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Title: The Argosy - Vol. 51, No. 1, January, 1891
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Argosy - Vol. 51, No. 1, January, 1891" ***

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          _"Laden with Golden Grain"_

       *       *       *       *       *


                   EDITED BY
                CHARLES W. WOOD.

       *       *       *       *       *

                   VOLUME LI.

             _January to June, 1891._

       *       *       *       *       *

              RICHARD BENTLEY & SON,

       Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty.

              _All rights reserved._

              GREAT SAFFRON HILL, E.C.



  Chap. I. My Arrival at Deepley Walls                             Jan
       II. The Mistress of Deepley Walls                           Jan
      III. A Voyage of Discovery                                   Jan
       IV. Scarsdale Weir                                          Jan
        V. At Rose Cottage                                         Feb
       VI. The Growth of a Mystery                                 Feb
      VII. Exit Janet Hope                                         Feb
     VIII. By the Scotch Express                                   Feb
       IX. At "The Golden Griffin"                                 Mar
        X. The Stolen Manuscript                                   Mar
       XI. Bon Repos                                               Mar
      XII. The Amsterdam Edition of 1698                           Mar
     XIII. M. Platzoff's Secret--Captain Ducie's Translation of
           M. Paul Platzoff's MS                                   Mar
      XIV. Drashkil-Smoking                                        Apr
       XV. The Diamond                                             Apr
      XVI. Janet's Return                                          Apr
     XVII. Deepley Walls after Seven Years                         Apr
    XVIII. Janet in a New Character                                May
      XIX. The Dawn of Love                                        May
       XX. The Narrative of Sergeant Nicholas                      May
      XXI. Counsel taken with Mr. Madgin                           May
     XXII. Mr. Madgin at the Helm                                  Jun
    XXIII. Mr. Madgin's Secret Journey                             Jun
     XXIV. Enter Madgin Junior                                     Jun
      XXV. Madgin Junior's First Report                            Jun

       *       *       *       *       *


      Putting Them Up      Jan
      Playing Again        Feb
      Ringing at Midday    Mar
      Not Heard            Apr
      Silent for Ever      May

       *       *       *       *       *

      35 Illustrations     Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun

       *       *       *       *       *

About the Weather                                               Jun
Across the River. By HELEN M. BURNSIDE                          Apr
After Twenty Years. By ADA M. TROTTER                           Feb
A Memory. By GEORGE COTTERELL                                   Feb
A Modern Witch                                                  Jan
An April Folly. By GILBERT H. PAGE                              Apr
A Philanthropist. By ANGUS GREY                                 Jun
Aunt Phoebe's Heirlooms: An Experience in Hypnotism             Feb
A Social Debut                                                  Mar
A Song. By G.B. STUART                                          Jan
Enlightenment. By E. NESBIT                                     Feb
In a Bernese Valley. By ALEXANDER LAMONT                        Feb
Legend of an Ancient Minster. By JOHN GRÆME                     Mar
Longevity. By W.F. AINSWORTH, F.S.A.                            Apr
Mademoiselle Elise. By EDWARD FRANCIS                           Jun
Mediums and Mysteries. By NARISSA ROSAVO                        Feb
Miss Kate Marsden                                               Jan
My May Queen. By JOHN JERVIS BERESFORD, M.A.                    May
Old China                                                       Jun
On Letter-Writing. By A.H. JAPP, LL.D.                          May
Paul. By the Author of "Adonais, Q.C."                          May
"Proctorised"                                                   Apr
Rondeau. By E. NESBIT                                           Mar
Saint or Satan? By A. BERESFORD                                 Feb
Sappho. By MARY GREY                                            Mar
Serenade. By E. NESBIT                                          Jun
Sonnets. By JULIA KAVANAGH                       Jan, Feb, Apr, Jun
So Very Unattractive!                                           Jun
Spes. By JOHN JERVIS BERESFORD, M.A.                            Apr
Sweet Nancy. By JEANIE GWYNNE BETTANY                           May
The Church Garden. By CHRISTIAN BURKE                           May
The Only Son of his Mother. By LETITIA MCCLINTOCK               Mar
To my Soul. From the French of Victor Hugo                      Jun
Unexplained. By LETITIA MCCLINTOCK                              Apr
Who Was the Third Maid?                                         Jan
Winter in Absence                                               Feb

       *       *       *       *       *


Sonnets. By JULIA KAVANAGH                       Jan, Feb, Apr, Jun
A Song. By G.B. STUART                                          Jan
Enlightenment. By E. NESBIT                                     Feb
Winter in Absence                                               Feb
A Memory. By GEORGE COTTERELL                                   Feb
In a Bernese Valley. By ALEXANDER LAMONT                        Feb
Rondeau. By E. NESBIT                                           Mar
Spes. By JOHN JERVIS BERESFORD, M.A.                            Apr
Across the River. By HELEN M. BURNSIDE                          Apr
My May Queen. By JOHN JERVIS BERESFORD, M.A.                    May
The Church Garden. By CHRISTIAN BURKE                           May
Serenade. By E. NESBIT                                          Jun
To my Soul. From the French of Victor Hugo                      Jun
Old China                                                       Jun

       *       *       *       *       *


By M.L. Gow.

  "I advanced slowly up the room, stopped, and curtsied."

  "I saw and recognised the mysterious midnight visitor."

  "He came back in a few minutes, but so transformed in outward
    appearance that Ducie scarcely knew him."


  "Sister Agnes knelt for a few moments and bent her head in silent

  "He put his hand to his side, and motioned Mirpah to open the letter."

       *       *       *       *       *

Illustrations to "The Bretons at Home."


Page 31.]


_JANUARY, 1891._



I hardly know whether to write this history, or not; for its events did
not occur within my own recollection, and I can only relate them at
second-hand--from the Squire and others. They are curious enough;
especially as regards the three parsons--one following upon another--in
their connection with the Monk family, causing no end of talk in Church
Leet parish, as well as in other parishes within ear-shot.

About three miles' distance from Church Dykely, going northwards across
country, was the rural parish of Church Leet. It contained a few
farmhouses and some labourers' cottages. The church, built of grey
stone, stood in its large grave-yard; the parsonage, a commodious house,
was close by; both of them were covered with time-worn ivy. Nearly half
a mile off, on a gentle eminence, rose the handsome mansion called Leet
Hall, the abode of the Monk family. Nearly the whole of the
parish--land, houses, church and all--belonged to them. At the time I am
about to tell of they were the property of one man--Godfrey Monk.

The late owner of the place (except for one short twelvemonth) was old
James Monk, Godfrey's father. Old James had three sons and one
daughter--Emma--his wife dying early. The eldest son (mostly styled
"young James") was about as wild a blade as ever figured in story; the
second son, Raymond, was an invalid; the third, Godfrey, a reckless lad,
ran away to sea when he was fourteen.

If the Monks were celebrated for one estimable quality more than
another, it was temper: a cross-grained, imperious, obstinate temper.
"Run away to sea, has he?" cried old James when he heard the news; "very
well, at sea he shall stop." And at sea Godfrey did stop, not disliking
the life, and perhaps not finding any other open to him. He worked his
way up in the merchant service by degrees, until he became commander and
was called Captain Monk.

The years went on. Young James died, and the other two sons grew to be
middle-aged men. Old James, the father, found by signs and tokens that
his own time was approaching; and he was the next to go. Save for a
slender income bequeathed to Godfrey and to his daughter, the whole of
the property was left to Raymond, and to Godfrey after him if Raymond
had no son. The entail had been cut off in the past generation; for
which act the reasons do not concern us.

So Raymond, ailing greatly always, entered into possession of his
inheritance. He lived about a twelvemonth afterwards, and then died:
died unmarried. Therefore Godfrey came into all.

People were curious, the Squire says, as to what sort of man Godfrey
would turn out to be; for he had not troubled home much since he ran
away. He was a widower; that much was known; his wife having been a
native of Trinidad, in the West Indies.

A handsome man, with fair, curling hair (what was left of it); proud
blue eyes; well-formed features with a chronic flush upon them, for he
liked his glass, and took it; a commanding, imperious manner, and a
temper uncompromising as the grave. Such was Captain Godfrey Monk; now
in his forty-fifth year. Upon his arrival at Leet Hall after landing,
with his children and one or two dusky attendants in their train, he was
received by his sister Emma, Mrs. Carradyne. Major Carradyne had died
fighting in India, and his wife, at the request of her brother Raymond,
came then to live at Leet Hall. Not of necessity, for Mrs. Carradyne was
well off and could have made her home where she pleased, but Raymond had
liked to have her. Godfrey also expressed his pleasure that she should
remain; she could act as mother to his children.

Godfrey's children were three: Katherine, aged seventeen; Hubert, aged
ten; and Eliza, aged eight. The girls had their father's handsome
features, but in their skin there ran a dusky tinge, hinting of other
than pure Saxon blood; and they were every whit as haughtily self-willed
as he was. The boy, Hubert, was extremely pretty, his face fair, his
complexion delicately beautiful, his auburn hair bright, his manner
winning; but he liked to exercise his own will, and appeared to have
generally done it.

A day or two, and Mrs. Carradyne sat down aghast. "I never saw children
so troublesome and self-willed in all my life, Godfrey," she said to her
brother. "Have they ever been controlled at all?"

"Had their own way pretty much, I expect," answered the Captain. "I was
not often at home, you know, and there's nobody else they'd obey."

"Well, Godfrey, if I am to remain here, you will have to help me manage

"That's as may be, Emma. When I deem it necessary to speak, I speak;
otherwise I don't interfere. And you must not get into the habit of
appealing to me, recollect."

Captain Monk's conversation was sometimes interspersed with sundry light
words, not at all orthodox, and not necessarily delivered in anger. In
those past days swearing was regarded as a gentleman's accomplishment; a
sailor, it was believed, could not at all get along without it. Manners
change. The present age prides itself upon its politeness: but what of
its sincerity?

Mrs. Carradyne, mild and gentle, commenced her task of striving to tame
her brother's rebellious children. She might as well have let it alone.
The girls laughed at her one minute and set her at defiance the next.
Hubert, who had good feeling, was more obedient; he did not openly defy
her. At times, when her task pressed heavily upon her spirits, Mrs.
Carradyne felt tempted to run away from Leet Hall, as Godfrey had run
from it in the days gone by. Her own two children were frightened at
their cousins, and she speedily sent both to school, lest they should
catch their bad manners. Henry was ten, the age of Hubert; Lucy was
between five and six.

Just before the death of Raymond Monk, the living of Church Leet became
vacant, and the last act of his life was to present it to a worthy young
clergyman named George West. This caused intense dissatisfaction to
Godfrey. He had heard of the late incumbent's death, and when he arrived
home and found the living filled up he proclaimed his anger loudly,
lavishing abuse upon poor dead Raymond for his precipitancy. He had
wanted to bestow it upon a friend of his, a Colonial chaplain, and had
promised it to him. It was a checkmate there was no help for now, for
Mr. West could not be turned out again; but Captain Monk was not
accustomed to be checkmated, and resented it accordingly. He took up,
for no other reason, a most inveterate dislike to George West, and
showed it practically.

In every step the Vicar took, at every turn and thought, he found
himself opposed by Captain Monk. Had he a suggestion to make for the
welfare of the parish, his patron ridiculed it; did he venture to
propose some wise measure at a vestry meeting, the Captain put him and
his measure down. Not civilly either, but with a stinging contempt,
semi-covert though it was, that made its impression on the farmers
around. The Reverend George West was a man of humility, given to much
self-disparagement, so he bore all in silence and hoped for better

       *       *       *       *       *

The time went on; three years of it; Captain Monk had fully settled down
in his ancestral home, and the neighbours had learnt what a domineering,
self-willed man he was. But he had his virtues. He was kind in a general
way, generous where it pleased him to be, inordinately attached to his
children, and hospitable to a fault.

On the last day of every year, as the years came round, Captain Monk,
following his late father's custom, gave a grand dinner to his tenants;
and a very good custom it would have been, but that he and they got
rather too jolly. The parson was always invited--and went; and sometimes
a few of Captain Monk's personal friends were added.

Christmas came round this year as usual, and the invitations to the
dinner went out. One came to Squire Todhetley, a youngish man then, and
one to my father, William Ludlow, who was younger than the Squire. It
was a green Christmas; the weather so warm and genial that the hearty
farmers, flocking to Leet Hall, declared they saw signs of buds
sprouting in the hedges, whilst the large fire in the Captain's
dining-room was quite oppressive.

Looking from the window of the parsonage sitting-room in the twilight,
while drawing on his gloves, preparatory to setting forth, stood Mr.
West. His wife was bending over an easy-chair, in which their only
child, little Alice, lay back, covered up. Her breathing was quick, her
skin parched with fever. The wife looked sickly herself.

"Well, I suppose it is time to go," observed Mr. West, slowly. "I shall
be late if I don't."

"I rather wonder you go at all, George," returned his wife. "Year after
year, when you come back from this dinner, you invariably say you will
not go to another."

"I know it, Mary. I dislike the drinking that goes on--and the free
conversation--and the objectionable songs; I feel out of place in it

"And the Captain's contemptuous treatment of yourself, you might add."

"Yes, that is another unwelcome item in the evening's programme."

"Then, George, why _do_ you go?"

"Well, I think you know why. I do not like to refuse the invitation; it
would only increase Captain Monk's animosity and widen still further the
breach between us. As patron he holds so much in his power. Besides
that, my presence at the table does act, I believe, as a mild restraint
on some of them, keeping the drinking and the language somewhat within
bounds. Yes, I suppose my duty lies in going. But I shall not stay late,
Mary," added the parson, bending to look at the suffering child; "and if
you see any real necessity for the doctor to be called in to-night, I
will go for him."

"Dood-bye, pa-pa," lisped the little four-year-old maiden.

He kissed the little hot face, said adieu to his wife and went out,
hoping that the child would recover without the doctor; for the living
of Church Leet was but a poor one, though the parsonage house was so
handsome. It was a hundred-and-sixty pounds a year, for which sum the
tithes had been compounded, and Mr. West had not much money to spare
for superfluities--especially as he had to substantially help his

The twilight had deepened almost to night, and the lights in the mansion
seemed to smile a cheerful welcome as he approached it. The pillared
entrance, ascended to by broad steps, stood in the middle, and a raised
terrace of stone ran along before the windows on either side. It was
quite true that every year at the conclusion of these feasts, the Vicar
resolved never to attend another; but he was essentially a man of peace,
striving ever to lay oil upon troubled waters, after the example left by
his Master.

Dinner. The board was full. Captain Monk presided, genial to-day; genial
even to the parson. Squire Todhetley faced the Captain at the foot; Mr.
West sat at the Squire's right hand, between him and Farmer Threpp, a
quiet man and supposed to be a very substantial one. All went on
pleasantly; but when the elaborate dinner gave place to dessert and
wine-drinking, the company became rather noisy.

"I think it's about time you left us," cried the Squire by-and-by to
young Hubert, who sat next him on the other side: and over and over
again Mr. Todhetley has repeated to us in later years the very words
that passed.

"By George, yes!" put in a bluff and hearty fox-hunter, the master of
the hounds, bending forward to look at the lad, for he was in a line
with him, and breaking short off an anecdote he was regaling the company
with. "I forgot you were there, Master Hubert. Quite time you went to

"I daresay!" laughed the boy. "Please let me alone, all of you. I don't
want attention drawn to me."

But the slight commotion had attracted Captain Monk's notice. He saw his

"What's that?--Hubert! What brings you there now, you young pirate? I
ordered you to go out with the cloth."

"I am not doing any harm, papa," said the boy, turning his fair and
beautiful face towards his father.

Captain Monk pointed his stern finger at the door; a mandate which
Hubert dared not disobey, and he went out.

The company sat on, an interminable period of time it seemed to the
Vicar. He glanced stealthily at his watch. Eleven o'clock.

"Thinking of going, Parson?" said Mr. Threpp. "I'll go with you. My
head's not one of the strongest, and I've had about as much as I ought
to carry."

They rose quietly, not to disturb the table; intending to steal away, if
possible, without being observed. Unluckily, Captain Monk chanced to be
looking that way.

"Halloa! who's turning sneak?--Not you, surely, Parson!--" in a
meaningly contemptuous tone. "And _you_, Threpp, of all men! Sit down
again, both of you, if you don't want to quarrel with me. Odds fish!
has my dining-room got sharks in it, that you'd run away? Winter, just
lock the door, will you; you are close to it; and pass up the key to

Mr. Winter, a jovial old man and the largest tenant on the estate, rose
to do the Captain's behest, and sent up the key.

"Nobody quits my room," said the host, as he took it, "until we have
seen the old year out and the new one in. What else do you come for--eh,

The revelry went on. The decanters circulated more quickly, the glasses
clicked, the songs became louder, the Captain's sea stories broader. Mr.
West perforce made the best of the situation, certain words of Holy Writ
running through his memory:

"_Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour
in the cup, when it moveth itself aright!_"

Well, more than well, for Captain Monk, that he had not looked upon the
red wine that night!

In the midst of all this, the hall clock began to strike twelve. The
Captain rose, after filling his glass to the brim.

"Bumpers round, gentlemen. On your legs. Ready? Hooray! Here's to the
shade of the year that's gone, and may it have buried all our cares with
it! And here's good luck to the one setting-in. A happy New Year to you
all; and may we never know a moment in it worse than the present!
Three-times-three--and drain your glasses."

"But we have had the toast too soon!" called out one of the farmers,
making the discovery close after the cheers had subsided. "It wants some
minutes yet to midnight, Captain."

Captain Monk snatched out his watch--worn in those days in what was
called the fob-pocket--its chain and bunch of seals at the end hanging

"By Jupiter!" he exclaimed. "Hang that butler of mine! He knew the hall
clock was too fast, and I told him to put it back. If his memory serves
him no better than this, he may ship himself off to a fresh
berth.--Hark! Listen!"

It was the church clock striking twelve. The sound reached the
dining-room very clearly, the wind setting that way. "Another bumper,"
cried the Captain, and his guests drank it.

"This day twelvemonth I was at a feast in Derbyshire; the bells of a
neighbouring church rang-in the year with pleasant melody; chimes they
were," remarked a guest, who was a partial stranger. "Your church has no
bells, I suppose?"

"It has one; an old ting-tang that calls us to service on a Sunday,"
said Mr. Winter.

"I like to hear those midnight chimes, for my part. I like to hear them
chime-in the new year," went on the stranger.

"Chimes!" cried out Captain Monk, who was getting very considerably
elated, "why should we not have chimes? Mr. West, why don't we have

"Our church does not possess any, sir--as this gentleman has just
remarked," was Mr. West's answer.

"Egad, but that parson of ours is going to set us all ablaze with his
wit!" jerked out the Captain ironically. "I asked, sir, why we should
not get a set of chimes; I did not say we had got them. Is there any
just cause or impediment why we should not, Mr. Vicar?"

"Only the expense," replied the Vicar, in a conciliatory tone.

"Oh, bother expense! That's what you are always wanting to groan over.
Mr. Churchwarden Threpp, we will call a vestry meeting and make a rate."

"The parish could not bear it, Captain Monk," remonstrated the
clergyman. "You know what dissatisfaction was caused by the last extra
rate put on, and how low an ebb things are at just now."

"When I will a thing, I do it," retorted the Captain, with a meaning
word or two. "We'll send out the rate and we'll get the chimes."

"It will, I fear, lie in my duty to protest against it," spoke the
uneasy parson.

"It may lie in your duty to be a wet-blanket, but you won't protest me
out of my will. Gentlemen, we will all meet here again this time
twelvemonth, when the chimes shall ring-in the new year for you.--Here,
Dutton, you can unlock the door now," concluded the Captain, handing the
key to the other churchwarden. "Our parson is upon thorns to be away
from us."

Not the parson only, but several others availed themselves of the
opportunity to escape.


It perhaps did not surprise the parish to find that its owner and
master, Captain Monk, intended to persist in his resolution of
embellishing the church-tower with a set of chiming-bells. They knew him
too well to hope anything less. Why! two years ago, at the same annual
feast, some remarks or other at table put it into his head to declare he
would stop up the public path by the Rill; and his obstinate will
carried it out, regardless of the inconvenience it caused.

A vestry meeting was called, and the rate (to obtain funds for the
bells) was at length passed. Two or three voices were feebly lifted in
opposition; Mr. West alone had courage to speak out; but the Captain put
him down with his strong hand. It may be asked why Captain Monk did not
provide the funds himself for this whim. But he would never touch his
own pocket for the benefit of the parish if he could help it: and it was
thought that his antagonism to the parson was the deterring motive.

To impose the rate was one thing, to collect it quite another. Some of
the poorer ratepayers protested with tears in their eyes that they could
not pay. Superfluous rates (really not necessary ones) were perpetually
being inflicted upon them, they urged, and were bringing them, together
with a succession of recent bad seasons, to the verge of ruin. They
carried their remonstrances to their Vicar, and he in turn carried them
to Captain Monk.

It only widened the breach. The more persistently, though gently, Mr.
West pleaded the cause of his parishioners, asking the Captain to be
considerate to them for humanity's sake, the greater grew the other's
obstinacy in holding to his own will. To be thus opposed roused all the
devil within him--it was his own expression; and he grew to hate Mr.
West with an exceeding bitter hatred.

The chimes were ordered--to play one tune only. Mr. West asked, when the
thing was absolutely inevitable, that at least some sweet and sacred
melody, acceptable to church-going ears, might be chosen; but Captain
Monk fixed on a sea-song that was a favourite of his own--"The Bay of
Biscay." At the end of every hour, when the clock had struck, the Bay of
Biscay was to burst forth to charm the parish.

The work was put in hand at once, Captain Monk finding the necessary
funds, to be repaid by the proceeds of the rate. Other expenses were
involved, such as the strengthening of the belfry. The rate was not
collected quickly. It was, I say, one of those times of scarcity that
people used to talk so much of years ago; and when the parish beadle,
who was the parish collector, went round with the tax-paper in his hand,
the poorer of the cottagers could not respond to it. Some of them had
not paid the last levy, and Captain Monk threatened harsh measures.
Altogether, what with one thing or another, Church Leet that year was
kept in a state of ferment. But the work went on.

       *       *       *       *       *

One windy day in September, Mr. West sat in his study writing a sermon,
when a jarring crash rang out from the church close by. He leaped from
his chair. The unusual noise had startled him; and it struck on every
chord of vexation he possessed. He knew that workmen were busy in the
tower, but this was the first essay of the chimes. The bells had clashed
in some way one upon the other; not giving out The Bay of Biscay or any
other melody, but a very discordant jangle indeed. It was the first and
the last time that poor George West heard their sound.

He put the blotting-paper upon his sermon; he was in no mind to continue
it then; took up his hat and went out. His wife spoke to him from the
open window.

"Are you going out now, George? Tea is all but ready."

Turning back on the path, he passed into the sitting-room. A cup of tea
might soothe his nerves. The tea-tray stood on the table, and Mrs. West,
caddy in hand, was putting the tea into the tea-pot. Little Alice sat
gravely by.

"Did you hear dat noise up in the church, papa?" she asked.

"Yes, I heard it, dear," sighed the Vicar.

"A fine clashing it was!" cried Mrs. West. "I have heard something else
this afternoon, George, worse than that: Bean's furniture is being taken

"What?" cried the Vicar.

"It's true. Sarah went out on an errand and passed the cottage. The
chairs and tables were being put outside the door by two men, she says:
brokers, I conclude."

Mr. West made short work of his tea and started for the scene. Thomas
Bean was a very small farmer indeed, renting about thirty acres. What
with the heavy rates, as he said, and other outgoings and bad seasons,
and ill-luck altogether, he had been behind in his payments this long
while; and now the ill-luck seemed to have come to a climax. Bean and
his wife were old; their children were scattered abroad.

