. All at once she 
broke out with a merry trill of laughter. 

" What are you laughing at ? " he demanded. 

" I m hugely amused," she answered. 

" I wasn t aware that I d said anything especially good." 

"You re building better than you know. But if I am amused, 
you look ripe for tears. What is the matter ? " 

" Every heart knows its own bitterness. Don t pay the least 


80 The Invisible Prince 

attention to me. You mustn t let moodiness of mine cast a blight 
upon your high spirits." 

" No fear. There are pleasures that nothing can rob of their 
sweetness. Life is not all dust and ashes. There are bright 

"Yes, I ve no doubt there are." 

" And thrilling little adventures no ? " 

" For the bold, I dare say." 

" None but the bold deserve them. Sometimes it s one thing, 
and sometimes it s another." 

" That s very certain." 

" Sometimes, for instance, one meets a man one knows, and 
speaks to him. And he answers with a glibness ! And then, 
almost directly, what do you suppose one discovers ? " 

" What ? " 

" One discovers that the wretch hasn t the ghost of a notion who 
one is that he s totally and absolutely forgotten one ! " 

" Oh, I say ! Really ? " 

" Yes, really. You can t deny that that s an exhilarating little 

" I should think it might be. One could enjoy the man s 

" Or his lack of embarrassment. Some men are of an assurance, 
of a sangfroid ! They ll place themselves beside you, and walk 
with you, and talk with you, and even propose that you should 
pass the livelong afternoon cracking jokes with them in a garden, 
and never breathe a hint of their perplexity. They ll brazen it 


" That s distinctly heroic, Spartan, of them, don t you think ? 
Internally, poor dears, they re very likely suffering agonies of 

" We ll 

By Henry Harland 81 

" We ll hope they are. Could they decently do less ? 
"And fancy the mental struggles that must be going on in 
their brains. If I were a man in such a situation I d throw 
myself upon the woman s mercy. I d say, Beautiful, sweet lady, 
I know I know you. Your name, your entirely charming and 
appropriate name, is trembling on the tip of my tongue. But, for 
some unaccountable reason, my brute of a memory chooses to play 
the fool. If you ve a spark of Christian kindness in your soul, 
you ll come to my rescue with a little clue. 

" If the woman had a Christian sense of the ridiculous in her 
soul, I fear you d throw yourself on her mercy in vain." 
" What is the good of tantalising people ? " 
"Besides, the woman might reasonably feel slightly humiliated 
to find herself forgotten in that bare-faced manner." 

" The humiliation surely would be all the man s. Have you 
heard from the WohenhofFens lately ? " 
" The what ? The who ? " 
" The WohenhofFens." 

" What are the WohenhofFens ? Are they persons ? Are thev 
things ? " 

" Oh, nothing. My enquiry was merely dictated by a thirst 
for knowledge. It occurred to me vaguely that you might have 
worn a black domino at a masked ball they gave, the Wohen 
hofFens. Are you sure you didn t." 

" I ve a great mind to punish your forgetfulness by pretending 
that I did." 

"She was rather tall, like you, and she had grey eyes, and a 
nice voice, and a laugh that was sweeter than the singing of 
nightingales. She was monstrously clever, too, with a flow of 
language that would have made her a leader in any sphere. She 
was also a perfect fiend. I have always been anxious to meet her 


82 The Invisible Prince 

again, in order that I might ask her to marry me. I m strongly 
disposed to believe that she was you. Was she ? " 

" If I say yes, will you at once proceed to ask me to marry 
you ? " 

" Try it and see." 

" Ce rfest pas la pelne. It occasionally happens that a woman s 
already got a husband." 

"She said she was an old maid." 

" Do you dare to insinuate that I look like an old maid ? " 

" Yes." 

" Upon my word ! " 

"Would you wish me to insinuate that you look like anything 
so insipid as a young girl ? JVere you the woman of the black 
domino ? " 

" I should need further information, before being able to make 
up my mind. Are the what s their name ? Wohenheimer ? 
are the Wohenheimers people one can safely confess to knowing ? 
Oh, you re a man, and don t count. But a woman ? It sounds 
a trifle Jewish, Wohenheimer. But of course there are Jews and 

"You re playing with me like the cat in the adage. It s too 
cruel. No one is responsible for his memory." 

" And to think that this man took me down to dinner not two 
months ago ! " she murmured in her veil. 

" You re as hard as nails. In whose house ? Or stay. 
Prompt me a little. Tell me the first syllable of your name. 
Then the rest will come with a rush." 

" My name is Matilda Muggins." 

" I ve a great mind to punish your untruthfulness by pretending 
to believe you," said he. " Have you really got a husband ? " 

" Why do you doubt it ? " 

I don t 

By Henry Harland 83 

" I don t doubt it. Have you ? " 

" I don t know what to answer." 

" Don t you know whether you ve got a husband ? " 

"I don t know what I d better let you believe. Yes, on the 
whole, I think you may as well assume that I ve got a husband." 

"And a lover, too ? " 

" Really ! I like your impertinence ! " 

" I only asked to show a polite interest. I knew the answer 
would be an indignant negative. You re an Englishwoman, and 
you re nice. Oh, one can see with half an eye that you re nice. 
But that a nice Englishwoman should have a lover is as 
inconceivable as that she should smoke a pipe. It s only the 
reg lar bad-uns in England who have lovers. There s nothing 
between the family pew and the divorce court. One nice 
Englishwoman is a match for the whole Eleven Thousand 
Virgins of Cologne." 

" To hear you talk, one might fancy you were not English 
yourself. For a man of the name of Field, you re uncommonly 
foreign. You look rather foreign too, you know, by-the-bye. 
You haven t at all an English cast of countenance." 

" I ve enjoyed the advantages of a foreign education. I was 
brought up abroad." 

"Where your features unconsciously assimilated themselves to 
a foreign type ? Where you learned a hundred thousand strange 
little foreign things, no doubt ? And imbibed a hundred 
thousand unprincipled little foreign notions ? And all the 
ingenuous little foreign prejudices and misconceptions concerning 
England ? " 

" Most of them." 

" Perfide Albion ? English hypocrisy ? " 

" Oh, yes, the English are consummate hypocrites. But there s 


84 The Invisible Prince 

only one objection to their hypocrisy it so rarely covers any 
wickedness. It s such a disappointment to see a creature stalking 
towards you, laboriously draped in sheep s clothing, and then to 
discover that it s only a sheep. You, for instance, as I took the 
liberty of intimating a moment ago, in spite of your perfectly 
respectable appearance, are a perfectly respectable woman. If 
you weren t, wouldn t I be making furious love to you, though ! 

" As I am, I can see no reason why you shouldn t make furious 
love to me, if it would amuse you. There s no harm in firing 
your pistol at a person who s bullet-proof." 

" No ; it s merely a wanton waste of powder and shot. 
However, I shouldn t stick at that. The deuce of it is. ... 
You permit the expression ? v 

" I m devoted to the expression." 

"The deuce of it is, you profess to be married." 

"Do you mean to say that you, with your unprincipled foreign 
notions, would be restrained by any such consideration as that ? " 

" I shouldn t be for an instant if I weren t in love with 

" Comment done? Deja ?" she cried with a laugh. 

" Oh, deja ! Why not ? Consider the weather consider the 
scene. Is the air soft, is it fragrant ? Look at the sky good 
heavens ! and the clouds, and the shadows on the grass, and the 
sunshine between the trees. The world is made of light to-day, 
of light and colour, and perfume and music. Tutt 1 intorno canta 
amor^ amorfamore ! What would you have ? One recognises one s 
affinity. One doesn t need a lifetime. You began the business 
at the WohenhofFens ball. To-day you ve merely put on the 
finishing touches." 

" Oh, then I am the woman you met at the masked ball ? " 

" Look me in the eye, and tell me you re not." 

I haven t 

By Henry Harland 85 

" I haven t the faintest interest in telling you I m not. On 
the contrary, it rather pleases me to let you imagine that I am." 

" She owed me a grudge, you know. I hoodwinked her like 

" Oh, did you ? Then, as a sister woman, I should be glad to 
serve as her instrument of vengeance. Do you happen to have 
such a thing as a watch about you ? " 

" Yes." 

" Will you be good enough to tell me what o clock it is ? : 

"What are your motives for asking ? " 

" I m expected at home at five." 

" Where do you live ? " 

" What are your motives for asking ? " 

" I want to call upon you." 

" You might wait till you re invited." 

" Well, invite me quick ! " 

" Never." 

Never ? " 

" Never, never, never. A man who s forgotten me as you 
have ! " 

" But if I ve only met you once at a masked ball " 

" Can t you be brought to realise that every time you mistake 
me for that woman of the masked ball you turn the dagger in 
the wound ? " 

" But if you won t invite me to call upon you, how and when 
am I to see you again ? 

" I haven t an idea," she answered, cheerfully. " I must go 
now. Good bye." She rose. 

" One moment. Before you go will you allow me to look at 
the palm of your left hand ? 

" What for ? " 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. F "I can 

86 The Invisible Prince 

" I can tell fortunes. I m extremely good at it. I ll tell you 

" Oh, very well," she assented, sitting down again : and guile 
lessly she pulled off her glove. 

He took her hand, a beautifully slender, nervous hand, warm 
and soft, with rosy, tapering ringers. 

" Oho ! you are an old maid after all," he cried. " There s no 
wedding ring." 

" You villain ! " she gasped, snatching the hand away. 

" I promised to tell your fortune. Haven t I told it correctly ? " 

" You needn t rub it in, though. Eccentric old maids don t 
like to be reminded of their condition." 

" Will you marry me? 1 

Why do you ask ? " 

" Partly from curiosity. Partly because it s the only way I can 
think of, to make sure of seeing you again. And then, I like 
your hair. Will you ? " 

" I can t." 

" Why not ? " 

" The stars forbid. And I m ambitious. In my horoscope it 
is written that I shall either never marry at all, or marry royalty." 

" Oh, bother ambition ! Cheat your horoscope. Marry me. 
Will you ? " 

"If you care to follow me," she said, rising again, " you can 
come and help me to commit a little theft." 

He followed her to an obscure and sheltered corner of a flowery 
path, where she stopped before a bush of white lilac. 

" There are no keepers in sight, are there ? " she questioned. 

" I don t see any," said he. 

" Then allow me to make you a receiver of stolen goods," said 
she, breaking off a spray, and handing it to him. 

" Thank 

By Henry Harland 87 

"Thank you. But I d rather have an answer to my question." 

" Isn t that an answer ? " 

" Is it ? " 

"White lilac to the Invisible Prince ? " 

" The Invisible Prince .... Then you are the black 
domino ! " 

" Oh, I suppose so." 

" And you will marry me ? 

" I ll tell the aunt I live with to ask you to dinner." 

" But will you marry me ? 

" I thought you wished me to cheat my horoscope ? 

" How could you find a better means of doing so ? " 

" What ! if I should marry Louis Leczinski . . . . ? " 

" Oh, to be sure. You would have it that I was Louis Lec 
zinski. But, on that subject, I must warn you seriously " 

"One instant," she interrupted. "People must look other 
people straight in the face when they re giving serious warnings. 
Look straight into my eyes, and continue your serious warning." 

" I must really warn you seriously," said he, biting his lip, 
" that if you persist in that preposterous delusion about my being 
Louis Leczinski, you ll be most awfully sold. I have nothing on 
earth to do with Louis Leczinski. Your ingenious little theories, 
as I tried to convince you at the time, were absolute romance." 

Her eyebrows raised a little, she kept her eyes fixed steadily on 
his oh, in the drollest fashion, with a gaze that seemed to say 
" How admirably you do it ! I wonder whether you imagine I 
believe you. Oh, you fibber ! Aren t you ashamed to tell me 
such abominable fibs ?".... 

They stood still, eyeing each other thus, for something like 
twenty seconds, and then they both laughed and walked on. 

An Emblem of Translation 

By Richard Garnett, C.B., LL.D. 

NOT of one growth the solemn forests are ; 
Not solely is the stately alley made 
Of towers of foliage and tents of shade, 
Sturdy, deep-rooted, massy, secular : 

But briar astray, and bines that ramble far, 

And cup and crown of Bacchus blend and braid 
With all that creeps disabled and afraid 

To mount by its own might toward sun and star. 

A lowly birth ! yet lovely even so, 

Through bush and brake it serpenting doth wend, 
Vagrant with baffled rovings to and fro, 

Till soaring stem or stooping bough befriend : 
Then high the vine shall as the cedar grow, 
And from his summit shall her fruit depend. 

Two Pictures 

By J. Herbert McNair 

I. The Dew 

II. Ysighlu 

" The very shadows in the cave wor 
shipped her. The little waves threw 
themselves at her feet, and kissed 

La Goya 

A Passion of the Peruvian Desert 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 


YES, you are right. It is a queer existence for a civilised man 
to lead ; but habit subdues us to all things. Here I have 
lived for two years on this barren rock, overlooking the little bay 
where the desert meets the sea. A lonely life, too, for there are 
only three of us, myself and the two young Peruvians, Manuel 
and Francisco, who share the duties of the hacienda with me. 
The estate is so vast, and needs so much attention, that there are 
rarely more than two of us together at a time. They were 
educated in England in the days before the Chilian War, when 
all Peru was rich, and they are the best of companions for a 
moody man. Like all their race, they know none of our gloomy 
introspection. Life for them is pleasure and laughter : and if 
they indulge more effusively in affection and more emphatically in 
hatred than we do, one soon grows accustomed to demonstrations. 
Had you told me, once upon a time, that I could have endured 
such a life, I should have laughed at you ; now it is a delight to 
me. It is free as no other life could be. We are lords of all 
about us ; we make our own laws, set our own fashions, deter 

98 La Goya 

gay days that are gone, and of the joys life has for him even now, 
and finish with a sigh "O Patroncito, what a pity it is that I 
must die! " 

I don t suppose the world contains a happier race than the 
Cholos the Indians who form the great bulk of the coast 
population of Peru. They gather in little communities or 
villages, cultivate small chacras or farms along the rivers, and work 
as labourers on the haciendas during the cotton season ; or else 
they become the half-serflike tenantry of the large estates, live 
among the quebradas of the desert, wherever water is found, 
breed herds of goats, and do such work for their patron, or master, 
as the needs of the hacienda require. They are a kindly, 
listless, gentle people ; not exactly lazy, but slow, and without 
much energy. They have no ambitions or torturing aspirations. 
Their wants are easily met, the chacras and the herds supply most 
of them ; the proceeds of their labour are sufficient for the 
purchase of the little fineries with which they deck themselves 
for a fiesta. And is life anything more than food and satisfied 
vanity ? 

But don t from this conclude that they are dull and besotted ; 
far from it. Win their confidence and you will find them full of 
gay chatter, light jests and pretty sentiments, and their hospitality 
is spontaneous and boundless to those whom they like and who 
treat them with kindness. Naturally those who dwell together in 
villages are cleverer and more civilised than those who are isolated 
in the desert ; almost all of them can read and write. 

The morals of the community are a study ; they are singularly 
like no morals at all. Such a conclusion, however, would be 
superficial. They are very punctilious in the observance or 
the conventions sanctioned by their point of view. I suppose 
that not five per cent, of the Cholo population are legally 

married ; 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 99 

married ; yet prostitution, in our sense, is unknown. Their 
union is a mutual agreement, without many conditions. A 
woman reaches maturity when she is between fourteen and 
fifteen. During all her girlhood she has lived in a house where 
privacy, as we know it, is unthought of. She has heard every 
part of the human body spoken of, as the most natural thing 
in the world. She cannot imagine why a moral or formal 
distinction should be drawn between them. For all that she is as 
innocent as a baby. It is only the awakening of her passions 
through the development of her physical nature that gives her an 
instinctive knowledge of the relation of the sexes. At one of the 
everlasting fandangoes, she meets some man who shows a 
preference for her ; later on he proves his love by making her 
small presents and paying her small attentions. Wooings are brief 
in this land of the sun. If her parents agree, she is his ; if they 
oppose, he settles the difficulty with a coup and runs away with 
her to his home. Thus she becomes his wife, and his dominion 
over her is supreme. He may ill treat her and neglect her, he 
may have four or five other women scattered about the country, 
either at their homes or with some of his relatives, it makes no 
difference ; so long as she is with him and he supports her, she 
will be faithful. This is an almost invariable rule, and it is the 
basis of her respectability. He may grow tired of her before a 
year is over and send her back to her people perhaps with a very 
lively reminder of her hard luck to keep her company ; her 
father s house will be freely open to her and no shame of any sort 
will attach to her. As the months go by another lover may 
appear who cares little about the past. They know nothing of 
our sentimental yesterdays. As a rule though, the men are kind 
and good to their compromisas and remain with them all their 


ioo La Goya 

When young, the women are very attractive, with gorgeous 
eyes and perfect teeth, glossy raven hair and graceful voluptuous 
figures. They soon grow stout and fade, however, but the 
beauty of the eyes always remains. 

Religion is only a name among the natives. True they call 
their children after all the saints in the calendar and they duly 
celebrate all the feasts of the church, but there is more of form 
than of faith in their devotion. It is fear not love that moves 
them. Wherever a village is able to maintain a cura y a church 
adorns one side of the principal plaza. From the belfry, bells 
jangle discordantly all day long, and black robed women flock to 
masses and prayers ; but superstition has more place than piety in 
their hearts. The priests are ignorant and corrupt, debauched 
and licentious. They think little of the value of example as a 
teacher. With them, religion is a business that has its set hours ; 
those over, playtime comes. So religion rests with equal lightness 
on the people. Children must be baptized, confession must be 
made now and then, an Ave Maria and the sign of the cross are 
a sure protection in danger, a candle burned before a saint brings 
the fulfilment of wishes, scapulas ward off the devil, the good 
see heaven, the bad are burned ; but Mary and the church are 
indulgent with human frailty ; all this they know and believe, and 
feel secure. I must confess that there are occasions when they 
show a marked aptitude for mendacity, and they do not always 
respect the laws of property ; yet their kindly hearts keep them 
out of any serious mischief. Docile and obedient, they respect 
authority and endure even oppression without complaint. Were 
it not for the taxes and the excisemen they would never know a 

Such are my people, such is the halcyon placidity of their lives 
as level as the desert but as full of sunshine. Do you wonder 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 101 

that the spirit is contagious and that I say I am content ? It is a 
purely physical existence, always on horseback and out of doors, 
but health such as ours amply repays all the sacrifices that seem to 
bewilder you. Ennui comes of excess, not of simplicity. 

Well, the night is running away. Over the reef, at the mouth 
of the harbour, the waves are howling like drunken men in a 
quarrel. The wind is full of ghostly suggestions. The halyards 
of the flag-poles on the verandah are tapping like woodpeckers 
against a tree. In the great reaches of the rushing tide the balsa 
at the buoy tugs on its chain like an impatient captive. Across 
the bay, the lights of the native villages twinkle like fallen stars. 
A hazy moonlight makes the world mysterious. The rhythm of 
the sea is quick, like the heart-beats of desire. While the world 
sleeps, Nature is astir. Good-night. 


I did not think when I last wrote you that my next letter 
would be a confession, but it seems that it must be. 

Forty miles to the south of us, across the desert, lies the valley 
of the Chira, the principal river of this northern region, crowded 
with little villages and towns, to one of which I had despatched 
old Juan on a commission. The other morning, while I was sit 
ting at my lonely breakfast, I heard the jingle of the unmistakable 
silver spurs on the verandah, and the old man entered, still wrapped 
in his poncho after his long night ride for here most journeys are 
made at night with a brief bivouac for rest, to escape the merciless 

He made his report and paused. 

" Well, what s the news on the river, Juan ? " I asked him. 

" Patron," he said, tentatively ; " next week there is to be a 
great fandango at Amotape. Wouldn t you like to go ? " 

" O pshaw f 

IO2 La Goya 

" O pshaw ! what s the use, Juan ? It s always the same old 
story : nothing but a long ride, no sleep, and less fun." 

My indifference to such pleasures, which, to his mind, are all 
the reward life gives us for the trouble of living, is Juan s greatest 

" But, sefior, the prettiest Cholitas from all along the river are 
to be there ; you can t fail to enjoy it." 

I laughed. 

" O well, Juan, mi amigo, we ll see when the time comes." 

The poor old fellow sighed, for the answer, which he had heard 
so often before, seemed hopeless ; and so the matter dropped. 

When, however, a few days later, Manuel came in from the 
cotton-fields in one of our valleys, where he had been slaving for 
a week, and heard of the approaching fiesta, he would listen to 
none of my objections ; go we must. So one afternoon we set 
out ; he, Juan and I, and our boys, for the river. 

The desert is truly trackless ; there is not a road across it, only 
narrow trails, which the shifting sands are for ever obliterating ; 
but the boys are unerring guides. Even on the darkest night, 
some instinct keeps them to the faint silver line that to our eyes is 
imperceptible. We sped along over sandy tracts and rocky 
stretches, dotted with withered thorn bushes. Touches of green 
relieved the glaring expanse as we crossed the little quebradas, 
where the algarroba trees send down their long tap roots, some 
times fifty feet, to the retentive sub-soil, where the water still 
lingers. The sun blazed fiercely, but the air was dry and elastic. 
The wind blows always from the southward ; from the sea by 
day, from the shore by night, heaping the sand into great crescent- 
shaped, moving hills or medenas^ that creep stealthily over the level 
waste, growing hour by hour, and burying all things that lie in their 
path. It was night when we descended the steep cliffs into the 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 103 

valley, and rode along the silent chacras into the town scattered 
suburbs of cane huts, a few rows of more pretentious mud-covered 
houses, then the white plastered dwellings of the plaza. 

The narrow, dusty streets were alight with lamps and thronged 
with merrymakers wending their way to the picantes and dances. 
Some of the men awkwardly sported the cheap ready-made raiment 
that is beginning to invade even this country, but most of them 
adhered to the more graceful old costume of stiffly starched shirts, 
white trousers, and coloured sashes. The women wore gay prints 
of every hue, ribbons and flowers, and trinkets ; while over the 
head and shoulders was wrapped the soft black manta, or the 
more festive pale blue and white scarf of Guadalupe with its deep 
fringes of native lace. 

Juan, who is nothing if not an epicure, readily discovered the best 
picante, and soon we were at supper. A picante might be called 
in English the native gala day restaurant. Throughout the fiesta 
food may be had day and night ; all the world dines there, for the 
women are too busy holidaying to waste the time in household 
duties. Seco, or dry stew of goat s meat with rice and sweet 
potatoes, slightly flavoured ; churasco, fried steak with onions and 
an egg ; Chicharones^ or the small pieces of pork that separate 
from the fat in rendering lard a popular delicacy with the 
Indians ; salchichones, or sausages ; and last, and best of all, the 
tamales a highly-seasoned stew of pork and chicken, steamed in 
an outer paste of ground maize, wrapped in thick pudding-cloths 
of maize leaves. The dust of the road that filled our throats 
and the ajt y or the hot red pepper, with which the dishes were 
plentifully sprinkled, made very welcome the great gourdfuls of 
chicha with which they served us. Chicha was the royal beverage 
of the Inca long before the conquest ; the native beer, brewed 
from maize. It is the favourite still, in spite of all modern 


1 04 La Goya 

innovations. Gourds serve for everything, plates and cups, and 
bowls and platters, work-baskets, water-bottles, and even bath 
tubs, and the service is apt to be a wooden spoon, although 
crockery and pewter are now common enough. 

While we were feasting, Juan had been scouting for the most 
promising fandango. Half an hour later I found myself comfort 
ably stretched on a bench in a large bare room, puffing at my 
pipe, and yielding to the pleasant languor that follows a long ride 
and a hearty supper. The bancos^ or seats, built around the lime- 
whitened walls, were crowded with guests. Juan s promise had 
been fulfilled, for certainly the prettiest girls of the river were 
around us ; a fact which had instantly impressed Manuel, for he 
was passing from group to group, scattering gay nothings and 
laughter everywhere. Fortunately we were too well known for 
our presence to be an embarrassment to our simpler friends. The 
natural abandon of such a gathering is its only charm to a civilized 
man yet, had we been the greatest strangers, old Juan s diplomacy 
would soon have set every one at ease. He has a marvellous 
mastery over awkward situations. 

The mirth was a little subdued, although bottles and glasses 
were circulating and healths were being drunk. It is a gross 
breach of etiquette to toast back to the person who has toasted 
you ; that each may have his share you must pay your salutations 
to another. Every one, men and women alike, were smoking the 
little yellow papered cigarettes, in unconscious emulation of the 
open petroleum lamps that lighted up the scene and made swaying 
shadows of the corners. The dancing was only beginning, in 
spite of the fact that at one side of the room the orchestra was 
bravely striving to stir up some excitement. In unison with a 
rather metallic guitar, a blind harpist tugged at the strings of a 
strangely shaped instrument with an enormous sounding board. 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 105 

On either side of him sat two men, who emphasised the broken 
time of the dance by pounding on the sounding board with their 
hands, while the harpist sang the familiar words of the song, or 
improvised with considerable cleverness new verses for the 
occasion. The whole orchestra joined in the chorus in a high 
nasal key. Noise was more important than melody. 

The dance is always the same, and is performed by couples as 
many as the floor will accommodate ; all present mark time by 
the clapping of hands. In these diversions old and young 
participate ; they have known the dance from childhood. The 
women far surpass the men in grace, they show less self-con 
sciousness and effort. With the most expert, the movement is 
from the hips entirely, and a woman has reached perfection when 
she can go through the measures with a bottle balanced on her 
head. I have never seen a man who was able to perform this 
feat. There are three figures ; in the first, the pair advance and 
retire and turn, waving their handkerchiefs while their feet move 
to the rhythm of the music. During a pause the man approaches 
a large table covered with bottles, where the hostess is dispensing 
Anizado, a fiery liquor distilled from aniseed and alcohol, and 
purchases a large tumbler-full, which he and his companion sip 
alternately. The second figure runs more quickly. The song 
and the music are louder. With knees bent in an attitude of 
supplication, the man hovers about the woman who spins 
coquettishly before him. There is much of liberty but little of 
license, still the suggestion remains. Again a pause. Amidst 
bravos and handclapping, the third figure begins. Feet speed in 
and out, the bodies whirl and sway to the flash of the handker 
chiefs. The song and the music wax louder and faster in half 
barbaric excitement. Shouts and cries encourage and applaud the 
dancers. The tumult is deafening, the dance delirious. Squibs 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. G sputter 

106 La Goya 

sputter beneath the flying feet. As if possessed they advance 
and turn and retreat, until, through sheer exhaustion, they are 
forced to stop. 

Perhaps you think it a vulgar scene yet I enjoyed it. After 
all, physical pleasure is our real joy. To lie there indolently and 
watch the lamplight gleam on dusky bosoms ; to see the dark 
eyes flash in the excitement of noise and movement ; to forget to 
morrow, and to recall half forgotten yesterdays ; to think of 
whiter breasts and nimbler tongues ; of the life that is over and 
gone, all in a sensuous thoughtless way, is a pleasant enough 
sensation. For what is the use of pondering over life and of 
trying to find something in it that is really worth the trouble ? 
We know it is only the drift of years, the desire of youth, the 
regret of age and then the eternal silence. It is better to let our 
pulses throb while they can ; to give over the wondering and the 
idealising, and to take such joy of life as our senses give us. 
There may be a morning of sermons and soda water somewhere, 
but who cares ? So I lay there and smoked. 

The crowd gathered about the door jostled and swayed, and as 
it finally parted, an old woman and a young girl entered and took 
seats across the room directly opposite me. The girl threw back 
her scarf and revealed a face that at once brought me back to 
realities. As usual, philosophy surrendered to life, and I watched 
her intently. Her beauty was thrilling. She was about sixteen, 
just in the prime of her womanhood, for after that age these 
women grow stout. Her face was perfect in type. A flush of 
rose gave life to the faint duskiness of her cheeks where two 
dimples played at hide and seek with their twin brothers lurking 
at the corners of her full mouth. From some forgotten strain, 
she had inherited the Inca nose with its broad base, its exquisite 
aquiline curve, and its fine nostrils ; to my mind, in its purity, 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 107 

the most perfect of human features. Like all her race, she had 
teeth of ivory. Don t think I am raving when I tell you that I 
have never seen eyes in which so many emotions seemed to lurk. 
They were dark, of course, in a setting of high arched brows and 
long sweeping lashes, otherwise they defy description. Her fore 
head was low, but broader than is usual, though the waves of her 
black glossy hair sent out a faint ripple or two of down upon her 

There was an unmistakable superiority about her which her 
companions seemed to recognise, for they approached her with 
deference. Even her dress displayed more taste than that of the 
women about her, yet she was arrayed according to the same 
simple rules. 

There was no use trying to be indifferent before such a 
picture. I crossed over to where she was sitting and bowed 

" Good evening, Senorita," and in the Spanish fashion, I told 
her my name and assured her I was at her orders. 

" Your servant, Gregoria Paz," she replied with perfect com 

"Senorita Goya," I said, using the pretty diminutive of her 
name, " I am sorry to confess that I do not dance, but will you 
not permit me to sit here and talk to you ? " 

Most of the women would have been shy and awkward at first, 
but she made way for me most courteously. A natural coquetry 
gave grace to every movement she made ; yet she tempered it 
with an air of dignity and reserve that put even me upon my best 
behaviour. The sensation was certainly amusing. My attentions 
pleased her, that was evident ; but whenever I ventured upon 
even conversational liberties she had a way of tossing back her 
head and looking at me out of the corners of her great flashing 


i io La Goya 

Through wide open doorways I caught sight of gaily illuminated 
nacimientos, altar-like structures, adorned with the most fantastic 
and incongruous assortment of trifles, which in a measure take the 
place of our Christmas-trees. The plaza was thronged. Happy 
groups squatted on the ground or sauntered about, watching the 
fireworks that were being discharged from a temporary stand. 
The exhibition was really very creditable. Even the blase I found 
a pleasure in the flaming wheels and constellated bombs. Would 
you believe it, the poor creatures, who have little more than baked 
camotes to live on, spent over a thousand soles on that display ? 

Acquaintances greeted me everywhere, and I speedily learned 
that the Goya was present. Soon I came across them all, a family 
party, seated in a circle, gazing with the silence of a year s 
accumulated wonder at the blaze of sparks and fire. Yes, she was 
there. The moon showed me a pretty picture, truly. Round 
her shoulders was drawn a light scarf; flowers intensified the 
blackness of her heavy hair. Her face seemed very fair ; her eyes 
were as deep as the night. 

After the usual round of salutations I sat down beside her. 

" How finely we are dressed to-night, Goyita." 

" Una pobre^ coma yo ?" she replied disparagingly. 

" A poor girl like you, Goyita ? That s more your fault than 
mine. What a fool you are not to care for me." 

" Fool, indeed ! " she replied with a toss of her head, " You d 
never have let me come to see these fireworks." 

"And since when have I had the reputation of a tyrant, 
querida ? Pshaw, you might have fireworks every day if you 
wished. Why do you treat me so cruelly ? You know that I 
adore you. Is it the custom of your countrywomen to reward 
devotion with disdain ? " 

And so we set to whispering. She was anxious to know if we 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 1 1 r 

observed Christmas in my country. She readily understood when 
I told her of Santa Claus and the Christmas trees and even the 
mistletoe, but the story of the snow puzzled her. I could only 
describe it to her as a feathery rain that fell and lingered, and 
when it was over, left the world silent and white like the desert 
under the moonlight. 

But I knew that the wonderland of conversation would hardly 
take the place of the tangible delights about us, in the Goya s 
mind. So, accompanied by the whole family, we made the round 
of the dances and nacimientos. I fancy the youngster was not at 
all displeased at the sensation created by her appearance under the 
escort of the big Gringo, as they call us foreigners. 

The nacimiento is a common form of Christmas celebration in 
all Spanish American countries. Along the side of a room, a 
stage is erected and covered with fancy cloth. The centre of 
this is so arranged as to represent the Manger with the Babe. 
Round about, on a setting of artificial rockwork interspersed 
with lakes of looking-glass and waterfalls of threads, are placed 
groups of plaster puppets depicting the principal Biblical scenes 
from the Creation to the birth of Christ. Candles light up 
every point. Among the poor, to whom puppets and rockwork 
are impossible, the ornaments are a most inappropriate assortment 
of dolls, toys, coloured pictures, and even playing cards. 

The great street door is wide open. All are welcome to the 
Christmas cheer. Music and dancing are continuous, and 
servants move among the guests with trays laden with copitas of 
pisco, anizado and coiiac. Whatever their faults, these people are 
never lacking in the virtue of hospitality. 

At about half past eleven, the Goya and many of the other 
women departed to change their gay attire for more devotional 
garments in order that they might attend the midnight mass. I 


ii2 La Goya 

had promised to meet her after the mass was over, but a sense of 
curiosity tempted me to join the crowds that hurried churchward 
at the insistent clanging of the bells in the tower. 

The bare body of the building was in darkness. Huddled on 

the floor were all the women of the pueblo, hooded in their black 

manias ; men filled the side aisles and the spaces around the door. 

There was scarcely a point of colour. The altar blazed with 

hundreds of caudles. The priest was an imposing personage in 

spite of his coarse sensual face. The service was a string of 

unintelligible mummeries, yet it was not without dignity although 

the rustic trousers of the assistants that dangled beneath their 

laced vestments, and the nasal nondescript responses of the choir 

threatened momentary disillusion. There was, in a gallery, 

something that pretended to be an orchestra, very reedy, very 

noisy and very energetic. Near where I stood, an old man from 

time to time beat drowsy and irrelevant rattles on a small drum. 

Stray candles in front of special altars made heavy shadows of the 

pillars. Now and then a dog wandered in, searching for a lost 

master. The cloud of incense intensified the heat, without 

perceptibly diminishing the pungent human odours. Yet there 

was something religious in it all, if it were only the heavy 

drag of time. I couldn t distinguish the Goya among the 

kneeling figures, and the novelty of the spectacle soon wore 

off ; I don t know how often I adjourned to the square for a 


It must have been half past one before the mass was over. 
Then began a quaint ceremony, the Pastoras. A canopy was 
brought out and held above the priest who advanced towards the 
body of the church. Six little girls, dressed in white, and two 
boys, attired and disguised as old men, appeared before him. The 
piccolo of the orchestra began to shriek a ballad-tune. The little 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 1 1 3 

voices tried to follow while the little feet performed an awkward 
dance. I could catch only a few of the words : 

Hermanas pastoras, 
Vamos a adorar 
Al recien nacido 

Shepherd sisters, let us go to worship the new born child. 

Then a procession was formed which marched slowly round 
the church between two lines of worshippers. The singing 
children walked in front. The priest carried in his arms a figure 
of the infant Christ. When the altar was regained, he again 
seated himself beneath the canopy and each of the little girls 
repeated the song in turn, followed by a chorus of all. The 
scene was ended by the two boys, who during the whole 
ceremony had performed pantomimic buffooneries while the 
orchestra piped, and the little girls circled in the dance. Then the 
procession reformed and left the church to repeat the performance 
at each house in which was a nacimiento. The congregation 

I hurried to the plaza and waited. Soon the Goya came out 
and we all sat down on the stone benches, there in the moonlit 
square with its soft white walls of houses. They all clamoured 
for " Pascuas," Christmas presents. I sent for a bottle of 
anizado. I don t know why, but it was pleasant to sit there at 
her feet .and pay her compliments which her lips pretended to 
misunderstand, although her eyes responded : the stilted extrava 
gant Spanish compliments which lay tribute on all the stars and 
flowers in the universe, and which sound so absurd in our reserved 
English. Indian, savage, what you will, she was still a pretty 
woman, and I I asked no more. 

The bottle finished they went to bed, while I roved about 


114 La Goya 

among the fandangos, drinking everything from beer to bitters 
with the same Christian goodwill. The moon was paling when I 
took a cup of coffee at a little Chinese stall ; in the East were the 
streaks of white that betokened day ; and so in the balmy morn of 
the equator, under much the same sky as that which shone upon 
its first birth, dawned Christmas; that Christmas which, no doubt, 
you at the same moment were saluting with all the accessories of 
civilisation in an atmosphere of ennui, away in the land of snows. 

I awoke about ten. The heat was numbing. It seemed as if 
there were nothing in life that could justify exertion. Still I 
remembered that her mother had asked me to breakfast, or more 
truthfully, I had invited myself, and I knew they would be mak 
ing great preparations for me. So, followed by my boy, I crossed 
the river. 

I found that she lives in a little addition of two rooms that 
adjoins her father s house ; a rambling structure of cane and mud, 
with a low, heavily thatched-roof, bare walls, and the naked earth 
for a floor. In front, faced with a half wall, which contains the 
door or gate, is a large covered space, surrounded by wide benches 
of board, which serve as beds for as many weary travellers as care 
to ask the hospitality of the house. Next, behind, is the living- 
room of the family, hung with hammocks. Upon the walls are 
saddles, bridles, lassos, coils of rope and raw-hide, long sword-like 
machetas for cutting cane, alforjas, or saddle bags woven of cotton, 
and all the paraphernalia of the road. In the corners stood shovels 
and other implements, rude tables, benches, and chairs of home 
manufacture ; boxes for clothing and stores filled up the inter 
vening spaces. To the rear of the apartment opened bedrooms 
and passages that led to kitchens and enclosures. To the left of 
the main building, with a door of its own in front, was the 
sanctuary of the Goya. 

I was 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 115 

I was received with great cordiality, a spontaneous kindness 
mingled with respect, such as you would never find among a 
similar class in Europe. Her father is a Serrano, an Indian of 
the mountains. Like many of those people, he wears his hair 
closely cropped, with the exception of a wide shock in front that 
hangs like a thick fringe over his forehead. Besides cultivating 
his gardens, he carries on a trade with the interior, whence he 
brings back dukes and cbancaca a paste of raw sugar. The 
dulces are conserves of fruits and sugar similar to Guava jelly, 
and almost sickeningly sweet. The people are very fond of 

If the Goya s mother ever possessed any of her daughter s 
beauty she must have lost it long ago, for no trace of it remains. 
But what she lacks in grace she makes up in virtue, for she is 
the jolliest, happiest, most gossipy old dame I have met for many a 
day. She has several children, all of whom, with the exception of 
a young sister, are older than the Goya. 

They gave me a great feast at which I sat alone, while all the 
rest waited upon me. The Goya was very quiet ; she seemed to 
be watching me intently, as if she were trying to penetrate the 
screen of manners and compliments to discover the real effect of 
their efforts to please me. All through the afternoon, even until 
I left, she kept up her pondering. I wish I knew what her final 
impression was. It would be interesting to know just what was 
going on in that little brain, which is separated from mine by all 
the forces of the universe save that of human sympathy. And, 
after all, what is it that we are always seeking up and down the 
world but that one quality that knows no law of intellect, race, or 
station ? 

Well, such was my Christmas. It might fairly be called a 
merry one. I trust yours was no worse. 


1 1 6 La Goya 


My Christmas visit was not thrown away, for the Goya is 
mine ! Taking advantage of the festival of Los Reyes, or 
Twelfth Night, which is observed here as in all Catholic 
countries, I sent the Goya a present and a letter, of which the 
ardour was not all insincere. She returned a quaint answer to 
my prayers : " Perhaps what I asked might happen, perhaps it 
might never be." But this was foundation enough for my old 
oracle Juan to declare the omens favourable. So, having des 
patched a messenger ahead to announce our coming, he and I set 
out with our saddle bags stuffed with the elements of a grand 
supper. It was dark when we reached the house. The Goya 
came to meet us as we dismounted and, for the first time, she 
shyly, but unresistingly, allowed me to kiss her. A table was 
prepared for me in one corner, where I supped, attended by my 
lady love. Juan, in his element, presided at the spread which 
loaded the great table. Amid the general mirth we two were for 

It was a gorgeous scene that met my eyes next morning, 
dreamy as my own lazy mood, as I lay smoking in the hammock 
of her sitting-room, looking out through the open door. The 
house has a beautiful situation on a high, sandy eminence, over 
looking the spreading, winding valley of the river, which is shut in 
by steep water-scored cliffs that mark the limits of the desert. 
Below, quivering in the glaring light, a thousand shades of green, 
dimmed by the hazy smoke of charcoal fires, mingled with the 
golden flashes of the river. Waving clumps of palm hedged in 
the darker stretches of cotton plantations. Feathery algarroba 
woods held in their clearings the brighter greens of gardens and 
banana groves. Far away inland rose the first hills of the Andes, 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 117 

so faintly seen they seemed a part of the cloudless sky itself. At 
the foot of the slope the sun shone on little patches of colour, 
where women were washing clothes in the water. Near by, 
making its pendulum-like voyages from shore to shore, was the 
long dug-out canoe of the ferry by which I had crossed the night 
before. There is no ford, and horses and mules have to be towed, 
swimming behind the little craft to the accompaniment of cease 
less shouts and splashing. At the landing-places bustling groups 
were busy unsaddling and resaddling. The bright dresses of the 
women beneath their black mantas, the ponchos and white hats of 
the men, the gay saddle cloths spread on the sand, and the many 
coloured alforjas thrown together in heaps, looked in the distance 
like an old-fashioned nosegay. With a chorus of laughter, some 
boys were swimming ; as they rested for a moment in the 
shallows, the sun lit up their dark wet bodies with a glitter of 
bronze. Over all the landscape hung the gauzy curtains of the 
heat-waves just like the dissolving tableaux in a pantomime. 

The light grew blinding, and with a wide swing of the ham 
mock, I kicked the door half shut. She had left me after serving 
my coffee, turning her head as she passed the threshold to whisper 
the assurance that she would come back soon again. Certainly 
she is different from the rest of them. I looked round the room. 
She has managed to give an individuality even to it. The dull 
walls were not to her fancy, it seemed, for she had endeavoured to 
hide them under strips of coloured paper and pictures of every 
sort, from the roughest woodcuts of a newspaper, to the gaudy 
circulars of patent medicines. She had even secured a yard or 
two of real wall-paper somewhere, and had spent much pains in 
distributing it to advantage. On the floor she had spread here 
and there an empty sack in the manner of a rug. Under a tiny 
but most unflattering mirror at one end of the chamber, stood her 


1 1 8 La Goya 

table with her sewing machine and work, an earthen water cooler, 
a little clock that seemed to have forgotten that its principal pur 
pose in life was to note the flight of time ; a box and a trinket or 
two, all in the daintiest order ; while in the centre rose the greatest 
of all her treasures, a huge glass lamp, which she had lighted with 
great ceremony on my arrival the previous evening. 

Ere long she returned, radiant from her bath, and took a seat 
on a small stool near me. She wore a simple gown, open at the 
throat ; around the polished ebony of her hair she had tied a bright 
red ribbon, which secured a single flower. In her eyes still 
lingered the languor of passion. I had never before realised how 
beautiful she was. She held up her seductive mouth provokingly, 
but as I rose to kiss her she drew back quickly, and placing her 
little tapered hand upon her lips, laughed at me roguishly with 
her dark eyes. The Goyita needs no flatterer to tell her of her 
charms ; she knows them only too well. 

The day flew by as if the hours were minutes. I soon found 
out her weakness, and I told her stories of my own country ; of 
balls, and jewels, and flowers ; of pretty women and gay dresses, 
and of all the pageants I could remember ; she listened as a child 
to a fairy tale. At the noontide breakfast she had still another 
fascination in store for me. From the depths of her clothes-chest 
she brought out her four silver spoons, and from a cupboard on 
the wall, her plates with the flowered border. She waited upon 
me with thoughtful attentions, that might have flattered a prince. 
The instinct of service resisted all my coaxings, however ; she 
did not know me well enough yet to sit at the table beside me. 

