St. Ives: Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England (2024)

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Title: St. Ives: Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Release date: September 1, 1995 [eBook #322]
Most recently updated: October 30, 2010

Language: English


Transcribed 1898 William Heinemann edition by David Price,email


The Adventures of a FrenchPrisoner
in England


Robert Louis Stevenson


William Heinemann

p. ivFirstEdition, May 5, 1897; Reprinted May 6, 1897

All rights reserved

The following tale was taken down from Mr.Stevenson’s dictation by his stepdaughter andamanuensis, Mrs. Strong, at intervals betweenJanuary 1893 and October 1894 (see VailimaLetters, pp. 242–246, 299, 324 and350). About six weeks before his death he laid the storyaside to take up Weir of Hermiston. The thirtychapters of St. Ives which he had written (the lastfew of them apparently unrevised) brought the tale withinsight of its conclusion, and the intended course of theremainder was known in outline to Mrs. Strong. Forthe benefit of those readers who do not like a story to be leftunfinished, the delicate task of supplying the missingchapters has been entrusted to Mr. Quiller-Couch, whosework begins at Chap. XXXI. [0]

[S. C.]


It was in the month of May 1813 that I was so unlucky as tofall at last into the hands of the enemy. My knowledge ofthe English language had marked me out for a certainemployment. Though I cannot conceive a soldier refusing toincur the risk, yet to be hanged for a spy is a disgustingbusiness; and I was relieved to be held a prisoner of war.Into the Castle of Edinburgh, standing in the midst of that cityon the summit of an extraordinary rock, I was cast with severalhundred fellow-sufferers, all privates like myself, and the morepart of them, by an accident, very ignorant, plain fellows.My English, which had brought me into that scrape, now helped mevery materially to bear it. I had a thousandadvantages. I was often called to play the part of aninterpreter, whether of orders or complaints, and thus brought inrelations, sometimes of mirth, sometimes almost of friendship,with the officers in charge. A young lieutenant singled meout to be his adversary at chess, a game in which I was extremelyproficient, and would reward me for my gambits with excellentcigars. The major of the battalion took lessons of Frenchfrom me while at breakfast, and was sometimes so obliging as tohave me join him at the meal. Chevenix was his name.He was stiff as a drum-major and selfish as an Englishman, but afairly conscientious pupil and a fairly upright man. Littledid I suppose that his ramrod body and frozen face would, in theend, step in between me and all my dearest wishes; that upon thisprecise, regular, icy soldier-man my fortunes should so nearlyshipwreck! I never liked, but yet I trusted him; and thoughit may seem but a trifle, I found his snuff-box with the bean init come very welcome.

For it is strange how grown men and seasoned soldiers can goback in life; so that after but a little while in prison, whichis after all the next thing to being in the nursery, they growabsorbed in the most pitiful, childish interests, and a sugarbiscuit or a pinch of snuff become things to follow after andscheme for!

We made but a poor show of prisoners. The officers hadbeen all offered their parole, and had taken it. They livedmostly in suburbs of the city, lodging with modest families, andenjoyed their freedom and supported the almost continual eviltidings of the Emperor as best they might. It chanced I wasthe only gentleman among the privates who remained. A greatpart were ignorant Italians, of a regiment that had sufferedheavily in Catalonia. The rest were mere diggers of thesoil, treaders of grapes or hewers of wood, who had been suddenlyand violently preferred to the glorious state of soldiers.We had but the one interest in common: each of us who had anyskill with his fingers passed the hours of his captivity in themaking of little toys and articles of Paris; and theprison was daily visited at certain hours by a concourse ofpeople of the country, come to exult over our distress,or—it is more tolerant to suppose—their own vicarioustriumph. Some moved among us with a decency of shame orsympathy. Others were the most offensive personages in theworld, gaped at us as if we had been baboons, sought toevangelise us to their rustic, northern religion, as though wehad been savages, or tortured us with intelligence of disastersto the arms of France. Good, bad, and indifferent, therewas one alleviation to the annoyance of these visitors; for itwas the practice of almost all to purchase some specimen of ourrude handiwork. This led, amongst the prisoners, to astrong spirit of competition. Some were neat of hand, and(the genius of the French being always distinguished) could placeupon sale little miracles of dexterity and taste. Some hada more engaging appearance; fine features were found to do aswell as fine merchandise, and an air of youth in particular (asit appealed to the sentiment of pity in our visitors) to be asource of profit. Others again enjoyed some acquaintancewith the language, and were able to recommend the more agreeablyto purchasers such trifles as they had to sell. To thefirst of these advantages I could lay no claim, for my fingerswere all thumbs. Some at least of the others I possessed;and finding much entertainment in our commerce, I did not suffermy advantages to rust. I have never despised the socialarts, in which it is a national boast that every Frenchman shouldexcel. For the approach of particular sorts of visitors, Ihad a particular manner of address, and even of appearance, whichI could readily assume and change on the occasion rising. Inever lost an opportunity to flatter either the person of myvisitor, if it should be a lady, or, if it should be a man, thegreatness of his country in war. And in case my complimentsshould miss their aim, I was always ready to cover my retreatwith some agreeable pleasantry, which would often earn me thename of an ‘oddity’ or a ‘drollfellow.’ In this way, although I was so left-handed atoy-maker, I made out to be rather a successful merchant; andfound means to procure many little delicacies and alleviations,such as children or prisoners desire.

I am scarcely drawing the portrait of a very melancholyman. It is not indeed my character; and I had, in acomparison with my comrades, many reasons for content. Inthe first place, I had no family: I was an orphan and a bachelor;neither wife nor child awaited me in France. In the second,I had never wholly forgot the emotions with which I first foundmyself a prisoner; and although a military prison be notaltogether a garden of delights, it is still preferable to agallows. In the third, I am almost ashamed to say it, but Ifound a certain pleasure in our place of residence: being anobsolete and really mediaeval fortress, high placed andcommanding extraordinary prospects, not only over sea, mountain,and champaign but actually over the thoroughfares of a capitalcity, which we could see blackened by day with the moving crowdof the inhabitants, and at night shining with lamps. Andlastly, although I was not insensible to the restraints of prisonor the scantiness of our rations, I remembered I had sometimeseaten quite as ill in Spain, and had to mount guard and marchperhaps a dozen leagues into the bargain. The first of mytroubles, indeed, was the costume we were obliged to wear.There is a horrible practice in England to trick out inridiculous uniforms, and as it were to brand in mass, not onlyconvicts but military prisoners, and even the children in charityschools. I think some malignant genius had found hismasterpiece of irony in the dress which we were condemned towear: jacket, waistcoat, and trousers of a sulphur or mustardyellow, and a shirt or blue-and-white striped cotton. Itwas conspicuous, it was cheap, it pointed us out tolaughter—we, who were old soldiers, used to arms, and someof us showing noble scars,—like a set of lugubrious zaniesat a fair. The old name of that rock on which our prisonstood was (I have heard since then) the PaintedHill. Well, now it was all painted a bright yellow withour costumes; and the dress of the soldiers who guarded us beingof course the essential British red rag, we made up together theelements of a lively picture of hell. I have again andagain looked round upon my fellow-prisoners, and felt my angerrise, and choked upon tears, to behold them thus parodied.The more part, as I have said, were peasants, somewhat betteredperhaps by the drill-sergeant, but for all that ungainly, loutishfellows, with no more than a mere barrack-room smartness ofaddress: indeed, you could have seen our army nowhere morediscreditably represented than in this Castle of Edinburgh.And I used to see myself in fancy, and blush. It seemedthat my more elegant carriage would but point the insult of thetravesty. And I remembered the days when I wore the coarsebut honourable coat of a soldier; and remembered further back howmany of the noble, the fair, and the gracious had taken a delightto tend my childhood. . . . But I must not recall thesetender and sorrowful memories twice; their place is further on,and I am now upon another business. The perfidy of theBritannic Government stood nowhere more openly confessed than inone particular of our discipline: that we were shaved twice inthe week. To a man who has loved all his life to be freshshaven, can a more irritating indignity be devised? Mondayand Thursday were the days. Take the Thursday, and conceivethe picture I must present by Sunday evening! And Saturday,which was almost as bad, was the great day for visitors.

Those who came to our market were of all qualities, men andwomen, the lean and the stout, the plain and the fairlypretty. Sure, if people at all understood the power ofbeauty, there would be no prayers addressed except to Venus; andthe mere privilege of beholding a comely woman is worth payingfor. Our visitors, upon the whole, were not much to boastof; and yet, sitting in a corner and very much ashamed of myselfand my absurd appearance, I have again and again tasted thefinest, the rarest, and the most ethereal pleasures in a glanceof an eye that I should never see again—and never wantedto. The flower of the hedgerow and the star in heavensatisfy and delight us: how much more the look of that exquisitebeing who was created to bear and rear, to madden and rejoice,mankind!

There was one young lady in particular, about eighteen ornineteen, tall, of a gallant carriage, and with a profusion ofhair in which the sun found threads of gold. As soon as shecame in the courtyard (and she was a rather frequent visitor) itseemed I was aware of it. She had an air of angeliccandour, yet of a high spirit; she stepped like a Diana, everymovement was noble and free. One day there was a strongeast wind; the banner was straining at the flagstaff; below usthe smoke of the city chimneys blew hither and thither in athousand crazy variations; and away out on the Forth we could seethe ships lying down to it and scudding. I was thinkingwhat a vile day it was, when she appeared. Her hair blew inthe wind with changes of colour; her garments moulded her withthe accuracy of sculpture; the ends of her shawl fluttered abouther ear and were caught in again with an inimitabledeftness. You have seen a pool on a gusty day, how itsuddenly sparkles and flashes like a thing alive? So thislady’s face had become animated and coloured; and as I sawher standing, somewhat inclined, her lips parted, a divinetrouble in her eyes, I could have clapped my hands in applause,and was ready to acclaim her a genuine daughter of thewinds. What put it in my head, I know not: perhaps becauseit was a Thursday and I was new from the razor; but I determinedto engage her attention no later than that day. She wasapproaching that part of the court in which I sat with mymerchandise, when I observed her handkerchief to escape from herhands and fall to the ground; the next moment the wind had takenit up and carried it within my reach. I was on foot atonce: I had forgot my mustard-coloured clothes, I had forgot theprivate soldier and his salute. Bowing deeply, I offeredher the slip of cambric.

‘Madam,’ said I, ‘your handkerchief.The wind brought it me.’

I met her eyes fully.

‘I thank you, sir,’ said she.

‘The wind brought it me,’ I repeated.‘May I not take it for an omen? You have an Englishproverb, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobodygood.”’

‘Well,’ she said, with a smile, ‘“Onegood turn deserves another.” I will see what youhave.’

She followed me to where my wares were spread out under lee ofa piece of cannon.

‘Alas, mademoiselle!’ said I, ‘I am no veryperfect craftsman. This is supposed to be a house, and yousee the chimneys are awry. You may call this a box if youare very indulgent; but see where my tool slipped! Yes, Iam afraid you may go from one to another, and find a flaw ineverything. Failures for Sale should be on mysignboard. I do not keep a shop; I keep a HumorousMuseum.’ I cast a smiling glance about my display,and then at her, and instantly became grave.‘Strange, is it not,’ I added, ‘that a grownman and a soldier should be engaged upon such trash, and a sadheart produce anything so funny to look at?’

An unpleasant voice summoned her at this moment by the name ofFlora, and she made a hasty purchase and rejoined her party.

A few days after she came again. But I must first tellyou how she came to be so frequent. Her aunt was one ofthose terrible British old maids, of which the world has heardmuch; and having nothing whatever to do, and a word or two ofFrench, she had taken what she called an interest in theFrench prisoners. A big, bustling, bold old lady, sheflounced about our market-place with insufferable airs ofpatronage and condescension. She bought, indeed, withliberality, but her manner of studying us through aquizzing-glass, and playing cicerone to her followers, acquittedus of any gratitude. She had a tail behind her of heavy,obsequious old gentlemen, or dull, giggling misses, to whom sheappeared to be an oracle. ‘This one can really carveprettily: is he not a quiz with his big whiskers?’ shewould say. ‘And this one,’ indicating myselfwith her gold eye-glass, ‘is, I assure you, quite anoddity.’ The oddity, you may be certain, ground histeeth. She had a way of standing in our midst, noddingaround, and addressing us in what she imagined to be French:‘Bienne, hommes! ça vabienne?’ I took the freedom to reply in the samelingo: Bienne, femme! ça va couci-coucitout d’même, la bourgeoise!’And at that, when we had all laughed with a little moreheartiness than was entirely civil, ‘I told you he wasquite an oddity!’ says she in triumph. Needless tosay, these passages were before I had remarked the niece.

The aunt came on the day in question with a following rathermore than usually large, which she manoeuvred to and fro aboutthe market and lectured to at rather more than usual length, andwith rather less than her accustomed tact. I kept my eyesdown, but they were ever fixed in the same direction, quite invain. The aunt came and went, and pulled us out, and showedus off, like caged monkeys; but the niece kept herself on theoutskirts of the crowd and on the opposite side of the courtyard,and departed at last as she had come, without a sign.Closely as I had watched her, I could not say her eyes had everrested on me for an instant; and my heart was overwhelmed withbitterness and blackness. I tore out her detested image; Ifelt I was done with her for ever; I laughed at myself savagely,because I had thought to please; when I lay down at night sleepforsook me, and I lay, and rolled, and gloated on her charms, andcursed her insensibility, for half the night. How trivial Ithought her! and how trivial her sex! A man might be anangel or an Apollo, and a mustard-coloured coat would whollyblind them to his merits. I was a prisoner, a slave, acontemned and despicable being, the butt of her snigg*ringcountrymen. I would take the lesson: no proud daughter ofmy foes should have the chance to mock at me again; none in thefuture should have the chance to think I had looked at her withadmiration. You cannot imagine any one of a more resoluteand independent spirit, or whose bosom was more wholly mailedwith patriotic arrogance, than I. Before I dropped asleep,I had remembered all the infamies of Britain, and debited them inan overwhelming column to Flora.

The next day, as I sat in my place, I became conscious therewas some one standing near; and behold, it was herself! Ikept my seat, at first in the confusion of my mind, later on frompolicy; and she stood, and leaned a little over me, as inpity. She was very still and timid; her voice waslow. Did I suffer in my captivity? she asked me. HadI to complain of any hardship?

‘Mademoiselle, I have not learned to complain,’said I. ‘I am a soldier of Napoleon.’

She sighed. ‘At least you must regret LaFrance,’ said she, and coloured a little as shepronounced the words, which she did with a pretty strangeness ofaccent.

‘What am I to say?’ I replied. ‘If youwere carried from this country, for which you seem so whollysuited, where the very rains and winds seem to become you likeornaments, would you regret, do you think? We must surelyall regret! the son to his mother, the man to his country; theseare native feelings.’

‘You have a mother?’ she asked.

‘In heaven, mademoiselle,’ I answered.‘She, and my father also, went by the same road to heavenas so many others of the fair and brave: they followed theirqueen upon the scaffold. So, you see, I am not so much tobe pitied in my prison,’ I continued: ‘there are noneto wait for me; I am alone in the world. ’Tis adifferent case, for instance, with yon poor fellow in the clothcap. His bed is next to mine, and in the night I hear himsobbing to himself. He has a tender character, full oftender and pretty sentiments; and in the dark at night, andsometimes by day when he can get me apart with him, he laments amother and a sweetheart. Do you know what made him take mefor a confidant?’

She parted her lips with a look, but did not speak. Thelook burned all through me with a sudden vital heat.

‘Because I had once seen, in marching by, the belfry ofhis village!’ I continued. ‘The circ*mstance isquaint enough. It seems to bind up into one the wholebundle of those human instincts that make life beautiful, andpeople and places dear—and from which it would seem I amcut off!’

I rested my chin on my knee and looked before me on theground. I had been talking until then to hold her; but Iwas now not sorry she should go: an impression is a thing sodelicate to produce and so easy to overthrow! Presently sheseemed to make an effort.

‘I will take this toy,’ she said, laid afive-and-sixpenny piece in my hand, and was gone ere I couldthank her.

I retired to a place apart near the ramparts and behind agun. The beauty, the expression of her eyes, the tear thathad trembled there, the compassion in her voice, and a kind ofwild elegance that consecrated the freedom of her movements, allcombined to enslave my imagination and inflame my heart.What had she said? Nothing to signify; but her eyes had metmine, and the fire they had kindled burned inextinguishably in myveins. I loved her; and I did not fear to hope. TwiceI had spoken with her; and in both interviews I had been wellinspired, I had engaged her sympathies, I had found words thatshe must remember, that would ring in her ears at night upon herbed. What mattered if I were half shaved and my clothes acaricature? I was still a man, and I had drawn my image onher memory. I was still a man, and, as I trembled torealise, she was still a woman. Many waters cannot quenchlove; and love, which is the law of the world, was on myside. I closed my eyes, and she sprang up on the backgroundof the darkness, more beautiful than in life.‘Ah!’ thought I, ‘and you too, my dear, you toomust carry away with you a picture, that you are still to beholdagain and still to embellish. In the darkness of night, inthe streets by day, still you are to have my voice and face,whispering, making love for me, encroaching on your shyheart. Shy as your heart is, it is lodgedthere—I am lodged there; let the hours do theiroffice—let time continue to draw me ever in more lively,ever in more insidious colours.’ And then I had avision of myself, and burst out laughing.

A likely thing, indeed, that a beggar-man, a private soldier,a prisoner in a yellow travesty, was to awake the interest ofthis fair girl! I would not despair; but I saw the gamemust be played fine and close. It must be my policy to holdmyself before her, always in a pathetic or pleasing attitude;never to alarm or startle her; to keep my own secret locked in mybosom like a story of disgrace, and let hers (if she could beinduced to have one) grow at its own rate; to move just so fast,and not by a hair’s-breadth any faster, than theinclination of her heart. I was the man, and yet I waspassive, tied by the foot in prison. I could not go to her;I must cast a spell upon her at each visit, so that she shouldreturn to me; and this was a matter of nice management. Ihad done it the last time—it seemed impossible she shouldnot come again after our interview; and for the next I hadspeedily ripened a fresh plan. A prisoner, if he has onegreat disability for a lover, has yet one considerable advantage:there is nothing to distract him, and he can spend all his hoursripening his love and preparing its manifestations. I hadbeen then some days upon a piece of carving,—no less thanthe emblem of Scotland, the Lion Rampant. This I proceededto finish with what skill I was possessed of; and when at last Icould do no more to it (and, you may be sure, was alreadyregretting I had done so much), added on the base the followingdedication.—

le prisonnier reconnaissant
A. d. St. Y. d. K.

I put my heart into the carving of these letters. Whatwas done with so much ardour, it seemed scarce possible that anyshould behold with indifference; and the initials would at leastsuggest to her my noble birth. I thought it better tosuggest: I felt that mystery was my stock-in-trade; the contrastbetween my rank and manners, between my speech and my clothing,and the fact that she could only think of me by a combination ofletters, must all tend to increase her interest and engage herheart.

This done, there was nothing left for me but to wait and tohope. And there is nothing further from my character: inlove and in war, I am all for the forward movement; and thesedays of waiting made my purgatory. It is a fact that Iloved her a great deal better at the end of them, for love comes,like bread, from a perpetual rehandling. And besides, I wasfallen into a panic of fear. How, if she came no more, howwas I to continue to endure my empty days? how was I to fall backand find my interest in the major’s lessons, thelieutenant’s chess, in a twopenny sale in the market, or ahalfpenny addition to the prison fare?

Days went by, and weeks; I had not the courage to calculate,and to-day I have not the courage to remember; but at last shewas there. At last I saw her approach me in the company ofa boy about her own age, and whom I divined at once to be herbrother.

I rose and bowed in silence.

‘This is my brother, Mr. Ronald Gilchrist,’ saidshe. ‘I have told him of your sufferings. He isso sorry for you!’

‘It is more than I have the right to ask,’ Ireplied; ‘but among gentlefolk these generous sentimentsare natural. If your brother and I were to meet in thefield, we should meet like tigers; but when he sees me heredisarmed and helpless, he forgets his animosity.’ (Atwhich, as I had ventured to expect, this beardless championcoloured to the ears for pleasure.) ‘Ah, my dearyoung lady,’ I continued, ‘there are many of yourcountrymen languishing in my country, even as I do here. Ican but hope there is found some French lady to convey to each ofthem the priceless consolation of her sympathy. You havegiven me alms; and more than alms—hope; and while you wereabsent I was not forgetful. Suffer me to be able to tellmyself that I have at least tried to make a return; and for theprisoner’s sake deign to accept this trifle.’

So saying, I offered her my lion, which she took, looked at insome embarrassment, and then, catching sight of the dedication,broke out with a cry.

‘Why, how did you know my name?’ sheexclaimed.

‘When names are so appropriate, they should be easilyguessed,’ said I, bowing. ‘But indeed, therewas no magic in the matter. A lady called you by name onthe day I found your handkerchief, and I was quick to remark andcherish it.’

‘It is very, very beautiful,’ said she, ‘andI shall be always proud of the inscription.—Come, Ronald,we must be going.’ She bowed to me as a lady bows toher equal, and passed on (I could have sworn) with a heightenedcolour.

I was overjoyed: my innocent ruse had succeeded; she had takenmy gift without a hint of payment, and she would scarce sleep inpeace till she had made it up to me. No greenhorn inmatters of the heart, I was besides aware that I had now aresident ambassador at the court of my lady. The lion mightbe ill chiselled; it was mine. My hands had made and heldit; my knife—or, to speak more by the mark, my rustynail—had traced those letters; and simple as the wordswere, they would keep repeating to her that I was grateful andthat I found her fair. The boy had looked like a gawky, andblushed at a compliment; I could see besides that he regarded mewith considerable suspicion; yet he made so manly a figure of alad, that I could not withhold from him my sympathy. And asfor the impulse that had made her bring and introduce him, Icould not sufficiently admire it. It seemed to me finerthan wit, and more tender than a caress. It said (plain aslanguage), ‘I do not and I cannot know you. Here ismy brother—you can know him; this is the way tome—follow it.’


I was still plunged in these thoughts when the bell was rungthat discharged our visitors into the street. Our littlemarket was no sooner closed than we were summoned to thedistribution, and received our rations, which we were thenallowed to eat according to fancy in any part of ourquarters.

I have said the conduct of some of our visitors was unbearablyoffensive; it was possibly more so than they dreamed—as thesight-seers at a menagerie may offend in a thousand ways, andquite without meaning it, the noble and unfortunate animalsbehind the bars; and there is no doubt but some of my compatriotswere susceptible beyond reason. Some of these oldwhiskerandos, originally peasants, trained since boyhood invictorious armies, and accustomed to move among subject andtrembling populations, could ill brook their change ofcirc*mstance. There was one man of the name of Goguelat, abrute of the first water, who had enjoyed no touch ofcivilisation beyond the military discipline, and had risen by anextreme heroism of bravery to a grade for which he was otherwiseunfitted—that of maréchal des logis in the22nd of the line. In so far as a brute can be a goodsoldier, he was a good soldier; the Cross was on his breast, andgallantly earned; but in all things outside his line of duty theman was no other than a brawling, bruising ignorant pillar of lowpothouses. As a gentleman by birth, and a scholar by tasteand education, I was the type of all that he least understood andmost detested; and the mere view of our visitors would leave himdaily in a transport of annoyance, which he would make haste towreak on the nearest victim, and too often on myself.

It was so now. Our rations were scarce served out, and Ihad just withdrawn into a corner of the yard, when I perceivedhim drawing near. He wore an air of hateful mirth; a set ofyoung fools, among whom he passed for a wit, followed him withlooks of expectation; and I saw I was about to be the object ofsome of his insufferable pleasantries. He took a placebeside me, spread out his rations, drank to me derisively fromhis measure of prison beer, and began. What he said itwould be impossible to print; but his admirers, who believedtheir wit to have surpassed himself, actually rolled among thegravel. For my part, I thought at first I should havedied. I had not dreamed the wretch was so observant; buthate sharpens the ears, and he had counted our interviews andactually knew Flora by her name. Gradually my coolnessreturned to me, accompanied by a volume of living anger thatsurprised myself.

‘Are you nearly done?’ I asked.‘Because if you are, I am about to say a word or twomyself.’

‘Oh, fair play!’ said he. ‘Turnabout! The Marquis of Carabas to the tribune.’

‘Very well,’ said I. ‘I have to informyou that I am a gentleman. You do not know what that means,hey? Well, I will tell you. It is a comical sort ofanimal; springs from another strange set of creatures they callancestors; and, in common with toads and other vermin, has athing that he calls feelings. The lion is a gentleman; hewill not touch carrion. I am a gentleman, and I cannot bearto soil my fingers with such a lump of dirt. Sit still,Philippe Goguelat! sit still and do not say a word, or I shallknow you are a coward; the eyes of our guards are upon us.Here is your health!’ said I, and pledged him in the prisonbeer. ‘You have chosen to speak in a certain way of ayoung child,’ I continued, ‘who might be yourdaughter, and who was giving alms to me and some others of usmendicants. If theEmperor’—saluting—‘if my Emperor couldhear you, he would pluck off the Cross from your grossbody. I cannot do that; I cannot take away what His Majestyhas given; but one thing I promise you—I promise you,Goguelat, you shall be dead to-night.’

I had borne so much from him in the past, I believe he thoughtthere was no end to my forbearance, and he was at firstamazed. But I have the pleasure to think that some of myexpressions had pierced through his thick hide; and besides, thebrute was truly a hero of valour, and loved fighting foritself. Whatever the cause, at least, he had soon pulledhimself together, and took the thing (to do him justice)handsomely.

‘And I promise you, by the devil’s horns, that youshall have the chance!’ said he, and pledged me again; andagain I did him scrupulous honour.

The news of this defiance spread from prisoner to prisonerwith the speed of wings; every face was seen to be illuminatedlike those of the spectators at a horse-race; and indeed you mustfirst have tasted the active life of a soldier, and thenmouldered for a while in the tedium of a jail, in order tounderstand, perhaps even to excuse, the delight of ourcompanions. Goguelat and I slept in the same squad, whichgreatly simplified the business; and a committee of honour wasaccordingly formed of our shed-mates. They chose forpresident a sergeant-major in the 4th Dragoons, a greybeard ofthe army, an excellent military subject, and a good man. Hetook the most serious view of his functions, visited us both, andreported our replies to the committee. Mine was of a decentfirmness. I told him the young lady of whom Goguelat hadspoken had on several occasions given me alms. I remindedhim that, if we were now reduced to hold out our hands and sellpill-boxes for charity, it was something very new for soldiers ofthe Empire. We had all seen bandits standing at a corner ofa wood truckling for copper halfpence, and after theirbenefactors were gone spitting out injuries and curses.‘But,’ said I, ‘I trust that none of us willfall so low. As a Frenchman and a soldier, I owe that youngchild gratitude, and am bound to protect her character, and tosupport that of the army. You are my elder and my superior:tell me if I am not right.’

He was a quiet-mannered old fellow, and patted me with threefingers on the back. ‘C’est bien, monenfant,’ says he, and returned to his committee.

Goguelat was no more accommodating than myself. ‘Ido not like apologies nor those that make them,’ was hisonly answer. And there remained nothing but to arrange thedetails of the meeting. So far as regards place and time wehad no choice; we must settle the dispute at night, in the dark,after a round had passed by, and in the open middle of the shedunder which we slept. The question of arms was moreobscure. We had a good many tools, indeed, which weemployed in the manufacture of our toys; but they were none ofthem suited for a single combat between civilised men, and, beingnondescript, it was found extremely hard to equalise the chancesof the combatants. At length a pair of scissors wasunscrewed; and a couple of tough wands being found in a corner ofthe courtyard, one blade of the scissors was lashed solidly toeach with resined twine—the twine coming I know not whence,but the resin from the green pillars of the shed, which stillsweated from the axe. It was a strange thing to feel inone’s hand this weapon, which was no heavier than ariding-rod, and which it was difficult to suppose would provemore dangerous. A general oath was administered and taken,that no one should interfere in the duel nor (suppose it toresult seriously) betray the name of the survivor. And withthat, all being then ready, we composed ourselves to await themoment.

The evening fell cloudy; not a star was to be seen when thefirst round of the night passed through our shed and wound offalong the ramparts; and as we took our places, we could stillhear, over the murmurs of the surrounding city, the sentrieschallenging its further passage. Leclos, thesergeant-major, set us in our stations, engaged our wands, andleft us. To avoid blood-stained clothing, my adversary andI had stripped to the shoes; and the chill of the night envelopedour bodies like a wet sheet. The man was better at fencingthan myself; he was vastly taller than I, being of a staturealmost gigantic, and proportionately strong. In the inkyblackness of the shed, it was impossible to see his eyes; andfrom the suppleness of the wands, I did not like to trust to aparade. I made up my mind accordingly to profit, if Imight, by my defect; and as soon as the signal should be given,to throw myself down and lunge at the same moment. It wasto play my life upon one card: should I not mortally wound him,no defence would be left me; what was yet more appalling, I thusran the risk of bringing my own face against his scissor with thedouble force of our assaults, and my face and eyes are not thatpart of me that I would the most readily expose.

Allez!’ said the sergeant-major.

Both lunged in the same moment with an equal fury, and but formy manoeuvre both had certainly been spitted. As it was, hedid no more than strike my shoulder, while my scissor plungedbelow the girdle into a mortal part; and that great bulk of aman, falling from his whole height, knocked me immediatelysenseless.

When I came to myself I was laid in my own sleeping-place, andcould make out in the darkness the outline of perhaps a dozenheads crowded around me. I sat up. ‘What isit?’ I exclaimed.

‘Hush!’ said the sergeant-major.‘Blessed be God, all is well.’ I felt him claspmy hand, and there were tears in his voice.‘’Tis but a scratch, my child; here is papa, who istaking good care of you. Your shoulder is bound up; we havedressed you in your clothes again, and it will all bewell.’

At this I began to remember. ‘And Goguelat?’I gasped.

‘He cannot bear to be moved; he has his bellyful;’tis a bad business,’ said the sergeant-major.

The idea of having killed a man with such an instrument ashalf a pair of scissors seemed to turn my stomach. I amsure I might have killed a dozen with a firelock, a sabre, abayonet, or any accepted weapon, and been visited by no suchsickness of remorse. And to this feeling every unusualcirc*mstance of our rencounter, the darkness in which we hadfought, our nakedness, even the resin on the twine, appeared tocontribute. I ran to my fallen adversary, kneeled by him,and could only sob his name.

He bade me compose myself. ‘You have given me thekey of the fields, comrade,’ said he. ‘Sansrancune!’

At this my horror redoubled. Here had we two expatriatedFrenchmen engaged in an ill-regulated combat like the battles ofbeasts. Here was he, who had been all his life so great aruffian, dying in a foreign land of this ignoble injury, andmeeting death with something of the spirit of a Bayard. Iinsisted that the guards should be summoned and a doctorbrought. ‘It may still be possible to savehim,’ I cried.

The sergeant-major reminded me of our engagement.‘If you had been wounded,’ said he, ‘you musthave lain there till the patrol came by and found you. Ithappens to be Goguelat—and so must he! Come, child,time to go to by-by.’ And as I still resisted,‘Champdivers!’ he said, ‘this isweakness. You pain me.’

‘Ay, off to your beds with you!’ said Goguelat,and named us in a company with one of his jovial grossepithets.

Accordingly the squad lay down in the dark and simulated, whatthey certainly were far from experiencing, sleep. It wasnot yet late. The city, from far below, and all around us,sent up a sound of wheels and feet and lively voices. Yetawhile, and the curtain of the cloud was rent across, and in thespace of sky between the eaves of the shed and the irregularoutline of the ramparts a multitude of stars appeared.Meantime, in the midst of us lay Goguelat, and could not alwayswithhold himself from groaning.

We heard the round far off; heard it draw slowly nearer.Last of all, it turned the corner and moved into our field ofvision: two file of men and a corporal with a lantern, which heswung to and fro, so as to cast its light in the recesses of theyards and sheds.

‘Hullo!’ cried the corporal, pausing as he came byGoguelat.

He stooped with his lantern. All our hearts wereflying.

‘What devil’s work is this?’ he cried, andwith a startling voice summoned the guard.

We were all afoot upon the instant; more lanterns and soldierscrowded in front of the shed; an officer elbowed his wayin. In the midst was the big naked body, soiled withblood. Some one had covered him with his blanket; but as helay there in agony, he had partly thrown it off.

‘This is murder!’ cried the officer.‘You wild beasts, you will hear of thisto-morrow.’

As Goguelat was raised and laid upon a stretcher, he cried tous a cheerful and blasphemous farewell.


There was never any talk of a recovery, and no time was lostin getting the man’s deposition. He gave but the oneaccount of it: that he had committed suicide because he was sickof seeing so many Englishmen. The doctor vowed it wasimpossible, the nature and direction of the wound forbiddingit. Goguelat replied that he was more ingenious than theother thought for, and had propped up the weapon in the groundand fallen on the point—‘just likeNebuchadnezzar,’ he added, winking to the assistants.The doctor, who was a little, spruce, ruddy man of an impatienttemper, pished and pshawed and swore over his patient.‘Nothing to be made of him!’ he cried. ‘Aperfect heathen. If we could only find theweapon!’ But the weapon had ceased to exist. Alittle resined twine was perhaps blowing about in the castlegutters; some bits of broken stick may have trailed in corners;and behold, in the pleasant air of the morning, a dandy prisonertrimming his nails with a pair of scissors!

Finding the wounded man so firm, you may be sure theauthorities did not leave the rest of us in peace. No stonewas left unturned. We were had in again and again to beexamined, now singly, now in twos and threes. We werethreatened with all sorts of impossible severities and temptedwith all manner of improbable rewards. I suppose I was fivetimes interrogated, and came off from each with flyingcolours. I am like old Souvaroff, I cannot understand asoldier being taken aback by any question; he should answer, ashe marches on the fire, with an instant briskness andgaiety. I may have been short of bread, gold or grace; Iwas never yet found wanting in an answer. My comrades, ifthey were not all so ready, were none of them less staunch; and Imay say here at once that the inquiry came to nothing at thetime, and the death of Goguelat remained a mystery of theprison. Such were the veterans of France! And yet Ishould be disingenuous if I did not own this was a case apart; inordinary circ*mstances, some one might have stumbled or beenintimidated into an admission; and what bound us together with acloseness beyond that of mere comrades was a secret to which wewere all committed and a design in which all were equallyengaged. No need to inquire as to its nature: there is onlyone desire, and only one kind of design, that blooms inprisons. And the fact that our tunnel was near donesupported and inspired us.

I came off in public, as I have said, with flying colours; thesittings of the court of inquiry died away like a tune that noone listens to; and yet I was unmasked—I, whom my veryadversary defended, as good as confessed, as good as told thenature of the quarrel, and by so doing prepared for myself in thefuture a most anxious, disagreeable adventure. It was thethird morning after the duel, and Goguelat was still in life,when the time came round for me to give Major Chevenix alesson. I was fond of this occupation; not that he paid memuch—no more, indeed, than eighteenpence a month, thecustomary figure, being a miser in the grain; but because I likedhis breakfasts and (to some extent) himself. At least, hewas a man of education; and of the others with whom I had anyopportunity of speech, those that would not have held a bookupsidedown would have torn the pages out for pipe-lights.For I must repeat again that our body of prisoners wasexceptional: there was in Edinburgh Castle none of thateducational busyness that distinguished some of the otherprisons, so that men entered them unable to read, and left themfit for high employments. Chevenix was handsome, andsurprisingly young to be a major: six feet in his stockings, wellset up, with regular features and very clear grey eyes. Itwas impossible to pick a fault in him, and yet the sum-total wasdispleasing. Perhaps he was too clean; he seemed to bearabout with him the smell of soap. Cleanliness is good, butI cannot bear a man’s nails to seem japanned. Andcertainly he was too self-possessed and cold. There wasnone of the fire of youth, none of the swiftness of the soldier,in this young officer. His kindness was cold, and cruelcold; his deliberation exasperating. And perhaps it wasfrom this character, which is very much the opposite of my own,that even in these days, when he was of service to me, Iapproached him with suspicion and reserve.

I looked over his exercise in the usual form, and marked sixfaults.

‘H’m. Six,’ says he, looking at thepaper. ‘Very annoying! I can never get itright.’

‘Oh, but you make excellent progress!’ Isaid. I would not discourage him, you understand, but hewas congenitally unable to learn French. Some fire, Ithink, is needful, and he had quenched his fire in soapsuds.

He put the exercise down, leaned his chin upon his hand, andlooked at me with clear, severe eyes.

‘I think we must have a little talk,’ said he.

‘I am entirely at your disposition,’ I replied;but I quaked, for I knew what subject to expect.

‘You have been some time giving me these lessons,’he went on, ‘and I am tempted to think rather well ofyou. I believe you are a gentleman.’

‘I have that honour, sir,’ said I.

‘You have seen me for the same period. I do notknow how I strike you; but perhaps you will be prepared tobelieve that I also am a man of honour,’ said he.

‘I require no assurances; the thing is manifest,’and I bowed.

‘Very well, then,’ said he. ‘Whatabout this Goguelat?’

‘You heard me yesterday before the court,’ Ibegan. ‘I was awakened only—’

‘Oh yes; I “heard you yesterday before thecourt,” no doubt,’ he interrupted, ‘and Iremember perfectly that you were “awakenedonly.” I could repeat the most of it by rote,indeed. But do you suppose that I believed you for amoment?’

‘Neither would you believe me if I were to repeat ithere,’ said I.

‘I may be wrong—we shall soon see,’ says he;‘but my impression is that you will not “repeat ithere.” My impression is that you have come into thisroom, and that you will tell me something before you goout.’

I shrugged my shoulders.

‘Let me explain,’ he continued. ‘Yourevidence, of course, is nonsense. I put it by, and thecourt put it by.’

‘My compliments and thanks!’ said I.

‘You must know—that’s the short andthe long,’ he proceeded. ‘All of you in shed Bare bound to know. And I want to ask you where is thecommon-sense of keeping up this farce, and maintaining thisco*ck-and-bull story between friends. Come, come, my goodfellow, own yourself beaten, and laugh at it yourself.’

‘Well, I hear you, go ahead,’ said I.‘You put your heart in it.’

He crossed his legs slowly. ‘I can very wellunderstand,’ he began, ‘that precautions have had tobe taken. I dare say an oath was administered. I cancomprehend that perfectly.’ (He was watching me allthe time with his cold, bright eyes.) ‘And I cancomprehend that, about an affair of honour, you would be veryparticular to keep it.’

‘About an affair of honour?’ I repeated, like aman quite puzzled.

‘It was not an affair of honour, then?’ heasked.

‘What was not? I do not follow,’ said I.

He gave no sign of impatience; simply sat awhile silent, andbegan again in the same placid and good-natured voice: ‘Thecourt and I were at one in setting aside your evidence. Itcould not deceive a child. But there was a differencebetween myself and the other officers, because I knew myman and they did not. They saw in you a common soldier,and I knew you for a gentleman. To them your evidence was aleash of lies, which they yawned to hear you telling. Now,I was asking myself, how far will a gentleman go? Notsurely so far as to help hush a murder up? Sothat—when I heard you tell how you knew nothing of thematter, and were only awakened by the corporal, and all the restof it—I translated your statements into somethingelse. Now, Champdivers,’ he cried, springing uplively and coming towards me with animation, ‘I am going totell you what that was, and you are going to help me to seejustice done: how, I don’t know, for of course you areunder oath—but somehow. Mark what I’m going tosay.’

At that moment he laid a heavy, hard grip upon my shoulder;and whether he said anything more or came to a full stop at once,I am sure I could not tell you to this day. For, as thedevil would have it, the shoulder he laid hold of was the oneGoguelat had pinked. The wound was but a scratch; it washealing with the first intention; but in the clutch of MajorChevenix it gave me agony. My head swam; the sweat pouredoff my face; I must have grown deadly pale.

He removed his hand as suddenly as he had laid it there.‘What is wrong with you?’ said he.

‘It is nothing,’ said I. ‘Aqualm. It has gone by.’

‘Are you sure?’ said he. ‘You are aswhite as a sheet.’

‘Oh no, I assure you! Nothing whatever. I ammy own man again,’ I said, though I could scarce command mytongue.

‘Well, shall I go on again?’ says he.‘Can you follow me?’

‘Oh, by all means!’ said I, and mopped mystreaming face upon my sleeve, for you may be sure in those daysI had no handkerchief.

‘If you are sure you can follow me. That was avery sudden and sharp seizure,’ he said doubtfully.‘But if you are sure, all right, and here goes. Anaffair of honour among you fellows would, naturally, be a littledifficult to carry out, perhaps it would be impossible to have itwholly regular. And yet a duel might be very irregular inform, and, under the peculiar circ*mstances of the case, loyalenough in effect. Do you take me? Now, as a gentlemanand a soldier.’

His hand rose again at the words and hovered over me. Icould bear no more, and winced away from him.‘No,’ I cried, ‘not that. Do notput your hand upon my shoulder. I cannot bear it. Itis rheumatism,’ I made haste to add. ‘Myshoulder is inflamed and very painful.’

He returned to his chair and deliberately lighted a cigar.

‘I am sorry about your shoulder,’ he said atlast. ‘Let me send for the doctor.’

‘Not in the least,’ said I. ‘It is atrifle. I am quite used to it. It does not trouble mein the smallest. At any rate, I don’t believe indoctors.’

‘All right,’ said he, and sat and smoked a goodwhile in a silence which I would have given anything tobreak. ‘Well,’ he began presently, ‘Ibelieve there is nothing left for me to learn. I presume Imay say that I know all.’

‘About what?’ said I boldly.

‘About Goguelat,’ said he.

‘I beg your pardon. I cannot conceive,’ saidI.

‘Oh,’ says the major, ‘the man fell in aduel, and by your hand! I am not an infant.’

‘By no means,’ said I. ‘But you seemto me to be a good deal of a theorist.’

‘Shall we test it?’ he asked. ‘Thedoctor is close by. If there is not an open wound on yourshoulder, I am wrong. If there is—’ Hewaved his hand. ‘But I advise you to thinktwice. There is a deuce of a nasty drawback to theexperiment—that what might have remained private between ustwo becomes public property.’

‘Oh, well!’ said I, with a laugh, ‘anythingrather than a doctor! I cannot bear the breed.’

His last words had a good deal relieved me, but I was stillfar from comfortable.

Major Chevenix smoked awhile, looking now at his cigar ash,now at me. ‘I’m a soldier myself,’ hesays presently, ‘and I’ve been out in my time and hitmy man. I don’t want to run any one into a corner foran affair that was at all necessary or correct. At the sametime, I want to know that much, and I’ll take your word ofhonour for it. Otherwise, I shall be very sorry, but thedoctor must be called in.’

‘I neither admit anything nor deny anything,’ Ireturned. ‘But if this form of words will sufficeyou, here is what I say: I give you my parole, as a gentleman anda soldier, there has nothing taken place amongst us prisonersthat was not honourable as the day.’

‘All right,’ says he. ‘That was all Iwanted. You can go now, Champdivers.’

And as I was going out he added, with a laugh: ‘By thebye, I ought to apologise: I had no idea I was applying thetorture!’

The same afternoon the doctor came into the courtyard with apiece of paper in his hand. He seemed hot and angry, andhad certainly no mind to be polite.

‘Here!’ he cried. ‘Which of youfellows knows any English? Oh!’—spyingme—‘there you are, what’s your name!You’ll do. Tell these fellows that the otherfellow’s dying. He’s booked; no use talking; Iexpect he’ll go by evening. And tell them Idon’t envy the feelings of the fellow who spiked him.Tell them that first.’

I did so.

‘Then you can tell ’em,’ he resumed,‘that the fellow, Goggle—what’s hisname?—wants to see some of them before he gets his marchingorders. If I got it right, he wants to kiss or embrace you,or some sickening stuff. Got that? Then here’sa list he’s had written, and you’d better read it outto them—I can’t make head or tail of your beastlynames—and they can answer present, and fall inagainst that wall.’

It was with a singular movement of incongruous feelings that Iread the first name on the list. I had no wish to lookagain on my own handiwork; my flesh recoiled from the idea; andhow could I be sure what reception he designed to give me?The cure was in my own hand; I could pass that first nameover—the doctor would not know—and I might stayaway. But to the subsequent great gladness of my heart, Idid not dwell for an instant on the thought, walked over to thedesignated wall, faced about, read out the name‘Champdivers,’ and answered myself with the word‘Present.’

There were some half dozen on the list, all told; and as soonas we were mustered, the doctor led the way to the hospital, andwe followed after, like a fatigue party, in single file. Atthe door he paused, told us ‘the fellow’ would seeeach of us alone, and, as soon as I had explained that, sent meby myself into the ward. It was a small room, whitewashed;a south window stood open on a vast depth of air and a spaciousand distant prospect; and from deep below, in the Grassmarket thevoices of hawkers came up clear and far away. Hard by, on alittle bed, lay Goguelat. The sunburn had not yet fadedfrom his face, and the stamp of death was already there.There was something wild and unmannish in his smile, that took meby the throat; only death and love know or have ever seenit. And when he spoke, it seemed to shame his coarsetalk.

He held out his arms as if to embrace me. I drew nearwith incredible shrinkings, and surrendered myself to his armswith overwhelming disgust. But he only drew my ear down tohis lips.

‘Trust me,’ he whispered. ‘Je suisbon bougre, moi. I’ll take it to hell withme, and tell the devil.’

Why should I go on to reproduce his grossness andtrivialities? All that he thought, at that hour, was evennoble, though he could not clothe it otherwise than in thelanguage of a brutal farce. Presently he bade me call thedoctor; and when that officer had come in, raised a little up inhis bed, pointed first to himself and then to me, who stoodweeping by his side, and several times repeated the expression,‘Frinds—frinds—dam frinds.’

To my great surprise, the doctor appeared very muchaffected. He nodded his little bob-wigged head at us, andsaid repeatedly, ‘All right, Johnny—mecomprong.’

Then Goguelat shook hands with me, embraced me again, and Iwent out of the room sobbing like an infant.

How often have I not seen it, that the most unpardonablefellows make the happiest exits! It is a fate we may wellenvy them. Goguelat was detested in life; in the last threedays, by his admirable staunchness and consideration, he wonevery heart; and when word went about the prison the same eveningthat he was no more, the voice of conversation became hushed asin a house of mourning.

For myself I was like a man distracted; I cannot think whatailed me: when I awoke the following day, nothing remained of it;but that night I was filled with a gloomy fury of thenerves. I had killed him; he had done his utmost to protectme; I had seen him with that awful smile. And so illogicaland useless is this sentiment of remorse, that I was ready, at aword or a look, to quarrel with somebody else. I presumethe disposition of my mind was imprinted on my face; and when, alittle after, I overtook, saluted and addressed the doctor, helooked on me with commiseration and surprise.

I had asked him if it was true.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘the fellow’sgone.’

‘Did he suffer much?’ I asked.

‘Devil a bit; passed away like a lamb,’ saidhe. He looked on me a little, and I saw his hand go to hisfob. ‘Here, take that! no sense in fretting,’he said, and, putting a silver two-penny-bit in my hand, he leftme.

I should have had that twopenny framed to hang upon the wall,for it was the man’s one act of charity in all my knowledgeof him. Instead of that, I stood looking at it in my handand laughed out bitterly, as I realised his mistake; then went tothe ramparts, and flung it far into the air like bloodmoney. The night was falling; through an embrasure andacross the gardened valley I saw the lamplighters hasting alongPrinces Street with ladder and lamp, and looked on moodily.As I was so standing a hand was laid upon my shoulder, and Iturned about. It was Major Chevenix, dressed for theevening, and his neckcloth really admirably folded. I neverdenied the man could dress.

‘Ah!’ said he, ‘I thought it was you,Champdivers. So he’s gone?’

I nodded.

‘Come, come,’ said he, ‘you must cheerup. Of course it’s very distressing, very painful andall that. But do you know, it ain’t such a bad thingeither for you or me? What with his death and your visit tohim I am entirely reassured.’

So I was to owe my life to Goguelat at every point.

‘I had rather not discuss it,’ said I.

‘Well,’ said he, ‘one word more, andI’ll agree to bury the subject. What did you fightabout?’

‘Oh, what do men ever fight about?’ I cried.

‘A lady?’ said he.

I shrugged my shoulders.

‘Deuce you did!’ said he. ‘I shouldscarce have thought it of him.’

And at this my ill-humour broke fairly out in words.‘He!’ I cried. ‘He never dared to addressher—only to look at her and vomit his vile insults!She may have given him sixpence: if she did, it may take him toheaven yet!’

At this I became aware of his eyes set upon me with aconsidering look, and brought up sharply.

‘Well, well,’ said he. ‘Good night toyou, Champdivers. Come to me at breakfast-time to-morrow,and we’ll talk of other subjects.’

I fully admit the man’s conduct was not bad: in writingit down so long after the events I can even see that it wasgood.


I was surprised one morning, shortly after, to find myself theobject of marked consideration by a civilian and astranger. This was a man of the middle age; he had a faceof a mulberry colour, round black eyes, comical tufted eyebrows,and a protuberant forehead; and was dressed in clothes of aQuakerish cut. In spite of his plainness, he had thatinscrutable air of a man well-to-do in his affairs. Iconceived he had been some while observing me from a distance,for a sparrow sat betwixt us quite unalarmed on the breech of apiece of cannon. So soon as our eyes met, he drew near andaddressed me in the French language, which he spoke with a goodfluency but an abominable accent.

‘I have the pleasure of addressing Monsieur le VicomteAnne de Kéroual de Saint-Yves?’ said he.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘I do not call myself allthat; but I have a right to, if I chose. In the meanwhile Icall myself plain Champdivers, at your disposal. It was mymother’s name, and good to go soldiering with.’

‘I think not quite,’ said he; ‘for if Iremember rightly, your mother also had the particle. Hername was Florimonde de Champdivers.’

‘Right again!’ said I, ‘and I am extremelypleased to meet a gentleman so well informed in myquarterings. Is monsieur Born himself?’ This Isaid with a great air of assumption, partly to conceal the degreeof curiosity with which my visitor had inspired me, and in partbecause it struck me as highly incongruous and comical in myprison garb and on the lips of a private soldier.

He seemed to think so too, for he laughed.

‘No, sir,’ he returned, speaking this time inEnglish; ‘I am not “born,” as you callit, and must content myself with dying, of which I amequally susceptible with the best of you. My name is Mr.Romaine—Daniel Romaine—a solicitor of London City, atyour service; and, what will perhaps interest you more, I am hereat the request of your great-uncle, the Count.’

‘What!’ I cried, ‘does M. de Kéroualde St.-Yves remember the existence of such a person as myself,and will he deign to count kinship with a soldier ofNapoleon?’

‘You speak English well,’ observed my visitor.

‘It has been a second language to me from achild,’ said I. ‘I had an English nurse; myfather spoke English with me; and I was finished by a countrymanof yours and a dear friend of mine, a Mr. Vicary.’

A strong expression of interest came into the lawyer’sface.

‘What!’ he cried, ‘you knew poorVicary?’

‘For more than a year,’ said I; ‘and sharedhis hiding-place for many months.’

‘And I was his clerk, and have succeeded him inbusiness,’ said he. ‘Excellent man! Itwas on the affairs of M. de Kéroual that he went to thataccursed country, from which he was never destined toreturn. Do you chance to know his end, sir?’

‘I am sorry,’ said I, ‘I do. Heperished miserably at the hands of a gang of banditti, such as wecall chauffeurs. In a word, he was tortured, anddied of it. See,’ I added, kicking off one shoe, forI had no stockings; ‘I was no more than a child, and seehow they had begun to treat myself.’

He looked at the mark of my old burn with a certainshrinking. ‘Beastly people!’ I heard him mutterto himself.

‘The English may say so with a good grace,’ Iobserved politely.

Such speeches were the coin in which I paid my way among thiscredulous race. Ninety per cent. of our visitors would haveaccepted the remark as natural in itself and creditable to mypowers of judgment, but it appeared my lawyer was more acute.

‘You are not entirely a fool, I perceive,’ saidhe.

‘No,’ said I; ‘not wholly.’

‘And yet it is well to beware of the ironicalmood,’ he continued. ‘It is a dangerousinstrument. Your great-uncle has, I believe, practised itvery much, until it is now become a problem what hemeans.’

‘And that brings me back to what you will admit is amost natural inquiry,’ said I. ‘To what do Iowe the pleasure of this visit? how did you recognise me? and howdid you know I was here?’

Carefull separating his coat skirts, the lawyer took a seatbeside me on the edge of the flags.

‘It is rather an odd story,’ says he, ‘and,with your leave, I’ll answer the second questionfirst. It was from a certain resemblance you bear to yourcousin, M. le Vicomte.’

‘I trust, sir, that I resemble himadvantageously?’ said I.

‘I hasten to reassure you,’ was the reply:‘you do. To my eyes, M. Alain de St.-Yves has scarcea pleasing exterior. And yet, when I knew you were here,and was actually looking for you—why, the likenesshelped. As for how I came to know your whereabouts, by anodd enough chance, it is again M. Alain we have to thank. Ishould tell you, he has for some time made it his business tokeep M. de Kéroual informed of your career; with whatpurpose I leave you to judge. When he first brought thenews of your—that you were serving Buonaparte, it seemed itmight be the death of the old gentleman, so hot was hisresentment. But from one thing to another, matters have alittle changed. Or I should rather say, not a little.We learned you were under orders for the Peninsula, to fight theEnglish; then that you had been commissioned for a piece ofbravery, and were again reduced to the ranks. And from onething to another (as I say), M. de Kéroual became used tothe idea that you were his kinsman and yet served withBuonaparte, and filled instead with wonder that he should haveanother kinsman who was so remarkably well informed of events inFrance. And it now became a very disagreeable question,whether the young gentleman was not a spy? In short, sir,in seeking to disserve you, he had accumulated against himself aload of suspicions.’

My visitor now paused, took snuff, and looked at me with anair of benevolence.

‘Good God, sir!’ says I, ‘this is a curiousstory.’

‘You will say so before I have done,’ saidhe. ‘For there have two events followed. Thefirst of these was an encounter of M. de Kéroual and M. deMauseant.’

‘I know the man to my cost,’ said I: ‘it wasthrough him I lost my commission.’

‘Do you tell me so?’ he cried. ‘Why,here is news!’

‘Oh, I cannot complain!’ said I. ‘Iwas in the wrong. I did it with my eyes open. If aman gets a prisoner to guard and lets him go, the least he canexpect is to be degraded.’

‘You will be paid for it,’ said he.‘You did well for yourself and better for yourking.’

‘If I had thought I was injuring my emperor,’ saidI, ‘I would have let M. de Mauseant burn in hell ere I hadhelped him, and be sure of that! I saw in him only aprivate person in a difficulty: I let him go in private charity;not even to profit myself will I suffer it to bemisunderstood.’

‘Well, well,’ said the lawyer, ‘no matternow. This is a foolish warmth—a very misplacedenthusiasm, believe me! The point of the story is that Mauseant spoke of you with gratitude, and drew your characterin such a manner as greatly to affect your uncle’sviews. Hard upon the back of which, in came your humbleservant, and laid before him the direct proof of what we had beenso long suspecting. There was no dubiety permitted.M. Alain’s expensive way of life, his clothes andmistresses, his dicing and racehorses, were all explained: he wasin the pay of Buonaparte, a hired spy, and a man that held thestrings of what I can only call a convolution of extremely fishyenterprises. To do M. de Kéroual justice, he took itin the best way imaginable, destroyed the evidences of the onegreat-nephew’s disgrace—and transferred his interestwholly to the other.’

‘What am I to understand by that?’ said I.

‘I will tell you,’ says he. ‘There isa remarkable inconsistency in human nature which gentlemen of mycloth have a great deal of occasion to observe. Selfishpersons can live without chick or child, they can live withoutall mankind except perhaps the barber and the apothecary; butwhen it comes to dying, they seem physically unable to diewithout an heir. You can apply this principle foryourself. Viscount Alain, though he scarce guesses it, isno longer in the field. Remains, Viscount Anne.’

‘I see,’ said I, ‘you give a veryunfavourable impression of my uncle, the Count.’

‘I had not meant it,’ said he. ‘He hasled a loose life—sadly loose—but he is a man it isimpossible to know and not to admire; his courtesy isexquisite.’

‘And so you think there is actually a chance forme?’ I asked.

‘Understand,’ said he: ‘in saying as much asI have done, I travel quite beyond my brief. I have beenclothed with no capacity to talk of wills, or heritages, or yourcousin. I was sent here to make but the one communication:that M. de Kéroual desires to meet hisgreat-nephew.’

‘Well,’ said I, looking about me on thebattlements by which we sat surrounded, ‘this is a case inwhich Mahomet must certainly come to the mountain.’

‘Pardon me,’ said Mr. Romaine; ‘you knowalready your uncle is an aged man; but I have not yet told youthat he is quite broken up, and his death shortly lookedfor. No, no, there is no doubt about it—it is themountain that must come to Mahomet.’

‘From an Englishman, the remark is certainlysignificant,’ said I; ‘but you are of course, and bytrade, a keeper of men’s secrets, and I see you keep thatof Cousin Alain, which is not the mark of a truculent patriotism,to say the least.’

‘I am first of all the lawyer of your family!’says he.

‘That being so,’ said I, ‘I can perhapsstretch a point myself. This rock is very high, and it isvery steep; a man might come by a devil of a fall from almost anypart of it, and yet I believe I have a pair of wings that mightcarry me just so far as to the bottom. Once at the bottom Iam helpless.’

‘And perhaps it is just then that I could stepin,’ returned the lawyer. ‘Suppose by somecontingency, at which I make no guess, and on which I offer noopinion—’

But here I interrupted him. ‘One word ere you gofurther. I am under no parole,’ said I.

‘I understood so much,’ he replied,‘although some of you French gentry find their word sitlightly on them.’

‘Sir, I am not one of those,’ said I.

‘To do you plain justice, I do not think you one,’said he. ‘Suppose yourself, then, set free and at thebottom of the rock,’ he continued, ‘although I maynot be able to do much, I believe I can do something to help youon your road. In the first place I would carry this,whether in an inside pocket or my shoe.’ And hepassed me a bundle of bank notes.

‘No harm in that,’ said I, at once concealingthem.

‘In the second place,’ he resumed, ‘it is agreat way from here to where your uncle lives—AmershamPlace, not far from Dunstable; you have a great part of Britainto get through; and for the first stages, I must leave you toyour own luck and ingenuity. I have no acquaintance here inScotland, or at least’ (with a grimace) ‘no dishonestones. But further to the south, about Wakefield, I am toldthere is a gentleman called Burchell Fenn, who is not soparticular as some others, and might be willing to give you acast forward. In fact, sir, I believe it’s theman’s trade: a piece of knowledge that burns mymouth. But that is what you get by meddling with rogues;and perhaps the biggest rogue now extant, M. de Saint-Yves, isyour cousin, M. Alain.’

‘If this be a man of my cousin’s,’ Iobserved, ‘I am perhaps better to keep clear ofhim?’

‘It was through some paper of your cousin’s thatwe came across his trail,’ replied the lawyer.‘But I am inclined to think, so far as anything is safe insuch a nasty business, you might apply to the man Fenn. Youmight even, I think, use the Viscount’s name; and thelittle trick of family resemblance might come in. How, forinstance, if you were to call yourself his brother?’

‘It might be done,’ said I. ‘But lookhere a moment? You propose to me a very difficult game: Ihave apparently a devil of an opponent in my cousin; and, being aprisoner of war, I can scarcely be said to hold good cards.For what stakes, then, am I playing?’

