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Title: Stories by American Authors, Volume 2
Author: Various
Language: English
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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 "Stories by American Authors, Volume 2" ***

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Stories by American Authors










_The Stories in this Volume are protected by copyright, and are
printed here by authority of the authors or their representatives._

[Illustration: Frank R. Stockton]



_Century Magazine, May, 1882._

The country residence of Mr. John Hinckman was a delightful place to
me, for many reasons. It was the abode of a genial, though somewhat
impulsive, hospitality. It had broad, smooth-shaven lawns and towering
oaks and elms; there were bosky shades at several points, and not far
from the house there was a little rill spanned by a rustic bridge with
the bark on; there were fruits and flowers, pleasant people, chess,
billiards, rides, walks, and fishing. These were great attractions,
but none of them, nor all of them together, would have been sufficient
to hold me to the place very long. I had been invited for the trout
season, but should, probably, have finished my visit early in the
summer had it not been that upon fair days, when the grass was dry,
and the sun not too hot, and there was but little wind, there strolled
beneath the lofty elms, or passed lightly through the bosky shades,
the form of my Madeline.

This lady was not, in very truth, my Madeline. She had never given
herself to me, nor had I, in any way, acquired possession of her. But
as I considered her possession the only sufficient reason for the
continuance of my existence, I called her, in my reveries, mine. It
may have been that I would not have been obliged to confine the use of
this possessive pronoun to my reveries had I confessed the state of my
feelings to the lady.

But this was an unusually difficult thing to do. Not only did I dread,
as almost all lovers dread, taking the step which would in an instant
put an end to that delightful season which may be termed the
ante-interrogatory period of love, and which might at the same time
terminate all intercourse or connection with the object of my passion;
but I was, also, dreadfully afraid of John Hinckman. This gentleman
was a good friend of mine, but it would have required a bolder man
than I was at that time to ask him for the gift of his niece, who
was the head of his household, and, according to his own frequent
statement, the main prop of his declining years. Had Madeline
acquiesced in my general views on the subject, I might have felt
encouraged to open the matter to Mr. Hinckman, but, as I said before,
I had never asked her whether or not she would be mine. I thought of
these things at all hours of the day and night, particularly the

I was lying awake one night, in the great bed in my spacious chamber,
when, by the dim light of the new moon, which partially filled the
room, I saw John Hinckman standing by a large chair near the door. I
was very much surprised at this for two reasons. In the first place,
my host had never before come into my room, and, in the second place,
he had gone from home that morning, and had not expected to return for
several days. It was for this reason that I had been able that evening
to sit much later than usual with Madeline on the moonlit porch. The
figure was certainly that of John Hinckman in his ordinary dress, but
there was a vagueness and indistinctness about it which presently
assured me that it was a ghost. Had the good old man been murdered?
and had his spirit come to tell me of the deed, and to confide to me
the protection of his dear----? My heart fluttered at what I was
about to think, but at this instant the figure spoke.

"Do you know," he said, with a countenance that indicated anxiety, "if
Mr. Hinckman will return to-night?"

I thought it well to maintain a calm exterior, and I answered:

"We do not expect him."

"I am glad of that," said he, sinking into the chair by which he
stood. "During the two years and a half that I have inhabited this
house, that man has never before been away for a single night. You
can't imagine the relief it gives me."

And as he spoke he stretched out his legs and leaned back in the
chair. His form became less vague, and the colors of his garments more
distinct and evident, while an expression of gratified relief
succeeded to the anxiety of his countenance.

"Two years and a half!" I exclaimed. "I don't understand you."

"It is fully that length of time," said the ghost, "since I first came
here. Mine is not an ordinary case. But before I say anything more
about it, let me ask you again if you are sure Mr. Hinckman will not
return to-night?"

"I am as sure of it as I can be of anything," I answered. "He left
to-day for Bristol, two hundred miles away."

"Then I will go on," said the ghost, "for I am glad to have the
opportunity of talking to some one who will listen to me; but if John
Hinckman should come in and catch me here, I should be frightened out
of my wits."

"This is all very strange," I said, greatly puzzled by what I had
heard. "Are you the ghost of Mr. Hinckman?"

This was a bold question, but my mind was so full of other emotions
that there seemed to be no room for that of fear.

"Yes, I am his ghost," my companion replied, "and yet I have no right
to be. And this is what makes me so uneasy, and so much afraid of him.
It is a strange story, and, I truly believe, without precedent. Two
years and a half ago, John Hinckman was dangerously ill in this very
room. At one time he was so far gone that he was really believed to be
dead. It was in consequence of too precipitate a report in regard to
this matter that I was, at that time, appointed to be his ghost.
Imagine my surprise and horror, sir, when, after I had accepted the
position and assumed its responsibilities, that old man revived,
became convalescent, and eventually regained his usual health. My
situation was now one of extreme delicacy and embarrassment. I had no
power to return to my original unembodiment, and I had no right to be
the ghost of a man who was not dead. I was advised by my friends to
quietly maintain my position, and was assured that, as John Hinckman
was an elderly man, it could not be long before I could rightfully
assume the position for which I had been selected. But I tell you,
sir," he continued, with animation, "the old fellow seems as vigorous
as ever, and I have no idea how much longer this annoying state of
things will continue. I spend my time trying to get out of that old
man's way. I must not leave this house, and he seems to follow me
everywhere. I tell you, sir, he haunts me."

"That is truly a queer state of things," I remarked. "But why are you
afraid of him? He couldn't hurt you."

"Of course he couldn't," said the ghost. "But his very presence is a
shock and terror to me. Imagine, sir, how you would feel if my case
were yours."

I could not imagine such a thing at all. I simply shuddered.

"And if one must be a wrongful ghost at all," the apparition
continued, "it would be much pleasanter to be the ghost of some man
other than John Hinckman. There is in him an irascibility of temper,
accompanied by a facility of invective, which is seldom met with. And
what would happen if he were to see me, and find out, as I am sure he
would, how long and why I had inhabited his house, I can scarcely
conceive. I have seen him in his bursts of passion, and, although he
did not hurt the people he stormed at any more than he would hurt me,
they seemed to shrink before him."

All this I knew to be very true. Had it not been for this peculiarity
of Mr. Hinckman, I might have been more willing to talk to him about
his niece.

"I feel sorry for you," I said, for I really began to have a
sympathetic feeling toward this unfortunate apparition. "Your case is
indeed a hard one. It reminds me of those persons who have had
doubles, and I suppose a man would often be very angry indeed when he
found that there was another being who was personating himself."

"Oh, the cases are not similar at all," said the ghost. "A double or
doppelganger lives on the earth with a man, and, being exactly like
him, he makes all sorts of trouble, of course. It is very different
with me. I am not here to live with Mr. Hinckman. I am here to take
his place. Now, it would make John Hinckman very angry if he knew
that. Don't you know it would?"

I assented promptly.

"Now that he is away I can be easy for a little while," continued the
ghost, "and I am so glad to have an opportunity of talking to you. I
have frequently come into your room, and watched you while you slept,
but did not dare to speak to you for fear that if you talked with me
Mr. Hinckman would hear you, and come into the room to know why you
were talking to yourself."

"But would he not hear you?" I asked.

"Oh, no," said the other, "there are times when any one may see me,
but no one hears me except the person to whom I address myself."

"But why did you wish to speak to me?" I asked.

"Because," replied the ghost, "I like occasionally to talk to people,
and especially to some one like yourself, whose mind is so troubled
and perturbed that you are not likely to be frightened by a visit from
one of us. But I particularly wanted to ask you to do me a favor.
There is every probability, so far as I can see, that John Hinckman
will live a long time, and my situation is becoming insupportable. My
great object at present is to get myself transferred, and I think that
you may, perhaps, be of use to me."

"Transferred!" I exclaimed. "What do you mean by that?"

"What I mean," said the other, "is this: Now that I have started on my
career I have got to be the ghost of somebody; and I want to be the
ghost of a man who is really dead."

"I should think that would be easy enough," I said. "Opportunities
must continually occur."

"Not at all! not at all!" said my companion, quickly. "You have no
idea what a rush and pressure there is for situations of this kind.
Whenever a vacancy occurs, if I may express myself in that way, there
are crowds of applications for the ghostship."

"I had no idea that such a state of things existed," I said, becoming
quite interested in the matter. "There ought to be some regular
system, or order of precedence, by which you could all take your turns
like customers in a barber's shop."

"Oh dear, that would never do at all!" said the other. "Some of us
would have to wait forever. There is always a great rush whenever a
good ghostship offers itself--while, as you know, there are some
positions that no one would care for. And it was in consequence of my
being in too great a hurry on an occasion of the kind that I got
myself into my present disagreeable predicament, and I have thought
that it might be possible that you would help me out of it. You might
know of a case where an opportunity for a ghostship was not generally
expected, but which might present itself at any moment. If you would
give me a short notice, I know I could arrange for a transfer."

"What do you mean?" I exclaimed. "Do you want me to commit suicide? Or
to undertake a murder for your benefit?"

"Oh, no, no, no!" said the other, with a vapory smile. "I mean nothing
of that kind. To be sure, there are lovers who are watched with
considerable interest, such persons having been known, in moments of
depression, to offer very desirable ghostships, but I did not think of
anything of that kind in connection with you. You were the only person
I cared to speak to, and I hoped that you might give me some
information that would be of use; and, in return, I shall be very glad
to help you in your love affair."

"You seem to know that I have such an affair," I said.

"Oh, yes," replied the other, with a little yawn. "I could not be here
so much as I have been without knowing all about that."

There was something horrible in the idea of Madeline and myself having
been watched by a ghost, even, perhaps, when we wandered together in
the most delightful and bosky places. But, then, this was quite an
exceptional ghost, and I could not have the objections to him which
would ordinarily arise in regard to beings of his class.

"I must go now," said the ghost, rising, "but I will see you somewhere
to-morrow night. And remember--you help me, and I'll help you."

I had doubts the next morning as to the propriety of telling Madeline
anything about this interview, and soon convinced myself that I must
keep silent on the subject. If she knew there was a ghost about the
house she would probably leave the place instantly. I did not mention
the matter, and so regulated my demeanor that I am quite sure Madeline
never suspected what had taken place. For some time I had wished that
Mr. Hinckman would absent himself, for a day at least, from the
premises. In such case I thought I might more easily nerve myself up
to the point of speaking to Madeline on the subject of our future
collateral existence, and, now that the opportunity for such speech
had really occurred, I did not feel ready to avail myself of it. What
would become of me if she refused me?

I had an idea, however, that the lady thought that, if I were going to
speak at all, this was the time. She must have known that certain
sentiments were afloat within me, and she was not unreasonable in her
wish to see the matter settled one way or the other. But I did not
feel like taking a bold step in the dark. If she wished me to ask her
to give herself to me, she ought to offer me some reason to suppose
that she would make the gift. If I saw no probability of such
generosity, I would prefer that things should remain as they were.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening I was sitting with Madeline in the moonlit porch. It was
nearly ten o'clock, and ever since supper-time I had been working
myself up to the point of making an avowal of my sentiments. I had not
positively determined to do this, but wished gradually to reach the
proper point when, if the prospect looked bright, I might speak. My
companion appeared to understand the situation--at least, I imagined
that the nearer I came to a proposal the more she seemed to expect it.
It was certainly a very critical and important epoch in my life. If I
spoke, I should make myself happy or miserable forever, and if I did
not speak I had every reason to believe that the lady would not give
me another chance to do so.

Sitting thus with Madeline, talking a little, and thinking very hard
over these momentous matters, I looked up and saw the ghost, not a
dozen feet away from us. He was sitting on the railing of the porch,
one leg thrown up before him, the other dangling down as he leaned
against a post. He was behind Madeline, but almost in front of me, as
I sat facing the lady. It was fortunate that Madeline was looking out
over the landscape, for I must have appeared very much startled. The
ghost had told told me that he would see me some time this night, but
I did not think he would make his appearance when I was in the company
of Madeline. If she should see the spirit of her uncle, I could not
answer for the consequences. I made no exclamation, but the ghost
evidently saw that I was troubled.

"Don't be afraid," he said--"I shall not let her see me; and she
cannot hear me speak unless I address myself to her, which I do not
intend to do."

I suppose I looked grateful.

"So you need not trouble yourself about that," the ghost continued;
"but it seems to me that you are not getting along very well with your
affair. If I were you, I should speak out without waiting any longer.
You will never have a better chance. You are not likely to be
interrupted; and, so far as I can judge, the lady seems disposed to
listen to you favorably; that is, if she ever intends to do so. There
is no knowing when John Hinckman will go away again; certainly not
this summer. If I were in your place, I should never dare to make love
to Hinckman's niece if he were anywhere about the place. If he should
catch any one offering himself to Miss Madeline, he would then be a
terrible man to encounter."

I agreed perfectly to all this.

"I cannot bear to think of him!" I ejaculated aloud.

"Think of whom?" asked Madeline, turning quickly toward me.

Here was an awkward situation. The long speech of the ghost, to which
Madeline paid no attention, but which I heard with perfect
distinctness, had made me forget myself.

It was necessary to explain quickly. Of course, it would not do to
admit that it was of her dear uncle that I was speaking; and so I
mentioned hastily the first name I thought of.

"Mr. Vilars," I said.

This statement was entirely correct, for I never could bear to think
of Mr. Vilars, who was a gentleman who had, at various times, paid
much attention to Madeline.

"It is wrong for you to speak in that way of Mr. Vilars," she said.
"He is a remarkably well-educated and sensible young man, and has very
pleasant manners. He expects to be elected to the legislature this
fall, and I should not be surprised if he made his mark. He will do
well in a legislative body, for whenever Mr. Vilars has anything to
say he knows just how and when to say it."

This was spoken very quietly, and without any show of resentment,
which was all very natural, for if Madeline thought at all favorably
of me she could not feel displeased that I should have disagreeable
emotions in regard to a possible rival. The concluding words contained
a hint which I was not slow to understand. I felt very sure that if
Mr. Vilars were in my present position he would speak quickly enough.

"I know it is wrong to have such ideas about a person," I said, "but I
cannot help it."

The lady did not chide me, and after this she seemed even in a softer
mood. As for me, I felt considerably annoyed, for I had not wished to
admit that any thought of Mr. Vilars had ever occupied my mind.

"You should not speak aloud that way," said the ghost, "or you may get
yourself into trouble. I want to see everything go well with you,
because then you may be disposed to help me, especially if I should
chance to be of any assistance to you, which I hope I shall be."

I longed to tell him that there was no way in which he could help me
so much as by taking his instant departure. To make love to a young
lady with a ghost sitting on the railing near by, and that ghost the
apparition of a much-dreaded uncle, the very idea of whom in such a
position and at such a time made me tremble, was a difficult, if not
an impossible, thing to do; but I forbore to speak, although I may
have looked my mind.

"I suppose," continued the ghost, "that you have not heard anything
that might be of advantage to me. Of course, I am very anxious to
hear, but if you have anything to tell me, I can wait until you are
alone. I will come to you to-night in your room, or I will stay here
until the lady goes away."

"You need not wait here," I said; "I have nothing at all to say to

Madeline sprang to her feet, her face flushed and her eyes ablaze.

"Wait here!" she cried. "What do you suppose I am waiting for? Nothing
to say to me indeed!--I should think so! What should you have to say
to me?"

"Madeline," I exclaimed, stepping toward her, "let me explain."

But she had gone.

Here was the end of the world for me! I turned fiercely to the ghost.

"Wretched existence!" I cried. "You have ruined everything. You have
blackened my whole life. Had it not been for you----"

But here my voice faltered. I could say no more.

"You wrong me," said the ghost. "I have not injured you. I have tried
only to encourage and assist you, and it is your own folly that has
done this mischief. But do not despair. Such mistakes as these can be
explained. Keep up a brave heart. Good-by."

And he vanished from the railing like a bursting soap-bubble.

I went gloomily to bed, but I saw no apparitions that night except
those of despair and misery which my wretched thoughts called up. The
words I had uttered had sounded to Madeline like the basest insult. Of
course, there was only one interpretation she could put upon them.

As to explaining my ejaculations, that was impossible. I thought the
matter over and over again as I lay awake that night, and I determined
that I would never tell Madeline the facts of the case. It would be
better for me to suffer all my life than for her to know that the
ghost of her uncle haunted the house. Mr. Hinckman was away, and if
she knew of his ghost she could not be made to believe that he was not
dead. She might not survive the shock! No, my heart could bleed, but I
would never tell her.

The next day was fine, neither too cool nor too warm; the breezes were
gentle, and nature smiled. But there were no walks or rides with
Madeline. She seemed to be much engaged during the day, and I saw but
little of her. When we met at meals she was polite, but very quiet and
reserved. She had evidently determined on a course of conduct, and had
resolved to assume that, although I had been very rude to her, she did
not understand the import of my words. It would be quite proper, of
course, for her not to know what I meant by my expressions of the
night before.

I was downcast and wretched, and said but little, and the only bright
streak across the black horizon of my woe was the fact that she did
not appear to be happy, although she affected an air of unconcern. The
moonlit porch was deserted that evening, but wandering about the house
I found Madeline in the library alone. She was reading, but I went in
and sat down near her. I felt that, although I could not do so fully,
I must in a measure explain my conduct of the night before. She
listened quietly to a somewhat labored apology I made for the words I
had used.

"I have not the slightest idea what you meant," she said, "but you
were very rude."

I earnestly disclaimed any intention of rudeness, and assured her,
with a warmth of speech that must have made some impression upon her,
that rudeness to her would be an action impossible to me. I said a
great deal upon the subject, and implored her to believe that if it
were not for a certain obstacle I could speak to her so plainly that
she would understand everything.

She was silent for a time, and then she said, rather more kindly, I
thought, than she had spoken before:

"Is that obstacle in any way connected with my uncle?"

"Yes," I answered, after a little hesitation, "it is, in a measure,
connected with him."

She made no answer to this, and sat looking at her book, but not
reading. From the expression of her face, I thought she was somewhat
softened toward me. She knew her uncle as well as I did, and she may
have been thinking that, if he were the obstacle that prevented my
speaking (and there were many ways in which he might be that
obstacle), my position would be such a hard one that it would excuse
some wildness of speech and eccentricity of manner. I saw, too, that
the warmth of my partial explanations had had some effect on her, and
I began to believe that it might be a good thing for me to speak my
mind without delay. No matter how she should receive my proposition,
my relations with her could not be worse than they had been the
previous night and day, and there was something in her face which
encouraged me to hope that she might forget my foolish exclamations
of the evening before if I began to tell her my tale of love.

I drew my chair a little nearer to her, and as I did so the ghost
burst into the room from the doorway behind her. I say burst, although
no door flew open and he made no noise. He was wildly excited, and
waved his arms above his head. The moment I saw him, my heart fell
within me. With the entrance of that impertinent apparition, every
hope fled from me. I could not speak while he was in the room.

I must have turned pale, and I gazed steadfastly at the ghost, almost
without seeing Madeline, who sat between us.

"Do you know," he cried, "that John Hinckman is coming up the hill? He
will be here in fifteen minutes, and if you are doing anything in the
way of love-making, you had better hurry it up. But this is not what I
came to tell you. I have glorious news! At last I am transferred! Not
forty minutes ago a Russian nobleman was murdered by the Nihilists.
Nobody ever thought of him in connection with an immediate ghostship.
My friends instantly applied for the situation for me, and obtained my
transfer. I am off before that horrid Hinckman comes up the hill. The
moment I reach my new position, I shall put off this hated semblance.
Good-by. You can't imagine how glad I am to be, at last, the real
ghost of somebody."

"Oh!" I cried, rising to my feet and stretching out my arms in utter
wretchedness, "I would to heaven you were mine!"

"I _am_ yours," said Madeline, raising to me her tearful eyes.



_Putnam's Magazine, August, 1869._

My brief residence at Rome sufficed to destroy my illusions.

A Frenchman, a student of medicine, I had, nevertheless, remained an
ardent disciple of Catholicism,--the faith in which I had been brought
up by a devout mother. She was an Italian, and from her I had
inherited an intense, passionate nature, and capacity for belief,
which my father's nationality failed to neutralize. From him, on the
other hand, I had received my education, my profession, and a certain
large habit of thought, which, disdaining all lesser interests,
personal or national, occupied itself exclusively with themes of
universal humanity. This habit, extremely characteristic of French
intellect, concurred,--perhaps as much as anything else,--in making me
an ultra-montanist. As an Italian, I believed in the Church with
ardor,--because I believed; as a Frenchman, I demanded a church
universal, as alone worthy of attaching my belief. The cause of the
Pope was for me identified with the spiritual cause of the world, and
the lukewarmness of so-called Liberal Catholics enraged me. I could
understand the opposition of materialists, of atheists, or even
Protestants. These all occupied a radically different base, and their
eyes were turned toward a different horizon. But that a man could face
Truth, and voluntarily scrimp his vision to a miserable corner of her
robe,--could embrace a principle coldly, with the mere touch of a
distant finger,--could pause to balance motives, and haggle over the
price of devotion,--this was as incomprehensible to me as repugnant.
My own sentiments were equally incomprehensible to the society by
which I was surrounded, and the opposition which I constantly
encountered served not a little to rivet my convictions, and fan my
enthusiasm to passion.

My father died almost immediately after launching me on my medical
career,--and my darling mother, two years later. In my unutterable
loneliness, I lost all heart for my studies, and breaking away from
école and hospitals, wandered in Italy, seeking to quench a quenchless
grief. There I married an Italian girl, whose hair and eyes reminded
me of my mother, but who expended on the dream of Italian unity such
enthusiasm as my mother had lavished for the temporal power of the
Pope. I think I was unconsciously attracted by this very difference.
Valeria's opposition to the Pope was so serious and whole-souled, that
it seemed to invest his cause with new dignity, and in argument with
her I acquired increased respect for my own theories and for myself as
capable of sustaining them. Moreover, at the very moment that our
intellects were most at variance, we were each conscious of a subtle
sympathy of nature; we were animated by the same feeling, though
working in different directions. Her antagonism, therefore, never
irritated me, but,--when the more profound union had once been
established,--fascinated me by a peculiar charm, and led me, by a
healthful transition, back to the ruder antagonisms of practical life.
For, deprived of the support of my mother's lofty confidence, and in
the weakness following excessive sorrow, I had begun to secretly
despair of an ideal, which seemed buried in her all-devouring grave.
At the same time I clung to it the more intensely, precisely because
it seemed unattainable,--from a sort of morbid craving for whatever
had become as unattainable as my mother's presence. I loathed action,
even for the realization of my dreams, and over-concentrated thought
threatened to degenerate into a sickly reverie that should presently
exhaust the forces of my life, like an unnaturally prolonged sleep.
New influence added in this direction might have driven me insane,
while the diversion afforded by Valeria's counter-enthusiasm and the
necessity of making an active defence of my own, roused me, and
brought back the blood to the surface of my life. It was, therefore,
partly an instinct of self-preservation which led me to Valeria,--and
she saved me--my noble wife saved me for other destinies.

We returned to Paris, where I resumed and completed my medical
studies, and I had just graduated when the war broke out in Italy.

Four happy, healthful years had completely restored my mental
equilibrium. I was no longer an extravagant fanatic, prepared for a
cloister or a crusade, but still a tolerably ardent ultra-montanist,
pivoted upon the theory of the temporal power of the Pope. Valeria's
influence, in modifying the superficial exuberance of my enthusiasm,
had only rendered its energy more practical, more eager for an
opportunity to incarnate its ideal in vigorous facts. Now the
opportunity had arrived, and the enthusiasm blazed forth afresh; all
interests, all consciousness of other ties were absorbed in devotion
to the Church of which I felt myself a not unimportant member. My
fortune, my time, my life, were all too little to place at its
disposal, and I hastened to enrol myself on the medical staff of a
regiment of Papal Zouaves. Valeria, who had always reasoned against my
theories, was too consistent herself to oppose me in putting them into
practice, but she insisted on accompanying me to Italy. We parted at
Civita Vecchia, I to go to Rome, she, with our two children, to
Naples, where her family had formerly resided. She wrote to me every
day, but after several weeks came a blank of three days without a
letter. At the same moment arrived the news that the cholera was
raging at Naples--news which rendered most ominous this sudden
interruption of the correspondence. I obtained leave of absence and
hurried south, to learn that my wife and babies were dead--fallen
among the very first victims of the pestilence.

Stunned and heart-sick, I returned to Rome, anxious to devote myself
to the cause with the more desperate earnestness that it was the only
living interest left to me in the world. I arrived just before the
battle of Montana, and regretted that fortune had not assigned me a
rôle among the soldiers of the cross, among those who might embrace a
welcome death, in exchange for the glory of serving the Church.
Resolved to approach this honor as nearly as possible, I contrived to
obtain an appointment in the ambulance corps, and accompanied the
troops to the field. I have no distinct recollection of that day,--the
third after Valeria's funeral,--and which, as my first experience of a
battle, assumed to me the magnificent proportions of an Austerlitz or
Waterloo. I only know that, intoxicated by the novel excitement of the
scene, perhaps by the mere smell of the gun-powder, I forgot the
duties to which I was assigned, snatched a musket from a Zouave who
had just expired at my feet, and rushed into the heart of the
conflict. I received a slight wound in the forehead, staggered, fell,
and fainted away. I suppose I must, at the same time, have received
the shock from a larger ball than that which grazed my temple, and
experienced some concussion of the brain, for I did not fully recover
consciousness until I had been transported to the military hospital.

Here I stayed a week, and came, for the first time, into near contact
with my fellow-defenders of the faith. The contact, instead of
warming, chilled me inexplicably. Instead of belief, I discovered
scepticism; instead of enthusiasm, persiflage and eternal quizzing,
intolerable in professed martyrs to a sacred cause.

"Que voulez-vous?" they said, shrugging their shoulders at my
indignant remonstrances. "The ass who carries all his panniers on the
same side stumbles on his own nose. To each man his business; those
who believe, don't fight; and we who fight cannot be expected to

I was surprised to find that my own loyalty became affected by this
indifference, much more than by any influence to which I had hitherto
been submitted. Others had sneered because they did not know; but
these men precisely because they knew too well. The cause which
depended so exclusively upon their bravado was belittled in their own
eyes, and presently in mine also. I felt somewhat ashamed of the drops
of blood I had lavished so heroically at Montana, and when the
gazettes began to flourish the fame of the victory, repeat the dying
speeches of fallen braves, and enrol rascally Zouaves on saintly
calendars, I could have blushed in the dark--everywhere a little
martyrdom, a little battle, and innumerable little apotheoses. I began
to doubt the greatness of the cause made up of such infinitesimals. It
is easy to serve ideas in which we have ceased to heartily believe,
but it is impossible to fight for those that have become to us
the least in the world ridiculous. Perhaps Valeria's death had
unconsciously disheartened me for an enterprise which had been,
however remotely, its occasion. Perhaps many of her words, whose force
I had successfully resisted during her lifetime, now re echoed from
her grave with more profound significance. But it is certain that, for
the first time, I wavered in affection for my life-long ideal. Alarmed
at myself, and determined, if possible, to reinvigorate my failing
faith, I went back to Rome, trusting that the Holy City would inspire
me afresh. Appointed to a civil office of considerable importance, I
was soon introduced into the midst of the Papal Court, and behind the
scenes of the magnificent theatrical display that had so long dazzled
my imagination. I was initiated into the shameful mysteries of cabal
and intrigue, and taught the precious secrets of Pope and Cardinals.
On every side I saw falsehood, treachery, and duplicity welcomed as
the ablest servitors of truth, the grandest professions assumed as an
excuse for the most vulgar villainy, ambition glozed over by degrading
humility, and sensuality all the more disgusting from the saintly
robes in which it was paraded and but half concealed. My faith,
already enfeebled, died of rapid decline, stifled by these monstrous
fooleries. Disenchanted, revolted, disgusted, I resigned my position,
and abandoned the Pope and his cause forever.

