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Title: The Amateur Gentleman
Author: Farnol, Jeffery, 1878-1952
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Amateur Gentleman" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE AMATEUR GENTLEMAN

BY

JEFFERY FARNOL

AUTHOR OF "THE BROAD HIGHWAY"

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY

HERMAN PFEIFER



TO MY FATHER WHO HAS EVER CHOSEN THE "HARDER WAY,"
WHICH IS A PATH THAT CAN BE TRODDEN ONLY BY THE FOOT OF A MAN



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

      I  In which Barnabas Knocks Down his Father, though as Dutifully as
         may be.

     II  In which is Much Unpleasing Matter regarding Silk Purses, Sows'
         Ears, Men, and Gentlemen.

    III  How Barnabas Set Out for London Town.

     IV  How Barnabas Fell In with a Pedler of Books, and Purchased a
         "Priceless Wollum".

      V  In which the Historian Sees Fit to Introduce a Lady of Quality;
         and Further Narrates How Barnabas Tore a Wonderful Bottle-green
         Coat.

     VI  Of the Bewitchment of Black Eyelashes; and of a Fateful Lace
         Handkerchief

    VII  In which may be Found Divers Rules and Maxims for the Art of
         Bowing.

   VIII  Concerning the Captain's Arm, the Bo'sun's Leg, and the
         "Belisarius," Seventy-four.

     IX  Which Concerns Itself, among Other Matters, with the Virtues
         of a Pair of Stocks and the Perversity of Fathers.

      X  Which Describes a Peripatetic Conversation.

     XI  In which Fists are Clenched; and of a Selfish Man, who was an
         Apostle of Peace.

    XII  Of the Stranger's Tale, which, being Short, may perhaps Meet
         with the Reader's Kind Approbation.

   XIII  In which Barnabas Makes a Confession.

    XIV  Concerning the Buttons of One Milo of Crotona.

     XV  In which the Patient Reader may Learn Something of the Gentleman
         in the Jaunty Hat.

    XVI  In which Barnabas Engages One without a Character.

   XVII  In which Barnabas Parts Company with the Person of Quality.

  XVIII  How Barnabas Came to Oakshott's Barn.

    XIX  Which Tells How Barnabas Talks with my Lady Cleone for the
         Second Time.

     XX  Of the Prophecy of One Billy Button, a Madman.

    XXI  In which Barnabas Undertakes a Mission.

   XXII  In which the Reader is Introduced to an Ancient Finger-post.

  XXIII  How Barnabas Saved his Life--because he was Afraid.

   XXIV  Which Relates Something of the "White Lion" at Tenterden.

    XXV  Of the Coachman's Story.

   XXVI  Concerning the Duties of a Valet--and a Man.

  XXVII  How Barnabas Bought an Unridable Horse--and Rode it.

 XXVIII  Concerning, among Other Things, the Legs of a
         Gentleman-in-powder.

   XXIX  Which Describes Something of the Misfortunes of Ronald
         Barrymaine.

    XXX  In which Ronald Barrymaine Makes his Choice.

   XXXI  Which Describes some of the Evils of Vindictiveness.

  XXXII  Of Corporal Richard Roe, late of the Grenadiers; and Further
         Concerning Mr. Shrig's Little Reader.

 XXXIII  Concerning the Duty of Fathers; more Especially the
         Viscount's "Roman".

  XXXIV  Of the Luck of Captain Slingsby, of the Guards.

   XXXV  How Barnabas Met Jasper Gaunt, and what Came of It.

  XXXVI  Of an Ethical Discussion, which the Reader is Advised to Skip.

 XXXVII  In which the Bo'sun Discourses on Love and its Symptoms.

XXXVIII  How Barnabas Climbed a Wall.

  XXXIX  In which the Patient Reader is Introduced to an Almost Human
         Duchess.

     XL  Which Relates Sundry Happenings at the Garden Fête.

    XLI  In which Barnabas Makes a Surprising Discovery, that may not
         Surprise the Reader in the Least.

   XLII  In which shall be Found Further Mention of a Finger-post.

  XLIII  In which Barnabas Makes a Bet, and Receives a Warning.

   XLIV  Of the Tribulations of the Legs of the Gentleman-in-powder.

    XLV  How Barnabas Sought Counsel of the Duchess.

   XLVI  Which Concerns Itself with Small Things in General, and a
         Pebble in Particular.

  XLVII  How Barnabas Found his Manhood.

 XLVIII  In which "The Terror," Hitherto Known as "Four-Legs,"
         Justifies his New Name.

   XLIX  Which, being Somewhat Important, is Consequently Short.

      L  In which Ronald Barrymaine Speaks his Mind.

     LI  Which Tells How and Why Mr. Shrig's Case was Spoiled.

    LII  Of a Breakfast, a Roman Parent, and a Kiss.

   LIII  In which shall be Found some Account of the Gentleman's
         Steeplechase.

    LIV  Which Concerns itself Chiefly with a Letter.

     LV  Which Narrates Sundry Happenings at Oakshott's Barn.

    LVI  Of the Gathering of the Shadows.

   LVII  Being a Parenthetical Chapter on Doubt, which, though
         Uninteresting, is very Short.

  LVIII  How Viscount Devenham Found him a Viscountess.

    LIX  Which Relates, among other Things, How Barnabas Lost his Hat.

     LX  Which Tells of a Reconciliation.

    LXI  How Barnabas Went to his Triumph.

   LXII  Which Tells How Barnabas Triumphed in Spite of All.

  LXIII  Which Tells How Barnabas Heard the Ticking of a Clock.

   LXIV  Which Shows Something of the Horrors of Remorse.

    LXV  Which Tells How Barnabas Discharged his Valet.

   LXVI  Of Certain Con-clusions Drawn by Mr. Shrig.

  LXVII  Which Gives some Account of the Worst Place in the World.

 LXVIII  Concerning the Identity of Mr. Bimby's Guest.

   LXIX  How Barnabas Led a Hue and Cry.

    LXX  Which Tells How Barnabas Rode Another Race.

   LXXI  Which Tells How Barnabas, in his Folly, Chose the Harder Course.

  LXXII  How Ronald Barrymaine Squared his Account.

 LXXIII  Which Recounts Three Awakenings.

  LXXIV  How the Duchess Made up her Mind, and Barnabas Did the Like.

   LXXV  Which Tells Why Barnabas Forgot his Breakfast.

  LXXVI  How the Viscount Proposed a Toast.

 LXXVII  How Barnabas Rode Homewards, and Took Counsel of a Pedler
         of Books.

LXXVIII  Which Tells How Barnabas Came Home Again, and How he Awoke
         for the Fourth Time.



ILLUSTRATIONS


Barnabas frowned, tore the letter across in sudden fury, and looked
up to find Cleone frowning also.

"Man Jack, 't is proud you should be to lie there."

"Oh, sir, I grieve to disappoint you," said she, and rose.

"Let me pass, I warn you!" For a minute they fronted each other, eye
to eye.

"But this is murder--positive murder!" cried Mr. Dalton.

Sir Mortimer paused, and with a sudden gesture tore the rose from
his coat and tossed it away.

"So you meant to buy me, sir, as you would a horse or dog?"

All at once, Sir Mortimer was on his feet and had caught up a heavy
riding-whip.

Barnabas espied a face amid the hurrying throng



CHAPTER I


IN WHICH BABNABAS KNOCKS DOWN HIS FATHER,
THOUGH AS DUTIFULLY AS MAY BE

John Barty, ex-champion of England and landlord of the "Coursing
Hound," sat screwed round in his chair with his eyes yet turned to
the door that had closed after the departing lawyer fully five
minutes ago, and his eyes were wide and blank, and his mouth (grim
and close-lipped as a rule) gaped, becoming aware of which, he
closed it with a snap, and passed a great knotted fist across his
brow.

"Barnabas," said he slowly, "I beant asleep an' dreaming be I,
Barnabas?"

"No, father!"

"But--seven--'undred--thousand--pound. It were seven--'undred
thousand pound, weren't it, Barnabas?"

"Yes, father!"

"Seven--'undred--thou--! No! I can't believe it, Barnabas my bye."

"Neither can I, father," said Barnabas, still staring down at the
papers which littered the table before him.

"Nor I aren't a-going to try to believe it, Barnabas."

"And yet--here it is, all written down in black and white, and you
heard what Mr. Crabtree said?"

"Ah,--I heered, but arter all Crabtree's only a lawyer--though
a good un as lawyers go, always been honest an' square wi'
me--leastways I 've never caught him trying to bamboozle John Barty
yet--an' what the eye don't ob-serve the heart don't grieve,
Barnabas my bye, an' there y'are. But seven 'undred thousand pound
is coming it a bit too strong--if he'd ha' knocked off a few 'undred
thousand I could ha' took it easier Barnabas, but, as it is--no,
Barnabas!"

"It's a great fortune!" said Barnabas in the same repressed tone and
with his eyes still intent.

"Fortun'," repeated the father, "fortun'--it's fetched me one in the
ribs--low, Barnabas, low!--it's took my wind an' I'm a-hanging on to
the ropes, lad. Why, Lord love me! I never thought as your uncle Tom
'ad it in him to keep hisself from starving, let alone make a fortun'!
My scapegrace brother Tom--poor Tom as sailed away in a emigrant
ship (which is a un-common bad kind of a ship to sail in--so I've
heered, Barnabas) an' now, to think as he went an' made all that
fortun'--away off in Jamaiky--out o' vegetables."

"And lucky speculation, father--!"

"Now, Barnabas," exclaimed his father, beginning to rasp his fingers
to and fro across his great, square, shaven chin, "why argufy? Your
uncle Tom was a planter--very well! Why is a man a planter--because
he plants things, an' what should a man plant but vegetables? So
Barnabas, vegetables I says, an' vegetables I abide by, now an'
hereafter. Seven 'undred thousand pound all made in Jamaiky--out o'
vegetables--an' there y' are!"

Here John Barty paused and sat with his chin 'twixt finger and thumb
in expectation of his son's rejoinder, but finding him silent, he
presently continued:

"Now what astonishes an' fetches me a leveller as fair doubles me up
is--why should my brother Tom leave all this money to a young hop o'
me thumb like you, Barnabas? you, as he never see but once and you
then a infant (and large for your age) in your blessed mother's arms,
Barnabas, a-kicking an' a-squaring away wi' your little pink fists
as proper as ever I seen inside the Ring or out. Ah, Barnabas!"
sighed his father shaking his head at him, "you was a promising
infant, likewise a promising bye; me an' Natty Bell had great hopes
of ye, Barnabas; if you'd been governed by me and Natty Bell you
might ha' done us all proud in the Prize Ring. You was cut out for
the 'Fancy.' Why, Lord! you might even ha' come to be Champion o'
England in time--you 're the very spit o' what I was when I beat
the Fighting Quaker at Dartford thirty years ago."

"But you see, father--"

"That was why me an' Natty Bell took you in hand--learned you all
we knowed o' the game--an' there aren't a fighting man in all
England as knows so much about the Noble Art as me an' Natty Bell."

"But father--"

"If you 'd only followed your nat'ral gifts, Barnabas, I say you
might ha' been Champion of England to-day, wi' Markisses an' Lords
an' Earls proud to shake your hand--if you'd only been ruled by
Natty Bell an' me, I'm disappointed in ye, Barnabas--an' so's Natty
Bell."

"I'm sorry, father--but as I told you--"

"Still Barnabas, what ain't to be, ain't--an' what is, is. Some is
born wi' a nat'ral love o' the 'Fancy' an' gift for the game, like
me an' Natty Bell--an' some wi' a love for reading out o' books an'
a-cyphering into books--like you: though a reader an' a writer
generally has a hard time on it an' dies poor--which, arter all, is
only nat'ral--an' there y' are!"

Here John Barty paused to take up the tankard of ale at his elbow,
and pursed up his lips to blow off the foam, but in that moment,
observing his son about to speak, he immediately set down the ale
untasted and continued:

"Not as I quarrels wi' your reading and writing, Barnabas, no, and
because why? Because reading and writing is apt to be useful now an'
then, and because it were a promise--as I made--to--your mother.
When--your mother were alive, Barnabas, she used to keep all my
accounts for me. She likewise larned me to spell my own name wi' a
capital G for John, an' a capital B for Barty, an' when she died,
Barnabas (being a infant, you don't remember), but when she died, lad!
I was that lost--that broke an' helpless, that all the fight were
took out o' me, and it's a wonder I didn't throw up the sponge
altogether. Ah! an' it's likely I should ha' done but for Natty Bell."

"Yes, father--"

"No man ever 'ad a better friend than Natty Bell--Ah! yes, though I
did beat him out o' the Championship which come very nigh breaking
his heart at the time, Barnabas; but--as I says to him that day as
they carried him out of the ring--it was arter the ninety-seventh
round, d' ye see, Barnabas--'what is to be, is, Natty Bell,' I says,
'an' what ain't, ain't. It were ordained,' I says, 'as I should be
Champion o' England,' I says--'an' as you an' me should be
friends--now an' hereafter,' I says--an' right good friends we have
been, as you know, Barnabas."

"Indeed, yes, father," said Barnabas, with another vain attempt to
stem his father's volubility.

"But your mother, Barnabas, your mother, God rest her sweet
soul!--your mother weren't like me--no nor Natty Bell--she were
away up over me an' the likes o' me--a wonderful scholard she were,
an'--when she died, Barnabas--" here the ex-champion's voice grew
uncertain and his steady gaze wavered--sought the sanded floor--the
raftered ceiling--wandered down the wall and eventually fixed upon
the bell-mouthed blunderbuss that hung above the mantel, "when she
died," he continued, "she made me promise as you should be taught to
read an' cypher--an' taught I've had you according--for a promise is
a promise, Barnabas--an' there y' are."

"For which I can never be sufficiently grateful, both to her--and to
you!" said Barnabas, who sat with his chin propped upon his hand,
gazing through the open lattice to where the broad white road wound
away betwixt blooming hedges, growing ever narrower till it vanished
over the brow of a distant hill. "Not as I holds wi' eddication
myself, Barnabas, as you know," pursued his father, "but that's why
you was sent to school, that's why me an' Natty Bell sat by quiet
an' watched ye at your books. Sometimes when I've seen you
a-stooping your back over your reading, or cramping your fist
round a pen, Barnabas, why--I've took it hard, Barnabas, hard,
I'll not deny--But Natty Bell has minded me as it was her wish and
so--why--there y' are."

It was seldom his father mentioned to Barnabas the mother whose face
he had never seen, upon which rare occasions John Barty's deep voice
was wont to take on a hoarser note, and his blue eyes, that were
usually so steady, would go wandering off until they fixed themselves
on some remote object. Thus he sat now, leaning back in his elbow
chair, gazing in rapt attention at the bell-mouthed blunderbuss
above the mantel, while his son, chin on fist, stared always and
ever to where the road dipped, and vanished over the hill--leading
on and on to London, and the great world beyond.

"She died, Barnabas--just twenty-one years ago--buried at Maidstone
where you were born. Twenty-one years is a longish time, lad, but
memory's longer, an' deeper,--an' stronger than time, arter all, an'
I know that her memory will go wi' me--all along the way--d' ye see
lad: and so Barnabas," said John Barty lowering his gaze to his
son's face, "so Barnabas, there y' are."

"Yes, father!" nodded Barnabas, still intent upon the road.

"And now I come to your uncle Tom--an' speaking of him--Barnabas my
lad,--what are ye going to do wi' all this money?"

Barnabas turned from the window and met his father's eye.

"Do with it," he began, "why first of all--"

"Because," pursued his father, "we might buy the 'White Hart'--t' other
side o' Sevenoaks,--to be sure you're over young to have any say in
the matter--still arter all the money's yours, Barnabas--what d' ye
say to the 'White Hart'?"

"A very good house!" nodded Barnabas, stealing a glance at the road
again--"but--"

"To be sure there's the 'Running Horse,'" said his father, "just
beyond Purley on the Brighton Road--a coaching-house, wi' plenty o'
custom, what d' ye think o' the 'Running Horse'?"

"Any one you choose, father, but--"

"Then there's the 'Sun in the Sands' on Shooter's Hill--a fine inn
an' not to be sneezed at, Barnabas--we might take that."

"Just as you wish, father, only--"

"Though I've often thought the 'Greyhound' at Croydon would be a
comfortable house to own."

"Buy whichever you choose, father, it will be all one to me!"

"Good lad!" nodded John, "you can leave it all to Natty Bell an' me."

"Yes," said Barnabas, rising and fronting his father across the table,
"you see I intend to go away, sir."

"Eh?" exclaimed his father, staring--"go away--where to?"

"To London!"

"London? and what should you want in London--a slip of a lad like you?"

"I'm turned twenty-two, father!"

"And what should a slip of a lad of twenty-two want in London? You
leave London alone, Barnabas. London indeed! what should you want
wi' London?"

"Learn to be a gentleman."

"A--what?" As he spoke, John Barty rose up out of his chair, his
eyes wide, his mouth agape with utter astonishment. As he
encountered his son's look, however, his expression slowly changed
from amazement to contempt, from contempt to growing ridicule, and
from ridicule to black anger. John Barty was a very tall man, broad
and massive, but, even so, he had to look up to Barnabas as they
faced each other across the table. And as they stood thus eye to eye,
the resemblance between them was marked. Each possessed the same
indomitable jaw, the same square brow and compelling eyes, the same
grim prominence of chin; but there all likeness ended. In Barnabas
the high carriage of the head, the soft brilliancy of the full,
well-opened gray eye, the curve of the sensitive nostrils, the sweet
set of the firm, shapely mouth--all were the heritage of that mother
who was to him but a vague memory. But now while John Barty frowned
upon his son, Barnabas frowned back at his father, and the added
grimness of his chin offset the sweetness of the mouth above.

"Barnabas," said his father at last, "did you say a--gentleman,
Barnabas?"

"Yes."

"What--you?" Here John Barty's frown vanished suddenly and,
expanding his great chest, he threw back his head and roared with
laughter. Barnabas clenched his fists, and his mouth lost something
of its sweetness, and his eyes glinted through their curving lashes,
while his father laughed and laughed till the place rang again,
which of itself stung Barnabas sharper than any blow could have done.

But now having had his laugh out, John Barty frowned again blacker
than ever, and resting his two hands upon the table, leaned towards
Barnabas with his great, square chin jutted forward, and his
deep-set eyes narrowed to shining slits--the "fighting face" that had
daunted many a man ere now.

"So you want to be a gentleman--hey?"

"Yes."

"You aren't crazed in your 'ead, are ye, Barnabas?"

"Not that I know of, father."

"This here fortun' then--it's been an' turned your brain, that's
what it is."

Barnabas smiled and shook his head.

"Listen, father," said he, "it has always been the dream and
ambition of my life to better my condition, to strive for a higher
place in the world--to be a gentleman. This was why I refused to
become a pugilist, as you and Natty Bell desired, this was why I
worked and studied--ah! a great deal harder than you ever
guessed--though up till to-day I hardly dared hope my dream would
ever be realized--but now--"

"Now you want to go to London and be a gentleman--hey?"

"Yes."

"Which all comes along o' your reading o' fool book! Why, Lord! you
can no more become a gentleman than I can or the--blunderbuss yonder.
And because why? Because a gentleman must be a gentleman born, and
his father afore him, and _his_ father afore him. You, Barnabas, you
was born the son of a Champion of England, an' that should be enough
for most lads; but your head's chock full o' fool's notions an'
crazy fancies, an' as your lawful father it's my bounden duty to get
'em out again, Barnabas my lad." So saying, John Barty proceeded to
take off his coat and belcher neckerchief, and rolled his shirt
sleeves over his mighty forearms, motioning Barnabas to do the like.

"A father's duty be a very solemn thing, Barnabas," he continued
slowly, "an' your 'ead being (as I say) full o' wild idees, I'm
going to try to punch 'em out again as a well-meaning father should,
so help me back wi' the table out o' the road, an' off wi' your coat
and neckercher."

Well knowing the utter futility of argument with his father at such
a time, Barnabas obediently helped to set back the table, thus
leaving the floor clear, which done, he, in turn, stripped off coat
and neckcloth, and rolled up his sleeves, while his father watched
him with sharply appraising eye.

"You peel well, Barnabas," he nodded. "You peel like a fighting man,
you've a tidy arm an' a goodish spread o' shoulder, likewise your
legs is clean an' straight, but your skin's womanish, Barnabas,
womanish, an' your muscles soft wi' books. So, lad!--are ye ready?
Then come on."

Thus, without more ado they faced each other foot to foot,
bare-armed and alert of eye. For a moment they sparred watchfully,
then John Barty feinted Barnabas into an opening, in that same
moment his fist shot out and Barnabas measured his length on the
floor.

"Ah--I knowed as much!" John sighed mournfully as he aided Barnabas
to his feet, "and 't were only a love-tap, so to speak,--this is
what comes o' your book reading."

"Try me again," said Barnabas.

"It'll be harder next time!" said his father.

"As hard as you like!" nodded Barnabas.

Once more came the light tread of quick-moving feet, once more John
Barty feinted cunningly--once more his fist shot out, but this time
it missed its mark, for, ducking the blow, Barnabas smacked home two
lightning blows on his father's ribs and danced away again light and
buoyant as a cork.

"Stand up an' fight, lad!" growled his father, "plant your feet
square--never go hopping about on your toe-points like a French
dancing-master."

"Why as to that, father, Natty Bell, as you know, holds that it is
the quicker method," here Barnabas smote his father twice upon the
ribs, "and indeed I think it is," said he, deftly eluding the
ex-champion's return.

"Quicker, hey?" sneered his father, and with the words came his
fist--to whizz harmlessly past Barnabas's ear--"we'll prove that."

"Haven't we had almost enough?" inquired Barnabas, dropping his fists.

"Enough? why we aren't begun yet, lad."

"Then how long are we to go on?"

"How long?" repeated John, frowning; "why--that depends on you,
Barnabas."

"How on me, father?"

"Are ye still minded to go to London?"

"Of course."

"Then we'll go on till you think better of it--or till you knock me
down, Barnabas my lad."

"Why then, father, the sooner I knock you down the better!"

"What?" exclaimed John Barty, staring, "d' ye mean to say--you think
you can?--me?--you?"

"Yes," nodded Barnabas.

"My poor lad!" sighed his father, "your head's fair crazed, sure as
sure, but if you think you can knock John Barty off his pins, do it,
and there y' are."

"I will," said Barnabas, "though as gently as possible."

And now they fell to it in silence, a grim silence broken only by
the quick tread and shuffle of feet and the muffled thud of blows.
John Barty, resolute of jaw, indomitable and calm of eye, as in the
days when champions had gone down before the might of his fist;
Barnabas, taller, slighter, but full of the supreme confidence of
youth. Moreover, he had not been the daily pupil of two such past
masters in the art for nothing; and now he brought to bear all his
father's craft and cunning, backed up by the lightning precision of
Natty Bell. In all his many hard-fought battles John Barty had ever
been accounted most dangerous when he smiled, and he was smiling now.
Twice Barnabas staggered back to the wall, and there was an ugly
smear upon his cheek, yet as they struck and parried, and feinted,
Barnabas, this quick-eyed, swift-footed Barnabas, was smiling also.
Thus, while they smiled upon and smote each other, the likeness
between them was more apparent than ever, only the smile of Barnabas
was the smile of youth, joyous, exuberant, unconquerable. Noting
which Experienced Age laughed short and fierce, and strode in to
strike Youth down--then came a rush of feet, the panting hiss of
breath, the shock of vicious blows, and John Barty, the unbeaten
ex-champion of all England, threw up his arms, staggered back the
length of the room, and went down with a crash.

For a moment Barnabas stood wide-eyed, panting, then ran towards him
with hands outstretched, but in that moment the door was flung open,
and Natty Bell stood between them, one hand upon the laboring breast
of Barnabas, the other stretched down to the fallen ex-champion.

"Man Jack," he exclaimed, in his strangely melodious voice.
"Oh, John!--John Barty, you as ever was the king o' the milling coves,
here's my hand, shake it. Lord, John, what a master o' the Game
we've made of our lad. He's stronger than you and quicker than ever
I was. Man Jack, 'twas as sweet, as neat, as pretty a knockdown as
ever we gave in our best days, John. Man Jack, 'tis proud you should
be to lie there and know as you have a son as can stop even _your_
rush wi' his left an' down you wi' his right as neat and proper, John,
as clean an' delicate as ever man saw. Man Jack, God bless him, and
here's my hand, John."

So, sitting there upon the floor, John Barty solemnly shook the hand
Natty Bell held out to him, which done, he turned and looked at his
son as though he had never seen him before.

"Why, Barnabas!" said he; then, for all his weight, sprang nimbly to
his feet and coming to the mantel took thence his pipe and began to
fill it, staring at Barnabas the while.

"Father," said Barnabas, advancing with hand outstretched, though
rather diffidently--"Father!"

John Barty pursed up his lips into a soundless whistle and went on
filling his pipe.

"Father," said Barnabas again, "I did it--as gently--as I could."
The pipe shivered to fragments on the hearth, and Barnabas felt his
fingers caught in his father's mighty grip.

"Why, Barnabas, lad, I be all mazed like; there aren't many men as
have knocked me off my pins, an' I aren't used to it, Barnabas, lad,
but 't was a clean blow, as Natty Bell says, and why--I be proud of
thee, Barnabas, an'--there y' are."

"Spoke like true fighting men!" said Natty Bell, standing with a
hand on the shoulder of each, "and, John, we shall see this lad,
this Barnabas of ours, Champion of England yet." John frowned and
shook his head.

"No," said he, "Barnabas'll never be Champion, Natty Bell--there
aren't a fighting man in the Ring to-day as could stand up to him,
but he'll never be Champion, an' you can lay to that, Natty Bell.
And if you ask me why," said he, turning to select another pipe from
the sheaf in the mantel-shelf, "I should tell you because he prefers
to go to London an' try to turn himself into a gentleman."

"London," exclaimed Natty Bell, "a gentleman--our Barnabas--what?"

"Bide an' listen, Natty Bell," said the ex-champion, beginning to
fill his new pipe.

"I'm listening, John."

"Well then, you must know, then, his uncle, my scapegrace brother
Tom--you'll mind Tom as sailed away in a emigrant ship--well, Natty
Bell, Tom has took an' died an' left a fortun' to our lad here."

"A fortun', John!--how much?"

"Seven--'undred--thousand--pound," said John, with a ponderous nod
after each word, "seven--'undred--thousand--pound, Natty Bell, and
there y' are."

Natty Bell opened his mouth, shut it, thrust his hands down into his
pockets and brought out a short clay pipe.

"Man Jack," said he, beginning to fill the pipe, yet with gaze
abstracted, "did I hear you say aught about a--gentleman?"

"Natty Bell, you did; our lad's took the idee into his nob to be a
gentleman, an' I were trying to knock it out again, but as it is.
Natty Bell, I fear me," and John Barty shook his handsome head and
sighed ponderously.

"Why then, John, let's sit down, all three of us, and talk this
matter over."



CHAPTER II


IN WHICH IS MUCH UNPLEASING MATTER REGARDING SILK PURSES,
SOWS' EARS, MEN, AND GENTLEMEN

A slender man was Natty Bell, yet bigger than he looked, and
prodigiously long in the reach, with a pair of very quick, bright
eyes, and a wide, good-humored mouth ever ready to curve into a smile.
But he was solemn enough now, and there was trouble in his eyes as
he looked from John to Barnabas, who sat between them, his chair
drawn up to the hearth, gazing down into the empty fireplace.

"An' you tell me, John," said he, as soon as his pipe was well
alight,--"you tell me that our Barnabas has took it into his head
to set up as a gentleman, do you?"

"Ah!" nodded John. Whereupon Natty Bell crossed his legs and leaning
back in his chair fell a-singing to himself in his sweet voice, as
was his custom when at all inclined to deep thought:


  "A true Briton from Bristol, a rum one to fib,
  He's Champion of England, his name is Tom Cribb;"


"Ah! and you likewise tell me as our Barnabas has come into a fortun'."

"Seven--'undred--thousand--pound."

"Hum!" said Natty Bell,--"quite a tidy sum, John."

  "Come list, all ye fighting gills
    And coves of boxing note, sirs,
  While I relate some bloody mills
    In our time have been fought, sirs."

"Yes, a good deal can be done wi' such a sum as that, John."

"But it can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, Natty Bell,--nor
yet a gentlemen out o' you or me--or Barnabas here."

"For instance," continued Natty Bell, "for instance, John:

  "Since boxing is a manly game,
    And Britain's recreation,
  By boxing we will raise our fame
    'Bove every other nation."

"As I say, John, a young and promising life can be wrecked, and
utterly blasted by a much less sum than seven hundred thousand pound."

"Ah!" nodded John, "but a sow's ear aren't a silk purse, Natty Bell,
no, nor never can be."

"True, John; but, arter all, a silk purse ain't much good if 't is
empty--it's the gold inside of it as counts."

"But a silk purse is ever and always a silk purse--empty or no,
Natty Bell."

"An' a man is always a man, John, which a gentleman often ain't."

"But surely," said Barnabas, speaking for the first time,
"a gentleman is both."

"No--not nohow, my lad!" exclaimed John, beginning to rasp at his
chin again. "A man is ever and allus a man--like me and you, an'
Natty Bell, an' a gentleman's a gentleman like--Sir George
Annersley--up at the great house yonder."

"But--" began Barnabas.

"Now, Barnabas"--remonstrated his father, rasping his chin harder
than ever--"wherefore argufy--if you do go for to argufy--"

"We come back to the silk purses and the sows' ears," added Natty Bell.

"And I believe," said Barnabas, frowning down at the empty hearth,
"I'm sure, that gentility rests not so much on birth as upon
hereditary instinct."

"Hey?" said his father, glancing at him from the corners of his
eyes--"go easy, Barnabas, my lad--give it time--on what did 'ee say?"

"On instinct, father."

"Instinct!" repeated John Barty, puffing out a vast cloud of smoke--
"instinct does all right for 'osses, Barnabas, dogs likewise; but
what's nat'ral to 'osses an' dogs aren't nowise nat'ral to us! No,
you can't come instinct over human beings,--not nohowsoever, Barnabas,
my lad. And, as I told you afore, a gentleman is nat'rally born a
gentleman an' his feyther afore him an' his grand-feyther afore him,
back an' back--"

"To Adam?" inquired Barnabas; "now, if so, the question is--was Adam
a gentleman?"

"Lord, Barnabas!" exclaimed John Barty, with a reproachful look--
"why drag in Adam? You leave poor old Adam alone, my lad. Adam indeed!
What's Adam got to do wi' it?"

"Everything, we being all his descendants,--at least the Bible says
so.--Lords and Commons, Peers and Peasants--all are children of Adam;
so come now, father, was Adam a gentleman, Yes or No?"

John Barty frowned up at the ceiling, frowned down at the floor, and
finally spoke:

"What do you say to that, Natty Bell?"

"Why, I should say, John--hum!"

  "Pray haven't you heard of a jolly young coal-heaver,
  Who down at Hungerford used for to ply,
  His daddles he used with such skill and dexterity
  Winning each mill, sir, and blacking each eye."

"Ha!--I should say, John, that Adam being in the habit o' going
about--well, as you might put it--in a free and easy, airy manner,
fig leaves an' suchlike, John,--I should say as he didn't have no
call to be a gentleman, seeing as there weren't any tailors."

"Tailors!" exclaimed John, staring. "Lord! and what have tailors got
to do wi' it, Natty Bell?"

"A great deal more than you 'd think, John; everything, John, seeing
't was tailors as invented gentlemen as a matter o' trade, John. So,
if Barnabas wants to have a try at being one--he must first of all
go dressed in the fashion."

"That is very true," said Barnabas, nodding.

"Though," pursued Natty Bell, "if you were the best dressed, the
handsomest, the strongest, the bravest, the cleverest, the most
honorable man in the world--that wouldn't make you a gentleman. I
tell you, Barnabas, if you went among 'em and tried to be one of
'em,--they'd find you out some day an' turn their gentlemanly backs
on you."

"Ah," nodded John, "and serve you right, lad,--because if you should
try to turn yourself into a gentleman, why, Lord, Barnabas!--you'd
only be a sort of a amitoor arter all, lad."

"Then," said Barnabas, rising up from his chair and crossing with
resolute foot to the door, "then, just so soon as this law business
is settled and the money mine, an Amateur Gentleman I'll be."



CHAPTER III


HOW BARNABAS SET OUT FOR LONDON TOWN

It was upon a certain glorious morning, some three weeks later, that
Barnabas fared forth into the world; a morning full of the thousand
scents of herb and flower and ripening fruits; a morning glad with
the song of birds. And because it was still very early, the dew yet
lay heavy, it twinkled in the grass, it sparkled in the hedges, and
gemmed every leaf and twig with a flaming pendant. And amidst it all,
fresh like the morning and young like the sun, came Barnabas, who,
closing the door of the "Coursing Hound" behind him, leapt lightly
down the stone steps and, turning his back upon the ancient inn, set
off towards that hill, beyond which lay London and the Future.
Yet--being gone but a very little way--he halted suddenly and came
striding back again. And standing thus before the inn he let his
eyes wander over its massive crossbeams, its leaning gables, its
rows of gleaming lattices, and so up to the great sign swinging
above the door--an ancient sign whereon a weather-beaten hound,
dim-legged and faded of tail, pursued a misty blur that, by common
report, was held to be a hare. But it was to a certain casement that
his gaze oftenest reverted, behind whose open lattice he knew his
father lay asleep, and his eyes, all at once, grew suffused with a
glittering brightness that was not of the morning, and he took a
step forward, half minded to clasp his father's hand once more ere
he set out to meet those marvels and wonders that lay waiting for
him over the hills--London-wards. Now, as he stood hesitating, he
heard a voice that called his name softly, and, glancing round and up,
espied Natty Bell, bare of neck and touzled of head, who leaned far
out from the casement of his bedchamber above.

"Ah, Barnabas, lad!" said he with a nod--"So you're going to leave us,
then?"

"Yes!" said Barnabas.

"And all dressed in your new clothes as fine as ever was!--stand
back a bit and let me have a look at you."

"How are they, Natty Bell?" inquired Barnabas with a note of anxiety
in his voice--"the Tenderden tailor assured me they were of the very
latest cut and fashion--what do you think, Natty Bell?"

"Hum!" said the ex-pugilist, staring down at Barnabas, chin in hand.
"Ha! they're very good clothes, Barnabas, yes indeed; just the very
thing--for the country."

"The country!--I had these made for London, Natty Bell."

"For London, Barnabas--hum!"

"What do you mean by 'hum,' Natty Bell?"

"Why--look ye now--'t is a good sensible coat, I'll not deny,
Barnabas; likewise the breeches is serviceable--but being only a
coat and breeches, why--they ain't per-lite enough. For in the world
of London, the per-lite world, Barnabas, clothes ain't garments to
keep a man warm--they're works of art; in the country a man puts 'em
on, and forgets all about 'em--in the per-lite world he has 'em put
on for him, and remembers 'em. In the country a man wears his clothes,
in the per-lite world his clothes wears him, ah! and they're often
the perlitest thing about him, too!"

"I suppose," sighed Barnabas, "a man's clothes are very
important--in the fashionable world?"

"Important! They are the most importantest part o' the fashionable
world, lad. Now there's Mr. Brummell--him as they call the
'Beau'--well, he ain't exactly a Lord Nelson nor yet a Champion of
England, he ain't never done nothing, good, bad, or indifferent--but
he does know how to wear his clothes--consequently he's a very
famous gentleman indeed--in the per-lite world, Barnabas." Here
there fell a silence while Barnabas stared up at the inn and Natty
Bell stared down at him. "To be sure, the old 'Hound' ain't much of
a place, lad--not the kind of inn as a gentleman of quality would go
out of his way to seek and search for, p'r'aps--but there be worse
places in London, Barnabas, I was born there and I know. There, there!
dear lad, never hang your head--youth must have its dreams I've heard;
so go your ways, Barnabas. You're a master wi' your fists, thanks to
John an' me--and you might have been Champion of England if you
hadn't set your heart on being only a gentleman. Well, well, lad!
don't forget as there are two old cocks o' the Game down here in Kent
as will think o' you and talk o' you, Barnabas, and what you might
have been if you hadn't happened to--Ah well, let be. But
wherever you go and whatever you come to be--you're our lad
still, and so, Barnabas, take this, wear it in memory of old
Natty Bell--steady--catch!" And, with the word, he tossed
down his great silver watch.

"Why, Natty Bell!" exclaimed Barnabas, very hoarse of voice.
"Dear old Natty--I can't take this!"

"Ah, but you can--it was presented to me twenty and one years ago,
Barnabas, the time I beat the Ruffian on Bexley Heath."

"But I can't--I couldn't take it," said Barnabas again, looking down
at the broad-faced, ponderous timepiece in his hand, which he knew
had long been Natty Bell's most cherished possession.

"Ay, but you can, lad--you must--'t is all I have to offer, and it
may serve to mind you of me, now and then, so take it! take it! And,
Barnabas, when you're tired o' being a fine gentleman up there in
London, why--come back to us here at the old 'Hound' and be content
to be just--a man. Good-by, lad; good-by!" saying which, Natty Bell
nodded, drew in his head and vanished, leaving Barnabas to stare up
at the closed lattice, with the ponderous timepiece ticking in his
hand.

So, in a while, Barnabas slipped it into his pocket and, turning his
back upon the "Coursing Hound," began to climb that hill beyond
which lay the London of his dreams. Therefore as he went he kept his
eyes lifted up to the summit of the hill, and his step grew light,
his eye brightened, for Adventure lay in wait for him; Life beckoned
to him from the distance; there was magic in the air. Thus Barnabas
strode on up the hill full of expectancy and the blind confidence in
destiny which is the glory of youth.

Oh, Spirit of Youth, to whose fearless eyes all things are matters
to wonder at; oh, brave, strong Spirit of Youth, to whom dangers are
but trifles to smile at, and death itself but an adventure; to thee,
since failure is unknown, all things are possible, and thou mayest,
peradventure, make the world thy football, juggle with the stars,
and even become a Fine Gentleman despite thy country homespun--and
yet--

But as for young Barnabas, striding blithely upon his way, he might
verily have been the Spirit of Youth itself--head high, eyes a-dance,
his heart light as his step, his gaze ever upon the distance ahead,
for he was upon the road at last, and every step carried him nearer
the fulfilment of his dream.

"At Tonbridge he would take the coach," he thought, or perhaps hire
a chaise and ride to London like a gentleman. A gentleman! and here
he was whistling away like any ploughboy. Happily the road was
deserted at this early hour, but Barnabas shook his head at himself
reproachfully, and whistled no more--for a time.

But now, having reached the summit of the hill, he paused and turned
to look back. Below him lay the old inn, blinking in its many
casements in the level rays of the newly risen sun; and now, all at
once, as he gazed down at it from this eminence, it seemed, somehow,
to have shrunk, to have grown more weather-beaten and worn--truly
never had it looked so small and mean as it did at this moment.
Indeed, he had been wont to regard the "Coursing Hound" as the very
embodiment of what an English inn should be--but now! Barnabas
sighed--which was a new thing for him. "Was the change really in the
old inn, or in himself?" he wondered. Hereupon he sighed again, and
turning, went on down the hill. But now, as he went, his step lagged
and his head drooped. "Was the change in the inn, or could it be
that money can so quickly alter one?" he wondered. And straightway
the coins in his pocket chinked and jingled "yes, yes!" wherefore
Barnabas sighed for the third time, and his head drooped lower yet.

Well then, since he was rich, he would buy his father a better
inn--the best in all England. A better inn! and the "Coursing Hound"
had been his home as long as he could remember. A better inn! Here
Barnabas sighed for the fourth time, and his step was heavier than
ever as he went on down the hill.



CHAPTER IV


HOW BARNABAS FELL IN WITH A PEDLER OF BOOKS, AND PURCHASED A
"PRICELESS WOLLUM"

"Heads up, young master, never say die! and wi' the larks and the
throstles a-singing away so inspiring too--Lord love me!"

Barnabas started guiltily, and turning with upflung head, perceived
a very small man perched on an adjacent milestone, with a very large
pack at his feet, a very large hunk of bread and cheese in his hand,
and with a book open upon his knee.

"Listen to that theer lark," said the man, pointing upwards with the
knife he held.

"Well?" said Barnabas, a trifle haughtily perhaps.

"There's music for ye; there's j'y. I never hear a lark but it takes
me back to London--to Lime'us, to Giles's Rents, down by the River."

"Pray, why?" inquired Barnabas, still a trifle haughtily.

"Because it's so different; there ain't much j'y, no, nor yet music
in Giles's Rents, down by the River."

"Rather an unpleasant place!" said Barnabas.

"Unpleasant, young sir. I should say so--the worst place in the
world--but listen to that theer blessed lark; there's a woice for ye;
there's music with a capital M.; an' I've read as they cooks and
eats 'em."

"Who do?"

"Nobs do--swells--gentlemen--ah, an' ladies, too!"

"More shame to them, then."

"Why, so says I, young master, but, ye see, beef an' mutton, ducks
an' chicken, an' sich, ain't good enough for your Nobs nowadays, oh
no! They must dewour larks wi' gusto, and French hortolons wi'
avidity, and wi' a occasional leg of a frog throw'd in for a
relish--though, to be sure, a frog's leg ain't over meaty at the
best o' times. Oh, it's all true, young sir; it's all wrote down
here in this priceless wollum." Here he tapped the book upon his knee.
"Ye see, with the Quality it is quality as counts--not quantity.
It's flavor as is their constant want, or, as you might say, desire;
flavor in their meat, in their drink, and above all, in their books;
an' see you, I sell books, an' I know."

"What kind of flavor?" demanded Barnabas, coming a step nearer,
though in a somewhat stately fashion.

"Why, a gamey flavor, to be sure, young sir; a 'igh flavor--ah! the
'igher the better. Specially in books. Now here," continued the
Chapman, holding up the volume he had been reading. "'Ere's a book
as ain't to be ekalled nowheers nor nohow--not in Latin nor Greek,
nor Persian, no, nor yet 'Indoo. A book as is fuller o' information
than a egg is o' meat. A book as was wrote by a person o' quality,
therefore a elewating book; wi' nice bold type into it--ah! an'
wood-cuts--picters an' engravin's, works o' art as is not to be beat
nowheers nor nohow; not in China, Asia, nor Africa, a book therefore
as is above an' beyond all price."

"What book is it?" inquired Barnabas, forgetting his haughtiness,
and coming up beside the Chapman.

"It's a book," said the Chapman; "no, it's THE book as any young
gentleman a-going out into the world ought to have wi' him, asleep
or awake."

"But what is it all about?" inquired Barnabas a trifle impatiently.

"Why, everything," answered the Chapman; "an' I know because I 've
read it--a thing I rarely do."

"What's the title?"

"The title, young sir; well theer! read for yourself."

And with the words the Chapman held up the book open at the
title-page, and Barnabas read:

              HINTS ON ETIQUETTE,

                     OR

  THE COMPLEAT ART OF A GENTLEMANLY DEPORTMENT
           BY A PERSON OF QUALITY.

"You'll note that theer Person o' Quality, will ye?" said the Chapman.

"Strange!" said Barnabas.

"Not a bit of it!" retorted the Chapman. "Lord, love me! any one
could be a gentleman by just reading and inwardly di-gesting o' this
here priceless wollum; it's all down here in print, an' nice bold
type, too--pat as you please. If it didn't 'appen as my horryscope
demands as I should be a chapman, an' sell books an' sich along the
roads, I might ha' been as fine a gentleman as any on 'em, just by
follering the directions printed into this here blessed tome, an' in
nice large type, too, an' woodcuts."

"This is certainly very remarkable!" said Barnabas.

"Ah!" nodded the Chapman, "it's the most remarkablest book as ever
was!--Lookee--heer's picters for ye--lookee!" and he began turning
over the pages, calling out the subject of the pictures as he did so.

"Gentleman going a walk in a jerry 'at. Gentleman eating soup!
Gentleman kissing lady's 'and. Gentleman dancing with lady--note
them theer legs, will ye--theer's elegance for ye! Gentleman riding
a 'oss in one o' these 'ere noo buckled 'ats. Gentleman shaking 'ands
with ditto--observe the cock o' that little finger, will ye!
Gentleman eating ruffles--no, truffles, which is a vegetable, as all
pigs is uncommon partial to. Gentleman proposing lady's 'ealth in a
frilled shirt an' a pair o' skin-tights. Gentleman making a bow."

"And remarkably stiff in the legs about it, too!" nodded Barnabas.

"Stiff in the legs!" cried the Chapman reproachfully. "Lord love you,
young sir! I've seen many a leg stiffer than that."

"And how much is the book?"

The Chapman cast a shrewd glance up at the tall youthful figure, at
the earnest young face, at the deep and solemn eyes, and coughed
behind his hand.

"Well, young sir," said he, gazing thoughtfully up at the blue
sky--"since you are you, an' nobody else--an' ax me on so fair
a morning, wi' the song o' birds filling the air--we'll charge you
only--well--say ten shillings: say eight, say seven-an'-six--say
five--theer, make it five shillings, an' dirt-cheap at the price, too."

Barnabas hesitated, and the Chapman was about to come down a
shilling or two more when Barnabas spoke.

"Then you're not thinking of learning to become a gentleman yourself?"

"O Lord love you--no!"

"Then I'll buy it," said Barnabas, and forthwith handed over the
five shillings. Slipping the book into his pocket, he turned to go,
yet paused again and addressed the Chapman over his shoulder.

"Shouldn't you like to become a gentleman?" he inquired.

Again the Chapman regarded him from the corners of his eyes, and
again he coughed behind his hand.

"Well," he admitted, "I should an' I shouldn't. O' course it must be
a fine thing to bow to a duchess, or 'and a earl's daughter into a
chariot wi' four 'orses an' a couple o' footmen, or even to sit wi'
a markus an' eat a French hortolon (which never 'aving seen, I don't
know the taste on, but it sounds promising); oh yes, that part would
suit me to a T; but then theer's t'other part to it, y' see."

"What do you mean?"

"Why, a gentleman has a great deal to live up to--theer's his dignity,
y' see."

"Yes, I suppose so," Barnabas admitted.

"For instance, a gentleman couldn't very well be expected to sit in
a ditch and enj'y a crust o' bread an' cheese; 'is dignity wouldn't
allow of it, now would it?"

"Certainly not," said Barnabas.

"Nor yet drink 'ome-brewed out of a tin pot in a inn kitchen."

"Well, he might, if he were very thirsty," Barnabas ventured to think.
But the Chapman scouted the idea.

"For," said he, "a gentleman's dignity lifts him above inn kitchens
and raises him superior to tin pots. Now tin pots is a perticler
weakness o' mine, leastways when theer's good ale inside of 'em. And
then again an' lastly," said the Chapman, balancing a piece of
cheese on the flat of his knife-blade, "lastly theer's his clothes,
an', as I've read somewhere, 'clothes make the man'--werry
good--chuck in dignity an' theer's your gentleman!"

"Hum," said Barnabas, profoundly thoughtful.

"An' a gentleman's clothes is a world o' trouble and anxiety to him,
and takes up most o' his time, what wi' his walking breeches an'
riding breeches an' breeches for dancing; what wi' his coats cut
'igh an' his coats cut low; what wi' his flowered satin weskits;
what wi' his boots an' his gloves, an' his cravats an' his 'ats, why,
Lord love ye, he passes his days getting out o' one suit of clothes
an' into another. And it's just this clothes part as I can't nowise
put up wi', for I'm one as loves a easy life, I am."

"And is your life so easy?" inquired Barnabas, eyeing the very small
Chapman's very large pack.

"Why, to be sure theer's easier," the Chapman admitted, scratching
his ear and frowning; "but then," and here his brow cleared again,
"I've only got this one single suit of clothes to bother my 'ead over,
which, being wore out as you can see, don't bother me at all."

"Then are you satisfied to be as you are?"

"Well," answered the Chapman, clinking the five shillings in his
pocket, "I aren't one to grumble at fate, nor yet growl at fortun'."

"Why, then," said Barnabas, "I wish you good morning."

"Good morning, young sir, and remember now, if you should ever feel
like being a gentleman--it's quite easy--all as you've got to do is
to read the instructions in that theer priceless wollum--mark
'em--learn 'em, and inwardly di-gest 'em, and you'll be a gentleman
afore you know it."

Now hereupon Barnabas smiled, a very pleasant smile and radiant with
youth, whereat the Chapman's pinched features softened for pure good
fellowship, and for the moment he almost wished that he had charged
less for the "priceless wollum," as, so smiling, Barnabas turned and
strode away, London-wards.



CHAPTER V


IN WHICH THE HISTORIAN SEES FIT TO INTRODUCE A LADY OF QUALITY; AND
FURTHER NARRATES HOW BARNABAS TORE A WONDERFUL BOTTLE-GREEN COAT

Now in a while Barnabas came to where was a stile with a path
beyond--a narrow path that led up over a hill until it lost itself
in a wood that crowned the ascent; a wood where were shady dells
full of a quivering green twilight; where broad glades led away
beneath leafy arches, and where a stream ran gurgling in the shade of
osiers and willows; a wood that Barnabas had known from boyhood.
Therefore, setting his hand upon the stile, he vaulted lightly over,
minded to go through the wood and join the high road further on.
This he did by purest chance, and all unthinking followed the winding
path.

Now had Barnabas gone on by the road how different this history
might have been, and how vastly different his career! But, as it
happened, moved by Chance, or Fate, or Destiny, or what you will,
Barnabas vaulted over the stile and strode on up the winding path,
whistling as he went, and, whistling, plunged into the green twilight
of the wood, and, whistling still, swung suddenly into a broad and
grassy glade splashed green and gold with sunlight, and then stopped
all at once and stood there silent, dumb, the very breath in check
between his lips.

She lay upon her side--full length upon the sward, and her tumbled
hair made a glory in the grass, a golden mane. Beneath this silken
curtain he saw dark brows that frowned a little--a vivid mouth, and
lashes thick and dark like her eyebrows, that curled upon the pallor
of her cheek.

Motionless stood Barnabas, with eyes that wandered from the small
polished riding-boot, with its delicately spurred heel, to follow
the gracious line that swelled voluptuously from knee to rounded hip,
that sank in sweetly to a slender waist, yet rose again to the
rounded beauty of her bosom.

So Barnabas stood and looked and looked, and looking sighed, and
stole a step near and stopped again, for behold the leafy screen was
parted suddenly, and Barnabas beheld two boots--large boots they
were but of exquisite shape--boots that strode strongly and planted
themselves masterfully; Hessian boots, elegant, glossy and
betasselled. Glancing higher, he observed a coat of a bottle-green,
high-collared, close-fitting and silver-buttoned; a coat that served
but to make more apparent the broad chest, powerful shoulders, and
lithe waist of its wearer. Indeed a truly marvellous coat (at least,
so thought Barnabas), and in that moment, he, for the first time,
became aware how clumsy and ill-contrived were his own garments; he
understood now what Natty Bell had meant when he had said they were
not polite enough; and as for his boots--blunt of toe, thick-soled
and ponderous--he positively blushed for them. Here, it occurred to
him that the wearer of the coat possessed a face, and he looked at
it accordingly. It was a handsome face he saw, dark of eye,
square-chinned and full-lipped. Just now the eyes were lowered, for
their possessor stood apparently lost in leisurely contemplation of
her who lay outstretched between them; and as his gaze wandered to
and fro over her defenceless beauty, a glow dawned in the eyes, and
the full lips parted in a slow smile, whereat Barnabas frowned darkly,
and his cheeks grew hot because of her too betraying habit.

"Sir!" said he between snapping teeth.

Then, very slowly and unwillingly, the gentleman raised his eyes and
stared across at him.

"And pray," said he carelessly, "pray who might you be?"

At his tone Barnabas grew more angry and therefore more polite.

"Sir, that--permit me to say--does not concern you."

"Not in the least," the other retorted, "and I bid you good day; you
can go, my man, I am acquainted with this lady; she is quite safe in
my care."

"That, sir, I humbly beg leave to doubt," said Barnabas, his
politeness growing.

"Why--you impudent scoundrel!"

Barnabas smiled.

"Come, take yourself off!" said the gentleman, frowning, "I'll take
care of this lady."

"Pardon me! but I think not."

The gentleman stared at Barnabas through suddenly narrow lids, and
laughed softly, and Barnabas thought his laugh worse than his frown.

"Ha! d' you mean to say you--won't go?"

"With all the humility in the world, I do, sir."

"Why, you cursed, interfering yokel! must I thrash you?"

Now "yokel" stung, for Barnabas remembered his blunt-toed boots,
therefore he smiled with lips suddenly grim, and his politeness grew
almost aggressive.

"Thrash me, sir!" he repeated, "indeed I almost venture to fear that
you must." But the gentleman's gaze had wandered to the fallen girl
once more, and the glow was back in his roving eyes.

"Pah!" said he, still intent, "if it is her purse you are after--here,
take mine and leave us in peace." As he spoke, he flung his purse
towards Barnabas, and took a long step nearer the girl. But in that
same instant Barnabas strode forward also and, being nearer, reached
her first, and, stepping over her, it thus befell that they came
face to face within a foot of one another. For a moment they stood
thus, staring into each other's eyes, then without a word swift and
sudden they closed and grappled.

The gentleman was very quick, and more than ordinarily strong, so
also was Barnabas, but the gentleman's handsome face was contorted
with black rage, whereas Barnabas was smiling, and therein seemed
the only difference between them as they strove together breast to
breast, now in sunlight, now in shadow, but always grimly silent.

So, within the glory of the morning, they reeled and staggered to
and fro, back and forth, trampling down the young grass, straining,
panting, swaying--the one frowning and determined, the other smiling
and grim.

Suddenly the bottle-green coat ripped and tore as its wearer broke
free; there was the thud of a blow, and Barnabas staggered back with
blood upon his face--staggered, I say, and in that moment, as his
antagonist rushed, laughed fierce and short, and stepped lightly
aside and smote him clean and true under the chin, a little to one
side.

The gentleman's fists flew wide, he twisted upon his heels, pitched
over upon his face, and lay still.

Smiling still, Barnabas looked down upon him, then grew grave.

"Indeed," said he, "indeed it was a great pity to spoil such a
wonderful coat."

So he turned away, and coming to where she, who was the unwitting
cause of all this, yet lay, stopped all at once, for it seemed to
him that her posture was altered; her habit had become more decorous,
and yet the lashes, so dark in contrast to her hair, those shadowy
lashes yet curled upon her cheek. Therefore, very presently, Barnabas
stooped, and raising her in his arms bore her away through the wood
towards the dim recesses where, hidden in the green shadows, his
friend the brook went singing upon its way.

And in a while the gentleman stirred and sat up, and, beholding his
torn coat, swore viciously, and, chancing upon his purse, pocketed it,
and so went upon his way, and by contrast with the glory of the
morning his frown seemed the blacker.



CHAPTER VI


OF THE BEWITCHMENT OF BLACK EYELASHES; AND OF A FATEFUL LACE
HANDKERCHIEF

Let it be understood that Barnabas was not looking at her as she lay
all warm and yielding in his embrace, on the contrary, he walked
with his gaze fixed pertinaciously upon the leafy path he followed,
nevertheless he was possessed, more than once, of a sudden feeling
that her eyes had opened and were watching him, therefore, after a
while be it noted, needs must he steal a downward glance at her
beauty, only to behold the shadowy lashes curling upon her cheeks,
as was but natural, of course. And now he began to discover that
these were, indeed, no ordinary lashes (though to be sure his
experience in such had been passing small), yet the longer he gazed
upon them the more certain he became that these were, altogether and
in all respects, the most demurely tantalizing lashes in the world.
Then, again, there was her mouth--warmly red, full-lipped and
sensitive like the delicate nostrils above; a mouth all sweet curves;
a mouth, he thought, that might grow firm and proud, or wonderfully
tender as the case might be, a mouth of scarlet bewitchment; a mouth
that for some happy mortal might be--here our Barnabas came near
blundering into a tree, and thenceforth he kept his gaze upon the
path again. So, strong armed and sure of foot, he bore her through
the magic twilight of the wood until he reached the brook. And coming
to where the bending willows made a leafy bower he laid her there,
then, turning, went down to the brook and drawing off his
neckerchief began to moisten it in the clear, cool water.

And lo! in the same minute, the curling lashes were lifted suddenly,
and beneath their shadow two eyes looked out--deep and soft and
darkly blue, the eyes of a maid--now frank and ingenuous, now shyly
troubled, but brimful of witchery ever and always. And pray what
could there be in all the fair world more proper for a maid's eyes
to rest upon than young Alcides, bare of throat, and with the sun in
his curls, as he knelt to moisten the neckerchief in the brook?

Therefore, as she lay, she gazed upon him in her turn, even as he
had first looked upon her, pleased to find his face so young and
handsome, to note the breadth of his shoulders, the graceful
carriage of his limbs, his air of virile strength and latent power,
yet doubting too, because of her sex, because of the loneliness, and
because he was a man; thus she lay blushing a little, sighing a
little, fearing a little, waiting for him to turn. True, he had been
almost reverent so far, but then the place was so very lonely. And
yet--

Barnabas turned and came striding up the bank. And how was he to
know anything of all this, as he stood above her with his dripping
neckerchief in his hand, looking down at her lying so very still,
and pitying her mightily because her lashes showed so dark against
the pallor of her cheek? How was he to know how her heart leapt in
her white bosom as he sank upon his knees beside her? Therefore he
leaned above her closer and raised the dripping neckerchief. But in
that moment she (not minded to be wet) sighed, her white lids
fluttered, and, sitting up, she stared at him for all the world as
though she had never beheld him until that very moment.

"What are you going to do?" she demanded, drawing away from the
streaming neckerchief. "Who are you? Why am I here?--what has
happened?"

Barnabas hesitated, first because he was overwhelmed by this sudden
torrent of questions, and secondly because he rarely spoke without
thinking; therefore, finding him silent, she questioned him again--

"Where am I?"

"In Annersley Wood, madam."

"Ah, yes, I remember, my horse ran away."

"So I brought you here to the brook."

"Why?"

"You were hurt; I found you bleeding and senseless."

"Bleeding!" And out came a dainty lace handkerchief on the instant.

"There," said Barnabas, "above your eyebrow," and he indicated a
very small trickle of blood upon the snow of her temple.

"And you--found me, sir?"

"Beneath the riven oak in the Broad Glade--over yonder."

"That is a great way from here, sir!"

"You are not--heavy!" Barnabas explained, a little clumsily perhaps,
for she fell silent at this, and stooped her head the better to dab
tenderly at the cut above her eyebrow; also the color deepened in her
cheeks.

"Madam," said Barnabas, "that is the wrong eyebrow."

"Then why don't you tell me where I'm hurt?" she sighed. For answer,
after a moment's hesitation, Barnabas reached out and taking her hand,
handkerchief and all, laid it very gently upon the cut, though to be
sure it was a very poor thing, as cuts go, after all.

"There," said he again, "though indeed it is very trifling."

"Indeed, sir, it pains atrociously!" she retorted, and to bear out
her words showed him her handkerchief, upon whose snow was a tiny
vivid stain.

"Then perhaps," ventured Barnabas, "perhaps I'd better bathe it with
this!" and he held up his dripping handkerchief.

"Nay, sir, I thank you," she answered, "keep it for your own
wounds--there is a cut upon your cheek."

"A cut!" repeated Barnabas--bethinking him of the gentleman's signet
ring.

"Yes, a cut, sir," she repeated, and stole a glance at him under her
long lashes; "pray did _your_ horse run away also?"

Barnabas was silent again, this time because he knew not how to
answer--therefore he began rubbing at his injured cheek while she
watched him--and after a while spoke.

"Sir," said she, "that is the wrong cheek."

"Then, indeed, this must be very trifling also," said Barnabas,
smiling.

"Does it pain you, sir?"

"Thank you--no."

"Yet it bleeds! You say it was not your horse, sir?" she inquired,
wonderfully innocent of eye.

"No, it was not my horse."

"Why, then--pray, how did it happen?"

"Happen, madam?--why, I fancy I must have--scratched myself,"
returned Barnabas, beginning to wring out his neckerchief.

"Scratched yourself. Ah! of course!" said she, and was silent while
Barnabas continued to wring the water from his neckerchief.

"Pray," she inquired suddenly, "do you often scratch yourself--until
you bleed?--'t is surely a most distressing habit." Now glancing up
suddenly, Barnabas saw her eyes were wonderfully bright for all her
solemn mouth, and suspicion grew upon him.--"Did she know? Had she
seen?" he wondered.

"Nevertheless, sir--my thanks are due to you--"

"For what?" he inquired quickly.

"Why--for--for--"

"For bringing you here?" he suggested, beginning to wring out his
neckerchief again.

"Yes; believe me I am more than grateful for--for--"

"For what, madam?" he inquired again, looking at her now.

"For--your--kindness, sir."

"Pray, how have I been kind?--you refused my neckerchief."

Surely he was rather an unpleasant person after all, she thought,
with his persistently direct eyes, and his absurdly blunt mode of
questioning--and she detested answering questions.

"Sir," said she, with her dimpled chin a little higher than usual,
"it is a great pity you troubled yourself about me, or spoilt your
neckerchief with water."

"I thought you were hurt, you see--"

"Oh, sir, I grieve to disappoint you," said she, and rose, and
indeed she gained her feet with admirable grace and dignity
notwithstanding her recent fall, and the hampering folds of her habit;
and now Barnabas saw that she was taller than he had thought.

"Disappoint me!" repeated Barnabas, rising also; "the words are
unjust."

For a moment she stood, her head thrown back, her eyes averted
disdainfully, and it was now that Barnabas first noticed the dimple
in her chin, and he was yet observing it very exactly when he became
aware that her haughtiness was gone again and that her eyes were
looking up at him, half laughing, half shy, and of course wholly
bewitching.

"Yes, I know it was," she admitted, "but oh! won't you please
believe that a woman can't fall off her horse without being hurt,
though it won't bleed much." Now as she spoke a distant clock began
to strike and she to count the strokes, soft and mellow with distance.

"Nine!" she exclaimed with an air of tragedy--"then I shall be late
for breakfast, and I'm ravenous--and gracious heavens!"

"What now, madam?"

"My hair! It's all come down--look at it!"

"I've been doing so ever since I--met you," Barnabas confessed.

"Oh, have you! Then why didn't you tell me of it--and I've lost
nearly all my hairpins--and--oh dear! what will they think?"

"That it is the most beautiful hair in all the world, of course,"
said Barnabas. She was already busy twisting it into a shining rope,
but here she paused to look up at him from under this bright nimbus,
and with two hair-pins in her mouth.

"Oh!" said she again very thoughtfully, and then "Do you think so?"
she inquired, speaking over and round the hairpins as it were.

"Yes," said Barnabas, steady-eyed; and immediately down came the
curling lashes again, while with dexterous white fingers she began
to transform the rope into a coronet.

"I'm afraid it won't hold up," she said, giving her head a tentative
shake, "though, fortunately, I haven't far to go."

"How far?" asked Barnabas.

"To Annersley House, sir."

"Yes," said Barnabas, "that is very near--the glade yonder leads
into the park."

"Do you know Annersley, then, sir?"

Barnabas hesitated and, having gone over the question in his mind,
shook his head.

"I know of it," he answered.

"Do you know Sir George Annersley?"

Again Barnabas hesitated. As a matter of fact he knew as much of Sir
George as he knew of the "great house," as it was called thereabouts,
that is to say he had seen him once or twice--in the distance. But it
would never do to admit as much to her, who now looked up at him
with eyes of witchery as she waited for him to speak. Therefore
Barnabas shook his head, and answered airily enough:

"We are not exactly acquainted, madam."

Yesterday he would have scorned the subterfuge; but to-day there was
money in his purse; London awaited him with expectant arms, the very
air was fraught with a magic whereby the impossible might become
concrete fact, wherein dreams might become realities; was not she
herself, as she stood before him lithe and vigorous in all the
perfection of her warm young womanhood--was she not the very
embodiment of those dreams that had haunted him sleeping and waking?
Verily. Therefore with this magic in the air might he not meet Sir
George Annersley at the next cross-roads or by-lane, and strike up
an enduring friendship on the spot--truly, for anything was possible
to-day. Meanwhile my lady had gathered up the folds of her
riding-habit, and yet in the act of turning into the leafy path,
spoke:

"Are you going far, sir?"

"To London."

"Have you many friends there?"

"None,--as yet, madam."

After this they walked on in silence, she with her eyes on the
lookout for obstacles, he lost to all but the beauty of the young
body before him--the proud carriage of the head, the sway of the hips,
the firm poise of the small and slender foot--all this he saw and
admired, yet (be it remarked) his face bore nothing of the look that
had distorted the features of the gentleman in the bottle-green
coat--though to be sure our Barnabas was but an amateur at
best--even as Natty Bell had said. So at last she reached the
fateful glade beyond which, though small with distance, was a noble
house set upon a gentle hill that rose above the swaying green of
trees. Here my lady paused; she looked up the glade and down the
glade, and finally at him. And her eyes were the eyes of a maid, shy,
mischievous, demure, challenging.

"Sir," said she, shyly, demurely--but with eyes still challenging--
"sir, I have to thank you. I do thank you--more than these poor lips
can tell. If there is anything I could--do--to--to prove my gratitude,
you--have but to--name it."

"Do," stammered Barnabas. "Do--indeed--I--no."

The challenging eyes were hidden now, but the lips curved
wonderfully tempting and full of allurement. Barnabas clenched his
fists hard.

"I see, sir, your cheek has stopped bleeding, 't is almost well.
I think--there are others--whose hurts will not heal--quite so
soon--and, between you and me, sir, I'm glad--glad! Good-by! and may
you find as many friends in London as you deserve." So saying, she
turned and went on down the glade.

And in a little Barnabas sighed, and turning also, strode on
London-wards.

Now when she had gone but a very short way, my lady must needs
glance back over her shoulder, then, screened to be sure by a
convenient bramble-bush, she stood to watch him as he swung along,
strong, graceful, but with never a look behind.

"Who was he?" she wondered. "What was he? From his clothes he might
be anything between a gamekeeper and a farmer."

Alas! poor Barnabas! To be sure his voice was low and modulated, and
his words well chosen--who was he, what was he? And he was going to
London where he had no friends. And he had never told his name, nor,
what was a great deal worse, asked for hers! Here my lady frowned,
for such indifference was wholly new in her experience. But on went
long-legged Barnabas, all unconscious, striding through sunlight and
shadow, with step blithe and free--and still (Oh! Barnabas) with
never a look behind. Therefore, my lady's frown grew more portentous,
and she stamped her foot at his unconscious back; then all at once
the frown vanished in a sudden smile, and she instinctively shrank
closer into cover, for Barnabas had stopped.

"Oh, indeed, sir!" she mocked, secure behind her leafy screen,
nodding her head at his unconscious back; "so you've actually
thought better of it, have you?"

Here Barnabas turned.

"Really, sir, you will even trouble to come all the way back, will
you, just to learn her name--or, perhaps to--indeed, what
condescension. But, dear sir, you're too late; oh, yes, indeed you
are! 'for he who will not when he may, when he will he shall have nay.'
I grieve to say you are too late--quite too late! Good morning,
Master Shill-I-shall-I." And with the word she turned, then hastily
drew a certain lace handkerchief from her bosom, and set it very
cleverly among the thorns of a bramble, and so sped away among the
leaves.



CHAPTER VII


IN WHICH MAY BE FOUND DIVERS RULES AND MAXIMS FOR THE ART OF BOWING

"Now, by the Lord!" said Barnabas, stopping all at once, "forgetful
fool that I am! I never bowed to her!" Therefore, being minded to
repair so grave an omission, he turned sharp about, and came
striding back again, and thus it befell that he presently espied the
lace handkerchief fluttering from the bramble, and having extricated
the delicate lace from the naturally reluctant thorns with a vast
degree of care and trouble, he began to look about for the late owner.
But search how he might, his efforts proved unavailing--Annersley
Wood was empty save for himself. Having satisfied himself of the fact,
Barnabas sighed again, thrust the handkerchief into his pocket, and
once more set off upon his way.

But now, as he went, he must needs remember his awkward stiffness
when she had thanked him; he grew hot all over at the mere
recollection, and, moreover, he had forgotten even to bow! But there
again, was he quite sure that he could bow as a gentleman should?
There were doubtless certain rules and maxims for the bow as there
were for mathematics--various motions to be observed in the making
of it, of which Barnabas confessed to himself his utter ignorance.
What then was a bow? Hereupon, bethinking him of the book in his
pocket, he drew it out, and turning to a certain page, began to
study the "stiff-legged-gentleman" with a new and enthralled interest.
Now over against this gentleman, that is to say, on the opposite page,
he read these words:--

           "THE ART OF BOWING."

  "To know how, and when, and to whom to bow,
  is in itself an art. The bow is, indeed, an
  all-important accomplishment,--it is the
  'Open Sesame' of the 'Polite World.' To bow
  gracefully, therefore, may be regarded as
  the most important part of a gentlemanly
  deportment."

"Hum!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown at this; and yet, according
to the title-page, these were the words of a "Person of Quality."

  "To bow gracefully,"--the Person of Quality
  chattered on,--"the feet should be primarily
  disposed as in the first position of dancing."

Barnabas sighed, frowning still.

  "The left hand should be lifted airily and laid
  upon the bosom, the fingers kept elegantly spread.
  The head is now stooped forward, the body following
  easily from the hips, the right hand, at the same
  moment, being waved gracefully in the air. It is,
  moreover, very necessary that the expression of the
  features should assume as engaging an air as possible.
  The depth of the bow is to be regulated to the rank
  of the person saluted."

And so forth and so on for two pages more.

Barnabas sighed and shook his head hopelessly.

"Ah!" said he, "under these circumstances it is perhaps just as well
that I forgot to try. It would seem I should have bungled it quite
shamefully. Who would have thought a thing so simple could become a
thing so very complicated!" Saying which, he shut the book, and
thrust it back into his pocket, and thus became aware of a certain
very small handful of dainty lace and cambric, and took it out, and,
looking at it, beheld again the diminutive stain, while there stole
to his nostrils a perfume, faint and very sweet.

"I wonder," said he to himself. "I wonder who she was--I might have
asked her name but, fool that I am, I even forgot that!"

Here Barnabas sighed, and, sighing, hid the handkerchief in his
pocket.

"And yet," he pursued, "had she told me her name, I should have been
compelled to announce mine, and--Barnabas Barty--hum! somehow there
is no suggestion about it of broad acres, or knightly ancestors; no,
Barty will never do." Here Barnabas became very thoughtful.
"Mortimer sounds better," said he, after a while, "or Mandeville.
Then there's Neville, and Desborough, and Ravenswood--all very good
names, and yet none of them seems quite suitable. Still I must have
a name that is beyond all question!" And Barnabas walked on more
thoughtful than ever. All at once he stopped, and clapped hand to
thigh.

"My mother's name, of course--Beverley; yes, it is an excellent name,
and, since it was hers, I have more right to it than to any other.
So Beverley it shall be--Barnabas Beverley--good!" Here Barnabas
stopped and very gravely lifted his hat to his shadow.

"Mr. Beverley," said he, "I salute you, your very humble obedient
servant, Mr. Beverley, sir, God keep you!" Hereupon he put on his
hat again, and fell into his swinging stride.

"So," said he, "that point being settled it remains to master the
intricacies of the bow." Saying which, he once more had recourse to
the "priceless wollum," and walked on through the glory of the
morning, with his eyes upon the valuable instructions of the
"Person of Quality."

Now, as he went, chancing to look up suddenly, he beheld a gate-post.
A very ancient gate-post it was--a decrepit gate-post, worn and
heavy with years, for it leaned far out from the perpendicular. And
with his gaze upon this, Barnabas halted suddenly, clapped the book
to his bosom, and raising his hat with an elegant flourish, bowed to
that gnarled and withered piece of timber as though it had been an
Archduke at the very least, or the loveliest lady in the land.

"Ha! by Thor and Odin, what's all this?" cried a voice behind him.
"I say what the devil's all this?"

Turning sharp about, Barnabas beheld a shortish, broad-shouldered
individual in a befrogged surtout and cords, something the worse for
wear, who stood with his booted legs wide apart and stared at him
from a handsome bronzed face, with a pair of round blue eyes; he
held a broad-brimmed hat in his hand--the other, Barnabas noticed,
was gone from the elbow.

"Egad!" said he, staring at Barnabas with his blue eyes. "What's in
the wind? I say, what the devil, sir--eh, sir?"

Forthwith Barnabas beamed upon him, and swept him another bow almost
as low as that he had bestowed upon the gate-post.

"Sir," said he, hat gracefully flourished in the air, "your very
humble obedient servant to command."

"A humble obedient fiddlestick, sir!" retorted the new comer.
"Pooh, sir!--I say dammit!--are ye mad, sir, to go bowing and
scraping to a gate-post, as though it were an Admiral of the Fleet
or Nelson himself--are ye mad or only drunk, sir? I say, what d' ye
mean?"

Here Barnabas put on his hat and opened the book.

"Plainly, sir," he answered, "being overcome with a sudden desire to
bow to something or other, I bowed to that gate-post in want of a
worthier object; but now, seeing you arrive so very opportunely, I'll
take the liberty of trying another. Oblige me by observing if my
expression is sufficiently engaging," and with the words Barnabas
bowed as elaborately as before.

"Sink me!" exclaimed the one-armed individual, rounder of eye than
ever, "the fellow's mad--stark, staring mad."

"No, indeed, sir," smiled Barnabas, reassuringly, "but the book
here--which I am given to understand is wholly infallible--says that
to bow is the most important item of a gentlemanly equipment, and in
the World of Fashion--"

"In the World of Fashion, sir, there are no gentlemen left," his
hearer broke in.

"How, sir--?"

"I say no, sir, no one. I say, damme, sir--"

"But, sir--"

"I say there are no gentlemen in the fashionable world--they are all
blackguardly Bucks, cursed Corinthians, and mincing Macaronies
nowadays, sir. Fashionable world--bah, sir!"

"But, sir, is not the Prince himself--"

"The Prince, sir!" Here the one-armed gentleman clapped on his hat
and snorted, "The Prince is a--prince, sir; he's also an authority
on sauce and shoe-buckles. Let us talk of something more
interesting--yourself, for instance."

Barnabas bowed.

"Sir," said he, "my name is Barnabas--Barnabas Beverley."

"Hum!" said the other, thoughtfully, "I remember a Beverley--a
lieutenant under Hardy in the 'Agamemnon'--though, to be sure, he
spelt his name with an 'l-e-y.'"

"So do I, sir," said Barnabas.

"Hum!"

"Secondly, I am on my way to London."

"London! Egad! here's another of 'em! London, of course--well?"

"Where I hope to cut some figure in the--er--World of Fashion."

"Fashion--Gog and Magog!--why not try drowning. 'T would be simpler
and better for you in the long run. London! Fashion! in that hat,
that coat, those--"

"Sir," said Barnabas, flushing, "I have already--"

"Fashion, eh? Why, then, you must cramp that chest into an abortion,
all collar, tail, and buttons, and much too tight to breathe in; you
must struggle into breeches tight enough to burst, and cram your
feet into bepolished torments--"

"But, sir," Barnabas ventured again, "surely the Prince himself is
accountable for the prevailing fashion, and as you must know, he is
said to be the First Gentleman in Europe and--"

"Fiddle-de-dee and the devil, sir!--who says he is? A set of
crawling sycophants, sir--a gang of young reprobates and bullies.
First Gentleman in--I say pish, sir! I say bah! Don't I tell you
that gentlemen went out o' fashion when Bucks came in? I say there
isn't a gentleman left in England except perhaps one or two. This is
the age of your swaggering, prize-fighting Corinthians. London
swarms with 'em, Brighton's rank with 'em, yet they pervade even
these solitudes, damme! I saw one of 'em only half an hour ago,
limping out of a wood yonder. Ah! a polished, smiling rascal--a
dangerous rogue! One of your sleepy libertines--one of your lucky
gamblers--one of your conscienceless young reprobates equally ready
to win your money, ruin your sister, or shoot you dead as the case
may be, and all in the approved way of gallantry, sir; and, being all
this, and consequently high in royal favor, he is become a very lion
in the World of Fashion. Would you succeed, young sir, you must
model yourself upon him as nearly as may be."

"And he was limping, you say?" inquired Barnabas, thoughtfully.

"And serve him right, sir--egad! I say damme! he should limp in
irons to Botany Bay and stay there if I had my way."

"Did you happen to notice the color of his coat?" inquired Barnabas
again.

"Ay, 't was green, sir; but what of it--have you seen him?"

"I think I have, sir," said Barnabas, "if 't was a green coat he wore.
Pray, sir, what might his name be?"

"His name, sir, is Carnaby--Sir Mortimer Carnaby."

"Sir Mortimer Carnaby!" said Barnabas, nodding his head.

"And, sir," pursued his informant, regarding Barnabas from beneath
his frowning brows, "since it is your ambition to cut a figure in
the World of Fashion, your best course is to cultivate him, frequent
his society as much as possible, act upon his counsel, and in six
months, or less, I don't doubt you'll be as polished a young
blackguard as any of 'em. Good morning, sir."

Here the one-armed gentleman nodded and turned to enter the field.

"Sir," said Barnabas, "one moment! Since you have been so obliging
as to describe a Buck, will you tell me who and what in your
estimation is a gentleman?"

"A gentleman? Egad, sir! must I tell you that? No, I say I
won't--the Bo'sun shall." Hereupon the speaker faced suddenly about
and raised his voice: "Aft there!" he bellowed. "Pass the word for
the Bo'sun--I say where's Bo'sun Jerry?"

Immediately upon these words there came another roar surprisingly
hoarse, deep, and near at hand.

"Ay, ay, sir! here I be, Cap'n," the voice bellowed back. "Here I be,
sir, my helm hard a-starboard, studden sails set, and all a-drawing
alow and aloft, but making bad weather on it on account o' these
here furrers and this here jury-mast o' mine, but I'll fetch up
alongside in a couple o' tacks."

Now glancing in the direction of the voice, Barnabas perceived a
head and face that bobbed up and down on the opposite side of the
hedge. A red face it was, a jovial, good-humored face, lit up with
quick, bright eyes that twinkled from under a prodigious pair of
eyebrows; a square honest face whose broad good nature beamed out
from a mighty bush of curling whisker and pigtail, and was
surmounted by a shining, glazed hat.

Being come opposite to them, he paused to mop at his red face with a
neckerchief of vivid hue, which done, he touched the brim of the
glazed hat, and though separated from them by no more than the hedge
and ditch, immediately let out another roar--for all the world as
though he had been hailing the maintop of a Seventy-four in a gale
of wind.

"Here I be, Cap'n!" he bellowed, "studden sails set an' drawing,
tho' obleeged to haul my wind, d'ye see, on account o' this here
spar o' mine a-running foul o' the furrers." Having said the which,
he advanced again with a heave to port and a lurch to starboard very
like a ship in a heavy sea; this peculiarity of gait was explained as
he hove into full view, for then Barnabas saw that his left leg was
gone from the knee and had been replaced by a wooden one.

"Bo'sun," said the Captain, indicating Barnabas, with a flap of his
empty sleeve, "Bo'sun--favor me, I say oblige me by explaining to
this young gentleman your opinion of a gentleman--I say tell him who
you think is the First Gentleman in Europe!"

The Bo'sun stared from Barnabas to the Captain and back again.

"Begging your Honor's parding," said he, touching the brim of the
glazed hat, "but surely nobody don't need to be told that 'ere?"

"It would seem so, Jerry."

"Why then, Cap'n--since you ax me, I should tell you--bold an' free
like, as the First Gentleman in Europe--ah! or anywhere else--was
Lord Nelson an' your Honor."

As he spoke the Bo'sun stood up very straight despite his wooden leg,
and when he touched his hat again, his very pigtail seemed
straighter and stiffer than ever.

"Young sir," said the Captain, regarding Barnabas from the corners
of his eyes, "what d' ye say to that?"

"Why," returned Barnabas, "now I come to think of it, I believe the
Bo'sun is right."

"Sir," nodded the Captain, "the Bo'sun generally is; my Bo'sun, sir,
is as remarkable as that leg of his which he has contrived so that
it will screw on or off--in sections sir--I mean the wooden one."

"But," said Barnabas, beginning to stroke his chin in the
argumentative way that was all his father's, "but, sir, I was
meaning gentlemen yet living, and Lord Nelson, unfortunately, is dead."

"Bo'sun," said the Captain, "what d' ye say to that?"

"Why, Cap'n, axing the young gentleman's pardon, I beg leave to
remark, or as you might say, ob-serve, as men like 'im don't die,
they jest gets promoted, so to speak."

"Very true, Jerry," nodded the Captain again, "they do, but go to a
higher service, very true. And now, Bo'sun, the bread!"

"Ay, ay, sir!" said the Bo'sun, and, taking the neat parcel the
Captain held out, dropped it forthwith into the crown of the glazed
hat.

"Bo'sun, the meat! the young fool will be hungry by now, poor lad!"

"Ay, ay, Cap'n!" And, the meat having disappeared into the same
receptacle, the Bo'sun resumed his hat. Now turning to Barnabas, the
Captain held out his hand.

"Sir," said he, "I wish you good-by and a prosperous voyage,
and may you find yourself too much a man ever to fall so low
as 'fashion,'--I say dammit! The bread and meat, sir, are for
a young fool who thinks, like yourself, that the World of Fashion
is _the_ world. By heaven, sir, I say by Gog and Magog! if
I had a son with fashionable aspirations, I'd have him triced up
to the triangles and flogged with the 'cat'--I say with the
cat-o'-ninetails, sir, that is--no I wouldn't, besides I--never
had a son--she--died, sir--and good-by!"

"Stay," said Barnabas, "pray tell me to whom I am indebted for so
much good instruction."

"My name, sir, is Chumly--plain Chumly--spelt with a U and an
M, sir; none of your _olmondeleys_ for me, sir, and I beg you to
know that I have no crest or monogram or coat of arms; there's
neither or, azure, nor argent about me; I'm neither rampant, nor
passant, nor even regardant. And I want none of your sables, ermines,
bars, escallops, embattled fiddle-de-dees, or dencette tarradiddles,
sir. I'm Chumly, Captain John Chumly, plain and without any
fashionable varnish. Consequently, though I have commanded many good
ships, sloops, frigates, and even one Seventy-four--"

"The 'Bully-Sawyer,' Trafalgar!" added the Bo'sun.

"Seeing I am only John Chumly, with a U and an M, I retire still a
captain. Now, had I clapped in an _olmondeley_ and the rest of the
fashionable gewgaws, I should now be doubtless a Rear Admiral at the
very least, for the polite world--the World of Fashion is rampant,
sir, not to mention passant and regardant. So, if you would achieve
a reputation among Persons of Quality nowadays--bow, sir, bow
everywhere day in and day out--keep a supple back, young sir, and
spell your name with as many unnecessary letters as you can. And as
regards my idea of a gentleman, he is, I take it, a man--who is
gentle--I say good morning, young sir." As he ended, the Captain
took off his hat, with his remaining arm put it on again, and then
reached out, suddenly, and clapped Barnabas upon the shoulder.
"Here's wishing you a straight course, lad," said he with a smile,
every whit as young and winning as that which curved the lips of
Barnabas, "a fair course and a good, clean wind to blow all these
fashionable fooleries out of your head. Good-by!" So he nodded,
turned sharp about and went upon his way.

Hereupon the Bo'sun shook his head, took off the glazed hat, stared
into it, and putting it on again, turned and stumped along beside
Barnabas.



CHAPTER VIII


CONCERNING THE CAPTAIN'S ARM, THE BOSUN'S LEG, AND THE "BELISARIUS,"
SEVENTY-FOUR

"The 'Bully-Sawyer,' Trafalgar!" murmured the Bo'sun, as they went
on side by side; "you've 'eerd o' the 'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four,
o' course, young sir?"

"I'm afraid not," said Barnabas, rather apologetically.

"Not 'eerd o' the 'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four, Lord, young sir!
axing your pardon, but--not 'eerd o' the--why, she were in the van
that day one o' the first to engage the enemy--but a cable's length
to wind'ard o' the 'Victory'--one o' the first to come up wi' the
Mounseers, she were. An' now you tell me as you ain't 'eerd o'
the--Lord, sir!" and the Bo'sun sighed, and shook his head till it
was a marvel how the glazed hat kept its position.

"Won't you tell me of her, Bo'sun?"

"Tell you about the old 'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four, ay surely, sir,
surely. Ah! 't were a grand day for us, a grand day for our Nelson,
and a grand day for England--that twenty-first o' October--though 't
were that day as they French and Spanishers done for the poor old
'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four, and his honor's arm and my leg, d' ye
see. The wind were light that day as we bore down on their line--in
two columns, d' ye see, sir--we was in Nelson's column, the weather
line 'bout a cable's length astarn o' the 'Victory.' On we went,
creeping nearer and nearer--the 'Victory,' the old 'Bully-Sawyer,'
and the 'Temeraire'--and every now and then the Mounseers trying a
shot at us to find the range, d' ye see. Right ahead o' us lay the
'Santissima Trinidado'--a great four-decker, young sir--astarn o'
her was the 'Beaucenture,' and astarn o' her again, the 'Redoutable,'
wi' eight or nine others. On we went wi' the Admiral's favorite
signal flying, 'Engage the enemy more closely.' Ah, young sir, there
weren't no stand-offishness about our Nelson, God bless him! As we
bore closer their shot began to come aboard o' us, but the old
'Bully-Sawyer' never took no notice, no, not so much as a gun. Lord!
I can see her now as she bore down on their line; every sail drawing
aloft, the white decks below--the gleam o' her guns wi' their crews
stripped to the waist, every eye on the enemy, every man at his
post--very different she looked an hour arterwards. Well, sir, all
at once the great 'Santissima Trinidado' lets fly at us wi' her
whole four tiers o' broadside, raking us fore and aft, and that begun
it; down comes our foretopmast wi' a litter o' falling spars and
top-hamper, and the decks was all at once splashed, here and there,
wi' ugly blotches. But, Lord! the old 'Bully-Sawyer' never paid no
heed, and still the men stood to the guns, and his Honor, the Captain,
strolled up and down, chatting to his flag officer. Then the enemy's
ships opened on us one arter another, the 'Beaucenture,' the 'San
Nicholas,' and the 'Redoutable' swept and battered us wi' their
murderous broadsides; the air seemed full o' smoke and flame, and
the old 'Bully-Sawyer' in the thick o' it. But still we could see the
'Victory' through the drifting smoke ahead o' us wi' the signal
flying, 'Engage the enemy more closely,' and still we waited and
waited very patient, and crept down on the enemy nearer and nearer."