In the evening, hand in hand, we wandered through the cha- 
cras by the river, past hedges of tangled vines and flowers, and 
under the rustling fronds of the banana trees. I told her I wanted 
to build her a house near that of old Juan, in a quebrada 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 119 

some miles from my own habitation. She slowly shook her 

1 You will not come ? What nonsense ; you don t know how 
happy you will be ; I will give you everything you can think of." 

" Oh, no, no, no ; not that ! " 

" Why not ? " 

" Oh, I know what it means. After I have given you all the 
love of my heart and soul, you will go away to your own country, 
and I shall never be able to love again." 

And do you want to love again ? " I asked, coldly. 

She paused, and looked at me for a moment, then threw her 
arms about my neck, and kissed me in savage abandonment. 

Still, I could not shake her resolution. 

" Here, yes, for ever and for ever, if you will ; this has always 
been my home, and if you leave me I shall still have known no 
other. But there, no. If, after I had become accustomed to a 
life with you, you should deceive me, how could I come back, and 
ever be happy here again ? " 

"But, Goyita mia," I declared, "I have no intention of re 
turning to my home." 

" Would you think of me when the occasion came ? " she 
replied, as sadly as if she had already fathomed woman s fate. 

But I must stop writing. I am sick for sleep. It was two 
this morning when I started back. The long ride through the 
desert, under the voluptuous moon that drew across it the light 
bars of cloud, as a woman in the shame of her passion throws her 
white arm over her eyes ; the long, long ride, in which my 
thoughts flew back, false to my latest love, to the old, old life, and 
the days that are no more. To you, the whole adventure may 
appear a disgrace to my intelligence ; yet it was not all debased ; 
it had much of beauty. A hundred miles for a woman ! and 


I2o La Goya 

that a woman three hundred years behind the world I once knew 
yet I mention it. Well, it was worth the telling, if you are 
not so bound up in your century that you can see nothing human 
outside of it. 


Again and again I visited the Goya ; she never wearied me. 
She had learned the secret many a more brilliant woman has 
failed to discover, she never let me feel sure. I could not induce 
her to consent to leave her father s house she seemed to have a 
vague fear of such a change. I was beginning to despair, so I 
consulted old Juan. 

"Patron," said this authority, "order the house to be built at 
once ; send me the men, and I will attend to it for you. Don t 
fear, she will come as soon as it is finished. I know these 
women ; their no always means yes. But I am afraid you are 
spoiling her. When you are wooing a woman, it is all very well 
to promise her everything ; that is part of the game. But once 
she has yielded she is yours and she has to obey you if she 
doesn t, beat her. Never beg a woman to do anything, just tell 
her she must do it. Let her always see that you are in authority ; 
that is the only attitude she will understand. Patron mio, you 
know perfectly well that you cannot ride a mule without your 
spurs, and there isn t much difference between women and 

If I did not quite share Juan s philosophy, I nevertheless 
accepted his advice I ordered the house to be built and said 
nothing to the Goya about it. 

Meanwhile the carnival arrived, and Manuel, Francisco and I 
went to Amotape to celebrate it. I think that of all their 
festivals, the natives enjoy this one most. Indeed the enthusiasm 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 121 

pervades every class, even to the aristocratic Spaniards of the large 
cities. All formality is set aside and good-natured licence reigns. 
The Indians inaugurate the sports several days before the carnival 
really begins. With their pockets full of red, green and blue 
powders, egg shells filled with coloured water, and cbisguetes or 
squirts charged with eau-de-cologne, the men go from house to 
house and attack all the women of the family with this holiday 
ammunition. With screams and laughter, the fire is vigorously 
returned ; pretty faces are streaked with powder, and clothes are 
drenched with the coloured waters until both sides are tired out. 

We arrived on Shrove Tuesday, the last day of the feast when 
the fun is at its height. I found the Goya sadly disarrayed but 
glowing with enjoyment. She was so disappointed when I declined 
to join in the sport that to appease her I had to submit to having 
my face daintily smeared with a powder puff. I was then 
permitted to become a spectator, while she and my two 
companions gave themselves up to the spirit of the day. The 
Goya was the leader of the girls against Manuel and Francisco. 
These two enthusiasts fully armed for the fray sped down the 
village street in pursuit of the first maiden who showed herself 
perhaps to be met at the next corner or doorway by an ambushed 
volley that brought them to a standstill or forced them into 
ignominious retreat. Showers of water were poured from 
balconies and windows. The wetter and dirtier they became, the 
happier they seemed to be. The Goya was breathless with 
laughter. Her stratagems were masterly, and during the entire 
afternoon she outwitted the enemy at every point. 

At nightfall, I was host at a grand dinner at the Chinese 

Fonda, to which I invited all her friends. Here new pranks 

suggested themselves, and the scene became so hilarious that even 

I had to yield, much to the detriment of my raiment if not of my 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. H dignity. 

122 La Goya 

dignity. One cannot be Anglo-Saxon in such surroundings. 
Finally, having exhausted our powders and ourselves as well, we 
gave up the sport. 

Some weeks later I had occasion to go to Payta, the principal 
seaport of this region, a wretched dirty little town that clusters 
along the base of the wrinkled cliffs like an eruption of toadstools 
under an ant hill, and quite as brown and ugly. My road led 
past the Goya s house. She was seated on the floor, cutting out a 
dress, but on seeing me she bundled the work into a heap and 
jumped up clapping her hands. 

" I am so glad you have come," she cried, " I was just going to 
send you a message to tell you of the grand fiesta that will take 
place at La Huaca on Saturday, and to beg you to take me. You 
will, won t you ? " 

" I am very sorry, my Goya, but it is impossible. I am going 
to Payta, and I cannot return before Sunday morning." 

Her face fell, for to her gay little soul a fiesta was the breath of 
life. She was silent for a moment, then she looked at me beseech 

"But everybody is going, Senor ; may not my mother take 
me ? " 

The Goya knew as well as I did that it was impossible to con 
cede such a request. For my young bride to appear at a fandango 
under any other escort than that of her lord and master would 
have elevated the eyebrows of the world to an alarming height. 
Her spirits rose again, however, when I spoke of presents from 

I returned on the promised morning, but much to my amaze 
ment I found the house locked up. Where could the family be ? 
My boy descried some people down in the chacras. I told him 
to go and see who they were and ask them where the Goya was. 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 123 

The boy returned. " It is her mother, Senor." 

"What does she say?" 

" She says the Dona Goya went to La Huaca yesterday with 
some friends and will not return till to-morrow. The mother is 
coming up to speak to you." 

I could hardly believe my ears. 

" What nonsense you are talking," I said indignantly ; " such a 
thing is impossible." 

" Yes, Senor," he answered, " it is strange, but a Senora in the 
house behind there told me to ask you to wait for a moment ; she 
has a letter for you from the Dona Goya." 

" The devil ! Why didn t she say so before ? " 

" Who knows, Senor ? " 

So I waited, but no Senora with a letter appeared. 

At length the Goya s mother came, and as she unlocked the 
door, greeted me with the customary salutations that must 
precede all conversation however important. I returned them 

"Where is the Goya ? " I demanded. 

" In La Huaca, Senor." 

" What on earth possessed you to allow her to go ? " 

" Who knows, Senor ? " she replied with exasperating meekness. 

" Where is the letter she left for me ? " 

" She left no letter, Senor." 

"What s the use of telling me that? Boy, go and call that 
woman who spoke to you." 

"Senor," answered the youth, "she is in this very house." 

" Where ? " I shouted, growing more angry as I grew more 
perplexed at every reply. 

" In that room behind, Senor. She spoke to me through the 
cane wall." 

I turned 

124 La Goya 

I turned to the mother. " What trick is this ? " I cried, and 
brushing past her, I rushed through the passages to the rooms 
beyond. In one of these I discovered the Goya sitting serenely. 

"What do you mean by this, Goya ? " I said sternly. 

" Oh, I knew you were there all the time." 

"Why didn t you let me in, then ? : 

"I wanted to see what you would say." 

"When did you return from La Huaca ? " 

" Of course I never went," and she mockingly held up her lips. 

She had planned the whole performance just to tease me. The 
part played by her mother was no doubt one that pleased her. 
These Indians can lie to your face with more innocent com 
posure and ingenuity than any race I ever met. 

I thought, with a view to my own future comfort, that I might 
as well draw the Goya s attention to what might have been the 
consequences of her joke. 

"Supposing I had grown angry and had gone away ? " I asked 

" Do you think I should have let you go far ? I should have 
called you." 

" Yes ; but I might have been so angry that I would have 
refused to listen," I suggested as haughtily as I could. 

" I wasn t afraid of that," she returned archly, and I had to give 
up, although I still pretended to feel hurt. 

The room in which I had found her faced upon the open patio. 
She made me sit down beside her in the shadow of the wall. 
Opposite to us, on a high perch out of the reach of scratching 
fowls, in a composite jardiniere of old boxes and broken water-jars, 
grew the flowers with which she was accustomed to deck her hair. 
A light roof of thatch over one corner of the enclosure formed 
the kitchen, where, squatted upon the ground before a fireplace of 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 125 

four stones, her mother was preparing my breakfast with an 
unpretentious equipment of earthern pots, wooden spoons, and her 
own dexterous fingers. A fastidious man might have found the 
sight of such preparations trying to his appetite ; but I had proved 
the pudding too often by the eating to quarrel with the making 
of it. Hot tamales, rice stained red with powdered achote^ and 
beef stewed in a salsa picante with aji t made a breakfast which I 
was far from despising, especially as the Goya, perhaps to atone 
for her cruelty, was more graceful than ever in her attentions. 

After breakfast was over, I resolved to put to the proof a portion 
at least of old Juan s philosophy of femininity. During the weeks 
that had passed, we had completed and furnished the house. So 
in a matter-of-course way I announced to the Goya that it was 
finished, and that I intended to send for her shortly. She looked 
at me in amazement, seemingly more astounded by the way in 
which I spoke than by the news I related. Hitherto my manner 
towards her had always been beseeching. The expression of her 
face amused me quite as much as the altered tone I had just 
assumed had surprised her. I nearly spoiled everything by laugh 
ing and catching her in my arms to assure her that I had not 
meant the dictatorial part of it at all. Fortunately I resisted the 

She ventured to demur. 

" No, no ; I cannot, I cannot. Who knows how soon you will 
go back to your own land ? You must go some day. Do you 
think it makes it easier to tell me it will not be for years and 
years ? The time will come, and how could I bear it ? " 

" Now, Goya," I said, as severely as I was able, " it is both 
useless and silly to talk to me in that way. I have made up my 
mind, and there s an end of the matter. You seem to have a very 
strange notion of a woman s duty." 


126 La Goya 

She sat for some time toying nervously with her dress. Sud 
denly she looked up eagerly. 

" Then tell me about the house." 

I didn t hesitate to describe it. As much for my own comfort 
as for hers, I had sent to Lima for the furniture, and I knew that 
to her the place would seem palatial. 

I told her that it was in the quebrada, close to Juan s house, 
that she might have his daughters for companions, in addition to 
the old woman who was to cook for her and wait upon her. 
"There were three rooms and a kitchen ; a bedroom, a dining- 
room, and a little sitting-room for herself. There was a real bed, 
with a mosquito-net instead of the print curtains to which she was 
accustomed ; moreover, there were rugs on the floors. The 
dining-room had everything imaginable. But her own little room 
was the gem of all. There were pictures on the walls, there was 
a stand for her sewing-machine, and I had ordered a box full 
of materials for dresses that it would take her for ever to make up. 
Then, on one side, there was a little dressing-table, with brushes 
and combs and everything she could wish, and over it hung a 
great, big mirror, in which she could see not merely her pretty 
face, but the whole of herself at once. 

Her eyes were sparkling. 

" When will you send for me ? " 

" As soon as I go back." 

She threw her arms around me and nestled her head on my 

" But it will be soon, soon, soon, won t it ? " she implored. 

I had succeeded beyond my hopes. Yet, somewhat at the 
expense of my vanity, for it was clearly the house, and not I, that 
had overcome her reluctance. 

A few days ago, a small caravan of peons, marshalled by Juan, 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 127 

escorted her to her new abode. Although he had ridden all night, 
the devoted fellow came over early in the morning to tell me of 
her safe arrival, and as soon as I could I galloped away to welcome 

I found her alone, seated at the table in her sitting-room, 
amusing herself by feeding a clamorous young blackbird, which 
one of Juan s daughters had just given her. Owing to the heat 
she had thrown off her bodice, and her breast was but lightly 
covered by the snowy white sleeveless chemise of her people. In 
her hair-ribbon she had tucked the familiar red flower, while 
around her neck she wore a little chain with a golden medallion 
of her patron saint which I had given her. I shall never forget 
the picture she made, as in a half-embarrassed way she turned her 
head over her shoulder to look at me, as I paused for a moment 
on the threshold to watch her. 

She did not say very much about the house. She was quiet, 
perhaps a little tired ; but I could see she was content. And 
so my new domestic life has begun. 


Perhaps it is the strangeness and half romance of this new life 
that most delight me. There is the gallop across the desert in 
the splendour of the sunset or in the moonlight to the little 
suppers at which she has learned to preside with so much dignity, 
while she tells me, with the greatest seriousness, all the trifles of 
the day so diffidently, so appealingly. Then the early ride, 
brightened by the nameless colours of morning, while the magic 
kiss of the princely sun is warming and waking the sleeping 
beauty of the night ; the still valley with its little river ; the 
stunted feathery trees where the white herons perch as in the 
pictures on a fan ; the blue hills, the desert, and at last the 


128 La Goya 

flashing sea. It s all well worth the trouble will it soon 
begin to pall, I wonder ? But why let the demon of doubt and 
distrust come to rob our sunshine of its sparkle ? 

Since she became established as sole mistress of the mansion, the 
Goya s whole manner has changed. A new feeling of responsi 
bility seems to have taken hold of her, and she has abandoned her 
old waywardness for a quaintly subdued and matronly air. When 
from my silence she probably fancies my thoughts are far away, I 
often lie in the hammock and watch her flutter through the 
tiny apartments busy with endless arranging and rearranging. 
Nothing pleases her so much as when I praise her housekeeping. 
Even her utter ignorance is a pleasure ; it is part of her nature. 
It is only the vast contrast between us that makes the illusion 

Sometimes on Sunday Manuel and Francisco come over as our 
guests. In the quebrada, near the water, the algarroba trees 
grow into heavy woods, with clear shaded aisles among the 
gnarled trunks. There we all go, accompanied by Juan s 
daughters two jolly little companions who chatter incessantly, 
sometimes with an unconscious latitude that might startle a 
French novelist. All things are natural to them ; they are 
like the birds that chirp above us, to which love has but one 

In a quaint, high-pitched key the three girls sing us the love 
songs of their race : of hard hearts and broken vows, disdainful 
ladies and neglectful swains, and of kisses and longings and tears. 
Then they teach me the names of the animals and flowers, or, 
tired of lessons, try to guess the words that fit into the notes of 
the birds. 

They tell us in awed voices of the animas or ghosts that make 
the strange noises of the night a class of spirit that seems to be 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 129 

more sprite than spectre. They have many stories also of the 
witches who have power to trace thieves and reveal the hiding- 
place of things that have been stolen. 

At noon our boys arrive with alforjas and hampers, and we 
breakfast together in a circle on the ground. It is amusing to 
see the deferential way in which the Goya is treated by the two 
girls and the boys. Although she is of their people and kin, 
her relations with me seem to have exalted her in their eyes. 
This voluntary recognition of the superiority of the white race 
is one of the most marked characteristics of these Indians. 

The algarroba woods are full of wild pigeons. Toward even 
ing, as they fly to the river for water, my two friends and I take 
our guns, and skirting along the bank enjoy an hour or two of 

We made a gala day of Easter. On the southern side of Cape 
Blanco, which is one of the most westerly points of the Continent, 
the sea in some past age burrowed great caves and arches in the 
cliff. One of these caverns, into the mouth of which the surf 
still dashes when the tide is high, winds in a labyrinth for many 
hundred feet to the very heart of the rock. The other cave, now 
remote from the waves, is a great circular dome almost two 
hundred feet in diameter. These imposing dimensions are mag 
nified by the insignificant passage that forms the entrance. 
Many mysterious stories of buried treasure are told about it. 
Some say that after the murder of their Emperor Atahualpa by 
the Spaniards, the Inca priests used this huge natural vault as 
a secret depository for the rich and sacred ornaments of their 
temples. Others relate how the English pirates found it a safe 
place of concealment for the superabundant wealth gained from 
the Panama galleys ; and in confirmation of this story there is a 
legend that on every Easter morning a great white brig sails 


130 La Goya 

bravely away from the cave s mouth, and no one ever sees her 
return. It was to verify, if possible, this wild tale of the phantom 
brig that we planned an expedition for Easter. It was arranged 
that Juan should take the Goya and his daughters to the Cape at 
daybreak, when we would ride over to meet them. Unfortu 
nately we were not so prompt in starting, and day had well begun 
before we set out, so we missed the sailing of the pirate, much to 
our disappointment. But such a morning was a charm against 
all regrets. The cliffs were in heavy shadow as we rode along 
the sand. Although the breeze was cool, the sun kept us warm. 
The sky and its light clouds were of faintest tints, and the sea 
had that intense blue which sets off to such advantage the dazzling 
white of the breakers. As the tide was ebbing thousands of red 
crabs skirmished like cavalry troops along the beach. Solitary 
frigate birds hovered aloft, manoeuvring lines of pelicans skimmed 
the surf, and dusky groups of vultures squabbled over derelict 
scraps. The sails of three or four little fishing-boats sparkled in 
the still slanting light. The very soul of freedom enfolded this 
sun-loved land of brown and azure. 

We found them all awaiting us in their usual resigned and un 
complaining way. It is instinctive in these people to regard our 
pleasure as theirs. Old Juan s pride would have received a severe 
shock had one of his daughters, or even the Goya, ventured to 
reproach us for being two hours behind our tryst. Their chief 
wonder, which Juan more than half shared, was that they who 
had arrived in time had failed to see the phantom. I have some 
doubts myself whether the old fellow really reached the place before 
the sun had come to remove all uncanny suggestions. 

While the old man and our boys were looking after the animals 
and preparing our breakfast, we lighted our candles and took the 
girls off to explore the twisting galleries of the seaward cave. 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 131 

They followed us in awed silence as we went deeper and deeper 
into the darkness. Something besides the damp chill air made 
them shiver and clutch our hands convulsively. The noise of the 
surf came faintly to us, although we could feel the great walls 
pulse to its beating. More than shadows seemed to lurk in the 
roof and crannies. I think we all felt a sudden shudder as 
Manuel playfully uttered a scream that was answered to us again 
and again as if the old pirates were rallying to the alarm. The sand 
of the floor was heavy with dampness. The walls and the roof 
crowded closer and closer upon us ; we went on crouching almost 
to the ground. Finally only a low black tunnel confronted us 
there our courage gave out, and we hurried back to the daylight, 
hearing in our own footfalls the sounds of ghostly pursuit. As 
we stood under the great arch of the entrance watching the surf 
about the rocks, the girls grew very brave again. 

Old Juan laughed contemptuously when they told him of their 
terrors, but he didn t attempt any explorations on his own 
account. As it was too early for breakfast, we three men decided 
to take a bath in the sea. I was well in the lead, just as we 
were making for the third line of breakers, when a frantic shout 
from the shore reached me. Turning my head I saw old Juan 
and the rest running up and down the beach screaming and 
gesticulating. Some were beckoning us to return ; others were 
pointing seaward in evident alarm. I looked ahead, and there 
just beyond the great white line that was subsiding before me 
moved the slowly swaying fin of a monster shark. I confess that 
for a moment my heart stood still. We must all have caught 
sight of the danger at the same moment, for without a word we 
turned : there certainly was excitement in the breathless scurry 
for the shore, where the Goya quite forgot to be dignified in her 
joy at our safe return. 


132 La Goya 

After breakfast we entered the cave of the great dome. Ages 
must have elapsed since the sea seethed round its walls, for the 
floor was dry and thickly covered with powdered saltpetre that had 
crystallised on the roof above, and fallen flake by flake. In the 
centre rose a great pile of rock which the waves had once 
tumbled together. Signs of hurried excavation in the sand at one 
side of the vault showed that the tradition of the treasure had 
gained one believer at least. On examining the hole I was 
surprised to find portions of human bones rapidly crumbling to 
dust. This reminded Juan that many years before, some men 
had come in search of the buried wealth, but they had only 
unearthed a few old skeletons and a little golden ornament in the 
shape of a fish. Perhaps the bones had frightened the diggers 
away. The cavern must have been an ancient burial place ; the 
twilight and the silence and the far off murmur of the sea were a 
fitting atmosphere for a tomb. 

Then the Goya remembered that all along the foot of the cliffs 
in the valley of her old home, many graves of the antiguos had 
been found filled with strangely formed pieces of pottery called 
huacos. To these places the natives were accustomed to repair on 
Good Friday to dig. From the way she spoke it was evident 
that these huacoings or grave opening parties were a popular form 
of amusement on the holiday in question. 

"But why do they dig only on Good Friday, Goya?" I asked her. 

" Senor, do you not know that the pottery is enchanted ? 
During all the rest of the year it sinks deep down into the ground, 
and it is impossible to find it, but on Good Friday it comes near 
to the surface again. Besides the pottery, there are sometimes 
little things of gold and silver, and sometimes coral beads. A man 
once gave my sister a necklace of these which she wears as a 
charm against chill." 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 133 

This account of the old graves excited my curiosity, and rather 
than wait a year till the lucky day comes again, I have resolved to 
risk the spells and do some unorthodox excavating. Often in 
riding to Amotape I have noticed along the road on the desert a 
long double row of mounds covered with white shells, and 
regularly placed as if to line a royal avenue. This avenue which 
has an artificial appearance is wide and straight for several miles, 
and may have formed a portion of the lost Inca highway along 
the coast. About Amotape also, the Goya says, there are many 
adobe ruins of aboriginal temples or forts. At the first opportunity 
I have, I shall visit these places, and unless the enchantments 
prevail against me I may soon be able to tell you of something 
more novel than love making. 

We were all so absorbed in our antiquarian discussions that we 
would have forgotten the present entirely had not Juan brought 
us back to realities by telling us that the tide was rising fast, and 
we would not have time to pass the rocks of one of the cliffs 
unless we set off at once. As their road lay inland while ours 
was along the beach, we hurriedly bade our little friends good-bye, 

and so the holiday ended. 


The Goya has suddenly conceived a great fondness for all her 
relatives, in the hacienda and beyond it, and she is constantly 
begging to be allowed to make them brief visits under the guar 
dianship of her old Dueiia. I very much fear, however, that her 
vanity is deeper than her affection in most cases, for she dearly 
loves the wonder and envy that her little fineries evoke. Dressed 
in the riding habit she has so quickly learned to wear, she is 
becoming a very superior young person with her guide and her 
attendant. Her joy is complete whenever I find time to ride out 
to accompany her home. 


134- La Goya 

These relationships of hers extend far beyond the common 
confines of blood. She has sisters and cousins and aunts in 
abundance, but in addition to these, almost every tenant on the 
estate is in some way or other related to her spiritually. This is 
the result of the ceremonies with which her religion has sur 
rounded her life. She has of course a godfather and a god 
mother. On two occasions she herself has stood sponsor and 
thereby gained a pair of comadres and compadres with whom she is 
spiritually co-parent of the children. Among the Indians this 
relationship is in many cases accounted superior to the ties of 
kindred ; moreover there are her companeros, the men who were 
godfathers when she was godmother, and so on through infinite 
shadings. Occasionally my journeys in search of her ladyship 
bring me into strange adventures. The dark lonely night rides ! 
What glories are in the depths of that star-sown sky, what sounds 
rush on the breeze ! What heart-spurring shadows lurk among 
the sand heaps as I gallop along the treacherous line of the 
trail. Even I whose brain has little room for spectral fears can 
recognise the fatherland of ghosts and goblins. Darkness, 
solitude, and silence, the playground of fancies ; it was amid such 
scenes that man first learned to shudder. Even in the moonlight 
when drowsiness comes on, a weirdness fills the world. I ve sat 
up in the saddle with a start to see a herd of cattle rushing before 
me as noiselessly as shadows only some desert shrubs. Then a 
great fantastic mottled monster has writhed across the path in 
desperate fashion a patch of sand tufted with waving grass. 
The night birds sing a fiendish song that rattles down the wind 
like spirit laughter. Often and often I ve put my hand on my 
revolver to find that I had jumped at a thorn bush. 

Not long since, the Goya s whims took her to a remote part of 
the estate. I had promised to bring her back. As I had never 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 135 

been to the place where she was visiting I asked old Juan to go 
with me. Poor fellow, he isn t much of a guide on unfamiliar 
roads at night as his eyesight is failing. In the quebrada where 
the trail we should have taken separates from the main road, we 
missed the way and were obliged to ride up the ravine to the 
house of a tenant in search of a guide. While the man was 
getting ready I chatted with his wife. 

"Where are you going?" she asked me. In this country no 
honest traveller should resent such a question. I felt in a 
mood for romancing. 

"We are going to a witch s dance at the salt marshes." 

"What!" she exclaimed. 

" Yes. One night Juan and I were returning from Amotape ; 
suddenly near the marshes we heard strange music ; in the distance 
were fantastic lights ; on reaching the place what did we find ? a 
fandango of the Brujas." 

" Ave Maria ! " I could almost see the woman s flesh creep. 

"Yes, the Brujas. We joined them. They gave us strange 
liquors. At dawn they all vanished, but before they left they 
told us that on every dark Saturday night they held a rout. So 
now we are going again. The women were very beautiful." 

Luckily the guide appeared at this moment, or the poor woman 
would have fainted. She must have said many a prayer that night 
to save her husband from the witches spell. I suppose the joke 
was heartless, but then most jokes are. 

Rocky stretches and sandy hollows, gallop, gallop, gallop. We 
arrived about ten o clock. 

There was a long building with a great veranda that opened 
upon a corral. The veranda was lighted up, and as we approached 
I heard those sounds of revelry by night that betoken a fandango. 
A large crowd filled the benches and listened to a wheezy strident 


136 La Goya 

concertina. The Goya ran out to meet us, as I got off my horse 
and looked about. Something unusual was going on certainly. 
Upon a table draped with cloth at the far end of the veranda, a 
small open coffin with the body of a baby stood set on end, 
against a background of flaring red and white calico ; the lid 
painted black with a double white cross rested at one side. In 
front flickered two candles stuck in old beer bottles. The Goya 
told me that I was at the funeral of her hostess s child. As we 
entered, the bereaved mother came forward and greeted me with 
a smile. She received my expressions of sympathy as if they were 
something foreign to the occasion. Some of the women, led by 
the Duena, gathered round the Goya and whispered to her, gig 
gling ; but they hastened away as soon as the music called for a 
dance. I sat apart with the Goya to watch. 

And what a scene ! There amid its gaudy trappings, glancing 
back the flame of the sputtering candles, stood an enshrouded 
mystery. In a little box of blackened wood was all life knows of 
life ; a ghastly nothingness j a thing of terror yet of fascination, a 
question and an answer both in one ! And around it, shouting in 
a drunken dance, with laughter and ribald song, moved creatures 
whom it was almost flattery to call savages. The living seemed 
to be carousing over the dead like cannibals about a boiling 
cauldron. The Goya s chatter was unheeded as I sat there 
looking on, indifferent. Did not disgust sicken me, horror choke 
me, loathing overpower me ? No ; just one feeling stirred me, 
the feeblest our soul can know, the indolent supercilious curiosity 
of a woman s uplifted lorgnettes. I seemed dead to every civilised 
prejudice I had ever possessed. 

But when the dance ended a vague sense of annoyance took 
possession of me. Hurriedly telling the Goya to prepare at once 
for her return, I ordered Juan to get the animals ready. While I 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 137 

waited by the gate on horseback some women and men passed in. 
Suddenly the music grew weird and mournful. I heard the sound 
of lamentation, and looked toward the veranda. In front of the 
little coffin were collected all the women who had just arrived, 
and all those who had been present before. They were rocking 
their bodies to and fro, and wailing and mourning, while the men 
sat calmly talking and drinking on the benches. 

" What are they doing, Juan ? " I asked. 

" Weeping for the dead, Senor." 

" Is it the custom of your people ? " 

The old man seemed to feel, from something in my manner, 
that I was not entirely in sympathy with the scene. 

" Only among the people of the Campo, patron, when their 
children die," he answered. 

" And the dancing and the drinking ? " 

" Yes, that too ; they weep a while, then dance and drink 

All night ? " 

" Oh, yes ; sometimes for two or three days." 

I laughed. The girl returned. What was this thing called 
death ? Bah ! Who cared ? And under its very eyes I carried 
her away. It was life that I had come for. 

Without a word we hurried through the night. 


I have been riding all the afternoon along the edge of the 
Tablaza, where a maze of fantastic quebradas runs riot to the 
shore. A desert of greys and browns and dying greens below, a 
silvery film over a golden bowl above. Sometimes, on crossing a 
ridge, we caught sight of the busy sea, where the waves rushed 
along like a hunting pack ; on its far horizon low clouds lay in 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. i shadowless 

138 La Goya 

shadowless mountain ranges the unreachable land of our dreams, 
the dwelling-place of happiness, the vague valleys where grows 
that sweetest of flowers, content. A typical Peruvian day framed 
in a sky of golden blue, whose threads of cloud are like the wires 
in a cloisonne vase. 

But in Peru we never think of talking about the weather, for 
it is always the same. 

You may remember that, during our Easter picnic to the caves, 
the Goya s story of the ancient graves near her old home made 
me anxious to explore in that neighbourhood. Recently I made 
a little expedition which yielded me rare booty. 

There are vast aboriginal burial grounds all along the coast, but 
of course I can speak only of the small tract on the north bank of 
the Chira River, between Amotape and the sea. Here great walls 
of cliff, wrinkled deep by centuries of rain, ward off the desert 
from the valley s fertility. Every slope along the base of these 
cliffs is the grave of thousands, perhaps millions, of a race whose 
very name is forgotten. I say of a race, but there are many indica 
tions that not one, but many races are buried there. Almost all 
these slopes are artificially sprinkled with small white shells ; 
shreds of pottery litter the ground, ruins of old adobe temples and 
pyramids rise from the plain ; remains of ancient walls and build 
ings crown every elevation. Was ever the home of the dead more 
fitly placed ? In front, the rich rank greens of the river, like the 
teeming years of life ; behind, the trackless waste like the mean 
ingless stretch of eternity. They rest where they fell, those 
nameless dead, on the dividing line of that grim antithesis. Or, 
in a simpler human sense, what pathos there is in the solicitude 
that laid them, composed for their long sleep, in those little silent 
valleys, which the bend of a quebrada has encircled with guardian 
hills, and where loneliness and desolation and immutability warn 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 139 

off the noisy restless world. There is a tragedy in a faith like 
theirs that checks a cynic s sneers. But our love of novelty, our 
cruel curiosity, knows no reverence. Let s go a-huacoing. 

Though all the slopes undoubtedly contain graves, all are not 
equally rich. In many places the rains have soaked the soil, con 
sumed the bones, and packed the earth until it has crushed and 
broken the pottery. But suppose we have lighted upon a favour 
able site. On top, the sand is mingled with little white shells. 
About two feet from the surface we are sure to come upon a 
child s grave. If the drainage of the slope kept out the water, we 
will find the little skeleton complete, wrapped in clothes as good 
as if they had been made yesterday. Seemingly the children 
counted for little in that old time : a sleeveless shirt, a string of 
coral beads, and a coarse shroud, were enough to fit the poor wee 
body for its cradle in the sands. It needed no pottery, but some 
times a small stick was placed beside it, perhaps as a charm, 
perhaps as a plaything. So unimportant was its burial, that its 
grave was always made in some part of the field already used for 
its elders ; for if we dig several feet below these small bundles of 
bones we meet with the carefully built tombs of adults. These 
.are cavities hollowed in the tough sand or clay, and topped with 
great flat stones and adobes to support the earth above. Within 
these holes the body, swathed in many shrouds, was placed upon 
:its back, instead of being trussed up in sitting posture, as is usual 
in other parts of Peru. Arranged about the feet of the mummy 
.are several coarse cooking pots, still full of the provisions of corn 
.and beans and meat that were to nourish the departed on his long, 
mysterious journey. Near the hands, in the case of men, lie 
bundles of copper and stone tools, wooden weapons, shovels and 
walking staves with handles skilfully carved into human or 
.animal shapes. Beside the women, are all their weaving and 


140 La Goya 

spinning utensils and gourd work-boxes filled with shuttles, 
spindles, and balls of thread. Sometimes there are also water- 
bottles, with graceful curves, and netted travelling bags con 
taining extra clothing. It is always at the head of the body that 
we find the fanciful pieces of pottery known as buacos. They are 
of infinite variety : I have never seen two exactly alike. Some 
are round, long-necked vases, surmounted by very natural figures 
of birds and animals. Every vegetable is imitated ; there are 
gourds, melons, bananas, and other fruits ; there are clusters of 
eggs ; there are jars shaped like fish and alligators, and there are 
conventional forms, with double handles and double spouts, all of 
the finest burnt clay, some black, some red. The old potters 
evidently believed that shrill noises were efficacious in warning ofF 
evil spirits, for they often made these huacos with two bodies 
connected by a tube ; one body held the spout while an opening 
in the other, concealed by a grotesque monkey or bird, was so 
contrived as to emit a sharp whistle when the jar was being 

As the mummy within the shroud is usually well preserved, 
except that the eyes and nose are sunken, it is clear that some 
process of embalming was employed. Unfortunately the prepara 
tions used for this purpose have destroyed the fabrics that came in 
contact with them ; still enough of the inner wrappings and of the 
clothing remains to enable us to form some idea of the general 
attire. Evidently great pains were taken in arraying the dead 
one in the richest garments possible. A turban of finely-woven 
cotton or gaily-coloured tapestry was wound around the head. 
The men wore white tunics embroidered with flowers and figures + 
the women had a more ample flowing dress of brown or blue or 
white, usually without ornamentation of needle work, and bound 
at the waist with a long fine scarf or sash. The quality of the 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 141 

garments varies greatly, probably with the wealth and station of 
the deceased. Men and women alike were adorned with neck 
laces and bracelets of coral beads and rings of gold sometimes 
the women have wooden earrings inlaid with coral and mother-of- 
pearl j often the arms have traces of tattooing. 

I can t tell you how many of these graves I opened ; we dug 
for several days from the first light until sunset. It was hard 
work for the men in the hot, dusty sand under the fierce sun. 

The Goya had begged hard to be allowed to join the expedi 
tion and, as she had relatives in the village where I made my 
headquarters, I had taken her with me. Every day about noon 
she and some of the women came to seek us with alforjas full of 
provisions for our lunch. They took a great interest in the 
antique wonders I was unearthing. 

Most of the women know how to weave and spin, but their 
skill is inferior to that of the ancients ; for to-day they cannot 
produce anything equal in fineness and beauty to the fabrics and 
tapestries I found in the graves. The bundles of weaving tools, 
therefore, which are identical in form with those used to-day, though 
far superior in finish, aroused their envy, and I had to resist many 
a prayer for presents. They clamoured especially for the crquetas, 
used to hold the "copo," or roll of carded cotton, while spinning. 
The orqueta is a long crotched stick, sharpened at one end that 
it may be stuck into the ground. To-day a natural fork is 
taken from a tree for this purpose, but the orquctas of the 
graves were cut out of solid wood, and beautifully carved and 

All the Indian women are in the habit of plaiting thick skeins 
of brown spun cotton into the braids of their hair to prevent the 
ends from splitting, and it astonished the Goya and her friends 
greatly to learn from the skeins we found packed in little gourd 


142 La Goya 

toilet boxes, that the custom had come down to them from so 
remote a time. 

There is a certain vein of sentiment in these women that is 
entirely human, and once they burst into a chorus of sympathetic 
ejaculations, when, on opening a mummy, I picked from among 
the wrappings a tress of hair carefully tied with a coloured string. 
Some lover, they were sure, had placed it there as a pledge of un 
dying remembrance. For half an hour they discussed the incident 
pityingly, and during the whole evening I heard them relate it to 
each acquaintance who came. Trifles make up their lives. 

One custom which the graves revealed, however, puzzled them 
as much as it did me. Protruding through the lower lip of almost 
every one of the female mummies we discovered a conical cylinder 
of silver about an inch long. As a rule, these were badly corroded, 
but by good fortune we found a perfect one stowed away in one 
of the little boxes with the skeins of cotton. It is in the shape of 
a thimble, though slightly larger in size, and closed at both ends. 
In the crown is set a blood-stone, surrounded by small balls of 
red coral. It is an excellent piece of work, and would do credit 
to a modern jeweller. It may be that these ornaments were used 
as a badge of marriage. 

I had naturally supposed that there was but one series of graves ; 
one day, however, one of my men noticed that the soil that formed 
the floor of a tomb we had just opened was softer than usual j sa 
he continued to dig, and a few feet below his shovel struck the 
stone capping of another sepulchre. This led us to continue 
work in some of the holes we had abandoned, and we soon dis 
covered that there were in some instances three or four layers of 
graves. While the arrangement of these graves is similar to that 
of the upper ones, the pottery is of inferior artistic quality and 
appears to be of much greater antiquity. It may even be that of 

a different 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 143 

a different race ; for ages may have elapsed before the sands could 
cover the graves so deeply that they were forgotten and new ones 
made above them. 

You can have no idea how absorbedly interested I became in 
my excavations among these poor old bones ; only it saddened me 
to find in their trinket-filled graves another confirmation of that 
awful truth futility ! If their cast into the darkness flew so wide 
the mark, what hope have we ? Their faith was as strong as ours. 
Was its betrayal any greater than ours will be ? And even to a 
sceptic there is something crushing in being brought face to face 
with the ghastly inevitability of the future. No matter how 
hateful life may be, it is beautiful compared with the crumbling 
darkness of that chill, lonely cell, where even the sunlight is dead. 
The thought came to me like an agony once, as I rested on a 
mound, watching my men dig : "Some day I must lie thus for 
ever. No more of love and life and longing ! Only that ! " and 
I kicked aside a skull and nearly drained my whisky-flask. But 
in that moment I almost felt the worms crawl through my brain ! 
And the sunlight how I loved it ! If we could ever for a second 
realise the truth, we would never know another hour of sanity. 

Not long ago, I passed through a terrible illness, which, but for 
the luck that has always smiled from my natal star, might easily 
have ended fatally. Fortunately, I was not informed of the deadly 
nature of the attack until the danger was over, or I might pardon 
ably have died of fright. 

I had been riding all day in the hot sun, and was both heated 
and tired when I reached the Goya. I found her as usual playing 
with the little blackbird, which has been her dearest friend ever 
since the day she came to her new home. I carelessly threw off" 


144 La Goya 

my coat, and must have put myself in a draught, for I was suddenly 
seized with a violent cramp the common result of a chill under 
such circumstances. I took a few drops of chlorodyne, and lay 
down on the bed until relief should come. 

The matter seemed simple enough to me, but the Goya was 
panic-stricken. She clasped her hands together and looked at me 
in an agony of fear. 

"Oh, Senor, Seiior, it may be chucaque^ it may be cbucaque. 
What shall I do ? What shall I do ? Where can I find a curadora ? 
Oh you will die ; you will die ! What shall I do ; what shall 
I do ? " 

She was nearly hysterical ; then an idea came to her. 

" Perhaps the peddlers will know," she cried, and she flew out 
of the house. 

Soon she returned with a wizened old woman who carried 
several small gourds in her arms. The Goya ran to a cupboard 
and brought out a large cloth and a bowl, which she filled with 
water. In spite of the pain, I was curious to see what would 
happen. The old woman hurriedly threw into the bowl a portion 
of the contents of each of the gourds. Among these I 
recognised powdered mustard and tobacco flakes. When the 
mixture was ready, she spread it upon the cloth ; and uncere 
moniously tearing open my clothing she placed the plaster across 
my stomach. Upon this, starting from the centre she began to 
inscribe a widening spiral with her forefinger ; all the while 
muttering a sort of incantation of which I could distinguish only 
the words "Ave Maria" reiterated from time to time. The 
Goya stood anxiously near me with her hands raised as if in 
prayer. After making the sign of the cross over my body, the 
woman again traced the spiral and repeated the mystic formula. 
Gradually the pain subsided and before long I was able to say 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 145 

truthfully that I was better ; after a final sign of the cross, the 
plaster was removed and I was allowed to stand up. 

Naturally I was eager to know what had happened to me. 
Then I learned of a disease that would sadly puzzle a Jenner. If 
any one, even in jest, causes you to feel shame or humiliation or 
as we would say " to feel cheap," you are at once exposed to the 
most insidious of maladies chucaque ; you will be seized with a 
severe internal cramp, and unless you take the proper precautions 
you will forthwith die. And these precautions, what are they ? 
You must find a curadora, an old woman who understands the 
secret of the cure, and she must treat you at once just as I had 
been treated. The worst of it is, you need not be present while 
your neighbour is holding you up to ridicule in order to 
experience this dire complaint. It will attack you unawares if 
some ungentlemanly friend is taking advantage of your absence. 
Think of the awful suspicions a plain old touch of colic may 
arouse in the Indian mind. Of course, in my case, the chlorodyne 
was science thrown away. 

I offered the woman some money for her professional services, 
but she seemed hurt to think that I suspected her of mercenary 
motives, and she declined to accept it. I learned that she was 
one of a party of peddlers who had arrived at Juan s house most 
opportunely that very afternoon. As I saw a means of rewarding 
the old woman s kindness without offence I took the Goya over 
to inspect her wares. These peddlers are an interesting feature of 
the native life. In companies of twos and threes and fours, with 
donkeys laden with stores, they penetrate to all parts of the 
wilderness in search of trade. They have a marvellous assortment 
of things for sale from pins and needles and cheap jewellery to 
the finest cashmere manias and the richest Guadalupe scarfs 
which are often very costly. Their patience is inexhaustible. 


146 La Goya 

They will sit down in the most unpromising abode and unpack 
every bag and basket in their equipment, display to the longing 
eyes of the women the ribbons and laces and stuffs and fineries 
one after another, and be content if they succeed in selling 
even ten centavos worth. If money is lacking they resort to 
barter and wheedle away goat skins and other products in 
exchange for the much coveted finery. Time has no place in 
their calculations. They will sit all day chatting if they think 
there is a chance of a bargain in the end. They are learned in 
all the gossip of the region and their advent is a delight to the 
lonely country people. They might be called the newspapers of 
the desert, for it is through them that the dwellers in the waste 
keep in touch with the outside world. 

While the Goya tossed and tumbled everything about, sneering 
at this necessity, going into raptures over that luxury, and 
threatening me with financial ruin, I engaged my preserver in- 
conversation. Her mother and her grandmother had been 
curadoras before her. Where they had learned the art she could 
not say. Did she know any other cures, I asked. 

" O yes, Sefior, I can cure ojo." 

"And what is ojo, Senora ? " I inquired ; my ignorance would 
not have surprised her more, had I asked her what the sun 

" Ojo " means the " eye " and from the rambling account she 
gave me, I gathered that the superstition is analogous to the evil 
eye of southern Europe. You are the happy father of a new born 
heir or the equally elated owner of a superior horse. A friend 
comes along and begins to praise either one or other of your 
valued possessions, your treasure is at once " ojeado " and unless 
you seek a curadora skilled in the lore of crosses and Ave Marias 
to avert the spell, your child, or horse, or whatever it may be Vj 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 147 

must die. What was the formula before they ever heard of Mary 
and the cross, I wonder ? 

On the day following a fandango, when the fumes of the 
anizado are filling their brains with torments, it is common to see 
half the village wandering dully about, with a circular disc or 
paper stuck on each temple. This they regard as a sure remedy 
or cure for headache, but why it should be so nobody can tell. 