I did not, therefore, enlist under Garibaldi. A tenacious loyalty to
the memory of ideas I had once served would always prevent me from
more actively attacking them, or from desecrating their graves.
Moreover, the revulsion of feeling consequent upon my disillusion was
so tremendous, that I was swept entirely out of the region of the
questions at issue, and both sides became indifferent to me, both
camps dim and shadowy in the distance.

I returned, therefore, to France, and settled down in a remote corner
of the provinces, to exercise my profession as a country physician.
After the accumulated anguish of the last few months, the quiet
dulness of the place was infinitely grateful to me. I was like a
bruised swimmer, tossed upon a monotonous sandbank, who only asks to
be left there in peace, until long repose has rested the aching limbs,
and blunted the harrowing recollections of the shipwreck. The
incessant excitement of Paris was intolerable to me, and scarcely less
so the idea of revisiting its troops of sympathetic friends. They
would proffer venal consolation for the loss of my wife and children;
they would congratulate me maliciously on my conversion from
ultra-montanism. I shrank from their curious eyes and voluble
tongues, as a wounded man from the glittering apparatus of the
surgeon, and like him turned over my face to the wall, to sleep.

Two years thus passed away--two years of mornings and evenings,
following one another in calm succession, like a row of stolid peasant
gleaners going to the fields. I became inexpressibly soothed by their
calm, and by the nice tact and exquisite courtesy of Nature, with whom
I had done well to take refuge. She is never astonished, she asks no
impertinent questions, but welcomes her guests with even suavity, like
a liberal host, throwing open to them drawing-room or garret, as may
best please their fancy. The growing trees had no time to turn round
to look at me; the contended hills embraced me in their arms, and let
me pass without a word; the grain ripened in the mellow autumn days,
unheeding the little shadow that I threw across its sunshine. This
preoccupied indifference of all living things, which would initiate a
mere vexation, clamorous for sympathy, is like blessed balm to the
sufferer from a profound grief or mortification. Counsel is good,
friendliness precious, while anything remains to be done to avert an
impending calamity. But pitying words over an accomplished and
irremediable misfortune, serve only to revive useless pain, and
blunder, like a man who should try to force open the eyelids of a
corpse. Nature, wiser than officious human tenderness, takes the
sorrow coolly, as a matter of course, and in silence buries it out of
sight among a million others, already thickly strewn with withered
leaves. And, in presence of her imperturbable serenity during the
blackest days of frost and winter, the sufferer becomes insensibly
inspired with her unspoken confidence in the final return of spring.
The people of the village and the farms, rooted as their own beeches,
reflected back upon Nature the same immovable calm. They did not
disturb themselves about me, because my rôle in society was so
evident, respectable, and satisfactory, that I offered no foothold for
either curiosity or scandal. I had been sent by Providence and the
Faculty of Medicine to cure their not too frequent rheumatisms and
catarrhs; I acquitted myself not ill of my business,--they asked no
more,--and neither offered nor expected personal interest or

As the months rolled on, I became more interested than formerly in
medical reading. Absorbed entirely in my books, I even fancied that
the healing apathy which sheltered my life was growing more profound.
This was a mistake; the thickening of the vapors that shut out the
external world, really denoted that they were about to condense and
precipitate themselves into a new creation. New interests were
preparing, that should presently claim from my nature all the energy,
enthusiasm, and passion which had once been devoted to the old. Of
this I became aware in the following manner. One day, among a package
of books sent to me from Paris, arrived a pamphlet just written in
defence of a new theory concerning the movements of the human heart.
My curiosity was excited by the idea of a new theory on such a famous
subject, and my interest was by no means abated after perusal of the
pamphlet. Exposition of this theory would demand a crowd of technical
details, unintelligible to the general reader, and therefore
inappropriate in this place. But let such an one take the trouble
to listen for a moment to the ticking of a heart, seemingly so
monotonous, simple, and easy to understand, and then reflect that the
slight elements discoverable in this little sound, have been forced
by human intellect into at least twenty different combinations, and
afforded ground for as many theories, each defended with impassioned
earnestness by a different observer. He may then realize something of
the interest which attaches to the explanation of this phenomenon--may
even experience a sort of mental vertigo, as if he had witnessed the
evolution of a world out of nothing. Owing to the paucity of the facts
to be observed, the finesse requisite for the observation, and the
intellectual dexterity needed to retain such minute circumstances
before the mind long enough to think about them, the problem is one of
the most delicate and intricate offered by physiological science. Once
engaged in its discussion, the mind becomes hopelessly fascinated, and
continues to pirouette about an invisible point, that is neither a
thought nor a material phenomenon, but, as it were, a refined essence
of both.

As in all series of vital actions, each item of the phenomenon in
question is so interlinked with the rest, that an explanation of a
part can never be considered final, so long as any problem remains
unresolved. The latest experimentator, brooding over hitherto
neglected details, may always hope to light upon some clue that shall
unravel the entire entanglement in a different manner, and reform upon
a new basis ideas now grouped in pretended fixity. The excitement
caused by this possibility is amply sufficient to stimulate research.
And there is no need to discover an immediate practical application
for the theory in order to bait the interest of vulgar minds. These
would always be incapable of such difficult investigations, while
really competent students were supremely indifferent to all lesser
advantages attached to the discovery of truth. As for me, I had been
so long removed from active life and its necessities (for my
professional career had as yet been too facile and commonplace to
arouse me to them), that the impractical character of the subject
constituted for me an additional charm. I recognized that it belonged,
for the present at least, to the region of pure thought, pure science,
accessible only to intelligences refined by nature, and enriched by
superior culture. In addition, therefore, to the intrinsic interest
of the problem, and the solid satisfaction arising from acute
intellectual activity, I could, in pursuit of this theme, experience
all the subtle pleasure derived from a consciousness of personal
superiority--pleasure as attainable in solitude as elsewhere since the
superiority was too real and unquestionable to require the
confirmatory suffrage of the crowd.

I abandoned all other studies, and threw myself impetuously into the
current of these newly-received ideas. I ransacked my library, from
Herophilus to Haller, from Galen to Helmholtz. England, Germany,
Italy, France yielded up their tribute to my excited curiosity. And
the theme, shifted, refracted from intellect to intellect, multiplied
itself to bewildering complexity.

Not content with reading, I performed experiments, repeating those of
my predecessors, and inventing new to control their conclusions. "With
my own hands I stirred the soil, fetid and palpitating with life," and
in this inmost intimacy with Nature felt myself grow strong, as Antæus
by contact with the mother earth. Thus roused from my long torpor into
the most intense activity,--for all activity is slack in comparison
with that of thought,--I became dissatisfied with the facility of my
present surroundings. I was anxious to pit myself against the world of
Paris. I wanted opposition, contradiction, in order to vanquish them,
and absorb their force into the glory of my triumph. Moreover, my
studies had now reached a point where they required the assistance
that could only be obtained in a great city: in a word, I resolved to
return to the capital, for a longer or shorter time, as the sequel
should prove desirable. My means rendered me independent of my
_clientèle_, and I left my patients without regret to the care of
an easily procured substitute. It is so rare to alight upon an
interesting case in the country! Nothing but rheumatism and measles,
measles and rheumatism, and never an autopsy,--it is as monotonous as
the treatment of fever and ague. I longed for the vast metropolitan
hospitals, containing specimens of every shade of disease, and
affording unlimited opportunities for auscultation. Of these I
stood especially in need, for the train of thought suggested by
physiological experiment must be completed by pathological researches,
which could only be carried on at Paris.

To Paris, therefore, I came, as to a new world, so completely had I
been separated from it during the two last years. It was as if one of
the spirits in the metempsychosis imagined by Fourier, had returned to
the brilliant sphere from which death had driven him in temporary
exile. I was at first enchanted, intoxicated. The mental activity
which had seemed so intense in the sluggish province, needed to be
quickened fourfold to keep abreast of the intellects with which I
entered into relation, and the consciousness of the quickening
affected me as with new wine. But, as I grew accustomed to my new
medium, I became again subtly dissatisfied. It was not enough to be
abreast of the world, I wanted to be a little ahead. In my solitude
it was easy to cherish illusions concerning the value of my own work,
to picture myself as a mighty and triumphant wrestler with Nature,
capable, by his single strength, of forcing her reluctant secrets, to
reveal them afterwards to an admiring world. But at Paris, with its
enormous condensation of intellectual force, I could not flatter
myself on the solitary greatness of my achievements, nor ignore the
collective action of society. Whatever my attainment, I should be
forced to share its fame with a hundred other workers, who had
lent me, unasked, their aid. The distance between the person who
uttered the last word, and him who said the next to the last, was
infinitesimal, and this close proximity annoyed me. I longed for some
brilliant occasion to surpass all my contemporaries in one great
bound; an opportunity to bestow on science and humanity some unique
benefit that could never be compared with those accumulated by
lesser men. One day, revolving many things in my mind, I entered the
Bibliothèque Impériale. Strolling idly past the grated bookcases, my
attention was attracted by the title of a thin folio, wedged in
between Lavater and Geoffroy St. Hilaire. An inexplicable impulse led
me to demand this book, the "History of Vesalius and his Times." I had
no particular reason, that I knew of, to be interested in Vesalius; I
merely followed an idle whim, suggested rather by the peculiar shape
and position of the folio, than by any solid reason; and this whim
did not hurry me out of my lounging mood. I settled myself in one of
the windows, and leisurely turned over the leaves of my book, reading
a line here and a phrase there, until I alighted and settled upon the
following passage: "So the rumor spread abroad that Vesalius had
opened the chest of a living man to see his heart beat. And upon that
the people were in a fury and the court hissed with rage, and Vesalius
was obliged to flee from Spain before the power of the Inquisition;
and some say that he then made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But on
his return he was shipwrecked on a desolate island and perished
miserably. Hubert, in his _Vindiciæ contra tyrannus_ reports this
history to the eternal shame of the Jesuits."

The world often describes with minuteness the material framework of
such noisy events as have impressed its coarse sensibilities. But it
commonly neglects, because ignoring, the scenes wherein have taken
place the crises of thought, or occurred the birth of new, indomitable
ideas. To the thinker, however, such outer scenes remain inextricably
associated with the thought that has sprung to life in their midst. To
this day I preserve a vivid recollection of every item of the place
where I read the story of Vesalius; the lofty reading-room, with its
confused lining of many-colored books, the tables crowded by eager
students, the broad, deep windows through which the sun streamed, and
from which I, sitting with open folio on my lap, watched the shifting
fountain and the swaying trees and the long, untrimmed grass in the
courtyard below. For the story seemed to have laid hold of my inmost
soul, and touched the spring of a long-hidden desire. Why I was so
moved, I could not tell. What issue would open to this whirlpool of
vague excitement in which I had fallen, I had no idea. But I was
profoundly conscious both of the excitement and the emotion, and, with
that refined epicureanism of which intellectual people alone are
capable, I abandoned myself, for a time, to the subtle luxury of their

My reverie was interrupted by the clanging of the great clock and the
scarcely less harsh voice of the _gardien_ as he announced the hour
for closing the library. Still wrapped in fantastic meditation, I
descended the stairs to the street, and followed the rue Richelieu to
the boulevard, there to mingle with the human stream that endlessly
encircled the city like a new army of Gideon. Drifting in the current,
I reached the Bastile, crossed the Pont d'Austerlitz, gained the
Boulevard de l'Hôpital and continued walking to the Invalides, to the
Avenues Jena and Wagram, and from the Place des Ternes, all along the
exterior rampart. And as I walked, my entangled thoughts gradually
disengaged themselves into clearness and precision.

The biographer of Vesalius, who evidently shared the prejudices of the
people, had exerted himself strenuously to disprove the calumny
attached to the name of the great anatomist. He, like the rest, was
blinded by that vulgar egotism which clamorously prefers the
interests of individuals to those of society,--egotism no less
short-sighted than vulgar, for the large and abstract interests cared
for by science are precisely those which shall ultimately affect the
greatest number of individuals; and no less inconsequent than
short-sighted, since no one hesitates to ruin entire hosts of
individuals upon the faintest chance of promoting the material
interests of society. A stock company may immolate hundreds during the
construction of a Panama railroad--a sovereign sacrifice thousands in
the contest for a Crimean peninsula; the hue and cry only begins when
the savant modestly begs permission to utilize a single life for the
advancement of science. He is execrated as a monster, and burned alive
in expiation of his crime. Absurd inconsistency, trivial superstition!
from which it is time that at least the scientific world were
emancipated. Long enough has the ignorant rabble exercised brute
tyranny over intellects towering above its comprehension. The time
for concession is past, the moment has arrived for the savant to
assume the sway that rightfully devolves upon him and declare the
confiscation of all claims to the supreme interest of the search after

For my part, therefore, so far from blaming Vesalius because he had
dissected a living man, I should have accorded him most profound
reverence for this proof of elevation above ordinary prejudice. And
the more I thought over the matter, the more I became convinced that
the accusation was well founded, that the deed had really been
performed, which moral cowardice alone induced the glorious criminal
to disavow.

My brooding fancy, satiated with the image of the great anatomist,
began to occupy itself with his so-called victim. Who was he? what
motive had induced him to surrender his body to the scalpel of the
master, his life to the realization of the master's idea? A slave, a
debtor, from whom the ingenious savant had thus exacted a pound of
flesh? A trembling poltroon, forced to the sacrifice more reluctantly
than Isaac to the altar? I preferred rather to believe that it was a
favorite pupil, burning with enthusiasm for the master, joyful to
participate in his mighty labors at the cheap expense of his own
lesser life. Had Vesalius been a general, and he an aide-de-camp
before a rampart, all the world would have applauded him, rushing upon
death at the word of command. I myself had known, by a brief
experience, the thrilling impulse to fight, to die, in behalf of a
cause. Rivers of blood had been shed for honor, for loyalty, for
patriotism. Was the desire for truth less ardent than these worn-out
passions! Could it not rather supply their place in the new world
about to be created by science? What could produce a greater
impression upon the entire world, and more forcibly announce the
inauguration of a new era, than the voice of a man who should declare,
"I refuse to draw my sword for the hideous folly of war; to surrender
my life at the absurd caprice of princes; but I offer myself
cheerfully, unreservedly, as the instrument of Science, in her
majestic schemes for the discovery of truth!"

My recent studies on the problem of the heart's movements brought me
into peculiar sympathy with the object of Vesalius' researches. The
tantalizing results as often obtained by experiments on lower animals,
the uncertainty of the inferences that could be deduced from them to
form a theory of the human organism, had often excited in me a lively
desire for a direct experiment upon man. This desire had hitherto been
smothered beneath the mass of conventional ideas, which so frequently
overwhelm our timidity and enslave our feebleness in endless routine.
But the daring word of genius had now struck the chains from my
intellect, and emancipated me from the slavery of that hesitation.
I--I would follow in the path already traced by that bolder mind; I
would redeem that calumniated memory from disgrace, and enrich its
glory by the surpassing realization of the original conception. _I_
would inaugurate the new era; I would set the example of supreme
heroism in science; and all the world, and all future ages, should
preserve my name with reverent homage, and enwreath it with laurels
of undying fame. For, that the purity of my motives might be above
suspicion, I would perform the experiment, not as Vesalius in the
capacity of anatomist, but as the victim, voluntarily devoting himself
to the transcendent interests of an ideal cause.

And as my mind leaped up into this grand thought, I felt cheek and
brow flush with violent emotion. Carried along by the first impetus of
the idea, I walked as rapidly as in a dream, unseeing, unhearing every
thing that surrounded me. Before I knew whither I had come, I felt a
cool wind blow over me, as if after a feverish journey on a heated
road, I had suddenly stepped into a cool, dark cavern. And, looking
out from the brilliant visions in which I was plunged, I found myself
already entered within the gates of Père la Chaise--the city of the
dead, of the vast majority to which I was to go over in fulfilment of
my great idea. I wandered among the graves, and read the epitaphs, the
reiterated dreary expressions of disappointment and despair, that the
deceased had been passively torn from a world to which every fibre of
their hearts was clinging. Not so would read _my_ epitaph, and I
began to compose it, less as a witty amusement than as a device for
resisting an insidious chill that had begun to creep over me like a
damp exhalation from the graves. For my imagination suddenly pictured
to itself the heavy tombstone pressing down, down forever, on the
cruel coffin-lid beneath which I should be lying. I shuddered at the
picture, I shuddered at death, and, leaning on an iron rail which girt
in a tomb, hid my face in my arms to shut out the signs of decay and
the more ghastly emblems of immortality with which the populous
_cimetière_ was crowded.

Raising my head after a brief struggle, I perceived that I was
standing in front of the famous tomb of Abelard and Heloise. The
sculptured forms of the unhappy lovers reposed side by side on the lid
of the stone mausoleum, as they had lain for six centuries, and
immortalized the mingling of their mortal dust below. Tears sprang to
my eyes as I looked at their still, peaceful faces, for I remembered
my dead wife, and then, my lost children. Death, that contained them
in its hollow caverns, could not be frightful to me. It was rather the
treasure-house of all I possessed most precious, and which I should
now hasten to reclaim. All the loneliness and longing which had been
dulled by habit, and lately covered over by mental activity, awoke,
and cried out passionately within me, repelling the slight pleasures
of this world, as a child crying for its mother dashes aside an
offered toy. What was left to me in life that I should cling to it?
What ties bound me to this perfidious, slippery earth? To whom owed I
any duties? Whose pillow would moisten with tears because I had passed
out of sight? Destitute of personal interests, I could only devote
myself to those of humanity, and that by some method that should
concentrate in a single moment both the achievement and its reward.
For small were the enjoyment to survive for fame, with whose report I
could return laden to no fireside, for whose sake I could watch no
eyes brighten in sweet pride of sympathy. I should sicken of it in
half an hour, and my hard-earned laurels would become as dusty and
lifeless as those ghastly wreaths of immortelles hanging around
Heloise's tomb. So desolated love joined itself to restless ambition
and ideal enthusiasm, to concentrate my life for the purpose from
which, since then, it has never swerved.

Thus resolved upon self-devotion, I set about the task of finding a
colleague to share the risks and glory of my enterprise. I did not
conceal from myself that upon him would devolve a rôle far more
difficult and complicated than my own. From me, the subject of the
proposed experiment, was only required sublime heroism for the
sacrifice. But the man who should perform the operation must possess
moral courage to face public criticism, perhaps opprobrium; a trained
intellect, already habituated to discussion of the problem in
question, and impassioned for its solution; great practical skill and
finesse, able to appreciate and profit by every detail of the
phenomena that would unroll themselves before his observation; iron
nerve, that should remain unmoved by any startling peculiarities of
the case in hand.

The necessity for uniting so many characteristics, compelled me to
abandon my first hope of forming a committee for the experiment; for
as soon as I began to sound physiologists on the subject, I landed
knee-deep in a mass of invincible prejudices and prepossessions. The
scheme was too new, too daring for the capacity of the mediocrities
which constitute the bulk of even the scientific world. I must
discover some exceptional solitary enthusiast like myself, able to
appreciate and embrace with joy the grand opportunity I offered him.
To the search for this enthusiast, therefore, I bent all my energies,
and knocked at many doors, wherever, through the windows, I believed
to have detected on the hearth the upleaping of an inner flame.

It was astonishing how often I knocked in vain! How often my
insinuations, my suggestions, my direct propositions were repulsed! I
appealed to a professor who had concentrated the best years of his
life to the problem I proposed to solve,--he pooh-poohed my scheme. In
vain I tried to explain my methods for overcoming its practical
difficulties; he decried them all, I am convinced, from pure jealousy.

"And you ought to know by this time," he added with a scarcely
disguised sneer, "that a single experiment on a human subject would be
of little value until its results were controlled by a dozen others.
And I doubt that your enthusiasm would prove sufficiently contagious
to furnish the supply for the dissecting table." And he obstinately
shut his ears to any further argument.

I disclosed my plan to a struggling physician, ready for any adventure
that should thrust him into notoriety, bring his name before the
public, and thus open the way to a prosperous _clientèle_. Yet he
recoiled from a project fraught with promise so sure and magnificent
as mine. A hospital _interne_, flushed with enthusiasm for his first
practical studies, started with horror when I divulged my ideas.
Many, true Parisian _railleurs_, regarded my proposition as an
excellent joke.

"Allons donc, c'est une vieille blague que tu nous fais là."

And all my protestations served only to increase their amusement, and
their determination not to be taken in.

A few eyed me suspiciously, as if they imagined I were insane, and one
old bourgeois doctor had the impertinence to administer to me a moral

"Young man," he said, "you are possessed by the same preposterous
vanity which induced Empedocles to throw himself into Vesuvius, and
Erostratus to fire the temple of Diana. I recommend a course of dry
cupping to the nape of the neck, to relieve your congested and
over-excited brain, and, in the mean time, a decent seclusion from
society, that you insult with your absurdities."

I flushed red with anger, but this last rebuff warned me that I must
change my tactics. Like all reformers, I found the world too stiff and
rigid for my purposes, and only harmed myself with kicking against the
bristling pricks. I must turn to a new generation, to early youth, and
find some mind still unformed and flexible, that I could myself submit
to a far-sighted training, and cast into the mould of my own ideas.
The opportunities of which my contemporaries were unworthy, I would
reserve as a gracious boon for a well-initiated pupil.

Two years had elapsed since my arrival at Paris, and the untiring
energy with which I pursued physiological researches had begun to
bring my name into notice. When, therefore, I proposed to open a
course of lectures upon experimental physiology, my friends all
encouraged me with flattering assurances.

"A la bonne heure," exclaimed the student to whom had I once addressed
my secret plans, "something sensible at last. I trust such rational
occupation will purge your head of its maggots, and satisfy your
aspirations for fame--"

I smiled stealthily to myself. It is thus that the light world always
measures the austerity of our resolutions by its own lightness!

I obtained the requisite official permission, and opened the course at
the École Pratique under the best auspices. The lectures were thronged
from the beginning, and the interest by no means abated as the weeks
rolled on. Enthusiastic myself, I possessed in no small degree the
gift of communicating (on all ordinary subjects) my enthusiasm to
others. I aimed less at imparting solid instruction to my pupils than
at impressing their imagination by a series of skilfully arranged
effects. My experiments, therefore, were governed by dramatic unity,
rarely sought in the confused and arid expositions of official
professors. Now I led my auditors into the inmost laboratories of
Nature, and revealed, in plant and animal, the fine affinities that
regulated her processes of nutrition. Now I traced some delicate
nervous filament from the spinal column of the amphioxus to the
cerebral hemisphere of the mammifer. Now I disclosed the ramifying
canals in the vast system of circulation, mounting from the spongy
network of the mollusk and the sluggish lymphatic of the reptile to
the brilliant, bounding arteries of the double-hearted vertebrates.
And always, beyond the last disclosure, after the most complete
revelation, I hinted at something yet to come, some higher, unveiled
mystery, to which all this grand series was but the prelude. As a
priest who volubly initiates the neophytes into the service of the
temple, but points in silence to the inner court containing the Deity
for whom the service is performed, so I, after the most magnificent
display of animal life, silently indicated a concealed hereafter, a
culmination in the human body, hitherto withheld from our curious
gaze. I thus strove to suggest an ideal, left for a time incomplete;
to foster an impetuous impatience, that, stimulated by the great
acquisitions of the past, should reach forward irresistibly for the
greater prize of the future. I trusted that among all my auditors
would be found one that should divine the cipher, and quicken over its
subtle secret--one intellect, that, carried unconsciously along the
current of my thought, should finally arrive at my unrevealed goal.

Among the most constant attendants on the lectures, I had long noticed
one young man of about twenty-two years old, who always occupied the
same seat close to my operating-table. He was thin, shabbily dressed,
with full, intense forehead, ravenous face, and brilliant eyes. His
poverty was indicated not only by his toilette, and that special form
of unfed expression peculiar to the studious hungry, but also by his
absence from all the private classes, and redoubled assiduity at the
public lectures. His intelligence was evident from the absorbed
attention with which he followed the experiments, and from his manner
of taking notes,--not at random, like most of the students, but at
well-chosen points perceptible only to a person already in possession
of a commanding view of the whole subject. By a little stratagem, I
contrived one day to get hold of his note-book, and was surprised at
the accurate observations, the acute suggestions, and range of
information indicated by the marginal queries. Those who have ever
experienced the delight of discovering an intellect--discovery more
precious than that of a gold mine--can appreciate the eagerness with
which I devoured these pages, finding everywhere the stamp of the mind
I sought. And my satisfaction was redoubled by reflecting how greatly
the youth and poverty of the writer might increase my facilities for
obtaining complete possession of him. I was not long in devising a
scheme for forcing the intimacy of the young man, who, like most poor
students, was evidently as shy and proud as he was poor.

One day, at the close of the lecture, I touched my student on the arm.

"Be kind enough to wait a moment," I said, "I have something to say to

The boy flushed and drew back a little with all the haughtiness of a
sensitive person ill at ease with the world, and expecting from it
nothing but rebuffs and insolence. I fancied that an anxious suspicion
crossed his mind that I was about to lay claim to some payment for
lessons, of which he had hitherto ignored the necessity. I waited till
the greater part of the crowd had squeezed through the narrow door of
the amphitheatre, dismissed the loiterers, and then turned to my
companion with a frank air of relief, as to an equal with whom I could
refresh myself after the fatigue of teaching lesser minds. I saw that
I had already won his heart, before I began to speak.

"I find that I require another assistant," I said. "The man that I
have at present, is, as you know, a mere machine. I need some one
interested, enthusiastic, capable of seconding me intelligently. I
want, in short, a pupil. Will you fill the place?"

Surprised, overwhelmed with an honor which he could so keenly
appreciate, the young man flushed again, hesitated, stammered, and
finally only succeeded in answering me with his beautiful eyes, for
his tongue refused to speak. I already loved the boy; alas! how he has
repaid my love!

"It will be a mutual exchange of service," I continued. "You will be
of great use to me in my preparations, and, in return, I may be able
to initiate you into the mysteries of our art, somewhat more
thoroughly than can be done in a public lecture."

"I thank you, sir," said Guy. He tried to speak coldly, but he looked
as if he longed to throw himself at my feet and cover my hand with
kisses. To relieve his emotion, in which I secretly exulted, I patted
him friendlily on the shoulder, and began immediately to discuss the
programme for the following lecture.