‘They are very large,’ said he. ‘Yourgreat-uncle is immensely rich—immensely rich. He waswise in time; he smelt the revolution long before; sold all thathe could, and had all that was movable transported to Englandthrough my firm. There are considerable estates in England;Amersham Place itself is very fine; and he has much money, wiselyinvested. He lives, indeed, like a prince. And ofwhat use is it to him? He has lost all that was worthliving for—his family, his country; he has seen his kingand queen murdered; he has seen all these miseries andinfamies,’ pursued the lawyer, with a rising inflection anda heightening colour; and then broke suddenlyoff,—‘In short, sir, he has seen all the advantagesof that government for which his nephew carries arms, and he hasthe misfortune not to like them.’

‘You speak with a bitterness that I suppose I mustexcuse,’ said I; ‘yet which of us has the more reasonto be bitter? This man, my uncle, M. de Kéroual,fled. My parents, who were less wise perhaps,remained. In the beginning, they were even republicans; tothe end they could not be persuaded to despair of thepeople. It was a glorious folly, for which, as a son, Ireverence them. First one and then the otherperished. If I have any mark of a gentleman, all who taughtme died upon the scaffold, and my last school of manners was theprison of the Abbaye. Do you think you can teach bitternessto a man with a history like mine?’

‘I have no wish to try,’ said he. ‘Andyet there is one point I cannot understand: I cannot understandthat one of your blood and experience should serve theCorsican. I cannot understand it: it seems as thougheverything generous in you must rise againstthat—domination.’

‘And perhaps,’ I retorted, ‘had yourchildhood passed among wolves, you would have been overjoyedyourself to see the Corsican Shepherd.’

‘Well, well,’ replied Mr. Romaine, ‘it maybe. There are things that do not beardiscussion.’

And with a wave of his hand he disappeared abruptly down aflight of steps and under the shadow of a ponderous arch.


The lawyer was scarce gone before I remembered many omissions;and chief among these, that I had neglected to get Mr. BurchellFenn’s address. Here was an essential pointneglected; and I ran to the head of the stairs to find myselfalready too late. The lawyer was beyond my view; in thearchway that led downward to the castle gate, only the red coatand the bright arms of a sentry glittered in the shadow; and Icould but return to my place upon the ramparts.

I am not very sure that I was properly entitled to thiscorner. But I was a high favourite; not an officer, andscarce a private, in the castle would have turned me back, exceptupon a thing of moment; and whenever I desired to be solitary, Iwas suffered to sit here behind my piece of cannonunmolested. The cliff went down before me almost sheer, butmantled with a thicket of climbing trees; from farther down, anoutwork raised its turret; and across the valley I had a view ofthat long terrace of Princes Street which serves as a promenadeto the fashionable inhabitants of Edinburgh. A singularityin a military prison, that it should command a view on the chiefthoroughfare!

It is not necessary that I should trouble you with the trainof my reflections, which turned upon the interview I had justconcluded and the hopes that were now opening before me.What is more essential, my eye (even while I thought) keptfollowing the movement of the passengers on Princes Street, asthey passed briskly to and fro—met, greeted, and bowed toeach other—or entered and left the shops, which are in thatquarter, and, for a town of the Britannic provinces, particularlyfine. My mind being busy upon other things, the course ofmy eye was the more random; and it chanced that I followed, forsome time, the advance of a young gentleman with a red head and awhite great-coat, for whom I cared nothing at the moment, and ofwhom it is probable I shall be gathered to my fathers withoutlearning more. He seemed to have a large acquaintance: hishat was for ever in his hand; and I daresay I had alreadyobserved him exchanging compliments with half a dozen, when hedrew up at last before a young man and a young lady whose tallpersons and gallant carriage I thought I recognised.

It was impossible at such a distance that I could be sure, butthe thought was sufficient, and I craned out of the embrasure tofollow them as long as possible. To think that suchemotions, that such a concussion of the blood, may have beeninspired by a chance resemblance, and that I may have stood andthrilled there for a total stranger! This distant view, atleast, whether of Flora or of some one else, changed in a momentthe course of my reflections. It was all very well, and itwas highly needful, I should see my uncle; but an uncle, agreat-uncle at that, and one whom I had never seen, leaves theimagination cold; and if I were to leave the castle, I mightnever again have the opportunity of finding Flora. Thelittle impression I had made, even supposing I had made any, howsoon it would die out! how soon I should sink to be a phantommemory, with which (in after days) she might amuse a husband andchildren! No, the impression must be clenched, the waximpressed with the seal, ere I left Edinburgh. And at thisthe two interests that were now contending in my bosom cametogether and became one. I wished to see Flora again; and Iwanted some one to further me in my flight and to get me newclothes. The conclusion was apparent. Except forpersons in the garrison itself, with whom it was a point ofhonour and military duty to retain me captive, I knew, in thewhole country of Scotland, these two alone. If it were tobe done at all, they must be my helpers. To tell them of mydesigned escape while I was still in bonds, would be to laybefore them a most difficult choice. What they might do insuch a case, I could not in the least be sure of, for (the samecase arising) I was far from sure what I should do myself.It was plain I must escape first. When the harm was done,when I was no more than a poor wayside fugitive, I might apply tothem with less offence and more security. To this end itbecame necessary that I should find out where they lived and howto reach it; and feeling a strong confidence that they would soonreturn to visit me, I prepared a series of baits with which toangle for my information. It will be seen the first wasgood enough.

Perhaps two days after, Master Ronald put in an appearance byhimself. I had no hold upon the boy, and pretermitted mydesign till I should have laid court to him and engaged hisinterest. He was prodigiously embarrassed, not havingpreviously addressed me otherwise than by a bow and blushes; andhe advanced to me with an air of one stubbornly performing aduty, like a raw soldier under fire. I laid down mycarving; greeted him with a good deal of formality, such as Ithought he would enjoy; and finding him to remain silent,branched off into narratives of my campaigns such as Goguelathimself might have scrupled to endorse. He visibly thawedand brightened; drew more near to where I sat; forgot histimidity so far as to put many questions; and at last, withanother blush, informed me he was himself expecting acommission.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘they are fine troops, yourBritish troops in the Peninsula. A young gentleman ofspirit may well be proud to be engaged at the head of suchsoldiers.’

‘I know that,’ he said; ‘I think of nothingelse. I think shame to be dangling here at home and goingthrough with this foolery of education, while others, no olderthan myself, are in the field.’

‘I cannot blame you,’ said I. ‘I havefelt the same myself.’

‘There are—there are no troops, are there, quiteso good as ours?’ he asked.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘there is a point aboutthem: they have a defect,—they are not to be trusted in aretreat. I have seen them behave very ill in aretreat.’

‘I believe that is our national character,’ hesaid—God forgive him!—with an air of pride.

‘I have seen your national character running away atleast, and had the honour to run after it!’ rose to mylips, but I was not so ill advised as to give it utterance.Every one should be flattered, but boys and women without stint;and I put in the rest of the afternoon narrating to him tales ofBritish heroism, for which I should not like to engage that theywere all true.

‘I am quite surprised,’ he said at last.‘People tell you the French are insincere. Now, Ithink your sincerity is beautiful. I think you have a noblecharacter. I admire you very much. I am very gratefulfor your kindness to—to one so young,’ and he offeredme his hand.

‘I shall see you again soon?’ said I.

‘Oh, now! Yes, very soon,’ said he.‘I—I wish to tell you. I would not letFlora—Miss Gilchrist, I mean—come to-day. Iwished to see more of you myself. I trust you are notoffended: you know, one should be careful aboutstrangers.’

I approved his caution, and he took himself away: leaving mein a mixture of contrarious feelings, part ashamed to have playedon one so gullible, part raging that I should have burned so muchincense before the vanity of England; yet, in the bottom of mysoul, delighted to think I had made a friend—or, at least,begun to make a friend—of Flora’s brother.

As I had half expected, both made their appearance the nextday. I struck so fine a shade betwixt the pride that isallowed to soldiers and the sorrowful humility that befits acaptive, that I declare, as I went to meet them, I might haveafforded a subject for a painter. So much was high comedy,I must confess; but so soon as my eyes lighted full on her darkface and eloquent eyes, the blood leaped into my cheeks—andthat was nature! I thanked them, but not the least withexultation; it was my cue to be mournful, and to take the pair ofthem as one.

‘I have been thinking,’ I said, ‘you havebeen so good to me, both of you, stranger and prisoner as I am,that I have been thinking how I could testify to mygratitude. It may seem a strange subject for a confidence,but there is actually no one here, even of my comrades, thatknows me by my name and title. By these I am called plainChampdivers, a name to which I have a right, but not the namewhich I should bear, and which (but a little while ago) I musthide like a crime. Miss Flora, suffer me to present to youthe Vicomte Anne de Kéroual de Saint-Yves, a privatesoldier.’

‘I knew it!’ cried the boy; ‘I knew he was anoble!’

And I thought the eyes of Miss Flora said the same, but morepersuasively. All through this interview she kept them onthe ground, or only gave them to me for a moment at a time, andwith a serious sweetness.

‘You may conceive, my friends, that this is rather apainful confession,’ I continued. ‘To standhere before you, vanquished, a prisoner in a fortress, and takemy own name upon my lips, is painful to the proud. And yetI wished that you should know me. Long after this, we mayyet hear of one another—perhaps Mr. Gilchrist and myself inthe field and from opposing camps—and it would be a pity ifwe heard and did not recognise.’

They were both moved; and began at once to press upon meoffers of service, such as to lend me books, get me tobacco if Iused it, and the like. This would have been all mightywelcome, before the tunnel was ready. Now it signified nomore to me than to offer the transition I required.

‘My dear friends,’ I said—‘for youmust allow me to call you that, who have no others within so manyhundred leagues—perhaps you will think me fanciful andsentimental; and perhaps indeed I am; but there is one servicethat I would beg of you before all others. You see me sethere on the top of this rock in the midst of your city.Even with what liberty I have, I have the opportunity to see amyriad roofs, and I dare to say, thirty leagues of sea andland. All this hostile! Under all these roofs myenemies dwell; wherever I see the smoke of a house rising, I musttell myself that some one sits before the chimney and reads withjoy of our reverses. Pardon me, dear friends, I know thatyou must do the same, and I do not grudge at it! With you,it is all different. Show me your house then, were it onlythe chimney, or, if that be not visible, the quarter of the townin which it lies! So, when I look all about me, I shall beable to say: “There is one house in which I am not quiteunkindly thought of.”’

Flora stood a moment.

‘It is a pretty thought,’ said she, ‘and, asfar as regards Ronald and myself, a true one. Come, Ibelieve I can show you the very smoke out of ourchimney.’

So saying, she carried me round the battlements towards theopposite or southern side of the fortress, and indeed to abastion almost immediately overlooking the place of our projectedflight. Thence we had a view of some foreshortened suburbsat our feet, and beyond of a green, open, and irregular countryrising towards the Pentland Hills. The face of one of thesesummits (say two leagues from where we stood) is marked with aprocession of white scars. And to this she directed myattention.

‘You see these marks?’ she said. ‘Wecall them the Seven Sisters. Follow a little lower withyour eye, and you will see a fold of the hill, the tops of sometrees, and a tail of smoke out of the midst of them. Thatis Swanston Cottage, where my brother and I are living with myaunt. If it gives you pleasure to see it, I am glad.We, too, can see the castle from a corner in the garden, and wego there in the morning often—do we not, Ronald?—andwe think of you, M. de Saint-Yves; but I am afraid it does notaltogether make us glad.’

‘Mademoiselle!’ said I, and indeed my voice wasscarce under command, ‘if you knew how your generouswords—how even the sight of you—relieved the horrorsof this place, I believe, I hope, I know, you would beglad. I will come here daily and look at that dear chimneyand these green hills, and bless you from the heart, and dedicateto you the prayers of this poor sinner. Ah! I do notsay they can avail!’

‘Who can say that, M. de Saint-Yves?’ she saidsoftly. ‘But I think it is time we should begoing.’

‘High time,’ said Ronald, whom (to say the truth)I had a little forgotten.

On the way back, as I was laying myself out to recover lostground with the youth, and to obliterate, if possible, the memoryof my last and somewhat too fervent speech, who should come pastus but the major? I had to stand aside and salute as hewent by, but his eyes appeared entirely occupied with Flora.

‘Who is that man?’ she asked.

‘He is a friend of mine,’ said I. ‘Igive him lessons in French, and he has been very kind tome.’

‘He stared,’ she said,—‘I do not say,rudely; but why should he stare?’

‘If you do not wish to be stared at, mademoiselle,suffer me to recommend a veil,’ said I.

She looked at me with what seemed anger. ‘I tellyou the man stared,’ she said.

And Ronald added. ‘Oh, I don’t think hemeant any harm. I suppose he was just surprised to see uswalking about with a pr--- with M. Saint-Yves.’

But the next morning, when I went to Chevenix’s rooms,and after I had dutifully corrected his exercise—‘Icompliment you on your taste,’ said he to me.

‘I beg your pardon?’ said I.

‘Oh no, I beg yours,’ said he. ‘Youunderstand me perfectly, just as I do you.’

I murmured something about enigmas.

‘Well, shall I give you the key to the enigma?’said he, leaning back. ‘That was the young lady whomGoguelat insulted and whom you avenged. I do not blameyou. She is a heavenly creature.’

‘With all my heart, to the last of it!’ saidI. ‘And to the first also, if it amuses you!You are become so very acute of late that I suppose you must haveyour own way.’

‘What is her name?’ he asked.

‘Now, really!’ said I. ‘Do you thinkit likely she has told me?’

‘I think it certain,’ said he.

I could not restrain my laughter. ‘Well, then, doyou think it likely I would tell you?’ I cried.

‘Not a bit.’ said he. ‘But come, toour lesson!’


The time for our escape drew near, and the nearer it came theless we seemed to enjoy the prospect. There is but one sideon which this castle can be left either with dignity or safety;but as there is the main gate and guard, and the chief street ofthe upper city, it is not to be thought of by escapingprisoners. In all other directions an abominable precipicesurrounds it, down the face of which (if anywhere at all) we mustregain our liberty. By our concurrent labours in many adark night, working with the most anxious precautions againstnoise, we had made out to pierce below the curtain about thesouth-west corner, in a place they call the Devil’sElbow. I have never met that celebrity; nor (if therest of him at all comes up to what they called his elbow) have Ithe least desire of his acquaintance. From the heel of themasonry, the rascally, breakneck precipice descended sheer amongwaste lands, scattered suburbs of the city, and houses in thebuilding. I had never the heart to look for any length oftime—the thought that I must make the descent in personsome dark night robbing me of breath; and, indeed, on anybody nota seaman or a steeple-jack, the mere sight of theDevil’s Elbow wrought like an emetic.

I don’t know where the rope was got, and doubt if I muchcared. It was not that which gravelled me, but whether, nowthat we had it, it would serve our turn. Its length,indeed, we made a shift to fathom out; but who was to tell us howthat length compared with the way we had to go? Day afterday, there would be always some of us stolen out to theDevil’s Elbow and making estimates of the descent,whether by a bare guess or the dropping of stones. Aprivate of pioneers remembered the formula for that—or elseremembered part of it and obligingly invented theremainder. I had never any real confidence in that formula;and even had we got it from a book, there were difficulties inthe way of the application that might have dauntedArchimedes. We durst not drop any considerable pebble lestthe sentinels should hear, and those that we dropped we could nothear ourselves. We had never a watch—or none that hada second-hand; and though every one of us could guess a second toa nicety, all somehow guessed it differently. In short, ifany two set forth upon this enterprise, they invariably returnedwith two opinions, and often with a black eye in thebargain. I looked on upon these proceedings, although notwithout laughter, yet with impatience and disgust. I am onethat cannot bear to see things botched or gone upon withignorance; and the thought that some poor devil was to hazard hisbones upon such premises, revolted me. Had I guessed thename of that unhappy first adventurer, my sentiments might havebeen livelier still.

The designation of this personage was indeed all that remainedfor us to do; and even in that we had advanced so far that thelot had fallen on Shed B. It had been determined to minglethe bitter and the sweet; and whoever went down first, the wholeof his shed-mates were to follow next in order. This causeda good deal of joy in Shed B, and would have caused more if ithad not still remained to choose our pioneer. In view ofthe ambiguity in which we lay as to the length of the rope andthe height of the precipice—and that this gentleman was toclimb down from fifty to seventy fathoms on a pitchy night, on arope entirely free, and with not so much as an infant child tosteady it at the bottom, a little backwardness was perhapsexcusable. But it was, in our case, more than alittle. The truth is, we were all womanish fellows about aheight; and I have myself been put, more than once, hors decombat by a less affair than the rock of EdinburghCastle.

We discussed it in the dark and between the passage of therounds; and it was impossible for any body of men to show a lessadventurous spirit. I am sure some of us, and myself firstamong the number, regretted Goguelat. Some were persuadedit was safe, and could prove the same by argument; but if theyhad good reasons why some one else should make the trial, theyhad better still why it should not be themselves. Others,again, condemned the whole idea as insane; among these, asill-luck would have it, a seaman of the fleet; who was the mostdispiriting of all. The height, he reminded us, was greaterthan the tallest ship’s mast, the rope entirely free; andhe as good as defied the boldest and strongest to succeed.We were relieved from this dead-lock by our sergeant-major ofdragoons.

‘Comrades,’ said he, ‘I believe I rank youall; and for that reason, if you really wish it, I will be thefirst myself. At the same time, you are to consider whatthe chances are that I may prove to be the last, as well. Iam no longer young—I was sixty near a month ago.Since I have been a prisoner, I have made for myself a littlebedaine. My arms are all gone to fat. And youmust promise not to blame me, if I fall and play the devil withthe whole thing.’

‘We cannot hear of such a thing!’ said I.‘M. Laclas is the oldest man here; and, as such, he shouldbe the very last to offer. It is plain, we must drawlots.’

‘No,’ said M. Laclas; ‘you put somethingelse in my head! There is one here who owes a pretty candleto the others, for they have kept his secret. Besides, therest of us are only rabble; and he is another affairaltogether. Let Champdivers—let the noble go thefirst.’

I confess there was a notable pause before the noble inquestion got his voice. But there was no room forchoice. I had been so ill-advised, when I first joined theregiment, as to take ground on my nobility. I had beenoften rallied on the matter in the ranks, and had passed underthe by-names of Monseigneur and the Marquis.It was now needful I should justify myself and take a fairrevenge.

Any little hesitation I may have felt passed entirelyunnoticed, from the lucky incident of a round happening at thatmoment to go by. And during the interval of silence thereoccurred something that sent my blood to the boil. Therewas a private in our shed called Clausel, a man of a very uglydisposition. He had made one of the followers of Goguelat;but, whereas Goguelat had always a kind of monstrous gaiety abouthim, Clausel was no less morose than he was evil-minded. Hewas sometimes called the General, and sometimes by a nametoo ill-mannered for repetition. As we all sat listening,this man’s hand was laid on my shoulder, and his voicewhispered in my ear: ‘If you don’t go, I’llhave you hanged, Marquis!’

As soon as the round was past—‘Certainly,gentlemen!’ said I. ‘I will give you a lead,with all the pleasure in the world. But, first of all,there is a hound here to be punished. M. Clausel has justinsulted me, and dishonoured the French army; and I demand thathe run the gauntlet of this shed.’

There was but one voice asking what he had done, and, as soonas I had told them, but one voice agreeing to thepunishment. The General was, in consequence, extremelyroughly handled, and the next day was congratulated by all whosaw him on his new decorations. It was lucky for usthat he was one of the prime movers and believers in our projectof escape, or he had certainly revenged himself by adenunciation. As for his feelings towards myself, theyappeared, by his looks, to surpass humanity; and I made up mymind to give him a wide berth in the future.

Had I been to go down that instant, I believe I could havecarried it well. But it was already too late—the daywas at hand. The rest had still to be summoned. Norwas this the extent of my misfortune; for the next night, and thenight after, were adorned with a perfect galaxy of stars, andshowed every cat that stirred in a quarter of a mile.During this interval, I have to direct your sympathies on theVicomte de Saint-Yves! All addressed me softly, like folkround a sickbed. Our Italian corporal, who had got a dozenof oysters from a fishwife, laid them at my feet, as though Iwere a Pagan idol; and I have never since been wholly at my easein the society of shellfish. He who was the best of ourcarvers brought me a snuff-box, which he had just completed, andwhich, while it was yet in hand, he had often declared he wouldnot part with under fifteen dollars. I believe the piecewas worth the money too! And yet the voice stuck in mythroat with which I must thank him. I found myself, in aword, to be fed up like a prisoner in a camp of anthropophagi,and honoured like the sacrificial bull. And what with theseannoyances, and the risky venture immediately ahead, I found mypart a trying one to play.

It was a good deal of a relief when the third evening closedabout the castle with volumes of sea-fog. The lights ofPrinces Street sometimes disappeared, sometimes blinked across atus no brighter than the eyes of cats; and five steps from one ofthe lanterns on the ramparts it was already groping dark.We made haste to lie down. Had our jailers been upon thewatch, they must have observed our conversation to die outunusually soon. Yet I doubt if any of us slept. Eachlay in his place, tortured at once with the hope of liberty andthe fear of a hateful death. The guard call sounded; thehum of the town declined by little and little. On all sidesof us, in their different quarters, we could hear the watchmancry the hours along the street. Often enough, during mystay in England, have I listened to these gruff or broken voices;or perhaps gone to my window when I lay sleepless, and watchedthe old gentleman hobble by upon the causeway with his cape andhis cap, his hanger and his rattle. It was ever a thoughtwith me how differently that cry would re-echo in the chamber oflovers, beside the bed of death, or in the condemned cell.I might be said to hear it that night myself in the condemnedcell! At length a fellow with a voice like a bull’sbegan to roar out in the opposite thoroughfare:

‘Past yin o’cloak, and a dark, haarymoarnin’.’

At which we were all silently afoot.

As I stole about the battlements towards the—gallows, Iwas about to write—the sergeant-major, perhaps doubtful ofmy resolution, kept close by me, and occasionally proffered themost indigestible reassurances in my ear. At last I couldbear them no longer.

‘Be so obliging as to let me be!’ said I.‘I am neither a coward nor a fool. What do youknow of whether the rope be long enough? But I shall knowit in ten minutes!’

The good old fellow laughed in his moustache, and pattedme.

It was all very well to show the disposition of my temperbefore a friend alone; before my assembled comrades the thing hadto go handsomely. It was then my time to come on the stage;and I hope I took it handsomely.

‘Now, gentlemen,’ said I, ‘if the rope isready, here is the criminal!’

The tunnel was cleared, the stake driven, the ropeextended. As I moved forward to the place, many of mycomrades caught me by the hand and wrung it, an attention I couldwell have done without.

‘Keep an eye on Clausel!’ I whispered to Laclas;and with that, got down on my elbows and knees took the rope inboth hands, and worked myself, feet foremost, through thetunnel. When the earth failed under my feet, I thought myheart would have stopped; and a moment after I was demeaningmyself in mid-air like a drunken jumping-jack. I have neverbeen a model of piety, but at this juncture prayers and a coldsweat burst from me simultaneously.

The line was knotted at intervals of eighteen inches; and tothe inexpert it may seem as if it should have been even easy todescend. The trouble was, this devil of a piece of ropeappeared to be inspired, not with life alone, but with a personalmalignity against myself. It turned to the one side, pausedfor a moment, and then spun me like a toasting-jack to the other;slipped like an eel from the clasp of my feet; kept me all thetime in the most outrageous fury of exertion; and dashed me atintervals against the face of the rock. I had no eyes tosee with; and I doubt if there was anything to see butdarkness. I must occasionally have caught a gasp of breath,but it was quite unconscious. And the whole forces of mymind were so consumed with losing hold and getting it again, thatI could scarce have told whether I was going up or comingdown.

Of a sudden I knocked against the cliff with such a thump asalmost bereft me of my sense; and, as reason twinkled back, I wasamazed to find that I was in a state of rest, that the face ofthe precipice here inclined outwards at an angle which relievedme almost wholly of the burthen of my own weight, and that one ofmy feet was safely planted on a ledge. I drew one of thesweetest breaths in my experience, hugged myself against therope, and closed my eyes in a kind of ecstasy of relief. Itoccurred to me next to see how far I was advanced on my unluckyjourney, a point on which I had not a shadow of a guess. Ilooked up: there was nothing above me but the blackness of thenight and the fog. I craned timidly forward and lookeddown. There, upon a floor of darkness, I beheld a certainpattern of hazy lights, some of them aligned as in thoroughfares,others standing apart as in solitary houses; and before I couldwell realise it, or had in the least estimated my distance, awave of nausea and vertigo warned me to lie back and close myeyes. In this situation I had really but the one wish, andthat was: something else to think of! Strange to say, I gotit: a veil was torn from my mind, and I saw what a fool Iwas—what fools we had all been—and that I had nobusiness to be thus dangling between earth and heaven by myarms. The only thing to have done was to have attached meto a rope and lowered me, and I had never the wit to see it tillthat moment!

I filled my lungs, got a good hold on my rope, and once morelaunched myself on the descent. As it chanced, the worst ofthe danger was at an end, and I was so fortunate as to be neveragain exposed to any violent concussion. Soon after I musthave passed within a little distance of a bush of wallflower, forthe scent of it came over me with that impression of realitywhich characterises scents in darkness. This made me asecond landmark, the ledge being my first. I beganaccordingly to compute intervals of time: so much to the ledge,so much again to the wallflower, so much more below. If Iwere not at the bottom of the rock, I calculated I must be nearindeed to the end of the rope, and there was no doubt that I wasnot far from the end of my own resources. I began to belight-headed and to be tempted to let go,—now arguing thatI was certainly arrived within a few feet of the level and couldsafely risk a fall, anon persuaded I was still close at the topand it was idle to continue longer on the rock. In themidst of which I came to a bearing on plain ground, and hadnearly wept aloud. My hands were as good as flayed, mycourage entirely exhausted, and, what with the long strain andthe sudden relief, my limbs shook under me with more than theviolence of ague, and I was glad to cling to the rope.

But this was no time to give way. I had (by God’ssingle mercy) got myself alive out of that fortress; and now Ihad to try to get the others, my comrades. There was abouta fathom of rope to spare; I got it by the end, and searched thewhole ground thoroughly for anything to make it fast to. Invain: the ground was broken and stony, but there grew not thereso much as a bush of furze.

‘Now then,’ thought I to myself, ‘herebegins a new lesson, and I believe it will prove richer than thefirst. I am not strong enough to keep this ropeextended. If I do not keep it extended the next man will bedashed against the precipice. There is no reason why heshould have my extravagant good luck. I see no reason whyhe should not fall—nor any place for him to fall on but myhead.’

From where I was now standing there was occasionally visible,as the fog lightened, a lamp in one of the barrack windows, whichgave me a measure of the height he had to fall and the horridforce that he must strike me with. What was yet worse, wehad agreed to do without signals: every so many minutes byLaclas’ watch another man was to be started from thebattlements. Now, I had seemed to myself to be about halfan hour in my descent, and it seemed near as long again that Iwaited, straining on the rope for my next comrade to begin.I began to be afraid that our conspiracy was out, that my friendswere all secured, and that I should pass the remainder of thenight, and be discovered in the morning, vainly clinging to therope’s end like a hooked fish upon an angle. I couldnot refrain, at this ridiculous image, from a chuckle oflaughter. And the next moment I knew, by the jerking of therope, that my friend had crawled out of the tunnel and was fairlylaunched on his descent. It appears it was the sailor whohad insisted on succeeding me: as soon as my continued silencehad assured him the rope was long enough, Gautier, for that washis name, had forgot his former arguments, and shown himself soextremely forward, that Laclas had given way. It was likethe fellow, who had no harm in him beyond an instinctiveselfishness. But he was like to have paid pretty dearly forthe privilege. Do as I would, I could not keep the rope asI could have wished it; and he ended at last by falling on mefrom a height of several yards, so that we both rolled togetheron the ground. As soon as he could breathe he cursed mebeyond belief, wept over his finger, which he had broken, andcursed me again. I bade him be still and think shame ofhimself to be so great a cry-baby. Did he not hear theround going by above? I asked; and who could tell but what thenoise of his fall was already remarked, and the sentinels at thevery moment leaning upon the battlements to listen?

The round, however, went by, and nothing was discovered; thethird man came to the ground quite easily; the fourth was, ofcourse, child’s play; and before there were ten of uscollected, it seemed to me that, without the least injustice tomy comrades, I might proceed to take care of myself.

I knew their plan: they had a map and an almanack, anddesigned for Grangemouth, where they were to steal a ship.Suppose them to do so, I had no idea they were qualified tomanage it after it was stolen. Their whole escape, indeed,was the most haphazard thing imaginable; only the impatience ofcaptives and the ignorance of private soldiers would haveentertained so misbegotten a device; and though I played the goodcomrade and worked with them upon the tunnel, but for thelawyer’s message I should have let them go withoutme. Well, now they were beyond my help, as they had alwaysbeen beyond my counselling; and, without word said or leavetaken, I stole out of the little crowd. It is true I wouldrather have waited to shake hands with Laclas, but in the lastman who had descended I thought I recognised Clausel, and sincethe scene in the shed my distrust of Clausel was perfect. Ibelieved the man to be capable of any infamy, and events havesince shown that I was right.


I had two views. The first was, naturally, to get clearof Edinburgh Castle and the town, to say nothing of myfellow-prisoners; the second to work to the southward so long asit was night, and be near Swanston Cottage by morning. WhatI should do there and then, I had no guess, and did not greatlycare, being a devotee of a couple of divinities called Chance andCirc*mstance. Prepare, if possible; where it is impossible,work straight forward, and keep your eyes open and your tongueoiled. Wit and a good exterior—there is all life in anutshell.

I had at first a rather chequered journey: got involved ingardens, butted into houses, and had even once the misfortune toawake a sleeping family, the father of which, as I suppose,menaced me from the window with a blunderbuss. Altogether,though I had been some time gone from my companions, I was stillat no great distance, when a miserable accident put a period tothe escape. Of a sudden the night was divided by ascream. This was followed by the sound of somethingfalling, and that again by the report of a musket from the Castlebattlements. It was strange to hear the alarm spreadthrough the city. In the fortress drums were beat and abell rung backward. On all hands the watchmen sprang theirrattles. Even in that limbo or no-man’s-land where Iwas wandering, lights were made in the houses; sashes were flungup; I could hear neighbouring families converse from window towindow, and at length I was challenged myself.

‘Wha’s that?’ cried a big voice.

I could see it proceeded from a big man in a big nightcap,leaning from a one-pair window; and as I was not yet abreast ofhis house, I judged it was more wise to answer. This wasnot the first time I had had to stake my fortunes on the goodnessof my accent in a foreign tongue; and I have always found themoment inspiriting, as a gambler should. Pulling around mea sort of great-coat I had made of my blanket, to cover mysulphur-coloured livery,—‘A friend!’ saidI.

‘What like’s all this collieshangie?’ saidhe.

I had never heard of a collieshangie in my days, but with theracket all about us in the city, I could have no doubt as to theman’s meaning.

‘I do not know, sir, really,’ said I; ‘but Isuppose some of the prisoners will have escaped.’

‘Bedamned!’ says he.

‘Oh, sir, they will be soon taken,’ I replied:‘it has been found in time. Good morning,sir!’

‘Ye walk late, sir?’ he added.

‘Oh, surely not,’ said I, with a laugh.‘Earlyish, if you like!’ which brought me finallybeyond him, highly pleased with my success.

I was now come forth on a good thoroughfare, which led (aswell as I could judge) in my direction. It brought mealmost immediately through a piece of street, whence I could hearclose by the springing of a watchman’s rattle, and where Isuppose a sixth part of the windows would be open, and thepeople, in all sorts of night gear, talking with a kind of tragicgusto from one to another. Here, again, I must run thegauntlet of a half-dozen questions, the rattle all the whilesounding nearer; but as I was not walking inordinately quick, asI spoke like a gentleman, and the lamps were too dim to show mydress, I carried it off once more. One person, indeed,inquired where I was off to at that hour.

I replied vaguely and cheerfully, and as I escaped at one endof this dangerous pass I could see the watchman’s lanternentering by the other. I was now safe on a dark countryhighway, out of sight of lights and out of the fear ofwatchmen. And yet I had not gone above a hundred yardsbefore a fellow made an ugly rush at me from the roadside.I avoided him with a leap, and stood on guard, cursing my emptyhands, wondering whether I had to do with an officer or a merefootpad, and scarce knowing which to wish. My assailantstood a little; in the thick darkness I could see him bob andsidle as though he were feinting at me for an advantageousonfall. Then he spoke.

‘My goo’ frien’,’ says he, and at thefirst word I pricked my ears, ‘my goo’ frien’,will you oblishe me with lil neshary infamation? Whishroa’ t’ Cramond?’

I laughed out clear and loud, stepped up to the convivialist,took him by the shoulders and faced him about. ‘Mygood friend,’ said I, ‘I believe I know what is bestfor you much better than yourself, and may God forgive you thefright you have given me! There, get you gone toEdinburgh!’ And I gave a shove, which he obeyed withthe passive agility of a ball, and disappeared incontinently inthe darkness down the road by which I had myself come.

Once clear of this foolish fellow, I went on again up agradual hill, descended on the other side through the houses of acountry village, and came at last to the bottom of the mainascent leading to the Pentlands and my destination. I wassome way up when the fog began to lighten; a little farther, andI stepped by degrees into a clear starry night, and saw in frontof me, and quite distinct, the summits of the Pentlands, andbehind, the valley of the Forth and the city of my late captivityburied under a lake of vapour. I had but oneencounter—that of a farm-cart, which I heard, from a greatway ahead of me, creaking nearer in the night, and which passedme about the point of dawn like a thing seen in a dream, with twosilent figures in the inside nodding to the horse’ssteps. I presume they were asleep; by the shawl about herhead and shoulders, one of them should be a woman. Soon, byconcurrent steps, the day began to break and the fog to subsideand roll away. The east grew luminous and was barred withchilly colours, and the Castle on its rock, and the spires andchimneys of the upper town, took gradual shape, and arose, likeislands, out of the receding cloud. All about me was stilland sylvan; the road mounting and winding, with nowhere a sign ofany passenger, the birds chirping, I suppose for warmth, theboughs of the trees knocking together, and the red leaves fallingin the wind.

It was broad day, but still bitter cold and the sun not up,when I came in view of my destination. A single gable andchimney of the cottage peeped over the shoulder of the hill; notfar off, and a trifle higher on the mountain, a tall oldwhite-washed farmhouse stood among the trees, beside a fallingbrook; beyond were rough hills of pasture. I bethought methat shepherd folk were early risers, and if I were once seenskulking in that neighbourhood it might prove the ruin of myprospects; took advantage of a line of hedge, and worked myselfup in its shadow till I was come under the garden wall of myfriends’ house. The cottage was a little quaint placeof many rough-cast gables and grey roofs. It had somethingthe air of a rambling infinitesimal cathedral, the body of itrising in the midst two storeys high, with a steep-pitched roof,and sending out upon all hands (as it were chapter-houses,chapels, and transepts) one-storeyed and dwarfishprojections. To add to this appearance, it was grotesquelydecorated with crockets and gargoyles, ravished from somemedieval church. The place seemed hidden away, being notonly concealed in the trees of the garden, but, on the side onwhich I approached it, buried as high as the eaves by the risingof the ground. About the walls of the garden there went aline of well-grown elms and beeches, the first entirely bare, thelast still pretty well covered with red leaves, and the centrewas occupied with a thicket of laurel and holly, in which I couldsee arches cut and paths winding.

I was now within hail of my friends, and not much thebetter. The house appeared asleep; yet if I attempted towake any one, I had no guarantee it might not prove either theaunt with the gold eyeglasses (whom I could only remember withtrembling), or some ass of a servant-maid who should burst outscreaming at sight of me. Higher up I could hear and see ashepherd shouting to his dogs and striding on the rough sides ofthe mountain, and it was clear I must get to cover without lossof time. No doubt the holly thickets would have proved avery suitable retreat, but there was mounted on the wall a sortof signboard not uncommon in the country of Great Britain, andvery damping to the adventurous: Spring Gunsand Man-Traps was the legend that it bore. I havelearned since that these advertisem*nts, three times out of four,were in the nature of Quaker guns on a disarmed battery, but Ihad not learned it then, and even so, the odds would not havebeen good enough. For a choice, I would a hundred timessooner be returned to Edinburgh Castle and my corner in thebastion, than to leave my foot in a steel trap or have to digestthe contents of an automatic blunderbuss. There was but onechance left—that Ronald or Flora might be the first to comeabroad; and in order to profit by this chance if it occurred, Igot me on the cope of the wall in a place where it was screenedby the thick branches of a beech, and sat there waiting.

As the day wore on, the sun came very pleasantly out. Ihad been awake all night, I had undergone the most violentagitations of mind and body, and it is not so much to be wonderedat, as it was exceedingly unwise and foolhardy, that I shouldhave dropped into a doze. From this I awakened to thecharacteristic sound of digging, looked down, and saw immediatelybelow me the back view of a gardener in a stable waistcoat.Now he would appear steadily immersed in his business; anon, tomy more immediate terror, he would straighten his back, stretchhis arms, gaze about the otherwise deserted garden, and relish adeep pinch of snuff. It was my first thought to drop fromthe wall upon the other side. A glance sufficed to show methat even the way by which I had come was now cut off, and thefield behind me already occupied by a couple of shepherds’assistants and a score or two of sheep. I have named thetalismans on which I habitually depend, but here was aconjuncture in which both were wholly useless. Thecopestone of a wall arrayed with broken bottles is no favourablerostrum; and I might be as eloquent as Pitt, and as fascinatingas Richelieu, and neither the gardener nor the shepherd ladswould care a halfpenny. In short, there was no escapepossible from my absurd position: there I must continue to situntil one or other of my neighbours should raise his eyes andgive the signal for my capture.

The part of the wall on which (for my sins) I was posted couldbe scarce less than twelve feet high on the inside; the leaves ofthe beech which made a fashion of sheltering me were alreadypartly fallen; and I was thus not only perilously exposed myself,but enabled to command some part of the garden walks and (underan evergreen arch) the front lawn and windows of thecottage. For long nothing stirred except my friend with thespade; then I heard the opening of a sash; and presently aftersaw Miss Flora appear in a morning wrapper and come strollinghitherward between the borders, pausing and visiting herflowers—herself as fair. There was a friend;here, immediately beneath me, an unknownquantity—the gardener: how to communicate with the one andnot attract the notice of the other? To make a noise wasout of the question; I dared scarce to breathe. I heldmyself ready to make a gesture as soon as she should look, andshe looked in every possible direction but the one. She wasinterested in the vilest tuft of chickweed, she gazed at thesummit of the mountain, she came even immediately below me andconversed on the most fastidious topics with the gardener; but tothe top of that wall she would not dedicate a glance! Atlast she began to retrace her steps in the direction of thecottage; whereupon, becoming quite desperate, I broke off a pieceof plaster, took a happy aim, and hit her with it in the nape ofthe neck. She clapped her hand to the place, turned about,looked on all sides for an explanation, and spying me (as indeedI was parting the branches to make it the more easy), halfuttered and half swallowed down again a cry of surprise.

The infernal gardener was erect upon the instant.‘What’s your wull, miss?’ said he.

Her readiness amazed me. She had already turned and wasgazing in the opposite direction. ‘There’s achild among the artichokes,’ she said.

‘The Plagues of Egyp’! I’ll seeto them!’ cried the gardener truculently, and with ahurried waddle disappeared among the evergreens.

That moment she turned, she came running towards me, her armsstretched out, her face incarnadined for the one moment withheavenly blushes, the next pale as death. ‘Monsieurde. Saint-Yves!’ she said.

‘My dear young lady,’ I said, ‘this is thedamnedest liberty—I know it! But what else was I todo?’

‘You have escaped?’ said she.

‘If you call this escape,’ I replied.

‘But you cannot possibly stop there!’ shecried.

‘I know it,’ said I. ‘And where am Ito go?’

She struck her hands together. ‘I have it!’she exclaimed. ‘Come down by the beechtrunk—you must leave no footprint in theborder—quickly, before Robie can get back! I am thehen-wife here: I keep the key; you must go into thehen-house—for the moment.’

I was by her side at once. Both cast a hasty glance atthe blank windows of the cottage and so much as was visible ofthe garden alleys; it seemed there was none to observe us.She caught me by the sleeve and ran. It was no time forcompliments; hurry breathed upon our necks; and I ran along withher to the next corner of the garden, where a wired court and aboard hovel standing in a grove of trees advertised my place ofrefuge. She thrust me in without a word; the bulk of thefowls were at the same time emitted; and I found myself the nextmoment locked in alone with half a dozen sitting hens. Inthe twilight of the place all fixed their eyes on me severely,and seemed to upbraid me with some crying impropriety.Doubtless the hen has always a puritanic appearance, although (inits own behaviour) I could never observe it to be more particularthan its neighbours. But conceive a British hen!


I was half an hour at least in the society of thesedistressing bipeds, and alone with my own reflections andnecessities. I was in great pain of my flayed hands, andhad nothing to treat them with; I was hungry and thirsty, and hadnothing to eat or to drink; I was thoroughly tired, and there wasno place for me to sit. To be sure there was the floor, butnothing could be imagined less inviting.

At the sound of approaching footsteps, my good-humour wasrestored. The key rattled in the lock, and Master Ronaldentered, closed the door behind him, and leaned his back toit.

‘I say, you know!’ he said, and shook a sullenyoung head.

‘I know it’s a liberty,’ said I.

‘It’s infernally awkward: my position isinfernally embarrassing,’ said he.

‘Well,’ said I, ‘and what do you think ofmine?’

This seemed to pose him entirely, and he remained gazing uponme with a convincing air of youth and innocence. I couldhave laughed, but I was not so inhumane.

‘I am in your hands,’ said I, with a littlegesture. ‘You must do with me what you thinkright.’

‘Ah, yes!’ he cried: ‘if I knew!’

‘You see,’ said I, ‘it would be different ifyou had received your commission. Properly speaking, youare not yet a combatant; I have ceased to be one; and I think itarguable that we are just in the position of one ordinarygentleman to another, where friendship usually comes before thelaw. Observe, I only say arguable. ForGod’s sake, don’t think I wish to dictate anopinion. These are the sort of nasty little businesses,inseparable from war, which every gentleman must decide forhimself. If I were in your place—’

‘Ay, what would you do, then?’ says he.

‘Upon my word, I do not know,’ said I.‘Hesitate, as you are doing, I believe.’

‘I will tell you,’ he said. ‘I have akinsman, and it is what he would think, that I amthinking. It is General Graham of Lynedoch—Sir ThomasGraham. I scarcely know him, but I believe I admire himmore than I do God.’

‘I admire him a good deal myself,’ said I,‘and have good reason to. I have fought with him,been beaten, and run away. Veni, victus sum,evasi.’

‘What!’ he cried. ‘You were atBarossa?’

‘There and back, which many could not say,’ saidI. ‘It was a pretty affair and a hot one, and theSpaniards behaved abominably, as they usually did in a pitchedfield; the Marshal Duke of Belluno made a fool of himself, andnot for the first time; and your friend Sir Thomas had the bestof it, so far as there was any best. He is a brave andready officer.’

‘Now, then, you will understand!’ said theboy. ‘I wish to please Sir Thomas: what would hedo?’

‘Well, I can tell you a story,’ said I, ‘atrue one too, and about this very combat of Chiclana, or Barossaas you call it. I was in the Eighth of the Line; we lostthe eagle of the First Battalion, more betoken, but it cost youdear. Well, we had repulsed more charges than I care tocount, when your 87th Regiment came on at a foot’s pace,very slow but very steady; in front of them a mounted officer,his hat in his hand, white-haired, and talking very quietly tothe battalions. Our Major, Vigo-Roussillon, set spurs tohis horse and galloped out to sabre him, but seeing him an oldman, very handsome, and as composed as if he were in acoffee-house, lost heart and galloped back again. Only, yousee, they had been very close together for the moment, and lookedeach other in the eyes. Soon after the Major was wounded,taken prisoner, and carried into Cadiz. One fine day theyannounced to him the visit of the General, Sir ThomasGraham. “Well, sir,” said the General, takinghim by the hand, “I think we were face to face upon thefield.” It was the white-haired officer!’

‘Ah!’ cried the boy,—his eyes wereburning.

‘Well, and here is the point,’ I continued.‘Sir Thomas fed the Major from his own table from that day,and served him with six covers.’

‘Yes, it is a beautiful—a beautiful story,’said Ronald. ‘And yet somehow it is not thesame—is it?’

‘I admit it freely,’ said I.

The boy stood awhile brooding. ‘Well, I take myrisk of it,’ he cried. ‘I believe it’streason to my sovereign—I believe there is an infamouspunishment for such a crime—and yet I’m hanged if Ican give you up.’

I was as much moved as he. ‘I could almost beg youto do otherwise,’ I said. ‘I was a brute tocome to you, a brute and a coward. You are a noble enemy;you will make a noble soldier.’ And with rather ahappy idea of a compliment for this warlike youth, I stood upstraight and gave him the salute.

He was for a moment confused; his face flushed.‘Well, well, I must be getting you something to eat, but itwill not be for six,’ he added, with a smile: ‘onlywhat we can get smuggled out. There is my aunt in the road,you see,’ and he locked me in again with the indignanthens.

I always smile when I recall that young fellow; and yet, ifthe reader were to smile also, I should feel ashamed. If myson shall be only like him when he comes to that age, it will bea brave day for me and not a bad one for his country.

At the same time I cannot pretend that I was sorry when hissister succeeded in his place. She brought me a few crustsof bread and a jug of milk, which she had handsomely laced withwhisky after the Scottish manner.

‘I am so sorry,’ she said: ‘I dared notbring on anything more. We are so small a family, and myaunt keeps such an eye upon the servants. I have put somewhisky in the milk—it is more wholesome so—and witheggs you will be able to make something of a meal. How manyeggs will you be wanting to that milk? for I must be taking theothers to my aunt—that is my excuse for being here. Ishould think three or four. Do you know how to beat them?or shall I do it?’

Willing to detain her a while longer in the hen-house, Idisplayed my bleeding palms; at which she cried aloud.

‘My dear Miss Flora, you cannot make an omelette withoutbreaking eggs,’ said I; ‘and it is no bagatelle toescape from Edinburgh Castle. One of us, I think, was evenkilled.’

‘And you are as white as a rag, too,’ sheexclaimed, ‘and can hardly stand! Here is my shawl,sit down upon it here in the corner, and I will beat youreggs. See, I have brought a fork too; I should have been agood person to take care of Jacobites or Covenanters in olddays! You shall have more to eat this evening; Ronald is tobring it you from town. We have money enough, although nofood that we can call our own. Ah, if Ronald and I kepthouse, you should not be lying in this shed! He admires youso much.’

‘My dear friend,’ said I, ‘for God’ssake do not embarrass me with more alms. I loved to receivethem from that hand, so long as they were needed; but they are sono more, and whatever else I may lack—and I lackeverything—it is not money.’ I pulled out mysheaf of notes and detached the top one: it was written for tenpounds, and signed by that very famous individual, AbrahamNewlands. ‘Oblige me, as you would like me to obligeyour brother if the parts were reversed, and take this note forthe expenses. I shall need not only food, butclothes.’

‘Lay it on the ground,’ said she. ‘Imust not stop my beating.’

‘You are not offended?’ I exclaimed.

She answered me by a look that was a reward in itself, andseemed to imply the most heavenly offers for the future.There was in it a shadow of reproach, and such warmth ofcommunicative cordiality as left me speechless. I watchedher instead till her hens’ milk was ready.

‘Now,’ said she, ‘taste that.’

I did so, and swore it was nectar. She collected hereggs and crouched in front of me to watch me eat. There wasabout this tall young lady at the moment an air of motherlinessdelicious to behold. I am like the English general, and tothis day I still wonder at my moderation.

‘What sort of clothes will you be wanting?’ saidshe.

‘The clothes of a gentleman,’ said I.‘Right or wrong, I think it is the part I am best qualifiedto play. Mr. St. Ives (for that’s to be my name uponthe journey) I conceive as rather a theatrical figure, and hismake-up should be to match.’

‘And yet there is a difficulty,’ said she.‘If you got coarse clothes the fit would hardlymatter. But the clothes of a fine gentleman—O, it isabsolutely necessary that these should fit! And above all,with your’—she paused a moment—‘to ourideas somewhat noticeable manners.’

‘Alas for my poor manners!’ said I.‘But my dear friend Flora, these little noticeabilities arejust what mankind has to suffer under. Yourself, you see,you’re very noticeable even when you come in a crowd tovisit poor prisoners in the Castle.’

I was afraid I should frighten my good angel visitant away,and without the smallest breath of pause went on to add a fewdirections as to stuffs and colours.

She opened big eyes upon me. ‘O, Mr. St.Ives!’ she cried—‘if that is to be yourname—I do not say they would not be becoming; but for ajourney, do you think they would be wise? I amafraid’—she gave a pretty break oflaughter—‘I am afraid they would bedaft-like!’

‘Well, and am I not daft?’ I asked her.

‘I do begin to think you are,’ said she.

‘There it is, then!’ said I. ‘I havebeen long enough a figure of fun. Can you not feel with methat perhaps the bitterest thing in this captivity has been theclothes? Make me a captive—bind me with chains if youlike—but let me be still myself. You do not know whatit is to be a walking travesty—among foes,’ I addedbitterly.

‘O, but you are too unjust!’ she cried.‘You speak as though any one ever dreamed of laughing atyou. But no one did. We were all pained to theheart. Even my aunt—though sometimes I do think shewas not quite in good taste—you should have seen her andheard her at home! She took so much interest. Everypatch in your clothes made us sorry; it should have been asister’s work.’

‘That is what I never had—a sister,’ saidI. ‘But since you say that I did not make youlaugh—’

‘O, Mr. St. Ives! never!’ she exclaimed.‘Not for one moment. It was all too sad. To seea gentleman—’

‘In the clothes of a harlequin, and begging?’ Isuggested.

‘To see a gentleman in distress, and nobly supportingit,’ she said.

‘And do you not understand, my fair foe,’ said I,‘that even if all were as you say—even if you hadthought my travesty were becoming—I should be only the moreanxious, for my sake, for my country’s sake, and for thesake of your kindness, that you should see him whom you havehelped as God meant him to be seen? that you should havesomething to remember him by at least more characteristic than amisfitting sulphur-yellow suit, and half a week’sbeard?’

‘You think a great deal too much of clothes,’ shesaid. ‘I am not that kind of girl.’

‘And I am afraid I am that kind of man,’ saidI. ‘But do not think of me too harshly forthat. I talked just now of something to remember by.I have many of them myself, of these beautiful reminders, ofthese keepsakes, that I cannot be parted from until I lose memoryand life. Many of them are great things, many of them arehigh virtues—charity, mercy, faith. But some of themare trivial enough. Miss Flora, do you remember the daythat I first saw you, the day of the strong east wind? MissFlora, shall I tell you what you wore?’

We had both risen to our feet, and she had her hand already onthe door to go. Perhaps this attitude emboldened me toprofit by the last seconds of our interview; and it certainlyrendered her escape the more easy.

‘O, you are too romantic!’ she said, laughing; andwith that my sun was blown out, my enchantress had fled away, andI was again left alone in the twilight with the lady hens.


The rest of the day I slept in the corner of the hen-houseupon Flora’s shawl. Nor did I awake until a lightshone suddenly in my eyes, and starting up with a gasp (for,indeed, at the moment I dreamed I was still swinging from theCastle battlements) I found Ronald bending over me with alantern. It appeared it was past midnight, that I had sleptabout sixteen hours, and that Flora had returned her poultry tothe shed and I had heard her not. I could not but wonder ifshe had stooped to look at me as I slept. The puritan hensnow slept irremediably; and being cheered with the promise ofsupper I wished them an ironical good-night, and was lightedacross the garden and noiselessly admitted to a bedroom on theground floor of the cottage. There I found soap, water,razors—offered me diffidently by my beardlesshost—and an outfit of new clothes. To be shaved againwithout depending on the barber of the gaol was a source of adelicious, if a childish joy. My hair was sadly too long,but I was none so unwise as to make an attempt on itmyself. And, indeed, I thought it did not wholly misbecomeme as it was, being by nature curly. The clothes were aboutas good as I expected. The waistcoat was of toilenet, apretty piece, the trousers of fine kerseymere, and the coat satextraordinarily well. Altogether, when I beheld thischangeling in the glass, I kissed my hand to him.

‘My dear fellow,’ said I, ‘have you noscent?’

‘Good God, no!’ cried Ronald. ‘What doyou want with scent?’

‘Capital thing on a campaign,’ said I.‘But I can do without.’

I was now led, with the same precautions against noise, intothe little bow-windowed dining-room of the cottage. Theshutters were up, the lamp guiltily turned low; the beautifulFlora greeted me in a whisper; and when I was set down to table,the pair proceeded to help me with precautions that might haveseemed excessive in the Ear of Dionysius.

‘She sleeps up there,’ observed the boy, pointingto the ceiling; and the knowledge that I was so imminently nearto the resting-place of that gold eyeglass touched even myselfwith some uneasiness.

Our excellent youth had imported from the city a meat pie, andI was glad to find it flanked with a decanter of really admirablewine of Oporto. While I ate, Ronald entertained me with thenews of the city, which had naturally rung all day with ourescape: troops and mounted messengers had followed each otherforth at all hours and in all directions; but according to thelast intelligence no recapture had been made. Opinion intown was very favourable to us: our courage was applauded, andmany professed regret that our ultimate chance of escape shouldbe so small. The man who had fallen was one Sombref, apeasant; he was one who slept in a different part of the Castle;and I was thus assured that the whole of my former companions hadattained their liberty, and Shed A was untenanted.

From this we wandered insensibly into other topics. Itis impossible to exaggerate the pleasure I took to be thussitting at the same table with Flora, in the clothes of agentleman, at liberty and in the full possession of my spiritsand resources; of all of which I had need, because it wasnecessary that I should support at the same time two oppositecharacters, and at once play the cavalier and lively soldier forthe eyes of Ronald, and to the ears of Flora maintain the sameprofound and sentimental note that I had already sounded.Certainly there are days when all goes well with a man; when hiswit, his digestion, his mistress are in a conspiracy to spoilhim, and even the weather smiles upon his wishes. I willonly say of myself upon that evening that I surpassed myexpectations, and was privileged to delight my hosts.Little by little they forgot their terrors and I my caution;until at last we were brought back to earth by a catastrophe thatmight very easily have been foreseen, but was not the lessastonishing to us when it occurred.

I had filled all the glasses. ‘I have a toast topropose,’ I whispered, ‘or rather three, but all soinextricably interwoven that they will not bear dividing. Iwish first to drink to the health of a brave and therefore agenerous enemy. He found me disarmed, a fugitive andhelpless. Like the lion, he disdained so poor a triumph;and when he might have vindicated an easy valour, he preferred tomake a friend. I wish that we should next drink to a fairerand a more tender foe. She found me in prison; she cheeredme with a priceless sympathy; what she has done since, I know shehas done in mercy, and I only pray—I dare scarcehope—her mercy may prove to have been merciful. And Iwish to conjoin with these, for the first, and perhaps the lasttime, the health—and I fear I may already say thememory—of one who has fought, not always without success,against the soldiers of your nation; but who came here,vanquished already, only to be vanquished again by the loyal handof the one, by the unforgettable eyes of the other.’

It is to be feared I may have lent at times a certainresonancy to my voice; it is to be feared that Ronald, who wasnone the better for his own hospitality, may have set down hisglass with something of a clang. Whatever may have been thecause, at least, I had scarce finished my compliment before wewere aware of a thump upon the ceiling overhead. It was tobe thought some very solid body had descended to the floor fromthe level (possibly) of a bed. I have never seenconsternation painted in more lively colours than on the faces ofmy hosts. It was proposed to smuggle me forth into thegarden, or to conceal my form under a horsehair sofa which stoodagainst the wall. For the first expedient, as was now plainby the approaching footsteps, there was no longer time; from thesecond I recoiled with indignation.

‘My dear creatures,’ said I, ‘let us die,but do not let us be ridiculous.’

The words were still upon my lips when the door opened and myfriend of the gold eyeglass appeared, a memorable figure, on thethreshold. In one hand she bore a bedroom candlestick; inthe other, with the steadiness of a dragoon, ahorse-pistol. She was wound about in shawls which did notwholly conceal the candid fabric of her nightdress, andsurmounted by a nightcap of portentous architecture. Thusaccoutred, she made her entrance; laid down the candle andpistol, as no longer called for; looked about the room with asilence more eloquent than oaths; and then, in a thrillingvoice—‘To whom have I the pleasure?’ she said,addressing me with a ghost of a bow.

‘Madam, I am charmed, I am sure,’ said I.‘The story is a little long; and our meeting, howeverwelcome, was for the moment entirely unexpected by myself.I am sure—’ but here I found I was quite sure ofnothing, and tried again. ‘I have the honour,’I began, and found I had the honour to be only exceedinglyconfused. With that, I threw myself outright upon hermercy. ‘Madam, I must be more frank with you,’I resumed. ‘You have already proved your charity andcompassion for the French prisoners, I am one of these; and if myappearance be not too much changed, you may even yet recognise inme that Oddity who had the good fortune more than once tomake you smile.’

Still gazing upon me through her glass, she uttered anuncompromising grunt; and then, turning to herniece—‘Flora,’ said she, ‘how comes hehere?’

The culprits poured out for a while an antiphony ofexplanations, which died out at last in a miserable silence.

‘I think at least you might have told your aunt,’she snorted.

‘Madam,’ I interposed, ‘they were about todo so. It is my fault if it be not done already. ButI made it my prayer that your slumbers might be respected, andthis necessary formula of my presentation should be delayed untilto-morrow in the morning.’

The old lady regarded me with undissembled incredulity, towhich I was able to find no better repartee than a profound and Itrust graceful reverence.

‘French prisoners are very well in their place,’she said, ‘but I cannot see that their place is in myprivate dining-room.’

‘Madam,’ said I, ‘I hope it may be saidwithout offence, but (except the Castle of Edinburgh) I cannotthink upon the spot from which I would so readily beabsent.’

At this, to my relief, I thought I could perceive a vestige ofa smile to steal upon that iron countenance and to be bittenimmediately in.

‘And if it is a fair question, what do they callye?’ she asked.

‘At your service, the Vicomte Anne de St.-Yves,’said I.

‘Mosha the Viscount,’ said she, ‘I am afraidyou do us plain people a great deal too much honour.’

‘My dear lady,’ said I, ‘let us be seriousfor a moment. What was I to do? Where was I togo? And how can you be angry with these benevolent childrenwho took pity on one so unfortunate as myself? Your humbleservant is no such terrific adventurer that you should come outagainst him with horse-pistoland’—smiling—‘bedroom candlesticks.It is but a young gentleman in extreme distress, hunted uponevery side, and asking no more than to escape from hispursuers. I know your character, I read it in yourface’—the heart trembled in my body as I said thesedaring words. ‘There are unhappy English prisoners inFrance at this day, perhaps at this hour. Perhaps at thishour they kneel as I do; they take the hand of her who mightconceal and assist them; they press it to their lips as Ido—’

‘Here, here!’ cried the old lady, breaking from mysolicitations. ‘Behave yourself before folk!Saw ever anyone the match of that? And on earth, my dears,what are we to do with him?’

‘Pack him off, my dear lady,’ said I: ‘packoff the impudent fellow double-quick! And if it may be, andif your good heart allows it, help him a little on the way he hasto go.’

‘What’s this pie?’ she criedstridently. ‘Where is this pie from,Flora?’

No answer was vouchsafed by my unfortunate and (I may say)extinct accomplices.

