Between Two Thieves | Project Gutenberg eBook (2023)

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Between Two Thieves, by Richard Dehan

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Title: Between Two Thieves

Author: Richard Dehan

Release Date: April 1, 2023 [eBook #70431]

Language: English

Produced by: Tim Lindell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)




Between Two Thieves | Project Gutenberg eBook (1)


Copyright, 1912, by
Frederick A. Stokes Company

All rights reserved, including that of translation into foreign
languages, including the Scandinavian

Between Two Thieves | Project Gutenberg eBook (2)

[Pg 1]



An old paralytic man, whose snow-white hair fell in long silken wavesfrom under the rim of the black velvet skull-cap he invariably wore,sat in a light invalid chair-carriage at the higher end of the wide,steep street that is the village of Zeiden, in the Canton of Alpenzell,looking at the sunset.

Slowly the rose-red flush was fading behind the glittering green,snow-capped pinnacle of distant Riedi. A segment of the sun’s hugeflaming disk remained in view above a shoulder of her colossal neighborDonatus; molten gold and silver, boiling together as in a crucible,were spilled upon his vast, desolate, icy sides; his towering,snow-crested helmet trailed a panache of dazzling glory,snatched from the sinking forehead of the vanquished Lord of Day, andeven the cap of the Kreinenberg, dwarf esquire in attendance on thegiant, boasted a golden plume.

The old man blinked a little, oppressed by excess of splendor, and theattendant Sister of Charity, who sometimes relieved the white-capped,blue-cloaked, cotton-gowned German nurse customarily in charge of thepatient, observing this, turned the invalid-chair so that its occupantlooked down upon the Blau See, the shape of which suggests a sumptuousglove encrusted with turquoises, as, bordered with old-world, walledtowns, it lies in the rich green lap of a fertile country, deep girdledwith forests of larch and pine and chestnut, enshrining stately ruinsof mediæval castles, and the picturesque garden-villas built by wealthypeasants, in their stately shadow; and sheltered by the toweringgranite ranges of the Paarlberg from raging easterly gales.

The brilliant black eyes that shone almost with the brilliancy ofyouth in the wasted ivory face of the old man in the wheeled chair,sparkled appreciatively now as they looked out over the Lake. For tothe whirring of its[Pg 2] working dynamos, and the droning song of itspropeller, a monoplane of the Blériot type emerged from its woodenshelter, pitched upon a steep green incline near to the water’s edge;and moving on its three widely-placed cycle-wheels with the gait of aleggy winged beetle or a flurried sheldrake, suddenly rose with itsrider into the thin, clear atmosphere, losing all its awkwardness asthe insect or the bird would have done, in the launch upon its naturalelement, and the instinctive act of flight. The old man watched thebird of steel and canvas, soaring and dipping, circling and turning,over the blue liquid plain with the sure ease and swift daring of theswallow, and slowly nodded his head. When the monoplane had completed aseries of practice-evolutions, it steered away northwards, the steadytuff-tuff of its Gnome engine thinning away to a mere thread of soundas the machine diminished to the sight. Then said the watcher, breakinghis long silence:

“That is a good thing!... A capital—a useful thing!... An invention,see you, my Sister, that will one day prove invaluable in War.”

The Sister, with a shade of hesitation, responded that Monsieur wasundoubtedly right. For carrying dispatches, and for the more dreadfulpurpose of dropping bombs upon an enemy, the aeroplane, guided by askillful pilot, would no doubt——

“Ah, tschah!... Bah!... br’rr!...” The old man hunched his thin,broad shoulders impatiently, and wrinkled up his mobile ivory faceinto a hundred puckers of comical disgust as he exploded these verbalrockets, and his bright black eyes snapped and sparkled angrily. “Fordropping shell upon the decks of armored cruisers, or into camps, orupon columns of marching men, this marvelous machine that the TwentiethCentury has given us might be utilized beyond doubt. But for thepreservation of life, rather than its destruction, its supreme usewill be in War. For the swift and easy removal of wounded from thefield of battle, a fleet of Army Hospital Service Aeroplanes will oneday be built and equipped and organized by every civilized Government,under the Rules of the Crimson Cross. Beautiful, beautiful!” The oldman was quite excited, nodding his black velvet-capped, white-lockedhead as though he would have nodded it off, and blinking his brighteyes. “Sapristi!—I see them!” he cried. “They[Pg 3] will hover overthe Field of Action like huge hawks, from time to time swooping uponthe fallen and carrying them off in their talons. Superb! magnificent!colossal! If we had had air-men and air-machines at Balaklava in ’54,or at Magenta, or Solferino, or Gravelotte, or in Paris during theSiege!... Have the kindness, my Sister, to give me a pinch of snuff!”

The Sister fumbled in the pocket of the white flannel jacket—winterand summer, year in and year out, the old man went clothed from head tofoot in white—and fed the thin, handsome old eagle-beak with pungentcheap mixture, out of a box that bore the portrait, set in blazingbrilliants, of the Imperial Crowned Head whose gift it had been; as wasrecorded by the elaborate inscription engraved in the Russian characterwithin its golden lid. The old man was particular that no dust of hisfavorite brown powder should soil the snowy silken mustache, waxedto fine points, that jutted above his long, mobile upper-lip, or thelittle imperial that was called by a much less elegant name when thebirch-broom-bearded Reds heckled the President of the Third Republicfor wearing the distinctive chin-tuft. After the pinch of snuff the oldman became more placid. He had his chair slewed round to afford him afresh point of view, and sat absorbed in the contemplation of which henever seemed to weary.

The sweet Spring day was dying. Vast brooding pinions of somber purplecloud already made twilight on the north horizon, where gloomingramparts topped by pallid peaks, and jagged sierras spiring up intoslender minarets and aguilles, shone ghostly against the gloom. Thehorn of the herdsman sounded from the lower Alps, and neck-bellstinkled as the long lines of placid cows moved from the upper pasturesin obedience to the call, breathing perfume of scented vetch andhoneyed crimson clover, leaving froth of milk from trickling udders onthe leaves and grasses as they went.

The sunset-hour being supper-time, the single street of Zeiden seemeddeserted. You saw it as a hilly thoroughfare, bordered with detachedtimber-built houses, solid and quaintly-shaped and gayly-painted,their feet planted in gardens full of lilac and syringa and laburnum,daffodils and narcissi, violets and anemones and tulips; their wallsand balconies tapestried with the sweet May[Pg 4] rose and the pink andwhite clematis; the high-pitched roofs of the most ancient structures,green to the ridge-poles with mosses and gilded by lichens, rosettedwith houseleek, and tufted with sweet yellow wallflower and flauntingdandelion. And you had just begun to wonder at the silence and apparentemptiness of the place, when, presto! it suddenly sprang into life.Doors opened and shut; footsteps crackled on gravel; gates clicked,releasing avalanches of barking dogs and laughing, racing children; theadult natives and visitors of Zeiden (Swiss for the most part, leavenedwith Germans and sprinkled with English and French) appeared uponthe Promenade.... And the band of the Kursaal, magnificent in theirgreen, white-faced, silver-tagged uniform, marched down the street tothe Catholic Church, and being admitted by the verger—a magnificentofficial carrying a wand, and attired in a scarlet frock-coat, giltchain, and lace-trimmed cocked hat—presently appeared upon theplatform of the tower, and—it being the Feast of The Ascension—playeda chorale, and were tremendously applauded when it was over.

“They play well, finely, to-night!” said the old man, nodding andtwinkling in his bright pleased way. “Kindly clap my hands for me,my Sister. M. Pédelaborde may take it amiss if I do not join in theapplause.” So the chef d’orchestre was gratified by the approvalof the paralytic M. Dunoisse, which indeed he would have been sorelychagrined to miss.

“I think that white-haired old man in the black velvet cap has the mostnoble, spiritual face I ever saw,” said a little English lady to herhusband—a tall, lean, prematurely-bald and careworn man, arrayed in aleather cap with goggles, a knicker suit of baggily-cut, loud-patternedtweeds, a shirt of rheumatism-defying Jaeger material, golfing hose,and such prodigiously-clouted nailed boots, with sockets for theinsertion of climbing-irons, as London West End and City firms are aptto impose upon customers who do their Swiss mountain-climbing per thezigzag carriage-road, or the cog-wheel railway.

“Ah, yes! quite so!” absently rejoined the husband, who was LiberalMember for a North London Borough, and an Under-Secretary of State;and was mentally engaged in debating whether the six o’clock supperrecently partaken[Pg 5] of, and consisting of grilled lake-trout withcucumber, followed by curd-fritters crowned with dabs of whortleberrypreserve, did not constitute a flagrant breach of the rules of dietarydrawn up by the London specialist under whose advice he was trying theZeiden whey-cure for a dyspepsia induced by Suffragist Demonstrationsand the Revised Budget Estimate. “Quite so, yes!”

“You are trying to be cynical,” said the little lady, who was seriousand high-minded, and Member of half-a-dozen Committees of Societies forthe moral and physical improvement of a world that would infinitelyprefer to remain as it is “Skeptics may sneer,” she continued withenergy, “and the irreverent scoff, but a holy life does stamp itselfupon the countenance in lines there is no mistaking.”

“I did not sneer,” retorted her husband, whose internal system theunfortuitous combination of cucumber with curds was rapidly upsetting.“Nor am I aware that I scoffed. Your saintly-faced old gentleman iscertainly a very interesting and remarkable personage. His name isM. Hector Dunoisse.” He added, with an inflection the direct resultof the cucumber-curd-whortleberry combination: “He was a naturalson of the First Napoleon’s favorite aide-de-camp, a certainColonel—afterwards Field-Marshal Dunoisse (who did tremendous thingsat Aboukir and Austerlitz and Borodino)—by—ah!—by a Bavarian lady ofexalted rank,—a professed nun, in fact,—who ran away with Dunoisse,or was run away with. M. Pédelaborde, the man who told me the story,doesn’t profess to be quite certain.”

“I dare say not! And who is M. Pédelaborde, if I may be allowed toknow?”

Infinite contempt and unbounded incredulity were conveyed in the littleEnglish lady’s utterance of the foregoing words.

“Pédelaborde,” explained her husband, sucking a soda-mint lozenge, andavoiding the wifely eye, “is the fat, tremendously-mustached personagewho conducts the Kursaal Band.”


“He has known M. Hector Dunoisse all his life—Pédelaborde’s life, Imean, of course. His father was a fellow-cadet of your old gentleman’sat a Military Training Institute[Pg 6] in Paris, where Dunoisse fought aduel with another boy and killed him, I am given to understand, by anunfair thrust. The French are fond of tricks in fencing, and some of’em are the very dev——Ahem!”

“I decline to credit such a monstrous statement,” said the little lady,holding her head very high. “Nothing shall convince me that that dear,sweet, placid old man—who is certainly not to blame for the accidentof his birth—could ever have been guilty of a dishonorable action,much less a wicked murderous deed, such as you describe! Do you knowhim? I mean in the sense of having spoken to him, because everybodybows to M. Dunoisse on the Promenade. You have!.... Next time youhappen to meet, you might say that if he would allow you to introducehim to your wife, I should be pleased—so very pleased to make hisacquaintance——”

“Ah, yes! Quite so! We have had a little chat or two, certainly,”the dyspeptic gentleman of affairs admitted. “And I don’t doubt hewould be highly gratified.” The speaker finished his lozenge, andadded, with mild malignity: “That you would find him interesting Ifeel perfectly sure. For he certainly has seen a good deal of life,according to Pédelaborde.... He held a commission in a crack regimentof Chasseurs d’Afrique, and ran through a great fortune, I am told,with the assistance of his commanding officer’s wife—uncommonlyattractive woman, too, Pédelaborde tells me. And he was on thePrince-President’s Staff at the time of the coup d’État, andafter the Restoration—Pédelaborde positively takes his oath that thisis true!—was shut up in a French frontier fortress for an attempton the life of the Emperor. But he escaped or was released, when theAllies were pounding away at Sevastopol, in 1854, and Ada Merling—deadnow, I believe, like nearly everybody else one has ever heard named inconnection with the War in the Crimea—was nursing the wounded Englishsoldiers at Scutari.” The dyspeptic politician added acidly:

“Here comes M. Dunoisse trundling down the Promenade, saintly smile andall the rest of it.... Shall I give him your message now?”

But the speaker’s better-half, at last convinced, indignantly withdrewher previous tender of cordiality, and as the invalid chair, impelledby the white-capped, blue-cloaked[Pg 7] nurse, who had now replaced thenun, rolled slowly down the wide garden-bordered, orchard-backedPlace of ancient timber houses that is Zeiden, the white-hairedwearer of the black velvet cap, nodding and beaming in acknowledgmentof the elaborately respectful salutations of the male visitors and thesmiling bows of the ladies, received from one little British matron astare so freezing in its quality that his jaw dropped, and his brightblack eyes became circular with astonishment and dismay.

That an old man at whom everybody smiled kindly—an old man who hadlittle else to live upon or for but love should meet a look so cold....His underlip drooped like a snubbed child’s. Why was it? Did not thelittle English lady know—surely she must know!—how much, how verymuch old Hector Dunoisse had done, and given, sacrificed and enduredand suffered, to earn the love and gratitude of women and of men? Hedid not wish to boast—but she might have remembered it!... A teardropped on the wrinkled ivory hands that lay helplessly upon the rugthat covered the sharp bony knees.

“You have been guilty of a piece of confoundedly bad taste, let me tellyou!” said the irritated Englishman, addressing his still vibratingwife. “To cut an old man like that! It was brutal!” He added, “Andidiotic into the bargain!”

“I simply couldn’t help it,” said his wife, her stiffened facialmuscles relaxing into the flabbiness that heralds tears. “When I sawthat horrible old creature coming, looking so dreadfully innocent andkind; and remembered how often I have seen the little French and Germanand Swiss children crowding round his chair listening to a story, orbeing lifted up to kiss him”—she gulped—“or toddling to his kneeto slip their little bunches of violets into those helpless hands ofhis—I could not help it! I simply had to!”

“Then you simply had to commit a social blunder of a very gravekind,” pronounced her lord, assuming that air of detachment from theperson addressed which creates a painful sense of isolation. “Forpermit me to inform you that M. Hector Dunoisse is not a person, buta Personage—whom the President of the Swiss Confederation and abouthalf the Crowned Heads of Europe congratulate[Pg 8] upon his birthday. Andwho—if he had chosen to accept the crown they offered him half alifetime back—would have been to-day the ruling Hereditary Prince ofan important Bavarian State. As it is——”

“As it is, he would forgive me the hideous thing I have done,” thelittle lady cried, flushing indignant scarlet to the roots of herhair, “could he know that it was my own husband who deceived me....Who humbugged me,” she gulped hysterically. “Spoofed me, as ourboy Herbert would hideously say,—with a whole string of ridiculous,trumped-up stories——” She hurriedly sought for and applied herhandkerchief, and the final syllable was lost in the dolorous blowingof an injured woman’s nose. Her husband entreated pusillanimously:

“For Heaven’s sake, don’t cry!—at least, here on the Promenade, withscores of people staring. What I told you is the simple truth....Don’t Roman Catholics say that the regular rips make the mostthorough-going, out-and-out saints when they do take to religionand good works and all the rest of it? Besides ... good Lord!—it’sAncient History—happened years and years before our parents saw eachother—and the old chap is ninety—or nearly! And—even supposingDunoisse did what people say he did, only think what Dunoisse has done!”

Curiosity prevailed over injured dignity. The wounded wife emerged frombehind a damp wad of cambric to ask: “What has he done?”

“What has he ... why—he has received all sorts of Votes of Thanks fromPublic Societies, and he has been decorated with heaps of Orders ...the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and the Orders of the Annunziataof Savoy, and the Black Eagle; and he is a Commander of the Legion ofHonor and a Knight of the Papal Order of St. Gregory, and HereditaryPrince of Widinitz if he liked, but he doesn’t like ... goodness me!Haven’t I told you all that already?” The M.P. for the North Londonborough flapped his hands and lapsed into incoherency.

“But surely you can tell me why these honors were bestowed uponM. Dunoisse?” asked his wife. “I am waiting for the answer to myquestion—what has he done to deserve them?”

The clear, incisive English voice asking the question cut like a knifethrough the consonantal, sibilant French,[Pg 9] and the guttural be-voweledGerman. And a stranger standing near—recognizable as a French priestof the Catholic Church less by the evidence of his well-worn cloth,and Roman collar, and wide-brimmed, round-crowned silk beaver, withthe shabby silk band and black enameled buckle, than by a certaindistinctive manner and expression—said upon a sudden impulse,courteously raising his hat:

“Madame will graciously pardon an old man for presuming to answer aquestion not addressed to him. She asks, if I comprehend aright, whatM. Dunoisse has done to deserve the numberless marks of respect andesteem that have been showered on him?... I will have the honor ofexplaining to Madame if Monsieur kindly consents?”

“Pleasure, I’m sure!” babbled the dyspeptic victim of the Suffragistsand the Budget, yawning as only the liverish can. The priest went on,addressing the little lady:

“Madame, the invalid gentleman whose paralyzed hands rest upon hisknees as inertly and immovably as the hands of some granite statue ofan Egyptian deity, has given with both those helpless hands—gives tothis hour!—will give, when we have long been dust, and these prettyinfants playing round us are old men and aged women—a colossal giftto suffering Humanity. He has expended wealth, health, all that menhold dear, in founding, endowing, and organizing a vast international,undenominational, neutral Society of Mercy, formed of brave and skilledand noble men and women,—ah!—may Heaven bless those women!—who,being of all nations, creeds, and politics, are bound by one vow;united in one purpose; bent to one end—that end the alleviation of thefrightful sufferings of soldiers wounded in War. Madame must have heardof the Convention of Helvetia?... But see there, Madame!... Observe, bya strange coincidence—the Symbol in the sky!”

The hand of the speaker, with a graceful, supple gesture of indication,waved westwards, and the little lady’s eyes, following it, were ledto the upper end of the wide, irregular châlet-bordered Promenadeof Zeiden, where the wheel-chair of the invalid had again come to astandstill; possibly in obedience to its occupant’s desire to look oncemore upon the sunset, whose flaming splendors had all[Pg 10] vanished now,save where against a gleaming background of milky-pale vapor glowedtransverse bars of ardent hue, rich and glowing as pigeon’s blood ruby,or an Emperor’s ancient Burgundy, or that other crimson liquor thatcourses in the veins of Adam’s sons, and was first spilled upon theshrinking earth by the guilty hand of Cain.

“It is the sign,” the priest repeated earnestly; “the badge of thegreat international League of love and pity which owes its institutionto M. Hector Dunoisse.” He added: “The face of Madame tells me that nofurther explanation is needed. With other countries that have drunk ofWar, and its agonies and horrors, Protestant England renders homage tothe Crimson Cross.”


Old Hector Dunoisse could not sleep that night. Sharp pains racked hisworn bones; his paralyzed muscles were as though transfixed by surgicalneedles of finely-tempered steel. He would not permit the nurse to situp, despite the physician’s orders, therefore the medical Head of theInstitution suffered the patient to have his way. So he lay alone inthe large, light, airy room, furnished with all the appliances thatmodern surgical skill can devise for the aid of helplessness, and thealleviation of suffering, and yet a place of pain....

He would not suffer the nurse to lower the green Venetian blinds of thehigh, clear windows that fronted to the south-east and south-west; themoonbeams could not do him any harm, he declared. On the contrary! Themild, bright planet shining above the lonely kulms and terriblecrevasses, shedding her radiant light upon the peasant’s Alpine hut andthe shepherd’s hillside cave, as upon the huge hotel-caravanserais,glittering with windows and crowded with wealthy tourists, and thestately mediæval castles, ruined and inhabited by owls and bats andfoxes, or lovingly preserved and dwelt in by the descendants of thegreat robber knights who reared their Cyclopean towers—was she not hiswell-loved friend?

So, as one waits for a friend, old Hector lay waiting for[Pg 11] themoonrise; the white-haired, handsome, vivacious old face, with thebright black eyes, propped high upon the pillow, the wasted, half-deadbody of him barely raising the light warm bed-coverings, the helplessarms and stiff white hands stretched rigidly along its sides.

And not only the man waited; the heavens seemed also waiting. Theghostly white ice-peaks and snowy mountain-ranges, crowded on thehorizon as though they waited too. Corvus burned bright, low down onthe south horizon; Spica blazed at the maidenly-pure feet of Virgo.Bootes looked down from the zenith, a pale emerald radiance, dimmed bythe fierce red fires of the Dog Star.... The purple-dark spaces beyondthese splendors were full of the palely glimmering presences of otherstars. But the old man wanted none of these. He had forgotten to lookat the almanac. He began to fear there would be no moon that night.

Old, sick and helpless as he was, this was a great grief to him.Useless the presence of others when we lack the one we need. And alittle crack in a dam-wall is enough to liberate the pent-up waters;the thin, bright trickle is soon followed by the roaring turbid flood.Then, look and see what fetid slime, what ugly writhing creatures bredof it, the shining placid surface masked and covered.... The purestwomen, the noblest men, no less than we who know ourselves inwardlycorrupt and evil, have such depths, where things like these are hiddenfrom the light of day....

The pain was intolerable to-night,—almost too bad to bear withoutshrieking. Dunoisse set his old face into an ivory mask of sternresistance, and his white mustache and arched and still jet-blackeyebrows bristled fiercely, and the cold drops of anguish gathered uponthe sunken purple-veined temples upon which the silky silver hair wasgrowing sparse and thin. Ouf!... what unutterable relief it would havebeen to clench his fists, even!... But the poor hands, helpless as awax doll’s or a wooden puppet’s, refused to obey his will.

He lay rigid and silent, but his brain worked with vivid, feverishactivity, and his glance roved restlessly round the white-paperedwalls of the airy, cleanly room. Shabby[Pg 12] frames containing spotteddaguerreotypes and faded old cartes-de-visite of friends longdead; some water-color portraits and engravings of battle-scenes, hungthere; with some illuminated addresses, a few more modern photographs,a glazed case of Orders and Crosses, a cheap carved rack of well-smokedpipes, and—drawn up against the painted wainscot—an imposing arrayof boots of all nationalities, kinds and descriptions, in variousstages of wear. His small library of classics filled a hanging shelf,while a pair of plain deal bookcases were stuffed with publications inhalf-a-dozen European languages, chiefly well-known reference-worksupon Anatomy and Physiology, Surgery and Medicine; whilst a row ofpaper-bound, officially-stamped Government publications—one or twoof these from his own painstaking, laborious pen—dealt with theorganization, equipment and sanitation of Military Field Hospitals,Hospital Ships and Hospital Trains, the clothing, diet and care ofsick and wounded, and, in relation to these, the Laws and Customs ofgrim and ghastly War. And a traveling chest of drawers, a bath, anda portable secretary, battered and ink-stained by half a century ofhonorable use; with the scanty stock of antique garments hanging inthe white-pine press; a meager store of fine, exquisitely darned andmended old-world linen; an assortment of neckties, wonderfully outof date; some old felt wideawakes, and three black velvet caps, witha camel’s hair bournous, that had served for many years asa dressing-gown; and the bust of a woman, in marble supported on aslender ebony pedestal set between the windows, completed the inventoryof the worldly possessions of old Hector Dunoisse.

All that he owned on earth, these few shabby chattels, these dimmedinsignia, with their faded ribbons—this man who had once been greatlyrich, and prodigally generous, subsisted now in his helpless age upona small annuity, purchased when he had been awarded the Nobel Prize.What bitter tears had been wrung from the bright black eyes when hewas compelled to accept this charity! But it had to be; the burden ofhis great humanitarian labors had exhausted his last energies and hisremaining funds; and Want had risen up beside his bed of sickness, andlaid upon him, who had cheered away her specter from so many pallets,her chill and meager hand.

[Pg 13]

Ah, how he loved the glaring daguerreotypes, the spotty photographs,the old cheap prints! Far, far more dearly than the Rembrandts andRaphaels, the Watteaus and the three superb portraits by Velasquezthat he had sold to the Council of the Louvre, and the AustrianGovernment and the Trustees of the National Gallery. The cabinets ofrare and antique medals, the collection of Oriental porcelain andRoyal Sèvres that had been bequeathed to him with the immense privatefortune of Luitpold, the long-deceased Prince-Regent of Widinitz,that had also been disposed of under the hammer to supply his needsfor funds,—always more funds,—had never possessed one-tenth of thepreciousness of these poor trifles. For everything was a mementoor token of something done or borne, given or achieved towards thefulfillment of the one great end.

The chibuk with the bowl of gilded red clay, the cherry-stickstem and the fine amber mouthpiece, an officer of the English Guardshad forced upon Dunoisse at Balaklava. The inkstand, a weighty sphereof metal mounted on three grape-shot, with a detached fourth for thelid—that was a nine-pound shell from the Sandbag Battery. And thehelmet-plate with a silver-plated Austrian Eagle and the brass devicelike a bomb, with a tuft of green metal oak-leaves growing out of thetop, that was a souvenir of the bloody field of Magenta. It had beenpressed upon Dunoisse by a flaxen-haired, blue-eyed Ensign of AustrianInfantry, whom he had rescued from under a hecatomb of dead men andhorses, still living, but blackened from asphyxia, the colors of hisregiment yet clutched in his cramped and blackened hands.

Even the bournous, the voluminous long-sleeved, hooded garmentof gray-white camel’s hair, bordered with delicate embroideries ofsilver and orange-red floss silk—that had its touching history; thathad been also the legacy of one who had nothing else to give.

“He was an Arab of pure blood, a pious Moslem, Sergeant-Major in theFirst Regiment of Spahis, a chief in his own right. He fell in theassault upon the Hill of Cypres. Towards the end of the day, whenthe sun had set upon Solferino’s field of carnage, and the pale moonwas reflected in the ponds of blood that had accumulated in everydepression of the ravaged ground, we found him, riddled with bullets,pierced with wounds, leaning with[Pg 14] his back against a little tree, hisbleeding Arab stallion standing by him as he prayed in the words of theProphet: ‘Lord, grant me pardon, and join me to the companionship onhigh!...’ He died two nights later upon a heap of bloody straw inthe Church of Santa Rosalia at Castiglione. This had been strapped inthe roll behind his saddle—his young bride had embroidered the goldand silken ornaments; in the field it had served him as a covering, anduntil the dead-cart came to remove the corpse,—as a pall.”

More relics yet. The broken lock of a Garibaldian musket fromCalatifimi. The guard of a Papal soldier’s saber from Castel Fidardo,brown with Sardinian blood.

More still.... The gilded ornament from the staff-top of a PrussianEagle—a souvenir of Liebenau, or was it Hühnerwasser? A Uhlanlance-head from Hochhausen. An exploded cartridge gathered on thefield of Alcolea, where the Spanish Royalists were beaten in 1868.And a French chassepot and a Prussian needle-gun, recallingthe grim tragedy of 1870 and the unspeakable disaster of Sedan. Whilea fantastically chased cross of Abyssinian gold, and a Bersagliere’splume of cocks’ feathers, their glossy dark green marred with driedblood, were eloquent of the massacre of the Italian troops at Dagoli,in ’87.

What memories were this old man’s!


Old Hector could have told you that such crowded, thronging memoriesaggravate the dull, throbbing ache of loneliness to torment. To re-readletters written in faded ink by beloved hands that lie molderingunder-ground, or are very far removed from us; or to brood upon thesoulless image of a soulful face that, dead or living, we may never seewith our earthly eyes again, does but exquisitely intensify the agonyof loss. We who are old and wise should know better than to seek toquench the heart’s thirst at such bitter Desert wells. Nevertheless,our eyes turn to the faded portrait, our hands touch the spring of thetarnished locket half-a-hundred times a day.

Upon the pillow beside the worn white head there invariably[Pg 15] lay astained and shabby Russia-leather letter-case, white at the edges withwear. It was fastened by a little lock of dainty mechanism, and thefine thin chain of bright steel links that was attached to it wentround the old man’s neck. He turned his head that his cheek might restagainst the letter-case, and a slow tear over-brimmed an underlid,and fell and sparkled on the dull brownish leather that had once beenbright and red. A silver plate, very worn and thin, bore an engraveddate and a brief direction:


It would be done by-and-by, he knew; for who would rob a dead old manof his dearest treasure? Moreover, the contents of the leather casewere valueless in ordinary eyes.

Just a package of letters penned in a fine, delicate, pointed,old-fashioned gentlewoman’s handwriting to the address of M. HectorDunoisse in half-a-dozen European capitals, and several cities andposting-towns of Turkey and Asiatic Russia; their condition rangingfrom the yellowed antiquity of more than fifty years back to thecomparative newness of the envelope that bore the London postmark ofthe previous 22nd of December, and the Zeiden stamp of three dayslater. For once a year, at Christmas-tide, was celebrated old HectorDunoisse’s joy-festival—when such a letter came to add its bulk to thenumber in the leather case.

He would be fastidiously particular about his toilet upon that day ofdays, he who was always so scrupulously neat. His silken white hairwould be arranged after the most becoming fashion, his cheeks and chinwould be shaved to polished marble smoothness, his venerable mustachewaxed with elaborate care. He would be attired in his best whiteflannel suit, crowned with his newest velvet cap, and adorned withall his Orders; while pastilles would be set burning about the room,fresh flowers would be placed, not only on the tiny altar with itstwinkling waxlights and colored plaster presentment of the Stable atBethlehem, but before a photograph in a tortoise-shell-and-silver framethat always stood upon a little table, beside his chair or bed. Aboutthe ebony pedestal of the marble bust that stood in[Pg 16] the shallow bayof the southeast window a garland would be twined of red-berried hollyand black-berried ivy, and delicately-tinted, sweet-scented hyacinths,grown under glass.... And then the hands of a nursing Sister or of amere hireling would open the letter, and hold the feebly-written sheetbefore Dunoisse’s burning eyes, and they would weep as they read, untiltheir bright black flame was quenched in scalding tears.

Do you laugh at the old lover with his heart of youthful fire, burningin the body that is all but dead? You will if you who read are young.Should you be at your full-orbed, splendid prime of womanhood ormanhood, you will smile as you pity. But those who have passed themeridian of life will sigh; for they are beginning to understand; andthose who are very old will smile and sigh together, and look wise—sowise! Because they have found out that Love is eternally young.

Oh, foolish Youth!—that deems the divine passion to be a matter ofred lips meeting red lips, bright eyes beaming into bright eyes, youngheart beating against young heart. Intolerant, splendid Prime, thatleaps to the imperious call of passion and revels in the deliriouspleasures of the senses. For you love is the plucking of the ripe,fragrant, juicy fruit; the rose-tinted foam upon the sparkling winethat brims the crystal goblet; the crown of rapture; the night ofjeweled stars and burning kisses that crowns the fierce day of Desire.

And ah! wise Age, experienced and deep, where Youth is all untaught,and Prime but a little more scholar-wise, and Middle Age but a beginnerat the book.... For you Love is the jewel in the matrix of the stone;the sacred lamp that burns unquenched within the sealed-up sepulcher;the flame that glows in the heart’s core the more hotly that snows ofyears lie on the head, and the icy blood creeps sluggishly through theclogged arteries; the sustenance and provender and nourishment of Lifeno less than the hope that smiles dauntlessly in the face of Death. Forto die is to follow whither she has gone,—to meet with him again. Canthose who seek to disprove the Being of their Creator with the subtlebrain He forged be in the truest sense of the word—lovers? I say No!For Love is an attribute of the Divine.

Those written sheets in the locked case of dulled crimson[Pg 17] leather,attached to the fine steel chain, told no tale of love....

Ah! the womanly, gracious letters, breathing warm friendship and kindlyinterest in the long-unseen, how diligently the old man had tried toread between their fine clear lines the one thing that he never foundfor all his searching. How devoutly they had been kept and cherished,how delicately and reverently handled.... But for seven long years nowthey had lain undisturbed in their receptacle, only seeing light whenit was opened with the little key that hung upon the steel chain, sothat the newest letter of all might be added to the treasured store.

Of late years, how brief they had become! From the three crowdedsheets of more than fifty years back, to the single sheet of tenyears—the quarter-sheet of five years ago—a mere message of kindremembrance, ending with the beloved name. It had been tragedy toDunoisse, this slow, gradual shortening of his allowance of what wasto him the bread of life. He could not understand it. Had he offendedher in some way? He dared to write to her and ask, by aid of the paidsecretary who typed from his painstaking dictation in a language whichshe did not understand. And the reply came in the caligraphy of astranger. He realized then what he had never before dreamed possible,that his worshiped lady had grown old.... A photograph accompaniedthe letter. He recognized, with a joyful leap of the heart, that thesweet, placid, aged face with the delicate folds of a fine lace shawlframing it, was beautiful and gracious still. Thenceforward, in atortoiseshell-and-silver frame, it stood upon the little table besidethe bed.

But in another year or two heavy news reached him. She had grownfeeble, barely able to trace with the gently-guided pen thewell-loved initials at the foot of the written page! The shock ofthis unlooked-for, appalling revelation made him very ill. He was nothimself for months,—never quite again what he had been.... A day wascoming when ... the letters might come no more. Her initials were sofaintly traced upon the last one that—that——

No, no! God was too kind to let her die before him. He clenched histoothless gums as he would have liked to clench his paralyzed hands,and clung desperately to his belief in the Divine Love.

[Pg 18]


To lie, helpless and lonely and old, and racked by pain, and to keep onbelieving in the Divine goodness, requires a caliber of mental strengthproportionately equal to the weakness of the sufferer. But it was toolate in the day for Dunoisse to doubt.

And here was his dear Moon swimming into view, rising from thetranslucent depths of a bottomless lagoon of sapphire ether, red Marsglowing at her pearly knee. A childlike content softened the lines thatpain and bitterness had graven on the old ivory face. He nodded, wellpleased.

“There you are! I see you! You have come as punctually as you alwaysdo, making my pain the easier to bear,” he murmured brokenly to theplanet. “You shine and look at me and understand; unlike men and womenwho talk, and talk, and comprehend nothing! And you are old, like mylove; and changeless, like my love; while yet my love, unlike you, iseternal; it will endure when you have passed away with Time. Dear Moon!is she looking at you too? Does she ever think of me? But that is agreat question you never answer. I can only lie and wait, and hope andlong ... in vain? Ah, God! If I could but know for certain that it hasnot been in vain!...”

Then, with a rush of furious crimson to the drawn cheeks and theknitted forehead, the barrier of his great and dauntless patiencebroke down before his pent-up passion’s flood. His features weretransfigured; the venerable saint became an aged, rebellious Lucifer.Words crowded from his writhing lips, despair and fury blazed in hisgreat black eyes.

“How long, O God, implacable in Thy judgments,” he cried, “must I liehere, a living soul immured in a dead body, and wait, and yearn, andlong? ‘Give thanks,’ say the priests, ‘that you have your Purgatory inthis world.’ Can there be any torture in Purgatory to vie with this Iam enduring? Has Hell worse pains than these? None! for Despair andDesolation sit on either side of me. I rebel against the appointmentsof the Divine Will. I doubt the Love of God.”

[Pg 19]

Rigor seized him, his racked nerves vibrated like smitten harp-strings,sweat streamed upon his clammy skin, the beating of his heart shook himand shook the bed, a crushing weight oppressed his panting lungs.

“It is so long, so very long!—sixteen years that I have lain here,”he moaned. “I was content at first, or could seem so. ‘Let me but livewhile she lives and die when she dies!—’ had always been my prayer. Ipray so still—yes, yes! but the long waiting is so terrible. When Ihad health and strength to labor incessantly, unrestingly, then I couldbear my banishment. Through the din and shock of charging squadrons,the rattle of musketry and the roar of artillery, the ceaseless rollof the ambulances and the shrieks of mangled men, one cannot hearthe selfish crying of the heart that starves for love. Even in timesof peace there was no pause, no slackening. To organize, administer,plan, devise, perfect,—what work, what work was always to be done! Nowthe work goes on. I lie here. They defer to me, appeal to me, consultme—oh, yes, they consult me! They are very considerate to the old manwho is now upon the shelf.”

He laughed and the strange sound woke an echo that appalled him. Itsounded so like the crazy laugh of a delirious fever-patient, or ofsome poor peasant wretch driven beyond his scanty wits by the horrorand the hideousness of War. He shook with nervous terror now, andclosed his eyes tightly that he might shut out all the familiar thingsthat had suddenly grown strange.

“Let me die, my God! I cannot bear Life longer!” he said more calmly.“Let her find me crouching upon the threshold of Paradise like afaithful hound, when she comes, borne by Thy rejoicing Angels to claimher glorious reward. I am not as courageous as I boasted myself; thesilence and the emptiness appal me. Let me die!—but what then of myletter that comes once a year?” he added in alarm. “No, no! I beseechThee, do not listen to me, a sinful, rebellious old grumbler. I amcontent—or I would be if the time were not so long.”

Something like a cool, light finger seemed as if drawn across hisburning eyelids. He opened them and smiled. For a long broad ray ofpure silvery moonshine, falling through the high southeast window uponthe white marble bust that stood upon the ebony pedestal against itsbackground[Pg 20] of mountain-peaks and sky, reached to the foot of his bed,and rising higher still, had flowed in impalpable waves of brightnessover the helpless feet, and covered the stiff white hands, and nowreached his face.

This was the moment for which he nightly waited in secret fear, andbreathless expectation and desire. Would the miracle happen, thisnight of all the nights? Would it visit him to bless or leave himuncomforted? He trembled with the desperate eagerness that might defeatits end.

The moon was full and rode high in the translucent heavens. To thelonely watcher the celestial orb suggested the likeness of a crystalLamp, burning with a light of inconceivable brilliance in a woman’swhite uplifted hand. He knew whose hand. His black eyes softened intolustrous, dreamy tenderness, a smile of welcome curved about his lips,as the moon-rays illuminated the marble features of the bust that stoodin the bay.

The face of the bust was the same as the old, beautiful face of thephotographic portrait that stood in its tortoise-shell-and-silverframe upon the little table by his bed. You saw it as the sculpturedpresentment of a woman still young, yet past youth. Slenderly framed,yet not fragile, the slight shoulders broad, the long rounded throata fitting pedestal for the high-domed, exquisitely proportioned head.Upon her rich, thick waving hair was set a little cap: close-fitting,sober, with a double-plaited border enclosing the clear, fine, ovalface, a little thin, a shade worn, as by anxiety and watching.

The face—her face!—was not turned towards the bed. It bent a littleaside as though its owner pondered. And that the fruit of suchreflection would be Action, swift, unflinching, prompt, direct—no onecould doubt who observed the purpose in the wide arching brows; thesalient, energetic jut of the rather prominent, slightly-aquiline nose,with its high-bred, finely-cut nostrils; the severity and sweetnessthat sat throned upon the lips; the rounded, decisive chin thatcompleted the womanly-fair image. A little shawl or cape was pinnedabout her shoulders; to the base of the pure column of the throat shewas virginally veiled and covered.

And if the chief impression she conveyed was Purity,[Pg 21] the dominant noteof her was Reflection. For the eyes beneath the thick white eyelidswere observant; the brain behind the broad brows pondered, reviewed,decided, planned.... It seemed as though in another moment she mustspeak; and the utterance would solve a difficulty; reduce confusioninto sanest order, throw light upon darkness; clear away some barrier;devise an expedient, formulate a rule....

There was not a line of voluptuous tenderness, not one amorous dimplewherein Cupid might play at hiding, in all the stern, sweet face. Shethought, and dreamed, and planned. And yet,...

And yet the full-orbed eyes, gray-blue under their heavy, white,darkly-lashed eyelids as the waters of her own English Channel, couldmelt, could glad, for he had seen!... The sensitive, determined mouthcould quiver into exquisite tenderness. The most cherished memory ofthis old man was that it had once kissed him.

Ah! if you are ignorant how the memory of one kiss can tinge andpermeate life, as the single drop of priceless Ghazipur attar couldimpart its fragrance to the limpid waters in the huge crystal blockskilled Eastern artificers hollowed out for Nur Mahal to bathe in,—youare fortunate; for such knowledge is the flower of sorrow, that hasbeen reared in loneliness and watered with tears. This one red rosemade summer amidst the snows of a nonagenarian’s closing years. He feltit warm upon his mouth; he heard his own voice across the arid steppesof Time crying to her passionately:

“Oh, my beloved! when we meet again I shall have deserved so much ofGod, that when I ask Him for my wages He will give me even you!”

What had he not done since then, what had he not suffered, how much hadhe not sacrificed, to keep this great vow? Had he not earned his wagesfull forty years ago? Yet God made no sign, and she had gone her waysand forgotten.

It was only in pity,—only in recognition of his being, like herself,the survivor of a vanished generation, almost the only human linkremaining to bind this restless Twentieth Century with the strenuous,splendid days of the early Victorian era, that she had written to himonce a year.

[Pg 22]

Only in pity, only in kindness was it, after all?

This one thing is certain, that at rare, irregular intervals, he reapedthe fruit of his long devotion—his unswerving, fanatical fidelity—inthe renewal of that lost, vanished, unforgettable moment of exquisitejoy.

As he sat in his wheeled-chair upon the Promenade of Zeiden, as he layupon his bed, he would feel, drawing nearer, nearer, the almost bodilypresence of a Thought that came from afar. A delicate thrilling ecstasywould penetrate and vivify the paralyzed nerves of his half-dead body,the blood would course in the frozen veins with the ardent vigor ofhis prime. He would see her, his beloved lady, in a halo of palemoonlight, bending to comfort—descending to bless. Once more he wouldkneel before her; yet again he would take the beloved hands in his, anddraw them upwards to his heart. And their lips would meet, and theirlooks would mingle, and then.... Oh! then the waking to loneliness, andsilence, and pain.


He was prone, when the visitations of her almost tangible Thought ofhim were interrupted by periods of unconsoled waiting, to doubt theactuality of his own experience. That was the worst agony of all, towhich the sharpest physical torments were preferable, when in the long,dreary, miserable nights a mocking voice would whisper in his reluctantear:

“You have been deceived. She never thinks of you. Driveling old dotard!she has long forgotten that night at Scutari. Why in the name ofFolly do you cling to your absurd conviction that she loved you then,that she loves you still? You have been deceived, I say. Curse her,blaspheme God, and die!”

“Be silent, be silent!” Dunoisse would say to the invisible owner ofthe mocking, jeering voice. “If I had the use of this dead right handto make the sign of the Cross, you would soon be disposed of. For Iknow who and what you are, very well!”

And he would clamp his lean jaws sternly together, and look up to thecarved walnut Crucifix with the Emblems of the Passion, that hung uponthe wall beside his bed. And[Pg 23] the thin, nagging voice would die away ina titter, and another Voice would whisper in the innermost shrine ofhis deep heart:

“My son, had I the use of My Arms when I hung upon the cross ofCalvary? Yet, nailed thereon beyond the possibility of human movement,did I not pluck the sting from Death, and rise victorious over theGrave, and tread down Satan under My wounded Feet? Answer, My littleson?”

And Dunoisse would whisper, falteringly:

“Lord, it is true! But Thou wert the Son of God most High, and I amonly a helpless, suffering, desolate old man, worn out and worthlessand forgotten!”

The Voice would answer:

“Thou art greater than a thousand Kings. Thou art more glorious thanan Archangel, of more value than all the stars that shine in thefirmament—being a man for whom Christ died! Be of good courage. Thistrial will not last long. Believe, endure, pray!... Hast thou forgottenthy compact with Me?”

Dunoisse would cry out of the depths with a rending sob:

“No! but it is a sin of presumption to seek to make bargains with God.The compact was impious.”

The Voice would say:

“Perhaps, yet thou didst make it: and thou hast kept it. Shall I beless faithful than thou?”

Dunoisse would falter:

“I should have loved Thee for Thyself above any creature Thou hastmade. To serve Thee for the love of even a perfect woman, was not thiswrong?”

“It may be so!” the Voice would answer, “and therefore I have visitedthee with My rods and scourgings. Yet, if I choose woman for My Meansof Grace, what is that to thee?”

Dunoisse would not be able to answer for weeping. The Voice wouldcontinue:

“Moreover, it may be that in loving this woman, My servant, thou hastloved Me. For she is pure, and I am the Fountain of Purity; she ischaritable, and I am Charity itself. She is beautiful of soul, belovedand loving, and I am unspeakable Beauty, and boundless, measurelessLove. Be courageous, little son of Mine! Believe, and hope, andpray!...”

[Pg 24]

Dunoisse would stammer with quivering lips:

“I believe!... I hope!... Lord, grant me strength to go on believingand hoping!”

Then he would fall peacefully asleep upon a pillow wet with tears. Orhe would lie awake and let his memory range over the prairies of deadyears that stretched away so far behind....

Will you hear some of the things that this old man remembered? Listen,then, if it be only for an hour. That is a little space of time, yousay, and truly. Yet I gave my youth and most of the things that men andwomen cherish, to buy this hour, dear, unknown friend!—of you.


At sixteen years of age Hector-Marie-Aymont-von Widinitz Dunoissefought his first duel, with a fellow-student of the Royal School ofTechnical Military Instruction, Rue de la Vallée Ste. Gabrielle.

The quarrel occurred after one of the weekly inspections by theGeneral-Commandant, when Hector, accoutered with the black shinysword-belt and cartridge-belt; armed with the sword, bayonet, and theheavy little brass-mounted, muzzle-loading musket, commonly displayed,when not in use, with two hundred and ninety-nine similar weapons inthe long gallery running above the class-rooms—when Hector with hisfellow-pupils of the First Division had performed a series of militaryevolutions in the presence of Miss Harriet Smithwick, admitted withother persons standing in the parental and protective relation tothe young neophytes of the School, to the dusty patch of tree-shadedgrass at the lower end of the smaller exercise-ground, where Messieursthe hundred-and-fifty pupils of the two companies of the JuniorCorps—the great boys of the Senior possessing a parade-ground tothemselves—commonly mustered for drill.

On other days, visitors and friends were received in a smallentrance-yard, dank and moist in wet weather, baking and gritty inhot; inhospitable and uninviting at all times; in which enclosure M.and Madame Cornu were[Pg 25] permitted by the authorities to purvey fruitand sweets, and a greasy kind of galette, with ices of dubiouscomplexion in June and July; and syrups of groseille andgrenadine, served hot—and rendered, if possible, even stickierand more vapidly cloying beverages by being thus served,—in the bitterwinter months.

The good Smithwick would have enjoyed herself better if permitted toascend to the department on the floor above the Infirmary, where MadameGaubert presided, in an atmosphere strongly flavored with soft-soap,over long rows of shelves divided into regulation pigeon-holes,containing within an officially-appointed space of one foot ten inchessquare the linen of young Hector and his companions. It would havesatisfied a burning curiosity from which the poor little lady had longsuffered, had she been permitted to observe for herself the process oflavation that deprived her ex-pupil’s shirts of every button, whileleaving the dirt untouched; and to gauge with her own eyes the holesof the rats and mice that ate such prodigious mouthfuls, not only inthe garments named, but in the sheets and bolster-covers, towels andnapkins, which, by the amiable dispensation of a paternal Government,the boy was permitted to bring from home.

Instead, the poor fluttered spinster occupied a small share of one ofthe green benches set beneath the shade of the semicircle of lime-treesat the lower end of the exercise-ground; her neighbors on the right andleft being the venerable Duchesse de Moulny of the Faubourg St-Honoréand Mademoiselle Pasbas of the Grand Opera Ballet. Pédelaborde,inventor of an Elixir for the preservation of the teeth to extremeold age, who in fact enjoyed a Government contract for attending tothe dental requirements of the young gentlemen of the School, weigheddown the bench at its farther end; and M. Bougon, principal physicianof the body to His Majesty King Louis-Philippe, balanced his meagerand wizened anatomy upon the other extremity. Nor was there the lackof sympathy between the occupants of the bench that might have beenexpected. The Duchesse had a grandson—Bougon a son—Pédelaborde anephew—the opera-dancer a young protégé (in whom, for thesake of an early friend, an officer of Cuirassiers, Mademoiselle tooka tender interest)—little Miss Smithwick the adored offspring of arevered employer,[Pg 26] to observe blandly, and discreetly manifest interestin, and secretly throb and glow and tremble for; so simple and commonand ordinary is Nature beneath all the mass of pretenses we pile uponher, so homespun are the cords of love, and sympathy, and interest,that move the human heart.

When the General-Commandant—for this was an ordinary informalinspection of young gentlemen in the School undress of beltedblouse and brass-badged, numbered képi, not the terrificbi-monthly review en grande tenue of the entire strength of theestablishment, when General, Colonel, Captains, Adjutants, the fourSergeants-Major, the six drummers, and all the pupils of the Juniorand Senior Corps, wearing the little cocked hat with the white plumeand gold lace trimming; the black leather stock, the blue frocked coatfaced with red, trimmed and adorned with gilt buttons and gold braid,must pass under the awful eye of a Field-Marshal, assisted by a Colonelof the Staff, a Major of Artillery, and a fearful array of CivilProfessors—when the General, addressing Alai-Joseph-Henri-Jules deMoulny, briefly remarked:

“Pupil No. 127, you have the neck of a pig and the finger-nails of agorilla! Another offense against that cleanliness which should adornthe person of a Soldier of France, and the galon of Corporal,which you disgrace, will be transferred to the sleeve of one moreworthy to wear it.”

You beheld the immense bonnet of the venerable aristocrat, itsgreat circular sweep of frontage filled with quillings of costlylace and chastely tinted cambric blossoms, its crown adorned withnodding plumes, awful as those upon the helmet of the Statue of theCommendatore, condescendingly bending towards the flamboyant headgearof the Pasbas—as the Duchesse begged to be informed, her lamentableinfirmity of deafness depriving her of the happiness of hearing thecommendations bestowed by his Chief upon her young relative,—whatMonsieur the General had actually said?

“I myself, Madame, failed to catch the expression of approval actuallyemployed. But,” explained Mademoiselle Pasbas, as she lowered herlorgnette and turned a candid look of angelic sweetness upon thedignified old[Pg 27] lady, “Madame may rely upon it that they were thoroughlymerited by the young gentleman upon whom they were bestowed.”

“I thank you, Mademoiselle.” The bonnet of the Duchesse bent ingracious acknowledgment. “It is incumbent upon the members of my familyto set an example. Nor do we fail of our duty, as a rule.”

Perhaps the roguish dimples of Mademoiselle Pasbas were a trifle morein evidence; possibly the humorous creases of enjoyment deepened in thestout Pédelaborde’s triple chin; it may be that the sardonic twinklebehind the narrow gold-rimmed spectacles of M. Bougon took on extrasignificance; but all three were as demure as pussycats, not evenexchanging a glance behind the overwhelming patrician headgear withthe stupendous feathers;—to see one another over it would have beenimpossible without standing on the bench. This is the simple truth,without a particle of exaggeration. My Aunt Julietta at this datepurchased from a fashionable milliner in the West End of London——Butmy Aunt Julietta has no business on the Calais side of the EnglishChannel!—let her and her bonnets wait!

The General’s salute closed the review. The pupils presented arms,a superb effect of a hundred and fifty muskets, not infrequentlythrilling parents to the bestowal of five-franc pieces; the sixdrummers beat the disperse as one overgrown hobbledehoy; the orderlyranks broke up. Discipline gave place to disorder. Boys ran, chasingone another and yelling, boys skylarked, punching and wrestling, boysargued in gesticulatory groups, or whispered in knots of two or threetogether.... The spectators on the painted benches behind the railinghad risen. Now they filed out by a door in the high-spiked wall behindthe dusty lime-trees, in whose yellow-green blossoms the brown beeshad been humming and droning all through the hot, bright day of June.The bees were also dusty, and the spectators were liberally powderedwith dust, for the clumping, wooden-heeled, iron toe-capped Schoolregulation shoes of the young gentlemen had raised clouds which wouldhave done credit to the evolutions of a battery of horse. And theyearning desires of Hector Dunoisse were turning in the direction ofa cooling draught of Madame Cornu’s grenadine, or of the thin,vinegary, red ration-wine;[Pg 28] when to him says Alain-Joseph-Henri-Julesde Moulny:

“Tell me, Redskin, didst thou twig my respected grand-mamma perchedin the front row between a variegated she-cockatoo and a molting oldfemale fowl, who held her head on one side, and cried into a cleanstarched pocket-hand-kerchief?”

“She did not cry!” warmly contradicted the young gentleman thusassailed. “It is her cold-in-the-head that never gets well until shegoes back to England for her holiday once a year; and then she hasmigraine instead. All the Smithwick family are like that, MissSmithwick says; it is an inherited delicacy of the constitution.”

“‘Smizzique ... Mees Smeezveek.’ ... There’s a name to go to bedwith!...” pursued de Moulny, his thick lips, that were nearly alwayschapped, curling back and upwards in his good-natured schoolboy’s grin.“And how old is she?—your Sm——. I cannot say it again!... And whydoes she wear a bonnet that was raked off the top of an ash-barrel, anda shawl that came off a hook at the Morgue?”

Young Hector had been conscious of the antiquated silk bonnet, in huethe faded maroon of pickling-cabbage, sadly bent as to its supportingframework of stiffened gauze and whalebone, by the repeated tumblesof the bonnet-box containing it off the high top-corner of the walnutwardrobe in Miss Smithwick’s fourth-floor sleeping-apartment at homein the Rue de la Chaussée-d’Antin. It had been eating into him like ablister all through the General’s inspection, that venerable wintryheadgear, with its limp veil like a sooty cellar-cobweb, dependingfrom its lopsided rim. To say nothing of the shawl, a venerable yellowcashmere atrocity, with long straggling white fringes, missing here andthere, where the tooth of Time had nibbled them away. But though thesearticles of apparel made good Smithwick’s ex-pupil feel sick and hotwith shame, they were not to be held up to ridicule. That was perfectlyclear....

Hector could not have told you why the thing was so clear; even ashe thrust a challenging elbow into the big de Moulny’s fleshy ribs,turning pale under the red Egyptian granite tint of skin that hadearned him his[Pg 29] nickname from these boys, his comrades—who like otherboys all the world over, had recently fallen under Fenimore Cooper’sspell—and said, with a dangerous glitter in his black-diamond eyes:

“I do not know how old she is—it is not possible for a gentleman toask a lady her age. But she is a lady!” he added, neatly interceptingthe contradiction before it could be uttered. “Une femme de bon ton,une femme comme il faut. Also she dresses as a lady should ...appropriately, gracefully, elegantly....” He added grandiloquently,tapping the brass hilt of his little School hanger: “I will teach youwith this, M. de Moulny, to admire that bonnet and that shawl!”

Nom d’un petit bonhomme!” spluttered the astonished de Moulny.But there was no relenting in Hector’s hard young face, though he wassecretly sick at the pit of his stomach and cold at heart.

“I will fight you!” he repeated.

De Moulny, always slow to wrath, began to lose his temper. Theoutspoken compliments of Monsieur the General had stung, and here wasa more insufferable smart. Also, it was a bosom friend who challenged.One may be angry with an enemy; it is the friend become foe who drivesus to frenzied rage.

He said, pouting his fleshy lips, sticking out his obstinate chin,staring at the changed unfriendly face, with eyes grown hard as bluestones:

“I do not know that I can oblige you by giving you the opportunity oflearning how quickly boasters are cured of brag. For one thing, I havemy stripe,” he added, holding up his head and looking arrogantly downhis nose.

“Since yesterday,” agreed Hector, pointedly. “And after to-day you willnot have it. The squad-paper will hang beside another fellow’s bed,—M.the Commandant will have reduced you to the ranks for uncleanliness onparade. So we will fight to-morrow.”

“Possibly!” acquiesced de Moulny, his heavy cheeks quivering withanger, his thick hands opening and shutting over the tucked-in thumbs.“Possibly!” he repeated. His sluggish temperament once fairly setalight, burned with the fierce roaring flame and the incandescent heatof a fire of cocoanut-shell. And it was in his power to be so wellrevenged! He went on, speaking through his nose:

[Pg 30]

“As it is only since yesterday that you became legitimately entitledto carry the name you bear, you may be admitted to know somethingof what happened yesterday.” He added: “But of what will happento-morrow, do not make too sure, for I may decline to do you the honorof correcting you. It is possible, that!” he added, as Hector staredat him aghast. “A gentleman may be a bastard—I have no objection to abar-sinister.... But you are not only your father’s son—you are alsoyour mother’s! We de Moulnys are ultra-Catholic——” This was excellentfrom Alain-Joseph-Henri-Jules, whose chaplet of beads lay rolling inthe dust at the bottom of the kitlocker at his bed-foot, and who wasscourged to Communion by the family Chaplain at Christmas and Easter,and at the Fête-Dieu. “Ultra-Catholic. And your mother was a Carmelitenun!”

“My mother assumed the Veil of Profession when I was eight years old.With my father’s consent and the approval of her Director,” saidHector, narrowing his eyelids and speaking between his small whiteteeth. “Therefore I may be pardoned for saying that the permission ofthe family of de Moulny was not indispensable, or required.”

Retorted de Moulny—and it was strange how the rough, unculturedintonations, the slipshod grammar, the slang of the exercise-yard andthe schoolroom, had been instinctively replaced in the mouths of theseboys by the phraseology of the outer world of men:

“You are accurate, M. Hector Dunoisse, in saying that your mother wasreceived into the Carmel when you were eight years old. What you do notadmit, or do not know, is that she was a professed Carmelite when youwere born.” He added, with a pout of disgust: “It is an infamy, a thinglike that!”

“The infamy is yours who slander her!” cried out Hector in thequavering staccato squeak of fury. “You lie!—do you hear?—You lie!”And struck de Moulny in the face.

[Pg 31]


Followed upon the blow a sputtering oath from de Moulny, succeededby a buzzing as of swarming hornets, as the various groups scatteredover the exercise-ground broke up and consolidated into a crowd.Hector and de Moulny, as the nucleus of the said crowd, were deafenedby interrogations, suffocated by the smell of red and blue dye,perspiration and pomatum, choked by the dense dust kicked up bythick, wooden-heeled, iron toe-capped shoes (each pupil blacked hisown, not neglecting the soles—at cockcrow every morning)—jostled,squeezed, hustled and mobbed by immature personalities destined tobe potential by-and-by in the remolding of a New France,—the saidpersonalities being contained in baggy red breeches and coarse blue,black-belted blouses. All the eyes belonging to all the faces underthe high-crowned, shiny-peaked caps of undress-wear, faces thin,faces fleshy, faces pimply, faces high-colored or pale—were roundand staring with curiosity. The Redskin had challenged de Moulny! Butde Moulny was his superior officer! The quarrel was about a woman.Sacred name of a pipe! Where was the affair to come off? In the Sallede Danse?—empty save at the State-appointed periods of agilityoccurring on two days in the week. In the yard behind the Department ofChemistry? That was a good place!

Meanwhile a duologue took place between the challenged and thechallenger, unheard in the general hubbub. Said de Moulny, blotchilypale excepting for the crimson patch upon one well-padded cheekbone,for his madness was dying out in him, and he was beginning to realizethe thing that he had done:

“What I have said is true: upon my honor! I heard it from my father.Or, to be more correct, I heard my father tell the story to Beyras, the Minister of Finance, and General d’Arville at thedinner-table only last night.” He added: “My grandmother and the otherladies had withdrawn. I had dined with them—it being Wednesday.Perhaps they forgot me, or thought I was too deep in the dessert tocare what they said. But if my mouth was[Pg 32] stuffed with strawberries andcream, and peaches and bonbons, my ears were empty, and I heard all Iwanted to hear.”

The crowd was listening now with all its ears. That image of de Moulnygormandizing tickled its sense of fun. There was a general giggle, andthe corners of the mouths went up as though pulled by one string. DeMoulny, sickening more and more at his task of explanation, went on,fumbling at his belt:

“As to remembering, that is very easy. Read me a page of a book, or acolumn of a newspaper twice—I will recite it you without an error,as you are very well aware. I will repeat you this that I heard inprivate, if you prefer it?”

Hector, between his small square teeth, said—the opposite of what helonged to say.... “There can be no privacy in a place like this. Iprefer that you should speak out, openly, before all here!”

There was a silence about the boys, broken only by a horse-laugh ortwo, a whinnying giggle. The piled-up faces all about, save one or two,were grave and attentive, the hands, clean or dirty, generally dirty,by which the listeners upon the outer circle of the interested crowdsupported themselves upon the shoulders of those who stood in front ofthem, unconsciously tightened their grip as de Moulny went on, slowlyand laboriously, as though repeating an imposition, while the red markupon his cheek deepened to blackish blue:

“How Marshal Dunoisse originally prevailed upon Sister Térèse de SaintFrançois, of the Carmelite Convent of Widinitz in Southern Bavaria,to break her vows for him, I have no idea. I am only repeating what Ihave heard, and I did not hear that. He went through a kind of ceremonywith her before a Protestant pastor in Switzerland; and three yearssubsequently to the birth of their son, induced a French Catholicpriest, ignorant, of course, that the lady was a Religious,—toadminister the Sacrament of Marriage.” De Moulny stopped to lick hisdry lips, and pursued: “By that ceremony you were made legitimate,per subsequens matrimonium, according to Canon Law.” Hesyllabled the Latin as conscientiously as a sacristan’s parrot mighthave done. “There is no doubt of the truth of all this; my father saidit to M. de Beyras and the General,[Pg 33] and what my father says isso—he never speaks without being sure!”

Hector knew a pang of envy of this boy who owned a father capable ofinspiring a confidence so immense. But he never took his eyes fromthose slowly moving lips of de Moulny’s, as the words came droppingout....

“Having made Madame his wife, and legitimatized her son by themarriage, Monsieur the Marshal instituted legal proceedings to recoverthe dowry paid by Madame’s father, the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz,to the Mother Prioress of the Carmelite Convent when his daughtertook the Veil. Monsieur the Marshal did not think it necessary totell Madame what he was doing.... Her determination some years later,to resume the habit of the Carmelite Order—provided the Church shehad outraged would receive her—was violently opposed by him. Buteventually”—de Moulny’s eyes flickered between their thick eyelids,and he licked his lips again as though Hector’s hot stare scorchedthem—“eventually he permitted it to be clearly understood; he statedin terms, the plainness of which there was no mistaking, that, ifthe Church would repay the dowry of the Princess Marie Bathilde vonWidinitz to the husband of Madame Dunoisse, Sœur Térèse de SaintFrançois might return to the Carmel whenever she felt disposed.”

Hector was sick at the pit of his stomach with loathing of the pictureof a father evoked. He blinked his stiff eyelids, clenched andunclenched his hot hands, opened and shut his mouth without bringingany words out of it. The Catholics among the listeners understood whyvery well. The Freethinkers yawned or smiled, the Atheists sneered ortittered, the Protestants wondered what all the rumpus was about? Andde Moulny went on:

“Here M. de Beyras broke in. He said: ‘The Swiss innkeeper spokethere!’ I do not know what he meant by that. The General answered,sniffing the bouquet of the Burgundy in his glass: ‘Rather than theBrigand of the Grand Army!’ Of course, I understood that allusionperfectly well!”

The prolonged effort of memory had taxed de Moulny. He puffed. Hectormade yet another effort, and got out in a strangling croak:

“The—the dowry. He did not succeed in——?”

[Pg 34]

De Moulny wrinkled his nose as though a nasty smell had offended theorgan.

“Unfortunately he did, although the money had been expended by thePrioress in clearing off a building-debt and endowing a House of Mercyfor the incurable sick poor. I do not know how the Prioress managed torepay it. Probably some wealthy Catholic nobleman came to her aid. Butwhat I do know is that the reply of the Reverend Mother to Monsieur theMarshal, conveyed to him through Madame Dunoisse’s Director, ran likethis: ‘We concede to you this money, the price of a soul. SisterTérèse de Saint François will return to the Convent forthwith.’”

Hector groaned.

“It was a great sum, this dowry?”

“My father says,” answered de Moulny, “the amount in silver thalersof Germany, comes to one million, one hundred-and-twenty-fivethousand of our francs. That will be forty-five thousand of yourEnglish sovereigns,” he added with a side-thrust at Hector’s weaknessof claiming, on the strength of a bare month’s holiday spent inthe foggy island, an authoritative acquaintance with its coinage,customs, scenery, people and vernacular. “The money,” he went on, “wasbequeathed to the Princess Marie Bathilde von Widinitz by her mother,whose dowry it had been. My father did not say so; possibly that maynot be true.”

Hector’s brows knitted. He mumbled, between burning anger and colddisgust:

“What can he have wanted with all that money? He had enoughbefore!”

“Some men never have enough,” said de Moulny, in his cold, heavy,contemptuous way. “What did he want it for? Perhaps to gamble away onthe green cloth or on the Bourse! Perhaps to spend upon his mistresses!Perhaps to make provision for you....”

“I will not have it!” snarled Hector.

“Nor would I in your place,” said de Moulny with one of his slow nods.“I like money well enough, but money with that taint upon it!... Robbedfrom the dying poor, to—bah!” He spat upon the trodden dust. “Now haveyou heard enough?” He added with an inflection that plucked at Hector’sheartstrings: “It did not give me pleasure listening to the story, Iassure you.”

[Pg 35]

Hector said:

“Thank you!”

The utterance was like a sob. De Moulny jumped at the sound, lookedabout him at the staring faces, back at the face of the boy who hadbeen his friend, and to whom he had done an injury that could never beundone, and cried out wildly:

“Why did you challenge me just now for a gaffe—a mere pieceof stupid joking—about the bonnet of an old woman who snivels in apocket-handkerchief? Do you not know that when once I get angry I amas mad as all Bicêtre? I swear to you that when I listened to thatstory it was with the determination never to repeat it!—to buryit!—to compel myself to forget it! Yet in a few hours....” He chokedand boggled, and the shamed blood that dyed his solid, ordinarilydough-colored countenance, obliterated that deepening bruise upon thecheekbone. “I apologize!” he at last managed to get out. “I have beenguilty of an unpardonable meanness! I ask you, before all here, toforget it! I beg you to forgive me!”

Hector said, in pain for the pain that was written in de Moulny’s face:

“De Moulny, I shall willingly accept your apology—after we havefought. You must understand that the lady of whose bonnet you spokeoffensively is my old English governess, once my mother’s dame decompagnie.... If she dried her eyes when she looked at me it musthave been because she was thinking of my mother, whom she loved; and—Imust have satisfaction for your contempt of those tears.... And—youhave refused to fight me because of my birth, you have told me of mymother’s sin, and of the sacrilege committed by my father. Do you notunderstand that this duel must take place? There can be no one whothinks otherwise here?”

Hector looked about him. There was a sudden buzz from the crowd thatsaid “No one!”

De Moulny said, with his eyes upon the ground: “I understand that Ihave been a brute and a savage. The meeting shall be where you please.I name my cousin Albert de Moulny for my second, unless he is ashamedto appear for one who has disgraced his name?”

It was so terrible, the bumptious, arrogant de Moulny’s self-abasement,that Hector turned his eyes elsewhere, and[Pg 36] even the most callous amongthe gazers winced at the sight. Albert de Moulny, red and lowering,butted his way to the side of his principal, savagely kicking the shinsof those boys who would not move. Hector, catching the alert eye ofPédelaborde, a fat, vivacious, brown-skinned, button-eyed youth who hadthe School Code of Honor at his stumpy finger-ends, and was known asthe best fencer of the Junior Corps, gave him a beckoning nod.

Sapristi!” panted the nephew of the man of teeth, as heemerged, smiling but rather squeezed, from the press of bodies, “soyou are going to give the fat one rhubarb for senna? Ten times Ithought you on the point of falling into each other’s arms! I heldon to my ears from pure fright!—there has not been an affair ofhonor amongst the Juniors for three months; we were getting moldy!By-the-way, which of us is to prig the skewers from the FencingTheater? De Moulny Younger or me? I suggest we toss up. As for deMoulny Elder—he is a bad swordsman—you are better than decent! Isay so!... It rests with you to cut his claws and his tail. He isstronger than you.... Saperlipopette! he has the arms of ablacksmith, but there are certain ruses to be employed in such acase—I said ruses, not tricks!—to gain time and tire a long-windedopponent. For example—saisissez-vous—you could stamp upon oneof your opponent’s feet during a corps à corps, thus creating adiversion——”

“I am no blackguard ... whatever else I may be!” said his principalsulkily.

“—Or if you felt in need of a rest,” pursued the enthusiastPédelaborde, “you could catch your point against the edge ofde Moulny’s guard, so as to bend it. Then a halt is called forstraightening the steel, and meanwhile—you get your second wind. Itis very simple! Or—you could permit your sword to fall when his bladebeats yours.... De Moulny would never do a thing like that, you say?not so dishonorable! Oh! que si! And I said these devices mightbe practiced in ease of need—not that they were in good form. Forexample! You could, if he lunges—and de Moulny’s lunge is anasty thing!—you could slip and overbalance. Fall to the ground, Imean, point up, so that he gets hit in that big belly of his. It’s anItalian mountebank-trick, I don’t recommend it, French fencing keepsto the high lines. But—tiens, mon œil!—to[Pg 37] skewer him like acockchafer, that would be a lark!”

“Your idea of a lark makes me sick!” broke out Hector, so savagely thatPédelaborde’s jaw dropped and his eyebrows shot towards his hair. Then:

“Messieurs The Pupils! Return To Your Studies!” bellowed themost bull-voiced of the three Sergeants of the Line, appointed toassist the Captain-Commandant in the drilling and disciplining of theyoung gentlemen of the Junior Corps.

The deafening gallop of three hundred regulation shoes followed asMessieurs the Pupils surged across the parade-ground, mobbed a momentat the wide pillared entrance to the Hall of the Class-Rooms, thenfoamed, a roaring torrent of boyhood, up the iron-shod staircase intothe gallery where the accouterments were racked, the brass-mountedmuskets piled with a clattering that woke the echoes in everystone-flagged passage and every high-ceilinged room of the big, raw,draughty building.

Hector had prophesied correctly. Before evening roll-call a further,deliberate, purposefully-flagrant breach of propriety on the part of deMoulny had caused him to be relieved of the responsibilities, with thegalon of Corporal. The duel was fought before reveille ofthe following day.

Perhaps half-a-dozen cadets were present beside the principals andtheir seconds. Deft Pédelaborde had purloined a pair of foils fromone of the wall-cases of the School of Fence. The combat took placeaccording to the most approved conditions of etiquette, at the rear ofthe Department of Chemistry, whose thick-walled, high-windowed rows oflaboratories harbored no possible observers at that hour. Everybodywore an expression of solemnity worthy of the occasion.... Pédelabordewas on his best behavior. As he himself said afterwards, “As good asbread.”

The buttons were ceremoniously broken off the foils. The opponents,stripped to their drawers, were placed: ... Hector looked at the bigfleshy white body of de Moulny, the deep chest and barreled ribsheaving gently with the even breathing, and a shudder went through him.He was remembering something that Pédelaborde had said. And his blade,when measured against that of his antagonist, shook so that Pédelabordecould barely restrain a whistle of dismay.

“My man has got the venette!” he thought, as de Moulny[Pg 38] Youngergave the word, and the duelists threw themselves on guard. Yet palpablythe advantage was with his man. If not like Hamlet, fat and scant ofbreath, de Moulny Elder was too much addicted to the consumption ofpastry, sweets, and fruit to be in hard condition. The contrast betweenhis sallow impassive bulk, its blonde whiteness intensified by thevivid green of a vine whose foliage richly clothed the wall that washis background, and the lithe slimness of Dunoisse, the slender boyishframework of bone covered with tough young muscle and lean flesh, theunblemished skin colored like the red Egyptian granite, was curious tosee.

A cat glared and humped and spat upon the wall behind de Moulny,brandishing a hugely-magnificent tail. Another cat growled and cursedhideously, below upon the grass-fringed flagstones. The rankness oftheir hate tainted the cool clean air. De Moulny, who loathed vilesmells, and was qualmishly sensible of his empty stomach, sniffedand grimaced.... And a pale rose-and-golden sunrise illuminatedthe lower edges of long fleets of pearl-white, pearl-gray-mottledclouds, traveling north-westwards at the bidding of the morningbreeze. The square tower of St. Étienne and the magnificent toweringdome-crowned dome of the Pantheon beyond, shone out in vivid delicateaquarelle-tints of slate-blue and olive-green, of umber and warmbrown.... The squat laboratory annexe, bristling with furnace-shafts,that made one side of the oblong, walled enclosure where the boyshad met to fight; the big barrack-like buildings of the School, weretouched to a certain beauty by the exquisite pure light, the clearfreshness of the new day. And as the sparrows of Paris began to chirpand flutter, her cocks to crow, her pigeons to preen and coo-coo, andher milk-carts to clatter over her historic paving-stones—not yetreplaced by the invention of Macadam—the horrible thing befell.

You cannot fence even with the buttoned foil, either for play orpractice, without being conscious that the primitive murderer hashis part in you. These boys, coming to the encounter half-heartedly,yielded ere long to the fascination of the deadliest game of all. Thestrangeness of the unmasked face, and the bare body opposed to thepoint, wore off. Hector and de Moulny, at first secretly conscious oftheir immaturity, painfully anxious to comport themselves[Pg 39] with dignityand coolness in the eyes of their fellows, mentally clinging withdesperation to evasive Rules, forgot their inexperience, and rose abovetheir youth, in the heat and strength and fury of that lust to slay....And by-and-by de Moulny had a jagged bleeding scratch upon the forearm,and Hector a trickling scarlet prick above the collar-bone, and nowthey fought in earnest, as Man and other predatory animals will, eachhaving tasted the other’s blood.

De Moulny’s wide, heavy parry, carried out time after time with thesame stiff, sweeping pump-handle movement of the arm, had warded offthe other’s sudden savage attack in quinte. He disengaged, dalliedin a clumsy feint, made a blundering opening, delivered one of hisfamous long-armed lunges. Hector, in act to riposte, trod upon a slugin the act of promenading over the dew-wet flagstones, reducing theland-mollusc of the rudimentary shell to a mere streak of sliminess;slipped on the streak, made an effort to recover his balance, and fell,in the seated position sacred to the Clown in the knockabout scenes ofa Pantomime, but with the right wrist at the wrong angle for the ducalhouse of de Moulny.

Your schoolboy is invariably entertained by the mishap of thesitter-down without premeditation. At Hector’s farcical slide and bumpthe spectators roared; the seconds grinned despite their officialgravity. De Moulny laughed too, they said afterwards; even as thebroken point of the foil pierced the abdominal bulge above thetightly-tied silk handkerchief that held up his thin, woolen drawers.A moment he hesitated, his heavy features flushing to crimson; thenhe said, with a queer kind of hiccough, staring down into Hector’shorrified eyes:

“That spoils my breakfast!”

And with the scarlet flush dying out in livid deadly paleness, deMoulny collapsed and fell forwards on the blade of the sword.


The Penal Department of the Royal School of Technical MilitaryInstruction, so soon to become an institution where the youth of thenation were taught to fight for Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity underthe banner of the Second[Pg 40] Republic of France,—the Penal Department wasa central passage in the basement of the Instructors’ Building, with aniron-grated gate at either end, and a row of seven cool stone cells oneither side, apartments favorable to salutary reflection, containingwithin a space of ten square feet a stool, and a window boarded to theupper panes.

In one of these Pupil 130, guilty of an offense of homicidal violenceagainst the person of a schoolfellow, was subjected to cold storage,pending the Military Court Martial of Inquiry which would follow thesentence pronounced by the Civil Director-in-Chief of Studies. Pendingboth, the offender, deprived of his brass-handled hanger and the esteemof his instructors, nourished upon bread and water—Seine water inthose unenlightened days, and Seine water but grudgingly dashed withthe thin red vinegary ration-wine—had nothing to do but sit astraddleon the three-legged stool, gripping the wooden edge between his thighs,and remember—and remember....

And see, painted on the semi-obscurity of the dimly-lighted cell,de Moulny’s plume of drab-colored fair hair crowning the high,knobbed, reflective forehead; the stony-blue eyes looking watchfully,intolerantly, from their narrow eye-orbits; the heavy blockish nose;the pouting underlip; the long, obstinate, projecting chin; the ugly,powerful, attractive young face moving watchfully from side to side onthe column of the muscular neck, in the hollow at the base of whichthe first light curly hairs began to grow and mass together, spreadingdownwards over the broad chest and fleshy pectorals in a luxurianceenvied by other boys, for to them hirsuteness meant strength, and to bestrong, for a man, meant everything....

He would hear de Moulny grunt as he lunged. He would straighten hisown arm for the riposte—tread on that thrice-accursed slug: feel thething squelch under his foot and slip: land in the ridiculous sittingposture, bump! upon those inhospitable paving-stones, shaken, inclinedto laugh, but horribly conscious that the point of the foil he stillmechanically gripped had entered human flesh....

That bulge of the big sallow body over the edge of the tightly-tiedwhite silk handkerchief! Just there the steel had entered.... There wasa little trickle of the dark red blood....

“That spoils my breakfast,” he would hear de Moulny[Pg 41] say.... He wouldsee him leaning forward with the forlorn schoolboy grin fixed uponhis scarlet face.... And then—there would be the facial change, frompainful red to ghastly bluish-yellow, and the limp heavy body woulddescend upon him, a crushing, overwhelming weight. The foil had brokenunder it.... Oh, God! And de Moulny would die.... And he, HectorDunoisse, his friend, who loved him, as Jonathan, David, would be hismurderer....

He leaped up in frenzy, oversetting the stool.... Came podgyPédelaborde in the twenty-ninth hour of a confinement that seemed tothe prisoner to have endured for weeks, in the character of one whosefeet are beautiful upon the mountains. Undeterred by the fact that hepossessed not the vestige of a voice, the dentist’s nephew had recourseto the method of communicating intelligence to one in durance vile,traditionally hit upon by the Sieur Blondel. A free translation of thelay is appended:

You have not cooked his goose!
(Although at the first go-off it appeared uncommonly like it!)
They’ve plugged him up with tow—(I mean the surgeons)
If he does not inflame—(and the beggar is as cool as a cucumber and as strong as a drayhorse!)
He may possibly get over it.
So keep up your pecker!” sang Pédelaborde.

Upon the captive Cœur-de-Lion the song of the Troubadour could hardlyhave had a more tonic effect. Hector sang out joyfully in answer:

“A thousand thanks, old boy!” and a savage access of appetitefollowing on the revulsion from black despair to immense relief, hepromptly plumped down on his stiff knees, and began to rummage in thesemi-obscurity for one of the stale bread-rations previously pitchedaway in disgust. And had found the farinaceous brickbat, and gothis sharp young teeth in it even as Pédelaborde was collared by thecurly-whiskered, red-faced, purple-nosed ex-Sergeant of the MunicipalGuard in charge of the Penal Department, and handed over to the SchoolPolice, as one arrested in the act of clandestinely communicating witha prisoner in the cells.

The civil ordeal beneath the shining spectacles of the[Pg 42]Director-in-Chief, assisted by the six Professors, the SchoolAdministrator, and the Treasurer, proved less awful than the culprithad reason to expect.

An imposition; Plutarch’s “Life of Marcus Crassus” to be written outfairly without blots or erasures, three times, was inflicted. Theaddress of the Director-in-Chief moved five out of the six Professorsto tears, so stately was it, so paternal, so moving in its expressions.The sixth Professor would have wept also, had he not, with his chinwedged in his stock and his hands folded upon his ample waistcoat, beensoundly, peacefully, sleeping in his chair.

Monseigneur le Duc had graciously entreated, said theDirector-in-Chief, clemency for one whose young, revengeful handhad well-nigh deprived him of his second son, and plunged himselfand his exalted family in anxiety of the most cruel. The future ofthe young sufferer, who, the Director-in-Chief was grateful to say,was pronounced by the surgeons to be progressing favorably—(“Thenhe was not inflamed!” ... thought Hector, with a rush of infiniterelief.)—the future of M. Alain de Moulny must inevitably be changedby this deplorable occurrence—a profession less arduous than themilitary must now inevitably be his. Let him who had reft the crownof laurels from the temples of his comrade reflect upon the graveconsequences of his act. The Director-in-Chief ended, rapping the tableas a signal to the Professor who had not wept, to wake up, “Pupil 130,you may now return to your studies, but, pending the decision of theMilitary Tribunal, you are Still Provisionally Under Arrest.”

The verdict of the Military Tribunal was in favor of the prisoner.It was decided that Pupil No. 130, roused to choler by an expressioninjurious to his family honor, had challenged Pupil No. 127 withjustification. Having already undergone three days’ imprisonment, nofurther punishment than a reprimand for leaving the dormitory beforebeat of drum would be administered by the Court, which rose as M. theGeneral gave the signal. And Hector was free.

But for many days after the completion of those three unblotted copiesof “Marcus Crassus” he did not see de Moulny.... He hung about theInfirmary, waiting for scraps of intelligence as a hungry cat was wontto hang about the kitchen quarters, wistful-eyed, hollow-flanked,[Pg 43]waiting for eleemosynary scraps. One of the two Sisters of Charity incharge took pity on him, perhaps both of them did.... A day came whenhe was admitted into the long bare sunshiny ward.... At the end nearestthe high west window that commanded a view of the flowery garden-bedsand neat green grass-plats surrounding the house of Monsieur theDirector-in-Chief, upon a low iron bedstead from which the curtains hadbeen stripped away, lay stretched a long body, to which an unpleasanteffect of bloated corpulence was imparted by the wicker cage that heldthe bedclothes up.... The long face that topped the body was verywhite, a lock of ashen blonde hair drooped over the knobby forehead;the pouting underlip hung lax; the blue eyes, less stony than of old,looked out of hollowed orbits; a sparse and scattered growth of fluffyreddish hairs had started on the lank jaws and long, powerful chin.Hector, conscious of his own egg-smooth cheeks, knew a momentary pangof envy of that incipient beard.... And then as de Moulny grinned inthe old cheerful boyish way, holding out a long attenuated arm andbony hand in welcome, something strangling seemed to grip him by thethroat....

Only de Moulny saw his tears. The Sister, considerately busy atthe other end of a long avenue of tenantless beds with checkedside-curtains, assiduously folded bandages at a little table, as thesobbing cry broke forth:

“Oh, Alain, I always loved you!—I would rather you had killed me thanhave lived to see you lie here! Oh! Alain!—Alain!”

“It does not matter,” said de Moulny, but his long upper lip quiveredand the water stood in his own eyes. “They will make a priest of menow, that is all. She”—he jerked his chin in the direction of the busySister—“would say the foil-thrust was a special grace. Tell me howParis is looking? I have not seen the slut for—how long?” He begana laugh, and broke off in the middle, and gave a grimace of pain.“Dame!—but that hurts!” he said before he could stop, and sawhis smart reflected in the other’s shamed, wet face, and winced at it.

“Pupil 127 must not excite himself or elevate his voice above a whisperin speaking. The orders of the Surgeon attending are stringent. It ismy duty to see that they are obeyed.”

[Pg 44]

Sister Edouard-Antoine had spoken. Hector rose up and saluted as thenun came gliding down the avenue of beds towards them, her beadsclattering and swinging by her side, her black robes sweeping thewell-scrubbed boards, her finger raised in admonition, solicitude onthe mild face within the coif of starched white linen....

“They shall be obeyed, my Sister,” said de Moulny in an elaboratewhisper. The Sister smiled and nodded, and went back to her work.Hector, on a rush-bottomed chair by the low bed, holding the hot, thin,bony hand, began to say:

“I went out yesterday—being Wednesday. Paris is looking as she alwayslooks—always will look, until England and Russia and Germany joinforces to invade France, and batter down her forts and spike herbatteries, and pound her churches and towers and palaces to powder withnewly-invented projectiles, bigger than any shell the world has everyet seen, filled with some fulminate of a thousand times the explosivepower of gunpowder....”

“Go it!” whispered de Moulny. Then a spark of fanatical enthusiasmkindled in his pale blue eyes. “An explosive of a thousand times thepower of gunpowder, you say!” he repeated. “Remember that inspection,and the grimy neck and black hands that cost me my Corporal’sgalon! I had been working in the Department of Chemistry thatmorning.... I had got all that black on me through a blow-up in thelaboratory. Nom d’un petit bonhomme! I thought I had discoveredit—then!—that explosive that is to send gunpowder to the wall.Listen——”

“Do not excite yourself!” begged Hector, “or the Sister will turn meout.”

De Moulny went on: “I shall pursue the thing no further, for how shallone who is to be a Catholic priest spend his time inventing explosivesto destroy men? But—one day you may take up the thread of discoverywhere I left off.”

“Or where the discovery went off!” suggested Hector.

De Moulny grinned, though his eyes were serious.

“Just so. But listen. I had been reading of the experiments madein 1832 by Braconnot of Nancy, who converted woody fiber into ahighly-combustible body by treating it with nitric acid. And I dippeda piece of carded cotton-wool in nitric, and washed it. Then I dippedit in[Pg 45] concentrated sulphuric. The sulphuric not only dehydrated thenitric—saisissez?—but took up the water. Then it occurredto me to test the expansive power of the substance in combustion bypacking it into a paper cone and lighting it. Well, I was packing thestuff with the end of an aluminum spatula, into the little paper case,when—but you must have heard?”

“Ps’st! Br’roum! Boum!” Hector nodded. “I heard, most certainly! Butlet me now tell you of Wednesday.” He leaned forwards, gripping theseat of the rush-bottomed chair between his knees with his strongsupple red hands as he had gripped the edge of the prison stool, andhis bright black eyes were eager on de Moulny’s.

“First I went and looked up at the outside of the great CarmeliteConvent in the Rue Vaugirard—the place where I was taken when I waseight years old, to say good-by to my mother before she went away....Where she was going they would not tell me—nor, though I have alwaysreceived a letter from her regularly twice a year, has there ever beenany address or postmark upon it by which I might be guided to findout her whereabouts. But of course she is at Widinitz, in the PrioryConvent there. And it seems to me that she did right in returning. Inher place I should have done the same. He says I say so becauseI have Carmel in my blood!”

A faint pink flush forced its way to the surface of de Moulny’s thicksallow skin. He whispered, averting his eyes:

“You have spoken to him about...?”

“When he heard of our—difference of opinion, he naturally inquired itscause.”

Hector’s small square white teeth showed in a silent mocking laugh thatwas not good to see. “He thought I fought in defense of my father’shonor. He said so. He may say so again—but he will not think it now!”

The boyish face changed and hardened at the recollection of thatinterview. Terrible words must have been exchanged between the fatherand the son. De Moulny, cadet of a family whose strongest hereditaryprinciple, next to piety towards the Church, was respect towardsparents, shuddered under his wicker-basket and patchwork coverlet.There was a cautious tap at the black swing-doors leading out upon thetile-paved passage. They parted, Madame[Pg 46] Gaubert appeared looking forthe Sister, caught her mild eye as she glanced round from her work,beckoned with an urgent finger and the whole of her vivacious face....The Sister rose, and the face vanished. As the doors closed behind thenun’s noiseless black draperies, Hector took up his tale:

“I said to him that the terms upon which he had permitted my mother toreturn to the bosom of the Church were infamous. He laughed at firstat what he called my pompous manner and fine choice of words. He wasvery witty about the recovery of the dowry—called it ‘squeezing thePope’s nose,’ ‘milking the black cow,’ and other things. Allthe while he pretended to laugh, but he gnashed his teeth through thelaughter in that ugly way he has.”

“I know!” de Moulny nodded.

“Then he reproached me for unfilial ingratitude. He said it wasto endow his only son with riches that he demanded return of thedowry—the surrender of the three-hundred-thousand silver thalers....‘You are a child now,’ he told me, ‘but when you are a man, when youneed money for play, dress, amusements, pleasure, women, you will cometo me hat in hand.’ I said: ‘Never in my life!...’ He told me: ‘Waituntil you are a man!’”

Hector pondered and rubbed his ear. De Moulny cackled faintly:

“He tweaked you well when he told you to wait, I see!”

Hector nodded, grimacing.

“To pull the hair, or tweak the ear, that was his Emperor’s habit, whenhe was in a good temper.... My father copies the habit, just as hecarries Spanish snuff loose in the pockets of his buff nankeen vestsand wears his right hand in the bosom—so!” He imitated the historicpose and went on: “He kept it there as he pinched and wrung with theleft finger and thumb”—the speaker gingerly touched the martyredear—“laughing all the time. I thought my ear would have come off,but I set my teeth and held my tongue.... Then he let go, and chuckedme under the chin—another trick of the Emperor’s. ‘A sprig of theblood-royal for Luitpold’s blood-pudding! That is not a bad return! Weshall have a fine Serene Highness presently for those good people ofWidinitz.’ And he went away laughing and scattering snuff all over hisvest and knee-breeches; he calls pantaloons ‘the pitiable[Pg 47] refuge oflegs without calves.’ Now, what did he mean by a Serene Highness forthose good people of Widinitz?”

“I—am—not quite sure.” De Moulny pastured upon a well-gnawedfinger-nail, pulled at his jutting underlip, and looked wise. “What Ithink he meant I shall not tell you now—! What I want you to do nowis to swear to me, solemnly, that you will never touch a franc of thatmoney.”

“I have promised.”

“A promise is good, but an oath is better.”

Hector began to laugh in a sheepish way, but de Moulny’s knobbyforehead was portentous. That mass of gold, reclaimed from the coffersof the Convent of Widinitz seemed to him the untouchable thing; thetaking it unpardonable—an act of simony his orthodox Catholic gorgerose at. So, as Hector looked at him, hesitating, he gnawed andglowered and breathed until he lost patience and hit the basket thatheld up the bedclothes with his fist, and whispered furiously:

“Swear, if you value my friendship! And I—I will swear, as you onceasked me—remember, Redskin!—as you once asked me!—to be your friendthrough life—to the edge of Death—beyond Death if that be permitted!”

Ah me! It is never the lover who loves the more, never the friendwhose friendship is the most ardent, who seeks the testing-proof oflove or friendship, who demands the crowning sacrifice in return forthe promise of a love that is never to grow cool, a loyalty that shallnever fail or falter....

Perhaps if the boy who was now to repeat the vow that the other boydictated had known at this juncture all that its keeping was toinvolve, he would have taken it all the same. Here before him lay hischosen friend, brought to the verge of that grave of which he spoke,laid low in the flower of his youth, in the pride of his strength,by the hand of him who loved him; the bright wings of his ambitionclipped, the prosaic, sedentary life of a theological student unrolledbefore him instead of the alluring, vari-colored career of soldierlyadventure, his well-loved researches in War-chemistry tabuforever by that pale, prohibitory reflection of the priestlytonsure.... Do you wonder that his will was as wax in the molding hands?

De Moulny’s Rosary, disinterred at the commencement[Pg 48] of hiswound-sickness from among the cake-crumbs and bits of flue at thebottom of his dormitory kit-locker by Sister Edouard-Antoine whensearching for nightcaps, hung upon one of the iron knobs at the headof his bed.... He reached up a long gaunt arm to get it; gave the bluestring of lapis-lazuli beads, with the silver Paternostersand silver-scrolled and figured Crucifix, into Hector’s hands, ...bade him, in a tone that already had something of the ecclesiasticalauthority, kiss the sacred Symbol and repeat the vow.

“‘I, Hector-Marie-Aymont-von Widinitz Dunoisse, solemnly swear anddepose’—where did de Moulny get all the big words he knew? ...‘swear and depose that I will never profit by one penny of the dowryof three-hundred-thousand silver thalers paid to the Prioress ofthe Convent of Widinitz as the dowry of my mother, the PrincessMarie-Bathilde von Widinitz, otherwise Dunoisse, in religion SisterTérèse de Saint François. So help me, Almighty God, and our BlessedLady! Amen.’”

He kissed the Crucifix de Moulny put to his lips, and de Moulny tookthe oath in his turn:

“And I, Alain-Joseph-Henri-Jules de Moulny, solemnly swear to be afaithful, true, and sincere friend to Hector-Marie-Aymont-von WidinitzDunoisse, through Life to the edge of Death, and beyond Death—if thatbe permitted? In Nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.Amen.”


The Crucifix was duly saluted, the Rosary hung back upon the bed-knob.

“Embrace me now, my friend,” said de Moulny, his blue eyes shiningunder a smooth forehead. Hector held out his hand.

“We will shake hands as English boys do. They ridicule our French wayof kissing, Miss Smithwick says.”

“And we die of laughter,” said de Moulny, “when we see them hand alady a cushion or a chair, or try to make a bow. If I had not thisbasket on my stomach I would get up and show you how my cousin RobertBertham comports himself in a drawing-room. He is certainly handsome,but stiff! His backbone must be a billiard-cue, nom d’un petit[Pg 49]bonhomme! Yet he can run and jump and row, for if he has not thegrace of an athlete he has the muscles of one. He was stroke of theEton Eight last year; they rowed against the School of Westminster in arace from Windsor Bridge to Surly and back, and beat. They have beatenthem again this year, Bertham tells me in his last letter. He writesFrench with a spade, as M. Magne would say.”

The nerves of both boys were tingling still with the recollection ofthe double compact they had sealed with an oath. Now they could look atone another without consciousness, and were glad to talk of Bertham,his English awkwardness and his British French. For mere humanitycannot for long together endure to respire the thin crystal air ofthe Higher Emotions. It must come down, and breathe the common airof ordinary life, and talk of everyday things, or perish. So Hectorlistened while de Moulny held forth.

“Bertham will be Bertham of Wraye when he succeeds to the peerageof his father. It is of ancient creation and highly respectable.He is my cousin by virtue of an alliance between our houses someeighteen years back, when my grandmother’s youngest daughter—my AuntGabrielle—married Lord Bertham, then Ambassador for England here.You know the English Embassy in the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré? Mygrandmother did not approve of the union at first, the Berthams areProtestants of the English Establishment. But an agreement was arrivedat with regard to my aunt’s faith and the faith of her daughters. Thesons, Robert and the younger boy ... but that’s my grandmother’s cross,she says, that she has heretics for grandsons.... My Aunt Gabrielle isa charming person—I am very fond of her. She boasts of being Englishto the backbone ... pleases her husband by wearing no costumes that arenot from the atelier of a London couturiére—that must beher cross, though she does not say so!” De Moulny grinned at hisown joke.

“How you talk!” said Hector, flushed with admiration of his idol’spowers of conversation.

“I like words,” said the idol, lightly taking the incense as his due.“Terms, expressions, phrases, combinations of these, please me likecombinations in Chemistry. I do not enjoy composition with the pen; thetongue is my preference. Perhaps I was meant for a diplomatic career.”His face fell as his eyes rested upon the basket that humped[Pg 50] thebedclothes. It cleared as he added, with an afterthought:

“Diplomacy is for priests as well as statesmen. Men of acumen andeloquence are wanted in the Church.” De Moulny folded his lean armsbehind his head, and perused the whitewashed ceiling.

“Tell me more about your cousin Bertham,” Hector begged, to lure deMoulny from the subject that had pricks for both.

“You are more interested in him than I am,” said de Moulny. “Hewrites to me, but I have not seen him since I spent an autumn monthat their château of Wraye in Peakshire two years ago. Theirfeudal customs were interesting, but their society.... Just Heaven,how dull! Even my Aunt Gabrielle could not enliven us. And he—mycousin Robert—who cannot fence, was scandalized because I do not box.Because I said: ‘If you fight with your fists, why not with the teethand the feet?’ That I should speak of the savate—it made himvery nearly ill.... He implored: ‘For God’s sake, never say that in thehearing of any other Eton fellows! They’ll make my life a hell if youdo!’ Say that in English, Redskin, you who have the tongue of John Bullat your finger-ends.”

Hector translated the words into the original English and repeated themfor de Moulny’s amusement.

“It must be a queer place, that Eton of theirs,” went on de Moulny.“When they leave to enter their Universities they know nothing. OfMathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Arithmetic, they are in ignorance.Their rowing and other sports—considered by all infinitely moreimportant than intellectual attainments—are ignored by the Directorsof the School, and yet—to these their chief efforts are addressed;to excel in strength is the ambition above all. They are flogged forthe most trifling offenses, upon the naked person with a birch, by theDirector-in-Chief of Studies, who is a clergyman of the EstablishedChurch. And the younger boys are servants to their elders.”

“We make them so here,” said Hector pointedly. “We subject them to theauthority that others exercised over us, and that they in their turnwill use over others.”

“Subjects are not serfs. These younger boys of Eton are worse usedthan serfs. They call the system of torture ‘fagging’; it is winked atby the Directors,” explained[Pg 51] de Moulny. “To be kicked and tormentedand beaten—that is to be fagged. To carry coals to make your master’sfire, to bring him buckets of water from the pump, to sweep and dustand black his boots, make his bed and sleep on the floor without evena blanket if he does not choose that you shall enjoy that luxury—thatis to be fagged, as Bertham knows it. They are infinitely worse offthan we, these sons of the English nobles and great landed gentlemen.And yet one thing that we have not got, they have”; de Moulny thrustout his underlip and wagged his big head, “and it is worth all—ornearly all these things we have that they have not. They are loyal toeach other. There is union among them. In Chemistry we know the valueof cohesion.... Well!... there is cohesion among these Eton boys.How much of it is there here? Not as much as—that!” He measured offan infinitesimal space upon the bitten finger-nail, and showed it toHector, who nodded confirmatively, saying:

“There is no currying favor with pions and tattling to masters,then? Or lending money at usury to other pupils—hein?”

“No!” said de Moulny, with a frowning shake of the head. “There isnone of that sort of thing. Because—Bertham told me!—the boy who wasproved to be guilty of it would have to leave Eton. Instantly. Or—itwould come about that that boy would be found dead; and as to how hedied”—he shrugged his shoulders expressively—“it would be as possibleto gain an explanation from the corpse, Bertham says, as to wring onefrom the resolute silence of the School.”

Hector knew a delicious thrill of mingled horror and admiration ofthose terrible young Britons, who could maintain honor among themselvesby such stark laws, and avenge betrayal by sentence so grim.

“But there are other rules in the Code of Eton that are imbecile,absolutely, on my honor, idiotic!” said de Moulny. “Not to button thelower button of the waistcoat—that is one rule which must not bebroken. Nor must Lower boys turn up their trousers in muddy weather, orwear greatcoats in cold, until their elders choose to set the example.And unless you are of high standing in the School, you dare not rollyour umbrella up. It is a presumption the whole School would resent.For another example, you are[Pg 52] invariably to say and maintain thatthings others can do and that you cannot, are bad form. Bertham saw memake a fire one day, camp-fashion, in five minutes, when he had beensweating like a porter for an hour without being able to kindle a deadstick. ‘It’s all very well,’ he said, with his eyebrows climbing upinto his curly hair, ‘for a fellow to light fires; but to do servant’swork well is bad form, our fellows would say.’”

“Why did you want a fire?” demanded Hector, balancing his rush-bottomedchair on one hind-leg.

“To boil some water,” de Moulny answered, his eyes busy with theflowery, sunshiny parterres of the Director’s garden. “Up on thePeakshire hills,” he added, a second later, “to heat some water tobathe a dog’s hurt leg. Oh! there’s not much of a story. Bertham and Ihad been out riding; we had dismounted, tied our horses to a gate, andclimbed Overmere Hill to look at a Roman camp that is on the top—veryperfect: entrenchments, chariot-road, even sentry-shelters to be madeout under the short nibbled grass.... Sheep as black as the gritstoneof the Peakshire hills were feeding there, scattered all aboutus—lower down an old white-haired shepherd was trying to collect them;his dog, one of the shaggy, long-haired, black-and-white English breedthat drives and guards sheep, seemed not to know its business. Berthamspoke of that, and the shepherd explained in his patois that thedog was not his, but had been borrowed of a neighbor—a misfortune hadhappened to his own. It had got the worst in a desperate fight withanother dog, a combat à outrance, fought perhaps in defense ofits master’s sheep; it was injured past cure; he thought he would fetchup a cord later, from the farm whose thatched roofs we could see downin the valley below, and put the unlucky creature out of its pain. Wethought we might be able to do something to prevent that execution,so Bertham and I went to the shed, an affair of hurdles and poles andbunches of heather, such as our Breton shepherds of Finistère and theCôtes du Nord build to shelter them from the weather....”

“And the dog?”

“The dog was lying in a pool of blood on the beaten earth floor. Ashoulder and the throat were terribly mangled, a fore-leg had beenbitten through; one would have said the creature had been worried by awolf rather than[Pg 53] a dog of its own breed. And she was sitting on theground beside it, holding its bloody head in her lap....”

De Moulny’s eyes blinked as though the Director’s blazing beds ofgilliflowers and calceolarias, geraniums and mignonette, had dazzledthem. Hector asked, with awakening interest in a story which had not atfirst promised much:

“Who was she?”

De Moulny stuck his chin out, and stated in his didactic way:

“She was the type of jeune personne of whom my grandmother wouldhave approved.”

“A young girl!” grumbled Hector, who at this period esteemed thefull-blown peony of womanhood above the opening rosebud. He shruggedone shoulder so contemptuously that de Moulny was nettled.

“One might say to you, ‘There are young girls and young girls.’”

“This one was charming, then?” Hector’s waning interest began to burnup again.

“Certainly, no! For,” said de Moulny authoritatively, “to be charmingyou must desire to charm. This young girl was innocent of any thoughtof coquetry. And—if you ask me whether she was beautiful, I shouldgive you again the negative. Beauty—the beauty of luxuriant hair,pale, silken brown, flowing, as a young girl’s should, loosely uponshoulders rather meager; the beauty of an exquisite skin, fresh, clear,burned like a nectarine on the oval cheeks where the sun had touchedit; beauty of eyes, those English eyes of blue-gray, more lustrous thanbrilliant, banded about the irises with velvety black, widely opened,thickly lashed—these she possessed, with features much too large forbeauty, with a form too undeveloped even to promise grace. But thequality or force that marked her out, distinguished her from others ofher age and sex, I have no name for that!”

“No?” Hector, not in the least interested, tried to look so, andapparently succeeded. De Moulny went on:

“No!—nor would you. Suppose you had met the Venerable Jeanne d’Arcin her peasant kirtle, driving her sheep or cows to pasture in thefields about Domremy in the days before her Voices spoke and said:‘Thou, Maid, art destined to deliver France!’ Or—what if youhad seen the Virgins[Pg 54] of the Temple at Jerusalem pass singing on theirway to the tribune surrounded with balconies, where while the MorningSacrifice burned upon the golden Altar to the fanfare of the silvertrumpets, they besought God Almighty, together with all Israel, for thespeedy coming of the Saviour of mankind.... Would not One among them,draped in her simple robe of hyacinth blue, covered with the white,plainly-girdled tunic, a veil of Syrian gauze upon her golden hair,have brought you the conviction that She, above all the women you hadever seen, was destined, marked out, set apart, created to serve apeculiar purpose of her Creator, stamped with His stamp——”

The hard blue eyes, burning now, encountered Hector’s astonished gape,and their owner barked out: “What are you opening your mouth so wideabout?”

Hector blurted out:

“Why—what for? Because you said that a raw English girl nursing adying sheep-dog on a mountain in Peakshire reminded you of the Maid ofOrleans and Our Blessed Lady!”

“And if I did?”

“But was she not English?... A Protestant?... a heretic?”

“Many of the Saints were heretics—until Our Lord called them,” said deMoulny, with that fanatical spark burning in his blue eye. “But He hadchosen them before He called. They bore the seal of His choice.”

“Perhaps you are right. No doubt you know best. It is you who are tobe——” Hector broke off.

“You were going to finish: ‘It is you who are to be a priest, notme...!’” de Moulny said, with the veins in his heavy forehead swelling,and a twitching muscle jerking down his pouting underlip.

“I forget what I was going to say,” declared Hector mendaciously, andpiled Ossa upon Pelion by begging de Moulny to go on with his story.“It interested hugely,” he said, even as he struggled to repress thethreatening yawn.

“What is there to tell?” grumbled de Moulny ungraciously. “She wasthere, that is all—with that dog that had been hurt. A pony she hadridden was grazing at the back of the shed, its bridle tied to thepommel of the saddle. Bertham approached her and saluted her; he knewher, it seems, and presented me. She spoke only of the dog—looked[Pg 55] atnothing but the dog! She could not bear to leave it, in case it shouldbe put to death by the master it could serve no more....”

Hector interrupted, for de Moulny’s voice had begun to sound as thoughhe were talking in his sleep:

“Tell me her name.”

“Her name is Ada Merling.”

Even on de Moulny’s French tongue the name was full of music; it cameto Hector’s ear like the sudden sweet gurgling thrill that makes theidler straying beneath low-hanging, green hazel-branches upon a Junemorning in an English wood or lane, look up and catch a glimpse of thegolden bill and the gleaming, black-plumaged head, before their owner,with a defiant “tuck-tuck!” takes wing, with curious slanting flight.The boy had a picture of the blackbird, not of the girl, in his mind,as de Moulny went on:

“True, the dog seemed at the last gasp, but if it were possible to stopthe bleeding, she said, there might be a chance, who knew? Ithad occurred to her that cold-water applications might check the flowof blood. ‘We will try, and see, Mademoiselle,’ said I.”

De Moulny’s tone was one of fatuous self-satisfaction.

“A rusty tin saucepan is lying in a corner of the shed. This I fillwith water from a little spring that trickles down the cliff behindus. We contribute handkerchiefs. Bertham and I hold the dog while shebathes the torn throat and shoulder, and bandages them. Remains theswollen leg. It occurs to me that fomentations of hot water might be ofuse there; I mention this idea. ‘Good! good!’ she cries, ‘we will makea fire and heat some.’ She sets to collecting the dry leaves and sticksthat are scattered in a corner. Bertham makes a pile of these, andattempts to kindle it with fusees.” A smile of ineffable conceit curvedde Moulny’s flabby pale cheeks and quirked the corners of his poutinglips. “He burns matches and he loses his temper; there is no otherresult. Then I stepped forward, bowed.... ‘Permit me, Mademoiselle,to show you how we arrange these things in my country.’” DeMoulny’s tone was so infinitely arrogant, his humility so evidentlymasked the extreme of bumptiousness, that Hector wondered how theathletic Bertham endured it without knocking him down?

“So I hollow a fireplace in the floor, with a pocket-knife[Pg 56] and a pieceof slate, devise a flue at each corner, light the fire—which burns,one can conceive, to a marvel.... She has meanwhile refilled the rustysaucepan at the little spring; she sets it on, the water boils, whenit occurs to us that we have no more handkerchiefs. But the shepherd’slinen blouse hangs behind the shed-door; at her bidding we tear thatinto strips.... All is done that can be done; we bid MademoiselleMerling au revoir. She will ride home presently when her patientis a little easier, she says. We volunteer to remain; she declines toallow us. She thanks us for our aid in a voice that has the clear ringof crystal—I can in no other way describe it! When I take my leave,I desire to kiss her hand. She permits me very gracefully; she speaksFrench, too, with elegance, as she asks where I learned to make afireplace so cleverly?