"Oh, sir," cried the old lady when she saw the Vicar, the tears raining
from her eyes, "it cannot be right that this oppression should fall upon
us! We had just managed--Heaven knows how, for I'm sure I don't--to pay
the Midsummer rent; and now they've come upon us for the rates, and have
took away things worth ten times the sum."

"For the rates!" mechanically spoke the Vicar.

She supposed it was a question. "Yes, sir; two of 'em we had in the
house. One was for putting up the chimes; and the other--well, I can't
just remember what the other was. The beadle, old Crow, comes in, sir,
this afternoon. 'Where be the master?' says he. 'Gone over to t'other
side of Church Dykely,' says I. 'Well,' says he, upon that, 'you be
going to have some visitors presently, and it's a pity he's out.'
'Visitors, for what, Crow?' says I. 'Oh, you'll see,' says he; 'and then
perhaps you'll wish you'd bestirred yourselves to pay your just dues.
Captain Monk's patience have been running on for a goodish while, and at
last it have run clean out.' Well, sir--"

She had to make a pause; unable to control her grief.

"Well, sir," she went on presently, "Crow's back was hardly turned, when
up came two men, wheeling a truck. I saw 'em afar off, by the ricks
yonder. One came in; t'other stayed outside with the truck. He asked me
whether I was ready with the money for the taxes; and I told him I was
not ready, and had but a couple of shillings in the house. 'Then I must
take the value of it in kind,' says he. And without another word, he
beckons in the outside man to help him. Our middle table, a mahogany,
they seized; and the handsome oak chest, which had been our pride; and
the master's arm-chair--But, there! I can't go on."

Mr. West felt nearly as sorrowful as she, and far more angry. In his
heart he believed that Captain Monk had done this oppressive thing in
revenge. A great deal of ill-feeling had existed in the parish touching
the rate made for the chimes; and the Captain assumed that the few who
had not yet paid it _would_ not pay--not that they could not.

Quitting the cottage in an impulse of anger, he walked swiftly to Leet
Hall. It lay in his duty, as he fully deemed, to avow fearlessly to
Captain Monk what he thought of this act of oppression, and to protest
against it. The beams of the setting sun, sinking below the horizon in
the still autumn evening, fell across the stubbled fields from which the
corn had not long been reaped; all around seemed to speak of peace.

To accommodate two gentlemen who had come from Worcester that day to
Leet Hall on business, and wished to quit it again before dark, the
dinner had been served earlier than usual. The guests had left, but
Captain Monk was seated still over his wine in the dining-room when Mr.
West was shown in. In crossing the hall to it, he met Mrs. Carradyne,
who shook hands with him cordially.

Captain Monk looked surprised. "Why, this is an unexpected pleasure--a
visit from you, Mr. Vicar," he cried, in mocking jest. "Hope you have
come to your senses! Sit down. Will you take port or sherry?"

"Captain Monk," returned the Vicar, gravely, as he took the chair the
servant had placed, "I am obliged for your courtesy, but I did not
intrude upon you this evening to drink wine. I have seen a very sad
sight, and I am come hoping to induce you to repair it."

"Seen what?" cried the Captain, who, it is well to mention, had been
taking his wine very freely, even for him. "A flaming sword in the sky?"

"Your tenants, poor Thomas Bean and his wife, are being turned out of
house and home, or almost equivalent to it. Some of their furniture has
been seized this afternoon to satisfy the demand for these disputed

"Who disputes the taxes?"

"The tax imposed for the chimes was always a disputed tax; and--"

"Tush!" interrupted the Captain; "Bean owes other things as well as

"It was the last feather, sir, which broke the camel's back."

"The last feather will not be taken off, whether it breaks backs or
leaves them whole," retorted the Captain, draining his glass of port and
filling it again. "Take you note of that, Mr. Parson."

"Others are in the same condition as the Beans--quite unable to pay
these rates. I pray you, Captain Monk--I am here to _pray_ you--not to
proceed in the same manner against them. I would also pray you, sir, to
redeem this act of oppression, by causing their goods to be returned to
these two poor, honest, hard-working people."

"Hold your tongue!" retorted the Captain, aroused to anger. "A pretty
example _you'd_ set, let you have your way. Every one of the lot shall
be made to pay to the last farthing. Who the devil is to pay, do you
suppose, if they don't?"

"Rates are imposed upon the parish needlessly, Captain Monk; it has been
so ever since my time here. Pardon me for saying that if you put up
chimes to gratify yourself, you should bear the expense, and not throw
it upon those who have a struggle to get bread to eat."

Captain Monk drank off another glass. "Any more treason, Parson?"

"Yes," said Mr. West, "if you like to call it so. My conscience tells me
that the whole procedure in regard to setting up these chimes is so
wrong, so manifestly unjust, that I have determined not to allow them to
be heard until the rates levied for them are refunded to the poor and
oppressed. I believe I have the power to close the belfry-tower, and I
shall act upon it."

"By Jove! do you think _you_ are going to stand between me and my will?"
cried the Captain passionately. "Every individual who has not yet paid
the rate shall be made to pay it to-morrow."

"There is another world, Captain Monk," interposed the mild voice of the
minister, "to which, I hope, we are all--"

"If you attempt to preach to me--"

At this moment a spoon fell to the ground by the sideboard. The Vicar
turned to look; his back was towards it; the Captain peered also at the
end of the rapidly-darkening room: when both became aware that one of
the servants--Michael, who had shown in Mr. West--stood there; had stood
there all the time.

"What are you waiting for, sirrah?" roared his master. "We don't want
_you_. Here! put this window open an inch or two before you go; the
room's close."

"Shall I bring lights, sir?" asked Michael, after doing as he was

"No: who wants lights? Stir the fire into a blaze."

Michael left them. It was from him that thus much of the conversation
was subsequently known.

Not five minutes had elapsed when a commotion was heard in the
dining-room. Then the bell rang violently, and the Captain opened the
door--overturning a chair in his passage to it--and shouted out for a
light. More than one servant flew to obey the order: in his hasty moods
their master brooked not delay: and three separate candles were carried

"Good lack, master!" exclaimed the butler, John Rimmer, who was a native
of Church Dykely, "what's amiss with the Parson?"

"Lift him up, and loosen his neck-cloth," said Captain Monk, his tone
less imperious than usual.

Mr. West lay on the hearthrug near his chair, his head resting close to
the fender. Rimmer raised his head, another servant took off his black
neck-tie; for it was only on high days that the poor Vicar indulged in
a white one. He gasped twice, struggled slightly, and then lay quietly
in the butler's arms.

"Oh, sir!" burst forth the man in a horror-stricken voice to his master,
"this is surely death!"

It surely was. George West, who had gone there but just before in the
height of health and strength, had breathed his last.

How did it happen? How could it have happened? Ay, how indeed? It was a
question which has never been entirely solved in Church Leet to this

Captain Monk's account, both privately and at the inquest, was this: As
they talked further together, after Michael left the room, the Vicar
went on to browbeat him shamefully about the new chimes, vowing they
should never play, never be heard; at last, rising in an access of
passion, the Parson struck him (the Captain) in the face. He returned
the blow--who wouldn't return it?--and the Vicar fell. He believed his
head must have struck against the iron fender in falling: if not, if the
blow had been an unlucky one (it took effect just behind the left ear),
it was only given in self-defence. The jury, composed of Captain Monk's
tenants, expressed themselves satisfied, and returned a verdict of
Accidental Death.

"A false account," pronounced poor Mrs. West, in her dire tribulation.
"My husband never struck him--never; he was not one to be goaded into
unbecoming anger, even by Captain Monk. _George struck no blow
whatever_; I can answer for it. If ever a man was murdered, he has

Curious rumours arose. It was said that Mrs. Carradyne, taking the air
on the terrace outside in the calmness of the autumn evening, heard the
fatal quarrel through the open window; that she heard Mr. West, after he
had received the death blow, wail forth a prophecy (or whatever it might
be called) that those chimes would surely be accursed; that whenever
their sound should be heard, so long as they were suffered to remain in
the tower, it should be the signal of woe to the Monk family.

Mrs. Carradyne utterly denied this; she had not been on the terrace at
all, she said. Upon which the onus was shifted to Michael: who, it was
suspected, had stolen out to listen to the end of the quarrel, and had
heard the ominous words. Michael, in his turn, also denied it; but he
was not believed. Anyway, the covert whisper had gone abroad and would
not be laid.


Captain Monk speedily filled up the vacant living, appointing to it the
Reverend Thomas Dancox, an occasional visitor at Leet Hall, who was
looking out for one.

The new Vicar turned out to be a man after the Captain's heart, a
rollicking, jovial, fox-hunting young parson, as many a parson was in
those days--and took small blame to himself for it. He was only a year
or two past thirty, good-looking, of taking manners and
hail-fellow-well-met with the parish in general, who liked him and
called him to his face Tom Dancox.

All this pleased Captain Monk. But very soon something was to arrive
that did not please him--a suspicion that the young parson and his
daughter Katherine were on rather too good terms with one another.

One day in November he stalked into the drawing-room, where Katherine
was sitting with her aunt. Hubert and Eliza were away at school, also
Mrs. Carradyne's two children.

"Was Dancox here last night?" began Captain Monk.

"Yes," replied Mrs. Carradyne.

"And the evening before--Monday?"

Mrs. Carradyne felt half afraid to answer, the Captain's tone was
becoming so threatening. "I--I think so," she rather hesitatingly said.
"Was he not, Katherine?"

Katherine Monk, a dark, haughty young woman, twenty-one now, turned
round with a flush on her handsome face. "Why do you ask, papa?"

"I ask to be answered," replied he, standing with his hands in the
pockets of his velveteen shooting coat, a purple tinge of incipient
anger rising in his cheeks.

"Then Mr. Dancox did spend Monday evening here."

"And I saw him walking with you in the meadow by the rill this morning,"
continued the Captain. "Look here, Katherine, _no sweet-hearting with
Tom Dancox_. He may do very well for a parson; I like him as such, as
such only, you understand; but he can be no match for you."

"You are disturbing yourself unnecessarily, sir," said Katherine, her
own tone an angry one.

"Well, I hope that is so; I should not like to think otherwise. Anyway,
a word in season does no harm; and, take you notice that I have spoken
it. You also, Emma."

As he left the room, Mrs. Carradyne spoke, dropping her voice:
"Katherine, you know that I had already warned you. I told you it would
not do to fall into any particular friendship with Mr. Dancox; that your
father would never countenance it."

"And if I were to?--and if he did not?" scornfully returned Katherine.
"What then, Aunt Emma?"

"Be silent, child; you must not talk in that strain. Your papa is
perfectly right in this matter. Tom Dancox is not suitable in any
way--for _you_."

This took place in November. Katherine paid little heed to the advice;
she was not one to put up with advice of any sort, and she and Mr.
Dancox met occasionally under the rose. Early in December she went with
Mr. Dancox into the Parsonage, while he searched for a book he was
about to lend her. That was the plea; the truth, no doubt, being that
the two wanted a bit of a chat in quiet. As ill-luck had it, when she
was coming out again, the Parson in attendance on her as far as the
gate, Captain Monk came by.

A scene ensued. Captain Monk, in a terrible access of passion, vowed by
all the laws of the Medes and Persians, which alter not, that never, in
life or after death, should those two rebellious ones be man and wife,
and he invoked unheard-of penalties on their heads should they dare to
contemplate disobedience to his decree.

Thenceforth there was no more open rebellion; upon the surface all
looked smooth. Captain Monk understood the folly to be at an end: that
the two had come to their senses; and he took Tom Dancox back into
favour. Mrs. Carradyne assumed the same. But Katherine had her father's
unyielding will, and the Parson was bold and careless, and in love.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last day of the year came round, and the usual banquet would come
with it. The weather this Christmas was not like that of last; the white
snow lay on the ground, the cold biting frost hardened the glistening
icicles on the trees.

And the chimes? Ready these three months past, they had not yet been
heard. They would be to-night. Whether Captain Monk wished the
remembrance of Mr. West's death to die away a bit first, or that he
preferred to open the treat on the banqueting night, certain it was that
he had kept them silent. When the church clock should toll the midnight
knell of the old year, the chimes would ring out to welcome the new one
and gladden the ears of Church Leet.

But not without a remonstrance. That morning, as the Captain sat in his
study writing a letter, Mrs. Carradyne came to him.

"Godfrey," she said in a low and pleading tone, "you will not suffer the
chimes to play to-night, will you? Pray do not."

"Not suffer the chimes to play?" cried the Captain. "But indeed I shall.
Why, this is the special night they were put up for."

"I know it, Godfrey. But--you cannot think what a strangely-strong
feeling I have against it: an instinct, it seems to me. The chimes have
brought nothing but discomfort and disaster yet; they may bring more in
the future."

Captain Monk stared at her. "What d'ye mean, Emma?"

"_I would never let them be heard_," she said impressively. "I would
have them taken down again. The story went about, you know, that poor
George West in dying prophesied that whenever they should be heard woe
would fall upon this house. I am not superstitious, Godfrey, but--"

Sheer passion had tied, so far, Godfrey Monk's lips. "Not
superstitious!" he raved out. "You are worse than that, Emma--a fool.
How dare you bring your nonsense here? There's the door."

The banquet hour approached. Nearly all the guests of last year were
again present in the warm and holly-decorated dining-room, the one
notable exception being the ill-fated Parson West. Parson Dancox came in
his stead, and said grace from the post of honour at the Captain's right
hand. Captain Monk did not appear to feel any remorse or regret: he was
jovial, free, and grandly hospitable; one might suppose he had promoted
the dead clergyman to a canonry instead of to a place in the churchyard.

"What became of the poor man's widow, Squire?" whispered a gentleman
from the neighbourhood of Evesham to Mr. Todhetley, who sat on the
left-hand of his host; Sir Thomas Rivers taking the foot of the table
this year.

"Mrs. West? Well, we heard she opened a girls' school up in London,"
breathed the Squire.

"And what tale was that about his leaving a curse on the chimes?--I
never heard the rights of it."

"Hush!" said the Squire cautiously. "Nobody talks of that here. Or
believes it, either. Poor West was a man to leave a blessing behind him;
never a curse."

Hubert, at home for the holidays, was again at table. He was fourteen
now, tall of his age and slender, his blue eyes bright, his complexion
delicately beautiful. The pleated cambric frill of his shirt, which hung
over the collar of his Eton jacket after the fashion of the day, was
carried low in front, displaying the small white throat; his golden hair
curled naturally. A boy to admire and be proud of. The manners were more
decorous this year than they ever had been, and Hubert was allowed to
sit on. Possibly the shadow of George West's unhappy death lay
insensibly upon the party.

It was about half-past nine o'clock when the butler came into the room,
bringing a small note, twisted up, to his master from Mrs. Carradyne.
Captain Monk opened it and held it towards one of the lighted branches
to read the few words it contained.

     "_A gentleman is asking to speak a word to Mr. Dancox. He says it
     is important._"

Captain Monk tore the paper to bits. "_Not to-night_, tell your
mistress, is my answer," said he to Rimmer. "Hubert, you can go to your
aunt now; it's past your bed-time."

There could be no appeal, as the boy knew; but he went off unwillingly
and in bitter resentment against Mrs. Carradyne. He supposed she had
sent for him.

"What a cross old thing you are, Aunt Emma!" he exclaimed as he entered
the drawing-room on the other side the hall. "You won't let Harry go in
at all to the banquets, and you won't let me stay at them! Papa meant--I
think he meant--to let me remain there to hear the chimes. Why need you
have interfered to send for me?"

"I neither interfered with you, Hubert, nor sent for you. A gentleman,
who did not give his name and preferred to wait outside, wants to see
Mr. Dancox; that's all," said Mrs. Carradyne. "You gave my note to your
master, Rimmer?"

"Yes, ma'am," replied the butler. "My master bade me say to you that his
answer was _not to-night_."

Katherine Monk, her face betraying some agitation, rose from the piano.
"Was the message not given to Mr. Dancox?" she asked of Rimmer.

"Not while I was there, Miss Katherine. The master tore the note into
bits, after reading it; and dropped them under the table."

Now it chanced that Mr. Dancox, glancing covertly at the note while the
Captain held it to the light, had read what was written there. For a few
minutes he said nothing. The Captain was busy sending round the wine.

"Captain Monk--pardon me--I saw my name on that bit of paper; it caught
my eye as you held it out," he said in a low tone. "Am I called out? Is
anyone in the parish dying?"

Thus questioned, Captain Monk told the truth. No one was dying, and he
was not called out to the parish. Some gentleman was asking to speak to
him; only that.

"Well, I'll just see who it is, and what he wants," said Mr. Dancox,
rising. "Won't be away two minutes, sir."

"Bring him back with you; tell him he'll find good wine here and jolly
cheer," said the Captain. And Mr. Dancox went out, swinging his
table-napkin in his hand.

In crossing the hall he met Katherine, exchanged a hasty word with her,
let fall the serviette on a chair as he caught up his hat and overcoat,
and went out. Katherine ran upstairs.

Hubert lay down on one of the drawing-room sofas. In point of fact, that
young gentleman could not walk straight. A little wine takes effect on
youngsters, especially when they are not accustomed to it. Mrs.
Carradyne told Hubert the best place for him was bed. Not a bit of it,
the boy answered: he should go out on the terrace at twelve o'clock; the
chimes would be fine, heard out there. He fell asleep almost as he
spoke; presently he woke up, feeling headachy, cross and stupid, and of
his own accord went up to bed.

Meanwhile, the dining-room was getting jollier and louder as the time
passed on towards midnight. Great wonder was expressed at the non-return
of the parson; somebody must be undoubtedly grievously sick or dying.
Mr. Speck, the quiet little Hurst Leet doctor, dissented from this.
Nobody was dying in the parish, he affirmed, or sick enough to need a
priest; as a proof of it, _he_ had not been sent for.

Ring, ring, ring! broke forth the chimes on the quiet midnight air, as
the church clock finished striking twelve. It was a sweet sound; even
those prejudiced against the chimes could hear that: the windows had
been opened in readiness.

The glasses were charged; the company stood on their legs, some of them
not at all steady legs just then, bending their ears to listen. Captain
Monk stood in his place, majestically waving his head and his left hand
to keep time in harmony with the Bay of Biscay. His right hand held his
goblet in readiness for the toast when the sounds should cease.

Ring, ring, ring! chimed the last strokes of the bells, dying away to
faintness on the still evening air. Suddenly, amidst the hushed silence,
and whilst the sweet melody fell yet unbroken on the room, there arose a
noise as of something falling outside on the terrace, mingled with a
wild scream and the crash of breaking glass.

One of the guests rushed to the window, and put his head out of it. So
far as he could see, he said (perhaps his sight was somewhat obscured),
it was a looking-glass lying further up on the terrace.

Thrown out from one of the upper windows! scornfully pronounced the
Captain, full of wrath that it should have happened at that critical
moment to mar the dignity of his coming toast. And he gave the toast
heartily; and the new year came in for them all with good wishes and
good wine.

Some little time yet ere the company finally rose. The mahogany frame of
the broken looking-glass, standing on end, was conspicuous on the white
ground in the clear frosty night, as they streamed out from the house.
Mr. Speck, whose sight was rather remarkably good, peered at it
curiously from the hall steps, and then walked quickly along the snowy
terrace towards it.

Sure enough, it was a looking-glass, broken in its fall from an open
window above. But, lying by it in the deep snow, in his white
nightshirt, was Hubert Monk.

When the chimes began to play, Hubert was not asleep. Sitting up in bed,
he disposed himself to listen. After a bit they began to grow fainter;
Hubert impatiently dashed to the window and threw it up to its full
height as he jumped on the dressing-table, when in some unfortunate way
he overbalanced himself, and pitched out on the terrace beneath,
carrying the looking-glass with him. The fall was not much, for his room
was in one of the wings, the windows of which were low; but the boy had
struck his head in falling, and there he had lain, insensible, on the
terrace, one hand still clasping the looking-glass.

All the rosy wine-tint fading away to a sickly paleness on the Captain's
face, he looked down on his well-beloved son. The boy was carried
indoors to his room, reviving with the movement.

"Young bones are elastic," pronounced Mr. Speck, when he had examined
him; "and none of these are broken. He will probably have a cold from
the exposure; that's about the worst."

He seemed to have it already: he was shivering from head to foot now, as
he related the above particulars. All the family had assembled round
him, except Katherine.

"Where is Katherine?" suddenly inquired her father, noticing her

"I cannot think where she is," said Mrs. Carradyne. "I have not seen her
for an hour or two. Eliza says she is not in her room; I sent her to
see. She is somewhere about, of course."

"Go and look for your sister, Eliza. Tell her to come here," said
Captain Monk. But though Eliza went at once, her quest was useless.

Miss Katherine was not in the house: Miss Katherine had made a moonlight
flitting from it that evening with the Reverend Thomas Dancox.

You will hear more in the next paper.



    Blue eyes that laugh at early morn
      May weep ere close of day;
    And weeping is a thing of scorn
      To those whose hearts are gay.
    Ah, simple souls, beware, beware!
    Time's finger changeth smile to care!

    Gold locks that glitter as the sun
      May sudden fade to grey;
    And who shall favour anyone
      Despoiled of bright array?
    Ah, simple souls, beware of loss,
    Time's finger changeth gold to dross!

    Good lack! we talk, yet all the same
      We throw our words away!
    The smiles, the gold, the tears, the shame,
      Each tries them in his day.
    And Time, with vengeful finger, makes
    Of fondest goods our chief mistakes!



In this practical age we are inclined to estimate people by the worth of
what they do, and thus it happens that Miss Kate Marsden and her mission
are creating an interest and genuine admiration in the hearts of the
people such as few individuals or circumstances have power to call

The work she has set herself to do, regardless of the dangers and
difficulties she will have to encounter, seems to us, who look out from
the security of our homes in this favoured land, almost beyond human
power to perform. It is, in fact, appalling.

Even Miss Nightingale, who never exaggerates, writes of this lady:
"Surely no human being ever needed the loving Father's help and guidance
more than this brave woman." And in this the readers of THE
ARGOSY will fully agree.

Her purpose is to travel through Russia to the extreme points of
Siberia, chiefly for the purpose of seeing the condition of those
affected with incurable disease, and what can be done to improve their
surroundings and mitigate their sufferings.

This, if it stood alone, would be a grand work; but it is by no means
all she hopes to do.

It is her purpose to join the gangs of exiles on their way to Siberia,
to note their treatment, to halt at their halting-stages, and see if it
be true that there is an utter absence of all sanitary appliances; that
filth and cruelty are in evidence; and that the strongest constitutions
break down under conditions unfit for brute beasts. She will investigate
the assertions that delicate innocent women and children are chained to
vile criminals, and so made to take their way on foot thousands of miles
to far-off Siberia; often for no other crime than some careless words
spoken against the Greek Church or the Czar.

She hopes fully to inspect the prisons and mines in those far-off
regions, described by the Russians themselves as "living tombs." She
will, if possible, go into the cells of the condemned exiles, whose
walls are bare, except for their living covering of myriads of insects;
and, lastly, she intends to visit the Jews' quarters, and satisfy our
minds as to the existence of the terrible cruelties inflicted upon this
persecuted race, the hearing of which alone is heart-breaking.

And all through her perilous journeys we may be sure she will lose no
opportunity of comforting and helping the suffering ones who come under
her notice, no matter what their race or condition.

This line of conduct will have its dangers; but she holds not her life
dear unto her, so that she may accomplish her heart's desire. The
practical result looked forward to by her is, that, having gained an
intimate knowledge of the sufferings and cruelties inflicted upon so
many thousands of Russian subjects, and of which there have been such
conflicting accounts, she may be admitted a second time into the
presence of the Empress, there to place the actual scenes before her,
and to plead the cause of the sufferers personally.