"And every minute their fire grew hotter, and their aim truer--down
came our mizzen-topgallant-mast, and hung down over our quarter;
away went our bowsprit--but we held on till we struck their line
'twixt the 'Santissima Trinidado' and the 'Beaucenture,' and, as we
crossed the Spanisher's wake, so close that our yard-arms grazed her
gilded starn, up flashed his Honor's sword, 'Now, lads!' cried he,
hailing the guns--and then--why then, afore I'd took my whistle
from my lips, the old 'Bully-Sawyer,' as had been so patient, so
very patient, let fly wi' every starboard gun as it bore, slap into
the great Spanisher's towering starn, and, a moment arter, her
larboard guns roared and flamed as her broadside smashed into the
'Beaucenture,' and 'bout five minutes arterwards we fell aboard o'
the 'Fougeux,' and there we lay, young sir, and fought it out
yard-arm to yard-arm, and muzzle to muzzle, so close that the flame
o' their guns blackened and scorched us, and we was obliged to heave
buckets o' water, arter every discharge, to put out the fire. Lord!
but the poor old 'Bully-Sawyer' were in a tight corner then, what
wi' the 'Fougeux' to port, the 'Beaucenture' to starboard, and the
great Spanisher hammering us astarn, d' ye see. But there was our
lads--what was left o' 'em--reeking wi' sweat, black wi' powder,
splashed wi' blood, fighting the guns; and there was his Honor the
Cap'n, leaning against the quarter-rail wi' his sword in one hand,
and his snuff-box in t' other--he had two hands then, d'ye see,
young sir; and there was me, hauling on the tackle o' one o' the
quarter-guns--it happened to be short-handed, d'ye see--when, all at
once, I felt a kind o' shock, and there I was flat o' my back, and
wi' the wreckage o' that there quarter-gun on this here left leg o'
mine, pinning me to the deck. As I lay there I heerd our lads a
cheering above the roar and din, and presently, the smoke lifting a
bit, I see the Spanisher had struck, but I likewise see as the poor
old 'Bully-Sawyer' were done for; she lay a wreck--black wi' smoke,
blistered wi' fire, her decks foul wi' blood, her fore and mainmasts
beat overboard, and only the mizzen standing. All this I see in a
glance--ah! and something more--for the mizzen-topgallant had been
shot clean through at the cap, and hung dangling. But now, what wi'
the quiver o' the guns and the roll o' the vessel, down she come
sliding, and sliding, nearer and nearer, till the splintered end
brought up ag'in the wreck o' my gun. But presently I see it begin
to slide ag'in nearer to me--very slow, d'ye see--inch by inch, and
there's me pinned on the flat o' my back, watching it come. 'Another
foot,' I sez, 'and there's an end o' Jerry Tucker--another ten inches,
another eight, another six.' Lord, young sir, I heaved and I
strained at that crushed leg o' mine; but there I was, fast as ever,
while down came the t'gallant--inch by inch. Then, all at once, I
kinder let go o' myself. I give a shout, sir, and then--why
then--there's his Honor the Cap'n leaning over me. 'Is that you,
Jerry?' sez he--for I were black wi' powder, d' ye see, sir. 'Is
that you, Jerry?' sez he. 'Ay, ay, sir,' sez I, 'it be me surely,
till this here spar slips down and does for me.' 'It shan't do that,'
sez he, very square in the jaw. 'It must,' sez I. 'No,' sez he.
'Nothing to stop it, sir,' sez I. 'Yes, there is,' sez he. 'What's
that,' sez I. 'This,' sez he, 'twixt his shut teeth, young sir. And
then, under that there hellish, murdering piece of timber, the Cap'n
sets his hand and arm--his naked hand and arm, sir!' In the name o'
God!' I sez, 'let it come, sir!' 'And lose my Bo'sun?--not me!' sez
he. Then, sir, I see his face go white--and whiter. I heerd the
bones o' his hand and arm crack--like so many sticks--and down he
falls atop o' me in a dead faint, sir."

"But the t'gallant were stopped, and the life were kept in this here
carcase o' mine. So--that's how the poor old 'Bully-Sawyer,'
Seventy-four, were done for--that's how his Honor lost his arm, and
me my leg, sir. And theer be the stocks, and theer be our young
gentleman inside o' 'em, as cool and smiling and comfortable as you
please."



CHAPTER IX


WHICH CONCERNS ITSELF, AMONG OTHER MATTERS, WITH THE VIRTUES OF A
PAIR OF STOCKS AND THE PERVERSITY OF FATHERS

Before them was a church, a small church, gray with age, and, like
age, lonely. It stood well back from the road which wound away down
the hill to the scattered cottages in the valley below.

About this church was a burial ground, upon whose green mounds and
leaning headstones the great square tower cast a protecting shadow
that was like a silent benediction. A rural graveyard this, very far
removed from the strife and bustle of cities, and, therefore, a good
place to sleep in.

A low stone wall was set about it, and in the wall was a gate with a
weather-beaten porch, and beside the gate were the stocks, and in
the stocks, with his hands in his pockets, and his back against the
wall, sat a young gentleman.

A lonely figure, indeed, whose boots, bright and polished, were
thrust helplessly enough through the leg-holes of the stocks, as
though offering themselves to the notice of every passer-by. Tall he
was, and _point-de-vice_ from those same helpless boots to the
gleaming silver buckle in his hat band.

Now observing the elegance of his clothes, and the modish languor of
his lounging figure, Barnabas at once recognized him as a gentleman
par excellence, and immediately the memory of his own country-made
habiliments and clumsy boots arose and smote him. The solitary
prisoner seemed in no whit cast down by his awkward and most
undignified situation, indeed, as they drew nearer, Barnabas could
hear him whistling softly to himself. At the sound of their approach,
however, he glanced up, and observed them from under the brim of the
buckled hat with a pair of the merriest blue eyes in the world.

"Aha, Jerry!" he cried, "whom do you bring to triumph over me in my
abasement? For shame, Jerry! Is this the act of a loving and
affectionate Bo'sun, the Bo'sun of my innocent childhood? Oh, bruise
and blister me!"

"Why, sir," answered the Bo'sun, beaming through his whiskers,
"this be only a young genelman, like yourself, as be bound for Lonnon,
Master Horatio."

The face, beneath the devil-may-care rake of the buckled hat, was
pale and handsome, and, despite its studied air of gentlemanly
weariness, the eyes were singularly quick and young, and wholly
ingenuous.

Now, as they gazed at each other, eye to eye--the merry blue and the
steadfast gray--suddenly, unaffectedly, as though drawn by instinct,
their hands reached out and met in a warm and firm clasp, and, in
that instant, the one forgot his modish languor, and the other his
country clothes and blunt-toed boots, for the Spirit of Youth stood
between them, and smile answered smile.

"And so you are bound for London, sir; pray, are you in a hurry to
get there?"

"Not particularly," Barnabas rejoined.

"Then there you have the advantage of me, for I am, sir. But here I
sit, a martyr for conscience sake. Now, sir, if you are in no great
hurry, and have a mind to travel in company with a martyr, just as
soon as I am free of these bilboes, we'll take the road together.
What d' ye say?"

"With pleasure!" answered Barnabas.

"Why then, sir, pray sit down. I blush to offer you the stocks, but
the grass is devilish dewy and damp, and there's deuce a chair to be
had--which is only natural, of course; but pray sit somewhere until
the Bo'sun, like the jolly old dog he is, produces the key, and lets
me out."

"Bo'sun, you'll perceive the gentleman is waiting, and, for that
matter, so am I. The key, Jerry, the key."

"Axing your pardons, gentlemen both," began the Bo'sun, taking
himself by the starboard whisker, "but orders is orders, and I was
to tell you, Master Horatio, sir, as there was firstly a round o'
beef cold, for breakfus!"

"Beef!" exclaimed the prisoner, striking himself on the crown of the
hat.

"Next a smoked tongue--" continued the Bo'sun.

"Tongue!" sighed the prisoner, turning to Barnabas. "You hear that,
sir, my unnatural father and uncle batten upon rounds of beef, and
smoked tongues, while I sit here, my legs at a most uncomfortable
angle, and my inner man as empty as a drum; oh, confound and curse it!"

"A brace o' cold fowl," went on the Bo'sun inexorably; "a biled 'am--"

"Enough, Jerry, enough, lest I forget filial piety and affection and
rail upon 'em for heartless gluttons."

"And," pursued the Bo'sun, still busy with his whisker and
abstracted of eye--"and I were to say as you was now free to come
out of they stocks--"

"Aha, Jerry! even the most Roman of fathers can relent, then. Out
with the key, Jerry! Egad! I can positively taste that beef from here;
unlock me, Jerry, that I may haste to pay my respects to Roman parent,
uncle, and beef--last, but not least, Jerry--"

"Always supposing," added the Bo'sun, giving a final twist to his
whisker, "that you've 'ad time to think better on it, d' ye see, and
change your mind, Master Horatio, my Lord."

Barnabas pricked up his ears; a lord, and in the stocks! preposterous!
and yet surely these were the boots, and clothes, and hat of a lord.

"Change my mind, Jerry!" exclaimed his Lordship, "impossible; you
know I never change my mind. What! yield up my freedom for a mess of
beef and tongue, or even a brace of cold fowl--"

"Not to mention a cold biled 'am, Master Horatio, sir."

"No, Jerry, not for all the Roman parents, rounds of beef,
tyrannical uncles and cold hams in England. Tempt me no more, Jerry;
Bo'sun, avaunt, and leave me to melancholy and emptiness."

"Why then," said the Bo'sun, removing the glazed hat and extracting
therefrom the Captain's meat packages, "I were to give you this meat,
Master Horatio, beef and bread, my Lord."

"From the Captain, I'll be sworn, eh, Jerry?"

"Ay, ay, my Lord, from his Honor the Cap'n."

"Now God bless him for a tender-hearted old martinet, eh, Bo'sun?"

"Which I begs to say, amen, Master Horatio, sir."

"To be sure there is nothing Roman about my uncle." Saying which,
his Lordship, tearing open the packages, and using his fingers as
forks, began to devour the edibles with huge appetite.

"There was a tongue, I think you mentioned, Jerry," he inquired
suddenly.

"Ay, sir, likewise a cold biled 'am."

His Lordship sighed plaintively.

"And yet," said he, sandwiching a slice of beef between two pieces
of bread with great care and nicety, "who would be so mean-spirited
as to sell that freedom which is the glorious prerogative of man
(and which I beg you to notice is a not unpleasing phrase, sir) who,
I demand, would surrender this for a base smoked tongue?"

"Not forgetting a fine, cold biled 'am, Master Horatio, my Lord. And
now, wi' your permission, I'll stand away for the village, leaving
you to talk wi' this here young gentleman and take them vittles
aboard, till I bring up alongside again, Cap'n's orders, Master
Horatio." Saying which, the Bo'sun touched the glazed hat, went about,
and, squaring his yards, bore away for the village.

"Sir," said his Lordship, glancing whimsically at Barnabas over his
fast-disappearing hunch of bread and meat, "you have never
been--called upon to--sit in the stocks, perhaps?"

"Never--as yet," answered Barnabas, smiling.

"Why, then, sir, let me inform you the stocks have their virtues.
I'll not deny a chair is more comfortable, and certainly more
dignified, but give me the stocks for thought, there's nothing like
'em for profound meditation. The Bible says, I believe, that one
should seek the seclusion of one's closet, but, believe me, for deep
reverie there's nothing like the stocks. You see, a poor devil has
nothing else to do, therefore he meditates."

"And pray," inquired Barnabas, "may I ask what brings you sitting in
this place of thought?"

"Three things, sir, namely, matrimony, a horse race, and a father.
Three very serious matters, sir, and the last the gravest of all.
For you must know I am, shall I say--blessed? yes, certainly,
blessed in a father who is essentially Roman, being a man of his word,
sir. Now a man of his word, more especially a father, may prove a
very mixed blessing. Speaking of fathers, generally, sir, you may
have noticed that they are the most unreasonable class of beings,
and delight to arrogate to themselves an authority which is, to say
the least, trying; my father especially so--for, as I believe I
hinted before, he is so infernally Roman."

"Indeed," smiled Barnabas, "the best of fathers are, after all, only
human."

"Aha!" cried his Lordship, "there speaks experience. And yet, sir,
these human fathers, one and all, believe in what I may term the
divine right of fathers to thwart, and bother, and annoy sons old
enough to be--ha--"

"To know their own minds," said Barnabas.

"Precisely," nodded his Lordship. "Consequently, my Roman father and
I fell out--my honored Roman and I frequently do fall out--but this
morning, sir, unfortunately 't was before breakfast." Here his
Lordship snatched a hasty bite of bread and meat with great appetite
and gusto, while Barnabas sat, dreamy of eye, staring away across
the valley.

"Pray," said he suddenly, yet with his gaze still far away,
"do you chance to be acquainted with a Sir Mortimer Carnaby?"

"Acquainted," cried his Lordship, speaking with his mouth full.
"Oh, Gad, sir, every one who _is_ any one is acquainted with Sir
Mortimer Carnaby."

"Ah!" said Barnabas musingly, "then you probably know him."

"He honors me with his friendship."

"Hum!" said Barnabas.

Here his Lordship glanced up quickly and with a slight contraction
of the brow.

"Sir," he retorted, with a very creditable attempt at dignity,
despite the stocks and his hunch of bread and meat, "Sir, permit me
to add that I am proud of his friendship."

"And pray," inquired Barnabas, turning his eyes suddenly to his
companion's face, "do you like him?"

"Like him, sir!"

"Or trust him!" persisted Barnabas, steadfast-eyed.

"Trust him, sir," his Lordship repeated, his gaze beginning to wander,
"trust him!" Here, chancing to espy what yet remained of the bread
and meat, he immediately took another bite, and when he spoke it was
in a somewhat muffled tone in consequence. "Trust him? Egad, sir,
the boot's on t'other leg, for 'twixt you and me, I owe him a cool
thousand, as it is!"

"He is a great figure in the fashionable world, I understand," said
Barnabas.

"He is the most admired Buck in London, sir," nodded his Lordship,
"the most dashing, the most sought after, a boon companion of
Royalty itself, sir, the Corinthian of Corinthians."

"Do you mean," said Barnabas, with his eyes on the distance again,
"that he is a personal friend of the Prince?"

"One of the favored few," nodded his Lordship, "and, talking of him,
brings us back to my honored Roman."

"How so?" inquired Barnabas, his gaze on the distance once more.

"Because, sir, with that unreasonableness peculiar to fathers, he
has taken a violent antipathy to my friend Carnaby, though, as far
as I know, he has never met my friend Carnaby. This morning, sir, my
father summoned me to the library. 'Horatio,' says he, in his most
Roman manner,--he never calls me Horatio unless about to treat me to
the divine right of fathers,--'Horatio,' says he, 'you're old enough
to marry.' 'Indeed, I greatly fear so, sir,' says I. 'Then,' says he,
solemn as an owl, 'why not settle down here and marry?' Here he
named a certain lovely person whom, 'twixt you and me, sir, I have
long ago determined to marry, but, in my own time, be it understood.
'Sir,' said I, 'believe me I would ride over and settle the matter
with her this very morning, only that I am to race 'Moonraker'
(a horse of mine, you'll understand, sir) against Sir Mortimer
Carnaby's 'Clasher' and if I should happen to break my neck, it
might disappoint the lady in question, or even break her heart.'
'Horatio,' says my Roman--more Roman than ever--'I strongly
disapprove of your sporting propensities, and, more especially, the
circle of acquaintances you have formed in London.' 'Blackguardedly
Bucks and cursed Corinthians!' snarls my uncle, the Captain,
flapping his empty sleeve at me. 'That, sirs, I deeply regret,' says
I, preserving a polite serenity, 'but the match is made, and a man
must needs form some circle of acquaintance when he lives in London.'
'Then,' says my honored Roman, with that lack of reasonableness
peculiar to fathers, 'don't live in London, and as for the horse
match give it up.' 'Quite impossible, sir,' says I, calmly determined,
'the match has been made and recorded duly at White's, and if you
were as familiar with the fashionable sporting set as I, you would
understand.' 'Pish, boy,' says my Roman--'t is a trick fathers have
at such times of casting one's youth in one's teeth, you may
probably have noticed this for yourself, sir--'Pish, boy,' says he,
'I know, I know, I've lived in London!' 'True, sir,' says I, 'but
things have changed since your day, your customs went out with your
tie-wigs, and are as antiquated as your wide-skirted coats and
buckled shoes'--this was a sly dig at my worthy uncle, the Captain,
sir. 'Ha!' cries he, flapping his empty sleeve at me again, 'and
nice figure-heads you made of yourselves with your ridiculous stocks
and skin-tight breeches,' and indeed," said his Lordship, stooping
to catch a side-view of his imprisoned legs, "they are a most
excellent fit, I think you'll agree."

"Marvellous!" sighed Barnabas, observing them with the eyes of envy.

"Well, sir," pursued his Lordship, "the long and short of it was--my
honored Roman, having worked himself into a state of 'divine right'
necessary to the occasion, vows that unless I give up the race and
spend less time and money in London, he will clap me into the stocks.
'Then, sir,' says I, smiling and unruffled, 'pray clap me in as
soon as you will'; and he being, as I told you, a man of his
word,--well--here I am."

"Where I find you enduring your situation with a remarkable fortitude,"
said Barnabas.

"Egad, sir! how else should I endure it? I flatter myself I am
something of a philosopher, and thus, enduring in the cause of
freedom and free will, I scorn my bonds, and am consequently free.
Though, I'll admit, 'twixt you and me, sir, the position cramps
one's legs most damnably."

"Now in regard to Sir Mortimer Carnaby," persisted Barnabas,
"your father, it would seem, neither likes nor trusts him."

"My father, sir, is--a father, consequently perverse. Sir Mortimer
Carnaby is my friend, therefore, though my father has never met Sir
Mortimer Carnaby, he takes a mortal antipathy to Sir Mortimer Carnaby,
Q.E.D., and all the rest of it."

"On the other hand," pursued Barnabas the steadfast-eyed,
"you--admire, respect, and honor your friend Sir Mortimer Carnaby!"

"Admire him, sir, who wouldn't? There isn't such another all-round
sportsman in London--no, nor England. Only last week he drove
cross-country in his tilbury over hedges and ditches, fences and all,
and never turned a hair. Beat the 'Fighting Tanner' at Islington in
four rounds, and won over ten thousand pounds in a single night's
play from Egalité d'Orléans himself. Oh, egad, sir! Carnaby's the
most wonderful fellow in the world!"

"Though a very indifferent boxer!" added Barnabas.

"Indiff--!" His Lordship let fall the last fragments of his bread
and meat, and stared at Barnabas in wide-eyed amazement. "Did you
say--indifferent?"

"I did," nodded Barnabas, "he is much too passionate ever to make a
good boxer."

"Why, deuce take me! I tell you there isn't a pugilist in England
cares to stand up to him with the muffles, or bare knuckles!"

"Probably because there are no pugilists left in England, worth the
name," said Barnabas.

"Gad, sir! we are all pugilists nowadays--the Manly Art is all the
fashion--and, I think, a very excellent fashion. And permit me to
tell you I know what I'm talking of, I have myself boxed with nearly
all the best 'milling coves' in London, and am esteemed no novice at
the sport. Indeed love of the 'Fancy' was born in me, for my father,
sir--though occasionally Roman--was a great patron of the game, and
witnessed the great battle between 'Glorious John Barty' and
Nathaniel Bell--"

"At Dartford!" added Barnabas.

"And when Bell was knocked down, at the end of the fight--"

"After the ninety-seventh round!" nodded Barnabas.

"My father, sir, was the first to jump into the ring and clasp the
Champion's fist--and proud he is to tell of it!"

"Proud!" said Barnabas, staring.

"Proud, sir--yes, why not? so should I have been--so would any man
have been. Why let me tell you, sir, at home, in the hall, between
the ensign my uncle's ship bore through Trafalgar, and the small
sword my grandfather carried at Blenheim, we have the belt John Barty
wore that day."

"His belt!" exclaimed Barnabas, "my--John Barty's belt?"

"So you see I should know what I am talking about. Therefore, when
you condemn such a justly celebrated man of his hands as my friend
Carnaby, I naturally demand to know who you are to pronounce judgment?"

"I am one," answered Barnabas, "who has been taught the science by
that very Nathaniel Bell and 'Glorious John' you mention."

"Hey--what?--what?" cried his Lordship.

"I have boxed with them regularly every day," Barnabas continued,
"and I have learned that strength of arm, quickness of foot, and a
true eye are all unavailing unless they be governed by a calm,
unruffled temper, for passion clouds the judgment, and in fighting
as in all else, it is judgment that tells in the long run."

"Now, by heaven!" exclaimed his Lordship, jerking his imprisoned
legs pettishly, "if I didn't happen to be sitting trussed up here,
and we had a couple of pair of muffles, why we might have had a
friendly 'go' just to take each other's measures; as it is--"

But at this moment they heard a hoarse bellow, and, looking round,
beheld the Bo'sun who, redder of face than ever and pitching and
rolling in his course, bore rapidly down on them, and hauling his
wind, took off the glazed hat.

"Ha, Jerry!" exclaimed his Lordship, "what now? If you happen to
have anything else eatable in that hat of yours, out with it, for I
am devilish sharp-set still."

"Why, I have got summat, Master Horatio, but it aren't bread nor yet
beef, nor yet again biled 'am, my Lord--it can't be eat nor it can't
be drank--and here it be!" and with the words the Bo'sun produced a
ponderous iron key.

"Why, my dear old Jerry--my lovely Bo'sun--"

"Captured by his Honor, Master Horatio--carried off by the Cap'n
under your own father's very own nose, sir--or as you might say, cut
out under the enemy's guns, my Lord!" With which explanation the old
sailor unfastened the padlock, raised the upper leg-board, and set
the prisoner free.

"Ah!--but it's good to have the use of one's legs again!" exclaimed
his Lordship, stretching the members in question, "and that," said he,
turning to Barnabas with his whimsical smile, "that is another value
of the stocks--one never knows how pleasant and useful a pair of
legs can be until one has sat with 'em stretched out helplessly at
right angles for an hour or two." Here, the Bo'sun having stowed
back the key and resumed his hat, his Lordship reached out and
gripped his hand. "So it was Uncle John, was it, Jerry--how very
like Uncle John--eh, Jerry?"

"Never was nobody born into this here vale o' sorrer like the
Cap'n--no, nor never will be--nohow!" said the Bo'sun with a solemn
nod.

"God bless him, eh, Jerry?"

"Amen to that, my Lord."

"You'll let him know I said 'God bless him,' Jerry?"

"I will, my Lord, ay, ay, God bless him it is, Master Horatio!"

"Now as to my Roman--my father, Jerry, tell him--er--"

"Be you still set on squaring away for London, then, sir?"

"As a rock, Jerry, as a rock!"

"Then 't is 'good-by,' you're wishing me?"

"Yes, 'good-by,' Jerry, remember 'God bless Uncle John,'
and--er--tell my father that--ah, what the deuce shall you tell him
now?--it should be something a little affecting--wholly dutiful, and
above all gently dignified--hum! Ah, yes--tell him that whether I
win or lose the race, whether I break my unworthy neck or no, I
shall never forget that I am the Earl of Bamborough's son. And as
for you, Jerry, why, I shall always think of you as the jolly old
sea dog who used to stoop down to let me get at his whiskers, they
were a trifle blacker in those days. Gad! how I did pull 'em, Jerry,
even then I admired your whiskers, didn't I? I swear there isn't such
another pair in England. Good-by, Jerry!" Saying which his Lordship
turned swiftly upon his heel and walked on a pace or two, while
Barnabas paused to wring the old seaman's brown hand; then they went
on down the hill together.

And the Bo'sun, sitting upon the empty stocks with his wooden pin
sticking straight out before him, sighed as he watched them striding
London-wards, the Lord's son, tall, slender, elegant, a gentleman to
his finger tips, and the commoner's son, shaped like a young god,
despite his homespun, and between them, as it were linking them
together, fresh and bright and young as the morning, went the joyous
Spirit of Youth.

Now whether the Bo'sun saw aught of this, who shall say, but old
eyes see many things. And thus, perhaps, the sigh that escaped the
battered old man-o'-war's man's lips was only because of his own
vanished youth--his gray head and wooden leg, after all.



CHAPTER X


WHICH DESCRIBES A PERIPATETIC CONVERSATION

"Sir," said his Lordship, after they had gone some way in silence,
"you are thoughtful, not to say, devilish grave!"

"And you," retorted Barnabas, "have sighed--three times."

"No, did I though?--why then, to be candid,--I detest saying
'Good-by!'--and I have been devoutly wishing for two pair of muffles,
for, sir, I have taken a prodigious liking to you--but--"

"But?" inquired Barnabas.

"Some time since you mentioned the names of two men--champions
both--ornaments of the 'Fancy'--great fighters of unblemished
reputation."

"You mean my--er--that is, Natty Bell and John Barty."

"Precisely!--you claim to have--boxed with them, sir?"

"Every day!" nodded Barnabas.

"With both of them,--I understand?"

"With both of them."

"Hum!"

"Sir," said Barnabas, growing suddenly polite, "do you doubt my word?"

"Well," answered his Lordship, with his whimsical look, "I'll admit
I could have taken it easier had you named only one, for surely, sir,
you must be aware that these were Masters of the Fist--the greatest
since the days of Jack Broughton and Mendoza."

"I know each had been champion--but it would almost seem that I have
entertained angels unawares!--and I boxed with both because they
happened to live together."

"Then, sir," said the Viscount, extending his hand in his frank,
impetuous manner, "you are blest of the gods. I congratulate you and,
incidentally, my desire for muffles grows apace,--you must
positively put 'em on with me at the first opportunity."

"Right willingly, sir," said Barnabas.

"But deuce take me!" exclaimed the Viscount, "if we are to become
friends, which I sincerely hope, we ought at least to know each
other's name. Mine, sir, is Bellasis, Horatio Bellasis; I was named
Horatio after Lord Nelson, consequently my friends generally call me
Tom, Dick, or Harry, for with all due respect to his Lordship,
Horatio is a very devil of a name, now isn't it? Pray what's yours?"

"Barnabas--Beverley. At your service."

"Barnabas--hum! Yours isn't much better. Egad! I think 't is about
as bad. Barnabas!--No, I'll call you Bev, on condition that you make
mine Dick; what d' ye say, my dear Bev?"

"Agreed, Dick," answered Barnabas, smiling, whereupon they stopped,
and having very solemnly shaken hands, went on again, merrier than
ever.

"Now what," inquired the Viscount, suddenly, "what do you think of
marriage, my dear Bev?"

"Marriage?" repeated Barnabas, staring.

"Marriage!" nodded his Lordship, airily, "matrimony, Bev,--wedlock,
my dear fellow?"

"I--indeed I have never had occasion to think of it."

"Fortunate fellow!" sighed his companion.

"Until--this morning!" added Barnabas, as his fingers encountered a
small, soft, lacy bundle in his pocket.

"Un-fortunate fellow!" sighed the Viscount, shaking his head.
"So you are haunted by the grim spectre, are you? Well, that should
be an added bond between us. Not that I quarrel with matrimony, mark
you, Bev; in the abstract it is a very excellent institution,
though--mark me again!--when a man begins to think of marriage it is
generally the beginning of the end. Ah, my dear fellow! many a
bright and promising career has been blighted--sapped--snapped
off--and--er--ruthlessly devoured by the ravenous maw of marriage.
There was young Egerton with a natural gift for boxing, and one of
the best whips I ever knew--we raced our coaches to Brighton and
back for a thousand a side and he beat me by six yards--a splendid
all round sportsman--ruined by matrimony! He's buried somewhere in
the country and passing his days in the humdrum pursuit of being
husband and father. Oh, bruise and blister me! it's all very pitiful,
and yet"--here the Viscount sighed again--"I do not quarrel with
the state, for marriage has often proved a--er--very present help in
the time of trouble, Bev."

"Trouble?" repeated Barnabas.

"Money-troubles, my dear Bev, pecuniary unpleasantnesses, debts, and
duns, and devilish things of that kind."

"But surely," said Barnabas, "no man--no honorable man would marry
and burden a woman with debts of his own contracting?"

At this, the Viscount looked at Barnabas, somewhat askance, and fell
to scratching his chin. "Of course," he continued, somewhat hurriedly,
"I shall have all the money I need--more than I shall need some day."

"You mean," inquired Barnabas, "when your father dies?"

Here the Viscount's smooth brow clouded suddenly.

"Sir," said he, "we will not mention that contingency. My father is
a great Roman, I'll admit, but, 'twixt you and me,--I--I'm devilish
fond of him, and, strangely enough, I prefer to have him Romanly
alive and my purse empty--than to possess his money and have him
dea--Oh damn it! let's talk of something else,--Carnaby for instance."

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "your friend, Carnaby."

"Well, then, in the first place, I think I hinted to you that I owe
him five thousand pounds?"

"Five thousand! indeed, no, it was only one, when you mentioned it
to me last."

"Was it so? but then, d'ye see, Bev, we were a good two miles nearer
my honored Roman when I mentioned the matter before, and trees
sometimes have ears, consequently I--er--kept it down a bit, my dear
Bev, I kept it down a bit; but the fact remains that it's five, and
I won't be sure but that there's an odd hundred or two hanging on to
it somewhere, beside."

"You led your father to believe it was only one thousand, then?"

"I did, Bev; you see money seems to make him so infernally Roman,
and I've been going the pace a bit these last six months. There's
another thousand to Jerningham, but he can wait, then there's six
hundred to my tailor, deuce take him!"

"Six hundred!" exclaimed Barnabas, aghast.

"Though I won't swear it isn't seven."

"To be sure he is a very excellent tailor," Barnabas added.

"Gad, yes! and the fellow knows it! Then, let's see, there's another
three hundred and fifty to the coach builders, how much does that
make, Bev?"

"Six thousand, nine hundred and fifty pounds!"

"So much--deuce take it! And that's not all, you know."

"Not?"

"No, Bev, I dare say I could make you up another three or four
hundred or so if I were to rake about a bit, but six thousand is
enough to go on with, thank you!"

"Six thousand pounds is a deal of money to owe!" said Barnabas.

"Yes," answered the Viscount, scratching his chin again, "though,
mark me, Bev, it might be worse! Slingsby, a friend of mine, got
plucked for fifteen thousand in a single night last year. Oh! it
might be worse. As it is, Bev, the case lies thus: unless I win the
race some three weeks from now--I've backed myself heavily, you'll
understand--unless I win, I am between the deep sea of matrimony and
the devil of old Jasper Gaunt."

"And who is Jasper Gaunt?"

"Oh, delicious innocence! Ah, Bev! it's evident you are new to London.
Gaunt is an outcome of the City, as harsh and dingy as its bricks,
as flinty and hard as its pavements. Gad! most of our set know
Jasper Gaunt--to their cost! Who is Jasper Gaunt, you ask; well, my
dear fellow, question Slingsby of the Guards, he's getting deeper
every day, poor old Sling! Ask it, but in a whisper, at Almack's, or
White's, or Brooke's, and my Lord this, that, or t'other shall tell
you pat and to the point in no measured terms. Ask it of wretched
debtors in the prisons, of haggard toilers in the streets, of
pale-faced women and lonely widows, and they'll tell you, one and all,
that Jasper Gaunt is the harshest, most merciless bloodsucker that
ever battened and grew rich on the poverty and suffering of his
fellow men, and--oh here we are!"

Saying which, his Lordship abruptly turned down an unexpected and
very narrow side lane, where, screened behind three great trees, was
a small inn, or hedge tavern with a horse-trough before the door
and a sign whereon was the legend, "The Spotted Cow," with a
representation of that quadruped below, surely the very spottiest
of spotted cows that ever adorned an inn sign.

"Not much to look at, my dear Bev," said the Viscount, with a wave
of his hand towards the inn, "but it's kept by an old sailor, a
shipmate of the Bo'sun's. I can at least promise you a good breakfast,
and the ale you will find excellent. But first I want to show you a
very small demon of mine, a particularly diminutive fiend; follow me,
my dear fellow."

So, by devious ways, the Viscount led Barnabas round to the back of
the inn, and across a yard to where, beyond a gate, was a rick-yard,
and beyond that again, a small field or paddock. Now, within this
paddock, the admired of a group of gaping rustics, was the very
smallest groom Barnabas had ever beheld, for, from the crown of his
leather postilion's hat to the soles of his small top boots, he
could not have measured more than four feet at the very most.

"There he is, Bev, behold him!" said the Viscount, with his
whimsical smile, "the very smallest fiend, the most diminutive demon
that ever wore top boots!"

The small groom was engaged in walking a fine blood horse up and
down the paddock, or rather the horse was walking the groom, for
the animal being very tall and powerful and much given to divers
startings, snortings, and tossings of the head, it thus befell that
to every step the diminutive groom marched on terra firma, he took
one in mid-air, at which times, swinging pendulum-like, he poured
forth a stream of invective that the most experienced ostler, guard,
or coachman might well have envied, and all in a voice so gruff, so
hoarse and guttural, despite his tender years, as filled the
listening rustics with much apparent awe and wonder.

"And he can't be a day older than fourteen, my dear Bev," said the
Viscount, with a complacent nod, as they halted in the perfumed
shade of an adjacent rick; "that's his stable voice assumed for the
occasion, and, between you and me, I can't think how he does it. Egad!
he's the most remarkable boy that ever wore livery, the sharpest,
the gamest. I picked him up in London, a ragged urchin--caught him
picking my pocket, Been with me ever since, and I wouldn't part with
him for his weight in gold."

"Picking your pocket!" said Barnabas, "hum!"

The Viscount looked a trifle uncomfortable. "Why you see, my dear
fellow," he explained, "he was so--so deuced--small, Bev, a wretched
little pale-faced, shivering atomy, peeping up at me over a ragged
elbow waiting to be thrashed, and I liked him because he didn't
snivel, and he was too insignificant for prison, so, when he told me
how hungry he was, I forgot to cuff his shrinking, dirty little head,
and suggested a plate of beef at one of the à la mode shops. 'Beef?'
says he. 'Yes, beef,' says I, 'could you eat any?' 'Beef?' says he
again, 'couldn't I? why, I could eat a ox whole, I could!' So I
naturally dubbed him Milo of Crotona on the spot."

"And has he ever tried to pick your pocket since?"

"No, Bev; you see, he's never hungry nowadays. Gad!" said the
Viscount, taking Barnabas by the arm, "I've set the fashion in tigers,
Bev. Half the fellows at White's and Brooke's are wild to get that
very small demon of mine; but he isn't to be bought or bribed or
stolen--for what there is of him is faithful, Bev,--and now come in
to breakfast."

So saying, the Viscount led Barnabas across the yard to a certain
wing or off-shoot of the inn, where beneath a deep, shadowy gable
was a door. Yet here he must needs pause a moment to glance down at
himself to settle a ruffle and adjust his hat ere, lifting the latch,
he ushered Barnabas into a kitchen.

A kitchen indeed? Ay, but such a kitchen! Surely wood was never
whiter, nor pewter more gleaming than in this kitchen; surely no
flagstones ever glowed a warmer red; surely oak panelling never
shone with a mellower lustre; surely no viands could look more
delicious than the great joint upon the polished sideboard, flanked
by the crisp loaf and the yellow cheese; surely no flowers could
ever bloom fairer or smell sweeter than those that overflowed the
huge punch bowl at the window and filled the Uncle Toby jugs upon
the mantel; surely nowhere could there be at one and the same time
such dainty orderliness and comfortable comfort as in this kitchen.

Indeed the historian is bold to say that within no kitchen in this
world were all things in such a constant state of winking, twinkling,
gleaming and glowing purity, from the very legs of the oaken table
and chairs, to the hacked and battered old cutlass above the chimney,
as in this self-same kitchen of "The Spotted Cow."

And yet--and yet! Sweeter, whiter, warmer, purer, and far more
delicious than anything in this kitchen (or out of it) was she who
had started up to her feet so suddenly, and now stood with blushing
cheeks and hurried bosom, gazing shy-eyed upon the young Viscount;
all dainty grace from the ribbons in her mob-cap to the slender,
buckled shoe peeping out beneath her print gown; and Barnabas,
standing between them, saw her flush reflected as it were for a
moment in the Viscount's usually pale cheek.

"My Lord!" said she, and stopped.

"Why, Clemency, you--you are--handsomer than ever!" stammered the
Viscount.

"Oh, my Lord!" she exclaimed; and as she turned away Barnabas
thought there were tears in her eyes.

"Did we startle you, Clemency? Forgive me--but I--that is,
we are--hungry, ravenous. Er--this is a friend of mine--Mr.
Beverley--Mistress Clemency Dare; and oh, Clemency, I've had no
breakfast!"

But seeing she yet stood with head averted, the Viscount with a
freedom born of long acquaintance, yet with a courtly deference also,
took the hand that hung so listless, and looked down into the
flushed beauty of her face, and, as he looked, beheld a great tear
that crept upon her cheek.

"Why, Clemency!" he exclaimed, his raillery gone, his voice suddenly
tender, "Clemency--you're crying, my dear maid; what is it?"

Now, beholding her confusion, and because of it, Barnabas turned
away and walked to the other end of the kitchen, and there it
chanced that he spied two objects that lay beneath the table, and
stooping, forthwith, he picked them up. They were small and
insignificant enough in themselves--being a scrap of crumpled paper,
and a handsome embossed coat button; yet as Barnabas gazed upon this
last, he smiled grimly, and so smiling slipped the objects into his
pocket.

"Come now, Clemency," persisted the Viscount, gently, "what is wrong?"

"Nothing; indeed, nothing, my Lord."

"Ay, but there is. See how red your eyes are; they quite spoil your
beauty--"

"Beauty!" she cried. "Oh, my Lord; even you!"

"What? What have I said? You are beautiful you know, Clem, and--"

"Beauty!" she cried again, and turned upon him with clenched hands
and dark eyes aflame. "I hate it--oh, I hate it!" and with the
words she stamped her foot passionately, and turning, sped away,
banging the door behind her.

"Now, upon my soul!" said the Viscount, taking off his hat and
ruffling up his auburn locks, "of all the amazing, contradictory
creatures in the world, Bev! I've known Clemency--hum--a goodish time,
my dear fellow; but never saw her like this before, I wonder what
the deuce--"

But at this juncture a door at the further end of the kitchen opened,
and a man entered. He, like the Bo'sun, was merry of eye, breezy of
manner, and hairy of visage; but there all similarity ended, for,
whereas the Bo'sun was a square man, this man was round--round of
head, round of face, and round of eye. At the sight of the Viscount,
his round face expanded in a genial smile that widened until it was
lost in whisker, and he set two fingers to his round forehead and
made a leg.

"Lord love me, my Lord, and is it you?" he exclaimed, clasping the
hand the Viscount had extended. "Now, from what that imp of a
bye--axing his parding--your tiger, Mr. Milo, told me, I were to
expect you at nine sharp--and here it be nigh on to ten--"

"True, Jack; but then both he and I reckoned without my father. My
father had the bad taste to--er--disagree with me, hence I am late,
Jack, and breakfastless, and my friend Mr. Beverley is as hungry as
I am. Bev, my dear fellow, this is a very old friend of mine--Jack
Truelove, who fought under my uncle at Trafalgar."

"Servant, sir!" says Jack, saluting Barnabas.

"The 'Belisarius,' Seventy-four!" smiled Barnabas.

"Ay, ay," says Jack, with a shake of his round head, "the poor old
'Bully-Sawyer'--But, Lord love me! if you be hungry--"

"Devilish!" said the Viscount, "but first, Jack--what's amiss with
Clemency?"

"Clemency? Why, where be that niece o' mine?"

"She's run away, Jack. I found her in tears, and I had scarce said a
dozen words to her when--hey presto! She's off and away."

"Tears is it, my Lord?--and 'er sighed, too, I reckon. Come now--'er
sighed likewise. Eh, my Lord?"

"Why, yes, she may have sighed, but--"

"There," says Jack, rolling his round head knowingly, "it be nought
but a touch o' love, my Lord."

"Love!" exclaimed the Viscount sharply.

"Ah, love! Nieces is difficult craft, and very apt to be took all
aback by the wind o' love, as you might say--but Lord! it's only
natural arter all. Ah! the rearing o' motherless nieces is a
ticklish matter, gentlemen--as to nevvys, I can't say, never 'aving
'ad none _to_ rear--but nieces--Lord! I could write a book on 'em,
that is, s'posing I could write, which I can't; for, as I've told
you many a time, my Lord, and you then but a bye over here on a
visit, wi' the Bo'sun, or his Honor the Cap'n, and you no older then
than--er--Mr. Milo, though longer in the leg, as I 've told you many
a time and oft--a very ob-servant man I be in most things, consequent'
I aren't observed this here niece--this Clem o' mine fair weather
and foul wi'out larning the kind o' craft nieces be. Consequent',
when you tell me she weeps, and likewise sighs, then I make bold to
tell you she's got a touch o' love, and you can lay to that, my Lord."

"Love," exclaimed the Viscount again, and frowning this time;
"now, who the devil should she be in love with!"

"That, my Lord, I can't say, not having yet observed. But now, by
your leave, I'll pass the word for breakfast."

Hereupon the landlord of "The Spotted Cow" opened the lattice, and
sent a deep-lunged hail across the yard.

"Ahoy!" he roared, "Oliver, Penelope, Bess--breakfast ho!--breakfast
for the Viscount--and friend. They be all watching of that theer
imp--axing his pardon--that theer groom o' yours, what theer be of
him, which though small ain't by no means to be despised, him being
equally ready wi' his tongue as his fist."

Here entered two maids, both somewhat flushed with haste but both
equally bright of eye, neat of person, and light of foot, who very
soon had laid a snowy cloth and duly set out thereon the beef, the
bread and cheese, and a mighty ham, before which the Viscount seated
himself forthwith, while their sailor host, more jovial than ever,
pointed out its many beauties with an eloquent thumb. And so, having
seen his guests seated opposite each other, he pulled his forelock
at them, made a leg to them, and left them to their breakfast.



CHAPTER XI


IN WHICH FISTS ARE CLENCHED; AND OF A SELFISH MAN, WHO WAS AN
APOSTLE OF PEACE

Conversation, though in itself a blessed and delightful thing, yet
may be sometimes out of place, and wholly impertinent. If wine is a
loosener of tongues, surely food is the greatest, pleasantest, and
most complete silencer; for what man when hunger gnaws and food is
before him--what man, at such a time, will stay to discuss the
wonders of the world, of science--or even himself?

Thus our two young travellers, with a very proper respect for the
noble fare before them, paid their homage to it in silence--but a
silence that was eloquent none the less. At length, however, each
spoke, and each with a sigh.

_The Viscount_. "The ham, my dear fellow--!"

_Barnabas_. "The beef, my dear Dick--!"

_The Viscount and Barnabus_. "Is beyond words."

Having said which, they relapsed again into a silence, broken only
by the occasional rattle of knife and fork.

_The Viscount_ (hacking at the loaf). "It's a grand thing to be hungry,
my dear fellow."

_Barnabas_ (glancing over the rim of his tankard). "When you have the
means of satisfying it--yes."

_The Viscount_ (becoming suddenly abstracted, and turning his piece of
bread over and over in his fingers). "Now regarding--Mistress Clemency,
my dear Bev; what do you think of her?"

_Barnabas_ (helping himself to more beef). "That she is a remarkably
handsome girl!"

_The Viscount_ (frowning at his piece of bread). "Hum! d'you think so?"

_Barnabas_. "Any man would. I'll trouble you for the mustard, Dick."

_The Viscount_. "Yes; I suppose they would."

_Barnabas_. "Some probably do--especially men with an eye for fine
women."

_The Viscount_ (frowning blacker than ever). "Pray, what mean you
by that?"

_Barnabas_. "Your friend Carnaby undoubtedly does."

_The Viscount_ (starting). "Carnaby! Why what the devil put him into
your head? Carnaby's never seen her."

_Barnabas_. "Indeed, I think it rather more than likely."

_The Viscount_ (crushing the bit of bread suddenly in his fist).
"Carnaby! But I tell you he hasn't--he's never been near this place."

_Barnabas_. "There you are quite wrong."

_The Viscount_ (flinging himself back in his chair). "Beverley, what
the devil are you driving at?"

_Barnabas_. "I mean that he was here this morning."

_The Viscount_. "Carnaby? Here? Impossible! What under heaven should
make you think so?"

"This," said Barnabas, and held out a small, crumpled piece of paper.
The Viscount took it, glanced at it, and his knife clattered to the
floor.

"Sixty thousand pounds!" he exclaimed, and sat staring down at the
crumpled paper, wide-eyed. "Sixty thousand!" he repeated. "Is it
sixty or six, Bev? Read it out," and he thrust the torn paper across
to Barnabas, who, taking it up, read as follows:--

  --felicitate you upon your marriage with the lovely
  heiress, Lady M., failing which I beg most humbly to remind
  you, my dear Sir Mortimer Carnaby, that the sixty thousand
  pounds must be paid back on the day agreed upon, namely
  July 16,

  Your humble, obedient Servant,

  JASPER GAUNT.

"Jasper Gaunt!" exclaimed the Viscount. "Sixty thousand pounds! Poor
Carnaby! Sixty thousand pounds payable on July sixteenth! Now the
fifteenth, my dear Bev, is the day of the race, and if he should lose,
it looks very much as though Carnaby would be ruined, Bev."

"Unless he marries 'the lovely heiress'!" added Barnabas.

"Hum!" said the Viscount, frowning. "I wish I'd never seen this
cursed paper, Bev!" and as he spoke he crumpled it up and threw it
into the great fireplace. "Where in the name of mischief did you get
it?"

"It was in the corner yonder," answered Barnabas. "I also found this."
And he laid a handsomely embossed coat button on the table.
"It has been wrenched off you will notice."

"Yes," nodded the Viscount, "torn off! Do you think--"

"I think," said Barnabas, putting the button back into his pocket,
"that Mistress Clemency's tears are accounted for--"

"By God, Beverley," said the Viscount, an ugly light in his eyes,
"if I thought that--!" and the hand upon the table became a fist.

"I think that Mistress Clemency is a match for any man--or brute,"
said Barnabas, and drew his hand from his pocket.

Now the Viscount's fist was opening and shutting convulsively, the
breath whistled between his teeth, he glanced towards the door, and
made as though he would spring to his feet; but in that moment came
a diversion, for Barnabas drew his hand from his pocket, and as he
did so, something white fluttered to the floor, close beside the
Viscount's chair. Both men saw it and both stooped to recover it,
but the Viscount, being nearer, picked it up, glanced at it, looked
at Barnabas with a knowing smile, glanced at it again, was arrested
by certain initials embroidered in one corner, stooped his head
suddenly, inhaling its subtle perfume, and so handed it back to
Barnabas, who took it with a word of thanks and thrust it into an
inner pocket, while the Viscount stared at him under his drawn brows.
But Barnabas, all unconscious, proceeded to cut himself another
slice of beef, offering to do the same for the Viscount.

"Thank you--no," said he.

"What--have you done, so soon?"

"Yes," said he, and thereafter sat watching Barnabas ply knife and
fork, who, presently catching his eye, smiled.

"Pray," said the Viscount after a while, "pray are you acquainted
with the Lady Cleone Meredith?"

"No," answered Barnabas. "I'll trouble you for the mustard, Dick."

"Have you ever met the Lady Cleone Meredith?"

"Never", answered Barnabas, innocent of eye.

Hereupon the Viscount rose up out of the chair and leaned across the
table.

"Sir," said he, "you are a most consummate liar!"

Hereupon Barnabas helped himself to the mustard with grave
deliberation, then, leaning back in his chair, he smiled up into the
Viscount's glowing eyes as politely and with as engaging an air as
might be.

"My Lord," said he gently, "give me leave to remark that he who says
so, lies himself most foully." Having said which Barnabas set down
the mustard, and bowed.

"Mr. Beverley," said the Viscount, regarding him calm-eyed across
the table, "there is a place I know of near by, a very excellent
place, being hidden by trees, a smooth, grassy place--shall we go?"

"Whenever you will, my Lord," said Barnabas, rising.

Forthwith having bowed to each other and put on their hats, they
stepped out into the yard, and so walked on side by side, a trifle
stiffer and more upright than usual maybe, until they came to a stile.
Here they must needs pause to bow once more, each wishful to give
way to the other, and, having duly crossed the stile, they presently
came to a place, even as the Viscount had said, being shady with
trees, and where a brook ran between steep banks. Here, too, was a
small foot-bridge, with hand-rails supported at either end by posts.
Now upon the right-hand post the Viscount set his hat and coat, and
upon the left, Barnabas hung his. Then, having rolled up their
shirt-sleeves, they bowed once more, and coming to where the grass
was very smooth and level they faced each other with clenched fists.

"Mr. Beverley," said the Viscount, "you will remember I sighed for
muffles, but, sir, I count this more fortunate, for to my mind there
is nothing like bare fists, after all, to try a man's capabilities."

"My Lord," said Barnabas, "you will also remember that when I told
you I had boxed daily both with 'Glorious John' and Nathaniel Bell,
you doubted my word? I therefore intend to try and convince you as
speedily as may be."

"Egad!" exclaimed the Viscount, his blue eyes a-dance, "this is
positively more than I had ventured to hope, my dear fell--Ah!
Mr. Beverley, at your service, sir?"

And, after a season, Barnabas spoke, albeit pantingly, and dabbing
at his bloody mouth the while.

"Sir," said he, "I trust--you are not--incommoded at all?" whereupon
the Viscount, coming slowly to his elbow and gazing round about him
with an expression of some wonder, made answer, albeit also
pantingly and short of breath:

"On the contrary, sir, am vastly--enjoying myself--shall give
myself the pleasure--of continuing--just as soon as the ground
subsides a little."

Therefore Barnabas, still dabbing at his mouth, stepped forward
being minded to aid him to his feet, but ere he could do so, a voice
arrested him.

"Stop!" said the voice.

Now glancing round, Barnabas beheld a man, a small man and slender,
whose clothes, old and worn, seemed only to accentuate the dignity
and high nobility of his face.

Bareheaded he advanced towards them and his hair glistened silver
white in the sunshine, though his brows were dark, like the glowing
eyes below. Upon his cheek was the dark stain of blood, and on his
lips was a smile ineffably sweet and gentle as he came forward,
looking from one to the other.

"And pray, sir," inquired the Viscount, sitting cross-legged upon
the green, "pray, who might you be?"

"I am an apostle of peace, young sir," answered the stranger,
"a teacher of forgiveness, though, doubtless, an unworthy one."

"Peace, sir!" cried the Viscount, "deuce take me!--but you are the
most warlike Apostle of Peace that eyes ever beheld; by your looks
you might have been fighting the Seven Champions of Christendom, one
down, t' other come on--"

"You mean that I am bleeding, sir; indeed, I frequently do, and
therein is my joy, for this is the blood of atonement."

"The blood of atonement?" said Barnabas.

"Last night," pursued the stranger in his gentle voice, "I sought to
teach the Gospel of Mercy and Universal Forgiveness at a country
fair not so very far from here, and they drove me away with sticks
and stones; indeed, I fear our rustics are sometimes woefully
ignorant, and Ignorance is always cruel. So, to-day, as soon as the
stiffness is gone from me, I shall go back to them, sirs, for even
Ignorance has ears."

Now whereupon, the Viscount got upon his legs, rather unsteadily,
and bowed.

"Sir," said he, "I humbly ask your pardon; surely so brave an
apostle should do great works."

"Then," said the stranger, drawing nearer, "if such is your thought,
let me see you two clasp hands."

"But, sir," said the Viscount, somewhat taken aback, "indeed we
have--scarcely begun--"

"So much the better," returned the teacher of forgiveness with his
gentle smile, and laying a hand upon the arm of each.

"But, sir, I went so far as to give this gentleman the lie!" resumed
the Viscount.

"Which I went so far as to--return," said Barnabas.

"But surely the matter can be explained?" inquired the stranger.

"Possibly!" nodded the Viscount, "though I generally leave
explanations until afterwards."

"Then," said the stranger, glancing from one proud young face to
the other, "in this instance, shake hands first. Hate and anger
are human attributes, but to forgive is Godlike. Therefore now,
forget yourselves and in this thing be gods. For, young sirs,
as it seems to me, it was ordained that you two should be friends.
And you are young and full of great possibilities and friendship
is a mighty factor in this hard world, since by friendship comes
self-forgctfulness, and no man can do great works unless he forgets
Self. So, young sirs, shake hands!"

Now, as they looked upon each other, of a sudden, despite his split
lip, Barnabas smiled and, in that same moment, the Viscount held out
his hand.

"Beverley," said he, as their fingers gripped, "after your most
convincing--shall we say, argument?--if you tell me you have boxed
with all and every champion back to Mendoza, Jack Slack, and
Broughton, egad! I'll believe you, for you have a devilish striking
and forcible way with you at times!" Here the Viscount cherished his
bruised ribs with touches of tender inquiry. "Yes," he nodded,
"there is a highly commendable thoroughness in your methods, my dear
Bev, and I'm free to confess I like you better and better--but--!"

"But?" inquired Barnabas.

"As regards the handkerchief now--?"

"I found it--on a bramble-bush--in a wood," said Barnabas.

"In a wood!"

"In Annersley Wood; I found a lady there also."

"A lady--oh, egad!"

"A very beautiful woman," said Barnabas thoughtfully, "with
wonderful yellow hair!"

"The Lady Cleone Meredith!" exclaimed the Viscount, "but in a--wood!"

"She had fallen from her horse."

"How? When? Was she hurt?"

"How, I cannot tell you, but it happened about two hours ago, and
her hurt was trifling."

"And you--found her?"

"I also saw her safely out of the wood."

"And you did not know her name?"

"I quite--forgot to ask it," Barnabas admitted, "and I never saw her
until this morning."

"Why, then, my dear Bev," said the Viscount, his brow clearing,
"let us go back to breakfast, all three of us."

But, now turning about, they perceived that the stranger was gone,
yet, coming to the bridge, they presently espied him sitting beside
the stream laving his hurts in the cool water.

"Sir," said Barnabas, "our thanks are due to you--"

"And you must come back to the inn with us," added the Viscount;
"the ham surpasses description."

"And I would know what you meant by the 'blood of atonement,'" said
Barnabas, the persistent.

"As to breakfast, young sirs," said the stranger, shaking his head,
"I thank you, but I have already assuaged my hunger; as to my story,
well, 'tis not over long, and indeed it is a story to think upon--a
warning to heed, for it is a story of Self, and Self is the most
insidious enemy that man possesses. So, if you would listen to the
tale of a selfish man, sit down here beside me, and I'll tell you."



CHAPTER XII


OF THE STRANGER'S TALE, WHICH, BEING SHORT, MAY PERHAPS MEET WITH
THE READER'S KIND APPROBATION.

"In ancient times, sirs," began the stranger, with his gaze upon the
hurrying waters of the brook, "when a man had committed some great
sin he hid himself from the world, and lashed himself with cruel
stripes, he walked barefoot upon sharp flints and afflicted himself
with grievous pains and penalties, glorying in the blood of his
atonement, and wasting himself and his remaining years in woeful
solitude, seeking, thereby, to reclaim his soul from the wrath
to come. But, as for me, I walk the highways preaching always
forgiveness and forgetfulness of self, and if men grow angry at my
teaching and misuse me, the pain of wounds, the hardships, the
fatigue, I endure them all with a glad and cheerful mind, seeking
thereby to work out my redemption and atonement, for I was a very
selfish man." Here the stranger paused, and his face seemed more
lined and worn, and his white hair whiter, as he stared down into
the running waters of the brook.

"Sirs," he continued, speaking with bent head, "I once had a daughter,
and I loved her dearly, but my name was dearer yet. I was proud of
her beauty, but prouder of my ancient name, for I was a selfish man."

"We lived in the country, a place remote and quiet, and consequently
led a very solitary, humdrum life, because I was ever fond of books
and flowers and the solitude of trees--a selfish man always. And so,
at last, because she was young and high-spirited, she ran away from
my lonely cottage with one who was a villain. And I grieved for her,
young sirs, I grieved much and long, because I was lonely, but I
grieved more for my name, my honorable name that she had besmirched,
because, as I told you, I was a selfish man." Again the stranger was
silent, sitting ever with bent head staring down at the crystal
waters of the brook, only he clasped his thin hands and wrung them
as he continued:

"One evening, as I sat among my roses with a book in my hand, she
came back to me through the twilight, and flung herself upon her
knees before me, and besought my forgiveness with sobs and bitter,
bitter tears. Ah, young sirs! I can hear her weeping yet. The sound
of it is always in my ears. So she knelt to me in her abasement with
imploring hands stretched out to me. Ah, the pity of those white
appealing hands, the pity of them! But I, sirs, being as I say a
selfish man and remembering only my proud and honorable name, I, her
father, spurned her from me with reproaches and vile words, such
burning, searing words as no daughter should hear or father utter."

"And so, weeping still, she turned away wearily, hopelessly, and I
stood to watch her bowed figure till she had crept away into the
evening and was gone."

"Thus, sirs, I drove her from me, this wounded lamb, this poor
broken-hearted maid--bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh--I drove her
from me, I who should have comforted and cherished her, I drove her
out into the night with hateful words and bitter curses. Oh, was
ever sin like mine? Oh, Self, Self! In ancient times, sirs, when a
man had committed some great sin he lashed himself with cruel stripes,
but I tell you no rod, no whip of many thongs ever stung or bit so
sharp and deep as remorse--it is an abiding pain. Therefore I walk
these highways preaching always forgiveness and forgetfulness of self,
and so needs must I walk until my days be done, or until--I find her
again." The stranger rose suddenly and so stood with bent head and
very still, only his hands griped and wrung each other. Yet when he
looked up his brow was serene and a smile was on his lips."

"But you, sirs, you are friends again, and that is good, for
friendship is a blessed thing. And you have youth and strength, and
all things are possible to you, therefore. But oh, beware of self,
take warning of a selfish man, forget self, so may you achieve great
things."

"But, as for me, I never stand upon a country road when evening
falls but I see her, a broken, desolate figure, creeping away from me,
always away from me, into the shadows, and the sound of her weeping
comes to me in the night silences." So saying, the stranger turned
from them and went upon his way, limping a little because of his
hurts, and his hair gleamed silver in the sunshine as he went.



CHAPTER XIII


IN WHICH BARNABAS MAKES A CONFESSION

"A very remarkable man!" said the Viscount, taking up his hat.

"And a very pitiful story!" said Barnabas, thoughtfully.

"Though I could wish," pursued the Viscount, dreamy of eye, and
settling his hat with a light tap on the crown, "yes, I do certainly
wish that he hadn't interfered quite so soon, I was just beginning
to--ah--enjoy myself."

"It must be a terrible thing to be haunted by remorse so bitter as
his, 'to fancy her voice weeping in the night,' and to see her
creeping on into the shadows always--away from him," said Barnabas.

But now, having helped each other into their coats, they set off
back to the inn.

"My ribs," said the Viscount, feeling that region of his person with
tender solicitude as he spoke, "my ribs are infernally sore, Bev,
though it was kind of you not to mark my face; I'm sorry for your lip,
my dear fellow, but really it was the only opening you gave me; I
hope it isn't painful?"

"Indeed I had forgotten it," returned Barnabas.

"Then needs must I try to forget my bruised ribs," said the Viscount,
making a wry face as he clambered over the stile.

But here Barnabas paused to turn and look back at the scene of their
encounter, quite deserted now, for the stranger had long since
disappeared in the green.

"Yes, a very remarkable man!" sighed Barnabas, thoughtfully.
"I wish he had come back with us to the inn and--Clemency. Yes, a
very strange man. I wonder now--"

"And I beg you to remember," added the Viscount, taking him by the
arm, "he said that you and I were ordained to be friends, and by Gad!
I think he spoke the truth, Bev."

"I feel sure of it, Viscount," Barnabas nodded.

"Furthermore, Bev, if you are 'Bev' to me, I must be 'Dick' to you
henceforth--amen and so forth!"

"Agreed, Dick."

"Then, my dear Bev?" said the Viscount impulsively.

"Yes, my dear Dick?"

"Suppose we shake hands on it?"

"Willingly, Dick, yet, first, I think it but honorable to tell you
that I--love the Lady Cleone Meredith."

"Eh--what?" exclaimed the Viscount, falling back a step, "you love
her? the devil you do! since when?"

"Since this morning."

"Love her!" repeated the Viscount, "but you've seen her but once in
your life."

"True," said Barnabas, "but then I mean to see her many times,
henceforth."

"Ah! the deuce you do!"

"Yes," answered Barnabas. "I shall possibly marry her--some day."

The Viscount laughed, and frowned, and laughed again, then noting
the set mouth and chin of the speaker, grew thoughtful, and
thereafter stood looking at Barnabas with a new and suddenly
awakened interest. Who was he? What was he? From his clothes he
might have been anything between a gentleman farmer and a gamekeeper.

As for Barnabas himself, as he leaned there against the stile with
his gaze on the distance, his eyes a-dream, he had clean forgotten
his awkward clothes and blunt-toed boots.

And after all, what can boots or clothes matter to man or woman?
indeed, they sink into insignificance when the face of their wearer
is stamped with the serene yet determined confidence that marked
Barnabas as he spoke.

"Marry--Cleone Meredith?" said the Viscount at last.

"Marry her--yes," said Barnabas slowly.

"Why then, in the first place let me tell you she's devilish high
and proud."

"'T is so I would have her!" nodded Barnabas.

"And cursedly hard to please."

"So I should judge her," nodded Barnabas.

"And heiress to great wealth."

"No matter for that," said Barnabas.

"And full of whims and fancies."

"And therefore womanly," said Barnabas.

"My dear Beverley," said the Viscount, smiling again, "I tell you
the man who wins Cleone Meredith must be stronger, handsomer, richer,
and more accomplished than any 'Buck,' 'Corinthian,' or 'Macaroni'
of 'em all--"

"Or more determined!" added Barnabas.

"Or more determined, yes," nodded the Viscount.

"Then I shall certainly marry her--some day," said Barnabas.

Again the Viscount eyed Barnabas a while in silence, but this time,
be it noted, he smiled no more.

"Hum!" said he at last, "so it seems in finding a friend I have also
found myself another rival?"

"I greatly fear so," said Barnabas, and they walked on together.

But when they had gone some distance in moody silence, the Viscount
spoke:

"Beverley," said he, "forewarned is forearmed!"

"Yes," answered Barnabas, "that is why I told you."

"Then," said the Viscount, "I think we'll--shake hands--after all."

The which they did forthwith.

Now it was at this moment that Milo of Crotona took it upon himself
to become visible.



CHAPTER XIV


CONCERNING THE BUTTONS OF ONE MILO OF CROTONA

Never did a pair of top boots, big or little, shine with a lustre
more resplendent; never was postilion's jacket more excellent of fit,
nattier, or more carefully brushed; and nowhere could there be found
two rows of crested silver buttons with such an air of waggish
roguery, so sly, so knowing, and so pertinaciously on the everlasting
wink, as these same eight buttons that adorned the very small person
of his groomship, Milo of Crotona. He had slipped out suddenly from
the hedge, and now stood cap in hand, staring from the Viscount to
Barnabas, and back again, with his innocent blue eyes, and with every
blinking, twinkling button on his jacket. And his eyes were wide and
guileless--the eyes of a cherub; but his buttons!

Yea, forsooth, it was all in his buttons as they winked slyly one to
another as much as to say:

"Aha! we don't know why his Lordship's nankeens are greened at the
knees, not we! nor why the gent's lower lip is unduly swelled. Lord
love your eyes and limbs, oh no!"

"What, my imp of innocence!" exclaimed the Viscount. "Where have you
sprung from?"

"'Edge, m'lud."

"Ah! and what might you have been doing in the hedge now?"

"Think'n', m'lud."

"And what were you thinking?"

"I were think'n', m'lud, as the tall genelman here is a top-sawyer
wi' 'is daddies, m'lud. I was."

"Aha! so you've been watching, eh?"

"Not watchin'--oh no, m'lud; I just 'appened ter notice--that's all,
m'lud."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Viscount; "then I suppose you happened to notice
me being--knocked down?"

"No, m'lud; ye see, I shut my eyes--every time."

"Every time, eh!" said his Lordship, with his whimsical smile.
"Oh Loyalty, thy name is Milo! But hallo!" he broke off, "I believe
you've been fighting again--come here!"

"Fightin', m'lud! What, me?"

"What's the matter with your face--it's all swollen; there, your
cheek?"

"Swellin', m'lud; I don't feel no swellin'."

"No, no; the other cheek."

"Oh, this, m'lud. Oh, 'e done it, 'e did; but I weren't fightin'."

"Who did it?"

"S' Mortimer's friend, 'e done it, 'e did."

"Sir Mortimer's friend?"

"Ah, 'im, m'lud."

"But, how in the world--"

"Wi' his fist, m'lud."

"What for?"

"'Cos I kicked 'im, I did."

"You--kicked Sir Mortimer Carnaby's friend!" exclaimed the Viscount.
"What in heaven's name did you do that for?"

"'Cos you told me to, m'lud, you did."

"I told you to kick--"

"Yes, m'lud, you did. You sez to me, last week--arter I done up that
butcher's boy--you sez to me, 'don't fight 'cept you can't 'elp it,'
you sez; 'but allus pertect the ladies,' you sez, 'an if so be as
'e's too big to reach wi' your fists--why, use your boots,' you sez,
an' so I did, m'lud."

"So you were protecting a lady, were you, Imp?"

"Miss Clemency, mam; yes, m'lud. She's been good ter me, Miss Clemency,
mam 'as--an' so when I seen 'im strugglin' an' a-tryin' to kiss
'er--when I 'eered 'er cry out--I came in froo de winder, an' I kicked
'im, I did, an' then--"

"Imp," said the Viscount gravely, "you are forgetting your aitches!
And so Sir Mortimer's friend kissed her, did he? Mind your aitches
now!"

"Yes, m' lud; an' when Hi seen the tears hin her eyes--"

"Now you are mixing them, Imp!--tears in her eyes. Well?"

"Why then I kicked him, m' lud, an' he turned round an' give me this
'ere."

"And what was Sir Mortimer's friend like?"

"A tall--werry sleepy gentleman, wot smiled, m' lud."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Viscount, starting; "and with a scar upon one
cheek?"

"Yes, m'lud."

His Lordship frowned. "That would be Chichester," said he
thoughtfully. "Now I wonder what the devil should bring that fellow
so far from London?"

"Well, m' lud," suggested Milo, shaking his golden curls, "I kind of
'specks there's a woman at the bottom of it. There mostly generally
is."

"Hum!" said the Viscount.

"'Sides, m' lud, I 'eard 'im talkin' 'bout a lady to S' Mortimer!"

"Did they mention her name?"

"The sleepy one 'e did, m' lud. Jist as S' Mortimer climbed into the
chaise--'Here's wishing you luck wi' the lovely Meredyth,' 'e sez."

"Meredith!" exclaimed the Viscount.

"Meredith, m' lud; 'the lovely Meredith,' 'e sez, an' then, as he
stood watchin' the chaise drive away, 'may the best man win,' sez 'e
to himself, 'an' that's me,' sez'e."

"Boy," said the Viscount, "have the horses put to--at once."

"Werry good, m' lud," and, touching his small hat, Milo of Crotona
turned and set off as fast as his small legs would carry him.

"Gad!" exclaimed his Lordship, "this is more than I bargained for. I
must be off."

"Indeed!" said Barnabas, who for the last minute or so had been
watching a man who was strolling idly up the lane, a tall, languid
gentleman in a jaunty hat. "You seem all at once in a mighty hurry
to get to London."

"London!" repeated the Viscount, staring blankly. "London? Oh, why
yes, to be sure, I was going to London; but--hum--fact of the matter
is, I've changed my mind about it, my dear Bev; I'm going--back. I'm
following Carnaby."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, still intent upon the man in the lane,
"Carnaby again."

"Oh, damn the fellow!" exclaimed the Viscount.

"But--he is your friend."

"Hum!" said the Viscount; "but Carnaby is always--Carnaby, and she--"

"Meaning the Lady Cleone," said Barnabas.

"Is a woman--"

"'The lovely Meredith'!" nodded Barnabas.

"Exactly!" said the Viscount, frowning; "and Carnaby is the devil
with women."

"But not this woman," answered Barnabas, frowning a little also.

"My dear fellow, men like Carnaby attract all women--"

"That," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "that I cannot believe."

"Have you known many women, Bev?"

"No," answered Barnabas; "but I have met the Lady Cleone--"

"Once!" added the Viscount significantly.

"Once!" nodded Barnabas.

"Hum," said the Viscount. "And, therefore," added Barnabas,
"I don't think that we need fear Sir Mortimer as a rival."

"That," retorted the Viscount, shaking his head, "is because you
don't know him--either."

Hereupon, having come to the inn and having settled their score, the
Viscount stepped out to the stables accompanied by the round-faced
landlord, while Barnabas, leaning out from the open casement, stared
idly into the lane. And thus he once more beheld the gentleman in
the jaunty hat, who stood lounging in the shade of one of the great
trees that grew before the inn, glancing up and down the lane in the
attitude of one who waits. He was tall and slender, and clad in a
tight-fitting blue coat cut in the extreme of the prevailing fashion,
and beneath his curly-brimmed hat, Barnabas saw a sallow face with
lips a little too heavy, nostrils a little too thin, and eyes a
little too close together, at least, so Barnabas thought, but what he
noticed more particularly was the fact that one of the buttons of
the blue coat had been wrenched away.

Now, as the gentleman lounged there against the tree, he switched
languidly at a bluebell that happened to grow within his reach, cut
it down, and with gentle, lazy taps beat it slowly into nothingness,
which done, he drew out his watch, glanced at it, frowned, and was
in the act of thrusting it back into his fob when the hedge opposite
was parted suddenly and a man came through. A wretched being he
looked, dusty, unkempt, unshorn, whose quick, bright eyes gleamed in
the thin oval of his pallid face. At sight of this man the
gentleman's lassitude vanished, and he stepped quickly forward.

"Well," he demanded, "did you find her?"

"Yes, sir."

"And a cursed time you've been about it."

"Annersley is further than I thought, sir, and--"

"Pah! no matter, give me her answer," and the gentleman held out a
slim white hand.

"She had no time to write, sir," said the man, "but she bid me tell
you--"

"Damnation!" exclaimed the gentleman, glancing towards the inn,
"not here, come further down the lane," and with the word he turned
and strode away, with the man at his heels.

"Annersley," said Barnabas, as he watched them go; "Annersley."

But now, with a prodigious clatter of hoofs and grinding of wheels,
the Viscount drove round in his curricle, and drew up before the
door in masterly fashion; whereupon the two high-mettled bloods
immediately began to rear and plunge (as is the way of their kind),
to snort, to toss their sleek heads, and to dance, drumming their
hoofs with a sound like a brigade of cavalry at the charge, whereupon
the Viscount immediately fell to swearing at them, and his
diminutive groom to roaring at them in his "stable voice," and the
two ostlers to cursing them, and one another; in the midst of which
hubbub out came Barnabas to stare at them with the quick, appraising
eye of one who knows and loves horses.

To whom, thusly, the Viscount, speaking both to him and the horses:

"Oh, there you are, Bev--stand still, damn you! There's blood for you,
eh, my dear fellow--devil burn your hide! Jump up, my dear
fellow--Gad, they're pulling my arms off."

"Then you want me to come with you, Dick?"

"My dear Bev, of course I do--stand still, damn you--though we are
rivals, we're friends first--curse your livers and bones--so jump up,
Bev, and--oh dammem, there's no holding 'em--quick, up with you."

Now, as Barnabas stepped forward, afar off up the lane he chanced to
espy a certain jaunty hat, and immediately, acting for once upon
impulse, he shook his head.

"No, thanks," said he.

"Eh--no?" repeated the Viscount, "but you shall see her, I'll
introduce you myself."

"Thanks, Dick, but I've decided not to go back."

"What, you won't come then?"

"No."

"Ah, well, we shall meet in London. Inquire for me at White's or
Brooke's, any one will tell you where to find me. Good-by!"

Then, settling his feet more firmly, he took a fresh grip upon the
reins, and glanced over his shoulder to where Milo of Crotona sat
with folded arms in the rumble.

"All right behind?"

"Right, m'lud."

"Then give 'em their heads, let 'em go!"

The grooms sprang away, the powerful bays reared, once, twice, and
then, with a thunder of hoofs, started away at a gallop that set the
light vehicle rocking and swaying, yet which in no whit seemed to
trouble Milo of Crotona, who sat upon his perch behind with folded
arms as stiff and steady as a small graven image, until he and the
Viscount and the curricle had been whirled into the distance and
vanished in a cloud of dust.



CHAPTER XV


IN WHICH THE PATIENT READER MAY LEARN SOMETHING OF THE GENTLEMAN IN
THE JAUNTY HAT

"Lord, but this is a great day for the old 'Cow,' sir," said the
landlord, as Barnabas yet stood staring down the road, "we aren't
had so many o' the quality here for years. Last night the young
Vi-count, this morning, bright and early, Sir Mortimer Carnaby and
friend, then the Vi-count again, along o' you, sir, an' now you an'
Sir Mortimer's friend; you don't be no ways acquainted wi' Sir
Mortimer's friend, be you, sir?"

"No," answered Barnabas, "what is his name?"

"Well, Sir Mortimer hailed him as 'Chichester,' I fancy, sir, though
I aren't prepared to swear it, no more yet to oath it, not 'aving
properly ob-served, but 'Chichester,' I think it were; and, 'twixt
you an' me, sir, he be one o' your fine gentlemen as I aren't no
wise partial to, an' he's ordered dinner and supper."

"Has he," said Barnabas, "then I think I'll do the same."

"Ay, ay, sir, very good."

"In the meantime could you let me have pen, ink and paper?"

"Ay, sir, surely, in the sanded parlor, this way, sir."

Forthwith he led Barnabas into a long, low panelled room, with a
wide fireplace at the further end, beside which stood a great
high-backed settle with a table before it. Then Barnabas sat down
and wrote a letter to his father, as here follows:--

       *       *       *       *       *

  My Dear Father and Natty Bell,--I have read somewhere in my books
  that 'adventures are to the adventurous,' and, indeed, I have
  already found this to be true. Now, since I am adventuring the great
  world, I adventure lesser things also.

  Thus I have met and talked with an entertaining pedler, from whom I
  have learned that the worst place in the world is Giles's Rents down
  by the River; from him, likewise, I purchased a book as to the
  merits of which I begin to entertain doubts.

  Then I have already thrashed a friend of the Prince Regent, and
  somewhat spoiled a very fine gentleman, and, I fear, am like to be
  necessitated to spoil another before the day is much older; from
  each of whom I learn that a Prince's friend may be an arrant knave.

  Furthermore, I have become acquainted with the son of an Earl, and
  finding him a man also, have formed a friendship with him, which I
  trust may endure.

  Thus far, you see, much has happened to me; adventures have
  befallen me in rapid succession. 'Wonderful!' say you. 'Not at all,'
  say I, since I have found but what I sought after, for, as has been
  said--'adventures are to the adventurous.' Therefore, within the
  next few hours, I confidently expect other, and perchance weightier,
  happenings to overtake me because--I intend them to. So much for
  myself.

  Now, as for you and Natty Bell, it is with deep affection that I
  think of you--an affection that shall abide with me always. Also,
  you are both in my thoughts continually. I remember our bouts with
  the 'muffles,' and my wild gallops on unbroken horses with Natty Bell;
  surely he knows a horse better than any, and is a better rider than
  boxer, if that could well be. Indeed, I am fortunate in having
  studied under two such masters.

  Furthermore, I pray you to consider that this absence of mine will
  only draw us closer together, in a sense. Indeed, now, when I think
  of you both, I am half-minded to give up this project and come back
  to you. But my destiny commands me, and destiny must be obeyed.
  Therefore I shall persist unto the end; but whether I succeed or no,
  remember, I pray of you, that I am always,

  Your lover and friend,

  Barnabas.

  P.S.--Regarding the friend of the Prince Regent, I could wish now
  that I had struck a little harder, and shall do so next time, should
  the opportunity be given.

  B.

Having finished this letter, in which it will be seen he made no
mention of the Lady Cleone, though his mind was yet full of her,
having finished his letter I say, Barnabas sanded it, folded it,
affixed wafers, and had taken up his pen to write the superscription,
when he was arrested by a man's voice speaking in a lazy drawl, just
outside the open lattice behind him.

"Now 'pon my soul and honor, Beatrix--so much off ended virtue for a
stolen kiss--begad! you were prodigal of 'em once--"

"How-dare you! Oh, coward that you are!" exclaimed another voice,
low and repressed, yet vibrant with bitter scorn; "you know that I
found you out--in time, thank God!"

"Beatrix?" said Barnabas to himself.

"In time; ah! and pray who'd believe it? You ran away from me--but
you ran away with me--first! In time? Did your father believe it,
that virtuous old miser? would any one, who saw us together, believe
it? No, Beatrix, I tell you all the world knows you for my--"

"Stop!" A moment's silence and then came a soft, gently amused laugh.

"Lord, Beatrix, how handsome you are!--handsomer than ever, begad!
I'm doubly fortunate to have found you again. Six years is a long
time, but they've only matured you--ripened you. Yes, you're
handsomer than ever; upon my life and soul you are!"

But here came the sudden rush of flying draperies, the sound of swift,
light footsteps, and Barnabas was aware of the door behind him being
opened, closed and bolted, and thereafter, the repressed sound of a
woman's passionate weeping. Therefore he rose up from the settle, and
glancing over its high back, beheld Clemency.

Almost in the same moment she saw him, and started back to the wall,
glanced from Barnabas to the open lattice, and covered her face with
her hands. And now not knowing what to do, Barnabas crossed to the
window and, being there, looked out, and thus espied again the
languid gentleman, strolling up the lane, with his beaver hat cocked
at the same jaunty angle, and swinging his betasselled stick as he
went.

"You--you heard, then!" said Clemency, almost in a whisper.

"Yes," answered Barnabas, without turning; "but, being a great
rascal he probably lied."

"No, it is--quite true--I did run away with him; but oh! indeed,
indeed I left him again before--before--"

"Yes, yes," said Barnabas, a little hurriedly, aware that her face
was still hidden in her hands, though he kept his eyes studiously
averted. Then all at once she was beside him, her hands were upon
his arm, pleading, compelling; and thus she forced him to look at her,
and, though her cheeks yet burned, her eyes met his, frank and
unashamed.

"Sir," said she, "you do believe that I--that I found him out in
time--that I--escaped his vileness--you must believe--you shall!"
and her slender fingers tightened on his arm. "Oh, tell me--tell me,
you believe!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, looking down into the troubled depths of her
eyes; "yes, I do believe."

The compelling hands dropped from his arm, and she stood before him,
staring out blindly into the glory of the morning; and Barnabas
could not but see how the tears glistened under her lashes; also he
noticed how her brown, shapely hands griped and wrung each other.

"Sir," said she suddenly; "you are a friend of--Viscount Devenham."

"I count myself so fortunate."

"And--therefore--a gentleman."

"Indeed, it is my earnest wish."

"Then you will promise me that, should you ever hear anything spoken
to the dishonor of Beatrice Darville, you will deny it."

"Yes," said Barnabas, smiling a little grimly, "though I think I
should do--more than that."

Now when he said this, Clemency looked up at him suddenly, and in
her eyes there was a glow no tears could quench; her lips quivered
but no words came, and then, all at once, she caught his hand,
kissed it, and so was gone, swift and light, and shy as any bird.

And, in a while, happening to spy his letter on the table, Barnabas
sat down and wrote out the superscription with many careful
flourishes, which done, observing his hat near by, he took it up,
brushed it absently, put it on, and went out into the sunshine.

Yet when he had gone but a very little way, he paused, and seeing he
still carried the letter in his hand, thrust it into his breast, and
so remained staring thoughtfully towards that spot, green and shady
with trees, where he and the Viscount had talked with the Apostle of
Peace. And with his gaze bent thitherwards he uttered a name, and
the name was--

"Beatrix."



CHAPTER XVI


IN WHICH BARNABAS ENGAGES ONE WITHOUT A CHARACTER

Barnabas walked on along the lane, head on breast, plunged in a
profound reverie, and following a haphazard course, so much so that,
chancing presently to look about him, he found that the lane had
narrowed into a rough cart track that wound away between high banks
gay with wild flowers, and crowned with hedges, a pleasant, shady
spot, indeed, as any thoughtful man could wish for.

Now as he walked, he noticed a dry ditch--a grassy, and most
inviting ditch; therefore Barnabas sat him down therein, leaning his
back against the bank.

"Beatrix!" said he, again, and thrusting his hands into his pockets
he became aware of the "priceless wollum." Taking it out, he began
turning its pages, idly enough, and eventually paused at one headed
thus:

       *       *       *       *       *

            THE CULT OF DRESS.

       *       *       *       *       *

But he had not read a dozen words when he was aware of a rustling of
leaves, near by, that was not of the wind, and then the panting of
breath drawn in painful gasps; and, therefore, having duly marked
his place with a finger, he raised his head and glanced about him.
As he did so, the hedge, almost opposite, was burst asunder and a man
came slipping down the bank, and, regaining his feet, stood staring
at Barnabas and panting. A dusty, bedraggled wretch he looked,
unshaven and unkempt, with quick, bright eyes that gleamed in the
pale oval of his face.

"What do you want?" Barnabas demanded.

"Everything!" the man panted, with the ghost of a smile on his
pallid lips; "but--the ditch would do."

"And why the ditch?"

"Because they're--after me."

"Who are?"

"Gamekeepers!"

"Then, you're a poacher?"

"And a very clumsy one--they had me once--close on me now."

"How many?"

"Two."

"Then--hum!--get into the ditch," said Barnabas.

Now the ditch, as has been said, was deep and dry, and next moment,
the miserable fugitive was hidden from view by reason of this, and
of the grasses and wild flowers that grew luxuriantly there; seeing
which, Barnabas went back to his reading.

  "It is permitted," solemnly writes the Person of Quality, "that
  white waistcoats be worn,--though sparingly, for caution is always
  advisable, and a buff waistcoat therefore is recommended as safer.
  Coats, on the contrary, may occasionally vary both as to the height
  of the collar, which must, of course, roll, and the number of
  buttons--"

Thus far the Person of Quality when:

"Hallo, theer" roared a stentorian voice.

  "Breeches, on the other hand," continues the Person of Quality
  gravely, "are governed as inexorably as the Medes and Persians; thus,
  for mornings they must be either pantaloons and Hessians--"

"Hallo theer! oho!--hi!--waken oop will 'ee!"

  "Or buckskins and top boots--"

"Hi!" roared the voice, louder than ever, "you theer under
th' 'edge,--oho!"

Once more Barnabas marked the place with his finger, and glancing up,
straightway espied Stentor, somewhat red-faced, as was but natural,
clad in a velveteen jacket and with a long barrelled gun on his
shoulder.

"Might you be shouting at me?" inquired Barnabas.

"Well," replied Stentor, looking up and down the lane, "I don't see
nobody else to shout at, so let's s'pose as I be shouting at ye,
bean't deaf, be ye?"

"No, thank God."

"'Cause if so be as y' are deaf, a can shout a tidy bit louder nor
that a reckon."

"I can hear you very well as it is."

"Don't go for to be too sartin, now; ye see I've got a tidy voice, I
have, which I aren't noways afeared o' usin'!"

"So it would appear!" nodded Barnabas.

"You're quite sure as ye can 'ear me, then?"

"Quite."

"Werry good then, if you are sure as you can 'ear me I'd like to ax
'ee a question, though, mark me, I'll shout it, ah! an' willin'; if
so be you're minded, say the word!"

But, before Barnabas could reply, another man appeared, being also
clad in velveteens and carrying a long barrelled gun.

"Wot be doin', Jarge?" he inquired of Stentor, in a surly tone,
"wot be wastin' time for"

"W'y, lookee, I be about to ax this 'ere deaf chap a question,
though ready, ah! an' willin' to shout it, if so be 'e gives the word."

"Stow yer gab, Jarge," retorted Surly, more surly than ever, "you be
a sight too fond o' usin' that theer voice o' your'n!" saying which
he turned to Barnabas:

"Did ye see ever a desprit, poachin' wagabone run down this 'ere lane,
sir?" he inquired.

"No," answered Barnabas.

"Well, did ye see ever a thievin' wastrel run oop this 'ere lane?"
demanded Stentor.

"No," answered Barnabas.

"But we seen 'im run this way," demurred Surly.

"Ah!--he must ha' run oop or down this 'ere lane," said Stentor.

"He did neither," said Barnabas.

"Why, then p'r'aps you be stone blind as well as stone deaf?"
suggested Stentor.

"Neither one nor the other," answered Barnabas, "and now, since I
have answered all your questions, suppose you go and look somewhere
else?"

"Look, is it?--look wheer--d'ye mean--?"

"I mean--go."

"Go!" repeated Stentor, round of eye, "then s'pose you tell us--wheer!"

"Anywhere you like, only--be off!"

"Now you can claw me!" exclaimed Stentor with an injured air,
nodding to his gun, seeing his companion had already hurried off,
"you can grab and duck me if this don't beat all!--you can burn an'
blister me if ever I met a deaf cove as was so ongrateful as this
'ere deaf cove,--me 'avin' used this yer v'ice o' mine for 'is
be'oof an' likewise benefit; v'ices like mine is a gift as was
bestowed for deaf 'uns like 'im;--I've met deaf 'uns afore, yes,--but
such a ongrateful deaf 'un as 'im,--no. All I 'opes is as 'e gets
deafer an' deafer, as deaf as a stock, as a stone, as a--dead
sow,--that's all I 'opes!"

Having said which, Stentor nodded to his gun again, glanced at
Barnabas again, and strode off, muttering, after his companion.

Hereupon Barnabas once more opened his book; yet he was quite aware
that the fugitive had thrust his head out of the ditch, and having
glanced swiftly about, was now regarding him out of the corners of
his eyes.

"Why do you stare at me?" he demanded suddenly.

"I was wondering why you took the trouble and risk of shielding such
a thing as I am," answered the fugitive.

"Hum!" said Barnabas, "upon my soul,--I don't know."

"No," said the man, with the ghostly smile upon his lips again,
"I thought not."

Now, as he looked at the man, Barnabas saw that his cheeks, beneath
their stubble, were hollow and pinched, as though by the cruel hands
of want and suffering. And yet in despite of all this and of the
grizzled hair at his temples, the face was not old, moreover there
was a merry twinkle in the eye, and a humorous curve to the
wide-lipped mouth that appealed to Barnabas.

"And you are a poacher, you say?"

"Yes, sir, and that is bad, I confess, but, what is worse, I was,
until I took to poaching, an honest man without a shred of character."

"How so?"

"I was discharged--under a cloud that was never dispelled."

"To be sure, you don't look like an ordinary poacher."

"That is because I am an extraordinary one."

"You mean?"

"That I poach that I may live to--poach again, sir. I am, at once, a
necessitous poacher, and a poacher by necessity."

"And what by choice?"

"A gentleman, sir, with plenty of money and no ambitions."

"Why deny ambition?"

"Because I would live a quiet life, and who ever heard of an
ambitious man ever being quiet, much less happy and contented?"

"Hum!" said Barnabas, "and what were you by profession?"

"My calling, sir, was to work for, think for, and shoulder the blame
for others--generally fools, sir. I was a confidential servant, a
valet, sir. And I have worked, thought, and taken the blame for
others so very successfully, that I must needs take to poaching that
I may live."

"But--other men may require valets!"

"True, sir, and there are plenty of valets to be had--of a sort; but
the most accomplished one in the world, if without a character, had
better go and hang himself out of the way, and have done with it.
And indeed, I have seriously contemplated so doing."

"You rate yourself very highly."

"And I go in rags! Though a professed thief may do well in the world,
though the blackest rascal, the slyest rogue, may thrive and prosper,
the greatest of valets being without a character, may go in rags and
starve--and very probably will."

"Hum!" said Barnabas.