A lingering belief in witchcraft still flavours many of their ideas. 
One day a woman amazed me by asking for one of my mummy 
skulls. As the people usually look upon these ghastly tokens with 
awe, I was curious to know why she wanted it. 

"I want to put it in my clothes-box, Senor," she said. 

" In your clothes-box ? What good will it do there ? " I asked 

" Sefior, I will place it on the top of my clothes, and if thieves 
break open the box, the sight of the skull will enchant them, 
and they will not be able to move until I come and catch 

Such superstition is part of the people s life and blood, and must 
have existed since the race began. 

Why, just this evening I was reading Garselasso de la Vega. I 
know he is rather sneered at as an authority, but I can say with 
confidence that, so far as my observation goes, his accounts of the 
manners and customs of the Indians are singularly appreciative and 
unexaggerated. I myself have seen not only one but many of the 
ceremonies and observances he describes. In the chapter I was 
reading he was speaking of the balsas, or great sea-going sailing 
rafts of the old Peruvians, which you must have seen mentioned in 
Prescott. I suppose it must have occurred to de la Vega that 
his European readers would be apt to conclude that the Conquest 
had wrought great changes in these nautical contrivances and that 


La Goya 

there was therefore an element of ancient history in his narrative, 
for at the end of the chapter he adds : 

" These things were in use when I left, and are no doubt in 
use to-day ; for the common people, as they are a poor, miserable 
lot, do not aspire to things higher than those to which they have 
been accustomed." 

He wrote about fifty years after the Spanish occupation. To 
day three centuries have elapsed, and although the world has 
grown to battle-ships, the Cholo is still content with his balsa. 

In de la Vega I have also found the explanation of an extra 
ordinary custom which the people observe. When a child is 
about two years of age its hair is cut for the first time. A fandango 
is held at the house of the parents, and during the dancing the 
child is passed about among the guests, each one of whom pays ten or 
twenty centavos, according to his means, for the privilege of nip 
ping off a small lock of the hair, which is preserved for luck. This 
ceremony has come to the modern Indians directly from the Incas. 
According to the account in de la Vega, the Inca children were 
not weaned until they had attained the age of two years ; then, 
with feasting and rejoicing, the hair was cut for the first time. 
He gives no reason for the custom, and to-day it seems to be 
followed without reference to the time of weaning. So you see 
these people are essentially the same as when the Spaniards found 
them. Under the gloss of Christianity and Manchester prints 
they are as barbaric as the oldest of my mummies. 


Not long ago I witnessed a ceremony in the little village of 
Vichayal which proved that among these Indians the outward 
form long survives the inward spirit. Ever since I undertook my 
excavations, which were carried on near this spot, the people have 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 149 

sent me notice of all their fiestas. The place is a scattering of 
cane huts, on the edge of an algarroba wood ; the most beautiful 
scene the moonlight ever shone upon. A tangle of feathered 
leaves overhead make lace-like shadows on a silver floor of sand ; 
while the night birds fill the air with a cry that is like the wail 
of one who seeks eternally and vainly. It is a virgin picture no< 
pencil has ever violated. Those piles of darkness are the desert 
cliffs ; those firefly flashes are the lights of homes. There is no 
order of streets and squares ; a clearing serves for a plaza. That 
break among the trees is avenue enough for a simple world like 
this. The tinkling notes of a guitar mean human happiness, 
content with what the moment brings. I have delved in the 
philosophies of three thousand years of thought, and they have 
brought me no deeper wisdom. 

There cannot be more than fifty huts in the village. As the 
people are too poor to maintain a chapel, they decided to erect a 
great cross in the centre of an open space, magnificently de 
nominated the plaza. It was to the consecration, which gave 
these poor creatures an excuse for a two days fiesta, that the 
Goya and I had been invited. I sent her on ahead one afternoon 
with Juan, the Duena, and the blackbird. I followed early the 
next morning. 

A heavy, thatched roof and three sides of a square of cane had 
been built like a niche about the cross, which was made of 
plastered adobes. At one end of the plaza stood a triumphal arch, 
constructed of three poles, covered and tricked out with puffed 
white paper and flowers. A grand avenue of approach, improvised 
of tree branches set in the ground, reached from the arch to the 
cross ; while several temporary booths, called altars, lent their 
colours to adorn the sides and corners of the square. 

On Saturday night the plaza was a veritable blaze of glory. All 


150 La Goya 

the ingenuity of the people had been expended in decorating the 
tabernacle ; bed-quilts of gaudy hues formed tapestries for the 
interior ; from the cross itself depended hundreds of coloured 
pictures of the most heterogeneous subjects, tiny mirrors, toys, 
dolls, and flowers. Above the open side or entrance of the 
shelter hung festoons of fruit and branches, pictures, mirrors, dolls, 
.and lanterns, and most marvellous of all, a series of ginger-bread 
men, an offering from the children to the village schoolmaster. 
Everywhere candles fluttered in bright profusion, while the scented 
clouds of incense blended the whole picture into a unity. At each 
of the little altars, as if they formed a necklace for the glorious 
jewel in the centre in truth, they were only drinking-stalls in 
disguise the image of some saint was illuminated with equal 
splendour. A perpetual fusilade of squibs gave an accent to the 
pious and pervading joy. 

Amid all this spiritual enthusiasm, however, the fleshly man 
was not forgotten. Summoned by an impatient bell, excited 
groups were clustered about a gambling game, in which miniature 
horses, set in motion by a spring, ran races around a circular 
board. Just behind the shrine of the cross, an enterprising catch 
penny had spread his wares, and was driving a great trade in little 
nothings. Small peddlers, and coffee and cake vendors, strove 
emulously, but with the best good humour, for what spoil there 
was to gain. In half-a-dozen houses there were dances, picantes 
and chicharias the shops for the native beer. 

The moon was full and glaringly, electrically bright. It 
tempted one into the mood of the hour. With the Goya and a 
troop of her little, laughing friends, I visited all the sights, and 
stood treats to everything. My luck at a wheel of fortune filled 
their pockets with ribbons and necklaces, earrings and bottles of 
scent. We really enjoyed ourselves, although they did seem to 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 1 5 i 

feel uneasy now and then, when I passed the cross and neglected 
to bow. 

These wheels of fortune are their delight. A peseta a chance, 
and an arrow is spun upon a numbered dial. There are about a 
hundred numbers, each one of which, f according as the arrow 
stops, calls for some article, usually a worthless trifle. Four or 
five of the numbers, however, had prizes that seemed most valu 
able in the girls eyes j and it was most of these I succeeded in 
winning after a breath-taking outlay. Whether this excitement 
wore me out, or I wore out the excitement, I cannot say ; per 
haps the fifty-mile ride and the two hours sleep of the night 
before, had something to do with it ; at any rate, by ten o clock 
I was longing for bed. Juan had considerately borrowed a house, 
and prepared me a couch as remote as possible from the noise ; 
and I withdrew ; but don t for a moment fancy that any of mv 
neighbours followed my example. Whenever I woke during the 
night, the harp, and the song, and the hand-clapping were as 
blithe and vigorous as ever, and when I jumped up at the first 
peep of the sun, there they were at it still, though certain pros 
trate forms under the trees showed that the pace was beginning 
to tell. 

There had been a hope that the cura of the next town would 
come on Sunday morning to bless the cross. Word arrived early, 
however, that he could not make the journey. This chance had 
been foreseen, and a small cross arranged on a stand, in such a 
way that it could be carried with poles, had been provided to act 
as proxy for the permanent structure. Under the hottest of 
noons, about a dozen men mounted this emblem upon their 
shoulders and cheerfully started on their six miles walk through 
the scorching sand to receive the benediction. 

During the morning the anditasbegan to circulate. In English 


152 La Goya 

they might be called reliquaries. They are boxes, or cases of 
wood, about twenty inches long, a little less in width, and a few 
inches deep, with a glass front. They are variously ornamented, 
often with incrustations of heavy, but crude, silver work. Under 
the glass is the picture or image of a saint, belaced and bespangled ; 
below the image is a small drawer. These anditas are received 
from the churches (in reality they are probably hired as a specu 
lation), and carried all over the country in pursuit of alms. On this 
occasion they served also as images for the altars in the square. 
Of course they have been duly blessed and endowed with powers 
of absolution and indulgence. Wherever one of them goes it is 
received with great perfunctory veneration. Everybody bends 
the knee, with head uncovered, and kisses a spot on the glass. 
To gain the full benefit, however, it is necessary to give largess 
to the person who carries it. These offerings are not fixed in 
amount, but vary, I presume, with the eagerness of the giver to 
secure a favourable answer to his prayer. Still, as a tangible 
return for his charity, he receives from the little drawer a scapu- 
lary a tiny ball of raw cotton on a bit of coloured string. All 
Cholodom wears one of these charms about its neck. This itine 
rant box of benisons takes one back to some of the scenes old 
Chaucer laughed at, doesn t it ? 

I began to find the day a little hard to kill. A languor seemed 
to have fallen over the place, as if the gaieties of the night before 
had left a headache or two behind. I sought a quiet shady corner, 
and stretched myself to read. The afternoon was very warm and 
the world was very still. I fear I fell a-nodding. 

The sun was not far from the tree tops when a great commo 
tion roused me. All the village was hastening toward the plaza, 
whence the sound of a drum and fife told that the cross-bearers 
were returning. They were just nearing the arch when I arrived. 

A concourse 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 153 

A concourse of women lined the avenue of boughs ; behind the 
bearers came a crowd of cheering, chattering men ; leading the 
procession was the most fantastic group I ever beheld. Five men, 
dressed in tight-fitting clothes of flaming red, with little aprons 
hanging in front, and wearing grotesque masks that entirely 
covered their heads, were dancing madly before the advancing 
symbol of their faith, to the barbaric and tuneless music of a small 
drum and pipe, both played by one man, who walked beside the 
cross. Round and round they whirled and leaped and pranced ; 
the dance evidently had a meaning. The mask of one of the 
men was in the shape of a bull s head. He was the principal 
person in the figure ; the rest jumped about and teased him by 
waving little flags in his face, or by trying to lasso him with a 
small rope. From time to time he lowered his head and rushed 
at them wildly, while they scattered or fell down before him in 
sembled fright ; but through it all they never ceased to move to 
the cadence of the music. Of course it is easy to see that in its 
present form the dance aims at representing a bull fight ; it is even 
called el toro, or the bull, but I am convinced that it had a very 
different purpose in the forgotten period from which it is un 
questionably derived. 

The now sanctified cross was safely deposited in the tabernacle 
beside the one for which it had laboured thus vicariously ; so, after 
a few hurried adorations, the crowds scurried off to the ring that 
had been erected for the cock-fighting. With patron and peon 
alike this is the favourite sport of Peru. Here pandemonium 
reigned until dusk, while the publicans (and presumably sinners) 
reaped a harvest. The mains over, all turned homeward. 

An hour or so later, with the Goya, I was sitting smoking in 
the corner of a picante^ watching the hubbub around us, and 
struggling in vain to throw off the after-dinner laziness that pre- 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. K vented 

154 La Goya 

vented me from calling for my horse to take me over the miles 
that lay between me and my morning duties, when I again heard 
the summons of the drum and beheld a general exodus for the 

" What on earth is up now, Goya ? " I enquired. 

" The procession, Senor, the procession." 

The excitement was catching, and we followed the throng. 

The moon was just clearing the desert hills ; not a breath 
stirred. In two long lines, on either side of the avenue of branches, 
stood the bare-headed villagers, each carrying a lighted candle. 
Borne on men s shoulders, as before, in a blazing haze of incense, 
the cross was very slowly passing between these lines, while near 
the tabernacle heavy rocket bombs were exploding, and squibs 
snapped everywhere. Away in advance walked the major-domos, 
or marshals of the procession, with bags full of candles, which 
they distributed to all comers. Immediately in front, with their 
faces to the cross, two of the men in red now unmasked, danced 
reverentially to and fro. The musician with his drum and pipe, 
puffing and pounding, strode patiently beside them. Lines and 
all moved forward at a snail s pace. At the arch the lines bent 
toward one of the altars. This reached, a halt was made, and the 
cross set down. Many, undoubtedly, feeling that they had ful 
filled their devotional obligations, returned their candles to the 
major-domos and sought refreshment at the booth. Still the lines 
were well maintained, for others came to join them. When the 
march was resumed, a dozen or more women and girls, dressed in 
white and decked with flowers, took the places of the men as 
carriers. The two tireless dancers continued their solemn antics : 
they were like the women of Israel dancing before the ark. At 
the next altar the two lines knelt down in silence for a long time ; 
the drum and fife, and the squibs and bombs, never ceased. 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 155 

When I left about eleven, after consigning the Goya to old Juan, 
they had not made half the circuit of the square. Heaven knows 
how it ended. 

This is certain, eliminating the element of the cross from these 
scenes, I was, during those two days, looking on at customs and 
ceremonies as truly relics of the Prehistoric Peruvians as the 
pottery I dig out of their graves. If I could only fathom the 
meaning it all had for them ! It is useless to seek explanations 
from the living ; they do not understand half of it themselves. 
They can only shrug their shoulders, and assure you, " It is the 
custom, Senor." Yes, but how much is custom and how much is 
modern interpolation ? 

I rode home in six hours that night ; not bad time when you 
remember the sand. I was up again before eight. One thing 
you will be able to appreciate, whatever injury my life in Peru 
may have done me, it has not been in the direction of my con 


I hardly know how to tell you what must be told ; it sounds so 
sudden, so coarse, so abrupt, but life from beginning to end is 
brutality. The Goya is dead. It seems a confirmation of our 
sneers to say so. Why should we worry through the years ; why 
should we dally with love or struggle with ambition when the 
end of all is a hideous silence ? Beauty and youth with their 
irresponsibility fortune and fame with their envied power, have 
but one conclusion. Is it fear that makes us continue the 
folly ? 

After the fiesta of the cross, she and I were very happy she 
had forgotten her old restlessness, even her old vanity. She 
wanted to be with me always. We lived an ideal month. With 


156 La Goya 

her I had always to be the lover ; she never allowed life to become 
a reality. Yet it was instinct not calculation that guided her ; 
she was one of those women who appeal to our strength ; who 
must always be protected and caressed ; whom we love for their 
weakness and their womanhood. One day she told me she would 
like to go home for a few days, she had not been feeling well, and 
I concluded that the request came from nervousness ; still as 
months had passed since she had seen her parents I had to yield. 
She set out in the old way, with her guide and her Duena. I 
remember how I lifted her into the saddle and how she leaned 
down to kiss me before they started off in the cool soft air of the 

I missed her greatly during the week that followed. With old 
Juan I rode away to see her. She met me with a loving gentle 
ness, that now in the after-light, must have been significant. 
She begged me to let her remain at home a week or two more. 
How could I refuse ? 

Then a messenger came to tell me she was very ill. I laughed 
at the serious note, it could only be a woman s whim ; still, as I 
was busy, I sent old Juan to her with orders to engage all the 
doctors he could secure if he considered the case urgent. One 
morning he came back and told me she was dead. Somehow I 
didn t care. I felt annoyance, not sorrow. Yes, she was very 
ill when he arrived, but the curadoras were treating her and he 
had had no fear. I upbraided him as I might have done had he 
neglected to do a piece of work I had set for him among the 
cotton fields. He understood me better than I understood myself 
and was silent. All I could learn was that she had been very 
weak, when a haemorrhage of some sort seized her. They had 
given her the usual remedios without result ; she never recovered. 

I knew she must be buried, but I could not face the duty. I 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 157 

hate death almost as much as I hate life. What a ghastly thing 
is that final resolution into our natal clay. I could not see them 
put her into the merciless grave. The thought of my mummies 
came to me ; would it ever happen that she would make a vandal s 
holiday ? After the long years would someone touch her hair in 
idle curiosity ? I could not endure the suggestion. It was 
better to remember her as a dream that had vanished with the 
dawn. I sent old Juan to do what I should have done myself 

They buried her in the village pantheon on the hill that over 
looks the valley. I ordered them to set a cross to mark the spot, 
a cross that was inscribed with her name and nothing more. 
What did the years matter ? She had lived and she had died as 
the world had done and must do for ever. The episode had ended 
for her and for me. 

Some days later her father and her little sister came to see me. 
They brought me a huaco tied with a blue ribbon, and in a gourd 
cage the little blackbird which, they said, she asked them, just 
before she died, to take to me. In the doleful tones of ostentatious 
grief, the old man told me of her illness. After several days of 
great weakness a hasmorrhage came it was from the throat or 
lungs, he did not know exactly which. It is this feature of her 
illness that puzzles me. I know she was more delicately fashioned 
than these women usually are, still she seemed quite as robust and 
as full of health. I remember now that there was a little cough 
occasionally, but who could have dreamed that it was serious. 

Then he spoke about the funeral, of the crowds, and of the 
Mass. He thanked me effusively for my generosity in the matter 
of the candles. The people had been greatly impressed ; I had 
the sympathy of all who had attended. He dwelt especially upon 
the magnificence of the coffin ; nothing so fine had ever been 


158 La Goya 

seen in the village before. It was a great pity that I myself had 
not been able to go. 

I tried to be patient, but his voice irritated me. One grows so 
tired of seeing these people fingering their hats and patroning and 
senoring every three words. As kindly, but as hurriedly, as I 
could I sent them away. 

And now the buaco^ with its incongruous blue ribbon, adorns 
my desk, while outside in its cage the blackbird is singing the 
folly of regret. 


More than a year has passed since she died. Sometimes I have 
to cross the river ; there are the same little scenes at the ferry, the 
same early clouds hang over the valley, and there is the little house 
half way up the hill towards which I used to look so anxiously to 
see the light in her room. Why do such visits make me feel sad 
and restless, I wonder ? Did I really love her, or did she only 
stir my imagination ? Who can say ? 

On my desk is the buaco with its wilted ribbon still untouched. 
Now and then, as I rummage among drawers and pigeon-holes, I 
find one of her old letters. Always, even in the days of our 
deepest intimacy, they began with the same stiff", copy-book 
formula : " Esteemed Sefior, I take my pen in my hand to write 
you these four words," although there were sure to be as many 
pages. Some of them coax me to come and bring her back from 
one of her innumerable visits ; some of them tell me of approach 
ing fandangos in such terms that I might almost fancy that my 
happiness alone was being considered ; some of them beg irresistibly 
for something without which existence might become impossible ; 
others thank me rapturously for a present that has made her joy 
complete. Poor little Goya, how she gloried in the externals ! 

A new 

By Samuel Mathewson Scott 159 

A new dress, a pair of earrings, a glittering ring, and she couldn t 
have loved me more. 

I don t know why the world changed after she had gone. 
Manuel and Francisco dragged me into all the festivities. There 
were baptisms and haircuttings and carnivals to divert me ; but 
they all palled. It seemed as if it had been the Goya who 
gave the enthusiasm and the happiness to those old scenes of 
revelry. I dropped back into my former indifference, yet it 
was not the same, for resentment lay behind it, a resentment 
that never found expression ; perhaps it never knew its own 

As the months vanished old Juan spoke enticingly of new 
beauties that were worth a Gringo s wooing, but they never 
roused a moment s interest. The Goya s eyes laughed mockingly 
behind the fairest face. How awkward the women seemed when 
I remembered her coquetries. Juan could not understand ; 
women were women what made me so capricious ? All the 
beauty in the world had not vanished with the Goya. It was 
madness to allow the past to shadow the present. Why, many a 
woman had died when he was young. He had been sorry yes, 
but it was better to forget. When feasts were approaching which 
we had celebrated together, he has come to remind me of the 
pleasures of the year before. 

" Come, Patron, do you not remember how much you enjoyed 
it ? Let us go again. Who knows who will be there you will 
find another much better than the Goya, never fear. Had we 
not urged you, you would never have gone to the fandango at 
which you met her. If she were chance, may not chance bring 
something more delightful still ? She was only a Cholita, Patron ; 
there are many more." 

But if I went or if I stayed, it made no difference. There 


160 La Goya 

was no excitement in the noise, no spontaneity in the gladness. I 
could see only creatures unworthy uninteresting. 

I grew very restless. I devoted myself to antiquities. I 
worked among the ruins and the graves. I read the old 
authorities. I even travelled all over Peru to visit the relics of 
the ancient time ; but contentment has never come to me. 

I listen while my two companions tell me how light loves 
make light hearts. Often in the early dawn, they awaken me 
with their jingling spurs and sit on the edge of my bed to recount 
the delights of the fiesta from which they have just returned. It 
all seems gay enough, but somehow it never arouses me. Better 
indifference than disappointment. Those long rides had a 
meaning once, but now they only bring fatigue and discontent. 
The desert is not so beautiful as I once imagined. 

Even the physical world seems to be betraying me. I thought 
that at least I was secure of the sunlight, but it too is dimmed. 
It has glittered through the seven years allotted to it, and now 
the time of the great torrents is approaching. We rarely see the 
sun until ten o clock ; a chilling hurricane blows all day long. 
At evening great misty hosts come out of the sea, storm the 
headlands, and swarm over the plains like an invasion ; the night 
shuts black and cold, often with a drizzling cheerless rain. The 
brightness has gone out of the air just as comfort and peace of 
mind seem to have gone out of my life. 

Do you remember the little blackbird ? It became a great 
pet. It woke us in the morning with its melody, came to the 
table with us, ate from our plates, sat on our shoulders and sang 
in our ears. It was happy and busy always. It seemed to have 
lost all sense of the need of any companionship save ours. A few 
weeks ago, Francisco, who had taken a great fancy to the little 
fellow, bought a pair of the same breed to send to some woman in 


By Samuel Mathewson Scott 161 

Lima. We had them here in a cage for a week. One of them 
was very young and chirped all day for food. Ours, which 
proved to be a female, spent hours in feeding it. She seemed 
beside herself with pleasure in the new labour. One night a boat 
came and the new birds were sent away. Next day our pet was 
disconsolate. She sought high and low for her nursling, and 
came to us as if asking help. The morning after, she was 
missing, and she has never come back again. The instinct of 
home had been awakened, and she had started off across the 
desert to rejoin her long forgotten kin. Somehow her departure 
seemed to me to be an omen. My homing instincts, too, have 
begun to stir, and I am going back to you across the desert of the 

Two Pictures 

By Margaret Macdonald 

I. A Dream 
II. Mother and Child 


A Lady Loved a Rose 

By Renee de Coutans 


ER heart o erbrimming with much love unsought, 
A lady loved a rose. 

Through sun-flecked paths she wandered dreamily, 

By greeny lawns, and trees, and singing birds 

(Her heart o erbrimming with much love unsought). 

And passed she by a rose-bush, bearing graciously 

A flowered burden, lovely, sweet 

(Her own heart burdened with its love unsought). 

She plucked an offering, fair bud, 
And pressed it fondly to her lips 

(Her heart distraught), 
When lo ! the tender penetrating scent 
Deep nestled to her heart 



1 68 A Lady Loved a Rose 

And stirred that Love a longing there, 

Which leapt to the soft purple leaves, 

And fainted in a kiss, 

A kiss of joy full satisfied at last 

(Her heart was brimming with such love unsought). 

Our River 

By Mrs. Murray Hickson 

IN these wonderful days of late September hot as August, yet 
filled with the finality and sadness of Autumn there come 
to me, beside the river, many imaginings, quaint, grotesque, and 
pathetic. Here, where the sunshine falls in quivering patches 
between closely-growing leaves, where the water rests, without 
stir or ripple, under the shadows ; here, where the current is so 
slow that my boat, tied bow and stern to hazel boughs, moves not, 
neither swings one inch from her moorings here I lie and, as 
befits the height of such an Indian summer, dream the hours 
away, in company with my own thoughts and the soft stir and 
rustle of insect life around me. Beneath the spell of this golden 
weather one learns the great lesson of tranquillity. Now, if never 
before, do I realise that the best thing in life (and beyond it for 
aught we know) is peace peace profound, warm and unruffled- 
peace so touched with knowledge and accustomed sadness that 
sorrow has no power to disturb it peace such as one finds any 
afternoon during the last few weeks, upon the banks, or on the 
bosom of this deep-set stream of ours. For nothing disturbs its 
still flow ; not even the floods which, at times, sweep down its 
course from the higher lands above. It swells, and rises true. 
But the current runs only more full, not less quietly j the move 

170 Our River 

ment towards the sea is just as smooth and imperceptible ; the 
surface remains impenetrable and dark as ever. 

Lately, day after day, under hot sunshine, the river has lain 
placid as a lake. Slowly past my boat, leaves and twigs drift 
downward with the stream ; so slowly that they seem to move of 
their own accord, unpropelled by any force greater than a fragile 
volition. Now and again a daddy-longlegs, caught in the 
miniature debris of twigs and grasses, struggles vainly for liberty 
a discordant note in the universal acquiescence. One sees 
nothing, one feels nothing, save rest ; rest absolute and uncon 
ditional ; rest accentuated by the lazy hum of gnats, undisturbed 
by the occasional soft plop and gurgle of a fish as he rises to the 
glassy surface. As yet the trees have hardly begun to turn, but, 
here and there, a mass of yellow outlines itself against the dusky 
green of deeper woods beyond. The leaves which strew the river, 
a gently moving carpet, are unfaded, though now and again one 
notices two or three more shrivelled than the rest Autumn is 
upon us but Summer lingers still. I wonder could any young man 
or woman appreciate such a place in such weather ? Surely one 
needs the experience of middle age to understand and value the 
tranquillity of these loitering hours. 

Up and down the banks at far distances are stationed fisher 
men, dozing through long days from early morning till the sun 
sets and mists begin to gather. No one of them is near enough 
to be disturbed by his neighbour ; each stands alone, isolated and 
apart, content with his own company and the occasional capture 
of an unwary pike or roach. The struggles and death of the 
victim are blots upon Nature s tranquillity ; yet they pass swiftly 
and leave behind them a calm deepened by contrast with the 
momentary turmoil. Rings in the water ; splashes ; a plunging 
fish then gasping silence, and hot sunshine on silver scales, half 


By Mrs. Murray Hickson 171 

hidden in lush-growing grass. After that, once again spells of 
dreaming, and the lazy waiting for a bite, longed for, yet partly 
to be deprecated. No one under these cloudless skies of Autumn 
wishes to bestir himself and, for my part, fishing appears to me a 
sheer barbarity, for which I am at once too indolent and too 

Yet, without marring her quietude, our river also gathers in 
her toll. Only last week a boat was found floating, bottom up 
wards, near the place where we are wont to bathe. The water 
just there is deep ; one cannot see the bottom. Close beside the 
difficult banks is standing-place indeed ; but a standing-place of 
mud so soft that the straining feet are drawn into its slimy depths. 
This upturned boat puzzled us, but, on such a day, danger seemed 
infinitely distant, and I, for one, gave the derelict craft no second 
thought until, as we sculled homewards through gathering twilight, 
we came upon men dragging the quiet river for drowned bodies. 
Even so the thing appeared monstrous, impossible ; and we drifted 
onwards, deeming it an ugly, baseless scare. 

Do you remember the lines which preface one of Rudyard 

Kipling s tales ? 

Tweed said tae Till, 

"What gaes ye rin sae still ?" 

Till said tae Tweed, 

" Though ye rin wi speed, 

And I rin slaw, 

For each man ye droon, 

I droon twa." 

Well, our river is like that ; just so gentle and remorseless. They 
found the poor bodies next day quiet enough now, and still for 
evermore ; unable to tell us one word of that fight for life which 
had taken place under the hot, bright sunshine ; unable to say 


172 Our River 

whether at the last the river gave to them its own unfathomable 

I have felt, since this episode, a certain awe mingled with my 
love for the restful river ; that awe with which any force, at once 
placid and resistless, must always inspire us. A few days ago I 
saw two girls out alone, high up the stream, just where thick 
woodlands slope to the water s edge. Here, in a narrow cliff, 
nestled amidst close-growing trees, the sand-martins build ; and 
here long tangled trails of blackberry dangle and dip beneath the 
current. Here too it is exceedingly difficult to effect a landing 
and, if one be not a strong swimmer, the task is well nigh hope 

I looked at the girls, and I looked at the boat. It was the very 
boat out of which those two poor lads last week had lost their lives. 
The girls were laughing and light-hearted ; the busy birds flew 
hither and thither : above our heads a golden sun blazed in a 
sapphire sky, and sky and birds and girls were all mirrored, clear 
as life, in the still waters on which we rested. At that moment 
the river seemed to me like Death resistless, cruel, inevitable, 
yet with a beauty which I could neither gainsay nor comprehend. 
I wonder, when we really know, whether Death too may prove a 
Great Tranquillity. 

Two Pictures 

By Frances Macdonald 

I. Ill Omen 
II. The Sleeping Princess 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. L 


By Oswald Sickert 

A" a little after nine o clock one evening towards the end of 
August, Mrs. Lee-Martin, her daughters Eva and Clara, her 
niece, Katharine Shinner, and a kind of cousin, Huddleston, were 
all sitting in the vestibule attached to the ball-room of the Dieppe 
Casino. A waltz had just been played, and the next dance was 
the " Berline," an invention of the dancing master s which the 
Lee-Martins did not know, so they had an interval for watching 
and discussing the people. 

They had been in Dieppe a week, and the chief object of their 
discussions was a young man of twenty, a Mr. Reynolds, whom 
they all disliked. He was not tall, he had dark brown curly hair 
which parted well in the middle, a taking face with clear complexion 
and clean features ; he dived and danced admirably ; he was 
always exquisitely dressed, his manners were easy, and he was a 
great favourite with his partners. Eva and Clara had quarrelled 
with everything about him, including his long brown overcoat 
with a waist, which was so effeminate. Huddleston, who dressed 
very quietly, generously defended him. Mrs. Lee-Martin did not 
fancy the style of some of the girls with whom Reynolds danced, 
and she was just as well pleased her girls did not like him. 

Kathy exceeded the rest of the party in her objection to 


180 Kathy 

Reynolds ; indeed she felt so strongly on the subject that she 
could not bring herself to join in the perpetual discussions of his 
faults, vexed that her two grown-up cousins should talk so much 
of him he was so very far removed from her ideal of what a man 
should be. And now she talked to her aunt rather than watch 
him dancing the " Berline." She was an orphan and just sixteen, 
very sensitive, sometimes a little oppressed by her position as 
guest of the Lee-Martins, a poor relation with no particular 
prospects ; though she was wise enough to see that they gave her 
no reason for this feeling, probably never thought about her 
position except with the wish to help freely and gaily. But she 
was altogether sensitive and troubled by a pride which had come 
upon her early. 

Meanwhile Reynolds was saying to himself every five minutes : 
" I really must dance with the younger Miss Lee-Martin to-night." 

He had been settled in Dieppe a good fortnight when the Lee- 
Martins arrived, and so he had not thought it his duty to dance 
with the girls after his first introduction at the tennis-club. 
They were to his mind unnecessarily English : they walked about 
all day in men s straw hats, the eternal shirt or blouse and serge 
skirt. However, he had played in a set with Clara that afternoon, 
so he really would have to dance with her. 

He was thoroughly enjoying his stay in Dieppe ; it was his 
first independent outing, and everything, including his overcoat, 
had been successful. The first time he went out in it he had felt 
shy : it was just the latest thing, and he hardly knew yet whether 
he was the kind of person who could afford to dress fashionably. 
However, it had turned out all right. He especially liked the 
way in which the brown sleeve sat over the white shirt cuff, and 
contrasted with the dress gloves when he wore the coat in the 
evening. He had been in Dieppe many times before ; but he 


By Oswald Sickert 181 

had not done the whole business properly, and he was delighted to 
find that he had fallen on his feet, that he could do all that was 
wanted as well as or better than any one else, and that therefore 
he was in request everywhere. He had never been so unreservedly 
light-hearted, so filled with the joy of existence. 

He had danced the first dances with his usual partners, for he 
always put off" a change ; but at last he came round to the Lee- 
Martins corner, and asked Clara for a dance. Kathy was sitting 
behind her, intensely interested ; Clara had a good chance now of 
being distant to him. 

"I m sorry I m engaged for the next, and after that comes the 
entr acte, and we don t stay for the second part." 

Kathy was filled with glee at the answer ; but she did not 
think Clara looked very happy as Reynolds walked away and her 
partner came to fetch her, and she was decidedly silent walking 
back to the hotel. 

At the next ball, Clara bowed and smiled so charmingly to 
Reynolds right at the beginning of the evening that he 
immediately asked her for a dance, and Kathy was shocked to see 
her start off with him in evident delight. She watched them 
dancing. Reynolds had conquered. 

When the waltz was over and Reynolds brought Clara to her 
seat again, he was begging her to stay after the entr acte then 
was the best time. Towards the end of the evening the room 
became empty, and only the superior people stayed. Clara turned 
round and looked at her mother while Reynolds stood in front of 

" I don t know whether mother would care to stay." 

" Oh, I think we had better go back, dear ; we shall be so 

But Kathy knew the opposition would not last for ever, and at 


1 82 Kathy 

the next ball the party stayed on till the end. Kathy, thinking 
she might be an obstacle her aunt would certainly wish her to go 
to bed before eleven suggested of her own accord that Huddleston 
should see her back to the hotel after the first part. She felt as if 
Huddleston were being wronged by Clara s sudden conversion 
to Reynolds. Till now he had been the mainstay of the three 
girls at the balls, dancing regularly with them all ; he had not 
even troubled to be introduced to any other partners, although 
there were plenty to be had. It was true he did not dance well, 
but he was such a good honest fellow, unselfish and simple. He 
had always been about with them, and they were grateful, for it is 
agreeable to have a cavalier. He was well-intentioned and equally 
polite to all four ladies ; but Clara was the more charming of the 
two sisters, and it was evidently she who made their company 
pleasant to him. Now Kathy saw that he would continue to do 
everything he could for them ; but that Reynolds might step in at 
any moment and perform the pleasanter duties. So she talked 
cheerfully to Huddleston during their walk back to the hotel, 
making him tell her about his plans and the kind of work he would 
like to do when he was ordained. 

Reynolds had been surprised to find that Clara Lee-Martin 
danced well, better than any of his former partners ; and instead 
of being bored with his duty, he danced with her more and more, 
found that she was pretty, and that she liked his company. So 
he saw a great deal of her, bathed with her, and made her come to 
the end of the wooden pier and dive off instead of going into the 
water from the beach, sat near the Lee-Martins at concerts, and 
went with them to eat cakes at all the confectioners down the 
Grande Rue. They still talked of Reynolds a good deal, but 
no longer with disapproval. Clara would repeat his good stories, 
and they would wonder what his people were like: his father 


By Oswald Sickert 183 

and mother were at Carlsbad, two elder brothers fishing in 
Norway, and they were all to meet in Paris towards the end of 

On the Sunday, ten days after their first dance, Reynolds was 
wondering at lunch-time whether he should be able to find Clara 
Lee-Martin anywhere in the afternoon. She would probably be 
going out for a walk, and he might join her. Sunday managed to 
be rather a blank day, even in Dieppe, chiefly because most of the 
English colony would not dance in the evening, and as Reynolds 
did not go to either of the churches, he never knew where the 
people had got to. He felt shy of walking into the hotel to ask 
for her ; but she was often on the balcony outside her window, 
and anyhow, if she were going out, he could watch for her. 
After waiting about near the hotel for a quarter of an hour, 
thinking what a fool he was to cling to so small a chance, she 
appeared at her window. He walked back quickly towards the 
hotel and saluted her, and then came up close under the balcony. 

" Are you going for a walk this afternoon ? 

" Yes, we re going to Pourville." 

" Might I come with you ? " 

She nodded her head, smiling, and went in. Reynolds moved 
away and looked at a bicycle shop further on. That was a piece 
of good luck ! He imagined how empty he would have felt all 
the afternoon if chance had not turned so well and given him the 
occupation he wished for. After a few minutes Huddleston 
appeared from the hotel and sat down at one of the little iron 
tables. Reynolds was doubtful what to do ; he thought Huddle 
ston probably did not approve of him, and probably too he would 
not be over pleased to know that he was going to join them ; but 
it seemed too silly to roam about close to him and say nothing, 
and he was in good spirits and well-intentioned towards everyone, 


184 Kathy 

so he went up to him and began talking pleasantly. Soon he saw 
Clara coming downstairs, she was turning her head back, calling 
out something to her sister. She smiled when she saw Reynolds, 
went to the edge of the pavement to look at the sky, and asked 
Huddleston his opinion on the weather, which he gave as an 
authority. Her mother was going to call on the English curate s 
wife. Eva and Kathy came out together. Kathy was disgusted 
to see that Reynolds had calmly made himself one of the party. 

Through the town and up the Faubourg they walked all pretty 
evenly together ; but when they reached the division in the road, 
where the houses stop, and the short cut goes straight up, narrow 
and overhung with trees, the party divided naturally; Huddleston 
walked in front with Eva and Kathy, and Reynolds a few feet 
behind with Clara. Kathy was angrier than ever ; poor, manly, 
honest Huddleston had only two more days in Dieppe and this fop 
had appropriated Clara. Reynolds was chattering and Clara 
laughing incessantly. He talked of parents and their ways till 
Clara had to stand still for laughing ; then of schoolmasters, and 
Kathy would have laughed herself as she overheard him, if she 
had not been so angry and so sorry for Huddleston he was talk 
ing with Eva about the train service between London and 
Haslemere. Reynolds evidently overhead them, for he began an 
absurd description of Waterloo station and its difficulties ; there 
seemed no end to his drivel indeed Reynolds was in very good 

They reached the top of the hill and walked on the high road a 
few hundred yards till Reynolds said from behind that they must 
go by the cliff, so they turned off the road to the right. Reynolds 
declared that it was one of the most exhilarating and inspiring 
spots in the world, and made Clara stand still and look about her. 
Of course every one knew that the cliff path to Pourville was 


By Oswald Sickert 185 

lovely, and it was just like Reynolds impertinence to pose before 
Clara as a discoverer. Kathy wondered how Clara could be so 
easily satisfied with this man s conversation and dictatorial ways of 
amusing her. 

Huddleston stopped to show Eva a pretty and rare kind of 
butterfly on their path he was learned in science, and the butter 
fly was one of his strong points. Before, Clara had always shown 
interest in Huddleston s explanations ; but now she passed by 
talking to Reynolds. 

Kathy now had Reynolds in front of her as they began to go 
down hill into the valley, and she was acutely sensible of the 
differences between Reynolds and Huddleston s appearance. She 
noticed how Reynolds coat sat well round the collar, Huddleston s 
came up too far behind in a point so as almost to hide it ; 
Reynolds black straw hat made a successful angle on his head, 
Huddleston was wearing an old yellow straw trimmed with the 
colours of some out-of-the-way school ; the crisp curls of 
Reynolds dark hair left off clean at the neck, Huddleston s 
short fair hair had no definite ending ; Huddleston s nose reached 
some way beyond the shade of his hat, hence it was scarlet 
with the sun ; Reynolds complexion was deliciously clean and 
pale in fact he was a dark man, and she came to the conclusion 
that a fair man, however good looking, could never look smart. 
The comparison made her angrier still. 

Reynolds and Clara raced laughing down the last few yards, 
which ran very steep : Huddleston began trotting in a feeble way, 
and Eva followed. Kathy would not run, make a fool of herself 
just because Reynolds had chosen to set the example. 

When they reached the road again which crossed the valley 
parallel to the beach, Kathy was some way behind the two 
couples. She saw Reynolds and Clara stand on the little iron 


1 86 Kathy 

bridge and watch the stream, and then turn to the right and 
clamber over the high shelf of shingle which hid the sea from 
view. Eva and Huddleston stood for a moment uncertain whether 
to follow them ; finally they did. Kathy came up to the bridge 
and leant over, fascinated by the rush of the stream into the tunnel 
under the shingle ; she would wait till the others came back. 
However they were longer than she had expected, and as they 
were hidden by the shingle bank, she thought they might be 
walking along the beach, so she scrambled up the shifting 
mountain of pebbles and found them all four standing on the end 
of a long wooden box which enclosed the stream for someway 
after its reappearance. She walked along the slippery uneven 
planks ; it certainly was a fascinating place, with the water rush 
ing below her feet. They were discussing tea. 

" Of course there s only one possible place," Reynolds was say 
ing. " You can t go anywhere else but the Casino surely you ve 
been there ? Oh, but it s immense, you must see it ! The pro 
prietor is a famous cook, and has a telephone to Dieppe, so that 
people may order dinner and lunch and then come out to eat it. 
And the big room is a sort of picture gallery ; there are two 
magnificent Monets there, portraits of the proprietor and his wife. 
You must come ; it s one of the sights of Normandy." 

They walked on to the Casino. Kathy admitted to herself that 
it was strange, but very ugly and stupidly arranged. You could 
not see the sea at all ; the Casino, which was really a restaurant, 
faced another building which evidently contained the kitchen ; a 
few carriages stood in the yard at the end of the space between 
the two buildings, and people were sitting about at tables. The 
famous picture-gallery was a ridiculously ugly room with dreadful 
pictures on the walls, little tables all the way up on each side, an 
old and dusty petits-chevaux machine at the top ; and the two 


By Oswald Sickert 187 

magnificent portraits were absurd. As they turned to walk out 
again, Reynolds pointed to a group of people playing cards in a 
little side room ; the old man sitting with his wife at the head of 
the green baize table, he said, was the proprietor, and Kathy had 
to own to herself that the portraits were wonderfully like. They 
took a table outside and ordered tea, Reynolds insisting on having 
a galette you couldn t come to Pourville and not have a galette, 
it was the proper thing to do and he explained that it was 
no question of whether you liked galette or not, you had to 
have it. 

" My dear, you ll have to do many things in life which you 
don t like." 

During tea, Kathy noticed more than ever on what easy terms 
Reynolds and Clara stood after so short an acquaintance. He 
had taken to calling her " Miss Claire," in imitation of a French 
man whom he had overheard asking her for a dance ; and the 
name suited so well, besides overcoming the confusion between 
the sisters, that all her partners, even Huddleston, had caught 
up the habit. But Kathy was most shocked at this sign of 

Miss Claire had a way of yawning, when she was bored, in 
a subdued fashion, without opening her mouth. Reynolds had 
noticed this at once at a concert, and had caught her eye and 
made her smile, and this had grown to be a joke between them. 
Reynolds was always catching her eye during a yawn, and made 
her smile every time. He was certainly very quick, and was so 
gay and polite that he did not appear exactly impertinent. But 
Kathy did not like this secret understanding between them, and 
wished he had come across a girl who would have made things a 
little more difficult for him. 

After tea they started back again, walking abreast along 


1 88 Kathy 

the road. Huddleston gave them mathematical puzzles, guessing 
numbers : 

" Odd or even ? How many sevens in it ? " 

Or else : 

" Reverse the order of the pounds shillings and pence, subtract, 
add ... ." 

Climbing the cliff, the party divided as before. When the 
three reached the top, Huddleston stopped and said he would try 
the height of the cliff. He took out his watch and let a stone drop 
upon the beach below. He had done it before. Clara and 
Reynolds came up and stood by, Reynolds pretending interest in 
the operation, though Kathy felt that he thought it stupid. 
Huddleston, as usual, found some difficulty in his trick, because 
he could not tell when the stone reached the bottom, so he 
made Eva watch for it and call out " Now." After he had worked 
out the sum, and Reynolds had said it was very clever, they 
walked on again all together. Clara and Reynolds had evidently 
been discussing pictures on their way up. Clara had no particular 
opinions of her own in this matter ; but Reynolds admiration for 
the ugly old lady s portrait at Pourville had led her to the usual 
statement about ugly subjects. Reynolds, of course, had begun by 
arguing that because a face was, humanly speaking, ugly, that did 
not prevent its being a beautiful subject for a picture; and he went 
on to the more general statement that the painter was not in the 
least concerned with the ordinary human meaning of his subject. 