I had every reason to congratulate myself on my new assistant. His
zeal and ingenuity not only seconded my researches, but often
supplemented them when over-fatigue persuaded me to repose. And Guy's
personal character proved as winning as his intellect keen and
reliable. Before long I contrived that he should come and live with
me, and I invented for him some light literary employment, by which he
could pay me for his board and lodging, with an insignificant
sacrifice of his time. He acceded to this arrangement upon its
apparent terms, but none the less did he pierce its transparent
motive, and tacitly devote to me his whole soul in acknowledgment of
what he considered my delicate generosity. These unfledged souls are
apt to throw themselves thus away in exchange for the most trifling
pecuniary service, and torment themselves, moreover, that the
compensation is so mean. I smiled at Guy's naïveté, but none the less
turned it to account. From the foothold thus gained, I rapidly
extended my influence over his entire nature. My larger experience
enabled me to complete his unfinished thoughts, to sympathize with
his scarcely conscious feelings, to subtly impress his principles and
co-ordinate them to my own scheme. Having begun by forestalling his
material necessities, I continued to supply the finer wants of heart
and intellect so completely, that he became habituated to turn to me
for everything, and to receive everything that came from me with
implicit faith. I fed him, taught him, loved him, and all with such
artfulness, that he felt my presence in his life only as a plant feels
the sunshine in its calyx, conscious of no intrusion to be resented,
or tyranny to be repelled. It is so easy to make the conquest of a
young, ingenuous nature! so easy to fix its impetuous, unsuspecting
enthusiasm! I marvel that these exquisite relations between master and
pupil are so generally left uncultivated, or their charm wasted. I
almost marvel that I did not rest completely satisfied with my life at
that time; with its arduous study, and its growing fame, and Guy, with
the delicious task of educating his supple intellect to my ideas, and
penetrating his nature with my personality. Only the loftiness of my
ideal saved it from making womanish shipwreck on this episode in its
austere voyage towards the realization.

As Guy became more and more competent, I delegated more and more into
his hands the preparation for the lectures. The first excitement of
getting them into train was past, the first keen interest dulled by
habit; and when the second winter began, with repetition of all that
had gone before, I went through the business almost mechanically.
Often I left everything to my assistant, and shut myself up alone to
dream over the project that secretly absorbed my soul. Guy fancied I
was ill, and, as my exertions slackened, redoubled his own, consuming
heart and brain in the resolve to maintain the course at the level of
its original popularity. I was inwardly amused at his devotion to such
secondary considerations, but did not interfere, for it helped to
serve my purpose.

Finally, I believed my pupil to be fully prepared, and decided that
the moment had come for the complete revelation of myself.

One evening,--I selected the evening advisedly, since at that time the
imagination is more susceptible of impressions, and further removed
from the vulgar influences of every-day life,--I entered our study.
Guy was seated at a table, and working in his usual intense fashion,
and I threw myself on a sofa beside him.

"Guy," I exclaimed, "it tires me to look at you. For eight hours you
have not stirred from those books. You will kill yourself."

"Great loss," he answered, "so that it were in your service, and
during the pursuit of knowledge."

"You love me then, Guy?"

"Love you!" He rose from the table, and coming to the sofa, kneeled
and kissed my forehead, without shame, as in France men _can_ kiss
each other.

"My master, my friend!" he said; and I felt that he was mine, bound to
me by a love passing the love of women. I drew him before me, and ran
my fingers through his clustering hair. His affection was pleasant to
me, independent of the use I meant to make of it; and I almost
experienced a feminine desire to trifle with it for a moment, as one
shifts a diamond from one hand to the other to watch its changing

"How much do you love me? as the children say. What would you do for

"I would die for you!" he answered vehemently.

That is the first thing youth ever thinks of. From very fulness of
life, it can afford to be on familiar terms with death.

"Tut; that is unnecessary. But would you do anything I asked of you as
a personal favor?"

"Only try me. I would go to the ends of the earth for you."

"_Tenez!_ suppose I was dying King Arthur and you my squire. Would you
hesitate to fling away Excalibur at my command?"

"The paltry bauble! What thought could I have to waste upon it while
you were dying?"

"But suppose this obedience did not suffice to release me. Suppose
that, in my agony, I prayed you to drive your own sword into my heart
to set me free. Would you do it?"

He hesitated a moment. "That would be a terrible prayer; yet if you
were suffering, and I knew that you must die, I would do even that for

"You have said it," I cried, and leaped to my feet in uncontrollable
excitement. "I have a request to make you, I have a prayer that you
only can fulfil. Swear that you will grant it--swear by all your love
for me, by all the gratitude which you profess, and for which I shall
never claim other return--swear that you will do what I am about to
bid you!"

I saw that Guy was disquieted by my words and manner. Instead of
replying with the bold confidence I had a right to expect, he recoiled
from the revelation that pressed urgently on my lips.

"Take care," he said, "your eyes are glittering as if you had a fever.
Let us stop talking about this till to-morrow."

The upstart boy, thus to dare to patronize me with his foresight and
protection--_me_, who had taught him all he knew, and who was about to
offer him a place on my giddy pinnacle of immortal fame! I was
intensely angry, but succeeded in controlling myself, for I felt that
an untimely explosion of violence might ruin all. I passed my hand
over my eyes, as if to blur the glitter that had alarmed Guy's
scrupulous feebleness, and sat down quietly again.

"The fact is, my dear Guy," I said, "I have been waiting so long for
an opportunity to execute a certain scheme of mine, that I cannot help
being a little excited when this opportunity seems at last within my

"What kind of a scheme?" asked Guy.

"A scheme for the advancement of the science in which we are both so

"Oh," said Guy, with an air of relief, "you know how you can rely upon
me for any undertaking in that direction."

"I should think so, especially when it concerns the problem upon which
we have both been so long engaged--the movements of the heart."

"What!" he exclaimed with delight. "You have discovered something new
for that! Shall I ever cease to admire your masterly ingenuity. What
is to be done? You want to send me to Africa to capture a live
rhinoceros? I will set out to-morrow."

"What would be the use! All the information that can be gained by
experiment on the higher mammifers is already ours. Since the problem
derives the greatest part of its interest from its application to man,
it is on man that the new experiment should be performed."

"Ah, yes," sighed Guy; "we are always tripping up against this

"Nothing is impossible," I answered. "I am resolved that the
experiment shall be performed on man."

Guy started, then laughed. "Oh! you are joking," he said.

"Not the least in the world. I have even selected the subject."

"Eh! well, since you are so determined, you may dissect me when you
choose. Only I warn you of difficulties with the tribunals

"I leave you to settle with them. It is not you, but myself, who is to
be the subject; and you must perform the experiment."

I was surprised at the calmness with which I made this momentous
revelation of my purpose. But we are always on the level of the
circumstances to which we have attained, and they do not seem as awful
as when viewed from the distance.

Guy did not at all believe that I was in earnest, and half an hour's
impetuous talking was needed to convince him of the reality and
fixedness of my resolve. Then he tried to reason with me.

"Your experiment will be utterly useless," he said; "because death
will ensue almost immediately after the chest is opened. And during
the few seconds that might intervene for observation, the heart would
beat too rapidly to render observation possible."

"I have devised means for palliating all these difficulties," I
answered eagerly. "In the first place, the last act of the experiment
must be preceded by the administration of woorara, to slacken the
rapidity of the heart's action. In the second place, I do not propose
to open the chest with the bistoury. The operation, even though aided
by chloroform, would cause too violent a shock to the nervous system.
But I intend to burn through gradually, by successive applications of
caustic, as in the procedure for opening hepatic cysts. Deep-seated
adhesions would form and shut out the lungs securely, and thus
probably obviate the necessity for artificial respiration. The
pericardium would be reached with comparatively little disturbance,
and once exposed, the operator would be able to make a first and
important series of observations, before proceeding farther. Finally,
he would rend the pericardium, and arrive directly at the heart

"And kill you!" cried Guy.

"I should die," I answered composedly, "as men have died after
inoculating themselves with the plague; only my death would be more
glorious, because incurred for pure science, and in face of a
certainty. It is precisely on this account that the act will insure to
our names the honor and reverence of all future generations."

"Nonsense. You will be pitied as a suicide and madman, and I shall be
hung at the next assizes."

"Coward! traitor!" I burst forth in ungovernable passion. "_This_ is
the extent of your devotion, then! _These_ your narrow calculations
and sordid reckonings! You, the one soul in whom I trusted, the one
friend I had in the world capable of appreciating me! Oh, shame on
such ingratitude! Oh, miserable me, doomed to such disappointment!"

He was deeply hurt. I saw that I had made some impression upon
the hard skepticism with which the world had incased a naturally
generous nature, and pressed my advantage. I poured out a torrent of
eloquence, reasoning, prayers, entreaty. I wrestled with him as for
the salvation of a soul; the night waned on our hot conversation, and
finally, toward three o'clock, when the gray dawn began to point
weirdly in the East, I gained the victory. Guy promised to fulfil
my wish, at whatever risks to himself, and with the certainty of
sacrificing my life in the experiment. On the spot, I drew up a paper
testifying that the operation should have been performed at my express
command, and stated the reasons in full. To this document, I trusted
to obtain in the country the signature of two witnesses sufficiently
incurious to sign without reading.

For it was decided that, for the sake of greater secrecy and
convenience, we should withdraw to the country, and I selected a
locality about four hours' distance from Paris, where we were both
unknown. These details settled, we separated for sleep.

But I think neither of us closed our eyes that night; and Guy was so
pale and haggard the next morning that I hardly knew him. During the
week that we remained at Paris, making preparations for our departure,
he hardly ate, or slept, or spoke, but seemed to waste and droop like
a man in the clutch of a fiend. I became anxious. I was afraid he
would fall ill, and thus be incapacitated for the performance of his

However, we managed to leave the city without accident, and installed
ourselves in the lonely dwelling I had rented. We hired an old woman
from the village to take charge of our housekeeping, and then devoted
ourselves to our work. We engaged in a preliminary series of
experiments, through which, as through a suite of lesser apartments
leading to the throne-room, we were to approach the act that should
crown them all.

For the first time since he had been my pupil, I found Guy nervous,
_maladroit_. He turned pale at the sight of blood. The struggling of a
pigeon, or the yelp of a dog, seemed to make him sick, and a hundred
times he laid down his scalpel as if unable to proceed. He was like a
neophyte, and a prey to the sentimental horrors of which, up to this
time, his absorbed intellect had been quite unconscious. I trembled.
If his nerve should fail him when it became _my_ turn, and the whole
costly experiment be thrown away through some awkwardness on his part!
I was furious at the very idea, and told him so.

"I will haunt you forever if you fail," I said, savagely.

"You will in any case," answered Guy, sighing heavily.

But at my instances, he tried to rouse himself from this inexplicable
languor, and to drill hand and eye to exquisite precision. I watched
him severely. I refused to pardon the least blunder. I trained him for
this last trial, as men train horses for the winning race. Guy was
really an able physiologist, and his skill only needed finishing
touches to be as effective as was possible in the actual condition of
science. After two or three weeks I was satisfied, and bade him
prepare the next day to begin the last experiment.

I shall never forget that day, the supreme moment of my life. I sat at
the windows of an inner room, waiting for Guy, and looked out over the
valley that basked in the afternoon sunshine. It was the beginning of
September--one of those perfect days at the prime of the year, when
life has reached its culmination, and pauses in the fulness of its own
content. The air, ripe and balmy, purged of the rawness of Spring and
the violent heat of Summer, was as yet untouched by the faintest
frost, and restored to such perfection as mortals might breathe after
the regeneration of the earth. The grain had been gathered in, but the
unfallen fruit still weighed down the orchards, and absorbed the
sunlight for its mellowing juices. The first press of the harvest
season was over, the second had not yet begun; for one precious moment
man and nature paused together, and surveyed the long ascent by which
the year had climbed to these high table-lands of peace--not innocent
peace, ignorant of action, but the peace of victory after conflict, of
repose after strife, of maturity entering upon its rewards. In the
perfection of these sunful days, all possibility of change seemed to
have been outgrown, left far behind in an old, wearisome existence of
long ago. The world had entered upon an eternal blessedness, and the
jasper walls of heaven shut it out from harm forever, like coral reefs
encircling a lagoon in the Pacific seas. Only by remembering the years
that had been before, and the years that should follow after, could
the reluctant mind convince itself that this seeming eternity was
frail; that whoso lingered too long among the splendors of September
would be surely overtaken by treacherous frost, and biting winter
winds; that there was but one way to escape the revolting decline from
this pinnacle of life--to die. That was my secret. I alone, of all who
shivered at approaching winter, had learned how to escape. For me, not
only the year, but life itself, should cease at its pinnacle, refusing
to go down to a lower place, as a dethroned being prefers death to
miserable exile. And with these thoughts, I felt myself possessed by
an unutterable calm, such as comes to fever patients when they are

The first day of the experiment little was to be done. I called Guy,
who lingered in the laboratory, and bade him apply the first layer of
caustic to my breast, over the heart. The little operation required
small skill, and this was fortunate, for Guy's hand trembled so
violently, that a delicate manipulation would have been ruined. A drop
of the paste fell on my coat-sleeve, and in a few minutes had burned a
hole entirely through.

"Look, Guy," I exclaimed, "through such a window shall you soon gaze
at the central mystery of life. I almost envy you the opportunity."

"Oh!" he cried, "if you would but take it! If you would but use me for
your experiment, and spare me this dreadful trial!"

He had urged this exchange from the beginning, but of course I would
not consent. What! give up my great chance for immortality, surrender
my unique place in the history of science and the world? No, indeed; I
was already generous in sharing my achievement, in trusting the
preservation of my fame to even my most loyal friend. Beyond that it
were folly, madness, to go.

"Nonsense," I replied therefore to this senseless entreaty. "That
question has already been sufficiently discussed. Bah! that caustic

It was necessary to wait three or four days before renewing the
caustic to deepen the eschar made by the first application. This delay
gradually became intolerable to me,--the more, that Guy prolonged it
on a multitude of trivial pretexts. I was finally obliged to resume
the direction of affairs, and order him to proceed.

He began to prepare some Vienna paste, but in a slow, dawdling manner
that irritated my nerves to the last degree. I snatched the cup from
his hand and stirred the caustic myself.

"How many centuries have admired Socrates," I remarked, "for his
theatrical pretence of drinking the hemlock voluntarily. In future
ages men will remember with greater admiration how I, with my own
hand, prepared the instrument of my death. Do not forget to mention
this circumstance in your notes, and add that my hand did not

I gave the caustic to Guy; but at the same moment the door opened
behind us, and he sprang forward with a sudden cry, dashing the cup in
pieces on the floor. I turned in angry surprise at the interruption,
and saw two men standing in the room. They were perfect strangers to
me, but came forward immediately and saluted me with the friendly
courtesy of old acquaintance. I even fancied that I detected an
intolerable softness in their manner, such as physicians sometimes
assume in speaking to sick people. One of the intruders took my
passive hand in his, and shook it with unnecessary cordiality,
contriving, I think, at the same time to slip his fingers on my wrist,
just over the pulse.

My instinct was decidedly in favor of kicking these impertinent
fellows down stairs. But so strong is the influence of civilized
habit, that I restrained myself to a freezing politeness, inquiring to
what I might be indebted for the honor, etc.

"These gentlemen are friends of mine," interposed Guy, who had stooped
on the floor to pick up the broken fragments of the cup, and who did
not look at me as he spoke. "They are amateurs in our science, and
would be much interested in examining the laboratory that we have
installed here. But since they have taken a long journey, and must be
hungry, I think we had better first order the déjeuner."

"The devil!" I muttered inwardly. But at the same moment I reflected
that these visitors with their congenial tastes might serve
opportunity as witnesses to the experiment--even be useful in
correcting any possible awkwardness in Guy's manipulation. I therefore
addressed them in a tone of cordial hospitality.

"We are at this moment engaged in some researches," I said, "that
cannot fail to interest you, and where, perhaps, you may be of signal
service, if you will consent to stay with us awhile and put up with
our modest accommodations."

"You honor our poor abilities," returned the first stranger, with a
bland smile. "We shall be most happy to accept your amiable

So we four sat down to the déjeuner, in the most cheerful possible
humor. The black stain that burned on my breast stimulated me to a
secret exultation; I felt a secret pride in anticipating the wonder of
these men, when they should hereafter recall the gayety of my demeanor
on this occasion. They, on the other hand, seconded me bravely in the
conversation. Not for years had I met with companions so brilliant,
witty, and sympathetic. They listened to me with the closest
attention, and seemed to find a peculiar charm in the freaks of my
fancy, to which, for the moment, I gave the rein.

"These men are capable of appreciating me," I said to myself, and
congratulated my good fortune which had sent them thither.

Then I rose. "Gentlemen," I said, "I cannot express to you the
pleasure that I have derived from your society. Before we adjourn to
the laboratory, allow me, in English fashion, to propose a toast."

"Wait a moment," said Guy, breaking the sullen silence he had hitherto
maintained. "I ordered some Burgundy from Paris the other day, and it
arrived this morning."

He left the room, and presently returned with an uncorked bottle in
his hand, which he set before me. I fancied, as he did so, that he
looked rather significantly at the two strangers, but politeness
forbade me to express my suspicion. I poured out the wine, and pushed
the glasses to my companions.

"Drink," I cried, "to the experiment that shall open a new era in
science, and to the man that shall inaugurate a new revolution in the
world." And I drained my glass.

Whether or no the others followed my example, I cannot tell; for
almost immediately I felt a subtle fire course through my veins,
followed by a delicious languor that crept inwards to my heart, and
seemed to arrest its pulsation by an irresistible persuasiveness to
repose. Probably I swooned, for I lost all consciousness, and all
recollection of time or place for many hours.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I came to myself, I was a prisoner in this cursed asylum at

--Guy had betrayed me,--the false friend,--the poltroon,--and I, who
trusted him too much, had fallen a victim to his stratagems. Whether
he had been true to me at the beginning, and then had faltered at
the last, or whether he had deceived me all along with affected
complaisance, I never knew. For when he came to see me one day, my
just resentment excited me to such a paroxysm of fury that the people
here recommended him not to return, and I have never seen him since.
So here I sit, in forced idleness, waiting for the arrival of some
one who shall appreciate my great idea, and release me for its
accomplishment. The people by whom I am surrounded are kind enough,
but ignorant; they admire me, but are unable to understand me. So they
bind me in silken chains, and clasp them with honeyed words, and I
remain a prisoner. It is thus that the world rewards its greatest



_Century Magazine, November, 1883._

The great Pasterzen glacier rises in Western Austria, and flows into
Carinthia, and is fourteen or seventeen miles long, as you measure it
from its birth in the snow-field, or from where it begins to move from
the higher snows and its active course is marked by the first wrinkle.
It flows in a straight, steady sweep, a grand avenue, guarded by giant
mountains, steep and wide; a prototype, huge and undesigned, of the
giants' stairway in the Venice palace. No known force can block its
path; it would need a cataclysm to reverse its progress. What falls
upon it moves with it, what lies beneath it moves with it--down to the
polished surface of the earth's frame, laid bare; no blade of grass
grows so slowly as it moves, no meteor of the air is so irresistible.
Its substant ice curls freely, moulds, and breaks itself like
water,--breaks in waves, plastic like honey, crested lightly with a
frozen spray; it winds tenderly about the rocky shore, and the
granite, disintegrated into crumbs, flows on with it. All this so
quietly that busy, officious little Man lived a score of thousand
years before he noticed even that the glacier moved.

Now, however, men have learned to congregate upon its shores, and
admire. Scientists stick staves in the ground (not too near, lest the
earth should move with it), and appraise the majesty of its motion;
ladies, politely mystified, give little screams of pleased surprise;
young men, secretly exultant, pace the yard or two between the sticks,
a distance that takes the frozen stream a year to compass, and look
out upon it half contemptuously. Then they cross it--carefully, they
have enough respect left for that--with their cunningly nailed shoes
and a rope; an hour or two they dally with it, till at last, being
hungry and cold, they walk to the inn for supper. At supper they tell
stories of their prowess, pay money to the guides who have protected
them, and fall asleep after tea with weariness. Meantime, the darkness
falls outside; but the white presence of the glacier breaks the night,
and strange shapes unseen of men dance in its ashen hollows. It is
so old that the realms of death and life conflict; change is on the
surface, but immortality broods in the deeper places. The moon rises
and sinks; the glacier moves silently, like a timepiece marking the
centuries, grooving the record of its being on the world itself,--a
feature to be read and studied by far-off generations of some other
world. The glacier has a light of its own, and gleams to stars above,
and the great Glockner mountain flings his shadow of the planets in
its face.

Mrs. Knollys was a young English bride, sunny-haired, hopeful-eyed,
with lips that parted to make you love them,--parted before they
smiled, and all the soft regions of her face broke into attendant
dimples. And then, lest you should think it meant for you, she looked
quickly up to "Charles," as she would then call him even to strangers,
and Charles looked down to her. Charles was a short foot taller, with
much the same hair and eyes, thick flossy whiskers, broad shoulders,
and a bass voice. This was in the days before political economy cut
Hymen's wings. Charles, like Mary, had little money, but great hopes;
and he was clerk in a government office, with a friendly impression of
everybody and much trust in himself. And old Harry Colquhoun, his
chief, had given them six weeks to go to Switzerland and be happy in,
all in celebration of Charles Knollys's majority and marriage to his
young wife. So they had both forgotten heaven for the nonce, having a
passable substitute; but the powers divine overlooked them pleasantly
and forgave it. And even the phlegmatic driver of their _Einspänner_
looked back from the corner of his eye at the _schöne Engländerin_,
and compared her mentally with the far-famed beauty of the Königssee.
So they rattled on in their curious conveyance, with the pole in the
middle and the one horse out on one side, and still found more beauty
in each other's eyes than in the world about them. Although Charles
was only one and twenty, Mary Knollys was barely eighteen, and to her
he seemed godlike in his age, as in all other things. Her life had
been as simple as it had been short. She remembered being a little
girl, and then the next thing that occurred was Charles Knollys, and
positively the next thing she remembered of importance was being Mrs.
Charles Knollys; so that old Mrs. Knollys, her guardian aunt and his,
had first called her a love of a baby, and then but a baby in love.
All this, of course, was five and forty years ago, for you know how
old she was when she went again to Switzerland last summer--three and

They first saw the great mountains from the summit of the Schafberg.
This is a little height, three-cornered, between three lakes; a
natural Belvedere for Central Europe. Mr. and Mrs. Knollys were seated
on a couch of Alpine roses behind a rhododendron bush watching the
sunset; but as Charles was desirous of kissing Mrs. Knollys, and the
rhododendron bush was not thick enough, they were waiting for the sun
to go down. He was very slow in doing this, and by way of consolation
Knollys was keeping his wife's hand hidden in the folds of her dress.
Undoubtedly a modern lady would have been talking of the scenery,
giving word-color pictures of the view; but I am afraid Mrs. Knollys
had been looking at her husband, and talking with him of the cottage
they had bought in a Surrey village, not far from Box Hill, and
thinking how the little carvings and embroideries would look there
which they had bought abroad. And, indeed, Mrs. Charles secretly
thought Box Hill an eminence far preferable to the Venediger, and
Charles's face an infinitely more interesting sight than any lake,
however expressive. But the sun, looking askance at them through the
lower mist, was not jealous; all the same he spread his glory lavishly
for them, and the bright little mirror of a lake twinkled cannily
upward from below. Finally it grew dark; then there was less talking.
It was full night when they went in, she leaning on his arm and
looking up; and the moonbeam on the snowy shoulder of the Glockner,
twenty leagues away, came over, straight-way, from the mountain to her
face. Three days later, Charles Knollys, crossing with her the lower
portion of the Pasterzen glacier, slipped into a crevasse, and
vanished utterly from the earth.


All this you know. And I was also told more of the young girl, bride
and widow at eighteen; how she sought to throw herself into the clear
blue gulf; how she refused to leave Heiligenblut; how she would sit,
tearless, by the rim of the crevasse, day after day, and gaze into
its profundity. A guide or man was always with her at these times, for
it was still feared she would follow her young husband to the depths
of that still sea. Her aunt went over from England to her; the summer
waxed; autumn storms set in; but no power could win her from the place
whence Charles had gone.

If there was a time worse for her than that first moment, it was when
they told her that his body never could be found. They did not dare to
tell her this for many days, but busied themselves with idle cranes
and ladders, and made futile pretences with ropes. Some of the big,
simple-hearted guides even descended into the chasm, absenting
themselves for an hour or so, to give her an idea that something was
being done. Poor Mrs. Knollys would have followed them had she been
allowed, to wander through the purple galleries, calling Charles. It
was well she could not; for all Kaspar could do was to lower himself a
hundred yards or so, chisel out a niche, and stand in it, smoking his
honest pipe to pass the time, and trying to fancy he could hear the
murmur of the waters down below. Meantime Mrs. Knollys strained her
eyes, peering downward from above, leaning on the rope about her
waist, looking over the clear brink of the bergschrund.

It was the Herr Doctor Zimmermann who first told her the truth. Not
that the good Doctor meant to do so. The Herr Doctor had had his
attention turned to glaciers by some rounded stones in his garden
by the Traunsee, and more particularly by the Herr Privatdocent
Splüthner. Splüthner, like Uncle Toby, had his hobby-horse, his pet
conjuring words, his gods _ex machinâ_, which he brought upon the
field in scientific emergencies; and these gods, as with Thales, were
Fire and Water. Craters and flood were his accustomed scapegoats, upon
whose heads were charged all things unaccountable; and the Herr
Doctor, who had only one element left to choose from, and that a
passive one, but knew, on general principles, that Splüthner must be
wrong, got as far off as he could and took Ice. And Splüthner having
pooh-poohed this, Zimmermann rode his hypothesis with redoubled zeal.
He became convinced that ice was the embodiment of orthodoxy. Fixing
his professional spectacles on his substantial nose, he went into
Carinthia and ascended the great Venice mountains, much as he would
have performed any other scientific experiment. Then he encamped on
the shores of the Pasterzen glacier, and proceeded to make a study of

So it happened that the Doctor, taking a morning stroll over the
subject of his experiment, in search of small things which might
verify his theory, met Mrs. Knollys sitting in her accustomed place.
The Doctor had been much puzzled, that morning, on finding in a rock
at the foot of the glacier the impression, or sign-manual as it were,
of a certain fish, whose acquaintance the Doctor had previously made
only in tropical seas. This fact seeming, superficially, to chime in
with Splüthnerian mistakes in a most heterodox way, the Doctor's mind
had for a moment been diverted from the ice; and he was wondering what
the fish had been going to do in that particular gallery, and secretly
doubting whether it had known its own mind, and gone thither with the
full knowledge and permission of its maternal relative. Indeed, the
good Doctor would probably have ascribed its presence to the malicious
and personal causation of the devil, but that the one point on which
he and Splüthner were agreed was the ignoring of unscientific
hypotheses. The Doctor's objections to the devil were none the less
strenuous for being purely scientific.

Thus ruminating, the Doctor came to the crevasse where Mrs. Knollys
was sitting, and to which a little path had now been worn from the
inn. There was nothing of scientific interest about the fair young
English girl, and the Doctor did not notice her; but he took from his
waistcoat-pocket a leaden bullet, moulded by himself, and marked
"Johannes Carpentarius, Juvavianus, A. U. C. 2590," and dropped it,
with much satisfaction, into the crevasse. Mrs. Knollys gave a little
cry; the bullet was heard for some seconds tinkling against the sides
of the chasm; the tinkles grew quickly fainter, but they waited in
vain for the noise of the final fall. "May the Splüthner live that he
may learn by it," muttered the Doctor; "I can never recover it."

Then he remembered that the experiment had been attended with a sound
unaccounted for by the conformity of the bullet to the laws of
gravitation; and looking up he saw Mrs. Knollys in front of him, no
longer crying, but very pale. Zimmermann started, and in his confusion
dropped his best brass registering thermometer, which also rattled
down the abyss.

"You say," whispered Mrs. Knollys, "that it can never be recovered!"