‘Is that my port?’ she pursued.‘Hough! Will somebody give me a glass of my portwine?’

I made haste to serve her.

She looked at me over the rim with an extraordinaryexpression. ‘I hope ye liked it?’ said she.

‘It is even a magnificent wine,’ said I.

‘Aweel, it was my father laid it down,’ saidshe. ‘There were few knew more about port wine thanmy father, God rest him!’ She settled herself in achair with an alarming air of resolution. ‘And sothere is some particular direction that you wish to go in?’said she.

‘O,’ said I, following her example, ‘I am byno means such a vagrant as you suppose. I have goodfriends, if I could get to them, for which all I want is to beonce clear of Scotland; and I have money for theroad.’ And I produced my bundle.

‘English bank-notes?’ she said.‘That’s not very handy for Scotland. It’sbeen some fool of an Englishman that’s given you these,I’m thinking. How much is it?’

‘I declare to heaven I never thought to count!’ Iexclaimed. ‘But that is soon remedied.’

And I counted out ten notes of ten pound each, all in the nameof Abraham Newlands, and five bills of country bankers for asmany guineas.

‘One hundred and twenty six pound five,’ cried theold lady. ‘And you carry such a sum about you, andhave not so much as counted it! If you are not a thief, youmust allow you are very thief-like.’

‘And yet, madam, the money is legitimately mine,’said I.

She took one of the bills and held it up. ‘Isthere any probability, now, that this could be traced?’ sheasked.

‘None, I should suppose; and if it were, it would be nomatter,’ said I. ‘With your usual penetration,you guessed right. An Englishman brought it me. Itreached me, through the hands of his English solicitor, from mygreat-uncle, the Comte de Kéroual de Saint-Yves, I believethe richest émigré in London.’

‘I can do no more than take your word for it,’said she.

‘And I trust, madam, not less,’ said I.

‘Well,’ said she, ‘at this rate the mattermay be feasible. I will cash one of these five-guineabills, less the exchange, and give you silver and Scots notes tobear you as far as the border. Beyond that, Mosha theViscount, you will have to depend upon yourself.’

I could not but express a civil hesitation as to whether theamount would suffice, in my case, for so long a journey.

‘Ay,’ said she, ‘but you havenae heard meout. For if you are not too fine a gentleman to travel witha pair of drovers, I believe I have found the very thing, and theLord forgive me for a treasonable old wife! There are acouple stopping up by with the shepherd-man at the farm;to-morrow they will take the road for England, probably byskriegh of day—and in my opinion you had best be travellingwith the stots,’ said she.

‘For Heaven’s sake do not suppose me to be soeffeminate a character!’ I cried. ‘An oldsoldier of Napoleon is certainly beyond suspicion. But,dear lady, to what end? and how is the society of these excellentgentlemen supposed to help me?’

‘My dear sir,’ said she, ‘you do not at allunderstand your own predicament, and must just leave your mattersin the hands of those who do. I dare say you have nevereven heard tell of the drove-roads or the drovers; and I amcertainly not going to sit up all night to explain it toyou. Suffice it, that it is me who is arranging thisaffair—the more shame to me!—and that is the way yehave to go. Ronald,’ she continued, ‘away up-byto the shepherds; rowst them out of their beds, and make itperfectly distinct that Sim is not to leave till he has seenme.’

Ronald was nothing loath to escape from his aunt’sneighbourhood, and left the room and the cottage with a silentexpedition that was more like flight than mere obedience.Meanwhile the old lady turned to her niece.

‘And I would like to know what we are to do with him thenight!’ she cried.

‘Ronald and I meant to put him in the hen-house,’said the encrimsoned Flora.

‘And I can tell you he is to go to no such aplace,’ replied the aunt. ‘Hen-house,indeed! If a guest he is to be, he shall sleep in no mortalhen-house. Your room is the most fit, I think, if he willconsent to occupy it on so great a suddenty. And as foryou, Flora, you shall sleep with me.’

I could not help admiring the prudence and tact of this olddowager, and of course it was not for me to makeobjections. Ere I well knew how, I was alone with a flatcandlestick, which is not the most sympathetic of companions, andstood studying the snuff in a frame of mind between triumph andchagrin. All had gone well with my flight: the masterfullady who had arrogated to herself the arrangement of the detailsgave me every confidence; and I saw myself already arriving at myuncle’s door. But, alas! it was another story with mylove affair. I had seen and spoken with her alone; I hadventured boldly; I had been not ill received; I had seen herchange colour, had enjoyed the undissembled kindness of her eyes;and now, in a moment, down comes upon the scene that apocalypticfigure with the nightcap and the horse-pistol, and with the verywind of her coming behold me separated from my love!Gratitude and admiration contended in my breast with the extremeof natural rancour. My appearance in her house at pastmidnight had an air (I could not disguise it from myself) thatwas insolent and underhand, and could not but minister to theworst suspicions. And the old lady had taken it well.Her generosity was no more to be called in question than hercourage, and I was afraid that her intelligence would be found tomatch. Certainly, Miss Flora had to support some shrewdlooks, and certainly she had been troubled. I could see butthe one way before me: to profit by an excellent bed, to try tosleep soon, to be stirring early, and to hope for some renewedoccasion in the morning. To have said so much and yet tosay no more, to go out into the world upon so half-hearted aparting, was more than I could accept.

It is my belief that the benevolent fiend sat up all night tobaulk me. She was at my bedside with a candle long ere day,roused me, laid out for me a damnable misfit of clothes, and bademe pack my own (which were wholly unsuited to the journey) in abundle. Sore grudging, I arrayed myself in a suit of somecountry fabric, as delicate as sackcloth and about as becoming asa shroud; and, on coming forth, found the dragon had prepared forme a hearty breakfast. She took the head of the table,poured out the tea, and entertained me as I ate with a great dealof good sense and a conspicuous lack of charm. How oftendid I not regret the change!—how often compare her, andcondemn her in the comparison, with her charming niece! Butif my entertainer was not beautiful, she had certainly been busyin my interest. Already she was in communication with mydestined fellow-travellers; and the device on which she hadstruck appeared entirely suitable. I was a young Englishmanwho had outrun the constable; warrants were out against me inScotland, and it had become needful I should pass the borderwithout loss of time, and privately.

‘I have given a very good account of you,’ saidshe, ‘which I hope you may justify. I told them therewas nothing against you beyond the fact that you were put to thehaw (if that is the right word) for debt.’

‘I pray God you have the expression incorrectly,ma’am,’ said I. ‘I do not give myself outfor a person easily alarmed; but you must admit there issomething barbarous and mediaeval in the sound well qualified tostartle a poor foreigner.’

‘It is the name of a process in Scots Law, and needalarm no honest man,’ said she. ‘But you are avery idle-minded young gentleman; you must still have your joke,I see: I only hope you will have no cause to regretit.’

‘I pray you not to suppose, because I speak lightly,that I do not feel deeply,’ said I. ‘Yourkindness has quite conquered me; I lay myself at yourdisposition, I beg you to believe, with real tenderness; I prayyou to consider me from henceforth as the most devoted of yourfriends.’

‘Well, well,’ she said, ‘here comes yourdevoted friend the drover. I’m thinking he will beeager for the road; and I will not be easy myself till I see youwell off the premises, and the dishes washed, before myservant-woman wakes. Praise God, we have gotten one that isa treasure at the sleeping!’

The morning was already beginning to be blue in the trees ofthe garden, and to put to shame the candle by which I hadbreakfasted. The lady rose from table, and I had no choicebut to follow her example. All the time I was beating mybrains for any means by which I should be able to get a wordapart with Flora, or find the time to write her a billet.The windows had been open while I breakfasted, I suppose toventilate the room from any traces of my passage there; and,Master Ronald appearing on the front lawn, my ogre leaned forthto address him.

‘Ronald,’ she said, ‘wasn’t that Simthat went by the wall?’

I snatched my advantage. Right at her back there waspen, ink, and paper laid out. I wrote: ‘I loveyou’; and before I had time to write more, or so much as toblot what I had written, I was again under the guns of the goldeyeglasses.

‘It’s time,’ she began; and then, as sheobserved my occupation, ‘Umph!’ she broke off.‘Ye have something to write?’ she demanded.

‘Some notes, madam,’ said I, bowing withalacrity.

‘Notes,’ she said; ‘or a note?’

‘There is doubtless some finesse of the Englishlanguage that I do not comprehend,’ said I.

‘I’ll contrive, however, to make my meaning veryplain to ye, Mosha le Viscount,’ she continued.‘I suppose you desire to be considered agentleman?’

‘Can you doubt it, madam?’ said I.

‘I doubt very much, at least, whether you go to theright way about it,’ she said. ‘You have comehere to me, I cannot very well say how; I think you will admityou owe me some thanks, if it was only for the breakfast I madeye. But what are you to me? A waif young man, not sofar to seek for looks and manners, with some English notes inyour pocket and a price upon your head. I am a lady; I havebeen your hostess, with however little will; and I desire thatthis random acquaintance of yours with my family will cease anddetermine.’

I believe I must have coloured. ‘Madam,’said I, ‘the notes are of no importance; and your leastpleasure ought certainly to be my law. You have felt, andyou have been pleased to express, a doubt of me. I tearthem up.’ Which you may be sure I did thoroughly.

‘There’s a good lad!’ said the dragon, andimmediately led the way to the front lawn.

The brother and sister were both waiting us here, and, as wellas I could make out in the imperfect light, bore every appearanceof having passed through a rather cruel experience. Ronaldseemed ashamed to so much as catch my eye in the presence of hisaunt, and was the picture of embarrassment. As for Flora,she had scarce the time to cast me one look before the dragontook her by the arm, and began to march across the garden in theextreme first glimmer of the dawn without exchangingspeech. Ronald and I followed in equal silence.

There was a door in that same high wall on the top of which Ihad sat perched no longer gone than yesterday morning. Thisthe old lady set open with a key; and on the other side we wereaware of a rough-looking, thick-set man, leaning with his arms(through which was passed a formidable staff) on a dry-stonedyke. Him the old lady immediately addressed.

‘Sim,’ said she, ‘this is the younggentleman.’

Sim replied with an inarticulate grumble of sound, and amovement of one arm and his head, which did duty for asalutation.

‘Now, Mr. St. Ives,’ said the old lady,‘it’s high time for you to be taking the road.But first of all let me give the change of your five-guineabill. Here are four pounds of it in British Linen notes,and the balance in small silver, less sixpence. Some chargea shilling, I believe, but I have given you the benefit of thedoubt. See and guide it with all the sense that youpossess.’

‘And here, Mr. St. Ives,’ said Flora, speaking forthe first time, ‘is a plaid which you will find quitenecessary on so rough a journey. I hope you will take itfrom the hands of a Scotch friend,’ she added, and hervoice trembled.

‘Genuine holly: I cut it myself,’ said Ronald, andgave me as good a cudgel as a man could wish for in a row.

The formality of these gifts, and the waiting figure of thedriver, told me loudly that I must be gone. I dropped onone knee and bade farewell to the aunt, kissing her hand. Idid the like—but with how different a passion!—to herniece; as for the boy, I took him to my arms and embraced himwith a cordiality that seemed to strike him speechless.‘Farewell!’ and ‘Farewell!’ I said.‘I shall never forget my friends. Keep me sometimesin memory. Farewell!’ With that I turned my back andbegan to walk away; and had scarce done so, when I heard the doorin the high wall close behind me. Of course this was theaunt’s doing; and of course, if I know anything of humancharacter, she would not let me go without some tartexpressions. I declare, even if I had heard them, I shouldnot have minded in the least, for I was quite persuaded that,whatever admirers I might be leaving behind me in SwanstonCottage, the aunt was not the least sincere.


It took me a little effort to come abreast of my newcompanion; for though he walked with an ugly roll and no greatappearance of speed, he could cover the around at a good ratewhen he wanted to. Each looked at the other: I with naturalcuriosity, he with a great appearance of distaste. I haveheard since that his heart was entirely set against me; he hadseen me kneel to the ladies, and diagnosed me for a‘gesterin’ eediot.’

‘So, ye’re for England, are ye?’ saidhe.

I told him yes.

‘Weel, there’s waur places, I believe,’ washis reply; and he relapsed into a silence which was not brokenduring a quarter of an hour of steady walking.

This interval brought us to the foot of a bare green valley,which wound upwards and backwards among the hills. A littlestream came down the midst and made a succession of clear pools;near by the lowest of which I was aware of a drove of shaggycattle, and a man who seemed the very counterpart of Mr. Simmaking a breakfast upon bread and cheese. This seconddrover (whose name proved to be Candlish) rose on ourapproach.

‘Here’s a mannie that’s to gang through withus,’ said Sim. ‘It was the auld wife,Gilchrist, wanted it.’

‘Aweel, aweel,’ said the other; and presently,remembering his manners, and looking on me with a solemn grin,‘A fine day!’ says he.

I agreed with him, and asked him how he did.

‘Brawly,’ was the reply; and without furthercivilities, the pair proceeded to get the cattle under way.This, as well as almost all the herding, was the work of a pairof comely and intelligent dogs, directed by Sim or Candlish inlittle more than monosyllables. Presently we were ascendingthe side of the mountain by a rude green track, whose presence Ihad not hitherto observed. A continual sound of munchingand the crying of a great quantity of moor birds accompanied ourprogress, which the deliberate pace and perennial appetite of thecattle rendered wearisomely slow. In the midst my twoconductors marched in a contented silence that I could not butadmire. The more I looked at them, the more I was impressedby their absurd resemblance to each other. They weredressed in the same coarse homespun, carried similar sticks, wereequally begrimed about the nose with snuff, and each wound in anidentical plaid of what is called the shepherd’startan. In a back view they might be described asindistinguishable; and even from the front they were muchalike. An incredible coincidence of humours augmented theimpression. Thrice and four times I attempted to pave theway for some exchange of thought, sentiment, or—at theleast of it—human words. An Ay or anNhm was the sole return, and the topic died on thehill-side without echo. I can never deny that I waschagrined; and when, after a little more walking, Sim turnedtowards me and offered me a ram’s horn of snuff, with thequestion ‘Do ye use it?’ I answered, with someanimation, ‘Faith, sir, I would use pepper to introduce alittle cordiality.’ But even this sally failed toreach, or at least failed to soften, my companions.

At this rate we came to the summit of a ridge, and saw thetrack descend in front of us abruptly into a desert vale, about aleague in length, and closed at the farther end by no less barrenhilltops. Upon this point of vantage Sim came to a halt,took off his hat, and mopped his brow.

‘Weel,’ he said, ‘here we’re at thetop o’ Howden.’

‘The top o’ Howden, sure eneuch,’ saidCandlish.

‘Mr. St. Ivey, are ye dry?’ said the first.

‘Now, really,’ said I, ‘is not this Satanreproving sin?’

‘What ails ye, man?’ said he.‘I’m offerin’ ye a dram.’

‘Oh, if it be anything to drink,’ said I, ‘Iam as dry as my neighbours.’

Whereupon Sim produced from the corner of his plaid a blackbottle, and we all drank and pledged each other. I foundthese gentlemen followed upon such occasions an invariableetiquette, which you may be certain I made haste toimitate. Each wiped his mouth with the back of his lefthand, held up the bottle in his right, remarked with emphasis,‘Here’s to ye!’ and swallowed as much of thespirit as his fancy prompted. This little ceremony, whichwas the nearest thing to manners I could perceive in either of mycompanions, was repeated at becoming intervals, generally afteran ascent. Occasionally we shared a mouthful of ewe-milkcheese and an inglorious form of bread, which I understood (butam far from engaging my honour on the point) to be called‘shearer’s bannock.’ And that may be saidto have concluded our whole active intercourse for the firstday.

I had the more occasion to remark the extraordinarily desolatenature of that country, through which the drove road continued,hour after hour and even day after day, to wind. Acontinual succession of insignificant shaggy hills, divided bythe course of ten thousand brooks, through which we had to wade,or by the side of which we encamped at night; infiniteperspectives of heather, infinite quantities of moorfowl; hereand there, by a stream side, small and pretty clumps of willowsor the silver birch; here and there, the ruins of ancient andinconsiderable fortresses—made the unchanging characters ofthe scene. Occasionally, but only in the distance, we couldperceive the smoke of a small town or of an isolated farmhouse orcottage on the moors; more often, a flock of sheep and itsattendant shepherd, or a rude field of agriculture perhaps notyet harvested. With these alleviations, we might almost besaid to pass through an unbroken desert—sure, one of themost impoverished in Europe; and when I recalled to mind that wewere yet but a few leagues from the chief city (where the lawcourts sat every day with a press of business, soldiersgarrisoned the castle, and men of admitted parts were carrying onthe practice of letters and the investigations of science), itgave me a singular view of that poor, barren, and yet illustriouscountry through which I travelled. Still more, perhaps, didit commend the wisdom of Miss Gilchrist in sending me with theseuncouth companions and by this unfrequented path.

My itinerary is by no means clear to me; the names anddistances I never clearly knew, and have now wholly forgotten;and this is the more to be regretted as there is no doubt that,in the course of those days, I must have passed and camped amongsites which have been rendered illustrious by the pen of WalterScott. Nay, more, I am of opinion that I was still morefavoured by fortune, and have actually met and spoken with thatinimitable author. Our encounter was of a tall, stoutish,elderly gentleman, a little grizzled, and of a rugged butcheerful and engaging countenance. He sat on a hill pony,wrapped in a plaid over his green coat, and was accompanied by ahorse-woman, his daughter, a young lady of the most charmingappearance. They overtook us on a stretch of heath, reinedup as they came alongside, and accompanied us for perhaps aquarter of an hour before they galloped off again across thehillsides to our left. Great was my amazement to find theunconquerable Mr. Sim thaw immediately on the accost of thisstrange gentleman, who hailed him with a ready familiarity,proceeded at once to discuss with him the trade of droving andthe prices of cattle, and did not disdain to take a pinch fromthe inevitable ram’s horn. Presently I was aware thatthe stranger’s eye was directed on myself; and there ensueda conversation, some of which I could not help overhearing at thetime, and the rest have pieced together more or less plausiblyfrom the report of Sim.

‘Surely that must be an amateur drover ye havegotten there?’ the gentleman seems to have asked.

Sim replied, I was a young gentleman that had a reason of hisown to travel privately.

‘Well, well, ye must tell me nothing of that. I amin the law, you know, and tace is the Latin for acandle,’ answered the gentleman. ‘But I hopeit’s nothing bad.’

Sim told him it was no more than debt.

‘Oh, Lord, if that be all!’ cried the gentleman;and turning to myself, ‘Well, sir,’ he added,‘I understand you are taking a tramp through our foresthere for the pleasure of the thing?’

‘Why, yes, sir,’ said I; ‘and I must say Iam very well entertained.’

‘I envy you,’ said he. ‘I have joggedmany miles of it myself when I was younger. My youth liesburied about here under every heather-bush, like the soul of thelicentiate Lucius. But you should have a guide. Thepleasure of this country is much in the legends, which grow asplentiful as blackberries.’ And directing myattention to a little fragment of a broken wall no greater than atombstone, he told me for an example a story of its earlierinhabitants. Years after it chanced that I was one daydiverting myself with a Waverley Novel, when what should I comeupon but the identical narrative of my green-coated gentlemanupon the moors! In a moment the scene, the tones of hisvoice, his northern accent, and the very aspect of the earth andsky and temperature of the weather, flashed back into my mindwith the reality of dreams. The unknown in the green-coathad been the Great Unknown! I had met Scott; I had heard astory from his lips; I should have been able to write, to claimacquaintance, to tell him that his legend still tingled in myears. But the discovery came too late, and the great manhad already succumbed under the load of his honours andmisfortunes.

Presently, after giving us a cigar apiece, Scott bade usfarewell and disappeared with his daughter over the hills.And when I applied to Sim for information, his answer of‘The Shirra, man! A’body kens theShirra!’ told me, unfortunately, nothing.

A more considerable adventure falls to be related. Wewere now near the border. We had travelled for long uponthe track beaten and browsed by a million herds, ourpredecessors, and had seen no vestige of that traffic which hadcreated it. It was early in the morning when we at lastperceived, drawing near to the drove road, but still at adistance of about half a league, a second caravan, similar to butlarger than our own. The liveliest excitement was at onceexhibited by both my comrades. They climbed hillocks, theystudied the approaching drove from under their hand, theyconsulted each other with an appearance of alarm that seemed tome extraordinary. I had learned by this time that theirstand-off manners implied, at least, no active enmity; and I madebold to ask them what was wrong.

‘Bad yins,’ was Sim’s emphatic answer.

All day the dogs were kept unsparingly on the alert, and thedrove pushed forward at a very unusual and seemingly unwelcomespeed. All day Sim and Candlish, with a more than ordinaryexpenditure both of snuff and of words, continued to debate theposition. It seems that they had recognised two of ourneighbours on the road—one Faa, and another by the name ofGillies. Whether there was an old feud between them stillunsettled I could never learn; but Sim and Candlish were preparedfor every degree of fraud or violence at their hands.Candlish repeatedly congratulated himself on having left‘the watch at home with the mistress’; and Simperpetually brandished his cudgel, and cursed his ill-fortunethat it should be sprung.

‘I willna care a damn to gie the daashed scoon’rela fair clout wi’ it,’ he said. ‘Thedaashed thing micht come sindry in ma hand.’

‘Well, gentlemen,’ said I, ‘suppose they docome on, I think we can give a very good account ofthem.’ And I made my piece of holly, Ronald’sgift, the value of which I now appreciated, sing about myhead.

‘Ay, man? Are ye stench?’ inquired Sim, witha gleam of approval in his wooden countenance.

The same evening, somewhat wearied with our day-longexpedition, we encamped on a little verdant mound, from the midstof which there welled a spring of clear water scarce great enoughto wash the hands in. We had made our meal and lain down,but were not yet asleep, when a growl from one of the collies setus on the alert. All three sat up, and on a second impulseall lay down again, but now with our cudgels ready. A manmust be an alien and an outlaw, an old soldier and a young man inthe bargain, to take adventure easily. With no idea as tothe rights of the quarrel or the probable consequences of theencounter, I was as ready to take part with my two drovers, asever to fall in line on the morning of a battle. Presentlythere leaped three men out of the heather; we had scarce time toget to our feet before we were assailed; and in a moment each oneof us was engaged with an adversary whom the deepening twilightscarce permitted him to see. How the battle sped in otherquarters I am in no position to describe. The rogue thatfell to my share was exceedingly agile and expert with hisweapon; had and held me at a disadvantage from the first assault;forced me to give ground continually, and at last, in mereself-defence, to let him have the point. It struck him inthe throat, and he went down like a ninepin and moved nomore.

It seemed this was the signal for the engagement to bediscontinued. The other combatants separated at once; ourfoes were suffered, without molestation, to lift up and bear awaytheir fallen comrade; so that I perceived this sort of war to benot wholly without laws of chivalry, and perhaps rather topartake of the character of a tournament than of a battleà outrance. There was no doubt, at least,that I was supposed to have pushed the affair tooseriously. Our friends the enemy removed their woundedcompanion with undisguised consternation; and they were no soonerover the top of the brae, than Sim and Candlish roused up theirwearied drove and set forth on a night march.

‘I’m thinking Faa’s unco bad,’ saidthe one.

‘Ay,’ said the other, ‘he lookit doomsgash.’

‘He did that,’ said the first.

And their weary silence fell upon them again.

Presently Sim turned to me. ‘Ye’re uncoready with the stick,’ said he.

‘Too ready, I’m afraid,’ said I.‘I am afraid Mr. Faa (if that be his name) has got hisgruel.’

‘Weel, I wouldnae wonder,’ replied Sim.

‘And what is likely to happen?’ I inquired.

‘Aweel,’ said Sim, snuffing profoundly, ‘ifI were to offer an opeenion, it would not be conscientious.For the plain fac’ is, Mr. St. Ivy, that I div notken. We have had crackit heids—and rowth ofthem—ere now; and we have had a broken leg or maybe twa;and the like of that we drover bodies make a kind of a practicelike to keep among oursel’s. But a corp we have noneof us ever had to deal with, and I could set nae leemit to whatGillies micht consider proper in the affair. Forbye that,he would be in raither a hobble himsel’, if he was to ganghame wantin’ Faa. Folk are awfu’ throng withtheir questions, and parteecularly when they’re nowantit.’

‘That’s a fac’,’ said Candlish.

I considered this prospect ruefully; and then making the bestof it, ‘Upon all which accounts,’ said I, ‘thebest will be to get across the border and there separate.If you are troubled, you can very truly put the blame upon yourlate companion; and if I am pursued, I must just try to keep outof the way.’

‘Mr. St. Ivy,’ said Sim, with something resemblingenthusiasm, ‘no’ a word mair! I have met inwi’ mony kinds o’ gentry ere now; I hae seen o’them that was the tae thing, and I hae seen o’ them thatwas the tither; but the wale of a gentleman like you I have nosae very frequently seen the bate of.’

Our night march was accordingly pursued with unremittingdiligence. The stars paled, the east whitened, and we werestill, both dogs and men, toiling after the wearied cattle.Again and again Sim and Candlish lamented the necessity: it was‘fair ruin on the bestial,’ they declared; but thethought of a judge and a scaffold hunted them ever forward.I myself was not so much to be pitied. All that night, andduring the whole of the little that remained before us of ourconjunct journey, I enjoyed a new pleasure, the reward of myprowess, in the now loosened tongue of Mr. Sim. Candlishwas still obdurately taciturn: it was the man’s nature; butSim, having finally appraised and approved me, displayed withoutreticence a rather garrulous habit of mind and a pretty talentfor narration. The pair were old and close companions,co-existing in these endless moors in a brotherhood of silencesuch as I have heard attributed to the trappers of thewest. It seems absurd to mention love in connection with sougly and snuffy a couple; at least, their trust was absolute; andthey entertained a surprising admiration for each other’squalities; Candlish exclaiming that Sim was ‘grandcompany!’ and Sim frequently assuring me in an aside thatfor ‘a rale, auld, stench bitch, there was nae the bate ofCandlish in braid Scotland.’ The two dogs appeared tobe entirely included in this family compact, and I remarked thattheir exploits and traits of character were constantly andminutely observed by the two masters. Dog storiesparticularly abounded with them; and not only the dogs of thepresent but those of the past contributed their quota.‘But that was naething,’ Sim would begin:‘there was a herd in Manar, they ca’d himTweedie—ye’ll mind Tweedie,Can’lish?’ ‘Fine, that!’ saidCandlish. ‘Aweel, Tweedie had adog—’ The story I have forgotten; I dare say itwas dull, and I suspect it was not true; but indeed, my travelswith the drove rendered me indulgent, and perhaps even credulous,in the matter of dog stories. Beautiful, indefatigablebeings! as I saw them at the end of a long day’s journeyfrisking, barking, bounding, striking attitudes, slanting a bushytail, manifestly playing to the spectator’s eye, manifestlyrejoicing in their grace and beauty—and turned to observeSim and Candlish unornamentally plodding in the rear with theplaids about their bowed shoulders and the drop at their snuffynose—I thought I would rather claim kinship with the dogsthan with the men! My sympathy was unreturned; in theireyes I was a creature light as air; and they would scarce spareme the time for a perfunctory caress or perhaps a hasty lap ofthe wet tongue, ere they were back again in sedulous attendanceon those dingy deities, their masters—and their masters, aslike as not, damning their stupidity.

Altogether the last hours of our tramp were infinitely themost agreeable to me, and I believe to all of us; and by the timewe came to separate, there had grown up a certain familiarity andmutual esteem that made the parting harder. It took placeabout four of the afternoon on a bare hillside from which I couldsee the ribbon of the great north road, henceforth to be myconductor. I asked what was to pay.

‘Naething,’ replied Sim.

‘What in the name of folly is this?’ Iexclaimed. ‘You have led me, you have fed me, youhave filled me full of whisky, and now you will takenothing!’

‘Ye see we indentit for that,’ replied Sim.

‘Indented?’ I repeated; ‘what does theman mean?’

‘Mr. St. Ivy,’ said Sim, ‘this is a maitterentirely between Candlish and me and the auld wife,Gilchrist. You had naething to say to it; weel, ye can havenaething to do with it, then.’

‘My good man,’ said I, ‘I can allow myselfto be placed in no such ridiculous position. Mrs. Gilchristis nothing to me, and I refuse to be her debtor.’

‘I dinna exac’ly see what way ye’re gaun tohelp it,’ observed my drover.

‘By paying you here and now,’ said I.

‘There’s aye twa to a bargain, Mr. St.Ives,’ said he.

‘You mean that you will not take it?’ said I.

‘There or thereabout,’ said he.‘Forbye, that it would set ye a heap better to keep yoursiller for them you awe it to. Ye’re young, Mr. St.Ivy, and thoughtless; but it’s my belief that, wi’care and circ*mspection, ye may yet do credit toyoursel’. But just you bear this in mind: that himthat awes siller should never giesiller.’

Well, what was there to say? I accepted his rebuke, andbidding the pair farewell, set off alone upon my southwardway.

‘Mr. St. Ivy,’ was the last word of Sim, ‘Iwas never muckle ta’en up in Englishry; but I think that Ireally ought to say that ye seem to me to have the makings ofquite a decent lad.’


It chanced that as I went down the hill these last words of myfriend the drover echoed not unfruitfully in my head. I hadnever told these men the least particulars as to my race orfortune, as it was a part, and the best part, of their civilityto ask no questions: yet they had dubbed me without hesitationEnglish. Some strangeness in the accent they had doubtlessthus explained. And it occurred to me, that if I could passin Scotland for an Englishman, I might be able to reverse theprocess and pass in England for a Scot. I thought, if I waspushed to it, I could make a struggle to imitate the brogue;after my experience with Candlish and Sim, I had a rich provisionof outlandish words at my command; and I felt I could tell thetale of Tweedie’s dog so as to deceive a native. Atthe same time, I was afraid my name of St. Ives was scarcelysuitable; till I remembered there was a town so called in theprovince of Cornwall, thought I might yet be glad to claim it formy place of origin, and decided for a Cornish family and a Scotseducation. For a trade, as I was equally ignorant of all,and as the most innocent might at any moment be the means of myexposure, it was best to pretend to none. And I dubbedmyself a young gentleman of a sufficient fortune and an idle,curious habit of mind, rambling the country at my own charges, inquest of health, information, and merry adventures.

At Newcastle, which was the first town I reached, I completedmy preparations for the part, before going to the inn, by thepurchase of a knapsack and a pair of leathern gaiters. Myplaid I continued to wear from sentiment. It was warm,useful to sleep in if I were again benighted, and I haddiscovered it to be not unbecoming for a man of gallantcarriage. Thus equipped, I supported my character of thelight-hearted pedestrian not amiss. Surprise was indeedexpressed that I should have selected such a season of the year;but I pleaded some delays of business, and smilingly claimed tobe an eccentric. The devil was in it, I would say, if anyseason of the year was not good enough for me; I was not made ofsugar, I was no mollycoddle to be afraid of an ill-aired bed or asprinkle of snow; and I would knock upon the table with my fistand call for t’other bottle, like the noisy andfree-hearted young gentleman I was. It was my policy (if Imay so express myself) to talk much and say little. At theinn tables, the country, the state of the roads, the businessinterest of those who sat down with me, and the course of publicevents, afforded me a considerable field in which I mightdiscourse at large and still communicate no information aboutmyself. There was no one with less air of reticence; Iplunged into my company up to the neck; and I had a longco*ck-and-bull story of an aunt of mine which must have convincedthe most suspicious of my innocence. ‘What!’they would have said, ‘that young ass to be concealinganything! Why, he has deafened me with an aunt of his untilmy head aches. He only wants you should give him a line,and he would tell you his whole descent from Adam downward, andhis whole private fortune to the last shilling.’ Aresponsible solid fellow was even so much moved by pity for myinexperience as to give me a word or two of good advice: that Iwas but a young man after all—I had at this time adeceptive air of youth that made me easily pass forone-and-twenty, and was, in the circ*mstances, worth afortune—that the company at inns was very mingled, that Ishould do well to be more careful, and the like; to all which Imade answer that I meant no harm myself and expected none fromothers, or the devil was in it. ‘You are one of thosed---d prudent fellows that I could never abide with,’ saidI. ‘You are the kind of man that has a longhead. That’s all the world, my dear sir: thelong-heads and the short-horns! Now, I am ashort-horn.’ ‘I doubt,’ says he,‘that you will not go very far without gettingsheared.’ I offered to bet with him on that, and hemade off, shaking his head.

But my particular delight was to enlarge on politics and thewar. None damned the French like me; none was more bitteragainst the Americans. And when the north-bound mailarrived, crowned with holly, and the coachman and guard hoarsewith shouting victory, I went even so far as to entertain thecompany to a bowl of punch, which I compounded myself with noilliberal hand, and doled out to such sentiments as thefollowing:—

‘Our glorious victory on the Nivelle’!‘Lord Wellington, God bless him! and may victory everattend upon his arms!’ and, ‘Soult, poor devil! andmay he catch it again to the same tune!’

Never was oratory more applauded to the echo—never anyone was more of the popular man than I. I promise you, wemade a night of it. Some of the company supported eachother, with the assistance of boots, to their respectivebedchambers, while the rest slept on the field of glory where wehad left them; and at the breakfast table the next morning therewas an extraordinary assemblage of red eyes and shakingfists. I observed patriotism to burn much lower bydaylight. Let no one blame me for insensibility to thereverses of France! God knows how my heart raged. HowI longed to fall on that herd of swine and knock their headstogether in the moment of their revelry! But you are toconsider my own situation and its necessities; also a certainlightheartedness, eminently Gallic, which forms a leading traitin my character, and leads me to throw myself into newcirc*mstances with the spirit of a schoolboy. It ispossible that I sometimes allowed this impish humour to carry mefurther than good taste approves: and I was certainly punishedfor it once.

This was in the episcopal city of Durham. We sat down, aconsiderable company, to dinner, most of us fine old vattedEnglish tories of that class which is often so enthusiastic as tobe inarticulate. I took and held the lead from thebeginning; and, the talk having turned on the French in thePeninsula, I gave them authentic details (on the authority of acousin of mine, an ensign) of certain cannibal orgies in Galicia,in which no less a person than General Caffarelli had taken apart. I always disliked that commander, who once ordered meunder arrest for insubordination; and it is possible that a spiceof vengeance added to the rigour of my picture. I haveforgotten the details; no doubt they were high-coloured. Nodoubt I rejoiced to fool these jolter-heads; and no doubt thesense of security that I drank from their dull, gasping facesencouraged me to proceed extremely far. And for my sins,there was one silent little man at table who took my story at thetrue value. It was from no sense of humour, to which he wasquite dead. It was from no particular intelligence, for hehad not any. The bond of sympathy, of all things in theworld, had rendered him clairvoyant.

Dinner was no sooner done than I strolled forth into thestreets with some design of viewing the cathedral; and the littleman was silently at my heels. A few doors from the inn, ina dark place of the street, I was aware of a touch on my arm,turned suddenly, and found him looking up at me with eyespathetically bright.

‘I beg your pardon, sir; but that story of yours wasparticularly rich. He—he! Particularlyracy,’ said he. ‘I tell you, sir, I took youwholly! I smoked you! I believe you and I,sir, if we had a chance to talk, would find we had a good manyopinions in common. Here is the “Blue Bell,” avery comfortable place. They draw good ale, sir.Would you be so condescending as to share a pot withme?’

There was something so ambiguous and secret in the littleman’s perpetual signalling, that I confess my curiosity wasmuch aroused. Blaming myself, even as I did so, for theindiscretion, I embraced his proposal, and we were soon face toface over a tankard of mulled ale. He lowered his voice tothe least attenuation of a whisper.

‘Here, sir,’ said he, ‘is to the GreatMan. I think you take me? No?’ He leanedforward till our noses touched. ‘Here is to theEmperor!’ said he.

I was extremely embarrassed, and, in spite of thecreature’s innocent appearance, more than halfalarmed. I thought him too ingenious, and, indeed, toodaring for a spy. Yet if he were honest he must be a man ofextraordinary indiscretion, and therefore very unfit to beencouraged by an escaped prisoner. I took a half course,accordingly—accepted his toast in silence, and drank itwithout enthusiasm.

He proceeded to abound in the praises of Napoleon, such as Ihad never heard in France, or at least only on the lips ofofficials paid to offer them.

‘And this Caffarelli, now,’ he pursued: ‘heis a splendid fellow, too, is he not? I have not heardvastly much of him myself. No details, sir—nodetails! We labour under huge difficulties here as tounbiassed information.’

‘I believe I have heard the same complaint in othercountries,’ I could not help remarking. ‘But asto Caffarelli, he is neither lame nor blind, he has two legs anda nose in the middle of his face. And I care as much abouthim as you care for the dead body of Mr. Perceval!’

He studied me with glowing eyes.

‘You cannot deceive me!’ he cried.‘You have served under him. You are aFrenchman! I hold by the hand, at last, one of that noblerace, the pioneers of the glorious principles of liberty andbrotherhood. Hush! No, it is all right. Ithought there had been somebody at the door. In thiswretched, enslaved country we dare not even call our souls ourown. The spy and the hangman, sir—the spy and thehangman! And yet there is a candle burning, too. Thegood leaven is working, sir—working underneath. Evenin this town there are a few brave spirits, who meet everyWednesday. You must stay over a day or so, and joinus. We do not use this house. Another, and aquieter. They draw fine ale, however—fair, mildale. You will find yourself among friends, amongbrothers. You will hear some very daring sentimentsexpressed!’ he cried, expanding his small chest.‘Monarchy, Christianity—all the trappings of abloated past—the Free Confraternity of Durham and Tynesidederide.’

Here was a devil of a prospect for a gentleman whose wholedesign was to avoid observation! The Free Confraternity hadno charms for me; daring sentiments were no part of my baggage;and I tried, instead, a little cold water.

‘You seem to forget, sir, that my Emperor hasre-established Christianity,’ I observed.

‘Ah, sir, but that was policy!’ heexclaimed. ‘You do not understand Napoleon. Ihave followed his whole career. I can explain his policyfrom first to last. Now for instance in the Peninsula, onwhich you were so very amusing, if you will come to afriend’s house who has a map of Spain, I can make the wholecourse of the war quite clear to you, I venture to say, in halfan hour.’

This was intolerable. Of the two extremes, I found Ipreferred the British tory; and, making an appointment for themorrow, I pleaded sudden headache, escaped to the inn, packed myknapsack, and fled, about nine at night, from this accursedneighbourhood. It was cold, starry, and clear, and the roaddry, with a touch of frost. For all that, I had not thesmallest intention to make a long stage of it; and about teno’clock, spying on the right-hand side of the way thelighted windows of an alehouse, I determined to bait there forthe night.

It was against my principle, which was to frequent only thedearest inns; and the misadventure that befell me was sufficientto make me more particular in the future. A large companywas assembled in the parlour, which was heavy with clouds oftobacco smoke, and brightly lighted up by a roaring fire ofcoal. Hard by the chimney stood a vacant chair in what Ithought an enviable situation, whether for warmth or the pleasureof society; and I was about to take it, when the nearest of thecompany stopped me with his hand.

‘Beg thy pardon, sir,’ said he; ‘but thatthere chair belongs to a British soldier.’

A chorus of voices enforced and explained. It was one ofLord Wellington’s heroes. He had been wounded underRowland Hill. He was Colbourne’s right-handman. In short, this favoured individual appeared to haveserved with every separate corps, and under every individualgeneral in the Peninsula. Of course I apologised. Ihad not known. The devil was in it if a soldier had not aright to the best in England. And with that sentiment,which was loudly applauded, I found a corner of a bench, andawaited, with some hopes of entertainment, the return of thehero. He proved, of course, to be a private soldier.I say of course, because no officer could possibly enjoy suchheights of popularity. He had been wounded before SanSebastian, and still wore his arm in a sling. What was agreat deal worse for him, every member of the company had beenplying him with drink. His honest yokel’s countenanceblazed as if with fever, his eyes were glazed and looked the twoways, and his feet stumbled as, amidst a murmur of applause, hereturned to the midst of his admirers.

Two minutes afterwards I was again posting in the dark alongthe highway; to explain which sudden movement of retreat I musttrouble the reader with a reminiscence of my services.

I lay one night with the out-pickets in Castile. We werein close touch with the enemy; the usual orders had been issuedagainst smoking, fires, and talk, and both armies lay as quiet asmice, when I saw the English sentinel opposite making a signal byholding up his musket. I repeated it, and we both crepttogether in the dry bed of a stream, which made the demarcationof the armies. It was wine he wanted, of which we had agood provision, and the English had quite run out. He gaveme the money, and I, as was the custom, left him my firelock inpledge, and set off for the canteen. When I returned with askin of wine, behold, it had pleased some uneasy devil of anEnglish officer to withdraw the outposts! Here was asituation with a vengeance, and I looked for nothing but ridiculein the present and punishment in the future. Doubtless ourofficers winked pretty hard at this interchange of courtesies,but doubtless it would be impossible to wink at so gross a fault,or rather so pitiable a misadventure as mine; and you are toconceive me wandering in the plains of Castile, benighted,charged with a wine-skin for which I had no use, and with noknowledge whatever of the whereabouts of my musket, beyond thatit was somewhere in my Lord Wellington’s army. But myEnglishman was either a very honest fellow, or else extremelythirsty, and at last contrived to advertise me of his newposition. Now, the English sentry in Castile, and thewounded hero in the Durham public-house, were one and the sameperson; and if he had been a little less drunk, or myself lesslively in getting away, the travels of M. St. Ives might havecome to an untimely end.

I suppose this woke me up; it stirred in me besides a spiritof opposition, and in spite of cold, darkness, the highwaymen andthe footpads, I determined to walk right on till breakfast-time:a happy resolution, which enabled me to observe one of thosetraits of manners which at once depict a country and condemnit. It was near midnight when I saw, a great way ahead ofme, the light of many torches; presently after, the sound ofwheels reached me, and the slow tread of feet, and soon I hadjoined myself to the rear of a sordid, silent, and lugubriousprocession, such as we see in dreams. Close on a hundredpersons marched by torchlight in unbroken silence; in their midsta cart, and in the cart, on an inclined platform, the dead bodyof a man—the centre-piece of this solemnity, the hero whoseobsequies we were come forth at this unusual hour tocelebrate. It was but a plain, dingy old fellow of fifty orsixty, his throat cut, his shirt turned over as though to showthe wound. Blue trousers and brown socks completed hisattire, if we can talk so of the dead. He had a horrid lookof a waxwork. In the tossing of the lights he seemed tomake faces and mouths at us, to frown, and to be at times uponthe point of speech. The cart, with this shabby and tragicfreight, and surrounded by its silent escort and bright torches,continued for some distance to creak along the high-road, and Ito follow it in amazement, which was soon exchanged forhorror. At the corner of a lane the procession stopped,and, as the torches ranged themselves along the hedgerow-side, Ibecame aware of a grave dug in the midst of the thoroughfare, anda provision of quicklime piled in the ditch. The cart wasbacked to the margin, the body slung off the platform and dumpedinto the grave with an irreverent roughness. A sharpenedstake had hitherto served it for a pillow. It was nowwithdrawn, held in its place by several volunteers, and a fellowwith a heavy mallet (the sound of which still haunts me at night)drove it home through the bosom of the corpse. The hole wasfilled with quicklime, and the bystanders, as if relieved of someoppression, broke at once into a sound of whispered speech.

My shirt stuck to me, my heart had almost ceased beating, andI found my tongue with difficulty.

‘I beg your pardon,’ I gasped to a neighbour,‘what is this? what has he done? is it allowed?’

‘Why, where do you come from?’ replied theman.

‘I am a traveller, sir,’ said I, ‘and atotal stranger in this part of the country. I had lost myway when I saw your torches, and came by chance onthis—this incredible scene. Who was theman?’

‘A suicide,’ said he. ‘Ay, he was abad one, was Johnnie Green.’

It appeared this was a wretch who had committed many barbarousmurders, and being at last upon the point of discovery fell ofhis own hand. And the nightmare at the crossroads was theregular punishment, according to the laws of England, for an actwhich the Romans honoured as a virtue! Whenever anEnglishman begins to prate of civilisation (as, indeed,it’s a defect they are rather prone to), I hear themeasured blows of a mallet, see the bystanders crowd with torchesabout the grave, smile a little to myself in conscioussuperiority—and take a thimbleful of brandy for thestomach’s sake.

I believe it must have been at my next stage, for I remembergoing to bed extremely early, that I came to the model of a goodold-fashioned English inn, and was attended on by the picture ofa pretty chambermaid. We had a good many pleasant passagesas she waited table or warmed my bed for me with a devil of abrass warming pan, fully larger than herself; and as she was noless pert than she was pretty, she may be said to have givenrather better than she took. I cannot tell why (unless itwere for the sake of her saucy eyes), but I made her myconfidante, told her I was attached to a young lady in Scotland,and received the encouragement of her sympathy, mingled andconnected with a fair amount of rustic wit. While I sleptthe down-mail stopped for supper; it chanced that one of thepassengers left behind a copy of the Edinburgh Courant,and the next morning my pretty chambermaid set the paper beforeme at breakfast, with the remark that there was some news from mylady-love. I took it eagerly, hoping to find some furtherword of our escape, in which I was disappointed; and I was aboutto lay it down, when my eye fell on a paragraph immediatelyconcerning me. Faa was in hospital, grievously sick, andwarrants were out for the arrest of Sim and Candlish. Thesetwo men had shown themselves very loyal to me. This troubleemerging, the least I could do was to be guided by a similarloyalty to them. Suppose my visit to my uncle crowned withsome success, and my finances re-established, I determined Ishould immediately return to Edinburgh, put their case in thehands of a good lawyer, and await events. So my mind wasvery lightly made up to what proved a mighty seriousmatter. Candlish and Sim were all very well in their way,and I do sincerely trust I should have been at some pains to helpthem, had there been nothing else. But in truth my heartand my eyes were set on quite another matter, and I received thenews of their tribulation almost with joy. That is never abad wind that blows where we want to go, and you may be surethere was nothing unwelcome in a circ*mstance that carried meback to Edinburgh and Flora. From that hour I began toindulge myself with the making of imaginary scenes andinterviews, in which I confounded the aunt, flattered Ronald, andnow in the witty, now in the sentimental manner, declared my loveand received the assurance of its return. By means of thisexercise my resolution daily grew stronger, until at last I hadpiled together such a mass of obstinacy as it would have taken acataclysm of nature to subvert.

‘Yes,’ said I to the chambermaid, ‘here isnews of my lady-love indeed, and very good news too.’

All that day, in the teeth of a keen winter wind, I huggedmyself in my plaid, and it was as though her arms were flungaround me.


At last I began to draw near, by reasonable stages, to theneighbourhood of Wakefield; and the name of Mr. Burchell Fenncame to the top in my memory. This was the gentleman (thereader may remember) who made a trade of forwarding the escape ofFrench prisoners. How he did so: whether he had asign-board, Escapes forwarded, apply within; whathe charged for his services, or whether they were gratuitous andcharitable, were all matters of which I was at once ignorant andextremely curious. Thanks to my proficiency in English, andMr. Romaine’s bank-notes, I was getting on swimminglywithout him; but the trouble was that I could not be easy till Ihad come to the bottom of these mysteries, and it was mydifficulty that I knew nothing of him beyond the name. Iknew not his trade beyond that of Forwarder ofEscapes—whether he lived in town or country, whether hewere rich or poor, nor by what kind of address I was to gain hisconfidence. It would have a very bad appearance to go alongthe highwayside asking after a man of whom I could give so scantyan account; and I should look like a fool, indeed, if I were topresent myself at his door and find the police inoccupation! The interest of the conundrum, however, temptedme, and I turned aside from my direct road to pass by Wakefield;kept my ears pricked, as I went, for any mention of his name, andrelied for the rest on my good fortune. If Luck (who mustcertainly be feminine) favoured me as far as to throw me in theman’s way, I should owe the lady a candle; if not, I couldvery readily console myself. In this experimental humour,and with so little to help me, it was a miracle that I shouldhave brought my enterprise to a good end; and there are severalsaints in the calendar who might be happy to exchange with St.Ives!

I had slept that night in a good inn at Wakefield, made mybreakfast by candle-light with the passengers of an up-coach, andset off in a very ill temper with myself and mysurroundings. It was still early; the air raw and cold; thesun low, and soon to disappear under a vast canopy of rain-cloudsthat had begun to assemble in the north-west, and from thatquarter invaded the whole width of the heaven. Already therain fell in crystal rods; already the whole face of the countrysounded with the discharge of drains and ditches; and I lookedforward to a day of downpour and the hell of wet clothes, inwhich particular I am as dainty as a cat. At a corner ofthe road, and by the last glint of the drowning sun, I spied acovered cart, of a kind that I thought I had never seen before,preceding me at the foot’s pace of jaded horses.Anything is interesting to a pedestrian that can help him toforget the miseries of a day of rain; and I bettered my pace andgradually overtook the vehicle.

The nearer I came, the more it puzzled me. It was muchsuch a cart as I am told the calico printers use, mounted on twowheels, and furnished with a seat in front for the driver.The interior closed with a door, and was of a bigness to containa good load of calico, or (at a pinch and if it were necessary)four or five persons. But, indeed, if human beings weremeant to travel there, they had my pity! They must travelin the dark, for there was no sign of a window; and they would beshaken all the way like a phial of doctor’s stuff, for thecart was not only ungainly to look at—it was besides veryimperfectly balanced on the one pair of wheels, and pitchedunconscionably. Altogether, if I had any glancing idea thatthe cart was really a carriage, I had soon dismissed it; but Iwas still inquisitive as to what it should contain, and where ithad come from. Wheels and horses were splashed with manydifferent colours of mud, as though they had come far and acrossa considerable diversity of country. The driver continuallyand vainly plied his whip. It seemed to follow they hadmade a long, perhaps an all-night, stage; and that the driver, atthat early hour of a little after eight in the morning, alreadyfelt himself belated. I looked for the name of theproprietor on the shaft, and started outright. Fortune hadfavoured the careless: it was Burchell Fenn!

‘A wet morning, my man,’ said I.

The driver, a loutish fellow, shock-headed and turnip-faced,returned not a word to my salutation, but savagely flogged hishorses. The tired animals, who could scarce put the onefoot before the other, paid no attention to his cruelty; and Icontinued without effort to maintain my position alongside,smiling to myself at the futility of his attempts, and at thesame time pricked with curiosity as to why he made them. Imade no such formidable a figure as that a man should flee when Iaccosted him; and my conscience not being entirely clear, I wasmore accustomed to be uneasy myself than to see otherstimid. Presently he desisted, and put back his whip in theholster with the air of a man vanquished.

‘So you would run away from me?’ said I.‘Come, come, that’s not English.’

‘Beg pardon, master: no offence meant,’ he said,touching his hat.

‘And none taken!’ cried I. ‘All Idesire is a little gaiety by the way.’

I understood him to say he didn’t ‘take withgaiety.’

‘Then I will try you with something else,’ saidI. ‘Oh, I can be all things to all men, like theapostle! I dare to say I have travelled with heavierfellows than you in my time, and done famously well withthem. Are you going home?’

‘Yes, I’m a goin’ home, I am,’ hesaid.

‘A very fortunate circ*mstance for me!’ saidI. ‘At this rate we shall see a good deal of eachother, going the same way; and, now I come to think of it, whyshould you not give me a cast? There is room beside you onthe bench.’

With a sudden snatch, he carried the cart two yards into theroadway. The horses plunged and came to a stop.‘No, you don’t!’ he said, menacing me with thewhip. ‘None o’ that with me.’

‘None of what?’ said I. ‘I asked youfor a lift, but I have no idea of taking one by force.’

‘Well, I’ve got to take care of the cart and’orses, I have,’ says he. ‘I don’ttake up with no runagate vagabones, you see, else.’

‘I ought to thank you for your touchingconfidence,’ said I, approaching carelessly nearer as Ispoke. ‘But I admit the road is solitary hereabouts,and no doubt an accident soon happens. Little fear ofanything of the kind with you! I like you for it, like yourprudence, like that pastoral shyness of disposition. Butwhy not put it out of my power to hurt? Why not open thedoor and bestow me here in the box, or whatever you please tocall it?’ And I laid my hand demonstratively on the body ofthe cart.

He had been timorous before; but at this, he seemed to losethe power of speech a moment, and stared at me in a perfectenthusiasm of fear.

‘Why not?’ I continued. ‘The idea isgood. I should be safe in there if I were the monsterWilliams himself. The great thing is to have me under lockand key. For it does lock; it is locked now,’ said I,trying the door. ‘A propos, what have you fora cargo? It must be precious.’

He found not a word to answer.

Rat-tat-tat, I went upon the door like a well-drilledfootman.

‘Any one at home?’ I said, and stooped tolisten.

There came out of the interior a stifled sneeze, the first ofan uncontrollable paroxysm; another followed immediately on theheels of it; and then the driver turned with an oath, laid thelash upon the horses with so much energy that they found theirheels again, and the whole equipage fled down the road at agallop.

At the first sound of the sneeze, I had started back like aman shot. The next moment, a great light broke on my mind,and I understood. Here was the secret of Fenn’strade: this was how he forwarded the escape of prisoners, hawkingthem by night about the country in his covered cart. Therehad been Frenchmen close to me; he who had just sneezed was mycountryman, my comrade, perhaps already my friend! I tookto my heels in pursuit. ‘Hold hard!’ Ishouted. ‘Stop! It’s all right!Stop!’ But the driver only turned a white face on mefor a moment, and redoubled his efforts, bending forward, plyinghis whip and crying to his horses; these lay themselves down tothe gallop and beat the highway with flying hoofs; and the cartbounded after them among the ruts and fled in a halo of rain andspattering mud. But a minute since, and it had beentrundling along like a lame cow; and now it was off as thoughdrawn by Apollo’s coursers. There is no telling whata man can do, until you frighten him!

It was as much as I could do myself, though I ran valiantly,to maintain my distance; and that (since I knew my countrymen sonear) was become a chief point with me. A hundred yardsfarther on the cart whipped out of the high-road into a laneembowered with leafless trees, and became lost to view.When I saw it next, the driver had increased his advantageconsiderably, but all danger was at an end, and the horses hadagain declined into a hobbling walk. Persuaded that theycould not escape me, I took my time, and recovered my breath as Ifollowed them.

Presently the lane twisted at right angles, and showed me agate and the beginning of a gravel sweep; and a little after, asI continued to advance, a red brick house about seventy yearsold, in a fine style of architecture, and presenting a front ofmany windows to a lawn and garden. Behind, I could seeouthouses and the peaked roofs of stacks; and I judged that amanor-house had in some way declined to be the residence of atenant-farmer, careless alike of appearances and substantialcomfort. The marks of neglect were visible on every side,in flower-bushes straggling beyond the borders, in the ill-keptturf, and in the broken windows that were incongruously patchedwith paper or stuffed with rags. A thicket of trees, mostlyevergreen, fenced the place round and secluded it from the eyesof prying neighbours. As I came in view of it, on thatmelancholy winter’s morning, in the deluge of the fallingrain, and with the wind that now rose in occasional gusts andhooted over the old chimneys, the cart had already drawn up atthe front-door steps, and the driver was already in earnestdiscourse with Mr. Burchell Fenn. He was standing with hishands behind his back—a man of a gross, misbegotten faceand body, dewlapped like a bull and red as a harvest moon; and inhis jockey cap, blue coat and top boots, he had much the air of agood, solid tenant-farmer.

The pair continued to speak as I came up the approach, butreceived me at last in a sort of goggling silence. I had myhat in my hand.

‘I have the pleasure of addressing Mr. BurchellFenn?’ said I.

‘The same, sir,’ replied Mr. Fenn, taking off hisjockey cap in answer to my civility, but with the distant lookand the tardy movements of one who continues to think ofsomething else. ‘And who may you be?’ heasked.

‘I shall tell you afterwards,’ said I.‘Suffice it, in the meantime, that I come onbusiness.’

He seemed to digest my answer laboriously, his mouth gaping,his little eyes never straying from my face.

‘Suffer me to point out to you, sir,’ I resumed,‘that this is a devil of a wet morning; and that thechimney corner, and possibly a glass of something hot, areclearly indicated.’

Indeed, the rain was now grown to be a deluge; the gutters ofthe house roared; the air was filled with the continuous,strident crash. The stolidity of his face, on which therain streamed, was far from reassuring me. On the contrary,I was aware of a distinct qualm of apprehension, which was not atall lessened by a view of the driver, craning from his perch toobserve us with the expression of a fascinated bird. So westood silent, when the prisoner again began to sneeze from thebody of the cart; and at the sound, prompt as a transformation,the driver had whipped up his horses and was shambling off roundthe corner of the house, and Mr. Fenn, recovering his wits with agulp, had turned to the door behind him.

‘Come in, come in, sir,’ he said. ‘Ibeg your pardon, sir; the lock goes a trifle hard.’

Indeed, it took him a surprising time to open the door, whichwas not only locked on the outside, but the lock seemedrebellious from disuse; and when at last he stood back andmotioned me to enter before him, I was greeted on the thresholdby that peculiar and convincing sound of the rain echoing overempty chambers. The entrance-hall, in which I now foundmyself, was of a good size and good proportions; potted plantsoccupied the corners; the paved floor was soiled with muddyfootprints and encumbered with straw; on a mahogany hall-table,which was the only furniture, a candle had been stuck andsuffered to burn down—plainly a long while ago, for thegutterings were green with mould. My mind, under these newimpressions, worked with unusual vivacity. I was here shutoff with Fenn and his hireling in a deserted house, a neglectedgarden, and a wood of evergreens: the most eligible theatre for adeed of darkness. There came to me a vision of twoflagstones raised in the hall-floor, and the driver putting inthe rainy afternoon over my grave, and the prospect displeased meextremely. I felt I had carried my pleasantry as far as wassafe; I must lose no time in declaring my true character, and Iwas even choosing the words in which I was to begin, when thehall-door was slammed-to behind me with a bang, and I turned,dropping my stick as I did so, in time—and not any morethan time—to save my life.

The surprise of the onslaught and the huge weight of myassailant gave him the advantage. He had a pistol in hisright hand of a portentous size, which it took me all my strengthto keep deflected. With his left arm he strained me to hisbosom, so that I thought I must be crushed or stifled. Hismouth was open, his face crimson, and he panted aloud with hardanimal sounds. The affair was as brief as it was hot andsudden. The potations which had swelled and bloated hiscarcase had already weakened the springs of energy. Onemore huge effort, that came near to overpower me, and in whichthe pistol happily exploded, and I felt his grasp slacken andweakness come on his joints; his legs succumbed under his weight,and he grovelled on his knees on the stone floor.‘Spare me!’ he gasped.

I had not only been abominably frightened; I was shockedbesides: my delicacy was in arms, like a lady to whom violenceshould have been offered by a similar monster. I pluckedmyself from his horrid contact, I snatched the pistol—evendischarged, it was a formidable weapon—and menaced him withthe butt. ‘Spare you!’ I cried, ‘youbeast!’

His voice died in his fat inwards, but his lips stillvehemently framed the same words of supplication. My angerbegan to pass off, but not all my repugnance; the picture he maderevolted me, and I was impatient to be spared the further view ofit.

‘Here,’ said I, ‘stop this performance: itsickens me. I am not going to kill you, do you hear?I have need of you.’

A look of relief, that I could almost have called beautiful,dawned on his countenance. ‘Anything—anythingyou wish,’ said he.

Anything is a big word, and his use of it brought me for amoment to a stand. ‘Why, what do you mean?’ Iasked. ‘Do you mean that you will blow the gaff onthe whole business?’

He answered me Yes with eager asseverations.

