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Title: Princess Mary's Gift Book - All profits on sale given to the Queen's "Work for Women" - Fund which is acting in Conjunction with The National - Relief Fund
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Princess Mary's Gift Book - All profits on sale given to the Queen's "Work for Women" - Fund which is acting in Conjunction with The National - Relief Fund" ***

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[Illustration: _Painted for Princess Mary's Gift Book by J. J. Shannon,
R.A._

                                                               Mary.]



[Illustration]

BUCKINGHAM PALACE


_I desire to express my very best thanks to the Authors and Artists who
have so generously contributed to my Gift Book._

                                                      Mary.



PRINCESS MARY'S GIFT BOOK

[Illustration]

    All profits from sale are given to
    THE QUEEN'S "WORK FOR
    WOMEN" FUND
    which is acting in conjunction with
    The National Relief Fund

    HODDER & STOUGHTON
    LONDON · NEW YORK · TORONTO

[Illustration]



[Illustration: CONTENTS]


  H.R.H. PRINCESS MARY      _Frontispiece_
  _Painting by_ J. J. SHANNON, R.A.

                                                                  PAGE
  A HOLIDAY IN BED                                 _J. M. Barrie_    1
    Author of "Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens."
    _Painting by_ W. RUSSELL FLINT, A.R.W.S., _and
    Drawings by_ C. E. BROCK

  THE SPY                                      _G. A. Birmingham_    9
    _Drawings by_ H. R. MILLAR      Author of "General John Regan."

  CHARLIE THE COX                                    _Hall Caine_   17
    _Painting by_ CHARLES NAPIER HEMY, R.A., _and_ Author of
        "The Manxman."
    _Drawings by_ ARCH WEBB

  CANADA'S WORD                                    _Ralph Connor_   22
  _Drawings by_ A. J. GOUGH           Author of "The Sky Pilot."

  BIMBASHI JOYCE                                _A. Conan Doyle_    23
  Author of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes."
  _Painting and Drawings by_ R. TALBOT KELLY, R.I.

  THE ANT-LION                                      _J. H. Fabre_   31
  _Painting and Drawings by_ E. J. DETMOLD
        ("The Insects' Homer").

  AN ANGEL OF GOD                     _Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler_   35
  _Drawings by_ STEVEN SPURRIER, R.I.       Author of "Concerning
        Isabel Carnaby."

  A MODEL SOLDIER                               _Charles Garvice_   43
  _Drawings by_ J. H. HARTLEY          Author of "Nance."

  THE LAND OF LET'SPRETEND                     _Lady Sybil Grant_   57
  Author of "The Chequer Board."
  _Painting and Drawings by_ ARTHUR RACKHAM, R.W.S.

  MAGEPA THE BUCK                              _H. Rider Haggard_   63
  _Drawings by_ J. BYAM SHAW, A.R.W.S.           Author of "She."

  TRUE SPARTAN HEARTS                         _Beatrice Harraden_   75
  Author of "Ships that Pass in the Night."
  _Painting and Decorations by_ EDMUND DULAC

  BIG STEAMERS                                  _Rudyard Kipling_   79
  Author of "The Jungle Book."
  _Painting and Drawings by_ NORMAN WILKINSON, R.I.

  A TRUE STORY FROM CAMP                   _The Bishop of London_   81
  _Drawings by_ JOSEPH SIMPSON, R.B.A.

  THE EBONY BOX                                  _A. E. W. Mason_   83
  _Painting and Drawings by_ W. B. WOLLEN, R.I.      Author of
        "The Turnstile."

  A SPELL FOR A FAIRY                              _Alfred Noyes_  101
  Author of "A Tale of Old Japan."
  _Painting and Drawings by_ CLAUDE A. SHEPPERSON, A.R.W.S.

  OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEATH: A PIMPERNEL
  STORY                                          _Baroness Orczy_  105
  _Painting by_ A. C. MICHAEL _and_      Author of "The Scarlet
        Pimpernel."
  _Drawings by_ H. M. BROCK, R.I.

  WHAT CAN A LITTLE CHAP DO?                       _John Oxenham_  112
  _Painting by_ EUGENE HASTAIN _and_      Author of "Barbe of
        Grand Bayou."
  _Drawings by_ GORDON BROWNE, R.I.

  ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT                            _W. Pett Ridge_  115
  _Painting by_ M. E. GRAY _and_     Author of "Mord Em'ly."
  _Drawings by_ LEWIS BAUMER

  THE ESCAPE                                      _Annie S. Swan_  123
  _Drawings by_ HAROLD EARNSHAW        Author of "Mary Garth."

  FLEUR-DE-LIS                              _Kate Douglas Wiggin_  130
  Author of "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm."
  _Painting by_ CARLTON A. SMITH, R.I., _and_
  _Drawings by_ EDMUND J. SULLIVAN, A.R.W.S.

      SPARTAN HEARTS, by Beatrice Harraden, was first
      published in a volume entitled "Untold Tales of the
      Past"; BIG STEAMERS, by Rudyard Kipling, in "A History
      of England," by C. R. L. Fletcher and Rudyard Kipling;
      BIMBASHI JOYCE, by Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Green
      Flag, and other Stories"; and we have to thank Messrs.
      William Blackwood & Sons, The Oxford University Press,
      and Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. for permission to
      include these contributions in Princess Mary's Gift
      Book.

      With these exceptions the poems and stories in this
      book have not previously been issued in volume form.
      The illustrations have all been specially painted and
      drawn, and an exhibition of the work of the artists
      who have thus contributed to Princess Mary's Gift Book
      will be held at the Leicester Galleries, Leicester
      Square, W.C., and the originals sold in aid of the
      Queen's "Work for Women" Fund.



A Holiday in Bed by J.M. Barrie

[Illustration: _Painting by_ W. RUSSELL FLINT, A.R.W.S., _and Drawings
by_ C. E. BROCK]


PEOPLE have tried a holiday in bed before now, and found it a failure,
but that was because they were ignorant of the rules. They went to bed
with the open intention of staying there, say, three days, and found to
their surprise that each morning they wanted to get up. This was a novel
experience to them; they flung about restlessly, and probably shortened
their holiday. The proper thing is to take your holiday in bed with a
vague intention of getting up in another quarter of an hour. The real
pleasure of lying in bed after you are awake is largely due to the
feeling that you ought to get up. To take another quarter of an hour
then becomes a luxury. You are, in short, in the position of the man who
dined on larks. Had he seen the hundreds that were ready for him, all
set out on one monster dish, they would have alarmed him; but getting
them two at a time, he went on eating till all the larks were gone. His
feeling of uncertainty as to whether these might not be his last two
larks is your feeling that, perhaps, you will have to get up in a
quarter of an hour. Deceive yourself in this way, and your holiday in
bed will pass only too quickly.

Sympathy is what all the world is craving for, and sympathy is what the
ordinary holiday-maker never gets. How can we be expected to sympathise
with you when we know you are off to Perthshire to fish? No; we say we
wish we were you, and forget that your holiday is sure to be a hollow
mockery; that your child will jam her finger in the railway carriage,
and scream to the end of the journey; that you will lose your luggage;
that the guard will notice your dog beneath the seat, and insist on its
being paid for; that you will be caught in a Scotch mist on the top of a
mountain, and be put on gruel for a fortnight; that your wife will fret
herself into a fever about the way the servant, who has been left at
home, is treating her cousins, the milkman, and the policeman; and that
you will be had up for trespassing. Yet, when you tell us you are off
to-morrow, we have never the sympathy to say, "Poor fellow, I hope
you'll pull through somehow." If it is an exhibition you go to gaze at,
we never picture you dragging your weary legs from one department to
another, and wondering why your back aches. Should it be the seaside, we
talk heartlessly to you about the "briny," though we must know, if we
would stop to think, that if there is one holiday more miserable than
all the others, it is that spent at the seaside, when you wander along
the weary beach and fling pebbles at the sea, and wonder how long it
will be till dinner-time. Were we to come down to see you, we should
probably find you, not on the beach, but moving slowly through the
village, looking in at the one milliner's window, or laboriously reading
what the one grocer's labels say on the subject of pale ale, compressed
beef, or vinegar. There was never an object that called aloud for
sympathy more than you do, but you get not a jot of it. You should take
the first train home and go to bed for three days.

To enjoy your holiday in bed to the full, you should let it be vaguely
understood that there is something amiss with you. Don't go into
details, for they are not necessary; and, besides, you want to be dreamy
more or less, and the dreamy state is not consistent with a definite
ailment. The moment one takes to bed he gets sympathy. He may be
suffering from a tearing headache or a tooth that makes him cry out; but
if he goes about his business, or even flops in a chair, true sympathy
is denied him. Let him take to bed with one of those illnesses of which
he can say with accuracy that he is not quite certain what is the matter
with him, and his wife, for instance, will want to bathe his brow. She
must not be made too anxious. That would not only be cruel to her, but
it would wake you from the dreamy state. She must simply see that you
are "not yourself." Women have an idea that unless men are "not
themselves" they will not take to bed, and as a consequence your wife is
tenderly thoughtful of you. Every little while she will ask you if you
are feeling any better now, and you can reply, with the old regard for
truth, that you are "much about it." You may even (for your own
pleasure) talk of getting up now, when she will earnestly urge you to
stay in bed until you feel easier. You consent; indeed, you are ready to
do anything to please her.

[Illustration: And wonder how long it will be till dinner-time]

The ideal holiday in bed does not require the presence of a ministering
angel in the room all day. You frequently prefer to be alone, and point
out to her that you cannot have her trifling with her health for your
sake, and so she must go out for a walk. She is reluctant, but finally
goes, protesting that you are the most unselfish of men, and only too
good for her. This leaves a pleasant aroma behind it, for even when
lying in bed, we like to feel that we are uncommonly fine fellows. After
she has gone you get up cautiously, and, walking stealthily to the
wardrobe, produce from the pocket of your greatcoat a good novel. A
holiday in bed must be arranged for beforehand. With a gleam in your eye
you slip back to bed, double your pillow to make it higher, and begin to
read. You have only got to the fourth page, when you make a horrible
discovery--namely, that the book is not cut. An experienced
holiday-maker would have had it cut the night before, but this is your
first real holiday, or perhaps you have been thoughtless. In any case
you have now matter to think of. You are torn in two different ways.
There is your coat on the floor with a knife in it, but you cannot reach
the coat without getting up again. Ought you to get the knife or to give
up reading? Perhaps it takes a quarter of an hour to decide this
question, and you decide it by discovering a third course. Being a sort
of an invalid, you have certain privileges which would be denied you if
you were merely sitting in a chair in the agonies of neuralgia. One of
the glorious privileges of a holiday in bed is that you are entitled to
cut books with your fingers. So you cut the novel in this way, and read
on.

[Illustration: You are in the middle of a chapter--]

Those who have never tried it may fancy that there is a lack of incident
in a holiday in bed. There could not be a more monstrous mistake. You
are in the middle of a chapter, when suddenly you hear a step upon the
stairs. Your loving ears tell you that the ministering angel has
returned, and is hastening to you. Now, what happens? The book
disappears beneath the pillow, and when she enters the room softly you
are lying there with your eyes shut. This is not merely incident; it is
drama.

What happens next depends on circumstances. She says, in a low voice:

"Are you feeling any easier now, John?"

No answer.

"Oh, I believe he is sleeping."

Then she steals from the room, and you begin to read again.

[Illustration: A Holiday in Bed

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Russell Flint, A.R.W.S._]

[Illustration: --Suddenly you hear a step]

During a holiday in bed one never thinks, of course, of analysing his
actions. If you had done so in this instance, you would have seen that
you pretended sleep because you had got to an exciting passage. You love
your wife, but, wife or no wife, you must see how the passage ends.

Possibly the little scene plays differently, as thus:

"John, are you feeling any easier now?"

No answer.

"Are you asleep?"

No answer.

"What a pity! I don't want to waken him, and yet the fowl will be
spoilt."

"Is that you back, Marion?"

"Yes, dear; I thought you were asleep."

"No, only thinking."

"You think too much, dear. I have cooked a chicken for you."

"I have no appetite."

"I'm so sorry, but I can give it to the children."

"Oh, as it's cooked, you may as well bring it up."

[Illustration: You are lying there with your eyes shut]

In that case the reason of your change of action is obvious. But why do
you not let your wife know that you have been reading? This is another
matter that you never reason about. Perhaps it is because of your
craving for sympathy, and you fear that if you were seen enjoying a
novel the sympathy would go. Or perhaps it is that a holiday in bed is
never perfect without a secret. Monotony must be guarded against, and so
long as you keep the book to yourself your holiday in bed is a healthy
excitement. A stolen book (as we may call it) is like stolen fruit,
sweeter than what you can devour openly. The boy enjoys his stolen apple
because at any moment he may have to slip it down the leg of his
trousers and pretend that he has merely climbed the tree to enjoy the
scenery. You enjoy your book doubly because you feel that it is a
forbidden pleasure. Or do you conceal your book from your wife lest she
should think you are over-exerting yourself? She must not be made
anxious on your account? Ah, that is it.

People who pretend (for it must be pretence) that they enjoy their
holiday in the country, explain that the hills or the sea give them such
an appetite. I could never myself feel the delight of being able to
manage an extra herring for breakfast, but it should be pointed out that
neither mountains nor oceans give you such an appetite as a holiday in
bed. What makes people eat more anywhere is that they have nothing else
to do, and in bed you have lots of time for meals. As for the quality of
the food supplied, there is no comparison. In the highlands it is ham
and eggs all day till you sicken. At the seaside it is fish till the
bones stick in your mouth. But in bed--oh, there you get something worth
eating. You don't take three big meals a day, but twelve little ones,
and each time it is something different from the last. There are
delicacies for breakfast, for your four luncheons and your five dinners.
You explain to your wife that you have lost your appetite, and she
believes you, but at the same time she has the sense to hurry on your
dinner. At the clatter of dishes (for which you have been lying
listening) you raise your poor head, and say faintly:

"Really, Marion, I can't touch food."

"But this is nothing," she says, "only the wing of a partridge."

You take a side glance at it, and see that there is also the other wing
and the body and two legs. Your alarm thus dispelled, you say:

"I really can't."

"But, dear, it is so beautifully cooked."

"Yes, but I have no appetite."

"But try to take it, John, for my sake."

Then for her sake you say she can leave it on the chair, and perhaps you
will just taste it. As soon as she has gone you devour that partridge,
and when she comes back she has the sense to say:

"Why, you have scarcely eaten anything. What could you take for supper?"

You say you can take nothing, but if she likes she can cook a large
sole, only you won't be able to touch it.

[Illustration: "But try to take it, John, for my sake"]

"Poor dear," she says, "your appetite has completely gone," and then she
rushes to the kitchen to cook the sole with her own hands. In half an
hour she steals into your room with it, and then you (who have been
wondering why she is so long) start up protesting:

"I hope, Marion, this is nothing for me."

"Only the least bit of a sole, dear."

"But I told you I could eat nothing."

"Well, this is nothing, it is so small."

You look again, and see with relief that it is a large sole.

"I would much rather that you took it away."

"But, dear----"

"I tell you I have no appetite."

"Of course I know that; but how can you hope to preserve your strength
if you eat so little? You have had nothing all day."

You glance at her face to see if she is in earnest, for you can remember
three breakfasts, four luncheons and two dinners; but evidently she is
not jesting. Then you yield.

"Oh, well, to keep my health up I may just put a fork into it."

"Do, dear; it will do you good, though you have no caring for it."

Take a holiday in bed, if only to discover what an angel your wife is.

[Illustration: The chances are that he won't understand your case]

There is one thing to guard against. Never call it a holiday. Continue
not to feel sure what is wrong with you, and to talk vaguely of getting
up presently. Your wife will suggest calling in the doctor, but
pooh-pooh him. Be firm on that point. The chances are that he won't
understand your case.



[Illustration]



THE SPY

BY G. A. BIRMINGHAM

_Drawings by_ H. R. MILLAR

_Copyright in the U.S.A. by G. A. Birmingham_


OUR village used to be one of the quietest in England. We prided
ourselves that nothing ever happened there to excite or worry us in any
way. Colonel Challenger, of the Royal Engineers, retired, often
congratulated the vicar, who is upwards of sixty-five years of age, on
the unbroken peace which we enjoyed. The vicar used to remind me, once a
fortnight or so, that we owed our happiness largely to the fact that we
were eight miles from a railway station. When I met Hankly, a retired
Indian judge, in the post office I invariably pointed out to him that
our lot would be much less pleasant if we lived in a neighbourhood where
tennis parties were rife or among people who expected us to turn out in
the evenings after dinner to play cards. Lord Manby, who owns the
village and all the country round it, used to pay a visit to his home
every year and ask us each to lunch with him once. We all accepted these
invitations, but we told each other that they were a horrible nuisance
and a most disagreeable break in the monotony of our lives. I think we
were all quite honest and really believed that we were perfectly happy.

Then Mrs. Clegg C. Mimms rented the Manor House from Lord Manby, and all
peace came to an end for us. She described herself on her visiting cards
as "the Honourable Mrs. Mimms," and that disturbed us to begin with. We
had to meet each other pretty frequently to discuss how she could be the
Honourable Mrs. anything. She was plainly and unmistakably an American,
and the vicar was of opinion that, since there are no titles in the
American Republic, neither Mrs. Mimms nor her late husband could be the
descendant of a lord. Hankly, who has seen a great deal of the world,
told us that American ambassadors are styled the Right Honourable, and
that Mrs. Mimms's husband might have been an ambassador. The Colonel
maintained that ambassadors are like bishops and cannot share their
official titles with their wives, particularly after they are dead. My
own view was that if Mrs. Mimms wanted to be styled "the Honourable" it
would be discourteous to deny her the title.

We had hardly settled down again after deciding this point when Mrs.
Mimms upset us still more seriously. She gave a Christmas Tree to the
village children. At first we thought that this would not matter to any
one except the vicar. We were mistaken about that. Mrs. Mimms made us
all help. The Colonel and I spent a long afternoon on a step-ladder
sticking candles on the branches. Hankly, who is a lean, yellow little
man, was made to dress himself up as "Father Christmas." We got no
dinner on the evening of the party, and very nearly had to dance with
the children afterwards. The presents which Mrs. Mimms distributed to
the children were of the most gorgeous and expensive kind. We all agreed
that she must be enormously rich, and the Colonel said that she would
demoralise the whole village.

She certainly demoralised us. We found ourselves invited to dinner at
the Manor House twice, sometimes three times, a week, and had a standing
invitation to supper every Sunday night. It was no use refusing the
invitations. I tried that twice; but Mrs. Mimms simply came round to my
house in her motor and fetched me. The Colonel complained bitterly. He
has been writing a book on Chhota Nagpur ever since I knew him, and he
said that he hated being interrupted in the evenings. He only dined with
Mrs. Mimms in order to avoid unpleasantness with his wife, who wanted to
go. Hankly said plainly that Mrs. Mimms had a very good cook, and we all
came in the end to accept that as our excuse for dining with her.

It is, I know, scarcely credible, but last Easter she dragged us into
private theatricals. By that time we had agreed that Mrs. Mimms, in
spite of her annoying lack of repose, was a very kind-hearted woman, and
we did not wish to snub her in any way. My own part in the play let me
in for a love scene with Mrs. Challenger, the most grotesquely absurd
thing imaginable, for the lady is sixty at least and enormously fat. I
should never have agreed to do it, however good-hearted Mrs. Mimms might
be, if Hankly had not been cast for the part of an heroic Christian
curate, and I knew he would look even more foolish than I did when I
kissed Mrs. Challenger's left ear. Hankly hated being an heroic
Christian curate and did not do the part at all well. We got through the
theatricals in June, and after that, except for a couple of picnics
every week, we had a comparatively quiet time until the war broke out.
Mrs. Mimms broke out at the same time. All festivities, even picnics,
stopped at once, of course, and we all began to take life very
strenuously. Mrs. Mimms outdid us easily in every form of activity.

She began by erecting a flag-staff at the Manor House gates and hoisting
an enormous American flag on it, the largest American flag I have ever
seen. The Colonel, who had his motor decorated with a French and a
Belgian flag as well as a Union Jack, said that Mrs. Mimms's Stars and
Stripes were, under the circumstances, rather bad form. Hankly and I
agreed with him, and we made the vicar speak to her about it. She
explained to him that she had hoisted it entirely for our good. It was,
so she told the vicar, and he told us, the only flag in the world which
the Germans would respect, and that when the Uhlans entered our village
we could all congregate in perfect safety under its folds. The Colonel
was furious--we were all rather angry--at the idea that the Germans
would ever set foot in England; but there was no denying that Mrs. Mimms
meant to be kind when she hoisted the flag. Besides, she is a difficult
woman to argue with, and we did not quite see how we could make her take
the thing down.

Hankly and I more or less forgave her, though, as it appeared, the
Colonel did not, when she came forward at a meeting summoned by the
vicar and offered to turn the Manor House into a hospital for wounded
soldiers. The generosity of her proposal actually staggered us. She
intended, so she said--and I quite believe it--to turn out all the
existing furniture of the house, fit the place up with the latest
sanitary devices, hire two surgeons and a competent staff of nurses who
should be under her own personal supervision. We at once wired to the
War Office and expected to be thanked gratefully. As a matter of fact we
never got any official acknowledgment of the offer at all. What we did
get--or rather what Mrs. Mimms got--was a letter from Lord Manby's
solicitor pointing out that the agreement under which she had taken the
Manor House did not allow of her getting rid of the furniture or using
the place in any way except as an ordinary dwelling.

I thought that Lord Manby was a little unsympathetic, and that the War
Office might very well have replied to our telegram, but the Colonel
took quite a different line. He said that Mrs. Mimms was an interfering
old woman who deserved to be snubbed. We all hoped that after this
set-back she would be a little subdued and allow us to manage our own
war in our own way.

[Illustration: Charlie the Cox

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Charles Napier Hemy, R.A._]

For a time she kept tolerably quiet. She contented herself with making
shirts and subscribing to various funds like any ordinary woman. She
was, so my wife told me, an amazingly rapid worker, and could turn out
three shirts while any other woman in the village was making two. Her
subscriptions were very generous. Gradually the whole activities of our
village centred in the Manor House. Mrs. Mimms put up another flag-staff
and flew a large Red Cross from it. Working parties went on in her
dining-room from morning to night, and hardly a day passed without a
committee meeting. The vicar, Colonel Challenger, Hankly, and I were the
committee, and we met whenever Mrs. Mimms summoned us. The vicar was
supposed to preside, but it was Mrs. Mimms who suggested the things we
did. The Colonel objected, in private, to every suggestion she made, but
he never succeeded in carrying a point against her. Once or twice she
got us into trouble. There was, for instance, a lot of ill feeling when
we sealed up the village pump and set my chauffeur to keep guard over it
with a gun, only allowing people to draw water for an hour in the
morning and an hour in the evening. Mrs. Mimms had a theory that a
German might come in an aeroplane and poison our water supply. That
would have been a horrible thing: but the people in the village made a
fuss about not being able to get at the pump. Tompkins, the innkeeper,
who was particularly objectionable, said that he only used the water for
washing and would rather have it poisoned than do without it.

We all began to get rather tired of being rushed into doing things we
didn't want to do; but we were none of us able to withstand Mrs. Mimms.
The Colonel said that we ought to drive her out of the village
altogether, but he never succeeded in suggesting any practical way of
doing it.

Fortunately she got tired of making shirts and holding committee
meetings after about a month. Then she said she was going up to London
to get a few families of Belgian refugees. We were all greatly pleased,
for we felt that her energies might be turned into a channel which would
save us from making fools of ourselves. I saw her off at the station,
and we waited with the greatest curiosity to see what would happen. I
suppose the Belgian Consul felt doubtful about Mrs. Mimms when he met
her. At all events she came back without a single refugee. Most women
would have been a little disappointed at a failure like that, but Mrs.
Mimms was as full of energy as ever. She had, it appeared, called at
several public offices in London and had been immensely impressed by the
Boy Scouts whom she saw waiting about the doors.

[Illustration: We sealed up the village pump and set my chauffeur to
keep guard]

"They're the cutest things I've seen in England," she said, "and their
bare knees are just sweet. I could kiss them all day. I simply must
have a couple to stand on guard while the working parties are going on."

I talked to the vicar, Hankly, and the Colonel about this. I did not see
how we could possibly provide Mrs. Mimms with Boy Scouts, for there were
none in the parish. The vicar said he was sorry that he had not started
the organisation long ago, but supposed it was too late to do so now. To
my surprise the Colonel, who up to that time had been getting angrier
and angrier with Mrs. Mimms, took her side and said that if she wanted
Boy Scouts she ought to have them. He proposed that we should enrol four
choir boys at once, and offered to buy uniforms for them himself. The
vicar was a little doubtful, but Hankly and I backed up the Colonel. We
were very tired of the constant committee meetings, and we hoped that if
Mrs. Mimms got really interested in Boy Scouts she might let us alone.
We acted promptly, and in a week had four boys ready to stand on guard
at the doors of the Manor House.

The Colonel gave them a talking to at their first parade. He impressed
on them the fact that discipline and strict obedience to orders are the
essence of a military manhood. He quoted Tennyson, and made the boys
repeat the lines after him:

    "Theirs not to make reply,
     Theirs not to reason why."

He succeeded in inspiring them with a tremendous sense of their own
importance. My idea was that he was trying to prepare them for having
their knees kissed by Mrs. Mimms.

For a time everything went well. The boys got off going to school and
were immensely pleased. Mrs. Mimms fed them with dainties at odd hours
of the day, and always had a basket of apples in the porch from which
they could help themselves. So far as I knew she never attempted to kiss
either their knees or any other part of them. The Colonel kept on
exhorting them. He paid them a visit every morning, and insisted on
their reporting themselves at his house when they went off duty in the
evening.

About a fortnight after the boys first went on guard Mrs. Mimms
complained to the vicar that she had found one of them concealed under
the dining-room table while she was at luncheon. She said that she did
not like the feeling that she might kick a boy every time she stretched
her leg while she was at meals. The vicar, of course, promised to speak
to the boy.

The next day Mrs. Mimms made another complaint. One of the boys had
climbed up by some creepers, and was found by her maid sitting on the
window-sill of a bedroom early in the morning. It was not Mrs. Mimms's
bedroom, but, as she explained, it might have been. She had no
particular objection, so she told the vicar, to a Boy Scout in her
bedroom at any reasonable hour, but she did not want the child to break
his neck.

Then the postmaster gave me a hint that Mrs. Mimms's letters, which were
posted every day by one of the Scouts, showed signs of having been
opened and closed again before they came into his hands. He said that if
this was being done by the Colonel's orders it was all right, but he
thought he ought to tell me about it. I met the vicar in the street
immediately afterwards and said I thought the Scouts were getting out of
hand and ought to be disbanded at once. He agreed with me.

While we were discussing the matter Hankly came up to us and said he
heard that Mrs. Mimms was to be arrested at once as a German spy.

"Tompkins," he said, "is going about the village saying that she ought
to be shot."

Tompkins always blamed Mrs. Mimms for the sealing up of the village
pump, and had never spoken a good word about her since. The vicar was
greatly put out.

"Tut--tut!" he said; "arrested! shot! Nonsense. Mrs. Mimms is a most
estimable lady."

"I'm not so sure about that," said Hankly. "Those boys have been
watching her lately, and there are several things which look
suspicious."

I suppose the vicar and I showed our surprise. Hankly went on to
explain.

"She gives the boys peaches and grapes," he said, "and cakes and
meringues. Now I put it to you--the apples of course I understand. I
might give a boy an apple myself, but I put it to you, vicar, would
anybody give boys like that hothouse grapes and peaches unless--well,
unless there was something to conceal. It's not a natural thing to do."

"Now I come to think of it," said the vicar, "I did meet one of them
yesterday with a peach in his fist."

"There you are," said Hankly triumphantly, "and, anyhow, the police
inspector is coming over to-day to look into the matter."

Mrs. Mimms was not actually arrested. The police inspector--acting on
information received from the Boy Scouts, Tompkins, and indeed almost
every one in the village--made a lot of inquiries about her. He did not
succeed in finding out why she called herself "the Honourable," but the
questions he asked her made her so angry that she packed up her trunks
and left the village at once.

I met the Colonel the day after she left, and told him I was afraid we
should all miss her. The Colonel chuckled in a self-satisfied way.

"I told you we ought to get rid of her," he said, "and we have."

"You don't mean to say you think she was really a spy?" I said.

"She was a good deal worse," said the Colonel; "she was a public
nuisance."

Later on the Colonel took a kindlier view of Mrs. Mimms.

"Only for her," he said to me a week ago, "we shouldn't have had Boy
Scouts here. We have quite a good company now. She did us that much
good, anyhow."

The Colonel did her no more than bare justice. Our Scouts, though they
have caught no more spies, have improved the general tone of the
village. The Colonel is their commanding officer, and, though I do not
say so in public, they have done him a lot of good.

[Illustration



[Illustration]



CHARLIE THE COX

_A LIFE POEM_

BY HALL CAINE

_Painting by_ CHARLES NAPIER HEMY, R.A.

_Drawings by_ ARCH. WEBB


CHARLIE was the cox of our Peel lifeboat. A braver spirit never sailed
the sea.

Years ago, in a terrific gale, a ship from Norway, the _St. George_,
came dead on for the wildest part of our coast, the fierce headland that
lies back of the old Castle rock. The sound signal was fired, and
Charlie and his brave comrades went out to her. She was reeling on the
top of a tremendous sea, and there was no coming near to her side.

It was an awful task to get the crew aboard the lifeboat, but Charlie
saved every soul, and lost not a hand of his own. When the "traveller"
was rigged and the "breeches" were ready, and the crew of the doomed
ship were at the bulwarks waiting to leave her, Charlie sang out over
the clamour of the sea:

"How many are you?"

"Twenty-four," came back as answer.

Then Charlie cried, "I can see only twenty-three."

"The other man is hurt. He's dying. No use saving him," the Norseman
shouted.

"You'll bring the dying man on deck before a soul of you leaves the
ship," cried Charlie.

There was a woman among them, and when the carpenter came scudding down
the rope he had a canvas bag on his back.

"No tools here," shouted Charlie.

"It's the child," said the man.