"Madam," spoke the Doctor, doffing his hat, "how would you recofer
from a blace when the smallest approximation which I haf yet been able
to make puts the depth from the surface to the bed of the gletscher at
vrom sixteen hundred to sixteen hundred and sixty _mètres_ in
distance?" Doctor Zimmermann spoke very good English; and he pushed
his hat upon the back of his head, and assumed his professional

"But they all were trying----" Mrs. Knollys spoke faintly. "They said
that they hoped he could be recovered." The stranger was the oldest
gentleman she had seen, and Mrs. Knollys felt almost like confiding in
him. "Oh, I must have the--the body." She closed in a sob; but the
Herr Doctor caught at the last word, and this suggested to him only
the language of scientific experiment.

"Recofer it? If, madam," Zimmermann went on with all the satisfaction
attendant on the enunciation of a scientific truth, "we take a body
and drop it in the schrund of this gletscher; and the ice-stream moves
so slower at its base than on the upper part, and the ice will cover
it; efen if we could reach the base, which is a mile in depth. Then,
see you, it is all caused by the motion of the ice----"

But at this Mrs. Knollys had given a faint cry, and her guide rushed
up angrily to the old professor, who stared helplessly forward. "God
will help me, sir," said she to the Doctor, and she gave the guide her
arm and walked wearily away.

The professor still stared in amazement at her enthusiasm for
scientific experiment and the passion with which she greeted his
discoveries. Here was a person who utterly refused to be referred to
the agency of ice, or even, like Splüthner, of Fire and Water; and
went out of the range of allowable hypotheses to call upon a Noumenon.
Now both Splüthner and Zimmermann had studied all natural agencies and
made allowance for them, but for the Divine they had always hitherto
proved an alibi. The Doctor could make nothing of it.

At the inn that evening he saw Mrs. Knollys with swollen eyes; and
remembering the scene of the afternoon, he made inquiries about her of
the innkeeper. The latter had heard the guide's account of the
meeting; and as soon as Zimmermann had made plain what he had told her
of the falling body, "Triple blockhead!" said he. "_Es war ihr Mann._"
The Herr Professor staggered back into his seat; and the kindly
innkeeper ran upstairs to see what had happened to his poor young

Mrs. Knollys had recovered from the first shock by this time, but the
truth could no longer be withheld. The innkeeper could but nod his
head sadly, when she told him that to recover her Charles was
hopeless. All the guides said the same thing. The poor girl's husband
had vanished from the world as utterly as if his body had been burned
to ashes and scattered in the pathway of the winds. Charles Knollys
was gone, utterly gone; no more to be met with by his girl-wife, save
as spirit to spirit, soul to soul, in ultramundane place. The
fair-haired young Englishman lived but in her memory, as his soul, if
still existent, lived in places indeterminate, unknowable to Doctor
Zimmermann and his compeers. Slowly Mrs. Knollys acquired the belief
that she was never to see her Charles again. Then, at last, she
resolved to go--to go home. Her strength now gave way; and when her
aunt left she had with her but the ghost of Mrs. Knollys--a broken
figure, drooping in the carriage, veiled in black. The innkeeper and
all the guides stood bare-headed, silent, about the door, as the
carriage drove off, bearing the bereaved widow back to England.


When the Herr Doctor had heard the innkeeper's answer, he sat for some
time with his hands planted on his knees, looking through his
spectacles at the opposite wall. Then he lifted one hand and struck
his brow impatiently. It was his way, when a chemical reaction had
come out wrong.

"Triple blockhead!" said he; "triple blockhead, thou art so bad as
Splüthner." No self-condemnation could have been worse to him than
this. Thinking again of Mrs. Knollys, he gave one deep, gruff sob.
Then he took his hat, and going out, wandered by the shore of the
glacier in the night, repeating to himself the Englishwoman's words:
"_They said that they hoped he could be recovered._" Zimmermann came
to the tent where he kept his instruments, and stood there, looking at
the sea of ice. He went to his measuring pegs, two rods of iron: one
sunk deep and frozen in the glacier, the other drilled into a rock on
the shore. "Triple blockhead!" said he again, "thou art worse than
Splüthner. The Splüthner said the glacier did not move; thou, thou
knowest that it does." He sighted from his rods to the mountain
opposite. There was a slight and all but imperceptible change of
direction from the day before.

He could not bear to see the English girl again, and all the next day
was absent from the inn. For a month he stopped at Heiligenblut, and
busied himself with his instruments. The guides of the place greeted
him coldly every day, as they started on their glacier excursions or
their chamois hunting. But none the less did Zimmermann return the
following summer, and work upon his great essay in refutation of the

Mrs. Knollys went back to the little cottage in Surrey, and lived
there. The chests and cases she brought back lay unopened in the
store-room; the little rooms of the cottage that was to be their home
remained bare and unadorned, as Charles had seen them last. She could
not bring herself to alter them now. What she had looked forward to do
with him she had no strength to do alone. She rarely went out. There
was no place where she could go to think of him. He was gone; gone
from England, gone from the very surface of the earth. If he had only
been buried in some quiet English churchyard, she thought,--some green
place lying open to the sun, where she could go and scatter flowers on
his grave, where she could sit and look forward amid her tears to the
time when she should lie side by side with him,--they would then be
separated for her short life alone. Now it seemed to her that they
were far apart forever.

But late the next summer she had a letter from the place. It was from
Dr. Zimmermann. There is no need here to trace the quaint German
phrases, the formalism, the cold terms of science in which he made his
meaning plain. It spoke of erosion; of the movement of the summer; of
the action of the under-waters on the ice. And it told her, with
tender sympathy oddly blended with the pride of scientific success,
that he had given a year's most careful study to the place; with all
his instruments of measurement he had tested the relentless glacier's
flow; and it closed by assuring her that her husband might yet be
found--in five and forty years. In five and forty years--the poor
professor staked his scientific reputation on the fact--in five and
forty years she might return, and the glacier would give up its dead.

This letter made Mrs. Knollys happier. It made her willing to live; it
made her almost long to live until old age--that her Charles's body
might be given back. She took heart to beautify her little home. The
trifling articles she had bought with Charles were now brought
out,--the little curiosities and pictures he had given her on their
wedding journey. She would ask how such and such a thing looked,
turning her pretty head to some kind visitor, as she ranged them on
the walls; and now and then she would have to lay the picture down and
cry a little, silently, as she remembered where Charles had told her
it would look best. Still, she sought to furnish the rooms as they had
planned them in their mind; she made her surroundings, as nearly as
she could, as they had pictured them together. One room she never went
into; it was the room Charles had meant to have for the nursery. She
had no child.

But she changed, as we all change, with the passing of the years. I
first remember her as a woman middle-aged, sweet-faced, hardly like a
widow, nor yet like an old maid. She was rather like a young girl in
love, with her lover absent on a long journey. She lived more with the
memory of her husband, she clung to him more, than if she had had a
child. She never married; you would have guessed that; but, after the
Professor's letter, she never quite seemed to realize that her husband
was dead. Was he not coming back to her?

Never in all my knowledge of dear English women have I known a woman
so much loved. In how many houses was she always the most welcome
guest! How often we boys would go to her for sympathy! I know she was
the confidante of all our love affairs. I cannot speak for girls; but
I fancy she was much the same with them. Many of us owed our life's
happiness to her. She would chide us gently in our pettiness and
folly, and teach us, by her very presence and example, what thing it
was that alone could keep life sweet. How well we all remember the
little Surrey cottage, the little home fireside where the husband had
never been! I think she grew to imagine his presence, even the
presence of children: boys, curly-headed, like Charles, and sweet,
blue-eyed daughters; and the fact that it was all imagining seemed but
to make the place more holy. Charles still lived to her as she had
believed him in the month that they were married; he lived through
life with her as her young love had fancied he would be. She never
thought of evil that might have occurred; of failing affection, of
cares. Her happiness was in her mind alone; so all the earthly part
was absent.

There were but two events in her life--that which was past and that
which was to come. She had lived through his loss; now she lived on
for his recovery. But, as I have said, she changed, as all things
mortal change; all but the earth and the ice-stream and the stars
above it. She read much, and her mind grew deep and broad, none the
less gentle with it all; she was wiser in the world; she knew the
depths of human hope and sorrow. You remember her only as an old lady
whom we loved. Only her heart did not change--I forgot that; her
heart, and the memory of that last loving smile upon his face, as he
bent down to look into her eyes, before he slipped and fell. She lived
on, and waited for his body, as possibly his other self--who
knows?--waited for hers. As she grew older she grew taller; her eyes
were quieter, her hair a little straighter, darker than of yore; her
face changed, only the expression remained the same. Mary Knollys!

Human lives rarely look more than a year, or five, ahead; Mary Knollys
looked five and forty. Many of us wait, and grow weary in waiting, for
those few years alone, and for some living friend. Mary Knollys waited
five and forty years--for the dead. Still, after that first year, she
never wore all black; only silvery grays, and white with a black
ribbon or two. I have said that she almost seemed to think her husband
living. She would fancy his doing this and that with her; how he would
joy in this good fortune, or share her sorrows--which were few,
mercifully. His memory seemed to be a living thing to her, to go
through life with her, hand in hand; it changed as she grew old; it
altered itself to suit her changing thought; until the very memory of
her memory seemed to make it sure that he had really been alive with
her, really shared her happiness or sorrow, in the far-off days of her
earliest widowhood. It hardly seemed that he had been gone already
then--she remembered him so well. She could not think that he had
never been with her in their little cottage. And now, at sixty, I know
she thought of him as an old person too; sitting by their fireside,
late in life, mature, deep-souled, wise with the wisdom of years,
going back with her, fondly, to recall the old, old happiness of their
bridal journey, when they set off for the happy honeymoon abroad, and
the long life now past stretched brightly out before them both. She
never spoke of this, and you children never knew it; but it was always
in her mind.

There was a plain stone in the little Surrey churchyard, now gray and
moss-grown with the rains of forty years, on which you remember
reading: "Charles Knollys--lost in Carinthia"----This was all she
would have inscribed; he was but lost; no one _knew_ that he was dead.
Was he not yet to be found? There was no grassy mound beside it; the
earth was smooth. Not even the date was there. But Mrs. Knollys never
went to read it. She waited until he should come; until that last
journey, repeating the travels of their wedding-days, when she should
go to Germany to bring him home.

So the woman's life went on in England, and the glacier in the Alps
moved on slowly; and the woman waited for it to be gone.


In the summer of 1882, the little Carinthian village of Heiligenblut
was haunted by two persons. One was a young German scientist, with
long hair and spectacles; the other was a tall English lady, slightly
bent, with a face wherein the finger of time had deeply written tender
things. Her hair was white as silver, and she wore a long black veil.
Their habits were strangely similar. Every morning, when the eastern
light shone deepest into the ice-cavern at the base of the great
Pasterzen glacier, these two would walk thither; then both would sit
for an hour or two and peer into its depths. Neither knew why the
other was there. The woman would go back for an hour in the late
afternoon; the man, never. He knew that the morning light was
necessary for his search.

The man was the famous young Zimmermann, son of his father, the old
Doctor, long since dead. But the Herr Doctor had written a famous
tract, when late in life, refuting all Splüthners, past, present, and
to come; and had charged his son, in his dying moments, as a most
sacred trust, that he should repair to the base of the Pasterzen
glacier in the year 1882, where he would find a leaden bullet, graven
with his father's name, and the date A. U. C. 2590. All this would be
vindication of his father's science. Splüthner, too, was a very old
man, and Zimmermann the younger (for even he was no longer young) was
fearful lest Splüthner should not live to witness his own refutation.
The woman and the man never spoke to each other.

Alas, no one could have known Mrs. Knollys for the fair English girl
who had been there in the young days of the century; not even the
innkeeper, had he been there. But he, too, was long since dead. Mrs.
Knollys was now bent and white-haired; she had forgotten, herself, how
she had looked in those old days. Her life had been lived. She was now
like a woman of another world; it seemed another world in which her
fair hair had twined about her husband's fingers, and she and Charles
had stood upon the evening mountain, and looked in one another's eyes.
That was the world of her wedding-days, but it seemed more like a
world she had left when born on earth. And now he was coming back to
her in this. Meantime the great Pasterzen glacier had moved on,
marking only the centuries; the men upon its borders had seen no
change; the same great waves lifted their snowy heads upon its
surface; the same crevasse still was where he had fallen. At night,
the moonbeams, falling, still shivered off its glassy face; its pale
presence filled the night, and immortality lay brooding in its

Friends were with Mrs. Knollys, but she left them at the inn. One old
guide remembered her, and asked to bear her company. He went with her
in the morning, and sat a few yards from her, waiting. In the
afternoon she went alone. He would not have credited you, had you told
him that the glacier moved. He thought it but an Englishwoman's fancy,
but he waited with her. Himself had never forgotten that old day. And
Mrs. Knollys sat there silently, searching the clear depths of the
ice, that she might find her husband.

One night she saw a ghost. The latest beam of the sun, falling on a
mountain opposite, had shone back into the ice-cavern; and seemingly
deep within, in the grave azure light, she fancied she saw a face
turned toward her. She even thought she saw Charles's yellow hair, and
the self-same smile his lips had worn when he bent down to her before
he fell. It could be but a fancy. She went home, and was silent with
her friends about what had happened. In the moonlight she went back,
and again the next morning before dawn. She told no one of her going;
but the old guide met her at the door, and walked silently behind her.
She had slept, the glacier ever present in her dreams.

The sun had not yet risen when she came; and she sat a long time in
the cavern, listening to the murmur of the river, flowing under the
glacier at her feet. Slowly the dawn began, and again she seemed to
see the shimmer of a face--such a face as one sees in the coals of a
dying fire. Then the full sun came over the eastern mountain, and the
guide heard a woman's cry. There before her was Charles Knollys! The
face seemed hardly pale; and there was the same faint smile--a smile
like her memory of it, five and forty years gone by. Safe in the
clear ice, still, unharmed, there lay--O God! not her Charles; not the
Charles of her own thought, who had lived through life with her and
shared her sixty years; not the old man she had borne thither in her
mind--but a boy, a boy of one and twenty lying asleep, a ghost from
another world coming to confront her from the distant past, immortal
in the immortality of the glacier. There was his quaint coat, of the
fashion of half a century before; his blue eyes open; his young, clear
brow; all the form of the past she had forgotten; and she his bride
stood there to welcome him, with her wrinkles, her bent figure, and
thin white hairs. She was living, he was dead; and she was two and
forty years older than he.

Then at last the long-kept tears came to her, and she bent her white
head in the snow. The old man came up with his pick, silently, and
began working in the ice. The woman lay weeping, and the boy with his
still, faint smile, lay looking at them, through the clear ice-veil,
from his open eyes.

I believe that the Professor found his bullet; I know not. I believe
that the scientific world rang with his name and the thesis that he
published on the glacier's motion, and the changeless temperature his
father's lost thermometer had shown. All this you may read. I know no

But I know that in the English churchyard there are now two graves,
and a single stone, to Charles Knollys and Mary, his wife; and the boy
of one and twenty sleeps there with his bride of sixty-three: his
young frame with her old one, his yellow hair beside her white. And I
do not know that there is not some place, not here, where they are
still together, and he is twenty-one and she is still eighteen. I do
not know this; but I know that all the pamphlets of the German doctor
cannot tell me it is false.

Meantime the great Pasterzen glacier moves on, and the rocks with it;
and the mountain flings his shadow of the planets in its face.




     "The work of feeding, you must understand,
     Was but a fraction of the work in hand."

_Atlantic Monthly, November, 1872._

In the year of grace 1855 there resided at the fashionable end of one
of the largest of our Eastern cities, a person who will be called for
the purpose of this article Bernon Burchard. He is not a myth, but a
veritable person. For fifteen years he had been a practising lawyer,
and had risen to eminence in his profession. His personal appearance
was fine and prepossessing. His mind was clear, vigorous, and
well-stored with varied learning. His sense of honor was pure and
discriminating, and like the president of the Jewish Sanhedrim in the
days of Caius Cæsar, he "was had in reputation of all the people." He
was blessed with a capacious soul, and seemed naturally inclined to
acts of benevolence and generosity. In society he held the foremost
rank, and was fitted by birthright, education, and taste for the
highest social position. His noble nature, his wit and learning and
generous flow of spirits, united to complete a most pleasing and model

At this time, upon the old estate in Lancashire, England, from which
the first of the Burchards in this country emigrated in 1630, there
resided Winfield Burchard, who dispensed generous hospitality to all
the American kindred who made pilgrimage to fatherland. Mr. Bernon
Burchard in particular, of all the name, had special occasion for
holding the said Winfield in lasting remembrance and esteem for the
many and great favors bestowed upon him and his immediate family
during a series of years,--favors which were rendered doubly pleasing
because it was nearly certain from the age and infirmities of the host
that the branch of the family on this side of the Atlantic would never
have the opportunity of reciprocating the favors in kind.

At a certain period in the year first mentioned, when Bernon
Burchard's enthusiasm was all aglow for his English namesake, there
called upon him the Rev. Mr. Malcolm of Oxford, with a letter of
introduction from Winfield, wherein he commended his nephew to the
attention of Mr. Bernon for his many virtues and acquirements.

He was cordially received, and Mr. Bernon Burchard at once determined
to show his new cousin every mark of consideration and attention, as
some slight token of the regard in which he held the writer of the

In personal appearance the Rev. Mr. Malcolm was of average height, of
a lymphatic temperament, and of modest and retiring manners. His brown
hair shaded bright hazel eyes, which under embarrassment or surprise
flew about with remarkable rapidity, and occasionally gave his
countenance a wildness of expression. He showed at least a smattering
of a variety of knowledge; he had evidently enjoyed the acquaintance
of many of the conspicuous men in Europe, and had the air of a man who
had seen much of the world.

Among other efforts for the entertainment of the Rev. Mr. Malcolm, and
the only one pertinent to the object of this article, was a grand
dinner-party, which surpassed all others that had ever been given in
the city, both for the elegance and sumptuousness of the feast and the
wit and learning displayed by the distinguished guests, as well as in
another particular which it is our purpose to unfold.

There were present, besides the Rev. Mr. Malcolm, a learned Doctor of
Divinity, famous for his proficiency in the Hebrew language and in
Rabbinical lore, and who was at times greatly embarrassed because of
his inability to hold what he deemed a proper restraint over his
risibles. There was also a professor of Greek literature, who
delighted in the tragedies, especially of Euripides and Sophocles, but
who had, nevertheless, a keen relish for the humorous. He was
accustomed among scholars to quote certain old Latin and Greek authors
who were seldom read, and it was a frequent remark among the learned,
with a sly wink of the eye, that our professor had access to some
books which other less favored literati had never seen. There was
present a brace of literary gentlemen of ready memories and wits, who
contributed largely to the enjoyment of the occasion, besides several
lawyers of distinction, who as a class are always to be relied upon
when festivity offers them a retainer; a Senator, who was grave
and dignified; a Right Reverend, who was quite the contrary; a
physiognomist and expert in handwriting, who was the gravest of all,
and naturally so as he was intent on taking rather than making
observations; and several others, who, to say the least, were good

In Vespasian's time entertainments were first given _præcise_, and
Mr. Burchard's guests arrived at almost the same moment. As the
physiognomist paid his respects to the host the Rev. Mr. Malcolm stood
upon his right, and at the same moment the man who had the ordering of
the feast, formerly called the butler, stood upon his left offering
him a rolled-up napkin, which was the mode of announcing the readiness
of the repast in the days of the Cæsars. This man with a napkin under
his arm led the way to the dining-room, and Mr. Burchard brought up
the rear, also an invariable rule for an "amphitrion" in the times of
the gourmands.

While the _convives_ were passing through the hall, Mr. Sidney, the
physiognomist and expert, seemed disinclined to proceed. Mr. Burchard,
supposing him to feel somewhat overawed in the presence of so wise a
conclave, hurried him along, while Mr. Sidney whispered in his ear,
"With all respect, sir, you are more blind than Bartimeus."

Mr. Sidney has been heretofore described in the pages of the _Atlantic
Monthly_ in these words, "His counterpart in personal appearance you
may find in the thoroughfares at any hour of the day. There is nothing
about him to attract attention. He is nearly forty-five years of age,
and weighs perhaps two hundred pounds. His face is florid and his hair
sandy. His eyes are small, piercing, and gray. His motions are slow,
and none are made without a purpose. The wrinkles in his lips are at
right angles with his mouth, and a close observer might detect in his
countenance self-reliance, and tenacity of will and purpose."

One of the most important personages present, and one who contributed
largely to the success or non-success of the feast, was Mr. Burchard's
major-domo Maguire, the same who handed the napkin to Mr. Burchard
when Mr. Sidney entered the drawing-room. For eight years he had
resided in the family, and had endeared himself to the whole
household by the kindness of his heart, his devotion to the interests
of his employer, and by his perfection of knowledge in every art which
relates to an entertainment and the customs which prevail in refined
society. He was small in stature, of dark complexion, smooth face,
subdued expression of countenance, very quiet in his manners, and aged
about forty-five.

The Rev. Mr. Malcolm, most tastefully attired, was seated on the right
of the host, and said grace in the most approved English formula and
with distinct enunciation. The Doctor of Divinity sat on the left.
Beside his plate was a bill of fare beautifully executed in Hebrew
(much to the surprise of the host and to the credit of Maguire). The
doctor's attempt at translating the same into English afforded not a
little amusement, he being not particularly successful in the effort.
Indeed, he was so perplexed thereby when pressed by the Professor of
Greek, that he could not conceal his annoyance, and the whole company
were equally excited lest the professor should press the Rabbin so
far as to mar the harmony of the occasion. It was beginning to be
painfully embarrassing, when the doctor discovered beside the
professor's plate a similar bill of fare equally well executed in
Greek, and the doctor begged leave to inquire of him, "What is the
difference between _artos_ (bread) and _azumos_ (biscuit), and in what
respect do the _tyrontes_ and _dolyres_ and _typhes_ and _placites_
and _melitutes_ differ?"

The professor became at once so confused as to put the whole company
and the Rabbin in particular in the best of humor and indeed in almost
uncontrollable laughter.

"And what, if you please," further inquired the great Hebrew, "were
those highly flavored _arto laganos_ and the _escarites_ which the
Epicureans are said to have relished so highly that they could devour
them even after the operation had become distressing?"

The professor's pale face had changed to the color of a lobster's
back, and those who had been so painfully perplexed by the
discomfiture of the doctor were now carried to the other extreme by
beholding him tear the weapon from his own flesh and hurl it with such
effect against the attacking party. Again the excitement was becoming
too exquisite for enjoyment. Nothing could have been more graceful
than the turn that was given to the conversation by the Rev. Mr.
Malcolm in sliding it off into a description of the Athenian matrons
and maidens vying with each other in the markets in the sale of their
seventy-two different kinds of bread and the conventional phrases
which they were accustomed to use. As Mr. Malcolm repeated the calls
with graceful and descriptive action, and the professor, who had
recovered his equanimity, interpreted readily, the whole company could
see in their mind's eye the girls and the matrons in the market of
Athens who more than seventeen hundred years ago had called aloud
their "_melitutes_ sweetened with the delicious honey of Mount
Hymettus, and _tyrontes_ made of flour baked with cheese." If there
was any lack of dignity in the reverend gentleman in his vivacious
description, or in the change of his voice to distinguish the girl
from the woman, it was credited to his sagacity and readiness to turn
a bold corner in order to efface the fear and apprehension that had
preceded. It also gave our professor an opportunity to translate what
a few moments before he had been too much confused to do.

Then came a glowing description of the venders of bread in ancient
Rome and of the manners of the Ædiles in their daily round among the
bakers and bread-stands. Here again Mr. Malcolm was exceedingly happy
in his imitations both of the manners of the Ædiles and their remarks
as they passed along, giving a _tableau vivant_ that was quite unique
and very descriptive and enjoyable.

The Right Reverend who was present made a historical reference to King
Numa, and in the same connection declared that bread-making was as old
as the human race. Malcolm smiled, and looked about so queerly that
one of our literary friends offered him a penny. He was evidently
confused, and seemed in doubt when another offered to make it

"I have always supposed," said Malcolm very modestly, "that the Romans
for five centuries were pultiphagists, and that Megalarte and
Megalomanze were the first bread-makers," and then, not a little to
the gratification of the professor, he quoted from an author whom the
professor had before then enjoyed alone, and whom some of the company
had thought to have been fictitious. He added that in Numa's time no
bread had been made, and he quoted again from some unheard-of
philosopher who declared that "invalids would become numerous in Rome
should they cease to be pultiphagists and become eaters of bread."

The countenance of the Right Reverend fell somewhat, and Malcolm and
the professor drew closer together, and for a while took the lead of
the conversation and in the entertainment of the company. The
professor seemed enraptured at finding so proficient a Latin and Greek
scholar, and one so familiar with the characters he had hitherto
monopolized. Archilus, Acestius, Stephanus and Phisistion were superb.
Mithaceus on Hotch-potch, Agis on Pickled Broom-buds, Hegesippus on
Black-pudding, Crito on Soused Mackerel, were joyously hit off in
turn, after which Malcolm began a description of the luxury of living
in Trajan's reign.

The greatest of all cooks, Apicius, was introduced as the author of
several of the dishes which had so graced the pending feast. Then
followed the brilliant kitcheners of Rome when foreign luxury was
introduced into the empire from Asia, and as the procession passed
along in grand review, some of the _bon mots_ of each were repeated,
followed by the hearty laugh of the guests. Of these Pantaleon,
Epiricus, Epenetus, Zophon, Chius, and Tyndaricus, whom Pliny styled
"the gulf of all youth," received the most attention.

Paulus Æmilius, whose three days' triumph in Rome was graced by the
captive monarch of Macedonia, came in for his share of honor for his
declaration that "there is equal skill in bringing an army into the
field and the setting forth of a feast, inasmuch as one is to annoy
your enemy and the other to please your friend."

Many instances of the great men of antiquity being engaged in
cooking were recited: the cook of Charlemagne was the leader of
his armies,--Patrocles, the geographer and governor of Syria under
Seleucus and Antiochus, peeled onions,--the heroic Ulysses roasted a
sirloin of beef,--the godlike Achilles washed cabbages,--Cincinnatus
boiled the turnips upon which he dined,--the great Condé fried
pancakes,--Curius Dentatus, who twice enjoyed the honors of a triumph,
was found cooking peas in an earthen pot.

Then followed a description of the luxury brought to Rome after the
conquest of Asia, with talk of the edicts of Archian, Faunian, Didian,
and others for its suppression,--the expense of a single meal being
limited by imperial mandate to _centenos asses_,--of the resistance
offered to these decrees by Durenius and others, and of bills of fare
(first introduced by Vitellius). Most of the company had heard enough
of this kind of conversation, and had turned their attention to the
professor, who seemed transported with delight, especially when
Malcolm quoted from Diocles on sweet-breads, Hicesius on potted
pigeons, and Dionysius on sugar sops.

From that day to the present time the professor has not ceased to
inquire with profound admiration for that accomplished gentleman and
ripe scholar and antiquarian, confidently expecting that he is yet to
honor some of the great universities of the Old World, or that he is
to be raised to some exalted position in the Church of England.

It would be very agreeable to the writer to be allowed to communicate
some of the hits and repartees which were tossed about the table, and
which are omitted because unnecessary to the question in hand. There
was, however, one other subject discussed which awakened a lively
interest and is appropriate to the sequence.