‘I know Monsieur de Saint-Yves is in it; it was throughhis papers we traced you,’ I said. ‘Do youconsent to make a clean breast of the others?’

‘I do—I will!’ he cried. ‘The’ole crew of ’em; there’s good names among’em. I’ll be king’s evidence.’

‘So that all shall hang except yourself? Youdamned villain!’ I broke out. ‘Understand atonce that I am no spy or thief-taker. I am a kinsman ofMonsieur de St. Yves—here in his interest. Upon myword, you have put your foot in it prettily, Mr. BurchellFenn! Come, stand up; don’t grovel there. Standup, you lump of iniquity!’

He scrambled to his feet. He was utterly unmanned, or itmight have gone hard with me yet; and I considered himhesitating, as, indeed, there was cause. The man was adouble-dyed traitor: he had tried to murder me, and I had firstbaffled his endeavours and then exposed and insulted him.Was it wise to place myself any longer at his mercy? Withhis help I should doubtless travel more quickly; doubtless alsofar less agreeably; and there was everything to show that itwould be at a greater risk. In short, I should have washedmy hands of him on the spot, but for the temptation of the Frenchofficers, whom I knew to be so near, and for whose society I feltso great and natural an impatience. If I was to seeanything of my countrymen, it was clear I had first of all tomake my peace with Mr. Fenn; and that was no easy matter.To make friends with any one implies concessions on both sides;and what could I concede? What could I say of him, but thathe had proved himself a villain and a fool, and the worseman?

‘Well,’ said I, ‘here has been rather a poorpiece of business, which I dare say you can have no pleasure incalling to mind; and, to say truth, I would as readily forget itmyself. Suppose we try. Take back your pistol, whichsmells very ill; put it in your pocket or wherever you had itconcealed. There! Now let us meet for the firsttime.—Give you good morning, Mr. Fenn! I hope you dovery well. I come on the recommendation of my kinsman, theVicomte de St. Yves.’

‘Do you mean it?’ he cried. ‘Do youmean you will pass over our little scrimmage?’

‘Why, certainly!’ said I. ‘It showsyou are a bold fellow, who may be trusted to forget the businesswhen it comes to the point. There is nothing against you inthe little scrimmage, unless that your courage is greater thanyour strength. You are not so young as you once were, thatis all.’

‘And I beg of you, sir, don’t betray me to theVis-count,’ he pleaded. ‘I’ll not denybut what my ’eart failed me a trifle; but it was only aword, sir, what anybody might have said in the ’eat of themoment, and over with it.’

‘Certainly,’ said I. ‘That is quite myown opinion.’

‘The way I came to be anxious about theVis-count,’ he continued, ‘is that I believe he mightbe induced to form an ’asty judgment. And thebusiness, in a pecuniary point of view, is all that I could ask;only trying, sir—very trying. It’s making anold man of me before my time. You might have observedyourself, sir, that I ’aven’t got the knees I once’ad. The knees and the breathing, there’s whereit takes me. But I’m very sure, sir, I address agentleman as would be the last to make trouble betweenfriends.’

‘I am sure you do me no more than justice,’ saidI; ‘and I shall think it quite unnecessary to dwell on anyof these passing circ*mstances in my report to theVicomte.’

‘Which you do favour him (if you’ll excuse mebeing so bold as to mention it) exac’ly!’ saidhe. ‘I should have known you anywheres. May Ioffer you a pot of ’ome-brewed ale, sir? By yourleave! This way, if you please. I am ’eartilygrateful—’eartily pleased to be of any service to agentleman like you, sir, which is related to the Vis-count, andreally a fambly of which you might well be proud! Take careof the step, sir. You have good news of ’is’ealth, I trust? as well as that of Monseer theCount?’

God forgive me! the horrible fellow was still puffing andpanting with the fury of his assault, and already he had falleninto an obsequious, wheedling familiarity like that of an oldservant,—already he was flattering me on my familyconnections!

I followed him through the house into the stable-yard, where Iobserved the driver washing the cart in a shed. He musthave heard the explosion of the pistol. He could not choosebut hear it: the thing was shaped like a little blunderbuss,charged to the mouth, and made a report like a piece of fieldartillery. He had heard, he had paid no attention; and now,as we came forth by the back-door, he raised for a moment a paleand tell-tale face that was as direct as a confession. Therascal had expected to see Fenn come forth alone; he was waitingto be called on for that part of sexton, which I had alreadyallotted to him in fancy.

I need not detain the reader very long with any description ofmy visit to the back-kitchen; of how we mulled our ale there, andmulled it very well; nor of how we sat talking, Fenn like an old,faithful, affectionate dependant, and I—well! Imyself fallen into a mere admiration of so much impudence, thattranscended words, and had very soon conquered animosity. Itook a fancy to the man, he was so vast a humbug. I beganto see a kind of beauty in him, his aplomb was somajestic. I never knew a rogue to cut so fat; his villainywas ample, like his belly, and I could scarce find it in my heartto hold him responsible for either. He was good enough todrop into the autobiographical; telling me how the farm, in spiteof the war and the high prices, had proved a disappointment; howthere was ‘a sight of cold, wet land as you come along the’igh-road’; how the winds and rains and the seasonshad been misdirected, it seemed ‘o’ purpose’;how Mrs. Fenn had died—‘I lost her coming two yearagone; a remarkable fine woman, my old girl, sir! if you’llexcuse me,’ he added, with a burst of humility. Inshort, he gave me an opportunity of studying John Bull, as I maysay, stuffed naked—his greed, his usuriousness, hishypocrisy, his perfidy of the back-stairs, all swelled to thesuperlative—such as was well worth the little disarray andfluster of our passage in the hall.


As soon as I judged it safe, and that was not before BurchellFenn had talked himself back into his breath and a complete goodhumour, I proposed he should introduce me to the French officers,henceforth to become my fellow-passengers. There were twoof them, it appeared, and my heart beat as I approached thedoor. The specimen of Perfidious Albion whom I had justbeen studying gave me the stronger zest for myfellow-countrymen. I could have embraced them; I could havewept on their necks. And all the time I was going to adisappointment.

It was in a spacious and low room, with an outlook on thecourt, that I found them bestowed. In the good days of thathouse the apartment had probably served as a library, for therewere traces of shelves along the wainscot. Four or fivemattresses lay on the floor in a corner, with a frowsy heap ofbedding; near by was a basin and a cube of soap; a rudekitchen-table and some deal chairs stood together at the far end;and the room was illuminated by no less than four windows, andwarmed by a little, crazy, sidelong grate, propped up with bricksin the vent of a hospitable chimney, in which a pile of coalssmoked prodigiously and gave out a few starveling flames.An old, frail, white-haired officer sat in one of the chairs,which he had drawn close to this apology for a fire. He waswrapped in a camlet cloak, of which the collar was turned up, hisknees touched the bars, his hands were spread in the very smoke,and yet he shivered for cold. The second—a big,florid, fine animal of a man, whose every gesture labelled himthe co*ck of the walk and the admiration of the ladies—hadapparently despaired of the fire, and now strode up and down,sneezing hard, bitterly blowing his nose, and proffering acontinual stream of bluster, complaint, and barrack-roomoaths.

Fenn showed me in with the brief form of introduction:‘Gentlemen all, this here’s another fare!’ andwas gone again at once. The old man gave me but the oneglance out of lack-lustre eyes; and even as he looked a shivertook him as sharp as a hiccough. But the other, whor*presented to admiration the picture of a Beau in a Catarrh,stared at me arrogantly.

‘And who are you, sir?’ he asked.

I made the military salute to my superiors.

‘Champdivers, private, Eighth of the Line,’ saidI.

‘Pretty business!’ said he. ‘And youare going on with us? Three in a cart, and a greattrolloping private at that! And who is to pay for you, myfine fellow?’ he inquired.

‘If monsieur comes to that,’ I answered civilly,‘who paid for him?’

‘Oh, if you choose to play the wit!’ saidhe,—and began to rail at large upon his destiny, theweather, the cold, the danger and the expense of the escape, and,above all, the cooking of the accursed English. It seemedto annoy him particularly that I should have joined theirparty. ‘If you knew what you were doing, thirtythousand millions of pigs! you would keep yourself toyourself! The horses can’t drag the cart; the roadsare all ruts and swamps. No longer ago than last night theColonel and I had to march half the way—thunder ofGod!—half the way to the knees in mud—and I with thisinfernal cold—and the danger of detection! Happily wemet no one: a desert—a real desert—like the wholeabominable country! Nothing to eat—no, sir, there isnothing to eat but raw cow and greens boiled in water—norto drink but Worcestershire sauce! Now I, with my catarrh,I have no appetite; is it not so? Well, if I were inFrance, I should have a good soup with a crust in it, anomelette, a fowl in rice, a partridge in cabbages—things totempt me, thunder of God! But here—day ofGod!—what a country! And cold, too! They talkabout Russia—this is all the cold I want! And thepeople—look at them! What a race! Never anyhandsome men; never any fine officers!’—and he lookeddown complacently for a moment at his waist—‘And thewomen—what fa*ggots! No, that is one point clear, Icannot stomach the English!’

There was something in this man so antipathetic to me, as sentthe mustard into my nose. I can never bear your bucks anddandies, even when they are decent-looking and well dressed; andthe Major—for that was his rank—was the image of aflunkey in good luck. Even to be in agreement with him, orto seem to be so, was more than I could make out to endure.

‘You could scarce be expected to stomach them,’said I civilly, ‘after having just digested yourparole.’

He whipped round on his heel and turned on me a countenancewhich I dare say he imagined to be awful; but another fit ofsneezing cut him off ere he could come the length of speech.

‘I have not tried the dish myself,’ I took theopportunity to add. ‘It is said to beunpalatable. Did monsieur find it so?’

With surprising vivacity the Colonel woke from hislethargy. He was between us ere another word couldpass.

‘Shame, gentlemen!’ he said. ‘Is thisa time for Frenchmen and fellow-soldiers to fall out? Weare in the midst of our enemies; a quarrel, a loud word, maysuffice to plunge us back into irretrievable distress.Monsieur le Commandant, you have been gravelyoffended. I make it my request, I make it myprayer—if need be, I give you my orders—that thematter shall stand by until we come safe to France. Then,if you please, I will serve you in any capacity. And foryou, young man, you have shown all the cruelty and carelessnessof youth. This gentleman is your superior; he is no longeryoung’—at which word you are to conceive theMajor’s face. ‘It is admitted he has broken hisparole. I know not his reason, and no more do you. Itmight be patriotism in this hour of our country’sadversity, it might be humanity, necessity; you know not what inthe least, and you permit yourself to reflect on hishonour. To break parole may be a subject for pity and notderision. I have broken mine—I, a colonel of theEmpire. And why? I have been years negotiating myexchange, and it cannot be managed; those who have influence atthe Ministry of War continually rush in before me, and I have towait, and my daughter at home is in a decline. I am goingto see my daughter at last, and it is my only concern lest Ishould have delayed too long. She is ill, and veryill,—at death’s door. Nothing is left me but mydaughter, my Emperor, and my honour; and I give my honour, blameme for it who dare!’

At this my heart smote me.

‘For God’s sake,’ I cried, ‘think nomore of what I have said! A parole? what is a paroleagainst life and death and love? I ask your pardon; thisgentleman’s also. As long as I shall be with you, youshall not have cause to complain of me again. I pray Godyou will find your daughter alive and restored.’

‘That is past praying for,’ said the Colonel; andimmediately the brief fire died out of him, and, returning to thehearth, he relapsed into his former abstraction.

But I was not so easy to compose. The knowledge of thepoor gentleman’s trouble, and the sight of his face, hadfilled me with the bitterness of remorse; and I insisted uponshaking hands with the Major (which he did with a very illgrace), and abounded in palinodes and apologies.

‘After all,’ said I, ‘who am I totalk? I am in the luck to be a private soldier; I have noparole to give or to keep; once I am over the rampart, I am asfree as air. I beg you to believe that I regret from mysoul the use of these ungenerous expressions. Allow me . .. Is there no way in this damned house to attractattention? Where is this fellow, Fenn?’

I ran to one of the windows and threw it open. Fenn, whowas at the moment passing below in the court, cast up his armslike one in despair, called to me to keep back, plunged into thehouse, and appeared next moment in the doorway of thechamber.

‘Oh, sir!’ says he, ‘keep away from thosethere windows. A body might see you from the backlane.’

‘It is registered,’ said I.‘Henceforward I will be a mouse for precaution and a ghostfor invisibility. But in the meantime, for God’ssake, fetch us a bottle of brandy! Your room is as damp asthe bottom of a well, and these gentlemen are perishing ofcold.’

So soon as I had paid him (for everything, I found, must bepaid in advance), I turned my attention to the fire, and whetherbecause I threw greater energy into the business, or because thecoals were now warmed and the time ripe, I soon started a blazethat made the chimney roar again. The shine of it, in thatdark, rainy day, seemed to reanimate the Colonel like a blink ofsun. With the outburst of the flames, besides, a draughtwas established, which immediately delivered us from the plagueof smoke; and by the time Fenn returned, carrying a bottle underhis arm and a single tumbler in his hand, there was already anair of gaiety in the room that did the heart good.

I poured out some of the brandy.

‘Colonel,’ said I, ‘I am a young man and aprivate soldier. I have not been long in this room, andalready I have shown the petulance that belongs to the onecharacter and the ill manners that you may look for in theother. Have the humanity to pass these slips over, andhonour me so far as to accept this glass.’

‘My lad,’ says he, waking up and blinking at mewith an air of suspicion, ‘are you sure you can affordit?’

I assured him I could.

‘I thank you, then: I am very cold.’ He tookthe glass out, and a little colour came in his face.‘I thank you again,’ said he. ‘It goes tothe heart.’

The Major, when I motioned him to help himself, did so with agood deal of liberality; continued to do so for the rest of themorning, now with some sort of apology, now with none at all; andthe bottle began to look foolish before dinner was served.It was such a meal as he had himself predicted: beef, greens,potatoes, mustard in a teacup, and beer in a brown jug that wasall over hounds, horses, and hunters, with a fox at the fat endand a gigantic John Bull—for all the world likeFenn—sitting in the midst in a bob-wig and smokingtobacco. The beer was a good brew, but not good enough forthe Major; he laced it with brandy—for his cold, he said;and in this curative design the remainder of the bottle ebbedaway. He called my attention repeatedly to thecirc*mstance; helped me pointedly to the dregs, threw the bottlein the air and played tricks with it; and at last, havingexhausted his ingenuity, and seeing me remain quite blind toevery hint, he ordered and paid for another himself.

As for the Colonel, he ate nothing, sat sunk in a muse, andonly awoke occasionally to a sense of where he was, and what hewas supposed to be doing. On each of these occasions heshowed a gratitude and kind courtesy that endeared him to mebeyond expression. ‘Champdivers, my lad, yourhealth!’ he would say. ‘The Major and I had avery arduous march last night, and I positively thought I shouldhave eaten nothing, but your fortunate idea of the brandy hasmade quite a new man of me—quite a new man.’And he would fall to with a great air of heartiness, cut himselfa mouthful, and, before he had swallowed it, would have forgottenhis dinner, his company, the place where he then was, and theescape he was engaged on, and become absorbed in the vision of asick-room and a dying girl in France. The pathos of thiscontinual preoccupation, in a man so old, sick, and over-weary,and whom I looked upon as a mere bundle of dying bones anddeath-pains, put me wholly from my victuals: it seemed there wasan element of sin, a kind of rude bravado of youth, in the mererelishing of food at the same table with this tragic father; andthough I was well enough used to the coarse, plain diet of theEnglish, I ate scarce more than himself. Dinner was hardlyover before he succumbed to a lethargic sleep; lying on one ofthe mattresses with his limbs relaxed, and his breath seeminglysuspended—the very image of dissolution.

This left the Major and myself alone at the table. Youmust not suppose our tête-à-tête waslong, but it was a lively period while it lasted. He dranklike a fish or an Englishman; shouted, beat the table, roared outsongs, quarrelled, made it up again, and at last tried to throwthe dinner-plates through the window, a feat of which he was atthat time quite incapable. For a party of fugitives,condemned to the most rigorous discretion, there was never seenso noisy a carnival; and through it all the Colonel continued tosleep like a child. Seeing the Major so well advanced, andno retreat possible, I made a fair wind of a foul one, keepinghis glass full, pushing him with toasts; and sooner than I couldhave dared to hope, he became drowsy and incoherent. Withthe wrong-headedness of all such sots, he would not be persuadedto lie down upon one of the mattresses until I had stretchedmyself upon another. But the comedy was soon over; soon heslept the sleep of the just, and snored like a military music;and I might get up again and face (as best I could) the excessivetedium of the afternoon.

I had passed the night before in a good bed; I was denied theresource of slumber; and there was nothing open for me but topace the apartment, maintain the fire, and brood on myposition. I compared yesterday and to-day—the safety,comfort, jollity, open-air exercise and pleasant roadside inns ofthe one, with the tedium, anxiety, and discomfort of theother. I remembered that I was in the hands of Fenn, whocould not be more false—though he might be morevindictive—than I fancied him. I looked forward tonights of pitching in the covered cart, and days of monotony in Iknew not what hiding-places; and my heart failed me, and I was intwo minds whether to slink off ere it was too late, and return tomy former solitary way of travel. But the Colonel stood inthe path. I had not seen much of him; but already I judgedhim a man of a childlike nature—with that sort of innocenceand courtesy that, I think, is only to be found in old soldiersor old priests—and broken with years and sorrow. Icould not turn my back on his distress; could not leave him alonewith the selfish trooper who snored on the next mattress.‘Champdivers, my lad, your health!’ said a voice inmy ear, and stopped me—and there are few things I am moreglad of in the retrospect than that it did.

It must have been about four in the afternoon—at leastthe rain had taken off, and the sun was setting with some wintrypomp—when the current of my reflections was effectuallychanged by the arrival of two visitors in a gig. They werefarmers of the neighbourhood, I suppose—big, burly fellowsin great-coats and top-boots, mightily flushed with liquor whenthey arrived, and, before they left, inimitably drunk. Theystayed long in the kitchen with Burchell, drinking, shouting,singing, and keeping it up; and the sound of their merryminstrelsy kept me a kind of company. The night fell, andthe shine of the fire brightened and blinked on the panelledwall. Our illuminated windows must have been visible notonly from the back lane of which Fenn had spoken, but from thecourt where the farmers’ gig awaited them. In the farend of the firelit room lay my companions, the one silent, theother clamorously noisy, the images of death anddrunkenness. Little wonder if I were tempted to join in thechoruses below, and sometimes could hardly refrain from laughter,and sometimes, I believe, from tears—so unmitigated was thetedium, so cruel the suspense, of this period.

At last, about six at night, I should fancy, the noisyminstrels appeared in the court, headed by Fenn with a lantern,and knocking together as they came. The visitors clamberednoisily into the gig, one of them shook the reins, and they weresnatched out of sight and hearing with a suddenness that partookof the nature of prodigy. I am well aware there is aProvidence for drunken men, that holds the reins for them andpresides over their troubles; doubtless he had his work cut outfor him with this particular gigful! Fenn rescued his toeswith an ejacul*tion from under the departing wheels, and turnedat once with uncertain steps and devious lantern to the far endof the court. There, through the open doors of acoach-house, the shock-headed lad was already to be seen drawingforth the covered cart. If I wished any private talk withour host, it must be now or never.

Accordingly I groped my way downstairs, and came to him as helooked on at and lighted the harnessing of the horses.

‘The hour approaches when we have to part,’ saidI; ‘and I shall be obliged if you will tell your servant todrop me at the nearest point for Dunstable. I am determinedto go so far with our friends, Colonel X and Major Y, but mybusiness is peremptory, and it takes me to the neighbourhood ofDunstable.’

Orders were given to my satisfaction, with an obsequiousnessthat seemed only inflamed by his potations.


My companions were aroused with difficulty: the Colonel, poorold gentleman, to a sort of permanent dream, in which you couldsay of him only that he was very deaf and anxiously polite; theMajor still maudlin drunk. We had a dish of tea by thefireside, and then issued like criminals into the scathing coldof the night. For the weather had in the meantimechanged. Upon the cessation of the rain, a strict frost hadsucceeded. The moon, being young, was already near thezenith when we started, glittered everywhere on sheets of ice,and sparkled in ten thousand icicles. A more unpromisingnight for a journey it was hard to conceive. But in thecourse of the afternoon the horses had been well roughed; andKing (for such was the name of the shock-headed lad) was verypositive that he could drive us without misadventure. Hewas as good as his word; indeed, despite a gawky air, he wassimply invaluable in his present employment, showing markedsagacity in all that concerned the care of horses, and guiding usby one short cut after another for days, and without a fault.

The interior of that engine of torture, the covered cart, wasfitted with a bench, on which we took our places; the door wasshut; in a moment, the night closed upon us solid and stifling;and we felt that we were being driven carefully out of thecourtyard. Careful was the word all night, and it was analleviation of our miseries that we did not often enjoy. Ingeneral, as we were driven the better part of the night and day,often at a pretty quick pace and always through a labyrinth ofthe most infamous country lanes and by-roads, we were so bruisedupon the bench, so dashed against the top and sides of the cart,that we reached the end of a stage in truly pitiable case,sometimes flung ourselves down without the formality of eating,made but one sleep of it until the hour of departure returned,and were only properly awakened by the first jolt of the renewedjourney. There were interruptions, at times, that we hailedas alleviations. At times the cart was bogged, once it wasupset, and we must alight and lend the driver the assistance ofour arms; at times, too (as on the occasion when I had firstencountered it), the horses gave out, and we had to trailalongside in mud or frost until the first peep of daylight, orthe approach to a hamlet or a high road, bade us disappear likeghosts into our prison.

The main roads of England are incomparable for excellence, ofa beautiful smoothness, very ingeniously laid down, and so wellkept that in most weathers you could take your dinner off anypart of them without distaste. On them, to the note of thebugle, the mail did its sixty miles a day; innumerable chaiseswhisked after the bobbing postboys; or some young blood wouldflit by in a curricle and tandem, to the vast delight and dangerof the lieges. On them, the slow-pacing waggons made amusic of bells, and all day long the travellers on horse-back andthe travellers on foot (like happy Mr. St. Ives so little a whilebefore!) kept coming and going, and baiting and gaping at eachother, as though a fair were due, and they were gathering to itfrom all England. No, nowhere in the world is travel sogreat a pleasure as in that country. But unhappily our oneneed was to be secret; and all this rapid and animated picture ofthe road swept quite apart from us, as we lumbered up hill anddown dale, under hedge and over stone, among circuitousbyways. Only twice did I receive, as it were, a whiff ofthe highway. The first reached my ears alone. I mighthave been anywhere. I only knew I was walking in the darknight and among ruts, when I heard very far off, over the silentcountry that surrounded us, the guard’s horn wailing itssignal to the next post-house for a change of horses. Itwas like the voice of the day heard in darkness, a voice of theworld heard in prison, the note of a co*ck crowing in themid-seas—in short, I cannot tell you what it was like, youwill have to fancy for yourself—but I could have wept tohear it. Once we were belated: the cattle could hardlycrawl, the day was at hand, it was a nipping, rigorous morning,King was lashing his horses, I was giving an arm to the oldColonel, and the Major was coughing in our rear. I mustsuppose that King was a thought careless, being nearly indesperation about his team, and, in spite of the cold morning,breathing hot with his exertions. We came, at last, alittle before sunrise to the summit of a hill, and saw thehigh-road passing at right angles through an open country ofmeadows and hedgerow pollards; and not only the York mail,speeding smoothly at the gallop of the four horses, but apost-chaise besides, with the post-boy titupping briskly, and thetraveller himself putting his head out of the window, but whetherto breathe the dawn, or the better to observe the passage of themail, I do not know. So that we enjoyed for an instant apicture of free life on the road, in its most luxurious forms ofdespatch and comfort. And thereafter, with a poignantfeeling of contrast in our hearts, we must mount again into ourwheeled dungeon.

We came to our stages at all sorts of odd hours, and they werein all kinds of odd places. I may say at once that my firstexperience was my best. Nowhere again were we so wellentertained as at Burchell Fenn’s. And this, Isuppose, was natural, and indeed inevitable, in so long andsecret a journey. The first stop, we lay six hours in abarn standing by itself in a poor, marshy orchard, and packedwith hay; to make it more attractive, we were told it had beenthe scene of an abominable murder, and was now haunted. Butthe day was beginning to break, and our fatigue was too extremefor visionary terrors. The second or third, we alighted ona barren heath about midnight, built a fire to warm us under theshelter of some thorns, supped like beggars on bread and a pieceof cold bacon, and slept like gipsies with our feet to thefire. In the meanwhile, King was gone with the cart, I knownot where, to get a change of horses, and it was late in the darkmorning when he returned and we were able to resume ourjourney. In the middle of another night, we came to a stopby an ancient, whitewashed cottage of two stories; a privet hedgesurrounded it; the frosty moon shone blankly on the upperwindows; but through those of the kitchen the firelight was seenglinting on the roof and reflected from the dishes on thewall. Here, after much hammering on the door, King managedto arouse an old crone from the chimney-corner chair, where shehad been dozing in the watch; and we were had in, and entertainedwith a dish of hot tea. This old lady was an aunt ofBurchell Fenn’s—and an unwilling partner in hisdangerous trade. Though the house stood solitary, and thehour was an unlikely one for any passenger upon the road, Kingand she conversed in whispers only. There was somethingdismal, something of the sick-room, in this perpetual, guardedsibilation. The apprehensions of our hostess insensiblycommunicated themselves to every one present. We ate likemice in a cat’s ear; if one of us jingled a teaspoon, allwould start; and when the hour came to take the road again, wedrew a long breath of relief, and climbed to our places in thecovered cart with a positive sense of escape. The most ofour meals, however, were taken boldly at hedgerow alehouses,usually at untimely hours of the day, when the clients were inthe field or the farmyard at labour. I shall have to tellpresently of our last experience of the sort, and howunfortunately it miscarried; but as that was the signal for myseparation from my fellow-travellers, I must first finish withthem.

I had never any occasion to waver in my first judgment of theColonel. The old gentleman seemed to me, and still seems inthe retrospect, the salt of the earth. I had occasion tosee him in the extremes of hardship, hunger and cold; he wasdying, and he looked it; and yet I cannot remember any hasty,harsh, or impatient word to have fallen from his lips. Onthe contrary, he ever showed himself careful to please; and evenif he rambled in his talk, rambled always gently—like ahumane, half-witted old hero, true to his colours to thelast. I would not dare to say how often he awoke suddenlyfrom a lethargy, and told us again, as though we had never heardit, the story of how he had earned the cross, how it had beengiven him by the hand of the Emperor, and of theinnocent—and, indeed, foolish—sayings of his daughterwhen he returned with it on his bosom. He had anotheranecdote which he was very apt to give, by way of a rebuke, whenthe Major wearied us beyond endurance with dispraises of theEnglish. This was an account of the braves gens withwhom he had been boarding. True enough, he was a man sosimple and grateful by nature, that the most common civilitieswere able to touch him to the heart, and would remain written inhis memory; but from a thousand inconsiderable but conclusiveindications, I gathered that this family had really loved him,and loaded him with kindness. They made a fire in hisbedroom, which the sons and daughters tended with their ownhands; letters from France were looked for with scarce moreeagerness by himself than by these alien sympathisers; when theycame, he would read them aloud in the parlour to the assembledfamily, translating as he went. The Colonel’s Englishwas elementary; his daughter not in the least likely to be anamusing correspondent; and, as I conceived these scenes in theparlour, I felt sure the interest centred in the Colonel himself,and I thought I could feel in my own heart that mixture of theridiculous and the pathetic, the contest of tears and laughter,which must have shaken the bosoms of the family. Theirkindness had continued till the end. It appears they wereprivy to his flight, the camlet cloak had been lined expresslyfor him, and he was the bearer of a letter from the daughter ofthe house to his own daughter in Paris. The last evening,when the time came to say good-night, it was tacitly known to allthat they were to look upon his face no more. He rose,pleading fatigue, and turned to the daughter, who had been hischief ally: ‘You will permit me, my dear—to an oldand very unhappy soldier—and may God bless you for yourgoodness!’ The girl threw her arms about his neck andsobbed upon his bosom; the lady of the house burst into tears;‘et je vous le jure, le père semouchait!’ quoth the Colonel, twisting his moustacheswith a cavalry air, and at the same time blinking the water fromhis eyes at the mere recollection.

It was a good thought to me that he had found these friends incaptivity; that he had started on this fatal journey from socordial a farewell. He had broken his parole for hisdaughter: that he should ever live to reach her sick-bed, that hecould continue to endure to an end the hardships, the crushingfatigue, the savage cold, of our pilgrimage, I had early ceasedto hope. I did for him what I was able,—nursed him,kept him covered, watched over his slumbers, sometimes held himin my arms at the rough places of the road.‘Champdivers,’ he once said, ‘you are like ason to me—like a son.’ It is good to remember,though at the time it put me on the rack. All was to nopurpose. Fast as we were travelling towards France, he wastravelling faster still to another destination. Daily hegrew weaker and more indifferent. An old rustic accent ofLower Normandy reappeared in his speech, from which it had longbeen banished, and grew stronger; old words of the patois,too: Ouistreham, matrassé, and others, thesense of which we were sometimes unable to guess. On thevery last day he began again his eternal story of the cross andthe Emperor. The Major, who was particularly ill, or atleast particularly cross, uttered some angry words ofprotest. ‘Pardonnez-moi, monsieur lecommandant, mais c’est pour monsieur,’said the Colonel: ‘Monsieur has not yet heard thecirc*mstance, and is good enough to feel aninterest.’ Presently after, however, he began to losethe thread of his narrative; and at last: ‘Quéque j’ai? Je m’embrouille!’says he, ‘Suffit: s’m’a ladonné, et Berthe en était biencontente.’ It struck me as the falling of thecurtain or the closing of the sepulchre doors.

Sure enough, in but a little while after, he fell into a sleepas gentle as an infant’s, which insensibly changed into thesleep of death. I had my arm about his body at the time andremarked nothing, unless it were that he once stretched himself alittle, so kindly the end came to that disastrous life. Itwas only at our evening halt that the Major and I discovered wewere travelling alone with the poor clay. That night westole a spade from a field—I think near MarketBosworth—and a little farther on, in a wood of young oaktrees and by the light of King’s lantern, we buried the oldsoldier of the Empire with both prayers and tears.

We had needs invent Heaven if it had not been revealed to us;there are some things that fall so bitterly ill on this sideTime! As for the Major, I have long since forgivenhim. He broke the news to the poor Colonel’sdaughter; I am told he did it kindly; and sure, nobody could havedone it without tears! His share of purgatory will bebrief; and in this world, as I could not very well praise him, Ihave suppressed his name. The Colonel’s also, for thesake of his parole. Requiescat.


I have mentioned our usual course, which was to eat ininconsiderable wayside hostelries, known to King. It was adangerous business; we went daily under fire to satisfy ourappetite, and put our head in the loin’s mouth for a pieceof bread. Sometimes, to minimise the risk, we would alldismount before we came in view of the house, straggle inseverally, and give what orders we pleased, like disconnectedstrangers. In like manner we departed, to find the cart atan appointed place, some half a mile beyond. The Coloneland the Major had each a word or two of English—God helptheir pronunciation! But they did well enough to order arasher and a pot or call a reckoning; and, to say truth, thesecountry folks did not give themselves the pains, and had scarcethe knowledge, to be critical.

About nine or ten at night the pains of hunger and cold droveus to an alehouse in the flats of Bedfordshire, not far fromBedford itself. In the inn kitchen was a long, lean,characteristic-looking fellow of perhaps forty, dressed inblack. He sat on a settle by the fireside, smoking a longpipe, such as they call a yard of clay. His hat and wigwere hanged upon the knob behind him, his head as bald as abladder of lard, and his expression very shrewd, cantankerous,and inquisitive. He seemed to value himself above hiscompany, to give himself the airs of a man of the world amongthat rustic herd; which was often no more than his due; being, asI afterwards discovered, an attorney’s clerk. I tookupon myself the more ungrateful part of arriving last; and by thetime I entered on the scene the Major was already served at aside table. Some general conversation must have passed, andI smelled danger in the air. The Major looked flustered,the attorney’s clerk triumphant, and three or four peasantsin smock-frocks (who sat about the fire to play chorus) had lettheir pipes go out.

‘Give you good evening, sir!’ said theattorney’s clerk to me.

‘The same to you, sir,’ said I.

‘I think this one will do,’ quoth the clerk to theyokels with a wink; and then, as soon as I had given my order,‘Pray, sir, whither are you bound?’ he added.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I am not one of those whospeak either of their business or their destination in houses ofpublic entertainment.’

‘A good answer,’ said he, ‘and an excellentprinciple. Sir, do you speak French?’

‘Why, no, sir,’ said I. ‘A littleSpanish at your service.’

‘But you know the French accent, perhaps?’ saidthe clerk.

‘Well do I do that!’ said I. ‘TheFrench accent? Why, I believe I can tell a Frenchman in tenwords.’

‘Here is a puzzle for you, then!’ he said.‘I have no material doubt myself, but some of thesegentlemen are more backward. The lack of education, youknow. I make bold to say that a man cannot walk, cannothear, and cannot see, without the blessings ofeducation.’

He turned to the Major, whose food plainly stuck in histhroat.

‘Now, sir,’ pursued the clerk, ‘let me havethe pleasure to hear your voice again. Where are you going,did you say?’

‘Sare, I am go-ing to Lon-don,’ said theMajor.

I could have flung my plate at him to be such an ass, and tohave so little a gift of languages where that was theessential.

‘What think ye of that?’ said the clerk.‘Is that French enough?’

‘Good God!’ cried I, leaping up like one whoshould suddenly perceive an acquaintance, ‘is this you, Mr.Dubois? Why, who would have dreamed of encountering you sofar from home?’ As I spoke, I shook hands with theMajor heartily; and turning to our tormentor, ‘Oh, sir, youmay be perfectly reassured! This is a very honest fellow, alate neighbour of mine in the city of Carlisle.’

I thought the attorney looked put out; I little knew theman!

‘But he is French,’ said he, ‘for allthat?’

‘Ay, to be sure!’ said I. ‘A Frenchmanof the emigration! None of your Buonaparte lot. Iwill warrant his views of politics to be as sound as yourown.’

‘What is a little strange,’ said the clerkquietly, ‘is that Mr. Dubois should deny it.’

I got it fair in the face, and took it smiling; but the shockwas rude, and in the course of the next words I contrived to dowhat I have rarely done, and make a slip in my English. Ikept my liberty and life by my proficiency all these months, andfor once that I failed, it is not to be supposed that I wouldmake a public exhibition of the details. Enough, that itwas a very little error, and one that might have passedninety-nine times in a hundred. But my limb of the law wasas swift to pick it up as though he had been by trade a master oflanguages.

‘Aha!’ cries he; ‘and you are French,too! Your tongue bewrays you. Two Frenchmen cominginto an alehouse, severally and accidentally, not knowing eachother, at ten of the clock at night, in the middle ofBedfordshire? No, sir, that shall not pass! You areall prisoners escaping, if you are nothing worse. Consideryourselves under arrest. I have to trouble you for yourpapers.’

‘Where is your warrant, if you come to that?’ saidI. ‘My papers! A likely thing that I would showmy papers on the ipse dixit of an unknown fellow in ahedge alehouse!’

‘Would you resist the law?’ says he.

‘Not the law, sir!’ said I. ‘I hope Iam too good a subject for that. But for a nameless fellowwith a bald head and a pair of gingham small-clothes, whycertainly! ’Tis my birthright as an Englishman.Where’s Magna Charta, else?’

‘We will see about that,’ says he; and then,addressing the assistants, ‘where does the constablelive?’

‘Lord love you, sir!’ cried the landlord,‘what are you thinking of? The constable at past tenat night! Why, he’s abed and asleep, and good anddrunk two hours agone!’

‘Ah that a’ be!’ came in chorus from theyokels.

The attorney’s clerk was put to a stand. He couldnot think of force; there was little sign of martial ardour aboutthe landlord, and the peasants were indifferent—they onlylistened, and gaped, and now scratched a head, and now would geta light to their pipes from the embers on the hearth. Onthe other hand, the Major and I put a bold front on the businessand defied him, not without some ground of law. In thisstate of matters he proposed I should go along with him to oneSquire Merton, a great man of the neighbourhood, who was in thecommission of the peace, the end of his avenue but three lanesaway. I told him I would not stir a foot for him if it wereto save his soul. Next he proposed I should stay all nightwhere I was, and the constable could see to my affair in themorning, when he was sober. I replied I should go when andwhere I pleased; that we were lawful travellers in the fear ofGod and the king, and I for one would suffer myself to be stayedby nobody. At the same time, I was thinking the matter hadlasted altogether too long, and I determined to bring it to anend at once.

‘See here,’ said I, getting up, for till now I hadremained carelessly seated, ‘there’s only one way todecide a thing like this—only one way that’s rightEnglish—and that’s man to man. Take offyour coat, sir, and these gentlemen shall see fairplay.’ At this there came a look in his eye that Icould not mistake. His education had been neglected in oneessential and eminently British particular: he could notbox. No more could I, you may say; but then I had the moreimpudence—and I had made the proposal.

‘He says I’m no Englishman, but the proof of thepudding is the eating of it,’ I continued. And here Istripped my coat and fell into the proper attitude, which wasjust about all I knew of this barbarian art. ‘Why,sir, you seem to me to hang back a little,’ said I.‘Come, I’ll meet you; I’ll give you anappetiser—though hang me if I can understand the man thatwants any enticement to hold up his hands.’ I drew abank-note out of my fob and tossed it to the landlord.‘There are the stakes,’ said I.‘I’ll fight you for first blood, since you seem tomake so much work about it. If you tap my claret first,there are five guineas for you, and I’ll go with you to anysquire you choose to mention. If I tap yours, you’llperhaps let on that I’m the better man, and allow me to goabout my lawful business at my own time and convenience, by God;is that fair, my lads?’ says I, appealing to thecompany.

‘Ay, ay,’ said the chorus of chawbacons; ‘hecan’t say no fairer nor that, he can’t. Takeoff thy coat master!’

The limb of the law was now on the wrong side of publicopinion, and, what heartened me to go on, the position wasrapidly changing in our favour. Already the Major waspaying his shot to the very indifferent landlord, and I could seethe white face of King at the back-door, making signals ofhaste.

‘Oho!’ quoth my enemy, ‘you are as full ofdoubles as a fox, are you not? But I see through you; I seethrough and through you. You would change the venue, wouldyou?’

‘I may be transparent, sir,’ says I, ‘but ifyou’ll do me the favour to stand up, you’ll find Ican hit dam hard.’

‘Which is a point, if you will observe, that I had nevercalled in question,’ said he. ‘Why, youignorant clowns,’ he proceeded, addressing the company,‘can’t you see the fellow’s gulling you beforeyour eyes? Can’t you see that he has changed thepoint upon me? I say he’s a French prisoner, and heanswers that he can box! What has that to do with it?I would not wonder but what he can dance, too—they’reall dancing masters over there. I say, and I stick to it,that he’s a Frenchy. He says he isn’t.Well then, let him out with his papers, if he has them! Ifhe had, would he not show them? If he had, would he notjump at the idea of going to Squire Merton, a man you allknow? Now, you are all plain, straightforward Bedfordshiremen, and I wouldn’t ask a better lot to appeal to.You’re not the kind to be talked over with any Frenchgammon, and he’s plenty of that. But let me tell him,he can take his pigs to another market; they’ll never dohere; they’ll never go down in Bedfordshire. Why!look at the man! Look at his feet! Has anybody got afoot in the room like that? See how he stands! do any ofyou fellows stand like that? Does the landlord,there? Why, he has Frenchman wrote all over him, as big asa sign-post!’

This was all very well; and in a different scene I might evenhave been gratified by his remarks; but I saw clearly, if I wereto allow him to talk, he might turn the tables on mealtogether. He might not be much of a hand at boxing; but Iwas much mistaken, or he had studied forensic eloquence in a goodschool. In this predicament I could think of nothing moreingenious than to burst out of the house, under the pretext of anungovernable rage. It was certainly not veryingenious—it was elementary, but I had no choice.

‘You white-livered dog!’ I broke out.‘Do you dare to tell me you’re an Englishman, andwon’t fight? But I’ll stand no more ofthis! I leave this place, where I’ve beeninsulted! Here! what’s to pay? Payyourself!’ I went on, offering the landlord a handful ofsilver, ‘and give me back my bank-note!’

The landlord, following his usual policy of obligingeverybody, offered no opposition to my design. The positionof my adversary was now thoroughly bad. He had lost my twocompanions. He was on the point of losing me also.There was plainly no hope of arousing the company to help; andwatching him with a corner of my eye, I saw him hesitate for amoment. The next, he had taken down his hat and his wig,which was of black horsehair; and I saw him draw from behind thesettle a vast hooded great-coat and a small valise.‘The devil!’ thought I: ‘is the rascal going tofollow me?’

I was scarce clear of the inn before the limb of the law wasat my heels. I saw his face plain in the moonlight; and themost resolute purpose showed in it, along with an unmovedcomposure. A chill went over me. ‘This is nocommon adventure,’ thinks I to myself. ‘Youhave got hold of a man of character, St. Ives! A bite-hard,a bull-dog, a weasel is on your trail; and how are you to throwhim off?’ Who was he? By some of hisexpressions I judged he was a hanger-on of courts. But inwhat character had he followed the assizes? As a simplespectator, as a lawyer’s clerk, as a criminal himself,or—last and worst supposition—as a Bow-street‘runner’?

The cart would wait for me, perhaps, half a mile down ouronward road, which I was already following. And I toldmyself that in a few minutes’ walking, Bow-street runner ornot, I should have him at my mercy. And then reflectioncame to me in time. Of all things, one was out of thequestion. Upon no account must this obtrusive fellow seethe cart. Until I had killed or shook him off, I was quitedivorced from my companions—alone, in the midst of England,on a frosty by-way leading whither I knew not, with asleuth-hound at my heels, and never a friend but theholly-stick!

We came at the same time to a crossing of lanes. Thebranch to the left was overhung with trees, deeply sunken anddark. Not a ray of moonlight penetrated its recesses; and Itook it at a venture. The wretch followed my example insilence; and for some time we crunched together over frozen poolswithout a word. Then he found his voice, with achuckle.

‘This is not the way to Mr. Merton’s,’ saidhe.

‘No?’ said I. ‘It is mine,however.’

‘And therefore mine,’ said he.

Again we fell silent; and we may thus have covered half a milebefore the lane, taking a sudden turn, brought us forth againinto the moonshine. With his hooded great-coat on his back,his valise in his hand, his black wig adjusted, and footing it onthe ice with a sort of sober doggedness of manner, my enemy waschanged almost beyond recognition: changed in everything but acertain dry, polemical, pedantic air, that spoke of a sedentaryoccupation and high stools. I observed, too, that hisvalise was heavy; and, putting this and that together, hit upon aplan.

‘A seasonable night, sir,’ said I.‘What do you say to a bit of running? The frost hasme by the toes.’

‘With all the pleasure in life,’ says he.

His voice seemed well assured, which pleased me little.However, there was nothing else to try, except violence, forwhich it would always be too soon. I took to my heelsaccordingly, he after me; and for some time the slapping of ourfeet on the hard road might have been heard a mile away. Hehad started a pace behind me, and he finished in the sameposition. For all his extra years and the weight of hisvalise, he had not lost a hair’s breadth. The devilmight race him for me—I had enough of it!

And, besides, to run so fast was contrary to myinterests. We could not run long without arrivingsomewhere. At any moment we might turn a corner and findourselves at the lodge-gate of some Squire Merton, in the midstof a village whose constable was sober, or in the hands of apatrol. There was no help for it—I must finish withhim on the spot, as long as it was possible. I looked aboutme, and the place seemed suitable; never a light, never ahouse—nothing but stubble-fields, fallows, and a fewstunted trees. I stopped and eyed him in the moonlight withan angry stare.

‘Enough of this foolery!’ said I.

He had tamed, and now faced me full, very pale, but with nosign of shrinking.

‘I am quite of your opinion,’ said he.‘You have tried me at the running; you can try me next atthe high jump. It will be all the same. It must endthe one way.’

I made my holly whistle about my head.

‘I believe you know what way!’ said I.‘We are alone, it is night, and I am wholly resolved.Are you not frightened?’

‘No,’ he said, ‘not in the smallest. Ido not box, sir; but I am not a coward, as you may havesupposed. Perhaps it will simplify our relations if I tellyou at the outset that I walk armed.’

Quick as lightning I made a feint at his head; as quickly hegave ground, and at the same time I saw a pistol glitter in hishand.

‘No more of that, Mr. French-Prisoner!’ hesaid. ‘It will do me no good to have your death at mydoor.’

‘Faith, nor me either!’ said I; and I lowered mystick and considered the man, not without a twinkle ofadmiration. ‘You see,’ I said, ‘there isone consideration that you appear to overlook: there are a greatmany chances that your pistol may miss fire.’

‘I have a pair,’ he returned. ‘Nevertravel without a brace of barkers.’

‘I make you my compliment,’ said I.‘You are able to take care of yourself, and that is a goodtrait. But, my good man! let us look at this matterdispassionately. You are not a coward, and no more am I; weare both men of excellent sense; I have good reason, whatever itmay be, to keep my concerns to myself and to walk alone.Now I put it to you pointedly, am I likely to stand it? AmI likely to put up with your continued and—excuseme—highly impudent ingérence into my privateaffairs?’

‘Another French word,’ says he composedly.

‘Oh! damn your French words!’ cried I.‘You seem to be a Frenchman yourself!’

‘I have had many opportunities by which I haveprofited,’ he explained. ‘Few men are betteracquainted with the similarities and differences, whether ofidiom or accent, of the two languages.’

‘You are a pompous fellow, too!’ said I.

‘Oh, I can make distinctions, sir,’ says he.‘I can talk with Bedfordshire peasants; and I can expressmyself becomingly, I hope, in the company of a gentleman ofeducation like yourself.’

‘If you set up to be a gentleman—’ Ibegan.

‘Pardon me,’ he interrupted: ‘I make no suchclaim. I only see the nobility and gentry in the way ofbusiness. I am quite a plain person.’

‘For the Lord’s sake,’ I exclaimed,‘set my mind at rest upon one point. In the name ofmystery, who and what are you?’

‘I have no cause to be ashamed of my name, sir,’said he, ‘nor yet my trade. I am Thomas Dudgeon, atyour service, clerk to Mr. Daniel Romaine, solicitor of London;High Holborn is our address, sir.’

It was only by the ecstasy of the relief that I knew howhorribly I had been frightened. I flung my stick on theroad.

‘Romaine?’ I cried. ‘DanielRomaine? An old hunks with a red face and a big head, andgot up like a Quaker? My dear friend, to myarms!’

‘Keep back, I say!’ said Dudgeon weakly.

I would not listen to him. With the end of my own alarm,I felt as if I must infallibly be at the end of all dangerslikewise; as if the pistol that he held in one hand were no moreto be feared than the valise that he carried with the other, andnow put up like a barrier against my advance.

‘Keep back, or I declare I will fire,’ he wascrying. ‘Have a care, for God’s sake! Mypistol—’

He might scream as be pleased. Willy nilly, I folded himto my breast, I pressed him there, I kissed his ugly mug as ithad never been kissed before and would never be kissed again; andin the doing so knocked his wig awry and his hat off. Hebleated in my embrace; so bleats the sheep in the arms of thebutcher. The whole thing, on looking back, appearsincomparably reckless and absurd; I no better than a madman foroffering to advance on Dudgeon, and he no better than a fool fornot shooting me while I was about it. But all’s wellthat ends well; or, as the people in these days kept singing andwhistling on the streets:—

‘There’s a sweet little cherub thatsits up aloft
And looks out for the life of poor Jack.’

‘There!’ said I, releasing him a little, but stillkeeping my hands on his shoulders, ‘je vous ai bel etbien embrassé—and, as you would say, there isanother French word.’ With his wig over one eye, helooked incredibly rueful and put out. ‘Cheer up,Dudgeon; the ordeal is over, you shall be embraced no more.But do, first of all, for God’s-sake, put away your pistol;you handle it as if you were a co*ckatrice; some time or other,depend upon it, it will certainly go off. Here is yourhat. No, let me put it on square, and the wig beforeit. Never suffer any stress of circ*mstances to comebetween you and the duty you owe to yourself. If you havenobody else to dress for, dress for God!

‘Put your wig straight
On your bald pate,
Keep your chin scraped,
And your figure draped.

Can you match me that? The whole duty of man in aquatrain! And remark, I do not set up to be a professionalbard; these are the outpourings of adilettante.’

‘But, my dear sir!’ he exclaimed.

‘But, my dear sir!’ I echoed, ‘I will allowno man to interrupt the flow of my ideas. Give me youropinion on my quatrain, or I vow we shall have a quarrel ofit.’

‘Certainly you are quite an original,’ hesaid.

‘Quite,’ said I; ‘and I believe I have mycounterpart before me.’

‘Well, for a choice,’ says he, smiling, ‘andwhether for sense or poetry, give me

‘“Worth makes the man, and want of itthe fellow:
The rest is all but leather and prunello.”’

‘Oh, but that’s not fair—that’sPope! It’s not original, Dudgeon. Understandme,’ said I, wringing his breast-button, ‘the firstduty of all poetry is to be mine, sir—mine.Inspiration now swells in my bosom, because—to tell you theplain truth, and descend a little in style—I am devilishrelieved at the turn things have taken. So, I dare say, areyou yourself, Dudgeon, if you would only allow it. Andà propos, let me ask you a home question.Between friends, have you ever fired that pistol?’

‘Why, yes, sir,’ he replied.‘Twice—at hedgesparrows.’

‘And you would have fired at me, you bloody-mindedman?’ I cried.

‘If you go to that, you seemed mighty reckless with yourstick,’ said Dudgeon.

‘Did I indeed? Well, well, ’tis all pasthistory; ancient as King Pharamond—which is another Frenchword, if you cared to accumulate more evidence,’ saysI. ‘But happily we are now the best of friends, andhave all our interests in common.’

‘You go a little too fast, if you’ll excuse me,Mr. ---: I do not know your name, that I am aware,’ saidDudgeon.

‘No, to be sure!’ said I. ‘Never heardof it!’

‘A word of explanation—’ he began.

‘No, Dudgeon!’ I interrupted. ‘Bepractical; I know what you want, and the name of it issupper. Rien ne creuse comme l’emotion.I am hungry myself, and yet I am more accustomed to warlikepalpitations than you, who are but a hunter ofhedgesparrows. Let me look at your face critically: yourbill of fare is three slices of cold rare roast beef, a Welshrabbit, a pot of stout, and a glass or two of sound tawny port,old in bottle—the right milk of Englishmen.’Methought there seemed a brightening in his eye and a meltingabout his mouth at this enumeration.

‘The night is young,’ I continued; ‘not muchpast eleven, for a wager. Where can we find a goodinn? And remark that I say good, for the port mustbe up to the occasion—not a headache in a pipe ofit.’

‘Really, sir,’ he said, smiling a little,‘you have a way of carrying things—’

‘Will nothing make you stick to the subject?’ Icried; ‘you have the most irrelevant mind! How do youexpect to rise in your profession? The inn?’

‘Well, I will say you are a facetious gentleman!’said he. ‘You must have your way, I see. We arenot three miles from Bedford by this very road.’

‘Done!’ cried I. ‘Bedford beit!’

I tucked his arm under mine, possessed myself of the valise,and walked him off unresisting. Presently we came to anopen piece of country lying a thought downhill. The roadwas smooth and free of ice, the moonshine thin and bright overthe meadows and the leafless trees. I was now honestly donewith the purgatory of the covered cart; I was close to mygreat-uncle’s; I had no more fear of Mr. Dudgeon; whichwere all grounds enough for jollity. And I was aware,besides, of us two as of a pair of tiny and solitary dolls underthe vast frosty cupola of the midnight; the rooms decked, themoon burnished, the least of the stars lighted, the floor sweptand waxed, and nothing wanting but for the band to strike up andthe dancing to begin. In the exhilaration of my heart Itook the music on myself—

‘Merrily danced the Quaker’s wife,
And merrily danced the Quaker.’

I broke into that animated and appropriate air, clapped my armabout Dudgeon’s waist, and away down the hill at a dancingstep! He hung back a little at the start, but the impulseof the tune, the night, and my example, were not to beresisted. A man made of putty must have danced, and evenDudgeon showed himself to be a human being. Higher andhigher were the capers that we cut; the moon repeated in shadowour antic footsteps and gestures; and it came over my mind of asudden—really like balm—what appearance of man I wasdancing with, what a long bilious countenance he had shown underhis shaven pate, and what a world of trouble the rascal had givenme in the immediate past.

Presently we began to see the lights of Bedford. MyPuritanic companion stopped and disengaged himself.

‘This is a trifle infra dig., sir, is itnot?’ said he. ‘A party might suppose we hadbeen drinking.’

‘And so you shall be, Dudgeon,’ said I.‘You shall not only be drinking, you old hypocrite, but youshall be drunk—dead drunk, sir—and the boots shallput you to bed! We’ll warn him when we go in.Never neglect a precaution; never put off till to-morrow what youcan do to-day!’

But he had no more frivolity to complain of. We finishedour stage and came to the inn-door with decorum, to find thehouse still alight and in a bustle with many late arrivals; togive our orders with a prompt severity which ensured obedience,and to be served soon after at a side-table, close to the fireand in a blaze of candle-light, with such a meal as I had beendreaming of for days past. For days, you are to remember, Ihad been skulking in the covered cart, a prey to cold, hunger,and an accumulation of discomforts that might have daunted themost brave; and the white table napery, the bright crystal, thereverberation of the fire, the red curtains, the Turkey carpet,the portraits on the coffee-room wall, the placid faces of thetwo or three late guests who were silently prolonging thepleasures of digestion, and (last, but not by any means least) aglass of an excellent light dry port, put me in a humour only tobe described as heavenly. The thought of the Colonel, ofhow he would have enjoyed this snug room and roaring fire, and ofhis cold grave in the wood by Market Bosworth, lingered on mypalate, amari aliquid, like an after-taste, but was notable—I say it with shame—entirely to dispel myself-complacency. After all, in this world every dog hangsby its own tail. I was a free adventurer, who had justbrought to a successful end—or, at least, within view ofit—an adventure very difficult and alarming; and I lookedacross at Mr. Dudgeon, as the port rose to his cheeks, and asmile, that was semi-confidential and a trifle foolish, began toplay upon his leathery features, not only with composure, butwith a suspicion of kindness. The rascal had been brave, aquality for which I would value the devil; and if he had beenpertinacious in the beginning, he had more than made up for itbefore the end.

‘And now, Dudgeon, to explain,’ I began.‘I know your master, he knows me, and he knows and approvesof my errand. So much I may tell you, that I am on my wayto Amersham Place.’

‘Oho!’ quoth Dudgeon, ‘I begin tosee.’

‘I am heartily glad of it,’ said I, passing thebottle, ‘because that is about all I can tell you.You must take my word for the remainder. Either believe meor don’t. If you don’t, let’s take achaise; you can carry me to-morrow to High Holborn, and confrontme with Mr. Romaine; the result of which will be to set your mindat rest—and to make the holiest disorder in yourmaster’s plans. If I judge you aright (for I find youa shrewd fellow), this will not be at all to your mind. Youknow what a subordinate gets by officiousness; if I can trust mymemory, old Romaine has not at all the face that I should care tosee in anger; and I venture to predict surprising results uponyour weekly salary—if you are paid by the week, thatis. In short, let me go free, and ’tis an end of thematter; take me to London, and ’tis only abeginning—and, by my opinion, a beginning oftroubles. You can take your choice.’

‘And that is soon taken,’ said he. ‘Goto Amersham tomorrow, or go to the devil if you prefer—Iwash my hands of you and the whole transaction. No, youdon’t find me putting my head in between Romaine and aclient! A good man of business, sir, but hard as millstonegrit. I might get the sack, and I shouldn’twonder! But, it’s a pity, too,’ he added, andsighed, shook his head, and took his glass off sadly.

‘That reminds me,’ said I. ‘I have agreat curiosity, and you can satisfy it. Why were you soforward to meddle with poor Mr. Dubois? Why did youtransfer your attentions to me? And generally, what inducedyou to make yourself such a nuisance?’

He blushed deeply.

‘Why, sir,’ says he, ‘there is such a thingas patriotism, I hope.’


By eight the next morning Dudgeon and I had made ourparting. By that time we had grown to be extremelyfamiliar; and I would very willingly have kept him by me, andeven carried him to Amersham Place. But it appeared he wasdue at the public-house where we had met, on some affairs of mygreat-uncle the Count, who had an outlying estate in that part ofthe shire. If Dudgeon had had his way the night before, Ishould have been arrested on my uncle’s land and by myuncle’s agent, a culmination of ill-luck.

A little after noon I started, in a hired chaise, by way ofDunstable. The mere mention of the name Amersham Place madeevery one supple and smiling. It was plainly a great house,and my uncle lived there in style. The fame of it rose aswe approached, like a chain of mountains; at Bedford they touchedtheir caps, but in Dunstable they crawled upon theirbellies. I thought the landlady would have kissed me; sucha flutter of cordiality, such smiles, such affectionateattentions were called forth, and the good lady bustled on myservice in such a pother of ringlets and with such a jingling ofkeys. ‘You’re probably expected, sir, at thePlace? I do trust you may ’ave better accounts of hislordship’s ’elth, sir. We understood that hislordship, Mosha de Carwell, was main bad. Ha, sir, we shallall feel his loss, poor, dear, noble gentleman; and I’msure nobody more polite! They do say, sir, his wealth isenormous, and before the Revolution, quite a prince in his owncountry! But I beg your pardon, sir; ’ow I do run on,to be sure; and doubtless all beknown to you already! Foryou do resemble the family, sir. I should have known youanywheres by the likeness to the dear viscount. Ha, poorgentleman, he must ’ave a ’eavy ’eart thesedays.’

In the same place I saw out of the inn-windows a man-servantpassing in the livery of my house, which you are to think I hadnever before seen worn, or not that I could remember. I hadoften enough, indeed, pictured myself advanced to be a Marshal, aDuke of the Empire, a Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, andsome other kickshaws of the kind, with a perfect rout of flunkeyscorrectly dressed in my own colours. But it is one thing toimagine, and another to see; it would be one thing to have theseliveries in a house of my own in Paris—it was quite anotherto find them flaunting in the heart of hostile England; and Ifear I should have made a fool of myself, if the man had not beenon the other side of the street, and I at a one-panewindow. There was something illusory in thistransplantation of the wealth and honours of a family, a thing byits nature so deeply rooted in the soil; something ghostly inthis sense of home-coming so far from home.

From Dunstable I rolled away into a crescendo of similarimpressions. There are certainly few things to be comparedwith these castles, or rather country seats, of the Englishnobility and gentry; nor anything at all to equal the servilityof the population that dwells in their neighbourhood.Though I was but driving in a hired chaise, word of mydestination seemed to have gone abroad, and the women curtseyedand the men louted to me by the wayside. As I came near, Ibegan to appreciate the roots of this widespread respect.The look of my uncle’s park wall, even from the outside,had something of a princely character; and when I came in view ofthe house itself, a sort of madness of vicarious vain-glorystruck me dumb and kept me staring. It was about the sizeof the Tuileries. It faced due north; and the last rays ofthe sun, that was setting like a red-hot shot amidst a tumultuousgathering of snow clouds, were reflected on the endless rows ofwindows. A portico of Doric columns adorned the front, andwould have done honour to a temple. The servant whor*ceived me at the door was civil to a fault—I had almostsaid, to offence; and the hall to which he admitted me through apair of glass doors was warmed and already partly lighted by aliberal chimney heaped with the roots of beeches.