The captain came next. He had left everything else behind him--his
money, his instruments, his clothes, his ship--but out of his pocket
there peeped the head of a baby's doll.

[Illustration]

It was a thrilling rescue, but to see it in all its splendour you must
have a drop of our Manx blood in you. Our forefathers were from Norway,
our first Norse king was named Gorry. He landed on this island, not far
from this spot. And on that day of the wreck of the _St. George_ his
children's children rescued from the sea the children's children of the
kinsmen he had left at home.

Most of our men had Norse names. One of them was a Gorry, lineal
descendant beyond doubt of the old sea king. The Norwegian Government
felt the touch of great things in this incident. It was not merely that
the bravery of the rescue fired their gratitude. Something called to
them from that deep place where blood answers to the cry of blood. They
sent medals for Charlie and his crew, and the Governor of the island
distributed them inside the roofless walls of the old castle of the
"Black Dog." It was like grasping hands with the past across the space
of a thousand years.

The other day we had another great wind and another brave rescue. The
sun had gone down overnight in a sullen red, very fierce and angry in
his setting, and out of the black north-east the storm had come up while
we slept. In the heavy grey of the dawn the sound-signal fired its
double shot over our little town. A Welsh schooner, which had run in for
shelter during the dark hours, was riding to an anchor in the bay and
flying her ensign for help.

The sea was terrific--a slaty grey, streaked with white foam, like
quartz veins. It was coming over the breakwater in sheets that hid it.
Sometimes it was flying in clouds to the top of the round tower of the
castle. The white sea-fowl were like dark specks darting through it, but
no human ear could hear the cry of their thousand throats in the
thunderous quake of the breakers on the cavernous rocks.

A crowd of men answered the call, and there was no shortness of hands to
man the lifeboat. The big, slow-legged fellows who had been idling on
the quay the day before when the sea was calm were struggling, chafing,
and quarrelling to go out on it now that it was in storm, for the blood
of the old Vikings is in our Manxmen still.

[Illustration]

It was a splendid rescue. The crew of the Welshman were brought ashore.
Then the abandoned schooner rode three hours longer in the gale, and a
hundred men stood and watched her, talking of other winds and other
wrecks, and of Peel boys who were out on the sea. At last the ship
parted her cables and went rolling like a blinded porpoise dead on for
the jagged coast.

Seven men took an open fishing-boat and went after her, and we climbed
the Head to look at them. The wind smote us there like an invisible
wing, sometimes swirling us out of our course, often bringing us to our
knees, and whipping our ears with our hair like rods. Sheets of spray
were coming up to us from below and running along the cliffs like driven
rain. The sun, which had broken in fierce brilliance from a green rent
in the sky, made rainbows in the flying foam.

From the heights we watched the seven men and the open boat. They rose
and fell, appeared and disappeared, but they overtook the Welshman
before she had drifted on to the coast, boarded her with difficulty, let
go another anchor and made her tight. There was nothing else to do, for
she was disabled, and her sails were torn to shreds. The new anchor held
the ship an hour longer, and then there was no help left for her. She
was within a hundred feet of the rocks, and she fell on them with the
groan of a living creature.

The instant her head was down the white lions of the sea leapt over her,
the water swirled through her bulwarks and plunged down her hatch; her
helm was unshipped, her sails were torn from their gaskets, and the
floating home wherein men had sailed and sung and slept and laughed and
jested was a broken wreck in the heavy wallowings of the waves.

When it was over and we were coming back, drenched through and green
with the drift of the sea foam caked thick on our faces, some of us
began to think of Charlie. He had not been there that day. A year or
more ago, in the prime of a splendid manhood, he was stricken by heart
disease. He kept a good heart, nevertheless, and by indomitable will
held on for some time. First a little work, then no work at all, only a
sail now and then if the sea was calm, but of late hardly ever well
enough to take the open air. The old hulk of his poor body had been
anchored deep, but she was parting her cables at last.

[Illustration]

Charlie lay dying while this second rescue was being made. He had not
answered the signal for the lifeboat, but he had heard it in the fierce
light of morning, and they could not keep him in bed. The soul of the
old sea dog leapt to the call, but his ailing body held him down. He
wanted to go out. Wasn't he cox? Had the boat ever gone out without him?

[Illustration]

His house is one of the little places like children's Noah's arks which
dot the line of this hungry shore. He could hear everything and see a
good deal. Often he could hardly keep himself from crying and shouting
aloud. In spirit he was out on the boiling surf, dipping, rising,
stooping, going over, righting again, clambering back, exulting,
glorying, getting nearer the ship, standing off her, rigging the
"traveller," and fetching men aboard in the "breeches." And then away
from the rolling hulk, and sing ho, my lads, and haul through the white
waves for home. But his poor dying body was down on the bed and his face
was sickly scarlet.

Charlie's volcanic soul did not go off to the deep of deeps on the big
breakers and through the wild noises of the storm. He died later. After
the great wind there came a great calm. The air was quiet and full of
the odour of seaweed; banks of seaweed were on the shore, and the broken
schooner was covered with brown wrack, like any rock of the coast; the
sky was round as the inside of a shell, and pale pink like the shadow of
flame; the water was smooth, and land and sea lay like a sleeping child.
In this broad and steady weather our little town was startled by the
double shot again. We went to the windows in surprise, and saw the red
flag over the rocket house, which is the signal for the lifeboat.

Charlie was dead. He had just breathed his last, and his rugged
comrades, who know nothing of poetry, but are poets nevertheless to the
deepest grain of them, had run up the flag mast-high (not half-mast) as
signal to the Great Cox of all that here was a soul in the troubled
waters of death waiting for the everlasting lifeboat to bear him to the
eternal shore.

[Illustration]

The sea takes some of our bravest and best. Charlie it did not take. Not
so sure is it that he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword,
as that he who baulks the sea the sea will surely have for its prey.
Charlie had battled with the giant time and again, but he has gone to
sleep on the land.

We buried him to-day in the little cemetery looking on to the grey water
that was more than half his element. The funeral was beautiful in its
old simplicity. First a hymn at the door of the house in the little
alley by the beach, "Safe in the arms of Jesus," with the coffin on the
ground and all standing round; the sea quiet, hardly a breeze as soft as
human breath moving its tranquil surface; the deadly rival in its
everlasting coming and going making no triumphant clamour now the
sea-warrior was down. Then the companions of his dangers, the crew of
his boat, a group of stalwart fellows who have never known what it is to
be afraid, carrying him up the hill, shoulder high, each in his red
stocking cap and his life-belt, emblems of how they had fought the sea
and beaten it.

There were some of us whose eyes were wet, but if these brave boys wept
at all, it was only for the helpless little ones left behind. For
Charlie they did not weep. His spirit is not dead for them--it cannot
die. When brave deeds have to be done, they will see its light, like a
beacon that does not fail, over the mountains of the fiercest storm;
they will hear its voice above the thunder of the loudest waves.

A full moon is shining to-night on the place of Charlie's rest, and if
the old Norse story is true, that while the body lies in sight of the
sea the spirit lives in the winds above it, Charlie is not done with his
old enemy yet. He will come back to this sea-bound land in warning
whispers of the mighty and mysterious power that lures men to itself.

[Illustration



[Illustration]

[Illustration]



CANADA'S WORD

BY RALPH CONNOR

_Drawings by_ A. J. GOUGH


    O CANADA! A voice calls through the mist and spume
    Across the wide wet salty leagues of foam
    For aid. Whose voice thus penetrates thy peace?
    Whose? Thy Mother's, Canada, thy Mother's voice.

    O Canada! A drum beats through the night and day,
    Unresting, eager, strident, summoning
    To arms. Whose drum thus throbs persistent?
    Whose? Old England's, Canada, Old England's drum.

    O Canada! A sword gleams, leaping swift to strike
    At foes that press and leap to kill brave men
    On guard. Whose sword thus gleams fierce death?
    Whose? 'Tis Britain's, Canada, Great Britain's sword.

    O Canada! A prayer beats hard at Heaven's gate,
    Tearing the heart wide open to God's eye,
    For righteousness. Whose prayer thus pierces Heaven?
    Whose? 'Tis God's prayer, Canada, Thy Kingdom come!

    O Canada! What answer make to calling voice and beating drum,
    To sword flash and to pleading prayer of God
    For right? What answer makes my soul?
    "Mother, to thee! God, to Thy help! Quick! My sword!"

[Illustration



[Illustration]



BIMBASHI JOYCE

BY A. CONAN DOYLE

_Painting and Drawings by_ R. TALBOT KELLY, R.I.

[Illustration]


IT was in the days when the tide of Mahdism, which had swept in such a
flood from the Great Lakes and Darfur to the confines of Egypt, had at
last come to its full, and even begun, as some hoped, to show signs of a
turn. At its outset it had been terrible. It had engulfed Hicks's army,
swept over Gordon and Khartoum, rolled behind the British forces as they
retired down the river, and finally cast up a spray of raiding parties
as far north as Assouan. Then it found other channels to east and west,
to Central Africa and to Abyssinia, and retired a little on the side of
Egypt. For ten years there ensued a lull, during which the frontier
garrisons looked out upon those distant blue hills of Dongola. Behind
the violet mists which draped them lay a land of blood and horror. From
time to time some adventurer went south towards those haze-girt
mountains, tempted by stories of gum and ivory, but none ever returned.
Once a mutilated Egyptian and once a Greek woman, mad with thirst and
fear, made their way to the lines. They were the only exports of that
country of darkness. Sometimes the sunset would turn those distant mists
into a bank of crimson, and the dark mountains would rise from that
sinister reek like islands in a sea of blood. It seemed a grim symbol in
the southern heaven when seen from the fort-capped hills by Wady Halfa.
Ten years of lust in Khartoum, ten years of silent work in Cairo, and
then all was ready, and it was time for Civilisation to take a trip
south once more, travelling as her wont is in an armoured train.
Everything was ready, down to the last pack-saddle of the last camel,
and yet no one suspected it, for an unconstitutional Government has its
advantage. A great administrator had argued, and managed, and cajoled; a
great soldier had organised and planned, and made piastres do the work
of pounds. And then one night these two master spirits met and clasped
hands, and the soldier vanished away upon some business of his own. And
just at that very time, Bimbashi Hilary Joyce, seconded from the Royal
Mallow Fusiliers, and temporarily attached to the Ninth Soudanese, made
his first appearance in Cairo.

Napoleon had said, and Hilary Joyce had noted, that great reputations
are only to be made in the East. Here he was in the East with four tin
cases of baggage, a Wilkinson sword, a Bond's slug-throwing pistol, and
a copy of "Green's Introduction to the Study of Arabic." With such a
start, and the blood of youth running hot in his veins, everything
seemed easy. He was a little frightened of the general; he had heard
stories of his sternness to young officers, but with tact and suavity he
hoped for the best. So, leaving his effects at "Shepherd's Hotel," he
reported himself at headquarters. It was not the general, but the head
of the Intelligence Department who received him, the chief being still
absent upon that business which had called him. Hilary Joyce found
himself in the presence of a short, thick-set officer, with a gentle
voice and a placid expression which covered a remarkably acute and
energetic spirit. With that quiet smile and guileless manner he had
undercut and outwitted the most cunning of Orientals. He stood, a
cigarette between his fingers, looking at the newcomer. "I heard that
you had come. Sorry the chief isn't here to see you. Gone up to the
frontier, you know."

"My regiment is at Wady Halfa. I suppose, sir, that I should report
myself there at once?"

"No; I was to give you your orders." He led the way to a map upon the
wall, and pointed with the end of his cigarette. "You see this place.
It's the Oasis of Kurkur--a little quiet, I am afraid, but excellent
air. You are to get out there as quick as possible. You'll find a
company of the Ninth, and half a squadron of cavalry. You will be in
command."

Hilary Joyce looked at the name, printed at the intersection of two
black lines without another dot upon the map for several inches around
it. "A village, sir?"

"No, a well. Not very good water, I'm afraid, but you soon get
accustomed to natron. It's an important post, as being at the junction
of two caravan routes. All routes are closed now, of course, but still
you never know who _might_ come along them."

"We are there, I presume, to prevent raiding?"

[Illustration]

"Well, between you and me, there's really nothing to raid. You are there
to intercept messengers. They must call at the wells. Of course you have
only just come out, but you probably understand already enough about the
conditions of this country to know that there is a great deal of
disaffection about, and that the Khalifa is likely to try and keep in
touch with his adherents. Then, again, Senoussi lives up that way"--he
waved his cigarette to the westward--"the Khalifa might send a messenger
to him along that route. Anyhow, your duty is to arrest every one coming
along, and get some account of him before you let him go. You don't talk
Arabic, I suppose?"

"I am learning, sir."

"Well, well, you'll have time enough to study there. And you'll have a
native officer, Ali something or other, who speaks English, and can
interpret for you. Well, good-bye--I'll tell the chief that you reported
yourself. Get on to your post now as quickly as you can."

[Illustration]

Railway to Baliani, the post-boat to Assouan, and then two day on a
camel in the Libyan desert, with an Ababdeh guide, and three
baggage-camels to tie one down to their own exasperating pace. However,
even two and a half miles an hour mount up in time, and at last, on the
third evening, from the blackened slag-heap of a hill which is called
the Jebel Kurkur, Hilary Joyce looked down upon a distant clump of
palms, and thought that this cool patch of green in the midst of the
merciless blacks and yellows was the fairest colour effect that he had
ever seen. An hour later he had ridden into the little camp, the guard
had turned out to salute him, his native subordinate had greeted him in
excellent English, and he had fairly entered into his own. It was not an
exhilarating place for a lengthy residence. There was one large,
bowl-shaped, grassy depression sloping down to the three pits of brown
and brackish water. There, also, was the grove of palm trees beautiful
to look upon, but exasperating in view of the fact that Nature has
provided her least shady trees on the very spot where shade is needed
most. A single wide-spread acacia did something to restore the balance.
Here Hilary Joyce slumbered in the heat, and in the cool he inspected
his square-shouldered, spindle-shanked Soudanese, with their cheery
black faces and their funny little pork-pie forage caps. Joyce was a
martinet at drill, and the blacks loved being drilled, so the Bimbashi
was soon popular among them. But one day was exactly like another. The
weather, the view, the employment, the food--everything was the same.
At the end of three weeks he felt that he had been there for
interminable years. And then at last there came something to break the
monotony.

[Illustration]

One evening, as the sun was sinking, Hilary Joyce rode slowly down the
old caravan road. It had a fascination for him, this narrow track,
winding among the boulders and curving up the nullahs, for he remembered
how in the map it had gone on and on, stretching away into the unknown
heart of Africa. The countless pads of innumerable camels through many
centuries had beaten it smooth, so that now, unused and deserted, it
still wound away, the strangest of roads, a foot broad, and perhaps two
thousand miles in length. Joyce wondered as he rode how long it was
since any traveller had journeyed up it from the south, and then he
raised his eyes, and there was a man coming along the path. For an
instant Joyce thought that it might be one of his own men, but a second
glance assured him that this could not be so. The stranger was dressed
in the flowing robes of an Arab, and not in the close-fitting khaki of a
soldier. He was very tall, and a high turban made him seem gigantic. He
strode swiftly along, with head erect, and the bearing of a man who
knows no fear.

Who could he be, this formidable giant coming out of the unknown? The
precursor possibly of a horde of savage spearmen. And where could he
have walked from? The nearest well was a long hundred miles down the
track. At any rate the frontier post of Kurkur could not afford to
receive casual visitors. Hilary Joyce whisked round his horse, galloped
into camp, and gave the alarm. Then, with twenty horsemen at his back,
he rode out again to reconnoitre. The man was still coming on in spite
of these hostile preparations. For an instant he hesitated when first he
saw the cavalry, but escape was out of the question, and he advanced
with the air of a man who makes the best of a bad job. He made no
resistance, and said nothing when the hands of two troopers clutched at
his shoulders, but walked quietly between their horses into camp.
Shortly afterwards the patrol came in again. There were no signs of any
dervishes. The man was alone. A splendid trotting camel had been found
lying dead a little way down the track. The mystery of the stranger's
arrival was explained. But why, and whence, and whither?--these were
questions for which a zealous officer must find an answer.

[Illustration]

Hilary Joyce was disappointed that there were no dervishes. It would
have been a great start for him in the Egyptian army had he fought a
little action on his own account. But even as it was, he had a rare
chance of impressing the authorities. He would love to show his
capacity to the head of the Intelligence, and even more to that grim
chief who never forgot what was smart, or forgave what was slack. The
prisoner's dress and bearing showed that he was of importance. Mean men
do not ride pure-bred trotting camels. Joyce sponged his head with cold
water, drank a cup of strong coffee, put on an imposing official
tarboosh instead of his sun-helmet, and formed himself into a court of
inquiry and judgment under the acacia tree. He would have liked his
people to have seen him now, with his two black orderlies in waiting,
and his Egyptian native officer at his side. He sat behind a camp-table,
and the prisoner, strongly guarded, was led up to him. The man was a
handsome fellow, with bold grey eyes and a long black beard.

"Why!" cried Joyce, "the rascal is making faces at me." A curious
contraction had passed over the man's features, but so swiftly that it
might have been a nervous twitch. He was now a model of Oriental
gravity. "Ask him who he is, and what he wants?" The native officer did
so, but the stranger made no reply, save that the same sharp spasm
passed once more over his face. "Well, I'm blessed!" cried Hilary Joyce.
"Of all the impudent scoundrels! He keeps on winking at me. Who are you,
you rascal? Give an account of yourself! D'ye hear?" But the tall Arab
was as impervious to English as to Arabic. The Egyptian tried again and
again. The prisoner looked at Joyce with his inscrutable eyes, and
occasionally twitched his face at him, but never opened his mouth. The
Bimbashi scratched his head in bewilderment.

"Look here, Mahomet Ali, we've got to get some sense out of this fellow.
You say there are no papers on him?"

"No, sir; we found no papers."

"No clue of any kind?"

"He has come far, sir. A trotting camel does not die easily. He has come
from Dongola, at least."

"Well, we must get him to talk."

"It is possible that he is deaf and dumb."

"Not he. I never saw a man look more all there in my life."

"You might send him across to Assouan."

"And give some one else the credit? No, thank you. This is my bird. But
how are we going to get him to find his tongue?"

The Egyptian's dark eyes skirted the encampment and rested on the cook's
fire. "Perhaps," said he, "if the Bimbashi thought fit----" He looked at
the prisoner and then at the burning wood.

"No, no; it wouldn't do. No, by Jove, that's going too far."

[Illustration]

"A very little might do it."

"No, no. It's all very well here, but it would sound just awful if ever
it got as far as Fleet Street. But, I say," he whispered, "we might
frighten him a bit. There's no harm in that."

"No, sir."

"Tell them to undo the man's galabeeah. Order them to put a horseshoe in
the fire and make it red-hot." The prisoner watched the proceedings with
an air which had more of amusement than of uneasiness. He never winced
as the black sergeant approached with the glowing shoe held upon two
bayonets.

"Will you speak now?" asked the Bimbashi, savagely. The prisoner smiled
gently and stroked his beard.

"Oh, chuck the infernal thing away!" cried Joyce, jumping up in a
passion. "There's no use trying to bluff the fellow. He knows we won't
do it. But I _can_ and I _will_ flog him, and you can tell him from me
that if he hasn't found his tongue by to-morrow morning I'll take the
skin off his back as sure as my name's Joyce. Have you said all that?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, you can sleep upon it, you beauty, and a good night's rest may it
give you!" He adjourned the Court, and the prisoner, as imperturbable as
ever, was led away by the guard to his supper of rice and water. Hilary
Joyce was a kind-hearted man, and his own sleep was considerably
disturbed by the prospect of the punishment which he must inflict next
day. He had hopes that the mere sight of the koorbash and the thongs
might prevail over his prisoner's obstinacy. And then, again, he thought
how shocking it would be if the man proved to be really dumb after all.
The possibility shook him so that he had almost determined by daybreak
that he would send the stranger on unhurt to Assouan. And yet what a
tame conclusion it would be to the incident! He lay upon his angareeb
still debating it when the question suddenly and effectively settled
itself. Ali Mahomet rushed into his tent.

"Sir," he cried, "the prisoner is gone!"

"Gone!"

"Yes, sir, and your own best riding camel as well. There is a slit cut
in the tent, and he got away unseen in the early morning."

[Illustration]

The Bimbashi acted with all energy. Cavalry rode along every track;
scouts examined the soft sand of the wadys for signs of the fugitive,
but no trace was discovered. The man had utterly disappeared. With a
heavy heart, Hilary Joyce wrote an official report of the matter and
forwarded it to Assouan. Five days later there came a curt order from
the chief that he should report himself there. He feared the worst from
the stern soldier, who spared others as little as he spared himself. And
his worst forebodings were realised. Travel-stained and weary, he
reported himself one night at the general's quarters. Behind a table
piled with papers and strewn with maps the famous soldier and his Chief
of Intelligence were deep in plans and figures. Their greeting was a
cold one.

[Illustration: Bimbashi Joyce

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by R. Talbot Kelly, R.I._]

"I understand, Captain Joyce," said the general, "that you have allowed
a very important prisoner to slip through your fingers."

"I am sorry, sir."

"No doubt. But that will not mend matters. Did you ascertain anything
about him before you lost him?"

"No, sir."

"How was that?"

"I could get nothing out of him, sir."

"Did you try?"

"Yes, sir; I did what I could."

"What did you do?"

"Well, sir, I threatened to use physical force."

"What did he say?"

"He said nothing."

"What was he like?"

"A tall man, sir. Rather a desperate character, I should think."

"Any way by which we could identify him?"

"A long black beard, sir. Grey eyes. And a nervous way of twitching his
face."

"Well, Captain Joyce," said the general, in his stern, inflexible voice,
"I cannot congratulate you upon your first exploit in the Egyptian army.
You are aware that every English officer in this force is a picked man.
I have the whole British army from which to draw. It is necessary,
therefore, that I should insist upon the very highest efficiency. It
would be unfair upon the others to pass over any obvious want of zeal or
intelligence. You are seconded from the Royal Mallows, I understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"I have no doubt that your colonel will be glad to see you fulfilling
your regimental duties again." Hilary Joyce's heart was too heavy for
words. He was silent. "I will let you know my final decision to-morrow
morning." Joyce saluted and turned upon his heel.

"You can sleep upon that, you beauty, and a good night's rest may it
give you!"

[Illustration]

Joyce turned in bewilderment. Where had those words been used before?
Who was it who had used them? The general was standing erect. Both he
and the Chief of the Intelligence were laughing. Joyce stared at the
tall figure, the erect bearing, the inscrutable grey eyes.

"Good Lord!" he gasped.

"Well, well, Captain Joyce, we are quits!" said the general, holding out
his hand. "You gave me a bad ten minutes with that infernal red-hot
horseshoe of yours. I've done as much for you. I don't think we can
spare you for the Royal Mallows just yet awhile."

"But, sir; but----!"

"The fewer questions the better, perhaps. But of course it must seem
rather amazing. I had a little private business with the Kabbabish. It
must be done in person. I did it, and came to your post in my return. I
kept on winking at you as a sign that I wanted a word with you alone."

"Yes, yes. I begin to understand."

"I couldn't give it away before all those blacks, or where should I have
been the next time I used my false beard and Arab dress? You put me in a
very awkward position. But at last I had a word alone with your Egyptian
officer, who managed my escape all right."

"He! Mahomet Ali!"

"I ordered him to say nothing. I had a score to settle with you. But we
dine at eight, Captain Joyce. We live plainly here, but I think I can do
you a little better than you did me at Kurkur."

[Illustration



THE ANT-LION

BY J. H. FABRE

("The Insects' Homer")

_Painting and Drawings by_ E. J. DETMOLD

_Translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos. Copyright U.S.A., 1914, by
Hughes Massie & Co._


MY big and little readers, look at the picture illustrating this story
and tell me what you see. First of all, a hideous little monster. It has
six short legs and an enormous body--the sign of an insatiable
appetite--and carries on its head two sharp-pointed, curved, movable
horns, which open and shut like a savage pair of pincers. Suppose we
were to hear that, in a desert island, a monster like that, but the size
of a wolf, was just emerging from the thick jungle and making for a
traveller, for some modern Robinson Crusoe, and that, in another moment,
it would be sticking its tusks into him, how thrilling we should find
it! We should hope that the man whose life was in danger was armed with
the most effective weapons, which would help him to come victorious out
of the contest: a twelve-chambered revolver at least, to say nothing of
a breech-loading rifle and explosive bullets!

But we must not take an unfair advantage of the animal's ugly appearance
in order to provoke unnatural excitement, for what I am about to tell is
history and not a fairy-tale: proper, genuine history. I will lose no
time in saying that the creature is quite harmless to any of us, even
the smallest. By this I do not mean to suggest that it has not a very
fierce and brutal temper; only, the victims of its bloodthirsty
instincts move in a world so tiny that we tread it under foot unnoticed.
It is an ogre, ever hungering after fresh meat, like the famous ogre of
your fairy-tales: you know, the one who welcomed Hop-o'-my-Thumb and his
brothers to his house one evening, meaning to put them all in a pie like
so many pigeons; in short, just the sort of ogre who makes your blood
run cold.

[Illustration]

Our little monster, then, wants its dinner, a thing not always easy to
find in this world, especially for an ogre. Hunger is gnawing at its
inside; it must eat or die. Its usual prey is the Ant, a good runner,
whose nimble legs promptly take to flight and baffle the clumsy,
corpulent hunter's attempts to attack her. You might as well tell the
Tortoise to run and catch the Gazelle. Our ogre possesses no greater
agility in comparison with the Ant; and moreover there is another reason
that makes it quite impossible for him to run after anything: like the
Crab, he can only really walk backwards, which is not exactly the way to
overtake your quarry when it's in front of you.

To be fat and heavy, to walk backwards and to be obliged to have live
Ant for one's dinner is a difficult, a very difficult problem. What
would you do in such a case? Come, try to find something! Rack your
brains! You can think of nothing? Well, never mind: plenty of others,
including myself, could not think of anything either.

Everyday common-sense, expressed in proverbs, tells us over and over
again that necessity is the mother of invention. This great truth, which
we have learnt by personal experience, we shall learn once more from the
Ant-hunter. But first let us give him a name, to simplify our story.
Naturalists call him the Ant-lion, a very happy term, which reminds us
that, like the Lion, he lives by carnage, slaughtering live prey, in
this case Ants. Now that we have christened him we can go on.

When he wants his dinner, the Ant-lion says to himself:

"You're a fat little beggar, you know, short-legged and slow-moving;
you'll never catch Ants by running after them. On the other hand, you
can walk backwards, that's capital; you have a head flattened like a
navvy's shovel, that's first-rate; your pincers are long and grip like a
knife, that's perfect, absolutely perfect. We'll use that talent for
walking backwards; we'll use those tools, the shovel and tongs; we'll
make craft take the place of the agility which we lack; and the dinner
will come along."

No sooner said than done. In a nice dry spot, warmed by the sun and
sheltered from the rain by an overhanging rock, the wily animal selects
a place where Ants are incessantly moving to and fro on household
matters. Gravely, with the mathematical accuracy of an engineer tracing
the foundation of a well-planned building, the Ant-lion walks backwards,
with his body dug into the sand; he turns and turns and in this way
hollows out a groove shaped like a perfect circle. Then, still moving
backwards and still digging deeper and deeper into the sand, he repeats
the circuit many times over, but gradually coming nearer the centre,
where he arrives in the end. If any obstacle, such as a large bit of
gravel, which would spoil the work, makes its appearance, the Ant-lion
takes it on his flat head and, with a vigorous jerk of his neck, flings
it to a distance over the edge of the hole. We should use a shovel in
exactly the same way to throw out the rubbish when digging.

[Illustration]

The result of this labour is a sort of funnel, two inches wide and a
little less in depth. For that matter, each Ant-lion scoops himself out
one proportioned to his size: the larger ones, the giants of the family,
produce one almost big enough to hold an orange; the younger and smaller
ones are content with a hollow which a walnut would fill. But, whether
great funnels or modest dents, all these cavities are constructed on one
and the same principle: the slope is very steep and formed of extremely
loose sand; nothing, however light, can set foot upon it without
producing a landslip, followed by a headlong fall.

When the work is finished, the scoundrel buries himself in the sand,
right at the bottom of the funnel; his pincers alone appear outside,
ever ready to snap, but nevertheless hidden as far as possible. And now
the Ant-lion remains completely motionless and waits; he waits for
hours, for days, for weeks, if necessary, for his patience is
unequalled; he waits for his dinner to come to him, as he cannot go
after his dinner himself.

Let us do as he does and wait, very attentively. What will happen? See,
an Ant comes trotting along, suspecting no harm, bringing a little honey
in her crop for her mates, who are working at a distance, just as the
goodwife, on the stroke of noon, brings the reaper his midday meal in
the fields. In her hurry, or perhaps in her heedlessness, she has not
seen the precipice. She steps upon it, but only just on the edge. It
makes no difference: as soon as her foot is on the perfidious slope, the
sand gives way and the poor thing is dragged down. If our eyes were
sharp enough, we should see signs of fierce delight betrayed by the
formidable jaws at the bottom.

Thank goodness! A microscopic bit of straw has interfered with the
landslide. The fall ends in the middle of the slope; and the Ant,
recovering her balance, tries to scramble back to the top. The sand
trickles under her feet; no matter: she goes to work with so much
prudence, she so skilfully makes use of the smallest solid support, she
is so careful to move sideways instead of going straight up the slope
that it looks as though the climb ought to be achieved without fresh
impediment. Her knees, her delicate feelers seem atremble with
excitement. One more effort, only a little effort, and the thing is
done. The edge is there, close by; the Ant must reach it.

[Illustration]

Alas, she does not reach it! Suddenly from the sky there falls upon the
poor wretch, thick as hailstones, a rain of grains of sand, which, for
the tiny Ant, is as bad as a regular rain of pebbles. Who is the brute
that takes delight in thus stoning the distressed Ant, who clings in her
despair now to this side, now to that, as best she may, so as not to
roll to the bottom of the precipice? The brute is the Ant-lion, the
ruffian, lying in ambush down in his funnel. See what he is doing. He
takes on his flat head a load, a shovelful of sand, and flings it in the
air towards the Ant, with a sudden, quick jerk of the neck, like the
movement of a spring. The shovelfuls follow rapidly, one after the
other. Whoosh! And whoosh! Do you want another? There's one! You don't
want another? There's one all the same!