Mr. Malcolm started the inquiry whether it was consistent with the
highest virtue and religion for a lawyer to accept a retainer and to
act as counsel for a man accused of crime, when he knew or had
reasonable cause to believe his client guilty of the offence charged.
The lawyers, one and all, responded in the affirmative. Mr. Malcolm,
as if in doubt, contented himself with inquiries. The Right Reverend
and the Rabbin were decidedly opposed to the opinion of the bar. The
subject was well discussed, and the lawyers carried all before them.
All had given up the contest except the doctor, when Mr. Burchard
inquired of him if he believed in capital punishment, and, receiving
an affirmative nod, he proceeded: "You are aware that our laws require
of every practitioner before he becomes a member of the legal
profession that he shall take an oath that he will be faithful to his


"And that our statutes provide that the court shall assign counsel to
a criminal when he has not made that provision for himself?"


"And that the state at its own expense compels the attendance of the
witnesses for the accused; and you approve these laws?"


"And once more, would you prefer that the court should hang a man
accused of murder under a plea of guilty, or that the extreme penalty
of the law should be enforced after a full hearing, and proof to the
satisfaction of the jury beyond a reasonable doubt?"

After a moment's reflection the doctor replied that he should prefer
that the death penalty should be carried into effect _only_ after a
verdict of guilty and upon the fullest investigation, for, said he,
"it may be that the accused has a very imperfect knowledge as to what
constitutes the offence charged; or he may be mistaken as to his
duties and obligations; or, indeed, he may be laboring under a morbid
condition of mind, so as to desire that his life may be legally taken,
and I think I have known at least one such."

"Then," said Mr. Burchard, "have you not admitted so much as to make
untenable your position, namely, that you approve the law which
requires an attorney to be faithful to his client, the law which
assigns counsel to the accused, the law which compels the attendance
of the witnesses for the criminal at the expense of the state, and
provides that the accused shall be executed _only_ after the fullest
investigation? What is the object of these enactments? Undoubtedly the
interest of the state and not primarily of the criminal. The state in
its wisdom requires for its own safety, and lest it should commit the
crime and the blunder of hanging an innocent man, that the whole truth
should be known. How greatly would the government and jurisprudence
suffer if a guiltless man should be executed? When, therefore, a
lawyer assumes the defence of a known murderer he is complying with
the commands of the statutes and is serving the best interests of the
government when he compels the prosecuting officer to the proof of the
offence; and not only so, he is serving justice itself and not the
criminal only. Even the judges have no authority to punish, except
these provisions of law are complied with and the offence be proved.
Who has not heard of the indictment of the two Bournes in Vermont, and
of their having pleaded guilty to the crime of murder, for which they
were on the eve of being executed, when the supposed murdered man put
in his appearance? How much better would justice have appeared had
the defence been conducted by a tenacious, faithful, and conscientious
lawyer instead of being conducted in such a bungling manner that the
bones of a horse did duty for the bones of the supposed murdered man!
That case has done better duty as a bugbear for a century than any
other legal decision."

Mr. Burchard became quite warm, and made the assertion that he would
never take a retainer, and afterwards, no matter what knowledge he
should subsequently acquire, desert a client; and he doubted if a
conscientious lawyer had a moral right to refuse to defend a brother
mortal accused of crime. "For the refusal," said he, "proceeds upon
the ground taken by the doctor, which substantially is that no defence
ought to be made, but that sentence should be passed upon a real
criminal whether the crime can be proved or not. And I am at a loss to
discover how my friend the doctor can approve of the requirements of
the statutes which have been referred to, and yet assert that honest,
conscientious lawyers alone cannot comply with them."

Mr. Burchard, feeling that he had been somewhat more enthusiastic than
the occasion demanded, changed the subject in this wise:

"You all remember that a certain firm in Philadelphia made a special
deposit of eighteen thousand dollars in gold in the Trust Company, and
some expert thieves by means of a forged check obtained possession of
the money. The manner of accomplishing the feat was peculiar and was
most adroitly carried out. The thief drove so sharp a bargain for
funds current in New Orleans that the cashier's mind was diverted from
the genuineness of the check to the percentage of exchange to be
realized by the operation. Many propositions were made on both sides
which were not mutually satisfactory. At last the rogue told the
cashier that rather than submit to imposition he would take the gold,
and the eighteen thousand dollars were handed over to him in
twenty-dollar gold-pieces. The forgery was not discovered till
thirteen days after, when the depositor called for his special
deposit. Immediately detectives were employed. One of them you have
all seen. He is a personal friend of mine, and his ability in this
department surpasses Vidocq's as much as Vidocq's was superior to that
of an ordinary country constable. He judged, by an intuition that none
of us can comprehend, that these rogues had carried their plunder to
Baltimore, and thither he proceeded. For three months he prowled about
that city by night and by day, his mind intent upon the one object of
ascertaining some clew that should direct him to the discovery of the
robber. At the end of twelve weeks he had made no progress, and
returned to Philadelphia. There he continued some ten days, and became
discontented and vexed at being baffled. Asserting that he felt
certain that the thieves made Baltimore their head-quarters, he
proceeded thither again. After ten days' further search, one evening
as he was walking slowly past a newspaper-stand on the corner of a
street, he observed a boy who wore no hat purchase a New York _Herald_
and give in exchange a twenty-dollar gold-piece. He followed the lad
into a drinking-saloon in the rear of which was a gambling-room. He
soon ascertained the proprietor's name, and learned that his family
occupied the upper part of the house. He became acquainted with the
proprietor's wife, and found that she was sister to the wife of C. B.,
who was that year the president of the association of rogues, he
having been elected to that position at M. in the State of Indiana in
the month of August. He also learned that her father resided about
fifty miles from Baltimore. The detective was aware that this close
corporation of rascals had nine directors, and, knowing the position
of C. B. in the association and his connection with the proprietor of
the saloon, and understanding also the method of distribution, he
concluded that two thousand dollars fell in the division to C. B., and
a like amount to the proprietor of the saloon. He left the saloon at
midnight, and drove immediately to the residence of the father of the
proprietor's wife, and arrived there between nine and ten o'clock on
the following morning, meeting the old gentleman in his wagon between
his house and the main road, from which it was distant about half a
mile. The detective was also aware of a rule among these robbers, that
any considerable sum of money stolen, less ten per cent, should be
buried for two years; and, having ascertained only what has been above
related, he felt sure of the fact that the old gentleman was the
keeper of one ninth, at least, of the money stolen. He also felt
confident that he had gathered enough of the truth to make a powerful
impression upon the man he had gone so far to see, and that if he was
not altogether given over to the service of this band of bad men, he
could state facts enough, which the old gentleman knew were profound
secrets, to stagger his mind and arouse his conscience. After an
interview of less than an hour this detective, by an art of which we
cannot conceive, and by a magnetism and eloquence that no other man of
my acquaintance ever possessed a tithe of, actually induced the father
of these two women to dig up out of his garden two thousand dollars in
twenty-dollar gold-pieces and hand them over to--my friend Mr. Sidney,
_who sits at the other end of the table_. And not only so, but he
prevailed upon the old gentleman to go with him to Baltimore in
order to get possession of the other two thousand dollars held by
the proprietor of the aforesaid saloon, which he also actually
accomplished at a little inn about six miles from Baltimore, where the
saloon-keeper and his wife met her father and my friend.

"Yesterday in the Supreme Court I had occasion to avail myself of Mr.
Sidney's marvellous ability as an expert in handwriting. The case
turned entirely upon his testimony, although some twenty witnesses
testified on each side that they had seen the defendant write, and
that, in their opinion, the signature was or was not genuine. Mr.
Sidney did not arrive till the moment the case was about to be given
to the jury, and I had no opportunity of conversing with him, except
to ascertain that in his judgment the signature was not a forgery.

"After he took the witness-stand and had qualified himself as an
expert in handwriting, the note in suit was handed him, and he was
requested to state whether or not in his opinion the signature was
genuine. It was some minutes before he responded. During the latter
portion of the time of his silence his mind seemed intent upon
something else. The presiding judge inquired of him if he intended to
answer, when he replied:

"'I was considering the matter, not whether the signature was genuine,
but how I could convince the jury of the truth of what I have to say.
This signature is genuine. The man who wrote it is a moral and
religious man, and has therefore forgotten that he executed it. He is
aged forty-seven, stands five feet ten, is broad-shouldered,
full-favored, with muscular hands, thick, hard, and small; he is a
merchant and a bachelor, and finds it hard to give up when he has been
mistaken. I judge that the man who sits at the other end of the table
wrote his name to this note, and I think I can convince him of it, for
his honest face corresponds to the morality of the signature. The jury
will observe that the first letter of the name is written while the
quill pen was full of ink, which was almost exhausted on the second
letter and replenished on the third, and the operation is repeated
five times. I think, also, that the writer was in poor health, and his
muscles relaxed when he wrote his name. I am of the opinion,
therefore, that the signature was made while the writer was on his
back and the nib of the pen was higher than the tip.'

"At this point of the testimony the face of the defendant against
whose interest the witness was testifying became luminous, and he at
once rose and declared that the statement of the expert was the truth,
and that it had altogether passed from his mind till that moment.

"I hope now I shall have the pleasure of giving you such an
entertainment that you will remember it for your lifetime; and I know
whereof I affirm when I state that my friend here present will, one
hundred times in succession and without a mistake, from a single
specimen of the handwriting of an individual, give his age within two
years, his height within an inch, his weight within ten pounds, his
profession, whether married or single, his temperament and
peculiarities, his moral character, whether--"

Mr. Sidney was here observed to shake his head in a most determined

"Or if my friend," proceeded Mr. Burchard, "will give us the
characteristics of some of our neighbors who may be passing, this
company will be equally delighted and astonished, for I assert that
he will invariably hit off the peculiarity of a man from a single
glance better than any of us after ten years of intercourse and

Again Mr. Sidney shook his head, and the subject was not again
referred to.

At a late hour the company separated, each asserting that he had never
passed a more enjoyable evening.

The reader will understand that only fragments of the conversation are
here given, and only such and so much as bear upon the question at the
head of the article. The sparkle of the remainder might be somewhat
dimmed by a repetition, but so agreeable was the flow of soul, so
entertaining the wit, so electric the repartees, and so graceful the
turns in the conversation when the joke began to be too practical,
that the whole company, without reference to the compliment of the
host, declared to each other, as they met for months and years after,
that in their lifetime they had never realized such elegant luxury and
such unmitigated pleasure in an entertainment.

Mr. Sidney again and again endeavored to speak a word confidentially
to Mr. Burchard, but circumstances, and especially his devotion to
Malcolm, prevented.

Both Malcolm and Sidney were to take the night train for New York, and
the time of its departure was near at hand. At last Mr. Sidney bade
the host good-night, saying he should see him again before many days,
but hoped he would soon recover from the infirmity in his eyes. Mr.
Malcolm was the last to leave.

       *       *       *       *       *

Early on the following morning, while Mr. Burchard was at breakfast,
he received the following note:


     MY DEAR SIR,--After leaving your hospitable mansion last
     night, and while I was hastening to the station to take the
     night train for New York, I was accosted by two watchmen who
     arrested me, as they say, for burglary, and have detained me
     at the police station till now. In order that I may keep my
     appointment in New York, I have waived a preliminary
     examination before the magistrate, and desire you will
     become my bail, that I may be immediately released to the
     important duties devolving upon me elsewhere. Before many
     days the occasion of my haste will be ascertained, and that
     it had no reference to the watchmen; and the prosecution
     will be voluntarily _nol prosed_.

                    Your friend and servant,

Mr. Burchard dropped his cup, and without communicating with his wife,
hastened to the assistance of his relative, gave the required bail,
and released his friend to proceed on his journey, all the while
delighted with the thought that Winfield Burchard would sooner or
later be informed that his letter of introduction was of some real
value to his nephew.

Before his departure, Malcolm handed to Mr. Burchard a draft for one
thousand dollars, not to secure him as his bail, as he said, but as a
retainer for his defence should such a necessity ever arise, and Mr.
Malcolm added with a forced smile, "It is most singular that I, who
doubted the propriety, should so soon claim the benefit of your
declaration of your duty made last evening, to which I have so
suddenly become a convert, but I most devoutly trust that I may rely
upon your assistance at a time of so great humiliation and

To which Mr. Burchard replied that he should most gladly, to the
utmost of his ability, labor incessantly for his guest and relative,
but must insist that he should be left to do so of his own free will,
without reference to any pecuniary compensation, and out of the high
regard in which he held his friend and benefactor Winfield Burchard.

To which Malcolm responded, "It would be an accommodation to me if you
would take charge of the draft and collect the same and pass it to my
credit, for I prefer not to carry about my person so large an amount
of money."

The result was that Mr. Burchard retained the draft. He then proceeded
to the offices of several daily newspapers and suppressed the report
of the arrest, "for," said he to the editors, "by allowing it to
appear you will greatly injure the reputation of one of the most
pious and accomplished clergymen in the English Church, and I am fully
aware of the reason of his haste when overtaken by the watchmen, for
he had left my house but a few minutes before and was hastening to the
train when the real rogues ran past him."

There was one scurrilous little journal among the newspapers at whose
office Mr. Burchard neglected to call. In their next issue the
following appeared:

    "_Another Robbery._ About two o'clock last night the dwelling
    of W---- H. B---- on B---- Street was burglariously entered,
    and a considerable amount of silver plate, jewelry, and other
    valuables taken and carried away. The loss is estimated at
    two thousand five hundred dollars. The daughter of Mrs. B----
    heard the noise of the robbers as they left the house and
    gave the alarm. Two watchmen, who were in the immediate
    vicinity, gave chase, and one of the robbers, who gave his
    name as George Lathrop, not so swift of foot as the others,
    was overtaken and carried to the police station, where he
    waived an examination, gave the required bail of twelve
    thousand dollars, and is now at large. There were two other
    participators in the crime who outran the watchmen. Lathrop
    was observed to throw away something in his flight. A
    subsequent search discovered it to be a finely wrought mat of
    curious construction, the handiwork of Miss B----, which
    sufficiently identifies this one of the thieves with the
    transaction. The other two were subsequently arrested and
    held to bail in like amounts, but no part of the booty has
    yet been recovered. From the promptness with which bail was
    given, and the standing of the sureties, it would seem that
    these burglars are not only men of property, but are
    protected by men in high social position."

On reading the foregoing Mr. Burchard's indignation knew no bounds. He
blamed himself for not having recollected the existence of that
scurrilous journal, which now seemed more mean and contemptible than
ever. Those persons who understood how great a control Mr. Burchard
had over his passions could nevertheless see that an earthquake was
pent up in his bosom. He was almost beside himself with rage. When his
indignation had somewhat subsided his pride and high sense of honor
became equally disturbed. He feared that his guests of the previous
evening might hear of the matter, and identify Malcolm with George
Lathrop. Vexed almost beyond endurance, dejected and tormented almost
beyond the rallying-point, he went to his house bewildered, and threw
himself upon a lounge, and overcome by exhaustion fell asleep. When he
awoke it was evening. He rose from his couch, seated himself before a
bright wood fire, and looked intently into the coals. Snow was falling
softly upon the pavements till the tramp of passing travellers became
muffled and hushed. Maguire came into the library, and entered into
conversation with Mr. Burchard concerning the entertainment of the
previous evening, and finding that it was considered by him eminently
successful, begged Mr. Burchard to give him a certificate which would
secure him a similar place should anything ever occur by reason of
which he should relinquish his present position. Whereupon Mr.
Burchard turned to his writing-table and wrote as follows:

                         December, 1855.

     This is to certify that M. Maguire has resided in my family
     for eight years last past, and during all that period has
     conducted himself with the most perfect propriety, and has
     shown consummate skill as a kitchener, and in all matters
     pertaining to the order and etiquette of a feast has no
     superior, and I do cordially recommend him, in case he shall
     ever leave my employment, as an honest, upright, and
     faithful man, and worthy of my regard.

                         BERNON BURCHARD.

This he handed to Maguire with the remark that if it was not
sufficiently comprehensive he might dictate such an one as he desired
and he would sign it. Maguire, perceiving that his employer was not in
a talkative mood, quietly left the room. As he left, Mrs. Burchard
came into the library and sat down to talk over the dinner-party. Both
agreed that it was a great success, and that Maguire was a jewel. Mrs.
Burchard began to laugh, and then asked, "Did you observe that pickle,
my dear?"

"What about the pickle?"

"Why, the pickle which Mr. Malcolm took happened to have a cut nail
extending the full length of it. Now, my dear, do you suppose that
nail could have grown in the cucumber? Ha, ha! What an entertaining
man he is, and what a fund of anecdote, and how well he tells a story;
and yet I don't fancy him. Those bills of fare in Hebrew, Greek, and
Latin, how did--"

The door-bell rang and Mr. Sidney was announced. "Thank God!"
exclaimed Mr. Burchard. So rejoiced was he that his whole frame
trembled with emotion and tears trickled down his face. Grasping his
hand with both his own, he asked, "You received my telegram, then?"


"Then what brought you here so soon?"

Mrs. Burchard perceiving the conversation was not free in her
presence, quietly left the room, when Mr. Sidney assumed a grave
demeanor and said: "Mr. Burchard, I have always believed you eminently
an honorable and honest man, and do so still. Do you grant this of

"Yes, but if you did not receive my telegram, what brought you here
to-night, for I am aware of the necessity you are under to be

"I told you I should soon return," said Mr. Sidney, "for I feared that
you might compromise yourself to an unpardonable degree with the
scamps by whom you have been surrounded, and the thought of it so
weighed upon my mind that when I met the train at New Haven bound
eastward I determined to come again to you and inform you of your

"I am not aware that I am in any peril."

"If you were aware of it you would be safe, and your lack of knowledge
is the reason of my return."

"Have you any information of what has transpired since last evening?"
inquired Mr. Burchard.

"None, whatever."

"Then unburden yourself with the least possible delay, for I have been
so harassed and tormented during this day as almost to be overwhelmed;
and as you are aware that I hold your judgment in these matters akin
to prophecy, I beg you will proceed, for I have pondered over and over
again your meaning when you compared me, both at the beginning and
ending of the company, to Bartimeus."

"First," said Mr. Sidney, "I wish you to understand that I have never
before last night seen or heard of the two or three persons concerning
whom I propose to speak, and I feel that I ought first to have your
permission to say all that is in my mind, for it comes nearer home to
you than you suppose."

"You have it; go on."

"If it be true that the heart of a man changeth his countenance, then
it is absolutely certain to my mind that your clergyman is the most
unmitigated scamp, and it may, with propriety, be said that he has no
conscience at all, so perverted has it become. He is a gambler by
profession, and a passer of counterfeit money, but his business is
burglary. He has followed it for years, and had his mind not been on
it for years, he could not have become so perfect in his craft. The
one great quality demanded by his business is _patience_, and he has
attained it. The most remarkable thing about him is his assurance. I
never knew an instance of so bad a man having the audacity to appear
in the company of gentlemen of refinement, and to say grace with a
voice that had no heart in it. It is usually the last place that those
of his craft seek, and I cannot yet comprehend how he wheedled you."

Mr. Burchard explained, as has been previously stated.

"And that Maguire of yours is as bad a woman as walks the earth."

"Woman!" exclaimed Mr. Burchard; "for eight years he has been one of
the most faithful servants and upright men I ever knew."

"_Now, Mr. Burchard!_" said Mr. Sidney, looking him straight in the
eye, "do you mean to tell me that you don't know Maguire is a woman?"

"I surely do not so suspect even."

"Then the blindness of Bartimeus was nothing to yours. Has she any
beard? Has she a man's voice? Has she the figure of a man? Does she
make any motions of body or limb like a man? Surely not. She is a
woman, and has consummate art, more than any woman I ever saw save
one. She consorts continually with thieves and robbers, and if you do
not suspect it you ought to know it, and that is what has brought me
here. Your house is on fire of hell, and you do not seem to apprehend
it. Did you not notice at the table that she spilled some wine on the
Reverend (?) Mr. Malcolm's head and white cravat, and do you suppose
it was accidental? No, sir, they are better acquainted than you and I,
for he did not start when it was done, but was conscious who did it.
When I entered your drawing-room and saw you standing between these
two graceless villains, I looked around me in order to ascertain how
many of that stripe were present, and finding but one other, I
concluded you had been imposed upon and that I would improve the
opportunity to study human nature. I _should_ like to be informed how
it came to pass that that reverend state's-prison bird obtained an
invitation from you."

Mr. Burchard explained the method of the introduction by a letter from
his kinsman in England, as before stated.

"Have you the letter?"

The letter being produced, after a moment's examination he said: "Very
well done. _Very_ well done. He is better at that than I supposed, yet
many of the letters show more than one stroke of the pen. He is an
Englishman, but learned to write in Germany. He was once a cook. He
does not write Malcolm as if used to it, and that is an assumed name.
Great nerve, assurance, self-reliance, and patience. Is fond of
children. Has more conceit than his manners indicate, kind-hearted man
and even generous in his way, but has no notion of truth or morals.
Should say he had spent much of his time in Baden Baden and other like
places. Is good at gambling, but burglary is his _forte_. Ah! yes,
this specimen of his handwriting, if it is disguised, tells the whole
story of his life. That was a pretty crowd, was it not? for me to show
off, too, that I could read their characters in their faces."

"Is it possible?" soliloquized Mr. Burchard, "and my admirable Maguire
his accomplice!"

Mr. Sidney asked for the last letters which he had received from
Winfield Burchard, in order to compare the two, but examining his
portfolio, all were gone.

Mr. Burchard then stated to Mr. Sidney what had transpired during the
day,--Malcolm's arrest, the giving of bail, the suppression of the
report in the newspapers, and the report which appeared in one of the
journals, his acceptance of the draft of one thousand dollars, and
some other particulars, when Mr. Sidney said,--

"Why were your eyes not opened by the fact that Malcolm did not give
the same name to the watchmen as to you? That is an offence against
the statute, and you know it, and an honest man, whether clergyman or
boot-black, never descends to that. Besides, the robbery was
committed, according to this account, more than an hour after the
night train had gone to which your supposed relative was hastening.
That mat also should have convinced you; and what an adept he was to
have known enough of the forms of law to have waived a preliminary
examination and to have secured you as bail before you had recovered
from your dream! He managed well to get your opinion last night of the
duty of lawyers to defend rogues. Mr. Burchard, you are harnessed. You
must now defend that rascal. Your mouth is closed, you have pocketed a
retainer. A thousand dollars' fee does not indicate light work, but
seems to imply a strain upon your conscience. I once heard the
ex-secretary of President Harrison's Cabinet decline a like amount
because it implied too much for his honor."

Mr. Sidney touched a sensitive place. If Mr. Burchard had any
reputation or quality as a lawyer, it was for his unsullied integrity
and keen sense of honor. The ability of Mr. Sidney in his department
had not brought that comfort which Mr. Burchard had hoped for. His
distress of mind was so great that Mr. Sidney judged he had gone
beyond the limit of safety, and he quoted, "'Faithful are the wounds
of a friend.' As your friend I open to your view the peril from which
it is your duty to escape. If you are involved, extricate yourself
with honor if you can, and if you cannot, then do no more than honor

A long pause ensued. At length Mr. Burchard broke the silence by
inquiring what evidence there was that Maguire was criminal.

"Because she gets the information for Malcolm, and draws plans of the
houses which he intends to rob, and locates every piece of furniture
in them so that he can enter the house and go through darkness to his
objective point. He passes half his nights in her room. There the
schemes are matured, and if you think her less criminal than Malcolm,
you are welcome to your opinion."

"But what information can you give me upon which I can act?"

"She has deceived you in passing herself off as a man. She is in
fellowship with Malcolm, while it is for her interest to be faithful
to you, for by reason of being your man she has access to those houses
which may be presumed to be profitable in the plundering. I cannot
tell you any particular thing she has done, but I can send a message
to the back door by reason of which she will fly from your house and
never again show you her face."

"What message will you send?"

"I will write on a card these words, 'All is known, detectives are

"Do it," said Mr. Burchard, "and if he is honest he will show it to me
and ask advice, and we will see if he will fly."

The card was delivered, no commotion followed. She was not seen to
escape, though watch was set for the purpose. Search was made for her
in vain. From the appearance of her room it was evident she had fled.
It was months before she was heard from, and then the inquiry came
from the chief of police in a Western city, "Did Mary Maguire, alias
Sonsie Jane, alias Wily Mary, ever reside with Bernon Burchard? Is his
certificate genuine?"

In the mean time Mr. Burchard was intensely excited by conflicting
emotions and the discussion within himself concerning his duty. Could
he retain the money and give information to the police? No. Did the
fraud of Malcolm vitiate his obligation to him? In some particulars,
but not in all. Did his oath to be faithful to his client prevent him
from withdrawing from the case till at least he had returned what he
had received? Yes; but how could he return it, since it was doubtful
if Malcolm would ever again appear?

Before Mr. Sidney left town it was arranged that he should ascertain
the whereabouts of Malcolm if possible, and, as the attorney of Mr.
Burchard as bail, bring him hither at all hazards, and confine him in
jail to await his trial or till he should procure other securities.
Mr. Sidney stipulated that Mr. Burchard should not on any account
telegraph to him or any other person upon the subject, because that
the telegram would certainly reach Malcolm, if he was a chief member
of a gang of villians, before it did him or the person to whom it
should be addressed. This injunction, however, escaped the mind of Mr.
Burchard. As the time for Malcolm's trial drew near, he, Mr. Burchard,
became nervous and care-worn. Learning through a New York detective
that Malcolm was in that city, he at once telegraphed to his attorney
there to seek out the detective and have Malcolm arrested.

The writer of this article, who was then aware that some great trouble
shrouded the mind of Mr. Burchard, without knowing what it was,
happened to be conversing with him on the street near his office door
when the answer to the telegram arrived, and had the opportunity of
reading it all except the signature. Before the message had been
delivered to the attorney in New York, the answer came from Malcolm at
New Orleans, printed upon a long strip of paper as follows:

                         "NEW ORLEANS, March --, 1856.

     "I never disappoint my bail. My thoughts on awful subjects
     roll, damnation and the dead, what horrors seize the guilty
     soul upon a dying bed. Lingering about these mortal shores
     she makes a long delay, till like a flood with rapid force,
     death sweeps the wretch away. Good for Doctor Watts. I have
     three weeks yet to spare."

How it was signed I am not aware. The envelope was marked "paid

On the afternoon previous to the sitting of the court at which Malcolm
was under bail to appear, he unexpectedly presented himself at Mr.
Burchard's office. The conflicting emotions in Mr. Burchard's breast
upon beholding him can well be imagined. Indignation for the
imposition and forgery was most apparent. Vengeance was secondary,
tempered by the fact that he had made his appearance, although not
yet safe in jail. His soul burst forth in a holy horror of a man
apparently incapable of entertaining a moral sentiment, and so brazen
as not to appreciate his guilt. His presence so exasperated Mr.
Burchard that he rushed toward the door without any definite intention
but to be rid of his visitor. Malcolm calmly placed his back against
the closed door and said very coolly: "All this indignation is well
enough before a jury, Mr. Burchard, and I read in your countenance
what is passing in your mind, but it is wise to take men as they are
and the world as it is, and not as it should be. I meet you to-day on
equal terms. You claim something of me, and I of you. If you are a man
of honor, fulfil your contract. If you are a sneak, do as I should
have done had I forfeited my bail. I have shown the estimate I put
upon my duty by appearing to discharge you as my bail in the face of
the indignity I have put upon you, and knowing full well what I was to
encounter. Show half my pluck and it will serve you well. I am not yet
your prisoner, and by the Eternal! I will not be till to-morrow, when
I shall be content with that position. On your peril answer me. Will
you fulfil your agreement? Will you be a man or a knave?"