‘Vicomte Anne de St. Yves,’ said I, in answer tothe man’s question; whereupon he bowed before me lowerstill, and stepping upon one side introduced me to the trulyawful presence of the major-domo. I have seen manydignitaries in my time, but none who quite equalled this eminentbeing; who was good enough to answer to the unassuming name ofDawson. From him I learned that my uncle was extremely low,a doctor in close attendance, Mr. Romaine expected at any moment,and that my cousin, the Vicomte de St. Yves, had been sent forthe same morning.

‘It was a sudden seizure, then?’ I asked.

Well, he would scarcely go as far as that. It was adecline, a fading away, sir; but he was certainly took bad theday before, had sent for Mr. Romaine, and the major-domo hadtaken it on himself a little later to send word to theViscount. ‘It seemed to me, my lord,’ said he,‘as if this was a time when all the fambly should be calledtogether.’

I approved him with my lips, but not in my heart. Dawsonwas plainly in the interests of my cousin.

‘And when can I expect to see my great-uncle, theCount?’ said I.

In the evening, I was told; in the meantime he would show meto my room, which had been long prepared for me, and I should beexpected to dine in about an hour with the doctor, if my lordshiphad no objections.

My lordship had not the faintest.

‘At the same time,’ I said, ‘I have had anaccident: I have unhappily lost my baggage, and am here in what Istand in. I don’t know if the doctor be a formalist,but it is quite impossible I should appear at table as Iought.’

He begged me to be under no anxiety. ‘We have beenlong expecting you,’ said he. ‘All isready.’

Such I found to be the truth. A great room had beenprepared for me; through the mullioned windows the last flickerof the winter sunset interchanged with the reverberation of aroyal fire; the bed was open, a suit of evening clothes wasairing before the blaze, and from the far corner a boy cameforward with deprecatory smiles. The dream in which I hadbeen moving seemed to have reached its pitch. I might havequitted this house and room only the night before; it was my ownplace that I had come to; and for the first time in my life Iunderstood the force of the words home and welcome.

‘This will be all as you would want, sir?’ saidMr. Dawson. ‘This ’ere boy, Rowley, we placeentirely at your disposition. ’E’s not exactlya trained vallet, but Mossho Powl, the Viscount’sgentleman, ’ave give him the benefick of a few lessons, andit is ’oped that he may give sitisfection. Hanythinkthat you may require, if you will be so good as to mention thesame to Rowley, I will make it my business myself, sir, to seeyou sitisfied.’

So saying, the eminent and already detested Mr. Dawson tookhis departure, and I was left alone with Rowley. A man whomay be said to have wakened to consciousness in the prison of theAbbaye, among those ever graceful and ever tragic figures of thebrave and fair, awaiting the hour of the guillotine and denudedof every comfort, I had never known the luxuries or the amenitiesof my rank in life. To be attended on by servants I hadonly been accustomed to in inns. My toilet had long beenmilitary, to a moment, at the note of a bugle, too often at aditch-side. And it need not be wondered at if I looked onmy new valet with a certain diffidence. But I rememberedthat if he was my first experience of a valet, I was his firsttrial as a master. Cheered by which consideration, Idemanded my bath in a style of good assurance. There was abathroom contiguous; in an incredibly short space of time the hotwater was ready; and soon after, arrayed in a shawldressing-gown, and in a luxury of contentment and comfort, I wasreclined in an easy-chair before the mirror, while Rowley, with amixture of pride and anxiety which I could well understand, laidout his razors.

‘Hey, Rowley?’ I asked, not quite resigned to gounder fire with such an inexperienced commander.‘It’s all right, is it? You feel pretty sure ofyour weapons?’

‘Yes, my lord,’ he replied.‘It’s all right, I assure your lordship.’

‘I beg your pardon, Mr. Rowley, ‘but for the sakeof shortness, would you mind not belording me in private?’said I. ‘It will do very well if you call me Mr.Anne. It is the way of my country, as I dare say youknow.’

Mr. Rowley looked blank.

‘But you’re just as much a Viscount as Mr.Powl’s, are you not?’ he said.

‘As Mr. Powl’s Viscount?’ said I,laughing. ‘Oh, keep your mind easy, Mr.Rowley’s is every bit as good. Only, you see, as I amof the younger line, I bear my Christian name along with thetitle. Alain is the Viscount; I am the ViscountAnne. And in giving me the name of Mr. Anne, I assureyou you will be quite regular.’

‘Yes, Mr. Anne,’ said the docile youth.‘But about the shaving, sir, you need be under noalarm. Mr. Powl says I ’ave excellentdispositions.’

‘Mr. Powl?’ said I. ‘Thatdoesn’t seem to me very like a French name.’

‘No, sir, indeed, my lord,’ said he, with a burstof confidence. ‘No, indeed, Mr. Anne, and it do notsurely. I should say now, it was more like Mr.Pole.’

‘And Mr. Powl is the Viscount’s man?’

‘Yes, Mr. Anne,’ said he. ‘He’ave a hard billet, he do. The Viscount is a veryparticular gentleman. I don’t think as you’llbe, Mr. Anne?’ he added, with a confidential smile in themirror.

He was about sixteen, well set up, with a pleasant, merry,freckled face, and a pair of dancing eyes. There was an airat once deprecatory and insinuating about the rascal that Ithought I recognised. There came to me from my own boyhoodmemories of certain passionate admirations long passed away, andthe objects of them long ago discredited or dead. Iremembered how anxious I had been to serve those fleeting heroes,how readily I told myself I would have died for them, howmuch greater and handsomer than life they had appeared. Andlooking in the mirror, it seemed to me that I read the face ofRowley, like an echo or a ghost, by the light of my ownyouth. I have always contended (somewhat against theopinion of my friends) that I am first of all an economist; andthe last thing that I would care to throw away is that veryvaluable piece of property—a boy’s hero-worship.

‘Why,’ said I, ‘you shave like an angel, Mr.Rowley!’

‘Thank you, my lord,’ says he. ‘Mr.Powl had no fear of me. You may be sure, sir, I should never’ave had this berth if I ’adn’t ’ave beenup to Dick. We been expecting of you this month back.My eye! I never see such preparations. Every day thefires has been kep’ up, the bed made, and all! Assoon as it was known you were coming, sir, I got the appointment;and I’ve been up and down since then like aJack-in-the-box. A wheel couldn’t sound in the avenuebut what I was at the window! I’ve had a manydisappointments; but to-night, as soon as you stepped out of theshay, I knew it was my—it was you. Oh, you had beenexpected! Why, when I go down to supper, I’ll be the’ero of the servants’ ’all: the ’ole ofthe staff is that curious!’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘I hope you may be able togive a fair account of me—sober, steady, industrious,good-tempered, and with a first-rate character from my lastplace?’

He laughed an embarrassed laugh. ‘Your hair curlsbeautiful,’ he said, by way of changing the subject.‘The Viscount’s the boy for curls, though; and therichness of it is, Mr. Powl tells me his don’t curl no morethan that much twine—by nature. Gettin’ old,the Viscount is. He ’ave gone the pace,’aven’t ’e, sir?’

‘The fact is,’ said I, ‘that I know verylittle about him. Our family has been much divided, and Ihave been a soldier from a child.’

‘A soldier, Mr. Anne, sir?’ cried Rowley, with asudden feverish animation. ‘Was you everwounded?’

It is contrary to my principles to discourage admiration formyself; and, slipping back the shoulder of the dressing-gown, Isilently exhibited the scar which I had received in EdinburghCastle. He looked at it with awe.

‘Ah, well!’ he continued, ‘there’swhere the difference comes in! It’s in thetraining. The other Viscount have been horse-racing, anddicing, and carrying on all his life. All right enough, nodoubt; but what I do say is, that it don’t lead tonothink. Whereas—’

‘Whereas Mr. Rowley’s?’ I put in.

‘My Viscount?’ said he. ‘Well, sir, Idid say it; and now that I’ve seen you, I say itagain!’

I could not refrain from smiling at this outburst, and therascal caught me in the mirror and smiled to me again.

‘I’d say it again, Mr. Hanne,’ hesaid. ‘I know which side my bread’sbuttered. I know when a gen’leman’s agen’leman. Mr. Powl can go to Putney with hisone! Beg your pardon, Mr. Anne, for being sofamiliar,’ said he, blushing suddenly scarlet.‘I was especially warned against it by Mr. Powl.’

‘Discipline before all,’ said I.‘Follow your front-rank man.

With that, we began to turn our attention to theclothes. I was amazed to find them fit so well: notà la diable, in the haphazard manner of asoldier’s uniform or a ready-made suit; but with nicety, asa trained artist might rejoice to make them for a favouritesubject.

‘’Tis extraordinary,’ cried I: ‘thesethings fit me perfectly.’

‘Indeed, Mr. Anne, you two be very much of ashape,’ said Rowley.

‘Who? What two?’ said I.

‘The Viscount,’ he said.

‘Damnation! Have I the man’s clothes on me,too?’ cried I.

But Rowley hastened to reassure me. On the first word ofmy coming, the Count had put the matter of my wardrobe in thehands of his own and my cousin’s tailors; and on the rumourof our resemblance, my clothes had been made to Alain’smeasure.

‘But they were all made for you express, Mr. Anne.You may be certain the Count would never do nothing by’alf: fires kep’ burning; the finest of clothesordered, I’m sure, and a body-servant being traineda-purpose.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘it’s a good fire, anda good set-out of clothes; and what a valet, Mr. Rowley!And there’s one thing to be said for my cousin—I meanfor Mr. Powl’s Viscount—he has a very fairfigure.’

‘Oh, don’t you be took in, Mr. Anne,’ quoththe faithless Rowley: ‘he has to be hyked into a pair ofstays to get them things on!’

‘Come, come, Mr. Rowley,’ said I, ‘this istelling tales out of school! Do not you be deceived.The greatest men of antiquity, including Caesar and Hannibal andPope Joan, may have been very glad, at my time of life orAlain’s, to follow his example. ’Tis amisfortune common to all; and really,’ said I, bowing tomyself before the mirror like one who should dance the minuet,‘when the result is so successful as this, who would doanything but applaud?’

My toilet concluded, I marched on to fresh surprises. Mychamber, my new valet and my new clothes had been beyond hope:the dinner, the soup, the whole bill of fare was a revelation ofthe powers there are in man. I had not supposed it lay inthe genius of any cook to create, out of common beef and mutton,things so different and dainty. The wine was of a piece,the doctor a most agreeable companion; nor could I helpreflecting on the prospect that all this wealth, comfort andhandsome profusion might still very possibly become mine.Here were a change indeed, from the common soldier and the campkettle, the prisoner and his prison rations, the fugitive and thehorrors of the covered cart!


The doctor had scarce finished his meal before he hastenedwith an apology to attend upon his patient; and almostimmediately after I was myself summoned and ushered up the greatstaircase and along interminable corridors to the bedside of mygreat-uncle the Count. You are to think that up to thepresent moment I had not set eyes on this formidable personage,only on the evidences of his wealth and kindness. You areto think besides that I had heard him miscalled and abused frommy earliest childhood up. The first of theémigrés could never expect a good word inthe society in which my father moved. Even yet the reportsI received were of a doubtful nature; even Romaine had drawn ofhim no very amiable portrait; and as I was ushered into the room,it was a critical eye that I cast on my great-uncle. He laypropped on pillows in a little cot no greater than a camp-bed,not visibly breathing. He was about eighty years of age,and looked it; not that his face was much lined, but all theblood and colour seemed to have faded from his body, and even hiseyes, which last he kept usually closed as though the lightdistressed him. There was an unspeakable degree of slynessin his expression, which kept me ill at ease; he seemed to liethere with his arms folded, like a spider waiting for prey.His speech was very deliberate and courteous, but scarce louderthan a sigh.

‘I bid you welcome, Monsieur le VicomteAnne,’ said he, looking at me hard with his pale eyes,but not moving on his pillows. ‘I have sent for you,and I thank you for the obliging expedition you have shown.It is my misfortune that I cannot rise to receive you. Itrust you have been reasonably well entertained?’

Monsieur mon oncle,’ I said, bowing verylow, ‘I am come at the summons of the head of myfamily.’

‘It is well,’ he said. ‘Beseated. I should be glad to hear some news—if thatcan be called news that is already twenty years old—of howI have the pleasure to see you here.’

By the coldness of his address, not more than by the nature ofthe times that he bade me recall, I was plunged inmelancholy. I felt myself surrounded as with deserts offriendlessness, and the delight of my welcome was turned to ashesin my mouth.

‘That is soon told, monseigneur,’ saidI. ‘I understand that I need tell you nothing of theend of my unhappy parents? It is only the story of the lostdog.’

‘You are right. I am sufficiently informed of thatdeplorable affair; it is painful to me. My nephew, yourfather, was a man who would not be advised,’ said he.‘Tell me, if you please, simply of yourself.’

‘I am afraid I must run the risk of harrowing yoursensibility in the beginning,’ said I, with a bitter smile,‘because my story begins at the foot of theguillotine. When the list came out that night, and her namewas there, I was already old enough, not in years but in sadexperience, to understand the extent of my misfortune.She—’ I paused. ‘Enough that shearranged with a friend, Madame de Chasserades, that she shouldtake charge of me, and by the favour of our jailers I wassuffered to remain in the shelter of the Abbaye.That was my only refuge; there was no corner of France that Icould rest the sole of my foot upon except the prison.Monsieur le Comte, you are as well aware as I can be what kind ofa life that was, and how swiftly death smote in thatsociety. I did not wait long before the name of Madame deChasserades succeeded to that of my mother on the list. Shepassed me on to Madame de Noytot; she, in her turn, toMademoiselle de Braye; and there were others. I was the onething permanent; they were all transient as clouds; a day or twoof their care, and then came the last farewelland—somewhere far off in that roaring Paris that surroundedus—the bloody scene. I was the cherished one, thelast comfort, of these dying women. I have been in pitchedfights, my lord, and I never knew such courage. It was alldone smiling, in the tone of good society; belle maman wasthe name I was taught to give to each; and for a day or two thenew “pretty mamma” would make much of me, show meoff, teach me the minuet, and to say my prayers; and then, with atender embrace, would go the way of her predecessors,smiling. There were some that wept too. There was achildhood! All the time Monsieur de Culemberg kept his eyeon me, and would have had me out of the Abbaye and in hisown protection, but my “pretty mammas” one afteranother resisted the idea. Where could I be safer? theyargued; and what was to become of them without the darling of theprison? Well, it was soon shown how safe I was! Thedreadful day of the massacre came; the prison was overrun; nonepaid attention to me, not even the last of my “prettymammas,” for she had met another fate. I waswandering distracted, when I was found by some one in theinterests of Monsieur de Culemberg. I understand he wassent on purpose; I believe, in order to reach the interior of theprison, he had set his hand to nameless barbarities: such was theprice paid for my worthless, whimpering little life! Hegave me his hand; it was wet, and mine was reddened; he led meunresisting. I remember but the one circ*mstance of myflight—it was my last view of my last pretty mamma.Shall I describe it to you?’ I asked the Count, with asudden fierceness.

‘Avoid unpleasant details,’ observed mygreat-uncle gently.

At these words a sudden peace fell upon me. I had beenangry with the man before; I had not sought to spare him; andnow, in a moment, I saw that there was nothing to spare.Whether from natural heartlessness or extreme old age, the soulwas not at home; and my benefactor, who had kept the fire lit inmy room for a month past—my only relative except Alain,whom I knew already to be a hired spy—had trodden out thelast sparks of hope and interest.

‘Certainly,’ said I; ‘and, indeed, the dayfor them is nearly over. I was taken to Monsieur deCulemberg’s,—I presume, sir, that you know the Abbede Culemberg?’

He indicated assent without opening his eyes.

‘He was a very brave and a very learnedman—’

‘And a very holy one,’ said my uncle civilly.

‘And a very holy one, as you observe,’ Icontinued. ‘He did an infinity of good, and throughall the Terror kept himself from the guillotine. He broughtme up, and gave me such education as I have. It was in hishouse in the country at Dammarie, near Melun, that I made theacquaintance of your agent, Mr. Vicary, who lay there in hiding,only to fall a victim at the last to a gang ofchauffeurs.’

‘That poor Mr. Vicary!’ observed my uncle.‘He had been many times in my interests to France, and thiswas his first failure. Quel charmant homme,n’est-ce pas?’

‘Infinitely so,’ said I. ‘But I wouldnot willingly detain you any further with a story, the details ofwhich it must naturally be more or less unpleasant for you tohear. Suffice it that, by M. de Culemberg’s ownadvice, I said farewell at eighteen to that kind preceptor andhis books, and entered the service of France; and have since thencarried arms in such a manner as not to disgrace myfamily.’

‘You narrate well; vous aves la voixchaude,’ said my uncle, turning on his pillows as if tostudy me. ‘I have a very good account of you byMonsieur de Mauseant, whom you helped in Spain. And you hadsome education from the Abbe de Culemberg, a man of a goodhouse? Yes, you will do very well. You have a goodmanner and a handsome person, which hurts nothing. We areall handsome in the family; even I myself, I have had mysuccesses, the memories of which still charm me. It is myintention, my nephew, to make of you my heir. I am not verywell content with my other nephew, Monsieur le Vicomte: he hasnot been respectful, which is the flattery due to age. Andthere are other matters.’

I was half tempted to throw back in his face that inheritanceso coldly offered. At the same time I had to consider thathe was an old man, and, after all, my relation; and that I was apoor one, in considerable straits, with a hope at heart whichthat inheritance might yet enable me to realise. Nor couldI forget that, however icy his manners, he had behaved to me fromthe first with the extreme of liberality and—I was about towrite, kindness, but the word, in that connection, would notcome. I really owed the man some measure of gratitude,which it would be an ill manner to repay if I were to insult himon his deathbed.

‘Your will, monsieur, must ever be my rule,’ saidI, bowing.

‘You have wit, monsieur mon neveu,’ saidhe, ‘the best wit—the wit of silence. Manymight have deafened me with their gratitude.Gratitude!’ he repeated, with a peculiar intonation, andlay and smiled to himself. ‘But to approach what ismore important. As a prisoner of war, will it be possiblefor you to be served heir to English estates? I have noidea: long as I have dwelt in England, I have never studied whatthey call their laws. On the other hand, how if Romaineshould come too late? I have two pieces of business to betransacted—to die, and to make my will; and, howeverdesirous I may be to serve you, I cannot postpone the first infavour of the second beyond a very few hours.’

‘Well, sir, I must then contrive to be doing as I didbefore,’ said I.

‘Not so,’ said the Count. ‘I have analternative. I have just drawn my balance at mybanker’s, a considerable sum, and I am now to place it inyour hands. It will be so much for you and so muchless—’ he paused, and smiled with an air of malignitythat surprised me. ‘But it is necessary it should bedone before witnesses. Monsieur le Vicomte is of aparticular disposition, and an unwitnessed donation may veryeasily be twisted into a theft.’

He touched a bell, which was answered by a man having theappearance of a confidential valet. To him he gave akey.

‘Bring me the despatch-box that came yesterday, LaFerriere,’ said he. ‘You will at the same timepresent my compliments to Dr. Hunter and M. l’Abbe, andrequest them to step for a few moments to my room.’

The despatch-box proved to be rather a bulky piece of baggage,covered with Russia leather. Before the doctor and anexcellent old smiling priest it was passed over into my handswith a very clear statement of the disposer’s wishes;immediately after which, though the witnesses remained behind todraw up and sign a joint note of the transaction, Monsieur deKéroual dismissed me to my own room, La Ferriere followingwith the invaluable box.

At my chamber door I took it from him with thanks, and enteredalone. Everything had been already disposed for the night,the curtains drawn and the fire trimmed; and Rowley was stillbusy with my bedclothes. He turned round as I entered witha look of welcome that did my heart good. Indeed, I hadnever a much greater need of human sympathy, however trivial,than at that moment when I held a fortune in my arms. In myuncle’s room I had breathed the very atmosphere ofdisenchantment. He had gorged my pockets; he had starvedevery dignified or affectionate sentiment of a man. I hadreceived so chilling an impression of age and experience that themere look of youth drew me to confide in Rowley: he was only aboy, his heart must beat yet, he must still retain some innocenceand natural feelings, he could blurt out follies with his mouth,he was not a machine to utter perfect speech! At the sametime, I was beginning to outgrow the painful impressions of myinterview; my spirits were beginning to revive; and at the jolly,empty looks of Mr. Rowley, as he ran forward to relieve me of thebox, St. Ives became himself again.

‘Now, Rowley, don’t be in a hurry,’ saidI. ‘This is a momentous juncture. Man and boy,you have been in my service about three hours. You mustalready have observed that I am a gentleman of a somewhat morosedisposition, and there is nothing that I more dislike than thesmallest appearance of familiarity. Mr. Pole or Mr. Powl,probably in the spirit of prophecy, warned you against thisdanger.’

‘Yes, Mr. Anne,’ said Rowley blankly.

‘Now there has just arisen one of those rare cases, inwhich I am willing to depart from my principles. My unclehas given me a box—what you would call a Christmasbox. I don’t know what’s in it, and no more doyou: perhaps I am an April fool, or perhaps I am alreadyenormously wealthy; there might be five hundred pounds in thisapparently harmless receptacle!’

‘Lord, Mr. Anne!’ cried Rowley.

‘Now, Rowley, hold up your right hand and repeat thewords of the oath after me,’ said I, laying thedespatch-box on the table. ‘Strike me blue if I everdisclose to Mr. Powl, or Mr. Powl’s Viscount, or anythingthat is Mr. Powl’s, not to mention Mr. Dawson and thedoctor, the treasures of the following despatch-box; and strikeme sky-blue scarlet if I do not continually maintain, uphold,love, honour and obey, serve, and follow to the four corners ofthe earth and the waters that are under the earth, thehereinafter before-mentioned (only that I find I have neglectedto mention him) Viscount Anne de Kéroual de St.-Yves,commonly known as Mr. Rowley’s Viscount. So beit. Amen.’

He took the oath with the same exaggerated seriousness as Igave it to him.

‘Now,’ said I. ‘Here is the key foryou; I will hold the lid with both hands in themeanwhile.’ He turned the key. ‘Bring upall the candles in the room, and range them along-side.What is it to be? A live gorgon, a Jack-in-the-box, or aspring that fires a pistol? On your knees, sir, before theprodigy!’

So saying, I turned the despatch-box upside down upon thetable. At sight of the heap of bank paper and gold that layin front of us, between the candles, or rolled upon the flooralongside, I stood astonished.

‘O Lord!’ cried Mr. Rowley; ‘oh Lordy,Lordy, Lord!’ and he scrambled after the fallenguineas. ‘O my, Mr. Anne! what a sight o’money! Why, it’s like a blessed story-book.It’s like the Forty Thieves.’

‘Now Rowley, let’s be cool, let’s bebusinesslike,’ said I. ‘Riches are deceitful,particularly when you haven’t counted them; and the firstthing we have to do is to arrive at the amount of my—let mesay, modest competency. If I’m not mistaken, I haveenough here to keep you in gold buttons all the rest of yourlife. You collect the gold, and I’ll take thepaper.’

Accordingly, down we sat together on the hearthrug, and forsome time there was no sound but the creasing of bills and thejingling of guineas, broken occasionally by the exultingexclamations of Rowley. The arithmetical operation on whichwe were embarked took long, and it might have been tedious toothers; not to me nor to my helper.

‘Ten thousand pounds!’ I announced at last.

‘Ten thousand!’ echoed Mr. Rowley.

And we gazed upon each other.

The greatness of this fortune took my breath away. Withthat sum in my hands, I need fear no enemies. People arearrested, in nine cases out of ten, not because the police areastute, but because they themselves run short of money; and I hadhere before me in the despatch-box a succession of devices anddisguises that insured my liberty. Not only so; but, as Ifelt with a sudden and overpowering thrill, with ten thousandpounds in my hands I was become an eligible suitor. Whatadvances I had made in the past, as a private soldier in amilitary prison, or a fugitive by the wayside, could only bequalified or, indeed, excused as acts of desperation. Andnow, I might come in by the front door; I might approach thedragon with a lawyer at my elbow, and rich settlements tooffer. The poor French prisoner, Champdivers, might be in aperpetual danger of arrest; but the rich travelling Englishman,St.-Ives, in his post-chaise, with his despatch-box by his side,could smile at fate and laugh at locksmiths. I repeated theproverb, exulting, Love laughs at locksmiths! In amoment, by the mere coming of this money, my love had becomepossible—it had come near, it was under my hand—andit may be by one of the curiosities of human nature, but itburned that instant brighter.

‘Rowley,’ said I, ‘your Viscount is a mademan.’

‘Why, we both are, sir,’ said Rowley.

‘Yes, both,’ said I; ‘and you shall dance atthe wedding;’ and I flung at his head a bundle of banknotes, and had just followed it up with a handful of guineas,when the door opened, and Mr. Romaine appeared upon thethreshold.


Feeling very much of a fool to be thus taken by surprise, Iscrambled to my feet and hastened to make my visitorwelcome. He did not refuse me his hand; but he gave it witha coldness and distance for which I was quite unprepared, and hiscountenance, as he looked on me, was marked in a strong degreewith concern and severity.

‘So, sir, I find you here?’ said he, in tones oflittle encouragement. ‘Is that you, George? Youcan run away; I have business with your master.’

He showed Rowley out, and locked the door behind him.Then he sat down in an armchair on one side of the fire, andlooked at me with uncompromising sternness.

‘I am hesitating how to begin,’ said he.‘In this singular labyrinth of blunders and difficultiesthat you have prepared for us, I am positively hesitating whereto begin. It will perhaps be best that you should read,first of all, this paragraph.’ And he handed over tome a newspaper.

The paragraph in question was brief. It announced therecapture of one of the prisoners recently escaped from EdinburghCastle; gave his name, Clausel, and added that he had enteredinto the particulars of the recent revolting murder in theCastle, and denounced the murderer:—

‘It is a common soldier called Champdivers,who had himself escaped, and is in all probability involved inthe common fate of his comrades. In spite of the activityalong all the Forth and the East Coast, nothing has yet been seenof the sloop which these desperadoes seized at Grangemouth, andit is now almost certain that they have found a waterygrave.’

At the reading of this paragraph, my heart turned over.In a moment I saw my castle in the air ruined; myself changedfrom a mere military fugitive into a hunted murderer, fleeingfrom the gallows; my love, which had a moment since appeared sonear to me, blotted from the field of possibility. Despair,which was my first sentiment, did not, however, endure for morethan a moment. I saw that my companions had indeedsucceeded in their unlikely design; and that I was supposed tohave accompanied and perished along with them byshipwreck—a most probable ending to their enterprise.If they thought me at the bottom of the North Sea, I need notfear much vigilance on the streets of Edinburgh.Champdivers was wanted: what was to connect him with St.Ives? Major Chevenix would recognise me if he met me; thatwas beyond bargaining: he had seen me so often, his interest hadbeen kindled to so high a point, that I could hope to deceive himby no stratagem of disguise. Well, even so; he would have acompetition of testimony before him: he knew Clausel, he knew me,and I was sure he would decide for honour. At the same timethe image of Flora shot up in my mind’s eye with such aradiancy as fairly overwhelmed all other considerations; theblood sprang to every corner of my body, and I vowed I would seeand win her, if it cost my neck.

‘Very annoying, no doubt,’ said I, as I returnedthe paper to Mr. Romaine.

‘Is annoying your word for it?’ said he.

‘Exasperating, if you like,’ I admitted.

‘And true?’ he inquired.

‘Well, true in a sense,’ said I. ‘Butperhaps I had better answer that question by putting you inpossession of the facts?’

‘I think so, indeed,’ said he.

I narrated to him as much as seemed necessary of the quarrel,the duel, the death of Goguelat, and the character ofClausel. He heard me through in a forbidding silence, nordid he at all betray the nature of his sentiments, except that,at the episode of the scissors, I could observe his mulberry faceto turn three shades paler.

‘I suppose I may believe you?’ said he, when I haddone.

‘Or else conclude this interview,’ said I.

‘Can you not understand that we are here discussingmatters of the gravest import? Can you not understand thatI feel myself weighed with a load of responsibility on youraccount—that you should take this occasion to air yourfire-eating manners against your own attorney? There areserious hours in life, Mr. Anne,’ he said severely.‘A capital charge, and that of a very brutal character andwith singularly unpleasant details; the presence of the manClausel, who (according to your account of it) is actuated bysentiments of real malignity, and prepared to swear black white;all the other witnesses scattered and perhaps drowned at sea; thenatural prejudice against a Frenchman and a runaway prisoner:this makes a serious total for your lawyer to consider, and is byno means lessened by the incurable folly and levity of your owndisposition.’

‘I beg your pardon!’ said I.

‘Oh, my expressions have been selected with scrupulousaccuracy,’ he replied. ‘How did I find you,sir, when I came to announce this catastrophe? You weresitting on the hearthrug playing, like a silly baby, with aservant, were you not, and the floor all scattered with gold andbank paper? There was a tableau for you! It was I whocame, and you were lucky in that. It might have been anyone—your cousin as well as another.’

‘You have me there, sir,’ I admitted.‘I had neglected all precautions, and you do right to beangry. Apropos, Mr. Romaine, how did you comeyourself, and how long have you been in the house?’ Iadded, surprised, on the retrospect, not to have heard himarrive.

‘I drove up in a chaise and pair,’ hereturned. ‘Any one might have heard me. But youwere not listening, I suppose? being so extremely at your ease inthe very house of your enemy, and under a capital charge!And I have been long enough here to do your business foryou. Ah, yes, I did it, God forgive me!—did it beforeI so much as asked you the explanation of the paragraph.For some time back the will has been prepared; now it is signed;and your uncle has heard nothing of your recent piece ofactivity. Why? Well, I had no fancy to bother him onhis death-bed: you might be innocent; and at bottom I preferredthe murderer to the spy.’

No doubt of it but the man played a friendly part; no doubtalso that, in his ill-temper and anxiety, he expressed himselfunpalatably.

‘You will perhaps find me over delicate,’ saidI. ‘There is a word you employed—’

‘I employ the words of my brief, sir,’ he cried,striking with his hand on the newspaper. ‘It is therein six letters. And do not be so certain—you have notstood your trial yet. It is an ugly affair, a fishybusiness. It is highly disagreeable. I would give myhand off—I mean I would give a hundred pound down, to havenothing to do with it. And, situated as we are, we must atonce take action. There is here no choice. You mustat once quit this country, and get to France, or Holland, or,indeed, to Madagascar.’

‘There may be two words to that,’ said I.

‘Not so much as one syllable!’ he retorted.‘Here is no room for argument. The case is nakedlyplain. In the disgusting position in which you have foundmeans to place yourself, all that is to be hoped for isdelay. A time may come when we shall be able to dobetter. It cannot be now: now it would be thegibbet.’

‘You labour under a false impression, Mr.Romaine,’ said I. ‘I have no impatience tofigure in the dock. I am even as anxious as yourself topostpone my first appearance there. On the other hand, Ihave not the slightest intention of leaving this country, where Iplease myself extremely. I have a good address, a readytongue, an English accent that passes, and, thanks to thegenerosity of my uncle, as much money as I want. It wouldbe hard indeed if, with all these advantages, Mr. St. Ives shouldnot be able to live quietly in a private lodging, while theauthorities amuse themselves by looking for Champdivers.You forget, there is no connection between these twopersonages.’

‘And you forget your cousin,’ retortedRomaine. ‘There is the link. There is thetongue of the buckle. He knows you areChampdivers.’ He put up his hand as if tolisten. ‘And, for a wager, here he is himself!’he exclaimed.

As when a tailor takes a piece of goods upon his counter, andrends it across, there came to our ears from the avenue the longtearing sound of a chaise and four approaching at the top speedof the horses. And, looking out between the curtains, webeheld the lamps skimming on the smooth ascent.

‘Ay,’ said Romaine, wiping the window-pane that hemight see more clearly. ‘Ay, that is he by thedriving! So he squanders money along the king’shighway, the triple idiot! gorging every man he meets with goldfor the pleasure of arriving—where? Ah, yes, wherebut a debtor’s jail, if not a criminal prison!’

‘Is he that kind of a man?’ I said, staring onthese lamps as though I could decipher in them the secret of mycousin’s character.

‘You will find him a dangerous kind,’ answered thelawyer. ‘For you, these are the lights on a leeshore! I find I fall in a muse when I consider of him; whata formidable being he once was, and what a personable! and hownear he draws to the moment that must break him utterly! we noneof us like him here; we hate him, rather; and yet I have asense—I don’t think at my time of life it can bepity—but a reluctance rather, to break anything so big andfigurative, as though he were a big porcelain pot or a bigpicture of high price. Ay, there is what I was waitingfor!’ he cried, as the lights of a second chaise swam insight. ‘It is he beyond a doubt. The first wasthe signature and the next the flourish. Two chaises, thesecond following with the baggage, which is always copious andponderous, and one of his valets: he cannot go a step without avalet.’

‘I hear you repeat the word big,’ said I.‘But it cannot be that he is anything out of the way instature.’

‘No,’ said the attorney. ‘About yourheight, as I guessed for the tailors, and I see nothing wrongwith the result. But, somehow, he commands an atmosphere;he has a spacious manner; and he has kept up, all through life,such a volume of racket about his personality, with his chaisesand his racers and his dicings, and I know not what—thatsomehow he imposes! It seems, when the farce is done, andhe locked in Fleet prison—and nobody left but Buonaparteand Lord Wellington and the Hetman Platoff to make a workabout—the world will be in a comparison quitetranquil. But this is beside the mark,’ he added,with an effort, turning again from the window. ‘Weare now under fire, Mr. Anne, as you soldiers would say, and itis high time we should prepare to go into action. He mustnot see you; that would be fatal. All that he knows atpresent is that you resemble him, and that is much more thanenough. If it were possible, it would be well he should notknow you were in the house.’

‘Quite impossible, depend upon it,’ said I.‘Some of the servants are directly in his interests,perhaps in his pay: Dawson, for an example.’

‘My own idea!’ cried Romaine. ‘And atleast,’ he added, as the first of the chaises drew up witha dash in front of the portico, ‘it is now too late.Here he is.’

We stood listening, with a strange anxiety, to the variousnoises that awoke in the silent house: the sound of doors openingand closing, the sound of feet near at hand and fartheroff. It was plain the arrival of my cousin was a matter ofmoment, almost of parade, to the household. And suddenly,out of this confused and distant bustle, a rapid and light treadbecame distinguishable. We heard it come upstairs, drawnear along the corridor, pause at the door, and a stealthy andhasty rapping succeeded.

‘Mr. Anne—Mr. Anne, sir! Let me in!’said the voice of Rowley.

We admitted the lad, and locked the door again behind him.

‘It’s him, sir,’ he panted.‘He’ve come.’

‘You mean the Viscount?’ said I. ‘Sowe supposed. But come, Rowley—out with the rest ofit! You have more to tell us, or your face belies you!’

‘Mr. Anne, I do,’ he said. ‘Mr.Romaine, sir, you’re a friend of his, ain’tyou?’

‘Yes, George, I am a friend of his,’ said Romaine,and, to my great surprise, laid his hand upon my shoulder.

‘Well, it’s this way,’ saidRowley—‘Mr. Powl have been at me! It’s toplay the spy! I thought he was at it from the first!From the first I see what he was after—coming round andround, and hinting things! But to-night he outs with itplump! I’m to let him hear all what you’re todo beforehand, he says; and he gave me this for anarnest’—holding up half a guinea; ‘and I tookit, so I did! Strike me sky-blue scarlet?’ says he,adducing the words of the mock oath; and he looked askance at meas he did so.

I saw that he had forgotten himself, and that he knewit. The expression of his eye changed almost in the passingof the glance from the significant to the appealing—fromthe look of an accomplice to that of a culprit; and from thatmoment he became the model of a well-drilled valet.

‘Sky-blue scarlet?’ repeated the lawyer.‘Is the fool delirious?’

‘No,’ said I; ‘he is only reminding me ofsomething.’

‘Well—and I believe the fellow will befaithful,’ said Romaine. ‘So you are a friendof Mr. Anne’s’ too?’ he added to Rowley.

‘If you please, sir,’ said Rowley.

‘’Tis something sudden,’ observed Romaine;‘but it may be genuine enough. I believe him to behonest. He comes of honest people. Well, GeorgeRowley, you might embrace some early opportunity to earn thathalf-guinea, by telling Mr. Powl that your master will not leavehere till noon to-morrow, if he go even then. Tell himthere are a hundred things to be done here, and a hundred morethat can only be done properly at my office in Holborn.Come to think of it—we had better see to that first ofall,’ he went on, unlocking the door. ‘Get holdof Powl, and see. And be quick back, and clear me up thismess.’

Mr. Rowley was no sooner gone than the lawyer took a pinch ofsnuff, and regarded me with somewhat of a more genialexpression.

‘Sir,’ said he, ‘it is very fortunate foryou that your face is so strong a letter of recommendation.Here am I, a tough old practitioner, mixing myself up with yourvery distressing business; and here is this farmer’s lad,who has the wit to take a bribe and the loyalty to come and tellyou of it—all, I take it, on the strength of yourappearance. I wish I could imagine how it would impress ajury!’ says he.

‘And how it would affect the hangman, sir?’ Iasked

Absit omen!’ said Mr. Romainedevoutly.

We were just so far in our talk, when I heard a sound thatbrought my heart into my mouth: the sound of some one slylytrying the handle of the door. It had been preceded by noaudible footstep. Since the departure of Rowley our wing ofthe house had been entirely silent. And we had every rightto suppose ourselves alone, and to conclude that the new-comer,whoever he might be, was come on a clandestine, if not a hostile,errand.

‘Who is there?’ asked Romaine.

‘It’s only me, sir,’ said the soft voice ofDawson. ‘It’s the Viscount, sir. He isvery desirous to speak with you on business.’

‘Tell him I shall come shortly, Dawson,’ said thelawyer. ‘I am at present engaged.’

‘Thank you, sir!’ said Dawson.

And we heard his feet draw off slowly along the corridor.

‘Yes,’ said Mr. Romaine, speaking low, andmaintaining the attitude of one intently listening, ‘thereis another foot. I cannot be deceived!’

‘I think there was indeed!’ said I.‘And what troubles me—I am not sure that the otherhas gone entirely away. By the time it got the length ofthe head of the stair the tread was plainly single.’

‘Ahem—blockaded?’ asked the lawyer.

‘A siege en règle!’ I exclaimed.

‘Let us come farther from the door,’ said Romaine,‘and reconsider this damnable position. Withoutdoubt, Alain was this moment at the door. He hoped to enterand get a view of you, as if by accident. Baffled in this,has he stayed himself, or has he planted Dawson here by way ofsentinel?’

‘Himself, beyond a doubt,’ said I.‘And yet to what end? He cannot think to pass thenight there!’

‘If it were only possible to pay no heed!’ saidMr. Romaine. ‘But this is the accursed drawback ofyour position. We can do nothing openly. I mustsmuggle you out of this room and out of this house like seizablegoods; and how am I to set about it with a sentinel planted atyour very door?’

‘There is no good in being agitated,’ said I.

‘None at all,’ he acquiesced. ‘And,come to think of it, it is droll enough that I should have beenthat very moment commenting on your personal appearance, whenyour cousin came upon this mission. I was saying, if youremember, that your face was as good or better than a letter ofrecommendation. I wonder if M. Alain would be like the restof us—I wonder what he would think of it?’

Mr. Romaine was sitting in a chair by the fire with his backto the windows, and I was myself kneeling on the hearthrug andbeginning mechanically to pick up the scattered bills, when ahoneyed voice joined suddenly in our conversation.

‘He thinks well of it, Mr. Romaine. He begs tojoin himself to that circle of admirers which you indicate toexist already.’


Never did two human creatures get to their feet with morealacrity than the lawyer and myself. We had locked andbarred the main gates of the citadel; but unhappily we had leftopen the bath-room sally-port; and here we found the voice of thehostile trumpets sounding from within, and all our defences takenin reverse. I took but the time to whisper Mr. Romaine inthe ear: ‘Here is another tableau for you!’ at whichhe looked at me a moment with a kind of pathos, as who shouldsay, ‘Don’t hit a man when he’sdown.’ Then I transferred my eyes to my enemy.

He had his hat on, a little on one side: it was a very tallhat, raked extremely, and had a narrow curling brim. Hishair was all curled out in masses like an Italianmountebank—a most unpardonable fashion. He sported ahuge tippeted overcoat of frieze, such as watchmen wear, only theinside was lined with costly furs, and he kept it half open todisplay the exquisite linen, the many-coloured waistcoat, and theprofuse jewellery of watch-chains and brooches underneath.The leg and the ankle were turned to a miracle. It is outof the question that I should deny the resemblance altogether,since it has been remarked by so many different persons whom Icannot reasonably accuse of a conspiracy. As a matter offact, I saw little of it and confessed to nothing.Certainly he was what some might call handsome, of a pictorial,exuberant style of beauty, all attitude, profile, and impudence:a man whom I could see in fancy parade on the grand stand at arace-meeting or swagger in Piccadilly, staring down the women,and stared at himself with admiration by the coal-porters.Of his frame of mind at that moment his face offered a lively ifan unconscious picture. He was lividly pale, and his lipwas caught up in a smile that could almost be called a snarl, ofa sheer, arid malignity that appalled me and yet put me on mymettle for the encounter. He looked me up and down, thenbowed and took off his hat to me.

‘My cousin, I presume?’ he said.

‘I understand I have that honour,’ I replied.

‘The honour is mine,’ said he, and his voice shookas he said it.

‘I should make you welcome, I believe,’ saidI.

‘Why?’ he inquired. ‘This poor househas been my home for longer than I care to claim. That youshould already take upon yourself the duties of host here is tobe at unnecessary pains. Believe me, that part would bemore becomingly mine. And, by the way, I must not fail tooffer you my little compliment. It is a gratifying surpriseto meet you in the dress of a gentleman, and tosee’—with a circular look upon the scatteredbills—‘that your necessities have already been soliberally relieved.’

I bowed with a smile that was perhaps no less hateful than hisown.

‘There are so many necessities in this world,’said I. ‘Charity has to choose. One getsrelieved, and some other, no less indigent, perhaps indebted,must go wanting.’

‘Malice is an engaging trait,’ said he.

‘And envy, I think?’ was my reply.

He must have felt that he was not getting wholly the better ofthis passage at arms; perhaps even feared that he should losecommand of his temper, which he reined in throughout theinterview as with a red-hot curb, for he flung away from me atthe word, and addressed the lawyer with insulting arrogance.

‘Mr. Romaine,’ he said, ‘since when have youpresumed to give orders in this house?’

‘I am not prepared to admit that I have givenany,’ replied Romaine; ‘certainly none that did notfall in the sphere of my responsibilities.’

‘By whose orders, then, am I denied entrance to myuncle’s room?’ said my cousin.

‘By the doctor’s, sir,’ replied Romaine;‘and I think even you will admit his faculty to givethem.’

‘Have a care, sir,’ cried Alain. ‘Donot be puffed up with your position. It is none so secure,Master Attorney. I should not wonder in the least if youwere struck off the rolls for this night’s work, and thenext I should see of you were when I flung you alms at a pothousedoor to mend your ragged elbows. The doctor’sorders? But I believe I am not mistaken! You haveto-night transacted business with the Count; and this needy younggentleman has enjoyed the privilege of still another interview,in which (as I am pleased to see) his dignity has not preventedhis doing very well for himself. I wonder that you shouldcare to prevaricate with me so idly.’

‘I will confess so much,’ said Mr. Romaine,‘if you call it prevarication. The order in questionemanated from the Count himself. He does not wish to seeyou.’

‘For which I must take the word of Mr. DanielRomaine?’ asked Alain.

‘In default of any better,’ said Romaine.

There was an instantaneous convulsion in my cousin’sface, and I distinctly heard him gnash his teeth at this reply;but, to my surprise, he resumed in tones of almost goodhumour:

‘Come, Mr. Romaine, do not let us be petty!’He drew in a chair and sat down. ‘Understand you havestolen a march upon me. You have introduced your soldier ofNapoleon, and (how, I cannot conceive) he has been apparentlyaccepted with favour. I ask no better proof than the fundswith which I find him literally surrounded—I presume inconsequence of some extravagance of joy at the first sight of somuch money. The odds are so far in your favour, but thematch is not yet won. Questions will arise of undueinfluence, of sequestration, and the like: I have my witnessesready. I tell it you cynically, for you cannot profit bythe knowledge; and, if the worst come to the worst, I have goodhopes of recovering my own and of ruining you.’

‘You do what you please,’ answered Romaine;‘but I give it you for a piece of good advice, you had bestdo nothing in the matter. You will only make yourselfridiculous; you will only squander money, of which you have nonetoo much, and reap public mortification.’

‘Ah, but there you make the common mistake, Mr.Romaine!’ returned Alain. ‘You despise youradversary. Consider, if you please, how very disagreeable Icould make myself, if I chose. Consider the position ofyour protégé—an escapedprisoner! But I play a great game. I condemn suchpetty opportunities.’

At this Romaine and I exchanged a glance of triumph. Itseemed manifest that Alain had as yet received no word ofClausel’s recapture and denunciation. At the samemoment the lawyer, thus relieved of the instancy of his fear,changed his tactics. With a great air of unconcern, hesecured the newspaper, which still lay open before him on thetable.

‘I think, Monsieur Alain, that you labour under someillusion,’ said he. ‘Believe me, this is allbeside the mark. You seem to be pointing to somecompromise. Nothing is further from my views. Yoususpect me of an inclination to trifle with you, to conceal howthings are going. I cannot, on the other hand, be too earlyor too explicit in giving you information which concerns you (Imust say) capitally. Your great-uncle has to-nightcancelled his will, and made a new one in favour of your cousinAnne. Nay, and you shall hear it from his own lips, if youchoose! I will take so much upon me,’ said thelawyer, rising. ‘Follow me, if you please,gentlemen.’

Mr. Romaine led the way out of the room so briskly, and was sobriskly followed by Alain, that I had hard ado to get theremainder of the money replaced and the despatch-box locked, andto overtake them, even by running ere they should be lost in thatmaze of corridors, my uncle’s house. As it was, Iwent with a heart divided; and the thought of my treasure thusleft unprotected, save by a paltry lid and lock that any onemight break or pick open, put me in a perspiration whenever I hadthe time to remember it. The lawyer brought us to a room,begged us to be seated while he should hold a consultation withthe doctor, and, slipping out of another door, left Alain andmyself closeted together.

Truly he had done nothing to ingratiate himself; his everyword had been steeped in unfriendliness, envy, and that contemptwhich (as it is born of anger) it is possible to support withouthumiliation. On my part, I had been little moreconciliating; and yet I began to be sorry for this man, hired spyas I knew him to be. It seemed to me less than decent thathe should have been brought up in the expectation of this greatinheritance, and now, at the eleventh hour, be tumbled forth outof the house door and left to himself, his poverty and hisdebts—those debts of which I had so ungallantly remindedhim so short a time before. And we were scarce left aloneere I made haste to hang out a flag of truce.

‘My cousin,’ said I, ‘trust me, you will notfind me inclined to be your enemy.’

He paused in front of me—for he had not accepted thelawyer’s invitation to be seated, but walked to and fro inthe apartment—took a pinch of snuff, and looked at me whilehe was taking it with an air of much curiosity.

‘Is it even so?’ said he. ‘Am I so farfavoured by fortune as to have your pity? Infinitelyobliged, my cousin Anne! But these sentiments are notalways reciprocal, and I warn you that the day when I set my footon your neck, the spine shall break. Are you acquaintedwith the properties of the spine?’ he asked with aninsolence beyond qualification.

It was too much. ‘I am acquainted also with theproperties of a pair of pistols,’ said I, toising him.

‘No, no, no!’ says he, holding up hisfinger. ‘I will take my revenge how and when Iplease. We are enough of the same family to understand eachother, perhaps; and the reason why I have not had you arrested onyour arrival, why I had not a picket of soldiers in the firstclump of evergreens, to await and prevent your coming—I,who knew all, before whom that pettifogger, Romaine, has beenconspiring in broad daylight to supplant me—is simply this:that I had not made up my mind how I was to take myrevenge.’

At that moment he was interrupted by the tolling of abell. As we stood surprised and listening, it was succeededby the sound of many feet trooping up the stairs and shuffling bythe door of our room. Both, I believe, had a greatcuriosity to set it open, which each, owing to the presence ofthe other, resisted; and we waited instead in silence, andwithout moving, until Romaine returned and bade us to myuncle’s presence.

He led the way by a little crooked passage, which brought usout in the sick-room, and behind the bed. I believe I haveforgotten to remark that the Count’s chamber was ofconsiderable dimensions. We beheld it now crowded with theservants and dependants of the house, from the doctor and thepriest to Mr. Dawson and the housekeeper, from Dawson down toRowley and the last footman in white calves, the last plumpchambermaid in her clean gown and cap, and the last ostler in astable waiscoat. This large congregation of persons (and Iwas surprised to see how large it was) had the appearance, forthe most part, of being ill at ease and heartily bewildered,standing on one foot, gaping like zanies, and those who were inthe corners nudging each other and grinning aside. Myuncle, on the other hand, who was raised higher than I had yetseen him on his pillows, wore an air of really imposinggravity. No sooner had we appeared behind him, than helifted his voice to a good loudness, and addressed theassemblage.

‘I take you all to witness—can you hearme?—I take you all to witness that I recognise as my heirand representative this gentleman, whom most of you see for thefirst time, the Viscount Anne de St.-Yves, my nephew of theyounger line. And I take you to witness at the same timethat, for very good reasons known to myself, I have discarded anddisinherited this other gentleman whom you all know, the Viscountde St.-Yves. I have also to explain the unusual trouble towhich I have put you all—and, since your supper was notover, I fear I may even say annoyance. It has pleased M.Alain to make some threats of disputing my will, and to pretendthat there are among your number certain estimable persons whomay be trusted to swear as he shall direct them. It pleasesme thus to put it out of his power and to stop the mouths of hisfalse witnesses. I am infinitely obliged by yourpoliteness, and I have the honour to wish you all a very goodevening.’

As the servants, still greatly mystified, crowded out of thesickroom door, curtseying, pulling the forelock, scraping withthe foot, and so on, according to their degree, I turned andstole a look at my cousin. He had borne this crushingpublic rebuke without change of countenance. He stood, now,very upright, with folded arms, and looking inscrutably at theroof of the apartment. I could not refuse him at thatmoment the tribute of my admiration. Still more so when,the last of the domestics having filed through the doorway andleft us alone with my great-uncle and the lawyer, he took onestep forward towards the bed, made a dignified reverence, andaddressed the man who had just condemned him to ruin.

‘My lord,’ said he, ‘you are pleased totreat me in a manner which my gratitude, and your state, equallyforbid me to call in question. It will be only necessaryfor me to call your attention to the length of time in which Ihave been taught to regard myself as your heir. In thatposition, I judged it only loyal to permit myself a certain scaleof expenditure. If I am now to be cut off with a shillingas the reward of twenty years of service, I shall be left notonly a beggar, but a bankrupt.’

Whether from the fatigue of his recent exertion, or by awell-inspired ingenuity of hate, my uncle had once more closedhis eyes; nor did he open them now. ‘Not with ashilling,’ he contented himself with replying; and therestole, as he said it, a sort of smile over his face, thatflickered there conspicuously for the least moment of time, andthen faded and left behind the old impenetrable mask of years,cunning, and fatigue. There could be no mistake: my uncleenjoyed the situation as he had enjoyed few things in the lastquarter of a century. The fires of life scarce survived inthat frail body; but hatred, like some immortal quality, wasstill erect and unabated.

Nevertheless my cousin persevered.

‘I speak at a disadvantage,’ he resumed.‘My supplanter, with perhaps more wisdom than delicacy,remains in the room,’ and he cast a glance at me that mighthave withered an oak tree.

I was only too willing to withdraw, and Romaine showed as muchalacrity to make way for my departure. But my uncle was notto be moved. In the same breath of a voice, and stillwithout opening his eyes, he bade me remain.

‘It is well,’ said Alain. ‘I cannotthen go on to remind you of the twenty years that have passedover our heads in England, and the services I may have renderedyou in that time. It would be a position too odious.Your lordship knows me too well to suppose I could stoop to suchignominy. I must leave out all my defence—yourlordship wills it so! I do not know what are my faults; Iknow only my punishment, and it is greater than I have thecourage to face. My uncle, I implore your pity: pardon meso far; do not send me for life into a debtors’jail—a pauper debtor.’

Chat et vieux, pardonnez?’ said myuncle, quoting from La Fontaine; and then, opening a pale-blueeye full on Alain, he delivered with some emphasis:

‘La jeunesse se flatte et croit toutobtenir;
La vieillesse est impitoyable.’

The blood leaped darkly into Alain’s face. Heturned to Romaine and me, and his eyes flashed.

‘It is your turn now,’ he said. ‘Atleast it shall be prison for prison with the twoviscounts.’

‘Not so, Mr. Alain, by your leave,’ saidRomaine. ‘There are a few formalities to beconsidered first.’

But Alain was already striding towards the door.

‘Stop a moment, stop a moment!’ criedRomaine. ‘Remember your own counsel not to despise anadversary.’

Alain turned.

‘If I do not despise I hate you!’ he cried, givinga loose to his passion. ‘Be warned of that, both ofyou.’

‘I understand you to threaten Monsieur le VicomteAnne,’ said the lawyer. ‘Do you know, I wouldnot do that. I am afraid, I am very much afraid, if youwere to do as you propose, you might drive me intoextremes.’

‘You have made me a beggar and a bankrupt,’ saidAlain. What extreme is left?’

‘I scarce like to put a name upon it in thiscompany,’ replied Romaine. ‘But there are worsethings than even bankruptcy, and worse places than adebtors’ jail.’

The words were so significantly said that there went a visiblethrill through Alain; sudden as a sword-stroke, he fell paleagain.

‘I do not understand you,’ said he.

‘O yes, you do,’ returned Romaine. ‘Ibelieve you understand me very well. You must not supposethat all this time, while you were so very busy, others wereentirely idle. You must not fancy, because I am anEnglishman, that I have not the intelligence to pursue aninquiry. Great as is my regard for the honour of yourhouse, M. Alain de St.-Yves, if I hear of you moving directly orindirectly in this matter, I shall do my duty, let it cost whatit will: that is, I shall communicate the real name of theBuonapartist spy who signs his letters Rue Grégoire deTours.’

I confess my heart was already almost altogether on the sideof my insulted and unhappy cousin; and if it had not been before,it must have been so now, so horrid was the shock with which heheard his infamy exposed. Speech was denied him; he carriedhis hand to his neckcloth; he staggered; I thought he must havefallen. I ran to help him, and at that he revived, recoiledbefore me, and stood there with arms stretched forth as if topreserve himself from the outrage of my touch.

‘Hands off!’ he somehow managed to articulate.

‘You will now, I hope,’ pursued the lawyer,without any change of voice, ‘understand the position inwhich you are placed, and how delicately it behoves you toconduct yourself. Your arrest hangs, if I may so expressmyself, by a hair; and as you will be under the perpetualvigilance of myself and my agents, you must look to it narrowlythat you walk straight. Upon the least dubiety, I will takeaction.’ He snuffed, looking critically at thetortured man. ‘And now let me remind you that yourchaise is at the door. This interview is agitating to hislordship—it cannot be agreeable for you—and I suggestthat it need not be further drawn out. It does not enterinto the views of your uncle, the Count, that you should againsleep under this roof.’

As Alain turned and passed without a word or a sign from theapartment, I instantly followed. I suppose I must be atbottom possessed of some humanity; at least, this accumulatedtorture, this slow butchery of a man as by quarters of rock, hadwholly changed my sympathies. At that moment I loathed bothmy uncle and the lawyer for their coldblooded cruelty.

Leaning over the banisters, I was but in time to hear hishasty footsteps in that hall that had been crowded with servantsto honour his coming, and was now left empty against hisfriendless departure. A moment later, and the echoes rang,and the air whistled in my ears, as he slammed the door on hisdeparting footsteps. The fury of the concussion gave me(had one been still wanted) a measure of the turmoil of hispassions. In a sense, I felt with him; I felt how he wouldhave gloried to slam that door on my uncle, the lawyer, myself,and the whole crowd of those who had been witnesses to hishumiliation.


No sooner was the house clear of my cousin than I began toreckon up, ruefully enough, the probable results of what hadpassed. Here were a number of pots broken, and it looked tome as if I should have to pay for all! Here had been thisproud, mad beast goaded and baited both publicly and privately,till he could neither hear nor see nor reason; whereupon the gatehad been set open, and he had been left free to go and contrivewhatever vengeance he might find possible. I could not helpthinking it was a pity that, whenever I myself was inclined to beupon my good behaviour, some friends of mine should alwaysdetermine to play a piece of heroics and cast me for thehero—or the victim—which is very much the same.The first duty of heroics is to be of your own choosing.When they are not that, they are nothing. And I assure you,as I walked back to my own room, I was in no very complaisanthumour: thought my uncle and Mr. Romaine to have playedknuckle-bones with my life and prospects; cursed them for itroundly; had no wish more urgent than to avoid the pair of them;and was quite knocked out of time, as they say in the ring, tofind myself confronted with the lawyer.

He stood on my hearthrug, leaning on the chimney-piece, with agloomy, thoughtful brow, as I was pleased to see, and not in theleast as though he were vain of the late proceedings.

‘Well?’ said I. ‘You have done itnow!’

‘Is he gone?’ he asked.

‘He is gone,’ said I. ‘We shall havethe devil to pay with him when he comes back.’

‘You are right,’ said the lawyer, ‘and verylittle to pay him with but flams and fabrications, liketo-night’s.’

‘To-night’s?’ I repeated.

‘Ay, to-night’s!’ said he.

‘To-night’s what?’ I cried.

‘To-night’s flams and fabrications.’

‘God be good to me, sir,’ said I, ‘have Isomething more to admire in your conduct than ever I hadsuspected? You cannot think how you interest me! Thatit was severe, I knew; I had already chuckled over that.But that it should be false also! In what sense, dearsir?’

I believe I was extremely offensive as I put the question, butthe lawyer paid no heed.

‘False in all senses of the word,’ he repliedseriously. ‘False in the sense that they were nottrue, and false in the sense that they were not real; false inthe sense that I boasted, and in the sense that I lied. Howcan I arrest him? Your uncle burned the papers! Itold you so—but doubtless you have forgotten—the dayI first saw you in Edinburgh Castle. It was an act ofgenerosity; I have seen many of these acts, and alwaysregretted—always regretted! “That shall be hisinheritance,” he said, as the papers burned; he did notmean that it should have proved so rich a one. How rich,time will tell.’

‘I beg your pardon a hundred thousand times, my dearsir, but it strikes me you have the impudence—in thecirc*mstances, I may call it the indecency—to appear castdown?’

‘It is true,’ said he: ‘I am. I amcast down. I am literally cast down. I feel myselfquite helpless against your cousin.’

‘Now, really!’ I asked. ‘Is thisserious? And is it perhaps the reason why you have gorgedthe poor devil with every species of insult? and why you tooksuch surprising pains to supply me with what I had so little needof—another enemy? That you were helpless againstthem? “Here is my last missile,” say you;“my ammunition is quite exhausted: just wait till I get thelast in—it will irritate, it cannot hurt him.There—you see!—he is furious now, and I am quitehelpless. One more prod, another kick: now he is a merelunatic! Stand behind me; I am quite helpless!”Mr. Romaine, I am asking myself as to the background or motive ofthis singular jest, and whether the name of it should not becalled treachery?’