What can the Ant do, I ask you, on the slope of that terrible trap,
where the ground falls from under her in a rushing torrent, while a hail
of pebbles dashes down from above? In vain she struggles, with all the
pluck of despair: for each step forward she takes three back, coming
nearer and nearer to the dreadful jaws that are waiting for her at the
bottom of the funnel. Bruised and dazed with the stoning, she rolls over
and over, right into the jaws. The jaws seize her and everything
disappears under the sand; not a trace remains of the recent tragedy.

Peacefully buried in the sand of his lair, the Ant-lion devours his
astutely-captured prey. When the meal is over, there remains a dry
carcass, which must be thrown away, for, if left in the funnel, it might
frighten any game in future and betray the hunter in his ambush. A jerk
of the shovel, that is to say, a toss of the flat head, flings it
outside the hole.

Then the Ant-lion repairs the damage done to his trap, removes the
coarser grains of sand, touches up the slopes to make them ready for a
new slide. He buries himself as I have described and awaits the coming
of the next Ant.

That is how the Ant-lion secures his dinner. And yet there are people
who say that animals have no sense!

[Illustration



AN ANGEL OF GOD

_A TRUE STORY_

BY ELLEN THORNEYCROFT FOWLER

_Drawings by_ STEVEN SPURRIER, R.I.


"YOU may talk about the Germans as much as you like," remarked Mrs.
Batterby with her customary decision; "but, for my part, I have no doubt
that we shall beat them in the end: no doubt whatsoever!"

"Still, the German hosts are very numerous, and their artillery is
magnificent," said Mrs. Veale, who, much as she longed for the defeat of
Germany, longed for the defeat of Mrs. Batterby still more.

Little Miss Skipworth hastened, as usual, to thrust in the olive-branch.
"Dear Mrs. Batterby is thinking of the superior courage of our brave
English soldiers," she explained gently.

But Mrs. Batterby could not stand being Bowdlerised, or even translated.
"No, I wasn't, Matilda; at least not at that particular minute, though
nobody admires the courage of the British Army more than I do, and
always have done, and especially with Lord Kitchener at their head and
in action against the enemy. I've got a very high opinion of the British
soldier myself; none higher: much too high, in fact, to allow him to
wear a collar to his bed-jacket like the one you are making, Matilda,
without speaking a word in his defence."

Matilda collapsed at once: she was composed of the most collapsible
material ever provided for the manufacture of souls. "What is wrong with
my collar, Mrs. Batterby? I thought I was exactly copying the pattern
sent to us by the Red Cross. Anyway, I was trying to do so."

"Trying and succeeding are two different things, which I should have
thought you'd have found out by this time, Matilda, and you
five-and-forty, if you are a day! Give me the collar, and I'll fix it
for you, or else the wounded soldier that wears it will wish he had died
in the trenches before he had the chance of putting it on."

It was the afternoon of the Red Cross weekly working-party, held in the
village of Summerglade, in the early stages of the Great War. The party
was a small one, consisting of Mrs. Batterby, a farmer's wife, in whose
parlour the meeting was held; Mrs. Veale, the wife of the village
doctor; Mrs. Windybank, a gloomy widow; and Miss Skipworth, an ingenuous
and tender-hearted spinster. Between Mrs. Batterby and Mrs. Veale there
existed a bitter and abiding warfare.

"May I ask what you were thinking of--if not of the bravery of our own
dear soldiers--when you expressed your assurance of the ultimate success
of the Allied Forces?" asked Mrs. Veale, with her needle in her fingers
and the light of battle in her eye.

"By all means," replied Mrs. Batterby; "and, a civil question demanding
a civil answer, I don't mind telling you that I feel sure we shall win,
because we know that God is on our side and is fighting for us."

"But their numbers are so great and their guns so magnificent," repeated
Mrs. Windybank with a lugubrious sigh. "I sometimes fear that they will
win in the end, and we shall all be blown up by Zeppelins and trampled
underfoot. I'm sure I pray every morning that our armies may win, but I
tremble when I think of the forces against us."

"So did the Prophet's servant till his eyes were opened and he saw the
mountain full of horses and chariots," replied Mrs. Batterby. "But some
folk's eyes seem made not to open, like the stained-glass windows in
Summerglade Church."

"It is right to pray, but we must beware of presumptuousness in our
prayers," said Mrs. Veale sententiously.

"We'd much better beware of want of faith," retorted the hostess.

"But it is difficult to have faith when things seem going against us,"
said Matilda Skipworth.

"Stuff and nonsense, Matilda! It's when things seem going against us
that our faith is really any compliment to the Almighty. I can't see
anything very complimentary to Him when every morning I pray with faith,
'Give us this day our daily bread,' knowing all the time that it's in
the larder with a damp cloth over it. But it's when people pray that
particular prayer, with no bread in the house and no money to pay for
any, that their faith is any compliment to God or worthy of His
acceptance."

[Illustration]

"I know my faith is very feeble and my prayers are unworthy," sighed
Miss Skipworth, "but I do try to believe. Still, I cannot help envying
the Prophet's servant who _saw_ the horses and the chariots fighting on
his side. I wish we could _see_ the angel hosts fighting for us. I do so
wish that we had appearances of that kind nowadays: it would make faith
so much easier and life altogether so much more beautiful."

[Illustration]

"But it would not be in accordance with God's teaching in these later
times. Such assistance to faith as the appearance of saints and angels
would not be at all in accordance with our modern religious thought, and
I am sure that the Almighty would not permit it," said Mrs. Veale.

"I am not so sure of that," retorted Mrs. Batterby. "I think that
visions of angels are granted to-day to those that have eyes to see
them, just as they were in Old Testament times."

"Oh! Mrs. Batterby," exclaimed Matilda in excitement, "do you really
believe that?"

"I do. But I don't believe that the angels appear as you would expect
them, Matilda--all got up in harps and crowns and flaming swords. I
believe that when they come nowadays they look so commonplace and what
you might call ordinary-looking, that only those folks that have the eye
of faith can perceive them at all. They can _see_ them all right, mind
you! But they can't recognise them as the angels of God."

"How I should like to see somebody who had actually seen an angel!"
sighed Miss Skipworth.

"Did you ever come across any one who had enjoyed such an experience,
Mrs. Batterby?" asked Mrs. Veale in a sceptical tone.

"Yes, I did, Mrs. Veale--that is, if you can say that you ever came
across yourself."

"Oh, how interesting!--how very interesting!" cried Miss Skipworth. "But
you don't look at all the sort of person that would see angels and
spirits."

Mrs. Batterby took the last remark as a compliment; as indeed it was
intended. "That's just my point, Matilda. The real angels don't look
like the Scripture-picture sort of angels; and they don't appear to the
high-flown, star-gazing sort of people who are always looking for them."

"Do tell us what you saw, Mrs. Batterby," besought the emotional
Matilda.

"And also what calamity it foretold," added Mrs. Windybank. "I always
believe that supernatural appearances precede some terrible misfortune."

"Well, my experience, or whatever you call it, happened five-and-thirty
years ago, and no calamity has happened to me since. On the contrary, it
taught me that no calamity _could_ happen to me as long as I lay safe in
my Heavenly Father's Hand. That's just the lesson that I learnt from
it."

"Do tell us the story," urged Miss Skipworth.

"I will, Matilda, if you'll get on with your bed-jacket, and not leave
off your sewing whenever anybody speaks, as if your hearing lay in your
fingers, and you couldn't sew and listen at the same time.

"Well, when I was a young woman I lived with an aunt in Merchester who
kept a stationer's shop; and every Sunday I used to walk over to see my
mother who lived at a village about three miles off, she being a widow
and keeping the post-office there and my two little sisters as well.

"It was one Sunday in September--one of those deceitful sort of days
that look like summer, and then take you all of a heap by getting dark
before you can say _Jack Robinson_--and I had been spending the day with
my mother as usual; I stayed for the evening service, it being the
Sunday-school Anniversary and a special preacher for the occasion; quite
a young man, but one of the finest preachers I ever heard. Though it was
five-and-thirty years ago, I remember that sermon as if I'd heard it
last Sunday."

"What was it about?" asked Mrs. Windybank. "For my part, I always enjoy
funeral-sermons the most; but I've heard some very sweet ones in times
of war, and on the last Sundays in the Old Year."

"It was on the very subject that Matilda was speaking about--in fact, it
was her conversation that recalled the whole incident to my mind. The
text was, 'Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him'; and
the preacher said--what I've just being saying to you--that the angels
of God meet us far oftener than we think; only we are so busy looking
out for them to come in our own particular way that we don't recognise
them. Unless they are in their flowing robes with their harps and halos
and fiery swords, we don't know that they are angels at all: which is
just as stupid of us as if we didn't believe we'd seen the Queen, unless
we'd seen her with her crown on. I remember that this impressed us very
much: Queen Victoria had just been to Merchester to lay the
foundation-stone of some public building or other (I forget what), and
we had all cried at seeing her in a widow's bonnet; it seemed to make
her so much more real and human than if she'd had her crown on. I'm sure
that black bonnet brought her nearer to our hearts than all the Crown
Jewels out of the Tower of London could have done; and taught us to love
and reverence her as a woman as well as obey and serve her as a Queen.
And so, as the young minister said, it ought to be with the angels;
because when the Lord came among us, He came as One of ourselves, and
led us by the paths that we were used to.

"Well, the sermon was so grand, and the hymn after the sermon so
beautiful--I remember it was a six-lines-eight, sung to the tune called
_Stella_, and mother and I swayed to it till we kept bumping against
each other--that by the time we got out of chapel it was quite dark--so
dark that mother didn't like the idea of my walking to Merchester alone,
as it was three miles at the least, and along a very lonely road. But
there was nobody to go with me, and I was bound to get back to aunt's
that night, for some special reason that I forget now; so--like it or
not like it--I had to go, though I was very timid."

"Oh, how dreadful! I should have been terrified," groaned Miss
Skipworth. "I don't wonder that you were frightened."

"I shouldn't have minded if I'd been your age, Matilda: surely a woman
of five-and-forty is old enough to go anywhere by herself! But I was
only eighteen, and that makes all the difference."

Matilda returned a soft answer--or, to be more accurate, a soft
question.

"Then did you venture, Mrs. Batterby?"

[Illustration]

"Of course I did: there was nothing else to do; and I didn't want mother
to know I was frightened for fear of worrying her. But I didn't like it,
I can tell you; and I started with my heart in my mouth, ready to jump
at my own shadow. And then it came into my mind (I remember it as if it
had happened last night) that I was a poor sort of Christian to enjoy a
sermon and then make no sort of effort to put it into practice; in fact,
that I was only a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, letting God's
message go in at one ear and out at the other, leaving nothing behind
it. So I set to to pray that as I went on my way the angels of God might
meet me, as they met Jacob, and save me from all harm. And what with the
excitement of the sermon, and my own fears, and the darkness of the
road, I got worked up to such a pitch that I shouldn't have been
surprised if a white-robed angel with shining wings had flown over the
hedge and perched beside me."

"Which, of course, no angel did," interrupted Mrs. Veale.

"That is as may be," retorted Mrs. Batterby darkly. "In the middle of my
prayer I heard a rustle in the hedge on the side of the road, which, of
course, I thought was a thief lying in wait to waylay me and murder me,
and I prayed harder and harder. But then, in the fading light, I
perceived that it was no thief, but a huge yellow collie dog, such as
they have for minding sheep."

"Oh dear!" said Miss Skipworth; "I should have been as much afraid of a
strange dog as of a strange man, if I'd been you."

"Fortunately, however, you weren't me, nor ever likely to be, which
seems fortunate for all parties concerned," replied her hostess dryly.
"And as for being afraid of a dog--why! I'd been accustomed to dogs from
a child, though I'm not the one to deny that collies are uncertain in
temper and apt to snap at strangers unawares. So I spoke kindly to this
one, in case it should take me for a thief come after its master's
sheep; though where the sheep were I hadn't a notion, there being
nothing but cornfields ready for cutting on both sides of the road, the
harvest being very late that year."

"It was rather foolish, to my thinking, to speak to it at all," remarked
Mrs. Windybank. "I had a friend once who spoke to a strange collie; and
it bit her thimble finger so badly that she was never able to sew
properly again."

"Then she must have said the wrong thing to it," replied Mrs. Batterby;
"and it served her right. I know when folks say the wrong thing to me,
I'd give anything to be able to bite their thimble finger, and dogs feel
the same as we do. But to get on with my story. The dog came up to me
quite friendly-like, and didn't attempt to snap or anything; but though
it came close to me, it wouldn't let me touch or pet it. It shied away
the moment I put out my hand to fondle it. So--being accustomed to dogs
and their ways--I treated it as it evidently wished to be treated, and
just talked to it pleasantly as it trotted along by my side."

[Illustration: "For my part, I believe it was one of the angels of
God"]

"Then it followed you?" asked Miss Skipworth.

"Yes; all the way to Merchester, just as if it had been my own dog. When
there was nobody in sight, it ran backwards and forwards and scampered
about by itself; but whenever we met anybody--and we met some
nasty-looking tramps, I can tell you, that I should have been terrified
to meet alone--it came close to me, looking that big and fierce that the
tramps kept well to the other side of the road, as far away from us as
they could; and it stalked by me till they were out of sight, as is the
way of collies when they scent danger ahead. I can't tell you how
delighted I was to have found such a splendid pet; and I made up my mind
to take it home with me and keep it, unless some one claimed it; as aunt
and I had long wanted a house-dog to take care of the shop at nights.
And, besides, I thought it would be such a nice companion for me on all
the long country-walks which I was so fond of taking out of shop-hours."

"And did any one ever come and claim it?" asked Miss Skipworth with
breathless interest.

"No; never. It followed me all the way to Merchester, wagging its tail
whenever I spoke to it, and looking up at me with its soft brown eyes as
friendly as never was; but it never let me touch it, though I tried to
pat it once or twice."

"And you took it home with you, the dear creature?"

Mrs. Batterby shook her head. "It followed me right into Merchester; but
when I was safe in the town among all the gas-lamps and the people and
the traffic, it turned round and scampered back along the road by which
we had come. I whistled to it to come back, but it took no notice; and
the last I saw of it was its yellow coat disappearing into the
darkness."

Miss Skipworth gave a deep sigh. "And you never saw it again?"

"Never."

"And you never found out who it belonged to?"

A look came into Mrs. Batterby's eyes that was new to Miss Skipworth. "I
wouldn't say that. As a matter of fact, I believe I did find out Who it
belonged to."

"I suppose it was the sheep-dog of one of the neighbouring farmers,"
suggested Mrs. Veale.

"Some might suppose so; but I don't," replied Mrs. Batterby, still with
that wonderful smile in her sharp grey eyes. "For my part, I believe it
was one of the angels of God."



[Illustration]

A MODEL SOLDIER[1]

[Illustration]

BY CHARLES GARVICE

_Author of "Nance," etc._

_Drawings by_ J. H. HARTLEY


KITTY came into the studio and, dropping on to a stool, said, as she
drew the pins from her hat:

"Dad, I've had an adventure."

She made the assertion with seeming gravity, but her father glanced at
her dancing eyes with a mixture of interest and a suspicion of being
spoofed; for past experiences of his light-hearted, mischief-loving
daughter had taught him to be wary; so he said nothing, but continued to
chalk in the rough sketch on the easel.

"Behold in me a heroine of romance!" said Kitty, striking an attitude
and regarding the toes of her dainty boots with her head on one side;
and her father, as he glanced at her again, noted vaguely her pose and
expression for future use; for Kitty served frequently as a model, and
her pretty face and svelte figure had appeared in numerous magazines as
the heroine of all sorts of stories.

"Father, I have saved a fellow creature's life," she went on. "Told in
the language of popular fiction it would run thus: 'A young girl of
pleasing appearance was seen going down one of our leading
thoroughfares. She was of meek and modest demeanour----'"

"I thought you said the adventure happened to you, Kitty," said Mr.
Thorold.

"'The road was crowded with the carriages and motor-cars of the wealthy
and noble,'" continued Kitty, disregarding the mild sarcasm; "'the young
girl, lost "in maiden meditation, fancy-free," was startled suddenly by
a cry of anguished terror. Raising her downcast eyes, she saw a pretty
young thing running across the road right in front of an approaching
motor-car, from the occupant of which, a lady of mature age and buxom
form, the cry had arisen. Without a thought of her own fair young life,
the maiden rushed forward, seized the young thing in her arms and
carried it in safety to the pavement. The magnificent 2,000-h.p.
motor-car pulled up beside her, and the richly dressed lady, with a gasp
of relief and admiration, expressed her appreciation of the young girl's
heroism, demanded her name and address, and, handing her a card, desired
the rescuer to call. The heroine, murmuring something inaudible, blushed
sweetly and, making her way through the small but loudly cheering crowd
which had collected, modestly disappeared.'"

[Illustration]

"All very well," grumbled Mr. Thorold; "but you'll be brought home on a
stretcher some day, Kit. You're too venturesome by far. What became of
the child?"

"Oh, it wasn't a child; it was a collie pup."

"I thought you said 'fellow-creature,'" remarked her father plaintively.

"All dogs are my fellow-creatures," declared Kitty simply.

"I am a credulous as well as a sinfully indulgent parent," said Mr.
Thorold, stepping back to view his sketch; "but I don't believe a word
of your story."

"'Documentary evidence was instantly forthcoming,'" retorted Kitty,
extending a tiny paw with a card inserted delicately between her
fingers.

Her father took it, read aloud: "Lady Hawborough, 209, Belgrave Square,"
and then emitted a low whistle.

"My word, Kitty, you've gone and done it!" he said. "If this is _the_
Lady Hawborough--and Nature, with all her audacity, cannot have made two
of them--you've run up against a celebrity of the deepest dye."

"Oh?" said Kitty. "Never heard of her. What's she celebrated for?"

"For good works--which means, in most cases, a disposition and a
capacity for interfering in the affairs of other people. And her
ladyship is one of the biggest and most incorrigible interferers in this
crank of a world of ours. She is immensely rich; she is also 'powerful,'
as the novelists say; she is a tyrant to her relations, a terror to her
friends, and a well-meaning, charitable bugbear to the world in
general."

"Oh!" said Kitty, somewhat dismayed. "But how is it you are so
intimately acquainted with the history and characteristics of this lady
of lofty rank and goodly oof?"

"My dear Kitty, 'oof' is not nearly such a good word as 'wealth.'"

[Illustration: The Ant Lion

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by E. J. Detmold_]

"Maybe, but it's easier to pronounce," retorted Kitty.

"Oh, I don't know," said Mr. Thorold, as if he were weary of the
subject. "Heard some one at the Club talking about her; seen her name in
the papers. Take my advice and don't call. She'll enlist you in one of
her gangs of workers, hustle you into a hospital as a nurse, make you
into a district visitor, or turn you a lecturer on vegetarianism or some
other fad."

[Illustration]

"Oh no, she won't," said Kitty, with sublime confidence; "not that I
should object to being a nurse--that is, if I hadn't already to look
after an aged and infirm parent. Yes; much as I value your advice, Dad,
I think I'll call. I'll go to-morrow; and if I come back, say, in a
Salvation Army kit, and banging a tambourine--and, mind you! I might do
worse: I've a whole-hearted admiration for the S.A. and the uniform is
distinctly fetching--you can indulge in the exquisite pleasure of
exclaiming, 'I told you so!' What are you on this morning, Dad?" she
asked, going to him, putting her arm round his neck, and giving him a
little hug.

"Sketch for an illustration for the _Long Acre Magazine_," he said, with
a kind of resignation; for your most gifted artist has to do pot-boilers
nowadays: and generally he does them well.

"The girl's all right, anyhow," said Kitty. "Where's the man?"

"Oh, I'm going to stick him in directly," said Mr. Thorold. "He's to be
a soldier, and I've got a young fellow coming as a model presently. Ran
against him in a rather extraordinary way. He called on me yesterday
with an introduction from Bloxham: said he had never sat as model
before; but that he was hard up, and would do his best. Fine young
fellow, and a nice taking sort of chap altogether."

"Burglar in disguise, coming to inspect the premises, no doubt,"
surmised Kitty cheerfully.

"Well, he's welcome to anything he takes a fancy to," remarked Mr.
Thorold.

"Oh, well!" she said. "I'm off to consult Selinar-Ann as to whether it's
to be bread-and-butter pudding or a baked roly-poly; expect me back, or
what remains of me, in an hour."

Carefully rumpling her father's already disordered hair, she screwed up
his patient face between her hands, kissed him and ran out, singing as
she went.

In less than an hour she re-entered the studio, still singing; but the
song snapped off suddenly, and she stood just within the doorway,
staring with wide-open eyes at a young soldier in khaki who stood on the
model's dais, one arm in a sling, the other extended with a sword in the
hand, in the kind of attitude beloved by the populace, and forming the
picture which bears inevitably the legend, "Charge!"

[Illustration]

The young man turned his eyes--he dared not move anything else--and, at
sight of the stricken maiden, his tanned face grew the colour of a
healthy beetroot.

"Getting on famously, Kit," remarked Mr. Thorold in a preoccupied
manner. "Arm a little higher, if you please, Captain----Pardon, didn't
catch your name."

"Barnard," said the model, in a small voice quite inconsistent with his
fine and manly proportions.

"Ah, thank you! Could you--er--put on something of a scowl? You're
wounded, you know, and you're leading a forlorn hope, or something of
the sort."

The young man's good-looking face assumed as much of a scowl as it was
capable of doing, and Mr. Thorold dashed it on the paper.

"Capital! Now you can rest a minute. I've got to go and get some more
ochre. Perhaps you'd like a drink?"

"Thank you; I should," confessed the young man, with a slight huskiness.

"All right; I'll bring it," said Mr. Thorold; and, as he was leaving the
room, he said over his shoulder, "My daughter; Captain Barnard."

Kitty closed the door carefully; then, seating herself on the divan, she
rested her chin in her hand and, regarding the young man severely, she
demanded sternly:

"Perhaps you'll be kind enough to inform me of the--the meaning of
this?"

He had seated himself on the edge of the dais and was wiping his face,
as if he were just going through a dangerous action, with the enemy
pressing on all sides.

"I beg your pardon?" he faltered, with meekness in his voice, mien, and
eye.

"I asked you why you are masquerading here?" she said, uncompromisingly.

"Well, come to that, I'm not masquerading. This is my own kit; I'm a
soldier, as you know. This is a genuine wound, not a fake; and I'm
really hard up: had a run of bad luck lately. No harm in earning an
honest shilling."

"But why come to my father, this particular studio, to earn it?"
demanded Kitty, cutting short his feeble attempts at plausible
explanation.

"Oh, well," he replied desperately: "you see, when I met you at the
Thomsons' the other night, and asked you if I might have the honour of
calling on you, you said that your father was a very busy man and that
you yourself had no time for receiving visitors."

[Illustration]

"Well?" demanded Kitty, as icily as before.

"Well," he resumed, looking down and then up at her, as if he could not
keep his eyes from her face, stern and almost ferocious as it was,
"well, I asked the Thomsons who your father was, and when they told me,
I thought--I thought----Well, don't you know, it seemed to me that he
might want a model. War pictures are all the go now, aren't they? And
so----" He broke down, made a little gesture with his unwounded arm, and
blurted out, "Of course you know why I've come. I wanted to see you
again. I told you so the other night; like my cheek, of course, but--I
don't know how it is--I feel as if I'd _got_ to see you, to know you.
Look here, Miss Kitty--I beg your pardon, all the Thomsons call you
that--I hope you won't mind my saying that I've fallen in love with
you?"

"Excuse me; I mind it very much," Kitty informed him with distressing
promptitude; but her eyes wavered and the colour came into her face and
made it, in the unfortunate young man's opinion, more maddeningly
fascinating than ever.

"Oh, well, I'm sorry," he said, but without much penitence in his tone;
"but the truth should always be told, shouldn't it? And it is the
truth."

"Is it?" queried Kitty. "You've seen me only once before, and then only
for an hour or two."

"Two hours and three-quarters," he said, as if he were a stickler for
accuracy; "and I fell in love with you after the first quarter of an
hour. That being the case--as it certainly is--what was I to do? I shall
have to go back to the regiment as soon as this old arm of mine is
right; and it's getting right quickly; and I felt that I couldn't go
without at any rate telling you what--what was the matter with me."

"You speak as if--as if love were a disease," said Kitty, with an
attempt at mockery which was an abject failure.

"So it is," he declared, "and I've got it bad--very bad indeed. I'll ask
you to believe me, Miss Kitty--I mean Miss Thorold--that I haven't had
you out of my mind for one moment since we parted."

"It's a pity you haven't something better to think of," said Kitty.

"There I disagree with you," observed the young man stoutly. "I couldn't
have anything better to think of, and I don't want to. I shall think of
you for the rest of my natural life. One moment, Miss Kitty, before you
refuse me. I ought to tell you that I'm a poor young captain, in a
marching regiment, with no prospects."

"The allurement is irresistible----" began Kitty, with admirable
gravity.

"I'm delighted to hear it," he said. "So you accept me?"

"The politeness of a soldier should have compelled you to hear me out. I
was going to add, that it would be irresistible if I were in love with
you; but----"

"Don't go on, I beg of you!" he implored. "I'm not such a fat-headed
idiot as to suppose that you _are_ in love with me. What I wanted to ask
you was to give me a show. You see, I've arranged with Mr. Thorold to
stand, not only for this picture, but for an oil-painting, which I
suppose--don't know much about art--will take some time."

"You have? Well, of all the----!"

"Quite so," he said meekly. "You see, it will give me a chance of trying
to explain to you that, if you refuse me, it will be--oh, worse than a
conical bullet in a particularly vital spot. All I ask is that you will
look in now and again, and--and give me an opportunity of--of----"

"Bothering me to death," finished Kitty for him.

"No; bothering you into an engagement--which is sometimes a serious
affair, but not always fatal," he said frankly. "Come, Miss Kitty, don't
be hard on me! It's not much to ask----"

"Oh, isn't it?" interjected Kitty with fine irony. "Thank you. Captain
Barnard."

"If you were in love with me--absurd idea, of course! but I'm just
putting the case--I'd come and sit with you and give you any amount of
chances."

Kitty heard her father's returning footsteps, and she stood up and
looked from side to side, and then at this meekly audacious young man,
with a mixture of astonishment and bewilderment--and something else I
cannot define--in her really wonderful eyes.

"Well, of all the cool----" she said again. But he cut her short.

"That's all right," he said breathlessly; "thank you ever so much. Your
father's coming. I'm to be here at eleven o'clock every morning."

"And you think," said Kitty, as hurriedly, "that, by simply sitting here
and regarding you in that absurd attitude, I shall fall in----?"

[Illustration]

"Oh, no; not at all. Fortune will have pity on me and give me an
opportunity for seeing you for a minute or two alone. Besides,
perhaps--I only say perhaps, mind!--you might be induced to lunch at an
A.B.C. shop," he jerked out in a rapid whisper, as the innocent parent
returned with his yellow ochre.

Kitty went up to her room, flung herself into a chair in her favourite
attitude, with her chin in her hands, and stared at nothing--no, not
nothing, but at the handsome face and manly form of a wounded soldier.

Of course, she would not go near the studio while he was there.
Consequently, the next morning, at half-past eleven, she entered with
refreshment on a tray; and, with downcast eyes and a blush, informed her
father that she had left his soda-and-milk in the dining-room because a
change of scene and air would be good for him.

[Illustration]

She was still rosy with shame when the model sprang from the dais,
caught her hand, and declared fervently that she was an angel.

"No, I am a sly and deceitful, not to say forward, girl," said Kitty.
"But I've only made an opportunity to tell you that I'm not coming into
the studio again while you're here."

"That's all right," he responded cheerfully. "Come in just about this
time. And I've found a jolly little A.B.C. shop where we can get some
lunch to-day: second turning to the right, in the corner--I should like
you to be able to tell me, quite quietly, why you find it necessary to
refuse me. I think that's only fair to you."

"And I think," said Kitty emphatically, "that you possess the
concentrated cheek--I am sorry there is no stronger word--of the whole
British Army; and I decline your invitation."

She kept him waiting at the A.B.C. shop for a good quarter of an hour.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the afternoon Kitty presented herself at 209, Belgrave Square, and
was shown into what a house-agent would call "the magnificent and
spacious salon." Lady Hawborough was seated in a capacious chair,
knitting for dear life; on a small table beside her was an orderly
disorder of blue books, reports of charitable societies, vegetarian
tracts, and the debris of her morning's correspondence. She received
Kitty with more than graciousness; for her ladyship, notwithstanding her
crankiness, was the owner of that organ the possession of which we are
led to believe atones for all minor faults, not to say crimes--a "good
heart."

Besides, she had been immensely taken with Kitty, and admired genuinely
the pluck and readiness which the girl had displayed in the rescue of
the puppy: of course, Lady Hawborough was a prominent member of the
S.P.C.A.

She gave Kitty some tea, patted her hand several times, and proceeded to
put her through a kindly, but searching, catechism; and, before tea was
over, had obtained sufficient information respecting Kitty's life to
convince her that the girl was a fitting object of her ladyship's
benevolence. It is true that, every now and then, Kitty caught a glimpse
of the somewhat masterful spirit which her ladyship displayed in her
favourite occupation of ordering the lives of all who came in contact
with her; but Kitty was not so stupid as to fail to recognise the
presence of the aforesaid good heart, or not to credit the old lady with
the amiable intention which smiled behind the mask of tyranny.

[Illustration]

"She's not at all a bad sort," Kitty informed her father on her return
home. "Oh, I daresay she's fond of interfering and all that; but she
can't interfere with me; I'm not her relation--I was going to say 'Thank
goodness,' but I really do like her, Dad. She's coming to see some of
your pictures some day."

"Oh, my great aunt!" groaned Mr. Thorold, who, like a true artist, had a
loathing for the necessary, but sometimes maddening, art patron.

The drawing for the _Long Acre Magazine_ being duly finished, Mr.
Thorold began on the more important battle-piece.