" A painter I know was making a sketch in the Brompton 
Road ; a man watched him for a moment, and then said : Why, 
you re drawing Tattersall s ! Without stopping work the painter 
answered in a vague, innocent voice : c Oh, am I ? The man 
almost shrieked with amazement and indignation : What ! You 
don t even know what you re drawing ? 


By Oswald Sickert 189 

Clara laughed, Kathy laughed too ; she saw it was a good 
illustration ; she looked at Huddleston s face perhaps he had not 
quite followed. 

" And if you enlarge upon the story, it comes out very well. 
The old critics are standing in front of a picture ; c How dis 
gusting ! The man s painted a dung-heap ! One of them adds : 
4 Ah, but there s a flower on it ; that redeems the picture/ 
People think that s good. The young critics come up and say : 
* Of course a dung-heap, why not ? A dung-heap is delight 
ful, just as good as a bed of roses. Everybody cheers and repeats 
the discovery. At last the painter comes and looks at it, and says 
to himself, Yes, I suppose it is a dung-heap ; I never thought 
of that before. How clever people are ! 

But Kathy found a way out of the difficulty. What Reynolds 
had said was clever, of course. It would do well in an article. But 
it wasn t original ; he had picked it up somewhere. That settled 
it. Huddleston was not amusing ; but at any rate he was manly 
and not a humbug, pretending to know about all sorts of things of 
which he was ignorant. But was Huddleston s trick with the 
stone and the cliff original, she suddenly thought. He hadn t 
discovered that ; some one must have taught him. Was the only 
difference then really that he was dull and Reynolds was amusing? 
She gave up the argument ; but only felt the more indignant with 

The morning after Huddleston had left, Mrs. Lee-Martin, 
Clara and Kathy were sitting on the terrace. Eva had stayed at 
home to write letters. Reynolds had a cold and was not going 
to bathe ; he was standing between Clara and her mother 
talking. After some discussion Clara decided to bathe, and she 
walked off to get her ticket ; she turned back and said to her 
cousin : 

" Perhaps 

1 90 Kathy 

" Perhaps I d better leave you my watch and things. Do you 
mind taking them ? " 

Kathy laid her book on the parapet, and Clara pulled out her 
watch and gave it into her hands and then threw two gold 
bracelets and a ring into her lap and went off. Kathy laid the 
watch on her lap, took up the ring and slowly put it on her finger. 
Reynolds was looking at her. How was it he d never noticed 
before that she was very pretty ? He watched her face as she pushed 
the first bangle over her hand ; her colour had risen, her eyes 
were sparkling with delight and her lips were parted in a smile. 
She did look lovely. Just because she had her hair down and wore 
a simple black dress, he had taken no notice of her, and how 
handsome her yellow hair looked all about her shoulders with one 
curl coming across her flushed cheek. It was pretty to see the 
girl s delight, and Reynolds was smiling too out of pure pleasure. 
When Kathy was just slipping the second bracelet over the 
knuckles of her left hand, she became aware that Reynolds had 
been watching her j she stopped and looked up at him quickly 
and found sure enough that he was watching and smiling. She 
twisted the bracelet for a second upon her hand as if she were in 
no hurry, and then drew it off and then the other and the ring. 
She was furious, she could have thrown the things over the parapet; 
but she let them lie on her lap and took up her book. Reynolds, 
of all people in the world, that detestable fop, was smiling at the 
childishness of the poor girl who had no trinkets. 

Reynolds saw her blush ; she was shy, perhaps he had been rude 
to stare so. He spoke a few words to Mrs. Lee-Martin and went 
down to the beach, thinking how pretty the niece was prettier 
than anyone there. It showed how boyishly stupid he was ; because 
she wasn t grown up and still had her hair down, he d never 
looked at her attentively. And now there was so little time left 


By Oswald Sickert 191 

they were going on the morrow. The days had passed so easily, 
spent in pleasant intercourse with pleasant people ; and now just 
at the end was he going to be tormented by the regret that he 
had neglected this beautiful girl, and by the sudden desire to talk 
to her, when he had had the opportunity a dozen times a day for the 
last weeks ? That evening there was a ball ; it was his only 
chance, for he was engaged for a tennis-party all the available part 
of the afternoon. Instead of being light-hearted he would leave 
Dieppe with a sting in his mind. 

Kathy had felt the necessity of taking up arms against Reynolds 

and vindicating her sex. A fop vain of his fashionable clothes, 

contented with his looks, always dangling about with ladies, 

evidently thinking of nothing else, he was all a man should not 

be. It was a duty to crush this odious type of man, and as others 

did not do it, the duty fell upon her. Sometimes she was oppressed 

because an opportunity did not come ; surely it would be her own 

fault if she did not find one. It was a duty ; but it would be 

sweet too, sweet and exciting to rise to the height of her scorn for 

him and show him that though she was only a girl of sixteen, and 

he had never asked her for a dance, had hardly even spoken to her, 

she was the one with a clear idea of what a man should be. This 

would pay for the eternal conversation her party had carried on 

about Reynolds. The consideration of possible occasions when 

she might crush him weighed on her mind; she was always either 

making herself indignant against him or acting her part at some 

splendid opportunity. But that morning s incident had given her 

an acute personal feeling against Reynolds. 

In the evening Reynolds got out of an engagement to dinner, 
and came early to the Casino. He knew the ball would not begin 
for half an hour, and that it was no use being there, and yet he 
could not have kept away any longer. He was troubled by the 


192 Kathy 

peculiar restlessness attaching to the hope of meeting and talking 
to one particular person in an assembly. He had wandered in and 
out of the rooms and corridors 5 and he finally sat down on one of 
the leather sofas in the petits-chevaux room, whence he could see 
into the vestibule of the ball-room every time a person passed 
through the swing-doors. He had determined not to look again 
until twenty people had passed through. The twenty-first showed 
him the Lee-Martins walking into the ball-room. They evidently 
were not going to occupy their usual row of chairs in the vestibule ; 
it was no longer very hot and the dances were not crowded, so 
they were going inside. But he had not seen Kathy. He jumped 
up and pushed open the doors, and found her in the corner on his 
left hand talking across the counter of the cloak-room. She was 
explaining in charming French about an umbrella she had lost. 
She did not turn round, and Reynolds waited till the woman left 
the counter and dived into a remote corner of her little place. He 
had thought over his sudden liking for Kathy, the obvious question 
which would arise in her mind was, "Why didn t he ask me 
before ? " and she might well be offended. He had tried to 
defend his neglect of her ; but it was plain that if he had wanted, 
he would have asked her long ago. He said humbly : 

" Miss Shinner, could you give me a dance this evening ? " 
Kathy had glanced to the side when the door swung open, and 
had seen Reynolds. She took no notice of him and went on explain 
ing her business, pleased that her French was so superior. She was 
surprised when she felt that he stopped beside her ; she thought 
of course he would go on into the ball room. When she heard 
her name she felt a great leap in her throat, she turned to 


"Thanks, no " and looked him down, from top to bottom. 

He was wearing his fine long coat and white evening gloves, his 


By Oswald Sickert 193 

right hand rested on a silver-headed stick and held his soft blaclc 
hat. The poor boy bowed his head, murmured " Thank you " 
and went back through the swing doors into the petits-chevaux 
room. When Kathy was sitting in her seat next to her aunt she 
recognised how excited she had been ; her hands were trembling 
and her knees felt weak ; the excitement continued for a long 
time. The music began and she wondered how Reynolds would 
look when he came in he always danced the first dance with 
Miss Claire. He had told her that he liked to begin the evening 
well, for then he came on to the less satisfactory partners in good 
spirits, and ever since that compliment Clara had never been late. 
Kathy became uneasy as the waltz drew to a close and Reynolds 
did not appear. They were all talking as if nothing were the 
matter ; but Kathy knew how disappointed Clara must be at the 
unexpected breach of one of those little arrangements which are 
so precious and give such an intimate excitement to life. 
Two more dances passed and still Reynolds was not there. Eva 
said : 

" Mr. Reynolds cold must be worse." 

" He was playing tennis with the Sandeman party this after 
noon," Clara added ; " perhaps that made it worse." 

Kathy was relieved ; she had not known whether the Lee- 
Martins had seen Reynolds with her or not. 

" It isn t like Mr. Reynolds to stay away from a dance for a 
cold," Clara went on, " and I know he specially wanted to come 
to-night. He said yesterday evening that the last ball wasn t such 
a melancholy occasion when all the party were leaving on the same 
day ; and he s going to Paris to-morrow." 

Kathy s astonishment had changed to an uncomfortable guilty 

feeling, and finally to indignation. The fop was offended because 

she would not dance with him, and so his lordship in a huff would 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. M not 

194 Kathy 

not dance with her sweet cousin, though he must know that she 
depended on him for the enjoyment of her last evening. He 
simply had no right to behave so ; it was scandalous. No doubt 
he did it on purpose, knowing that she would be vexed and feel 
guilty if he did not come and dance with Clara. That would be 
like Reynolds always catching on to girls weaknesses, no doubt 
flattering himself upon his insight. 

The Lee-Martins left at the entr acte. Only two of their 
partners were still dancing, and they were chiefly engaged with 
another party ; besides, they were of no account in Clara s eyes. 
Kathy felt deeply for Clara s disappointment as the little party 
walked silently back to the hotel ; she knew better than any one 
how much such a thing as a last ball meant to her. 

When he left Kathy, Reynolds had dropped into his sofa again, 
with a pain across his chest. He did not remember ever to have 
been so hurt as he was by her refusal ; he had asked so humbly. 
She had a perfect right to be offended with him for having put off 
asking her until the very last day. What could he do to make 
amends ? How pretty she had looked. The music began, but 
he could not make up his mind to go into the ball-room. It was 
Miss Claire s dance ; she would be disappointed. It was shame 
ful not to go in and dance with her ; and yet, if he could bring 
himself to do so, Kathy would think he was callous and did not 
mind. He was tormented with doubt. He went outside and 
looked through a window into the ball-room and saw the girls 
sitting. He wondered whether they had seen him talking to 
Kathy ; at any rate, Kathy would probably say that she had spoken 
to him. What right had he to disappoint Miss Claire because he 
was sulky ? He would go and dance the second dance. He went 
and looked round the door and came back. It was not sulkiness ; 
he was so hurt at Kathy s refusal. The second dance finished. 


By Oswald Sickert 195 

Now it would really be awkward for him to go in, and yet he 
knew he ought. The third dance passed. How dreary it was 
wandering about ! Each time a dance began he made up his 
mind to get the better of his mood ; but they all passed, and he 
was too weak to overcome his discomfiture. And it was the last 

He saw them leave after the first part, and he knew he had 
behaved abominably to his gracious companion of the last weeks. 
He wandered about inconsolably until the end of the ball, and then 
went miserably to bed. 

The next morning he hardly knew how he could face the Lee- 
Martins ; yet he must go to the Casino and see them. They were 
leaving at one o clock, and he at four. 

It was a wonderfully still day, sunny and misty. The lazy flag 
near the bathing-place drooped motionless at the masthead. That 
flag, the first point to which his eye was always directed on enter 
ing the Casino, was the symbol of numberless happy mornings ; 
but never had he enjoyed Dieppe so much as this year. The 
morning air was sweet with the scent from the thickly packed 
flower-beds. He leant in at one of the open windows of the hall, 
and listened to M. Anschiitz playing. The piano rang out with 
bell tones in the empty room. The music and the sight of 
the artist wrapped up in his work, playing alone in the cool, dimly 
lighted hall (for the blinds were drawn all along the sunny side), 
brought tears to his eyes ; and he wished his stay in Dieppe could 
have ended well, and sighed as he took his arms ofF the window- 
sill. He walked round the building, and stood for some time 
looking at the terrace. Only a thin line of people were sitting in 
the shade of the long awning. Everything was still. A little 
fleet of fishing-boats lay motionless outside the harbour ; they 
might have been floating in the sky, for there was no horizon. He 


196 Kathy 

had never seen the sea so calm. It was early yet, and the Lee- 
Martins would be still packing. He hoped they would come ; 
and yet why should he be tormented in his mind, prevented from 
enjoying the melancholy sweetness of his last morning ? 

It was a quarter to twelve before they appeared, and Reynolds 
had been growing anxious. The three girls were alone ; Mrs. 
Lee-Martin had evidently not thought it worth while to come 
down for a quarter of an hour. 

" How are you this morning, Mr. Reynolds ? " Clara asked as 
he came towards them, " I was so sorry you didn t come to the 
dance last night." 

" Oh thanks, I think I m all right again. I didn t feel at all fit 
for dancing yesterday evening." 

Then they stood against the parapet looking at the sea. 
Reynolds felt very humble and penitent and so kindly disposed 
towards the three girls, he would have liked to do something to 
show them his warm feelings ; but they talked of the calm 
passage to Newhaven, and when he would come back from Paris, 
and of such matters. Eva and Clara had to fetch their things 
from the bathing-woman, so Reynolds followed the two girls down 
the steps, and stood about at some distance from the woman s 
cabin. Then he wondered whether he could go up again and 
just have a word with Kathy ; he was longing to speak to her. 
He moved back slowly, then ran up the steps and came towards 
her. She stood still, taking no notice of his approach ; she 
simply detested him, and his behaviour the night before had 
completed her scorn for him. He said very humbly : 

"Miss Shinner, I m so sorry if I ve offended you. I wish you d 
tell me what I ve done." 

"You owe me no apologies. You weren t in a position to 
offend me," she began hotly ; then she stopped, she was trembling 


By Oswald Sickert 197 

so violently with excitement and her head began to whirl ; but 
she distinctly felt vexed that her cousins came up just at that 
moment and put an end to the scene. The boy felt a great lump 
in his throat ; he couldn t think of anything to say in the short 
time left for him, only in a thick voice "You judge very hardly ; 
J suppose you have the right to. . ." 

He turned to Clara and Eva and told them he was waiting to 
see some one, so he would say good-bye there. Kathy had hardly 
noticed his answer, she was so indignant and excited ; but she 
could scarcely believe her senses when she saw that his eyes looked 



A week afterwards, on the morning of September 22nd, Kathy 
was standing in the dormitory near the chest of drawers at her 
bed-side. She had never been away to a boarding-school before. 
She had arrived the previous afternoon, leaving the Lee-Martins 
happily settled in their home in London, engrossed in shopping 
and other interesting occupations, and she did envy them their 
happiness. Every one else had such exciting lives. Here she was, 
at school in Eastbourne, among all these strange girls who knew 
the place so well and had laughed and chatted contentedly. And 
her coming to this school forced her to look forward to no 
comforting prospect ; she would have to work very hard and fit 
herself for earning her livelihood. What a drop from the free 
careless life she had led with her cousins ! And all the regret for 
the exciting holiday with its golden glamour centred in Reynolds. 
A week ago she had been in a position to crush a universal 
favourite ; now she was one of forty school girls with nothing but 
dreariness before her. It had seemed quite natural then to be on 
such a pinnacle ; now she was here and of no account in any one s 
eyes. How was that possible ? The more she thought over her 


198 Kathy 

behaviour the more incredible it seemed. How could she have 
dared to sit in judgment and feel fully entitled to tell him she 
disapproved of him? "You judge very hardly. I suppose you 
have the right to." She had not noticed his answer at the time ; 
but since that day it had always been in her mind. 

And in her present lowliness she felt ashamed of her impertinent 
righteousness yes, and pride and excitement at feeling herself 
at last in power. Her cheeks burned to think of it. But happily 
he had not seen it so. She really had possessed the power and 
had humbled him and made his voice come thick and brought 
the tears to his eyes, and he had thought she had a right to do so. 
And she pictured Reynolds in Paris, in brilliant society, enjoying 
himself, driving in carriages, going to balls and the opera and 
she leant over the open drawer, and a sudden great fit of crying 
seized her, just as the desolate sound of the unhomely bell came 
to her ears, ringing the girls to breakfast. 

" Sub Tegmine Fagi 

By Marie Clothilde Balfour 

THE sun strikes full upon a hillside sloping to the east, and 
backed by long, swelling moorlands ; there are firs on the 
western edge of the path, that guard a fragrant silence in their 
brown, cool shadow ; but here one can catch the rustle of their 
quivering needles aloft, where the breeze from the sea whispers to 
them and brings gossip from their cousins in far countries. And 
below there is grass, stretching widely, and falling to a little wood 
of oaks and beeches, and an up-thrust cliff, along whose face 
young foxes gambol and scamper ; and again an undulation of 
young grass, and a swaying corner of green corn, and woods, and 
further cliffs, till the land ends abruptly in a line of amethyst sea 
that itself fades into the pearl and primrose of the far horizon, 
and there is not a house to break the beauty of it not a house, 
though out of those further trees there is a faint line of smoke 
rising, that is dimly white against the green ; and round the 
corner, behind the edge of the hill, there is a little sleepy town 
huddled in the hollow ; but here there is not a house anywhere 
set as a pock-mark upon the summer face of nature. There are 
birds, busy below us ; amid the trees and round the tufts of gorse, 
plovers are calling to each other ; and behind, on the moor, one 
hears sometimes the shrill, sad cry of the curlew ; and from the 


2oo "Sub Tegmine Fagi" 

sky, like falling drops of water, comes the song of a lark. Now 
it is loud, and if one has good eyes, one may see the small black 
thing poised not far above us ; and then it rises suddenly, and the 
sound fades suddenly into the thin, blue distance, like an echo far 
amid the mountains. 

Everywhere the bees are loud ; amid the gorse bloom, and occa 
sional clover heads, and the small, exquisite flowers that hide in 
the short grass, the pimpernel, and the tiniest vetches, the bird s- 
eye, and a microscopic forget-me-not, mauve, and blue, and yellow, 
white and scarlet a world of bloom and colour blent into the 
green, and trampled, unseen, under foot. And a thousand winged 
things poise, and hover, and dart in the indolent air ; the sheep 
come near us, so that we hear them nibbling, and look at us out 
of wisely foolish eyes. 

It is morning and it is June ; and one of those few days when 
it is well to be alive, when the feeling of one s flesh is a compli 
cated delight, and the wholesomeness of the world is pre-eminent. 
One wonders when that approaching century arrives, when our 
passions will be regulated, like our possession, to an equal smooth 
ness, and all of us will be mild anarchical dynamiters ; one won 
ders whether the grey days of winter and the golden mornings of 
summer will be mingled also into a dull, drab sameness. And 
whether those who are young then will ever say, when they look 
out upon the wide loveliness of land and water : " To-day it is good 
to be alive " ? Perhaps, after all, they will be too wise and have 
too much work to do. 

Down in the hollow, in the little town, people do not look out 
of window and greet the day with acclamation. The time is 
gone by when Strephon sat below the beeches and piped his pretty 
loves to Lesbia and Chloe ; and when Dresden china shepherdesses 
in high-heeled shoes herded sugar-candy sheep on green and lovely 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 201 

uplands. Strephon now wears moleskins, odorous and uncleanly, 
and a sleeveless waistcoat, of a forgotten colour, hanging open 
over a dirty shirt ; and instead of piping his love upon a flute, he 
tickles Lesbia, invitingly, and spits out a jest or two, mixed with 
tobacco juice, and she does not blush ; while Chloe, in a mush 
room hat and kerchief about her throat and head, and a tight apron 
outlining every protuberance of her figure, is weeding in the next 
held, and cursing the sun and the sea air for burning the white 
anaemic skin of her, and wondering whether Strephon will meet 
her behind the hedge to-night, and whether he is just now 
"making up" to Lesbia which he is. That is the pastoral life 
of to-day. It is pretty no longer ; but it is human. There are no 
piping shepherds to set the pink and white maids a-dancing, or to 
sing when love goes awry with them : " Oh, blow the winds, 
heigho!" as in the old Northumbrian ballad. It is only the 
green trees and the grass, and the waters, and the eternal hills, 
and the song of birds, and the nibbling sheep, that are the same ; 
and surely, even the sheep are blacker than they used to be. 
The dainty china figures have become men and women not too 
clean, perhaps, of life or lip ; not lovely in their habits or in their 
passions ; taking their pleasures rudely, and their sorrows with 
reviling ; and loose-minded from the promiscuity of existence. 
Their joys are as those of the beasts that couple in the fields, and 
their leisure is replete with an unvirtuous indolence. 

Yet they are men and women flesh and blood ; cursed with 
the passions and the pains of humanity, and tasting thereof but 
the cheaper pleasures. And humanity is something greater, if 
less lovely, than a puppet-play : and in the blackest of truth there 
is always the white line of eternity. Strephon and Chloe, the 
pretty piping lovers, have fled the stage ; and their place is taken 
by Bill and Mary Ann ; who are clad in the warm encumbrance 


202 " Sub Tegmine Fagi 

of living flesh, and play the old drama " the tragedy, Man " 
wearing their sex with a difference ; for " male and female created 
He them." 

No, Strephon no longer sits and pipes beneath the beeches ; 
nor does Tityrus lie dreaming of the joys of a pastoral life. 
Strephon is washing sheep, yonder in the foul smelling pond by 
the stunted hawthorn-trees ; and Tityrus is cursing the weather 
and the irreconcilable desires of his crops, or trotting home 
titubant from market. 

Along the white road that crosses the plantation grounds like 
an uncoiled ribbon, a lumbering cart proceeds, and a dim echo 
reaches us of the thud of the horse s slow feet, and the rumble of 
the heavy wheels ; probably the driver is dozing on the shaft, 
where by long habit, he can perch even when asleep. Old John 
the carter travelled thus, trusting to his meditative mare, who 
reflected over every step she took with her ponderous feet : and 
thus they found him that drenching wet day, when they brought 
him home in his own cart stiffened into a horribly undignified 
bent thing beneath a wet cover that clung unkindly to his out 
lines . . . 

It was a hopelessly wet day. In North Street which is the 
road leading to the northern moors from the small grey town in 
the hollow everyone was within doors ; not even the children 
put out their noses into the grim unceasing downpour. The 
road was spread with a continuous surface of water, which leapt 
in a million tiny fountains to meet the lashing of the descending 
rain, and gathering streams clashed and gurgled about the gutters, 
and swirled round the overflowing drains. Down the open 
chimneys and spluttering into the fires beneath ; battering upon 
the roofs and against the small windows, and creeping in at every 
hole and cranny ; entering in an insolent pool beneath the doors ; 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 203 

the rain was everywhere, and the low sky frowned in a black 
promise of continuance. 

But at the cottage of John the carter the door stood wide, and 
the water took its way in without hindrance and lay comfortably 
upon the floor, reflecting the red glow of the spluttering fire, 
with the kettle singing cheerfully on the hob, and the tea-things 
set out upon the little table at the side where the armchair stood. 
It stole into the very flounce of the bed that hid itself modestly 
behind curtains and woodwork, and only opened a wide black 
mouth behind a hanging full of gaudy cotton. Hannah stood 
outside out in the rain and stared up the road in a blasphemous 
silence. John was out yonder in the wettest of the wet weather 
he who was so old and so frail and newly from a sick bed ; 
John who had married her sometimes she wondered why only 
a few months ago ; that he might have some one to nurse him 
and cook his dinner, the neighbours said but Hannah thought 
differently. There were others who could have done that for 
him j but she, Hannah, who had trailed herself through the 
mire of the town and had spent her youth in the bearing of 
chance-got children and the bestiality of drunkenness ; she at 
whom the not overnice neighbours had looked askance, and whose 
grey hairs had not brought her dignity, why had John, the 
carter, who was sober and well to do, ever looked at her ? 
Hannah did not know, but she thought dimly that God had been 
sorry for her, and she remembered the wild unspoken rage of 
gratitude and devotion that had filled her, when John asked her 
to come to his fireside, and to come there by way of the Church 
door. She would have gone without that ; but her simple un 
developed mind had its yearnings for paradise a paradise where 
she would know what it was to be "an honest woman" before 
she died ; where she could be as others were, who had once never 

204 "Sub Tegmine Fagi 

theless been not quite what she was, but still mothers of 
nameless children also in forgotten years. And she left behind 
her, for ever she hoped, the life that had been hers, and the misery 
and the want, and the shame of it ; and like a little child that 
turns smiling from its tears, she smoothed the wisps of grey hairs 
upon her brow, and followed John the carter to his home, silent, 
obedient, and consumed with an exceeding devotion. And John, 
rough John, who had taken her none knew why, had done well 
for himself, and was aware of it, too ; though he swore at her 
and grumbled after the manner of man, and his hand was heavy. 
But Hannah had known worse than that . . . and now John was 
out in the rain out yonder ; and she stood in the street, her 
dress clinging to her gaunt haunches and shrunken breast, and 
the water streaming from her scant grey hairs, to see " how wet 
he would get"; and to recall the hideous words of the doctor 
when he bade her " keep your man warm and out of the cold if 
you want him to live." If she wanted him to live ! God ! And 
Hannah looked at the black sky and blasphemed and shivered, as 
she felt the rain beating beating down upon him. And presently 
the familiar cart turned into the street from the market-place and 
came slowly towards her. But there were strange men leading 
the old white mare, and women that gathered upon the doorsteps 
as they passed. And Hannah looked, and the world stood still and 
waited and waited with her, as the thud of the mare s hoofs and 
the rumble of the wheels and the splash of men s feet through the 
water, came up the street ... it had never never sounded like 
that before. Then they reached the door, which was standing 
open, and they went in carrying the bent distorted thing under 
the clinging cover, and laid it in the black gulf of the bed ; and 
the water on the floor reflected the red glow of the fire, where the 
kettle still sang, and touched the legs of the table which was set 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 205 

out for tea for John the carter. But he did not want it now. 
And that night Hannah, who had not looked at whisky since she 
had known what it was to be an " honest woman," rolled on the 
wet floor drunken, and dabbled her grey head in the cold pool of 
entering rain. It did not matter, for there was no one to care ; 
John the thing within the darkness of the bed could not see 
her any more ; there was nothing left now but whisky. It did 
not matter. John the carter was buried two days later, but 
Hannah did not go to the funeral ; she was drunk still ; and she 
went drunk to her pauper s coffin, in a little while. There was 
nobody to care and it did not matter at all. 

One thinks of it now, seeing yonder cart cross the stillness ; 
and the lives of a pastoral people are, it seems to one, so strangely 
sad even their crimes and their brutalities are such as gods weep 

There is a gentle dove-voiced woman in one of the cottages, 
whose eyes are fixed always on the invisible. One morning her 
little son, one of a crowd of children, for she was the mother of 
many, ran out and called to her gleefully that he was going for a 
ride ; and she looked after him lovingly, and saw that the sun 
glinted on his hair and turned it to gold. Presently a whisper 
ran up the street that there had been an accident, and Mr. Main s 
little son had been hurt was insensible was dead ; and Martha 
ran, cooing, down the sidewalk to comfort the mourning mother. 
And she met the little procession of men carrying the small 
figure, and the doctor came to her and spoke but she did not 
understand. How could it be her Jacky, that thing covered over, 
when Jacky had but just gone for a ride? And she followed 
them home, her lips pouting with unspoken questions and a horrid 
comprehension dazing her eyes. For three long days the small 
coffin lay upon the bed, with flowers about it, and yellow hair 


206 " Sub Tegmine Fagi 

curling on a white forehead, and eyelids that trembled when you 
looked at them, but were never lifted ; and flowers lay over the 
mouth and chin that had met the horse s hoof. .... And the 
mother moved about the room, and cooked at the fireside, and set 
meals on the small table for the others of them ; and the children 
ate and lived and some of them slept, within the same four walls 
as the open coffin on the white bed. And their father sat on the 
settle, with tears glittering in the tangle of his grey beard, and 
whispered to them hoarsely, " Be canny noo ! " when he saw his 
wife s dull sad eyes, and the unspeakable sorrows hanging on her 

When they took the coffin away, and all the town followed 
Jacky to the churchyard, Martha wandered aimlessly about the 
empty room and sought, sought, for something that she missed ; 
and at last, when the groping fingers touched the edge of madness, 
they closed on a whistle a sugar whistle that had been Jacky s, 
and which was half sucked and dirty, as it had been taken from 
his pocket when they brought him home. And Martha found 
her tears, and the seal upon her eyes was lifted, and she came 
back to a whole mind and a broken heart. But often now, in the 
midst of her stalwart boys and her pretty hard-working daughters, 
if you ask her which is the best of them, she smiles and says 
softly, "The one that does not grow any older and never leave? 
my side," and her eyes look over their shoulders to the yellow 
head she sees always near her, and the father whispers hoarsely to 
the others, " Be canny noo." 

It was he I remember and big Tom Jamieson who told us of 
the Macara affair a small thing which none troubled much about. 
Big Tom and decent, gentle John Elliott were coming home one 
night from the slakes, where they had been shooting wild duck 
together j and as they came up North Street, they heard loud 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 207 

noises from the miserable hut where Pete Macara lived, since he 
came to the town a month or two back to work when it pleased 
him in the quarry. Pete Macara was a perfectly lovely villain, 
whose face was the colour of ancient ivory, carved into a mask of 
the vilest sort of wisdom. From the top of his curly black head 
to the tips of his slender fingers, he was beautiful as a black 
panther and as vicious, and the eyes of him were limpid pools of 
iniquity. He had a wife, whom we saw but seldom, till the latter 
days, and whom we found perplexing ; a small, frail, white thing, 
with a gentle frightened face, who sometimes forgot to speak 
vulgarly, and whose soft hands were but newly roughened by 

Pete swore at her, we knew, and beat her we suspected ; and 
therefore John and Big Tom stopped uneasily when they heard a 
cry rising from the hut, and glued their eyes to the narrow slit of 
bare window-pane beneath the rag that served as curtain. They 
did not look long before the cry sharpened to a shriek, and there 
was a dull thud, and a loud curse, which came from gentle John 
Elliott s mouth, that was wont to whisper hoarsely " Be canny." 
And big Tom Jamieson hurled his great shoulders at the door, 
whereat the lock, as was to be expected, gave way obediently. 
Pete Macara leapt to the threshold, and instantly met with a 
shaking that made his bones rattle and his skin crack ; while John 
pushed past them, and bent over the bundle of clothes that was 
huddled upon the floor, and whence there came a small crawling 
worm of something red and sticky 

Tom went on shaking Pete at intervals, till he dropped him on 
the floor, and swore at him comfortably. It took a good deal of 
plain speech to ease big Tom when once his huge body woke up 
to anger. The other gathered himself together, and surveyed the 
scene sulkily, but with a wicked satisfaction twitching at his lips ; 


208 " Sub Tegmine Fagi 

and John stood anxiously by the dirty bed, where he had lifted the 
woman whom we called Peter Macara s wife. 

Tom went over and stood beside him. 

" A ll go fur tha doctor, if ye reckon a d better," he said, 
meditatively ; "an bring un back wi me. Till un it s a maitter 
o life an death an maistly death." 


John shook his head. " A think she s comin roun ," he 
answered hoarsely, " a think so. It s mebbe more a matter for the 
polis than the docter 

" The polis sure nuff. It s tempted manslaughter hear that 
noo ? " and he glanced over his shoulder at Pete, who smiled, and 
the stained ivory of his skin carved itself into wrinkles and made 
of him a malicious Eastern god. 

" Ax her," was all he deigned to reply. 

John and big Tom surveyed her as she sat up and looked about 
her composedly, and touched the red wound on her forehead with 
dazed wondering fingers ; and they said to each other some of the 
things we had all been saying recently, when we looked from her 
white sorrowful little face to the evil bestial brows of Pete 
Macara. But she heard what they said, and it roused her. She 
got off the bed and stood by it dizzily, and spoke to the point. 

" It s none o your business," she said, " what I am, or who I 
am, or where I come from. All you need to know is that I 
belong to Pete Macara and he can do what he likes with me. 
And if it pleases him to knock me down or to kill me I tell 
you it s none of your business, and I say he shall do it if he 
chooses ! And this is his house what are you doing here ? 
go ! " and she staggered forward and fell dizzily on her knees in 
the middle of the stain upon the floor. There she groped for 
Pete s hand, laying her face against it, and he spurned her with his 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 209 

foot. " You see ? " she said, and laughed, a little wildly. " I 
belong to Pete Macara and you you can go ! " 

Big Tom Jamieson and John Elliott went away without further 
argument, and walked up the street together, thinking hard and 
saying nothing. It was only when they came to John s door, 
that they looked at each other uncomfortably. " God ! " said big 
Tom ; "she spoke like like a lady and he he kicked her off 
like a fawning bitch." John looked away and moved his lips 
uneasily. Then he turned to his own door, and muttered very 
low. " Pah ! she she licked his band" 

People did not meddle much with Pete Macara or his wife after 
that. But he forced her so we supposed to support him by the 
vilest traffic, and he lived in happy indolence till the Squire got 
tired of waiting for his rent and kicked him out. Then they left 
us, unregretted ; but not before there were many other tales 
whispered about the small pale woman who was Pete Macara s 
possession. . . . 

When strangers came to the little grey town in the hollow, 
they wondered at its uneventfulness, and pitied us for the long 
monotonous months that slowly filled the years ; but beneath the 
surface, it seems, on looking back, that for those who had eyes to 
see there was a constant succession of small tragedies, the tragi 
comedies that build up the commonplaceness of life. Not the 
dainty operettas of Strephon and Chloe, as I said before, but 
little melodramas, where one only did not weep because one was 
too hopelessly wretched. For the pathos is apt to be so miserably 
hideous, that the onlooker feels sick and turns away with a sigh ; 
and yet it is but the setting and the mask ; the actual passions are, 
after all, the great simple underplan of life in all of us, and in such 
as these they lie nearer the surface. And the innermost soul is 
the same, when you reach it or perhaps it is a little more 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. N childlike. 

210 " Sub Tegmine Fagi " 

childlike, and unharmed by the mire in which it is plunged. 
Bobby Stobbs, for instance, I conceive had a soul that was as 
lovely as in the flesh he was otherwise. And since Bobby 
Stobbs, like Hannah, and Martha, and like Pete Macara s miserable 
wife, loved much. . . . 

Bobby took a house in our street, and we stared in surprise ; 
for it was so ruinous and tumble-down that it did not 
seem fit for pigs to litter in. We supposed he got it cheap ; 
but a penny would have been a fair rent to pay for it, and we 
told him so. Bobby smiled at us superiorly. " Ah," he said, 
"Tusky will make it that smart an comfable." We were 
interested, for we did not know he had female belongings ; but he 
went on to explain he was going to fetch home his wife and 
children, and that Tusky would make the house all that it should 
be. He went off with a borrowed cart and pony to fetch them. 
It rained that day so heavily that he was already soaking as he 
went down the street ; and when he returned with his precious 
load, it was raining still, and Bobby sat on the shaft dripping and 
shivering, his only coat wrapped round the baby in the cart. If 
Bobby could have faced us naked, he would have given them the 
small remainder of his garments too. We watched a small black 
woman crawl out from beneath a table and help him to haul the 
soaking bedding and the few broken chairs and a box of cracked 
pottery in at the door ; and then three bundles tumbled into the 
mud, shook down legs and followed their mother, while Bobby 
led the lame pony back to its stable in the Watsons wash-house, 
with his white face looking, so they told us afterwards, extremely 
happy and well content, though his shoulders shook ominously. 
Dinah Green went in late to see how they were getting on, 
being of a neighbourly turn of mind. 

"The beddin was afore the fire," she told us next day, "an 


By Marie Clothilde Balfour 211 

you could smell it acrost the street ; and when you came in you 
could see em a jumpin and a crahlin from the very doorstep." 
(Dinah was a clean woman and apt to see things to which other 
people shut their eyes). Tusky was running about the room, 
talking to the children, who crawled over the floor, amid a sea of 
rags, potsherds and other things which it is not necessary to 
particularise. She was sticking a few gaudy pictures on the walls, 
but had not thought of stopping the rain from drifting in at the 
broken window ; and she was hampered in her work by having 
with one hand to hold her garments together at the waist. 
There was already a considerable piece of dirty skin visible. 
There was also a whisky-bottle on the table, which was propped 
up against the wall ; and it was half empty. Consequently 
Tusky was cheerful and talkative. 

Dinah listened to her awhile in grim silence. 

" Where s yer man ? " she asked suddenly. 

Tusky added another smear to her face by passing her free 
hand over it. " He s here I reckon," she said vaguely. " Ha 
ye got a pin ? " 

Dinah passed her one at arm s-length, and Tusky performed a 
short toilet. 

" Where s yer man ? " repeated the tall, gaunt woman in the 
sun-bonnet, as the other conveyed the whisky-bottle to her 
mouth ; but this time Tusky looked silly, and did not trouble 
to answer. Then a voice came feebly from the depths of the 

" I m here Dinah," it said. " Get ye doon, my woman. 
Tusky s that busy she can t gee t ye." 

The words came in gasps, and Dinah peered into the darkness. 
Bobby lay in his wet clothes in a pool of water. The bedding 
was at the fire, so he lay upon the bare boards. He was not com 

212 "Sub Tegmine Fagi" 

fortable. " My word," said Dinah, " what ll I do wi ye ? Ye 
can t be took anywhere else, ye re that dirty ; and here " 
She sniffed. 

" I m cleaner than or nar," he murmured feebly ; " come 
o bein in the rain," and his face looked strangely white in 
the darkness of the bed. 

Dinah came and went many times that evening, while Tusky 
snored in the corner, and the children whimpered on the wet 
floor. On her last journey the rain had turned to snow, and the 
air had grown terribly cold. The poultice she carried between 
hot plates was already tepid. But Bobby was grateful for it, 
nevertheless, as he lay amid the blankets she had brought him, 
breathing fast, and talking softly to himself, while Tusky snored,, 
and the candle and the fire were both nearly burned out. Dinah 
did what she could for him, and turned him upon his side. 

" I ll bring the doctor first thing to-mara," she said cheerily, 
"an I reckon he ll mak ye weel. He s a terrible clever chap, our 
doctor is, an a real decent man, too. He ll mak ye weel." 

Bobby looked up composedly. " Ay, it ll be a vera sore ex 
pense," he murmured, " an that hard on Tusky poor Tusky 
an she so handy an goin to make the house that smart an 
comfable Tusky ah ! she s a smart un Tusky," and he 
looked across at the dirty, drunken little figure huddled in the 
corner, with wisps of hair straggling across her grimy and vixenish 
face. Dinah looked that way, too, and snorted : " Ye maun? 
keep warm, an sleep, an wait for the doctor," she said, restraining 
herself with energy, and preparing to depart. " Ye re doin fine, 
and ye ve on y got to wait for the doctor. I ll gat un fine n 

She let herself out into the snow, and saw that Bobby lay with, 
his loving eyes fixed on his wife. 

" Tusky 

By Marie Clothilde Balfour 213 

"Tusky smart un," he murmured, and Dinah shut the 

Bobby did not wait for the doctor, so his bill was saved, as 
Tusky remarked, when she was sober enough to understand 
about it. 

"An ," she added, "there ll be an inquess, an the jurymen ll 
give me their shillin s they allus do," and she tried the effect of a 
black rag that she had found in the gutter, pinned about her 
throat. Tusky thought that, some day, she would marry again. 
But Bobby Stobbs had loved much. 

Down yonder, under the beeches, upon a knoll, the sheep have 
clustered prettily, and there are lambs in the lower field that bleat 
and gambol in the sunshine. I can almost fancy that I see 
Strephon a-piping where the shadow of the leaves flings a golden 
tracery on the soft green grass ; and surely Lesbia is dancing, and 
under her feet the smell of the fallen pine needles rises pungently 
sweet and pervading from the cool brown ground. 

But Lesbia is sadly besmirched, and all her playmates are apt to 
be unbeautiful nowadays, and in the flock she tends there are too 
many black sheep. 

The grass and the beeches below us, the firs behind ; the 
trimmed carpet of flowers and the song of the birds ; the silver- 
spangled sea beyond and the gladness of the eternal hills only 
these are the same ; and so, after all, is humanity. 


By Eva Gore- Booth 

THIS is the way of Heaven : you may kneel 
And beat your breast for hours in futile prayer j 
No faint light flickers on the golden stair, 
No spirit hearkens to your soul s appeal ; 
No hand draws back the curtains that conceal 
The land of shadows men imagine fair ; 
And the beloved shade who wanders there 
Invisible, no magic may reveal. 
Men talk of all the strength of love and faith 
Vain words ! and false it is as idle boast 
To dream you hold communion with a ghost, 
And bring to earth again a vanished wraith. 
No shadow answers to a shadow s call 
This is the way of all things spiritual. 


This is the way of Nature : as of old 

When from the primal darkness first there grevr 

Flowers, and the sun shone and the sky was blue, 


By Eva Gore-Booth 215 

And life s bright promises were manifold 
Her hidden wealth is now as then untold. 
He who digs deep enough shall find her true ; 
Each miner gains at last his honest due 
Of her great buried store of gems and gold. 
This is the way of Earth : she hears the call 
Of every ploughman s prayer ; the labourer, 
If he be worthy, has his will of her ; 
From the rich furrows where the good seeds fall 
She brings forth life, and all the hope that clings 
Round the strong patience of material things. 


This is the way of Sorrow : wearily 

Should one set out with such a weary guide ; 

The path is narrow, and the world is wide, 

And no man knoweth any reason why. 

And yet tis foolishness to strive or cry ; 

The doom must fall on whom the gods decide. 

They walk with pain for ever at their side, 

Through her long wilderness of mystery. 

Yet though sweet Sorrow hath few words^to say, 

A dull companion on a lonely road, 

Yea, though she hath not strength enough to pray, 

And on life s shoulders binds a heavy load, 

Her heart is true, her footsteps shall not stray, 

She leads at last unto the gods abode. 


2 1 6 Finger-Posts 


This is the way of Joy : the artist knows 
The secret that makes all things fresh and fair. 
She gives a fragrance to the summer air, 
And, flashing by where life s dull river flows, 
She shakes the languor of its slow repose, 
And drives it, scattering music everywhere, 
Up to the foot of Heaven s golden stair, 
Through the wild tangles of the mystic rose ; 
There in the shade beside the river s bed 
She rests awhile, and dabbles in the stream 
Till down the giddy mazes of her dream 
She finds the little peaceful hour has fled. 
Then forth into the startled sky she springs 
With swift wet feet and shining golden wings. 


This is the way of Life when Joy has fled : 
She passes through a wilderness of cloud, 
And, wrapped in music for a mimic shroud, 
She comes unto the dwellings of the Dead. 
No river now, a mournful nymph instead, 
By Joy s short sojourn with a soul endowed, 
She seeks for her among the nameless crowd 
That throng the gateway of the Halls of Dread- 
Seeks for the long lost Joy, the light divine, 
The Paradise that she shall never win- 
Content at last, and glad to enter in 
Despair s abode, and rest with Proserpine, 
Sorrow, whose eyes are dark with unshed tears, 
And all the ghostly company of fears. 


By Eva Gore-Booth 217 


This is the way of Love : a ray of light 
In the mid forest through the foliage shines, 
And makes green shadows of the serried pines, 
Bringing a secret pathway into sight, 
Where two may walk alone in their delight, 
And half in darkness; for the thick set lines 
Of mighty trees their narrow road confines 
With the black limits of enshrouding night. 
Yet has the forest fortress failed in strength, 
Swift windy beams split through the leafy screen, 
And pierce the heavy shroud of waving green, 
Until the narrow pathway feels at length 
The strength of sunshine and the light of rain, 
And broadens out into the open plain. 


This is the road of Hope, that some men call 

The way of Love, far out of human sight, 

Amid strange mansions of austere delight : 

A way of shadows, pale, aethereal, 

High among stars and storm, outsoaring all 

The silent glories of each lonely height, 

Above the tumult of the windy night, 

Beyond the bounds of Heaven s cloudy wall. 

Still God s calm splendour shineth overhead, 

The great white way where light and gladness are 

This is the Joy of earth transfigured, 

Set high in heaven, very faint and far, 

The glorious Highway of the holy Dead, 

The path of Love from star to scattered star. 