‘I can scarce wonder,’ said he. ‘Intruth it has been a singular business, and we are very fortunateto be out of it so well. Yet it was not treachery: no, no,Mr. Anne, it was not treachery; and if you will do me the favourto listen to me for the inside of a minute, I shall demonstratethe same to you beyond cavil.’ He seemed to wake upto his ordinary briskness. ‘You see the point?’he began. ‘He had not yet read the newspaper, but whocould tell when he might? He might have had that damnedjournal in his pocket, and how should we know? Wewere—I may say, we are—at the mercy of the meresttwopenny accident.’

‘Why, true,’ said I: ‘I had not thought ofthat.’

‘I warrant you,’ cried Romaine, ‘you hadsupposed it was nothing to be the hero of an interesting noticein the journals! You had supposed, as like as not, it was aform of secrecy! But not so in the least. A part ofEngland is already buzzing with the name of Champdivers; a day ortwo more and the mail will have carried it everywhere: sowonderful a machine is this of ours for disseminatingintelligence! Think of it! When my father wasborn—but that is another story. To return: we hadhere the elements of such a combustion as I dread to thinkof—your cousin and the journal. Let him but glance aneye upon that column of print, and where were we? It iseasy to ask; not so easy to answer, my young friend. Andlet me tell you, this sheet is the Viscount’s usualreading. It is my conviction he had it in hispocket.’

‘I beg your pardon, sir,’ said I. ‘Ihave been unjust. I did not appreciate mydanger.’

‘I think you never do,’ said he.

‘But yet surely that public scene—’ Ibegan.

‘It was madness. I quite agree with you,’Mr. Romaine interrupted. ‘But it was youruncle’s orders, Mr. Anne, and what could I do? Tellhim you were the murderer of Goguelat? I thinknot.’

‘No, sure!’ said I. ‘That would buthave been to make the trouble thicker. We were certainly ina very ill posture.’

‘You do not yet appreciate how grave it was,’ hereplied. ‘It was necessary for you that your cousinshould go, and go at once. You yourself had to leaveto-night under cover of darkness, and how could you have donethat with the Viscount in the next room? He must go, then;he must leave without delay. And that was thedifficulty.’

‘Pardon me, Mr. Romaine, but could not my uncle havebidden him go?’ I asked.

‘Why, I see I must tell you that this is not so simpleas it sounds,’ he replied. ‘You say this isyour uncle’s house, and so it is. But to all effectsand purposes it is your cousin’s also. He has roomshere; has had them coming on for thirty years now, and they arefilled with a prodigious accumulation of trash—stays, Idare say, and powder-puffs, and such effeminate idiocy—towhich none could dispute his title, even suppose any one wantedto. We had a perfect right to bid him go, and he had aperfect right to reply, “Yes, I will go, but not without mystays and cravats. I must first get together thenine-hundred-and-ninety-nine chestsfull of insufferable rubbish,that I have spent the last thirty years collecting—and mayvery well spend the next thirty hours a-packing of.”And what should we have said to that?’

‘By way of repartee?’ I asked. ‘Twotall footmen and a pair of crabtree cudgels, Isuggest.’

‘The Lord deliver me from the wisdom of laymen!’cried Romaine. ‘Put myself in the wrong at thebeginning of a lawsuit? No, indeed! There was but onething to do, and I did it, and burned my last cartridge in thedoing of it. I stunned him. And it gave us threehours, by which we should make haste to profit; for if there isone thing sure, it is that he will be up to time again to-morrowin the morning.’

‘Well,’ said I, ‘I own myself anidiot. Well do they say, an old soldier, an oldinnocent! For I guessed nothing of all this.’

‘And, guessing it, have you the same objections to leaveEngland?’ he inquired.

‘The same,’ said I.

‘It is indispensable,’ he objected.

‘And it cannot be,’ I replied. ‘Reasonhas nothing to say in the matter; and I must not let you squanderany of yours. It will be enough to tell you this is anaffair of the heart.’

‘Is it even so?’ quoth Romaine, nodding hishead. ‘And I might have been sure of it. Placethem in a hospital, put them in a jail in yellow overalls, dowhat you will, young Jessamy finds young Jenny. O, have ityour own way; I am too old a hand to argue with young gentlemenwho choose to fancy themselves in love; I have too muchexperience, thank you. Only, be sure that you appreciatewhat you risk: the prison, the dock, the gallows, and thehalter—terribly vulgar circ*mstances, my young friend;grim, sordid, earnest; no poetry in that!’

‘And there I am warned,’ I returned gaily.‘No man could be warned more finely or with a greatereloquence. And I am of the same opinion still. UntilI have again seen that lady, nothing shall induce me to quitGreat Britain. I have besides—’

And here I came to a full stop. It was upon my tongue tohave told him the story of the drovers, but at the first word ofit my voice died in my throat. There might be a limit tothe lawyer’s toleration, I reflected. I had not beenso long in Britain altogether; for the most part of that time Ihad been by the heels in limbo in Edinburgh Castle; and already Ihad confessed to killing one man with a pair of scissors; and nowI was to go on and plead guilty to having settled another with aholly stick! A wave of discretion went over me as cold andas deep as the sea.

‘In short, sir, this is a matter of feeling,’ Iconcluded, ‘and nothing will prevent my going toEdinburgh.’

If I had fired a pistol in his ear he could not have been morestartled.

‘To Edinburgh?’ he repeated.‘Edinburgh? where the very paving-stones knowyou!’

‘Then is the murder out!’ said I.‘But, Mr. Romaine, is there not sometimes safety inboldness? Is it not a common-place of strategy to get wherethe enemy least expects you? And where would he expect meless?’

‘Faith, there is something in that, too!’ criedthe lawyer. ‘Ay, certainly, a great deal inthat. All the witnesses drowned but one, and he safe inprison; you yourself changed beyond recognition—let ushope—and walking the streets of the very town you haveillustrated by your—well, your eccentricity! It isnot badly combined, indeed!’

‘You approve it, then?’ said I.

‘O, approve!’ said he; ‘there is no questionof approval. There is only one course which I couldapprove, and that were to escape to France instanter.’

‘You do not wholly disapprove, at least?’ Isubstituted.

‘Not wholly; and it would not matter if I did,’ hereplied. ‘Go your own way; you are beyondargument. And I am not sure that you will run more dangerby that course than by any other. Give the servants time toget to bed and fall asleep, then take a country cross-road andwalk, as the rhyme has it, like blazes all night. In themorning take a chaise or take the mail at pleasure, and continueyour journey with all the decorum and reserve of which you shallbe found capable.’

‘I am taking the picture in,’ I said.‘Give me time. ’Tis the tout ensemble Imust see: the whole as opposed to the details.’

‘Mountebank!’ he murmured.

‘Yes, I have it now; and I see myself with a servant,and that servant is Rowley,’ said I.

‘So as to have one more link with your uncle?’suggested the lawyer. ‘Very judicious!’

‘And, pardon me, but that is what it is,’ Iexclaimed. ‘Judicious is the word. I am notmaking a deception fit to last for thirty years; I do not found apalace in the living granite for the night. This is ashelter tent—a flying picture—seen, admired, and goneagain in the wink of an eye. What is wanted, in short, is atrompe-l’œil that shall be good enough fortwelve hours at an inn: is it not so?’

‘It is, and the objection holds. Rowley is butanother danger,’ said Romaine.

‘Rowley,’ said I, ‘will pass as a servantfrom a distance—as a creature seen poised on the dicky of abowling chaise. He will pass at hand as a smart, civilfellow one meets in the inn corridor, and looks back at, andasks, and is told, “Gentleman’s servant in Number4.” He will pass, in fact, all round, except with hispersonal friends! My dear sir, pray what do youexpect? Of course if we meet my cousin, or if we meetanybody who took part in the judicious exhibition of thisevening, we are lost; and who’s denying it? To everydisguise, however good and safe, there is always the weak point;you must always take (let us say—and to take a simile fromyour own waistcoat pocket) a snuff box-full of risk.You’ll get it just as small with Rowley as with anybodyelse. And the long and short of it is, the lad’shonest, he likes me, I trust him; he is my servant, ornobody.’

‘He might not accept,’ said Romaine.

‘I bet you a thousand pounds he does!’ criedI. ‘But no matter; all you have to do is to send himout to-night on this cross-country business, and leave the thingto me. I tell you, he will be my servant, and I tell you,he will do well.’

I had crossed the room, and was already overhauling mywardrobe as I spoke.

‘Well,’ concluded the lawyer, with a shrug,‘one risk with another: à la guerre commeà la guerre, as you would say. Let the brat comeand be useful, at least.’ And he was about to ringthe bell, when his eye was caught by my researches in thewardrobe. ‘Do not fall in love with these coats,waistcoats, cravats, and other panoply and accoutrements by whichyou are now surrounded. You must not run the post as adandy. It is not the fashion, even.’

‘You are pleased to be facetious, sir,’ said I;‘and not according to knowledge. These clothes are mylife, they are my disguise; and since I can take but few of them,I were a fool indeed if I selected hastily! Will youunderstand, once and for all, what I am seeking? To beinvisible, is the first point; the second, to be invisible in apost-chaise and with a servant. Can you not perceive thedelicacy of the quest? Nothing must be too coarse, nothingtoo fine; rien de voyant, rien qui détonne;so that I may leave everywhere the inconspicuous image of ahandsome young man of a good fortune travelling in proper style,whom the landlord will forget in twelve hours—and thechambermaid perhaps remember, God bless her! with a sigh.This is the very fine art of dress.’

‘I have practised it with success for fiftyyears,’ said Romaine, with a chuckle. ‘A blacksuit and a clean shirt is my infallible recipe.’

‘You surprise me; I did not think you would beshallow!’ said I, lingering between two coats.‘Pray, Mr. Romaine, have I your head? or did you travelpost and with a smartish servant?’

‘Neither, I admit,’ said he.

‘Which change the whole problem,’ Icontinued. ‘I have to dress for a smartish servantand a Russia leather despatch-box.’ That brought meto a stand. I came over and looked at the box with amoment’s hesitation. ‘Yes,’ Iresumed. ‘Yes, and for the despatch-box! Itlooks moneyed and landed; it means I have a lawyer. It isan invaluable property. But I could have wished it to holdless money. The responsibility is crushing. Should Inot do more wisely to take five hundred pounds, and intrust theremainder with you, Mr. Romaine?’

‘If you are sure you will not want it,’ answeredRomaine.

‘I am far from sure of that,’ cried I.‘In the first place, as a philosopher. This is thefirst time I have been at the head of a large sum, and it isconceivable—who knows himself?—that I may make itfly. In the second place, as a fugitive. Who knowswhat I may need? The whole of it may be inadequate.But I can always write for more.’

‘You do not understand,’ he replied.‘I break off all communication with you here and now.You must give me a power of attorney ere you start to-night, andthen be done with me trenchantly until better days.’

I believe I offered some objection.

‘Think a little for once of me!’ saidRomaine. ‘I must not have seen you beforeto-night. To-night we are to have had our only interview,and you are to have given me the power; and to-night I am to havelost sight of you again—I know not whither, you were uponbusiness, it was none of my affairs to question you! Andthis, you are to remark, in the interests of your own safety muchmore than mine.’

‘I am not even to write to you?’ I said, a littlebewildered.

‘I believe I am cutting the last strand that connectsyou with common sense,’ he replied. ‘But thatis the plain English of it. You are not even to write; andif you did, I would not answer.’

‘A letter, however—’ I began.

‘Listen to me,’ interrupted Romaine.‘So soon as your cousin reads the paragraph, what will hedo? Put the police upon looking into mycorrespondence! So soon as you write to me, in short, youwrite to Bow Street; and if you will take my advice, you willdate that letter from France.’

‘The devil!’ said I, for I began suddenly to seethat this might put me out of the way of my business.

‘What is it now?’ says he.

‘There will be more to be done, then, before we canpart,’ I answered.

‘I give you the whole night,’ said he.‘So long as you are off ere daybreak, I amcontent.’

‘In short, Mr. Romaine,’ said I, ‘I have hadso much benefit of your advice and services that I am loth tosever the connection, and would even ask a substitute. Iwould be obliged for a letter of introduction to one of your owncloth in Edinburgh—an old man for choice, very experienced,very respectable, and very secret. Could you favour me withsuch a letter?’

‘Why, no,’ said he. ‘Certainlynot. I will do no such thing, indeed.’

‘It would be a great favour, sir,’ I pleaded.

‘It would be an unpardonable blunder,’ hereplied. ‘What? Give you a letter ofintroduction? and when the police come, I suppose, I must forgetthe circ*mstance? No, indeed. Talk of it nomore.’

‘You seem to be always in the right,’ saidI. ‘The letter would be out of the question, I quitesee that. But the lawyer’s name might very well havedropped from you in the way of conversation; having heard himmentioned, I might profit by the circ*mstance to introducemyself; and in this way my business would be the better done, andyou not in the least compromised.’

‘What is this business?’ said Romaine.

‘I have not said that I had any,’ I replied.‘It might arise. This is only a possibility that Imust keep in view.’

‘Well,’ said he, with a gesture of the hands,‘I mention Mr. Robbie; and let that be an end ofit!—Or wait!’ he added, ‘I have it. Hereis something that will serve you for an introduction, and cannotcompromise me.’ And he wrote his name and theEdinburgh lawyer’s address on a piece of card and tossed itto me.


What with packing, signing papers, and partaking of anexcellent cold supper in the lawyer’s room, it was past twoin the morning before we were ready for the road. Romainehimself let us out of a window in a part of the house known toRowley: it appears it served as a kind of postern to theservants’ hall, by which (when they were in the mind for aclandestine evening) they would come regularly in and out; and Iremember very well the vinegar aspect of the lawyer on thereceipt of this piece of information—how he pursed hislips, jutted his eyebrows, and kept repeating, ‘This mustbe seen to, indeed! this shall be barred to-morrow in themorning!’ In this preoccupation, I believe he tookleave of me without observing it; our things were handed out; weheard the window shut behind us; and became instantly lost in ahorrid intricacy of blackness and the shadow of woods.

A little wet snow kept sleepily falling, pausing, and fallingagain; it seemed perpetually beginning to snow and perpetuallyleaving off; and the darkness was intense. Time and againwe walked into trees; time and again found ourselves adrift amonggarden borders or stuck like a ram in the thicket. Rowleyhad possessed himself of the matches, and he was neither to beterrified nor softened. ‘No, I will not, Mr. Anne,sir,’ he would reply. ‘You know he tell me towait till we were over the ’ill. It’s only alittle way now. Why, and I thought you was a soldier,too!’ I was at least a very glad soldier when myvalet consented at last to kindle a thieves’ match.From this, we easily lit the lantern; and thenceforward, througha labyrinth of woodland paths, were conducted by its uneasyglimmer. Both booted and great-coated, with tall hats muchof a shape, and laden with booty in the form of a despatch-box, acase of pistols, and two plump valises, I thought we had verymuch the look of a pair of brothers returning from the sack ofAmersham Place.

We issued at last upon a country by-road where we might walkabreast and without precaution. It was nine miles toAylesbury, our immediate destination; by a watch, which formedpart of my new outfit, it should be about half-past three in themorning; and as we did not choose to arrive before daylight, timecould not be said to press. I gave the order to march atease.

‘Now, Rowley,’ said I, ‘so far sogood. You have come, in the most obliging manner in theworld, to carry these valises. The question is, whatnext? What are we to do at Aylesbury? or, moreparticularly, what are you? Thence, I go on ajourney. Are you to accompany me?’

He gave a little chuckle. ‘That’s allsettled already, Mr. Anne, sir,’ he replied.‘Why, I’ve got my things here in the valise—ahalf a dozen shirts and what not; I’m all ready, sir: justyou lead on: you’ll see.’

‘The devil you have!’ said I. ‘Youmade pretty sure of your welcome.’

‘If you please, sir,’ said Rowley.

He looked up at me, in the light of the lantern, with a boyishshyness and triumph that awoke my conscience. I could neverlet this innocent involve himself in the perils and difficultiesthat beset my course, without some hint of warning, which it wasa matter of extreme delicacy to make plain enough and not tooplain.

‘No, no,’ said I; ‘you may think you havemade a choice, but it was blindfold, and you must make it overagain. The Count’s service is a good one; what areyou leaving it for? Are you not throwing away the substancefor the shadow? No, do not answer me yet. You imaginethat I am a prosperous nobleman, just declared my uncle’sheir, on the threshold of the best of good fortune, and, from thepoint of view of a judicious servant, a jewel of a master toserve and stick to? Well, my boy, I am nothing of the kind,nothing of the kind.’

As I said the words, I came to a full stop and held up thelantern to his face. He stood before me, brilliantlyilluminated on the background of impenetrable night and fallingsnow, stricken to stone between his double burden like an assbetween two panniers, and gaping at me like a blunderbuss.I had never seen a face so predestined to be astonished, or sosusceptible of rendering the emotion of surprise; and it temptedme as an open piano tempts the musician.

‘Nothing of the sort, Rowley,’ I continued, in achurchyard voice. ‘These are appearances, pettyappearances. I am in peril, homeless, hunted. I countscarce any one in England who is not my enemy. From thishour I drop my name, my title; I become nameless; my name isproscribed. My liberty, my life, hang by a hair. Thedestiny which you will accept, if you go forth with me, is to betracked by spies, to hide yourself under a false name, to followthe desperate pretences and perhaps share the fate of a murdererwith a price upon his head.’

His face had been hitherto beyond expectation, passing fromone depth to another of tragic astonishment, and really worthpaying to see; but at this it suddenly cleared. ‘Oh,I ain’t afraid!’ he said; and then, choking intolaughter, ‘why, I see it from the first!’

I could have beaten him. But I had so grossly overshotthe mark that I suppose it took me two good miles of road andhalf an hour of elocution to persuade him I had been inearnest. In the course of which I became so interested indemonstrating my present danger that I forgot all about my futuresafety, and not only told him the story of Goguelat, but threw inthe business of the drovers as well, and ended by blurting outthat I was a soldier of Napoleon’s and a prisoner ofwar.

This was far from my views when I began; and it is a commoncomplaint of me that I have a long tongue. I believe it isa fault beloved by fortune. Which of you consideratefellows would have done a thing at once so foolhardy and so wiseas to make a confidant of a boy in his teens, and positivelysmelling of the nursery? And when had I cause to repentit? There is none so apt as a boy to be the adviser of anyman in difficulties such as mine. To the beginnings ofvirile common sense he adds the last lights of the child’simagination; and he can fling himself into business with thatsuperior earnestness that properly belongs to play. AndRowley was a boy made to my hand. He had a high sense ofromance, and a secret cultus for all soldiers andcriminals. His travelling library consisted of a chap-booklife of Wallace and some sixpenny parts of the ‘Old BaileySessions Papers’ by Gurney the shorthand writer; and thechoice depicts his character to a hair. You can imagine howhis new prospects brightened on a boy of this disposition.To be the servant and companion of a fugitive, a soldier, and amurderer, rolled in one—to live by stratagems, disguises,and false names, in an atmosphere of midnight and mystery sothick that you could cut it with a knife—was really, Ibelieve, more dear to him than his meals, though he was a greattrencherman, and something of a glutton besides. Formyself, as the peg by which all this romantic business hung, Iwas simply idolised from that moment; and he would rather havesacrificed his hand than surrendered the privilege of servingme.

We arranged the terms of our campaign, trudging amicably inthe snow, which now, with the approach of morning, began to fallto purpose. I chose the name of Ramornie, I imagine fromits likeness to Romaine; Rowley, from an irresistible conversionof ideas, I dubbed Gammon. His distress was laughable towitness: his own choice of an unassuming nickname had been ClaudeDuval! We settled our procedure at the various inns wherewe should alight, rehearsed our little manners like a piece ofdrill until it seemed impossible we should ever be takenunprepared; and in all these dispositions, you maybe sure thedespatch-box was not forgotten. Who was to pick it up, whowas to set it down, who was to remain beside it, who was to sleepwith it—there was no contingency omitted, all was gone intowith the thoroughness of a drill-sergeant on the one hand and achild with a new plaything on the other.

‘I say, wouldn’t it look queer if you and me wasto come to the post-house with all this luggage?’ saidRowley.

‘I dare say,’ I replied. ‘But whatelse is to be done?’

‘Well, now, sir—you hear me,’ saysRowley. ‘I think it would look more natural-like ifyou was to come to the post-house alone, and with nothing in your’ands—more like a gentleman, you know. And youmight say that your servant and baggage was a-waiting for you upthe road. I think I could manage, somehow, to make a shiftwith all them dratted things—leastways if you was to giveme a ’and up with them at the start.’

‘And I would see you far enough before I allowed you totry, Mr. Rowley!’ I cried. ‘Why, you would bequite defenceless! A footpad that was an infant child couldrob you. And I should probably come driving by to find youin a ditch with your throat cut. But there is something inyour idea, for all that; and I propose we put it in execution nofarther forward than the next corner of a lane.’

Accordingly, instead of continuing to aim for Aylesbury, weheaded by cross-roads for some point to the northward of it,whither I might assist Rowley with the baggage, and where I mightleave him to await my return in the post-chaise.

It was snowing to purpose, the country all white, andourselves walking snowdrifts, when the first glimmer of themorning showed us an inn upon the highwayside. Somedistance off, under the shelter of a corner of the road and aclump of trees, I loaded Rowley with the whole of ourpossessions, and watched him till he staggered in safety into thedoors of the Green Dragon, which was the sign of thehouse. Thence I walked briskly into Aylesbury, rejoicing inmy freedom and the causeless good spirits that belong to a snowymorning; though, to be sure, long before I had arrived the snowhad again ceased to fall, and the eaves of Aylesbury were smokingin the level sun. There was an accumulation of gigs andchaises in the yard, and a great bustle going forward in thecoffee-room and about the doors of the inn. At theseevidences of so much travel on the road I was seized with amisgiving lest it should be impossible to get horses, and Ishould be detained in the precarious neighbourhood of mycousin. Hungry as I was, I made my way first of all to thepostmaster, where he stood—a big, athletic, horsey-lookingman, blowing into a key in the corner of the yard.

On my making my modest request, he awoke from his indifferenceinto what seemed passion.

‘A po’-shay and ’osses!’ hecried. ‘Do I look as if I ’ad a po’-shayand ’osses? Damn me, if I ’ave such a thing onthe premises. I don’t make ’osses andchaises—I ’ire ’em. You might beGod Almighty!’ said he; and instantly, as if he hadobserved me for the first time, he broke off, and lowered hisvoice into the confidential. ‘Why, now that I see youare a gentleman,’ said he, ‘I’ll tell youwhat! If you like to buy, I have the article to fityou. Second-’and shay by Lycett, of London.Latest style; good as new. Superior fittin’s, net onthe roof, baggage platform, pistol ’olsters—the mostcom-plete and the most gen-teel turn-out I ever see! The’ole for seventy-five pound! It’s as good asgivin’ her away!’

‘Do you propose I should trundle it myself, like ahawker’s barrow?’ said I. ‘Why, my goodman, if I had to stop here, anyway, I should prefer to buy ahouse and garden!’

‘Come and look at her!’ he cried; and, with theword, links his arm in mine and carries me to the outhouse wherethe chaise was on view.

It was just the sort of chaise that I had dreamed of for mypurpose: eminently rich, inconspicuous, and genteel; for, thoughI thought the postmaster no great authority, I was bound to agreewith him so far. The body was painted a dark claret, andthe wheels an invisible green. The lamp and glasses werebright as silver; and the whole equipage had an air of privacyand reserve that seemed to repel inquiry and disarmsuspicion. With a servant like Rowley, and a chaise likethis, I felt that I could go from the Land’s End to Johno’ Groat’s House amid a population of bowingostlers. And I suppose I betrayed in my manner the degreein which the bargain tempted me.

‘Come,’ cried thepostmaster—‘I’ll make it seventy, to oblige afriend!’

‘The point is: the horses,’ said I.

‘Well,’ said he, consulting his watch,‘it’s now gone the ’alf after eight. Whattime do you want her at the door?’

‘Horses and all?’ said I.

‘’Osses and all!’ says he. ‘Onegood turn deserves another. You give me seventy pound forthe shay, and I’ll ’oss it for you. I told youI didn’t make ’osses; but I can make’em, to oblige a friend.’

What would you have? It was not the wisest thing in theworld to buy a chaise within a dozen miles of my uncle’shouse; but in this way I got my horses for the next stage.And by any other it appeared that I should have to wait.Accordingly I paid the money down—perhaps twenty pounds toomuch, though it was certainly a well-made and well-appointedvehicle—ordered it round in half an hour, and proceeded torefresh myself with breakfast.

The table to which I sat down occupied the recess of abay-window, and commanded a view of the front of the inn, where Icontinued to be amused by the successive departures oftravellers—the fussy and the offhand, the nigg*rdly and thelavish—all exhibiting their different characters in thatdiagnostic moment of the farewell: some escorted to the stirrupor the chaise door by the chamberlain, the chambermaids and thewaiters almost in a body, others moving off under a cloud,without human countenance. In the course of this I becameinterested in one for whom this ovation began to assume theproportions of a triumph; not only the under-servants, but thebarmaid, the landlady, and my friend the postmaster himself,crowding about the steps to speed his departure. I wasaware, at the same time, of a good deal of merriment, as thoughthe traveller were a man of a ready wit, and not too dignified toair it in that society. I leaned forward with a livelycuriosity; and the next moment I had blotted myself behind theteapot. The popular traveller had turned to wave afarewell; and behold! he was no other than my cousin Alain.It was a change of the sharpest from the angry, pallid man I hadseen at Amersham Place. Ruddy to a fault, illuminated withvintages, crowned with his curls like Bacchus, he now stoodbefore me for an instant, the perfect master of himself, smilingwith airs of conscious popularity and insufferablecondescension. He reminded me at once of a royal duke, oran actor turned a little elderly, and of a blatant bagman whoshould have been the illegitimate son of a gentleman. Amoment after he was gliding noiselessly on the road toLondon.

I breathed again. I recognised, with heartfeltgratitude, how lucky I had been to go in by the stable-yardinstead of the hostelry door, and what a fine occasion of meetingmy cousin I had lost by the purchase of the claret-colouredchaise! The next moment I remembered that there was awaiter present. No doubt but he must have observed me whenI crouched behind the breakfast equipage; no doubt but he musthave commented on this unusual and undignified behaviour; and itwas essential that I should do something to remove theimpression.

‘Waiter!’ said I, ‘that was the nephew ofCount Carwell that just drove off, wasn’t it?’

‘Yes, sir: Viscount Carwell we calls him,’ hereplied.

‘Ah, I thought as much,’ said I.‘Well, well, damn all these Frenchmen, say I!’

‘You may say so indeed, sir,’ said thewaiter. ‘They ain’t not to say in the samefield with our ’ome-raised gentry.’

‘Nasty tempers?’ I suggested.

‘Beas’ly temper, sir, the Viscount’ave,’ said the waiter with feeling.‘Why, no longer agone than this morning, he was sittingbreakfasting and reading in his paper. I suppose, sir, hecome on some pilitical information, or it might be about’orses, but he raps his ’and upon the table suddenand calls for curacoa. It gave me quite a turn, it did; hedid it that sudden and ’ard. Now, sir, that may bemanners in France, but hall I can say is, that I’m not usedto it.’

‘Reading the paper, was he?’ said I.‘What paper, eh?’

‘Here it is, sir,’ exclaimed the waiter.‘Seems like as if he’d dropped it.’

And picking it off the floor he presented it to me.

I may say that I was quite prepared, that I already knew whatto expect; but at sight of the cold print my heart stoppedbeating. There it was: the fulfilment of Romaine’sapprehension was before me; the paper was laid open at thecapture of Clausel. I felt as if I could take a littlecuracoa myself, but on second thoughts called for brandy.It was badly wanted; and suddenly I observed the waiter’seye to sparkle, as it were, with some recognition; made certainhe had remarked the resemblance between me and Alain; and becameaware—as by a revelation—of the fool’s part Ihad been playing. For I had now managed to put myidentification beyond a doubt, if Alain should choose to make hisinquiries at Aylesbury; and, as if that were not enough, I hadadded, at an expense of seventy pounds, a clue by which he mightfollow me through the length and breadth of England, in the shapeof the claret-coloured chaise! That elegant equipage (whichI began to regard as little better than a claret-colouredante-room to the hangman’s cart) coming presently to thedoor, I left my breakfast in the middle and departed; posting tothe north as diligently as my cousin Alain was posting to thesouth, and putting my trust (such as it was) in an oppositedirection and equal speed.


I am not certain that I had ever really appreciated beforethat hour the extreme peril of the adventure on which I wasembarked. The sight of my cousin, the look of hisface—so handsome, so jovial at the first sight, and brandedwith so much malignity as you saw it on the second—with hishyperbolical curls in order, with his neckcloth tied as if forthe conquests of love, setting forth (as I had no doubt in theworld he was doing) to clap the Bow Street runners on my trail,and cover England with handbills, each dangerous as a loadedmusket, convinced me for the first time that the affair was noless serious than death. I believe it came to a near touchwhether I should not turn the horses’ heads at the nextstage and make directly for the coast. But I was now in theposition of a man who should have thrown his gage into the den oflions; or, better still, like one who should have quarrelledovernight under the influence of wine, and now, at daylight, in acold winter’s morning, and humbly sober, must make good hiswords. It is not that I thought any the less, or any theless warmly, of Flora. But, as I smoked a grim segar thatmorning in a corner of the chaise, no doubt I considered, in thefirst place, that the letter-post had been invented, and admittedprivately to myself, in the second, that it would have beenhighly possible to write her on a piece of paper, seal it, andsend it skimming by the mail, instead of going personally intothese egregious dangers, and through a country that I beheldcrowded with gibbets and Bow Street officers. As for Simand Candlish, I doubt if they crossed my mind.

At the Green Dragon Rowley was waiting on the doorsteps withthe luggage, and really was bursting with unpalatableconversation.

‘Who do you think we’ve ’ad ’ere,sir?’ he began breathlessly, as the chaise drove off.‘Red Breasts’; and he nodded his headportentously.

‘Red Breasts?’ I repeated, for I stupidly did notunderstand at the moment an expression I had often heard.

‘Ah!’ said he. ‘Red weskits.Runners. Bow Street runners. Two on’ em, andone was Lavender himself! I hear the other say quite plain,“Now, Mr. Lavender, if you’reready.” They was breakfasting as nigh me as I am tothat postboy. They’re all right; they ain’tafter us. It’s a forger; and I didn’t send themoff on a false scent—O no! I thought there was no usein having them over our way; so I give them “very valuableinformation,” Mr. Lavender said, and tipped me a tizzy formyself; and they’re off to Luton. They showed me the’andcuffs, too—the other one did—and he clickedthe dratted things on my wrist; and I tell you, I believe Inearly went off in a swound! There’s something sobeastly in the feel of them! Begging your pardon, Mr.Anne,’ he added, with one of his delicious changes from thecharacter of the confidential schoolboy into that of the trained,respectful servant.

Well, I must not be proud! I cannot say I found thesubject of handcuffs to my fancy; and it was with more asperitythan was needful that I reproved him for the slip about thename.

‘Yes, Mr. Ramornie,’ says he, touching hishat. ‘Begging your pardon, Mr. Ramornie. ButI’ve been very piticular, sir, up to now; and you may trustme to be very piticular in the future. It were only a slip,sir.’

‘My good boy,’ said I, with the most imposingseverity, ‘there must be no slips. Be so good as toremember that my life is at stake.’

I did not embrace the occasion of telling him how many I hadmade myself. It is my principle that an officer must neverbe wrong. I have seen two divisions beating their brainsout for a fortnight against a worthless and quite impregnablecastle in a pass: I knew we were only doing it for discipline,because the General had said so at first, and had not yet foundany way out of his own words; and I highly admired his force ofcharacter, and throughout these operations thought my lifeexposed in a very good cause. With fools and children,which included Rowley, the necessity was even greater. Iproposed to myself to be infallible; and even when he expressedsome wonder at the purchase of the claret-coloured chaise, I puthim promptly in his place. In our situation, I told him,everything had to be sacrificed to appearances; doubtless, in ahired chaise, we should have had more freedom, but look at thedignity! I was so positive, that I had sometimes almostconvinced myself. Not for long, you may be certain!This detestable conveyance always appeared to me to be laden withBow Street officers, and to have a placard upon the back of itpublishing my name and crimes. If I had paid seventy poundsto get the thing, I should not have stuck at seven hundred to besafely rid of it.

And if the chaise was a danger, what an anxiety was thedespatch-box and its golden cargo! I had never had a carebut to draw my pay and spend it; I had lived happily in theregiment, as in my father’s house, fed by the greatEmperor’s commissariat as by ubiquitous doves ofElijah—or, my faith! if anything went wrong with thecommissariat, helping myself with the best grace in the worldfrom the next peasant! And now I began to feel at the sametime the burthen of riches and the fear of destitution.There were ten thousand pounds in the despatch-box, but Ireckoned in French money, and had two hundred and fifty thousandagonies; I kept it under my hand all day, I dreamed of it atnight. In the inns, I was afraid to go to dinner and afraidto go to sleep. When I walked up a hill I durst not leavethe doors of the claret-coloured chaise. Sometimes I wouldchange the disposition of the funds: there were days when Icarried as much as five or six thousand pounds on my own person,and only the residue continued to voyage in thetreasure-chest—days when I bulked all over like my cousin,crackled to a touch with bank paper, and had my pockets weighedto bursting-point with sovereigns. And there were otherdays when I wearied of the thing—or grew ashamed ofit—and put all the money back where it had come from: therelet it take its chance, like better people! In short, I setRowley a poor example of consistency, and in philosophy, none atall.

Little he cared! All was one to him so long as he wasamused, and I never knew any one amused more easily. He wasthrillingly interested in life, travel, and his own melodramaticposition. All day he would be looking from the chaisewindows with ebullitions of gratified curiosity, that weresometimes justified and sometimes not, and that (takenaltogether) it occasionally wearied me to be obliged toshare. I can look at horses, and I can look at trees too,although not fond of it. But why should I look at a lamehorse, or a tree that was like the letter Y? Whatexhilaration could I feel in viewing a cottage that was the samecolour as ‘the second from the miller’s’ insome place where I had never been, and of which I had notpreviously heard? I am ashamed to complain, but there weremoments when my juvenile and confidential friend weighed heavy onmy hands. His cackle was indeed almost continuous, but itwas never unamiable. He showed an amiable curiosity when hewas asking questions; an amiable guilelessness when he wasconferring information. And both he did largely. I amin a position to write the biographies of Mr. Rowley, Mr.Rowley’s father and mother, his Aunt Eliza, and themiller’s dog; and nothing but pity for the reader, and somemisgivings as to the law of copyright, prevail on me to withholdthem.

A general design to mould himself upon my example became earlyapparent, and I had not the heart to check it. He began tomimic my carriage; he acquired, with servile accuracy, a littlemanner I had of shrugging the shoulders; and I may say it was byobserving it in him that I first discovered it in myself.One day it came out by chance that I was of the Catholicreligion. He became plunged in thought, at which I wasgently glad. Then suddenly—

‘Odd-rabbit it! I’ll be Catholic too!’he broke out. ‘You must teach me it, Mr. Anne—Imean, Ramornie.’

I dissuaded him: alleging that he would find me veryimperfectly informed as to the grounds and doctrines of theChurch, and that, after all, in the matter of religions, it was avery poor idea to change. ‘Of course, my Church isthe best,’ said I; ‘but that is not the reason why Ibelong to it: I belong to it because it was the faith of myhouse. I wish to take my chances with my own people, and soshould you. If it is a question of going to hell, go tohell like a gentleman with your ancestors.’

‘Well, it wasn’t that,’ he admitted.‘I don’t know that I was exactly thinking ofhell. Then there’s the inquisition, too.That’s rather a ca*wker, you know.’

‘And I don’t believe you were thinking of anythingin the world,’ said I—which put a period to hisrespectable conversion.

He consoled himself by playing for awhile on a cheapflageolet, which was one of his diversions, and to which I owedmany intervals of peace. When he first produced it, in thejoints, from his pocket, he had the duplicity to ask me if Iplayed upon it. I answered, no; and he put the instrumentaway with a sigh and the remark that he had thought Imight. For some while he resisted the unspeakabletemptation, his fingers visibly itching and twittering about hispocket, even his interest in the landscape and in sporadicanecdote entirely lost. Presently the pipe was in his handsagain; he fitted, unfitted, refitted, and played upon it in dumbshow for some time.

‘I play it myself a little,’ says he.

‘Do you?’ said I, and yawned.

And then he broke down.

‘Mr. Ramornie, if you please, would it disturb you, sir,if I was to play a chune?’ he pleaded. And from thathour, the tootling of the flageolet cheered our way.

He was particularly keen on the details of battles, singlecombats, incidents of scouting parties, and the like. Thesehe would make haste to cap with some of the exploits of Wallace,the only hero with whom he had the least acquaintance. Hisenthusiasm was genuine and pretty. When he learned we weregoing to Scotland, ‘Well, then,’ he broke out,‘I’ll see where Wallace lived!’ Andpresently after, he fell to moralising. ‘It’s astrange thing, sir,’ he began, ‘that I seem somehowto have always the wrong sow by the ear. I’m Englishafter all, and I glory in it. My eye! don’t I,though! Let some of your Frenchies come over here toinvade, and you’ll see whether or not! Oh, yes,I’m English to the backbone, I am. And yet look atme! I got hold of this ’ere William Wallace and tookto him right off; I never heard of such a man before! Andthen you came along, and I took to you. And both the two ofyou were my born enemies! I—I beg your pardon, Mr.Ramornie, but would you mind it very much if you didn’t gofor to do anything against England’—he brought theword out suddenly, like something hot—‘when I wasalong of you?’

I was more affected than I can tell.

‘Rowley,’ I said, ‘you need have nofear. By how much I love my own honour, by so much I willtake care to protect yours. We are but fraternising at theoutposts, as soldiers do. When the bugle calls, my boy, wemust face each other, one for England, one for France, and mayGod defend the right!’

So I spoke at the moment; but for all my brave airs, the boyhad wounded me in a vital quarter. His words continued toring in my hearing. There was no remission all day of myremorseful thoughts; and that night (which we lay at Lichfield, Ibelieve) there was no sleep for me in my bed. I put out thecandle and lay down with a good resolution; and in a moment allwas light about me like a theatre, and I saw myself upon thestage of it playing ignoble parts. I remembered France andmy Emperor, now depending on the arbitrament of war, bent down,fighting on their knees and with their teeth against so many andsuch various assailants. And I burned with shame to be herein England, cherishing an English fortune, pursuing an Englishmistress, and not there, to handle a musket in my native fields,and to manure them with my body if I fell. I rememberedthat I belonged to France. All my fathers had fought forher, and some had died; the voice in my throat, the sight of myeyes, the tears that now sprang there, the whole man of me, wasfashioned of French earth and born of a French mother; I had beentended and caressed by a succession of the daughters of France,the fairest, the most ill-starred; and I had fought and conqueredshoulder to shoulder with her sons. A soldier, a noble, ofthe proudest and bravest race in Europe, it had been left to theprattle of a hobbledehoy lackey in an English chaise to recall meto the consciousness of duty.

When I saw how it was I did not lose time in indecision.The old classical conflict of love and honour being once fairlybefore me, it did not cost me a thought. I was a Saint-Yvesde Kéroual; and I decided to strike off on the morrow forWakefield and Burchell Fenn, and embark, as soon as it should bemorally possible, for the succour of my downtrodden fatherlandand my beleaguered Emperor. Pursuant on this resolve, Ileaped from bed, made a light, and as the watchman was cryinghalf-past two in the dark streets of Lichfield, sat down to pen aletter of farewell to Flora. And then—whether it wasthe sudden chill of the night, whether it came by association ofideas from the remembrance of Swanston Cottage I know not, butthere appeared before me—to the barking ofsheep-dogs—a couple of snuffy and shambling figures, eachwrapped in a plaid, each armed with a rude staff; and I wasimmediately bowed down to have forgotten them so long, and oflate to have thought of them so cavalierly.

Sure enough there was my errand! As a private person Iwas neither French nor English; I was something else first: aloyal gentleman, an honest man. Sim and Candlish must notbe left to pay the penalty of my unfortunate blow. Theyheld my honour tacitly pledged to succour them; and it is a sortof stoical refinement entirely foreign to my nature to set thepolitical obligation above the personal and private. IfFrance fell in the interval for the lack of Anne de St.-Yves,fall she must! But I was both surprised and humiliated tohave had so plain a duty bound upon me for so long—and forso long to have neglected and forgotten it. I think anybrave man will understand me when I say that I went to bed and tosleep with a conscience very much relieved, and woke again in themorning with a light heart. The very danger of theenterprise reassured me: to save Sim and Candlish (suppose theworst to come to the worst) it would be necessary for me todeclare myself in a court of justice, with consequences which Idid not dare to dwell upon; it could never be said that I hadchosen the cheap and the easy—only that in a veryperplexing competition of duties I had risked my life for themost immediate.

We resumed the journey with more diligence: thenceforwardposted day and night; did not halt beyond what was necessary formeals; and the postillions were excited by gratuities, after thehabit of my cousin Alain. For twopence I could have gonefarther and taken four horses; so extreme was my haste, runningas I was before the terrors of an awakened conscience. ButI feared to be conspicuous. Even as it was, we attractedonly too much attention, with our pair and that white elephant,the seventy-pounds-worth of claret-coloured chaise.

Meanwhile I was ashamed to look Rowley in the face. Theyoung shaver had contrived to put me wholly in the wrong; he hadcost me a night’s rest and a severe and healthfulhumiliation; and I was grateful and embarrassed in hissociety. This would never do; it was contrary to all myideas of discipline; if the officer has to blush before theprivate, or the master before the servant, nothing is left tohope for but discharge or death. I hit upon the idea ofteaching him French; and accordingly, from Lichfield, I becamethe distracted master, and he the scholar—how shall I say?indefatigable, but uninspired. His interest neverflagged. He would hear the same word twenty times withprofound refreshment, mispronounce it in several different ways,and forget it again with magical celerity. Say it happenedto be stirrup. ‘No, I don’t seem toremember that word, Mr. Anne,’ he would say: ‘itdon’t seem to stick to me, that worddon’t.’ And then, when I had told it him again,‘Etrier!’ he would cry. ‘To besure! I had it on the tip of my tongue.Eterier!’ (going wrong already, as if by a fatalinstinct). ‘What will I remember it by, now?Why, interior, to be sure! I’ll remember it byits being something that ain’t in the interior of ahorse.’ And when next I had occasion to ask him theFrench for stirrup, it was a toss-up whether he had forgotten allabout it, or gave me exterior for an answer. He wasnever a hair discouraged. He seemed to consider that he wascovering the ground at a normal rate. He came up smilingday after day. ‘Now, sir, shall we do ourFrench?’ he would say; and I would put questions, andelicit copious commentary and explanation, but never the shadowof an answer. My hands fell to my sides; I could have weptto hear him. When I reflected that he had as yet learnednothing, and what a vast deal more there was for him to learn,the period of these lessons seemed to unroll before me vast aseternity, and I saw myself a teacher of a hundred, and Rowley apupil of ninety, still hammering on the rudiments! Thewretched boy, I should say, was quite unspoiled by the inevitablefamiliarities of the journey. He turned out at each stagethe pink of serving-lads, deft, civil, prompt, attentive,touching his hat like an automaton, raising the status of Mr.Ramornie in the eyes of all the inn by his smiling service, andseeming capable of anything in the world but the one thing I hadchosen—learning French!


The country had for some time back been changing incharacter. By a thousand indications I could judge that Iwas again drawing near to Scotland. I saw it written in theface of the hills, in the growth of the trees, and in the glintof the waterbrooks that kept the high-road company. Itmight have occurred to me, also, that I was, at the same time,approaching a place of some fame in Britain—GretnaGreen. Over these same leagues of road—which Rowleyand I now traversed in the claret-coloured chaise, to the note ofthe flageolet and the French lesson—how many pairs oflovers had gone bowling northwards to the music of sixteenscampering horseshoes; and how many irate persons, parents,uncles, guardians, evicted rivals, had come tearing after,clapping the frequent red face to the chaise-window, lavishlyshedding their gold about the post-houses, sedulously loading andre-loading, as they went, their avenging pistols! But Idoubt if I had thought of it at all, before a wayside hazardswept me into the thick of an adventure of this nature; and Ifound myself playing providence with other people’s lives,to my own admiration at the moment—and subsequently to myown brief but passionate regret.

At rather an ugly corner of an uphill reach I came on thewreck of a chaise lying on one side in the ditch, a man and awoman in animated discourse in the middle of the road, and thetwo postillions, each with his pair of horses, looking on andlaughing from the saddle.

‘Morning breezes! here’s a smash!’ criedRowley, pocketing his flageolet in the middle of the TightLittle Island.

I was perhaps more conscious of the moral smash than thephysical—more alive to broken hearts than to brokenchaises; for, as plain as the sun at morning, there was a screwloose in this runaway match. It is always a bad sign whenthe lower classes laugh: their taste in humour is both poor andsinister; and for a man, running the posts with four horses,presumably with open pockets, and in the company of the mostentrancing little creature conceivable, to have come down so faras to be laughed at by his own postillions, was only to beexplained on the double hypothesis, that he was a fool and nogentleman.

I have said they were man and woman. I should have saidman and child. She was certainly not more than seventeen,pretty as an angel, just plump enough to damn a saint, anddressed in various shades of blue, from her stockings to hersaucy cap, in a kind of taking gamut, the top note of which sheflung me in a beam from her too appreciative eye. There wasno doubt about the case: I saw it all. From aboarding-school, a black-board, a piano, and Clementi’sSonatinas, the child had made a rash adventure upon lifein the company of a half-bred hawbuck; and she was already notonly regretting it, but expressing her regret with point andpungency.

As I alighted they both paused with that unmistakable air ofbeing interrupted in a scene. I uncovered to the lady andplaced my services at their disposal.

It was the man who answered. ‘There’s no usein shamming, sir,’ said he. ‘This lady and Ihave run away, and her father’s after us: road to Gretna,sir. And here have these nincompoops spilt us in the ditchand smashed the chaise!’

‘Very provoking,’ said I.

‘I don’t know when I’ve been soprovoked!’ cried he, with a glance down the road, of mortalterror.

‘The father is no doubt very much incensed?’ Ipursued civilly.

‘O God!’ cried the hawbuck. ‘In short,you see, we must get out of this. And I’ll tell youwhat—it may seem cool, but necessity has no law—ifyou would lend us your chaise to the next post-house, it would bethe very thing, sir.’

‘I confess it seems cool,’ I replied.

‘What’s that you say, sir?’ he snapped.

‘I was agreeing with you,’ said I.‘Yes, it does seem cool; and what is more to the point, itseems unnecessary. This thing can be arranged in a moresatisfactory manner otherwise, I think. You can doubtlessride?’

This opened a door on the matter of their previous dispute,and the fellow appeared life-sized in his true colours.‘That’s what I’ve been telling her: that, damnher! she must ride!’ he broke out. ‘And if thegentleman’s of the same mind, why, damme, youshall!’

As he said so, he made a snatch at her wrist, which she evadedwith horror.

I stepped between them.

‘No, sir,’ said I; ‘the lady shallnot.’

He turned on me raging. ‘And who are you tointerfere?’ he roared.

‘There is here no question of who I am,’ Ireplied. ‘I may be the devil or the Archbishop ofCanterbury for what you know, or need know. The point isthat I can help you—it appears that nobody else can; and Iwill tell you how I propose to do it. I will give the ladya seat in my chaise, if you will return the compliment byallowing my servant to ride one of your horses.’

I thought he would have sprung at my throat.

‘You have always the alternative before you: to waithere for the arrival of papa,’ I added.

And that settled him. He cast another haggard look downthe road, and capitulated.

‘I am sure, sir, the lady is very much obliged toyou,’ he said, with an ill grace.

I gave her my hand; she mounted like a bird into the chaise;Rowley, grinning from ear to ear, closed the door behind us; thetwo impudent rascals of post-boys cheered and laughed aloud as wedrove off; and my own postillion urged his horses at once into arattling trot. It was plain I was supposed by all to havedone a very dashing act, and ravished the bride from theravisher.

In the meantime I stole a look at the little lady. Shewas in a state of pitiable discomposure, and her arms shook onher lap in her black lace mittens.

‘Madam—’ I began.

And she, in the same moment, finding her voice: ‘O, whatyou must think of me!’

‘Madam,’ said I, ‘what must any gentlemanthink when he sees youth, beauty and innocence in distress?I wish I could tell you that I was old enough to be your father;I think we must give that up,’ I continued, with asmile. ‘But I will tell you something about myselfwhich ought to do as well, and to set that little heart at restin my society. I am a lover. May I say it ofmyself—for I am not quite used to all the niceties ofEnglish—that I am a true lover? There is one whom Iadmire, adore, obey; she is no less good than she is beautiful;if she were here, she would take you to her arms: conceive thatshe has sent me—that she has said to me, “Go, be herknight!”’

‘O, I know she must be sweet, I know she must be worthyof you!’ cried the little lady. ‘She wouldnever forget female decorum—nor make the terribleerratum I’ve done!’

And at this she lifted up her voice and wept.

This did not forward matters: it was in vain that I begged herto be more composed and to tell me a plain, consecutive tale ofher misadventures; but she continued instead to pour forth themost extraordinary mixture of the correct school miss and thepoor untutored little piece of womanhood in a falseposition—of engrafted pedantry and incoherent nature.

‘I am certain it must have been judicialblindness,’ she sobbed. ‘I can’t thinkhow I didn’t see it, but I didn’t; and heisn’t, is he? And then a curtain rose . . . O, what amoment was that! But I knew at once that you were;you had but to appear from your carriage, and I knew it, O, shemust be a fortunate young lady! And I have no fear withyou, none—a perfect confidence.’

‘Madam,’ said I, ‘a gentleman.’

‘That’s what I mean—a gentleman,’ sheexclaimed. ‘And he—and that—heisn’t. O, how shall I dare meet father!’And disclosing to me her tear-stained face, and opening her armswith a tragic gesture: ‘And I am quite disgraced before allthe young ladies, my school-companions!’ she added.

‘O, not so bad as that!’ I cried.‘Come, come, you exaggerate, my dear Miss—?Excuse me if I am too familiar: I have not yet heard yourname.’

‘My name is Dorothy Greensleeves, sir: why should Iconceal it? I fear it will only serve to point an adage tofuture generations, and I had meant so differently! Therewas no young female in the county more emulous to be thought wellof than I. And what a fall was there! O, dear me,what a wicked, piggish donkey of a girl I have made of myself, tobe sure! And there is no hope! O, Mr.—’

And at that she paused and asked my name.

I am not writing my eulogium for the Academy; I will admit itwas unpardonably imbecile, but I told it her. If you hadbeen there—and seen her, ravishingly pretty and little, ababy in years and mind—and heard her talking like a book,with so much of schoolroom propriety in her manner, with such aninnocent despair in the matter—you would probably have toldher yours. She repeated it after me.

‘I shall pray for you all my life,’ shesaid. ‘Every night, when I retire to rest, the lastthing I shall do is to remember you by name.’

Presently I succeeded in winning from her her tale, which wasmuch what I had anticipated: a tale of a schoolhouse, a walledgarden, a fruit-tree that concealed a bench, an impudent raffposturing in church, an exchange of flowers and vows over thegarden wall, a silly schoolmate for a confidante, a chaise andfour, and the most immediate and perfect disenchantment on thepart of the little lady. ‘And there is nothing to bedone!’ she wailed in conclusion. ‘My error isirretrievable, I am quite forced to that conclusion. O,Monsieur de Saint-Yves! who would have thought that I could havebeen such a blind, wicked donkey!’

I should have said before—only that I really do not knowwhen it came in—that we had been overtaken by the twopost-boys, Rowley and Mr. Bellamy, which was the hawbuck’sname, bestriding the four post-horses; and that these formed asort of cavalry escort, riding now before, now behind the chaise,and Bellamy occasionally posturing at the window and obliging uswith some of his conversation. He was so ill-received thatI declare I was tempted to pity him, remembering from what aheight he had fallen, and how few hours ago it was since the ladyhad herself fled to his arms, all blushes and ardour. Well,these great strokes of fortune usually befall the unworthy, andBellamy was now the legitimate object of my commiseration and theridicule of his own post-boys!

‘Miss Dorothy,’ said I, ‘you wish to bedelivered from this man?’

‘O, if it were possible!’ she cried.‘But not by violence.’

‘Not in the least, ma’am,’ I replied.‘The simplest thing in life. We are in a civilisedcountry; the man’s a malefactor—’

‘O, never!’ she cried. ‘Do not evendream it! With all his faults, I know he is notthat.’

‘Anyway, he’s in the wrong in this affair—onthe wrong side of the law, call it what you please,’ saidI; and with that, our four horsem*n having for the moment headedus by a considerable interval, I hailed my post-boy and inquiredwho was the nearest magistrate and where he lived.Archdeacon cl*theroe, he told me, a prodigious dignitary, and onewho lived but a lane or two back, and at the distance of only amile or two out of the direct road. I showed him theking’s medallion.

‘Take the lady there, and at full gallop,’ Icried.

‘Right, sir! Mind yourself,’ says thepostillion.

And before I could have thought it possible, he had turned thecarriage to the rightabout and we were galloping south.

Our outriders were quick to remark and imitate the manoeuvre,and came flying after us with a vast deal of indiscriminateshouting; so that the fine, sober picture of a carriage andescort, that we had presented but a moment back, was transformedin the twinkling of an eye into the image of a noisyfox-chase. The two postillions and my own saucy rogue were,of course, disinterested actors in the comedy; they rode for themere sport, keeping in a body, their mouths full of laughter,waving their hats as they came on, and crying (as the fancystruck them) Tally-ho!’ ‘Stop,thief!’ ‘A highwayman! Ahighwayman!’ It was otherguess work withBellamy. That gentleman no sooner observed our change ofdirection than he turned his horse with so much violence that thepoor animal was almost cast upon its side, and launched her inimmediate and desperate pursuit. As he approached I sawthat his face was deadly white and that he carried a drawn pistolin his hand. I turned at once to the poor little bride thatwas to have been, and now was not to be; she, upon her side,deserting the other window, turned as if to meet me.

‘O, O, don’t let him kill me!’ shescreamed.

‘Never fear,’ I replied.

Her face was distorted with terror. Her hands took holdupon me with the instinctive clutch of an infant. Thechaise gave a flying lurch, which took the feet from under me andtumbled us anyhow upon the seat. And almost in the samemoment the head of Bellamy appeared in the window which Missy hadleft free for him.

Conceive the situation! The little lady and I werefalling—or had just fallen—backward on the seat, andoffered to the eye a somewhat ambiguous picture. The chaisewas speeding at a furious pace, and with the most violent leapsand lurches, along the highway. Into this boundingreceptacle Bellamy interjected his head, his pistol arm, and hispistol; and since his own horse was travelling still faster thanthe chaise, he must withdraw all of them again in the inside ofthe fraction of a minute. He did so, but he left the chargeof the pistol behind him—whether by design or accident Ishall never know, and I dare say he has forgotten! Probablyhe had only meant to threaten, in hopes of causing us to arrestour flight. In the same moment came the explosion and apitiful cry from Missy; and my gentleman, making certain he hadstruck her, went down the road pursued by the furies, turned atthe first corner, took a flying leap over the thorn hedge, anddisappeared across country in the least possible time.

Rowley was ready and eager to pursue; but I withheld him,thinking we were excellently quit of Mr. Bellamy, at no more costthan a scratch on the forearm and a bullet-hole in the left-handclaret-coloured panel. And accordingly, but now at a moredecent pace, we proceeded on our way to Archdeaconcl*theroe’s, Missy’s gratitude and admiration werearoused to a high pitch by this dramatic scene, and what she waspleased to call my wound. She must dress it for me with herhandkerchief, a service which she rendered me even withtears. I could well have spared them, not loving on thewhole to be made ridiculous, and the injury being in the natureof a cat’s scratch. Indeed, I would have suggestedfor her kind care rather the cure of my coat-sleeve, which hadsuffered worse in the encounter; but I was too wise to risk theanti-climax. That she had been rescued by a hero, that thehero should have been wounded in the affray, and his woundbandaged with her handkerchief (which it could not even bloody),ministered incredibly to the recovery of her self-respect; and Icould hear her relate the incident to ‘the young ladies, myschool-companions,’ in the most approved manner of Mrs.Radcliffe! To have insisted on the torn coat-sleeve wouldhave been unmannerly, if not inhuman.

Presently the residence of the archdeacon began to heave insight. A chaise and four smoking horses stood by the steps,and made way for us on our approach; and even as we alightedthere appeared from the interior of the house a tallecclesiastic, and beside him a little, headstrong, ruddy man, ina towering passion, and brandishing over his head a roll ofpaper. At sight of him Miss Dorothy flung herself on herknees with the most moving adjurations, calling him father,assuring him she was wholly cured and entirely repentant of herdisobedience, and entreating forgiveness; and I soon saw that sheneed fear no great severity from Mr. Greensleeves, who showedhimself extraordinarily fond, loud, greedy of caresses andprodigal of tears.

To give myself a countenance, as well as to have all ready forthe road when I should find occasion, I turned to quit scoreswith Bellamy’s two postillions. They had not theleast claim on me, but one of which they were quiteignorant—that I was a fugitive. It is the worstfeature of that false position that every gratuity becomes a caseof conscience. You must not leave behind you any onediscontented nor any one grateful. But the whole businesshad been such a ‘hurrah-boys’ from the beginning, andhad gone off in the fifth act so like a melodrama, in explosions,reconciliations, and the rape of a post-horse, that it wasplainly impossible to keep it covered. It was plain itwould have to be talked over in all the inn-kitchens for thirtymiles about, and likely for six months to come. It onlyremained for me, therefore, to settle on that gratuity whichshould be least conspicuous—so large that nobody couldgrumble, so small that nobody would be tempted to boast. Mydecision was hastily and nor wisely taken. The one fellowspat on his tip (so he called it) for luck; the other developinga sudden streak of piety, prayed God bless me with fervour.It seemed a demonstration was brewing, and I determined to be offat once. Bidding my own post-boy and Rowley be in readinessfor an immediate start, I reascended the terrace and presentedmyself, hat in hand, before Mr. Greensleeves and thearchdeacon.

‘You will excuse me, I trust,’ said I.‘I think shame to interrupt this agreeable scene of familyeffusion, which I have been privileged in some small degree tobring about.’

And at these words the storm broke.

‘Small degree! small degree, sir!’ cries thefather; ‘that shall not pass, Mr. St. Eaves! IfI’ve got my darling back, and none the worse for thatvagabone rascal, I know whom I have to thank. Shake handswith me—up to the elbows, sir! A Frenchman you maybe, but you’re one of the right breed, by God! And,by God, sir, you may have anything you care to ask of me, down toDolly’s hand, by God!’

All this he roared out in a voice surprisingly powerful fromso small a person. Every word was thus audible to theservants, who had followed them out of the house and nowcongregated about us on the terrace, as well as to Rowley and thefive postillions on the gravel sweep below. The sentimentsexpressed were popular; some ass, whom the devil moved to be myenemy, proposed three cheers, and they were given with awill. To hear my own name resounding amid acclamations inthe hills of Westmorland was flattering, perhaps; but it wasinconvenient at a moment when (as I was morally persuaded) policehandbills were already speeding after me at the rate of a hundredmiles a day.

Nor was that the end of it. The archdeacon must presenthis compliments, and pressed upon me some of his West Indiasherry, and I was carried into a vastly fine library, where I waspresented to his lady wife. While we were at sherry in thelibrary, ale was handed round upon the terrace. Speecheswere made, hands were shaken, Missy (at her father’srequest) kissed me farewell, and the whole party reaccompanied meto the terrace, where they stood waving hats and handkerchiefs,and crying farewells to all the echoes of the mountains until thechaise had disappeared.