"Now, to starve, sir, is unpleasant; thus I, having a foolish,
though very natural, dread of it, poach rabbits that I may exist. I
possess also an inborn horror of rags and dirt, therefore
I--exchanged this coat and breeches from a farmhouse, the folk being
all away in the fields, and though they are awkward, badly-made
garments, still beggars--and--"

"Thieves!" added Barnabas.

"And thieves, sir, cannot always be choosers, can they?"

"Then you admit you are a thief?"

Here the fugitive glanced at Barnabas with a wry smile.

"Sir, I fear I must. Exchange is no robbery they say; but my rags
were so very ragged, and these garments are at least wearable."

"You have also been a--great valet, I understand?"

"And have served many gentlemen in my time."

"Then you probably know London and the fashionable world?"

"Yes, sir," said the man, with a sigh.

"Now," pursued Barnabas, "I am given to understand, on the authority
of a Person of Quality, that to dress properly is an art."

The fugitive nodded. "Indeed, sir, though your Person of Quality
should rather have called it the greatest of all the arts."

"Why so?"

"Because by dress it is possible to make--something out of nothing!"

"Explain yourself."

"Why, there was the case of young Lord Ambleside, a nobleman
remarkable for a vague stare, and seldom saying anything but 'What!'
or 'Dey-vil take me!' though I'll admit he could curse almost
coherently--at times. I found him nothing but a lord, and very crude
material at that, yet in less than six months he was made."

"Made?"

"Made, sir," nodded the fugitive. "I began him with a cravat, an
entirely original creation, which drew the approval of Brummell
himself, and, consequently, took London by storm, and I continued
him with a waistcoat."

"Not a--white one?" Barnabas inquired.

"No, sir, it was a delicate pink, embroidered with gold, and of
quite a new cut and design, which was the means of introducing him
to the notice of Royalty itself. The Prince had one copied from it,
and wore it at a state reception. And I finished him with a pair of
pantaloons which swept the world of fashion clean off its legs, and
brought him into lasting favor with the Regent. So my Lord was made,
and eventually I married him to an heiress."

"You married him?"

"That is to say, I dictated all his letters, and composed all his
verses, which speedily brought the affair to a happy culmination."

"You seem to be a man of many and varied gifts?"

"And one--without a character, sir."

"Nevertheless," said Barnabas, "I think you are the very man I
require."

"Sir," exclaimed the fugitive, staring, "sir?"

"And therefore," continued Barnabas, "you may consider yourself
engaged."

"Engaged, sir--engaged!" stammered the man--"me?"

"As my valet," nodded Barnabas.

"But, sir, I told you--I was--a thief!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, "and therefore I have great hopes of your
future honesty."

Now hereupon the man, still staring, rose up to his knees, and with
a swift, appealing gesture, stretched out his hands towards Barnabas,
and his hands were trembling all at once.

"Sir!" said he, "oh, sir--d'ye mean it? You don't know, you can't
know what such an offer means to me. Sir, you're not jesting with me?"

"No," answered Barnabas, calmly serious of eye, "no, I'm not jesting;
and to prove it, here is an advance of wages." And he dropped two
guineas into the man's open palm.

The man stared down at the coins in his hand, then rose abruptly to
his feet and turned away, and when he spoke again his voice was
hoarse.

"Sir," said he, jerkily, "for such trust I would thank you, only
words are too poor. But if, as I think, it is your desire to enter
the World of Fashion, it becomes my duty, as an honest man, to tell
you that all your efforts, all your money, would be unavailing, even
though you had been introduced by Barrymore, or Hanger, or Vibart, or
Brummell himself."

"Ah," said Barnabas, "and why?"

"Because you have made a fatal beginning."

"How?"

"By knocking down the Prince's friend and favorite--Sir Mortimer
Carnaby."



CHAPTER XVII


IN WHICH BARNABAS PARTS COMPANY WITH THE PERSON OF QUALITY

For a long moment the two remained silent, each staring at the other,
Barnabas still seated in the ditch and the man standing before him,
with the coins clutched in his hand.

"Ah!" said Barnabas, at last, "then you were in the wood?"

"I lay hidden behind a bush, and watched you do it, sir."

"And what were you doing in Annersley Wood?"

"I bore a message, sir, for the lady."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, "the lady--yes."

"Who lay watching you, also."

"No," said Barnabas, "the lady was unconscious."

"Yet recovered sufficiently to adjust her habit, and to watch you
knock him down."

"Hum!" said Barnabas, and was silent a while. "Have you heard such a
name as Chichester?" he inquired suddenly.

"No, sir."

"And did you deliver the letter?"

"I did, sir."

"And she--sent back an answer?"

"Yes, sir."

"The gentleman who sent the letter was tall and slender, I think,
with dark hair, and a scar on his cheek?"

"Yes, sir."

"And when you came back with her answer, he met you down the lane
yonder, and I heard you say that the lady had no time to write."

"Yes, sir; but she promised to meet him at a place called Oakshott's
Barn."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, "I think I know it."

"At sunset, sir!"

"That would be somewhere about half past seven," mused Barnabas,
staring blankly, down at the book on his knee.

"Yes, sir."

"How came you to be carrying his letter?"

"He offered me five shillings to go and bring her answer."

"Did you know the lady?"

"No, sir, but he described her."

"To be sure." said Barnabas; "he mentioned her hair, perhaps?"

"Yes, sir."

"Her--eyelashes, perhaps?"

"And her eyes also, sir."

"Yes, her eyes, of course. He seemed to know her well, perhaps?"

"Yes, sir."

"And she--promised to meet him--in a very lonely place?"

"At Oakshott's Barn, sir."

Once again Barnabas stared down at his book, and was silent so long
that his new servant wondered, grew fidgety, coughed, and at last
spoke.

"Sir," said he, "what are your orders?"

Barnabas started and looked up.

"Orders?" he repeated; "why, first of all, get something to eat,
then find yourself a barber, and wait for me at 'The Spotted Cow.'"

"Yes, sir." The man bowed, turned away, took three or four steps,
and came back again.

"Sir," said he, "I have two guineas of yours, and you have never
even asked my name."

"True," said Barnabas.

"Supposing I go, and never come back?"

"Then I shall be two guineas the poorer, and you will have proved
yourself a thief; but until you do, you are an honest man, so far as
I am concerned."

"Sir, said the fugitive, hoarsely, but with a new light in his face,"
for that, if I were not your servant--I--should like to--clasp your
hand; and, sir, my name is John Peterby."

"Why, then," said Barnabas, smiling all at once, "why then, John
Peterby, here it is!"

So, for a moment their hands met, and then John Peterby turned sharp
about and strode away down the lane, his step grown light and his
head held high.

But as for Barnabas, he sat there in the ditch, staring at nothing;
and as he stared his brow grew black and ever blacker, until
chancing at last to espy the "priceless wollum," where it lay beside
him, he took it up, balanced it in his hand, then hurled it over the
opposite hedge: which done, he laughed sudden and harsh, and
clenched his fists.

"God!" he exclaimed, "a goddess and a satyr!" and so sat staring on
at nothingness again.



CHAPTER XVIII


HOW BARNABAS CAME TO OAKSHOTT'S BARN

The sun was getting low, as Barnabas parted the brambles, and
looking about him, frowned. He stood in a grassy glade or clearing,
a green oasis hemmed in on every side with bushes. Before him was
Oakshott's Barn, an ancient structure, its rotting thatch dishevelled,
its doors gone long since, its aged walls cracked and scarred by
years, a very monument of desolation; upon its threshold weeds had
sprung up, and within its hoary shadow breathed an air damp, heavy,
and acrid with decay.

It was indeed a place of solitude full of the "hush" of leaves, shut
out from the world, close hidden from observation, a place apt for
the meetings of lovers. And, therefore, leaning in the shadow of the
yawning doorway, Barnabas frowned.

Evening was falling, and from shadowy wood, from dewy grass and
flower, stole wafts of perfume, while from some thicket near by a
blackbird filled the air with the rich note of his languorous song;
but Barnabas frowned only the blacker, and his hand clenched itself
on the stick he carried, a heavy stick, that he had cut from the
hedge as he came.

All at once the blackbird's song was hushed, and gave place to a
rustle of leaves that drew nearer and nearer; yet Barnabas never
moved, not even when the bushes were pushed aside and a man stepped
into the clearing--a tall, elegant figure, who having paused to
glance sharply about him, strolled on again towards the barn,
swinging his tasselled walking-cane, and humming softly to himself
as he came. He was within a yard of Barnabas when he saw him, and
stopped dead.

"Ah!" he exclaimed, softly; and thereafter the two eyed each other
in an ominous silence.

"And who the devil are you?" he inquired at length, his eyes still
intent.

"Sir," said Barnabas, yet leaning in the doorway--"your name I think,
is Chichester?"

"Well?"

"Permit me to return your coat button!" and Barnabas held out the
article in question, but Mr. Chichester never so much as glanced at
it.

"What do you want here?" he demanded, soft of voice.

"To tell you that this dismal place is called Oakshott's Barn, sir."

"Well?"

"To warn you that Oakshott's Barn is an unhealthy place--for your
sort, sir."

"Ha!" said Mr. Chichester, his heavy-lidded eyes unwinking,
"do you threaten?"

"Let us rather say--I warn!"

"So you do threaten!"

"I warn!" repeated Barnabas.

"To the devil with you and your warning!" All this time neither of
them had moved or raised his voice, only Mr. Chichcster's thin,
curving nostrils began to twitch all at once, while his eyes gleamed
beneath their narrowed lids. But now Barnabas stepped clear of the
doorway, the heavy stick swinging in his hand.

"Then, sir," said he, "let me advise. Let me advise you to hurry
from this solitude."

Mr. Chichester laughed--a low, rippling laugh.

"Ah!" said he, "ah, so that's it!"

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, shifting his gaze to Mr. Chichester's right
hand, a white beringed hand, whose long, slender fingers toyed with
the seals that dangled at his fob, "so pray take up your button and
go!"

Mr. Chichester glanced at the heavy stick; at the powerful hand, the
broad shoulders and resolute face of him who held it, and laughed
again, and, laughing, bowed.

"Your solicitude for my health--touches me, sir,--touches me, my
thanks are due to you, for my health is paramount. I owe you a debt
which I shall hope to repay. This place, as you say, is dismal. I
wish you good evening!" saying which, Mr. Chichester turned away. But
in that same instant, swift and lithe as a panther, Barnabas leapt,
and dropping his stick, caught that slender, jewelled hand, bent it,
twisted it, and wrenched the weapon from its grasp. Mr. Chichester
stood motionless, white-lipped and silent, but a devil looked out of
his eyes.

"Ah!" said Barnabas, glancing down at the pistol he held, "I judged
you would not venture into these wilds without something of the sort.
The path, you will notice, lies to your left; it is a winding path,
I will go with you therefore, to see that you do not lose your way,
and wander--back here again."

Without a word Mr. Chichester turned, and coming to the path
followed it, walking neither fast nor slow, never once looking to
where Barnabas strode behind, and heedless of briar or bramble that
dragged at him as he passed. On they went, until the path lost
itself in a grassy lane, until the lane ended in a five-barred gate.
Now, having opened the gate, Mr. Chichester passed through into the
high road, and then, for one moment he looked at Barnabas, a long,
burning look that took in face, form and feature, and so, still
without uttering a word, he went upon his way, walking neither fast
nor slow, and swinging his tasselled cane as he went, while Barnabas,
leaning upon the gate, watched him until his tall, slender figure
had merged into the dusk, and was gone.

Then Barnabas sighed, and becoming aware of the pistol in his hand,
smiled contemptuously, and was greatly minded to throw it away, but
slipped it into his pocket instead, for he remembered the devil in
the eyes of Mr. Chichester.



CHAPTER XIX


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS TALKS WITH MY LADY CLEONE FOR THE SECOND
TIME

It was dark among the trees, but, away to his left, though as yet
low down, the moon was rising, filling the woods with mystery, a
radiant glow wherein objects seemed to start forth with a new
significance; here the ragged hole of a tree, gnarled, misshapen;
there a wide-flung branch, weirdly contorted, and there again a
tangle of twigs and strange, leafy shapes that moved not. And over
all was a deep and brooding quietude.

Yes, it was dark among the trees, yet not so black as the frown that
clouded the face of Barnabas as he strode on through the wood, and
so betimes reached again the ancient barn of Oakshott. And lo! even
as he came there, it was night, and because the trees grew tall and
close together, the shadows lay thicker than ever save only in one
place where the moon, finding some rift among the leaves, sent down
a shaft of silvery light that made a pool of radiance amid the gloom.
Now, as Barnabas gazed at this, he stopped all at once, for, just
within this patch of light, he saw a foot. It was a small foot,
proudly arched, a shapely foot and slender, like the ankle above;
indeed, a haughty and most impatient foot, that beat the ground with
angry little taps, and yet, in all and every sense, surely, and
beyond a doubt, the most alluring foot in the world. Therefore
Barnabas sighed and came a step nearer, and in that moment it
vanished; therefore Barnabas stood still again. There followed a
moment's silence, and then:


"Dear," said a low, thrilling voice, "have you come--at last? Ah!
but you are late, I began to fear--" The soft voice faltered and
broke off with a little gasp, and, as Barnabas stepped out of the
shadows, she shrank away, back and back, to the mossy wall of the
barn, and leaned there staring up at him with eyes wide and fearful.
Her hood, close drawn, served but to enhance the proud beauty of her
face, pale under the moon, and her cloak, caught close in one white
hand, fell about her ripe loveliness in subtly revealing folds. Now
in her other hand she carried a silver-mounted riding-whip. And
because of the wonder of her beauty, Barnabas sighed again, and
because of the place wherein they stood, he frowned; yet, when he
spoke, his voice was gentle:

"Don't be afraid, madam, he is gone."

"Gone!" she echoed, faintly.

"Yes, we are quite alone; consequently you have no more reason to be
afraid."

"Afraid, sir? I thought--why, 'twas you who startled me."

"Ay," nodded Barnabas, "you expected--him!"

"Where is he? When did he go?"

"Some half-hour since."

"Yet he expected me; he knew I should come; why did he go?"

Now hereupon Barnabas lifted a hand to his throat, and loosened his
neckcloth.

"Why then," said he slowly, "you have--perhaps--met him
hereabouts--before to-night?"

"Sir," she retorted, "you haven't answered me; why did he go so soon?"

"He was--forced to, madam."

"Forced to go,--without seeing me,--without one word! Oh, impossible!"

"I walked with him to the cross-roads, and saw him out of sight."

"But I--I came as soon as I could! Ah! surely he gave you some
message--some word for me?"

"None, madam!" said Barnabas evenly, but his hand had clenched
itself suddenly on the stick he held.

"But I--don't understand!" she sighed, with a helpless gesture of
her white hands, "to hurry away like this, without a word! Oh,
why--why did he go?"

"Madam," said Barnabas, "it was because I asked him to."

"You--asked him to?"

"I did."

"But why--why?"

"Because, from what little I know of him, I judged it best."

"Sir," she said, softly, "sir--what do you mean?"

"I mean, that this is such a very lonely place for any woman
and--such as he."

Now even as Barnabas uttered the words she advanced upon him with
upflung head and eyes aflame with sudden passionate scorn.

"Insolent," she exclaimed. "So it was you--you actually dared to
interfere?"

"Madam," said Barnabas, "I did."

Very straight and proud she stood, and motionless save for the pant
and tumult of her bosom, fierce-eyed and contemptuous of lip.

"And remained to insult me--with impunity."

"To take you home again," said Barnabas, "therefore pray let us
begone."

"Us? Sir, you grow presumptuous."

"As you will," said Barnabas, "only let us go."

"With you?" she exclaimed.

"With me."

"No--not a step, sir; When I choose to go, I go alone."

"But to-night," said Barnabas, gentle of voice but resolute of eye,
"to-night--I go with you."

"You!" she cried, "a man I have seen but once, a man who may be
anything, a--a thief, a ploughman, a runaway groom for aught I know."
Now, watching him beneath disdainful drooping lashes, she saw
Barnabas flinch at this, and the curve of her scornful lips grew
more bitter.

"And now I'm going--alone. Stand aside, and let me pass."

"No, madam."

"Let me pass, I warn you!"

For a minute they fronted each other, eye to eye, very silent and
still, like two antagonists that measure each other's strength; then
Barnabas smiled and shook his head. And in that very instant, quick
and passionate, she raised her whip and struck him across the cheek.
Then, as she stood panting, half fearful of what she had done,
Barnabas reached out and took the whip, and snapped it between his
hands.

"And now," said he, tossing aside the broken pieces, "pray let us go."

"No."

"Why, then," sighed Barnabas, "I must carry you again."

Once more she shrank away from him, back and back to the crumbling
wall, and leaned there. But now because of his passionless strength,
she fell a-trembling and, because of his calmly resolute eyes and
grimly smiling mouth, fear came upon her, and therefore, because she
could not by him, because she knew herself helpless against him, she
suddenly covered her face from his eyes, and a great sob burst from
her.

Barnabas stopped, and looking at her bowed head and shrinking figure,
knew not what to do. And as he stood there within a yard of her,
debating within himself, upon the quiet broke a sudden sound--a small,
sharp sound, yet full of infinite significance--the snapping of a dry
twig among the shadows; a sound that made the ensuing silence but
the more profound, a breathless quietude which, as moment after
moment dragged by, grew full of deadly omen. And now, even as
Barnabas turned to front these menacing shadows, the moon went out.



CHAPTER XX


OF THE PROPHECY OF ONE BILLY BUTTON, A MADMAN

Upon the quiet stole a rustle of leaves, a whisper that came and went,
intermittently, that grew louder and louder, and so was gone again;
but in place of this was another sound, a musical jingle like the
chime of fairy bells, very far, and faint, and sweet. All at once
Barnabas knew that his companion's fear of him was gone, swallowed
up--forgotten in terror of the unknown. He heard a slow-drawn,
quivering sigh, and then, pale in the dimness, her hand came out to
him, crept down his arm, and finding his hand, hid itself in his
warm clasp; and her hand was marvellous cold, and her fingers
stirred and trembled in his.

Came again a rustling in the leaves, but louder now, and drawing
nearer and nearer, and ever the fairy chime swelled upon the air.
And even as it came Barnabas felt her closer, until her shoulder
touched his, until the fragrance of her breath fanned his cheek,
until the warmth of her soft body thrilled through him, until, loud
and sudden in the silence, a voice rose--a rich, deep voice:

"'Now is the witching hour when graveyards yawn'--the witching
hour--aha!--Oh! poor pale ghost, I know thee--by thy night-black
hair and sad, sweet eyes--I know thee. Alas, so young and
dead--while I, alas, so old and much alive! Yet I, too, must die
some day--soon, soon, beloved shadow. Then shall my shade encompass
thine and float up with thee into the infinite. But now, aha! now is
the witching hour! Oh! shades and phantoms, I summon thee, fairies,
pixies, ghosts and goblins, come forth, and I will sing you and
dance you."

"Tis a rare song, mine--and well liked by the quality,--you've heard
it before, perchance--ay, ay for you, being dead, hear and see all
things, oh, Wise Ones! Come, press round me, so. Now, hearkee,
'Oysters! oysters! and away we go."

  "'Many a knight and lady fair
    My oysters fine would try,
  They are the finest oysters, sir,
    That ever you did buy.
  Oysters! who'll buy my oysters, oh!'"

The bushes rustled again, and into the dimness leapt a tall, dark
figure that sang in a rich, sweet voice, and capered among the
shadows with a fantastic dancing step, then grew suddenly silent and
still. And in that moment the moon shone out again, shone down upon
a strange, wild creature, bareheaded and bare of foot. A very tall
man he was, with curling gray hair that hung low upon his shoulders,
and upon his coat were countless buttons of all makes and kinds that
winked and glittered in the moonlight, and jingled faintly as he
moved. For a moment he stood motionless and staring, then, laying one
hand to the gleaming buttons on his bosom, bowed with an easy,
courtly grace.

"Who are you?" demanded Barnabas.

"Billy, sir, poor Billy--Sir William, perhaps--but, mum for that;
the moon knows, but cannot tell, then why should I?"

"And what do you want--here?"

"To sing, sir, for you and the lady, if you will. I sing for high
folk and low folk. I have many songs, old and new, grave and gay,
but folk generally ask for my Oyster Song. I sing for rich and poor,
for the sad and for the merry. I sing at country fairs sometimes,
and sometimes to trees in lonely places--trees are excellent
listeners always. But to-night I sing for--Them."

"And who are they?"

"The Wise Ones, who, being dead, know all things, and live on for
ever. Ah, but they're kind to poor Billy, and though they have no
buttons to give him, yet they tell him things sometimes. Aha! such
things!--things to marvel at! So I sing for them always when the moon
is full, but, most of all, I sing for Her."

"Who is she?"

"One who died, many years ago. Folk told her I was dead, killed at
sea, and her heart broke--hearts will break--sometimes. So when she
died, I put off the shoes from my feet, and shall go barefoot to my
grave. Folk tell me that poor Billy's mad--well, perhaps he is--but
he sees and hears more than folk think; the Wise Ones tell me things.
You now; what do they tell me of you? Hush! You are on your way to
London, they tell me--yes--yes, to London town; you are rich, and
shall feast with princes, but youth is over-confident, and thus
shall you sup with beggars. They tell me you came here to-night--oh,
Youth!--oh, Impulse!--hasting--hasting to save a wanton from herself."

"Fool!" exclaimed Barnabas, turning upon the speaker in swift anger;
for my lady's hand had freed itself from his clasp, and she had
drawn away from him.

"Fool?" repeated the man, shaking his head, "nay, sir, I am only mad,
folk tell me. Yet the Wise Ones make me their confidant, they tell
me that she--this proud lady--is here to aid an unworthy brother, who
sent a rogue instead."

"Brother!" exclaimed Barnabas, with a sudden light in his eyes.

"Who else, sir?" demands my lady, very cold and proud again all at
once.

"But," stammered Barnabas, "but--I thought--"

"Evil of me!" says she.

"No--that is--I--I--Forgive me!"

"Sir, there are some things no woman can forgive; you dared to
think--"

"Of the rogue who came instead," said Barnabas.

"Ah!--the rogue?"

"His name is Chichester," said Barnabas.

"Chichester!" she repeated, incredulously. "Chichester!"

"A tall, slender, dark man, with a scar on his cheek," added Barnabas.

"Do you mean he was here--here to meet me--alone?"

Now, at this she seemed to shrink into herself; and, all at once,
sank down, crouching upon her knees, and hid her face from the moon.

"My lady!"

"Oh!" she sighed, "oh, that he should have come to this!"

"My Lady Cleone!" said Barnabas, and touched her very gently.

"And you--you!" she cried, shuddering away from him, "you thought me
what--he would have made me! You thought I--Oh, shame! Ah, don't
touch me!"

But Barnabas stooped and caught her hands, and sank upon his knees,
and thus, as they knelt together in the moonlight, he drew her so
that she must needs let him see her face.

"My lady," said he, very reverently, "my thought of you is this, that,
if such great honor may be mine, I will marry you--to-night."

But hereupon, with her two hands still prisoned in his, and with the
tears yet thick upon her lashes, she threw back her head, and
laughed with her eyes staring into his. Thereat Barnabas frowned
blackly, and dropped her hands, then caught her suddenly in his long
arms, and held her close.

"By God!" he exclaimed, "I'd kiss you, Cleone, on that scornful,
laughing mouth, only--I love you--and this is a solitude. Come away!"

"A solitude," she repeated; "yes, and he sent me here, to meet a
beast--a satyr! And now--you! You drove away the other brute, oh! I
can't struggle--you are too strong--and nothing matters now!" And so
she sighed, and closed her eyes. Then gazing down upon her rich,
warm beauty, Barnabas trembled, and loosed her, and sprang to his
feet.

"I think," said he, turning away to pick up his cudgel, "I think--we
had--better--go."

But my lady remained crouched upon her knees, gazing up at him under
her wet lashes.

"You didn't--kiss me!" she said, wonderingly.

"You were so--helpless!" said Barnabas. "And I honor you because it
was--your brother."

"Ah! but you doubted me first, you thought I came here to meet
that--beast!"

"Forgive me," said Barnabas, humbly.

"Why should I?"

"Because I love you."

"So many men have told me that," she sighed.

"But I," said Barnabas, "I am the last, and it is written 'the last
shall be first,' and I love you because you are passionate, and pure,
and very brave."

"Love!" she exclaimed, "so soon; you have seen me only once!"

"Yes," he nodded, "it is, therefore, to be expected that I shall
worship you also--in due season."

Now Barnabas stood leaning upon his stick, a tall, impassive figure;
his voice was low, yet it thrilled in her ears, and there was that
in his steadfast eyes before which her own wavered and fell; yet,
even so, from the shadow of her hood, she must needs question him
further.

"Worship me? When?"

"When you are--my--wife."

Again she was silent, while one slender hand plucked nervously at
the grass.

"Are you so sure of me?" she inquired at last.

"No; only of myself."

"Ah! you mean to--force a promise from me--here?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because it is night, and you are solitary; I would not have you
fear me again. But I shall come to you, one day, a day when the sun
is in the sky, and friends are within call. I shall come and ask you
then."

"And if I refuse?"

"Then I shall wait."

"Until I wed another?"

"Until you change your mind."

"I think I shall--refuse you."

"Indeed, I fear it is very likely."

"Why?"

"Because of my unworthiness; and, therefore, I would not have you
kneel while I stand."

"And the grass is very damp," she sighed.

So Barnabas stepped forward with hand outstretched to aid her, but,
as he did so, the wandering singer was between them, looking from
one to the other with his keen, bright eyes.

"Stay!" said he. "The Wise Ones have told me that she who kneels
before you now, coveted for her beauty, besought for her money,
shall kneel thus in the time to come; and one--even I, poor
Billy--shall stand betwixt you and join your hands thus, and bid you
go forth trusting in each other's love and strength, even as poor
Billy does now. And, mayhap, in that hour you shall heed the voice,
for time rings many changes; the proud are brought low, the humble
exalted. Hush! the Wise Ones grow impatient for my song; I hear them
calling from the trees, and must begone. But hearkee! they have told
me your name, Barnabas? yes, yes; Barn--, Barnabas; for the other,
no matter--mum for that! Barnabas, aha! that minds me--at Barnaby
Bright we shall meet again, all three of us, under an orbed moon, at
Barnaby Bright:--"

  "Oh, Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright,
  The sun's awake, and shines all night!"

"Ay, ay, 't is the night o' the fairies--when spirits pervade the air.
Then will I tell you other truths; but now--They call me. She is
fair, and passing fair, and by her beauty, suffering shall come upon
thee; but 'tis by suffering that men are made, and because of pride,
shame shall come on her; but by shame cometh humility. Farewell; I
must begone--farewell till Barnaby Bright. We are to meet again in
London town, I think--yes, yes--in London. Oho! oysters! oysters, sir?"

  "Many a knight and lady gay
  My oysters fine would try,
  They are the finest oysters
  That ever you could buy!
  Oysters! Oysters."

And so he bowed, turned, and danced away into the shadows, and above
the hush of the leaves rose the silvery jingle of his many buttons,
that sank to a chime, to a murmur, and was gone. And now my lady
sighed and rose to her feet, and looking at Barnabas, sighed
again--though indeed a very soft, little sigh this time. As for
Barnabas, he yet stood wondering, and looking after the strange
creature, and pondering his wild words. Thus my lady, unobserved,
viewed him at her leisure; noted the dark, close-curled hair, the
full, well-opened, brilliant eye, the dominating jaw, the sensitive
nostrils, the tender curve of the firm, strong mouth. And she had
called him "a ploughman--a runaway footman," and had even--she could
see the mark upon his cheek--how red it glowed! Did it hurt much,
she wondered?

"Mad of course--yes a madman, poor fellow!" said Barnabas,
thoughtfully.

"And he said your name is Barnabas."

"Why, to be sure, so he did," said Barnabas, rubbing his chin as one
at a loss, "which is very strange, for I never saw or heard of him
before."

"So then, your name is--Barnabas?"

"Yes. Barnabas Bar--Beverley."

"Beverley?"

"Yes--Beverley. But we must go."

"First, tell me how you learned my name?"

"From the Viscount--Viscount Devenham?"

"Then, you know the Viscount?"

"I do; we also know each other as rivals."

"Rivals? For what?"

"Yourself."

"For me? Sir--sir--what did you tell him?"

"My name is Barnabas. And I told him that I should probably marry you,
some day."

"You told him--that?"

"I did. I thought it but honorable, seeing he is my friend."

"Your friend!--since when, sir?"

"Since about ten o'clock this morning."

"Sir--sir--are you not a very precipitate person?"

"I begin to think I am. And my name is Barnabas."

"Since ten o'clock this morning! Then you knew--me first?"

"By about an hour."

Swiftly she turned away, yet not before he had seen the betraying
dimple in her cheek. And so, side by side, they came to the edge of
the clearing.

Now as he stooped to open a way for her among the brambles, she must
needs behold again the glowing mark upon his cheek, and seeing it,
her glance fell, and her lips grew very tender and pitiful, and, in
that moment, she spoke.

"Sir," she said, very softly, "sir?"

"My name is Barnabas."

"I fear--I--does your cheek pain you very much, Mr. Beverley?"

"Thank you, no. And my name is Barnabas."

"I did not mean to--to--"

"No, no, the fault was mine--I--I frightened you, and indeed the
pain is quite gone," he stammered, holding aside the brambles for
her passage. Yet she stood where she was, and her face was hidden in
her hood. At last she spoke and her voice was very low.

"Quite gone, sir?"

"Quite gone, and my name is--"

"I'm very--glad--Barnabas."

Four words only, be it noted; yet on the face of Barnabas was a
light that was not of the moon, as they entered the dim woodland
together.



CHAPTER XXI


IN WHICH BARNABAS UNDERTAKES A MISSION

Their progress through the wood was slow, by reason of the
undergrowth, yet Barnabas noticed that where the way permitted, she
hurried on at speed, and moreover, that she was very silent and kept
her face turned from him; therefore he questioned her.

"Are you afraid of these woods?"

"No."

"Of me?"

"No."

"Then, I fear you are angry again."

"I think Barnab--your name is--hateful!"

"Strange!" said Barnabas, "I was just thinking how musical it
was--as you say it."

"I--oh! I thought your cheek was paining you," said she, petulantly.

"My cheek?--what has that to do with it?"

"Everything, sir!"

"That," said Barnabas, "that I don't understand."

"Of course you don't!" she retorted.

"Hum!" said Barnabas.

"And now!" she demanded, "pray how did you know I was to be at
Oakshott's Barn to-night?"

"From my valet."

"Your valet?"

"Yes; though to be sure, he was a poacher, then."

"Sir, pray be serious!"

"I generally am."

"But why have a poacher for your valet?"

"That he might poach no more; and because I understand that he is
the best valet in the world."

Here she glanced up at Barnabas and shook her head: "I fear I shall
never understand you, Mr. Beverley."

"That time will show; and my name is Barnabas."

"But how did--this poacher--know?"

"He was the man who brought you the letter from Mr. Chichester."

"It was written by my--brother, sir."

"He was the man who gave you your brother's letter in Annersley Wood."

"Yes--I remember--in the wood."

"Where I found you lying quite unconscious."

"Where you found me--yes."

"Lying--quite unconscious!"

"Yes," she answered, beginning to hasten her steps again. "And where
you left me without telling me your name--or--even asking mine."

"For which I blamed myself--afterwards," said Barnabas.

"Indeed, it was very remiss of you."

"Yes," sighed Barnabas, "I came back to try and find you."

"Really, sir?" said she, with black brows arched--"did you indeed,
sir?"

"But I was too late, and I feared I had lost you--"

"Why, that reminds me, I lost my handkerchief."

"Oh!" said Barnabas, staring up at the moon.

"I think I must have dropped it--in the wood."

"Then, of course, it is gone--you may depend upon that," said
Barnabas, shaking his head at the moon.

"It had my monogram embroidered in one corner."

"Indeed!" said Barnabas.

"Yes; I was--hoping--that you had seen it, perhaps?"

"On a bramble-bush," said Barnabas, nodding at the moon.

"Then--you did find it, sir?"

"Yes; and I beg to remind you that my name--"

"Where is it?"

"In my pocket."

"Then why couldn't you say so before?"

"Because I wished to keep it there."

"Please give it to me!"

"Why?"

"Because no man shall have my favors to wear until he has my promise,
also."

"Then, since I have the one--give me the other."

"Mr. Beverley, you will please return my handkerchief," and stopping
all at once, she held out her hand imperiously.

"Of course," sighed Barnabas, "on a condition--"

"On no condition, sir!"

"That you remember my name is Barnabas."

"But I detest your name."

"I am hoping that by use it may become a little less objectionable,"
said he, rather ponderously.

"It never can--never; and I want my handkerchief,--Barnabas."

So Barnabas sighed again, and perforce gave the handkerchief into
her keeping. And now it was she who smiled up at the moon; but as
for Barnabas, his gaze was bent earthwards. After they had gone some
way in silence, he spoke.

"Have you met--Sir Mortimer Carnaby--often?" he inquired.

"Yes," she answered, then seeing his scowling look, added, "very
often, oh, very often indeed, sir!"

"Ha!" said frowning Barnabas, "and is he one of the many who
have--told you their love?"

"Yes."

"Hum," said Barnabas, and strode on in gloomy silence. Seeing which
she smiled in the shadow of her hood, and thereafter grew angry all
at once.

"And pray, why not, sir?" she demanded, haughtily, "though, indeed,
it does not at all concern you; and he is at least a gentleman, and
a friend of the Prince--"

"And has an excellent eye for horseflesh--and women," added Barnabas.

Now when he said this, she merely looked at him once, and thereafter
forgot all about him, whereby Barnabas gradually perceived that his
offence was great, and would have made humble atonement, yet found
her blind and deaf, which was but natural, seeing that, for her, he
had ceased to exist.

But they reached a stile. It was an uncommonly high stile, an
awkward stile at any time, more especially at night. Nevertheless,
she faced it resolutely, even though Barnabas had ceased to exist.
When, therefore, having vaulted over, he would have helped her, she
looked over him, and past him, and through him, and mounted unaided,
confident of herself, proud and supremely disdainful both of the
stile and Barnabas; and then--because of her pride, or her disdain,
or her long cloak, or all three--she slipped, and to save herself
must needs catch at Barnabas, and yield herself to his arm; so, for
a moment, she lay in his embrace, felt his tight clasp about her,
felt his quick breath upon her cheek. Then he had set her down, and
was eyeing her anxiously.

"Your foot, is it hurt?" he inquired.

"Thank you, no," she answered, and turning with head carried high,
hurried on faster than ever.

"You should have taken my hand," said he; but he spoke to deaf ears.

"You will find the next stile easier, I think," he ventured; but
still she hurried on, unheeding.

"You walk very fast!" said he again, but still she deigned him no
reply; therefore he stooped till he might see beneath her hood.

"Dear lady," said he very gently, "if I offended you a while
ago--forgive me--Cleone."

"Indeed," said she, looking away from him; "it would seem I must be
always forgiving you, Mr. Beverley."

"Why, surely it is a woman's privilege to forgive, Cleone--and my
name--"

"And a man's prerogative to be forgiven, I suppose, Mr. Beverley."

"When he repents as I do, Cleone; and my--"

"Oh! I forgive you," she sighed.

"Yet you still walk very fast."

"It must be nearly ten o'clock."

"I suppose so," said Barnabas, "and you will, naturally, be anxious
to reach home again."

"Home," she said bitterly; "I have no home."

"But--"

"I live in a gaol--a prison. Yes, a hateful, hateful prison, watched
by a one-legged gaoler, and guarded by a one-armed tyrant--yes, a
tyrant!" Here, having stopped to stamp her foot, she walked on
faster than ever.

"Can you possibly mean old Jerry and the Captain?"

Here my lady paused in her quick walk, and even condescended to look
at Barnabas.

"Do you happen to know them too, sir?"

"Yes; and my name is--"

"Perhaps you met them also this morning, sir?"

"Yes; and my--"

"Indeed," said she, with curling lip; "this has been quite an
eventful day for you."

"On the whole, I think it has; and may I remind you that my--"

"Perhaps you don't believe me when I say he is a tyrant?"

"Hum," said Barnabas.

"You don't, do you?"

"Why, I'm afraid not," he admitted.

"I'm nineteen!" said she, standing very erect.

"I should have judged you a little older," said Barnabas.

"So I am--in mind, and--and experience. Yet here I live, prisoned in
a dreary old house, and with nothing to see but trees, and toads,
and cows and cabbages; and I'm watched over, and tended from morning
till night, and am the subject of more councils of war than
Buonaparte's army ever was."

"What do you mean by councils of war?"

"Oh! whenever I do anything my tyrant disapproves of, he retires to
what he calls the 'round house,' summons the Bo'sun, and they argue
and talk over me as though I were a hostile fleet, and march up and
down forming plans of attack and defence, till I burst in on them,
and then--and then--Oh! there are many kinds of tyrants, and he is
one. And so to-night I left him; I ran away to meet--" She stopped
suddenly, and her head drooped, and Barnabas saw her white hands
clench themselves.

"Your brother," said he.

"Yes, my--brother," but her voice faltered at the word, and she went
on through the wood, but slowly now, and with head still drooping.
And so, at last, they came out of the shadows into the soft radiance
of the moon, and thus Barnabas saw that she was weeping; and she,
because she could no longer hide her grief, turned and laid a
pleading hand upon his arm.

"Pray, think of him as kindly as you can," she sighed, "you see--he
is only a boy--my brother."

"So young?" said Barnabas.

"Just twenty, but younger than his age--much younger. You see," she
went on hastily, "he went to London a boy--and--and he thought
Mr. Chichester was his friend, and he lost much money at play, and,
somehow, put himself in Mr. Chichester's power. He is my half-brother,
really; but I--love him so, and I've tried to take care of him--I
was always so much stronger than he--and--and so I would have you
think of him as generously as you can."

"Yes," said Barnabas, "yes." But now she stopped again so that he
must needs stop too, and when she spoke her soft voice thrilled with
a new intensity.

"Will you do more? You are going to London--will you seek him out,
will you try to--save him from himself? Will you promise me to do
this--will you?"

Now seeing the passionate entreaty in her eyes, feeling it in the
twitching fingers upon his arm, Barnabas suddenly laid his own above
that slender hand, and took it into his warm clasp.

"My lady," said he, solemnly, "I will." As he spoke he stooped his
head low and lower, until she felt his lips warm upon her palm, a
long, silent pressure, and yet her hand was not withdrawn.

Now although Barnabas had clean forgotten the rules and precepts set
down in the "priceless wollum," he did it all with a graceful ease
which could not have been bettered--no, not even by the Person of
Quality itself.

"But it will be difficult," she sighed, as they went on together.
"Ronald is very headstrong and proud--it will be very difficult!"

"No matter," said Barnabas.

"And--dangerous, perhaps."

"No matter for that either," said Barnabas.

"Does it seem strange that I should ask so much of you?"

"The most natural thing in the world," said Barnabas.

"But you are a stranger--almost!"

"But I--love you, Cleone."

After this there fell a silence between them; and so having crossed
the moonlit meadow, they came to a tall hedge beyond whose shadow
the road led away, white under the moon; close by the ways divided,
and here stood a weather-beaten finger-post. Now beneath this hedge
they stopped, and it is to be noted that neither looked at the other.

"Sir," said she, softly, "we part here, my home lies yonder," and
she pointed to where above the motionless tree-tops rose the gables
and chimneys of a goodly house.

"It would seem to be fairly comfortable as prisons go," said Barnabas;
but my lady only sighed.

"Do you start for London--soon?"

"To-night," nodded Barnabas.

"Sir," said she, after a pause, "I would thank you, if I could,
for--for all that you have done for me."

"No, no," said Barnabas, hastily.

"Words are poor things, I know, but how else may I show my gratitude?"

And now it was Barnabas who was silent; but at last--

"There is a way," said he, staring at the finger-post.

"How--what way?"

"You might--kiss me--once, Cleone."

Now here she must needs steal a swift look at him, and thus she saw
that he still stared at the ancient finger-post, but that his hands
were tight clenched.

"I only ask," he continued heavily, "for what I might have taken."

"But didn't!" she added, with lips and eyes grown suddenly tender.

"No," sighed Barnabas, "nor shall I ever,--until you will
it so,--because, you see, I love you."

Now as he gazed at the finger-post, even so she gazed at him; and
thus she saw again the mark upon his cheek, and looking, sighed;
indeed, it was the veriest ghost of a sigh, yet Barnabas heard it,
and straightway forgot the finger-post, forgot the world and all
things in it, save her warm beauty, the red allurement of her mouth,
and the witchery of her drooping lashes; therefore he reached out
his hands to her, and she saw that they were trembling.

"Cleone," he murmured, "oh, Cleone--look up!"

But even as he spoke she recoiled from his touch, for, plain and
clear, came the sound of footsteps on the road near by. Sighing,
Barnabas turned thitherwards and beheld advancing towards them one
who paused, now and then, to look about him as though at a loss, and
then hurried on again. A very desolate figure he was, and quaintly
pathetic because of his gray hair, and the empty sleeve that flapped
helplessly to and fro with the hurry of his going--a figure, indeed,
that there was no mistaking. Being come to the finger-post, he
paused to look wistfully on all sides, and Barnabas could see that
his face was drawn and haggard. For a moment he gazed about him
wild-eyed and eager, then with a sudden, hopeless gesture, he leaned
his one arm against the battered sign-post and hid his face there.

"Oh, my lass--my dear!" he cried in a strangled voice, "why did you
leave me? Oh, my lass!"

Then all at once came a rustle of parting leaves, the flutter of
flying draperies, and Cleone had fled to that drooping, disconsolate
figure, had wreathed her protecting arms about it, and so all moans,
and sobs, and little tender cries, had drawn her tyrant's head down
upon her gentle bosom and clasped it there.



CHAPTER XXII


IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO AN ANCIENT FINGER-POST

"Why, Cleone!" exclaimed the Captain, and folded his solitary arm
about her; but not content with this, my lady must needs take his
empty sleeve also, and, drawing it close about her neck, she held it
there.

"Oh, Cleone!" sighed the Captain, "my dear, dear lass!"

"No," she cried, "I'm a heartless savage, an ungrateful wretch! I am,
I am--and I hate myself!" and here, forthwith, she stamped her foot
at herself.

"No, no, you're not--I say no! You didn't mean to break my heart.
You've come back to me, thank God, and--and--Oh, egad, Cleone, I
swear--I say I swear--by Gog and Magog, I'm snuffling like a
birched schoolboy; but then I--couldn't bear to--lose my dear maid."

"Dear," she sighed, brushing away his tears with the cuff of his
empty sleeve, "dear, if you'd only try to hate me a little--just a
little, now and then, I don't think I should be quite such a wretch
to you." Here she stood on tip-toe and kissed him on the chin, that
being nearest. "I'm a cat--yes, a spiteful cat, and I must scratch
sometimes; but ah! if you knew how I hated myself after! And I know
you'll go and forgive me again, and that's what makes it so hard to
bear."

"Forgive you, Clo'--ay, to be sure! You've come back to me, you see,
and you didn't mean to leave me solitary and--"

"Ah, but I did--I did! And that's why I am a wretch, and a cat, and
a savage! I meant to run away and leave you for ever and ever!"

"The house would be very dark without you, Cleone."

"Dear, hold me tighter--now listen! There are times when I hate the
house, and the country, and--yes, even you. And at such times I grow
afraid of myself--hold me tighter!--at such times I long for
London--and--and--Ah, but you do love me, don't you?"

"Love you--my own lass!" The Captain's voice was very low, yet
eloquent with yearning tenderness; but even so, his quick ear had
caught a rustle in the hedge, and his sharp eye had seen Barnabas
standing in the shadow. "Who's that?" he demanded sharply.

"Why, indeed," says my lady, "I had forgotten him. 'Tis a friend of
yours, I think. Pray come out, Mr. Beverley."

"Beverley!" exclaimed the Captain. "Now sink me! what's all this?
Come out, sir,--I say come out and show yourself!"

So Barnabas stepped out from the hedge, and uncovering his head,
bowed low.

"Your very humble, obedient servant, sir," said he.

"Ha! by Thor and Odin, so it's you again, is it, sir? Pray, what
brings you still so far from the fashionable world? What d'ye want,
sir, eh, sir?"

"Briefly, sir," answered Barnabas, "your ward."

"Eh--what? what?" cried the Captain.

"Sir," returned Barnabas, "since you are the Lady Cleone's lawful
guardian, it is but right to tell you that I hope to marry her--some
day."

"Marry!" exclaimed the Captain. "Marry my--damme, sir, but you're
cool--I say cool and devilish impudent, and--and--oh, Gad, Cleone!"

"My dear," said she, smiling and stroking her tyrant's shaven cheek,
"why distress ourselves, we can always refuse him, can't we?"

"Ay, to be sure, so we can," nodded the Captain, "but oh! sink
me,--I say sink and scuttle me, the audacity of it! I say he's
a cool, impudent, audacious fellow!"

"Yes, dear, indeed I think he's all that," said my lady, nodding her
head at Barnabas very decidedly, "and I forgot to tell you that
beside all this, he is the--gentleman who--saved me from my folly
to-night, and brought me back to you."

"Eh? eh?" cried the Captain, staring.

"Yes, dear, and this is he who--" But here she drew down her
tyrant's gray head, and whispered three words in his ear. Whatever
she said it affected the Captain mightily, for his frown changed
suddenly into his youthful smile, and reaching out impulsively, he
grasped Barnabas by the hand.

"Aha, sir!" said he, "you have a good, big fist here!"

"Indeed," said Barnabas, glancing down at it somewhat ruefully,
"it is--very large, I fear."

"Over large, sir!" says my lady, also regarding it, and with her
head at a critical angle, "it could never be called--an elegant hand,
could it?"

"Elegant!" snorted the Captain, "I say pooh! I say pish! Sir, you
must come in and sup with us, my house is near by. Good English beef
and ale, sir."

Barnabas hesitated, and glanced toward Cleone, but her face was
hidden in the shadow of her hood, wherefore his look presently
wandered to the finger-post, near by, upon whose battered sign he
read the words:--

     TO HAWKHURST.    TO LONDON.

"Sir," said he, "I would, most gratefully, but that I start for
London at once." Yet while he spoke, he frowned blackly at the
finger-post, as though it had been his worst enemy.

"London!" exclaimed the Captain, "so you are still bound for the
fashionable world, are ye?"

"Yes," sighed Barnabas, "but I--"

"Pish, sir, I say fiddle-de-dee!"

"I have lately undertaken a mission."

"Ha! So you won't come in?"

"Thank you, no; this mission is important, and I must be gone;" and
here again Barnabas sighed.

Then my lady turned and looked at Barnabas, and, though she uttered
no word, her eyes were eloquent; so that the heart of him was
uplifted, and he placed his hand upon the finger-post as though it
had been his best friend.

"Why then, so be it, young sir," said the Captain, "it remains only
to thank you, which I do, I say which I do most heartily, and to bid
you good-by."

"Until we meet again, Captain."

"Eh--what, sir? meet when?"

"At 'Barnaby Bright,'" says my lady, staring up at the moon.

"In a month's time," added Barnabas.

"Eh?" exclaimed the Captain, "what's all this?"

"In a month's time, sir, I shall return to ask Cleone to be my wife,"
Barnabas explained.

"And," said my lady, smiling at the Captain's perplexity, "we shall
be glad to see him, shan't we, dear? and shall, of course, refuse him,
shan't we, dear?"

"Refuse him? yes--no--egad! I don't know," said the Captain, running
his fingers through his hair, "I say, deuce take me--I'm adrift; I
say where's the Bo'sun?"

"Good-by, sir!" says my lady, very seriously, and gave him her hand;
"good-by."

"Till 'Barnaby Bright,'" said Barnabas.

At this she smiled, a little tremulously perhaps.

"May heaven prosper you in your mission," said she, and turned away.

"Young sir," said the Captain, "always remember my name is Chumly,
John Chumly, plain and unvarnished, and, whether we refuse you or not,
John Chumly will ever be ready to take you by the hand. Farewell, sir!"

So tyrant and captive turned away and went down the by-road together,
and his solitary arm was close about her. But Barnabas stood there
under the finger-post until a bend in the road hid them; then he, too,
sighed and turned away. Yet he had gone only a little distance when
he heard a voice calling him, and, swinging round, he saw Cleone
standing under the finger-post.

"I wanted to give you--this," said she, as he came striding back,
and held out a folded paper. "It is his--my brother's--letter. Take
it with you, it will serve to show you what a boy he is, and will
tell you where to find him."

So Barnabas took the letter and thrust it into his pocket. But she
yet stood before him, and now, once again, their glances avoided
each other.

"I also wanted to--ask you--about your cheek," said she at last.

"Yes?" said Barnabas.

"You are quite sure it doesn't--pain you, Mr. Bev--"

"Must I remind you that my name--"

"Are you quite sure--Barnabas?"

"Quite sure--yes, oh yes!" he stammered.

"Because it--glows very red!" she sighed, though indeed she still
kept her gaze averted, "so will you please--stoop your head a little?"

Wonderingly Barnabas obeyed, and then--even as he did so, she leaned
swiftly towards him, and for an instant her soft, warm mouth rested
upon his cheek. Then, before he could stay her, she was off and away;
and her flying feet had borne her out of sight.

Then Barnabas sighed, and would have followed, but the ancient
finger-post barred his way with its two arms pointing:--

     TO HAWKHURST.     TO LONDON.

So he stopped, glanced about him to fix the hallowed place in his
memory, and, obeying the directing finger, set off London-wards.



CHAPTER XXIII


HOW BARNABAS SAVED HIS LIFE--BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID

On went Barnabas swift of foot and light of heart, walking through a
World of Romance, and with his eyes turned up to the luminous heaven.
Yet it was neither of the moon, nor the stars, nor the wonder
thereof that he was thinking, but only of the witchery of a woman's
eyes, and the thrill of a woman's lips upon his cheek; and, indeed,
what more natural, more right, and altogether proper? Little recked
he of the future, of the perils and dangers to be encountered, of
the sorrows and tribulations that lay in wait for him, or of the
enemies that he had made that day, for youth is little given to
brooding, and is loftily indifferent to consequences.

So it was of Lady Cleone Meredith he thought as he strode along the
moonlit highway, and it was of her that he was thinking as he turned
into that narrow by-lane where stood "The Spotted Cow." As he
advanced, he espied some one standing in the shadow of one of the
great trees, who, as he came nearer, stepped out into the moonlight;
and then Barnabas saw that it was none other than his newly engaged
valet. The same, yet not the same, for the shabby clothes had given
place to a sober, well-fitting habit, and as he took off his hat in
salutation, Barnabas noticed that his hollow cheeks were clean and
freshly shaved; he was, indeed, a new man.

But now, as they faced each other, Barnabas observed something else;
John Peterby's lips were compressed, and in his eye was anxiety, the
which had, somehow, got into his voice when he spoke, though his
tone was low and modulated: "Sir, if you are for London to-night, we
had better start at once, the coach leaves Tenterden within the hour."

"But," says Barnabas, setting his head aslant, and rubbing his chin
with the argumentative air that was so very like his father,
"I have ordered supper here, Peterby."

"Which--under the circumstances--I have ventured to countermand, sir."

"Oh?" said Barnabas, "pray, what circumstances?"

"Sir, as I told you, the mail--"

"John Peterby, speak out--what is troubling you?"

But now, even while Peterby stood hesitating, from the open casement
of the inn, near at hand, came the sound of a laugh: a soft, gentle,
sibilant laugh which Barnabas immediately recognized.

"Ah!" said he, clenching his fist. "I think I understand." As he
turned towards the inn, Peterby interposed.

"Sir," he whispered, "sir, if ever a man meant mischief--he does. He
came back an hour ago, and they have been waiting for you ever since."

"They?"

"He and the other."

"What other?"

"Sir, I don't know."

"Is he a very--young man, this other?"

"Yes, sir, he seems so. And they have been drinking together
and--I've heard enough to know that they mean you harm." But here
Master Barnabas smiled with all the arrogance of youth and shook his
head.

"John Peterby," said he, "learn that the first thing I desire in my
valet is obedience. Pray stand out of my way!" So, perforce Peterby
stood aside, yet Barnabas had scarce taken a dozen strides ere
Clemency stood before him.

"Go back," she whispered, "go back!"

"Impossible," said Barnabas, "I have a mission to fulfil."

"Go back!" she repeated in the same tense whisper, "you must--oh,
you must! I've heard he has killed a man before now--"

"And yet I must see and speak with his companion."

"No, no--ah! I pray you--"

"Nay," said Barnabas, "if you will, and if need be, pray for me." So
saying he put her gently aside, and entering the inn, came to the
door of that room wherein he had written the letter to his father.

"I tell you I'll kill him, Dalton," said a soft, deliberate voice.

"Undoubtedly; the light's excellent; but, my dear fellow, why--?"

"I object to him strongly, for one thing, and--"

The voice was hushed suddenly, as Barnabas set wide the door and
stepped into the room, with Peterby at his heels.

Mr. Chichester was seated at the table with a glass beside him, but
Barnabas looked past him to his companion who sprawled on the other
side of the hearth--a sleepy, sighing gentleman, very high as to
collar, very tight as to waist, and most ornate as to waistcoat;
young he was certainly, yet with his first glance, Barnabas knew
instinctively that this could not be the youth he sought.
Nevertheless he took off his hat and saluted him with a bow that for
stateliness left the "stiff-legged gentleman" nowhere.

"Sir," said he, "pray what might your name be?"

Instead of replying, the sleepy gentleman opened his eyes rather
wider than was usual and stared at Barnabas with a growing surprise,
stared at him from head to foot and up again, then, without changing
his lounging attitude, spoke:

"Oh, Gad, Chichester!--is this the--man?"

"Yes."

"But--my dear Chit! Surely you don't propose to--this fellow! Who is
he? What is he? Look at his boots--oh, Gad!"

Hereupon Barnabas resumed his hat, and advancing leaned his clenched
fists on the table, and from that eminence smiled down at the speaker,
that is to say his lips curled and his teeth gleamed in the
candle-light.

"Sir," said he gently, "you will perhaps have the extreme
condescension to note that my boots are strong boots, and very
serviceable either for walking, or for kicking an insolent puppy."

"If I had a whip, now," sighed the gentleman, "if I only had a whip,
I'd whip you out of the room. Chichester,--pray look at that coat, oh,
Gad!"

But Mr. Chichester had risen, and now crossing to the door, he
locked it, and dropped the key into his pocket.

"As you say, the light is excellent, my dear Dalton," said he,
fixing Barnabas with his unwavering stare.

"But my dear Chit, you never mean to fight the fellow--a--a being
who wears such a coat! such boots! My dear fellow, be reasonable!
Observe that hat! Good Gad! Take your cane and whip him
out--positively you cannot fight this bumpkin."

"None the less I mean to shoot him--like a cur, Dalton." And Mr.
Chichester drew a pistol from his pocket, and fell to examining
flint and priming with a practised eye. "I should have preferred my
regular tools; but I dare say this will do the business well enough;
pray, snuff the candles."

Now, as Barnabas listened to the soft, deliberate words, as he noted
Mr. Chichester's assured air, his firm hand, his glowing eye and
quivering nostrils, a sudden deadly nausea came over him, and he
leaned heavily upon the table.

"Sirs," said he, uncertainly, and speaking with an effort, "I have
never used a pistol in my life."

"One could tell as much from his boots," murmured Mr. Dalton,
snuffing the candles.

"You have another pistol, I think, Dalton; pray lend it to him. We
will take opposite corners of the room, and fire when you give the
word."

"All quite useless, Chit; this fellow won't fight."

"No," said Barnabas, thrusting his trembling hands into his pockets,
"not--in a corner."

Mr. Chichester shrugged his shoulders, sat down, and leaning back in
his chair stared up at pale-faced Barnabas, tapping the table-edge
softly with the barrel of his weapon.

"Not in a corner--I told you so, Chit. Oh, take your cane and whip
him out!"

"I mean," said Barnabas, very conscious of the betraying quaver in
his voice, "I mean that, as I'm--unused to--shooting, the corner
would be--too far."

"Too far? Oh, Gad!" exclaimed Mr. Dalton. "What's this?"

"As for pistols, I have one here," continued Barnabas, "and if we
must shoot, we'll do it here--across the table."

"Eh--what? Across the table! but, oh, Gad, Chichester! this is
madness!" said Mr. Dalton.

"Most duels are," said Barnabas, and as he spoke he drew from his
pocket the pistol he had taken from Mr. Chichester earlier in the
evening and, weapon in hand, sank into a chair, thus facing Mr.
Chichester across the table.

"But this is murder--positive murder!" cried Mr. Dalton.

"Sir," said Barnabas, "I am no duellist, as I told you; and it seems
to me that this equalizes our chances, for I can no more fail of
hitting my man at this distance than he of shooting me dead across
the width of the room. And, sir--if I am to--die to-night, I shall
most earnestly endeavor to take Mr. Chichester with me."

There was a tremor in his voice again as he spoke, but his eye was
calm, his brow serene, and his hand steady as he cocked the pistol,
and leaning his elbow upon the table, levelled it within six inches
of Mr. Chichester's shirt frill. But hereupon Mr. Dalton sprang to
his feet with a stifled oath:

"I tell you it's murder--murder!" he exclaimed, and took a quick
step towards them.

"Peterby!" said Barnabas.

"Sir?" said Peterby, who had been standing rigid beside the door.

"Take my stick," said Barnabas, holding it out towards him, but
keeping his gaze upon Mr. Chichester's narrowed eyes; "it's heavy
you'll find, and should this person presume to interfere, knock him
down with it."

"Yes, sir," said Peterby, and took the stick accordingly.

"But--oh, Gad!" exclaimed Dalton, "I tell you this can't go on!"

"Indeed, I hope not," said Barnabas; "but it is for Mr. Chichester
to decide. I am ready for the count when he is."

But Mr. Chichester sat utterly still, his chin on his breast,
staring at Barnabas under his brows, one hand tight clenched about
the stock of his weapon on the table before him, the other hanging
limply at his side. So for an interval they remained thus, staring
into each other's eyes, in a stillness so profound that it seemed
all four men had ceased breathing. Then Mr. Chichester sighed faintly,
dropped his eyes to the muzzle of the weapon so perilously near,
glanced back at the pale, set face and unwinking eyes of him who
held it, and sighed again.

"Dalton," said he, "pray open the door, and order the chaise," and
he laid the key upon the table.

"First," said Barnabas, "I will relieve you of that--encumbrance,"
and he pointed to the pistol yet gripped in Mr. Chichester's right
hand. Without a word Mr. Chichester rose, and leaving the weapon
upon the table, turned and walked to the window, while Mr. Dalton,
having unlocked the door, hurried away to the stable-yard, and was
now heard calling for the ostlers.

"Peterby," said Barnabas, "take this thing and throw it into the
horse-pond; yet, no, give it to the gentleman who just went out."

"Yes, sir," said Peterby, and, taking up the pistol, he went out,
closing the door behind him.

Mr. Chichester still lounged in the window, and hummed softly to
himself; but as for Barnabas, he sat rigid in his chair, staring
blankly at the opposite wall, his eyes wide, his lips tense, and
with a gleam of moisture amid the curls at his temples. So the
one lounged and hummed, and the other glared stonily before him
until came the grind of wheels and the stamping of hoofs. Then
Mr. Chichester took up his hat and cane, and, humming still,
crossed to the door, and lounged out into the yard.

Came a jingle of harness, a sound of voices, the slam of a door, and
the chaise rolled away down the lane, farther and farther, until the
rumble of its wheels died away in the distance. Then Barnabas
laughed--a sudden shrill laugh--and clenched his fists, and strove
against the laughter, and choked, and so sank forward with his face
upon his arms as one that is very weary. Now, presently, as he sat
thus, it seemed to him that one spoke a long way off, whereupon, in
a little, he raised his head, and beheld Clemency.

"You--are not hurt?" she inquired anxiously.

"Hurt?" said Barnabas, "no, not hurt, Mistress Clemency, not hurt, I
thank you; but I think I have grown a--great deal--older."

"I saw it all, through the window, and yet I--don't know why you are
alive."

"I think because I was so very much--afraid," said Barnabas.

"Sir," said she, with her brown hands clasped together, "was it
for--if it was for--my sake that you--quarrelled, and--"

"No," said Barnabas, "it was because of--another."

Now, when he said this, Clemency stared at him wide-eyed, and, all
in a moment, flushed painfully and turned away, so that Barnabas
wondered.

"Good-by!" said she, suddenly, and crossed to the door, but upon the
threshold paused; "I did pray for you," she said, over her shoulder.

"Ah!" said Barnabas, rising, "you prayed for me, and behold, I am
alive."

"Good-by!" she repeated, her face still averted.

"Good-by!" said Barnabas, "and will you remember me in your
prayers--sometimes?"

"My prayers! Why?"

"Because the prayers of a sweet, pure woman may come between man
and evil--like a shield."

"I will," said she, very softly. "Oh, I will," and so, with a swift
glance, was gone.

Being come out of the inn, Barnabas met with his valet, John Peterby.

"Sir," he inquired, "what now?"

"Now," said Barnabas, "the Tenterden coach, and London."



CHAPTER XXIV


WHICH RELATES SOMETHING OF THE "WHITE LION" AT TENTERDEN

Of all the lions that ever existed, painted or otherwise, white lions,
blue lions, black, green, or red lions, surely never was there one
like the "White Lion" at Tenterden. For he was such a remarkably
placid lion, although precariously balanced upon the extreme point
of one claw, and he stared down at all and sundry with such round,
inquiring eyes, as much as to say:

"Who are you? What's your father? Where are you going?" Indeed, so
very inquisitive was he that his very tail had writhed itself into a
note of interrogation, and, like a certain historical personage, was
forever asking a question. To-night he had singled out Barnabas from
the throng, and was positively bombarding him with questions, as:

"Dark or fair? Tall or short? Does she love you? Will she remember
you? Will she kiss you--next time? Aha! will she, will she?"

But here, feeling a touch upon his arm, Barnabas turned to find
Peterby at his elbow, and thus once more became aware of the hubbub
about him.

"Box seat, sir; next to the coachman!" says Peterby above the din,
for voices are shouting, horses snorting and stamping, ostlers are
hurrying here, running there, and swearing everywhere; waiters and
serving-maids are dodging to and fro, and all is hurry and bustle,
for the night mail is on the eve of departure for London.

Throned above all this clamor, calmly aloof, yet withal watchful of
eye, sits the coachman, beshawled to the ears of him, hatted to the
eyes of him, and in a wondrous coat of many capes; a ponderous man,
hoarse of voice and mottled of face, who, having swallowed his hot
rum and water in three leisurely gulps, tosses down the glass to the
waiting pot-boy (and very nearly hits a fussy little gentleman in a
green spencer, who carries a hat-box in one hand and a bulging
valise in the other, and who ducks indignantly, but just in time),
sighs, shakes his head, and proceeds to rewind the shawl about his
neck and chin, and to belt himself into his seat, throwing an
occasional encouraging curse to the perspiring ostlers below.

"Coachman!" cries the fussy gentleman, "hi, coachman!"

"The 'Markis' seems a bit fresh to-night, Sam," says Mottle-face
affably to one of the ostlers.

"Fresh!" exclaims that worthy as the 'Marquis' rears again,
"fresh, I believe you--burn 'is bones!"

"Driver!" shouts the fussy gentleman, "driver!"

"Why then, bear 'im up werry short, Sam."

"Driver!" roars the fussy little gentleman, "driver! coachman! oh,
driver!"

"Vell, sir, that's me?" says Mottle-face, condescending to become
aware of him at last.

"Give me a hand up with my valise--d'ye hear?"

"Walise, sir? No, sir, can't be done, sir. In the boot, sir; guard,
sir."

"Boot!" cries the fussy gentleman indignantly. "I'll never trust my
property in the boot!"

"Then v'y not leave it be'ind, sir, and stay vith it, or--"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed the little man, growing angry. "I tell you
this is valuable property. D'ye know who I am?"

"Or ye might climb into the boot along vith it, sir--"

"Do you know who I am?"

"All aboard--all aboard for London!" roared the guard, coming up at
the instant.

"Valter!" cried Mottle-face.

"Ay, ay, Joe?"

"Gentleman's walise for the boot, Valter; and sharp's the vord!"

"Ay, ay, Joe!" and, as he spoke, the guard caught the valise from
the protesting small gentleman with one hand, and the hat-box with
the other, and, forthwith, vanished. Hereupon the fussy gentleman,
redder of face, and more angry than ever, clambered to the roof,
still loudly protesting; all of which seemed entirely lost upon
Mottle-face, who, taking up the reins and settling his feet against
the dash-board, winked a solemn, owl-like eye at Barnabas sitting
beside him, and carolled a song in a husky voice, frequently
interrupting himself to admonish the ostlers, in this wise:--

  "She vore no 'at upon 'er 'ead,
  Nor a cap, nor a--"

"Bear the 'Markis' up werry short, Sam, vill 'ee?

  "--dandy bonnet,
  But 'er 'air it 'ung all down 'er back,
  Like a--"

"Easy--easy now! Hold on to them leaders, Dick!

  "--bunch of carrots upon it.
  Ven she cried 'sprats' in Vestminister,
  Oh! sich a sveet loud woice, sir,
  You could 'ear 'er all up Parlyment Street,
  And as far as Charing Cross, sir."

"All aboard, all aboard for London!" roars the guard, and roaring,
swings himself up into the boot.

"All right be'ind?" cries Mottle-face.

"All right, Joe!" sings the guard.

"Then--leggo, there!" cries Mottle-face.

Back spring the ostlers, forward leap the four quivering horses,
their straining hoofs beating out showers of sparks from the cobbles;
the coach lurches forward and is off, amid a waving of hats and
pocket-handkerchiefs, and Barnabas, casting a farewell glance around,
is immediately fixed by the gaze of the "White Lion," as inquiring
of eye and interrogatory of tail as ever.

"Tall or short? Dark or fair? Will she kiss you--next time--will she,
will she? Will she even be glad to see you again--will she, now will
she?"

Whereupon Barnabas must needs become profoundly thoughtful all at
once.

"Now--I wonder?" said he to himself.



CHAPTER XXV


OF THE COACHMAN'S STORY

Long before the lights of the "White Lion" had vanished behind them,
the guard blows a sudden fanfare on the horn, such a blast as goes
echoing merrily far and wide, and brings folk running to open doors
and lighted windows to catch a glimpse of the London Mail ere it
vanishes into the night; and so, almost while the cheery notes ring
upon the air, Tenterden is behind them, and they are bowling along
the highway into the open country beyond. A wonderful country this,
familiar and yet wholly new; a nightmare world where ghosts and
goblins flit under a dying moon; where hedge and tree become monsters
crouched to spring, or lift knotted arms to smite; while in the
gloom of woods beyond, unimagined horrors lurk.

But, bless you, Mottle-face, having viewed it all under the slant of
his hat-brim, merely settles his mottled chin deeper in his shawls,
flicks the off ear of the near leader with a delicate turn of the
wrists, and turning his owl-like eye upon Barnabas, remarks that
"It's a werry fine night!" But hereupon the fussy gentleman, leaning
over, taps Mottle-face upon the shoulder.

"Coachman," says he, "pray, when do you expect to reach The Borough,
London?"

"Vich I begs to re-mark, sir," retorts Mottle-face, settling his
curly-brimmed hat a little further over his left eye, "vich I 'umbly
begs to re-mark as I don't expect nohow!"

"Eh--what! what! you don't expect to--"

"Vich I am vun, sir, as don't novise expect nothin', consequent am
never novise disapp'inted," says Mottle-face with a solemn nod;
"but, vind an' veather permittin', ve shall be at the 'George' o'
South'ark at five, or thereabouts!"

"Ha!" says the fussy gentleman, "and what about my valise? is it safe?"

"Safe, ah! safe as the Bank o' England, unless ve should 'appen to
be stopped--"

"Stopped? stopped, coachman? d' you mean--?"

"Ah! stopped by Blue-chinned Jack o' Brockley, or Gallopin' Toby o'
Tottenham, or--"

"Eh--what! what! d' you mean there are highwaymen on this road?"

"'Ighvaymen!" snorted Mottle-face, winking ponderously at Barnabas,
"by Goles, I should say so, it fair bristles vith 'em."

"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman in an altered tone,
"but you are armed, of course?"

"Armed?" repeated Mottle-face, more owl-like of eye than ever,
"armed, sir, Lord love me yes! my guard carries a brace o' barkers
in the boot."

"I'm glad of that," said the fussy gentleman, "very!"

"Though," pursued Mottle-face, rolling his head heavily, "Joe ain't
'zactly what you might call a dead shot, nor yet a ex-pert, bein'
blind in 'is off blinker, d'ye see."

"Eh--blind, d'ye say--blind?" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.

"Only in 'is off eye," nodded Mottle-face, reassuringly, "t'other
'un's as good as yours or mine, ven 'e ain't got a cold in it."

"But this--this is an outrage!" spluttered the fussy gentleman,
"a guard blind in one eye! Scandalous! I shall write to the papers
of this. But you--surely you carry a weapon too?"

"A vepping? Ay, to be sure, sir, I've got a blunder-bush, under this
'ere werry seat, loaded up to the muzzle wi' slugs too,--though it
von't go off."

"Won't--eh, what? Won't go off?"

"Not on no account, sir, vich ain't to be 'spected of it, seeing as
it ain't got no trigger."

"But--heaven preserve us! why carry such a useless thing?"

"Force of 'abit, sir; ye see, I've carried that theer old
blunderbush for a matter of five-an'-twenty year, an' my feyther 'e
carried it afore me."

"But suppose we are attacked?"

"Vich I begs to re-mark, sir, as I don't never suppose no such thing,
like my feyther afore me. Brave as a lion were my feyther, sir, an'
bred up to the road; v'y, Lord! 'e were born vith a coachman's v'ip
in 'is mouth--no, I mean 'is fist, as ye might say; an' 'e were the
boldest--"

"But what's your father got to do with it?" cried the fussy gentleman.
"What about my valise?"

"Your walise, sir? we'm a-coming to that;" and here, once more,
Mottle-face slowly winked his owl-like eye at Barnabas. "My feyther,
sir," he continued, "my feyther, 'e druv' the Dartford Mail, an' 'e
were the finest v'ip as ever druv' a coach, Dartford or otherwise;
'Andsome 'Arry' 'e vere called, though v'y 'andsome I don't know,
seeing as 'is nose veren't all it might ha' been, on account o' a
quart pot; an' v'y 'Arry I don't know, seeing as 'is name vos Villiam;
but, ''Andsome 'Arry' 'e vere called, an' werry much respected 'e
vere too. Lord! there vos never less than a dozen or so young bloods
to see 'im start. Ah! a great favorite 'e vere vith them, an' no
error, an' werry much admired; admired? I should say so. They copied
'is 'at they copied 'is boots, they copied 'is coat, they'd a
copied 'im inside as well as out if they could."

"Hum!" said the fussy gentleman. "Ha!"

"Oh, 'e vos a great fav'rite vith the Quality," nodded Mottle-face.
"Ah! it vos a dream to see 'im 'andle the ribbons,--an' spit? Lord!
it vos a eddication to see my feyther spit, I should say so! Vun
young blood--a dock's son he vere too--vent an' 'ad a front tooth
drawed a purpose, but I never 'eard as it done much good; bless you,
to spit like my feyther you must be born to it!" (here Mottle-face
paused to suit the action to the word). "And, mark you! over an'
above all this, my feyther vere the boldest cove that ever--"

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman impatiently, "but where
does my valise come in?"

"Your walise, sir," said Mottle-face, deftly flicking the off wheeler,
"your walise comes in--at the end, sir, and I'm a-comin' to it as
qvick as you'll let me."

"Hum!" said the gentleman again.

"Now, in my feyther's time," resumed Mottle-face serenely, "the
roads vos vorse than they are to-day, ah! a sight vorse, an' as for
'ighvaymen--Lord! they vos as thick as blackberries--blackberries? I
should say so! Theer vos footpads be'ind every 'edge--gangs of
'em--an' 'ighvaymen on every 'eath--"

"God bless my soul!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman, "so many?"

"Many?" snorted Mottle-face, "there vos armies of 'em. But my feyther,
as I think I mentioned afore, vere the bravest, boldest, best-plucked
coachman as ever sat on a box."

"I hope it runs in the family."

"Sir, I ain't one give to boastin', nor yet to blowin' my own 'orn,
but truth is truth, and--it do!"

"Good!" said the fussy gentleman, "very good!"

"Now the vorst of all these rogues vos a cove called Black Dan, a
thieving, murdering, desprit wagabone as vere ewcntually 'ung
sky-'igh on Pembury 'Ill--"

"Good!" said the fussy gentleman louder than before, "good! Glad of it!"

"An' yet," sighed Mottle-face, "'e 'ad a werry good 'eart--as
'ighvaymen's 'earts go; never shot nobody unless 'e couldn't help it,
an' ven 'e did, 'e allus made a werry neat job of it, an' polished
'em off nice an' qvick."

"Hum!" said the fussy gentleman, "still, I'm glad he's hanged."

"Black Dan used to vork the roads south o' London,

"Kent an' Surrey mostly, conseqvent it vere a long time afore 'im an'
my feyther met; but at last vun night, as my feyther vos driving
along--a good fifteen mile an hour, for it vere a uncommon fine night,
vith a moon, like as it might be now--"

"Ah?" said the fussy gentleman.

"An' presently 'e came to vere the road narrered a bit, same as it
might be yonder--"

"Ah!" murmured the fussy gentleman again.

"An' vith a clump o' trees beyond, nice, dark, shady trees--like it
might be them werry trees ahead of us--"

"Oh!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.

"An' as 'e come up nearer an' nearer, all at vunce 'e made out a
shadder in the shade o' them trees--"

"Dear me!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman uneasily, staring very hard
at the trees in front.

"A shadder as moved, although the leaves vos all dead still. So my
feyther--being a bold cove--reached down for 'is blunderbush--this
werry same old blunderbush as I 've got under the box at this
i-dentical minute, (though its trigger veren't broke then) but,
afore 'e can get it out, into the road leaps a man on a great black
'oss--like it might be dead ahead of us, a masked man, an' vith a
pistol in each fist as long as yer arm."

"Good Lord!" exclaimed the fussy gentleman.

"'Stand an' deliver!' roars the masked man, so my feyther, cocking
'is heye at the pistols, pulls up, an' there 'e is, starin' down at
the 'ighvayman, an' the 'ighvayman staring up at 'im. 'You 're
'Andsome 'Arry, ain't you?' sez the 'ighvayman. 'Ay,' sez my feyther,
'an' I guess you 're Black Dan.' 'Sure as you 're born!' sez Black
Dan, 'I've 'eered o' you before to-day, 'Andsome 'Arry,' sez 'e,
'an' meant to make your acquaintance afore this, but I 've been kep'
too busy till to-night,' sez 'e, 'but 'ere ve are at last,' 'e sez,
'an' now--vot d' ye think o' that?' sez 'e, an' pi'nts a pistol
under my feyther's werry nose. Now, as I think I 've 'inted afore,
my feyther vere a nat'rally bold, courage-ful cove, so 'e took a
look at the murderous vepping, an' nodded. 'It's a pistol, ain't it?'
sez 'e. 'Sure as you're settin' on that there box, it is,' sez Black
Dan, 'an' 'ere's another.' 'An' werry good veppings too,' sez my
feyther, 'but vot might you be vanting vith me, Black Dan?' 'First
of all, I vants you to come down off that box,' sez Black Dan. 'Oh?'
sez my feyther, cool as a coocumber. 'Ah!' sez Black Dan. 'Verefore
an' v'y?' enkvires my feyther, but Black Dan only vagged 'is
veppings in my feyther's face, an' grinned under 'is mask. 'I vants
you, so, 'Andsome 'Arry--come down!' sez 'e. Now I've told you as my
feyther vos the boldest--"

"Yes, yes," cried the fussy gentleman. "Well?"

"Vell, sir, my feyther stared at them murderous pistols, stared at
Black Dan, an' being the werry gamest an' bravest cove you ever see,
didn't 'esitate a second."

"Well," cried the fussy gentleman, "what did he do then?"

"Do, sir--v'y I'll tell you--my feyther--come down."

"Yes, yes," said the fussy gentleman, as Mottle-face paused.
"Go on, go on!"

"Go on v'ere, sir?"

"Go on with your story. What was the end of it?"

"V'y, that's the end on it."

"But it isn't; you haven't told us what happened after he got down.
What became of him after?"

"Took the 'Ring o' Bells,' out Islington vay, an' drank hisself to
death all quite nat'ral and reg'lar."

"But that's not the end of your story."

"It vere the end o' my feyther though--an' a werry good end it vere,
too."

Now here there ensued a silence, during which the fussy gentleman
stared fixedly at Mottle-face, who chirruped to the horses
solicitously, and turned a serene but owl-like eye up to the waning
moon.

"And pray," said the fussy gentleman at length, very red in the face,
and more indignant than ever, "pray what's all this to do with my
valise, I should like to know?"

"So should I," nodded Mottle-face--"ah, that I should."

"You--you told me," spluttered the fussy gentleman, in sudden wrath,
"that you were coming to my valise."

"An' so ve have," nodded Mottle-face, triumphantly. "Ve're at it now;
ve've been a-coming to that theer blessed walise ever since you
come aboard."

"Well, and what's to be done about it?" snapped the fussy gentleman.

"Vell," said Mottle-face, with another ponderous wink at Barnabas,
"if it troubles you much more, sir, if I vos you I should get a
werry strong rope, and a werry large stone, and tie 'em together
werry tight, an' drop that theer blessed walise into the river, and
get rid of it that way."

Hereupon the fussy gentleman uttered an inarticulate exclamation, and,
throwing himself back in his seat, tugged his hat over his eyes, and
was heard no more.

But Mottle-face, touching up the near leader with deft and delicate
play of wrist, or flicking the off wheeler, ever and anon gave vent
to sounds which, though somewhat muffled, on account of coat-collar
and shawl, were uncommonly like a chuckle. Yet if this were so or no,
Barnabas did not trouble to ascertain, for he was already in that
dreamy state 'twixt sleeping and waking, drowsily conscious of being
borne on through the summer night, past lonely cottage and farmhouse,
past fragrant ricks and barns, past wayside pools on whose still
waters stars seemed to float--on and ever on, rumbling over bridges,
clattering through sleeping hamlets and villages, up hill and down
hill, on and ever on toward London and the wonders thereof. But,
little by little, the chink and jingle of the harness, the rumble of
the wheels, the rhythmic beat of the sixteen hoofs, all became
merged into a drone that gradually softened to a drowsy murmur, and
Barnabas fell into a doze; yet only to be awakened, as it seemed to
him, a moment later by lights and voices, and to find that they were
changing horses once more. Whereupon Mottle-face, leaning over,
winked his owl-like eye, and spoke in a hoarse, penetrating whisper:

"Ten mile, sir, an' not a vord out o' old Walise so far!" saying
which he jerked his head towards the huddled form of the fussy
gentleman, winked again, and turned away to curse the hurrying
ostlers, albeit in a tone good-natured and jovial.

And so, betimes, off they went again, down hill and up, by rolling
meadow and winding stream, 'neath the leafy arches of motionless
trees, through a night profoundly still save for the noise of their
own going, the crow of a cock, or the bark of a dog from some
farmyard. The moon sank and was gone, but on went the London Mail
swirling through eddying mist that lay in every hollow like ghostly
pools. Gradually the stars paled to the dawn, for low down in the
east was a gray streak that grew ever broader, that changed to a
faint pink, deepening to rose, to crimson, to gold--an ever
brightening glory, till at last up rose the sun, at whose advent the
mists rolled away and vanished, and lo! day was born.

Yawning, Barnabas opened drowsy eyes, and saw that here and there
were houses in fair gardens, yet as they went the houses grew
thicker and the gardens more scant. And now Barnabas became aware of
a sound, soft with distance, that rose and fell--a never-ceasing
murmur; therefore, blinking drowsily at Mottle-face, he inquired
what this might be.

"That, sir, that's London, sir--cobble-stones, sir, cart-vheels, sir,
and--Lord love you!"--here Mottle-face leaned over and once more
winked his owl-like eye--"but 'e ain't mentioned the vord 'walise'
all night, sir--so 'elp me!" Having said which, Mottle-face vented a
throaty chuckle, and proceeded to touch up his horses.

And now as one in a dream, Barnabas is aware that they are threading
streets, broad streets and narrow, and all alive with great wagons
and country wains; on they go, past gloomy taverns, past churches
whose gilded weather-cocks glitter in the early sunbeams, past
crooked side-streets and dark alley-ways, and so, swinging suddenly
to the right, have pulled up at last in the yard of the "George."

It is a great inn with two galleries one above another and many
windows, and here, despite the early hour, a motley crowd is gathered.
Forthwith Barnabas climbs down, and edging his way through the throng,
presently finds Peterby at his elbow.

"Breakfast, sir?"

"Bed, Peterby."

"Very good--this way, sir."

Thereafter, though he scarcely knows how, he finds himself following
a trim-footed damsel, who, having shown him up a winding stair, worn
by the tread of countless travellers, brings him to a smallish,
dullish chamber, opening upon the lower gallery. Hereupon Barnabas
bids her "good night," but, blinking in the sunlight, gravely
changes it to "good morning." The trim-footed maid smiles, curtsies,
and vanishes, closing the door behind her.

Now upon the wall of the chamber, facing the bed, hangs the picture
of a gentleman in a military habit with an uncomfortably high stock.
He is an eagle-nosed gentleman with black whiskers, and a pair of
remarkably round wide-awake eyes, which stare at Barnabas as much as
to say--

"And who the devil are you, sir?"

Below him his name and titles are set forth fully and with many
flourishes, thus--

  LIEUTENANT-GENERAL THE RIGHT HONORABLE THE EARL OF POMFROY,
              K.G., K.T.S., etc., etc., etc.

So remarkably wide-awake is he, indeed, that it seems to drowsy
Barnabas as if these round eyes wait to catch him unawares and
follow him pertinaciously about the smallish, dullish chamber.
Nevertheless Barnabas yawns, and proceeds to undress, which done,
remembering he is in London, he takes purse and valuables and very
carefully sets them under his pillow, places Mr. Chichester's pistol
on the small table conveniently near, and gets into bed.

Yet now, sleepy though he is, he must needs turn to take another
look at the Honorable the Earl of Pomfroy, wonders idly what the
three "etc.'s" may mean, admires the glossy curl of his whiskers,
counts the medals and orders on his bulging breast, glances last of
all at his eyes, and immediately becomes aware that they are
curiously like those of the "White Lion" at Tenterden, in that they
are plying him with questions.

"Tall or short? dark or fair? Will she kiss you--next time, sir?
Will she even be glad to see you again, you presumptuous young
dog--will she--will she, confound you?"

"Ah!" sighed Barnabas. "Next time--I wonder!"

So saying, he sighed again, once, twice, and with the third fell
fast asleep, and dreamed that a certain White Lion, clad in a
Lieutenant-General's uniform, and with a pair of handsome black
whiskers, stood balancing himself upon a single claw on the rail of
the bed.



CHAPTER XXVI


CONCERNING THE DUTIES OF A VALET--AND A MAN

"And now, Peterby," said Barnabas, pushing his chair from the
breakfast table, "the first thing I shall require is--a tailor."

"Very true, sir."

"These clothes were good enough for the country, Peterby, but--"

"Exactly, sir!" answered Peterby, bowing.

"Hum!" said Barnabas, with a quick glance. "Though mark you," he
continued argumentatively,--"they might be worse, Peterby; the fit
is good, and the cloth is excellent. Yes, they might be a great deal
worse."

"It is--possible, sir," answered Peterby, with another bow. Hereupon,
having glanced at his solemn face, Barnabas rose, and surveyed
himself, as well as he might, in the tarnished mirror on the wall.

"Are they so bad as all that?" he inquired.

Peterby's mouth relaxed, and a twinkle dawned in his eye.

"As garments they are--serviceable, sir," said he, gravely,
"but as clothes they--don't exist."

"Why then," said Barnabas, "the sooner we get some that do,--the
better. Do you know of a good tailor?"

"I know them all, sir."

"Who is the best--the most expensive?"

"Stultz, sir, in Clifford Street; but I shouldn't advise you to
have him."

"And why not?"

"Because he _is_ a tailor."

"Oh?" said Barnabas.

"I mean that the clothes he makes are all stamped with his
individuality, as it were,--their very excellence damns them. They
are the clothes of a tailor instead of being simply a gentleman's
garments."

"Hum!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown at this, "it would seem
that dress can be a very profound subject, Peterby."

"Sir," answered Peterby, shaking his head, "it is a life study, and,
so far as I know, there are only two people in the world who
understand it aright; Beau Brummell was one, and, because he was the
Beau, had London and the World of Fashion at his feet."

"And who was the other?"

Peterby took himself by the chin, and, though his mouth was solemn,
the twinkle was back in his eye as he glanced at Barnabas.

"The other, sir," he answered, "was one who, until yesterday, was
reduced to the necessity of living upon poached rabbits."

Here Barnabas stared thoughtfully up at the ceiling.

"I remember you told me you were the best valet in the world,"
said he.

"It is my earnest desire to prove it, sir."

"And yet," said Barnabas, with his gaze still turned ceiling-wards,
"I would have you--even more than this, Peterby."

"More, sir?"

"I would have you, sometimes, forget that you are only 'the best
valet in the world,' and remember that you are--a man: one in whom I
can confide; one who has lived in this great world, and felt, and
suffered, and who can therefore advise me; one I may trust to in an
emergency; for London is a very big place, they tell me, and my
friends are few--or none--and--do you understand me, Peterby?"

"Sir," said Peterby in an altered tone, "I think I do."

"Then--sit down, John, and let us talk."

With a murmur of thanks Peterby drew up a chair and sat watching
Barnabas with his shrewd eyes.

"You will remember," began Barnabas, staring up at the ceiling again,
"that when I engaged you I told you that I intended to--hum! to--cut
a figure in the fashionable world?"

"Yes, sir; and I told you that,--after what happened in a certain
wood,--it was practically impossible."

"You mean because I thrashed a scoundrel?"

"I mean because you knocked down a friend of the Prince Regent."

"And is Carnaby so very powerful, Peterby?"

"Sir, he is--the Prince's friend! He is also as great a Buck as
George Hanger, as Jehu, or Jockey of Norfolk, and as famous, almost,
as the late Sir Maurice Vibart."

"Ah!" said Barnabas.

"And since the retirement of Mr. Brummell, he and the Marquis of
Jerningham have to some extent taken his place and become the
Arbiters of Fashion."

"Oh!" said Barnabas.

"And furthermore, sir, I would warn you that he is a dangerous enemy,
said to be one of the best pistol-shots in England."

"Hum," said Barnabas, "nevertheless, I mean to begin--"

"To begin, sir?"

"At once, Peterby."

"But--how, sir?"

"That is for you to decide, Peterby."

"Me, sir?"

"You, Peterby."

Here Peterby took himself by the chin again, and looked at Barnabas
with thoughtful eyes and gloomy brow.

"Sir," said he, "the World of Fashion is a trivial world where all
must appear trivial; it is a place where all must act a part, and
where those are most regarded who are most affected; it is a world
of shams and insincerity, and very jealously guarded."

"So I have heard," nodded Barnabas.

"To gain admission you must, first of all, have money."

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"Birth--if possible."

"Hum," said Barnabas.