“‘We are taught these things,’ I say to her, ‘at the Royal School ofTechnical Military Instruction, in my Paris. For we do not think onequalified for being an officer, Mademoiselle, until he has learnedall the things that a private should know.’ Then it was that Berthammade that celebrated coq-à-l’âne about its being bad form todo servant’s work well. You should have seen the look she gave him.Sapristi!—with a surprise in it that cut to the quick. Shereplies: ‘Servants should respect and look up to us, and not despiseus; and how can they look up to us if we show ourselves less capablethan they? When I am older I mean to have a great house full of sickpeople to comfort and care for and nurse. And everythingthat has to be done for them I will learn to do with my own hands!’My sister Viviette would have said: ‘When I grow up I shall have arivière of pearls as big as pigeons’ eggs,’ or ‘I shall driveon the boulevards and in the Bois in an ivory-paneled barouche.’Then I ask a stupid question: ‘Is it that you are to be a Sister ofCharity, Mademoiselle?’ She answers, with a look of surprise: ‘Can noone but a nun care for the sick?’ I return: ‘In France, Mademoiselle,our sick-nurses are these holy women. They are welcome everywhere: inprivate houses and in public hospitals, in time of peace: and in thetime of war you will find them in the camp and on the battle-field.Your first patient is a soldier wounded in war,’ I say to her, pointingto the dog. ‘Perhaps it is an augury of the future?’

“‘War is a terrible thing,’ she answers me, and grows[Pg 57] pale, andher great eyes are fixed as though they look upon a corpse-strewnbattle-field. ‘I hope with all my heart that I may never see it!’ ‘Buta nurse must become inured to ugly and horrible sights, Mademoiselle,’I remind her. She replies: ‘I shall find courage to endure them when Ibecome a nurse.’ Then Bertham blurts out in his brusque way: ‘But younever will! Your people would not allow it. Wait and see if I am notright?’ She returns to him, with a smile, half the child’s, half thewoman’s, guileless and subtle at the same time, if you can understandthat? ‘We will wait—and you will see.’”

De Moulny’s whisper had dwindled to a mere thread of sound. He had longforgotten Hector, secretly pining for the end of a story that appearedto him as profoundly dull as interminably long; and, oblivious of theother’s martyrdom, talked only to himself.

“‘We will wait and you will see.... You have the courage of yourconvictions, Mademoiselle,’ I tell her, ‘and courage always succeeds.’She says in that crystal voice: ‘When things, stones or otherobstacles, are piled up in front of you to prevent your getting througha gap in the dyke, you don’t push because you might topple them allover, and kill somebody on the other side; and you don’t pull becauseyou might bring them all down on your own head. You lift the stonesaway, one at a time; and by-and-by you see light through a littlehole ... and then the hole gets bigger, and there is more and morelight.’... There I interpose.... ‘But if the stones to be moved are toobig for such little hands, Mademoiselle?’ And she answers, looking atthem gravely: ‘My hands are not little. And if they were, there wouldalways be men to lift the things that are too heavy, and do the thingsthat are too hard.’

“‘Men or boys, Mademoiselle?’ I question. Then she gives me her handonce more. ‘Thank you, M. de Moulny! I will not forget it was you whobuilt the fireplace, and helped to hold the dog.’ And Bertham was sojealous that he would not speak to me during the whole ride home!”

Upon that note of exultation the story ended. To Hector the recitalhad been of unmitigated dullness. Nothing but his loyalty to de Moulnyhad kept him from wriggling on his chair; had checked the yawns thathad threatened to unhinge his youthful jaws. Now he was[Pg 58] guilty of anoffense beside which yawning would have been pardonable. He opened hisblack eyes in a stare of youthful, insufferable curiosity, and calledout in his shrill young pipe:

“Jealous, do you say! Why, was he in love with her as well as you?”

De Moulny’s muscles jerked. He almost sat up in bed. A moment heremained glaring over the basket, speechless and livid with rage. Thenhe cried out furiously:

“Go away! Leave me! Go!—do you hear?”

And as Hector rose in dismay and stood blankly gaping at the convulsedand tragic face, de Moulny plucked the pillow from behind his head, andhurled that missile of low comedy at the cruel eyes that stung, andfell back upon the bolster with a cry of pain that froze the lucklessblunderer to the marrow. Hector fled then, as Sister Edouard-Antoine,summoned from her colloquy in the passage by the sound, came hurryingback to the bedside. Looking back as he plunged through the narrow,black swing-doors—doors very much like two coffin-lids on hinges,set up side by side, he saw the Sister bending over the long heavingbody on the bed, solicitude painted on the mild face framed in thestarched-white linen coif; and heard de Moulny’s muffled sobbing,mingled with her soft, consoling tones.

Why should de Moulny shed tears? Did he really hate the idea of beinga priest? And if so, would he be likely to love his friend Dunoisse,who had, with a broken foil, pointed out the way that ended in theseminary, the cassock, and the tonsure?

The savage, livid, loathing face rose up before Hector’s mentalvision—the furious cry that had issued from the twisted lips: “Go!Leave me! Go!—do you hear?” still rang in the boy’s ears. The look,the cry, were full of hate. Yet Alain had, but a moment before,solemnly sworn to be his friend.... When we are very young we believesuch oaths unbreakable.

Came Pédelaborde, and thrust a warty hand under Redskin’s elbow, as hestood frowning and pondering still, on the wide shallow doorstep of theInfirmary portico, brick-and-plaster Corinthian, elegant and chaste....

Hé bien, mon ami; nous voilà reconciliés? A visit of[Pg 59]sympathy, hein? It is quite proper! absolutely in rule....But”—Pédelaborde’s little yellow eyes twinkled and glittered in hisround brown face like a pair of highly-polished brass buttons, hissnub nose cocked itself with an air of infinite knowingness, hisbullet head of cropped black hair sparked intelligence from everybristle—“but—all the same, to call a spade a spade, saisissez?the trick that did the job for de Moulny is a dirty one. As an expert,I told you of it. As a gentleman, voyez?—I hardly expected youto use it!”

“A trick.... Use it!” Hector stuttered, and his round horrified starewould have added to de Moulny’s offense. “You don’t mean—you cannotbelieve that I——” He choked over the words.

Pédelaborde chuckled comfortably, thrusting his warty hands deep intothe pockets of his baggy red serge breeches.

“Why, just as he lunged after his feint, didn’tyou—hein? Plump!—in the act to riposte, and cleverly managed,too. Suppose he believes it a pure accident. I am not the fellow totell tales.... Honor”—Pédelaborde extracted one of the warty handson purpose to lay it upon his heart—“honor forbids. Now we’re on thesubject of honor, I have positively pledged mine to pay Mère Cornu atrifling sum I owe her—a mere matter of eight francs—could you lendthem until my uncle—hang the old skin-namalinks!—forks out with myallowance that is due?”

“I will lend you the money,” said Hector, wiping the sickly drops fromhis wet forehead. “But—I swear to you that was an accident—Islipped on a slug!” he added passionately. “Never dare to believe mecapable of an act so vile!”

He had not had the heart to spend a franc of his own monthly allowanceof two louis. He pulled the cash out of his pocket now; a handful ofsilver pieces, with one treasured napoleon shining amongst them, andwas picking out the eight francs from the bulk, when, with a pang, thebarbed memory of his oath drove home. Perhaps these coins were someinfinitesimal part of that accursed dowry....

“Take it all!—keep it! I do not want it back!” he stammered hurriedly,and thrust the wealthy handful upon greedy Pédelaborde so recklesslythat the napoleon and[Pg 60] several big silver coins escaped that worthy’swarty clutches, and dropped, ringing and rolling and spinning, making atemporary Tom Tiddler’s ground of the Junior’s parade.

Paid not to split! Saperlipopette!... Then there was no slug!He meant to do the thing!...”

Honest Pédelaborde, pausing even in the congenial task of pickingup gold and silver, straightened his back to stare hard after theRedskin’s retreating figure, and whistle with indrawn breath, through agap in his front teeth: “Phew-w!

Those little yellow eyes of the dentist’s nephew were sharp. The brainbehind them, though shallow, worked excellently in the interests ofPédelaborde. It occurred to him that when next Madame Cornu shouldclamor for the discharge of her bill for sweetstuff and pastry, thelittle affair of the trick fall might advantageously be mentioned again.


Alain-Joseph-Henri-Jules, cadet of the illustrious and ducal house ofde Moulny, recovered of his wound, much to the gratification of hisnoble family, more by grace of a sound constitution and the faithfulnursing of the Infirmary Sisters than by skill of the surgeons, whoknew appallingly little in those days of the treatment of internalwounds. He left the Royal School of Technical Military Instructionto travel abroad under the grandmaternal care of the Duchesse, forwhat the Chief Director gracefully termed the “reconstitution of hishealth.” Later he was reported to have entered as a student at theSeminary of Saint Sulpice. It was vain to ask Redskin whether this wastrue. You got no information out of the fellow. He had turned sulky,the pupils said, since the affair of the duel, which invested him inthe eyes even of the great boys of the Senior Corps, to which he wasshortly afterwards promoted, with a luridly-tinted halo of distinction.

So nobody save Hector was aware that after the first short, stiffletter or two Alain had ceased to write. In silence the Redskinbucklered his pride. Hitherto he had not permitted his love of studyto interfere with the more[Pg 61] serious business of amusement. Now heapplied himself to the acquisition of knowledge with a dogged, savageconcentration his Professors had never remarked in him before.Attending one of the stately half-yearly School receptions, arrayedin all the obsolete but imposing splendors of his gold-encrusted,epauletted, frogged, high-stocked uniform of ceremony, adorned withthe Cross of the Legion of Honor,—an Imperial decoration severelyignored by the Monarchy,—Marshal Dunoisse was complimented by theGeneral-Commandant and the Chief Director upon the brilliant abilitiesand remarkable progress of his son.

“So it seems the flea of work has bitten you?” the affectionate parentcommented a few days later, tweaking Hector’s ear in the Napoleonicmanner, and turning upon his son the fanged and gleaming smile, thatin conjunction with its owner’s superb height, fine form, boldly-cutswarthy features, fierce black eyes, and luxuriant black whiskers, hadearned for the ex-aide-de-camp of Napoleon I. the reputation ofan irresistible lady-killer.

The handsome features of the elderly dandy were thickened and inflamedby wine and good living, the limbs in the tight-fitting white stockinetpantaloons, for which he had reluctantly exchanged his golden-buckledknee-breeches; the extremities more often encased in narrow-toed,elastic-sided boots, or buckled pumps, than in the spurred Hessians,were swollen and shapeless with rheumatic gout. The hyacinthine locks,or the greater part of them, came from the atelier of MichalonMillière, His Majesty’s own hairdresser, in the Rue Feydeau; thewhiskers owed their jetty gloss to a patent pomade invented by thesame highly-patronized tonsorial artist. The broad black eyes werebloodshot, and could blaze under their bushy brows at times with anogre-like ferocity, but were not brilliant any more.

Yet, from the three maids to the stout Bretonne who was cook, fromthe cook to Miss Smithwick,—who had acted in the capacity of damede compagnie to Madame Dunoisse; had become governess to her sonwhen the gates of the Convent clashed once more behind the remorse andsorrow of that unhappy lady; and in these later years, now that Hectorhad outgrown her mild capacity for instruction, fulfilled the duties ofhousekeeper at No. 000, Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin,—the female staffof the ex-military[Pg 62] widower’s household worshiped Monsieur the Marshal.

“Do you think papa so handsome?” Hector, when a very small boy, wouldpipe out boldly. “He has eyes that are always angry, even when hesmiles. He gnashes his teeth when he laughs. He kicked Moustapho” (thepoodle) “so hard in the chest with the sharp toe of his shiny boot,when Moustapho dropped a macaroon he did not want, that Moustapho criedout loud with pain. He bullies the menservants and swears at them.He smells of Cognac, and is always spilling his snuff about on thecarpets, and tables, and chairs. Me, I think him ugly, for my part.”

“Your papa, my Hector, possesses in an eminent degree those personaladvantages to which the weakness of the female sex renders its membersfatally susceptible,” the gentle spinster said to her pupil; and shehad folded her tidy black mittens upon her neat stomacher as she saidit, and shaken her prim, respectable head with a sigh, adding, as hermild eye strayed between the lace and brocade window-curtains to thesmart, high-wheeled cabriolet waiting in the courtyard below; theglittering turnout with the showy, high-actioned mare in the shafts,and the little top-booted, liveried, cockaded, English groom hanging toher nose:

“I would that your dear mother had found it compatible with thefulfillment of her religious duties to remain at home! For theDomestic Affections, Hector, which flourish by the connubial fireside,are potent charms to restrain the too-ardent spirit, and recall thewandering heart.” And then Miss Smithwick had coughed and ended.

She winked at much that was scandalous in the life of her idol, thatprim, chaste, good woman; but who shall say that her unswervingfidelity and humble devotion did not act sometimes as a martingale?The bon-vivant, the gambler, the dissipated elderly buck ofthe First Napoleon’s Court, the ex-Adonis of the Tuileries, who neverwasted time in resisting the blandishments of any Venus of the Court ornymph of the Palais Royal, respected decent Smithwick, was even known,at the pathetic stage of wine, to refer to her as the only woman whohad ever understood him.

Yet when her sister (her sole remaining relative, who[Pg 63] lived upon asmall annuity, in the village of Hampstead, near London), sustaineda paralytic stroke, and Smithwick was recalled to nurse her, didthat poor lady’s employer dream of providing,—out of those hundredsof thousands of thalers wrested from the coffers of the Convent ofWidinitz,—for the old age of the faithful creature? You do not knowMonsieur the Marshal if you dream he did.

He generously paid her the quarter due of her annual salary of fifteenhundred francs, kissed her knuckly left hand with the garnet ring uponit, placed there by a pale young English curate deceased many yearspreviously—for even the Smithwicks have their romances and theirtragedies—told her that his “roof” was “open” to her whenever shedesired to return; and bowed her graciously out of his library, whoseEmpire bookcases were laden with costly editions of the classics,published by the Houbigants and the Chardins, Michaud and Buére (tomesof beauty that were fountains sealed to the illiterate master of thehouse), and whose walls were hung with splendid engravings by Renardand F. Chauveau, a few gems from the brushes of Watteau and Greuze,Boucher and Mignard; and one or two examples of the shining art of theyoung Meissonier.

The luxurious house in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin was lesswholesome for good Smithwick’s going. But I fear young Hectorregretted her departure less than he should have done. True, the meekgentlewoman had not been able to teach her patron’s son very much. Butshe had at least implanted in him the habit of truth, and the love ofsoap-and-water and clean linen. Last, but not least, she had taughthim to speak the English of the educated upper classes with barely atrace of accent, whereas the Paris-residing teachers of the tongue ofAlbion were in those days, and too frequently are in these, emigrantsfrom the green isle adjacent; Miss Maloney’s, Misther Magee’s, and Mrs.Maguire’s; equipped with the thinnest of skins for imagined injuries,and the thickest of brogues for voluble speech, that ever hailed fromDublin or Wexford, King’s County or the County Cork.

Not a servant of the household but had some parting gift forSmithwick—from the blue handkerchief full of apples offered bythe kitchen-girl, to the housemaid’s tribute of a crocheted lacefichu; from the cook’s canary-bird, a[Pg 64] piercing songster, tothe green parasol—a sweet thing no bigger than a plate, with six-inchfringe and an ivory handle with a hinge, to purchase which MonsieurBrousset, the Marshal’s valet, Duchard the butler, and Auguste thecoachman had clubbed francs.

The question of a token of remembrance for faithful Smithwick was athorn in her ex-pupil’s pillow. You are to understand that Redskin,in his blundering, boyish way, had been trying hard to keep inviolatethe oath imposed upon him by de Moulny. The monthly two louis ofpocket-money were scrupulously dropped each pay-day into the alms-boxof the Carmelite Church in the Rue Vaugirard, and what a hungry glarefollowed the vanishing coins, and to what miserable shifts the boyresorted in the endeavor to earn a meager pittance to supply his mostpressing needs, and what an unjust reputation for stinginess andparsimony he earned, when it became known that he was willing to helpdull or lazy students with their papers for pay, you can conceive.

He possessed the sum of five francs, amassed with difficulty afterthis fashion, and this represented the boy’s entire capital at thisjuncture. A five-franc piece is a handsome coin, but you cannot buyanything handsome with it, that is the trouble. The discovery ofthe scene-painter Daguerre, first made in 1830, was not publishedby the Government of France until 1839. Otherwise, how the faithfulheart of the attached Smithwick might have been gladdened by one ofthose inexpensive, oily-looking, semi-iridescent, strangely elusiveportraits; into which the recipient peered, making discoveries offamiliar leading features of relatives or friends, hailing them withjoy when found, never finding them all together.

A portrait, even a pencil miniature with stumped shadows, its outlinesfilled with the palest wash of water-color, was out of the question.There was a silhouettist in the Rue de Chaillot. To this artist Hectorresorted, and obtained a black paper profile, mounted and glazed, andenclosed in a gilt tin frame, at cost of all the boy possessed in theworld.

That the offering was a poor one never occurred to simple Smithwick.She received it with little squeaking, mouselike cries of delight, andgrief, and admiration; she ran at the tall, awkward, blushing youth tokiss him, unaware[Pg 65] how he recoiled from the affectionate dab of hercold, pink-ended nose.

You could not say that the organ in question was disproportionatelylarge, but its owner never managed to dispose of it inoffensively inthe act of osculation. It invariably got in the eye or the ear of therecipient of the caress. A nose so chill in contact, say authorities,indicates by inverse ratio the temperature of the heart.

Hector got leave from the School, and went with the poor troubledSmithwick to the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in theBoulevard des Capucines, where for ten of her scanty store of francsshe got her passport signed. Stout Auguste drove them in the shinybarouche with the high-steppers in silver-mounted harness, to meet thered Calais coach at the Public Posting-Office in the Rue Nôtre Dame desVictoires, whither one of the stablelads had wheeled Miss Smithwick’saged, piebald hair-trunk, her carpet-bag, and her three band-boxes on ahand-truck. And, judging by the coldness of the poor soul’s nose when,a very Niobe for tears, she kissed the son of her lost mistress and heradored patron good-by, the heart beneath Smithwick’s faded green velvetmantle must have been a very furnace of maternal love and tenderness.

“Never neglect the necessity of daily ablution of the entire person, mydearest boy!” entreated the poor gentlewoman, “or omit the exercises ofyour religion at morning and night. Instruct the domestics to see thatyour beloved papa’s linen is properly aired. I fear they will be onlytoo prone to neglect these necessary precautions when my surveillanceis withdrawn! And—though but a humble individual offers this counsel,remember, my Hector, that there are higher aims in life than the mereattainment of great wealth or lofty station. Self-respect, belovedchild, is worth far more!” She was extraordinarily earnest insaying this, shaking her thin gray curls with emphatic nods, holdingup a lean admonitory forefinger. “Persons with gifts and capacities asgreat, natures as noble and generous as your distinguished father’s,may be blinded by the sparkling luster of a jeweled scepter, allured bythe prospect of dominion, power, influence, rule....” What could goodSmithwick possibly be driving at? “But an unstained honor, my belovedboy, is worth more than these, and a clean conscience smooths the—waywe must all of[Pg 66] us travel!” She blinked the tears from her scanty,ginger-hued eyelashes, and added: “I have forfeited a confidence andregard I deeply appreciated, by perhaps unnecessarily believing itmy duty to reiterate this.” She coughed and dabbed her poor red eyeswith the damp white handkerchief held in the thin, shaking hand in theshabby glove; and continued: “But a day will come when the brief joysand bitter disillusions of this life will be at an end. The bitterestthat I have ever known come late, very late indeed!” Had Smithwick metit in the library that morning when the Marshal bade her adieu? “When Ilay my head upon my pillow to die, it will be with the conviction thatI did my duty. It has borne me fruit of sorrow. But I hope and praythat this chastening may be for my good. And oh! my dearest child, mayGod for ever bless and keep you!”

The mail-bags were stowed. The three inside passengers’ seats beingtaken, poor weeping Smithwick perforce was compelled to negotiate theladder, must climb into the cabriolet in company with the guard.With her thin elderly ankles upon her mind, it may be judged that nomore intelligible speech came from her. She peered round the tarredcanvas hood as the bugle flourished; she waved her wet handkerchief asthe long, stinging whip-lash cracked over the bony backs of the fourhigh-rumped, long-necked grays.... She was gone. Something had gone outof Hector’s life along with her; he had not loved her, yet she left agap behind. His heart was cold and heavy as he brought his eyes backfrom the dwindling red patch made by the mail amongst the vari-coloredParis street-traffic, but the hardening change that had begun in himfrom the very hour of de Moulny’s revelation stiffened the muscles ofhis face, and drove back the tears he might have shed.

“Holy blue!” gulped stout Auguste, who was sitting on his boxblubbering and mopping his eyes with a red cotton handkerchief, sadlyout of keeping with his superb mauve and yellow livery, blazing withgold lace and buttons, and the huge cocked hat that crowned hiswell-powdered wig. “There are gayer employments than seeing peopleoff, my faith there are! Who would have dreamed I should ever pipemy eye for the old girl! It is a pity she is gone? She was an honestcreature!” He[Pg 67] added huskily, tucking away the red cotton handkerchief:“One could do uncommonly well now with two fingers of wine?”

He cocked his thirsty eye at penniless Hector, who pretended not tohear him, and turned away abruptly; saying that he would walk back tothe School.

“That is not a chip of the old block, see you, when it comes to acart-wheel for drink-money,” said Auguste over his shoulder, as thesilver-harnessed blacks with much champing and high action, preparedto return to the stables in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, and thesilkstockinged footman mounted his perch behind.

“It is a learned prig,” pronounced the footman, authoritatively,adding: “They turn them out all of one pattern at that shop of his.”

“Yet he fought a duel,” said Auguste, deftly twirling the prancingsteeds into a by-street and pulling up outside a little, low-browedwine-shop much frequented by gold-laced liveries and cocked-hats. “Andcame off the victor,” he added, with a touch of pride.

“By a trick got up beforehand,” said the footman pithily, as he divedunder the striped awning, in at the wineshop door.

“Nothing of the sort!” denied Auguste.

“Just as you please,” said the footman, emerging with two brimmingpewter measures, “but none the less true. M. Pédelaborde’s nephew, whotaught the coup to M. Hector, told M. Alain de Moulny, longafter the affair, how cleverly he had been grassed. It was at theHôtel de Moulny, my crony Lacroix, M. Alain’s valet, was waiting inthe ante-room and listened at the door. Money passed, Lacroix says. M.Alain de Moulny paid Pédelaborde handsomely not to tell.”

“That is a story one doesn’t like the stink of,” said Auguste, makinga wry mouth, draining his measure, handing it back to the silk-calvedone, and spitting in the dust. “But the knowing fellow who taught M.Hector the dirty dodge and blows the gaff for hush-money, that is arank polecat, my word!”

A crude pronouncement with which the reader may possibly be inclined toagree.

[Pg 68]


The months went by. Hector ended his course at the School of TechnicalMilitary Instruction with honors, and his examiners, in recognitionof the gift for languages, the bent for Science, the administrativeand organizing capacities that were distinctive of this student,transferred him, with another equally promising youth, not to theAcademy of Ways, Works, and Transport, where the embryo artillery andengineer officers of the School of Technical Military Instruction wereusually ground and polished, but to the Training Institute for Officersof the Staff. An annual bounty tacked to the tail of the certificaterelieved that pressing necessity for pocket-money. Redskin, with feweranxieties upon his mind, could draw breath.

The Training Institute for Officers of the Staff was the School ofTechnical Military Instruction all over again, but upon a hugelymagnified scale. To mention the School was the unpardonable sin: youspent the first term in laboriously unlearning everything that hadbeen taught you there. On being admitted to the small gate adjacentto the large ones of wrought and gilded iron, you beheld the façadeof the Institute, its great portico crowned with a triangularpediment supported upon stately pillars, upon which was sculptured anemblematical bas-relief of France, seated on a trophy of conqueredcannon, instructing her sons in the military sciences, and distributingamong them weapons of war. Following your guide, you shortly afterwardsdiscovered two large yards full of young men in unbuttoned uniforms,supporting on their knees drawing-boards with squares of cartridgepaper pinned upon them, upon which they were busily delineating thevarious architectural features of the buildings of the Institute, whilea Colonel of the Corps of Instructors sternly or blandly surveyed thescene. Within the Institute, studies in Mathematics, Trigonometryand Topography, Cosmography, Geography, Chemistry, Artillery, FieldFortifications, Permanent Fortifications, Assault and Defense, Plans,Military Administration, Military Maneuvers, French, English, andGerman Literature, Fencing, Swimming,[Pg 69] and Horsemanship in all itsbranches were thoroughly and comprehensively taught. And once a quarterthe pupil-basket was picked over by skilled hands; and worthy youngmen, who were eminently fitted to serve their country in the inferiorcapacity as regimental officers, but did not possess the qualitiesnecessary for the making of Officers of the Staff, were, at that littlegate by the side of the great gilded iron ones, blandly shown out.

For, sane even in her maddest hour, France has never—under everyconceivable political condition, in every imaginable national crisis,and under whatever government—Monarchical, Imperial, or Republican,that may for the time being have got the upper hand—ceased laboringto insure the supply to her Army, constantly renewed, of officerscompetent to command armies, of scientists skilled in the innumerablemoves of the Great Game of War. Nor have other nations, Continental orinsular, ever failed to profit by France’s example, and follow France’slead.

The Marshal’s son was not dismissed by that dreaded little exit. Thefine flower of Young France grew in the neat parterres behind thoselofty gilded railings. Sous-lieutenant Hector Dunoisse found manyintellectual superiors among his comrades, whose society stimulated himto greater efforts. He worked, and presently began to win distinction;passed, with a specially-endorsed certificate, his examinations in thebranches of study already enumerated and a few more; served for threemonths as Supernumerary-Assistant-Adjutant with an Artillery Regimentat Nancy; did duty for a corresponding period in the same capacity atBelfort with a corps of Engineers; and then received his appointmentas Assistant-Adjutant to the 33rd Regiment of Chasseurs d’Afrique,quartered at Blidah.

Money would not be needed to make life tolerable at Blidah, wheremettlesome Arab horses could be bought by Chasseurs d’Afrique atreasonable prices, and the mastic and the thin Dalmatian wine wereexcellent and cheap. Algerian cigars and pipe-tobacco were obtainableat the outlay of a few coppers; and from every thicket of dwarf oakor alfa-grass, hares started out before the sportsman’s gun; andpartridges and Carthage hens were as plentiful as sparrows in Paris.

[Pg 70]

Yet even at Blidah Dunoisse knew the nip of poverty, and there weretimes when the pack that de Moulny’s hand had bound upon his shouldersgalled him sore. For—the stroke of a pen and one could have had allone wanted. It needed no more than that.

For in Paris, at the big hotel in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, inthe book-lined, weapon-adorned, half library, half smoking-room thatwas Redskin’s private den, and had been the boudoir of Marie Bathilde;there lay in a locked drawer of the inlaid ebony writing-table, awhite parchment-covered pass-book inscribed with the name of HectorDunoisse, and a book of pretty green-and-blue checks upon the MessieursRothschild, 9, Rue d’Artois. The dip of a quill in the ink, and one ofthe bland, well-dressed, middle-aged, discreet-looking cashiers behindthe golden grilles and the broad, gleaming rosewood counters, wouldhave opened a metal-lined drawer of gold louis, and plunged a coppershovel into the shining mass and filled the pockets of young Hector; ormore probably would have wetted a skillful forefinger and thumb—runover a thick roll of crackling pink, or blue, or gray billets debanque, jotted down the numbers, and handed the roll across thecounter to its owner, with a polite bow.

“So you think there is a curse upon my money, eh?” Monsieur theMarshal had said, upon an occasion when one of those scenes that leaveineffaceable scars upon the memory, had taken place between the fatherand the son.

Hector, spare, upright, muscular, lithe, ruddy of hue, bright of eye,steady of nerve, newly issued from the mint and stamped with the stampof the Training Institute, and appointed to join his regiment inAlgeria, turned pale under the reddish skin. He was silent.

“You have used none of it since you heard that story, hein?It would defile the soul and dirty the hands, hein?” queriedMonsieur the Marshal, plunging one of his own into the waistcoat-pocketwhere he kept his snuff, and taking an immense pinch. “Yet let me pointout that the allowance you disburse in pious alms and so forth——”Hector jumped, and wondered how his father had found out, and thendecided that it was only a good piece of guessing, “may not be anyportion of your mother’s dowry. I was not poor when I recovered thosethree hundred-and-twenty-thousand[Pg 71] silver thalers from the Prioress ofthe Carmelite Convent at Widinitz. I wished to be so much richer, thatis all!”

“Poverty,” said his son, breathing sharply through the nostrilsand looking squarely in the Marshal’s swollen, fierce-eyed,bushily-whiskered face, “poverty would have been some excuse—ifanything could have excused so great an——”

“‘Infamy,’ was the word you were going to use,” said Monsieur theMarshal, smiling across his great false teeth of Indian ivory, whichgolden bands retained in his jaws, and scattering Spanish snuff overhis white kersey, tightly-strapped pantaloons, as he trumpeted loudlyin a voluminous handkerchief of yellow China silk. “Pray do nothesitate to complete the sentence.”

But Hector did not complete the sentence. The Marshal went on,shrugging his shoulders and waving his ringed hands: “After all, it isbetter to be infamous than idiotic. You hamper your career by playingthe incorruptible; you are put to stupid shifts for money when plentyof money lies at your command.”

“Do I not know that?”

“You have won honors, and with them a reputation for parsimony—arecalled a brilliant screw,—name of a thousand devils!—among yourcomrades. You coach other men for pay; you translate foreign technicalworks for military publishers; you burn the candle at both ends andin the middle. It is all very honorable and scrupulous, but wouldthose who have sneered at you think better of you if they knew thetruth? You know they would not! Instead of being despised, you wouldbe laughed at for playing Don Quixote. That is one of the books I haveread,” Monsieur the Marshal added, pricked by the evident surprisewith which his son received this unexpected testimony of his parent’sliteracy. “One can get some useful things out of a book like that, eventhough the hero of it is mad as a March hare. It is one of the bookswith blood and marrow in them, as the Emperor would have said: booksthat—unlike those of your Chateaubriands, Hugos, Lamartines, the devilknows who else!—are the literature that nourish men who are alive,not wooden puppets of virtue and propriety whose strings are pulled bypriests—sacred name of——”

[Pg 72]

The Marshal went on, as his son stood silent before him, to lashhimself into a frenzy of rage that imperiled the seams of atight-waisted high-collared frock-coat of Frogé’s own building,and gave its wearer what the Germans term a red head; with suchaccompaniments of gasping and snorting, rollings of the eyes andstarting of the forehead-veins as are painfully suggestive of bleedingsand sinapisms; cuppings and hot bricks; soft-footed personages withshiny black bags, candles, wreaths of white, purple and yellowimmortelles inscribed with “Regrets,” and all the plumedpomp and sable circumstance of a funeral procession to the Cemeteryof Père La Chaise. He wound up at last, or rather, ran down; sank,puffing and perspiring and purple, into an easy chair.... Hector,who had listened with an unmoved countenance and heels correctlyapproximated, bowed and left the room, across which a broad ray ofsunshine fell from the high, velvet-draped windows, across the inlaidebony writing-table near which the Marshal lay back, wheezing andscowling, and muttering.... The thousands of shining motes that dancedin that wide golden beam might have been wasps; the old man about whomthey sported was so goaded and stung. Who wants to watch the Marshal inhis hour of rageful humiliation.... He fumed and cursed awhile underhis dyed mustaches, and then hit on an idea which made him chuckleand grin. He wheeled round, and splashed off a huge blotty letter tohis bankers, and from that day the sum of One Million One Hundred andTwenty-five Thousand Francs stood to the credit of Hector Dunoisse uponRothschild’s books, and stood untouched.... One did not need much moneyout in Algeria, the temptation to dip into the golden store was barelyfelt, the malice of the Marshal was not to be gratified just yet awhile.

Though perhaps it was not altogether malice that inspired that actionof Monsieur. His son forgot to question before long; forgot that olddesertion of de Moulny’s and its fanged tooth; forgot that check-bookdimming with dust that drifted through the keyhole of the locked drawerin the writing-table, whose key was on his ring.

For there came a day when the boy—for he was little more—rode out atthe Algiers Gate in command of a squadron of Chasseurs d’Afrique, underorders to reinforce the Zouaves garrisoning a hill-fort in Kabylia,threatened[Pg 73] with siege by a rebellious Arab Kaïd who had thrown up hisoffice, and his pay, and declared war against the Francos.

The rustle of the white cap-cover against his epaulet as he turned hishead, the jingle of the scabbard against his stirrup, the clink of thebridle, made pleasant harmony with the other clinking and jingling. Theair was cool before dawn, and the blue shadow of mighty Atlas stretchedfar over the plain of Metidja. In the deep-foliaged sycamores; from thecopses of mastic, the nightingales trilled: turtle-doves were drinkingand bathing in the mountain-rills, Zachar lifted a huge stony browupon the horizon.... A slender young trooper with a high, reedy, tenorvoice, sang an Arab song; his comrades joined in the chorus:

“Thy Fate in the balance, thy foot in the stirrup, before thee the pathof Honor. Ride on! Who knows what lies at the end of the long journey?Ride on!

“Life and Love, Death and Sleep, these are from the Hand of the Giver.Ride on! Thy Fate in the balance, thy foot in the stirrup, before theethe path of Honor! Ride on!”

So Dunoisse rode on; the feet of his Arab mare falling softly on thethick white dust of the Dalmatie Road. And the great mysterious Eastrose up before him, smiling her slow, mystic smile, and opened herolive-hued, jeweled arms, and drew the boy of twenty to her warm,perfumed bosom, and kissed him with kisses that are potent philters,and wove around him her magic spells. And he forgot all the things thatit had hurt him so to remember, for a space of two years.


When his two years’ service with the Cavalry were ended, he wastransferred, with his step as lieutenant, but still in the capacity ofAssistant-Adjutant, to the First Battalion, 999th Regiment of the Line,Paris; quartered in the Barracks of the Rue de l’Assyrie.

With the return to the familiar places of his boyhood,[Pg 74] those thingsthat Hector thought he had forgotten began to revive sufficiently tosting. A brother-officer spoke to him of de Moulny, who had quitted St.Sulpice a year previously, under a shadow so dark, it was discreetlyhinted, that only the paternal influence had saved him from expulsion.

Hector did not blaze out in passionate defense or exoneration of hiswhilom comrade and friend. He said, briefly and coldly: “Those who sayso lie! I used to know him!” And dropped the subject, as the chattererwas glad to do. For that duel fought by two schoolboys with disbuttonedfencing-foils six years before, was to be the first upon a list thatgrew and lengthened, and kept on growing and lengthening.... Unless youwere desirous of cold steel for breakfast, there were subjects thatmust not be trifled with in the hearing of Assistant-Adjutant HectorDunoisse.

The Catholic Church: Religious, particularly nuns; more particularlynuns of the Carmelite Order: ... instances of foul play in trials ofstrength and skill, particularly shady coups in fencing, slimtricks in the Game of the Sword. With other cause of offense provokingthe quid rides? you never were quite sure where they might cropup.

And the fellow was a fighter—loved risk, enjoyed danger....

Was the grass more slippery at one end of the paced-out ground than theother? There was no necessity to toss up unless Monsieur, the otherprincipal, insisted on observance of the strict formality—Dunoisserather preferred slippery grass. Was the sun in the eyes of Monsieurthe other principal? Change about by all means—Dunoisse rather enjoyedfacing the glare that made you blink. The gusty wind that might deflectyour pistol-bullet, the blowing dust that drifted into your eyes, mouthand nostrils, and that might provoke a cough or sneeze, just at thewrong moment for the swordsman; these conditions, justly regarded asunfavorable to continued existence, were rather courted than otherwiseby this young officer of the Staff.

At Blidah, it had been told about, that an Arab sorceress had given thesub-Adjutant a charm, insuring success in the duel. Only, to insurethis, the holder of the amulet must embrace the contrary odds and courtthe handicap. This story trotted back to Paris at Dunoisse’s heels; it[Pg 75]was told behind ladies’ fans in every drawing-room he entered. Womenliked it, it was so romantic; but men sneered, knowing the truth.

The truth, according to Pédelaborde, that is....

Like a poisonous thorn, that implied accusation of foul play made bythe dentist’s nephew on that morning when Redskin had visited theconvalescent de Moulny in the Infirmary of the School, had rankled inthe victim’s flesh since it had been planted there. Honest Pédelabordehad not been idle in spreading the story and ornamenting it. Nor, ifthe truth had been known, had de Moulny been the only hearer who hadpaid him to tell it no more.

Mud is mud, though in contrast with the foulness of the hands thatplaster it upon your garments, the vile stuff seems almost clean; anda slander listened to is a slander half-believed. The Pédelabordesinvariably find listeners; there are always paying customers for offal,or those who deal in it might find a more sweetly-smelling trade.


Dunoisse had not long returned to Paris when he received one of thoserare communications from his mother, bearing no address, forwarded bythe hands of the priest who had been the director of Madame Dunoisse.Lifeless, formal notes, without a throb in them, without a hint oftenderness to the eye incapable of reading between the rigid lines:

“J. M. J.—x.

My Son,

“I am told that you are well, have returned from Algeria in goodhealth, that your services have earned you distinguished mentionin the dispatches of your Colonel, and that your abilities seem topromise a career of brilliance. Giving thanks to Almighty God andto Our Blessed Lady, and praying with all my heart that the highestspiritual graces may be vouchsafed you in addition[Pg 76] to those mentaland bodily gifts which you already possess,

“I am,
“Your mother in Christ
Térèse de S. François.

“I love you and bless you! Pray also for me, my son!”

A picture burned up in living colors in the son’s memory as he read.Hector saw himself as a fair-haired boy of six in a little blue velvetdress, playing on the carpet of his mother’s boudoir. She sat in alow Indian cane chair with her year-old baby on her lap; a tiny MarieBathilde, whose death of some sudden infantile complaint a few monthslater, turned the thoughts of the mother definitely in the direction ofthe abandoned way of religion, the vocation lost.

Even the magnificent new rocking-horse, with real hairy hide, andredundant mane and tail, and a splendid saddle, bridle, and stirrupsof scarlet leather, could not blind the boy’s childish eyes to thebeauty of his mother. She was all in white; her skin had the gleam ofsatin and the pinky hue of rose-granite in its sheath of snow; shewas slender as a nymph, upright and lissome as a tall swaying reed ofthe river shore, with a wealth of black hair that crowned her smallhigh-bred head with a turban of silky, glistening coils, yet leftlooped braids to fall down to the narrow ribbon of silver tissue thatwas her girdle, defining the line of the bosom as girdles did longafter the death of the First Empire. And her child upon her knee was aspearly fair as she shone dark and lustrous, though with the mother’seyes of changeful gleaming gray, so dark as almost to seem black.

The boudoir opened at one side into a dome-shaped conservatory fullof palms and flowers, where a fountain played in an agate basin, andthrough the gush and tinkle of the falling water and the crackingof Hector’s toy-whip, Monsieur the Marshal had come upon the prettydomestic picture unseen and unheard. He stood in the archway that ledfrom the conservatory, a stalwart handsome figure of a soldierly dandyof middle-age, who has not yet begun to read in pretty women’s eyesthat his best days are over. His wife looked up from the child withwhich she played,[Pg 77] holding a bunch of cherries beyond reach of theeager, dimpled hands. Their glances met.

My own Marie!—was this not worth it?” Achille Dunoisse hadexclaimed.

And Madame Dunoisse had answered, with a strange, wild, haggard changeupon her beautiful face, looking her husband fully in the eyes:

Perhaps, if this were all——”

And had put down the startled child upon a cushion near, and risen, andgone swiftly without a backward look, out of the exquisite luxuriousroom, into the bedchamber that was beyond, shutting and locking thedoor behind her, leaving the discomfited Adonis to shrug, and exclaim:

“So much for married happiness!”

Then, turning to the boy who sat upon the rocking-horse, forgetfulof the toy, absorbing the scene with wide, grave eyes and curious,innocent ears, Monsieur the Marshal had said abruptly:

“My son, when you grow up, never marry a woman with a religion.”

To whom little Hector had promptly replied:

“Of course I shall not marry a woman. I shall marry a little girl in apink frock!”

How rife with tragic meaning the little scene appeared, now that theboy who had flogged the red-caparisoned rocking-horse had grown toman’s estate.

Those frozen letters of his mother’s! What a contrast they presentedto the gushing epistles of poor old Smithwick, studded with notesof exclamation, bristling with terms of endearment, crammed withaffectionate messages, touching reminiscences of happier days indear, dear Paris, always underlined....

The prim sandaled feet of the poor old maiden were set in stony placessince the death of the paralytic sister, to nurse whom she had returnedto what she invariably termed her “native isle of Britain.”... Even toHector’s inexperience those letters, in their very reticence upon thesubject of poor Smithwick’s need, breathed of poverty. The straitnessof his own means galled him horribly when he read in Smithwick’s neat,prim, ladylike calligraphy confessions such as these:

[Pg 78]

“The annuity originally secured to my beloved sister by purchase havingceased at her death, I am fain to seek employment in genteelfamilies as a teacher of the French language, with which—no one knowsbetter than my dearest Hector—I am thoroughly conversant. Iwould not willingly complain against the lot which Providence hasappointed me. But so small are the emoluments to be gained fromthis profession, that I fear existence cannot be long supported uponthe scant subsistence they afford.”

The pinch of poverty is never more acutely felt than by theopen-handed. In Africa Dunoisse had been sensible of the gnawing toothof poverty. In Paris it had claws as well as teeth.

To have had five thousand francs to send to poor old Smithwick! Tohave been able to invest a snug sum for her in some solid Britishconcern—those Government Three per Cents, for instance, of which thepoor lady had always spoken with such reverence and respect. Or to havebought her a bundle of shares in one of the English Railway Companies,whose steel spider-webs were beginning to spread over the UnitedKingdom about this time. What would her old pupil not have given!And—it could have been done so easily if only he could have broughthimself to fill in one of those checks upon Rothschild. But the thingwas impossible.

His gorge rose at it. His religious principles were too deeply rooted,his honor stood too high, or possibly the temptation was not strongenough? There was little of the primal Eve about poor old shabbySmithwick. When white hands, whose touch thrilled to the heart’s core,should be stretched out to him for some of that banked-up gold; wheneyes whose luster tears discreetly shed only enhanced should be raisedpleadingly to his; when an exquisite mouth should entreat, Hector wasto find that one’s own oaths, no less than the oaths of one’s friends,are brittle things; and that in the heat of the passion that is kindledin a young and ardent man by the breath of a beautiful woman, Religionand Principle and Honor are but as wax in flame.

[Pg 79]


He scraped a few hundred francs together and sent them to poor oldSmithwick, and received another letter of disproportionately-measuredgratitude for the meager gift that might so easily have been a richone, if....

He learned from a very little paragraph at the end of the gratefulletter that his faithful old friend had broken down in health. Thatshe had been seriously ill “from the effects of over-anxiety anda too strenuous battle with adversity,” ending with piousthanks to Providence—Smithwick was always curiously anxious to avoidreferences of a more sacred nature—that, “through the introductionand recommendation of a most generous friend,” she had obtainedadmission as an inmate of the Hospice for Sick Governesses in CavendishStreet, London, West, “a noble charity conducted upon thepurest Christian principles, where I hope, D. V., to spend myclosing days in peace.”

Were they so near, those closing days of the simple, honorable, uprightlife? Gratitude, respect, old association, a chivalrous pity for thewoman, sick, and poor, and old, conspired to make the first step onthe Road Perilous easier than her pupil would have imagined. He gotupon his iron-gray Arab, Djelma, dearest and most valuable of the fewpossessions owned by this son of a millionaire, and rode to the Rued’Artois with the leveled brows and cold, set face of a man who ridesto dishonor.

Upon the very steps of Rothschild’s, a brother-officer of the Regimentof Line to which our young sprig of the Staff was attached in thecapacity of Assistant-Adjutant, met and repaid Dunoisse an ancient,moss-grown, long-forgotten debt of three thousand francs.

“You come fort à propos—for you, that is! Here, catch hold!Sorry I met you! You’re not, I’ll bet you this whacking lump!” Monsieurthe Captain joyfully flourished the stout roll of billets debanque, from which he had stripped the notes he now thrust underDunoisse’s nose. “Wonder where I got ’em? Inside there”—a thumbclothed in lemon-colored kid jerked over the shoulder—“from oneof those powdered old cocks behind the gilt balusters. My old girlhas stumped with a vengeance[Pg 80] this time. I told her my tailor was aChevalier of the Legion of Honor, and had sent me a cartelbecause I hadn’t paid his bill.” One is sorry to record that Monsieurthe Captain’s “old girl” was no less stately a person than Madamela Comtesse de Kerouatte, of the Château de Pigandel, Ploubanou, LaBretagne. “She swallowed the story, and see the result. Don’t shy attaking the plasters. You can lend me again when I’m broke! Pouch! andva te promener!”

So Dunoisse gratefully took the tendered banknotes and with one ofthem an outside place on the blue Havre diligence, rattling out ofParis, next morning, behind its four bony bays, ere the milkwomen, andpostmen, and newspaper-carts began their rounds.

The salt fresh wind stinging his red-brown skin, the salterspray upon his lips, the veiled and shawled and muffled ladies,and cloaked and greatcoated gentlemen, already extended on thedeck-seats and deck-chairs of the steam-packet Britannia ofSouthampton—patiently waiting to be dreadfully indisposed in littlebasins that were dealt out by the brisk, hurrying, gilt-buttonedstewards as cards are dealt at whist; the glasses of brandy-and-waterbeing called for by robust Britons, champing ham sandwiches withmustard on their upper lips, and good-fellowship beaming out of theirlarge pink, whiskered faces; the tumblers of eau sucrée beingordered by French travelers, who invariably got toast-and-waterinstead; the swaying crates of luggage, the man-traps made by coilsof rope on wet and slippery decks, the crash of waves hitting bows orpaddle-wheels, the shrieks of scared females, convinced their last hourhad come,—recalled to Dunoisse his boyish visit to what poor Smithwickhad invariably termed “the shores of Albion.”

He remembered with gratitude the self-denying hospitality of the poorsisters: the little home at Hampstead, the golden-blossomed furze ofthe Heath, came back to him with extraordinary vividness. Down to thepiping bullfinch, whose cage hung in the little front parlor-window,and whose répertoire, consisting of the first bar of “Home,Sweet Home,” the boy had endeavored to enlarge with the melodies of“Partant Pour La Syrie” and “Jeanette et Jeannot,” everydetail stood clear.

And here was England, upon a pale gray February[Pg 81] morning, under skiesthat wept cold heavy tears of partly-melted snow. Black fungus-growthsof umbrellas were clustered on the quay; the thick air smelled ofoilskins and wet mackintoshes. And so across a dripping gangway to asplashy paved incline that ended in a Railway Station, for insteadof coaching through Hants and Surrey to Middlesex by the scarlet“Defiance” or the yellow “Tally-Ho!” you traveled by the Iron Road allthe way to London.

You are to picture the splay-wheeled, giraffe-necked locomotive ofthe time, with the top of the funnel nicked like the cut paper rounda cutlet-bone; the high-bodied carriages, with little windows andhard hair-cloth cushions; the gentlemen passengers in shaggy hatswith curly brims, high-waisted coats, with immense roll-collars, andfull-hipped trousers strapped down over shiny boots; assisting ladiesin coal-scuttle bonnets, and pelerines trimmed with fur, worn overgored skirts, swelled out by a multiplicity of starched, embroideredpetticoats, affording peeps of pantalettes and sandals, to alight or toascend....

Pray understand that there was no jumping. Violent movement was notconsidered genteel. Supposing you to be of the softer sex—it wassofter in those days than it is now!—you were swanlike or sprightly,according to your height, figure, and the shape of your nose, and yourname almost invariably ended in “anna” or “ina” or “etta.”

My Aunt Julietta was sprightly. She had a nose ever so slightly turnedup at the end, and a dimple in her left cheek. Her elder sister, oneof her elder sisters—Aunt Julietta was the youngest of six—herelder, Marietta, was swanlike, with a long neck and champagne-bottleshoulders, and the most elegant Early Victorian figure you canconceive; a fiddle of the old pattern has such a waist and hips.

Both my aunts traveled by this very train, in the same first-classcompartment as the Assistant-Adjutant of the 999th Regiment of theLine. The young ladies were, in fact, returning from a visit to theelegant and hospitable family mansion of Sir Tackton Wackton, Baronet,of Wops Hall, Hants; whose elder daughter had been their schoolfellowand bosom-friend at the Misses Squeezers’ Select[Pg 82] Boarding-Schoolfor young ladies at Backboard House, Selina Parade, Brighton. It wasthe first occasion upon which they had braved the dangers of theIron Road unprotected by a member of the sterner sex. Consequently,when, in the act of picking up and handing to my Aunt Julietta asweet green velvet reticule she had accidentally dropped upon theplatform, the black-eyed, dark-complexioned, military-looking youngforeign gentleman, in a gray traveling cloak and cap, who performedthis act of gallantry, peeped up the tunnel of her coal-scuttlebonnet, with evident appreciation of the wholesome apple-cheeked,bright-eyed English girl-face looking out from amongst the ringlets andfrills and flowers at the end, both the young ladies were extremelyfluttered. And as they passed on, Aunt Marietta whispered haughtily,“How presumptuous!” and Aunt Julietta responded: “Oh, I don’tthink he meant to be that, my dear! And how handsome anddistinguished-looking!” To which my Aunt Marietta only responded, withthe disdainful curl of the lip that went with her Roman nose: “For aforeigner, passably so!”

Later on, by one of the oddest accidents you could conceive possible,my aunts found themselves in the same first-class compartment as theforeign-looking gentleman; and as the Southampton to London Expressclanked and jolted and rattled upon its metal way (rail-carriages beingunprovided at that early date with springs, pneumatic brakes, and othermechanical inventions for the better ease of the public), the courtesyand consideration of their well-bred fellow-traveler, who spokeexcellent English—combined with his undeniable good looks—created animpression upon my Aunt Julietta, which by the time the Express hadrattled and jolted and clanked into the junction of the provincialgarrison town of Dullingstoke (near which was situated the familymansion of my grandparents), had developed into an attachment of theearly, hapless, unreciprocated order.

“If only,” thought my sentimental Aunt, “the train could go on forever!”

But the train stopped; and there was the family chariot, with thepurple-nosed coachman on the box; there was the boy who had cleanedthe knives, now promoted to page’s livery, at the noses of Chestnutand Browney, waiting to[Pg 83] convey my aunts to the shelter of thepaternal roof. They collected muffs, reticules, and parcels.... Themilitary-looking young foreign gentleman handed them out, one after theother, and bowed over their respective hands with a grace that causedAunt Marietta to exclaim, “My dear!” and Aunt Julietta to return, “Didyou ever?” as the family chariot drove away, and the Express, with muchpreliminary snorting, prepared to start again, and did in fact start;but brought up with a jerk, and clanked back to the platform to pick upa passenger of importance, who had arrived behind time.

A dazzling scarlet mail-phaeton, pulled by a pair of high-spirited,sweating, chestnut trotters, had brought him to the junction, sitting,enveloped in a huge shaggy box-coat with buttons as large as Abernethybiscuits; covered with a curly-brimmed, low-crowned shiny beaverhat that might have belonged to a Broad Church parson of sportingproclivities, by the side of the smart groom who drove.... Anothergroom in the little seat behind sheltered him from the rain with avast green silk gig-umbrella, just as though he had been any common,ordinary landholder of means and position, with a stake in the BoroughElections, a seat on the local Bench, and the right to put J.P. afterhis name; and commit local poachers caught by his own gamekeepersin his own plantations, then and there, in his own library, to theDistrict Lock Up for trial at the Weekly Sessions.

But the guard,—a functionary in the absurdest uniform, a cross betweena penny-postman’s and a military pensioner’s, knew better. So did theporters, encased in green velveteen corduroy, as worn by the portersof to-day; so did the station-master, crowned with the gilt-bandedtop-hat of a bank-messenger and sporting the crimson waistcoat of abeadle. With a Parliamentary Down-train waiting outside and shriekingto come through, while a Composite of horse-boxes and cattle-trucksand coal-trucks bumped and jolted over the Main Line metals; with theUp-Express from Southampton panting to be green-flagged and belledupon its metal road to London, he waited, his gilt-banded top-hatrespectfully in hand, to receive the distinguished passenger, whodid not hurry, possibly in virtue of his bulk, but waddled down theplatform[Pg 84] with a gait you felt to be peculiarly his own, involving ashort turn to the right as he stepped out with the right foot (encasedin the largest size of shiny patent-leather boot), and a short turnto the left as he set down the left one, as though inviting the wholeworld to take a comprehensive, satisfactory stare at a great and goodman, and be the better for it.

Impatient passengers, projecting the upper halves of their bodiesfrom the carriage-windows, saw nothing much in him. But to these,awed porters and reverent officials whispered behind their expectantpalms,—on being conjured to say what the deuce the delay wasabout?—that the gentleman who had caused it was a GovernmentContractor, tremendous influential and uncommon rich; so much so as tobe able to break the Bank of England by the simple process of drawinga whacking check upon it. When the hearer laughed heartily at this, orsnorted indignantly, the officials and porters amended that, perhaps tosay the Bank of England was a bit too strong, but that everybody knewthe gentleman was a Millionaire, and regularly rolling in his thousands.

He rolled now towards the compartment of which the foreign gentlemanwho had assisted my aunts to alight was now the only occupant; andallowed himself to be respectfully hoisted in, and tenderly placedin a corner seat, with his valise and hat-box beside him. He filledup the compartment—compartments were narrower in those days thanthey are now—as completely as a large, shaggy bear might have done,when he got upon his legs again, and stood at the window, beaming sobenevolently upon the admiring crowd assembled on the platform that thestation-master, upon whom had not fallen one drop of gold or silvermanna out of the smiler’s jingling trousers-pockets, felt impelled tosay: “Lord bless you, Mr. Thompson Jowell, sir! A safe journey up toLondon and back! Guard, be extra careful this trip!” And the guard, whohad not been tipped, touched his tall hat respectfully; and the porter,who had reaped nothing but honor from carrying Mr. Thompson Jowell’shat-box and valise; and the other porter, who had rammed scaldinghot-water tins into the carriage, that the large feet of the popularidol might be warmed thereby, threw up each his muffin-shaped cap, andcried “Hooray!” And the train[Pg 85] started,—so suddenly, in the mistakenzeal of the engine-driver, that Thompson Jowell was shot with violenceinto a distant corner of the carriage, and so violently bonneted bycollision with the rack above, that only his large, red, projectingears saved him from being completely extinguished by the low-crowned,curly-brimmed, shiny beaver hat, that might have been a sportingparson’s of the jovial Broad Church brand.

He took the hat off after that, revealing his little pear-shaped headof upright, bristly gray hair, and his forehead that slanted like thelid of a Noah’s Ark over all the jumbled beasts inside, and goggledwith his large, moist, circular brown eyes upon his fellow-travelerover the voluminous crimson silk handkerchief with which he mopped hisdamp and shining face. He unbuttoned his greatcoat and threw his longbulky body back in his corner with a “whoof!” of relief, and put uphis short, thick legs upon the seat, saying to Dunoisse, with a jerky,patronizing nod:

“Plenty of room, sir, if you’re inclined to do the same. Thesenew-fangled hot-water tins draw a man’s corns consumedly!” Adding, amoment after Dunoisse’s smiling refusal: “Please yourself, and you’llplease me. ‘Hang manners! Give me comfort!’ says Mister John Bull....You’re French yourself, I take it?”

“Sir, since you do me the honor to inquire,” returned Dunoisse dryly,for the goggle-eyes of Mr. Thompson Jowell were curiously fixed on him,“I received my education at a public school in Paris.”

“Thought as much!” said Mr. Thompson Jowell, smiling in a satisfiedway, crossing his extra-sized patent-leather-covered feet, andrevolving the thumbs of the large ringed hands that were clasped uponhis protuberant waistcoat. “I mayn’t comprenney the parly-voo, but Iknow the cut of a Frenchman’s jib when I see one. You might take inanother man, I say, but you can’t deceive me. Sharp, sir, that’s whatmy name is!”

“I am gratified,” returned Dunoisse, without enthusiasm, “to make Mr.Sharp’s acquaintance!” And pointedly unfolded and began to read TheTimes, leaving Thompson Jowell uncertain whether he had or had notbeen insulted by a person whom he designated in his own mind as an“upstart Crappaw.”

[Pg 86]

But the paper presented little of interest, and presently, from behindits shelter, Dunoisse found himself watching his companion, who haddrawn from various inner pockets of the large shaggy box-coat variouslittle bags, containing pinches of divers brands of oats, together withdivers other little parcels containing short-cut samples of straw andhay. From the inspection of these, by the nose and teeth, as well as bythe organs of vision, he appeared to derive delight and satisfaction sointense, that the upstart Crappaw in the opposite corner, who had haddealings with Contractors in his own benighted, foreign country, couldno longer be in doubt as to his calling.

Those black eyes of the ex-Adjutant of Chasseurs d’Afrique wereextraordinarily observant, and the brain housed in the smallwell-shaped head, under the crisp close waves of his black hair, hadnot been forged and tempered and ground at the Training Institute forOfficers of the Staff for nothing....

This man who had been addressed as Mr. Thompson Jowell, and who hadsaid his name was Sharp, repelled Dunoisse and interested him, as a bigand bloated spider might have disgusted and attracted an entomologist.

So, when the train, jolting and rattling and clanking in the EarlyVictorian manner, through the chilly, dripping country, at theterrific speed of twenty miles an hour, slowed up and slid groaninginto a station close to a great permanent Military Encampment in thevicinity of Bagshot Heath, where, drawn up upon a deserted siding werea long row of open trucks, loaded with trusses of hay and straw, allunprotected from the pouring rain by any kind of covering whatever; andMr. Sharp, moved to irrepressible ecstasy by this sight, was fain toget up and thrust his big hands deep in his jingling trousers-pocketsto have his laugh out more comfortably; a sudden impulse of speechswayed the hitherto silent foreigner in the opposite corner to leanforwards, and say:

“You seem elated, sir, by the spectacle of all this spoiled and soakingforage?”

The person addressed, who was bending himself in the middle in theheight of his enjoyment, straightened with a jerk. His big underjawdropped; his nose, aggressively cocked, and with a blunted end, asthough in early youth[Pg 87] it had been held against a revolving grindstone,appeared to assume a less obstinate angle; his large face lost itsruddy color. Muddily pale, with eyes that rolled quite wildly in theirlarge round orbits, he stared in the dark face of this bright-eyed,alert, military-looking, painfully-observant foreigner. For it occurredto him, with a breaking out of shiny perspiration upon the surface ofhis forehead and jowl, and a stiffening of the already bristling grayhairs upon his head, that this might be the devil.

Thompson Jowell was orthodox to the backbone, and firmly believedin the individual existence of the personage named. He glanced withnervous suspicion at the small, arched, well-booted feet of hisfellow-passenger. Had one of the dark-faced stranger’s well-shaped graytrousered legs ended in a cloven hoof, Thompson Jowell would have saidhis prayers, or pulled the communication-cord that ended in the guard’svan. He was not quite certain which. As it was, he felt sufficientlyreassured to be overbearing. He snorted, and resumed his seat with asmuch dignity as was compatible with the jolting of the Express. Hethrust his knees apart, leaned his large hands upon them, stared theinquisitive stranger hard in the face, snorted again, and said:

“Perhaps you will be good enough to explain, sir, what you meant bythat remark?”

“I shall be charmed to do so,” returned Dunoisse. “It will afford megratification. What I meant was that you laughed: and the spectacle ofwaste and destruction that presumably provoked your laughter did notappear to me, a stranger and a foreigner, provocative of merriment.”

“Now look you here, young sir!” said Thompson Jowell, getting veryred about the ears and gills, and jabbing at the speaker with a stoutand mottled forefinger. “Foreigner or no foreigner, you have an eyein your head, I take it? Very well, then, look at me! I am not thesort of person to be called to account for my laughter—if, indeed, Ilaughed at all, which I don’t admit!—by any living man—British orFrench or Cannibal Islander—unless that individual wants to be made tolaugh on the wrong side of his own mouth. Jack Blunt, my name is—andso you know! As regards those truckloads, they have been deliveredon a certain date According to Contract, they[Pg 88] have been paid for onDelivery, also According to Contract, and whether the troop-horses ofHer Majesty’s Army like the hay when they get it, or whether they wouldprefer plum-cake and macaroons, damme if I care!”

With which the speaker threw himself back in the corner and foldedhis thick, short arms upon his voluminous waistcoat, which was ofvelvet, magnificently embroidered, and into the bosom of which cascadeda superb cravat of blue satin, ornamented with three blazing rubybreast-pins. He breathed hard awhile and frowned majestically, and thenrelaxed his frown in pity for the evident confusion of the snubbedforeigner; who said, without the humility that one might have expected:

“Sir, that you and other men of your standing and influence in thiscountry do not care, is in my poor opinion a national calamity.”

The brows of Thompson Jowell relaxed at this implied concession to hisgreatness. He closed his eyes and puffed out his pendulous cheeks, andsaid, nodding his pear-shaped head, the beaver hat belonging to whichwas in the rack above it:

“Aye—aye! Well—well! Not badly put by half!”

“A national calamity,” pursued Dunoisse, “when one reflects how largea sum of the nation’s money went into the pockets of the Contractorwho delivered the consignment, and further, when it occurs to onehow impossible it will become for any expert to determine whetherstraw and hay so drenched and spoiled was not rotten and fermentingprevious to delivery, and the exposure that must inevitably set upboth conditions. And further still, when it is extremely possiblethat the neglect to cover the trucks was of design; and that theperson—Quartermaster-Sergeant or Railway Official—whose duty it wasto take this precaution, had been—for all men are not as scrupulous,sir, as yourself, and some are capable of such roguery—bribed by theContractor or his confidential agent, to omit it!”

This being an exact summary of what had taken place, the abovesentences, coined in Dunoisse’s somewhat precise and formal English,and uttered with the short, clipped inflection that characterized it,came pelting about the large and tingling ears of Thompson Jowell likestinging flakes of ice. He gasped and rolled his eyes at them[Pg 89] inapoplectic fashion, and wagged his head and shook it from side to side,until the speaker stopped.

“No, no, young sir!” said Thompson Jowell at that juncture. “Don’ttell me! I won’t listen to you; it’s past crediting; it couldn’t be!Frenchmen might be guilty of such doings, I can credit it; Italiansvery likely, Germans uncommonly-probably, Roosians without doubt! Butwhen you go to tell a true-blue Briton such as I am, that Englishmenwith British blood running in their veins and British hearts a-beatingin their bosoms could be capable of such doings, I tell you by Gosh thething’s impossible! I won’t listen to you! Don’t talk to me!”

He fell back gasping at the end of this splendid tribute to the virtuesof his countrymen. And, of such queerly conflicting elements are evenliars and knaves composed, they were real tears that he whisked awaywith his big, flaming silk handkerchief, and the trembling of the handthat held it was due as much to appreciation of his own eloquence, asto alarm at the uncanny sharpness with which this disturbing youngforeigner, with the cold black eyes and the admirable command ofEnglish, had put his finger on the ugly truth.

Dunoisse, far from suspecting that he had at his mercy the identicalContractor whose methods he had sketched with such brilliant fidelityto nature, pursued:

“Rogues are everywhere, sir. We have plenty of them in France, and,unhappily for other countries, we do not enjoy the monopoly. And—theperson I reverence and honor, with one exception, above all livingwomen, is an English lady. Respect for her great nation—and yours!—isnot lacking in me, the adopted son of another nation, no less great;with whom England has striven in honorable war, with whom she is nowmost happily at peace. Yet though I admire I may criticise; and plainlysay that the lamentable spectacle that has furnished our discussion,plainly points, if not to willful neglect, to lack of forethoughtand foresight upon the part of certain officials who should,—in theinterests of the British Army,—have been trained to think and to see.”

“I don’t agree with you, young sir,” said Mr. Thompson Jowell, hookinghis large splay thumbs into the armholes of his superb velvet waistcoatin a bullying manner, and folding his pendulous chin into fresh creaseson his[Pg 90] cravat after a fashion he employed in the browbeating ofclerks and agents. “I disagree with you flatly, and—my name being TomPlain—I’ll tell you for why. You called that spoiled hay and straw—myname being John Candid, I’ll admit it is spoiled!—‘a lamentablespectacle.’ To me it is not a lamentable spectacle. Far from it! I callit a beautiful illustration, sir!—a standing example of the greatnessof England, and the Immensity of the resources that she has at command.”

“Name of Heaven, why?” cried Dunoisse, confounded and surprised out ofhis usual self-possession by this extraordinary statement.

“Aha! Now you’re getting warm, young sir,” said Thompson Jowell,triumphantly. “Keep your temper and leave Heaven out of the question,that’s my advice to you. And let me tell you that Great Britain is notso poor that she can’t afford to be at the expense of a little lossand damage, and that the high-bred, wealthy, fashionable gentlemen whohold commissions in her Army have other fish to fry and other things toattend to than keeping an eye on Quartermaster-Sergeants, Forage andSupply Agent’s clerks and Railway Officials. And that the coronetednoblemen who sit at the head of Departments in her War Office are toogreat, and grand, and lofty to dirty their hands with common affairsand vulgar details—and it does ’em honor! Honor, by George!” saidThompson Jowell, and smote his podgy hand upon his gross and bulkythigh, clad in a pantaloon of shepherd’s plaid of the largest patternprocurable. “My name’s John Downright—and what I say is—it does ’emhonor!”

“I have to learn, sir,” said Dunoisse, with recovered and smilingurbanity, “that the criterion of a gentleman lies in his incapacity fordischarging the duties of his profession, any more than in his capacityfor being gulled by knavish subordinates and cheated by thievishtradesmen.”

“Now take care where you’re treading, my young sir!” said ThompsonJowell, frowning and swelling portentously. “For you’re on thin ice,that’s what you’re on. My name’s Jack Blunt, and I tell you so plumply.For I am a Contractor of Supplies and an Auxiliary-Transport Agent tothe British Army, and I glory in my trade, that’s what I do! And goto the Horse Guards in Whitehall,[Pg 91] London—and ask my Lords of theArmy Council, and His Honor the Adjutant-General, and His Excellencythe Quartermaster-General whether the character of Thompson Jowell isrespected? Maybe you’ll get an answer—maybe you won’t! And call at theAdmiralty—perhaps they don’t know him at the Victualing Office!—andthe Director of Transport never heard of him! They might tell you atthe Treasury that the Commissary-General bows to him! I’m not going toboast!—it ain’t my way. But if you don’t hear in every one of the highplaces I’ve mentioned, that the individual inside this waistcoat”—hesmote it as he spoke—“is an honor to Old England and such a sturdystem of seasoned British oak as may be relied on to uphold the Crownand Constitution in the hour of need with the last penny in his purse,and the best blood of his bosom, call me a damned liar!”

“I shall not fail in the event you mention to avail myself of thepermission accorded me,” returned Dunoisse politely, “in the spirit inwhich it is given.”

“Ha, ha! You’re a joker, I see!” said Mr. Thompson Jowell. “Excuseme, young sir,” he added, “but if you have quite finished with thatnewspaper, it will save me buying one if you’ll kindly pass it over!”

With which the great man deftly whipped the unperused Timesfrom the seat where it had been laid aside by its owner, and ignoringthe political articles and Foreign Intelligence (under which heading abrief paragraph announcing the decease of the aged paralytic HereditaryPrince of Widinitz, might, had the glance of his fellow-traveler fallenupon it, have seemed to him of more than passing interest), dived intothose thrilling columns that deal with the rise and fall in valueof wheat and oats, hay and straw, beans and chaff, and other staplecommodities of the Forage Trade, and record the fluctuations of theStock Exchange; became in virtue of such elevations and depressions,immersed in perusal; and spoke no more either on the greatness of GreatBritain, the greatness of Thompson Jowell or any other kindred subject.And the Waterloo Road Terminus being reached, a luxuriously-appointedbrougham, drawn by a handsome horse, and ornamented, as to thedoor-panels and harness, with repetitions, illuminated or engraved, ofa large and showy coat-of-arms recently purchased at Heralds’ College,received the glorious[Pg 92] being, and whirled him away through murky milesof foggy streets to his shabby little office in The Poultry.

Here, in a shady alley of low-browed houses near the Banking House ofLubbock, amidst dirt and dust and cobwebs and incrustations of Citymud, upon the floors that were never washed, upon the windows that werenever cleaned, upon the souls of those who spent their lives there, thevast business of Thompson Jowell, Flour, Forage, and Straw Contractor,Freightage- and Auxiliary-Transport Agent to Her Majesty’s Army, hadgrown from a very little cuttle-fish into a giant octopus, all hugestomach and greedy parrot-beak; owning a hundred scaly tentacles,each panoplied with suckers for draining the golden life-blood of theBritish ratepayer from the coffers of the British Government; andfurnished, moreover, with sufficient of that thick and oily medium,known as Humbug, in its ink-bag, to blind, not only the eyes of thepeople and their rulers and representatives to its huge, wholesaleswindlings; but in some degree to becloud and veil its own vision,so that foul seemed fair, and petty greed and low cunning took on apleasing aspect of great-minded and unselfish patriotism.

Cowell, the Beef-Contractor, and Sowell, who undertook to supply suchgarments as the Government generously provided to its soldiers freeof cost; scamping materials in fashioning the one sparrow-tailedfull-dress coatee and pair of trousers,—so that stalwart infantrymenfound it incompatible with strict propriety to stoop; and legs andarms of robust troopers were so tightly squeezed into cases of coarsered or coarse blue cloth as to resemble nothing so much as giantsausages,—were persons of influence and standing. Towell, who turnedout shirts, of regulation material something coarser than bed-ticking,paying wan workwomen fourpence per dozen—the worker finding buttons,needles and thread—and receiving for each garment two shillings andsevenpence, filched from the soldier’s pay; Rowell, who found theCavalry and Artillery in saddlery of inferior leather and spurs ofdubious metal; Powell, who roofed the British forces as to the head,with helmets, busbies, shakos, and fatigue-caps; Bowell, who stockedits surgeons’ medicine-chests with adulterated tincture of opium,Epsom-salts that never hailed from Epsom; decoction of jalap, madepotent with croton oil; inferior[Pg 93] squills and suspicious senna; andShoell, who shod the rank-and-file with one annual pair of boots (madeprincipally of brown paper), were, taken together, a gang of—let uswrite a community of upright and worthy individuals; but, viewed incomparison with Dunoisse’s acquaintance of the railway, they paled likefarthing rushlights beside a transparency illuminated by gas.

A day was coming, when Britannia, leaning, in her hour of need,upon that sturdy stem of seasoned British oak, was to find it buta worm-eaten sham; a hollow shell of dust and rottenness, housingloathsome, slimy things, crawling and writhing amidst the green andfleshless bones that once wore Victoria’s uniform; housing and breedingin the empty skulls of brave and hardy men. Dead in their thousands,not of the shot and shell, the fire and steel and pestilence that arethe grim concomitants of War: but dead of Privation and Want, Coldand Starvation—through the rapacity and greed, the mercenary cunningand base treachery of those staunch and loyal pillars of the BritishCrown and Constitution: Cowell, Sowell, Towell, Rowell, Powell, Bowell,Shoell, and, last but not least among those worthies, Thompson Jowell.


Arrived at his dingy little office in The Poultry, halfway up thenarrow, shady alley of low-browed, drab-faced houses near the BankingHouse of Lubbock, you saw Thompson Jowell, recruited by a solidluncheon, bending severe brows upon a pale-faced, weak-eyed clerk, whohad grievously offended, and was up for judgment.

“What’s this? Now, what’s this, Standish?” the great man blustered.“You have been doing overtime and ask to be paid for it? Lawful claimsare met with prompt settlement in this office, as you have good causeto know. But, lookee here!” The speaker puffed out his pendulous cheeksin his characteristic way, and held up a stout, menacing finger beforethe wincing eyes of the unfortunate Standish. “Don’t you, or any otherman in my employment get trying to make money out of ME!Because you won’t, you know!” said Mr. Thompson Jowell. “D’ye[Pg 94] see?”and jabbed at the thorax of the unfortunate Standish with the finger,and then rubbed his own nose smartly with it, and thrust it, with itsfellows, into his large, deep trousers-pocket as the livid victimfaltered:

“You were good enough, previously to the Christmas holidays, sir, tosend for me, and say that if I cared to——”

Thompson Jowell solemnly shook his little pear-shaped head, and goggledwith his large, round brown eyes upon the scared victim, saying:

“Not ‘cared to,’ Standish. Be accurate, my good fellow, in word as indeed!”

“You hinted to me, sir——” stammered the unfortunate.

Thompson Jowell swelled to such portentous size at this that the clerkvisibly shrank and dwindled before the awful presence.

“I am not accustomed to hint, Standish!”

“You intimated, sir, that if I was willing”—gulped the pallidStandish—“to devote my evenings to making up the New Year’saccounts and checking the files of duplicate invoices against theoffice-ledgers, you—you would undertake—or so you were good enough togive me to understand—that I should be the better for it!”

“But if I mentioned overtime,” returned his employer, thrusting hisshort fat hands under his wide coat-tails, and rocking backwards andforwards on the office hearthrug, a cheap and shabby article to whichthe great man was accustomed to point with pride as illustrative ofthe robust humility of his own nature, “I’ll eat my hat!” He glancedat the low-crowned, shiny beaver hanging on a wooden peg beside hisprivate safe, in company with the shaggy box-coat and a fur-lined,velvet-collared cloak of sumptuous appearance, adding, “and that’s ameal would cost me thirty shillings. For there’s no such a thing asovertime. It don’t exist! And if you proved to me it did I wouldn’tbelieve you!” said Thompson Jowell, thrusting his thick right handdeep into the bosom of the gorgeous waistcoat, and puffing himself outstill more. “For your time, young man! in return for a liberal salaryof Twenty Shillings per week, belongs to Me—to Me, Standish, wheneverI choose to employ it! As for being the better for having done thework you say you have,[Pg 95] you are the better morally, in havingdischarged your duty to a generous employer; and if you choose toinjure your constitution by stopping here o’ nights until eleven’s no affair of mine. John Downright my name is!—besides the onethat’s on the brass doorplate of these offices, and what I say is—it’sno affair of mine! Though, mind you! in burning gas upon these premisesup to I don’t know what hour of the night, you’ve materially increasedthe Company’s quarterly bill, and in common justice ought to defraytheir charges. I’ll let you off that!—so think yourself lucky! anddon’t come asking me to remunerate you for overtime again. Now, get outwith you!”

Unlucky Standish, yellow and green with disappointed hopes and secretfury, and yet admiring, in spite of himself, the clever way in whichhe had been defrauded, backed towards the narrow door, and in the actcollided with a visitor, who, entering, straightway impregnated andenlivened the dead and musty atmosphere with a heterogeneous mixture ofchoice perfumes, in which super-fine Macassar and bear’s grease, thefashionable Frangipani and Jockey Club; Russia-leather, a suspicionof stables, and more than a hint of malt liquor, combined with thefragrance of the choice Havana cheroot which the newcomer removed fromhis mouth as he entered, to make way for the filial salutation:

“Halloa, Governor! All serene?”

You then saw young Mortimer Jowell, only surviving sapling of thesturdy stem of tough old British oak ticketed Thompson Jowell, receivedin that fond father’s arms, who warmly hugged him to his bosom, crying:

“Morty! My own boy!”

“How goes it, Governor?” responded Morty, winking tremendously, andpatting his parent on his stout back with a large-sized hand, glovedwith the most expensive lemon kid. “Hold on, you!” he hailed, as theghastly Standish, seeing Distress for Rent written large across thepage of the near future, was creeping out. “Come back and help usout of this watchbox, will yer?” Adding, as the clerk assisted himout of a capacious driving-coat of yellow cloth, with biscuit-sizedmother-o’-pearl buttons:

“You look uncommon green, Standish, my boy—Standish’s your name, ain’tit?”

[Pg 96]

“Yes, Mr. Mortimer, sir. And—I am quite well, sir, thank you, sir.There’s nothing the matter with me beyond ordinary.”

He hung up the son’s coat on the peg beneath the low-crowned,curly-brimmed beaver of the parent, and went out. Morty, retaining hisown fashionable, shaggy headgear upon a skull of the bullet rather thanthe pear-shaped order, had forgotten the clerk and his sick face beforethe door closed behind him.

“Don’t you worry about Standish and his looks, my boy!” said ThompsonJowell. “That’s the way to spoil a good clerk, that is. Cock ’em upwith an idea that they’re overworked, next thing is they’re in bed, andtheir wives—and why the devil they should have wives, when at thatfellow’s age I couldn’t afford the luxury, beats me!—their wives arewriting letters begging me not to stop the substitute’s pay out of thehusband’s salary, because he, and she, and the children—and it’s liketheir extravagance and presumption to have children when they can’tafford to keep ’em!—will have to go to the Workhouse if you do. Andwhy shouldn’t they go to the Workhouse? What do we ratepayers keep itup for, if it ain’t good enough for you, ma’am, and the likes of youand yours? My name being Tom Candid—that’s what I say to her.”

He had, in fact, said it to a suppliant of the proud, presumptuousclass he complained of, only that morning. And now, as he blew outhis big, pendulous cheeks and triple chin above their stiff circularfrill of iron-gray whisker, his tall son took him by the shoulders andshook him playfully backwards and forwards in the grip of the greathands that were clothed with the extra-sized lemon kids, saying, as heregarded his affectionate parent with a pair of brown round eyes, that,with the narrow brain behind them, were a trifle bemused with liquoreven at this early hour, yet wonderfully frank and honest for a son ofThompson Jowell’s:

“You knowin’ old File! You first-class, extra-ground, double-edgedShylock, you! You jolly old Fee-Faw-Fum, smellin’ the blood ofEnglishmen, and grindin’ their bones to make your bread—or the flouryou sell to the British Government, and take precious jolly good careto sell dear!—you’re lookin’ in the prime of health and the pink ofcondition, and that’s what I like to see!”

[Pg 97]

“Really, Morty! Truly, now, my dear boy?”

Morty nodded, with a cheerful grin, and Thompson Jowell’s heartglowed with fatherly pride in this big young man with the foolish,good-natured face and the round, somewhat owlish eyes, that resembledhis own, though not in their simplicity. But Morty’s invariableand characteristic method of expressing frank admiration of thoseinvaluable business qualities of unscrupulousness, greed, and cunning,which the author of his being, while fattening upon them, preferredto disown—was a venomed dart rankling in the fleshy ribs that wereclothed by the gorgeous waistcoat. His narrow slanting forehead, thatwas like the lid of a Noah’s Ark—furrowed as he heard. He said, withhurry and effort:

“Yes—yes! Well—well! And how did you come, dear boy?”

“Tooled the Tilbury with the tandem over from Norwood,” Mortyresponded, “on purpose to have a good look at you. Lord AdolphusNoddlewood, my friend and chum at the Reverend’s, came along too. Lotsof fun on the way! Tre-menjous row with tollgate-keeper’s wife atCamberwell Gate—Tollman, gone to bed, after bein’ up all night, stuckhis head out of upper-window in a red nightcap to tell us, if we ain’ttoo drunk to remember it!—we’re talkin’, for once in our lives, to adecent woman.... (And you ought to ha’ heard the names she’d calledus!) ... ‘Dolph, my boy,’ says I to Lord Adolphus when we got into theBorough Road—and plenty of excitement there, with a leader that kep’tryin’ to get into the omnibuses after the old ladies!... ‘Dolph, mybuck,’ says I, ‘I’m goin’ to show you where the Guinea Tree grows.’‘Ha, ha, ha! That means,’ says he to me, ‘you’re goin’ to fly a kiteamong the Jews.’ ‘You’re dead out there, Dolph!’ says I. ‘For onething, the Gov’ bleeds free. A touch of the lancet, and he brims thebasin. For another—there isn’t a Hebrew among the Ten Tribes, from Danto Beersheba, ’ud dare to lend me a penny-piece on my tidiest signaturefor fear of what my father’d do when he found out they’d been gettin’hold of his precious boy! For, deep as they are, my father’s deeper,’says I, ‘and artful as they are, he’s more artful still; and grindingand grasping extortioners as it’s their nature to be, there’s not aJew among ’em that the Governor wouldn’t give ninety[Pg 98] points out of ahundred to, and beat at Black Pool—with the nigger in the pocket and ageneral shell-out all round! Ha, ha, haw! Whew!...” Morty whipped outa handkerchief of brilliant hue, diffusing odors of Araby, and appliedit to his nose: “Piff! this here jolly old rat-hole of yours stinksover and above a bit. Why don’t you burn it down?—you’re inspired tothe hilt, or I don’t know you, dad! And take a smart, snug, comfortableoffice in Cheapside or Cornhill?”

“It wouldn’t do! I began in this place, and have grown up here, asone might say, and have got too used to it to fancy another. And—bea little careful, Morty, my boy!” urged the father of this shiningspecimen, admiring the son’s high spirit and volubility, yet sufferingat his well-earned praise. He felt so keen a pride in this tall,bullet-headed, broad-shouldered, loosely-jointed son, that the tearsstood in his round eyes as they goggled at him; and the upright grayhair upon his pear-shaped head bristled more stiffly. “Somebody outsidethere might be listening,” he pleaded, “and that kind of joke’sdangerous if repeated. Be careful, my dear boy!”

“If you mean careful of those tallow-faced, inky, chilblain-fingeredchaps in the office outside this, and the room on the other side ofthe passage,” said Morty, jerking up his coat-tails, and seatinghimself upon the large, important blotting-pad that lay upon thestained leather of the kneehole writing-table, that, with the ironsafe previously mentioned; an armchair with loops of horsehairstuffing coming through the torn leather covering of its arms, andbulging through the torn leather covering of its back; a woodenstool adorned with a fantastic pattern of perforations; a dusty setof wooden pigeon-holes stuffed with dustier papers, and a bookcasecontaining Shipping-Lists, References, Handy Volumes, Compendiums,Ready Reckoners, and Guides, such as are commonly used by businessmen who chase the goose that lays the golden egg of Profit throughthe tortuous ways of Finance;—with a few more, likely to be of useto an Auxiliary-Transport Agent and Forage Contractor—comprised,with a blistered little yellow iron washstand, furtively lurking in ashady corner, the furniture of the office,—“if you mean those clerksof yours, you’re joking when you talk of them repeating anythingthey hear. They know you too well, Gov! They’ve[Pg 99] sold themselvesto you, body and soul. For you’re the Devil, Governor—the very Devil!Ain’t you? Gaw! Don’t tell me you ain’t! I don’t believe you!” saidMorty, with a tinge of the paternal manner. “I won’t believe you! Iwouldn’t believe you if you took a pair of wings (detachable patent),like what the Pasbas—there’s a stunnin’ creature!—sports in thenew Opera Bally as the ‘Sylph of the Silver Sham’—no, dammy!—thatain’t it! ‘Sylph of the Silver Strand’—out of your safe, and a harpand a crown out of the corner-cupboard by the fireplace”—a rusty,narrow fireplace, with a bent poker thrust in between the bars of theniggardly grate that had a smoking lump of coal in it—“and showed me,”said Morty, with a gleam of imagination, “your first-class diploma as aqualified practicing Angel! And so you know!”

He poked Thompson Jowell in the meaty ribs that were covered by hisgorgeous waistcoat, and though the hidden thorn rankled more andmore, and though allusions to the personage mentioned seemed to savorof irreligion, the great man’s brow relaxed, and he chuckled, as herattled the money in the tills of his big trouser-pockets.

“And how goes the learning, Morty, with the reverend gentleman atNorwood? Does he seem to have his trade as Tutor at his fingers’ends? Does he push you on and prepare you? coach you and generallycram you with the things you ought to be master of? As a young fellowof means and expectations—who will shortly (or great people breakpromises!)—hold a Commission in Her Majesty’s Foot Guards?”

“Oh, Lord!” groaned Morty. “Don’t he, though?”

“This friend of yours you’ve brought with you is a swell, it seems?”resumed his father.

“Lord Adolphus Noddlewood ... I believe you, Gov!” returned the son,screwing up his round, young, foolish face into an expression ofportentous knowingness. “Eldest son of the Marquess of Crumphorn—ain’tthat the tip-top thing?”

“Eldest son of the Marquess of Crumphorn! We’ll look him up in thePeerage presently, or your mother shall—that’s the sort of thing awoman enjoys doing,” said Thompson Jowell, rather viciously, “andthat keeps her from grizzling and groaning, and thinking herself aninvalid.”

[Pg 100]

“How is my mother, sir?” asked the son, with a shade of resentment atthe other’s slighting tone.

“She’s pretty much the same as usual,” said Thompson Jowell sourly,and ceased to puff himself out to double his natural size, and leftoff rattling the tills in his trousers, “or she was when I left herearly this morning. A decent, worthy sort of woman, your mother,” headded, snorting, “without any spirit or go in her. And as for settingoff fine clothes and jewels, as the wife of a man in My position oughtto—you might as well hang ’em on a pump. Indeed, you’d show ’em off tomore advantage, because a pump can’t retire into the background with aDorcas work-basket and a Prayer-Book, and generally efface itself. Itstops where it is,—and if it ain’t a rattler as regards conversation,people do get some kind of response from it, if they’re at the troubleof working the handle. Now, your mother——”

“My mother, sir, is as good company and as well worth looking at—infine clothes or shabby ones—as any lady in the land!” said Morty.“I’m dam’ if she ain’t!” And so red and angry a light shone in theround brown eyes that were generally dull and lusterless, and sowell-developed a scowl sat on the rather pimply forehead, from whichthe tall shaggy white beaver stove-pipe of the latest fashion wasjovially tilted back, that Thompson Jowell changed the conversationrather hurriedly.

“Well, well! perhaps she is!” he agreed, in rather a flounderingmanner. “And if her own son didn’t think so, who should? Run down toMarket Drowsing and see her as soon as you’re able. She won’t come upto Hanover Square before the beginning of May. Give her compliments,along with mine, to the Honorable and Reverend Alfred de Gassey andLady Alicia Brokingbole. There’s a thorough-paced nob for you, theHonorable and Reverend! And his wife! The genuine hallmarked Thing,registered and stamped—that’s what she is!”

He referred in these terms of unqualified admiration to a needy sprigof nobility who had held a commission in a Cavalry regiment; and,having with highly commendable rapidity run through a considerablefortune, had exchanged, some years previously, at the pressing instanceof his creditors, the Army for the Church, and a family living[Pg 101] whichfell vacant at a particularly appropriate moment. And, having marriedanother slip of the aristocracy as impecunious as himself, the ReverendAlfred had hit upon the philanthropic idea of enlarging his clericalstipend and benefiting Humanity at large, by receiving under his rooftwo or three young gentlemen of backward education and large fortune,who should require to be prepared for the brilliant discharge of theirduty to their Sovereign and their country, as subaltern officers ofcrack regimental corps.

Not that preparation was essential in those days, when Army Coacheswere vehicles as rare as swan-drawn water-chariots; and thecramming-establishments that were some years later to spring up likemushrooms on Shooter’s Hill or Primrose Hill, or in the purlieus ofHammersmith or Peckham, were unknown. Ensigns of Infantry, or cornetsof Cavalry Regiments, joined their respective corps without havingreceived the ghost of a technical military education; often withoutpossessing any knowledge whatever beyond a nodding acquaintance withtwo out of the three R’s.... Mathematics, Fortification, French andGerman, were not imparted by the Honorable and Reverend Alfred to hiswealthy pupils, for the simple reason that he, the instructor, was notacquainted with these. But in Boxing, Fencing, Riding, the clauses ofthe Code of Honor regulating the Prize Ring and the dueling-ground,not to mention the rules governing the game of Whist, at which theReverend Alfred always won; he was a very fully-qualified tutor. Andhis wife, the Lady Alicia Brokingbole, youngest daughter of the Earl ofGallopaway, initiated the more personable of the young gentlemen intothe indispensable art of handing chairs, winding Berlin wools, givingan arm to a lady, copying sweet poems from the Forget-Me-Not orThe Keepsake into her album, and generally making themselvesuseful and agreeable. Nor was the Lady Alicia averse to a littlediscreet flirtation, or a little game of piquet, or a little rubber ofwhist, at which, like the Reverend Alfred, she invariably won. It willbe comprehended that, provided the bear-cub who came to Norwood to belicked into shape were rich, the said cub might spend a fairly pleasanttime; and be regaled with a good deal of flattery and adulation, mixedwith chit-chat,[Pg 102] gossip, and scandal, of the most aristocratic andexclusive kind.

“She’s a spankin’ fine woman, is Lady Alicia,” agreed Morty, with theair of a connoisseur, “though a dam’ sight too fond of revokin’ atwhist with pound points to suit my book!” he added, with a cloud uponthe brow that might have been more intellectual.

“But she’s an Earl’s daughter!—an Earl’s daughter, Morty, my boy!”urged Thompson Jowell; “and moves in high Society, the very highest—orso I have been given to understand.”

“Correct, too. Knows everybody worth knowin’—got the entire Peerageand Court Circular at her finger-ends,” declared simple Morty.“I drove her four-in-hand from Norwood to the Row only yesterday.Gaw! You should have seen us! Bowin’ right and left like ChinaManda—what-do-you-call-’ems?—to the most tre-menjous nobs (incoroneted carriages, with flunkeys in powder and gold lace) you everclapped your eyes on! And you ought to hear her tell of the huntin’supper she sat down to at her cousin’s castle in Bohemia—the chap’san Austrian Prince with a name like a horse’s cough. Four-and-fortycovers, two Crowned Heads, five Hereditary Grand-Dukes with theirDuchesses, a baker’s dozen of Princes, and for the rest, nothin’ undera Count or Countess, ‘until, Mr. Jowell,’ she says, ‘you arrived atAlfred, who would grace any social circle, however lofty, and poorlittle humble Me!’ And they played a Charade afterwards, and LadyAlicia had no jewels to wear in the part of Cleopatra, ‘having chosen,’she says, ‘to wed for Love rather than Ambition.’ And the Prince had aniron coffin brought in—or was it a copper?—cram-jam-full of diamondsand rubies as big as pigeons’ eggs, and told her ladyship to take whatshe chose. ‘Gaw! those sort of relatives are worth havin’! Shouldn’tmind a few of ’em myself!’ says I to Lady A.”

“That’s the sort of woman to cultivate, Morty, my boy!” advisedThompson Jowell, smiling and rubbing his hands. “With a little managingand cleverness, she ought to get you into the swim. The Goldfish Tank,I mean, where the titled heiresses are. You represent Money, solidMoney!—but what we want—to set our Money off, is Rank! And[Pg 103] the menof the British Aristocracy are easy enough to get at, and easy enoughto get on with, provided you don’t happen to tread on their damnedexclusive corns. But their women, confound ’em!—their high-nosed,long-necked women—they’re as hard to get on a level of chatty equalitywith as Peter Wilkins’ flying females were; and the mischief of itis, my boy, you can’t do without their good word. So cultivate LadyA! Wink at her cheating at cards—it’s in the blood of all thesetip-top swells—and get her to take you about with her. And one ofthese days we may be hearing how Lady Rosaline Jowell, second daughterof the Earl, or the Marquess, or the Duke of Something-or-other, wasPresented, on her marriage with Mr. Mortimer Jowell, of the FootGuards; and what sort of figure her husband cut at the Prince’s Levée.And, by Gosh! though I don’t keep a coffer full of diamonds as big aspigeons’ eggs in my safe, we’ll see what Bond Street can do in the wayof a Tiara for the head, and a Zone for the waist, and a necklace andbracelets of the biggest shiners that can be got, for her Ladyship,Thompson Jowell’s daughter-in-law! And what I say I’ll do, I do! Myname’s Old Trusty, ain’t it, Morty boy?”

His round eyes goggled almost appealingly at his son.

“And if I’m—what you say—a bit of a Squeezer as regards making peoplepay; and a bit of a Grinder—though that I don’t admit—at driving hardbargains; and Mister Sharp of Cutters’ Lane when it comes to gettingthe best of So-and-So, and Such-and-Such—who’d cheerfully skin mealive, only give ’em the chance of it—you’re the last person in theworld, Morty, who ought to throw it in my face.”

He spoke with almost weeping earnestness; there were blobs of moisturein the corners of his eyes; his blustering Boreas-voice was almost softand pleading as Thompson Jowell bid for the good opinion of his son.“Not that I reproach you,” was the refrain of his song, “but you oughtto be the last!”

“Old Gov!” The large young man repeated his previous action of takingThompson Jowell by his fleshy shoulders with the extra-sized hands,encased in the lemon kid gloves, and pleasantly shaking him backwardsand forwards, as though he had been a large, plain, whiskered doll.

[Pg 104]

“There’s the Commission in the Guards, Morty. You wouldn’tbelieve—having set my heart on making a first-class gentleman of myboy—what an uncommon sight of trouble I’ve taken to bring that sealedpaper with Her Majesty’s signature on it, down from the sky-highbranch it hangs on! His Honor the Commissary-General kept his word inpresenting me to my Lord Dalgan, His Grace the Commander-in-Chief’sconfidential Secretary, yesterday, and after a little generalchit-chat, I felt my way to a hint, for we must be very humble withsuch great folks,” said Thompson Jowell, rattling the tills, “and watchfor times and opportunities. My Lord was very high and lofty with me,as you may suppose.... ‘So you have a son, Mr. Thompson Jowell,’ sayshe. ‘I congratulate you, my dear sir, on having done your duty toPosterity. And it is your ambition that this young man should enjoy theprivilege of wearing Her Majesty’s uniform? Well, well! We will seewhat we can do with His Grace, Mr. Thompson Jowell, towards procuringthe young gentleman an ensigncy in some regiment of infantry.’ ‘Humblythanking you, my Lord,’ says I, ‘for the gracious encouragementyou have given to a man who might be called by persons less grand,and noble, and generous-minded than your Lordship, an ambitioustradesman;—since you permit me to speak my mind’—and he bows over hisstock in his stiff-necked, gracious way—‘I dare to say I fly higherfor my boy,’ says I, ‘than a mere marching regiment. And what I haveset my heart upon, and likewise my son his, is, plainly speaking, aCommission in the Foot Guards, White Tufts or Cut Red Feathers.’ Up gohis eyebrows at that, Morty, and he taps with his shiny nails—a realnobleman’s nails—on the carved arm of his chair, smiling. ‘Really,Mr. Thompson Jowell’—and he leans back and throws his foot over hisknee, showing the Wellington boot with gold spurs and the white strapof the pearl-gray trouser—‘ambition is, to a certain extent, laudableand to be encouraged. But at the same time, permit me to say that youdo fly high!’ ‘Begging your Lordship’s leave once more,’ saysI, ‘to speak out—and Plain’s my name and nature!—I have come to begthe greatest nobleman in the land to make a hay-and-straw-and-flourmerchant’s son a gentleman. A word in the ear of His Grace, the Duke,and a stroke of your pen will do it, my Lord,’ I says; ‘and[Pg 105] when Ifind myself in the presence of a power as lofty and as wide as yours,and am graciously encouraged to ask a favor, I don’t ask a little onethat a lesser influence could grant. I plump for the Guards, and yourLordship can but refuse me!’”

“You clever old Codger! Rubbin’ him down with a wisp of straw, andticklin’ him in all the right places.... But look here, you know!”objected Morty, with a darkening brow, “I don’t half cotton to all thatpatter about making a gentleman of a merchant’s son. Egad, sir, I’mdam’ if I do like it!”

He sat upon the knee-hole table and folded his arms upon his waistcoat,a garment of brown velvet embroidered with golden sprigs, worn inconjunction with a satin cravat of dazzling green, peppered withscarlet horseshoes and adorned with pins of Oriental pearl; and blewout his round cheeks quite in the paternal manner as he shook hisbullet head.

“You mustn’t mind a bit of humble-pie, my boy!” pleaded ThompsonJowell, “seeing what a great thing is to be got by eating it, andlooking as if you liked it. You don’t suppose I’m any fonder of thedish than you are—but it’s for my son’s sake; and so, down it goes!These stately swells will have you flatter ’em, stiff-necked, and fawnupon ’em, and lick their boots for ’em. They were born to have mencringe to ’em, and by Gosh, sir! can you stand upright and milk a cowat the same time? You can’t, and you know it!—so you squat and whistleto her, and down comes the milk between your fingers, squish!”

“I ain’t a dairymaid,” asserted Morty sulkily.

“Not you!” said Thompson Jowell, beaming on him fondly. “And when yourold Governor’s willing to do the dirty work, why should you soil yourhands?” His thick voice shook, and the tears stood in his goggle-eyes.“I’d lie down in the gutter so that those polished Wellingtons I spokeof just now should walk upon me dryshod—by Gosh, I would!” saidThompson Jowell—“if only I might get up again with golden mud upon me,to be scraped off and put away for you! Look here! You told your swellfriend, Lord ’Dolph, your Governor was a generous bleeder. Well, so Iam! I’ll fill your pail to-day.”

He whipped out his check-book, large and bulky like himself, and—Mortyhaving condescendingly removed himself[Pg 106] from the blotter—drew whatthat scion of his race was moved to term “a whacker” of a check. Andsent him away gorged with that golden mud to which he had referred,and correspondingly happy; so that he passed through the larger, outeroffice, where seven pallid clerks were hard at work under the directionof a gray-faced elderly man who inhabited a little ground-glass-paneledsentry-box opening out of their place of bondage, with “Manager” inblistered letters of black paint upon the door,—like a boisterous windtinged with stables, cigars, and mixed perfumery, and shed some dropsof his shining store on them in passing.

“Look here, you chaps! See what the Old Man’s stood me!” Mortyflourished the pink oblong, bearing the magic name of Coutts’. Sixof the seven pairs of eyes ravished from ledgers and correspondence,flared with desperate longing and sickened with impotent desire.Standish still kept his sea-green face downbent. And the gray Manager,peeping out of his glass case, congratulated as in duty bound.

“You’re in luck again, Mr. Mortimer!... May I hope we see you well,sir?”

“First rate, Chobley! Topping condition!” Morty stuffed the check withlordly carelessness into a pocket in the gold-sprigged velvet vest,withdrawing a little ball of crackly white paper, which he joviallydisplayed between a finger and thumb attired in lemon kid.

“Twig this, hey? Well, it shall mean a dinner at the Albion in DruryLane for the lot of you ... and an evenin’ at the Play—if you ain’ttoo proud for the Pit? Leave your wives at home!” the young reprobateadvised, with a wink; “you’re all too much married by a lot, hey,Chobley? And half-a-bottle of fizz apiece it ought to stand you in....And see that beggar Standish drinks his share!... Catch!... Gaw!—whata butter-fingered beggar you are, Standish!”.... The paper insult,flipped at ghastly Standish’s lowered nose, smartly hit that feature,and rebounded into a letter-basket as Morty blustered out. The clerkslooked at each other as the swing-doors banged and gibbered behind theyoung autocrat. They heard him hail Lord ’Dolph, heard the tramplingand slipping of the tandem-horses’ hoofs upon the uneven pavement;heard Morty cheerfully curse the groom,—heard, too, the final[Pg 107] “Gaw!”with which the heir of the house of Jowell clinched the news of hisgood luck with his Governor; the hiss and smack of the tandem-whip,and the departing clatter of the tilbury westwards, to those regionswhere golden-haired sirens smile upon young men with monkeys in theirpockets; and white-bosomed waiters dance attendance on their pleasurein halls of dazzling light.

Then said the gray-faced Manager, breaking the silence:

“I suppose, gentlemen, we had better do as Mr. Mortimer so kindlysuggested? I presume that no one here is averse to theatricalexhibitions, or objects to a good dinner, washed down with thehalf-bottle of champagne the young gentleman liberally mentioned?”

“I prefer port!” said the hitherto silent Standish, in so strange avoice it seemed as though another man had spoken.

“Do you, egad?” said a fellow-clerk sniggeringly. “Perhaps you’ll tellus why?”

Because it is the color of blood,” the pale drudge answered. Hedipped his pen in the red ink as he spoke, and dived into his ledgeragain, and the face he bent over the closely-figured pages was yellowand sharp as a wedge of cheese.

Chobley, the Manager, had looked sharply at Standish when he had givenvoice to that strange reason for preferring the thick red wine. He hadrespectfully smoothed out the crumpled five-pound note, and folded itinto a broad flat spill, and he scraped the pepper-and-salt bristlesof his chin with it thoughtfully as he took his eyes away from thedowncast, brooding face; and very shortly afterwards took himself,upon a sufficient business-excuse, into Thompson Jowell’s room. Andnext morning Standish did not appear at the office in The Poultry, andthenceforwards the place upon the short-legged, horsehair-covered stoolthat had been his was occupied by another white-gilled toiler; and hisfrayed and ragged old black office coat vanished for good from its hookbehind the door.


The mental picture Dunoisse had formed of the surroundings of MissSmithwick turned out to be pleasantly remote from the reality.

[Pg 108]

The Hospice for Sick Governesses was a tall, prim, pale-faced familymansion in Cavendish Street, London, West, whose neat white steps ledto a dark green door with a bright brass plate and a gleaming brassknocker, through a wide hall hung with landscape-paintings of merit andfine old engravings in black frames, up a softly-carpeted staircase toan airy, cheerful bedroom on the second floor, where with birds andfragrant flowers, and many little luxuries about her to which poorSmithwick in her desperate battle with adversity had for long been astranger, the simple gentlewoman, grown a frail, white-haired, agedwoman, lay in a pretty chintz-curtained bed, whose shining brassworkgave back the ruddy blaze of a bright wood fire, listening to the quietvoice of a capped, and caped, and aproned nurse, who sat on a low chairbeside her, reading from a volume that lay upon her knee.

Dunoisse, from the doorway, to which he had been guided by an elderlywoman, similarly capped, and caped, and aproned, and evidently preparedfor the arrival he had announced by letter to his poor old friend, tookin the scene before patient or nurse had become aware of his presence.

The voice that read was one of the rare human organs that are gifted tomake surpassing melody of common ordinary speech. Soft, but distinct,through the dull roar of London traffic in the street below, everysyllable came clearly. And the shabby leather-bound volume withthe tarnished gilt clasps brought back old memories of Dunoisse’schildhood. From its sacred pages he had been taught the noble Englishof Tyndale, following the traveling crochet-hook of simple Smithwickfrom Gospel text to text; and the words that reached him now hadthus been made familiar; and they told of Heavenly pity and love forsorrowful, earth-born, Divinely-endowed humanity, and counseled braveendurance of the sufferings and sorrows of this world, for the sakeof One all-sinless, Who drank of its bitter cup and wore its crown ofthorns long, long before our stumbling feet were set upon its stonyways....

Dunoisse’s elderly guide had turned away at the urgent summons of abell, after knocking at the partly-open door and signing to the visitorto step across the threshold. He had waited there, listening to thesoft, melodious cadences of the voice that read, for some momentsbefore his presence[Pg 109] was perceived. Then, his poor old friend cried outhis name in a tremulous flutter of delight and agitation, and Dunoissecrossed the soft carpets to her bedside, and took her thin hand, andkissed her wrinkled forehead between the scanty loops of her gray hair.And the capped, and caped, and aproned nurse who had been reading, andhad risen and closed the Book, and laid it noiselessly aside upon atable at the first moment of Miss Smithwick’s recognition, said to him:

“The patient must not be over-excited, sir. You will kindly ring forassistance should she appear at all faint.”

Then she went, with an upright carriage and step that rather remindedthe visitor of the free, graceful gait of Arab women, out of the room,soundlessly shutting the door behind her.

“I did not tell her you were coming.... I so much wished that youshould see her!... Dearest Hector! My own sweet Madame Dunoisse’sbeloved boy!” poor Smithwick tittered, and Hector kindly soothed her,being nervously mindful of the nurse’s warning, the while she held hisstrong, supple, red hand in both her frail ones, and gazed into theman’s face, wistfully looking for the boy.

He was not conscious of the old uncomfortable shrinking from poorSmithwick. Her nose was not so cold; her little staccato, mouselikesqueaks of emotion were missing. Most of her sentimentalities and allof her affectations had fallen away from her with her obsolete velvetmantles and queer old trinkets, fallals of beads, and hair, and steel,and the front of brown curls that deceived nobody, and never evendreamed of trying to match the scanty knob behind. The honest, genuine,affectionate creature that she was and had always been, shone forthnow.... For Death is a skillful diamond-cutter who grinds and slicesflaws and blemishes away, and leaves, although reduced in size, a gemof pure unblemished luster, worthy to be set in Heaven’s shining floor.

And now he was to learn the reason of her harsh dismissal, and torespect her worth yet more. She charged him with her affectionatehumble duty to his father....

“Who, I trust, has long since pardoned me for what he well mightdeem presumption in venturing to judge his actions, and questionhis”—Smithwick hemmed—“strict[Pg 110] adherence to the—shall I call itcompact?—made with your dear mother, at the time when she conceivedit her duty to resume the religious habit she had discarded under theinfluence of—of a passion, Hector, which has made many of my sexoblivious to the peculiar sacredness of vows.” She added, reading noclear comprehension of her meaning in the brilliant black eyes thatlooked at her: “I refer to the Marshal’s unsuccessful attempt to obtainfrom His Serene Highness the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz recognition,and”—she hesitated—“acceptance of—yourself, dear boy, as the—inpoint of fact—the legitimate heir to his throne!”

“Can my father have conceived such a thing possible?” said Dunoisse,doubting if he had heard aright. “Can he have courted insult, rebuff,contempt, by making such an approach? Think again, dear friend! Is itnot possible you may be mistaken? No hint of any such proceeding on myfather’s part has ever been breathed to me. I beg you, think again!”

Miss Smithwick shook her head and sighed, and said that there was nomistake at all about it. She had received her dismissal for—it mightbe presumptuously—venturing to expostulate, when the public printsmade the matter a subject for discussion. It had been going on forsome time previously; the comments of the principal newspapers ofWidinitz, and of the leading Press organs of Munich and Berlin werelargely quoted in the Paris journals which had enlightened Smithwickon the subject of her patron’s plans. The cuttings she had preserved.They were in her desk, there upon the little table. Hector might seethem if he would.... Her thin fingers hunted under the velvet-coveredflaps of the absurd little old writing-box that her old pupil handedher; she followed the movements of the well-made manly figure in theloosely-fitting gray traveling-suit, with fond, admiring eyes. A blushmade her old cheeks quite pink and young as she said:

“Forgive me, dear Hector!—but you have grown so handsome.... Has ...has no beautiful young lady told you so? With her eyes, at least, sinceverbally to commend the personal appearance of a gentleman would beunmaidenly and unrefined.”

“You have lived too long out of France to remember, dear friend,”said Hector, showing his small, square white[Pg 111] teeth in a laugh ofheart-whole amusement, “that young ladies, with us, are not supposed tohave eyes at all!”

He forgot meek Smithwick for a moment, remembering an Arab girl atBlidah who had seemed to love him.... Adjmeh had been very pretty, withthe great blue-black dewy eyes of a gazelle, and the hoarse cooingvoice of a dove, despite the little indigo lilies and stars tattooedon her ripe nectarine-colored cheeks; on the backs of her slender,red-tipped hands, and upon the insteps of her slim arched feet, dyedalso with henna; their ankles tinkling with little gold and silvercoins and amulets, threaded on black silk strings similar to thosebound about her tiny wrists, and plaited into the orthodox twenty-fivetresses of her night-black hair....