Strange to say, she is convinced in her own mind that the Emperor and
Empress of Russia are ignorant of a great deal that is done in their
name; or, as the phrase is, "By order of the Czar;" and that they know
little of the results of those Edicts and Ukase which are causing such
dire misery to thousands of their subjects, not only to the
long-suffering Jews but also to Christian women and children; and it is
her belief that if the truth could be placed before them, as she hopes
to place it, they will attack the evil even at the cost of life or

This is quite a different view from that which obtains generally; and if
Miss Kate Marsden should be able to prove her point, and bring before
them the pictures of what she may see on her journey to and from
Siberia, she will score a result such as has fallen to no one's
endeavour hitherto.

It is only now and then in a lifetime that we meet a woman capable of
such a grand work as this which Miss Kate Marsden has taken upon
herself; and the reason is that the qualifications necessary are so
rarely found in combination in one and the same individual. Many among
us may have one or other of the characteristics, but it is the existence
of them all in one person that makes the heroine and gives the power.

You cannot be an hour in Miss Kate Marsden's company without becoming
aware of her enthusiasm, her courage, her self-devotion, her
fearlessness, and above all her simple child-like faith. It avails
nothing that you place before her the trials, the horrors, the dangers,
the possible failure of such an undertaking as hers. The necessity of
the work to be done she considers imperative, and the certainty in her
mind that it is her mission to do it carries all before it.

The bravest among us would hesitate before deciding upon a tour in
Russia and Siberia, supposing it were one of pleasure or of scientific
research, because even under these favourable conditions we should be
subject to ignominious surveillance night and day, and the chances of
leaving the country when we pleased would be very small; but what can we
say of a young and delicate woman who, voluntarily and without thought
of self, deliberately walks into the country where deeds are done daily
which make us shrink with fear, and which, for very shame for the
century in which we live, we try hard not to believe? It is as if with
eyes open she walked into a den of lions and expected them to give her a
loving welcome and a free egress.

Heaven help her, for she is in the midst of it and has begun her work;
the result of her fearlessness remains to be seen. I doubt greatly
whether we shall be allowed to receive reports of her daily life out
there, even where postal regulations are in force. We can but follow
her on her way from Moscow to Tomsk in thought, and picture to ourselves
the thousands of exiles she will find waiting there herded together like
brute beasts. She will not turn from them, even though typhoid be raging
amongst them--one can see her moving in and out among these miserable,
debased human beings, who lie tossing on those terrible wooden shelves,
helping them according to their needs; for she carries with her remedies
for pain and disease of body, and her simple faith will find means of
comforting heart and soul.

If any of those twenty thousand exiles who have this year trod the weary
way between Petersburg and Tomsk, and on again to the far-off districts
of Siberia, should hear of the coming of this gentle woman, strong only
in her love for them, I think it would kindle a spark of hope again in
their hearts. They would know that at least they were remembered by
someone in the land of the living.

Miss Kate Marsden has dared so much for these poor suffering ones that
she will not easily be turned aside by excessive politeness or brutality
on the part of officials from seeing the actual state of things. She
will not, I think, be content with viewing the Provincial Prison at
Tomsk, which is light and airy and occupied by local offenders, instead
of the _forwarding_ prison which, according to the accounts that reach
us, is a disgrace to the civilized world, and where the exiles are
lodged while waiting to be "forwarded."

I pity Miss Kate Marsden if it should ever be her lot to witness the
knout used to a woman without the power of stopping it, or retaliating
upon the brute who is inflicting it. It would be almost the death of

If we have been successful in interesting the readers of THE
ARGOSY in this lady and her mission, they will like to know that
she is not a wilful person starting off on a wild-goose chase on a
generous impulse without at all counting the cost. On the contrary, the
work she is now doing has been the desire of her life, and all the
training and discipline to which she has subjected herself has been for
the purpose of fitting her for it.

From her earliest childhood she has been an indefatigable worker among
the sick and wounded, with whom she has ever had the most intense
sympathy, and consequently an extraordinary power to soothe and comfort.

Young as she was at the time of the Turko-Russian war, she did good
service on the battle-fields and worked untiringly among every kind of
depressing surrounding. The beautiful cross upon her breast is a gift
from the Empress of Russia, as a recognition of the good work she did
among the wounded soldiers at that time. From that day to this, whether
in England or in New Zealand, her work has been steadily going on, ever
gaining information and experience, and at the same time doing an amount
of good difficult to calculate.

For one whole year she became, what I call for want of a better name,
an itinerant teacher of ambulance work, in places out of reach of
doctors in New Zealand. She taught the people how to deal with accidents
caused by the falling of trees, cuts with the axe, or kicks from vicious
horses, all of which are of frequent occurrence in the Bush. Again, she
taught the miners how to make use of surrounding materials in case of an
injury: how to bandage, and how to make a stretcher for moving a wounded
person from one place to another with such things as were handy, viz.,
with two poles and a man's coat, the poles to be placed through the arms
and the coat itself to be buttoned securely over the poles. Another
thing she taught in these out-of-the-way places was how to deal with
burns and foreign matter in the eye or ear--also accidents of frequent

Many interesting and exciting scenes could be related of this part of
her life, but I hesitate to do more than show her training and fitness
for the work she is now doing.

It is a work we all want done, and would gladly take part in had we the
qualifications for it. It is a work which, if well and honestly done,
will deserve the best thanks of England and of the whole civilized
world. She may not live to tell us, but her life will not have been
lived in vain if she prove successful in getting at the truth of what is
done _By order of the Czar_, and presenting it to the Czar himself.

We cannot travel with her bodily; we cannot hunger or perish with cold
in her company; we cannot fight with dogs and wolves as she must do; we
cannot, with her, go into the dens of immorality and fever; but we can
determine upon some way of helping her, and I think we shall only be too
thankful to join her friends who by giving of their means are
participating in so grand a mission.


A Story Re-told.



"Miss Janet Hope,
    To the care of Lady Chillington,
        Deepley Walls, near Eastbury,

"There, miss, I'm sure that will do famously," said Chirper, the
overworked, oldish young person whose duty it was to attend to the
innumerable wants of the young lady boarders of Park Hill Seminary. She
had just written out, in a large sprawling hand, a card as above which
card was presently to be nailed on to the one small box that held the
whole of my worldly belongings.

"And I think, miss," added Chirper, meditatively, as she held out the
card at arm's length, and gazed at it admiringly, "that if I was to
write out another card similar, and tie it round your arm, it would,
mayhap, help you in getting safe to your journey's end."

I, a girl of twelve, was the Janet Hope indicated above, and I had been
looking over Chirper's shoulder with wondering eyes while she addressed
the card.

"But who is Lady Chillington, and where is Deepley Walls, and what have
I to do with either, Chirper, please?" I asked.

"If there is one thing in little girls more hateful than another, it is
curiosity," answered Chirper, with her mouth half-full of nails.
"Curiosity has been the bane of many of our sex. Witness Bluebeard's
unhappy wife. If you want to know more, you must ask Mrs. Whitehead. I
have my instructions and I act on them."

Meeting Mrs. Whitehead half-an-hour later, as she was coming down the
stone corridor that led from the refectory, I did ask that lady
precisely the same questions that I had put to Chirper. Her frosty
glance, filled with a cold surprise, smote me even through her
spectacles; and I shrank a little, abashed at my own boldness.

"The habit of asking questions elsewhere than in the class-room should
not be encouraged in young ladies," said Mrs. Whitehead, with a sort of
prim severity. "The other young ladies are gone home; you are about to
follow their example."

"But, Mrs. Whitehead--madam," I pleaded, "I never had any other home
than Park Hill."

"More questioning, Miss Hope? Fie! Fie!"

And with a lean finger uplifted in menacing reproval, Mrs. Whitehead
sailed on her way, nor deigned me another word.

I stole out into the playground, wondering, wretched, and yet smitten
through with faint delicious thrillings of a new-found happiness such as
I had often dreamed of, but had scarcely dared hope ever to realise. I,
Janet Hope, going home! It was almost too incredible for belief. I
wandered about like one mazed--like one who, stepping suddenly out of
darkness into sunshine, is dazzled by an intolerable brightness
whichever way he turns his eyes. And yet I was wretched: for was not
Miss Chinfeather dead? And that, too, was a fact almost too incredible
for belief.

As I wandered, this autumn morning, up and down the solitary playground,
I went back in memory as far as memory would carry me, but only to find
that Miss Chinfeather and Park Hill Seminary blocked up the way. Beyond
them lay darkness and mystery. Any events in my child's life that might
have happened before my arrival at Park Hill had for me no authentic
existence. I had been part and parcel of Miss Chinfeather and the
Seminary for so long a time that I could not dissociate myself from them
even in thought. Other pupils had had holidays, and letters, and
presents, and dear ones at home of whom they often talked; but for me
there had been none of these things. I knew that I had been placed at
Park Hill when a very little girl by some, to me, mysterious and unknown
person, but further than that I knew nothing. The mistress of Park Hill
had not treated me in any way differently from her other pupils; but had
not the bills contracted on my account been punctually paid by somebody,
I am afraid that the even-handed justice on which she prided
herself--which, in conjunction with her aquiline nose and a certain
antique severity of deportment, caused her to be known amongst us girls
as _The Roman Matron_--would have been somewhat ruffled, and that
sentence of expulsion from those classic walls would have been promptly
pronounced and as promptly carried into effect.

Happily no such necessity had ever arisen; and now the Roman Matron lay
dead in the little corner room on the second floor, and had done with
pupils, and half yearly accounts, and antique deportment for ever.

In losing Miss Chinfeather I felt as though the corner-stone of my life
had been rent away. She was too cold, she was altogether too far removed
for me to regard her with love, or even with that modified feeling which
we call affection. But then no such demonstration was looked for by Miss
Chinfeather. It was a weakness above which she rose superior. But if my
child's love was a gift which she would have despised, she looked for
and claimed my obedience--the resignation of my will to hers, the
absorption of my individuality in her own, the gradual elimination from
my life of all its colour and freshness. She strove earnestly, and with
infinite patience, to change me from a dreamy, passionate child--a child
full of strange wild moods, capricious, and yet easily touched either
to laughter or tears--into a prim and elegant young lady, colourless and
formal, and of the most orthodox boarding-school pattern; and if she did
not quite succeed in the attempt, the fault, such as it was, must be set
down to my obstinate disposition and not to any lack of effort on the
part of Miss Chinfeather. And now this powerful influence had vanished
from my life, from the world itself, as swiftly and silently as a
snowflake in the sun. The grasp of the hard but not unkindly hand, that
had held me so firmly in the narrow groove in which it wished me to
move, had been suddenly relaxed, and everything around me seemed
tottering to its fall. Three nights ago Miss Chinfeather had retired to
rest, as well, to all appearance, and as cheerful as ever she had been;
next morning she had been found dead in bed. This was what they told us
pupils; but so great was the awe in which I held the mistress of Park
Hill Seminary that I could not conceive of Death even as venturing to
behave disrespectfully towards her. I pictured him in my girlish fancy
as knocking at her chamber door in the middle of the night, and after
apologising for the interruption, asking whether she was ready to
accompany him. Then would she who was thus addressed arise, and wrap an
ample robe about her, and place her hand with solemn sweetness in that
of the Great Captain, and the two would pass out together into the
starlit night, and Miss Chinfeather would be seen of mortal eyes

Such was the picture that had haunted my brain for two days and as many
nights, while I wandered forlorn through house and playground, or lay
awake on my little bed. I had said farewell to one pupil after another
till all were gone, and the riddle which I had been putting to myself
continually for the last forty-eight hours had now been solved for me by
Mrs. Whitehead, and I had been told that I too was going home.

"To the care of Lady Chillington, Deepley Walls, Midlandshire." The
words repeated themselves again and again in my brain, and became a
greater puzzle with every repetition. I had never to my knowledge heard
of either the person or the place. I knew nothing of one or the other. I
only knew that my heart thrilled strangely at the mention of the word
_Home_; that unbidden tears started to my eyes at the thought that
perhaps--only perhaps--in that as yet unknown place there might be
someone who would love me just a little. "Father--Mother." I spoke the
words, but they sounded unreal to me, and as if uttered by another. I
spoke them again, holding out my arms and crying aloud. All my heart
seemed to go out in the cry, but only the hollow winds answered me as
they piped mournfully through the yellowing leaves, a throng of which
went rustling down the walk as though stirred by the footsteps of a
ghost. Then my eyes grew blind with tears and I wept silently for a time
as if my heart would break.

But tears were a forbidden luxury at Park Hill, and when, a little later
on, I heard Chirper calling me by name, I made haste to dry my eyes and
compose my features. She scanned me narrowly as I ran up to her. "You
dear, soft-hearted little thing!" she said. And with that she stooped
suddenly and gave me a hearty kiss, that might have been heard a dozen
yards away. I was about to fling my arms round her neck, but she stopped
me, saying, "That will do, dear. Mrs. Whitehead is waiting for us at the

Mrs. Whitehead was watching us through the glass door which led into the
playground. "The coach will be here in half-an-hour, Miss Hope," she
said; "so that you have not much time for your preparations."

I stood like one stunned for a moment or two. Then I said: "If you
please, Mrs. Whitehead, may I see Miss Chinfeather before I go?"

Her thin, straight lips quivered slightly, but in her eyes I read only
cold disapproval of my request. "Really," she said, "what a singular
child you must be. I scarcely know what to say."

"Oh, if you please!" I urged. "Miss Chinfeather was always kind to me. I
remember her as long as I can remember anything. To see her once
more--for the last time. It would seem to me cruel to go away without."

"Follow me," she said, almost in a whisper. So I followed her softly up
stairs into the little corner room where Miss Chinfeather lay in white
and solemn state, grandly indifferent to all mundane matters. As I
gazed, it seemed but an hour ago since I had heard those still lips
conjugating the verb mourir for the behoof of poor ignorant me, and the
words came back to me, and I could not help repeating them to myself as
I looked: Je meurs, tu meurs, etc.

I bent over and kissed the marble-cold forehead and said farewell in my
heart, and went downstairs without a word.

Half-an-hour later the district coach, a splendid vision, pulled up
impetuously at the gates. I was ready to the moment. Mrs. Whitehead's
frosty fingers touched mine for an instant; she imprinted a chill kiss
on my cheek and looked relieved. "Good-bye, my dear Miss Hope, and God
bless you," she said. "Strive to bear in mind through after life the
lessons that have been instilled into you at Park Hill Seminary. Present
my respectful compliments to Lady Chillington, and do not forget your

At this point the guard sounded an impatient summons on his bugle;
Chirper picked up my box, seized me by the hand, and hurried with me to
the coach. My luggage found a place on the roof; I was unceremoniously
bundled inside; Chirper gave me another of her hearty kisses, and
pressed a crooked sixpence into my hand "for luck," as she whispered. I
am sure there was a real tear in her eye as she did so. Next moment we
were off.

I kept my eyes fixed on the Seminary as long as it remained in view,
especially on the little corner room. It seemed to me that I must be a
very wicked girl indeed, because I felt no real sorrow at quitting the
place that had been my home for so many years. I could not feel anything
but secretly glad, but furtively happy with a happiness which I felt
ashamed of acknowledging even to myself. Miss Chinfeather's white and
solemn face, as seen in her coffin, haunted my memory, but even of her I
thought only with a sort of chastened regret. She had never touched my
heart. There had been about her a bleakness of nature that effectually
chilled any tender buds of liking or affection that might in the
ordinary course of events have grown up and blossomed round her life.
Therefore, in my child's heart there was no lasting sorrow for her
death, no gracious memories of her that would stay with me, and smell
sweet, long after she herself should be dust.

My eight miles' ride by coach was soon over. It ended at the railway
station of the county town. The guard of the coach had, I suppose,
received his secret instructions. Almost before I knew what had
happened, I found myself in a first-class carriage, with a ticket for
Eastbury in my hand, and committed to the care of another guard, he of
the railway this time--a fiery-faced man, with immense red whiskers, who
came and surveyed me as though I were some contraband article, but
finished by nodding his head and saying with a smile, "I dessay we shall
be good friends, miss, before we get to the end of our journey."

It was my first journey by rail, and the novelty of it filled me with
wonder and delight. The train by which I travelled was a fast one, and
after my first feeling of fright at the rapidity of the motion had
merged into one of intense pleasure and exhilaration of mind, I could
afford to look back on my recent coach experience with a sort of pitying
superiority, as on a something that was altogether _rococo_ and out of
date. Already the rash of new ideas into my mind was so powerful that
the old landmarks of my life seemed in danger of being swept clean away.
Already it seemed days instead of only a brief hour or two since I had
bidden Mrs. Whitehead farewell, and had taken my last look at Park Hill

The red-faced guard was as good as his word; he and I became famous
friends before I reached the end of my journey. At every station at
which we stopped he came to the window to see how I was getting on, and
whether I was in want of anything, and was altogether so kind to me that
I was quite sorry to part from him when the train reached Eastbury, and
left me, a minute later, standing, a solitary waif, on the little

The one solitary fly of which the station could boast was laid under
contribution. My little box was tossed on to its roof; I myself was shut
up inside; the word was given, "To Deepley Walls;" the station was left
behind, and away we went, jolting and rumbling along the quiet country
lanes, and under over-arching trees, all aglow just now with autumn's
swift-fading beauty. The afternoon was closing in, and the wind was
rising, sweeping up with melancholy soughs from the dim wooded hollows
where it had lain asleep till the sun went down; garnering up the fallen
leaves like a cunning miser, wherever it could find a hiding-place for
them, and then dying suddenly down, and seeming to hold its breath as if
listening for the footsteps of the coming winter.

In the western sky hung a huge tumbled wrack of molten cloud like the
ruins of some vast temple of the gods of eld. Chasmed buttresses,
battlements overthrown; on the horizon a press of giants, shoulder
against shoulder, climbing slowly to the rescue; in mid-sky a praying
woman; farther afield a huge head, and a severed arm the fingers of
which were clenched in menace: all these things I saw, and a score
others, as the clouds changed from minute to minute in form and
brightness, while the stars began to glow out like clusters of silver
lilies in the eastern sky.

We kept jolting on for so long a time through the twilight lanes, and
the evening darkened so rapidly, that I began to grow frightened. It was
like being lifted out of a dungeon, when the old fly drew up with a
jerk, and a shout of "House there!" and when I looked out and saw that
we were close to the lodge entrance of some park.

Presently a woman, with a child in her arms, came out of the lodge and
proceeded to open the gate for us. Said the driver--"How's Johnny

The woman shouted something in reply, but I don't think the old fellow
heard her.

"Ay, ay," he called out, "Johnny will be a famous young shaver one of
these days;" and with that, he whipped up his horse, and away we went.

The drive up the avenue, for such at the time I judged it to be, and
such it proved to be, did not occupy many minutes. The fly came to a
stand, and the driver got down and opened the door. "Now, young lady,
here you are," he said; and I found myself in front of the main entrance
to Deepley Walls.

It was too dark by this time for me to discern more than the merest
outline of the place. I saw that it was very large, and I noticed that
not even one of its hundred windows showed the least glimmer of light.
It loomed vast, dark and silent, as if deserted by every living thing.

The old driver gave a hearty pull at the bell, and the muffled clamour
reached me where I stood. I was quaking with fears and apprehensions of
that unknown future on whose threshold I was standing. Would Love or
Hate open for me the doors of Deepley Walls? I was strung to such a
pitch that it seemed impossible for any lesser passion to be handmaiden
to my needs.

What I saw when the massive door was opened was an aged woman, dressed
like a superior domestic, who, in sharp accents, demanded to know what
we meant by disturbing a quiet family in that unseemly way. She was
holding one hand over her eyes, and trying to make out our appearance
through the gathering darkness. I stepped close up to her. "I am Miss
Janet Hope, from Park Hill Seminary," I said, "and I wish to speak with
Lady Chillington."



The words were hardly out of my lips when the woman shrank suddenly
back, as though struck by an invisible hand, and gave utterance to an
inarticulate cry of wonder and alarm. Then, striding forward, she seized
me by the wrist, and drew me into the lamp-lighted hall. "Child! child!
why have you come here?" she cried, scanning my face with eager eyes.
"In all the wide world this is the last place you should have come to."

"Miss Chinfeather is dead, and all the young ladies have been sent to
their homes. I have no home, so they have sent me here."

"What shall I do? What will her ladyship say?" cried the woman, in a
frightened voice. "How shall I ever dare to tell her?"

"Who rang the bell, Dance, a few minutes ago? And to whom are you

The voice sounded so suddenly out of the semi-darkness at the upper end
of the large hall, which was lighted only by a small oil lamp, that both
the woman and I started. Looking in the direction from which the sound
had come, I could dimly make out, through the obscurity, the figures of
two women who had entered without noise through the curtained doorway,
close to which they were now standing. One of the two was very tall, and
was dressed entirely in black. The second one, who was less tall, was
also dressed in black, except that she seemed to have something white
thrown over her head and shoulders; but I was too far away to make out
any details.

"Hush! don't you speak," whispered the woman warningly to me. "Leave me
to break the news to her ladyship." With that, she left me standing on
the threshold, and hurried towards the upper end of the hall.

The tall personage in black, then, with the harsh voice--high pitched,
and slightly cracked--was Lady Chillington! How fast my heart beat! If
only I could have slipped out unobserved I would never have braved my
fortune within those walls again.

She who had been called Dance went up to the two ladies, curtsied
deeply, and began talking in a low, earnest voice. Hardly, however, had
she spoken a dozen words when the lesser of the two ladies flung up her
arms with a cry like that of some wounded creature, and would have
fallen to the ground had not Dance caught her round the waist and so
held her.

"What folly is this?" cried Lady Chillington, sternly, striking the
pavement of the hall sharply with the iron ferrule of her cane. "To your
room, Sister Agnes! For such poor weak fools as you solitude is the only
safe companion. But, remember your oath! Not a word; not a word." With
one lean hand uplifted, and menacing forefinger, she emphasised those
last warning words.

She who had been addressed as Sister Agnes raised herself, with a deep
sigh, from the shoulder of Dance, cast one long look in the direction of
the spot where I was standing, and vanished slowly through the curtained
arch. Then Dance took up the broken thread of her narration, and Lady
Chillington, grim and motionless, listened without a word.

Even after Dance had done speaking, her ladyship stood for some time
looking straight before her, but saying nothing in reply. I felt
intuitively that my fate was hanging on the decision of those few
moments, but I neither stirred nor spoke.

At length the silence was broken by Lady Chillington. "Take the child
away," she said; "attend to her wants, make her presentable, and bring
her to me in the Green Saloon after dinner. It will be time enough
to-morrow to consider what must be done with her."

Dance curtsied again. Her ladyship sailed slowly across the hall, and
passed out through another curtained doorway.

Dance's first act was to pay and dismiss the driver, who had been
waiting outside all this time. Then, taking me by the hand, "Come along
with me, dear," she said. "Why, I declare, you look quite white and
frightened! You have nothing to fear, child. We shall not eat you--at
least, not just yet; not till we have fed you up a bit."

At the end of a long corridor was Mrs. Dance's own room, into which I
was now ushered. Scarcely had I made a few changes in my toilette when
tea for two persons was brought in, and Mrs. Dance and I sat down to
table. The old lady was well on with her second cup before she made any
remark other than was required by the necessities of the occasion.

I have called her an old woman, and such she looked in my youthful eyes,
although her years were only about sixty. She wore a dark brown dress
and a black silk apron, and had on a cap with thick frilled borders,
under which her grey hair was neatly snooded away. She looked ruddy and
full of health. A shrewd, sensible woman, evidently; yet with a motherly
kindness about her that made me cling to her with a child's unerring

"You look tired, poor thing," she said, as she leisurely stirred her
tea; "and well you may, considering the long journey you have had
to-day. I don't suppose that her ladyship will keep you more than ten
minutes in the Green Saloon, and after that you can go to bed as soon
as you like. What a surprise for all of us your coming has been! Dear,
dear! who would have expected such a thing this morning? But I knew by
the twitching of my corns that something uncommon was going to happen. I
was really frightened of telling her ladyship that you were here.
There's no knowing how she might have taken it; and there's no knowing
what she will decide to do with you to-morrow."