The echoes of the mountains were engaged in saying to meprivately: ‘You fool, you have done it now!’

‘They do seem to have got ’old of your name, Mr.Anne,’ said Rowley. ‘It weren’t my faultthis time.’

‘It was one of those accidents that can never beforeseen,’ said I, affecting a dignity that I was far fromfeeling. ‘Some one recognised me.’

‘Which on ’em, Mr. Anne?’ said therascal.

‘That is a senseless question; it can make no differencewho it was,’ I returned.

‘No, nor that it can’t!’ cried Rowley.‘I say, Mr. Anne, sir, it’s what you would call ajolly mess, ain’t it? looks like “clean bowled-out inthe middle stump,” don’t it?’

‘I fail to understand you, Rowley.’

‘Well, what I mean is, what are we to do about thisone?’ pointing to the postillion in front of us, as healternately hid and revealed his patched breeches to the trot ofhis horse. ‘He see you get in this morning underMr. Ramornie—I was very piticular to Mr.Ramornie you, if you remember, sir—and he see you getin again under Mr. Saint Eaves, and whatever’s he going tosee you get out under? that’s what worries me, sir.It don’t seem to me like as if the position was what youcall stratetegic!’

Parrrbleu! will you let me be!’ Icried. ‘I have to think; you cannot imagine how yourconstant idiotic prattle annoys me.’

‘Beg pardon, Mr. Anne,’ said he; and the nextmoment, ‘You wouldn’t like for us to do our Frenchnow, would you, Mr. Anne?’

‘Certainly not,’ said I. ‘Play uponyour flageolet.’

The which he did with what seemed to me to be irony.

Conscience doth make cowards of us all! I was sodowncast by my pitiful mismanagement of the morning’sbusiness that I shrank from the eye of my own hired infant, andread offensive meanings into his idle tootling.

I took off my coat, and set to mending it, soldier-fashion,with a needle and thread. There is nothing more conduciveto thought, above all in arduous circ*mstances; and as I sewed, Igradually gained a clearness upon my affairs. I must bedone with the claret-coloured chaise at once. It should besold at the next stage for what it would bring. Rowley andI must take back to the road on our four feet, and after a decentinterval of trudging, get places on some coach for Edinburghagain under new names! So much trouble and toil, so muchextra risk and expense and loss of time, and all for a slip ofthe tongue to a little lady in blue!


I had hitherto conceived and partly carried out an ideal thatwas dear to my heart. Rowley and I descended from ourclaret-coloured chaise, a couple of correctly dressed, brisk,bright-eyed young fellows, like a pair of aristocratic mice;attending singly to our own affairs, communicating solely witheach other, and that with the niceties and civilities ofdrill. We would pass through the little crowd before thedoor with high-bred preoccupation, inoffensively haughty, afterthe best English pattern; and disappear within, followed by theenvy and admiration of the bystanders, a model master andservant, point-device in every part. It was a heavy thoughtto me, as we drew up before the inn at Kirkby-Lonsdale, that thisscene was now to be enacted for the last time. Alas! andhad I known it, it was to go of with so inferior a grace!

I had been injudiciously liberal to the post-boys of thechaise and four. My own post-boy, he of the patchedbreeches, now stood before me, his eyes glittering with greed,his hand advanced. It was plain he anticipated somethingextraordinary by way of a pourboire; and considering themarches and counter-marches by which I had extended the stage,the military character of our affairs with Mr. Bellamy, and thebad example I had set before him at the archdeacon’s,something exceptional was certainly to be done. But theseare always nice questions, to a foreigner above all: a shade toolittle will suggest nigg*rdliness, a shilling too much smells ofhush-money. Fresh from the scene at the archdeacon’s,and flushed by the idea that I was now nearly done with theresponsibilities of the claret-coloured chaise, I put into hishands five guineas; and the amount served only to waken hiscupidity.

‘O, come, sir, you ain’t going to fob me of withthis? Why, I seen fire at your side!’ he cried.

It would never do to give him more; I felt I should become thefable of Kirkby-Lonsdale if I did; and I looked him in the face,sternly but still smiling, and addressed him with a voice ofuncompromising firmness.

‘If you do not like it, give it back,’ said I.

He pocketed the guineas with the quickness of a conjurer, and,like a base-born co*ckney as he was, fell instantly to castingdirt.

‘’Ave your own way of it, Mr.Ramornie—leastways Mr. St. Eaves, or whatever your blessedname may be. Look ’ere’—turning forsympathy to the stable-boys—‘this is a blessedbusiness. Blessed ’ard, I calls it. ’EreI takes up a blessed son of a pop-gun what calls hisself anythingyou care to mention, and turns out to be a blessedmounseer at the end of it! ’Ere ’ave Ibeen drivin’ of him up and down all day, a-carrying off ofgals, a-shootin’ of pistyils, and a-drinkin’ ofsherry and hale; and wot does he up and give me but a blank,blank, blanketing blank!’

The fellow’s language had become too powerful forreproduction, and I passed it by.

Meanwhile I observed Rowley fretting visibly at the bit;another moment, and he would have added a last touch of theridiculous to our arrival by coming to his hands with thepostillion.

‘Rowley!’ cried I reprovingly.

Strictly it should have been Gammon; but in the hurry of themoment, my fault (I can only hope) passed unperceived. Atthe same time I caught the eye of the postmaster. He waslong and lean, and brown and bilious; he had the drooping nose ofthe humourist, and the quick attention of a man of parts.He read my embarrassment in a glance, stepped instantly forward,sent the post-boy to the rightabout with half a word, and wasback next moment at my side.

‘Dinner in a private room, sir? Very well.John, No. 4! What wine would you care to mention?Very well, sir. Will you please to order freshhorses? Not, sir? Very well.’

Each of these expressions was accompanied by something in thenature of a bow, and all were prefaced by something in the natureof a smile, which I could very well have done without. Theman’s politeness was from the teeth outwards; behind andwithin, I was conscious of a perpetual scrutiny: the scene at hisdoorstep, the random confidences of the post-boy, had not beenthrown away on this observer; and it was under a strong fear ofcoming trouble that I was shown at last into my privateroom. I was in half a mind to have put off the wholebusiness. But the truth is, now my name had got abroad, myfear of the mail that was coming, and the handbills it shouldcontain, had waxed inordinately, and I felt I could never eat ameal in peace till I had severed my connection with theclaret-coloured chaise.

Accordingly, as soon as I had done with dinner, I sent mycompliments to the landlord and requested he should take a glassof wine with me. He came; we exchanged the necessarycivilities, and presently I approached my business.

‘By the bye,’ said I, ‘we had a brush downthe road to-day. I dare say you may have heard ofit?’

He nodded.

‘And I was so unlucky as to get a pistol ball in thepanel of my chaise,’ I continued, ‘which makes itsimply useless to me. Do you know any one likely tobuy?’

‘I can well understand that,’ said the landlord,‘I was looking at it just now; it’s as good asruined, is that chaise. General rule, people don’tlike chaises with bullet-holes.’

‘Too much Romance of the Forest?’ Isuggested, recalling my little friend of the morning, and what Iwas sure had been her favourite reading—Mrs.Radcliffe’s novels.

‘Just so,’ said he. ‘They may beright, they may be wrong; I’m not the judge. But Isuppose it’s natural, after all, for respectable people tolike things respectable about them; not bullet-holes, nor puddlesof blood, nor men with aliases.’

I took a glass of wine and held it up to the light to showthat my hand was steady.

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I suppose so.’

‘You have papers, of course, showing you are the properowner?’ he inquired.

‘There is the bill, stamped and receipted,’ saidI, tossing it across to him.

He looked at it.

‘This all you have?’ he asked.

‘It is enough, at least,’ said I. ‘Itshows you where I bought and what I paid for it.’

‘Well, I don’t know,’ he said.‘You want some paper of identification.’

‘To identify the chaise?’ I inquired.

‘Not at all: to identify you,’ said he.

‘My good sir, remember yourself!’ said I.‘The title-deeds of my estate are in that despatch-box; butyou do not seriously suppose that I should allow you to examinethem?’

‘Well, you see, this paper proves that some Mr. Ramorniepaid seventy guineas for a chaise,’ said the fellow.‘That’s all well and good; but who’s to proveto me that you are Mr. Ramornie?’

‘Fellow!’ cried I.

‘O, fellow as much as you please!’ said he.‘Fellow, with all my heart! That changesnothing. I am fellow, of course—obtrusive fellow,impudent fellow, if you like—but who are you? I hearof you with two names; I hear of you running away with youngladies, and getting cheered for a Frenchman, which seems odd; andone thing I will go bail for, that you were in a blue fright whenthe post-boy began to tell tales at my door. In short, sir,you may be a very good gentleman; but I don’t know enoughabout you, and I’ll trouble you for your papers, or to gobefore a magistrate. Take your choice; if I’m notfine enough, I hope the magistrates are.’

‘My good man,’ I stammered, for though I had foundmy voice, I could scarce be said to have recovered my wits,‘this is most unusual, most rude. Is it the custom inWestmorland that gentlemen should be insulted?’

‘That depends,’ said he. ‘Whenit’s suspected that gentlemen are spies it is thecustom; and a good custom, too. No no,’ he broke out,perceiving me to make a movement. ‘Both hands uponthe table, my gentleman! I want no pistol balls in mychaise panels.’

‘Surely, sir, you do me strange injustice!’ saidI, now the master of myself. ‘You see me sittinghere, a monument of tranquillity: pray may I help myself to winewithout umbraging you?’

I took this attitude in sheer despair. I had no plan, nohope. The best I could imagine was to spin the business outsome minutes longer, then capitulate. At least, I would notcapituatle one moment too soon.

‘Am I to take that for no?’ he asked.

‘Referring to your former obliging proposal?’ saidI. ‘My good sir, you are to take it, as you say, for“No.” Certainly I will not show you my deeds;certainly I will not rise from table and trundle out to see yourmagistrates. I have too much respect for my digestion, andtoo little curiosity in justices of the peace.’

He leaned forward, looked me nearly in the face, and reachedout one hand to the bell-rope. ‘See here, my finefellow!’ said he. ‘Do you see thatbell-rope? Let me tell you, there’s a boy waitingbelow: one jingle, and he goes to fetch the constable.’

‘Do you tell me so?’ said I. ‘Well,there’s no accounting for tastes! I have a prejudiceagainst the society of constables, but if it is your fancy tohave one in for the dessert—’ I shrugged myshoulders lightly. ‘Really, you know,’ I added,‘this is vastly entertaining. I assure you, I amlooking on, with all the interest of a man of the world, at thedevelopment of your highly original character.’

He continued to study my face without speech, his hand stillon the button of the bell-rope, his eyes in mine; this was thedecisive heat. My face seemed to myself to dislimn underhis gaze, my expression to change, the smile (with which I hadbegan) to degenerate into the grin of the man upon therack. I was besides harassed with doubts. An innocentman, I argued, would have resented the fellow’s impudencean hour ago; and by my continued endurance of the ordeal, I wassimply signing and sealing my confession; in short, I had reachedthe end of my powers.

‘Have you any objection to my putting my hands in mybreeches pockets?’ I inquired. ‘Excuse mementioning it, but you showed yourself so extremely nervous amoment back.’ My voice was not all I could havewished, but it sufficed. I could hear it tremble, but thelandlord apparently could not. He turned away and drew along breath, and you may be sure I was quick to follow hisexample.

‘You’re a cool hand at least, and that’s thesort I like,’ said he. ‘Be you what you please,I’ll deal square. I’ll take the chaise for ahundred pound down, and throw the dinner in.’

‘I beg your pardon,’ I cried, wholly mystified bythis form of words.

‘You pay me a hundred down,’ he repeated,‘and I’ll take the chaise. It’s verylittle more than it cost,’ he added, with a grin,‘and you know you must get it off your handssomehow.’

I do not know when I have been better entertained than by thisimpudent proposal. It was broadly funny, and I suppose theleast tempting offer in the world. For all that, it camevery welcome, for it gave me the occasion to laugh. This Idid with the most complete abandonment, till the tears ran downmy cheeks; and ever and again, as the fit abated, I would getanother view of the landlord’s face, and go off intoanother paroxysm.

‘You droll creature, you will be the death of meyet!’ I cried, drying my eyes.

My friend was now wholly disconcerted; he knew not where tolook, nor yet what to say; and began for the first time toconceive it possible he was mistaken.

‘You seem rather to enjoy a laugh, sir,’ saidhe.

‘O, yes! I am quite an original,’ I replied,and laughed again.

Presently, in a changed voice, he offered me twenty pounds forthe chaise; I ran him up to twenty-five, and closed with theoffer: indeed, I was glad to get anything; and if I haggled, itwas not in the desire of gain, but with the view at any price ofsecuring a safe retreat. For although hostilities weresuspended, he was yet far from satisfied; and I could read hiscontinued suspicions in the cloudy eye that still hovered aboutmy face. At last they took shape in words.

‘This is all very well,’ says he: ‘you carryit off well; but for all that, I must do my duty.’

I had my strong effect in reserve; it was to burn my shipswith a vengeance! I rose. ‘Leave theroom,’ said I. ‘This is insuperable. Isthe man mad?’ And then, as if already half-ashamed ofmy passion: ‘I can take a joke as well as any one,’ Iadded; ‘but this passes measure. Send my servant andthe bill.’

When he had left me alone, I considered my own valour withamazement. I had insulted him; I had sent him away alone;now, if ever, he would take what was the only sensible resource,and fetch the constable. But there was somethinginstinctively treacherous about the man which shrank from plaincourses. And, with all his cleverness, he missed theoccasion of fame. Rowley and I were suffered to walk out ofhis door, with all our baggage, on foot, with no destinationnamed, except in the vague statement that we were come ‘toview the lakes’; and my friend only watched our departurewith his chin in his hand, still moodily irresolute.

I think this one of my great successes. I was exposed,unmasked, summoned to do a perfectly natural act, which mustprove my doom and which I had not the slightest pretext forrefusing. I kept my head, stuck to my guns, and, againstall likelihood, here I was once more at liberty and in theking’s highway. This was a strong lesson never todespair; and, at the same time, how many hints to be cautious!and what a perplexed and dubious business the whole question ofmy escape now appeared! That I should have risked perishingupon a trumpery question of a pourboire, depicted inlively colours the perils that perpetually surrounded us.Though, to be sure, the initial mistake had been committed beforethat; and if I had not suffered myself to be drawn a little deepin confidences to the innocent Dolly, there need have been notumble at the inn of Kirkby-Lonsdale. I took the lesson toheart, and promised myself in the future to be morereserved. It was none of my business to attend to brokenchaises or shipwrecked travellers. I had my hands full ofmy own affairs; and my best defence would be a little morenatural selfishness and a trifle less imbecile good-nature.


I pass over the next fifty or sixty leagues of our journeywithout comment. The reader must be growing weary of scenesof travel; and for my own part I have no cause to recall theseparticular miles with any pleasure. We were mainly occupiedwith attempts to obliterate our trail, which (as the resultshowed) were far from successful; for, on my cousin following, hewas able to run me home with the least possible loss of time,following the claret-coloured chaise to Kirkby-Lonsdale, where Ithink the landlord must have wept to learn what he had missed,and tracing us thereafter to the doors of the coach-office inEdinburgh without a single check. Fortune did not favourme, and why should I recapitulate the details of futileprecautions which deceived nobody, and wearisome arts whichproved to be artless?

The day was drawing to an end when Mr. Rowley and I bowledinto Edinburgh to the stirring sound of the guard’s bugleand the clattering team. I was here upon my field ofbattle; on the scene of my former captivity, escape and exploits;and in the same city with my love. My heart expanded; Ihave rarely felt more of a hero. All down the Bridges I satby the driver with my arms folded and my face set, unflinchinglymeeting every eye, and prepared every moment for a cry ofrecognition. Hundreds of the population were in the habitof visiting the Castle, where it was my practice (before the daysof Flora) to make myself conspicuous among the prisoners; and Ithink it an extraordinary thing that I should have encountered sofew to recognise me. But doubtless a clean chin is adisguise in itself; and the change is great from a suit ofsulphur-yellow to fine linen, a well-fitting mouse-colouredgreat-coat furred in black, a pair of tight trousers offashionable cut, and a hat of inimitable curl. After all,it was more likely that I should have recognised our visitors,than that they should have identified the modish gentleman withthe miserable prisoner in the Castle.

I was glad to set foot on the flagstones, and to escape fromthe crowd that had assembled to receive the mail. Here wewere, with but little daylight before us, and that on Saturdayafternoon, the eve of the famous Scottish Sabbath, adrift in theNew Town of Edinburgh, and overladen with baggage. Wecarried it ourselves. I would not take a cab, nor so muchas hire a porter, who might afterwards serve as a link between mylodgings and the mail, and connect me again with theclaret-coloured chaise and Aylesbury. For I was resolved tobreak the chain of evidence for good, and to begin life afresh(so far as regards caution) with a new character. The firststep was to find lodgings, and to find them quickly. Thiswas the more needful as Mr. Rowley and I, in our smart clothesand with our cumbrous burthen, made a noticeable appearance inthe streets at that time of the day and in that quarter of thetown, which was largely given up to fine folk, bucks and dandiesand young ladies, or respectable professional men on their wayhome to dinner.

On the north side of St. James’ Square I was so happy asto spy a bill in a third-floor window. I was equallyindifferent to cost and convenience in my choice of alodging—‘any port in a storm’ was the principleon which I was prepared to act; and Rowley and I made at once forthe common entrance and sealed the stair.

We were admitted by a very sour-looking female inbombazine. I gathered she had all her life been depressedby a series of bereavements, the last of which might very wellhave befallen her the day before; and I instinctively lowered myvoice when I addressed her. She admitted she had rooms tolet—even showed them to us—a sitting-room and bedroomin a suite, commanding a fine prospect to the Firth andFifeshire, and in themselves well proportioned and comfortablyfurnished, with pictures on the wall, shells on the mantelpiece,and several books upon the table which I found afterwards to beall of a devotional character, and all presentation copies,‘to my Christian friend,’ or ‘to my devoutacquaintance in the Lord, Bethiah McRankine.’ Beyondthis my ‘Christian friend’ could not be made toadvance: no, not even to do that which seemed the most naturaland pleasing thing in the world—I mean to name herprice—but stood before us shaking her head, and at timesmourning like the dove, the picture of depression anddefence. She had a voice the most querulous I have everheard, and with this she produced a whole regiment ofdifficulties and criticisms.

She could not promise an attendance.

‘Well, madam,’ said I, ‘and what is myservant for?’

‘Him?’ she asked. ‘Be gude tous! Is he your servant?’

‘I am sorry, ma’am, he meets with yourdisapproval.’

‘Na, I never said that. But he’syoung. He’ll be a great breaker, I’mthinkin’. Ay! he’ll be a great responsibeelityto ye, like. Does he attend to his releegion?’

‘Yes, m’m,’ returned Rowley, with admirablepromptitude, and, immediately closing his eyes, as if from habit,repeated the following distich with more celerity thanfervour:—

‘Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
Bless the bed that I lie on!’

‘Nhm!’ said the lady, and maintained an awfulsilence.

‘Well, ma’am,’ said I, ‘it seems weare never to hear the beginning of your terms, let alone the endof them. Come—a good movement! and let us be eitheroff or on.’

She opened her lips slowly. ‘Onyraferences?’ she inquired, in a voice like a bell.

I opened my pocket-book and showed her a handful of bankbills. ‘I think, madam, that these areunexceptionable,’ said I.

‘Ye’ll be wantin’ breakfast late?’ washer reply.

‘Madam, we want breakfast at whatever hour it suits youto give it, from four in the morning till four in theafternoon!’ I cried. ‘Only tell us your figure,if your mouth be large enough to let it out!’

‘I couldnae give ye supper the nicht,’ came theecho.

‘We shall go out to supper, you incorrigiblefemale!’ I vowed, between laughter and tears.‘Here—this is going to end! I want you for alandlady—let me tell you that!—and I am going to havemy way. You won’t tell me what you charge? Verywell; I will do without! I can trust you! Youdon’t seem to know when you have a good lodger; but I knowperfectly when I have an honest landlady! Rowley, unstrapthe valises!’

Will it be credited? The monomaniac fell to rating mefor my indiscretion! But the battle was over; these wereher last guns, and more in the nature of a salute than of renewedhostilities. And presently she condescended on verymoderate terms, and Rowley and I were able to escape in quest ofsupper. Much time had, however, been lost; the sun was longdown, the lamps glimmered along the streets, and the voice of awatchman already resounded in the neighbouring Leith Road.On our first arrival I had observed a place of entertainment notfar off, in a street behind the Register House. Thither wefound our way, and sat down to a late dinner alone. But wehad scarce given our orders before the door opened, and a tallyoung fellow entered with something of a lurch, looked about him,and approached the same table.

‘Give you good evening, most grave and reverendseniors!’ said he. ‘Will you permit a wanderer,a pilgrim—the pilgrim of love, in short—to come totemporary anchor under your lee? I care not who knows it,but I have a passionate aversion from the bestial practice ofsolitary feeding!’

‘You are welcome, sir,’ said I, ‘if I maytake upon me so far to play the host in a publicplace.’

He looked startled, and fixed a hazy eye on me, as he satdown.

‘Sir,’ said he, ‘you are a man not withoutsome tincture of letters, I perceive! What shall we drink,sir?’

I mentioned I had already called for a pot of porter.

‘A modest pot—the seasonable quencher?’ saidhe. ‘Well, I do not know but what I could look at amodest pot myself! I am, for the moment, in precarioushealth. Much study hath heated my brain, much walkingwearied my—well, it seems to be more my eyes!’

‘You have walked far, I dare say?’ Isuggested.

‘Not so much far as often,’ he replied.‘There is in this city—to which, I think, you are astranger? Sir, to your very good health and our betteracquaintance!—there is, in this city of Dunedin, a certainimplication of streets which reflects the utmost credit on thedesigner and the publicans—at every hundred yards is seatedthe Judicious Tavern, so that persons of contemplative mind aresecure, at moderate distances, of refreshment. I have beendoing a trot in that favoured quarter, favoured by art andnature. A few chosen comrades—enemies of publicityand friends to wit and wine—obliged me with theirsociety. “Along the cool, sequestered vale ofRegister Street we kept the uneven tenor of our way,”sir.’

‘It struck me, as you came in—’ I began.

‘O, don’t make any bones about it!’ heinterrupted. ‘Of course it struck you! and let metell you I was devilish lucky not to strike myself. When Ientered this apartment I shone “with all the pomp andprodigality of brandy and water,” as the poet Gray has inanother place expressed it. Powerful bard, Gray! but animiny-piminy creature, afraid of a petticoat and abottle—not a man, sir, not a man! Excuse me for beingso troublesome, but what the devil have I done with myfork? Thank you, I am sure. Temulentia,quoad me ipsum, brevis colligo est. I sit andeat, sir, in a London fog. I should bring a link-boy totable with me; and I would too, if the little brutes were onlywashed! I intend to found a Philanthropical Society forWashing the Deserving Poor and Shaving Soldiers. I ampleased to observe that, although not of an unmilitary bearing,you are apparently shaved. In my calendar of the virtuesshaving comes next to drinking. A gentleman may be alow-minded ruffian without sixpence, but he will always be closeshaved. See me, with the eye of fancy, in the chill hoursof the morning, say about a quarter to twelve, noon—see meawake! First thing of all, without one thought of theplausible but unsatisfactory small beer, or the healthful thoughinsipid soda-water, I take the deadly razor in my vacillatinggrasp; I proceed to skate upon the margin of eternity.Stimulating thought! I bleed, perhaps, but with medicablewounds. The stubble reaped, I pass out of my chamber, calmbut triumphant. To employ a hackneyed phrase, I would notcall Lord Wellington my uncle! I, too, have dared, perhapsbled, before the imminent deadly shaving-table.’

In this manner the bombastic fellow continued to entertain meall through dinner, and by a common error of drunkards, becausehe had been extremely talkative himself, leaped to the conclusionthat he had chanced on very genial company. He told me hisname, his address; he begged we should meet again; finally heproposed that I should dine with him in the country at an earlydate.

‘The dinner is official,’ he explained.‘The office-bearers and Senatus of the University ofCramond—an educational institution in which I have thehonour to be Professor of Nonsense—meet to do honour to ourfriend Icarus, at the old-established howff, CramondBridge. One place is vacant, fascinating stranger,—Ioffer it to you!’

‘And who is your friend Icarus?’ I asked,

‘The aspiring son of Daedalus!’ said he.‘Is it possible that you have never heard the name ofByfield?’

‘Possible and true,’ said I.

‘And is fame so small a thing?’ cried he.‘Byfield, sir, is an aeronaut. He apes the fame of aLunardi, and is on the point of offering to theinhabitants—I beg your pardon, to the nobility and gentryof our neighbourhood—the spectacle of an ascension.As one of the gentry concerned I may be permitted to remark thatI am unmoved. I care not a Tinker’s Damn for hisascension. No more—I breathe it in yourear—does anybody else. The business is stale, sir,stale. Lunardi did it, and overdid it. A whimsical,fiddling, vain fellow, by all accounts—for I was at thattime rocking in my cradle. But once was enough. IfLunardi went up and came down, there was the mattersettled. We prefer to grant the point. We do not wantto see the experiment repeated ad nauseam by Byfield, andBrown, and Butler, and Brodie, and Bottomley. Ah! if theywould go up and not come down again! But this is bythe question. The University of Cramond delights to honourmerit in the man, sir, rather than utility in the profession; andByfield, though an ignorant dog, is a sound reliable drinker, andreally not amiss over his cups. Under the radiance of thekindly jar partiality might even credit him with wit.’

It will be seen afterwards that this was more my business thanI thought it at the time. Indeed, I was impatient to begone. Even as my friend maundered ahead a squall burst, thejaws of the rain were opened against the coffee-house windows,and at that inclement signal I remembered I was dueelsewhere.


At the door I was nearly blown back by the unbridled violenceof the squall, and Rowley and I must shout our partingwords. All the way along Princes Street (whither my wayled) the wind hunted me behind and screamed in my ears. Thecity was flushed with bucketfuls of rain that tasted salt fromthe neighbouring ocean. It seemed to darken and lightenagain in the vicissitudes of the gusts. Now you would saythe lamps had been blown out from end to end of the longthoroughfare; now, in a lull, they would revive, re-multiply,shine again on the wet pavements, and make darkness sparinglyvisible.

By the time I had got to the corner of the Lothian Road therewas a distinct improvement. For one thing, I had now myshoulder to the wind; for a second, I came in the lee of my oldprison-house, the Castle; and, at any rate, the excessive fury ofthe blast was itself moderating. The thought of what errandI was on re-awoke within me, and I seemed to breast the roughweather with increasing ease. With such a destination, whatmattered a little buffeting of wind or a sprinkle of coldwater? I recalled Flora’s image, I took her in fancyto my arms, and my heart throbbed. And the next moment Ihad recognised the inanity of that fool’s paradise.If I could spy her taper as she went to bed, I might count myselflucky.

I had about two leagues before me of a road mostly uphill, andnow deep in mire. So soon as I was clear of the last streetlamp, darkness received me—a darkness only pointed by thelights of occasional rustic farms, where the dogs howled withuplifted heads as I went by. The wind continued to decline:it had been but a squall, not a tempest. The rain, on theother hand, settled into a steady deluge, which had soon drenchedme thoroughly. I continued to tramp forward in the night,contending with gloomy thoughts and accompanied by the dismalululation of the dogs. What ailed them that they shouldhave been thus wakeful, and perceived the small sound of my stepsamid the general reverberation of the rain, was more than I couldfancy. I remembered tales with which I had been entertainedin childhood. I told myself some murderer was going by, andthe brutes perceived upon him the faint smell of blood; and thenext moment, with a physical shock, I had applied the words to myown case!

Here was a dismal disposition for a lover. ‘Wasever lady in this humour wooed?’ I asked myself, and camenear turning back. It is never wise to risk a criticalinterview when your spirits are depressed, your clothes muddy,and your hands wet! But the boisterous night was in itselffavourable to my enterprise: now, or perhaps never, I might findsome way to have an interview with Flora; and if I had oneinterview (wet clothes, low spirits and all), I told myself therewould certainly be another.

Arrived in the cottage-garden I found the circ*mstances mightyinclement. From the round holes in the shutters of theparlour, shafts of candle-light streamed forth; elsewhere thedarkness was complete. The trees, the thickets, weresaturated; the lower parts of the garden turned into amorass. At intervals, when the wind broke forth again,there passed overhead a wild coil of clashing branches; andbetween whiles the whole enclosure continuously and stridentlyresounded with the rain. I advanced close to the window andcontrived to read the face of my watch. It was half-pastseven; they would not retire before ten, they might not beforemidnight, and the prospect was unpleasant. In a lull of thewind I could hear from the inside the voice of Flora readingaloud; the words of course inaudible—only a flow ofundecipherable speech, quiet, cordial, colourless, more intimateand winning, more eloquent of her personality, but not lessbeautiful than song. And the next moment the clamour of afresh squall broke out about the cottage; the voice was drownedin its bellowing, and I was glad to retreat from my dangerouspost.

For three egregious hours I must now suffer the elements to dotheir worst upon me, and continue to hold my ground inpatience. I recalled the least fortunate of my services inthe field: being out-sentry of the pickets in weather no lessvile, sometimes unsuppered and with nothing to look forward to byway of breakfast but musket-balls; and they seemed light incomparison. So strangely are we built: so much more strongis the love of woman than the mere love of life.

At last my patience was rewarded. The light disappearedfrom the parlour and reappeared a moment after in the roomabove. I was pretty well informed for the enterprise thatlay before me. I knew the lair of the dragon—thatwhich was just illuminated. I knew the bower of myRosamond, and how excellently it was placed on the ground-level,round the flank of the cottage and out of earshot of herformidable aunt. Nothing was left but to apply myknowledge. I was then at the bottom of the garden, whetherI had gone (Heaven save the mark!) for warmth, that I might walkto and fro unheard and keep myself from perishing. Thenight had fallen still, the wind ceased; the noise of the rainhad much lightened, if it had not stopped, and was succeeded bythe dripping of the garden trees. In the midst of thislull, and as I was already drawing near to the cottage, I wasstartled by the sound of a window-sash screaming in its channels;and a step or two beyond I became aware of a gush of light uponthe darkness. It fell from Flora’s window, which shehad flung open on the night, and where she now sat, roseate andpensive, in the shine of two candles falling from behind, hertresses deeply embowering and shading her; the suspended combstill in one hand, the other idly clinging to the iron stanchionswith which the window was barred.

Keeping to the turf, and favoured by the darkness of the nightand the patter of the rain which was now returning, thoughwithout wind, I approached until I could almost have touchedher. It seemed a grossness of which I was incapable tobreak up her reverie by speech. I stood and drank her inwith my eyes; how the light made a glory in her hair, and (what Ihave always thought the most ravishing thing in nature) how theplanes ran into each other, and were distinguished, and how thehues blended and varied, and were shaded off, between the cheekand neck. At first I was abashed: she wore her beauty likean immediate halo of refinement; she discouraged me like anangel, or what I suspect to be the next most discouraging, amodern lady. But as I continued to gaze, hope and lifereturned to me; I forgot my timidity, I forgot the sickening packof wet clothes with which I stood burdened, I tingled with newblood.

Still unconscious of my presence, still gazing before her uponthe illuminated image of the window, the straight shadows of thebars, the glinting of pebbles on the path, and the impenetrablenight on the garden and the hills beyond it, she heaved a deepbreath that struck upon my heart like an appeal.

‘Why does Miss Gilchrist sigh?’ I whispered.‘Does she recall absent friends?’

She turned her head swiftly in my direction; it was the onlysign of surprise she deigned to make. At the same time Istepped into the light and bowed profoundly.

‘You!’ she said. ‘Here?’

‘Yes, I am here,’ I replied. ‘I havecome very far, it may be a hundred and fifty leagues, to seeyou. I have waited all this night in your garden.Will Miss Gilchrist not offer her hand—to a friend introuble?’

She extended it between the bars, and I dropped upon one kneeon the wet path and kissed it twice. At the second it waswithdrawn suddenly, methought with more of a start than she hadhitherto displayed. I regained my former attitude, and wewere both silent awhile. My timidity returned on metenfold. I looked in her face for any signals of anger, andseeing her eyes to waver and fall aside from mine, augured thatall was well.

‘You must have been mad to come here!’ she brokeout. ‘Of all places under heaven this is no place foryou to come. And I was just thinking you were safe inFrance!’

‘You were thinking of me!’ I cried.

‘Mr. St. Ives, you cannot understand your danger,’she replied. ‘I am sure of it, and yet I cannot findit in my heart to tell you. O, be persuaded, andgo!’

‘I believe I know the worst. But I was never oneto set an undue value on life, the life that we share withbeasts. My university has been in the wars, not a famousplace of education, but one where a man learns to carry his lifein his hand as lightly as a glove, and for his lady or his honourto lay it as lightly down. You appeal to my fears, and youdo wrong. I have come to Scotland with my eyes quite opento see you and to speak with you—it may be for the lasttime. With my eyes quite open, I say; and if I did nothesitate at the beginning do you think that I would draw backnow?’

‘You do not know!’ she cried, with risingagitation. ‘This country, even this garden, is deathto you. They all believe it; I am the only one that doesnot. If they hear you now, if they heard a whisper—Idread to think of it. O, go, go this instant. It ismy prayer.’

‘Dear lady, do not refuse me what I have come so far toseek; and remember that out of all the millions in England thereis no other but yourself in whom I can dare confide. I haveall the world against me; you are my only ally; and as I have tospeak, you have to listen. All is true that they say of me,and all of it false at the same time. I did kill this manGoguelat—it was that you meant?’

She mutely signed to me that it was; she had become deadlypale.

‘But I killed him in fair fight. Till then, I hadnever taken a life unless in battle, which is my trade. ButI was grateful, I was on fire with gratitude, to one who had beengood to me, who had been better to me than I could have dreamedof an angel, who had come into the darkness of my prison likesunrise. The man Goguelat insulted her. O, he hadinsulted me often, it was his favourite pastime, and he mightinsult me as he pleased—for who was I? But with thatlady it was different. I could never forgive myself if Ihad let it pass. And we fought, and he fell, and I have noremorse.’

I waited anxiously for some reply. The worst was nowout, and I knew that she had heard of it before; but it wasimpossible for me to go on with my narrative without some shadowof encouragement.

‘You blame me?’

‘No, not at all. It is a point I cannot speakon—I am only a girl. I am sure you were in the right:I have always said so—to Ronald. Not, of course, tomy aunt. I am afraid I let her speak as she will. Youmust not think me a disloyal friend; and even with theMajor—I did not tell you he had become quite a friend ofours—Major Chevenix, I mean—he has taken such a fancyto Ronald! It was he that brought the news to us of thathateful Clausel being captured, and all that he was saying.I was indignant with him. I said—I dare say I saidtoo much—and I must say he was very good-natured. Hesaid, “You and I, who are his friends, know thatChampdivers is innocent. But what is the use of sayingit?” All this was in the corner of the room in whatthey call an aside. And then he said, “Give me achance to speak to you in private, I have much to tellyou.” And he did. And told me just what youdid—that it was an affair of honour, and no blame attachedto you. O, I must say I like that MajorChevenix!’

At this I was seized with a great pang of jealousy. Iremembered the first time that he had seen her, the interest thathe seemed immediately to conceive; and I could not but admire thedog for the use he had been ingenious enough to make of ouracquaintance in order to supplant me. All is fair in loveand war. For all that, I was now no less anxious to do thespeaking myself than I had been before to hear Flora. Atleast, I could keep clear of the hateful image of MajorChevenix. Accordingly I burst at once on the narrative ofmy adventures. It was the same as you have read, butbriefer, and told with a very different purpose. Now everyincident had a particular bearing, every by-way branched off toRome—and that was Flora.

When I had begun to speak I had kneeled upon the gravelwithoutside the low window, rested my arms upon the sill, andlowered my voice to the most confidential whisper. Floraherself must kneel upon the other side, and this brought ourheads upon a level with only the bars between us. Soplaced, so separated, it seemed that our proximity, and thecontinuous and low sounds of my pleading voice, workedprogressively and powerfully on her heart, and perhaps not lessso on my own. For these spells are double-edged. Thesilly birds may be charmed with the pipe of the fowler, which isbut a tube of reeds. Not so with a bird of our ownfeather! As I went on, and my resolve strengthened, and myvoice found new modulations, and our faces were drawn closer tothe bars and to each other, not only she, but I, succumbed to thefascination, and were kindled by the charm. We make love,and thereby ourselves fall the deeper in it. It is with theheart only that one captures a heart.

‘And now,’ I continued, ‘I will tell youwhat you can still do for me. I run a little risk just now,and you see for yourself how unavoidable it is for any man ofhonour. But if—but in case of the worst I do notchoose to enrich either my enemies or the Prince Regent. Ihave here the bulk of what my uncle gave me. Eight thousandodd pounds. Will you take care of it for me? Do notthink of it merely as money; take and keep it as a relic of yourfriend or some precious piece of him. I may have bitterneed of it ere long. Do you know the old country story ofthe giant who gave his heart to his wife to keep for him,thinking it safer to repose on her loyalty than his ownstrength? Flora, I am the giant—a very little one:will you be the keeper of my life? It is my heart I offeryou in this symbol. In the sight of God, if you will haveit, I give you my name, I endow you with my money. If theworst come, if I may never hope to call you wife, let me at leastthink that you will use my uncle’s legacy as mywidow.’

‘No, not that,’ she said. ‘Neverthat.’

‘What then?’ I said. ‘What else, myangel? What are words to me? There is but one namethat I care to know you by. Flora, my love!’

‘Anne!’ she said.

What sound is so full of music as one’s own name utteredfor the first time in the voice of her we love!

‘My darling!’ said I.

The jealous bars, set at the top and bottom in stone and lime,obstructed the rapture of the moment; but I took her to myself aswholly as they allowed. She did not shun my lips. Myarms were wound round her body, which yielded itself generouslyto my embrace. As we so remained, entwined and yet severed,bruising our faces unconsciously on the cold bars, the irony ofthe universe—or as I prefer to say, envy of some of thegods—again stirred up the elements of that stormynight. The wind blew again in the tree-tops; a volley ofcold sea-rain deluged the garden, and, as the deuce would haveit, a gutter which had been hitherto choked up began suddenly toplay upon my head and shoulders with the vivacity of afountain. We parted with a shock; I sprang to my feet, andshe to hers, as though we had been discovered. A momentafter, but now both standing, we had again approached the windowon either side.

‘Flora,’ I said, ‘this is but a poor offer Ican make you.’

She took my hand in hers and clasped it to her bosom.

‘Rich enough for a queen!’ she said, with a liftin her breathing that was more eloquent than words.‘Anne, my brave Anne! I would be glad to be yourmaidservant; I could envy that boy Rowley. But, no!’she broke off, ‘I envy no one—I need not—I amyours.’

‘Mine,’ said I, ‘for ever! By this andthis, mine!’

‘All of me,’ she repeated. ‘Altogetherand forever!’

And if the god were envious, he must have seen withmortification how little he could do to mar the happiness ofmortals. I stood in a mere waterspout; she herself was wet,not from my embrace only, but from the splashing of thestorm. The candles had guttered out; we were indarkness. I could scarce see anything but the shining ofher eyes in the dark room. To her I must have appeared as asilhouette, haloed by rain and the spouting of the ancient Gothicgutter above my head.

Presently we became more calm and confidential; and when thatsquall, which proved to be the last of the storm, had blown by,fell into a talk of ways and means. It seemed she knew Mr.Robbie, to whom I had been so slenderly accredited byRomaine—was even invited to his house for the evening ofMonday, and gave me a sketch of the old gentleman’scharacter which implied a great deal of penetration in herself,and proved of great use to me in the immediate sequel. Itseemed he was an enthusiastic antiquary, and in particular afanatic of heraldry. I heard it with delight, for I wasmyself, thanks to M. de Culemberg, fairly grounded in thatscience, and acquainted with the blazons of most families of notein Europe. And I had made up my mind—even as shespoke, it was my fixed determination, though I was a hundredmiles from saying it—to meet Flora on Monday night as afellow-guest in Mr. Robbie’s house.

I gave her my money—it was, of course, only paper I hadbrought. I gave it her, to be her marriage-portion, Ideclared.

‘Not so bad a marriage-portion for a privatesoldier,’ I told her, laughing, as I passed it through thebars.

‘O, Anne, and where am I to keep it?’ shecried. ‘If my aunt should find it! What would Isay!’

‘Next your heart,’ I suggested.

‘Then you will always be near your treasure,’ shecried, ‘for you are always there!’

We were interrupted by a sudden clearness that fell upon thenight. The clouds dispersed; the stars shone in every partof the heavens; and, consulting my watch, I was startled to findit already hard on five in the morning.


It was indeed high time I should be gone from Swanston; butwhat I was to do in the meanwhile was another question.Rowley had received his orders last night: he was to say that Ihad met a friend, and Mrs. McRankine was not to expect me beforemorning. A good enough tale in itself; but the dreadfulpickle I was in made it out of the question. I could not gohome till I had found harbourage, a fire to dry my clothes at,and a bed where I might lie till they were ready.

Fortune favoured me again. I had scarce got to the topof the first hill when I spied a light on my left, about afurlong away. It might be a case of sickness; what else itwas likely to be—in so rustic a neighbourhood, and at suchan ungodly time of the morning—was beyond my fancy. Afaint sound of singing became audible, and gradually swelled as Idrew near, until at last I could make out the words, which weresingularly appropriate both to the hour and to the condition ofthe singers. ‘The co*ck may craw, the day maydaw,’ they sang; and sang it with such laxity both in timeand tune, and such sentimental complaisance in the expression, asassured me they had got far into the third bottle at least.

I found a plain rustic cottage by the wayside, of the sortcalled double, with a signboard over the door; and, the lightswithin streaming forth and somewhat mitigating the darkness ofthe morning, I was enabled to decipher the inscription:‘The Hunters’ Tryst, by Alexander Hendry.Porter Ales, and British Spirits. Beds.’

My first knock put a period to the music, and a voicechallenged tipsily from within.

‘Who goes there?’ it said; and I replied, ‘Alawful traveller.’

Immediately after, the door was unbarred by a company of thetallest lads my eyes had ever rested on, all astonishingly drunkand very decently dressed, and one (who was perhaps the drunkestof the lot) carrying a tallow candle, from which he impartiallybedewed the clothes of the whole company. As soon as I sawthem I could not help smiling to myself to remember the anxietywith which I had approached. They received me and myhastily-concocted story, that I had been walking from Peebles andhad lost my way, with incoherent benignity; jostled me among theminto the room where they had been sitting, a plain hedgerowalehouse parlour, with a roaring fire in the chimney and aprodigious number of empty bottles on the floor; and informed methat I was made, by this reception, a temporary member of theSix-Feet-High Club, an athletic society of young men in agood station, who made of the Hunters’ Tryst a frequentresort. They told me I had intruded on an ‘all-nightsitting,’ following upon an ‘all-day Saturdaytramp’ of forty miles; and that the members would all be upand ‘as right as ninepence’ for the noonday serviceat some neighbouring church—Collingwood, if memory servesme right. At this I could have laughed, but the momentseemed ill-chosen. For, though six feet was their standard,they all exceeded that measurement considerably; and I tastedagain some of the sensations of childhood, as I looked up to allthese lads from a lower plane, and wondered what they would donext. But the Six-Footers, if they were very drunk, provedno less kind. The landlord and servants of theHunters’ Tryst were in bed and asleep long ago.Whether by natural gift or acquired habit they could sufferpandemonium to reign all over the house, and yet lie ranked inthe kitchen like Egyptian mummies, only that the sound of theirsnoring rose and fell ceaselessly like the drone of abagpipe. Here the Six-Footers invaded them—in theircitadel, so to speak; counted the bunks and the sleepers;proposed to put me in bed to one of the lasses, proposed to haveone of the lasses out to make room for me, fell over chairs, andmade noise enough to waken the dead: the whole illuminated by thesame young torch-bearer, but now with two candles, and rapidlybeginning to look like a man in a snowstorm. At last a bedwas found for me, my clothes were hung out to dry before theparlour fire, and I was mercifully left to my repose.

I awoke about nine with the sun shining in my eyes. Thelandlord came at my summons, brought me my clothes dried anddecently brushed, and gave me the good news that theSix-Feet-High Club were all abed and sleeping off theirexcesses. Where they were bestowed was a puzzle to me until(as I was strolling about the garden patch waiting for breakfast)I came on a barn door, and, looking in, saw all the red facemixed in the straw like plums in a cake. Quoth the stalwartmaid who brought me my porridge and bade me ’eat them whilethey were hot,’ ‘Ay, they were a’ on theran-dan last nicht! Hout! they’re fine lads, andthey’ll be nane the waur of it. Forby Farbes’scoat. I dinna see wha’s to get the creish offthat!’ she added, with a sigh; in which, identifying Forbesas the torch-bearer, I mentally joined.

It was a brave morning when I took the road; the sun shone,spring seemed in the air, it smelt like April or May, and someover-venturous birds sang in the coppices as I went by. Ihad plenty to think of, plenty to be grateful for, that gallantmorning; and yet I had a twitter at my heart. To enter thecity by daylight might be compared to marching on a battery;every face that I confronted would threaten me like the muzzle ofa gun; and it came into my head suddenly with how much better acountenance I should be able to do it if I could but improvise acompanion. Hard by Merchiston I was so fortunate as toobserve a bulky gentleman in broadcloth and gaiters, stoopingwith his head almost between his knees, before a stonewall. Seizing occasion by the forelock, I drew up as I camealongside and inquired what he had found to interest him.

He turned upon me a countenance not much less broad than hisback.

‘Why, sir,’ he replied, ‘I was evenmarvelling at my own indefeasible stupeedity: that I should walkthis way every week of my life, weather permitting, and shouldnever before have notticed that stone,’ touching itat the same time with a goodly oak staff.

I followed the indication. The stone, which had beenbuilt sideways into the wall, offered traces of heraldicsculpture. At once there came a wild idea into my mind: hisappearance tallied with Flora’s description of Mr. Robbie;a knowledge of heraldry would go far to clinch the proof; andwhat could be more desirable than to scrape an informalacquaintance with the man whom I must approach next day with mytale of the drovers, and whom I yet wished to please? Istooped in turn.

‘A chevron,’ I said; ‘on a chief threemullets? Looks like Douglas, does it not?’

‘Yes, sir, it does; you are right,’ said he:‘it does look like Douglas; though, without thetinctures, and the whole thing being so battered and broken up,who shall venture an opinion? But allow me to be morepersonal, sir. In these degenerate days I am astonished youshould display so much proficiency.’

‘O, I was well grounded in my youth by an old gentleman,a friend of my family, and I may say my guardian,’ said I;‘but I have forgotten it since. God forbid I shoulddelude you into thinking me a herald, sir! I am only anungrammatical amateur.’

‘And a little modesty does no harm even in aherald,’ says my new acquaintance graciously.

In short, we fell together on our onward way, and maintainedvery amicable discourse along what remained of the country road,past the suburbs, and on into the streets of the New Town, whichwas as deserted and silent as a city of the dead. The shopswere closed, no vehicle ran, cats sported in the midst of thesunny causeway; and our steps and voices re-echoed from the quiethouses. It was the high-water, full and strange, of thatweekly trance to which the city of Edinburgh is subjected: theapotheosis of the Sawbath; and I confess the spectaclewanted not grandeur, however much it may have lackedcheerfulness. There are few religious ceremonies moreimposing. As we thus walked and talked in a publicseclusion the bells broke out ringing through all the bounds ofthe city, and the streets began immediately to be thronged withdecent church-goers.

‘Ah!’ said my companion, ‘there are thebells! Now, sir, as you are a stranger I must offer you thehospitality of my pew. I do not know whether you are at allused with our Scottish form; but in case you are not I will findyour places for you; and Dr. Henry Gray, of St. Mary’s(under whom I sit), is as good a preacher as we have to showyou.’

This put me in a quandary. It was a degree of risk I wasscarce prepared for. Dozens of people, who might pass me byin the street with no more than a second look, would go on fromthe second to the third, and from that to a final recognition, ifI were set before them, immobilised in a pew, during the wholetime of service. An unlucky turn of the head would sufficeto arrest their attention. ‘Who is that?’ theywould think: ‘surely I should know him!’ and, achurch being the place in all the world where one has least tothink of, it was ten to one they would end by remembering mebefore the benediction. However, my mind was made up: Ithanked my obliging friend, and placed myself at hisdisposal.

Our way now led us into the north-east quarter of the town,among pleasant new faubourgs, to a decent new church of a goodsize, where I was soon seated by the side of my good Samaritan,and looked upon by a whole congregation of menacing faces.At first the possibility of danger kept me awake; but by the timeI had assured myself there was none to be apprehended, and theservice was not in the least likely to be enlivened by the arrestof a French spy, I had to resign myself to the task of listeningto Dr. Henry Gray.

As we moved out, after this ordeal was over, my friend was atonce surrounded and claimed by his acquaintances of thecongregation; and I was rejoiced to hear him addressed by theexpected name of Robbie.

So soon as we were clear of the crowd—‘Mr.Robbie?’ said I, bowing.

‘The very same, sir,’ said he.

‘If I mistake not, a lawyer?’

‘A writer to His Majesty’s Signet, at yourservice.’

‘It seems we were predestined to beacquaintances!’ I exclaimed. ‘I have here acard in my pocket intended for you. It is from my familylawyer. It was his last word, as I was leaving, to ask tobe remembered kindly, and to trust you would pass over soinformal an introduction.’

And I offered him the card.

‘Ay, ay, my old friend Daniel!’ says he, lookingon the card. ‘And how does my old friendDaniel?’

I gave a favourable view of Mr. Romaine’s health.

‘Well, this is certainly a whimsical incident,’ hecontinued. ‘And since we are thus metalready—and so much to my advantage!—the simplestthing will be to prosecute the acquaintance instantly. Letme propose a snack between sermons, a bottle of my particulargreen seal—and when nobody is looking we can talk blazons,Mr. Ducie!’—which was the name I then used and hadalready incidentally mentioned, in the vain hope of provoking areturn in kind.

‘I beg your pardon, sir: do I understand you to inviteme to your house?’ said I.

‘That was the idea I was trying to convey,’ saidhe. ‘We have the name of hospitable people up here,and I would like you to try mine.’

‘Mr. Robbie, I shall hope to try it some day, but notyet,’ I replied. ‘I hope you will notmisunderstand me. My business, which brings me to yourcity, is of a peculiar kind. Till you shall have heard it,and, indeed, till its issue is known, I should feel as if I hadstolen your invitation.’

‘Well, well,’ said he, a little sobered, ‘itmust be as you wish, though you would hardly speak otherwise ifyou had committed homicide! Mine is the loss. I musteat alone; a very pernicious thing for a person of my habit ofbody, content myself with a pint of skinking claret, and meditatethe discourse. But about this business of yours: if it isso particular as all that, it will doubtless admit of nodelay.’

‘I must confess, sir, it presses,’ Iacknowledged.

‘Then, let us say to-morrow at half-past eight in themorning,’ said he; ‘and I hope, when your mind is atrest (and it does you much honour to take it as you do), that youwill sit down with me to the postponed meal, not forgetting thebottle. You have my address?’ he added, and gave itme—which was the only thing I wanted.

At last, at the level of York Place, we parted with mutualcivilities, and I was free to pursue my way, through the mobs ofpeople returning from church, to my lodgings in St. James’Square.

Almost at the house door whom should I overtake but mylandlady in a dress of gorgeous severity, and dragging a prize inher wake: no less than Rowley, with the co*ckade in his hat, and asmart pair of tops to his boots! When I said he was in thelady’s wake I spoke but in metaphor. As a matter offact he was squiring her, with the utmost dignity, on his arm;and I followed them up the stairs, smiling to myself.

Both were quick to salute me as soon as I was perceived, andMrs. McRankine inquired where I had been. I told herboastfully, giving her the name of the church and the divine, andignorantly supposing I should have gained caste. But shesoon opened my eyes. In the roots of the Scottish characterthere are knots and contortions that not only no stranger canunderstand, but no stranger can follow; he walks amongexplosives; and his best course is to throw himself upon theirmercy—‘Just as I am, without one plea,’ acitation from one of the lady’s favourite hymns.

The sound she made was unmistakable in meaning, though it wasimpossible to be written down; and I at once executed themanoeuvre I have recommended.

‘You must remember I am a perfect stranger in yourcity,’ said I. ‘If I have done wrong, it was inmere ignorance, my dear lady; and this afternoon, if you will beso good as to take me, I shall accompany you.’

But she was not to be pacified at the moment, and departed toher own quarters murmuring.

‘Well, Rowley,’ said I; ‘and have you beento church?’

‘If you please, sir,’ he said.

‘Well, you have not been any less unlucky than Ihave,’ I returned. ‘And how did you get on withthe Scottish form?’

‘Well, sir, it was pretty ’ard, the form was, andreether narrow,’ he replied. ‘I don’tknow w’y it is, but it seems to me like as if things were agood bit changed since William Wallace! That was a mainqueer church she took me to, Mr. Anne! I don’t knowas I could have sat it out, if she ’adn’t’a’ give me peppermints. She ain’t a badone at bottom, the old girl; she do pounce a bit, and she doworry, but, law bless you, Mr. Anne, it ain’t nothinkreally—she don’t mean it. W’y, shewas down on me like a ’undredweight of bricks thismorning. You see, last night she ’ad me in to supper,and, I beg your pardon, sir, but I took the freedom of playingher a chune or two. She didn’t mind a bit; so thismorning I began to play to myself, and she flounced in, and flewup, and carried on no end about Sunday!’

‘You see, Rowley,’ said I, ‘they’reall mad up here, and you have to humour them. See anddon’t quarrel with Mrs. McRankine; and, above all,don’t argue with her, or you’ll get the worst ofit. Whatever she says, touch your forelock and say,“If you please!” or “I beg pardon,ma’am.” And let me tell you one thing: I amsorry, but you have to go to church with her again thisafternoon. That’s duty, my boy!’

As I had foreseen, the bells had scarce begun before Mrs.McRankine presented herself to be our escort, upon which I sprangup with readiness and offered her my arm. Rowley followedbehind. I was beginning to grow accustomed to the risks ofmy stay in Edinburgh, and it even amused me to confront a newchurchful. I confess the amusem*nt did not last until theend; for if Dr. Gray were long, Mr. McCraw was not only longer,but more incoherent, and the matter of his sermon (which was adirect attack, apparently, on all the Churches of the world, myown among the number), where it had not the tonic quality ofpersonal insult, rather inclined me to slumber. But Ibraced myself for my life, kept up Rowley with the end of a pin,and came through it awake, but no more.

Bethiah was quite conquered by this ‘mark ofgrace,’ though, I am afraid, she was also moved by moreworldly considerations. The first is, the lady had not theleast objection to go to church on the arm of an elegantlydressed young gentleman, and be followed by a spruce servant witha co*ckade in his hat. I could see it by the way she tookpossession of us, found us the places in the Bible, whispered tome the name of the minister, passed us lozenges, which I (for mypart) handed on to Rowley, and at each fresh attention stole alittle glance about the church to make sure she wasobserved. Rowley was a pretty boy; you will pardon me if Ialso remembered that I was a favourable-looking young man.When we grow elderly, how the room brightens, and begins to lookas it ought to look, on the entrance of youth, grace, health, andcomeliness! You do not want them for yourself, perhaps noteven for your son, but you look on smiling; and when you recalltheir images—again, it is with a smile. I defy you tosee or think of them and not smile with an infinite and intimate,but quite impersonal, pleasure. Well, either I know nothingof women, or that was the case with Bethiah McRankine. Shehad been to church with a co*ckade behind her, on the one hand; onthe other, her house was brightened by the presence of a pair ofgood-looking young fellows of the other sex, who were alwayspleased and deferential in her society and accepted her views asfinal.

These were sentiments to be encouraged; and, on the way homefrom church—if church it could be called—I adopted amost insidious device to magnify her interest. I took herinto the confidence, that is, of my love affair, and I had nosooner mentioned a young lady with whom my affections wereengaged than she turned upon me a face of awful gravity.

‘Is she bonny?’ she inquired.

I gave her full assurances upon that.

‘To what denoamination does she beloang?’ camenext, and was so unexpected as almost to deprive me ofbreath.

‘Upon my word, ma’am, I have neverinquired,’ cried I; ‘I only know that she is aheartfelt Christian, and that is enough.’

‘Ay!’ she sighed, ‘if she has the root ofthe maitter! There’s a remnant practically in most ofthe denoaminations. There’s some in theMcGlashanites, and some in the Glassites, and mony in theMcMillanites, and there’s a leeven even in theEstayblishment.’

‘I have known some very good Papists even, if you go tothat,’ said I.

‘Mr. Ducie, think shame to yoursel’!’ shecried.

‘Why, my dear madam! I only—’ Ibegan.

‘You shouldnae jest in sairious maitters,’ sheinterrupted.

On the whole, she entered into what I chose to tell her of ouridyll with avidity, like a cat licking her whiskers over a dishof cream; and, strange to say—and so expansive a passion isthat of love!—that I derived a perhaps equal satisfactionfrom confiding in that breast of iron. It made an immediatebond: from that hour we seemed to be welded into a family-party;and I had little difficulty in persuading her to join us and topreside over our tea-table. Surely there was never soill-matched a trio as Rowley, Mrs. McRankine, and the ViscountAnne! But I am of the Apostle’s way, with adifference: all things to all women! When I cannot please awoman, hang me in my cravat!


By half-past eight o’clock on the next morning, I wasringing the bell of the lawyer’s office in Castle Street,where I found him ensconced at a business table, in a roomsurrounded by several tiers of green tin cases. He greetedme like an old friend.

‘Come away, sir, come away!’ said he.‘Here is the dentist ready for you, and I think I canpromise you that the operation will be practicallypainless.’

‘I am not so sure of that, Mr. Robbie,’ I replied,as I shook hands with him. ‘But at least there shallbe no time lost with me.’

I had to confess to having gone a-roving with a pair ofdrovers and their cattle, to having used a false name, to havingmurdered or half-murdered a fellow-creature in a scuffle on themoors, and to having suffered a couple of quite innocent men tolie some time in prison on a charge from which I could haveimmediately freed them. All this I gave him first of all,to be done with the worst of it; and all this he took withgravity, but without the least appearance of surprise.

‘Now, sir,’ I continued, ‘I expect to haveto pay for my unhappy frolic, but I would like very well if itcould be managed without my personal appearance or even themention of my real name. I had so much wisdom as to sailunder false colours in this foolish jaunt of mine; my familywould be extremely concerned if they had wind of it; but at thesame time, if the case of this Faa has terminated fatally, andthere are proceedings against Todd and Candlish, I am not goingto stand by and see them vexed, far less punished; and Iauthorise you to give me up for trial if you think thatbest—or, if you think it unnecessary, in the meanwhile tomake preparations for their defence. I hope, sir, that I amas little anxious to be Quixotic, as I am determined to bejust.’

‘Very fairly spoken,’ said Mr. Robbie.‘It is not much in my line, as doubtless your friend, Mr.Romaine, will have told you. I rarely mix myself up withanything on the criminal side, or approaching it. However,for a young gentleman like you, I may stretch a point, and I daresay I may be able to accomplish more than perhaps another.I will go at once to the Procurator Fiscal’s office andinquire.’