Ah, yes! though at twenty she would be middle-aged, at thirty awrinkled hag, Adjmeh was very pretty—would be for several years tocome.... Who might be telling her so at that particular moment?...Dunoisse wondered, and then the conjured-up perfumes of sandal andambergris grew faint; the orange glow of the African sunset fadedfrom the flat, terraced roof of the little house at Blidah, thetinkle of the Arab tambur was nothing but the ring of a Londonmuffin-man’s bell—and Miss Smithwick was tendering him a littleflat packet of yellowed clippings from the Monarchie, theNational, the Presse, the Patrie....

Taking these with a brief excuse, Dunoisse moved to the window,and the cold gray light of the February morning fell upon the facethat—conscious of the mingled anger and humiliation written uponit—he was glad to hide from the invalid. Recollections were buzzing inhis ears like angry wasps, roused by the poking of a stick into theirhabitation, and each one had its separate sting. It is not agreeable tobe compelled to despise one’s father, and the last shred of the son’srespect fell from him as he read.

The chief among the Paris newspapers from which the cuttings had beentaken, bore the date of a day or two previous to that old boyish duelat the Technical School of Military Instruction. The conversationoccurring between the Duke and his guests, which, as repeated by deMoulny, had produced the quarrel, had undoubtedly arisen throughdiscussion of these.

Press organs of Imperial convictions upheld the action of the Marshal,denounced the policy of the reigning Prince[Pg 112] of Widinitz, in rejectingthe pretensions of his daughter’s son, as idiotic and unnatural in anelderly hereditary ruler otherwise destitute of an heir. Legitimistjournals sneered. Revolutionary prints heaped scorn upon the man,sprung from homely Swiss peasant-stock, who sought to aggrandizehimself by degrading his son. The satirical prints had squibs andlampoons ... the Charivari published a fearful caricature of theMarshal, in his gorgeous, obsolete, Imperial Staff uniform, tiptoe onthe roof of the Carmelite Convent of Widinitz in the attempt to reachdown the princely insignia dangling temptingly above him, whilst theaureoled vision of Ste. Térèse vainly expostulated with the would-bemarauder from clouds of glory overhead. The Monarchie quoted atlength an article from a leading Munich newspaper. Judge whether or nothe reader went hot and cold.

“We cannot sufficiently pity the son of the high-bred, misguided,repentant lady, doomed in the green bough of inexperienced youth to bethe tool of an unprincipled and unscrupulous adventurer, the handful ofmud flung in the face of a Bavarian Catholic State, whose rulers havefor centuries rendered to Holy Mother Church the most profound respect,and the most duteous allegiance.”

“Nom d’un petit bonhomme!...”

The old, boyish, absurd expletive hissed impotently on the glowingcoals of the man’s fierce indignation, quenching them not at all. Thewriter continued:

“He who thought little of dragging the pallet from under the dyingpeasant, whose greed has locked and bolted the doors of the CarmeliteHouse of Mercy in the faces of the sick and suffering poor, now laysdesecrating hands upon the princely mantle, covets the hereditary andfeudal scepter for his base-born son, adding to the impudent dishonestyof the Swiss innkeeper the vulgar braggadocio and swaggering assuranceof the paid hireling of the Corsican usurper, who dared to mountthe sacred throne of St. Louis; who presumed to adulterate with theplebeian blood of a Beauharnais the patrician tide flowing in the veinsof a daughter of the reigning House of Wittelsbach.”

Dunoisse’s face was not pleasant to see, as, perusal ended, he sethis small white teeth viciously upon his lower lip, and, breathingvengeance upon unknown offenders through[Pg 113] his thin, arched nostrils,scowled menacingly at the smug-faced, genteel houses on the oppositeside of Cavendish Street. His father’s boast about the “blood royal”came back to him, and that “fine Serene Highness” the Marshal hadpromised those good people of Widinitz. Ah! what an infamy the wholething had been! But at least one might count it buried; forgotten likethese perishing strips of discolored, brittle paper. That was somethingto be thankful for.

He cleared his forehead of its thunder-clouds, and turned back towardsthe bed, but something of the ordeal of shame he had passed through waswritten on his face for Smithwick, in spite of the smile with which hedressed it, as he silently laid the yellowed fold of cuttings on thecoverlet near her hand.

“They—they have given you pain?” faltered the poor lady.

“It is past and over, dear friend. These paragraphs have cleared upsomething that was obscure to me before,” said Dunoisse—“conveyed ahint of his that was never again made. One cannot pretend tojudge him. He has always been a law unto himself.”

The bitterness of the words, and the ironical smile that curved thespeaker’s lips as he uttered them, were lost upon the simple woman whoanswered:

“I have always felt that. There are characters so highly elevatedabove the crowd of ordinary individuals, that one can hardly expectthem to be influenced by the ordinary considerations, the commonplaceprinciples that guide and govern the rest of us——”

“Fortunately for ourselves!” interpolated Dunoisse.

“—That, my dear, we who know ourselves their inferiors in intellect,as in personal advantages, cannot pretend to judge them,” finished thepoor lady.

“And in proportion with the baseness of their motives and the meanselfishness of their aims,” said Dunoisse, “the admiration of theirmore moral and upright fellow-creatures would appear to be lavishedupon them.”

“Too true, I fear, my dear Hector,” admitted Miss Smithwick, flushinginside the neat frills that bordered her cap. “But had you beheldyour father in the splendor of his earlier years, you would”—shecoughed—“have perhaps regarded the devotion with which it was his fateto[Pg 114] inspire persons of the opposite sex, with greater leniency andtolerance.”

“How did his path cross my mother’s?” asked Dunoisse, amused, in spiteof himself, at the unremitting diligence with which the Marshal’sfaithful votary availed herself of every opportunity that presenteditself, to spread a brushful of gilding on her battered idol. “I haveoften wondered, but never sought to learn.”

“During the last years of the Emperor Napoleon’s sequestration atSt. Helena, my dear, your father, chafing at the lack of publicappreciation which his great talents should have commanded, and hisdistinguished martial career certainly had earned, found distractionand interest in traveling as a private gentleman through the variouscountries he had visited in a less peaceful character. And, during avisit to the country estate of a Bavarian nobleman, whose acquaintancehe had made during—unless I err—the second campaign of Vienna, as theresult of one of those accidents which so mold our after-lives, Hector,that one cannot doubt that Destiny and Fate conspire to bring themabout, he crossed your mother’s path.”

“To her most bitter sorrow and her son’s abiding shame!” commentedDunoisse, but not aloud.

“There is, or was, in the neighborhood of Widinitz—I speak of thecapital of the Bavarian Principality of that name,” went on MissSmithwick, “a House of Mercy—under the management of nuns of theCarmelite Order, whose Convent adjoins the Hospital—now closed inconsequence of the withdrawal from its Endowment Fund of a sum so largethat the charitable institution was ruined by its loss.”

Hector knew well who had brought about the ruin. He sat listening,and kept his eyes upon the carpet, lest the fierce wrath and scathingcontempt that burned in them should discompose the Marshal’s faithfulpartisan.

“One day in the autumn of 1820,” said Miss Smithwick—“the Princehaving ridden out early with all his Court and retinue to hunt—agentleman was brought to the Widinitz House of Mercy on a woodman’scart. He had been struck upon the forehead and thrown from his saddleby an overhanging branch as he rode at full speed down a forest road.The Hunt swept on after the boar-hounds—the insensible man was foundby two peasants and[Pg 115] conveyed to the Hospital, as I have said. Thenun in charge of the Lesser Ward—chiefly reserved for the treatmentof accidents, my dear, for there were many among the peasants andwoodcutters, and quarrymen, and miners—and to meet their great needthe House of Mercy, had been founded by a former Prioress of theConvent—the nun in charge was Sister Térèse de Saint Francois....”

“My mother. Yes?...”

Dunoisse had spoken in a whisper. His eyes shunned gentle Smithwick’s.He sat in his old, boyish attitude leaning forwards in his chair, hisclasped hands thrust downwards between his knees; and those hands wereso desperately knotted in the young man’s fierce, secret agony of shameand anger, that the knuckles started, lividly white in color, againstthe rich red skin.

“There is no more to tell, my dear!” said Miss Smithwick. “You canconceive the rest?”

“Easily!” said Dunoisse. “Easily! And, knowing what followed, one istempted to make paraphrase of the Scripture story. Had the Samaritanspassed by and left the wounded man to what you have called Fate andDestiny, the cruses of oil and wine would not have been drained andbroken, the House of Mercy would not have been ransacked and gutted;its virgin despoiled—its doors barred in the faces of the dying poor.”He laughed, and the jarring sound of his mirth made his meek hearertremble. “It is a creditable story!” he said, “a capital story forone to hear who bears the name he so willingly makes stink inthe nostrils of honorable men. For if I have Carmel in my blood—toquote his favorite gibe—I have also his. And it is a terribleinheritance!”

“Oh! hush, my dear! Remember that he is your father!” pleaded poorSmithwick.

“I cannot forget it,” said Dunoisse, smiling with stiff, pale lips. “Itis a relationship that will be constantly brought home. When I see youlying here, and know what privations you must have endured before thecharitable owners of this house opened its doors to you, and realizethat his were shut because you strove to open his eyes to theprecipice of shame towards which his greed and ambition were hurryinghim, blindly, I ask myself whether, with such Judas-blood running in myown veins, and such a heritage of gross desires and selfish sensualityas it must[Pg 116] bring with it!—whether it be possible for me, his son, tolive a life of cleanliness and honor? And the answer is——”

“Oh! yes, my dear!” cried the poor creature tearfully. “With the goodhelp of God! And have you not been honorable and brave, Hector, inrefusing any portion of—that money?” She added, meeting Dunoisse’slook of surprise: “Do you wonder how it is I know? Your fatherwrote and told me—it is now years ago—I hope you will not blamehim!—though the letter was couched in terms of reproach that woundedme cruelly at the time....” Smithwick felt under her pillow for herhandkerchief and dried her overflowing eyes.

“What charges did he bring against you?” Dunoisse asked, controlling asbest he could the contempt and anger that burned in his black eyes, andvibrated in his voice.

“He said I had revenged myself for the withdrawal of his patronage,and my removal from his service,” gulped poor Smithwick, “by poisoningthe mind of his only child! He complained that you refused to touch afranc of his money—preferring to work your way upwards under heavydisadvantages, rather than accept from him, your father, any portionof the fortune he had always meant should be yours. And”—she put herhandkerchief away and nodded her head in quite a determined manner—“Iwrote back and told him, Hector—that I esteemed your course ofconduct, though my counsels had not inspired it; and that your mother,when she learned of your determination, would be proud of her nobleson!”

Dunoisse would have spoken here, but Smithwick held up her thin handand stopped him.

“For it seems to me, dear child of my dearest mistress, that to takewhat has been given to God, is the way to call down the just judgmentof Heaven upon the heads of those who are guilty of such deeds,” saidSmithwick, nodding her mild gray head emphatically. “And, rather thanlive in gilded affluence upon those funds, wrested from the coffers ofthe Carmelite House of Charity at Widinitz, I would infinitely preferto carry on existence—as I have done, dear Hector—until my healthfailed me in my attic room at Hampstead, on a penny roll a day. And shewould uphold me and agree with me.”

“Who is she, dear friend?” asked Hector, smiling, though[Pg 117] hisheart was sore within him at the picture of dire need revealed in theseutterances of the simple lady.

“I speak of our Lady Superintendent.... A remarkable personality, mydear Hector, if I may venture to say so.... It was she who, findingthis benevolent charity suffering from mismanagement and lack of funds,endowed it with a portion of her large fortune, induced other wealthypersons to subscribe towards endowing the foundation with a permanentincome, and, finding no trustworthy person of sufficient capacity tofill the post, herself assumed the duties of Resident Matron. Imagineit, my dear!” said gentle Smithwick. “At her age—for she is stillyoung—possibly your senior by a year or two, certainly not more—toforego Society and the giddy round of gilded pleasure to be found inLondon and dear, dear Paris!— for the humdrum routine of a Hospital;the training and management of nurses; the regulation of prescriptions,diets, and accounts!”

“Indeed! A vocation, one would say!” commented Dunoisse.

“She would ask you,” returned Miss Smithwick, “must one necessarily bea nun to work for the good of others?”

The words stirred a dim recollection in Dunoisse of having heard thembefore. But the image of the Lady Superintendent of the Hospice forSick Governesses formed itself within his mind. He saw her as a plain,sensible, plump little spinster, well advanced towards the thirties,resigned to exchange hopeless rivalries with other young women, notonly rich, but pretty, for undivided rule and undisputed sway over alarge household of dependents.... preferring the ponderous complimentsof Members of Visiting Committees to the assiduities of impecuniousGuardsmen and money-hunting detrimentals. He said, as the picture faded:

“This lady who has been so kind to you——”

“‘Kind.’... The word is feeble, my dear Hector, to express herunbounded goodness,” declared Miss Smithwick. “I can but say that inthe midst of sickness, and dire poverty, and other distresses that Iwill not further dwell on, she came upon me like an Angel from theHeaven in which I firmly believe. And when I lay down my head, neverto lift it up again—and I think, my dear, the time is not far offnow!—that great and solemn hour that comes[Pg 118] to all of us will becheered and lightened, Hector, if she stands beside my pillow and holdsmy dying hand.”

The simple sincerity of the utterance brought tears into the listener’seyes. He winked them back, and said:

“I pray the day you speak of may not dawn for years! My leave, procuredwith difficulty owing to threatening national disturbances which theArmy may be employed in quelling, extends not beyond three days. Ishall hope to see this lady, and thank her for her goodness to myfriend before I go.”

“I trust she will permit it. She is very reticent—almost shrinking—inher desire to avoid recognition of her....”

Miss Smithwick broke off in the middle of her sentence. She leaned backupon her pillows, lividly pale, breathing hurriedly; her blue lipsstrove to say: “It is nothing. Don’t mind!”

Alarmed for her, repentant for having forgotten the nurse’s warning,Dunoisse grasped at the bell-rope by the fireplace, and sent an urgentsummons clanging through the lower regions of the tall house. Withina moment, as it seemed, the door opened, admitting the capped, andcaped, and aproned young woman who had been reading to the patient uponhis arrival. A glance seemed to show her a condition of things notunexpected. She went swiftly to the bedside, answering, as Dunoisseturned to her appealingly, the words shaping themselves upon his lipsthat asked her: “Shall I go?”

“It will be best!... Wait at the end of the passage, near the window onthe landing.... This looks alarming,” she answered—“but it will notlast long.”


She had forgotten him before the still pure air of the sick-room hadceased to vibrate with her spoken words. She saw nothing but thepatient in need of her, and had passed her arm beneath the pillowand was raising the gray head, and had reached a little vial and ameasuring-glass from a stand that was beside the bed, before Dunoissehad gained the door. It might have been five minutes later, as he[Pg 119]contemplated a vista of grimy, leaded roofs, and cowled, smoke-vomitingchimney-pots, from the staircase-window at the passage-end, that heheard a light rustling of garments passing over the thick soft carpets,and she came to him, moving with the upright graceful carriage and thelong, gliding step that had reminded him of the gait of the tall suppleArab women, whose slender, perfect proportions lend their movementssuch rhythmic grace. He said to her eagerly, as she stopped at a fewpaces from him:

“Mademoiselle, you see one who is gravely to blame for forgetfulness ofyour wise warning. I beg you, hide nothing from me!... Is my dear oldfriend in danger? Her color was that of Death itself.”

“There is always danger in cases of heart-disease.”

“Heart-disease.... She said no word to me upon the subject. But itis like her,” said Dunoisse, “to conceal her sufferings rather thandistress her friends.”

“She has needed friends, and the help that prosperous friendship couldhave well afforded to bestow, believe me, sir, in these late years ofuncomplaining want and bitter privation.”

The voice that spoke was sweet; Dunoisse had already recognized in itthat quality. Barely raised above an undertone—presumably for the sakeof other sufferers within the neighboring rooms that opened on thelanding, from behind the shut doors of which came the murmur of voices,or the clinking of cups and saucers, or the sound of fires beingpoked,—this voice had in its clear distinctness the ring of crystal;and the fine edge of scorn in it cut to the sensitive quick of thelistener. He started as he looked at her, meeting the calm and clearand steady regard of eyes that were blue-gray as the waters of her ownEnglish Channel, and seemed as cold....

For they condemned him and judged him, the rich man’s son, who had leftthe old dependent to the charity of strangers. His shamed blood tingledunder his red-brown skin, as he said, with a resentful flash of hisblack eyes:

“That this good woman, the faithful guardian of my motherless boyhood,has suffered want, is to my bitter regret, to my abiding poignantsorrow, but not to my shame. A thousand times—no!”

He was so vivid and emphatic, as he stood speaking with his backto the window, that, with his foreign brilliancy of[Pg 120] coloring, theslightness of form that masked his great muscular strength, the suppleeloquence of gesture that accompanied and emphasized his clear andcultivated utterance, he seemed to glow against the background ofrimy February fog, and London roofs and chimney-pots, as a flashingruby upon gray velvet; as a South American orchid seen in reliefagainst a neutral-tinted screen. His “No!” had a convincing ring; thelightning-flash of his black eyes was genuine fire, not theatrical; thewoman who heard and saw had been born with the rare power of judgingand reading men. Her broad white forehead cleared between the silkenfolds of her hair, pale nut-brown, with the gleam of autumn gold uponthe edges of its thick waved tresses; the lowered arches of her browneyebrows lifted and drew apart, smoothing out the fold between them;the regard of her blue-gray eyes ceased to chill; the delicate sternlines of her sensitive mouth relaxed. She knew he spoke the truth.

He saw a tall, slight, brown-haired woman in a plain and, according tothe voluminous fashion of the time, rather scanty gown of Quakerishgray, protected by a bibbed white apron with pockets of accommodatingsize. A little cape of stuff similar to that of the gown covered hershoulders. Their beauty of line, like the beauty of the long roundedthroat that rose above her collar of unadorned white cambric, theshapeliness of the arms that were covered by her plain tight sleeves,the slender rounded hips and long graceful proportions of the lowerlimbs, were enhanced rather than hidden by the simplicity of herdress; as the admirable shape and poise of the small rounded head wasundesignedly set off by the simple, close-fitting, white muslin cap,with its double frill and broad falling lappets.

Her calmness seemed immobility, her silence indifference to Dunoisse.Her hands were folded upon her apron, her bosom rose and fell to thetime of her deep even breathing, her steady eyes regarded him as hepoured himself out in passionate denial, fierce repudiation of theodious stigma of ingratitude, but she gave no sign of having heard.She looked at him, and considered, that was all. He said, galled andirritated by her unresponsiveness:

“I should ask pardon of you, Mademoiselle, for my vehemence,incomprehensible to you and out of place here.[Pg 121] What I seek is aprivate audience of the lady who is Directress of this charitablehouse. Would she favor me by granting it? I would promise not to detainher. Could you graciously, Mademoiselle——”

She said, with her intent eyes still reading him:

“I should tell you it is the rule of this house that no attendantin it should be addressed as ‘Mademoiselle,’ ‘Miss,’ or ‘Mrs.’ ...‘Nurse’ is the name to which we all answer, and we try todeserve it well.”

Her smile wrought a radiant, lovely change in her that evoked hisunwilling admiration. The pearl-white teeth it revealed shone brilliantin the light of it, and the dark blue-gray eyes flashed and gleamedlike sapphires between their narrowed lids. But the next moment shestood before him as pale and grave as she had seemed to him before,with her white hands folded on her white apron.

“You do deserve that title, I am sure,” said Dunoisse, “if you ministerto all your patients as kindly and as skillfully as to my poor friendthere.” He added: “Forgive me, that I detain you here, when you may beneeded by her bedside!”

He motioned towards the door of the room he had quitted, receivinganswer:

“Do not be alarmed. Another nurse is with her. She was in the adjoiningroom; I called her to take charge before I came to you. And—you weredesirous of an interview with our Superintendent here.... She seesfew people, the nature of her responsibilities permitting littleleisure.... I cannot bring you any nearer to her than you are now.But if you could trust me with the message you desire to send, or theexplanation you wish to make, I will give you my promise that yourexact words shall be conveyed to her. Will that do?”

Dunoisse bowed and thanked her, with some shadow of doubt upon hissquare forehead, a lingering hesitation in his tone.

“If you were older, Mademoiselle——” he began, forgetful of herinjunction, as he hesitated before her. She looked at him, and herlips curved into their lovely smile again, and her blue-gray eyes weremirthful as she said:

“I am older than you are, M. Dunoisse. Does not that fact give youconfidence?”

[Pg 122]

“It should,” returned Dunoisse, “if it were possible of credence.”

“Compliments are a currency that does not pass within these doors,” sheanswered, with a fine slight accent of irony and a tincture of sarcasmin her smile. “Keep yours for Society small-change in the salonsof Paris or the drawing-rooms of Belgravia. They are wasted here.”

“I know but little,” said Dunoisse, “of the salons of Londonand Paris. Circumstances have conspired to shut the doors of Society,generally open to welcome rich men’s sons, as completely in my face asin that of any other ineligible. You will learn why, since you are sokind as to undertake to convey a message from me to the Superintendentof this house. It shall be as brief as I can make it. I would notwillingly waste your time.”

She bent her head, and the high-bred grace perceptible in the slightmovement appealed to him as exquisite. But he was too earnest in hisdesire for justification to be turned aside.

“Say to this lady whose charitable hand has lifted my dear oldfriend—from what depths of penury I only now begin to realize—that ifshe comprehends that I was a boy at a Military School, and ignorant,thoughtless, and selfish as boys are wont to be, when my good oldgoverness was driven from the house that had been for years her home,and that her dismissal was so brought about that she seemed but to beleaving us upon a visit of condolence to a sick relative, she willjudge me less harshly, regard me with less contempt than it may seem toher, now, I deserve!——”

His hearer stopped him:

“You should be told, M. Dunoisse, that all that can be said in yourfavor has been already said by Miss Smithwick herself. It neveroccurred to her to reproach you. Nor for her dismissal can you beblamed at all. But it has seemed to me that where there was ability toprovide for one so tried and faithful, some effort should have beenmade in her behalf by you as you grew more mature, and the ample meansthat are placed at the disposal of a rich man’s son were yours to use.She never told you of her cruel need, I can guess that. But oh! M.Dunoisse! you might have read Hunger and Cold between the lines of thepoor thing’s letters.”

[Pg 123]

There were tears in the great sorrowful blue-gray eyes. Her calm voiceshook a little.

“If you had seen her as she was when I was sent to her,” she said, “youwould feel as I do. True, a letter with a remittance from you came whenshe was nearly past needing any of the help it contained for her. Butlong, long before, you might have read between the lines!”

“Ah!—in the Name of Heaven, Mademoiselle, I pray you hear me!” burstout Dunoisse, catching at the carved knob of the baluster at thestair-head, and wringing it in the energy of his earnestness. “All thatyou suppose is true! Even before I came of age a large sum of moneywas placed at my disposal by my father. Over a million of our francs,forty-five thousand of your English sovereigns, lie to my credit inthe bank, have so lain for years. May the hour that sees me spend asou of that accursed money be an hour of shame for me, andbitterness and humiliation! And should ever a day draw near, that isto see me trick myself in dignities and honors stolen by a charlatan’sdevice, and usurp a power to which I have no more moral right than themeanest peasant of the State it rules—before its dawning I pray that Imay die! and that those who come seeking a clod of mud to throw in theface of a Catholic principality, may find it lying in a coffin!”

He had forgotten that he addressed himself to a stranger, so wholly hadhis passion carried him away. He awakened to her now, seeing her recoilfrom him as though repelled by his vehemence, and then conquer herimpulse and turn to him again.

“Pardon!” He held up his hand to check her as she was about to speak.“I speak, in my forgetfulness, of things incomprehensible to you. Iemploy names that are unmeaning. These have no part in the message Ientreat you of your goodness to bear to the Superintendent of thishouse. Could it not be made clear to this lady, without baring to thevision of a stranger the disgrace of one whom I am bound to respect,and would that it were possible! Could it not be understood that thismoney was gained in a discreditable, vile, and shameful way? Could itnot be understood that I shall never rest until it has been returned tothe original source whence it was unjustly plundered and wrung? Couldit not be made clear that[Pg 124] while I was yet a boy I swore a solemn oathbefore Almighty God, at the instance of a friend—who afterwards castme off and deserted me!—that this restitution should be made?... Mightit not be explained that I have had nothing, since I took that oath,that was not earned by my own efforts? That I could take no holidaysfrom the Technical School where I was a cadet, because I could notafford to buy civilian clothes, and that, until by good fortune Iearned rewards and prizes and a period of free tuition at the TrainingInstitute for Officers of the Staff—that many of my comrades deservedbetter, I do not doubt!—I was very, very poor, Mademoiselle! Would itnot be possible?”

“Yes, yes!”—she answered him, and her pale cheeks had grown rosy asapple-blossoms, and her great gray-blue eyes were full of kindness now.“It shall all be explained. You shall be no longer blamed where youare praiseworthy, and reproached where you should be honored. And—twobreaches of faith—a double perjury—are worse than one, though a lowerstandard of honor than yours would have taken your false friend’sdesertion as a release. You have done well to keep your oath, M.Dunoisse, though he may have broken his.”

“I deserve no praise,” said Dunoisse, “and I desire none. I ask forjustice—it is the right of every human soul; I beg you to repeat tothis benevolent lady what I have said, and to tell her that I will beanswerable for whatever charges she has been put to, for the medicalattendance and support of my dear old friend, from to-day. It is asacred duty which I will gladly take upon myself.”

“Forgive me,” said the listener, and her voice was very soft, “butwould not this be a heavy tax on your resources?—a heavy drain uponyour slender means?”

He listened, with his black eyes seeming to study an engraving thathung upon the staircase wall. She ended, and he looked at her again.

“It would be a tax, and a drain under ordinary circumstances, but Ithink I can insure a way to meet the difficulty.... Is it possible thatI may be permitted to say Adieu to my old friend before I leave thishouse? It will be necessary—now!—that I should return to France bythe packet that sails to-night.”

[Pg 125]

He was more than ever like a slender ruddy flame as he glowedthere against the dull background of marble-papered wall and foggywindow-panes. His virile energy, the hard clear ring of his voice, thekeen flash of his black eyes won her rare approval, no less than hisreticence and his delicacy. Her own eyes were more than kind, though inthe respect of his seeing Miss Smithwick again that day her decisionwas prohibitory. He bowed to the decision.

“Then you shall say Adieu and Au revoir to her forme,” he said, and held out his hand with a smiling look and a quick,impulsive gesture. “And for yourself, Mademoiselle, accept my thanks.”

He added, retaining the hand she had placed in his:

“You will not fail of your promise to repeat to Madame theSuperintendent all that I have confided to you?”

“You have my word,” she answered him. “But of one thing I must warnyou—if you send any money, she will send it back!”

“Name of Heaven!—why?” exclaimed Dunoisse.

“Because,” she said, with a slight fold between her arched browneyebrows, “your friend has been accepted by the Committee as apermanent inmate here, and there is no lack of funds. I must really gonow if you will be so good as to release me!”

Dunoisse was still jailer of the hand she had given, and his grip,unconsciously strenuous, was responsible for that fold of pain betweenthe nurse’s eyebrows. He released the hand with penitence and distress,saying:

“I entreat you to forgive me if I have hurt this kind hand, thathas alleviated so much pain, and smoothed the pillows of so manydeath-beds.” But his lips, only shaded by the little upward-brushedblack mustache, had barely touched her fingers before she drew themgently from his, saying with a smile:

“There is no need for atonement, M. Dunoisse. As for this kiss upon myhand, I will transfer it with your message of farewell to your dear oldgoverness. My good wishes will follow you with hers, wherever you maygo!”

She was gone, moving along the passage and vanishing into a room halfway down its length before a bell rang somewhere in the lower regionsof the house, a voice spoke to Dunoisse, and he brought back his eyes,that had been questing in search of another, to see the capped andcaped[Pg 126] and aproned elderly woman, who had a round, brown smiling face,somewhat lined and wrinkled, smooth gray hair, and pleasant eyes ofsoft dark hazel, waiting to lead him downstairs as she had guided himup. To her he said, as she opened the street-door upon the foggy vistaof Cavendish Street:

“Be so good, Madame, as to tell me the name of the Lady Superintendenthere?”

The elderly attendant answered promptly:

“Merling, sir! Miss Ada Merling.”

Where had Dunoisse heard that name before? He racked his brain even ashe said, with the smile that showed his small, square white teeth andmade his black eyes gleam more brightly:

“I must be once more troublesome, if you will allow me. What is thename of the lady to whom I was talking just now?”

The elderly attendant answered, in precisely the same form of words:

“Merling, sir: Miss Ada Merling.”


The front-door of the Hospice for Sick Governesses in CavendishStreet had not long closed behind the retreating figure of a swarthy,black-eyed young foreign gentleman when the pleasant-faced elderlywoman whose duty it was to answer its bell brought to the LadySuperintendent a card upon a little inlaid tray. She took the card andsmiled.

“Tell Mr. Bertham that I will come down in a few minutes. And I hopeyou did not call him ‘Master Robert’ this time, Husnuggle?”

“I did, Miss Ada, love, as sure as my name’s a queer one, and him aSecretary of State at War.”

“He is not Secretary at War now, Husnuggle, though he may be again. Whocan tell, when Governments are always changing and Cabinets being madeand remade?”

“A-cabinet-making he went as a boy, and cut his fingers cruel, and theWraye Abbey housekeeper fainted dead away at the sight of the blood,they said!—and the head-house-maid[Pg 127] gave notice at being asked forcobwebs, which she vowed and declared not one were to be found in theplace, though answer for attics how can you? And he had my name pat,Miss Ada, so soon as I answered the door. ‘Halloa, Husnuggle!’ he says;‘so you’ve come up from Peakshire to help nurse the sick governesses?’And I says: ‘Yes, Master Robert, and it’s like the good old times comeback, to see your handsome, smiling face again.’ And you’ll come to himin a few minutes?”

“The minutes have passed, Husnuggle, while you have been talking. I amgoing down to Mr. Bertham now.”

She found him in a little ground-floor parlor, sacred to accounts andthe semi-private interviews accorded by the Lady Superintendent toshabby-genteel visitors with hungry faces (growing still more wan asthe tale of penury was told) and smartish visitors with impudent faces,apt to flush uncomfortably under the keen scrutiny of those blue-grayeyes. It was plainly but comfortably furnished, and a red fire glowedin its grate of shining steel, and a plump and sleek and well-contentedcat dozed happily upon its hearthrug.

You saw Bertham as a tall, lightly-built man of barely thirty, with abright, spirited, handsome face and a frank, gay, cordial manner. Notrace of the pompousness of the ex-Secretary of State either in hisappearance, voice or handshake: a warm and cordial grip was to be hadfrom Bertham; or, in default of this, a brusque nod that said: “You areobjectionable, and I prefer to keep clean hands!”

He was striding lightly up and down the little parlor, with the looseends of his black satin cravat—voluminous, according to the fashion ofthe time—floating behind him; and each time he covered the distancefrom the hearthrug to the muslin-blinded window he would stop, lookimpatiently at his watch, and recommence his walk.

She said, standing in the doorway, watching him do this:

“You are not in a genuine hurry, or you would not be here at all.”

“Ada!” He turned with a look of glad relief, and as she noiselesslyclosed the door and came to meet him, he took both the womanly cordialhands she held out to him, and pressed them in his own. “It does onegood to see[Pg 128] you. It does one good even to know you anchored here inCavendish Street, and not flying from Berlin to Paris, from Paris toRome, from Rome to Heaven-knows-where—comparing foreign systems ofHospital management and sanitation with our own, and finding ourseverywhere to be hopelessly out of date, and inferior, and wrong....”

“As it is!” she said—“And is it not time we knew it? so that we canprove those mistaken who say, ‘To be insular is to be strong,perhaps, but at the same time it is to be narrow-minded.’

“Ah! Ada, Ada!” he said, and his sweet and mellow voice had sadness init. “If we all lived up to your standard, the Millennium would havecome, and Governments would cease from troubling, and War Secretarieswould be at rest.”

“Are you not at rest just now?” she asked, and added, even before heshook his head: “But no! You are overworked; your face shows it.”

“Mary said so this morning,” he answered; “but if my looks pity me, asPeakshire folk would say, I feel fit and well.”

“Where is my Mary?” she asked. “Why have you not brought her?”

“Mary has flown down to Hayshire,” he said, “on the wings of thePortsmouth Express. One of the crippled children at the Home was to beoperated on, under chloroform, for the removal of a portion of diseasedhip-bone; and though my wife shrank from the ordeal of seeing pain,even dulled by the anæsthetic, she felt it was her duty to be upon thespot.”

“Dear Mary!” she said, and if Dunoisse had seen her face he would nolonger have thought it lacking in warmth and color: “True, good, noblewoman.”

Bertham answered, with feeling in his own face and voice:

“The dearest, living!... the noblest I ever knew—but one, Ada!”

She passed the words as though she had not heard, and said, with thesoft, clear laugh that had music in it for the ears of those who lovedher, and this man was one of the many:

“Husnuggle was made so happy by your not forgetting her, poor goodsoul!”

[Pg 129]

“Her face conjured up Wraye Rest,” he said, “and the yew-tree gatewaybetween the park and the garden; and the green terraces with theapple-espaliers and the long borders of lavender-bushes; and Darth downat the bottom of the deep valley, foaming over her bed of limestonerock, and the steep paths down to the trout-pools that were easier totread than the slippery ways of Diplomacy.”

“One can always go back!” she returned, though her sigh for all thedistant sweetness had echoed his, “either to my dear Wraye Rest or yourown peculiar Eden of Wraye Abbey.”

“Taking our respective loads of aims and ambitions and responsibilitieswith us,” said Bertham. “My badly-housed Military Invalid Pensionersfor whom I want tight roofs, and dry walls, and comfortable beds. MySandhurst Cadets, trussed up in absurd trappings, and harassed withrules as trumpery—hide-bound with conditions quite as detrimentalto health as their cut-and-dried discipline, and innumerablesupererogatory belts, straps, and buckles. My Regimental Schools, whereilliterate soldiers and their wives are to learn to read and writeand cipher; and my Infants’ Classes, where the soldier’s children maybe taught as well. My Improved Married Quarters, which should—but donot, more’s the pity!—occupy a separate block in every Barracks inthe Kingdom, where the women and their men may live in decent privacy,and not under conditions not at all distantly recalling—to our shame!and the Red Tapeism that preserves these conditions in their unadornedand ancient ugliness ought to blush the redder for it!—the primitivepromiscuities of the Stone Age. With a distinct bias in favor of thatperiod!”

His handsome face was bitter and dark with anger; his voice, thoughbarely raised above the level of ordinary fireside chat, rang andvibrated with passionate indignation.

“It has been borne in on me, Ada, in God knows how many hoursof weariness and bitter disappointment, that our Peninsulartriumphs—achieved in what we are accustomed to call the good olddays—are a heavy clog upon our advancement as a nation now, and acloud upon our eyes. They were not good old days, Ada, as windbaggyorators like to call them; they were bad old days, inhuman old days,cruel old days, when Napoleon Bonaparte possessed[Pg 130] France upon a bridalbed of bloody corpses; and ragged, underfed, untaught, unshelteredsoldiers upheld, in what neglect, what misery and suffering, you andI can barely realize, amidst Famine and Slaughter and Pestilence andDevastation hideous and indescribable, the traditional glory of theBritish nation, the strength and fire and power of British Arms. Let ushave done with the pride of those days! Let us cease to boast of them!Let us prove our advancement in Civilization, Humanity, and Scienceby no longer treating these our fellow-creatures as human pawns in adevilish game of chess, or as thoughtless children treat toy-soldiers;to be moved hither and thither at will, swept off the board whennecessary, and jostled promiscuously into dark and stuffy boxes untilwe are pleased to call for them again! Since Great Britain owes somuch to her Army and her Navy, let her treat the men who serve her byland and sea with respect, and decent consideration. And in so far asGovernments and Administrations of the old days ignored their rights tohonest, humane, and Christian usage, let us have done with those damnedold days forever, and while the life is red in us, hurry on the new!”

“They cannot come too quickly!” she said, giving back his earnest look.“Surely by raising the moral tone, cultivating the mental faculties,and improving the social condition of the private soldier, he is nervedand tempered, not softened and unstrung.”

“As it is we owe him honor,” said Bertham, “that, with so manydisadvantages as he labors under to-day, and in the face of the badexample too often set him as to moral conduct and neglect of duty byhis superiors, he is what we know him to be!”

“Ah, that is true—most true!” she answered, breaking the silencein which she had sat listening to the silvery voice of which evenBertham’s enemies admitted the singular charm. “May the day soon dawnwhen we shall see him what we hope he will become!”

“There will be a dark night before its dawning,” Bertham returned, andhis smile had sadness in its very brilliancy. “For England must losemuch to win that more, be assured.”

He added as his look met hers, seeing the slight bewildered knitting ofher eyebrows:

[Pg 131]

“There is a grand old white head nodding at the upper end of the GreenCouncil Board at the War Office, or soundly sleeping, in the innersanctum at the covered passage-end that has always been known as theoffice of the Commander-in-Chief,—that Britain, in her gratitudeand loyal regard and tender reverence for its great owner,—and Godforbid that I should rob him of one jot or tittle of what has beenso gloriously won!—has left there long years since the brain withinit became incapable, by the natural and inevitable decay of its oncesplendid faculties, of planning and carrying out any wholesome,needful reform in our Army’s organization—even of listening to thosewho have suggestions to offer, or plans to submit, with anything butan old man’s testy impatience of what seems new. This is deplored bypersonages nominally subordinate, really wielding absolute power. ‘Sad,sad!’ they say, ‘but the nation would have it so.’ Yet little morethan a year ago, when, as by a miracle, the strength and vigor of theold warrior’s prime seemed, if only for an instant, to have returnedto him—when the dim fires of the gray eagle-glance blazed out again,and the trembling hand, strung to vigor for the nonce, penned thatmost electrifying letter,—published a few weeks back by what the NewEngland Party regard as a wise stroke of policy, and Officialdom asan unpardonable indiscretion,—that letter declaring the country’sdefenses to be beggarly and inadequate, its naval arsenals neglected,its dockyards undermanned, its forts not half-garrisoned.... What sortof criticism did it evoke? Those who were openly antagonistic declaredit to be preposterous; those who were loyal treated its utterances withcontemptuous, galling indulgence.... To me it was as though a propheticvoice had spoken in warning from the tomb! And even before the gravenstone sinks down over the weary old white head, Ada, and the laurelsare withered that lie above, the country he loved and served so grandlymay be doing pennance in dust and ashes for that warning it despised!”

“And if the War-call sounded to-morrow,” she said, with her intent lookupon him, and her long white fingers knitted about her knee, “and theneed arose—as it would arise—for a man of swift decision and vigorousaction to lead us in the field—upon whom would we rely?[Pg 132] Who wouldstep into the breach, and wield the baton?”

“A man,” returned Bertham, “sixty-six years old, who served on theDuke’s staff and lost his left arm at Waterloo; who has never held anycommand or had any experience of directing troops in War, and whoselife, for forty years or so, has been spent in the discharge of theduties, onerous but not active, devolving upon a Military Secretary.The whole question as to fitness or not fitness turns upon an ‘if.’”

The speaker spread his hands and shrugged his shoulders slightly, anda whimsical spark of humor gleamed in the look he turned upon thelistener, as a star might shine through the wild blue twilight of a dayof gale and storm, as he resumed:

“If the possession of the Wellingtonian manner,—combined with anempty sleeve—all honor to the brave arm that used to be inside it!—amanner full of urbanity and courtesy—nicely graduated and calculatedaccording to the rank and standing of the person addressed; andadmirable command of two Continental languages, and a discreet butdistinct appreciation of high company and good living, unite to make anideal Commander-in-Chief, why, Dalgan will be the man of men!...”

“But surely we need something more,” she said, meeting Bertham’s glancewith doubt and questioning.

“Something indeed!” he returned dryly. “But be kind to me, and let meforget my bogies for a little in hearing of all the good that you havedone and mean to do.... Tell me of your experiences at Kaiserswerkeamongst the Lutheran Deaconesses—tell me about your visit to theSisters of St. Vincent de Paul at the Hospital of the Charité, or yoursojourn with the dames religieuses of St. Augustine at the HôtelDieu. Or tell me about your ancient, super-annuated, used-governesses.I should like to know something of them, poor old souls!...”

“They are not all old,” she explained, “though many of them areused-up, and all, or nearly all, are incapable; and Bertham, with avery few exceptions, sensible and ladylike as most of them are, theyare so grossly ignorant of the elementary principles of educationthat one wonders how the poor pretense of teaching was kept up atall? And how it was that common honesty did not lead them to take[Pg 133]service as housemaids? and how the parents of their pupils—Heaven helpthem!—could have been blind enough to confide the training of theirchildren to such feeble, incompetent hands?”

“It is a crying evil,” said Bertham, “or, rather, a whimpering one, andneeds to be dealt with. One day we will change all that.... As to thesesick and sorrowful women, the generation that will rise up to taketheir places will be qualified, I hope, to teach, by having learned;and the quality of their teaching will, I hope again, be guaranteed bya University diploma. And, superior knowledge having ceased to meanthe temporary possession of the lesson-book, children will learn totreat their teachers with respect, and we shall hear fewer tales of thedespised governess.”

She returned, glancing at Bertham’s handsome, resolute face, and notingthe many fine lines beginning to draw themselves about the corners ofthe eyes and mouth, the worn hollows of the temples and cheekbones, andthe deepening caves from which the brilliant eyes looked out in scorn,or irony, or appealing, ingratiating gentleness.

“All governesses are not despised or despicable. There are manyinstances, Robert, where the integrity and conscientiousness of thepoor dependent gentlewoman has held up a standard of conduct for thepupil, well or ill taught, to follow which has borne good fruit inafter-years. We have a worthy lady here, a governess long residentin Paris, against whose exquisite French I polish up my own when Ihave time—a rather scarce commodity in this house!... Miss CarolineSmithwick has been cast on the mercy of the world in her old age, aftermany years of faithful service, because she dared tell her wealthyemployer that a claim he pursued and pressed was dishonest and base.The man’s son thinks with her, and has chosen to be poor rather thanprofit by riches—and, I gather, rank—so gained. It is a wholesomestory,” she said, “and when he told me to-day of his intention tosupport the gentle old soul who was so true to him, out of his pay asan officer of the French Army,—I could have clapped my hands and criedaloud—but I did not,—for the Superintendent of a Governesses’ Homemust be, above all, discreet;—‘Bravo, M. Hector Dunoisse!’

“‘Dunoisse, Dunoisse’?” He turned the name upon[Pg 134] his tongue severaltimes over, as though its flavor were in some measure familiar to him.“Dunoisse.... Can it be a son of the dyed and painted and padded oldlion, with false claws and teeth and a name from the wigmaker’s, whowas Bonaparte’s aide at Marengo and cut a dashing figure atthe Tuileries in 1804? The Emperor created him Field-Marshal afterAusterlitz, and small blame to him!... He ran away with a BavarianPrincess after the Restoration—a Princess who happened to be aprofessed nun, and somewhere about 1828, when the son of their unionmay have been seven or eight years old,—when the Throne of St. Louiswas rocking under that cumbersome old wooden puppet Charles X.,—whenthe tricolor was on the point of breaking out at the top of everynational flagstaff in France,—when you got a whiff of violets from thebutton-hole of every Imperialist who passed you in the street,—whenthe Catholic religion was about to be once more deprived of Stateprotection and popular support, Marshal Dunoisse, swashbuckling oldBonapartist that he is, reclaimed the lady’s large dowry from herConvent, and with the aid of De Martignac, Head of the Ministry of thatdate, succeeded in getting it.”

“It is the son of the very man you describe,” she told him; “whovisited his old governess here to-day.”

Bertham shrugged his shoulders, and, leaning down, silently stroked thesleek cat, white-pawed and whiskered, and coated in Quaker gray, thatlay outstretched at ease upon the hearthrug. But his eyes were on thewoman’s face the while.

“So that was it!” she said, leaning back in the low fireside chairshe had taken when Bertham wheeled it forwards. Her musing eyes werefixed upon the red coals glowing in the old-world grate of polishedsteel. Perhaps the vivid face with the black eyes burning under theirlevel brows rose up before her; and it might have been that she heardDunoisse’s voice saying, through the purring of the cat upon thehearthrug and the subdued noises of the street:

May the hour that sees me spend a sou of that accursed money be anhour of shame for me, and bitterness and humiliation! And should evera day draw near that is to see me trick myself in dignities and honorsstolen by a charlatan’s device and assume a power to which I have no[Pg 135]more moral right than the meanest peasant of the State it rules—beforeits dawning I pray that I may die! and that those who come seeking aclod of mud to throw in the face of a Catholic State may find it lyingin a coffin!


She must have remembered the words, for she shivered a little, and whenBertham asked her: “Of what are you thinking?” she answered:

“Of young Mr. Dunoisse, and the struggle that is before him. He iscourageous.... He means so well.... He is so earnest and sincere andhigh-minded and generous.... But one cannot forget that he has not beentried, or that fiercer tests of his determination and endurance willcome as the years unfold, and——”

“He will—supposing him a man of flesh and blood like other men!” saidBertham—“find his resolution—if it be one?—put, very shortly, verythoroughly to the proof. For—the Berlin papers of last Wednesdaydeal voluminously with the subject, and the Paris papers of a laterdate have even condescended to dwell upon it at some length—hisgrandfather, the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz, who practically hasbeen dead for years, is at last dead enough for burying; and thequestion of Succession having cropped up, it may occur to the Catholicsubjects of the Principality that they would prefer a CatholicPrince—even with a bar-sinister, badly erased, upon his ’scutcheon—tobeing governed by a Lutheran Regent. And that is all I know at present.”

“It is a curious, almost a romantic story,” she said, with her graveeyes upon the glowing fire, and a long, fine, slender hand propping hercheek, “that provokes one to wonder how it will end?”

“It will end, dear Ada,” smiled Bertham, “in this young fellow’sputting his Quixotic scruples in his pocket, taking the goods thegods have sent him—with the Hereditary diadem, when it is offered ona cushion!—marrying some blonde Princess-cousin, with the requisitenumber of armorial quarterings; and providing,—in the shortestpossible[Pg 136] time, the largest possible number of legitimate heirs to thethrone. I lay no claim to the prophetic gift; but I do possess someknowledge of my fellow-men. And—if your prejudice against gaming doesnot preclude a bet, I will wager you a pair of gloves, or half a dozenpairs, against the daguerreotype of you that Mary and I are alwaysbegging for and never get;—that M. Dunoisse’s scruples and objectionswill be overcome in the long-run, and that the whole thing will end asI have prophesied.”

She listened with a little fold between her eyebrows, and herthoughtful eyes upon the speaker’s face.

“I fear you may be right. But I shall be glad if you prove wrong,Bertham. One thinks how bravely he has borne the pinch of poverty, andthe dearth of the pleasantnesses and luxuries that mean so much toyoung men of his age——”

“‘Of his age?’.... You talk as though you were a sere and witheredspinster, separated from the world of young men and young women by averitable gulf of years!” cried Bertham, vexed.

She did not hear. She was looking at the fire, leaning forwards inher low chair with her beautiful head pensively bent, and her slenderstrong hands clasped about the knee that was a little lifted by theresting of one fine arched foot—as beautiful in its stocking ofQuakerish gray and its plain, unbuckled leather slipper as thoughit had been covered with silk, and shod with embroidered kid orvelvet—upon the high steel fender.

“One would like to be near him sometimes unseen—in one of thosemoments of temptation that will come to him—temptations to be false tohis vow, and take the price of dishonor, for the devil will fight hard,Bertham, for that man’s soul! Just to be able to give a pull here, ora push in that direction, according as circumstances seek to mold orsway him, to say ‘Do this!’ or ‘Do not do that!’ at thecrucial moment, would be worth while!...”

“‘Faith, my dear Ada,” Bertham said lightly, “the rôle ofguardian angel is one you were cut out for, and suits you very well.But be content, one begs of you, to play it nearer home!... I know aworthy young man, at present in a situation in a large business-houseat Westminster, who would very much benefit by a push here and[Pg 137] a pullthere from a hand invisible or visible—visible preferred! And to betold ‘Do this!’ or ‘Don’t do that!’ in a moment of doubt or at a crisisof indecision, would spare the Member for West Wealdshire a great manysleepless nights.”

They laughed together; then she said, with the rose-flush fading outof her pale cheeks and the light of merriment in her blue-gray eyessubdued again to clear soft radiance:

“I do not like those sleepless nights. Can nothing be done for them?”

“They are my only chance,” he answered, “of gaining any acquaintancewith the works of modern novelists.”

“You do not take Sir Walter Scott, or Mr. Thackeray, or Mr. Dickens, orthe author of Jane Eyre, as sleeping-draughts?”

“No,” returned Bertham, “for the credit of my good taste. But thereare others whose works Cleopatra might have called for instead ofmandragora. As regards the newspapers, if it be not exactly agreeableor encouraging to know exactly how far Misrepresentation can go withoutbeing absolute Mendacity—it is salutary and wholesome, I suppose, tobe told when one has fallen short of winning even appreciation forone’s honest endeavor to do one’s duty—or what one conceives to beone’s duty—tolerably well?”

He rose, pushing his chair aside, and took a turn in the room thatcarried him to the window.

“One has made mistakes,” he said, keeping his face turned from hersoft kind look; “but so have other fellows, without being pilloriedand pelted for them! And two years back, when the office of SecretaryAt War seemed to have been created for the purpose of affording HisGrace the Secretary For War and other high officials, unlimitedopportunities of pulling down what the first-named had built up, andof building up what he, with hopes of doing good, had pulled down, thepelting bruised. But—Jove! if that part of my life were mine to liveall over again, with Experience added to my youthful enthusiasms, Imight reasonably hope to achieve much! Happy you”—he came and stoodbeside her chair, looking down at the calm profile and plainly-parted,faintly-rippling brown hair with a certain wistfulness—“most happy areyou, dear Ada, who have so nobly fulfilled the high promise[Pg 138] of yourgirlhood, and have no need to join in useless regrets with me!”

She smiled, and lifted her warm, womanly hand to him, and said, as heenclosed it for a second in his own:

“Wrong leads and false ideals are the lot of all of us. And you wereof so much use in your high office, Robert, and wielded your power somuch for others’ good; you strive so chivalrously now, in thankless,unpopular causes; you make your duty so paramount above your ambitionin all things,—that I am tempted to paraphrase your words to me, andtell you that you have gloriously contradicted the promise of your Etonboyhood, when everything that was not Football, or Boating, or Cricket,was ‘bad form.’”

“To my cousin de Moulny’s annoyance and disgust unspeakable,” hereturned, with a lighter tone and a lighter look, though he had glowedand kindled at the praise from her. “I did indulge—at those periodswhen he was staying at Wraye Abbey—in a good deal of that sort ofbosh. But—quite wrongly, I dare say!—he seemed to me a high-falutin’,pompous young French donkey; and it became a point of importance notto lose an opportunity of taking him down. By the way, I heard fromhim quite lately. He gave up the idea of entering the Roman Catholicpriesthood after some clash or collision with the Rules of the FathersDirectors, and is now an Under-Secretary at the Ministry for ForeignAffairs.”

“He should have a notable career before him!” she commented.

“The Legitimist Party, at this present juncture, possess not onefeatherweight in the scale of popularity or influence. France is on theeve,” said Bertham, “or so it seems to me, of shedding her skin, andwhether the new one will be of one color or of Three, White it will notbe; I’ll bet my hat on that! So possibly it may be fortunate for deMoulny that the harness he pulls in has an Imperial Crown upon it. Ineed hardly say a pretty hand is upon the reins.”

Her laugh made soft music in the cosy, homely parlor, and amusementdanced on her sweet firelit eyes....

“Whose is the hand?”

“It appertains, physically, to a certain Comtesse de Roux, and legallyto a purple-haired, fiercely-whiskered,[Pg 139] fiery-featured Colonel Comtede Roux—by whose original creation Comte is a little uncertain—but abrave and distinguished officer, commanding the 999th of the Line.”

She said, with a memory stirring in her face:

“That is the regiment—according to his old governess, for he did nottell me—to which M. Hector Dunoisse is attached.”

Bertham might not have heard. He said:

“I regret not having met Madame de Roux. One would like to see deMoulny’s reigning goddess.”

“She is most beautiful in person and countenance. Your term of‘goddess’ is not inappropriate. She walks as though on clouds.”

Her ungrudging admiration of another woman’s beauty was a trait in herthat always pleased him.

“Where did you meet?”

“I saw her in Paris a twelvemonth back, on the steps that lead to thevestibule of the Théâtre Française, one night when Rachel was to playin ‘Phédre.’”

“I thought you had forsworn all public entertainments, theatersincluded?”

“If I had I should not have endangered my oath by seeing Madame de Rouxpass from her carriage and walk up the steps leading to the vestibule.”

“You were not in the streets of Paris alone, and on foot, at night?”

She answered simply, looking directly at him:

“I was in the Paris streets that evening, on foot, certainly, but notalone. Sister Saint Bernard was with me.”

“Who is Sister Saint Bernard?”

“She is a nun of the Order of St. Vincent de Paul. You know, thenursing-community. I stayed some time with them at their Conventat Paris, studying their good, wise, enlightened methods, visitingtheir hospitals with them, helping to tend their sick. We werereturning with a patient that night I saw Madame de Roux. It was acase of brain-fever, a young girl, an attendant at one of the gaudy,disreputable restaurants of the Palais-Royal, delirious and desperatelyill. No conveyance could be got to take her to the Charité; theSisters’ van was otherwise engaged. We hired a vegetable-truck from astreet fruit-seller, on the understanding that it should be whitewashedbefore being returned to him, wrapped the poor[Pg 140] girl in blankets, andwheeled her to the Hospital ourselves.”

“By—George!” said Bertham softly and distinctly. His forehead wasthunderous, and his lips were compressed. She went on as though she hadnot heard:

“And so, as we went through the Rue de Richelieu, and Sister SaintBernard and I, and the truck, were passing the Théâtre Français, intowhich all fashionable Paris was crowding to see the great actressplay ‘Phédre,’ a beautiful woman alighted from a carriage and wentin, leaning on the arm of a stout short man in uniform, with somedecorations.... I pointed his companion out to Sister Saint Bernard.‘Tiens,’ she said, ‘voilà Madame la Comtesse de Roux. Unegrande dame de par le monde.’ And that is how I came to know M. deMoulny’s enchantress by sight.... I wonder whether M. Dunoisse has mether?”

“It is more than probable, seeing that the lady is his Colonel’swife. And,” said Bertham, “if he has not yet had the honor of beingpresented, he will enjoy it very soon. A Hereditary Prince of Widinitzis a personage, even out of Bavaria. And whether the son of thePrincess Marie Bathilde and old Nap’s aide-de-camp likes histitle, or whether he does not, it is his birthright, like the tail ofthe dog. He can’t get away from that!”

“He does look,” said Ada Merling, with a smile, “a little like what aschoolgirl’s ideal of a Prince would be.”

“Àpropos of that, a Prince who is not in the least like a schoolgirl’sideal of the character dines with us at Wraye House on Tuesday. TheStratclyffes are coming, and the French Ambassador, with Madame deBerny.”

He added, naming the all-powerful Secretary for Foreign Affairs, with alightness and indifference that were overdone:

“And Lord Walmerston.”

“Lord Walmerston!...”

Her look was one of surprise, changing to doubtful comprehension. Hedid not meet it. He was saying:

“It was his wish to come. His friendship for Mary dates from herschoolroom-days, and she cherishes the old loyal affection for herfather’s friend in one of her heart’s warmest corners. He is charmingto her, always ... and I have hopes of his weight in the balance formy Improved Married Quarters; and he really sees the advantage[Pg 141] ofthe Regimental Schools.... But it is not to bore you with shop that Ipropose you should make one of us at dinner!” His voice was coaxing.“Do! and give Mary and me a happy evening!”

She shook her head with decision, though regret was in her face.

“I cannot leave my post. Remember, this is not only a Home.... Itis also a Hospital. And what it pleases me to call my Staff”—shesmiled—“are not experienced. They are willing and earnest, but theymust be constantly supervised. And their training for this, thenoblest profession that is open to women—as noble as any, were womenequally free to follow all—is not the least of my responsibilities.We have lectures and classes here for their instruction in elementaryanatomy, surgical dressing and bandaging, sanitation, the proper useof the thermometer and temperature-chart, and so on, almost daily.Mr. Alnwright and Professor Tayleur”—she named a famous surgeon anda celebrated physiologist—“are good enough to give their services,gratuitously; and I must be present at all times to assist them intheir demonstrations. So you will understand, there is more to do herethan you would have supposed.”

“Good gracious!” rejoined Bertham; “I should say so! And your bandof trained attendants who are to supersede—and may it be soon!—thegin-sodden harridans and smiling, civil Incompetents who add to thediscomforts and miseries of sickness, and lend to Death anotherterror—are they—— I suppose some of them are ladies?”

“The ideal nurse ought to be a lady,” she answered him, “in the truesense of the word. Many of these girls are well born and well bred, ifthat is—and of course it is—the meaning of your question. Some ofthem are frivolous and selfish and untrustworthy, and these must beweeded out. But the majority are earnest, honest, and sincere; and manyof them are noble and high-minded, unselfish, devoted, and brave....”

There was a stately print of the Sistine Madonna of Raffaelle hangingabove the fireplace. She lifted her face to the pure, spotlesswomanhood of the Face that looked out from the frame, and said:

“I try to keep up with these last-named ones, though often they put meto the blush.”

[Pg 142]

“You put to the blush! Don’t tell me that!” He spoke and lookedincredulously.

“They have to learn to save their strength of mind and body, and notput out too much, even in the Christ-blessed service of the sick andsuffering,” she said, “lest they should find themselves bankrupt, withno power of giving more. And sometimes the more ardent among themrebel against my rules, which enforce regular exercise, observanceof precautions for the preservation of their own health, even therelaxation and amusement which should break the monotony of routine;and then I long to kiss them, Robert, even when I am most severe!”

There were tears in the man’s bright eyes as he looked at her. Her owneyes were on the Raffaelle print; she had forgotten him.

“What I should like best would be to endure long enough to seethem outstripping and outdoing the poor example of their humblefellow-student and teacher, developing nursing as a higher Art, andspreading the knowledge of the proper treatment of the sick, until notone of the poorest and the roughest women of what we are content tocall the Lower Classes, shall be destitute of some smattering of theknowledge that will save the lives of those she loves best in bittertime of need.”

Her face was rapt. She went on in a clear, low, even tone: “I shouldlike to live to be very old, so old that I was quite forgotten, and sitquietly in some pleasant corner of a peaceful English home seeing themovement grow. For it will grow, and spread and increase, Robert, untilit reaches every corner of the world! And to that end every penny thatI possess; every ounce of strength that is mine; every drop of blood inmy veins, would be cheerfully spent and given.... Do I say would?...Will be! if it please God!” Her eyes left the picture and went toBertham’s absorbed face. “I have been holding forth at mercilesslength, have I not?” she said. “But you and I, with Mary, constitute aMutual Society for the Talking-Over of Plans; and, though I sometimestax your patience, I am always ready to lend ear. As for your dinner,it is a delightful temptation which I must resist. Beg Mary to tell meall about it afterwards!”

“Your would-be host and hostess will not be the only disappointedones,” Bertham said, and rose as though to[Pg 143] take leave. “LordWalmerston is one of your admirers, and”—there was a gleam of mischiefin the hazel eyes—“Prince Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte was urgent for anopportunity of meeting you again.”

“Indeed! I am very much honored.” Her calm eyes and composed face toldnothing. But her tone had a clear frosty ring of something colder thanmere indifference, and the curve of her lips was a little ironical.Seeing that touch of scorn, the twinkle in Bertham’s eyes became moremischievous. He said:

“The Prince’s lucky star might shine on such a meeting, Ada. Abeautiful, wealthy, and wise Princess would be the making of the man.”

That man!” she said, and a shudder rippled through her slightbody, and her calm, unruffled forehead lost its smoothness in a frownof repulsion and disgust. She rose as though escaping from actualphysical contact with some repellent personality suddenly presentedbefore her, and stood beside Bertham on the hearthrug, as tall as he,and with the same look of high-bred elegance and distinction thatcharacterized and marked out her companion. The spark of mischiefstill danced in his bright eyes. His handsome mouth twitched with thelaughter he repressed as he said:

“So you do not covet the Crown Imperial of France, and tame eagles donot please you? Yet the opportunities an Empress enjoys for doing goodmust be practically unrivaled.”

Her blue-gray eyes were disdainful now. She said:

“The position of a plain gentlewoman is surely more enviable andhonorable than would be hers who should share the throne of a crownedand sceptered adventurer.”

Said Bertham:

“You do not call the First Napoleon that?”

“There was a terrible grandeur,” she returned, “about thatbloodstained, unrelenting, icy, ambitious despot; a halo of old, greatmartial deeds surrounds his name that blinds the eyes to his rapacityand meanness, his selfishness, sensuality, and greed. But this son ofHortense! this nephew, if he be a nephew?—this charlatan trailing inthe mire the sumptuous rags of the Imperial purple; this gentlemanly,silken-mannered creature, with phrases of ingratiating flattery uponhis tongue, and hatred glimmering[Pg 144] between the half-drawn blinds ofthose sick, sluggish eyes.... God grant, for England’s sake, that hemay never mount the throne of St. Louis!”

“Ah! Ada—Ada!” Bertham said again, and laughed, awkwardly for onewhose mirth was so melodious and graceful as a rule. For the littledinner at Wraye House, at which the Secretary for Foreign Affairsand the French Ambassador were to meet the Pretender to the ImperialThrone of France, was really a diplomatic meeting of somewhat seriouspolitical importance, in view of certain changes and upheavals takingplace in that restless country on the other side of the Channel, anddivers signs and tokens, indicative to an experienced eye that theWhite Flag, for eighteen years displayed above the Central Pavilion ofthe Palace of the Tuileries, might shortly be expected to come down.


However, being a skillful diplomat, Bertham gave no sign: though LordWalmerston, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and the Pretender to theThrone-Imperial of France, were to spend in the Persian smoking-roomover the ground-floor billiard-room of Wraye House—a half-hour thatwould change every card in the poor hand held by that last-namedgamester to a trump.

“Who is good enough for you, Ada?” he said, with his hazel glancesoftening as he turned it upon her, and sincerity in his sweet, courtlytones. “No one I ever met!”

Her rare and lovely smile illuminated her.

“Has it never struck you, Robert, how curious it is that the demandfor entire possession of a woman’s hand, fortune and person, shouldinvariably be prefaced by the candid statement that the suitor is notgood enough to tie her shoes? As for being good enough for me, any manwould be, provided he were honest, sincere, chivalrous in word anddeed——”

“And not the present Head of the House of Bonaparte?” ended Bertham.

“You are right,” she said quickly. “Were I compelled[Pg 145] to make choicebetween them, I should infinitely prefer the butcher!”

“‘The butcher!’” Bertham’s face of utter consternation mingledwith incredulity drew her laugh from her. And it was so round andsweet and mellow that the crystal lusters of the Sèvres and ormolucandlesticks upon the mantel-shelf rang a little tinkling echo when ithad stopped.

“The butcher who supplies us here,” she explained.

Bertham said, speaking between his teeth and with the knuckles showingwhite in the strong slender hand he clenched and shook at an imaginaryvendor of chops and sirloins:

“What consummate and confounded insolence!”

“No, no!” she cried, for his tall, slight, athletic figure was stridingup and down the little parlor, and the fierce grind of his heel eachtime he turned within the limit of the hearthrug threatened the cat’srepose. “You shall not fume, and say hard things of him! He knowsnothing of me except that I am the matron here. And he thinks that Ishould be better off in the sitting-room behind his shop in OxfordStreet, keeping his books of accounts and ‘ordering any nice littledelicate joint’ I ‘happened to fancy for dinner....’ And possibly Ishould be better off, from his point of view?”

Bertham’s heel came sharply down upon the hearthrug. The outraged catrent the air with a feline squall, and sought refuge under the sofa.

“Come out, Mr. Bright!” coaxed his mistress, kneeling by the injuredone’s retreat. “He is very sorry! He didn’t mean it! He will never doit again!” She added, rising, with Mr. Bright, already soothed andpurring, in her arms, “And he is going away now, regretful as we are tohave to send him. For it is my night on duty, Robert, and I must rest.”

“You will always send me away,” said he, “when you choose. And I shallalways come back again, until you show me that I am not wanted.”

“That will be never, dear friend!”

She gave him her true, pure hand, and he stooped and left a reverentkiss upon it, and said, as he lifted a brighter face:

“Do you remember three years ago, before you went to[Pg 146]Kaiserswerke—when you sent me away, and forbade me to come back untilI had sought and found my Fate in Mary?”

“A beautiful and loving Fate, dear Robert.”

“She is, God bless her!” he answered, with a warm flush upon his faceand a thrill of tenderness in the charming voice that so many men andwomen loved him for.

She went with him into the hall then, and said as he threw on his longdark cloak lined with Russian sables:

“Those Berlin and Paris papers of Wednesday last.... It would interestme to glance through them in a spare moment, if you did not object tolend?”

“One of my ‘liveried menials with buttons on his crests,’ as adenunciatory Chartist orator put it the other day—shall bring them toyou within half an hour. I wish you had asked me for something lesseasy to give you, Ada!”

She answered with her gentle eyes on his, as her hand drew back thelatch of the hall door:

“Give me assurance you will never help to forge the link that shallunite Great Britain’s interests with her enemy’s.”

“Why, that of course!” He answered without heartiness, and his eyes didnot meet hers. “I am not the master blacksmith, dear Ada. There areother hands more cunning in the welding-craft than mine!”

He bent his handsome head to her and threw on his hat and passed outinto the rimy February fog. But he walked slowly, pondering as hewent, and his face wore a moody frown. For Lord Walmerston’s influenceand weight upon that pressing question, separate accommodation formarried soldiers, and Military Schools for the men and their wives andchildren, was not to be had for nothing, he well knew....

She shut the door, and then the tea-bell rang, and she passed on tothe dining-room, and took her place before the capacious tray at thematron’s end of the long, plainly-appointed, wholesomely-furnishedtable.

She had declined to dine in the society of a Prince because she doubtedhis motives and disapproved of his character. She played the hostessnow to her staff of nurses and probationers, dispensing the householdtea from the stout family teapot with a liberal hand, and leading theconversation with a gentle grace and an infectious[Pg 147] gayety that drewsparks from the homeliest minds about the board and made bright witsshine brighter.

The Berlin and Paris papers came by Bertham’s servant as she went toher room to prepare, by some hours of rest, for the night-watch bya dying patient. She gave half-an hour of the time to reading thearticles and paragraphs Bertham had considerately marked in red ink forher.

When she set about preparing for repose came a gentle knock ather door, and in answer to her soft “Come in!” the gray-haired,olive-skinned, pleasant-faced woman, who had admitted Dunoisse andshown him out again, appeared, saying:

“You never rang, Miss Ada, love, but I made bold to come.”... She addedin tones of dismay, “And to find you brushing your beautiful hairyourself when your old Husnuggle’s in the house and asking nothingbetter than to do it for you!...”

“Thank you, dear!” She surrendered the brush, and sat down andsubmitted to the deft hands that set about their accustomed task, asthough it were soothing to be so ministered to. Even as she said: “Forthis once, kind Husnuggle, but you must not do it again!”

“Don’t say that, Miss Ada! when night’s the only time of all thelivelong day that I get my Wraye Rest talk with you.”

Entreated thus, she reached up a hand and patted the plump matronlycheek of the good soul, and said, with soft, considerate gentleness:

“Let it be so, since it will make you happy. But those who have chosenfor their life’s task the duty of serving others should do withoutservice themselves. Try to understand!”

The woman kissed the hand with a fervor contrasting incongruously withher staid demeanor and homely simple face, as she answered:

“I’ll try, my dear. Though to see you in this bare, plainly-furnishedroom, with scarce a bit of comfort in it beyond the fire in the grate,and not a stick of furniture beyond the bed and the wardrobe, andwashstand and bath, and the chintz-covered armchair you’re sittingin, and a bookshelf of grave books, scalds my heart—that it do! Andyour sitting-room nigh as skimping. When either at Wraye Rest or atOakenwode, or at the house in[Pg 148] Park Lane, you have everything beautifulabout you, as you ought; with paintings and statues and music, andcarpets like velvet for you to tread upon, and flowers everywhere foryou that love them so to take pleasure in them, and your dogs andhorses, and cats and birds!... Eh! deary me! But I promised I’d neverbreathe a murmur, not if you let me come, and here I am forgetting!....”

“We will overlook it this time. And I will help you to understand whyI am happier here, and more at peace than at Wraye or Oakenwode, orat the Park Lane house, dear to me as all three are. It is because,wherever I am, and whether I am walking or sleeping, I seem to hearvoices that call to me for help. Chiefly the voices of women, weak,and faint, and imploring.... And they appeal to me, not because I amany wiser, or better, or stronger than others of my sex, but becauseI am able, through circumstances,—and have the wish and the will toaid them, I humbly believe, from God! And if I stayed at home andyielded to the desire for pleasant, easy, delightful ways of living,and bathed my eyes and ears in lovely sights and sounds, I should hearthose voices over all, and see with the eyes of my mind the pale, wan,wistful faces that belong to them. And I should know no peace!... Buthere, even if the work I do be insignificant and ineffective, I amworking for and with my poor sisters, sick and well. And on the daywhen I turn back and leave my plow in the furrow, then those voiceswill have a right to cry to me without ceasing: ‘Oh, woman! why haveyou deserted us?—you who might have done so much!’”

She ceased, but the rush and thrill of the words as they had comepouring from her, vibrated yet on the quiet atmosphere of the room.

“You had a pleasant talk, Miss Ada, with Master Robert?” the womanasked her, turning down the snowy sheet from the pillows, and preparingto leave the room.

“A long, grave talk, Husnuggle, even a little sad in places, butpleasant nevertheless. Now go down to supper, for it is eight o’clock.”

Husnuggle went, having bound up the wealth of hair into a great silkentwist, and her mistress knelt at a prie-Dieu beneath an ebonyand olive-wood crucifix that hung upon the wall, and said her prayers,and sought her rest.[Pg 149] When she slept, less easily and less soundlythan usual, she dreamed; and the figure and face of the slight,ruddy-skinned, black-eyed man who had visited the Hospice that day,moved with others across the stage of her vision, and his voice echoedwith other voices in the chambers of her sleeping brain.

The Havre packet had not sailed that evening, by reason of a boisterousgale and a great sea, and Dunoisse was spending the evening dismallyenough at the T. R. Southampton, where “As you Like It” was beinggiven for the benefit of Miss Arabella Smallsopp, advertised as of the“principal London theaters,” upon the last night of a Stock Seasonwhich had been “a supreme artistic success.”

Mr. Hawkington Bulph and a Full Company—which collectively andindividually looked anything but that,—supported the star; and tothe fatal sprightliness of the hapless Smallsopp, disguised as theimmortal page, in a lace collar, drop-earrings, and a short greencotton-velvet ulster, dadoed with catskin, and adorned down the frontwith rows of brass buttons not distantly resembling coffin-nails (wornin combination with a Spanish hair-comb and yellow leather top-boots),must be ascribed the violent distaste which one member of the audiencedid then and there conceive for England’s immortal Bard. But ere longhis attention strayed from the dingy, ill-lit Forest Scene, witha cork-and-quill nightingale warbling away in the flies, as MissSmallsopp interpolated the pleasing ditty, “O Sing Again, Sweet Bird ofEve!” and he ceased to see the dirty boards, where underpaid, underfed,and illiterate actors gesticulated and strutted, and he went back inthought to Ada Merling, and her pure earnest face rose up before hismental vision, and the very sound of her crystal voice was in his ears.

Even as in her troubled dreams, she saw Hector Dunoisse standing beforeher, with that swift play of his emotions vividly passing in his face;and heard him passionately saying that the hour that saw him broachthose tainted stored-up thousands should be for him an hour of brandingshame; and that he prayed the dawning of the day that should break uponhis completed barter of Honor[Pg 150] for Wealth, and Rank and Power, mightfind him lying in his coffin.

And then he yielded—or so it seemed to her, and took the shiningmoney, and the princely diadem offered him by smooth strangers withpersuasive courtly voices, and she saw the fateful gold scatteredfrom his reckless hands like yellow dust of pollen from the ripemimosa-bloom when the thorny trees are bowed and shaken by the gustywinds of Spring.

And then she saw him going to his Coronation, and no nobler or morestately figure moved onwards in the solemn procession of Powers andDignities, accompanying him through laurel-arched and flower-wreathedand flag-bedecked streets to the Cathedral, where vested and coped andmitered prelates waited to anoint and crown him Prince. And where,amidst the solemn strains of the great organ, the chanting of manyvoices, and the pealing of silver trumpets, the ceremony had nearlyreached its stately close, when the jeweled circlet that should havecrowned his temples slipped from the aged Archbishop’s venerable,trembling hands and rolled upon the inlaid pavement, shedding diamondsand pearls like dewdrops or tears.... And then she saw him lying,amidst wreaths of flowers and tall burning tapers, in a black-drapedcoffin in the black-hung nave. And a tall man and a beautiful womanleaned over the death-white face with the sealed, sunk eyes, smilinglustfully in each other’s. And she awakened at the chime of her silverclock in her quiet room; and it was dark, and the lamp-lighter waskindling the street-lamps, and she must rise and prepare for hernight’s vigil.

It taxed her, for her dream-fraught sleep had not refreshed. But sheministered to her fevered, pain-racked patient with gentle unwearyingpatience and swift, noiseless tenderness, through the hours that movedin slow procession on to the throning of another day....

Her patient slept at last, and woke as the dawn was breaking, and thewatcher refreshed the parched lips with tea, and stirred the banked-upfire to a bright flame, and went to the window and drew up the blinds.

Drab London was mantled white with snow that had fallen in thenight-time. And above her roofs and chimneys, wrapped in swansdownmantles, glittering with[Pg 151] icicles, the dawn came up all livid andwild and bloody, with tattered banners streaming through the shininglances of a blizzard from the East that shook the window-panes likea desperate charge of cavalry, and screamed as wounded horses do,frenzied with pain and terror amidst the sounds and sights of dreadfulWar.


Between Dullingstoke Junction and the village town of Market Drowsingin Sloughshire, lay some ten miles of hard, level highway, engineeredand made in the stark days of old by stalwart Romans who, ignorantof steamrollers and road-engines as they were, knew as little of themeaning of the word Impossibility.

One of those ancient road-making warriors might have approved the fineheight and shapely form of a soldier who marched at ease along thehighway, wearing, with a smart and gallant air, the blue, white-facedfull-dress uniform of a trooper in Her Majesty’s Hundredth Regiment ofLancers, without the sword, and the plumed head-dress of blue cloth andshiny black leather, which a forage-cap—of the muffin pattern morerecently approved by Government—replaced.

He walked at a brisk marching pace, and, in spite of the tightness ofhis clothes, broke into a run at times to quicken his circulation.For, though greatcoats were supplied at the public expense to GreatBritain’s martial sons; so many penalties, pains, and stoppagesattended on the slightest damage to the sacred garment, that in ninecases out of ten the soldier of the era preferred to go without.Therefore the short tight coatee of blue cloth, with the white plastronand facings, being inadequate to keep out the piercing cold of thefrosty February day, this soldier beat his elbows against his sides,as he ran, and thumped his arms upon a broad chest needing no padding.But even as he did this he whistled a cheery tune, and his bright eyeslooked ahead as though something pleasant lay waiting at the end of thebleak, cold journey from the military depôt town of Spurham, thirtymiles away; and the handsome mouth under the soldierly mustache, that[Pg 152]was, like its owner’s abundant curly hair, of strong, dark red, andcurled up on either side towards such a pair of side-whiskers as fewwomen, at that hirsute period, could look upon unmoved—wore a smilethat was very pleasant.

“It’s not a pretty view!” he said aloud, breaking off in the middleof “Vilikins and his Dinah” to criticise the landscape. “A man wouldneed have queer taste to call it even cheerful, particularly in thewinter-time! and yet I wouldn’t swop it for the Bay o’ Naples, with avolcano spurting fire, and dancing villagers a-banging tambourines—oranything else you could offer me out of a Panorama. For why, damme if Iknow!”

Perhaps the simple reason was that this homely spread of wood and fieldand fallow stretching away into the hazy distance, its trees stillleafy in the sheltered hollows, bare where the fierce winds of winterhad wreaked their bitter will, had been familiar to the soldier fromhis earliest years. Upon his left hand, uplands whereon the plow-teamswere already moving, climbed to a cold sky of speed-well-blue; andcouch-fires burned before the fanning wind, their slanting columns ofpungent-smelling smoke clinging to the brown furrows before they roseand thinned and vanished in the upper atmosphere. Sparrows, starlings,jackdaws, finches and rooks followed the traveling plowshare, settledin flocks or rose in bevies, their shrill cries mingling with thejingle of the harness or the crack of the plowman’s whip. And uponthe right hand of the man to whom these sights and sounds were dearand welcome, rolled the Drowse; often unseen; returning into visionthrough recurring gaps in hedges; glimpsed between breasting slopesof park-land, silently flowing through its deep muddy channel betweenimmemorial woods where England’s Alfred hunted the boar, speared thewolf, and slew the red deer.... Silvery-blue in Summer, turbidly brownin Autumn, in Winter leaden-gray, in Spring jade-green, as now: when,although the floods of February had in some degree abated, wide,shallow, ice-bordered pools remained upon the low-lying river-meadows,and rows of knee-deep willows, marking the course of unseen banks,lifted bristling hands to the chilly skies, while cornricks on theupper levels were so honeycombed with holes of rats that had abandonedtheir submerged dwellings, that in contemplation of them the trampingsoldier ceased to whistle,[Pg 153] and pushed along in silence for at least aquarter of a mile before his whistle, “Vilikins and his Dinah,” got theupper hand, and broke out again.

The popular melody was in full blast when the piercing screech of adistant train, accompanied by a clatter that grew upon the ear, stoppedshort, began again after a pause, and thinned out into silence; toldthe wayfarer that the London down-train had entered the junction he hadleft behind him, disembarked its load of passengers, and gone upon itsway.

And presently, with a rattle and clatter of iron-shod hoofs, and ajingle of silver-mounted harness, a scarlet mail-phaeton of the mostexpensive and showy description, attached to a pair of high-steppingshowy blacks, overtook the military pedestrian, bowled past; andsuddenly pulled up at the roadside, at an order from a burly,red-faced, turn-up-nosed, gray-haired and whiskered elderly man, toppedwith a low-crowned, curly-brimmed, shiny beaver, and enveloped in avast and shaggy greatcoat, who sat beside the smug-faced, liveriedgroom who drove, and whom you are to recognize as Thompson Jowell.

“Now then, Josh Horrotian, my fine fellow!” The great Contractor,being in a genial mood, was pleased to bend from his high pedestaland condescend, with this mere being of common clay, even to jesting.“How goes the world with you? And how far have you got, young man,on the road that ends in a crimson silk sash and a pair o’ gold-laceepaulettes?”

“Why, not yet so far, Mr. Jowell, sir,” returned the cavalryman withcheerful equanimity, “that I can show you even a Corporal’s stripe uponmy sleeve.”

“And damme! young Josh, you take it uncommonly coolly!” said ThompsonJowell, puffing out his large cheeks over the upturned collar of theshaggy coat, and frowning magisterially. “Where’s your proper pride,hey? Where’s your ambition? What’s become of your enthusiasm, andeagerness, and ardor for a British soldier’s glorious career? I’mashamed of you, Horrotian! What the devil do you mean?”

“You ask me three questions, Mr. Jowell, sir, that I can but answerin one way; and a fourth,” returned the red-haired trooper, lookingfrankly up out of a pair of very clear blue eyes at the largeface of disapproval bent upon him from the lofty altitude of themail-phaeton’s[Pg 154] front seat, “that I can’t answer in any way at all.”

“I hope I don’t understand you, Joshua Horrotian,” said Thompson Jowellloftily. “But go on, go on! Damn you, don’t fidget!” He addressedthis exhortation to the more restive of the champing blacks, who hadswitched his flowing tail over the reins, and was snorting with hisscarlet nostrils spread, and his wild eye cocked at the hedgerow, asthough to be detained upon the road to the home-stable for the purposeof conversing with a common soldier was a thing past bearing by ahigh-bred horse.

“Whoa!” said the driving groom.

“Whoa, then, my beauty! That curb be a link too tight, Mr. Jowell,”said Joshua Horrotian, betraying for the first time, by a lingeringsmack and twang of the broad local accent, that the county ofSloughshire might claim him as its son. “Shall I let it out a mite?He’ll stand like a rock then.”

Thompson Jowell nodded in answer, and the thing was done in a moment,and Horrotian back in his old place by the side-step, saying:

“You wanted to know just now, Mr. Jowell, where I’d left my properpride, and my enthusiasm and eagerness and ardor for a soldier’scareer? I’ve left ’em yonder, sir.” He lifted his riding-whip andpointed across country. “Over to the Cavalry Barracks at Spurham, whereOurs have been quartered best part o’ three years. With your leave,sir!”

He spat in a soldierly, leisurely way upon the sandy road, and hitchedhis pipeclayed pouch-belt, and shoved a finger of a white-gloved handwithin the edge of his sword-belt of gilt lace with a white stripe, andwent on speaking:

“It seems to me, sir, when I’ve casted round to think a bit—havingdone a bit o’ gardening for mother in old days when I wasn’t busyon the farm—that pride and enthusiasm and ardor and eagerness fora soldier’s career are like hardy plants that will grow and put outleaf and bloom even in a soil that’s as poor as ours at Upper Clays,if they’re but wedd a bit and the snails and slugs picked off of’em, and a drop o’ water given in drought, and hobnailed boots, andwheelbarrows, turned aside from crushing of ’em down!”

“Well, well, my man! Where does this bring us to?” demanded theautocrat of the cocked inquisitive nose, and[Pg 155] puffy cheeks, andgoggling, greedy eyes, from his lofty perch upon the front seat of thescarlet mail-phaeton.

“It brings us to this, Mr. Jowell,” said the trooper, with a foldcoming between his thick broad smear of dark red eyebrows, and anangered narrowing of the blue eyes that were so clear, “that if youwant a dog to respect himself, let alone his superiors, you’ll givehim a clean kennel to sleep in, and decent food to eat; and if he’s todo a dog’s work for you, you’ll not curse and bully him so as to breakand cow his spirit. Nay! and if you respect yourself, you’ll give him,whether he’s been a good dog or only a tolerable sort o’ one—somesort o’ nursing and care when he lies sick, if it’s only the roughestkind, before he kicks his last on his straw bed. Then throw him out onthe dung-heap if it’s your liking; he can’t feel it, poor brute! He bepast all that. But where’s the use of a Soldier’s Funeral with a FiringParty and a Bugler, if,—when the man was living, you branded hissoul with as many lines of anger and resentment and rage as there arestripes in the Union Jack, God bless it! that, him being dead, you layas a pall of honor on his coffin? That’s what I want to know!”

“You want to know too much for your rank and station, JoshHorrotian—that’s what you do!” said Thompson Jowell, frowningdispleasure upon him. “You’re one of the Malcontents, that’s whatyou are. If you were to tell me on your oath you weren’t, I wouldn’tbelieve you. I’ve met your breed before!”

“If you have, Mr. Jowell, my answer is that it’s not a bad breed,”retorted the trooper, with a hot flush and a bright direct look ofanger. “Without trying to use finer language than my little educationwarrants, it’s a breed that will fight to the death for Queen andCountry, and hold that man a damned and despicable cur that hangs backin the hour of England’s need. But when the same bad usage is metedout by the Authorities in Office to the willing and the unwilling, theworthless and the worthy, let me tell you, sir, a man loses heart.For Drill and Discipline and Confinement to Cells for defaulters,and Flogging for the obstropulous; with Ration Beef and cabbage, andsuet-balls, tight clothes and tight belts, and a leather stock thatsaws your ears off, can’t make a machine of a human being all through.There’s got to be a living spot of flesh left in him somewhere thatfeels and tingles and[Pg 156] smarts.... And the sooner the great gentlemenin authority find that out, the better for England and her Army,” saidJoshua Horrotian, with a straightforward, manly energy of voice andlook and gesture that would have gone far to convince, if the right manhad been there to hear him.

“Now, look you here, Trooper Joshua Horrotian,” said the wrong man,“it’s confounded lucky for you that these opinions of yours—and theprivate soldier with opinions is a man we don’t want in the Army andwould a great deal rather be without!—have been blown off to a personwho—having a regard for that decent woman your mother—who I’m notabove acknowledging, in a distant sort of way, as a relation of myown—isn’t likely to report them in quarters where they would breedtrouble for you, and maybe a taste of the Black Hole.” The speaker heldup a large fur-gloved hand as the trooper seemed about to speak. “Don’tyou try my patience, though! I’ve listened to you long enough....Discontented, that’s what you are! And Discontent leads to Murmuring,and Murmuring to Mutiny. And Mutiny to the Gallows—in your case I hopeit won’t!—but I shouldn’t be at all surprised if it did. So beware ofbeing discontented, Joshua!”

“I may be what you say, a grumbling soldier, though I don’t recognizemyself in the picture you draw of me,” returned the trooper; “but ifthe time came to prove whether I’d be willing to lay down my life forthe Old Shop, I’d be found as ready as any other man. And I have causefor discontent outside the Army, Mr. Jowell.” And the speaker squaredhis broad shoulders and drew himself to his full height, looking boldlyin the bullying eyes of the great man. “While I have been a-sogeringmy mother’s farm has been going to rack and ruin. Some little-knowingor ill-meaning person has advised her, Mr. Jowell, for these threeyears past, to turn down the low-lying gore meadow-lands of hers besidethe Drowse in clover and beans and vetch. Grazing cows is all they’regood for, being flooded regularly in November and February, and Aprilsextra-wet. And what with the cold, rainy summers we’ve had, and therainy, cold summer we may look to, sure my mother has suffered inpocket, and worse she will suffer yet! For if her having borrowed moneyon mortgage to throw after what has already been[Pg 157] lost beyond recall isgoing to bring her any good of—I’m a Dutchman!”

“Now, I’ll tell you what, Trooper Horrotian,” said Thompson Jowell,purple to the rim of his sporting parson’s hat with something morestinging than the bitter February wind, “I don’t pretend not to knowwhat you’re driving at, because Aboveboard is my name. If my distantrelation, Mrs. Sarah Horrotian, is pleased to drive over from MarketDrowsing sometimes on her egg-and-butter days, for the purpose ofasking advice from a man who, like myself, is accustomed to be lookedup to and consulted, supposing I happen to be at home at my littleplace”—which was a huge, ornate and showy country mansion, with agreat deal of avenue, shrubbery, glass, and experimental garden-groundabout it—“I am not the man to gainsay her, to gratify her long-leggedpuppy of a son.”

“I’m obliged to you, I’m sure!” said Josh, reddening to his red hair,and angrily gnawing, in his desire to restrain himself from incautiousspeech, the shiny black strap by which the idiotic little muffin-shapedforage-cap of German pattern approved by Government, was sustained in aperilously slanting position on the side of his head.

“My name being Plump and Plain,” said Thompson Jowell, once moreextracting the large fur-gloved hand from under the leather apronof the phaeton, “I’m damned if I care this snap of my fingers”—heclumsily snapped them—“whether you are obliged to me or whether youain’t! Is that clear to you?”

The groom who occupied the driving seat beside his master laughingdutifully at this, Thompson Jowell’s righteous indignation was somewhatappeased, as he proceeded:

“If the river flooded those gore-lands of your mother’s, and the rainyseason finished what the river began, I’m not the Clerk of the WeatherOffice, I suppose? Call Providence to account for the bad season,if you must blame somebody.... Though, if you do, and should happento be struck dead by lightning as a punishment for your wickedness,don’t expect Me to pity you, that’s all! Granted I gave a pound or sofor Sarah Horrotian’s mildewed clover and stinking beans, and barleythat had sprouted green in the ear, to burn for top-dressing; and lether have a bit of money at easy interest on her freehold[Pg 158] of UpperClays;—I suppose, as it’s her property, having been left her for hersole use and benefit by her father (who was an uncle of my own, anddon’t my admitting that prove to you how little proud I am?), she’sfree to borrow on it if it pleases her. You are not the master yet, mygood fellow!”

“And won’t be, please God!—for many a year to come!” said Mr. Jowell’sgood fellow, with unaffected sincerity. “Nor will be ever, Mr.Jowell, supposing my mother not able to pay off your interest. You’veforeclosed on too many of the small freeholders in this neighborhood,for me to believe that you’ll be more generous and mercifuller withyour poor relation, than you’ve been with them you’ve called your goodfriends!”

The groom who drove, forgetting himself so far as to chuckle at this,Thompson Jowell damned his impertinence with less of dignity and moreof flustered bumptiousness than an admirer of the great man’s wouldhave expected.

“And poor as my mother is, and hard as she has been put to it,” went onthe trooper, pursuing his sore subject, “if she had dreamed that thespoiled fodder she sold you for the price such unwholesome rubbish wasworth, was not to be burned for top-dressing, but dried in them kilnsthat are worked in another name than yours at Little Milding—and mixedwith decent stuff, and sold as first-class fare for Army horses, poorbeasts!—she’d have seen you at Jerusalem beyond the Jordan beforeshe’d ha’ parted with a barrow-load of the rot-gut stuff, or she’s notthe woman I take her for!”

“You insolent blackguard!” said Thompson Jowell, blowing at thespeaker, and swelling over the apron of the phaeton until the soundnessof its leather straps must have been severely tested. “You’ve heard ofthe Lock-up and Treadmill for proved defamers and slanderers, haven’tyou, in default of the damages such vermin are too poor to pay?”

“I’ve heard of lots o’ things since I joined the Army, Mr. ThompsonJowell,” retorted Joshua Horrotian, who had regained his coolness asthe other had lost self-command, “and I’ve seen a few more! I’ve seensuch things come out of the middle of Government hay-and-straw trussesas nobody, except the Contractor who sold and the Forage DepartmentAgents who took ’em over, and the[Pg 159] Quartermaster-Sergeant who served’em out, and the soldiers who got ’em, would expect to find there. Notonly cabbage-stumps and waste newspapers,” said Josh forcibly, “whichin moderation may be good for Cavalry troop-horses. But ragged flannelpetticoats, empty jam-tins, and an old hat with a litter o’ deadkittens inside of it, form too variegated and stimulating a diet toagree with anything under an ostrich; and I’m none too sure that suchwouldn’t be too much for the bird’s digestion in the long-run.”

The groom covered himself with disgrace at this juncture by explodingin a guffaw, which Thompson Jowell, mentally registering as to beexpiated next pay-day by a lowering of wages, loftily ignored. Herealized his own over-condescension in arguing with the worm that daredto lift up its head from the ground beneath his chariot-wheels, andargue with and denounce him. He changed his tone, now, and, instead ofbullying, pitied the crawling thing.

“You don’t understand what you’re talking about, Horrotian,” he saidpatronizingly, “and being a poor uneducated, common soldier, who’s tobe astonished at it? The British Government is too great and powerfuland glorious and grand a Power to trouble itself about rags andjam-tins, or a hatful of dead kittens, shoved for a joke inside a trussof Army forage by some drunken trooper. Possibly next time you’re inliquor, my man, you’ll remember that you put them there yourself? Asfor any person being unprincipled enough to sell sprouted grain andmildewed hay, mixed up with sound stuff, as you suggest some personsdo; what I say to you is that such people don’t exist, such wickednesscouldn’t be possible; and if you undertook to prove to me that it is—Ishouldn’t be convinced! And, further, understand this; and what I sayto you is what I said to an impudent, meddlesome whelp of a youngforeigner I met in the train t’other day betwixt Dullingstoke andWaterloo—the British Government will BE the British Government, inspite of all the fault-finding and grumbling of mutinous and impudentupstart Rankers or their betters! And the iron wheels of Administrationwill keep on a-rolling, and so sure as heads are lifted too high outof the dust that is their proper element, those iron wheels I speak ofwill[Pg 160] roll over ’em and mash ’em. Mash ’em, by Gosh! D’ye understandme?”

“Quite well, Mr. Jowell,” returned the other composedly. “But I’ve goodhopes of being able to roll or crawl or wriggle out of reach beforethose iron wheels you speak of roll my way. Mother having come roundat last, I’m to be bought out of the Army come next Michaelmas, havingserved with the Colors—I humbly hope without a single act that mightbe calculated to dishonor them, or soil the reputation of an honest manand a loyal soldier!—rising five years out of the twelve I ’listedfor; and, once being free, I mean to put my shoulder to the wheel inthe farming-line in good earnest; and leave the officer’s sash, and thepair o’ gold-lace epaulets you spoke of, hanging at the top of the treefor some other fellow fortunater than I have been, to reach down.”

“Go your way, ungrateful and obstinate young man,” said ThompsonJowell, sternly, expanding his cheeks to the rotundity of a tombstonecherub’s, and snorting reprehension. “I hope for your respectablemother’s sake it mayn’t end in ruin and disgrace, but—my name beingCandid—I shouldn’t wonder if it did!” He shook his pear-shaped headuntil he shook his hat over his goggle eyes, and so took it off, andblew his large cocked nose sonorously upon a vast silk handkerchief hewhisked out of the crown, adding: “I suppose you are on furlough, andwere bound for the Upper Clays when I overtook you marching along theQueen’s Highway with your riding-whip in your hand?”

“Why, a cane might be better, for a man on leave to carry,” returnedJoshua Horrotian, meditatively running his eye from the stout handleof the riding-whip to the strong lash at its tip. “But though I cameby the railway, I mean to go back by road. My Captain, being a richgentleman, and having a good opinion of my judgment in horseflesh”—hesaid this with a flush and sparkle of honest pride—“has bought myyoung horse—‘Blueberry’—for the troop. And I’m to ride him. He won’tlook so fat and shiny on the Government forage as he does on what hegets at home, but he’ll do credit to the Regiment yet, or I’m no judge.Good-afternoon, sir!”

He saluted and wheeled, setting his handsome face ahead, and ThompsonJowell, in surly accents, bade the[Pg 161] groom drive on. And as the spiritedblacks broke at once into a trot, carrying their owner from the sceneso rapidly that the spick-and-span mail-phaeton became behind theirlively heels a mere flying streak of scarlet, he directed towardsBlueberry and his owner the fervent aspiration: “And I hope yourbrute may come a downer when you’re charging in close order, and breakyour infernal neck for you!” But he did not utter the words aloud.


Meanwhile Josh Horrotian pursued his march, but without the cheerfulwhistling accompaniment, decapitating the more aggressive weeds andthistles growing by the roadside with such tremendous slashes of thestout riding-whip as to leave no doubt that he executed in imaginationcondign punishment upon certain individuals unnamed. Indeed, so fardid his annoyance carry him, that, disturbed beyond measure by theincessant chattering of the frosty wind amidst the crisp dry leavesof an elm-hedge he was passing, he bade the tameless element hold itsnoise, in what was for him a surly tone.

But, coming to a hog-backed stile, breaking the hedge and leading,by a narrow right-of-way over some clayey wheatlands, where thefirst faint green blush of the young corn lay in the more shelteredhollows, together with a powdering of fine unmelted snow, his bentbrows relaxed, and the shadow that darkened his handsome sunbrownedface vanished. He whistled again as he threw a long blue leg, with awhite stripe down the side of the tight trouser strapped down over thespurred Wellington boot, across the iron-bound log. For on the highbleak ridge of the sixty-acre upland, stood his mother’s farm, facingaway from him to the west; where the fall of the clay-lands upon theother side sloped to the deep and muddy Drowse, spanned by an ancientstone bridge that had rude carvings of tilting knights in plate-armor,upon some of the coping-stones of its parapet. The bridge crossed,a mile of country road dotted with farmhouses and cottages led tothe small and sleepy borough-town of Market Drowsing, in the shadowof whose square Anglo-Norman church-tower[Pg 162] many tall Horrotians hadmoldered into dust....

The sight of the low, irregular brown-and-red-tiled roof of the oldhome building, with its paled-in patch of garden at the southerngable-end, its great thatched barn sheltering it on the north side,and its rows of beehive-shaped ricks, each topped with a neatlyplaited ball of grass, tarred to resist weather and impaled upona wooden spike, warmed the man’s heart, not for the reason that asomewhat cheerless boyhood had been passed beneath those mossy-green,lichen-yellowed, old red tiles, but because they sheltered Nelly.

“I wonder if she sees me?” he questioned with himself, as the pathtook a curve and the great church-shaped barn reared up its gray andancient bulk between him and the homestead. “The little dairy-window atthe house-back—this being about the time o’ day she’s drawing off theskimmings for the pigs—ought, if so be as she’s on the look-out, tohave given her a view”—his smile broadened—“of the approaching enemy.”

Of course it had, long happy minutes back.... Even as the image of herrose smiling in his mind, she came running down the pathway straightinto his arms, and with the joyful shock and the warm contact of her,vexations fled away, and he snatched her, not at all objecting, to hisbeating heart, and they took a long, sweet kiss—rather an experiencedkiss, if one may say it, and more suggestive of the full-orbedsweetness of the honeymoon than of the wooing-time that goes before.

“Now, do ’e give over, Josh!” she said at last, and emerged all rosywith love and happiness from his strong embrace, and straightened herpink quilted sunbonnet, pouting a little. “Bain’t you ashamed?”

“I’d like to see myself!” declared Josh stoutly, and had another kissof her upon the strength of it, and then held her off at arm’s lengthfor a long, satisfying look.

She was very pretty, this Nelly, orphan daughter of a small freeholdfarmer named John Pover, who had borrowed money upon a mortgage fromthe great Thompson Jowell, and had, unhappy wretch, once the suckersof that greedy octopus were fairly fastened on him, been drained dryby means of extortionate interest, until he cut his throat—an absurdthing to do, seeing how little blood was[Pg 163] left in him—leaving hisfreehold, farm, and stock to be gulped down, and his girl to takeservice as dairymaid with that grim Samaritaness, Sarah Horrotian.

She had sweet, soft, shy, dark eyes, had Nelly, and a sweet round face,the tops of its rosy cheeks dusted with golden freckles. There weresome more on her little nose, a feature of no known order of facialarchitecture, but yet distracting to male wits, taken in conjunctionwith the rest; and a powdering of yet more freckles was on her darlingupper lip, and the underlip pouted, as though it were jealous at havingbeen overlooked. Her dark hair had a gleam of yellow gold on the edgesof the curls that had escaped the control of the sunbonnet that nowhung back upon her shoulders; and she had the round neck and plumpbreast of a dove, or of a lovely young woman, full of the vigor offresh life and the glow of young hope, and the joy and the promise andthe palpitating, passionate fulfillment of Love, without a bitter dropin the cup—until you came to Sarah Horrotian.

Josh came to Sarah, when the first edge had been taken off his appetitefor kisses. He asked, unconsciously dropping back into his broad nativeaccent, as he stood under the lee-side of the big barn, with his strongarm round Nelly’s yielding waist, and her curls scattered on the broadbreast covered by the tight blue jacket:

“Well, and how be mother?”

“I reckon much about the same. Throwing Scripture at a body,” saidNelly, with a grimace that only produced a dimple, “whenever her bewopsy.”

“And that’s all round the clock,” said Sarah Horrotian’s son decidedly.He added: “Hard texts break us bones, Pretty. I learned that when I wasa lad. And how’s old Blueberry? Proper? That’s right. He takes me backto-morrow—starting early so as not to overdo him, good beast!”

“I believe you love him better than poor Nelly,” she said, with tearscrowding on her long dark lashes at the thought of losing her love sosoon.

“I’ll show poor Nelly whether I love her or not.” He pretended to bitea pink finger of the soft hand he cherished in his own. “Let’s justforget to-morrow till it’s here.” His tongue broadened insensibly intothe Sloughshire dialect as he went on: “And how be my old dog[Pg 164] Roger?And Jason Digweed? Does he still take off his boots to clean pigsty,and then put ’em on again over all the muck? And wear no clothes atall to-house, and answer a knock at door naked as my hand; and scareexpecting females into the straw, weeks before their time might belooked for? O’ course he do! It wouldn’t be Jason else. There’s nobodycan tell me anything new about him!”

“Med-be I might!”

He took her by the chin, and turned the coquettish face to him, andlooked into the dancing eyes with a twinkle in his own.

“Now then, what is it? Speak up, you teasing witch!”

Nelly dimpled and blushed, and finally burst out laughing, smotheringher mirth against Josh’s blue sleeve in a very endearing way.

“Hurry up, or I shall guess!” Josh’s florid face broadened in a smile,and his blue eyes twinkled knowingly. “I doubt but I do guess, though,all the same. Still, tell!”

She shunned his eyes with provoking coyness.

“I don’t half like to say it out loud!”

“Whisper, then,” he said gayly, “and give a man a chance to kiss apretty neck!”

“Behave yourself! But stoop down. You be so tall.”

He stooped, and she whispered, and the whisper sent him off into aguffaw of laughter.

“Ha, ha, ha! Well, to-be-sure!” He slapped his thigh and roared himselfred in the face, and she laughed with him, though in demurer fashion.“Whew! that beats all! So Jason be in love, after all his cursing o’females, and wishing as the Almighty had seen fit to people the worldwithout the help of petticoats. But who’s the maid, if it be a maid,and what’s her mind to him, seemingly? Will she swallow the mortaldown, with a hold on her nose? or turn it up, and bid him get towindward with that mug of his, as a New Zealand idol might be jealousof? Come, give her a name! or I’ll say you grudge her her good fortune!”

“You gave her your own, not so long back!”

“You don’t mean yourself?”

Convinced by Nelly’s blushes as by her laughter that she did meanherself; a purple hue swamped the trooper’s[Pg 165] florid countenance anda weakness took him in the knees. He rocked awhile, holding hisblue-cloth-covered ribs, and then his laughter broke away with him,and wakened echoes that the barrack-room knew, but that the blackened,cobwebbed rafters of the ancient barn had not echoed to since a roaringbachelor squire of the soldier’s name had held Harvest Home there inthe dead old days when the Second George was King.

Nelly checked him when he reached the climax of gasping speechlesslyand mopping his overflowing eyes. He crowed out:

“Well, that bangs the best! And what did you do when he made up to ’e?Comb his hair wi’ a muck-fork or curtsey and thank him kindly for hisdamned presumption?”

“Use proper talk, else I’ll tell ’e nowt,” she threatened.

“I will, I vow! From now I’m the best boy in the Sunday-school,—mildas a dish o’ milk, and as mealy-mouthed as Old Pooker—not that he’s abad sort, as the white-chokered corps go!”

“See you keep your word! Well then.... Says my customer to I....”

“Meaning Jason?...”

“Meaning Jason. Says he, smirking all over his face, as how I be a mainpretty maid; and he have wrestled in prayer upon the matter, and med-beif I looked out wi’ my bright eyes sharp enough, I should see myselfstandin’ up before the Minister to Market Drowsing Baptist Chapel,being preached into one flesh wi’ he—he—he!”

Josh drew a deep breath, inflating his broad chest to the utmost of itslung-capacity and bellowed:

“And this is the man as down-cries all women. Why, he got round motherthat way, cussing of the female sex for traps and snares and Babylonishharlots, though why that kind o’ talk should tickle her, hang me if Iknow! her being a woman herself, by way of!... But how did you meet thebold wooer?...”

“Tossed up my chin like so”—she furnished a distracting example—“andtelled ’n as no living minister should mold me into one flesh wi’ anymortal man!”

“Having been regularly tied up in the matrimony-knot[Pg 166] by a parson—myblessings on his tallow face!” said Josh, with a triumphant hug, “thatsnowy day in January when you met me at the little iron church down theStoke Road near Dullingstoke Junction, wi’ the license buttoned in thepocket of my borrowed suit o’ plain clothes, and the ring jammed on mylittle finger so precious tight—for fear of losing it!—that it tookyou and me and the beadle to get it off again!”

Upon the strength of these reminiscences he did some more hugging. Shefreed herself from the enclosing girdle of warm, muscular flesh and hotblood, pouting:

“Behave, and let a body finish! To that about the minister, and menever marrying, Jason he tells I as all young maids be ’ockerd ataxing. ‘But a’ll gi’ thee another chance,’ says he. ‘’Oolt thee or’ootent thee? Cry ‘beans’ when I cry ‘peas,’ and it’s a bargain!’ Wi’that, he offers to kiss me!”

“The—frowsy son of a gun! Don’t say you ever——”

“Likely!... I fetched ’n a smack in the face....”


“Following up with the promise that I’d rather die than wed ’n, and allthe same so if he were hung wi’ gold and di’monds....”

“There’s my girl! What more?”

“Oh, Jason, he were cruel casted down. Quite desperate-like, andthreatened me he’d ’list for a soger.... ‘Why, they would wash’e!’ I tells ’n; and he bundled away in a girt hurry, and haven’tcome athirt I since.... But your mother must ha’ heard, her looks be somortal glum.”

“Never mind her looks! Tell her I’ve got a better husband for herpretty dairymaid than her pigman comes to, dang his dratted impudence!”

She rallied him in rude country fashion, its homeliness redeemed by thebeauty of the speaking mouth and the dancing hazel eyes.

“You be jealous!”

“Jealous, am I?” He rapped out the fashionable oath, caught from hisofficers: “Egad! you rogue, I’ll punish you for that!”

She seemed to like the punishment rather than not. And as she gasped,crimson under his kisses, there was a rustling inside the barn, nearthe great doors of which[Pg 167] the lovers stood. One of these swung open,affording to the view of those without, had their absorbed faces butbeen turned that way, a segment of the vast churchlike interior,with its noble raftered roof upheld by kingposts at the gable-ends,and only lighted by the gleams of cold wintry sunshine that foundentrance by the partly open door, and by the cracks between the ancientside-boards, and here and there where birds or rats had tunneled holesin the ancient brown thatch. Mounds of recently-threshed wheat occupiedthe granary at the higher end; with bales of sacks, cord-tied, destinedto receive the hard, sound, golden grain. The lower threshing-floorwas ankle-deep with the chaff of beans, and stout bags of these, newlytied, stood in rows against the opposite wall, while a great mound ofthe straw rose in the background. The wooden thail that had been usedin the bean-threshing lay upon the floor. The man who had wielded ithad yielded to the desire for a snooze, a weakness of Jason Digweed’swhen the beer was working in his muddy brain....

When the lovers had jested about him and his unlucky wooing, therehad been a stirring in the heart of the mound of the bean-straw, anda dirty finger shod with a black nail had worked a spying-hole for anunwashed face, embedded in a matted growth of dirty hair, to rest in.Thus, unobserved, Mrs. Sarah Horrotian’s pigman, fogger, cow-keeper,and general factotum, favored by the widow on account of his Dissentingprinciples and avowed and sturdy misogyny, could see what took place,and be entertained by the conversation.