"But what has Lady Chillington to do with me in any way?" I asked.
"Before this morning I never even heard her name; and now it seems that
she is to do what she likes with me."

"That she will do what she likes with you, you may depend, dear," said
Mrs. Dance. "As to how she happens to have the right so to do, that is
another thing, and one about which it is not my place to talk nor yours
to question me. That she possesses such a right you may make yourself
certain. All that you have to do is to obey and to ask no questions."

I sat in distressed and bewildered silence for a little while. Then I
ventured to say: "Please not to think me rude, but I should like to know
who Sister Agnes is."

Mrs. Dance stirred uneasily in her chair and bent her eyes on the fire,
but did not immediately answer my question.

"Sister Agnes is Lady Chillington's companion," she said at last. "She
reads to her, and writes her letters, and talks to her, and all that,
you know. Sister Agnes is a Roman Catholic, and came here from the
convent of Saint Ursula. However, she is not a nun, but something like
one of those Sisters of Mercy in the large towns, who go about among
poor people and visit the hospitals and prisons. She is allowed to live
here always, and Lady Chillington would hardly know how to get through
the day without her."

"Is she not a relative of Lady Chillington?" I asked.

"No, not a relative," answered Dance. "You must try to love her a great
deal, my dear Miss Janet; for if angels are ever allowed to visit this
vile earth, Sister Agnes is one of them. But there goes her ladyship's
bell. She is ready to receive you."

I had washed away the stains of travel, and had put on my best frock,
and Dance was pleased to say that I looked very nice, "though, perhaps,
a trifle more old-fashioned than a girl of your age ought to look." Then
she laid down a few rules for my guidance when in the presence of Lady
Chillington, and led the way to the Green Saloon, I following with a
timorous heart.

Dance flung open the folding-doors of the big room. "Miss Janet Hope to
see your ladyship," she called out; and next moment the doors closed
behind me, and I was left standing there alone.

"Come nearer--come nearer," said her ladyship's cracked voice, as with a
long, lean hand she beckoned me to approach.

I advanced slowly up the room, stopped and curtsied. Lady Chillington
pointed out a high footstool about three yards from her chair. I
curtsied again, and sat down on it. During the interview that followed
my quick eyes had ample opportunity for taking a mental inventory of
Lady Chillington and her surroundings.

She had exchanged the black dress in which I first saw her for one of
green velvet, trimmed with ermine. This dress was made with short
sleeves and low body, so as to leave exposed her ladyship's arms, long,
lean and skinny, and her scraggy neck. Her nose was hooked and her chin
pointed. Between the two shone a row of large white, even teeth, which
long afterwards I knew to be artificial. Equally artificial was the mass
of short black, frizzly curls that crowned her head, which was
unburdened with cap or covering of any kind. Her eyebrows were dyed to
match her hair. Her cheeks, even through the powder with which they were
thickly smeared, showed two spots of brilliant red, which no one less
ignorant than I would have accepted without question as the last genuine
remains of the bloom of youth. But at that first interview I accepted
everything au pied de la lettre, without doubt or question of any kind.

Her ladyship wore long earrings of filigree gold. Round her neck was a
massive gold chain. On her fingers sparkled several rings of
price--diamonds, rubies and opals. In figure her ladyship was tall, and
upright as a dart. She was, however, slightly lame of one foot, which
necessitated the use of a cane when walking. Lady Chillington's cane was
ivory-headed, and had a gold plate let into it, on which was engraved
her crest and initials. She was seated in an elaborately-carved
high-backed chair, near a table on which were the remains of a dessert
for one person.

The Green Saloon was a large gloomy room; at least it looked gloomy as I
saw it for the first time, lighted up by four wax candles where twenty
were needed. These four candles being placed close by where Lady
Chillington was sitting, left the other end of the saloon in comparative
darkness. The furniture was heavy, formal and old-fashioned. Gloomy
portraits of dead and gone Chillingtons lined the green walls, and this
might be the reason why there always seemed to me a slight graveyard
flavour--scarcely perceptible, but none the less surely there--about
this room which caused me to shudder involuntarily whenever I crossed
its threshold.

Lady Chillington's black eyes--large, cold and steady as Juno's own--had
been bent upon me all this time, measuring me from head to foot with
what I felt to be a slightly contemptuous scrutiny.

"What is your name, and how old are you?" she asked, with startling
abruptness, after a minute or two of silence.

"Janet Hope, and twelve years," I answered, laconically. A feeling of
defiance, of dislike to this bedizened old woman began to gnaw my
child's heart. Young as I was, I had learned, with what bitterness I
alone could have told, the art of wrapping myself round with a husk of
cold reserve, which no one uninitiated in the ways of children could
penetrate, unless I were inclined to let them. Sulkiness was the
generic name for this quality at school, but I dignified it with a
different term.

"How many years were you at Park Hill Seminary? and where did you live
before you went there?" asked Lady Chillington.

"I have lived at Park Hill ever since I can remember anything. I don't
know where I lived before that time."

"Are your parents alive or dead? If the latter, what do you remember of

A lump came into my throat, and tears into my eyes. For a moment or two
I could not answer.

"I don't know anything about my parents," I said. "I never remember
seeing them. I don't know whether they are alive or dead."

"Do you know why you were consigned by the Park Hill people to this
particular house--to Deepley Walls--to me, in fact?"

Her voice was raised almost to a shriek as she said these last words,
and she pointed to herself with one claw-like finger.

"No, ma'am, I don't know why I was sent here. I was told to come, and I

"But you have no claim on me--none whatever," she continued, fiercely.
"Bear that in mind: remember it always. Whatever I may choose to do for
you will be done of my own free will, and not through compulsion of any
kind. No claim whatever; remember that. None whatever."

She was silent for some time after this, and sat with her cold, steady
eyes fixed intently on the fire. For my part, I sat as still as a mouse,
afraid to stir, longing for my dismissal, and dreading to be questioned

Lady Chillington roused herself at length with a deep sigh, and a few
words muttered under her breath.

"Here is a bunch of grapes for you, child," she said. "When you have
eaten them it will be time for you to retire."

I advanced timidly and took the grapes, with a curtsey and a "Thank you,
ma'am," and then went back to my seat.

As I sat eating my grapes my eyes went up to an oval mirror over the
fire-place, in which were reflected the figures of Lady Chillington and
myself. My momentary glance into its depths showed me how keenly, but
furtively, her ladyship was watching me. But what interest could a great
lady have in watching poor insignificant me? I ventured another glance
into the mirror. Yes, she looked as if she were devouring me with her
eyes. But hothouse grapes are nicer than mysteries, and how is it
possible to give one's serious attention to two things at a time?

When I had finished the grapes, I put my plate back on the table.

"Ring that bell," said Lady Chillington. I rang it accordingly, and
presently Dance made her appearance.

"Miss Hope is ready to retire," said her ladyship.

I arose, and going a step or two nearer to her, I made her my most
elaborate curtsey, and said, "I wish your ladyship a very good-night."

The ghost of a smile flickered across her face. "I am pleased to find,
child, that you are not entirely destitute of manners," she said, and
with a stately wave of the arm I was dismissed.

It was like an escape from slavery to hear the door of the Green Saloon
close behind me, and to get into the great corridors and passages
outside. I could have capered for very glee; only Mrs. Dance was a staid
sort of person, and might not have liked it.

"Her ladyship is pleased with you, I am sure," she remarked, as we went

"That is more than I am with her," I answered, pertly. Mrs. Dance looked

"You must not talk in that way, dear, on any account," she said. "You
must try to like Lady Chillington; it is to your interest to do so. But
even should you never learn to like her, you must not let anyone know

"I'm sure that I shall like the lady that you call Sister Agnes," I
said. "When shall I see her? To-morrow?"

Mrs. Dance looked at me sharply for a moment. "You think you shall like
Sister Agnes, eh? When you come to know her, you will more than like
her; you will love her. But perhaps Lady Chillington will not allow you
to see her."

"But why not?" I said abruptly, and I could feel my eyes flash with

"The why not I am not at liberty to explain," said Mrs. Dance, drily.
"And let me tell you, Miss Janet Hope, there are many things under this
roof of which no explanation will be given you, and if you are a wise,
good girl, you will not ask too many questions. I tell you this simply
for your own good. Lady Chillington cannot abear people that are always
prying and asking 'What does this mean?' and 'What does the other mean?'
A still tongue is the sign of a wise head."

Ten minutes later I had said my prayers and was in bed. "Don't go
without kissing me," I said to Dance as she took up the candle.

The old lady came back and kissed me tenderly. "Heaven bless you and
keep you, my dear!" she said, with solemn dignity. "There are those in
the world who love you very dearly, and some day perhaps you will know
all. I dare not say more. Good-night, and God bless you."

Mrs. Dance's words reached a chord in my heart that vibrated to the
slightest touch. I cried myself silently to sleep.

How long I had been asleep I had no means of knowing, but I was awakened
some time in the night by a rain of kisses, soft, warm, and light, on
lips, cheeks and forehead. The room was pitch dark, and for a second or
two I thought I was still at Park Hill, and that Miss Chinfeather had
come back from heaven to tell me how much she loved me. But this thought
passed away like the slide of a magic lantern, and I knew that I was at
Deepley Walls. The moment I knew this I put out my arms with the
intention of clasping my unknown visitor round the neck. But I was not
quick enough. The kisses ceased, my hands met each other in the empty
air, and I heard a faint noise of garments trailing across the floor. I
started up in bed, and called out, in a frightened voice, "Who's there?"

"Hush! not a word!" whispered a voice out of the darkness. Then I heard
the door of my room softly closed, and I felt that I was alone.

I was left as wide awake as ever I had been in my life. My child's heart
was filled with an unspeakable yearning, and yet the darkness and the
mystery frightened me. It could not be Miss Chinfeather who had visited
me, I argued with myself. The lips that had touched mine were not those
of a corpse, but were instinct with life and love. Who, then, could my
mysterious visitor be? Not Lady Chillington, surely! I half started up
in bed at the thought. Just as I did so, without warning of any kind, a
solemn muffled tramp became audible in the room immediately over mine. A
tramp, slow, heavy, measured, from one end of the room to the other, and
then back again. I slipped back into the bedclothes and buried myself up
to the ears. I could hear the beating of my heart, oppressed now with a
new terror before which the lesser one faded utterly. The very monotony
of that dull measured walk was enough to unstring the nerves of a child,
coming as it did in the middle of the night. I tried to escape from it
by going still deeper under the clothes, but I could hear it even then.
Since I could not escape it altogether, I had better listen to it with
all my ears, for it was quite possible that it might come down stairs,
and so into my room. Had such a thing happened, I think I should have
died from sheer terror. Happily for me nothing of the kind took place;
and, still listening, I fell asleep at last from utter weariness, and
knew nothing more till I was awoke by a stray sunbeam smiting me across
the eyes.



A golden sunbeam was shining through a crevice in the blinds; the birds
were twittering in the ivy outside; oxen were lowing to each other
across the park. Morning, with all her music, was abroad.

I started up in bed and rubbed my eyes. Within the house everything was
as mute as the grave. That horrible tramping overhead had ceased--had
ceased, doubtless, with the return of daylight, which would otherwise
have shifted it from the region of the weird to that of the
commonplace. I smiled to myself as I thought of my terrors of the past
night, and felt brave enough just then to have faced a thousand ghosts.
In another minute I was out of bed, and had drawn up my blind, and flung
open my window, and was drinking in the sweet peaceful scene that
stretched away before me in long level lines to the edge of a far-off

My window was high up and looked out at the front of the hall.
Immediately below me was a semicircular lawn, shut in from the park by
an invisible fence, close shaven, and clumped with baskets of flowers
glowing just now with all the brilliance of late autumn. The main
entrance--a flight of shallow steps, and an Ionic portico, as I
afterwards found--was at one end of the building, and was reached by a
long straight carriage drive, the route of which could be traced across
the park by the thicker growth of trees with which it was fringed. This
park stretched to right and left for a mile either way. In front, it was
bounded, a short half-mile away, by the high road, beyond which were
level wide-stretching meadows, through which the river Adair washed slow
and clear.

But chief of all this morning I wanted to be down among the flowers. I
made haste to wash and dress, taking an occasional peep through the
window as I did so, and trying to entice the birds from their
hiding-places in the ivy. Then I opened my bed-room door, and then, in
view of the great landing outside, I paused. Several doors, all except
mine now closed, gave admittance from this landing to different rooms.
Both landing and stairs were made of oak, black and polished with age.
One broad flight of stairs, with heavy carved banisters, pointed the way
below; a second and narrower flight led to the regions above. As a
matter of course I chose the former, but not till after a minute's
hesitation as to whether I should venture to leave my room at all before
I should be called. But my desire to see the baskets of flowers
prevailed over everything else. I closed my door gently and hurried

I found myself in the entrance-hall of Deepley Walls, into which I had
been ushered on my arrival. There were the two curtained doorways
through which Lady Chillington had come and gone. For the rest, it was a
gloomy place enough, with its flagged floor, and its diamond-paned
windows high up in the semicircular roof. A few rusty full-lengths
graced the walls; the stairs were guarded by two effigies in armour; a
marble bust of one of the Cæsars stood on a high pedestal in the middle
of the floor; and that was all.

I was glad to get away from this dismal spot and to find myself in the
passage which led to the housekeeper's room. I opened the door and
looked in, but the room was vacant. Farther along the same passage I
found the kitchen and other domestic offices. The kitchen clock was just
on the point of six as I went in. One servant alone had come down. From
her I inquired my way into the garden, and next minute I was on the
lawn. The close-cropped grass was wet with the heavy dew; but my boots
were thick and I heeded it not, for the flowers were there within my
very grasp.

Oh, those flowers! can I ever forget them? I have seen none so beautiful
since. There can be none so beautiful out of Paradise.

One spray of scarlet geranium was all that I ventured to pluck. But the
odours and the colours were there for all comers, and were as much mine
for the time being as if the flowers themselves had belonged to me.
Suddenly I turned and glanced up at the many-windowed house with a sort
of guilty consciousness that I might possibly be doing wrong. But the
house was still asleep--closed shutters or down-drawn blind at every
window. I saw before me a substantial-looking red-brick mansion, with a
high slanting roof, of not undignified appearance now that it was
mellowed by age, but with no pretensions to architectural beauty. The
sole attempt at outside ornamentation consisted of a few flutings of
white stone, reaching from the ground to the second floor, and
terminating in oval shields of the same material, on which had
originally been carved the initials of the builder and the date of
erection; but the summer's sun and the winter's rain of many a long year
had rubbed both letters and figures carefully out. Long afterwards I
knew that Deepley Walls had been built in the reign of the Third William
by a certain Squire Chillington of that date, "out of my own head," as
he himself put it in a quaint document still preserved among the family
archives; and rather a muddled head it must have been in matters

After this, I ventured round by the main entrance, with its gravelled
carriage sweep, to the other side of the house, where I found a long
flagged terrace bordered with large evergreens in tubs placed at
frequent intervals. On to this terrace several French windows
opened--the windows, as I found later in the day, of Lady Chillington's
private rooms. To the left of this terrace stood a plantation of young
trees, through which a winding path that opened by a wicket into the
private grounds invited me to penetrate. Through the green gloom I
advanced bravely, my heart beating with all the pleasure of one who was
exploring some unknown land. I saw no living thing by the way, save two
grey rabbits that scuttered across my path and vanished in the
undergrowth on the other side. Pretty frisky creatures! how I should
like to have caught them, and fed them, and made pets of them as long as
they lived!

Two or three hundred yards farther on the path ended with another
wicket, now locked, which opened into the high road. About a mile away I
could discern the roofs and chimneys of a little town. When I got back
to the hall I found dear old Dance getting rather anxious at my long
absence, but she brightened into smiles when I kissed her and told her
where I had been.

"You must have slept well, or you would hardly look so rosy this
morning," she said as we sat down to breakfast.

"I should have slept very well if I had not been troubled by the

"Ghosts! my dear Miss Janet? You do not mean to say--" and the old
lady's cheek paled suddenly, and her cup rattled in her saucer as she
held it.

"I mean to say that Deepley Walls is haunted by two ghosts, one of which
came and kissed me last night when I was asleep; while the other one was
walking nearly all night in the room over mine."

Dance's face brightened, but still wore a puzzled expression. "You must
have dreamed that someone kissed you, dear," she said. "If you were
asleep you could not know anything about it."

"But I was awakened by it, and I am positive that it was no dream." Then
I told her what few particulars there were to tell.

"For the future we must lock your bed-room door," she said.

"Then I should be more frightened than ever. Besides, a real ghost would
not be kept out by locking the door."

"Well, dear, tell me if you are disturbed in the same way again. But as
for the tramping you heard in the room overhead, that is easily
explained. It was no ghost that you heard walking, but Lady
Chillington." Then, seeing my look of astonishment, she went on to
explain. "You see, my dear Miss Janet, her ladyship is a very peculiar
person, and does many things that to commonplace people like you and me
may seem rather strange. One of these little peculiarities is her
fondness for walking about the room over yours at night. Now, if she
likes to do this, I know of no reason why she should not do it. It is a
little whim that does no harm to anybody; and as the house and
everything in it are her own, she may surely please herself in such a

"But what is there in the room that she should prefer it to any other in
the house for walking in by night?"

"What--is--there--in the room?" said the old lady, staring at me across
the table with a strange, frightened look in her eyes. "What a curious
question! The room is a common room, of course, with nothing in it out
of the ordinary way; only, as I said before, it happens to be Lady
Chillington's whim to walk there. So, if you hear the noise again, you
will know how to account for it, and will have too much good sense to
feel in the least afraid."

I had a half consciousness that Dance was prevaricating with me in this
matter, or hiding something from me; but I was obliged to accept her
version as the correct one, especially as I saw that any further
questioning would be of no avail.

I did not see Lady Chillington that day. She was reported to be unwell,
and kept her own rooms.

About noon a message came from Sister Agnes that she would like to see
me in her room. When I entered she was standing by a square oak table,
resting one hand on it while the other was pressed to her heart. Her
face was very pale, but her dark eyes beamed on me with a veiled
tenderness that I could not misinterpret.

"Good-morrow, Miss Hope," she said, offering her white slender hand for
my acceptance. "I fear that you will find Deepley Walls even duller than
Park Hill Seminary."

Her tone was cold and constrained. I looked up earnestly into her face.
Her lips began to quiver painfully. "Child! child! you must not look at
me in that way," she cried.

Instinct whispered something in my ear. "You are the lady who came and
kissed me when I was asleep!" I exclaimed.

Her brow contracted for a moment as if she were in pain. A hectic spot
came out suddenly on either cheek, and vanished almost as swiftly. "Yes,
it was I who came to your room last night," she said. "You are not vexed
with me for doing so?"

"On the contrary, I love you for it."

Her smile, the sweetest I ever saw, beamed out at this. Gently she
stroked my hair. "You looked so forlorn and weary last night," she said,
"that after I got to bed I could not help thinking about you. I was
afraid you would not be able to sleep in a strange place, so I could not
rest till I had visited you: but I never intended to awake you."

"I do not mind how often I am awakened in the same way," I said. "No one
has ever seemed to love me but you, and I cannot help loving you back."

"My poor child!" was all she said. We had sat down by this time close to
the window, and Sister Agnes was holding one of my hands in hers and
caressing it gently as she gazed dreamily across the park. My eyes,
child-like, wandered from her to the room and then back again. The
picture still lives in my memory as fresh as though it had been limned
but yesterday.

A square whitewashed room, fitted up with furniture of unpolished oak.
On the walls a few proof engravings of subjects taken from Sacred
History. A small bookcase in one corner, and a _prie-dieu_ in another.
The floor uncarpeted, but polished after the French fashion. A
writing-table; a large workbox; a heap of clothing for the poor; and
lastly, a stand for flowers.

The features of Sister Agnes were as delicate and clearly cut as those
of some antique statue, but their habitual expression was one of intense
melancholy. Her voice was low and gracious: the voice of a refined and
educated gentlewoman. Her hair was black, with here and there a faint
silver streak; but the peculiar head-dress of white linen which she wore
left very little of it visible. Disfiguring as this head-dress might
have been to many people, in her case it served merely to enhance the
marble whiteness and transparent purity of her complexion. Her eyebrows
were black and well-defined; but as for the eyes themselves, I can only
repeat what I said before--that their dark depths were full of
tenderness and a sort of veiled enthusiasm difficult to describe in
words. Her dress was black, soft and coarse, relieved by deep cuffs of
white linen. Her solitary ornament, if ornament it could be called, was
a rosary of black beads. Not without reason have I been thus particular
in describing Sister Agnes and her surroundings, as they who read will
discover for themselves by-and-by.

Sister Agnes woke up from her reverie with a sigh, and began talking to
me about my schooldays and my mode of life at Park Hill Seminary. It was
a pleasure to me to talk, because I felt it was a pleasure to her to
listen to me. And she let me talk on and on for I can't tell how long,
only putting in a question now and again, till she knew almost as much
about Miss Chinfeather and Park Hill as I knew myself. But she never
seemed to grow weary. We were sitting close together, and after a time I
felt her arm steal gently round my waist, pressing me closer still; and
so, with my head nestling against her shoulder, I talked on, heedless of
the time. O happy afternoon!

It was broken by a summons for Sister Agnes from Lady Chillington.
"To-morrow, if the weather hold fine, we will go to Charke Forest and
gather blackberries," said Sister Agnes as she gave me a parting kiss.

That night I went early to bed, and never woke till daybreak.



I was up betimes next morning, long before Sister Agnes could possibly
be ready to take me to the forest. So I took my sewing into the garden,
and found a pleasant sunny nook, where I sat and worked till breakfast
time. The meal was scarcely over when Sister Agnes sent for me. It made
my heart leap with pleasure to see how her beautiful, melancholy face
lighted up at my approach. Why should she feel such an interest in one
whom she had never seen till a few hours ago? The question was one I
could not answer; I could only recognise the fact and be thankful.

The morning was delicious: sunny, without being oppressive; while in the
shade there was a faint touch of austerity like the first breath of
coming winter. A walk of two miles brought us to the skirts of the
forest, and in five minutes after quitting the high road we might have
been a hundred miles away from any habitation, so utterly lost and
buried from the outer world did we seem to be. Already the forest paths
were half hidden by fallen leaves, which rustled pleasantly under our
feet. By-and-by we came to a pretty opening in the wood, where some
charitable soul had erected a rude rustic seat that was more than half
covered with the initials of idle wayfarers. Here Sister Agnes sat down
to rest. She had brought a volume of poems with her, and while she read
I wandered about, never going very far away, feasting on the purple
blackberries, finding here and there a late-ripened cluster of nuts,
trying to find out a nest or two among the thinned foliage, and enjoying
myself in a quiet way much to my heart's content.

I don't think Sister Agnes read much that morning. Her gaze was oftener
away from her book than on it. After a time she came and joined me in
gathering nuts and blackberries. She seemed brighter and happier than I
had hitherto seen her, entering into all my little projects with as much
eagerness as though she were herself a child. How soon I had learned to
love her! Why had I lived all those dreary years at Park Hill without
knowing her? But I could never again feel quite so lonely--never quite
such an outcast from that common household love which all the girls I
had known seemed to accept as a matter of course. Even if I should
unhappily be separated from Sister Agnes, I could not cease to love her;
and although I had seen her for the first time barely forty-eight hours
ago, my child's instinct told me that she possessed that steadfastness,
sweet and strong, which allows no name that has once been written on its
heart to be erased therefrom for ever.

My thoughts were running in some such groove, but they were all as
tangled and confused as the luxuriant undergrowth around me. It must
have been out of this confusion that the impulse arose which caused me
to address a question to Sister Agnes that startled her as much as if a
shell had exploded at her feet.

"Dear Sister Agnes," I said, "you seem to know my history, and all about
me. Did you know my papa and mamma?"

She dropped the leaf that held her fruit, and turned on me a haggard,
frightened face that made my own grow pale.