"Wit and looks may be helpful, but all these are utterly useless
unless you have what I may call the magic key."

"And what is that?"

"Notoriety, sir."

"For what?"

"For anything that will serve to lift you out of the ruck--to set
you above the throng,--you must be one apart--an original."

"Originality is divine!" said Barnabas.

"More or less, sir," added Peterby, "for it is very easily achieved.
Lord Alvanly managed it with apricot tarts; Lord Petersham with
snuff-boxes; Mr. Mackinnon by his agility in climbing round
drawing-rooms on the furniture; Jockey of Norfolk by consuming a
vast number of beef-steaks, one after the other; Sir George Cassilis,
who was neither rich nor handsome nor witty, by being insolent; Sir
John Lade by dressing like a stagecoach-man, and driving like the
devil; Sir George Skeffington by inventing a new color and writing
bad plays; and I could name you many others beside--"

"Why then, Peterby--what of Sir Mortimer Carnaby?"

"He managed it by going into the ring with Jack Fearby, the 'Young
Ruffian,' and beating him in twenty-odd rounds for one thing, and
winning a cross-country race--"

"Ha!" exclaimed Barnabas, "a race!" and so he fell to staring up at
the ceiling again.

"But I fear, sir," continued Peterby, "that in making him your enemy,
you have damned your chances at the very outset, as I told you."

"A race!" said Barnabas again, vastly thoughtful.

"And therefore," added Peterby, leaning nearer in his earnestness,
"since you honor me by asking my advice, I would strive with all my
power to dissuade you."

"John Peterby--why?"

"Because, in the first place, I know it to be impossible."

"I begin to think not, John."

"Why, then, because--it's dangerous!"

"Danger is everywhere, more or less, John."

"And because, sir, because you--you--" Peterby rose, and stood with
bent head and hands outstretched, "because you gave a miserable
wretch another chance to live; and therefore I--I would not see you
crushed and humiliated. Ah, sir! I know this London, I know those
who make up the fashionable world. Sir, it is a heartless world,
cruel and shallow, where inexperience is made a mock of--generosity
laughed to scorn; where he is most respected who can shoot the
straightest; where men seldom stoop to quarrel, but where death is
frequent, none the less--and, sir, I could not bear--I--I wouldn't
have you cut off thus--!"

Peterby stopped suddenly, and his head sank lower; but as he stood
Barnabas rose, and coming to him, took his hand into his own firm
clasp.

"Thank you, John Peterby," said he. "You may be the best valet in
the world--I hope you are--but I know that you are a man, and, as a
man, I tell you that I have decided upon going on with the adventure."

"Then I cannot hope to dissuade you, sir?"

"No, John!"

"Indeed, I feared not."

"It was for this I came to London, and I begin--at once."

"Very good, sir."

"Consequently, you have a busy day before you; you see I shall
require, first of all, clothes, John; then--well, I suppose a house
to live in--"

"A--house, sir?"

"In a fashionable quarter, and furnished, if possible."

"A lodging, St. James's Street way, is less expensive, sir, and more
usual."

"Good!" said Barnabas; "to buy a house will be more original, at
least. Then there must be servants, horses--vehicles--but you will
understand--"

"Certainly, sir."

"Well then, John--go and get 'em."

"Sir?" exclaimed Peterby.

"Go now, John," said Barnabas, pulling out his purse, "this very
moment."

"But," stammered Peterby, "but, sir--you will--"

"I shall stay here--I don't intend to stir out until you have me
dressed as I should be--in 'clothes that exist,' John!"

"But you--don't mean to--to entrust--everything--to--me?"

"Of course, John."

"But sir--"

"I have every confidence in your judgment, you see. Here is money,
you will want more, of course, but this will do to go on with."

But Peterby only stared from Barnabas to the money on the table, and
back again.

"Sir," said he at last, "this is--a great deal of money."

"Well, John?"

"And I would remind you that we are in London, sir, and that
yesterday I--was a poacher--a man of no character--a--"

"But to-day you are my valet, John. So take the money and buy me
whatever I require, but a tailor first of all."

Then, as one in a dream, Peterby took up the money, counted it,
buttoned it into his pocket, and crossed to the door; but there he
paused and turned.

"Sir," said he slowly, "I'll bring you a man who, though he is
little known as yet, will be famous some day, for he is what I may
term an artist in cloth. And sir,"--here Peterby's voice grew
uncertain--"you shall find me worthy of your trust, so help me God!"
Then he opened the door, went out, and closed it softly behind him.
But as for Barnabas, he sat with his gaze fixed on the ceiling again,
lost in reverie and very silent. After a while he spoke his thoughts
aloud.

"A race!" said he.



CHAPTER XXVII


HOW BARNABAS BOUGHT AN UNRIDABLE HORSE--AND RODE IT

The coffee-room at the "George" is a longish, narrowish, dullish
chamber, with a row of windows that look out upon the yard,--but
upon this afternoon they looked at nothing in particular; and here
Barnabas found a waiter, a lonely wight who struck him as being very
like the room itself, in that he, also, was long, and narrow, and
dull, and looked out upon the yard at nothing in particular; and, as
he gazed, he sighed, and tapped thoughtfully at his chin with a
salt-spoon. As Barnabas entered, however, he laid down the spoon,
flicked an imaginary crumb from the table-cloth with his napkin, and
bowed.

"Dinner, sir?" he inquired in a dullish voice, and with his head set
engagingly to one side, while his sharp eyes surveyed Barnabas from
boots to waistcoat, from waistcoat to neckcloth, and stayed there
while he drew out his own shirt-frill with caressing fingers, and
coughed disapprobation into his napkin. "Did you say dinner, sir?"
he inquired again.

"Thank you, no," answered Barnabas.

"Perhaps cheese an' a biscuit might be nearer your mark, and say--a
half of porter?"

"I've only just had breakfast," said Barnabas, aware of the waiter's
scrutiny.

"Ah!" sighed the waiter, still caressing his shirt-frill, "you're
Number Four, I think--night coach?"

"Yes."

"From the country of course, sir?"

"Yes--from the country," said Barnabas, beginning to frown a little,
"but how in the world did you guess that?"

"From your 'toot example,' sir, as they say in France--from your
appearance, sir."

"You are evidently a very observant man!" said Barnabas.

"Well," answered the waiter, with his gaze still riveted upon the
neckcloth--indeed it seemed to fascinate him, "well, I can see as
far through a brick wall as most,--there ain't much as I miss, sir."

"Why, then," said Barnabas, "you may perhaps have noticed a door
behind you?"

The waiter stared from the neckcloth to the door and back again, and
scratched his chin dubiously.

"Door, sir--yessir!"

"Then suppose you go out of that door, and bring me pens, and ink,
and paper."

"Yessir!"

"Also the latest newspapers."

"Yessir--certainly, sir;" and with another slight, though eloquent
cough into his napkin, he started off upon his errand. Hereupon, as
soon as he was alone, Barnabas must needs glance down at that
offending neckcloth, and his frown grew the blacker.

"Now, I wonder how long Peterby will be?" he said to himself. But
here came the creak of the waiter's boots, and that observant person
reappeared, bearing the various articles which he named in turn as
he set them on the table.

"A bottle of ink, sir; pens and writing-paper, sir; and the Gazette."

"Thank you," said Barnabas, very conscious of his neckcloth still.

"And now, sir," here the waiter coughed into his napkin again,
"now--what will you drink, sir; shall we say port, or shall we make
it sherry?"

"Neither," said Barnabas.

"Why, then, we 'ave some rare old burgundy, sir--'ighly esteemed by
connysoors and (cough again) other--gentlemen."

"No, thank you."

"On the other 'and--to suit 'umbler tastes, we 'ave,"--here the
waiter closed his eyes, sighed, and shook his head--"ale, sir,
likewise beer, small and otherwise."

"Nothing, thank you," said Barnabas; "and you will observe the door
is still where it was."

"Door, sir, yessir--oh, certainly, sir!" said he, and stalked out of
the room.

Then Barnabas set a sheet of paper before him, selected a pen, and
began to write as follows:--

  George Inn,
  Borough.
  June 2, 18--.

  To VISCOUNT DEVENHAM,

  MY DEAR DICK,--I did not think to be asking favors
  of you so soon, but--(here a blot).

"Confound it!" exclaimed Barnabas, and taking out his penknife he
began to mend the spluttering quill. But, in the midst of this
operation, chancing to glance out of the window, he espied a
long-legged gentleman with a remarkably fierce pair of whiskers; he
wore a coat of ultra-fashionable cut, and stood with his booted legs
wide apart, staring up at the inn from under a curly-brimmed hat.
But the hat had evidently seen better days, the coat was frayed at
seam and elbow, and the boots lacked polish; yet these small
blemishes were more than offset by his general dashing, knowing air,
and the untamable ferocity of his whiskers. As Barnabas watched him,
he drew a letter from the interior of his shabby coat, unfolded it
with a prodigious flourish, and began to con it over. Now, all at
once, Barnabas dropped knife and pen, thrust a hand into his own
breast and took thence a letter also, at sight of which he
straightway forgot the bewhiskered gentleman; for what he read was
this:--

  Dearest and Best of Sisters,--Never, in all this
  world was there such an unfortunate, luckless dog as I--were
  it not for your unfailing love I should have
  made an end of it all, before now.

  I write this letter to beg and implore you to grant
  me another interview, anywhere and at any time you may
  name. Of course you will think it is more money I want--so
  I do; I'm always in need of it, and begin to fear
  I always shall be. But my reasons for wishing this meeting
  are much more than this--indeed, _most urgent_!
  (this underlined). I am threatened by a GRAVE DANGER
  (this doubly underlined). I am at my wit's end, and
  only you can save me, Cleone--you and you only.
  Chichester has been more than kind, _indeed, a true friend
  to me_! (this also underlined). I would that you could
  feel kinder towards him.

  This letter must reach you where none of your
  guardian's spies can intercept it; your precious Captain
  has always hated me, damn him! (this scratched out).
  Oh, shame that he, a stranger, should ever have been
  allowed to come between brother and sister. I shall
  journey down to Hawkhurst to see you and shall stay
  about until you can contrive to meet me. Chichester
  may accompany me, and if he should, try to be kinder
  to your brother's only remaining friend. How different
  are our situations! you surrounded by every luxury,
  while I--yet heaven forbid I should forget my manhood
  and fill this letter with my woes. But if you ever loved
  your unfortunate brother, do not fail him in this, Cleone.

  Your loving, but desperate,

  RONALD BARRYMAINE.

Having read this effusion twice over, and very carefully, Barnabas
was yet staring at the last line with its scrawling signature, all
unnecessary curls and flourishes, when he heard a slight sound in
the adjacent box, and turning sharply, was just in time to see the
top of a hat ere it vanished behind the curtain above the partition.

Therefore he sat very still, waiting. And lo! after the lapse of
half a minute, or thereabouts, it reappeared, slowly and by
degrees--a beaver hat, something the worse for wear. Slowly it rose
up over the curtain--the dusty crown, the frayed band, the curly brim,
and eventually a pair of bold, black eyes that grew suddenly very
wide as they met the unwinking gaze of Barnabas. Hereupon the lips,
as yet unseen, vented a deep sigh, and, thereafter, uttered these
words:

"The same, and yet, curse me, the nose!--y-e-s, the nose seems, on
closer inspection, a trifle too aquiline, perhaps; and the
chin--y-e-s, decidedly a thought too long! And yet--!" Here another
sigh, and the face rising into full view, Barnabas recognized the
bewhiskered gentleman he had noticed in the yard.

"Sir," continued the stranger, removing the curly-brimmed hat with a
flourish, and bowing over the partition as well as he could,
"you don't happen to be a sailor--Royal Navy, do you?"

"No, sir," answered Barnabas.

"And your name don't happen to be Smivvle, does it?"

"No, sir," said Barnabas again.

"And yet," sighed the bewhiskered gentleman, regarding him with
half-closed eyes, and with his head very much on one side, "in spite
of your nose, and in spite of your chin, you are the counterpart, sir,
the facsimile--I might say the breathing image of a--ha!--of a
nephew of mine; noble youth, handsome as Adonis--Royal Navy--regular
Apollo; went to sea, sir, years ago; never heard of more; tragic,
sir--devilish tragic, on my soul and honor."

"Very!" said Barnabas; "but--"

"Saw you from the yard, sir, immediately struck by close resemblance;
flew here, borne on the wings of hope, sir; you 're quite sure your
name ain't Smivvle, are you?"

"Quite sure."

"Ah, well--mine is; Digby Smivvle, familiarly known as 'Dig,' at
your service, sir. Stranger to London, sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"Ha! Bad place, London, sink of iniquity! Full of rogues, rascals,
damn scoundrels,--by heaven, sharks, sir! confounded cannibals, by
George!--eat you alive. Stranger myself, sir; just up from my little
place in Worcestershire--King's Heath,--know it, perhaps? No?
Charming village! rural, quiet; mossy trees, sir; winding brooks,
larks and cuckoos carolling all day long. Sir, there has been a
Smivvle at the Hall since before the Conquest! Fine old place, the
Hall; ancient, sir, hoary and historic--though devilish draughty,
upon my soul and honor!"

Here, finding that he still held the open letter in his hand,
Barnabas refolded it and thrust it into his pocket, while Mr. Smivvle
smilingly caressed his whiskers, and his bold, black eyes darted
glances here and there, from Barnabas mending his pen to the table,
from the table to the walls, to the ceiling, and from that altitude
they dropped to the table again, and hovered there.

"Sir," said Barnabas without looking up, "pray excuse the blot, the
pen was a bad one; I am making another, as you see."

Mr. Smivvle started, and raised his eyes swiftly. Stared at
unconscious Barnabas, rubbed his nose, felt for his whisker, and,
having found it, tugged it viciously.

"Blot, sir!" he exclaimed loudly; "now, upon my soul and honor--what
blot, sir?"

"This," said Barnabas, taking up his unfinished letter to the
Viscount--"if you've finished, we may as well destroy it," and
forthwith he crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it into the empty
fireplace.

"Sir!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, louder than before, "'pon my soul, now,
if you mean to insinuate--" Here he paused, staring at Barnabas, and
with his whiskers fiercer than ever.

"Well, sir?" inquired Barnabas, still busily trimming his quill.

Mr. Smivvle frowned; but finding Barnabas was quite unconscious of it,
shook his head, felt for his whisker again, found it, tugged it, and
laughed jovially.

"Sir," said he, "you are a devilish sharp fellow, and a fine fellow.
I swear you are. I like your spirit, on my soul and honor I do, and,
as for blots, I vow to you I never write a letter myself that I
don't smear most damnably--curse me if I don't. That blot, sir,
shall be another bond between us, for I have conceived a great
regard for you. The astounding likeness between you and one who--was
snatched away in the flower of his youth--draws me, sir, draws me
most damnably; for I have a heart, sir, a heart--why should I
disguise it?" Here Mr. Smivvle tapped the third left-hand button of
his coat. "And so long as that organ continues its functions, you
may count Digby Smivvle your friend, and at his little place in
Worcestershire he will be proud to show you the hospitality _of_ a
Smivvle. Meanwhile, sir, seeing we are both strangers in a strange
place, supposing we--join forces and, if you are up for the race, I
propose--"

"The race!" exclaimed Barnabas, looking up suddenly.

"Yes, sir, devilish swell affair, with gentlemen to ride, and
Royalty to look on--a race of races! London's agog with it, all the
clubs discuss it, coffee houses ring with it, inns and taverns
clamor with it--soul and honor, betting--everywhere. The odds
slightly favor Sir Mortimer Carnaby's 'Clasher'; but Viscount
Devenham's 'Moonraker' is well up. Then there's Captain Slingsby's
'Rascal,' Mr. Tressider's 'Pilot,' Lord Jerningham's 'Clinker,' and
five or six others. But, as I tell you, 'Clasher' and 'Moonraker'
carry the money, though many knowing ones are sweet on the 'Rascal.'
But, surely, you must have heard of the great steeplechase? Devilish
ugly course, they tell me."

"The Viscount spoke of it, I remember," said Barnabas, absently.

"Viscount, sir--not--Viscount Devenham?"

"Yes."

Here Mr. Smivvle whistled softly, took off the curly-brimmed hat,
looked at it, and put it on again at a more rakish angle than ever.

"Didn't happen to mention my name, did he--Smivvle, sir?"

"No."

"Nor Dig, perhaps?"

"No, sir."

"Remarkable--hum!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, shaking his head;
"but I'm ready to lay you odds that he _did_ speak of my friend Barry.
I may say my bosom companion--a Mr. Ronald Barrymaine, sir."

"Ronald Barrymaine," repeated Barnabas, trying the new point of his
pen upon his thumb-nail, yet conscious of the speaker's keen glance,
none the less. "No, he did not."

"Astounding!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle.

"Why so?"

"Because my friend Barrymaine was particularly intimate with his
Lordship, before he fell among the Jews, dammem! My friend Barry, sir,
was a dasher, by George! a regular red-hot tearer, by heaven! a Go,
sir, a Tippy, a bang up Blood, and would be still if it were not for
the Jews--curse 'em!"

"And is Mr. Barrymaine still a friend of yours?"

At this Mr. Smivvle took off his hat again, clapped it to his bosom,
and bowed.

"Sir," said he, "for weal or woe, in shadow or shine, the hand of a
Smivvle, once given, is given for good."

As he spoke, Mr. Smivvle stretched out the member in question, which
Barnabas observed was none too clean.

"The hand of a Smivvle, sir," pursued that gentleman, "the hand of a
Smivvle is never withdrawn either on account of adversity, plague,
poverty, pestilence, or Jews--dammem! As for my friend Barrymaine;
but, perhaps, you are acquainted with him, sir."

"No," answered Barnabas.

"Ah! a noble fellow, sir! Heroic youth, blood, birth, and breeding
to his finger-tips, sir. But he is, above all else, a brother to
a--a sister, sir. Ah! what a creature! Fair, sir? fair as the
immortal Helena! Proud, sir? proud as an arch-duchess! Handsome, sir?
handsome, sir, as--as--oh, dammit, words fail me; but go, sir, go
and ransack Olympus, and you couldn't match her, 'pon my soul! Diana,
sir? Diana was a frump! Venus? Venus was a dowdy hoyden, by George!
and as for the ox-eyed Juno, she was a positive cow to this young
beauty! And then--her heart, sir!"

"Well, what of it?" inquired Barnabas, rather sharply.

"Utterly devoted--beats only for my friend--"

"You mean her brother?"

"I mean her brother, yes, sir; though I have heard a rumor that
Sir Mortimer Carnaby--"

"Pooh!" said Barnabas.

"With pleasure, sir; but the fact remains that it was partly on his
account, and partly because of another, that she was dragged away
from London--"

"What other?"

"Well, let us say--H.R.H."

"Sir," inquired Barnabas, frowning, "do you mean the Prince?"

"Sir," said Mr. Smivvle, with a smiling shake of the head, "I prefer
the letters H.R.H. Anyhow, there were many rumors afloat at the time,
and her guardian--a regular, tarry old sea dog, by George--drags her
away from her brother's side, and buries her in the country, like
the one-armed old pirate he is, eye to her money they tell me;
regular old skinflint; bad as a Jew--damn him! But speaking of the
race, sir, do you happen to--know anything?"

"I know that it is to be run on the fifteenth of July," said
Barnabas abstractedly.

"Oh, very good!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle--"ha! ha!--excellent! knows
it is to be run on the fifteenth; very facetious, curse me! But,
joking apart, sir, have you any private knowledge? The Viscount, now,
did he happen to tell you anything that--"

But, at this juncture, they were interrupted by a sudden tumult in
the yard outside, a hubbub of shouts, the ring and stamp of hoofs,
and, thereafter, a solitary voice upraised in oaths and curses.
Barnabas sprang to his feet, and hurrying out into the yard, beheld
a powerful black horse that reared and plunged in the grip of two
struggling grooms; in an adjacent corner was the late rider, who sat
upon a pile of stable-sweepings and swore, while, near by, perched
precariously upon an upturned bucket, his slim legs stretched out
before him, was a young exquisite--a Corinthian from top to toe--who
rocked with laughter, yet was careful to keep his head rigid, so as
to avoid crushing his cravat, a thing of wonder which immediately
arrested the attention of Barnabas, because of its prodigious height,
and the artful arrangement of its voluminous folds.

"Oh, dooce take me," he exclaimed in a faint voice, clapping a hand
to his side, "I'll be shot if I saw anything neater, no, not even at
Sadler's Wells! Captain Slingsby of the Guards in his famous double
somersault! Oh, damme, Sling! I'd give a hundred guineas to see you
do it again--I would, dooce take me!"

But Captain Slingsby continued to shake his fist at the great, black
horse, and to swear with unabated fervor.

"You black devil!" he exclaimed, "you four-legged imp of Satan! So,
you're up to your tricks again, are you? Well, this is the last
chance you shall have to break my neck, b'gad! I'm done with you
for a--"

Here the Captain became extremely fluent, and redder of face than
ever, as he poured forth a minute description of the animal; he
cursed him from muzzle to crupper and back again; he damned his eyes,
he damned his legs, individually and collectively, and reviled him,
through sire and dam, back to the Flood.

Meanwhile Barnabas turned from raging Two-legs to superbly wrathful
Four-legs; viewed him from sweeping tail to lofty crest; observed
his rolling eye and quivering nostril; took careful heed of his
broad chest, slender legs, and powerful, sloping haunches with keen,
appraising eyes, that were the eyes of knowledge and immediate desire.
And so, from disdainful Four-legs he turned back to ruffled Two-legs,
who, having pretty well sworn himself out by this time, rose
gingerly to his feet, felt an elbow with gentle inquiry, tenderly
rubbed a muddied knee, and limped out from the corner.

Now, standing somewhat apart, was a broad-shouldered man, a
rough-looking customer in threadbare clothes, whose dusty boots
spoke of travel. He was an elderly man, for the hair, beneath the
battered hat, was gray, and he leaned wearily upon a short stick.
Very still he stood, and Barnabas noticed that he kept his gaze bent
ever upon the horse; nor did he look away even when the Captain
began to speak again.

"B'gad!" exclaimed the Captain, "I'll sell the brute to the highest
bidder. You, Jerningham, you seem devilish amused, b'gad! If you
think you can back him he's yours for what you like. Come, what's
the word?"

"Emphatically no, my dear, good Sling," laughed the young Corinthian,
shaking his curly head. "I don't mean to risk this most precious
neck of mine until the fifteenth, dear fellow, dooce take me if I do!"

"Why then, b'gad! I'll sell him to any one fool enough to bid. Come
now," cried the Captain, glancing round the yard, "who'll buy him?
B'gad! who'll give ten pounds for an accursed brute that nobody can
possibly ride?"

"I will!" said Barnabas.

"Fifteen, sir!" cried the shabby man on the instant, with his gaze
still on the horse.

"Twenty!" said Barnabas, like an echo.

"Twenty-five, sir!" retorted the shabby man.

"Hey?" cried the Captain, staring from one to the other. "What's all
this? B'gad! I say stop a bit--wait a minute! Bob, lend me your
bucket."

Hereupon the Corinthian obligingly vacating that article. Captain
Slingsby incontinent stood upon it, and from that altitude began to
harangue the yard, flourishing his whip after the manner of an
auctioneer's hammer.

"Now here you are, gentlemen!" he cried. "I offer you a devilishly
ugly, damnably vicious brute, b'gad! I offer you a four-legged demon,
an accursed beast that nobody can ever hope to ride--a regular terror,
curse me! Killed one groom already, will probably kill another. Now,
what is your price for this lady's pet? Look him over and bid
accordingly."

"Twenty-five pound, sir," said the shabby man.

"Thirty!" said Barnabas.

"Thirty-one, sir."

"Fifty!" said Barnabas.

"Fifty!" cried the Captain, flourishing his whip. "Fifty pounds from
the gentleman in the neckcloth--fifty's the figure. Any more? Any
advance on fifty? What, all done! Won't any one go another pound for
a beast fit only for the knacker's yard? Oh, Gad, gentlemen, why
this reticence? Are you all done?"

"I can't go no higher, sir," said the shabby man, shaking his gray
head sadly.

"Then going at fifty--at fifty! Going! Going! Gone, b'gad! Sold to
the knowing young cove in the neckcloth."

Now, at the repetition of this word, Barnabas began to frown.

"And b'gad!" exclaimed the Captain, stepping down from the bucket,
"a devilish bad bargain he's got, too."

"That, sir, remains to be seen," said Barnabas, shortly.

"Why, what do you mean to do with the brute?"

"Ride him."

"Do you, b'gad?"

"I do."

"Lay you ten guineas you don't sit him ten minutes."

"Done!" said Barnabas, buttoning up his coat.

But now, glancing round, he saw that the shabby man had turned away,
and was trudging heavily out of the yard, therefore Barnabas
hastened after him, and touched him upon the arm.

"I'm sorry you were disappointed," said he.

"Is it about the 'oss you mean, sir?" inquired the shabby man,
touching his hat.

"Yes."

"Why, it do come a bit 'ard-like to ha' lost 'im, sir, arter waiting
my chance so long. But fifty guineas be a sight o' money to a chap
as be out of a job, though 'e's dirt-cheap at the price. There ain't
many 'osses like 'im, sir."

"That was why I should have bought him at ten times the price," said
Barnabas.

The man took off his hat, ran his stubby fingers through his
grizzled hair, and stared hard at Barnabas.

"Sir," said he, "even at that you couldn't ha' done wrong. He ain't
a kind 'oss--never 'aving been understood, d' ye see; but take my
word for it, 'e's a wonder, that 'oss!"

"You know him, perhaps?"

"Since 'e were foaled, sir. I was stud-groom; but folks think I'm
too old for the job, d' ye see, sir?"

"Do you think he 'd remember you?"

"Ay, that 'e would!"

"Do you suppose--look at him!--do you suppose you could hold him
quieter than those ostlers?"

"'Old 'im, sir!" exclaimed the man, throwing back his shoulders.
"'Old 'im--ah, that I could! Try me!"

"I will," said Barnabas. "How would forty shillings a week suit you?"

"Sir?" exclaimed the old groom, staring.

"Since you need a job, and I need a groom, I'll have you--if you're
willing."

The man's square jaw relaxed, his eyes glistened; then all at once
he shook his head and sighed.

"Ah! sir," said he, "ah! young sir, my 'air's gray, an' I'm not so
spry as I was--nobody wants a man as old as I be, and, seeing as
you've got the 'oss, you ain't got no call to make game o' me, young
sir. You 've got--the 'oss!"

Now at this particular moment Captain Slingsby took it into his head
to interrupt them, which he did in characteristic fashion.

"Hallo!--hi there!" he shouted, flourishing his whip.

"But I'm not making game of you," said Barnabas, utterly unconscious
of the Captain, at least his glance never wavered from the eager
face of the old groom.

"Hallo, there!" roared the Captain, louder than ever.

"And to prove it," Barnabas continued, "here is a guinea in advance,"
and he slipped the coin into the old groom's lax hand.

"Oh, b'gad," cried the Captain, hoarsely, "don't you hear me, you
over there? Hi! you in the neckcloth!"

"Sir," said Barnabas, turning sharply and frowning again at the
repetition of the word, "if you are pleased to allude to me, I would
humbly inform you that my name is Beverley."

"Oh!" exclaimed the Captain, "I see--young Beverley, son of old
Beverley--and a devilish good name too!"

"Sir, I'm vastly relieved to hear you say so," retorted Barnabas,
with a profound obeisance. Then taking out his purse, he beckoned
his new groom to approach.

"What is your name?" he inquired, as he counted out a certain sum.

"Gabriel Martin, sir."

"Then, Martin, pray give the fellow his money."

"Sir?"

"I mean the red-faced man in the dirty jacket, Martin," added
Barnabas.

The old groom hesitated, glanced from the Captain's scowling brow to
the smiling lips of Barnabas.

"Very good, sir," said he, touching his shabby hat, and taking the
money Barnabas held out, he tendered it to the Captain, who, redder
of face than ever, took it, stared from it to Barnabas, and whistled.

"Now, damme!" he exclaimed, "damme, if I don't believe the fellow
means to be offensive!"

"If so, sir, the desire would seem to be mutual!" returned Barnabas.

"Yes, b'gad! I really believe he means to be offensive!" repeated
the Captain, nodding as he pocketed the money.

"Of that you are the best judge, sir," Barnabas retorted. Captain
Slingsby whistled again, frowned, and tossing aside his whip,
proceeded to button up his coat.

"Why then," said he, "we must trouble this offensive person to
apologize or--or put 'em up, begad!"

But hereupon the young Corinthian (who had been watching them
languidly through the glass he carried at the end of a broad ribbon)
stepped forward, though languidly, and laid a white and languid hand
upon the Captain's arm.

"No, no, Sling," said he in a die-away voice, "he's a doocid fine
'bit of stuff'--look at those shoulders! and quick on his
pins--remark those legs! No, no, my dear fellow, remember your knee,
you hurt it, you know--fell on it when you were thrown,--must be
doocid painful! Must let me take your place. Shall insist! Pleasure's
all mine, 'sure you."

"Never, Jerningham!" fumed the Captain, "not to be thought of, my
dear Bob--no begad, he's mine; why you heard him, he--he positively
called me a--a fellow!"

"So you are, Sling," murmured the Corinthian, surveying Barnabas
with an approving eye, "dev'lish dashing fellow, an 'out-and-outer'
with the 'ribbons'--fiddle it with any one, by George, but no good
with your mauleys, damme if you are! Besides, there's your knee, you
know--don't forget your knee--"

"Curse my knee!"

"Certainly, dear fellow, but--"

"My knee's sound enough to teach this countryman manners, b'gad; you
heard him say my coat was filthy?"

"So it is, Sling, my boy, devilish dirty! So are your knees--look at
'em! But if you will dismount head over heels into a muck-heap, my
dear fellow, what the dooce can you expect?" The Captain merely swore.

"Doocid annoying, of course," his friend continued, "I mean your knee,
you know, you can hardly walk, and this country fellow looks a
regular, bang up milling cove. Let me have a try at him, do now.
Have a little thought for others, and don't be so infernally selfish,
Sling, my boy."

As he spoke, the Corinthian took off his hat, which he forced into
the Captain's unwilling grasp, drew off his very tight-fitting coat,
which he tossed over the Captain's unwilling arm, and, rolling back
his snowy shirt-sleeves, turned to Barnabas with shining eyes and
smiling lips.

"Sir," said he, "seeing my friend's knee is not quite all it should
be, perhaps you will permit me to take his place, pleasure's
entirely mine, 'sure you. Shall we have it here, or would you prefer
the stables--more comfortable, perhaps--stables?"

Now while Barnabas hesitated, somewhat taken aback by this
unlooked-for turn of events, as luck would have it, there came a
diversion. A high, yellow-wheeled curricle swung suddenly into the
yard, and its two foam-spattered bays were pulled up in masterly
fashion, but within a yard of the great, black horse, which
immediately began to rear and plunge again; whereupon the bays began
to snort, and dance, and tremble (like the thoroughbreds they were),
and all was uproar and confusion; in the midst of which, down from
the rumble of the dusty curricle dropped a dusty and remarkably
diminutive groom, who, running to the leader's head, sprang up and,
grasping the bridle, hung there manfully, rebuking the animal,
meanwhile, in a voice astonishingly hoarse and gruff for one of his
tender years.

"Dooce take me," exclaimed the Corinthian, feeling for his eye-glass,
"it's Devenham!"

"Why, Dicky!" cried the Captain, "where have you sprung from?" and,
forgetful of Barnabas, they hurried forward to greet the Viscount,
who, having beaten some of the dust from his driving coat, sprang
down from his high seat and shook hands cordially.

Then, finding himself unnoticed, Barnabas carefully loosed his
neckerchief, and drew out the ends so that they dangled in full view.

"I've been rusticating with my 'Roman,'" the Viscount was proceeding
to explain, keeping his eye upon his horses, "but found him more
Roman than usual--Gad, I did that! Have 'em well rubbed down, Milo,"
he broke off suddenly, as the bays were led off to the stables,
"half a bucket of water apiece, no more, mind, and--say, a dash of
brandy!"

"Werry good, m'lud!" This from Milo of Crotona, portentous of brow
and stern of eye, as he overlooked the ostlers who were busily
unbuckling straps and traces.

"My 'Roman,' as I say," continued the Viscount, "was rather more so
than usual, actually wanted me to give up the Race! After that of
course I had to be firm with him, and we had a slight--ah,
misunderstanding in consequence--fathers, as a rule, are so
infernally parental and inconsiderate! Met Carnaby on the road, raced
him for a hundred; ding-dong all the way, wheel and wheel to Bromley,
though he nearly ditched me twice, confound him! Coming down Mason's
Hill I gave him my dust, up the rise he drew level again. 'Ease up
for the town, Carnaby,' says I, 'Be damned if I do!' says he, so at
it we went, full tilt. Gad! to see the folk jump! Carnaby drove like
a devil, had the lead to Southend, but, mark you, his whip was going!
At Catford we were level again. At Lewisham I took the lead and kept
it, and the last I saw of him he was cursing and lashing away at his
cattle, like a brute. Carnaby's a devilish bad loser, I've noticed,
and here I am. And oh! by the way--he's got a devil of an eye, and a
split lip. Says he fell out of his curricle, but looks as though
some one had--thrashed him."

"But my very dear fellow!" exclaimed the Corinthian, "thrash Carnaby?
pooh!"

"Never in the world!" added the Captain.

"Hum!" said the Viscount, feeling a tender part of his own ribs
thoughtfully, "ha! But, hallo, Jerningham! have you been at it too?
Why are you buffed?" And he nodded to the Corinthian's bare arms.

"Oh, dooce take me, I forgot!" exclaimed the Marquis, looking about;
"queer cove, doocid touchy, looks as if he might fib though. Ah,
there he is! talking to the rough-looking customer over yonder;" and
he pointed to Barnabas, who stood with his coat thrown open, and the
objectionable neckcloth in full evidence. The Viscount looked,
started, uttered a "view hallo," and, striding forward, caught
Barnabas by the hand.

"Why, Bev, my dear fellow, this is lucky!" he exclaimed. Now
Barnabas was quick to catch the glad ring in the Viscount's voice,
and to notice that the neckcloth was entirely lost upon him,
therefore he smiled as he returned the Viscount's hearty grip.

"When did you get here? what are you doing? and what the deuce is
the trouble between you and Jerningham?" inquired the Viscount all
in a breath. But before Barnabas could answer, the great, black horse,
tired of comparative inaction, began again to snort and rear, and
jerk his proud head viciously, whereupon the two ostlers fell to
swearing, and the Viscount's bays at the other end of the yard to
capering, and the Viscount's small groom to anathematizing, all in a
moment.

"Slingsby!" cried his Lordship, "look to that black demon of yours!"

"He is no concern of mine, Devenham," replied the Captain airily,
"sold him, b'gad!"

"And I bought him," added Barnabas.

"You did?" the Viscount exclaimed, "in heaven's name, what for?"

"To ride--"

"Eh? my dear fellow!"

"I should like to try him for the race on the fifteenth, if it could
be managed, Dick."

"The race!" exclaimed the Viscount, staring.

"I 've been wondering if you could--get me entered for it," Barnabas
went on, rather diffidently, "I'd give anything for the chance."

"What--with that brute! my dear fellow, are you mad?"

"No, Dick."

"But he's unmanageable, Bev; he's full of vice--a killer--look at
him now!"

And indeed at this moment, as if to bear out this character, up went
the great, black head again, eyes rolling, teeth gleaming, and ears
laid back.

"I tell you, Bev, no one could ride that devil!" the Viscount
repeated.

"But," said Barnabas, "I've bet your friend Captain Slingsby that I
could."

"It would be madness!" exclaimed the Viscount. "Ha! look out!
There--I told you so!" For in that moment the powerful animal reared
suddenly--broke from the grip of one ostler, and swinging the other
aside, stood free, and all was confusion. With a warning shout, the
old groom sprang to his head, but Barnabas was beside him, had
caught the hanging reins, and swung himself into the saddle.

"I've got him, sir," cried Martin, "find yer stirrups!"

"Your stick," said Barnabas, "quick, man! Now--let go!"

For a moment the horse stood rigid, then reared again, up and
up--his teeth bared, his forefeet lashing; but down came the heavy
stick between the flattened ears, once--twice, and brought him to
earth again.

And now began a struggle between the man and the brute--each young,
each indomitable, for neither had as yet been mastered, and
therefore each was alike disdainful of the other. The head of the
horse was high and proud, his round hoofs spurned the earth beneath,
fire was in his eye, rage in his heart--rage and scorn of this
presumptuous Two-legs who sought to pit his puny strength against
his own quivering, four-legged might. Therefore he mocked Two-legs,
scorned and contemned him, laughed ha! ha! (like his long-dead
ancestor among the Psalmist's trumpets) and gathered himself
together--eager for the battle.

But the eyes of Barnabas were wide and bright, his lips were curved,
his jaw salient--his knees gripped tight, and his grasp was strong
and sure upon the reins.

And now Four-legs, having voiced his defiance, tossed his crest on
high, then plunged giddily forward, was checked amid a whirlwind of
lashing hoofs, rose on his hind legs higher and higher, swinging
giddily round and round, felt a stunning blow, staggered, and
dropping on all fours, stove in the stable door with a fling of his
hind hoofs. But the eyes of Barnabas were glowing, his lips still
curved, and his grip upon the reins was more masterful. And, feeling
all this, Four-legs, foaming with rage, his nostrils flaring, turned
upon his foe with snapping teeth, found him out of reach, and so
sought to play off an old trick that had served him more than once;
he would smash his rider's leg against a post or wall, or brush him
off altogether and get rid of him that way. But lo! even as he leapt
in fulfilment of this manoeuvre, his head was wrenched round,
further and further, until he must perforce, stop--until he was
glaring up into the face above, the face of his bitter foe, with its
smiling mouth, its glowing eye, its serene brow.

"Time's up!" cried the Captain, suddenly; "b'gad, sir, you win the
bet!" But Barnabas scarcely heard.

"You've done it--you win; eleven and a half minutes, b'gad!" roared
the Captain again--"don't you hear, sir?--come off, before he breaks
your neck!"

But Barnabas only shook his head, and, dropping the stick, leaned
over and laid his hand upon that proud, defiant crest, a hand grown
suddenly gentle, and drew it down caressingly from ear to quivering
nostril, once, twice, and spoke words in a soft tone, and so,
loosed the cruel grip upon the rein, and sat back--waiting. But
Four-legs had become thoughtful; true, he still tossed his head
and pawed an impatient hoof, but that was merely for the sake of
appearances--Four-legs was thoughtful. No one had ever touched him so,
before--indeed blows had latterly been his portion--but this
Two-legs was different from his kind, besides, he had a pleasing
voice--a voice to soothe ragged nerves--there it was again! And then
surely, the touch of this hand awoke dim memories, reminded him of
far-off times when two-legged creatures had feared him less; and
there was the hand again! After all, things might be worse--the hand
that could be so gentle could be strong also; his mouth was sore yet,
and a strong man, strong-handed and gentle of voice, was better
than--oh, well!

Whether of all this, or any part of it, the great, black horse was
really thinking, who shall say? Howbeit Barnabas presently turned in
his saddle and beckoned the old groom to his stirrup.

"He'll be quiet now, I think," said he.

"Ah! that he will, sir. You've larned the trick o' voice an'
hand--it ain't many as has it--must be born in a man, I reckon, an'
'tis that as does more nor all your whips and spurs, an' curb-bits,
sir. 'E'll be a babe wi' you arter this, sir, an' I'm thinkin' as
you won't be wantin' me now, maybe? I ain't young enough nor smart
enough, d' ye see."

Here Barnabas dismounted, and gave the reins into the old groom's
eager hand.

"I shan't be wanting him for--probably three or four days, Gabriel,
until then--look after him, exercise him regularly, for I'm hoping
to do great things with him, soon, Gabriel, perhaps." And so
Barnabas smiled, and as Martin led the horse to the stables, turned
to find the young Corinthian at his elbow; he had resumed hat and
coat, and now regarded Barnabas as smiling and imperturbable as ever.

"Sir," said he, "I congratulate you heartily. Sir, any friend of
Viscount Devenham is also mine, I trust; and I know your name,
and--hem!--I swear Slingsby does! Beverley, I think--hem!--son of
old Beverley, and a devilish good name too! Eh, Sling my boy?"

Hereupon the Captain limped forward, if possible redder of face than
ever, very much like a large schoolboy in fault.

"Sir," he began, "b'gad--!" here he paused to clear his throat
loudly once or twice--"a devil incarnate! Fourteen minutes and a half,
by my watch, and devil a spur! I'd have lent you my boots had there
been time, I would, b'gad! As it is, if you've any desire to shake
hands with a--ha!--with a fellow--hum!--in a dirty coat--why--here's
mine, b'gad!"

"Captain the Honorable Marmaduke Slingsby--Mr. Beverley--The Marquis
of Jerningham--Mr. Beverley. And now," said the Viscount, as
Barnabas shook hands, "now tell 'em why you bought the horse, Bev."

"I was hoping, sirs," said Barnabas, rather diffidently, "that I
might perhaps have the honor of riding in the Steeplechase on the
fifteenth."

Hereupon the Captain struck his riding boot a resounding blow with
his whip, and whistled; while the Marquis dangled his eyeglass by
its riband, viewing it with eyes of mild surprise, and the Viscount
glanced from one to the other with an enigmatical smile upon his lips.

"That would rest with Carnaby to decide, of course," said the
Captain at last.

"Why so?" inquired Barnabas.

"Because--well, because he--is Carnaby, I suppose," the Captain
answered.

"Though Jerningham has the casting-vote," added the Viscount.

"True," said the Marquis, rearranging a fold of his cravat with a
self-conscious air, "but, as Sling says--Carnaby is--Carnaby."

"Sirs," began Barnabas, very earnestly, "believe me I would spare no
expense--"

"Expense, sir?" repeated the Marquis, lifting a languid eyebrow;
"of course it is no question of 'expense'!" Here the Viscount looked
uncomfortable all at once, and Barnabas grew suddenly hot.

"I mean," he stammered, "I mean that my being entered so late in the
day--the fees might be made proportionately heavier--double them if
need be--I should none the less be--be inestimably indebted to you;
indeed I--I cannot tell you--" Now as Barnabas broke off, the
Marquis smiled and reached out his hand--a languid-seeming hand,
slim and delicate, yet by no means languid of grip.

"My dear Beverley," said he, "I like your earnestness. A
race--especially this one--is a doocid serious thing; for some of us,
perhaps, even more serious than we bargain for. It's going to be a
punishing race from start to finish, a test of endurance for horse
and man, over the worst imaginable country. It originated in a match
between Devenham on his 'Moonraker' and myself on 'Clinker,' but
Sling here was hot to match his 'Rascal,' and Carnaby fancied his
'Clasher,' and begad! applications came so fast that we had a field
in no time."

"Good fellows and sportsmen all!" nodded the Captain. "Gentlemen
riders--no tag-rag, gamest of the game, sir."

"Now, as to yourself, my dear Beverley," continued the Marquis
authoritatively, "you 're doocid late, y' know; but then--"

"He can ride," said the Viscount.

"And he's game," nodded the Captain.

"And, therefore," added the Marquis, "we'll see what can be done
about it."

"And b'gad, here's wishing you luck!" said the Captain.

At this moment Peterby entered the yard, deep in converse with a slim,
gentleman-like person, whose noble cravat immediately attracted the
attention of the Marquis.

"By the way," pursued the Captain, "we three are dining together at
my club; may I have a cover laid for you, Mr. Beverley?"

"Sir," answered Barnabas, "I thank you, but, owing to--circumstances"
--here he cast a downward glance at his neckerchief--"I am unable to
accept. But, perhaps, you will, all three of you, favor me to dinner
at my house--say, in three days' time?"

The invitation was no sooner given than accepted.

"But," said the Viscount, "I didn't know that you had a place here
in town, Bev. Where is it?"

"Why, indeed, now you come to mention it, I haven't the least idea;
but, perhaps, my man can tell me."

"Eh--what?" exclaimed the Captain. "Oh, b'gad, he's smoking us!"

"Peterby!"

"Sir?" and having saluted the company, Peterby stood at respectful
attention.

"I shall be giving a small dinner in three days' time."

"Certainly, sir."

"At my house, Peterby,--consequently I desire to know its location.
Where do I live now, Peterby?"

"Number five, St. James's Square, sir."

"Thank you, Peterby."

"An invaluable fellow, that of yours," laughed the Marquis, as
Peterby bowed and turned away.

"Indeed, I begin to think he is, my Lord," answered Barnabas,
"and I shall expect you all, at six o'clock, on Friday next." So,
having shaken hands again, Captain Slingsby took the arm of the
Marquis, and limped off.

Now, when they were alone, the Viscount gazed at Barnabas, chin in
hand, and with twinkling eyes.

"My dear Bev," said he, "you can hang me if I know what to make of
you. Egad, you're the most incomprehensible fellow alive; you are,
upon my soul! If I may ask, what the deuce did it all mean--about
this house of yours?"

"Simply that until this moment I wasn't sure if I had one yet."

"But--your fellow--"

"Yes. I sent him out this morning to buy me one."

"To buy you--a house?"

"Yes; also horses and carriages, and many other things, chief among
them--a tailor."

The Viscount gasped.

"But--my dear fellow--to leave all that to your--servant! Oh, Gad!"

"But, as the Marquis remarked, Peterby is an inestimable fellow."

The Viscount eyed Barnabas with brows wrinkled in perplexity; then
all at once his expression changed.

"By the way," said he, "talking of Carnaby, he's got the most
beautiful eye you ever saw!"

"Oh?" said Barnabas, beginning to tuck in the ends of his neckerchief.

"And a devil of a split lip!"

"Oh?" said Barnabas again.

"And his coat had been nearly ripped off him; I saw it under his cape!"

"Ah?" said Barnabas, still busy with his neckcloth.

"And naturally enough," pursued the Viscount, "I've been trying to
imagine--yes, Bev, I've been racking my brain most damnably,
wondering why you--did it?

"It was in the wood," said Barnabas.

"So it _was_ you, then?"

"Yes, Dick."

"But--he didn't even mark you?"

"He lost his temper, Dick."

"You thrashed--Carnaby! Gad, Bev, there isn't a milling cove in
England could have done it."

"Yes--there are two--Natty Bell, and Glorious John."

"And I'll warrant he deserved it, Bev."

"I think so," said Barnabas; "it was in the wood, Dick."

"The wood? Ah! do you mean where you--"

"Where I found her lying unconscious."

"Unconscious! And with him beside her! My God, man!" cried the
Viscount, with a vicious snap of his teeth. "Why didn't you kill him?"

"Because I was beside her--first, Dick."

"Damn him!" exclaimed the Viscount bitterly.

"But he is your friend, Dick."

"Was, Bev, was! We'll make it in the past tense hereafter."

"Then you agree with your father after all?"

"I do, Bev; my father is a cursed, long-sighted, devilish observant
man! I'll back him against anybody, though he is such a Roman. But oh,
the devil!" exclaimed the Viscount suddenly, "you can never ride in
the race after this."

"Why not?"

"Because you'll meet Carnaby; and that mustn't happen."

"Why not?"

"Because he'll shoot you."

"You mean he'd challenge me? Hum," said Barnabas, "that is awkward!
But I can't give up the race."

"Then what shall you do?"

"Risk it, Dick."

But now, Mr. Smivvle, who from an adjoining corner had been an
interested spectator thus far, emerged, and flourishing off the
curly-brimmed hat, bowed profoundly, and addressed himself to the
Viscount.

"I believe," said he, smiling affably, "that I have the pleasure to
behold Viscount Devenham?"

"The same, sir," rejoined the Viscount, bowing stiffly.

"You don't remember me, perhaps, my Lord?"

The Viscount regarded the speaker stonily, and shook his head.

"No, I don't, sir."

Mr. Smivvle drew himself up, and made the most of his whiskers.

"My Lord, my name is Smivvle, Digby Smivvle, at your service, though
perhaps you don't remember my name, either?"

The Viscount took out his driving gloves and began to put them on.

"No, I don't, sir!" he answered dryly.

Mr. Smivvle felt for his whisker, found it, and smiled.

"Quite so, my Lord, I am but one of the concourse--the
multitude--the ah--the herd, though, mark me, my Lord, a Smivvle, sir,
--a Smivvle, every inch of me,--while you are the owner of 'Moonraker,'
and Moonraker's the word just now, I hear. But, sir, I have a
friend--"

"Indeed, sir," said the Viscount, in a tone of faint surprise, and
beckoning a passing ostler, ordered out his curricle.

"As I say," repeated Mr. Smivvle, beginning to search for his
whisker again, "I have a friend, my Lord--"

"Congratulate you," murmured the Viscount, pulling at his glove.

"A friend who has frequently spoken of your Lordship--"

"Very kind of him!" murmured the Viscount.

"And though, my Lord, though my name is not familiar, I think you
will remember his; the name of my friend is "--here Mr. Smivvle,
having at length discovered his whisker, gave it a fierce twirl,--
"Ronald Barrymaine."

The Viscount's smooth brow remained unclouded, only the glove tore
in his fingers; so he smiled, shook his head, and drawing it off,
tossed it away.

"Hum?" said he, "I seem to have heard some such name--somewhere or
other--ah! there's my Imp at last, as tight and smart as they make
'em, eh, Bev? Well, good-by, my dear fellow, I shan't forget Friday
next." So saying, the Viscount shook hands, climbed into his curricle,
and, with a flourish of his whip, was off and away in a moment.

"A fine young fellow, that!" exclaimed Mr. Smivvle; "yes, sir,
regular out-and-outer, a Bang up! by heaven, a Blood, sir! a Tippy!
a Go! a regular Dash! High, sir, high, damned high, like my friend
Barrymaine,--indeed, you may have remarked a similarity between 'em,
sir?"

"You forget, I have never met your friend," said Barnabas.

"Ah, to be sure, a great pity! You'd like him, for Barrymaine is a
cursed fine fellow in spite of the Jews, dammem! yes,--you ought to
know my friend, sir."

"I should be glad to," said Barnabas.

"Would you though, would you indeed, sir? Nothing simpler; call a
chaise! Stay though, poor Barry's not himself to-day, under a cloud,
sir. Youthful prodigalities are apt to bring worries in their
train--chiefly in the shape of Jews, sir, and devilish bad shapes too!
Better wait a day--say to-morrow, or Thursday--or even Friday would
do."

"Let it be Saturday," said Barnabas.

"Saturday by all means, sir, I'll give myself the pleasure of
calling upon you."

"St. James's Square," said Barnabas, "number five."

But now Peterby, who had been eyeing Mr. Smivvle very much askance,
ventured to step forward.

"Sir," said he, "may I remind you of your appointment?"

"I hadn't forgotten, Peterby; and good day, Mr. Smivvle."

"Au revoir, sir, delighted to have had the happiness. If you _should_
chance ever to be in Worcestershire, the Hall is open to you. Good
afternoon, sir!" And so, with a prodigious flourish of the hat,
Mr. Smivvle bowed, smiled, and swaggered off. Then, as he turned to
follow Peterby into the inn, Barnabas must needs pause to glance
towards the spot where lay the Viscount's torn glove.



CHAPTER XXVIII


CONCERNING, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE LEGS OF A GENTLEMAN-IN-POWDER

In that delightful book, "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments," one
may read of Spirits good, and bad, and indifferent; of slaves of
lamps, of rings and amulets, and talismanic charms; and of the
marvels and wonders they performed. But never did Afrit, Djinn, or
Genie perform greater miracles than steady-eyed, soft-voiced Peterby.
For if the far away Orient has its potent charms and spells, so, in
this less romantic Occident, have we also a spell whereby all things
are possible, a charm to move mountains--a spell whereby kings
become slaves, and slaves, kings; and we call it Money.

Aladdin had his wonderful Lamp, and lo! at the Genie's word, up
sprang a palace, and the wilderness blossomed; Barnabas had his
overflowing purse, and behold! Peterby went forth, and the dull room
at the "George" became a mansion in the midst of Vanity Fair.

Thus, at precisely four o'clock on the afternoon of the third day,
Barnabas stood before a cheval mirror in the dressing-room of his
new house, surveying his reflection with a certain complacent
satisfaction.

His silver-buttoned blue coat, high-waisted and cunningly rolled of
collar, was a sartorial triumph; his black stockinette pantaloons,
close-fitting from hip to ankle and there looped and buttoned,
accentuated muscled calf and virile thigh in a manner somewhat
disconcerting; his snowy waistcoat was of an original fashion and cut,
and his cravat, folded and caressed into being by Peterby's fingers,
was an elaborate masterpiece, a matchless creation never before seen
upon the town. Barnabas had become a dandy, from the crown of his
curly head to his silk stockings and polished shoes, and, upon the
whole, was not ill-pleased with himself.

"But they're--dangerously tight, aren't they, Peterby?" he inquired
suddenly, speaking his thought aloud.

"Tight, sir!" repeated Mr. Barry, the tailor, reproachfully, and
shaking his gentleman-like head, "impossible, sir,--with such a leg
inside 'em."

"Tight, sir?" exclaimed Peterby, from where he knelt upon the floor,
having just finished looping and buttoning the garments in question,
"indeed, sir, since you mention it, I almost fear they are a trifle
too--roomy. Can you raise your bent knee, sir?"

"Only with an effort, John."

"That settles it, Barry," said Peterby with a grim nod, "you must
take them in at least a quarter of an inch."

"Take 'em in?" exclaimed Barnabas, aghast, "no, I'll be shot if you
do,--not a fraction! I can scarcely manage 'em as it is." Peterby
shook his head in grave doubt, but at this juncture they were
interrupted by a discreet knock, and the door opening, a
Gentleman-in-Powder appeared. He was a languid gentleman, an
extremely superior gentleman, but his character lay chiefly in his
nose, which was remarkably short and remarkably supercilious of tip,
and his legs which were large and nobly shaped; they were, in a sense,
eloquent legs, being given to divers tremors and quiverings when
their possessor labored under any strong feeling or excitement; but,
above all, they were haughty legs, contemptuous of this paltry world
and all that therein is, yea, even of themselves, for their very
calves seemed striving to turn their backs upon each other.

"Are you in, sir?" he inquired in an utterly impersonal tone.

"In?" repeated Barnabas, with a quick downward glance at his tight
nether garments, "in?--in what?--in where?"

"Are you at 'ome, sir?"

"At home? Of course,--can't you see that?"

"Yes, sir," returned the Gentleman-in-Powder, his legs growing a
little agitated.

"Then why do you ask?"

"There is a--person below, sir."

"A person?"

"Yes, sir,--very much so! Got 'is foot in the door--wouldn't take it
out--had to let 'em in--waiting in the 'all, sir."

"What's he like, who is he?"

"Whiskers, sir,--name of Snivels,--no card!" Here might have been
observed the same agitation of the plump legs.

"Ask him to wait."

"Beg pardon, sir--did you say--to wait?" (Agitation growing.)

"Yes. Say I'll be down at once." (Agitation extreme.)

"Meaning as you will--see 'im, sir?" (Agitation indescribable.)

"Yes," said Barnabas, "yes, of course."

The Gentleman-in-Powder bowed; his eye was calm, his brow unruffled,
but his legs!!! And his nose was more supercilious than ever as he
closed the door upon it.

Mr. Smivvle, meanwhile, was standing downstairs before a mirror,
apparently lost in contemplation of his whiskers, and indeed they
seemed to afford him a vast degree of pleasure, for he stroked them
with caressing fingers, and smiled upon them quite benevolently.

"Six pair of silver candlesticks!" he murmured. "Persian rugs!
Bric-a-brac, rare--costly pictures! He's a Nabob, by heaven,--yes he
is,--a mysterious young Nabob, wallowing in wealth! Five shillings?
--preposterous! we'll make it--ten,--and--yes, shall we say another
five for the pampered menial? By all means let us make it another
five shillings for the cursed flunkey,--here he comes!"

And indeed, at that moment the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder might
have been descried descending the stair rather more pompously than
usual. As soon as they had become stationary, Mr. Smivvle directed a
glance at the nearest, and addressed it.

"James!" said he.

The Gentleman-in-Powder became lost in dreamy abstraction, with the
exception of his legs which worked slightly. Hereupon Mr. Smivvle
reached out and poked him gently with the head of his tasselled cane.

"Awake, James?" said he.

"Name of Harthur--_if_ you please, sir!" retorted the
Gentleman-in-Powder, brushing away the touch of the cane, and eyeing
the place with much concern.

"If, James," continued Mr. Smivvle, belligerent of whisker,
"if you would continue to ornament this lordly mansion, James, be
more respectful, hereafter, to your master's old and tried friends,"
saying which Mr. Smivvle gave a twirl to each whisker, and turned to
inspect a cabinet of old china.

"Sevres, by George!" he murmured, "we'll make it a pound!" He was
still lost in contemplation of the luxurious appointments that
everywhere met his view, and was seriously considering the
advisability of "making it thirty shillings," when the appearance of
Barnabas cut him short, and he at once became all smiles, flourishes
and whiskers.

"Ah, Beverley, my boy!" he cried heartily, "pray forgive this
horribly unseasonable visit, but--under the circumstances--I felt it
my duty to--ah--to drop in on you, my dear fellow."

"What circumstances?" demanded Barnabas, a little stiffly, perhaps.

"Circumstances affecting our friend Barrymaine, sir."

"Ah?" said Barnabas, his tone changing, "what of him? though you
forget, Mr. Barrymaine and I are still strangers."

"By heaven, you are right, sir, though, egad! I'm only a little
previous,--eh, my dear fellow?" and, smiling engagingly, Mr. Smivvle
followed Barnabas into a side room, and shutting the door with
elaborate care, immediately shook his whiskers and heaved a profound
sigh. "My friend Barrymaine is low, sir,--devilish low," he
proceeded to explain, "indeed I'm quite distressed for the poor
fellow, 'pon my soul and honor I am,--for he is--in a manner of
speaking--in eclipse as it were, sir!"

"I fear I don't understand," said Barnabas.

"Why, then--in plain words, my dear Beverley,--he's suffering from
an acute attack of the Jews, dammem!--a positive seizure, sir!"

"Do you mean he has been taken--for debt?"

"Precisely, my dear fellow. An old affair--ages ago--a stab in the
dark! Nothing very much, in fact a mere bagatelle, only, as luck
will have it, I am damnably short myself just now."

"How much is it?"

"Altogether exactly twenty-five pound ten. An absurd sum, but all my
odd cash is on the race. So I ventured here on my young friend's
behalf to ask for a trifling loan,--a pound--or say thirty shillings
would be something."

Barnabas crossed to a cabinet, unlocked a drawer, and taking thence
a smallish bag that jingled, began to count out a certain sum upon
the table.

"You said twenty-five pounds ten, I think?" said Barnabas, and
pushed that amount across the table. Mr. Smivvle stared from the
money to Barnabas and back again, and felt for his whisker with
fumbling fingers.

"Sir," he said, "you can't--you don't mean to--to--"

"Yes," said Barnabas, turning to re-lock the drawer. Mr. Smivvle's
hand dropped from his whiskers, indeed, for the moment he almost
seemed to have forgotten their existence.

"Sir," he stammered, "I cannot allow--no indeed, sir! Mr. Beverley,
you overwhelm me--"

"Debts are necessary evils," said Barnabas, "and must be paid."
Mr. Smivvle stared at Barnabas, his brow furrowed by perplexity,
--stared like one who is suddenly at a loss; and indeed his usual
knowing air was quite gone. Then, dropping his gaze to the money on
the table, he swept it into his pocket, almost furtively, and took
up his hat and cane, and, it is worthy of note, that he did it all
without a flourish.

"Mr. Beverley," said he, "in the name of my friend Barrymaine, I
thank you, and--I--I thank you!" So he turned and went out of the
room, and, as he went, he even forgot to swagger.

Then Barnabas crossed to a mirror, and, once more, fell to studying
his reflection with critical eyes, in the midst of which examination
he looked up to find Peterby beside him.

"Are you quite satisfied, sir?"

"They are wonderful, John."

"The coat," said Peterby, "y-e-s, the coat will pass well enough,
but I have grave doubts as regard the pantaloons."

"I refuse to have 'em touched, John. And Natty Bell was quite right."

"Sir?" said Peterby.

"You don't know Natty Bell as yet, John, but you may; he is a very
remarkable man! He told me, I remember, that in Town, a man had his
clothes put on for him, and--remembered them,--and so he does,--the
difficulty will be ever to forget 'em, they"--here Barnabas stole a
glance at his legs--"they positively obtrude themselves, John! Yes,
clothes are wonderful things, but I fear they will take a great deal
of living up to!"

Here Barnabas drew a long sigh, in the midst of which he was
interrupted by the calves of the Gentleman-in-Powder, which
presented themselves at the doorway with the announcement:

"Viscount Deafenem, sir!"

Barnabas started and hurried forward, very conscious, very nervous,
and for once uncertain of himself by reason of his new and
unaccustomed splendor. But the look in the Viscount's boyish eyes,
his smiling nod of frank approval, and the warm clasp of his hand,
were vastly reassuring.

"Why, Bev, that coat's a marvel!" he exclaimed impulsively,
"it is, I swear it is; turn round--so! Gad, what a fit!"

"I hoped you 'd approve of it, Dick," said Barnabas, a little flushed,
"you see, I know very little about such things, and--"

"Approve of it! My dear fellow! And the cut!"

"Now--as for these--er--pantaloons, Dick--?"

"Dashing, my dear fellow,--devilish dashing!"

"But rather too--too tight, don't you think?"

"Can't be, Bev, tighter the better,--have 'em made too tight to get
into, and you're right; look at mine, if I bend, I split,--deuced
uncomfortable but all the mode, and a man must wear something! My
fellow has the deuce of a time getting me into 'em, confound 'em. Oh,
for ease, give me boots and buckskins!" Hereupon the Viscount having
walked round Barnabas three times, and viewed him critically from
every angle, nodded with an air of finality. "Yes, they do you
infinite credit, my dear fellow,--like everything else;" and he cast
a comprehensive glance round the luxurious apartment.

"The credit of it all rests entirely with Peterby," said Barnabas.
"John--where are you?" But Peterby had disappeared.

"You're the most incomprehensible fellow, Bev," said the Viscount,
seating himself on the edge of the table and swinging his leg.
"You have been a constant surprise to me ever since you found
me--er--let us say--ruminating in the bilboes, and now"--here he
shook his head gravely--"and now it seems you are to become a source
of infernal worry and anxiety as well."

"I hope not, Dick."

"You are, though," repeated the Viscount, looking graver than ever.

"Why?"

"Because--well, because you are evidently bent upon dying young."

"How so, Dick?"

"Well, if you ride in the race and don't break your neck, Carnaby
will want a word with you; and if he doesn't shoot you, why then
Chichester certainly will--next time, damn him!"

"Next time?"

"Oh, I know all about your little affair with him--across the table.
Gad, Beverley, what a perfectly reckless fellow you are!"

"But--how do you know of this?"

"From Clemency."

"So you've seen her again, Dick?"

"Yes, of course; that is, I took 'Moonraker' for a gallop yesterday,
and--happened to be that way."

"Ah!" said Barnabas.

"And she told me--everything," said the Viscount, beginning to
stride up and down the room, with his usual placidity quite gone,
"I mean about--about the button you found, it was that devil
Chichester's it seems, and--and--Beverley, give me your hand! She
told me how you confronted the fellow. Ha! I'll swear you had him
shaking in his villain's shoes, duellist as he is."

"But," said Barnabas, as the Viscount caught his hand, "it was not
altogether on Clemency's account, Dick."

"No matter, you frightened the fellow off. Oh, I know--she told me;
I made her! She had to fight with the beast, that's how he lost his
button. I tell you, if ever I get the chance at him, he or I shall
get his quietus. By God, Bev, I'm half-minded to send the brute a
challenge, as it is."

"Because of Clemency, Dick?"

"Well--and why not?"

"The Earl of Bamborough's son fight a duel over the chambermaid of a
hedge tavern!"

The Viscount's handsome face grew suddenly red, and as suddenly pale
again, and his eyes glowed as he fronted Barnabas across the hearth.

"Mr. Beverley," said he very quietly, "how am I to take that?"

"In friendship, Dick, for the truth of it is that--though she is as
brave, as pure, as beautiful as any lady in the land, she is a
chambermaid none the less."

The Viscount turned, and striding to the window stood there, looking
out with bent head.

"Have I offended you?" inquired Barnabas.

"You go--too far, Beverley."

"I would go farther yet for my friend, Viscount, or for our Lady
Cleone."

Now when Barnabas said this, the Viscount's head drooped lower yet,
and he stood silent. Then, all at once, he turned, and coming to the
hearth, the two stood looking at each other.

"Yes, I believe you would, Beverley. But you have a way of jumping
to conclusions that is--devilish disconcerting. As for Chichester,
the world would be well rid of him. And, talking of him, I met
another rascal as I came--I mean that fellow Smivvle; had he been
here?"

"Yes."

"Begging, I suppose?"

"He borrowed some money for his friend Barrymaine."

The Viscount flushed hotly, and looked at Barnabas with a sudden
frown.

"Perhaps you are unaware, that is a name I never allow spoken in my
presence, Mr. Beverley."

"Indeed, Viscount, and pray, why not?"

"For one thing, because he is--what he is--"

"Lady Cleone's brother."

"Half-brother, sir, and none the less a--knave."

"How--?"

"I mean that he is a card-sharper, a common cheat."

"Her brother--?"

"Half-brother!"

"A cheat! Are you sure?"

"Certain! I had the misfortune to make the discovery. And it killed
him in London, all the clubs shut their doors upon him of course, he
was cut in the streets,--it is damning to be seen in his company or
even to mention his name--now."

"And you--you exposed him?"

"I said I made the discovery; but I kept it to myself. The stakes
were unusually high that night, and we played late. I went home with
him, but Chichester was there, waiting for him. So I took him aside,
and, in as friendly a spirit as I could, told him of my discovery.
He broke down, and, never attempting a denial, offered restitution
and promised amendment. I gave my word to keep silent and, on one
pretext or another, the loser's money was returned. But next week,
the whole town hummed with the news. One night--it was at
White's--he confronted me, and--he gave me--the lie!" The Viscount's
fists were tight clenched, and he stared down blindly at the floor.
"And, sir, though you'll scarcely credit it of course, I--there,
before them all--I took it."

"Of course," said Barnabas, "for Her sake."

"Beverley!" exclaimed the Viscount, looking up with a sudden light
in his eyes. "Oh, Bev!" and their hands met and gripped.

"You couldn't do anything else, Dick."

"No, Bev, no, but I'm glad you understand. Later it got about that
I--that I was--afraid of the fellow--he's a dead shot, they say,
young as he is--and--well, it--it wasn't pleasant, Bev. Indeed it
got worse until I called out one of Chichester's friends, and winged
him--a fellow named Dalton."

"I think I've seen him," said Barnabas, nodding.

"Anyhow, Barrymaine was utterly discredited and done for--he's an
outcast, and to be seen with him, or his friends, is to be damned
also."

"And yet," said Barnabas, sighing and shaking his head, "I must call
upon him to-morrow."

"Call upon him! Man--are you mad?"

"No; but he is her brother, and--"

"And, as I tell you, he is banned by society as a cheat!"

"And is that so great a sin, Dick?"

"Are there any--worse?"

"Oh, yes; one might kill a man in a duel, or dishonor a trusting
woman, or blast a man's character; indeed it seems to me that there
are many greater sins!"

The Viscount dropped back in his chair, and stared at Barnabas with
horrified eyes.

"My--dear--Beverley," said he at last, "are you--serious?"

"My dear Viscount--of course I am."

"Then let me warn you, such views will never do here: any one
holding such views will never succeed in London."

"Yet I mean to try," said Barnabas, squaring his jaw.

"But why," said the Viscount, impatiently, "why trouble yourself
about such a fellow?"

"Because She loves him, and because She asked me to help him."

"She asked--you to?"

"Yes."

"And--do you think you can?"

"I shall try."

"How?"

"First, by freeing him from debt."

"Do you know him--have you ever met him?"

"No, Dick, but I love his sister."

"And because of this, you'd shoulder his debts? Ah, but you can't,
and if you ask me why, I tell you, because Jasper Gaunt has got him,
and means to keep him. To my knowledge Barrymaine has twice had
the money to liquidate his debt--but Gaunt has put him off, on one
pretext or another, until the money has all slipped away. I tell you,
Bev, Jasper Gaunt has got him in his clutches--as he's got Sling,
and poor George Danby, and--God knows how many more--as he'd get me
if he could, damn him! Yes, Gaunt has got his claws into him, and
he'll never let him go again--never."

"Then," said Barnabas, "I must see Jasper Gaunt as soon as may be."

"Oh, by all means," nodded the Viscount, "if you have a taste for
snakes, and spiders, and vermin of that sort, Slingsby will show you
where to find him--Slingsby knows his den well enough, poor old Sling!
But look to yourself, for spiders sting and snakes bite, and Jasper
Gaunt does both."

The knuckles of the Gentleman-in-Powder here made themselves heard,
and thereafter the door opened to admit his calves, which were
immediately eclipsed by the Marquis, who appeared to be in a state
of unwonted hurry.

"What, have I beat Slingsby, then?" he inquired, glancing round the
room, "he was close behind me in Piccadilly--must have had a
spill--that's the worst of those high curricles. As a matter of fact,"
he proceeded to explain, "I rushed round here--that is we both did,
but I've got here first, to tell you that--Oh, dooce take me!" and
out came the Marquis's eyeglass. "Positively you must excuse me, my
dear Beverley. Thought I knew 'em all, but no--damme if I ever saw
the fellow to yours! Permit me!" Saying which the Marquis gently led
Barnabas to the window, and began to study his cravat with the most
profound interest.

"By George, Devenham," he exclaimed suddenly,--"it's new!"

"Gad!" said the Viscount, "now you come to mention it,--so it is!"

"Positively--new!" repeated the Marquis in an awestruck voice,
staring at the Viscount wide-eyed. "D'you grasp the importance of
this, Devenham?--d'you see the possibilities, Dick? It will create a
sensation,--it will set all the clubs by the ears, by George! We
shall have the Prince galloping up from Brighton. By heaven, it's
stupendous! Permit me, my dear Beverley. See--here we have three
folds and a tuck, then--oh, Jupiter, it's a positive work of art,
--how the deuce d'you tie it? Never saw anything approaching this,
and I've tried 'em all,--the Mail-coach, the Trone d'Amour, the
Osbaldistone, the Napoleon, the Irish tie, the Mathematical tie, and
the Oriental,--no, 'pon my honor it's unique, it's--it's--" the
Marquis sighed, shook his head, and words failing him, took out his
enamelled snuff-box. "Sir," said he, "I have the very highest regard
for a man of refined taste, and if there is one thing in which that
manifests itself more than another, it is the cravat. Sir, I make
you free of my box, pray honor me." And the Marquis flicked open his
snuff-box and extended it towards Barnabas with a bow.

"My Lord," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "I appreciate the honor
you do me, but pray excuse me,--I never take it."

"No?" said the Marquis with raised brows, "you astonish me; but
then--between ourselves--neither do I. Can't bear the infernal stuff.
Makes me sneeze most damnably. And then, it has such a cursed way of
blowing about! Still, one must conform to fashion, and--"

"Captain Slingsby!"

The Gentleman-in-Powder had scarcely articulated the words, when the
Captain had gripped Barnabas by the hand.

"Congratulate you, Beverley, heartily."

"Thank you, but why?" inquired Barnabas.

"Eh--what? Hasn't Jerningham told you? B'gad, is it possible you
don't know--"

"Why, dooce take me, Sling, if I didn't forget!" said the Marquis,
clapping hand to thigh, "but his cravat put everything else out of
my nob, and small wonder either! You tell him."

"No," answered the Captain. "I upset a cursed apple-stall on my way
here--you got in first--tell him yourself."

"Why, then, Beverley," said the Marquis, extending his hand, in his
turn, as he spoke, "we have pleasure, Sling and I, to tell you that
you are entered for the race on the fifteenth."

"The race!" exclaimed Barnabas, flushing. "You mean I'm to ride then?"

"Yes," nodded the Captain, "but b'gad! we mean more than that, we
mean that you are one of us, that Devenham's friend must be ours
because he's game--"

"And can ride," said the Viscount.

"And is a man of taste," added the Marquis.

Thus it was as one in a dream that Barnabas beheld the legs of the
Gentleman-in-Powder, and heard the words:

"Dinner is served, gentlemen!"

But scarcely had they taken their places at the table when the
Marquis rose, his brimming glass in his hand.

"Mr. Beverley," said he, bowing, "when Devenham, Slingsby, and I
meet at table, it is our invariable custom to drink to one whom we
all--hum--"

"Admire!" said the Viscount, rising.

"Adore!" said the Captain, rising also.

"Therefore, gentlemen," pursued the Marquis, "with our host's
permission, we will--"

"Stay a moment, Jerningham," said the Viscount,--"it is only right
to tell you that my friend Beverley is one with us in this,--he also
is a suitor for the hand of Lady Cleone."

"Is he, b'gad!" exclaimed the Captain. "Dooce take me!" said the
Marquis, "might have known it though. Ah, well! one more or less
makes small difference among so many."

So Barnabas rose, and lifting his glass with the others, drank to--

"Our Lady Cleone--God bless her!"



CHAPTER XXIX


WHICH DESCRIBES SOMETHING OF THE MISFORTUNES OF RONALD BARRYMAINE

Holborn was in full song,--a rumbling, roaring melody, a clattering,
rushing, blaring symphony made up of the grind of wheels upon
resounding cobble-stones, the thudding beat of horse-hoofs, the
tread of countless feet, the shrill note of voices; it was all there,
the bass and the treble blending together, harsh, discordant, yet
the real symphony of life.

And, amidst it all, of it all, came Barnabas, eager-eyed, forgetful
of his companion, lost to all but the stir and bustle, the rush and
roar of the wonderful city about him. The which Mr. Smivvle duly
remarked from under the curly-brimmed hat, but was uncommonly silent.
Indeed, though his hat was at its usual rakish angle, though he
swung his cane and strode with all his ordinary devil-may-care
swagger, though his whiskers were as self-assertive as ever, yet
Mr. Smivvle himself was unusually pensive, and in his bold black
eyes was a look very like anxiety. But in a while, as they turned
out of the rush of Holborn Hill, he sighed, threw back his shoulders,
and spoke.

"Nearly there now, my dear fellow, this is the Garden."

"Garden?" said Barnabas, glancing about. "Where?"

"Here, sir; we're in it,--Hatton Garden. Charmingly rustic spot,
you'll observe, delightfully rural retreat! Famous for strawberries
once, I believe,--flowers too, of course. Talking of flowers, sir, a
few of 'em still left to--ah--blush unseen? I'm one, Barrymaine's
another--a violet? No. A lily? No. A blush-rose? Well, let us say a
blush-rose, but damnably run to seed, like the rest of us.
And--ah--talking of Barrymaine, I ought, perhaps, to warn you that
we may find him a trifle--queer--a leetle touched perhaps." And
Mr. Smivvle raised an invisible glass, and tossed down its imaginary
contents with an expression of much beatitude.

"Is he given to--that sort of thing?"

"Sir," said Mr. Smivvle, "can you blame one who seeks forgetfulness
in the flowing bowl--and my friend Barry has very much to
forget--can you blame him?"

"No, poor fellow!"

"Sir, allow me to tell you my friend Barry needs no man's pity,
though I confess I could wish Chichester was not quite so
generous--in one respect."

"How?"

"In--ah--in keeping the flowing bowl continually brimming, my dear
fellow."

"Is Mr. Chichester a friend of his?"

"The only one, with the exception of yours obediently, who has not
deserted him in his adversity."

"Why?"

"Because, well,--between you and me, my dear fellow, I believe his
regard for Barry's half-sister, the Lady Cleone, is largely
accountable in Chichester's case; as for myself, because, as I think
I mentioned, the hand of a Smivvle once given, sir, is never
withdrawn, either on account of plague, poverty, pestilence, or Jews,
--dammem! This way, my dear fellow!" and turning into Cross Street,
up towards Leather Lane, Mr. Smivvle halted at a certain dingy door,
opened it, and showed Barnabas into a dingier hall, and so, leading
the way up the dingiest stairs in the world, eventually ushered him
into a fair-sized, though dingy, room; and being entered,
immediately stood upon tip-toe and laid a finger on his lips.

"Hush! the poor fellow's asleep, but you'll excuse him, I know."

Barnabas nodded, and, softly approaching the couch, looked down upon
the sleeper, and, with the look, felt his heart leap.

A young face he saw, delicately featured, a handsome face with
disdainful lips that yet drooped in pitiful weariness, a face which,
for all its youth, was marred by the indelible traces of fierce,
ungoverned passions. And gazing down upon these features, so
dissimilar in expression, yet so strangely like in their beauty and
lofty pride, Barnabas felt his heart leap,--because of the long
lashes that curled so black against the waxen pallor of the cheek;
for in that moment he almost seemed to be back in the green, morning
freshness of Annersley Wood, and upon his lips there breathed a
name--"Cleone."

But all at once the sleeper stirred, frowned, and started up with a
bitter imprecation upon his lips that ended in a vacant stare.

"Why, Barry," cried Mr. Smivvle leaning over him, "my dear boy, did
we disturb you?"

"Ah, Dig--is that you? Fell asleep--brandy, perhaps, and--ha,--your
pardon, sir!" and Ronald Barrymaine rose, somewhat unsteadily, and,
folding his threadbare dressing-gown about him, bowed, and so stood
facing Barnabas, a little drunk and very stately.

"This is my friend Beverley, of whom I told you," Mr. Smivvle
hastened to explain. "Mr. Barnabas Beverley,--Mr. Ronald Barrymaine."

"You are--welcome, sir," said Mr. Barrymaine, speaking with
elaborate care, as if to make quite sure of his utterance. "Pray be
seated, Mr. Bev'ley. We--we are a little crowded I f-fear. Move
those boots off the chair, Dig. Indeed my apartment might be a
little more commodious, but it's all I have at p-present, and by God!"
he cried, suddenly fierce, "I shouldn't have even this but for Dig
here! Dig's the only f-friend I have in the world--except Chichester.
Push the brandy over, Dig. Of course there's--Cleone, but she's only
a sister, after all. Don't know what I should do if it wasn't for
Dig--d-do I, Dig? And Chichester of course. Give Mr. Bev'ley a chair.
Dig. I'll get him--glass!" Hereupon Mr. Smivvle hurried forward with
a chair which, like all the rest of the furniture, had long ago seen
its best days, during which manoeuvre he contrived to whisper
hurriedly:

"Poor Barry's decidedly 'touched' to-day, a little more so than usual,
but you'll excuse him I know, my dear fellow. Hush!" for Barrymaine,
who had crossed to the other end of the room, now turned and came
towards them, swaying a little, and with a glass in his hand.

"It's rickety, sir, you'll notice," said he, nodding. "I--I mean
that chair--dev'lish rickety, like everything else 'bout
here--especially myself, eh, Dig? B-but don't be alarmed, it--will
bear you, sir. D-devil of a place to ask--gentleman to sit down in,
--but the Spanswick hasn't been round to clean the place this
week--damn her! S-scarcely blame her, though--never gets
paid--except when Dig remembers it. Don't know what I should do
without D-Dig,--raised twenty pounds yesterday, damme if I know where!
said it was watch--but watch went weeks ago. Couldn't ever pay the
Spanswick. That's the accursed part of it--pay, pay! debt on debt,
and--n-nothing to pay with. All swallowed up by that merciless
bloodsucker--that--"

"Now, Barry!" Mr. Smivvle expostulated, "my dear boy--"

"He's a cursed v-vampire, I tell you!" retorted Barrymaine, his pale
cheeks suddenly flushed, and his dark eyes flashing in swift passion,
--"he's a snake."

"Now, my dear fellow, calm yourself."

"Calm myself. How can I, when everything I have is his, when
everything I g-get belongs to him before--curse him--even before I
get it! I tell you, Dig, he's--he's draining my life away, drop by
drop! He's g-got me down with his foot on my neck--crushing me into
the mud. I say he's stamping me down into hell--damn him!"

"Restrain yourself, Barry, my dear boy, remember Mr. Beverley is our
guest--"

"Restrain myself--yes, Dig, yes. B-beg Mr. Beverley's pardon for me,
Dig. Not myself to-day,--but must restrain myself--certainly. Give
me some more brandy--ha! and pass bottle to Mr. Bev'ley, Dig. No,
sir? Ah well, help yourself, Dig. Must forgive exhibition of feeling,
sir, but I always do get carried away when I remember that inhuman
monster--God's curse on him!"

"Sir," said Barnabas, "whom do you mean?"

"Mean? ha! ha! oh damme, hark to that, Dig! Dev'lish witty I call
that--oh c-cursed rich! Whom do I mean? Why," cried Barrymaine,
starting up from the couch, "whom should I mean but Gaunt! Gaunt!
Gaunt!" and he shook his clenched fists passionately in the air. Then,
as suddenly he turned upon Barnabas with a wild, despairing gesture,
and stretching out his arms, pointed to each wrist in turn.
"D'ye see 'em?" he cried, "d'ye hear 'em; jangle? No? Ah, but they
_are_ there! riveted on, never to come off, eating deeper into my
flesh every day! I'm shackled, I tell you,--fettered hand and foot.
Oh! egad, I'm an object lesson!--point a moral and adorn a tale,
--beware of p-prodigality and m-money lenders. Shackled--shackled
hand and foot, and must drag my chain until I f-fall into a debtor's
grave."

"No!" cried Barnabas, so suddenly that Ronald Barrymaine started,
and thereafter grew very high and haughty.

"Sir," said he with upflung head, "I don't permit my word to be--to
be--contra--dicted,--never did and never will. Though you see before
you a m-miserable wretch, yet that wretch is still a gentleman at
heart, and that wretch tells you again he's shackled, sir, hand and
foot--yes, damme, and so I am!"

"Well then," said Barnabas, "why not free yourself?"

Ronald Barrymaine sank down upon the couch, looked at Barnabas,
looked at Smivvle, drained his glass and shook his head.

"My dear Dig," said he, "your friend's either mad or drunk--mos'
probably drunk. Yes, that's it,--or else he's smoking me, and I
won't be smoked, no man shall laugh at me now that I'm down. Show
him the door, Dig. I--I won't have my private affairs discussed by
s-strangers, no, by heaven!"

"Now, Barry," exclaimed Mr. Smivvle, "do be calm, Mr. Beverley only
wants to help you--er--that is, in a friendly way, of course, and I
'm sure--"

"Damn his help! I'd rather die in the g-gutter than ask help or
charity of any one."

"Yes, yes--of course, my dear fellow! But you're so touchy, Barry,
so infernally proud, my dear boy. Mr. Beverley merely wishes to--"

"Be honored with your friendship," said Barnabas with his ingenuous
smile.

"Why then, Dig," says his youthful Mightiness, beginning to relent,
"pray beg Mr. Bev'ley's pardon for me again, and 'sure him the honor
is mine."

"And I would have you trust me also," Barnabas pursued.

"Trust you?" repeated Barrymaine with a sudden laugh. "Gad, yes,
willingly! Only it happens I've n-noth-ing left to trust you with,
--no, not enough to pay the Spanswick."

"And yet, if you will, you may be free," said Barnabas the persistent.

"Free! He's at it again, Dig."

"Believe me it is my earnest desire to help you,--to--"

"Help me, sir! a stranger! by heaven,--no! A stranger, damme!"

"Let us say your friend."

"I tell you, sir," said Barrymaine, starting up unsteadily,
"I seek no man's aid--s-scorn it! I'm not one to weep out my
misfortunes to strangers. Damme, I'm man enough to manage my own
affairs, what's left of 'em. I want nobody's accursed pity
either--pah!" and he made a gesture of repudiation so fierce that he
staggered and recovered himself only by clutching at Mr. Smivvle's
ready arm. "The Past, sir," said he, supporting himself by that
trusty arm, "the Past is done with, and the F-Future I'll face alone,
as I have done all along, eh, Dig?"

"But surely--"

"Ay, surely, sir, I'm no object of charity whining for alms, no, by
Gad! I--I'm--Dig, push the brandy!"

"If you would but listen--" Barnabas began again.

"Not--not a word. Why should I? Past's dead, and damn the Future. Dig,
pass the brandy."

"And I tell you," said Barnabas, "that in the future are hope and
the chance of a new life, once you are free of Gaunt."

"Free of Gaunt! Hark to that, Dig. Must be dev'lish drunk to talk
such cursed f-folly! Why, I tell you again," he cried in rising
passion, "that I couldn't get free of Gaunt's talons even if I had
the money, and mine's all gone long ago, and half Cleone's beside,
--her Guardian's tied up the rest. She can't touch another penny
without his consent, damn him!--so I'm done. The future? In the
future is a debtor's prison that opens for me whenever Jasper Gaunt
says the word. Hope? There can be no hope for me till Jasper Gaunt's
dead and shrieking in hell-fire."

"But your debts shall be paid,--if you will."

"Paid? Who--who's to pay 'em?"

"I will."

"You!--you?"

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "on a condition."

Ronald Barrymaine sank back upon the couch, staring at Barnabas with
eyes wide and with parted lips; then, leaned suddenly forward,
sobered by surprise.

"Ah-h!" said he slowly. "I think I begin to understand. You have
seen my--my sister."

"Yes."

"Do you know--how much I owe?"

"No, but I'll pay it,--on a condition."

"A condition?" For a long moment the passionate dark eyes met and
questioned the steady gray; then Barrymaine's long lashes fluttered
and fell.

"Of course it would be a loan. I--I'd pay you back," he muttered.

"At your own convenience."

"And you would advance the money at once?"

"On a condition!"

Once again their eyes met, and once again Barrymaine's dropped; his
fingers clenched and unclenched themselves, he stirred restlessly,
and, finally, spoke.

"And your condition. Is it--Cleone?"

"No!" said Barnabas vehemently.

"Then, what is it?"

"That from this hour you give up brandy and Mr. Chichester--both
evil things."

"Well, and what more,--what--for yourself? How can this benefit you?
Come, speak out,--what is your real motive?"

"The hope that you may, some day, be worthy of your sister's love."

"Worthy, sir!" exclaimed Barrymaine, flushing angrily. "Poverty is
no crime!"

"No; but there remain brandy and Mr. Chichester."

"Ha! would you insult m-my friend?"

"Impossible. You have no friend, unless it be Mr. Smivvle here."

"Now by heaven," began Barrymaine passionately, "I tell you--"

"And I tell you that these are my only conditions," said Barnabas.
"Accept them and you may begin a new life. It is in your power to
become the man you might be, to regain the place in men's esteem
that you have lost, for if you are but sufficiently determined,
nothing is impossible."

Now as he spoke, Barnabas beheld Barrymaine's drooping head uplifted,
his curving back grew straight, and a new light sprang into his eyes.

"A new life," he muttered, "to come back to it all, to outface them
all after their cursed sneers and slights! Are you sure you don't
promise too much,--are you sure it's not too late?"

"Sure and certain!" said Barnabas. "But remember the chance of
salvation rests only with and by yourself, after all," and he
pointed to the half-emptied bottle. "Do you agree to my conditions?"

"Yes, yes, by God I do!"

"Then, friend, give me your hand. To-day I go to see Jasper Gaunt."