Mr. Burchard answered not, but saw the desperate nature of the man
with whom he had to deal, and that he was provided with weapons with
which to enforce his argument. Malcolm proceeded, "I never was and
never will be a sneak. I am bound by honor as well as you. You are a
lawyer, and a good one. I am a burglar, sir, and am not ashamed of my
jobs. You exalt your profession, and so do I mine. Business is
business, and mine is as honorable as yours. Think you I am less
public-spirited than you? Think you I love my wife and children less
than you? Come, come, Mr. Burchard; down from your perch! You are a
man of principle. I am no sardine. You have taken my money, and you
cannot return it if you would, for the bankers upon whom it was drawn
have failed, and the draft has not been presented and is your loss. I
know what you would like to say. It is true I used dissimulation and
procured an invitation to your dinner-party, and here is Winfield
Burchard's letter to you (presenting it), whose handwriting I
imitated; but it was all in my line. I laid a bet I could do it, and
that draft was just the sum I won. Bristol Bill pays up like gentle
folks, but then he didn't know my opportunities. What possessed you to
dismiss Maguire? but no matter; that is all gone by. During the last
eight years I have passed at least six hundred nights in your house,
and have been very frequently in your sleeping-room, and have heard
your confidential talk with your wife. Doubt it, do you? Yes, your
door _was_ always bolted on the inside, and no other one opened into
your chamber, but I can tell you conversations you had with your wife,
which will convince you. Do you remember one night when your wife
became nervous and fell to crying lest the pain she felt in her breast
should prove to be a cancer, and you told her that you would go to
Boston with her and consult Dr. Jackson and ask Dr. P. to go with you?
Do, eh? And do you remember one night when your niece slept upon the
sofa in your room? I had no idea she was there, and needlessly waked
her. She screamed, and while you was attending to her fright I slipped
out and didn't leave your door bolted. I heard you tell her she was

"And do you remember one night telling your wife that you could not
imagine how three cigars got out of a new box you had opened the night
before? Those cigars were the only things that either Maguire or I
ever took from your house.

"I will make you this proposition, and if you will accept it you will
do well. By the night train my two accomplices in that job will
arrive. I don't intend to be shut up till they come. I will pay for
six men to sit up with me here to-night in this office, and you shall
select them, and in the morning I will pay their fees and go to jail."

The proposition was accepted, and the chief of police furnished the

During that night Mr. Burchard's office was the scene of strange
revelations. Malcolm furnished money to one of the officers, who
brought in a basket of champagne, and ordered a supper at one o'clock
in the morning, to be the most complete that money could buy and the
city furnish. The officers were at liberty to invite in their friends
who were reliable. Malcolm distributed to each of his keepers five
times the sum of money agreed upon for their wages, and demanded of
them a faithful performance of their duty. Some thirty had entered the
office, and the door was closed and not to be opened on any account
till supper was announced. Malcolm had sent to a neighboring
bookstore, and obtained one pack of every edition of playing cards
there kept for sale. Some forty packs with different backs were piled
up at one end of the table. Malcolm invited some one to take a hand of
euchre with him. The captain, who was considered the most expert
player, took a chair at the corner of the table, and the rest were to
observe the game, but say nothing which they should discover till the
game was over. Malcolm took one of the packs from the envelope and
said, "This edition was gotten up by Count ---- at ----, and with it
he played twenty-one nights and won ---- thousand dollars before the
markings were discovered. Cut the cards if you please, and mind, if
you can, that the ten of spades is not turned." The cards were dealt
and the ten of spades was turned. The two bowers and two aces were
given to the captain, who ordered up the ten.

"Now, captain, I have given you the bowers and two aces, and yet you
are euchred." And so it was. Malcolm inquired if any one perceived how
it was done, and, receiving a negative reply, said, "Very well, he
shall do precisely the same thing, and see then if you detect the
method. I will cut for a ten to be turned and order it up, and you
will observe."

Almost the same cards were put into Malcolm's hand, as had been put
into the captain's.

"Now," said Malcolm, "I order it up, and will make one," and so it

"Did any of you see how that was done?"

None could detect. The cards were again shuffled by a looker-on. It
was Malcolm's deal.

"I must not make too often. This time you shall march. You see I have
given you three trumps and a king and an ace of another suit." And so
it was.

The cards were shuffled again. "You must make one this time." And so
it was.

"Now," said Malcolm, "please say whether I shall make one, or lose
one, or go out."

It was the captain's deal, and the company requested Malcolm to go out
if he could.

"Very well then, I cut a bower; the left is next above it as they fell
into the last hand, and so will not be out."

Malcolm ordered up a queen, took it out with a king, and made three
low clubs and won the game.

"Let's take another pack while these gimlet-eyed fellows hunt up the
markings. This edition was gotten up by Sunderland for a high-low-jack
pack, and was read the first night. The profession never use it, the
marks are so apparent. Try it once at all-fours."

The cards were dealt by the captain, and Malcolm said, "I will stand,
although I have but one trump, for you have none." And Malcolm made
three points.

"Had you detected the manipulation, I should have lost and you would
have made three.

"Try another pack. This had a run of three months before it was
detected. It is well executed, and only the most sagacious and
quick-sighted are never mistaken in the cards. There is not an edition
of cards that I cannot read as well by seeing one side as the other.
No pack was ever edited in fairness to both parties. A man is a fool
who will get out such an edition. I carried two new ones to the B----
house in London, and won thirteen nights with them."

One of the company who had been out and returned, produced a pack with
plain backs, and asked triumphantly if Mr. Malcolm would please to
read them by the backs.

"This edition," said Malcolm, "was gotten up in Edinburgh by an
Irishman named Mulligan, and was popular for a while, but when he won
every night with it suspicions were aroused, and finally a boy twelve
years old deciphered it. I can tell each card across the room." And he

And so the entertainment went on, Malcolm winning every game till
supper was served; not one of the company detecting how it was done.

"Now, boys," said Malcolm "this is my treat, and please enjoy
yourselves, for I shall expect you all to be in court when my case is
tried, to laugh on my side. Lawyers don't understand the value of a
chuckle in swaying a jury in a doubtful case. Lay to. 'The art of
cookery,' says Henry Cornelius Agrippa, 'is very useful if not
dishonest.' My appetite is good, and I trust you are all likewise
minded, for Beaumont and Fletcher say, 'What an excellent thing God
did bestow upon man when he gave him a good appetite. Mine is almost
equal to that of Erisichthon described by Ovid,--

     'Thus Erisichthon's profane chops devour
     All sorts of food: in him food is the cause
     Of hunger: and he will employ his jaws
     To whet his appetite.'

"'Tis said that Maximus, the Emperor who succeeded Alexander Memneaus,
consumed forty pounds of flesh in one day, and drank an amphora of
wine containing forty-eight quarts.

"Waiter, pass your wines. No blue ruin or heavy wet. In the days of
the great Cæsar all feasts began with eggs and ended with fruits,
cream and apples; hence the proverb, _ab avo usque ad mala_, and the
man who did not crush his eggshell or put his folded napkin on his
left knee, was considered a fool. As we have not eggs we will do our
best with the napkins. No melancholy subjects at this table. So here's
luck." And all drank a bumper.

"Did you ever hear how Pope Julius III. became enraged against his
cook for not having saved him a cold peacock for supper, and how he
began to blaspheme? Whereupon one of his cardinals said to him, 'Let
not your Holiness be so moved with a matter of so little weight.'
'What!' said the pope, 'if God was so angry for one apple that he cast
our first parents out of Paradise, why may not I, his vicar, be angry
for a peacock, sithers a peacock is greater than an apple?'

"The oysters from Tarentum, so prized by one of the Cæsars, I forget
which, were not to be compared to these. Captain, take a hand at them.
Let me give you a song."

And with a sweet melodious voice and a Scotch accent, he sang Burns's
Ode on the Haggis.

     "'Fair, fa' your honest, sonsie face,
     Great chieftain o' the pudding race:
     Aboon them a' ye tak your place,
         Paunch, tripe, or thairm;
     Weel are ye worthy o' a grace
         As lang's my arm.'

"This bird is excellent; whoever cooked it,

                       'His name should be enrolled
     In Estcourt's book, whose gridiron's framed of gold.'

"Help yourselves, gentlemen, digestion is the business of the stomach,
and indigestion that of the physicians. It is better to dine late, for
one can then concentrate all his thoughts upon his plate, forget
business, and only think of eating and drinking and going to bed. Ha,
ha! I should have omitted the bed in quoting from the gourmands, for
they would rather fast than be obliged to eat a good dinner in a
hurry. Five hours is little enough, provided Mr. Burchard shall not in
the mean time appear and drive us away.

"This venison is delicious; none was ever better served. The Roman
Senators debated the question how a turbot should be cooked, and the
author of this dish deserves a place among such.

"Montmaur is reported to have said that Easter and Christmas were the
two best days in the year. Easter because it was farthest from Lent,
and Christmas because then you breakfasted at midnight. Who says this
is not equal to Montmaur's Christmas breakfast?"

This sort of banter, interspersed with songs and stories, was kept up
till a late hour, when all of a sudden the keepers awoke to the fact
that Malcolm had flown. The visitors laughed heartily. The company
dispersed, not standing upon the order of their going. The table was
cleared, and the office put in order. Only one of the keepers
remained, who resembled in appearance a cat that had played with her
mouse and lost it; the others were out looking for Malcolm. At an
early hour in the morning he returned, and seating himself at Mr.
Burchard's desk, wrote him this note:

     MR. BURCHARD,--

    I trust I did not disturb your repose. I found, this morning,
    in your safe in your house this pretty little casket sent
    you from your English namesake. I have seen it often before,
    but wanted another squint at it, and I have brought it to
    your office lest some burglar might steal it from your house.
    I noticed your wife's watch lying around loose in your
    sleeping-room, which is of no great value--to me,--and I
    contented myself with the charms, which I will put into your
    steel chest, here in the office, for safe keeping against the
    time of my need. The putting a yoke on the keys of your door,
    so I could not turn them with the nippers, was all useless.
    The chair poised against your sleeping-room door gave me a
    deal of trouble, and I could not put it back as I found it.
    Please excuse me. The thread on the stairs attached to an
    alarm-bell might as well have been omitted. The old-fashioned
    fork against the bolt I put back as I found it, and came out
    by the dining-room window. Your portfolio you will find
    between the beds on which you were sleeping. It took me half
    an hour to make you turn over so I could do it. George Waters
    is my counsel, to whom I have committed my case. He will
    arrange the evidence. Unless you eat your own words, you will
    sit beside him and ask the jury if they believe the case is
    made out beyond a reasonable doubt, for I know better than
    you the weight of your character. I shall be in jail by


At the bottom of the note was a well-drawn hand with spread fingers
at the end of a man's nose.

When all the officers had returned, dropping in one by one, towards
morning, they were somewhat surprised and relieved upon beholding
Malcolm. He informed them that it would be all right if they would all
appear at his trial and laugh for him.

At the trial, Mr. Burchard, care-worn and nervous, made his
appearance. Mr. Waters conducted the testimony for the defence. Mr.
Burchard inquired of him what testimony Malcolm relied upon, and was
answered that no testimony whatever was to be introduced, but he would
rely altogether upon the lack of testimony on the part of the
government. A cold shiver ran down Burchard's backbone. The question
of guilty or not guilty turned upon the identity of the mat previously
spoken of, which, it was asserted, Malcolm threw away as he ran. The
watchman testified positively to the fact, but it was in the night,
and he might have been mistaken. Mr. W. H. B. testified generally as
to the robbery, and recognized the mat as probably the one made by his
daughter, although he could not positively make oath to the fact. As
the case turned upon the testimony of Miss B., I give the whole of the

_Question by Mr. Waters._ You have said that you _know_ this mat to
    have been the work of your own hands, and that you made it
    for a particular purpose. If you please, what was that

    _Answer._ I had presented me on Christmas a fine statuette
    of Samuel, which I admired so much that I worked this mat
    with great care upon which to place it.

    _Q._ And did you work it from a pattern?

    _A._ Yes, sir.

    _Q._ And have you ever seen others like it?

    _A._ Yes, sir, three, but not in this city.

    _Q._ And where did you get the pattern?

    _A._ From a friend in Philadelphia.

    _Q._ Now, if you have seen other mats like this, how do you
    know, of your own knowledge, that this is not some other
    lady's work?

    _A._ I know it is my work because the centre portion of the
    mat was left plain, which centre is exactly the size of the
    base of my statuette.

    _Q._ Is there any other reason which you can give?

    _A._ I know it looks like my mat.

    _Q._ Certainly, but would it not look like your mat if it had
    been wrought by another lady?

    _A._ Perhaps so.

    _Q._ You say _perhaps_ so; would it not certainly so look?

    _A._ I think it would.

    _Q._ Have you the statuette now?

    _A._ Yes, sir, it is at our house.

At this point of the trial the statuette was sent for and brought into
court by the father of the witness. Mr. Waters took it into his
possession. Considerable discussion arose when the prosecuting
attorney insisted upon being allowed to examine it. Mr. Waters became
almost violent, and declared he would smash the image rather than be
so imposed upon. He was cross-examining the witness with no testimony
for the accused, and he insisted upon his rights without interruption.
The court ruled in Mr. Waters's favor. He, holding the statuette by
the base, walked up to Miss B., and inquired of her if she recognized
it as her own.

    _A._ I certainly do.

    _Q._ And how do you know it is certainly your own?

    _A._ It is just like mine.

    _Q._ But are there not other copies so like it as that you
    cannot tell the difference, nor one from the others?

    _A._ Yes.

    _Q._ How then can you say for a certainty that this is yours?

    _A._ Because my father has just brought it from our house,
    and I saw him go for it and return with it. I can give no
    better reason.

    _Q._ Can you say of your own knowledge, from an examination
    of the image, that it is yours?

    _A._ No, sir.

    _Q._ Have you any more reliable knowledge concerning the mat
    being yours?

    _A._ Yes, for the space in the middle was made expressly to
    fit the base of the statuette.

    _Q._ And are you willing to risk your testimony upon that
    fact alone?

    _A._ I am.

The mat and the statuette were then shown the witness and the jury,
and the base of the statuette overlapped the plain surface in the
centre of the mat half an inch. The witness became faint, and was
carried into the lobby. The jury, without leaving their seats,
rendered a verdict of NOT GUILTY.

The captain feasted Malcolm that night, and obtained from him the
secret of his defence. Maguire, as a woman, had procured the situation
of cook in the house of Mr. W. H. B., and had substituted for the
original Samuel another, altogether similar, except that its base was
half an inch larger.

The captain further inquired what had been Malcolm's occupation in
early life, and how he had acquired so much knowledge of the gourmands
and feasts.

"I was cook at Baden Baden," said Malcolm, "at the B---- House. There
I met Count S., who took a fancy to me. I served also at the tables,
after that as waiter in the house, and keeping an eye open I was a
great help to the Count. He knew everything about the table, kitchen,
and the larder, and I remembered what he used to repeat night after
night, when a year or two ago I found Dick Humelbergius's book upon
the art of never breakfasting at home and always dining abroad. I
found everything recorded there, and that is pretty much the only book
I ever read. I can quote Latin, and know where to put it in, but what
the ---- the meaning of it is, I have no notion."

"Allow me further to inquire by what process or contrivance you can
slide a bolt on the opposite side of the door?"

"I paid $3500 for that information, and don't propose to part with

"Then advise me what is best for me to do when I find a burglar in my
sleeping-room in the night time?"

"Do nothing, sir, unless you are hunting up a graveyard. We never
desire to maim or kill, but we can. I should be poorly provided or
skilled if I was not ready for such emergencies. As soon as the
burglar leaves your room, rise and light the gas, and he will trouble
you no more."

"One other question. Did you rob and then burn the Jenks house?"

"That is not a question to be answered, but I will say that I have a
drawing of the house and the location of every piece of furniture in
it, which is perfect."

To this day, only two of the persons who were present at the
dinner-party are aware of the history of the two worthies, the
Reverend Mr. Malcolm of Oxford and Maguire the butler of Mr. Bernon



_Harper's Magazine, June, 1883._

Never did anything seem fresher and sweeter than the plateau on which
we emerged in the early sunset, after defiling all day through the
dark deep mountain-sides in the rain.

We had promised Rhoda to assault her winter fastness whenever she
should summon us; and now, in obedience to her message, a gay party of
us had left the railway, and had driven, sometimes in slushy snow and
sometimes on bare ground, up the old mountain-road, laughing and
singing and jangling our bells, till at length the great bare woods,
lifting their line forever before us and above us, gave place to bald
black mountain-sides, whose oppressive gloom and silence stifled
everything but a longing to escape from between them, and from the
possible dangers in crossing bridges, and fording streams swollen by
the fortnight's thaws and rains. Now and then the stillness resolved
itself into the murmuring of bare sprays, the rustling of rain, the
dancing of innumerable unfettered brooks glittering with motion, but
without light, from the dusky depths; now and then a ghastly lustre
shot from the ice still hanging like a glacier upon some upper steep,
or a strange gleam from the sodden snow on their floors lightened the
roofs of the leafless forests that overlapped the chasms, and trailed
their twisted roots like shapes of living horror. What was there, I
wondered, so darkly familiar in it all? in what nightmare had I
dreamed it all before? Long ere the journey's end our spirits became
dead as last night's wine; we shared the depression of all nature, and
felt as if we had come out of chaos and the end of all things when the
huge mountain gates closed behind us, and we dashed out on the plateau
where the grass, from which the wintry wrapping had been washed, had
not lost all its greenness, and in the sudden lifting of the
rain-cloud a red sparkle of sunset lighted the windows, as if a
hundred flambeaux had been kindled to greet us.

A huge fire burned in the fireplace of the drawing-room when we had
mounted the stairs and crossed the great hall, where other fires were
blazing and sending ruddy flames to skim among the cedar rafters; and
all that part of the house sacred to Colonel Vorse, and opened now the
first time in many winters, was thoroughly warm and cheerful with
lights and flowers and rugs and easy-chairs and books. We might
easily have fancied ourselves, that night, in those spacious rooms,
when, toilets made and dinner over, we re-assembled around the solid
glow of the chimney logs, a modern party in some old mediæval chamber,
all the more for the spirit of the scene outside, where the storm was
telling its rede again, rain changing to snow, and a cruel blast
keening round the many gables and screaming down the chimneys. After
all, Rhoda's and Merivale's plan of having us in the hills before
late-lingering winter should be quite gone, and doing a little Sintram
business with skates and wolves and hill visions, should have been
carried out earlier. To them it was all but little less novel than it
was to me, and Rhoda, who, although a year or two my junior, had been
my intimate, so far as I ever had an intimate, would not rest till she
had devised this party, without which she knew she could not have me,
even persuading our good old Dr. Devens to leave his pulpit and
people, and stamp the proceeding with his immaculate respectability.
As it was, however, it looked as though we were simply to be shut in
by a week of storm following the thaw. Well, there are compensations
in all things: perhaps two people in whom I had some interest would
know each other a trifle better before the week ended then.

The place was really the home of Rhoda and Merivale, or was now to
become so. Colonel Vorse, their father, who had married so young that
he felt but little older than they, and was quite their companion,
was still the owner of the vast summer hostelry, although no longer
its manager. After accumulating his fortune he had taken his children
about the world, educating them and himself at the same time, with now
an object lesson in Germany and now another in Peru, and finally
returning to this place, which, so far as we could see, was absolute
desolation, without a neighbor, but which to him was bristling with
memories and associations and old friends across the intervale and
over the mountain and round the spur. There was something weird to me,
as I looked out at the flying whiteness of the moonlit storm, in those
acquaintances of his among the hollows of these pallid hills; it
seemed as though they must partake of the coldness and whiteness, and
as if they were only dead people, when all was said. Perhaps Dr.
Devens, who half the way up had been quoting,

                   "Pavilioned high, he sits
     In darkness from excessive splendor born,"

had another phase of the same feeling. I heard him saying, as I passed
him five minutes before, where he sat astride a chair in front of the
long oriel casement: "There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which
the vulture's eye hath not seen: the lion's whelps have not trodden
it, nor the fierce lion passed by it. He putteth forth his hand upon
the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots. He cutteth out
rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing. He
bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid
bringeth he forth to light." He is expecting a convulsion of nature, I
remember thinking, as I went by and paused at another window myself. A
convulsion of nature! I fancy that he found it.

"There is something eerie here," I said, as I still gazed at the
scene; for the dim gigantic shapes of the hills rose round us like
sheeted ghosts, while the flying scud of the storm, filled with the
white diffusion of unseen light, every now and then opened to let the
glimpses out. "And see the witch-fires," as the rosy reflections of
our burning logs and lights danced on the whirling snow without. "Is
there anything wanting to make us feel as if we had been caught here
by some spell, and were to be held by some charm?"

"I wish I knew the charm," said Colonel Vorse, by my side, and half
under his breath. And then I felt a little angrier with myself for
coming than I had felt before.

"I often hear you talking of your belief in certain telluric forces
that must have most power among the mountains where they first had
play, and where earth is not only beneath, but is above you and around
you. Well, we are here in the stronghold of these telluric forces. I
am their old friend and ally: let me see what they will do for me."

It was true. And I half shivered with an indefinite fear that I might
be compelled, in spite of all wish and prejudice, and birthright--I,
the child of proud old colonial grandees of the South; he, the son of
a mountain farmer, who had married a mate of his own degree, and had
kept a mountain inn till fortune found him and death took her. My
father at least was the child of those proud old colonials, and I had
lived with his people and been reared on their traditions. Who my
mother was I never knew; for my father had married her in some
romantic fashion--a runaway match--and she had died at my birth, and
he had shortly followed her. I had nothing that belonged to her but
the half of a broken miniature my father had once painted of her, as I
understood. I always wore it, with I know not what secret sentiment,
but I showed it to nobody. I had sometimes wondered about the other
half, but my life had not left me much time for sentiment or
wonder--full of gayety till my grandfather's death left me homeless;
full of gayety since his friend Mrs. Montresor had adopted me for
child and companion, subject to her kind whims and tyrannies. But if
she took me here and took me there, and clad me like a princess, I was
none the less aware of the fact that I was without a penny--morbidly
aware of it without doubt. But it disposed me to look with favor on no
rich man's suit, and the lover as penniless as I and as fine as my
ideal lover had not yet appeared. It made me almost hate the face and
form, the color, the hair, that they dared to call Titianesque, speak
of as if it were the free booty of pigment and canvas, and wish to
drag captive in the golden chains of their wealth. When I had met
Colonel Vorse, a year ago, twice my age though he was, he was the
first one I had wished as poor as I--he the plebeian newly rich. Yet
not so newly rich was he that he had not had time to become used to
his riches, to see the kingdoms of the earth and weigh them in his
balance, to serve his country on the battle-field, and his State in
the council-chamber; and, for the rest, contact with the world is
sadly educating.

"I often look at Colonel Vorse among the men born in the purple," said
Mrs. Montresor once--she thought people born in the purple were simply
those who had never earned their living--"and he is the superior of
them all. What a country it is where a man keeping a common tavern in
the first half of his life may make himself the equal of sovereigns in
the other half! I don't understand it; he is the finest gentleman of
them all. And he looks it. Don't you think so, Helena?"

But I never told Mrs. Montresor what I thought. It is all very well to
generalize and to be glad that certain institutions produce certain
effects; but of course you are superior to the institutions, or you
wouldn't be generalizing so, and all the more, of course, superior to
the effects, and so I don't see how it signifies to you personally.

"You ought to have your head carried on a pike," said Mrs. Montresor,
again. "You will, if we ever have any _bonnets rouges_ in America. You
are the aristocrat pure and simple. The Princess Lamballe was nothing
to you. You think humanity exists so that _nous autres_, by standing
on it, may get the light and air. You are sure that you are made of
different clay--the canaille of street mud, for instance, and you of
the fine white stuff from which they mould Dresden china. You are
quite a study to me, my love. I expect to see you marry a pavior yet,
either one who lays down or one who tears up paving-stones." But I had
only laughed again. She plumed herself on being cosmopolitan even to
her principles.

"You give me credit for too much thinking on the subject," I said, "if
it is credit. Indeed, I don't concern myself about such people; and as
for marrying one of them, I could as soon marry into a different race,
African or Mongolian. They are a different race."

And I remembered all this as Colonel Vorse stood leaning his hand
above me on the jamb of the window-frame--for although I was tall, he
was a son of Anak--with that air which, never vaunting strength,
always made you aware of its repression. I could fancy hearing Mrs.
Montresor say, "That air of his! it always fetches women!" for she
loved a little slang, by some antipodal attraction of her refinement,
and I instinctively stiffened myself, determined it should never fetch
_me_. And here he was calling his allies, the spirits and powers of
the dark and terrible mountain heights and depths, and openly giving
battle. I don't know why it depressed me; I felt as if the very fact
that it did was a half surrender; I looked up at him a moment; I
forgot who he was; I wished he was as poor as I. But to become the
mother of Rhoda, my friend, and of Merivale, that laughing young
giant--what absurdity, if all the rest were equal! And that other, the
dead woman, the first wife--should one not always be jealous of that
sweet early love? Could one endure it? Here among these hills with all
their ghostliness she would haunt me. And then I turned and swept away
to the fireside, holding out my hands to the flame, and glad to sink
into the chair that some one had left empty there.

I hardly knew what world I was living in when, perhaps a half-hour
later, I heard Colonel Vorse's voice. "The trouble is that men are
_not_ born free and equal," he was saying. "Free? They are hampered by
inheritance and circumstance from the moment of birth. Equal? It is a
self-evident lie. And the world has rhapsodized for a hundred years
over so clumsy a statement. All men are born with equal rights. That
is the precise statement. My rights--rights to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness--are equal to the rights of all the princelings
of the earth; their rights equal only to mine. So far as they
interfere with my rights they are public enemies, and are to be dealt
with; and so far as I interfere with their rights, I am a trespasser
to be punished. Otherwise, prince or peasant, each is a man, whether
he wears a blouse or a star and garter; and if man was made in the
image of God, let us do no indignity to that image in one or in

Did I understand him? Was Colonel Vorse proclaiming himself the equal
of Prince San Sorcererino who had entertained us in his palaces last
year? Well. And was he not? All at once something seemed to sift away
from before my eyes--a veil that had hidden my kind from me. Was there
no longer even that natural aristocracy in which Shakspeare or Homer
or Dante was king? Was the world a brotherhood, and they the public
enemy, the enemy of the great perfect race to come, who helped one
brother take advantage of another? Were those ribbons in the
buttonhole, the gifts of kings, of no more worth than the ribbons of

Mrs. Montresor was toying with her fan beside me, and talking in an
undertone behind it. "What prince of all that you have seen or read
of," said she, "if born on a meagre mountain farm, would have made his
fortune and have educated himself, as this man has done? I think the
kings who founded races of kings were like him. And what prince of
them all alive looks so much the prince as he? This one as fat as
Falstaff and as low, that one with a hump on his back, the other
without brains, the next with brains awry, and none of them made as
becomes a man. Tell me, Helena?"

"I think you are in love yourself," I said.

She laughed. "As tall as Saul, as dark, as lordly in all proportions,
as gentle as Jonathan, and with a soul like David's--why shouldn't I
be?" she said. "And he not the equal of the granddaughter of a South
Carolina planter! Tell me again, Helena, what has she ever done to
prove herself his equal?"