"What makes you think that I know your history?" she stammered out.

"You who are so intimate with Lady Chillington must know why I was
brought to Deepley Walls: you must know something about me. If you know
anything about my father and mother, oh! do please tell me; please do!"

"I am tired, Janet. Let us sit down," she said, wearily. So, hand in
hand, we went back to the rustic seat and sat down.

She sat for a minute or two without speaking, gazing straight before her
into some far-away forest vista, but seeing only with that inner eye
which searches through the dusty chambers of heart and brain whenever
some record of the past has to be brought forth to answer the questions
of to-day.

"I do know your history, dear child," she said at length, "and both your
parents were friends of mine."

"Were! Then neither of them is alive?"

"Alas! no. They have been dead many years. Your father was drowned in
one of the Italian lakes. Your mother died a year afterwards."

All the sweet vague hopes that I had cherished in secret, ever since I
could remember anything, of some day finding at least one of my parents
alive, died out utterly as Sister Agnes said these words. My heart
seemed to faint within me. I flung myself into her arms, and burst into

Very tenderly and lovingly, with sweet caresses and words of comfort,
did Sister Agnes strive to win me back to cheerfulness. Her efforts were
not unsuccessful, and after a time I grew calmer and recovered my
self-possession; and as soon as so much was accomplished we set out on
our return to Deepley Walls.

As we rose to go, I said, "Since you have told me so much, Sister Agnes,
will you not also tell me why I have been brought to Deepley Walls, and
why Lady Chillington has anything to do with me?"

"That is a question, dear Janet, which I cannot answer," she said. "I am
bound to Lady Chillington by a solemn promise not to reveal to you the
nature of the secret bond which has brought you under her roof. That she
has your welfare at heart you may well believe, and that it is to your
interest to please her in every possible way is equally certain. More
than this I dare not say, except there are certain pages of your
history, some of them of a very painful character, which it would not be
advisable that you should read till you shall be many years older than
you are now. Meanwhile rest assured that in Lady Chillington, however
eccentric she may seem to be, you have a firm and powerful friend; while
in me, who have neither influence nor power, you have one who simply
loves you, and prays night and day for your welfare."

"And you will never cease to love me, will you?" I said, just as we
stepped out of the forest into the high road.

She took both my hands in hers and looked me straight in the face.
"Never, while I live, Janet Hope, can I cease to love you," she said.
Then we kissed and went on our way towards Deepley Walls.

"You are to dine with her ladyship to-day, Miss Janet," said Dance the
same afternoon. "We must look out your best bib and tucker."

Dance seemed to think that a mighty honour was about to be conferred
upon me, but for my own part I would have given much to forego the
distinction. However, there was no help for it, so I submitted quietly
to having my hair dressed and to being inducted into my best frock. I
was dreadfully abashed when the footman threw open the dining-room door
and announced in a loud voice, "Miss Janet Hope."

Dinner had just been served, and her ladyship was waiting. I advanced up
the room and made my curtsey. Lady Chillington looked at me grimly,
without relaxing a muscle, and then extended a lean forefinger, which I
pressed respectfully. The butler indicated a chair, and I sat down. Next
moment Sister Agnes glided in through a side door, and took her place
at the table, but considerably apart from Lady Chillington and me. I
felt infinitely relieved by her presence.

Her ladyship looked as elaborately youthful, with her pink cheeks, her
black wig, and her large white teeth, as on the evening of my arrival at
Deepley Walls. But her hands shook a little, making the diamonds on her
fingers scintillate in the candlelight as she carried her food to her
mouth, and this was a sign of age which not all the art in the world
could obviate. The table was laid out with a quantity of old-fashioned
plate; indeed, the plate was out of all proportion to the dinner, which
consisted of nothing more elaborate than some mutton broth, a roast
pullet and a custard. But there was a good deal of show, and we were
waited on assiduously by a respectable but fatuous-looking butler. There
was no wine brought out, but some old ale was poured into her ladyship's
glass from a silver flagon. Sister Agnes had a small cover laid apart
from ours. Her dinner consisted of herbs, fruit, bread and water. It
pained me to see that the look of intense melancholy which had lightened
so wonderfully during our forest walk had again overshadowed her face
like a veil. She gave me one long, earnest look as she took her seat at
the table, but after that she seemed scarcely to be aware of my

We had sat in grim silence for full five minutes, when Lady Chillington

"Can you speak French, child?" she said, turning abruptly to me.

"I can read it a little, but I cannot speak it," I replied.

"Nor understand what is said when it is spoken in your presence?"

"No, ma'am."

"So much the better," she answered with a grating laugh. "Children have
long ears, and there is no freedom of conversation when they are
present." With that she addressed some remarks in French to Sister
Agnes, who replied to her in the same language. I knew nothing about my
ears being long, but her ladyship's words had made them tingle as if
they had been boxed. For one thing I was thankful--that no further
remarks were addressed to me during dinner. The conversation in French
became animated, and I had leisure to think of other things.

Dinner was quickly over, and at a signal from her ladyship, the folding
doors were thrown open, and we defiled into the Green Saloon, I bringing
up the rear meekly. On the table were fruit and flowers, and one small
bottle of some light wine. The butler filled her ladyship's glass, and
then withdrew.

"You can take a pear, little girl," said Lady Chillington. Accordingly I
took a pear, but when I had got it I was too timid to eat it, and could
do nothing but hold it between my hot palms. Had I been at Park Hill
Seminary, I should soon have made my teeth meet in the fruit; but I was
not certain as to the proper mode of eating pears in society.

Lady Chillington placed her glass in her eye and examined me critically.

"Haie! haie!" she said. "That good Chinfeather has not quite eradicated
our gaucherie, it seems. We are deficient in ease and aplomb. What is
the name of that Frenchwoman, Agnes, who 'finished' Lady Kinbuck's

"You mean Madame Delclos."

"The same. Look out her address to-morrow, and remind me that you write
to her. If mademoiselle here remain in England, she will grow up weedy,
and will never learn to carry her shoulders properly. Besides, the child
has scarcely two words to say for herself. A little Parisian training
may prove beneficial. At her age a French girl of family would be a
little duchess in bearing and manners, even though she had never been
outside the walls of her pension. How is such an anomaly to be accounted
for? It is possible that the atmosphere may have something to do with

Here was fresh food for wonder, and for such serious thought as my age
admitted of. I was to be sent to a school in France! I could not make up
my mind whether to be sorry or glad. In truth, I was neither wholly the
one nor the other; the tangled web of my feelings was something
altogether beyond my skill to unravel.

Lady Chillington sipped her wine absently awhile; Sister Agnes was busy
with some fine needlework; and I was striving to elaborate a giant and
his attendant dwarf out of the glowing embers and cavernous recesses of
the wood fire, while there was yet an underlying vein of thought at work
in my mind which busied itself desultorily with trying to piece together
all that I had ever heard or read of life in a French school.

"You can run away now, little girl. You are de trop," said her ladyship,
turning on me in her abrupt fashion. "And you, Agnes, may as well read
to me a couple of chapters out of the 'Girondins.' What a wonderful man
was that Robespierre! What a giant! Had he but lived, how different the
history of Europe would have been from what we know it to-day."

I could almost have kissed her ladyship of my own accord, so pleased was
I to get away. I made my curtsey to her, and also to Sister Agnes, whose
only reply was a sweet, sad smile, and managed to preserve my dignity
till I was out of the room. But when the door was safely closed behind
me, I ran, I flew along the passages till I reached the housekeeper's
room. Dance was not there, neither had candles yet been lighted. The
bright moonlight pouring in through the window gave me a new idea.

I had not yet been down to look at the river! What time could be better
than the present one for such a purpose? I had heard some of the elder
girls at Park Hill talk of the delights of boating by moonlight. Boating
in the present case was out of the question, but there was the river
itself to be seen. Taking my hat and scarf, I let myself out by a side
door, and then sped away across the park like a hunted fawn, not
forgetting to take an occasional bite at her ladyship's pear. To-night,
for a wonder, my mind seemed purged of all those strange fears and
stranger fancies engendered in it, some people would say, by
superstition, while others would hold that they were merely the effects
of a delicate nervous organisation and over-excitable brain re-acting
one upon the other. Be that as it may, for this night they had left me,
and I skipped on my way as fearlessly as though I were walking at
mid-day, and with a glorious sense of freedom working within me, such,
only in a more intense degree, as I had often felt on our rare holidays
at school.

There was a right of public footpath across one corner of the park.
Tracking this narrow white ribbon through the greensward, I came at
length to a stile which admitted me into the high road. Exactly opposite
was a second stile, opening on a second footpath, which I felt sure
could lead to nowhere but the river. Nor was I mistaken. In another five
minutes I was on the banks of the Adair.

To my child's eye, the scene was one of exquisite beauty. To-day, I
should probably call it flat and wanting in variety. The equable
full-flowing river was lighted up by a full and unclouded moon. The
undergrowth that fringed its banks was silver-foliaged; silver-white
rose the mists in the meadows. Silence everywhere, save for the low
liquid murmur of the river itself, which seemed burdened with some love
secret, centuries old, which it was vainly striving to tell in
articulate words.

The burden of the beauty lay upon me and saddened me. I wandered slowly
along the bank, watching the play of moonlight on the river. Suddenly I
saw a tiny boat that was moored to an overhanging willow, and floated
out the length of its chain towards the middle of the stream. I looked
around. Not a creature of any kind was visible. Then I thought to
myself: "How pleasant it would be to sit out there in the boat for a
little while. And surely no one could be angry with me for taking such a
liberty--not even the owner of the boat, if he were to find me there."

No sooner said than done. I went down to the edge of the river and drew
the boat inshore by the chain that held it. Then I stepped gingerly in,
half-frightened at my own temerity, and sat down. The boat glided slowly
out again to the length of its chain and then became motionless. But it
was motionless only for a moment or two. A splash in the water drew my
attention to the chain. It had been insecurely fastened to a branch of
the willow; my weight in the boat had caused it to become detached and
fall into the water, and with horrified eyes I saw that I had now no
means of getting back to the shore. Next moment the strength of the
current carried the boat out into mid-stream, and I began to float
slowly down the river.

I sat like one paralysed, unable either to stir or speak. The willows
seemed to bow their heads in mocking farewell as I glided past them. I
heard the faint baying of a dog on some distant farm, and it sounded
like a death-note in my frightened ears. Suddenly the spell that had
held me was loosened, and I started to my feet. The boat heeled over,
and but for a sudden instinctive movement backward I should have gone
headlong into the river, and have ended my troubles there and then. The
boat righted itself, veered half-round and then went steadily on its way
down the stream. I sank on my knees and buried my face in my hands, and
began to cry. When I had cried a little while it came into my mind that
I would say my prayers. So I said them, with clasped hands and wet eyes;
and the words seemed to come from me and affect me in a way that I had
never experienced before. As I write these lines I have a vivid
recollection of noticing how blurred and large the moon looked through
my tears.

My heart was now quieted a little; I was no longer so utterly
overmastered by my fears. I was recalled to a more vivid sense of earth
and its realities by the low, melancholy striking of some village clock.
I gazed eagerly along both banks of the river; but although the moon
shone so brightly, neither house nor church nor any sign of human
habitation was visible. When the clock had told its last syllable, the
silence seemed even more profound than before. I might have been
floating on a river that wound through a country never trodden by the
foot of man, so entirely alone, so utterly removed from all human aid,
did I feel myself to be.

I drew the skirt of my frock over my shoulders, for the night air was
beginning to chill me, and contrived to regain the seat I had taken on
first entering the boat. Whither would the river carry me, was the
question I now put to myself. To the sea, doubtless. Had I not been
taught at school that sooner or later all rivers emptied themselves into
the ocean? The immensity of the thought appalled me. It seemed to chill
the beating of my heart; I grew cold from head to foot. Still the boat
held its course steadily, swept onward by the resistless current; still
the willows nodded their fantastic farewells. Along the level meadows
far and wide the white mist lay like a vast winding-sheet; now and then
through the stillness I heard, or seemed to hear, a moan--a mournful
wail, as of some spirit just released from earthly bonds, and forced to
leave its dear ones behind. The moonlight looked cruel, and the water
very, very cold. Someone had told me that death by drowning was swift
and painless. Those stars up there were millions of miles away; how long
would it take my soul, I wondered, to travel that distance--to reach
those glowing orbs--to leave them behind? How glorious such a journey,
beyond all power of thought, to track one's way among the worlds that
flash through space! In the world I should leave there would be one
person only who would mourn for me--Sister Agnes, who would--But what
noise was that?

A noise, low and faint at first, just taking the edge of silence with a
musical murmur that seemed to die out for an instant now and again, then
coming again stronger than before, and so growing by fine degrees louder
and more confirmed, and resolving itself at last into a sound which
could not be mistaken for that of anything but falling water. The sound
was clearly in front of me; I was being swept resistlessly towards it. A
curve of the river and a swelling of the banks hid everything from me.
The sound was momently growing louder, and had distinctly resolved
itself into the roar and rush of some great body of water. I shuddered
and grasped the sides of the boat with both hands.

Suddenly the curve was rounded, and there, almost in front of me, was a
mass of buildings, and there, too, spanning the river, was what looked
to me like a trellis-work bridge, and on the bridge was a human figure.
The roar and noise of the cataract were deafening, but louder than all
was my piercing cry for help. He who stood on the bridge heard it. I saw
him fling up his hands as if in sudden horror, and that was the last
thing I did see. I sank down with closed eyes in the bottom of the boat,
and my heart went up in a silent cry to Heaven. Next moment I was swept
into Scarsdale Weir. The boat seemed to glide from under me; my head
struck something hard; the water overwhelmed me, seized on me, dashed me
here and there in its merciless arms; a noise as of a thousand cataracts
filled my ears for a moment; and then I recollect nothing more.

(_To be continued._)


    Wouldst thou be happy, friend, forget, forget.
    A curse--no blessing--Memory, thou art;
    The very torment of a human heart.
    Ah! yes, I thought, I still am young; and let
    My heart but beat, I can be happy yet.
    Upon a friendly face clear shone the light;
    Without, low moaned the mountain's winds, and night
    Closed our warm home--sad words of fond regret.
    A voice which in my ear no more shall ring;
    A look estranged in hate like lightning came,
    My very soul within me died as flame
    By strong wind spent. It was not grief, for dead
    Was grief; nor love, for love in wrath had fled;
    It was of both the last undying sting!




The long grey walls, the fortifications, the church towers and steeples,
the clustering roofs of St. Malo came into view.

It is a charming sight after the long and often unpleasant night journey
which separates St. Malo from Southampton. The boats leave much to be
desired, and the sea very often, like Shakespeare's heroine, needs
taming, but, unlike that heroine, will not be tamed, charm we never so
wisely. As a rule, however, one is not in a mood to charm.

[Illustration: A BRETON MAIDEN.]

The Company are not accommodating. There are private cabins on board
holding four, badly placed, uncomfortable, possessing the single
advantage of privacy; but these managers would have them empty rather
than allow two passengers to occupy one of them under the full fare of
four. This is unamiable and exacting. In crowded times it may be all
very right, but on ordinary occasions they would do well to follow the
example of the more generous Norwegians, who place their state cabins
holding four at the disposal of anyone paying the fare of three

After the long night-passage it is delightful to steam into the harbour
of St. Malo. If the sea has been rough and unkindly, you at once pass
from Purgatory to Paradise, with a relief those will understand who have
experienced it. The scene is very charming. The coast, broken and
undulating, is rich and fertile; very often hazy and dreamy; the
landscape is veiled by a purple mist which reminds one very much of the
Irish lakes and mountains.

Across the water lies Dinard, with its lovely views, its hilly
thoroughfares, its English colony and its French patois. But the boat,
turning the point, steams up the harbour and Dinard falls away. St. Malo
lies ahead on the left, enclosed in its ancient grey walls, which
encircle it like a belt; and on the right, farther away, rise the towers
and steeples of St. Servan, also of ancient celebrity.

On the particular morning of which I write, as we steamed up the harbour
towards our moorings, the quays looked gay and lively, the town very
picturesque. It is so in truth, though some of its picturesqueness is
the result of antiquity, dirt and dilapidation. But the fresh green
trees lining the quay looked bright and youthful; a contrast with the
ancient grey walls that formed their background. Vessels were loading
and unloading, people hurried to and fro; many had evidently come down
to see the boat in, and not a few were unmistakably English.

Here and there in the grey walls were the grand imposing gateways of the
town. Above the walls rose the quaint houses, roof above roof, gable
beside gable, tier beyond tier.

At the end of the quay the old Castle brought the scene to a fine
conclusion. It was built by Anne of Brittany, and dates from the
sixteenth century. One of its towers bears the singular motto or
inscription: _Qui qu'en grogne, ainsi sera, c'est mon plaisir_: which
seems to suggest that the illustrious lady owned a determined will and
purpose. It is now turned into barracks; a lordly residence for the
simple paysans who swelled the ranks of the Breton regiment occupying it
at the time of which I write. They are said to be the best fighting
soldiers in France, these Bretons. Of a low order of development,
physically and mentally, they yet have a stubborn will which carries
them through impossible hardships. They may be conquered, but they never

The walk round the town upon the walls is extremely interesting.
Gradually making way, the scene changes like the shifting slides of a
panorama. Now the harbour lies before you, with its busy quays, its
docks, its small crowd of shipping; very crowded we have never seen it.
The old Castle rises majestically, looking all its three centuries of
age and royal dignity; its four towers unspoilt by restoration.

Onward still and the walls rise sheer out of the rocks and the water. At
certain tides, the sea dashes against them and breaks back upon itself
in froth and foam and angry boom. Sight and sound are a wonderful nerve
tonic. Countless rocks rise like small islands in every direction,
stretching far out to sea. On a calm day it is all lovely beyond the
power of words. The sky is blue and brilliant with sunshine. The sea
receives the dazzling rays and returns them in a myriad flashes. The
water seems to have as many tints as the rainbow, and they are as
changing and beautiful and intangible. A distant vessel, passing slowly
with all her sails set, almost becalmed, suggests a dreamy and
delicious existence that has not its rival. The coast of Normandy
stretches far out of sight. In the distance are the Channel Islands,
visible possibly on a clear day and with a strong glass. I know not how
that may be.

Turn your gaze, and you have St. Malo lying within its grey walls. The
sea on the right is all freedom and broad expanse; the town on the left
is cabin'd, cribb'd, confin'd. Extremes meet here, as they often do

It is a succession of slanting roofs, roof above roof, street beyond
street. Many of the houses are very old and form wonderful groups, full
of quaint gables and dormer windows, whilst the high roofs slant upwards
and fall away in picturesque outlines. An artist might work here for
years and still find fresh material to his hand. The streets are narrow,
steep and tortuous; the houses, crowding one upon another, are many
stories high; not a few seem ready to fall with age and decay. Only have
patience, and all yields to time.

On one of the islets is the tomb of Chateaubriand, who was born in St.
Malo and lived here many years. It was one of his last wishes to be
buried where the sea, for ever playing and plashing around him, would
chant him an everlasting requiem. Many will sympathise with the feeling.
No scene could be more in accordance with the solemnity of death, the
long waiting for the "eternal term;" more in unison with the pure spirit
that could write such a prose-poem as _Atala_.

Nothing could have been lovelier than the day of our arrival at St.
Malo; the special day of which I write; for St. Malo has seen our coming
and going many times and in all weathers.

The crossing had been calm as a lake. Even H.C., who would sooner brave
the tortures of a Spanish Inquisition than the ocean in its angry moods,
and who has occasionally landed after a rough passage in an expiring
condition: even H.C. was impatient to land and break his fast at the
liberal table of the Hôtel de France--very liberal in comparison with
the Hôtel Franklin. We had once dined at the table d'hôte of the
Franklin, and found it a veritable Barmecide's feast, from which we got
up far more hungry than we had sat down; a display so mean that we soon
ceased to wonder that only two others graced the board with ourselves,
and they, though Frenchmen, strangers to the place. The Hôtel de France
was very different from this; if it left something to be desired in the
way of refinement, it erred on the side of abundance.

Therefore, on landing this morning, we gave our lighter baggage in
charge of the porter of the hotel, who knew us well, and according to
his wont, gave us a friendly greeting. "Monsieur visite encore St.
Malo," said he, "et nous apporte le beau temps. Soyez le bienvenu!" This
was not in the least familiar--from a Frenchman.

[Illustration: ST. MALO.]

We went on to the custom-house, and as we had nothing to declare the
inspection was soon over. H.C. had left all his tea and cigars behind
him at the Waterloo Station, in a small hand-bag which he had put down
for a moment to record a sudden fine phrenzy of poetical inspiration.
Besides tea and cigars, the bag contained a copy of his beloved "Love
Lyrics," without which he never travels, and a bunch of lilies of the
valley, given him at the moment of leaving home by Lady Maria; an
amiable but æsthetical aunt, who lives on crystallised violets, and
spends her time in endeavouring to convert all the young men of her
acquaintance who go in for muscular Christianity to her æsthetical way
of thinking.

Leaving the custom-house, we crossed the quay, the old castle in front
of us, and passing through the great gateway, immediately found
ourselves at the Place Chateaubriand and the Hôtel de France. For the
hotel forms part of the building in which Chateaubriand lived.

We had a very short time to devote to St. Malo. A long journey still lay
before us, for we wished to reach Morlaix that night. There was the
choice of taking the train direct, or of crossing by boat to Dinard, and
so joining the train from St. Malo, which reached Dinan after a long
round. The latter seemed preferable, since it promised more variety,
though shortening our stay at the old town. But, as Madame wisely
remarked, it would give us sufficient time for luncheon, and an extra
hour or so in St. Malo could not be very profitably spent.

So before long we were once more going down the quay, in company with
the porter--whose lamentations at our abrupt departure were no doubt
sincere as well as politic--and a truck carrying our goods and chattels.
As yet, they were modest in number and respectable in appearance. H.C.
had not commenced his raid upon the old curiosity shops; had not yet
encumbered himself with endless packages, from deal boxes containing old
silver, to worm-eaten, fourteenth century carved-wood monks and
madonnas, carefully wrapped in brown paper, and bound head, hand and
foot (where these essentials were not missing) with cord. All this came
in due time, but to-day we were still dignified.

We passed without the walls and went down the quay. All our surroundings
were gay and brilliant. Everything was life and movement, the life and
movement of a Continental town. The "gentle gales" wooed the trees, and
the trees made music in the air. The sun shone as it can only shine out
of England. The sky, wearing its purest blue, was flecked with white
clouds pure as angels' wings. The boat we had recently left was
discharging cargo, and her steam was quietly dying down.

Four old women--each must have been eighty, at least--were seated on a
bench, knitting and smiling and looking as placid and contented as if
the world and the sunshine had been made for them alone, and it was
their duty to enjoy it to the utmost. It was impossible to sketch them:
Time and Tide wait for no man, and even now the whistle of the Dinard
boat might be heard shrieking its impatient warning round the corner:
but we took the old women with an instantaneous camera, and with
wonderful result. It was all over before they had time to pose and put
on expressions; and when they found they had been photographed, they
thought it the great event of their lives. The mere fact is sufficient
with these good folk; possession of the likeness is a very secondary
consideration. We left them crooning and laughing and casting admiring
glances after H.C.--even at eighty years of age: possibly with a sigh to
their lost youth.

Then we turned where the walls bend round and came in sight of the boat,
steaming alongside the small stone landing-place and preparing for

The passengers were not numerous. A few men and women; the latter with
white caps and large baskets, who had evidently been over to St. Malo
for household purposes, and were returning with the resigned air--it is
very pathetic--that country women are so fond of wearing when they have
been spending money and lessening the weight of the stocking which
contains their treasured hoard.

We mounted the bridge, which, being first-class and an extra two or
three sous, was deserted. These thrifty people would as soon think of
burning down their cottages, as of wasting two sous in a useless
luxury--all honour to them for the principle. But we, surveying human
nature from an elevation, felt privileged to philosophise.