"I think I'm going to make a hit with this, Kitty," he said to his
daughter one morning, as he was preparing for the arrival of his
admirably punctual and singularly patient model. "You see, I've got a
splendid young chap to stand for it. He's the real thing, instead of a
coster dressed up in an officer's uniform. And he's a pleasant chap,
too," he continued meditatively. "A modest, well-mannered young fellow:
no swank or swagger; in fact, a gentleman. By the way, Kitty, you might
remember that little fact, and not be quite so short and sharp with him
when he speaks to you."

"Oh, it won't hurt him," retorted Kitty, turning her back quickly. "From
what I have seen of him, I should say that Captain Barnard would not be
easily snubbed."

"And you try pretty hard," remarked her father. "For instance, yesterday
there was no occasion for you to tell him to shut up when he observed
that it was a fine day."

"All I said was that a model was much more effective when he kept his
mouth closed," said Kitty.

"That strikes me as being pretty much the same thing," said her father.
"He looked quite crushed."

"Do him good," murmured Kitty. "Besides, he can talk the hind leg off an
army mule when he likes."

"How do you know?" asked her parent, with mild surprise.

"Oh, I'm only drawing inferences from--from his general appearance,"
said Kitty, looking a trifle confused.

"Going out to lunch again to-day?" demanded her father, repiningly, as,
clad in outdoor things, she passed him in the passage a couple of hours
later.

"Sorry, dear; got a pressing engagement. Besides, you never eat
anything. There! did it miss its nurse? Never mind! I'll be in all the
evening." She scrunched up his face, gave him what she called her
"screw" kiss, and departed to the A.B.C. shop.

By this time, it must be confessed, the fortress besieged by Captain
Barnard with such ingenuous strategy, but manly courage, had
surrendered; and to-day the wounded soldier had brought a pretty but
inexpensive ring with him.

"It's all I can afford, dearest," he said, as he slipped it on the
finger.

"It's a perfect duck," she returned, touching the ring with her lips--a
wicked and maddening thing to do; for you can't kiss a girl in an A.B.C.
shop, however much in love with her you may be.

"And to-morrow I'll tell your father. What--what do you think he'll say,
darling?"

"I know what he'll say, but I couldn't repeat it, because I've been
properly brought up," replied Kitty.

"But he won't refuse his consent, won't chuck me out?" cried her lover,
aghast.

"No; because, strange as it may seem, he's really fond of me. Oh, I
don't deserve it; for he's the dearest dad that ever had a hussy and a
minx for a daughter. No, he won't throw you out, at any rate until the
picture's finished. And perhaps you'll be tired of me--I mean, I shall
be tired of you--we shall be tired of each other, before that time."

"I'll risk that," he said confidently, pressing her hand under the
table.

[Illustration]

That afternoon Kitty, in a state of perfect bliss, paid one of her
frequent visits to Lady Hawborough, with whom she had now become great
friends; in fact, the old lady had grown quite fond of the girl; and the
extent of this affection was proved that afternoon to Kitty by an
extraordinary mischance. The footman had shown her into a small
ante-room, which Lady Hawborough called her "study"; the adjoining
apartment was divided from that in which Kitty was waiting by a pair of
folding doors, and, one of these being partly open, Kitty heard the
rustling of dresses, followed by Lady Hawborough's clear and very
distinct voice saying:

"Must you go, dear? I'm so sorry, because I wanted you to see her. She's
quite a nice girl--in fact, a really sweet little soul. Oh, yes, of
course, I've plans for her," she continued, as if in response to a
remark by the other lady. "I'm afraid she has not many opportunities;
the father is a struggling artist and they don't move in society, of
course. I'm thinking of--in fact, I've made up my mind to marry her to
Archibald."

"Lucky Archibald!" observed the other lady.

"Yes; I think he will be," assented Lady Hawborough, with a complacency
she always exhibited when disposing of the fate of those belonging to
her. "He is a good boy, a little wild, perhaps, but really no harm in
him; and it's time he was married. I'm a little anxious about him,
because he's so--so impetuous, like all the Hawboroughs." Her ladyship's
"dearest friend" could not have accused her of impetuosity; and Kitty
could almost see the other lady smile. "He is the sort of boy who might
fall in love with a barmaid or a ballet girl and marry her."

"Then this young lady doesn't come within the category of undesirables?"

"Oh, dear, no," said Lady Hawborough. "She's quite a lady and will suit
Archibald very nicely. I am very pleased with him; he has been doing so
well lately: quite distinguished himself; you've heard, of course? It
was in the papers. I am going to look after him."

Kitty had been listening with burning face and twitching lips. She had
been so astonished as to be incapable of carrying out her desire to
spring to the door and declare her presence, and escape from the
position of an eavesdropper; but she recovered sufficiently to rise and
confront Lady Hawborough as, on having said farewell to her visitor, she
entered the room.

"Why, my dear!" said her ladyship, almost embarrassed, "I didn't know
that you were here: have you been waiting long?"

"Long enough to hear what you said," replied Kitty bluntly, her face
pale now, her eyes flashing. "I couldn't help listening. I'm sorry. Yet
it's just as well, because, Lady Hawborough, I don't think you have any
right to--to dispose of me in the way you intended doing.--I don't know
who 'Archibald' is."

"Archibald is my nephew," said Lady Hawborough stiffly; and when Lady
Hawborough was stiff, the common or kitchen poker compared with her was
a soft and flexible article. "My nephew and heir. He is a very good and
brave young man."

"He may be a saint for all I care," said Kitty; "but I don't want to
marry him, and I won't. In fact, I'm----" She was going to say
"engaged," but she was really too angry to confide in Lady Hawborough
"--I'm resolved not to do so. I am afraid you will think me very
ungrateful, and that--well, that this is the end of our friendship."

"I think you are stating the situation very accurately," said Lady
Hawborough, whose face was exceeding red.

"I'm sorry," said Kitty, rather wistfully and sadly, her resentment
waning; for the old lady had been very kind to her, and Kitty saw that
even this absurd intention of hers sprang from a benevolent desire to
benefit her protégée. "I want to thank you for all your goodness to me,
and----Good-bye, Lady Hawborough."

She held out her hand, but Lady Hawborough appeared not to see it, and
Kitty got outside the "stately and desirable mansion" and hastened home
to enjoy a good cry.

When she made her appearance in the studio next morning, she found her
father seated on his stool in an attitude of profound dismay, his long
figure bowed, his rumpled hair clutched in his hands, his painting-brush
between his teeth.

On the dais stood the wounded soldier, his face flushed, an expression
of keen discomfort all over him.

"Here, look here, Kitty!" wailed her distracted parent. "Just listen to
what this young man's been telling me? He says that you and he have got
engaged! Heavens!"

"Quite true, father," said Kitty calmly, but with a blush.

"Oh, my goodness! And he tells me that he's poor, and has nothing to
live on excepting his pay and a small allowance."

"That's true also, I believe, father," said Kitty. "I'm sorry; but it
can't be helped. You'll have to paint me as 'The Mendicant's Bride.'"

"Don't joke about it, you foolish, abandoned girl!" groaned Mr. Thorold.

"But you don't want me to cry about it, Dad dear," said Kitty, going to
him, taking the brush from between his teeth, and putting her arm round
his neck. "Haven't you got anything to say for yourself?" she asked,
addressing the discomfited young man.

"Not a word," he returned. "Said all I've got to say. And look at the
effect of it!"

[Illustration]

"Yes," she retorted. "You've broken the heart of an affectionate and
devoted parent. You're a wicked young man.--Oh, dad dear, do get up and
go on with your work! You know as well as I do that you're not going to
make us unhappy? Say, 'Bless you, my children!' like a good father, and
let's all go up and mingle our tears over a lunch at the Floriani."

"Ripping idea!" cried the infatuated lover, who would have said the same
if Kitty had proposed they should lunch in the moon.

"Oh, well," said Mr. Thorold, a trifle more cheerfully, and with a shrug
of resignation. "But I shall not go unavenged. Young man, you do not
know what lies before you. She will make a slave of you, as she has made
a slave of me; this girl is a tyrant of the most outrageous kind. You
will not possess a soul of your own; you will----"

"Bravo, Dad!" interrupted Kitty. "But it will be quite time enough to
give me away when we get to the church. There's your hat, on the bust
there."

"And now we'll go on the bust ourselves," said the young man joyously.
"I say, how jolly it all is! Would you mind my kissing her, sir?"

He was in the middle of the somewhat lengthy act, when the door opened,
and Selinar-Ann announced in awe-stricken tones:

"Lidy 'Awborough!" And her ladyship swept in.

[Illustration]

With his arm still round Kitty, her lover stared at the portly dame as
if she were a gorgon. Kitty, with a stifled exclamation of astonishment,
freed herself with difficulty from the young man's grasp, and, with
blushing face, hastened to greet the august visitor, whom Mr. Thorold
was regarding with an air of patient resignation.

But Lady Hawborough put out one hand to keep Kitty back, and, fixing her
lover with a stony stare, exclaimed sepulchrally:

"Archibald!"

There was a profound silence for a moment; then Kitty, staring in her
turn at her lover, echoed the objectionable word; for it was a name she
detested.

"Archibald! His name's Harry!"

"His name is _Archibald_," said Lady Hawborough sternly. "I ought to
know; for he is my nephew."

"Your nephew!" gasped Kitty.

The young man, having recovered from a fright which no shrapnel built by
Krupp could have caused him, now came forward with hand extended.

"How are you, Aunt?--yes, it's my aunt, right enough. Didn't I tell you?
Must have forgotten to mention it: ought to be ashamed of myself, for
Aunt Philippa's been awfully good to me. Aunt, this young lady is----"

"I know quite well enough who she is, Archibald," broke in Lady
Hawborough severely. "What I want to know is--What does this mean?"

"Oh, I see!" he stammered. "Oh, well, it means--of course, you saw when
you came in? It means that Kitty here--Miss Thorold, allow me to
introduce you to my aunt. Mr. Thorold, my aunt, Lady Hawborough. Aunt
Philippa, Mr. Thorold: he is the father of this young lady, Kitty here,
who has done me the very great honour of promising to marry me. Sounds
impossible; but it's true!"

Lady Hawborough stalked to the nearest chair and, with stately dignity
seated herself on it, very much as a judge might take his place on the
dreadful bench.

"Girl," she said, in her deepest tones, "why have you tricked, deceived
me?"

Then, suddenly, as if influenced by a peculiar expression in Kitty's
eyes, an expression which conveyed a kind of warning, her ladyship
faltered, opened her lips once or twice, then said, in quite a different
tone, indeed, almost meekly:

"This--this is quite a surprise. You will forgive me if I am a little
upset. I think I ought to have been prepared. However, as you young
people have taken the matter into your own hands----"

"Just what we have done, haven't we, Kitty?" exclaimed her lover, as if
he were proclaiming the supernal wisdom of his relative.

"--there is no more to be said," concluded Lady Hawborough rather
lamely. "At least, I should like to have a word or two with Miss--Miss
Thorold--I mean, Kitty----"

"Outside, Eliza!" cried Harry, otherwise Archibald, joyously, as,
catching the bewildered Mr. Thorold by the arm, he walked, almost
danced, him out.

Kitty did not wait for any question.

"You see," she said, explaining the significance of her warning look,
"it was just as well not to tell these foolish men everything. It might
happen that if Harry--I mean Archibald--knew that you had meant to
insist upon his marrying me--well, men get huffy so quickly, don't
they?--he might refuse to do so now."

"Well, he might, but I don't think it's very likely, my dear," said Lady
Hawborough; and she patted the little hand that lay on her knee. "But I
think you are right. We will not say anything about--yesterday. You're a
clever little thing," she added, kissing her.

"Can we come in?" demanded Harry, a few minutes later. "Aunt, we're all
going up to the Floriani to get some lunch. Come with us, like a good
soul!"

"The--Flo--Floriani! _What_ is it?" asked her ladyship fearsomely.

"It's a restaurant in Soho, where you get a thorough blow-out--I mean a
Continental lunch--for one-and-nine," her nephew informed her. "Come on,
Aunt Philippa!"

Lady Hawborough shuddered. "I should be delighted, Archibald dear,
but--but I think you'd better all go round to Belgrave Square with me.
It--it would be safer."

It was after lunch, when the two young and silly lovers were in the very
ante-room where Kitty had overheard Lady Hawborough's fell designs, that
Kitty, holding his head back from her for a moment, asked:

"But why does she call you Archibald?"

"Because it's my name, or one of 'em," he replied. "Harry Archibald
Stephen Fitzwilliam----"

"Oh, stop, stop! I shall feel as if I were marrying half a dozen men.
But you haven't told me _why_ she calls you Archibald; and has thus
caused all this confusion!"

"Oh, because a lawyer chap who bolted with a lot of her money was called
Henry; and, moreover, a bishop we've got in the family, and a chap my
aunt's very proud of, is called Archibald."

[Illustration]

"She'll have to drop that name, Harry," said Kitty firmly. "I can't bear
it. Do you think she will?"

"I'm perfectly certain she will, if you've made up your mind she shall,"
he returned, with an air of profound conviction; "for it's plain to me
you've captured the aunt as well as the nephew. Yes, it's a fair cop."
"She's a dear," murmured Kitty, very close to his ear.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] Copyright in Great Britain, the Colonies, and the United States of
America by Charles Garvice, 1914. Dramatic and other rights reserved.



THE LAND OF LET'SPRETEND

BY LADY SYBIL GRANT

_Painting and Drawings by_ ARTHUR RACKHAM, R.W.S.


I.--LET'SPRETEND

    THIS country is not on the map,
    But sometimes, curled on Mother's lap,
    Or sitting in my bedtime bath,
    I wish that I could find the path.

    THERE no one's ever called a dunce,
    And you eat jam and cake at once,
    Or chocolate and lemon squash,
    While nobody need ever wash.

    MOTHERS have nothing else to do
    Except to kiss and cuddle you;
    And fathers need not "earn their bread,"
    But stay and romp with you instead.

    THERE are no girls: just men and boys
    And mothers; _all_ the shops sell toys;
    Just _every one_ plays Hide and Seek,
    And Christmas happens twice a week.

    WHILE everybody has a car,
    Also a yacht, like Grandpapa,
    And lives in wigwams, tents, or huts,
    And owns a knife that really cuts.

    BUT some things you can never find,
    However tired you make your mind;
    Like other things you never know
    For sure--if you try ever so.

    JUST as: how God turns on the rain,
    So nobody can quite explain
    Exactly where the rainbows end.
    And so it is with Let'spretend.

    MY Father says that all his life
    With my Mamma (who is his wife)
    They've looked; and they are _very_ old.
    My father's thirty, I've been told!

[Illustration:

    "And they are _very_ old.
    My father's thirty, I've been told!"]


II.--SUPPOSING

    SUPPOSING one had been
      Shut up in Noah's Ark
    (During the flood, I mean)--
      It would have been a lark!

    THE animals, you know,
      Were not as they are now;
    _Quite_ different long ago--
      Just see this purple cow!

    THE lion, it seems, was pink,
      The bears and tigers too,
    While zebras had, I _think_,
      Most lovely stripes of blue.

    BUT really, I forget,
      For now the stripes are faint,
    In my own Noah's Ark set
      I once licked off the paint.

    AT least, so I am told
      (A stupid thing to do!
    But I was not so old
      Then--only half-past two).

    NOAH'S sons--just look at Ham,
      Japhet, of course, and Shem!
    I think I really am
      Glad I don't look like them!

[Illustration: JAPHET

    JUST LOOK
    _at Ham_

    OF COURSE

    AND
    _Shem_!]

    THEY all stand on green rings
      Of grass. Perhaps at night
    The cows and sheep and things
      Prowled round to steal a bite.

    HORRID for Shem to feel
      Tickling around his toes,
    Hoping to snatch a meal,
      Two hungry buffaloes!

    BUT think what lovely pets
      Noah had all for his own;
    Each one in double sets,
      And mostly quite unknown.

    EVEN a tame baboon!--
      See, he is painted red--
    Would get to know you soon
      And sleep upon your bed.

    THE kangaroo that jumps,
      Camels that learn to kneel
    And let you ride their bumps,
      Or follow you to heel.

    THE pets that I keep now
      Are guinea-pigs and such;
    My parents won't allow
      The ones I want so much.

    A baby crocodile
      Or _really_ tame giraffe,
    I wonder why you smile;
      They, too, say "no" and laugh.

    [Illustration: NOAH]

    I WOULD have loved it so
      To travel in the Ark,
    With all the Zoo, you know--
      Except when it was dark



[Illustration:

    "So nobody can quite explain
    Exactly where the rainbows end."

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Arthur Rackham. R.W.S._]

[Illustration:

    "The animals, you know,
    Were not as they are now"]


III.--WHEN JIM IS QUITE GROWN UP

    WHEN Jim is quite grown up,
    And has a bulldog pup,
    And sits up very late
    _Always_ till half-past eight,
    Then, when he is a man,
    He means to marry Ann.

    HER age is twenty-two,
    But he _thinks_ she will do;
    He has not told her yet,
    Or she might be upset
    At having got to wait
    Until this distant date.

    THE life that he will lead
    Sounds very fine indeed:
    Adventures, wounds, and fights,
    And hunting raids of nights;
    Murders and blug and fun
    With sword and axe and gun.

    AIRSHIPS and hydroplanes,
    Mustangs and prairie flames!
    Deserts and jungles vast,
    And, when quite tired at last
    With being on the roam,
    Of course, he would come home.

    AND, after miles of tramp,
    Reel, wounded, into camp,
    Bound with a handkerchief,
    And munching bully-beef;
    While Ann at the camp fire
    Would listen and admire.

    WHAT fun he will have, too!
    Nothing he will not do.
    He often says to me
    (Excepting the V.C.)
    Medals he would decline--
    They are not in his line.

    BUT he would soar to fame
    And win a glorious name.
    And Ann? How odd you are!
    Why, just like his Mamma,
    Would sit at home and sew,
    Like women do, you know.

[Illustration: NOT IN HIS LINE



MAGEPA THE BUCK

BY H. RIDER HAGGARD

_Drawings by_ J. BYAM SHAW, A.R.W.S.

_Copyright in the U.S.A. by H. Rider Haggard_

[Illustration]


IN a preface to the story of the early life of the late Allan
Quatermain, known in Africa as Macumazahn, which has recently been
published under the name of "Marie," Mr. Curtis, the brother of Sir
Henry Curtis, tells of how he found a number of manuscripts that were
left by Mr. Quatermain in his house in Yorkshire. Of these "Marie" was
one, but in addition to it and sundry other completed stories, I, the
Editor to whom it was directed that these manuscripts should be handed
for publication, have found a quantity of unclassified notes and papers.

One of these notes--it is contained in a book, much soiled and worn,
that evidently its owner had carried about with him for years--reminds
me of a conversation I had with Mr. Quatermain long ago when I was his
guest in Yorkshire. The note itself is short; I think that he must have
jotted it down within an hour or two of the event to which it refers. It
runs thus:

"I wonder whether in the 'Land Beyond' any recognition is granted for
acts of great courage and unselfish devotion--a kind of spiritual
Victoria Cross. If so I think it ought to be accorded to that poor old
savage, Magepa, at least it would be if I had any voice in the matter.
Upon my word he has made me feel proud of humanity. And yet he was
nothing but a 'nigger,' as so many call the Kaffirs."

For a while I, the Editor, wondered to what this entry could allude.
Then of a sudden it all came back to me. I saw myself, as a young man,
seated in the hall of Quatermain's house one evening after dinner. With
me were Sir Henry Curtis and Captain Good. We were smoking, and the
conversation had turned upon deeds of heroism. Each of us detailed such
acts as he could remember which had made the most impression on him.
When we had finished, old Allan said:

"With your leave I'll tell you a story of what I think was one of the
bravest things I ever saw. It happened at the beginning of the Zulu war,
when the troops were marching into Zululand. Now at that time, as you
know, I was turning an honest penny transport-riding for Government, or
rather for the military authorities. I hired them three wagons with the
necessary voorloopers and drivers, sixteen good salted oxen to each
wagon, and myself in charge of the lot. They paid me--well, never mind
how much--I am rather ashamed to mention the amount. I asked a good
price for my wagons, or rather for the hire of them, of a very well
satisfied young gentleman in uniform who had been exactly three weeks in
the country, and, to my surprise, got it. But when I went to those in
command and warned them what would happen if they persisted in their way
of advance, then in their pride they would not listen to the old hunter
and transport-rider, but politely bowed me out. If they had, there would
have been no Isandhlwana disaster."

[Illustration]

He brooded awhile, for, as I knew, this was a sore subject with him, one
of which he would rarely talk. Although he escaped himself, Quatermain
had lost friends on that fatal field. He went on:

To return to old Magepa. I had known him for many years. The first time
we met was in the battle of the Tugela. I was fighting for the king's
son, Umbelazi the Handsome, in the ranks of the Amawombe regiment--I
mean to write all that story, for it should not be lost.[2] Well, as I
have told you before, the Amawombe were wiped out; of the three thousand
or so of them I think only about fifty remained alive after they had
annihilated the three of Cetewayo's regiments that set upon them. But
Magepa was one who survived.

I met him afterwards at old King Panda's kraal and recognised him as
having fought by my side. Whilst I was talking with him the Prince
Cetewayo came by; to me he was civil enough, for he knew how I chanced
to be in the battle, but he glared at Magepa, and said:

"Why, Macumazahn, is not this man one of the dogs with which you tried
to bite me by the Tugela not long ago? He must be a cunning dog also,
one who can run fast, for how comes it that he lives to snarl when so
many will never bark again? _Ow!_ if I had my way I would find a strip
of hide to fit his neck."

"Not so," I answered; "he has the king's peace and he is a brave
man--braver than I am, anyway, Prince, seeing that I ran from the ranks
of the Amawombe, while he stood where he was."

"You mean that your horse ran, Macumazahn. Well, since you like this
dog, I will not hurt him"; and with a shrug he went his way.

"Yet soon or late he will hurt me," said Magepa, when the Prince had
gone. "U'Cetewayo has a memory long as the shadow thrown by a tree at
sunset. Moreover, as he knows well, it is true that I ran, Macumazahn,
though not till all was finished and I could do no more by standing
still. You remember how, after we had eaten up the first of Cetewayo's
regiments, the second charged us and we ate that up also. Well, in that
fight I got a tap on the head from a kerry. It struck me on my man's
ring which I had just put on, for I think I was the youngest soldier in
that regiment of veterans. The ring saved me; still, for a while I lost
my mind and lay like one dead. When I found it again the fight was over
and Cetewayo's people were searching for our wounded that they might
kill them. Presently they found me and saw that there was no hurt on me.

"'Here is one who shams dead like a stink-cat,' said a big fellow,
lifting his spear.

"Then it was that I sprang up and ran, I who was but just married and
desired to live. He struck at me, but I jumped over the spear, and the
others that they threw missed me. Then they began to hunt me, but,
Macumazahn, I, who am named 'The Buck' because I am swifter of foot than
any man in Zululand, outpaced them all and got away safe."

"Well done, Magepa," I said. "Still, remember the saying of your people,
'At last the strong swimmer goes with the stream and the swift runner is
run down.'"

"I know it, Macumazahn," he answered, with a nod, "and perhaps in a day
to come I shall know it better."

I took little heed of his words at the time, but more than thirty years
afterwards I remembered them.

Such was my first acquaintance with Magepa. Now, friends, I will tell
you how it was renewed at the time of the Zulu war.

As you know, I was attached to the centre column that advanced into
Zululand by Rorke's Drift on the Buffalo River. Before war was declared,
or at any rate before the advance began, while it might have been and
many thought it would be averted, I was employed transport-riding goods
to the little Rorke's Drift station, that which became so famous
afterwards, and incidentally in collecting what information I could of
Cetewayo's intentions. Hearing that there was a kraal a mile or so the
other side of the river, of which the people were said to be very
friendly to the English, I determined to visit it. You may think this
was rash, but I was so well known in Zululand, where for many years, by
special leave of the king, I was allowed to go whither I would quite
unmolested, that I felt no fear for myself so long as I went alone.

Accordingly one evening I crossed the drift and headed for a kloof in
which I was told the kraal stood. Ten minutes' ride brought me in sight
of it. It was not a large kraal; there may have been six or eight huts
and a cattle enclosure surrounded by the usual fence. The situation,
however, was very pretty, a knoll of rising ground backed by the wooded
slopes of the kloof. As I approached I saw women and children running to
the kraal to hide, and when I reached the gateway for some time no one
would come out to meet me. At length a small boy appeared who informed
me that the kraal was "empty as a gourd."

"Quite so," I answered; "still, go and tell the headman that Macumazahn
wishes to speak with him."

The boy departed, and presently I saw a face that seemed familiar to me
peeping round the gateway. After a careful inspection its owner emerged.

He was a tall, thin man of indefinite age, perhaps between sixty and
seventy, with a finely-cut face, a little grey beard, kind eyes and very
well shaped hands and feet, the fingers, which twitched incessantly,
being remarkably long.

"Greeting, Macumazahn," he said. "I see you do not remember me. Well,
think of the battle of the Tugela, and of the last stand of the
Amawombe, and of a certain talk at the kraal of our Father-who-is-dead"
(that is, King Panda), "and of how he who sits in his place" (he meant
Cetewayo) "told you that if he had his way he would find a hide rope to
fit the neck of a certain one."

"Ah!" I said, "I know you now; you are Magepa the Buck. So the Runner
has not yet been run down."

"No, Macumazahn, not yet; but there is still time. I think that many
swift feet will be at work ere long."

"How have you prospered?" I asked him.

"Well enough, Macumazahn, in all ways except one. I have three wives,
but my children have been few and are dead, except one daughter, who is
married and lives with me, for her husband, too, is dead. He was killed
by a buffalo, and she has not yet married again. But enter and see."

[Illustration]

So I went in and saw Magepa's wives, old women all of them. Also, at his
bidding, his daughter, whose name was Gita, brought me some _maas_, or
curdled milk, to drink. She was a well-formed woman, very like her
father, but sad-faced, perhaps with a prescience of evil to come.
Clinging to her finger was a beautiful boy of something under two years
of age, who, when he saw Magepa, ran to him and threw his little arms
about his legs. The old man lifted the child and kissed him tenderly,
saying:

"It is well that this toddler and I should love one another, Macumazahn,
seeing that he is the last of my race. All the other children here are
those of the people who have come to live in my shadow."

"Where are their fathers?" I asked, patting the little boy (who, his
mother told me, was named Sinala) upon the cheek, an attention that he
resented.

"They have been called away on duty," answered Magepa shortly; and I
changed the subject.

[Illustration]

Then we began to talk about old times, and I asked him if he had any
oxen to sell, saying that this was my reason for visiting his kraal.

"Nay, Macumazahn," he answered, in a meaning voice. "This year all the
cattle are the king's."

I nodded and replied that, as it was so, I had better be going; whereon,
as I half expected, Magepa announced that he would see me safe to the
drift. So I bade farewell to the wives and the widowed daughter, and we
started.

As soon as we were clear of the kraal Magepa began to open his heart to
me.

"Macumazahn," he said, looking up at me earnestly, for I was mounted and
he walked beside my horse, "there is to be war. Cetewayo will not
consent to the demands of the great White Chief from the Cape"--he meant
Sir Bartle Frere. "He will fight with the English; only he will let them
begin the fighting. He will draw them on into Zululand and then
overwhelm them with his _impis_ and stamp them flat, and eat them up;
and I, who love the English, am very sorry. Yes, it makes my heart
bleed. If it were the Boers now, I should be glad, for we Zulus hate the
Boers; but the English we do not hate; even Cetewayo likes them; still
he will eat them up if they attack him."

"Indeed," I answered; and then, as in duty bound, I proceeded to get
what I could out of him, and that was not a little. Of course, however,
I did not swallow it all, since I suspected that Magepa was feeding me
with news that he had been ordered to disseminate.

Presently we came to the mouth of the kloof in which the kraal stood,
and here, for greater convenience of conversation, we halted, for I
thought it as well that we should not be seen in close talk on the open
plain beyond. The path here, I should add, ran past a clump of green
bushes; I remember they bore a white flower that smelt sweet, and were
backed by some tall grass, elephant-grass I think it was, among which
grew mimosa trees.

"Magepa," I said, "if in truth there is to be fighting, why don't you
move over the river one night with your people and cattle, and get into
Natal?"

[Illustration]

"I would if I could, Macumazahn, who have no stomach for this war
against the English. But there I should not be safe, since presently the
king will come into Natal too, or send thirty thousand assegais as his
messengers. Then what will happen to those who have left him?"

"Oh, if you think that," I answered, "you had better stay where you
are."

"Also, Macumazahn, the husbands of those women at my kraal have been
called up to their regiments, and if their wives fled to the English
they would be killed. Again, the king has sent for nearly all our
cattle, 'to keep it safe.' He fears lest we Border Zulus might join our
people in Natal, and that is why he is keeping our cattle 'safe.'"

"Life is more than cattle, Magepa. At least you might come."

"What! And leave my people to be killed? Macumazahn, you did not use to
talk so. Still, hearken. Macumazahn, will you do me a service? I will
pay you well for it. I would get my daughter Gita and my little grandson
Sinala into safety. If I and my wives are wiped out it does not matter,
for we are old. But her I would save, and the boy I would save, so that
one may live who will remember my name. Now, if I were to send them
across the drift, say at the dawn, not to-morrow, and not the next day,
but the day after, would you receive them into your wagon and deliver
them safe to some place in Natal? I have money hidden, fifty pieces of
gold, and you may take half of these and also half of the cattle if ever
I live to get them back out of the keeping of the king."

"Never mind about the money, and we will speak of the cattle
afterwards," I said. "I understand that you wish to send your daughter
and your little grandson out of danger, and I think you wise, very wise.
When once the advance begins, if there is an advance, who knows what may
happen? War is a rough game, Magepa. It is not the custom of you black
people to spare women and children, and there will be Zulus fighting on
our side as well as on yours; do you understand?"

"_Ow!_ I understand, Macumazahn. I have known the face of war and seen
many a little one like my grandson Sinala assegaied upon his mother's
back."

"Very good. But if I do this for you, you must do something for me. Say,
Magepa, does Cetewayo _really_ mean to fight, and if so, how? Oh yes, I
know all you have been telling me, but I want not words, but truth from
the heart."