Two Pictures 

By D. Y. Cameron 

I. Dieppe Castle 
II. The Butterflies 


By K. Douglas King 


IN his life John Burnett suffered no distinction in any circles 
beyond that immediate one of his acquaintances and friends. He 
was an insignificant man in appearance, in moral force, in intellect, 
and in rank which was that of a navvy. Such fame as was his 
in Eastown-by-Line (the mushroom town wherein he lived, and 
on whose railroads he worked) came solely through his domestic 
troubles. Naturally, the source of these troubles was a woman ; 
his wife, Lucretia Luce, for short. 

So far as looks went there could not have been a worse assorted 
couple than the navvy and his wife. Luce was a splendidly 
formed woman, with straight features, level brows, and a 
penetrating way of looking out of a pair of very handsome eyes j 
but with a screw loose somewhere in the complex machinery of 
her moral being. This was the reason why her mouth, which 
should have been large and generous, to match her eyes, was 
curved to a foolish, little droop, at the corners ; and why her lips, 
when they were not giving vent to absurd and impossible 
aspirations, were pursed up in a thin martyr-shape. 

She had a twin sister, who hardly belongs to this story, but 


224 Lucretia 

who told her once that this martyr-expression completely spoilt her 
natural good looks. Luce did not discontinue to assume it, even 

She was a good workwoman, and had been employed as a 
forewoman in a large dressmaking establishment, before John 
Burnett (as much to his own as to others astonishment) carried 
her off as his wife to Eastown-by-Line. Her married life 
(including the bearing of Burnett s children, the rearing of them, 
and looking after her husband and the house) entailed on her 
sufficient work to keep her mind, as well as body, fully occupied 
from sunrise to midnight. In the pursuance of her wifely and 
motherly duties she allowed her mind to run woefully astray. 
That was the fatal crook in her soul ; and, in consequence, her 
husband s dinners, the home comfort, and the six Burnett children 
(who were a disgrace to their town, so ill-kept were their 
persons) suffered severely. If she had been "born a lady" she 
would have read "advanced" books, and become an "advanced" 
woman. Also, she would have refused the John Burnetts of her 
own station who sought her hand in marriage. She would have 
known she had a higher duty to perform than to marry a mere 
man, and would have acted, generally, according to her convictions 
which were of a subjective nature. 

As she had neither the leisure nor the means wherewith to 
cultivate the abnormal in her soul, she asserted her independent 
womanhood by an intrigue with another man. This other man 
lived alone, in a large, ugly ten-roomed villa, part of whose 
garden wall formed the eastern boundary of the Burnett backyard. 
The navvy lived in the last of a tiny, frail row of four-roomed 
houses, on the outskirts of central Eastown-by-Line. The name 
of their street was Aspect Road, most felicitously named since 
it overlooked a brickfield at its upper end and the gasworks at 


By K. Douglas King 225 

the lower. The new line in course of construction ran, in an 1 
animated streak, between this "view" and Aspect Road, which 
was separated from the railway by a low, sloping bank. The 
Burnett children, from behind their front garden hedge, used to 
throw stones at their father and his mates working on the line, 
so short was the distance from the houses to the railroad. The 
eastern part of the town was composed of villas and small shops, 
and one long, straight avenue, lined with chestnut-trees. There 
were six of these trees on either side of the street, and they were 
the only trees in the town, except two others also chestnuts in 
the other man s garden. From west to east, and from the canal 
on the south to the railroad on the north, the entire town was a 
ghastly blot on the face of the earth. 

Life s ironical ruling ordained that the other man should be the 
assistant superintending engineer of that part of the line on whose 
construction Burnett was engaged. His name was Caldwell, and 
he first saw Luce when she was airing the Burnett linen on 
her little line that stretched across the whole area of her back 

Luce s manner whilst hanging out the clothes, that memorable 
day, was fraught with a mixture of indolence (which was 
characteristic) and impatience, born of intense distaste for the 
work in hand. It received presentment in her languid movements 
and smouldering eyes. She had been at work since five in the 
morning, and it was now six in the evening, and she had still five 
more hours work before her. Of course the woman was tired in 
body and sick in soul. It never entered John Burnett s mind (he 
being a man, and a mediocre one at that) that the commonplace 
drudgery of existence is sheer bondage to the woman who has 
sufficient imagination to realise freedom, but not enough to 
idealise duty ; and whose household tasks, commencing at 


226 Lucretia 

marriage and ending with death, imprison her from dawn to dusk 
within four tiny walls. 

Luce was in a tense state, and only a match was needed to set a 
volcano ablaze. Caldwell watched her as she moved from line to 
basket and back again, her fine eyes alight with unsatisfied 
desire ; her thin lips pouting ; a tired flush on her curved cheeks ; 
her hair falling untidily over her handsome, heavy brow. Watch 
ing her, the assistant superintendent coveted her. 

It was not Caldwell s habit to lose time in advancing towards 
the attainment of his desires. Between the first attack and the 
first conditional surrender, the flame of that desire spread and 
intensified until it became a passion that penetrated to the deepest 
recesses of his being. Luce was in the most dangerous state of 
mind that a woman can possibly be in. She wanted something. 
She did not know what she wanted. Moreover, she did not care 
any longer about the opinions of her little world. This 
recklessness of mood brings shipwreck in its train more surely 
than the most deliberately planned wrongdoing. The first 
advances came from Caldwell. Luce responded to them with 
such doubtful eyes and such a passionately wistful mouth that 
the assistant superintendent, connoisseur as he was in his way, lost 
his head. He recovered it almost immediately ; but then the 
mischief was done. 

Burnett had broad, stunted features, a slouching bearing, deeply 
sunken, almost invisible eyes, a slow-moving intellect, and no social 
or conversational gifts whatever. Caldwell, on the contrary, was 
a fluent talker, and as flashy in intellect as in appearance. His 
prominent lips were shaded by a handsome moustache, and his 
eyes were bold, blue and bright. Also, he was a fine, tall fellow, 
and, without conceit, could lay claim to a knowledge of women 
and their inscrutable ways above that of the average man. This 


By K. Douglas King 227 

was almost as powerful a factor in his success as Luce s own 
unfortunate mood. Such love as she had ever felt for John Burnett 
was already worn thin by interminable toil for him, his house, and 
his children. 

When a woman speaks of her offspring as " his children " one 
of two things is in process. Either she is meditating a desperate 
leap into the dark, or she is digesting the discovery of a new, 
hitherto undreamt-of virtue in her husband. Now Burnett had 
no special virtues whatever ; at least, such as Luce could appre 
ciate. When she began to think of the children as " his children," 
she was already far on the road that leads to dishonour. 

That evening when she hung out her washing, and Caldwell 
had first seen her, was one far advanced in April. It was 
now late in May, and Scandal was very loud and busy up 
Aspect Road. Tremulous-mouthed Lucretia did not care. She 
was living a double existence, and Burnett and the children 
had only the hollow crust of her attentions. After the first 
resistance, Caldwell did not find it difficult to persuade her that 
Desire was Duty differently spelt, and that her present duty was 
to minister to his. A strong man, or a very selfish man, might 
have saved Luce yet. But Burnett was neither strong nor selfish. 
He loved his wife and was fond of his children ; but was as weak 
in the management of one as of the other. 

He submitted to his home discomfort like a lamb, instead of 
roaring like a lion when half-raw or burnt-up food was set before 
him. Of course, this complaisance completed the woman s 
demoralisation ; just as much as his easy-going, indulgent ways 
with his children caused them to develop into veritable demons of 
juvenile wickedness. When he first heard from the neighbours 
idle talk that his wife was going wrong with another man, and 
that man was his own superintendent, he simply did not believe it, 


228 Lucretia 

and went his daily ways without care or perturbation. He loved 
his wife, and he still believed in her honesty, although he was 
aware, at last, after ten years vain delusion, that she was no cook. 

Scandal, as usual, was premature in its assertions. It spoke as 
early as April, while May had passed before Lucretia really fell. 
It was on the third of June that Caldwell had said to her, as she 
stood by her cottage door, shading her lovely, sad, wild eyes from 
the setting sun : " Lucy, are you going to be cruel, still ? " 

The assistant superintendent had just left the line and was 
going to his temporary villa home. His way home always took 
him past Burnett s cottage. For weeks past he had not ceased 
urging the woman to sin ; and last night she had faltered out to 
him, when he upbraided her, bitterly, for her cruel coquetry, that 
" To-morrow perhaps she would do what he wished." 

Against the sunset, his eyes flashing inquiry, reproach, and 
expectation upon her, he appeared as the representation of all 
manly and persuasive power. Luce changed colour, and her eyes 
dropped. Her eldest little daughter, Molly, standing by her side, 
glanced at the man with calm, splendid eyes of cold disfavour. 
She was neither fascinated by his glittering personality nor over 
awed by his position. 

Caldwell struck his foot, impatiently, on the ground. " Well, 
Luce ? " he cried, his eyes burning through her lowered eyelids, 
into her very soul ; his whole attitude a fierce interrogation. 
" Well, Luce ? " 

Mrs. Burnett raised her eyes, quickly. They were unnaturally 
large and bright, and her face was very pale. She nodded, once 
or twice, and then turned round, hastily, and went indoors. 
Caldwell laughed ; a slight flush rose to his cheeks. 

His fiery, amorous eyes, travelling back from the sharply closed 
door, rested, one second, on Molly Burnett, as she continued to 


By K. Douglas King 229 

lean against the gatepost, apparently unconscious of her surround 
ings. Molly detested Caldwell. It was this lovely, dirty, pic 
turesque child who used to set her small brothers and sisters, 
armed with stones and dirt, on the assistant superintendent. Tiny 
arms and the strict necessity of cloaking their tactics by a stout 
hedge made the stones of no effect. Molly had the supreme 
pleasure, once, of seeing a piece of mud, aimed by her with 
feminine precision, stick to the back of his coat. She tried to 
bully her little brother, "Jack Spratt" Burnett, into piping rude 
remarks at him when they used to go down to the line, with the 
other East-town children, to watch operations there. To these 
heroic heights, however, Jack Spratt could not ascend. He had 
the pacific spirit j and when Molly called him a " bloomin sheep," 
neither resented the slur on his manhood with retort nor sought 
to efface it by action. 

Molly s large shining eyes were fixed on the crimson cloudland 
on the northern horizon. She looked inexpressibly lovely. Cald 
well shot a keener glance at her. 

" Good-night, Molly," he called down, to the slim, motionless, 
little figure. 

Mrs. Burnett s nine-year-old daughter stonily turned her eyes 
upon the man. There was a magnificent disdain in their pellucid 
depths. She raised her shoulders ever so slightly ; beyond the 
cold movement and that colder stare she made no response. 

" By Jove ! " muttered Caldwell, genuine admiration leaping 
hotly out of his eyes. " What a lovely woman the hussy will be 
in ten years time ! " 

With a gay laugh, he bent forward, of a sudden, and thrust his 
moustached lips upon Molly s. Although she was taken com 
pletely by surprise, her defensive action was swifter than his 
attack. She ducked, and his mouth barely avoided sharp contact 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. o with 

230 Lucretia 

with the top of the gatepost. The next second Molly had sprung 
up and struck him a resounding blow on the face. 

Man as he was, Caldwell staggered back. Molly s eyes flashed 
fire from the other side of the gate. Her bosom heaved. 

" Well, I m damned ! " gasped Caldwell at last, with a not 
unkindly laugh. " You little vixen ! " 

He did not attempt to repeat the experiment, but applied his 
handkerchief to his cheek, where a red mark showed. Fortunately 
for the dignity of the assistant superintendent s reputation, both 
the thickness of the hedge and the sunset hour, when most of the 
workmen had gone home, had deprived the scene of spectators. 

" Don t you think you can kiss everybody ! " cried Molly, in a 
choked, passionate whisper, over the gate. 

Molly had seen the assistant superintendent kiss her mother 
more than once. This action of his, and her mother s complete 
acquiescence therein, troubled her though she could not have 
told why. It intensified her dislike of Caldwell into a positive 
loathing. She had told Jack Spratt he was to call the assistant 
superintendent a " toad " whenever he passed ; and used to beat 
him when he tearfully refused. 

Caldwell took off his hat, and made Molly a sweeping bow 
before he passed on. 

" In five years, pretty Molly," he said, blandly, " I ll wager you 
won t refuse a man s kiss. You ll be as eager for kisses then, my 
girl, as any of em. They all are, you know, pretty Molly ! 
There s not a petticoated creature made that isn t ! " 

" You re a lie," returned Molly, promptly. " You re a great, 
fat lie ! " 

Caldwell laughed again pleasantly, and turned on his heel. He 
was not angry, now that the first shock of his discomfiture was 
over j even though his cheek was still smartly stinging. When 


By K. Douglas King 231 

he had swung his garden gate to behind him, he had forgotten all 
about his late misadventure. Lucretia s splendid eyes, with their 
vague longing and alternate melancholy and fire, possessed his 
vision. The exultation caused by her promise burned up again in 
his soul. He had made communication both easy and secret 
between the two households j the last barrier was broken down 
between them. 


Burnett s domestic troubles were the common talk of Aspect 
Road. The matrons loudly expressed their disgust with Luce s 
share in the scandal. They reserved an opinion on the super 
intendent s part until the doors were closed. The husbands of 
most were working under Caldwell and his chief. The men on 
the line blamed Burnett for being a fool more than they con 
demned the assistant superintendent, in their hearts, for a knave. 
Though they gossiped freely among themselves, they forbore to 
offer any opinion on the case to Burnett himself. The women 
were not so considerate. Burnett s behaviour in allowing Luce 
(whose guilt was established beyond a doubt) to continue to live 
in his house, as if the sanctity of their marriage tie had never been 
violated, exasperated the women into shrill taunts, which were 
fearlessly and freely hurled at the unfortunate navvy. 

Caldwell was not prepared at first that Lucretia should lire 
entirely in his house ; and Burnett, when the truth of the matter 
was at last borne in upon his stubborn, unreceptive brain, received 
from this fact some sort of faint comfort in the midst of his misery. 
His love for his wife was of unsuspected magnitude, and of a 
magnanimity beyond chivalry. It was not only for the sake of 
the six lovely, dirty little children, who rioted, now without shadow 


232 Lucretia 

of restraint, about the road, that he was still willing to forgive 
Luce, and that he hoped against hope to win her back to him. 

Luce went about her daily duties with little outward change. 
Perhaps there was more of dreamy haphazard in her method of 
work than before Caldwell came to possess her thoughts ; but 
there had been always so much left to Providence in the internal 
ordering of the Burnett household, that a little additional disorder 
was hardly noticeable. She grew to look more like a restless, 
untamed spirit every day. By turns she was passionately attentive 
to the children and completely neglectful of them. But her 
manner with them was always kind. Burnett, swayed by the 
twin spirits of his steadfast hope and his great affection, met her 
indifference to him with a phlegm that concealed, almost too 
successfully, the deadly wound her conduct was inflicting. 

It was on June the third that Luce gave her fatal promise. 
The month of roses was drawing to an end before the navvy spoke 
to his wife of what lay up heavily on the hearts of each. Mrs. 
Burnett was lazily stirring porridge for the children s supper 
before the kitchen fire. Burnett had come in from work on the 
line two hours before. Ever since his entrance he had been 
watching her flitting dreamily to and fro he moodily sitting in a 
corner, no word, good or bad, passing between the pair. It had 
been pay night, and it was one of the assistant superintendent s 
duties to pay the men their weekly wage. Burnett, whose innate 
sensitiveness was largely increased by the suspense and anguish of 
the last month, fancied Caldwell shot a look of triumph on him as 
he went up to receive his money at the superintendent s hand. 
AJ, a matter of fact, Caldwell had done nothing of the sort. He 
hardly knew Burnett by sight, and he certainly did not wish to 
provoke Lucretia s husband into any manifestation of anger before 
the other men. 


By K. Douglas King 233 

That fancied look, rankling in his heart, impelled the navvy at 
last to speak. But what he did and what he said were very 
different from that which he had intended to do or say. 

" Oh, Luce, dear," he began, moving quickly forward and 
throwing his arms round the woman. " Oh, my dear, dear wife ! 
Do come back to me, an be as you was before this trouble 
began ! " 

Lucretia was thoroughly taken aback by this impetuous appeal, 
and by the violent exhibition of his feelings. The next minute, 
however, she rallied her forces, and slipped from his embrace. 
Turning, she faced him, with heightened colour and sparkling 
eyes. She held the spoon that she had hastily withdrawn from 
the saucepan when he had first seized her, and porridge dropped 
from it unheeded in great splashes on the floor. 

" I I haven t left you ! " she cried, defiantly, the scarlet spot 
deepening in her cheeks. "And so how can I come back, 
pray ? 

She cast a triumphant look on him, as if to ask how he thought 
he was going to answer that unanswerable question. Burnett s 
eyes were fixed on the largest porridge splash at his feet, and he 
only sighed heavily. 

There was a short pause. Then Burnett in a hurried, stifled, 
voice : 

" Tis true for all the same ! " 

" What s true ? " asked the woman, with a toss of her head, 
and another flash of her eyes. 

" What they re sayin o ye an an that feller Caldwell," 
mumbled her husband. A savage glow lit up his downcast eyes 
one minute ; the next, all the light was out, and they reassumed 
their normal dulness of appearance. 

Mrs. Burnett made no reply, but resumed operations in her 


234 Lucretia 

porridge saucepan. The spoon clattered loudly against its metal 
sides, and Luce s hand trembled. Burnett shifted from one foot 
to the other. At last he burst out into speech again. 

" I ve never ill-treated ye, nor come home boozy, nor knocked 
the children about," said the navvy. " Ye ve had my weekly 
wages reg lar an full always ! and I ve let ye go yer own way in 
the ouse an never put in my oar in nothink, but let ye ave yer 
own way in everythink," he repeated, doggedly. " An I can t 
think " he choked " I can t think why ye re treatin me 
so ! " 

Mrs. Burnett poured out porridge into six chipped plates. Her 
hands were shaking, and some of the scalding stuff splashed on to 
them. She bit her lips and spoke never a word. 

" Lucy ! " 

She started ; Burnett s voice was so soft and tremulous, and 
full of pleading love. Since the early days of their marriage, ten 
years ago, he had not called her anything but Luce. Now 
another man called her Lucy, whose voice was like music to her 
weary soul. 

"Lucy," said Burnett, huskily, "oh, my girl, do come back, 
an an love me as you used ! " 

As his sad voice died away there came from without the sound 
of many little footsteps and voices. A look of extreme relief 
passed over the woman s face. The Burnett children, in spite of 
the irregular ways of the household, showed a remarkable genius 
for coming up to time, so far as the hours of the meals were con 
cerned. The difficulty often was that they were ready for the 
meal before it was ready for them. Burnett slunk back to his 
corner at sound of their approach ; something like despair flitted 
across his stubbly, inexpressive face. 

" You you don t understand me ! " cried Mrs. Burnett, 


By K. Douglas King 235 

hurriedly, over her shoulder, as her husband moved heavily away. 
There was the suspicion of a sob in her voice. " You never have 
understood me never ! And talking of ill-treatment and all 
that shows you don t and can t understand me ! " 

Burnett showed a face of blank, mystified despair at the eternal 
feminine wail. It was as incomprehensible to him as if it had 
been uttered in a foreign language of which he was entirely 
ignorant. It was the navvy s loss that Caldwell understood it as 
completely as man ever can. 

The day after Burnett ventured his appeal, a momentous thing 
happened. It occurred at noon, and was nothing less than the 
breathless descent on the Burnett fold of Mrs. Burnett s twin 

Mrs. Burnett s sister was also a wife of ten years experience ; 
but she was not a mother. It was her one bitter sorrow. 
Tidings of the Burnett-Caldwell scandal had reached her in 
her little Northamptonshire village, and her unexpected visit was 
the result. It occurred at the midday dinner hour, which, strange 
to say, was up to time that day. The Burnett flock were des 
patching slabs of suet pudding and treacle, carved and ladled out 
by Mrs. Burnett, at the kitchen dresser, when the cloaked and 
bonnetted apparition, omitting the formality of knocking, appeared 
in the doorway. Burnett was eating a solitary dinner on the 
bank overlooking the line in course of construction. 

"Annie!" cried Mrs. Burnett. She fell back a step; her 
face, dyed suddenly scarlet at sight of her visitor, rapidly changed 
to a deadly pallor. 

" Luce," said the other woman. 

" Not before the children ! " cried Lucretia, putting out her 
hands, as if warding off a blow. " Oh, not a word before the 
children, Annie ! " she cried, passionately. 


236 Lucretia 

The other woman had Lucretia s splendid, slightly scornful 
eyes. Molly had her aunt s large, full mouth. 

" I wasn t goin to say a word," returned Annie ; her sad lips 
trembled. " Tisn t no use ; I knew that afore I came. I know 
you, Luce ! No ! an I won t sit down an eat anythink, Luce ; 
I ve a back train to catch, an time s short. I came to ask, Luce, 
if " 

She faltered here, and changed colour. Lucretia bit her lips. 

Well," she said, sullenly, " if what ? " 

" I came to ask if I could take the children home with me for 
a spell, Luce," said her sister, softly. 

An indescribable tumult took possession of Lucretia s soul. 
Many conflicting voices clamoured for a hearing. Luce, con 
founded, taken by surprise, and dismayed to death at heart, listened, 
with difficulty, to the loudest and most importunate. 

" Yes," she said, heavily, at last ; " you can, if you like." 

Mrs. Burnett s sister had come, primed with the best intention 
in the world. She had not for a moment expected that her de 
liberately planned request would be granted. When Luce mut 
tered out her slow " Yes," she was amazed, but not dismayed. 
She thought she was acting for the best in removing the Burnett 
children from the immediate scene of their mother s sin ; but the 
wisdom of her act may be questioned. In less than half an hour 
the entire flock was ready to start, baggage, such as it was, and 

The parting was brief, and without undue expression of senti 
ment. The eleven months old baby was asleep when it changed 
hands. The childless woman received it with a most motherly, 
caressing movement ; Luce s face was hard and rigid. The 
younger children were jubilant at the thought of the journey, but 
cried at having to leave their home, as they went down the little 


By K. Douglas King 237 

garden path into the road. Jack Spratt neither cried nor laughed. 
He was awed by Molly s proud, pale face. 

" Leave me her," whispered Lucretia, with a little catch of 
her breath, and nodding, feverishly, in the direction of her eldest 
daughter, now occupied in nursing the youngest boy but one. 

" God s sake not her out of any of em ! " cried back Molly s 
aunt, in a fierce, incoherent undertone ; and Molly was swept off 
in the general exodus. 

Mrs. Burnett watched them as they went down the dusty road. 
Molly carried the youngest baby, and her aunt had her late burden, 
a sturdy two-year-old. The two younger girls clasped hands, 
and walked demurely in front of the hen-in-charge. Jack Spratt 
walked alone, a few paces in front, as became the man of the 
party. Mrs. Burnett watched them, with dry eyes and burning 
eyeballs, until they were out of sight. Then she went indoors, 
and fell into a chair, sobbing and weeping, till her emotions 
seemed as if they would tear her thin frame asunder. 

" Oh, if she had only left me Molly ! " she moaned, in the 
intervals of her heavy sobbing. "If she had only left me my 
pretty Molly my pretty, pretty girl ! " 

She had not recovered herself till four o clock chimed out, 
unevenly, from the dilapidated kitchen clock. At that moment 
a man s footstep was heard to approach from without ; and a 
man s voice called her name, softly, through the half-opened 

He called her Lucy, and Mrs. Burnett leaped to her feet, and 
with a little, strangled cry, threw herself upon his breast. His 
arms met tightly round her, and he held her thus pressed to him, 
for a minute, without speaking. He could see her nerves were 
shattered, and that she was in a more desperate state even than 
when she had given him her first promise. "Oh, they re taken 


238 Lucretia 

away my children, Jamie ! " she sobbed out, at last. " Take me 
home with you ! don t leave me here in my empty home, Jamie ! 
I can t bear it ! " 

Caldwell held her closer to him. He had come, fearing for 
once a possible refusal, on purpose to ask her that to which her own 
beseeching words to him now gave the affirmatory answer. 

Five minutes later Luce left her home on his arm. " I ll take 
you right away from this one-horse place, Lucy," Caldwell said 
to her, as they went out. " My work is done here, with the 
doing of the line s." 

He referred to the completion of the line, the last detail of 
whose construction would be an accomplished fact by sunset. 
With the running of the first train, thereon, on the morrow, 
Caldwell s duties, as assistant superintendent of the men at work 
on it, would be over. 

" I ll belong to you now, Jamie, for ever and ever," Lucretia 
whispered up to him, as they gained his front door. She did not 
mind now if all the world saw her enter Caldwell s house. 
" They ve taken my children away, and I ll only belong to you 
now, for ever and ever, Jamie," she repeated, as he led her into 
her new home. He bent and kissed her quivering lips. 

When Burnett was going home that night, a neighbour, 
overflowing with news, darted out, from the next house. She 
had been waiting three hours for his advent, although she knew 
he could not be due in Aspect Road till past six. She was 
consumed with fear lest another neighbour should tell him the 
news before she had the chance. 

She followed Burnett up his garden plot, in order to drive the 
bits of information deeper down into his dull, clouded brain. 

"Their aunt came, Burnett, sure as I m a livin woman, and 
took em all away the baby an that limb, Molly, herself!" 


By K. Douglas King 239 

reiterated the shrill-voiced informant. " How you stare, man ! 
I tell you they re gone, the whole lot o them ; at half-past one 
they went past our windys, and says I, Lawks, that s Burnett s 
lot ! " 

Burnett turned on his threshold and faced her with working 
jaws. She was not overcome at sight of his distress. Her mind 
flew off on a fresh tangent. 

"An Caldwell took her off, Burnett," went on the shrill tale 
bearer. " In bare daylight, as bold as brass, she went off on his 
arm ! these eyes o mine saw it ! twas like a theayter piece ! and 
thinks I, oh, that poor soul, Burnett, who 

The navvy waved her back, and she retired, somewhat awed at 
last, by his expression and his speechlessness. Burnett entered his 
empty home. 

" I don t believe her," he muttered, staring vacantly around. 
" It s a damned lie ! " 

Nevertheless, the rooms were empty of wife, of children, and 
of children s clothes and broken toys. Burnett fell to thinking 
that perhaps the neighbour had not lied, after all. 

A headless rag doll, lying under a chair, caught his eye. He 
remembered, with the first thrill of pain, recognised as such, that 
he had left his baby sucking it, contentedly, in its cradle when he 
went out that morning to put the finishing touches to the line. 
He stooped and picked it up, and stood, stroking it, mechanically, 
with his grimy hand. Burnett had not an ounce of sentiment 
about him, though he had a greater capacity for affection than 
Luce had ever discovered. After a while he ceased stroking the 
headless doll, and put it in his breast-pocket. He was not an 
heroic figure, in his far from clean working suit, and with his 
broad, undeveloped features and stubbly hair and beard ; but, as 
Jie awkwardly shovelled the rag doll to his breast, his lower lip 


240 Lucretia 

trembling the while, he seemed to be invested with a pathetic 
majesty that was far above any physical grandeur. 

"The childern s gone," thought Burnett, rousing himself with 
a heavy sigh. "But their aunt ull take care of em till till the 
home s ready for em ag in." 

He went out, swiftly closing the door behind him. Twilight 
was falling, and a sense of great loneliness caught him for the first 
time, as if two hands had clutched him by the throat. He 
wheeled sharply towards Caldweli s house. 

"She must come back if she thinks o the childern, and knows 
I m mor n willing to have her back ag in," he said to himself with 
a tearless sob. " She must do that ! " 

A bell hung to his hand by Caldweli s front door, and he pulled 
it. Though he was quite calm and composed to all outward 
appearances, he was, in reality, labouring under a violent excite 
ment that made him feel sick and giddy. There was no response 
of any kind to his ring, and his eye caught the knocker on the 
door. He wondered, dully, why he had not seen it before, and 
struck it loudly several times on the metal plate. 

There was a dreadful silence. Burnett s throat contracted. 
Then there came the sound of footsteps, and Caldwell himself 
threw the door open. He did not recognise his visitor at first, 
and met him with an impatient exclamation. 

Burnett moved doggedly forward over the threshold, and a 
hanging lamp in the hall revealed his identity. Caldwell gave 
vent to a little low whistle of astonishment. 

" I I want to see my wife," stammered the navvy. He found 
it difficult to speak, owing to the dry condition of his lips. As 
Caldwell continued to preserve silence, he cried again, striking 
his nailed boot sharply on the hall floor, " I tell you 1 want to see 
the woman who s my wife ! " 


By K. Douglas King 241 

"Oh, come in, come in," said the assistant superintendent, 
blandly. " Only no violence before the lady, you know, and no 

"I m not such a fool as to threaten," cried out Burnett, 
shaking from head to foot in his violent excitement. " I know 
I m a fool and can t understand women like her," he added, 
bitterly. "But I m not such a fool as to threaten her or any 
woman ! " 

"Oh, come in," repeated Caldwell, opening a door at the end 
of the passage. He passed in himself, and Burnett followed 
heavily. Lucretia was within ; she had heard voices and had 
risen. As Caldwell entered she ran to him and clasped his arm. 
Burnett faced them. 

" Well," said Caldwell, at last, breaking a momentous silence. 
" Here is the lady you wanted to see. Say what you have to say, 
please, and have done with it. We are particularly engaged to 

The outrageous nature of this last remark was apparently lost 
upon the navvy. He-was looking at Lucretia intently. He had 
never ceased looking at her since he had entered the room. 
Lucretia looked only at her lover. 

Suddenly Burnett ran forward with extended arms. "Oh, my 
lass ! " he cried ; " my dear, own lass ! come home with me 
again, an we ll forget all this ! Come home with me, Lucy ! 
come home, my poor dear ! Oh, do come home ! " 

Two scalding tears slowly trickled down the navvy s weather- 
beaten cheeks. Lucretia shot a glance towards him. There was 
no relenting in her eyes. 

" You see she won t come," began Caldwell, lightly, after 
another pause. " She doesn t want " 

"Let her speak herself," broke in Burnett, hoarsely. "You ve 


242 Lucretia 

spoke too much for her, as well as to her, damn you ! Now 
don t interfere now between man and wife ! " 

" Don t you coerce her," retorted Caldwell, blandly. " She 
knows her own mind, I should hope ! If she doesn t want to 
come back to you, she doesn t ! " 

"Well, let her speak for herself, for God Almighty s sake," 
cried Burnett. "An don t put your words into her mouth." 

" Answer him, dear," said Caldwell, turning his face towards 
Lucretia. "And in your own words, as your heart dictates. 
Choose, Lucy ! will you have him or me ? " 

" Oh ! Jamie, Jamie ! " 

" You see," said Caldwell, holding Lucretia to his heart, as he 
faced the speechless man, a few paces in front of him. "She 
chooses me." 

Burnett s mouth opened and shut. He said nothing. 

"She made a mistake when she married you," said Caldwell, 
coolly. "She found it out when she saw me, and now she s 
rectifying it. It s quite natural, you know, and an event of every 
day occurrence." 

" I don t know about no ev ry day Vents," sobbed the navvy. 
"But I know you ve broke my heart, an I hope you ll burn in 
hell fires ! " 

Lucretia s flaming face looked up above Caldwell s caressing 

" And if he does," she cried back, " by God Almighty, John 
Burnett ! I ll burn with him too ! " 

Her fierce, adoring eyes devoured her lover s face. Caldwell 
bent his head till his lips met hers. 

Burnett heard their kiss as he went heavily out. 

He crossed the threshold and drew the door sharply to 
behind him. Then he turned, swiftly, impulsively. Lucretia s 


By K. Douglas King 243 

name choked in his throat. The hard, unyielding door reminded 
him of the futility of his effort, and he laughed, mocking, in his 
anguish, his own bitter mistake. There was no moon ; the 
twilight had passed, leaving the darker night behind. A tear 
stood out on his worn, whitened cheeks and his teeth clenched 
on a sob, when he lifted the latch of his house door and passed 
into his dishonoured home. 

" The childern s gone, too," he said again, gazing round the 
empty room, in dreary, vacant misery. "But this aunt 11 bring 
em back ag in some day, when Molly s grown more handylike, to 
shift for me an* the little uns alone. An I ll stay on ere till they 
comes. I ll not go too. An p raps p raps she ll come back 
too, some day. . . ." 

He stumbled, slowly and awkwardly, up and down his kitchen, 
painfully working out his scheme of the future in his dull, heavy 
brain. " I don t understand her," he muttered, again, his future 
revolving round his wife as its sole, eternal pivot. He had not 
yet realised that Lucretia was lost to him for ever. " I don t 
understand her," he groaned, " nor any woman ; but p raps she ll 
grow tired and ave no place to lay her tired ead in my poor 
lass ! an p raps she ll remember our only home we ever ad 
together, she an me, an so^p raps she ll come back to it at last. 
If I goes on livin ere, same as ever, p raps she ll come back at 

Dawn broke over the grey wilderness of slate roofs, over the 
railroad, where it circled round the eastern suburb of the town, 
over the dreary brickfields. 

"I ll light a fire, so as she ll see there s no change ere," 
thought Burnett, setting, awkwardly enough, to his unwonted 
task. A fitful eagerness flashed over his stolid face. 

There was a slight breeze from the west. The pale, twisted 


244 Lucretia 

smoke column from Burnett s chimney overtook the larger 
volume that was gaily spouting from the big chimney on the 
assistant superintendent s house. Both were mingled together as 
they were blown, eastwards, over the town. At his usual time 
Burnett went down to his work on the line. 

"If so be as she gives a thought to to what she s left be ind," 
he thought, "she ll see me goin an think I m the same as usual. 
Twili make er comin back the easier." 

He clung to the one remaining hope that Lucretia s faithlessness 
had not uprooted and cast out of his life. Without that anchor 
to his miserable soul he would have been like a ship adrift on an 
open sea, and shipwreck would speedily have followed. Contrary 
to habit, he went home at midday, to eat his dinner in his own 

" Twill seem more more homelike," he thought. " An 
twill be another chanst for er to see I m not meanin to leave my 

The long, hot afternoon of toil dragged to a weary close on the 

Burnett sat by his cottage door, staring, steadily, across the 
railroad. The sun went slowly down beyond the deserted 
brickfields ; the twilight drew closer around him, and shut him 
in, alone. A board with "To Let" written across it, in bright 
black letters had been set up above the fence in front of the 
assistant superintendent s late home, since midday. 

" But she ll come back some day," thought Burnett. His dry, 
miserable eyes looked, blankly, into the growing darkness. " She 
must she must do that ! She must know she looked at my 
chimney as she ... as she went . . . an she must know how I 
love her. . . ." 

Night fell slowly over the town. 

The Serjeant-at-Law 

By Francis Watt 

You have no doubt, at some time or other, walked through 
the Royal Courts of Justice and admired the judges in their 
scarlet or other bravery. One odd little detail may have caught 
your eye : the wigs of three seniors are differenced from those 
of their brethren by a black patch on the top. It signifies that 
the wearers are serjeants-at-law, and when the last of them goes 
to return no more, with him, it seems, will vanish the Order of 
the Coif. Verily, it will be the " end o an auld sang," of a 
record stretching back to the beginning of English jurisprudence, 
of an order whose passing had at one time seemed the passing ot 
the law itself. Here, in bare outline, I set forth its ancient and 
famous history. And, first, as to the name. Under the feudal 
system land was held from the Crown upon various tenures. 
Sometimes special services were required from the holders ; these 
were called Serjeants, and the tenure was said to be by serjeanty. 
Special services, though usually military, now and again had to 
do with the administration of justice. A man enjoyed his plot 
because he was coroner, keeper of the peace, summoner, or what 
not ; and, over and above the land, he had the fees of the office. 
A few offices, chiefly legal, came to have no land attached were 
only paid in fees. Such a business was a serjeanty in gross, or at 
The Yellow Book Vol. X. p large, 

246 The Serjeant-at-Law 

large, as one might say. Again, after the Conquest, whilst the 
records of our law courts were Latin, the spoken language was 
Norman-French a fearful and wondrous tongue that grew to 
be ; " as ill an hearing in the mouth as law-French," says Milton 
scornfully, and indeed Babel had scarce matched it. But from 
the first it must have been a sore vexation to the thick-witted 
Saxon haled before the tribunal of his conqueror. He needs 
must employ a counter^ or man skilled in the conte^ as the plead 
ing was called. The business was a lucrative one, so the 
Crown assumed the right of regulation and appointment. It was 
held for a serjeanty in gross, and its holders were servientes regis 
ad legem. The word regis was soon omitted except as regards 
those specially retained for the royal service. The literal trans 
lation of the other words is serjeants-at-law, still the designation 
of the surviving fellows of the order. The serjeant-at-law was 
appointed, or in form at least, commanded to take office by writ 
under the Great Seal. He was courteously addressed as " you," 
whilst the sheriff was commonly plain " thou " or " thee." The 
King s or Queen s Serjeants were appointed by letters patent; and 
though this official is extinct as the dodo he is mentioned after the 
Queen s Attorney-General as public prosecutor in the proclamation 
still mumbled at the opening of Courts like the Old Bailey. 

Now, in early Norman times the aula regii, or Supreme Court, 
was simply the king acting as judge with the assistance of his 
great officers of state. In time there developed therefrom among 
much else the three old common law courts ; whereof the 
Common Pleas settled the disputes of subjects, the King s Bench 
suits concerning the king and the realm, the Exchequer revenue 
matters. Though the two last by means of quaint fictions 
afterwards acquired a share of private litigation, yet such was 
more properly for the Court of Common Pleas. It was peculiarly 


By Francis Watt 247 

the Serjeants court, and for many centuries, up to fifty years ago, 
they had the right to exclusive audience. Until the Judicature 
Acts they were the body of men next to the judges, each being 
addressed from the bench as brother, and from them the judges 
must be chosen ; also until 1850 the assizes must be held before a 
judge or a serjeant of the coif. 

A clause in Magna Charta provided that the Common Pleas 
should not follow the king s wanderings but sit in a fixed place ; 
this " fixed place " came to be near the great door of the Hall at 
Westminster. When the wind was in the north, the spot was 
cold and draughty, so after the Restoration some daring innovator 
proposed "to let it (the Court) in through the wall into a back 
room which they called the treasury." Sir Orlando Bridgeman, 
the chief justice, would on no account hear of this. It was a 
flagrant violation of Magna Charta to move it an inch. Might 
not, he darkly hinted, all its writs be thus rendered null and void ? 
Was legal pedantry ever carried further ? one wonders. In a 
later age the change was made without comment, and in our own 
time the Common Pleas itself has gone to the lumber-room. No 
doubt this early fixing of the Court helped to develop a bar 
attendant on it. Other species of practitioners, barristers, attorneys, 
solicitors in time arose, and the appointment of Queen s Counsel, 
of whom Lord Bacon was the earliest, struck the first real blow 
at the Order of the Coif, but the detail of such things is not for 
this page. In later days every serjeant was a more fully developed 
barrister, and then and now, as is well known, every barrister 
must belong to one of the four Inns of Court the two temples, 
Gray s Inn and Lincoln s Inn to wit, whose history cannot be 
told here ; suffice it to say they were voluntary associations of 
lawyers, which gradually acquired the right of calling to the bar 
those who wished to practise. 


248 The Serjeant-at-Law 

Now the method of appointment of Serjeants was as follows : 
The judges, headed by the chief justice of the Common Pleas, 
picked out certain eminent barristers as worthy of the dignity, 
their names were given in to the Lord Chancellor, and in due 
time each had his writ whereof he formally gave his Inn notice. 
His House entertained him at a public breakfast, presented him 
with a gold or silver net purse with ten guineas or so as a retain 
ing fee, the chapel bell was tolled, and he was solemnly rung out 
of the bounds. On the day of his call he was harangued (often at 
preposterous length) by the chief justice of the King s Bench, he 
knelt down, and the white coif of the order was fitted on his head ^ 
he went in procession to Westminster and "counted " in a real 
action in the Court of Common Pleas. For centuries he did so 
in law-French. Lord Hardwicke was the first serjeant who 
"counted" in English. The new-comer was admitted a member 
of Serjeants Inn, in Chancery Lane, in ancient times called 
Farringdon Inn, whereof all the members were Serjeants. Here 
they dined together on the first and last days of term : their 
clerks also dined in hall, though at a separate table a survival, no 
doubt, from the days when the retainer feasted, albeit " below the 
salt," with his master. Dinner done and the napery removed, 
the board of green cloth was constituted, and under the presidency 
of the chief judge the business of the House was transacted. 
There was a second Serjeants Inn in Fleet Street, but in 1758 its 
members joined the older institution in Chancery Lane. When 
the Judicature Acts practically abolished the order, the Inn was 
sold and its property divided among the members, a scandalous 
proceeding and poor result of " the wisdom of an heep of lernede 
men ! " 

The Serjeant s feast on his appointment was a magnificent affair, 
instar corcnationis,as Fortescue has it. In old times it lasted seven 


By Francis Watt 249 

days , one of the largest palaces in the metropolis was selected, 
and kings and queens graced its quaint ceremonial. Stow 
chronicles one such celebration at the call of eleven Serjeants in 
1531. There were consumed "twenty- four great beefes, one 
hundred fat muttons, fifty-one great veales, thirty-four porkes," 
not to mention the swans, the larkes, the " capons of Kent," the 
" carcase of an ox from the shambles," and so forth. One fancies 
these solids were washed down by potations proportionately long 
and deep. And there were other attractions and other expenses. 
At the feast in October 1552, " a standing dish of wax represent 
ing the Court of Common Pleas " was the admiration of the 
guests ; again, a year or two later, it is noted that each serjeant 
was attended by three gentlemen selected by him from among the 
members of his own Inn to act as his sewer, his carver, and his 
cup-bearer. These Gargantuan banquets must have proved a 
sore burden : they were cut down to one day, and, on the union 
of the Inns in 1758, given up as unsuited to the newer time. 

One expense remained. Serjeants on their call must give gold 
rings to the sovereign, the lord chancellor, the judges, and many 
others. From about the time of Elizabeth mottoes or " posies " 
were engraved thereon. Sometimes each serjeant had his own 
device, more commonly the whole call adopted the same motto, 
which was usually a compliment to the reigning monarch or an 
allusion to some public event. Thus, after the Restoration the 
words ran : Adeste Carolus Magnus. With a good deal of elision 
and twisting the Roman numerals for 1660 were extracted from 
this, to the huge delight of the learned triflers. Imperlum et 
libertas was the word for 1700, and plus quam speravlmus that of 
1714, which was as neat as any. The rings were presented to 
the judges by the Serjeant s " colt," as the barrister attendant on 
him through the ceremony was called (probably from colt, an 

apprentice) ; 

250 The Serjeant-at-Law 

apprentice) ; he also had a ring. In the ninth of Geo. II. the 
fourteen new Serjeants gave as of duty 1409 rings, valued at 
,773- That call cost each serjeant nearly ^200. This ring- 
giving continued to the end ; another custom, that of giving 
liveries to relatives and friends, was discontinued in 1759. 

In mediaeval times the new Serjeants went in procession to 
St. Paul s, and worshipped at the shrine of Thomas a Becket ; then 
to each was allotted a pillar so that his clients might know where 
to find him. The Reformation put a summary end to the wor 
ship of St. Thomas, but the formality of the pillar lingered on till 
Old St. Paul s and Old London blazed in the Great Fire of 1666. 
The mediaeval lawyer lives for us to-day in Chaucer s famous 
picture : 

"A Sergeant of Lawe, war and wys, 
That often hadde ben atte parvys, 
Ther was also, ful riche of excellence. 
Discret he was, and of great reverence : 
He semede such, his wordes weren so wise, 
Justice he was ful often in assise, 
By patente, and by pleyn commissioun ; 
For his science, and for his heih renoun, 
Of fees and robes hadde he many oon. 
So gret a purchasour was nowher noon. 
Al was fee symple to him in effecte, 
His purchasyng mighte nought ben enfecte. 
Nowher so besy a man as he ther nas, 
And yit he seemede besier than he was. 
In termes hadde he caas and domes alle ; 
That fro the tyme of kyng William were falle. 
Therto he couthe endite, and make a thing, 
Ther couthe no wight pynche at his writyng ; 
And every statute couthe he pleyn by roote. 