It had fallen to fitful whispers. The man was urgent, and the damselcoy. The experience of the ambushed hater of the sex had to be drawnupon for the context of the broken sentences that reached the dingyears under the dirty hair-thatch.

“Miss Impudence!” Josh called his sweetheart after some retort of hers.

“‘Miss!’” she breathed, so softly that even her lover barelyheard her.

“Miss Nelly Pover to the world as yet, and in the hearing of folksto-home here. But Mrs. Joshua Horrotian in snug corners when there’snone to listen or pry. Eh, my beauty?” he said, hugging her.

[Pg 168]

“I don’t know how I durst ha’ married you!” she panted, “and me thatafraid o’ your mother....”

“Let me but get bought out of the Army and settled in my proper placeas master of this farm,” said Josh in a loud, ringing voice of cheerfulhope, “and there’s no one on earth you need hang your pretty head for,or ever shall, my darling!”

She turned to him then with all her coyness gone, and put both armsabout his neck, and so clung to him, kissing the cloth of his jacket,the rough embroidery of his stiff collar, the hard, manly neck grippedby the leather stock, until the strong man quivered and grew pale, andleaned against the stout tarred timbers of the barn behind him, holdingher to his breast. Thus he whispered with his lips at the rosy islandof ear that showed among her curls, and his eyes seeking the desiredhaven revealed by the high partly-opened door. But she shook her head,with her face still hidden against him, and he was fain to wait andcurb his passion, lest he should scare this shy and tender thing. Hesaid, and his voice was not quite steady:

“As my girl pleases, be it. I’m hers for life or death! You know that,don’t you, Nell?”

She pressed against the blue jacket, nibbling a bright brass button.

“Speak up and answer!”

No answer.


She vibrated at the low, persuasive call. You could see the waves ofroseate color chasing each other from the edge of the print neckerchiefupwards to the creamy nape of the soft dove’s neck, where the silkylittle curls clustered under the sunbonnet. And then she yielded tohim all at once, and he led her in under the high lintel of the greatbarn-door, and the wedded lovers vanished in the kindly, fragranthay-scented gloom of the upper threshing-floor, where were the greatgolden mounds of tenfold wheat that Zeus and Demeter might have couchedon.

[Pg 169]


Meanwhile Sarah Horrotian, a small, determined, flat-bosomed woman ofcuriously heavy footsteps and rigorously determined aspect, attiredin a narrow gown of rasping wincey and a blue-checked apron with awedge-shaped bib, made plaint, groaning over the hideous wickednessof this world as she pounded with the roller at the dough upon thepastry-board. It helps the picture to add that the widow’s pastry wasof a consistence so tough and lasting that no human being, save one,partaking thereof, had ever been known to venture on a second helping,the exception being Digweed, the pigman.

When Sarah’s only child, Joshua, then a white-skinned, red-curled,burly youngster of eighteen, already standing nearly six feet high inhis deceased father’s solid mahogany-topped boots and old-fashionedcords, and the baggy velveteen coat with the huge horn buttons, evenwhen the hard, shiny, low-crowned hat hung on its peg against thepassage wall—when Josh took the Queen’s Shilling, it may have beenan undigested slice of the widow’s Spartan pie-crust, innocent ofmollifying medium or shortening of any kind, that spurred him to theact, combined with Sarah’s railing.

For the Lili and the Lilith, that ceaselessly chide, with shrill,weird, human-seeming voices, amongst the ruins of dead andlong-forgotten cities on Babylonian plains, were as piping bullfinchescompared with Sarah Horrotian.

If she had ever met with any members of the sect, she would have shoneas a Muggletonian. To denounce rather than to exhort was her religion.To proclaim sinners lost eternally, and luxuriate in the prospect oftheir frying, to call down judgments from Heaven upon those who hadoffended her, was the widow’s way.

News came to her from Jason Digweed, her unsavory Mercury and generalintelligencer, that one Whichello, clerk and beadle to the ParishChurch of Market Drowsing, whose incumbent claimed tithes from thewidow, had suffered the loss of an eye, which had dropped out uponthe Prayer-Book in the middle of the Litany, being a blinder allalong—though Whichello had never had the[Pg 170] ghost of a notion of it—andnearly scared Parson into fits.

“Then the Lord has not forgotten me!” said the grim little woman,folding her great bony hands upon her meager bosom. “He remembered thatclutch of thirty addled Black Spanish eggs I bought of that whitedsepulcher and set under our old Broody, and He has smitten, sparing toslay.”

“Now, mother!...” began Josh, wriggling on the low-backed settle; “youdon’t really go for to say you believe a thing of the Lord like thatthere!”

“Silence!” said the widow, turning her long, sallow, high-nosed face,with the scanty loops of black hair upon the temples, upon her son, andfreezing even his accustomed blood with the glare of her fierce blackeyes. “If so be as the Almighty wills to avenge His chosen, who are youto say Him nay?”

She went out of the kitchen, shaking the crockery on the shelveswith her ponderous gait, and visited her stores and sent from thencehalf-a-bag of potatoes and a leg of new-killed pork to the clerk’swife. “For the Lord never meant the innocent to suffer with theguilty,” she knew. Later, when she subscribed half-a-crown towards thepurchase of a glass eye for the bereaved Whichello, she forgot to quoteher authority for the act.

Poor folk in want approached Sarah, expectant of verbal brimstone, notunhopeful of receiving more substantial aid. For the widow Horrotian,after severely-exhaustive inquiries, failing to run Deception to itsearth, exuded silver in shilling drops, girding as she gave, whenthe well-to-do buttoned up their pockets and bestowed nothing butsympathetic words. Yet these were praised as kindly folk, when therewere no blessings for Sarah. For even as her hand relieved, her tonguedropped vitriol on human hearts, and raised resentful blisters there.

One of these blisters, breaking upon a Sunday night at tea-time, ledto the outlawing of Josh and his subsequent enlistment. A teapot wasinvolved in the quarrel, which yet sprang from a milky source. Forto the moral scourges with which Mrs. Horrotian lashed the quiveringflesh of her only child, she never, never failed to add, as a crowning,overwhelming instance of the filial ingratitude[Pg 171] of her son Josh, thereproach that she had nourished him at her maternal bosom—preferablychoosing meal-times, and those rare occasions when guests gathered ather board, for these intimate reminiscences of the young man’s helplessinfancy.

To look at the woman raised doubts as to the possibility of her everhaving nourished anything except a grudge or a resentment. No dealboard could be flatter than the surface she would passionately strikewith her bony hand in testimony to the fact alleged, causing Josh tochoke with embarrassment in his mug of home-brewed ale, and elicitingfrom the guest—always a partisan and crony of her own—grunts, ifa male: or pensive, feminine sighs, or neutral clicks of the tongueagainst the palate.

“As if I could help it!” Josh suddenly burst out on the epoch-makingoccasion referred to.

The turning of the worm was so unexpected that the widow leaned backin her chair, and there ensued a silence only broken when the ministerof the local Bethesda groaned. For the Reverend Mr. Pooker, withhis wife and daughter, were frequently guests at Sarah’s board, thewidow, nominally a member of the Established Church, having seceded toDissent, liking her religion as she liked her tea, hot and strong, andwithout sugar.

“I think you spoke, young man?” said the Reverend Mr. Pooker, settingdown the pot of rhubarb jam into which he had been diving, and staringsolemnly at Josh. Mrs. Pooker faithfully reproduced the stare, andlittle Miss Pooker tried to do so, but only managed to look at thepresumptuous youth with her little canary-colored head tilted on oneside in an admiring manner. Not being sufficiently regenerate and electto be insensible to the dreadful fascination of wickedness.

“I did speak!” asserted young Josh, boldly meeting the black eyesthat flamed upon him out of the deep hollows under his mother’s highnarrow brow. “I said, ‘As if I could help it!’ and I say so again....Were there no teapots handy? A teapot wouldn’t ha’ pitched itself ina child’s face years after he’s earned the right, Lord knows! to callhimself a man.”

“Scoffer!” thundered the great bass voice of the little flat-chestedwoman. “Mocker! As though I, Sarah Horrotian,[Pg 172] would disobey thecommand that bids a woman suckle her children!”

“Well and nobly said, ma’am!” commented the Reverend Pooker, reachingfor the seed-cake. “And let us hope that the respect and gratitood owedby a child so nerrished to a parent——”

“And such a parent!” interpolated Mrs. Pooker tenderly.

“Will not be forgotten,” said the Reverend Mr. Pooker through theintervening medium of seed-cake, “by this misgeided and onrewly YoungMan!”

“Very well, then!” said Josh, driven beyond patience. “All right! Butwhy be I to thank her for doing what the Lord commanded her to do?That’s what I want to know!”

Sarah Horrotian rose up at the tea-board end of the Pembroke table inthe best parlor.

“Another speech like that, Joshua, and if you was ten times the son ofmy womb, you should go forth motherless from these doors. What! Shallthe Name of the Lord be taken in vain at my table, and I not driveforth the blasphemer from my roof!”

“Dear sister in grace ...” began placid Mrs. Pooker, possiblyforeseeing regrettable contingencies. But Sarah was fairly launched.

“And naked shall you go, Joshua, save for the clothes upon your back,and not a penny of my money shall be lavished upon the accursed of Godand of his mother, for whom Hell gapes, and eternal punishment is mostsurely waiting.”

“Hem!—hem!” coughed the Reverend Pooker, getting alarmed. But Mrs.Horrotian was wound up, and, as Josh knew, would go till she ran down.

“There shall you gnash your teeth in torment,” boomed the awful voiceof the widow. “There shall the Worm that dieth not gnaw your vitals——”

“Oh!—dang the dod-gassed Worm!” broke in the lost one, and at thishideous blasphemy the Reverend Mr. Pooker set down his refilled teacupwith a bump that spilled half its contents over the saucer’s edge, andthe minister’s wife and daughter fairly cowered in their chairs.

“I be sick to death of hearing about worms and gnashings[Pg 173] and torment.And as for going forth o’ your doors, I’ll go now. So good-by, mother,for good and my parting respects to you, Mr. Pooker and Mrs. Pooker!Don’t ’e cry, Miss Jenny! I shan’t go to Hell a day sooner for all mymother’s cursing. A pretty mother!” said Josh in boiling indignation,“to be calling down damnation on her only son across her Sundaytea-tray. Why, one o’ they Cannibal Islanders she throws away goodmoney on converting ’ud make a better shift at being civil to her ownflesh and blood!”

Sarah did not recover her power of sonorous speech for some minutesafter the best parlor door had slammed behind her departing prodigal,and his swift heavy steps had traversed the stone-flagged passage, andhis manly voice, still vibrating with anger, had been heard tellingthe old mastiff Roger to go back to his kennel in the yard. Then sheoffered Mr. Pooker a fresh cup of tea, and when the pastor declined,suggesting application at the Mercy Seat for a better frame of mindfor somebody unparticularized by name, the stark little woman gaveno more sign of consciousness of the intimate and personal nature ofthe supplication, than if she had been asked to join in prayer foran obdurate Fiji Islander, determined on not parting with a favoritefetish of carved cocoanut-wood adorned with red sinnet and filedsharks’ teeth.

But when the farmhouse was silent, and its few inmates, all savethe mistress, wrapped in slumber, Sarah Horrotian sat upon a hard,uncompromising, uncomfortable chair by the dying embers of thefarm-kitchen fire; and wept, as might have wept a wooden manikin, onsome stage of puppets; wrenched with grotesque spasms and wiry throesof grief, holding her blue-checked apron squarely before her reddenedeyes.

Ah! pity these isolated ones, stern of nature, obdurate of heart, whoyearn to yield but are not fashioned for yielding. All they crave isthe opportunity to relent and be tender, but it never, never comes!If someone had the courage to cling about those iron necks of theirsand pray them with tears and kisses, to be kind, they believe in theirsecret hearts that they could; but the waters of tenderness are driedup in them, or lost, as are forgotten[Pg 174] and buried fountains in thegreat Desert, doomed never to spring to the light in crystal radianceand cool a thirsty traveler’s lip. What tragic agonies are theirs, whocan even see their dear ones die, unreconciled and unforgiven.... Ah!pity them, the obdurate of heart!

As for the Prodigal, who had tramped it into Market Drowsing, andbribed the under-ostler at the Saracen’s Head Inn with sixpence to lethim sleep in the hayloft appertaining to that hostelry after a supperof bread-and-cheese and ale, he had had a clinching interview with thetall Sergeant of Lancers at the Recruiting Office, before that statelyfunctionary’s palate had lost the flavor of his post-breakfast quart ofbeer.

Josh chose the Hundredth Lancers for the reason that he likedhorses; and because the Sergeant, whom he hugely admired, belongedto that dashing Light Cavalry regiment. Also because there wereknights in plate-armor tilting with lances in the half-obliteratedfourteenth-century frescoes that rainy weather brought out in ghostlyblotches through the conscientious Protestant whitewash of MarketDrowsing Parish Church; and he had, from early boyhood, achievedpatience throughout the Vicar’s hydra-headed sermons, by imagininghow he, Josh Horrotian, would wield such a weapon, bestriding justsuch another steed as Sir Simon Flanderby’s war-horse with the steelspiked nose-piece and breast-piece, the wide embroidered rein, and theemblazoned, parti-colored housing sweeping the ground like a lady’strain....

The Railway had not yet reached Dullingstoke. But the Sergeant, withhis plentifully-be-ribboned captives, six other youths of Josh’s ownage, had marched into the town—with frequent washings-out of thirstythroats with pots of beer upon the way—and had whisked them off by the“Wonder” coach for Spurham before to Sarah Horrotian of The Upper ClaysFarm came the news that her only son had joined in his lot with theshedders of blood.

Erelong, to that hopeful recruit, learning the goose-step at SpurhamBaracks with the other raw-material under process of licking intoshape, arrived a goodly chest containing comfortable provender ofhome-cured bacon, home-made[Pg 175] cheese and butter, a stone bottle of TheUpper Clays home-brewed ale, and a meat-pie with a crust of almostshell-proof consistency. In conjunction with a sulphurous tract,a bottle of horehound balsam for coughs, and a Bible containinga five-pound note pinned within a half-sheet of dingy notepaper,inscribed in the widow’s stiff laborious handwriting: “For my son.From his affectionate Mother. S. Horrotian.

Do you know stern Sarah a little better now? Do you comprehend thecraving need of strong excitement, the powerfully-dramatic bent thatfound a relieving outlet in the provocation of those passionatescenes that left the simpler and less complex nature of her offspringsuffering and unstrung?

He was the gainer, she the loser, by that breach of theirs. Herterrible voice, her freezing glare would never overawe his soul andparalyze his tongue again. He would always have an answer for herthenceforth; her quelling days were over....

For to Josh, who had been bred in the belief that the word of Sarah wasas little to be disputed as the Word between the black stamped-leathercovers of the great Family Bible on the best parlor side-table, hadcome the revelation that his mother was merely a woman after all. Shehad always promised him that he would be blasted by a lightning-strokefrom Heaven did he presume to defy her awful mandates and disputeher sovereign will. He had done both these things, and what is more,had done them on a Sunday, and the effect upon the weather had beenabsolutely nil. One of the balmiest, rosiest, and brightest ofsummer evenings he could recall had smiled upon the exile’s tramp intoMarket Drowsing. He had thrown his curly red head back, and squared hisstrong shoulders as he went, looking up at the pale shining splendor ofthe evening star....

Full revelation of her loss of power to sway the imagination of her sondid not come to Sarah Horrotian until two years later, when Josh, afull-blown trooper in Her Majesty’s Hundredth Regiment of Lancers, camehome, upon her written invitation, to spend a furlough at The UpperClays.

He had acquired a power of smart repartee, a military[Pg 176] sangfroid whichSarah found disconcerting.... His way of smiling as he pulled at arecently-acquired red whisker betokened self-consciousness and vanity,that damning sin.... It was in vain she urged him to confess himself aworm, and no man....

“That’s your opinion o’ your son, maybe!...” Josh played with thehirsute ornament, which his mother secretly admired, in the dandifiedway she abhorred, adding; “But I should call my father’s son a decentsort o’ beggar, taking him all round!”

“Pride goeth before a fall,” said Sarah, in her deep chest-notes ofwarning, “and the pit is digged deep for the feet of the vainglorious.”

“Ay, ay!” assented the soldier. “Perhaps I be vainglorious, a bit. Butyou have so poor an opinion o’ me, mother, that I’m driven to have abetter o’ myself than I should in ordinary. Try praising me, if youwant me to run myself down!”

Sarah was silenced. She shut up her mouth like a trap, and went abouther work in rigid dumbness, while the voice of her soul cried out inbitterness, wrestling with Heaven for the soul of her son.

Whom to praise, whom to take pride in, whom to favor and indulge wereto damn to all eternity, according to the Book from which some soulsdraw milk and honey, and others corroding verjuice and bitterest gall.


This February noon, while the early sunset reddened the west and theson made love in the barn, the mother prepared stewed rabbit in thekitchen. She sliced cold potatoes into a pie-dish, with severe browsand compressed lips. And a young rabbit, disemboweled and skinned,ready for dismemberment and interment, leaned languidly over the edgeof a blue plate, waiting the widow’s will.

There was a heavy step upon the flagstones outside the closed half-doorthat kept the expectant group of fowls assembled at the outer thresholdfrom intruding into the kitchen. The upper part of a tall man’s bodyappeared over the half-door, blocking out the sunset. Its long shadowfell over the chopping-board and the widow’s active[Pg 177] hands. She knewwhose was the step, and her hands were arrested in mid-movement. Hadher grim nature permitted it, she could have cried out with joy. As itwas, a dimness obscured her vision, and the roaring of the blood in herears drowned out the click of the latch as he came in.


“How are you, mother?”

The tall, manly, soldierly figure, towering in the oblong of opendoorway against its background of flaming sunset sky, farmyard, andstubble sloping to the jade-green river crawling between its frostedsedges, stepped to her and took her large, hard hand, and kissed herunderneath the high, sallow cheekbone, with a duteous peck of lips.

“I am well, thanks be to the Lord!” said Sarah, regarding himunflinchingly. He was so like her dead husband, his father, that a wildsurge of emotion strained the hooks and eyes of the brown wincey gownand swelled her lean throat to choking anguish.

“That’s right. But you always are well, ain’t you, mother? Bobbish,if not tol-lol? And Miss Nelly?” For she had entered at the moment,bringing the radiance of youth and happiness to illumine the somewhatgloomy farm-kitchen. “No need to ask how she is, if looks speak foranything! How do you do, Miss Nelly? Let me hope as you’ve not quiteforgotten an old friend?”

“No, for sure! and I be nicely, Mr. Joshua, kindly thanks to ’e!”

With her quilted sunbonnet shading a face that the February wind, orsome more ardent lover had kissed to glowing rosiness, from the widow’shard black eyes, she put her pink hand in the hypocritical fellow’slarge brown one, and gave him modest welcome.

So modest and discreet, even in those rigorous eyes of SarahHorrotian, that the extraordinary snorting sound emanating from JasonDigweed, who, heralded by his characteristic perfume of pigsties incombination with unwashed humanity, had appeared outside the half-door,startled the widow as though a geyser, suddenly opening in the brickkitchen-floor, had been responsible for the utterance.

“Bain’t you ashamed, man?” she tartly demanded of the offender, “tomake noises like the beasts that perish?”

[Pg 178]

“No-a!” retorted Jason. He stepped boldly across the kitchen threshold,permeating its slightly onion-flavored atmosphere with a potentsuggestion of pigs, and planted his huge and dirty boots defiantlyupon the spotless floor-bricks, in defiance of the mute appeal made bythe rope-mat to the entering visitor. He scratched himself leisurely,within the open bosom of a shirt of neutral hue, and as he scratchedhe looked from one to the other of the three faces that bore degradingtestimony to the daily and thorough use of water, soap, and flannel,and his little eyes burned redly under their populous thatch. It is notoften that to a piggy man who has been wounded by the dart of Amor androused to resentful frenzy by the fair one’s contemptuous rejectionof his love, comes so complete an opportunity for vengeance upon atriumphant rival as Jason savored now.

The soldier’s rashness hastened the descent of the sword....

“Why, ’tis Jason,” he began, with a tingling in the muscles of hisstrong arms prompting him to punch a head, and an urgent impulseconcealed within the toes of his spurred Wellingtons, that had endedbefore now in somebody being kicked. “No need to inquire after yourhealth, I see. A perfect picture.... Isn’t he, Miss Nelly?—if so be asa chap could see the picture for the dirt upon it!”

“Let Digweed be. He is as the Lord made him!” boomed the deep rebukingvoice of Sarah, “and a burning and a shining light of holiness such asI have prayed in vain the son of my womb might be!”

“The Lord made him as clean as the rest of us at the start, I reckon,”retorted the soldier, rushing on his fate, “and a burning and a shininglight in a mucky lantern is no better than a bad ’un at the best. Eh,Miss Nelly?”

At this homely piece of wit Nelly laughed out merrily, and Sarah,turning her long narrow face and stern black eyes on the blushingoffender, bade her be silent in so harsh a tone that she began to cry.

Mightily relishing Nelly’s tears and confusion, Jason perpetrated awhinnying imitation of the silly little laugh that had drawn down hermistress’s rebuke upon her. But upon a sudden forward movement of theangry-eyed[Pg 179] trooper, he hastily turned the whinny into a groan of theprolonged and gusty kind, wherewith searching pulpit utterances wereordinarily greeted at the Market Drowsing Bethesda.

“Now, look ye here, Digweed,” began the trooper, upon whose risinganger the groan had anything but a mollifying effect, “if so be asyou’re a man, and have anything upon your tongue’s end, out with it inhuman language, and ha’ done wi’ bellocking and gruntling,—or betakeyourself where the company are more likely to understand ye.”

The speaker slightly jerked his thumb towards the littered yard, inshape an irregular square; the long straggling mass of the farmhouseoccupying the upper side, the stables, sheds, and cattle-byresenclosing it upon the right hand; a goodly row of populous pigstiesflanking it upon the left, where a hollow depression was occupied,during ten months of the year, by a brown pond of gruel-likeconsistency, much patronized of paddling ducks and a large blackmaternal sow, at that moment engaged in rootling investigations uponits plashy borders.

“Let be!” sounded in the deep tones of the widow. She checked her son’simpulse towards continued speech with a semaphore-like movement of thelean little arm with the great bony hand at the end of it. “If you haveanywhat to say, say it!” she commanded, seeing her unwashed factotum tobe in labor with speech.

“Mis’ess,” said Jason, getting out the word with a violent wrench andtwist, “since Babylonish luxury and scarlet doings be ’lowed on thishere varm, my time ’ooll be up come Mickenmass—and I’ll be ready toup-stick and bundle!” He wagged his shaggy head at his mistress, buthis piggy eyes were on her son.

“Silence!” boomed the great voice of Sarah Horrotian. She put up herlarge hand as the soldier opened his mouth to speak. She set back therabbit on the blue plate from which it had lapsed as though overwhelmedby the secession of the fogger. Then she folded her lean arms upon hertriangular apron-bib, and confronted the shining light with judicialseverity.

“Who speaks of luxury and wickedness doing on this place,” sheproclaimed, “must make his charge good.[Pg 180] Out with yours, man!... Let ushear what you have to say!”

“I were gettin’ my nuncherd o’ bread an’ chaze up to th’ owd barn,”said Jason, with another spasmodic effort, “leanin’ my back agen th’boards to th’ wind’erd zide of ’n, as I chudd, when I heern a nise-likeinzide. Like so!”

The pigman primmed his lips, and brought out a long-drawn, chirpingkiss. The sound plopped into the silence as a stone plops into a pond,creating rings of consternation. Two of the three faces the narratorscanned with the bilious little savage eyes under his heavy brake ofeyebrow were flaming crimson. The third was pale with wrath, as Sarahexclaimed indignantly:

“Trapesers again!”

“A male man and a female woman,” continued Jason, “kissing and cuddlingas though the begetting of bastards were th’ only biznurds they med ha’come into the world to tend.”

He turned up his eyes and groaned again. The soldier’s leathern stockgrew strangling in its embrace. The milk-maid’s bosom lifted on a gaspfor air. Josh and Nelly, each in their different way, prayed that theordeal might be soon over....

Meanwhile thunderclouds gathered upon the high sallow forehead of Mrs.Horrotian, between the scanty loops of her black hair. A suspicionsharpened and yellowed her. She reviewed possible offenders in hernarrow mind a moment, then said:

“Be you swearing-certain they sinners were tramping bodies?”

Jason returned, plunging two hearers into a hot and cold bath ofperspiration:

“Noa, I bain’t!”

“Med-be,” said Sarah, with a vinegar face of disgust, “that to-yieldinggirl of Abey Absalom’s has been straying with some bachelor-mankindhereabouts. Both Joe Chinney and Tudd Dowsall be sinners prone to fall.”

She waited for no answer:

“And to them and all such, Judgment will be meted out hereafter!”

She took the rabbit from the plate, disposed its limbs upon thechopping-board, balanced the chopper above the[Pg 181] victim, and broughtdown the blade. Nelly squeaked as though the rabbit had been capable ofutterance, as the mangling steel fell. The awful voice went on, as itsowner with dreadful dexterity finished chopping up the victim:

“For there is a hell for chamberers and wantoners!” She solemnly laidthe remains of the sacrifice in the pie-dish, strewed cold vegetablesabove, poured a cupful of gravy upon the whole, and added, with thesalt and mace and pepper: “Nor shall fornicators fail of their placetherein. Girl, open the oven door!”

Pale Nelly totteringly obeyed, showing a cavernous interior of coalyblackness, radiating fierce heat, illuminated by red and leapingreflections of awfully-suggestive flame. Both the son and thedaughter-in-law knew themselves guiltless, their endearments chaste andlawful as those of Zacharias and Elizabeth. But when the high-priestessof the mysteries advanced, knelt, and with a powerful shove of herbony arm drove in the pie-dish to deepest perdition, and clashed theoven-door as though it shut upon the lost for all eternity, their kneestrembled and their eyes clung together behind the widow’s narrow back.Even Jason gulped and shuddered. But he recovered as the widow turnedupon him, demanding:

“Was it Joe Chinney wi’ Nance Absalom?”

“Noa!” returned the piggy man. And drove home the negative with avigorous headshake.... Horror stiffened Sarah’s facial muscles. Hergreat voice deepened to a blood-curdling whisper as she said:

“Dew and Randy be both wedded men.... Betsy Twitch the weeder be onlyhalf a widow.... Jason Digweed, do you mean to tell me the SeventhCommandment has been broken in my barn?”

For answer Jason raised a gnarled and stubby forefinger and made amalignant jab with the digit in the direction of the tall, martialfigure in the blue, white-faced uniform.

“Best ask your soger son, Widder Horrotian. Med-be he’d took untohis’seln’ a praper missus som’ers before he made ’e mother-in-laa toyour own milkin’-wench?”

There was a moment’s horrible silence in which the white-faced clockwas drowned, or so it seemed to the married lovers, by the thumping oftheir hearts. Then the dreaded voice boomed forth:

“Joshua Horrotian!”

“Here!” said the soldier, as if the roll were being called.

“Your miserable mother has a question to ask. Are you, the son I bore,a villain, or an honest man? Is this girl whom I have sheltered undermy roof, and fed o’ my charity, a virtuous woman or a weak, to-yieldingtrollop?”

“I should ha’ knocked down the chap who’d asked me them two questions,”said Josh, turning a blazing crimson countenance, illumined with apair of indignant candid eyes, upon the widow. “But I suppose, beingmy mother, and a professing Christian, it’s your privilege to thinkthe worst o’ your own flesh and blood, no less than other folks. Andso far as I can remember, you always have, I’ll say that for you! Andthough such usage goes far to the making of a decent young fellow intoa villain and a blackguard as well, I am neither of these things, Ideclare before my Maker!” He added, with a clinching vigor that drovehome belief in him: “And this young wife o’ mine is as clean of sin, ifnot as innocent—before Him I say it again!—as when she came into thischaritable-thinking world a naked baby!”

The strangling sensation behind the leather stock had lessened, theripe-tomato hue that had swamped Joshua Horrotian’s open, floridcountenance had faded to a more normal tinting. The flaming sunsetof the cold, clear evening showed up his stately height and vigoroushandsome proportions to rare advantage. He was only a private trooperin Her Majesty’s Hundredth Regiment of Lancers, but in the eyes ofthe stern mother, whose love of him was intense in proportion toher rigorous concealment of it, no less than in those of his shy,worshiping wife, he seemed a king among men. But while the wiferejoiced in his beauty, his mother loathed it as a snare. She had no[Pg 183]words in which to hid the soldier take not the Holy Name in vain. Sheturned her hollow eyes away from him, lest she should offend the grimMoloch she worshiped by excess of pride in this perishable shape ofclay, formed from her own body. And the resonant manly voice went on:

“Here’s the extent o’ my defaulter’s sheet where you’re concerned. I’vemarried your milkmaid wi’out asking leave of you or anybody. Why? I’llsave you the trouble of asking the question I see on the end o’ yourtongue. Because I love her and she me! Come here-along, my Pretty!”

He held out, with his dead father’s well-remembered gesture, the strongarm in the blue-cloth sleeve, and the masterful look of affectionand the becoming air of pride he did this with, the widow of GeorgeHorrotian well knew. An insufferable pang pierced her when Nelly, witha little, eager cry, ran into the welcoming circle of the embrace. Itclosed upon the rounded waist as if it never meant to let go. And aspasm of rageful, despairing jealousy clutched Sarah as she saw; andher heart fluttered and clawed and pecked in her lean bosom like astarling burrowing in a crumbling wall. She closed her haggard eyes toshut out the sight of the hateful creature who had robbed her....

And yet, although she did not realize it, to the rigid woman who hadyearned for a maid-child and been denied one, this creamy, rose-tinted,hazel-eyed orphan of a ruined farmer and his fagged-out young wife, wasdear. Nelly had come into grim Sarah’s life too late to bring about asoftening change in it, and garland it with flowers. Indeed, she shrankwith loathing from the widow’s bony touch, and shivered with secrethatred at the sound of the railing voice that had driven her Josh fromhome before she knew him.... But such affection as Mrs. Horrotian hadto spare from the son whom in her own characteristic and uncomfortablemanner she idolized, was bestowed upon the girl who was now his wife.

Unimaginative as the woman was, her bitter love for both of them hadbrought its cruel gift of clairvoyance. The premonition of a growingtenderness between the two had sat by her sleepless pillow many a nightpast. The secret conviction that it was not to see his mother, butthis[Pg 184] bright-eyed, silken-haired interloper, had made, for months past,a whispering-gallery of her poor tormented heart. She had been drivenby the nagging dread, against her better nature, to favor Jason’s piggywooing by tacit assent rather than by words....

And now—the thing she feared had come upon her. She was never, neverto be beloved by her son as her great love deserved! and the girl shehad taken in and protected had proved herself a traitress. For hershe had no curse; but was not Scripture fruitful in denunciation ofchildren who disavowed a parent’s right? And yet “a man shall quithis father and mother and cleave to his wife.” When she, the maid,Sarah Doddridge, daughter of a well-to-do yeoman-farmer of the county,had eloped with her penniless young lover, the couple had salved theirsmarting consciences with this text. Now, behold punishment metedout.... As she had served her mother, this son of her womb had servedhis.

Inexorable, awful justice of that grim idol her own imagination hadmade, set up on high, worshiped, and misnamed God! She weakened atthe blow her memory dealt her. A harsh sound that was barely humancame from her dry throat. She took hold of it as savagely as though ithad been an enemy’s, and rocked upon her flat, slippered feet as shewrestled with herself. Her son and her son’s wife eyed her anxiously.They saw her moved in that strange inarticulate way, and a faint littlehope awoke in both their hearts, and babbled that she might even meltand bless them—as parents, at first relentless, usually ended by doingin story-books and theater-plays.

But it was not to be. The bilious eye of the piggy man was upon thewidow. And Jason, with extra garnishing of words, repeated that he wasready to go at Michaelmas. Such was his spirit, he added, that he’d bedalled if he served under a soger-master, on The Upper Clays or anyother farm!

“Swear not!” trumpeted Sarah, turning her long chalk-white face andresentfully-flaming black eyes upon the factotum. She plucked herselffrom a brief descriptive verbal chart of the particular place in theLake of Fire specially reserved for profane persons, to add:

[Pg 185]

“And as long as I am mistress at The Clays there can be no other voicein authority. While I choose, I rule!”

“Your soger son there says different,” proclaimed the piggy one. “A’sto be master heer, what time you buys ’n out o’ th’ Army, and thenthere’s noan on earth her’ll hang her pretty yead for....” He jerkeda grimy stump of a thumb contemptuously towards Nelly. “Least of allmother-i’-laa, Widder Horrotian!”

“Mother!” broke out the soldier, controlling by a violent effort theurgent impulse to punch the speaker’s matted head, “will you let thismangy dog make bad blood between us? Something of what he was repeatingI did say to my wife. But I’ll take my solemn oath, without a worddisrespectful to you! You promised to buy me out of the Army, and letme manage the farm for you, and in the course of Nature—and may it belong a-coming!—a day ’ull dawn when I am master of The Clays. Then,as I hope my mother never has had or will have reason to be ashamed ofme, so never may my wife. The words were harmless, twist ’em as theeavesdropper will. Upon my soul they were!”

Sarah swallowed something that might have been an iron choke-pear ofthe Middle Ages. She looked in her son’s hot blue eyes, and said withstern composure:

“Pledge not your soul to its undoing, though I dread it be losta’ready. My father left this farm to me, to use at my discretion. ’Tisfor me to decide when my son be fit to rule. Jason Digweed here wereone of th’ witnesses to your grandfather’s Will. He made it his ownself, without borrowing words from any man, an’ ’twas read out here,in th’ best parlor, by Lawyer Haycock, after the Funeral. Digweedremembers the wording, I’ll warrant. Speak out, Digweed. Prove to thisundutiful and rebellious son that his mother does not lie!”

Thus adjured, Jason cleared his throat with a sound like the scrapingof roads, and recited with relish:

“‘And I Leaves this ’eer Varm wi’ all of the ’Foresaid Messuages andLands hadjoining and Distant To Sarah Ann Horrotian my Deer-BelovedDaughter Trusting to her Usings and Employings and Disposings of theSame For the Bennyfit of Her Lawful Son Joshua Who shall succeed to theUse and Enjoyment of the Property when in the Judgment of my aforesaidDaughter Sarah Ann[Pg 186] Horrotian He shall Hev’ Attaindered to Years ofDiscretion.’”

“You hear?” said Sarah.

“Ay, I hear,” her son returned with bitterness. His chest heaved; hisbright blue eyes burned reproachfully upon the haggard indomitablelittle woman in meager wincey brown.

“And I see, too,” he added, with a bleak smile that showed the sourwoman’s portion in him, “as my mother is like to go back on her promiseof buying me out of the Army, and setting me to manage the farm.”

“If so be as the Almighty can recall His word because rebelliouscreatures to whom His promise was given have backslidden and becomeperverted,” proclaimed Sarah, “His servant may do the same!”

“You pious folks have always th’ Bible to back ye,” said Josh bitterly,“when you’d wrong your neighbors—or betray your sons!”

“I betray no creature born. After such a down-bringing, paltry,miserable marriage as you ha’ made, do ye suppose I can answer to mydeparted father for your discretion? Back wi’ ye along to Barracks, andbide there! Discipline be the only rod for a stubborn nature such asyours. ‘Behold, in My love will I chasten you and will not refrainfrom scourging.’” She added, upon the heels of the text: “Nor shalla penny o’ my money go to buy you out o’ th’ Army. Selah!”

“You ... won’t ... buy me ... out?”

Sarah answered, in one short bark:


He clenched his great fist and shouted:

“Who is the blackguard has egged ye on to this? Not—Jowell?”

Her stern conscience forbade her to deny the counsels of theContractor. Yet, as a pious body of her type will, she evaded theanswer direct:

Mr. Jowell no more than yourself, that be gritting your teeth andclinching your fist at the mother that bore and suckled you.”

Involuntarily Josh’s eye went to the white-spouted brown earthenwareteapot, that, as far back as he could remember, had sat in the middleof the second shelf of the oak-dresser when not in active use. Theghost of a[Pg 187] twinkle flickered in his blue eye, the hovering shadow of agrin was on his solid countenance. He remembered the First Exodus andits cause. His mother may have read his thought. She said in clangingtones, as intolerable to her son’s hearing as though an iron tray werebeing beaten with a poker close to his ear:

“Was it my doing that you casted in your lot with the shedders ofblood? No, but your own upping pride, and wicked stubbornness. Back wi’ye to Barracks, and bide there! I ha’ got no more to say!”

The fleshy, red-whiskered face that aged and bleached under herindomitable regard sent strange shudders through her, in its likenessto the pinched, gray waxen mask she had kissed upon the stiff-frilledpillow of her husband’s death-bed. From the mouth that had straightenedinto a pale line under the flaming mustache came words, uttered in thevery tones of the dying:

“And my wife?”

The broad hand shook that spread itself protectingly over the littlebrown head that shed its wealth of dark silken ringlets upon Josh’sstalwart chest. A voice came from their ambush; no frightened whimper,but a clear and resolute utterance:

“Her goes wi’ her own dear husband, as a wife ought!”

He groaned, forgetful of the triumphing Digweed, and the hard blackeyes of his listening mother....

“My girl, my girl! you don’t know what you be talking about, or whatkind o’ women you would have to live alongside.”

Nelly lifted her cheek from the blue coat it nestled to, and met hislook. Perhaps, if you had seen the quivering of the short upper-lipwith the golden dust of freckles on it, and the brave way in which thehazel eyes laughed through a veil of tears, and the twisting of thepink fingers shyly interlacing upon her apron-band, you would haveloved her nearly as much as Josh did.

“They would be soldiers’ wives, like I be myself, dear heart.”

“But what soldiers’ wives, my girl! Trollops and jades many o’ them,married in a moment of drunkenness. Honest women the rest; decentenough, but rough as hemp. And using language, the best o’ them, suchas ’ud scald these little ears to hear!...”

[Pg 188]

A sob broke from him with the bitter cry:

“Mother, you’ll never deny my wife a shelter in the house where my deadfather lived with you in love?”

Said Sarah, upright as a ramrod and grim as a steam-hammer:

“I ha’ not gone to say as far.”

With his manhood melting in him to the point of tears as he gave backthe faithful look of the dark eyes that wooed his, he stammered:

“God bless you for that!”

“But,” said Sarah, grimmer than ever, for the pink fingers had tappedhis lips, and he had pecked a passing kiss on them, “as she has earnedher dole of food and her penny of wages with service here, so she shallcontinue to do. I keep no idlers, nor shall!”

“Nor were asked to, I reckon!”

From the safe rampart of the blue cloth hug Nelly launched with thewords a bright eye-dart of defiance. Sarah thundered in reply:

“Young woman, check your tongue!” She added, with an afterthought ofprecaution: “And show me your marriage-lines.”

“My lines?...”

The trooper said, in answer to the puzzled knitting of the girl’s softeyebrows:

“The paper the parson as married us ’scribed out and gave ye,Pretty.... The certificate of our marriage ’twas. The wife alwayskeeps that!” He added, dipping his tongue in salt pickle saved overfrom a brief experience of the lower troop-deck: “’Tis our cable andsheet-anchor both in the stiff gale we’re weathering. Out with it, mygirl!”

He looked to see her take it from the darling fastness of her bosom.A hand fluttered there, then dropped. The irises of the hazel eyesusurped the golden-brown-gray until they seemed all black.... Afrightened voice said:

“Why ... I mind you taking o’ that paper to keep for me....”

“Nonsense!” he broke out, so roughly that Nelly winced, and faltered:

“But indeed and ’deed ’tis true!... Pray do, do remember! Think how Ihad no pocket to my gown, having[Pg 189] made ’n on the sly in such a hurry asnever, up to th’ garret where I sleep, working by the light of saved-updip-ends hours after your mother had took th’ flat candle-stickaway....”

Sarah’s gloomy front contracted ominously. Were not those dip-endsfilched? Nelly went on, appealing to her moody, frowning lord:

“I were for putting the paper in my bosom.... ’Twas you said ‘Nay’ tothat! So you took un and put ’n in th’ pocket o’ your pants.”

“That I never!... Stop, though!...”

His mouth primmed itself into a whistle of dismay, so ludicrousthat Nelly tittered through her tears. He felt in the single pocketpermitted by Government, patted himself all over the blue coveringof his big chest and solid ribs in the hope of drawing forth a papercrackle, finally bellowed with the full strength of his vast lungs:

“Right, by the Lord Harry! So I did; there’s no denying!”

His eyes grew circular and bulging, his healthy, florid, intelligentcountenance was stricken into the very idiocy of consternation, hisbushy flaming whiskers seemed to droop, grow limp, and fade in color ashe stuttered:

“And never thought about it after or since!... And the chap belongingto the Rifle Corps—that lent me the plain-clothes suit—if you cantack on ‘plain’ to a chessboard check in half-a-dozen colors—it beingas many sizes too big for him! offered me the togs as a bargain, himbeing ordered out to Bermuda on Foreign Service.... And I hadn’t themoney—and he sold the chessboards to a Jew.... Whew! My eye and BettyMartin!... Who’s got those pants on now?”

“Then,” said his mother, in tones that cut like broken ice-edges,“you that are a married couple have no lines to show me?” She pausedand delivered sentence, woman-like wreaking vengeance first upon thedaughter of Eve....

“You poor, to-yielding wench, this man has deceived and ruined ’e! Awoman without her marriage-lines be no wife at all!”

[Pg 190]


Do you who read cry “Bosh!” at the preposterous notion?... Not so theseunlettered, homespun Early Victorians, who never dreamed of its beingpossible, by the payment of a few silver pieces, to obtain a copy ofthe original entry in the Marriage Register pertaining to the sacrededifice where the matrimonial knot had been tied. Go, search throughthe literature of the period. You will find shelves of musty novels,piles of foxy old dramas reeking with this very situation. The cry:

Where are my lines?... Lost—lost!...” meets invariably withthe pertinent, potent answer, making Edwin beat his brow in despair,sending Angelina into syncope or convulsions: “Then also lost,unhappy one, art thou!

At the moment when the interview above recorded was taking place, myAunt Julietta, in the family mansion on the outskirts of Dullingstoke,was reading in the February issue of The Ladies’ Mentor asweet, sad, sentimental tale hinging on a similar loss. Only Edwinwas a passionate, penniless young nobleman, reduced to win his breadby imparting to the daughters of the nobility and gentry of GreatBritain lessons on the guitar; and Adelina was the third daughter ofthe Marquess of K——. And the marriage-lines, cherished in Adelina’scorsage since the happy morn that united her for ever withthe being she adored, had been picked up on the carpet of heryoung lady’s dressing-room by Babette, the French lady’s-maid, andemployed as a curl-paper for the glossiest and most golden of her youngmistress’s ringlets, No. 3 on the left temple next the ear....

Even as Lady Adelina screamed, previously to falling into convulsionsand rolling about like a fair and fragile football in book muslin,amongst the legs of the Early Victorian tables and chairs, so did Nellycry out in anguish, falling, not into syncope or fits, but into thestalwart arms of her man—who received her in them, and as she sobbedupon his broad breast, tried, with a heavy heart under his white-facedblue-cloth jacket, to cheer and comfort her.

“Fiddlesticks! We’re legally married, my girl!” he[Pg 191] said. “Why, hangit! the knot was tied by Special License, and egad! I still owe half ofthe two-pun’-ten I paid for it to the chap that loaned me the cash! Ifthe paper’s lost, the yellow iron church is standing still, I suppose,at the bottom o’ the Stone Road near Dullingstoke Junction. Nobody’sblown it up with a mine, I take it? and sent the mealy-faced youngparson up aloft before his time! Bless my button-stick, what a sillylittle soul it is!”

All this he said, and more. But stout as his words were, the heartof the trooper was as water within his body, and he knew, as he hadnever known it, even when marched in before his Colonel to receivean orderly-room wigging, the sensation of being gone at the knees.His mother’s impenetrable self-command, her pale face of judgmentbetween the scanty loops of her black hair, flaring torches of terrorto evil-doers, began to daunt and quell him as though he had suddenlyshrunk to a mere truant boy. She spoke, not to him, but to Nelly:

“This is an honest house. I don’t say but its doors will be open toyou, and its roof will give you shelter, if so be as you come and askyour husband’s mother for it, with your marriage-lines in your hand.But till you can show them, get you gone out of my sight! Go with theman you say’s your husband, forth out of these my doors!”

“So be it, then,” said the trooper sullenly. “I’ll take her back toSpurham wi’ me to-morrow!”

“You’ll take her to-night.”

“Mother, you’ll not turn us out like that!”

She had wrung the entreaty from him at last—humbled the hardened manwho had braved and defied his mother! A spasm of savage triumph shookher inwardly, but to all appearances she might have been a wooden imageof a woman, the pleading seemed to leave her so unmoved. She said,still speaking to Nelly:

“Get you up to chamber-over, and make a bundle of such odds as you’llneed. Pack your box,—’twill be sent by the Railway to the CavalryBarracks at Spurham, come to-morrow. You, Digweed, tie the clout on thegate as a call to th’ carrier when he passes by.” She added, addressingher son, as the piggy man departed with much alacrity to execute thecongenial errand, and Nelly, obeying the order in her husband’s eye,quitted the kitchen and shortly afterwards was heard tripping aboutwith short, quick steps[Pg 192] on the joist-supported whitewashed boards thatserved as ceiling to the kitchen and flooring to the room above:

“If you be ahungered or athirst, there’s cold bacon and bread on th’dresser there; and she you call your wife can draw you a mug of ale.”

He said, drawing himself up to his splendid height, and using a tone ofcold civility that somehow cut his mother to the quick as his fierceupbraidings had failed to do:

“No, ma’am, I thank you!”

She found herself urging, as Nelly opened and shut drawers andcupboards overhead, and was heard to drag a box across the floor:

“You have had a day’s journey, and started with but a dew-bit. You’dbetter take something to stay you. ’Twill be wise!”

Her bowels yearned over him, knowing him unfed. He said, as a strangeranswers a stranger:

“I thank you kindly, but I could not, ma’am.”

She began to tremble at the thing that she had done. She said, almostentreatingly, and with the metallic resonance quite gone out of hervoice:

“’Twould be a want of common Christian kindness to let you go fasting!”

A red-hot spark of resentment burned in his blue eye. He said,measuring his words to the tap-tap of Nelly’s little thick-soled shoes,descending the short carpetless stair:

“I have had my bellyful of Christian kindness under this Christianroof.” He added, as Nelly appeared, wearing her Sunday cloak andbonneted, and carrying a rather clumsy bundle of soft consistency tiedup in a workaday shawl:

“And I leave it with my wife, to return to it no more! Come, my girl!We’ll quarter in Market Drowsing to-night, and take the route forBarracks to-morrow. Where did I put my haversack?”

His eyes passed over his mother and lighted on the regulation canvasbag lying on a shelf of the dresser near the home-made loaf and therejected cold bacon, towards which he experienced a yearning thatfilled his mouth with water and plucked at his resisting pride. Hepicked up and slung on the pack with a vigorous movement, caught hiscap from a wall-hook, took his wife by the hand, and,[Pg 193] not without acertain manly, soldierly gallantry, led her out of his mother’s house,leaving Sarah standing in the middle of the kitchen-floor with hergreat hands folded over her triangular apron-bib.

“Good-by, Old Broody and the rest,” said the bride, so rosy a littlewhile since, pale now and fighting with tears repressed, as some hens,accustomed to receive from her hand the supper-scraps about this hour,hurried to her with squawking, scaly-legged haste. “Who’ll feed ’e now,poor things? and milk the new-calved cow to-night? Her never could bidethe sight o’ Jason, that there red Devon wi’ the crumpey horn!...”

“Sensible beast!” said the exiled son of the house, picking up alittle frilled nightcap with a Prayer-Book inside it, that had escapedfrom a yawning fissure in the bundle. That little nightcap in Josh’sgreat hand transformed Nelly from a white rose into a red one, and wasresponsible for a sudden rise in the mercury of the trooper’s spirits.

“Ha, ha, ha! Well, to be sure now! And uncommon becoming, I’ll swear,though my money’s on the curls without a cover! Give me the bundle,Pretty!” He stopped in the act of shouldering it to exclaim: “Halloa!We’re forgetting another bit o’ property we’re bound to take with us!Can’t you guess? My horse Blueberry.... My own good beast!... Comeback-along and fetch him.”

Together they retraced their steps, crossed the farmyard, and Nellykept guard over the canvas bag and the shawl-bundle, to which thelittle frilled nightcap that had wrought such a bright and hopefulchange in Josh’s downcast face had, with the Prayer-Book, beenreturned; while the trooper disappeared into the warm hay-scenteddarkness within the stable. From which, after some “Come up’s” and“Woa, there’s!” accompanied by the creaking of a girth and the clankingof a bridle, he emerged, leading a handsome horse of strong andpowerful build, with one white patch in the middle of his broad hairyfrontlet, gentleness and courage in his great misty blue-black eyes,and so rare a purplish sheen on his gray coat, of equine health andvigor, as justified the name bestowed on him by his master.

And Nelly kissed Blueberry’s velvet nose, and told him[Pg 194] how he and sheand his master were all going away to be happy far from The Clays;and Blueberry whinnied his pleasure at the news; and then the canvasbag and the shawl-bundle were strapped behind the saddle, and, witha kiss from the lips that never more need seek her own in secret,Josh—in defiance, Sarah thought—but really in oblivion of the gaunteyes that stared at them over the starched muslin blind, and the hedgeof winter-housed geraniums and fuchsia-cuttings that blocked thekitchen-window,—lifted his young wife to the young horse’s back. Shefaltered, as her hands left his broad shoulders, and clung for a briefinstant about his strong neck:

“Turn round your head a minute, dear Josh, and look at the old home,and all you’ve given up for the sake of your poor Nelly!”

He said, with a brief glance at the old gray stone building of thefarmhouse, from whose mossy-tiled roof and small diamond-panedcasements the reflected glow of the sky was fading fast:

“Good-by, old place! And if so-be as I must stick to soldieringall my life; I carry from you the two things a soldier needs themost,—supposing him a cavalryman!... a good horse and a sweet wife!”

Nelly’s tears broke forth at that, but the bright drops were more ofjoy than sorrow. She urged as he took the bridle, and told her to sitfast:

“You’re quite, quite sure you’ll never repent it?”

“As sure,” he said, walking with measured pace beside the now movinghorse, and with a stern ignoring of the pale oval patch that showedagainst the darkness of the kitchen, above the muslin blind, “as thatshe will, come her dying day.... Why, I am damned if I’ll put upwi’ this!”

A nervous little shriek from Nelly, caused as much by the suddenappearance of the piggy man, starting up like a frowsy gnome or koboldunder Blueberry’s very nose, as by the resulting swerve which hadnearly unseated her, provoked the objurgation.

The kobold danced a dance of triumph, accompanying his saltatoryexercises upon the voice; and the burden of his song was that the sogerand his lass, who had said they were wedded and could produce no bit ofscrawly paper to[Pg 195] prove their tale true, had got the dirty kick-out,and he, Jason, was main glad of it, that he were!

Dealing separately with the feminine offender, duly visited by expressjudgment from the skies, for trifling with the affections of a piggyman, he reverted, as the incensed soldier strove to control the restivehorse, and Nelly clung in terror to the saddle and Blueberry’s manealternately, to a kind of recitative....


Thus sang Jason, solemnly gamboling in the muck and litter, closeto the edge of the oleaginous and strongly-smelling brown duck-pondpreviously described, which, reinforced by the oozings from manypigsties, and diluted by the melting of recent snows, filled the hollowit occupied to the very brim.

Changing the case, but not the meaning, the pigman chanted as he nowadvanced, and now retreated, doing wonderful things with his bandylegs, and achieving marvels with a set of features which, naturallygrotesque, lent themselves with indiarubber-like adaptability to theexigencies of grimace:


And with a final, fatal inspiration followed up with:


The epithet hit like a lump from the dungheap. The clumsy pirouettethat accompanied it brought the pigman within the reach of retribution.

The gaunt eyes of Sarah saw the stalwart arm of her son shoot forthsuddenly. The iron hand belonging to the arm seized the pigman by therearward combination of matted hair, unwashed skin, and slack smockthat served him as a scruff. As a rat in the mouth of a bulldog wasJason Digweed shaken, then hurled away with a rotatory motion, a humanteetotum spinning against its will....

Splash! the brown pond received the gyrating one in its oozy yieldingbosom. A horrible wallowing succeeded, accompanied by a smell of suchterrific potency, that Adam and Eve, as they retreated from theirforfeited Paradise, were forced, after homespun rustic fashion, to holdtheir noses.

Suppose you have heard the whitewashed gate with the carrier’s wisp ofrag tied on it, clash to behind the horse,[Pg 196] the man, and the woman....Even so, you have not done with them yet;—not quite yet....

Nor with Sarah, praying in the empty farm-kitchen, clamorouslyjustifying herself before the Face of her Maker, as the white-facedclock ticked sorrowfully by the wall. Old Time has seen so many of usdrive away the being we most loved and longed for. When has he everseen that banished joy return in answer to our desperate prayer?


Dunoisse never had sought, never would seek, news or speech or sight ofthe faithless friend; but now at last, without seeking, within a fewdays of his return to Paris, came the vision of de Moulny....

It rose before him in a flare of artificial light that made a yellowpatch upon the foggy gloaming of that fateful day when the WhiteFlag of Orleans that drooped—or dripped in rainy weather—above thestately central Pavilion of the Palace of the Tuileries began to showunmistakable signs of coming down.

Such signs as the unceasing, resistless rolling of huge, dense,continually-augmenting crowds of the people along the boulevards;through the wider of the ordinary Paris thoroughfares, murmuring asthey went, with a sound like the great sea. With other crowds streamingin upon these from the suburbs. With thirty-seven battalions ofInfantry, one of Chasseurs d’Orléans, three companies of Engineers,twenty squadrons of Cavalry, five thousand veterans of the MunicipalGuard, and five batteries of Artillery, garrisoning the capital. Withstudents of the Schools of Technical Military Instruction, studentsof Law and Medicine, students of Art, students of Music, startingthe Marseillaise in the Place de la Madeleine. With the chanttaken up by the Titanic voice of the people. With the breaking of atidal wave of humanity over the palisades of the Chamber of Deputies;a rolling-back of this before the trampling horses of an advancingsquadron of Dragoons; a similar advance upon the Ministry of ForeignAffairs, repelled by Municipal Guards; a shutting of shops, amushroom-like springing up of Barricades, radiating from[Pg 197] the Cloistersof Ste. Marie in the very heart of ancient Paris, extending from themouths of tortuous streets to the gullets of narrow, crooked alleys,so as to form a citadel where Revolutionists concentrated, waitinginstructions from headquarters of secret societies,—pending resultsof sittings of Committees of Insurrection, held by day and by night inthe offices of the Republican Journals,—ready to act without theseif they were not forthcoming. While by rail and by road, in answer tothe urgent summons of muddy dispatch-bearers on wearied horses, or atthe imperative tap-tapping of the electric needle; amidst the roaringand grinding of iron wheels and the trampling of iron-shod hoofs; anever-ending flood of armed men rolled down on Paris.

Now, upon a deputation from the Fourth Legion of the National Guard,calling upon a certain Crémieux, Deputy of the Opposition, with apetition to the Chamber, demanding dismissal of Ministers and ElectoralReform, came by the dawning of the twenty-fourth of February the rumorthat this demanded change was actually To Be—a rumor meaning littleto some, welcomed by others as the first indication of the scepter ofSt. Louis falling from a weak, relaxing Royal hand. Huge bonfires,made by students, of the heaped-up wooden benches belonging to theChamps-Élysées, had showed officers of the Staff galloping hither andthither with orders and counter-orders all through the raw, bleaknight; had illuminated the crowds assembled to stare at the spectacleof Royal troops bivouacking on boulevards and public squares; and hadbeen reflected in the shining bronze and polished steel of cannon,posted on the Places du Carrousel and de la Concorde.

But as yet, though Paris had seen the pulling-down, by detachmentsof the military, of the barricades choking those narrow labyrinthinestreets that were the veins of the heart of her, and had winked atthe building-up of these by the Revolutionists as fast as they weredemolished; but, though a volley or two had made matchwood of thetables and chairs, the market-carts and omnibuses of the Barricades;though some minor conflicts between the People and the Police hadended with the tearing of tricolors and the capture of a red flannelpetticoat mounted on a barber’s pole, and the dispatch of a few ladenstretchers to the Hospitals; though a bayonet-point or so had beenreddened;[Pg 198] though the edge of a saber may have been used here andthere, instead of the flat; though a guerilla-warfare between scatteredgroups of Socialists with revolvers and bludgeons and small partiesof Dragoons and Cuirassiers made public streets and squares perilousfor peaceable citizens; though Republicans had disarmed the NationalGuards of the Batignolles and burned the station at the barrier, andthough the rappel had been beaten and Legion by Legion thesetax-paying citizen-soldiers were answering to the call to arms,—as yetthe anticipated insurrection had not begun.

The sails of the Red Windmills that grind out Civil War hung slack,though the piquets of Dragoons and Chasseurs, posted at theopenings of the streets and thoroughfares, had been on duty forthirty-six hours; were swaying with weariness and hunger in the saddlesof their exhausted, tottering horses, their haggard faces half-hiddenas they dozed behind the high collars of their long gray cloaks....

How did the spark reach the powder? Processions had been formed intoken of popular delight at the announced change in the Government.Bloused workmen armed with pikes and sabers and pistols that had doneduty in 1793, half-fledged boys with bludgeons or cheap revolvers,women of the Faubourgs with babies or choppers or broomsticks, theswarming life of the poorest quarters formed into column under theTricolor or the Red Flag. Such a column came muddily rolling towardsthe Ministry of Foreign Affairs, filled the Rue de Choiseul with nosound beyond the trampling of feet, many of them in wooden shoes, manymore naked, while the head of the column advanced upon the front ofthe Hotel, that, like its assailable sides and rear, was protected bya steel hedge, the bayonets of a half-battalion of the Line, hastilysummoned from their barracks in the Rue de l’Assyrie, some twenty-fourhours previously.

The Colonel and one or two officers who were personally acquaintedwith the Minister in popular disfavor had been summoned to aconference—involving dinner—in his private apartments looking onthe garden—from which he was a little later to escape, disguised ina footman’s livery. An Assistant-Adjutant commanded the companiesof infantry that stemmed the onward rolling of those muddy waves ofhumanity that threatened to swamp the front[Pg 199] courtyard—a slender,black-eyed, soldierly young Staff-officer of perhaps twenty-seven, witha reddish skin tanned to swarthiness by desert sunshine and dust-winds.

It was Hector Dunoisse. He sat upon an iron-gray half-breed Arabmare at the upper outer end of the bristling double line of bayonetsand red képis that were flanked at either end by a squadronof Municipal Guards. The shako of a subaltern officer showed at therear of the files, behind the Lieutenant rose the white-painted,gilt-headed railings topping the wall that enclosed the courtyard ofthe Hotel, carriages and cabriolets waiting there in charge of theirowners’ servants, the broad steps under the high sculptured porticodotted with curious groups of uniformed officials or liveried lackeys,or neutral-tinted strangers who had taken refuge there before theadvancing column with its flaring naphtha torches and its Red Flag, andits raucous roar of voices....

There were even ladies amongst the groups in the courtyard. One, whowore a costly mantle of ermines, revealing between its parting foldsa brilliant evening-toilette, upon whose bare white bosom diamondsand rubies glowed and sparkled; who had a coronet of the same jewelscrowning the rich luxuriance of her curled and braided hair, stoodapart, isolated from the rest, under the tall wrought-iron standard ofa gas-lamp not yet lighted, talking to a tall, heavily-built young manwearing the chocolate, gold-buttoned, semi-military frock-coat that,in conjunction with trousers striped with narrow gold braid, formedthe uniforms of secretaries and attachés of the Foreign Office. Andthat the young man was very much more absorbed by the conversation ofhis companion than the lady was in her listener was evident. For whilehis light brown head with its carefully massed locks and accurateside-parting was bent down towards her so that you saw his profile, theaccurate tuft of reddish whisker above the black satin stock, the largehandsome ear, the heavy clumsy nose, the jutting underlip and long,obstinate chin, her full face was constantly turned towards thepacked and seething thoroughfare before the tall iron gates, and theliving barrier of human flesh and horsemeat and steel that guardedthem. And that face was very fair to see. Even in the uncertaingloaming, the loveliness of it went to the heart like a sword....

Now as the foggy dusk of the gray February day closed[Pg 200] coldly in,and the muddy sea of humanity surged up against the wall of steeland discipline that Authority had built before the lofty gilt-toppedrailings of the Hotel of Foreign Affairs, the oil-cressets on thegate-pillars and above the central arch that spanned the entrance werelighted by the porters, the great gas-lamp in the courtyard and underthe portico roared and hooted into an illumination that dimmed thesmoky, flaring torches of the men who marched with the Red Flag. As theAdjutant on the iron-gray charger rode along the gleaming gray lineof leveled bayonets, bidding the men close up;—as he called over theheads of the rank-and-file, giving some order to the Lieutenant, theyoung attaché who was conversing with the lady in the ermine mantlestarted and looked round. There was something in the clear, frostyring of the voice that recalled ... a voice he had once known. Hishard blue eyes met the eyes of the black-haired swarthy officer on thehalf-breed Arab the next instant. And—with a cold, thrilling shock ofrecognition, dying out in a crisping shudder of the nerves, Redskin andde Moulny knew each other again.

The fiery, sensitive Arab felt her rider’s violent start, a suddencontraction of the muscles of the sinewy thighs that gripped her satinysides drove both spurs home to the quick, behind the girths. As theRed Flag showed through the thick rank smoke of naphtha-torches heldhigh in grimy hands, Djelma bounded forwards, snorting fiercely at theunexpected sting; reared at the checking bit, backed, still rearing,upon the goading steel points behind; lashed madly out, woundingherself yet more, and, knocking down two linesmen; then plungedforwards, kicking, screaming, and biting, into the thick of the crowd.

Those who marched with the Red Flag took the rebellion of Djelma asobedience, and resented being trampled, after the manner of mankind.Dunoisse was struck on the bridle-arm by a bludgeon wielded by ared-capped, bloused, bearded artisan. A frowsy, bare-bosomed womanaimed a savage blow at him with that deadly weapon of the lowerclasses, a baby. The man who carried the drum went down at a blowfrom the Arab’s fore-foot. The empty-sounding crack of the splinteredinstrument, the oaths and yells and curses of the crowd were mingledin the ears of Dunoisse with the snorting of Djelma, the cries andexclamations[Pg 201] from the thronged courtyard behind the wall of soldiers.A single shot cracked out behind him: the finger that pressed thetrigger upset the Cabinet, changed the Government, toppled the rockingHouse of Orleans over with one touch. For instantly following thedetonation of the shot a sharp, loud, bold, imperious voice cried:


And, the next instant, jagged tongues of flame ran along the front lineof leveled bayonets, the deafening clatter of a volley of musketryreverberated from the many-windowed façade of the Hotel, mingled withthe splintering and shattering of glass; ran rattling up and downadjacent streets and neighboring thoroughfares, mingled with the echoesof shrieks and curses and groans.... Tumult prevailed, the MunicipalGuard charged, striking with the flat of the saber ... the Red Flagwavered and staggered, the column broke up, its units fled in disorderto the Rue Lafitte. Pandemonium reigned there, a hundred voices tellinga hundred stories of massacre deliberately planned....


You could not see the soldiers’ faces, the smoke of that deadly volleyhad rolled back and hung low, topping the living wall of steel andflesh. But as it lifted, and they saw, by the light of the lamps inthe courtyard behind them, the bloody heaps of dead and wounded menand women, mingled with children not a few, that made a shambles ofthe thoroughfare, upon whose gory stones the drum lay flattened, ahollow groan burst from the wavering ranks, and oaths and threatswere uttered. Some wept, others were violently sick, as dyingfellow-creatures crept to their feet to call them murderers, as fallentorches hissed and sputtered in the blood that ran down the gutters andlay in puddles on the pavement of the boulevard.

Confusion reigned in the Hotel, a Babel of voices clamored in thecourtyard that was seething with excited humanity and littered withbroken glass and bits of plaster knocked from the walls by ricochetingbullets. As Dunoisse returned on foot, leading his limping, bleeding[Pg 202]mare through the dead and dying; de Roux, Colonel commanding the999th, a plethoric pursy bon-vivant, who had been dining withthe unpopular Minister in his private cabinet that looked upon thegardens, and had been snatched from the enjoyment of an entréeof canard à la, Rouennaise by the crash of the discharge, burstout of the Hotel, thrust his way through the huddled ranks, bore downon the supposed culprit, gesticulating and raving:

“Death and damnation! Hell and furies!——”

The purple, glaring Colonel struck his breast with his clenched hand,and though the action smacked of tragedy, the napkin, still tuckedbetween the military stock and the gold-encrusted collar that hadpreserved the gray-blue uniform field-frock from spatterings of soupor splashes of gravy—no less than the silver fork the warrior yetgrasped, imparted an air of farce to his passionate harangue.

—“Madman!” he spluttered out; “what crazy impulse induced you to givethe word to fire?... Insensate homicide!—do you know what you havedone? Take his parole, Lieutenant Mangin. Not a word, sir! Youshall reply to the interrogations of a military tribunal, as to thisevening’s bloody work!”

Dunoisse, forbidden to explain or exonerate himself, saluted theblotchy, wild-eyed Colonel, and gave up his sword to his junior. Yousaw him apparently calm, if livid under his Red Indian’s skin, andbleeding from a bullet-graze that burned upon his cheek like red-hotiron. The leather peak of his red shako had been partly shot away, theskirt of the tight-waisted gray-blue field-frock had a bullet-rentin it. His throat seemed as though compressed by the iron collar ofthe garotte, his heart beat as though it must burst from thebreast that caged it. But his head was held stiff and high, and hisblack eyes never blinked or shifted, though his lips, under the littleblack mustache with the curved and pointed ends, made a thin white lineagainst the deep sienna-red of his richly-tinted skin.

“Sacred thunder!... Return to your quarters, sir!”

De Roux, becoming alive to the napkin, plucked it from his bemedaledbosom and, realizing the fact of the fork, whipped it smartly behindhis back. Dunoisse saluted stiffly, gave up his bleeding charger to hisorderly, saluted again, wheeled, and deliberately stepped out of theradius[Pg 203] of the Hotel gas-lamps, flaring still, though their massiveglobes had been broken by ricocheting bullets, into the dense gray fogthat veiled the boulevard, where dimly-seen figures moved, gropingamong the dead, in search of the living....

“The Monarchy will pay dearly for this act of criminal folly!... Howcame he to give the order?” de Roux demanded.

And the subaltern officer, whose glance had followed the retreatingfigure of Dunoisse, withdrew it to reply:

“My Colonel, he gave no order. A pistol-shot came from behind us—avoice that was a stranger’s cried ‘Fire!’ The discharge followedinstantly, and the people fled, leaving their dead behind them.”

“Why did he not defend himself?” de Roux muttered, glancing over hisshoulder at the huge broken-windowed façade of the Hotel rising beyondthe imposing carriage-entrance, the enclosing wall and the gateway andthe tall spear-headed railings that backed the huddled figures andlowering, sullen faces of the unlucky half-battalion.

“Because, my Colonel, you had ordered him to be silent, and to returnto his quarters. They are in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. And he hasgone to them by that route.”

The Lieutenant’s sword pointed the direction in which the slim,upright, soldierly figure had vanished. The Colonel growled:

“Why should he choose that route?...”

And the Lieutenant thought, but did not answer:

“Possibly because he hopes to meet Death upon the way!...”

Colonel de Roux, with clank of trailing scabbard and jingle ofgilt spurs, stormed up the double line of abashed and drooping redképis. Interrogated, Monsieur the Captain in command of thecompany posted at the eastern angle of the courtyard enclosure, gave insubstance the information already supplied.

“A pistol-shot came from behind us—a stranger’s voice gave the order‘Fire!’—the discharge followed.... One would have said it was anarranged thing. One would——”


De Roux glanced over his gold-encrusted shoulder at the façade ofbroken windows and chipped stone ornaments.[Pg 204] The Captain, the samelively de Kerouatte who had paid Dunoisse that ancient moss-grown debtof three thousand francs upon the steps of Rothschild’s, continued, asthough the note of warning had not reached his ear:

“Madame de Roux would be able to corroborate. I saw Madame—previouslyto the deplorable accident—in the Hotel vestibule, conversing with anofficial in diplomatic uniform. She——”

“You are mistaken, sir!” said the Colonel, purple where he had beencrimson, mulberry-black where he had been purple, and screwing witha rasping sound at his bristling mustache: “Madame de Roux is ona visit to some young relatives at Bagneres. This perturbed anddisaffected capital is no place for a soul so sensitive, a nature soimpressionable as Madame’s. I have begged her to remain absent untilthese disturbances are calmed.”

“A hundred thousand pardons! My Colonel, how idiotic of me not to haveremembered that I had the honor of meeting Madame de Roux upon thePublic Promenade at Bagneres only yesterday.... I ventured to accostMadame, and asked her whether I could have the honor to convey anymessage to you? Madame said ‘None,’ but added that she felt deliciouslywell. And to judge by appearances, there is no doubt but that the airof Bagneres agrees with her to a marvel!”

De Kerouatte reeled off this unblushing fabrication with an air ofinnocence ineffably insulting, inconceivably fraught with offense. DeRoux could grow no blacker—against the congested duskiness of his facehis little red wild-boar’s eyes showed pale pink. They routed savagelyin the large blue orbs of the speaker, guileless and unruffled aspools upon a Mediterranean shore, found nothing there; were wrenchedaway.... He gobbled out the beginning of an incoherent sentence—andthen a messenger came with a hurried summons from the Minister, andthe Colonel clanked and jingled back into the Hotel, from the gates ofwhich pedestrians were unobtrusively gliding, while coupés, chariots,barouches, and landaus, driven by nervous coachmen and with pale facespeeping from their windows, or hidden behind their close-drawn blinds,or concealed behind thick veils, or upturned collars of cloaks andovercoats, were rolling hurriedly away.

The Colonel’s gilt spurs had not long jingled over the[Pg 205] tesselatedpavement of the vestibule, before, from one of the smaller, privatewaiting-rooms, the figure of a lady emerged. A tall, rounded shapemoving with a swaying supple grace “as though on clouds,” wrapped inan evening mantle of sumptuous ermines, its snowy folds drawn closeas though its wearer were desirous of silencing even the whisper ofsilken skirts; a thick veil of creamy lace wrapped about her head.She beckoned with a little hand, that had great blazing rubies on itsslender finger and childlike wrist; and from a corner of the widecourtyard, crashing over the broken glass and shattered fragmentsof the carved stone wreaths that garlanded the high windows, camea little, dark brougham lined with gray velvet, a vehicle of theunpretending kind in which ladies who gambled on the Bourse were wontto drive to their stockbrokers, or in which ladies who gambled withtheir reputations were accustomed to be conveyed elsewhere....

A nondescript official, neither lackey nor porter, still mottled andstreaky in complexion from the recent alarm of the fusillade, emergedfrom some unlighted corner of the tall portico into the flaring yellowgaslight, followed the lady of the ermine mantle down the wide steps,and with zealous clumsiness suggestive of the Police, pushed forwardto open the carriage door. Recoiling from his assiduous civility withpalpable uneasiness, the lady shook her veiled head. The intruderpersisted, prevailed; and in that instant found himself thrust aside bythe vigorous arm and powerful shoulder of a tall, heavily-built youngman in the chocolate, gold-buttoned, semi-military undress frock thatdistinguished secretaries and attachés of the Ministry.

“You presume, my friend!” said a voice the lady knew; and she rustledto her seat, and settled there with nestling, birdlike movements, alight brown, carefully-curled head bent towards her. The scent ofcigars and the fashionable red jasmine came to her with the entreaty:

“There may be peril for you in these streets.... Will you not let meaccompany you home?”

“In that coat.... Not for the world!” said a soft voice throughthe intervening veil, and the warm perfumed darkness of the littlebrougham. “You would expose me to the very peril you are anxious toavert.”

“True!” he said, repentant. “I was a fool not to remember![Pg 206] Grant but amoment and the coat is changed!”

“I would grant more than a moment,” she answered in a voice of strange,ineffable cadences, “to the wearer, were the coat of the right color!”A little trill of laughter, ending the sentence, robbed it of weightwhile adding subtlety. But its meaning went to the quick. De Moulnysighed out into the fragrant darkness:

“Oh,—Henriette! Henriette!”

She continued as though she had not heard:

“And I hope to see you wearing it—a little later on. Good-night, myfriend. Do not be anxious for my safety. My coachman will be cautious.All will be well!” She added: “You see I am becoming prudent, ratherlate in the day.”

He said, and his tone grated:

“They will mark the day in the calendar with red.”

A sob set the warm sweet air within the enchanted brougham vibrating.

“You are too cruel. I have been guilty of an act of unpardonable folly.But who would have dreamed of so terrible a result?”

“Anyone,” he answered her in a bitter undertone, “who has ever set akindled match to gunpowder, or poured alcohol upon a blazing fire!”

The light from the carriage-lamps showed his white face plainly. Hishard blue eyes frightened her,—his forehead seemed that of a judge.She shivered, and her whisper was as piercing as a scream:

“Or dared a woman to commit an act of rashness. Do not you in yourheart condemn me as a murderess? Your tongue may deny it, but youreyes have told me that instead of rolling in a carriage over thosebloodstained stones beyond these gates, I should crawl over them uponmy hands and knees. Is it not so, Alain?”

Between the thick frosted flowers of her veil, her brilliant glancepenetrated. A cold little creeping shudder stiffened the hair uponhis scalp and trickled down between his broad shoulders like meltedsnow.... Her breath came to him as a breeze that has passed over afield of flowering clover. Her lips, as they uttered his name, stunghim to the anguished longing for their kiss.

“I have not condemned you!” he muttered. “Do not be unjust to me!”

[Pg 207]

She breathed in a whisper that touched his forehead like a caress:

“Had you reproached me, you would have been in the right. Well, dare meagain!—to denounce the person guilty of this massacre.... I am quitecapable of doing it, I give you my word!... Perhaps they would send meto Ham!... Who knows?”

A nervous titter escaped her. She bent her head, trying to stifle it,but it would have its way. She caught the lace of her veil in herlittle white teeth and nipped it. De Moulny saw the creamy roundedthroat that was clasped by a chain of diamonds, swell within the erminecollar. He knew, as he inhaled the seductive fragrance that emanatedfrom her, the exquisite allure of whiteness against white. Visions sopoignant were evoked, that he remained spellbound, leaning to her,drinking her in. She continued, and now with real agitation:

“I shall see them in my dreams, those dead men in blouses,—if ever Isleep again!... Ah, bah! Horrible!... Please tell the coachman home.Rue de Sèvres.” She added before he withdrew his head to obey her:“Unless I take the Prefecture of Police upon my way?...”

He retorted with violence:

“Be silent! You shall not torture me as you are doing!”

“Then,” she said, with another hysterical stifled titter, “pray tellthe coachman to take me home.”

He told the man, who leaned a haggard face from the box to listen; andadded a warning to drive through the most unfrequented streets and tobe careful of Madame. To Madame he said, hovering over her for anotherfascinated instant before he shut the carriage door upon the warmseductive sweetness:

“Remember, you are not to be held accountable for a moment of madness.You never meant to pull the trigger. I swear that you did not!”

He drew back his head and shut the door. The window was down, and helooked in over it to say again: “Remember!” A whisper caught his ear:

“The pistol.... Where is it?”

He touched himself significantly upon the breast.

“I have it here. I shall keep it! You are not to be[Pg 208] trusted with suchdangerous things, impulsive and excitable as you are.”

“Dear friend, such weapons are to be bought where one will, and thosewho sell them do not inquire into the temperament of the buyer. Tell mesomething, Alain!...”

He said in the passionate undertone:

“I love you to madness!... Henriette!...”

“Ah, not that now, dear friend, I beg of you!”

“Henriette, I implore you”

A small warm velvet hand alighted on de Moulny’s mouth. He kissed itdevouringly. It was drawn away, and next instant the sweet, sighingvoice launched a poisoned dart that pierced him to the marrow:

“Tell me, Alain! If I pulled the trigger of the pistol in a moment ofmadness, were you quite sane when you cried out ‘Fire!’?”

She pulled up the window as de Moulny, with a deathly face, fell backfrom it. The coachman, taking the sound as a signal, whipped up theeager horse. The little brougham rolled through the tall gateway intothe frosty fog that hung down like a gray curtain over the bloodypavement, and was swallowed up in the mad whirlpool of Insurrection, tobe cast up again on the shores of the Second Republic of France.

Follow, not the furtive little brougham, but Dunoisse, rejected ofDeath, perhaps because he courted the grim mower.... Follow him throughthe populous fog to the corner of the Rue Lafitte, where the scatteredunits of the shattered column of bloused men and wild-eyed women hadassembled in front of the Café Tortoni, occupying the angle betweenthis street and the boulevard.

A bearded man, the same who had carried the Red Flag, was addressingthe people from the steps of the Café. He had been wounded, the blooddripped from the clenched hand he shook above his head, as he denouncedthe perfidy of Ministers, the ingratitude of Kings, and the blood-lustof the Army, who for gold spilled their brothers’ lives. A sullen roarwent up at each of his phrases, the vast crowd of listeners about hisimpromptu rostrum heaved and billowed, and whitened with furious facesconstantly tossed up, like patches of foam upon a sinister sea.

[Pg 209]

Dunoisse, like a striving swimmer, battled in the muddy waves of thatsame sea, in the endeavor to reach the steps where raved the orator.It was too dark for the owners of those bodies between which he forcedhis way to distinguish that he was in uniform, and, so, realizing hisdesperate determination, they aided him.

But when at last he gained the steps, and the mingling glare and flareof the oil-lamps and the gas showed up the loathed gray-blue and red ofthe Line—though the Staff shako bore no number to identify its weareras an officer of the regiment that had fired upon them—the cry thatwent up from all those hot and steaming throats was as the howl ofravening wolves:

“Murderer! Accursed! Back to your corps! Down with the Ministry! Downwith the Line!”...

A hundred hands, some of them stained with red, thrust out to seizeDunoisse and tear and rend him. A hundred voices demanded his blood inexpiation, his life for all those lives spilled on the paving-stones ofthe Boulevard des Capucines....

“Take it if you will!” cried Dunoisse at the fullest pitch of his clearhard ringing voice, “but let me speak!”

The flaring lamps threw pale patches of light and black patches ofshadow on his face, but there was no fear there. He snatched off thebullet-pierced shako and showed them the peak that had been partly shotaway; tugged at the Staff epaulet hanging by a waxed thread or two;lifted the full skirt of the tight-waisted gray-blue field-frock andshowed the bullet-holes in the cloth....

“What is it to me what you do?” he cried. “Death comes to all sooneror later. But upon the honor of a gentleman!—on the parole of anofficer!—I gave no order to fire. The shot came from behind! Thevoice that cried ‘Fire!’ was not mine. I swear it upon the faith of aCatholic!”

This was not a popular asseveration. The voice of the speaker wasdrowned in execrations:

“Ah, malefactor! Assassin! Down with him! Down with the priests! Deathto the Army! Long live Reform!”

His voice was no longer audible.... He made signs, entreating ahearing; the bellowing, hooting, yelling redoubled. Stones flew,banging on the shutters of the[Pg 210] restaurant, denting its barred andbolted doors, smashing unshuttered upper windows. A man with a musketleaped on the steps, and leveled the loaded weapon; the unfortunateyoung officer looked at him with a smile. Death would have been sosimple a way out of the cul-de-sac in which Dunoisse now foundhimself. For if the People would not believe, neither would the Army.He was, thanks to this cruel freak of Fate, a broken, ruined man.Perhaps his face conveyed his horrible despair, for the fury of thecrowd abated; they ceased to threaten, but they would not listen, theyturned sullenly away. And the bearded man who had carried the RedFlag, tapped him on the epaulet, made a significant gesture, and saidcontemptuously:

“Be off with you!”

Dunoisse, abandoned even by Death, looked at the speaker blankly. Hewas burnt out; the taste of ashes was bitter in his mouth. His headfell upon his breast and the world grew dim about him. There was acloud of thick darkness within his brain, compared with which thefrosty fog of that February night was clarity itself.

Then the fog lifted, and he was alone. The boulevard was deserted, thechairs and little marble-topped tables used by drinkers of absinthesand vermouths, lay tumbled all about upon the stones.... Shops andrestaurants had their shutters up; windows that had no shutters hadbeen blocked with mattresses and chests of drawers. A body of mountedChausseurs galloped down the Rue Lafitte, posted a piquet at the cornerof its junction with the Boulevard, and galloped away again into thefog. Out of which came back the clatter of iron-shod hoofs, and thering and clink of steel on steel, and drifts of the Marseillaiseand cries of vengeance.

Dunoisse went to his rooms in the paternal hotel in the Rue de laChaussée d’Antin, and sat in the dark, and saw a pair of cold blueeyes, and the thick-lipped supercilious smile he knew of old paintedupon the shadowy blackness, and the ceaseless roaring of voices androlling of wheels through the streets of Paris, mingled with theroaring of the blood in his ears.

He knew that this meant black ruin if the Monarchy stood, and ruinblacker still if Red Revolution swept the[Pg 211] Monarchy into the gutter.Whose was the hand that had been guilty of the fatal pistol-shot?

He knew, or thought he knew—for the voice that had cried out “Fire!”had been undoubtedly de Moulny’s. And the anguish he tasted was of thepoignant, exquisite quality that we may only know when the hand thathas stabbed us under cover of the dark has been proved to be that of afriend.


The people collected their dead and their wounded and commandeeredwagons, and loaded them with the pale harvest reaped from the bloodypaving-stones before the great gateway and the tall gilded railingsand the chipped façade with the shattered windows, behind which theunpopular driver of the Coach of the Crown sat gripping the brokenreins of State.

Pallida Mors headed the grim midnight procession. And as it rolled, tothe slow wailing of a mournful chant, by the light of flaring torchesthrough the streets, upon its way to the offices of the Nationaland the Réforme,—where lights had burned, and men had sat inconference for sixty hours past,—those who marched with it knocked atthe doors of scared, unsleeping citizens, crying: “Wake! behold thedeeds that are done by Kings!” And the noise of firing, and of furiouscries, with the clanging of church-bells, sounding the tocsin at thebidding of Revolutionary hands, reached the ears of pale Louis Philippeat the Tuileries, and must have shrieked in them that all was over!

For all was over even before the Place du Palais Royal was filledby thousands of armed insurgents; before the Palais was stormed andgutted; before the Fifth Legion of the National Guard,—having itsMajor, its Lieutenant-Colonel, and several officers in command—marchedupon the Tuileries; followed by the First, Second, Third, Fourth,Sixth, and Tenth: before the Deed of Abdication was signed—the Royaldwelling emptied of its garrison—the shabby one-horse hackney coachcalled from the stand—(the Royal carriages having been burned)—andbefore the Monarchy, covered with an ancient round hat, clad in[Pg 212] wornblack garments, and with only five francs or so in its pockets, hademerged by the little wicket-gateway near the Obelisk, stepped intothe humble conveyance above mentioned, and passed away at full gallop,surrounded by Chausseurs and Municipal Guards, and accompanied by arunning cortége of mechanics, artisans, nursemaids, gamins, ragpickers,shoeblacks, and other representatives of the Sovereign People.

With the aid of the English Admiralty, and the British Consul at Havre,Mr. Thomas Smith, his lady and their grandchildren, obtained berthson the Express packet-boat; and, despite the activities of thelocal Procurer of the Republic—not to mention certain perils incurredthrough the too-excellent memory of a certain female commissionaireor tout for cheap lodging-houses, Madame Mousset by name,—who by thelight of her dark lantern recognized Majesty even minus itswhiskers—the voyage to Newhaven was accomplished without disaster.Claremont received the Royal refugees; the Tory organs of the EnglishPress were distinctly sympathetic; even the ultra-Whig prints,amidst stirring descriptions of barricade-fighting and the carnageon the Boulevard des Capucines, refrained from the dubious sport ofmud-throwing at the monarch all shaven and shorn....

The popular Reviews devoted some pages to the favorable comparisonof peaceable, contented, happy England (then pinched and gaunt withrecent famine, breaking out in angry spots with Chartist riots)—withfeverish, frantic, furious France. In The Ladies’ Mentor, theleading periodical published for the delectation of the sex we wereaccustomed in those days to designate as “soft” and “gentle,” there isindeed in Our Weekly Letter from Paris a reference to “the landing of aroyal and venerable exile upon our happier shores”; butbeyond this, not a single reference or allusion calculated to shockthe delicate sensibilities of my Aunt Julietta, or any other younggentlewoman of delicacy and refinement....

The pen of the writer of the above-named delicious epistles revertswith evident relief to the latest thing in Concert-dresses. Afull-gored skirt of green velvet with a gathered flounce in pinkcrèpe up to the knee ... could anything be more genteel? Thehair should be waved; brought low to hide the ears—“A pity,”reflected my Aunt[Pg 213] Julietta, “when mine are so much prettier thanpoor dear Marietta’s!”—and wreathed with a garland of naturalblooms, in the ease of young ladies ... the heads of matrons beingadorned with caps of costly lace, or lappets, fastened with theartificial rose.

Pompadour fans were also the rage. One-button gloves, worn withbroad bracelets of gold, or black velvet with cameo clasps, werede rigueur. Sleeves for day-wear were elbow-length withvolantes of guipure. For evening, short and puffed.Pray remember that these were the days of swanlike necks andchampagne-bottle shoulders, high, expansive brows, large meltingOriental eyes, and waists that tapered. And considering the obstinatepreference of Dame Nature for turning out her daughters in differentshapes, makes, and sizes, it is marvelous how all the women of the eramanaged to look exactly alike....

My Aunt Julietta had to hunt up the meanings of the descriptive foreignterms so thickly peppered over Our Weekly Letter from Paris, inperchance the very dictionary whence their gifted writer, then residentat Peckham, had culled them, before she could settle down to perusal ofthe exquisite Lines Addressed To A Fading Violet, which are tobe found at the bottom of the second column of the adjoining page; andthe delicious Essay upon Woman’s Love, which usurps the whole ofthe first column. It begins like this:

“No true woman ever loved who did not veneratethe object of her passion, and who did not delight, nay,rejoice to bend in adoring worship before the throne onwhich He sits exalted who is at once her slave and theidol of her soul!”

Even as my Aunt Julietta stopped reading to dry her gentle maidentears, Paris was bowing before the idol of her soul. She called itFreedom; and when from a window of the Hôtel de Ville the CitizenLamartine proclaimed the Second Republic, how frenzied was her joy!

For Paris is a spoiled and petted courtesan, who, suffering from theburden of her very luxury, welcomes a fresh possessor. The new lovermay be poorer than the old; he may be even brutal, but he is new....And while he is new he pleases, and while he pleases he will not bebetrayed....

[Pg 214]

You are to imagine, amidst what burning of powder and enthusiasm, whatsinging of the Marseillaise and the Chant des Girondinsby the multitudes of patriots in the streets, as by red-capped primedonne at the Opera, was carried out the refurbishing and gilding ofthose three ancient Jagannaths, baptized so long ago in human blood bythe divine names of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

And you are to suppose yourself witness—many similar scenes beingenacted elsewhere—of the White Flag of Orleans being hauled down fromabove the gilded bronze gates and the great central Pavilion of thePalace of the Tuileries, and the Tricolor breaking out in its place.

Conceive, this being accomplished with bloodshed, and sweat, andfrenzy; France neighing for a new paramour, even as the perfumed andadorned harlot of Holy Writ. He came, as for her bitter scourgingit was written he should come.... From what depths he rose up, withhis dull, inscrutable eyes, his manner silky, ingratiating, suave asthat of the Swiss-Italian manager of a restaurant grill-room; hisconsummate insincerity, his hidden aims and secret ambitions; and hishorribly-evident, humiliating, galling impecuniosity, it is for a greatwriter and satirist to tell in days to be.

The monk of old, dubbed idler and shaveling by the little-read, whenhe ceased from his stupendous labors for God with pickaxe and drilland saw, the crane and pulley and rope, the mortar-hod and trowel,the plumb and adze and hammer and chisel, to serve Him in the makingof illuminated books of His Word, service and song; took unto him aclean unused quill, or a pointed brush of woodcock’s hackles or hare’sfur, and dipped it in liquid gold, or the purple that the CatholicChurch has ever held sacred, when he would write the ineffable Nameof the King of Kings. With ground lapis-lazuli, sprinkledwith diamond dust, he set down the Divine Titles of Jesus Christthe Savior.... Mary the Immaculate Mother gleams forth with thepearly-white sheen of the dove’s breast from a background of purestturquoise. No archangel but has his initial letter of distinctive,characteristic splendor, from the glowing ruby of Michael, all-gloriousCaptain of the hosts-militant of Heaven, to the amethyst of Raphael,and Gabriel’s hyacinth-blue....

The more glorious the Saint, the more gallant the colors[Pg 215] that adornthe strap-borders and historiated initials of the pages. Each prophet,sage, ruler, lawgiver of Holy Writ is decked as he deserves; nor dogreat generals like Saul, David, and Joshua, lack the trumpet-noteof martial scarlet; while Ahab, Jezebel, Haman, are spotted as withleprosy, and livid as with corruption; and no China-ink is blackenough to score down Judas, the betrayer of his Lord. While to thedreadful enemy of mankind are allotted the orange-yellow of devouring,hellish flame, and the livid blue of burning brimstone; and theverdigris-green, metallic scales of the Snake of Eden diaper thebackgrounds of the letters, and the poisonous bryony, the henbane, andthe noxious trailing vine of the deadly nightshade wreath and garlandthem about.

Find me a rusted nib, worn and corroded with long use in the officeof a knavish attorney, where perjurers daily kiss the Book for hire,and the life-blood of pale men and haggard women is sucked away by thefierce, insatiable horse-leech of Costs. In what medium shall it bedipped to pen the cognomen and style of the man I have it in my mind towrite of?

All the blood shed in that accursed December of the Coup d’Etat of1851 flowed quickly away down the Paris gutters; it has vanished fromthe pavements of the Rue Montmartre, and from the flagstones of thecourtyard of the Prefecture; was drunk by the thirsty gravel of theChamp de Mars, where battues of human beings were carried out,but it has left its indelible stain behind....

Scrape me a pinch of dust from those dark, accusing, ominous patches;and pound therewith a fragment of the moldering skull of a Britishsoldier (of all those hundreds that lie buried in the pest-pits ofVarna, and in those deep trenches beside the lake of Devna, one canwell be spared). Compound from the soil of Crim Tartary (enriched sowell with French and English blood) a jet-black pigment. Dilute withwater from the River Alma. And then, with ink so made, write down thename of Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, the Prince of Pretenders, whobecame by fraud and craft and treachery and murder, Emperor of France.

[Pg 216]


Dunoisse had anticipated as the result of that fatal volley aCourt-Martial inquiry under auspices Monarchical or Republican—and inthe absence of indisputable evidence that the word of command to firehad not been given by the officer accused, a sentence of dismissal ofthat unlucky functionary from the Army.

The sword did not fall. The Assistant-Adjutant remained suspendedfrom his duties, and in confinement at his quarters in the Rue de laChaussée d’Antin, exactly five days; during which Paris seethed like aboiling pot, and the events this halting pen has striven to set forth,sprang from the dragon’s teeth sown in the fruitful soil of France byincapable, unjust, or treacherous hands. Various documents, clumsilyprinted in smeary ink upon paper of official buff, reached Dunoisseduring this period of detention; and whereas Number One was headedby the arms of the Reigning House of Bourbon, Number Two displayed asignificant blotch of sable printing-ink in lieu of that ornate device;with “REPUBLIC OF FRANCE” stamped in bold Roman capitals across theupper margin.

Monsieur the Marshal, despite his increasing infirmities, enlivenedhis son’s captivity with occasional visits. The smell of blood andgunpowder, the thunder of cannon and the summons of the trumpet, hadmade the old war-horse prick up his ears, neigh and prance about in hiscosy paddock. He pooh-poohed the notion of a Court-Martial. Absorbingimmense pinches of snuff, he argued—and not without point—that aRepublican Government could hardly visit with the scourges of condigndispleasure an act that had materially hastened the downfall of theMonarchy.

“You will see!... It is as I say!... This arrest is a mere piece ofofficial humbug. No doubt it was better for your own sake that youshould not be seen in the streets for a day or so, one can conceivethat!—these ultra-Reds have good memories and long knives, sacred nameof a pig!”

The old man trumpeted in his yellow silk handkerchief, hobbling aboutthe room in tremendous excitement, swinging the ample skirts and heavytassels of his Indian silk[Pg 217] dressing-gown, twirling his gold-headedMalacca cane to the detriment of the inlaid furniture and the cabinetsloaded with the chinaware and porcelain that had belonged to the lostMarie-Bathilde....

“You gave the word to fire—why trouble to deny it? Upon my part,I defend the act!—I applaud it!—I admire! It was the idea of anImperialist,—a move of strategical genius—fraught at a moment likethis with profound political significance. Sapristi!—we shallhave an Emperor crowned and reigning at the Tuileries, and you, withthe Cross and a Staff appointment—you will learn what it means to haveserved a Bonaparte. Ha! hah, ha!”

“Sir,” said his son, who had been looking out of the window duringthis tirade, and who now turned a sharp set face upon the father’sgross, inflamed, triumphant visage: “you mistake.... I am not capableof committing murder for the furtherance of political ends or privateambitions. For this act that commands your admiration I am notresponsible. I declare my innocence before Heaven! and shall to mylatest breath, before the tribunals of men.”

“Ta, ta, ta! Blague! rhodomontade!—pure bosh and nonsense!” TheMarshal took an immense double pinch of snuff. “Be as innocent as youplease before Heaven, but if you value the esteem of men who aremen—’credieu!—and not priests and milksops, you will do wellto appear what you call guilty. At this moment such a chance is yoursas falls to not one man in a hundred thousand—as fell to me but oncein my life. Make the most of it! You will if you are not absolutely afool!”

And Monsieur the Marshal hobbled to the door, but came back to say:

“You appear not to have heard that His Hereditary Highness of Widinitzis dead. There can be no obligation upon you to refrain from appearingat ordinary social functions, but I presume you will accord to yourgrandfather’s memory the customary tokens of respect? A band ofcrape upon the sleeve—a knot of crape upon the sword-hilt will notcompromise your dignity, or endanger your independence, I presume?”

“I presume not, sir!” said Hector with an unmoved face.

And the Marshal departed, spilling enough snuff upon[Pg 218] the carpetto have made an old woman happy for a day.... Later, an orderlyfrom Headquarters in the Rue de l’Assyrie, brought from the youngerDunoisse’s Chief—a purple-haired, fiery-faced personage, with whomthe reader has already rubbed shoulders,—the intimation that, pendingofficial inquiry into a certain regrettable event, not more broadlyparticularized in words, the Assistant-Adjutant of the 999th of theLine would be expected to return to his duties forthwith.

And within an hour of the receipt of this notification Dunoisse wasthe recipient of a little, lilac-tinted note, regretting in gracefulterms that the writer had most unhappily been absent from home when M.Dunoisse had called; inviting him to a reception, to be held upon thefollowing evening at the Rue de Sèvres, Number Sixteen....

That delicately-hued, subtly-perfumed little billet, penned in thick,brilliant violet ink in a small, clear, elegantly-characteristichandwriting, signed “Henriette de Roux.”

Ah! surely there was something about it that made Hector, in thevery act of tossing it into the fire, pause and inhale its perfumeyet again, and slip it between the pages of a blue-covered Manual ofCavalry Tactics that lay in a litter of gloves, studs, collars, andrazors, small change and handkerchiefs, cigars and toothpicks uponthe Empire dressing-table whose mirror had framed the wild, dark,brilliant beauty of the Princess Marie-Bathilde.... The features itgave back now, clear, salient, striking, vigorous in outline as thoserepresenting the young Bacchus upon a coin of old Etruria, were verylike the mother’s. And their beauty, evoking the careless, admiringcomment of a coquette, had stained the pavement before the Hotel of theMinistry of Foreign Affairs with blood that was to darken it for many aday to come.

The invitation, coming from such a source, could not be declined—mustbe regarded as an order. Dunoisse wrote a line of acceptance,dispatched it by his soldier-valet,—and went out.

A pretentious mourning-hatchment, displaying the splashy arms ofMarshal Dunoisse, cheek-by-jowl with the princely blazon of VonWidinitz, upon a black-and-white[Pg 219] lozenge over the hall-door, arrestedhis eye as he descended the paternal doorsteps; a replica of thisegregious advertisement gave him a cold shudder as he passed throughthe gates of the courtyard on foot, for Djelma, though nearly recoveredof her hurts, was still in the hands of the veterinary, and the pooryoung officer, son of the wealthy owner of well-filled stables, mustwalk, or ride his servant’s horse.

The streets of Paris still ran thick with the human flood that ebbedand flowed, surged and swirled, roaring as it went with a voice likethe voice of the sea.... Strange shapes, dislodged by Red Revolutionfrom the bottom-sludge, floated on the surface of the muddy torrent;their terrible faces bit themselves into the memory as they drifted by,as aquafortis bites into the copper-plate. Bands of military studentsand Guardes Mobiles patroled the upheaved streets—National Guardsfraternized with the people—the little white tents still studded thecamping-grounds of the troops on the great public squares; the limesand acacias of the boulevards, ruthlessly cut down to stumps; barked bythe hungry troop-horses tethered to them, showed naked in the wintrysunshine; while squadrons of mounted chasseurs and detachments ofMunicipal Guards patroled the thoroughfares, and Commissaries of Policebore down on stationary groups and coagulated masses of the vast crowd:

“Circulate! In the Name of the Republic!”—with little more successthan when they had adjured it in the name of fallen Majesty andimpotent Law, to roll upon its way.

Dunoisse went to the Barracks in the Rue de l’Assyrie, and later to theClub of the Line, prepared for a chilly, even hostile reception. He metwith elaborate cordiality from his equals, condescension as elaborateon the part of his superiors.

The Dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, the abolition of theChamber of Peers, was in every mouth; the political convictions andpersonal qualifications of the members constituting the New ProvisionalAdministration were discussed with heat and eagerness: the sportingodds given and taken upon and against the chances of the exiledClaimant to the Imperial Throne being permitted[Pg 220] to return to Franceand canvass for election. Some said: “It will never be permitted,” andothers: “He has already been communicated with,” and others even morepositive announced: “He is now upon his way!”...

But not a single reference was made to the affair of the fusillade atthe Foreign Ministry, though a chance hint, dropped amidst the Babel,gave Dunoisse to understand that the Conservative Republican andDemocratic newspapers had not been so merciful.

Lives there the man who could have refrained, under the circumstances,from hunting through the files of the past week? It was a leadingarticle in the Avénement that first caught the young man’seye, and what a whip of scorpions the anonymous writer wielded! Whatterrible parallels were drawn, what crushing epithets hurled at theunlucky head of the victim. More than ever, as the fiery sentencesburned their way from his eyes to his brain, Hector Dunoisse knewhimself the well-scourged whipping-top of Destiny, the shuttlecockof adverse chances, the pincushion of Fate.... And as though inmockery, yet another burden of shame must be piled upon the overladenshoulders: a brief, contemptuous paragraph in the Ordre caughtthe young man’s eye, referring in jesting terms to that pretentiousmourning-hatchment mounted over the door of the paternal mansion ...touching lightly on the vexed question of Succession, hinting thatthe Catholics of the Bavarian Principality of Widinitz were beingstirred up by the agents of “a certain wealthy, unscrupulous impostorand intriguer” to rebel against the nomination, by the Council of theGermanic Federal Convention, of the Lutheran Archduke Luitpold ofWidinitz, nephew of the departed Prince, as Regent.... And heavy cloudsof anger and resentment gathered upon Dunoisse’s forehead as he read.

They darkened upon him still when the night closed in, and he wenthome to his lonely rooms. Nor were they lightened by the hour thatsaw him, in the uniform of ceremony, and with that mourning-bandupon the sleeve of the dark blue full-dress uniform frock, that thePrincess Marie-Bathilde’s son could not deny to the memory of herfather, pitching and tossing in a hired cabriolet over the upheavedpavements of the Paris streets. On his way to the Rue de Sèvres,where in a stately suite of[Pg 221] apartments sufficiently near the Rue del’Assyrie—once forming part of the ancient Cistercian convent of theAbbaye-aux-Bois, the de Roux were established with some degree ofsplendor; visited by certain of the lesser luminaries of the greatworld, and receiving the cream of military society.

You saw Dunoisse dismiss his deplorable conveyance at the tall grilledgates of the Abbaye. In the exterior building, upon the left-hand sideof the courtyard as one entered, were situated, upon the ground-floor,the apartments of the de Roux.... In a suite of poorly-furnished,stately, paneled chambers upon the floor above, Madame Récamier wasslowly dying, haloed still by the unblemished virtue that had won therespect of the Emperor Napoleon—beautiful yet even in blindness anddecay—clinging to life by the last strand of a friendship too pure andtender to bear the name of love.

The green Venetian shutters of that row of first-floor windows wereclosed, all save one; the fold of a green silk curtain stirred inthe chill February breeze, a solitary lamp upon a table made acocoon-shaped patch of light against the somber darkness within. A wornexquisite profile, pearly-pale as the new moon’s, with a black filletbound over the eyes, showed against the background of shadow—a man’shand, ivory-white, and so emaciated that the heavy seal-rings on thethird finger hung there like hoops upon a grace-stick, drew the curtainand closed the shutters, as the firm elastic step of Youth and Hopesounded on the flagstones, crossed the threshold below....

Who would spy upon one of these last evenings with Chateaubriand? InJuly she was to follow him to the tomb.


Dunoisse, to the ring of his dress-spurs upon the pavement, passed inby the glazed double-doors. A somnolent porter, rousing out of hischair, admitted the guest by yet another glass door to a handsomevestibule upon the ground floor, an orderly-sergeant of the 999thsaluted his officer, received his cloak, shako, and sword, deliveredhim to a footman in light green livery with silver cords and[Pg 222]shoulder-knots, whose roseate calves preceded him across an ante-roomof stately proportions towards a high doorway, draped with curtainsof deep crimson velvet tasseled with gold. Brilliant light streamedfrom between the curtains, warm fragrance was borne to the nostrilsof the visitor with the hum of voices; the white shoulders of ladies,their ringleted heads wreathed, in the charming fashion of the day,with natural flowers, moved across the shining vista, companioned bythe figures of men in uniform, or lay-wear of the latest mode and mostfashionable shades of color; or displaying the severe black frock-coatand tricolored rosette of the New Provisional Government of France.

A man thus distinguished was speaking, as the footman raised thecrimson curtain and signed to Dunoisse to pass beneath. A cessation inthe stream of general chatter had conveyed that the speaker was worthhearing. And in the dignity of the massively-proportioned figure,crowned by a leonine head of long waved auburn hair, in the deepmelodious tones of the voice that rose and fell, swelled or sank at thewill of the accomplished orator, there was something that fascinatedthe imagination and stirred the pulse.

“No, Madame, I do not despise Rank or Wealth,” he said to a seatedlady of graceful shape, whose face, like his own, was turned fromthe doorway and invisible to the entering guest. “But though I donot despise, I fear them. They should be handled as ancient chemistshandled subtle poisons, wearing glass masks and gloves of steel.”

No one answered. The speaker continued:

“That Kings have been noble and heroic—that Emperors have reignedwho were virtuous and honest men, can be proved from the pages ofHistory. Their reigns are threads of gold in a fabric of inky black.The reverence in which we hold their names proves them to have beenprodigies. They, by some miracle of God or Nature—were not as evil asthey might have been.... For, even as the handle of the racket usedby the Eastern tyrant had been impregnated, by the skill of the wisephysician, with healing agents; the juice of medicinal herbs that,entering by the pores, cleansed, purified, regenerated the leper’scorrupted flesh: so in the folds of the ermine mantle[Pg 223] there lurksdeadly contagion: so, in the grasp of the jeweled truncheon of Statethere is a corroding poison that eats to the heart and brain.”

The mellow-voiced orator ceased, and the silence into which his closingsentences had fallen was broken by the announcement of Dunoisse’sname. The recent speaker glanced round as it was uttered. Only toone man could that pale, close-shaven, classic mask belong; only onebrain could house behind the marble rampart of that splendid forehead,or speak in the flashing glances of those gold-bronze eagle eyes. Itwas Victor Hugo; and the thrill a young man knows in the recognitionof a hero, or the discovery of a demigod, went through Dunoisse, asamidst the rustling of silks and satins, the fluttering of fans and theagitation of many heads, curled, or ringleted, or braided, that turnedto stare, he moved over the pale Aubusson carpet towards the seatedfigure of the lady, indicated by the footman’s whisper as the mistressof the house.

How soon the demigod was to be forgotten in the revelation of thegoddess....

As the writer of the lilac-colored note rose up, with supple indolentgrace, amidst a whispering purplish-gray sea of crisp delicate silkenflounces,—held out a small white hand flashing with diamonds andrubies—murmured something vaguely musical about being charmed;—asDunoisse, having bent over the extended hand with the required degreeof devotion, raised his head from the ceremonious salute, a pair ofeyes that were, upon that particular night, hazel-green as brook-waterin shadow, looked deep into his own.... And the heart beating behindthe young soldier’s Algerian medals knocked heavily once, twice,thrice!—as the knock behind the curtain of the Théâtre Français whenthe curtain is about to rise upon the First Act, and the strong youngthroat encircled by the stiff black-satin-covered leather stock, andthe collar with the golden Staff thunderbolt, knew a choking sensation,and the blood hummed loudly in his ears.

A flame, subtle, electric, delicate and keen, had passed into him withthe look of those eyes, with the touch of the little velvet hand thatwas fated to draw, what wild melody, what frenzied discords from thethrobbing hearts of men....

[Pg 224]

And the gates of his heart opened wide. And with a burst of triumphantmusic Henriette passed in,—and they were shut and locked and barredbehind her.


Ah! Henriette, what shall I say of you? How with this halting pen makeyou live and be for others as you exist and are for me?

There are men and women born upon this earth, who, walking lightly, yetprint deep, ineffaceable footprints upon the age in which they live.The world is better for them; their breath has purified the atmospherethey existed in.... Ignorant of their predestination as they are, everyword and act of theirs bears the seal of the Divine Intelligence. Theywere sent to do the work of the Most High.

And there are men and women who appear and vanish like shooting starsor falling meteors. Their path is traced in ruin and devastation, asthe path of the tornado, as the path of the locust is. And havingaccomplished their appointed work, they pass on like the destroyingwind, like the winged devourer: leaving prone trees and ruined homes,wrecked ships, stripped fields—Death where there was Life.