So Ronald Barrymaine, standing square upon his feet, gave Barnabas
his hand. But even in that moment Barnabas was conscious that the
door had opened softly behind him, saw the light fade out of
Barrymaine's eyes, felt the hand grow soft and lax, and turning about,
beheld Mr. Chichester smiling at them from the threshold.



CHAPTER XXX


IN WHICH RONALD BARRYMAINE MAKES HIS CHOICE

There was a moment of strained silence, then, as Barnabas sank back
on the rickety chair, Mr. Chichester laughed softly, and stepped
into the room.

"Salvation, was it, and a new life?" he inquired, "are you the one
to be saved, Ronald, or Smivvle here, or both?"

Ronald Barrymaine was dumb, his eyes sought the floor, and his pale
cheek became, all at once, suffused with a burning, vivid scarlet.

"I couldn't help but overhear as I came upstairs," pursued
Mr. Chichester pleasantly, "and devilish dark stairs they are--"

"Though excellent for eavesdropping, it appears!" added Barnabas.

"What?" cried Barrymaine, starting up, "listening, were
you--s-spying on me--is that your game, Chichester?" But hereupon
Mr. Smivvle started forward.

"Now, my dear Barry," he remonstrated, "be calm--"

"Calm? I tell you nobody's going to spy on me,--no, by heaven!
neither you, nor Chichester, nor the d-devil himself--"

"Certainly not, my dear fellow," answered Mr. Smivvle, drawing
Barrymaine's clenched fist through his arm and holding it there,
"nobody wants to. And, as for you, Chichester--couldn't come at a
better time--let me introduce our friend Mr. Beverley--"

"Thank you, Smivvle, but we've met before," said Mr. Chichester dryly,
"last time he posed as Rustic Virtue in homespun, to-day it seems he
is the Good Samaritan in a flowered waistcoat, very anxiously bent
on saving some one or other--conditionally, of course!"

"And what the devil has it to do with you?" cried Barrymaine
passionately.

"Nothing, my dear boy, nothing in the world,--except that until
to-day you have been my friend, and have honored me with your
confidence."

"Yes, by heavens! So I have--utterly--utterly,--and what I haven't
told you--y-you've found out for yourself--though God knows how.
N-not that I've anything to f-fear,--not I!"

"Of course not," smiled Mr. Chichester, "I am--your friend, Ronald,
--and I think you will always remember that." Mr. Chichester's tone
was soothing, and the pat he bestowed upon Barrymaine's drooping
shoulder was gentle as a caress, yet Barrymaine flinched and drew
away, and the hand he stretched out towards the bottle was trembling
all at once.

"Yes," Mr. Chichester repeated more softly than before, "yes, I am
your friend, Ronald, you must always remember that, and indeed
I--fancy--you always will." So saying, Mr. Chichester patted the
drooping shoulder again, and turned to lay aside his hat and cane.
Barrymaine was silent, but into his eyes had crept a look--such a
look as Barnabas had never seen--such a look as Barnabas could never
afterwards forget; then Barrymaine stooped to reach for the bottle.

"Well," said he, without looking up again, "s-suppose you are my
friend,--what then?"

"Why, then, my dear fellow, hearing you are to be saved--on a
condition--I am, naturally enough, anxious to know what that
condition may be?"

"Sir," said Barnabas, "let me hasten to set your anxiety at rest. My
condition is merely that Mr. Barrymaine gives up two evil
things--namely, brandy and yourself."

And now there fell a silence so utter that Barnabas could distinctly
hear the tick of Natty Bell's great watch in his fob; a silence in
which Mr. Smivvle stared with wide-eyed dismay, while Barrymaine sat
motionless with his glass half-way to his lips. Then Mr. Chichester
laughed again, but the scar glowed upon his pallid cheek, and the
lurking demon peeped out of his narrowed eyes.

"And for this," said he, shaking his head in gentle disbelief,
"for this our young Good Samaritan is positively eager to pay twenty
thousand odd pounds--"

"As a loan," muttered Barrymaine, "it would be only a loan, and I--I
should be free of Jasper Gaunt f-for good and all, damn him!"

"Let us rather say you would try a change of masters--"

"Now--by God--Chichester--!"

"Ah!--ah, to be sure, Ronald, our young Good Samaritan having
purchased the brother, would naturally expect the sister--"

"Have a c-care, Chichester, I say!"

"The sister to be grateful, my dear boy. Pah! don't you see it,
Ronald? a sprat to catch a whale! The brother saved, the sister's
gratitude gained--Oh, most disinterested, young Good Samaritan!"

"Ha! by heaven, I never thought of that!" cried Barrymaine, turning
upon Barnabas, "is it Cleone--is it? is it?"

"No," said Barnabas, folding his arms--a little ostentatiously,
"I seek only to be your friend in this."

"Friend!" exclaimed Mr. Chichester, laughing again, "friend, Ronald?
Nay, let us rather say your guardian angel in cords and Hessians."

"Since you condescend to mention my boots, sir," said Barnabas
growing polite, "may I humbly beg you to notice that, in spite of
their polish and tassels, they are as strong, as serviceable for
kicking purposes as those I wore when we last--sat at table together."

Mr. Chichester's iron self-control wavered for a moment, his brows
twitched together, and he turned upon Barnabas with threatening
gesture but, reading the purpose in the calm eye and smiling lip of
Barnabas, he restrained himself; yet seeming aware of the glowing
mark upon his cheek, he turned suddenly and, coming to the dingy
casement, stood with his back to the room, staring down into the
dingy street. Then Barnabas leaned forward and laid his hand upon
Barrymaine's, and it so happened it was the hand that yet held the
slopping wineglass.

"Think--think!" said Barnabas earnestly, "once you are free of Gaunt,
life will begin afresh for you, you can hold up your head again--"

"Though never in London, Ronald, I fear," added Mr. Chichester over
his shoulder.

"Once free of Gaunt, you may attain to higher things than you ever
did," said Barnabas.

"Unless the dead past should happen to come to life again, and find
a voice some day," added Mr. Chichester over his shoulder.

"No, no!" said Barnabas, feeling the quiver of the fingers within
his own, "I tell you it would mean a new beginning--a new life--a
new ending for you--"

"And for Cleone!" added Mr. Chichester over his shoulder, "our young,
disinterested Good Samaritan knows she is too proud to permit a
stranger to shoulder her brother's responsibilities--"

"Proud, eh?" cried Barrymaine, leaping up in sudden boyish passion,
"well, am I not proud? Did you ever know me anything else--did you?"

"Never, my dear Ronald," cried Mr. Chichester, turning at last.
"You are unfortunate, but you have always met disaster--so far,
with the fortitude of a gentleman, scorning your detractors
and--abominating charity."

"C-charity! damn you, Chichester, d' ye think I-I'd accept any man's
c-charity? D' you think I'd ever drag Cleone to that depth--do you?"

"Never, Barrymaine, never, I swear."

"Why then--leave me alone, I can m-manage my own affairs--"
"Perfectly, my dear fellow, I am sure of it."

"Then sir," said Barnabas, rising, "seeing it really is no concern
of yours, after all, suppose you cease to trouble yourself any
further in the matter, and allow Mr. Barrymaine to choose for
himself--"

"I--I have decided!" cried Barrymaine, "and I tell you--"

"Wait!" said Barnabas.

"Speak!" said Mr. Chichester.

"Wait!" repeated Barnabas, "Mr. Chichester is--going, I think. Let
us wait until we are alone." Then, bowing to Mr. Chichester,
Barnabas opened the door wide. "Sir," said he, "may I venture to
suggest that your presence is--not at all necessary?"

"Ah!" said Mr. Chichester, "you will certainly compel me to kill you,
some day."

"'Sufficient unto the day,' sir!" Barnabas retorted; "in the
meantime I shall most certainly give myself the pleasure of kicking
you downstairs unless you choose to walk--at once."

As he spoke, Barnabas took a stride towards Mr. Chichester's rigid
figure, but, in that moment, Barrymaine snatched up the bottle and
sprang between them.

"Ah!--would you?" he cried, "who are you to order my f-friends
about--and in m-my own place too! Ha! did you think you could buy me,
d-did you? Did you think I--I'd sacrifice my sister--did you? Ha!
drunk, am I? Well, I'm sober enough to--to 'venge my honor and hers;
by God I'll kill you! Ah--let go, Dig! Let go, I say! Didn't you hear?
Tempt me with his cursed money, will he! Oh, let go my arm! Damn him,
I say--I'll kill him!"

But, as he struck, Mr. Smivvle caught his wrist, the bottle crashed
splintering to the floor, and they were locked in a fierce grapple.

"Beverley--my dear fellow--go!" panted Mr. Smivvle, "must
forgive--poor Barry--not himself. Go--go,--I can--manage him. Now
Barry, do be calm! Go, my dear fellow--leave him to me--go!" So,
perforce, Barnabas turned away and went down the dingy stairs, and
in his ears was the echo of the boy's drunken ravings and Mr.
Chichester's soft laughter.

And presently, being come into the dingy street, Barnabas paused to
look up at the dingy house, and looking, sighed.

"She said it would be 'difficult, and dangerous, perhaps,'" said he
to himself, "and indeed I think she was right."

Then he turned and went upon his way, heavy-footed and chin on breast.
On he went, plunged in gloomy abstraction, turning corners at random,
lost to all but the problem he had set himself, which was this:

How he might save Ronald Barrymaine in spite of Ronald Barrymaine.



CHAPTER XXXI


WHICH DESCRIBES SOME OF THE EVILS OF VINDICTIVENESS

Barnabas stumbled suddenly, dropped his cane, saw his hat spin
through the air and roll on before him; staggered sideways, was
brought up by a wall, and turning, found three men about him,
--evil-faced men whose every move and look held a menace. A darting
hand snatched at his fob-seals, but Barnabas smote, swift and hard,
and the three were reduced, for the moment, to two. Thus with his
back to the wall stood Barnabas, fists clenched, grim of mouth, and
with eyes quick and bright; wherefore, beholding him in this posture,
his assailants hesitated. But the diamonds sparkled at them from his
cravat, the bunch of seals gleamed at them from his fob, and the
fallen man having risen, albeit unsteadily, they began to close in
upon him. Then, all at once, even as he poised himself to meet their
rush, a distant voice uttered a sharp, warning cry, whereat the three,
spattering curses, incontinent took to their heels, and were gone
with a thud of flying feet.

For a moment Barnabas stood dazed by the suddenness of it all, then,
stooping to recover hat and cane, glanced about, and saw that he was
in a dirty, narrow street, or rather alley. Now up this alley a man
was approaching, very deliberately, for as he came, he appeared to
be perusing a small book. He was a short, broad-shouldered man, a
mild-faced man of a sober habit of dress, with a broad-brimmed hat
upon his head--a hat higher in the crown than was the custom, and a
remarkably nobbly stick beneath his arm; otherwise, and in all
respects, he was a very ordinary-looking man indeed, and as he walked,
book in hand, might have been some small tradesman busily casting up
his profit and loss, albeit he had a bright and roving eye.

Being come up with Barnabas, he stopped, closed his book upon his
finger, touched the broad rim of his hat, and looked at Barnabas, or
to be exact, at the third left-hand button of his coat.

"Anything stole, sir?" he inquired hopefully.

"No," answered Barnabas, "no, I think not."

"Ah, then you won't be vantin' to mek a charge ag'in 'em, sir?"

"No,--besides, they've escaped."

"Escaped, Lord no, sir, they've only run avay, I can allus put my
'ooks on 'em,--I spotted 'em, d'ye see. And I know 'em, Lord love you!
--like a feyther! They vas Bunty Fagan, Dancin' James, and Vistlin'
Dick, two buzmen an' a prig."

"What do you mean?" inquired Barnabas, beginning to eye the man
askance for all his obtrusive mildness.

"I means two pickpockets and a thief, sir. It vas Vistlin' Dick as
you give such a 'leveller' to,--a rare pretty knock-down I vill say,
sir,--never saw a cleaner--Oh! they're a bad lot, they are,
'specially Vistlin' Dick, an' it's lucky for you as I 'appened to
come this vay."

"Why, do you mean to say," said Barnabas, staring at the mild-faced
man, "do you want me to believe that it was the sight of you that
sent them running?"

"Vell, there veren't nobody else to, as I could see, sir," said the
man, with a gentle smile and shake of the head. "Volks ain't partial
to me in these yere parts, and as to them three, they're a bad lot,
they are, but Vistlin' Dick's the vorst--mark my vords, 'e'll come to
be topped yet."

"What do you mean by 'topped'?"

"V'y, I means scragged, sir," answered the man, his roving eye
glancing continually up and down the alley,

"I means 'anged, sir,--Lord love you, it's in 'is face--never see a
more promising mug, consequent, I 've got Vistlin' Dick down in my
little book 'ere, along vith a lot of other promising vuns."

"But why in your book?"

"Veil, d' ye see, I keeps a record of all the likely coves, Capital
Coves as you might call 'em--" Here the mild man jerked his head
convulsively to one side, rolled up his eyes, and protruded his
tongue, all in hideous pantomime, and was immediately his placid
self again.

"Ah! you mean--hanged?" said Barnabas.

"As ever vas, sir, capital punishment. And I goes round reg'lar jest
to keep an eye on my capital coves. Lord! I vatches over 'em
all--like a feyther. Theer's some volks as collects books, an' some
volks as collects picters an' old coins, but I collects capital
coves,--names and faces. The faces I keeps 'ere," and he tapped his
placid forehead, "the names I keeps 'ere," and he tapped the little
book. "It's my trade d' ye see, and though there's better trades,
still there's trades as is vorse, an' that's summat, ain't it?"

"And what might your trade be?" inquired Barnabas, as they walked on
together along the narrow alley.

"Veil, sir, I'm vot they calls a bashaw of the pigs--but I'm more
than that."

"Pray," said Barnabas, "what do you mean?" For answer the man smiled,
and half drew from his pocket a short staff surmounted by a crown.

"Ah!" said Barnabas, "a Bow Street Runner?"

"And my name is Shrig, sir, Jasper Shrig. You'll have heard it afore,
o'course."

"No!" said Barnabas. Mr. Shrig seemed placidly surprised, and vented
a gentle sigh.

"It's pretty vell known, in London, sir, though it ain't a pretty
name, I'll allow. Ye-es, I've 'eard prettier, but then it's better
than a good many, and that's sum-mat, ain't it? And then, as I said
afore, it's pretty vell known."

"How so?"

"Vell, sir, there be some as 'as a leanin' to one branch o' the
profession, and some to another,--now mine's murders."

"Murders?" said Barnabas, staring.

"Vith a werry big M., sir. V'y, Lord love you, there's been more
murderers took and topped through me than any o' the other traps in
London, it's a nat'ral gift vith me. Ye see, I collects 'em--afore
the fact, as ye might say. I can smell 'em out, feel 'em out, taste
'em out, it's jest a nat'ral gift."

"But--how? What do you mean?"

"I means as I'll be valking along a street, say, looking at every
face as I pass. Vell, all at once I'll spot a cove or covess vith
vot I calls a capital mug, I'll follow that cove or covess, and by
'ook or by crook I'll find out that there cove or covess's name,
and--down it goes in my little book, d' ye see?" and he tapped the
little book.

"But surely," said Barnabas, "surely they don't all prove to be
murderers?"

"Vell no, sir--that's hardly to be expected,--ye see, some on 'em
wanishes away, an' some goes an' dies, but they mostly turns out
true capitals--if I only vaits for 'em long enough, and--up they goes."

"And are you always on the lookout for such faces?"

"Yes, sir,--v'en I ain't busy on some case. A man must 'ave some
little relaxation, and that's mine. Lord love you, sir, scarcely a
day goes by that I don't spot one or two. I calls 'em my children,
an' a werry large, an' a werry mixed lot they are too! Rich an' poor,
men an' women,--rolling in their coaches an' crawling along the
kennel. Aha! if you could look into my little reader an' see the
names o' some o' my most promisin' children they'd as-tonish you.
I've been to 'ave a look at a couple of 'em this mornin'. Aha! it
would a-maze you if you could look into my little reader."

"I should like to," said Barnabas, eyeing the small, shabby book
with a new interest. But Mr. Shrig only blinked his wide, innocent
eyes, and slipping the book into his pocket, led the way round a
sudden corner into another alley narrower than the last, and, if
possible, dirtier.

"Where are we going?" Barnabas demanded, for Mr. Shrig, though
always placid, had suddenly taken on an air that was almost alert,
his bright, roving eye wandered more than ever, and he appeared to
be hearkening to distant sounds. "Where are we going?" repeated
Barnabas.

"Gray's Inn is 'andiest, sir, and I must ask you to step out a bit,
they're a rough crowd as lives 'ereabouts,--scamps an' hunters,
didlers an' cly-fakers, so I must ask you to step out a bit, this is
a bad country for me."

"Bad for you? Why?"

"On account o' windictiveness, sir!"

"Of what?"

"Windictiveness, sir--windictiveness in every shape an' form, but
brick-ends mostly--vith a occasional chimbley-pot."

"I'm afraid I don't understand," Barnabas began.

"Veil then," explained Mr. Shrig as they strode along, "I vere the
means o' four coves bein' topped d' ye see, 'ighvay robbery vith
wiolence,--'bout a month ago, used to live round 'ere, they did, an'
their famblies an' friends is windictive against me accordingly, an'
werry nat'ral too, for 'uman natur' is only 'uman natur', ain't it?
Werry good then. Now their windictiveness,--or as you might say,
'uman natur',--generally takes the shape of chimbley-pots and
brick-ends, though I 'ave met windictiveness in the form o' b'iling
vater and flat-irons, not to mention saucepans an' sich, afore now,
and vunce a arm-cheer, all of vich is apt to vorry you a bit until
you gets used to it. Then there's knives--knives is allus awk'ard,
and bludgeons ain't to be sneezed at, neither. But, Lord! every
perfession and trade 'as its drawbacks, an' there's a sight o'
comfort in that, ain't there?"

All this time the eyes of Mr. Shrig were roving here, wandering there,
now apparently glancing up at the strip of sky between the dingy
house tops, now down at the cobbles beneath their feet; also
Barnabas noticed that his step, all at once, grew slower and more
deliberate, as one who hesitates, uncertain as to whether he shall
go on, or turn back. It was after one of those swift, upward glances,
that Mr. Shrig stopped all at once, seized Barnabas by the middle
and dragged him into an adjacent doorway, as something crashed down
and splintered within a yard of them.

"What now--what is it?" cried Barnabas.

"Win-dictiveness!" sighed Mr. Shrig, shaking his head at the missile,
"a piece o' coping-stone, thirty pound if a ounce--Lord! Keep flat
agin the door sir, same as me, they may try another--I don't think
so--still they may, so keep close ag'in the door. A partic'lar narrer
shave I calls it!" nodded Mr. Shrig; "shook ye a bit sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, wiping his brow.

"Ah well, it shook me--and I'm used to windictiveness. A brick now,"
he mused, his eyes wandering again, "a brick I could ha' took kinder,
bricks an' sich I'm prepared for, but coping-stones--Lord love me!"

"But a brick would have killed you just the same--"

"Killed me? A brick? Oh no, sir!"

"But, if it had hit you on the head--"

"On the 'at sir, the 'at--or as you might say--the castor--this, sir,"
said Mr. Shrig; and glancing furtively up and down the gloomy alley
he took off the broad-brimmed hat; "just run your ogles over this
'ere castor o' mine, an' you'll understand, perhaps."

"It's very heavy," said Barnabas, as he took the hat.

"Ah, it is a bit 'eavyish, sir. Peep inside of it."

"Why," exclaimed Barnabas, "it's lined with--"

"Iron, sir. My own inwention ag'in windictiveness in the shape o'
bricks an' bludgeons, an' werry useful an comfortin' I've found it.
But if they're going to begin on me vith coping-stones,--v'y Lord!"
And Mr. Shrig sighed his gentle sigh, and rubbed his placid brow, and
once more covered it with the "inwention."

"And now sir, you've got a pair o' good, long legs--can ye use 'em?"

"Use them,--yes. Why?"

"Because it's about time as we cut our stick an' run for it."

"What are we to run for?"

"Because they're arter me,--nine on 'em,--consequent they're arter
you too, d' ye see. There's four on 'em be'ind us, an' five on 'em
in front. You can't see 'em because they're layin' low. And they're
bad uns all, an' they means business."

"What--a fight?"

"As ever vas, sir. I've 'ad my eye on 'em some time. That 'ere
coping-stone vas the signal."

"Ha!" said Barnabas, buttoning up his coat.

"Now, are ye ready, sir?"

"Quite!"

"Then keep close be'ind me--go!" With the word Mr. Shrig began to run,
always keeping close beside the wall; indeed he ran so fast and was
so very nimble that Barnabas had some ado to keep up with him. They
had gone but a little distance when five rough looking fellows
started into view further up the alley, completely blocking their
advance, and by the clatter of feet behind, Barnabas knew that their
retreat was cut off, and instinctively he set his teeth, and gripped
his cane more firmly. But on ran Mr. Shrig, keeping close beside the
wall, head low, shoulders back, elbows well in, for all the world as
if he intended to hurl himself upon his assailants in some desperate
hope of breaking through them; but all at once, like a rabbit into
his burrow, he turned short off in mid career, and vanished down a
dark and very narrow entry or passage, and, as Barnabas followed, he
heard, above the vicious thud of footsteps, hoarse cries of anger
and disappointment. Half-way down the passage Mr. Shrig halted
abruptly and turned, as the first of their pursuers appeared.

"This'll do!" he panted, swinging the nobbly stick in his hand,
"can't come on more nor two at vunce. Be ready vith your stick--at
their eyes--poke at 'em--no 'itting--" the rest was drowned in the
echoing rush of heavy feet and the boom of hoarse voices. But now,
seeing their quarry stand on the defensive, the pursuers checked
their advance, their cries sank to growling murmurs, till, with a
fierce shout, one of their number rushed forward brandishing a heavy
stick, whereupon the others followed, and there, in the echoing
dimness, the battle was joined, and waxed furious and grim.

Almost at the first onset the slender cane Barnabas wielded broke
short off, and he was borne staggering back, the centre of a panting,
close-locked, desperate fray. But in that narrow space his
assailants were hampered by their very numbers, and here was small
room for bludgeon-play,--and Barnabas had his fists.

There came a moment of thudding blows, trampling feet, oaths, cries,
--and Barnabas was free, staring dazedly at his broken knuckles. He
heard a sudden shout, a vicious roar, and the Bow Street Runner,
dropping the nobbly stick, tottered weakly and fell,--strove to rise,
was smitten down again, and, in that moment, Barnabas was astride him;
felt the shock of stinging blows, and laughing fierce and short,
leapt in under the blows, every nerve and muscle braced and quivering;
saw a scowling face,--smote it away; caught a bony wrist, wrenched
the bludgeon from the griping fingers, struck and parried and struck
again with untiring arm, felt the press thin out before him as his
assailants gave back, and so, stood panting.

"Run! Run!" whispered Mr. Shrig's voice behind him. "Ve can do it now,
--run!"

"No!" panted Barnabas, wiping the blood from his cheek. "Run!"
cried Mr. Shrig again, "there's a place I knows on close by--ve can
reach it in a jiff--this vay,--run!"

"No!"

"Not run? then v'ot vill ye do?"

"Make them!"

"Are ye mad? Ha!--look out!" Once more the echoing passage roared
with the din of conflict, as their assailants rushed again, were
checked, smote and were smitten, and fell back howling before the
thrust of the nobbly stick and the swing of the heavy bludgeon.

"Now vill ye run?" panted Mr. Shrig, straightening the broad-brimmed
hat.

"No!"

"V'y then, I vill!" which Mr. Shrig immediately proceeded to do.

But the scowl of Barnabas grew only the blacker, his lips but curled
the fiercer, and his fingers tightened their grip upon the bludgeon
as, alone now, he fronted those who remained of the nine.

Now chancing to glance towards a certain spot, he espied something
that lay in the angle of the wall, and, instinctively stooping, he
picked up Mr. Shrig's little book, slipped it into his pocket, felt
a stunning blow, and reeled back, suddenly faint and sick. And now a
mist seemed to envelop him, but in the mist were faces above, below,
around him, faces to be struck at. But his blows grew weak and ever
weaker, the cudgel was torn from his lax grip, he staggered back on
stumbling feet knowing he could fight no more, and felt himself
caught by a mighty arm, saw a face near by, comely and dimpled of
chin, blue-eyed, and with whiskers trimmed into precise little tufts
on either cheek. Thereafter he was aware of faint cries and shouts,
of a rushing patter like rain among leaves, and of a voice speaking
in his ear.

"Right about face,--march! Easy does it! mind me 'ook, sir, the
p'int's oncommon sharp like. By your left--wheel! Now two steps up,
sir--that's it! Now three steps down, easy does it! and 'ere we are.
A cheer, sir, now water and a sponge!"

Here Barnabas, sinking back in the chair, leaned his head against
the wall behind him, and the mist grew more dense, obliterating all
things.



CHAPTER XXXII


OF CORPORAL RICHARD ROE, LATE OF THE GRENADIERS; AND FURTHER
CONCERNING MR. SHRIG'S LITTLE READER

A small, dim chamber, with many glasses and bottles arrayed very
precisely on numerous shelves; a very tall, broad-shouldered man who
smiled down from the rafters while he pulled at a very precise
whisker with his right hand, for his left had been replaced by a
shining steel hook; and Mr. Shrig who shook his placid head as he
leaned upon a long musket whose bayonet twinkled wickedly in the dim
light; all this Barnabas saw as, sighing, he opened his eyes.

"'E's all right now!" nodded the smiling giant.

"Ha!" exclaimed Mr. Shrig, "but vith a lump on 'is 'ead like a negg.
'Run!' I sez. 'No!' sez 'e,--and 'ere's me vith vun eye a-going into
mourning, and 'im vith a lump on 'is nob like a noo-laid egg!"

"'E's game though, Jarsper," said the benevolent giant.

"Game! I believe you, Corp!" nodded Mr. Shrig. "Run!' I sez. 'No!'
sez 'e. 'Then v'ot vill you do?' sez I. 'Make them!' sez 'e. Game?
Lord love me, I should say so!" Here, seeing Barnabas sit upright,
Mr. Shrig laid by the musket and came towards him with his hand out.

"Sir," said he, "when them raskels got me down they meant to do for
me; ah! they'd ha' given me my quietus for good an' all if you
'adn't stood 'em off. Sir, if it ain't too much, I should like to
shake your daddle for that!"

"But you saved my life twice," said Barnabas, clasping the proffered
hand.

"V'y the coping-stone I'll not go for to deny, sir," said Mr. Shrig,
stroking his smooth brow, "but t'other time it were my friend and
pal the Corp 'ere,--Corporal Richard Roe, late Grenadiers. 'E's only
got an 'ook for an 'and, but vith that 'ook 'e's oncommonly 'andy,
and as a veapon it ain't by no means to be sneezed at. No, 'e ain't
none the worse for that 'ook, though they thought so in the army,
and it vere 'im as brought you off v'ile I vos a-chasing of the
enemy vith 'is gun, yonder."

"Why, then I should like to thank Corporal Richard Roe," said
Barnabas,--(here the Corporal tugged at his precise and carefully
trimmed whisker again), "and to shake his hand as well." Here the
giant blushed and extended a huge fist.

"Honored, sir," said he, clicking his heels together.

"And now," said Mr. Shrig, "ve're all a-going to drink--at my
expense."

"No, at mine," said Barnabas.

"Sir," said Mr. Shrig, round and placid of eye, "ven I says a thing
I means it. Consequent you are now a-going to sluice your ivory vith
a glass of the Vun an' Only, at my expense,--you must and you shall."

"Yes," said Barnabas, feeling in his pockets. "I must, my purse is
gone."

"Purse!" exclaimed Mr. Shrig, his innocent eyes rounder than ever,
"gone, sir?"

"Stolen," nodded Barnabas.

"Think o' that now!" sighed Mr. Shrig, "but I ain't surprised, no, I
ain't surprised, and--by Goles!"

"What now?"

"Your cravat-sparkler!--that's wanished too!" Barnabas felt his
rumpled cravat, and nodded. "And your vatch, now--don't tell me as
they 've took--"

"Yes, my watch also," sighed Barnabas.

"A great pity!" said Mr. Shrig, "though it ain't to be vondered
at,--not a bit."

"I valued the watch greatly, because it was given me by a very good
friend," said Barnabas, sighing again.

"Walleyed it, hey?" exclaimed Mr. Shrig, "walleyed it, sir?--v'y then,
'ere it be!" and from a capacious side-pocket he produced Natty
Bell's great watch, seals and all.

"Why--!" exclaimed Barnabas, staring.

"Also your purse, sir,--not forgetting the sparkler." Mr. Shrig
continued, producing each article in turn.

"But--how in the world--?" began Barnabas.

"I took 'em from you v'ile you vos a-lookin' at my castor. Lord love
me, a babe could ha' done it,--let alone a old 'and, like me!"

"Do you mean--?" began Barnabas, and hesitated.

"In my young days, sir," explained Mr. Shrig with his placid smile,
"I vere a champion buzman, ah! and a prime rook at queering the gulls,
too, but I ewentually turned honest all along of a flash, morning-sneak
covess as got 'erself conwerted."

"What do you mean by a morning-sneak covess?"

"I means a area-sneak, sir, as vorks werry early in the morning. A
fine 'andsome gal she vere, and vith nothing of the flash mollisher
about 'er, either, though born on the streets, as ye might say, same
as me. Vell, she gets con-werted, and she's alvays napping 'er bib
over me,--as you'd say, piping 'er eye, d'ye see? vanting me to turn
honest and be con-werted too. 'Turn honest,' says she, 'and ve'll be
married ter-morrow,' says she."

"So you turned honest and married her?" said Barnabas, as Mr. Shrig
paused.

"No, sir, I turned honest and she married a coal-v'ipper, v'ich,
though it did come a bit 'ard on me at first, vos all for the best
in the end, for she deweloped a chaffer,--as you might say, a tongue,
d' ye see, sir, and I'm vun as is fond of a quiet life, v'en I can
get it. Howsomever, I turned honest, and come werry near starving
for the first year, but I kept honest, and I ain't never repented
it--so fur. So, as for the prigs, and scamps, and buzmen, and flash
leary coves, I'm up to all their dodges, 'aving been one of them,
d'ye see. And now," said Mr. Shrig, as the big Corporal having
selected divers bottles from his precise array, took himself off to
concoct a jorum of the One and Only--"now sir, what do you think o'
my pal Corporal Dick?"

"A splendid fellow!" said Barnabas.

"'E is that, sir,--so 'e is,--a giant, eh sir?"

"A giant, yes, and handsome too!" said Barnabas.

"V'y you're a sizable cove yourself, sir," nodded Mr. Shrig,
"but you ain't much alongside my pal the Corp, are you? I'm
nat'rally proud of 'im, d'ye see, for 't were me as saved 'im."

"Saved him from what? How?"

"Me being only a smallish chap myself, I've allus 'ad a 'ankering
arter sizable coves. But I never seen a finer figger of a man than
Corporal Dick--height, six foot six and a quarter, chest,
fifty-eight and a narf, and sir--'e were a-going to drownd it all in
the River, all along o' losing his 'and and being drove out o' the
army, v'ich vould ha' been a great vaste of good material, as ye
might say, seeing as there's so much of 'im. It vas a dark night,
the night I found 'im, vith vind and rain, and there vos me and 'im
a-grappling on the edge of a vharf--leastvays I vere a-holding onto
'is leg, d'ye see--ah, and a mortal 'ard struggle it vere too, and
in the end I didn't save 'im arter all."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean as it vere 'im as saved me, for v'ot vith the vind, and the
rain, and the dark, ve lost our footing and over ve vent into the
River together--down and down till I thought as ve should never come
up again, but ve did, o' course, and then, jest as 'ard as 'e'd
struggled to throw 'imself in, 'e fought to get me out, so it vere
'im as really saved me, d'ye see?"

"No," said Barnabas, "it was you who really saved him."

"V'y, I'm as glad as you think so, sir, only d'ye see, I can't svim,
and it vos 'im as pulled me out. And it all come along of 'im losing
'is 'and--come nigh to breaking 'is 'eart to be discharged, it did."

"Poor fellow!" said Barnabas, "and how did he lose his hand?"

"V'y, I could tell you, or you could read of it in the Gazette--jest
three or four lines o' printing--and they've spelt 'is name wrong at
that, curse 'em! But Corporal Dick can tell you best. Let 'im. 'Ere
'e comes, vith a steaming brew o' the Vun and Only."

And indeed, at this moment the Corporal re-entered, bearing a jug
that gave forth a most enticing and delicious aroma, and upon which
Mr. Shrig cast amorous glances, what time he reached three glasses
from the marshalled array on the shelves.

And now, sitting at the small table that stood in a snug corner
beside the chimney, Mr. Shrig, having filled the three glasses with
all due care, tendered one to Barnabas with the words:

"Jest give that a snuff with your sneezer, sir,--there's perfume,
there's fray-grance for ye! There ain't a man in London as can brew
a glass o' rum-punch like the Corp,--though 'e 'as only got vun 'and.
And now, Corporal Dick, afore ve begin, three steamers."

"Ay, for sure, Jarsper!" said the Corporal; and opening a small
corner cupboard he took thence three new pipes and a paper of tobacco.

"Will you smoke, sir?" he inquired diffidently of Barnabas.

"Thank you, yes, Corporal," said Barnabas, and taking the proffered
pipe he filled and lighted it.

Now when the pipes were in full blast, when the One and Only had
been tasted, and pronounced by Mr. Shrig to be "up to the mark," he
nodded to Corporal Dick with the words:

"Tell our young gent 'ow you lost your 'and, Corp."

But hereupon the Corporal frowned, shuffled his feet, stroked his
trim whiskers with his hook, and finally addressed Barnabas.

"I aren't much of a talker, sir,--and it aren't much of a story, but
if you so wish--"

"I do so wish," said Barnabas heartily.

"Why, very good, sir!" Saying which the Corporal sat up, squared his
mighty shoulders, coughed, and began:

"It was when they Cuirassiers broke our square at Quatre-bras,
sir,--fine fellows those Cuirassiers! They rode into us, through us,
over us,--the square was tottering, and it was 'the colors--rally!'
Ah, sir! the colors means the life or death of a square at such times.
And just then, when horses was a-trampling us and the air full o'
the flash o' French steel, just then I see our colors dip and sway,
and down they went. But still it's 'the colors--rally!' and there's
no colors to rally to; and all the time the square is being cut to
pieces. But I, being nearest, caught up the colors in this here left
hand," here the Corporal raised his gleaming hook, "but a Cuirassier,
'e caught them too, and there's him at one end o' the staff and me
at t'other, pulling and hauling, and then--all at once he'd got 'em.
And because why? Because I hadn't got no left 'and to 'old with. But
I'd got my right, and in my right was 'Brown Bess' there," and the
Corporal pointed to the long musket in the corner. "My bayonet was
gone, and there weren't no time to reload, so--I used the butt. Then
I picked up the colors again and 'eld 'em high over my head, for the
smoke were pretty thick, and, 'To the colors,' I shouted,' Rally,
lads, rally!' And oh, by the Lord, sir,--to hear our lads cheer! And
so the square formed up again--what was left of it--formed up close
and true round me and the colors, and the last thing I mind was the
cheering. Ah! they was fine fellows, they Cuirassiers!"

"So that vere the end o' the Corp's soldiering!" nodded Mr. Shrig.

"Yes," sighed the Corporal, "a one-handed soldier ain't much good,
ye see, sir."

"So they--throwed 'im out!" snarled Mr. Shrig.

"Now Jarsper," smiled the giant, shaking his head. "Why so 'ard
 on the sarvice? They give me m' stripe."

"And your dis-charge!" added Mr. Shrig.

"And a--pension," said the soldier.

"Pension," sniffed Mr. Shrig, "a fine, large vord, Dick, as means
werry little to you!"

"And they mentioned me in the Gazette, Jarsper," said the Corporal
looking very sheepish, and stroking his whisker again with his hook.

"And a lot o' good that done you, didn't it? Your 'eart vos broke
the night I found you--down by the River."

"Why, I did feel as I weren't much good, Jarsper, I'll admit. You see,
I 'adn't my hook then, sir. But I think I'd ha' give my other
'and--ah! that I would--to ha' been allowed to march on wi' the
rest o' the lads to Waterloo."

"So you vos a-going to throw yerself into the River!"

"I were, Jarsper, should ha' done it but for you, comrade."

"But you didn't do it, so later on ve took this 'ere place."

"You did, Jarsper--"

"Ve took it together, Dick. And werry vell you're a-doing vith it,
for both of us."

"I do my best, Jarsper."

"V'ich couldn't be bettered, Dick. Then look how you 'elp me vith my
cases."

"Do I, Jarsper?" said the Corporal, his blue eyes shining.

"That you do, Dick. And now I've got another case as I'm a-vaiting
for,--a extra-special Capital case it is too!"

"Another murder, Jarsper?"

"Ah, a murder, Dick,--a murder as ain't been committed yet, a murder
as I'm expecting to come off in--say a month, from information
received this 'ere werry arternoon. A murder, Dick, as is going to
be done by a capital cove as I spotted over a month ago. Now v'ot I
'm going to tell you is betwixt us--private and confidential and--"
But here Barnabas pushed back his chair.

"Then perhaps I had better be going?" said he.

"Going, sir? and for v'y?"

"That you may be more private, and talk more freely."

"Sir," said Mr. Shrig. "I knows v'en to speak and v'en not. My eyes
tells me who I can trust and who not. And, sir, I've took to you,
and so's the Corp,--ain't you, Dick?"

"Yes, sir," said the giant diffidently.

"Sir," pursued Mr. Shrig, "you're a Nob, I know, a Corinthian by
your looks, a Buck, sir, a Dash, a 'eavy Toddler, but also, I takes
the liberty o' telling you as you're only a man, arter all, like the
rest on us, and it's that man as I'm a-talking to. Now v'en a man
'as stood up for me, shed 'is good blood for me, I makes that man my
pal, and my pal I allus trusts."

"And you shall find me worthy of your confidence," said Barnabas,
"and there's my hand on it, though, indeed, you hardly know
me--really."

"More than you think, sir. Besides, it ain't v'ot a cove tells me
about 'imself as matters, nor v'ot other coves tell me about a cove,
as matters, it's v'ot a cove carries in 'is face as I goes by,--the
cock of 'is eye, an' all the rest of it. And then, I knows as your
name's Barnabas Barty--"

"Barty!--you know that?" exclaimed Barnabas, starting,--"how--how in
the world did you find out?"

"Took the liberty to look at your vatch, sir."

"Watch!" said Barnabas, drawing it from his fob, "what do you mean?"

"Give it 'ere, and I'll show ye, sir." So saying, Mr. Shrig took the
great timepiece and, opening the back, handed it to Barnabas. And
there, in the cavity between the two cases was a very small folded
paper, and upon this paper, in Natty Bell's handwriting, these words:

  "To my dear lad Barnabas Barty, hoping that he may prove
  as fine a gentleman as he is--a man."

Having read this, Barnabas folded the paper very gently, and putting
it back, closed the watch, and slipped it into his fob.

"And now," said Mr. Shrig, exhaling a vast cloud of smoke, "afore I
go on to tell you about this 'ere murder as I'm a-vaiting for, I
must show ye my little reader." Here Mr. Shrig thrust a hand into
his pocket,--then his pipe shivered to fragments on the stone floor
and he started up, mouth agape and eyes staring.

"Lord, Jarsper!" cried the Corporal, "what is it, comrade?"

"It's gone, Dick!" he gasped, "my little reader's been stole."

But now, even as he turned towards the door, Barnabas laid a
detaining hand upon his arm.

"Not stolen--lost!" said he, "and indeed, I'm not at all surprised!"
Here Barnabas smiled his quick, bright smile.

"Sir--sir?" stammered Mr. Shrig, "oh, Pal, d'ye mean--?"

"That I found it, yes," said Barnabas, "and here it is."

Mr. Shrig took his little book, opened it, closed it, thrust it into
his pocket, and took it out again.

"Sir," said he, catching Barnabas by the hand, "this here little
book is more to me nor gold or rubies. Sir, you are my pal,--and
consequent the Corp's also, and this 'ere chaffing-crib is allus
open to you. And if ever you want a man at your back--I'm your man,
and v'en not me--there's my pal Dick, ain't there, Di--"

Mr. Shrig stopped suddenly and stood with his head to one side as
one that listens. And thus, upon the stillness came the sound of one
who strode along the narrow passage-way outside, whistling as he went.

"'Sally in our Alley,' I think?" said Mr. Shrig.

"Yes," said Barnabas, wondering.

"V'ich means as I'm vanted, ah!--and vanted precious qvick too,"
saying which, Mr. Shrig caught up his "castor," seized the nobbly
stick, crossed to the door, and came back again.

"Dick," said he, "I'll get you to look after my little reader for me,
--I ain't a-going to risk losing it again."

"Right you are, Jarsper," nodded the Corporal.

"And sir," continued Mr. Shrig, turning towards Barnabas with the
book in his hand, "you said, I think, as you'd like to see what I'd
got inside o' this 'ere.--If so be you're in the same mind about it,
why--'ere it is." And Mr. Shrig laid the little book on the table
before Barnabas. "And v'ot's more, any time as you're passing, drop
in to the 'Gun,' and drink a glass o' the Vun and Only vith Dick and
me." So Mr. Shrig nodded, unlocked the door, shut it very gently
behind him, and his footsteps died away along the echoing passage.

Then, while the Corporal puffed at his long pipe, Barnabas opened
the little book, and turning the pages haphazard presently came to
one where, painfully written in a neat, round hand, he read this:

                            CAPITAL COVES

                            EXTRA-SPECIALS
  ___________________________________________________________________
  |Name.                  |When      |Date of |Sentence.  |Date of   |
  |                       |spotted.  |Murder. |           |Execution.|
  | ______________________| _________|________| __________|__________|
  |James Aston (Porter)   |Feb. 2    |March 30|Hanged     |April 5   |
  |Digbeth Andover (Gent) |March 3   |April 28|Transported|May 5     |
  |John Barnes (Sailor)   |March 10  |Waiting |Waiting    |Waiting   |
  |Sir Richard Brock(Bart)|April 5   |May 3   |Hanged     |May 30    |
  |Thomas Beal (Tinker)   |March 23  |April 15|Hanged     |May 30    |
  |_______________________|__________|________|___________|__________|

There were many such names all carefully set down in alphabetical
order, and Barnabas read them through with perfunctory interest.
But--half-way down the list of B's his glance was suddenly arrested,
his hands clenched themselves, and he grew rigid in his
chair--staring wide-eyed at a certain name. In a while he closed the
little book, yet sat there very still, gazing at nothing in
particular, until the voice of the Corporal roused him somewhat.

"A wonderful man, my comrade Jarsper, sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas absently.

"Though he wouldn't ha' passed as a Grenadier,--not being tall enough,
you see."

"No," said Barnabas, his gaze still fixed.

"But as a trap, sir,--as a limb o' the law, he ain't to be
ekalled--nowheres nor nohow."

"No," said Barnabas, rising.

"What? are you off, sir--must you march?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, taking up his hat, "yes, I must go."

"'Olborn way, sir?"

"Yes."

"Why then--foller me, sir,--front door takes you into Gray's Inn
Lane--by your left turn and 'Olborn lays straight afore you,--this
way, sir." But, being come to the front door of the "Gun," Barnabas
paused upon the threshold, lost in abstraction again, and staring at
nothing in particular while the big Corporal watched him with a
growing uneasiness.

"Is it your 'ead, sir?" he inquired suddenly.

"Head?" repeated Barnabas.

"Not troubling you, is it, sir?"

"No,--oh no, thank you," answered Barnabas, and stretched out his
hand. "Good-by, Corporal, I'm glad to have met you, and the One and
Only was excellent."

"Thankee, sir. I hope as you'll do me and my comrade the honor to
try it again--frequent. Good-by, sir." But standing to watch
Barnabas as he went, the Corporal shook his head and muttered to
himself, for Barnabas walked with a dragging step, and his chin upon
his breast.

Holborn was still full of the stir and bustle, the rush and roar of
thronging humanity, but now Barnabas was blind and deaf to it all,
for wherever he looked he seemed to see the page of Mr. Shrig's
little book with its list of carefully  written  names,--those
names  beginning  with B.--thus:

  _________________________________________________________
  |Name.        |When    |Date       |Sentence.|Date of   |
  |             |spotted.|of Murder. |         |Execution.|
  |_____________|________|___________|_________|__________|
  |Sir Richard  |        |           |         |          |
  |Brock (Bart.)|April 5 |   May 3   | Hanged  |  May 30  |
  |_____________|________|___________|_________|__________|
  |Thomas Beal  |        |           |         |          |
  |(Tinker)     |March 23|  April 15 | Hanged  |  May 30  |
  |_____________|________|___________|_________|__________|
  |Ronald       |        |           |         |          |
  |Barrymaine   | May 12 |  Waiting  | Waiting |  Waiting |
  |_____________|________|___________|_________|__________|



CHAPTER XXXIII


CONCERNING THE DUTY OF FATHERS; MORE ESPECIALLY THE VISCOUNT'S
"ROMAN"

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon that Barnabas knocked at
the door of the Viscount's chambers in Half-moon Street and was duly
admitted by a dignified, albeit somewhat mournful gentleman in blue
and silver, who, after a moment of sighing hesitancy, ushered him
into a small reception room where sat a bullet-headed man with one
eye and a remarkably bristly chin, a sinister looking person who
stared very hard with his one eye, and sucked very hard, with much
apparent relish and gusto, at the knob of the stick he carried. At
sight of this man the mournful gentleman averted his head, and
vented a sound which, despite his impressive dignity, greatly
resembled a sniff, and, bowing to Barnabas, betook himself upstairs
to announce the visitor. Hereupon the one-eyed man having surveyed
Barnabas from head to foot with his solitary orb, drew the knob of
his stick from his mouth, dried it upon his sleeve, looked at it,
gave it a final rub, and spoke.

"Sir," said he in a jovial voice that belied his sinister aspect,
"did you 'ear that rainbow sniff?"

"Rainbow?" said Barnabas.

"Well,--wallet, then,--footman--the ornamental cove as jest popped
you in 'ere. Makes one 'undred and eleven of 'em!"

"One hundred and eleven what?"

"Sniffs, sir,--s-n-i-double-f-s! I've took the trouble to count 'em,
--nothing else to do. I ain't got a word out of 'im yet, an' I've
been sittin' 'ere ever since eight o'clock s'mornin'. I'm a
conwivial cock, I am,--a sociable cove, yes, sir, a s-o-s-h-able
cove as ever wore a pair o' boots. Wot I sez is,--though a bum, why
not a sociable bum, and try to make things nice and pleasant, and I
does my best, give you my word! But Lord! all my efforts is wasted
on that 'ere rainbow--nothing but sniffs!"

"Why then--who--what are you?"

"I'm Perks and Condy, wines and sperrits,--eighty-five pound,
eighteen, three--that's me, sir."

"Do you mean that you are--in possession--here?"

"Just that, sir,--ever since eight o'clock s'morning--and nothing
but sniffs--so fur." Here the bullet-headed man nodded and eyed the
knob of his stick hungrily. But at this moment the door opened, and
the dignified (though mournful) gentleman appeared, and informed
Barnabas (with a sigh) that "his Lordship begged Mr. Beverley would
walk upstairs."

Upstairs accordingly Barnabas stepped, and guided by a merry
whistling, pushed open a certain door, and so found the Viscount
busily engaged in the manufacture of a paper dart, composed of a
sheet of the Gazette, in the midst of which occupation he paused to
grip Barnabas by the hand.

"Delighted to see you, Bev," said he heartily, "pray sit down, my
dear fellow--sit anywhere--no, not there--that's the toast, deuce
take it! Oh, never mind a chair, bed'll do, eh? Yes, I'm rather
late this morning, Bev,--but then I was so late last night that I
was devilish early, and I'm making up for it,--must have steady
nerves for the fifteenth, you know. Ah, and that reminds me!" Here
the Viscount took up his unfinished dart and sighed over it.
"I'm suffering from a rather sharp attack of Romanism, my dear fellow,
my Honored Parent has been at it again, Bev, and then, I dropped two
hundred pounds in Jermyn Street last night."

"Dropped it! Do you mean you lost it, or were you robbed?" inquired
Barnabas the Simple. Now when he said this, the Viscount stared at
him incredulously, but, meeting the clear gaze of the candid gray
eyes, he smiled all at once and shook his head.

"Gad!" he exclaimed, "what a strange fellow you are, Bev. And yet I
wouldn't have you altered, no, damme! you're too refreshing. You ask
me 'did I lose it, or was I robbed?' I answer you,--both, my dear
fellow. It was a case of sharps and flats, and--I was the flat."

"Ah,--you mean gambling, Dick?"

"Gambling, Bev,--at a hell in Jermyn Street."

"Two hundred pounds is a great deal of money to lose at cards," said
Barnabas, shaking his head gravely.

"Humph!" murmured the Viscount, busied upon his paper dart again,
"you should congratulate me, I think, that it was no more,--might
just as easily have been two thousand, you see, indeed I wonder it
wasn't. Egad! the more I think of it, the more fortunate I consider
myself. Yes, I certainly think you should congratulate me. Now--watch
me hit Sling!" and the Viscount poised his completed dart.

"Captain Slingsby--here?" exclaimed Barnabas, glancing about.

"Under the settee, yonder," nodded the Viscount, "wrapped up in the
table-cloth."

"Table-cloth!" repeated Barnabas.

"By way of military cloak," explained the Viscount. "You see--Sling
was rather--mellow, last night, and--at such times he always imagines
he's campaigning again--insists upon sleeping on the floor."

Now, looking where the Viscount pointed, Barnabas espied the touzled
head of Captain Slingsby of the Guards protruding from beneath the
settee, and reposing upon a cushion. The Captain's features were
serene, and his breathing soft and regular, albeit deepening, ever
and anon, into a gentle snore.

"Poor old Sling!" said the Viscount, leaning forward the better to
aim his missile, "in two hours' time he must go and face the Ogre,
--poor old Sling! Now watch me hit him!" So saying Viscount Devenham
launched his paper dart which, gliding gracefully through the air,
buried its point in the Captain's whisker, whereupon that warrior,
murmuring plaintively, turned over and fell once more gently
a-snoring.

"Talking about the Ogre--" began the Viscount.

"You mean--Jasper Gaunt?" Barnabas inquired.

"Precisely, dear fellow, and, talking of him, did you happen to
notice a--fellow, hanging about downstairs,--a bristly being with
one eye, Bev?"

"Yes, Dick."

"Ha!" said the Viscount nodding, "and talking of him, brings me back
to my Honored Roman--thus, Bev. Chancing to find myself
in--ha--hum--a little difficulty, a--let us say--financial tightness,
Bev. I immediately thought of my father, which,--under the
circumstances was, I think, very natural--and filial, my dear fellow.
I said to myself, here is a man, the author of my being, who, though
confoundedly Roman, is still my father, and, as such, owes certain
duties to his son, sacred duties, Bev, not to be lightly esteemed,
blinked, or set aside,--eh, Bev?"

"Undoubtedly!" said Barnabas.

"I, therefore, ventured to send him a letter, post-haste, gently
reminding him of those same duties, and acquainting him with
my--ah--needy situation,--which was also very natural, I think."

"Certainly!" said Barnabas, smiling.

"But--would you believe it, my dear fellow, he wrote, or rather,
indited me an epistle, or, I should say, indictment, in his most
Roman manner which--but egad! I'll read it to you, I have it here
somewhere." And the Viscount began to rummage among the bedclothes,
to feel and fumble under pillow and bolster, and eventually dragged
forth a woefully crumpled document which he smoothed out upon his
knees, and from which he began to read as follows:

  MY DEAR HORATIO.

"As soon as I saw that' t--i--o,' Bev, I knew it was no go. Had it
been merely a--c--e I should have nourished hopes, but the 't--i--o'
slew 'em--killed 'em stone dead and prepared me for a screed in my
Honored Roman's best style, bristling with the Divine Right of
Fathers, and, Bev--I got it. Listen:"

  Upon reading your long and very eloquent letter, I was surprised
  to learn, firstly, that you required money, and secondly to observe
  that you committed only four solecisms in spelling,

("Gives  me one  at  the  very beginning, you'll notice,
Bev.")

  As regards the money, you will, I am sure, be amazed, nay astounded,
  to learn that you have already exceeded your allowance by some five
  hundred pounds--

("So I was, Bev, begad--I thought it was eight.")

  As regards your spelling--

("Ah! here he leads again with his left, and gets one in,--low,
Bev, low!")

  As regards your spelling, as you know, I admire originality in
  all things; but it has, hitherto, been universally conceded that the
  word "eliminate" shall not and cannot begin with the letters i-l-l!
  "Vanquish" does not need a k. "Apathy" is spelled with but one p--
  while never before have I beheld "anguish" with a w.

("Now, Bev, that's what I call coming it a bit too strong!" sighed
the Viscount, shaking his head; "'anguish' is anguish however you
spell it! And, as for the others, let me tell you when a fellow has
a one-eyed being with bristles hanging about his place, he isn't
likely to be over particular as to his p's and q's, no, damme! Let's
see, where were we? ah! here it is,--'anguish' with a 'w'!")

  I quite agree with your remarks, viz. that a father's duties to
  his son are sacred and holy--

("This is where I counter, Bev, very neatly,--listen! He quite
agrees that,--")

  --a father's duties to his son are sacred and holy, and not to be
  lightly esteemed, blinked, or set aside--

("Aha! had him there, Bev,--inside his guard, eh?")

  I also appreciate, and heartily endorse your statement that it is
  to his father that a son should naturally turn for help--

("Had him again--a leveller that time, egad!")

  naturally turn for help, but, when the son is constantly turning,
  then, surely, the father may occasionally turn too, like the worm.
  The simile, though unpleasant, is yet strikingly apt.

("Hum! there he counters me and gets one back, I suppose, Bev? Oh,
I'll admit the old boy is as neat and quick with his pen as he used
to be with his hands. He ends like this:")

  I rejoice to hear that you are well in health, and pray that,
  despite the forthcoming steeplechase, dangerous as I hear it is, you
  may so continue. Upon this head I am naturally somewhat anxious,
  since I possess only one son. And I further pray that, wilfully
  reckless though he is, he may yet be spared to be worthy of the name
  that will be his when I shall have risen beyond it.

  BAMBOROUGH AND REVELSDEN.

The Viscount sighed, and folded up his father's letter rather
carefully.

"He's a deuced old Roman, of course," said he, "and yet--!" Here the
Viscount turned, and slipped the letter back under his pillow with a
hand grown suddenly gentle. "But there you are, Bev! Not a word about
money,--so downstairs Bristles must continue to sit until--"

"If," said Barnabas diffidently, "if you would allow me to lend--"

"No, no, Bev--though I swear it's uncommon good of you. But really I
couldn't allow it. Besides, Jerningham owes me something, I believe,
at least, if he doesn't he did, and it's all one anyway. I sent the
Imp over to him an hour ago; he'll let me have it, I know. Though I
thank you none the less, my dear fellow, on my soul I do! But--oh
deuce take me--you've nothing to drink! what will you take--?"

"Nothing, thanks, Dick. As a matter of fact, I came to ask you a
favor--"

"Granted, my dear fellow!"

"I want you to ask Captain Slingsby to introduce me to Jasper Gaunt."

"Ah?" said the Viscount, coming to his elbow, "you mean on behalf of
that--"

"Of Barrymaine, yes."

"It's--it's utterly preposterous!" fumed the Viscount.

"So you said before, Dick."

"You mean to--go on with it?"

"Of course!"

"You are still determined to befriend a--"

"More than ever, Dick."

"For--Her sake?"

"For Her sake. Yes, Dick," said Barnabas, beginning to frown a little.
"I mean to free him from Gaunt, and rescue him from Chichester--if I
can."

"But Chichester is about the only friend he has left, Bev."

"On the contrary, I think Chichester is his worst enemy."

"But--my dear fellow! Chichester is the only one who has stood by
him in his disgrace, though why, I can't imagine."

"I think I can tell you the reason, and in one word," said Barnabas,
his face growing blacker.

"Well, Bev,--what is it?"

"Cleone!" The Viscount started.

"What,--you think--? Oh, impossible! The fellow would never have a
chance, she despises him, I know."

"And fears him too, Dick."

"Fears him? Gad! what do you mean, Bev?"

"I mean that, unworthy though he may be, she idolizes her brother."

"Half-brother, Bev."

"And for his sake, would sacrifice her fortune,--ah! and herself!"

"Well?"

"Well, Dick, Chichester knows this, and is laying his plans
accordingly."

"How?"

"He's teaching Barrymaine to drink, for one thing--"

"He didn't need much teaching, Bev."

"Then, he has got him in his power,--somehow or other, anyhow,
Barrymaine fears him, I know. When the time comes, Chichester means
to reach the sister through her love for her brother, and--before he
shall do that, Dick--" Barnabas threw up his head and clenched his
fists.

"Well, Bev?"

"I'll--kill him, Dick."

"You mean--fight him, of course?"

"It would be all one," said Barnabas grimly.

"And how do you propose to--go about the matter--to save Barrymaine?"

"I shall pay off his debts, first of all."

"And then?"

"Take him away with me."

"When?"

"To-morrow, if possible--the sooner the better."

"And give up the race, Bev?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, sighing, "even that if need be."

Here the Viscount lay back among his pillows and stared up at the
tester of the bed, and his gaze was still directed thitherwards when
he spoke:

"And you would do all this--"

"For--Her sake," said Barnabas softly, "besides, I promised, Dick."

"And you have seen her--only once, Bev!"

"Twice, Dick."

Again there was silence while the Viscount stared up at the tester
and Barnabas frowned down at the clenched fist on his knee.

"Gad!" said the Viscount suddenly, "Gad, Beverley, what a deuced
determined fellow you are!"

"You see--I love her, Dick."

"And by the Lord, Bev, shall I tell you what I begin to think?"

"Yes, Dick."

"Well, I begin to think that in spite of--er--me, and hum--all the
rest of 'em, in spite of everything--herself included, if need be,
--you'll win her yet."

"And shall I tell you what I begin to think, Dick?"

"Yes."

"I begin to think that you have never--loved her at all."

"Eh?" cried the Viscount, starting up very suddenly, "what?--never
lov--oh, Gad, Beverley! what the deuce should make you think that?"

"Clemency!" said Barnabas.

The Viscount stared, opened his mouth, shut it, ran his fingers
through his hair, and fell flat upon his pillows again.

"So now," said Barnabas the persistent, "now you know why I am so
anxious to meet Jasper Gaunt."

"Gaunt!" said the Viscount dreamily, "Gaunt!"

"Captain Slingsby has to see him this afternoon,--at least so you
said, and I was wondering--"

"Slingsby! Oh, egad I forgot! so he has,--curricle's ordered for
half-past three. Will you oblige me by prodding him with your cane,
Bev? Don't be afraid,--poke away, my dear fellow, Sling takes a
devil of a lot of waking."

Thus admonished, Barnabas presently succeeded in arousing the
somnolent Slingsby, who, lifting a drowsy head, blinked sleepily,
and demanded in an injured tone:

"Wha' the dooce it was all about, b'gad?" Then having yawned
prodigiously and come somewhat to himself, he proceeded to crawl
from under the settee, when, catching sight of Barnabas, he sprang
lightly to his feet and greeted him cordially.

"Ah, Beverley!" he cried,--"how goes it? Glad you woke me--was
having a devil of a dream. Thought the 'Rascal' had strained his
'off' fore-leg, and was out of the race! What damnable things dreams
are, b'gad!"

"My dear Sling," said the Viscount, "it is exactly a quarter past
three."

"Oh, is it, b'gad! Well?"

"And at four o'clock I believe you have an appointment with Gaunt."

"Gaunt!" repeated the Captain, starting, and Barnabas saw all the
light and animation die out of his face, "Gaunt,--yes, I--b'gad!--I
'd forgotten, Devenham."

"You ordered your curricle for half-past three, didn't you?"

"Yes, and I've no time to bathe--ought to shave, though, and oh,
damme,--look at my cravat!"

"You'll find everything you need in my dressing-room, Sling."

The Captain nodded his thanks, and forthwith vanished into the
adjacent chamber, whence he was to be heard at his ablutions,
puffing and blowing, grampus-like. To whom thus the Viscount,
raising his voice: "Oh, by the way, Sling, Beverley wants to go with
you." Here the Captain stopped, as it seemed in the very middle of a
puff, and when he spoke it was in a tone of hoarse incredulity:

"Eh,--b'gad, what's that?"

"He wants you to introduce him to Jasper Gaunt."

Here a sudden explosive exclamation, and, thereafter, the Captain
appeared as in the act of drying himself, his red face glowing from
between the folds of the towel while he stared from the Viscount to
Barnabas with round eyes.

"What!" he exclaimed at last, "you, too, Beverley! Poor devil, have
you come to it--and so soon?"

"No," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "I wish to see him on behalf
of another--"

"Eh? Another? Oh--!"

"On behalf of Mr. Ronald Barrymaine."

"Of Barrym--" Here the Captain suddenly fell to towelling himself
violently, stopped to stare at Barnabas again, gave himself another
futile rub or two, and, finally, dropped the towel altogether.
"On behalf of--oh b'gad!" he exclaimed, and incontinent vanished
into the dressing-room. But, almost immediately he was back again,
this time wielding a shaving brush. "Wish to see--Gaunt, do you?" he
inquired.

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"And," said the Captain, staring very hard at the shaving brush,
"not--on your own account?"

"No," answered Barnabas.

"But on behalf--I think you said--of--"

"Of Ronald Barrymaine," said Barnabas.

"Oh!" murmured the Captain, and vanished again. But now Barnabas
followed him.

"Have you any objection to my going with you?" he inquired.

"Not in the least," answered the Captain, making hideous faces at
himself in the mirror as he shaved, "oh, no--delighted, 'pon my soul,
b'gad--only--"

"Well?"

"Only, if it's time you're going to ask for--it's no go, my
boy--hard-fisted old rasper, you know the saying,--(Bible, I think),
figs, b'gad, and thistles, bread from stones, but no mercy from
Jasper Gaunt."

"I don't seek his mercy," said Barnabas.

"Why, then, my dear Beverley--ha! there's Jenk come up to say the
curricle's at the door."

Sure enough, at the moment, the Viscount's gentleman presented
himself to announce the fact, albeit mournfully and with a sigh. He
was about to bow himself out again when the Viscount stayed him with
an upraised finger.

"Jenkins," said he, "my very good Jenk!"

"Yes, m'lud?" said Jenkins.

"Is the person with the--ah--bristles--still downstairs?"

"He is, m'lud," said Jenkins, with another sigh.

"Then tell him to possess his soul in patience, Jenk,--for I fear he
will remain there a long, long time."



CHAPTER XXXIV


OF THE LUCK OF CAPTAIN SLINGSBY, OF THE GUARDS

"You don't mind if we--drive about a bit, do you, Beverley?"

"Not in the least."

"I--er--I generally go the longest way round when I have to call on--"

"On Gaunt?"

"Yes."

Now as they went, Barnabas noticed that a change had come over his
companion, his voice had lost much of its jovial ring, his eye its
sparkle, while his ruddy cheeks were paler than their wont; moreover
he was very silent, and sat with bent head and with his square
shoulders slouched dejectedly. Therefore Barnabas must needs cast
about for some means of rousing him from this depression.

"You drive a very handsome turnout," said he at last.

"It is neat, isn't it?" nodded Slingsby, his eye brightening.

"Very!" said Barnabas, "and the horses--"

"Horses!" cried the Captain, almost himself again, "ha,
b'gad--there's action for you--and blood too! I was a year matching
'em. Cost me eight hundred guineas--and cheap at the money--but--"

"Well?"

"After all, Beverley, they--aren't mine, you see."

"Not yours?"

"No. They're--his!"

"You mean--Gaunt's?"

The Captain nodded gloomily.

"Yes," said he, "my horses are his, my curricle's his, my clothes
are his--everything's his. So am I, b'gad! Oh, you needn't look so
infernal incredulous--fact, I assure you. And, when you come to
think of it--it's all cursed humorous, isn't it?" and here the
Captain contrived to laugh, though it rang very hollow, to be sure.

"You owe--a great deal then?" said Barnabas.

"Owe?" said the Captain, turning to look at him, "I'm in up to my
neck, and getting deeper. Owe! B'gad, Beverley--I believe you!" But
now, at sight of gravefaced Barnabas, he laughed again, and this
time it sounded less ghoul-like. "Debt is a habit," he continued
sententiously, "that grows on one most damnably, and creditors are
the most annoying people in the world--so confoundedly unreasonable!
Of course I pay 'em--now and then--deserving cases, y' know. Fellow
called on me t' other day,--seemed to know his face. 'Who are you?'
says I. 'I'm the man who makes your whips, sir,' says he. 'And
devilish good whips too!' says I, 'how much do I owe you?' 'Fifteen
pounds, sir,' says he, 'I wouldn't bother you only'--well, it
seemed his wife was sick--fellow actually blubbered! So of course I
rang for my rascal Danby, Danby's my valet, y' know. 'Have you any
money, Danby?' says I. 'No sir,' says he; queer thing, but Danby
never has, although I pay him regularly--devilish improvident fellow,
Danby! So I went out and unearthed Jerningham--and paid the fellow
on the spot--only right, y' know."

"But why not pay your debts with your own money?" Barnabas inquired.

"For the very good reason that it all went,--ages ago!"

"Why, then," said Barnabas, "earn more."

"Eh?" said the Captain, staring, "earn it? My dear Beverley, I never
earned anything in my life, except my beggarly pay, and that isn't
enough even for my cravats."

"Well, why not begin?"

"Begin? To earn money? How?"

"You might work," suggested Barnabas.

"Work?" repeated the Captain, starting, "eh, what? Oh, I see, you're
joking, of course,--deuced quaint, b'gad!"

"No, I'm very serious," said Barnabas thoughtfully.

"Are you though! But what the deuce kind of work d'you suppose I'm
fit for?"

"All men can work!" said Barnabas, more thoughtfully than before.

"Well,--I can ride, and shoot, and drive a coach with any one."

"Anything more?"

"No,--not that I can think of."

"Have you never tried to work, then,--hard work, I mean?"

"Oh Lord, no! Besides, I've always been too busy, y'know. I've never
had to work. Y' see, as luck would have it, I was born a gentleman,
Beverley."

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, more thoughtful than ever, "but--what is a
gentleman?"

"A gentleman? Why--let me think!" said the Captain, manoeuvring his
horses skilfully as they swung into the Strand.

And when he had thought as far as the Savoy he spoke:

"A gentleman," said he, "is a fellow who goes to a university, but
doesn't have to learn anything; who goes out into the world, but
doesn't have to--work at anything; and who has never been
blackballed at any of the clubs. I've done a good many things in my
time, but I've never had to work."

"That is a great pity!" sighed Barnabas.

"Oh! is it, b'gad! And why?"

"Because hard work ennobles a man," said Barnabas.

"Always heard it was a deuce of a bore!" murmured the Captain.

"Exertion," Barnabas continued, growing a little didactic perhaps,
"exertion is--life. By idleness come degeneration and death."

"Sounds cursed unpleasant, b'gad!" said the Captain.

"The work a man does lives on after him," Barnabas continued,
"it is his monument when he is no more, far better than your
high-sounding epitaphs and stately tombs, yes, even though it be
only the furrow he has ploughed, or the earth his spade has turned."

"But,--my dear fellow, you surely wouldn't suggest that I should
take up--digging?"

"You might do worse," said Barnabas, "but--"

"Ha!" said the Captain, "well now, supposing I was a--deuced good
digger,--a regular rasper, b'gad! I don't know what a digger earns,
but let's be moderate and say five or six pounds a week. Well, what
the deuce good d'you suppose that would be to me? Why, I still owe
Gaunt, as far as I can figure it up, about eighty thousand pounds,
which is a deuced lot more than it sounds. I should have been
rotting in the Fleet, or the Marshalsea, years ago if it hadn't been
for my uncle's gout, b'gad!"

"His gout?"

"Precisely! Every twinge he has--up goes my credit. I'm his only heir,
y'know, and he's seventy-one. At present he's as sound as a bell,
--actually rode to hounds last week, b'gad! Consequently my
credit's--nowhere. Jolly old boy, though--deuced fond of him--ha!
there's Haynes! Over yonder! Fellow driving the phaeton with the
black-a-moor in the rumble."

"You mean the man in the bright green coat?"

"Yes. Call him 'Pea-green Haynes'--one of your second-rate, ultra
dandies. Twig his vasty whiskers, will you! Takes his fellow hours
to curl 'em. And then his cravat, b'gad!"

"How does he turn his head?" inquired Barnabas.

"Never does,--can't! I lost a devilish lot to him at hazard a few
years ago--crippled me, y' know. But talking of my uncle--devilish
fond of him--always was."

"But mark you, Beverley, a man has no right--no business to go
on living after he's seventy, at least, it shows deuced bad
taste, I think--so thoughtless, y'know. Hallo! why there's Ball
Hughes--driving the chocolate-colored coach, and got up like a
regular jarvey. Devilish rich, y'know--call him 'The Golden
Ball'--deuce of a fellow! Pitch and toss, or whist at five pound
points, damme! Won small fortune from Petersham at battledore and
shuttlecock,--played all night too."

"And have you lost to him also?"

"Of course?"

"Do you ever win?"

"Oh, well--now and then, y'know, though I'm generally unlucky. Must
have been under--Aldeboran, is it?--anyhow, some cursed star or other.
Been dogged by ill-luck from my cradle, b'gad! On the turf, in the
clubs and bells, even in the Peninsular!"

"So you fought in the Peninsular?"

"Oh, yes."

"And did you gamble there too?"

"Naturally--whenever I could."

"And did you lose?"

"Generally. Everything's been against me, y'know--even my size."

"How so?"

"Well, there was a fellow in the Eighty-eighth, name of Crichton.
I'd lost to him pretty heavily while we were before Ciudad Rodrigo.
The night before the storming--we both happened to have volunteered,
y'know--'Crichton,' says I, 'I'll go you double or quits I'm into
the town to-morrow before you are.' 'Done!' says he. Well, we
advanced to the attack about dawn, about four hundred of us. The
breach was wide enough to drive a battery through, but the enemy had
thrown up a breast-work and fortified it during the night. But up we
went at the 'double,' Crichton and I in front, you may be sure. As
soon as the Frenchies opened fire, I began to run,--so did Crichton,
but being longer in the leg, I was at the breach first, and began to
scramble over the débris. Crichton was a little fellow, y' know, but
game all through, and active as a cat, and b'gad, presently above
the roar and din, I could hear him panting close behind me. Up we
went, nearer and nearer, with our fellows about a hundred yards in
our rear, clambering after us and cheering as they came. I was close
upon the confounded breastwork when I took a musket-ball through my
leg, and over I went like a shot rabbit, b'gad! Just then Crichton
panted up. 'Hurt?' says he. 'Only my leg,' says I, 'go on, and good
luck to you.' 'Devilish rough on you, Sling!' says he, and on he went.
But he'd only gone about a couple of yards when he threw up his arms
and pitched over on his face. 'Poor Crichton's done for!' says I to
myself, and made shift to crawl over to him. But b'gad! he saw me
coming, and began to crawl too. So there we were, on our hands and
knees, crawling up towards the Frenchies as hard as we could go. My
leg was deuced--uncomfortable, y' know, but I put on a spurt, and
managed to draw level with him. 'Hallo, Sling!' says he, 'here's
where you win, for I'm done!' and over he goes again. 'So am I, for
that matter,' says I--which was only the truth, Beverley. So b'gad,
there we lay, side by side, till up came our fellows, yelling like
fiends, past us and over us, and charged the breastwork with the
bayonet,--and carried it too! Presently, up came two stragglers,--a
corporal of the Eighty-eighth  and a  sergeant of 'Ours.' 'Hi,
Corporal,' yells Crichton, 'ten pounds if you can get me over the
breastwork--quick's the word!' 'Sergeant,' says I, 'twenty pounds if
you get me over first.' Well, down went the Corporal's musket and the
Sergeant's pike, and on to their backs we scrambled--a deuced
painful business for both of us, I give you my word, Beverley. So we
began our race again--mounted this time. But it was devilish bad
going, and though the Sergeant did his best, I came in a very bad
second. You see, I'm no light weight, and Crichton was."

"You lost, then?"

"Oh, of course, even my size is against me, you see." Hereupon, once
more, and very suddenly, the Captain relapsed into his gloomy mood,
nor could Barnabas dispel it; his efforts were rewarded only by
monosyllables until, swinging round into a short and rather narrow
street, he brought his horses to a walk.

"Here we are, Beverley!"

"Where?" Barnabas inquired.

"Kirby Street,--his street. And there's the house,--his house," and
Captain Slingsby pointed his whip at a high, flat-fronted house. It
was a repellent-looking place with an iron railing before it, and
beyond this railing a deep and narrow area, where a flight of damp
steps led down to a gloomy door. The street was seemingly a quiet one,
and, at this hour, deserted save for themselves and a solitary man
who stood with his back to them upon the opposite side of the way,
apparently lost in profound thought. A very tall man he was, and
very upright, despite the long white hair that showed beneath his hat,
which, like his clothes, was old and shabby, and Barnabas noticed
that his feet were bare. This man Captain Slingsby incontinent
hailed in his characteristic fashion.

"Hi,--you over there!" he called. "Hallo!" The man never stirred.
"Oho! b'gad, are you deaf? Just come over here and hold my horses
for me, will you?" The man raised his head suddenly and turned. So
quickly did he turn that the countless gleaming buttons that he wore
upon his coat rang a jingling chime. Now, looking upon this strange
figure, Barnabas started up, and springing from the curricle,
crossed the street and looked upon the man with a smile.

"Have you forgotten me?" said Barnabas. The man smiled in turn, and
sweeping off the weather-beaten hat, saluted him with an old-time
bow of elaborate grace.

"Sir." he answered in his deep, rich voice, "Billy Button never
forgets--faces. You are Barnaby Bright--Barnabas, 't is all the same.
Sir, Billy Button salutes you."

"Why, then," said Barnabas, rather diffidently, seeing the other's
grave dignity, "will you oblige me by--by holding my friend's horses?
They are rather high-spirited and nervous."

"Nervous, sir? Ah, then they need me. Billy Button shall sing to them,
horses love music, and, like trees, are excellent listeners."
Forthwith Billy Button crossed the street with his long, stately
stride, and taking the leader's bridle, fell to soothing the horses
with soft words, and to patting them with gentle, knowing hands.

"B'gad!" exclaimed the Captain, staring, "that fellow has been used
to horses--once upon a time. Poor devil!" As he spoke he glanced
from Billy Button's naked feet and threadbare clothes to his own
glossy Hessians and immaculate garments, and Barnabas saw him wince
as he turned towards the door of Jasper Gaunt's house. Now when
Barnabas would have followed, Billy Button caught him suddenly by
the sleeve.

"You are not going--there?" he whispered, frowning and nodding
towards the house.

"Yes."

"Don't!" he whispered, "don't! An evil place, a place of, sin and
shadows, of sorrow, and tears, and black despair. Ah, an evil place!
No place for Barnaby Bright."

"I must," said Barnabas.

"So say they all. Youth goes in, and leaves his youth behind; men go
in, and leave all strength and hope behind; age goes in, and creeps
out--to a grave. Hear me, Barnaby Bright. There is one within there
already marked for destruction. Death follows at his heel, for evil
begetteth evil, and the sword, the sword. He is already doomed.
Listen,--blood! I've seen it upon the door yonder,--a bloody hand! I
know, for They have told me--They--the Wise Ones. And so I come here,
sometimes by day, sometimes by night, and I watch--I watch. But this
is no place for you,--'t is the grave of youth, don't go--don't go!"

"I must," repeated Barnabas, "for another's sake."

"Then must the blighting shadow fall upon you, too,--ah, yes, I know.
Oh, Barnaby,--Barnaby Bright!"

Here, roused by the Captain's voice, rather hoarser than usual,
Barnabas turned and saw that the door of the house was open, and
that Captain Slingsby stood waiting for him with a slender,
youthful-seeming person who smiled; a pale-faced, youngish man, with
colorless hair, and eyes so very pale as to be almost imperceptible
in the pallor of his face. Now, even as the door closed, Barnabas
could hear Billy Button singing softly to the horses.



CHAPTER XXXV


HOW BARNABAS MET JASPER GAUNT, AND WHAT CAME OF IT

Barnabas followed the Captain along a somewhat gloomy hall, up a
narrow and winding staircase, and here, halfway up, was a small
landing with an alcove where stood a tall, wizen-faced clock with
skeleton hands and a loud, insistent, very deliberate tick; so, up
more stairs to another hall, also somewhat gloomy, and a door which
the pale-eyed, smiling person obligingly opened, and, having ushered
them into a handsomely furnished chamber, disappeared. The Captain
crossed to the hearth, and standing before the empty grate, put up
his hand and loosened his high stock with suddenly petulant fingers,
rather as though he found some difficulty in breathing; and, looking
at him, Barnabas saw that the debonair Slingsby had vanished quite;
in his place was another--a much older man, haggard of eye, with a
face peaked, and gray, and careworn beneath the brim of the jaunty
hat.

"My dear Beverley," said he, staring down into the empty grate,
"if you 're ever in need--if you're ever reduced to--destitution,
then, in heaven's name, go quietly away and--starve! Deuced
unpleasant, of course, but it's--sooner over, b'gad!"

At this moment the smiling person reappeared at a different door,
and uttered the words:

"Captain Slingsby,--if _you_ please." Hereupon the Captain visibly
braced himself, squared his shoulders, took off his hat, crossed the
room in a couple of strides, and Barnabas was alone.

Now as he sat there waiting, he gradually became aware of a sound
that stole upon the quiet, a soft, low sound, exactly what he could
not define, nevertheless it greatly perturbed him. Therefore he rose,
and approaching that part of the room whence it proceeded, he saw
another door. And then, all at once, as he stood before this door,
he knew what the sound was, and why it had so distressed him; and,
even as the knowledge came, he opened the door and stepped into the
room beyond.

And this is what he saw:

A bare little room, or office; the pale, smiling gentleman, who
lounged in a cushioned chair, a comb in one hand, and in the other a
small pocket mirror, by the aid of which he was attending to a
diminutive tuft of flaxen whisker; and a woman, in threadbare
garments, who crouched upon a bench beside the opposite wall, her
face bowed upon her hands, her whole frame shaken by great,
heart-broken, gasping sobs,--a sound full of misery, and of
desolation unutterable.

At the opening of the door, the pale gentleman started and turned,
and the woman looked up with eyes swollen and inflamed by weeping.

"Sir," said the pale gentleman, speaking softly, yet in the tone of
one used to command, "may I ask what this intrusion means?" Now as
he looked into the speaker's pallid eyes, Barnabas saw that he was
much older than he had thought. He had laid aside the comb and mirror,
and now rose in a leisurely manner, and his smile was more
unpleasant than ever as he faced Barnabas.

"This place is private, sir--you understand, private, sir. May I
suggest that you--go, that you--leave us?" As he uttered the last
two words, he thrust out his head and jaw in a very ugly manner,
therefore Barnabas turned and addressed himself to the woman.

"Pray, madam," said he, "tell me your trouble; what is the matter?"
But the woman only wrung her hands together, and stared with great,
frightened eyes at the colorless man, who now advanced, smiling still,
and tapped Barnabas smartly on the shoulder.

"The trouble is her own, sir, the matter is--entirely a private one,"
said he, fixing Barnabas with his pale stare, "I repeat, sir,--a
private one. May I, therefore, suggest that you withdraw--at once?"

"As often as you please, sir," retorted Barnabas,
bowing.

"Ah!" sighed the man, thrusting out his head again, "and what do you
want--here?"

"First, is your name Jasper Gaunt?"

"No; but it is as well known as his--better to a great many."

"And your name is--?"

"Quigly."

"Then, Mr. Quigly, pray be seated while I learn this poor creature's
sorrow."

"I think--yes, I think you'd better go," said Mr. Quigly,--"ah,
yes--and at once, or--"

"Or?" said Barnabas, smiling and clenching his fists.

"Or it will be the worse--for you--"

"Yes?"

"And for your friend the Captain."

"Yes?"

"And you will give this woman more reason for her tears!"

Then, looking from the pale, threatening eyes, and smiling lips of
the man, to the trembling fear of the weeping woman, and remembering
Slingsby's deathly cheek and shaking hand, a sudden, great anger
came upon Barnabas; his long arm shot out and, pinning Mr. Quigly by
the cravat, he shook him to and fro in a paroxysm of fury. Twice he
raised his cane to strike, twice he lowered it, and finally loosing
his grip, Mr. Quigly staggered back to the opposite wall, and leaned
there, panting.

Hereupon Barnabas, somewhat shocked at his own loss of self-restraint,
re-settled his cuff, straightened his cravat, and, when he spoke,
was more polite than ever.

"Mr. Quigly, pray sit down," said he; "I have no wish to thrash you,--it
would be a pity to spoil my cane, so--oblige me by sitting down."

Mr. Quigly opened his mouth as if to speak, but, glancing at Barnabas,
thought better of it; yet his eyes grew so pale that they seemed all
whites as he sank into the chair.

"And now," said Barnabas, turning to the crouching woman, "I don't
think Mr. Quigly will interrupt us again, you may freely tell your
trouble--if you will."

"Oh, sir,--it's my husband! He's been in prison a whole year, and
now--now he's dying--they've killed him. It was fifty pounds a year
ago. I saved, and scraped, and worked day and night, and a month
ago--I brought the fifty pounds. But then--Oh, my God!--then they
told me I must find twenty more--interest, they called it. Twenty
pounds! why, it would take me months and months to earn so much,
--and my husband was dying!--dying! But, sir, I went away despairing.
Then I grew wild,--desperate--yes, desperate--oh, believe it, sir,
and I,--I--Ah, sir--what won't a desperate woman do for one she loves?
And so I--trod shameful ways! To-day I brought the twenty pounds,
and now--dear God! now they say it must be twenty-three. Three
pounds more, and I have no more--and I can't--Oh, I--can't go back
to it again--the shame and horror--I--can't, sir!" So she covered
her face again, and shook with the bitter passion of her woe.

And, after a while, Barnabas found voice, though his voice was very
hoarse and uneven.

"I think," said he slowly, "yes, I think my cane could not have a
worthier end than splintering on your villain's back, Mr. Quigly."

But, even as Barnabas advanced with very evident purpose, a tall
figure stood framed in the open doorway.

"Ah, Quigly,--pray what is all this?" a chill, incisive voice
demanded. Barnabas turned, and lowering the cane, stood looking
curiously at the speaker. A tall, slender man he was, with a face
that might have been any age,--a mask-like face, smooth and long,
and devoid of hair as it was of wrinkles; an arresting face, with
its curving nostrils, thin-lipped, close-shut mouth, high, prominent
brow, and small, piercingly-bright eyes; quick eyes, that glinted
between their red-rimmed, hairless lids, old in their experience of
men and the ways of men. For the rest, he was clad in a rich yet
sober habit, unrelieved by any color save for the gleaming seals at
his fob, and the snowy lace at throat and wrist; his hair--evidently
a wig--curled low on either cheek, and his hands were well cared for,
with long, prehensile fingers.

"You are Jasper Gaunt, I think?" said Barnabas at last.

"At your service, sir, and you, I know, are Mr. Barnabas Beverley."

So they stood, fronting each other, the Youth, unconquered as yet,
and therefore indomitable, and the Man, with glittering eyes old in
their experience of men and the ways of men.

"You wished to see me on a matter of business, Mr. Beverley?"

"Yes."

"Then pray step this way."

"No," said Barnabas, "first I require your signature to this lady's
papers."

Jasper Gaunt smiled, and shrugged his shoulders slightly.

"Such clients as this, sir,--I leave entirely to Mr. Quigly."

"Then, in this instance, sir, you will perhaps favor me by giving
the matter your personal attention!"

Jasper Gaunt hesitated, observed the glowing eye, flushed cheek,
and firm-set lips of the speaker, and being wise in men and their
ways,--bowed.

"To oblige you, Mr. Beverley, with pleasure. Though I understand
from Mr. Quigly that she is unable to meet--"

"Seventy-eight pounds, sir! She can pay it all--every blood-stained,
tear-soaked farthing. She should meet it were it double--treble the
sum!" said Barnabas, opening his purse.

"Ah, indeed, I see! I see!" nodded Jasper Gaunt. "Take the money,
Quigly, I will make out the receipt. If you desire, you shall see me
sign it, Mr. Beverley." So saying, he crossed to the desk, wrote the
document, and handed it to Barnabas, with a bow that was almost
ironical.

Then Barnabas gave the precious paper into the woman's eager fingers,
and looked down into the woman's shining eyes.

"Sir," said she between trembling lips, "I cannot thank you,--I--I
cannot. But God sees, and He will surely repay."

"Indeed," stammered Barnabas, "I--it was only three pounds, after all,
and--there,--go,--hurry away to your husband, and--ah! that reminds
me,--he will want help, perhaps!" Here Barnabas took out his card,
and thrust it into her hand. "Take that to my house, ask to see my
Steward, Mr. Peterby,--stay, I'll write the name for you, he will
look after you, and--good-by!"

"It is a truly pleasant thing to meet with heartfelt gratitude, sir,"
said Jasper Gaunt, as the door closed behind the woman. "And now I
am entirely at your service,--this way, sir."

Forthwith Barnabas followed him into another room, where sat the
Captain, his long legs stretched out before him, his chin on his
breast, staring away at vacancy.

"Sir," said Jasper Gaunt, glancing from Barnabas to the Captain and
back again, "he will not trouble us, I think, but if you wish him to
withdraw--?"

"Thank you--no," answered Barnabas, "Captain Slingsby is my friend!"
Jasper Gaunt bowed, and seated himself at his desk opposite Barnabas.
His face was in shadow, for the blind had been half-drawn to exclude
the glare of the afternoon sun, and he sat, or rather lolled, in a
low, deeply cushioned chair, studying Barnabas with his eyes that
were so bright and so very knowing in the ways of mankind; very
still he sat, and very quiet, waiting for Barnabas to begin. Now on
the wall, immediately behind him, was a long, keen-bladed dagger,
that glittered evilly where the light caught it; and as he sat there
so very quiet and still, with his face in the shadow, it seemed to
Barnabas as though he lolled there dead, with the dagger smitten
sideways through his throat, and in that moment Barnabas fancied he
could hear the deliberate tick-tock of the wizen-faced clock upon
the stairs.

"I have come," began Barnabas at last, withdrawing his eyes from the
glittering steel with an effort, "I am here on behalf of one--in
whom I take an interest--a great interest."

"Yes, Mr. Beverley?"

"I have undertaken to--liquidate his debts."

"Yes, Mr. Beverley."

"To pay--whatever he may owe, both principal and interest."

"Indeed, Mr. Beverley! And--his name?"

"His name is Ronald Barrymaine."

"Ronald--Barrymaine!" There was a pause between the words, and the
smooth, soft voice had suddenly grown so harsh, so deep and vibrant,
that it seemed incredible the words could have proceeded from the
lips of the motionless figure lolling in the chair with his face in
the shadow and the knife glittering behind him.

"I have made out to you a draft for more than enough, as I judge, to
cover Mr. Barrymaine's liabilities."

"For how much, sir?"

"Twenty-two thousand pounds."