By Francis Watt 251 

He rood but hoomly in a medle coote, 
Gird with a seynt of silk, with barres smale ; 
Of his array telle I no lenger tale." 

How lifelike that touch of the fussy man, who " seemede besier 
than he was ! " But each line might serve as text for a long dis 
sertation ! The old court hours were early : the judges sat from 
eight till eleven, when your busy serjeant would, after bolting his 
dinner, hie him to his pillar where he would hear his client s 
story, " and take notes thereof upon his knee." The parvys or 
pervyse of Paul s properly, only the church door had come to 
mean the nave of the cathedral, called also " Paul s Walk," or 
"Duke Humphrey s Walk," from the supposed tomb of Duke 
Humphrey that stood there. In Tudor times it was the great 
lounge and common newsroom of London. Here the needy ad 
venturer " dined with Duke Humphrey," as the quaint euphemism 
ran ; here spies garnered in the popular opinion for the authorities. 
It was the very place for the lawyer to meet his client, yet had he 
other resorts : the round of the Temple Church and Westminster 
are noted as in use for consultations. 

Chaucer s serjeant " rood but hoomly " because he was travel 
ling ; in court he had a long priest-like robe, with a furred cape 
about his shoulders and a scarlet hood. The gowns were various, 
and sometimes parti-coloured. Thus in 1555 we find each new 
serjeant possessed of one robe of scarlet, one of violet, one of 
brown and blue, one of mustard and murrey, with tabards (short 
sleeveless coats) of cloths of the same colours. The cape was 
edged, first with lambskin, afterwards with more precious stuff. 
In Langland s Vision of Piers Plowman (1362) there is mention 
of this dress of the Serjeants, they are jibed at for their love of 
fees and so forth, after a fashion that is not yet extinct ! But 
the distinctive feature in the dress was the coif, a close-fitting head 


252 The Serjeant- at- Law 

covering made of white lawn or silk. A badge of honour, it was 
worn on all professional occasions, nor was it doffed even in the 
king s presence. In monumentnl effigies it is ever clearly shown. 
When a serjeant resigned his dignity he was formally discharged 
from the obligation of wearing it. To discuss its exact origin 
were fruitless, yet one ingenious if mistaken conjecture may be 
noticed. Our first lawyers were churchmen, but in 1217 these 
were finally debarred from general practice in the courts. Many 
were unwilling to abandon so lucrative a calling, but what about 
the tonsure ? " They were for decency and comeliness allowed 
to cover their bald pates with a coif, which has been ever since 
retained." Thus the learned Serjeant Wynne in his tract on the 
antiquity and dignity of the order (1765). In Tudor times, if 
not before, fashion required the serjeant to wear a small skull-cap 
of black silk or velvet on the top of the coif. This is very clearly 
shown in one of Lord Coke s portraits. Under Charles II. 
lawyers, like other folk, began to wear wigs, the higher they were 
the bigger their perukes. It was wittily said that bench and bar 
went into mourning on Queen Anne s death, and so remained, 
since their present dress is that then adopted. Serjeants were un 
willing to lose sight of their coifs altogether, and it was suggested 
on the wig by a round patch of black and white, representing the 
white coif and the cap which had covered it. The limp cap of 
black cloth known as the " black cap " which the judge assumes 
when about to pass sentence of death was, it seems, put on to veil 
the coif, and as a sign of sorrow. It was also carried in the hand 
when attending divine service, and was possibly assumed in pre- 
Reformation times when prayers were said for the dead. 

A few words will tell of the fall of the order. As far back as 
1755 Sir John Willis, chief justice of the Common Pleas, pro 
posed to throw open that Court as well as the office of judge to 


By Francis Watt 253 

barristers who were not Serjeants, but the suggestion came to 
nothing. In 1834, the bill for the establishment of a Central 
Criminal Court contained a clause to open the Common Pleas ; 
this was dropped, but the same object was attained by a royal 
warrant, 25th April 1834. The legality of this was soon 
questioned and, after solemn argument before the Privy Council, 
it was declared invalid. In 1846 a statute (the 9 & 10 Viet. 
c. 54) to the same effect settled the matter, and the Judicature Act 
of 1873 provided that no judge need in future be a serjeant. On 
the dissolution of Serjeants Inn its members were received back 
into the Houses whence they had come. 

As for centuries all the judges were Serjeants, the history of the 
order is that of the bench and bar of England ; yet some famous 
men rose no higher, or for one reason or other became representa 
tive members. Such a one was Sir John Maynard (1602-1690). 
In his last years William III. commented on his venerable appear 
ance : " He must have outlived all the lawyers of his time." " If 
your Highness had not come I should have outlived the law itself," 
was the old man s happy compliment. Pleading in a Chancery 
case, he remarked that he had been counsel in the same case half 
a century before j he had steered a middle course in those troubled 
times, but he had leant to the side of freedom against King 
and Protector alike. His share in the impeachment of Stafford 
procured him a jibe in Butler s Hudibras^ yet it was said that 
all parties seemed willing to employ him, and that he seemed 
willing to be employed by all. Jeffreys, who usually deferred to 
him, once blustered out, " You are so old as to forget your law, 
Brother Maynard." "True, Sir George, I have forgotten more 
law than ever you knew," was the crushing retort. Macaulay 
has justly praised his conduct at the Revolution for that he urged 
his party to disregard legal technicalities and adopt new methods 


254 The Serjeant-at-Law 

for new and unheard-of circumstances. Edmund Plowden (1518 
1585) deserves at least equally high praise. He was so determined 
a student that " for three years he went not once out of the 
Temple." He is said to have refused the chancellorship offered 
him by Elizabeth as he would not desert the old faith. He was 
attacked again and again for nonconformity, but his profound 
knowledge of legal technicalities enabled him on each occasion to 
escape the net spread for him. He was an Englishman loyal to 
the core, and, Catholic as he was, opposed in 1555 the violent 
proceedings of Queen Mary s parliament. The attorney-general 
filed a bill against him for contempt, but " Mr. Plowden traversed 
fully, and the matter was never decided." "A traverse full of 
pregnancy," is Lord Coke s enthusiastic comment. On his death 
in 1585 they buried him in that Temple Church whose soil 
must have seemed twice sacred to this oracle of the law. An 
alabaster monument whereon his effigy reposes remains to this 
day. A less distinguished contemporary was William Bendloes 
(1516-1584), Old Bendloes men called him. A quaint legend 
reports him the only Serjeant at the Common Pleas bar in the 
first year of Elizabeth s reign. Whether there was no business, 
or merely half-guinea motions of course, or the one man argued 
on both sides, or whether the whole story be a fabrication, tis scarce 
worth while to inquire. 

I pass to more modern times. William Davy was made serjeant- 
at-law in 1754. His wit combats with Lord Mansfield are still 
remembered. His lordship was credited with a desire to sit on 
Good Friday ; our serjeant hinted that he would be the first 
judge that had done so since Pontius Pilate ! Mansfield scouted 
one of Davy s legal propositions. " If that be law I must 
burn all my books." " Better read them first," was tne quiet 


By Francis Watt 255 

In recent days two of the best known Serjeants were Parry and 
Ballantine, the first a profound lawyer, the second a great advocate, 
but both are vanished from the scene. Three Serjeants yet 
remain : Lord Esher (Master of the Rolls), Lord Justice Lindley, 
and Mr. Baron Pollock. 

The Five Sweet Symphonies 

By Nellie Syrett 

Night and Love 

By Ernest Wentworth 

" Ma belle nuit, oh ! sois plus lente . . ." 

O NIGHT of June, sweet Night, be long ! 
Look with thy million burning eyes 
See where my Love beside me lies ; 
So Night of Joy, Night of my Song, 
Be kind, dear Night, and long. 

The Night like wild wind speedeth past ; 

My Love will leave me with the Night. 

Let me forget, in my delight, 
Nor Night can dure, nor Love can last, 

That like wild wind speed past. 

My Night was here, my Night is gone ; 

The Day begins his weary flight 

After the ever-fleeing Night ; 
And oh, the weary, weary Dawn 

My Love, my Love is gone. 


260 Night and Love 

My Night, my Love, have left me here ; 

They will not come to me again. 

Let me remember, in my pain, 
How sweet they were, dear God, how dear, 

That once were really here. 

Barren Life 

By Laurence Housman 

Two Stories 

By Ella D Arcy 
I The Death Mask 

THE Master was dead ; and Peschi, who had come round to 
the studio to see about some repairs part of the ceiling had 
fallen owing to the too lively proceedings of Dubourg and his 
eternal visitors overhead Peschi displayed a natural pride that it 
was he who had been selected from among the many mouleurs of 
the Quarter, to take a mask of the dead man. 

All Paris was talking of the Master, although not, assuredly, 
under that title. All Paris was talking of his life, of his genius, 
of his misery, and of his death. Peschi, for the moment, was sole 
possessor of valuable unedited details, to the narration of which 
Hiram P. Corner, who had dropped in to pass the evening with 
me, listened with keenly attentive ears. 

Corner was a recent addition to the American Art Colony ; 
ingenuous as befitted his eighteen years, and of a more than 
improbable innocence. Paris, to him, represented the Holiest of 
Holies ; the dead Master, by the adorable impeccability of his 
writings, figuring therein as one of the High Priests. Needless 
to say, he had never come in contact with that High Priest, had 
never even seen him ; while the Simian caricatures which so 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. Q frequently 

266 Two Stories 

frequently embellished the newspapers, made as little impression 
on the lad s mind as did the unequivocal allusions, jests, and 
epigrams, for ever flung up like sea-spray against the rock of his 
unrevered name. 

The absorbing interest Corner felt glowed visibly on his fresh 
young western face, and it was this, I imagine, which led Peschi 
to propose that we should go back with him to his atelier and see 
the mask for ourselves. 

Peschi is a Genoese ; small, lithe, very handsome ; a skilled 
workman, a little demon of industry ; full of enthusiasms, with 
the real artist-soul. He works for Felon the sculptor, and it was 
Felon who had been commissioned to do the bust for which the 
death mask would serve as model. 

It is always pleasant to hear Peschi talk ; and to-night, as we 
walked from the Rue Fleurus to the Rue Notre-Dame-des- 
Champs he told us something of mask-taking in general, with 
illustrations from this particular case. 

On the preceding day, barely two hours after death had taken 
place, Rivereau, one of the dead man s intimates, had rushed into 
Peschi s workroom, and carried him off, with the necessary 
materials, to the Rue Monsieur, in a cab. Rivereau, though 
barely twenty, is perhaps the most notorious of the bande. Peschi 
described him to Corner as having dark, evil, narrow eyes set too 
close together in a perfectly white face, framed by falling, lustre 
less black hair ; and with the stooping shoulders, the troubled 
walk, the attenuated hands common to his class. 

Arrived at the house, Rivereau led the way up the dark and 
dirty staircase to the topmost landing, and as they paused there an 
instant, Peschi could hear the long-drawn, hopeless sobs of a 
woman within the door. 

On being admitted he found himself in an apartment 


By Ella D Arcy 267 

consisting of two small, inconceivably squalid rooms, opening one 
from the other. 

In the outer room, five or six figures, the disciples, friends, and 
lovers of the dead poet, conversed together ; a curious group in a 
medley of costumes. One in an opera-hat, shirt-sleeves, and 
soiled grey trousers tied up with a bit of stout string ; another in 
a black coat buttoned high to conceal the fact that he wore no shirt 
at all ; a third in clothes crisp from the tailor, with an immense 
bunch of Parma violets in his buttonhole. But all were alike in 
the strangeness of their eyes, their voices, their gestures. 

Seen through the open door of the further room, lay the corpse 
under a sheet, and by the bedside knelt the stout, middle-aged 
mistress, whose sobs had reached the stairs. 

Madame Germaine, as she was called in the Quarter, had 
loved the Master with that complete, self-abnegating, sublime 
love of which certain women are capable a love uniting that of 
the mother, the wife, and the nurse all in one. For years she 
had cooked for him, washed for him, mended for him ; had 
watched through whole nights by his bedside when he was ill ; 
had suffered passively his blows, his reproaches, and his neglect, 
when, thanks to her care, he was well again. She adored him 
dumbly, closed her eyes to his vices, and magnified his gifts, 
without in the least comprehending them. She belonged to the 
ouvriere class, could not read, could not write her own name ; but 
with a characteristic which is as French as it is un-British, she 
paid her homage to intellect, where an Englishwoman only 
gives it to inches and muscle. Madame Germaine was prouder 
perhaps of the Master s greatness, worshipped him more devoutly, 
than any one of the super-cultivated, ultra-corrupt group, who by 
their flatteries and complaisances had assisted him to his ruin. 

It was with the utmost difficulty, Peschi said, that Rivereau 


268 Two Stories 

and the rest had succeeded in persuading the poor creature to 
leave the bedside and go into the other room while the mask was. 
being taken. 

The operation, it seems, is a sufficiently horrible one, and no 
relative is permitted to be present. As you cover the dead face 
over with the plaster, a little air is necessarily forced back again into 
the lungs, and this air as it passes along the windpipe causes strange 
rattlings, sinister noises, so that you might swear that the corpse 
was returned to life. Then, as the mould is removed, the muscles 
of the face drag and twitch, the mouth opens, the tongue lolls out - T 
and Peschi declared that this always remains for him a gruesome 
moment. He has never accustomed himself to it ; on every 
recurring occasion it fills him with the same repugnance j and 
this, although he has taken so many masks, is so deservedly 
celebrated for them, that la bande had instantly selected him to 
perpetuate the Master s lineaments. 

" But it s an excellent likeness," said Peschi ; "you see they sent 
for me so promptly that he had not changed at all. He does 
not look as though he were dead, but just asleep." 

Meanwhile we had reached the unshuttered shop-front, where 
Peschi displays, on Sundays and week-days alike, his finished works 
of plastic art to the gamins and files of the Quarter. 

Looking past the statuary, we could see into the living-room 
beyond, it being separated from the shop only by a glass partition. 
It was lighted by a lamp set in the centre of the table, and in the 
circle of light thrown from beneath its green shade, we saw a 
charming picture : the young head of Madame Peschi bent over 
her baby, whom she was feeding at the breast. She is eighteen, 
pretty as a rose, and her story and Peschi s is an idyllic one ; to 
be told, perhaps, another time. She greeted us with the smiling,. 
cordial, unaffected kindliness which in France warms your blood 


By Ella D Arcy 269 

with the constant sense of brotherhood ; and, giving the boy to his 
father a delicious opalescent trace of milk hanging about the little 
mouth she got up to see about another lamp which Peschi had 
asked for. 

Holding this lamp to guide our steps, he preceded us now across 
a dark yard to his workshop at the further end, and while we 
went we heard the young mother s exquisite nonsense-talk 
addressed to the child, as she settled back in her place again to her 

Peschi, unlocking a door, flashed the light down a long room, 
the walls of which, the trestle-tables, the very floor, were hung, 
laden, and encumbered with a thousand heterogeneous objects. 
Casts of every description and dimension, finished, unfinished, 
broken ; scrolls for ceilings ; caryatides for chimney-pieces ; 
cornucopias for the entablatures of buildings ; chubby Cupids 
jostling emaciated Christs ; broken columns for Pere Lachaise, or 
consolatory upward-pointing angels ; hands, feet, and noses for the 
Schools of Art ; a pensively posed ecborcbe contemplating a Venus 
of Milo fallen upon her back ; these, and a crowd of nameless, 
formless things, seemed to spring at our eyes, as Peschi raised or 
lowered the lamp, moved it this way or the other. 

" There it is," said he, pointing forwards ; and I saw lying flat 
upon a modelling-board, with upturned features, a grey, immobile 
simulacrum of the curiously mobile face I remembered so well. 

"Of course you must understand," said Paschi, " it s only in 
the rough, just exactly as it came from the creux. Fifty copies 
.are to be cast altogether, and this is the first one. But I must 
prop it up for you. You can t judge of it as it is." 

He looked about him for a free place on which to set the lamp. 
Not finding any, he put it down on the floor. For a few moments 
lie stood busied over the mask with his back to us. 


270 Two Stories 

" Now you can see it properly," said he, and stepped aside. 

The lamp threw its rays upwards, illuminating strongly the 
lower portion of the cast, throwing the upper portion into deepest 
shadow, with the effect that the inanimate mask was become 
suddenly a living face, but a face so unutterably repulsive, so 

hideously bestial, that I grew cold to the roots of my hair 

A fat, loose throat, a retreating chinless chin, smeared and bleared 
with the impressions of the meagre beard ; a vile mouth, lustful, 
flaccid, the lower lip disproportionately great ; ignoble lines ; 
hateful puffinesses ; something inhuman and yet worse than in 
human in its travesty of humanity ; something that made you 
hate the world and your fellows, that made you hate yourself for 
being ever so little in this image. A more abhorrent spectacle I 
have never seen 

So soon as I could turn my eyes from the ghastly thing, I 
looked at Corner. He was white as the plaster faces about him. 
His immensely opened eyes showed his astonishment and his 
terror. For what I experienced was intensified in his case by 
the unexpected and complete disillusionment. He had opened the 
door of the tabernacle, and out had crawled a noisome spider ; he 
had lifted to his lips the communion cup, and therein squatted a 
toad. A sort of murmur of frantic protestation began to rise in 
his throat ; but Peschi, unconscious of our agitation, now lifted the 
lamp, passed round with it behind the mask, held it high, and let 
the rays stream downwards from above. 

The astounding way the face changed must have been seen to 
be believed in. It was exactly as though, by some cunning 
sleight of hand, the mask of a god had been substituted for that of 

a satyr You saw a splendid dome-like head, Shakespearean 

in contour ; a broad, smooth, finely-modelled brow ; thick, regular, 
horizontal eyebrows, casting a shadow which diminished the too 


By Ella D Arcy 271 

great distance separating them from the eyes ; while the deeper 
shadow thrown below the nose altered its character entirely. Its 
snout-like appearance was gone, its deep, wide-open, upturned 
nostrils were hidden, but you noticed the well-marked transition 
from forehead to nose-base, the broad ridge denoting extraordinary 
mental power. Over the eyeballs the lids had sl idden down 
smooth and creaseless ; the little tell-tale palpebral wrinkles 
which had given such libidinous lassitude to the eye had vanished 
away. The lips no longer looked gross, and they closed together 
in a beautiful, sinuous line, now first revealed by the shadow on 
the upper one. The prominence of the jaws, the muscularity of 
the lower part of the face, which gave it so painfully microcephalous 
an appearance, were now unnoticeable ; on the contrary, the whole 
face looked small beneath the noble head and brow. You 
remarked the medium-sized and well-formed ears, with the 
" swan " distinct in each, the gently-swelling breadth of head 
above them, the full development of the forehead over the orbits of 
the eyes. You discerned the presence of those higher qualities 
which might have rendered him an ascetic or a saint ; which 
led him to understand the beauty of self-denial, to appreciate 
the wisdom of self-restraint : and you did not see how these 
qualities remained inoperative in him, being completely over 
balanced by the size of the lower brain, the thick, bull throat, 
and the immense length from the ear to the base of the skull at 
the back. 

I had often seen the Master in life : I had seen him sipping 
absinthe at the d Harcourt ; reeling, a Silemus-like figure, among 
the nocturnal Bacchantes of the BouP Miche ; lying in the gutter 
outside his house, until his mistress should come to pick him up 
and take him in. I had seen in the living man more traces than 
a few of the bestiality which the death-mask had completely 

verified ; 

272 Two Stories 

verified ; but never in the living man had I suspected anything of 
the beauty, of the splendour, that I now saw. 

For that the Master had somewhere a beautiful soul you 
divined from his works; from the exquisite melody of all of them, 
from the pure, the ecstatic, the religious altitude of some few. 
But in actual daily life, his loose and violent will-power, his insane 
passions, held that soul bound down so close a captive, that those 
who knew him best were the last to admit its existence. 

And here, a mere accident of lighting displayed not only that 
existence, but its visible, outward expression as well. In these 
magnificent lines and arches of head and brow, you saw what the 
man might have been, what God had intended him to be ; what 
his mother had foreseen in him, when, a tiny infant like Peschi s 
yonder, she had cradled the warm, downy, sweet-smelling little 
head upon her bosom, and dreamed day-dreams of all the high, the 
great, the wonderful things her boy later on was to do. You saw 
what the poor, purblind, middle-aged mistress was the only one to 
see in the seamed and ravaged face she kissed so tenderly for the 
last time before the coffin-lid was closed. 

You saw the head of gold ; you could forget the feet of clay, or, 
remembering them, you found for the first time some explanation 
of the anomalies of his career. 

You understood how he who could pour out passionate 
protestations of love and devotion to God in the morning, offering 
up body and soul, flesh and blood in his service ; dedicating his 
brow as a footstool for the Sacred Feet ; his hands as censers for 
the glowing coals, the precious incense ; condemning his eyes, 
misleading lights, to be extinguished by the tears of prayer ; you 
understood how, nevertheless, before evening was come, he would 
set every law of God and decency at defiance, use every member, 
every faculty, in the service of sin. 


By Ella D Arcy 273 

It was given to him, as it is given to few, to see the Best, to 
reverence it, to love it ; and the blind, groping hesitatingly 
forward in the darkness, do not stray as far as he strayed. 

He knew the value of work, its imperative necessity; that in 
the sweat of his brow the artist, like the day-labourer, must 
produce, must produce : and he spent his slothful days shambling 
from cafe to cafe. 

He never denied his vices ; he recognised them and found 
excuses for them, high moral reasons even, as the intellectual man 
can always do. To indulge them was but to follow out the 
dictates of Nature, who in herself is holy ; cynically to expose 
them to the world was but to be absolutely sincere. 

And his disciples, going further, taught with a vague poetic 
mysticism that he was a fresh Incarnation of the Godhead ; that 
what was called his immorality was merely his scorn of truckling 
to the base conventions of the world. But in his saner moments 
he described himself more accurately as a man blown hither and 
thither by the winds of evil chance, just as a withered leaf is 
blown in autumn ; and having received great and exceptional 
gifts, with Shakespeare s length of years in which to turn them to 
account, he had chosen instead to wallow in such vileness that his 
very name was anathema among honourable men. 

Chosen ? Did he choose ? Can one say after all that he 
chose to resemble the leaf rather than the tree ? The gates of 
gifts close on the child with the womb, and all we possess comes 
to us from afar, and is collected from a thousand diverging 

If that splendid head and brow were contained in the seed, so 
also were the retreating chin, the debased jaw, the animal mouth. 
One as much as the other was the direct inheritance of former 
generations. Considered in a certain aspect, it seems that a man 

274 Two Stories 

by taking thought, may as little hope to thwart the implanted 
propensities of his character, as to alter the shape of his skull or 
the size of his jawbone. 

I lost myself in mazes of predestination and free-will. Life 
appeared to me as a huge kaleidoscope turned by the hand of Fate. 
The atoms of glass coalesce into patterns, fall apart, unite together 
again, are always the same, but always different, and, shake the 
glass never so slightly, the precise combination you have just been 
looking at is broken up for ever. It can never be repeated. 
This particular man, with his faults and his virtues, his unconscious 
brutalities, his unexpected gentlenesses, his furies of remorse ; this 
man with the lofty brain, the perverted tastes, the weak, irresolute, 
indulgent heart, will never again be met with to the end of time j 
in all the endless combinations to come, this precise combination 
will never be found. Just as of all the faces the world will see, a 
face like the mask there will never again exchange glances 
with it 

I looked at Corner, and saw his countenance once more aglow 
with the joy of a recovered Ideal ; while Peschi s voice broke in 
on my reverie, speaking with the happy pride of the artist in a 
good and conscientious piece of work. 

"Eh bien, how do you find it ? " said he; "it is beautiful, is it 
not ? " 

II The Villa Lucienne 

MADAME COETLEGON told the story, and told it so well, that 
her audience seemed to know the sombre alley, the neglected 
garden, the shuttered house, as intimately as though they had 
visited it themselves ; seemed to feel a faint reverberation of the 


By Ella D Arcy 275 

incommunicable thrill which she had felt, which the surly- 
guardian, the torn rag of lace, the closed pavilion had made her 
feel. And yet, as you will see, there is in reality no story at all ; 
it is merely an account of how, when in the Riviera two winters 
ago, she went with some friends to look over a furnished villa, 
which one of them thought of taking. 

It was afternoon when we started on our expedition, Madame 
de M , Cecile her widowed daughter-in-law, and I. Cecile s 
little girl Renee, the nurse, and Medor, the boarhound of which 
poor Guy had been so inordinately fond, dawdled after us up the 
steep and sunny road. 

The December day was deliciously blue and warm. Cecile 
took off her furs and carried them over her arm. We only put 
down our sunshades when a screen of olive-trees on the left inter 
posed their grey-green foliage between the sunshine and us. 

Up in these trees barefooted men armed with bamboos were 
beating the branches to knock down the fruit ; and three genera 
tions of women, grandmothers, wives, and children, knelt in the 
grass, gathering up the little purplish olives into baskets. All 
paused to follow us with black persistent eyes, as we passed by ; 
only the men went on working unmoved. The tap-tapping, 
swish-swishing, of their light sticks against the boughs played 
a characteristically southern accompaniment to our desultory 

We were reasonably happy, pleasantly exhilarated by the beauty 
of the weather and the scene. Renee and Medor, with shrill 
laughter and deep-mouthed joy-notes, played together the whole 
way. And when the garden wall, which now replaced the olive- 
trees upon our right, gave place to a couple of iron gates standing 


276 Two Stories 

open upon a broad straight drive, and we, looking up between 
the overarching palm-trees and cocoanuts, saw a white, elegant, 
sun-bathed house at the end, Cecile jumped to the con 
clusion that here was the Villa Lucienne, and that nowhere else 
could she find a house which on the face of it would suit her 

But the woman who came to greet us, the jocund, brown-faced 
young woman, with the superb abundance of bosom beneath her 
crossed neckkerchief of orange-coloured wool, told us no ; this 
was the Villa Soleil (appropriate name!) and belonged to 
Monsieur Morgera, the deputy who was now in Paris. The 
Villa Lucienne was higher up ; she pointed vaguely behind her 
through the house : a long walk round by the road. But if these 
ladies did not mind a path which was a trifle damp perhaps, 
owing to Monday s rain, they would find themselves in five 
minutes at the Villa, for the two houses in reality were not more 
than a stone s-throw apart. 

She conducted us across a spacious garden golden with sunshine, 
lyric with bird-song, brilliant with flowers, where eucalyptus, 
mimosa, and tea-roses interwove their strong and subtle perfumes 
through the air, to an angle in a remote laurel hedge. Here she 
stooped to pull aside some ancient pine-boughs which ineffectually 
closed the entrance to a dark and trellised walk. Peering up it, it 
seemed to stretch away interminably into green gloom, the ground 
rising a little all the while, and the steepness of the ascent being 
modified every here and there by a couple of rotting wooden steps. 

We were to go up this alley, our guide told us, and we would 
be sure to find Laurent at the top. Laurent, she explained to us, 
was the gardener who lived at the Villa Lucienne and showed it 
to visitors. But there were not many who came, although it had 
been to let an immense time, ever since the death of old Madame 


By Ella D Arcy 277 

Gray, and that had occurred before she, the speaker, had come 
south with the Morgeras. We were to explain to Laurent that 
we had been sent up from the Villa Soleil, and then it would be all 
right. For he sometimes used the alley himself, as it gave him a 
short cut into Antibes ; but the passage had been blocked up many 
years ago, to prevent the Morgera children running into it. 

Oh, Madame was very kind, it was no trouble at all, and of 
course if these., ladies liked they could return by the alley also; 
but once they found themselves at the Villa they would be close 
to the upper road, which they would probably prefer. Then 
came her cordial voice calling after Cecile, "Madame had best 
put on her furs again, it is cold in there." 

It was cold, and damp, too, with the damp coldness of places 
where sun and wind never penetrate. It was so narrow that we 
had to walk in single file. The walls close on either hand, the low 
roof above our heads, were formed of trellised woodwork now 
dropping into complete decay. But these might have been 
removed altogether, and the alley would still have retained its 
form ; for the creepers which overgrew it had with time 
developed gnarled trunks and branches, which formed a second 
natural tunnelling outside. Through the broken places in the 
woodwork we could see the thick, inextricably twisted stems ; 
and outside again was a tangled matting of greenery that suffered 
no drop of sunlight to trickle through. The ground was covered 
with lichens, deathstool, and a spongy moss exuding water 
beneath the foot, and one had the consciousness that the whole 
place, floor, walls, and roof, must creep with the repulsive, slimy,, 
running life which pullulates in dark and solitary places. 

The change from the gay and scented garden to this dark alley,, 
heavy with the smells of moisture and decay, was curiously 
depressing. We followed each other in silence ; first Cecile ;, 


278 Two Stories 

then Renee clinging to her nurse s hand, with Medor pressing 
close against them ; Madame de M - next ; and I brought up 
the rear. 

One would have pronounced it impossible to find in any 
southern garden so sombre a place, but that, after all, it is only in 
the south that such extraordinary contrasts of gaiety and gloom 
ever present themselves. 

The sudden tearing away of a portion of one of the wooden 
steps beneath my tread startled us all, and the circular scatter of 
an immense colony of wood-lice that had formed its habitat in 
the crevices of the wood filled me with shivering disgust. I was 
exceedingly glad when we emerged from the tunnel upon daylight 
again and the Villa. 

Upon daylight, but not upon sunlight, for the small garden in 
which we found ourselves was ringed round by the compact tops 
of the umbrella-pines which climbed the hill on every side. The 
site had been chosen of course on account of the magnificent view 
which we knew must be obtainable from the Villa windows, 
though from where we stood we could see nothing but the dark 
trees, the wild garden, the overshadowed house. And we saw 
none of these things very distinctly, for our attention was focussed 
on the man standing stolidly there in the middle of the garden, 
and evidently knee-deep in the grass, awaiting us. 

He was a short, thick-set peasant, dressed in the immensely 
wide blue velveteen trousers, the broad crimson sash, and the 
flannel shirt, open at the throat, which are customary in these 
parts. He was strong-necked as a bull, dark as a mulatto, and his 
curling, grizzled hair was thickly matted over head and face and 
breast. He wore a flat knitted cap, and held the inevitable 
cigarette between his lips, but he made no attempt to remove one 
or the other at our approach. He stood motionless, silent, his 


By Ella D Arcy 279 

hands thrust deep into his pockets, staring at us, and shifting from 
one to another his suspicious and truculent little eyes. 

So far as I was concerned, and though the Villa had proved a 
palace, I should have preferred abandoning the quest at once to 
going over it in his company ; but Cecile addressed him with 
intrepid politeness. 

" We had been permitted to come up from the Villa Soleil. 
We understood that the Villa Lucienne was to let furnished ; if 
so, might we look over it ? " 

From his heavy, expressionless expression, one might have 
supposed that the very last thing he expected or desired was to 
find a tenant for the Villa, and I thought with relief that he was 
going to refuse Cecile s request. But, after a longish pause : 

" Yes, you can see it," he said, grudgingly, and turned from us, 
to disappear into the lower part of the house. 

We looked into each other s disconcerted faces, then round the 
grey and shadowy garden in which we stood : a garden long 
since gone to ruin, with paths and flower-beds inextricably 
mingled, with docks and nettles choking up the rose-trees run 
wild, with wind-planted weeds growing from the stone vases on 
the terrace, with grasses pushing between the marble steps leading 
up to the hall door. 

In the middle of the garden a terra-cotta faun, tumbled from 
his pedestal, grinned sardonically up from amidst the tangled 
greenery, and Madame de M - began to quote : 

" Un vieux faune en terre-cuite 
Rit au centre des boulingrins, 
Presageant sans doute une fuite 
De ces instants sereins 
Qui m ont conduit et t ont conduite . . ." 


280 Two Stories 

The Villa itself was as dilapidated, as mournful-looking as the 
garden. The ground-floor alone gave signs of occupation, in a 
checked shirt spread out upon a window-ledge to dry, in a worn 
besom, an earthenware pipkin, and a pewter jug, ranged against 
the wall. But the upper part, with the yellow plaster crumbling 
from the walls, the grey-painted persiennes all monotonously 
closed, said with a thousand voices it was never opened, never 
entered, had not been lived in for years. 

Our surly gardener reappeared, carrying some keys. He led 
the way up the steps. We exchanged mute questions ; all desire 
to inspect the Villa was gone. But Cecile is a woman of character : 
she devoted herself. 

" I ll just run up and see what it is like," she said; "it s not 
worth while you should tire yourself too, Mamma. You, all, wait 

We stood at the foot of the steps ; Laurent was already at the 
top. Cecile began to mount lightly towards him, but before she 
was half-way she turned, and to our surprise, " I wish you would 
come up all of you," she said, and stopped there until we joined 

Laurent fitted a key to the door, and it opened with a shriek of 
rusty hinges. As he followed us, pulling it to behind him, 
we found ourselves in total darkness. I assure you I went 
through a bad quarter of a minute. Then we heard the turning 
of a handle, an inner door was opened, and in the semi-daylight of 
closed shutters we saw the man s squat figure going from us down 
a long, old-fashioned, vacant drawing-room towards two windows 
at the further end. 

At the same instant Renee burst into tears : 

" Oh, I don t like it. Oh, I m frightened ! " she sobbed. 

"Little goosie ! " said her grandmother, " see, it s quite light 


By Ella D Arcy 281 

now ! " for Laurent had pushed back the persiennes, and a magical 
panorama had sprung into view ; the whole range of the mountains 
behind Nice, their snow-caps suffused with a heavenly rose colour 
by the setting sun. 

But Renee only clutched tighter at Madame de M - s 
gown, and wept : 

"Oh, I don t like it, Bonnemaman ! She is looking at me 
still. I want to go home ! " 

No one is looking at you," her grandmother told her, " talk 
to your friend Mcidor. He ll take care of you." 

But Renee whispered : 

" He wouldn t come in ; he s frightened too." 

And, listening, we heard the dog s impatient and complaining 
bark calling to us from the garden. 

Ce cile sent Renee and the nurse to join him, and while Laurent 
let them out, we stepped on to the terrace, and for a moment our 
hearts were eased by the incomparable beauty of the view, for 
raised now above the tree-tops, we looked over the admirable bay, 
the illimitable sky ; we feasted our eyes upon unimaginable colour, 
upon matchless form. We were almost prepared to declare that 
the possession of the Villa was a piece of good fortune not to be 
let slip, when we heard a step behind us, and turned to see 
Laurent surveying us morosely from the window threshold, and 
again to experience the oppression of his ungenial personality. 

Under his guidance we now inspected the century-old 
furniture, the faded silks, the tarnished gilt, the ragged brocades, 
which had once embellished the room. The oval mirrors were 
dim with mildew, the parquet floor might have been a mere piece 
of grey drugget, so thick was the overlying dust. Curtains, 
yellowish, ropey, of undeterminable material, hung forlornly 
where once they had draped windows and doors. Originally they 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. R may 

282 Two Stories 

may have been of rose satin, for there were traces of rose colour 
still on the walls and the ceiling, painted in gay southern fashion 
with loves and doves, festoons of flowers, and knots of ribbons. 
But these paintings were all fragmentary, indistinct, seeming to 
lose sequence and outline the more diligently you tried to decipher 

Yet you could not fail to see that when first furnished the 
room must have been charming and coquettish. I wondered for 
whom it had been thus arranged, why it had been thus abandoned. 
For there grew upon me, I cannot tell you why, the curious 
conviction that the last inhabitant of the room having casually 
left it, had, from some unexpected obstacle, never again re 
turned. They were but the merest trifles that created this idea ; 
the tiny heaps of brown ash which lay on a marble gueridon, the 
few withered twigs in the vase beside it, spoke of the last rose 
plucked from the garden ; the big berceuse chair drawn out 
beside the sculptured mantelpiece seemed to retain the impression 
of the last occupant ; and in the dark recesses of the unclosed 
hearth my fancy detected smouldering heat in the half-charred 
logs of wood. 

The other rooms in the villa resembled the salon , each time 
our surly guide opened the shutters we saw a repetition of the 
ancient furniture, of the faded decoration ; everything dust- 
covered and time-decayed. Nor in these other rooms was any 
sign of former occupation to be seen, until, caught upon the 
girandole of a pier-glass, a long ragged fragment of lace seized my 
eye ; an exquisitely fine and cobwebby piece of lace, as though 
caught and torn from some gala shawl or flounce, as the wearer 
had hurried by. 

It was odd perhaps to see this piece of lace caught thus, but 
not odd enough surely to account for the strange emotion which 


By Ella D Arcy 283 

seized hold of me : an overwhelming pity, succeeded by an over 
whelming fear. I had had a momentary intention to point the 
lace out to the others, but a glance at Laurent froze the words on 
my lips. Never in my life have I experienced such a paralysing 
fear. I was filled with an intense desire to get away from the 
man and from the Villa. 

But Madame de M looking from the window, had noticed 

a pavilion standing isolated in the garden. She inquired if it were 
to be let with the house. Then she supposed we could visit it. 
No, said the man, that was impossible. But she insisted it was 
only right that tenants should see the whole of the premises 
for which they would have to pay, but he refused this time with 
such rudeness, his little brutish eyes narrowed with such malig 
nancy, that the panic which I had just experienced now seized the 
others, and it was a sauve-qui-peut. 

We gathered up Renee, nurse, and Medor in our hasty passage 
through the garden, and found our way unguided to the gate upon 
the upper road. 

And once at large beneath the serene evening sky, winding 
slowly westward down the olive bordered ways : "What an odious 
old ruffian ! " said one ; " What an eerie, uncanny place ! " said 
another. We compared notes. We found that each of us had 
been conscious of the same immense, the same inexplicable sense 
of fear. 

Cecile, the least nervous of women, had felt it the first. It had 
laid hold of her when going up the steps to the door, and it had 
been so real a terror, she explained to us, that if we had not joined 
her she would have turned back. Nothing could have induced 
her to enter the Villa alone. 

Madame de M s account was that her mind had been 

more or less troubled from the first moment of entering the 


284 Two Stories 

garden, but that when the man refused us access to the pavilion, 
it had been suddenly invaded by a most intolerable sense of some 
thing wrong. Being very imaginative (poor Guy undoubtedly 

derived his extraordinary gifts from her), Madame de M was 

convinced that the gardener had murdered some one and buried 
the body inside the pavilion. 

But for me it was not so much the personality of the man 
although I admitted he was unprepossessing enough as the Villa 
itself which inspired fear. Fear seemed to exude from the walls, 
to dim the mirrors with its clammy breath, to stir shudderingly 
among the tattered draperies, to impregnate the whole atmosphere 
as with an essence, a gas, a contagious disease. You fought it off 
for a shorter or longer time, according to your powers of resistance, 
but you were bound to succumb to it at last. The oppressive 
and invisible fumes had laid hold of us one after the other, and the 
incident of the closed pavilion had raised our terrors to a ludicrous 

Nurse s experiences, which she gave us a day or two later, 
supported this view. For she told us that when Renee began to 
cry, and she took her hand to lead her out, all at once she felt 
quite nervous and uncomfortable too, as though the little one s 
trouble had passed by touch into her. 

" And what is strange too," said she, " when we reached the 
garden, there was Medor, his forepaws planted firmly on the 
ground, his whole body rigid, and his hair bristling all along his 
backbone from end to end." 

Nurse was convinced that both the child and the dog had seen 
something we others could not see. 

This reminded us of a word of Renee s, a very curious word : 

" I don t like it, she is looking at me still," and Cecile under 
took to question her. 


By Ella D Arcy 285 

c You remember, Renee, when mother took you the other day 
to look over the pretty Villa " 

Rene e opened wide, mute eyes. 

" Why did you cry ? " 

" I was frightened of the lady," she whispered. 

" Where was the lady ? " asked Cecile. 

" She was in the drawing-room, sitting in the big chair." 

" Was she an old lady like grandmamma, or a young lady like 
mother ? " 

"She was like Bonnemaman," said Renee, and her little mouth 
began to quiver. 

" And what did she do ? " 

" She got up and began to to come- 
But here Renee burst into tears again. And as she is a very 
nervous, excitable child, we had to drop the subject. 

But what it all meant, whether there was anything in the 
history of the house or of its guardian which could account for 
our sensations, we never knew. We made inquiries of course 
concerning Laurent and the Villa Lucienne, but we learned very 
little, and that little was so vague, so remote, so irrelevant, that it 
does not seem worth while repeating. 

The indisputable fact is the overwhelming fear which the 
adventure awoke in each and all of us ; and this effect is impossible 
to describe, being just the crystallisation of one of those subtle, 
unformulated emotions in which only poor Guy himself could 
have hoped to succeed. 


By Charles Conder 

Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

By Vernon Lee 

[To H.H. the Ranee Brooke of Sarawak] 

IN the year 1701, the Duchy of Luna became united to the 
Italian dominions of the Holy Roman Empire, owing to 
the extinction of its famous ducal house in the persons of 
Duke Balthasar Maria and of his grandson Alberic, who should 
have been third of the name. Under this dry historical fact lies 
hidden the strange story of Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady. 


The first act of hostility of old Duke Balthasar towards the 
Snake Lady, in whose existence he did not, of course, believe, 
was connected with the arrival at Luna of certain tapestries after 
the designs of the famous Monsieur Le Brun, a present from his 
most Christian Majesty King Lewis the XIV. These Gobelins, 
which represented the marriage of Alexander and Roxana, were 
placed in the throne room, and in the most gallant suit of 
chambers overlooking the great rockery garden, all of which had 
been completed by Duke Balthasar Maria in 1680 ; and, as a 


290 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

consequence, the already existing tapestries, silk hangings and 
mirrors painted by Marius of the Flowers, were transferred into 
other apartments, thus occasioning a general re-hanging of the 
Red Palace at Luna. These magnificent operations, in which, 
as the court poets sang, Apollo and the Graces lent their ser 
vices to their beloved patron, aroused in Duke Balthasar s mind 
a sudden curiosity to see what might be made of the rooms 
occupied by his grandson and heir, and which he had not entered 
since Prince Alberic s christening. He found the apartments in 
a shocking state of neglect, and the youthful prince unspeakably 
shy and rustic ; and he determined to give him at once an 
establishment befitting his age, to look out presently for a princess 
worthy to be his wife, and, somewhat earlier, for a less illustrious 
but more agreeable lady to fashion his manners. Meanwhile, 
Duke Balthasar Maria gave orders to change the tapestry in 
Prince Alberic s chamber. This tapestry was of old and Gothic 
taste, extremely worn, and represented Alberic the Blond and the 
Snake Lady Oriana, alluded to in the poems of Boiardo and the 
chronicles of the Crusaders. Duke Balthasar Maria was a 
prince of enlightened mind and delicate taste ; the literature as 
well as the art of the dark ages found no grace in his sight ; he 
reproved the folly of feeding the thoughts of youth on improbable 
events ; besides, he disliked snakes and was afraid of the devil. 
So he ordered the tapestry to be removed and another, representing 
Susanna and the Elders, to be put in its stead. But when Prince 
Alberic discovered the change, he cut Susanna and the Elders into 
strips with a knife he had stolen out of the ducal kitchens (no 
dangerous instruments being allowed to young princes before they 
were of an age to learn to fence) and refused to touch his food for 
three days. 