Think of Henriette as one of the fatal forces, a velvet-voiced,black-haired woman with a goddess’s shape and a skin of cream, suchlittle hands and feet as might have graced an Andalusian lady,—withmobile features—the mouth especially being capable of every varietyof expression—and with great eyes of changing color, sometimesagate-brown, sometimes peridot-green, sometimes dusky gray. Shaping herimage thus in words, I have conveyed to you nothing. No sorceress isunveiled, no wonder shown.

In the old, old days when the Sons of Light walked upon earth with thechildren of men, some seraph fell for the sake of a woman like this.From the seed of that union sprang all the Henriettes.... You may knowthem by the tattered rags of glory that trail behind them;[Pg 225] by the paleflickering aureole, no brighter than a will-o’-the wisp or glow-worm’slight, that hovers over the white brow....

About that brow of Henriette the willful hair rose in a wave-crestof delicate spraying blackness; curled over, shadowing the pearlyforehead and blue-veined temples and the little shell-like ears, asthough the waves were about to break; then rolled back and twined intoa labyrinthine knot of silken coilings from which two massive curlsescaped, to wander at their will. It was a face of lights and shadows;in their continual play you forgot to criticise its features. But theywere eloquent, from the wide jetty arches of the eyebrows, to thesilken-lashed languid eyelids, purplish-tawny as the petals of fadingviolets over the liquid, lustrous, changeful eyes. Eyes that mocked andlaughed at you even as they wooed you; and mourned and wept for youeven as they tempted and lured.

“Ah! do you indeed love me?” they seemed to say. “Is it so? Then mostunhappy—poor, poor friend!—are you! Because I am of those womenwho are born to cause much misery. For we sting to desire withoutintention, and provoke to pursuit without the will. And ‘No’ is a wordwe have never learned to say.”


It seemed to Dunoisse that he had always known her, always waitedfor her to reveal herself just in this manner, as she rose up amidstthe crisping rustle of innumerable little flounces, outstretched thewhite arm partly veiled by the scarf of black flowered lace—shed thebrilliance of her look upon him, and smiled like a naughty angel or asweet mischievous child, saying in a soft voice that was strange to hisears and yet divinely familiar:

“So we meet at last?”

He found no better reply than:

“You were not at home, Madame, when I paid my visit of ceremony.”

“I detest visits of ceremony,” she said, and her tone robbed the wordsof harshness.

[Pg 226]

“Do you then turn all unknown visitors from your doors?” Dunoissequeried. Her smile almost dazzled him as she returned:

“No, Monsieur ... I turn them into friends.” Adding, as he stoodconfounded at the vast possibilities her words suggested: “And I havewished to know you.... My husband has told me much.... But in thesetimes of disturbance, how is it possible to be social? One can onlyremain quiescent, and look on while History is made.”

“I have been quiescent enough, Heaven knows!—for nearly a week past,”said Dunoisse, “without even the consolation of looking on.”

Her shadowy glance was full of kindness.

“I know!... Poor boy!” She added quickly: “Do not be offended at mycalling you a boy. I am twenty-five—nearly!... Old enough to be yourelder sister, Monsieur.... Have you sisters? If so, I should like tocall them friends.”

“I had one sister,” said Dunoisse, his eyes upon a night-black curlthat lay upon an ivory shoulder. “She died very young—a mere infant.”

“Poor little angel!”

Henriette de Roux rather objected to children—thought them anythingbut little angels. But her white bosom heaved and fell, and aglittering tear trembled an instant on a sable eyelash. And soinfectious is sentiment, that Hector, who dedicated a regret to thememory of the departed cherub on an average once a year, echoed hersigh.

The silver-coated roach, contemplating the dangling bait of the angler,is quite aware that for innumerable generations the members of hisfamily have succumbed to the attraction of the pill of paste thatconceals the barbed hook. Yet he deliberately sucks it in, and is borneswiftly upwards, leaving in the round-eyed family circle a gap that issoon refilled.

That tear of Henriette’s was the bait. When her sigh was echoed, itwas to the feminine fisher of men significant as the slow, deliberatecurtsey of the float is to the angler for the slimy children of theriver. Variable as a fay in a rainbow, she smiled dazzlingly upon theyoung man; and said, touching him lightly upon the arm with her Spanishfan and leaning indolently back in the fauteuil that was[Pg 227] almostcompletely hidden beneath the rippling wavelets of her purplish-grayflounces:

“Look round. Tell me what flower is most in evidence to-night?”

Thus bidden, Dunoisse turned his glance questingly about. A moment gavethe answer. The corsage of every lady present, no matter of what costlyhothouse blooms her bouquet and wreath might be composed, had its bunchof violets; the coat of every second man displayed the Napoleonicemblem. His eyes went back to meet an intent look from Henriette. Shesaid:

“You do not wear that flower, Monsieur!”

He returned her look with the answer:

“My military oath was of allegiance to a King. And though the King bediscrowned and the Republic claims my services, I know nothing of anEmpire—at least, not yet.”

The irony stung. She bit her scarlet lip, and said, with a brightglance that triumphed and challenged:

“Unless the winds and tides have conspired against us, the Emperor willbe in Paris to-night.”

“Indeed!” The reports bandied, the bets made at the Club, came backupon Dunoisse’s memory. He said:

“Then Prince Louis-Napoleon has determined to risk the step?”

She answered with energy:

“He is of a race that think little of risking. The son of MarshalDunoisse should know that.... Ah! how it must grieve your father toknow you indifferent to the great traditions of that noble family!”

Hector answered her with a darkening forehead:

“My father congratulated me upon good service rendered to the cause ofImperialism—only yesterday.” He added as Madame de Roux opened herbeautiful eyes inquiringly: “He is of the comprehensive majority whohold me guilty of that deed of bloodshed at the Ministry of ForeignAffairs. He——”

Dunoisse broke off. She had become so pale that he knew a shock ofterror. Deep shadows filled the caves whence stared a pair of hauntedeyes. There were hollows in her cheeks—lines about her mouth that hehad never dreamed of.... A broken whisper came from the stiff whitelips that said:

[Pg 228]

“Do not seem to notice.... It is the ... heat!...”

Hector, exquisitely distressed, forced his gaze elsewhere. Long secondspassed, during which he could hear her breathing; then the voice said:

“Thanks!... You may look at me now!”

He found her still pale, but without that bleak look of horror that hadappalled him. She tried to smile with lips that had partly regainedtheir hue. She asked, averting her gaze from him:

“Your father.... What did you answer to him when he—said that—thatyou had rendered good service to the Imperial cause?”

“I told him,” Dunoisse answered her, “that I could testify to myinnocence of that guilty deed before Heaven. And that I should assertit before the tribunals of men.”

She murmured in a tone that gave the impression of breathlessness:

“There will be an official inquiry?”

Hector returned:

“This evening, when I returned to my quarters to change my dress, Ireceived a summons to appear before a Court-Martial of Investigation,to be held at the Barracks in three days’ time. Perhaps with this cloudhanging over me I should not have accepted your invitation? But Ithought ... I imagined ... you could not fail to know!”

She said, with a transient gleam of mockery in her glance, though hereyebrows were knitted as though in troubled reflection:

“Husbands do not tell their wives everything. And I am an Imperialist,like your father.... How should I blame you for an act that counts tous? But we will speak of this later.... Here is Colonel de Roux....”

Dunoisse’s eyes involuntarily sought and found de Roux. The Comtessemade a signal with her Spanish fan. And as if a wire had been jerked,the purple-haired, blood-shot-eyed, elderly, rouged dandy, the centerof a knot of ladies to whom he was playing the gallant, excused himselfand crossed to his wife’s side. He had been all cordiality and civilitythat morning in his office at the Barracks in the Rue de l’Assyrie; hewas cordial and civil now, as he insinuated his arm through Dunoisse’sand led him this[Pg 229] way and that amongst his guests, presenting him toladies, introducing men.

Limited as his opportunities had been of moving in those social circlesto which his mother’s rank, no less than the Marshal’s wealth, wouldhave given Dunoisse admission, he displayed no awkwardness—was nothandicapped by the shyness that is the young man’s bane. His perfectmuscular development lent easiness and grace to his movements; the opencandor and simplicity that characterized his regard and address mighthave been subtlety, they disarmed criticism so completely and won uponprejudice so well.

The gathering in the de Roux’ drawing-room represented all ranks andclasses of Society, severely excepting the exclusive circle of theFaubourg Saint Germain. There were Dukes of Empire creation with theirDuchesses, there were Peers of the Monarchy now defunct. Politicians,financiers, editors, and dandies rubbed shoulders with stars of thestage, and comets of the concert-room; painters great and small, andfashionable men of letters. You saw the youngest of all famous poetswith his radiant blue eyes, slim upright figure, auburn locks andbeard, and unquenchable air of youth. And Chopin, animated, and glowingwith the joy of life, illuminated with the fire of genius, hectic withthe pulmonary disease that was to kill him a year later; and Liszt,iron gray, fantastically thin, at the height of his infatuation forMadame Daniel Stern. You saw Delacroix in the first bloom of success,and Ingrés, long established on his throne of fame, gray-haired andstout, robust and plain, commonplace until he opened his mouth tospeak—lifted his hands in gesture. And above all towered the massivefigure and leonine head of the man who had been speaking when Dunoissehad been announced.

But the majority of the male guests belonged to what Louis Napoleon wasafterwards to dub the “cream of fast and embarrassed Colonels,” andmany of the women were of the dashing, dazzling, voluptuous type thatde Musset had immortalized by a single word. The lionne of 1848was ere long to be transformed into the cocodette of the SecondEmpire, and in the process was to lose the grace[Pg 230] that is woman’swomanliest attribute, and shed the last feather of the angel’s wing.

Free from self-consciousness as he was, Dunoisse, with the taint ofthe blood shed upon the Boulevard des Capucines hot upon his memory,was not slow in awakening to the fact that the majority of the womenpresent regarded him with peculiar interest; and that many of theirmale companions turned eyeglasses his way. Questions, answers,comments, dealing with the abhorrent subject came to his ears ashe moved forwards, bruised like pelting hailstones, stabbed withhornet-stings.... Several of the ladies curtseyed ... some of thegentlemen bowed low; more than one feathered dowager styled him “SereneHighness” and “Monseigneur.”... And with a rush of angry blood to histemples and forehead, darkening still further his tawny-reddish skin,and adding to the brilliance of his black-diamond eyes, the young manrealized that the fact of Paris being in the throes of Red Revolutionhad not deprived, in such eyes as these, the newspaper-mooted questionof the Widinitz Succession of its vulgar charm. And that, on thestrength of the hateful episode at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,in combination with the intrigues of the Marshal, Sub-Adjutant HectorDunoisse had become a personage to fawn upon and flatter, to invite andentertain.

The band of crape about his sleeve began to burn him. The nowovercrowded drawing-rooms seemed suffocatingly hot. Madame de Roux hadbecome the invisible, attractive nucleus of a crowd of civilian coatsand blazing uniforms.... Dunoisse, alternately tempted by the thoughtof escape, teased by the desire to join that magic circle, was enduringthe civilities of a group of ogling ladies and grinning exquisiteswith what outward patience he could muster, when he encountered,through a gap in the wall of heads and shoulders, the gaze of a pair ofgolden-bronze eagle eyes, glowing beneath a vast white forehead crownedwith pale flowing locks of auburn hair.

For an instant he forgot his boredom, his desire to regain the sideof Madame de Roux, or to escape from the perfumed, overheated roomsto the space and freedom of the Club, or the familiar loneliness ofhis rooms in the[Pg 231] Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin. He was grateful whena surge of the ever-thickening crowd of guests brought him withintouch of the plainly-dressed, perfectly-mannered gentleman who wasthe elected chief and generalissimo of the Free Lances of Romance.But, as Dunoisse gained the Master’s side, the tall rounded shape ofMadame de Roux swept by, leaning on the arm of a white-haired generalofficer in a brilliant Staff uniform ablaze with decorations. Shenever turned her face.... The night of her luxuriant tresses, the paleoval of her cheek, the dusky sweep of her eyelashes stamped themselvesanew upon the young man’s consciousness, as her draperies, shimmeringpurplish gray as Oriental pearl through their veiling of black Spanishlaces, swept across his feet. He felt once more that heavy knockingin the breast as though the curtain were going up upon the play....And the scent of violets came to him with the breeze of her passing,strongly as though he stooped above the wet, dark, fragrant clustersin some woodland glade.... A knot of the purple blossoms had fallenfrom amongst her laces as she went by. They lay close to his foot.He stooped and picked them up with a hand that was not quite steady.And as he mechanically lifted the violets to his face, still lookingafter the swaying, smoothly-gliding figure, dwelling upon the beautyof a creamy nape upon which rested great coils of night-black hair,pierced with a diamond arrow, one heavy curl escaping, hiding in thedelicate hollow between the rounded ivory shoulders, vanishing in theberthe of lace that framed their loveliness, he started, forHugo spoke. The deep melodious voice said:


“It is the classic flower of Venus as well as the badge of Imperialism.And—he who receives it from so fair a hand and does not wear it mustneeds be very cold or greatly courageous.” He added, as Dunoisse’sbrilliant black eyes met his own: “I wear no violets, you see. Yet hadshe offered them....”

He gave a whimsical, expressive shrug. Dunoisse found himself saying:

[Pg 232]

“These were not given to me, but dropped in passing.”

The great master’s laugh, mirthful, mellow, genial, responded with thewords:

“Admit at least that the flowers were dropped most opportunely.”

“Monsieur, if the knot of violets were purposely detached,” saidDunoisse, “then they undoubtedly were meant for you!”

But he made no offer to resign the blossoms, and Hugo laughed again.

“They were not meant for me. Have no fear. I have drunk of a sweetphilter that renders men proof against enchantment. I kissed my child,sleeping in its cradle.... My wife said: God keep thee! when Ileft home to-night.”

The manner had a tinge of grandiloquence, the words did not ring quitetrue. Dunoisse, like all the rest of the world, knew that the boastedphilter was not the infallible preventive.... The scrap of tinsel thatwould sometimes show among the ermined folds of the kingly mantlepeeped out with a vengeance now.... And yet the man possessed a royal,noble nature; and a personality so simply impressive that, if he hadchosen to sit upon a three-legged milking stool instead of a carvedchair upon a tapestried dais, it would have seemed, not only to hisfollowers, a throne.

He went on to speak of the beauty of the lady of the salon, thrilledDunoisse by a hint of romance,—breaking off to say:

“But for you, who wear the uniform of M. de Roux’s regiment, there canbe nothing new to hear about Madame?”

Did a drop of subtle, cynical acid mingle with the honey of thetone?... Dunoisse was conscious of the tang of bitterness even as heanswered:

“Monsieur, I was recalled from Blidah to join the 999th of the Linebarely a month ago. And since then I have been absent on leave inEngland. I had the honor of meeting Madame de Roux for the first timeto-night. She interests me indescribably. Pray tell me what you know ofher....”

Hugo said: “Have a care! She wears the Violet in her bosom and the Beeupon her lips. And in the perfume of[Pg 233] the flower there is delirium—inthe honey of the insect a sting.”

Dunoisse said, hardly knowing that he spoke the words aloud:

“Divine madness, exquisite pain!...”

Hugo returned with a sphinx-like smile and a curious intonation:

“You have the intrepidity of youth, with its rashness. Be it so! Wemust all live and learn. And so you are but newly from Algeria!—thatexplains why you have the coloring, though not why you should possessthe shape and features of an Arab of the Beni-Raten—reared in one ofthe hawk’s-nest fort-villages of Kabylia—nourished on mountain air.Ah!—so you have ridden down the wild partridge on the plains at thefoot of Atlas, and felt on your eyes the kiss of the breeze of theDesert, and paused to breathe and rest beneath the thatch of somenative hut shadowed by date-palms or sycamores, built beside streamsthat flow through hollowed trunks of trees. And women as black asroasted coffee-berries have brought you whey and millet-cakes, andplatters of dried figs, and ripe mulberries in their dark hands deckedwith gold and ivory rings.”

So vivid was the picture evoked that Dunoisse knew the yearning ofhome-sickness, wished himself back again in the little house at Blidah,even to be bored by the trivial gossip of the garrison ladies, even tobe teased by the persistent drub and tinkle of gazelle-eyed Adjmeh’stambur. And the magician’s voice went on:

“You have asked of Madame de Roux.... Her father was a grandee ofSpain and famous general of guerillas. He was killed during thecounter-Revolutionary operations in Catalonia in 1822.... My fatherknew him and his lovely wife, who died of grief within a few yearsof the death of her brave husband.... She was a Miss Norah Murphy,an Irishwoman. And when you say that you say all. For that wet greenisland of the mystic threefold leaf and the deep echoing sea-caves,and the haunting melodies, is the spot of earth whereon the rebelliousAngels of both sexes were doomed by the Divine Decree to dwell untilthe Judgment Day. They are the Tuatha da Danaan—the Fairy Race of whomone must not speak unless as ‘the good people’; whose slender,[Pg 234]handsome, green-clad men woo earthly women and lure them away. Madamede Roux possesses a strain of that blood. It is to be traced in thedaughters of a family for centuries—I say nothing of the sons.... Andits gifts are the voice of music, the touch that thrills; the eyes thatweep and laugh together, the smile that charms and maddens, and thekiss that enthralls and beguiles....”

“They are hers?” came from Dunoisse, as if in interrogation, and thenrepeating the words with an accent of conviction: “They are hers!” hesaid, a rush of new sensations crowding in upon him, with the perfumestreaming from the tiny knot of purple blossoms fading in his hand.

“They are hers,” Hugo answered. “They were hers when M. de Roux metand married her: they were hers when as a bride of seventeen shefound herself established as lady-paramount and reigning Queen of hisregiment, in garrison at Ham. Life is dull in a military fortress,you will agree, to anyone but a gambler. For distraction one turnsnaturally to games of risk and chance....”

He smiled, but his smile was enigmatical:

“The most fascinating of all these is the game of Political Intrigueand Secret Correspondence. From a prisoner, interned for life withinthe Fortress, the young wife learned to play that game. Her teacher hadbeen a professional player, ruined through an ill-calculated move atBoulogne—an attempt ending in grotesque failure!”

Dunoisse knew that by the ruined player was meant the Pretender to theThrone Imperial of France.

“The beautiful Henriette was an apt pupil; she quickly mastered theFirst Gambit. I have heard it said that the pawn sacrificed on thatoccasion was—the lady’s husband, but whether that be truth or scandalI do not pretend to know.... But six years later her teacher crossedthe drawbridge in the blouse and fustians of a bricklayer, with a plankupon his shoulder. And since then”—the pale features of the speakerwere inscrutable—“his pupil has kept her hand in. For Intrigue is agame that a woman comes to play at last for excitement, though at firstshe may have played for love.”

He ceased and began to laugh, and said, still laughing,[Pg 235] while Dunoissethrilled with pity, anger and yet another emotion:

“It would be strange if so lovely and seductive a woman could conceivea genuine passion for a little unsuccessful adventurer who pronounces‘joy’ as ‘choy,’ and ‘transport’ as ‘dransbord,’ and whohas a long body and short legs. Though, to have suffered for an idea,even as false as the Idea Imperial, adds stature to the dwarfish anddignity to the vulgar, even in the eyes of other men. Besides, he was aprisoner ... unfortunate and unhappy.... Why should she not have lovedhim after all?”

Dunoisse said, with tingling muscles and frowning brows:

“Monsieur, do you hold that women are incapable of chivalry?”

He had raised his voice, and the clear ringing utterance made itselfdistinctly heard above the buzz of general conversation. And as hespoke a silken rustle went past behind him, and a breath of violetscame to his nostrils.... But Hugo was replying to the query in thegrandiose vein that characterized him....

“No, young man!—since from my place in the House of Deputies I beheldthe Duchess d’Orleans stand up single-handed against a whole nationin defense of the rights of a weak child.” He added: “In days such asthese the diligent student of Human Nature—the literary artist whowould add a new gloss to the Book of Mankind, discovers a pearl everyhour he lives. Have I not seen within the space of one week a Kinghooted from the Tuileries, a throne consumed by fire, a Constitutiontumbled into the dustbin, and the New Republic of France rise, radiantand regenerate from the ashes, and the dust and blood of Insurrection?And I am here to-night because I seek, at the first signal of hisarrival, to hasten to offer the hand of brotherhood to a NapoleonBonaparte who has freed his chained eagle, fettered his ambitions, andasks nothing better than to set the torch of Liberty to the pyre ofEmpire.” He added, as by an afterthought: “And also, I am here becauseI wish to look upon the face of Cain.”

The unexpected peroration hissed like Greek fire upon sea-water.Dunoisse stammered in bewilderment:

[Pg 236]

“Pardon, Monsieur! You said ... the face of Cain...?”

The answer came:

“Monsieur, in the interests of the public who subscribe to theAvénement, I should sincerely thank you if you would point outto me that brother-officer of yours who caused the men of his commandto fire upon the people assembled before the Hotel of the ForeignMinistry. Having looked upon his face, my desire will be gratified. Ishall have seen Cain!”

The words of dreadful irony fell like the iron-weighted thong of theknout upon bare flesh, lacerating, excoriating.... Hector Dunoisse,livid under his ruddy skin, rent between rage and shame, heldspeechless by the sense of the utter uselessness of denial, couldonly meet the piercing eagle-eyes of the wielder of the scourge. Andinfinitely wounding was the dawning of suspicion in those eyes, andworse the conviction, and worst of all the scorn....

Dunoisse had imagined, when he felt himself the target of greedy,curious glances and shrill piercing whispers, that this great man,aware of the undeserved, unmerited accusation under which he writhed,had looked at him with comprehension and sympathy. Now he found himselfbereft of these; the kindness had died out of the face, if it had everreally beamed there, and the vast white forehead rose before him likea rampart with an enemy behind it. His manhood shrank and dwindled. Hefound himself saying in the voice of a schoolboy summoned before thepedagogue for a fault:

“Monsieur Hugo, I thought you had heard all ... knew all.... Your lookseemed to say so, to-night—when first it encountered mine....”

The other answered with wounding irony:

“Previously to your entrance, the well-known fact that certainambitious Imperialist intriguers have put forward a claim of HereditarySuccession to the feudal throne of a small Bavarian principality, hadformed the topic of a brief discussion in which I took my share. Uponyour arrival you were indicated to me as the human peg on which theseadventurers hang their hopes. I was quite unaware of the personal claimyou have established upon the esteem of your fellow-beings by thewholesale butchery of the Rue des Capucines.”

[Pg 237]

He added, with a laugh that was vitriol poured into Dunoisse’s wounds:

“I am not ignorant that you have a certain reputation as a fencer anda duelist. It will be useless to challenge me, let me assure you!...I am sufficiently courageous to be called a coward for the sake ofmy children and my country, dearer even than they.” He scanned theyouthful, quivering face with even more deliberate intention....“You are even younger than I judged at first,” he said. “What maynot be looked for from the maturity of such a formidable being!...Paraphrasing Scripture, I am tempted to exclaim: ‘If you are as you arein the green tree, what may you not become in the dry!’ Personally,I am, in my character of poet and dramatist, your debtor. For everyclassical student knows that Tiberius was magnificently handsome—thatthe base and bloody Caligula was of a beauty that dazzled the eyes.But—who has pictured Judas otherwise than as a red-haired, blear-eyedhumpback? Who has imagined Cain as the reverse of swart, shaggy,hideous and terrible? No one until now! But when, after years of studyand preparation, I compose in Alexandrine verse the drama of theGreatest of all Betrayals—rely upon it that the Judas of Hugo will bemore beautiful than John!”

His laughter froze and lacerated Dunoisse’s burning ears like peltinghailstones. It ceased; and, touched in spite of himself by the mutebleeding anguish in the young, haggard face, he said roughly:

“Why do you not speak, sir? Why do you not defend yourself?”

Dunoisse’s palate was dry as ashes. He said with the despairing smilethat drags the mouth awry:

“Monsieur, it would be useless. I have read your article in theAvénement. You condemned me before you heard.”

The golden flame of Hugo’s glance played over him like wildfire. Thescrutiny endured but an instant. Then the master said, with a softeningchange of voice and face, holding out his hand:

“Young man, if you had been guilty of that crime you would beinfinitely miserable. And, being innocent, you are most unhappy. For noliving mortal, save myself, will believe you so!”

[Pg 238]

The hand-grasp was brief but significant. Next moment the giver waslost in the surging crowd of golden epaulets, flower-wreathed ringletsand well-powdered shoulders, Joinville cravats and curled heads ofmasculine hair.

The brilliantly-lighted rooms seemed to darken when the friendly facehad turned away. Dunoisse, wearied and discouraged, began to think oftaking leave. As he looked about for his hostess there was a bustlenear the door. The agitation spread to the confines of the most distantroom of the suite. Loud, eager voices were heard from the anteroom, theheavy crimson curtain was dragged back by no gentle hand.

A man in brilliant Staff uniform, the white-haired general officer whohad gone by Dunoisse a few moments before with Madame de Roux upon hisarm, appeared in the archway towards which the well-dressed mob nowpressed and surged. His eyes shone—his face had the pallor of intenseemotion and the radiance of unspeakable joy. He cried, in a loud,hoarse, rattling voice that carried from room to room like a dischargeof grape-shot:

“Prince Louis Napoleon is in Paris! He has arrived at the Hôtel duRhin!”

He tore his sword from the scabbard—held it gleaming high above hishaggard, radiant head, and shouted in stentorian tones:

“Long live the Emperor!”

And the scented, well-dressed crowd, revivified by the utterance ofthat name of ancient magic, inspired by the breath of an immenseenthusiasm, crazy with joy in the anticipation of what they knew not,echoed the shout:

“Long live the Emperor!”


France is the most womanly of all the nations. A man once possessedher who caused her such misery that she adored him as a god. He wrungthe tears from her eyes, the blood from her veins, the gold from hercoffers. He slew her sons in hecatombs, and yet she gave, and gave. Andwhen a dwarfish being of devouring passions and colossal ambitions roseup and said: “I bear the dead man’s[Pg 239] name. Worship me, living, now thathe is no more!” she gave him all she had.

To these Imperialists, the exile who had returned was not Charles LouisBonaparte, Prince-Pretender to the Imperial Throne. He was the Emperor.And as though he had been indeed the wearer of the little cocked hatand the gray surtout, they greeted the news of his return with a joythey themselves would barely have credited ten minutes before.

They laughed and wept tears of rapture that washed the paint from thefaces of elderly belles and ancient dandies, and rinsed the old leesof vice and vanity and selfishness from their hearts. Friends and foesembraced; strangers exchanged hand-clasps and congratulations. Thegolden Age had come again. Napoleon was in Paris. And the hubbub ofvoices grew overwhelming, in the ceaseless reiteration of two words:

“The Emperor!—the Emperor!”

Hugo said, raising his magnificent voice so as to be heard plainlyabove the Babel:

“Messieurs the Representatives of the New Provisional Government,Monsieur Bonaparte has at length returned from England. Let us who,having confidence in his pledges, have voted in his favor, go and sayto him: ‘How do you do?’”

And, followed by his fellow-wearers of black coats and tricoloredscarfs, he went out quickly. Yet others pushed their way into theanteroom, and began to rummage for hats, coats, and cloaks. As thebustle of their departure reached its climax, Dunoisse was conscious ofa breath of familiar fragrance. A silken rustle came behind him, and asoft voice reached his ear, saying:

“If only I dared follow them!”

It was Madame de Roux. And so bitter a spasm of jealousy clutchedDunoisse’s heart that he was shocked and confounded by the revelationof his own huge folly. Then, as the wood-flower’s perfume reached himin a stronger gust of sweetness, a whisper that thrilled said:

“Are you chivalrous?”

The voice added instantly:

“I overheard what you said just now.... Do not look round....”

Dunoisse stared straight before him. Rigid and immovable,[Pg 240] hemight have been taken for the colored image of an officer ofpiou-pious. Only his Algerian medals shook a little with thebeating of his heart. And the voice came again. It said:

“Think of me what you will!... I must speak to you! Remain afterthe others have left.... Wait in the gray boudoir at the end of thedrawing-room beyond this. Raise those violets to your face if youagree: drop them if you refuse!...”

His hand shook as he lifted the knot of drooping blossoms, pretendingto inhale their vanished scent. He heard her whisper:

“Thanks!” and the rustle of her silks and laces—distinguishable to himthrough the swishing and billowing and crackling of a sea of femininefripperies—passed on. And footmen with baskets of champagne and silvertrays of glasses, light as bubbles, began to circulate through thecrowd; and the explosion of corks, the gurgling of the foamy wine,the pledging of loyal toasts and the clinking of glasses heralded theconversion of a festival of sentiment into a lively night.

Amidst the popping, clinking and toasting, Dunoisse passed from thelarger drawing-room into the smaller, less crowded salon beyond, andpresently found himself in the little boudoir.

It was a charming, cosy nest with purple-gray silken hangings, itsebony furniture upholstered with velvet of the same shade, the black,shining wood inlaid with silver wreaths, fillets and ribbons in theunfashionable Empire style.

Lofty in proportion to its size, it boasted a painted ceiling of nymphsand satyrs dancing in a woodland glade, exquisite enough to have beenthe work of Boucher. A bright fire burned in the fireplace of steel andbronze; tall double-doors left ajar gave a peep of a bedroom, perfumedand pink as the heart of a moss-rose; the deep chairs and wide divansuggested slumber. A black-and-tan King Charles’s spaniel of Englishbreed, all floss-silk curls and blue ribbon bow, slept in a basketon the chinchilla hearthrug; there were books in ebony book-cases:a volume of the plays of de Musset, bound in white vellum, lay openupon an ottoman; the “Fleurs du Mal” of Baudelaire peeped from adainty work-basket from which a strip of ecclesiastically-patterned[Pg 241]embroidery trailed; and violets in bowls of Sèvres and groups of thewhite narcissus in tall Venetian vases made the air heavily sweet.

It was a nest for confidences, a place for revelations and confessions.It contained no pictures beyond a few frames of miniatures, allmasculine portraits by famous hands, and one fine full-length,life-sized oil-painting, within a massive carved and gilded frame ofthe period of the Regency; representing a voluptuously-beautiful woman,in the habit of a Cistercian nun, standing upon a daïs covered withblue-and-gold tapestry in a pattern of fleurs-de-lis. Behind herrose a marble altar, its Tabernacle, surmounted with a pointed arch andthe Cross, towered overhead, and one white, dimpled hand of the fairwoman grasped a Crucifix, and the other was outstretched in the actof taking from the altar a Crown of Thorns.... And at her feet, bare,ivory-white, daintily-small and pink-toed, were scattered kingly crownsand jeweled orbs and scepters. And from her loosened coif streamedgolden tresses, and her proud uplifted eyes blazed, not with theheavenly fires of Divine Love, but with the lurid flames of Hell....And in her Satanic pride and imperial arrogance of beauty she seemed tolive; and send out subtle electric influences that dominated and swayedthose who dwelt within the reach of them, not for good but for evil andmisery, and the wreck of bodies and souls.

And Dunoisse looked at the portrait, and the red lips seemed to smileat him. And while they appeared to whisper “Stay!” unseen hands pluckedat him, as though striving to drag him from the place; and a thin voiceof warning fluttered like a cobweb at his inner ear, urging him tobegone and lose no time about it. Perhaps wan Sister Thérèse de SaintFrançois was praying for him in her cell at the Carmel of Widinitz.But all the champagne he had not tasted seemed boiling in his veins,and he gave back the smile of the proud, voluptuous, painted lips, andwas drawing near to decipher an inscription on an ornamental scroll atthe bottom of the Regency frame, when there was a rustle and whisperof silken draperies in the doorway, and he turned to meet the eyes ofHenriette.

She was radiant now with triumph—she sparkled like a[Pg 242] starry night inmidwinter. She drew deep breaths as though she had been running, andlovely tremulous smiles hovered about her mouth. She lifted her littlehands as the first bars of a waltz marvelously played upon a brilliantinstrument, rang out, and the rhythmical sound of dancing feet began tomingle with the music and the gay din of chattering tongues, and saidwith a sign that bade him listen:

“Do you hear?—they are dancing over the grave of the Monarchy. Theyhave turned my reception into a ball. What the Augustinian Sisters willsay to me I cannot imagine!... The outer gate closes at eleven.... Theymay go on like this until day.... M. Chopin has volunteered to play forthem.... He is mad, like everybody else to-night. Decidedly it is aswell you came here without waiting.” She added, a little incoherently:“What times we live in!—what events may not happen now! Oh! thatwaltz, how it distracts me! How can he dare to play like that?”

She pressed her small white hands against her temples, lifting fromthem the weight of hair, and sank down, panting a little still, uponthe gray velvet divan, saying:

“Ouf!—my head aches. What was it I wanted to say?—I have forgotten!Do sit down! Here, beside me—you will not crush my dress.... We arenot likely to be disturbed.... M. de Roux has gone to the Hôtel du Rhinwith General Montguichet and a dozen other gentlemen—the rest areengrossed with their partners. What I wished to say to you was—Takethis advice as from an elder sister. When you are summoned to answerbefore the Court-Martial for that—affair of the Rue des Capucines——”

He had fixed his eyes on the beautiful mobile mouth. Was he deceived?Did he really hear it say:

“Say that you gave the order for the men to fire. It will be the wisestcourse. Oh!—I know what I am talking about! No harm will come to you!You understand me, do you not? Only admit it—do not deny!”

Dunoisse rose up from the divan as pale under his red skin as when Hugohad asked him to point out the modern parallel of the primal murderer,and said in ice-cold tones:

“I have already had the honor to point out to you, Madame, that I didnot give the order!”

He vibrated with passionate resentment. What—under[Pg 243] the guise ofsisterly kindness, was he advised to leap the cliff?

But a face brimming with sweet penitence was lifted to his. She said,summoning her dimples to play by mere force of will, bidding her eyesgleam through a soft veil of dewiness:

“Do not be angry!—it was a stupid joke. Must one always be so seriouswith you? And—I am a little mad to-night, as I have told you. It isexcusable.... Pray forgive me!—sit down again!”

She stretched out a little hand, its delicate fingers curling liketendrils. They touched his—his heart leaped as they clung. He satdown again. And the waltz, played by the master-hand, ebbed away,dying in waves of sensuous sweetness, and a Polish mazurka, after apeal of crescendo chords that shrieked with frantic merriment, sprangshort-skirted and flourishing belled scarlet heels, from the bewitchedinstrument, to take its place. And Dunoisse, with throbbing senses,tore his eyes from the enthralling face, and raised them to meet theproud, voluptuous, defiant glance of the nun in the portrait. And herred lips seemed to say: “Why not?” He asked involuntarily:

“Who is she?”

Henriette’s soft voice answered, with a curious tone in it:

“Everyone who asks says ‘Who is she?’ as though she lived. Butshe died in 1743. The portrait used to hang over the fireplace in theCommunity Hall. I will not tell you how it comes to be where it isnow—it is a secret. She who tramples upon those crowns and scepterswas Louise Adelaide de Chartres, second daughter of the Regent Philipped’Orléans. She became Abbess here when eighteen, and died Abbess ofChelles. She was divinely beautiful and of ungovernable passions....The suite of immense rooms that were hers in the main building of theAbbaye are never used. They are always shut up, and no one ever goesinto them alone.”

She added, with a strange laugh:

“It is considered dangerous, even in the daytime, to enter without acompanion. The Sisters say that shrieks and the rattling of chains areheard there on certain nights in the year, and that the floors arefound to be stained with[Pg 244] new-shed blood. They think that her soulcomes back there to expiate the acts of cruelty she perpetrated uponher nuns; and her terrible excesses, in frightful scourgings, andtortures such as cannot be conceived.”

Seeing Dunoisse’s look still fixed upon the portrait, she went on:

“She was a witch. She bewitched her lovers,—she has bewitched you—youcannot take away your eyes. Ah! if you do not recoil from the sightof her, knowing her to be so wicked, there should be hope for me! ForI—oh!—how can I tell you?...”

She was weeping,—the shining tears were making their way between thefingers of the little hands she clasped over her eyes. Her white bosomheaved with sobs. And the mazurka, played by the mighty master, jerkedand shrilled and leaped in spasms of frantic merriment, and men andwomen, intoxicated with pleasure and heated by wine, yielded themselvesto the furious excitement of the dance. And Dunoisse was at the sideof Henriette, pleading with her in a voice that shook with emotion,to be calmer!—and presently found himself possessed of one of thelittle hands. He won a glance, too, of eyes that shone out of a pale,tear-drenched face, like moss-agates seen through running water, andanother by-and-by....

To shed real tears and be lovely still—what a gift of the fairies!They have it as a birthright, the Henriettes. My Aunt Julietta, cryingher poor eyes out in the shadow of a four-post mahogany bedstead ofBritish manufacture, with cabbage-rose-patterned chintz curtains,over a masculine profile discovered in the background of a coloredfashion-plate in the month’s issue of The Lady’s Mentor, andsupposed to bear a soul-rending resemblance to one who was to be forever nameless, inspirer of an early love that had bloomed in a railwaycarriage, and shed its leaves as the train snorted its way out ofDullingstoke Junction—was not a pretty or pathetic spectacle. With hertip-tilted nose thickened by the false catarrh of tears—her slenderframe convulsed with the recurrent hiccough of hysteria—what masculineeye would have lingered upon my aunt?

But Henriette and her sisters can ride on the whirlwind of theemotions, without disarranging a fold of their[Pg 245] draperies,—go throughwhole tragedies of despair without reddening an eyelid,—sorrowbeautifully without spoiling the romance of a situation with onegrotesque blast upon the nose. This Henriette said, lifting a sweetquivering face and drowned eyes to Dunoisse’s agitated countenance:

“Oh! let me cry,—it eases the heart!—and listen, for you must believeme!...”

Voices sounded beyond the threshold, the door-handle was rattledloudly. As the door opened, Henriette turned with a rapid, supplemovement, and said, indicating the portrait above the fireplace with asteady hand:

“As you remark, Monsieur, Madame d’Orléans did not pass her time insaying Paternosters.... But it is said that she repented, and died in astate of grace.”

She added:

“Perhaps she bewitched the priest who confessed her into grantingabsolution?... But no!... One cannot be irresistible on one’s dyingbed.... And Death is frightful.... I have always dreaded it!... Couldyou kiss lips that are turning into clay?... For me, I should nevermuster courage!...” A real shudder went through her. She said, asthough to herself: “Oh, no, no, no! However much I had loved him, Icould not touch him then!”


The door shut softly. Those who had sought privacy in the gray boudoirhad retreated discouraged. No more intruders came near as the ball wenton. Pale faces had become burning crimson, flushed faces had darkenedto purple. A fog of powder, shaken from the faces and bosoms ofwomen, hung in the scorching, suffocating atmosphere, and made haloesround the wax-lights dwindling in gilt wall-sconces and chandeliers.Yawning servants renewed the candles as they were burned out. Not oneremembered those in the gray boudoir. And while they flickered low intheir silver branches, Henriette said to Dunoisse:

“Do you know the fortress of Ham?”

She continued before he could answer:

“Picture it as a hollow square of granite, set in the[Pg 246] middle of avast, treeless, marshy plain. It has a huge round tower at two of itsangles, a powder-magazine at each of the others. A sluggish canalcrawls beneath the south and east ramparts, a river winds across themarshy plain, passing beneath the walls of the town. There is only onegateway, guarded by a square tower,—you enter, and are in a greatcourtyard surrounded by lofty walls, commanded by heavy masses ofmasonry, with water oozing from the blocks of stone that sparkle withcrystals of salt-peter.... One building has grated windows—by that youknow it is a prison. Another is the Barracks—a third is the dwellingof the Commandant.”

She said, with a strange wild laugh, and a look of darkling remembrance:

“I spent my honeymoon there, as a bride of seventeen, eight years ago.You have noticed that I am very pale, have you not? It is becauseall my roses faded and died in that chill cavern of dripping stone.My schoolfellows at the Convent, who used to joke about ‘Henriette’sred cheeks,’ would not have known me. Indeed, I seemed a stranger tomyself.... The Tragedy of Existence had been revealed to me. I found itoverwhelming.... Perhaps I find it so still, but I have mastered theart of hiding what I feel.”

She was playing a scene as the Henriettes alone know how to play it.This atmosphere, vibrating with allusions, hints, references to hiddengriefs, quenched hopes and inward anguish, was the natural elementin which she breathed. From the quiver of her lips to the heave ofher beautiful bosom, every effect was thought out and calculated; noinflection of her voice but was intended to make its effect, as by anartist of the stage. And she went on:

“When a young wife lives by the side of a husband who is not young oramiable, or even kind—in a place such as I have described, somethingshe must love if she is not to die.... Thus Henriette learned toworship a Cause, and to devote herself, heart and soul, to an object.That was the Restoration of the Empire. She lives for it to-day!...”

Her eyes were like green jewels burning under the shadow of her duskyhair-waves. Her voice thrilled and rang and sighed. “Oh, how I thankedyou for those words[Pg 247] I heard to-night! What man except yourself wouldhave spoken them! Yes—women can be chivalrous!—women can live and diefor a conviction! My terrible confession is made easier by your belief!”

She paused and resumed:

“I aided the escape of the Prince Imperial.... I conceived the idea,thought of the disguise—provided the lay-figure that, dressed inPrince Louis Napoleon’s clothes, lay upon the bed in his prison-cell,while M. Conneau kept guard over the supposed sick man. And I gloriedin the success of the enterprise, and every louis I could obtain hassince been spent in furthering the Imperial cause. Ah, Heaven! how poorits only hope has been!—he who should wield a scepter, he who shouldhave dipped his hands at will in a treasury of milliards! How poor hestill is, it pierces the heart to know. Yet how many have exhaustedtheir resources in supplying that need of his: General Montguichet andM. de Combeville have been reduced to penury, Princess Mathilde andthe Comtesse de Thierry-Robec are impoverished by their gifts! Noble,self-sacrificing women!—without envying I have emulated them.... Yousee these rubies that I wear? Who would guess the stones were false?”

She lifted into the light a radiant forehead. Had you been there to seeand hear, you would have said with Dunoisse, “This is the voice—thatis the face of Truth!”

And yet, if those rubies had been carried to some expert, obligingdealer in such gewgaws, say Bapst-Odier, late Jeweler to his Majesty,111 Quai de l’Ecole,—they would—after that stately personage hadscrewed a microscope into his eye and submitted them to a brief butsearching examination—have fetched a really handsome sum.

A fib, then?... Ah! but while Henriette told it she believed it.The tale had seemed to need that one artistic touch of the falsejewels heaving on the loyal bosom of the fair Imperialist. And yoursuccessful, irresistible deceiver is that he, or she, who, for the timebeing, succeeds in humbugging and duping and bamboozling Self.

Thus, when Dunoisse, gripped by a sudden spasm of anger and contemptand disgust, muttered:

“And he stoops to take alms—to subsist on funds so[Pg 248] gathered!Why not rather sweep the streets?” she continued, in a voice thatthrilled with genuine emotion:

“The Arabs tells you that rubies are drops of the hearts’ blood oflovers, shed countless ages ago, and crystallized into jewels by thealchemy of Time. Well, I would empty my veins to-day for the Empire, ifneed should arise!”

He looked at her and knew that she would do it. With what a spotlessflame she seemed to burn. Sweet, heroic zealot!—adored enthusiast!What man, thought Dunoisse, could hesitate to pour his own life outupon the trampled sand of a political arena if by the sacrifice thatwhite bosom might be spared the horrid wound!

“Judge, then, Monsieur, when it seemed, after long years, that thehour of Restoration might be approaching,—when the throne began tototter under the paralyzing weight of the Monarchy,—when I saw France,languishing for a new breath to animate, new blood to revivify her,stretch her weak hands towards the quacks and charlatans who crowdround her sick-bed,—judge if I did not thrill and pant and tremble forthat absent one,—if I did not urge all those who recognize in PrinceLouis Napoleon France’s rescuer and savior, to exhaust themselves ina supreme effort to bring him to her side. And knowing him in urgentneed, deceived by English guile, betrayed by the specious promises ofthat powerful Minister who has only feigned to befriend him—I borrowedmoney.... Yes, it must be told....”

She stretched out the little hand and touched the gold lace uponDunoisse’s sleeve, saying with a wistful smile:

“Borrowing degrades—even when one borrows from a woman. You see, I donot spare myself.... I borrowed from a man.”

Dunoisse’s small square white teeth were viciously set upon his lowerlip. His black brows were knitted. His eyes were bent upon the carpet.He heard her say:

“A man who loved me.... Ah! what a coward I am, and how you mustdespise me! Who loves me, I should say!”

And the sentence was a knife in the heart of the poor dupe who heard.Words were wrenched from him with the sudden pain. He cried, before hecould check himself:

“Who is the man?”

[Pg 249]

And then, meeting her look that conveyed: “You have no right to ask”... he said with humility: “Forgive me! I was presumptuous and mad toask that question. Forget that I ever did!”

She gauged him with a keen bright glance, and said with a noble,melancholy simplicity that was as pinchbeck as her abasement of themoment previous:

“You are very young, or you would never have committed so great anerror. For if I loved him, I should never tell you for his sake, and ifI loved you——”

She registered his start, and finished:

—“I should never tell you for yours. But as I have no love left togive to any man: as the fountains of my heart have long been frozen attheir source—I will say this.... You and he were friends once, longyears ago, before he became an Under-Secretary at the Foreign Ministry.A cloud has shadowed your old friendship.... A misunderstanding hasthrust you apart. You know who it is I mean.”

A cloud had almost palpably come before Dunoisse’s eyes. Theirblack-diamond brilliancy was dulled to opaqueness, as he looked atMadame de Roux, and his lips, under the small black mustache, made apale, straight line against his burnt-sienna skin. And from them came agrating voice that said:

“You are speaking of M. Alain de Moulny. I saw you together inthe courtyard of the Hotel of Foreign Affairs a moment before thepistol-shot. And he——”

She stretched out, with a gesture of entreaty, her little hands,sparkling with the jewels that were such marvelous imitations, and yetwould have fetched a good round sum at Bapst Odier’s.

“Wait—wait! Do not confuse me. Let me tell you in my roundaboutwoman’s way! He——”

She drew her brows together; moved the toe of her little gray satinslipper backwards and forwards through the silky fur of the chinchillarug. How little of actual fact may be held to constitute the entiretruth, is a problem which confronts the Henriettes at every turn of theroad.

“We had had an appointment to meet in my box at the Odéon Theaterthat evening. M. de Moulny was to have brought me the money there.The disturbances[Pg 250] rendered it impossible that he could keep theappointment—the Ministry was guarded by troops—M. Guizot uncertainwhether the King would support or abandon him—dispatches andmessengers coming every moment, messages and dispatches every instantgoing out.... So I was to meet M. de Moulny in one of the more privatewaiting-rooms opening from the Hotel vestibule and receive the moneyfrom his hands. He is not rich—what younger son is wealthy? But wherethere is devotion—what cannot be achieved? He would do anything forme!”

She said, meeting Hector’s somber glance:

“I have heard it said that you are indifferent to women. If so, you arelucky. We bring nothing but misery—even to those we love!”

She swept her little hands upwards through the mass of curls upon hertemples, with her favorite gesture:

“I was leaving the Hotel—where my husband was dining with M.Guizot—when the great crowd of people, led by the drum and the RedFlag, filled the Boulevard, and seemed as though about to charge thesoldiers, who were drawn up along the railings motionless as statues,with their muskets at the present.... Upon a gray Arab, in command ofthe half-battalion was a young officer who interested me much....”

Invisible, red-hot needles pricked the listener all over. Thensomething icy cold seemed to trickle down his spine and escape throughthe heels of his spurred military boots. The speaker did not look inhis direction. Her downcast eyelids fluttered, a faint mysterious smilehovered upon the eloquent mouth.

“He sat his horse like a young Bedouin of the Desert, or such awarrior of ancient Greece as one has seen sculptured on the walls ofthe Parthenon at Athens. His skin was the ground-color of an Etruscanvase.... Cold though I am—ah! you cannot dream how cold I am!—I havenever been insensible to the beauty that is male.”

Under the covert of her eyelashes she stole a glance at the victim.

“I guessed who you were, of course!—you had been minutely describedto me.... But it pleased me to pretend ignorance. I said, pointing youout to M. de Moulny: ‘That must be the officer who has newly joinedus from[Pg 251] Africa. His type is rare—at least in my experience. It is areincarnation of the Young Hannibal. He has the rich coloring, the boldfeatures, the slender shape.... De Roux must present him. He will bringme purple stuffs and golden ingots and the latest news from Tyre.’ Andde Moulny answered, looking at you coldly: ‘He has millions of ingots,but he cannot give you them—unless he cares to break a vow.’ I said:‘So, then, you know my handsome Carthaginian?’ He answered: ‘I usedto, when we were boys at a military institute. It was he who inducedme to give up my intention of entering the Army.’ I asked: ‘How, then,Monsieur?... Are you so easily persuaded? What means did your friendemploy to alter your determination?’ And de Moulny answered, looking atme oddly: ‘A false step, and a broken foil!’”

The spider-web of fascination she had woven about Dunoisse wasweakened, perhaps, by the mention of de Moulny’s name. He looked atHenriette with eyes that had become harder and brighter. He waited forthe rest.

“Naturally, so strange an utterance roused my curiosity. I wantedto hear the story, if there is one? But M. de Moulny stuck out hisunderlip—perhaps you remember a trick he has;—and I thought: ‘Someday you shall tell me the rest.’ We talked of other things—standingthere under the portico. Of ourselves, France, the political crisisthat loaded the air with the stifling smell of garlic, of oldclothes, of unwashed human beings—that filled it with those criesof, ‘Down with the Ministry! Long live Reform! Give us no morethieves in velvet!’ and drowned them in the bellowed strophes of ‘TheMarseillaise.’ And as the crowd surged and roared and the Red Flagwaved like a bloody rag in the light of their torches, I asked of M. deMoulny—I cannot tell you why I asked it.... Perhaps one is fated tosay these things....”

Real emotion was beginning to mingle with feigned feeling. She liftedthe chain of rubies that encircled her round white throat as though itslight weight oppressed, and tiny points of moisture glittered on hertemples and about her lips. She said, touching the lips with a filmyhandkerchief edged with heavy Spanish lace:

“I asked of Alain, as the great crowd seemed about to rush upon thegates of the Hotel: ‘What would be, at this[Pg 252] juncture, the greatestmisfortune that could befall the House of Bourbon?’ He answered: ‘Thatyour young Hannibal should give the word to fire!’”

She imposed silence upon Dunoisse, who was about to break intoimpetuous speech, by laying a little velvet hand upon his lips, as shehad once laid them upon de Moulny’s. She kept the hand there as shesaid:

“Do not interrupt—it takes all my courage to tell this! I carrya loaded pistol upon all occasions—it is a habit I learned inSpain—in Algeria I found it of use. And I drew the weapon from itshiding-place,—I can hear my own voice saying as I did so: ‘One shotmight hasten the crisis.—What if I fired?’... And M. de Moulnysaid: ‘No, no! You must not!’ And I did! I pulled the trigger,and before the echo of the shot had died, and the salt blue smokecleared from before my face.”

She was at his feet, weeping, clinging to the shaking hands with whichDunoisse strove to raise her, choking with sobs, burying her face uponhis arm, wetting the blue cloth with real tears, entangling silkenshining strands of night-dark hair in the rough gold embroidery of theStaff brassard on the Assistant-Adjutant’s sleeve.

“This is my place! Let all the world come and find me here! I do notcare! What is humiliation if I can atone? Make no allowances or excusesfor me.... Do not say: ‘It was a moment of madness!’ Think of me asyour enemy and your destroyer! Ah! what a heart I must have to havesmiled in your eyes, as I did when we met this evening, and not havecried out at the first look: ‘Pardon! Forgiveness!—you whom I havewronged!’”

She drew some sobbing breaths, and said, lifting beautifultear-drenched eyes like pansies in a thunder-shower:

“Hate me for the cold, calculating selfishness—bred of the base desireto save myself from the taint of all that blood—the cowardly fearof the possible vengeance of Red Republicans—that led me to say toyou: ‘Take the advice of a sister. Say that you were guilty of thiscrime!’ For it is a crime. It has defiled my soul with stains thatcannot be wiped away.”

The supple red hands of Dunoisse tightened upon the little hands theyclasped. He said, looking in her eyes:

“The pistol-shot was yours. But he cried, ‘Fire!’”

[Pg 253]

She moved her lips soundlessly and nodded.

“I recognized his voice.... I should recognize it through the noise ofbattle—above all the tumult of the Judgment Day. It claimed paymentfor the false step—indemnity for the broken foil. Well, let him haveboth, and find his joy in them!”

He laughed harshly, and his grip was merciless. Yet she bore the painof it without crying out. His eyes had quitted her face—they werefixed upon the portrait of the nun-Princess of Orleans. And as thoughsome subtle, evil influence had passed from those proud voluptuouspainted eyes into his blood, he was conscious of the shaping of apurpose within him and the surging of a flood that was to carry allbefore it and undo the work of years.

“But one joy he shall not have....”

He hardly knew whether his own lips or another’s had uttered the words.But he looked down and saw Henriette at his feet, between his hands.And as his eyes fell upon the creamy treasure of the fair bosom thatheaved so near, Monsieur the Marshal, had he been enabled to look intothe gray boudoir at that particular moment, would no longer have beenable to say to Hector:

“You are an iceberg. You have Carmel in your blood!”

For the son of Marie Bathilde—carried away by a tidal wave of passion,such as had swept Sister Thérèse de St. François out from among thepallets of the Lesser Ward of the Mercy-House at Widinitz, out of hernun’s cell into the wild, turbulent ocean that rolled and billowedoutside the convent walls—was to yield, and take, and eat as greedilyas any other son of Adam of the fruit of the Forbidden Tree.

How it matures, the first bite into the sweet, juicy pulp! He hadseemed to Henriette a brilliant boy; obstinate and stiff-necked,scrupulous and absurd. Now she saw him transformed to a new being.Vigorous, alert, decisive, masterful, a man to be reckoned with, tobe feared while you deceived. And on the boiling whirlpool of passionher own light fragile craft began to dance, and rock, and spin inever-narrowing circles, as he said, with a strange smile that showedthe white teeth gleaming under the small black mustache, but set no gaylight dancing in the brilliant, cold black eyes:

“Have no fear. Try to believe me when I promise you,[Pg 254] upon my word ofhonor, that no harm shall come to you from—this that you have done.”

He stooped and kissed the little white hands, and said to their owner:

“Blood on these exquisite hands would be a horror. Well! fromhenceforth I take their stains on mine.”

She faltered in real agitation:

“What are you going to do?”

The lovely lips were very near his own, as he said, still smiling inthat curious way:

“I shall take the advice—not of a sister!”

She panted, shuddering closer.

“No, no! You must not——”

His eyes were fastened on her lips. Instinctively his own were drawn tothem. His hot kiss would have burned them in another moment, but thata chill breath seemed to flutter at his ear, and in a flash, he sawthe thing he was about to do in its true, ugly colors, and shame stungthrough and through him, and he drew back.

He had gathered of the fruit of Pleasure and plucked its gaudy flowersin the parterres where these things can be had at a price. He hademptied the frothy cup of Passion and paid its exorbitant bill. Butthough he may have coveted the mistress of another man, he had neveryet desired his neighbor’s wife.

De Roux might be a reprobate and a libertine, but he was Henriette’shusband. And she was not the pure, unattainable planet, the chaste,immaculate divinity he had imagined her; but yet she was a wife. Shefelt the change in him—saw the fierce, eager light die out in hisblack eyes, and rose up, saying hurriedly:

“How good you are!—how good! I shall rely upon your promise. We mustjoin the others now. It will not do to be missed!”

So they went out together and mingled with the spinning rout ofdancers, as the neglected wax-lights burned out in their silverbranches, and the waning moon peeped through the curtains of the grayboudoir. One pale ray touched the portrait of the witch-Princess ofOrleans, grasping the Crucifix in the dimpled hand that had neverscrupled to pluck Sin’s reddest flowers—treading crowns and sceptersunder the dainty, naked feet so many lovers had kissed as gayly theydanced downwards along the hellward path.[Pg 255] And surely the proud,sensuous eyes leered with wicked triumph, and could it be that thesmile upon the painted mouth had given place to laughter?


The General Court-Martial of Inquiry into the conduct of the juniorStaff-officer left in command of the half-battalion of infantrydetailed to guard the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon a day to bemarked with red upon the calendar, was held at the Barracks of the999th in the Rue de l’Assyrie, between the official hours of Eight inthe morning and Four in the afternoon.

One may suppose the pomp and solemnity of the affair, the portalsguarded by sentries, Monsieur the Judge-Advocate and his subordinatesin official robes, Monsieur the President and other stately cock-hated,plumed, bewigged personages of the General Staff, with the variousofficers convened as witnesses, solemnly filing in behind theProvost-Marshal and his guard—taking their seats, right and leftaccording to rank, at the T-shaped arrangement of tables,covered with the significant Green Cloth; everyone arrayed in fullReview-uniform, making the whitewashed mess-hall brilliant as a gardenof flaunting summer flowers.

They took the votes according to the time-honored custom, beginningwith the youngest person present. The Provost-Marshal and his merry menbrought the Prisoner in.

Dunoisse, without sword or sash, went calmly to the place of dread atthe bottom of the leg of the T of tables. Reporters for thePress were accommodated with a bench behind a board on trestles underthe high window at the bottom of the hall. The Orders and Warrants wereread, with clearing of throats and official hawking. And at each pause,from a balcony high up upon the plain bare wall behind the President’stable, came the silken frou-frou of ladies’ dresses and the rustling ofribbons and bonnet-plumes. And one heart among all those that throbbedthere, under its covering of silken velvet and sable-fur, was sick withhidden apprehension and cold with secret dread.

[Pg 256]

There was no challenge on the part of the accused officer when thePresident-General asked the question: “Do you object to be tried byme or any of these officers whose names you have heard?” He bowed andreplied, “No!”.... He had no suspicion of prejudice or malice lurkingunder any uniform present. And then, erect, in a rigid attitude ofrespect and attentive deference, the Prisoner listened to the readingof the Charge.

This occupied time, the process of Courts-Martial very successfullyemulating the pompous prolixity of tribunals of the Civil kind. Andwhile the python-periods dragged their tortuous length from sheet tosheet of official paper, Dunoisse found himself mentally travelingback to those early days at the Royal School of Technical MilitaryInstruction, when de Moulny was Redskin’s hero and faithful Achates,Mentor and Admirable Crichton all rolled into one. And butt onoccasions, it is to be added. For sometimes it is sweet to laugh at oneyou most sincerely love.

Thinking thus, he began to realize how in his loneliness he had clungto the memory of the old affection. How always,—always he had beenhoping that the barriers of estrangement and silence might be brokendown one day. That Alain might yet come to him with outstretched, eagerhand, saying:

“I have withheld my friendship all these years, that I might be ableto give you my esteem and my admiration. You have been tried by me asno friend was ever yet tried, tested to the utmost, and proved as nonehas ever been proved before you.... Was it not worth while to bearsomething to earn such praise from me?”

And now Dunoisse saw the god of his old boyish, innocent idolatrystripped of the false jewels and tawdry robes that had adorned him,his nimbus of gilt plaster knocked away. He began to understand howhe, Hector Dunoisse, had been his whole life long the slave, and tool,and puppet, and victim of this cold, arrogant, dominating nature;and resentment glowed in him, scorching up the last green blade oflingering kindness; and hatred leaped up in a little flickering tongueof greenish flame, soon to become a raging prairie-fire of vengeance,traveling with the speed of the wind that urged it on.

He clenched his hands and set his teeth, remembering[Pg 257] his long arrearsof injuries. He saw himself economizing uniforms, doing withoutnecessaries and comforts, slaving in spare hours to earn the money tobuy books and instruments—bound and fettered always by that egregiousvow.... Then a conviction started through him like the discharge froman electric battery. Malice was the missing key-word of the cipher thathad been so difficult to read.

Revenge for the spoiled career had prompted everything. No pleasureforegone, luxury denied, but had paid off some item of the old scorethat had been carved with the end of the broken fencing-foil. That thefalse step had been deliberately planned, de Moulny must have alwaysbelieved. He had told the story everywhere. And the taint of thatsupposed treachery had always clung about Dunoisse’s footsteps. It hadfollowed him through life.

Now he lifted up those glittering black eyes of his to the balconywhere bonnet-plumes were nodding as their wearers whispered of him....And he met the eyes of Henriette de Roux.

Those beautiful eyes!... Their owner had seemed to him upon that firstnight of their meeting a star and a goddess—something to dream of andworship from a long way off.

But before gray dawn had peeped in between the window-curtains uponthe whirling crowd of weary, hot-eyed dancers, he had learned to knowher better. The star was no celestial sphere, but an earthly planet,glowing with fierce volcanic fires; the dazzling robe of the divinity,now that she had descended from her pedestal, was seen to be stainedwith frailties of the human kind. But brought within reach, she was notless desirable. He thrilled at the recollection of that night in thegray boudoir.

Ah! those sweet lips that mingled Truth and Falsehood in such maddeningphilters! Ah! those bewitching eyes, how they promised, and coaxed, andcajoled! A shudder went through the man. For he saw again, more clearlyby their light, the pleasant pathway that went winding downwardsbetween banks of gorgeous, poison-breathing flowers. And a soft,insinuating voice seemed whispering, prompting; telling him that witha tithe of the great sum[Pg 258] of money that had lain growing for so manyyears at Rothschild’s, could be purchased the sweet, heady vengeancethat is wreaked in the satisfaction of desire.

And then ... he became aware that the labyrinthine verbosities of theCharge had reached a final period, and that Monsieur the Judge-Advocatehad a question to ask.

“Are you, Lieutenant Hector-Marie-Aymon von Widinitz-Dunoisse,Certificated of the General Staff, and Attached as Assistant-Adjutantto the 999th Regiment of the Line, Guilty or Not Guilty of the Chargebrought against you, and which I have now read in the hearing of thisCourt?”

The reply left little excuse for prolonged investigations. Thearraigned officer simply said:

“Monsieur, I gave the order to fire. I believed it necessary. I haveno excuse to offer—no plea to make. I submit myself absolutely to thejurisdiction of the Court.”

Which Court, at the end of this First Assembly, declined to continuethe proceedings, the prisoner having acted with a certain degreeof rashness, yet with the very best intentions, in the face of anemergency of the gravest kind. And, furthermore, having been severelyreprimanded in orders by his Colonel; and placed in and kept underclose arrest by the said commander, the said Court did ultimately findFurther Proceedings under the circumstances would be Unjustifiable, andrecommended that the said Prisoner be immediately Released, the chargeagainst him Not Having Been Proved.

And the grave farce was ended—the solemn jest played out, amidstthe rustling of draperies, and the nodding of bonnet-plumes, and theclapping of little kid-covered hands up in the gallery where the Bandplayed on guest-nights, and where at least one heart beat with infiniterelief.

Amidst a universal rising, saluting, putting on of plumed cocked hatsand white gloves, after official congratulations and some bowings andhand-shakings, the Assistant-Adjutant, plus his sash and sword,was free to go about his business, without that haunting sense of beinga marked man, under ban of the Second Republic of France. And Dunoisseput on his shako and went out into the sanded barrack-yard, walkingwith the step of the free. And an orderly of the Colonel’s presentlybrought him a little lilac note, addressed in violet ink, in the small,clear character,[Pg 259] exhaling a perfume that had haunted him, of late,persistently. And the little lilac note said:



Perhaps you know how Henriette received him? She took his hands andlooked long and softly in the clear-cut, vivid face, and said, whilegreat tears brimmed her white underlids and fell softly down her cheeks:

“Oh, you are noble! Why have I not known you before? Why must we onlymeet as late as this?”

And presently:

“What other man would be capable of such generosity? And you asknothing—you who might demand so much!”

De Roux was absent on official business. Dunoisse remained somehours, went away, and returned to dinner. Madame de Roux had a boxat the Italiens for that evening. It was perfectly proper that thesub-Adjutant of the 999th should escort his Colonel’s wife.

The opera was “Semiramide.” Carnavale was in the stalls, wearing thecrimson dress-coat dedicated to that special opera. On nights when“Der Freischütz” was given he appeared in apricot,—when “Lucia” wasperformed you saw him in pale blue. Giulia Gigi sang,—upon thatnight of all the nights the glorious artist reached the apex of hertriumph. The great pure voice flowed forth, the soul was caught uponand carried away by wave upon wave of wonderful music; the Opera-Housewas filled with them; the atmosphere, saturated with mille-fleurs andfrangipani, was electrical with human passion. Dunoisse looked, notat the beautiful singer, who trod the stage and sang as one inspired,but at Henriette.... Her head was thrown back, her transparent eyelidswere closed, her delicate nostrils quivered, her throat throbbed andswelled. The curve of it suggested the swan dying in melody. ForDunoisse the music was she. She sat forwards upon her chair of velvet,and the diamond cross upon her bosom wakened into vibrant light andsank into[Pg 260] soft suggestive shadow as she drew and exhaled deep, sighingbreaths. Below the line of her short glove a blue vein leaped in herdelicate wrist. To see it was to long to kiss it. Dunoisse’s eyes couldnot keep away.

And Gigi sang more and more divinely, and at the end of her greatestscena, sweeping off the stage like a human tornado, you might,had you been sitting in the shadow of velvet curtains, in a certainbox upon the Grand Tier, occupied by two people who hardly looked atthe stage, have seen her seize from the grasp of a giant fireman in ashining helmet, tight shell-jacket with enormous shoulder-straps andcavalry trousers, a glittering pewter—pour down that statuesque throatof hers a copious draught of English porter, frothing, mellow, andmild; kick out her imperial train with one backward movement of a foottoo solid for a fairy’s, and storm back again amidst the thunderingcries of “Bis!” and “Brava!” to grant the demanded encore.

Who grudges the Gigi her porter? I have seen the nightingale, thatunrivaled soloist, at the finish of a marvelous series of runs andtrills, a fine frenzy of jug-jug-jugging, look about him, preen hissnuff-colored breast-feathers, and presently hop down to a lower branchand help himself to a snack. Why, then, should we chide the prima-donnafor her draught of stout, or cavil at the grilled lobsters, risotto, ormacaroni dressed with chillies and tomatoes, that her soul loves? Forare not these, by the alchemy of digestion, equally with the earwig,woodlouse, or grub of the other singer, transmuted into heavenly sounds?

Henriette said to Dunoisse, as the great waves of melody broke overthem:

“You said that night in the boudoir that you would not take advice fromme as a sister. But I am your sister!—nothing but your sister! Let usmake a compact upon that?”

Dunoisse agreed, without enthusiasm. She thanked him in a velvetywhisper. Presently she said:

“If all men were as noble as you, this world would be a happy place forwomen. How wonderful to have met a nature such as yours! Another manwould have kissed me—that night when I made my terrible confession.But I knew that I was secure,—I rested upon your honor. Let it bealways thus between us. Let me always feel when[Pg 261] I am with you that Iam a soul without a body—a pure spirit floating in clear ether with myfriend.”

Dunoisse gave the promise with obvious reluctance. Then they talkedabout the music energetically. But presently, when the greatgilded chandelier soared up into the artificial firmament of thedomed ceiling, and the stage-lights were lowered, and the flatsparted—revealing the Tomb of Ninus, by the pale mysterious rays ofthe calcium moon—a cheek that was warm and satiny, and glowing as anectarine plucked from a south wall in the ripening heats of July,brushed Dunoisse’s—and his trumpery promise broke its gilded string,and flew away upon the wind of a double sigh.

De Roux looked in to escort his wife home, at the conclusion ofthe opera. He had been winning at cards,—was smiling and urbane,and Dunoisse, looking at the dyed, red-faced, dissipated, elderlydandy, knew the sickness of loathing. De Roux had shown him civility,courtesy, even friendliness, yet he hated him with zeal and rancor.He watched the Colonel as he wrapped his beautiful wife in her erminemantle—the same that she had worn, Dunoisse remembered, upon theevening of the bloodshed at the Hotel of Foreign Affairs. And as thealmond-nailed, plump fingers of one of the Colonel’s well-kept, ringedhands touched Henriette’s bare shoulder, she winced and shuddered. Hermouth contracted as though to stifle a cry—her long eyes shot a glanceat her friend that seemed a mute appeal to be saved from the indignityof that touch.... And so fierce was the jealous impulse urgingDunoisse to dash his clenched fist into the gross, sensual face of herpossessor, that he was fain to thrust his tingling right hand deep intohis trouser-pocket and clench it there until the glove split.


The Bonaparte, upon a strong hint received from Citizen Lamartine, didnot make a protracted stay in Paris. He returned to the savage scenesof his exile, suffering eclipse behind the curtain of fog envelopingthe barbarous island of Great Britain, until an early date in June.But previous[Pg 262] to departure, he held a reception of his friends andsupporters, followed by a supper, to which only intimate acquaintanceswere invited, at the Hotel du Rhin in the Place Vendôme. For theearlier function Dunoisse received a card.

The first-floor suite of rooms, occupied by the hope of theImperialist Party, boasted a certain pompous splendor. There weregilded wall-decorations, velvet hangings, ormolu and marble consoles,clocks and mirrors topped with perching eagles, carpets patterned withgarlands, masks, fillets and torches, high-backed settees with scrolledends; chairs of classical simplicity, tripod-pedestals bearing vases,all the worm-eaten and moth-riddled lumber of the defunct Empire,routed out of basements, dragged down from garrets by a time-servingmanagement eager to gratify their princely tenant’s hereditary tastes.

He thought all this rococo pseudo-classicism supremely hideous, forhis predilections were for the gaudy, the showy, the voluptuous, andthe bizarre, yet he gazed pensively upon these relics of anextinct era. His bedroom had a vast purple four-poster with a canopylike a catafalque, and a dressing-table, white lace over violet silk,suggestive of an altar in mid-Lent, that gave him the horrors. And itwas all as expensive as it was ugly, and every hour added to the lengthof the management’s Python-bill. Fortunate that funds supplied him byan anonymous adherent had plumped the cheeks of his emptying purse,otherwise Paris might have been treated to a spectacle that Londonhad witnessed before then—the pantomimic interlude of the PrincePretender, who, lacking the needful cash to defray mine host’s charges,had, minus his hatboxes and tin cases and hair-trunks, withgrievous lack of ceremony, been hustled to the door....

He received his guests of that evening with a bland, dignifiedpoliteness, even a certain grace, despite his awkward build, stuntedproportions, and heavy, sleepy air.

Badly dressed, in an egregious chocolate-colored evening coat with goldbuttons, trousers of the same color, wide at the hips, and with stripsof black silk braiding down the outer seams, he yet wore an air ofcomposed assurance, smiling pleasantly under his heavy brown mustache,moving his tufted chin about in the high stock embraced by[Pg 263] the cravatof white satin, adorned with emerald pins, flowing into the bosom of awaistcoat of green plush. Despite the star upon the chocolate-coloredcoat; and the crimson watered-silk ribbon that supported the GrandCross of the Legion of Honor, there was not one of his small band offollowers and adherents but looked more fit to play the rôle ofPrince than he.

They bore themselves with imperturbable gravity, these needyadventurers, most of them blown by the wind that had seemed to fill theslack sails of their master’s ship of fortune from Albion’s hospitableshores.... They took the stage at this juncture like the charactersin a Comedy of Masks.... You had the Pretender, the Confidant, theCouncillor, the Panderer, the Doctor, the Valet, and the Bona Roba—thelast discreetly kept out of sight. The Bravo was at that time inAfrica, to be recalled later on. And they played their several parts,with some stately change of title and trappings on the part of certainof the actors, to the fall of the curtain upon the Last Act.

You saw the Count Auguste de Morny, ex-Member of the Chamber ofCommerce,—afterwards to reign as the all-powerful Minister of the HomeDepartment under the Second Empire,—as a sallow, well-bred rake offorty, prematurely bald, erect if hollow-chested, faultlessly dressedin the becoming blue swallow-tailed coat with gold buttons, voluminousstarched cambric neckcloth, white vest, full-hipped black velvetpantaloons, and narrow-toed buckled shoes of the latest evening wear.Well-to-do, a familiar figure in Paris during the Monarchy, he held abetter reputation than his legitimate brother, the man of straw.

And he walked behind the Prince-Pretender now, through a lane ofcurtseying ladies and bowing gentlemen, outwardly urbane, inwardlyinfinitely bored by all that was taking place, yet conscious of itsprobable result upon the Bourse, and alert for intelligence respectingthe rise of certain stocks in which he was secretly a large investor.

His companion, some years his senior, and dressed in uniform fashion,was a personage infinitely more striking than the Count. The paleclassic oval of his aquiline-featured face, its high brow streaked witha few silken strands of chestnut, the deep blue eyes lightening frombeneath the wide arched brows, the sweet deceptive smile,[Pg 264] the roundchin with a cleft in it, are indelibly stamped upon the memory of theFrench people, whatever effigy appears upon the coinage of France.Colonna Walewski, son of the Great Emperor by the Polish Countess whowas faithful to Napoleon in exile as in defeat, inherited his mother’sfine quality of loyalty. In foul weather and fair, in disgrace as intriumph, in the heyday of the Second Empire as in its decline andcollapse, the Napoleonic Idea remained the religion of Napoleon’sbastard son.

His fellow-bastard, the wit and dandy, the politician and financier,less noble in grain than the brilliant soldier, the keen diplomat andthe man of letters,—you will always find upon the winning side.

As for Persigny, the Bonaparte’s parasite and inseparablecompanion,—who was to succeed de Morny as Minister of the Interior,and subsequently figure as Ambassador and Plenipotentiary at theCourt of a neighboring Foreign Power,—he looked like what he was;a dissipated ex-quarter-master-sergeant of cavalry grafted on arowdy buck-about-town. And Fleury, sensual, hot-headed, lively,bulldog-jowled, bold-eyed and deep-chested, heir of a wealthytradesman, ruined through women and horses, he no less than Persignyhad risen from the bottom sludge....

Elderly bloods, middle-aged dandies like their master, they dressedafter him, aped his tone and manner, rouged their dry cheekbonesand hollowing temples, set false tufts of curls among their dyedhyacinthine locks. Necessitous and creditor-ridden, even as he, theywere sharp-set and keen as ferrets for chances of rapine and plunder.And the day was coming when they were to be glutted with these, andcrawl after their leader from the warren, gorged, and leaving on thethirsty sand a wide, dark streak of blood.

“It was terrible crossing in the mail-packet,” said Persigny in answerto the question of a sympathizer. “M. de Fleury and myself sufferedabominably—the Prince not at all. There was something the matter withthe railway-line. We had to walk to Neufchâtel over the ballast andsleepers in thin boots of patent-leather,—imagine the torture to one’scorns!... But the Prince laughed at our grumblings—only when we missedthe Amiens train did he lose his sang-froid and stoicism. And[Pg 265] afterall, that delay proved to his advantage.... There was an accident tothe train we lost—thirty passengers killed,—many more wounded.... ThePrince’s lucky star has been once more his friend!”

The parasite’s voice, purposely raised, reached the little earsshadowed by Madame de Roux’s rich black tresses. She murmured as shesank in her deep curtsey, and emerged, radiant and smiling, from afoamy sea of filmy white lace flounces, to meet the gracious handshakethat was accorded to special friends:

“It is true, Monseigneur? You have escaped such perils as M. dePersigny describes?”

Said the little gentleman with the sallow face and the dull, lusterlessgray eyes, caressing the brown chin-tuft that was later to be dubbed“an imperial,” and worn by all ranks and classes of men:

“I fancy there was something of the kind. I hardly noticed. I realizednothing but that, after all my cruel years of exile, I was on the roadto Paris at last!”

He had been horribly seasick during the Channel crossing, and hadbestowed heartfelt curses on the broken granite of the railway-line.He had paled and shuddered at the thought of the smash in which hemight have been involved. But to come up to the Idea Napoleonic, itwas necessary to be heroic. And with so grave a face and with suchimperturbable effrontery did Persigny hold the candle, that the personbelauded ended by believing all that was said.

Even now, to many of his friends and supporters, the shadow ofthe purple Imperial mantle gave dignity to the wearer of thechocolate-colored coat, green plush waistcoat, and big-hipped, braidedtrousers. His own faith in his Mission and his Star lent him the powerto convince and to impress.

His was not a star of happy omen for England, who sheltered andbefriended him with the kind of good-humored pity that is not unmixedwith contempt. Plagued with the gadfly of debt, tormented by theTantalus-thirst of the born spendthrift who sees gold lavished by otherhands, and who has never funds at command to dissipate, what rage andhatred must have seethed under his smooth ingratiating demeanor, when,with one or another of his henchmen at his elbow, he sat down to thelavish table[Pg 266] spread by the sumptuous mistress of Gewgaw House, orplanned landscape-gardens with the master of Brodrick Castle.

That had been for years his fate, to fawn for bare subsistence uponthose he hated. Compelled to this, the son of proud, faithless,extravagant, voluptuous Hortense must have suffered the pains of Hell.Not a hell whence Hope was altogether banished. He had hoped when hemade the attempt on Strasburg; had hoped when the body of the GreatEmperor was solemnly removed from St. Helena to be magnificentlyinterred in Paris. Still hoping, he had hired a London-and-Margatesteamer, a husband’s boat, for himself and his party of sixtyadherents; had purchased a second-hand live eagle, trained to alightupon its owner’s shoulder for a gobbet of raw meat; had landed, withthis disconsolate bird, at Vimereux, near Boulogne; had hugged theColumn, attired in the historic uniform of the 40th of the Line; hadridden with his followers to the town Barracks, where were quarteredthe 46th; had ordered these warriors, per the mouth of asubaltern of their Regiment, to turn out upon the parade-ground; hadbidden them thrill at the sight of the eagle, swear loyalty to thelittle cocked hat—salute the nephew of their late Emperor, and marchwith him to Paris.

We are acquainted with the burlesque ending of that enterprise, thepricking of the balloon by the bayonets of National Guards—thepantomimic flattening of the Pretender and his followers beneath thecollapsed folds of the emptied bag, has been held up to the popularderision by innumerable caricaturists of the day. We are aware—I quotefrom an obscure comic publication of the period, long since dead ofits own indigestible wit—how the Boulogne Picnic began with Fowl, andended with Ham.... And yet, though the asserter of Imperial claimswas jeered at as a mountebank;—even though that marionette-invasionludicrously failed, how many grave and weightily-important personageshad not the Prince-Pretender infected with his own conviction, that tohim, and to him alone, had been entrusted the lofty mission of saving,elevating, ennobling, delivering France....

He murmured now, looking at Henriette between half-closed lids, witheyes that appraised every charm, and took deliberate stock of her wholearmory of beauties:

[Pg 267]

“I had too much to think of, dear friend, to heed the perils of theroad. But those who accompanied me, ready to share triumph as they haveshared Failure,—it would have touched you to witness their emotion asthey realized how nearly Death had quenched their hopes. They do notunderstand yet at what a price the exile has purchased repatriation.To-night will bring home to them the knowledge of this. Ah! here is M.Hugo, charged with the revelation. I fear it will be a painful one foryou!”

“Sire ...” she breathed in distress. He corrected her imperturbably:

“Neither ‘Sire’ or ‘Monseigneur,’ I beg of you! Follow the example ofM. Hugo—let me be plain ‘Monsieur.’”

And as though to bear him out, the splendid voice of Hugo utteredresoundingly:


And beaming with cordial smiles, the great Conservative Republicanadvanced towards Louis-Napoleon, while some half-dozen other wearersof black coats and tricolored sashes pushed through the press towardsthe orator, who was later to array himself, with all his forces ofeloquence, learning, irony, and enthusiasm, upon the extreme Left.

“Monsieur...” he began, while his Burgraves took up their positionright and left of their Barbarossa, and the short gentleman in thegreen plush waistcoat stood still, with the little jeweled hand ofMadame de Roux resting on his chocolate-colored sleeve: “Monsieur,when a few days back in the new Constituent Assembly of the SecondFrench Republic the question was raised: ‘Shall the nephew of theEmperor Napoleon be readmitted into France?’ I and my comrades, havingconfidence in your pledges, voted in your favor. We extend to you nowour welcome upon your return, not as the Pretender to the ImperialThrone, but as Bonaparte the good citizen; who seeks, not to rule men,but to represent them; not to be deified, but to serve. And in the nameof Liberty and Peace and Freedom—I offer you my hand!”

The hand went out with its large sweeping gesture. The little gentlemanstood stock still. His white-kid gloved fingers played with the blackribbon of his eyeglass. He said, with the drawling snuffle thatcharacterized him, and with so subtle a burlesque of the pompous mannerof the[Pg 268] orator that those who were most stung to indignation by themockery were unable to repress a smile:

“Monsieur ... the Second Republic of France is now established upon abasis that can never be undermined. As I am not a genius, I entertainno ambition to emulate the career of my glorious uncle,—Integrity andHonor, bareheaded, are preferable to crime that is crowned. Give me,then, the name of Napoleon Bonaparte, the honest citizen.... I preferthat to the title of Napoleon, the Emperor of France!”

He added, addressing himself to Hugo with an air of confidentialsimplicity that painted a faint grin upon the faces of de Morny andWalewski:

“I am told, M. Hugo, that during the recent reign of the barricades, nomilk-and-butter carts could penetrate into Paris, and that her citizenswere obliged to be content with chocolate made with water,—dry rolls,and café noir. Well!—let us see to it that not only milk andbutter, but wine and honey flow during the New Era, and that thestreets shall be repaved with hams and sausages. And in place of theplanes and acacias that have been decapitated, let us plant fig-trees,olives and vines.”

He bowed with much grace, considering his disadvantages of figure,and moved onwards, stepping deliberately as Agag, with the littlehigh-arched feet in the wonderfully-polished boots that were nobigger than those of a pretty girl. It stamps him—who was undeniablypossessed of a mordant power of irony,—as being devoid of the savinggrace of humor, that he should, during the period of his Americanexile, have conferred upon a throbbing feminine devotee and partisanone of these shiny leather boots of his—which the possessor employedalternately as a receptacle for flowers, or as a repository forembroidery-silks; or merely as an object of peculiar veneration,preserved under a glass-case.

He said in the ear of Madame de Roux, as exclamations, comments,ejaculations, broke out on all sides, in tones of consternation,satisfaction, exasperation, not to be repressed:

“What do you say, dear friend? Is not the ax laid to the root of theViolet with a vengeance? Shall we not cultivate our cabbages henceforthin tranquillity and peace?”

[Pg 269]

He added, as with an ineffable air of conquering gallantry he handedthe beautiful woman to a sofa, and placed himself beside her:

“Tell me that I have kept my promise, given that day when you walkedwith a poor prisoner on the ramparts of the Fortress of Ham.... ‘Ifever I return to France,’ I said, ‘I will hold this little hand upon myarm as I receive the congratulations of my friends.”

“Ah! but, Monsieur,” said Henriette, all pale and quivering, “yourwords were, ‘When I return to France in triumph!’ and this——”

She broke off. He ended the sentence, saying with a shallow, glitteringlook:

“And this is not triumph, but humiliation. I understand!” He pulled atthe flowing goatee, and added, in his mildest drawl:

“Let me remind you that the ancient Roman triumphs, as represented atthe theater, invariably begin with a procession of captives and spoils.Imagine yourself at the Français, seated in a box. And consider thatthough it hardly befits an Emperor to play the part of a slave, unlessat the feet of a lovely woman, yet the slave may be promoted to thepart of Leading Citizen. And from the armchair upon the platform behindthe tribune, might be wielded, on occasion, the lightnings that slayfrom a throne.”

Even as he uttered the words, a witty woman of society was saying inthe ear of a depressed Imperialist:

“Ah,—bah! Why are you so dismal? This is only another move in theeternal game of the Cæsars. Did Nero scruple to lick the dust in orderthat he might reign? To me, behind that leaden mask of his, he seemedto be bursting with laughter. Depend upon it, Badinguet is clevererthan any of you believe!”

“Badinguet” or “Beaky”—those were among his nick-names—the pigmy whoaspired to the ermined mantle of the tragic giant, and the throne underthe crimson velvet canopy powdered with Merovingian bees.

Doubtless, in the eyes of many another besides the brilliant speaker,he seemed as absurd, grotesque, mirth-provoking an object as anyPunch-puppet. But later, when Punch was gilded thick with stolen gold,and painted red with human blood, he was to assume another aspect. For[Pg 270]Life and Death were in his power. And the world laughed no more.


He said to Henriette now, stroking his mustache, and giving another ofthose dull, inscrutable glances:

“No!—the President of the Democratic Republic of France would neitherbe destitute of the power to strike his enemies or the ability toshower honors and rewards upon his friends.”

She dropped her white, deep-fringed eyelids, and said, almost in awhisper:

“True friendship seeks no honors, and is indifferent to rewards.”

Only that morning he had received a letter from another woman, young,beautiful, and heiress to vast estates. She offered him all her wealth.He was to use it as he would. She made no conditions, stipulated for norepayment. She was perfectly disinterested, just like Henriette.

And on the previous day an elderly person with two wooden legs, whohad once been a popular actress in vaudeville, and who kept thenewspaper-kiosk in front of Siraudin’s at the angle of the Boulevarddes Capucines and the Rue de la Paix, had made a similar proposal.

“Monseigneur,” she had said, as he gave her a small gratuity inpassing, “deign to permit a word?” She added, as Monseigneur signifiedpermission: “See you, they tell me you are uncommonly tight for money;do not ask who they are—everybody knows it. And I am not so poor butthat I have three billets of a thousand francs laid away as a nest-egg.Say the word, and I will lend you them—you shall pay me back withinterest when you are Emperor of France.”

Kate Harvey and the newspaper-seller were more honest than the rest ofthem....

Kate had said:

“Look here, old pal, here are fifty thousand shiners it took me a heapof trouble to rake together. You shall have ’em to play with, only giveme I.O.U.’s for a hundred and forty thou. And a title by-and-by, whenyou are[Pg 271] Emperor,—something to make the proper folks at home twiddletheir thumbs and stare.”

That was plain speaking. He understood that kind of bargaining. Peoplewho asked nothing wanted most in the long run.

“Undoubtedly,” he now replied to Madame de Roux, “friendship like yoursseeks no return of favors. But the heart is relieved of its burden ofgratitude in the lavish bestowal of these....” He added: “Not thatobligations to you weigh heavily.... Yes, I have eaten the bread ofyour charity. That sum of twenty thousand francs—sent to me at thecommencement of the insurrection—the twenty-five thousand forwarded tome here on the evening of yesterday—anonymously—like other sums thatI have received from the same source.... Did you think I should notguess whose hand it was that traced the words, ‘From a Lover of theViolet, who longs to see the flower take root again upon the soil ofFrance’?”

She faltered, careful that the denial should appear hesitating andlabored:

“Monseigneur, you mistake.... I wrote nothing.... The money you speakof did not come from me!”

He shook his lank-haired head, and said in a nasal murmur:

“Do not deny it. The sheet of paper upon which the words were tracedbore no signature, it is true, but the handwriting could not bemistaken. Or the perfume, that recalled so much when I pressed it to mylips.”

Her beautiful bosom heaved. Her eyes seemed to avoid him.

“My lips, that were more privileged once.... Shall I tell you whatwords broke from them to-night when they announced you? Ask de Morny,who overheard. He will tell you that I said: ‘Thank Heaven, she is notchanged!’”

To be accurate, he had remarked to de Morny that night upon herentrance: “She is still charming!” and de Morny had answered:“And still ambitious, you may depend!

It suited him that women should be ambitious. All through those yearsof intrigue and plotting their ambitions were the rungs of the ladderby which he climbed.

She looked at him full, and her beautiful eyes were dewy, and her whitebosom rose and fell in sighs that, if not genuine, were excellentlyrendered. He went on:

[Pg 272]

“And yet you are changed. You were courageous and high-spirited—youhave become heroic. That shot at the Foreign Ministry.... A colossalidea! When I heard of it I applauded the stratagem as masterly. ‘Whoof all my friends,’ I wondered, ‘can have been so much afriend?’ Then your little message in Spanish was brought to me inLondon. I read it and cried out, to the surprise of de Morny and someother men who were sitting with me in the smoking-room of the CarltonClub: ‘Oh, that I had a crown to bestow on her!’ ‘Upon whom?’ theyasked, and I answered, before I could check myself, ‘Upon Henriette!’”

She breathed quickly as the instilled poison worked in her. The fierylight of ambition was in her glance. He saw it, and noted that herdress of filmy Alençon lace and the style of her jeweled hair-ornamentswere copied, as closely as the prevailing fashion would admit, from awell-known portrait of the Empress Josephine.... It tickled his mordantsense of humor excessively that a lovely woman should endeavor tosubjugate him by resembling his aunt deceased. But no vestige of hisamusement showed in his sallow face as he went on:

“But magnificent as was the service you rendered, I am glad that youhave escaped the pillory of publicity, and the possible vengeanceof the Reds. By the way, that young officer who proclaimed beforethe Military Tribunal, ‘It was I who gave the order to fire! Dowith me what you will!’ is here to-night. I told them to send himan invitation. His father was a valued General upon the Staff of myglorious uncle. I desired that he should be presented to me on thataccount. Pray point him out.”

Then, as the lace-and-tortoiseshell fan wielded by Henriette’s littledimpled hand, loaded with gems which surely were not paste imitations,indicated a young and handsome man in infantry uniform, who from theshelter of a doorway was gazing at her with all his eyes and his heartin them, the drawling nasal voice said:

“He loves you!... It is written in his face.... And I can even wishthat he may be happy.... Have I not my share of heroism too?”

“Monseigneur,” said Henriette, with an air of simple candid dignity,“in that young man you see a devoted[Pg 273] friend who is ready to give all,and to demand nothing in return.”

She had quite forgotten the kiss in the box at the Opera, and a gooddeal more besides. But when the Henriettes prefer not to remember anepisode, it is as though it had never occurred. She continued in hersoft, thrilling tones:

“Nothing save absolute trust: confidence such as he gives me. Afew nights past he told me his entire history: I could not refrainfrom tears. He is young, as your Highness sees; handsome, as youhave observed; heir-presumptive to the throne of a Bavarian feudalPrincipality and owner of a vast fortune. Well, the throne he is tooscrupulous to claim, because of a fault in the line of succession; thefortune he has refused to accept because it was gained by what he holdsto be an unjust claim. But if I lifted up my finger ... like that,Monseigneur....”

She laughed as she held the slender finger up, and challenge andmeaning and promise were in her face, and the witchery of it, no lessthan that hint of gold piled up and hoarded, made even the Pretender’sdull blood tingle in his veins. He said, with brightening eyes and atinge of color in his sallow cheeks:

“It might yet be worth your while to lift your finger up, Madame,although I have as yet no crown to share with the woman who shall bearmy name.”

It was a name, at that psychological moment, that was not worthsixpence among the British bill-discounters, and at sight of which uponpaper the sons of Levi and Manasseh morally rent their garments andthrew figurative dust upon their heads. But it had a specious value,dangled as a bait before ambitious women; and here, he knew, was one....

To sway the mass of men you must have Money to give them. True, deMorny, Persigny and Co. could be pacified with orders for millionsupon an Imperial Treasury that was non-existent as yet. But therank-and-file of his filibusters and mercenaries must be paid in hardcash, and women always knew where to go for the shekels. Either theyhad independent fortunes, or their families were wealthy, or theirlovers were rich and generous. Skillfully handled, stimulated by artfulhints of marvelous rewards and compensations, Eve’s daughters, hisconfederates[Pg 274] and creditors, had never failed to serve him at his need.

That indomitable partisan and tireless intriguer, his cousin thePrincess Mathilde, had poured her whole fortune into his bottomlesspockets. Now, when his want was greater than ever, Mathilde was withouta sou. Lord Walmerston’s last subsidy of three thousand pounds, a sumof humiliating smallness, grudgingly accorded, was dwindling rapidly.And money for the expenses of the campaign of June must be forthcoming,and at once.

The attempt on Boulogne had failed, because the tin cases of gold coinsslung round the necks of the adventurers for distribution had held solittle, and been emptied so quickly.... Money must not be lacking forthe printing of millions of handbills and posters; for the paymentof hundreds of electioneering agents, touts, and canvassers; for thebribery of thousands of electors who could not be coaxed into givingtheir suffrage—heaps of money would be required now.

Money! If one would be elected as Representative for the Departmentof the Seine, and the three other Departments that were to prove somany steps to the armchair upon the platform behind the tribune ofthe Assembly—money, money! If one would by bribery and corruptionraise that same armchair to the height of an Imperial throne—money,money, money! Golden mortar, without which the house that Jack buildsmust topple at the first puff of wind, and resolve itself into a mereheap of jumbled brickbats. Money, money, money, money! And the littleCorporal, at the lowest ebb of his fortunes, had scarcely been poorerthan his nephew was to-day.

The uncle was not over-scrupulous, less so the nephew. His end ofself-glorification justified every shameful means.

For him the harlot emptied her stocking, the wealthy saloon-keeperand ex-procuress poured out her tainted gold. To be mistress-in-chiefto an Emperor, to flaunt a title in the face of prim Respectability,that was what Kate Harvey sought, and had, when his sun had risen.But the other women, lured on to bankruptcy and ruin by his dullmagnetic glance and skillfully-cast bait of promises, saw hoveringbefore their dazzled eyes—receding ever farther[Pg 275] into the sandy desertof Unattainability—the bridal carriage of gold lacquer and mothero’ pearl, surmounted by the Imperial Eagle. The carved and gildedMatrimonial Chair upon the crimson bee-spangled daïs and the Crown ofJosephine....

So, with the flutter of a fan in a jeweled hand, a few brief sentencesinterchanged, the glance of a pair of brilliant eyes and the dull,questioning look of a pair of fishy ones, at the dark, vivid face andlithe, erect figure standing in the doorway, Dunoisse was bought andsold.

If he had only known, when a little later he was presented to thePrince by Colonel de Roux.... But there was no expression in thevacuous eyes that blinked at him, hardly a shade of meaning in the flattoneless voice that said:

“I am happy in the knowledge, Bonsieur, that a young officer, thegifted son of a noble father, who is gapable of acting upon his ownresbonsibility in a moment of national emergency, has been exoneratedfrom undeserved plame—has met with gomblete rehabilidation at thehands of his suberiors and chiefs. Did I possess the influence oncewielded by my klorious ungle, you would be regombensed as you teserve.”

For after this fashion did he misuse the French language: strugglingas gamely as any German Professor to keep the g’s from turning outthe c’s, the b’s from usurping the places of the p’s ... beset withconsonantal difficulties to the ending of his life....

He bowed to the young man of high prospects and great possessions, andsolemnly extended the gloved finger-tips of the small effeminate hand.Could it have been, despite his tactful negation of all influence,the hand that had shielded Dunoisse? Was it the hand that shortlyafterwards obtained his promotion? One may suspect as much.

At that moment Dunoisse took the utterance for what it seemed worth. Helooked into the puffy, leaden face, and as the lifeless eyes glitteredback at him from between their half-closed shutters, he knew a baserelief, an ignoble joy, in the conviction that Henriette could neverhave loved this man.

He was quite right. She did not love the man, neither[Pg 276] did she loveDunoisse, or any other trousered human. Being a Henriette, she was thelover of Henriette.

True love, pure passion was not to be born in her then,—but longafterwards,—amidst dreadful throes and strivings unspeakable,—thewinged child-god was to see the light. Across a gulf of seeming Deathhis radiant hands were to be outstretched to her. And they were torender her no flowers of joy, but wormwood and rue and rosemary,drenched with the bitter tears of expiation.


A few days subsequently to that reception at the Hotel du Rhin,Dunoisse found his friend in tears, and asked the reason. She evadedreply, he pleaded for confidence. Then, little by little, he elicitedthat Henriette’s sensitive nature was wrung and tortured by the thoughtof that money borrowed from de Moulny.

Dunoisse asked of her:

“How much was the amount? I have earned the right to know.”

Her heart gave a great throb of triumph, but her eyelids fell in timeto veil her exultation. She faltered, in her haste only doubling thesum:

“Sixty thousand francs.” She added, with a dewy glance and a quiveringlip: “But do not be distressed for me, dear friend. The money shall berepaid promptly. I have still a few jewels left that were my mother’s.She will not blame me, sweet saint! for parting with her legacy thus.”

He assumed a tone of authority, and forbade her to sacrifice thetrinkets. She pleaded, but finally gave in.

“To-morrow,” he told her, “you shall receive from me a hundred thousandfrancs, in billets of a thousand; the sole condition being that yousend de Moulny back his money, and that from the hour that sees mebreak a vow for you, you swear to borrow from no man save me!”

She hesitated, paled, faltered. He kissed the little hands, and shegave in. Had he been older, and wiser in the ways of the world, knowingthat money is power, and that he who holds the key to the cashbox candictate and be obeyed, he would have been more frugal. As it was,[Pg 277]being what he was, he gave liberally with both hands. For there is noprodigal like your poor devil suddenly become rich.

Next day, the dusty check-book that had lain for long years forgottenin the drawer of the lost Marie-Bathilde’s inlaid writing-table,as impotent for good or evil as the son of Eblis in his sealed-upjar, came out and went into Dunoisse’s pocket, and so to the Rued’Artois. No good angel in the Joinville cravat and the short-waisted,high-collared frock-coat of a somewhat rowdy young Captain ofpiou-pious met Hector on the steps of Rothschild’s Bank on thisoccasion.

He went in. The double doors thudded behind him; the polite,well-dressed Head Cashier looked observantly through his brazenlattice at the young man with the hard, brilliant black eyes and theface like a thin ruddy flame. He bowed with profound respect, did thestately functionary, when he heard the name of the owner of a depositaccount of one million, one hundred and twenty-five thousand francs,and sent a clerk with a message to the Manager. And a personage evenstatelier, wearing black silk shorts—you still occasionally saw themin 1848—and hair-powder,—a being with the benignant air of a Bishopand a dentist’s gleaming smile,—issued from a shining cage at the endof a long vista of dazzling counters, and condescendingly assistedat the drawing of the First Check. Its magnitude made him smile morebenignantly than ever.... The Head Cashier’s checking thumb quiveredwith emotion as it rapidly counted over a bulky roll of thousand-francnotes.

But, the happy owner of these crackling potentialities departed, theManager returned to his golden cage, sat down and indited a little noteto Marshal Dunoisse. Which missive, conveyed to the old gentleman’sresidence by an official in the Bank livery of sober gray, badged withsilver, made its recipient—not chuckle, as one might have supposed,but gnash his costly teeth, and stamp up and down the room and swear.

For the old brigand of Napoleon’s army, the indefatigable schemer forWidinitz dignities, had been proud—after a strange, incomprehensiblefashion—of the incorruptible honesty, the high principle, theunstained honor[Pg 278] of his son. The Marshal had gloated over the set faceof endurance with which the Spartan youth had borne the gnawing ofthe fox Poverty, beneath his shabby uniform. And that thumping checkon Rothschild’s cost him a fit of the gout. When his apothecary haddosed and lotioned the enemy into partial submission, you may supposethe old man hobbling up the wide, shallow, Turkey-carpeted staircaseto those rooms of Hector’s to find them vacant—their late occupantremoved to a palatial suite of bachelor apartments occupying the firstfloor of a courtyard-mansion in the Rue du Bac. A million odd of francswill not last forever; forty-five thousand English sovereigns—smooth,slippery, elusive darlings!—do not constitute a Fortunatus’ purse;and yet the sum represents a handsome golden cheese with which to setup housekeeping; though such sharp little gleaming teeth and such tinywhite, insatiable hands belonged to the mouse that was from this dateto have the run of Hector Dunoisse’s cupboard, that in a marvelouslyshort space of time the golden cheese was to be nibbled quite away.

Henriette had carried out her tacit understanding with Monseigneur.She had lifted up her finger, and a golden plum of a hundred-thousandfrancs had fallen from the shaken tree. Do you suppose de Moulny hadbeen paid? do you imagine that the Baal of her worship was to bepropitiated with all that glittering coin?

Not a bit of it! For this Henriette, like all the others, had hugedebts and rapacious creditors, the necessity of being always beautifulcost so much. And de Roux had his horses, gambling-losses, and nymphsof the Opera to maintain and satisfy and keep in good humor. Andpious ladies, collecting at Church functions for the benefit of thepoor, have been known ere now to slip their jeweled hands into thevelvet bag, weighed down with the gold and silver contributions of thefaithful, and withdraw the said hands richer than they went in.

The Empire was the religion of Henriette, and she made her collectionin its interests tirelessly. If no more than a moiety of what shegathered clinked into the High Priest’s coffers, he did not knowthat—any more than those who had emptied their purses to fill the bag,so nobody was the worse.

[Pg 279]


The reader has not been invited to contemplate, in the person ofDunoisse, the phenomenon of the Young Man of Virtue. Of kindredpassions with his fellow-men, of unblemished health, hot blood andvivid imagination, he was, per grace of certain honorableprinciples instilled into a boy’s mind by a poor old gentlewoman, noless than by an innate delicacy and fastidiousness, a cleanly liver:a man whom Poverty had schooled in self-restraint. Now Poverty wasbanished, and self-restraint was flung to the winds. And, regrettableas it is to have to state the fact, the lapse of Miss CarolineSmithwick’s late pupil from the narrow path of Honor was attended by nochidings of conscience, visited by no prickings of remorse.

Dunoisse was happy. The world took on a brighter aspect, the air hebreathed seemed purer and more fragrant, the sunshine brighter and themoonlight lovelier, because of this his sin.

The eyes of men and women—especially of women!—met his ownmore kindly; there was no sense of strangeness barring socialintercourse.... Life was pleasanter as the months rolled into years.

People found him agreeable now—a charming fellow. He was askedeverywhere, petted and flattered, quoted and caressed. Not only becausehe spent his money lavishly, but because there is a freemasonrybetween the votaries of illicit pleasure which does not extend to theconscientious and cleanly. Vice is a boon-companion in whose societyyou may lounge unbuttoned. Virtue and Integrity are the two flagrantoffenses the world can never pardon or condone.

An agreeable, even brilliant man: well-bred, well-read, and in onebranch at least of his profession, marvelously competent. These wereamong the encomiums bestowed by his world upon Dunoisse, who learned todress in the height of the prevailing fashion; to spend heaps of moneyupon jewelry, cigars, wines, restaurant-dinners and little suppers, andto lose as much at cards in a single night at the Club as would haveformerly kept him for a year. Other things indispensable to a youngman moving in the inner circle of fast Parisian Society were masteredby[Pg 280] him in due course—such as the art of living on terms of daily,familiar, friendly intercourse with a man hated, loathed, and enviedabove all men. Also, the secret of saying one thing and conveyinganother; the art of taking formal leave and slipping back again; and ofapplying to the solution of every sum of existence the Ancient Rule ofThree.

For in spite of Adjmeh and one or two other brief amatory episodes, theBook of the Ways of Women had not until now been placed open betweenthe hands of Hector Dunoisse.

When you have read that book from Preface to Finis you will havelearned much, and yet not all there is to learn. For every page of themanuscript is a palimpsest. When the writing is washed off with tearsof blood, the true characters start out from their concealment, themystery of mysteries is revealed.

But no man has ever lived long enough to master that Book from coverto cover, though some, wiser or more patient than their fellows, havelearned a chapter or two by heart before they died. And those deepscholars know that it is never possible to determine whether a womanbe prompted to the gift of her beauty and the sacrifice of her honorby love of herself, or love of him who covets it. And also they areaware that the last chapter of the tome is never to be finished. SomeHenriette adds a fresh gloss to it every day.

Dunoisse read in that Book with raptures and exultations, and fiercedelight and passionate triumph. He was to read it with agonies andhumiliations and galling, unspeakable shame. He was to shed secretscalding tears over the cruel pages. He was to laugh over them withthe laughter that is born of despair. But the sweetness of honey camebefore the tang of gall, the pleasure before the torment. So it was andwill be while the world goes spinning round.

Women like Henriette give out fascination as radium dispenses itsinvisible energies. Every tone of their voices is a call, every glancean appeal or an invitation, every rustle of their garments, every heaveof their bosoms, constitutes an appeal to the senses and a stimulant tothe passions of men.

[Pg 281]

She was half-a-dozen women in one; you were master of a whole haremof beauties possessing her; a jewel cut in innumerable facets lay inyour hand. She could be fierce and tender, pathetic and cynical, gayand sorrowful, delicate and robust, in the space of half-an-hour.Cigarettes calmed her nerves; moonlight, music, tiny glasses ofBenedictine, and minute pills of Turkish opium. Chloral and morphia hadnot at that date been discovered, else what a votary of the tabloidwould have been found in Henriette.

She adored sweets, Chinese bezique and good cookery. Green oysters,bouillabaisse, poulet sauté Marengo, and peaches in Kirsch, wereamong her passions. But she was a pious Catholic, and observed withscrupulous rigor the fasts and feasts of the Church.

She had campaigned with the 999th in Algeria, wore a dagger sometimesin her girdle; carried a tiny ivory-and-silver mounted pistol—fellowto one de Moulny kept locked up—and was expert in its use, as in thehandling of the fencing-foil and the womanlier weapon, the needle.What webs of cunning embroidery grew under those little fingers! Shewrought at these, sometimes for days together. Then she would pinefor exercise and the open air: ride furiously in the Bois, with herplumed hat cocked à la mousquetaire, and her silver-gray veiland smoke-colored habit streaming; use the jeweled whip until her horselathered, drive home the little silver-gilt spur of the dainty polishedboot until his flank was specked with blood. Or she would shoot pigeonsat Tivoli, handling her gun with ease, and vying with crack masculinesportsmen in her skilled capacity for slaughter. Or she would be drivenin her barouche or landau, lying back among her silken cushions, asthough too indolent to lift an eyelash, languid and voluptuous as anyodalisque. Returning from these excursions, she would lie upon thesofa, silent, pale and mysterious, her vinaigrette at her nostrils,a silken handkerchief bound about her brows. For a crown of diamondsshe could not, would not go to theater, or ball, or supper that night!She was fit to die—wanted nothing but to be left in solitude.... Butshe never failed to go; and towards the end of some gay, boisterousmidnight banquet she would move with that long, gliding, supple stepof hers into the middle of the room, and dance you the[Pg 282] cachucha, withcoffee-spoons for castanets, if nobody could produce these.

Who could resist her then? With the proud little head swaying on therounded throat, and the long eyes darting fiery glances as the lithebody swung, and whirled, and the white arms beckoned and waved. Withthe silken swish of skirts calling attention to the lovely supple curvethat went from hip to knee, and from the swelling calf to the delicaterounded ankle, and bidding you note and worship the elastic arch ofthe Andalusian instep, under which water could run and never wet thesole....

Nor was she less bewitching, be sure, at those other moments whenDunoisse would be alone with her; when, snatching her Spanish guitarfrom clumsier hands, she would warble the naughtiest ballads of thecafés chantant, reproducing the cynical improprieties of Fanny Hervieuor Georgette Bis-Bis, with inimitable chic and go. Or she wouldsing a Spanish love-song, vibrating with Southern passion; or sighforth some Irish ballad, breathing of the green isle whence NorahMurphy sailed, to conquer with her beauty a guerrilla chief of Spain,and bear him Henriette, and die of sorrow; bequeathing her daughter apassionate, emotional nature and an hereditary religion, and the memoryof some kisses and cradle-songs.