Then Jasper Gaunt stirred, sighed, and leaned forward in his chair.

"A handsome sum, sir,--a very handsome sum, but--" and he smiled and
shook his head.

"Pray what do you mean by 'but'?" demanded Barnabas.

"That the sum is--inadequate, sir."

"Twenty-two thousand pounds is not enough then?"

"It is--not enough, Mr. Beverley."

"Then, if you will tell me the precise amount, I will make up the
deficiency." But, here again, Jasper Gaunt smiled his slow smile and
shook his head.

"That, I grieve to say, is quite impossible, Mr. Beverley."

"Why?"

"Because I make it a rule never to divulge my clients' affairs to a
third party; and, sir,--I never break my rules."

"Then--you refuse to tell me?"

"It is--quite impossible."

So there fell a silence while the wide, fearless eyes of Youth
looked into the narrow, watchful eyes of Experience. Then Barnabas
rose, and began to pace to and fro across the luxurious carpet; he
walked with his head bent, and the hands behind his back were
tightly clenched. Suddenly he stopped, and throwing up his head faced
Jasper Gaunt, who sat lolling back in his chair again.

"I have heard," said he, "that this sum was twenty thousand pounds,
but, as you say, it may be more,--a few pounds more, or a few
hundreds more."

"Precisely, Mr. Beverley."

"I am, therefore, going to make you an offer--"

"Which I must--refuse."

"And my offer is this: instead of twenty thousand pounds I will
double the sum."

Jasper Gaunt's lolling figure grew slowly rigid, and leaning across
the desk, he stared up at Barnabas under his hairless brows. Even
Captain Slingsby stirred and lifted his heavy head.

"Forty thousand pounds!" said Jasper Gaunt, speaking almost in a
whisper.

"Yes," said Barnabas, and sitting down, he folded his arms a little
ostentatiously. Jasper Gaunt's head drooped, and he stared down at
the papers on the desk before him, nor did he move, only his long,
white fingers began to tap softly upon his chair-arms, one after the
other.

"I will pay you forty thousand pounds," said Barnabas. Then, all in
one movement as it seemed, Gaunt had risen and turned to the window,
and stood there awhile with his back to the room.

"Well?" inquired Barnabas at last.

"I--cannot, sir."

"You mean--will not!" said Barnabas, clenching his fists.

"Cannot, sir." As Gaunt turned, Barnabas rose and approached him
until barely a yard separated them, until he could look into the
eyes that glittered between their hairless lids, very like the
cruel-looking dagger on the wall.

"Very well," said Barnabas, "then I'll treble it. I'll pay you sixty
thousand pounds! What do you say? Come--speak!" But now, the eyes so
keen and sharp to read men and the ways of men wavered and fell
before the indomitable steadfastness of unconquered Youth; the long,
white hands beneath their ruffles seemed to writhe with griping,
contorted fingers, while upon his temple was something that
glittered a moment, rolled down his cheek, and so was gone.

"Speak!" said Barnabas.

Yet still no answer came, only Jasper Gaunt sank down in his chair
with his elbows on the desk, his long, white face clasped between
his long, white hands, staring into vacancy; but now his smooth brow
was furrowed, his narrow eyes were narrower yet, and his thin lips
moved as though he had whispered to himself "sixty thousand pounds!"

"Sir,--for the last time--do you accept?" demanded Barnabas.

Without glancing up, or even altering the direction of his vacant
stare, and with his face still framed between his hands, Jasper
Gaunt shook his head from side to side, once, twice, and thrice; a
gesture there was no mistaking.

Then Barnabas fell back a step, with clenched fist upraised, but in
that moment the Captain was before him and had caught his arm.

"By Gad, Beverley!" he exclaimed in a shaken voice, "are you mad?"

"No," said Barnabas, "but I came here to buy those bills, and buy
them I will! If trebling it isn't enough, then--"

"Ah!" cried Slingsby, pointing to the usurer's distorted face,
"can't you see? Don't you guess? He can't sell! No money-lender of
'em all could resist such an offer. I tell you he daren't sell, the
bills aren't his! Come away--"

"Not his!" cried Barnabas, "then whose?"

"God knows! But it's true,--look at him!"

"Tell me," cried Barnabas, striving to see Gaunt's averted eyes,
"tell me who holds these bills,--if you have one spark of
generosity--tell me!"

But Jasper Gaunt gave no sign, only the writhing fingers crept
across his face, over staring eyes and twitching lips.

So, presently, Barnabas suffered Captain Slingsby to lead him from
the room, and down the somewhat dark and winding stair, past the
wizen-faced clock, out into the street already full of the glow of
evening.

"It's a wonder to me," said the Captain, "yes, it's a great wonder
to me, that nobody has happened to kill Gaunt before now."

So the Captain frowned, sighed, and climbed up to his seat. But,
when Barnabas would have followed, Billy Button touched him on the
arm.

"Oh, Barnaby!" said he, "oh, Barnaby Bright, look--the day is dying,
the shadows are coming,--in a little while it will be night. But, oh
Youth, alas! alas! I can see the shadows have touched you already!"
And so, with a quick upflung glance at the dismal house, he turned,
waved his hand, and sped away on noiseless feet, and so was gone.



CHAPTER XXXVI


OF AN ETHICAL DISCUSSION, WHICH THE READER IS ADVISED TO SKIP

Oho! for the rush of wind in the hair, for the rolling thunder of
galloping hoofs, now echoing on the hard, white road, now muffled in
dewy grass.

Oho! for the horse and his rider and the glory of them; for the long,
swinging stride that makes nothing of distance, for the tireless
spring of the powerful loins, for the masterful hand on the bridle,
strong, yet gentle as a caress, for the firm seat--the balance and
sway that is an aid to speed, and proves the born rider. And what
horse should this be but Four-legs, his black coat glossy and
shining in the sun, his great, round hoofs spurning the flying earth,
all a-quiver with high courage, with life and the joy of it? And who
should be the rider but young Barnabas?

He rides with his hat in his whip-hand, that he may feel the wind,
and with never a look behind, for birds are carolling from the cool
freshness of dewy wood and copse, in every hedge and tree the young
sun has set a myriad gems flashing and sparkling; while, out of the
green distance ahead, Love is calling; brooks babble of it, birds
sing of it, the very leaves find each a small, soft voice to whisper
of it.

So away--away rides Barnabas by village green and lonely cot, past
hedge and gate and barn, up hill and down hill,--away from the dirt
and noise of London, away from its joys and sorrows, its splendors
and its miseries, and from the oncoming, engulfing shadow. Spur and
gallop, Barnabas,--ride, youth, ride! for the shadow has already
touched you, even as the madman said.

Therefore while youth yet abides, while the sun yet shines,--ride,
Barnabas, ride!

Now as he went, Barnabas presently espied a leafy by-lane, and
across this lane a fence had been erected,--a high fence, but with a
fair "take-off" and consequently, a most inviting fence. At this,
forthwith, Barnabas rode, steadied Four-legs in his stride, touched
him with the spur, and cleared it with a foot to spare. Then, all at
once, he drew rein and paced over the dewy grass to where, beneath
the hedge, was a solitary man who knelt before a fire of twigs
fanning it to a blaze with his wide-eaved hat.

He was a slender man, and something stooping of shoulder, and his
hair shone silver-white in the sunshine. Hearing Barnabas approach,
he looked up, rose to his feet, and so stood staring as one in doubt.
Therefore Barnabas uncovered his head and saluted him with grave
politeness.

"Sir," said he, reining in his great horse, "you have not forgotten
me, I hope?"

"No indeed, young sir," answered the Apostle of Peace, with a
dawning smile of welcome. "But you are dressed very differently from
what I remember. The quiet, country youth has become lost, and
transfigured into the dashing Corinthian. What a vast difference
clothes can make in one! And yet your face is the same, your
expression unchanged. London has not altered you yet, and I hope it
never may. No, sir, your face is not one to be forgotten,--indeed it
reminds me of other days."

"But we have only met once before," said Barnabas.

"True! And yet I seem to have known you years ago,--that is what
puzzles me! But come, young sir,--if you have time and inclination
to share a vagrant's breakfast, I can offer you eggs and new milk,
and bread and butter,--simple fare, but more wholesome than your
French ragouts and highly-seasoned dishes."

"You are very kind," said Barnabas, "the ride has made me hungry,
--besides, I should like to talk with you."

"Why, then--light down from that great horse of yours, and join me.
The grass must be both chair and table, but here is a tree for your
back, and the bank for mine."

So, having dismounted and secured his horse's bridle to a convenient
branch, Barnabas sat himself down with his back to the tree, and
accepted the wandering Preacher's bounty as freely as it was offered.
And when the Preacher had spoken a short grace, they began to eat,
and while they ate, to talk, as follows:

_Barnabas_.  "It is three weeks, I think, since we met?"

_The Preacher_. "A month, young sir."

_Barnabas_. "So long a time?"

_The Preacher_. "So short a time. You have been busy, I take it?"

_Barnabas_. "Yes, sir. Since last we met I have bought a house and set
up an establishment in London, and I have also had the good fortune
to be entered for the Gentleman's Steeplechase on the fifteenth."

_The Preacher_.  "You are rich, young sir?"

_Barnabas_. "And I hope to be famous also."

_The Preacher_. "Then indeed do I begin to tremble for you."

_Barnabas_ (staring).  "Why so?"

_The Preacher_. "Because wealth is apt to paralyze effort, and Fame is
generally harder to bear, and far more dangerous, than failure."

_Barnabas_.  "How dangerous, sir?"

_The Preacher_. "Because he who listens too often to the applause of
the multitude grows deaf to the voice of Inspiration, for it is a
very small, soft voice, and must be hearkened for, and some call it
Genius, and some the Voice of God--"

_Barnabas_. "But Fame means Power, and I would succeed for the sake of
others beside myself. Yes,--I must succeed, and, as I think you once
said, all things are possible to us! Pray, what did you mean?"

_The Preacher_.  "Young sir, into each of us who are born into this
world God puts something of Himself, and by reason of this Divine
part, all things are possible."

_Barnabas_. "Yet the world is full of failures."

_The Preacher_. "Alas! yes; but only because men do not realize power
within them. For man is a selfish creature, and Self is always
grossly blind. But let a man look within himself, let him but become
convinced of this Divine power, and the sure and certain knowledge
of ultimate success will be his. So, striving diligently, this power
shall grow within him, and by and by he shall achieve great things,
and the world proclaim him a Genius."

_Barnabas_. "Then--all men might succeed."

_The Preacher_. "Assuredly! for success is the common heritage of Man.
It is only Self, blind, ignorant Self, who is the coward, crying 'I
cannot! I dare not! It is impossible!'"

_Barnabas_. "What do you mean by 'Self'?"

_The Preacher_. "I mean the grosser part, the slave that panders to
the body, a slave that, left unchecked, may grow into a tyrant, a
Circe, changing Man to brute."

Here Barnabas, having finished his bread and butter, very
thoughtfully cut himself another slice.

_Barnabas_ (still thoughtful). "And do you still go about preaching
Forgetfulness of Self, sir?"

_The Preacher_. "And Forgiveness, yes. A good theme, young sir,
but--very unpopular. Men prefer to dwell upon the wrongs done them,
rather than cherish the memory of benefits conferred. But,
nevertheless, I go up and down the ways, preaching always."

_Barnabas_. "Why, then, I take it, your search is still unsuccessful."

_The Preacher_. "Quite! Sometimes a fear comes upon me that she may be
beyond my reach--"

_Barnabas_. "You mean--?"

_The Preacher_. "Dead, sir. At such times, things grow very black
until I remember that God is a just God, and therein lies my sure
and certain hope. But I would not trouble you with my griefs, young
sir, more especially on such a glorious morning,--hark to the
throstle yonder, he surely sings of Life and Hope. So, if you will,
pray tell me of yourself, young sir, of your hopes and ambitions."

_Barnabas_. "My ambitions, sir, are many, but first,--I would be a
gentleman."

_The Preacher_ (nodding). "Good! So far as it goes, the ambition is a
laudable one."

_Barnabas_ (staring thoughtfully at his bread and butter). "The first
difficulty is to know precisely what a gentleman should be. Pray, sir,
what is your definition?"

_The Preacher_. "A gentleman, young sir, is (I take it) one born with
the Godlike capacity to think and feel for others, irrespective of
their rank or condition."

_Barnabas_. "Hum! One who is unselfish?"

_The Preacher_. "One who possesses an ideal so lofty, a mind so
delicate, that it lifts him above all things ignoble and base, yet
strengthens his hands to raise those who are fallen--no matter how
low. This, I think, is to be truly a gentleman, and of all gentle
men Jesus of Nazareth was the first."

_Barnabas_ (shaking his head). "And yet, sir, I remember a whip of
small cords."

_The Preacher_. "Truly, for Evil sometimes so deadens the soul that it
can feel only through the flesh."

_Barnabas_. "Then--a man may fight and yet be a gentleman?"

_The Preacher_. "He who can forgive, can fight."

_Barnabas_. "Sir, I am relieved to know that. But must Forgiveness
always come after?"

_The Preacher_. "If the evil is truly repented of."

_Barnabas_. "Even though the evil remain?"

_The Preacher_. "Ay, young sir, for then Forgiveness becomes truly
divine."

_Barnabas_. "Hum!"

_The Preacher_. "But you eat nothing, young sir."

_Barnabas_. "I was thinking."

_The Preacher_. "Of what?"

_Barnabas_. "Sir, my thought embraced you."

_The Preacher_. "How, young sir?"

_Barnabas_. "I was wondering if you had ever heard of a man named
Chichester?"

_The Preacher_ (speaking brokenly, and in a whisper). "Sir!--young
sir,--you said--?"

_Barnabas_ (rising). "Chichester!"

_The Preacher_ (coming to his knees). "Sir,--oh, sir,--this
man--Chichester is he who stole away--my daughter,--who blasted her
honor and my life,--who--"

_Barnabas_.    "No!"

_The Preacher_ (covering his face). "Yes,--yes! God help me, it's true!
But in her shame I love her still, oh, my pride is dead long ago. I
remember only that I am her father, with all a father's loving pity,
and that she--"

_Barnabas_. "And that she is the stainless maid she always was--"

"Sir," cried the Preacher, "oh, sir,--what do you mean?" and
Barnabas saw the thin hands clasp and wring themselves, even as he
remembered Clemency's had done.

"I mean," answered Barnabas, "that she fled from pollution, and
found refuge among honest folk. I mean that she is alive and well,
that she lives but to bless your arms and feel a father's kiss of
forgiveness. If you would find her, go to the 'Spotted Cow,' near
Frittenden, and ask for 'Clemency'!"

"Clemency!" repeated the Preacher, "Clemency means mercy. And she
called herself--Clemency!" Then, with a sudden, rapturous gesture,
he lifted his thin hands, and with his eyes upturned to the blue
heaven, spoke.

"Oh, God!" he cried, "Oh, Father of Mercy, I thank Thee!" And so he
arose from his knees, and turning about, set off through the golden
morning towards Frittenden, and Clemency.



CHAPTER XXXVII


IN WHICH THE BO'SUN DISCOURSES ON LOVE AND ITS SYMPTOMS

Oho! for the warmth and splendor of the mid-day sun; for the dance
and flurry of leafy shadows on the sward; for stilly wayside pools
whose waters, deep and dark in the shade of overhanging boughs, are
yet dappled here and there with glory; for merry brooks leaping
and laughing along their stony beds; for darkling copse and sunny
upland,--oho! for youth and life and the joy of it.

To the eyes of Barnabas, the beauty of the world about him served
only to remind him of the beauty of her who was compounded of all
things beautiful,--the One and Only Woman, whose hair was yellow
like the ripening corn, whose eyes were deep and blue as the infinite
heaven, whose lips were red as the poppies that bloomed beside the
way, and whose body was warm with youth, and soft and white as the
billowy clouds above.

Thus on galloped Barnabas with the dust behind and the white road
before, and with never a thought of London, or its wonders, or the
gathering shadow.

It was well past noon when he beheld a certain lonely church where
many a green mound and mossy headstone marked the resting-place of
those that sleep awhile. And here, beside the weather-worn porch,
were the stocks, that "place of thought" where Viscount Devenham had
sat in solitary, though dignified meditation. A glance, a smile, and
Barnabas was past, and galloping down the hill towards where the
village nestled in the valley. Before the inn he dismounted, and,
having seen Four-legs well bestowed, and given various directions to
a certain sleepy-voiced ostler, he entered the inn, and calling for
dinner, ate it with huge relish. Now, when he had done, came the
landlord to smoke a pipe with him,--a red-faced man, vast of paunch
and garrulous of tongue.

"Fine doin's there be up at t' great 'ouse, sir," he began.

"You mean Annersley House?"

"Ay, sir. All the quality is there,--my son's a groom there an' 'e
told me, so 'e did. Theer ain't nobody as ain't either a Markus or a
Earl or a Vi'count, and as for Barry-nets, they're as thick as flies,
they are,--an' all to meet a little, old 'ooman as don't come up to
my shoulder! But then--she's a Duchess, an' that makes all the
difference!"

"Yes, of course," said Barnabas.

"A little old 'ooman wi' curls, as don't come no-wise near so 'igh
as my shoulder! Druv up to that theer very door as you see theer, in
'er great coach an' four, she did,--orders the steps to be lowered,
--comes tapping into this 'ere very room with 'er little cane, she do,
--sits down in that theer very chair as you're a-sittin' in, she do,
fannin' 'erself with a little fan--an' calls for--now, what d' ye
suppose, sir?"

"I haven't the least idea."

"She calls, sir,--though you won't believe me, it aren't to be
expected,--no, not on my affer-daver,--she being a Duchess, ye see--"

"Well, what did she call for?" inquired Barnabas, rising.

"Sir, she called for--on my solemn oath it's true--though I don't ax
ye to believe me, mind,--she sat in that theer identical chair,--an'
mark me, 'er a Duchess,--she sat in that cheer, a-fannin' 'erself
with 'er little fan, an' calls for a 'arf of Kentish ale--'Westerham
brew,' says she; an' 'er a Duchess! In a tankard! But I know as you
won't believe me,--nor I don't ax any man to,--no, not if I went
down on my bended marrer-bones--"

"But I do believe you," said Barnabas.

"What--you do?" cried the landlord, almost reproachfully.

"Certainly! A Duchess is, sometimes, almost human."

"But you--actooally--believe me?"

"Yes."

"Well--you surprise me, sir! Ale! A Duchess! In a tankard! No, it
aren't nat'ral. Never would I ha' believed as any one would ha'
believed such a--"

But here Barnabas laughed, and taking up his hat, sallied out into
the sunshine.

He went by field paths that led him past woods in whose green
twilight thrushes and blackbirds piped, by sunny meadows where larks
mounted heavenward in an ecstasy of song, and so, eventually he
found himself in a road where stood a weather-beaten finger-post,
with its two arms wide-spread and pointing:

     TO LONDON.    TO HAWKHURST

Here Barnabas paused a while, and bared his head as one who stands
on hallowed ground. And looking upon the weather-worn finger-post,
he smiled very tenderly, as one might who meets an old friend. Then
he went on again until he came to a pair of tall iron gates,
hospitable gates that stood open as though inviting him to enter.
Therefore he went on, and thus presently espied a low, rambling
house of many gables, about which were trim lawns and stately trees.
Now as he stood looking at this house, he heard a voice near by, a
deep, rolling bass upraised in song, and the words of it were these:

  "What shall we do with the drunken sailor,
   Heave, my lads, yo-ho!
     Why, put him in the boat and roll him over,
     Put him in the boat till he gets sober,
     Put him in the boat and roll him over,
   With a heave, my lads, yo-ho!"

Following the direction of this voice, Barnabas came to a lawn
screened from the house by hedges of clipped yew. At the further end
of this lawn was a small building which had been made to look as
much as possible like the after-cabin of a ship. It had a door midway,
with a row of small, square windows on either side, and was flanked
at each end by a flight of wooden steps, with elaborately carved
hand-rails, that led up to the quarterdeck above, which was
protected by more carved posts and rails. Here a stout pole had been
erected and rigged with block and fall, and from this, a flag
stirred lazily in the gentle wind.

Now before this building, his blue coat laid by, his shirt sleeves
rolled up, his glazed hat on the back of his head, was the Bo'sun,
polishing away at a small, brass cannon that was mounted on a
platform, and singing lustily as he worked. So loudly did he sing,
and so engrossed was he, that he did not look up until he felt
Barnabas touch him. Then he started, turned, stared, hesitated, and,
finally, broke into a smile.

"Ah, it's you, sir,--the young gemman as bore away for Lon'on
alongside Master Horatio, his Lordship!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, extending his hand, "how are you, Bo'sun?"

"Hearty, sir, hearty, I thank ye!" Saying which he touched his
forehead, rubbed his hand upon his trousers, looked at it, rubbed it
again, and finally gave it to Barnabas, though with an air of apology.
"Been making things a bit ship-shape, sir, 'count o' this here day
being a occasion,--but I'm hearty, sir, hearty, I thank ye."

"And the Captain," said Barnabas with some hesitation. "How is the
Captain?"

"The Cap'n, sir," answered the Bo'sun, "the Cap'n is likewise hearty."

"And--Lady Cleone--is she well, is she happy?"

"Why, sir, she's as 'appy as can be expected--under the circumstances."

"What circumstances?"

"Love, sir."

"Love!" exclaimed Barnabas, "why, Bo'sun--what do you mean?"

"I mean, sir, as she's fell in love at last--

"How do you know--who with--where is she--?"

"Well, sir, I know on account o' 'er lowness o' sperrits,--noticed
it for a week or more. Likewise I've heered 'er sigh very frequent,
and I've seen 'er sit a-staring up at the moon--ah, that I have!
Now lovers is generally low in their sperrits, I've heered tell,
and they allus stare very 'ard at the moon,--why, I don't know,
but they do,--leastways, so I've--"

"But--in love--with whom? Can I see her? Where is she? Are you sure?"

"And sartain, sir. Only t' other night, as I sat a-smoking my pipe
on the lawn, yonder,--she comes out to me, and nestles down under my
lee--like she used to years ago. 'Jerry, dear,' says she, 'er voice
all low and soft-like, 'look at the moon,--how beautiful it is!' says
she, and--she give a sigh. 'Yes, my lady,' says I. 'Oh, Jerry,' says
she, 'call me Clo, as you used to do.' 'Yes, my Lady Clo,' says I.
But she grapples me by the collar, and stamps 'er foot at  me, all
in a moment. 'Leave out the 'lady,'' says she. 'Yes, Clo,' says I.
So she nestles an' sighs and stares at the moon again. 'Jerry, dear,'
says she after a bit, 'when will the moon be at the full?' 'To-morrer,
Clo,' says I. And after she's stared and sighed  a bit longer--'Jerry,
dear,' says she again, 'it's sweet to think that while we are
looking up at the moon--others perhaps are looking at it too, I mean
others who are far away. It--almost seems to bring them nearer,
doesn't it? Then I knowed as 't were love, with a big L, sartin and
sure, and--"

"Bo'sun," said Barnabas, catching him by the arm, "who is it she
loves?"

"Well, sir,--I aren't quite sure, seeing as there are so many on 'em
in 'er wake, but I think,--and I 'ope, as it's 'is Lordship, Master
Horatio."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, his frowning brow relaxing.

"If it ain't 'im,--why then it's mutiny,--that's what it is, sir!"

"Mutiny?"

"Ye see, sir," the Bo'sun went on to explain, "orders is orders, and
if she don't love Master Horatio--well, she ought to."

"Why?"

"Because they was made for each other. Because they was promised to
each other years ago. It were all arranged an' settled 'twixt Master
Horatio's father, the Earl, and Lady Cleone's guardian, the Cap'n."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, "and where is she--and the Captain?"

"Out, sir; an' she made him put on 'is best uniform, as he only
wears on Trafalgar Day, and such great occasions. She orders out the
fam'ly coach, and away they go, 'im the very picter o' what a
post-captain o' Lord Nelson should be (though to be sure, there's a
darn in his white silk stocking--the one to starboard, just abaft
the shoe-buckle, and, therefore, not to be noticed, and I were allus
'andy wi' my needle), and her--looking the picter o' the handsomest
lady, the loveliest, properest maid in all this 'ere world. Away
they go, wi' a fair wind to sarve 'em, an' should ha' dropped anchor
at Annersley House a full hour ago."

"At Annersley?" said Barnabas. "There is a reception there, I hear?"

"Yes, sir, all great folk from Lon'on, besides country folk o'
quality,--to meet the Duchess o' Camberhurst, and she's the greatest
of 'em all. Lord! There's enough blue blood among 'em to float a
Seventy-four. Nat'rally, the Cap'n wanted to keep a good offing to
windward of 'em. 'For look ye, Jerry,' says he, 'I'm no confounded
courtier to go bowing and scraping to a painted old woman, with a
lot of other fools, just because she happens to be a duchess,--no,
damme!' and down 'e sits on the breech o' the gun here. But, just
then, my lady heaves into sight, brings up alongside, and comes to
an anchor on his knee. 'Dear,' says she, with her round, white arm
about his neck, and her soft, smooth cheek agin his, 'dear, it's
almost time we began to dress.' 'Dress?' says he, 'what for, Clo,--I
say, what d'ye mean?' 'Why, for the reception,' says she. 'To-day is
my birthday' (which it is, sir, wherefore the flag at our peak,
yonder), 'and I know you mean to take me,' says she, 'so I told
Robert we should want the coach at three. So come along and
dress,--like a dear.' The Cap'n stared at 'er, dazed-like, give
me a look, and,--well--" the Bo'sun smiled and shook his head.
"Ye see, sir, in some ways the Cap'n 's very like a ordinary man,
arter all!"



CHAPTER XXXVIII


HOW  BARNABAS  CLIMBED A WALL

Now presently, as he went, he became aware of a sound that was not
the stir of leaves, nor the twitter of birds, nor the music of
running waters, though all these were in his ears,--for this was
altogether different; a distant sound that came and went, that
swelled to a murmur, sank to a whisper, yet never wholly died away.
Little by little the sound grew plainer, more insistent, until,
mingled with the leafy stirrings, he could hear a plaintive melody,
rising and falling, faint with distance.

Hereupon Barnabas halted suddenly, his chin in hand, his brow
furrowed in thought, while over his senses stole the wailing melody
of the distant violins. A while he stood thus, then plunged into the
cool shadow of a wood, and hurried on by winding tracks, through
broad glades, until the wood was left behind, until the path became
a grassy lane; and ever the throbbing melody swelled and grew. It
was a shady lane, tortuous and narrow, but on strode Barnabas until,
rounding a bend, he beheld a wall, an ancient, mossy wall of red
brick; and with his gaze upon this, he stopped again. But the melody
called to him, louder now and more insistent, and mingled with the
throb of the violins was the sound of voices and laughter.

Then, standing on tip-toe, Barnabas set his hands to the coping of
the wall, and drawing himself up, caught a momentary vision of
smiling gardens, of green lawns where bright figures moved, of
winding walks and neat trimmed hedges, ere, swinging himself over,
he dropped down among a bed of Sir George Annersley's stocks.

Before him was a shady walk winding between clipped yews, and,
following this, Barnabas presently espied a small arbor some
distance away. Now between him and this arbor was a place where four
paths met, and where stood an ancient sun-dial with quaintly carved
seats. And here, the sun making a glory of her wondrous hair, was my
Lady Cleone, with the Marquis of Jerningham beside her. She sat with
her elbow on her knee and her dimpled chin upon her palm, and, even
from where he stood, Barnabas could see again the witchery of her
lashes that drooped dark upon the oval of her cheek.

The Marquis was talking earnestly, gesturing now and then with his
slender hand that had quite lost its habitual languor, and stooping
that he might look into the drooping beauty of her face, utterly
regardless of the havoc he thus wrought upon the artful folds of his
marvellous cravat. All at once she looked up, laughed and shook her
head, and, closing her fan, pointed with it towards the distant house,
laughing still, but imperious. Hereupon the Marquis rose, albeit
unwillingly, and bowing, hurried off to obey her behest. Then Cleone
rose also, and turning, went on slowly toward the arbor, with head
drooping as one in thought.

And now, with his gaze upon that shapely back, all youthful
loveliness from slender foot to the crowning glory of her hair,
Barnabas sighed, and felt his heart leap as he strode after her. But,
even as he followed, oblivious of all else under heaven, he beheld
another back that obtruded itself suddenly upon the scene, a broad,
graceful back in a coat of fine blue cloth,--a back that bore itself
with a masterful swing of the shoulders. And, in that instant,
Barnabas recognized Sir Mortimer Carnaby.

Cleone had reached the arbor, but on the threshold turned to meet
Sir Mortimer's sweeping bow. And now she seemed to hesitate, then
extended her hand, and Sir Mortimer followed her into the arbor. My
lady's cheeks were warm with rich color, her eyes were suddenly and
strangely bright as she sank into a chair, and Sir Mortimer,
misinterpreting this, had caught and imprisoned her hands.

"Cleone," said he, "at last!" The slender hands fluttered in his
grasp, but his grasp was strong, and, ere she could stay him, he was
down before her on his knee, and speaking quick and passionately.

"Cleone!--hear me! nay, I will speak! All the afternoon I have tried
to get a word with you, and now you must hear me--you shall. And
yet you know what I would say. You know I love you, and have done
from the first hour I saw you. And from that hour I've hungered for
your, Cleone, do you hear?  Ah, tell me you love me!"

But my lady sat wide-eyed, staring at the face amid the leaves
beyond the open window,--a face so handsome, yet so distorted; saw
the gleam of clenched teeth, the frowning brows, the menacing gray
eyes.

Sir Mortimer, all unconscious, had caught her listless hands to his
lips, and was speaking again between his kisses.

"Speak, Cleone! You know how long I have loved you,--speak and bid
me hope! What, silent still? Why, then--give me that rose from your
bosom,--let it be hope's messenger, and speak for you."

But still my lady sat dumb, staring up at the face amid the leaves,
the face of Man Primeval, aglow with all the primitive passions;
beheld the drawn lips and quivering nostrils, the tense jaw savage
and masterful, and the glowing eyes that threatened her. And, in
that moment, she threw tip her head rebellious, and sighed, and
smiled,--a woman's smile, proud, defiant; and, uttering no word,
gave Sir Mortimer the rose. Then, even as she did so, sprang to her
feet, and laughed, a little tremulously, and bade Sir Mortimer Go! Go!
Go! Wherefore, Sir Mortimer, seeing her thus, and being wise in the
ways of women, pressed the flower to his lips, and so turned and
strode off down the path. And when his step had died away Cleone
sank down in the chair, and spoke.

"Come out--spy!" she called. And Barnabas stepped out from the leaves.
Then, because she knew what look was in his eyes, she kept her own
averted; and because she was a woman young, and very proud, she
lashed him with her tongue.

"So much for your watching and listening!" said she.

"But--he has your rose!" said Barnabas.

"And what of that?"

"And he has your promise!"

"I never spoke--"

"But the rose did!"

"The rose will fade and wither--"

"But it bears your promise--"

"I gave no promise, and--and--oh, why did you--look at me!"

"Look at you?"

"Why did you frown at me?"

"Why did you give him the rose?"

"Because it was so my pleasure. Why did you frown at me with eyes
like--like a devil's?"

"I wanted to kill him--then!"

"And now?"

"Now, I wish him well of his bargain, and my thanks are due to him."

"Why?"

"Because, without knowing it, he has taught me what women are."

"What do you mean?"

"I--loved you, Cleone. To me you were one apart--holy, immaculate--"

"Yes?" said Cleone very softly.

"And I find you--"

"Only a--woman, sir,--who will not be watched, and frowned at, and
spied upon."

"--a heartless coquette--" said Barnabas.

"--who despises eavesdroppers, and will not be spied upon, or
frowned at!"

"I did not spy upon you," cried Barnabas, stung at last, "or if I did,
God knows it was well intended."

"How, sir?"

"I remembered the last time we three were together,--in Annersley
Wood."  Here my lady shivered and hid her face. "And now, you gave
him the rose! Do you want the love of this man, Cleone?"

"There is only one man in all the world I despise more, and his name
is--Barnabas," said she, without looking up.

"So you--despise me, Cleone?"

"Yes--Barnabas."

"And I came here to tell you that I--loved you--to ask you to be my
wife--"

"And looked at me with Devil's eyes--"

"Because you were mine, and because he--"

"Yours, Barnabas? I never said so."

"Because I loved you--worshipped you, and because--"

"Because you were--jealous, Barnabas!"

"Because I would have my wife immaculate--"

"But I am not your--wife."

"No," said Barnabas, frowning, "she must be immaculate."

Now when he said this he heard her draw a long, quivering sigh, and
with the sigh she rose to her feet and faced him, and her eyes were
wide and very bright, and the fan she held snapped suddenly across
in her white fingers.

"Sir," she said, very softly, "I whipped you once, if I had a whip
now, your cheek should burn again."

"But I should not ask you to kiss it,--this time!" said Barnabas.

"Yes," she said, in the same soft voice, "I despise you--for
a creeping spy, a fool, a coward--a maligner of women. Oh,
go away,--pray  go. Leave me, lest I stifle."

But now, seeing the flaming scorn of him in her eyes, in the
passionate quiver of her hands, he grew afraid, cowed by her very
womanhood.

"Indeed," he stammered, "you are unjust. I--I did not mean--"

"Go!" said she, cold as ice, "get back over the wall. Oh! I saw you
climb over like a--thief! Go away, before I call for help--before I
call the grooms and stable-boys to whip you out into the road where
you belong--go, I say!" And frowning now, she stamped her foot, and
pointed to the wall. Then Barnabas laughed softty, savagely, and,
reaching out, caught her up in his long arms and crushed her to him.

"Call if you will, Cleone," said he, "but listen first! I said to
you that my wife should come to me immaculate--fortune's spoiled
darling though she be,--petted, wooed, pampered though she is,--and,
by God, so you shall! For I love you, Cleone, and if I live, I will
some day call you 'wife,'--in spite of all your lovers, and all the
roses that ever bloomed. Now, Cleone,--call them if you will." So
saying he set her down and freed her from his embrace. But my
lady, leaning breathless in the doorway, only looked at him
once,--frowning a little, panting a little,--a long wondering look
beneath her lashes, and, turning, was gone among the leaves. Then
Barnabas picked up the broken fan, very tenderly, and put it into
his bosom, and so sank down into the chair, his chin propped upon
his fist, frowning blackly at the glory of the afternoon.



CHAPTER XXXIX


IN WHICH THE PATIENT READER IS INTRODUCED TO AN ALMOST HUMAN DUCHESS

"Very dramatic, sir! Though, indeed, you missed an opportunity,
and--gracious heaven, how he frowns!" A woman's voice, sharp,
high-pitched, imperious.

Barnabas started, and glancing up, beheld an ancient lady, very
small and very upright; her cheeks were suspiciously pink, her curls
suspiciously dark and luxuriant, but her eyes were wonderfully young
and handsome; one slender mittened hand rested upon the ivory head
of a stick, and in the other she carried a small fan.

"Now, he stares!" she exclaimed, as she met his look. "Lud, how he
stares! As if I were a ghost, or a goblin, instead of only an old
woman with raddled cheeks and a wig. Oh, yes! I wear a wig, sir, and
very hideous I look without it! But even I was young once upon a
time--many, many years ago, and quite as beautiful as She, indeed,
rather more so, I think,--and I should have treated you exactly as
She did--only more so,--I mean Cleone. Your blonde women are either
too cold or overpassionate,--I know, for my hair was as yellow as
Cleone's, hundreds of years ago, and I think, more abundant. To-day,
being only a dyed brunette, I am neither too cold nor over-passionate,
and I tell you, sir, you deserved it, every word."

Here Barnabas rose, and, finding nothing to say, bowed.

"But," continued the ancient lady, sweeping him with a quick,
approving gaze, "I like your face, and y-e-s, you have a very good
leg. You also possess a tongue, perhaps, and can speak?"

"Given the occasion, madam," said Barnabas, smiling.

"Ha, sir! do I talk so much then? Well, perhaps I do, for when a
woman ceases to talk she's dead, and I'm very much alive indeed. So
you may give me your arm, sir, and listen to me, and drop an
occasional remark while I take breath,--your arm, sir!" And here the
small, ancient lady held out a small, imperious hand, while her
handsome young eyes smiled up into his.

"Madam, you honor me!"

"But I am only an old woman,--with a wig!"

"Age is always honorable, madam."

"Now that is very prettily said, indeed you improve, sir. Do you
know who I am?"

"No, madam; but I can guess."

"Ah, well,--you shall talk to me. Now, sir,--begin. Talk to me of
Cleone."

"Madam--I had rather not."

"Eh, sir,--you won't?"

"No, madam."

"Why, then, I will!" Here the ancient lady glanced up at Barnabas
with a malicious little smile. "Let me see, now--what were her words?
'Spy,' I think. Ah, yes--'a creeping spy,' 'a fool' and 'a coward.'
Really, I don't think I could have bettered that--even in my best
days,--especially the 'creeping spy.'"

"Madam," said Barnabas in frowning surprise, "you were listening?"

"At the back of the arbor," she nodded, "with my ear to the panelling,
--I am sometimes a little deaf, you see."

"You mean that you were--actually prying--?"

"And I enjoyed it all very much, especially your 'immaculate' speech,
which was very heroic, but perfectly ridiculous, of course. Indeed,
you are a dreadfully young, young sir, I fear. In future, I warn you
not to tell a woman, too often, how much you respect her, or she'll
begin to think you don't love her at all. To be over-respectful
doesn't sit well on a lover, and 'tis most unfair and very trying to
the lady, poor soul!"

"To hearken to a private conversation doesn't sit well on a lady,
madam, or an honorable woman."

"No, indeed, young sir. But then, you see, I'm neither. I'm only a
Duchess, and a very old one at that, and I think I told you I wore a
wig? But 'all the world loves a lover,' and so do I. As soon as ever
I saw you I knew you for a lover of the 'everything-or-nothing' type.
Oh, yes, all lovers are of different types, sir, and I think I know
'em all. You see, when I was young and beautiful--ages ago--lovers
were a hobby of mine,--I studied them, sir. And, of 'em all, I
preferred the 'everything-or-nothing, fire-and-ice, kiss-me-or-kill-me'
type. That was why I followed you, that was why I watched and listened,
and, I grieve to say, I didn't find you as deliciously brutal as I
had hoped."

"Brutal, madam? Indeed, I--"

"Of course! When you snatched her up in your arms,--and I'll admit
you did it very well,--when you had her there, you should have
covered her with burning kisses, and with an oath after each. Girls
like Cleone need a little brutality and--Ah! there's the Countess!
And smiling at me quite lovingly, I declare! Now I wonder what rod
she has in pickle for me? Dear me, sir, how dusty your coat is! And
spurred boots and buckskins are scarcely the mode for a garden fête.
Still, they're distinctive, and show off your leg to advantage,
better than those abominable Cossack things,--and I doat upon a good
leg--" But here she broke off and turned to greet the Countess,--a
large, imposing, bony lady in a turban, with the eye and the beak of
a hawk.

"My dearest Letitia!"

"My dear Duchess,--my darling Fanny, you 're younger than ever,
positively you are,--I'd never have believed it!" cried the Countess,
more hawk-like than ever. "I heard you were failing fast, but now I
look at you, dearest Fanny, I vow you don't look a day older than
seventy."

"And I'm seventy-one, alas!" sighed the Duchess, her eyes young with
mischief. "And you, my sweetest creature,--how well you look! Who
would ever imagine that we were at school together, Letitia!"

"But indeed I was--quite an infant, Fanny."

"Quite, my love, and used to do my sums for me. But let me present
to you a young friend of mine, Mr.--Mr.--dear, dear! I quite
forget--my memory is going, you see, Letitia! Mr.--"

"Beverley, madam," said Barnabas.

"Thank you,--Beverley, of course! Mr. Beverley--the Countess of Orme."

Hereupon Barnabas bowed low before the haughty stare of the keen,
hawk-like eyes.

"And now, my sweet Letty," continued the Duchess, "you are always so
delightfully gossipy--have you any news,--any stories to laugh over?"

"No, dear Fanny, neither the one nor the other--only--"

"'Only,' my love?"

"Only--but you've heard it already, of course,--you would be the
very first to know of it!"

"Letitia, my dear--I always hated conundrums, you'll remember."

"I mean, every one is talking of it, already."

"Heigho! How warm the sun is!"

"Of course it may be only gossip, but they do say Cleone Meredith
has refused the hand of your grandnephew."

"Jerningham, oh yes," added the Duchess, "on the whole, it's just as
well."

"But I thought--" the hawk-eyes were very piercing indeed. "I feared
it would be quite a blow to you--"

The Duchess shook her head, with a little ripple of laughter.

"I had formed other plans for him weeks ago,--they were quite
unsuited to each other, my love."

"I'm delighted you take it so well, my own Fanny," said the Countess,
looking the reverse. "We leave almost immediately,--but when you
pass through Sevenoaks, you must positively stay with me for a day
or two. Goodby, my sweet Fanny!" So the two ancient ladies gravely
curtsied to each other, pecked each other on either cheek, and, with
a bow to Barnabas, the Countess swept away with an imposing rustle
of her voluminous skirts.

"Cat!" exclaimed the Duchess, shaking her fan at the receding figure;
"the creature hates me fervently, and consequently, kisses me--on
both cheeks. Oh, yes, indeed, sir, she detests me--and quite
naturally. You see, we were girls together,--she's six months my
junior, and has never let me forget it,--and the Duke--God rest
him--admired us both, and, well,--I married him. And so Cleone has
actually refused poor Jerningham,--the yellow-maned minx!"

"Why, then--you didn't know of it?" inquired Barnabas.

"Oh, Innocent! of course I didn't. I'm not omniscient, and I only
ordered him to propose an hour ago. The golden hussy! the proud jade!
Refuse my grand-nephew indeed! Well, there's one of your rivals
disposed of, it seems,--count that to your advantage, sir!"

"But," said Barnabas, frowning and shaking his head, "Sir Mortimer
Carnaby has her promise!"

"Fiddlesticks!"

"She gave him the rose!" said Barnabas, between set teeth. The
Duchess tittered.

"Dear heart! how tragic you are!" she sighed. "Suppose she did,--what
then? And besides--hum! This time it is young D'Arcy, it seems,--callow,
pink, and quite harmless."

"Madam?" said Barnabas, wondering.

"Over there--behind the marble faun,--quite harmless, and very pink,
you'll notice. I mean young D'Arcy--not the faun. Clever minx! Now I
mean Cleone, of course--there she is!" Following the direction of the
Duchess's pointing fan, Barnabas saw Cleone, sure enough. Her eyes
were drooped demurely before the ardent gaze of the handsome,
pink-cheeked young soldier who stood before her, and in her white
fingers she held--a single red rose. Now, all at once, (and as
though utterly unconscious of the burning, watchful eyes of Barnabas)
she lifted the rose to her lips, and, smiling, gave it into the
young soldier's eager hand. Then they strolled away, his epaulette
very near the gleaming curls at her temple.

"Lud, young sir!" exclaimed the Duchess, catching Barnabas by the
coat, "how dreadfully sudden you are in your movements--"

"Madam, pray loose me!"

"Why?"

"I'm going--I cannot bear--any more!"

"You mean--?"

"I mean that--she has--"

"A very remarkable head, she is as resourceful as I was--almost."

"Resourceful!" exclaimed Barnabas, "she is--"

"An extremely clever girl--"

"Madam, pray let me go."

"No, sir! my finger is twisted in your buttonhole,--if you pull
yourself away I expect you'll break it, so pray don't pull; naturally,
I detest pain. And I have much to talk about."

"As you will, madam," said Barnabas, frowning.

"First, tell me--you're quite handsome when you frown,--first, sir,
why weren't you formally presented to me with the other guests?"

"Because I'm not a guest, madam."

"Sir--explain yourself."

"I mean that I came--over the wall, madam."

"The wall! Climbed over?"

"Yes, madam!"

"Dear heaven! The monstrous audacity of the man! You came to see
Cleone, of course?"

"Yes, madam."

"Ah, very right,--very proper! I remember I had a lover--in the
remote ages, of course,--who used to climb--ah, well,--no matter!
Though his wall was much higher than yours yonder." Here the Duchess
sighed tenderly. "Well, you came to see Cleone, you found her,--and
nicely you behaved to each other when you met! Youth is always so
dreadfully tragic! But then what would love be without a little
tragedy? And oh--dear heaven!--how you must adore each other! Oh,
Youth! Youth!--and there's Sir George Annersley--!"

"Then, madam, you must excuse me!" said Barnabas, glancing furtively
from the approaching figures to the adjacent wall.

"Oh dear, no. Sir George is with Jerningharn and Major Piper, a
heavy dragoon--the heaviest in all the world, I'm sure. You must
meet them."

"No, indeed--I--"

"Sir," said the Duchess, buttonholing him again, "I insist! Oh, Sir
George--gentlemen!" she called. Hereupon three lounging figures
turned simultaneously, and came hurrying towards them.

"Why, Duchess!" exclaimed Sir George, a large, mottled gentleman in
an uncomfortable cravat, "we have all been wondering what had become
of your Grace, and--" Here Sir George's sharp eye became fixed upon
Barnabas, upon his spurred boots, his buckskins, his dusty coat; and
Sir George's mouth opened, and he gave a tug at his cravat.

"Deuce take me--it's Beverley!" exclaimed the Marquis, and held out
his hand.

"What--you know each other?" the Duchess inquired.

"Mr. Beverley is riding in the steeplechase on the fifteenth," the
Marquis answered. Hereupon Sir George stared harder than ever, and
gave another tug at his high cravat, while Major Piper, who had been
looking very hard at nothing in particular, glanced at Barnabas with
a gleam of interest and said "Haw!"

As for the Duchess, she clapped her hands.

"And he never told me a word of it!" she exclaimed. "Of course all
my money is on Jerningham,--though 'Moonraker' carries the odds, but
I must have a hundred or two on Mr. Beverley for--friendship's sake."

"Friendship!" exclaimed the Marquis, "oh, begad!" Here he took out
his snuff-box, tapped it, and put it in his pocket again.

"Yes, gentlemen," smiled the Duchess, "this is a friend of mine
who--dropped in upon me, as it were, quite unexpectedly--over the
wall, in fact."

"Wall!" exclaimed Sir George.

"The deuce you did, Beverley!" said the Marquis.

As for Major Piper, he hitched his dolman round, and merely said:

"Haw!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, glancing from one to the other, "I am a
trespasser here, and, Sir George, I fear I damaged some of your
flowers!"

"Flowers!" repeated Sir George, staring from Barnabas to the Duchess
and back again, "Oh!"

"And now--pray let me introduce you," said the Duchess. "My friend
Mr. Beverley--Sir George Annersley. Mr. Beverley--Major Piper."

"A friend of her Grace is always welcome here, sir," said Sir George,
extending a mottled hand.

"Delighted!" smiled the Major, saluting him in turn. "Haw!"

"But what in the world brings you here, Beverley?" inquired the
Marquis.

"I do," returned his great-aunt. "Many a man has climbed a wall on
my account before to-day, Marquis, and remember I'm only
just--seventy-one, and growing younger every hour,--now am I not,
Major?"

"Haw!--Precisely! Not a doubt, y' Grace. Soul and honor! Haw!"

"Marquis--your arm, Mr. Beverley--yours! Now, Sir George, show us
the way to the marquee; I'm dying for a dish of tea, I vow I am!"

Thus, beneath the protecting wing of a Duchess was Barnabas given
his first taste of Quality and Blood. Which last, though blue beyond
all shadow of doubt, yet manifested itself in divers quite ordinary
ways as,--in complexions of cream and roses; in skins sallow and
wrinkled; in noses haughtily Roman or patricianly Greek, in noses
mottled and unclassically uplifted; in black hair, white hair, yellow,
brown, and red hair;--such combinations as he had seen many and many
a time on village greens, and at country wakes and fairs. Yes, all
was the same, and yet--how vastly different! For here voices were
softly modulated, arms and hands gracefully borne, heads carried high,
movement itself an artful science. Here eyes were raised or lowered
with studied effect; beautiful shoulders, gracefully shrugged,
became dimpled and irresistible; faces with perfect profiles were
always--in profile. Here, indeed, Age and Homeliness went clothed in
magnificence, and Youth and Beauty walked hand in hand with Elegance;
while everywhere was a graceful ease that had been learned and
studied with the Catechism. Barnabas was in a world of silks and
satins and glittering gems, of broadcloth and fine linen, where such
things are paramount and must be lived up to; a world where the
friendship of a Duchess may transform a nobody into a SOMEBODY, to
be bowed to by the most elaborate shirtfronts, curtsied to by the
haughtiest of turbans, and found worthy of the homage of bewitching
eyes, seductive dimples, and entrancing profiles.

In a word, Barnabas had attained--even unto the World of Fashion.



CHAPTER XL


WHICH RELATES SUNDRY HAPPENINGS AT THE GARDEN FÊTE

"Gad, Beverley! how the deuce did y' do it?"

"Do what, Marquis?"

"Charm the Serpent! Tame the Dragon!"

"Dragon?"

"Make such a conquest of her Graceless Grace of Camberhurst, my
great-aunt? I didn't know you were even acquainted,--how long have
you known her?"

"About an hour," said Barnabas.

"Eh--an hour? But, my dear fellow, you came to see her--over the wall,
you know,--she said so, and--"

"She said so, yes, Marquis, but--"

"But? Oh, I see! Ah, to be sure! She is my great-aunt, of course,
and my great-aunt, Beverley, generally thinks, and does, and
says--exactly what she pleases. Begad! you never can tell what she'll
be up to next,--consequently every one is afraid of her, even
those high goddesses of the beau monde, those exclusive grandes dames,
my Ladies Castlereagh, Jersey, Cowper and the rest of 'em--they're
all afraid of my small great-aunt, and no wonder! You see, she's
old--older than she looks, and--with a perfectly diabolical memory!
She knows not only all their own peccadillos, but the sins of their
great-grandmothers as well. She fears nothing on the earth, or under
the earth, and respects no one--not even me. Only about half an hour
ago she informed me that I was a--well, she told me precisely what I
was,--and she can be painfully blunt, Beverley,--just because Cleone
happens to have refused me again."

"Again?" said Barnabas inquiringly.

"Oh, yes! She does it regularly. Begad! she's refused me so often
that it's grown into a kind of formula with us now. I say, 'Cleone,
do!' and she answers, 'Bob, don't!' But even that's something,--lots
of 'em haven't got so far as that with her."

"Sir Mortimer Carnaby, for instance!" said Barnabas, biting his lip.

"Hum!" said the Marquis dubiously, deftly re-settling his cravat,
"and what of--yourself, Beverley?"

"I have asked her--only twice, I think."

"Ah, and she--refused you?"

"No," sighed Barnabas, "she told me she--despised me."

"Did she so? Give me your hand--I didn't think you were so strong in
the running. With Cleone's sort there's always hope so long as she
isn't sweet and graciously indifferent."

"Pray," said Barnabas suddenly, "pray where did you get that rose,
Marquis?"

"This?  Oh, she gave it to me."

"Cleone?"

"Of course."

"But--I thought she'd refused you?"

"Oh, yes--so she did; but that's just like Cleone, frowning one
moment, smiling the next--April, you know."

"And did she--kiss it first?"

"Kiss it? Why--deuce take me, now I come to think of it,--so
she did,--at least--What now, Beverley?"

"I'm--going!" said Barnabas.

"Going?  Where?"

"Back--over the wall!"

"Eh!--run away, is it?"

"As far," said Barnabas, scowling, "as far as possible. Good-by,
Marquis!" And so he turned and strode away, while the Marquis stared
after him, open-mouthed. But as he went, Barnabas heard a voice
calling his name, and looking round, beheld Captain Chumly coming
towards him. A gallant figure he made (despite grizzled hair and
empty sleeve), in all the bravery of his white silk stockings, and
famous Trafalgar coat, which, though a little tarnished as to
epaulettes and facings, nevertheless bore witness to the Bo'sun's
diligent care; he was, indeed, from the crown of his cocked hat down
to his broad, silver shoe-buckles, the very pattern of what a
post-captain of Lord Nelson should be.

"Eh, sir!" he exclaimed, with his hand outstretched in greeting,
"are ye blind, I say are ye blind and deaf? Didn't you hear her
Grace hailing you? Didn't ye see me signal you to 'bring to'?"

"No, sir," answered Barnabas, grasping the proffered hand.

"Oho!" said the Captain, surveying Barnabas from head to foot,
"so you've got 'em on, I see, and vastly different you look in your
fine feathers. But you can sink me,--I say you can scuttle and sink
me if I don't prefer you in your homespun! You'll be spelling your
name with as many unnecessary letters, and twirls, and flourishes as
you can clap in, nowadays, I'll warrant."

"Jack Chumly, don't bully the boy!" said a voice near by; and
looking thitherward, Barnabas beheld the Duchess seated at a small
table beneath a shady tree, and further screened by a tall hedge; a
secluded corner, far removed from the throng, albeit a most
excellent place for purposes of observation, commanding as it did a
wide view of lawns and terraces. "As for you, Mr. Beverley,"
continued the Duchess, with her most imperious air, "you may bring a
seat--here, beside me,--and help the Captain to amuse me."

"Madam," said Barnabas, his bow very solemn and very deep, "I am
about to leave, and--with your permission--I--"

"You have my permission to--sit here beside me, sir. So! A dish of
tea? No? Ah, well--we were just talking of you; the Captain was
describing how he first met you--"

"Bowing to a gate-post, mam,--on my word as a sailor and a Christian,
it was a gate-post,--I say, an accurs--a confoundedly rotten old
stick of a gate-post."

"I remember," sighed Barnabas.

"And to-day, sir," continued the Captain, "to-day you must come
clambering over a gentleman's garden wall to bow and scrape to a--"

"Don't dare to say--another stick, Jack Chumly!" cried the Duchess.

"I repeat, sir, you must come trespassing here, to bow--I say bah!
and scrape--"

"I say tush!" interpolated the Duchess demurely.

"To an old--"

"Painted!" suggested the Duchess.

"Hum!" said the Captain, a little hipped, "I say--ha!--lady, sir--"

"With a wig!" added the Duchess.

"And with a young and handsome,--I say a handsome and roguish pair
of eyes, sir, that need no artificial aids, mam, nor ever will!"

"Three!" cried the Duchess, clapping her hands. "Oh, Jack! Jack
Chumly! you, like myself, improve with age! As a midshipman you were
too callow, as a lieutenant much too old and serious, but now that
you are a battered and wrinkled young captain, you can pay as pretty
a compliment as any other gallant youth. Actually three in one hour,
Mr. Beverley."

"Compliments, mam!" snorted the Captain, with an angry flap of his
empty sleeve, "Compliments, I scorn 'em! I say pish, mam,--I say bah!
I speak only the truth, mam, as well you know."

"Four!" cried the Duchess, with a gurgle of youthful laughter.
"Oh, Jack! Jack! I protest, as you sit there you are growing more
youthful every minute."

"Gad so, mam! then I'll go before I become a mewling infant--I say a
puling brat, mam."

"Stay a moment, Jack. I want you to explain your wishes to Mr. Beverley
in regard to Cleone's future."

"Certainly, your Grace--I say by all means, mam."

"Very well, then I'll begin. Listen--both of you. Captain Chumly,
being a bachelor and consequently an authority on marriage, has,
very properly, chosen whom his ward must marry; he has quite settled
and arranged it all, haven't you, Jack?"

"Quite, mam, quite."

"Thus, Cleone is saved all the bother and worry of choosing for
herself, you see, Mr. Beverley, for the Captain's choice is fixed,--
isn't it, Jack?"

"As a rock, mam--I say as an accurs--ha! an adamantine crag, mam.
My ward shall marry my nephew, Viscount Devenham, I am determined
on it--"

"Consequently, Mr. Beverley, Cleone will, of course,
marry--whomsoever she pleases!"

"Eh, mam?   I say, what?--I say--"

"Like the feminine creature she is, Mr. Beverley!"

"Now by Og,--I say by Og and Gog, mam! She is my ward, and so long
as I am her guardian she shall obey--"

"I say boh! Jack Chumly,--I say bah!" mocked the Duchess, nodding
her head at him. "Cleone is much too clever for you--or any other man,
and there is only one woman in this big world who is a match for her,
and that woman is--me. I've watched her growing up--day by day--year
after year into--just what I was--ages ago,--and to-day she
is--almost as beautiful,--and--very nearly as clever!"

"Clever, mam?  So she is, but I'm her guardian and--she loves
me--I think, and--"

"Of course she loves you, Jack, and winds you round her finger
whenever she chooses--"

"Finger, mam! finger indeed! No, mam, I can be firm with her."

"As a candle before the fire, Jack. She can bend you to all the
points of your compass. Come now, she brought you here this
afternoon against your will,--now didn't she?"

"Ah!--hum!" said the Captain, scratching his chin.

"And coaxed you into your famous Trafalgar uniform, now didn't she?"

"Why as to that, mam, I say--"

"And petted you into staying here much longer than you intended, now
didn't she?"

"Which reminds me that it grows late, mam," said the Captain, taking
out his watch and frowning at it. "I must find my ward. I say I will
bring Cleone to make you her adieux." So saying, he bowed and strode
away across the lawn.

"Poor Jack," smiled the Duchess, "he is such a dear, good, obedient
child, and he doesn't know it. And so your name is Beverley, hum! Of the
Beverleys of Ashleydown? Yet, no,--that branch is extinct, I know. Pray
what branch are you? Why, here comes Sir Mortimer Carnaby,--heavens,
how handsome he is! And you thrashed him, I think? Oh, I know all
about it, sir, and I know--why!"

"Then," said Barnabas, somewhat taken aback, "you'll know he
deserved it, madam."

"Mm! Have you met him since?"

"No, indeed, nor have I any desire to!"

"Oh, but you must," said the Duchess, and catching Sir Mortimer's
gaze, she smiled and beckoned him, and next moment he was bowing
before her. "My dear Sir Mortimer," said she, "I don't think you are
acquainted with my friend, Mr. Beverley?"

"No," answered Sir Mortimer with a perfunctory glance at Barnabas.

"Ah! I thought not. Mr. Beverley--Sir Mortimer Carnaby."

"Honored, sir," said Sir Mortimer, as they bowed.

"Mr. Beverley is, I believe, an opponent of yours, Sir Mortimer?"
pursued the Duchess, with her placid smile.

"An opponent! indeed, your Grace?" said he, favoring Barnabas with
another careless glance.

"I mean--in the race, of course," smiled the Duchess. "But oh, happy
man! So you have been blessed also?"

"How, Duchess?"

"I see you wear Cleone's favor,--you've been admitted to the Order
of the Rose, like all the others." And the Duchess tittered.

"Others, your Grace! What others?"

"Oh, sir, their name is Legion. There's Jerningham, and young Denton,
and Snelgrove, and Ensign D'Arcy, and hosts beside. Lud, Sir Mortimer,
where are your eyes? Look there! and there! and there again!" And,
with little darting movements of her fan, she indicated certain
young gentlemen, who strolled to and fro upon the lawn; now, in the
lapel of each of their coats was a single, red rose. "There's safety
in numbers, and Cleone was always cautious!" said the Duchess, and
tittered again.

Sir Mortimer glanced from those blooms to the flower in his own coat,
and his cheek grew darkly red, and his mouth took on a cruel look.

"Ah, Duchess," he smiled, "it seems our fair Cleone has an original
idea of humor,--very quaint, upon my soul!" And so he laughed, and
bowing, turned away.

"Now--watch!" said the Duchess, "there!" As she spoke, Sir Mortimer
paused, and with a sudden fierce gesture tore the rose from his coat
and tossed it away. "Now really," said the Duchess, leaning back and
fanning herself placidly, "I think that was vastly clever of me; you
should be grateful, sir, and so should Cleone--hush!--here she comes,
at last."

"Where?" inquired Barnabas, glancing up hastily.

"Ssh! behind us--on the other side of the hedge--clever minx!"

"Why then--"

"Sit still, sir--hush, I say!"

"So that is the reason," said Cleone's clear voice, speaking within
a yard of them, "that is why you dislike Mr. Beverley?"

"Yes, and because of his presumption!" said a second voice, at the
sound of which Barnabas flushed and started angrily, whereupon the
Duchess instantly hooked him by the buttonhole again.

"His presumption in what, Mr. Chichester?"

"In his determined pursuit of you."

"Is he in pursuit of me?"

"Cleone--you know he is!"

"But how do you happen to know?"

"From his persecution of poor Ronald, for one thing."

"Persecution, sir?"

"It amounted to that. He found his way to Ronald's wretched lodging,
and tempted the poor fellow with his gold,--indeed almost commanded
Ronald to allow him to pay off his debts--"

"But Ronald refused, of course?" said Cleone quickly.

"Of course! I was there, you see, and this Beverley is a stranger!"

"A stranger--yes."

"And yet, Cleone, when your unfortunate brother refused his
money,--this utter stranger, this Good Samaritan,--actually went
behind Ronald's back and offered to buy up his debts! Such a thing
might be done by father for son, or brother for brother, but why
should any man do so much for an utter stranger--?"

"Either because he is very base, or very--noble!" said Cleone.

"Noble! I tell you such a thing is quite impossible--unheard of! No
man would part with a fortune to benefit a stranger--unless he had a
powerful motive!"

"Well?" said Cleone softly.

"Well, Cleone, I happen to know that motive is--yourself!" Here the
Duchess, alert as usual, caught Barnabas by the cravat, and only just
in time.

"Sit  still--hush!"  she whispered,  glancing up  into his distorted
face, for Mr. Chichester was going on in his soft, deliberate voice:

"Oh, it is all very simple, Cleone, and very clumsy,--thus, see you.
In the guise of Good Samaritan this stranger buys the debts of the
brother, trusting to the gratitude of the sister. He knows your pride,
Cleone, so he would buy your brother and put you under lasting
obligation to himself. The scheme is a little coarse, and very
clumsy,--but then, he is young."

"And you say--he tried to pay these debts--without Ronald's knowledge?
Are you sure--quite sure?"

"Quite! And I know, also, that when Ronald's creditor refused, he
actually offered to double--to treble the sum! But, indeed, you
would be cheap at sixty thousand pounds, Cleone!"

"Oh--hateful!" she cried.

"Crude, yes, and very coarse, but, as I said before, he is
young--what, are you going?"

"Yes--no. Pray find my guardian and bring him to me."

"First, tell me I may see you again, Cleone, before I leave for
London?"

"Yes," said Cleone, after a momentary hesitation.

Thereafter came the tread of Mr. Chichester's feet upon the gravel,
soft and deliberate, like his voice.

Then Barnabas sighed, a long, bitter sigh, and looking up--saw
Cleone standing before him.

"Ah, dear Godmother!" said she lightly, "I hope your Grace was able
to hear well?"

"Perfectly, my dear, thank you--every word," nodded the Duchess,
"though twice Mr. Beverley nearly spoilt it all. I had to hold him
dreadfully tight,--see how I've crumpled his beautiful cravat.
Dear me, how impetuous you are, sir! As for you, Cleone, sit down,
my dear,--that's it!--positively I'm proud of you,--kiss me,--I mean
about the roses. It was vastly clever! You are myself over again."

"Your Grace honors me!" said Cleone, her eyes demure, but with a
dimple at the corner of her red mouth.

"And I congratulate you. I was a great success--in my day. Ah me!
I remember seeing you--an hour after you were born. You were very
pink, Cleone, and as bald as--as I am, without my wig. No--pray sit
still,--Mr. Beverley isn't looking at you, and he was just as bald,
once, I expect--and will be again, I hope. Even at that early age
you pouted at me, Cleone, and I liked you for it. You are pouting
now, Miss! To-day Mr. Beverley frowns at me, and I like him for
it,--besides, he's very handsome when he frowns, don't you think,
Cleone?"

"Madam--" began Barnabas, with an angry look.

"Ah! now you're going to quarrel with me,--well there's the
Major,--I shall go. If you must quarrel with some one,--try Cleone,
she's young, and, I think, a match for you. Oh, Major! Major Piper,
pray lend your arm and protection to a poor, old, defenceless woman."
So saying, the Duchess rose, and the Major, bowing gallantly gave her
the limb she demanded, and went off with her, 'haw'-ing in his best
and most ponderous manner.

Barnabas sat, chin in hand, staring at the ground, half expecting
that Cleone would rise and leave him. But no! My lady sat leaning
back in her chair, her head carelessly averted, but watching him
from the corners of her eyes. A sly look it was, a searching,
critical look, that took close heed to all things, as--the fit and
excellence of his clothes; the unconscious grace of his attitude;
the hair that curled so crisp and dark at his temples; the woeful
droop of his lips;--a long, inquisitive look, a look wholly feminine.
Yes, he was certainly handsome, handsomer even than she had thought.
And finding him so, she frowned, and, frowning, spoke:

"So you meant to buy me, sir--as you would a horse or dog?"

"No," said Barnabas, without looking up, and speaking almost humbly.

"It would have been the same thing, sir," she continued, a little
more haughtily in consequence. "You would have put upon me an
obligation I could never, never have hoped to repay?"

"Yes, I see my error now," said Barnabas, his head sinking lower.
"I acted for the best, but I am a fool, and a clumsy one it seems. I
meant only to serve you, to fulfil the mission you gave me, and I
blundered--because I am--very ignorant. If you can forgive me, do so."

Now this humility was new in him, and because of this, and because
she was a woman, she became straightway more exacting, and questioned
him again.

"But why--why did you do it?"

"You asked me to save your brother, and I could see no other way--"

"How so?  Please explain."

"I meant to free him from the debt which is crushing him down and
unmanning him."

"But--oh, don't you see--he would still be in debt--to you?"

"I had forgotten that!" sighed Barnabas.

"Forgotten it?" she repeated.

"Quite!"

Surely no man could lie, whose eyes were so truthful and steadfast.

"And so you went and offered to--buy up his debts?"

"Yes."

"For three times the proper sum?"

"I would have paid whatever was asked."

"Why?"

"Because I promised you to help him," answered Barnabas, staring at
the ground again.

"You must be--very rich?" said Cleone, stealing another look at him.

"I am."

"And--supposing you had taken over the debt, who did you think would
ever repay you?"

"It never occurred to me."

"And you would have done--all this for a--stranger?"

"No, but because of the promise I gave."

"To me?"

"Yes,--but, as God sees me, I would have looked for no recompense at
your hands."

"Never?"

"Never--unless--"

"Unless, sir?"

"Unless I--I had dreamed it possible that you--could ever
have--loved me." Barnabas was actually stammering, and he was
looking at her--pleadingly, she knew, but this time my lady kept
her face averted, of course. Wherefore Barnabas sighed, and his
head drooping, stared at the ground again. And after he had stared
thus, for perhaps a full minute, my lady spoke, but with her face
still averted.

"The moon is at the full to-night, I think?"

_Barnabas_ (lifting his head suddenly). "Yes."

_Cleone_ (quite aware of his quick glance). "And--how do you like--the
Duchess?"

_Barnabas_ (staring at the ground again). "I don't know."

_Cleone_ (with unnecessary emphasis). "Why, she is the dearest, best,
cleverest old godmother in all the world, sir!"

_Barnabas_ (humbly). "Yes."

_Cleone_ (with a side glance). "Are you riding back to London to-night?"

_Barnabas_ (nodding drearily). "Yes."

_Cleone_ (watching him more keenly). "It should be glorious to gallop
under a--full-orbed moon."

_Barnabas_ (shaking his head mournfully). "London is a great way
from--here."

_Cleone_ (beginning to twist a ring on her finger nervously).
"Do you remember the madman we met--at Oakshott's Barn?"

_Barnabas_ (sighing). "Yes. I met him in London, lately."

_Cleone_ (clasping her hands together tightly). "Did he talk about--the
moon again?"

_Barnabas_ (still sighing, and dense), "No, it was about some shadow,
I think."

_Cleone_ (frowning at him a little). "Well--do you remember what he
prophesied--about--an 'orbed moon'--and 'Barnaby Bright'?"

_Barnabas_ (glancing up with sudden interest). "Yes,--yes, he said we
should meet again at Barnaby Bright--under an orbed moon!"

_Cleone_ (head quite averted now, and speaking over her shoulder).
"Do you remember the old finger-post--on the Hawkhurst road?"

_Barnabas_ (leaning towards her eagerly). "Yes--do you mean--Oh,
Cleone--?"

_Cleone_ (rising, and very demure). "Here comes the Duchess with my
Guardian--hush! At nine o'clock, sir."



CHAPTER XLI


IN WHICH BARNABAS MAKES A SURPRISING DISCOVERY, THAT MAY NOT
SURPRISE THE READER IN THE LEAST

Evening, with the promise of a glorious night later on; evening,
full of dewy scents, of lengthening shadows, of soft, unaccountable
noises, of mystery and magic; and, over all, a rising moon, big and
yellow. Thus, as he went, Barnabas kept his eyes bent thitherward,
and his step was light and his heart sang within him for gladness, it
was in the very air, and in the whole fair world was no space for
care or sorrow, for his dreams were to be realized at a certain
finger-post on the Hawkhurst road, on the stroke of nine. Therefore,
as he strode along, being only human after all, Barnabas fell a
whistling to himself under his breath. And his thoughts were all of
Cleone, of the subtle charm of her voice, of the dimple in her chin,
of her small, proud feet, and her thousand sly bewitchments; but, at
the memory of her glowing beauty, his flesh thrilled and his breath
caught. Then, upon the quietude rose a voice near by, that spoke from
where the shadows lay blackest,--a voice low and muffled, speaking
as from the ground:

"How long, oh Lord, how long?"

And, looking within the shadow, Barnabas beheld one who lay face
down upon the grass, and coming nearer, soft-footed, he saw the
gleam of silver hair, and stooping, touched the prostrate figure.
Wherefore the heavy head was raised, and the mournful voice spoke
again:

"Is it you, young sir? You will grieve, I think, to learn that my
atonement is not complete, my pilgrimage unfinished. I must wander
the roads again, preaching Forgiveness, for, sir,--Clemency is gone,
my Beatrix is vanished. I am--a day too late! Only one day, sir, and
there lies the bitterness."

"Gone!" cried Barnabas, "gone?"

"She left the place yesterday, very early in the morning,--fled
away none knows whither,--I am too late! Sir, it is very bitter, but
God's will be done!"

Then Barnabas sat down in the shadow, and took the Preacher's hand,
seeking to comfort him:

"Sir," said he gently, "tell me of it."

"Verily, for it is soon told, sir. I found the place you mentioned,
I found there also, one--old like myself, a sailor by his look, who
sat bowed down with some grievous sorrow. And, because of my own joy,
I strove to comfort him, and trembling with eagerness, hearkening
for the step of her I had sought so long, I told him why I was there.
So I learned I was too late after all,--she had gone, and his grief
was mine also. He was very kind, he showed me her room, a tiny
chamber under the eaves, but wondrous fair and sweet with flowers,
and all things orderly, as her dear hands had left them. And so we
stayed there a while,--two old men, very silent and full of sorrow.
And in a while, though he would have me rest there the night, I left,
and walked I cared not whither, and, being weary, lay down here
wishful to die. But I may not die until my atonement be complete,
and mayhap--some day I shall find her yet. For God is a just God,
and His will be done. Amen!"

"But why--why did she go?" cried Barnabas.

"Young sir, the answer is simple, the man Chichester had discovered
her refuge. She was afraid!" Here the Apostle of Peace fell silent,
and sat with bent head and lips moving as one who prayed. When at
last he looked up, a smile was on his lips. "Sir," said he,
"it is only the weak who repine, for God is just, and I know I shall
find her before I die!" So saying he rose, though like one who is
very weary, and stood upon his feet.

"Where are you going?" Barnabas inquired.

"Sir, my trust is in God, I take to the road again."

"To search for her?"

"To preach for her. And when I have preached sufficiently, God will
bring me to her. So come, young sir, if you will, let us walk
together as far as we may." Thus, together, they left the shadow and
went on, side by side, in the soft radiance of the rising moon.

"Sir," said Barnabas after a while, seeing his companion was very
silent, and that his thin hands often griped and wrung each other,
--that gesture which was more eloquent than words,--"Sir, is there
anything I can do to lighten your sorrow?"

"Yes, young sir, heed it well, let it preach to you this great truth,
that all the woes arid ills we suffer are but the necessary outcome
of our own acts. Oh sir,--young sir, in you and me, as in all other
men, there lies a power that may help to make or mar the lives of
our fellows, a mighty power, yet little dreamed of, and we call it
Influence. For there is no man but he must, of necessity, influence,
to a more or less degree, the conduct of those he meets, whether he
will or no,--and there lies the terror of it! Thus, to some extent,
we become responsible for the actions of our neighbors, even after
we are dead, for Influence is immortal. Man is a pebble thrown into
the pool of Life,--a splash, a bubble, and he is gone! But--the
ripples of Influence he leaves behind go on widening and ever
widening until they reach the farthest bank. Oh, had I but dreamed of
this in my youth, I might have been--a happy man to-night,
and--others also. In helping others we ourselves are blessed, for a
noble thought, a kindly word, a generous deed, are never lost; such
things cannot go to waste, they are our monuments after we are dead,
and live on forever."

So, talking thus, they reached a gate, and, beyond the gate, a road,
white beneath the moon, winding away between shadowy hedges.

"You are for London, I fancy, young sir?"

"Yes."

"Then we part here. But before I bid you God speed, I would
know your name; mine is Darville--Ralph Darville."

"And mine, sir, is Barnabas--Beverley."

"Beverley!" said the Preacher, glancing up quickly, "of Ashleydown?"

"Sir," said Barnabas, "surely they are all dead?"

"True, true!" nodded the Preacher, "the name is extinct. That is how
the man--Chichester came into the inheritance. I knew the family well,
years ago. The brothers died abroad, Robert, the elder, with his
regiment in the Peninsula, Francis, in battle at sea, and Joan--like
my own poor Beatrix, was unhappy, and ran away, but she was never
heard of again."

"And her name was Joan?" said Barnabas slowly, "Joan--Beverley?"

"Yes."

"Sir, Joan Beverley was my mother! I took her name--Beverley--for a
reason."

"Your mother! Ah, I understand it now; you are greatly like her, at
times, it was the resemblance that puzzled me before. But, sir--if
Joan Beverley was your mother, why then--"

"Then, Chichester has no right to the property?"

"No!"

"And--I have?"

"If you can prove your descent."

"Yes," said Barnabas, "but--to whom?"

"You must seek out a Mr. Gregory Dyke, of Lincoln's Inn; he is the
lawyer who administered the estate--"

"Stay," said Barnabas, "let me write it down."

"And now, young sir," said the Preacher, when he had answered all
the eager questions of Barnabas as fully as he might, "now, young sir,
you know I have small cause to love the man--Chichester, but, remember,
you are rich already, and if you take this heritage also,--he will be
destitute."

"Sir," said Barnabas, frowning, "better one destitute and starving,
than that many should be wretched, surely."

The Preacher sighed and shook his head.

"Young sir, good-by," said he, "I have a feeling we may meet again,
but life is very uncertain, therefore I would beg of you to remember
this: as you are strong, be gentle; as you are rich, generous; and
as you are young, wise. But, above all, be merciful, and strive to
forgive wrongs." So they clasped hands, then, sighing, the Preacher
turned and plodded on his lonely way. But, long after he had
vanished down the moonlit road, Barnabas stood, his fists clenched,
his mouth set, until he was roused by a sound near by, a very small
sound like the jingle of distant spurs. Therefore, Barnabas lifted
his head, and glanced about him, but seeing no one, presently went
his way, slow of foot and very thoughtful.



CHAPTER XLII


IN WHICH SHALL BE FOUND FURTHER MENTION OF A FINGER-POST

The hands of Natty Bell's great watch were pointing to the hour of
nine, what time Barnabas dismounted at the cross-roads, and
tethering Four-legs securely, leaned his back against the ancient
finger-post to wait the coming of Cleone.

Now being old, and having looked upon many and divers men (and women)
in its day, it is to be supposed that the ancient finger-post took
more or less interest in such things as chanced in its immediate
vicinity. Thus, it is probable that it rightly defined why this
particular long-legged human sighed so often, now with his gaze upon
the broad disc of the moon, now upon a certain point of the road
ahead, and was not in the least surprised to see Barnabas start
forward, bareheaded, to meet her who came swift and light of foot;
to see her pause before him, quick-breathing, blushing, sighing,
trembling; to see how glance met glance; to see him stoop to kiss the
hand she gave him, and all--without a word. Surprised? not a bit of
it, for to a really observant finger-post all humans (both he and she)
are much alike at such times.

"I began to fear you wouldn't come," said Barnabas, finding voice at
last.

"But to-night is--Barnaby Bright, and the prophecy must be fulfilled,
sir. And--oh, how wonderful the moon is!" Now, lifting her head to
look at it, her hood must needs take occasion to slip back upon her
shoulders, as if eager to reveal her loveliness,--the high beauty of
her face, the smooth round column of her throat, and the shining
wonder of her hair.

"Cleone--how beautiful you are!"

And here ensued another silence while Cleone gazed up at the moon,
and Barnabas at Cleone.

But the ancient finger-post (being indeed wonderfully knowing--for a
finger-post) well understood the meaning of such silences, and was
quite aware of the tremble of the strong fingers that still held hers,
and why, in the shadow of her cloak, her bosom hurried so. Oh! be
sure the finger-post knew the meaning of it all, since humans, of
every degree, are only men and women after all.

"Cleone, when will you--marry me?"

Now here my lady stole a quick glance at him, and immediately looked
up at the moon again, because the eyes that could burn so fiercely
could hold such ineffable tenderness also.

"You are very--impetuous, I think," she sighed.

"But I--love you," said Barnabas, "not only for your beauty, but
because you are Cleone, and there is no one else in the world like
you. But, because I love you so much, it--it is very hard to tell
you of it. If I could only put it into fine-sounding phrases--"

"Don't!" said my lady quickly, and laid a slender (though very
imperious) finger upon his lips.

"Why?" Barnabas inquired, very properly kissing the finger and
holding it there.

"Because I grow tired of fine phrases and empty compliments, and
because, sir--"

"Have you forgotten that my name is Barnabas?" he demanded, kissing
the captive finger again, whereupon it struggled--though very feebly,
to be sure.

"And because, Barnabas, you would be breaking your word."

"How?"

"You must only tell me--that, when 'the sun is shining, and friends
are within call,'--have you forgotten your own words so soon?"

Now, as she spoke Barnabas beheld the dimple--that most elusive
dimple, that came and went and came again, beside the scarlet lure
of her mouth; therefore he drew her nearer until he could look, for
a moment, into the depths of her eyes. But here, seeing the glowing
intensity of his gaze, becoming aware of the strong, compelling arm
about her, feeling the quiver of the hand that held her own, lo! in
that instant my lady, with her sly bewitchments, her coquettish airs
and graces, was gone, and in her place was the maid--quick-breathing,
blushing, trembling, all in a moment.

"Ah, no!" she pleaded, "Barnabas, no!" Then Barnabas sighed, and
loosed his clasp--but behold! the dimple was peeping at him again.
And in that moment he caught her close, and thus, for the first time,
their lips met.

Oh, privileged finger-post to have witnessed that first kiss! To
have seen her start away and turn; to have felt her glowing cheek
pressed to thy hoary timbers; to have felt the sweet, quick tumult
of her bosom! Oh, thrice happy finger-post! To have seen young
Barnabas, radiant-faced, and with all heaven in his eyes! Oh, most
fortunate of finger-posts to have seen and felt all this, and to
have heard the rapture thrilling in his voice:

"Cleone!"

"Oh!" she whispered, "why--why did you?"

"Because I love you!"

"No other man ever dared to--"

"Heaven be praised!"

"Upon--the mouth!" she added, her face still hidden.

"Then I have set my seal upon it."

"And now,--am I--immaculate?"

"Oh--forgive me!"

"No!"

"Look at me."

"No!"

"Are you angry?"

"Yes, I--think I am, Barnabas,--oh, very!"

"Forgive me!" said Barnabas again.

"First," said my lady, throwing up her head, "am I--heartless and
a--coquette?"

"No, indeed, no! Oh, Cleone, is it possible you could learn to--love
me, in time?"

"I--I don't know."

"Some day, Cleone?"

"I--I didn't come to answer--idle questions, sir," says my lady,
suddenly demure. "It must be nearly half-past nine--I must go. I
forgot to tell you--Mr. Chichester is coming to meet me to-night--"

"To meet you? Where?" demanded Barnabas, fierce-eyed all at once.

"Here, Barnabas. But don't look so--so murderous!"

"Chichester--here!"

"At a quarter to ten, Barnabas. That is why I must go at--half-past
nine--Barnabas, stop! Oh, Barnabas, you're crushing me! Not again,
sir,--I forbid you--please, Barnabas!"

So Barnabas loosed her, albeit regretfully, and stood watching while
she dexterously twisted, and smoothed, and patted her shining hair
into some semblance of order; and while so doing, she berated him,
on this wise:

"Indeed, sir, but you're horribly strong. And very hasty. And your
hands are very large. And I fear you have a dreadful temper. And I
know my hair is all anyhow,--isn't it?"

"It is beautiful!" sighed Barnabas.

"Mm! You told me that in Annersley Wood, sir."

"You haven't forgotten, then?"

"Oh, no," answered Cleone, shaking her head, "but I would have you
more original, you see,--so many men have told me that. Ah! now
you're frowning again, and it's nearly time for me to go, and I
haven't had a chance to mention what I came for, which, of course,
is all your fault, Barnabas. To-day, I received a letter from Ronald.
He writes that he has been ill, but is better. And yet, I fear, he
must be very weak still, for oh! it's such poor, shaky writing. Was
he very ill when you saw him?"

"No," answered Barnabas.

"Here is the letter,--will you read it? You see, I have no one who
will talk to me about poor Ronald, no one seems to have any pity for
him,--not even my dear Tyrant."

"But you will always have me, Cleone!"

"Always, Barnabas?"

"Always."

So Barnabas took Ronald Barrymaine's letter, and opening it, saw
that it was indeed scrawled in characters so shaky as to be
sometimes almost illegible; but, holding it in the full light of the
moon, he read as follows:

  DEAREST OF SISTERS,--I was unable to keep the appointment
  I begged for in my last, owing to a sudden indisposition,
  and, though better now, I am still ailing. I fear my many
  misfortunes are rapidly undermining my health, and
  sometimes I sigh for Death and Oblivion. But, dearest Cleone,
  I forbid you to grieve for me, I am man enough, I hope,
  to endure my miseries uncomplainingly, as a man and a gentleman
  should. Chichester, with his unfailing kindness, has offered me
  an asylum at his country place near Headcorn, where I hope to
  regain something of my wonted health. But for Chichester I
  tremble to think what would have been my fate long
  before this. At Headcorn I shall at least be nearer you,
  my best of sisters, and it is my hope that you may be
  persuaded to steal away now and then, to spend an hour
  with two lonely bachelors, and cheer a brother's solitude.
  Ah, Cleone! Chichester's devotion to you is touching, such
  patient adoration must in time meet with its reward. By
  your own confession you have nothing against him but
  the fact that he worships you too ardently, and this, most
  women would think a virtue. And remember, he is your
  luckless brother's only friend. This is the only man who
  has stood by me in adversity, the only man who can help
  me to retrieve the past, the only man a truly loving sister
  should honor with her regard. All women are more or
  less selfish. Oh, Cleone, be the exception and give my
  friend the answer he seeks, the answer he has sought of
  you already, the answer which to your despairing brother
  means more than you can ever guess, the answer whereby
  you can fulfil the promise you gave our dying mother to
  help

  Your unfortunate brother,

  RONALD BARRYMAINE.

Now, as he finished reading, Barnabas frowned, tore the letter
across in sudden fury, and looked up to find Cleone frowning also:

"You have torn my letter!"

"Abominable!" said Barnabas fiercely.

"How dared you?"

"It is the letter of a coward and weakling!"

"My brother, sir!"

"Half-brother."

"And you insult him!"

"He would sell you to a--" Barnabas choked.

"Mr. Chichester is my brother's friend."

"His enemy!"

"And poor Ronald is sick--"

"With brandy!"

"Oh--not that!" she cried sharply, "not that!"

"Didn't you know?"

"I only--dreaded it. His father--died of it. Oh, sir--oh, Barnabas!
there is no one else who will help him--save him from--that! You
will try, won't you?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, setting his jaw, "no one can help a man
against his will, but I'll try. And I ask you to remember that if I
succeed or not, I shall never expect any recompense from you, never!"

"Unless, Barnabas--" said Cleone, softly.

"Unless--oh, Cleone, unless you should--some day learn to--love
me--just a little, Cleone?"

"Would--just a little, satisfy you?"

"No," said Barnabas, "no, I want you all--all--all. Oh, Cleone, will
you marry me?"

"You are very persistent, sir, and I must go."

"Not yet,--pray not yet."

"Please, Barnabas. I would not care to see Mr. Chichester--to-night."

"No," sighed Barnabas, "you must go. But first,--will you--?"

"Not again, Barnabas!" And she gave him her two hands. So he stopped
and kissed them instead. Then she turned and left him standing
bareheaded under the finger-post. But when she had gone but a little
way she paused and spoke to him over her shoulder:

"Will you--write to me--sometimes?"

"Oh--may I?"

"Please, Barnabas,--to tell me of--my brother."

"And when can I see you again?"

"Ah! who can tell?" she answered. And so, smiling a little, blushing
a little, she hastened away.

Now, when she was gone, Barnabas stooped, very reverently, and
pressed his lips to the ancient finger-post, on that spot where her
head had rested, and sighed, and turned towards his great, black
horse.

But, even as he did so, he heard again that soft sound that was like
the faint jingle of spurs, the leaves of the hedge rustled, and out
into the moonlight stepped a tall figure, wild of aspect, bareheaded
and bare of foot; one who wore his coat wrong side out, and who,
laying his hand upon his bosom, bowed in stately fashion, once to
the moon and once to him.

  "Oh, Barnaby Bright, Barnaby Bright,
  The moon's awake, and shines all night!"

"Do you remember, Barnaby Bright, how I foretold we should meet
again--under an orbed moon? Was I not right? She's fair, Barnaby,
and passing fair, and very proud,--but all good, beautiful women are
proud, and hard in the winning,--oh, I know! Billy Button knows! My
buttons jingled, so I turned my coat, though I'm no turn-coat; once
a friend, always a friend. So I followed you, Barnaby Bright, I came
to warn you of the shadow,--it grows blacker every day,--back there
in the great city, waiting for you, Barnaby Bright, to smother
you--to quench hope, and light, and life itself. But I shall be there,
--and She. Aha! She shall forget all things then--even her pride.
Shadows have their uses, Barnaby, even the blackest. I came a long
way--oh, I followed you. But poor Billy is never weary, the Wise
Ones bear him up in their arms sometimes. So I followed you--and
another, also, though he didn't know it. Oho! would you see me
conjure you a spirit from the leaves yonder,--ah! but an evil spirit,
this! Shall I? Watch now! See, thus I set my feet! Thus I lift my
arms to the moon!"

So saying, the speaker flung up his long arms, and with his gaze
fixed upon a certain part of the hedge, lifted his voice and spoke:

"Oho, lurking spirit among the shadows! Ho! come forth, I summon ye.
The dew is thick amid the leaves, and dew is an evil thing for
purple and fine linen. Oho, stand forth, I bid ye."

There followed a moment's utter silence, then--another rustle amid
the leaves, and Mr. Chichester stepped out from the shadows.