"You ask secrets," said the old fellow, peering about him into the
gathering gloom. "Still, 'a spear for a spear and a shield for a
shield,' as our saying runs. I have spoken no lie. The king _does_ mean
to fight, not because he wants to, but because the regiments swear that
they will wash their assegais, they who have never seen blood since that
battle of the Tugela in which we two played a part; and if he will not
suffer it, well, there are more of his race! Also he means to fight
thus," and he gave me some very useful information; that is, information
which would have been useful if those in authority had deigned to pay
any attention to it when I passed it on.

Just as he finished speaking I thought that I heard a sound in the dense
green bush behind us. It reminded me of the noise a man makes when he
tries to stifle a cough, and frightened me. For if we had been overheard
by a spy, Magepa was as good as dead, and the sooner I was across the
river the better.

"What's that?" I asked.

"A bush buck, Macumazahn. There are lots of them about here."

Not being satisfied, though it is true that buck do cough like this, I
turned my horse to the bush, seeking an opening. Thereon something
crashed away and vanished into the long grass. In those shadows, of
course, I could not see what it was, but such light as remained glinted
on what might have been the polished tip of the horn of an antelope
or--an assegai.

"I told you it was a buck, Macumazahn," said Magepa. "Still, if you
smell danger, let us come away from the bush, though the orders are that
no white man is to be touched as yet."

Then, while we walked on towards the ford, he set out with great detail,
as Kaffirs do, the exact arrangements that he proposed to make for the
handing over of his daughter and her child into my care. I remember that
I asked him why he would not send her on the following morning, instead
of two mornings later. He answered because he expected an outpost of
scouts from one of the regiments at his kraal that night, who would
probably remain there over the morrow and perhaps longer. While they
were in the place it would be difficult for him to send away Gita and
her son without exciting suspicion.

[Illustration]

Near the drift we parted, and I returned to our provisional camp and
wrote a beautiful report of all that I had learned, of which report, I
may add, no one took the slightest notice.

I think it was the morning before that whereon I had arranged to meet
Gita and the little boy at the drift that just about dawn I went down to
the river for a wash. Having taken my dip I climbed on to a flat rock to
dress myself, and looked at the billows of beautiful, pearly mist which
hid the face of the water, and considered--I almost said listened
to--the great silence, for as yet no live thing was stirring.

Ah! if I had known of the hideous sights and sounds that were destined
to be heard ere long in this same haunt of perfect peace! Indeed, at
that moment there came a kind of hint or premonition of them, since
suddenly through the utter quiet broke the blood-curdling wail of a
woman. It was followed by other wails and shouts, distant and yet
distinct. Then the silence fell again.

Now, thought I to myself, that noise might very well have come from old
Magepa's kraal; luckily, however, sounds are deceptive in mist.

Well, the end of it was that I waited there till the sun rose. The first
thing on which its bright beams struck was a mighty column of smoke
rising to heaven from where Magepa's kraal had stood!

I went back to my wagons very sad, so sad that I could scarcely eat my
breakfast. While I walked I wondered hard whether the light had glinted
upon the tip of a buck's horn in that patch of green bush with the
sweet-smelling white flowers a night or two ago. Or had it perchance
fallen upon the point of the assegai of some spy who was watching my
movements! In that event yonder column of smoke and the horrible cries
which preceded it were easy to explain. For had not Magepa and I talked
secrets together, and in Zulu.

On the following morning at the dawn I attended at the drift in the
faint hope that Gita and her boy might arrive there as arranged. But
nobody came, which was not wonderful, seeing that Gita lay dead, stabbed
through and through, as I saw afterwards (she made a good fight for the
child), and that her spirit had gone to wherever go the souls of the
brave-hearted, be they white or black. Only on the farther bank of the
river I saw some Zulu scouts who seemed to know my errand, for they
called to me, asking mockingly where was the pretty woman I had come to
meet?

After that I tried to put the matter out of my head, which indeed was
full enough of other things, since now definite orders had arrived as to
the advance, and with these many troops and officers.

[Illustration: "Then he lifted himself upon one arm, and with the other
saluted"]

It was just then that the Zulus began to fire across the river at such
of our people as they saw upon the bank. At these they took aim, and, as
a result, hit nobody. A raw Kaffir with a rifle, in my experience, is
only dangerous when he aims at nothing, for then the bullet looks after
itself, and may catch you. To put a stop to this nuisance a regiment of
the friendly natives--there may have been several hundred of them--was
directed to cross the river and clear the kloofs and rocks of the Zulu
skirmishers who were hidden among them. I watched them go off in fine
style.

[Illustration]

Towards evening some one told me that our _impi_, as he grandiloquently
called it, was returning victorious. Having at the moment nothing else
to do, I walked down to the river at a point where the water was deep
and the banks were high. Here I climbed to the top of a pile of
boulders, whence with my field-glasses I could sweep a great extent of
plain which stretched away on the Zululand side till at length it merged
into hills and bush.

Presently I saw some of our natives marching homewards in a scattered
and disorganised fashion, but evidently very proud of themselves, for
they were waving their assegais and singing scraps of war-songs. A few
minutes later, a mile or more away, I caught sight of a man running.

Watching him through the glasses I noted three things: first, that he
was tall; secondly, that he ran with extraordinary swiftness; and,
thirdly, that he had something tied upon his back. It was evident,
further, that he had good reason to run, since he was being hunted by a
number of our Kaffirs, of whom more and more continually joined in the
chase. From every side they poured down upon him, trying to cut him off
and kill him, for as they got nearer I could see the assegais which they
threw at him flash in the sunlight.

Very soon I understood that the man was running with a definite object
and to a definite point; he was trying to reach the river. I thought the
sight very pitiful, this one poor creature being hunted to death by so
many. Also I wondered why he did not free himself from the bundle on his
back, and came to the conclusion that he must be a witch-doctor, and
that the bundle contained his precious charms or medicines.

This was while he was yet a long way off, but when he came nearer,
within three or four hundred yards, of a sudden I caught the outline of
his face against a good background, and knew it for that of Magepa.

"My God!" I said to myself, "it is old Magepa the Buck, and the bundle
in the mat will be his grandson, Sinala!"

Yes, even then I felt certain that he was carrying the child upon his
back.

What was I to do? It was impossible for me to cross the river at that
place, and long before I could get round by the ford all would be
finished. I stood up on my rock and shouted to those brutes of Kaffirs
to let the man alone. They were so excited that they did not hear my
words; at least, they swore afterwards that they thought I was
encouraging them to hunt him down.

But Magepa heard me. At that moment he seemed to be failing, but the
sight of me appeared to give him fresh strength. He gathered himself
together and leapt forward at a really surprising speed. Now the river
was not more than three hundred yards away from him, and for the first
two hundred of these he quite outdistanced his pursuers, although they
were most of them young men and comparatively fresh. Then once more his
strength began to fail.

Watching through the glasses I could see that his mouth was wide open,
and that there was red foam upon his lips. The burden on his back was
dragging him down. Once he lifted his hands as though to loose it; then
with a wild gesture let them fall again.

Two of the pursuers who had outpaced the others crept up to him--lank,
lean men of not more than thirty years of age. They had stabbing spears
in their hands, such as are used at close quarters, and these of course
they did not throw. One of them gained a little on the other.

Now Magepa was not more than fifty yards from the bank, with the first
hunter about ten paces behind him and coming up rapidly. Magepa glanced
over his shoulder and saw, then put out his last strength. For forty
yards he went like an arrow, running straight away from his pursuers,
until he was within a few feet of the bank, when he stumbled and fell.

"He's done," I said, and, upon my word, if I had a rifle in my hand I
think I would have stopped one or both of those bloodhounds and taken
the consequences.

[Illustration]

But, no! Just as the first man lifted his broad spear to stab him
through the back on which the bundle lay, Magepa leapt up and wheeled
round to take the thrust in his chest. Evidently he did not wish to be
speared in the back--for a certain reason. He took it sure enough, for
the assegai was wrenched out of the hand of the striker. Still, as he
was reeling backwards, it did not go through Magepa, or perhaps it hit a
bone. He drew out the spear and threw it at the man, wounding him. Then
he staggered on, back and back, to the edge of the little cliff.

It was reached at last. With a cry of "Help me, Macumazahn!" Magepa
turned, and before the other man could spear him, leapt straight into
deep water. He rose. Yes, the brave old fellow rose and struck out for
the other bank, leaving a little line of red behind him.

I rushed, or rather sprang and rolled down to the edge of the stream, to
where a point of shingle ran out into the water. Along this I clambered,
and beyond it up to my middle. Now Magepa was being swept past me. I
caught his outstretched hand and pulled him ashore.

"The boy!" he gasped; "the boy! Is he dead?"

I severed the lashings of the mat that had cut right into the old
fellow's shoulders. Inside of it was little Sinala, spluttering out
water, but very evidently alive and unhurt, for presently he set up a
yell.

"No," I said, "he lives, and will live."

"Then all is well, Macumazahn." (_A pause._) "It _was_ a spy in the
bush, not a buck. He overheard our talk. The king's slayers came. Gita
held the door of the hut while I took the child, cut a hole through the
straw with my assegai, and crept out at the back. She was full of spears
before she died, but I got away with the boy. Till your Kaffirs found me
I lay hid in the bush, hoping to escape to Natal. Then I ran for the
river, and saw you on the further bank. _I_ might have got away, but
that child is heavy." (_A pause._) "Give him food, Macumazahn, he must
be hungry," (_A pause._) "Farewell. That was a good saying of yours--the
swift runner is outrun at last. Ah! yet I did not run in vain."
(_Another pause, the last._) Then he lifted himself upon one arm and
with the other saluted, first the boy Sinala and next me, muttering,
"Remember your promise, Macumazahn."

       *       *       *       *       *

"That is how Magepa the Buck died. I never saw any one carrying weight
who could run quite so well as he," and Quatermain turned his head away
as though the memory of this incident affected him somewhat.

"What became of the child Sinala?" I asked presently.

"Oh, I sent him to an institution in Natal, and afterwards was able to
get some of his property back for him. I believe that he is being
trained as an interpreter."

[Illustration]

FOOTNOTE:

[2] For this story see the book named "Child of Storm," by H. Rider
Haggard.



[Illustration]



TRUE SPARTAN HEARTS

BY

BEATRICE HARRADEN

_Painting and Decorations by_ EDMUND DULAC


IN times of war the Spartan women used to say to their husbands and
sons, "Return with your shield, or on it," meaning that they must either
conquer or die. There was no affection or indulgence shown towards the
warriors who survived a defeat; for loyalty to the State was thought of
more account than personal loss, and he who had not died striking his
last blow for Sparta, was deemed unworthy of remembrance, and could
expect no mercy from those who had loved him and sent him to the
battlefield "to conquer or die."

So this was how the Spartans felt about their warriors; and you can
imagine their indignation as well as their dismay when, in the year 371
B.C., news reached Sparta that their army had been defeated at the
battle of Leuctra by the Boeotians, a rival Grecian State, and that
three hundred men had saved their lives in flight. The news was brought
at the moment when some great festival was being celebrated in the city.
The _Ephors_ commanded the names of the slain to be made known to their
relatives, and the women were forbidden to mourn. But the mother of
Eucrates could not at first hide her grief, and her neighbours said
among themselves:

"Why should she be sorrowful? Her son has died bravely. If he had
disgraced himself by flight, then only would she have the right to
mourn."

The old man Phidon came in to see her, and found her spinning, busily
engaged at her work, it is true, but with tears in her saddened eyes. He
was a very stern old man, a Spartan every inch of him, and he spoke
harshly to poor Ione.

"Ione," he said, "not one single tear should course down your cheeks,
not one single pang of grief should assail your heart. I it is who
should weep. I it is who should mourn. For Callias, my grandson, is not
amongst the slain. Unlike your brave son Eucrates, my Callias has not
died at his post of duty. He lives, and by living he has brought
dishonour and shame on his family. How can I meet him? What can I say to
him? Nay, I will not look upon his face. I will not vouchsafe one word
of greeting to him. His father was the glory of my life, but he is the
soul of its shame. The gods have been cruel to me in my old age; but
they have been merciful to you, Ione. For your son, death with honour.
For my Callias, life with dishonour. His father won the crown of wild
olive in the Olympic games, and earned the right of fighting by the
king's side, and died there; and I was proud of him. But woe is me that
I cannot be proud of Callias."

And, Spartan mother as she truly was, Ione knew well that here was a
grief far greater than her own loss of her beloved son. She brushed her
last tear aside, and tried to comfort old Phidon, whom she had known all
her life. Her son Eucrates and this very Callias had been friends
together ever since they were children; and in the days gone by, Phidon
and Ione's father had fought side by side for Sparta.

"May be, Phidon," she said, "the gods have spared Callias and his
comrades, so that they may yet serve Sparta, and help her to triumph
over her enemies."

But he shook his head, and would hear no word of comfort, though, as the
days went by, it seemed to ease his stern spirit to sit beside her, and
watch her at her work. And then she would speak to him of Callias, and
urge him not to be over hard on the lad when he returned.

"You must pardon him, Phidon," she said. "Perchance he will live to do
great things for Sparta."

But the old man said proudly: "Nay, Ione, never a word will I speak to
Callias again."

And it was in vain that Ione pleaded for the friend of Eucrates, always
imploring the old man to believe that the gods in their wisdom had
preserved Callias for some splendid act of service and sacrifice yet to
come.

Full of these thoughts, and haunted by Phidon's unyielding severity, she
had a strange dream one night. She dreamed that King Agesilaus was
willing to pardon all those three hundred soldiers who had fled from the
field of Leuctra; but that Phidon interposed, and standing in the Public
Assembly, gave his vote against the pardon.

"My own grandson is one of the survivors," he cried. "Sparta may pardon
him, but _I_ never will."

[Illustration: True Spartan Hearts

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Edmund Dulac_]

The next day she told her dream to Phidon, and described to him how with
her mind's eye she had seen Callias standing lonely and forsaken, the
only one of the three hundred survivors who had been spurned and
unforgiven. His loneliness stabbed her to her heart, more even than the
loss of her son; and because there was no one else, she had been
impelled to stand by his side, to greet him, to encourage him, to
reassure him. And just as he lifted his head, bowed in grief and shame,
she awoke. When Phidon had heard her dream-story, his stern heart was
softened.

"I will not turn from Callias," he said. "It may be that you are right,
Ione. It may be that the gods will yet give him some great and glorious
chance. I will steel my heart to receive him."

So Ione triumphed at last. And truly her dream would seem to have been
some kind of divination, for, two or three days afterwards, a decree was
proposed by the king, and passed in the Assembly, to the effect that all
those who had fled from the field of Leuctra were to be pardoned and
received home without dishonour.

Ordinarily all survivors of a defeat were subject to penalties of civil
offence, and so this was quite an unusual proceeding; but no doubt it
was thought dangerous to take stern measures against such a large number
of Spartan citizens. Well, whatever the reason was, there were many glad
hearts in Sparta that day, and old Phidon himself owned in secret to
Ione that he longed to see Callias once more.

"For I must needs forgive him wholeheartedly," he said, "since Sparta
has forgiven him; but with my last breath I would tell you and all the
world that I would far, far rather he had fallen by the side of the
brave Eucrates. That would have been my glory."

As soon as news had come of the defeat of the Spartan army, the whole
remaining military force of Sparta was sent to the rescue, and after
some time returned to Sparta, bringing back the survivors from the
disastrous field of Leuctra.

Then Spartan hearts were softened, and mothers, wives, and sisters stood
waiting to greet those whom the gods had spared for further service. But
Ione sat at home spinning. There were no tears in her eyes now, and her
countenance was lit up by a calm pride. She had learnt to be glad that
she had no one to meet that day.

Suddenly the door opened, and Phidon came in. His manner was strangely
excited.

"Callias is not amongst us," he cried. "I have asked for him, and no one
knows. Could there have been some mistake, I wonder? Is it possible
that----"

At that moment there came a loud knock at the door, and Ione opened it
to Timotheus, a neighbour's son.

"Greetings to the mother of Eucrates," he said, as he stood before Ione.
"I am from Leuctra. I saw Eucrates fighting in the thickest of the fray.
I saw him fall; and there fell another by his side, fighting as
gallantly as he--his comrade in death as well as in life."

"And who was it that died with my brave son?" asked Ione, whose hands
were pressed together deep into her breast, and whose face was ashen,
though tearless.

"It was Callias," answered the young man. "Farewell, honoured mother of
Eucrates. I must go and seek Phidon to tell him."

But Phidon rose to his full height, and there was a smile of triumph on
his face and a new life in his bearing.

"Phidon has heard the news," he said, "and he thanks the gods for this
crowning mercy. For though in his inmost heart he would fain have seen
the face of his grandson once more, there was something dearer to him
than the face of Callias--it was the honour of Callias."

Then, turning to Ione, he said: "Now we can think of them together, and
share our pride in them, Ione."

For one fleeting moment Ione saw a vision of her young, fair son falling
before the foe, but her voice never faltered as she said: "Yes, we can
share our pride in them."

That was the true Spartan tribute to the heroes of Leuctra.

       *       *       *       *       *

You see, the Spartans would not admit of despair in their lives; they
believed that while there was yet strength in the body, there must needs
be hope in the heart that the victory would be won. And so it was the
duty of a true Spartan to fight and conquer and live, or to die,
striving to conquer to the very last, with no thought of any possibility
of failure.

What do you think about this grand old Spartan code of honour? Do you
not think that we ourselves, each in our own way, young and old, man and
woman, boy and girl, may find something helpful in it to bring to the
service of our country?

[Illustration



[Illustration]



BIG STEAMERS

BY RUDYARD KIPLING

_Painting and Drawings by_ NORMAN WILKINSON, R.I.


    "OH, where are you going to, all you Big Steamers,
      With England's own coal, up and down the salt seas?"
    "We are going to fetch you your bread and your butter,
      Your beef, pork, and mutton, eggs, apples, and cheese."

    "And where will you fetch it from, all you Big Steamers,
      And where shall I write you when you are away?"
    "We fetch it from Melbourne, Quebec, and Vancouver,
      Address us at Hobart, Hong-kong, and Bombay."

[Illustration]

    "But if anything happened to all you Big Steamers,
      And suppose you were wrecked up and down the salt sea?"
    "Why, you'd have no coffee or bacon for breakfast,
      And you'd have no muffins or toast for your tea."

    "Then I'll pray for fine weather for all you Big Steamers,
      For little blue billows and breezes so soft."
    "Oh, billows and breezes don't bother Big Steamers,
      For we're iron below and steel-rigging aloft."

    "Then I'll build a new lighthouse for all you Big Steamers,
      With plenty wise pilots to pilot you through."
    "Oh, the Channel's as bright as a ball-room already,
      And pilots are thicker than pilchards at Looe."

    "Then what can I do for you, all you Big Steamers,
      Oh, what can I do for your comfort and good?"
    "Send out your big warships to watch your big waters,
      That no one may stop us from bringing you food.

    "_For the bread that you eat and the biscuits you nibble,
      The sweets that you suck and the joints that you carve,
    They are brought to you daily by all us Big Steamers,
      And if any one hinders our coming you'll starve!_"

    Copyright in the U.S.A. by Rudyard Kipling.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: Big Steamers

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Norman Wilkinson, R.I._



[Illustration]



A TRUE STORY FROM CAMP

BY THE BISHOP OF LONDON

_Drawings by_ JOSEPH SIMPSON, R.B.A.


YOU boys and girls must picture a huge common, and four groups of
khaki-clad soldiers standing at attention in different parts of it. They
are about to be reviewed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Home Forces.

The men had given up a great deal to come and join the Territorial
Forces, but it had not yet thoroughly dawned on them any more than on
the rest of England, how great was the crisis, and none of the
battalions had come out in sufficient strength to be sent out on foreign
service.

The inspection by the great General took a long time, and when the order
came for rank after rank to lie down, they did so with obvious relief.
At last the inspection was over, and all the battalions were asked to
converge on one point. At this point a waggon was placed, and all the
five thousand men lay down round it, the Generals and their staffs lying
behind it. It was a fine sight from the waggon to see those five
thousand fine fellows lying there in the light of the setting sun, but
was it possible to rouse them to see the country's urgent need?

I began by painting the beauty and the glory of England, the loveliest
place in the world, for you may go all over the world, children, and you
will never find anything so glorious or welcome on your return as the
white cliffs of Dover, and the railway run through the hop gardens of
Kent.

[Illustration]

But what touched them most was the thought of what England stood for in
the life of the world. It always has been, and always will be, the _Home
of Freedom_. Let a slave once reach a British man-of-war--he is free.
Britannia's daughters are rallying to her now because she has given
them _Freedom_, for they see that she is the champion in this war of
the Freedom of the World against a universal Tyranny.

Then I turned to what they themselves owed to England, their homes,
their faith, their security to work, their happy friendships, and their
love of wife, mother, and children. What they had not realised up to now
was that _all this was in deadly peril for the first time for a hundred
years_!

One mistake of our Fleets, one crushing defeat in France, and the foe
would be upon us; the fate of Belgium would be the fate of England!

What more glorious than to follow the example of those who had fought
and died for England?

    "Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence
     Who goes to join the men of Agincourt."

[Illustration]

In spite of the presence of the Generals a great cheer broke from the
five thousand men when I said, "I would rather die than see England a
German province"; but finding that they were allowed to cheer, as deep a
cheer followed the statement that, if it came to the last Waterloo, it
was far better to slip across the silver streak and fight it on the
other side than let an invaders foot _for the first time for a thousand
years_ stain our native land.

In the evening all the four battalions present volunteered for foreign
service, and as four more at the neighbouring Camp had volunteered the
day before in answer to a similar appeal, eight battalions were added to
the fighting strength abroad of the British Army.



[Illustration]



THE EBONY BOX

BY A. E. W. MASON

_Painting and Drawings_ by W. B. WOLLEN, R.I.

_Copyright in the U.S.A. by A. E. W. Mason_


"NO, no," said Colonel von Altrock abruptly. "It is not always true."

The conversation died away at once, and every one about that dinner
table in the Rue St. Florentin looked at him expectantly. He played
nervously with the stem of his wineglass for a few moments, as though
the complete silence distressed him. Then he resumed with a more
diffident air:

"War no doubt inspires noble actions and brings out great qualities in
men from whom you expected nothing. But there is another side to it
which becomes apparent, not at once, but after a few months of
campaigning. Your nerves get overstrained, fatigue and danger tell their
tale. You lose your manners, sometimes you degenerate into a brute. I
happen to know. Thirty years have passed since the siege of Paris, yet
even to-day there is no part of my life which I regret so much as the
hours between eleven and twelve o'clock of Christmas night in the year
'seventy. I will tell you about it if you like, although the story may
make us late for the opera."

"It will not matter if we are a little late," said his hostess, the
Baroness Hammerstein, and her guests agreed with her.

"It is permitted to smoke?" asked the Colonel. For a moment the flame of
a match lit up and exaggerated the hollows and the lines upon his lean,
rugged face. Then, drawing in his chair to the table, he told his story.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was a lieutenant of the fifth company of the second battalion of the
103rd Regiment, which belonged to the 23rd Infantry Division. It is as
well to be exact. That division was part of the 12th Army Corps under
the Crown Prince of Saxony, and in the month of December formed the
south-eastern segment of our circle about Paris. On Christmas night I
happened to be on duty at a forepost in advance of Noisy-le-Grand. The
Centigrade thermometer was down to twelve degrees below zero, and our
little wooden hut with the sloping roof, which served us at once as
kitchen, mess-room, and dormitory, seemed to us all a comfortable
shelter. Outside its door the country glimmered away into darkness, a
great white silent plain of snow. Inside, the camp-bedsteads were neatly
ranged along the wall where the roof was lowest. A long table covered
with a white cloth--for we were luxurious on Christmas night--occupied
the middle of the floor; in a corner stood a fine big barrel of Bavarian
beer which had arrived that morning as a Christmas present from my
mother at Leipzig. We were none of us anxious to turn out into the
bitter cold, I can tell you. But we were not colonels in those days, and
while the Hauptmann was proposing my mother's health the door was thrust
open and an orderly muffled up to the eyes stood on the threshold at the
salute.

"The Herr Oberst wishes to see the Herr Lieutenant von Altrock," said
he, and before I had time even to grumble he turned on his heels and
marched away.

I took down my great-coat, drew the cape over my head, and went out of
the hut. There was no wind, nor was the snow falling, but the cold was
terrible, and to me who had come straight from the noise of my
companions the night seemed unnaturally still. I plodded away through
the darkness. Behind me in the hut the Hauptmann struck up a song, and
the words came to me quite clearly and very plaintively across the snow:

    Ich hatte einen Kamaraden
    Einen besseren findest du nicht.

I wondered whether in the morning, like that comrade, I should be a man
to be mentioned in the past tense. For more than once a sentinel had
been found frozen dead at his post, and I foresaw a long night's work
before me. My Colonel had acquired a habit of choosing me for special
services, and indeed to his kindness in this respect I owed my
commission.

[Illustration]

I found him sitting at a little table drawn close to the fire in a bare,
dimly-lighted room. A lamp stood on the table, and he was peering at a
crumpled scrap of paper and smoothing out its creases. So engrossed was
he, indeed, in his scrutiny that it was some minutes before he raised
his head and saw me waiting for his commands.

"Lieutenant von Altrock," he said, "you must ride to Raincy."

Raincy was only five miles distant, as the crow flies. Yes, but the
French had made a sortie on the 21st, they had pushed back our lines,
and they now held Ville Evrart and Maison Blanche between Raincy and
Noisy-le-Grand. I should have to make a circuit; my five miles became
ten. I did not like the prospect at all. I liked it still less when the
Colonel added:

"You must be careful. More than one German soldier has of late been
killed upon that road. There are _francs-tireurs_ about. And you _must_
reach Raincy."

It was a verbal message which he gave me, and I was to deliver it in
person to the commandant of the battery at Raincy.

"There is a horse ready for you at the stables," said the Colonel, and
with a nod he turned again to his scrap of paper. I saluted and walked
to the door. As my hand was on the knob he called me back.

"What do you make of it?" he asked, holding the paper out to me. "It was
picked out of the Marne in a sealed wine-bottle."

I took the paper, and saw that a single sentence was written upon it in
a round and laborious hand with the words misspelt. The meaning of the
sentence seemed simple enough. It was apparently a message from a M.
Bonnet to his son in the Mobiles at Paris, and it stated that the big
black cat had had five kittens.

"What do you make of it?" repeated the Colonel.

"Why, that M. Bonnet's black cat has kittens," said I.

I handed the paper back. The Colonel looked at it again, shrugged his
shoulders, and laughed.

"Well, after all, perhaps it does mean no more than that," said he.

But for the Colonel's suspicions I should not have given another thought
to that misspelt scrawl. M. Bonnet was probably some little peasant
engrossed in domestic affairs, who thought that no message could be more
consoling to his son locked up in Paris than this great news about the
black cat.

[Illustration]

The wildest rumours were flying about our camp at that time, as I think
will always happen when you have a large body of men living under a
great strain of cold and privation and peril. They perplexed the
seasoned officers and they were readily swallowed by the youngsters, of
whom I was one. Now, this scrap of paper happened to fit in with the
rumour which most of all exercised our imaginations.

It was known that in spite of all our precautions news was continually
leaking into Paris which we did not think it good for the Parisians to
have. On that very Christmas Day they already knew that General
Faidherbe, at Pont Noyelles, had repulsed a portion of our first army
under General Manteuffel. How did they know? We were not satisfied that
pigeons and balloons completely explained the mystery. No, we believed
that the news passed somewhere through our lines on the south-east of
Paris--news in cipher which was passed on and on to a house close to our
lines, whence, as occasion served, it was carried into Paris.

That was the rumour. There may have been truth in it, or it may have
been entirely false. But, at all events, it had just the necessary
element of fancy to appeal to the imagination of a very young man, and
as I walked to the stables and mounted the horse which the Colonel had
lent me, I kept wondering whether this message, so simple in appearance,
had travelled so, and was covering its last stage between the
undiscovered château and Paris in the sealed wine-bottle. I tried to
make out what the black cat stood for in the cipher, and whose identity
was concealed under the pseudonym of M. Bonnet. So I rode down the slope
of Noisy-le-Grand.

But at the bottom of the slope these speculations passed entirely from
my mind. In front, hidden away in the darkness, lay the dangers of Ville
Evrart and Maison Blanche. German soldiers had ridden along this path
and had not returned; the _francs-tireurs_ were abroad. Yet I must reach
Raincy. Moreover, in my own mind, I was equally convinced that I must
return. I saw the little beds against the wall of the hut under the
sloping roof. I rode warily, determined to sleep in one of them that
night, determined to keep my life if it could be kept.

I crossed the Marne and turned off the road into a forest path. Ville
Evrart with its French garrison lay now upon my left behind the screen
of trees. Fortunately there was no moon that night and a mist hung in
the air. The snow, too, deadened the sound of my horse's hoofs. But I
rode, nevertheless, very gently and with every sense alert. Each moment
I expected the challenge of a sentinel in French.

[Illustration]

I came to the end of the wood and rode on to Chesnay. Here the country
was more open, and I had passed Ville Evrart. But I did not feel any
greater security. I was possessed with a sort of rage to get my business
done and live--yes, at all costs _live_. A mile beyond Chesnay I came to
cross-roads, and within the angle which the two roads made a little
cabin stood upon a plot of grass. I was in doubt which road to take. The
cabin was all dark, and riding up to the door I hammered upon it with
the butt of my pistol. It was not immediately opened. There must indeed
have been some delay, since the inmates were evidently in bed. But I was
not in any mood to show consideration. I wanted to get on--to get on and
live. A little window was within my reach. I dashed the butt of the
pistol violently through the glass.

[Illustration]

"Will that waken you, eh?" I cried, and almost before I had finished I
heard a shuffling footstep in the passage and the door was opened. A
poor old peasant-woman, crippled with rheumatism, stood in the doorway
shading a lighted candle with a gnarled, trembling hand. In her haste to
obey she had merely thrown a petticoat over the shoulders of her
nightdress, and there she stood with bare feet, shivering in the cold,
an old bent woman of eighty, and apologised.

"I am sorry, monsieur," she said meekly. "But I cannot move as quickly
as I could when I was young. How can I serve monsieur?"