The simile of the changeful fay in the rainbow was never inappropriateto her. What a charming mingling of inconsistencies, what acreature of contradictions was she.... When her Brazilian cockatoo“Coco,” a magnificent bird, emerald-green as the Prince-Pretender’sdress-waistcoat, with a crest of sulphur-yellow and a beak as crimsonas the Colonel’s own, was murdered by the Convent tom-cat, how tragicwas her grief! Coco was interred in the Convent gardens, beautifulstill in those days, though filched from even then for the builders’diabolical uses. And the glove-box that served Henriette’s slaughtereddarling as a coffin had been won at a pigeon-shooting match atTivoli....

Those decapitated birds, fluttering on the smooth green turf in theirdeath-struggles, had not drawn from the beautiful eyes a single tear.But Coco, who had been taught to shriek “Vive l’Empereur!” when hewanted fruit or bonbons, with loyalty quite as genuine as M. dePersigny’s—Coco was quite a different affair....

[Pg 283]

Mistigris must pay the death-penalty—upon that point Coco’s bereavedmistress was inexorable. The Augustinian Sisters pleaded for theirdarling; Madame de Roux would not budge. When she spoke of an appeal tothe authorities—never reluctant at any time to impose penalties uponthe Church—the Sisters caved in. At any rate, they ultimately produceda tail.... And whether the caudal appendage had really belonged toMistigris, or had been filched from an old cat-skin belonging to theportress, touched up with red ink at the end where it had been attachedto the original wearer, to impart a delusive air of freshness, wasnever absolutely known. When a cat strangely resembling Mistigris, butcalled by another name, attracted the attention of Coco’s bereavedmistress a few weeks later, the retort was unanswerable:

“But see, Madame—he has a tail!”

That tail was a morsel that stuck in Dunoisse’s throat. Another thing,as difficult to swallow, was the undeniable, apparent fact of theamiable, even affectionate relations existing between Madame de Rouxand her fiery-faced, dyed, bandoliered and corseted mate.... A further,even more indigestible discovery, was, that although the springs of theyoung bride’s heart had been so early frozen at their sources by etc.,etc., the union of the couple had been blessed by children.

Three little girls in pigtails with ribbon bows, and Scotch plaidpelisses, ending in the dreadful frilled-cambric funnels that moreadult skirts concealed, and which were known as pantalettes. Happeningto come across a daguerreotyped group of these darlings—Henriette hadbeen turning out a drawer in her writing-table—Dunoisse inquired whothe children were? And was horribly discomfited at her reply:

“They are mine. Didn’t you know? Do you think them like me?”

They certainly were not like her. Nor did they resemble de Roux. Andshe kissed the three glassy countenances, and murmured caressingly:

“My treasures!”

Adding, as Dunoisse looked round, uncertain whether[Pg 284] the treasuresmight not appear in answer to this ebullition of maternal tenderness:

“They do not live with us, but with their foster-mother at Bagneres: anexcellent person—married to a market-gardener. They had measles whenlast I heard of them, so of course I cannot go there just now. Whenthey are well again you must see them. Ah! how I hope they will loveyou!... Dear, what is the matter now?”

Dunoisse did not quite know. But he was sensible of a vigorous growthof distaste for plaid pelisses in combination with frilled pantalettes,and for at least a week, pigtails, whenever encountered—and they wereeverywhere—smote upon his naked conscience like scourges set withthorns.

He rid himself of the absurd obsession presently, and was happier thanever. The world was a gay, bright, pleasant place when one took iteasily, and did not demand too much virtue of oneself or the people ofone’s set.

But yet, on those rare occasions when one was hipped and blue withovermuch wine, or gambling, or pleasure, there were moments whenthe words of that old boyish vow, so earnestly made, so painfullykept, so recently broken, would start out against the background ofhalf-conscious thought as plainly as the Writing on the Wall, andhe would hear himself saying to a woman whose face he had nearlyforgotten, that he hoped the day that should see him broach thatbanked-up store of thousands might bear him fruit of retribution, inbitterness, and sorrow, and shame....

What a fool he had been!—what a narrow-minded, straitlaced idiot! Why,the money had procured Dunoisse everything that was worth having in theworld.

The open companionship and secret possession of a beautiful, amorous,high-bred woman; the friendship of many others, only a little lessadorable, and the good-fellowship of crowds of agreeable men.Membership of many fashionable Clubs, invitations to all the besthouses. His brevet as Major, or chef de bataillon,though the General Staff appointment that should have accompanied itunaccountably delayed upon the road. And to cap all, life had been madeyet easier by the removal of de Roux to a distant post abroad.

[Pg 285]

For happy as Dunoisse was, it had been constantly borne in upon himthat he would be a great deal happier if the reproach of this man’spresence could be removed.

He hinted as much to Henriette. She looked at him with sweet, limpideyes of astonishment. What! did he actually feel like that? How odd!

Dunoisse was secretly a little angry with her for not understanding. Itshowed a want of delicacy, not suspected in her before.

“Poor Eugène! So easy-going, good-humored and amiable. And you reallywish him ... out of the way?”

She crumpled her slender eyebrows and pondered a while, herlittle jeweled fingers cupping her adorable chin. “Perhaps thePrince-President could offer him some foreign appointment,” she said atlast. “Monseigneur is always so good!”


For the honest citizen Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte had beenduly returned in June for the Department of the Seine and two otherDepartments. The end of the month saw the streets up again: barricadesrising one after the other; saw the military called out, saw cannon andhowitzer battering down the crazy strongholds of insurrection; saw menin top-hats and frock-coats, armed with revolvers, and men in blousesarmed with muskets, defending these works with desperation, as long ascartridges held out.

It was borne in upon Monseigneur Affre, Archbishop of Paris, thathe should go forth and speak to the insurgents of St. Antoine. Hehesitated but an instant. No doubt of the Voice that urged. So he went,preceded by the Crucifix, accompanied by his Vicars-General; and a manin a blouse walked before the Cross-bearer carrying a green branch inhis hand. No one knew who the man was, or ever saw him afterwards.Catholics have whispered that the bearer of the green branch was noother than St. Antoine himself.

They shot the Archbishop from an upper window as he exhorted his flockto lay down their muskets, in the Name of Him Who bled upon the Tree.He sank down, mortally[Pg 286] wounded, raised himself with a great effort,made the sign of absolution over a dying insurgent who was beingcarried past him, and fell back upon the bloody stones.... There was agreat cry of horror from those who saw: the Archbishop was carried backto his palace, and passed to God upon the day following. But the greenbranch had triumphed: the servant of Christ had not died for nothing.The insurrection was virtually at an end.

Paris was sick of the reek of gunpowder and bloodshed. She longed forpeace, and quiet, and a stable form of government—just the thing thatseemed hardest to attain.

In the caricatures of Gavarni you may see the bemused and worriedcitizen torn by doubts as to which form of Republic, of all thecountless varieties pressed upon the French nation by political quacksand nostrum-mongers, might be the most agreeable to take, and the mostefficacious in its method of working. M. Prud’homme of the NationalGuard, no less than Jerome Paturôt of the Gardes Mobiles, and JacquesBonhomme, his country cousin, were propitiated and soothed by themildness of Representative Bonaparte’s drugs, and the good sense andmoderation of his views; while the feasibility and simplicity of themeasures he advocated enchanted everyone who heard.

Candidate for the Presidency, with what modesty and good sense heexpressed himself. What noble enthusiasm glowed in him, for instance,when he said:

“The Democratic Republic shall be my religion, and I will be its HighPriest.”


“The Empire shall be the religion of the French people, the Tuileriesits Temple, and I will be the god, enthroned and worshiped there!”

Words like these won him the Presidential elbow-chair on the platformbehind the tribune, placed in his neat white hand the coveted littlebell with the horizontal handle; procured for him, who had been reducedto pawning-straits to pay the rent of his London lodging, palatialquarters in the Palace of the Élysée at the end of the Faubourg SaintHonoré.

The taking of the Presidential Oath exorcised that haunting specter,arrayed in the rags of the Imperial mantle,—adorned[Pg 287] with thefleurons from the caparison of Childeric’s steed of war.Banished, the grisly phantom sank down into its gorgeous sepulchre.Calumny was silenced, suspicion was changed into confidence,France reposed her ringleted head in chaste abandonment upon theirreproachable waistcoat of her First Citizen, who waited for nothingbut the laying of the submarine cable between Calais and Dover, thepassing of the Bill restoring to the President of the National Assemblythe right of absolute command over the military and naval forces ofthe country, to toss the trustful fair one over his saddle-bow, leapup behind her, and gallop—with his swashbuckling, roystering band offreebooters thundering upon his heels, with the shouts and pistol-shotsof indignant pursuers dying upon the distance—away into the frostyDecember night.

France was to lose her Cap of Liberty as the result of that furiousride of the night of the coup d’État, and something morebesides....

But in the meanwhile she was content, suspecting no designs againsther honor, and the Prince-President, established at the Palace of theÉlysée, made himself very much at home.

Not that he cared about the place—he infinitely preferredthe Tuileries. But by day the audience-rooms were packed withgold-encrusted uniforms and irreproachable dress-coats: and by nightthe whole place blazed with gaslight. Soirées, concerts,dinners, balls, and hunting-parties at St. Cloud or Fontainebleau,succeeded balls, dinners, concerts and soirées; and after thecrush had departed there were suppers, modeled on the Regency pattern,lavish, luxurious, meretricious, at which the intimate male friends ofthe host were privileged to be dazzled by a galaxy of beauties dressedto slay; scintillating with jewels; lovely women who recalled thevanished splendors, as they reproduced the frailties, of the Duchessede Berry and Madame de Phalaris.

His “flying squadron” he was wont to term them. They were of infiniteuse to him in the seduction and entanglement of young and gifted, orwealthy and influential men. With what enchanting grace and statelinessthey rode the ocean, broke upon the breeze their sable flag of piracy,unmasked their deadly bow-chasers, and brought their[Pg 288] broadsidebatteries to bear. How prettily they sacked and plundered theirgrappled, helpless prizes. With what magnificent indifference they sawtheir livid prisoners walk the plank that ended in the salt green waveand the gray shark’s maw.

The Henriette, that clipping war-frigate, had brought much grist to themills of Monseigneur.

Therefore could he deny her this simple favor, the speedy removal ofan inconvenient husband? When the soft caressing voice murmured theplaintive entreaty, Monseigneur stroked the chin-tuft that had not yetbecome an imperial, and thought the thing might be arranged.

De Roux was not an indispensable digit in connection with the brainthat worked in the Élysée. He was of the old school of militarycommander, deeply imbued, in spite of all his Bonapartist professions,with the traditions of the Monarchy defunct. His removal from thecommand of the 999th of the Line had been contemplated for some time.

And the General in charge of the Military Garrison at Algiers wasdesirous to resign his responsibilities in favor of a Home command,if one could be found presenting equal advantages in point of pay.Government, just at this juncture, could not afford to increasethe emoluments of the only post that appeared suitable. But if acertain sum of money were placed, unquestioningly, at the disposal ofGovernment, the difficulty might be smoothed away.

For money was badly needed at the Palace of the Élysée. Money, ifone would make supple, servile agents of legal, civil and militaryofficials and functionaries—judges, prefects, mayors, magistrates,commissaries of police, senators, counselors, brigadiers, generals,colonels, quarter-masters, sergeants, gendarmes, agents, printers,spies.

Money must be had if the plot that was to make an Imperial throne outof a Presidential armchair was not to collapse and fall through.

So the Élysée had become a shop on a vast scale, where anything desiredof men or women with cash in hand could be bought for ready money. Adismissal or an appointment; a night of pleasure for yourself, or a dayof reckoning for another; the advancement of a lover or the removal ofa rival,—you ordered and paid, and got it on the nail.[Pg 289] And the goldyou paid was passed on into the innumerable pockets that gaped for it.Everyone who had a soul to sell found a buyer at the Élysée.

What Dunoisse wanted cost a heap of money. The cashier at Rothschild’shad long ceased to be reverential,—every month’s audit showed suchterrific inroads on the diminishing golden store. His eyebrows werealmost insulting as he cashed the check that purchased exile forHenriette’s inconvenient husband. Dunoisse began from that moment torealize that he had wasted his patrimony, and would very soon be poor.

Yet what a satisfaction it was to read in the official Gazette of theArmy, that in recognition of the eminent services of Colonel Count deRoux, the War Minister had appointed that distinguished officer to thevacant post of Commandant of the Garrison at Algiers.

“You see, the Prince keeps his promises,” Henriette said gleefullyto her lover. “Believe me, dearest, the Empire is an excellentinvestment!—a ship that is bound to come home!”

They were together in the Rue du Bac, where every room of the luxurioussuite bore evidences of her taste, tokens of her presence. And she wasleaning over Hector’s shoulder as he read the paragraph, her fragrantbreath playing on his eyes and forehead, her small white fingers toyingwith his hair.

“It will suit Eugène to a marvel,” she went on, as no immediate answercame from Dunoisse. “He will have his cards and his billiards, hiscigars and his horses, and his mistresses, and everything that he hashere.”

She added, with a little mocking peal of laughter:

“Except me. Imagine it!—he actually believes that I am going with himto Algiers—that horrible piratical Moorish seaport, full of negroesand Arabs and monkeys and smells. We shall have a scene when he learnsthat I remain behind in Paris—he has already been quite tragic overthe idea of parting from ’Riette and Loulu and Bébé. He cried—imaginehim in tears!—and said that he should never see them again—he wasquite certain of it! And he has gone to Bagneres to-day with a cartloadof toys and bonbons. Oh yes!—he is absurdly fond of the children. Itis not because he did not wish them to live with us that you have notseen them at home.”

[Pg 290]

Dunoisse knew a sudden sickness at the heart. She had given this veryexplanation unasked. So, then, those lovely lips could lie.... Thewarm, soft arm about his neck suddenly seemed heavy as an iron collar,the fragrant breath upon his eyes scorched. He freed himself fromHenriette with a sudden movement; rose up, dropping the newspaper; andwent to the open window and stepped out upon the balcony, seeking apurer air.

Thence he said, without looking round:

“He loves ’Riette and Loulou and Bébé, I suppose, as a man usuallyloves his children. Is there anything absurd in that? Perhaps you know?”

She leaped at him and caught him by the arm, and said, from behind him,in a voice jarred and shaken with strange passion:

“What—what do you mean? You shall tell me! Look round! Do not hideyour face!”

He had meant nothing. His utterance had been prompted by a sudden stabof compunction, a feeling of pity for the man whom he had betrayed andsupplanted, and was now about to exile. But when he turned and met thesharp suspicion in the eyes of Henriette, he knew what she believedhe had meant. And with that new and strange expression in them, thoselovely eyes seemed to look at him through the holes of an exquisitemask, hiding another face, that, once revealed, would chill the soulwith dread, and stamp its Medusa-image on the memory—never to beforgotten, however long one lived.

His own face looked strangely at him from the frames of mirrors thatgave back its hardened outlines and less brilliant coloring. Treacheryhad always been loathsome in Dunoisse’s eyes. Yet of what else had hebeen guilty but the blackest treachery in his dealings with the husbandof Henriette?

Deny it! What? Had he not taken his hand in friendship and betrayedhim? Procured his removal by bribery, parted him from the woman whosetruth he believed in, and from the children whom he loved?

Quite true, the man was vile. A lover of gross pleasures, a debauchee,a gambler. An unfaithful husband to a wife who played him false. False!Ah! to use that word in connection with Henriette opened out incrediblevistas. Dunoisse dared not look. Long afterwards he[Pg 291] understood thathe had feared lest he should see the day of his own exile growing intovision—drawing nearer and more near.

So exit de Roux with the brevet-rank of General, after afarewell banquet from the Regiment and a series of parting dinners;amidst speeches, embraces, vivas, and votive pieces of plate. Madamedid not accompany the new Garrison Commandant to the conqueredstronghold of the Algerine pirates. The General’s villa at Mustaphawas to receive a grass-widower. Henriette’s delicate health couldnot support the winds from the Sahara,—the Prince-President’s ownphysician, much to the chagrin of his fair patient, advised against hertaking the risk.

And Dunoisse breathed more freely once his whilom Chief had departed.De Roux had been the kill-joy—the fly in the honey. Life was morepleasant now, and infinitely easier; there were so many things that hadhad to be done under the rose.

As for de Roux, his exile was not without the alleviations andconsolations Henriette had mentioned. He wrote home regularly,voluminous letters of many pages, and sent mysterious bales containingastonishing gifts;—Moorish caps, embroidered gazelle-skins, ornamentsof sequins, coffee-cups in stands of golden filagree, for Madame: withebony elephants and ivory dolls, dates preserved in honey, fig cakesstuck full of walnuts, and cinnamon-sugar walking-sticks, for ’Rietteand Loulou and Bébé.

Handsome remittances always accompanied the letters. Dunoissestipulated that the mony should be exclusively expended on, or laidaside for the benefit of, the three little pigtailed girls. It wasa nice point, a question of delicacy, from which he was not to beturned aside by any subtle pleading. For you may build your nest ofthe wreckage of another man’s home, and still retain your claim to beconsidered a person of scrupulous honor. But to dip your hand in hispurse—that is a different thing!

So our hero, presently finding himself at the end of his resources,fulfilled a certain paternal prophecy, uttered when he was yet astudent at the Military School of Technical Instruction, and called oneday at the hotel in the Rue de la Chaussée d’Antin, prepared to consumea certain[Pg 292] amount of humble-pie, provided that at the bottom of theunsavory dish the golden plums should be scattered thick enough.


For many months he had not crossed his father’s threshold. The greatcourtyard bore a look of squalor, grass was springing up between theflagstones; flaunting tufts of groundsel and chickweed were growingin the green-painted wooden tubs containing myrtles and oleanders andrhododendrons, that were ranged along the walls and on either side ofthe flight of steps that led to the hall-door.

The hall-door stood open: Auguste, now gray-headed and stouter thanever, waited with a low-wheeled open carriage that had succeeded thehigh tilbury with the rampant mare and the tiny cockaded groom. A quietpair of English pony-cobs were attached to the vehicle. Hector stoppedto look at them, and speak to the old servant, then went into the hall.

The trophies of arms upon the walls looked dull and rusty, thebronze equestrian statue of the Emperor was covered with a patina ofencrusted dirt. The black-and-white squares of the marble pavementwere in shrieking need of a broom and soap-and-water. Then, to thetap-tapping of the two ebony-handled crutch-sticks that had succeededthe gold-topped Malacca cane with the silk tassel, came Monsieur theMarshal, heralded by a dropping fire of oaths.

He was much changed and aged since Hector had last seen him, butbravely bewigged and dyed and painted still. He was wrapped in a furreddriving-cloak, despite the warmth of the September sunshine; his cheekswere pendulous, his fierce eyes had baggy pouches underneath. And hestumbled as he shuffled over the marble pavement in his cloth bootsthat were slit with innumerable loopholes for the better ease of hiscorns.

He stopped short, seeing his son, and the change in him was painfullyapparent. He was hurrying down the hill that ends in an open grave.His morals were more[Pg 293] deplorable than ever. The cook, a strappingAuvergnate, was his mistress now, in lieu of an opera-girl or nymphof the Palais Royal: and he drank and played cards with his valet andbutler: indeed, servants were his masters, and, from the porter’s lodgeto the mansard roof-garrets, dirt and disorder marked their uncheckedsway.

Mild Smithwick, lying beside the sister who had been a paralytic, inher quiet grave in the Hampstead churchyard, would have turned uneasilyupon her pillow stuffed with shavings, had she known of the goings-onof the debauched old idol of her earthly worship, who had long agoforgotten her.

He opened fire directly, quite in the old manner.

“Hey? What the devil?—so you have remembered us, have you? Well? WasI not right in telling you that that affair of the fusillade would endto your advantage? That the Court Martial was a piece of mummery—afarce—nothing more? There you are with promotion, and the patronageand goodwill of Monseigneur at the Élysée! Though for myself I cannotstomach that Bonaparte with the beak and the Flemish snuffle. HadWalewski but been born on the right side of the blanket—there wouldhave been the Emperor for me!”

He trumpeted in a vast Indian silk handkerchief with something of theold vigor, and went on:

“Because all this swearing of fidelity to the Republic will end, asI have prophesied, in a coronation at Notre Dame, and a court at theTuileries. My Emperor crowned himself without all this lying andposturing. He said to France: ‘You want a master. Well, look at me. Iam the man for you....’ Josephine squawked: ‘Oh, M. Bonaparte!’‘Go!’ he told her. ‘Order your dresses!’ just as he said to the Senate,‘Decree me Emperor!’ While this fellow ... sacred name of a pig!”

He tucked one of the crutch-sticks under his arm, got out hissnuff-box, and said as he dipped his ringed, yellow old claws into theSpanish mixture:

“His cant about Socialism and Progress and the dignity of Labor givesme the belly-ache. His groveling to the working man, and slobberingover the common soldier, make me want to kill him. His hand in histrousers-pocket and his eye on a plebiscite—there you havehim—by the thunder of Heaven! A corporal of infantry said[Pg 294] to me: ‘IfI showed M. Louis Napoleon Bonaparte my back—he would kneel down andsalute it....’ My Napoleon would have said to that man: ‘Liedown in the mud, so that I may walk dryshod upon your body!’ and theman would have obeyed him. But perhaps half an Emperor is better forFrance than none!”

He fed each wide nostril with the Brobdingnagian pinch he had heldsuspended while he talked, and said, snorting:

“We shall see if, for all his cartloads of wine sent to their barracks,and his rolls of ten-franc pieces scattered among the rank-and-file, heis served better than the man who scorned to flatter, and more lovedthan he who did not bribe.... Who said: ‘Follow me, and I will showyou capitals to plunder!’ and when they were conquered, said: ‘Helpyourselves, one and all, there are fat and lean!’”

He plunged his shaking fingers back into the box, sputtered a little,and said a trifle wildly:

“Though there was a good deal of fasting going to set against theseasons of plenty. During the Retreat from Moscow in October, 1812, Ihad a handful of unset diamonds in my haversack, and a beryl weighingthirteen pounds, worth ninety-five thousand francs, upon my word ofhonor! Well, I swopped that crystal with a Bavarian aide-de-camp ofthe Staff for a pudding made of horse’s blood mixed with bran andflour.... The man who sold me the pudding was Luitpold von Widinitz, acousin of your mother’s. It was a dirty action I have never pardoned.Pardieu! Morbleu! A comrade, and sell—not share! Princebe damned!... Huckster! Sutler! Tschah! Faugh! Pouah!”

He dropped the crutch he had tucked under his arm, and, recalled fromhis ancient reminiscence by Hector’s picking up the stick and giving itto him, said, with a formidable bending of the brows:

“You came here, not out of filial duty, but upon some private affair orother. Spit it out, and have done!—I have no time to waste.”

Hector obeyed.

“I have spent my mother’s dowry as you always hoped I should. Chieflyupon gratifications—pleasures—luxuries, that I once pretended todespise. I have acquired the taste for these things. That oughtto gratify you. With the money I have wasted, many prejudices andconvictions[Pg 295] that you found objectionable in past days have beenscattered to the winds. If you are still disposed to give, I am verywilling to take. I have no more to say!”

Seldom has an appeal for pecuniary aid been preferred lessingratiatingly. The Marshal glared and champed for several momentsbefore he could reply:

“I do not doubt you are willing, sir.... ’Credieu! Do yousuppose I have not seen this coming?—though the insolence of yourapproach goes beyond anything that I could have conceived.... I havemy informants, understand!... I am aware of your infernal folly, yourcrazy infatuation.... As for that de Roux woman who leads you by thenose, she is a jade who will land you in the gutter, and a harlot intothe bargain. Do you hear?”

The bellowed “Do you hear?” was followed by a shower of curses. Whenthese imprecations had ceased to rattle among the trophies of arms andbronzes, and bring down sprinklings of dust from the gilded cornices,Hector said imperturbably:

“My father may insult my mistress with impunity. I cannot call himout——!”

The Marshal took the opening.

“If you did, and sat down on your tail—sacred name of a bluepig!—with the notion of sticking me in the gizzard, as you did deMoulny Younger when you were boys—allow me to tell you—you would findyourself skewered and trussed in double-quick time!”

Never before in Hector’s hearing had the Marshal made reference tothat old sore subject of the false step and the broken foil. He made aflourishing pass with one of the ebony-handled crutches, slipped on thepolished marble pavement, and would have fallen but for the strong redhand of Marie Bathilde’s son.

Hector put the old man into the hall porter’s capacious chair, pickedup his great curly-brimmed hat—the hat worn by Deans at the presentmoment—brushed it on his sleeve and handed it back again. He felt agood deal like Sganarelle before Don Juan, the case being reversed, andthe homilist the elder libertine.

Meanwhile the gouty old soldier fulminated oaths, and hurled reproachesof a nature to make listening Asmodeus smile. He was scandalized at thelife his son was leading. Sacred name of a pipe! A thousand thunders!He shook[Pg 296] his clenched hand, as he demanded of Hector if he reallysupposed there was no Deity Who demanded an account from evil livers,and no Hell where sinners burned?

“For priests are rogues and knaves and liars, but there is such aplace, for all that! And you—living in open adultery—for you therewill be Hell!”

Said Dunoisse, cool and smiling, standing before his irate parent:

“I am a better theologian than you are. Hell is for the finallyimpenitent, I have always been instructed; and I am invariablyscrupulous to repent before I sin. If it will afford you anyparticular gratification, I will undertake to perform a special act ofcontrition,” he looked at his watch, “punctually at the hour of twelve,to-night.”

“You are going to her to-night?” snarled the Marshal, adding: “Tell herfrom me that she deceives a blackguard for the sake of a booby. For oneyou are, by the thunder of Heaven! who soil yourself and spoil yourselffor such a drab as she!”

“What can you expect,” said Hector, with the same cool offensiveness,“but that your son should follow in your footsteps? I am, as you havesaid, living with the wife of another man in open adultery. You werebolder, and more daring, who with your master had discrowned kings andhumiliated Emperors. You did not hesitate, at the pricking of yourdesire, to ravish the Spouse of God.”

“Your mother is a Saint!” cried the old Marshal, purple and gnashingwith furious indignation. “Do not dare to mention her in the samebreath with that—that——”

And the coarse old man plumped out an epithet of the barrack-room,full-flavored, double-barreled, of which Henriette, had she heard it,would have died.

“There is no need to tell me to honor my mother,” said the son. “She issacred in my eyes. But do not venture to speak to me of Him Whom youhave dishonored. I have thought ever since I was a boy that it would bebetter for me and for you if He did not exist. For the fact of my beingis an insult to Him. I am a clod of earth flung in His face by yoursacrilegious hand!”

He had often dreamed of speaking such words as these, face to face withhis father. Now they poured from him, thick and fast. But pity checkedthem in mid-torrent, at[Pg 297] the sight of the working mouth and noddinghead, and trembling hands of unreverend, ignoble age.

The old man capitulated even as the young one relented. He got out,between spasms of wheezing, in quite a conciliatory snarl:

“Well,—well! What if you have spent your mother’s dowry! there is morewhere that came from. You are my legitimate heir,—and for me, I hadrather you were a prodigal than a prig. And blood-horses and Indianshawls, wines, jewelry and cigars and bonnets,—wagers on the Turf andbets on cards, are unavoidable expenses.... I do not wish you to be aniggard. Only it seems to me that with your opportunities you mighthave invested well. Steel Rails and Zinc, those are the things to putmoney on. This will be the Age of traveling behind boilers and housingunder roofs of metal. Ugh—ugh! Ough, c’r’r—’aah!”

He stopped to have a bout of coughing and hawking, and resumed:

“Do not suppose I blame you for having been extravagant. Though itseems to me you have managed badly. This Bonaparte is one who takeswith one hand and gives with the other—is bled or bleeds. He has nevertapped my veins yet, nor shall for any hint of his. But I suspect hehas had money of you. That woman of yours—never mind! I will not nameher, the cockatrice!—but I have had it hinted to me that she is anagent in his pay. And he pays women with compliments and promises—hehas probably promised to create her a peeress in her own right when heis Emperor.... Her Grace the Duchess of Trundlemop—that is the titleshe will get.”

Seeing Hector scowl forbiddingly at these unwelcome references, theMarshal made haste to conciliate.

“You have paid through the nose to get de Roux decanted to Algeria. Youhave been sweetly choused. One must live and learn. See!—I will strikea bargain with you. Do not you be stiffnecked any longer with regard tothat question of the von Widinitz Succession, and I will unbutton mypockets.... You shall have money—plenty of money! All that you need tomake a splash. I suppose you know that there are millions of thalerswaiting to drop into your pockets once the Council of the GermanicConfederation shall confirm your right to the[Pg 298] Crown Feudatory.... Youwill stand upon that right—it is patent and undeniable. And I willhave the throne from under the Regent Luitpold in return for that lumpof beryl the rogue once robbed from me!”

Absurd, formidable, gross old monster. Was the ravished crystal reallythe fulcrum of the lever with which the Marshal strove to upset aState? World-changes have been brought about by quarrels springing fromcauses even more trivial? The price of Luitpold’s blood-pudding hadremained for thirty-seven years an undigested morsel in the Marshal’ssystem. It rankled in him to his dying day.

Though his gouty feet were tottering on the downward slope, his mentalfaculties were as clear as ever. He watched his son from under hisbushy eyebrows as the young man gnawed his lip and drew patterns withhis cane on the tesselated pavement of the hall. Hector had utteredsounding reproaches, arrayed himself on the side of Heaven a momentpreviously. The merry devil who laughs over human contradictions andmortal frailties, must have chuckled as he listened to the terms of thebargain now arranged between the father and the son.

Money. For the sake of the golden mortar without which the Houseof Hopes that Jack builds must inevitably tumble to ruin, Dunoissereluctantly consented to become the puppet of an ambition he hadscorned. The instrument of a desire for vengeance that had never ceasedto rowel the old war-horse’s rheumatic sides.

“So! It is understood, then, after all this fanfaronade ofhigh-mindedness. You will meet my Bavarian agents, Köhler and vonSteyregg—and you will be compliant and civil to them, do youunderstand?”

He lashed himself into one of his sudden rages, the gouty old lion, androared:

“For my Marie’s son shall not be slighted—kicked aside into a cornerwhile that knave Luitpold holds the Regency of Widinitz from the Bund.I will give him a colic for the one his pudding gave me! And I willhave no more accusations and reproaches!—I will not permit you who aremy son to taunt me with your own begetting, and throw your mother’sVeil of Profession, in a manner, at my head.”

[Pg 299]

He rapped his stick upon the pavement. He was strangely moved, and hischin was twitching, though his fierce black eyes were hard and dry.

“You have said that I stole my wife from God, and it is true; though Ido not know that it is very decent in you to twit me with it. And doyou suppose I have not smarted for the sin I committed? I tell you Ihave shed tears of blood!”

A harsh sound came from his throat: he swallowed and blinked and wenton talking:

“Listen to me, you who are more my son than Marie’s, though you tellme that you hold her memory sacred, and denounce me as the plundererof Christ? When her youngest child, your sister, died, Marie saw inthat the beginning of Heaven’s vengeance: the price that must be paid,the punishment that must be borne. And she prayed and wept—whattears!—and gave me no peace until she had wrung from me my promisethat she should go back to her Convent if the Chapter would receiveher.... I am an old tactician—I gave the pledge in the full beliefthat never would they open their doors.... And when she brought me thePrioress’s letter, it was as though a spent cannon-ball had hit me onthe headpiece. Then I had an idea. The dowry of three hundred thousandsilver thalers. What the Church had once got her claws on I knew shewould never let go.... So I blustered and raved and swore to Marie....‘The dowry, or I keep my wife!’”

His pendulous cheeks and chin shook as he wagged his head at Hector.

“Do you suppose I wanted the accursed dross? No! by the thunder ofHeaven! I was greedy of something else. The woman—my wife—who lay inmy arms and sighed, and kissed me, and wept....”

His voice cracked. He said:

“Do you think she did not know the truth? You shall never make mebelieve she did not. Even while I bragged and blustered about alawsuit—even when my notary wrote a letter, I had fears and quakingsof the heart. When no answer came from the Mother Prioress, I rubbedmy hands and congratulated myself. Thrice-accursed fool who thought tooutwit God——”

He rummaged for his snuffbox, tapped it wrong way up,[Pg 300] opened it inthis position, spilt all its store of snuff, swore, and pitched itacross the hall.

“He is the King of strategists—the Marshal of Napoleon’s Grand Army,compared with Him, was a blind beetle. The Prioress’s answer came: ‘Weconcede you this money,’ said the letter, ‘as the price of a soul.’Enclosed was a draft on the Bank of Bavaria. That night Marie left me.Without even a kiss of farewell, she who had been my wife for nineyears, and borne me a boy and a girl.... Imagine if the money did notweigh on me like the dead horse I lay under all through the night ofAusterlitz, with the bone of my broken leg sticking through my boot!Conceive if it did not smell to me of beeswax candles, brown sergehabits, incense and pauper’s pallets! Pshaw! Peugh! Piff!”

He blew his old nose and swore a little, and then went on:

“I did not send back the three hundred thousand thalers. True! theywere so much dirt in my eyes.... But cash is cash, and to part with itwould not have brought my Marie back again. I let the stuff lie andbreed at my bank. I would have raked the kennels for crusts ratherthan touch it. Not that I have ever needed money. The old brigand ofthe Grand Army has known how to keep what he had gained. Though I havelived up to my income....drank, gambled, amused myself with women! Whatmatter the women? Did Marie suppose I should spend my time in stringingdaisy-chains when she had gone away?”

He laughed in his formidable, ogreish way, and said, still laughing:

“She knew me better, depend upon it. Though, mind you, I had been trueto Marie. But a wife who is a nun is a dead wife. I was a widower—theboy motherless.... And He up above us had another score to make offme!... When the boy—Death of my soul!”

He struck one of his crutches on the marble pavement with such forcethat the stick broke.

“A day came when you looked at me with my own eyes shining out ofMarie’s face, and said: ‘I have heard the story. The terms upon whichyou let my mother resume the Veil were vile!’ Impudent young cockerel!Was it to be supposed that I should try to justify myself in theeyes of a stripling? A man to whom the Emperor used[Pg 301] to say: ‘Well,Dunoisse, let us have your opinion on such and such a plan?’ So Ilaughed at you for a nincompoop—boasted of the pail of milk I haddrawn from the Black Cow, saying to myself: ‘All right! He is Marie’sson, that boy! When he is a man grown, I will give him that accursedmoney, smelling of candles and incense, and he will give it back tothe nuns.’ And when time was ripe I transferred the whole lump to yourname at Rothschild’s. You made virtuous scruples about taking it, butyou never restored it whence it came!... Now you have showed yourbreed—you have poured it into the lap of a light woman. And you cometo me and own that, and ask for more to pitch after it!” He rappedout a huge oath. “Am I not justified in thinking you more my son thanMarie’s? Have I not the right to say I am disappointed in you?”

His voice was a mere croak. He went on, with his fierce, bloodshot eyesfixed on vacancy:

“Do you suppose I did not love your mother—have never longed forher—have ever forgotten her? I use her chocolate-set every morning....Her Indian shawl is the coverlet of my bed. When I have the gout in myeyes I tie a scarf she used to wear over them, like a bandage. There isvirtue in things that have been used by a Saint.”

He added:

“For a Saint she is ... and though, as you say I stole my joy in herfrom Heaven—do you suppose, for one moment, a woman like that is goingto let me be damned? She will wear her knees to the bone first; and soI tell you!... Was it not for the sake of my soul she went back to hercell at the Carmel? At the Day of Judgment one voice will be heard thatpleads for old Achille Dunoisse.”

One scanty teardrop hung on his inflamed and reddened underlid.

“But Saint or none, she loved me, like twenty women, by Heaven! And ifshe says she repents of that, again, by Heaven!—she lies!”

The solitary tear fell on his discolored hand. He shook itoff, angrily. Somewhere in the middle of that gross bundle ofcontradictions, absurdities, appetites, vices, resentments, hatreds,calling itself Achille Dunoisse—there beat and bled a suffering humanheart. And the distance[Pg 302] that separated the father and the son wasbridged by a moment of sympathy and understanding. And a pang of envypierced it through....

For the supreme jewel that Fate can bestow upon mortal, is the lovethat will even yield up the Beloved for Love’s sake. To this gross oldman, his sire, had been given what would never fall to the youngerDunoisse.

By the radiance of this great passion of Marie Bathilde’s, her son sawhimself in like case with some penniless student in a Paris garret,crouching, upon a night of Arctic cold, over a fire of paper and straw.When the small fierce flame of Henriette’s slight sensuous fancy shouldhave sunk down into creeping ashes under the starved hands spread aboveit, what would be left to live for? His heart was sick within him as hewent away.

He returned to Madame de Roux with the news that his application to theMarshal had succeeded. She threw her arms about him, in a transport ofjoy.

“Ah then, so you really love me?” the poor dupe asked, putting themost fatal of all questions. For it sets the interrogated he or shewondering, “Do I?” and hastens the inevitable end.

“How can you doubt it?” she queried, hiding an almost imperceptibleyawn behind her tiny fingers. “Did I not send away Eugène foryou?

She passed by gentle degrees to a question possessing much moreinterest. The amount to be placed upon the books at Rothschild’s to thecredit of the Marshal’s son.


So thickly did the deposit of golden plums lie at the bottom of thepie-dish—so handsomely did the Marshal keep his given word, thatat the suggestion of Henriette, Hector did some more shopping atthe vast comprehensive mart of the Élysée. General de Roux, puffinga cheroot and sweltering in his cane chair at the Military Club ofAlgiers, was to read in the official Gazette of the Army—a specialcopy, thoughtfully forwarded by an anonymous friend—that his lateAssistant-Adjutant had received yet[Pg 303] further promotion. That theCross of the Legion of Honor had been conferred upon him by thePrince-President, with his appointment as extra aide-de-camp of theStaff of the Élysée.

Thenceforwards at Reviews, Inspections, and other public functions,you saw the keen dark face shaded by the plumed cocked hat of aLieutenant-Colonel—the slender active figure set off by a brilliantuniform, as mounted on Djelma, or some animal even more beautiful andspirited, the lover of Henriette brought up the rear of the showycavalcade of Marshals, Generals, foreign envoys, aides-de-camp andStaff officers, galloping at the flying heels of the spirited Englishcharger ridden by Monseigneur.

What could the heart of man want more? At State dinners at the Élysée,shooting-parties at Fontainebleau, hunts at Compiègne, balls at theTuileries, Colonel Hector Dunoisse cut a gallant figure. His intriguewith Madame de Roux became a recognized liaison. Monseigneur wasso kind—the world was so charitable. Nobody dreamed of censuring, oreven looking askew.

In the galaxy of beautiful women that glittered about that risingplanet of Monseigneur’s, Henriette shone prominently. Many men’s eyeswere fixed in longing on that throbbing, radiant star. The man on whomits rays were shed knew himself envied. Secure in possession of whatothers keenly desired, he believed himself happy at last.

Happiest when, with that little hand of Henriette’s upon his arm,in some crush of gold-laced uniforms, diplomatic dress-coats,silks, satins, flowers, feathers and diamonds, he would encounter atall, bulky, officially-attired figure topped with a heavy, ugly,distinguished face; and meet the cold, repellent, cynical stare of deMoulny’s hard blue eyes.

The eyes would meet Redskin’s, the head would move slightly, respondingto Dunoisse’s own chilly, perfunctory salutation. Once or twice theyhad been near neighbors at the dinner-table.... What of that? Incivilized society one eats with one’s enemy. Only the nomad of thedesert and the savage of the jungle refuse to break bread with thosethey hold in suspicion or hate. And it is easy to forget a greatinjustice done you, by a friend[Pg 304] you have ceased to care for; and toforgive a wrong wrought by a man off whom you have doubly scored.

For de Moulny had been paid his money, had not Henriette said so?Besides, she had never exchanged a word with him alone since that nightof the fusillade.

She assured Dunoisse of this; and that their intercourse when they metwas limited to the briefest utterances compatible with common civility.Then, no matter for de Moulny, now Representative for the Departmentof Moulny upon Upper Drame, and Secretary-Chancellor at the Ministryof the Interior. Success was his, though the woman he had desired hadgiven her favors to another. Without the bliss that he had vainlycoveted, let de Moulny go upon his way....

Dunoisse believed that Henriette loved him, as he her, with passionand fidelity. He asked nothing better of Fate than that he should bepermitted to pass through life with those fairy fingers twined abouthis own. But sometimes when her beautiful hair was shed upon his breastand her lustrous eyes looked into his, and her lovely lips gave backhis kisses, the thought of the strange face that might be lurkingbehind those beautiful, beloved, familiar features would strike himcold with dread.

He thrust it from him, that conjectured image, but always it hoveredin the background of his mind. By the blood-red December dawn thatfollowed on the crime of the coup d’État another glimpse of theMedusa visage was to be vouchsafed him. The day was not yet when itshould be revealed in all its terror, and strike the man to stone.


France had not taken kindly to the notion of a plebiscite.The good city of Paris had had an indigestion of proclamations—wasbeginning to suspect the motives of her leading citizen. And thecapital roared and buzzed like a beehive of angry bees.

He needed very much to be Dictator for ten years at least, the littleman with the lank, drab hair, arrayed in the uniform of a General,adorned with the red cordon and the jeweled Grand Cross andStar of the Legion of[Pg 305] Honor, who sat, upon this night of November,1851, in a velvet armchair before the blazing wood-fire in his smallprivate cabinet upon the ground-floor, with the tips of his spurred,wonderfully polished little boots upon the bar of a sumptuous,palatial fender of solid silver-gilt. Twelve millions of francs perannum for nearly four years had left him deep in debt and horriblyembarrassed. When he should drive out of the courtyard of the Elysée atthe expiration of his tenure of office, the gaping jaws of a debtor’sprison were ready to engulf him. He knew that very well.

And he waited, on the horns of a dilemma, with the son of his mother,who secretly detested him; and Fleury, now his senior aide-de-camp, andSt. Arnaud, his War Minister, a lean, gaunt, dyed and painted personagewho had once been an actor at a suburban theater, who had served in theForeign Legion as a private soldier, who had seen much service, wonpromotion, and had now been recalled from Algeria by his friend. Forthe purpose of showing Parisians how warfare is conducted by civilizedforces against Kabyles and Arabs and Moors.

Money, money!

As the neat white fingers of France’s First Citizen twisted comicfigures out of paper, taken from a little inlaid table beside him wherewriting-materials were, his brain was busy with this vexing questionof how to get more cash. Hundreds of millions of francs had beenexpended during his tenure of office. The china, pictures and other Arttreasure of the Crown had been converted into bullion. The diamondsof the Crown and the Crown forests had become gold in the crucibleof the auction-room. And—presto! the vast sums thus realized hadvanished—nobody could exactly indicate how or whither—it was a puzzleto baffle Houdin. Nor could anyone point out the winners of the chiefprizes advertized in the Lottery of the Golden Ingots, which had, withmuch tootling of official trumpets and banging of official drums, beendrawn some days before.


There was a reception upon this particular evening: the little Palaceand its courtyard blazed with gas. A double line of carriages rolledceaselessly in and out of high gilded gates, their twinkling lampsreflected in the[Pg 306] cuirasses of the guard-of-honor. A steady streamof fire-worshipers, anxious to prostrate their foreheads in the dustbefore their god and luminary, rolled up the imposing flight ofred-carpeted doorsteps and through the gilded vestibule to the smallreception-rooms. Stars and Orders were not plentiful; Ambassadorswere conspicuous by their absence: the Minister for the UnitedStates being the only exception to this rule. But lovely women werepresent; the whole galaxy of the Élysée scintillated in the heavens,and there were plenty of young attachés of Legation and clerks ofthe Diplomatic Corps. And silks and satins, feathers and diamonds,flaunted by gorgeous cocodettes of the fashionable world, mingled therewith cotton-backed velvet, paste jewelry and cheap book-muslin; andgold-laced uniforms twinkling with decorations, jostled the black coatwith the tricolor rosette, whose wearer had tramped in from Montrougeor Menilmontant to save a ’bus fare, and had stowed his overcoat andgoloshes with the shawls and overshoes and umbrellas of his women-kindaway behind the pedestal of some vestibule-bronze or group of statuary,to avoid the fee that must otherwise be paid to one of the large,stately footmen in the Presidential livery, in return for a woodencounter and the assumption of responsibility for these discardedcoverings.

It was nearly midnight, and yet the sun had not risen; the magnificentband of the —th Hussars, stationed in the splendid gilt ballroom wherethe Prince-President had as a child witnessed the second abdicationof the Emperor Napoleon, had not yet crashed into Partant PourLa Syrie. It had been given out that Monseigneur was delayed bythe non-arrival of dispatches, detained by urgent affairs of State.Detectives, mingling with the throng of guests in the reception-rooms,kept their ears open for unfavorable comments: their eyes skinnedfor the possible interception of significant glances. Of which, hadthey but chosen to step outside the courtyard-gates, they might havegathered store.

For to be plain, Paris was in a state of ferment and disruption.Disaffection prevailed. Insurrection was rising to its old high-watermark. And the cries were: “Down with Bonaparte! Long live the Republic!Long live Law! Long live the Constitution! Down with the[Pg 307] Army, thepaid tool of the President who wants to be Emperor in spite of all hisoaths!” And the ganglion of narrow streets that made the center of thecity’s nervous system were being rapidly blocked by barricades builthigher than before....

What wonder if at this juncture the crying need of Monseigneur formoney opened a Gargantuan mouth for the bottle. Without money atthis juncture, the contemplated masterstroke of policy must fall asharmlessly as a blow from Harlequin’s lathen sword.

Money, money, money!...

And there were twenty-five millions of francs, belonging to the OrleansPrinces, lying in the Bank of France, which by a Presidential Decree,countersigned by the Home Secretary Count de Morny, might be profitablysequestrated. And, contained in a series of great painted andemblazoned deed-boxes, occupying a row of shelves in the strong-roomat the Ministry of the Interior, were the title-deeds to estates ofthe value of three hundred thousand millions more, vested in the handsof mere Trustees; who might argue and protest, but could, if it provednecessary, be gagged. And de Morny had just threatened to resign theHome Secretaryship if Monseigneur persisted in his intention of layingviolent hands on these unconsidered trifles—an exhibition of obstinacyboth ill-timed and in bad taste.

“Who the devil, my dear fellow,” he asked, “will bid for cities,forests, palaces and villages, even if you put these up to auction atreasonable prices, when the titles to these properties must remain—toput it delicately—uncertain? A new Government may arise which suffersfrom the excess of scruples. In that case the estates will be returnedto those whose property they are.”

De Morny, with his insufferable air of superiority, and the grandmanner which indubitably belonged to him, lounged against themantelshelf and looked down on Monseigneur. St. Arnaud, his long,lank form arrayed in the uniform of a Marshal, encrusted with bullionand blazing with decorations, lay on a sofa, sucking at the jeweledmouthpiece of a chibuk. De Fleury puffed out his cheeks as heblew cigarette-smoke into the fluffy, puzzled face of a gray Persiankitten that had climbed upon the shelf[Pg 308] of an ivory cabinet loaded withcostly china, and spat as he teased it with the plumes of his cockedhat.

“Who will buy? The answer is cut and dried. No one! And thisappropriation—as a first flight of the Imperial eagle—will makeyou infernally unpopular; not to warn you of this would be,” said deMoray, “a laches upon my part. Every petty shopkeeper who hastwo thousand francs in the savings-bank—every peasant who has a littleplot of land, will say to himself: ‘This fellow sticks at nothing. Poordevil though I am, I may be the next to be plundered.’ If you carry outthis project of yours, it will not be with my assistance. I will helpyou take an Empire very willingly, but not to plunder a strong-box.”

He looked at his watch, bowed with his easy grace, and went out. Theman who was his brother, and envied him, following the tall departingfigure with eyes of sickly hate.

“M. de Morny follows the cynical advice that is given in the Gospel ofSt. Luke,” he said with a bitter sneer. “He would keep on bowing-termswith the Princes of the House of Orleans, so that, should I fail, theymay receive him into their favor. His is the principle of hedge andtrim. Well, we know his breaking-point! In the event of his kickingover the traces,” he spoke the words in English, a familiar language toPersigny and de Fleury, “there is another upon whom I can depend.”

And he exchanged a look of intelligence with Persigny, his shadow. Forthe ex-sergeant-quartermaster of dragoons would not fail him, he knew,upon a point of honor or at a pinch of conscience. Persigny was withoutthese inconvenient things.

Meanwhile the door flew open again to re-admit de Morny, who insistedthat the night grew old; that the reception-rooms were crowded tosuffocation; that the long-delayed appearance of the President hadprovoked unfavorable comparisons, and created a bad impression; that hemust come without delay.

“Let them wait!” he said, with a dull flash of ill-humor, in answer tothe expostulations of Persigny. “Who are they, that they should not bekept waiting? Whom have we? A damnable rabble of bankers, stockbrokers,judges, generals, senators, Representatives and their wives and[Pg 309]mistresses.... You know very well that what the English would call the‘best people’ are those who do not come....”

Which was true. The private secretaries of the aged Duchesse deVeillecour, of the Faubourg St. Honoré, and of the venerable Marquisde l’Autretemps, being invariably instructed to return M. Bonaparte’scard of invitation, with the intimation that their respective employershad not the honor of knowing the gentleman who had sent it,—or with nointimation at all....

“Let them wait!” he said again. “Am I not waiting? For this messagefrom Walewski—for this ultimatum of my Lord Walmerston—for thisestablishment of the submarine electric telegraph between England andFrance. That gutta-percha covered wire stretching between the caveunder the South Foreland at Dover and the cliff station at Cape Grisnezis the jugular vein of my whole system of policy. Had it not brokentwice, should I not have prepared Paris with my proclamations—should Inot have struck the blow?”

He stuck out his chin as he rolled his head upon the cushioned backof his armchair and stared at the painted ceiling, and went on in hisdroning voice:

“That is, if I had had money—sufficient funds at my disposal. That aman like me should want money at such a moment proves that the Devil isa fool.”

St. Arnaud turned his long emaciated body and sagacious grayhound-facetowards the speaker. The sofa creaked beneath his weight, and one ofhis gold spurs, catching in the costly brocade cover, tore it with alittle ugly, sickening sound. He said, stroking the dyed tuft upon hischin with a gaunt pale hand glittering with rings of price:

“Monseigneur, pray do the personage you mention better justice. Hereally has served you better than you think!”

He had. The steam-packet Goliath of Dover, towing the ancientcable-hulk Blazer, the latter rolling fearfully, with adirefully seasick crew, and a hold containing but a few hundred yardsor so of the twenty-seven miles of cable which had been smoothly paidout over the Channel sea-floor, had dropped her anchors off CapeGrisnez an hour before sunset; and the end of the wire-bound rope[Pg 310] onwhich so much depended having been landed at the village of Sangatte,distant some three miles or so from Calais, communication had beenestablished with the operators in the cave under the South Forelandlighthouse at Dover. And a gun had been fired from the Castle; andtelegrams announcing the fact had been sent by the Chief Magistrateof Dover to the Queen and the Prince Consort, the Duke of Wellington,the King of Prussia, and a few other important personages. And theMayor had then despatched a message of congratulation to the FrenchPrince-President, which was being transmitted to Paris by means ofAmpère’s coil and needle, and the under-ground wire that followed thetrack of the Great Northern Railway Line.

But meanwhile a courier from the Embassy of France in Belgrave Square,London, chilled and hoarse from rapid traveling in the wintry weather,had arrived with the letter from Walewski. And when the neat whitehands for which it was destined had snatched the envelope from thesumptuous golden salver upon which it was respectfully presented by thePresident’s second aide-de-camp, its contents proved discouraging, tosay the least.

Count Walewski had pleaded his relative’s cause with eloquence. Theenclosure would prove with what result.

A check for two thousand pounds, enfolded in a sheet scrawled witha brief intimation in my Lord Walmerston’s stiff, characteristichandwriting, that no more of the stuff was to be had.


“How like the man! The icy, phlegmatic islander! Two thousand pounds! Anothing! A bagatelle!”

The little gentleman removed his polished boots from the chasedsilver-gilt fender. He was strongly tempted to throw the check intothe fire. But money is money, and he restrained himself. He folded theoblong slip of pink paper stamped with the magic name of Coutts andslipped it into his pocket note-case, gnawing, as was his wont, at theends of his heavy brown mustache and breathing[Pg 311] through his nose. Hegot up and looked upon his merry men with an ugly, livid smile, andsaid, still smiling:

“So be it! We take my Lord’s charity and we repay it. Without doubt—itshall be repaid by-and-by—with other debts owed by me to England. Hergrudging shelter, her insulting tolerance, her heavy, insolent, insularcontempt.”

Something in the speaker’s short thick throat rattled oddly. His eyes,that were usually like the faded negatives of eyes, glittered with adull, retrospective hate. The white hand shook as it stroked the brownchin-tuft, and a grayish shiny sweat stood upon his face.

“I am to be upheld and supported by Great Britain if I accomplishmiracles—but I am to accomplish them unaided. Two thousand pounds! Weare infinitely indebted to my Lord Walmerston’s generosity!”

St. Arnaud, who had got off the sofa, remarked with a full-flavoredoath:

“It is rating the Army cheap, by——!”

De Morny said, shrugging one shoulder and toying with his watch-chain:

“Two regiments of Russian Guards made an Empress of the Grand DuchessCatherine. Will not a couple of brigades do your little job for you?For my life, I cannot see why not?”

The tallow-candle-locked little man on the hearthrug retorted as hewarmed himself:

“Catherine only strangled her husband Peter. I have the Assembly tothrottle—a very different thing. To carry out my plan successfullyI must subsidize the whole Army—cram the pockets of every officeraccording to his grade—with thousand-franc billets—descend upon therank-and-file in a shower of wine and gold.”

De Fleury agreed.

Sapristi! it is as plain as a pikestaff. Those attempts ofStrasbourg and Boulogne failed because enough drink—sufficientmoney—was not lavished upon the soldiers. This time there will have tobe enough of both.”

“Has it ever occurred to you,” said de Morny, still in the tongue ofbarbarous Britain, as he dried the wet ink carefully, and glancedtowards St. Arnaud, whose sallow face betrayed suspicion and growingill-humor, at the continuance of this dialogue that he could notunderstand,[Pg 312] “that, like Herr Frankenstein of the German legend, youmay create out of the Army a monster that will one day prove dangerousto you?”

Persigny and de Fleury exchanged a glance unseen by their master. Hesaid, throwing the half-finished cigarette upon the hearth:

“Frankenstein killed his monster when he found it inconvenient. Thatwas a mistake; such a brute-force is always of use. He should have bledthe creature into weakness and submission. Then he could have kept ituntil wanted in a cage.”

“A sublime idea,” said de Morny, with the shadow of a grin upon hiswell-bred, dissipated countenance. “But permit me to suggest that ifyou attempt to act upon it, you will find your work cut out.”

“You have a biting vein of humor,” said Monseigneur, turning hisblinking regard upon the speaker. “Pursue it if it pleases you—itdoes not disturb me. I belong to the race of the lymphatics—theImperturbables, whom nothing annoys.”

Though he boasted, his quickened breathing betokened some degree ofdisturbance. His white hand was not steady as he took a handful ofcigarettes from a jeweled box that stood upon the mantelshelf, selectedone, and tossed the remainder of the handful into the maw of thered-hot fire, that swallowed the little paper tubes at a gulp. But histone was mellifluous as he added, striking a match:

“Pray do not speak English so much.... M. de St. Arnaud is not familiarwith the language.”

“His vocabulary being limited to ‘Goddam!’ ‘All right!’ and‘How-do-you-do?’—phrases sufficient to equip a second-class actor forthe part of stage Englishman in a vaudeville, but not,” said de Morny,still in the prohibited tongue, and smiling pleasantly at the lankyfigure in the gorgeous uniform topped by the made-up face with the dyedmustaches and the hyacinthine locks that were false in patches—“not toguide the War Minister of a great Continental Power through the rocksand shoals of diplomatic conferences with representatives of otherPowers. One will not fail to remember M. de St. Arnaud’s limitations.It will be well, my brother, if you will also. As for this decree, itmay be necessary, but the moment[Pg 313] is not ripe for it. It will do youinjury, take my word for that!”

“My brother,” though inwardly nauseated by the unwelcome counsel, tookit smilingly. He assumed his favorite pose, borrowed from the greatNapoleon, his short right leg advanced, his chin turned at an acuteangle, his left hand thrust behind the broad red ribbon, a fingerhitched between two buttons of his tight-waisted general’s coat, andsaid with his most pompous air:

“M. de Morny, in answer to your objections to my proposed course ofpolicy, I reply by dictating a Proclamation addressed by the Presidentof the Republic to the French People. Be good enough to take your seatat the writing-table.”

De Morny obeyed. Monseigneur cleared his throat, and reeled off:

Our country is upon the horns of a dilemma, in the throes of acrisis of the gravest. As her sworn protector, guardian and defender,I take the step necessary to her rescue and salvation—I withdrawfrom the Bank twenty-five millions of francs wrung from her veins bythe masters who have betrayed her—I apply them as golden ointment tostanch her bleeding wounds.

Said de Morny, with imperturbable gravity, speaking in the Englishlanguage, as he selected a sheet of paper and dipped his pen in the ink:

“Article I. will provide that hereafter stealing is no robbery. ArticleII. should ordain that henceforth it is not murder to kill!”

The coldly-spoken words dropped one by one into a silence ofconsternation. St. Arnaud sat up; de Fleury dropped his cocked hat uponthe carpet. Persigny grew pale underneath his rouge. Monseigneur alonemaintained his urbane coolness, looking down his nose as he strokedhis heavy brown mustache with the well-kept hand that, with all itsfeminine beauty, was so pitiless. Thus his blinking glance was arrestedby the letter on the hearthrug. And a postscript that he had overlookednow caught his eye. He stooped, lifted the letter, and read, written inWalewski’s fine Italian script:

Walmerston is cooling; there is no doubt about the change inhim. Better strike whilst the iron is hot, or decide to abandon theidea.

[Pg 314]

“And risk all ... or give up all. Very well, my friend!” he said,apostrophising the absent writer as though he could hear him, “I willrisk all. I wait for nothing but the cable now.”

Even as he said the words the privileged elderly aide-de-camp enteredwith the thin blue envelope that held the cablegram. He tore it open,and read:



It was given to William John Tomlinson to rouse the venomous reptilethat lay hidden in this man out of his wintry torpor. A bitter oathbroke from him as he read the message. He tore the flimsy scrawledpaper and the blue envelope into a dozen pieces, and scrunched them inhis small neat hand before he threw the lump of paper on the Persianhearthrug, and spat upon it with another oath, and ground it under hisspurred heel.

Not one of those about him had ever seen him so moved. De Morny liftedhis eyebrows in C, de Fleury and Persigny looked at each other inconsternation, St. Arnaud’s jaw dropped; he gulped, staring at hismaster with bulging eyes, as Monseigneur strove before them, in thestrange emotion that possessed him, wrestling with something thatplucked at his muscles and jerked his limbs, and contorted his heavyfeatures, and wrenched the ugly jaw that the drooping mustache and thethick chin-tuft tried to hide, to the right and left as though the manhad been a figure of wood and wires worked by some devil at play.

“The Mayor,...” he croaked, after a dumb struggle for speech. “TheChief Magistrate of Dover congratulates the Chief Magistrate of Paris.Damnably amusing!... Good!—very good!”

His laugh was a snapping bark, like the sound made by a dog in rabies.He went on, heedless of the faces[Pg 315] gathered about him, speaking, notto them, but to that other hidden self of his; the being who dweltbehind the dough-colored mask, and looked through the narrow eye-slits,guessed at, but never before seen:

“You comprehend, Madame of England and that sausage of Saxe-CoburgSaalfeld, her Consort, think it beneath their exalted dignity tobandy courtesies with me.... Me, the out-at-elbows refugee, the shadycharacter—the needy Prince-Pretender—admitted upon sufferance toWest of London Clubs; exhibited as a curiosity in the drawing-roomsof English Society—stared at as some cow-worshiping jewel-hung HinduRajah, or raw-meat-eating Abyssinian King.” He clenched his pretty handand went on, carried away by the tide of bitter memories:

“One day, when I visited the Zoological Garden in their Regent’s Park,I saw something that I shall not forget. A great hooded snake of thecobra species—they called it a hamadryad—had just been brought upfrom the East India Docks. When he found himself a prisoner in hisiron-framed, plate-glass cage, he reared himself up in magnificentfury. His forked tongue quivered between his frothing jaws; hevibrated, poised upon his lower coils; struck again and again—anddid nothing but bruise himself. Something that he could not break—abarrier adamantine and invisible, lay between him and the staring humanfaces he so hated. The clear jets of deadly venom that he spurted inhis efforts to reach them trickled harmlessly down the glass....”

He went on:

“I saw myself at Ham when I looked at that creature in its lonelinessand impotence, surrounded by the keepers who jeered and mocked....Death in its fangs and death in its heart, and that barrier of glassbetween.... There were workmen with tools among those who stared athim. One shattering blow of a pick, and he would have been free—thatliving Terror, to kill, and kill, and kill!...”

He looked about him, and said, with his affected mildness:

“The pick-blow that cracks the glass of my cage will be the coupd’État, but not until I am Emperor of France will the barrier bedone away with.... Do you know what Queen Victoria once said of me toLady Stratclyffe? ‘My dear, let me beg of you not to mention M.Bonaparte[Pg 316] before Albert. He considers him hardly a person to be spokenof—not at all a person to know! And yet how can one deny him somemeasure of respect and consideration—as a near relative of Napoleonthe Great.’”

He had another struggle with his rending devil, and said, when he hadfound his speech again:

“‘Great!’ Was he so great, that man for whose sake Victoria wouldaccord me ‘respect and consideration’? True, he humbled Emperors,browbeat and bullied Kings.... He kicked the board of Europe, andarmies were jumbled in confusion. His screaming eagles carried panic,and terror, and devastation as far as the Pyramids. The East bowed herjeweled forehead in the dust before him—a nation of beef-fed islandersput him to the rout!”

His eyes, wide open now and glazed, looked upon the men who listened,unseeing as the eyes of a somnambulist. He said in that voice that wasa croak:

“And he died, the prisoner and slave of England. Before I die, Englandshall be mine!”

Perhaps he fancied that he detected a faint, supercilious sneer uponthe face of de Morny. For he turned upon the Count, and said, narrowinghis eyelids, and smiling in a menacing way:

“You, my brother, take this assertion as a piece of boasting. Well, Iam content that you should regard it so. Members of Christ’s familyheld in contempt His powers of prophecy. Nevertheless, Jerusalem fell,and the Temple was leveled with the dust.”

“By my faith!” said de Morny, shrugging his thin wide shoulders. “Aparallel that!”

“A parallel, as you say,” returned Monseigneur, who had made theastonishing comparison with the coolest effrontery. “Now, if you willgive me pen, ink, and paper, I will write the answer to this letterfrom Belgrave Square.”

They supplied him with these things, and he wrote, in his pointedspidery hand, stooping over the desk of an inlaid ivory escritoire—adainty thing whose drawers and pigeon-holes had contained the politicalcorrespondence of Queen Marie Antoinette and the love-letters ofamorous Josephine:

Tell my Lord that I carry out my programme. Upon[Pg 317] the morning ofthe second of December, at a quarter-past six punctually, I strike thedecisive blow.

He signed the sheet with his initials, folded and slipped it in anenvelope, and motioned to de Morny to prepare the wax to receive hissignet. While the red drops were falling on the paper, like gouts ofthick blood, he said, with his smile:

“It may be that this second of December will prove to be my eighteenthBrumaire.”

And when Persigny inquired to which of the official messengers theletter should be entrusted for conveyance to London, he replied:

“To none of them. An aide-de-camp will attract less notice. And he mustbe a mere junior, an unimportant person whom nobody will be likely tofollow or molest.”

An ugly salacious humor curved his pasty cheeks and twitched at hisnostrils as he went on:

“Suppose we send Dunoisse? Madame de Roux adores him, but there areoccasions upon which she would find it more convenient to adore himfrom a distance. One can easily comprehend that!”

He added, as his merry men roared with laughter:

“It is decided, then. Colonel Dunoisse shall be our messenger. Praytouch the bell, M. de St. Arnaud.”

A moment later the band of the —th Hussars crashed magnificently intothe opening bars of “Partant Pour La Syrie,” and Monseigneur,imperturbable and gracious as ever, was smiling on the “damnablerabble” crowding to bask in the rays of their midnight-risen sun. Andbeyond the big gilded gates of the little palace Paris buzzed androared like an angry beehive into which some mischief-loving urchin haspoked a stick.


The egg of the coup d’État was hatched as the train that carriedMonseigneur’s secret messenger rushed over the iron rails that sped itto the sea.

We know his programme, masterly in detail, devilish in its crushing,paralyzing, merciless completeness. The posting of notices atevery street corner, in every public square,[Pg 318] on every tree of theboulevards, proclaiming that crowds would thenceforth be dispersed bymilitary force, Without Warning; the distribution of troops;the disposition of batteries; the arrests of the Representatives, thepublication of the Decree dissolving the Assembly; the seizure of theMinistry of the Interior; the closure of the High Courts of Justice—asymbolical gagging and blinding of the Law. And Paris, rising early onthat red December morning, turned out under the chilly skies to readher death-sentence, ignorant of its true nature; and to wonder at themilitary spectacle provided for her eyes.

For the five brigades of Carrelet’s Division, cavalry and infantry,extended in échelon from the Rue de la Paix to the FaubourgPoissonière. Each brigade with its artillery, numbering seventeenthousand Pretorians, give additional regiments, with a reserve of sixtythousand men, being held in readiness to use cannon, saber, pistol,and bayonet upon the bodies of their fellow-countrymen and women, thatFrance might be saved, according to Monseigneur.

The First Regiment of Lancers, to their eternal dishonor, opened theball. Amidst cries of “Long live the Republic!” “Down with LouisBonaparte, traitor to the people!” they charged the crowd. Men, women,and children were ruthlessly cut down: and then, from the GymnaseTheater to the Bains Chinois, took place the Great Battue.

Killing is thirsty work. Wine flowed down the soldiers’ throats inrivers, as the blood of their victims rolled down the Paris gutters.And as the slayers flagged they were stimulated to fresh exertions.Food, drink, and cigars were lavished upon them. Rolls of gold werebroken and shared among them like sticks of chocolate. Women werepromised them by-and-by. Long after the soldiers were too drunk tostand upright they went on killing—an instance of devotion whichbrought tears of sensibility to the eyes of Monseigneur.

It was late, and raining heavily, when the Folkestone train clankedinto Waterloo Station. The yellow gaslights were reflected in thenumerous puddles on the slippery wooden platform; in the shiny peaksof porters’ caps, and in the dripping oilskins of cabmen. A red-nosedJehu,[Pg 319] suffering from almost total extinction of the voice, undertookto convey Dunoisse to Belgrave Square, the haggard beast attached tothe leaky vehicle accomplishing the journey in a series of stumbles,slides, and collapses.

“Vy does the ’orse fall down?” indignantly repeated the husky driver,to whom Dunoisse, on alighting for the second time to assist theprostrate steed to rise, had addressed this question. “Vy, becos’ hecan’t stand hup, nor no more could you, my topping codger, after twentyhours on the job.”

He drove his fare to the address given without further casualty,pocketed Dunoisse’s liberal fare without any perceptible emotion, and,warning an advancing hall-porter to be careful, for he had brought him“something wallyble,” jerked and prodded his drooping beast into somefaint show of vitality, and rattled and jingled away.

The windows of the Embassy blazed with lights, music thrilled andthrobbed upon the ear, a double line of waiting carriages extendedalong the railings of the Square garden,—late arrivals were evennow being set down in the shelter of the awning that protected thecrimson-carpeted doorsteps from the sooty downpour; police were on dutyin unusual force, and the six tall cuirassiers of the Embassy weredwarfed into insignificance by a British guard of honor, betokeningthe presence of Royalty; stately, splendid Household Cavalrymen, whosegold-laced scarlet blue velvet facings, gleaming steel cuirasses, andsilver, white-plumed helmets lined the flower-decked vestibule, andstruck savage splendid chords of color amidst the decorations of themarble staircase, where Gloire de Dijon roses and yellow chrysanthemumswere massed and mingled with the trailing foliage of smilax, and thetall green plumes of ferns.

The Tricolor was barely in evidence. The Imperial colors of greenand gold, displayed in the floral decorations, predominated in thedraperies that hung below the carved and gilded cornices, and beneaththe pillared archways that led to the dining and reception rooms.The full-length portrait of the Prince-President that hung over thesculptured marble fireplace had a canopy of emerald velvet spangledwith fleurons, and upheld by eagles perched on laurel-wreathed spears.And above the head of the portrait, slender gilded tubes formed theletter N, and above[Pg 320] the initial, concealed by a garland of trailingrose-boughs, lurked another more significant device....

Thus much evidence of preparation at the Embassy for some event ofprofound importance was evident to the bearer of the letter from theÉlysée, before the steward of the chambers, a stately gold-chainedpersonage in discreet black, accosted the stranger, and at the sightof a signet bearing a familiar coat-of-arms, conducted him in hasteto an apartment on the rear of the ground-floor, reserved for similararrivals; set sandwiches, cold game, and champagne-cup before him;indicated a dressing-room adjoining where the stains of travel might beremoved; and disappeared, to return before the rage of hunger had beenhalf-appeased, ushering in a handsome personage in a brilliant Hussaruniform, who greeted Dunoisse as an acquaintance, and shook him warmlyby the hand.

“There has been a great dinner this evening,” explained this personage,who held the post of First Military Attaché to France’s Embassy.“The entire Corps Diplomatique accredited to the Court of St.James’s, to meet the Duke of Bambridge and Lord Walmerston. His RoyalHighness will be leaving directly; those Life Guards in the square andin the vestibule are his escort of honor. Magnificent men, are theynot? But less active dismounted than our own Heavy Cavalry. Are yousufficiently refreshed? You will take nothing more? You are positive?Then be good enough to come with me.”

And they returned to the hall, to commence the ascent of thegreat staircase, as a steady, continuous stream of well-bred,well-dressed people began to flow downwards in the direction of therefreshment-buffets. The slender, supple figure of the stranger,attired in plain, close-fitting mufti black, relieved only by the redrosette at the left lapel, closely following its brilliant guide,attracted many curious glances as it passed.

“The women wear magnificent jewels, and are handsome, are they not?”commented the Hussar. “These English skins of cream and roses, thesethick, straight profiles, these rounded contours, these fine eyes,lacking expression and fire, but still magnificent, these superbchevelures would atone to most men for their lack of grace andverve. But to me, my dear fellow—word of honor! the littlefinger of a chic Parisienne is worth the whole of[Pg 321] Belgravia.Pray, how is Madame de Roux? Heavens! how her presence would eclipse aroomful of British beauties! They tell me”—possibly the speaker wasnot guileless of a dash of malice—“de Roux is exerting himself to gettransferred to a Home command. For me, I find that natural. Don’t you?”

And the attaché, whose loquacious vivacity could not hide theexcitement and suspense under which he was laboring, and which werepalpably shared by every official encountered on the way upstairs,paused at a curtained archway at the end of a short corridor on thesecond floor, and said, lifting the velvet drapery that Dunoisse mightpass within:

“This is His Excellency’s library. Wait a moment, and I am instructedto say that he will join you here. Excuse me that I am compelled toleave you now!”

The curtain fell heavily, blotting out the handsome martial figure.Dunoisse moved forwards, and found himself in the middle of anoctagonally-shaped library, furnished in the somber, sumptuousstyle of the Empire. Bronze bookcases, surmounted by crowned eaglesholding wreaths of bay and laurel in their beaks, lined the walls,bronze-colored velvet curtains draped the windows, the walnut furniturewas upholstered in bronze leather; the needed note of color beingsupplied by the superb Persian rugs that covered the polished walnutparquet, the single gorgeous amaryllis that bloomed in a tub ofNankin ware upon an inlaid ivory stool, and the brilliant trophiesof Eastern arms that gleamed from the upper walls and covered theceiling. A glowing fire of billets burned on the bronze dogs of thefireplace. Above the carved walnut mantelshelf, where groups of waxtapers burned in silver candelabra, hung a fine replica from the brushof David, of the painter’s imposing, heroic, impossible portrait ofNapoleon crossing the Alps. And Dunoisse, sinking down with a sigh ofrelief amongst the cushions of a capacious armchair and stretchinghis chilled feet towards the cheerful hearth-glow, remembered with afaint amusement how violent an outburst of indignation this pictureinvariably provoked from the Marshal; who with many oaths woulddenounce the long dead-and-buried painter as an ass and a jackanapes,incapable of imagining the conqueror of the Simplon as anything but abarley-sugar soldier, or of[Pg 322] representing upon canvas the true spiritof War.

“He rode a mule, did my General, and left his charger to his bâtmen.The flaps of his cocked hat were turned to keep the snow out of hisneck and ears; he tied them down with a peasant-wench’s red woolenshawl, and wrapped himself in an old gray cloak lined with skinsof lambs. Death of my life! the road to glory is not paved withsugar-plums and rose-leaves.... A fellow who looked one way and spurredhis beast another as the fool is doing in that accursed picture wouldhave found himself at the bottom of an ice-gulf before he could say‘Crac!’”

There was something in the Marshal’s roughly blocked-out word-sketchthat warmed the heart and stirred the blood as the classical equestrianfigure of the David portrait failed to do. Dunoisse, even in hischildish days, had recognized this. He was looking at the picturebetween half-closed eyelids; and the spirited charger had begun toshrink into a mule, and the red woolen shawl of homely truth hadcovered up the laced cocked hat of ornamental fiction, when theimperative summons of a door-bell pealed through the house, and wassucceeded by a sudden lull in the Babel of general conversation.


Dunoisse, roused by the unmistakable double ring of a telegraphicmessenger, started to his feet. The undelivered letter in his breastseemed to burn there like red-hot iron. His keen ears prickedthemselves for what he knew must come, if this were as he suspected, acable from Paris.

He stepped towards the door, put aside the velvet draperies of theportière, and turned the handle. He emerged upon the landing,where a few persons were gathered, conferring eagerly in undertones.He moved to the balustrade of the great well-staircase, and lookeddown into the flower-decked, brilliantly illuminated hall, to find itpacked with a solid mass of heads of both sexes, all ages, and everyshade of color. Bald craniums of venerable diplomats nodded beside themore amply thatched heads of middle-age politicians or the hyacinthinecurls of juvenile[Pg 323] Guardsmen; tiaras of diamonds crowning snow-whiteor chestnut, sable or golden locks, blazed and coruscated, wreaths offlowers twined in Beauty’s tresses made a garden for the eye. And allthese heads, it seemed to Dunoisse, were turned towards the full-lengthportrait of Monseigneur, attired in the uniform of a General of theFrench Army, smiling with his imperturbable amiability above the marblefireplace.

For what were they all waiting? Leaning over the balustrade above,Dunoisse could see that a small round ventilator in the wallimmediately above the picture, and hidden from the persons assembledin the hall below by the bespangled canopy, was open. Through theaperture came a hand holding a lighted taper; and in another moment,with a faint hissing sound, the initial N and an Imperial crown aboveit leaped into lines of vivid wavering flame.

Babel broke loose then. Questions, ejaculations, comments,explanations, congratulations, in half-a-dozen European languages,crossed and recrossed in the air like bursting squibs. And seeingofficials and attachés of the Embassy beset by eager questions; andconscious that curious glances from below were raking his own dark,unfamiliar features, Dunoisse, as a wave of excited humanity began toroll up the grand staircase, retreated to the library, knowing that thecoup d’État was an accomplished fact.

He had left the library empty, but he found it occupied. A lady and agentleman had entered by a door at the more distant end. The lady’sback was towards Dunoisse. Her male companion, a tall and handsomeman of barely middle age, wearing the gold-embroidered uniform of thediplomatic corps with grace and distinction, said to her, in the act ofquitting the room:

“Wait here. I will go and order the carriage, but the crush is so greatthat some delay is unavoidable. Mary shall come and keep you company.By that small private staircase communicating with the dining-roomshe can join you quite quietly and unobserved. No one will be likelyto disturb you. M. Walewski will not be able to escape from thecongratulations of his circle for a considerable interval, and MadameWalewski is engaged with the Duke.”

The speaker withdrew by the more distant door, softly[Pg 324] closing itbehind him. And Dunoisse stood still in the shadow of a massivewriting-table, flung by the light of fire and candle upon the heavyvelvet curtain behind him, uncertain whether to remain or to retreat.One moment more; and then, as the tall, slender, white-robed figure ofthe lady turned and moved towards him across the richly hued Orientalcarpets, a memory, faint as a whiff of sweetness from some jar ofancient pot-pourri, wakened in him, quickening as she drew nearerinto fragrance fresh and as living as that exhaled by the bouquet ofpure white roses clustering in their glossy dark green leaves, thatshe carried in her slight gloved hand; and by their fellow-blossoms,drooping in the graceful fashion of the day, amidst the heavy shiningcoils of her rippling gold-brown hair.

For it was Ada Merling.

He drew noiselessly back into the shadow, looking at her intently. Adress of costly fabric, frost-flowers of Alençon lace wrought uponcloudy tulle, billowed and floated about her slender, rounded form.Glimpses of shimmering sea-blue showed through the exquisite folds.The moony glimmer of great pearls, and the cold white fire of diamondscrowned her rich hair and clasped her fair throat, circled her slightwrists, and heaved on her white bosom. Jewels and laces could not addto her beauty in the eyes of those who loved her. To Dunoisse therevelation of the loveliness that had been gowned in Quaker gray,crowned with the frilled cap of the nurse, and uniformed with thebibbed apron, came with a shock that took his breath away.

She had not seen him, standing by the curtain. She evidently believedherself alone when she dropped her fan and bouquet on a divan, asthough their inconsiderable burden had oppressed her, and moved towardsthe fireplace. She looked steadfastly at the replica of the Davidportrait of the Great Napoleon that hung above. Her name was uponDunoisse’s lips, when the sound of the unforgotten voice of melodyarrested it. She spoke; and her words were addressed, not to the livingman who heard, but to the deaf, unheeding dead.

“Oh, you with the inscrutable pale face and the cold, hard, pitilesseyes! who point forwards ceaselessly,” she[Pg 325] said, “scourging your dyingsoldiers along the road of Death with the whip of your remorseless,merciless will, do you know what he has done, and is doing?—theman who bears your name, and would, if he could, revive the witheredglories of your Empire by dipping them in a bath of human blood.... Doyou hear the shrieks, and groans, and prayers for mercy? Do you seethe red tide running in the streets of Paris? Do you see the peoplebutchered at the police-bureau and guard-houses? And seeing, do you ownthe slayer as a son of your House?... I cannot believe that you andhe have anything in common.... You were a magnificent despot, a royaltiger, but this man is——”

“Mademoiselle!” broke from Dunoisse, as with a mostpainfully-embarrassing consciousness upon him that his unsuspectedpresence should in decency have been made known to her ere now, hemoved from the shadow of the doorway.

“Who is it?”

She turned her face to him, and it was pale and agitated, and therewere tragic violet circles round the great brilliant blue-gray eyes.They recognized Dunoisse, and she held out her hand in the frank waythat he remembered, and he took it in his own.

“Monsieur Dunoisse!... Colonel Dunoisse I should say now, should I not?”

“I thank you,” he said, “for not completely forgetting me; otherwise, Ihardly know how I should have recalled myself to you.”

“Why so? You have not changed,” she answered, looking in the dark keenface. And then, as the light of fire and candles showed the fine linesgraven about its eyes and mouth, and the sprinkling of gray hairs uponthe high, finely modeled temples, she added: “And yet I think you have.”

“Time is only kind to beautiful women!” Dunoisse responded, paying herthe implied compliment with the gallantry that had become habitual. Butshe answered with a contraction of the brows:

“Time would be kind if this December day, that dawned upon the betrayalof the French Republic, and set upon the massacre and slaughter of hercitizens, could be wiped from the calendar forever.”

[Pg 326]

Tears sprang to her eyes and fell, and her bosom heaved under thejewels that sparkled on its whiteness.

“One should never consent to act against one’s own innate convictions,even to gratify the dearest living friends,” she said. “My mother, thekindest and most unselfish of women, has never ceased to regard mychosen work as a kind of voluntary martyrdom; my duties at the Home,absorbing and delightful as they are, as irksome and unpleasant. ‘IfAda would go out into Society sometimes,’ she says constantly, ‘itwould be more natural!’ And so, to please the dear one—who has been,and still is, very ill, and whom I have been nursing—I accepted theirExcellencies’ invitation, left her sick-bed, put on my fallals andtrinkets—and came here with Mr. and Mrs. Bertham to-night—to join,although I did not know it, in celebrating the perpetration of a crime,and hailing as a great and memorable stroke of statecraft a deed ofinfamy.”

The letter in Dunoisse’s breast became an oppressive burden. His eyesfell under hers. She pursued, with a deepening, intensifying expressionand tone of horror and repulsion.

“For that the banquet in which I shared to-night was intended tocelebrate this day that has seen the triumph of bad faith and meandeceit, and hideous treachery, over generous confidence and open trust,can be doubted by no one!... And while we ate and drank, and laughedand chatted, sitting at the table of his plenipotentiary, whathorrors were taking place in Paris! what crimes were being committedagainst Law, against Honor, against Humanity, against God!...”

Her voice broke. Innumerable little shining points of moisturestarted into sight upon her broad, pure forehead, and in the shadowof the silken waves upon her blue-veined temples, and about her pale,quivering lips. She said, lifting her lace handkerchief and wiping themoisture away:

“I speak thus to you, who are an officer of the Army of France; whohold a post of confidence—or so I have been given to understand—onthe Prince’s Military Staff. It may be that you prize Success aboveIntegrity, that the result of the coup d’État will justify inyour eyes the measures that have been taken to carry it out. But,knowing what I know of you—having heard from that dear[Pg 327] lady,—who isnow, I earnestly believe, crowned in a more glorious life than that ofearth, with the reward of her pure faith and simple virtues,—the storyof your renunciation of great fortune and high prospects for the sakeof principle and honor—I cannot believe this. If it were so, you wouldbe changed, not only in outward appearance, but in mind, and heart, andsoul.”

She added, with an almost wistful smile:

“And I do not wish to find you so. I prefer, when it is possible, tokeep my ideals intact.”

“Miss Merling,” returned Dunoisse, “I break no bond of secrecy insaying to you that the coup d’État has long been expected, bothby the enemies and the friends of Monseigneur the Prince-President.But although the most minute preparations have been made to insureperfection in the military operations and the proceedings of thepolice; the friends most depended on by His Highness—the agents mostnecessary to the execution of his plan—have had no knowledge of whatwas to be their share in the programme until the moment for actionarrived. The Prince, M. de Morny, M. de St. Arnaud, M. de Persigny,Colonel de Fleury, and M. de Maupas, alone shared the secret. And theyhave kept it well!”

“Too well!” she said, and her arched brows drew into straight linesof condemnation over the severity of her clear gaze. “One would haveprayed for less perfection! The plot has been a masterpiece of coolMachiavellian treachery, devised with extraordinary genius, and carriedout with consummate skill. It is hinted that Lord Walmerston approvesand encourages, if he has not aided and abetted.”.... A shudder rippledthrough her slight body. “Oh, I knew him subtle as Odysseus,” she said,with starting tears of indignation—“but I never believed him guileful;never imagined that he could justify God-defying, cold-blooded murderas a means to an end. If this indeed be so, those who have termed himEngland’s typical and representative Englishman”—the tone was of keen,cutting sarcasm—“must find him another description. Hell’s typicaland representative devil”—Dunoisse started as the fierce condemnatorysentence rang through the room—“is he whom you call master! The jailerwho has turned the key upon the freedom of the people of France!”

[Pg 328]

“Miss Merling, the ways of Government and Rule are bestrewn withobstacles and beset with pearls,” returned Dunoisse, “and Expediencydemands many moral sacrifices on the part of those who sit on thecoach-boxes of the world. As a man of honor”—the well-used word felllightly from his lips as he slightly shrugged his shoulders—“I deplorethat they should be necessary! But in the years that have passed sinceit was my privilege to meet you, I have learned to swim with thestream; to take Life as I find it; and not to ask a greater excess ofnobility and virtue from my neighbors than I possess in myself.”

His slight momentary embarrassment had passed away. He had recoveredhis customary ease and sangfroid, and the acquired manner of hisworld, self-confident, almost insolent in its cool assurance, lent itsmeretricious charm to the handsome face and upright gallant figure ashe faced her smiling, the ruddy firelight enhancing the brilliancy ofhis black eyes and the ruddy swarthiness of hue that distinguished him,his supple, well-shaped hand toying with a fine waxed end of the neatblack mustache.

“Nothing, Mademoiselle,” he went on, “would distress me more profoundlythan to think that credit was given me for opinions I have long learnedto regard as prejudiced and crude, and a course of conduct subsequentexperience has proved to have been so mistaken that I have long sinceendeavored to correct its errors by adopting an opposite policy. I——”


He ceased, for a sudden burning wave of color flooded her to thetemples. Her white throat and bosom were tinged with the red stain.

He bit his lip in chagrin, seeing her recoil from him. Fair women werenot wont to turn their eyes from Dunoisse. He began, in much lessconfident tones, to exonerate himself:

“In the world of to-day, Mademoiselle, especially the world of Paris,one is compelled to abandon high ideals of life and forsake the morerigid standards of conduct. One is forced....”

She looked at him full, and the scathing, merciless contempt[Pg 329] in hergreat eyes both froze and scorched him. He stammered, bungled, brokedown. The clear voice said with a cutting edge of irony:

“The boy of whom my dear old friend, Miss Caroline Smithwick, spokewith so much affection; the young man of whom she was so proud, was notto be ‘compelled’ or ‘forced’ to turn from the path of truth and honorby any stress of circumstances. You have changed very much, ColonelDunoisse, since you visited her in Cavendish Street! Good-night to you,and good-by!”

The tall, white-robed figure was sweeping to the door, when it stopped,and turned, and came back again. She said, with almost a pleading look:

“But I cannot leave you so, remembering how true and kind you were toher. My fault is to be over hasty in judgment, I fear.” Sheadded: “There must be many excuses that you could make for yourself,and are too proud and too reserved to offer.... Especially to one whohas no claim upon your confidence; so let us part friends, even thoughwe never meet as friends again!”

He took the white, firm hand she held out. He had thought her insularand prejudiced, narrow-minded and intolerant. Some magic in her touchwrought a change in him. He said in a far different tone:

“That I have sinned against your ideals of character and principle ismy punishment. Tell me—Miss Merling—if I had been the kind of manyou thought me—if I had come back to Cavendish Street and sought yourfriendship—would it have been denied?”

“No!” she said, looking in his face with beautiful candor. “For I sawmuch to admire and to respect in you—as you were in days gone by.”

“The world dubbed me, very plainly—a fool for being what I was inthose days,” returned Dunoisse, with a slight deprecatory lift ofshoulders and eyebrows. “And frankly, Mademoiselle, I had not thecourage requisite to go against the world.”

“If you were a fool, you were God’s fool,” she answered him, “and suchfolly is superior to the wisdom of the sages. Now, good-by, ColonelDunoisse.”

And, with a slight inclination of the head, she withdrew her handand moved away, as the farther door of the library opened, admittingMadame Walewski, her homeliness[Pg 330] painfully accentuated by her dazzlingdress of gold brocade and famous parure of Brazilian emeralds;and another lady, dark-haired, sweet-faced, and of middle height,dressed in half-mourning, towards whom Ada Merling hurried, saying in atremulous whisper as she caught the outstretched hand:

“Oh, Mary, come!....”

And then the three ladies were gone, retreating by that farther doorinto unknown, conjectural regions; and the velvet curtain lifted anddropped behind Dunoisse, and he turned, instinctively drawing thePrince’s letter from his breast, to meet the radiant blue eyes andgraceful, cordial greeting of Count Walewski, and to be presented tothe Ambassador’s companion, Lord Walmerston....

You saw the all-powerful Foreign Minister as a hale, vigorous, elderlygentleman, displaying a star, and the broad red ribbon and oval goldbadge of a Civil G.C.B., and the befrogged and gold-laced swallow-tailof official ceremony rather awkwardly, upon a heavy-shouldered,somewhat clumsy figure, though the black silk stockings showedwell-made legs, and gold-buckled, patent-leather shoes set off thesmall, neat feet.

Little enough remained at this period of the dandified elegancethat had won repute at Almack’s in 1820, and the grace that hadmade him famous in the waltz. The weather-beaten face, surroundedby pepper-and-salt hair and whiskers, the square-ended, sagaciousnose and flexible, curving lips, might have belonged to a shrewd,humorous, Northern farmer rather than a brilliant statesman; while thejerky manner, the odd gesticulations that accompanied the hesitating,drawling speech, made the stranger to whom it was addressed ask himselfin wonder whether this could really be the great orator, the dazzlingpolitician, the famous diplomat who had steered England’s ship of Statethrough so many troubled foreign seas? until the keen, dark, glitteringeyes met and held his own; and under the merciless, piercing scrutinyof their regard the querist ceased to question, and the critic foundhimself appraised, weighed, judged, and valued by a mind without itsparallel in the science of reading men.

One phrase employed by him was to linger in Dunoisse’s memory. He said,as Walewski handed him the letter[Pg 331] from the Élysée, and he wiped histortoiseshell-rimmed eyeglasses to read:

“You herald the event after its occurrence, Colonel.”

And a moment later, folding up the sheet and returning it:

“His Imperial Highness certainly owes less to a fortuitous concourseof atoms than to his own ability, energy, and tact.” He added withemphasis: “This is an immense act; its importance can hardly beoverestimated. For my part, I officially recognize it, and shall adhereto my determination to support it.”

Then, as Walewski, flushed with a triumph he could hardly control,murmured a gracefully-worded, low-toned entreaty, he responded:

“Ah! I understand. You wish me to write a line to His ImperialHighness, recapitulating what I have just said, to be conveyed withyour own loyal congratulations by his messenger?...”

Walewski, unable to trust himself to speak, bowed assent. Perhaps thehand that held the tortoiseshell-rimmed eyeglasses knew a moment ofunsteadiness as its owner’s swift brain balanced the question of risks.Then, with characteristic boldness, my lord took the leap.

“Certainly, my dear Count—certainly. I see no objection at all!”

And, with a slight jerky nod of dismissal for Dunoisse, accompaniedby a not unkindly glance of the hard, powerful, dark brown eyes, thestooping figure of England’s great Foreign Minister moved forwardsto the writing-table and penned the single, brief, emphatic lineof approval, that burned the writer’s boats and brought about thedownfall from which he was to rise, with popularity enhanced and powerredoubled, within the space of a year.

An hour or so of fevered sleep in a luxurious bedroom, ringing with theclatter of late cabs and early milk-carts upon London paving-stones,and Dunoisse was on the iron road again. As he leaned back, with foldedarms, in the first-class compartment that had no other passenger, hisimagination followed Ada Merling back to the Hospice in CavendishStreet. But it was to a house in Park Lane that swiftly-trotting hoofsand rapidly-rolling wheels had carried her when she had left theEmbassy on the night before.

[Pg 332]


An elderly servant in plain clothes had admitted her. The man’s facebore traces of watching and anxiety. And at the stair-foot waited thematronly woman who bore the quaint name of Husnuggle, and the firstglance at her quivering lips and reddened, swollen eyelids told thedaughter that all was not well in the sick-room.

The shadow of Death brooded over the great canopied bed in theluxurious chamber, where a face that was the pallid wraith of Ada’s ownlay low amidst the lace-trimmed pillows; its pinched and wasted beautyframed in the dainty little muslin cap that covered the still luxuriantand glossy hair.

A nurse from the Hospice rose up from her seat near the bed-foot, madeher report in a few low-toned sentences, and was dismissed to take herneeded rest, as a tiny china clock upon the mantelshelf struck one.And as her daughter bent above the sick woman and kissed the fair,unwrinkled forehead between the bands of gray-brown, the sunken eyesopened widely, and the weak voice said:

“You have come back!... Is it very late?... The time has seemedlong!...”

“Dear mother, I should never have left you had you not wished it so.Have you been lonely in the midst of all the pain?”

“I have been thinking!...” said the toneless voice.

“Of me, dear mother?”

“Chiefly of you, my own.”

She wished to be raised a little on her pillows, and the daughter’sskilled hands tenderly performed this office, and put nourishmentbetween the pale lips. You saw Ada, moving to and fro in her filmy,trailing laces and flashing jewels, between the glimmer of the silvernight-lamp and the oblong patches of gray dawn that showed between thewindow-curtains, like some fair ministering spirit of pity and love....And the feeble voice resumed after an interval:

“It is you who will be lonely, child, when I am gone. Then you maythink more favorably of—of the course that others follow, and welcomethose natural ties, my Ada, that make the happiness of life.”

[Pg 333]

Ada answered, putting up a hand to hide her tears:

“When you are with God I shall be lonely, dearest, but not sorrowful,knowing you in His safe keeping. As for marriage, urge it upon me nomore, my mother! For something tells me that these natural ties youspeak of, sweet and pleasant as they are, are not destined for me.”

“Why not? You would make a noble wife and mother, Ada. You are young,and cultivated, and beautiful, and have so many other gifts and graces,that, were you possessed of no worldly advantages, my child, you mightstill expect to make what Society calls an advantageous match....”

“Mother—my mother!—let us forget the world and Society!... To-nightI have heard both applaud a God-defying crime as a stroke of exquisitediplomacy, and exalt a murderer as the saviour of his country, andtheir plaudits ring in my ears yet.... And I have seen the change—thebase, corroding, ugly change!—they can wreak upon a nature thatwas—how short a time ago!—brave, and chivalrous, and simple; and acharacter that was honorable, upright, and sincere. I have a quarrelwith Society and the world, mother; let them go by! And speak to meof marriage no more, in the little time we yet may have on earthtogether. For without love—such love as God has created, and blessed,and sanctioned between men and women—such love as you and my fatherknew!—I will never take on me the name of wife, or be the mother ofany man’s children. Do not be vexed, dear mother!” she begged, insweet, entreating tones.

“My daughter,” the dying woman said, “I am only grieved for you....For I have fancied—if, indeed, it was fancy?—that your heartwas not quite free; that your imagination had been touched, yourthoughts attracted, Ada, by someone of different religion, language,and nationality, met and known abroad. Someone, the recollection ofwhom—forgive me if I am wrong, dearest!—has made you indifferent tothe good qualities of Englishmen of your own rank and social standing,cold to their merits and blind to their attractions——”

“Mother, are you not talking too much? Will you not try to sleep?”

“My dear, I have but little time left for talk, and in a[Pg 334] very fewhours my sleep will know no earthly waking. Answer my question now!”

Ada Merling laid down the thin, frail hand that she had clasped, roseup, and went to the window, moved the blind, adjusted the curtain, wenta step or two about the room, and having, possibly, controlled someemotion that had threatened to master her, resumed her seat beside thepillow and took the feeble hand again, saying:

“Mother, there can be no concealment between us!... I have allowedmyself to think too constantly of a man whom I met not quite threeyears ago; and who appeared to be, morally and mentally, as heundoubtedly is physically, as superior to the common run of men asHector must have seemed, compared with the other sons of Priam; or theyoung David, set amongst the warrior-chiefs of Saul; or Kossuth, placedside by side with the man who rules in France to-day.” She added ratherhurriedly, as the mother would have spoken: “Remember that I only said‘appeared.’ For I was doomed to know the pain of disillusion,and witness the breaking of the idol I had made for myself.... I shallbe better for the lesson, painful though it has been! And so, let usspeak of this no more! Even to you it has been difficult to confess myabsurdity. Now, will you not try to rest?”

“Presently ... presently! Tell me more!—I should have known of thissooner! If any misunderstanding has arisen between you and one wholoves you—and who could fail to love you?—it might have been clearedaway by the exercise of a little tact—a measure of discrimination. Butyou, Ada—you to be despised and slighted! You, to give yourlove to one who makes no return!... The thought is incredible ... itbewilders and astounds me. Perhaps I err through excess of pride inyou, but I cannot take this in!”

“Listen to me, dear, and you will understand more clearly....”

The face of the speaker was set to the desperate effort. Unseen by thedim eyes of the listener, the pang of self-revelation contracted andwrung it; the anguish of the confession blanched it to a deadly white.

“This is not a question of being appreciated or not appreciated, valuedor undervalued. Your daughter, of whom you are so proud, threw awayher heart unasked;[Pg 335] and on the strength of a single meeting, builtup the flimsy fabric of her house of dreams. To-night I met the managain, and the charm was broken. I saw him, not as I had imagined himto be, but as he is! Not the young Bayard of my belief, but the beauchevalier of Paris salons; not as the man of unstained honor andhigh ideals, but as the attaché of the Elysée, the servant of itsunprincipled master—the open lover of Madame de Roux.”

She hid her face, but her shoulders shook with weeping, and littlestreams of bright tears trickled between the slender white jeweledfingers, and were lost amidst the snowy laces of her dress.

“Again, I say that I cannot conceive it!” the mother faltered. “The manwas hardly known to you?...”

“I had heard him glowingly described and fondly praised by one wholoved him....”

“He is a foreigner?... A Frenchman?... A Roman Catholic?...”

“He is a Bavarian Swiss by birth; French by naturalization andeducation, and a Catholic, without doubt.”

“And had he asked you, you would have left us all to follow him?”

“Mother, you did the like at my father’s call!”

“Our parents approved!”

“If they had not, would you have abandoned him?”

“I cannot reply; it is for you to answer me.... Would you, had thisman loved and sought you in marriage, have changed your religion andembraced his?”

“Mother, you ask a question I need not answer. He did not love me ...he never sought me.... Were our paths, that lie so far apart, to crossnow ... did he ask of me that which I might once have gladly given, Ishould deny it, knowing him to be unworthy of the gift.”

“Ada, I must have your answer! Would you have deserted the faith ofyour Protestant forefathers?”

“It may be, mother, that I should have returned to the faith in whichtheir fathers lived and died. Remember, we Merlings were Catholicbefore the Reformation.”

“Those were dark days for England. A purer light has shown the path toa better world since then.”

“Dear one,” the sweet voice pleaded, “we have never thought alike uponthis matter.”

“To my bitter, secret sorrow,” the mother answered,[Pg 336] “I have long knownthat we did not; or say, since you returned from your course of studyin the Paris hospitals I have seen it, and guessed at the reason ofthe change! For you have lived with Roman Catholic nuns in convents,Ada, and have listened to their specious arguments. Snares may havebeen set—may Heaven pardon me if I judge wrongly!—to lure the Englishheiress into the nets of Rome.”

“No, no, dear mother! there were no arguments, no efforts. The Sisterstreated me with the kindest courtesy, while they seemed to shun, ratherthan to desire, to discuss the difference of creed. I gathered atthe most that I was pitied for having missed a great good, a signalblessing, an unspeakable privilege; that had fallen to their more happylot. And when I have seen the Sisters’ faces as they came from theirearly, daily Communion, and when I have seen the little children—thetiniest creatures—fed with the Bread of Life, in which I might notshare——”

She broke off. The sick woman said reproachfully:

“Had you not the privileges of your own reformed faith? Could you nothave attended the monthly Communion at some French Protestant church,to your spiritual profit and refreshment?”

“Without doubt,” was the reply, “if I had needed nothing more thanthese.”

“Then.... You bewilder me, Ada! What can you find lacking in theservices of your Church?”

She said, slowly and thoughtfully:

“What?... I have thought and reflected much upon this question, andI have decided that the coldness and narrowness that have chilled mysoul, and the aching sense of something being wanting, arise from thelack of belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament,and in the deliberate, purposeful absence of love, and honor, andworship towards His Mother——”

She was interrupted by an outcry of feeble vehemence.

“You horrify me, Ada. Worship towards a created being!... A sinfulvessel of common human clay!”

She rose and said, standing beside the pillow, with the light of dawnupon her hair:

“Mother, there is profanation in the thought that the vessel chosenby its Maker for that tremendous service[Pg 337] could be anything butimmaculately, divinely spotless.... Can pure water be drawn from animpure well? or good fruit, to quote the words of her Divine Son, begathered from a tree that is evil? How could the Mother from whoseflesh was formed the sinless Body of the Redeemer, be capable of sin?My God-given reason tells me it is impossible! And—can I ever forgetthat the Heart that poured forth its Blood upon the Cross was filledfrom the veins of Mary, when there is not a single Gospel that does nottell me so?”

There was no answer from the pale lips. She said with energy:

“How can we pay her too much reverence, accord her a devotion tooprofound, to whom Archangels bend the knee and the Son of God accordedfilial obedience? Being perfect Man, He is a perfect Son; the desire ofsuch a Son must be to see His Mother honored. From a child I felt theincomparable beauty, the resistless charm, of that Divine Maternity....I used to steal away alone to think of It. I used to say to myself,seeing you dressed for some dinner or ball, in all your laces andjewels, ‘My earthly mother is beautiful, but my heavenly Mother is far,far more fair!’ and I loved to imagine myself as a little child atNazareth who had fallen down and lay crying with pain beside the wellfrom whence she nightly drew her pitcher of fresh water, and whom shegathered in her arms and comforted. If love of the Mother of Jesus wereprayer, surely I prayed to her then!”

Still there was no response. She sighed and resumed her seat beside thepillow; and said, stooping and touching with her lips the waxen hand:

“I ought to tell you that I wished and tried, to put many questionsto the Sisters. But they had pledged their word to discuss with meno question of religious faith, and they were adamant—not at all tomy delight. ‘But I am a heretic,’ I said to Sister Édouard-Antoine.‘Am I not worth the effort to convince and enlighten?’ She said: ‘Mydear, when Our Lord wishes to enlighten and convince you, He will doit from within, not from without!’ Now I have told you all there isto tell—nothing is kept back—no shadow lies between us. Are you notcontent with me now?”

“I shall know peace,” said the relentless voice from the[Pg 338] pillow, “onlywhen I have your promise—a pledge that, once given, I know my Ada willkeep. Say to me: ‘Mother, I will never become a Romanist, or marry anyman who holds the Catholic faith!’ That pledge once given will be keptby you, I know...!”

In her very feebleness lay the strength that was not to be gainsaid orresisted. Her daughter’s tears fell as she whispered in the dying ear:

“Dear little mother, when you have crossed the deep, swift river thatseparates Time from Eternity, and the Veil has fallen behind you,you will be so wise, so wise!... Not one of the kings, and priests,and prophets who lived of old, will have been so wise as you. Think,dearest and gentlest!—if, by the light that shines upon you then, youwere to see that the ancient Faith is the true Faith and the MotherChurch the One Church ... would you not grieve to know your Ada shutoff from peace—deprived of the true and only Bread of Life—fetteredand shackled, body and soul, by an irrevocable vow?... Would you not—”

Her voice broke and faltered. But the pale head upon the pillow madethe negative sign, and she went on:

“Will not you—who have submitted yourself so meekly to the willof Almighty God in accepting this cup of death that He now offersyou—leave the issue of affairs—in faith that He will do all for thebest—to Him? and forbear to exact this promise, which my heart tellsme will bring me sorrow and pain!”

In vain her pleading. The tongue that was already stiffening utteredone inexorable word.


“Oh, then I promise, mother!” she cried through bursting tears. “Andmay God forgive me if I promise wrongly, seeing how much I love you,dearest dear!”

Ah me! the dying!—how pitiless they are! What heavy fetters theirfeebleness can rivet on our limbs, what galling yokes their partingwishes have power to lay upon our aching necks! How they stretch us onthe rack with their strengthless hands; ruthlessly seize the levers,turn the jolting wheel; and wring from us, with tears of blood, andgroanings of the flesh and of the spirit, the pledge we[Pg 339] most shrink togive! and pass content, knowing we dare not break the promise given toone upon whom the grave is about to close.

“Promise me, my son,” I heard the worn-out drudge of a Londoninsurance office say to his boy of twelve years, grasping the smallwarm hand in his, that was gaunt and cold, and damp with the sweat ofdeath—“promise me that when I lie beside your mother in the cemeteryyou will never fail to visit our grave each Sunday; and lay upon it ofthe flowers that are in season, the freshest and best, as you have seenand helped me to do ever since she died! Promise me that weeds shallnever grow above her resting-place; that dust and soil shall neversmirch the stone we placed above her; and see that the fee to the manwho mows the grass be regularly paid. Do not fail me in this, my littleson!”

Little son, with wide blue eyes fixed in awe and terror upon thewhitening stare of impending dissolution, sobbed out the asked-forpromise, and the bankrupt died content.

He knew that on the day following the shabby funeral that was toswallow up the last remaining five-pound note of his miserable savings,his penniless child was to be taken by his sole living relative—astruggling tradesman resident in a remote London suburb—to help theuncle in his business as a tobacconist and newsvendor, clean the shopwindows, carry out the papers, perform odd offices in the household,and generally fulfill the duties of an unpaid errand-boy, yet he diedcontent!

No realization of the crushing weight of responsibility laid on thosethin, childish shoulders; no thought of the desperate, fruitless effortto be made, Sunday after Sunday, to keep the extorted pledge, marredthe moribund’s happy complacency in the undertaking given. Almost withhis final breath he whispered something about the flowers in season,and the tidy gravestone, and the weeds that were never to be allowed togrow....

“Promise me, swear to me!” pants the departing wife to the man who hasbeen faithful to his marriage-vow, but has realized every day since theglamour of the honeymoon faded, that his union with this woman has beena terrible mistake. “Let me go hence contented in the knowledge thatyou will never marry again, dear! I could not bear[Pg 340] to think of youhappy in the arms of another woman. Say, now, that it shall never be!”

She is thinking of one special woman as she feebly turns thethumbscrew, and forces her victim to open his jaws to take in theiron choke-pear of the prohibitive vow. He has not the courage or theinhumanity to resist her. Nay! it is impious to refuse to grant thewish of one about to die. So he yields, and she departs; and he goeslonely and unmated for all the days that are his upon earth.

And perhaps it may be the bitter punishment of those who have exactedfrom us these cruel promises; that, with eyes from which the films ofearth have been purged for evermore, they may be fated to see them kept.


It was a calm, bright day, that third of December, with a mild,sweet westerly wind blowing between a blue, waveless sea and a blue,cloudless sky. So warm and genial the weather, that sandwich-board-menparading the streets of Folkestone behind blue-and-red double-crownbills announcing that Performances would be given at the Town Hall ofthat Thrilling Melodrama, “The Warlock of the Glen,” by Miss ArabellaSmallsopp, of the Principal London Theaters, and a Full Company ofSpecially Engaged Artists, For Three Nights Only,—were fain to leanagainst the outer walls of public-houses—thus nefariously concealingfrom the public eye the colored pictorial representations of MissSmallsopp in the rôle of the persecuted Countess—Mr. MontagueBarnstormer as the usurping Laird, and Master Pilkington as the infantAdalbert—and hide their streaming faces in pots of frothing beer.