"Ah, sir," said Barnabas, consulting his watch, "you are just
twenty-three minutes before your time. Nevertheless you are, I think,
too late."

Mr. Chichester glanced at Barnabas from head to foot, and, observing
his smile, Barnabas clenched his fists.

"Too late, sir?" repeated Mr. Chichester softly, shaking his head,
"no,--indeed I think not. Howbeit there are times and occasions when
solitude appeals to me; this is one. Pray, therefore, be good enough
to--go, and--ah--take your barefooted friend with you."

"First, sir," said Barnabas, bowing with aggressive politeness,
"first, I humbly beg leave to speak with you, to--"

"Sir," said Mr. Chichester, gently tapping a nettle out of existence
with his cane, "sir, I have no desire for your speeches, they, like
yourself, I find a little trying, and vastly uninteresting. I prefer
to stay here and meditate a while. I bid you good night, sir, a
pleasant ride."

"None the less, sir," said Barnabas, beginning to smile, "I fear I
must inflict myself upon you a moment longer, to warn you that I--"

"To warn me? Again? Oh, sir, I grow weary of your warnings, I do
indeed! Pray go away and warn somebody else. Pray go, and let me
stare upon the moon and twiddle my thumbs until--"

"If it is the Lady Cleone you wait for, she is gone!" said Youth,
quick and impetuous.

"Ah!" sighed Mr. Chichester, viewing Barnabas through narrowed eyes,
"gone, you say? But then, young sir," here he gently poked a
dock-leaf into ruin, "but then, Cleone is one of your tempting, warm,
delicious creatures! Cleone is a skilled coquette to whom all men
are--men. To-night it is--you, to-morrow--" Mr. Chichester's right
hand vanished into his bosom as Barnabas strode forward, but, on the
instant, Billy Button was between them.

"Stay, my Lord!" he cried, "look upon this face,--'t is the face of
my friend Barnaby Bright, but, my Lord, it is also the face of
Joan's son. You've heard tell of Joan, poor Joan who was unhappy,
and ran away, and got lost,--you'll mind Joan Beverley?" Now, in the
pause that followed, as Mr. Chichester gazed at Barnabas, his
narrowed eyes opened, little by little, his compressed lips grew
slowly loose, and the tasselled cane slipped from his fingers, and
lay all neglected.

"Sir," said Barnabas at last, "this is what I would have told you. I
am the lawful son of Joan Beverley, whose maiden name I took for--a
purpose. I have but to prove my claim and I can dispossess you of
the inheritance you hold, which is mine by right. But, sir, I have
enough for my needs, and I am, therefore, prepared to forego my just
claim--on a condition."

Mr. Chichester neither moved nor spoke.

"My condition," Barnabas continued, "is this. That, from this hour,
you loose whatever hold you have upon Ronald Barrymaine,--that you
have no further communication with him, either by word or letter.
Failing this, I institute proceedings at once, and will dispossess
you as soon as may be. Sir, you have heard my condition, it is for
you to answer."

But, as he ended, Billy Button pointed a shaking finger downwards at
the grass midway between them, and spoke:

"Look!" he whispered, "look! Do you not see it--bubbling so dark,
--down there among the grass? Ah! it reaches your feet, Barnaby
Bright. But--look yonder! it rises to his heart,--look!" and with a
sudden, wild gesture, he pointed to Chichester's rigid figure.
"Blood!" he cried, "blood!--cover it up! Oh, hide it--hide it!" Then,
turning about, he sped away, his muffled buttons jingling faintly as
he went, and so was presently gone.

Then Barnabas loosed his horse and mounted, and, with never a glance
nor word to the silent figure beneath the finger-post, galloped away
London-wards.

Now, had it been possible for a worn and decrepit finger-post to be
endued with the faculty of motion (which, in itself, is a ridiculous
thought, of course), it is probable that this particular one would
have torn itself up bodily, and hastened desperately after Barnabas
to point him away--away, east or west, or north or south,--anywhere,
so long as it was far enough from him who stood so very still, and
who stared with such eyes so long upon the moon, with his right hand
still hidden in his breast, while the vivid mark glowed, and glowed
upon the pallor of his cheek.



CHAPTER XLIII


IN WHICH BARNABAS MAKES A  BET, AND RECEIVES A WARNING

The fifteenth of July was approaching, and the Polite World, the
World of Fashion, was stirred to its politest depths. In the clubs
speculation was rife, the hourly condition of horses and riders was
discussed gravely and at length, while betting-books fluttered
everywhere. In crowded drawing-rooms and dainty boudoirs, love and
horse-flesh went together, and everywhere was a pleasurable
uncertainty, since there were known to be at least four competitors
whose chances were practically equal. Therefore the Polite World,
gravely busied with its cards or embroidery, and at the same time
striving mentally to compute the exact percentage of these chances,
was occasionally known to revoke, or prick its dainty finger.

Even that other and greater world, which is neither fashionable nor
polite,--being too busy gaining the wherewithal to exist,--even in
fetid lanes and teeming streets, in dingy offices and dingier places
still, the same excitement prevailed; busy men forgot their business
awhile; crouching clerks straightened their stooping backs, became
for the nonce fabulously rich, and airily bet each other vast sums
that Carnaby's "Clasher" would do it in a canter, that Viscount
Devenham's "Moonraker" would have it in a walk-over, that the
Marquis of Jerningham's "Clinker" would leave the field nowhere, and
that Captain Slingsby's "Rascal" would run away with it.

Yes, indeed, all the world was agog, rich and poor, high and low.
Any barefooted young rascal scampering along the kennel could have
named you the four likely winners in a breath, and would willingly
have bet his ragged shirt upon his choice, had there been any takers.

Thus, then, the perspicacious waiter at the "George" who, it will be
remembered, on his own avowal usually kept his eyes and ears open,
and could, therefore, see as far through a brick wall as most, knew
at once that the tall young gentleman in the violet coat with silver
buttons, the buckled hat and glossy Hessians, whose sprigged
waistcoat and tortuous cravat were wonders among their kind, was
none other than a certain Mr. Beverley, who had succeeded in
entering his horse at the last possible moment, and who, though an
outsider with not the remotest chance of winning, was, nevertheless,
something of a buck and dandy, the friend of a Marquis and Viscount,
and hence worthy of all respect. Therefore the perspicacious waiter
at the "George" viewed Barnabas with the eye of reverence, his back
was subservient, and his napkin eloquent of eager service, also he
bowed as frequently and humbly as such expensive and elegant attire
merited; for the waiter at the "George" had as just and reverent a
regard for fine clothes as any fine gentleman in the Fashionable
World.

"A chair, sir!" Here a flick of the officious napkin. "Now shall we
say a chop, sir?" Here a smiling obeisance. "Or shall we make it a
steak, sir--cut thick, sir--medium done, and with--"

"No, thank you," said Barnabas, laying aside hat and cane.

"No, sir? Very good, sir! Certainly not, sir! A cut o' b'iled beef
might suit, p'raps,--with carrots? or shall we say--"

"Neither, thank you, but you can bring me a bottle of Burgundy and
the Gazette."

"Burgundy, sir--Gazette? Certainly, sir--"

"And--I'm expecting a gentleman here of the name of Smivvle--"

"Certainly, sir! Burgundy, Gazette, Gent name of Sniffle, yessir!
Hanythink else, sir?"

"Yes, I should like pens and ink and paper."

"Yessir--himmediately, sir." Hereupon, and with many and divers bows
and flicks of the napkin, the waiter proceeded to set out the
articles in question, which done, he flicked himself out of the room.
But he was back again almost immediately, and had uncorked the
bottle and filled the glass with a flourish, a dexterity, a
promptness, accorded only to garments of the very best and most
ultra-fashionable cut. Then, with a bow that took in bestarched
cravat, betasselled Hessians, and all garments between, the waiter
fluttered away. So, in a while, Barnabas took pen and paper, and
began the following letter:

       *       *       *       *       *

  MY DEAR FATHER AND NATTY BELL,--Since writing
  my last letter to you, I have bought a house near St.
  James's, and set up an establishment second to none. I
  will confess that I find myself like to be overawed by my
  retinue of servants, and their grave and decorous politeness;
  I also admit that dinner is an ordeal of courses,--
  each of which, I find, requires a different method of attack;
  for indeed, in the Polite World, it seems that eating is
  cherished as one of its most important functions, hence,
  dining is an art whereof the proper manipulation of the
  necessary tools is an exact science. However, by treating
  my servants with a dignified disregard, and by dint of
  using my eyes while at table, I have committed no great
  solecism so far, I trust, and am rapidly gaining in knowledge
  and confidence.

  I am happy to tell you that I have the good fortune
  to be entered for the Gentlemen's Steeplechase, a most
  exclusive affair, which is to be brought off at Eltham on
  the fifteenth of next month. From all accounts it will
  be a punishing Race, with plenty of rough going,--
  plough, fallow, hedge and ditch, walls, stake-fences and
  water. The walls and water-jump are, I hear, the worst.

  Now, although I shall be riding against some of the
  best horsemen in England, still I venture to think I
  can win, and this for three reasons. First, because I intend
  to try to the uttermost--with hand and heel and head.
  Secondly, because I have bought a horse--such a horse
  as I have only dreamed of ever possessing,--all fire and
  courage, with a long powerful action--Oh, Natty Bell,
  if you could but see him! Rising six, he is, with tushes
  well through,--even your keen eye could find no flaw in
  him, though he is, perhaps, a shade long in the cannon.
  And, thirdly, I am hopeful to win because I was taught
  horse-craft by that best, wisest of riders, Natty Bell.
  Very often, I remember, you have told me, Natty Bell,
  that races are won more by judgment of the rider than by
  the speed of the horse, nor shall I forget this. Thus
  then, sure of my horse, sure of myself, and that kind
  Destiny which has brought me successfully thus far, I
  shall ride light-hearted and confident.

  Yet, my dears, should I win or lose, I would have you
  remember me always as

  Your dutiful, loving

  BARNABAS.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, as Barnabas laid down his pen, he became aware of voices and
loud laughter from the adjacent coffee-room, and was proceeding to
fold and seal his letter when he started and raised his head, roused
by the mention of his own name spoken in soft, deliberate tones that
he instantly recognized:

"Ah, so you have met this Mr. Beverley?"

"Yes," drawled another, deeper voice, "the Duchess introduced him to
me. Who the deuce is he, Chichester?"

"My dear Carnaby, pray ask Devenham, or Jerningham, he's their
protege--not mine."

"Sir," broke in the Viscount's voice, speaking at its very iciest,--
"Mr. Beverley is--my friend!"

"And mine also, I trust!" thus the Marquis.

"Exactly!" rejoined Mr. Chichester's smooth tones, "and, consequently,
despite his mysterious origin, he is permitted to ride in the
Steeplechase among the very élite of the sporting world--"

"And why not, b'gad?" Captain Slingsby's voice sounded louder and
gruffer than usual, "I'll warrant him a true-blue,--sportsman every
inch, and damme! one of the right sort too,--sit a horse with any
man,--bird at a fence, and ready to give or take odds on his chances,
I'll swear--"

"Now really," Mr. Chichester's tone was softer than ever, "he would
seem to be a general favorite here. Still, it would, at least,
be--interesting to know exactly who and what he is."

"Yes," Sir Mortimer's voice chimed in, "and only right in justice to
ourselves. Seems to me, now I come to think of it, I've seen him
somewhere or other, before we were introduced,--be shot if I know
where, though."

"In the--country, perhaps?" the Viscount suggested.

"Like as not," returned Sir Mortimer carelessly. "But, as Chichester
says, it _is_ devilish irregular to allow any Tom, Dick, or Harry to
enter for such a race as this. If, as Sling suggests, the fellow is
willing to back himself, it would, at least, be well to know that he
could cover his bets."

"Sir Mortimer!" the Viscount's tone was colder and sharper than
before, "you will permit me, in the first place, to tell you that
his name is neither Tom, nor Dick, nor Harry. And in the second place,
I would remind you that the gentleman honors me with his friendship.
And in the third place, that I suffer no one to cast discredit upon
my friends. D'you take me, Sir Mortimer?"

There followed a moment of utter stillness, then the sudden scrape
and shuffle of feet, and thereafter Carnaby's voice, a little raised
and wholly incredulous:

"What, Viscount,--d'you mean to take this fellow's part--against me?"

"Most certainly, if need be."

But here, before Sir Mortimer could reply, all five started and
turned as the door opened and Barnabas appeared on the threshold.

"Viscount," said he, "for that I thank you most sincerely, most
deeply. But, indeed, it will not be necessary, seeing I am here to
do it for myself, and to answer such questions as I think--proper."

"Ah, Mr.--Beverley!" drawled Sir Mortimer, seating himself on the
tale and crossing his legs, "you come pat, and since you are here, I
desire a word with you."

"As many as you wish, sir," answered Barnabas, and he looked very
youthful as he bowed his curly head.

"It would seem, Mr. Beverley, that you are something of a mystery,
and I, for one, don't like mysteries. Then it has been suggested
that you and I have met before our introduction, and, egad! now I
come to look at you more attentively, your face does seem familiar,
and I am curious to know who you may happen to be?"

"Sir," said Barnabas, looking more youthful than ever, "such rare
condescension, such lively interest in my concerns, touches
me--touches me deeply," and he bowed, lower than before.

"Suppose, sir," retorted Sir Mortimer, his cheek flushing a little,
"suppose you answer my question, and tell me plainly who and what
you are?" and he stared at Barnabas, swinging his leg to and fro as
he awaited his reply.

"Sir," said Barnabas, "I humbly beg leave to remark, that as to who
I am can concern only my--friends. As to what I am concerns only my
Maker and myself--"

"Oh, vastly fine," nodded Sir Mortimer, "but that's no answer."

"And yet I greatly fear it must suffice--for you, sir," sighed
Barnabas. Sir Mortimer's swinging foot grew still, and he frowned
suddenly.

"Now look you, sir," said he slowly, and with a menace in his eyes,
"when I trouble to ask a question, I expect an answer--"

"Alas, sir,--even your expectations may occasionally be disappointed,"
said Barnabas, beginning to smile aggressively. "But, as to my
resources, I do not lack for money, and am ready, here and now, to
lay you, or any one else, a thousand guineas that I shall be one of
the first three to pass the winning-post on the fifteenth."

Sir Mortimer's frown grew more ominous, the flush deepened in his
cheeks, and his powerful right hand clenched itself, then he laughed.

"Egad! you have plenty of assurance, sir. It is just possible that
you may have ridden--now and then?"

"Sufficiently to know one end of a horse from the other, sir,"
retorted Barnabas, his smile rather grim.

"And you are willing to bet a thousand guineas that you ride third
among all the best riders in the three kingdoms, are you?"

"No, sir," said Barnabas, shaking his head, "the bet was a rash one,
--I humbly beg leave to withdraw it. Instead, I will bet five
thousand guineas that I pass the winning-post before you do, Sir
Mortimer."

Carnaby's smile vanished, and he stared up at calm-eyed Barnabas in
open-mouthed astonishment.

"You're not mad, are you?" he demanded at last, his red under-lip
curling.

"Sir," said Barnabas, taking out his memorandum, "it is now your
turn to answer. Do you take my bet?"

"Take it!" cried Sir Mortimer fiercely, "yes! I'll double it--make
it ten thousand guineas, sir!"

"Fifteen if you wish," said Barnabas, his pencil poised.

"No, by God! but I'll add another five and make it an even twenty
thousand!"

"May I suggest you double instead, and make it thirty?" inquired
Barnabas.

"Ha!--may I venture to ask how much higher you are prepared to go?"

"Why, sir," said Barnabas thoughtfully, "I have some odd six hundred
thousand pounds, and I am prepared to risk--a half."

"Vastly fine, sir!" laughed Sir Mortimer, "why not put it at a round
million and have done with it. No, egad! I want something more than
your word--"

"You might inquire of my bankers," Barnabas suggested.

"Twenty thousand will suit me very well, sir!" nodded Sir Mortimer.

"Then you take me at that figure, Sir Mortimer?"

"Yes, I bet you twenty thousand guineas that you do not pass the
winning-post ahead of me! And what's more,--non-starters to forfeit
their money! Oh, egad,--I'll take you!"

"And I also," said Mr. Chichester, opening his betting-book. "Gentlemen,
you are all witnesses of the bet. Come, Viscount,--Slingsby,--here's
good money going a-begging--why not gather it in--eh, Marquis?" But
the trio sat very silent, so that the scratch of Sir Mortimer's pencil
could be plainly heard as he duly registered his bet, which done,
he turned his attention to Barnabas again, looking him up and down
with his bold, black eyes.

"Hum!" said he musingly, "it sticks in my mind that I have seen
you--somewhere or other, before we met at Sir George Annersley's.
Perhaps you will tell me where?"

"With pleasure, sir," answered Barnabas, putting away his memorandum
book, "it was in Annersley Wood, rather early in the morning. And
you wore--"

"Annersley--Wood!" Sir Mortimer's careless, lounging air vanished,
and he stared at Barnabas with dilating eyes.

"And you wore, I remember, a bottle-green coat, which I had the
misfortune to tear, sir."

And here there fell a silence, once more, but ominous now, and full
of menace; a pregnant stillness, wherein the Viscount sat leaned
forward, his hands clutching his chair-arms, his gaze fixed upon
Barnabas; as for the Marquis, he had taken out his snuff-box and, in
his preoccupation, came very near inhaling a pinch; while Captain
Slingsby sat open-mouthed. Then, all at once, Sir Mortimer was on
his feet and had caught up a heavy riding-whip, and thus he and
Barnabas fronted each other, eye to eye,--each utterly still, yet
very much on the alert.

But now upon this tense silence came the soft, smooth tones of
Mr. Chichester:

"Pray, Mr. Beverley, may I speak a word with you--in private?"

"If the company will excuse us," Barnabas replied; whereupon
Mr. Chichester rose and led the way into the adjoining room,
and, closing the door, took a folded letter from his pocket.

"Sir," said he, "I would remind you that the last time we met,
you warned me,--indeed you have a weakness for warning people, it
seems,--you also threatened me that unless I agreed to--certain
conditions, you would dispossess me of my inheritance--"

"And I repeat it," said Barnabas.

"Oh, sir, save your breath and listen," smiled Mr. Chichester,
"for let me tell you, threats beget threats, and warnings, warnings!
Here is one, which I think--yes, which I venture to think you will
heed!" So saying, he unfolded the letter and laid it upon the table.
Barnabas glanced at it, hesitated, then stooping, read as follows:

  DEAR LADY CLEONE,--I write this to warn you that the person calling
  himself Mr. Beverley, and posing as a gentleman of wealth and
  breeding, is, in reality, nothing better than a rich vulgarian, one
  Barnabas Barty, son of a country inn-keeper. The truth of which
  shall be proved to your complete satisfaction whenever you will, by:

  Yours always humbly to command,

  WILFRED CHICHESTER.

Now when he had finished reading, Barnabas sank down into a chair,
and, leaning his elbows upon the table, hid his face between his
hands; seeing which, Mr. Chichester laughed softly, and taking up
the letter, turned to the door. "Sir," said he, "as I mentioned
before, threats beget threats. Now,--you move, and I move. I tell you,
if you presume to interfere with me again in any way,--or with my
future plans in any way, then, in that same hour, Cleone shall know
you for the impudent impostor you are!" So Mr. Chichcster laughed
again, and laid his hand upon the latch of the door. But Barnabas
sat rigid, and did not move or lift his heavy head even when the
door opened and closed, and he knew he was alone.

Very still lie sat there, crouched above the table, his face hidden
in his hands, until he was roused by a cough, the most perfectly
discreet and gentleman-like cough in the world, such a cough, indeed,
as only a born waiter could emit.

"Sir," inquired the waiter, his napkin in a greater flutter than ever,
as Barnabas looked up, "sir,--is there hanythink you're wanting, sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, heavily, "you can--give me--my hat!"



CHAPTER XLIV


OF THE TRIBULATIONS OF THE LEGS OF THE GENTLEMAN-IN-POWDER

The Gentleman-in-Powder, aware of a knocking, yawned, laid aside the
"Gazette," and getting upon his legs (which, like all things truly
dignified, were never given to hurry), they, in due season, brought
him to the door, albeit they shook with indignant quiverings at the
increasing thunder of each repeated summons. Therefore the
Gentleman-in-Powder, with his hand upon the latch, having paused
long enough to vindicate and compose his legs, proceeded to open the
portal of Number Five, St. James's Square; but, observing the person
of the importunate knocker, with that classifying and discriminating
eye peculiar to footmen, immediately frowned and shook his head:

"The hother door, me man,--marked 'tradesmen,'" said he, the angle
of his nose a little more supercilious than usual, "and ring only,
_if_ you please." Having said which, he shut the door again; that
is to say,--very nearly, for strive as he might, his efforts were
unavailing, by reason of a round and somewhat battered object which,
from its general conformation, he took to be the end of a formidable
bludgeon or staff. But, applying his eye to the aperture, he saw
that this very obtrusive object was nothing more or less than a leg
(that is to say, a wooden one), which was attached to the person of
a burly, broad-shouldered, fiercely bewhiskered man in clothes of
navy-blue, a man whose hairy, good-natured visage was appropriately
shaded by a very shiny glazed hat.

"Avast there!" said this personage in deep, albeit jovial tones,
"ease away there, my lad,--stand by and let old Timbertoes come
aboard!"

But the Gentleman-in-Powder was not to be cajoled. He sniffed.

"The hother door, me good feller!" he repeated, relentless but
dignified, "and ring only, _if_ you pl--"

The word was frozen upon his horrified lip, for Timbertoes had
actually set his blue-clad shoulder to the door, and now, bending
his brawny back, positively began to heave at it with might and main,
cheering and encouraging himself meanwhile with sundry nautical
"yo ho's." And all this in broad daylight! In St. James's Square!

Whereupon ensued the following colloquy:

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (pushing from within. Shocked and amazed).
"Wot's this? Stop it! Get out now, d'ye hear!"

_Timbertoes_ (pushing from without. In high good humor). "With a ho,
my hearties, and a merrily heave O!"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (struggling almost manfully, though legs
highly agitated). "I--I'll give you in c-charge! I'll--"

_Timbertoes_ (encouraging an imaginary crew). "Cheerily! Cheerily!
heave yo ho!"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (losing ground rapidly. Condition of legs
indescribable). "I never--see nothing--like this here! I'll--"

_Timbertoes_ (all shoulders, whiskers and pig-tail). "With a heave and
a ho, and up she rises O!"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (extricating his ruffled dignity from
between wall and door). "Oh, very good,--I'll give you in charge for
this, you--you feller! Look at me coat! I'll send for a constable.
I'll--"

_Timbertoes_. "Belay, my lad! This here's Number Five, ain't it?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (glancing down apprehensively at his
quivering legs). "Yes,--and I'll--"

_Timbertoes_. "Cap'n Beverley's craft, ain't it?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (re-adjusting his ruffled finery). "_Mister_
Beverley occipies this here res-eye-dence!"

_Timbertoes_ (_nodding_). "Mister Beverley,--oh, ah, for sure. Well,
is 'e aboard?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (with lofty sarcasm). "No, 'e ain't! Nor a
stick, nor a stock, nor yet a chair, nor a table. And, wot's more,
'e ain't one to trouble about the likes o' you, neether."

_Timbertoes_. "Belay, my lad, and listen. I'm Jerry Tucker, late
Bo'sun in 'is Britannic Majesty's navy,--'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four.
D'ye get that? Well, now listen again. According to orders I hove
anchor and bore up for London very early this morning, but being
strange to these 'ere waters, was obleeged to haul my wind and stand
off and on till I fell in with a pilot, d'ye see. But, though late,
here I am all ship-shape and a-taunto, and with despatches safe and
sound. Watch, now!" Hereupon the Bo'sun removed the glazed hat, held
it to his hairy ear, shook it, nodded, and from somewhere in its
interior took out and held up three letters.

"D'ye see those, my lad?" he inquired.

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (haughtily). "I ain't blind!"

_Timbertoes_. "Why then--you'll know what they are, p'raps?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (witheringly). "Nor I ain't a fool, neether."

_Timbertoes_ (dubiously). "Ain't you, though?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (legs again noticeably agitated). "No, I
ain't. I've got all _my_ faculties about _me_."

_Timbertoes_ (shaking head incredulously). "Ah! but where do you stow
'em away?"

_The Gentleman-in-Powder_ (legs convulsed). "And--wot's more, I've got
my proper amount o' limbs too!"

_Timbertoes_. "Limbs? If it's legs you're meaning, I should say as
you'd got more nor your fair share,--you're all legs, you are! Why,
Lord! you're grow'd to legs so surprising, as I wonder they don't
walk off with you, one o'these here dark nights, and--lose you!"

But at this juncture came Peterby, sedate, grave, soft of voice as
became a major-domo and the pink of a gentleman's gentleman, before
whose quick bright eye the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder grew, as
it were, suddenly abashed, and to whom the Bo'sun, having made a leg,
forthwith addressed himself.

"Sarvent, sir--name o' Jerry Tucker, late Bo'sun, 'Bully-Sawyer,'
Seventy-four; come aboard with despatches from his Honor Cap'n
Chumly and my Lady Cleone Meredith. To see Mr. Barnabas Beverley,
Esquire. To give these here despatches into Mr. Beverley Esquire's
own 'and. Them's my orders, sir."

"Certainly, Bo'sun," said Peterby; and, to the Gentleman-in-Powder,
his bow was impressive; "pray step this way."

So the Bo'sun, treading as softly as his wooden leg would allow,
stumped after him upstairs and along a thickly carpeted corridor, to
a certain curtained door upon which Peterby gently knocked, and
thereafter opening, motioned the Bo'sun to enter.

It was a small and exquisitely furnished, yet comfortable room,
whose luxurious appointments,--the rich hangings, the rugs upon the
floor, the pictures adorning the walls,--one and all bore evidence
to the rare taste, the fine judgment of this one-time poacher of
rabbits, this quiet-voiced man with the quick, bright eyes, and the
subtly humorous mouth. But, just now, John Peterby was utterly
serious as he glanced across to where, bowed down across the
writing-table, his head pillowed upon his arms, his whole attitude
one of weary, hopeless dejection, sat Barnabas Beverley, Esquire. A
pen was in his lax fingers, while upon the table and littering the
floor were many sheets of paper, some half covered with close writing,
some crumpled and torn, some again bearing little more than a name;
but in each and every case the name was always the same. Thus, John
Peterby, seeing this drooping, youthful figure, sighed and shook his
head, and went out, closing the door behind him.

"Is that you, John?" inquired Barnabas, with bowed head.

"No, sir, axing your pardon, it be only me, Jerry Tucker, Bo'sun,
--'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy--"

"Bo'sun!"  With the word Barnabas was upon his feet. "Why, Bo'sun,"
he cried, wringing the sailor's hand, "how glad I am to see you!"

"Mr. Beverley, sir," began the Bo'sun, red-faced and diffident by
reason of the warmth of his reception, "I've come aboard with
despatches, sir. I bring you a letter from his Honor the Cap'n, from
'er Grace the Duchess, and from Lady Cleone, God bless her!"

"A letter from--her!" Then taking the letters in hands that were
strangely unsteady, Barnabas crossed to the window, and breaking the
seal of a certain one, read this:

  DEAR MR. BARNABAS (the 'Beverley' crossed out),--Her Grace, my dear
  god-mother, having bullied my poor Tyrant out of the house, and
  quarrelled with me until she is tired, has now fixed her mind upon
  you. She therefore orders her dutiful god-daughter to write you these,
  hoping that thereby you may be induced to yield yourself a willing
  slave to her caprices and come down here for a few days. Though the
  very dearest and best of women, my god-mother, as you may remember,
  possesses a tongue, therefore--be warned, sir! My Tyrant at this
  precise moment sits in the 'round house,' whither he has retreated
  to solace his ruffled feelings with tobacco. So, I repeat, sir, be
  warned! And yet, though indeed, 't is strange, and passing strange,
  she speaks of you often, and seems to hold you in her kind regard.
  But, for all that, do not be misled, sir; for the Duchess is always
  the Duchess,--even to poor me. A while ago, she insisted on playing a
  game of chess; as I write the pieces lie scattered on the floor.
  _I_ shan't pick them up,--why should I? So you see her Grace is
  quite herself to-day. Nevertheless, should you determine to run the
  risk, you will, I think, find a welcome awaiting you from,

  Yours, dear sir,

  CLEONE MEREDITH.

  P.S.--The Bo'sun assures me the moon will last another week.

This Postscript Master Barnabas must needs read three times over,
and then, quick and furtive, press the letter to his lips ere he
thrust it into his bosom, and opened and read the Captain's:

  The Gables,
  Hawkhurst.

  Written in the Round-house,

  June 29, 18--.

  MY DEAR BEVERLEIGH,--How is Fashion and the
  Modish World? as trivial as usual, I'll warrant me. The
  latest sensation, I believe, is Cossack Trousers,--have
  you tried 'em yet? But to come to my mutton, as the
  Mounseers say.

  The Duchess of Camberhurst, having honored my
  house with her presence--and consequently set it in an
  uproar, I am constantly running foul of her, though
  more often she is falling aboard of me. To put it plainly,
  what with cross-currents, head-seas, and shifting winds
  that come down suddenly and blow great guns from every
  point of the compass, I am continually finding myself
  taken all a-back, as it were, and since it is quite
  impossible to bring to and ride it out, am consequently
  forced to go about and run for it, and continually pooped,
  even then,--for a woman's tongue is, I'm sure, worse
  than any following sea.

  Hence, my sweet Clo, with her unfailing solicitude
  for me, having observed me flying signals of distress, has
  contrived to put it into my head that your presence might
  have a calming effect. Therefore, my dear boy, if you
  can manage to cast off the grapples of the Polite World
  for a few days, to run down here and shelter a battered
  old hulk under your lee, I shall be proud to have you as
  my guest.

  Yours faithfully to serve,

  JOHN CHUMLY.

  P.S.--Pray bring your valet; you will need him, her
  Grace insists on dressing for dinner. Likewise my Trafalgar
  coat begins to need skilled patching, here and there;
  it is getting beyond the Bo'sun.


Here again Barnabas must needs pause to read over certain of the
Captain's scrawling characters, and a new light was in his eyes as
he broke the seal of her Grace's epistle.

  MY DEAR MR. BEVERLEY,--The country down here,
  though delightfully Arcadian and quite idyllic (hayricks
  are so romantic, and I always adored cows--in pictures),
  is dreadfully quiet, and I freely confess that I generally
  prefer a man to a hop-pole (though I do wear a wig), and
  the voice of a man to the babble of brooks, or the trill of
  a skylark,--though I protest, I wouldn't be without
  them (I mean the larks) for the world,--they make me
  long for London so.

  Then again, the Captain (though a truly dear soul,
  and the most gallant of hosts) treats me very much as
  though I were a ship, and, beside, he is so dreadfully
  gentle.

  As for Cleone, dear bird, she yawns until my own
  eyes water (though, indeed, she has very pretty teeth),
  and, on the whole, is very dutiful and quarrels with me
  whenever I wish. 'T is quite true she cannot play chess;
  she also, constantly, revokes at Whist, and is quite as
  bad-tempered over it as I am. Cards, I fear, are altogether
  beyond her at present,--she is young. Of course time may
  change this, but I have grave doubts. In this deplorable
  situation I turn to you, dear Mr. Beverley (Cleone knew
  your address, it seems), and write these hasty lines to
  ntreat,--nay, to command you to come and cheer our solitude.
  Cleone has a new gown she is dying to wear, and I have
  much that you must patiently listen to, so that I may
  truly subscribe myself'

     Your grateful friend,

     FANNY CAMBERURST.

  P.S.--I have seen the finger-post on the London Road.

And now, having made an end of reading, Barnabas sighed and smiled,
and squared his stooping shoulders, and threw up his curly head, and
turning, found the Bo'sun still standing, hat in fist, lost in
contemplation of the gilded ceiling. Hereupon Barnabas caught his
hand, and shook it again, and laughed for very happiness.

"Bo'sun, how can I thank you!" said he, "these letters have given me
new hope--new life! and--and here I leave you to stand, dolt that I
am! And with nothing to drink, careless fool that I am. Sit down, man,
sit down--what will you take, wine? brandy?"

"Mr. Beverley, sir," replied the Bo'sun diffidently, accepting the
chair that Barnabas dragged forward, "you're very kind, sir, but if
I might make so bold,--a glass of ale, sir--?"

"Ale!" cried Barnabas. "A barrel if you wish!" and he tugged at the
bell, at whose imperious summons the Gentleman-in-Powder appearing
with leg-quivering promptitude, Barnabas forthwith demanded
"Ale,--the best, and plenty of it! And pray ask Mr. Peterby to come
here at once!" he added.

"Sir," said the Bo'sun as the door closed, "you'll be for steering a
course for Hawkhurst, p'r'aps?"

"We shall start almost immediately," said Barnabas, busily
collecting those scattered sheets of paper that littered floor and
table; thus he was wholly unaware of the look that clouded the
sailor's honest visage.

"Sir," said the Bo'sun, pegging thoughtfully at a rose in the carpet
with his wooden leg, "by your good leave, I'd like to ax 'ee a
question."

"Certainly, Bo'sun, what is it?" inquired Barnabas, looking up from
the destruction of the many attempts of his first letter to Cleone.

"Mr. Beverley, sir," said the Bo'sun, pegging away at the carpet as
he spoke, "is it--meaning no offence, and axing your pardon,--but
are you hauling your wind and standing away for Hawkhurst so prompt
on 'account o' my Lady Cleone?"

"Yes, Bo'sun, on account of our Lady Cleone."

"Why, then, sir," said the Bo'sun, fixing his eyes on the ceiling
again, "by your leave--but,--why, sir?"

"Because, Bo'sun, you and I have this in common, that we both--love
her."

Here the Bo'sun dropped his glazed hat, and picking it up, sat
turning it this way and that, in his big, brown fingers.

"Why, then, sir," said he, looking up at Barnabas suddenly,
"what of Master Horatio, his Lordship?"

"Why, Bo'sun, I told him about it weeks ago. I had to. You see, he
honors me with his friendship."

The Bo'sun nodded, and broke into his slow smile:

"Ah, that alters things, sir," said he. "As for loving my lady--why?
who could help it?"

"Who, indeed, Bo'sun!"

"Though I'd beg to remind you, sir, as orders _is_ orders, and
consequently she's bound to marry 'is Lordship--some day--"

"Or--become a mutineer!" said Barnabas, as the door opened to admit
Peterby, who (to the horror of the Gentleman-in-Powder, and despite
his mutely protesting legs), actually brought in the ale himself; yet,
as he set it before the Bo'sun, his sharp eyes were quick to notice
his young master's changed air, and brightened as if in sympathy.


"I want you, John, to know my good friend Bo'sun Jerry," said
Barnabas, "a Trafalgar man--"

"'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four!" added the Bo'sun, rising and
extending his huge hand.

"We are all going to Hawkhurst, at once, John," continued Barnabas,
"so pack up whatever you think necessary--a couple of valises will
do, and tell Martin I'll have the phaeton,--it's roomier; and I'll
drive the bays. And hurry things, will you, John?"

So John Peterby bowed, solemn and sedate as ever, and went upon his
errand. But it is to be remarked that as he hastened downstairs, his
lips had taken on their humorous curve, and the twinkle was back in
his eyes; also he nodded his head, as who would say:

"I thought so! The Lady Cleone Meredith, eh? Well,--the sooner the
better!"

Thus the Bo'sun had barely finished his ale, when the
Gentleman-in-Powder appeared to say the phaeton was at the door.

And a fine, dashing turn-out it was, too, with its yellow wheels,
its gleaming harness, and the handsome thorough-breds pawing
impatient hoofs.

Then, the Bo'sun having duly ensconced himself, with Peterby in the
rumble as calm and expressionless as the three leather valises under
the seat, Barnabas sprang in, caught up the reins, nodded to Martin
the gray-haired head groom, and giving the bays their heads, they
were off and away for Hawkhurst and the Lady Cleone Meredith,
whirling round corners and threading their way through traffic at a
speed that caused the Bo'sun to clutch the seat with one hand, and
the glazed hat with the other, and to remark in his diffident way
that:

"These here wheeled craft might suit some, but for comfort and
safety give me an eight-oared galley!"



CHAPTER XLV


HOW BARNABAS SOUGHT COUNSEL OF THE DUCHESS "BO'SUN?"

"Sir?"

"Do you know the Duchess of Camberhurst well?"

"Know her, sir?" repeated the Bo'sun, giving a dubious pull at his
starboard whisker; "why, Mr. Beverley, sir, there's two things as I
knows on, as no man never did know on, nor never will know on,--and
one on 'em's a ship and t' other's a woman."

"But do you know her well enough to like and--trust?"

"Why, Mr. Beverley, sir, since you ax me, I'll tell you--plain and
to the p'int. We'll take 'er Grace the Duchess and say, clap her
helm a-lee to tack up ag'in a beam wind, a wind, mind you, as ain't
strong enough to lift her pennant,--and yet she'll fall off and miss
her stays, d'ye see, or get took a-back and yaw to port or starboard,
though, if you ax me why or wherefore, I'll tell you as how,--her
being a woman and me only a man,--I don't know. Then, again, on the
contrary, let it blow up foul--a roaring hurricane say, wi' the seas
running high, ah! wi' the scud flying over her top-s'l yard, and she'll
rise to it like a bird, answer to a spoke, and come up into the
wind as sweet as ever you see. The Duchess ain't no fair-weather
craft, I'll allow, but in 'owling, raging tempest she's staunch, sir,
--ah, that she is,--from truck to keelson! And there y'are, Mr. Beverley,
sir!"

"Do you mean," inquired Barnabas, puzzled of look, "that she is to
be depended on--in an emergency?"

"Ay, sir--that she is!"

"Ah!" said Barnabas, nodding, "I'm glad to know that, Bo'sun,--very
glad." And here he became thoughtful all at once. Yet after a while
he spoke again, this time to Peterby.

"You are very silent, John."

"I am--your valet, sir!"

"Then, oh! man," exclaimed Barnabas, touching up the galloping bays
quite unnecessarily, "oh, man--forget it a while! Here we sit--three
men together, with London miles behind us, and the Fashionable World
further still. Here we sit, three men, with no difference between us,
except that the Bo'sun has fought and bled for this England of ours,
you have travelled and seen much of the world, and I, being the
youngest, have done neither the one nor the other, and very little
else--as yet. So, John,--be yourself; talk, John, talk!"

Now hereupon John Peterby's grave dignity relaxed, a twinkle dawned
in his eyes, and his lips took on their old-time, humorous curve.
And lo! the valet became merged and lost in the cosmopolitan, the
dweller in many cities, who had done and seen much, and could tell
of such things so wittily and well that the miles passed unheeded,
while the gallant bays whirled the light phaeton up hill and down
dale, contemptuous of fatigue.

It needs not here to describe more fully this journey whose tedium
was unnoticed by reason of good-fellowship. Nor of the meal they ate
at the "Chequers" Inn at Tonbridge, and how they drank (at the
Bo'sun's somewhat diffident suggestion) a health "to his Honor the
Cap'n, and the poor old 'Bully-Sawyer,' Seventy-four."

And thus Barnabas, clad in purple and fine linen and driving his own
blood horses, talked and laughed with a one-legged mariner, and
sought the companionship of his own valet; which irregularity must
be excused by his youth and inexperience, and the lamentable fact
that, despite his purple and fine linen, he was, as yet, only a man,
alas!

Thus, then, as evening fell, behold them spinning along that winding
road where stood a certain ancient finger-post pointing the wayfarer:

     TO LONDON.     TO  HAWKHURST

At sight of which weather-worn piece of timber. Barnabas must needs
smile, though very tenderly, and thereafter fall a-sighing. But all
at once he checked his sighs to stare in amazement, for there,
demurely seated beneath the finger-post, and completely engrossed in
her needlework, was a small, lonely figure, at sight of which
Barnabas pulled up the bays in mid-career.

"Why--Duchess!" he exclaimed, and, giving Peterby the reins, stepped
out of the phaeton.

"Ah! is that you, Mr. Beverley?" sighed the Duchess, looking up from
her embroidery, which, like herself, was very elaborate, very dainty,
and very small. "You find me here, sitting by the wayside,--and a
very desolate figure I must look, I'm sure,--you find me here because
I have been driven away by the tantrums of an undutiful god-daughter,
and the barbarity of a bloodthirsty buccaneer. I mean the Captain,
of course. And all because I had the forethought to tell Cleone her
nose was red,--which it was,--sunburn you know, and because I
remarked that the Captain was growing as rotund as a Frenchman,
which he is,--I mean fat, of course. All Frenchmen are fat--at least
some are. And then he will wear such a shabby old coat! So here I am,
Mr. Beverley, very lonely and very sad, but industrious you see,
quite as busy as Penelope, who used to spin webs all day long,--which
sounds as though she were a spider instead of a classical lady who
used to undo them again at night,--I mean the webs, not the spiders.
But, indeed, you're very silent, Mr. Beverley, though I'm glad to
see you are here so well to time."

"To time, madam?"

"Because, you see, I 've won my bet. Oh yes, indeed, I bet about
everything nowadays,--oh, feverishly, sir, and shall do, until the
race is over, I suppose."

"Indeed, Duchess?"

"Yes. I bet Cleone an Indian shawl against a pair of beaded mittens
that you would be here, to-day, before ten o'clock. So you see, you
are hours before your time, and the mittens are mine. Talking of
Cleone, sir, she's in the orchard. She's also in a shocking
temper--indeed quite cattish, so you'd better stay here and talk to
me. But then--she's alone, and looking vastly handsome, I'll admit,
so, of course, you're dying to be gone--now aren't you?"

"No," Barnabas replied, and turning, bade Peterby drive on to the
house.

"Then you ought to be!" retorted the Duchess, shaking an admonitory
finger at him, yet smiling also as the carriage rolled away.
"Youth can never prefer to listen to a chattering old woman--in a wig!"

"But you see, madam, I need your help, your advice," said Barnabas
gravely.

"Ah, now I love giving people advice! It's so pleasant and--easy!"

"I wish to confide in you,--if I may."

"Confidences are always interesting--especially in the country!"

"Duchess, I--I--have a confession to make."

"A confession, sir? Then I needn't pretend to work any
longer--besides, I always prick myself. There!" And rolling the very
small piece of embroidery into a ball, she gave it to Barnabas.
"Pray sir, hide the odious thing in your pocket. Will you sit beside
me? No? Very well--now, begin, sir!"

"Why, then, madam, in the first place, I--"

"Yes?"

"I--that is to say,--you--must understand that--in the first place--"

"You've said 'first place' twice!" nodded the Duchess as he paused.

"Yes--Oh!--Did I? Indeed I--I fear it is going to be even harder to
speak of than I thought, and I have been nerving myself to tell you
ever since I started from London."

"To tell me what?"

"That which may provoke your scorn of me, which may earn me Cleone's
bitterest contempt."

"Why then, sir--don't say another word about it--"

"Ah, but I must--indeed I must! For I know now that to balk at it,
to--to keep silent any longer would be dishonorable--and the act of
a coward!"

"Oh dear me!" sighed the Duchess, "I fear you are going to be
dreadfully heroic about something!"

"Let us say--truthful, madam!"

"But, sir,--surely Truthfulness, after all, is merely the last
resource of the hopelessly incompetent! Anyhow it must be very
uncomfortable, I'm sure," said the Duchess, nodding her head. Yet
she was quick to notice the distress in his voice, and the gleam of
moisture among the curls at his temple, hence her tone was more
encouraging as she continued. "Still, sir, speak on if you wish,
for even a Duchess may appreciate honor and truth--in another,
of course,--though she does wear a wig!"

"Believe me," sighed Barnabas, beginning to stride restlessly to and
fro, "the full significance of my conduct never occurred to me
until it was forced on my notice by--by another, and then--" he
paused and brushed the damp curls from his brow. "To-day I tried to
write to Cleone--to tell her everything, but I--couldn't."

"So you decided to come and tell me first, which was very nice of you,"
nodded the Duchess, "oh, very right and proper! Well, sir, I'm
listening."

"First, then," said Barnabas, coming to a halt, and looking down at
her steadfast-eyed, "you must know that my real name is--Barty."

"Barty?" repeated the Duchess, raising her brows. "Mm! I like
Beverley much better."

"Beverley was my mother's name. She was Joan Beverley."

"Joan? Joan Beverley? Why y-e-s, I think I remember her, and the
talk there was. Joan? Ah yes, to be sure,--very handsome,
and--disappeared. No one knew why, but now,--I begin to understand.
You would suggest--"

"That she became the honorable wife of my father, John Barty, the
celebrated pugilist and ex-champion of England, now keeper of a
village inn," said Barnabas, speaking all in a breath, but
maintaining his steadfast gaze.

"Eh?" cried the Duchess, and rose to her feet with astonishing
ease for one of her years, "eh, sir, an innkeeper! And your
mother--actually married him?" and the Duchess shivered.

"Yes, madam. I am their lawful son."

"Dreadful!" cried the Duchess, "handsome Joan Beverley--married to
an--inn-keeper! Horrible! She'd much better have died--say, in a
ditch--so much more respectable!"

"My father is an honorable man!" said Barnabas, with upflung head.

"Your father is--an inn-keeper!"

"And--my father, madam!"

"The wretch!" exclaimed the Duchess. "Oh, frightful!" and she
shivered again.

"And his son--loves Cleone!"

"Dreadful! Frightful" cried the Duchess. "An inn-keeper's son! Beer
and skittles and clay pipes! Oh, shocking!" And here, shuddering for
the third time as only a great lady might, she turned her back on him.

"Ah," cried Barnabas, "so you scorn me--already?"

"Of course."

"For being--an inn-keeper's son?"

"For--telling of it!"

"And yet," said Barnabas, "I think Barnabas Barty is a better man
than Barnabas Beverley, and a more worthy lover; indeed I know he is.
And, as Barnabas Barty, I bid your Grace good-by!"

"Where are you going?"

"To the village inn, madam, my proper place, it seems.
But--to-morrow morning, unless you have told Cleone, I shall. And now,
if your Grace will have the kindness to send my servant to me--"

"But--why tell Cleone?" inquired the Duchess over her shoulder;
"there is one alternative left to you."

"Then, madam, in heaven's name,--tell it me!" cried Barnabas eagerly.

"A ridiculously simple one, sir."

"Oh, madam--what can I do--pray tell me."

"You must--disown this inn-keeping wretch, of course. You must cast
him off--now, at once, and forever!"

"Disown him--my father!"

"Certainly,"

Barnabas stared wide-eyed. Then he laughed, and uncovering his head,
bowed deeply.

"Madam," said he, "I have the honor to bid your Grace good-by!"

"You--will tell Cleone then?"

"To-morrow morning."

"Why?"

"Because I love her. Because I, therefore, hate deceit, and because
I--"

"Well?"

"And because Mr. Chichester knows already."

"Ah! You mean that he has forced your hand, sir, and now you would
make the best of it--"

"I mean that he has opened my eyes, madam."

"And to-morrow you will tell Cleone?"

"Yes."

"And, of course, she will scorn you for an impudent impostor?"

Now at this Barnabas flinched, for these were Chichester's own words,
and they bore a double sting.

"And yet--I must tell her!" he groaned.

"And afterwards, where shall you go?"

"Anywhere," he sighed, with a hopeless gesture.

"And--the race?"

"Will be run without me."

"And your friends--the Marquis, Viscount Devenham, and the rest?"

"Will, I expect, turn their gentlemanly backs upon me--as you
yourself have done. So, madam, I thank you for your past kindness,
and bid you--good-by"

"Stop, sir!"

"Of what avail, madam?" sighed Barnabas, turning away.

"Come back--I command you!"

"I am beneath your Grace's commands, henceforth," said Barnabas, and
plodded on down the road.

"Then I--beg of you!"

"Why?" he inquired, pausing.

"Because--oh, because you are running off with my precious needlework,
of course. In your pocket, sir,--the left one!" So, perforce,
Barnabas came back, and standing again beneath the finger-post, gave
the Duchess her very small piece of embroidery. But, behold! his hand
was caught and held between two others, which, though very fragile,
were very imperious.

"Barnabas," said the Duchess very softly, "oh, dear me, I'm glad you
told me, oh very! I hoped you would!"

"Hoped? Why--why, madam, you--then you knew?"

"All about it, of course! Oh, you needn't stare--it wasn't witchcraft,
it was this letter--read it." And taking a letter from her reticule,
she gave it to Barnabas, and watched him while he read:


  TO HER GRACE THE DUCHESS OF CAMBERHURST.

  MADAM,--In justice to yourself I take occasion to
  warn your Grace against the person calling himself Barnabas
  Beverley. He is, in reality, an impudent impostor of
  humble birth and mean extraction. His real name and
  condition I will prove absolutely to your Grace at another
  time.

  Your Grace's most humble obedt.

  WILFRED CHICHESTER.


"So you see I'm not a witch, sir,--oh no, I'm only an old woman, with,
among many other useful gifts, a very sharp eye for faces, a
remarkable genius for asking questions, and the feminine capacity
for adding two and two together and making them--eight. So, upon
reading this letter, I made inquiries on my own account with the
result that yesterday I drove over to a certain inn called the
'Coursing Hound,' and talked with your father. Very handsome he is
too--as he always was, and I saw him in the hey-day of his fame,
remember. Well, I sipped his ale,--very good ale I found it, and
while I sipped, we talked. He is very proud of his son, it seems,
and he even showed me a letter this son had written him from the
'George' inn at Southwark. Ha! Joan Beverley was to have married an
ugly old wretch of a marquis, and John Barty is handsome still. But
an inn-keeper, hum!"

"So--that was why my mother ran away, madam?"

"And Wilfred Chichester knows of this, and will tell Cleone, of
course!"

"I think not--at least not yet," answered Barnabas thoughtfully,--
"you see, he is using this knowledge as a weapon against me."

"Why?"

"I promised to help Ronald Barrymaine--"

"That wretched boy!  Well?"

"And the only way to do so was to remove him from Chichester's
influence altogether. So I warned Mr. Chichester that unless he
forswore Barrymaine's society, I would, as Joan Beverley's son and
heir to the Beverley heritage, prove my claim and dispossess him."

"You actually threatened Wilfred Chichester with this, and forgot
that in finding you your mother's son, he would prove you to be your
father's also?"

"Yes, I--I only remembered my promise."

"The one you gave Cleone, which she had no right to exact--as I told
her--"

"But, madam--"

"Oh, she confessed to me all about it, and how you had tried to pay
Ronald's debts for him out of your own pocket,--which was very
magnificent but quite absurd."

"Yes," sighed Barnabas, "so now I am determined to free him from
Chichester first--"

"By dispossessing Chichester?"

"Yes, madam."

"But--can't you see, if you force him to expose you it will mean
your social ruin?"

"But then I gave--Her--my promise."

"Oh, Barnabas," said the Duchess, looking up at him with her young,
beautiful eyes that were so like Cleone's, "what a superb fool you
are! And your father _is_ only a village inn-keeper!"

"No, madam,--he was champion of all England as well."

"Oh!" sighed the Duchess, shaking her head, "that poor Sir Mortimer
Carnaby! But, as for you, sir, you 're a fool, either a very clumsy,
or a very--unselfish one,--anyhow, you're a fool, you know!"

"Yes," sighed Barnabas, his head hanging, "I fear I am."

"Oh yes,--you're quite a fool--not a doubt of it!" said the Duchess
with a nod of finality. "And yet, oh, dear me! I think it may be
because I'm seventy-one and growing younger every day, or perhaps
because I'm so old that I have to wear a wig, but my tastes are so
peculiar that there are some fools I could almost--love. So you may
give me your arm,--Barnabas."

He obeyed mechanically, and they went on down the road together in
silence until they came to a pair of tall, hospitable gates, and
here Barnabas paused, and spoke wonderingly:

"Madam, you--you surely forget I am the son of--"

"A champion of all England, Barnabas. But, though you can thrash Sir
Mortimer Carnaby, Wilfred Chichester is the kind of creature that
only a truly clever woman can hope to deal with, so you may leave him
to me!"

"But, madam, I--"

"Barnabas, quite so. But Wilfred Chichester always makes me shudder,
and I love to shudder--now and then, especially in the hot weather.
And then everything bores me lately--Cleone, myself,--even Whist, so
I'll try my hand at another game--with Wilfred Chichester as an
opponent."

"But, Duchess, indeed I--"

"Very true, Barnabas! but the matter is quite settled. And now, you
are still determined to--confess your father to Cleone, I suppose?"

"Yes, I dare not speak to her otherwise, how could I, knowing myself
an--"

"Impudent impostor, sir? Quite so and fiddlesticks! Heigho! you are
so abominably high-minded and heroic, Barnabas,--it's quite
depressing. Cleone is only a human woman, who powders her nose when
it's red, and quite right too--I mean the powder of course, not the
redness. Oh! indeed she's very human, and after all, your mother was
a Beverley, and I know you are rich and--ah! there she is--on the
terrace with the Captain, and I'm sure she has seen you, Barnabas,
because she's so vastly unconscious. Observe the pose of her
head,--she has a perfect neck and shoulders, and she knows it. There!
see her kissing the Captain,--that's all for my benefit, the yellow
minx! just because I happened to call him a 'hunks,' and so he is--though
I don't know what I meant,--because he refused to change that dreadful
old service coat. There! now she's patting his cheek--the golden jade!
Now--watch her surprise when she pretends to catch sight of us!"

Hereupon, as they advanced over the smooth turf, the Duchess raised
her voice.

"My bird!" she called in dulcet tones, "Clo dear, Cleone my lamb,
here is Barnabas, I found him--under the finger-post, my dove!"

My lady turned, gave the least little start in the world, was
surprised, glad, demure, all in the self-same minute, and taking the
arm of her Tyrant, who had already begun a truly nautical greeting,
led him, forthwith, down the terrace steps, the shining curls at her
temple brushing his shabby coat-sleeve as they came.

"Ha!" cried the Captain, "my dear fellow, we're glad--I say we're
all of us glad to see you. Welcome to 'The Gables,'--eh, Clo?"

And Cleone? With what gracious ease she greeted him! With what clear
eyes she looked at him! With what demure dignity she gave him her
white hand to kiss! As though--for all the world as though she could
ever hope to deceive anything so old and so very knowing as the
ancient finger-post upon the London road!

"Clo dear," said the Duchess, "they're going to talk horses and
racing, and bets and things,--I know they are,--your arm, my love.
Now,--lead on, gentlemen. And now, my dear," she continued, speaking
in Cleone's ear as Barnabas and the Captain moved on, "he
simply--adores you!"

"Really, God-mother--how clever of you!" said Cleone, her eyes brim
full of merriment, "how wonderful you are!"

"Yes, my lady Pert,--he worships you and, consequently, is deceiving
you with every breath he draws!"

"Deceiving me--!"

"With every moment he lives!"

"But--oh, God-mother--!"

"Cleone,--he is not what he seems!"

"Deceiving me?"

"His very name is false!"

"What do you mean? Ah no, no--I'm sure he would not, and yet--oh,
God-mother,--why?"

"Because--hush, Cleone--he's immensely rich, one of the wealthiest
young men in London, and--hush! He would be--loved for himself alone.
So, Cleone,--listen,--he may perhaps come to you with some wonderful
story of poverty and humble birth. He may tell you his father was
only a--a farmer, or a tinker, or a--an inn-keeper. Oh dear me,--so
delightfully romantic! Therefore, loving him as you do--"

"I don't!"

"With every one of your yellow hairs--"

"I do--_not_!"

"From the sole of your foot--"

"God-mother!"

"To the crown of your wilful head,--oh, Youth, Youth!--you may let
your heart answer as it would. Oh Fire! Passion! Romance! (yes, yes,
Jack,--we're coming!) Your heart, I say, Cleone, may have its way,
because with all his wealth he has a father who--hush!--at one time
was the greatest man in all England,--a powerful man, Clo,--a famous
man, indeed a man of the most--striking capabilities. So, when your
heart--(dear me, how impatient Jack is!) Oh, supper? Excellent, for,
child, now I come to think of it, I'm positively swooning with hunger!"



CHAPTER XLVI


WHICH CONCERNS ITSELF WITH SMALL THINGS IN GENERAL, AND A PEBBLE IN
PARTICULAR

To those who, standing apart from the rush and flurry of life, look
upon the world with a seeing eye, it is, surely, interesting to
observe on what small and apparently insignificant things great
matters depend. To the student History abounds with examples, and to
the philosopher they are to be met with everywhere.

But how should Barnabas (being neither a student nor a philosopher)
know, or even guess, that all his fine ideas and intentions were to
be frustrated, and his whole future entirely changed by nothing more
nor less than--a pebble, an ordinary, smooth, round pebble, as
innocent-seeming as any of its kind, yet (like young David's)
singled out by destiny to be one of these "smaller things"?

They were sitting on the terrace, the Duchess, Cleone, Barnabas, and
the Captain, and they were very silent,--the Duchess, perhaps,
because she had supped adequately, the Captain because of his long,
clay pipe, Cleone because she happened to be lost in contemplation
of the moon, and Barnabas, because he was utterly absorbed in
contemplation of Cleone.

The night was very warm and very still, and upon the quietude stole
a sound--softer, yet more insistent than the whisper of wind among
leaves,--a soothing, murmurous sound that seemed to make the
pervading quiet but the more complete.

"How cool the brook sounds!" sighed the Duchess at last, "and the
perfume of the roses,--oh dear me, how delicious! Indeed I think the
scent of roses always seems more intoxicating after one has supped
well, for, after all, one must be well-fed to be really romantic,--eh,
Jack?"

"Romantic, mam!" snorted the Captain, "romantic,--I say bosh, mam! I
say--"

"And then--the moon, Jack!"

"Moon?  And what of it, mam,--I say--"

"Roses always smell sweeter by moonlight, Jack, and are far more
inclined to--go to the head--"

"Roses!" snorted the Captain, louder than before, "you must be
thinking of rum, mam, rum--"

"Then, Jack, to the perfume of roses, add the trill of a
nightingale--"

"And of all rums, mam, give me real old Jamaica--"

"And to the trill of a nightingale, add again the murmur of an
unseen brook, Jack--"

"Eh, mam, eh? Nightingales, brooks? I say--oh, Gad, mam!" and the
Captain relapsed into tobacco-puffing indignation.

"What more could youth and beauty ask? Ah, Jack, Jack!" sighed the
Duchess, "had you paid more attention to brooks and nightingales,
and stared at the moon in your youth, you might have been a green
young grandfather to-night, instead of a hoary old bachelor in a
shabby coat--sucking consolation from a clay pipe!"

"Consolation, mam! For what--I say, I demand to know for what?"

"Loneliness, Jack!"

"Eh, Duchess,--what, mam? Haven't I got my dear Clo, and the Bo'sun,
eh, mam--eh?"

"The Bo'sun, yes,--he smokes a pipe, but Cleone can't, so she looks
at the moon instead,--don't you dear?"

"The moon, God-mother?" exclaimed Cleone, bringing her gaze
earthwards on the instant. "Why I,--I--the moon, indeed!"

"And she listens to the brook, Jack,--don't you, my dove?"

"Why, God-mother, I--the brook? Of course not!" said Cleone.

"And, consequently, Jack, you mustn't expect to keep her much
longer--"

"Eh!" cried the bewildered Captain, "what's all this, Duchess,--I say,
what d'ye mean, mam?"

"Some women," sighed the Duchess, "some women never know they're in
love until they've married the wrong man, and then it's too late,
poor things. But our sweet Clo, on the contrary--"

"Love!" snorted the Captain louder than ever, "now sink me, mam,--I
say, sink and scuttle me; but what's love got to do with Clo, eh, mam?"

"More than you think, Jack--ask her!"

But lo! my lady had risen, and was already descending the terrace
steps, a little hurriedly perhaps, yet in most stately fashion.
Whereupon Barnabas, feeling her Grace's impelling hand upon his
arm, obeyed the imperious command and rising, also descended the
steps,--though in fashion not at all stately,--and strode after
my lady, and being come beside her, walked on--yet found nothing
to say, abashed by her very dignity. But, after they had gone thus
some distance, venturing to glance at her averted face, Barnabas
espied the dimple beside her mouth.

"Cleone," said he suddenly, "what _has_ love to do with you?"

Now, for a moment, she looked up at him, then her lashes drooped,
and she turned away.

"Oh, sir," she answered, "lift up your eyes and look upon the moon!"

"Cleone, has love--come to you--at last? Tell me!" But my lady
walked on for a distance with head again averted, and--with never a
word. "Speak!" said Barnabas, and caught her hand (unresisting now),
and held it to his lips. "Oh, Cleone,--answer me!"

Then Cleone obeyed and spoke, though her voice was tremulous and low.

"Ah, sir," said she, "listen to the brook!"

Now it so chanced they had drawn very near this talkative stream,
whose voice reached them--now in hoarse whisperings, now in throaty
chucklings, and whose ripples were bright with the reflected glory
of the moon. Just where they stood, a path led down to these
shimmering waters,--a narrow and very steep path screened by bending
willows; and, moved by Fate, or Chance, or Destiny, Barnabas
descended this path, and turning, reached up his hands to Cleone.

"Come!" he said. And thus, for a moment, while he looked up into her
eyes, she looked down into his, and sighed, and moved towards him,
and--set her foot upon the pebble.

And thus, behold the pebble had achieved its purpose, for, next
moment Cleone was lying in his arms, and for neither of them was
life or the world to be ever the same thereafter.

Yes, indeed, the perfume of the roses was full of intoxication
to-night; the murmurous brook whispered of things scarce dreamed of;
and the waning moon was bright enough to show the look in her eyes
and the quiver of her mouth as Barnabas stooped above her.

"Cleone!" he whispered, "Cleone--can you--do you--love me? Oh, my
white lady,--my woman that I love,--do you love me?"

She did not speak, but her eyes answered him; and, in that moment
Barnabas stooped and kissed her, and held her close, and closer,
until she sighed and stirred in his embrace.

Then, all at once, he groaned and set her down, and stood before her
with bent head.

"My dear," said he, "oh, my dear!"

"Barnabas?"

"Forgive me,--I should have spoken,--indeed, I meant to,--but I
couldn't think,--it was so sudden,--forgive me! I didn't mean to
even touch your hand until I had confessed my deceit. Oh, my dear,
--I am not--not the fine gentleman you think me. I am only a very
--humble fellow. The son of a village--inn-keeper. Your eyes
were--kind to me just now, but, oh Cleone, if so humble a fellow
is--unworthy, as I fear,--I--I will try to--forget."

Very still she stood, looking upon his bent head, saw the quiver of
his lips, and the griping of his strong hands. Now, when she spoke,
her voice was very tender.

"Can you--ever forget?"

"I will--try!"

"Then--oh, Barnabas, don't! Because I--think I could--love
this--humble fellow, Barnabas."

The moon, of course, has looked on many a happy lover, yet where
find one, before or since, more radiant than young Barnabas; and the
brook, even in its softest, most tender murmurs, could never hope to
catch the faintest echo of Cleone's voice or the indescribable thrill
of it.

And as for the pebble that was so round, so smooth and
innocent-seeming, whether its part had been that of beneficent sprite,
or malevolent demon, he who troubles to read on may learn.



CHAPTER XLVII


HOW BARNABAS FOUND HIS MANHOOD

"Oh--hif you please, sir!"

Barnabas started, and looking about, presently espied a figure in
the shadow of the osiers; a very small figure, upon whose diminutive
jacket were numerous buttons that glittered under the moon.

"Why--it's Milo of Crotona!" said Cleone.

"Yes, my lady--hif you please, it are," answered Milo of Crotona,
touching the peak of his leather cap.

"But--what are you doing here? How did you know where to find us?"

"'Cause as I came up the drive, m'lady, I jest 'appened to see you
a-walking together,--so I followed you, I did, m'lady."

"Followed us?" repeated Cleone rather faintly. "Oh!"

"And then--when I seen you slip, m'lady, I thought as 'ow I'd
better--wait a bit. So I waited, I did." And here, again, Milo
of Crotona touched the peak of his cap, and looked from Barnabas
to Cleone's flushing loveliness with eyes wide and profoundly
innocent,--a very cherub in top-boots, only his buttons (Ah, his
buttons!) seemed to leer and wink one to another, as much as to say:
"Oh yes! Of course! to--be--sure?"

"And what brings you so far from London?" inquired Barnabas, rather
hurriedly.

"Coach, sir,--box seat, sir!"

"And you brought your master with you, of course,--is the Viscount
here?"

"No, m'lady. I 'ad to leave 'im be'ind 'count of 'im being unfit to
travel--"

"Is he ill?"

"Oh, no, not hill, m'lady,--only shot, 'e is."

"Shot!" exclaimed Barnabas, "how--where?"

"In the harm, sir,--all on 'count of 'is 'oss,--'Moonraker' sir."

"His horse?"

"Yessir. 'S arternoon it were. Ye see, for a long time I ain't been
easy in me mind about them stables where 'im and you keeps your
'osses, sir, 'count of it not being safe enough,--worritted I 'ave,
sir. So 's arternoon, as we was passing the end o' the street, I
sez to m'lud, I sez, 'Won't your Ludship jest pop your nob round the
corner and squint your peepers at the 'osses?' I sez. So 'e laughs,
easy like, and in we pops. And the first thing we see was your 'ead
groom, Mr. Martin, wiv blood on 'is mug and one peeper in mourning
a-wrastling wiv two coves, and our 'ead groom, Standish, wiv another
of 'em. Jest as we run up, down goes Mr. Martin, but--afore they
could maul 'im wiv their trotters, there's m'lud wiv 'is fists an'
me wiv a pitchfork as 'appened to lie 'andy. And very lively it were,
sir, for a minute or two. Then off goes a barker and off go the coves,
and there's m'lud 'olding onto 'is harm and swearing 'eavens 'ard.
And that's all, sir."

"And these men were--trying to get at the horses?"

"Ah! Meant to nobble 'Moonraker,' they did,--'im bein' one o' the
favorites, d' ye see, sir, and it looked to me as if they meant to
do for your 'oss, 'The Terror', as well."

"And is the Viscount much hurt?"

"Why no, sir. And it were only 'is whip-arm. 'Urts a bit o' course,
but 'e managed to write you a letter, 'e did; an' 'ere it is."

So Barnabas took the letter, and holding it in the moonlight where
Cleone could see it, they, together, made out these words:

  MY DEAR BEV,--There is durty work afoot. Some Raskells have tried
  to lame 'Moonraker,' but thanks to my Imp and your man Martin, quite
  unsuccessfully. How-beit your man Martin--regular game for all his
  years--has a broken nob and one ogle closed up, and I a ball through
  my arm, but nothing to matter. But I am greatly pirtirbed for the
  safety of 'Moonraker' and mean to get him into safer quarters and
  advise you to do likewise. Also, though your horse 'The Terror,' as
  the stable-boys call him, is not even in the betting, it almost seems,
  from what I can gather, that they meant to nobble him also.
  Therefore I think you were wiser to return at once, and I am anxious
  to see you on another matter as well. Your bets with Carnaby and
  Chichester have somehow got about and are the talk of the town, and
  from what I hear, much to your disparagement, I fear.

  A pity to shorten your stay in the country, but under the
  circumstances, most advisable.

  Yours ever, etc.,

  DICK.

  P.S. My love and service to the Duchess, Cleone and the Capt.

Now here Barnabas looked at Cleone, and sighed, and Cleone sighing
also, nodded her head:

"You must go," said she, very softly, and sighed again.

"Yes, I must go, and yet--it is so very soon, Cleone!"

"Yes, it is dreadfully soon, Barnabas. But what does he mean by
saying that people are talking of you to your disparagement? How
dare they? Why should they?"

"I think because I, a rank outsider, ventured to lay a wager against
Sir Mortimer Carnaby."

"Do you mean you bet him that you would win the race, Barnabas?"

"No,--only that I would beat Sir Mortimer Carnaby."

"But, oh Barnabas,--he _is_ the race! Surely you know he and the
Viscount are favorites?"

"Oh, yes!"

"Then you do think you can win?"

"I mean to try--very hard!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown a
little.

"And I begin to think," said Cleone, struck by his resolute eyes and
indomitable mouth, "oh, Barnabas--I begin to think you--almost may."

"And if I did?"

"Then I should be very--proud of you."

"And if I lost?"

"Then you would be--"

"Yes?"

"Just--"

"Yes, Cleone?"

"My, Barnabas! Ah, no, no!" she whispered suddenly, "you are
crushing me--dreadfully, and besides, that boy has terribly sharp
eyes!" and Cleone nodded to where Master Milo stood, some distance
away, with his innocent orbs lifted pensively towards the heavens,
more like a cherub than ever.

"But he's not looking, and oh, Cleone,--how can I bear to leave you
so soon? You are more to me than anything else in the world. You are
my life, my soul,--my honor,--oh my dear!"

"Do you--love me so very much, Barnabas?" said she, with a sudden
catch in her voice.

"And always must! Oh my dear, my dear,--don't you know? But indeed,
words are so small and my love is so great that I fear you can never
quite guess, or I tell it all."

"Then, Barnabas,--you will go?"

"Must I, Cleone? It will be so very hard to lose you--so soon."

"But a man always chooses the harder course, doesn't he, Barnabas?
And, dear, you cannot lose me,--and so you will go, won't you?"

"Yes, I'll go--because I love you!"

Then Cleone drew him deeper into the shade of the willows, and with
a sudden, swift gesture, reached up her hands and set them about his
neck.

"Oh my dear," she murmured, "oh Barnabas dear, I think I can
guess--now. And I'm sure--the boy--can't see us--here!"

No, surely, neither this particular brook nor any other water-brook,
stream or freshet, that ever sang, or sighed, or murmured among the
reeds, could ever hope to catch all the thrilling tenderness of the
sweet soft tones of Cleone's voice.

A brook indeed?   Ridiculous!

Therefore this brook must needs give up attempting the impossible,
and betake itself to offensive chuckles and spiteful whisperings,
and would have babbled tales to the Duchess had that remarkable,
ancient lady been versed in the language of brooks. As it was, she
came full upon Master Milo still intent upon the heavens, it is true,
but in such a posture that his buttons stared point-blank and quite
unblushingly towards a certain clump of willows.

"Oh Lud!" exclaimed the Duchess, starting back, "dear me, what a
strange little boy! What do you want here, little man?"

Milo of Crotona turned and--looked at her. And though his face was
as cherubic as ever, there was haughty reproof in every button.

"Who are you?" demanded the Duchess; "oh, gracious me, what a pretty
child!"

Surely no cherub--especially one in such knowing top-boots--could be
reasonably expected to put up with this! Master Milo's innocent brow
clouded suddenly, and the expression of his glittering buttons grew
positively murderous.

"I'm Viscount Devenham's con-fee-dential groom, mam, I am!" said he
coldly, and with his most superb air.

"Groom?" said the Duchess, staring, "what a very small one, to be
sure!"

"It ain't inches as counts wiv 'osses, mam,--or hany-think else, mam,
--it's nerves as counts, it is."

"Why, yes, you seem to have plenty of nerve!"

"Well, mam, there ain't much as I trembles at, there ain't,--and
when I do, I don't show it, I don't."

"And such a pretty child, too!" sighed the Duchess.

"Child, mam? I ain't no child, I'm a groom, I am. Child yourself, mam!"

"Lud! I do believe he's even paying me compliments! How old are you,
boy?"

"A lot more 'n you think, and hoceans more 'n I look, mam."

"And what's your name?"

"Milo, mam,--Milo o' Crotona, but my pals generally calls me Tony,
for short, they do."

"Milo of Crotona!" repeated the Duchess, with her eyes wider than
ever, "but he was a giant who slew an ox with his fist, and ate it
whole!"

"Why, mam, I'm oncommon fond of oxes,--roasted, I am."

"Well," said the Duchess, "you are the very smallest giant I ever saw."

"Why, you ain't werry large yourself, mam, you ain't."

"No, I fear I am rather petite," said the Duchess with a trill of
girlish laughter. "And pray, Giant, what may you be doing here?"

"Come up on the coach, I did,--box seat, mam,--to take Mr. Beverley
back wiv me 'cause 'is 'oss ain't safe, and--"

"Not safe,--what do you mean, boy?"

"Some coves got in and tried to nobble 'Moonraker' and 'im--"

"Nobble, boy?"

"Lame 'em, mam,--put 'em out o' the running."

"The wretches!"

"Yes'm. Ye see us sportsmen 'ave our worritting times, we do."

"But where is Mr. Beverley?"

"Why, I ain't looked, mam, I ain't,--but they're down by the
brook--behind them bushes, they are."

"Oh, are they!" said the Duchess, "Hum!"

"No mam,--'e's a-coming, and so's she."

"Why, Barnabas," cried the Duchess, as Cleone and he stepped out of
the shadow, "what's all this I hear about your horse,--what is the
meaning of it?"

"That I must start for London to-night, Duchess."

"Leave to-night?   Absurd!"

"And yet, madam, Cleone seems to think I must, and so does Viscount
Devenham,--see what he writes." So the Duchess took the Viscount's
letter and, having deciphered it with some difficulty, turned upon
Barnabas with admonishing finger upraised:

"So you 've been betting, eh? And with Sir Mortimer Carnaby and
Mr. Chichester of all people?"

"Yes, madam."

"Ah! You backed the Viscount, I suppose?"

"No,--I backed myself, Duchess."

"Gracious goodness--"

"But only to beat Sir Mortimer Carnaby--"

"The other favorite. Oh, ridiculous! What odds did they give you?"

"None."

"You mean--oh, dear me!--you actually backed yourself--at even money?"

"Yes, Duchess."

"But you haven't a chance, Barnabas,--not a chance! You didn't bet
much, I hope?"

"Not so much as I intended, madam."

"Pray what was the sum?"

"Twenty thousand pounds."

"Not--each?"

"Yes, madam."

"Forty thousand pounds! Against a favorite! Cleone, my dear,"
said the Duchess, with one of her quick, incisive nods, "Cleone,
this Barnabas of ours is either a madman or a fool! And yet--stoop
down, sir,--here where I can see you,--hum! And yet, Cleone,
there are times when I think he is perhaps a little wiser than he
seems,--nothing is so baffling as simplicity, my dear! If you wished
to be talked about, Barnabas, you have succeeded admirably,--no wonder
all London is laughing over such a preposterous bet. Forty thousand
pounds! Well, it will at least buy you notoriety, and that is next to
fame."

"Indeed, I hadn't thought of that," said Barnabas.

"And supposing your horse had been lamed and you couldn't ride,--how
then?"

"Why, then, I forfeit the money, madam."

Now here the Duchess frowned thoughtfully, and thereafter said
"ha!" so suddenly, that Cleone started and hurried to her side.

"Dear God-mother, what is it?"

"A thought, my dear!"

"But--"

"Call it a woman's intuition if you will."

"What is your thought, dear?"

"That you are right, Cleone,--he must go--at once!"

"Go? Barnabas?"

"Yes; to London,--now--this very instant! Unless you prefer to
forfeit your money, Barnabas?"

But Barnabas only smiled and shook his head.

"You would be wiser!"

"But I was never very wise, I fear," said Barnabas.

"And--much safer!"

"Oh, God-mother,--do you think there is--danger, then?"

"Yes, child, I do. Indeed, Barnabas, you were wiser and safer to
forfeit your wagers and stay here with me and--Cleone!"

But Barnabas only sighed and shook his head.

"Cleone," said the Duchess, "speak to him."

So blushing a little, sighing a little, Cleone reached out her hand
to Barnabas, while the Duchess watched them with her young, bright
eyes.

"Oh, Barnabas, God-mother is very wise, and if--there is danger--you
mustn't go--for my sake."

But Barnabas shook his head again, and taking in his strong clasp
the pleading hand upon his arm, turned to the Duchess.

"Madam," said he, "dear Duchess, to-night I have found my manhood,
for to-night I have learned that a man must ever choose the hardest
course and follow it--to the end. To-night Cleone has taught me--many
things."

"And you will--stay?" inquired the Duchess.

"I must go!" said Barnabas.

"Then good-by--Barnabas!" said her Grace, looking up at him with a
sudden, radiant smile, "good-by!" said she very softly, "it is a
fine thing to be a gentleman, perhaps,--but it is a godlike thing to
be--a man!" So saying, she gave him her hand, and as Barnabas
stooped to kiss those small, white fingers, she looked down at his
curly head with such an expression as surely few had ever seen
within the eyes of this ancient, childless woman, her Grace of
Camberhurst.

"Now Giant!" she called, as Barnabas turned towards Cleone,
"come here, Giant, and promise me to take care of Mr. Beverley."

"Yes, mam,--all right, mam,--you jest leave 'im to me," replied
Master Milo with his superb air, "don't you worrit on 'is account,
'e'll be all right along o' me, mam, 'e will."

"For that," cried the Duchess, catching him by two of his gleaming
buttons, "for that I mean to kiss you, Giant!" The which, despite
his reproving blushes, she did forthwith.

And Cleone and Barnabas? Well, it so chanced, her Grace's back was
towards them; while as for Master Milo--abashed, and for once
forgetful of his bepolished topboots, he became in very truth a child,
though one utterly unused to the motherly touch of a tender woman's
lips; therefore he suffered the embrace with closed eyes,--even his
buttons were eclipsed, and, in that moment, the Duchess whispered
something in his ear. Then he turned and followed after Barnabas,
who was already striding away across the wide lawn, his head carried
high, a new light in his eyes and a wondrous great joy at his heart,
--a man henceforth--resolute to attempt all things, glorying in his
strength and contemptuous of failure, because of the trill of a
woman's voice and the quick hot touch of a woman's soft lips, whose
caress had been in no sense--motherly. And presently, being come to
the hospitable gates, he turned with bared head to look back at the
two women, the one a childless mother, old and worn, yet wise with
years, and the maid, strong and proud in all the glory of her warm,
young womanhood. Side by side with arms entwined they stood, to
watch young Barnabas, and in the eyes of each, an expression so much
alike, yet so dissimilar. Then, with a flourish of his hat, Barnabas
went on down the road, past the finger-post, with Milo of Crotona's
small top-boots twinkling at his side.

"Sir," said he suddenly, speaking in an awed tone, "is she a real
Doochess--the little old 'un?"

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "very real. Why, Imp?"

"'Cos I called 'er a child, I did--Lord! An' then she--she kissed me,
she did, sir--which ain't much in my line,  it ain't. But she give
me a guinea, sir, an' she likewise whispered in my ear, she did."

"Oh?" said Barnabas, thinking of Cleone--"whispered, did she?"

"Ah! she says to me--quick like, sir,--she says, 'tell 'im,' she
says--meaning you, sir, 'tell 'im to beware o' Wilfred Chichester!'
she says."



CHAPTER XLVIII


IN WHICH "THE TERROR," HITHERTO KNOWN AS "FOUR-LEGS,"
JUSTIFIES HIS NEW NAME

The chill of dawn was in the air as the chaise began to rumble over
the London cobble-stones, whereupon Master Milo (who for the last
hour had slumbered peacefully, coiled up in his corner like a kitten)
roused himself, sat suddenly very upright, straightened his cap and
pulled down his coat, broad awake all at once, and with his eyes as
round and bright as his buttons.

"Are you tired, Imp?" inquired Barnabas, yawning.

"Tired, sir, ho no, sir--not a bit, I ain't."

"But you haven't slept much."

"Slep', sir? I ain't slep'. I only jest 'appened to close me eyes,
sir. Ye see, I don't need much sleep, I don't,--four hours is enough
for any man,--my pal Nick says so, and Nick knows a precious lot, 'e
do."

"Who is Nick?"

"Nick's a cobbler, sir,--boots and shoes,--ladies' and gents', and a
very good cobbler 'e is too, although a cripple wiv a game leg. Me
and 'im's pals, sir, and though we 'as our little turn-ups 'count of
'im coming it so strong agin the Quality, I'm never very 'ard on 'im
'count of 'is crutch, d'ye see, sir."

"What do you mean by the 'Quality,' Imp?"

"Gentle-folks, sir,--rich folks like you an' m'lud. 'I'd gillertine
the lot, if I'd my way,' he says, 'like the Frenchies did in
Ninety-three,' 'e says. But 'e wouldn't reelly o'course, for Nick's
very tender-hearted, though 'e don't like it known. So we 're pals,
we are, and I often drop in to smoke a pipe wiv 'im--"

"What! Do you smoke, Imp?"

"Why, yes, o' course, sir,--all grooms smokes or chews, but I
prefers a pipe--allus 'ave, ah! ever since I were a kid. But I
mostly only 'as a pipe when I drop in on my pal Nick in Giles's Rents."

"Down by the River?" inquired Barnabas.

"Yessir. And now, shall I horder the post-boy to stop?"

"What for?"

"Well, the stables is near by, sir, and I thought as you might like
to take a glimp at the 'osses,--just to make your mind easy, sir."

"Oh, very well!" said Barnabas, for there was something in the boy's
small, eager face that he could not resist.

Therefore, having paid and dismissed the chaise, they turned into a
certain narrow by-street. It was very dark as yet, although in the
east was a faint, gray streak, and the air struck so chill, after
the warmth of the chaise, that Barnabas shivered violently, and,
happening to glance down, he saw that the boy was shivering also. On
they went, side by side, between houses of gloom and silence, and
thus, in a while, came to another narrow street, or rather, blind
alley, at the foot of which were the stables.

"Hush, sir!" said the Imp, staring away to where the stable
buildings loomed up before them, shadowy and indistinct in the dawn.
"Hush, sir!" he repeated, and Barnabas saw that he was creeping
forward on tip-toe, and, though scarce knowing why, he himself did
the same.

They found the great swing doors fast, bolted from within, and, in
this still dead hour, save for their own soft breathing, not a sound
reached them. Then Barnabas laughed suddenly, and clapped Master
Milo upon his small, rigid shoulder.

"There, Imp,--you see it's all right!" said he, and then paused, and
held his breath.

"Did ye hear anythink?" whispered the boy.

"A chain--rattled, I think."

"And 't was in The Terror's' stall,--there? didn't ye hear somethink
else, sir?"

"No!"

"I did,--it sounded like--" the boy's voice tailed off suddenly and,
upon the silence, a low whistle sounded; then a thud, as of some one
dropping from a height, quickly followed by another,--and thus two
figures darted away, impalpable as ghosts in the dawn, but the alley
was filled with the rush and patter of their flight. Instantly
Barnabas turned in pursuit, then stopped and stood utterly still,
his head turned, his eyes wide, glaring back towards the gloom of
the stables. For, in that moment, above the sudden harsh jangling of
chains from within, above the pattering footsteps of the fugitives
without, was an appalling sound rising high and ever higher--shrill,
unearthly, and full of horror and torment unspeakable. And now,
sudden as it had come, it was gone, but in its place was another
sound,--a sound dull and muffled, but continuous, and pierced, all
at once, by the loud, hideous whinnying of a horse. Then Barnabas
sprang back to the doors, beating upon them with his fists and
calling wildly for some one to open.

And, in a while, a key grated, a bolt shrieked; the doors swung back,
revealing Martin, half-dressed and with a lantern in his hand, while
three or four undergrooms hovered, pale-faced, in the shadows behind.

"My horse!" said Barnabas, and snatched the lantern.

"'The Terror'!" cried Milo, "this way, sir!"

Coming to a certain shadowy corner, Barnabas unfastened and threw
open the half-door; and there, rising from the gloom of the stall,
was a fiendish, black head with ears laid back, eyes rolling, and
teeth laid bare,--cruel teeth, whose gleaming white was hatefully
splotched,--strong teeth, in whose vicious grip something yet dangled.

"Why--what's he got there!" cried Martin suddenly, and then--
"Oh, my God! sir,--look yonder!" and, covering his eyes, he pointed
towards a corner of the stall where the light of the lantern fell.
And--twisted and contorted,--something lay there; something
hideously battered, and torn, and trampled; something that now lay
so very quiet and still, but which had left dark splashes and stains
on walls and flooring; something that yet clutched the knife which
was to have hamstrung and ended the career of Four-legs once and for
all; something that had once been a man.



CHAPTER XLIX


WHICH, BEING SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT, IS CONSEQUENTLY SHORT

"My dear fellow," said the Viscount, stifling a yawn beneath the
bedclothes, "you rise with the lark,--or should it be linnet? Anyhow,
you do, you know. So deuced early!"

"I am here early because I haven't been to bed, Dick."

"Ah, night mail? Dev'lish uncomfortable! Didn't think you'd come back
in such a deuce of a hurry, though!"

"But you wanted to see me, Dick, what is it?"

"Why,--egad, Bev, I'm afraid it's  nothing much, after all.
It's that fellow Smivvle's fault, really."

"Smivvle?"

"Fellow actually called here yesterday--twice, Bev. Dev'lish
importunate fellow y'know. Wanted to see you,--deuced insistent
about it, too!"

"Why?"

"Well, from what I could make out, he seemed to think--sounds
ridiculous so early in the morning,--but he seemed to fancy you were
in some kind of--danger, Bev."

"How, Dick?"

"Well, when I told him he couldn't see you because you had driven
over to Hawkhurst, the fellow positively couldn't sit still--deuced
nervous, y'know,--though probably owing to drink. 'Hawkhurst!' says
he, staring at me as if I were a ghost, my dear fellow, 'yes,' says I,
'and the door's open, sir!' 'I see it is,' says he, sitting tight.
'But you must get him back!' 'Can't be done!' says I. 'Are you his
friend?' says he. 'I hope so,' says I. 'Then,' says he, before I
could remind him of the door again, 'then you must get him back--
at once!' I asked him why, but he only stared and shook his head,
and so took himself off. I'll own the fellow shook me rather, Bev,
--he seemed so very much in earnest, but, knowing where you were, I
wouldn't have disturbed you for the world if it hadn't been for the
horses."

"Ah, yes--the horses!" said Barnabas thoughtfully. "How is your
arm now, Dick?"

"A bit stiff, but otherwise right as a trivet, Bev. But now--about
yourself, my dear fellow,--what on earth possessed you to lay
Carnaby such a bet? What a perfectly reckless fellow you are! Of
course the money is as good as in Carnaby's pocket already, not to
mention Chichester's--damn him! As I told you in my letter, the
affair has gone the round of the clubs,--every one is laughing at
the 'Galloping Countryman,' as they call you. Jerningham came within
an ace of fighting Tufton Green of the Guards about it, but the
Marquis is deuced knowing with the barkers, and Tufton, very wisely,
thought better of it. Still, I'm afraid the name will stick--!"

"And why not, Dick? I am a countryman, indeed quite a yokel in many
ways, and I shall certainly gallop--when it comes to it."

"Which brings us back to the horses, Bev. I 've been thinking we
ought to get 'em away--into the country--some quiet place like--say,
the--the 'Spotted Cow,' Bev."

"Yes, the 'Spotted Cow' should do very well; especially as Clemency--"

"Talking about the horses, Bev," said the Viscount, sitting up in
bed and speaking rather hurriedly, "I protest, since the rascally
attempt on 'Moonraker' last night, I've been on pins and needles,
positively,--nerve quite gone, y'know, Bev. If 'Moonraker' didn't
happen to be a horse, he'd be a mare,--of course he would,--but I
mean a nightmare. I've thought of him all day and dreamed of him all
night, oh, most cursed, y'know! Just ring for my fellow, will you,
Bev?--I'll get up, and we'll go round to the stables together."

"Quite unnecessary, Dick."