Not a word of reproach about her broken window. You would think that the
hardest man must have felt some remorse. I merely broke in upon her
apologies with a rough demand for information.

"The road upon your right leads to Chelles, monsieur," she answered.
"That upon your left to Raincy."

I rode off without another word. It is not a pretty description which I
am giving to you, but it is a true one. That is my regret, it is a true
one. I forgot that old peasant-woman the moment I had passed the cabin.
I thought only of the long avenues of trees which stretched across that
flat country, and which could hide whole companies of _francs-tireurs_.
I strained my eyes forwards. I listened for the sound of voices. But the
first voice which I heard spoke in my own tongue.

It was the voice of a sentry on the outposts of Raincy, and I could have
climbed down from my saddle and hugged him to my heart. Instead, I sat
impassively in my saddle and gave him the countersign. I was conducted
to the quarters of the commandant of artillery and I delivered my
message.

"You have come quickly," he said. "What road did you take?"

"That of Chesnay and Gagny."

The commandant looked queerly at me.

"Did you?" said he. "You are lucky. You will return by Montfermeil and
Chelles, Lieutenant von Altrock, and I will send an escort with you.
Apparently we are better informed at Raincy than you at
Noisy-le-Grand."

"I knew there was danger, sir," I replied.

[Illustration]

A regiment of dragoons was quartered at Raincy, and from it two privates
and a corporal were given me for escort. In the company of these men I
started back by the longer road in the rear of our lines. And it was a
quarter to ten when I started. For I noticed the time of a clock in the
commandant's quarters. I should think that it must have taken
three-quarters of an hour to reach Montfermeil, for the snow was deep
here and the mist very thick. Beyond Montfermeil, however, we came to
higher ground; there were fewer drifts of snow, and the night began to
clear, so that we made better going. We were now, of course, behind our
lines, and the only risk we ran was that a few peasants armed with
rifles from a battlefield or a small band of _francs-tireurs_ might be
lurking on the chance of picking off a straggler. But that risk was not
very great now that there were four of us. I rode therefore with an
easier mind, and the first thing which entered my thoughts was--what do
you think? The old peasant-woman's cabin with the broken window? Not a
bit of it. No, it was M. Bonnet's black cat. Had M. Bonnet's cat five
kittens? Or was that intended to inform the people in Paris how many
companies of recruits had joined one of the French armies still in the
field--say, General Faidherbe's, at Bapaume, and so to keep up their
spirits and prolong the siege? I was still puzzling over this problem
when in a most solitary place I came suddenly upon a château with
lighted windows. This was the Château Villetaneuse. I reined in my horse
and stopped. My escort halted behind me. It was, after all, an
astonishing sight. There were many châteaux about Paris then, as there
are now, but not one that I had ever come across was inhabited by more
than a caretaker. The owners had long since fled. Breached walls,
trampled gardens, gaping roofs, and silence and desertion--that is what
we meant when we spoke of a château near Paris in those days. But here
was one with lighted windows on the first and second stories staring out
calmly on the snow as though never a Prussian soldier had crossed the
Rhine. A thick clump of trees sheltered it behind, and it faced the
eastern side of the long ridge of Mont Guichet, along the foot of which
I rode--the side farthest from Paris. From the spot where I and my
escort had halted an open park stretched level to the door. The house
had, no doubt, a very homelike look on that cold night. It should have
spoken to me, no doubt, of the well-ordered family life and the gentle
occupations of women. But I was thinking of M. Bonnet's black cat. Was
this solitary château the undiscovered last station on the underground
road through which the news passed into Paris? If not, why was it still
inhabited? Why did the lights blaze out upon the snow so late?

[Illustration: She stood and swung the lantern slowly from side to side.

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by W. B. Wollen, R.I._]

I commanded my escort to be silent. We rode across the park, and
half-way to the door we came upon a wire fence and a gate. There we
dismounted, and walked our horses. We tethered them to a tree about
twenty yards from the house. I ordered one of my dragoons to go round
the house, and watch any door which he might find at the back. I told
the other two to stay where they were, and I advanced alone to the
steps, but before I had reached them the front door was thrown open, and
a girl with a lantern in her hand came out.

She held the lantern high above her head and peered forward, so that the
light fell full upon her hair, her face, and dress. She was a tall girl
and slight of figure, with big, dark eyes, and a face pretty and made
for laughter. It was very pale now, however, and the brows were drawn
together in a frown. She wore a white evening frock, which glistened in
the lantern light, and over her bare shoulders she had flung a heavy
black military cloak. So she stood and swung the lantern slowly from
side to side as she stared into the darkness, while the lights and
shadows chased each other swiftly across her white frock, her anxious
face, and the waves of her fair hair.

"Whom do you expect at this hour, mademoiselle?" I asked.

I was quite close to her, but she had not seen me, for I stood at the
bottom of the steps, and she was looking out over my head. Yet she did
not start or utter any cry. Only the lantern rattled in her hand. Then
she stood quite still for a moment or two, and afterwards lowered her
arm until the light shone upon me.

[Illustration]

"You are Prussian?" she said.

"A lieutenant of foot," I answered. "You have nothing to fear."

"I am not afraid," she replied quietly.

"Whom do you expect?"

"No one," she replied. "I thought that I heard the rattle of iron as
though a horse moved and a stirrup rang. It is lonely here since our
neighbours have fled. I came out to see."

"The lantern then, was not a signal, mademoiselle?" I asked.

She looked at me in perplexity, and certainly the little piece of
acting, I thought, was very well done.

"A signal?" she repeated. "To whom?"

"To some man hiding in the woods of Mont Guichet, a signal to him that
he may come and fetch the news for Paris which has lately--very
lately--been brought to the house."

She bent forward and peered down at me, drawing the cloak closer about
her neck.

"You are under some strange mistake, monsieur," she said. "No news for
Paris has been brought to this house by any one."

"Indeed?" I answered. "And is that so?" Then I stretched out my hand and
said triumphantly: "You will tell me perhaps that the cloak upon your
shoulders is a woman's cloak?"

And she laughed! It was humiliating; it is always humiliating to a young
man not to be taken seriously, isn't it? There was I thinking that I had
fairly cross-examined her into a trap, and she laughed indulgently. And
she explained indulgently, too.

"The cloak I am wearing belongs to a wounded French officer who was
taken prisoner and released upon parole. He is now in our house."

"Then I think I will make his acquaintance," I said, and over my
shoulder I called to the corporal. As he advanced to my side, a look of
alarm came into the girl's face.

"You are not alone," she said, and suddenly her face became wistful and
her voice began to plead. "You have not come for him? He has done no
harm. He could not, even if he would. And he would not, for he has given
his parole. Oh, you are not going to take him away?"

"That we shall see, mademoiselle."

[Illustration]

I left one dragoon at the door. I ordered the corporal to wait in the
hall, and I followed the girl up the stairs to the first floor. All her
pride had gone; she led the way with a submission of manner which seemed
to me only a fresh effort to quiet my suspicions. But they were not
quieted. I distrusted her; I believed that I had under my fingers the
proof of that rumour which flew about our camp. She stopped at a door,
and as she turned the handle she said:

"This is my own room, monsieur. We all use it now, for it is warmer than
the others, and all our servants but one have fled."

It was a pretty room, and cheery enough to one who came into it from the
darkness and the snow. A piano stood open in a corner with a rug thrown
upon it to protect the strings from the cold; books lay upon the tables,
heavy curtains were drawn close over the windows, there were cushioned
sofas and deep arm-chairs, and a good fire of logs blazed upon the
hearth. These details I took in at once. Then I looked at the occupants.
A young man lay stretched upon a sofa close to the fire with a wrap
covering his legs. The wrap was raised by a cradle to keep off its
weight. His face must have been, I think, unusually handsome when he had
his health; at the moment it was so worn and pale, and the eyes were so
sunk, that all its beauty had gone. The pallor was accentuated by a
small black moustache he wore and his black hair. He lay with his head
supported upon a pillow, and was playing a game of chess with an old
lady who sat at a little table by his side. I advanced to the fire and
warmed my hands at it.

[Illustration]

"You, sir, are the wounded officer on parole?" I said in French. The
officer bowed.

"And you, madame?" I asked of the old lady. The sight of my uniform
seemed to have paralysed her with terror. "Come, come, madame," I
exclaimed impatiently; "it is a simple question."

"Monsieur, you frighten her," said the young lady. "It is my aunt, the
Baroness Granville."

"You tell me nothing of yourself," I said to her, and she looked at me
in surprise.

"Since you have come with an escort to this house I imagined you must
know to whom it belonged. I am Sophie de Villetaneuse."

"Exactly," I replied, as though I had known all along, and had merely
asked the question to see whether she would speak the truth. "Now,
mademoiselle, will you please explain to me how it is that while your
neighbours have fled you remain at your château?"

"It is quite simple," she answered. "My mother is bed-ridden. She could
not be moved. She could not be left alone."

"You will pardon me," said I, "if I test that statement."

The wounded officer raised himself upon his elbow as though to protest,
but Mademoiselle de Villetaneuse put out a hand and checked him. She
showed me a face flushed with anger, but she spoke quite quietly.

"I will myself take you to my mother's room."

I laughed. I said: "That is just what I expected. You will take me to
your mother's room and leave your friends here to make any little
preparations in the way of burning awkward papers which they may think
desirable. Thank you, no! I am not so easily caught."

Mademoiselle Sophie was becoming irritated.

"There are no awkward papers!" she exclaimed.

"That statement, too, I shall put to the test."

I went to the door, and standing so that I could still keep an eye upon
the room, I called the corporal.

"You will search the house thoroughly," I said, "and quickly. Bring me
word how many people you find in it. You, mademoiselle, will remain in
the room with us."

[Illustration]

She shrugged her shoulders as I closed the door and came back into the
room.

"You were wounded, monsieur," I said to the Frenchman. "Where?"

"In the sortie on Le Bourget."

"And you came here the moment you were released on your parole?"

The wounded officer turned with a smile to Mademoiselle Sophie.

"Yes, for here live my best friends."

He took her hand, and with a Frenchman's grace he raised it to his lips
and kissed it. And I was suddenly made acquainted with the relationship
in which these two, youth and maid, stood to one another. Mademoiselle
Sophie had cried out on the steps against the possibility that I might
have come to claim my prisoner. But though she spoke no word, she was
still more explicit now. With the officer that caress was plainly no
more than a pretty way of saying thanks; it had the look of a habit, it
was so neatly given, and he gave it without carelessness, it is true,
but without warmth. But she received it very differently. He did not
see, because his head was bent above her hand, but I did.

I saw the look of pain in her face, the slight contraction of her
shoulders and arms, as if to meet a blow. The kiss hurt her--no, not the
kiss, but the finished grace with which it was given, the proof, in a
word, that it was a way of saying "Thanks"--and nothing more. Here was a
woman who loved and a man who did not love, and the woman knew.

I resumed my questions:

"Your doctor, monsieur, is in the house?"

"At this hour? No."

"Ah. That is a pity."

The young man lifted his head from his pillow and looked me over from
head to foot with a stare of disdain.

"I do not quite understand. You doubt my word, monsieur!"

"Why not?" I asked sharply.

[Illustration: A Spell for a Fairy

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Claude A. Shepperson, A.R.W.S._]

It was quite possible that the cradle, this rug across his legs, the
pillow, were all pretences. This young officer might very well have
brought in a cipher message to the Château Villetaneuse. Mademoiselle
Sophie might very well have waved her lantern at the door to summon a
fresh messenger.

"No; why should I not doubt your word?" I repeated.

He turned his face to the old lady. "It is your move, Baronne," he said,
and she placed the piece she held upon a square of the board.
Mademoiselle Sophie took her stand by the table between the players, and
the game went on just as though there were no intruder in the room. It
was uncomfortable for me. I shifted my feet. I tried to appear at my
ease; finally I sat down in a chair. They took no notice of me whatever.
I was very glad when at last the corporal opened the door. He had
searched the house--he had found no one but Madame de Villetaneuse and
an old servant who was watching by her bed.

"Very well," said I, and the corporal returned to the hall.

Mademoiselle Sophie moved away from the chess-table. She came and stood
opposite to me, and though her face was still, her eyes were hard with
anger.

"And now perhaps you will tell me to what I owe your visit?" she said.

"Certainly," I returned. I fixed my eyes on her, and I said slowly, "I
have come to ask for more news of M. Bonnet's black cat."

Mademoiselle Sophie stared as if she was not sure whether I was mad or
drunk, but was very sure I was one or the other. The young Frenchman
started upon his couch, with the veins swelling upon his forehead and a
flushed face.

"This is an insult," he cried savagely, and no less savagely I answered
him.

"Hold your tongue!" I cried. "You forget too often that though you are
on parole you are still a prisoner."

He fell back upon the sofa with a groan of pain, and the girl hurried to
his side.

[Illustration]

Meanwhile I had been looking about the room for a box or a case where
the cipher messages might be hid. I saw nothing of the kind. Of course
they might be hidden between the pages of a book. I went from table to
table, taking them by the boards and shaking the leaves. Not a scrap of
paper tumbled out. There was another door in the room besides that which
led on to the landing.

"Mademoiselle, what room is that?" I asked.

"My bedroom," she answered simply, and with a gesture full of dignity
she threw open the door.

I carried the mud and snow and the grime of a camp without a scruple of
remorse into that neat and pretty chamber. Mademoiselle Sophie followed
me as I searched wardrobe and drawer and box. At last I came to one
drawer in her dressing-table which was locked. I looked suddenly at the
young lady. She was watching me out of the corners of her eyes with a
peculiar intentness.

"Open that drawer, mademoiselle," I said.

"It contains only some private things."

"Open that drawer or I burst it open."

"No," she cried, as I jerked the handle. "I will open it."

[Illustration]

She fetched the key out of another drawer which was unlocked, and fitted
it into the lock of the dressing-table. And all the while I saw that she
was watching me. She meant to play me some trick, I was certain. So I
watched, too, and I did well to watch. She turned the key, opened the
drawer, and then snatched out something with extraordinary rapidity and
ran as hard as she could to the door--not the door through which we had
entered, but a second door which gave on to the passage. She ran very
fast and she ran very lightly, and she did not stumble over a chair as I
did in pursuit of her. But she had to unlatch the door and pull it open.
I caught her up and closed my arms about her. It was a little carved
ebony box which she held, the very thing for which I searched.

"I thought so," I cried, with a laugh. "Drop the box, mademoiselle. Drop
it on the floor!"

The noise of our struggle had been heard in the next room. The Baroness
rushed through the doorway.

"What has happened?" she cried. "Mon Dieu! you are killing her!"

"Drop that box, mademoiselle!"

And as I spoke she threw it away. She threw it through the doorway; she
tried to throw it over the banisters of the stairs, but my arms were
about hers, and it fell in the passage just beyond the door. I darted
from her and picked it up. When I returned with it she was taking a gold
chain from her neck. At the end of the chain hung a little gold key.
This she held out to me.

"Open it here," she said in a low, eager voice.

The sudden change only increased my suspicions, or rather my conviction,
that I had now the proof which I needed.

"Why, if you are so eager to show me the contents, did you try to throw
it away?" I asked.

"I tried to throw it down into the hall," she answered.

"My corporal would have picked it up."

"Oh, what would that matter?" she exclaimed impatiently. "You would have
opened it in the hall. That was what I wanted. Open it here! At all
events open it here!"

The very urgency of her pleading made me determined to refuse the plea.

"No, you have some other ruse, mademoiselle," said I. "Perhaps you wish
to gain time for your friend in the next room. No, we will return there
and open it comfortably by the fire."

I kept a tight hold upon the box. I shook it. To my delight I felt that
there were papers within it. I carried it back to the fireside and sat
down on a chair. Mademoiselle Sophie followed me close, and as I fixed
the little gold key into the lock she laid her hand very gently upon my
arm.

"I beg you not to unlock that box," she said; "if you do you will bring
upon me a great humiliation and upon yourself much remorse. There is
nothing there which concerns you. There are just my little secrets. A
girl may have secrets, monsieur, which are sacred to her."

She was standing quite close to me, and her back was towards the French
officer and her aunt. They could not see her face, and they could hardly
have heard more than a word here and there of what she said. I answered
her only by turning the key in the lock. She took her hand from my arm
and laid it on the lid to hinder me from opening it.

"I wore the key on a chain about my neck, monsieur," she whispered.
"Does that teach you nothing? Even though you are young, does it teach
you nothing? I said that if you unlocked that box you would cause me
great humiliation, thinking that would be enough to stop you. But I see
I must tell you more. Read the letters, monsieur, question me about
them, and you will make my life a very lonely one. I think so. I think
you will destroy my chance of happiness. You would not wish that,
monsieur. It is true that we are enemies, but some day this war will
end, and you would not wish to prolong its sufferings beyond the end.
Yet you will be doing that, monsieur, if you open that box."

[Illustration]

It seems now almost impossible to me that I could have doubted her
sincerity: she spoke with so much simplicity, and so desperate an appeal
looked out from her dark eyes. Ever since that Christmas night I can see
her quite clearly at will, standing as she then stood--all the sincerity
of her which I would not acknowledge, all the appeal which I would not
hear; and I see her many times when for my peace I would rather not.
She was pleading for her pride, and to do that the better she laid her
pride aside; yet she never lost her dignity. She was pleading for her
chance of happiness, foreseeing that it was likely to be destroyed,
without any reason or any profit to a living being, by a stranger who
would the next moment pass out of her life. Yet there was no outcry, and
there were no tears. Had it been a trick--I ask the ladies--would there
not have been tears?

But I thought it a trick and a cheap one. She was trying to make me
believe that there were love-letters in the box--compromising
love-letters. Now, I _knew_ that there were no love-letters in the box.
I had seen the Frenchman's pretty way of saying thanks. I had noticed
how the caress hurt her just through what it lacked. He was the friend,
you see, and nothing more; she was the lover and the only lover of the
pair.

[Illustration]

I opened the box accordingly. Mademoiselle Sophie turned away abruptly,
and sitting down in a chair shaded her eyes with her hand. I emptied the
letters out on to a table, turning the box upside down, and thus the
first which I took up and read was the one which lay at the very bottom.
As I read it it seemed that every suspicion I had formed was
established. She had hinted at love-letters, she had spoken of secrets
sacred to a girl; and the letter was not even addressed to her. It was
addressed to Madame de Villetaneuse; it was a letter which, if it meant
no more than what was implied upon the surface, would have long since
found destruction in the waste-paper basket. For it purported to be
merely the acceptance of an invitation to dinner at the town house of
Madame de Villetaneuse in the Faubourg St. Germain. It was signed only
by a Christian name, "Armand," and the few sentences which composed the
letter explained that M. Armand was a distant kinsman of Madame de
Villetaneuse who had just come to Paris to pursue his studies, and who,
up till now, had no acquaintance with the family.

I looked at Mademoiselle Sophie sternly. "So all this pother was about a
mere invitation to dinner! Once let it be known that M. Armand will dine
with Madame de Villetaneuse in the Faubourg St. Germain, and you are
humiliated, you lose your chance of happiness, and I, too, shall find
myself in good time suffering the pangs of remorse," and I read the
letter slowly aloud to her, word by word.

She returned no answer. She sat with her hand shading her face, and she
rocked her head backwards and forwards continually and rather quickly,
like a child with a racking headache. Of course, to my mind all that was
part of the game. The letter was dated two years back, but the month was
December, and, of course, to antedate would be the first precaution.

[Illustration]

"Come, mademoiselle," I said, changing my tone, "I invite you very
seriously to make a clean breast of it. I wish to take no harsh measures
with you if I can avoid them. Tell me frankly what news this letter,
plainly translated, gives to General Trochu in Paris."

"None," she answered.

"Very well," said I, and I took up the next letter. Ah, M. Armand writes
again a week later. It was evidently a good dinner, and M. Armand is
properly grateful.

The gratitude, indeed, was rather excessive, rather provincial. It was
just the effusion which a young man who had not yet learned
self-possession might have written on his first introduction to the
highest social life of Paris. Certainly the correspondence was very
artfully designed. But what did it hide? I puzzled over the question; I
took the words and the dates, and it seemed to me that I began to see
light. So much stress was laid upon the dinner, that the word must
signify some event of importance. The first letter spoke of a dinner in
the future. I imagined that it had not been possible to pass this
warning into Paris. The second letter mentioned with gratitude that the
dinner had been successful. Well, suppose "dinner" stood for
"engagement"! The letter would refer to the sortie from Paris which
pushed back our lines and captured Ville Evrart and Maison Blanche. That
seemed likely. Madame de Villetaneuse gave the dinner; General Trochu
made the sortie. Then "Madame de Villetaneuse" stood for "General
Trochu." Who would be Armand? Why, the French people outside Paris--the
provincials! I had the explanation of that provincial expression of
gratitude. Ah, no doubt it all seems far-fetched now that we sit quietly
about this table. But put yourself in the thick of the war and take
twenty years off your lives! Suppose yourselves young and green, eager
for advancement, and just off your balance from want of sleep, want of
food, want of rest, want of everything. There are very few things which
would seem far-fetched. It seemed to me that I was deciphering these
letters with absolute accuracy. I saw myself promoted to captain,
seconded to the staff.

I went on with the letters, hoping to find an explanation there. The
third letter was addressed to Mademoiselle de Villetaneuse, who had
evidently written to M. Armand on behalf of her mother, inviting him to
her box at the opera. M. Armand regretted that he had not been fortunate
enough to call at a time when mademoiselle was at home, and would look
forward to the pleasure of seeing her at the Opera.

"Mademoiselle," I cried, "what does the Opera stand for?"

Mademoiselle Sophie laughed disdainfully.

"For music, monsieur, for art, for refinement, for many things you do
not understand."

[Illustration]

I sprang up in excitement. What did it matter what she said? M. Armand
stood for the Army of the Loire. It was that army which had been
expected at Ville Evrart. Here was a pledge that it would come to the
help of Paris at the next sortie. That was valuable news--it could not
but bring recognition to the man who brought evidence of it into the
Prussian lines. I hurriedly read through the other letters, quoting a
passage here and there, trying to startle Mademoiselle de Villetaneuse
into a confession. But she never changed her attitude, she did not
answer a word.

Her conduct was the more aggravating, for I began to get lost among
these letters. They were all in the same handwriting; they were all
signed "Armand," and they seemed to give a picture of the life of a
young man in Paris during the two years which preceded the war. They
recorded dinner-parties, visits to the theatres, examinations passed,
prizes won and lost, receptions, rides in the Bois, and Sunday
excursions into the country. All these phrases, these appointments,
these meetings, might have particular meanings. But if so, how
stupendous a cipher! Besides, how was it that none of these messages had
been passed into Paris? Very reluctantly I began to doubt my own
conjecture. I read some more letters, and then I suddenly turned back to
the earlier ones. I compared them with the later notes. I began to be
afraid the correspondence, after all, was genuine, for the tone of the
letters changed and changed so gradually, and yet so clearly, that the
greatest literary art could hardly have deliberately composed them. I
seemed to witness the actual progress of M. Armand, a hobbledehoy from
the provinces, losing his awkwardness, acquiring ease and polish in his
contact with the refinement of Paris. The last letters had the postmark
of Paris, the first that of Auvergne.

They were genuine, then. And they were not love-letters. I looked at
Mademoiselle Sophie with an increased perplexity. Why did she now sit
rocking her head like a child in pain? Why had she so struggled to
hinder me from opening them? They recorded a beginning of
acquaintanceship and the growth of that into friendship between a young
man and a young girl--nothing more. The friendship might eventually end
in marriage, no doubt, if left to itself, but there was not a word of
that in the letters. I was still wondering, when the French officer
raised himself from his sofa and dragged himself across the room to
Mademoiselle Sophie's chair. His left trouser leg had been slit down the
side from the knee to the foot and laced lightly so as to make room for
a bandage. He supported himself from chair to chair with evident pain,
and I could not doubt that his wound was as genuine as the letters.

[Illustration]

He bent down and gently took her hand away from her face.

"Sophie," he said, "I did not dare to think that you kept this place for
me in your thoughts. A little more courage and I should long since have
said to you what I say now. I beg your permission to ask Madame de
Villetaneuse to-morrow for your hand in marriage."

My house of cards tumbled down in a second. The French officer was M.
Armand. With the habit women have of treasuring tokens of the things
which have happened, Mademoiselle Sophie had kept all these trifling
notes and messages, and had even gathered to them the letters written to
her mother, so that the story might be complete. But without M. Armand's
knowledge; he was not to know; her pride must guard her secret from him.
For she was the lover and he only the friend, and she knew it. Even in
the little speech which he had just made, there was just too much
formality, just too little sincerity of voice. I understood why she had
tried to throw the ebony box down into the hall so that I might open it
there--I understood that I had caused her great humiliation. But that
was not all there was for me to understand.

In answer to Armand she raised her eyes quietly, and shook her head.

"You wish to spare me shame," she said, "and I thank you very much. But
it is because of these letters that you spoke. I must think that. I must
always think it."

"No!" he exclaimed.

"But yes," she replied firmly. "If monsieur had not unlocked that box--I
don't know--but some day perhaps--oh, not yet, no, not yet--but some day
perhaps you might have come of your own accord and said what you have
just said. And I should have been very happy. But now you never must.
For you see I shall always think that the letters are prompting you."

And M. Armand bowed.

I had taken from her her chance of happiness. The friendship between
them might have ended in marriage if left to itself. But I had not left
it to itself.

"Mademoiselle," I said, "I am very sorry."

She turned her dark eyes on me.

"Monsieur, I warned you. It is too late to be sorry." And as I stood
shuffling awkwardly from one foot to the other, in great remorse as she
had foretold, she added, gently, "Will you not go, monsieur?"

I went out of the room, called together my escort, mounted and rode off.
It was past midnight now, and the night was clear. But I thought neither
of the little beds under the slope of the roof nor of any danger on the
road. There might have been a _franc-tireur_ behind every tree. I would
never have noticed it until one of them had brought me down. Remorse was
heavy upon me. I had behaved without consideration, without chivalry,
without any manners at all. I had not been able to distinguish truth
when it stared me in the face, or to recognise honesty when it looked
out from a young girl's dark eyes. I had behaved, in a word, like the
brute six months of war had made of me. I wondered with a vague hope
whether after all time might not set matters right between M. Armand and
Mademoiselle Sophie. And I wonder now whether it has. But even if I knew
that it had, I should always remember that Christmas night of 1870 with
acute regret. The only incident, indeed, which I can mention with the
slightest satisfaction is this: On the way back to Noisy-le-Grand I came
to a point where the road from Chelles crossed the road from
Montfermeil. I halted at a little cabin which stood upon a grass-plot
within the angle of the roads, and tying up all the money I had on me in
a pocket-handkerchief I dropped the handkerchief through a broken
window-pane.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Colonel let the end of his cigar fall upon his plate, and pushed
back his chair from the table. "But I see we shall be late for the
opera," he said, as he glanced at the clock.



[Illustration]



A SPELL FOR A FAIRY

BY ALFRED NOYES

_Painting and Drawings by_ CLAUDE A. SHEPPERSON, A. R. W. S.


    GATHER, first, in your left hand
      (This must be at fall of day)
    Forty grains of yellow sand
      Where you think a mermaid lay.
    I have heard a wizard hint
      It is best to gather it sweet
    Out of the warm and fluttered dint
      Where you see her heart has beat.

    _Out of the dint in that sweet sand
      Gather forty grains, I say;
    Yet--if it fail you--understand
      I can show you a better way._

    Out of that sand you melt your glass
      While the veils of night are drawn,
    Whispering, till the shadows pass,
      _Nixie--pixie--leprechaun_--

    Then you blow your magic vial,
      Shape it like a crescent moon,
    Set it up and make your trial,
      Singing, "_Fairies, ah, come soon!_"

    _Round the cloudy crescent go,
      On the hill-top, in the dawn,
    Singing softly, on tip-toe,
      "Elaby Gathon! Elaby Gathon!
    Nixie--pixie--leprechaun._"

    Bring the blood of a white hen,
      Killed about the break of day,
    While the cock in the echoing glen
      Thrusts his gold neck every way,
    Over the brambles, peering, calling,
      Under the ferns, with a sudden fear,
    Far and wide, while the dews are falling,
      Clamouring, calling, everywhere.

[Illustration]

    _Round the crimson vial go
      On the hill-top, in the dawn,
    Singing softly, on tip-toe,
    "Nixie--pixie--leprechaun!"
      And, if once will not suffice,
      Do it thrice.
    If this fail, at break of day,
    I can show you a better way._

    Bring the buds of the hazel-copse
      Where two lovers kissed at noon:
    Bring the crushed red wild thyme tops
      Where they walked beneath the moon;

    Bring the four-leaved clover also,
      One of the white, and one of the red,
    Mixed with the flakes of the may that fall so
      Lightly over the sky-lark's bed.

    _Round the fragrant vial go,
      On the hill-top, in the dawn,
    Singing softly, on tip-toe,
      "Nixie--pixie--leprechaun!"
    If this fail, at break of day,
      I can show you a better way._

    Bring an old and wizened child
      --_Ah, tread softly and speak low_--
    Tattered, tearless, wonder-wild.
      From that under-world below;
    Bring a withered child of seven
      Reeking from the City slime,
    Out of hell into your heaven,
      Set her knee-deep in the thyme.

[Illustration]

    _Bring her from the smoky City,
      Set her on a fairy-throne.
    Clothe her, feed her, of your pity.
      Leave her for an hour alone._

    You shall need no spells or charms
      On that hill-top, in that dawn.
    When she lifts her wasted arms
      You shall see a veil withdrawn.
    There shall be no veil between them,
      Though her head be old and wise.
    You shall know that she has seen them,
      By the glory in her eyes.

    _Round her irons, on the hill,
      Earth shall toss a fairy fire.
    Watch and listen and be still,
      Lest you baulk your own desire._

    When she sees four azure wings
      Light upon her claw-like hand;
    When she lifts her head and sings,
      You shall hear and understand.
    You shall hear a bugle calling,
      Wildly over the dew-dashed down,
    And a sound as of the falling
      Ramparts of a conquered town.

    _You shall hear a sound like thunder,
      And a veil shall be withdrawn,
    When her eyes grow wide with wonder,
      On that hill-top, in that dawn._

[Illustration



[Illustration]



OUT OF THE JAWS OF DEATH

_A TALE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL_

BY BARONESS ORCZY

_Painting by_ A. C. MICHAEL _and_ _Drawings by_ H. M. BROCK, R.I.