She had had a fancy--Heaven knows why--that her young mother, who had
run away with her father, was the daughter of a noble foreign family;
or else why should the match have been clandestine? She had had a
fancy that she was therefore noble, as her mother was--the mother even
whose name her child did not know other than as the slaves had told
her the young bridegroom called her Pansy because of a pair of
purple-dark eyes. That was about all. That was all the answer I could
have made, had I spoken, to her gentle raillery, half mockery, in
which she did not quite believe herself. But even were it so, and the
daughter noble as the mother, could blood that had filtered through
generations of oppressors lounging in laps of luxury be pure as this
blood that had informed none but simple and innocent lives, and seemed
just now as if it had come fresh from the hands of the Maker? I
surveyed him from behind the hand-screen that failed to keep the ruddy
flames from my face, and if I felt him in that glance to be one of the
sons of God, and I but one of the daughters of men, again I did not
tell Mrs. Montresor.

But the witch could always read my thoughts. "Still," she said, "he
has kept a tavern. There is no getting round that fact by all the
poetry in the world. Then why try to get round it? He has furnished
food and shelter to the tired and roofless--as noble a way to make
money, surely, as working the bones and muscles of slaves, and
accepting the gold they earn."

"That is the last I have of such gold," I cried, in a stifled way; and
I unclasped the old bracelet on my wrist and tossed it behind the
back-log--people were too gayly engaged to observe us at the moment.
"I think," I said then, turning upon her, "that you are employed as an
advocate, unless--you are really weary of me."

"Weary of you!" she exclaimed, half under her breath though it
was--"weary of you, when you are such unceasing variety to me that if
you married ten thousand tavern-keepers I should always have a room in
the inn!"

"Thank Heaven," I answered her, gayly, "it is an impossibility that I
should ever marry _one_." And then there was a lull in the laughter
and the snatches of song and conversation on the other side of the
room; and while I was still gazing after my bracelet and into the
chimney-place, where the flames wallowed about unhewn forest logs that
took two men to cast to them, Colonel Vorse came over to us.

"You will turn into salamanders," he said.

"It is bad enough to be in hot water," said Mrs. Montresor, lightly.
"I will leave the fire to you and Helena."

"Where you sit," said Colonel Vorse then to me, "if you turn your head
slightly to the left, and shade your eyes, you can see the side of the
darkest and sternest of our mountains. You know we do not call our
hills by the names they have in maps and government surveys; the old
settlers who first came here called this one, for unknown reasons of
their own, the Mount of Sorrow. It has always been the Mount of

"An ominous name for so near a neighbor," I said.

"Ah! you think this region is oppressive, or perhaps dull and tame,
without life or stir--desolate, in fact. What if I should tell you
that it bubbles, like a caldron over the bottomless pit, with griefs
and sins!--that in lives condemned to perpetual imprisonment on
these bare rocks, feeding on themselves, traits intensifying, the
loneliness, the labor, the negation, slowly extract the juices of
humanity, and make crime a matter to be whispered of among them? If
they feel they are forgotten by God, what matters the murder or the
suicide more or less that gives release? It is hell here or hell
there: they are sure of this--they have it; the other may not come to

"What do you mean?" I said, with white lips; for as he spoke it seemed
as if I had come into a land of lepers. "Here in this white solitude,
among lives fed from the primitive sources of nature and the dew of
the morning--"

"I mean," he said, "that I refuse to accept the factitious aid your
thoughts have lately been bringing to me. You see I have preternatural
senses. Because I was born in the snows of the mountains I am no whit
whiter than those born in the purlieus of the police stations of the
cities. We are simply of the same human nature. When I win regard, it
must be for no idle fancy, but for my own identity."

"Well," I said, "I do not believe you."

"Ah!" he replied, "have I gained a point, and found an advocate in an
ideal of me? That would be as romantic as any of the romance of the
hills. And there _is_ romance here, whether it is born of crime, or of
joy, or of sorrow. There is romance enough on that old Mount of Sorrow
that you see when the storm opens and strips it in that sudden white
glory. Keep your eye, if you please, on a spot half-way up the sky,
and when the apparition comes again you will find the dark outline of
a dwelling there. It was a dwelling once; now it is only a ruin, hut
and barn and byre. Why do you shudder? Do you see it? It is only a
shadow. But a shadow with outlines black enough to defy the whitest
blast that ever blew. Sometimes it seems to me as though that old ruin
were itself a ghostly thing, a spectre of tragedies that will not
down; for the avalanches divide and leave it, and the storms whistle
over and beat against it, and it is always there when the sun rises. I
don't know what it has to do with my fortunes; I don't know why it is
a blotch upon the face of nature to me; but if ever I grow sad or sick
at heart I feel as though I should be made whole again could that evil
thing be removed."

"Why not remove it?"

"It does not belong to me. I can do nothing with it. I am not
sure that it belongs to any one--which adds to the spectral, you
see--although I suppose there is somewhere a nameless heir. How
restless you are!" he said, gently. "Will you come out in the long
hall where the great window gives an unobstructed view of the thing,
and walk off this nervousness? The storm is lifting, I think; the moon
is going to overcome. One may see by the way the fire burns that the
temperature is mounting. Perhaps we shall have a snow-slide as we

Rhoda and Merivale were singing some of the songs they had learned
since they came into the hill country, Mrs. Montresor was nodding
behind her fan an accompaniment to Dr. Devens's remarks, Adèle was
deep in her novel, and a flirtation and some portfolios of prints
occupied the rest. To refuse was only to attract attention; besides, I
should like to walk. I rose and went out with him into the hall that
shut off the wing from the great empty caravansary.

     "'And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor,'"

I quoted as we walked; and despite the fire burning on either side, he
had brought me a fur for my shoulders.

"Yes," he said, "there comes the moon at last. Now you shall see the
black and white of it."

"Oh!" I cried, clasping my hands, as all the silvery lights and
immense shadows burst out in a terrible sort of radiance. "The world
began to be made here! Poets should be born here!"

"Instead of tavern-keepers," said he, "which brings me to my story. I
am forty-three years old. Of course I was younger twenty-three years
ago. That must have been not long before you came into the world
yourself. Do you insist upon thinking twenty years' difference in age
makes any disparity, except in the case of him who has lost just that
twenty years' sweetness out of his life?"

"I hardly see what that has to do with the story of the Mount of
Sorrow," I said, as we turned from the window to measure the length of
the hall again.

"I hope," said he, "that the suffrage reform, which is to admit women
to the ballot, will never let them sit on the judicial bench, for
mercy is foreign to the heart of a woman."

"Is it not a strange way of telling a story?" I exclaimed.

"Patience!" he laughed. "The story is so short it needs a little
preface. As I was saying then, when I was twenty years old or so, the
name of old Raynier, of the Mount of Sorrow, was a by-word of terror
through the region round, as the name of his father was, and his
father before him. He had no other property than the sterile farm
half-way up the mountain, and almost inaccessible--in winter entirely
inaccessible--where he raised not half a support on the slips of earth
among the ledges; his few starved sheep and goats did what they could
for him, and his rifle did the rest. The first Raynier of them all
was possibly an escaped convict, who fortified his retreat by these
mountain-sides. He had no money; the women spun and wove all that was
worn. He had no education; no Raynier had ever had; no Raynier had
ever had occasion to sign his mark, let alone his name. There had been
one son in each generation; neither church nor school ever saw him;
his existence was scarcely known till he was ready to marry, and then
he came down, and by no one knows what other magic than a savage
force of nature took the prettiest girl of the valley to his
eyrie--sometimes his wife, sometimes not. When she died, and she
always died, the Raynier of the day replaced her. He did not always
wait for her to die before replacing her. But sudden deaths were no
uncommon thing in that house; there was a burial-ground scooped in the
hill-side. And who was there to interfere? Perhaps no one knew there
had been a death till the year was out. What if a woman went mad? That
happened anywhere. People below might prate of murder, or suicide, or
slow poison; there was nobody to whom it was vital enough to open the
question seriously; and then they feared the Raynier with an uncanny
fear, as people fear a catamount in the woods, or the goblin of old
wives' tales after dark. There were horrible stories of bouts and
brawls, of tortures, gags, whips, and--oh, no matter! Nor was all the
crime on the shoulders of the Raynier men. It was understood that more
than one woman of the name found life too intolerable to endure its
conditions when the fumes of a charcoal fire after a drunken feast,
or a quick thrust over the edge of a precipice, or a bit of weed in
the broth, made life easier, till remorse brought madness. And
finally, if any Raynier died what may be called a natural death, it
was either from starvation or from delirium tremens. You see they were
a precious lot."

"A precious lot!" I said, trembling. "Ah, what is heaven made of? Poor
wretches, they could not help it. From generation to generation the
children of such people must needs be criminal."

"I don't know. If removed from such influence. To my mind environment
is strong as heredity, quite as strong. It destroys the old and
creates the new. However, environment and heredity worked together up
there. In my day--to continue--the Raynier family was larger than
usual. The last wife still lived, a miserable cowed creature, white as
ashes, face and hair and bleached scared eyes, eyes that looked as if
they saw phantoms rather than people. Her mind was partially gone. I
was a famous mountaineer then, and climbing wherever foot of man had
been before, I once in a while came upon some or other of that family,
and sometimes paused at the door, where I had first to teach the
bloodhounds a lesson. I never entered the filthy place but once. There
were two sons and a daughter. Oh, how immortally beautiful that girl
was! Such velvet darkness in the eye, such statuesque lines, such
rose-leaf color, such hair--'hair like the thistle-down tinted with
gold,' as John Mills, the Scotch poet-player, sang. The old man
Raynier worshipped her, perhaps as a wild beast loves its whelp. But
he had all sorts of fanciful names for her, Heart's-ease and Heart's
Delight, and Violet and Rose and Lily. He grew almost gentle when he
spoke to her; and he never knew that she was feeble-minded. She just
missed being an imbecile. Perhaps you would not have known that all
at once; you might not have found it out at all only meeting her
casually. The old man Raynier sent her down to school--the first that
had ever been there: she could never learn to read. She could not
always tell her name. Still, her mind was innocent--perhaps because it
was a blank. I have sometimes thought that blank mind of hers may have
been a dead-wall through which the vices of her forebears could not
pass, and so her children, if she had them, may have escaped the
inheritance, and found a chance for good again, as if crime should at
last estop itself. That may be."

"Oh, I think this is terrible!" I said, as we turned again in our
walk. "Make haste, please, and be through."

"Yes, it is. But I would show you that life can be anything but
commonplace in this wilderness. Well, blank or not, she had a lover,
who had found her out in his sketching rambles, a young painter from
some distant parts, and the first boarder I ever had, by the way. And
all the Rayniers swore they would have his life sooner than he should
have her. One day I had been hunting on old Mount Sorrow, as it
happened; there had been a sudden frost following rain that had frozen
the water in the cracks of the cliffs, and made the way not only
slippery, but dangerous; for in the heat of the noon sun the ice was
melting, and every now and then its expansion was rending some
fragment of rock so that your footing might vanish from beneath, or
some shower of stones come rattling down from above; and I was tired
when I reached the Raynier place, led by a blaze of maple boughs that
started out like torches to show the way, and stopped to rest. I
looked up at an enormous shelf of rock, half clad with reddened vines
that fluttered like pestilence flags--a shelf that, although some
hundred feet or so away from it, yet overhung the place and cast a
perpetual shadow there. I wondered then why Nature had no secret
springs of feeling to thrill her and cause her to rend the rocks and
cover such a den of iniquity as we all held the spot to be. But Nature
was just as fair that ambrosial September day as if there was not a
dissonance. Perhaps she knew the right of the Rayniers to life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A delicious scent of the balsam
from the pines filled the air, the sunshine swept over the hills below
in waves of light, and the hills themselves were like waves of a
golden green and purple sea where now and then a rainbow swam and
broke. Peace and perfectness, I said, peace and perfectness. These
people live and are happy. On the other side one looked into the
dreary defile of the mountain gate, with its black depths hung with
cloud, and remembered that if there was not a hell, there ought to be.
I was thinking this as I sat there, when I heard a wild cry, an
agonized shriek, blood-curdling, repeated and repeated from within.
It was the girl's voice. I was on my feet, and, in spite of the
bloodhounds, making for the spot and among the crew. The old woman
cowered in the corner, the two brothers held the girl, the old man
towered over her, his great eyes blazing in his ashen face. I can't
tell you what they were doing. Sometimes I have thought old Raynier
was burning her with a hot iron he held--"

"Oh, horrible! horrible!"

"Burning her with a hot iron to make her give up her lover! Sometimes
I have thought he was only demolishing the little likenesses of him
and of herself, which that lover had painted, and which she cherished,
perhaps as his work, perhaps for the unwonted gewgaw of the slender
golden frame, for the one picture was already in fragments, and
although she clutched half of the other, the broken half had fallen
and rolled away. I have it somewhere. I will show it to you. I had no
time, indeed, to see what it was they were doing, for behind me
bounded that lover like a whirlwind, thrust one brother and the other
aside, seized the girl, darted over the door-sill with her, and down
the crags of the mountain path. He should have what help I could give.
I was after him, stooping to catch up the fragment of painting as I
turned, down the cliff's edge, they following. And all at once I
stopped as if paralyzed to the marrow by a clap of thunder, and turned
my head to see the old man with his white hair streaming, and his arms
uplifted in his cursing, as he came leaping on, and the next moment
the shelf of overhanging rock had fallen, had cleft the house in
twain, and mother and father and sons and hounds were dust with the
dust flying over the precipices. I saw it."

"Oh!" I cried, with my hands over my eyes. "Why did it not strike you

"And here," said Colonel Vorse, leading my steps to an old cabinet in
an alcove, "ought to be the half of that little likeness I picked up
as I ran. I wonder what became of the other half--what became of the
girl--if the lover married her--if she knew enough to know he didn't
marry her--if she lived long enough for him to find out she was a
fool--if she was the last of the Rayniers?" As he ceased, he put the
half of the little miniature into my hands.

It was a broken bit of ivory, and on it the upper part of a face,
sketchily done, with pansy-dark eyes and blush rose skin--without a
frame. I had the frame.

A heart beat, a fluttering breath, a reeling sense of the world
staggering away from me, and then my bewildered senses were at work
again, and an agony like death was cutting me to the heart as we
resumed our walking.

Should I tell him? Should I go on with my secret, my inheritance, my
curse, and let no man know? If it ate out my heart, the sooner to
end; my heart was broken now. Never, never now could fireside shine
for me, could lover's lips be mine, could little faces sun themselves
in my smile.

We paused before the great window, with those vague white shapes
before us, for my feet would not obey me, and the light behind us
shone on the bit of ivory. If I told him, it would be easier for him
to bear; he would see the impossibility, he would desire my love no
longer. My fearful inheritance would yawn like a gulf between us with
its impassable darkness.

"And the ruin on the hill-side is an eye-sore," I said. "But it is
easy to remove it. I suppose it belongs to me. For--look here--it is I
who must be the last of the Rayniers." And I drew from my breast the
broken thing, the halved miniature, that in my mock sentiment I had
worn so long.

"You!" cried he. "You!" And his feet tottered, and he leaned against
the casement for support--he who an hour or so ago had seemed so full
of repressed strength that he could have pulled his house down about
his ears. Well, had he not done so?

I moved to his side, and held the thing that he might see where the
pieces matched, the line of the cheek flowing into the lovely curve of
the chin, the flickering sweetness of the lovely mouth, the lambent
glance of the lovely eye. "It is my mother, you see," I said. "And it
needs no words to say it."

"It needs no words to say it," he repeated, hoarsely. "It is your
image. Oh, my God! What have I done! what have I done! My darling, my
darling, you must let me repair it by a lifetime of devotion." And he
had his arms about me, and was drawing me to his heaving breast, his
throbbing heart.

"No! no! no!" I sobbed. "It is impossible. I am wrecked; I am ruined;
I can be no man's wife. You see yourself--I will never--" But his lips
were silencing mine, and I lay there with those arms about me a
moment; I lay there like one in heaven suspended over hell.

"What do I care," he whispered, "for all the Rayniers in Christendom
or out of it, but you? I have learned in this moment that you love me!
I will never give you up."

"You must," I groaned.

"I tell you I never will," he said, his voice husky and low and
trembling, but his eye and his grasp firm. "I have assured you that
environment, education, art, can supplement nature and heredity. They
have done so with you. You are your father's child. You received from
your mother only the vital spark, only this beauty, this fatal beauty.
If you inherited all that the Rayniers ever had, then I love, I love,
I love all that the Rayniers ever were, for I love you. I have your
love, Helena, and I will never let you go." While speaking he had
touched the bell at his hand, and now he sent the answering servant
for Dr. Devens, who came at once, supposing some sight of the snow
was in store.

"Bid them all out here, Doctor," cried Colonel Vorse. "Ah, here they
come! In this part of the country we need no license for marriage.
Here are a bride and groom awaiting your blessing. Perform your
office, sir." And before I could summon heart or voice, making no
response, bewildered and faint, I was the wife of Colonel Vorse, and
my husband's arms were supporting me as the words of the prayer and
benediction rolled over us.

"There is no time like the present," he cried, gayly, his tones no
longer broken, "as I have always found." And suddenly, before he
ceased, and while they all thronged round me, there came a sharp
strange sigh singing through the air, that grew into the wild
discordant music of multitudinous echoes, and we all turned and sprang
intuitively to see, rent in the moonlight and sheathed in the glorious
spray of a thousand ice-falls, the Mount of Sorrow bow its head and
come down, and, while the whole earth shook and smoked back in hoar
vapors, the great snow-slide in its swift sheeting splendor flash and
wipe out before our eyes the last timber of the hut and barn and byre
of the Rayniers.



_Lippincott's Magazine, December, 1878._

Monte Compatri is one of the eastern outlying peaks of the Alban
Mountains, and, like so many Italian mountains, has its road climbing
to and fro in long loops to a gray little city at the top. This city
of Monte Compatri is a full and busy hive, with solid blocks of
houses, and the narrowest of streets that break now and then into
stairs. For those old builders respected the features of a landscape
as though they had been the features of a face, and no more thought of
levelling inequalities of land than of shaving down or raising up
noses. When a man had a house-lot in a hollow, he built his house
there, and made steps to go down to it: his neighbor, who owned a
rocky knoll, built his house at the top, and made stairs to go up to
it. Moreover, if the land was a bit in the city, the house was made in
the shape of it, and was as likely to have corners in obtuse or acute
as in right angles.

The inhabitants of Monte Compatri have two streets of which they are
immensely proud--the Lungara, which wriggles through the middle of the
town, and the Giro, which makes the entire circuit of the town,
leaving outside only the rim of houses that rise from the edge of the
mountain, some of them founded on the natural rock, others stretching
roots of masonry far down into the earth.

One of these houses on the Giro had for generations been in the
possession of the Guai family. One after another had held it at an
easy rent from Prince Borghese, the owner of the town. The vineyard
and orchard below in the Campagna they owned, and from those their
wealth was derived. For it was wealth for such people to have a house
full of furniture, linen and porcelain--where, perhaps, a connoisseur
might have found some rare bits of old china--besides having a
thousand scudi in bank.

In this position was the head of the family when he died, leaving a
grown-up son and daughter, and his wife about to become a mother for
the third time.

"Pepina shall have her portion in money, since she is to marry soon,"
the father said. "Give her three hundred scudi in gold and a hundred
in pearls. The rest of the money shall be for my wife to do as she
likes with. For the little one, when it shall come, Matteo shall put
in the bank every year thirty scudi, and when it shall be of age, be
it girl or boy, he shall divide the land equally with it."

So said Giovanni Guai, and died, and his wife let him talk
uncontradicted, since it was for the last time. They had lived a
stormy life, his heavy fist opposed to her indefatigable tongue, and
she contemplated with silent triumph the prospect of being left in
possession of the field. Besides, would he not see afterward what she
did--see and be helpless to oppose? So she let him die fancying that
he had disposed of his property.

"The child is sure to be a girl," she said afterward, "and I mean her
to be a nun. The land shall not be cut up. Matteo shall be a rich man
and pile up a fortune. He shall be the richest man in Monte Compatri,
and a girl shall not stand in his way."

Nature verified the mother's prophecy and sent a little girl. Silvia
they called her, and, since she was surely to be a nun, she grew to be
called Sister Silvia by everybody, even before she was old enough to
recognize her own name.

The house of the Guai, on its inner wall, opened on the comparatively
quiet Giro. From the windows and door could be heard the buzz and hum
of the Lungara, where everybody--men, women, children, cats and
dogs--were out with every species of work and play when the sun began
to decline. This was the part of the house most frequented and liked
by the family. They could see their neighbors even when they were at
work in their houses, and could exchange gossip and stir the polenta
at the same time. The other side of the house they avoided. It was
lonely and it was sunny. For Italians would have the sun, like the
Lord, to be for ever knocking at the door and for ever shut out. It
must shine upon their outer walls, but not by any means enter their

As years passed, however, there grew to be one exception in this
regard. Sister Silvia loved not the town with its busy streets, nor
the front windows with their gossiping heads thrust out or in. She had
her own chamber on the Campagna side, and there she sat the livelong
day with knitting or sewing, never going out, except at early
morning to hear mass. There her mother accompanied her--a large,
self-satisfied woman beside a pallid little maiden who never raised
her eyes. Or, if her mother could not go, Matteo stalked along by her
side, and with his black looks made everybody afraid to glance her
way. Nobody liked to encounter the two black eyes of Matteo Guai. It
was understood that the knife in his belt was sharp, and that no
scruple of conscience would stand between him and any vengeance he
might choose to take for any affront he might choose to imagine.

After mass, then, and the little work her mother permitted the girl to
do for health's sake, Silvia sat alone by her window and looked out on
the splendor which her eyes alone could appreciate. There lay the
Campagna rolling and waving for miles and miles around, till the
Sabines, all rose and amethyst, hemmed it in with their exquisite
wall, and the sea curved a gleaming sickle to cut off its flowery
passage, or the nearer mountains stood guard, almost covered by the
green spray it threw up their rocky sides. She sat and stared at Rome
while her busy fingers knit--at the wonderful city where she was one
day to go and be a nun, where the pope lived and kings came to worship
him. In the morning light the Holy City lay in the midst of the
Campagna like her mother's wedding-pearls when dropped in a heap on
their green cushion; and Silvia knelt with her face that way and
prayed for a soul as white, for she was to be the spouse of Christ,
and her purity was all that she could bring Him as a dowry. But when
evening came, and that other airy sea of fine golden mist flowed in
from the west, and made a gorgeous blur of all things, then the city
seemed to float upward from the earth and rise toward heaven all
stirring with the wings of its guardian angels, and Silvia would beg
that the New Jerusalem might not be assumed till she should have the
happiness of being in it.

But there was a lovely view nearer than this visionary one, though the
little nun seldom looked at it. If she should lean from her window she
would see the mountain-side dropping from the gray walls of her home,
with clinging flowery vines and trees growing downward, while the
olives and grapevines of the Campagna came to meet them, setting here
and there a precarious little garden half-way up the steep. Just
under her window an almost perpendicular path came up, crept round the
walls and entered the town. But no one ever used this road now, for a
far wider and better one had been constructed at the other side of the
mountain, and all the people came up that way when the day's work was
over in the Campagna.

One summer afternoon Silvia's reveries were broken by her mother's
voice calling her: "Silvia, come and prepare the salad for Matteo."

It was an extraordinary request, but the girl went at once without
question. She seized upon every opportunity to practise obedience in
preparation for that time when her life would be made up of obedience
and prayer.

Her mother was sitting by one of the windows talking with Matteo, who
had just come up from the Campagna. He had an unsocial habit of eating
alone, and, as he ate nothing when down in the vineyard, always wanted
his supper as soon as he came up. The table was set for him with
snow-white cloth and napkin, silver knife, fork and spoon, a loaf of
bread and a decanter of golden-sparkling wine icy cold from the grotto
hewn in the rock beneath the house; and he was just eating his
_minestra_ of vegetables when his sister came in. At the other end of
the long table was a head of crisp white lettuce, lying on a clean
linen towel, and two bottles--one of white vinegar, the other of oil
as sweet as cream and as bright as sunshine. Monte Compatri had no
need to send to Lucca for oil of olives while its own orchards
dropped such streams of pure richness.

The room was large and dingy. The brick floor had never known other
cleansing than sprinkling and sweeping, the yellow-washed walls had
become with time a pale, mottled brown, the paint had disappeared
under a fixed dinginess which the dusting-brush alone could not
remove, and the glass of the windows had never been washed except by
the rain. Yet, for all that, the place had an air of cleanliness. For
though these people do not clean their houses more than they clean
their yards, yet their clothing and tables and beds are clean.
Plentiful white linen, stockings like snow, and bright dishes and
metals give a look of freshness and show well on the dim background.
Heavy walnut presses, carved and black with age, stood against
the walls, drinking-glasses and candlesticks sparkled on a dark
bureau-top, there was a bright picture or two, and the sunlighted
tinware of a house at the other side of the street threw a cluster of
tiny rays like a bouquet of light in at the window. Silvia received
these sun-blossoms on her head when she placed herself at the lower
end of the table. She pushed the sleeves of her white sack back from
her slim white arms, and began washing the lettuce-leaves in a bowl of
fresh water and breaking them in the towel. The leaves broke with
a fine snap and dropped in pieces as stiff as paper into a large
dark-blue plate of old Japanese ware. A connoisseur in porcelain would
have set such a plate on his drawing-room wall as a picture.

"How does Claudio work?" the mother asked of her son.

"He works well," Matteo replied. "He is worth two of our common
fellows, if he _is_ educated."

"Nevertheless, I should not have employed him," the mother said. "He
has disobeyed and disappointed his parents, and he should be punished.
They meant him to be a priest, and raked and scraped every soldo to
educate him. Now, just when he is at the point of being able to repay
them, he makes up his mind that he has no vocation for the priesthood,
and breaks their hearts by his ingratitude. It is nonsense to set
one's will up so and have such scruples. Obedience is vocation enough
for anything. There should be a prison where parents could put the
children who disobey them."

The Sora Guai spoke sternly, and looked as if she would not have
hesitated to put a refractory child in the deepest of dungeons.

"He was a fool, but he earns his money," Matteo responded, and,
drawing a plate of deliciously fried frogs toward him, began to gnaw
them and throw the bones on the floor.

Silvia gave him the salad, and poured wine and water into the tumbler
for him, while his mother went to the kitchen for a dish of fricasseed

"There's no onion in the salad," Matteo grumbled when she came back.

Silvia uttered an exclamation of dismay, ran for a silvery-white
little onion and sliced it thinly into the salad.

"Forgive me, Matteo," she said. "I was distracted by the thought of
Claudio. It seems such a terrible thing."

"It would be a much more terrible thing if it were a girl who
disobeyed," Matteo growled. He did not like that girls should
criticise men.

"So it would," the girl responded, with meek readiness.

"I don't know why I feel so tired to-day," the mother said, sinking
into a chair again. "My bones ache as if I had been working in the
vineyard all day."

"You are not ill, mamma?" exclaimed Silvia, blushing with alarm.

The answer was a hesitating one: "I don't see what can ail me. It
wouldn't be anything, only that I am so tired without having done

"Perhaps it's the weather, mamma," Silvia suggested.

Gentle as she was, she had adopted the ruthless and ungrateful Italian
custom of ascribing every ache and pain of the body to some almost
imperceptible change in their too beautiful weather. The smallest
cloud goes laden with more accusations than it holds drops of rain,
and the ill winds that blow nobody any good blow through those shining
skies from morning till night and from night till morning again.