And so, over the salty, creaking, tarry-smelling gangway to the deck ofthe Boulogne packet Britannia. A jovial Irish priest, a pair ofprim English spinsters in green veils, their lapdogs and their maid,their manservant and their courier; with Dunoisse and a honeymooningcouple, made up the list of the Britannia’s after-cabinpassengers. The bride was my Aunt Julietta; Fate would have it so.

For the impression created three brief years before upon[Pg 341] thesusceptible maiden fancy of my Aunt by the very ingratiating mannersand handsome personality of a young foreign gentleman, by chanceencountered in a railway-train, had faded; to be replaced by thehighly-colored image of a large, loud, heavily-built, sturdily-limbedyoung man, holding the commission of a junior Captain in HerMajesty’s 444th Irish Regiment of Foot; a well-known fighting corps,distinguished in the annals of the British Army by the significantsobriquet of the “Rathkeale Ragamuffins.”

You saw in Captain Golightly M’Creedy the eldest of fourteen children,begotten of an ancient warrior of Peninsular fame, a certainLieutenant-General M’Creedy of Creedystown, County Cork, who had servedtwenty years in the 444th, had left three fingers and half a sword-hiltupon the field of Talavera, and wore a silver plate at the top ofhis skull, to testify to his having been cut down by a sergeant ofFrench Light Infantry during the Battle of Barrosa, when in the act ofcapturing an eagle from the foe.

Having thus performed his duty by his country, the veteran thought,and with some reason, that his country owed something to him; andcommissions for his sons Golightly, Thaddeus, and Considine beingobtained by the paternal interest, these three young gentlemen—asinnocent of polite education and technical information as the hairy“lepping” colts they hunted, and the half-bred pointers they shotover—were pitched into the General’s old regiment, and left to sink orswim.

Goliath, Thady, and young Con, after some rasping experiences, masteredthe small amount of professional knowledge that was held in thosedays to be indispensable to the status of an officer and a gentleman.Indeed, by the time the Rathkeale Ragamuffins, with flying colors,banging of drums, and blaring of brazen instruments, marched into theprovincial garrison town of Dullingstoke, in the genteeler suburbs ofwhich stood the family mansion of my grandparents, Captain GoliathM’Creedy had attained some degree of reputation in his regiment as asmart officer and a show man.

You saw him at this era as a strapping young Celt of thirty, with thicksandy whiskers and a thicker brogue, who could top the regulationthree bottles of port with a[Pg 342] jorum or so of whisky-punch; walkhome to his quarters while men of weaker head were being conveyedto theirs in wheelbarrows; and consume vast quantities of bacon andeggs, washed down by bitter ale, at breakfast, when hardened seniorswere calling for green apples and glasses of gin, and pallid juniorsnibbled captain’s biscuits as they quenched their red-hot coppers withsoda-water. But what did my Aunt Julietta see in him, I should like toknow?

Why did not her gentle affections rather twine about the Captain’syounger brother, Lieutenant Thady, who sang Irish ballads with thesweetest of tenor voices, played juvenile leading parts in privatetheatricals, and won regimental steeplechases on his leggy Irishthoroughbred, to the admiration of the gentler sex and the envy of themales? Or Ensign Con, who had the biggest blue eyes and the smallestwaist you can imagine; wrote poetry which was understood to be of homemanufacture, in feminine albums—painted groups of impossible flowersand marvelous landscapes upon fans and fire-screens—waltzed like anangel, and was generally admitted to be a ladies’ man.

Why should my gentle Aunt adore Captain Goliath, who gambled, and sworehorribly when he lost; who loved strong liquors, to the detriment ofhis figure and complexion; who had fought duels and perforated withpistol-bullets the bodies of two gentlemen who had impugned his honor;who kept fighting-cocks in his quarters, and the steel spurs wherewithhe armed these feathered warriors for the combat in a neat leatherpocket-case; who would consume raw beefsteaks, bend pokers, and liftponies for wagers, and win them; and spend the money in carousing withhis friends; and who had once—oh, hideous thought!—backed himself tokill three rats with his teeth against the Major’s bull-terrier bitchFury, and accounted for the rodents with half-a-minute out of five tospare?...

In the lifetime of my grandfather, thrice Mayor of Dullingstoke, apeppery old sea-dog, who had settled down as far from his professionalelement as possible,—had amassed a considerable fortune in thetanning-trade, and had made it the business of his later years to keephis large family of daughters single—no young men were ever admittedwithin his doors. It is on record that no sooner had the[Pg 343] sable borderof woe upon the edge of my widowed grandmother’s notepaper narrowedto the quarter-inch significant of tempered sorrow than—each of myaunts having inherited a nice little landed property under the paternalwill—in addition to a snug sum, comfortably invested in Three PerCent. Consols—the bachelor officers of the “Rathkeale Ragamuffins”began to buzz like hungry wasps about the six fair honey-pots thatadorned my grandmother’s tea-table.

Ordinarily of a frugal mind, she is said to have been lavish in herexpenditure of plum-cake, home-made jams, preserved ginger, and bestSouchong upon these festal occasions, accounting for her prodigality toa female friend in these words:

“I grudge nothing, Georgiana, that helps to get rid of the girls!”

Honest Captain Goliath, introduced at the ladies’ tea-table byLieutenant Thady—who had a knack at making acquaintances which theclumsier Captain did not possess, was at first attracted by the showiercharms of my Aunt Marietta, which, you will perhaps remember?—wereof the lofty, aquiline, disdainful kind. He stared at the young ladya good deal, and tugged his sandy whiskers, and breathed hard, as hepaid her clumsy compliments, punctuated with “Egad!” and “By Jove!”He was rather at a loss when his long legs were inserted under mygrandmother’s polished mahogany. He liked the rich plum-cake, but teawas a beverage abhorred of his manly soul.

“Women’s slops,” the young officer mentally termed the infusionbeloved of the sex, as he took three lumps of sugar, and stirredthe boiling liquid so clumsily with a fiddle-headed silver teaspoonthat—splash!—he overset the cup.... My Aunts Harrietta and Emmelina,who were timid, screamed aloud.... My Aunts Elisabetta and Claribella,who were sitting upon either side of Lieutenant Thady, tittered, beinggiddily inclined.

My Aunt Marietta, who was wearing a sweet new pink barége,suffered the complete ruin of a beflounced side-breadth, and, itmust be owned, took the unlucky incident with a very bad grace; evenpermitting herself to utter the word “Clumsy,” and toss her head incontempt of the crimson Captain’s profuse if incoherently expressedregrets. While my Aunt Julietta, in whose lap the agitated[Pg 344] sweepof the young man’s elbow had deposited a plate of bread-and-butter,butter side down—bade him “Never mind!” in so soft a tone of kindness,accompanying the words with a glance so bright and gentle, that theutterance and the look bowled Goliath over as completely as theelder Philistine, his namesake, was, cycles of centuries ago, by thebrook-stone hurled from the young David’s sling.

“Indeed and indeed, Miss Juley,” the Captain stuttered, “with all thegood-will in the worruld a man can do no more than apologize, thathas had the bad luck to do damage to a young lady’s dress. And thoughyou’re so kind and amiable as to make no very great shakes of it,begad! I see your own elegant gown is spoilt entirely by the clumsydivvle—begging your pardon for the word!—that would walk from here toLondon—supposing you’d accept it!—to get you a purtier gown!”

The Captain dropped a glove in the hall when he went away. It had hisinitials marked inside in great big sprawling characters; but evenwithout the inky “G. M’C.” my Aunt Julietta would have known to whom itbelonged....

Ah! in what a pure, sweet hiding-place it was lying, that clumsyhand-cover of dogskin,—while the Captain was routing in the litter ofbills, and writs, and dunning-letters that strewed the table in hisquarters, and cursing at his soldier-servant for losing his things. Andhe came to tea yet again, and one of his extra-sized feet accidentallytouched, beneath the shelter of the well-spread board, a little footin a velvet sandal-slipper; and She blushed like an armful of roses,and He crimsoned to the parting of his sandy curls. And thenceforwardsthe Captain’s wooing proceeded smoothly enough, save for a fewmanifestations of jealousy on the part of Lieutenant Thady, who wasinclined to resent the appropriation of my Aunt Julietta’s smiles.

“For I inthrojuiced you—and you’d heard me say the black-eyed wan wasthe natest pacer of the sthring—and you’ve cut me out with her—so youhave!—and begad! the thing’s joocedly unfair!”

Upon which Captain Goliath extracted a shilling from hiswaistcoat-pocket, and suggested that the goddess of Chance be called into decide the issue.

“I’m wit’ you!” said the Lieutenant, with alacrity.[Pg 345] “And the best twoout of three takes Black Eyes!”

“Done!” agreed his senior, rubbing the edge of his coin carelessly witha stout, muscular thumb. “And the loser will have his pick of the fivegirrls that’s left. He’ll not have a pin to choose between them in theway of fortune, for the old man left them share and share alike; butthe fella that gets the high-nosed wan”—in these disrespectful termsthe Captain alluded to my Aunt Marietta—“will have a vixen, take myword for it! Call, now! Heads or tails?—shame or honor?”

Lieutenant Thady called “Tails,” and Captain Goliath spun, and theLieutenant lost the toss three times running, unaware that the astuteCaptain carried a double-headed shilling for contingencies of this kind.

A few days later, with the consent of my grandmother—now beginningto realize that the sacrifice of her best plum-cake and Souchong hadnot been all in vain—the Captain drove my Aunt Julietta out in thefamily chaise. That drive was, at the outset, a painful experiencefor Browney, the younger of the stout, elderly carriage pair, whowas attached to the vehicle. Never had such pace been got out of himbefore. Never had such scientific handling of the reins, such artistictouches of the whip, been known to the experience of that respectablecob. But it is on record that he returned home at his own pace, with anengaged couple behind him; and that when my Aunt Julietta was assistedto descend by the hand of the brave and gallant man, to whom,as she wrote to her confidential friend, the daughter of Sir WacktonTackton, “I have plighted the fondest vow that a woman’slips may breathe,” she went to the sedate animal’s head andthanked him for the happiest day in all her maiden life, and kissed himon the nose.

Thus Captain Goliath M’Creedy and my Aunt Julietta became definitelybetrothed. And the Lieutenant, after some hesitation between blue eyesand brown, arch, coquettish ringlets and Grecian coils, “plumped,” ashe afterwards said, for my Aunt Elisabetta.

And Ensign Con, being ordered by his seniors to choose a bride ofthree-hundred a year pin-money from amongst my grandmother’s remainingdaughters, wrote her a note in his best round-hand, soliciting aninterview upon a “mater of importanse very near my hart”; and upon the[Pg 346]receipt of an elegant billet naming a fitting hour, set out, attired inhis best; curled, pomatumed, gloved, and booted beyond anything you canimagine, to conquer Fate.

Perhaps the brain behind those cerulean orbs of my Uncle Con’s was ofrather soft consistency. Or it may be that the sight of my grandmothersitting in her best parlor, arrayed in her stiffest black silkgown—endued with her most imposing widow’s cap and weepers—waiting,with folded mittens, to hear that yet another of the pound-cakes castupon the waters had not been sacrificed in vain—was calculated tomake havoc of stronger wits and daunt a stouter courage. Suffice itto say that, having started out from barracks with the firm intentionof returning as a man definitely engaged—preferably to my AuntEmmelina rather than to my Aunt Claribella (young ladies between whoserespective persons Con had hesitated, uncertain as the proverbialdonkey between the bundles of hay)—the Ensign tottered back toquarters, a blighted being, engaged to my Aunt Marietta, whose Romanprofile and haughty manners had from the first stricken terror to theyoung man’s soul.

He must have made wild work with his wooing, unlucky Con! for mygrandmother subsequently confided to her bosom friend, Georgiana, thatat one moment her firm conviction had been that the young man, witha maturity of taste and judgment rare in one so young, was proposingmarriage to herself. In vain Con’s fraternal counselors advised him togo back, explain that he had got the wrong girl, and change her! Concould not muster the pluck! And so my Aunt Emmelina, who had loved thehandsome young booby, never married; and Con was a henpecked husband tothe ending of his days.

There was a triple wedding, so that one breakfast and one cake mightdo duty for three brides, a flying visit to London to do the lions;and now you saw my Aunt Julietta, a wife of two days, starting on herhoneymoon-trip to Boulogne with the idol of her soul. Be sure that sherecognized the deposed idol in their handsome fellow-traveler; that myaunt’s fresh English face had completely faded from Dunoisse’s memorymay be guessed.

But the natural chagrin of my Aunt at this discovery was to give placeto pangs of a less romantic kind. She had studied French fashions inthe illuminating pages of[Pg 347] the Ladies’ Mentor, had masteredthe French language sufficiently to spell out a “Moral Tale” ofMarmontel, or a page of Lamartine, or even a verse of Victor Hugo; andhad compounded French dishes from English recipes. But she had neverpreviously crossed the restless strip of Channel that divides hernative isle of Britain from the shores of Gallia. And in those daysnobody had ever heard of a real gentlewoman who was not very seriouslyincommoded, if not absolutely indisposed, at sea.

Conceive, then, my Aunt Julietta upon this smoothest of crossings,being dreadfully prostrated by the malady of the wave. Imagine herflattening her bridal bonnet—a sweet thing in drawn peach-blossomsatin, with a wreath of orange-blooms inside the brim—into acocked hat against the stalwart shoulder of her martial lord, asshe reiterated agitated entreaties to be taken immediately onshore—picture her subsiding, in all the elegance of her flouncedplaid poplin—a charming thing in large checks of pink, brown, andbottle-green—and her mantle of beaver-trimmed casimir, intoa mere wisp of seasick humanity, distinguishable afterwards as amoaning bundle of shawls—prone upon a red plush sofa in a salooncabin—ministered to by a stewardess with brandy-and-water andsmelling-salts.

While the Britannia’s other first-class passengers gathered forthe one o’clock dinner about the long table in the adjoining saloon,whence the clashing of knives and forks and the robust savors of theleg of boiled mutton with caper sauce, turnips, and potatoes—theporter and ale that washed these down; the apple-pudding that followed,and the Dutch cheese that came in with the materials for gin-hot andwhisky-toddy—penetrated to the sufferer, moaning on the other side ofthe dividing partition of painted planks.

You may imagine that the bridegroom—placed upon the right hand of theBritannia’s commander at the head of the board, made tremendoushavoc among the eatables; disposed of pewter after pewter of foamingale; hobnobbed with the more jovial of the male passengers in bumpersof whisky-toddy; cracked broad jokes, and roared at them loudest ofall; and capped the skipper’s thrilling recital of how, in 1830, whenFirst Officer, and on his way to join his steamer at Southampton, hehad nearly been pressed for[Pg 348] service in the Royal Navy, and had, armedsolely with a carpet-bag, containing a log-book and some heavy nauticalinstruments, done battle with and escaped from the clutches of a gangof crimps and man-catchers;—by relating, with much circumstantialdetail, and to the breathless interest of his auditors, the story ofhow he, Captain Goliath M’Creedy, had backed himself to kill “treerass” with his “teet” in emulation of the Adjutant’s “ould turrabredbull-bitch Fury,” and had “shuk the squale” out of the last remainingvictim thirty seconds under the five minutes. “To the chune of tenguineas and six dozen of the foinust clarrut that ever a gentleman putdown his troat!”


There were not lacking signs by the wayside, as Dunoisse was whirledalong the iron road to Paris, of the bloody drama that had begun uponthe previous morning, and was being played to the bitter end.

Troops and bodies of police lined the platforms of therailway-stations. Pale faces, downcast looks, and mourning attiredistinguished those members of the public whom business or necessitycompelled to travel at this perilous time. Glimpses of towns orvillages, seen as the train rushed over bridges or in and out ofstations, showed closed shops and jealously shut-up houses, many ofthem with bullet-pocked walls and shattered windows; more police andsoldiers patroling the otherwise deserted thoroughfare; and agents inblouses, with rolls of paper, ladders, brushes, and paste-pots, postingthe proclamations of Monseigneur upon walls, or trees, or hoardings,or wherever these had not already broken out like pale leprous sores.And upon many country roads significant-looking black vans, surroundedby Dragoons or Municipal Guards, and drawn by muddy, sweat-drenchedpost-horses, traveled at high speed, followed by open laudauscontaining lounging, cigar-smoking Commissaries of Police. And in theroaring, cinder-flavored blackness of tunnels, or in the cold glareof chalky, open cuttings, huge locomotives would flash and thunderpast, whirling yet other prison-vans, placed upon trucks, guarded bysoldiers or mobilized gendarmerie, and[Pg 349] packed with Representatives,Judges, Editors, Chiefs of secret societies, public leaders, andpopular orators, to destinations unknown. And as the dusk day-brow sankover the red wintry sunset, the roll of musketry and the thunder ofcannon, answered by the dropping, irregular fire from seventy-and-sevenbarricades, betokened that the train was nearing Paris; and then—theflaring gaslights of the Northern Station were reflected in thepolished surfaces of steel or brazen helmets and gleaming blades ofsabers; and winked and twinkled from shako-badges and musket-barrels,and the thirsty points of bayonets that had drunk the life-blood ofharmless women, and innocent children, and decent, law-abiding men.

Paris had never seemed to Dunoisse so crowded and so empty as when, onfoot—for no public conveyance was obtainable—he returned to his roomsin the Rue du Bac. Entire regiments of cavalry, riding at a foot’s pacein close column, flowed in slow, resistless rivers of flesh and steel,along the boulevards. And brigades, with their batteries of artillery,were drawn up in the great squares and public places, waiting thesignal to roll down and overwhelm any organized attempt at resistance,under cataclysms of disciplined force.

No street but had its silent menace of cannon posted at the mouth ofit, waiting, in case Liberty and Equality should lift their heads upfrom the blood-smeared asphalte, to decapitate them with a dischargeof grape. But no head was lifted, and no Red Flag was raised; the ironheel of the Friend of Labor and the Lover of Humanity bore with suchparalyzing, crushing weight upon the necks of men.

Save for curt words of command, the jingling of bridles, and thesnorting of wearied horses, the silence in this city of shot-riddledwalls and splintered windows was like a heavy hand upon the publicmouth. Street-lamps were few—nearly all had been shattered bybullets—but when dusk had given place to darkness, the immensebivouac-fires of the troops reddened the lowering sky, and Paris mighthave been Tophet, she so reeked of smoke and furnace-heat. And by thatlurid glare in the heavens dark, furtive shapes might have been seenhurrying by in the shadow of walls and hoardings, that were spies ofthe police, or agents of the National Printing-Office, charged[Pg 350] withthe posting of yet more proclamations; or Revolutionists speeding tojoin their comrades on the barricades, and share with them the lastcrust, and the few remaining cartridges, before drinking with them ofthe strong black wine that brims the cup of Death. Or they were men andwomen crazed with anxiety, or frantic with grief; dragging by the handpale, frightened children, as they went to search for missing friendsor relatives at that universal Lost Property Office, the Cemetery ofMontmartre; crying with that dumb voice of anguish that echoes in thechambers of the desolate heart, and which the most stringent decrees ofMonseigneur were powerless to silence.

“Oh, my father!... Oh, my mother!... Alas! my husband! lover! sister!brother! friend!... Am I despairing—searching by the flickeringlight of the tallow candle in the broken lantern, or the uncertainmatch-flare, amongst all these ghastly unburied heads of staringcorpses, starting like monstrous fungi from the trodden, bloody soil ofthis consecrated place of murder—to find the face beloved?...”

More corpses, and yet more, were being made, to the echoing roll of thedrums in the Champ de Mars, and piled in carts under the scared eye ofthe pale, sickened moon, and rattled away to Golgotha.

Turning the corner of one of the narrower thoroughfares, where asingle unbroken oil-lamp made a little island of yellow light uponthe murkiness, Dunoisse came upon two persons who were, for a wonder,conversing so earnestly that neither paid attention to the light,quick, even footstep drawing near. Said one of the couple, a bloused,shaggy-headed man of the artisan type, whose lantern-jawed, sallow facewas lighted from below with rather demoniacal effect, by the flare ofthe match he had struck and sheltered between his hollowed hands, forthe kindling of his short, blackened pipe:

“They made no resistance—they were butchered like sheep.... That wasat midday, on the boulevard opposite the Café Vachette. Before dark,when I passed that way, the bodies were lying piled up anyhow.... Theblood still smoked as it ran down the kennels—my shoes were wet withit, and the bottoms of my trousers. See for yourself the state they arein!”

[Pg 351]

He held up a foot, supporting himself with a hand against the wallbehind him. His companion, a shorter, stouter figure, whose back wastowards Dunoisse, stooped to look, and said in an astonished tone, ashe straightened himself again:

“There seems no end to the killing, sacred name of a pig! One wondershow many they have polished off?”

The first man rejoined:

“No newspaper estimates will be published. Nor will there be anyofficial list of killed, you may depend upon that!”

The shorter man put in, jerking his thumb towards the dusky skythat was smeared in long streaks with the red reflections of thebivouac-fires:

“Unless He up there has kept one!...”

The first man said, throwing down his burnt-out match-end on the muddypavement:

“Fool! Do you still believe in Him when this Napoleon says He is afriend of his—when the cemeteries are stuffed with corpses, and thebeds in the hospitals of St. Louis and of the Val de Grace are full ofwounded men and women?” He added: “General Magnan went there in fullfig with all his staff to visit them to-day.... It is like the publicexecutioner calling to know how the guillotined are feeling withouttheir heads!...”

The stout man cackled at this; and Dunoisse, perhaps for the sake oflingering a little in the neighborhood of one who found it possible tobe merry under the circumstances, paused, and drew out his cigar-case,and said, addressing himself to the mechanic with the pipe:

“Monsieur, have the goodness to oblige me with a light!”

The haggard workman answered, tossing him a grimy matchbox:

“Here, take the last! If it does not strike, your coup d’État isa failure—you must turn out of the Élysée.”

The reckless daring of the speaker, in combination with thealcohol-taint upon his reeking breath, proved him to be drunk. Hissober companion, glancing over his shoulder, and mentally pronouncingDunoisse to be no spy or police-agent, said, as he looked back at hiscompanion:

“They kept up the ball at the palace last night with a vengeance!...Champagne flowed in rivers; I had it from François.”

[Pg 352]

The sallow, taller man laughed in an ugly way, and said, spitting onthe pavement:

“And women were to be had for the asking. Such women!...”

Envy and scorn were strangely mingled in his tone as he said, againspitting:

“Such women! Not only stunners like Kate Harvey and that red-haired,blue-eyed wench they call Cora Pearl, that drives the team ofmouse-gray ponies in the Bois, and curses and swears like a trooper;but real aristocrats, like the Marquise de Baillay and Madame de Kars,playing the prostitute for political ends—you twig? There was onewhose name I do not know—an ivory-skinned creature, with ropes ofblack hair and eyes like emeralds.... She was half-naked and coveredwith jewels.... The Secretary-Chancellor of the Ministry of theInterior received a warning—that was at four o’clock in the morning,when they were still supping.... Word came to him that the Ministrywas to be seized ... he rose from the table, saying that his placewas in the office of his Department.... And she put her arms roundhim before them all.... She kissed him full upon the mouth, and said‘Stay!!”

“And he stayed?” asked the stout man eagerly.

“By my faith, my friend!” rejoined the tall man, “he did as you or Ishould have done in his place, you may be sure!”

The echo of the speaker’s ugly laugh was in Dunoisse’s ears as hepassed on, and the image of the black-haired, cream-skinned womanwhose kiss had stifled the voice of conscience upon the lips of theGovernment official rose up in resistless witchery before his mentalvision; and would not be banished or exorcised by any means he knew....

So like!—so like!... Thus would Henriette have tempted and triumphed,provided that Hector Dunoisse had not been absolute master of herheart, and supposing that to tempt and triumph had been to servethat idol of hers, the Empire.... He drove away the thought, butit returned, bringing yet another bat-winged, taunting demon, whoreminded him in a shrill, thin, piercing whisper that de Moulny wasSecretary-Chancellor of the Ministry of the Interior....

[Pg 353]

To suspect ... oh, base! Did not Dunoisse know—had not Madame de Rouxassured him over and over that intercourse between herself and Alainwas limited to the merest, slightest civilities that may be exchangedbetween acquaintances? Had she not pledged her word—had she not kepther vow? Anger, and shame, and horror at his own disloyalty burned inDunoisse like some corrosive poison; killing the wholesome appetite forfood, banishing weariness and the desire for rest. And thus, reachinghis rooms in the Rue du Bac, and dismissing to bed the sleepy valetwho had waited up for him, Dunoisse bathed and changed, and instead oflying down, went out, haggard, and hot-eyed, and headachy, into thesoldier-ridden streets again, in the clear, pale, frosty sunshine ofthe December morning; barely feeling the slippery asphalte pavementunderneath his feet; hardly cognizant of faces and shapes that passedhim; answering mechanically when challenged by sentries or stopped bypatrols, and hastening on again, driven—though he would have diedrather than own it—by the demon that had been conjured up by the tall,grimy, sneering workman who had chatted with his mate on the previousnight, at the street-corner....

His destination was the Rue de Sèvres, for Madame de Roux stillretained her apartments in the outer buildings of the Abbaye-aux-Bois,where cloistered Princesses once gave instruction in housekeeping,deportment, and diplomacy to the daughters of the noblest familiesof France, and stars of the Comédie Française drilled the youthfulperformers in the dramas of “Esther” and the ballets of “Orpheus andEurydice.”

The Abbaye has nearly all been swept away; the last wheelbarrowful ofrubbish has been carted from the cat-haunted desert where once thestately chapel stood: they have built upon the lovely gardens whereMarie de Rochechouart, beautiful, pure, and saintly, once walked withHélène Massalska clinging to her arm. But at this date the gardens,though sadly curtailed, were still beautiful.... Nowhere in all Pariswere such chestnuts and acacias, such lilacs, and laburnums, andhawthorns to be found. The branches of the loftier trees—leafless, andbare, and wintry now—seemed to Dunoisse to nod and beckon pleasantlyover the high iron-spiked walls and great grilled[Pg 354] gates that shut inthe stately pile of ancient masonry.

And with the sight of these familiar things his mood changed.... Hisdemon quitted him,—he knew infinite relief of mind when the portress,a buxom peasant of Auvergne, roused from her morning slumbers bythe Colonel’s ring at the gate-bell, at length made her appearance;apologizing with volubility for her nightcap; for the red woolen shawland short, striped petticoat, bundled on over a lengthier garment ofdubious whiteness; and the stout, bare feet thrust into the baggy listslippers that completed her disarray.... And Dunoisse greeted herpleasantly, responding in gallant vein to her profuse excuses, failingto notice the sharp glances with which she scanned him; unobservant ofthe avid curiosity that her verbosity would have concealed, while hiswearied eyes drank in the scene about him; the blackbird, and thrush,and robin-haunted shrubberies of frosted laurels, and myrtles, andveronicas glimpsed through the arched carriage-way, piercing the moremodern right wing of the ancient building: the beds starring the rimygrass-plat in the center of the great courtyard, gay with such flowersas the rigorous season admitted: clumps of mauve, and pink-and-whiteJapanese anemones; hardy red chrysanthemums; frost-nipped bachelor’sbuttons; and even a pinched, belated dahlia here and there....

Here at least no grisly shadow of the Élysée brooded, or it seemed soto Dunoisse. Into this quiet haven the blue official documents, thebrass-bound shakos, and clanking swords of Military Authority had notintruded, bringing disorder, confusion, and terror in their train....Lead, and Steel, and Fire—that trio of malignant forces—obedientto the potent nod of Monseigneur, had swept past the Abbaye, withoutpausing to exact their toll of human life. And the robin’s breast,burning like a crimson star amidst the rich dark foliage of a yew-tree,the short, sweet, sudden song of the bird seemed to answer, “Happily,yes!” And the wintry yellow sunshine drew a pleasant smell from thechilled blossoms, and the wood-smoke of the portress’s crackling,newly-lighted fire came fragrantly to the nostrils of the returnedtraveler, as he passed under the portico of the stately block ofbuilding where were the apartments rented by Madame de Roux, and rangthe ground-floor bell.

The thought of seeing Henriette again absorbed and[Pg 355] dominated himcompletely. And yet, even to his slight passing observation, theservant who answered the door seemed flustered and embarrassed. Theman opened his mouth to speak, shut it hurriedly, and awkwardly drewback to let the Colonel pass in. But a moment later, as Dunoisse’seager footsteps were hurrying in the direction of the gray boudoir, hearrested them by saying:

“Pardon, Monsieur the Colonel! but Madame is not at home!...”

“Indeed? Madame went out early?”

Thus interrogated, the man showed confusion. He explained, after somefloundering, that Madame had gone out, and had not yet returned.

“Not yet returned?...” Dunoisse repeated.

It seemed to him that the servant must be absurdly mistaken; for inthe inner breast-pocket of his coat, just above his heart, nestled alittle note, penned in violet ink, in Henriette’s clear, delicate,characteristic handwriting. It had lain upon the vestibule-table in theRue du Bac. He had read it and kissed it, and known assuagement of hisburning torture for ten minutes, ere the twin-demons of jealousy andsuspicion had swooped down on him again. It said, under the date of theday of his departure from Paris:


Take care of yourself upon that horrible railroad. I have beenmiserable all day, thinking about you. It is now six o’clock. My headaches. I am denied to all visitors—I have refused all invitations.I am going to dine early and betake myself to bed.—Another day—onemore night of loneliness, and then—may my Hector’s guardian spiritguide him back in safety to his fond



Dunoisse, with a deadly sickness at the heart, drew out the littlelying letter and re-read it, and turned a bleak sharp face upon thenervous servant, and asked, with a glance of the black eyes that madehim wince and flush:

“Madame went out—yesterday evening—alone?”

Shame pierced him. To be reduced to questioning a[Pg 356] servant wasabominable. But he waited for the answer. It came:

“Madame was summoned, a few hours after Monsieur the Colonel’sdeparture.... A carriage was sent to fetch her. The carriage came fromthe Élysée.”

The words fell upon Dunoisse with the cold, heavy shock of a doucheof salt water, literally taking away his breath. Could it be? Had sheleft home upon the eve of Monseigneur’s masterstroke? Was it possiblethat a night, and a day, and yet another night, had passed, and foundher still absent? He told himself, poor wretch, all conscious ofhis self-deceit, that there had been some mistake ... that one ofthe little girls at Bagnéres must have been taken ill ... that themother had been sent for.... Knowing in his soul that the Henriettesnever risk their beauty in the neighborhood of possible infection, hepretended to believe this lie.

He turned from the servant, and went through the empty, close-blindedreception-rooms, stumbling at the pattern of garlands on the carpet asthough they had been thorny ropes set to trip him up. And he went intothe gray boudoir where he had fallen captive to that luring beauty, andthe stately portrait of the beautiful wicked Abbess, daughter of theevil Regent, seemed to smile at him in jeering triumph from its stationon the wall.

He drew up a blind, and there were the familiar gardens bathing in theclear, cold December sunshine. He threw up a sash, letting in freshair, and the smell of thawing earth, and the chaste, pungent fragranceof the chrysanthemums. As he leaned against the carved and paintedshutter the Abbaye clock struck eight, and all the other clocks inParis responded, one after the other, and then—his heart leaped, forthere came the opening and shutting of the hall-door, and the sound ofsilken draperies sweeping over velvet carpets. A light footstep crossedthe threshold.... He wheeled, and was face to face with Henriette....

She was in all the splendor of full dinner-dress, and her lovely personblazed and scintillated with magnificent jewels. Many of the costlygems she wore had been given her by Dunoisse, but others, costlierstill, were new to him.... Her rich black hair hung in dishevelledcurls—the pitiless sunlight showed her beautiful eyes deep sunk in[Pg 357]violet caves of weariness. The berthe of costly lace that edgedher corsage was torn, revealing charms that even Fashion decrees shouldbe hidden.... There was a fierce red mark upon her rounded throat, andanother on one white breast....

The picture was burned in upon the brain of the man who saw, as acorrosive acid might have bitten it on copper. He opened his drymouth to speak, but no words issued thence. She said, dropping hersable-lined mantle upon the floor, dragging at one of her braceletsthat obstinately refused to be unfastened:

“So—you have returned!... Then you have not been to the Rue du Bac?”

“I went,” he said, showing her the little treacherous sheet—“and foundyour letter there....”

A rush of angry blood changed her from white to crimson. The mark onher throat vanished, and then, as the fierce tide receded, stood outonce more in burning, guilty red. She tore off the bracelet, and tossedit down, and said, lifting her white arms to release her little headfrom the weight of the diamond coronet:

“The Prince-President sent!... It was a command. How could I disobey?”

Dunoisse answered her in tones she had never before heard from him:

“The Prince-President should know that the droit du seigneurwent out with the Monarchy. It is not an institution that the Republicof France will wish to see revived during His Highness’s tenure of theDictatorship.... I will explain this to His Highness without delay!”

Her beautiful eyes blazed rebellion, and her bosom tossed the red markup and down tumultuously. She cried:

“Are you mad? What right have you to demand explanations, or to givethem, pray?”

“What right?” Dunoisse echoed, looking at her incredulously. “Do youask by what right I say that you shall not be degraded by the contactof persons who are infamous—used as a bait to lure golden fish intothe net of Presidential intrigue?—poisoned and contaminated by theatmosphere in which nothing that is pure can exist, and everything thatis vile——”

“Ah, ah!” she said, interrupting him; “you talk in[Pg 358] riddles andparables. Be plain with me, I beg of you! Or—permit me to be so withyou!”

She sank down upon a divan with her knees apart, and said, thrustingher clasped hands down between them, joined together at the wrists asthough they were fettered:

“Listen to me!... You are not my husband!... I advise you to rememberit!... It will save trouble in the long-run—it will be better foryourself and for me if you will do this!”

Dunoisse returned, in tones that cut like ice-splinters:

“I have not the honor to be your husband, it is true! But as long asthe relations which have hitherto existed between us continue, I forbidyou to go alone to the suppers at the Élysée! As for that accursedbanquet of the night before last——”

He broke off, for something in her face appalled him. She stamped herlittle foot and cried:

“Great Heavens! Am I a young girl, all blushes and book-muslin? Andyou—what are you? A soldier? Not a bit of it! My dear old fellow, youare a prude!”

She rose up, with eyes that shot lightnings, though her mouth wassmiling, and pointed to the baleful picture that hung above thefireplace, that was full of dead ashes, like her unhappy victim’s heart.

“Look at Madame there!... Does not she seem as though she laughed atyou? You, who would drive Propriety and pleasure in double harness—whoexpect a woman like me—who have drunk with you the bowl of Life—whohave given you myself, with all my secrets and pleasures—to behaveas a young girl who goes into Society, with her eyes bandaged, andher ears stopped up with cotton-wool. You are not very reasonable,Monsieur!”

She had taken the diamond circlet from her hair, and dropped it on thedivan. Now she thrust her white fingers into the heavy masses of hercurls, and lifted them up from either temple. Her long eyes gleamedlike green topaz from between the narrowed eyelids. And to the man whowas the bondslave of her body she seemed like some fair, malignantspirit of the storm, about to rise and fly, borne on those silken,sable wings....

“I ...” he began stammeringly. “You——”

He broke off. For it rushed upon him suddenly in blinding, scorchingcertainty that she, and no other, was the[Pg 359] night-haired, ivory-whitewanton who had kissed de Moulny on the mouth and bidden him stay. Theimpulse to leap upon her and wring from her confession, and with itfull revelation of all that had passed, and in what secret bower oflust and luxury the intervening time had been spent, nearly overcamehim. But he fought it back. For full knowledge must mean severance,and——“O God!” the poor wretch cried in the depths of his torturedheart; “I cannot live without her, however vile she prove!”

It was strangely, horribly true. He had never been so completelydominated by Henriette in the days when he still believed the angel’swing to be folded beneath her draperies. He drank her beauty inwith thirsty eyes, and thirsted the more he drank; and was, to hisunutterable shame and degradation, stung to yet sharper tormentsof desire, because of those red marks made by a rival’s furiouskisses—and did not dare, poor, pusillanimous, miserable wretch! tosay: “You have betrayed me! Who is the man whose brand you bear uponyour bosom. You shall tell me!—even though I know!...”

As she went on talking, spreading out her hair, pressing the points ofher fingers into the velvety, supple skin above her temples:

“You idiot! can one drive Propriety and Pleasure in double harness?Your mother could answer that question—that Carmelite coquette whodeserted her convent for the world, and went back to the convent whenshe was weary of the racket. Not that I wish to insult your mother.Quite the contrary. She did as it pleased her, and I also.... Ouf!... how my head aches!... What an hour you have chosen for a sceneof reproaches and recriminations!... Still, an explanation clearsthe air.... Now I am going to bed, for I am ‘regularly done up,’ asthe Prince says.” She phrased the English words with exaggeratedelaboration, rolling the gutturals, and making a distracting mouth overthem. “But for the future we shall understand each other better, shallwe not, Monsieur?”

“I thought,” he faltered—“I believed!...” and could go no further.She retorted, stretching as gracefully as a leopardess, smiling witha touch of roguery, her rosy tongue peeping from between her teeth ofpearl:

“You thought me an angel, who am nothing but a woman. What! would anangel have fired that shot at[Pg 360] the Foreign Ministry?” She shruggedher white shoulders. “What! and let you bear the whole affair uponyour shoulders for fear lest the Red Republicans should take astiletto-vengeance? And pay you in kisses and the rest as I have done?”

“It was no mere sordid bargain!... You loved me!” Dunoisse cried out inmisery. “You gave me yourself for love, not for fear or gain!”

“Oh! as for that,” said Henriette, with a cynical inflection, “I lovedyou, and I love you uncommonly well to-day. But your love is not todeprive me of my liberty—that must be understood!... There, there, mypoor dear boy!...”

He had sunk down upon the gray velvet divan, looking so wan andhaggard, and yet so handsome in his despair and wretchedness, that hershallow heart was stirred to pity, and she went swiftly to his side. Hethrew an arm about her, drew her to him, and said, looking up at herwith wistful entreaty, and speaking in tones that had suddenly becomepitiful and childlike:

“Dearest Henriette, I will do everything you ask me—everything!...You shall not have one single wish ungratified! Only do not go to thePalace without me, I beg of you, Henriette!”

He told himself that she was yielding, pressed her to him, and hidhis burning forehead and aching eyes against her. It was a symbolicalaction, that willful blinding, presaging what was to come.... She kneltdown before him, wound her soft white arms about him, and drew his headto rest upon her bosom, so that his cheek rested on the flaming markthat so short a time back had said to him in red letters, “She isfalse to you!” She said, holding him closer, blinding and drugginghim with her breath, her contact, her voice:

“Well, then, very well! Henriette is never unkind or cruel.... It shallbe as you choose. Only do not thwart me or upbraid me, Hector dearest.I am of Spanish blood—you should remember it!... How hot your foreheadis! Have you, too, a headache? That is from traveling all night. How Ihate those jolting railway-carriages! Fais dodo, poor boy!”

She rocked him upon her breast, smiling to see the rigid lines ofmental anguish relax and smooth out under her[Pg 361] caresses. And as sherocked, she sang in a velvety cooing voice a little witch-rhyme ofCatalonia, meaning everything or nothing, just as the hearer happenedto be a Catholic or a Calvinist ... a horrible little rhyme, dealingwith a cat and the cupboard of the Archbishop, set to a soothinglullaby....

Hushaby!—Honor, and Principle, and Religion. Sleep, sleep well! rockedon the bosom of Desire.

If Ada Merling had seen Dunoisse at that moment, shorn of his strength,willfully blind to his degradation, lying in the arms that had alreadybound and delivered him to the Philistine, she would have blessed thehour that brought her disillusion; instead of looking back upon itsorrowfully, and writing, in the locked journal of her thoughts andimpressions, that was kept in a secret of her writing-table:

“There is no teacher like Experience. By suffering and humiliation wegain sympathy for the sore and despised; and acquire insight throughour own short-sightedness. How often in the old home-days at Wraye,when one of the village women has wound up some sorrowful story ofhuman passion and human error with: ‘She fell in love wi’ him atsight, d’ye see? have I not interjected, quite seriously andsincerely: ‘Oh! but why?’ And found myself smiling when theanswer would be: ‘Nay, now, Miss Ada, however can I tell, when herdidn’t know herself, poor soul?’”

“Oh me!... I shall never laugh again over such stories. Is that my gainor my loss?”

A space, a blotted line, and then came, in the flowing, finely-pointedhandwriting:

“It must be to my gain.... That I, who am habitually reserved, whohave been reared in refinement and exclusiveness, should have knowna weakness such as this, shall be of use to me and for the help ofothers. When I am tempted to approve my own judgment as sounder, esteemmy own standards of morality and conduct as purer and loftier thanthose of my sister-women, let me for my soul’s health—let me rememberthat the man to whom, in the first moment of our meeting, my heart wentout—and whose name, indifferent to me as he must have been, I couldnever, for long afterwards, hear without emotion—is[Pg 362] worldly, cynical,sensual, and dishonorable; deeply entangled in a shameful intrigue;bound to the interests of the Power that is the plague-sore and thecurse and the ruin of his adopted country; perhaps involved in itsplots—stained with its guilt of treachery and bloodshed....”

At the bottom of the page came:

“Perhaps I wrong him?... It may be that I judge him unjustly, that hehas been shamefully slandered—and that he is—really is—what oncehe seemed. Grant it, Thou God! Who hast the knowledge of all hearts,and by Thy grace canst purify the unclean and make the evil good, andchange base things to noble! And if it be Thy Will that I am never toknow the sweetness of earthly love, give me to know what love may be inHeaven!”


The Marshal, having plumped out with golden blood the depleted veinsof Hector’s account at Rothschild’s, exacted his pound of flesh in thematter of the Claim of Succession. Köhler and von Steyregg, those birdsof ill omen, shortly presented themselves at the Rue du Bac, bearingthe elder Dunoisse’s letter of introduction, addressed to “His SereneHighness the Hereditary Prince of Widinitz,” and bearing three immensesplashes of scarlet sealing-wax, impressed with the writer’s ownpretentious coat of arms....

Two such men, these agents, capacious vessels of clay, into which theMarshal’s gold was continually ladled....

Köhler styled himself an Attorney and Commissioner of Oaths of Prague.One felt sure wherever his offices were, that the business of themoney-lenders flowed across the threshold. You saw him as a small,pale, scrupulously-attired, flaxen-haired man, with sharp, shallowbrown eyes. Three or four bristling yellow hairs at the outer angles ofthe upper lip served him as a mustache—one thought of a white rat whenone looked at him. Von Steyregg was a vast, pachydermatous personality,whose body was up-borne on short legs, shaped like balusters, andclad in the tightest of checked pantaloons. His venerable blackfrock-coat had grown green through long service—the copper[Pg 363] of thebuttons peeped through the frayed cloth. His swag-belly rolled underan immense nankeen waistcoat—over the voluminous folds of a soiledmuslin cravat depended his triple row of saddlebag chins, his moist,sagging mouth betokened a love of good cheer, the hue of his nose—anorgan of the squashed-strawberry type one so seldom meets with at thisera—testified to its owner’s appreciation of potent liquors. Hugeshapeless ears, pale purple-and-brown speckled, jutted like jug-handlesfrom his high-peaked head, whose bald and shiny summit rose, lonely asan Alp, from a forest of flaming red hair. His little gray eyes werelatticed with red veins. From one of them distilled a perpetual tear,destined to become a haunting bugbear to his employer’s son.

Von Steyregg, who swore in a dozen languages with equal facility andincorrectness, claimed to be a Magyar of noble family. His dog’seared visiting card dubbed him Baron. On occasions of ceremony,an extraordinary star in tarnished metal, suspended from a soiledwatered-silk ribbon of red, green, and an indistinguishable shade,which may once have been white, dignified his vast expanse ofsnuff-stained shirt-front. Though its owner declared this ornament tobe the Order of St. Emmerich, bestowed by that saintly Prince upon apaternal ancestor, the reader may suspect it to have been originallya stage-property. Steyregg having failed in theatrical managementat Vienna, Pesth, and elsewhere; and being, when full of wine—andit took an immense quantity of that liquor to fill him—prodigal ofreminiscences of the coulisses, pungent and racy; related withthe Rabelaisian garniture of nods, winks, leers, and oaths of the mostpicturesque and highly-flavored kind.

Both men invariably addressed Dunoisse as “Highness” or “Your SereneHighness.” They maintained a scrupulous parade of deference and respectin their dealings with their victim—they retreated backwards from hispresence—to Madame de Roux they almost prostrated themselves—kotowingprofoundly as the Ministers of the Fifteenth Louis, before the daintyjeweled shoe-buckles of the Pompadour....

Of the mad tarantula-dance through which this precious pair of showmenpresently jerked their puppet,—of the kennel of obloquy and shamethrough which they dragged[Pg 364] him with his companion,—the writer,confessing to some degree of parental tenderness for the hero of thestory, designs to tell as briefly as may be.

According to Köhler and von Steyregg, the Regent Luitpold, havingobtained from the King of Bavaria permission, confirmed by the approvalof the Bund, to secularize several wealthy monasteries within theprincipality of Widinitz, was in worse odor with his Catholic subjectsthan ever before. Not only had several large communities of religiousbeen reduced to penury and rendered homeless; but certain influentialfarmers, tenants of these, had been ejected from their homesteads,and divers peasants, having espoused the cause of the monks with lessworldly wisdom than goodwill, had been turned out of their cottages,or had them pulled down over their heads. Disaffection was spreading,discontent prevailed. The iron was hot, said von Steyregg and Köhler,for the striking of a blow in the interests of the son of PrincessMarie-Bathilde.

You may imagine how eloquently the Marshal’s agents dwelt upon theenormities of Luitpold; you can conceive how they advanced their plan,and pressed its various points upon the passive victim. Wreaths ofverbal blossoms covered up its spotted ugliness. Was it not a beautifuland edifying notion, asked von Steyregg, that the Heir-aspirant to thefeudal throne of Widinitz should take part in the great annual festivalof mid-August, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin—at which seasonthe Lutheran Regent—loathing the smell of incense and the chanting ofLitanies as another personage is reputed to abominate holy water—yetnot daring to provoke his Catholic liegemen to the point of openrebellion by prohibiting the procession—invariably absented himselffrom his capital, or shut himself up in the Schloss. The suggestion ofso open a bid for popularity Dunoisse at first scouted. But the wholeplan had a spice of adventure that charmed and excited Madame....Paris would be intolerable in August—a delicious month to travel in.Henriette had never seen Bavaria—she longed to breathe the air of itsromantic pine-forests, and gaze upon its sunset-flushed snow-peaks. Fortwo pins she would make one of the expedition, she vowed.

And Dunoisse, being keenly aware that, although no suppers would begiven at the Elysée during the red-hot[Pg 365] months of autumn, there wouldbe fêtes at the Tuileries and at St. Cloud, and shooting partiesat Compiègne and Fontainebleau, was extremely willing to gratify thedesire of his fair friend....

Indeed, when von Steyregg and Köhler hinted that the Marshal wouldnot welcome the addition of a petticoat to the party, the Colonelmanifested for the first time in their experience, energy and decision.

“My father may please or not please,” he said to them. “I do not gowithout Madame de Roux!”

The Marshal received the information with a fearful outburst ofprofanity.

“He is not to be moved, Monseigneur!” said Köhler.

“Excellency,” put in von Steyregg, “the Prince, your son, is a chip ofthe old block. Without the petticoat he will not budge, I pledge youthe word of a Magyar nobleman!” He shook his bald and flaming head,and shook off the tear that as usual hung pendulous from the weepingeyelid, as he added:

“And the lady is a highly attractive person!”

“We shall split on the rock of her attractive person!” said the Marshalwith a detonating oath. And so it ultimately proved.

Neither then, nor long afterwards, when the scar of the appallingfiasco had partially healed, could Dunoisse rid himself of theimpression that the expedition had been of the type of adventure thatis wrought of the stuff of dreams.

In the highlands of South Bavaria, sheltered by the skirts of theAlps, lay the Principality of Widinitz, a mountainous district cloakedwith beech-woods and pine-forests, jeweled by turquoise lakes, andvalleys like hollowed emeralds, kept green in the fiercest heats by themountain-torrents and glacier-rivers and streams of melted snow....

That August journey was one of unclouded pleasure. The handsome officerand the lovely lady in the luxurious dark green traveling-chariot, thatwas lined with pale green satin and drawn by three powerful grays, weretaken by the hosts and hostesses of the picturesque, vine-draped androse-covered posting-inns where they slept, or halted to change horses,to be a honeymooning couple. One may imagine how the princely coronetthat gleamed above the coat-of-arms emblazoned on the door-panels ofthe green[Pg 366] chariot (a touch of von Steyregg’s) and engraved upon thesilver plating of the harness (a happy inspiration of Köhler’s) swelledthe totals of the bills. As for the Marshal’s agents, sharing with theColonel’s valet and Madame’s maid the big brown landau that lumberedat the heels of four stout beasts in the wheel-tracks of the greenchariot, they were supposed to be the major-domo and the chaplain ofthe distinguished pair.

Köhler traveled light in the matter of baggage. A battered hat-box anda venerable portmanteau contained his indispensable necessaries ofthe road. An old campaigner in the field of fortune, von Steyregg’scoat-tails invariably did duty as his carpet-bags and valises.Upturned, these well-stuffed receptacles served as cushions, upon whichthe Baron lolled magnificently, patronizing the subservient valet andthe blushing maid who secretly admired large, overbearing men withflamboyant hair. True, von Steyregg’s hyacinthine locks left off longbefore they reached the summit of his cranium, but you cannot haveeverything, thought the maid.

“We are not real,” Henriette would say to her lover. “We are twosweethearts out of some fairy-tale of M. Anthony de Hamilton or Madamed’Aulnoy.... That old woman in the red cloak is not a wood-gatheringpeasant, but a witch; that black face peeping at us through the bushesdoes not belong to a charcoal-burner or a lignite-miner, but to somespiteful gnome or kobold.... You are the Prince of the Enchanted Cityin the Sleeping Forest. And I am your Princess, my dear!”

Dunoisse sighed, knowing that whether he were a Prince or not woulddepend upon the disposition of the liegemen of Widinitz; upon thegoodwill of His Majesty the King of Bavaria; upon the approval of theDiet of the Germanic Confederation, and the clinching decision of theSpecial Tribunal known as the Austrägal Court. And that, even if thesepowers were unanimous in confirming the claim of Succession made by theson of Marie-Bathilde, the question of Henriette’s ever becoming thelegal partner of the throne, which in that event would be his, openedup another vista of possibilities, amongst which Divorce loomed large... whilst Death, his black robe discreetly draped about his grislyanatomy, hovered unobtrusively in the background.

[Pg 367]

Nom d’un petit bonhomme! If de Roux should die, that regrettableloss to the Army of France would be, it seemed to Dunoisse, the way outof the tangled labyrinth of difficulties and anxieties.

His eyes avoided Henriette’s, lest she should read his thought in them.But hers were raised to the rosy snow-peaks that lifted above the dark,shaggy green of the pine-forests, her sensitive nostrils quivered, herlips were parted as she drank the fragrant air.

How crystal-pure she seemed.... And yet it was but seeming.... Apicture, shown upon the background of a murky Paris street-corner,by the flare of a smoky lamp, rose up in Dunoisse’s memory; and theugly, haunting laugh of the tall, sardonic workman who had chattedwith a comrade on that unforgettable night of the return from London,sounded in his ears. And when Henriette asked, turning to him with thetenderest solicitude in her lovely face:

“Why do you shiver, dearest? Are you cold?” her lover answered, withforced gayety:

“A footstep must have passed over the place where my grave is to bemade. You know the old saying?”

“Quite well,” she told him, adding with an exquisite inflection oftenderness. “But it would be ‘our’ grave, Hector.... For I could notlive without you, you know that very well! Dearest, why do you start?”

For the muscles of the shoulder against which she leaned, had givena sudden jerk, and the man’s head had pivoted from her abruptly, asthough pulled by a wire.

“Did I start?” he asked, looking back at her rather vaguely. “If so,it was because I fancied—not for the first time—that I heard someonelaugh in there!...”

He pointed to the covert of pine-scrub, larch, yellow-berriedmountain-ash, and tall brake-fern that edged the forest road, andwent climbing with them still when the slower oaks and beeches wereoutstripped and left behind. It was Henriette’s turn to shiver now.Hector was so strange—so very strange—she told herself, at times!...

Another man, much less handsome, not half so sweet-tempered, amiable,devoted, and clever, would have made a pleasanter companion uponthese wild, rugged mountain-roads.... His blue eyes would have had aprovoking challenge always, for those of his friend.... Cynical[Pg 368] jests,sharp witticisms, would have alternated with daring compliments, boldhints, and subtle allusions, upon his projecting, fleshy lips. Yet deMoulny, a year or so back, had been a submissive, humble lover. Inthose days he had yielded to and been ruled by the will of Henriette.In these days, delicacy and shyness no longer characterized his wooing.He demanded, exacted, extorted favors that others had obtained byservice and suit, and sighs.... She said to herself, as a mysterioussmile hovered about the exquisite lips, and the long, dark lashes sweptthe cheeks that no sun, however ardent, might kiss to russet, thatAlain was no fool! He had found out that what women liked best in a manwas hardihood, and assurance touched with brutality. He had learned thesecret of success with the sex.

Now, Hector....

When a Henriette begins to compare her lover, to his disadvantage, withother men, she has already wearied of him. His day is over and past.

Thenceafter, nearer and ever nearer, draws the fatal crisis. No freshturning in the beaten road they travel together, but may lead to adefinite parting of the ways.


So the company of adventurers traveled through the new, strange, lovelycountry, feasting and making merry, spending the Marshal’s moneyroyally; and of such queer warp is the cloth of Human Nature woven,the grotesque homage of Köhler and von Steyregg ceased to be quiteintolerable in the estimation of Dunoisse.

When the inns and posting-houses began to display the arms of the vonWidinitz, the coroneted casque argent, with its panachesurmounted by the heron, overt, sable, Köhler, beingnimbler of the pair, leaped out of the brown landau, climbed the stepsof the green chariot, and offered homage to the pretender to the feudaldignities.

“Now your Serene Highness is upon your own territory,” said he, andwould have grabbed Dunoisse’s hand to kiss, but that its owner putit in his pocket. Von Steyregg was standing up in the vehicle thatfollowed, waving[Pg 369] a huge, dingy silk handkerchief, and shedding tearsof loyal enthusiasm from both eyes.

“How Monsieur the Baron loves His Serene Highness!” said Henriette’smaid to her mistress at hairbrushing time that night. “Fancy, Madame,he rocked him in his arms as an infant, and taught him to ride hislittle horse. Monseigneur would go nowhere without his good M. vonSteyregg, who plunged into a boiling torrent (into which Monseigneur’snurse had accidentally dropped him) and saved him at the risk of life.It is incredible, such devotion! It makes one weep to hear Monsieur theBaron talk!”

And the maid made good her words with a snuffle or two; and themistress even wept a little in sympathy. Tears came at call to thosebeautiful eyes of Henriette’s.

Thus, daily drawing nearer to the scene of destined humiliation andwell-earned disgrace, the green chariot and the brown landau rolledon, until at high noon upon the Vigil of the Assumption, after a threehours’ drive through ancient oak and beech-forests, when a hundredunseen church-bells were tripling the Angelus, the gray walls and gatesof the towers of Widinitz rose before the travelers, venerable in theirsetting of ivy only less ancient, whose rugged stems grew thick as thebody of a man.

It was a city in a forest, with the tops of more trees waving overthe ivied walls of it. Oak and beech followed the chariot and thelandau to the drawbridge, fell back as the vehicles crunched over thegravel-covered timbers, started up under the gateway, and marchedwith them through the streets that were bordered with runnels ofclear water. Signs of preparation for the morrow’s solemnities werenot lacking. Men leading donkeys burdened with panniers of white orreddish-colored sand, were distributing this medium in astonishingpatterns over the principal thoroughfares. Others, who followed, werestrewing them with pine-branches and the glossy leaves of laurel andbay. Lamps, as yet unlighted, twinkled among the boughs. Venetian mastsof the Bavarian colors supported garlands of many-colored streamers.The Market Place was a blaze of color, with temporary altars erectedat the opening of every street. And nearly every householder, withhis family and servants, was engaged in decorating his dwelling withcarpets, bunting, and wreaths. Said von Steyregg, as he tumbled out ofthe[Pg 370] brown landau, and ran with servile hurry and flapping coat-tails,to open the door of the green chariot when it finally stopped under thesign of “The Three Crown” inn: “One would think, Highness, that thenews of your intended visit had reached Widinitz before you.” His tearhung trembling upon his eyelid as, with an egregious affectation ofrespect and reverence, he assisted his principal to descend.

“It is in honor of Our Lady’s Feast to-morrow, all that you see,”explained the landlord, a short man in claret-colored kerseyknee-breeches, blue yarn stockings, snowy shirt-sleeves, and spotlessapron, who had come out to receive the strange guests. He possesseda suite of private rooms, worthy of persons of such distinction. Hepointed out one or two of the lions of Widinitz before he ushered themin—the Schloss, a square building of red granite with pepper-boxtowers, topping a green hill that breasted up upon the northern sideof the Market-Place. Another steeper hill rose upon the southern sideof the great white square that was spangled with silver, dancingfountains; and the towers and roofs and steeples of the city propercovered this like a fungus-growth. The ancient Gothic pile of theCathedral crowned the summit; the smaller, fortress-like buildingadjoining, the host pointed out as the Archbishop’s Palace, anepiscopal habitation, reared on the foundations of what had been aRoman camp.

“Sprung, your Excellencies, or our most learned Professors lie,”explained the voluble landlord, “from the ruins of a temple where theOld Slavonians used to sacrifice white cocks and new mead to Svantovid,their god of War. God or no god, the gentleman had a sufficiently queername, as your Excellencies will agree; and as to white cocks, the brothof one is—according to the old nurse-women of our principality—acertain remedy for tetters. Heathen they were that drank sickly mead inpreference to sound wine!—but thanks be to Heaven and St. Procopius,who converted them, we that are come down from those old sinners knowbetter to-day; and the vineyards of the Wid yield a liquor that has noequal in Bavaria.”

And the landlord proudly pointed to a third hill that cropped upwestwards; at the foot of which eminence a jade-green trout-river,spanned by three bridges of white[Pg 371] marble, rushed foaming between rockybanks that were covered with vines, laden now with the glowing purpleclusters from which an excellent red wine was made by the vine-growersof the principality.

Flasks of this sterling vintage figured upon the guest-table of the Innof “The Three Crowns,” when the newly-arrived travelers sat down todine, the occupants of the green chariot being served in their privateapartment: the Marshal’s agents, for humility or for the sake of freerelbow-play than is licensed by strict good manners, preferring toeat at the common ordinary, spread in the coffee-room, together withMadame’s maid and the Colonel’s man.

Here, down both sides of a long table, were ranged perhaps a score ofdecent citizens of the sterner sex, indicating the nature of theirseveral professions, trades, and occupations, in the fashion of theirattire, as was the custom then; and engaged in discussing what, for theninety-nine per cent. of Catholics among the company, was the singlemeal of the fasting-day.

Judge, then, how frigidly received by the faithful were Steyregg’sGargantuan praises of the fish, flesh, fowl, and pastry which wereset before himself and his partner, and of which both ate copiously,washing down their meal with plentiful libations of the juice of thelocal vine.

The pickled sturgeon with mushrooms and cucumbers, to which Madame’stirewoman discreetly restricted herself, proved a mere whet to thegross Baron’s huge appetite. Half a ham and the greater moiety of apasty of eggs and capons, hurled to the ravening wolf concealed behindhis dingy shirt-bosom, left him with a niche quite available fortartlets, and a chink remaining for cream-cheese.

He said at length, piling a block of this delicacy on a rusk, boltingthe mouthful, and sending a generous draught of the strong red winehissing on the heels of it:

“Now, having fed, I may say my Nunc Dimittis. After such ameal”—he produced and proceeded to use a battered silver toothpick—“Ifeel myself the equal of Prince, Regent, or Archbishop, I care notwhich!”

A clean-shaven, fresh-faced, gray-haired citizen, clad in a long-tailedcoat and buckled knee-breeches of speckless gray-blue broadcloth, witha starched and snowy shirt-frill jutting from his bosom and rasping histriple chin,[Pg 372] looked up from his dish of fricasseed eggs at this boastof von Steyregg’s and said, a trifle sourly:

“The late Prince, sir, being with the departed, presumably has donewith eating and drinking, although our Regent, being of the Lutheranpersuasion, is at liberty to feed as freely upon the Vigil of theAssumption, as upon all other prescribed fasting-days.... But of hisLordship, the Archbishop, I dare to say that like any other respectablereligious, he is, with his clergy, in strict retreat at this moment;and if anything beyond pulse—or dry bread and water—have passed hislips to-day, I will undertake to eat this book of mine!”

He indicated, amidst some tokens of amusement manifested by otherabstainers at the table, a Missal that was propped up against thecruet at his side; then wiped his lips, threw off a glass of water,whisked the napkin-end from the bosom of his spotless waistcoat, andbeckoned the waiter, asking what was to pay? The man named fiftypfennigs, the client threw down a mark and asked for change. But beforethe base metal could be transferred from apron-pouch to pocket, vonSteyregg, completely deserted by his guardian Angel, tipped the wink toKöhler—who was diligently cramming plum-pie with whipped cream—androse up, stretching out an immense protesting, mottled hand. His tearhung in his eye, his strawberry nose and flabby mouth quivered withemotion:

“Take up that coin, sir, I beg of you! Nothing is to pay, for you,or any other citizen of Widinitz who occupies a chair at this boardtogether with my companion and myself on this auspicious day. You havetold me that your Prince is no more; I say to you that, being dead, hecries from the tomb—‘Resurgam!’ For in an heir of his blood andname he shall live again; the youthful phœnix but waits the signal toemerge full-fledged from the parental pyre of flaming spices.... What?Do you doubt! O! man of tepid faith, I will prove it you! His SereneHighness is, at this moment, with Her Excellency, deigning to partakeof refreshment in the private room overhead!”

Wie? Was?” ejaculated the tradesman, staring at von Steyreggwith bulging eyes, as the big fist banged the table, and the cutleryand glasses danced about, while the fifty pfennigs change leaped fromthe plate held by the[Pg 373] startled servitor, and ran into a corner and hidas cleverly as little coins can. “Ach so!” the astonished manadded, bringing down his eyebrows with some difficulty. “What you tellus is very surprising, if it be true!”

“And all tales are not true!” put in the oracular barber, who had beenpolishing off a plate of pickled sturgeon; while von Steyregg heldforth.

“Decidedly,” added a bookbinder, who was lingering over a bowl ofcabbage-soup and black bread, “one is wise not to believe everythingone hears.”

“My friends, I state the fact, upon the honor of a Magyar nobleman!”von Steyregg asseverated. He appealed to Köhler, who replied:“Undoubtedly,” and went on munching, looking sharply this way and thatout of his round brown twinkling rat’s eyes. “You hear the eloquenttestimony of my associate,” the self-styled Baron went on. “You seethese highly-respectable persons,” he pointed with a flourish to theabashed valet and the blushing maid, “who in their varying capacitieshave the honor to serve His Serene Highness the Prince-Aspirant ofWidinitz,—traveling incognito under the style and cognomenof Colonel von Widinitz-Dunoisse,—and the noble and lovely lady”—acough momentarily checked the flood of the Steyreggian eloquence,and then it rolled turbidly on again—“whom I mentioned just now.They are here, as I have said, partaking, after the fatigues of theirjourney, of marinaded trout, ragout of veal, salmi of grouse, andquelquechoses. Your privileged eyes will behold them presently,when they descend to distinguish your boulevards and promenades bytaking the air upon them.... To-morrow, when the Procession of theFeast takes place—in preparation for which anniversary your streetsare even now being strewn with pine-branches and oak-leaves, yourpublic and private buildings adorned with banners and hung withlamps—your maidens are twining garlands, your infants of both sexeslearning hymns—to-morrow all Widinitz will behold its hereditarySovereign participating in the solemnity; and draw, I trust, parallelbetween Gothic intolerance—I name no names!—and noble, princelypiety! Excuse me, my good sirs,” the Baron added, and ostentatiouslywiped his lachrymose eye, “I am not easily moved to emotion, but theinward chords cannot but respond to the conception of a spectacle so[Pg 374]poignant and so memorable. You must pardon me this single tear!”

A murmur of ambiguous meaning traveled round the table. The plumptradesman whom von Steyregg had first addressed pushed back his chairand rose, picked up his Missal, tucked it under his arm, took his softfelt hat and thick, tasseled walking-cane from the waiter’s hands; andthen said, turning to the Magyar nobleman:

Würdig Herr, you have paid for my dinner, and I am bound tobe civil to you. But this is a Catholic State all said and done; theLutherans are the peppercorns sprinkled through the salad, and if anyother man than you had told me that this gentleman could take part inOur Lady’s Procession, having filled his belly full of fish, flesh,and fowl upon the Eve of the Feast, I should have called him a liar!knowing that no person is permitted to take part in the solemnity whois not in a state of grace. By that is understood fasting, or at leastabstinence, upon the Vigil, with confession, absolution, penance dulydischarged, and Communion crowning all; added, a proper spirit ofdevotion to the most chaste Mother of God, Who, let me tell you! ishonored in this State. I might add that the recommendation of a priestis usually required, and here in Widinitz the sanction of his Lordshipthe Archbishop. But perhaps your principal has a dispensation whichreleases him from these trifling obligations?”

Teeth showed, or bits of German boxwood strung on silver wires; orgums that lacked even these substitutes, in the faces that were setabout the table. The Pagan Steyregg, flustered by wine and confused bytheological terminology, rushed upon his fate. Of course, he declared,his principal had a dispensation and Madame also.... Every member ofthe party was furnished with the requisite in case of need.... It wasnot customary for persons moving in exalted social spheres to travelwithout, he begged leave to inform the company. Whose entertainment wasto be charged, he emphatically insisted, upon His Serene Highness’sbill.

The table was vacated, the room emptied without any specialdemonstration of gratitude on the part of those who had participatedin His Highness’s bounty. The guests dispersed, to tell their wives orhousekeepers, or to forget to do so, not one remaining save the portlycitizen[Pg 375] with the finely-starched shirt-frill. He said, once safelyoutside the coffee-room door, pausing to offer his snuff-box to thelandlord, whom he encountered on his way from the cellar, bearing aflask of Benedictine and a bottle of special Kirschwasser:

“You have queer guests upstairs, or I have been listening to a lunaticwithin there!”

The speaker, dusting the pungent brown powder from a first fingerand thumb, pointed the indicatory digit in the direction of thecoffee-room. The landlord said, holding the Kirsch between his eye andthe light:

“Heretics, who come to witness our procession of The Assumption asthey might visit a theater-play. Well! one can only pray for theirconversion, and charge their impiety among the extras on the bill.”

His expression portended a total of appalling magnitude. He added:

“They give the surnames of von Widinitz-Dunoisse. He does, that is! Andwe have learned enough since His late Serene Highness was gathered tohis fathers to know what rascally impudence tacks the two together.”

The citizen said, putting away his snuff-box, and flicking some of thebrown grains from his shirt-frill:

“His secretary, steward, pimp, or parasite—whatever the biggerof the two rogues in there”—he signed with his chin towardsthe coffee-room—“may be to your man upstairs, styles him thePrince-Aspirant, Serene Highness, and what-not. One would say, to hearthe braggart, that this son of Napoleon’s old marauder had the Kingof Bavaria, the Federative Council, and the General Assembly at hisback!” He added: “As for the lady who accompanies him, she is styledExcellency. One can only hope she is his wife?”

Meinherr, not so. Upon this point I may pronounceauthoritatively.” The landlord of “The Three Crowns” looked extremelywise. “Married Her Excellency may be; that is extremely probable!...But it is not to the fellow who will pay for this!”

Ach, ach!” ejaculated the sleek citizen, shaking hisscandalized head, “this is truly deplorable!” He added, knowing aninstant’s doubt of the intuition of the innkeeper: “But how are yousure? May you not mistake?”

“Because,” said the host, whose chatter and round[Pg 376] vacant face hadbeguiled Henriette into believing him a simple child of Nature,“because the Herr Colonel (who for all his fine figure and goodlooks is a mere Duselfritz), because the Colonel—when Madameholds up her little finger—obeys without questioning—that is why Iam sure! The legal partner of a man’s bosom may nag or cajole him;she does not issue orders or commands. It is the mistress, not thewife, who gives herself such masterful airs. Again, my Frautells me that Madame’s nightcaps are of real Valenciennes, withlittle moss-rosebuds set inside the frills; and, says my dear one—norespectable married woman would, for a mere husband, thus bedeck——”

“Prut—prut! it would be well, my good friend,” interrupted therespectable tradesman hastily, “to remember that this is a peculiarlysolemn season, and——”

But the host went pounding on:

“Moreover, all the gold plate of Madame’s dressing-case is engraved‘H. de R——.’ But to my mind the thing that convinces most is thatthe Herr Colonel (who is a Quatschkopf as well as aDuselfritz) should let her order up this from the cellar justto taste!”—the speaker lovingly blew a cobweb from the fat neck ofthe Kirsch bottle—“though Kirsch of fifty years old is four thalersthe bottle, and he has said to her how he hates the stuff! Would anyhusband, even of a week or so, tolerate such prodigality in a wife?”

Nu, nu!” said the portly citizen, completely convinced. “Whatshould be done,” he cried in great agitation, “to rid the town of sucha scandal? Think! My wits are upside down!”

He wrung his hands. The innkeeper, that simple child of Nature, rubbedhis nose with the knuckle of his thumb, and said:

“What if you, Meinherr, who supply the Palace with groceries andare so highly respected, should drop a hint to his Lordship in writing?Retreat or no retreat, I’ll bet you a flask of my best the Archbishoptakes measures, and promptly, too! Here, as it chances, is my cook’serrand-boy with his basket. Look you, I will put a new-caught troutfrom the Wid inside it, and your bit of paper under that. The FatherEconomus will be sure to spy it; the rest we may confidently leave toHeaven!”

[Pg 377]

Meanwhile the Marshal’s agents, having fed largely and drunk tocorrespond, rang the bell, summoned the innkeeper, and issued orders.Then von Steyregg mounted to the private room, scratched the door afterthe manner of the confidential attendants of royal personages, andappeared, contorted with bows, before the Colonel and Madame, hopingthat the entertainment set before them had not been utterly unworthyof personages so exalted! “It is not, Your Serene Highness, as thoughyou were at your own Schloss over yonder,” he said, spreading his thickhands and shrugging his big shoulders. “Ere long let us hope thatDestiny and Your Serene Highness’s lucky star will restore you to yourown! Meanwhile, I have ordered a barouche, with four outriders, beingthe best equipage the establishment can furnish. It is but fittingthat Your Highness should utilize the earliest opportunity followingyour arrival to make a Royal Progress—I would say, a little tour ofinspection—embracing the chief objects of interest in the town.”

Dunoisse, inwardly sickened by this prospect, made objections, butHenriette overruled them all. That idea of a Royal Progress waspleasantly titillating. The Eve in her snatched at the apple tenderedby the serpent von Steyregg. The barouche came lumbering to the frontdoor before the dispute ended in Madame’s favor; she glided away to“make herself beautiful,” leaving a mollifying glance and smile behindwith her vanquished opponent. So, petulantly fuming, Dunoisse madeready to accompany her, mentally thanking Heaven that the Staff uniformof ceremony (in which the Baron suggested his victim should arrayhimself) had been left behind in the Rue de Bac.

If the four stout, long-maned, and amply-tailed nags attached to thebarouche had not proved pink-eyed and cream-colored; if the vehicleitself had not been so conspicuously yellow; if the blue-and-scarletlivery of the coachman and the brace of badly-matching footmen, whohung to the back-straps and occupied the board behind, had been lesstawdry and belaced with grease; if the red-nosed elderly outriders hadnot been so obviously bemused with potent liquor, and their beasts lessspavined, broken-kneed and cracked in wind, that so-called progressthrough the capital of his ancestors’ hereditary principality mighthave proved less intolerable to the unlucky scion of their[Pg 378] race. Butwith Köhler and von Steyregg on the front seat, both bare-headed andbare-toothed, oozing with respect and deference, the Baron’s bosomheaving with loyal enthusiasm beneath the metal starfish previouslydescribed; some luckless subject of mediæval justice newly flayed, andparaded upon the hangman’s cart for the popular obloquy, might havefelt as raw and smarting as did Dunoisse.

A straggling cortège of beggars, spectacle-hunters, servant-maids intheir high crimped caps and silver breast-chains, loafers and idlers ofboth sexes accompanied the yellow barouche. Vocal dogs and an Italianorgan-grinder with a pair of monkeys brought up the rear of this motleyfollowing. Every now and then von Steyregg would plunge his hand intoa stout linen bag, which he nursed upon his knees, and scatter smallchange among these gentry. You may imagine this largesse receivedwith yells, cheers, and scrambling. Black eyes and gory noses weredistributed at each fresh shower.

The Town Hall and the Museum, occupying an entire side of the MarketPlace, the Church of the Pied Friars, and the Tower of the Clock withits life-sized brazen woman spinning at the top of the weathercock,occupied but passing notice from the distinguished visitors. Theyellow barouche, with its huzzaing tail of ragamuffins, breasted theState Street, while the holiday strollers that thronged the sidewalksstood still to stare, and heads were projected from upper windows. Andreaching the Cathedral Square that crowned the hilltop, the noble partyalighted at the west porch of the stately building and passed in.

Not for years had Dunoisse set foot across the threshold of the Houseof God; the cult of devotion and worship, the high belief in gloriousthings unseen, the fulfillment of the obligations of the Catholicfaith, had long ceased to be indispensable or even necessary to theman; he looked back upon the piety and fervor of his boyhood with awonder that was largely mingled with contempt. Now, as he mechanicallydipped two fingers in the miniature font that was supported bya sculptured shield bearing the casque with the panache,surmounted by the sable heron of Widinitz, made the Sign of theCross, and bent the knee before the solemn splendors of the HighAltar—gleaming upon the vision from the distant end of the hugeechoing[Pg 379] nave—he glanced at Henriette in wonder at the contained andmodest reverence of her demeanor; and, seeing her sink down gracefullyamidst her whispering flounces and bow her lovely head as though inadoration, felt the muscles of his lips twitch with the ironical desireto smile.

“Wonderful!” he thought, more nearly approaching to a critical analysisof her than he had ever permitted himself. “Whether she believes ornot, she never dispenses with the outward observance of religion! Sheis an enigma, a problem to baffle Œdipus! One would say she and not theson of my mother had Carmel in the blood!”

For how strangely amorous license and devotional fervor commingled inthe nature of this woman, who should know better than this man....

How often, waking in the perfumed, darkened chamber from the deep,dreamless slumber that falls on the indulged and satiate senses, hadnot Dunoisse found himself alone, and realized, with a creeping chillof awe mingled with repugnance, that she was kneeling, a white-robedfigure veiled in shadowy hair, before the ivory Crucifix that hungabove the prie-dieu, praying....

Ah! with what abandonment of sighs and sobs, and tears!... Ere shewould rise, traverse the velvet carpet silently as some pale moonray,and glide, mysteriously smiling, into her lover’s arms.

“Why should I not pray?” she had said to him once. “After all, Christdied for sinners, and I am a sinner.... And even devils believe, theysay. It is only men who deny!”

Dunoisse had long joined the ranks of the deniers. He had determinedthat for him yonder shining, jeweled tabernacle should thenceforthhouse no Unspeakable Mystery, shelter no Heavenly Guest. Nothingbeyond an amiable superstition, an innocent, exquisite myth, embodyinga profound religious truth for two hundred and sixty millions ofChristians; modified or rejected by the Lutheran, Reformed, andPresbyterian Churches; ignored by Confucianist, Taoist, and Buddhist,abhorred by the Hindu, the Mohammedan, and the Jew, should henceforthbe enshrined there. He had come to the conclusion that it was better so.

The light of faith had been quenched in the man’s heart by his owndeliberate act of will. He had said to his soul, unwitting that he hadthus spoken:

[Pg 380]

“If I believed, could I continue to live as I am doing, storing upsharp retribution, dreadful expiation, inconceivable anguish for theworld to come? Not so! Therefore I will forget such words as Death andJudgment. For these poignant, embittered, passing joys, I am content tobarter the hope of eternal bliss.”

And yet, upon those rare occasions when, as now, Dunoisse found himselfin the House of his Maker, the still air, fragrant with the incense ofthe most recent Sacrifice, oppressed him, and the very silence seemedeloquent as a voice of Divine reproach....

For you may slough your skin of State-patronized, easy-goingProtestantism as easily as you can change your political convictions,and presently, with Modern Buddhism, or Spiritualism, or Platonism,Christian Science, Agnosticism, Mormonism, or Hedonism, be covered andclad anew, but Catholicism penetrates the bones, and permeates the verymarrow. You cannot pluck that forth; it is rooted in the fibers of thesoul.

Dunoisse followed his Fate up the great echoing nave of the Cathedral,ushered by the gyrating von Steyregg. Penitents of both sexes, waitingtheir turn in lengthy rows outside the occupied confessionals, glancedup from their beads, as, in a whisper that rattled amidst the carvedrafters of the lofty roof, the agent announced:

“Here lie Your Serene Highness’s illustrious forefathers!” Andostentatiously dried his sympathetic tear with a vast flappinghandkerchief of Isabella hue.

Certainly the sacred fane was populous with departed von Widinitz, fromAlbertus I., First of the Line, and his spouse, the chaste Philippina;to Ludovicus, the latest departed, whose Bathildis had predeceased himby a generation or two.

You saw them represented from life-size to the quarter-bust, in brass,bronze, lead, marble, porphyry, granite, alabaster—every conceivablemedium known to sepulchral Art. And to Dunoisse’s peculiar torment,those tricksy sprites, von Steyregg and Köhler, united in discoveringbetween the cast or sculptured countenances of these worthies and themoody visage of their harassed descendant resemblances of the strikingkind. To hear the knaves appeal to one another—warrant, justify,and approve the[Pg 381] claim of a thirteenth-century nose to its modernreproduction—to witness them scouring aisles or rummaging chapelsin full cry after a chin, or mouth, or ear, or forehead; to see themrun the elusive feature from metal or stone to living earth; andcongratulate one another on the fortunate issue of the chase; wouldhave provoked a smile on the countenance of a Trappist. Their sacrificelaughed even whilst he writhed.

The ceremony of leaving cards upon the Archbishop of Widinitz followed.A trap-mouthed, blue-shaven ecclesiastic of the humbler sort, who worea bunch of keys at the girdle of his well-darned cassock, opened theoaken, iron-studded door, and took the proffered oblongs of pasteboardwithout enthusiasm, intimating that His Lordship did not receivestrangers upon days of solemn retreat. With this janitor von Steyreggparleyed vainly, maintaining a brisk exchange of arguments at the topof the Palace doorsteps, whilst his principals waited at the bottom inthe yellow barouche.

A sportive Fate at this juncture breaks the thread of the narrativewith a Pantomime Interlude. For as, more in sorrow than in angerat the obstinacy of the janitor, the Baron shook off his tear uponthe inhospitable threshold, and turned upon his heel—a littlewhite-headed, berry-brown urchin—a bare-legged messenger, arrayed in atattered shirt and the upper half of a pair of adult breeches, carryinga reed-basket in which reposed a fine, fat, silvery trout, newly-caughtand tempting,—dived between the legs that so strikingly resembledbalusters, and dodged into the Palace with a flourish of dirty heels.

If a portly Magyar of noble rank, in the act of rolling down asteepish flight of limestone steps, could possibly be regarded as amirth-provoking object, one might be tempted to smile as von Steyregg,recording each revolution upon his person with grievous bumps andbruises, performed the horizontal descent. Henriette screamed, Köhlerbeat his bosom, the tag-rag and bobtail roared with glee, whileDunoisse, compelled to share in their amusement despite the sickness athis heart, jumped out of the carriage and picked up the groaning Baron,restored him his battered curly-brimmed hat, the comb, hairbrush, andpiece of soap which had escaped from his coat-tails in the course[Pg 382] oftransit, thrust him into the vehicle, and bade the coachman return to“The Three Crowns.”


What the Father Economus said when he found the grocer’s billet underthe red-spotted trout we may not hear. How the Archbishop receivedthe warning must be equally a matter of conjecture. Hasten on to thesmarting conclusion of the Day of Disgrace that dawned so fairly, thatshone so brightly, that promised such a harvest to those who failedto mark how upon the southwest horizon huge formless ramparts of blueblack cumuli were steadily building, while faint mutterings of distantthunder presaged the breaking of the storm....

The four adventurers had supped together upon the best the inn couldfurnish. Now, seated at ease about the relics of the banquet, in thedining-room of the private suite occupied by His Serene Highness andHer Excellency, they discussed the Plan of Campaign. Fragrant vaporsof choicest Habanas enhaloed them, by permission of Her Excellency,who held between her exquisite lips a Turkish cigarette. And as theysmoked and talked, the contents of a capacious China Bowl of MaraschinoPunch (compounded by Köhler, who was a clever hand at such deliciouschemistry) sank lower, inch by inch....

You may picture Steyregg, revived by much food and a great deal ofliquor; his cuts and scratches plastered with diachylum, the Alpinesummit of his bald occiput adorned by a compassionate chambermaid withpatches of brown-paper steeped in vinegar, retained in place by a linenbandage of turban-shape, reading from a folio sheet of coarsely printedrag-paper, blackened with ancient Gothic capitals (and filched fromwhere it had fluttered, held by a pin, upon one of the notice-boardsexposed in the porch of the Cathedral), the Programme for the followingday.

“We begin,” he boomed, after much preliminary throat-scraping, “by YourSerene Highness’s permission—if the Herr Attorney-Oath-Commissionerwill snuff the candles I shall be able to see better!—we beginwith Deputations from the various Trades-bands and Companies ofHandi-craftsmen carrying banners.... Follow....”

[Pg 383]

The gross man expanded his chest, and rolled out:

“The Charity-Children of both sexes, the boys carrying green branches,the girls bouquets of flowers. Succeed....

“Confraternities of Sodalists, male and female, headed by Persons onHorseback in Roman and Silesian costumes, representing St. Lawrencewith his gridiron and St. Hyacinth with his ax.

“A triumphal Car, with a Tableau of St. Helena in Roman Imperial Habit,instructing St. Macarius, Bishop of Jerusalem, where to Dig for theRelic of the True Cross....

“The Four Mendicant Orders of Religious of both sexes, with tapers.

“The Boys of the Dominican Orphanage bearing tapers.

“The Girls of the Carmelite School strewing flowers.

“The Image of Our Lady of the Assumption, attended by Sisters of theOrder of the Immaculate Heart.”

Dunoisse started in his chair. A burning heat raced through him, andyet he shivered, oppressed by a deadly sickness of the soul.

“The Secular Clergy,” read von Steyregg, and cleared his throat. “TheArchbishop and Chapter. The Sacred Canopy, borne by six Noble Officersof the Garrison in Full Uniform.”...

Dunoisse, with an ashen face, rose up at the foot of the table....It had been revealed to him as by a lightning-flash, over what abottomless abyss he hung.... Henriette appeared to notice nothing....von Steyregg pursued:

“In this unhappy document, Madame, I have suggested an alteration. Ashere provided, the Mayor and Corporation, the Garrison—in uniform ofreview—with the towns-people, peasants, children, and beggars were tohave brought up the rear of the procession. But my amendment (forwardedin writing to the Archbishop, since that prelate has rudely closed hisdoors against us), is, that His Lordship and the Chapter should befollowed by—grant but a moment!—I will set it down....”

He sucked a black-lead pencil, scrawled on the wide margin of theofficial programme, and read as he scrawled:

“His Serene Highness, Hector-Marie-Aymont, Prince-Aspirant ofWidinitz, carrying a taper, and attended by the WohlgeborenHerr Attorney-and-Oath-Commissioner[Pg 384] Ottilus Köhler, and theHochwohlgeboren Herr Baron, Rodobald Siegfridus Theodore vonSteyregg, Knight of the Most Pious Order of Saint Emmerich.” He added,blowing like a seal, and mopping his great moist countenance with acrumpled table-napkin:

“Take the word of a Magyar nobleman, Your Serenity, that taper of yourswill have cooked the Regent Luitpold’s goose for him, all being saidand done!”

But His Serene Highness, who had dropped heavily back into thechair, was leaning upon his folded arms, staring with an air of deepabstraction at the polished surface of the dessert-covered mahogany,and might have heard or not.

“Dull dog that you are, my Prince!” said von Steyregg mentally,“this charming Eve of yours is worth a million of you. Were shePrincess-Aspirant of this phlegmatic State, it would be a hop, skipand jump into the saddle. With you, had you not a Steyregg at yourelbow—Ps’sst!—the whole adventure would fizzle off like a dampsquib—I would bet my head on it! Now, what picture you are gapingat—with your eyes fixed and your jaw dropping—I would give this glassof punch to know.”

He tossed it off with a flourish and a wink at his rat-facedconfederate. The flourish, the wink, were lost upon Dunoisse.

For as a hanging man may see, in the last struggles of asphyxia, thedreadful details of the crime that led to his execution limned inlifelike action and color on the swirling fire-shot blackness, so rosebefore the mental vision of the son of Marie-Bathilde a picture ofthe Cathedral, with the great procession of the morrow—headed by thewhite-robed bearer of the Crucifix, amidst wafts of incense and intonedLitanies, rolling down the nave of the Cathedral and out through itswest door upon the streets.

Ah! was Henriette deaf, that she did not hear the chanting voices,and the slow, measured tread of the lay folk, and religious, and thepattering footsteps of the children, as, with reverent demeanor andhushed, rapt faces they moved before or followed the image of theMother of God?

Did she not see the Canopy of wrought cloth-of-gold, adorned withtassels of pearls, fringed with innumerable little golden bellsthat tinkled as its bearers bore it onwards? Was she blind to theFigure that stumbled along[Pg 385] in its shelter, robed in white linen,bloodstained and torn and dusty, bending almost double under a Cross ofroughly-shaped timbers, and wearing a Crown of Thorns?...

The haggard black eyes sought hers in desperate interrogation. ButHenriette was dreamily playing with a silver fruit-knife as shelistened to von Steyregg. Her own eyes were hidden under their longlashes; her face told no tale, as the intolerable voice of the agenttrumpeted:

“As regards a favorable answer from this arrogant prelate, YourExcellency, I will guarantee it within the hour—or two—having, in HisSerene Highness’s name, as his business-representative, undertaken thatcompliance with his desires will be made profitable in the pecuniarysense by a donation of One Thousand Thalers to the Restoration Fund ofthe Cathedral. Ahem!”

He winked his left eye, which the sliding turban threatened toextinguish, folded up the official programme and threw it on the table,saying:

“This reading dries the throat consumedly. With Her Highness’s—I meanwith Madame’s permission, I will take another drop of punch!”

He filled a bumper and proposed a toast: “To the Success of TheAdventure!”

Köhler drank the sentiment with enthusiasm. Henriette sipped, smilingat her moody lover, who pushed his glass away. And a resonant, culturedvoice said from the doorway:

“Permit me to beg pardon of the company for having entered unannounced!”

The heads of the adventurers turned as by a single impulse. Thelandlord, who had knocked unheard, and ushered in a stranger undercover of the toast-drinking, was seen to be posed, in an attitude ofrigid respect, beyond the threshold. The person who had spoken, ashort priest with singularly bright gray eyes shining out of a pale,thin-featured face;—who was wrapped, despite the sultry heat ofAugust, in a voluminous and shabby black cloak, and did not seem at allembarrassed,—was standing just within the door.

He said, and the great volume of his voice seemed to fill the roomand flow outwards through the French windows that opened upon a stonebalcony overhanging the Market Place:

[Pg 386]

“May it be understood that I am here as the mouthpiece of theArchbishop of Widinitz?... May I presume that I shall be patientlylistened to?... I will be as brief as is compatible with clearness.Pray remain seated, all of you. No, sir, I am obliged!...”

For Henriette had risen languidly and curtsied deeply. Von Steyregg hadhoisted himself to those baluster-shaped legs of his. Köhler had gotup with his mouth full of almonds and raisins: and Dunoisse, with thepolished grace that distinguished him, was offering the little priesthis chair.

The ecclesiastic scanned the dark, handsome face and the soldierly,muscular, supple figure with a degree of kindliness. He said, as hewaved the offered seat away:

“What I have to say, Colonel Dunoisse, will be best said standing.Your intention to visit this town was not previously notified to theArchbishop. He was not consulted in the matter of your intentionsand views. Otherwise you might have been spared the commission ofa grievous error, which cannot but create antagonism, prejudice,and contempt in the minds of those whom you would most desire toingratiate——”

He broke off, for von Steyregg smote upon the table, and bellowed,while the decanters and glasses jingled, peaches hopped from the centerdish, and the thumper’s turban fell off and rolled under the board:

“‘Contempt,’ sir, is not a word to be used in connection with HisSerene Highness. I, Rodobald von Steyregg, Baron and Knight of theSublime Order of St. Emmerich, protest against its use!”

Having protested, Steyregg dived for his turban, replaced it on hishead, and snorted defiance. The small pale priest regarded him with afaint, lurking smile, and said calmly:

“Sir, the Archbishop received a letter from you this evening. I amcharged with the answer to the document herewith.”

He turned to Dunoisse and continued:

“Colonel Dunoisse, the fact of your near alliance by blood with thereigning House of Widinitz is incontestable and undeniable. Did notthe Salic law obtain in this principality, upon you would undoubtedlydevolve the Hereditary Crown.”

[Pg 387]

His great voice seemed to be a palpable presence in the room. Whilehe spoke, not by any means at the full pitch of it, the wires of aspinet that stood against the wall vibrated audibly; and the crystalpendants on the chandeliers and mantel-vases tinkled with a gentlemusical sound. While another sound, of which Dunoisse had been faintlyconscious for some time, and which might have been the muttering ofdistant thunder; or the humming of innumerable bees; or the purring ofa cat of Brobdingnagian proportions, was stilled as though the unknownforces that combined to cause it had caught an echo of the powerfultones, and held their peace to listen.

As the priest went on:

“Undoubtedly, but the fundamental law as it stands strictly excludesthe female line and the males derived from it. And were it possibleto change this law, even at the eleventh hour, I am deputed to say toyou that the procedure would be strenuously opposed by the personwho would in that event stand as the direct dynastic successor to thehereditary authority!”

“My mother!”

Dunoisse, through whom the words had darted with a shock and thrillresembling the discharge from an electric battery, thrust from him thechair on which he had hitherto indifferently leaned, and turned uponthe speaker a face that had suddenly grown sharp and pinched, saying ina voice that was curiously flat and toneless:

“You are in communication with my mother, sir? You have been deputed byher to say this to me?”

The priest bowed assent, and continued calmly:

“For, though it be true that the Almighty, in His Infinite wisdom, haschastened us Catholics of Widinitz by placing over us a sovereign ofthe Reformed Faith; and, though we cannot but deplore the rigor withwhich the Regent has treated certain communities of religious hithertoresident in the principality; we are bound to own that in otherrespects we have been treated with clemency and justice. In addition,the domestic life of our Regent is free from scandal....”

Dunoisse’s ears burned like fire. The little priest’s great voice wenton:

“We recognize in His Serene Highness a chaste spouse, a wise father, aprudent governor. How ill-advised should[Pg 388] we be to prefer to a rulersuch as this a bad Catholic, an individual whose personal historyaffords a lamentable example of ungoverned passions; who, dead to allsense of shame, blazons his infamy before the eyes of the conscientiousand the decent——”

Dunoisse interrupted, saying with stiff lips:

“May I take it that these personalities are leveled at myself?”

The little priest returned, with extraordinarily quiet dignity:

“The rebuke, Colonel Dunoisse, is meant for you. I do not deal inpersonalities.”

He added, in a voice that sent keen, icy thrills coursing down thespines of his listeners:

“The Archbishop replies to the proposal contained in your agent’sletter emphatically in the negative. He says to you, Colonel Dunoisse,with the voice that speaks to you now: ‘You have offered us a price inmoney for the privilege of participating in the morrows procession. Youhave not scrupled to present yourself as a partaker in the solemnitiesof our Blessed Lady’s Festival. You shrink not at the thought ofapproaching Him Who is borne beneath the Sacred Canopy, unconfessed,unabsolved—in a state of deadly sin. Shameless, unabashed, you woulddisplay yourself to the scandal of Christ’s servants, accompanied bythe partner of your lamentable errors—with your acknowledged mistress,the unfaithful wife of another, flaunting by your side!”

Henriette, pale as death, leaped up from her seat as a woman mightwho had swallowed some deadly alkaloid. Dumbly, as though thepoison veritably stiffened her muscles, she writhed, fighting forspeech—wrenching at the velvet ribbon that confined her swellingthroat.

“You!—you!—you hear these insults?” she at last stammered, pointinga quivering hand at Dunoisse, whom the words seemed to have deprivedof the powers of speech and motion. “Are you deaf, sir, that suchthings are spoken, and you stand there silent as one of those statuesin the Cathedral? Are you dumb or paralyzed that you do not orderthis man to leave my presence? Cannot you see,” she raved, “that thisis no messenger from the Archbishop? Some fanatical priest,—somepresumptuous secretary,—has dared—has——! Just Heaven!—if myhusband[Pg 389] had been here, he would have thrown the creature from theroom!”

But Dunoisse remained speechless and frozen, under the fiery torrentof her upbraidings. It was von Steyregg who, in absence of anydemonstration from his principal, seized his opportunity to beeffective and picturesque. He strode haughtily to the door, and,opening it, turned with majesty to the intruder, trumpeting:

“With your person, sir, respecting your cloth as I abhor yoursentiments, I will not soil my fingers. But unless you instantly removeyourself from these apartments, private to His Serene Highness and HerExcellency, I will—I will ring for the landlord and have you carriedout and put upon the street!”

“That could hardly be,” said the little gray priest mildly, “for I amthe Archbishop of Widinitz....”

He showed one lean finger outside the folds of the shabby cloak.Upon the digit a great sapphire gleamed darkly.... And a silence ofunspeakable consternation fell upon the conspirators, that was suddenlybroken by a half-brick, deftly thrown, that crashed through a paneof one of the French windows, shivered a crystal chandelier full oftwinkling wax-lights that hung above the supper-table; and ploppedinto the punch-bowl, dispersing shivers of Oriental ware and gouts offragrant liquor into every corner of the room....


The crash broke the spell that clogged Dunoisse’s faculties. He criedout in savage anger, and tore open the swinging, splintered window, anddashed out upon the balcony, stopping short in sheer astonishment atthe spectacle he beheld below.

For the vast white square of the Market Place, that was centered byfour crystal, springing fountains, and backed by an August sunset ofpale green and clear rose and glorious flaming orange-red, was fullof heads of women and men, some bare, some covered, so closely packedthat an acrobat might have walked on them without leaping a single gap.And the faces belonging to those Teutonic heads and the vari-coloredglittering eyes enameled in all the[Pg 390] faces, were intent upon the roomto which belonged the window with the shattered pane. And at the sightof Dunoisse the vast assembly sent out its breath as at a singlehissing expiration:

“S’s ss!”

Beyond that, nothing more. But the very restraint of the vast crowdwas worse than sinister. Plainly these lumpish Teutons were not thereto waste valuable time in threats. Their silence menaced and appalledbeyond all Gallic yells and execrations. And as Dunoisse stoodspeechless, staring down into all those tigerish eyes, a strong thinhand gripped his shoulder, and the Archbishop’s voice said in his ear:

“You witness the terrible effect of your own insane rashness—thesacrilegious presumption of your agents...! Present yourself upon thestreets to-morrow—attempt to join in the procession—and the peoplewill tear you to shreds! Be silent! I will speak to them!”

He plucked Dunoisse back into the room with one imperative hand,unhooking the shabby black cloak with the other. He shook it deftlyfrom his shoulders, removed his soft felt hat, threw it aside, andstepped out upon the balcony, revealed as a small slight figure in aworn black cassock, red-piped, red-buttoned, and sashed, his high-domedbaldish head covered with a purple skull-cap, the sacred symbol hangingby its golden chain upon his breast. And at the sight of him a changecame over all those waiting faces, and a feline purr of satisfactioncame from the great crowd.

The Archbishop said, in a mild and gentle tone, addressing theassemblage:

“My children, we are not ignorant of the cause of this demonstration.You are gathered here to protest, by force if necessary, against whatjustly appears to you a sacrilege of the most flagitious kind——”

In every attentive face there showed upon the instant a gaping hole.A roar of assent responded that shattered the leaping columns of theMarket Place fountains into a rain of glittering fragments. Scareddoves rose in bevies from the housetops, wheeling in circles underthe rose-flushed sunset sky. The Archbishop went on, in a voice ofastonishing resonance and power:

“My children, be at peace! No indignity such as you[Pg 391] have had reasonto fear will be offered to the Divine Presence of Our Lord in the MostBlessed Sacrament, or to the Immaculate Virginity of His Holy Mother!”

He lifted his hand.

“Therefore, I say to you, profane not the Eve of the Feast withviolence! Disperse without casting one other stone. Be assured, Colonelvon Widinitz-Dunoisse will not walk in the procession unless in a stateof soul conducive to edification. I bid you now go home!”

The Archbishop might have been obeyed, but that a lean tall man inseedy black, with burning cavernous eyes in a lean, parched, yellowface, leaped up upon the bronze balustrade of one of the Market Placefountains, and cried, in a voice that cracked like a breaking stick:

“He has scattered money among you, and some of you have stooped togather it! For shame! Do you not know whence those accursed coins weretaken? Then I will tell you. From the dowry of the Carmelite SisterThérèse de Saint-François! From the funds of the House of Mercy overwhose closed doors the ivy is growing! From the Treasury of Christ!...Then hurl back the defiled and tainted coins with contempt andindignation! Drive forth the thief’s son with his harlot! Purge thetown of them! Kill—a-a-a!”

The lean man threw up his hands at this juncture, and fell backfrothing in epilepsy. But he had spoken words that had the effect ofoil poured upon a slackened furnace. The hubbub of voices that ensuedreduced even the Archbishop to dumb show. Stones began to fly, nolonger leveled at the room behind the balcony, where the high-domedhead and pale, worn profile of the prelate were descried, as heparleyed with the unwished-for visitors.... The lower windows sufferedattack; and with the larger missiles came hopping the coppers andsilver bits that had been scattered from Steyregg’s bag. Those whogrudged parting most threw hardest of all.... The crash and tinkle ofbreaking glass went on until every window-frame in the frontage of “TheThree Crowns” presented a central void befringed with splinters—untilthe landlord, hysterical with loss, rushed out bareheaded into theMarket Place, and, falling upon his knees, solemnly swore that if thework of destruction did but cease, the loathed intruders should thenand there depart from his house.

[Pg 392]

His piercing accents reached the beleaguered garrison in the roombehind the balcony.... The Archbishop turned to Dunoisse, and said,slightly shrugging his shoulders:

“Compliance will be your only possible course.”

Dunoisse was about to expostulate, but Henriette panted at her lover’sear:

“Yes!—let us go from this dreadful place! Oh!—mad that I was to haveset my foot in it!”

Then Dunoisse rang the bell. With its broken rope in his hand, heshouted to the scared and chalk-faced waiter:

“Bring the bill! Order both carriages! Instantly! Do you hear?”

The affrighted man gasped out:

“Sir, they are ready!”

And almost instantly, as it seemed, the green chariot and the brownlandau, horsed, and heaped with unlocked and unpacked portmanteaux,empty valises, and the garments and articles of toilet that these hadcontained, were rattled out of the posting-yard and brought to thefront-door of “The Three Crowns.”

No bill appeared. The banknotes and gold Dunoisse would have thrustupon the landlord the man refused, perhaps out of conscientiousness,perhaps in fear of further damage to his property.... Throwing themoney down upon the table, Dunoisse grasped his hat and cane, andoffered his arm to Henriette. She placed her little hand upon it, andshrank in terror as a savage, ominous growl came from the angry throngoutside.

“They shall not harm you!” Dunoisse muttered between his teeth, andurged her forwards.

“They will not harm you, Madame!” the Archbishop said, who had quittedthe room a moment previously, and now returning, gravely offered hisown arm to Henriette upon the other side. She cast him a swimming,eloquent look of reproach that said: “My touch pollutes,—you yourselfhave said it!” Then, as another growl came from the Market Place, shegulped her resentment down, and set her little frightened clutch uponthe red-piped cassock-sleeve....

And so, protected by the Church that had denounced her, Henriette wentforth, her livid lover bulwarking her frail charms upon the other side.At sight of her it was as if the great cattish crowd crouched beforespringing. It[Pg 393] wagged from side to side, and the eyes in it flickeredyellow and green. But the blood-thirst that parched those hot andsavage throats was checked when the red-buttoned black cassock andhigh domed head were recognized by her side. The crowd fell back intoits former stolid immobility, and Dunoisse opened the carriage-door,instead of the shrinking hostler, and the Archbishop handed in Madamede Roux, and, to the astonishment of all, followed her. Dunoisse tookhis seat in the vehicle at a sign from the prelate, who then gave thepostillions—who had slewed round in their great boots, the better toview a sight so unusual—the signal to move on....

And then, at a walking pace, through a lane that continually opened inthe great mass of grim-faced people, and as continually closed behindthe green chariot and the brown landau—containing only the scaredvalet and the quaking maid—(the Marshal’s agents having mysteriouslydisappeared), both vehicles passed through the Market Place, down thePromenade, and rolled under the portcullis of the Peace Gate. Onlywhen their wheels resounded on the gravel-covered drawbridge did theArchbishop give the signal to pull up. Bareheaded, Dunoisse lent aid tohis descent, stammering out some broken phrases of gratitude.

“Sir, I have done no more,” said the Archbishop, “than was enjoinedon me by my calling and profession. See to the lady, who has sufferedmuch alarm. And—I have not yet given you the message from your mother.She has a dispensation to receive you. She will expect you at dark,at the Convent of the Carmelites in the Old Town. It must be reachedby a different route, but that need not concern you.... Put up forthe night at ‘The Heron’ posting-house, fourteen miles from here; youwill remember the inn—you passed it on your journey. I have sent on aservant with swift horses in advance of you,—you will mount and rideback with the man; he will guide you in perfect safety! As for Madame,you need be under no apprehension—the landlord of ‘The Heron’ is atrustworthy person.... Dear me! What have we here? How truly deplorablea spectacle!”... Was there a twinkle of amusement in the bright grayeyes that regarded it?... “These two gentlemen who approach in suchhaste,” said the Archbishop, “I take to be those members of your partywho preferred to remain behind!”

[Pg 394]

Despite the water that dripped from their garments, proving them tohave been ducked in one of the fountains of the Market Place, and theadhering filth that proved them to have been subsequently rolled inthe kennel, the two bounding figures were recognizable as Köhler andvon Steyregg. For—having concealed themselves in the cellar of “TheThree Crowns,” with the intention of remaining there perdu untildarkness should favor their departure from Widinitz—the confederateshad been discovered amongst the vats and barrels by a hireling; pluckedthence and, thrust by the maddened landlord and his willing servitorsforth upon the pavement, but a few minutes after the departure of theColonel and Madame....

You saw the pair, running the gauntlet of thumps, buffets, clouts, andwhacks, down the lane that kept opening in the crowd in front of themand closing up behind.... The suggestion of a citizen that they shouldbe tumbled into the city fosse met with some approval, but the majoritywere against the proceeding. In that case the Archbishop might haveintervened, instead of taking snuff and looking the other way....

The fugitives gained the rear carriage, and leaped in, each at a door,the impromptu harlequinade provoking roars of laughter. Neither had ahat, or breath to lavish. Steyregg had parted with an entire coat-tail.His Order was missing from its soiled, watered ribbon—a loss whichcaused him infinite torment. Köhler was collarless and bleeding fromthe nose.

The accommodation offered by “The Heron” posting-house, upon theforest-road fourteen miles from Widinitz, subsequently appeared to boththe worthies too near the city to be healthy. Therefore, without takingformal leave of His Serene Highness or Her Excellency (so lately therecipients of their heartfelt homage), the Baron and the attorney hireda post-chaise; and, racked by grievous bodily aches and pains, it maybe conjectured, as well as twinges spiritual and mental, pushed uponthe road to France.

“And so,” said von Steyregg, upon the day that saw the return of theprecious pair to Paris, “because of Prince Cocky-Locky’s béguinfor Madame Henny-Penny, a plot of the first order is fudged, dished,and done for. Devil take the woman!”

[Pg 395]

Köhler returned, straightening a brand-new paper collar with aconquering air:

“She is a chic type, so no doubt he would be agreeable. Which ofus is to tell Old Fireworks of the fiasco? That will have to be done!”

Von Steyregg retorted irritably:

“Tell—tell! Why the deuce are you so set on telling? Will he stump upa single shiner, once he knows of the mess?”

Köhler made a neat circle with his left thumb and forefinger, andwinked through it. Both men, it will be perceived, had left theirgraceful phrases and courtly manners behind in Widinitz, with Köhler’soriginal paper collar and his partner’s left coat-tail. To the muteadmission of the wink, von Steyregg returned:

“Very well, then! We have made a bit out of this—at least, youhave——”

Köhler interpolated:

“Go it!”

“I am going to go it,” said von Steyregg blandly. “I have not seen mynative Hungary for a long time, and the heart of the true Magyar, evenamidst the most beauteous scenes of foreign countries, ceaselesslyyearns for home. Impart the news of the disaster to Monseigneur if youfeel disposed to be kicked!—or leave the too-painful duty to his puppyof a son!”

He turned, revealing an aching void where there had been a coat-tail.

“Tell me one thing before you hurry back to your native Hungary, youyearning Magyar,” said Köhler brutally. “Who was it kiss-kissed thepeople of Widinitz on to break the windows of the inn of ‘The ThreeCrowns,’ frighten Madame de Roux into hysterics, provoke Monsieur theColonel into a display of determination, duck both of us in one of thepublic fountains, and toss me in a horse-blanket? For all his mealymouth, I say the Archbishop!”

Von Steyregg said, rolling a bloodshot eye in rapture:

“Undoubtedly, the Archbishop! Assuredly, the Archbishop!” He heavedan elephantine sigh. “With a confederate like that priest to back me,I could break the bank of every gambling-hell in Europe. What a wastethat he should be an honest man! Au revoir, dear friend! You[Pg 396]shall visit me at my baronial castle in beloved Hungary, as sure as Iam a Magyar of the pure blood!”

“Farewell for ever, old comrade!” said Köhler, with emotion, as hehailed a passing cab.


That wild night-ride through the beech-forest back to Widinitz, and theinterview with his mother at the Convent of the Carmelites, was ever toDunoisse the most unreal, the most strange of all those adventures thatseemed as though woven upon the loom of Sleep.

He remembered his lost mother as so tall—yet, when the dark woolencurtains hanging behind the double grating that halved the Conventparlor had been drawn back, revealing the two brown-robed, black-veiledfigures—the shape that had put its veil aside with a little, shrunkenhand, and called him by his name—had appeared to be barely above thestature of a child.