_Copyright, 1914, by the Baroness Orczy in the U.S.A._


WE were such a happy family before this terrible revolution broke out:
we lived rather simply but very comfortably in our dear old home just on
the borders of the forest of Compiègne. Jean and André were the twins;
just fifteen years old they were when King Louis was deposed from the
throne of France, which God had given him, and sent to prison like a
common criminal, with our beautiful Queen Marie Antoinette and the Royal
children and Madame Elizabeth, who was so beloved by the poor!

Ah! that seems very, very long ago now. No doubt you know better than I
do all that happened in our beautiful land of France and in lovely Paris
about that time: goods and property confiscated, innocent men, women,
and children condemned to death for acts of treason which they had never
committed.

It was in August last year that they came to "Mon Repos" and arrested
papa, maman, and us four young ones and dragged us to Paris, where we
were imprisoned in a narrow and horrible, dank vault in the Abbaye,
where all day and night through the humid stone walls we heard cries and
sobs and moans from poor people who no doubt were suffering the same
sorrows and the same indignities as we were.

I had just passed my nineteenth birthday and Marguerite was only
thirteen. Maman was a perfect angel during that terrible time: she kept
up our courage and our faith in God in a way that no one else could have
done. Every night and morning we knelt round her knee, and papa sat
close beside her, and we prayed to God for deliverance from our own
afflictions, and for the poor people who were crying and moaning all the
day.

But of what went on outside our prison walls we had not an idea, though
sometimes poor papa would brave the warder's brutalities and ask him
questions of what was happening in Paris every day.

"They are hanging all the aristos to the street-lamps of the city," the
man would reply, with a cruel laugh, "and it will be your turn next."

We had been in prison for about a fortnight, then one day--oh! shall I
ever forget it?--we heard in the distance a noise like the rumbling of
thunder; nearer and nearer it came, and soon the sound became less
confused. Cries and shrieks could be heard above that rumbling din, but
so weird and menacing did those cries seem, that instinctively--though
none of us knew what they meant--we all felt a nameless terror grip our
hearts.

Oh! I am not going to attempt the awful task of describing to you all
the horrors of that never-to-be-forgotten day. People who to-day cannot
speak without a shudder of the September massacres have not the remotest
conception of what really happened on that truly awful second day of
that month.

We are all at peace and happy now, but whenever my thoughts fly back to
that morning, whenever the ears of memory recall those hideous yells of
fury and of hate, coupled with the equally horrible cries for pity which
pierced through the walls behind which the six of us were crouching,
trembling, and praying, whenever I think of it all my heart still beats
violently with that same nameless dread which held it in its deathly
grip then.

Hundreds of men, women, and children were massacred in the prisons of
Paris on that day--it was a St. Bartholomew even more hideous than the
last.

Maman was trying in vain to keep our thoughts fixed upon God--papa sat
on the stone bench, his elbows resting on his knees, his head buried in
his hands, but maman was kneeling on the floor with her dear arms
encircling us all, and her trembling lips moving in continuous prayer.

[Illustration]

We felt that we were facing death--and what a death!--O, my God!

Suddenly the small grated window--high up in the dank wall--became
obscured. I was the first to look up, but the cry of terror which rose
from my heart was choked ere it reached my throat.

Jean and André looked up too, and they shrieked, and so did Marguerite,
and papa jumped up and ran to us and stood suddenly between us and the
window like a tiger defending its young.

[Illustration]

But we were all of us quite silent now. The children did not even cry,
they stared wide-eyed--paralysed with fear.

Only maman continued to pray, and we could hear papa's rapid and
stertorous breathing as he watched what was going on in that window
above.

Heavy blows were falling against the masonry round the grating, and we
could hear the nerve-racking sound of a file working on the iron bars,
and farther away below the window those awful yells of human beings
transformed by hate and fury into savage beasts.

How long this horrible suspense lasted I cannot now tell you: the next
thing I remember clearly is a number of men in horrible ragged clothing
pouring into our vault-like prison from the window above; the next
moment they rushed at us simultaneously--or so it seemed to me, for I
was just then recommending my soul to God, so certain was I that in that
same second I would cease to live.

It was all like a dream, for instead of the horrible shriek of satisfied
hate which we were all expecting to hear, a whispering voice, commanding
and low, struck our ear and dragged us, as it were, from out the abyss
of despair into the sudden light of hope.

"If you will trust us," the voice whispered, "and not be afraid, you
will be safely out of Paris within an hour."

Papa was the first to realise what was happening: he had never lost his
presence of mind, even during the darkest moment of this terrible time,
and he said quite calmly and steadily now:

"What must we do?"

"Persuade the little ones not to be afraid, not to cry, to be as still
and silent as may be," continued the voice, which I felt must be that of
one of God's own angels, so exquisitely kind did it sound to my ear.

"They will be quiet and still without persuasion," said papa; "eh,
children?"

And Jean, André, and Marguerite murmured: "Yes!" whilst maman and I
drew them closer to us and said everything we could think of to make
them still more brave.

And the whispering, commanding voice went on after awhile:

"Now, will you allow yourselves to be muffled and bound? and after that
will you swear that whatever happens, whatever you may see or hear, you
will neither move nor speak. Not only your own lives, but those of many
brave men will depend upon your fulfilment of this oath."

Papa made no reply, save to raise his hand and eyes up to where God
surely was watching over us all. Maman said in her gentle, even voice:

"For myself and my children, I swear to do all that you tell us."

[Illustration]

A great feeling of confidence had entered into her heart, just as it had
done into mine. We looked at one another and knew that we were both
thinking of the same thing: we were thinking of the brave Englishman and
his gallant little band of heroes about whom we had heard many wonderful
tales of how they had rescued a number of innocent people who were
unjustly threatened with the guillotine; and we all knew that the tall
figure disguised in horrible rags, who spoke to us with such a gentle
yet commanding voice, was the man whom rumour credited with supernatural
powers, and who was known by the mysterious name of the Scarlet
Pimpernel.

Hardly had we sworn to do his bidding than his friends most
unceremoniously threw great pieces of sacking over our heads and then
proceeded to tie ropes round our bodies. At least I know that that is
what one of them was doing to me, and from one or two whispered words of
command which reached my ear I concluded that papa and maman and the
children were being dealt with in the same summary way.

I felt hot and stifled under that rough bit of sacking, but I would not
have moved or even sighed for worlds. Strangely enough, as soon as my
eyes and ears were shut off from the sounds and sights immediately round
me, I once more became conscious of the horrible and awful din which was
going on not only on the other side of our prison walls, but inside the
whole of the Abbaye building and in the street beyond.

Once more I heard those terrible howls of rage and of satisfied hatred
uttered by the assassins who were being paid by the Government of our
beautiful country to butcher helpless prisoners in their hundreds.

[Illustration: The Scarlet Pimpernel to the Rescue

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by A. C. Michael_]

Suddenly I felt myself hoisted up off my feet and slung up on to a pair
of shoulders that must have been very powerful indeed, for I am no light
weight, and once more I heard the voice, the very sound of which was
delight, quite close to my ear this time, giving a brief and
comprehensive command:

"All ready--remember your part--en avant!"

Then it added in English; "Here, Tony, you start kicking against the
door whilst we begin to shout!"

I loved those few words of English, and hoped that maman had heard them
too, for it would confirm her--as it did me--in the happy knowledge that
God and a brave man had taken our rescue in hand.

But from that moment we might all have been in the very antechamber of
hell. I could hear the violent kicks against the heavy door of our
prison, and our brave rescuers seemed suddenly to be transformed into a
cageful of wild beasts. Their shouts and yells were as horrible as any
that came to us from the outside, and I must say that the gentle, firm
voice which I had learnt to love was as execrable as any I could hear.

Apparently the door would not yield, as the blows against it became more
and more violent, and presently, from somewhere above my head--the
window presumably--there came a rough call and a raucous laugh:

"Why! what in the name of ---- is happening here?"

And the voice near me answered back equally roughly:

"A quarry of six--but we are caught in this trap--get the door open for
us, citizen--we want to be rid of this booty and go in search for more."

A horrible laugh was the reply from above, and the next instant I heard
a terrific crash; the door had at last been burst open either from
within or without, I could not tell which, and suddenly all the din, the
cries, the groans, the hideous laughter and bibulous songs which had
sounded muffled up to now burst upon us with all their hideousness.

[Illustration]

That was, I think, the most awful moment of that truly fearful hour. I
could not have moved then, even had I wished or been able to do so, but
I knew that between us all and a horrible, yelling, murdering mob there
was now nothing--except the hand of God and the heroism of a band of
English gentlemen.

Together they gave a cry--as loud, as terrifying as any that were
uttered by the butchering crowd in the building, and with a wild rush
they seemed to plunge with us right into the thick of the awful mêlée.

At least that is what it all felt like to me, and afterwards I heard
from our gallant rescuer himself that that is exactly what he and his
friends did. There were eight of them altogether, and we four young ones
had each been hoisted on a pair of devoted shoulders, whilst maman and
papa were each carried by two men.

I was lying across the finest pair of shoulders in the world, and close
to me was beating the bravest heart on God's earth.

Thus burdened, these eight noble English gentlemen charged right through
an army of butchering, howling brutes, they themselves howling with the
fiercest of them.

All around me I heard weird and terrifying cries:

"What ho, citizens! what have you there?"

"Six aristos!" shouted my hero boldly as he rushed on, forcing his way
through the crowd.

"What are you doing with them?" yelled a raucous voice.

"Food for the starving fish in the river," was the ready response.
"Stand aside, citizen," he added, with a round curse. "I have my orders
from citizen Danton himself about these six aristos. You hinder me at
your peril."

He was challenged over and over again in the same way, and so were his
friends who were carrying papa and maman and the children, but they were
always ready for a reply. With eyes that could not see one could imagine
them as hideous, as vengeful, as cruel as the rest of the crowd.

I think that soon I must have fainted from sheer excitement and terror,
for I remember nothing more till I felt myself deposited on a hard
floor, propped against the wall, and the stifling piece of sacking taken
off my head and face.

I looked around me dazed and bewildered; gradually the horrors of the
past hour came back to me, and I had to close my eyes again, for I felt
sick and giddy with the sheer memory of it all.

But presently I felt stronger and looked around me again. Jean and André
were squatting in a corner close by, gazing wide-eyed at the group of
men in filthy, ragged clothing who sat round a deal table in the centre
of a small, ill-furnished room.

Maman was lying on a horse-hair sofa at the other end of the room, with
Marguerite beside her, and papa sat in a low chair by her side holding
her hand.

The voice I loved was speaking in its quaint, somewhat drawly cadence:

"You are quite safe now, my dear Monsieur Lemercier," it said. "After
Madame and the young people have had a rest some of my friends will find
you suitable disguises, and they will escort you out of Paris, as they
have some really genuine passports in their possession, which we obtain
from time to time through the agency of a personage highly placed in
this murdering Government, and with the help of English banknotes. Those
passports are not always unchallenged, I must confess," added my hero,
with a quaint laugh, "but to-night every one is busy murdering in one
part of Paris, so the other parts are comparatively safe."

Then he turned to one of his friends and spoke to him in English:

"You had better see this through, Tony," he said, "with Hastings and
Mackenzie. Three of you will be enough: I shall have need of the
others."

No one seemed to question his orders. He had spoken and the others made
ready to obey. Just then papa spoke up:

"How are we going to thank you, sir?" he asked, speaking broken English,
but with his habitual dignity of manner.

"By leaving your welfare in our hands, Monsieur," replied our gallant
rescuer quietly.

Papa tried to speak again, but the Englishman put up his hand to stop
any further talk.

"There is no time now, Monsieur," he said, with gentle courtesy. "I must
leave you, as I have much work yet to do."

"Where are you going, Blakeney?" asked one of the others.

"Back to the Abbaye prison," he said; "there are other women and
children to be rescued there!"

[Illustration



[Illustration]



WHAT CAN A LITTLE CHAP DO?

BY JOHN OXENHAM

_Painting by_ EUGENE HASTAIN _and Drawings by GORDON BROWNE, R.I._


    _WHAT can a little chap do
    For his country and for you?
    What_ CAN _a little chap do?_

    He can fight like a Knight
    For the Truth and the Right--
        _That's one good thing he can do._

[Illustration]

[Illustration:

    "He can march in the queue
    Of the Good and the Great,
    Who battled with fate
    And won through."

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Eugene Hastain_]

[Illustration]

    He can shun all that's mean,
    He can keep himself clean,
    Both without and within--
        _That's another good thing he can do_.

    His soul he can brace
    Against everything base,
    And the trace will be seen
    All his life in his face--
        _That's a very fine thing he can do_.

    He can look to the Light,
    He can keep his thought white,
    He can fight the great fight,
    He can do with his might
    What is good in God's sight--
        _Those are excellent things he can do_.

    [Illustration]

    Though his years be but few,
    He can march in the queue
    Of the Good and the Great,
    Who battled with fate
    And won through--
        _That's a wonderful thing he can do_.

    And--in each little thing
    He can follow The King.
    Yes--in each smallest thing
    He can follow The King--
    He can follow The Christ, The King.

[Illustration



[Illustration]



ALTOGETHER DIFFERENT

BY W. PETT RIDGE

_Painting by_ M. E. GRAY _and Drawings by_ LEWIS BAUMER


I KNEW a child who----

Some friends of mine have a daughter, and she----

Not very many years ago, I remember hearing----

Once upon a time--that is the proper way to begin this story--once upon
a time there was a little girl, of about the usual age, who lived near
to St. John's Wood Road Station, handy to Lord's cricket ground, and not
far from the Zoological Gardens. You would think that any one who, in
the summer, could look out of her window and see Mr. P. F. Warner
batting, and in the winter was able to go any afternoon she liked, to
watch the lions and tigers take high tea at four, ought to have been as
happy as the days were long; cheerful even when the days were short. Yet
she was not entirely satisfied; it may be said that her one failing was
a spirit of discontent. When grown-ups are discontented, it is called
ambition; but that is another matter.

On a certain Tuesday evening in November it happened that she felt quite
pleased with the world until about seven o'clock. Seven in the evening
was the hour that frequently made her peevish.

Nurse left her alone for a minute to see if everything was ready
upstairs, and in that minute the little girl jumped on a chair and moved
back the long hand. She was reading her picture-book with great interest
when nurse returned.

[Illustration]

"Bless my soul!" cried nurse. "Quite thought it wanted ten to seven, and
here it is only ten past six. I shall find myself in Colney Hatch before
I'm much older."

The little girl wanted to assure Nanna there was no good reason to
assume that mental decay had set in, but she did not do this at once,
and afterwards it seemed too late. So nurse was allowed to chat on, and
tell her very best story about the time when she was a child, and a good
one at that, and when the clock, having been compelled to go over the
ground twice, again gave the time as ten to seven, nurse said,

"Now my dearie!"

Upstairs, the little girl devoted a few minutes to instructing her dolly
in the art of going off nicely to bye-byes.

She was left alone, with just a mere star of gas-light for company
shining above the dressing-table, and at the moment when she was about
to go to sleep conscience woke up. Conscience became wide-awake.
Conscience insisted upon talking, and the little girl had to listen. She
was aware it is useless to cry when one is by oneself with nobody
looking on; not only useless but wasteful, because you may want those
tears on more important and more public occasions. So the little girl
did not weep, but, oh! she felt troubled. She did feel troubled.

"A silly, stupid world!" she cried aloud. "It ought--it ought to be
changed. I'd very much love it to be altogether different."

A knock at her door, and she answered, "Please come in, Nanna!" Not
nurse. Certainly the tall lady with diamonds sparkling in her hair, and
a white chiffon kind of costume, and a long silver stick in the right
hand, was as unlike nurse as any one could be. The little girl said,
"Oh, I beg pardon!" in her politest manner.

"It is for me to beg yours," answered the tall lady with severity. "I am
exceedingly sorry to disturb you."

"Pray don't mention it."

"I wish to mention it," insisted the lady. "I claim the right to mention
it. I decline to allow any one to dictate to me what I shall or what I
shall not mention. I am a good fairy."

The little girl opened her mouth with surprise.

"A good fairy, and I am here to do you a favour. When a good fairy
wishes to do a favour, it is only necessary for a wish to be expressed,
and----"

[Illustration: "Bless my soul!" cried nurse]

"Thank you," said the child nervously, "but really I would so much
rather you did not take the trouble."

"The trouble," replied the good fairy, striking the floor with her
silver stick in an impatient way, "is no concern of yours. You mustn't
haggle."

"I don't know what that means," declared the other earnestly, "and if I
did, I wouldn't do it, ma'am, I wouldn't really. Good evening, and, of
course, thank you ever so much for calling."

"Dress!" ordered the good fairy.

On the instant something happened which the little girl had often
thought about; more than once she had talked it over with nurse. She
found herself, in the space of less time than it takes to click your
finger and thumb, fully and completely costumed, boots laced up, hair
taken out of curlers and properly brushed, hat set at the correct angle,
parasol in hand, gloves buttoned, and everything ready for a walk out of
doors. She gave a cry of delight and astonishment.

"I am about to give you the great treat of your life," said the fairy,
"something that no one has ever yet experienced, something that will
give you a subject to talk about for the rest of your days. Nobody will
believe you, but that must be endured. You are about to see the world as
nobody else has seen it. And if you ask me why you have been selected
for this high and special honour----"

"Please, I don't!"

"My answer is," taking no notice of the interruption, "that you are
receiving the award for your wonderful discovery."

"But I have discovered nothing."

"Nothing!" echoed the lady, with amazement. "You call it nothing to have
found out the secret that has puzzled clever people for thousands and
thousands of years? How often folk have said, 'If only I could live some
part of my life over again!' and they never have been able to do it.
You, child, were the first."

The staircase had always gone straight down until it neared the next
landing, where it took a slight curve; now it was all curves and had
nothing about it that could be called straight. It went up, it went
down, it went to the left, it went to the right, so that wherever you
put your foot expecting to find a step, you did not find it, and
wherever you put your foot expecting to find nothing, you hurt your
toes.

"This is very strange, ma'am!"

"That," replied the other, "should be its great attraction. Don't lag.
We shall get to the end of the staircase in less than ten minutes."

Going out of the street doorway proved one of the most difficult tasks.
The fairy did not seem to mind, but the child found it extremely odd
that when you pulled at the door it opened outwards, and that when you
pushed at it it came in. The iron gate which led to the pavement had
another form of behaviour. Determined not to be bothered here, she gave
a touch with her boot, and instantly the iron gate offered her boot a
pinch; she placed her hand upon it and the gate gripped it, much in the
way that Uncle Henry did when he said "How do you do?" She put her back
against it, and the iron gate gave her a clutch around the waist, and
said, in rasping tones, as it waltzed to the pavement,

"Do you reverse?"

It was then that she perceived the fairy had left her.

[Illustration]

A pavement is expected to behave in a calm and demure manner; even when
it takes you up-hill it does this in the gentlest way. But this
pavement, so soon as the little girl set foot upon it, at once changed
to something like a switchback, and a switchback, mark you, she enjoyed
when seated on a trolley at Shepherd's Bush Exhibitions; it was less
agreeable to try to walk up and down the uneven parts here. Other people
did not seem to experience her difficulties, and this she failed to
understand until she observed that they went along on their hands and
toes, pretending to have four legs; she tried the same method and found
it made her back ache; discovered, too, that she could not see so much
as when walking in the old way. Thus it was that she had reached the end
of the road, where a steep ascent occurred that was like the side of a
mountain, ere she noticed something strange and peculiar about the
houses.

"How very foolish of them to build in that way!" she cried. "They must
be out of their senses."

[Illustration]

It was the more eccentric in that her own house so far as she had
observed had not changed; thinking it over, though, she could not be
quite sure. Here at any rate was every house upside down with the front
door right away at the top, Virginia creepers growing downwards; at one
house the painters were seeing to the front and their ladders came from
the roof (which was the basement) nearly to the basement (which was the
roof). A neat lawn hung out over the top of each house; it made her feel
giddy to think of the risks of playing croquet there; she could not see
how one would be able to make even the first hoop.

Other things claimed her attention.

There were carts with horses pushing them--she had often heard her
father reprove her eldest brother for doing this in argument--the horses
stood upright and wore silk hats in a rakish sort of way, sometimes
lifting these on meeting another horse and taking cigars out of mouths.
She spoke to a constable, who wore a helmet on each hand, and put an
urgent inquiry.

"Miaow!" said the policeman.

"You didn't quite understand," remarked the little girl patiently. "I
asked you if you would kindly tell me the way to get home to Wellington
Road."

"Ba, ba!"

"Do please listen to me," she begged, "and tell me what I want to know.
I think I've lost my way, and I'm so afraid that I'm going to cry."

"Moo--oo!" said the constable.

[Illustration: Instructing her dolly in the art of going off nicely to
by-byes.

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by M. E. Gray_]

"Please, please," she cried, "please don't be silly. Why do you keep
making noises like that instead of giving me a proper answer?"

"Missy," he explained, "I'm a comic policeman. I'm not here to tell folk
the way or to lock them up, or anything of that kind; I'm here to make
people laugh."

"You are not amusing me!"

"Not when I make a noise like a dog?" he asked, with surprise. "Why,
that nearly always sends people into a good temper. You wait till I give
you my imitation of a railway engine. Hark!"

He set his teeth together and began to say "Isha--isha--isha," but the
little girl turned away. She felt so indignant that she determined to
tell her father about it at the very first opportunity, and see whether
something could not be done. More than once her father had helped to
straighten out tangled matters by simply writing a letter to the
newspapers, and signing himself "An Indignant Ratepayer."

[Illustration]

And at the very moment along came her father. He, too, walked on all
fours as other people did, and the little girl thought it caused him to
look particularly undignified, but she did not trouble about this, for,
stout as he was, she was really glad to see him.

"How do you do," he said respectfully. "Can you give me a penny to buy
some sweeties?"

"Daddie, dear!" she cried with distress. "Don't you begin to be funny,
please."

"I'm not," he said.

"But you are my parent, you know."

"Yes," he sighed, "I'm aware of that. But under the new rules--you must
have heard all about them--under the new rules parents have to be
obedient to their children, and do everything their children tell them
to do."

"Not a bad idea," decided the little girl, after giving it
consideration. "I think if you don't mind I will get you to come along
now to Finchley Road and buy for me the mechanical rocking-horse that
has been talked about for some time."

"Under the old arrangement," he replied readily, "I should have been
only too pleased, but the new rules say that children must buy presents
for their father and mother."

"How can we," getting rather cross, "how in the world can we when we
have no money?"

"I think," he said, "that it is expected you should go to work and earn
some."

"Never heard such nonsense in the whole course of my life," she
declared, using a grown-up remark. "It's perfect rubbish. Do you mean to
say that I shall have to go to concerts and sing as mamma does?"

"That's the idea, I believe."

"But I can't sing. I can't sing nearly well enough to earn money."

"Well," said her father, after considering the matter, "what about going
out as charwoman? You'd get two shillings a day and your lunch."

She stood there for a few minutes, not daring to speak, and overcome
with cares and responsibilities. Some one touched her on the shoulder,
and she looked up.

"Good fairy!" she cried.

"Do you like the altogether different you asked for?"

"No," she answered, "I don't like it at all. I wish now I hadn't put
back the hands of the clock."

"You mean to say that that was how you did it? You dare to tell me it
was nothing cleverer than that? Now, just to punish you," said the
fairy, speaking with stern decision, "I shall send you away to the old
sort of world, and you'll simply have to make the best of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

The bedroom door opened, and nurse came in. The little girl, snuggling
down into her warm, comfortable bed, kept her eyes shut.

"Bless her!" said nurse to herself. "Sleeping as sound as a top. That's
what comes of having nothing on your mind to worry you!"

[Illustration



THE ESCAPE

_A GIRL'S STORY FROM GALLANT BELGIUM_

BY ANNIE S. SWAN

_Drawings by_ HAROLD EARNSHAW


Not a sound broke the exquisite hush of the early morning.

[Illustration]

The old courtyard, with its tiled pavement, its cool fountain, and its
cooing doves, the dog asleep in the sunshine, made a picture of perfect
peace.

The house, once the Château of a great family that had fallen on evil
days, was grey and old, and beautiful still, though now merely _une
pension de demoiselles_.

It was August, when, as a rule, all the merry throng had scattered from
the Château to their respective homes, leaving it to its former dignity
and quiet. Mademoiselle usually went to England, perhaps seeking fresh
pupils, or to enjoy the sea breezes on the Normandy coast.

La Royat, in the village of Coutane, was inland from the sea, about
fifteen miles from Brussels. It was a sweet spot, beloved of the
understanding traveller, and many came to look at the fine old church,
whose spire and windows were among the treasures known to lovers of the
beautiful all over the world. Mademoiselle Ledru had nothing to complain
of in her lot, with which she had been hitherto content. Success had
flowed in upon her earnest efforts, though looking at her anxious face
that summer morning one would have thought her oppressed by care. She
was an elderly woman now, with the remains of beauty still on her face.
The place where she stood that morning, before her household was astir,
was certainly unusual, being the square tower of the Château, from whose
low ramparts she was sweeping the horizon with a powerful glass. It was
all very peaceful and beautiful, a wide rolling plateau, with fields
white to harvest, not a hint of approaching desolation on its smiling
face.

It was very early, hardly an hour past daybreak, but already some of the
thrifty peasants were busy in the fields. Far away on the red horizon
there was a slight haze, regarding which Mademoiselle seemed more than a
little curious. Again and again she focused her glass, until confident
that the haze was not altogether stationary, but moved and broke and
thickened again. Then with a sickening apprehension at her heart, she
turned and fled down the stairs and went to open the big door of the
Château. Jules, the fat and sleepy porter, was undoing the bolts as she
got down.

[Illustration]

"Bonjour, Mademoiselle. Some one is at the gate, an early visitor." He
chuckled as he undid the last bolt, and threw wide the door. When he
would have hobbled across the courtyard to open the gate his mistress
was before him. When she undid the bolts the Curé, bareheaded, stood
before her.

"Ah, Mademoiselle, it is bad news," he said in a firm voice, though his
face was tense with apprehension. "They come, the barbarians. I have
information, now it behoves us to consult what we will do."

Mademoiselle whitened to the lips, and drew him in and shut the door.
She signed to Jules to depart, but the Curé intervened.

"Let him stay. It will save a twice-told tale. I have certain news that
they are not more than a couple of hours' march away, and for sure they
will come this way to Brussels. What shall we do?"

"I will remain at my post," answered Julie Ledru firmly. "I have no fear
for myself, but my charges, Father--Rosalie and Biddy, with whom their
English parents have trusted me. My spirit fails! What must we do with
them?"

"It will not be safe to leave them here, Mademoiselle, nor even for you
to stay. We will take you to the crypt of the church, where, with a
little food and drink, you will be safe until they have passed through.
We have no treasure here in Coutane, and are simple folk. Perhaps we
shall be beneath their notice."

Julie Ledru clasped her hands in an ecstasy of apprehension. They had
been without newspapers for four days, but chance travellers from the
East had brought strange and appalling tales of the invaders' desolating
march. They told of ruined villages and burning homes, and helpless
people mercilessly shot down in places as simple and as unimportant as
Coutane. Julie Ledru looked round her little domain with a kind of sad
pride. It did not contain many treasures, it is true, but it was her
home, enshrined by many sweet memories. It contained her all.

"Now, Father?" she asked feverishly. "Do you think we should come now?"

"Without a moment's delay," he answered. "Go and get your charges roused
and bring all with you; a little food also in a basket, lest you have to
stop there several days."

[Illustration: Fleur-de-Lis

    _Painted for
    Princess Mary's Gift Book
    by Carlton A. Smith, R.I._]

"You will be with us, Father?" said Julie anxiously.

He shook his head.

"My place is in the open street with such of my people as feel strong
and brave in their innocence and faith. But you have English charges. If
it was known, Mademoiselle, believe me, nothing would save them or you.
Their fury against the English is so great."

"Shall we take Jules? Besides him, there is only our faithful Babette."

Before the Curé could reply Jules intervened, scratching his old grey
head.

"I hide not from them, Mademoiselle; I will stay and guard the Château
and keep them out, if I can, barbarians that they are, making war on
women and children."

"They will shoot you, Jules, if you are so foolish," his mistress
reminded him. His answer was a shrug of the shoulders.

"A man dies but once--that is to say, a good man, who has faith in God
and does his duty."

So saying, Jules went back to take up his waiting duty.

The Curé departed the way he had come, and Julie Ledru, with a feeling
of strange calm upon her, hurried indoors to make her few simple
preparations. Babette, the elderly servant, one of the best of the old
Brabant type, was cool and ready for any emergency, and in an incredibly
short time they had packed some food and a few necessaries in two
considerable baskets. Then Mademoiselle Ledru essayed the task she
dreaded--that of awaking her two young charges, and preparing them for
the ordeal through which they had to pass.

They were still asleep, in two beds side by side, in one of the
pleasantest rooms of the Château. Rosalie Bentham, fair and rosy, like
an English flower, her golden hair lying on her pillow like an aureole,
and Biddy Connaught, the dark-eyed Irish girl, whose long black lashes
swept her cheek, while her dimpled chin was in her open palm, as she
smiled over some passing imagery of her dream. Something caught Julie
Ledru's throat as she regarded these two pictures of innocence and
beauty, and reflected on the greatness of her charge. Both were only
children, entrusted to her care in the holidays, because their parents,
both in the exercise of duty, could not take them home. But with a
strong effort she controlled herself and awakened them gently. It was a
process of some length, because the sleep of youth is sound and deep,
but at last they were sitting up, drinking in her news.

"We have to run away and hide in the crypt until the Germans have
marched through the village. Do you hear, Biddy?" called Rosalie, as
she sprang from her bed and began to get into her clothes. "But how
ripping! What lots we shall all have to write about and to tell them
when we get home!"

Julie Ledru faintly, tremulously, smiled, and with her own hands she
assisted them to make a hasty toilet. Some coffee was ready for them
downstairs, for Babette was a methodical person, not easily upset. Thus
fortified, they left the Château presently, leaving Babette and Jules in
charge. Babette made the same excuse--some one must stay to guard the
place, and surely when they found nobody but two simple old servants
they would pass on.