And if this human nature was interesting, what about the natural world
around us? The boat loosed its moorings when time was up, and the grey
walls of St. Malo receded; the innumerable roofs, towers and steeples
grew dreamy and indistinct, dissolved and disappeared. The water was
still blue and calm and flashing with sunlight. To the right lay the
sleeping ocean; ahead of us, Dinard. Land rose on all sides; bays and
creeks ran upwards, out of sight; headlands, rich in verdure,
magnificently wooded; houses standing out, here lonely and solitary,
there clustering almost into towns and villages; the mouth of the Rance,
leading up to Dol and Dinan, which some have called the Rhine of France,
and everyone must think a stream lovely and romantic.

Most beautiful of all seemed Dinard, which we rapidly approached. In
twenty minutes we had passed into the little harbour beyond the pier. It
was quite a bustling quay, with carriages for hire, and men with barrows
touting noisily for custom, treading upon each other's heels in the race
for existence; cafés and small hotels in the background.

Having plenty of time, we preferred to walk to the station, and
consigned our baggage to the care of a deaf and dumb man, who
disappeared with everything like magic, left us high and dry upon the
quay to follow more leisurely, and to hope that we were not the victims
of misplaced confidence. It looked very much like it.

A steep climb brought us to the heights of Dinard. Nothing could be more
romantic. Here were no traces of antiquity; everything was aggressively
modern; all beauty lay in scenery and situation. Humble cottages
embowered in roses and wisteria; stately châteaux standing in large
luxuriant gardens flaming with flowers, proudly secluded behind great
iron gates. At every opening the sea, far down, lay stretched before
us. Precipitous cliffs, rugged rocks where flowers and verdure grew in
wild profusion, led sheer to the water's edge. Land everywhere rose in a
dreamy atmosphere; St. Malo and St. Servan across the bay in the
distance. It was a wealth of vegetation; trees in full foliage, masses
of gorgeous flowers, that you had only to stretch out your hand and
gather; the blue sky over all. A scene we sometimes realise in our
dreams, rarely in our waking hours--as we saw it that day. On the
far-off water below small white-winged boats looked as shadowy and
dreamy as the far-off fleecy clouds above.

But we could not linger. We passed away from the town and the sea and
found ourselves in the country--the station seemed to escape us like a
will-o'-the-wisp. Presently we came to where two roads met--which of
them led to the station? No sign-post, no cottage. We should probably
have taken the wrong one--who does not on these occasions?--when happily
a priest came in sight, with stately step and slow reading his breviary.
Of him we asked the way, and he very politely set us right, in French
that was refreshing after the patois around us--he was evidently a
cultivated man; and offered to escort us.

As this was unnecessary, we thanked him and departed; and, arriving soon
after at the station, found our deaf and dumb porter had not played us
false. He was cunning enough to ask us three times his proper fare, and
when we gave him half his demand seemed surprised at so much liberality.
Conversation had to be carried on with paper and pencil, and by signs
and tokens.

The train started after a great flourish of trumpets. We had a journey
of many hours before us through North Brittany; for Brittany is a
hundred years behind the rest of France, and however slow the trains may
be in Fair Normandy they are still slower in the Breton Provinces. In
due time we reached Dinan, when we joined the train that had come round
from St. Malo.

Nothing in Brittany is more lovely and striking than the situation of
Dinan. It overlooks the Rance, and from the train we looked down into an
immense valley.

Everywhere the eye rested upon a profusion of wild uncultivated verdure.
The granite cliffs were steep and wooded. Far in the depths "the sacred
river ran." A few boats and barges sailing up and down, passed under the
lovely viaduct; Brittany peasant girls were putting off from the shallow
bank with small cargoes of provisions, evidently coming from some
market. Under the rugged cliffs ran a long row of small, unpretending
houses, level with the river; a paradise sheltered, one would think,
from all the winds of heaven: yet even here, no doubt, the east wind
finds a passage for its sharp tooth to warp the waters.

[Illustration: ST. MALO.]

Further on one caught sight of an old church, evidently in the hands of
the Philistines, under process of restoration, and an ancient
monastery. The town crowned the cliffs, but very little could be seen
beyond churches and steeples. We left it to a future time.

The train went through beautiful and undulating country until it reached
Lamballe, picturesquely placed on the slope of a hill watered by a small
stream, and crowned by the ancient and romantic ruins of the Castle
which belonged to the Counts of Penthièvre, and was dismantled by
Cardinal Richelieu. A fine Gothic building, of which we easily traced
the outlines. The present church of Notre Dame was formerly the chapel
of the Castle.

Here we longed to explore, but it did not enter into our plans. So,
also, the interesting town of Guingamp had to be passed over for the

For we were impatient to see Morlaix. Having heard much of its
picturesqueness and antiquity, we hoped for great things. Yet our
experiences began in an adventurous and not very agreeable manner.

Darkness had fallen when we reached the old town, after a long and
tedious journey. Nothing is so tiring as a slow train, which crawls upon
the road and lingers at every station. Of Morlaix we could see nothing.
We felt ourselves rumbling over a viaduct which seemed to reach the
clouds, and far down we saw the lights of the town shining like stars;
so that, with the stars above, we seemed to be placed between two
firmaments; but that was all. Everything was wrapped in gloom and
mystery. The train steamed into the station and its few lights only
rendered darkness yet more visible. The passengers stumbled across the
line in a small flock to the point of exit.

We had been strongly recommended to the Hôtel d'Europe, as strongly
cautioned against any other; but we found that the omnibus was not at
the station; nor any flys; nothing but the omnibus of a small hotel we
had never heard of, in charge of a conductor, rough, uncivil, and less
than half sober.

This conductor--who was also the driver--declined to take us to any
other hotel than his own; would listen to no argument or reason. Had he
been civil, we might have accepted the situation, but it seemed evident
that an inn employing such a man was to be avoided. Unwilling to be
beaten, we sought the station-master and his advice.

"Why is the omnibus of the Hôtel d'Europe not here?" we asked.

"No doubt the hotel is full. It is the moment of the great fair, you

But we did not know. We knew of Leipzig Fair by sad experience, of
Bartholomew Fair by tradition, of the Fair of Novgorod by hearsay; but
of Morlaix Fair we had never heard.

"What is the fair?" we asked, with a sinking heart.

"The great Horse Fair," replied the station-master. "Surely you have
heard of it? No one ever visits Morlaix at the time of the fair unless
he comes to buy or sell horses."

Having come neither to buy nor sell horses, we felt crushed, and hoped
for the deluge. I proposed to re-enter the train and let it take us
whither it would--it mattered not. H.C. calmly suggested suicide.

"What is to be done?" he groaned. "The man refuses to take us to the
Hôtel d'Europe. He is not sober; it is useless to argue with him."

"The fair again," laughed the official. "It is responsible for
everything just now, and Bretons are not the most sober people at the
best of times. Still, if you wish to go to the Hôtel d'Europe, the man
must take you. There is no other conveyance and he is bound to do so.
But I warn you that it will be full, or the omnibus would have been

Turning to the man, he threatened to report him, gave him his orders,
and said he should inquire on the morrow how they had been carried out.
We struggled into the omnibus, which was already fairly packed with men
who looked very much like horsedealers, the surly driver slammed the
door, and the station-master politely bowed us away.

The curtain dropped upon Act I.; Comedy or Tragedy as the event might

It soon threatened to be Tragedy. The omnibus tore down a steep hill as
if the horses as well as the driver had been indulging, swayed from side
to side and seemed every moment about to overturn. Now the passengers
were all thrown to the right of the vehicle, now to the left, and now
they all collided in the centre. The enraged driver was having his
revenge upon us, and we repented our boldness in trusting our lives in
his hands. But the sturdy Bretons accepted the situation so calmly that
we felt there must still be a chance of escape.

So it proved. In due time it drew up at the Hôtel d'Europe with the
noise of an artillery waggon, and out came M. Hellard, the landlord. His
appearance, with his white hair and benevolent face, was sufficient to
recommend him, to begin with. We felt we had done wisely, and made known
our wants.

"I am very sorry," he replied, "but, gentlemen, I am quite full. There
is not a vacant room in the hotel from roof to basement."

"Put us anywhere," we persisted, for it would never do to be beaten at
last: "the coal-cellar; a couple of cupboards; anything; but don't send
us away."

The landlord looked puzzled. He had a tall, fine presence and a handsome
face; not in the least like a Frenchman. "I assure you that I have
neither hole nor corner nor cupboard at your disposal," he declared. "I
have sent away a dozen people in the last hour who arrived by the last
train. Why did you not send me word you were coming?"

"We are only two, not a dozen," we urged. "And we knew nothing of this
terrible Fair, or we should not have come at all. But as we are here,
here we must remain."

With that we left the omnibus and went into the hall, enjoying the
landlord's perplexed attitude. But when did a case of this sort ever
fail to yield to persuasion? The last resource has very seldom been
reached, however much we may think it; and an emergency begets its own
remedy. The remedy in this instance was the landlady. Out she came at
the moment from her bureau, all gestures and possibilities; we felt

"Mon cher," she exclaimed--not to H.C., but to her spouse--"don't send
the gentlemen away at this time of night, and consign them to you know
not what fate. Something can be managed. _Tenez_!" with uplifted hands
and an inspiration, "ma bouchère! Mon cher, ma bouchère!" (Voice,
exclamation, gesture, general inspiration, the whole essence would
evaporate if translated.) "Ma bouchère has two charming rooms that she
will be delighted to give me. It is only a cat's jump from here," she
added, turning to us; "you will be perfectly comfortable, and can take
your meals in the hotel. To-morrow I shall have rooms for you."

So the luggage was brought down; the landlord went through a passage at
arms with the driver, who demanded double fare, and finally went off
with nothing but a promise of punishment. We had triumphed, and thought
our troubles were over: they had only begun.

Our remaining earthly desire was for strong tea, followed by repose. We
had had very little sleep the previous night on board the boat, and the
day had been long and tiring.

"The tea immediately; but you will have to wait a little for the rooms,"
said Madame. "My bouchère is at the theatre to-night; we must all have a
little distraction sometimes; it will be over a short quarter of an
hour, and then I will send to her."

Madame was evidently a woman of capacity. The short quarter of an hour
might be profitably spent in consuming the tea: after that--a delicious
prospect of rest, for which we longed as the Peri longed for Paradise.

"Meanwhile, perhaps messieurs will walk into the café of the hotel,
awaiting their rooms," said the landlord.

"Where tea shall be served," concluded Madame, giving directions to a
waiter who stood by, a perfect Image of Misery, his face tied up after
the fashion of the French nation suffering from toothache and a

"But the fire is out in the kitchen," objected Misery, in the spirit of
Pierrot's friend.

"Then let it be re-lighted," commanded Madame. "At such times as these,
the fire has not the right to be out."

Monsieur marshalled us into the café, a large long room forming part of
the hotel; by no means the best waiting-place after a long and tiring
day. It was hot, blazing with gas, clouded with smoke--the usual French
smoke, worse than the worst of English tobacco. The room was crowded,
the noise pandemonium. Card playing occupied some tables, dominoes
others. The company was very much what might be expected at a Horse
Fair: loud, familiar, slightly inclined to be quarrelsome; no nerves.
Our host joined a card table, evidently taking up his game where our
arrival had interrupted it. He soon became absorbed and forgot our
existence; our hope was in Madame.

[Illustration: MORLAIX.]

We waited in patience; the short quarter of an hour developed into a
long half-hour, when tea arrived: small cups, small tea pot, usual
strainer, straw-coloured infusion; still, it just saved our reason. H.C.
felt that he should never write another line of poetry; the tobacco
fumes had taken an opium effect upon me, and I began to see visions and
imagined ourselves in Dante's Inferno. We looked with mild reproach at
the waiter. He quite understood; a guilty conscience needed no words;
and explained that the chef had let out the fire. As the chef was at
that moment in the café playing cards, as absorbed and excited as
anyone, no wonder that he had forgotten his ordinary duties.

"And our rooms?" we asked. "Are they ready?"

"The theatre is not yet over," replied the waiter. "Madame is on the
look-out. The play is extra long to-night in honour of the fair."

That miserable fair!

The tea revived us: it always does. "I feel less like expiring,"
murmured H.C., with a tremulous sigh. "But this place is like a furnace
seven times heated, and the noise is pandemonium in revolt. What would
Lady Maria think of this? Why need that frivolous butcher-woman have
gone to the theatre to-night of all nights in the year? And why need all
these people have stayed away from it? Why is everything upside down and
cross and contrary? And why are we here at all?"

H.C. was evidently on the verge of brain fever.

We waited; there was nothing else for it. It was torture; but others
have been tortured before now; and some have survived, and some have
died of it. We felt that we should die of it. Half past eleven had come
and gone; midnight was about to strike. Oh that we had gone on with that
wretched omnibus, no matter what the end. Yes; it had come to that.

At last human nature could bear it no longer: we appealed to the
landlord. He looked up from his game, flushed, startled and repentant.

"What! have they not taken you to the bouchère!" he exclaimed. "Why the
theatre was over long ago, and no doubt everything is arranged. You
shall be conducted at once."

Misery, looking himself more dead than alive (he informed us presently
in an access of confidence that he had had four teeth taken out that day
and felt none the better for it), was told off to act as guide, and
shouldering such baggage as we needed for the night, stepped forth. We
pitied him, he seemed so completely at the end of all things; and
feeling, by comparison, that there was a deeper depth of suffering than
our own, we revived. His name was not Misery, but André.

Monsieur accompanied us to the door and wished us Good-night. Madame had
disappeared and was nowhere to be found; the lights were out in her
bureau. It looked very much as if she, too, had gone to bed and
forgotten us. "Cette chère dame is tired," said the sympathetic
landlord. "We really have no rest day or night at the time of the fair.
But you may depend upon it she has made it all right with her bouchère."

So we departed in faith. It was impossible to be angry with Monsieur,
though we felt neglected. He was so unlike the ordinary run of landlords
that one could only repose confidence in him and overlook small
inattentions. He had a way of throwing himself into your interests, and
making them his own for the time being. But I fear that his memory was
very short.

We departed with thanksgiving, and followed our guide. I cannot say that
we trod in his footsteps, for, too far gone to lift his feet bravely, he
merely shuffled along the pavement. With one hand he supported the
luggage on his shoulder; with the other he carried a candle, ostensibly
to light our pathway, in reality only complicating matters and the
darkness. As we turned round by the hotel, the clocks struck the
witching hour. H.C. shivered and looked about for ghosts. It was really
a very ghostly scene and atmosphere. In spite of the occasion of the
fair, the town was in repose. The theatre was long over; the extra
entertainment on account of the fair had been a mere invention of the
imaginative waiter's; people had very properly gone home to bed, and
lights were out. No noisy groups were abroad, making night hideous with
untimely revelry.

We formed a strange procession. Our little guide slipped and shuffled,
hardly able to put one foot before the other. He wore house-slippers of
list or wool, and made scarcely any noise as he went along. Every now
and then he groaned in the agonies of toothache; and each time H.C.
shivered and looked back for the ghost. It was excusable, for the candle
threw weird shadows around, which flitted about like phantoms playing at
hide-and-seek. The night was so calm that the flame scarcely flickered.

In spite of the darkness, we could see how picturesque was the old town,
and we longed for daylight. Against the dark background of sky the yet
darker outlines of the houses stood out mysteriously. We turned into a
narrow street where opposite neighbours might almost have shaken hands
with each other from the upper windows. Wonderful gabled roofs succeeded
each other in a long procession. There seemed not a vestige of anything
modern in the whole thoroughfare. We were in a scene of the Middle Ages,
back in those far-off days.

Here and there a light shining in a room revealed a large latticed
window, running the whole width of the house. In spite of André's
fatigue and burden, we could only stand and gaze. No human power could
mesmerise us, but the window did so.

What could be more startlingly weird and picturesque than the bright
reflection of these latticed panes, surrounded by this intense darkness,
these mysterious outlines? Almost we expected to see a ghostly vision
advance from the interior, and, opening the lattice with a skeleton
hand, ask our pleasure at thus invading their solitude at the witching
hour--for the vibration of the bells tolling midnight was still upon the
air, travelling into space, perhaps announcing to other worlds that to
us another day was dead, another day was born.

But no ghost appeared. A very human figure, however, did so. It looked
down upon us for a moment, and mistaking our rapt gaze at the
antiquities--of which it did not form a part--for mere vulgar curiosity,
held up a reproving hand. Then, catching sight of H.C., it darted
forward, looked breathlessly into the night, and seemed also mesmerised
as by a revelation.

We quietly went our way, leaving the spell to work itself out. Our
footsteps echoed in the silent night, with the running accompaniment of
a double-shuffle from Misery. No other sound broke the stillness; we
were absolutely alone with the ancient houses, the stars and the sky. It
might have been a Mediæval City of the Dead, unpeopled since the days of
its youth. Our candle burned on in the hand of André; our reflections
danced and played about us: one hears of the Dance of Death--this was
the Dance of Ghosts--a natural sequence; ghostly shadows flitted out of
every doorway, down every turning.

At last we emerged on to an open space, partly filled by a modern
building with a hideous roof, evidently the market place. Here we
ascended to a higher level. Ancient outlines still surrounded us, but
were interrupted by modern ones also. Square roofs and straight lines
broke the continuity of the picturesque gabled roofs and latticed
windows. Ichabod may be written upon the lintels of all that is ancient
and disappearing, all that is modern and hideous. The spirit and beauty
of the past are dead and buried.

"We are almost there," said André, with a sigh that would have been
profound if he had had strength to make it so. "A few more yards and we

We too sighed with relief, though the midnight walk amidst these wonders
of a bygone age had proved refreshing and awakening. But we sympathised
with our guide, who was only kept up by necessity.

We passed out of the market place again into a narrow street, dark,
silent and gloomy. At the third or fourth house, André exclaimed "Nous
voilà!" and down went the baggage like a dead-weight in front of a
closed doorway.

The house was in darkness: no sight or sound could be seen or heard;
everyone seemed wrapped in slumber; a strange condition of things if we
were expected. The man rang the bell: a loud, long peal. No response; no
light, no movement; profound silence.

"C'est drôle!" he murmured. "The theatre" (that everlasting theatre!)
"has been long over and Madame must have returned. Where can she be?"

"Probably in bed," replied H.C. "We have little chance of following her
excellent example if this is to go on. There must be some mistake, and
we are not expected."

"Impossible," returned André. "La Patrone never forgets anything and
must have arranged it all." He, too, had unlimited confidence in Madame,
but for once it was misplaced.

[Illustration: GRANDE RUE, MORLAIX.]

Not only the house, but the whole street was in darkness. Not the ghost
of a glimmer appeared from any window or doorway; not a gas-light from
end to end. Oil lamps ought to have been slung across from house to
house to keep up the character of the thoroughfare; but here,
apparently, consistency was less thought of than economy. We looked and
looked, every moment expecting a cloaked watchman to appear, with
lantern casting weird flashes around and a sepulchral voice calling the
hour and the weather. But _Il Sereno_ of Majorca had no counterpart in
Morlaix; the darkness, silence and solitude remained unbroken.

We were the sole group of humanity visible, and must have appeared
singular as the still flaring candle lighted up our faces, pale and
anxious from fatigue, threw out in huge proportions the head of our
guide, bound up as if prepared for the grave for which he was fast

After a time Misery gave another peal at the bell, and, borrowing a
stick, drummed a tattoo upon the door that might have waked the departed
Mediævals. This at length brought forth fruit.

A latticed window was opened, a white figure appeared, a nightcapped
head was put forth without ceremony, a feminine voice, sleepy and
indignant, demanded who thus disturbed the sacred silence of the night.

"The gentlemen are here," said André, mildly. "Come down and open the
door. A pretty reception this, for tired travellers."

"What gentlemen?" asked the voice, which belonged to no less a person
than Madame la bouchère herself.

"Parbleu! why the gentlemen you are expecting. The gentlemen la Patrone
sent to you about and that you agreed to lodge for the night."

"André--I know your voice, though I cannot see your form--you have been
taking too much, and to-morrow I shall complain to Madame Hellard. How
dare you wake quiet people out of their first sleep?"

"First sleep! Has la bouchère not been to the theatre?"

"Theatre, you good-for-nothing! Do I ever join in such frivolities? I
have been in bed and asleep ever since ten o'clock--where you ought to
be at this hour of the night."

"But la Patrone sent to engage rooms for these gentlemen and you
promised to give them. They have come. Open the door. We cannot stay
here till daybreak."

"You will stay there till doomsday if it depends on my opening to you.
La Patrone never sent and I never promised. I have only one small empty
bed in my house, and in the other bed in the same room two of my boys
are sleeping. I am very sorry for the gentlemen. My compliments to la
Patrone, and before sending gentlemen to me at midnight, she ought to
find out if I can accommodate them. Good-night to you, and let us have
no more rioting and bell-ringing."

The nightcapped head was withdrawn, the lattice was sharply closed, and
we were left to make the best of the situation.

It was serious: nearly one in the morning, the whole town slumbering,
and we "homeless, ragged, and tanned."

To remain was useless. Not all the ringing and rowing in the world would
bring forth Madame again, though it might possibly produce her avenging
spouse. André shouldered his baggage and we began to retrace our steps.

"Back to the hotel," commanded H.C.; "they must put us up somewhere."

"Not a hole or corner unoccupied," groaned André. "You can't sleep in
the bread oven. And they will all have gone to bed by the time we get
back again."

Suddenly he halted before a house at the corner of the marketplace. It
looked little better than a common cabaret, and was also closed and
dark. Down went the luggage, as he knocked mysteriously at the shutters.

"What are you doing?" we said. "You don't suppose that we would put up
here even for an hour."

"It is clean and respectable," objected André. "Messieurs cannot walk
the streets till morning."

A door was as mysteriously opened, leading into a room. A couple of
candles were burning at a table, round which some rough-looking men were
seated, drinking and playing cards, but keeping silence. It looked
suspicious and uninviting.

"In fact we might be murdered here," shuddered H.C.: "most certainly we
should be robbed."

André made his request: could they give us lodgment?

"Not so much as a chair or a bench," answered the woman, to our relief;
for though we should never have entered, André might have disappeared
with the baggage and given us some trouble. He evidently had all the
obstinacy of the Breton about him, and was growing desperate. The door
was closed again without ceremony, and once more we were left to make
the best of it.

This time we took the lead and made for the hotel. Again we passed
through the wonderful street with the overhanging eaves and gables.
Again we paused and lingered, lost in admiration. But the light had
departed from the latticed window, and no doubt in dreams the Fair One
was beholding again the vision of H.C.

A few minutes more and we stood before the hotel. They were just closing
the doors. Monsieur Hellard was crossing the passage at the moment.
Never shall I forget his consternation. He raised his hands, and his
hair stood on end.

"What's the matter?" he cried.

"Matter enough," replied André taking up the parable. "Madame never sent
to the bouchère, and the bouchère has no room. And I think"--despair
giving him courage--"it was too bad to give us a wild goose chase at
this time of night."

"And now you must do your best and put us where you can," I concluded.
"We are too tired to stir another step."

"I haven't where to lodge a cat," returned the perplexed landlord. "I
cannot do impossibilities. What on earth are we to manufacture?"

"You have a salon?"

"Comme de juste!"

"Is it occupied?"

"No; but there are no beds there. It stands to reason."

"Then put down two mattresses on the floor, and we will make the best of
them for to-night. And the sooner you allow us to repose our weary
heads, the more grateful we shall be. It is nearly one o'clock."

Monsieur seemed convinced, and gave the word of command which sent two
or three waiters flying. Poor André was one of them; but we soon
discovered that he was the most willing and obliging man in the world.

Even now everything was mismanaged and had to be done over again; a
wordy war ensued between landlord, waiters and chambermaids, each one
having an original idea for our comfort and wanting their own way. The
small Bedlam that went on would have been diverting at any other time.
It was very nearly two o'clock before we closed the door upon the world,
and felt that something like peace and repose lay before us.