Not in the haggard, ashen-gray face, closely framed in the conventualfolds of white linen—its features pinched and drawn, its eyes almostextinguished as though with constant weeping—was there anything leftthat recalled in the remotest degree the lovely, beloved mother of theold, unforgotten days....

Only the voice, so soaked with tears, so changed from that of her son’sremembrance, retained tones that well-nigh wrought Dunoisse to a wildoutbreak of weeping, though sometimes in the dim and sunken eyes thereshone a transient ray of the dear light of old.

If she had shrieked, it would have pierced the heart less than herimmobile and rigorous quiescence. Yet her trembling could not becontrolled by any act of will. Between the visitor who stood upon oneside of the double grille, and the brown-robed, black-veiled figureseated upon the other, a current of hot air might have been rising, theshape so quivered and vibrated and shuddered before his eyes.

Ah! could he have realized the wild conflict of emotions surging underthe white guimpe and the coarse brown habit.... But if the weakbody of Sister Térèse de Saint[Pg 397] François was shaken as a reed, herdetermination was immovable; her word was not to be gainsaid.

Never, never!—though the Plenum of the Federative Council should throwall its “Ayes!” into the scale that confirmed the females of the houseof Widinitz and their heirs in the dynastic succession, would thenun-Princess consent to her son’s occupying the throne.

Saying the word so softly in her threadlike, feeble voice, her “Never!”reared between Hector and the hereditary dignities a Titanic wall ofrock, that no tempered tool might pierce, no fulminate shatter andblast.

So it was quashed and ended, the vexed question of the Claim ofSuccession. And Dunoisse drew breath with almost a sensation of relief.Of reproach there was not a shadow in her voice or expression. Shehad not heard—possibly she had not heard?—that her son had notlacked a companion on his journey. Those scathing reproaches of theArchbishop’s were not to be voiced again by Sister Térèse. She spokeof the Marshal—asked of his health? Their son felt himself flushingguiltily in the sheer inability to reply with authority. Who knew lessof Achille Dunoisse, well or ill, jaundiced or jovial, gouty or in goodfettle, than the son he had begotten? Tardy Conscience, waking from anodding sleep in the saddle, dug both spurs rowel-deep in Dunoisse’ssmart sides. His eyes shunned the sunken eyes that questioned withsuch desperate eagerness, belying the sparse, meager utterance, thecarefully colorless tone. He stammered a conventional reply.

“You will give him a message from me, when you return to him,” shesaid, and dropped the faded curtains of her eyelids between them....“Tell him that I who know him to be infinitely generous and noble atheart”—Dunoisse barely restrained a start of incredulous surprise atthe new idea of nobility in connection with the Marshal—“tell him thatI was never led by any act of his to doubt the disinterestedness ofhis regard. And say to him, that what he wildly dreams may one day bebrought about, cannot and will not! That in the parched and dried-upskeleton you have seen here at the Convent there is no beauty left tocovet. Entreat of him to think of his wife and your mother as one whohas passed forever beyond the gates of this world.... For I have chosento be[Pg 398] dead whilst living,” said the thread-thin, trembling voice,“that by the Divine Mercy not only I, but others—may not taste of theDeath that is eternal.” She added, almost inaudibly: “My strength isnot great, Hector. I have suffered much lately.... Take my blessingnow, and go.”

She rose from what was now revealed as a wooden stool, and as herson knelt down before the inexorable grating, she thrust a slender,wasted finger between the iron wires of the lattice, and lightly tracedthe Sign of the Cross upon his brow. How its touch thrilled him—thewithered little finger that Achille Dunoisse had kissed with suchexuberant rapture! Her son would have pressed his lips to it, but thatshe drew it quickly away. He said in a tone of bitter sadness, for theslight involuntary recoil had wounded:

“Ah!—you do well to shrink from me, my mother!—could you know all!...”

She put up her little shaking hand, and swiftly pulled her close blackveil down, and breathed from behind its screen:

“I do know all.... It is not for me to judge you—whose veins werefilled from mine....”

“Mother!” broke from Hector hoarsely, for her terrible humilityappalled him. It was as though she had bared her scarred shoulders inhis sight, and bent her frail strength to the scourge. She silencedhim by a gesture, and continued, in a whisper so faint that it barelyreached his ears:

“But if you can—atone!”

The veil was lifted, the sunken eyes met Hector’s.... What infinitetenderness shone in their dark gray depths. She said, in the voice thatfluttered like a cobweb in the wind: “For there is but one road topeace, and that is the Way of Expiation. My feet have stumbled amidstits thorns for many years now.... Farewell! Pray for me! Tell yourfather I——”

Dunoisse had no more words of her. The little figure had swayed andwavered, the watchful Sister in attendance had stepped forwards andthrown an arm about it and pulled the curtain-rope with her disengagedhand. And the black woolen drapery had fallen, with a rattling ofmetal rings,—and Dunoisse as he stumbled from the parlor,[Pg 399] blinded byrushing tears, knew that he had looked his last, in this world, uponhis mother....

But the details of that brief meeting remained as bitten in with acidon the memory of the son. An elderly woman, who served the Sistersas portress of the Convent’s outer gate, contributed a touch ortwo to the unforgettable picture; speaking, in tones of genuinelyaffectionate reverence, as she guided the stranger, by the light ofthe evil-smelling tallow candle in her iron lantern, through diversstone-flagged passages previously traversed, of Sister Térèse de SaintFrançois.

“Who has been our Mother Prioress now ten years, and a holier andwiser never ruled the Convent. And how she wept, dear, humble soul!when the decision of the Chapter was made known to her at Vienna. Sheimplored the Mother-General, upon her knees, to spare her the shameof being sent back to rule her superiors in piety and obedience ...but no! it had to be.... Thenceforth—until her strength gave out—thetasks that were too heavy for the most energetic were performed bythe Mother-Prioress, who was the weakest of all. And to this day,when compelled to rebuke a sister for a fault, she will first beg herforgiveness; or, when any specially heavy penance will be enjoined uponanother by the Father-Director, she will meet such a one as she comesfrom the confessional and whisper: ‘Tell me what it is, so that Imay perform it with you!...’ One might truly say our Mother hasa zest for mortification, and an appetite for fasting that is neversatisfied.” The portress, whose rosy cheeks and plump figure testifiedto a discreet enjoyment of the good things of the world, sighed andshook her black-capped head as she added: “The gnädiger Herrknows that Saints are not made without suffering. Our Lord decreedit should be so. And—come the Last Day—if I can catch on to theskirt of our Reverend Mother’s habit—I dare to say I shall stand abetter chance than most. Good-night, gnädiger Herr!—or rathergood-morning!—for in another hour it will be day.” And the portresscurtsied Dunoisse out into the clammy grayness that heralded dawn, andclosed and locked and barred the Convent door. And as the stars paledand the wan moon reeled northwards as though sickened at the spectacleof[Pg 400] all the deeds that are done by men under Night’s sable canopy,Dunoisse and Remorse rode back through the shadowy forest roads, to theinn of “The Heron,” where waited Henriette.

She had not been to bed. She had paced the single guest-room of theposting-house all night, waiting in passionate impatience for herlover’s return. When she heard his step upon the uncarpeted stair, sheran to the door and opened it, and shut it when he entered; and threwherself before it, and opened the flood-gates of her fury, that hadbeen pent up all those hours....

“So!... You have returned!... I presume I am expected to be grateful!I, who have spent a night of horror in this miserable place with a pairof frightened servants for my sole protectors and companions....”

“Are not von Steyregg and Köhler——?” Dunoisse began. She answeredbefore he had completed the sentence:

“They have taken what conveyance they could procure, and posted on toParis; and had I been wiser I would have accompanied them.... ‘HadI been wiser’ do I say?...” She laughed angrily, plucking atthe ribbon of velvet that confined her swelling throat. “One grainof sense would have saved me from the fatal error of accompanyingyou to that den among the mountains—that hot-bed of bigotry andintolerance—whence we have been—like a pair of lepers!—cast out.”Her teeth chattered, she struck her mouth with her little clenched fistas relentlessly as though it had been an enemy’s. “But you insisted,”she resumed—“I yielded to your persuasions.... Oh!—how hideously Ihave been repaid!”

His haggard eyes regarded her with a dreadful recollection in them.In her disarray and abandonment—the dishevelled hair, with itsdrooping curls and loosened coils, the pallor of fatigue that warredwith the burnt flush of feverish excitement; the hinted lines andindicated hollows in the passionate, mutinous, changeful face thatthe merciless daylight revealed as it showed the crumpled silksand soiled laces of the dinner-dress that had been so fresh anddainty a few hours before—she was the Henriette of that morning ofhis return to Paris—save for the branding mark upon her throat.While in her disillusioned eyes he[Pg 401] seemed almost plain, not at allheroic—desperately uninteresting—a poor creature stripped of all hisprincely garniture.... And she cried, in a voice unlike her own:

“For you have made me blush for you! Why could you not have goneout upon the balcony and spoken to the people? Where were yourcourage—your manliness—your strength?”

Dunoisse might have answered her: “With you!” but he bowed his headin silence under the lashing hailstorm of her reproaches. The springsof energy were dried up in him; he felt like an old man. She pursued,while her beautiful eyes shot baleful lightnings, and her little teethgritted savagely:

“How can a woman of spirit love a man who is not manly? You will haveyourself to thank for whatever happens now!... Where have you been allthis night? What have you done? Into what new kennel of degradationwill you next drag me? Or having gone so far, will you abandon yourundeniable right, and seek no longer to obtain recognition of yourClaim of Succession from the Council of the Federation? That you intendto do so I am quite prepared to hear!”

She paced the painted floor of the meagerly-furnished, bare innguest-chamber, dragging the woolen rugs awry with her trailing silkenflounces, spurning the spotted fawn skins with the toes of her littlesatin shoes. Dunoisse murmured, as he sank down wearily into theuncomfortable arms of a three-cornered elbow-chair of green-paintedpine, upholstered in Berlin-wool cross-stitch, and turned his eyes fromher:

“Dearest, my mother has put her veto on the affair—it is for her todecide—and I am bound to respect her wishes.” He added, in a breakingvoice: “Would to Heaven they had been known to me before!”

“Your mother!—your mother!” she raved. “Is no one to be considered—noone obeyed but she? You fool!—your wife might meekly submit to bethrust aside because of your duty to your mother.... But not yourmistress!—not a woman like me!”

She was beside herself—a beautiful fury—her lovely facedistorted—her mouth wrung crooked with the bitter flood of invective,insult, upbraiding, that came pouring from it. He rose, and said, in atone that was hostile and[Pg 402] menacing, while the cold light in his blackeyes chilled and daunted her:

“When you speak of my mother, Madame, you will do so withconsideration, and respect, and reverence. Let that for the future beunderstood.”

She laughed harshly, setting his teeth on edge with a sensation thatwas sheer loathing of her. She said, shrugging her shoulders, driven onto the verge of self-degradation by her resentment, and her contempt,and her weariness; willing to break her spell over the man forever, ifonly she might wound him sufficiently deep:

“With all my heart, Monsieur! But at the same time, accord to me ameasure of the consideration, respect, and so forth you lavish soabundantly upon Madame there! I may lay claim to it, I fancy.... Afterall, we are in the same galley; though, let me point out, I wasnot chained to the bench by an irrevocable vow.” She added, as Dunoissestared at her speechlessly: “Good Heavens! it is inconceivable thatnobody has ever told you, when people are so malicious! Have you neverheard that I was a novice in the Convent of the Vergen de la Soledad atCartagena when de Roux saw me, and fell in love with me, and begged meto run away with him?...”

A strange sound came from the man’s throat. She pursued, cynicallysmiling in his horror-stricken eyes, playing her little hand as thoughshe held a fan:

“Listen!... My father was killed when I was an infant. My mother diedwhen I was five years old. The Sisters of the Soledad brought me upwith the idea that I might perhaps become a religious.... I dreamedof the vocation, and prayed much....” Her pearl-white teeth gleamedbetween the mocking curves of scarlet. “Then—my dreams changed,”she said, “and my prayers became shorter. Except the Chaplain whoconfessed the nuns and the pupils, and the Bishop who visited us forConfirmations, no man ever set foot inside the Convent walls. Yetwe elder girls constantly talked and thought of lovers, from littleDolores, who was twelve and had a hump, to great Carlota, who wasseventeen, and ah! so beautiful.... And you may imagine whether orno Henriette had her visions too!... Yet I was quite content to bea nun.... I had had the White Veil of Reception from the Bishop onmy sixteenth birthday ... my behavior[Pg 403] gave great edification tothe Sisters, and his Lordship, and the clergy ... everybody said,‘That young girl will one day become a Saint!’ And one night,a week later, I got over the garden-wall because a band was playingon the Calle Major—I walked down the middle of the great, crowdedstreet, in my little old cast-off black alpaca Convent frock and blueribbon.... I had left the habit and the White Veil folded on the pillowof my bed.... A French officer accosted me and asked my name. It wasEugéne—I thought him splendid!—perhaps he was—compared with theBishop, and the Chaplain, and the gardener.... And—I never went backto the Convent of the Soledad. De Roux married me. Another man mighthave been less honorable.... Perhaps it would have been wiser to havewaited, you may think?” She laughed jeeringly. “Some odd chance mighthave brought you to Cartagena. Some lucky wind might have blown youover the Convent garden-wall!”

The tale was a trumped-up one at least as regards the novice’s habitand the White Veil—yet her gift of deception lent it such reality thatshame and horror struggled in the heart of the man who heard. To killher—and himself—was an almost ungovernable impulse, but he drove thenails of his clenched hands deep into their palms, and moved stifflyto the door, and Henriette shrank away.... If he had seized her by thethroat,—struck her and cursed her,—marred her beauty with mercilessbruises,—stabbed her, even,—he would have won her back again, thoughonly for a time.... But in conquering the mad desire to wreak suchbrutal vengeance on the woman, he lost her irretrievably.... And sowent from her out into the clear morning sunshine, and fled blindly,hunted by all the devils she had roused, into the dew-wet forest, andflung himself face downwards amidst the tall golden bracken at theknees of a graybeard oak that spread its giant boughs and browningfoliage as though to afford sanctuary to such hunted, desperatecreatures,—and wept, with groans and chokings—what bitter, scalding,shameful tears....

[Pg 404]


But he dried them, and controlled himself, and returned to “The Heron”inn, and from thence traveled with his fair companion back to Paris.Some sort of a truce was patched up before the ending of the firstday’s journey—a week, and Monsieur the Colonel and Madame were uponalmost their old terms of familiar, easy intimacy. Returned to Paris,the tenor of the old life was resumed as though the rupture had neverhappened. But the exquisite glamour of their passion had vanished;the rose-colored mist no longer veiled the crude realities of life.A heavy shadow brooded between the pair, and, gradually assumingsubstance, thrust them, with every day that dawned, a little fartherapart. There would be days when their cooling passion would blazeup again as fiercely as a bonfire of straw.... There would be weekswhen their intercourse would be limited to the baldest commonplacesthat may be exchanged between a politely-indifferent husband and acivilly-contemptuous wife. The easy-going camaraderie thathad existed between Henriette and de Roux would never reign betweenHenriette and her lover. For to attain that level of completemutual understanding, all rights must be abrogated—the last claimresigned—the last shred of self-respect cast upon the winds. Dunoisseknew that very well.

How much of self-respect remained to him as it was, he did not ventureto question. Nor did he own to himself that his life was lived in fear.But sometimes the burnt-in memory of that November night of his returnfrom London would ache and throb, and at other times he would hear thevoice of his mistress saying:

“You will have yourself to thank for whatever happens now!”

Do you wonder that a man bedeviled and obsessed after this fashionshould grow moody and suspicious? That he should hear the snaky rattleof warning from under every clump of flowers or tuft of grass? That heshould see in every man upon whom his lovely friend bestowed her smilesa possible rival? And does it surprise you that, after a successionof violent scenes of jealousy, Henriette should have seized an earlyopportunity of confiding her[Pg 405] disillusions and anxieties to thesympathetic ear at the Élysée?

When it came to stretching a point to oblige a pretty woman, who wasuseful to him, that woman could depend upon the goodness of Monseigneur.

“Jealousy, dear friend,” said he, with his most oracular manner, “is avice as incurable as crib-biting in a horse, once contracted. It wasOthello who ought to have been smothered!... Desdemona would certainlyhave consoled herself with the attentions of M. Cassio....”

“Ah! but suppose Cassio in his turn had been bitten by the green-eyedmonster,” suggested Henriette, to whom Dunoisse had read the tragedy ofthe lady and the Moor.

“To smother Cassio,” said Monseigneur, with his somewhat ponderoushumor, “would have been what literary critics term an ‘anticlimax.’ Ishould suggest service with the Foreign Legion for the gentleman inquestion,—if you are quite certain that as soon as he has gone youwill not wish him back again?”

As Henriette crumpled her beautiful eyebrows in doubt, bit her redlips, and hesitated, he added:

“Besides—would it be wise to banish from your side a young, attractiveman who has brilliant expectations?... This question of the WidinitzSuccession—are we to hear no more of that?”

She faltered:

“I fear not, Monseigneur!... You cannot imagine the strength of hisprejudices.... He is quite convinced that to put himself at the head ofthe Catholic electors of the Principality would be an insult to Heaven,because his mother happened to be a professed nun. Ah! how I weary ofhis eternal arguments.”

“Indeed!” said Monseigneur, with a curious inflection. His dull eyeshad a faded twinkle in them as they rested on the lovely speaker’sface. She crimsoned to the wreath of roses nestling in their leaveswithin her bonnet,—pulled down the flowered lace veil with apetulant jerk of the little hand. Monseigneur hastened to soothe thesensibilities he had ruffled.

“Take my advice,” he said, “who have so often taken yours, and found itexcellent. Do not hurry on a crisis. Wait!—and let me think out someeffective, easy method of relieving the tension of affairs.”

[Pg 406]

His tone was mellifluous as that of a dentist who thinks that thetoothache may be eased without extraction—the doubtful molar saved.She thanked him in silvery tones, made her deep reverence, and glidedfrom the apartment where Monseigneur had received her; the privatecabinet upon the ground-floor of the Élysée, where the Prince-Presidentsaw his intimate associates, interviewed his official spies and agents,and carried out experiments in musketry with the inventor, Major Minié.

You are to understand that he had lunched early that winter day, andwas taking his cigar and coffee and Benedictine at a little table bythe fireside. He smoked and sipped, with his dainty little feet upona velvet footstool, and his big head lolling back against the paddedvelvet back of his easy-chair.

The question of how to dispose of Henriette’s inconvenient loveroccupied this hour of leisure. The young man had had a good deal ofmoney, a considerable amount of which had found its way to his ownbottomless pockets. He was the only son of a wealthy father, and mightbe well worth plucking again by-and-by. Even the abandoned claim of theWidinitz Succession might prove a profitable investment—a veritablegold-mine, to one who possessed the art of making stubborn naturesmalleable. A German Serene Highness who should be devoted to one’sinterests would be a useful tool, it occurred to Monseigneur....

He had, to do him justice, an exquisite discrimination in the selectionof human instruments suitable for his hand; a knack of getting thebest from them by stimulating their jealousies; he displayed anextraordinary cleverness in getting rid of them when blunted.... Henever kept them long enough to be worn out.

It was his pride that at first sight he invariably detected in a manthe qualities that would best serve him. In this handsome ex-Adjutantof the 999th, for whom Madame de Roux had had such a violent fancy—whohad paid through the nose to obtain the transference of her husbandto a post in Northern Africa, and who had forked out again forhis own appointment as aide-de-camp upon the Staff of thePresidency—Monseigneur had never seen anything out of the way.

True, the man’s career at the Training Institute for Staff Officershad been brilliant. But a reputation for brilliancy[Pg 407] is easily gained.As a Chasseur d’Afrique he had served with distinction in the wars ofAlgeria—when transferred to the Line he had excellently discharged hisregimental duties. Of hundreds of other men the same might be said....

The subject of his reflections was on duty that morning.... Monseigneurstretched out the neat, small hand that held his cigar, and toucheda little golden chiming-bell. Dunoisse appeared in obedience to thesummons, crossed the deep-piled carpet with long, light, noiselessfootsteps, and placed, with a respectful hand, clad in the regulationwhite kid glove, a pile of letters on the little coffee-table, besidethe elbow of Monseigneur.

Monseigneur, generally skeptical as regarded things unseen, firmlybelieved in his guiding genius. That invisible personage, he wassubsequently convinced, dictated the question he suddenly put toDunoisse; an interrogation that broached his own long-cherishedpurpose, and gave a clue to the deep and dark and secret workings ofhis strange, cold, snaky mind.

“Monsieur—supposing that France had determined to espouse theinterests of the Sultan of Turkey, to the point of becoming his allyin war—waged with Russia in alliance with a certain insular maritimePower, upon the debatable ground of Eastern Europe—how should sheproceed so as to insure to her Army the maximum of advantage with theminimum of loss?... Do not answer hastily I beg of you.... Reflectbefore you reply.”

Dunoisse thought for a minute, and gave the answer, clearly andpromptly, and very much to the point. It shortened Monseigneur’sbreathing inconveniently, and brought a shiny gray dampness out uponthe dough-colored surface of him, as though a snail had crawled thereand left its track of slime. But it was not his habit to betrayemotion. Those years spent in captivity had taught him self-control.

His small, flat eyes, usually so devoid of luster, assumed the shallowglitter of aluminium. He said, composedly, urbanely, stroking his heavybrown mustache:

“The most plausible theories sometimes evaporate when one tries to setthem down on paper. You would oblige me very much, my dear Colonel, byputting yours in black upon white....”

[Pg 408]

Dunoisse bowed, and said he thought it would be possible to obligeMonseigneur. His theory, set forth in half-a-dozen pages of small, neatmanuscript, illustrated by plans, and maps with dotted lines traced indivers-colored inks upon them, was laid before Monseigneur on the verynext day.... Monseigneur studied these papers with close attention;rolled them up, retied, and locked them away in a secret hiding-place.And said, regarding his own features in a Venetian mirror that hungabove the secrétaire, a precious article in pearl and ebony,that had held the toys and bibelots of Marie Antoinette, and thelove-letters of Josephine:

“My friend, you have been saved by your lucky star from committing anirreparable error. This young man is a genius of the first water. Evento gratify the wish of a still singularly-charming woman, you would bemad, my friend, to part with Colonel Dunoisse!”

Thenceforwards, Dunoisse’s active duties as assistantaide-de-camp gave place to the more sedentary occupations ofMilitary Private Secretary, with a step in rank, a salary raised inaccordance with his elevation in the estimation of his employer. Itbeing presently discovered that he was master of Arabic, Turkish,Albanian Greek, German, Russian, and English, and possessed besides ofa fair command of the Slavonic dialects of Roumania and Bulgaria, theoffice of Private Military Interpreter was created, and conferred onhim by Monseigneur.

There was a little study, looking on a corner of the leafy gardens ofthe Palace, which communicated by a hidden door with Monseigneur’sprivate cabinet. Dunoisse was installed in this snug den, into whichnone of the associates of Monseigneur ever thought of penetrating. Andwith his notes, and maps, and works of reference about him, was given afree hand, and bidden to carry out his plan.

And now at last the studies prosecuted in spare hours at the TrainingInstitute for Staff Officers; those years of dogged, diligentacquirement of knowledge, began to bear fruit.... At last the manhad found the severe, arduous employment that gave full play to hisbrilliant faculties. His face grew strange to his associates andfriends, as his task absorbed him more....

Masses of papers, methodically filed and docketed, accumulated[Pg 409] aboutDunoisse. A vast correspondence in many European and several Orientallanguages was carried on by him. He became the center of a vast webof intelligence, the active brain of a formidable working system thatcentralized in the little room adjoining the private cabinet with thebullet-chipped cornices; crossed the Alps and leaped the Carpathians;threw a spider-line from Odessa to Bucharest—linked Sevastopol withBatum—and traveled back again viâ the great roaring world-fairof Constantinople to the cabinet at the Élysée.

Men of many nationalities, tongues, and colors, and convictions,came and went, by day and night; gave their information, receivedinstructions, verbal or otherwise, took their money, and departed.But they never came or went in couples, nor was the business of oneknown to the next. A Roumanian, one Michaëlis Giusko—formerly anassistant-lecturer and teacher of the Slavish languages at the TrainingInstitute for Staff Officers, and a Barbary Jew, Israel Ben Hamon, withwhom Dunoisse had studied Arabic in North Africa, became presently hisassistants, bound to secrecy under oath.

Giusko had been found starving in a Montmartre garret; the Barbary JewDunoisse had accidentally encountered upon one of his periodical visitsto Paris, to treat with the paper-merchants for the sale of rags fromTunis and the Levant. Both men were bound to their junior by ties ofgratitude; the Israelite because his wife Miriam, now dead, had beensaved by Dunoisse, when a young officer of Chasseurs d’Afrique, fromrobbery and outrage at the hands of some drunken Zouaves at Blidah; theSlav because all hope had left him, and he had been upon the point ofsuicide, when his old pupil had appeared before his gaunt and desperateeyes. But though both were trustworthy, neither of these men was to betrusted completely, according to the secret instructions of Monseigneur.

Nor had Dunoisse, who day and night sat spinning at the colossalweb of Monseigneur’s private purpose, and hatching out the egg ofthat potentate’s secret plan, any definite knowledge of the breed ofbasilisk that would presently chip the shell.

[Pg 410]


Balls, dinners, concerts, receptions, and hunting-parties at theTuileries and at Versailles, St. Cloud, and Compiègne, succeeded indazzling rotation. Round the little study where Dunoisse wrought andplanned and labored, driven on by a very demon of work, the active,busy, vari-colored life of the palace hummed and buzzed and swirled.Strains of music, gay or voluptuous, and sounds of fast and furiousrevelry came, midnight after midnight, to the ears of the solitarytoiler—sometimes sounds more sinister than these.

The screams of a woman.... “Help! Mercy, for the love of Heaven!...”dying away into incoherent prayers and moans. The noise of ascuffle—the scraping of feet—the hoarse panting and muffledejaculations of men engaged in desperate struggle—the thud of blowsfalling on something soft. Desperate outcries of “Murder! Treachery!...Monseigneur promised!... Monseigneur swore that I should be set free!”The revolver shots in the leafy palace garden, followed by a heavysilence not even broken by a groan. The man who heard never interruptedhis labors for a moment. If the Prince-President chose to make theÉlysée a place of execution, why,—stranger things had been done atthe time of the coup d’État. And the vices of potentates areprivileged.... That woman’s voice crying for help was not the voice ofHenriette.

She was as beautiful as ever. At the most splendid State functions,in the vicinity of her most brilliant rivals, her charms shone withundiminished fire. Men paid her court as ardently as ever, and heraccredited lover was still a man keenly-envied. But in despite of this,and although his pressing duties at the Élysée debarred him from hisplace at her side in Society, Dunoisse had ceased to be jealous. Sopowerful an anodyne is absorbing mental labor, the shrill rattle ofwarning that used to sound from under every tuft of flowers or clumpof grasses brushed by her draperies in passing, had fallen silent. Herparamour no longer dreaded a possible successor in every young andhandsome man on whom she shed her smiles.

The green-eyed demon even left off taunting Dunoisse[Pg 411] with de Moulny,still Representative of the Right for Moulny upon Upper Drame, andSecretary-Chancellor at the Ministry of the Interior; where the Countde Morny had been succeeded by M. de Persigny—less affected than hispredecessor with scruples, you will remember, regarding the contents ofa certain stately row of steel deed boxes that were crammed to burstingwith palaces, cities, forests, villages, and farmsteads, and emblazonedwith the arms of the House of Bourbon.

Rivers of plundered gold, derived from the sale of these great familyestates, flowed away between Dunoisse’s fingers. None of it stuck tothem, much to the surprise of Monseigneur. For Dunoisse wanted money;and the chief reason at length become known to his patron, who had apeculiar knack of getting at the secrets of men.

To repay the three hundred thousand thalers that had been the dowryof Sister Térèse de Saint François had been, ever since the hour oftheir meeting, the abiding steadfast purpose of her son.... He sawher sometimes in dreams, when he went home in the gray dawn from thepalace, and threw himself down, half dressed, upon his bed to snatcha little fevered sleep. And he would seem to hear the tear-soaked,toneless voice saying that the only road to Peace was the thornyWay of Expiation.... He would feel again the light, thin touch uponhis forehead, and would wake, crying “Mother!” as the black curtainblotted her from his sight. And at other times, when the man was boundto the revolving wheel of his endless labors, the diligent pen wouldbe arrested as her dim wistful eyes came hovering between his visionand the page. Then he would drive her away, and fall to his work withdesperate assiduity. For never, Dunoisse knew, would he be happy untilhe had earned and repaid every centime of that accursed dowry. Thatdebt discharged, there would be a turn of the tide. De Roux would die;his widow would become the wife of her lover; there would be happiness,children, a home.... For these he spent himself, allured by the glitterof Monseigneur’s golden promises as other victims had been—would beuntil the end.

And in the fever of toil that consumed him, the man aged and wastedvisibly. His black eyes lost their fire, his vivid coloring faded,his hair, no longer thick and[Pg 412] glossy, showed broad streaks of gray.Lines graved themselves between his eyebrows, crow’s feet appearedupon his temples. The wings of the nostrils were pulled downwards bythe unrelaxing, constant tension of the muscles of the mouth, as monthafter month Dunoisse sat diligently incubating the egg of Monseigneur.

It hastened matters sensibly, that physical decadence—that wreck ofthe man’s good looks upon the rocks of merciless mental toil. Societywas charitable—Monseigneur was all kindness—but the betrayed husbandand the supplanted lover are fair game, always: has it not been sosince the beginning of the world?

Whispers began to circulate.... In the smoking-rooms of the greatClubs, in the social circle at the palace of the Presidency,Dunoisse’s rare appearances were provocative of the smart doubleentente, and the cynical witticism; flagged darts that, thrownwithout discretion, presently found their way to the raw quick underthe thickened skin. The very day that showed the stupendous taskall but accomplished, brought home to Dunoisse—by the medium of anunsigned letter in a delicate feminine hand—the knowledge that, in theestimation of his world, at least—he was held to have been supplantedby de Moulny. The closing sentence of the anonymous writer reproduced,almost in the very words, the unforgettable utterance of Henriette atthe inn of “The Heron”:

You only have yourself to thank for what has happened now!

It seemed the very voice of his Fate speaking, and Dunoisse grew paleas ashes, and laid the letter down. He had been much weakened by hisunremitting labors, and the drumming of the blood in his ears andthe violent beating of his heart made him deaf to the quiet openingand closing of the door. But a voice spoke to him, and he looked up,with the sharp-fanged fox of desperate jealousy gnawing under hisuniform, as it had possibly gnawed under that of de Roux, and becameaware that Monseigneur had entered, and was looking at him with asomewhat sinister smile. He said—as Dunoisse stumbled to his feet andsaluted—looking narrowly at the haggard handsome face, and smoothinghis thick brown mustache with the little hand that was so like a prettywoman’s:

“So! We draw near the end! We have at last the[Pg 413] goal in view, accordingto the report I received from you this morning.” He added, as Dunoissebowed in assent: “Accept my sincere congratulations upon the excellentservice you have rendered, General-of-Brigade von Widinitz Dunoisse.”

His glance, as keen as dull and lusterless, had recognized the writingof the letter lying on the blotting-pad. He had calculated, andrightly, that to grant the coveted step at the moment of revelationwould inconceivably intensify the torment of its sting. He did notdelay to receive the halting thanks of the victim. He went on in hiscool, mellifluous tones, showing a docketed paper in his hand:

“You mention at the close of your summary of the work that has beenaccomplished, that without diligent and painstaking revision of themaps of Eastern Europe at present in use at our Military School,and employed at our War Department, the coping-stone of perfectionmust be lacking still.” He added, “This, I will own, surprises me,our Government Survey Department being considered—I believe withjustice!—as pre-eminent in skill and accuracy. How, then, do yousuggest that the maps should be improved?”

“Monseigneur, the network of intelligence being complete,” answeredDunoisse, “a minute sanitary survey of the ground most likelyto become the scene of militant operations should necessarilyfollow. Fever-breeding districts must be plainly labeled‘Pestilential,’—doubtfully-salubrious regions must be indicatedfor what they are.... No detail should be neglected. Specialqualifications—precise scientific knowledge will be necessarilyrequired of the Staff officer who is deputed to carry out thismission.” He added, “For upon the health of the Army depends itsfighting-power. One cannot win battles with sick men!”

“An excellent apophthegm,” Monseigneur pronounced, with that peculiarlyamiable smile of his. He tapped his teeth thoughtfully with the paperin his hand. “As regards the Staff officer who is to be despatchedon this—would you call it a perilous mission?”—He went on,Dunoisse having admitted it to be a decidedly perilous mission—“Iknow of but one individual possessing the necessary, indispensablequalifications, and he is yourself!” He added, turning the poisonedponiard in the wound:[Pg 414] “Fair eyes will weep at your departure, my dearDunoisse—lovely lips will call me cruel. But undoubtedly—you must bethe man to go!”


So Dunoisse, with a step in rank in lieu of the promised heap of gold,and the suspicion rankling in him that his banishment had long beencontemplated, went back to the Rue de Sèvres and found Henriette and deMoulny there together.

It was early upon a chill October evening. They were talking low andearnestly before the fire that glowed in its polished steel basket. Therose-shaded lamp threw a tender light upon the pair. And the portraitof the nun-Princess of Orleans, treading with dimpled, naked feetupon scattered crowns and scepters, looked down upon them with hertriumphant harlot’s smile.

There was a silence, poignant and tense. They had risen upon Dunoisse’sentrance—both faces wore a set, artificial smile of greeting. Helooked from one to the other and waited, the venomed sentences of theanonymous letter rankling in his sickened mind. He noted, dully, thatHenriette wore a loose, flowing robe of creamy white, the skirt edged,the low neck and loose sleeves bordered, with a Greek key-pattern indull gold; and that de Moulny’s tall, official figure—arrayed inthe unrelieved magpie-garb of black-and-white that Fashion had butrecently decreed as the only evening wear for the ultra-fashionablecivilian—bulked gigantic in the small boudoir that was no longer gray,but pranked it gayly, as one of Monseigneur’s own pages, in a coat ofgreen-and-gold. His own face was sharp and hard as though sculptured inEgyptian granite, and his black eyes were glittering and chill. And itseemed as though the silence would last unbroken forever.... The Sèvresclock upon the mantelshelf ticked, the wood-ashes fell from the gratewith a little rustling sound.... Dunoisse could hear de Moulny’s deep,even respiration and Henriette’s agitated, hurried breathing. It seemedto him that his heart did not beat—that he himself did not breatheat all. And then the spell was broken by a woman’s soft utterance.Henriette said:

[Pg 415]

“Dear friend, your arrival is opportune. M. de Moulny has calledupon me to entreat that I would use such influence as I am—perhapsmistakenly—credited with possessing—to effect a reconciliationbetween you both.... The misunderstanding that has divided you so longshall be cleared up, shall it not—as he wishes?” She added, lookingfrom one man to the other with softly-beaming eyes: “I too wish this,so very greatly.... Will you not be friends, to please me?”

De Moulny’s deep voice said:

“Have we ever been enemies?”

And he held out to Dunoisse his large, thick, white hand withthe fleshy, round-tipped fingers; and, as a man in a dream willunquestionably accept some inconceivable, impossible situation,Dunoisse took the hand in his. It loosely grasped and was withdrawn.Then, there had followed some moments of conventional, ordinary, socialcommonplace. They had discussed the Message to the Senate, and theprotest of the Count de Chambord against the contemplated restorationof the Empire; the probable results of the plebiscite, and thesuperior becomingness of the Marie Stuart style of coiffure to aroll à la Chinoise. And then de Moulny had taken his leave, and,freed from the hateful oppression of his presence, Dunoisse could thinkclearly again.

Ah! could it be—without any bridging of the wide gulf of silence andneglect by any explanation—without any clearing up of that triflingmatter of the command to fire, that had followed the pistol-shot atthe Foreign Ministry nearly four years previously—could it be thatRedskin and Alain were reconciled? With the anonymous letter festeringin his memory—with the knowledge of impending banishment gnawing athis heart—Dunoisse answered No, no, no! to the question.... And then,a sudden, unexpected surge of joy lifted the poor dupe off the shoalsof Disillusion, and swept him—how willingly!—back into the deceptivedeeps beyond.

He broke to Henriette the news of the Eastern mission. She paled ...cried out ... threw herself half-swooning—bathed in tears, upon hisbreast. Cruel, cruel Monseigneur!... Her beautiful bosom heaved as sheinveighed against the implacable tyrant at the Élysée. She vowed shewould not submit to such a heartless abuse of[Pg 416] authority.... She wouldgo to the Prince, she declared—throw herself before him—plead uponher knees for a reversal of the pitiless appointment. And Dunoissedissuaded her with difficulty from adopting such a course; inwardlyblessing the power she reviled, for the discovery that, after all, hewas loved....

And indeed, during the few, the very few, days that intervened betweenthe reconciliation with de Moulny and Dunoisse’s departure, Henriette’spassion, that shriveled rose of Jericho, soaked in warm tears fromlovely eyes, regained its pristine color, bloom, and fragrance. Theancient glamour was upon all earth and heaven, and the cup once moreoffered by those exquisite hands to the thirsting lips of her loverbrimmed with the intoxicating wine of old.


Their parting.... Ah! what pen could do justice to their parting, when,upon a certain fateful morning, some eight days subsequently to thedecision of Monseigneur, Dunoisse tore himself away from Henriette andhis revived and radiant happiness, and left Paris, en route forEastern Roumelia, and the debatable ground one day to be contested bythe forces of the Sultan and the Czar.

Not without pith of meaning is the old saw that warns the travelernever, once having started, to retrace his steps. But the overworkedpointsman’s blunder that sent the engine of the South-Eastern expresscrashing into the rear-wagon of a goods-train outside the station ofJoigny—a disaster without resultant loss of life to any portion of thehuman freight—must be held responsible for Dunoisse’s return.

His route had officially been pricked out viâ Marseilles andConstantinople. Owing to the lapse of hours that would intervenebefore the next Southward-going mail could be boarded, the bi-monthlysteamer plying between the ports above named must certainly sailwithout Dunoisse. Somewhat bruised and shaken by the shock of theaccident, and furthermore possessed with an intense nostalgia forParis and Henriette, her lover yielded to the[Pg 417] tempting, urgent voice;left his baggage—soldierly in its economy of bulk—in charge of theofficials at Joigny—and burdened with nothing more cumbrous than atraveling-bag—took the next train for home.

The city clocks were striking twelve when he left the terminus ofthe Rue Mazas and rattled in a hired coupé over the Bridge ofAusterlitz. It was a windless night of numbing cold, and the longdouble line of the quays, and the sluggish river winding betweenthem, and the arcs of the bridges spanning the wide, turbid flood,were only indicated by their lamps, twinkling brightly as a jeweler’semeralds and topazes out of wrappings of fleecy cotton-wool. Nobivouac-fires reddened the foggy sky; no troops occupied the publicplaces or patroled the streets; no blood-bedabbled corpses were beingcarted to the cemetery; yet Dunoisse was irresistibly reminded of thenight of his return from London, on the morning that had followed themaster-stroke of Monseigneur. Perhaps that association threw the firstsplash of cold water on his enterprise.... But he told himself for thehundredth time that he was going back to Henriette, who loved him; andthat her joy at the unexpected sight of him would clear away all shadowof doubt and misunderstanding from between them for evermore.

It seemed a long drive. You are never in such a red-hot hurry as whenyou are speeding to the wreck and ruin of an illusion upon the jaggedrocks of a test. But at last it was over. He dismissed his cab atthe street-corner, in the interests of the joyful surprise he had inview—and reached the familiar gates on foot. No need to use the littlepass-key, carried in Dunoisse’s waistcoat-pocket, and admitting by thesmaller portal, framed in the corner of the larger one, for—thanksto some neglect of the portress—the little door stood ajar; it swunginwards at the first touch.... And thus Dunoisse stepped noiselesslyinto the dark, foggy courtyard, passed under the tall, stately,familiar portico—conjectured rather than seen in the draping veil offog—and drew out the latch-key of the de Roux’s hall-door. But thatdoor was also open—upon this night of wonders every obstacle seemedto dissolve like foam or mist-wreath under the touch of the man whowas hurrying to prove his mistress faithful. For, stripped of[Pg 418] allornament or pretense, you have in these five plain words the reason ofDunoisse’s return.

The servants had gone to bed, or had been given leave to spend thenight elsewhere. A small lamp burned feebly in the deserted vestibule,like Faith trying to keep itself alive in a soul that has learned todoubt. The drawing-rooms were in darkness, their wood fires mere coresof red under gray crusts of ashes. Beyond, the green-and-gold boudoir,with a brilliant fire and many lights, gleamed like some transcendentemerald at the end of a tunnel of ebony blackness. She was not there.But the door of the bedroom that was fragrant and pink as the heart ofa blush-rose—that stood a little ajar....

Moving with long, swift, eager strides over the velvety carpets,Dunoisse reached the open door of the bedroom. With a heart thatthrobbed as madly as on the first night that had seen him cross itsthreshold, he looked in, and saw Henriette.

In sharpest contrast with the brilliancy of the green-and-gold boudoir,the rose-colored bedroom, save for the blazing wood-billets thatdispensed a dancing light and a delicious warmth, was all in shadow.At an angle, facing towards the fire, stood a low, broad ebony couchwithout a back or foot-piece, covered in rose-color matching theshade of the draperies of the windows, the walls, and the tent thatin the graceful fashion of the era, sheltered the bed. And Henriettelay—in beauty revealed rather than covered by a thin diaphanous robeof lawn and lace—outstretched upon the couch beside the fire, hershoulders raised upon its rose-colored cushions, her lovely head thrownback and drooping as in the chaste abandonment of sleep, toward theshoulder whose curving whiteness shone pearly between the tresses ofnight-black hair that streamed across it and downwards; partly veilingthe white arm, and the delicate hand that rested, palm upwards, on theleopard-skin that was spread before the hearth.

Surely, surely, she was very pale.... But never had she seemed morealluringly, irresistibly fair in the eyes that drank her in, and couldnot slake their thirst in gazing. And surely she was very still....The colorless lips, parted in a faint, mysterious smile, gave forthno sighing breath; the pulses at the base of the rounded throat[Pg 419] didnot throb perceptibly—the full, goddess-like bosom that gleamedthrough the mist-thin fabric of her robe did not rise or fall with thedeep even respiration of natural, wholesome slumber. But not untilDunoisse had crossed to her side—bent down and set his burning kissupon those smiling lips, did he realize that they were icy cold; thatthe teeth were rigidly clenched behind them, and that the half-openeyes were fixed in a glassy stare. And in the poignant horror ofthe discovery he cried her name aloud, and snatched the inert forminto his embrace—lavishing frantic caresses and adoring words uponher—imploring her to revive ... to look at him ... to answer ... ifonly by a sigh.

In vain his prayers. The silent heart against which his cheek waspressed gave back no throb; not the slightest answering pressuremight be won from the nerveless arms he laced about his neck—notthe faintest nerve-thrill told of life in the beautiful body, whosemost secret chords were so well used to respond to the urgent call ofPassion. She was cold, white and silent as the dead.

Could this be Death indeed?... Dunoisse drove the haunting querydesperately from him. He remembered with relief a flask of cognac thathe carried in an inner pocket of his traveling-cloak; and tried, outof the silver thimble-cup that was screwed as a cap over the stopper,to pour a little of the spirit between the small, set teeth. When herhead rolled helplessly on his supporting arm—when the liquid, findingno entrance, flowed away at the corners of the pale, stiff lips, addinga coarse spirituous tang to the delicately-fragrant atmosphere of thebedroom, the dreadful doubt assailed Dunoisse more fiercely. Baffled,sick with despair, he laid her back upon the couch, freed himselftenderly from the long strands of night-black hair that clung to hisrough traveling clothes and tangled in his buttons—struck a match andlighted, with what a shaking hand!—the rose-tinted wax candles upheldby porcelain Cupids on the mantelshelf. Holding one of the candlestickson high, he sent a questioning glance about in search of smelling-saltsor some more powerful restorative. And not until then did the tell-taledisorder of the place yield up its ugly secret. He knew all.

The disorder of the luxurious bed ... the little table of two coversthat stood near its foot, bearing a plate of[Pg 420] caviare sandwiches partlyconsumed, a cut pâté and two champagne-bottles, one prone andempty, the other partly full, gave testimony there was no disproving.Even without the clinching evidence furnished by the heavy, fur-linedovercoat that sprawled over the back of a chair—the masculine stockthat curled about an ivory hand, loaded with rings of price—the blacksatin cravat that lay upon the lace-draped toilette table, its twindiamond pins, linked by a chain of gold, winking and gleaming likemocking goblin-eyes. And was not that a man’s white glove, lying whereit had been dropped upon the rose-colored carpet?... MechanicallyDunoisse crossed the room and picked it up. And it was no glove, buta crumpled note, penned in violet ink, in Henriette’s clear, delicatecharacteristic hand, on her white, satin-striped paper. And it toldall, crudely and without reserve, to the poor dupe whom it flouted andmocked.

Unruly Monster,—

“Yes! ’tis true! Don Quixote has departed. Naturally I aminconsolable!—but since you profess yourself convinced of thecontrary, you may come at the usual hour. The servants will bedisposed of—the doors will be open.... When we meet, perhaps I maybe——

Thy Henriette.”


He turned upon her with her letter in his hand; with fierce upbraidingsstruggling for utterance at his twisted lips; with a heart full ofbitter hatred ready to outpour upon her. She quelled his madness—shestruck him speechless—he tried to curse her, but could find no voice.

For a nameless, awe-inspiring change, had crept over her. Theshell-white features were now pinched and drawn. Beneath the broadwhite brow the partly-open, coldly-glittering eyes were sunk in cavesof bluish tinting. Hollows had appeared beneath the cheekbones; whileabout the mouth, whose drawn, livid, parted lips revealed the littleclenched pearly teeth, that disquieting shadow, cruelly suggestive ofdissolution and corruption, showed[Pg 421] in a broad band; and beneath theswelling curves of her bosom a deep, abdominal depression now sharplymarked the edges of the lower ribs. And thus Dunoisse, familiar withDeath as a soldier may be who has met the grim King of Terrors on thebattle-field, and in the camp, and on the pallets of field-hospitals,told himself that beyond all doubt Death was here.

And so it was that he could not curse her for a harlot. She was dead,and Death is pure.... She was dead, and Death is meek and helpless; atthe mercy of the smallest, most despicable, weakest thing that walks orcrawls or flies.

Looking upon Henriette, you would never have guessed that here lay awanton, stricken down at the height of a delirious orgy of forbiddenpleasure. Rather you thought of a snow-white seagull, lying stiffand frozen on a stretch of sunset-dyed seashore, or a frail whitebutterfly, dead in the heart of a pink, overblown rose.

So the madness burned itself out in the brain of Dunoisse as he stoodlooking at her. The blood in his veins ran less like liquid fire, thecold sweat dried upon his skin, the roaring in his ears lessened—hecould now control the twitching of his muscles that had ached withthe desire to kill with naked hands a man abhorred—to batter out allsemblance of its luring beauty from the white, white face against therose-hued background. If the prone figure had given sign of life!—butits pallor as of snow—its rigidity and breathlessness remainedunaltered. And presently, looking upon her, lying there; laughter andtears, love and anger, forever quenched in her; disarmed of her panoplyof conquering gifts and graces by pitiless Death, a bitter spasmtook him by the throat and a mist of tears came before his eyes. Hetrembled, and for lack of power to stand, sat down upon the foot of thesofa, near where the stiff little feet he had so often kissed peepedout beyond the border of her robe of lawn and laces. His haggard eyeswere fixed upon the cold and speechless mouth. And in its rigid silenceit was eloquent.

“Dear friend,” the dumb voice seemed to say ... “sweet friend, whosepleadings won me to deceive—and whom I have in turn deceived—theheroic virtue of[Pg 422] Fidelity having no part in the pliable, silken web ofmy nature—listen to me, and be, not pardoning—but pitiful!...”

“God knows,” said Dunoisse sorrowfully, “how I pity you, Henriette!”

“Born with the fatal gift of maddening beauty—endowed with the deadlyheritage of irresistible fascination,” went on the silent voice, “askyourself how it was possible for your Henriette to pass through lifeuntainted by the desires—unbranded by the scorching lusts of men? Befair to me, dear friend. Question—and give answer.”

Dunoisse asked himself the question. There was but one reply.

“Look around,” said the voice, “and you will see my prototype inliberal Nature. The bird that builds too low; the rose that does nothang her clusters high enough; the fruit whose very ripeness calls thewasps to settle and feast. Yet who says to the bird, ‘Build higher!Another year you will not lose your eggs so!’ Does anyone bid the rosechange her nature and lift her perfumed blossoms far out of reach ofplundering hands? What if one cried to the peach, ‘Do not ripen, staycrude and sour because thus you will not tempt the yellow-and-blackmarauder.’ Would not the pious tell us that to expect Heaven-taughtNature to alter her ways at our bidding were to be guilty of mortalsin? Then, what of us Henriettes—born to yield and submit, give andgrant and lavish? Are we much more to blame, do you think, than thebird, than the rose, than the peach?”

“Oh, my poor, frail, false love!” said Dunoisse, “how wise Death hasmade you!” For his bitter anger and resentment were vanishing as thesilent voice talked on:

“We drink in the sunshine of admiring glances at every pore,” said thevoice. “We thrive on smiles and compliments. All young and handsomemen—even those who are neither young nor handsome—are our comrades orservants—until the moment arrives when the comrade becomes tyrant, andthe servant commands! Then, what tears we shed!—for our dearest dreamis always of pure passion—unrewarded fidelity. We are continuallyplanting the gardens of our hearts with these fragrant, homely flowers,and Man is always tearing them up, and setting in their stead thevine of nightshade, deadly briony, sad[Pg 423] rosemary, bitter wormwood andsorrowful rue. And as long as the world shall last, the cruel play goeson....”

The half-open, glassy eyes were dry, but the silent voice had sobs init. And it said:

“We give all we have for love, and the love is never real, onlypinchbeck of flattery and kisses; or the cruel love of an urchin for akitten—of a baby for a tame bird.... You who sit by me to-night, dearfriend, have never loved me!... Have you ever sought to find my Soulwithin the house of flesh that caged it? Have I not seen you smile inmockery when I knelt down to pray?”

“You are wrong—absolutely wrong, Henriette!” he wished to say to her.But a scalding wave of guilty consciousness broke over him. He droppedhis shamed face into his hands and groaned.

What had he ever sought of her but sensuous pleasure? She spoketruth—their intercourse had never risen for an instant above thecommerce of the flesh, to the plane of things spiritual—he had nevereven thought about her Soul. Now he seemed to see it, a wanderingflame no bigger than a firefly’s lamp, or the phosphorescent sparkthe glow-worm carries—wandering through the illimitable spaces ofEternity,—looking in vain for God. Whose very greatness made itimpossible for the tiny, flitting thing to find Him....

“Forgive me, Henriette!” he faltered, pierced to the quick.

“There is more to forgive,” the still voice rejoined, “even than youbelieve. When you found me lying cold and stark in the midst of toysand trifles—when you read the letter that proved me treacherous andvile—think! was it genuine grief that you felt, or the savage wrath ofbaffled appetite? And even now——”

“Have mercy! Spare me that at least!” he begged. For he knew that inanother instant she would bare his own mean, petty self before him—shewould tell him that even then a strife was going on in him betweena cowardly cur who wanted to steal away and leave her ... and a manof common honor and ordinary decency who said: “It is my part tostay!

For both of these men knew, fatally well, that when the[Pg 424] morrow’ssunshine should find her lying there—when the outcries of herterrified maids should summon eager, curious strangers to gatherabout and stare at their dead mistress; when the scandal of themanner of her death should leak out; the world and Society, that hadso good-naturedly blinked at her liaison with Dunoisse, would notspare him his well-earned wage of contumely. There could not fail tobe a Medical Inquiry ... the Police would be called in to clear upsuspicious mysteries.... Also, de Roux would be recalled from Algeria... there would be a duel ... consequences much more unpleasant thana duel.... For Monseigneur would not look with complacency upon thereturn of an emissary proceeding to the East upon a special mission....Worse still, that stealthy return from Joigny might be held to havebeen prompted by a sinister motive. Men had been imprisoned—menhad been hugged headless by that Red Widow the Guillotine upon lesssuspicion than Dunoisse had tagged to himself by the mere fact of hissecret return.

The porcelain clock upon the mantelshelf struck one and the half-hour,as Dunoisse sat thrashing the question out—to go or stay with her? Andpresently he raised his wrung and ravaged face, and got up and stoodbeside the sofa, looking down at Henriette....

“Poor soul!” he said. “You knew me better than I knew myself. I am apurblind idiot, Henriette, who, having profited by your unfaith—lookedto you to be faithful. Now I am paid in my own coin—it is my pridethat suffers—not my love. For as you say, and rightly!—I have neverloved you. Yet, love or none, because that other man has fled and leftyou, and because that viler self that lurks within counsels me tofollow—I stay beside you here.”


When the porcelain clock upon the mantelshelf had chimed the hour,a cautious footstep had crossed the flagged pavement of the foggycourtyard. Dunoisse had not heard it—he had been listening to thatspeechless voice. But now that the stealthy footsteps traversed theparquet of the vestibule—stumbled over an unseen ottoman in[Pg 425] thedarkness of the large drawing-room—threaded the next, and crossed thethreshold of the green-and-gold boudoir, he heard it, with a creepingicy chill, and a rising of the hairs upon his scalp and body. Heremembered that he had not shut the courtyard gate, or the hall-doorbehind him, upon this fatal night of revelation.... It occurred tohim that some prowling night-hawk of the Paris streets might haveentered in search of food and plunder, or that the intruder might proveto be a sergent de ville, or the watchman of the quarter, oreven a gendarme of the city patrol.... But when a large, powerful,well-kept white hand, with fleshy, round-topped fingers, came stealingabout the edge of the partly-open door, and pushed it cautiouslyinwards—Dunoisse, with a savage leaping of the blood, knew—evenbefore a tall, bulky figure loomed dark upon the threshold, seenagainst the brilliance and glitter of the boudoir—that the man who hadleft her had returned.

That the man was de Moulny he had never for one instant doubted. Nowthe muscles of his folded arms tightened across his breast like cordsof steel, his keen face was set like granite, and a cold, fierce lightof battle blazed in his keen black eyes. It was good to Dunoisse thatthis hour should have come, setting Redskin face to face with hisold, treacherous enemy, stripping all pretenses from their mutualhate. The loaded pistol in the inner pocket of his coat gave him theadvantage—supposing de Moulny unarmed.... But he knew how to equalizethe chances.... They would toss for the shot, or throw away the Colt’srevolver. Men can kill men with no other weapons than their muscularnaked hands.

In the first moment of his entrance, de Moulny—newly out of fog anddarkness—blinking from the radiance of the boudoir, did not observethat the bedroom held any occupant besides the rigid, white form uponthe rose-colored sofa. His light blue, strained and slightly bloodshoteyes went to that directly. His jutting underlip shook, a question waswritten large upon the pale, heavily-featured countenance. “Has shemoved or breathed since I left her?” it seemed to ask, and thenegative of her immobility wiped a latent expectation out from it. Andthen——

[Pg 426]

Then a purposely-made movement of Dunoisse jerked de Moulny’s headround. A sudden reddish flame leaped into the pale eyes as theytook in the slender, upright figure in the rough gray travelingsurtout, standing at the foot of the couch with folded arms.... Andthough de Moulny did not palpably start, yet his big jowl dropped ahair’s-breadth. A slight hissing intake of the breath betrayed hisperturbation and surprise.

Th’h’h!”.... And then in an instant the old de Moulny wasback, arrogant, cool, self-possessed as ever. His blue eyes were hardas polished stones as they met the black eyes of Dunoisse. He said,pouting his fleshy lips, sticking his long obstinate chin out, lookingarrogantly down his big thick nose in the old familiar manner:

“An unexpected return invariably leads to unpleasant explanations. Butin the present case I design to make you none, further than that Icame here by appointment.” His smile was intolerable as he added: “Notfor the first time. And I will meet you when you please, and where youplease. You have your choice of weapons, understand me—from ordinarydueling-pistols to a buttonless foil!”

Dunoisse, lividly pale and sharp-faced, looked at his enemy, showinghis small square teeth almost smilingly, breathing through his noserather loudly, just as Redskin had done upon the day of the boyishquarrel at the School. Even as then, he was conscious of being alittle sick at the pit of his stomach: the sight of de Moulny, big andblond and brutal, his light-brown, curled hair and reddish whiskersglittering with fog-beads, his hard eyes bloodshot with the night’sexcess, his immaculately-cut black frock-coat buttoned awry, its collarturned up to shield the bareness of his thick white bull-neck from thechill night air, its lapels dragged over the breast to conceal theabsence of a cravat, his usually irreproachable trousers and polishedboots dabbled with the mud of the streets, affected Dunoisse with aphysical nausea as well as a malady of the soul.... To the picture ofthe libertine confronted by the grim mower in the midst of his gardenof stolen pleasures, was added a touch of absurdity in the littlewhite-papered, red-sealed chemist’s parcel, held with a certain air offastidious helplessness between a finger and thumb of one of the large,white, carefully-tended[Pg 427] hands. And as though Dunoisse’s glance at thishad reminded de Moulny of its destined use, he said, holding his headhigh, speaking through his nose, deliberately:

“Monsieur, since we have arrived at a complete understanding, itappears to me that delicacy and good taste should counsel you toretire, and leave me to minister to the very evident need of ourlovely friend.” Meeting no response from Dunoisse, he added, with hisinsufferable smile, glancing towards the still sleeper on the rose-huedsofa:

“She swooned in my arms.... These delicate sensualists live hard—toput it brutally. ‘One must pay the piper,’ as the Englishsay,—in the end,—for being perpetually attuned to concert-pitch....And the servants had all been sent out of the way!... Imagine mypredicament!... A senseless woman on my hands, and not another womanwithin cry.... Thus it was, that in my present, slightly compromisingstate of déshabille, I sallied out to fetch a surgeon—anexcellent, discreet, and reliable person, who—as luck would haveit—has gone into the country to operate upon a patient, and untilto-morrow is not expected to return.... Failing him, I knocked up achemist, who supplied me with these drops—warranted infallible”—heheld up the little parcel—“adding some advice gratis as totreatment of the sufferer, involving—unless I err—friction over theregion of that conjectural feminine organ, the heart....”

De Moulny, seeming bigger and more blond and brutal than ever, movedwith his long, padding elastic step,—recalling the gait of a puma—tothe sofa. Dunoisse, even quicker than he, interposed, and said, baldlyand simply, speaking between his close-shut teeth, and looking straightin the other’s stony eyes:

“If you touch her I shall kill you! Take care!...”

“Oh, as to killing!” de Moulny said with a shrug.... But he did notcarry out the intention expressed in that long, catlike stride. Hemoved to the hearth, where the wood-fire was glowing with a comfortablewarmth that tempted him, and said, daintily picking up his splashedcoat-tails, as he lolled with his heavy shoulders against themantelshelf:

“Permit me to point out that your utterance savors of the dog in themanger. You have failed to revive Madame—and[Pg 428] I am not to try. Youwould rather Death laid his bony hand upon that eminently lovely personthan that I did.... Well!... Be it so!”

He shrugged with an elaborate affectation of indifference—even feignedto yawn. Dunoisse answered hoarsely, turning away his sickened eyesfrom him:

“Death has already touched and claimed her. She is Death’s—not mine oryours!”

De Moulny’s big jowl dropped. He shot into an erect attitude, droppedhis coat-tails and made, rapidly and stealthily, the Sign of the Cross.His widely-open eyes, their distended pupils swallowing up the paleblue irises, seemed to leap at the white shape upon the sofa; and thenrelief relaxed the tension of his muscles, and his thick lips curledback in an almost good-humored smile. He said, in Alain’s old way:

Nom d’un petit bonhomme!—but you are mistaken, my excellentDunoisse!—fortunately most damnably mistaken, as it turns out!Even from where I stand, the quiver of an eyelid,—the stirring ofa finger—the faintest heaving of the bosom I am not to touch, mayoccasionally be perceived. Use your own eyes, and they will convinceyou.” He went on jeeringly as Dunoisse, shaken by the furious beatingof his heart, dizzy with the shock of the unexpected, and dim-eyedwith newly-stirred emotion, moved unsteadily to the couch, and,stooping, noted the signs, faint but unmistakable, of reviving vitalityin Henriette. “Aha! I am now enlightened as to the secret of yourphlegm—your apathy—your air of fatalistic composure!—‘Dead,’not a bit of it! She will live to dance over de Roux’s grave andyours, my good sir, and possibly mine.... But if she had been,” wenton the big, blatant voice, with a scoffing gayety in it that set thestill air of the rose-colored bedroom vibrating as though unholy wingshad stirred it, “with that solid common-sense which she has foundstimulatingly refreshing,—in contrast with the moonstruck vaporingsof a person who, being present, shall go unnamed—I should have mademyself scarce in double-quick time. For to be compromised with a livingwoman is sometimes sufficiently embarrassing, but when it comes toa——”

“Be silent—be silent!” said Dunoisse in the thick, quivering voice ofovermastering anger. “Have you no[Pg 429] sense of decency?—no manhood leftin you?” he demanded, “that you mock and jeer at a woman who cannoteven answer in her own defense? Our meeting cannot be too soon!—myfriends will wait upon you in a few hours. Meanwhile, relieve me ofyour presence!” He pointed to the open door.

De Moulny, maintaining his position on the hearthrug, hunched hisshoulders as though a shrug were too elaborate a method of conveyingindifference. His solid jowl was doggedly obstinate, and a red lightshone behind his pale blue eyes. He said:

“You have anticipated me—forestalled me, General, in pointing outthat—to quote the old adage, ‘Two are company.’... Might I suggestthat you should prove your own claim to decency and so forth byeffacing yourself from a scene where—to put it obviously—you arede trop...! The equally obvious fact that your presence herewill not conduce to Madame’s complete recovery, does not seem to haveoccurred to you. Face the situation. You took her from me—I won herback from you. A shameful struggle,” said de Moulny brutally, “a paltrytriumph.” His thick lips rolled back in the contemptuous smile. “But bethat as it may, the fact to be confronted, we have shared a strumpet,you and I!”

The words seemed so like a brutal blow in the white face againstthe sofa-cushions, that Dunoisse could not restrain an indignantejaculation. De Moulny resumed, with the same intolerable coolness:

“Since neither of us will give place, one must listen to the other....Whether Madame there hears matters very little to me.... There is verylittle of either delicacy or decency in the present situation. We mightwith truth be likened,” said de Moulny, “to a couple of dogs growlingover a bone.”

He threw out his big arms and drew the air into his broad chestgreedily.

“’F’ff! There is a certain relief in discarding conventionalities—inbeing, for the nonce, the natural man. For years, without a spokenword,—as men used before language was invented to swaddle Truth in—wehave hated one another cordially, my very good Dunoisse. You had robbedme of a career—and though—when a rogue had come to me babbling thestory of that trick of fence[Pg 430] that did the business, I had stuffed hisjaws with banknotes not to tell—one does not forgive a theft of thatnature.... I think you upon your side resented—with a good deal ofreason—a silly oath I had exacted—an oath you had at last the commonsense to break. Nom d’un petit bonhomme! I should have broken itages before you did.... But at least you learned the art of succeedingwithout money.... There is not one man in a million who understandsthat!...”

He stuck out his hammer-head of a chin in his old way of reflection.

“I should have let you alone if you had not—for the second time—comebetween me and my desire. That day at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,when the pistol-shot.... Aha!” cried de Moulny, Dunoisse havingwinced at the allusion, “I see our disputed possession has told youthe pretty little tale.... But it may be, with some embroidery ofimagination (if she overhears what I say she will thank me for puttingit so charmingly).... Possibly with some divagations from the rigidrectilinear of truth! For it amounts to this, that de Roux had borrowedfrom the regimental money-chest; the money had to be replaced, ifunpleasant consequences were to be averted. And knowing me to be themost recent and infatuated of all her worshipers, Madame applied to meto make up the sum.”

His smile was an insult as his cold eyes went to the face upon thesofa. And an indefinable change seemed working under the rigidfeatures, as one may see to-day in the partly-masked face of theanæsthetized patient outstretched upon the operating-table, areflection of the torture caused by the surgeon’s dexterous knife.

“Perhaps she lied—as women will—and really wanted the money for herbonnet-maker or her Bonaparte,” went on de Moulny. “Still, I knew deRoux to be not afflicted with scruples—he had scraped by the earsout of even more questionable affairs. And I saw my chance, and gottogether the money.... One was a poor devil in those days—and thirtythousand francs meant much. And she took them—and threw me over. Asone might have expected,” said de Moulny, dourly, “if one had not beena fool!”

“She repaid—” Dunoisse began in a strangled voice;[Pg 431] and then it rushedon him that she had kept the money. His eyes fell in shame for her. DeMoulny went on:

“Pass over that affair of the order to fire. Did it do otherwise thanmake your social reputation—smooth your path to possession of thewoman I desired...? By Heaven!”—the speaker’s pale eyes gleamed, andhe clenched his white hand unconsciously,—“when you lied with suchgorgeous effectiveness before the Military Commission of Inquiry, Icould have bitten myself, as patients do in rabies—knowing that I hadbeen forestalled again! After that, your road lay open—your nameswere bandied from mouth to mouth all over Paris.... Your intrigue wasPunchinello’s secret; she made no mystery of it when we met.But”—the brutal smile curled the fleshy lips—“perhaps it may interestyou to know that I was given to understand that your proprietorshipwas from first to last a question of Money. And that, supposing allthose Widinitz millions had been mine to pour into de Roux’s insatiableclutches—Henriette would have been sold to a man she loved, instead ofto a romantic weakling whom she despised and laughed at ... even fromthe first ... do you hear, my good Dunoisse?”

A hoarse sound came from Dunoisse’s dry throat. It deepened the uglysmile upon the sensual face of de Moulny. He said, opening and shuttingone of his big white hands, with a mechanical, rhythmic movement as hewent on, slowly, deliberately, pouring himself out:

“Why do men love women?” He added with an accent of utter contempt:“They are either fools or jades! Play with them—use them astools—they can be edged ones.... But to love them—to set the hearton them—to stand or fall by their truth or treachery—that is not fora man of sense. When I loved Henriette—she fooled and flouted me....When I had ceased to love, and only desired her—when the day camethat saw hundreds of millions stored up under my hand at the Ministryof the Interior, I knew that my time had come—do you comprehend?”He rubbed his heavy chin reflectively. “She was more charming thanever—she wanted to find out how far I would go to get what I wanted—Isuspected her of spying for the Count de Morny—I had long known herto be a tool of the Prince.... So I did not show her the keys of theOrleans strong-boxes—I did not even let[Pg 432] her know where they werekept; but I made other concessions to her, concessions that I knewwere harmless....” The pale, glittering self-satisfaction in hiseyes was intolerable, as he added: “They served me excellently!—andfor the time being pleased her just as well!...” He added, meetingHector’s glance of loathing: “Possibly you think me a scoundrel?...I am completely indifferent to your opinion. To pursue.... Shepersuaded me to join the circle at the Élysée. We met at the suppersthere.... You must know I am a gourmet and a sensualist.Those suppers were everything one could imagine of a Regency. Thecorruption—unimaginable. The license—complete....” It was as thoughde Moulny smacked his lips as he added: “Yes!—the Élysée is theshortest road to Hell I know of.... But it was not until the nightpreceding the coup d’État that I—attained the supreme end I hadhad so long in view.”

He breathed heavily, and blinked his pale eyes in luxuriousretrospection. Dunoisse drove his nails deep into the palms of hisclenched hands, restraining the almost irresistible impulse to dash hisfist in the evil, sensual face.

“Be reasonable, my excellent Dunoisse,” he heard de Moulny saying, inalmost coaxing accents. “Quit the field—accept the situation—removefrom the path the obstacle of yourself.... For Henriette de Rouxhas long been very weary of you!... Only her exquisite womanlyinsincerity—the characteristic softness of her nature—have preventedher from forcibly breaking her connection—has held the hand that wouldotherwise have administer to you the final coup de grâce.” Headded, with his smooth brutality:

“Endeavor to understand that your foreign expedition has been arrangedfor you!—to conceive that the anonymous letter you previously receivedwas considerately planned in the notion of opening your eyes. Andreceive from me the very definite assurance that where you once wereruled I am the ruler; and what you once imagined you possessed I holdand possess, and keep while it pleases me. For Henriette de Roux ismy vice,” said de Moulny, dully flushed now, and with his heavy facequivering. “No other living woman has such fragrance and savor, suchdaring originality in the conception of sheer[Pg 433] evil.... You have neverappreciated or understood her! You were the peasant set down to thepâté of truffles—the village fiddler scraping out a countryreel upon a priceless Stradivarius—the thistle-eating ass who soughtto browse on tuberoses and orchids!... What?... Have I roused the devilin you at last?”

For Dunoisse, with the savage, sudden lust to kill, thrilling in everynerve of his supple body, had leaped at the bull-neck, as a slenderPersian greyhound might have launched its sinewy strength at a greatmastiff; and locked together in a desperate grip, Alain and Redskinstruggled for possession of the prize.

The slowly-dropping, envenomed taunts, the gross sensual hints, thevaunted luxury of possession had kindled and fanned Dunoisse’s owncooling passion to a white-hot furnace-flame. What did it matter ifHenriette were vile, as long as she remained what this man appraisedher—a perfect instrument for fleshly joy? She was his by right ofownership—no other man on earth—least of all this big blond brute,conceited, fatuous, arrogant in very depravity—should have and holdher but Hector Dunoisse.

So Redskin and Alain struggled for possession of her, panting andswaying to and fro amidst the delicate toys and plenishings of therose-colored room; crushing frail chairs and spidery whatnots under theweight of their grappling bodies; grinding the costly trifles sweptfrom tables and consoles into powder under their reckless, trampling,muddy-booted feet.

A vivid recollection of the duel at the School leaped up in Hectoras he listened to de Moulny’s thick panting, and saw the savage,livid face, its paleness now blotched with red, coming nearer andmore near.... And suddenly he realized that his antagonist was thestronger.... The supple muscular strength once distinctive of Dunoissehad deteriorated; possibly from excess of pleasure—from excess oflabor it may be.... He nerved himself for a supreme effort, but thesuperior force and greater weight of his antagonist were surelygradually crushing him backwards across the sofa-foot, with those bigwhite hands knotted in a strangling grip about his throat.

Choking, he freed one arm, and with fiery circles revolving before hiseyes, and a deafening sound as of many waters in his ears, felt forthe revolver in the inner pocket[Pg 434] of his gray surtout. He meant to useit.... He would have used it, in spite of his determination, but thatwith lightning quickness his enemy divined his intention, and capturedwithin his own the weaponed hand.

“Truly, old friend,” said de Moulny’s voice, thickly and lispingly,“one must needs be prepared for tricks when one happens to fight withyou....” He crushed the imprisoned hand within his own, smiling evilly,and as Dunoisse, almost with a sensation of relief, felt the coldcircle of steel forced home against his own temple, de Moulny spokeagain:

“Do you comprehend, my excellent Dunoisse, what plan has just occurredto me? It is very simple—just a little more pressure than this uponyour trigger-finger—and you will have committed suicide.... When theyfind you—(an ugly spectacle)—the revolver will be grasped in yourdead hand—there will not be the slightest suspicion of foul playattaching to any other person. Nothing will be involved beyond theminor scandal of Madame’s discarded lover having shot himself in herroom——”

He laughed silently, puffing short whiffs of breath through his clumsynose, his bulky body yet heaving with the exertion of the struggle,his big muscles still taut with the effort of keeping the upper-hand.His eyes were very cold, and smiled cruelly. He said, looking into thefierce black eyes that stared up at him out of the discolored face ofthe strangling man:

“—But as I wish to spare her an ugly spectacle, and further, because Iam original in my methods of reprisal....”

The Colt’s revolver, strongly thrown, crashed through the thickrose-colored glass of the one window that was not closely curtained,and, without exploding, was heard to fall upon the soft damp earth ofa flower-bed underneath. And the choking grip upon Dunoisse’s throatrelaxed—the weight of his enemy’s bulky body ceased to crush him....

“Get up,” said de Moulny coarsely, “and—since you will not take yourdismissal from me—take it from Madame there. Look!... She is coming toherself!... In an instant she will speak!”

[Pg 435]

It was true. Long shudders rippled through Henriette’s beautiful,helpless body. Her bosom heaved with shallow, gasping breaths. The eyesbetween the parted eyelids rolled and wandered blindly. She moaned alittle, as though in pain.

“Awake, my white leopardess!” said the voice Dunoisse so hated.“Unclose your petals, my blood-red, fragrant flower of Sin! Mockyour lovers no more with that white sculptured mask of chastity, myimperial Messalina!... Say to this poor wretch, awaiting your sentencein anguish: ‘Another lover is preferred before you.... You havehad your night of rapture.... Depart! and let me see your face nomore!’”

She only moaned, and feebly beat her head from side to side upon thecushions. Her eyelids trembled. Spasms, like shadows, passed over theivory face.... Her mouth hung a little open, as her lungs drank thecold foggy air that poured in through the shattered window.... And anew idea struck de Moulny. He looked at Dunoisse, standing white andhaggard and shame-stricken on the other side of the sofa. And he said,in a changed, less smoothly brutal tone, and without his hateful smile:

“This is a strange, unusual method of settling a dispute forpossession, but unconventionality pleases me.... Understand, I am readyto abide by the issue, be it what it may—nor have I any objectionto pledge myself by an oath....” He glanced at the wall beyond thebed-foot, where Dunoisse knew well there hung an ivory Crucifix. Thefigure was covered with a drapery of black velvet. And at the sight thebanished light of mockery came back into de Moulny’s hard blue eyes.

“Ah, no! There shall be no oath, my good Dunoisse,” he went on, almostgently.... “Both of us have proved the brittleness of such things!...But listen, and if my plan appeals to you, accept it.... When——” Herose up, and turned his eyes to the sofa. He asked himself, musingly,with cold considering eyes studying what lay there: “Was I mistaken, ordid I hear her speak?”

She had only moaned, and muttered something incoherent. De Moulny wenton:

“Long years ago—when one whose name is too sacred to be uttered withinthese walls—lay in a swoon as deathlike and protracted as this”—hisbig hand motioned[Pg 436] towards the sofa—“the first name she uttered uponher recovery, was that of her youngest son.... And I knew then—thoughshe had never made any parade of difference between us,—that of allher children she loved me best. Then listen. Whose name this womanspeaks, his she shall be, soul and body! Is that agreed, my virtuousDunoisse?”

The cold blue eyes and the burning black eyes met and struck out awhite-hot flame between them.

“It is agreed!” said Dunoisse in a barely audible voice.

“Her husband is out of the running,—a scratched horse,” said deMoulny, sneering and smiling.... “He has battened on the sale of herbeauty, and climbed by the ladder of his shame. Therefore, should thosepale lips frame Eugéne—it counts less than nothing.... We standor fall by their dropping into the hair-weight balance of Destiny a‘Hector’ or ‘Alain.’”

A silence fell. The ashes of the dying fire dropped upon thetiled hearth with a little clicking echo.... Three rivals waitedby the moaning figure on the sofa in the disarranged, disorderedbedchamber.... De Moulny, and Dunoisse, and Another Whose Face washidden by a veil....

Ah, Jesu Christ!...”

The Name came from the pale lips of Henriette in a sighing whisper.Then silence fell again like a black velvet pall.... Dunoisse and deMoulny, the fire of lust and anger dead ashes between them, looked withawe and horror, each in the other’s face. And stronger and clearer uponthe strained and guilty consciences of both, grew the impression of anunseen Presence, awful, condemnatory, relentless, all-potent, standingbetween them in the rose-colored room.

De Moulny spoke at last, in a shaking whisper, a strange light burningbehind the eyes that were like polished blue stones:

“Do you hear?... She is God’s, this woman for whose body and soul wehave disputed.... Christ has claimed her!... She is no longer yours ormine!...”

He thought he spoke to Dunoisse, but Dunoisse had[Pg 437] already left the Ruede Sèvres behind him. With despair eating at his heart, and Remorseand Shame for traveling-companions, he had resumed his interruptedjourney—he was speeding to the Pestilential Places of South-EasternEurope to carry out the secret mission of Monseigneur.


Have you forgotten a trooper of Her Majesty’s Hundredth Regimentof Lancers, who, being secretly married to his mother’s milkmaid,and detected by a pigman in the administration of divers conjugalendearments—sanctioned by Church and State, but unpardonable in thehollow eyes of Sarah Horrotian—was, by maternal decree, incontinentlydriven—with his young bride and his good horse Blueberry—forth fromthe gates of Upper Clays Farm?

The wedded pair supped and slept that night at Market Drowsing, ina garret of the Saracen’s Head Inn. So many thirsty callers wereattracted to the bar of this hostelry by the news—disseminated as soonas told—of the rupture between Sarah Horrotian and her son, that thelandlord, for the accommodation above-named, refused payment.

“For—my part I praise ’e for the step you’ve taken! All same,” thelandlord added, with a touch of the Sloughshire caution, “theer be noneed for ’e to go telling Widow Horrotian as much. For her puts up hershay and pony here regularly on market-days—and custom is custom, beit large or small.”

At dawn, fortified by slaps on the back and a good many handshakes, aswell as cold bacon, bread and butter, tea for the bride and ale for thegroom; man, woman, and horse took the road for Dullingstoke Junction,whence Mrs. Joshua Horrotian was to proceed by rail to the cavalrydepot town of Spurham, and await at an address supplied by her husband,his slower arrival by road.

It was a raw, cold, weeping day. A numbing wind blew between its sleetyshowers. As they paused on the bridge that spanned the swollen riverto look their last at the farm perched on the high bleak ridge of thesixty-acre upland, a scarlet mail-phaeton rattled past behind theflying heels[Pg 438] of its pair of spirited blacks. The trooper, recognizingthe squat and bulky figure buttoned in beside the driving groom underthe phaeton’s leather apron, wrapped in a dreadnought cloak andsheltered under the vast green silk umbrella dutifully held over himby the servant who occupied the back seat; reddened to the rim of theidiotic little muffin-shaped forage-cap of German pattern approved byGovernment, but Thompson Jowell gave no sign.

“Damn my tongue!” had come from Josh in almost a mellow tone ofretrospective ruefulness.

“Whatever for, dear Josh?”

Nelly turned on her love rounded eyes of alarmed astonishment. Heanswered, wiping with the back of his sinewy hand a splash of Jowell’smud from his sunburnt cheek.

“Because I doubt I ha’ made me another enemy with it, and that’s onetoo many, Pretty—as things are just now.” He whistled a stave of “TheRatcatcher’s Daughter” with defiant melodiousness, then broke off tosay with a broad, irrepressible smile:

“To think of my having twitted of him wi’ buying spoiled hay andmildewed barley, and pitched them kilns that are worked in a namethat isn’t his’n at Little Milding—along of the empty jam-tins anddead kittens and so on that ha’ been sarved out to us chaps in theGovernment Forage trusses—at his head. Egad! I can hardly believe ito’ myself!”

With her bonnet thrust back and falling on her shoulders, and the sweetrosiness hunted from her cheeks by the revelation of his terriblepresumption, she panted softly:

“Dear Josh, you never!...”

“Ay! but I did though,” the soldier retorted, “as true as I live!”

“And him that great and rich and powerful,” she breathed. “Whateverwill he do to ’e? By way o’ revenge, I mean—come he gets the chance.”

“Why, he med make more bad blood between me and mother—if so beas that’s to be done,” said Josh, meditatively tapping Blueberry’sshining neck with the end of the bridle he held—“or drop a word atHeadquarters that ’ud sow salt in my bed.” He added: “By jingo! if—asseems likely—I be doomed to spend my long life sogering,[Pg 439] I’ve donenone too well by myself. Or you, poor girl, I doubt!”

His tone of pity hung bright drops on her dark eyelashes. She murmured,stroking the blue cloth that covered the broad shoulders:

“How can e’ fare to say that? Haven’t ’e married me? And the long lifeyou talk of will be ours, dear love!—not yours to live alone.”

“The harder for you, maybe!” he said, bending his brows and settinghis strong jaw doggedly. “If I were free of the Service, to earnenough to keep you in comfort would be an easy job for hands as strongas mine. But with ’em tied to the lance, carbine and sword—and mylegs bent round a horse’s belly—all I am worth in the opinion ofmy betters is one-and-tuppence a day. You ha’ got to go into decentlodgings somewheres,” pursued the trooper, “till I can get the ear ofthe Officer Commanding our Squadron—and my Captain being his friend,and a free-spoken, kindly young gentleman—med be he’ll take aninterest in our case. If so, the fact o’ my having gone and got marriedwithout leave—and I could punch my own head for a fool’s for havingdone it!—might be blinked at and got over like,—though it comesnext to Insubordination and Neglect of Orders on the long list of asoldier’s sins. In which case—inquiries being made and satisfactorilyanswered—you’ll be allowed fifteen pence a week. It ain’t a handsomeincome,” commented Josh, “when you remember it’s supposed to find ’e inhouse-room and food and firing, but at any rate it’ll eke out what wehave. Even if I’m disappointed about the Captain’s buying Blueberry,I’ve a pound or so put by in the little green purse you netted, againsta rainy day. And if this bain’t the kind o’ weather that calls for itI’m a Dutchman! No!—don’t you begin to talk about your blessed littlesavings,” the soldier added hastily, “laid up out o’ the four poundsodd to-year my mother’s paid ’e!... There may come a use for them,before you know!”

She faltered, with the banished roses crowding back into the sweet ovalcheeks, and the shy hazel eyes shunning his warm blue ones:

“And shall I have to live in lodgings always?”

“Why,” said Josh, setting his strong face ahead as he[Pg 440] marched steadilyby the side of Blueberry, “if I have luck in getting a good word fromCaptain Bertham, you may be took upon the strength of the Regiment as aSquadron Woman by-and-by. Which means you’ll live wi’ me in Barracks,and share a room with eight or ten married couples and their families,and maybe a bachelor or two thrown in, in case we’re too private anddecent-like among ourselves.... West Indian slaves, I’m told, areallowed separate huts by their masters when they’re married. But anArmy blanket or a patchwork counterpane hung on a clothes-line,” saidJoshua Horrotian, with a resentful light burning in his wide blueeyes, “is good enough—according to the grand gentlemen who sit inCabinet and call themselves the Government—to hide the blushes of asoldier’s wife!” He added, with a latent grin hovering about the mouththat was shaded by the bold dark red mustache: “Not that it ’ud takean over-and-above sized one to hide Mrs. Geogehagan’s. She bain’t ablushing sort—though I’ve seen Geogehagan’s ears as red as two boiledlobsters when she’ve took it into her head to pull ’em—the masterfulcatamaran!”

“Whatever for?”

The trooper’s solid shoulders shook a little. The grin was no longerlatent as he replied:

“For the preservation of Discipline—or because the Corporal hadstopped in Canteen when he’d ought to ha’ been helping her peel thetaters or wash the babbies.... ‘Give me your ear!’—she says to’n—and he gives it, as meek as a mouse. Ha, ha, ha!” He ceased hislaughter to say in a tone not at all mirthful: “And mind you!—she’sthe sort of woman you’ll have to live alongside of, if you’re lucky.As for the rest.... But there!—I’ve took oath to cure myself ofgriding and grumbling.... ‘Discontented,’ that’s one o’ the thingsMr. Jowell called me yesterday, and for all I know the man may beright.” He filled his big chest with the keen air and puffed it outagain, as though he blew away his discontent with it. “Look here! Let’smake-believe, as the children say, that all’s for the best that’shappened. I’m game if you are!”

“And sure to goodness,” Nelly put in, as the big hairy-backed handgave the upward twist to the dark red mustaches, and the firm mouthit shaded curved in the old smile, “what wi’ Jason’s ragging and yourmother’s[Pg 441] nagging, I could no ways ha’ bided to The Clays for long.”

“No more you could, now I come to think of it!”

In cheering the drooping spirits of his bride he had heartened himself;and now he turned a brightened face to Nelly’s, and said in tones thathad the old hearty, buoyant ring: “True love drove our nail, Pretty,and Good Luck may clinch it. I said to that big gentleman I angeredyesterday wi’ my plain talk—as how I’d leave the crimson silk sashand the officer’s gold epaulettes a-hanging at the top of the tree forsome cleverer fellow than me to reach down. But wi’ you standing at thebottom to cheer me on,” said Josh, with a great revival of energy andspirits, “damme if I don’t have another try for ’em! So remember,—thetoast for my next mug of beer—which must be a half-pint, seeing asI’m a married man and can’t afford luxuries—should go: ‘Here’s toPromotion—and may it come soon!’ Hup! will ’e, Blueberry!” The soldieradded as the young horse obediently quickened his pace. “You’re ourbest friend just now, it strikes me. For if so be as the Captain’spleased wi’ you and buys you—there’s his money to put with the restinto the stocking—not to mention his good word for your master’swife. Look at his ears, Pretty,” adjured Josh, beaming and patting theglossy gray shoulder. “Don’t the twitch and set of ’em seem to answer,that what he can do he will?... Talk about Dick Whittington’s Cat—andPuss in Boots, this here horse o’ mine is worth a shipload o’ suchmiaulers. When we get to Dullingstoke,—and it’s not but three milesfarther,—suppose you hear the bells o’ the little yellow iron churchin the Stokes Road begin to ring out ‘Turn again, Joshua Horrotian,Regimental Sergeant-Major!’ don’t you be surprised!”


But although the twitch and set of Blueberry’s ears did not fail oftheir significance—though the young horse was duly purchased by thekindly Captain for Josh’s troop, and the good word of the officer wasnot wanting in the interests of the clandestinely-married couple—theday that was to confer upon Nelly the privileges of the barrack-roomand the right to revolve in the select if limited social circle[Pg 442] whereMrs. Geogehagan reigned in virtue of her rank as Corporal’s lady—didnot dawn for many, many months.

The sweet came before the bitter. Though the rose-colored glassesthrough which couples wedded for love invariably view the scenery ofthe honeymoon, could hardly disguise the fact that the lodgings—atwo-pair-back in a dingy street of rickety houses in the purlieus ofthe Cavalry Barracks at Spurham—were squalid, dingy and dubiouslyclean. Yet the neighborhood presented advantages. Regimental visitorswere frequent. Healths were pledged with these in foaming pots of aleand stout from one or other of the prosperous taverns in which theneighborhood abounded. And not infreqently the parting guest—countingon the liberality of a man who was not only newly-married, but hadthe price of a horse in his pocket—appealed to Josh for a loan, andgot it. Do you call the lender spendthrift and the borrowers shabbyspongers? They would have ministered to their comrade’s need—supposingtheir pockets had been full, while his were empty. ’Twas a way they hadin the Army when Queen Victoria was young and pretty.... ’Tis a waythey have still, though her grandson reigns in her stead.

You are asked to imagine the palpitating wonder and delightof Nelly’s first plunge into the giddy round of garrison-townpleasures. The Circus presented charm but not novelty—becauseevery year when the plums were ripe, and the Fair was held atMarket Drowsing, Banger’s Royal Terpsichorean and Equestrian GrandGala Entertainment encamped upon a marshy patch of waste in thetown suburbs, and foreign-complexioned men with earrings, carryingwhips of abnormal length, came to The Upper Clays to bargain foroats, hay, mangold-wurzel, and cabbages—the last-named commoditiesconstituting the elephant’s favorite bill-of-fare. Free admissions tothe sawdust-strewn, horsey land of enchantment within the big creakingtent of patched canvas were granted upon these occasions—not to sternSarah, in whose gaunt eyes spangled females capering in pink tightsupon the backs of ambling piebalds, represented the peculiar progeny ofthe Babylonish Whore—but to her maid and man. For Jason’s chapel-goingnever cured him of the horseriders. In the secret estimation of thepiggy man the New Jerusalem was but an immensely-magnified, unspeakablymore glorious[Pg 443] Banger’s. Not but what the lithe and supple gentlemanin a sheath of glittering scales—who doubled himself into snaky knotswhile spewing fire—was hardly the sort of personage one might expectto meet with up here....

You are asked to be present in imagination upon the gallery benches ofthe Theater Royal, Spurham, upon the never-to-be-forgotten occasionwhen Josh took his bride to the Play. The blood-curdling melodrama of“The Ruffian Boy” constituted the principal item of the programme.Miss Arabella Smallsopp of the Principal London Theaters having beenspecially engaged to appear in the character of “Ethelinda,” theBaron’s Bride.

To look down from the gallery—sitting perched up there so high—andbeside a husband so big, so manly, and so handsome in his uniformthat the old lady in the squashed bonnet and nose to match, who soldyou winkles, oranges and nuts, cried “God bless him!” as he ratedher for giving short measure in the latter commodity—was in itselfan experience thrilling enough to make you gasp even supposing theextraordinary mixture of paint, varnish, gas, drains, damp clothes,and heated humanity that was supplied to the patrons of the gallery inplace of air, had not tickled your nose and stung your throat and eyes,making you cough and sneeze and blink....

Only two defacing smudges marred the shining page whereon Memoryrecorded the history of that evening. Incident No. 1 occurred shortlyafter a row of heads and shoulders, with musical instruments of variouskinds attached to them, which Josh explained to be the Orchestra, hadsprung up like mushrooms at the bottom of a big black ditch, belowthe line of smoky tin-screened lights twinkling at the bottom edge ofa great Curtain—with a palace in an astonishing garden, and a lakefull of swans, and groups of dancing ladies painted on it; marvelouslybeautiful, but wi’ so mortal few clothes on as to make a body ashamedto look.

It was just before a lank gentleman with upright hair had popped intoa seat raised above the level of the previously-described heads andshoulders, and briskly rapping with a little black stick upon a desk,had caused the Orchestra to burst into a jumble of Popular Airs,described by a waggish young man on the back benches as a “musicalbluemange,” beginning with “My Heart’s in the[Pg 444] Highland,” continuingwith “The Marseillaise”—for some reason or other vociferouslyapplauded—and ending with “Rule, Britannia” and “Britons Strike Home.”

A young female—not so very young neither—Mrs. Joshua Horrotiancouldn’t help but notice!—in spite of her vividly red-and-whitecomplexion, and a profusion of light ringlets, tumbling out of a smartbonnet of pink satin trimmed with green ostrich feathers—a gaudy,tawdry young woman of the class we were then, as we are now—contentto call unfortunate—closely followed by a tall, lean, pimply-facedyoung trooper in the beloved blue, white-faced uniform of the HundredthLancers—came squeezing her way between the row of knees on one sideand the row of shoulders on the other—and plumped herself down in thevacant place by Joshua Horrotian’s side.

To the stolid vice of the country-side Sarah’s late milkmaid wasno stranger. Abey Absalom’s too-yielding girl, Betsy Twitch theweeding-woman, were not the only specimens of female frailty tobe found in the neighborhood of The Upper Clays. Fairs and publicholidays, stirring up the muddy dregs of Market Drowsing, showed, whilethe naphtha-lights still flared amongst the booths—while unsteadyrevelers staggered homewards between the hedgerows—spectacles sordid,brutal, and obscene enough to have been worthy of the brush of somebygone Flemish painter of revels and kermesses....

Nelly had known from childhood that certain men and women habituallycommitted sin together; sin for which the women were locally denouncedas “right down bad uns,” or “demmyrips,” or purely as whores—whilethe men reaped no blame whatever. She was too simple to dream ofinjustice—she sometimes wondered why, that was all.

The first glance had told Nelly that Pink Bonnet was a “bad un.” Thewhiff of cheap musk that emanated from the tawdry garments—the smellof spirits that breathed from the leering painted lips, had sprung therattle of warning, before—in a voice brazen and hoarse with drink,excess, and midnight brawling, Pink Bonnet addressed Joshua Horrotianas “her ducky,” and asked him to “stand a drain.”

Never, never! would Nelly forget the turn that creature gave her—notif she lived to be ever so old....

[Pg 445]

With Josh, as red as fire, or the coat of the infantryman sitting infront of him, saying in a sheepish, bashful voice, not at all like hisusual robust one:

“Excuse me, Miss!—I’m a married man!”....

Why Pink Bonnet, on the receipt of this intelligence, should becomevociferous and abusive, calling Josh a low, imperent soger, and a greatmany worse names, Mrs. Joshua could only wonder. Indeed, so forcibleand lurid became her language, that cries of “Order!—Or-der!”rose up about them; and the row of backs of heads in front became arow of faces, full of round, staring eyes and grinning mouths. Andthen a huge man in a Scotch cap and shirt-sleeves looked over a woodenpartition at the back of the gallery, and presently came striding downthe narrow gangway, followed by a chimney-pot-hatted policeman. AndScotch Cap said, beckoning with one immense finger: “Come! Out o’ this,Polly, since you dunno’ how to behave yourself!” Upon Polly’s launchinginto a torrent of sulphurous invective, the policeman added, warningly:“You ought to know by this time, my gal, that cussing makes it worse!”And as Polly—still fulminating threats of ultimate vengeance, wreakedupon somebody’s eyes, heart, and liver, was hustled out and vanished,followed by her tall, pimply-faced companion, Nelly whispered to Josh,as a vast breath of relief heaved the big ribs that pressed against herside:

“Her were quite a stranger to ’e—weren’t her, Josh, love?”

And heard him answer, as he wiped the standing sweat-drops from hishigh, tanned forehead, with a big hand that shook a little:

“I never saw her before in all my born days.”


But of course Josh knew Pink Bonnet—with the peculiarly intimateknowledge that is entertained by the soldier for the garrisonprostitute. He pitied himself for the rough cross-chance that hadbrought her to the theater—with the man who had taken the place hehad indifferently[Pg 446] vacated—and set her down, blazing with gin andjealousy, on the bench, cheek-by-jowl with the man who had thrown herover to marry a cleanly maid.

Ah, poor young wives! How little they dream of the muddy secrets hidingbehind the clear, candid eyes they gaze in so trustfully—how littlethey suspect what lips the beloved lips have kissed! If you told them:“This hand that strays in your hair has tangled in the tresses ofthe harlot,” they would laugh you to scorn, or scorch you with theirburning indignation; so unshaken is their faith in the manly heartsof whose swept and garnished chambers none ever held the key beforethem—whose most hidden secrets they believe they have been told. Alas!the poor young wives!

As for the husbands of the wives, by a law immutable as the foundationsof the world we tread on, Pink Bonnets must be paid for in the end.Find me a smart to outdo that of lying to the dearest who never dreamsof doubting you! thought the trooper, in homelier phrase than this.Sickly heats coursed through his thick veins, and the taste in hismouth was bitter as Dead Sea waters. The big, tawdry theater, packedfull with eager pleasure-seekers, gave a sense of emptiness thatfrightened him.... Nelly nestling by his solid side, seemed miles andmiles away.... For the shadow of an old, wellnigh forgotten sin hadcome between them, and was pushing them apart. To counteract the mentalconviction of guiltiness he repeated to himself all the trite clausesof the Code of Manhood, and employed, in imaginary defense of conductdenounced by an unspecified accuser—all the clinching arguments heknew.

“Ye wouldn’t have a man live aught but a man’s life would ye?”

Followed by:

“’Tis true I ha’ run wild a bit—drank a bit,—betted a bit—frequentedloose women, and the rest of it!—but so have all the young chaps Iever knew or heard of. Why should I set up to be better than the rest?”


“Women ye see—they be made different from men! ’Tis easy for them torun straight—that is, for the good ones. They can resist temptationbetter than us—being so much weaker and less sensible than we!”

[Pg 447]

The Curtain went up as the unseen person with whom Josh argued—andwho never answered any of his arguments,—was getting the best of it,to the trooper’s mind, Mrs. Joshua clutched the big blue cloth-coveredarm with a little squeal, as the Interior of the Robber’s Cave amongstthe Rocks was revealed by the combined light of a calcium moon and abrazier with rags dipped in spirits-of-wine blazing in it. Anon, tohis band of cloaked, bearded and villainously slouch-hatted myrmidons,entered—to tremulous music from the fiddles, down the rocks, GiraldiDuval the Ruffian Boy.

Never was such an out-and-out scoundrel. For certain unspecifiedreasons it was comforting to Joshua Horrotian to have somebody todisapprove of just then. The light and trivial sins of a whole regimentof British soldiers, would, if piled into the balance against thecrimes of the Ruffian, have certainly kicked the beam.

It was necessary to assure Mrs. Joshua, holding on to the stout bluearm and shivering deliciously, that the whole thing was make-believe.That the Ruffian—unloading pocket after pocket of stolen jewelry andbags of guineas—bragging of his enormities, and quaffing draughtafter draught from an immense gilt goblet painted red inside—wasa respectable gentleman “off.” That he had not just drunk astranger’s blood with his thirsty dagger in mistake for the beauteousEthelinda’s; and that Innocence and Virtue as personified by that faircreature—whose scorn had driven the Ruffian to raving madness—thoughdoomed to suffer hideous things in the course of the evening (unlessthe playbill deceived people who had paid their money for places) wouldcertainly triumph in the long-run.

How enchanting Ethelinda was, when the Castle Hall, having hurried onfrom both sides and fallen down in the middle—and a brace of retainersin black wigs having brought on a table and two chairs—she appearedin pale blue satin, spangles, curls, and feathers, leading the Baron’schildren—Ethelinda being the Baron’s lady, it was even more possibleto cry out upon the Ruffian—and telling the faithful Catherine and herdearest prattlers all about her latest escape from Giraldi’s unhallowedhands.

The Baron was sure that in spite of the valor of a husband’s arm, theRuffian would have another shy at[Pg 448] running off with the lady; and sohe did, in the very next scene, dressing up in old Margaretta’s cloakand hiding in her cottage; and terrifying Ethelinda into vowing neverto quit her Baron’s castle again, even though myriad summers decked theland with flowers and feathered songsters upon every tree tempted theear with joyous songs of love—until the Ruffian should have yielded uphis ghost upon the gallows.

Depend upon it, our forerunners of the forties were not half soignorant and unsophisticated in matters dealing with Dramatic Art aswe suppose them to have been. They knew, as well as we do, that Life,as represented on the stage in that era, was impossible, unreal, andabsurd.... But just because it was so unlike Life they loved it. Theypreferred Action to Art—and got it.... They reveled in impossible,absurd sentiment, and high-flown hyperboles. Impromptu love-matches,extravagant, gaudy crimes, and greased-lightning repentances gave themthe purest joy. When you went to the theater you left Reality behindyou. You expected the combined smells of paint, glue, and varnish to bewafted over the footlights. The last thing you wanted was the odor ofnew-mown hay.

The Gothic Chamber in the Baronial Castle was another thrill—theevening was a succession of them—with more of the tremolo passagesfrom the fiddles in the Orchestra, heralding the advent of the MadLady—whose daughter—you have of course forgotten—had been immolatedby the Ruffian in mistake for Ethelinda. To see the poor thing trailingabout looking ghastly in white draperies, staring glassily at nothingin particular, and blowing lamps out with deep sighs, drew pityingtears from Mrs. Joshua, and even caused Josh to sniff and gulp andsurreptitiously wipe his eyes. Both were certain she would be seen moreof presently; and so she was—coming on in the very nick of time—justas the Ruffian, armed with a drawn sword, had burst from behind thetapestry in Ethelinda’s bedchamber—to terrify him into rushing off,just in time to meet the Baron, with his drawn sword, in theGothic Gallery.

Clish—clash! went the broadswords in the dark—stage darkness atthat era being but a shade or two less obscure than a Novemberafternoon.... Chains, repentance,[Pg 449] vengeance for the Ruffian, union,joy, felicity for the Baron and Ethelinda. And the Drop came down upona general picture, to rise again and sink once more, and rise—erethe tidy semicircle of legs of both sexes had quite disappeared fromview—amidst round upon round of clapping; piercing whistles—-thepounding of approving sticks, enthusiastic umbrellas, and urgentboot-heels, and reiterated shouts of “Bravo!” and “’Core!”

The interlude of “The Lancers” followed, and then the great queencurtain fell amidst the strains of “God save the Queen,” and then thesensations of the evening were over. All save that last one at the veryend.

It happened when the packed gallery-audience, howling like Siberianwolves from sheer high spirits and good temper—swept down the longsteep flight of stone stairs and out into a muddy side-street, andfilling this mean alley from wall to wall, crushed out at the upperend of it, to encounter the turbid flood of humanity roaring from thegullet of the Pit Entrance that gaped just beyond the gilded portalsby which the gentlefolks who came in carriages and wore Evening Dress,and didn’t seem to enjoy themselves half as much as folks who sat incheaper places—were admitted to the Grand Tier.

There was a good deal of joking, laughter, squeezing, and jostling, andsome pocket-picking beyond a doubt.... The shiny chimney-pot hats, smugwhiskered faces, and bright brass collar-numbers of policemen bobbed upand down amongst the crowd—there were several ugly rushes, accompaniedby oaths and screaming; and Josh and Nelly, carried off their feet byone of these, were swept up some steps leading from the gilt-pillaredportico previously referred to, as some well-dressed Circle and Boxpeople were coming down them, headed by a tall and handsome younggentleman, who, with a gallant air of being in charge of somethingparticularly precious and breakable, was bending down to whisper to theyoung lady who leaned upon his arm....

Josh hadn’t the faintest intention of bumping into the lady, a slender,pretty young creature in a white velvet mantle—trimmed beautifullywith swansdown—and who was wearing a garland of pale blush roses onthe loveliest fair hair you ever did see. But as the trooper ruthfullystammered his apologies, the gentleman—becoming[Pg 450] aware of the blue,white-faced uniform, brusquely interposed, saying in a tone by no meanspleasant to hear:

“You infernal scoundrel! how dared you jostle the young lady? What doyou mean by it, you blackguard, hey?”

Josh answered with a sullen frown:

“I’ve said a-ready, sir, as I didn’t go to do it, and that I’m as sorryas man can be!”

The gentleman retorted, in a cold savage way, speaking between his setteeth:

“If you had meant it, you dog, you would have been soundly thrashed foryour insolence. As it is—take that!”

That was a sharp blow across the trooper’s mouth from the lady’sfan, carried in the white-gloved hand of her gallant. The ivory sticksbroke, and the blood sprang, and Nelly cried out; and then, as thegentleman hurried the young lady down the steps—at the bottom of whicha brougham waited—with a liveried servant holding open the door:

“You didn’t hurt the man, Arthur, did you?...” Nelly heard the younglady ask, and the answer came brusquely:

“No! though the blackguard deserved it.... Broken your fan though!Pity!... Never mind!... You shall have a prettier from Bond Street,when I get back from Town....”

Then the carriage door banged, the crowd seemed to melt away, and Mr.and Mrs. Joshua Horrotian were hurrying through the muddy ill-pavedgas-lit streets, home to their lodgings. From whose dinginess the rosyglamour of the honeymoon had quite, quite fallen away....

As Josh, by special permit, was not due in Barracks before next day’sRevally, the newly-wedded couple supped on cold scraps put by fromdinner,—or pretended to, for the trooper’s cut lip hurt him, and Mrs.Joshua couldn’t have eaten a mouthful, seeing him so cast down—not ifyou had tempted her with Turkey Soup—as understood to be consumed bythe Lord Mayor of London out of a gold spoon—and Roast Venison—andbetook themselves to rest. Nelly had comforted the swollen lip withold linen rags and hot water; but the swollen heart of its owner wasnot to be eased, even by her gentle touch.... Long after her soft evenbreathing had convinced him that his young wife slept, the man layopen-eyed and wakeful; staring at[Pg 451] the narrow line of watery moonlightthat outlined the edges of the square of dirty blind....

And presently he knew that Nelly had not been sleeping; for he heardher sob out in the darkness the question that could not be kept back.

“Oh, Josh, dear love! Why ever did he do it? Why should even a grand,rich gentleman have the right to treat my husband so?”

She hardly knew the hard, stern voice that answered:

“You ask why he called me dog,—and struck me? Being th’ dog’s wife,med-be ye have a right to know! ’Twas because the gaslight showedmy soldier’s cloth and buttons.... We’re housed like dogs, and fedlike ’em—and take our pleasures come-by-chance as dogs do—and aresometimes whipped as dogs are.... Why shouldn’t he call me dog? He wasin his right—I was in my wrong! There’s little else to say!...”

She sobbed out some indignant, incoherent words of protest. He filledhis vast chest with a long, deep quivering breath, and sent it slowlyout again, and said, still sternly, but less bitterly:

“In th’ old days, dear lass, when, as I’ve heard tell, Leprosy werecommon in England, smitten folks went about th’ roads and byways,sounding bell and clapper to warn wholesome people out of theirtainted way. In some such manner—as I have no learning to word asshould be—my uniform, that ought to be my honor, is my shame, in theeyes of my superiors and even many o’ my equals. And gentlefolks likehim and his, shrink from the rub o’ the soldier’s sleeve asif it carried th’ pest. Now you and me’ll speak no more of this, myPretty. Let it be buried deep—and covered up—and hid away.”

She promised amidst tears and wifely kisses, and thenceforwards thesore subject was touched upon no more. But Nelly was to learn thatthere are some things that, however deep their grave be dug, and thoughwhole tons of figurative earth be heaped above them, cannot be keptburied. Long after the trooper’s wounded lip had healed and the smallscar left by the ivory fan had paled and vanished, she saw the bleedingscar.

[Pg 452]


Blueberry’s purchase-money had long been spent—Josh’s hoarded pound orso had melted, crown by crown, out of the green netted purse,—the lastshillings of Mrs. Joshua’s small store of savings had been swallowed upby those three shrieking needs of Humanity—more particularly Humanityreared under the inclement skies of Great Britain, for Food, Fire, andShelter—before capricious Fortune relented in some degree towardsthe poor young lovers; permitting the missing certificate of theirmarriage at the yellow iron church at the bottom of the Stoke Roadnear Dullingstoke Junction, to be discovered within the covers of thatsacred volume, the trooper’s “small book,” tucked snugly away in a foldof the parchment binding.

A copy of this talisman being forwarded by Josh’s friendly Captainto Sarah Horrotian, with a request for a written testimony to therespectability of the young woman who had married her son, elicitedfrom the widow an inky chart indicating vanity, light-mindedness, lackof religious fervor, ingratitude to benefactors, and carelessness inmaking-up the market-butter, as the principal rocks and shoals uponwhich the esteem of an employer would be most likely to suffer wreck.Beyond these categorized failings, in Christian justice (since theyoung woman was proven virtuous and no to-yielding trollop) Sarah hadno more to add.

Perusing her epistle, Josh’s troop-Captain whistled plaintively.For the crime of getting married “off the strength” was in thosedays, as it is in these, the blackest sin upon the soldier’s list ofminor offenses. Confronted with a problem of no ordinary toughness,the Captain betook himself and his difficulty to the Adjutant, anelderly off