Julie had no time to argue; perhaps even she did not fully realise the
peril to which these two faithful souls thus willingly exposed
themselves. She looked back on their serene faces as she passed through
the gate, and it was the last time she was to look on them in life. She
never saw them again, nor found them. They disappeared in the ruins of
La Royat as many had disappeared in other ruins, leaving no trace
behind. At the church, which was but a few paces off, they found the
Curé busy arranging shelter. It was a very tiny village, and the number
of those willing to accept the shelter he offered and, indeed, advised
was comparatively few. For though a simple they were a brave people, nor
could they conceive of a wickedness and barbarity that would seek to
destroy innocent souls who had naught to do with war. So they went about
their ordinary avocations as usual, a trifle more apprehensively
perhaps, but none the less bravely, and the morning wore on.

The Curé took his charges, about twenty souls in all, down the narrow
stairs to the crypt, where he had already provided light and such small
comforts as he could spare from his own store.

"Isn't it ripping, Biddy?" asked Rosalie, but perhaps her young voice
had lost a little of its gallant ring. But Biddy, who had the
imaginative temperament of her race, shivered a little, and burst into
tears. It was strange and ominous to come in out of the warm, hopeful
sunshine to this place of tombs, an adventure with which the child could
very well have dispensed. The church was very old, and many who had been
born in Coutane had never seen the crypt. Its very existence was unknown
to a large number, and the entrance to it was so cunningly arranged, and
so difficult of access, that it was of all hiding-places in the village
the most secure.

[Illustration]

Then there was always the belief, founded on all precedent of war, that
the sacred things would be respected, and sanctuary in God's house left
undesecrated. The hours seemed long down there and the stillness
profound. Not a sound from the upper air penetrated to that strange
hiding-place. Though sure of their sanctuary, it seemed natural to lower
their voices, to move softly, and even to watch apprehensively. Even the
two girls, usually so high-spirited, found themselves naturally becoming
quiet. It was only the very little children, of whom there were five,
who, unconscious of danger, crowed and laughed and babbled in their
usual glee. These little ones provided incessant interest and occupation
for the two girls, and Julie Ledru smiled as she watched their pretty
efforts to amuse and keep them quiet. She had brought her watch, and it
pointed to nine o'clock at the moment when they heard a dull thud
several times repeated, which caused them all to start and look at one
another in quick alarm.

"It is the guns," said old Monsieur Rollin, whose legs were twisted with
rheumatism, so that they had half-carried him down the steps of the
crypt. "They have come, and are starting their fiendish work."

[Illustration]

No one could gainsay him, and for the next half-hour they had to listen
to a repetition of the same sound gradually getting nearer and nearer.
Presently their terror was increased by the deafening roar of artillery
much nearer and the sound of falling masonry, indicating that the church
itself, cradle and sanctuary of the life of Coutane for centuries, had
not been respected. The two English girls, now thoroughly frightened,
clung together fearfully, and the whole little company, some of them on
their knees, did not exchange a word. After a time the firing ceased,
and they were left to absolute stillness. But none of them moved, or
offered to go up to discover what had actually happened in the village.

[Illustration]

After what seemed an interminable interval--in reality it was not more
than a couple of hours from the moment the din ceased overhead--the door
of the crypt was cautiously opened, and the Curé looked in. He was all
dishevelled, his face blackened with smoke, and his whole appearance
that of a man who had seen some terrible and haunting vision.

"Ah, there you are, my children," he cried as they crowded round him; "I
think you may come up presently, but be prepared to have your hearts
broken. A regiment of the enemy has passed through, and left nothing
behind. Mademoiselle, the Château is in flames, and the beautiful spire
of the church has been blown to pieces, and at the Mairie the
devastation is complete. But, above all, we mourn the death of so many
helpless people--I myself escaped by a miracle."

"Have they gone?" asked Mademoiselle, with a shivering breath.

"They have, and I think that they are pursued, and that this was the
hurried work of destruction prompted by hatred and revenge. Will you
come up now and see for yourselves, or remain here in safety through the
night? Alas! you will find no other refuge, Mademoiselle, for your home
is in ruins."

Such fear was upon them that with one accord they determined to remain
in the crypt until the dawn of another day.

Even the natural gaiety and high spirits of youth were not proof against
the terror which all felt might swoop down upon them again at any
moment.

They had arranged themselves as comfortably as possible to pass the
night, when they were suddenly disturbed by the grating of a door and
the swinging of a lantern. All scrambled to their feet, some of them
shrieking and hiding their eyes, certain that there had been a fresh
arrival of the invaders, and that instant death would meet them.

But once more the Curé smiled upon them reassuringly.

"Courage, my children! Our trouble is for the moment at an end. Our own
brave soldiers have arrived. It is as I said--they are in pursuit, but
part of them will camp here to-night. Alas! we have little or no food to
offer them, for the barbarians stripped the village of everything."

Then Julie Ledru, hurriedly throwing on her cloak, said she would ascend
with the Curé and give what stores she could from the Château.

"But it is no more, my daughter. You have forgotten how I told you
yesterday that they have burned it to the ground."

"But my stores are hidden in the grotto in the garden, and there is a
secret passage to it. I think, Father, they had not time, or did not
take it, to explore, and we shall find things there. I have been putting
them away since the war began."

So in the pearly dawn, a strange sight was to be seen in the trampled,
desecrated garden of the Château behind its smoking ruins.

Led by Julie Ledru, the Commandant of the troops that had halted in the
village found stores sufficient to help assuage the hunger of his men.
He was profuse in his thanks.

"What can I do for you in exchange, Mademoiselle?" he asked, as he stood
at the salute. Instantly Mademoiselle pointed to her charges, who, still
shivering a little with fear, yet profoundly, poignantly interested in
the extraordinary scene of desolation, in what but a few hours ago was
one of the fairest spots in Belgium.

"These are my English children. Get them to their parents, Monsieur le
Capitaine, and I shall be amply repaid."

The officer shook his head.

"Easier said than done, Madame; but leave it, and I will see what can be
done. How is it you have been so indiscreet as to remain here? You ought
to have removed yourself, and them, while there was still time."

Mademoiselle shook her head.

"We imagined we were of no account, and we have had no news for several
days. We were assured that the tide of battle had flowed in a different
direction."

"It is everywhere, Mademoiselle--an evil flood, rolling over the whole
of our country. But, look you, I will see what can be done."

He was as good as his word, and that evening after dark, in an armoured
motor-car, Julie Ledru and her charges were driven for hours and miles
by tortuous ways which kept them out of danger, until they reached
Ghent, where it was still possible to get a train for Ostend.

Two days later, she landed in England with Rose and Biddy, herself
utterly ruined, her home gone, one of the most pitiful of the refugees.

But she was welcomed warmly and gratefully by Biddy's father, and in a
few days' time was safe in a warm, comfortable home on the Irish coast,
where Rose, too, was made welcome, until her own relatives in India
could be communicated with.

It was an experience the two girls would never forget, one which will
remain with them through life as a very poignant personal experience of
the Great War.

[Illustration



_Fleur de Lis_

[Illustration]

_by Kate Douglas Wiggin_

    _Painting by_ Carlton A. Smith, _R.A._

    _Drawings by_ Edmund J. Sullivan, _A.R.W.S._

_Copyright in the U.S.A. by the Century Company._


FLEUR-DE-LIS had been christened Marie Hortense Amélie Dupont: Marie for
her mother, Hortense and Amélie in honour of the two Vicomtesses de
Rastignac, sole survivors of the proud old Royalist family in whose
service Marie's mother and grandmother had lived, and into whose service
Marie herself had been born. But when _la petite_ Marie Hortense Amélie
was a mere blossom of babyhood she forsook the name that the priest had
given her as he touched her downy head with the holy water, and chose
instead to be called Fleur-de-lis--a name, in sooth, much better suited
to a noble daughter of the Rastignacs than to a child of Marie Dupont,
maker of tissue-paper flowers, and Pierre Dupont, street musician.

Fleur-de-lis had first opened her eyes in a very humble chamber, but it
was large enough to hold a deal of sweet content, which grew all the
sweeter when she came to share it. There were only two rooms for father,
mother, and child, and these were in a dreary tenement house, for Pierre
Dupont, a stranger in a strange land, was having a desperate struggle
with poverty. On being discharged from the hospital, where he had passed
through the dangerous illness that left him a maimed and broken man, he
had to begin the world all over again, and begin it single-handed, in
very truth. There were few things to which he could turn his one hand;
one of them was the crank of a street-piano, and in a modest example of
that modern instrument of torture he accordingly invested the last of
his savings. He was much too good for it, but by regarding it distinctly
as a hated object which should be discarded the moment something better
appeared, he mastered his aversion, and, by wheeling it through the
streets from morning till night, he managed to live, for there were
always people who wanted to hear it, and others who did not, so that
between the two classes he scraped together enough for his frugal
needs.

Marie was young and pretty and loyal, and when affairs were most
desperate she offered to take the baby Fleur-de-lis and accompany her
husband, gathering the pennies in a tambourine, while he ground
so-called music from the piano with the left arm, that grew so weary in
the monotonous service. But there was not a trace of the mountebank in
Pierre Dupont, nor a drop of beggar's blood in his veins. He was poor
and crippled, but he had still the self-respecting pride of the peasant
whose people had served noble families, and who know what true nobility
is. He could injure the dead-and-gone Rastignacs, if he must, by
trundling about a second-hand street-piano, but he could at least spare
them the insult of adding a monkey or a woman to the procession. So
Maman Marie, loving him more than ever for his chivalrous regard of her,
took up an almost forgotten pastime of her girlhood, and fell to making
artificial flowers, which she sold to an old woman who stood on the
street corners and offered them to the passers-by.

The two rooms in the tenement house were as neat as care and thrift
could make them. The windows opened only into the court, it is true, but
Pierre and Marie did not need to look out of doors to get a pleasant
view, for they could look at each other, and at the baby; besides, the
glass was spotlessly clean and hung with equally spotless curtains. The
floors were uncarpeted, but there was never a speck of dust on them. The
little kitchen where Marie worked had a not unappetising fragrance from
the _pot-au-feu_ that simmered on the stove; it had also a gleam of
sunshine in it for a few hours each day. Sometimes when Pierre left his
incubus for half an hour and ran home for a mouthful of bread and soup,
he looked at Maman Marie sitting by her table in the sunshine, her
scissors gleaming among the paper-flower petals, and at Fleur-de-lis,
sitting at her feet playing with the rainbow-coloured scraps, and then
he fell on his knees beside them, and, putting his arm about them both,
forgot that it was the only one he had, forgot that he was poor and
crippled, and that the future was all uncertain, remembering only that
he had home and wife and child, and that life, with all its hardships,
was inexpressibly dear to him. For it happens, sometimes, that a poet's
soul is lodged in a very humble tenement, and a love that would do
honour to a knight blossoms and flourishes in the midst of mean and
pitiful surroundings.

[Illustration]

Fleur-de-lis's cradle had curtains made of a bit of tricolour, and from
the centre of the canopy there hung a medal of the Virgin swinging on a
narrow ribbon of blue. The cradle itself was a wooden box, and Marie,
with a maternal ingenuity that surmounted the lack of ordinary
materials, had lined the inside of the hood with tissue-paper flowers;
white and blue fleurs-de-lis to match those on the faded satin coverlet,
a fragment of ancient grandeur where the Rastignac coat-of-arms was
intertwined with the Bourbon lilies of France. And when the baby's
vagrant gaze wandered to the flowery heaven above her head, and her pink
fingers reached to touch it and to stroke the soft counterpane, Maman
Marie would tell her the name of the posies; and so after a time, when
she discovered that people and things possessed names, Marie Hortense
Amélie, Mademoiselle Bébé, elected to call herself Fleur-de-lis. It was
the first word she lisped, and she attached it to herself with the
utmost complacency. It was appropriate enough, for she looked as if she
might have been originally intended for a flower, and then somehow a
soul had strayed into the flower, and it had fluttered down to earth as
a child--a curious blossom to come from lowly stock, a kind of tender
and beautiful miracle wrought out of common clay by the fashioning and
refining power of love. At times, when Marie sat at her work and looked
at Fleur-de-lis cooing and smiling under her tri-coloured curtains, she
forgot the strange land outside the windows, and the Babel of strange
tongues in the crowded tenement, and as her deft, brown fingers shaped
the tissue flowers, she saw in fancy the poppies and the wheat and the
lilies of her native Breton fields. She saw the sun shining on the old
château, her mother hanging a chaplet on the baron's tomb in the little
oratory, the aged baroness walking sadly in the pleasance. All, all were
gone. The château was dismantled. The proud old family, rooted for
centuries to the soil of Brittany, had gradually lost its land and its
riches, till now there was only one frail old dame, poor and childless,
to maintain the ancient title. All these memories, half sad, half sweet,
flitted in and out of Marie's mind as she snipped and trimmed and
twisted and shaped, her head on one side to view the result, like a
little brown pheasant regarding a berry; and if Fleur-de-lis slept, she
hummed a Breton lullaby as she twined her paper nosegays. What wonder,
then, that there was a French air about them that attracted purchasers?

[Illustration]

So "hope clad in April green" made life worth living for father and
mother; and, as for Fleur-de-lis, she was a child; and she had love, and
that was enough, and it is sad when we grow so old that it does not
suffice for us. But these days, so full of care and anxiety, of
weariness and self-denial tinged with happiness, came to an end; for
when Fleur-de-lis was two years old, Maman Marie, young and strong,
passionately in love with life, desperately needed by husband and
child, had to leave them, to journey on alone to another far country,
having just grown wonted to this.

Then the light went out of the two little rooms that had been home;
indeed, it seemed to go out of the world altogether. Hard times and yet
harder ones descended upon poor Pierre Dupont. Marie's earnings no
longer helped to swell the slender income, and there were no willing
woman's hands to cut and plan and save, to contrive and embellish. Added
to this, the piano suddenly grew uncertain, and subject to grave musical
lapses, attacks of aphasia in the middle of some tunes, and of asthma in
the middle of others; so that the hoot of the stony-hearted bystander
and the ruffianly small boy became familiar to Pierre's ears; for he
could not afford to buy new cylinders to fit into the old instrument,
and to keep it up to the demands of the street, which is always
delighted if you "cannot sing the old songs," and wishes the latest
melody to the exclusion of everything else.

[Illustration]

Fleur-de-lis had been left in the care of a woman for many weeks after
Marie's death, but the sight of her tear-stained face at night, the
tender frenzy with which she lifted her arms to her father when he came
in, the sob of joy with which she buried her head in his coat, the sigh
of content with which she stroked his cheek between every mouthful of
bread and milk as she sat on his knee eating her meagre supper--all this
was too much for his loving heart. He had a small sum of money that he
had been hoarding to attach "Annie Rooney" and "Comrades" to his
unfashionable instrument, that he might appease the public by the
gratification of its darling wishes, and withdraw the Boulanger march
from its sated ears. This money he took and went to a carpenter's shop
in the neighbourhood. After many explanations in his broken English, and
many diagrams rudely drawn on paper, the carpenter succeeded in building
a primitive sort of baby-carriage on one end of the street-piano. It had
two wheels of its own, and moved somewhat in harmony with the ancient
instrument, which had its difficulties of locomotion nowadays, as well
as its musical weaknesses. It had a drawer in which Fleur-de-lis's
playthings were kept--a battered doll, and boxes of her favourite scraps
of bright tissue-paper, the top of an old cotton umbrella, and a square
of rubber cloth like that which covered the piano when it rained. Here
Fleur-de-lis sat for many hours each day, happy and content. Pierre
would often take her out, and let her toddle by his side until she was
tired, when she would ascend her throne again. She wore a faded corduroy
jacket and an old woollen cap, but the flower-face that smiled above
the one, and the shower of chestnut hair that fell from beneath the
other, made you forget the poverty of her raiment. She was always clean
and sweet and comfortable, for Pierre, with the gentleness and patience
of a woman, washed and even mended, in a rough sort of a way, that the
child might not wholly miss a mother's care.

[Illustration]

Matters were going on in this way, rather from bad to worse, when one
November day father and child turned off a side-street, and trundled
into one of the fashionable avenues of the city. Pierre did not often
wheel his piano in front of brown-stone houses; it was too old and
wheezy to commend itself to localities accustomed to Seidl's orchestra
and the Hungarian band; but he scarcely knew to-day whither his aimless
feet were carrying him. For two weeks he had gone out in the early
morning and evening, leaving Fleur-de-lis asleep, and had spent an hour
or two in a vain quest for employment. But his speech was broken, and he
had only one arm--small wonder that he failed when hundreds of men with
two arms and nimbler tongues were seeking the same thing and failing.
People generally told him that he ought to have stayed at home in his
own country, where he belonged; but that, as he had not done that, his
next best plan was to get back there at the earliest possible moment. If
they had had time to hear his justification for cumbering the earth of
this free country, he might have told them that he left France a strong
young man, with a strong young wife, and nearly fifteen hundred francs
for the inevitable rainy day; but that the rainy day had turned out to
be a continual downpour. He was wondering in a dull, vague sort of way,
as they rattled along over the cobblestones, why there was not bread for
the mouths that needed it. He wondered why, through no fault of his own,
he should have been maimed and crippled, why the loss of wife should
have followed the loss of limb, why there was not enough work in the
world for the people who were willing to do it, why the children in the
luxurious carriages that swept past him should be swathed in furs while
Fleur-de-lis's hands were blue in her ragged mittens.

The universe was a mystery to Pierre Dupont. Search it as he might, he
could find no key to its curious distribution of miseries and
injustices. It seemed to him that, if some people would be content to
take a little less, there might be a little more for him; but he was by
no means certain of the soundness of this comfortable theory. A little
less gold plate on that harness, for instance, a yard less of lace on
the gown of that lady just stepping into her brougham, a single diamond
from her marquise ring--no, that superficial and snarling philosophy
did not help Pierre; there was neither envy nor rage in his heart as
yet; only a dull despair, a groping in the dark for a reason. Many of
these fortunate people, he supposed, deserved their fortunes, and had
earned them. They were cleverer than he, and had friends and
opportunities not vouchsafed, perhaps, to him. But why, since he was not
clever, and since he had neither friends nor opportunities, should he
have been deprived first of his principal means of self-support, and
then of his consolation, his courage, his other and braver self?

[Illustration]

And now it was the anniversary of Marie's death. That made the day even
harder to bear; for in some subtle way the remembrance of certain hours
or moments in a dear dead past is always more bitter when we say to
ourselves with a sigh, "It was just a year ago." Nature was in no
buoyant mood. A cold, drizzling rain, which ought to have been snow,
fell from time to time. The chill dampness made people draw their wraps
closer, and look drearily at the sky. Even the children appeared less
joyous than usual. Men turned up the bottoms of their trousers and the
collars of their coats, and hurried past one another with a gruff nod
that would have been a smile on a sunny day. The bare branches of the
trees shivered in the wind, and a few snowbirds huddled themselves
together cheerlessly here and there, as if even they wished themselves
farther south.

Pierre took out the rubber-cloth to cover his piano, and as he did so he
saw two children at the second story of a fine house near by. He
expected to be ordered away by a butler in livery at the moment he
disclosed the limitations of his musical instrument, but one could never
tell, the butler might be wooing the parlour-maid, so he drew up in
front of the drive-way. Fleur-de-lis had just walked several blocks,
and, on being lifted into her carriage, hoisted the dilapidated cotton
umbrella and wrapped her doll in an extra bit of calico. Pierre turned
the crank; the piano began on "Love's Young Dream." It seemed to him
that, with every revolution of the handle, he twisted the chords of his
aching heart, and that presently it would break, as the battered old
cylinders threatened to do, and for the same reason; because, alas! too
many tunes had been played upon them. When ill-fortune descends too
thick and fast upon the human spirit, unless it can draw fresh
accessions of strength from within, from without, from above, it sinks
inevitably into despair. Man may be conscious that he is made in the
image of God, fitted to endure, to conquer, all things, but for the time
he is common human clay, he faints and dies, or falls into a cowardly
lethargy that is worse than death. Such a moment had come to Pierre
Dupont. In his first crushing blow he had had a wife to stand shoulder
to shoulder with him. He had now his passionate devotion to his child;
but in cold and weariness, in hunger and friendlessness, ill-fortune and
despair, would love be able to keep itself pure, noble, self-denying,
hopeful? There were ways of forgetting, of dulling one's self, of
blotting out memory for hours together.

His wants were comparatively simple; but, since he could not realise
them, why not give up the struggle? He did not wish for a carriage or a
palace; he wished to give up his vagrant life for some labour by which
he could maintain himself and give his child a start towards honest
womanhood. That was not extravagant, surely, and if God were indeed in
His heaven, and all were indeed right with the world, it seemed to
Pierre that it was none too much to ask.

He finished "Love's Young Dream," and began the "Boulanger March." A
young girl of eighteen or nineteen, with an open book in her hand,
joined the children at the window. She had a beautiful, rather serious
face, and it brightened into amusement, and then into earnestness, as
she caught sight of the quaint vehicle, of the child under the faded
umbrella, and of the empty sleeve of the musician. Pierre ground on
mechanically; it was "I dreamt that I dwelt in Marble Halls" now, and he
hoped that a dime would be flung from the window before he came to
"Within a Mile of Edinboro' Town," for that was the weakest part of his
repertoire. The group still stayed at the window, and the crisis could
not be delayed. The piano jerked through several bars, stopped and
repeated, wheezed and returned to the "Boulanger March," then bounded
again to "Edinboro' Town," and, after several ineffectual attempts to
finish it, made an asthmatic dash into "No One to Love." Pierre looked
anxiously under the _porte-cochère_ for the resentful butler; but the
children shrieked with renewed delight, and the young girl, going away
from the window, presently appeared, running down the drive-way, and
slipping on her jacket as she came. She approached the edge of the
side-walk, for there was no group about the piano, and, after a brief
interview with Pierre, she left a piece of silver with him, and went
upstairs to her mother.

Janet Gordon was a great anxiety to her family. She was possessed of the
most extraordinary ideas, and no one could tell whence they came, unless
she became infected by them in some mysterious fashion, as one is by
microbes; at all events, she had never inherited them in the legitimate
way. At present, it is true, she had not been introduced to society, but
unless a great change of heart should make itself apparent in a few
months, she threatened to be no ornament to her set, and no source of
pride to an ambitious mother.

[Illustration]

"Please look out of the window, mama," she said, bringing a breath of
raw air into her mother's flower-scented sitting-room.

Mrs. Gordon rose languidly, her tea-gown trailing behind her. "What is
it? Anything more than an organ-grinder who has been rasping my nerves
for five minutes? Oh, I see what you mean; what an extraordinary
combination--a child in one end of the machine! Tell Héloise to give the
man a dime, dear."

"I have given him a quarter myself, and have had a little talk with him;
he is quite different from the ordinary organ-grinder, mama."

"Oh, of course," said Mrs. Gordon good-naturedly; "all your geese are
swans, dear; a dime was quite enough for him."

"But he has only one arm, you see, mama."

"Of course, they never have; that is one of the tricks of the trade.
They bind one arm down to the side, and then slip the coat over it. If
you notice the man to-morrow he will have the left sleeve hanging empty,
and be playing with the right arm--it is more effective."

"I'm sure there is no deception in this case, mama."

"Well, have it your own way, child; but pray don't take off his coat to
investigate, or you'll be catching some dreadful disease. It does seem
strange that poor people should always be so odiously dirty, when water
costs nothing."

"This man is as clean as possible, and so is the baby. Her name is
Fleur-de-lis; is it not quaint?"

"Just what I should expect; the dirtier and commoner they are, the more
regal and fanciful are the names they give their children. I suppose
your Fleur-de-lis is redolent of garlic, like the Pansies and Violets of
her class."

"No, she is not. She is as sweet as a rose; but her face is almost blue
with cold."

"Of course; what can the man expect if he trundles her about in this
weather? But I suppose he does it to enlist public sympathy. I wonder
why foreigners choose this particularly obnoxious way of getting a
living; and, if they must do it, why they go about with a decrepit old
instrument like that."

[Illustration]

"Yes, his piano is very old, but he cannot afford to rent a better one
just at present. He said, in his broken English, 'I had not the "Marche
Boulanger," neither "Comrades," ma'mselle; it was then I had what you
call bad luck, and now, _mon Dieu!_ it is that I have not
"Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."' And, as for the child, he does not allow her to
take the money. I was dropping the quarter into her hand, when he
touched his cap, and said, '_Pardon_, give it to me, ma'mselle, _s'il
vous plaît_. You see, if ze monees keep putting in her hand she will
grow up one leetle beggair; she does not make ze muzeek, she does not
push ze piano--_bien_, she s'all not take zee monees."

"Extraordinary!" murmured Mrs. Gordon satirically, as she fitted the
cushions to her back more luxuriously; "you must repeat that speech to
your father. I actually believe that a new order of philosophic
mendicant is springing up to match the new charity. The new charity does
not wish to pauperise poverty, and the new poverty does not wish to be
pauperised; it is really very amusing."

"He is forced to take the child with him, because she has no mother,"
explained Janet.

"Of course she has no mother; they make it a point to have no mother,
or, if they have, they say they never knew who she was nor where she
is."

"They know where this mother is," said Janet gravely, "for she died a
year ago to-day."

[Illustration]

"Really, Janet, you exasperate me beyond measure, talking with these low
people, and allowing them to fill your mind with their falsehoods. What
is it you wish to do? You have given the man a quarter already; that
will quench his thirst for the present--Héloise, don't take Fifine out
without her blanket; she has been shivering on the rug before the fire.
Go back to your books, Janet. There will always be poor organ-grinders,
and most of them will have lost some of their arms or legs, and all of
them will have motherless, or worse than motherless, children. It's the
way of the world, and if you had the wealth of the Indies you could
never set things right--and, Héloise, come back a moment; tell Madame
Labiche that all three gowns must be sent home to-morrow; and that I
shall give her no more orders if she copies any detail of my costumes
for her other customers; and don't forget the American Beauties, two
dozen, the longest stems, and give that piano-child at the gate ten
cents more as you pass--I know it is not right, Janet, but you are so
insistent. The societies tell you never to bestow alms without first
looking into the case and finding whether it is really deserving; but I
am too weakly benevolent, and too lazy, besides, ever to
restrain--Janet, are you mad? Close that window at once!" And Mrs.
Gordon almost shrieked as she held down her frizzes with both hands to
shield them from the raw wind that rushed in from outside. She would not
have spoken so peremptorily had it not been for the effect of the damp
air on her coiffure. When her front hair was crimped and protected from
the assaults of the atmosphere she was an amiable woman and could
discuss any subject with calmness; but, deprive her of twenty little
gold-wire hair-pins daintily darned into her auburn frizzes, and the
invisible hair-net that Héloise pinned on with such nicety, and she
would not have listened to any argument in the world, even if it
concerned the salvation of her own soul.

"I was only going to speak a word to the man, mama," said Janet
apologetically.

"I believe you've been reading Tolstoi," returned her mother, going to a
mirror to repair damages. "Heavens! what a fright you've made me! I wish
those Russians would keep their universal brotherhood ideas, and their
cholera germs, at home."

"Dear mama, I scarcely know who Tolstoi is, except that he wrote a novel
about Anna somebody that you will not let me read. I do not know what
Tolstoi thinks about the wrong in the world, or how he means to right
it. I am not as sentimental as you and papa seem to fancy. I am not
certain that I ought to wrap that cold little child in my new seal
jacket, and run bare-headed by the side of the organ collecting pennies
for the poor one-armed man. I know that if I should go down into the
slums I should find a thousand others, and that if I worked from year's
end to year's end, and spent papa's entire fortune, I could not make
them all comfortable. But don't you believe, mama, when, once in a
while, need, poverty, and sorrow seem to come directly in contact with
plenty and riches and happiness, that it means something, and that we
ought to stop and think out something special?"

"Oh, I'm sure I don't know, child; you confuse me so with your
persistence, and I can't think of anything while he sticks fast in the
middle of 'Edinboro' Town.' Give him half a dollar, if you
like--anything to get rid of him, though he succeeds wonderfully in
amusing the children."

"I don't want to give him any more money, mama," said Janet, with a
sigh. "I only feel as if I must not lose sight of the child--there they
are going!"

Pierre covered his piano, pinned the rubber-cloth more tightly round
Fleur-de-lis's throat, and was preparing to move off in the direction of
home, when Janet darted into the nursery, and, flinging open the window
in front of the children, called impetuously in her clear young voice;
"Bon soir, Fleur-de-lis! Bon soir, monsieur! Revenez bientôt, je vous
prie!"

[Illustration]

Pierre's face lighted with surprise and pleasure, and, as he took off
his cap he stammered excitedly, "Dis bon soir, bébé! Je vous remercis
mille-fois, ma'mselle; je reviendrai!"

He wheeled his piano to the shed where he kept it under cover at night,
and carried Fleur-de-lis home on his arm. After he had undressed her and
laid her in her crib, he took a crucifix from a drawer where, in a
moment of bitterness, he had hidden it the day before, and, kissing it,
restored it to its accustomed place above the head of his bed.

And the anniversary of Marie's death did not go out in utter blackness
after all; nor was it entirely because of the two pieces of silver that
had unexpectedly swelled the day's receipts. He had felt the magic of a
friendly voice; the beautiful little lady had spoken to him in his
native tongue; she had drawn a fragment of his story from him, and thus
relieved the weight at his heart; she had smiled on the child, and
kissed her; she had asked him to come again. And as he fell asleep he
whispered, "Merci, mille-fois, ma'mselle; je reviendrai."

[Illustration]

     _Published by Hodder & Stoughton, St. Paul's House,
     Warwick Square, London, B.C., and printed in Great
     Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld., London and
     Aylesbury. Ten Colour Plates engraved and printed by
     Henry Stone & Son, Ld., Banbury and London, and four by
     the Bushey Colour Press._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious punctuation errors repaired.

Page 56, "abear" changed to "bear" (I can't bear)

Page 125, "their" changed to "there" (there is only our)

Page 125, "Barbette" changed to "Babette" (Babette, the elderly)

Page 138, "air" changed to "hair" (her front hair was)

FOOTNOTES:

FOOTNOTES:





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