The room was not uncomfortable. It had all the stiff luxuriance of a
French salon, and a gilt clock on the mantelpiece ticked loudly and rang
out the hours--too many of which, alas, we heard. On the table were the
remains of a dessert, evidently hastily brought in from the table d'hôte
room, which communicated with this by folding doors: dishes of biscuits,
raisins and luscious grapes.

"At least we can refresh ourselves," sighed H.C., taking up a fine bunch
and offering me another, "Nectar in its primitive state; the drink of
the gods."

"And of Poets," I added.

"Talk not of poetry," he cried. "I feel that my vein has evaporated, and
after to-night will never return."

Very soon, you may be sure, the room was in darkness and repose.

"The inequalities of the earth's surface are nothing to my bed," groaned
H.C. as he laid himself down. "It is all hills and valleys. I think they
must have put the mattress upon all the brooms and brushes of the hotel,
crossed by all the fire-irons. And that wretched clock ticks on my brain
like a sledge-hammer. I shall not be alive by morning."

"Have you made your will?"

"Yes," he replied; "and left you my museum, my shooting-box, all my
unpublished MSS. and the care of my æsthetic aunt, Lady Maria. You will
not find her troublesome; she lives on crystallised violets and barley

"Mixed blessings," I thought, but was too polite to say so. It must have
been my last thought, for I remembered no more until the clock awoke me,
striking four; and woke me again, striking six; after which sleep
finally fled.

Soon the town also awoke; doors slammed and echoed; omnibuses and other
vehicles rattled over the stones; voices seemed to fill the air; the
streets echoed with foot-passengers. The sun was shining gloriously and
we threw open the windows to the new day and the fresh breeze, and took
our first look at Morlaix by daylight. Already we felt braced and
exhilarated as we took in deep draughts of oxygen.

[Illustration: MARKET PLACE, MORLAIX.]

It was a lively scene. The Square close by was surrounded by gabled
houses, and houses not gabled: a mixture of Ancient and Modern. That it
should be all old was too much to expect, excepting from such sleepy old
towns as Vitré or Nuremberg, where you have unbroken outlines, a
mediæval picture unspoilt by modern barbarities; may dream and fancy
yourself far back in the ages, and find it difficult indeed to realise
that you are really not in the fifteenth but in the nineteenth century.

The streets were already beginning to be gay and animated; there was a
look of expectancy and mild excitement on many faces, announcing that
something unusual was going on. It was fair time and fête time; and even
these stolid, sober people were stirred into something like laughter and
enjoyment. Fair Normandy has a good deal of the vivacity of the French;
but Graver Brittany, like England, loves to take its pleasures somewhat

It was a lovely morning. Before us, and beyond the square, stretched the
heights of Morlaix, green and fertile, fruit and flower-laden. To our
left towered the great viaduct, over which the train rolls, depositing
its passengers far, far above the tops of the houses, far above the
tallest steeple. It was a very striking picture, and H.C. shouted for
joy and felt the muse rekindling within him. Upon all shone the glorious
sun, above all was the glorious sky, blue, liquid and almost tangible,
as only foreign skies can be. The fatigues of yesterday, the terrible
adventures of the past night, all were forgotten. Nay, that midnight
expedition was remembered with intense pleasure. All that was
uncomfortable about it had evaporated; nothing remained but a vision
wonderfully unusual, weird, picturesque: grand old-world outlines
standing out in the surrounding darkness; a small procession of three; a
flickering candle throwing out ghostly lights and shadows; a willing but
unhappy waiter dying of exhaustion and pain; a curious figure of Misery
in which there certainly was nothing picturesque, but much to arouse
one's pity and sympathy--the better, diviner part of one's nature.

"Hurrah for a new day!" cried H.C., turning from the window and
hastening to beautify and adorn. "New scenes, new people, new
impressions! Oh, this glorious world! the delight of living!"


It was on a wild October evening about a year ago that my wife and I
arrived by train at a well-known watering-place in the North of England.
The wind was howling and roaring with delight at its resistless power;
the rain came hissing down in large drops.

On yonder headland doubtless might be heard "The Whistling Woman"--dread
harbinger of death and disaster to the mariner. The gale had been hourly
increasing in violence, till for the last hour before arriving at our
destination we had momentarily expected that the train would be blown
from the track. Our hotel was situated on an eminence overlooking the
town; and as we slowly ascended to it in our cab we thought: "Well, we
must not be surprised to find our intended abode for the night has

However, presently we stopped in front of a building which looked
substantial enough to withstand anything; and in answer to our driver's
application to the bell, the door was promptly opened by a
smartly-attired porter. He was closely followed by a person full of
smiles and bows, who posted himself in the doorway ready to receive us.

All at once there was a terrific bang, as though a forty-pounder had
been fired to welcome our arrival; and he of the smiles and bows was
hurled headlong against the muddy wheel of our conveyance by the
slamming-to of the large door. My wife's bonnet blew off and tugged hard
at its moorings; the light in the porch was extinguished; while the wind
seemed to give a shriek of triumph at the jokes he was playing upon us.
Here we were, then, in total darkness and exposed to the drenching rain.
However, half-an-hour afterwards all our discomforts were forgotten as
we sat down to an excellent dinner à la carte.

Next morning I was abroad very early, looking for lodgings. Fortune
seemed to smile upon me on this occasion; for scarcely had I proceeded
fifty yards from my hotel when I came upon a very nice-looking row of
houses, and in the window of the first was "Lodgings to let." Knocking
at the door, it was soon opened by a very neat-looking maid.

I inquired if I could see the proprietor, but was told that Miss G. was
not yet down. I said I would wait; and was shown into a very
comfortably-furnished dining-room. Soon Miss G. appeared, and proved to
be a pretty brunette of about five-and-twenty, whose dark eyes during
our short interview were every now and then fixed on me with an
intentness that seemed to be trying to read what kind of person I was;
whilst her manner, though decidedly pleasing, had a certain restlessness
in it which I could not help observing. Her father and mother being
both dead, she kept the lodging-house herself. I asked her if she had a
good cook, to which she replied that she was responsible for most of
that difficult part of the ménage herself, keeping two maids to assist
in the house and parlour work. She went on to say that her drawing-room
was "dissected:" a term common amongst north country lodging-house
keepers, and meant to express that it was undergoing its autumn
cleaning, but she would have it put straight if I wished. I told her
that we should be quite contented with the dining-room, provided we had
a good bed-room. This she at once showed me, and, soon coming to terms,
I returned to the hotel.

After breakfast, I went to the bureau to ask for my account. Whilst it
was being made out, I observed casually that I had taken lodgings at
Miss G.'s on Cliff Terrace, upon which the accountant looked quickly up
and said: "Oh, Miss G.'s," and then as quickly went on with my bill. I
hardly noticed this at the moment, though I thought of it afterwards.

Eleven o'clock saw us comfortably ensconced in our rooms. After lunch,
we took a delightful expedition, the weather having greatly moderated.
We found that night, at dinner, that Miss G. was a first-rate cook, and
we retired to rest much pleased with our quarters.

We soon made the acquaintance of the two maids, Jane, who waited upon
us, and Mary, the housemaid; and two very pleasant and obliging young
women we found them.

About the third morning of our stay, on going up to my bed-room after
breakfast, I was surprised to find a strange maid in the room. She was
standing by the bed, smoothing down the bed-clothes with both hands and
appeared to take no notice of me, but continued gazing steadily in front
of her, while her hands went mechanically on smoothing the clothes. I
could not help being struck with her pale face, which wore a look of
pain, and the fixed and almost stony expression of her eyes. I left her
in exactly the same position as I found her. On coming down I said to my
wife: "I did not know Miss G. employed three servants. There certainly
is another making the bed in our room." I am short-sighted, and my wife
would have it I had made a mistake; but I felt quite certain I had not.
Later on, whilst Jane was laying the lunch, I said to her: "I thought
that you and Mary were the only two servants in the house."

"Yes, sir, only me and Mary," was Jane's reply, as she left the room.

"There," said my wife, "I told you that you were mistaken." And I did
not pursue the subject further.

Two or three days slipped away in pleasant occupations, such as driving,
boating, etc., and we had forgotten all about the third maid. We saw but
little of Miss G., though her handiwork was pleasantly apparent in the

On the sixth morning of our stay, which was the day before we were to
leave, my wife after breakfast said she would go up and do a little
packing whilst I made out our route for the following day in the
Bradshaw; but was soon interrupted by the return of my wife with a
rather scared look on her face.

"Well," she said, "you were right after all, for there is another maid,
and she is now in our bed-room, and apparently engaged in much the same
occupation as when you saw her there. She took no notice of me, but
stood there with her body slightly bent over the bed, looking straight
in front of her, her hands smoothing the bed-clothes." She described her
as having dark hair, her face very pale, and her mouth very firmly set.
My curiosity was now so much awakened that I determined to question Miss
G. on the subject. But our carriage was now at the door waiting for us
to start on an expedition that would engage us all day.

On my return, late in the afternoon, meeting Miss G. in the passage, I
said to her: "Who is the third servant that Mrs. K. and myself have seen
once or twice in our bed-room?"

Miss G. looked, I thought, rather scared, and, murmuring something that
I could not catch, turned and went hurriedly down the stairs into the

An hour afterwards, as we were sitting waiting for our dinner, Jane
brought a note from Miss G. enclosing her account, and saying that she
had just had a telegram summoning her to the sick-bed of a relation,
that in all probability she would not be back till after our departure,
but that she had left directions with the servants, and hoped they would
make us quite comfortable, and that we would excuse her hurried

A few minutes after, a cab drove up to the door, into which, from our
window, we saw Miss G. get, and drive rapidly away.

Later on in the evening, whilst Jane was clearing away the dinner
things, I said to her: "By-the-by, Jane, who is the third maid?" She was
just going to leave the room as I spoke; instead of replying she turned
round with such a scared look on her face that I felt quite alarmed,
then, hurriedly catching up her tray, she left the room. Thinking that
further inquiry would be very disagreeable to her, I forbore again
mentioning the subject. Next day, our week being up, we departed for
fresh woods and pastures new.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our tour led us considerably further north, but a month later saw us
homeward bound. The nearest route by rail led us by X. As we drew up at
the station we noticed on the platform a parson, in whom we recognised
one of the clergy of X., whose church we had been to. Presently the door
of our compartment was opened and he put in a lady, wished her good-bye,
the guard's whistle blew and we were off. After a short time we fell
into conversation with the lady and found her to be the clergyman's
wife. Amongst other things, we asked after Miss G.

"Oh, Miss G.," she replied; "she is very well, but I hear, poor thing,
she has not had a very good season."

"I am sorry to hear that," I replied; "why is it?" She was silent for a
minute and then related to us the following facts.

At the beginning of the season a rather untoward event occurred at Miss
G.'s lodgings. An elderly lady took one of the flats for a month. She
had with her an attendant of about thirty. Before long Miss G. observed
that they were not on very good terms, and one morning the old lady was
found dead in her bed.

A doctor was at once called in, who, on viewing the body, found there
were very suspicious marks round the neck and throat, as if a person's
fingers had been tightly pressed upon them. The maid on hearing this at
once became very restless, and going to her bed-room, which was at the
top of the house, packed a small bag and, having put on her things, was
about to descend the stairs when, from hurry or agitation, she missed
her footing and, falling to the bottom, broke her neck.

But not the least extraordinary part of the business was that not the
slightest clue could be obtained as to who the lady was, the linen of
herself and her maid having only initials marked on it. The police did
their best by advertising and inquiry, but all they could find out was
that they had come straight to X. from Liverpool, where they had arrived
from America. There they were traced to Fifth Avenue Hotel, in New York,
where they had been only known by the number of their room, and to which
they had come from no one knew whither. Enough money was found in the
lady's box to pay the expenses of their funerals. An open verdict was
returned at the inquests which were held. The police took possession of
their belongings and had them, no doubt, at the present moment.

At this point the train stopped, the lady wished us "Good-morning" and
left the carriage; and we, as we steamed south, were left to meditate on
this strange but perfectly true story and to solve as we best could the
still unanswered question of "Who was the third maid?"



Never shall I forget my first meeting with Irene Latouche. After
travelling all day, I had arrived at my friend Maitland's house to find
that dinner had been over for at least an hour. Having taken the
precaution of dining during the journey this did not affect me very
materially; but my kindly host, who met me in the hall, took it very
much to heart.

"We quite gave you up, my dear fellow, we did indeed," he reiterated,
grasping my hand with additional fervour each time he made the
assertion. "My wife will be so vexed at your missing dinner. You are
sure you won't have a bit now? Such a haunch of venison, hung to a turn!
One of old Ward's. You know he has taken Glen Bogie this season, and is
having rare sport, I am told. Ah, well, if you really won't take
anything, we had better join the ladies in the drawing-room."

"But the luggage hasn't come from the station yet," I interposed, "and
my dress clothes are in my portmanteau--"

"Nonsense about dress clothes! It will be bed-time soon. You don't
suppose anybody cares what you have on, do you?"

With this comforting assurance, Maitland pushed open the drawing-room
door, and a flood of light streamed out into the hall. Dazzled by the
sudden glare I stepped back, but not before I had caught sight of a most
striking figure at the further end of the long room.

"Who on earth is that girl?" I whispered.

"Which? Oh, the one playing the harp, you mean? I might have known that!
A rare beauty, isn't she? I thought you would find her out pretty soon!"

Now I am a middle-aged bachelor of quiet tastes, and nothing annoys me
more than when my friends poke ponderous fun at me in this fashion. So,
ignoring Maitland's facetious suggestion, I calmly walked forward and
shook hands with my hostess. She greeted me with her customary
cordiality, and in about two minutes I was feeling perfectly at home in
spite of my dusty clothes. I now had an opportunity of examining the
other guests, who were dispersed in groups about the room. Most of them
were people I had frequently met before under the Maitlands' hospitable
roof, but the face which had first arrested my attention was that of an
absolute stranger.

"I see you are admiring Miss Latouche, like the rest of us," said Mrs.
Maitland in a low voice. "Such a talented girl! She can play positively
any kind of instrument, and has persuaded me to have the old harp taken
out of the lumber-room and put in order for her. She looks so well
playing it, doesn't she? Quite like Cleopatra or the Queen of Sheba!"

"She is undoubtedly handsome in a certain style," I replied cautiously.
"I don't know whether I admire such a gipsy type myself--"

"Ah, you agree with me then," interrupted my hostess eagerly. "I call it
an uncomfortable sort of beauty for a drawing-room. She always looks as
if she might produce a dagger at a moment's notice, as the people do in
operas. Give me a nice simple girl with a pretty English face, like my
niece Lily Wallace over there! But I am bound to say Miss Latouche makes
a great sensation wherever she goes. Of course she has wonderful

I was about to inquire in what these powers consisted, when Mrs.
Maitland was called away. Left to myself, I could not repress a smile at
the comparison she had instituted between her own niece and the
beautiful stranger. Lily was well enough, a good-tempered pink and white
girl, who in twenty years' time would develop into just such another
florid matron as her aunt. And then I looked again at Miss Latouche.

She was seated a little apart from the rest, one white arm hanging
listlessly over the harp upon which she had just been playing. Her large
dark eyes had a far-away look of utter abstraction from all sub-lunary
matters that I have never seen in anyone besides. Masses of wavy black
hair were loosely coiled over her head, round a high Spanish comb, and
half concealed her brow in a dusky cloud. At first sight the black
velvet dress, which swept around her in heavy folds, seemed rather an
unsuitable costume for so young a girl. But its sombreness was relieved
by a gorgeous Indian scarf, thrown carelessly over the shoulders. I do
not know who was responsible for Miss Latouche's get-up, or if she
really required an extra wrap. At any rate, the combination of colours
was very effective.

Whilst I was speculating vaguely on the probable character of this
striking young lady, she slowly rose from her low seat and crossed the
room. Her eyes were wide open, but apparently fixed on space, and she
moved with the slow, mechanical motion of a sleepwalker. To my intense
surprise she came straight towards me, and stood in an expectant
attitude about a yard from where I was sitting. Not knowing exactly how
to receive this advance, I jumped up and offered her my chair. She waved
it aside with a gesture of imperial scorn. Her dark eyes positively
flashed fire, and a rich glow flushed her pale olive cheek. I could see
that I had deeply offended her.

"I must apologise," I began nervously, "but I thought you might be

Before the words were fairly spoken, I realised the full imbecility of
this remark. My only excuse for making such a fatuous observation was
that the near vicinity of this weird beauty had paralysed my reasoning
faculties, so that I hardly knew what I was saying. And then she spoke
in a low, rich voice which thrilled me through every nerve. I could not
understand the meaning of her words, or even recognise the language in
which they were spoken. But the tone of her voice was unutterably sad,
like an inarticulate wail of despair. All the time her glorious eyes
were resting on me as if she would read my inmost thoughts, whilst I
responded with an idiotic smile of embarrassment. Even now, after the
lapse of years, it makes me hot all over to think of that moment.

I don't know how long I had been standing looking like a fool, when Miss
Latouche turned away as abruptly as she had approached and walked
straight to the door. With a sigh of relief I sank down on the despised
chair. After a few moments I gained sufficient courage to glance round
and assure myself that no spectators had witnessed my discomfiture. It
was a great relief to find that the entire party had migrated to the
further end of the room, where a funny little man was singing comic
songs with a banjo accompaniment. I slipped in next my host, who was
thoroughly enjoying the performance.

"Encore! Capital! Give us some more of it, Tommy," he roared when the
song came to an end. "That's my sort of music, isn't it yours, Carew?"
he added, turning to me.

"A very clever performance," I answered stiffly, divided between my
natural abhorrence of comic songs and the difficulty of making a candid
reply in the immediate vicinity of the funny man.

"Just so. That's what I call really clever," said Maitland, not
perceiving my lack of enthusiasm. "Worth a dozen of those melancholy
tunes on the harp, in my opinion. By-the-bye, what's become of Miss
Latouche? Couldn't stand this sort of thing, I suppose. Too merry for
her. What a pity such a handsome girl should mope so."

"Miss Latouche appears to be rather eccentric," I interposed. "Something
of a genius, I imagine?"

"So they all say. Well, she is a clever girl, certainly--only--but you
will soon find out what she is like. Here's Tommy going to give us that
capital song about the bad cigar. Ever heard it? No? Ha! ha! It will
make you laugh then."

That is just what I hate about a comic performance. One laughs under
compulsion. If one is sufficiently independent to resist, one incurs the
suspicion of being wanting in humour and some well-meaning friend feels
bound to explain the joke until one forces a little hollow mirth.
Directly the song was in full swing, and the audience convulsed with
merriment, I seized my opportunity and fled from the drawing-room. In
the library I knew by experience that I should find a good fire and a
comfortable arm-chair, both of which would be acceptable after my long
journey. It was separated from the rest of the house by a heavy baize
door and a long passage, so that I was not likely to be disturbed by
any stray revellers. Several years' experience of the comforts of a
bachelor establishment has given me a great taste for my own society,
and it was with unfeigned delight that I looked forward to a quiet
half-hour in this haven of refuge.

"Bother Maitland! Why doesn't he have the house better warmed and
lighted," I muttered, as the baize door swung behind me, and the sudden
draught extinguished my candle. I would not go back to relight it for
fear of encountering some officious friend in the hall, who would insist
upon accompanying me into my retreat. I preferred groping my way down
the long corridor, which was in darkness except for a bright streak of
moonlight that streamed in through a window at the further end. I had
just decided that it was my plain duty to give Maitland the address of a
good shop where he could not only procure cheap lamps but also very
serviceable stoves for warming passages, at a moderate price, when I
discovered that the said window was open.

"Too bad of the servants," I thought; "I should discharge them all if
they were mine. It quite accounts for the howling draught through the
house. Just the thing to give one rheumatism at this time of year."

Advancing with the intention of excluding the chilly blast, I was
suddenly arrested by the sight of a motionless figure kneeling in front
of the window. It was Irene Latouche. I had not noticed her in the
confusing patch of moonlight until my foot was almost on the heavy
velvet dress which fell over the floor like a great dark pall. Her arms
were resting on the window-sill, her beautiful pale face gazing upwards
with an expression of agonised despair. Evidently she was quite
unconscious of my presence.

Whilst I was turning over in my mind the possibility of beating a silent
retreat, she gave a low groan, so full of unquenchable pain that my
blood fairly ran cold. Then rising to her feet, she leaned far out into
the chill night air, stretching her white arms up towards the stars with
a passionate action of entreaty.

"Oh, my Beloved! Shall I ever pray in vain? Is there no mercy?" she
cried, and the sound of her voice was like the wind moaning through
rocky caverns. "My heart is breaking! My strength is almost at an end!
How much longer must I suffer this unspeakable misery?"

Clearly this sort of thing was not intended for strangers. I stopped my
ears and shrank as closely as I could into the shadow of the wall. But I
could not take my eyes off the girl for a moment. Such an exhibition of
wild passion I have never witnessed before or since. As a dramatic
effort it was superb; but all the time I was distinctly conscious of the
absurd figure I should cut if any third person came on the scene. Also
certain warning twinges in my left shoulder reminded me that I was not
in the habit of standing by open windows on bleak autumn nights. Why
Miss Latouche did not catch her death of cold I cannot imagine; for I
could see the wind disordering her dark masses of hair and blowing back
the Indian scarf from her bare shoulders. But she appeared to be as
indifferent to personal discomfort as she was to all external sounds.

Just as I had settled that my health would never survive such a wanton
infringement of all sanitary laws, Irene again sank on her knees and
buried her face in her hands. Now was my time. I crept noiselessly back
up the corridor until my hand was actually on the baize door. Then
excitement got the better of prudence; and, tearing it open, I rushed
wildly across the hall and up the staircase, never pausing until I was
safe in my own room, with the door locked behind me and the unlighted
bed-room candle still clutched firmly in my hand.


Now, having already mentioned that I am a person of regular and strictly
conventional habits, it will be readily believed that I viewed these
extraordinary proceedings with unmitigated disgust. It was not to
encounter horrid experiences like this that I had left my comfortable
town house, where draughts and midnight adventures were alike unknown.
Before I came down to breakfast on the following morning, I had
fabricated a long story about pressing business which necessitated my
immediate return to town. Though ordinarily of a truthful disposition, I
was prepared to solemnly aver that the success of an important lawsuit
depended on my presence in London within the next twelve hours. I did
not even shrink from the prospect of having to produce circumstantial
evidence to convince Maitland of the truth of my assertion. Anything
rather than undergo any further shocks to my nervous system.

Happily I was spared the necessity of perjuring myself to this extent.
When the breakfast bell rang, I descended and found that as usual very
few of the guests, had obeyed the summons. Mrs. Maitland was pouring out
tea quite undisturbed by this irregularity, for Longacres is a house
where attendance at the meals is never compulsory.

"And how have you slept?" she said, extending me a plump hand glittering
with rings. "We were afraid that perhaps you were a little overtired
last night, as you went off to bed in the middle of the singing.
Capital, wasn't it? Mr. Tucker is so very funny, and never in the least
vulgar with his jokes! Now some comic singers really forget that there
are girls in the room.--(Lily, my love, just go and see if your uncle is
coming down).--I assure you, Mr. Carew, I was staying in a country house
last year--mind, I give no names--where the songs were only fit for a
music-hall! It's perfectly true; even George said it made him feel quite
red to hear such things in a drawing-room. But, as I was saying, Mr.
Tucker is so different; such genuine humour, you know!"

It is impossible to conjecture how long my amiable hostess might have
rippled on in this strain if our conversation had not been interrupted
by the entry of Miss Latouche.

"You have been introduced?" whispered Mrs. Maitland; and, without
waiting for an answer, she called out merrily: "My dear Irene, you must
positively come and entertain Mr. Carew. He will give up early rising if
he finds that it is always to mean a tête-à-tête with an old woman!"