The tapestry over which little Prince Alberic mourned so 


By Vernon Lee 291 

greatly had indeed been both tattered and Gothic. But for the 
boy it possessed an inexhaustible charm. It was quite full of 
things, and they were all delightful. The sorely frayed borders 
consisted of wonderful garlands of leaves, and fruits, and flowers, 
tied at intervals with ribbons, although they seemed all to grow, 
like tall, narrow bushes, each from a big vase in the bottom 
corner ; and made of all manner of different plants. There were 
bunches of spiky bays, and of acorned oakleaves, sheaves of lilies 
and heads of poppies, gourds, and apples and pears, and hazelnuts 
and mulberries, wheat ears, and beans, and pine tufts. And in 
each of these plants, of which those above named are only a very 
few, there were curious live creatures of some sort various birds, 
big and little, butterflies on the lilies, snails, squirrels, and mice, 
and rabbits, and even a hare, with such pointed ears, darting 
among the spruce fir. Alberic learned the names of most of these 
plants and creatures from his nurse, who had been a peasant, and 
spent much ingenuity seeking for them in the palace gardens and 
terraces ; but there were no live creatures there, except snails and 
toads, which the gardeners killed, and carp swimming about in 
the big tank, whom Alberic did not like, and who were not in the 
tapestry ; and he had to supplement his nurse s information by 
that of the grooms and scullions, when he could visit them secretly. 
He was even promised a sight, one day, of a dead rabbit the 
rabbit was the most fascinating of the inhabitants of the tapestry 
border but he came to the kitchen too late, and saw it with its 
pretty fur pulled off, and looking so sad and naked that it made 
him cry. But Alberic had grown so accustomed to never quitting 
the Red Palace and its gardens, that he was usually satisfied with 
seeing the plants and animals in the tapestry, and looked forward 
to seeing the real things when he should be grown up. " When 
I am a man," he would say to himself for his nurse scolded 


292 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

him for saying it to her " I will have a live rabbit of my 


The border of the tapestry interested Prince Alberic most when 
he was very little indeed, his remembrance of it was older than 
that of the Red Palace, its terraces and gardens but gradually he 
began to care more and more for the pictures in the middle. 

There were mountains, and the sea with ships ; and these first 
made him care to go on to the topmost palace terrace and look at 
the real mountains and the sea beyond the roofs and gardens ; and 
there were woods of all manner of tall trees, with clover and wild 
strawberries growing beneath them, and roads, and paths, and rivers, 
in and out these were rather confused with the places where the 
tapestry was worn out, and with the patches and mendings thereof, 
but Alberic, in the course of time, contrived to make them all out, 
and knew exactly whence the river came which turned the big 
mill wheel, and how many bends it made before coming to the 
fishing nets ; and how the horsemen must cross over the bridge, 
then wind behind the cliff with the chapel, and pass through the 
wood of firs in order to get from the castle in the left hand corner 
nearest the bottom to the town, over which the sun was shining 
with all its beams, and a wind blowing with inflated cheeks on 
the right hand close to the top. 

The centre of the tapestry was the most worn and discoloured ; 
and it was for this reason perhaps that little Alberic scarcely 
noticed it for some years, his eye and mind led away by the bright 
red and yellow of the border of fruit and flowers, and the still 
vivid green and orange of the background landscape. Red, yellow 
and orange, even green, had faded in the centre into pale blue and 
lilac ; even the green had grown an odd dusky tint ; and the figures 
seemed like ghosts, sometimes emerging and then receding again 
into vagueness. Indeed, it was only as he grew bigger that Alberic 


By Vernon Lee 293 

began to see any figures at all ; and then, for a long time he 
would lose sight of them. But little by little, when the light was 
strong, he could see them always ; and even in the dark make 
them out with a little attention. Among the spruce firs and pines, 
and against a hedge of roses, on which there still lingered a rem 
nant of redness, a knight had reined in his big white horse, and 
was putting one arm round the shoulder of a lady, who was leaning 
against the horse s flank. The knight was all dressed in armour- 
not at all like that of the equestrian statue of Duke Balthasar 
Maria in the square, but all made of plates, with plates also on the 
legs, instead of having them bare like Duke Balthasar s statue; 
and on his head he had no wig, but a helmet with big plumes. It 
seemed a more reasonable dress than the other, but probably Duke 
Balthasar was right to go to battle with bare legs and a kilt and a 
wig, since he did so. The lady who was looking up into his face 
was dressed with a high collar and long sleeves, and on her head 
she wore a thick circular garland, from under which the hair fell 
about her shoulders. She was very lovely, Alberic got to think, 
particularly when, having climbed upon a chest of drawers, he saw 
that her hair was still full of threads of gold, some of them quite 
loose because the tapestry was so rubbed. The knight and his 
horse were of course very beautiful, and he liked the way in which 
the knight reined in the horse with one hand, and embraced the 
lady with the other arm. But Alberic got to love the lady most, 
although she was so very pale and faded, and almost the colour of 
the moonbeams through the palace windows in summer. Her 
dress also was so beautiful and unlike those of the ladies who got 
out of the coaches in the Court of Honour, and who had on hoops 
and no clothes at all on their upper part. This lady, on the con 
trary, had that collar like a lily, and a beautiful gold chain, and 
patterns in gold (Alberic made them out little by little) all over 


294 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

her bodice. He got to want so much to see her skirt ; it was 
probably very beautiful too, but it so happened that the inlaid 
chest of drawers before mentioned stood against the wall in that 
place, and on it a large ebony and ivory crucifix, which covered 
the lower part of the lady s body. Alberic often tried to lift off 
the crucifix, but it was a great deal too heavy, and there was not 
room on the chest of drawers to push it aside; so the lady s skirt 
and feet remained invisible. But one day, when Alberic was eleven, 
his nurse suddenly took a fancy to having all the furniture shifted. 
It was time that the child should cease to sleep in her room, and 
plague her with his loud talking in his dreams. And she might 
as well have the handsome inlaid chest of drawers, and that nice 
pious crucifix for herself next door, in place of Alberic s little bed. 
So one morning there was a great shifting and dusting, and when 
Alberic came in from his walk on the terrace, there hung the 
tapestry entirely uncovered. He stood for a few minutes before 
it, riveted to the ground. Then he ran to his nurse, exclaiming, 
" Oh, nurse, dear nurse, look the lady ! " 

For where the big crucifix had stood, the lower part of the 
beautiful pale lady with the gold thread hair was now exposed. 
But instead of a skirt, she ended off in a big snake s tail, with 
scales of still most vivid (the tapestry not having faded there) 
green and gold. 

The nurse turned round. 

" Holy Virgin," she cried, " why she s a serpent ! " Then notic 
ing the boy s violent excitement, she added, " You little ninny, it s 
only Duke Alberic the Blond, who was your ancestor, and the 
Snake Lady." 

Little Prince Alberic asked no questions, feeling that he must 
not. Very strange it was, but he loved the beautiful lady with 
the thread of gold hair only the more because she ended off in the 


By Vernon Lee 295 

long twisting body of a snake. And that, no doubt, was why the 
knight was so very good to her. 


For want of that tapestry, poor Alberic, having cut its successor 
to pieces, began to pine away. It had been his whole world ; 
and now it was gone he discovered that he had no other. No 
one had ever cared for him except his nurse, who was very cross. 
Nothing had ever been taught him except the Latin catechism ; 
he had had nothing to make a pet of except the fat carp, supposed 
to be four hundred years old, in the tank ; he had nothing to play 
with except a gala coral with bells by Benvenuto Cellini, which 
Duke Balthasar Maria had sent him on his eighth birthday. He 
had never had anything except a grandfather, and had never been 
outside the Red Palace. 

Now, after the loss of the tapestry, the disappearance of the 
plants and flowers and birds and beasts on its borders, and the 
departure of the kind knight on the horse and the dear golden- 
haired Snake Lady, Alberic became aware that he had always 
hated both his grandfather and the Red Palace. 

The whole world, indeed, were agreed that Duke Balthasar was 
the most magnanimous and fascinating of monarchs ; and that the 
Red Palace of Luna was the most magnificent and delectable of 
residences. But the knowledge of this universal opinion, and the 
consequent sense of his own extreme unworthiness, merely 
exasperated Alberic s detestation, which, as it grew, came to 
identify the Duke and the Palace as the personification and 
visible manifestation of each other. He knew now oh how well 
every time that he walked on the terrace or in the garden (at 
the hours when no one else ever entered them) that he had always 


296 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

abominated the brilliant tomato-coloured plaster which gave the 
palace its name : such a pleasant, gay colour, people would 
remark, particularly against the blue of the sky. Then there 
were the Twelve Cssars they were the Twelve Caesars, but 
multiplied over and over again busts with flying draperies and 
spiky garlands, one over every first floor window, hundreds of 
them, all fluttering and grimacing round the place. Alberic had 
always thought them uncanny; but now he positively avoided 
looking out of the window, lest his eye should catch the stucco 
eyeball of one of those Caesars in the opposite wing of the 
building. But there was one thing more especially in the Red 
Palace, of which a bare glimpse had always filled the youthful 
Prince with terror, and which now kept recurring to his mind 
like a nightmare. This was no other than the famous grotto of 
the Court of Honour. Its roof was ingeniously inlaid with oyster 
shells, forming elegant patterns, among which you could plainly 
distinguish some colossal satyrs ; the sides were built of rockery, 
and in its depths, disposed in a most natural and tasteful manner, 
was a herd of lifesize animals all carved out of various precious 
marbles. On holidays the water was turned on, and spurted 
about in a gallant fashion. On such occasions persons of taste 
would flock to Luna from all parts of the world to enjoy the 
spectacle. But ever since his earliest infancy Prince Alberic had 
held this grotto in abhorrence. The oyster shell satyrs on the 
roof frightened him into fits, particularly when the fountains were 
playing; and his terror of the marble animals was such that a bare 
allusion to the Porphyry Rhinoceros, the Giraffe of Cipollino, and 
the Verde Antique Monkeys, set him screaming for an hour. 
The grotto, moreover, had become associated in his mind with the 
other great glory of the Red Palace, to wit, the domed chapel in 
which Duke Balthasar Maria intended erecting monuments to 


By Vernon Lee 297 

his immediate ancestors, and in which he had already prepared a 
monument for himself. And the whole magnificent palace, 
grotto, chapel and all, had become mysteriously connected with 
Alberic s grandfather, owing to a particularly terrible dream. 
When the boy was eight years old, he was taken one day to see 
his grandfather. It was the feast of St. Balthasar, one of the 
Three Wise Kings from the East, as is well known. There had 
been firing of mortars and ringing of bells ever since daybreak. 
Alberic had his hair curled, was put into new clothes (his usual 
raiment was somewhat tattered), a large nosegay was put in his 
hand, and he and his nurse were conveyed by complicated relays 
of lackeys and of pages up to the Ducal apartments. Here, in a 
crowded outer room, he was separated from his nurse and received 
by a gaunt person in a long black robe like a sheath, and a long 
shovel hat, whom Alberic identified many years later as his grand 
father s Jesuit confessor. He smiled a long smile, discovering a 
prodigious number of teeth, in a manner which froze the child s 
blood; and lifting an embroidered curtain, pushed Alberic into 
his grandfather s presence. Duke Balthasar Maria, known as the 
Ever Young Prince in all Italy, was at his toilet. He was 
wrapped in a green Chinese wrapper, embroidered with gold 
pagodas, and round his head was tied an orange scarf of delicate 
fabric. He was listening to the performance of some fiddlers, and 
of a lady dressed as a nymph, who was singing the birthday ode 
with many shrill trills and quavers; and meanwhile his face, in 
the hands of a valet, was being plastered with a variety of brilliant 
colours. In his green and gold wrapper and orange head-dress, with 
the strange patches of vermilion and white on his cheeks, Duke 
Balthasar looked to the diseased fancy of his grandson as if he had 
been made of various precious metals, like the celebrated effigy he 
had erected of himself in the great burial chapel. But, just as 


298 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

Alberic was mustering up courage and approaching his magnificent 
grandparent, his eye fell upon a sight so mysterious and terrible 
that he fled wildly out of the Ducal presence. For through an 
open door he could see in an adjacent closet a man dressed in 
white, combing the long flowing locks of what he recognised as 
his grandfather s head, stuck on a short pole in the light of a 

That night Alberic had seen in his dreams the ever young 
Duke Balthasar Maria descend from his niche in the burial-chapel; 
and, with his Roman lappets and corslet visible beneath the green 
bronze cloak embroidered with gold pagodas, march down the 
great staircase into the Court of Honour, and ascend to the empty 
place at the end of the rockery grotto (where, as a matter of fact, 
a statue of Neptune, by a pupil of Bernini, was placed some 
months later), and there, raising his sceptre, receive the obeisance 
of all the marble animals the giraffe, the rhinoceros, the stag, the 
peacock, and the monkeys. And behold ! suddenly his well-known 
features waxed dim, and beneath the great curly peruke there was 
a round blank thing a barber s block ! 

Alberic, who was an intelligent child, had gradually learned to 
disentangle this dream from reality ; but its grotesque terror never 
vanished from his mind, and became the core of all his feelings 
towards Duke Balthasar Maria and the Red Palace. 


The news which was kept back as long as possible of the 
destruction of Susanna and the Elders threw Duke Balthasar 
Maria into a most violent rage with his grandson. The boy should 
be punished by exile, and exile to a terrible place ; above all, to a 


By Vernon Lee 299 

place where there was no furniture to destroy. Taking due 
counsel with his Jesuit, his Jester, and his Dwarf, Duke Balthasar 
decided that in the whole Duchy of Luna there was no place more 
fitted for the purpose than the Castle of Sparkling Waters. 

For the Castle of Sparkling Waters was little better than a ruin, 
and its sole inhabitants were a family of peasants. The original 
cradle of the House of Luna, and its principal bulwark against 
invasion, the castle had been ignominiously discarded and forsaken 
a couple of centuries before, when the dukes had built the 
rectangular town in the plain ; after which it had been used as a 
quarry for ready cut stone, and the greater part carted off to 
rebuild the city of Luna, and even the central portion of the Red 
Palace. The castle was therefore reduced to its outer circuit of 
walls, enclosing vineyards and orange-gardens, instead of moats 
and yards and towers, and to the large gate tower, which had been 
kept, with one or two smaller buildings, for the housing of the 
farmer, his cattle, and his stores. 

Thither the misguided young prince was conveyed in a care 
fully shuttered coach and at a late hour of the evening, as was 
proper in the case of an offender at once so illustrious and so 
criminal. Nature, moreover, had clearly shared Duke Balthasar 
Maria s legitimate anger, and had done her best to increase the 
horror of this just though terrible sentence. For that particular 
night the long summer broke up in a storm of fearful violence ; 
and Alberic entered the ruined castle amid the howling of wind, 
the rumble of thunder, and the rush of torrents of rain. 

But the young prince showed no fear or reluctance ; he saluted 
with dignity and sweetness the farmer and his wife and family, 
and took possession of his attic, where the curtains of an antique 
and crazy four-poster shook in the draught of the unglazed 
windows, as if he were taking possession of the gala chambers of 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. s a great 

300 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

a great palace. " And so," he merely remarked, looking round 
him with reserved satisfaction, " I am now in the castle which 
was built by my ancestor and namesake, Alberic the Blond." 

He looked not unworthy of such illustrious lineage, as he stood 
there in the flickering light of the pine torch : tall for his age, 
slender and strong, with abundant golden hair falling about hi& 
very white face. 

That first night at the Castle of Sparkling Waters, Alberic 
dreamed without end about his dear, lost tapestry. And when, in 
the radiant autumn morning, he descended to explore the place of 
his banishment and captivity, it seemed as if those dreams were 
still going on. Or had the tapestry been removed to this 
spot, and become a reality in which he himself was running 
about ? 

The guard tower in which he had slept was still intact and 
chivalrous. It had battlements, a drawbridge, a great escutcheon 
with the arms of Luna, just like the castle in the tapestry. Some 
vines, quite loaded with grapes, rose on the strong cords of their 
fibrous wood from the ground to the very roof of the tower, 
exactly like those borders of leaves and fruit which Alberic had 
loved so much. And, between the vines, all along the masonry, 
were strung long narrow ropes of maize, like garlands of gold. A 
plantation of orange trees filled what had once been the moat ; 
lemons were spalliered against the delicate pink brickwork. 
There were no lilies, but big carnations hung down from the 
tower windows, and a tall oleander, which Alberic mistook for a 
special sort of rose-tree, shed its blossoms on to the drawbridge. 
After the storm of the night, birds were singing all round ; not 
indeed as they sang in spring, which Alberic, of course, did not 
know, but in a manner quite different from the canaries in the 
ducal aviaries at Luna. Moreover other birds, wonderful white 


By Vernon Lee 301 

and gold creatures, some of them with brilliant tails and scarlet 
crests, were pecking and strutting and making curious noises in 
the yard. And could it be true ? a little way further up the 
hill, for the castle walls climbed steeply from the seaboard, in 
the grass beneath the olive trees, white creatures were running in 
and out white creatures with pinkish lining to their ears, un 
doubtedly as Alberic s nurse had taught him on the tapestry 
undoubtedly rabbits. 

Thus Alberic rambled on, from discovery to discovery, with the 
growing sense that he was in the tapestry, but that the tapestry 
had become the whole world. He climbed from terrace to 
terrace of the steep olive yard, among the sage and the fennel tufts, 
the long red walls of the castle winding ever higher on the hill. 
And, on the very top of the hill was a high terrace surrounded by 
towers, and a white shining house with columns and windows, 
which seemed to drag him upwards. 

It was, indeed, the citadel of the place, the very centre of the 

Alberic s heart beat strangely as he passed beneath the wide 
arch of delicate ivy-grown brick, and clambered up the rough 
paved path to the topmost terrace. And there he actually forgot 
the tapestry. The terrace was laid out as a vineyard, the vines 
trellised on the top of stone columns ; at one end stood a clump 
of trees, pines, and a big ilex and a walnut, whose shrivelled leaves 
already strewed the grass. To the back stood a tiny little house 
all built of shining marble, with two large rounded windows 
divided by delicate pillars, of the sort (as Alberic later learned) 
which people built in the barbarous days of the Goths. Among 
the vines, which formed a vast arbour, were growing, in open 
spaces, large orange and lemon trees, and flowering bushes of 
rosemary, and pale pink roses. And in front of the house, under 

a great 

302 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

a great umbrella pine, was a well, with an arch over it and a 
bucket hanging to a chain. 

Alberic wandered about in the vineyard, and then slowly 
mounted the marble staircase which flanked the white house. 
There was no one in it. The two or three small upper chambers 
stood open, and on their blackened floor were heaped sacks, and 
faggots, and fodder, and all manner of coloured seeds. The un- 
glazed windows stood open, framing in between their white pillars 
a piece of deep blue sea. For there, below, but seen over the 
tops of the olive trees and the green leaves of the oranges and 
lemons, stretched the sea, deep blue, speckled with white sails, 
bounded by pale blue capes and arched over by a dazzling pale 
blue sky. From the lower story there rose faint sounds of cattle, 
and a fresh, sweet smell as of cut grass and herbs and cool 
ness, which Alberic had never known before. 

How long did Alberic stand at that window ? He was startled by 
what he took to be steps close behind him, and a rustle as of silk. 
But the rooms were empty, and he could see nothing moving among 
the stacked up fodder and seeds. Still, the sounds seemed to recur, 
but now outside, and he thought he heard someone in a very low 
voice call his name. He descended into the vineyard ; he walked 
round every tree and every shrub, and climbed upon the broken 
masses of rose-coloured masonry, crushing the scented rag-wort 
and peppermint with which they were overgrown. But all was 
still and empty. Only, from far, far below, there rose a stave of 
peasant s song. 

The great gold balls of oranges, and the delicate yellow 
lemons, stood out among their glossy green against the deep 
blue of the sea ; the long bunches of grapes, hung, filled with 
sunshine, like clusters of rubies and jacinths and topazes, from the 
trellis which patterned the pale blue sky. But Alberic felt not 


By Vernon Lee 303 

hunger, but sudden thirst, and mounted the three broken marble 
steps of the well. By its side was a long narrow trough of 
marble, such as stood in the court at Luna, and which, 
Alberic had been told, people had used as coffins in pagan times. 
This one was evidently intended to receive water from the well, 
for it had a mask in the middle, with a spout ; but it was quite 
dry and full of wild herbs and even of pale, prickly roses. There 
were garlands carved upon it, and people twisting snakes about 
them ; and the carving was picked out with golden brown minute 
mosses. Alberic looked at it, for it pleased him greatly ; and then 
he lowered the bucket into the deep well, and drank. The well was 
very, very deep. Its inner sides were covered, as far as you could 
see, with long delicate weeds like pale green hair, but this faded 
away in the darkness. At the bottom was a bright space, 
reflecting the sky, but looking like some subterranean country. 
Alberic, as he bent over, was startled by suddenly seeing what 
seemed a face filling up part of that shining circle ; but he 
remembered it must be his own reflection, and felt ashamed. So, 
to give himself courage, he bent over again, and sang his own 
name to the image. But instead of his own boyish voice he was 
answered by wonderful tones, high and deep alternately, running 
through the notes of a long, long cadence, as he had heard them 
on holidays at the Ducal Chapel at Luna. 

When he had slaked his thirst, Alberic was about to unchain 
the bucket, when there was a rustle hard by, and a sort of little 
hiss, and there rose from the carved trough, from among the 
weeds and roses, and glided on to the brick of the well, a long, 
green, glittering thing. Alberic recognised it to be a snake ; 
only, he had no idea it had such a flat, strange little head and such 
a long forked tongue, for the lady on the tapestry was a woman 
from the waist upwards. It sat on the opposite side of the well, 


304 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

moving its long neck in his direction, and fixing him with its 
small golden eyes. Then, slowly, it began to glide round the well 
circle towards him. Perhaps it wants to drink, thought Alberic, 
and tipped the bronze pitcher in its direction. But the creature 
glided past, and came around and rubbed itself against Alberic s 
hand. The boy was not afraid, for he knew nothing about 
snakes ; but he started, for, on this hot day, the creature was icy 
cold. But then he felt sorry. "It must be dreadful to be always 
so cold," he said, " come, try and get warm in my pocket." 

But the snake merely rubbed itself against his coat, and then 
disappeared back into the carved sarcophagus. 


Duke Balthasar Maria, as we have seen, was famous for his 
unfading youth, and much of his happiness and pride was due to 
this delightful peculiarity. Any comparison, therefore, which 
might diminish it was distasteful to the ever young sovereign of 
Luna ; and when his son had died with mysterious suddenness, 
Duke Balthasar Maria s grief had been tempered by the consolatory 
fact that he was now the youngest man at his own court. This 
very natural feeling explains why the Duke of Luna had put 
behind him for several years the fact of having a grandson, painful 
because implying that he was of an age to be a grandfather. He 
had done his best, and succeeded not badly, to forget Alberic 
while the latter abode under his own roof; and now that the boy 
had been sent away to a distance, he forgot him entirely for the 
space of several years. 

But Balthasar Maria s three chief counsellors had no such 
reason for forgetfulness ; and so in turn, each unknown to the 


By Vernon Lee 305 

other, the Jesuit, the Dwarf, and the Jester, sent spies to the 
Castle of Sparkling Waters, and even secretly visited that place in 
person. For by the coincidence of genius, the mind of each of 
these profound politicians, had been illuminated by the same 
remarkable thought, to wit : that Duke Balthasar Maria, unnatural 
as it seemed, would some day have to die, and Prince Alberic, 
if still alive, become duke in his stead. Those were the times of 
subtle statecraft ; and the Jesuit, the Dwarf, and the Jester were 
notable statemen even in their day. So each of them had 
provided himself with a scheme, which, in order to be thoroughly 
artistic, was twofold, and so to speak, double-barrelled. Alberic 
might live or he might die, and therefore Alberic must be turned 
to profit in either case. If, to invert the chances, Alberic should 
die before coming to the throne, the Jesuit, the Dwarf, and the 
Jester had each privately determined to represent this death as 
purposely brought about by himself for the benefit of one of three 
Powers which would claim the Duchy in case of extinction of the 
male line. The Jesuit had chosen to attribute the murder to 
devotion to the Holy See ; the Dwarf had preferred to appear 
active in favour of the King of Spain, and the Jester had decided 
that he would lay claim to the gratitude of the Emperor ; the 
very means which each would pretend to have used had been 
thought out : poison in each case ; only while the Dwarf had 
selected arsenic, taken through a pair of perfumed gloves, and the 
Jester pounded diamonds mixed in champagne, the Jesuit had 
modestly adhered to the humble cup of chocolate, which whether 
real or fictitious, had always stood his order in such good stead. 
Thus had each of these wily courtiers disposed of Alberic in case 
that he should die. 

There remained the alternative of Alberic continuing to live ; 
and for this the three rival statesmen were also prepared. If 


306 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

Alberic lived, it was obvious that he must be made to select one 
of the three as his sole minister ; and banish, imprison, or put to 
death the other two. For this purpose it was necessary to secure 
his affection by gifts, until he should be old enough to understand 
that he had actually owed his life to the passionate loyalty of the 
Jesuit, or the Dwarf, or the Jester, each of whom had saved him 
from the atrocious enterprises of the other two counsellors of 
Balthasar Maria, nay, who knows ? perhaps from the malignity 
of Balthasar Maria himself. 

In accordance with these subtle machinations, each of the three 
statesmen determined to outwit his rivals by sending young 
Alberic such things as would appeal most strongly to a poor 
young prince living in banishment among peasants, and wholly 
unsupplied with pocket-money. The Jesuit expended a consider 
able sum on books, magnificently bound with the arms of Luna ; 
the Dwarf prepared several suits of tasteful clothes ; and the 
Jester selected, with infinite care, a horse of equal and perfect 
gentleness and mettle. And, unknown to one another, but much 
about the same period, each of the statesmen sent his present 
most secretly to Alberic. Imagine the astonishment and wrath 
of the Jesuit, the Dwarf, and the Jester, when each saw his 
messenger come back from Sparkling Waters, with his gift 
returned, and the news that Prince Alberic was already supplied 
with a complete library, a handsome wardrobe and not one, but 
two horses of the finest breed and training ; nay, more unexpected 
still, that while returning the gifts to their respective donors, he 
had rewarded the messengers with splendid liberality. 

The result of this amazing discovery was much the same in the 
mind of the Jesuit, the Dwarf, and the Jester. Each instantly 
suspected one or both of his rivals ; then, on second thoughts, 
determined to change the present to one of the other items (horse, 


By Vernon Lee 307 

clothes, or books, as the case might be) little suspecting that each 
of them had been supplied already ; and, on further reflection, 
began to doubt the reality of the whole business, to suspect 
connivance of the messengers, intended insult on the part of the 
prince, and decided to trust only to the evidence of his own eyes 
in the matter. 

Accordingly, within the same few months, the Jesuit, the 
Dwarf, and the Jester, feigned grievous illness to their Ducal 
Master, and while everybody thought them safe in bed in the 
Red Palace at Luna, hurried, on horseback, or in a litter, or in a 
coach, to the Castle of Sparkling Waters. 

The scene with the peasant and his family, young Alberic s 
host, was identical on the three occasions ; and, as the farmer saw 
that these personages were equally willing to pay liberally for 
absolute secrecy, he very consistently swore to supply that 
desideratum to each of the three great functionaries. And 
similarly, in all three cases, it was deemed preferable to see the 
young prince first from a hiding place, before asking leave to pay 
their respects. 

The Dwarf, who was the first in the field, was able to hide 
very conveniently in one of the cut velvet plumes which sur 
mounted Alberic s four-post bedstead, and to observe the young 
prince as he changed his apparel. But he scarcely recognised the 
Duke s grandson. Alberic was sixteen, but far taller and stronger 
than his age would warrant. His figure was at once manly and 
delicate, and full of grace and vigour of movement. His long 
hair, the colour of floss silk, fell in wavy curls, which seemed to 
imply almost a woman s care and coquetry. His hands also, 
though powerful, were, as the Dwarf took note, of princely form 
and whiteness. As to his garments, the open doors of his ward 
robe displayed every variety that a young prince could need ; and, 


308 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

while the Dwarf was watching, he was exchanging a russet and 
purple hunting dress, cut after the Hungarian fashion with cape and 
hood, and accompanied by a cap crowned with peacock s feathers, 
for a habit of white and silver, trimmed with Venetian lace, in 
which he intended to honour the wedding of one of the farmer s 
daughters. Never, in his most genuine youth, had Balthasar 
Maria, the ever young and handsome, been one quarter as beautiful 
in person or as delicate in apparel as his grandson in exile among 
poor country folk. 

The Jesuit, in his turn, came to verify his messenger s extra 
ordinary statements. Through the gap between two rafters he 
was enabled to look down on to Prince Alberic in his study. 
Magnificently bound books lined the walls of the closet, and 
in this gap hung valuable maps and prints. On the table were 
heaped several open volumes, among globes both terrestrial and 
celestial, and Alberic himself was leaning on the arm of a great 
chair, reciting the verses of Virgil in a most graceful chant. 
Never had the Jesuit seen a better-appointed study nor a more 
precocious young scholar. 

As regards the Jester, he came at the very moment that Alberic 
was returning from a ride ; and, having begun life as an acrobat, 
he was able to climb into a large ilex which commanded an excel 
lent view of the Castle yard. Alberic was mounted on a splendid jet- 
black barb, magnificently caparisoned in crimson and gold Spanish 
trappings. His groom for he even had a groom was riding a horse 
only a shade less perfect : it was white and he was black a splendid 
negro such as great princes only own. When Alberic came in 
sight of the farmer s wife, who stood shelling peas on the door 
step, he waved his hat with infinite grace, caused his horse to 
caracole and rear three times in salutation, picked an apple up 
while cantering round the Castle yard, threw it in the air with 


By Vernon Lee 309 

his sword and cut it in two as it descended, and did a number of 
-similar feats such as are taught only to the most brilliant cavaliers. 
Now, as he was going to dismount, a branch of the ilex cracked, 
the black barb reared, and Alberic, looking up, perceived the 
Jester moving in the tree. 

" A wonderful parti-coloured bird ! " he exclaimed, and seized 
the fowling-piece that hung by his saddle. But before he had 
time to fire the Jester had thrown himself down and alighted, 
making three somersaults, on the ground. 

" My Lord," said the Jester, " you see before you a faithful 
subject who, braving the threats and traps of your enemies, and, 
I am bound to add, risking also your Highness s sovereign dis 
pleasure, has been determined to see his Prince once more, to 
have the supreme happiness of seeing him at last clad and equipped 
and mounted . . . ." 

" Enough ! " interrupted Alberic sternly. " Say no more. 
You would have me believe that it is to you I owe my 
horses and books and clothes, even as the Dwarf and the Jesuit 
tried to make me believe about themselves last month. Know, 
then, that Alberic of Luna requires gifts from none of you. 
And now, most miserable councillor of my unhappy grandfather, 
begone ! " 

The Jester checked his rage, and tried, all the way back to 
Luna, to get at some solution of this intolerable riddle. The 
Jesuit and the Dwarf the scoundrels had been trying their hand 
then ! Perhaps, indeed, it was their blundering which had ruined 
his own perfectly concocted scheme. But for their having come 
and claimed gratitude for gifts they had not made, Alberic would 
perhaps have believed that the Jester had not merely offered the 
horse which was refused, but had actually given the two which 
had been accepted, and the books and clothes (since there had been 


310 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

books and clothes given) into the bargain. But then, had not 
Alberic spoken as if he were perfectly sure from what quarter all 
his possessions had come ? This reminded the Jester of the allusion 
to the Duke Balthasar Maria ; Alberic had spoken of him as 
unhappy. Was it, could it be, possible that the treacherous old 
wretch had been keeping up relations with his grandson in secret, 
afraid for he was a miserable coward at bottom both of the 
wrath of his three counsellors, and of the hatred of his grandson ? 
Was it possible, thought the Jester, that not only the Jesuit and 
the Dwarf, but the Duke of Luna also, had been intriguing 
against him round young Prince Alberic ? Balthasar Maria was 
quite capable of it ; he might be enjoying the trick he was playing 
to his three masters for they were his masters ; he might be 
preparing to turn suddenly upon them with his long neglected 
grandson like a sword to smite them. On the other hand, might 
this not be a mere mistake and supposition on the part of Prince 
Alberic, who, in his silly dignity, preferred to believe in the liber 
ality of his ducal grandfather than in that of his grandfather s 
servants ? Might the horses, and all the rest, not really be the 
gift of either the Dwarf or the Jesuit, although neither had got 
the credit for it ? " No, no," exclaimed the Jester, for he hated 
his fellow servants worse than his master, " anything better than 
that ! Rather a thousand times that it were the Duke himself 
who had outwitted them." 

Then, in his bitterness, having gone over the old arguments 
again and again, some additional circumstances returned to his 
memory. The black groom was deaf and dumb, and the peasants 
it appeared, had been quite unable to extract any information from 
him. But he had arrived with those particular horses only a few 
months ago ; a gift, the peasants had thought, from the old Duke 
of Luna. But Alberic, they had said, had possessed other horses 


By Vernon Lee 3 1 1 

before, which they had also thus taken for granted, must have come 
from the Red Palace. And the clothes and books had been 
accumulating, it appeared, ever since the Prince s arrival in his place 
of banishment. Since this was the case, the plot, whether on the part 
of the Jesuit or the Dwarf, or on that of the Duke himself, had been 
going on for years before the Jester had bestirred himself! More 
over, the Prince not only possessed horses, but he had learned to 
ride ; he not only had books, but he had learned to read, and even to 
read various tongues ; and finally, the Prince was not only clad 
in princely garments, but he was every inch of him a Prince. He 
had then been consorting with other people than the peasants at 
Sparkling Waters. He must have been away or someone 
must have come. He had not been living in solitude. 

But when how and above all, who ? 

And again the baffled Jester revolved the probabilities concerning 
the Dwarf, the Jesuit, and the Duke. It must be it could be no 
other it evidently could only be. ... 

"Ah!" exclaimed the unhappy diplomatist; "if only one 
could believe in magic ! " 

And it suddenly struck him, with terror and mingled relief, 
"Was it magic ? " 

But the Jester, like the Dwarf and the Jesuit, and the Duke of 
Luna himself, was altogether superior to such foolish beliefs. 


The young Prince of Luna had never attempted to learn the 
story of Alberic the Blond and the Snake Lady. Children some 
times conceive an inexplicable shyness, almost a dread, of knowing 
more on subjects which are uppermost in their thoughts ; and 


312 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

such had been the case of Duke Balthasar Maria s grandson. 
Ever since the memorable morning when the ebony crucifix had 
been removed from in front of the faded tapestry, and the whole 
figure of the Snake Lady had been for the first time revealed, 
scarcely a day had passed without there coming to the boy s mind 
his nurse s words about his ancestor Alberic and the Snake Lady 
Oriana. But, even as he had asked no questions then, so he had 
asked no questions since ; shrinking more and more from all 
further knowledge of the matter. He had never questioned his 
nurse, he had never questioned the peasants of Sparkling Waters, 
although the story, he felt quite sure, must be well known among 
the ruins of Alberic the Blond s own castle. Nay, stranger 
still, he had never mentioned the subject to his dear Godmother, 
to whom he had learned to open his heart about all things, and 
who had taught him all that he knew. 

For the Duke s Jester had guessed rightly that, during these 
years at Sparkling Waters, the young Prince had not consorted 
solely with peasants. The very evening after his arrival, as he 
was sitting by the marble well in the vineyard, looking towards 
the sea, he had felt a hand placed lightly on his shoulder, and 
looked up into the face of a beautiful lady veiled in green. 

" Do not be afraid," she had said, smiling at his terror. " I am 
not a ghost, but alive like you ; and I am, though you do not 
know it, your Godmother. My dwelling is close to this castle, 
and I shall come every evening to play and talk with you, here by 
the little white palace with the pillars, where the fodder is stacked. 
Only, you must remember that I do so against the wishes of your 
grandfather and all his friends, and that if ever you mention me 
to anyone, or allude in any way to our meetings, I shall be 
obliged to leave the neighbourhood, and you will never see 
me again. Some day when you are big you will learn why ; 


By Vernon Lee 315 

till then you must take me on trust. And now what shall we 
play at ? " 

And thus his Godmother had come every evening at sunset ; 
just for an hour and no more, and had taught the poor solitary 
little prince to play (for he had never played) and to read, and to 
manage a horse, and, above all, to love : for, except the old 
tapestry in the Red Palace, he had never loved anything in the 

Alberic told his dear Godmother everything, beginning with 
the story of the two pieces of tapestry, the one they had taken 
away and the one he had cut to pieces ; and he asked her about 
all the things he ever wanted to know, and she was always able to 
answer. Only, about two things they were silent : she never told 
him her name nor where she lived, nor whether Duke Balthasar 
Maria knew her (the boy guessed that she had been a friend of his 
father s); and Alberic never revealed the fact that the tapestry 
had represented his ancestor and the beautiful Oriana ; for, even 
to his dear Godmother, and most perhaps to her, he found it 
impossible even to mention Alberic the Blond and the Snake 

But the story, or rather the name of the story he did not know,, 
never loosened its hold on Alberic s mind. Little by little, as he 
grew up, it came to add to his life two friends, of whom he never 
told his Godmother. They were, to be sure, of such sort, 
however different, that a boy might find it difficult to speak about 
without feeling foolish. The first of the two friends was his own 
ancestor, Alberic the Blond j and the second that large tame grass 
snake whose acquaintance he had made the day after his arrival at 
the castle. About Alberic the Blond he knew indeed but little, 
save that he had reigned in Luna many hundreds of years ago, and 
that he had been a very brave and glorious prince indeed, who had 


314 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

helped to conquer the Holy Sepulchre with Godfrey and Tancred 
and the other heroes of Tasso. But, perhaps in proportion to this 
vagueness, Alberic the Blond served to personify all the notions of 
chivalry which the boy had learned from his Godmother, and 
those which bubbled up in his own breast. Nay, little by little 
the young Prince began to take his unknown ancestor as a model, 
and in a confused way, to identify himself with him. For was 
he not fair-haired too, and Prince of Luna, Alberic^ third of the 
name, as the other had been first ? Perhaps for this reason he 
could never speak of this ancestor with his Godmother. She 
might think it presumptuous and foolish ; besides, she might 
perhaps tell him things about Alberic the Blond which might hurt 
him ; the poor young Prince, who had compared the splendid 
reputation of his own grandfather with the miserable reality, had 
grown up precociously sceptical. As to the Snake, with whom he 
played everyday in the grass, and who was his only companion 
during the many hours of his Godmother s absence, he would 
willingly have spoken of her, and had once been on the point of 
doing so, but he had noticed that the mere name of such creatures 
seemed to be odious to his Godmother. Whenever, in their 
readings, they came across any mention of serpents, his Godmother 
would exclaim, " Let us skip that," with a look of intense pain 
in her usually cheerful countenance. It was a pity, Alberic 
thought, that so lovely and dear a lady should feel such hatred 
towards any living creature, particularly towards a kind, which 
like his own tame grass snake, was perfectly harmless. But he 
loved her too much to dream of thwarting her ; and he was very 
grateful to his tame snake for having the tact never to show 
herself at the hour of his Godmother s visits. 

But to return to the story represented on the dear, faded 
tapestry in the Red Palace. 


By Vernon Lee 315 

When Prince Alberic, unconscious to himself, was beginning 
to turn into a full-grown and gallant-looking youth, a change 
began to take place in him, and it was about the story of his an 
cestor and the Lady Oriana. He thought of it more than ever, 
and it began to haunt his dreams ; only it was now a vaguely 
painful thought, and, while dreading still to know more, he began 
to experience a restless, miserable, craving to know all. His 
curiosity was like a thorn in his flesh, working its way in and in ; 
and it seemed something almost more than curiosity. And yet, 
he was still shy and frightened of the subject ; nay, the greater 
his craving to know, the greater grew a strange certainty that 
the knowing would be accompanied by evil. So, although many 
people could have answered the very peasants, the fishermen of 
the coast, and first, and foremost, his Godmother he let months 
pass before he asked the question. 

It, and the answer, came of a sudden. 

There occasionally came to Sparkling Waters an old man, who 
united in his tattered person the trades of mending crockery and 
reciting fairy tales. He would seat himself, in summer, under 
the spreading fig tree in the castle yard, and in winter, by the 
peasants deep, black chimney, alternately boring holes in pipkins, 
or gluing plate edges, and singing, in a cracked, nasal voice, but 
not without dignity and charm of manner, the stories of the King 
of Portugal s Cowherd, of the Feathers of the Griffin, or some 
of the many stanzas of Orlando or Jerusalem Delivered, which he 
knew by heart. Our young Prince had always avoided him, partly 
from a vague fear of a mention of his ancestor and the Snake Lady, 
and partly because of something vaguely sinister in the old man s 
eye. But now he awaited with impatience the vagrant s periodical 
return, and on one occasion, summoned him to his own chamber. 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. T Sing 

3i 6 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

"Sing me," he commanded, "the story of Alberic the Blond 
and the Snake Lady." 

The old man hesitated, and answered with a strange look : 

"My lord, I do not know it." 

A sudden feeling, such as the youth had never experienced 
before, seized hold of Alberic. He did not recognise himself. 
He saw and heard himself, as if it were some one else, nod first at 
some pieces of gold, of those his godmother had given him, and 
then at his fowling piece hung on the wall ; and as he did so, he 
had a strange thought : " I must be mad." B ut he merely said, 
sternly : 

" Old man, that is not true. Sing that story at once, if you 
value my money and your safety." 

The vagrant took his white-bearded chin in his hand, mused, 
and then, fumbling among the files and drills and pieces of wire 
in his tool basket, which made a faint metallic accompaniment, 
he slowly began to chant the following stanzas : 


Now listen, courteous Prince, to what befel your ancestor, the 
valorous Alberic, returning from the Holy Land. 

Already a year had passed since the strongholds of Jerusalem had 
fallen beneath the blows of the faithful, and since the sepulchre of 
Christ had been delivered from the worshippers of Macomet. The 
great Godfrey was enthroned as its guardian, and the mighty 
barons, his companions, were wending their way homewards : 
Tancred, and Bohemund, and Reynold, and the rest. 

The valorous Alberic, the honour of Luna, after many perilous 
adventures, brought by the anger of the Wizard Macomet, 


By Vernon Lee 317 

was shipwrecked on his homeward way, and cast, alone of 
all his great following, upon the rocky shore of an unknown 
island. He wandered long about, among woods and pleasant 
pastures, but without ever seeing any signs of habitation ; 
nourishing himself solely on the berries and clear water, and taking 
his rest in the green grass beneath the trees. At length, after 
some days of wandering, he came to a dense forest, the like of 
which he had never seen before, so deep was its shade and so 
tangled were its boughs. He broke the branches with his iron- 
gloved hand, and the air became filled with the croaking and 
screeching of dreadful night-birds. He pushed his way with 
shoulder and knee, trampling the broken leafage under foot, and 
the air was filled with the roaring of monstrous lions and tigers. 
He grasped his sharp double-edged sword and hewed through the 
interlaced branches, and the air was filled with the shrieks and 
sobs of a vanquished city. But the Knight of Luna went on, 
undaunted, cutting his way through the enchanted wood. And 
behold ! as he issued thence, there rose before him a lordly castle, 
as of some great prince, situate in a pleasant meadow among 
running streams. And as Alberic approached the portcullis was 
raised, and the drawbridge lowered ; and there arose sounds of fifes 
and bugles, but nowhere could he descry any living creature around. 
And Alberic entered the castle, and found therein guardrooms full 
of shining arms, and chambers spread with rich stuffs, and a 
banquetting hall, with a great table laid and a chair of state at the 
end. And as he entered a concert of invisible voices and instru 
ments greeted him sweetly, and called him by name, and bid him 
be welcome ; but not a living soul did he see. So he sat him down 
at the table, and as he did so, invisible hands filled his cup and his 
plate, and ministered to him with delicacies of all sorts. Now, 
when the good knight had eaten and drunken his fill, he drank to 


318 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

the health of his unknown host, declaring himself the servant 
thereof with his sword and heart. After which, weary with 
wandering, he prepared to take rest on the carpets which strewed 
the ground ; but invisible hands unbuckled his armour, and clad 
him in silken robes, and led him to a couch all covered with rose- 
leaves. And when he had laid himself down, the concert of 
invisible singers and players put him to sleep with their melodies. 