The Sora Guai was sicker than she dreamed. It was not the summer sun
that scorched her so, nor the _scirocco_ that made her head so heavy.
What malaria she had found to breathe on the mountain-top it would be
hard to say; but the dreaded _perniciosa_ had caught her in its grasp,
and she was doomed. The fever burned fiercely for a few days, and when
it was quenched there was nothing left but ashes.

And thus died the only earthly thing to which Sister Silvia's heart
clung. The mother had been stern, but the daughter was too submissive
to need correction. She had never had any will of her own, except to
love and obey. Collision between them was therefore impossible, and
the daughter felt as a frail plant growing under a shadowing tree
might feel if the tree were cut down. She was bare to every wind that
blew. She had no companions of her own age--she had no companion of
any age, in fact--and she had not been accustomed to think for herself
in the smallest thing.

She had got bent into a certain shape, however, and her brother and
sister felt quite safe on her account. Everybody knew that she was to
be a nun of the Perpetual Adoration; that she was soon to go to the
convent of Santa Maria Maddalena on the Quirinal in Rome; and that,
once entered there, she would never again see a person from outside.
The town's-people were accustomed to the wall of silence and seclusion
which had already grown up about her, and they did not even seek to
salute her when they met her going to and from church in the morning.
To these simple citizens, ignorant but reverential, Sister Silvia's
lowered eyelids were as inviolate as the pearl gates of the New
Jerusalem. Besides, to help their reverence, there were the fierce
black eyes and strange reputation of Matteo. So when, a day or two
after her mother's death, his sister begged him to accompany her to
church in the early morning, and leave her in the care of some decent
woman there, Matteo replied that she might go by herself.

She set out for the first time alone on what had ever been to her a
_via sacra_, and was now become a _via dolorosa_, where her tears
dropped as she walked. And going so once, she went again. Pepina, the
elder sister, a widow now, had come home to keep house for Matteo, but
she was too much taken up with work, the care of her two children and
looking out for a second husband to have time to watch Silvia, and
after a few weeks the young girl went as unheeded as a matron in her
daily walk.

At home her life was nearly the same. She mended the clothes from the
washing and knit stockings, and sat at her window and looked off over
the Campagna toward Rome.

One evening she sat there before going to bed and watched the
moonlight turn all the earth to black and silver under the purple
sky--a black like velvet, so deep and soft was it, and a silver like
white fire, clear and splendid, yet beautifully soft. She was feeling
desolate, and her tears dropped down, now and then breaking into sobs.
It had been pleasant to sit there alone when she knew that her mother
was below stairs, strong, healthy and gay. All that life had been as
the oil over which her little flame burned. Lacking it, she grew dim,
just as the floating wick in her little blue vase before the Madonna
grew dim when the oil was gone.

As she wept and heard unconsciously the nightingales, she grew
conscious of another song that mingled with theirs. It was a human
voice, clear and sweet as an angel's, and it sang a melody she knew in
little snatches that seemed to begin and end in a sigh. The voice came
nearer and paused beneath a fig tree, and the words grew distinct.

"Pietà, signore, di me dolente," it sang.

Silvia leaned out of the window and looked down at the singer. His
face was lifted to the white moonlight, and seemed in its pallid
beauty a concentration of the moonlight. Only his face was visible,
for the shadow of the tree hid all his figure. One might almost have
expected to catch a glimmer of two motionless wings bearing up that
face, so fair it was.

To Silvia it was as if another self, who grieved also, but who
could speak, were uttering all her pain, and lightening it so. She
recognized Claudio's voice. He was the chief singer in the cathedral,
and sang like an angel. She was afraid that Claudio had done very
wrong in not being a priest, but, for all that, she had often found
her devotion increased by his singing. The Christmas night would not
have been half so joyful lacking his _Adeste Fideles_; the _Stabat
Mater_ sung by him in Holy Week made her tears of religious sorrow
burst forth afresh; and when on Easter morning he sang the _Gloria_
it had seemed to her that the heavens were opening.

For all that, however, he had been to her not a person, but a voice.
That he should come here and express her sorrow made him seem
different. For the first time she looked at his face. By daylight it
was thin and finely featured, and of a clear darkness like shaded
water, through which the faintest tinge of color is visible. In this
transfigurating moonlight it became of a luminous whiteness.

The song ended, the singer turned his head slightly and looked up at
Silvia's window. She did not draw back. There was no recognition of
any human sympathy with him, and no slightest consciousness of that
airy and silent friendship which had long been weaving itself over the
tops of the mountains that separated them. How could she know that
Claudio had sung for her, and that it had been the measure of his
success to see her head droop or lift as he sang of sorrow and pain or
of joy and triumph? The choir had their post over the door; and,
besides, she never glanced up even in going out. Therefore she gazed
down into his uplifted face with a sweet and sorrowful tranquillity,
her soul pure and candid to its uttermost depths.

For Claudio, who had sung to express his sympathy for her, but had not
dreamed of seeing her, it was as if the dark-blue sky above had opened
and an angel had looked out when he saw her face. He could only
stretch his clasped hands toward her.

The gesture made her weep anew, for it was like human kindness. She
hid her face in her handkerchief, and he saw her wipe the tears away
again and again.

Claudio remembered a note he carried. It had been written the night
before--not with any hope of her ever seeing it, but, as he had
written her hundreds of notes before, pouring out his heart into them
because it was too full to bear without that relief. He took the note
out, but how should he give it to her? The window was too far above
for him to toss so light a thing unless it should be weighted with a
stone; and he could not throw a stone at Silvia's window. He held it
up, and, that she might see it more clearly, tore up a handful of red
poppies and laid it white on the blossoms that were a deep red by

Silvia understood, and after a moment's study dropped him down the
ball of her knitting; and soon the note came swaying up through the
still air resting on its cushion of poppies, for Claudio had wound the
thread about both flowers and letter.

He smiled with an almost incredulous delight as he saw the package
arrive safely at its destination, and caught afterward the faint red
light of the lamp that Silvia had taken down from before her Madonna
to read the note by. Since she was a little thing only five or six
years old his heart had turned toward her, and her small white face
had been to him the one star in a dim life. He still kept two or three
tiny flowers she had given him years before when his family and hers
were coming together down from Monte San Silvestro at the other side
of Monte Compatri. The two children, with others, had stopped to stick
fresh flowers through the wire screen before the great crucifix
half-way up the mountain, and Silvia had given Claudio these blossoms.
He had laid them away with his treasures and relics--the bit of muslin
from the veil of Our Lady of Loretto, the almost invisible speck from
the cord of St. Francis of Assisi and the little paper of the ashes of
Blessed Joseph Labré. In those days he was the little priest and she
the little nun, and their companions stood respectfully back for them.
Now he was no more the priest, and she was up there in her window
against the sky reading the note he had written her.

This is what the note said:

    "My heart is breaking for your sorrow. Why should such eyes
    as yours be permitted to weep? Who is there to wipe those
    tears away? Oh that I might catch them as they fall! Drop me
    down a handkerchief that has been wet with them, that I may
    keep it as a relic. Tell me of some way in which I can
    console you and spend my life to serve you."

She read with a mingling of consolation and astonishment. Why, this
was more than her mother cared for her! But perhaps men were really
more strongly loving than women. It would seem so, since God, who
knows all, when He wanted to express His love to mankind, took the
form of a man, not of a woman. Then she considered whether, and how,
she should answer this note, and the result of her considering was
this, written hastily on a bit of paper in which some Agnus Dei had
been wrapped:

     "I do not know what I ought to write to you, but I thank
     you for your kindness. It comforts me, and I have need of
     comfort. I think, though, that it may be wrong for you to
     speak of my handkerchief as if it were a relic. Relics are
     things which have belonged to the saints, and I am not a
     saint at all, though I hope to become one. I frequently do
     wrong. Spend your life in serving God, and pray for me. You
     pray in singing, and your singing is very sweet.


It seemed to her a simple and merely polite note. To him it was as
the spark to a magazine of powder. All the possibilities of his life,
only half hoped or half dreamed of, burst at once into a flame of
certainty. She had need of comfort, and he comforted her! His voice
was sweet to her, and his singing was a prayer!

Silvia should not be a nun. She should break the bond imposed by her
mother, as he had broken that imposed by his parents. She should be
his wife, and they would live in Rome. He knew that his voice would
find bread for them.

All this flashed through his mind as he read, and pressed to his lips
the handkerchief which she had dropped down to him, though it was not
a relic. He lifted his arms upward toward her window with a rapturous
joy, as if to embrace her, but she did not look out again. A little
scruple for having deprived the Madonna for a moment of her lamp had
made her resolve to say at once a decade of the rosary in expiation.
He waited till the sound of closing doors and wandering voices told
that the inhabitants gathered for the evening in the Lungara were
separating to their homes, then went reluctantly away. Matteo would be
at home, and Matteo's face might look down at him from that other
window beside Silvia's. So he also went home, with the moonlight
between his feet and the ground and stars sparkling in his brain. He
felt as if his head were the sky.

This was an August night. One day in October, Matteo told his sister
that she was to go to Rome with him the next morning to pass a month
with a family they knew there, and afterward begin her novitiate in
the convent of the Sacramentarians at Monte Cavallo. He had received a
letter from the Signora Fantini, who would receive her and do
everything for her. He and Pepina had no time, now that the vintage
had begun, to attend to such affairs, even if they knew how.

Silvia grew pale. She had not expected to go before the spring, and
now all was arranged without a word being said to her, and she was to
go without saying good-bye to any one.

Matteo's sharp eyes were watching her. "You will be ready to start at
seven o'clock," he said; "I must be back to-morrow night."

"Yes, Matteo," she faltered, hesitated a moment, then ventured to add,
"I did not expect to go to soon."

"And what of that?" he demanded roughly. "You were to go at the proper
time, and the proper time is to-morrow."

She trembled, but ventured another word: "I should like to see my
confessor first."

"He will come here this evening to see you," her brother replied: "I
have already talked with him. You have nothing else to do. Pepina will
pack your trunk while you are talking with the priest."

Silvia had no more to say. She was bound hand and foot. Besides, she
was willing to go, she assured herself. It was her duty to obey her
parents, or the ones who stood in their place and had authority over
her. Matteo said she must go; therefore it was her duty to go, and she
was willing.

But the willing girl looked very pale and walked about with a very
feeble step, and it was hard work to keep the tears that were every
moment rising to her eyes from falling over her cheeks. It was such a
pitiful face, indeed, that Father Teodoli, when he came just before
Ave Maria, asked if Silvia were ill.

"She has had a toothache," Matteo said quickly, and gave his sister a

"And what have you done for it, my child?" the priest asked kindly.

"Nothing," Silvia faltered out.

"I will leave you to give Silvia all the advice she needs," Matteo
said after the compliments of welcome were over. "I have to go down
the Lungara for men to work in the vineyard to-morrow. Silvia, come
and shut the door after me: there is too much draught here."

Silvia followed her brother to the door, trembling for what he might
say or do. Well she knew that his command was given only that he might
have a chance to speak with her alone.

"Mind what you say to your confessor," he whispered, grasping her arm
and speaking in her ear. "You are to be a nun: you wish to be, and you
are willing to set out to-morrow. Tell him no nonsense--do you
hear?--or it will be worse for you. I shall know every word you say.
If he asks if you had a toothache, say Yes. Do you hear?"

"Yes, Matteo."

She went back half fainting, and did as she had been commanded. If
there had been any little lurking impulse to beg for another week or
month, it died of fear. If she had any confession to make of other
wishes than those chosen for her, she postponed it. Matteo might be
behind the door listening, or in the next room or at the window. It
seemed to her that he could make himself invisible in order to keep
guard over her.

So the priest talked a little, learned nothing, gave some advice,
recommended himself to her prayers, gave her his benediction, and
went. Then Pepina called her to see the trunk all packed with linen
that had been laid by for her for years, and Matteo, who had really
been lurking about the house, told her to go to bed, and himself
really went off this time to the Lungara. Pepina's lover came for her
to sit out on the doorstep with him, and Silvia was left alone. Nobody
cared for her. All had other interests, and they forgot her the moment
she was out of their sight. Worse, even: they wanted her to be for
ever out of their sight, that they might never have to think of her.

But no: there was one who did not forget her--who would perhaps
now have heard that she was going away, and be waiting in the
mountain-path for her. She hastened to her room, locked the door and
went to the window. He made a gesture of haste, and she dropped the
ball down to him. This was not the second time that their conversation
had been held by means of a thread. Indeed, they had come to talk so
every night. At first it had been a few words only, and Silvia's
unconsciousness and her sincerity in her intention to follow her
mother's will had imposed silence on the young man. But little by
little he had ventured, and she had understood; and within the last
week there had been no concealments between them, though Silvia still
resisted all his prayers to change her resolution and brave her

His first note was in her hands in a moment:

"Is it possible that what I hear is true? I will not believe it: I
will not let you go."

"Yes, and I must go," she wrote back. "I have to start at seven in the
morning. Dear Claudio, be resigned: there is no help for it."

"Silvia, why will you persist in ruining your life and mine? It is a
sin. Say that you are too sick to go to-morrow. Stay in bed all day,
and by night I will have a rope-ladder for you to come down to me. We
can run away and hide somewhere."

"I cannot. We could never hide from Matteo: he would find us out and
kill us both."

"I will go to the Holy Father and tell him all. We could be in Rome
early in the morning if we should walk all night."

"Matteo would hear us: he hears everything. We should never reach
Rome. He would find us wherever we might be hidden. If we were dead
and buried he would pull us out of the ground to stab us. I must go.
I have sinned in having so much intercourse with you. Be resigned,
Claudio. Be a good man, and we shall meet in heaven. The earth is a
terrible place: I am afraid of it. I want to shut myself up in the
convent and be at peace. I fear so much that I tremble all the time.
Say addio."

"I cannot. Will you stay in bed to-morrow, and let me try if I cannot
go to Rome?"

"Say addio, Claudio. I dare not stay here any longer: I hear some one
outside my door. I say addio to you now. I shall not drop the ball

She did not even draw it up again, for the thread caught on a nail in
the wall and broke. And at the same time there was a knock at her

"Silvia, why do you not go to bed?" Matteo called out: "I hear you

"I am going now," she made haste to answer, and in her terror threw
herself on the bed without undressing. She wondered if Matteo could
hear her heart beat through the wall or see how she was shaking.

The next morning at seven o'clock Silvia and her brother took their
seats in the clumsy coach that goes from Monte Compatri to Rome
whenever there are passengers enough to fill it, and after confused
leavetakings from all but the one she wished most to see they set out.
Claudio was invisible. In fact, he had lain on the ground all night
beneath her window, and now, hidden in a tree, was watching the
winding road for an occasional glimpse of the carriage as it bore his
love away.

The peasants of Italy, when they see the Milky Way stretching its
wavering, cloudy path across the sky, shining as if made up of the
footprints of innumerable saints, say that it is the road to
Jerusalem. The road to the New Jerusalem has no such pallid and
spiritual glory: its colors are those of life. No death but that of
martyrdom, with its rosy blood, waving palm-branch and golden crown,
is figured there. Life, and the joy of life, beauty so profuse that it
can afford to have a few blemishes like a slatternly Venus, and the
_dolce far niente_ of poverty that neither works nor starves,--they
lie all along the road.

Silvia was young, and had all her life looked forward to this journey.
She could not be quite indifferent. She looked and listened, though
all the time her heart was heavy for Claudio. They reached the gate of
St. John Lateran just as all the bells began to ring for the noon
_Angelus_, and in fifteen minutes were at the Signora Fantini's door
and Silvia in the kind lady's arms. It seemed to the girl that she had
found her mother again. That this lady was more gracious, graceful,
kind and beautiful than her mother had ever been she would not think.
She was simply another mother. And when Matteo had gone away home
again, not too soon, and when, after a few days' sightseeing, the
signora, suspecting that the continued sadness of her young guest had
some other cause than separation from her brother and sister, sought
persistently and artfully to win her secret, Silvia told her all with
many tears. She was going to be a nun because her mother had said that
she must--and she was willing to be a nun--certainly she was willing.
But, for all that, if it could have been so, she would have been so
happy with Claudio, and she never should be quite happy without him.

"Then you must not be a nun," the signora said decidedly. "The thing
is all wrong. You have no vocation. You should have said all this

For already the signora had taken Silvia to see the Superior at Monte
Cavallo, who had promised to receive the young novice in three weeks,
and had told her what work she could perform in the convent. "You are
not strong, I think," she had said, "but you can knit the stockings.
All have to work."

And Monsignor Catinari, whose business it was to examine all
candidates for the conventual life, had held a long conversation with
her and gone away perfectly satisfied.

But when the signora proposed to undo all this, Silvia was wild with
terror. No, no, she would be a nun. Her mother had said so, she wished
it, and Matteo would kill her if she should refuse.

"Leave it all to me," the signora said, and laid her motherly hand on
the trembling little ones held out to her in entreaty. "We will look
out for that. Matteo shall not hurt you or Claudio. I am going to send
for Monsignor Catinari again, and you must tell him the truth this
time. And then we will see what can be done in the case. Don't look so
terrified, child. Do you think that Matteo rules the world?"

Poor little Silvia could not be reassured, for to her other terrors
was now added Monsignor Catinari's possible wrath. To her, men were
objects of terror. The doctrine of masculine supremacy, so pitilessly
upheld in Italy, was exaggerated to her mind by her brother's
character; and though she believed that help was sometimes possible,
she also believed that it often came too late, as in the case of poor
Beatrice Cenci. They might stand between her and Matteo, but if he had
first killed her, what good would it do? She had a fixed idea that he
would kill her.

Monsignor Catinari was indeed much provoked when the signora told him
the true story of the little novice.

"Just see what creatures girls are!" he exclaimed. "How are we to know
if they have a vocation or not? That girl professed herself both
willing and desirous to be a nun."

He did not scold Silvia, however. When he saw her pretty frightened
face his heart relented. "You have told me a good many lies, my
child," he said, "but I forgive you, since they were not intended in
malice. We will say no more about it. I learn from the signora that
this Claudio is a good young man, so the sooner you are married the
better. Cheer up: we will have you a bride by the first week of
November; and if Claudio has such a wonderful voice, he can make his
way in Rome." The reassurances of a man were more effectual than those
of a woman.

"At last I believe! at last I fear no more!" Silvia cried, throwing
herself into the arms of the Signora Fantini when the Monsignor was
gone. "Oh how beautiful the earth is! how beautiful life is!"

"We will then begin immediately to enjoy life," the signora replied.
"Collation is ready, and Nanna has bought us some of the most
delicious grapes. See how large and rich they are! One could almost
slice them. There! these black figs are like honey. Try one now,
before your soup. The macaroni that will be brought in presently was
made in the house--none of your Naples stuff, made nobody knows how or
by whom. What else Nanna has for us I cannot say. She was very secret
this morning, and I suspect that means rice-balls seasoned with
mushrooms and hashed giblets of turkey. She always becomes mysterious
when those are in preparation. Eat well, child, and get a little flesh
and color before Claudio comes."

They made a merry breakfast, with the noon sun sending its golden
arrows through every tiniest chink of the closed shutters and an
almost summer heat reigning without. Then there was an hour of sleep,
then a drive to the Pincio to see all the notable people who came up
there to look at or speak to each other while the sun sank behind St.
Peter's. And in the evening after dinner they went to the housetop to
see the fireworks which were being displayed for some festa or other;
and later there was music, and then to bed.

Life became an enchantment to the little bride-elect, as life in Italy
will become to any one who has not too heavy a cross to bear. For
peace in this beautiful land means delight, not merely the absence of
pain. How the sun shone! and how the fountains danced! What roses
bloomed everywhere! what fruits of Eden were everywhere piled! How
soft the speech was! and how sweet the smiles! And when it was
discovered that Silvia had a beautiful voice, so that she and Claudio
would be like a pair of birds together, then it seemed to her that a
nest of twigs on a tree-branch would be all that she could desire.

They took her to see the pope on one of those days. It was as if they
had taken her to heaven. To her he was the soul of Rome, the reason
why Rome was; and when she saw his white figure against the scarlet
background of cardinals she remembered how Rome looked against the
rosy Campagna at sunset from her far-away window in Monte Compatri.

"A little _sposa_, is she?" the pope said when Monsignor Catinari
presented her.--"I bless you, my child: wear this in memory of me." He
gave her a little gold medal from a tiny pocket at his side, laid his
hand on her head, and passed on. It was too much: she had to weep for

Then, when the audience was over, they took her through the museum and
library, and some one gave her a bunch of roses out of the pope's
private garden, and she was put into a carriage and driven home, her
heart beating somewhere in her head, her feet winged and her eyes

There was a rapturous letter from Claudio awaiting her, and by that
she knew that it was not all a dream. She rattled the paper in her
hands as she sat with her eyes shut, half dreaming, to make sure and
keep sure that she was not to wake up presently to bitterness. Claudio
would come to Rome in a week, and perhaps they would be married before
he should go back. There was no letter from Matteo. So much the

One golden day succeeded another, and Silvia changed from a lily to a
rose with marvellous rapidity. She was not a ruddy, full-leaved rose,
though, but like one of those delicate ones with clouds of red on them
and petals that only touch the calyx, as if they were wings and must
be free to move. She was slim and frail, and her color wavered, and
her head had a little droop, and her voice was low. She had always
been the stillest creature alive; and now, full of happiness as she
was, her feelings showed themselves in an uneasy stirring, like that
of a flower in which a bee has hidden itself. After the first outburst
she did not so much say that she was happy as breathe and look it.

One noonday, when life seemed too beautiful to last, and they all sat
together after breakfast, the signora, her daughter and Silvia, too
contented to say a word, the door opened, and Matteo Guai came in with
a black, smileless face, and not the slightest salutation for his
sister. He had come to take Silvia home, he replied briefly to the
signora's compliments. She must be ready in an hour. The vintage was
suffering by his absence, and it was necessary that he should return
at once.

Signora Fantini poured out the most voluble exclamations, prayers and
protests. She had forty engagements for Silvia. They had had only a
few days' visit from her, and she was to have stayed a month. They
would themselves accompany her to Monte Compatri later if it was
necessary that she should go. But, in fine, Monsignor Catinari did not
expect her to return.

"I am the head of the family, and my sister has to obey me till she is
married," Matteo replied doggedly. "I suppose that Monsignor Catinari
will not deny that. The Church always supports the authority of the
master of the family."

"Why, of course," the signora replied, rather confused by this
irresistible argument, "you have the right, and no one will resist
you. But as a favor now--" and the signora assumed her most coaxing
smile, and even advanced a plump white hand to touch Matteo's sleeve.

She might as well have tried to bewitch and persuade the bronze
Augustus on the Capitoline Hill.

"Things have changed since it was promised that Silvia should stay a
month with you," Matteo replied. "There is work at home for her to do.
Since she is not to be a nun, she must work. Let her be ready to start
in an hour: my carriage is waiting at the door. I am going out into
the piazza for a little while. I will send a man up for her trunk when
I am ready to start."

Silvia uttered not a word. At sight of her brother she had sunk back
in her chair white and speechless. On hearing his voice she had closed
her eyes.

He half turned to her before going out, looking at her out of the
corners of his evil eyes, a cold, strange smile wreathing his lips.
"So you are not going to be a nun?" he said.

She did not respond. Only the quiver of her lowered eyelids and a
slight shiver told that she knew he was addressing her.

Matteo went out, and the signora, at her wits' end, undertook to
encourage Silvia. There was no time to see Monsignor Catinari or to
appeal to any authority; and if there were, it would have availed
nothing perhaps. Almost any one would have said that the girl's
terrors were fanciful, and that it was quite natural her brother, who
would lose five hundred scudi by her change of purpose, should require
her to work as other girls of her condition worked.

"Cheer up and go with him, _figlia mia_," she said, "and leave all to
me. I will see Monsignor Catinari this very evening, and post a letter
to you before I go to bed. If Matteo is unkind to you, we will have
you taken away from him at once. And, in any case, you shall be
married in a few weeks at the most, as Monsignor promised. Don't cry
so: don't say that you cannot go. I am sorry and vexed, my dear, but
I see no way but for you to go. Depend upon me. No harm shall come to
you. I will myself come to Monte Compatri within the week, and arrange
all for you. Besides, recollect that you will see Claudio: he is there
waiting for you. Perhaps you may see him this very evening."

The Signora Fantini's efforts to cheer and reassure the sister were as
ineffectual as her efforts to persuade the brother had been. Silvia
submitted because she had no strength to resist.

"O Madonna mia!" she kept murmuring, "he will kill me! he will kill
me! O Madonna mia! pray for me."

When an Italian says that he will come back in an hour, you may look
for him after two hours. Matteo was no exception to the rule. It was
already mid-afternoon when the porter came up and said that Silvia's
brother was waiting for her below.

The signora gave her a tumbler half full of _vin santo_, which she
kept for special occasions--a strong, delicious wine with the perfume
of a whole garden in it. "Drink every drop," she commanded: "it will
give you courage. You had better be a little tipsy than fainting away.
And put this bottle into your pocket to drink when you have need on
the way."

More dead than alive, Silvia was placed in the little old-fashioned
carriage that Matteo had hired to come to Rome in, and her brother
took his seat beside her. The Signora Fantini and her daughter leaned
from the window, kissing their hands to her and shaking their
handkerchiefs as long as she was in sight. And as long as she was in
sight they saw her pale face turned backward, looking at them. Then
the tawny stone of a church-corner hid her from their eyes for ever.

Who knows or can guess what that drive was? The two passed through
Frascati, and Matteo stopped to speak to an acquaintance there. They
drove around Monte Porzio, and Matteo stopped again, to buy a glass of
wine and some figs. He offered some to his sister, but she shook her

"She is sleepy," her brother said to the man of whom he had bought.
"Give me another tumbler of wine: it isn't bad."

"It is the last barrel I have of the vintage of two years ago," the
man replied. "It was a good vintage. If the signorina would take a
drop she would sleep the better. Besides, the night is coming on and
there is a chill in the air."

Silvia opened her eyes and made the little horizontal motion with her
forefinger which in Italy means no.

"She will sleep well enough," Matteo said, and drove on.

Night was coming on, and they had no more towns to pass--only a bit
more of lonely level road and the lonely road that wound to and fro up
the mountain-side. At the best, they could not reach home before ten
o'clock. The road went to and fro--sometimes open, to give a view of
the Campagna and the Sabine Mountains, and Soracte swimming in a
lustrous dimness on the horizon; sometimes shut in closely by trees,
that made it almost black in spite of the moon. For the moon was low
and gave but little light, being but a crescent as yet. There was a
shooting star now and then, breaking out like a rocket with a trail of
sparks or slipping small and pallid across the sky.

One of these latter might have been poor Silvia's soul slipping away
from the earth. It went out there somewhere on the mountain-side.
Matteo said the carriage tilted, and she, being asleep, fell out
before he could prevent. Her temple struck a sharp rock, and Claudio
missed his bride.

He had to keep quiet about it, though. What could he prove? what could
any one prove? Where knives are sharp and people mind their own
business, or express their opinions only by a shrug of the shoulders
and a grimace, how is a poor boy, how is even a rich man or a rich
woman, to come at the truth in such a case? Besides, the truth would
not have brought her back, poor little Silvia!


Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors; otherwise
every effort has been made to remain true to the author's words and

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