To my intense astonishment, Miss Latouche replied in the same jesting
tone, and taking the vacant seat next mine began at once to talk in the
most friendly way imaginable. Not a trace of eccentricity was
perceptible in her manner. She was merely a handsome girl, with a strong
vein of originality. I began to doubt the evidence of my senses. Surely
I must have been labouring under some hallucination the previous night.
It was almost easier to believe that I had been the dupe of a portentous
nightmare than that this charming girl should have enacted such a
strange part.

Before the end of breakfast I was certain that I had taken a very
exaggerated view of the situation. It would be a pity to cut short a
pleasant visit and risk offending some of my oldest friends on such
purely fanciful grounds. Besides, I just remembered that I had given my
cook a holiday and that if I went home I should be dependent on the
culinary skill of a charwoman. This last consideration determined me. I
settled to stay.

Nothing in Miss Latouche's behaviour led me to regret my decision. On
the contrary, at the end of a few days we were firm friends. The better
I knew her the greater became my admiration of her beauty and talents;
and, without vanity, I think I may say that she distinctly preferred me
to the other guests, who were mostly very ordinary types of modern young
men. The extraordinary impressions of the first evening had entirely
faded from my mind, when they were suddenly revived in all their
intensity by the following incident.

It was a wet morning and we were all lolling about the billiard-room in
various stages of boredom. Some of the more energetic members of the
party had been out at dawn, cub hunting, and had returned wet through
just as we finished breakfast, in time to add their little quota of
grumbling to the general bulk of discontent. Mrs. Maitland, after making
a fruitless attempt to rally the spirits of the party, gave up the
effort in despair and retired to write letters in her room. Conversation
was carried on in fits and starts, whilst from time to time people
knocked about the billiard balls in a desultory fashion without
exhibiting even a show of interest in the result of the game.

At last someone introduced the subject of fortune-telling. Instantly
there was a revival of interest. Everybody had some scrap of experience
to contribute, or some marvellous story to relate. Only Miss Latouche
remained silent.

"What a pity none of us can tell fortunes!" cried Lily Wallace, eagerly.
"Won't anybody try? It's such fun, almost as amusing as turning tables,
and it often comes true in the most wonderful way!"

"Ah, it does indeed!" sighed Mr. Tucker, with a countenance of
preternatural gravity. "A poor fellow I know was told that he would
marry and then die. Well, it's all coming true!"

"Indeed! Really! How very shocking!"

"Yes, indeed! Poor chap! He married last year and now he has nothing but
death before him!"

"How awfully sad!" exclaimed Lily, sympathetically. "Why, you are
smiling! Oh, you bad man. I do believe you were only laughing at me
after all! Now, Irene, will you please tell Mr. Tucker's fortune, and
show him that it is no joking matter? I am sure you know the way,
because I have seen a mysterious book about palmistry in your room. Now
do, there's a dear girl."

After a little more pressing, Miss Latouche acceded to the general
request that she would show her skill. Several people pressed forward at
once to have their fortunes told, the men being quite as eager as the
girls, although they affected to laugh at the whole affair. I watched
the exhibition with some interest. Surely here would be a fair field for
the exercise of that wonderful dramatic power which I knew Miss Latouche
held in reserve. Well, I was disappointed. She examined the hands
submitted to her notice, and interpreted the lines with an amount of
conscientious commonplaceness for which I should never have given her
credit. The majority of the fortunes were composed of the conventional
mixture of illnesses and love affairs which is the stock-in-trade of
drawing-room magicians. I glanced at her face. Not a trace of enthusiasm
was visible. She was telling fortunes as mechanically as a cottager
knits stockings.

"Now we have all been done except Mr. Carew! It's his turn!" cried Lily,
who was enjoying the whole thing immensely. "He must have his fortune
told! You will do him next, won't you, Irene?"


"Oh, why not? Are you tired? What a pity!"

Miss Latouche took not the slightest notice of the chorus of
protestations. She merely turned away with such an air of inflexible
determination that even the ardent Lily refrained from pressing her any

My curiosity was considerably excited by finding myself an exception to
the general rule. Was the inference to be drawn from Miss Latouche's
behaviour flattering, or the reverse? I had no chance of finding out
until late in the afternoon, when the rain ceased and we all gladly
seized the opportunity of getting some exercise before dinner.

The different members of the party quickly dispersed in opposite
directions. A few exceptionally active young people tried to make up for
lost time by starting a game of tennis on the cinder courts. Some
diverged towards the stables, others took a brisk constitutional up and
down the gravel path. Under the pretence of lighting a cigar, I
contrived to wait about near the door until I saw Miss Latouche crossing
the hall. I remember thinking how wonderfully handsome she looked as she
came forward with a crimson shawl thrown over her head--for it was one
of her peculiarities never to wear a conventional hat or bonnet unless
absolutely obliged.

"What do you say to going up the hill on the chance of seeing a fine
sunset?" I said, as she joined me. She nodded assent, and turning away
from the others, we began to climb a winding path, from the top of which
there was supposed to be a wonderful view. When we had gone about a
quarter of a mile, we stopped and looked round. Far out in front
stretched a beautiful valley lighted by gleams of fitful sunshine. The
house and garden lay at our feet, but so far below that we only
occasionally heard a faint echo from the tennis courts. The moment
seemed propitious.

"Miss Latouche," I said abruptly, "I want to ask you something."

No sooner were the words spoken than it struck me they were liable to be
misunderstood. She might imagine that I intended to make her an offer,
and accept me on the spot. Infinitely as I admired her in an abstract
fashion, I had never contemplated matrimony for a moment. Visions of
enraged male relatives armed with horse-whips, followed by a formidable
breach of promise case, flitted through my mind. There was no time to be

"It's only about the fortune-telling," I stammered out; "nothing else, I
assure you--nothing at all!"

"I knew it," replied Miss Latouche calmly and without a trace of

Sensible girl! I breathed freely once more and proceeded with my

"Why wouldn't you tell my fortune this morning? Why am I alone

"Do you really wish to know?" she said very quietly.

"Of course, or I shouldn't ask!"

"Well then, the reason that I declined to tamper with _your_ destiny is
that I should be irresistibly compelled to tell _you_ the truth!"

"Are you serious, or only--?"

"Am I serious?" she cried, with a wild laugh; "_you_ ask this? The time
has at last come for an explanation. I would willingly have spared you,
but it is in vain that we seek to avoid our fate! Rest here!" and
seizing my wrist, she dragged me down on the fallen trunk of a tree that
lay half hidden by the tall grass at the side of the path. Immediately
behind us was a gloomy wood, choked with rank autumnal growths. A more
dank, unwholesome situation for a seat on a wet day it would be
impossible to conceive. But I preferred running the risk of rheumatic
fever to contradicting Miss Latouche in her present mood. Only I hoped
the explanation would be exceedingly brief.

"You pretend that you never saw me before the other evening?" she began,

"Certainly!" I answered, with great astonishment. "It was undoubtedly
our first meeting. I am sure--"

"Can you swear it?" she interrupted, eagerly.

"Oh, no! I never swear! But I don't mind affirming," I said playfully,
hoping to give a less serious turn to the conversation.

To my horror Miss Latouche wrung her hands with the same expression of
hopeless suffering that I had seen once before.

"It is too cruel," she moaned, "after all this dreary waiting and
watching, to be met like this! Oh, my Beloved! I cannot bear it any
longer! Shall I never find you? Never! never!"

Her voice died away with a sob of despair, which effectually quenched my
capacity for making jokes.

"I hardly understand what you are alluding to," I said as nicely as I
could; "but if you will trust me, I promise to do anything that lies in
my power to help you."

"You promise!" she exclaimed, eagerly. "Mind, you are bound now! Bound
to my service!"

This was taking my polite offer of assistance rather more seriously than
I intended. Muttering some commonplace compliment, I begged to be
further enlightened.

"You will not repeat to any living soul the mysteries I am about to
disclose?" she began. "No, I need not ask! There is already sufficient
sympathy between us for me to be sure of your discretion. But remember,
if you ever feel tempted to disclose a single word of these hidden
matters, there are Unseen Powers who will amply avenge the profanation.
Know, then, that since my Beloved was snatched from me by what dull men
call death, all my faculties have been concentrated on the effort to
discover some link of communication with the Invisible World. I will not
dwell on my toils and sufferings, the terrible sights I have braved and
the sleepless nights that I have sacrificed to study. I do not grudge my
youth, passed as it were under the shadow of the tomb, for at last the
truth has been revealed to me. _You_ are to be the medium!"

"Oh, nonsense!" I shouted. "I won't undertake it! Nothing shall persuade
me! Besides, I am perfectly ignorant of the subject."

"You underrate your powers," observed Miss Latouche with calm
conviction. "Nature has endowed you with a most unusual organisation.
Your powers are quite involuntary. Nothing you say or do can make the
slightest difference. You are merely a passive agent for the
transmission of electric force."

"Do you mean a sort of telegraph wire?" I gasped, feebly.

"If you offer no resistance, all will be well with us," continued Miss
Latouche, ignoring the interruption; "but the Unseen Powers will bear no
trifling, and I can summon those to my aid who will make you bitterly
repent any levity!"

I hate those sort of vague prophecies. They frighten one quite out of
proportion to their real gravity.

"By the bye, I don't yet understand the reason you wouldn't tell my
fortune, as you seem to know such a lot about those things," I said at

"What! You do not understand yet that there is a bond between us which
makes any concealment impossible? I could not blind _you_ with the
paltry fictions that satisfy those poor fools!" and she waved her hand
contemptuously towards the distant figures of the tennis players,
amongst whom Mr. Tucker, in a wonderful costume, was distinctly visible.
The expression struck me as unjustifiably strong, even when applied to a
man who sang comic songs with a banjo accompaniment.

"I don't think he is a bad little chap," I said, apologetically.

"They are all alike," she replied, with an air of ineffable scorn. "You
can only content them with idle promises of love and wealth, like the
ignorant village girl who crosses a gipsy's hand with silver and in
return is promised a rich husband. And all the while I see the dark
cloud hanging over them and can do nothing to avert it. Ah! it is
terrible to know the evil to come and be powerless to warn others! To be
obliged to smile whilst one's heart is wrung with anguish and one's
brain tortured with nameless apprehensions; that is indeed misery!"

"Dear me!" I said, nervously; "I hope you don't foresee any catastrophe
about to overwhelm _me_?"

She gazed straight into my eyes, and her passionate face gradually
softened into a lovely smile.

"No, my only friend!" she exclaimed, taking my hand gently in hers; "so
far, no cloud darkens the perfect happiness of our intercourse!"

I felt that there were moments of compensation even in the pursuit of
the Black Arts!


It was a curious sensation, mixing again with the commonplace
pleasure-seekers at Longacres, conscious that I was the repository of
such extraordinary revelations. For, before we left our damp retreat,
Irene had confided in me the secret history of her life. Not that I
understood it very clearly, owing to her voice being continually choked
by stifled emotion. But I gathered that a person, presumably of the male
sex, who was vaguely designated as the Beloved, had perished in some
frightful manner before her eyes, and ever since that time she had
devoted herself to the study of the occult sciences in the firm
conviction that it was possible to discover a medium of communication
with the Unseen World. She now persisted that I had been designated by
unerring proofs as that medium. She assured me that, months previously,
she had foreseen my arrival at Longacres in the precise fashion in which
it really took place.

"Every detail," she said, "was exactly foreshadowed in the vision. Not
only did I recognise you at once by your clothes (which were different
from those of the other men present), but your voice seemed familiar to
me, as if I had known you for years. I saw you gazing at me with what I
fondly believed to be a look of mutual recognition. I remember rising
from my seat in a species of ecstatic trance to which I am liable in
moments of excitement. I have a faint recollection of addressing you
with an impassioned appeal for help, to which you responded with icy
indifference, but the rest of our interview remains a blank. Only there
was a cruel sense of disappointment: instead of meeting as two spirits
whose interests were inseparable, you denied any previous knowledge of
me, and even manifested a sort of terrified aversion at my approach. I
saw you shrink away from my side; then nothing remained for me but to
temporarily dissemble my purpose and try first to win your confidence by
the exercise of my poor woman's wits. In this at least I was

Irene only spoke the truth. She had completely subdued my will by her
fascinations, and though I hated and, in private, ridiculed all
supernatural dealings, I was prepared to try the wildest experiments at
her bidding.

The trial of my obedience arrived sooner than I anticipated. Immediately
after luncheon next day Irene made a sign to me to follow her into the

"All is ready!" she exclaimed, with great excitement. "To-night will see
us successful or for ever lost!"

"What do you mean?" I inquired, dubiously; for it did not sound a very
cheery prospect.

"I mean that all things point to a hasty solution of the great problem.
To-night the planets are propitious, and with your help the chain of
communication will be at last complete. Oh, my Beloved! my toil and
waiting has not been all in vain!"

"Well, what do you want me to do?" I said, rather sulkily. "Mind, it
mustn't be this evening, because Mrs. Maitland has a lot of people
coming to dinner, and we can't possibly leave the drawing-room."

"The crisis will be at midnight in the ruined chapel," observed Irene,
as if she were stating the most ordinary fact; "but you must meet me an
hour before to make all sure."

"Preposterous!" I exclaimed; "it's quite out of the question. Wander
about the garden at midnight indeed! What would people say if they saw

"Do you imagine that I allow myself to be influenced by the opinion of
poor-spirited fools?" inquired Irene with fine scorn. And then, suddenly
changing her tactics, she sobbed and prayed me to grant her this one
boon--it might be the last thing she would ever ask.

Well, she was very handsome, and I am but human. Before she left me I
had promised to do what she wished.

It may be imagined that I passed a miserable day, distracted by a
thousand gloomy apprehensions which increased as the fatal hour
approached. I have mentioned that there was to be a dinner party that

"A lot of country neighbours," as Maitland explained. "They like a big
feed from time to time. I put out the old port and my wife wears her
smartest dress and all the diamonds. It is quite a fuss to persuade her
to put them on, she is so nervous about them being lost! She always
insists on my locking them up in the safe again before I go to bed. Of
course I don't contradict her, but half the time I leave them on my
dressing-room table till next morning. Ha! ha! It is always best to
humour ladies, even when they are a trifle unreasonable."

It is one of Maitland's little foibles that he never can resist drawing
attention to the family diamonds (which are remarkably fine) by some
passing allusion of this sort.

Nothing of any interest happened during dinner. When it was at last
terminated we retired to the drawing-room, and listened with great
decorum to several pieces of music. Miss Latouche was pressed to perform
upon the harp, which she did with her usual melancholy grace. To-night
she was in a rich white robe, which enhanced the peculiarly dusky effect
of her olive skin and masses of dark hair. Her face was very pale; and,
to my surprise, shortly after playing she complained of a bad headache
and went off to bed. I hardly knew what to think. Had her courage failed
her at the last, and, when it came to the point, did she shrink from
braving the opinion of the world which she affected so thoroughly to

"So, after all her boasting, she is no bolder than the rest of us!" I
thought, with intense relief, as I wandered across the hall to join the
other men in the smoking-room. The last guest had departed, and very
soon the whole house would be at rest for the night. "How I shall laugh
at her to-morrow!" I muttered. "Never again will she impose--"

My meditations were interrupted by an icy touch on my wrist. Turning, I
saw Irene by my side, with a dark cloak thrown over her evening dress.
Without speaking a word she drew me towards a side door into the garden,
which was seldom used, and, producing a key from her pocket, opened it

"We can't go out at this time of night!" I gasped, making a faint effort
to break loose. "I haven't even a hat! It's really past a joke!"

"Remember your promise!" she whispered, in a voice of such awful menace
that, feeling all resistance was useless, I followed her out into the
darkness. At that moment a sudden gust of wind slammed the door.

"_Now_ what shall we do!" I exclaimed. "There is no handle and the key
is inside!"

"Hush!" she whispered. "No more of these trivialities! I tell you the
Spirits are abroad to-night; the air is thick with unseen forms. Obey me
in silence, or you are lost."

Speechless with annoyance, my teeth chattering with cold and general
creepiness, I followed her through the shrubberies until we reached the
site of a ruined chapel, which had originally joined on to the old wing
of the house. Of this building little remained except portions of the
outer walls, overgrown with ivy. The pavement had long since
disappeared, and was replaced by a rank growth of grass and weeds,
amongst which lay scattered such monumental remains as had survived the
general destruction. Only one window of the house happened to look out
in this direction. I could see a light shining through the blind, and,
with a touch, drew Irene's attention to it.

"Do not alarm yourself with vain fears," she whispered; "it is only Mr.
Maitland's dressing-room. All will be quiet soon!" As she spoke, the
light was suddenly extinguished.

Only then did I realise the full horrors of my position. When that
bed-room candle went out, the last link which bound me to civilization
seemed to have snapped. I was at the mercy of an enthusiast who had
broken loose from all those conventional trammels which I hold in such
respect. Although I had the greatest admiration for Irene, nothing would
have surprised me less than if my murdered remains had been found next
morning half hidden in the dank grass of the ruined chapel.

We were standing in the deep shadow of the old wall. The silence was
intense. Indeed, after Irene's injunctions, I hardly dared breathe for
fear of drawing down some misfortune on my devoted head. Not that I
quite believed anything was going to happen, only it was best to be on
the safe side. Suddenly the stillness was broken by the distant sound of
the stable clock striking twelve.

"It has come!" whispered Irene, stooping towards me with an expression
of the utmost anxiety. "Now you must obey me absolutely, or we shall
both incur the wrath of the Unseen Powers. No wavering! We have gone too
far to recede! First, to establish the electric current between us, you
must hold me firmly by the wrist and pass your hand slowly up and down
my arm, repeating these words after me."

I hesitated. The proceeding struck me as extraordinary.

"Will you imperil us both?" muttered Irene, in such a tone of agony that
I seized her arm and began to rub for my life. I remember noticing that
it was as cold and white as the arm of a marble statue. Meanwhile Irene
repeated an invocation, apparently in the same language in which she had
addressed me at our first meeting, and I imitated her to the best of my

After this had been going on a few minutes, she inquired in a whisper if
I felt anything unusual. I considered that my sensations were quite
sufficiently peculiar to justify my replying in the affirmative. She
appeared satisfied.

"All will be well, my friend," she murmured, sinking down with an air of
exhaustion on the lid of an ancient stone coffin that lay half overgrown
with ivy at our feet. "The danger will be averted if you act with
courage; only keep your hold on my hand and the Unseen Influences have
no power to hurt us! Now drink this." With these words she offered me a
small bottle of a dull blue colour and very curious shape.

I examined the little flask suspiciously. I had a hazy impression that I
had once seen something like it in the British Museum.

"Never can I reveal by what means I procured this invaluable treasure
and the precious fluid that it contains," replied Irene in answer to my
inquisitive glance. "Suffice it to say that for countless ages they lay
concealed in the cerements of a mummy."

That settled me. I instantly resolved that no power on earth should
induce me to taste the nasty mess. A bright thought occurred to me--I
would base my refusal upon grounds which even Irene could scarcely

"I am dreadfully sorry," I whispered, "but it upsets me to drink
anything except water; in fact I can't do it, the consequences would be
too horrible! I need not particularise, but literally I couldn't keep it
down a minute. So it seems hardly worth while to risk wasting this
valuable fluid."

"And am I to be baffled at this hour by Human Weakness!" cried Irene,
stamping with suppressed rage. "It shall not be! Ha! I have it! The
odour alone may be sufficiently powerful to work our purpose." And
uncorking the bottle, she held it towards me.

The smell was pungent but not disagreeable.

"Now all is completed," she said, when I had inhaled a few whiffs. "You
have only to gaze before you, and wish with all the force of your will
that my Beloved may appear."

We stood perfectly still, hand clasped in hand. Irene had risen from her
grim seat, and was leaning against me for support. Her cloak had fallen
off, and I thought that she looked like a beautiful spirit herself
against the dark background of ivy. In obedience to her orders, I fixed
my eyes on space and tried to wish.

Hardly had I begun, when a figure emerged from behind the opposite wall
and glided slowly across the chapel towards us. I was so amazed that I
could hardly believe the evidence of my senses. As for Irene, she only
smiled with ineffable bliss, as if it were exactly what she had expected
all along.

It was rather a cloudy night, so that I had great difficulty in
following the movements of the mysterious figure. When it gained the
centre of the chapel it paused, and then slowly turned towards the wall
of the house. As far as I could see, it was making some wild motion with
its upraised arms, whether of benediction or menace it was impossible to
discern at that distance; but I could not shake off a horrid impression
that it was cursing the slumbering inmates. And then, wonderful to
relate, whilst my eyes were fixed upon the dark figure, it began slowly
to rise into the air!

At this portentous sight, I don't mind confessing that my hair fairly
bristled with horror. Fortunately for the preservation of my reason, at
that instant the moon, gleaming from behind a cloud, revealed a long
ladder planted against Mr. Maitland's dressing-room window.

In a moment I recovered my self-possession.

"Stay still--I am going to leave you for a short time," I whispered.

Irene clung to me with both hands, and expressed a fear that the
outraged spirits would tear us in pieces if we moved.

"Bother the spirits!" I replied, in a gruff whisper. "I swear it will be
the worse for you if you make a fuss now!"

She sobbed and wrung her hands, but the time was past for that to have
any effect upon me, and, disengaging myself from her grasp, I crept
away, hiding as well as I could behind the scattered ruins.

In this manner I contrived almost to reach the foot of the ladder
without being discovered. I had a strange fancy for capturing the thief
single-handed and monopolising all the glory of saving the famous
diamonds. Waiting patiently until he had just reached the window, I
rushed forward and seized the ladder.

"It's no use resisting," I shouted; "if you don't give up quietly, I'll

At this point a second figure stepped out from behind a laurel bush and
effectually silenced any further threats by dealing me a heavy blow on
the head.

       *       *       *       *       *

For days I lay insensible from concussion of the brain. When I was at
last pronounced convalescent, Maitland was admitted to my room, being
bound by solemn promises not to excite me in any way. With heartfelt
gratitude he shook my hand and thanked me for saving the family

"I shall take better care of them in the future," he said. "Catch me
leaving them about in my dressing-room again. No, they shall always go
straight back into the safe. Mrs. Maitland was right about that, though
it wouldn't do to confess it. Precious lucky for me that you heard the
burglars and ran out; though I wouldn't advise you to try and tackle two
muscular ruffians by yourself another time. It was just a chance that
one broke his leg when you pulled down the ladder, otherwise they would
have finished you off before we arrived on the scene."

I may here remark that I never thought it necessary to correct the
version of the story which I found was already generally accepted. To
this day Maitland firmly believes that I was just getting into bed,
when, with supernatural acuteness, I divined the presence of robbers
under his dressing-room window, and creeping quietly out attacked them
in the rear.

"By-the-bye, is Miss Latouche still staying here?" I presently inquired
in as calm a voice as I could command.

"No, she left suddenly the day after your accident. She complained of
feeling upset by the affair, and wished to go home. We did not press her
to stay, as she is liable to nervous attacks which are rather alarming.
Why, that very night, curiously enough, I met her evidently walking in
her sleep down the passage as I rushed out at your shout. She passed
quite close to me without making any sign, and was quite unconscious of
it next day--in fact referred with some surprise to having slept all
through the row."

"Has she always had these peculiar ways?" I asked with interest.

"Well, I always thought her an imaginative, fanciful sort of girl, but
she has certainly been much worse since that poor fellow's death. What,
you never heard the story? It was at a picnic, and she insisted upon his
climbing some rocks to get her a certain flower, just for the sake of
giving trouble, as girls do. The poor lad's foot slipped, and he rolled
right over a precipice and was dashed to pieces. Of course it was a
shocking thing, but it's a pity she became so morbid about it, as no
real blame attached to her. Now I must not talk too much or the doctor
will say I have tired you; so good-bye for the present."

And that was the last I heard of Irene Latouche.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Argosy - Vol. 51, No. 1, January, 1891" ***

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