It was the hour of sunset when the valorous Baron awoke, and 
buckled on his armour, and hung on his thigh his great sword 
Brillamorte ; and the invisible hands helped him once more. 

And the Knight of Luna went all over the enchanted castle, 
and found all manner of rarities, treasures of precious stones, such 
as great kings possess, and store of gold and silver vessels, and 
rich stuffs, and stables full of fiery coursers ready caparisoned j 
but never a human creature anywhere. And, wondering more 
and more, he went forth into the orchard, which lay within the 
walls of the castle. And such another orchard, sure, was never 
seen, since that in which the hero Hercules found the three golden 
apples and slew the great dragon. For you might see in this 
place fruit trees of all kinds, apples and pears, and peaches and 
plums, and the goodly orange, which bore at the same time fruit 
and delicate and scented blossom. And all around were set 
hedges of roses, whose scent was even like heaven ; and there 
were other flowers of all kinds, those into which the vain Narcissus 
turned through love of himself, and those which grew, they tell 
us, from the blood-drops of fair Venus s minion ; and lilies of 
which that Messenger carried a sheaf who saluted the Meek 
Damsel, glorious above all womankind. And in the trees sang 
innumerable birds ; and others, of unknown breed, joined melody 
in hanging cages and aviaries. And in the orchard s midst was 
set a fountain, the most wonderful ever made, its waters running 


By Vernon Lee 319 

in green channels among the flowered grass. For that fountain 
was made in the likeness of twin naked maidens, dancing together, 
and pouring water out of pitchers as they did so ; and the maidens 
were of fine silver, and the pitchers of wrought gold, and the 
whole so cunningly contrived by magic art that the maidens really 
moved and danced with the waters they were pouring out : a 
wonderful work, most truly. And when the Knight of Luna had 
feasted his eyes upon this marvel, he saw among the grass, beneath 
a flowering almond tree, a sepulchre of marble, cunningly carved 
and gilded, on which was written, " Here is imprisoned the Fairy 
Oriana, most miserable of all fairies, condemned for no fault, but 
by envious powers, to a dreadful fate," and as he read, the in 
scription changed, and the sepulchre showed these words : " O 
Knight of Luna, valorous Alberic, if thou wouldst show thy 
gratitude to the hapless mistress of this castle, summon up thy 
redoubtable courage, and, whatsoever creature issue from my 
marble heart, swear thou to kiss it three times on the mouth, that 
Oriana may be released." 

And Alberic drew his great sword, and on its hilt, shaped like a 
cross, he swore. 

Then wouldst thou have heard a terrible sound of thunder, and 
seen the castle walls rock. But Alberic, nothing daunted, repeats 
in a loud voice, " I swear," and instantly that sepulchre s lid up 
heaves, and there issues thence and rises up a great green snake, 
wearing a golden crown, and raises itself and fawns towards the 
valorous Knight of Luna. And Alberic starts and recoils in 
terror. For rather, a thousand times, confront alone the armed 
hosts of all the heathen, than put his lips to that cold, creeping 
beast ! And the serpent looks at Alberic with great gold eyes, 
and big tears issue thence, and it drops prostrate on the grass, and 
Alberic summons courage and approaches ; but when the serpent 


320 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

glides along his arm, a horror takes him, and he falls back unable. 
And the tears stream from the snake s golden eyes, and moans 
come from its mouth. 

And Alberic runs forward, and seizes the serpent in both 
hands, and lifts it up, and three times presses his hot lips against 
its cold and slippery skin, shutting his eyes in horror, and when 
the Knight of Luna opens them again, behold! O wonder! in 
his arms no longer a dreadful snake, but a damsel, richly dressed 
and beautiful beyond comparison. 


Young Alberic sickened that very night, and lay for many days 
with raging fever. The peasant s wife and a good neighbouring 
priest nursed him unhelped, for when the messenger they sent 
arrived at Luna, Duke Balthasar was busy rehearsing a grand 
ballet in which he himself danced the part of Phoebus Apollo; 
and the ducal physician was therefore despatched to Sparkling 
Waters only when the young prince was already recovering. 

Prince Alberic undoubtedly passed through a very bad illness,, 
and went fairly out of his mind for fever and ague. 

He raved so dreadfully in his delirium about enchanted 
tapestries and terrible grottoes, Twelve Caesars with rolling eye 
balls, barbers blocks with perukes on them, monkeys of verde 
antique, and porphyry rhinoceroses, and all manner of hellish 
creatures, that the good priest began to suspect a case of demoniac 
possession, and caused candles to be kept lighted all day and all 
night, and holy water to be sprinkled, and a printed form of 
exorcism, absolutely sovereign in such trouble, to be nailed 
against the bed-post. On the fourth day the young prince fell 


By Vernon Lee 321 

into a profound sleep, from which he awaked in apparent pos 
session of his faculties. 

"Then you are not the porphyry rhinoceros?" he said, very 
slowly as his eye fell upon the priest ; " and this is my own dear 
little room at Sparkling Waters, though I do not understand all 
those candles. I thought it was the great hall in the Red 
Palace, and that all those animals of precious marbles, and my 
grandfather, the duke, in his bronze and gold robes, were beating 
me and my tame snake to death with Harlequin s laths. It was 
terrible. But now I see it was all fancy and delirium." 

The poor youth gave a sigh of relief, and feebly caressed the 
rugged old hand of the priest, which lay on his counterpane. 
The prince lay for a long while motionless, but gradually a 
strange light came into his eyes, and a smile on to his lips. 
Presently he made a sign that the peasants should leave the room, 
and taking once more the good priest s hand, he looked solemnly 
in his eyes, and spoke in an earnest voice. " My father," he said, 
" I have seen and heard strange things in my sickness, and I 
cannot tell for certain now what belongs to the reality of my 
previous life, and what is merely the remembrance of delirium. 
On this I would fain be enlightened. Promise me, my father, 
to answer my questions truly, for this is a matter of the welfare of 
my soul, and therefore of your own." 

The priest nearly jumped on his chair. So he had been right. 
The demons had been trying to tamper with the poor young 
prince, and now he was going to have a fine account of it all. 

" My son," he murmured, " as I hope for the spiritual welfare 
of both of us, I promise to answer all your interrogations to the 
best of my powers. Speak them without hesitation." 

Alberic hesitated for a moment, and his eyes glanced from one 
long lit taper to the other. 


322 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

"In that case," he said, slowly, "let me conjure you, my 
father, to tell me whether or not there exists a certain tradition in 
my family, of the loves of my ancestor, Alberic the Blond, with a 
certain Snake Lady, and how he was unfaithful to her, and failed 
to disenchant her, and how a second Alberic, also my ancestor, 
loved this same Snake Lady, but failed before the ten years of 
fidelity were over, and became a monk. . . . Does such a story 
exist, or have I imagined it all during my sickness?" 

"My son," replied the good priest, testily, for he was most 
horribly disappointed by this speech, " it is scarce fitting that a 
young prince but just escaped from the jaws of death and, 
perhaps, even from the insidious onslaught of the Evil One 
should give his mind to idle tales like these." 

" Call them what you choose," answered the prince, gravely, 
" but remember your promise, father. Answer me truly, and 
presume not to question my reasons." 

The priest started. What a hasty ass he had been ! Why 
these were probably the demons talking out of Alberic s mouth, 
causing him to ask silly irrelevant questions in order to prevent a 
good confession. Such were notoriously among their stock 
tricks ! But he would outwit them. If only it were possible to 
summon up St. Paschal Baylon, that new fashionable saint who 
had been doing such wonders with devils lately ! But St. 
Paschal Baylon required not only that you should say several 
rosaries, but that you should light four candles on a table and lay 
a supper for two ; after that there was nothing he would not do. 
So the priest hastily seized two candlesticks from the foot of the 
bed, and called to the peasant s wife to bring a clean napkin and 
plates and glasses ; and meanwhile endeavoured to detain the 
demons by answering the poor prince s foolish chatter, "Your 
ancestors, the two Alberics a tradition in your Serene family 


By Vernon Lee 323 

yes, my Lord there is such let me see, how does the story go ? 

ah yes this demon, I mean this Snake Lady was a what 
they call a fairy or witch, malefica or stryx is, I believe, the 
proper Latin expression who had been turned into a snake for 
her sins good woman, woman, is it possible you cannot be a 
little quicker in bringing those plates for his Highness s supper ? 
The Snake Lady let me see was to cease altogether being a 
snake if a cavalier remained faithful to her for ten years ; and at 
any rate turned into a woman every time a cavalier was found 
who had the courage to give her a kiss as if she were not a snake 

a disagreeable thing, besides being mortal sin. As I said just 
now, this enabled her to resume temporarily her human shape, 
which is said to have been fair enough ; but how can one tell ? I 
believe she was allowed to change into a woman for an hour at 
sunset, in any case and without anybody kissing her, but only for 
an hour. A very unlikely story, my Lord, and not a very moral 
one to my thinking ! " 

And the good priest spread the table-cloth over the table, 
wondering secretly when the plates and glasses for St. Paschal 
Baylon would make their appearance. If only the demon could 
be prevented from beating a retreat before all was ready ! " To 
return to the story about which your Highness is pleased to 
inquire," he continued, trying to gain time by pretending to 
humour the demon who was asking questions through the poor 
Prince s mouth, " I can remember hearing a poem before I took 
orders a foolish poem too, in a very poor style, if my memory is 
correct that related the manner in which Alberic the Blond met 
this Snake Lady, and disenchanted her by performing the 
ceremony I have alluded to. The poem was frequently sung at fairs 
and similar resorts of the uneducated, and, as remarked, was a 
very inferior composition indeed. Alberic the Blond afterwards 


324 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

came to his senses, it appears, and after abandoning the Snake 
Lady fulfilled his duty as a prince, and married the princess. . . . 
I cannot exactly remember what princess, but it was a very 
suitable marriage, no doubt, from which your Highness is of course 

"As regards the Marquis Alberic, second of the name, of whom 
it is accounted that he died in the odour of sanctity, (and indeed 
it is said that the facts concerning his beatification are being 
studied in the proper quarters), there is a mention in a life of 
Saint Fredevaldus, bishop and patron of Luna, printed at the 
beginning of the present century at Venice, with approbation and 
license of the authorities and inquisition, a mention of the fact 
that this Marquis Alberic the second had contracted, having 
abandoned his lawful wife, a left-handed marriage with this same 
Snake Lady (such evil creatures not being subject to natural death), 
she having induced him thereunto in hope of his proving faithful 
ten years, and by this means restoring her altogether to human 
shape. But a certain holy hermit, having got wind of this 
scandal, prayed to St. Fredevaldus as patron of Luna, whereupon 
St. Fredevaldus, took pity on the Marquis Alberic s sins, and 
appeared to him in a vision at the end of the ninth year of his 
irregular connection with the Snake Lady, and touched his heart 
so thoroughly that he instantly forswore her company, and 
handing the Marquisate over to his mother, abandoned the world 
and entered the order of St. Romuald, in which he died, as 
remarked, in odour of sanctity, in consequence of which the 
present Duke, your Highness s magnificent grandfather, is at this 
moment, as befits so pious a prince, employing his influence with 
the Holy Father for the beatification of so glorious an ancestor. 
And now, my son," added the good priest, suddenly changing his 
tone, for he had got the table ready, and lighted the candles, and 


By Vernon Lee 325 

only required to go through the preliminary invocation of St. 
Paschal Baylon "and now, my son, let your curiosity trouble 
you no more, but endeavour to obtain some rest, and if pos 
sible " 

But the prince interrupted him. 

" One word more, good father," he begged, fixing him with 
earnest eyes, "is it known what has been the fate of the Snake 
Lady ? " 

The impudence of the demons made the priest quite angry, but 
he must not scare them before the arrival of St. Paschal, so he 
controlled himself, and answered slowly by gulps, between the 
lines of the invocation he was mumbling under his breath : 

"My Lord it results from the same life of St. Fredevaldus, 
that . . . (in case of property lost, fire, flood, earthquake, plague) 
. . . that the Snake Lady (thee we invoke, most holy Paschal 
Baylon !). The Snake Lady being of the nature of fairies, cannot 
die unless her head be severed from her trunk, and is still haunting 
the world, together with other evil spirits, in hopes that another 
member of the house of Luna (thee we invoke, most holy 
Paschal Baylon ! ) may succumb to her arts and be faithful to 
her for the ten years needful to her disenchantments (most holy 
Paschal Baylon ! and most of all on thee we call for aid 
against the . . . ) 

But before the priest could finish his invocation, a terrible 
shout came from the bed where the sick prince was lying : 

"O Oriana, Oriana ! " cried Prince Alberic, sitting up in his 
bed with a look which terrified the priest as much as his voice. 
" O Oriana, Oriana ! " he repeated, and then fell back exhausted 
and broken. 

" Bless my soul ! " cried the priest, almost upsetting the table ; 
" why the demon has already issued out of him ! Who would 


326 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

have guessed that St. Paschal Baylon performed his miracles as 
quick as that ! " 


Prince Alberic was awakened by the loud trill of a nightingale. 
The room was bathed in moonlight, in which the tapers, left 
burning round the bed to ward off evil spirits, flickered yellow 
and ineffectual. Through the open casement came, with the 
scent of freshly cut grass, a faint concert of nocturnal sounds : 
the silvery vibration of the cricket, the reedlike quavering notes 
of the leaf frogs, and, every now and then, the soft note of an 
owlet, seeming to stroke the silence as the downy wings growing 
out of the temples of the Sleep god might stroke the air. The 
nightingale had paused ; and Alberic listened breathless for its 
next burst of song. At last, and when he expected it least, it 
came, liquid, loud and triumphant ; so near that it filled the room 
and thrilled through his marrow like an unison of Cremona viols. 
He was singing in the pomegranate close outside, whose first 
buds must be opening into flame-coloured petals. For it was 
May. Alberic listened ; and collected his thoughts, and under 
stood. He arose and dressed, and his limbs seemed suddenly 
strong, and his mind strangely clear, as if his sickness had been 
but a dream. Again the nightingale trilled out, and again stopped. 
Alberic crept noiselessly out of his chamber, down the stairs and 
into the open. Opposite, the moon had just risen, immense and 
golden, and the pines and the cypresses of the hill, the furthest 
battlements of the castle walls, were printed upon her like 
delicate lace. It was so light that the roses were pink, and the 
pomegranate flower scarlet, and the lemons pale yellow, and the grass 
bright green, only differently coloured from how they looked by 


By Vernon Lee 327 

day, and as if washed over with silver. The orchard spread up 
hill, its twigs and separate leaves all glittering as if made of 
diamonds, and its tree trunks and spalliers weaving strange black 
patterns of shadow. A little breeze shuddered up from the sea, 
bringing the scent of the irises grown for their root among the 
cornfields below. The nightingale was silent. But Prince 
Alberic did not stand waiting for its song. A spiral dance of 
fire-flies, rising and falling like a thin gold fountain, beckoned 
him upwards through the dewy grass. The circuit of castle 
walls, jagged and battlemented, and with tufts of trees profiled 
here and there against the resplendent blue pallor of the moon 
light, seemed turned and knotted like huge snakes around the 

Suddenly, again, the nightingale sang ; a throbbing, silver song. 
It was the same bird, Alberic felt sure ; but it was in front of him 
now, and was calling him onwards. The fire-flies wove their 
golden dance a few steps in front, always a few steps in front, and 
drew him up-hill through the orchard. 

As the ground became steeper, the long trellises, black and 
crooked, seemed to twist and glide through the blue moonlight 
grass like black gliding snakes, and, at the top, its marble pillarets, 
clear in the moonlight, slumbered the little Gothic palace of white 
marble. From the solitary sentinel pine broke the song of the 
nightingale. This was the place. A breeze had risen, and from 
the shining moonlit sea, broken into causeways and flotillas of 
smooth and of fretted silver, came a faint briny smell, mingling 
with that of the irises and blossoming lemons, with the scent of 
vague ripeness and freshness. The moon hung like a silver lantern 
over the orchard ; the wood of the trellises patterned the blue 
luminous heaven, the vine leaves seemed to swim, transparent, in 
the shining air. Over the circular well, in the high grass, the 


328 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

fire-flies rose and fell like a thin fountain of gold. And, from the 
sentinel pine, the nightingale sang. 

Prince Alberic leant against the brink of the well, by the trough 
carved with antique designs of serpent-bearing maenads. He was 
wonderfully calm, and his heart sang within him. It was, he 
knew, the hour and place of his fate. 

The nightingale ceased : and the shrill songs of the crickets 
was suspended. The silvery luminous world was silent. 

A quiver came through the grass by the well ; a rustle through 
the roses. And, on the well s brink, encircling its central black 
ness, glided the Snake. 

"Oriana ! " whispered Alberic. " Oriana ! " She paused, and 
stood almost erect. The Prince put out his hand, and she twisted 
round his arm, extending slowly her chilly coil to his wrist and 

" Oriana ! " whispered Prince Alberic again. And raising his 
hand to his face, he leaned down and pressed his lips on the little 
flat head of the serpent. And the nightingale sang. But a 
coldness seized his heart, the moon seemed suddenly extinguished, 
and he slipped away in unconsciousness. 

When he awoke the moon was still high. The nightingale 
was singing its loudest. He lay in the grass by the well, and his 
head rested on the knees of the most beautiful of ladies. She was 
dressed in cloth of silver which seemed woven of moon mists, and 
shimmering moonlit green grass. It was his own dear God 


When Duke Balthasar Maria had got through the rehearsals of 
the ballet called Daphne Transformed, and finally danced his 


By Vernon Lee 329 

part of Phoebus Apollo to the infinite delight and glory of his 
subjects, he was greatly concerned, being benignly humoured, on 
learning that he had very nearly lost his grandson and heir. The 
Dwarf, the Jesuit, and the Jester, whom he delighted in pitting 
against one another, had severely accused each other of disrespectful 
remarks about the dancing of that ballet; so Duke Balthasar 
determined to disgrace all three together and inflict upon them 
the hated presence of Prince Alberic. It was, after all, very 
pleasant to possess a young grandson, whom one could take to 
one s bosom and employ in being insolent to one s own favourites. 
It was time, said Duke Balthasar, that Alberic should learn the 
habits of a court and take unto himself a suitable princess. 

The young prince accordingly was sent for from Sparkling 
Waters, and installed at Luna in a wing of the Red Palace, over 
looking the Court of Honour, and commanding an excellent view 
of the great rockery, with the verde antique apes and the 
porphyry rhinoceros. He found awaiting him on the great stair 
case a magnificent staff" of servants, a master of the horse, a grand 
cook, a barber, a hairdresser and assistant, a fencing master, and 
four fiddlers. Several lovely ladies of the Court, the principal 
ministers of the Crown and the Jesuit, the Dwarf and the Jester, 
were also ready to pay their respects. Prince Alberic threw him 
self out of the glass coach before they had time to open the door, 
and bowing coldly, ascended the staircase, carrying under his 
cloak what appeared to be a small wicker cage. The Jesuit, who 
was the soul of politeness, sprang forward and signed to an officer 
of the household to relieve his highness of this burden. But 
Alberic waved the man off; and the rumour went abroad that a 
hissing noise had issued from under the prince s cloak, and, like 
lightning, the head and forked tongue of a serpent. 

Half-an-hour later the official spies had informed Duke 


33 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

Balthasar that his grandson and heir had brought from Sparkling 
Waters no apparent luggage save two swords, a fowling piece, a 
volume of Virgil, a branch of pomegranate blossom, and a tame 
grass snake. 

Duke Balthasar did not like the idea of the grass snake; but 
wishing to annoy the Jester, the Dwarf, and the Jesuit, he merely 
smiled when they told him of it, and said: "The dear boy! 
What a child he is ! He probably, also, has a pet lamb, white 
as snow, and gentle as spring, mourning for him in his old 
home! How touching is the innocence of childhood! Heigho ! I 
was just like that myself not so very long ago." Whereupon the 
three favourites and the whole Court of Luna smiled and bowed 
and sighed: "How lovely is the innocence of youth!" while 
the Duke fell to humming the well-known air, "Thrysis was a 
shepherd boy," of which the ducal fiddlers instantly struck up the 

"But," added Balthasar Maria, with that subtle blending of 
majesty and archness in which he excelled all living princes, " but 
it is now time that the prince, my grandson, should learn " here 
he put his hand on his sword and threw back slightly one curl of 
his jet black peruke " the stern exercises of Mars 5 and, also, let 
us hope, the freaks and frolics of Venus." 

Saying which, the old sinner pinched the cheek of a lady of the 
very highest quality, whose husband and father were instantly 
congratulated by all the court on this honour. 

Prince Alberic was displayed next day to the people of Luna, 
standing on the balcony among a tremendous banging of mortars ; 
while Duke Balthasar explained that he felt towards this youth 
all the fondness and responsibility of an elder brother. There 
was a grand ball, a gala opera, a review, a very high mass in the 
cathedral; the Dwarf, the Jesuit, and the Jester each separately 


By Vernon Lee 331 

offered his services to Alberic in case he wanted a loan of money,, 
a love letter carried, or in case even (expressed in more delicate 
terms) he might wish to poison his grandfather. Duke Balthasar 
Maria, on his side,- summoned his ministers, and sent couriers, 
booted and liveried, to three great dukes of Italy, carrying each of 
these in a morocco wallet emblazoned with the arms of Luna, an 
account of Prince Alberic s lineage and person, and a request for 
particulars of any marriageable princesses and dowries to be 
disposed of. 


Prince Alberic did not give his grandfather that warm satis 
faction which the old duke had expected. Balthasar Maria,, 
entirely bent upon annoying the three favourites, had said, and had 
finally believed, that he intended to introduce his grandson to the 
delight and duties of life, and in the company of this beloved 
stripling to dream that he, too, was a youth once more : a 
statement which the court took with due deprecatory rever 
ence, as the duke was well known never to have ceased to be 

But Alberic did not lend himself to so touching an idyll. He 
behaved, indeed, with the greatest decorum, and manifested the 
utmost respect for his grandfather. He was marvellously 
assiduous in the council chamber, and still more so in following 
the military exercises and learning the trade of a soldier. He 
surprised every one by his interest and intelligence in all affairs of 
state ; he more than surprised the Court by his readiness to seek 
knowledge about the administration of the country and the con 
dition of the people. He was a youth of excellent morals, 
courage and diligence ; but, there was no denying it, he had 

The Yellow Book Vol. X. u positively 

332 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

positively no conception of sacrificing to the Graces. He sat out, 
as if he had been watching a review, the delicious operas and 
superb ballets which absorbed half the revenue of the duchy. He 
listened, without a smile of comprehension, to the witty innuendoes 
of the ducal table. But worst of all, he had absolutely no eyes, 
>let alone a heart, for the fair sex. Now Balthasar Maria had 
assembled at Luna a perfect bevy of lovely nymphs, both ladies of 
the greatest birth, whose husbands received most honourable posts 
military and civil, and young females of humbler extraction, 
though not less expressive habits, ranging from singers and 
dancers to slave-girls of various colours, all dressed in their ap 
propriate costume: a galaxy of beauty which was duly represented 
by the skill of celebrated painters on all the walls of the Red 
Palace, where you may still see their fading charms, habited as 
Diana, or Pallas, or in the spangles of Columbine, or the turban 
of Sibyls. These ladies were the object of Duke Balthasar s most 
munificently divided attentions ; and in the delight of his new 
born family affection, he had promised himself much tender interest 
in guiding the taste of his heir among such of these nymphs as had 
already received his own exquisite appreciation. Great, therefore, 
was the disappointment of the affectionate grandfather when his 
dream of companionship was dispelled, and it became hopeless to 
interest young Alberic in anything at Luna, save despatches and 

The Court, indeed, found the means of consoling Duke 
Balthasar for this bitterness, by extracting therefrom a brilliant 
comparison between the unfading grace, the vivacious, though 
majestic, character of the grandfather, and the gloomy and 
pedantic personality of the grandson. But, although Balthasar 
Maria would only smile at every new proof of Alberic s bearish 
obtuseness, and ejaculate in French, " Poor child ! he was born 


By Vernon Lee 333 

old, and I shall die young ! " the reigning Prince of Luna grew 
vaguely to resent the peculiarities of his heir. 

In this fashion things proceeded in the Red Palace at Luna, 
until Prince Alberic had attained his twenty-first year. 

He was sent, in the interval, to visit the principal Courts of 
Italy, and to inspect its chief curiosities, natural and historical, as 
befitted the heir to an illustrious state. He received the golden 
rose from the Pope in Rome ; he witnessed the festivities of 
Ascension Day from the Doge s barge at Venice; he accompanied 
the Marquis of Montferrat to the camp under Turin ; he witnessed 
the launching of a galley against the Barbary corsairs by the 
Knights of St. Stephen in the port of Leghorn, and a grand bull 
fight and burning of heretics given by the Spanish Viceroy at 
Palermo ; and he was allowed to be present when the celebrated 
Dr. Borri turned two brass buckles into pure gold before the Arch 
duke at Milan. On all of which occasions the heir-apparent of 
Luna bore himself with a dignity and discretion most singular in one 
so young. In the course of these journeys he was presented to 
several of the most promising heiresses in Italy, some of whom 
were of so tender age as to be displayed in jewelled swaddling-clothes 
on brocade cushions ; and a great many possible marriages were 
discussed behind his back. But Prince Alberic declared for his 
part that he had decided to lead a single life until the age of 
twenty-eight or thirty, and that he would then require the assist 
ance of no ambassadors or chancellors, but find for himself the 
future Duchess of Luna. 

All this did not please Balthasar Maria, as indeed nothing else 
about his grandson did please him much. But, as the old duke 
did not really relish the idea of a daughter-in-law at Luna, and as 
young Alberic s whimsicalities entailed no expense, and left him 
entirely free in his business and pleasure, he turned a deaf ear to 


334 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

the criticisms of his councillors, and letting his grandson inspect 
fortifications, drill soldiers, pore over parchments, and mope in his 
wing of the palace, with no amusement save his repulsive tame 
snake, Balthasar Maria composed and practised various ballets, and 
began to turn his attention very seriously to the completion of the 
rockery grotto and of the sepulchral chapel, which, besides the 
Red Palace itself, were the chief monuments of his glorious 

It was this growing desire to witness the fulfilment of these 
magnanimous projects which led the Duke of Luna into un 
expected conflict with his grandson. The wonderful enterprises 
above mentioned involved immense expenses, and had periodically 
been suspended for lack of funds. The collection of animals in 
the rockery was very far from complete. A camelopard of spotted 
alabaster, an elephant of Sardinian jasper, and the entire families of 
a cow and sheep, all of correspondingly rich marbles, were urgently 
required to fill up the corners. Moreover, the supply of water 
was at present so small that the fountains were dry save for a 
couple of hours on the very greatest holidays ; and it was necessary 
for the perfect naturalness of this ingenious work that an aqueduct 
twenty miles long should pour perennial streams from a high 
mountain lake into the grotto of the Red Palace. 

The question of the sepulchral chapel was, if possible, even 
worse ; for, after every new ballet, Duke Balthasar went through 
a fit of contrition, during which he fixed his thoughts on death ; 
and the possibilities of untimely release, and of burial in an unfinished 
mausoleum, filled him with terrors. It is true that Duke Balthasar 
had, immediately after building the vast domed chapel, secured 
an effigy of his own person before taking thought for the monu 
ments of his already buried ancestors ; and the statue, twelve feet 
high, representing himself in coronation robes of green bronze 


By Vernon Lee 335 

brocaded with gold, holding a sceptre and bearing on his head, of 
purest silver, a spiky coronet set with diamonds, was one of the 
curiosities which travellers admired most in Italy. But this statue 
was unsymmetrical, and moreover had a dismal suggestiveness, so 
long as surrounded by empty niches ; and the fact that only one 
half of the pavement was inlaid with discs of sardonyx, jasper and 
cornelian, and that the larger part of the walls were rough brick 
without a vestige of the mosaic pattern of lapis-lazuli, malachite, 
pearl, and coral, which had been begun round the one finished 
tomb, rendered the chapel as poverty-stricken in one aspect as it 
was magnificent in another. The finishing of the chapel was 
therefore urgent, and two more bronze statues were actually cast, 
those to wit of the duke s father and grandfather, and mosaic 
workmen called from the Medicean works in Florence. But, all 
of a sudden the ducal treasury was discovered to be empty, and 
the ducal credit to be exploded. 

State lotteries, taxes on salt, even a sham crusade against the 
Dey of Algiers, all failed to produce any money. The alliance, 
the right to pass troops through the duchy, the letting out of the 
ducal army to the highest bidder, had long since ceased to be a 
source of revenue either from the Emperor, the King of Spain, or 
the Most Christian One. The Serene Republics of Venice and 
Genoa publicly warned their subjects against lending a single 
sequin to the Duke of Luna ; the Dukes of Parma and Modena 
began to worry about bad debts ; the Pope himself had the 
atrocious bad taste to make complaints about suppression of church 
dues and interception of Peter s pence. There remained to the 
bankrupt Duke Balthasar Maria only one hope in the world the 
marriage of his grandson. 

There happened to exist at that moment a sovereign of incal 
culable wealth, with an only daughter of marriageable age. But 


336 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

this potentate, although the nephew of a recent Pope, by whose 
confiscations his fortunes were founded, had originally been a 
dealer in such goods as are comprehensively known as drysaltery ; 
and, rapacious as were the princes of the Empire, each was too 
much ashamed of his neighbours to venture upon alliance with a 
family of so obtrusive an origin. Here was Balthasar Maria s 
opportunity ; the drvsalter prince s ducats should complete the 
rockery, the aqueduct and the chapel ; the drysalter s daughter 
should be wedded to Alberic of Luna, that was to be third of the 


Prince Alberic sternly declined. He expressed his dutiful wish 
that the grotto and the chapel, like all other enterprises undertaken 
by his grandparent, might be brought to an end worthy of him. 
He declared that the aversion to drysalters was a prejudice unshared 
by himself. He even went so far as to suggest that the eligible 
princess should marry not the heir-apparent, but the reigning 
Duke of Luna. But, as regarded himself, he intended, as stated, 
to remain for many years single. Duke Balthasar had never in 
his life before seen a man who was determined to oppose him. He 
felt terrified and became speechless in the presence of young 

Direct influence having proved useless, the duke and his 
councillors, among whom the Jesuit, the Dwarf and the Jester 
had been duly re-instated, looked round for means of indirect 
persuasion or coercion. A celebrated Venetian beauty was sent 
for to Luna a lady frequently employed in diplomatic missions, 
which she carried through by her unparalleled grace in dancing. But 
Prince Alberic, having watched her for half an hour, merely 


By Vernon Lee 337 

remarked to his equerry that his own tame grass snake made the 
same movements as the lady, infinitely better and more modestly. 
Whereupon this means was abandoned. The Dwarf then sug 
gested a new method of acting on the young Prince s feelings. 
This, which he remembered to have been employed very success 
fully in the case of a certain Duchess of Malfi, who had given her 
family much trouble some generations back, consisted in dressing 
up a certain number of lacqueys as ghosts and devils, hiring some 
genuine lunatics from a neighbouring establishment, and introduc 
ing them at dead of night into Prince Alberic s chamber. But 
the Prince, who was busy at his orisons, merely threw a heavy 
stool and two candlesticks at the apparitions ; and, as he did so r 
the tame snake suddenly rose up from the floor, growing colossal 
in the act, and hissed so terrifically that the whole party fled down 
the corridor. The most likely advice was given by the Jesuit. 
This truly subtle diplomatist averred that it was useless trying to 
act upon the Prince by means which did not already affect him ; 
instead of clumsily constructing a lever for which there was no 
fulcrum in the youth s soul, it was necessary to find out whatever 
leverage there might already exist. 

Now, on careful inquiry, there was discovered a fact which the 
official spies, who always acted by precedent and pursued their 
inquiries according to the rules of the human heart as taught by 
the Secret Inquisition of the Republic of Venice, had naturally 
failed to perceive. This fact consisted in a rumour, very vague 
but very persistent, that Prince Alberic did not inhabit his wing 
of the palace in absolute solitude. Some of the pages attending 
on his person affirmed to have heard whispered conversations in 
the Prince s study, on entering which they had invariably found 
him alone ; others maintained that, during the absence of the 
Prince from the palace, they had heard the sound of his private 


338 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

harpsichord, the one with the story of Orpheus and the view of 
Soracte on the cover, although he always kept its key on his person. 
A footman declared that he had found in the Prince s study, and 
among his books and maps, a piece of embroidery certainly not 
belonging to the Prince s furniture and apparel, moreover, half 
finished, and with a needle sticking in the canvas ; which piece of 
embroidery the Prince had thrust into his pocket. But, as none 
-of the attendants had ever seen any visitor entering or issuing 
from the Prince s apartments, and the professional spies had 
ransacked all possible hiding-places and modes of exit in vain, 
these curious indications had been neglected, and the opinion had 
been formed that Alberic, being, as every one could judge, some 
what insane, had a gift of ventriloquism, a taste for musical-boxes, 
and a proficiency in unmanly handicrafts which he carefully 

These rumours had at one time caused great delight to Duke 
Balthasar ; but he had got tired of sitting in a dark cupboard in 
his grandson s chamber, and had caught a bad chill looking through 
his keyhole ; so he had stopped all further inquiries as officious 
fooling on the part of impudent lacqueys. 

But the Jesuit foolishly adhered to the rumour. "Discover 
her" he said, "and work through her on Prince Alberic." But 
Duke Balthasar, after listening twenty times to this remark with 
the most delighted interest, turned round on the twenty-first 
time and gave the Jesuit a look of Jove-like thunder ; " My 
father," he said, " I am surprised I may say more than surprised 
at a person of your cloth descending so low as to make asper 
sions upon the virtue of a young Prince reared in my palace and 
born of my blood. Never let me hear another word about ladies 
of light manners being secreted within these walls." Whereupon 
the Jesuit retired, and was in disgrace for a fortnight, till Duke 


By Vernon Lee 339 

Balthasar woke up one morning with a strong apprehension of 

But no more was said of the mysterious female friend of Prince 
Alberic, still less was any attempt made to gain her intervention 
in the matter of the drysalter Princess s marriage. 


More desperate measures were soon resorted to. It was given 
out that Prince Alberic was engrossed in study, and he was 
forbidden to leave his wing of the Red Palace, with no other 
view than the famous grotto with the verde antique apes and the 
porphyry rhinoceros. It was published that Prince Alberic was 
sick, and he was confined very rigorously to a less agreeable apart 
ment in the rear of the palace, where he could catch sight of the 
plaster laurels and draperies, and the rolling plaster eyeball of one 
of the Twelve Cassars under the cornice. It was judiciously 
hinted that the Prince had entered into religious retreat, and he 
was locked and bolted into the State prison, alongside of the 
unfinished sepulchral chapel, whence a lugubrious hammering 
came as the only sound of life. In each of these places the recal 
citrant vouth was duly argued with by some of his grandfather s 
familiars, and even received a visit from the old duke in person. 
But threats and blandishments were all in vain, and Alberic per 
sisted in his refusal to marry. 

It was six months now since he had seen the outer world, and 
six weeks since he had inhabited the State prispn, every stage in 
his confinement, almost every day thereof, having systema 
tically deprived him of some luxury, some comfort, or some mode of 
passing his time. His harpsichord and foils had remained in the 


34 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

gala wing overlooking the grotto. His maps and books had not 
followed him beyond the higher story with the view of the 
Twelfth Caesar. And now they had taken away from him his 
Virgil, his inkstand and paper, and left him only a book of 

Balthasar Maria and his councillors felt intolerably baffled. 
There remained nothing further to do ; for if Prince Alberic 
were publicly beheaded, or privately poisoned, or merely left to die 
of want and sadness, it was obvious that Prince Alberic could no 
longer conclude the marriage with the drysalter Princess, and that 
no money to finish the grotto and the chapel, or to carry on 
Court expenses, would be forthcoming. 

It was a burning day of August, a Friday, thirteenth of that 
month, and after a long prevalence of enervating sirocco, when 
the old duke determined to make one last appeal to the obedience 
of his grandson. The sun, setting among ominous clouds, sent a 
lurid orange beam into Prince Alberic s prison chamber, at the 
moment that his ducal grandfather, accompanied by the Jester, 
the Dwarf and the Jesuit, appeared on its threshold after prodigious 
clanking of keys and clattering of bolts. The unhappy youth 
rose as they entered, and making a profound bow, motioned his 
grandparent to the only chair in the place. 

Balthasar Maria had never visited him before in this, his worst 
place of confinement ; and the bareness of the room, the dust and 
cobwebs, the excessive hardness of the chair, affected his sensitive 
heart, and, joined with irritation at his grandson s obstinacy and 
utter depression about the marriage, the grotto and the chapel, 
actually caused this magnanimous sovereign to burst into tears 
and bitter lamentations. 

"It would indeed melt the heart of a stone," remarked the 
Jester sternly, while his two companions attempted to soothe the 


By Vernon Lee 341 

weeping duke "to see one of the greatest, wisest, and most 
valorous princes in Europe reduced to tears by the undutifulness 
of his child." 

" Princes, nay, kings and emperors sons," exclaimed the Dwarf, 
who was administering Melissa water to the duke, "have perished 
miserably for much less." 

" Some of the most remarkable personages of sacred history are 
stated to have incurred eternal perdition for far slighter offences," 
added the Jesuit. 

Alberic had sat down on the bed. The tawny sunshine fell 
upon his figure. He had grown very thin, and his garments were 
inexpressibly threadbare. But he was spotlessly neat, his lace 
band was perfectly folded, his beautiful blond hair flowed in 
exquisite curls about his pale face, and his whole aspect was 
serene and even cheerful. He might be twenty-two years old, 
and was of consummate beauty and stature. 

" My lord," he answered slowly, " I entreat your Serene High 
ness to believe that no one could regret more deeply than I do 
such a spectacle as is offered by the tears of a Duke of Luna. 
At the same time, I can only reiterate that I accept no responsi 
bility ..." 

A distant growling of thunder caused the old duke to start, 
and interrupted Alberic s speech. 

" Your obstinacy, my lord," exclaimed the Dwarf, who was an 
excessively choleric person, "betrays the existence of a hidden 
conspiracy most dangerous to the state." 

"It is an indication," added the Jester, "ot a highly deranged 

" It seems to me," whispered the Jesuit, " to savour most 
undoubtedly of devilry." 

Alberic shrugged his shoulders. He had risen from the bed to 


342 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

close the grated window, into which a shower of hail was suddenly 
blowing with unparalleled violence, when the old duke jumped 
on his seat, and, with eyeballs starting with terror, exclaimed, as 
he tottered convulsively, " The serpent ! the serpent ! " 

For there, in a corner, the tame grass snake was placidly coiled 
up, sleeping. 

" The snake ! the devil ! Prince Alberic s pet companion ! " 
exclaimed the three favourites, and rushed towards that corner. 

Alberic threw himself forward. But he was too late. The 
Jester, with a blow of his harlequin s lath, had crushed the head 
of the startled creature ; and, even while he was struggling with 
him and the Jesuit, the Dwarf had given it two cuts with his 
Turkish scimitar. 

" The snake ! the snake!" shrieked Duke Balthasar, heedless 
of the desperate struggle. 

The warders and equerries, waiting outside, thought that Prince 
Alberic must be murdering his grandfather, and burst into prison 
and separated the combatants. 

" Chain the rebel ! the wizard ! the madman ! " cried the three 

Alberic had thrown himself on the dead snake, which lay 
crushed and bleeding on the floor, and he moaned piteously. 

But the Prince was unarmed and overpowered in a moment. 
Three times he broke loose, but three times he was recaptured, 
and finally bound and gagged, and dragged away. The old duke 
recovered from his fright, and was helped up from the bed on to 
which he had sunk. As he prepared to leave, he approached 
the dead snake, and looked at it for some time. He kicked its 
mangled head with his ribboned shoe, and turned away laughing. 

" Who knows," he said, " whether you were not the Snake 
Lady ? That foolish boy made a great fuss, I remember, when 


By Vernon Lee 343 

he was scarcely out of long clothes, about a tattered old tapestry 
representing that repulsive story." 
And he departed to supper. 


Prince Alberic of Luna, who should have been third of his 
name, died a fortnight later, it was stated, insane. But those who 
approached him maintained that he had been in perfect possession 
of his faculties ; and that if he refused all nourishment during his 
second imprisonment, it was from set purpose. He was removed 
at night from his apartments facing the grotto with the verde 
antique monkeys and the porphyry rhinoceros, and hastily buried 
under a slab, which remained without any name or date, in the 
famous mosaic sepulchral chapel. 

Duke Balthasar Maria survived him only a few months. The 
old duke had plunged into excesses of debauchery with a view, 
apparently, to dismissing certain terrible thoughts and images 
which seemed to haunt him day and night, and against which no 
religious practices or medical prescription were of any avail. The 
origin of these painful delusions was probably connected with a 
very strange rumour, which grew to a tradition at Luna, to the 
effect that when the prison room, occupied by Prince Alberic, 
was cleaned, after that terrible storm of the I3th August of the 
year 1700, the persons employed found in a corner, not the dead 
grass-snake, which they had been ordered to cast into the palace 
drains, but the body of a woman, naked, and miserably disfigured 
with blows and sabre cuts. 

Be this as it may, history records as certain, that the house of 
Luna became extinct in 1701, the duchy lapsing to the Empire. 
Moreover, that the mosaic chapel remained for ever unfinished, with 


344 Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady 

no statue save the green bronze and gold one of Balthasar Maria 
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rockery also was never completed ; only a few marble animals adorn 
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and the water supply being sufficient only for the greatest holidays. 
These things the traveller can confirm ; also, that certain chairs 
and curtains in the porter s lodge of the now long deserted Red 
Palace are made of the various pieces of an extremely damaged 
arras, having represented the story of Alberic the Blond and the 
Snake Lady. 

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The Yellow Book 

An Illustrated Quarterly. Pott ^to, p. net. 
Volume i. April 1894, 272 pp., 15 Illustrations. \Oitt of print. 
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and the Average Man. 

I hvarf." 

M :! ;:-H-ry. Hy IVIenie . 

be. By Rosamund Mar- 
Prince. By Henry Har- 

" Translation. By Richard 
B., LL.D. 

..Passion of the Peruvian 

Samuel Mathewson Scott 

C. a Rose. By Renee de 

By Mrs. Murray Hickson 

>swald Sickert 

Fagi. By Marie Oothilde 

By Eva Gore-Booth 

Y K. Douglas King 
t-at-Law. By Francis 

XIV. Night and Love. By Ernest Wcnt- 


XV. Two Stoi-; . B;/ Ella D Arry 
XVI. f ; luc Albenc uuu ttic bnake Lady. 
By ; crnon Lee 


By ?/Jrs, Stanhope 


By K.atherine 

> By j. Herbert Me N air 


A Dutch Woman. 

Babies and Brambles 

The Dew 

A Drcr..m ^ lr Margaret 

Mother and Child / Macdonald 

111 Omen ) Ey Frances 

The Sleeping Princess/ Macdonald 

Dieppe Castle 

\ By D. Y. Cameroa 
The Butterflies 

The Five Sweet Symphonies. By Nellie 


Barren Life. By Laurence Housman 
Winder/acre, by diaries Condcr