‘Wait a moment, Mr. Robbie,’ said I.‘You forget the chapter of expenses. I had thought,for a beginning, of placing a thousand pounds in yourhands.’

‘My dear sir, you will kindly wait until I render you mybill,’ said Mr. Robbie severely.’

‘It seemed to me,’ I protested, ‘that comingto you almost as a stranger, and placing in your hands a piece ofbusiness so contrary to your habits, some substantial guaranteeof my good faith—’

‘Not the way that we do business in Scotland,sir,’ he interrupted, with an air of closing thedispute.

‘And yet, Mr. Robbie,’ I continued, ‘I mustask you to allow me to proceed. I do not merely refer tothe expenses of the case. I have my eye besides on Todd andCandlish. They are thoroughly deserving fellows; they havebeen subjected through me to a considerable term of imprisonment;and I suggest, sir, that you should not spare money for theirindemnification. This will explain,’ I added smiling,‘my offer of the thousand pounds. It was in thenature of a measure by which you should judge the scale on whichI can afford to have this business carried through.’

‘I take you perfectly, Mr. Ducie,’ said he.‘But the sooner I am off, the better this affair is like tobe guided. My clerk will show you into the waiting-room andgive you the day’s Caledonian Mercury and the lastRegister to amuse yourself with in theinterval.’

I believe Mr. Robbie was at least three hours gone. Isaw him descend from a cab at the door, and almost immediatelyafter I was shown again into his study, where the solemnity ofhis manner led me to augur the worst. For some time he hadthe inhumanity to read me a lecture as to the incrediblesilliness, ‘not to say immorality,’ of mybehaviour. ‘I have the satisfaction in telling you myopinion, because it appears that you are going to get off scotfree,’ he continued, where, indeed, I thought he might havebegun.

‘The man, Faa, has been discharged cured; and the twomen, Todd and Candlish, would have been leeberated lone ago if ithad not been for their extraordinary loyalty to yourself, Mr.Ducie—or Mr. St. Ivey, as I believe I should now callyou. Never a word would either of the two old foolsvolunteer that in any manner pointed at the existence of such aperson; and when they were confronted with Faa’s version ofthe affair, they gave accounts so entirely discrepant with theirown former declarations, as well as with each other, that theFiscal was quite nonplussed, and imaigined there was somethingbehind it. You may believe I soon laughed him out ofthat! And I had the satisfaction of seeing your two friendsset free, and very glad to be on the causeway again.’

‘Oh, sir,’ I cried, ‘you should have broughtthem here.’

‘No instructions, Mr. Ducie!’ said he.‘How did I know you wished to renew an acquaintance whichyou had just terminated so fortunately? And, indeed, to befrank with you, I should have set my face against it, if youhad! Let them go! They are paid and contented, andhave the highest possible opinion of Mr. St. Ivey! When Igave them fifty pounds apiece—which was rather more thanenough, Mr. Ducie, whatever you may think—the man Todd, whohas the only tongue of the party, struck his staff on theground. “Weel,” says he, “I aye said hewas a gentleman!” “Man, Todd,” said I,“that was just what Mr St. Ivey said ofyourself!”’

‘So it was a case of “Compliments fly whengentlefolk meet.”’

‘No, no, Mr. Ducie, man Todd and man Candlish are goneout of your life, and a good riddance! They are finefellows in their way, but no proper associates for the like ofyourself; and do you finally agree to be done with alleccentricity—take up with no more drovers, or tinkers, butenjoy the naitural pleesures for which your age, your wealth,your intelligence, and (if I may be allowed to say it) yourappearance so completely fit you. And the first ofthese,’ quoth he, looking at his watch, ‘will be tostep through to my dining-room and share a bachelor’sluncheon.’

Over the meal, which was good, Mr. Robbie continued to developthe same theme. ‘You’re, no doubt, what theycall a dancing-man?’ said he. ‘Well, onThursday night there is the Assembly Ball. You mustcertainly go there, and you must permit me besides to do thehonours of the ceety and send you a ticket. I am a thoroughbeliever in a young man being a young man—but no moredrovers or rovers, if you love me! Talking of which puts mein mind that you may be short of partners at theAssembly—oh, I have been young myself!—and if ye careto come to anything so portentiously tedious as a tea-party atthe house of a bachelor lawyer, consisting mainly of his niecesand nephews, and his grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and hiswards, and generally the whole clan of the descendants of hisclients, you might drop in to-night towards seveno’clock. I think I can show you one or two that areworth looking at, and you can dance with them later on at theAssembly.’

He proceeded to give me a sketch of one or two eligible youngladies’ whom I might expect to meet. ‘And thenthere’s my parteecular friend, Miss Flora,’ saidhe. ‘But I’ll make no attempt of adescription. You shall see her for yourself.’

It will be readily supposed that I accepted his invitation;and returned home to make a toilette worthy of her I was to meetand the good news of which I was the bearer. The toilette,I have reason to believe, was a success. Mr. Rowleydismissed me with a farewell: ‘Crikey! Mr. Anne, butyou do look prime!’ Even the stony Bethiahwas—how shall I say?—dazzled, but scandalised, by myappearance; and while, of course, she deplored the vanity thatled to it, she could not wholly prevent herself from admiring theresult.

‘Ay, Mr. Ducie, this is a poor employment for awayfaring Christian man!’ she said. ‘Wi’Christ despised and rejectit in all pairts of the world and theflag of the Covenant flung doon, you will be muckle better onyour knees! However, I’ll have to confess that itsets you weel. And if it’s the lassie ye’regaun to see the nicht, I suppose I’ll just have to excuseye! Bairns maun be bairns!’ she said, with asigh. ‘I mind when Mr. McRankine came courtin’,and that’s lang by-gane—I mind I had a green gown,passem*ntit, that was thocht to become me to admiration. Iwas nae just exactly what ye would ca’ bonny; but I waspale, penetratin’, and interestin’.’ Andshe leaned over the stair-rail with a candle to watch my descentas long as it should be possible.

It was but a little party at Mr. Robbie’s—bywhich, I do not so much mean that there were few people, for therooms were crowded, as that there was very little attempted toentertain them. In one apartment there were tables set out,where the elders were solemnly engaged upon whist; in the otherand larger one, a great number of youth of both sexes entertainedthemselves languidly, the ladies sitting upon chairs to becourted, the gentlemen standing about in various attitudes ofinsinuation or indifference. Conversation appeared the soleresource, except in so far as it was modified by a number ofkeepsakes and annuals which lay dispersed upon the tables, and ofwhich the young beaux displayed the illustrations to theladies. Mr. Robbie himself was customarily in thecard-room; only now and again, when he cut out, he made anincursion among the young folks, and rolled about jovially fromone to another, the very picture of the general uncle.

It chanced that Flora had met Mr. Robbie in the course of theafternoon. ‘Now, Miss Flora,’ he had said,‘come early, for I have a Phoenix to show you—one Mr.Ducie, a new client of mine that, I vow, I have fallen in lovewith’; and he was so good as to add a word or two on myappearance, from which Flora conceived a suspicion of thetruth. She had come to the party, in consequence, on theknife-edge of anticipation and alarm; had chosen a place by thedoor, where I found her, on my arrival, surrounded by a posse ofvapid youths; and, when I drew near, sprang up to meet me in themost natural manner in the world, and, obviously, with a preparedform of words.

‘How do you do, Mr. Ducie?’ she said.‘It is quite an age since I have seen you!’

‘I have much to tell you, Miss Gilchrist,’ Ireplied. ‘May I sit down?’

For the artful girl, by sitting near the door, and thejudicious use of her shawl, had contrived to keep a chair emptyby her side.

She made room for me, as a matter of course, and the youthshad the discretion to melt before us. As soon as I was onceseated her fan flew out, and she whispered behind it:

‘Are you mad?’

‘Madly in love,’ I replied; ‘but in no othersense.’

‘I have no patience! You cannot understand what Iam suffering!’ she said. ‘What are you to sayto Ronald, to Major Chevenix, to my aunt?’

Your aunt?’ I cried, with a start.‘Peccavi! is she here?’

‘She is in the card-room at whist,’ saidFlora.

‘Where she will probably stay all the evening?’ Isuggested.

‘She may,’ she admitted; ‘she generallydoes!’

‘Well, then, I must avoid the card-room,’ said I,‘which is very much what I had counted upon doing. Idid not come here to play cards, but to contemplate a certainyoung lady to my heart’s content—if it can ever becontented!—and to tell her some good news.’

‘But there are still Ronald and the Major!’ shepersisted. ‘They are not card-room fixtures!Ronald will be coming and going. And as for Mr. Chevenix,he—’

‘Always sits with Miss Flora?’ Iinterrupted. ‘And they talk of poor St. Ives? Ihad gathered as much, my dear; and Mr. Ducie has come to preventit! But pray dismiss these fears! I mind no one butyour aunt.’

‘Why my aunt?’

‘Because your aunt is a lady, my dear, and a very cleverlady, and, like all clever ladies, a very rash lady,’ saidI. ‘You can never count upon them, unless you aresure of getting them in a corner, as I have got you, and talkingthem over rationally, as I am just engaged on withyourself! It would be quite the same to your aunt to makethe worst kind of a scandal, with an equal indifference to mydanger and to the feelings of our good host!’

‘Well,’ she said, ‘and what of Ronald,then? Do you think he is above making ascandal? You must know him very little!’

‘On the other hand, it is my pretension that I know himvery well!’ I replied. ‘I must speak to Ronaldfirst—not Ronald to me—that is all!’

‘Then, please, go and speak to him at once!’ shepleaded. He is there—do you see?—at the upperend of the room, talking to that girl in pink.’

‘And so lose this seat before I have told you my goodnews?’ I exclaimed. ‘Catch me! And,besides, my dear one, think a little of me and my goodnews! I thought the bearer of good news was alwayswelcome! I hoped he might be a little welcome forhimself! Consider! I have but one friend; and let mestay by her! And there is only one thing I care to hear;and let me hear it!’

‘Oh, Anne,’ she sighed, ‘if I did not loveyou, why should I be so uneasy? I am turned into a coward,dear! Think, if it were the other way round—if youwere quite safe and I was in, oh, such danger!’

She had no sooner said it than I was convicted of being adullard. ‘God forgive me, dear!’ I madehaste to reply. ‘I never saw before that there weretwo sides to this!’ And I told her my tale as brieflyas I could, and rose to seek Ronald. ‘You see, mydear, you are obeyed,’ I said.

She gave me a look that was a reward in itself; and as Iturned away from her, with a strong sense of turning away fromthe sun, I carried that look in my bosom like a caress. Thegirl in pink was an arch, ogling person, with a good deal of eyesand teeth, and a great play of shoulders and rattle ofconversation. There could be no doubt, from Mr.Ronald’s attitude, that he worshipped the very chair shesat on. But I was quite ruthless. I laid my hand onhis shoulder, as he was stooping over her like a hen over achicken.

‘Excuse me for one moment, Mr. Gilchrist!’ saidI.

He started and span about in answer to my touch, and exhibiteda face of inarticulate wonder.

‘Yes!’ I continued, ‘it is evenmyself! Pardon me for interrupting so agreeable atête-à-tête, but you know, my goodfellow, we owe a first duty to Mr. Robbie. It would neverdo to risk making a scene in the man’s drawing-room; so thefirst thing I had to attend to was to have you warned. Thename I go by is Ducie, too, in case of accidents.’

‘I—I say, you know!’ cried Ronald.‘Deuce take it, what are you doing here?’

‘Hush, hush!’ said I. ‘Not the place,my dear fellow—not the place. Come to my rooms, ifyou like, to-night after the party, or to-morrow in the morning,and we can talk it out over a segar. But here, you know, itreally won’t do at all.’

Before he could collect his mind for an answer, I had givenhim my address in St. James Square, and had again mingled withthe crowd. Alas! I was not fated to get back to Floraso easily! Mr. Robbie was in the path: he was insatiablyloquacious; and as he continued to palaver I watched the insipidyouths gather again about my idol, and cursed my fate and myhost. He remembered suddenly that I was to attend theAssembly Ball on Thursday, and had only attended to-night by wayof a preparative. This put it into his head to present meto another young lady; but I managed this interview with so muchart that, while I was scrupulously polite and even cordial to thefair one, I contrived to keep Robbie beside me all the time andto leave along with him when the ordeal was over. We werejust walking away arm in arm, when I spied my friend the Majorapproaching, stiff as a ramrod and, as usual, obtrusivelyclean.

‘Oh! there’s a man I want to know,’ said I,taking the bull by the horns. ‘Won’t youintroduce me to Major Chevenix?’

‘At a word, my dear fellow,’ said Robbie; and‘Major!’ he cried, ‘come here and let mepresent to you my friend Mr. Ducie, who desires the honour ofyour acquaintance.’

The Major flushed visibly, but otherwise preserved hiscomposure. He bowed very low. ‘I’m notvery sure,’ he said: ‘I have an idea we have metbefore?’

‘Informally,’ I said, returning his bow;‘and I have long looked forward to the pleasure ofregularising our acquaintance.’

‘You are very good, Mr. Ducie,’ he returned.‘Perhaps you could aid my memory a little? Where wasit that I had the pleasure?’

‘Oh, that would be telling tales out of school,’said I, with a laugh, ‘and before my lawyer,too!’

‘I’ll wager,’ broke in Mr. Robbie,‘that, when you knew my client, Chevenix—the past ofour friend Mr. Ducie is an obscure chapter full of horridsecrets—I’ll wager, now, you knew him as St.Ivey,’ says he, nudging me violently.

‘I think not, sir,’ said the Major, with pinchedlips.

‘Well, I wish he may prove all right!’ continuedthe lawyer, with certainly the worst-inspired jocularity in theworld. ‘I know nothing by him! He may be aswell mobsman for me with his aliases. You must put yourmemory on the rack, Major, and when ye’ve remembered whenand where ye met him, be sure ye tell me.’

‘I will not fail, sir,’ said Chevenix.

‘Seek to him!’ cried Robbie, waving his hand as hedeparted.

The Major, as soon as we were alone, turned upon me hisimpassive countenance.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘you havecourage.’

‘It is undoubted as your honour, sir,’ I returned,bowing.

‘Did you expect to meet me, may I ask?’ saidhe.

‘You saw, at least, that I courted thepresentation,’ said I.

‘And you were not afraid?’ said Chevenix.

‘I was perfectly at ease. I knew I was dealingwith a gentleman. Be that your epitaph.’

‘Well, there are some other people looking foryou,’ he said, ‘who will make no bones about thepoint of honour. The police, my dear sir, are simply agogabout you.’

‘And I think that that was coarse,’ said I.

‘You have seen Miss Gilchrist?’ he inquired,changing the subject.

‘With whom, I am led to understand, we are on a footingof rivalry?’ I asked. ‘Yes, I have seenher.’

‘And I was just seeking her,’ he replied.

I was conscious of a certain thrill of temper; so, I suppose,was he. We looked each other up and down.

‘The situation is original,’ he resumed.

‘Quite,’ said I. ‘But let me tell youfrankly you are blowing a cold coal. I owe you so much foryour kindness to the prisoner Champdivers.’

‘Meaning that the lady’s affections are moreadvantageously disposed of?’ he asked, with a sneer.‘Thank you, I am sure. And, since you have given me alead, just hear a word of good advice in your turn. Is itfair, is it delicate, is it like a gentleman, to compromise theyoung lady by attentions which (as you know very well) can cometo nothing?’

I was utterly unable to find words in answer.

‘Excuse me if I cut this interview short,’ he wenton. ‘It seems to me doomed to come to nothing, andthere is more attractive metal.’

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘as you say, it cannotamount to much. You are impotent, bound hand and foot inhonour. You know me to be a man falsely accused, and evenif you did not know it, from your position as my rival you haveonly the choice to stand quite still or to beinfamous.’

‘I would not say that,’ he returned, with anotherchange of colour. ‘I may hear it once toooften.’

With which he moved off straight for where Flora was sittingamidst her court of vapid youths, and I had no choice but tofollow him, a bad second, and reading myself, as I went, a sharplesson on the command of temper.

It is a strange thing how young men in their teens go down atthe mere wind of the coming of men of twenty-five andupwards! The vapid ones fled without thought of resistancebefore the Major and me; a few dallied awhile in theneighbourhood—so to speak, with their fingers in theirmouths—but presently these also followed the rout, and weremained face to face before Flora. There was a draught inthat corner by the door; she had thrown her pelisse over her barearms and neck, and the dark fur of the trimming set themoff. She shone by contrast; the light played on her smoothskin to admiration, and the colour changed in her excitedface. For the least fraction of a second she looked fromone to the other of her pair of rival swains, and seemed tohesitate. Then she addressed Chevenix:—

‘You are coming to the Assembly, of course, MajorChevenix?’ said she.

‘I fear not; I fear I shall be otherwise engaged,’he replied. ‘Even the pleasure of dancing with you,Miss Flora, must give way to duty.’

For awhile the talk ran harmlessly on the weather, and thenbranched off towards the war. It seemed to be by noone’s fault; it was in the air, and had to come.

‘Good news from the scene of operations,’ said theMajor.

‘Good news while it lasts,’ I said.‘But will Miss Gilchrist tell us her private thought uponthe war? In her admiration for the victors, does not theremingle some pity for the vanquished?’

‘Indeed, sir,’ she said, with animation,‘only too much of it! War is a subject that I do notthink should be talked of to a girl. I am, I have tobe—what do you call it?—a non-combatant? And toremind me of what others have to do and suffer: no, it is notfair!’

‘Miss Gilchrist has the tender female heart,’ saidChevenix.

‘Do not be too sure of that!’ she cried.‘I would love to be allowed to fight myself!’

‘On which side?’ I asked.

‘Can you ask?’ she exclaimed. ‘I am aScottish girl!’

‘She is a Scottish girl!’ repeated the Major,looking at me. ‘And no one grudges you herpity!’

‘And I glory in every grain of it she has tospare,’ said I. ‘Pity is akin tolove.’

‘Well, and let us put that question to MissGilchrist. It is for her to decide, and for us to bow tothe decision. Is pity, Miss Flora, or is admiration,nearest love?’

‘Oh come,’ said I, ‘let us be moreconcrete. Lay before the lady a complete case: describeyour man, then I’ll describe mine, and Miss Florashall decide.’

‘I think I see your meaning,’ said he, ‘andI’ll try. You think that pity—and the kindredsentiments—have the greatest power upon the heart. Ithink more nobly of women. To my view, the man they lovewill first of all command their respect; he will besteadfast—proud, if you please; dry, possibly—but ofall things steadfast. They will look at him in doubt; atlast they will see that stern face which he presents to all therest of the world soften to them alone. First, trust, Isay. It is so that a woman loves who is worthy ofheroes.’

‘Your man is very ambitious, sir,’ said I,‘and very much of a hero! Mine is a humbler, and, Iwould fain think, a more human dog. He is one with noparticular trust in himself, with no superior steadfastness to beadmired for, who sees a lady’s face, who hears her voice,and, without any phrase about the matter, falls in love.What does he ask for, then, but pity?—pity for hisweakness, pity for his love, which is his life. You wouldmake women always the inferiors, gaping up at your imaginarylover; he, like a marble statue, with his nose in the air!But God has been wiser than you; and the most steadfast of yourheroes may prove human, after all. We appeal to the queenfor judgment,’ I added, turning and bowing beforeFlora.

‘And how shall the queen judge?’ she asked.‘I must give you an answer that is no answer at all.“The wind bloweth where it listeth”: she goes whereher heart goes.’

Her face flushed as she said it; mine also, for I read in it adeclaration, and my heart swelled for joy. But Chevenixgrew pale.

‘You make of life a very dreadful kind of lottery,ma’am,’ said he. ‘But I will notdespair. Honest and unornamental is still mychoice.’

And I must say he looked extremely handsome and very amusinglylike the marble statue with its nose in the air to which I hadcompared him.

‘I cannot imagine how we got upon this subject,’said Flora.

‘Madame, it was through the war,’ repliedChevenix.

‘All roads lead to Rome,’ I commented.‘What else would you expect Mr. Chevenix and myself to talkof?’

About this time I was conscious of a certain bustle andmovement in the room behind me, but did not pay to it that degreeof attention which perhaps would have been wise. There camea certain change in Flora’s face; she signalled repeatedlywith her fan; her eyes appealed to me obsequiously; there couldbe no doubt that she wanted something—as well as I couldmake out, that I should go away and leave the field clear for myrival, which I had not the least idea of doing. At last sherose from her chair with impatience.

‘I think it time you were saying good-night, MrDucie!’ she said.

I could not in the least see why, and said so.

Whereupon she gave me this appalling answer, ‘My aunt iscoming out of the card-room.’

In less time than it takes to tell, I had made my bow and myescape. Looking back from the doorway, I was privileged tosee, for a moment, the august profile and gold eyeglasses of MissGilchrist issuing from the card-room; and the sight lent mewings. I stood not on the order of my going; and a momentafter, I was on the pavement of Castle Street, and the lightedwindows shone down on me, and were crossed by ironical shadows ofthose who had remained behind.


This day began with a surprise. I found a letter on mybreakfast-table addressed to Edward Ducie, Esquire; and at firstI was startled beyond measure. ‘Conscience doth makecowards of us all!’ When I had opened it, it provedto be only a note from the lawyer, enclosing a card for theAssembly Ball on Thursday evening. Shortly after, as I wascomposing my mind with a segar at one of the windows of thesitting-room, and Rowley, having finished the light share of workthat fell to him, sat not far off tootling with great spirit anda marked preference for the upper octave, Ronald was suddenlyshown in. I got him a segar, drew in a chair to the side ofthe fire, and installed him there—I was going to say, athis ease, but no expression could be farther from thetruth. He was plainly on pins and needles, did not knowwhether to take or to refuse the segar, and, after he had takenit, did not know whether to light or to return it. I saw hehad something to say; I did not think it was his own something;and I was ready to offer a large bet it was really something ofMajor Chevenix’s.

‘Well, and so here you are!’ I observed, withpointless cordiality, for I was bound I should do nothing to helphim out. If he were, indeed, here running errands for myrival, he might have a fair field, but certainly no favour.

‘The fact is,’ he began, ‘I would rather seeyou alone.’

‘Why, certainly,’ I replied. ‘Rowley,you can step into the bedroom. My dear fellow,’ Icontinued, ‘this sounds serious. Nothing wrong, Itrust.’

‘Well, I’ll be quite honest,’ said he.‘I am a good deal bothered.’

‘And I bet I know why!’ I exclaimed.‘And I bet I can put you to rights, too!’

‘What do you mean!’ he asked.

‘You must be hard up,’ said I, ‘and all Ican say is, you’ve come to the right place. If youhave the least use for a hundred pounds, or any such trifling sumas that, please mention it. It’s here, quite at yourservice.’

‘I am sure it is most kind of you,’ said Ronald,‘and the truth is, though I can’t think how youguessed it, that I really am a little behind board.But I haven’t come to talk about that.’

‘No, I dare say!’ cried I. ‘Not worthtalking about! But remember, Ronald, you and I are ondifferent sides of the business. Remember that you did meone of those services that make men friends for ever. Andsince I have had the fortune to come into a fair share of money,just oblige me, and consider so much of it as yourown.’

‘No,’ he said, ‘I couldn’t take it; Icouldn’t, really. Besides, the fact is, I’vecome on a very different matter. It’s about mysister, St. Ives,’ and he shook his head menacingly atme.

‘You’re quite sure?’ I persisted.‘It’s here, at your service—up to five hundredpounds, if you like. Well, all right; only remember whereit is, when you do want it.’

‘Oh, please let me alone!’ cried Ronald:‘I’ve come to say something unpleasant; and how onearth can I do it, if you don’t give a fellow achance? It’s about my sister, as I said. Youcan see for yourself that it can’t be allowed to goon. It’s compromising; it don’t lead toanything; and you’re not the kind of man (you must feel ityourself) that I can allow my female relatives to have anythingto do with. I hate saying this, St. Ives; it looks likehitting a man when he’s down, you know; and I told theMajor I very much disliked it from the first. However, ithad to be said; and now it has been, and, between gentlemen, itshouldn’t be necessary to refer to it again.’

‘It’s compromising; it doesn’t lead toanything; not the kind of man,’ I repeatedthoughtfully. ‘Yes, I believe I understand, and shallmake haste to put myself en règle.’ Istood up, and laid my segar down. ‘Mr.Gilchrist,’ said I, with a bow, ‘in answer to yourvery natural observations, I beg to offer myself as a suitor foryour sister’s hand. I am a man of title, of which wethink lightly in France, but of ancient lineage, which iseverywhere prized. I can display thirty-two quarteringswithout a blot. My expectations are certainly above theaverage: I believe my uncle’s income averages about thirtythousand pounds, though I admit I was not careful to informmyself. Put it anywhere between fifteen and fifty thousand;it is certainly not less.’

‘All this is very easy to say,’ said Ronald, witha pitying smile. ‘Unfortunately, these things are inthe air.’

‘Pardon me,—in Buckinghamshire,’ said I,smiling.

‘Well, what I mean is, my dear St. Ives, that youcan’t prove them,’ he continued.‘They might just as well not be: do you follow me?You can’t bring us any third party to back you.’

‘Oh, come!’ cried I, springing up and hurrying tothe table. ‘You must excuse me!’ I wroteRomaine’s address. ‘There is my reference, Mr.Gilchrist. Until you have written to him, and received hisnegative answer, I have a right to be treated, and I shall seethat you treat me, as a gentleman.’ He was brought upwith a round turn at that.

‘I beg your pardon, St. Ives,’ said he.‘Believe me, I had no wish to be offensive. Butthere’s the difficulty of this affair; I can’t makeany of my points without offence! You must excuse me,it’s not my fault. But, at any rate, you must see foryourself this proposal of marriage is—is merely impossible,my dear fellow. It’s nonsense! Our countriesare at war; you are a prisoner.’

‘My ancestor of the time of the Ligue,’ I replied,‘married a Huguenot lady out of the Saintonge, riding twohundred miles through an enemy’s country to bring off hisbride; and it was a happy marriage.’

‘Well!’ he began; and then looked down into thefire, and became silent.

‘Well?’ I asked.

‘Well, there’s this businessof—Goguelat,’ said he, still looking at the coals inthe grate.

‘What!’ I exclaimed, starting in my chair.‘What’s that you say?’

‘This business about Goguelat,’ he repeated.

‘Ronald,’ said I, ‘this is not yourdoing. These are not your own words. I know wherethey came from: a coward put them in your mouth.’

‘St. Ives!’ he cried, ‘why do you make it sohard for me? and where’s the use of insulting otherpeople? The plain English is, that I can’t hear ofany proposal of marriage from a man under a charge likethat. You must see it for yourself, man! It’sthe most absurd thing I ever heard of! And you go onforcing me to argue with you, too!’

‘Because I have had an affair of honour which terminatedunhappily, you—a young soldier, or next-door toit—refuse my offer? Do I understand youaright?’ said I.

‘My dear fellow!’ he wailed, ‘of course youcan twist my words, if you like. You say it was anaffair of honour. Well, I can’t, of course, tell youthat—I can’t—I mean, you must see thatthat’s just the point! Was it? I don’tknow.’

‘I have the honour to inform you,’ said I.

‘Well, other people say the reverse, you see!’

‘They lie, Ronald, and I will prove it intime.’

‘The short and the long of it is, that any man who is sounfortunate as to have such things said about him is not the manto be my brother-in-law!’ he cried.

‘Do you know who will be my first witness at thecourt? Arthur Chevenix!’ said I.

‘I don’t care!’ he cried, rising from hischair and beginning to pace outrageously about the room.‘What do you mean, St. Ives? What is thisabout? It’s like a dream, I declare! You madean offer, and I have refused it. I don’t like it, Idon’t want it; and whatever I did, or didn’t,wouldn’t matter—my aunt wouldn’t bear of itanyway! Can’t you take your answer, man?’

‘You must remember, Ronald, that we are playing withedged tools,’ said I. ‘An offer of marriage isa delicate subject to handle. You have refused, and youhave justified your refusal by several statements: first, that Iwas an impostor; second, that our countries were at war; andthird— No, I will speak,’ said I; ‘you cananswer when I have done,—and third, that I haddishonourably killed—or was said to have done so—theman Goguelat. Now, my dear fellow, these are very awkwardgrounds to be taking. From any one else’s lips I needscarce tell you how I should resent them; but my hands aretied. I have so much gratitude to you, without talking ofthe love I bear your sister, that you insult me, when you do so,under the cover of a complete impunity. I must feel thepain—and I do feel it acutely—I can do nothing toprotect myself.’ He had been anxious enough tointerrupt me in the beginning; but now, and after I had ceased,he stood a long while silent.

‘St. Ives,’ he said at last, ‘I think I hadbetter go away. This has been very irritating. Inever at all meant to say anything of the kind, and I apologiseto you. I have all the esteem for you that one gentlemanshould have for another. I only meant to tell you—toshow you what had influenced my mind; and that, in short, thething was impossible. One thing you may be quite sure of: Ishall do nothing against you. Will you shake hands before Igo away?’ he blurted out.

‘Yes,’ said I, ‘I agree with you—theinterview has been irritating. Let bygones bebygones. Good-bye, Ronald.’

‘Good-bye, St. Ives!’ he returned.‘I’m heartily sorry.’

And with that he was gone.

The windows of my own sitting-room looked towards the north;but the entrance passage drew its light from the direction of thesquare. Hence I was able to observe Ronald’sdeparture, his very disheartened gait, and the fact that he wasjoined, about half-way, by no less a man than MajorChevenix. At this, I could scarce keep from smiling; sounpalatable an interview must be before the pair of them, and Icould hear their voices, clashing like crossed swords, in thateternal antiphony of ‘I told you,’ and ‘I toldyou not.’ Without doubt, they had gained very littleby their visit; but then I had gained less than nothing, and hadbeen bitterly dispirited into the bargain. Ronald had stuckto his guns and refused me to the last. It was no news;but, on the other hand, it could not be contorted into goodnews. I was now certain that during my temporary absence inFrance, all irons would be put into the fire, and the worldturned upside down, to make Flora disown the obtrusive Frenchmanand accept Chevenix. Without doubt she would resist theseinstances: but the thought of them did not please me, and I feltshe should be warned and prepared for the battle.

It was no use to try and see her now, but I promised myselfearly that evening to return to Swanston. In the meantime Ihad to make all my preparations, and look the coming journey inthe face. Here in Edinburgh I was within four miles of thesea, yet the business of approaching random fishermen with my hatin the one hand and a knife in the other, appeared so desperate,that I saw nothing for it but to retrace my steps over thenorthern counties, and knock a second time at the doors ofBirchell Fenn. To do this, money would be necessary; andafter leaving my paper in the hands of Flora I had still abalance of about fifteen hundred pounds. Or rather I maysay I had them and I had them not; for after my luncheon with Mr.Robbie I had placed the amount, all but thirty pounds of change,in a bank in George Street, on a deposit receipt in the name ofMr. Rowley. This I had designed to be my gift to him, incase I must suddenly depart. But now, thinking better ofthe arrangement, I despatched my little man, co*ckade and all, tolift the fifteen hundred.

He was not long gone, and returned with a flushed face, andthe deposit receipt still in his hand.

‘No go, Mr. Anne,’ says he.

‘How’s that?’ I inquired,

‘Well, sir, I found the place all right, and nomistake,’ said he. ‘But I tell you what gave mea blue fright! There was a customer standing by the door,and I reckonised him! Who do you think it was, Mr.Anne? W’y, that same Red-Breast—him I hadbreakfast with near Aylesbury.’

‘You are sure you are not mistaken?’ I asked.

‘Certain sure,’ he replied. ‘Not Mr.Lavender, I don’t mean, sir; I mean the other party.“Wot’s he doing here?’ says I. Itdon’t look right.”’

‘Not by any means,’ I agreed.

I walked to and fro in the apartment reflecting. Thisparticular Bow Street runner might be here by accident; but itwas to imagine a singular play of coincidence that he, who hadmet Rowley and spoken with him in the ‘Green Dragon,’hard by Aylesbury, should be now in Scotland, where he could haveno legitimate business, and by the doors of the bank where Rowleykept his account.

‘Rowley,’ said I, ‘he didn’t see you,did he?’

‘Never a fear,’ quoth Rowley.‘W’y Mr. Anne, sir, if he ’ad, youwouldn’t have seen me any more! I ain’ta hass, sir!’

‘Well, my boy, you can put that receipt in yourpocket. You’ll have no more use for it tillyou’re quite clear of me. Don’t lose it,though; it’s your share of the Christmas-box: fifteenhundred pounds all for yourself.’

‘Begging your pardon, Mr. Anne, sir, but wot for!’said Rowley.

‘To set up a public-house upon,’ said I.

‘If you’ll excuse me, sir, I ain’t got anycall to set up a public-house, sir,’ he repliedstoutly. ‘And I tell you wot, sir, it seems to meI’m reether young for the billet. I’m your bodyservant, Mr. Anne, or else I’m nothink.’

‘Well, Rowley,’ I said, ‘I’ll tell youwhat it’s for. It’s for the good service youhave done me, of which I don’t care—and don’tdare—to speak. It’s for your loyalty andcheerfulness, my dear boy. I had meant it for you; but totell you the truth, it’s past mending now—it has tobe yours. Since that man is waiting by the bank, the moneycan’t be touched until I’m gone.’

‘Until you’re gone, sir?’ re-echoedRowley. ‘You don’t go anywheres without me, Ican tell you that, Mr. Anne, sir!’

‘Yes, my boy,’ said I, ‘we are going to partvery soon now; probably to-morrow. And it’s for mysake, Rowley! Depend upon it, if there was any reason atall for that Bow Street man being at the bank, he was not thereto look out for you. How they could have found out aboutthe account so early is more than I can fathom; some strangecoincidence must have played me false! But there the factis; and Rowley, I’ll not only have to say farewell to youpresently, I’ll have to ask you to stay indoors until I cansay it. Remember, my boy, it’s only so that you canserve me now.’

‘W’y, sir, you say the word, and of courseI’ll do it!’ he cried. ‘“Nothink by’alves,” is my motto! I’m your man,through thick and thin, live or die, I am!’

In the meantime there was nothing to be done till towardssunset. My only chance now was to come again as quickly aspossible to speech of Flora, who was my only practicable banker;and not before evening was it worth while to think of that.I might compose myself as well as I was able over theCaledonian Mercury, with its ill news of the campaign ofFrance and belated documents about the retreat from Russia; and,as I sat there by the fire, I was sometimes all awake with angerand mortification at what I was reading, and sometimes again Iwould be three parts asleep as I dozed over the barren items ofhome intelligence. ‘Lately arrived’—thisis what I suddenly stumbled on—‘at Dumbreck’sHotel, the Viscount of Saint-Yves.’

‘Rowley,’ said I.

‘If you please, Mr. Anne, sir,’ answered theobsequious, lowering his pipe.

‘Come and look at this, my boy,’ said I, holdingout the paper.

‘My crikey!’ said he. ‘That’s’im, sir, sure enough!’

‘Sure enough, Rowley,’ said I.‘He’s on the trail. He has fairly caught upwith us. He and this Bow Street man have come together, Iwould swear. And now here is the whole field, quarry,hounds and hunters, all together in this city ofEdinburgh.’

‘And wot are you goin’ to do now, sir? Tellyou wot, let me take it in ’and, please! Gimme aminute, and I’ll disguise myself, and go out to this Dum---to this hotel, leastways, sir—and see wot he’s upto. You put your trust in me, Mr. Anne: I’m fly,don’t you make no mistake about it. I’m alla-growing and a-blowing, I am.’

‘Not one foot of you,’ said I. ‘Youare a prisoner, Rowley, and make up your mind to that. Soam I, or next door to it. I showed it you for a caution; ifyou go on the streets, it spells death to me, Rowley.’

‘If you please, sir,’ says Rowley.

‘Come to think of it,’ I continued, ‘youmust take a cold, or something. No good of awakening Mrs.McRankine’s suspicions.’

‘A cold?’ he cried, recovering immediately fromhis depression. ‘I can do it, Mr. Anne.’

And he proceeded to sneeze and cough and blow his nose, till Icould not restrain myself from smiling.

‘Oh, I tell you, I know a lot of them dodges,’ heobserved proudly.

‘Well, they come in very handy,’ said I.

‘I’d better go at once and show it to the old gal,’adn’t I?’ he asked.

I told him, by all means; and he was gone upon the instant,gleeful as though to a game of football.

I took up the paper and read carelessly on, my thoughtsengaged with my immediate danger, till I struck on the nextparagraph:—

‘In connection with the recent horrid murderin the Castle, we are desired to make public the followingintelligence. The soldier, Champdivers, is supposed to bein the neighbourhood of this city. He is about the middleheight or rather under, of a pleasing appearance and highlygenteel address. When last heard of he wore a fashionablesuit of pearl-grey, and boots with fawn-coloured tops. Heis accompanied by a servant about sixteen years of age, speaksEnglish without any accent, and passed under the alias ofRamornie. A reward is offered for hisapprehension.’

In a moment I was in the next room, stripping from me thepearl-coloured suit!

I confess I was now a good deal agitated. It isdifficult to watch the toils closing slowly and surely about you,and to retain your composure; and I was glad that Rowley was notpresent to spy on my confusion. I was flushed, my breathcame thick; I cannot remember a time when I was more put out.

And yet I must wait and do nothing, and partake of my meals,and entertain the ever-garrulous Rowley, as though I wereentirely my own man. And if I did not require to entertainMrs. McRankine also, that was but another drop of bitterness inmy cup! For what ailed my landlady, that she should holdherself so severely aloof, that she should refuse conversation,that her eyes should be reddened, that I should so continuallyhear the voice of her private supplications sounding through thehouse? I was much deceived, or she had read the insidiousparagraph and recognised the comminated pearl-grey suit. Iremember now a certain air with which she had laid the paper onmy table, and a certain sniff, between sympathy and defiance,with which she had announced it: ‘There’s yourMercury for ye!’

In this direction, at least, I saw no pressing danger; hertragic countenance betokened agitation; it was plain she waswrestling with her conscience, and the battle still hungdubious. The question of what to do troubled meextremely. I could not venture to touch such an intricateand mysterious piece of machinery as my landlady’sspiritual nature: it might go off at a word, and in anydirection, like a badly-made firework. And while I praisedmyself extremely for my wisdom in the past, that I had made somuch a friend of her, I was all abroad as to my conduct in thepresent. There seemed an equal danger in pressing and inneglecting the accustomed marks of familiarity. The oneextreme looked like impudence, and might annoy, the other was apractical confession of guilt. Altogether, it was a goodhour for me when the dusk began to fall in earnest on the streetsof Edinburgh, and the voice of an early watchman bade me setforth.

I reached the neighbourhood of the cottage before seven; andas I breasted the steep ascent which leads to the garden wall, Iwas struck with surprise to hear a dog. Dogs I had heardbefore, but only from the hamlet on the hillside above.Now, this dog was in the garden itself, where it roared aloud inparoxysms of fury, and I could hear it leaping and straining onthe chain. I waited some while, until the brute’s fitof passion had roared itself out. Then, with the utmostprecaution, I drew near again; and finally approached the gardenwall. So soon as I had clapped my head above the level,however, the barking broke forth again with redoubledenergy. Almost at the same time, the door of the cottageopened, and Ronald and the Major appeared upon the threshold witha lantern. As they so stood, they were almost immediatelybelow me, strongly illuminated, and within easy earshot.The Major pacified the dog, who took instead to low, uneasygrowling intermingled with occasional yelps.

‘Good thing I brought Towzer!’ said Chevenix.

‘Damn him, I wonder where he is!’ said Ronald; andhe moved the lantern up and down, and turned the night into ashifting puzzle-work of gleam and shadow. ‘I thinkI’ll make a sally.’

‘I don’t think you will,’ repliedChevenix. ‘When I agreed to come out here and dosentry-go, it was on one condition, Master Ronald: don’tyou forget that! Military discipline, my boy! Ourbeat is this path close about the house. Down, Towzer! goodboy, good boy—gently, then!’ he went on, caressinghis confounded monster.

‘To think! The beggar may be hearing us thisminute!’ cried Ronald.

‘Nothing more probable,’ said the Major.‘You there, St. Ives?’ he added, in a distinct butguarded voice. ‘I only want to tell you, you hadbetter go home. Mr. Gilchrist and I take watch andwatch.’

The game was up. ‘Beaucoup deplaisir!’ I replied, in the same tones.‘Il fait un peu froid pour veiller; gardez-vousdes engelures!’

I suppose it was done in a moment of ungovernable rage; but inspite of the excellent advice he had given to Ronald the momentbefore, Chevenix slipped the chain, and the dog sprang, straightas an arrow, up the bank. I stepped back, picked up a stoneof about twelve pounds weight, and stood ready. With abound the beast landed on the cope-stone of the wall; and, almostin the same instant, my missile caught him fair in theface. He gave a stifled cry, went tumbling back where hehad come from, and I could hear the twelve-pounder accompany himin his fall. Chevenix, at the same moment, broke out in aroaring voice: ‘The hell-hound! If he’s killedmy dog!’ and I judged, upon all grounds, it was as well tobe off.


I awoke to much diffidence, even to a feeling that might becalled the beginnings of panic, and lay for hours in my bedconsidering the situation. Seek where I pleased, there wasnothing to encourage me and plenty to appal. They kept aclose watch about the cottage; they had a beast of awatch-dog—at least, unless I had settled it; and if I had,I knew its bereaved master would only watch the moreindefatigably for the loss. In the pardonable ostentationof love I had given all the money I could spare to Flora; I hadthought it glorious that the hunted exile should come down, likeJupiter, in a shower of gold, and pour thousands in the lap ofthe beloved. Then I had in an hour of arrant folly buriedwhat remained to me in a bank in George Street. And now Imust get back the one or the other; and which? and how?

As I tossed in my bed, I could see three possible courses, allextremely perilous. First, Rowley might have been mistaken;the bank might not be watched; it might still be possible for himto draw the money on the deposit receipt. Second, I mightapply again to Robbie. Or, third, I might dare everything,go to the Assembly Ball, and speak with Flora under the eyes ofall Edinburgh. This last alternative, involving as it didthe most horrid risks, and the delay of forty-eight hours, I didbut glance at with an averted head, and turned again to theconsideration of the others. It was the likeliest thing inthe world that Robbie had been warned to have no more to do withme. The whole policy of the Gilchrists was in the hands ofChevenix; and I thought this was a precaution so elementary thathe was certain to have taken it. If he had not, of course Iwas all right: Robbie would manage to communicate with Flora; andby four o’clock I might be on the south road and, I wasgoing to say, a free man. Lastly, I must assure myself withmy own eyes whether the bank in George Street werebeleaguered.

I called to Rowley and questioned him tightly as to theappearance of the Bow Street officer.

‘What sort of looking man is he, Rowley?’ I asked,as I began to dress.

‘Wot sort of a looking man he is?’ repeatedRowley. ‘Well, I don’t very well know wot youwould say, Mr. Anne. He ain’t a beauty,any’ow.’

‘Is he tall?’

‘Tall? Well, no, I shouldn’t say tallMr. Anne.’

‘Well, then, is he short?’

‘Short? No, I don’t think I would say he waswhat you would call short. No, not piticular short,sir.’

‘Then, I suppose, he must be about the middleheight?’

‘Well, you might say it, sir; but not remarkableso.’

I smothered an oath.

‘Is he clean-shaved?’ I tried him again.

‘Clean-shaved?’ he repeated, with the same air ofanxious candour.

‘Good heaven, man, don’t repeat my words like aparrot!’ I cried. ‘Tell me what the man waslike: it is of the first importance that I should be able torecognise him.’

‘I’m trying to, Mr. Anne. Butclean-shaved? I don’t seem to rightly get holdof that p’int. Sometimes it might appear to me likeas if he was; and sometimes like as if he wasn’t. No,it wouldn’t surprise me now if you was to tell me he’ad a bit o’ whisker.’

‘Was the man red-faced?’ I roared, dwelling oneach syllable.

‘I don’t think you need go for to get cross aboutit, Mr. Anne!’ said he. ‘I’mtellin’ you every blessed thing I see!Red-faced? Well, no, not as you would remarkupon.’

A dreadful calm fell upon me.

‘Was he anywise pale?’ I asked.

‘Well, it don’t seem to me as though hewere. But I tell you truly, I didn’t take much heedto that.’

‘Did he look like a drinking man?’

‘Well, no. If you please, sir, he looked more likean eating one.’

‘Oh, he was stout, was he?’

‘No, sir. I couldn’t go so far asthat. No, he wasn’t not to say stout. Ifanything, lean rather.’

I need not go on with the infuriating interview. Itended as it began, except that Rowley was in tears, and that Ihad acquired one fact. The man was drawn for me as being ofany height you like to mention, and of any degree of corpulenceor leanness; clean-shaved or not, as the case might be; thecolour of his hair Rowley ‘could not take it upon himselfto put a name on’; that of his eyes he thought to have beenblue—nay, it was the one point on which he attained to akind of tearful certainty. ‘I’ll take my davyon it,’ he asseverated. They proved to have been asblack as sloes, very little and very near together. So muchfor the evidence of the artless! And the fact, or ratherthe facts, acquired? Well, they had to do not with theperson but with his clothing. The man wore knee-breechesand white stockings; his coat was ‘some kind of a lightishcolour—or betwixt that and dark’; and he wore a‘mole-skin weskit.’ As if this were not enough,he presently haled me from my breakfast in a prodigious flutter,and showed me an honest and rather venerable citizen passing inthe Square.

‘That’s him, sir,’ he cried,‘the very moral of him! Well, this one is betterdressed, and p’r’aps a trifler taller; and in theface he don’t favour him noways at all, sir. No, notwhen I come to look again, ’e don’t seem to favourhim noways.’

‘Jackass!’ said I, and I think the greateststickler for manners will admit the epithet to have beenjustified.

Meanwhile the appearance of my landlady added a great load ofanxiety to what I already suffered. It was plain that shehad not slept; equally plain that she had wept copiously.She sighed, she groaned, she drew in her breath, she shook herhead, as she waited on table. In short, she seemed in soprecarious a state, like a petard three times charged withhysteria, that I did not dare to address her; and stole out ofthe house on tiptoe, and actually ran downstairs, in the fearthat she might call me back. It was plain that this degreeof tension could not last long.

It was my first care to go to George Street, which I reached(by good luck) as a boy was taking down the bank shutters.A man was conversing with him; he had white stockings and amoleskin waistcoat, and was as ill-looking a rogue as you wouldwant to see in a day’s journey. This seemed to agreefairly well with Rowley’s signalement: he haddeclared emphatically (if you remember), and had stuck to itbesides, that the companion of the great Lavender was nobeauty.

Thence I made my way to Mr. Robbie’s, where I rang thebell. A servant answered the summons, and told me thelawyer was engaged, as I had half expected.

‘Wha shall I say was callin’?’ she pursued;and when I had told her ‘Mr. Ducie,’ ‘I thinkthis’ll be for you, then?’ she added, and handed me aletter from the hall table. It ran:

Dear Mr.Ducie,

‘My single advice to you is to leave quam primumfor the South.

Yours, T.Robbie.’

That was short and sweet. It emphatically extinguishedhope in one direction. No more was to be gotten of Robbie;and I wondered, from my heart, how much had been told him.Not too much, I hoped, for I liked the lawyer who had thusdeserted me, and I placed a certain reliance in the discretion ofChevenix. He would not be merciful; on the other hand, Idid not think he would be cruel without cause.

It was my next affair to go back along George Street, andassure myself whether the man in the moleskin vest was still onguard. There was no sign of him on the pavement.Spying the door of a common stair nearly opposite the bank, Itook it in my head that this would be a good point ofobservation, crossed the street, entered with a businesslike airand fell immediately against the man in the moleskin vest.I stopped and apologised to him; he replied in an unmistakableEnglish accent, thus putting the matter almost beyonddoubt. After this encounter I must, of course, ascend tothe top story, ring the bell of a suite of apartments, inquirefor Mr. Vavasour, learn (with no great surprise) that he did notlive there, come down again and, again politely saluting the manfrom Bow Street, make my escape at last into the street.

I was now driven back upon the Assembly Ball. Robbie hadfailed me. The bank was watched; it would never do to riskRowley in that neighbourhood. All I could do was to waituntil the morrow evening, and present myself at the Assembly, letit end as it might. But I must say I came to this decisionwith a good deal of genuine fright; and here I came for the firsttime to one of those places where my courage stuck. I donot mean that my courage boggled and made a bit of a bother overit, as it did over the escape from the Castle; I mean, stuck,like a stopped watch or a dead man. Certainly I would go tothe ball; certainly I must see this morning about myclothes. That was all decided. But the most of theshops were on the other side of the valley, in the Old Town; andit was now my strange discovery that I was physically unable tocross the North Bridge! It was as though a precipice hadstood between us, or the deep sea had intervened. Nearer tothe Castle my legs refused to bear me.

I told myself this was mere superstition; I made wagers withmyself—and gained them; I went down on the esplanade ofPrinces Street, walked and stood there, alone and conspicuous,looking across the garden at the old grey bastions of thefortress, where all these troubles had begun. I co*cked myhat, set my hand on my hip, and swaggered on the pavement,confronting detection. And I found I could do all this witha sense of exhilaration that was not unpleasing, and with acertain crânerie of manner that raised me in my ownesteem. And yet there was one thing I could not bring mymind to face up to, or my limbs to execute; and that was to crossthe valley into the Old Town. It seemed to me I must bearrested immediately if I had done so; I must go straight intothe twilight of a prison cell, and pass straight thence to thegross and final embraces of the nightcap and the halter.And yet it was from no reasoned fear of the consequences that Icould not go. I was unable. My horse baulked, andthere was an end!

My nerve was gone: here was a discovery for a man in suchimminent peril, set down to so desperate a game, which I couldonly hope to win by continual luck and unflaggingeffrontery! The strain had been too long continued, and mynerve was gone. I fell into what they call panic fear, as Ihave seen soldiers do on the alarm of a night attack, and turnedout of Princes Street at random as though the devil were at myheels. In St. Andrew Square, I remember vaguely hearingsome one call out. I paid no heed, but pressed onblindly. A moment after, a hand fell heavily on myshoulder, and I thought I had fainted. Certainly the worldwent black about me for some seconds; and when that spasm passedI found myself standing face to face with the ‘cheerfulextravagant,’ in what sort of disarray I really dare notimagine, dead white at least, shaking like an aspen, and mowingat the man with speechless lips. And this was the soldierof Napoleon, and the gentleman who intended going next night toan Assembly Ball! I am the more particular in telling of mybreakdown, because it was my only experience of the sort; and itis a good tale for officers. I will allow no man to call mecoward; I have made my proofs; few men more. And yet I(come of the best blood in France and inured to danger from achild) did, for some ten or twenty minutes, make this hideousexhibition of myself on the streets of the New Town ofEdinburgh.

With my first available breath I begged his pardon. Iwas of an extremely nervous disposition, recently increased bylate hours; I could not bear the slightest start.

He seemed much concerned. ‘You must be in a devilof a state!’ said he; ‘though of course it was myfault—damnably silly, vulgar sort of thing to do! Athousand apologies! But you really must be run down; youshould consult a medico. My dear sir, a hair of the dogthat bit you is clearly indicated. A touch of Blue Ruin,now? Or, come: it’s early, but is man the slave ofhours? what do you say to a chop and a bottle in Dumbreck’sHotel?’

I refused all false comfort; but when he went on to remind methat this was the day when the University of Cramond met; and topropose a five-mile walk into the country and a dinner in thecompany of young asses like himself, I began to thinkotherwise. I had to wait until to-morrow evening, at anyrate; this might serve as well as anything else to bridge thedreary hours. The country was the very place for me: andwalking is an excellent sedative for the nerves.Remembering poor Rowley, feigning a cold in our lodgings andimmediately under the guns of the formidable and now doubtfulBethiah, I asked if I might bring my servant. ‘Poordevil! it is dull for him,’ I explained.

‘The merciful man is merciful to his ass,’observed my sententious friend. ‘Bring him by allmeans!

“The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy;”

and I have no doubt the orphan boy can get some cold victualsin the kitchen, while the Senatus dines.’

Accordingly, being now quite recovered from my unmanlycondition, except that nothing could yet induce me to cross theNorth Bridge, I arranged for my ball dress at a shop in LeithStreet, where I was not served ill, cut out Rowley from hisseclusion, and was ready along with him at the trysting-place,the corner of Duke Street and York Place, by a little aftertwo. The University was represented in force: elevenpersons, including ourselves, Byfield the aeronaut, and the talllad, Forbes, whom I had met on the Sunday morning, bedewed withtallow, at the ‘Hunters’ Rest.’ I wasintroduced; and we set off by way of Newhaven and the sea beach;at first through pleasant country roads, and afterwards along asuccession of bays of a fairylike prettiness, to ourdestination—Cramond on the Almond—a little hamlet ona little river, embowered in woods, and looking forth over agreat flat of quicksand to where a little islet stood planted inthe sea. It was miniature scenery, but charming of itskind. The air of this good February afternoon was bracing,but not cold. All the way my companions were skylarking,jesting and making puns, and I felt as if a load had been takenoff my lungs and spirits, and skylarked with the best ofthem.

Byfield I observed, because I had heard of him before, andseen his advertisem*nts, not at all because I was disposed tofeel interest in the man. He was dark and bilious and verysilent; frigid in his manners, but burning internally with agreat fire of excitement; and he was so good as to bestow a gooddeal of his company and conversation (such as it was) uponmyself, who was not in the least grateful. If I had knownhow I was to be connected with him in the immediate future, Imight have taken more pains.

In the hamlet of Cramond there is a hostelry of no verypromising appearance, and here a room had been prepared for us,and we sat down to table.

‘Here you will find no guttling or gormandising, noturtle or nightingales’ tongues,’ said theextravagant, whose name, by the way, was Dalmahoy.‘The device, sir, of the University of Cramond is PlainLiving and High Drinking.’

Grace was said by the Professor of Divinity, in a macaronicLatin, which I could by no means follow, only I could hear itrhymed, and I guessed it to be more witty than reverent.After which the Senatus Academicus sat down to roughplenty in the shape of rizzar’d haddocks and mustard, asheep’s head, a haggis, and other delicacies ofScotland. The dinner was washed down with brown stout inbottle, and as soon as the cloth was removed, glasses, boilingwater, sugar, and whisky were set out for the manufacture oftoddy. I played a good knife and fork, did not shun thebowl, and took part, so far as I was able, in the continual fireof pleasantry with which the meal was seasoned. Greatlydaring, I ventured, before all these Scotsmen, to tellSim’s Tale of Tweedie’s dog; and I was held to havedone such extraordinary justice to the dialect, ‘for aSouthron,’ that I was immediately voted into the Chair ofScots, and became, from that moment, a full member of theUniversity of Cramond. A little after, I found myselfentertaining them with a song; and a little after—perhaps alittle in consequence—it occurred to me that I had hadenough, and would be very well inspired to take Frenchleave. It was not difficult to manage, for it wasnobody’s business to observe my movements, and convivialityhad banished suspicion.

I got easily forth of the chamber, which reverberated with thevoices of these merry and learned gentlemen, and breathed a longbreath. I had passed an agreeable afternoon and evening,and I had apparently escaped scot free. Alas! when I lookedinto the kitchen, there was my monkey, drunk as a lord, topplingon the edge of the dresser, and performing on the flageolet to anaudience of the house lasses and some neighbouring ploughmen.

I routed him promptly from his perch, stuck his hat on, puthis instrument in his pocket, and set off with him forEdinburgh.

His limbs were of paper, his mind quite in abeyance; I mustuphold and guide him, prevent his frantic dives, and set himcontinually on his legs again. At first he sang wildly,with occasional outbursts of causeless laughter. Graduallyan inarticulate melancholy succeeded; he wept gently at times;would stop in the middle of the road, say firmly ‘No, no,no,’ and then fall on his back: or else address me solemnlyas ‘M’lord’ and fall on his face by way ofvariety. I am afraid I was not always so gentle with thelittle pig as I might have been, but really the position wasunbearable. We made no headway at all, and I suppose wewere scarce gotten a mile away from Cramond, when the wholeSenatus Academicus was heard hailing, and doubling thepace to overtake its.

Some of them were fairly presentable; and they were allChristian martyrs compared to Rowley; but they were in afrolicsome and rollicking humour that promised danger as weapproached the town. They sang songs, they ran races, theyfenced with their walking-sticks and umbrellas; and, in spite ofthis violent exercise, the fun grew only the more extravagantwith the miles they traversed. Their drunkenness wasdeep-seated and permanent, like fire in a peat; orrather—to be quite just to them—it was not so much tobe called drunkenness at all, as the effect of youth and highspirits—a fine night, and the night young, a good roadunder foot, and the world before you!

I had left them once somewhat unceremoniously; I could notattempt it a second time; and, burthened as I was with Mr.Rowley, I was really glad of assistance. But I saw thelamps of Edinburgh draw near on their hill-top with a good dealof uneasiness, which increased, after we had entered the lightedstreets, to positive alarm. All the passers-by wereaddressed, some of them by name. A worthy man was stoppedby Forbes. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘in the nameof the Senatus of the University of Cramond, I confer upon youthe degree of LL.D.,’ and with the words he bonnetedhim. Conceive the predicament of St. Ives, committed to thesociety of these outrageous youths, in a town where the policeand his cousin were both looking for him! So far, we hadpursued our way unmolested, although raising a clamour fit towake the dead; but at last, in Abercromby Place, Ibelieve—at least it was a crescent of highly respectablehouses fronting on a garden—Byfield and I, having fallensomewhat in the rear with Rowley, came to a simultaneoushalt. Our ruffians were beginning to wrench off bells anddoor-plates!

‘Oh, I say!’ says Byfield, ‘this is too muchof a good thing! Confound it, I’m a respectableman—a public character, by George! I can’tafford to get taken up by the police.’

‘My own case exactly,’ said I.

‘Here, let’s bilk them,’ said he.

And we turned back and took our way down hill again.

It was none too soon: voices and alarm bells sounded; watchmenhere and there began to spring their rattles; it was plain theUniversity of Cramond would soon be at blows with the police ofEdinburgh! Byfield and I, running the semi-inanimate Rowleybefore us, made good despatch, and did not stop till we wereseveral streets away, and the hubbub was already softened bydistance.

‘Well, sir,’ said he, ‘we are well out ofthat! Did ever any one see such a pack of youngbarbarians?’

‘We are properly punished, Mr. Byfield; we had nobusiness there,’ I replied.

‘No, indeed, sir, you may well say that!Outrageous! And my ascension announced for Friday, youknow!’ cried the aeronaut. ‘A prettyscandal! Byfield the aeronaut at the police-court!Tut-tut! Will you be able to get your rascal home,sir? Allow me to offer you my card. I am staying atWalker and Poole’s Hotel, sir, where I should be pleased tosee you.’

‘The pleasure would be mutual, sir,’ said I, but Imust say my heart was not in my words, and as I watched Mr.Byfield departing I desired nothing less than to pursue theacquaintance

One more ordeal remained for me to pass. I carried mysenseless load upstairs to our lodging, and was admitted by thelandlady in a tall white nightcap and with an expressionsingularly grim. She lighted us into the sitting-room;where, when I had seated Rowley in a chair, she dropped me acast-iron courtesy. I smelt gunpowder on the woman.Her voice, tottered with emotion.

‘I give ye nottice, Mr. Ducie,’ said she.‘Dacent folks’ houses . . .’

And at that apparently temper cut off her utterance, and shetook herself off without more words.

I looked about me at the room, the goggling Rowley, theextinguished fire; my mind reviewed the laughable incidents ofthe day and night; and I laughed out loud to myself—lonelyand cheerless laughter!.......

[At this point theAuthor’s MS. breaks off]


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