"Eh? Why?"

"Because I have just left there."

"Are the horses all right, Bev?"

"Yes, Dick."

"Ah!" sighed the Viscount, falling back among his pillows, "and
everything is quite quiet, eh?"

"Very quiet,--now, Dick."

"Eh?" cried the Viscount, coming erect again, "Bev, what d' you mean?"

"I mean that three men broke in again to-night--"

"Oh, Lord!" exclaimed the Viscount, beginning to scramble out of bed.

"But we drove them off before they had done--what they came for."

"Did you, Bev,--did you? ah,--but didn't you catch any of 'em?"

"No; but my horse did."

"Your horse? Oh, Beverley,--d'you mean he--"

"Killed him, Dick!"

Once more the Viscount sank back among his pillows and stared up at
the ceiling a while ere he spoke again--

"By the Lord, Bev," said he, at last, "the stable-boys might well
call him 'The Terror'!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, "he has earned his name, Dick."

"And the man was--dead, you say?"

"Hideously dead, Dick,--and in his pocket we found this!" and
Barnabas produced a dirty and crumpled piece of paper, and put it
into the Viscount's reluctant hand. "Look at it, Dick, and tell me
what it is."

"Why, Bev,--deuce take me, it's a plan of our stables! And they've
got it right, too! Here's 'Moonraker's' stall marked out as pat as
you please, and 'The Terror's,' but they've got his name wrong--"

"My horse had no name, Dick."

"But there's something written here."

"Yes, look at it carefully, Dick."

"Well, here's an H, and an E, and--looks like 'Hera,' Bev!"

"Yes, but it isn't. Look at that last letter again, Dick!"

"Why, I believe--by God, Bev,--it's an E!"

"Yes,--an E, Dick."

"'Here'!" said the Viscount, staring at the paper; "why, then--why,
Bev,--it was--your horse they were after!"

"My horse,--yes, Dick."

"But he's a rank outsider--he isn't even in the betting! In heaven's
name, why should any one--"

"Look on the other side of the paper, Dick."

Obediently, the Viscount turned the crumpled paper over, and
thereafter sat staring wide-eyed at a name scrawled thereon, and
from it to Barnabas and back again; for the name he saw was this:

    RONALD BARRYMAINE ESQUIRE.

"And Dick," said Barnabas, "it is in Chichester's handwriting."



CHAPTER L


IN WHICH RONALD BARRYMAINE SPEAKS HIS MIND

The whiskers of Mr. Digby Smivvle were in a chastened mood, indeed
their habitual ferocity was mitigated to such a degree that they
might almost be said to wilt, or droop. Mr. Digby Smivvle drooped
likewise; in a word, Mr. Smivvle was despondent.

He sat in one of the rickety chairs, his legs stretched out to the
cheerless hearth, and stared moodily at the ashes of a long dead fire.
At the opening of the door he started and half rose, but seeing
Barnabas, sank back again.

"Beverley," he cried, "thank heaven you're safe back again--that is
to say--" he went on, striving to speak in his ordinary manner,
"that is to say,--I mean--ah--in short, my dear Beverley, I'm
delighted to see you!"

"Pray what do you mean by safe?"

"What do I mean?" repeated Mr. Smivvle, beginning to fumble for his
whisker with strangely clumsy fingers, "why, I mean--safe, sir,--a
very natural wish, surely?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, "and you wished to see me, I think?"

"To see you?" echoed Mr. Smivvle, still feeling for his whisker,--"why,
yes, of course--"

"At least, the Viscount told me so."

"Ah? Deuced obliging of the Viscount,--very!"

"Are you alone?" Barnabas inquired, struck by Mr. Smivvle's
hesitating manner, and he glanced toward the door of what was
evidently a bedroom.

"Alone, sir," said Mr. Smivvle, "is the precise and only word for it.
You have hit the nail exactly--upon the nob, sir." Here, having
found his whisker, Mr. Smivvle gave it a fierce wrench, loosed it,
and clenching his fist, smote himself two blows in the region of the
heart. "Sir," said he, "you behold in me a deserted and therefore
doleful ruminant chewing reflection's solitary cud. And, sir,--it is
a bitter cud, cursedly so,--wherein the milk of human kindness is
curdled, sir, curdled most damnably, my dear Beverley! In a word, my
friend Barry--wholly forgetful of those sacred bonds which the
hammer of Adversity alone can weld,--scorning Friendship's holy
obligations, has turned his back upon Smivvle,--upon Digby,--upon
faithful Dig, and--in short has--ah--hopped the mutual perch, sir."

"Do you mean he has left you?"

"Yes, sir. We had words this morning--a good many and, the end of it
was--he departed--for good, and all on your account!"

"My account?"

"And with a month's rent due, not to mention the Spanswick's wages,
and she has a tongue! 'Oh, Death, where is thy sting?'"

"But how on my account?"

"Sir, in a word, he resented my friendship for you. Sir, Barrymaine
is cursed proud, but so am I--as Lucifer! Sir, when the blood of a
Smivvle is once curdled, it's curdled most damnably, and the heart
of a Smivvle,--as all the world knows,--becomes a--an accursed flint,
sir." Here Mr. Smivvle shook his head and sighed again. "Though I
can't help wondering what the poor fellow will do without me at hand
to--ah--pop round the corner for him. By the way, do you happen to
remember if you fastened the front door securely?"

"No."

"I ask because the latch is faulty,--like most things about
here,--and in this delightful Garden of Hatton and the--ah--hot-beds
adjoining there are weeds, sir, of the rambling species which, given
opportunity--will ramble anywhere. Several of 'em--choice exotics,
too! have found their way up here lately,--one of 'em got in here
this very morning after Barrymaine had gone,--characteristic
specimen in a fur cap. But, as I was saying, you may have noticed
that Chichester is not altogether--friendly towards you?"

"Chichester?" said Barnabas. "Yes!"

"And it would almost seem that he's determined that Barrymaine
shall--be the same. Poor fellow's been very strange lately,--Gaunt's
been pressing him again worse than ever,--even threatened him with
the Marshalsea. Consequently, the flowing bowl has continually
brimmed--Chichester's doing, of course,--and he seems to consider
you his mortal enemy, and--in short, I think it only right to--put
you on your guard."

"You mean against--Chichester?"

"I mean against--Barrymaine!"

"Ah!" said Barnabas, chin in hand, "but why?"

"Well, you'll remember that the only time you met him he was
inclined to be--just a l-ee-tle--violent, perhaps?"

"When he attacked me with the bottle,--yes!" sighed Barnabas,
"but surely that was only because he was drunk?"

"Y-e-s, perhaps so," said Mr. Smivvle, fumbling for his whisker again,
"but this morning he--wasn't so drunk as usual."

"Well?"

"And yet he was more violent than ever--raved against you like a
maniac."

"But--why?"

"It was just after he had received another of Jasper Gaunt's
letters,--here it is!" and, stooping, Mr. Smivvle picked up a
crumpled paper that had lain among the ashes, and smoothing it out,
tendered it to Barnabas. "Read it, sir,--read it!" he said earnestly,
"it will explain matters, I think,--and much better than I can. Yes
indeed, read it, for it concerns you too!" So Barnabas took the letter,
and this is what he read:

  DEAR MR. BARRYMAINE,--In reply to your favor, _re_ interest,
  requesting more time, I take occasion once more to remind you that I
  am no longer your creditor, being merely his agent, as Mr. Beverley
  himself could, and will, doubtless, inform you.

  I am, therefore, compelled to demand payment within thirty days
  from date; otherwise the usual steps must be taken in lieu of same.

  Yours obediently,

  JASPER GAUNT.

Now when Barnabas had read the letter a sudden fit of rage possessed
him, and, crumpling the paper in his fist, he dashed it down and set
his foot upon it.

"A lie!" he cried, "a foul, cowardly lie!"

"Then you--you didn't buy up the debt, Beverley?"

"No! no!--I couldn't,--Gaunt had sold already, and by heaven I
believe the real creditor is--"

"Ha!" cried Smivvle, pointing suddenly, "the door wasn't fastened,
Beverley,--look there!"

Barnabas started, and glancing round, saw that the door was opening
very slowly, and inch by inch; then, as they watched its stealthy
movement, all at once a shaggy head slid into view, a round head,
with a face remarkably hirsute as to eyebrow and whisker, and
surmounted by a dingy fur cap.

"'Scuse me, gents!" said the head, speaking hoarsely, and rolling
its eyes at them, "name o' Barrymaine,--vich on ye might that be, now?"

"Ha?" cried Mr. Smivvle angrily, "so you're here again, are you!"

"'Scuse me, gents!" said the head, blinking its round eyes at them,
"name o' Barrymaine,--no offence,--vich?"

"Come," said Mr. Smivvle, beginning to tug at his whiskers,--
"come, get out,--d'ye hear!"

"But, axing your pardons, gents,--vich on ye might be--name o'
Barrymaine?"

"What do you want with him--eh?" demanded Mr. Smivvle, his whiskers
growing momentarily more ferocious, "speak out, man!"

"Got a letter for 'im--leastways it's wrote to 'im," answered the
head, "'ere's a B, and a Nay, and a Nar, and another on 'em, and a
Vy,--that spells Barry, don't it? Then, arter that, comes a M., and
a--"

"Oh, all right,--give it me!" said Mr. Smivvle, rising.

"Are you name o' Barrymaine?"

"No, but you can leave it with me, and I--"

"Leave it?" repeated the head, in a slightly injured tone, "leave it?
axing your pardons, gents,--but burn my neck if I do! If you ain't
name o' Barrymaine v'y then--p'r'aps this is 'im a-coming upstairs
now,--and werry 'asty about it, too!" And, sure enough, hurried feet
were heard ascending; whereupon Mr. Smivvle uttered a startled
exclamation, and, motioning Barnabas to be seated in the dingiest
corner, strode quickly to the door, and thus came face to face with
Ronald Barrymaine upon the threshold.

"Why, Barry!" said he, standing so as to block Barrymaine's view of
the dingy corner, "so you've come back, then?"

"Come back, yes!" returned the other petulantly, "I had to,--mislaid
a letter, must have left it here, somewhere. Did you find it?"

"Axing your pardon, sir, but might you be name o' Barrymaine, no
offence, but might you?"

The shaggy head had slid quite into the room now, bringing after it
a short, thick-set person clad after the fashion of a bargeman.

"Yes; what do you want?"

"Might this 'ere be the letter as you come back for,--no offence,
but might it?"

"Yes! yes," cried Barrymaine, and, snatching it, he tore it fiercely
across and across, and made a gesture as if to fling the fragments
into the hearth, then thrust them into his pocket instead. "Here's a
shilling for you," said he, turning to the bargeman, "that is--Dig,
l-lend me a shilling, I--" Ronald Barrymaine's voice ended abruptly,
for he had caught sight of Barnabas sitting in the dingy corner, and
now, pushing past Smivvle, he stood staring, his handsome features
distorted with sudden fury, his teeth gleaming between his parted
lips.

"So it's--you, is it?" he demanded.

"Yes," said Barnabas, and stood up.

"So--you're--back again, are you?"

"Thank you, yes," said Barnabas, "and quite safe!"

"S-safe?"

"As yet," answered Barnabas.

"You aren't d-drunk, are you?"

"No," said Barnabas, "nor are you, for once."

Barrymaine clenched his fists and took a step towards Barnabas, but
spying the bargeman, who now lurched forward, turned upon him in a
fury.

"What the d-devil d' you want? Get out of the way, d' ye hear?--get
out, I say!"

"Axing your pardon, sir, an' meaning no offence, but summat was said
about a bob, sir--vun shilling!"

"Damnation! Give the fellow his s-shilling, Dig, and then k-kick him
out."

Hereupon Mr. Smivvle, having felt through his pockets, slowly
produced the coin demanded, and handing it to the bargeman, pointed
to the door.

"No,--see him downstairs--into the street, Dig. And you needn't
hurry back, I'm going to speak my mind to this f-fellow--once and
for all! So l-lock the street door, Dig."

Mr. Smivvle hesitated, glanced at Barnabas, shrugged his shoulders
and followed the bargeman out of the room. As the door closed,
Barrymaine sprang to it, and, turning the key, faced Barnabas with
arms folded, head lowered, and a smile upon his lips:

"Now," said he, "you are going to listen to me--d'you hear? We are
going to understand each other before you leave this room! D'you see?"

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"Oh!" he cried bitterly, "I know the sort of c-crawling thing you are,
Gaunt has warned me--"

"Gaunt is a liar!" said Barnabas.

"I say,--he's told me,--are you listening? Y-you think, because
you've bought my debts, you've bought me, too, body and soul,
and--through me--Cleone! Ah, but you haven't,--before that happens
y-you'll be dead and rotting--and I, and she as well. Are you
listening?--she as well! You think you've g-got me--there beneath
your foot--b-but you haven't, no, by God, you haven't--"

"I tell you Gaunt is a liar!" repeated Barnabas. "I couldn't buy
your debts because he had sold them already. Come with me, and I'll
prove it,--come and let me face him with the truth--"

"The truth? You? Oh, I might have guessed you'd come creeping round
here to see S-Smivvle behind my back--as you do my sister--"

"Sir!" said Barnabas, flushing.

"What--do you dare deny it? Do you d-dare deny that you have met
her--by stealth,--do you? do you? Oh, I know of your secret meetings
with her. I know how you have imposed upon the credulity of a
weak-minded old woman and a one-armed d-dotard sufficiently to get
yourself invited to Hawkhurst. But I tell you this shall stop,--it
shall! Yes, by God,--you shall give me your promise to c-cease your
persecution of my sister before you leave this room, or--"

"Or?" said Barnabas.

"Or it will be the w-worse for you!"

"How?"

"I--I'll k-kill you!"

"Murder me?"

"It's no m-murder to kill your sort!"

"Then it _is_ a pistol you have in your pocket, there?"

"Yes--l-look at it!" And, speaking, Barrymaine drew and levelled the
weapon with practised hand. "Now listen!" said he. "You will s-sit
down at that table there, and write Gaunt to g-give me all the time
I need for your c-cursed interest--"

"But I tell you--"

"Liar!" cried Barrymaine, advancing a threatening step. "Liar,--I
know! Then, after you've done that,--you will swear never to see or
c-communicate with my sister again, or I'll shoot you dead where you
stand,--s-so help me God!"

"You are mad," said Barnabas, "I am not your creditor, and--"

"Liar! I know!" repeated Barrymaine.

"And yet," said Barnabas, fronting him, white-faced, across the table,
"I think--I'm sure, there are four things you don't know. The first
is that Lady Cleone has promised to marry me--some day--"

"Go on to the next, liar!"

"The second is that my stables were broken into again, this
morning,--the third is that my horse killed the man who was trying
to hamstring him,--and the fourth is that in the dead man's pocket
I found--this!" And Barnabas produced that crumpled piece of paper
whereon was drawn the plan of the stables.

Now, at the sight of this paper, Barrymaine fell back a step, his
pistol-hand wavered, fell to his side, and sinking into a chair, he
seemed to shrink into himself as he stared dully at a worn patch in
the carpet.

"Only one beside myself knows of this," said Barnabas.

"Well?" The word seemed wrung from Barrymaine's quivering lips. He
lay back in the rickety chair, his arms dangling, his chin upon his
breast, never lifting his haggard eyes, and, almost as he spoke, the
pistol slipped from his lax fingers and lay all unheeded.

"Not another soul shall ever know," said Barnabas earnestly,
"the world shall be none the wiser if you will promise to stop,--now,
--to free yourself from Chichester's influence, now,--to let me help
you to redeem the past. Promise me this, and I, as your friend, will
tear up this damning evidence--here and now."

"And--if I--c-can't?"

Barnabas sighed, and folding up the crumpled paper, thrust it back
into his pocket.

"You shall have--a week, to make up your mind. You know my address,
I think,--at least, Mr. Smivvle does." So saying, Barnabas stepped
towards the door, but, seeing the look on Barrymaine's face, he
stooped very suddenly, and picked up the pistol. Then he unlocked
the door and went out, closing it behind him. Upon the dark stairs
he encountered Mr. Smivvle, who had been sitting there making
nervous havoc of his whiskers.

"Gad, Beverley!" he exclaimed, "I ought not to have left you alone
with him,--deuce of a state about it, 'pon my honor. But what could
I do,--as I sat here listening to you both I was afraid."

"So was I," said Barnabas. "But he will be quiet now, I think. Here
is one of his pistols, you'd better hide it. And--forget your
differences with him, for if ever a man needed a friend, he does. As
for your rent, don't worry about that, I'll send it round to you
this evening. Good-by."

So Barnabas went on down the dark stairs, and being come to the door
with the faulty latch, let himself out into the dingy street, and
thus came face to face with the man in the fur cap.

"Lord, Mr. Barty, sir," said that worthy, glancing up and down the
street with a pair of mild, round eyes, "you can burn my neck if I
wasn't beginning to vorry about you, up theer all alone vith that
'ere child o' mine. For, sir, of all the Capital coves as ever I see,
--'e's vun o' the werry capital-est."



CHAPTER LI


WHICH TELLS HOW AND WHY MR. SHRIG'S CASE WAS SPOILED

"Why," exclaimed Barnabas, starting, "is that you, Mr. Shrig?"

"As ever vas, sir. I ain't partial to disguises as a rule, but
circumstances obleeges me to it now and then," sighed Mr. Shrig as
they turned into Hatton Garden. "Ye see, I've been keeping a eye--or
as you might say, a fatherly ogle on vun o' my fambly, vich is the
v'y and the v'erefore o' these 'ere v'iskers. Yesterday, I vas a
market gerdener, vith a basket o' fine wegetables as nobody 'ad
ordered,--the day afore, a sailor-man out o' furrin parts, as
vos a-seeking and a-searchin' for a gray-'eaded feyther as didn't
exist,--to-day I'm a riverside cove as 'ad found a letter--a letter
as I'd stole--"

"Stolen!" repeated Barnabas.

"Vell, let's say borreyed, sir,--borreyed for purposes o' obserwation,
--out o' young Barrymaine's pocket, and werry neatly I done it too!"
Here Mr. Shrig chuckled softly, checked himself suddenly, and shook
his placid head. "But life ain't all lavender, sir,--not by no
manner o' means, it ain't," said he dolefully. "Things is werry
slack vith me,--nothing in the murder line this veek, and only vun
sooicide, a couple o' 'ighvay robberies, and a 'sault and battery!
You can scrag me if I know v'ot things is coming to. And then, to
make it vorse, I 've jest 'ad a loss as vell."

"I'm sorry for that, Mr. Shrig, but--"

"A loss, sir, as I shan't get over in a 'urry. You'll remember
V'istlin' Dick, p'r'aps,--the leary, flash cove as you give such a
leveller to, the first time as ever I clapped my day-lights on ye?"

"Yes, I remember him."

"Veil sir,' e's been and took, and gone, and got 'isself kicked to
death by an 'orse!"

"Eh,--a horse?" exclaimed Barnabas, starting.

"An 'orse, sir, yes. Vich I means to say is coming it a bit low down
on _me_, sir,--sich conduct ain't 'ardly fair, for V'istlin' Dick
vos a werry promising cove as Capitals go. And now to see 'im cut
off afore 'is time, and in such a outrageous, onnat'ral manner,
touches me up, Mr. Barty, sir,--touches me up werry sharp it do! For
arter all, a nice, strong gibbet vith a good long drop is qvicker,
neater, and much more pleasant than an 'orse's 'oof,--now ain't it?
Still," said Mr. Shrig, sighing and shaking his head again,
"things is allus blackest afore the dawn, sir, and--'twixt you and
me,--I'm 'oping to bring off a nice little murder case afore long--"

"Hoping?"

"Veil--let's say--expecting, sir. Quite a bang up affair it'll be
too,--nobs, all on 'em, and there's three on 'em concerned. I'll call
the murderer Number Vun, Number Two is the accessory afore the fact,
and Number Three is the unfort'nate wictim. Now sir, from private
obserwation, the deed is doo to be brought off any time in the next
three veeks, and as soon as it's done, v'y then I lays my right 'and
on Number Vun, and my left 'and on Number Two, and--"

"But--what about Number Three?" inquired Barnabas.

Mr. Shrig paused, glanced at Barnabas, and scratched his ear,
thoughtfully.

"V'y sir," said he at last, "Number Three vill be a corp."

"A what?" said Barnabas.

"A corp, sir--a stiff--"

"Do you mean--dead?"

"Ah,--I mean werry much so!" nodded Mr. Shrig.

"Number Three vill be stone cold,--somev'eres in the country it'll
'appen, I fancy,--say in a vood! And the leaves'll keep a-fluttering
over 'im, and the birds'll keep a-singing to 'im,--oh, Number
Three'll be comfortable enough,--'e von't 'ave to vorry about
nothink no more, it'll be Number Vun and Number Two as'll do the
vorrying, and me--till I gets my 'ooks on 'em, and then--"

"But," said Barnabas earnestly, "why not try to prevent it?"

"Prewent it, sir?" said Mr. Shrig, in a tone of pained surprise.
"Prewent it? Lord, Mr. Barty, sir--then vere vould my murder case be?
Besides, I ain't so onprofessional as to step in afore my time.
Prewent it? No, sir. My dooty is to apprehend a man _arter_ the crime,
not afore it."

"But surely you don't mean to allow this unfortunate person to be
done to death?"

"Sir," said Mr. Shrig, beginning to finger his ear again, "unfort'nate
wictims is born to be--vell, let's say--unfort'nate. You can't 'elp
'em being born wictims. I can't 'elp it,--nobody can't, for natur'
vill 'ave 'er own vay, sir, and I ain't vun to go agin natur' nor
yet to spile a good case,--good cases is few enough. Oh, life ain't
all lavender, as I said afore,--burn my neck if it is!" And here
Mr. Shrig shook his head again, sighed again, and walked on in a
somewhat gloomy silence.

Now, all at once, as they turned into the rush and roar of Holborn,
Barnabas espied a face amid the hurrying throng; a face whose proud,
dark beauty there was no mistaking despite its added look of sorrow;
and a figure whose ripe loveliness the threadbare cloak could not
disguise. For a moment her eyes looked up into his, dark and
suddenly wide,--then, quick and light of foot, she was gone, lost in
the bustling crowd.

But, even so, Barnabas turned and followed, striding on and on until
at length he saw again the flutter of the threadbare cloak. And,
because of its shabbiness, he frowned and hastened his steps, and
because of the look he had read in her eyes, he paused again, yet
followed doggedly nevertheless. She led him down Holborn Hill past
the Fleet Market, over Blackfriars Bridge, and so, turning sharp to
the right, along a somewhat narrow and very grimy street between
rows of dirty, tumble-down houses, with, upon the right hand,
numerous narrow courts and alley-ways that gave upon the turgid river.
Down one of these alleys the fluttering cloak turned suddenly, yet
when Barnabas reached the corner, behold the alley was quite deserted,
save for a small and pallid urchin who sat upon a rotting stump,
staring at the river, with a pallid infant in his arms.

"Which way did the lady go?" inquired Barnabas.

"Lady?" said the urchin, staring.

"Yes. She wore a cloak,--a gray cloak. Where did she go?" and
Barnabas held up a shilling. Instantly the urchin rose and, swinging
the pallid infant to his ragged hip, pattered over the cobbles with
his bare feet, and with one small, dirty claw extended.

"A bob!" he cried in a shrill, cracked voice, "gimme it, sir! Yus,
--yus,--I'll tell ye. She's wiv Nick--lives dere, she do. Now gimme
th' bob,--she's in dere!" And he pointed to a narrow door at the
further end of the alley. So Barnabas gave the shilling into the
eager clutching fingers, and approaching the door, knocked upon the
rotting timbers with the head of his cane.

"Come in!" roared a mighty voice. Hereupon Barnabas pushed open the
crazy door, and descending three steps, found himself in a small,
dark room, full of the smell of leather. And here, its solitary
inmate, was a very small man crouched above a last, with a hammer in
his hand and an open book before him. His head was bald save for a
few white hairs that stood up, fiercely erect, and upon his short,
pugnacious nose he wore a pair of huge, horn-rimmed spectacles.

"What's for you, sir?" he demanded in the same great, fierce voice,
viewing Barnabas over his spectacles with sharp, bright eyes.
"If it's a pair o' Hessians you'll be wanting--"

"It isn't," said Barnabas, "I--"

"Or a fine pair o' dancing shoes--?"

"No, thank you, I want to--"

"Or a smart pair o' bang up riding-jacks--?"

"No," said Barnabas again, "I came here to see--"

"You can't 'ave 'em! And because why?" demanded the little man, his
fierce eyes growing fiercer as he stared at Barnabas from modish hat
to flowered waistcoat, "because I don't make for the Quality.
Quality--bah! If I 'ad my way, I'd gillertine 'em all,--ah, that I
would! Like the Frenchies did when they revolutioned. I'd cut off
their 'eads! By the dozen! With j'y!"

"You are Nick, the Cobbler, I think?"

"And what if I am? I'd chop off their 'eads, I tell ye,--with j'y
and gusto!"

"And pray where is Clemency?"

"Eh?" exclaimed the little cobbler, pushing up his horn spectacles,
"'oo did ye say?"

"Where is the lady who came in here a moment ago?"

"Lady?" said the cobbler, shaking his round, bald head, "Lord, sir,
your heyes 'as been a-deceiving of you!"

"I am--her friend!"

"Friend!" exclaimed the cobbler, "to which I says--Hookey Walker, sir!
'Andsome gells don't want friends o' your kind. Besides, she ain't
here--you can see that for yourself. Your heyes 'as been a-deceiving
of you,--try next door."

"But I must see her," said Barnabas, "I wish to help her,--I have
good news for her--"

"Noos?" said the cobbler, "Oh? Ah! Well go and tell your noos to
someone else as ain't so 'andsome,--Mrs. Snummitt, say, as lives
next door,--a widder,--respectable, but with only one heye,--try
Mrs. Snummitt."

"Ah,--perhaps she's in the room yonder," said Barnabas, "anyhow, I
mean to see--"

"No ye don't!" cried the little cobbler, seizing a crutch that leant
near him, and springing up with astonishing agility, "no ye don't,
my fine gentleman,--she ain't for you,--not while I'm 'ere to
protect her!" and snatching up a long awl, he flourished it above
his head. "I'm a cobbler, oh yes,--but then I'm a valiant cobbler,
as valiant as Sir Bedevere, or Sir Lancelot, or any of 'em,--every
bit,--come and try me!" and he made a pass in the air with the awl
as though it had been a two-edged sword. But, at this moment, the
door of the inner room was pushed open and Clemency appeared. She
had laid aside her threadbare cloak, and Barnabas was struck afresh
by her proud, dark loveliness.

"You good, brave Nick!" said she, laying her hand upon the little
cripple's bent shoulder, "but we can trust this gentleman, I know."

"Trust him!" repeated the cobbler, peering at Barnahas, more
particularly at his feet, "why, your boots _is_ trustworthy--now I
come to look at 'em, sir,"

"Boots?" said Barnabas.

"Ah," nodded the cobbler, "a man wears his character into 'is boots
a sight quicker than 'e does into 'is face,--and I can read boots
and shoes easier than I can print,--and that's saying summat, for I'm
a great reader, I am. Why didn't ye show me your boots at first
and have done with it?" saying which the cobbler snorted and sat down;
then, having apparently swallowed a handful of nails, he began to
hammer away lustily, while Barnabas followed Clemency into the inner
room, and, being there, they stood for a long moment looking on each
other in silence.

And now Barnabas saw that, with her apron and mobcap, the country
serving-maid had vanished quite. In her stead was a noble woman,
proud and stately, whose clear, sad eyes returned his gaze with a
gentle dignity; Clemency indeed was gone, but Beatrix had come to
life. Yet, when he spoke, Barnabas used the name he had known her by
first.

"Clemency," said he, "your father is seeking for you."

"My--father!" she exclaimed, speaking in a whisper. "You have
seen--my father? You know him?"

"Yes. I met him--not long ago. His name is Ralph Darville, he told me,
and he goes up and down the countryside searching for you--has done
so, ever since he lost you, and he preaches always Forgiveness and
Forgetfulness of Self!"

"My father!" she whispered again with quivering lips. "Preaching?"

"He tramps the roads hoping to find you, Clemency, and he preaches
at country wakes and fairs because, he told me, he was once a very
selfish man, and unforgiving."

"And--oh, you have seen him, you say,--lately?" she cried.

"Yes. And I sent him to Frittenden--to the 'Spotted Cow.' But
Clemency, he was just a day too late."

Now when Barnabas said this, Clemency uttered a broken cry, and
covered her face.

"Oh, father!" she whispered, "if I had only known,--if I could but
have guessed! Oh, father! father!"

"Clemency, why did you run away?"

"Because I--I was afraid!"

"Of Chichcster?"

"No!" she cried in sudden scorn, "him I only--hate!"

"Then--whom did you fear?"

Clemency was silent, but, all at once, Barnabas saw a burning flush
that crept up, over rounded throat and drooping face, until it was
lost in the dark shadow of her hair.

"Was it--the Viscount?" Barnabas demanded suddenly.

"No--no, I--I think it was--myself. Oh, I--I am very wretched
and--lonely!" she sobbed, "I want--my father!"

"And he shall be found," said Barnabas, "I promise you! But, until
then, will you trust me, Clemency, as--as a sister might trust her
brother? Will you let me take you from this dreary place,--will you,
Clemency? I--I'll buy you a house--I mean a--a cottage--in the
country--or anywhere you wish."

"Oh, Mr. Beverley!" she sighed, looking up at him with tear-dimmed
eyes, but with the ghost of a smile hovering round her scarlet lips,
"I thank you,--indeed, indeed I do, but how can I? How may I?"

"Quite easily," said Barnabas stoutly, "oh quite--until I bring your
father to you."

"Dear, dear father!" she sighed. "Is he much changed, I wonder? Is
he well,--quite well?"

"Yes, he is very well," answered Barnabas, "but you--indeed you
cannot stay here--"

"I must," she answered. "I can earn enough for my needs with my
needle, and poor little Nick is very kind--so gentle and considerate
in spite of his great, rough voice and fierce ways. I think he is
the gentlest little man in all the world. He actually refused to
take my money at first, until I threatened to go somewhere else."

"But how did you find your way to--such a place as this?"

"Milo brought me here."

"The Viscount's little imp of a groom?"

"Yes, though he promised never to tell--_him_ where I was, and Milo
always keeps his word. And you, Mr. Beverley, you will promise also,
won't you?"

"You mean--never to tell the Viscount of your whereabouts?"

Clemency nodded.

"Yes," said Barnabas, "I will promise, but--on condition that you
henceforth will regard me as a brother. That you will allow me the
privilege of helping you whenever I may, and will always turn to me
in your need. Will you promise me this, Clemency?" And Barnabas held
out his hand.

"Yes," she answered, smiling up into his earnest eyes, "I think I
shall be--proud to--have you for a brother." And she put her hand
into his.

"Ah! so you're a-going, are ye?" demanded the cobbler, disgorging
the last of the nails as Barnabas stepped into the dark little shop.

"Yes," said Barnabas, "and, if you think my boots sufficiently
trustworthy, I should like to shake your hand."

"Eh?" exclaimed the cobbler, "shake 'ands with old Nick, sir? But
you're one o' the Quality, and I 'ates the Quality--chop off their
'eads if I 'ad my way, I would! and my 'and's very dirty--jest
let me wipe it a bit,--there sir, if you wish to! and 'ere's
'oping to see you again. Though, mark you, the Frenchies was quite
right,--there's nothing like the gillertine, I say. Good arternoon, sir."

Then Barnabas went out into the narrow, grimy alley, and closed the
crazy door behind him. But he had not gone a dozen yards when he
heard Clemency calling his name, and hastened back.

"Mr. Beverley," said she, "I want to ask you--something else--about
my father--"

"Yes," said Barnabas, as she hesitated.

"Does he think I am--does he know that--though I ran away with--a
beast, I--ran away--from him, also,--does he know--?"

"He knows you for the sweet, pure woman you are," said Barnabas as
she fell silent again, "he knows the truth, and lives but to find
you again--my sister!" Now, when he said this, Barnabas saw within
her tearful eyes the light of a joy unutterable; so he bared his head
and, turning about, strode quickly away up the alley.

Being come into the narrow, dingy street, he suddenly espied Mr. Shrig
who leaned against a convenient post and stared with round eyes at
the tumble-down houses opposite, while upon his usually placid brow
he wore a frown of deep perplexity.

"So you followed me?" exclaimed Barnabas.

"V'y, sir, since you mention it,--I did take that 'ere liberty. This
is a werry on-savory neighborhood at most times, an' the air's werry
bad for--fob-seals, say,--and cravat-sparklers at all times. Sich
things 'as a 'abit o' wanishing theirselves avay." Having said which,
Mr. Shrig walked on beside Barnabas as one who profoundly meditates,
for his brow was yet furrowed deep with thought.

"Why so silent, Mr. Shrig?" inquired Barnabas as they crossed
Blackfriars Bridge.

"Because I'm vorking out a problem, sir. For some time I've been
trying to add two and two together, and now I'm droring my
conclusions. So you know Old Nick the cobbler, do you, sir?"

"I didn't--an hour ago."

"Sir, when you vos in his shop, I took the liberty o' peeping in at
the winder."

"Indeed?"

"And I seen that theer 'andsome gal."

"Oh, did you?"

"I likewise 'eered her call your name--Beverley, I think?"

"Yes,--well?"

"Beverley!" repeated Mr. Shrig.

"Yes."

"But your name's--Barty!"

"True, but in London I'm known as Beverley, Mr. Shrig."

"Not--not--_the_ Beverley? Not the bang up Corinthian? Not the
Beverley as is to ride in the steeplechase?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, "the very same,--why?"

"Now--dang me for a ass!" exclaimed Mr. Shrig, and, snatching off
the fur cap, he dashed it to the ground, stooped, picked it up, and
crammed it back upon his head,--all in a moment.

"Why--what's the matter?"

"Matter!" said Mr. Shrig, "matter, sir? Veil, vot vith your qviet,
innocent looks and vays, and vot vith me a-adding two and two
together and werry carefully making 'em--three, my case is
spiled--won't come off,--can't come off,--mustn't come off!"

"What in the world do you mean?"

"Mean, sir? I mean as, if Number Vun is the murderer, and Number Two
is the accessory afore the fact,--then Number Three--the unfort'nate
wictim is--vait a bit!" Here, pausing in a quiet corner of Fleet
Market, Mr. Shrig dived into his breast and fetched up his little
book. "Sir," said he, turning over its pages with a questing finger,
"v'en I borreyed that theer letter out o' young B.'s pocket, I made
so free as to take a copy of it into my little reader,--'ere it is,
--jest take a peep at it."

Then, looking where he pointed, Barnabas read these words, very
neatly set down:

  MY DEAR BARRYMAINE,--I rather suspect Beverley will not ride in the
  race on the Fifteenth. Just now he is at Hawkhurst visiting Cleone!
  He is with--your sister! If you are still in the same mind about a
  certain project, no place were better suited. If you are still set
  on trying for him, and I know how determined you are where your honor,
  or Cleone's, is concerned, the country is the place for it, and I
  will go with you, though I am convinced he is no fighter, and will
  refuse to meet you, on one pretext or another. However, you may as
  well bring your pistols,--mine are at the gun-smith's.--Yours always,

   WILFRED CHICHESTER

"So you see, sir," sighed Mr. Shrig, as he put away the little book,
"my case is spiled,--can't come off,--mustn't come off! For if young
B. is Number Vun, the murderer, and C. is Number Two, the accessory
afore the fact, v'y then Number Three, the unfort'nate wictim is--you,
sir,--you! And you--" said Mr. Shrig, sighing deeper than ever,
"you 'appen to be my pal!"



CHAPTER LII


OF A BREAKFAST, A ROMAN PARENT, AND A KISS

Bright rose the sun upon the "White Hart" tavern that stands within
Eltham village, softening its rugged lines, gilding its lattices,
lending its ancient timbers a mellower hue.

This inn of the "White Hart" is an ancient structure and very
unpretentious (as great age often is), and being so very old, it has
known full many a golden dawn. But surely never, in all its length
of days, had it experienced quite such a morning as this. All night
long there had been a strange hum upon the air, and now, early though
the hour, Eltham village was awake and full of an unusual bustle and
excitement. And the air still hummed, but louder now, a confused
sound made up of the tramp of horse-hoofs, the rumble of wheels, the
tread of feet and the murmur of voices. From north and south, from
east and west, a great company was gathering, a motley throng of
rich and poor, old and young: they came by high road and by-road, by
lane and footpath, from sleepy village and noisy town,--but, one and
all, with their faces set towards the ancient village of Eltham.
For to-day is the fateful fifteenth of July; to-day the great
Steeplechase is to be run--seven good miles across country from point
to point; to-day the very vexed and all-important question as to
which horse out of twenty-three can jump and gallop the fastest over
divers awkward obstacles is to be settled once and for all.

Up rose the sun higher and higher, chasing the morning mists from
dell and dingle, filling the earth with his glory and making glad
the heart of man, and beast, and bird.

And presently, from a certain casement in the gable of the "White
Hart," his curls still wet with his ablutions, Barnabas thrust his
touzled head to cast an anxious glance first up at the cloudless
blue of the sky, then down at the tender green of the world about,
and to breathe in the sweet, cool freshness of the morning. But
longest and very wistfully he gazed to where, marked out by small
flags, was a track that led over field, and meadow, and winding
stream, over brown earth newly turned by the plough, over hedge, and
ditch, and fence, away to the hazy distance. And, as he looked, his
eye brightened, his fingers clenched themselves and he frowned, yet
smiled thereafter, and unfolding a letter he held, read as follows:

  OUR DEAR LAD,--Yours received, and we are rejoyced to know you so
  successful so far. Yet be not over confident, says your father, and
  bids me remind you as a sow's ear ain't a silk purse, Barnabas, nor
  ever can be. Your description of horse reads well, though brief. But
  as to the Rayce, Barnabas, though you be a rider born, yet having
  ridden a many rayces in my day, I now offer you, my dear lad, a word
  of advice. In a rayce a man must think as quick as he sees, and act
  as quick as he thinks, and must have a nice judgment of payce. Now
  here comes my word of advice.

  1. Remember that many riders beat themselves by over-eagerness.
    Well--let 'em, Barnabas.

  2. Don't rush your fences, give your mount time, and steady him
    about twenty yards from the jump.

  3. Remember that a balking horse generally swerves to the left,
    Barnabas.

  4. Keep your eye open for the best take-offs and landings.

  5. Gauge your payce, save your horse for raycing at finish.

  6. Remember it's the last half-mile as counts, Barnabas.

  7. So keep your spurs till they 're needed, my lad.

  A rayce, Barnabas lad, is very like a fight, after all. Given a good
  horse it's the man with judgment and cool head as generally wins. So,
  Barnabas, keep your temper. This is all I have to say, or your father,
  only that no matter how near you come to turning yourself into a
  fine gentleman, we have faith as it won't spoil you, and that you
  may come a-walking into the old 'Hound' one of these days just the
  same dear Barnabas as we shall always love and remember.

    Signed:

     NATL. BELL.
     GON BARTY.

Now, as he conned over these words of Natty Bell, a hand was laid
upon his shoulder, and, glancing round, he beheld the Viscount in
all the bravery of scarlet hunting frock, of snowy buckskins and
spurred boots, a little paler than usual, perhaps, but as gallant a
figure as need be.

"What, Bev!" he exclaimed, "not dressed yet?"

"Why I've only just woke up, Dick!"

"Woke up! D' you mean to say you've actually--been asleep?" demanded
the Viscount reproachfully. "Gad! what a devilish cold-blooded fish
you are, Bev! Haven't closed a peeper all night, myself. Couldn't,
y' know, what with one deuced thing or another. So I got up, hours
ago, went and looked at the horses. Found your man Martin on guard
with a loaded pistol in each pocket, y' know,--deuced trustworthy
fellow. The horses couldn't look better, Bev. Egad! I believe they
know to-day is--the day! There's your 'Terror' pawing and fidgeting,
and 'Moonraker' stamping and quivering--"

"But how is your arm, Dick?"

"Arm?" said the Viscount innocently. "Oh,--ah, to be sure,--thanks,
couldn't be better, considering."

"Are you--quite sure?" persisted Barnabas, aware of the Viscount's
haggard cheek and feverish eye.

"Quite, Bev, quite,--behold! feel!" and doubling his fist, he smote
Barnabas a playful blow in the ribs. "Oh, my dear fellow, it's
going to be a grand race though,--ding-dong to the finish! And it's
dry, thank heaven, for 'Moonraker''s no mud-horse. But I shall be
glad when we line up for the start, Bev."

"In about--four hours, Dick."

"Yes! Devilish long time till eleven o'clock!" sighed the Viscount,
seating himself upon the bed and swinging his spurred heels
petulantly to and fro. "And I hate to be kept waiting, Bev--egad, I
do!"

"Viscount, do you love the Lady Cleone?"

"Eh? Who? Love? Now deuce take it, Beverley, how sudden you are!"

"Do you love her, Dick?"

"Love her--of course, yes--aren't we rivals? Love her, certainly, oh
yes--ask my Roman parent!" And the Viscount frowned blackly, and ran
his fingers through his hair.

"Why then," said Barnabas, "since you--honor me with your friendship,
I feel constrained to tell you that she has given me to--to
understand she will--marry me--some day."

"Eh? Oh! Marry you? The devil! Oh, has she though!" and hereupon the
Viscount stared, whistled, and, in that moment, Barnabas saw that
his frown had vanished.

"Will you--congratulate me, Dick?"

"My dear fellow," cried the Viscount, springing up, "with all my
heart!"

"Dick," said Barnabas, as their hands met, "would you give me your
hand as readily had it been--Clemency?"

Now here the Viscount's usually direct gaze wavered and fell, while
his pallid cheek flushed a dull red. He did not answer at once, but
his sudden frown was eloquent.

"Egad, Bev, I--since you ask me--I don't think I should."

"Why?"

"Oh well, I suppose--you see--oh, I'll be shot if I know!"

"You--don't love her, do you, Dick?"

"Clemency? Of course not--that is--suppose I do--what then?"

"Why then she'd make a very handsome Viscountess, Dick."

"Beverley," said the Viscount, staring wide-eyed, "are you mad?"

"No," Barnabas retorted, "but I take you to be an honorable man, my
Lord."

The Viscount sprang to his feet, clenched his fists, then took two
or three turns across the room.

"Sir," said he, in his iciest tones, "you presume too much on my
friendship."

"My Lord," said Barnabas, "with your good leave I'll ring for my
servant." Which he did, forthwith.

"Sir," said the Viscount, pale and stern, and with folded arms,
"your remark was, I consider, a direct reflection upon my honor."

"My Lord," answered Barnabas, struggling with his breeches,
"your honor is surely your friend's, also?"

"Sir," said the Viscount, with arms still folded, and sitting very
upright on the bed, "were I to--call you out for that remark I
should be only within my rights."

"My Lord," answered Barnabas, struggling with his shirt, "were you
to call from now till doomsday--I shouldn't come."

"Then, sir," said the Viscount, cold and sneering, "a whip,
perhaps,--or a cane might--"

But at this juncture, with a discreet knock, Peterby entered, and,
having bowed to the scowling Viscount, proceeded to invest Barnabas
with polished boots, waistcoat and scarlet coat, and to tie his
voluminous cravat, all with that deftness, that swift and silent
dexterity which helped to make him the marvel he was.

"Sir," said he, when Barnabas stood equipped from head to foot,
"Captain Slingsby's groom called to say that his master and the
Marquis of Jerningham are expecting you and Viscount Devenham to
breakfast at 'The Chequers'--a little higher up the street, sir.
Breakfast is ordered for eight o'clock."

"Thank you, Peterby," said Barnabas, and, bowing to the Viscount,
followed him from the room and downstairs, out into the dewy
freshness of the morning. To avoid the crowded street they went by a
field-path behind the inn, a path which to-day was beset by, and
wound between, booths and stalls and carts of all sorts. And here
was gathered a motley crowd; bespangled tumblers and acrobats,
dark-browed gipsy fortune-tellers and horse-coupers, thimble-riggers,
showmen, itinerant musicians,--all those nomads who are to be found
on every race-course, fair, and village green, when the world goes
a-holiday making. Through all this bustling throng went our two
young gentlemen, each remarkably stiff and upright as to back, and
each excessively polite, yet walking, for the most part, in a
dignified silence, until, having left the crowd behind, Barnabas
paused suddenly in the shade of a deserted caravan, and turned to his
companion.

"Dick!" said he smiling, and with hand outstretched.

"Sir?" said the Viscount, frowning and with eyes averted.

"My Lord," said Barnabas, bowing profoundly, "if I have offended
your Lordship--I am sorry, but--"

"But, sir?"

"But your continued resentment for a fancied wrong is so much
stronger than your avowed friendship for me, it would seem--that
henceforth I--"

With a warning cry the Viscount sprang forward and, turning in a
flash, Barnabas saw a heavy bludgeon in the air above him; saw the
Viscount meet it with up-flung arm; heard the thud of the blow, a
snarling curse; saw a figure dart away and vanish among the jungle
of carts; saw the Viscount stagger against the caravan and lean there,
his pale face convulsed with pain.

"Oh, Bev," he groaned, "my game arm, ye know. Hold me up, I--"

"Dick!" cried Barnabas, supporting the Viscount's writhing figure,
"oh, Dick--it was meant for me! Are you much hurt?"

"No--nothing to--mention, my dear fellow. Comes a bit--sharp at first,
y' know,--better in a minute or two."

"Dick--Dick, what can I do for you?"

"Nothing,--don't worry, Bev,--right as ninepence in a minute, y' know!"
stammered the Viscount, trying to steady his twitching mouth.

"Come back," pleaded Barnabas, "come back and let me bathe it--have
it attended to."

"Bathe it? Pooh!" said the Viscount, contriving to smile, "pain's
quite gone, I assure you, my dear fellow. I shall be all right now,
if--if you don't mind giving me your arm. Egad, Bev, some one seems
devilish determined you shan't ride to-day!"

"But I shall--now, thanks to you, Dick!"

So they presently walked on together, but no longer unnaturally
stiff as to back, for arm was locked in arm, and they forgot to be
polite to each other.

Thus, in a while, they reached the "Chequers" inn, and were
immediately shown into a comfortable sanded parlor where breakfast
was preparing. And here behold Captain Slingsby lounging upon two
chairs and very busily casting up his betting book, while the Marquis,
by the aid of a small, cracked mirror, that chanced to hang against
the wall, was frowning at his reflection and pulling at the folds of
a most elaborate cravat with petulant fingers.

"Ah, Beverley--here's the dooce of a go!" he exclaimed, "that fool
of a fellow of mine has actually sent me out to ride in a 'Trone
d'Amour' cravat, and I've only just discovered it! The rascal knows
I always take the field in an 'Osbaldistone' or 'Waterfall.' Now how
the dooce can I be expected to ride in a thing like this! Most
distressing, by Jove it is!"

"Eight thousand guineas!" said the Captain, yawning. "Steepish, b'gad,
steepish! Eight thousand at ten to one--hum! Now, if Fortune should
happen to smile on me to-day--by mistake, of course--still, if she
does, I shall clear enough to win free of Gaunt's claws for good and
all, b'gad!"

"Then I shall be devilish sorry to have to beat you, Sling, my boy!"
drawled the Marquis, "yes, doocid sorry,--still--"

"Eh--what? Beat the 'Rascal,' Jerny? Not on your weedy 'Clinker,'
b'gad--"

"Oh, but dooce take me, Sling, you'd never say the 'Rascal' was the
better horse? Why, in the first place, there's too much daylight
under him for your weight--besides--"

"But, my dear Jerny, you must admit that your 'Clinker' 's inclined
to be just--a le-e-etle cow-hocked, come now, b'gad?"

"And then--as I've often remarked, my dear Sling, the 'Rascal' is
too long in the pasterns, not to mention--"

"B'gad! give me a horse with good bellows,--round, d' ye see, well
ribbed home--"

"My dear Sling, if you could manage to get your 'Rascal' four new
legs, deeper shoulders, and, say, fuller haunches, he might possibly
stand a chance. As it is, Sling, my boy, I commiserate you--but hallo!
Devenham, what's wrong? You look a little off color."

"Well, for one thing, I want my breakfast," answered the Viscount.

"So do I!" cried the Captain, springing to his feet, "but, b'gad,
Dick, you do look a bit palish round the gills, y' know."

"Effect of hunger and a bad night, perhaps."

"Had a bad night, hey, Dick? Why, so did I," said the Captain,
frowning. "Dreamed that the 'Rascal' fell and broke his neck, poor
devil, and that I was running like the wind--jumping hedges and
ditches with Jasper Gaunt close at my heels--oh, cursed unpleasant,
y'know! What--is breakfast ready? Then let's sit down, b'gad, I'm
famished!"

So down they sat forthwith and, despite the Viscount's arm, and the
Marquis of Jerningham's cravat, a very hearty and merry meal they
made of it.

But lo! as they prepared to rise from the table, voices were heard
beyond the door, whereupon the Viscount sat up suddenly to listen.

"Why--egad!" he exclaimed, "I do believe it's my Roman!"

"No, by heaven!" said the Marquis, also listening, "dooce take me if
it isn't my great-aunt--her Graceless Grace, by Jove it is!"

Even as he spoke, the door opened and the Duchess swept in, all
rustling silks and furbelows, very small, very dignified, and very
imperious. Behind her, Barnabas saw a tall, graceful figure,
strangely young-looking despite his white hair, which he wore tied
behind in a queue, also his clothes, though elegant, were of a
somewhat antiquated fashion; but indeed, this man with his kindly
eyes and gentle, humorous mouth, was not at all like the Roman
parent Barnabas had pictured.

"Ah, gentlemen!" cried the Duchess, acknowledging their four bows
with a profound curtsy, "I am here to wish you success--all four of
you--which is quite an impossible wish of course--still, I wish it.
Lud, Captain Slingsby, how well you look in scarlet! Marquis--my fan!
Mr. Beverley--my cane! A chair? thank you, Viscount. Yes indeed,
gentlemen, I've backed you all--I shall gain quite a fortune if you
all happen to win--which you can't possibly, of course,--still, one
of you will, I hope,--and--oh, dear me, Viscount, how pale you are!
Look at him, Bamborough--it's his arm, I know it is!"

"Arm, madam?" repeated the Viscount with an admirable look of
surprise, "does your Grace suggest--"

But here the Earl of Bamborough stepped into the room and, closing
the door, bowed to the company.

"Gentlemen," said he, "I have the honor to salute you!
Viscount--your most dutiful, humble, obedient father to command."

"My Lord," answered the Viscount, gravely returning his father's bow,
"your Lordship's most obliged and grateful son!"

"My dear Devenham," continued the Earl solemnly, "being, I fear,
something of a fogy and fossil, I don't know if you Bucks allow the
formality of shaking hands. Still, Viscount, as father and son--or
rather son and father, it may perhaps be permitted us? How are you,
Viscount?"

Now as they clasped hands, Barnabas saw the Viscount set his jaw
grimly, and something glistened upon his temple, yet his smile was
quite engaging as he answered:

"Thank you, my Lord,--never better!"

"Yes," said his Lordship, as he slowly relinquished the Viscount's
hand, "your Grace was right, as usual,--it is his arm!"

"Then of course he cannot ride, Bamborough--you will forbid it?"

"On the contrary, madam, he must ride. Being a favorite, much money
has changed hands already on his account, and, arm or no arm, he
must ride now--he owes it to his backers. You intend to, of course,
Horatio?"

"My Lord, I do."

"It's your right arm, luckily, and a horseman needs only his left.
You ride fairly well, I understand, Viscount?"

"Oh, indifferent well, sir, I thank you. But allow me to present my
friend to your Lordship,--Mr. Beverley--my father!"

So Barnabas shook hands with the Viscount's Roman parent, and,
meeting his kindly eyes, saw that, for all their kindliness, they
were eyes that looked deep into the heart of things.

"Come, gentlemen," cried the Duchess rising, "if you have quite
finished breakfast, take me to the stables, for I'm dying to see the
horses, I vow I am. Lead the way, Viscount. Mr. Beverley shall give
me his arm."

So towards the stables they set forth accordingly, the Duchess and
Barnabas well to the rear, for, be it remarked, she walked very
slowly.

"Here it is, Barnabas," said she, as soon as the others were out of
ear-shot.

"What, madam?"

"Oh, dear me, how frightfully dense you are, Barnabas!" she exclaimed,
fumbling in her reticule. "What should it be but a letter, to be
sure--Cleone's letter."

"A letter from Cleone! Oh, Duchess--"

"Here--take it. She wrote it last night--poor child didn't sleep a
wink, I know, and--all on your account, sir. I promised I'd deliver
it for her,--I mean the letter--that's why I made Bamborough bring
me here. So you see I've kept my word as I always do--that
is--sometimes. Oh, dear me, I'm  so  excited--about the race, I
mean--and Cleone's so nervous--came and woke me long before dawn,
and there were tears on her lashes--I know because I felt 'em when I
kissed them--I mean her eyes. And Patten dressed me in such a hurry
this morning--which was really my fault, and I know my wig's not
straight--and there you stand staring at it as though you wanted
to kiss it--I mean Cleone's letter, not my wig. That ridiculous
Mr. Tressider told Cleone that it was the best course he ever hoped
to ride over--meaning 'the worst' of course, so Cleone's quite
wretched, dear lamb--but oh, Barnabas, it would be dreadful if--
if you were--killed--oh!" And the Duchess shivered and turned away.

"Would you mind? So much, madam?"

"Barnabas--I never had a son--or a daughter--but I think I know just
how--your mother would be feeling--now!"

"And I do not remember my mother!" said Barnabas.

"Poor, poor Joan!" sighed the Duchess, very gently. "Were she here I
think she would--but then she was much taller than I, and--oh, boy,
stoop--stoop down, you great, tall Barnabas--how am I ever to reach
you if you don't?"

Then Barnabas stooped his head, and the Duchess kissed him--even as
his own mother might have done, and so, smiling a little tremulously,
turned away. "There! Barnabas," she sighed. "And now--oh, I know you
are dying to read your letter--of course you are, so pray sir,--go
back and fetch my fan,--here it is, it will serve as an excuse,
while I go on to look at the horses." And with a quick, smiling nod,
she hurried away across the paddock after the others. Then Barnabas
broke the seal of Cleone's letter, and--though to be sure it might
have been longer--he found it all sufficient. Here it is:

  The Palace Grange,
  Eltham,
  Midnight.

  Ever Dearest,--The race is to-morrow and, because I love you greatly,
  so am I greatly afraid for you. And dear, I love you because you are
  so strong, and gentle, and honorable. And therefore, here on my knees
  I have prayed God to keep you ever in his care, my Barnabas.

  CLEONE.



CHAPTER LIII


IN WHICH SHALL BE FOUND SOME ACCOUNT OF THE GENTLEMAN'S STEEPLECHASE

Truly it is a great day for "The Terror," hitherto known as
"Four-legs," and well he knows it.

Behold him as he stands, with his velvet muzzle upon old Martin's
shoulder, the while the under-grooms, his two-legged slaves, hover
solicitously about him! Behold the proud arch of his powerful neck,
the knowing gleam of his rolling eye, the satiny sheen of his velvet
coat! See how he flings up his shapely head to snuff the balmy air of
morning, the while he paws the green earth with a round, bepolished
hoof.

Yes, indeed, it is a great day for "The Terror," and well he knows it.

"He looks very well, Martin!" says Barnabas.

"And 'e's better than 'e looks, sir!" nods Martin. "And they're
laying thirty to one ag'in you, sir!"

"So much, Martin?"

"Ah, but it'll be backed down a bit afore you get to the post, I
reckon, so I got my fifty guineas down on you a good hour ago."

"Why, Martin, do you mean you actually backed me--to win--for fifty
guineas?"

"Why, y'see sir," said Martin apologetically, "fifty guineas is all
I've got, sir!"

Now at this moment, Barnabas became aware of a very shiny glazed hat,
which bobbed along, among other hats of all sorts and shapes, now
hidden, now rising again--very like a cock-boat in a heavy sea; and,
presently, sure enough, the Bo'sun hove into view, and bringing
himself to an anchor, made a leg, touched the brim of his hat, and
gripped the hand Barnabas extended.

"Mr. Beverley, sir," said he, "I first of all begs leave to say as,
arter Master Horatio his Lordship, it's you as I'd be j'yful to see
come into port first, or--as you might say--win this 'ere race.
Therefore and wherefore I have laid five guineas on you, sir, by
reason o' you being you, and the odds so long. Secondly, sir, I were
to give you this here, sir, naming no names, but she says as you'd
understand."

Hereupon the Bo'sun took off the glazed hat, inserted a hairy paw,
and brought forth a single, red rose.

So Barnabas took the rose, and bowed his head above it, and
straightway forgot the throng and bustle about him, and all things
else, yea even the great race itself until, feeling a touch upon his
arm, he turned to find the Earl of Bamborough beside him.

"He is very pale, Mr. Beverley!" said his Lordship, and, glancing
whither he looked, Barnabas saw the Viscount who was already mounted
upon his bay horse "Moonraker."

"Can you tell me, sir," pursued the Earl, "how serious his hurt
really is?"

"I know that he was shot, my Lord," Barnabas answered, "and that he
received a violent blow upon his wounded arm this morning, but he is
very reticent."

Here the Viscount chanced to catch sight of them, and, with his
groom at "Moonraker's" head, paced up to them.

"Viscount," said his Lordship, looking up at his son with wise, dark
eyes, "your arm is troubling you, I see."

"Indeed, sir, it might be--a great deal worse."

"Still, you will be under a disadvantage, for it will be a punishing
race for horse and man."

"Yes, sir."

"And--you will do your best, of course, Horatio?"

"Of course, sir."

"But--Horace, may I ask you to remember--that your father has--only
one son?"

"Yes, sir,--and, father, may I tell you that--that thoughtless
though he may be, he never forgets that--he _is_ your son!" Saying
which the Viscount leaned down from his saddle, with his hand
stretched out impulsively, and, this time, his father's clasp was
very light and gentle. So the Earl bowed, and turning, walked away.

"He's--deuced Roman, of course, Bev," said the Viscount, staring
hard after his father's upright figure, "but there are times when
he's--rather more--than human!" And sighing, the Viscount nodded and
rode off.

"Only ten minutes more, sir!" said Martin.

"Well, I'm ready, Martin," answered Barnabas, and, setting the rose
in his breast very securely, he swung himself lightly into the saddle,
and with the old groom at "The Terror's" head, paced slowly out of
the paddock towards the starting post.

Here a great pavilion had been set up, an ornate contrivance of silk
and gold cords, and gay with flags and bunting, above which floated
the Royal Standard of England, and beneath which was seated no less
ornate a personage than the First Gentleman in Europe--His Royal
Highness the Prince Regent himself, surrounded by all that was
fairest and bravest in the Fashionable and Sporting World. Before
this pavilion the riders were being marshalled in line, a gallant
sight in their scarlet coats, and, each and every, mounted upon a
fiery animal every whit as high-bred as himself; which fact they
manifested in many and divers ways, as--in rearing and plunging, in
tossing of heads, in lashing of heels, in quivering, and snorting,
and stamping--and all for no apparent reason, yet which is the
prerogative of your thoroughbred all the world over.

Amidst this confusion of tossing heads and manes, Barnabas caught a
momentary glimpse of the Viscount, some way down the line, his face
frowning and pale; saw the Marquis alternately bowing gracefully
towards the great, gaudy pavilion, soothing his plunging horse,
and re-settling his cravat; caught a more distant view of
Captain Slingsby, sitting his kicking sorrel like a centaur; and
finally, was aware that Sir Mortimer Carnaby had ridden up beside him,
who, handsome and debonair, bestrode his powerful gray with a
certain air of easy assurance, and laughed softly as he talked with
his other neighbor, a thinnish, youngish gentleman in sandy whiskers,
who giggled frequently.

"....very mysterious person," Sir Mortimer was saying, "nobody
knows him, devilish odd, eh, Tressider? Tufton Green dubbed him the
'Galloping Countryman,'--what do you think of the name?"

"Could have suggested a better, curse me if I couldn't, yes, Carnaby,
oh damme! Why not 'the Prancing Ploughman,' or 'the Cantering
Clodhopper'?" Here Sir Mortimer laughed loudly, and the thinnish,
youngish gentleman giggled again.

Barnabas frowned, but looking down at the red rose upon his breast,
he smiled instead, a little grimly, as he settled his feet in the
stirrups, and shortening his reins, sat waiting, very patiently. Not
so "The Terror." Patient, forsooth! He backed and sidled and tossed
his head, he fidgeted with his bit, he glared viciously this way and
that, and so became aware of other four-legged creatures like himself,
notably of Sir Mortimer's powerful gray near by, and in his heart he
scorned them, one and all, proud of his strength and might, and sure
of himself because of the hand upon his bridle. Therefore he snuffed
the air with quivering nostril, and pawed the earth with an
impatient hoof,--eager for the fray.

Now all at once Sir Mortimer laughed again, louder than before, and
in that same moment his gray swerved and cannoned lightly against
"The Terror," and--reared back only just in time to avoid the
vicious snap of two rows of gleaming teeth.

"Damnation!" cried Sir Mortimer, very nearly unseated, "can't you
manage that brute of yours!" and he struck savagely at "The Terror"
with his whip. But Barnabas parried the blow, and now--even as they
stared and frowned upon each other, so did their horses, the black
and the gray, glare at each other with bared teeth.

But, here, a sudden shout arose that spread and spread, and swelled
into a roar; the swaying line of horsemen surges forward, bends,
splits into plunging groups, and man and horse are off and away--the
great Steeplechase has begun.

Half a length behind Carnaby's gray gallops "The Terror," fire in
his eye, rage in his heart, for there are horses ahead of him, and
that must not be. Therefore he strains upon the bit, and would fain
lengthen his stride, but the hand upon his bridle is strong and
compelling.

On sweeps the race, across the level and up the slope; twice Sir
Mortimer glances over his shoulder, and twice he increases his pace,
yet, as they top the rise, "The Terror" still gallops half a length
behind.

Far in advance races Tressider, the thinnish, youngish gentleman in
sandy whiskers, hotly pressed by the Marquis, and with eight or nine
others hard in their rear; behind these again, rides the Viscount,
while to the right of Barnabas races Slingsby on his long-legged
sorrel, with the rest thundering on behind. And now before them is
the first jump--a hedge with the gleam of water beyond; and the
hedge is high, and the water broad. Nearer it looms, and
nearer--half a mile away! a quarter! less! Tressider's horse rises
to it, and is well over, with the Marquis hard on his heels. But now
shouts are heard, and vicious cries, as several horses, refusing,
swerve violently; there is a crash! a muffled cry--some one is down.
Then, as Barnabas watches, anxious-eyed, mindful of the Viscount's
injured arm--"Moonraker" shoots forward and has cleared it gallantly.

And now it is that "The Terror" feels the restraining bit relax and
thereupon, with his fierce eyes ever upon the gray flanks of his
chosen foe, he tosses his great head, lengthens his stride, and with
a snort of defiance sweeps past Carnaby's gray, on and on, with
thundering hoofs and ears laid back, while Barnabas, eyeing the
hedge with frowning brows, gauges his distance,--a hundred yards!
fifty! twenty-five! steadies "The Terror" in his stride and sends
him at it--feels the spring and sway of the powerful loins,--a rush
of wind, and is over and away, with a foot to spare. But behind him
is the sound of a floundering splash,--another! and another! The air
is full of shouts and cries quickly lost in the rush of wind and the
drumming of galloping hoofs, and, in a while, turning his head, he
sees Slingsby's "Rascal" racing close behind.

"Bit of a rasper, that, b'gad!" bellows the Captain, radiant of face.
"Thinned 'em out a bit, ye know, Beverley. Six of 'em--down and out
of it b'gad! Carnaby's behind, too,--foot short at the water. Told
you it would be--a good race, and b'gad--so it is!"

Inch by inch the great, black horse and the raking sorrel creep up
nearer the leaders, and, closing in with the Viscount, Barnabas
wonders to see the ghastly pallor of his cheek and the grim set of
mouth and jaw, till, glancing at the sleeve of his whip-arm, he sees
there a dark stain, and wonders no more. And the race is but begun!

"Dick!" he cried.

"That you, Bev?"

"Your arm, Dick,--keep your hand up!"

"Arm, Bev--right as a trivet!"

And to prove his words, the Viscount flourished his whip in the air.

"Deuce take me! but Jerningham's setting a devilish hot pace," he
cried. "Means to weed out the unlikely ones right away. Gad! there's
riding for you!--Tressider's 'Pilot''s blown already--Marquis hasn't
turned a hair!"

And indeed the Marquis, it would seem, has at last ceased to worry
over his cravat, and has taken the lead, and now, stooped low in the
saddle, gallops a good twelve yards in front of Tressider.

"Come on Bev!" cries the Viscount and, uttering a loud "view hallo,"
flourishes his whip. "Moonraker" leaps forward, lengthens his stride,
and away he goes fast and furious, filling the air with flying clods,
on and on,--is level with Tressider,--is past, and galloping neck
and neck with the Marquis.

Onward sweeps the race, over fallow and plough, over hedge and ditch
and fence, until, afar off, Barnabas sees again the gleam of
water--a jump full thirty feet across. Now, as he rides with
"The Terror" well in hand, Barnahas is aware of a gray head with
flaring nostrils, of a neck outstretched, of a powerful shoulder, a
heaving flank, and Carnaby goes by. "The Terror" sees this too and,
snorting, bores savagely upon the bit--but in front of him gallops
Tressider's chestnut, and beside him races the Captain's sorrel. So,
foot by foot, and yard by yard, the gray wins by. Over a
hedge--across a ditch, they race together till, as they approach the
water-jump, behold! once more "The Terror" gallops half a length
behind Sir Mortimer's gray.

The Marquis and the Viscount, racing knee and knee, have increased
their twelve yards by half, and now, as Barnabas watches, down go
their heads, in go their spurs, and away go chestnut and bay, fast
and faster, take off almost together, land fairly, and are steadied
down again to a rolling gallop.

And now, away races Carnaby, with Barnabas hard upon his left, the
pace quickens to a stretching gallop,--the earth flies beneath them.
Barnabas marks his take-off and rides for it--touches "The Terror"
with his spur and--in that moment, Carnaby's gray swerves. Barnabas
sees the danger and, clenching his teeth, swings "The Terror" aside,
just in time; who, thus balked, yet makes a brave attempt,--leaps,
is short, and goes down with a floundering splash, flinging Barnabas
clear.

Half-stunned, half-blinded, plastered with mud and ooze, Barnabas
staggers up to his feet, is aware in a dazed manner that horses are
galloping down upon him, thundering past and well-nigh over him; is
conscious also that "The Terror" is scrambling up and, even as he
gets upon his legs, has caught the reins, vaulted into the saddle,
and strikes in his spurs,--whereat "The Terror" snorts, rears and
sets off after the others. And a mighty joy fills his heart, for now
the hand upon his bridle restrains him no longer--nay, rather urges
him forward; and far in the distance gallop others of his kind,
others whom he scorns, one and all--notably a certain gray. Therefore
as he spurns the earth beneath him faster and faster, the heart of
"The Terror" is uplifted and full of rejoicing.

But,--bruised, bleeding and torn, all mud from heel to head, and
with a numbness in his brain Barnabas rides, stooped low in the
saddle, for he is sick and very faint. His hat is gone, and the cool
wind in his hair revives him somewhat, but the numbness remains. Yet
it is as one in a dream that he finds his stirrups, and is vaguely
conscious of voices about him--a thudding of hoofs and the creak of
leather. As one in a dream he lifts "The Terror" to a fence that
vanishes and gives place to a hedge which in turn is gone, or is
magically transfigured into an ugly wall. And, still as one in a
dream, he is thereafter aware of cries and shouting, and knows that
horses are galloping beside him--riderless. But on and ever on races
the great, black horse--head stretched out, ears laid back, iron
hoofs pounding--on and on, over hedge and ditch and wall--over fence
and brook--past blown and weary stragglers--his long stride unfaltering
over ploughland and fallowland, tireless, indomitable--on and ever on
until Barnabas can distinguish, at last, the horsemen in front.

Therefore, still as one in a dream, he begins to count them to
himself, over and over again. Yet, count how he will, can make them
no more than seven all told, and he wonders dully where the rest may
be.

Well in advance of the survivors the Viscount is going strong, with
Slingsby and the Marquis knee and knee behind; next rides Carnaby
with two others, while Tressider, the thinnish, youngish gentleman,
brings up the rear. Inch by inch Barnabas gains upon him, draws level
and is past, and so "The Terror" once more sees before him Sir
Mortimer's galloping gray.

But now--something is wrong in front,--there is a warning yell from
the Marquis--up flashes the Captain's long arm, for "Moonraker" has
swerved suddenly, unaccountably,--loses his stride, and falls back
until he is neck and neck with "The Terror." Thus, still as one in a
dream, Barnabas is aware, little by little, that the Viscount's hat
and whip are gone, and that he is swaying oddly in the saddle with
"Moonraker's" every stride--catches a momentary glimpse of a pale,
agonized face, and hears the Viscount speaking:

"No go, Bev!" he pants. "Oh, Bev, I'm done! 'Moonraker's' game,
but--I'm--done, Bev--arm, y'know--devilish shame, y'know--"

And Barnabas sees that the Viscount's sleeve is all blood from the
elbow down. And in that moment Barnabas casts off the numbness, and
his brain clears again.

"Hold on, Dick!" he cries.

"Can't Bev,--I--I'm done. Tried my best--but--I--" Barnabas reaches
out suddenly--but is too far off--the Viscount lurches forward,
loses his stirrups, sways--and "Moonraker" gallops--riderless. But
help is at hand, for Barnabas sees divers rustic onlookers who run
forward to lift the Viscount's inanimate form. Therefore he turns
him back to the race, and bends all his energies upon this, the last
and grimmest part of the struggle; as for "The Terror," he vents a
snort of joyful defiance, for now he is galloping again in full view
of Sir Mortimer Carnaby's foam-flecked gray.

And now--it's hey! for the rush and tear of wind through the hair!
for the muffled thunder of galloping hoofs! for the long, racing
stride, the creak of leather! Hey! for the sob and pant and strain
of the conflict!

Inch by inch the great, black horse creeps up, but Carnaby sees him
coming, and the gray leaps forward under his goading heels,--is up
level with Slingsby and the Marquis,--but with "The Terror" always
close behind.

Over a hedge,--across a ditch,--and down a slope they race together,
--knees in, heads low,--to where, at the bottom, is a wall. An
ancient, mossy wall it is, yet hideous for all that, an almost
impossible jump, except in one place, a gap so narrow that but one
may take it at a time. And who shall be first? The Marquis is losing
ground rapidly--a foot--a yard--six! and losing still, races now a
yard behind Barnabas. Thus, two by two, they thunder down upon the
gap that is but wide enough for one. Slingsby is plying his whip,
Carnaby is rowelling savagely, yet, neck and neck, the sorrel and
the gray race for the jump, with Barnabas and the Marquis behind.

"Give way, Slingsby!" shouts Sir Mortimer.

"Be damned if I do!" roars the Captain, and in go his spurs.

"Pull over, Slingsby!" shouts Sir Mortimer.

"No, b'gad! Pull over yourself," roars the Captain. "Give way,
Carnaby--I have you by a head!"

An exultant yell from Slingsby,--a savage shout from Sir Mortimer--a
sudden, crunching thud, and the gallant sorrel is lying a twisted,
kicking heap, with Captain Slingsby pinned beneath.

"What, Beverley!" he cries, coming weakly to his elbow, "well ridden,
b'gad! After him! The 'Rascal' 's done for, poor devil! So am I,
--it's you or Carnaby now--ride, Beverley, ride!" And so, as Barnabas
flashes past and over him, Captain Slingsby of the Guards sinks back,
and lies very white and still.

A stake-fence, a hedge, a ditch, and beyond that a clear stretch to
the winning-post.

At the fence, Carnaby sees "The Terror's" black head some six yards
behind; at the hedge, Barnabas has lessened the six to three; and at
the ditch once again the great, black horse gallops half a length
behind the powerful gray. And now, louder and louder, shouts come
down the wind!

"The gray! It's Carnaby's gray! Carnaby's 'Clasher' wins! 'Clasher'!
'Clasher'!"

But, slowly and by degrees, the cries sink to a murmur, to a buzzing
drone. For, what great, black horse is this which, despite Carnaby's
flailing whip and cruel, rowelling spur, is slowly, surely creeping
up with the laboring gray? Who is this, a wild, bare-headed figure,
grim and bloody, stained with mud, rent and torn, upon whose miry
coat yet hangs a crushed and fading rose?

Down the stretch they race, the black and the gray, panting, sobbing,
spattered with foam, nearer and nearer, while the crowd rocks and
sways about the great pavilion, and buzzes with surprise and
uncertainty.

Then all at once, above this sound, a single voice is heard, a
mighty voice, a roaring bellow, such, surely, as only a mariner
could possess.

"It's Mr. Beverley, sir!" roars the voice. "Beverley!
Beverley--hurrah!"

Little by little the crowd takes up the cry until the air rings with
it, for now the great, black horse gallops half a length ahead of
the sobbing gray, and increases his lead with every stride, by
inches--by feet! On and on until his bridle is caught and held, and
he is brought to a stand. Then, looking round, Barnabas sees the
Marquis rein up beside him, breathless he is still, and splashed
with mud and foam, but smiling and debonair as he reaches out his
hand.

"Congratulations, Beverley!" he pants. "Grand race!--I caught
Carnaby--at the post. Now, if it hadn't been for--my cravat--" But
here the numbness comes upon Barnabas again, and, as one in a dream,
he is aware that his horse is being led through the crowd--that he
is bowing to some one in the gaudy pavilion, a handsome, tall, and
chubby gentleman remarkable for waistcoat and whiskers.

"Well ridden, sir!" says the gentleman. "Couldn't have done it
better myself, no, by Gad I couldn't--could I, Sherry?"

"No, George, by George you couldn't!" answered a voice.

"Must take a run down to Brighton, Mr.--Mr.--ah, yes--Beverley.
Show you some sport at Brighton, sir. A magnificent race,
--congratulate you, sir. Must see more of you!"

Then, still as one in a dream, Barnabas bows again, sees Martin at
"The Terror's" bridle, and is led back, through a pushing, jostling
throng all eager to behold the winner, and thus, presently finds
himself once more in the quiet of the paddock behind the "White Hart"
inn.

Stiffly and painfully he descends from the saddle, hears a feeble
voice call his name and turning, beholds a hurdle set in the shade
of a tree, and upon the hurdle the long, limp form of Captain
Slingsby, with three or four strangers kneeling beside him.

"Ah, Beverley!" said he faintly. "Glad you beat Carnaby, he--crowded
me a bit--at the wall, y' know. Poor old 'Rascal' 's gone,
b'gad--and I'm going, but prefer to--go--out of doors,--seems more
room for it somehow--give me the sky to look at. Told you it would
be a grand race, and--b'gad, so it was! Best I--ever rode--or ever
shall. Eh--what, Beverley? No, no--mustn't take it--so hard, dear
fellow. B'gad it--might be worse, y' know. I--might have lost,
and--lived--been deeper in Gaunt's clutches than ever,--then. As it
is, I'm going beyond--beyond his reach--for good and all. Which is
the purest--bit of luck I ever had. Lift me up a little--will you,
Beverley? Deuced fine day, b'gad! And how green the grass is--never
saw it so green before--probably because--never troubled to look
though, was always so--deuced busy, b'gad!--The poor old 'Rascal'
broke his back, Beverley--so did I. They--shot 'The Rascal,' but--"

Here the Captain sighed, and closed his eyes wearily, but after a
moment opened them again.

"A fine race, gentlemen!" said he, addressing the silent group,
"a fine race well ridden--and won by--my friend, Beverley. I'll
warrant him a--true-blue, gentlemen. Beverley, I--I congratulate--"

Once more he closed his eyes, sighed deeply and, with the sigh,
Captain Slingsby of the Guards had paid his debts--for good and all.



CHAPTER LIV


WHICH CONCERNS ITSELF CHIEFLY WITH A LETTER

And now, the "Galloping Countryman" found himself famous, and, being
so, made the further, sudden discovery that all men were his
"warmest friends," nay, even among the gentler sex this obtained,
for the most dragon-like dowagers, the haughtiest matrons, became
infinitely gracious; noble fathers were familiarly jocose; the
proudest beauties wore, for him, their most bewitching airs, since
as well as being famous, he was known to be one of the wealthiest
young men about town; moreover His Royal Highness had deigned to
notice him, and Her Grace of Camberhurst was his professed friend.
Hence, all this being taken into consideration, it is not surprising
that invitations poured in upon him, and that the doors of the most
exclusive clubs flew open at his step.

Number Five St. James's Square suddenly became a rendezvous of Sport
and Fashion, before its portal were to be seen dashing turn-outs of
all descriptions, from phaetons to coaches; liveried menials,
bearing cards, embossed, gild-edged, and otherwise, descended upon St.
James's Square in multi-colored shoals; in a word, the Polite World
forthwith took Barnabas to its bosom, which, though perhaps a
somewhat cold and flinty bosom, made up for such minor deficiencies
by the ardor of its embrace. By reason of these things, the legs of
the Gentleman-in-Powder were exalted,--that is to say, were in a
perpetual quiver of superior gratification, and Barnabas himself
enjoyed it all vastly--for a week.

At the end of which period behold him at twelve o'clock in the
morning, as he sits over his breakfast (with the legs of the
Gentleman-in-Powder planted, statuesque, behind his chair), frowning
at a stupendous and tumbled pile of Fashionable note-paper, and
Polite cards.

"Are these all?" he inquired, waving his hand towards the letters.

"Them, sir, is--hall!" answered the Gentleman-in-Powder.

"Then ask Mr. Peterby to come to me," said Barnabas, his frown
growing blacker.

"Cer-tainly, sir!" Here the Gentleman-in-Powder posed his legs, bowed,
and took them out of the room. Then Barnabas drew a letter from his
pocket and began to read as follows:

  The Gables,
  Hawkhurst.

  MY DEAR BARNABAS,--As Cleone's letter looks very
  long (she sits opposite me at this precise moment writing
  to you, and blushing very prettily over something her
  pen has just scribbled--I can't quite see what, the table
  is too wide), mine shall be short, that is, as short as
  possible. Of course we are all disappointed not to have seen
  you here since the race--that terrible race (poor, dear
  Captain Slingsby,--how dreadful it was!) but of course,
  it is quite right you should stay near the Viscount during
  his illness. I rejoice to hear he is so much better. I am
  having my town house, the one in Berkeley Square, put in
  order, for Cleone has had quite enough of the country,
  I think, so have I. Though indeed she seems perfectly
  content (I mean Cleone) and is very fond of listening to the
  brook. O Youth! O Romance! Well, I used to listen
  to brooks once upon a time--before I took to a wig.
  As for yourself now, Barnabas, the Marquis writes to
  tell me that your cravats are 'all the thing,' and your
  waistcoats 'all the go,' and that your new coat with the
  opened cuff finds very many admirers. This is very well,
  but since Society has taken you up and made a lion of you,
  it will necessarily expect you to roar occasionally, just
  to maintain your position. And there are many ways of
  roaring, Barnabas. Brummell (whom I ever despised)
  roared like an insolent cat--he was always very precise
  and cat-like, and dreadfully insolent, but insolence palls,
  after a while--even in Society. Indeed I might give you
  many hints on Roaring, Barnabas, but--considering the
  length of Cleone's letter, I will spare you more, nor even
  give you any advice though I yearn to--only this: Be
  yourself, Barnabas, in Society or out, so shall I always
  subscribe myself:

    Your affectionate friend,

    FANNY CAMBERHURST.

  3 P.M.--I have opened this letter to tell you that
  Mr. Chichester and Ronald called here and stayed an hour.
  Ronald was full of his woes, as usual, so I left him to
  Cleone, and kept Mr. Chichester dancing attendance on
  me. And, oh dear me! to see the white rage of the
  man! It was deliciously thrilling, and I shivered most
  delightfully.

"You sent for me, sir?" said Peterby, as Barnabas re-folded the
letter.

"Yes, John. Are you sure there is no other letter this morning
from--from Hawkhurst?"

"Quite, sir."

"Yet the Duchess tells me that the Lady Cleone wrote me also. This
letter came by the post this morning?"

"Yes, sir."

"And no other? It's very strange!"

But here, the Gentleman-in-Powder re-appeared to say that the
Marquis of Jerningham desired to see Mr. Beverley on a matter of
importance, and that nobleman presenting himself, Peterby withdrew.

"Excuse this intrusion, my dear Beverley," said the Marquis as the
door closed, "doocid early I know, but the--ah--the matter is
pressing. First, though, how's Devenham, you saw him last night as
usual, I suppose?"

"Yes," answered Barnabas, shaking hands, "he ought to be up and
about again in a day or two."

"Excellent," nodded the Marquis, "I'll run over to Half-moon Street
this afternoon. Is Bamborough with him still?"

"No, his Lordship left yesterday."

"Ha!" said the Marquis, and taking out his snuff-box, he looked at it,
tapped it, and put it away again. "Poor old Sling," said he gently,
"I miss him damnably, y'know, Beverley."

"Marquis," said Barnabas, "what is it?"

"Well, I want you to do me a favor, my dear fellow, and I don't know
how to ask you--doocid big favor--ah--I was wondering if you would
consent to--act for me?"

"Act for you?" repeated Barnabas, wholly at a loss.

"Yes, in my little affair with Carnaby--poor old Sling, d' you see.
What, don't you twig, Beverley, haven't you heard?"

"No!" answered Barnabas, "you don't mean that you and Carnaby are
going--to fight?"

"Exactly, my dear fellow, of course! He fouled poor old Sling at the
wall, y'know--you saw it, I saw it, so naturally I mean to call him
to account for it. And he can't refuse--I spoke doocid plainly, and
White's was full. He has the choice of weapons,--pistols I expect.
Personally, I should like it over as soon as possible, and anywhere
would do, though Eltham for preference, Beverley. So if you will
oblige me--"

But here, once again the Gentleman-in-Powder knocked to announce:
"Mr. Tressider."

The thinnish, youngish gentleman in sandy whiskers entered with a
rush, but, seeing the Marquis, paused.

"What, then--you 're before me, are you, Jerningham?" he exclaimed;
then turning, he saluted Barnabas, and burst into a torrent of speech.
"Beverley!" he cried, "cursed early to call, but I'm full o'
news--bursting with it, damme if I'm not--and tell it I must! First,
then, by Gad!--it was at White's you'll understand, and the
card-room was full--crammed, sir, curse me if it wasn't, and there's
Carnaby and Tufton Green, and myself and three or four others,
playing hazard, d'ye see,--when up strolls Jerningham here. 'It's
your play, Carnaby,' says I. 'Why then,' says the Marquis,--'why then,'
says he, 'look out for fouling!' says he, cool as a cucumber, curse
me! 'Eh--what?' cries Tufton, 'why--what d' ye mean?' 'Mean?' says
the Marquis, tapping his snuff-box, 'I mean that Sir Mortimer Carnaby
is a most accursed rascal' (your very words, Marquis, damme if they
weren't). Highly dramatic, Beverley--could have heard a pin
drop--curse me if you couldn't! End of it was they arranged a
meeting of course, and I was Carnaby's second, but--"

"Was?" repeated the Marquis.

"Yes, was,--for begad! when I called on my man this morning he'd
bolted, damme if he hadn't!"

"Gone?" exclaimed the Marquis in blank amazement.

"Clean gone! Bag and baggage! I tell you he's bolted, but--with all
due respect to you, Marquis, only from his creditors. He was
devilish deep in with Gaunt, I know, beside Beverley here. Oh damme
yes, he only did it to bilk his creditors, for Carnaby was always
game, curse me if he wasn't!"

Hereupon the Marquis had recourse to his snuff-box again.

"Under the circumstances," said he, sighing and shaking his head,
"I think I'll go and talk with our invalid--"

"No good, my boy, if you mean Devenham," said Tressider, shaking his
head, "just been there,--Viscount's disappeared too--been away all
night!"

"What?" cried Barnabas, springing to his feet, "gone?"

"Damme if he hasn't! Found his fellow in the devil of a way about it,
and his little rascal of a groom blubbering on the stairs."

"Then I must dress! You'll excuse me, I know!" said Barnabas, and
rang for Peterby. But his hand was even yet upon the bellrope when
stumbling feet were heard outside, the door was flung wide, and the
Viscount himself stood upon the threshold.

Pale and haggard of eye, dusty and unkempt, he leaned there, then
staggering to a chair he sank down and so lay staring at the floor.

"Oh, Bev!" he groaned, "she's gone--Clemency's gone, I--I can't find
her, Bev!"

Now hereupon the Marquis very quietly took up his hat and, nodding
to Barnabas, linked his arm in Tressider's and went softly from the
room, closing the door behind him.

"Dick!" cried Barnabas, bending over him, "my dear fellow!"

"Ever since you spoke, I--I've wanted her, Bev. All through my
illness I've hungered for her--the sound of her voice,--the touch of
her hand. As soon as I was strong enough--last night, I think it
was--I went to find her, to--to kneel at her feet, Bev. I drove down
to Frittenden and oh, Bev--she was gone! So I started back--looking
for her all night. My arm bothered me--a bit, you know, and I didn't
think I could do it. But I kept fancying I saw her before me in the
dark. Sometimes I called to her--but she--never answered, she's--gone,
Bev, and I--"

"Oh, Dick--she left there weeks ago--"

"What--you knew?"

"Yes, Dick."

"Then oh, Bev,--tell me where!"

"Dick, I--can't!"

"Why--why?"

"I promised her to keep it secret."

"Then--you won't tell me?"

"I can't."

"Won't! won't! Ah, but you shall, yes, by God!"

"Dick, I--"

"By God, but you shall, I say you shall--you must--where is she?"
The Viscount's pale cheek grew suddenly suffused, his eyes glared
fiercely, and his set teeth gleamed between his pallid lips.
"Tell me!" he demanded.

"No," said Barnabas, and shook his head.

Then, in that moment the Viscount sprang up and, pinning him with
his left hand, swung Barnabas savagely to the wall.

"She's mine!" he panted, "mine, I tell you--no one shall take her
from me, neither you nor the devil himself. She's mine--mine. Tell
me where she is,--speak before I choke you--speak!"

But Barnabas stood rigid and utterly still. Thus, in a while, the
griping fingers fell away, the Viscount stepped back, and groaning,
bowed his head.

"Oh, Bev," said he, "forgive me, I--I'm mad I think. I want her so
and I can't find her. And I had a spill last night--dark road you see,
and only one hand,--and I'm not quite myself in consequence. I'll
go--"

But, as he turned toward the door, Barnabas interposed.

"Dick, I can't let you go like this--what do you intend to do?"

"Will you tell me where she is?"

"No, but--"

"Then, sir, my further movements need not concern you."

"Dick, be reasonable,--listen--"

"Have the goodness to let me pass, sir."

"You are faint, worn out--stay here, Dick, and I--"

"Thanks, Beverley, but I accept favors from my friends only--pray
stand aside."

"Dick, if you'll only wait, I'll go to her now--this moment--I'll
beg her to see you--"

"Very kind, sir!" sneered the Viscount, "you are--privileged it seems.
But, by God, I don't need you, or any one else, to act as go-between
or plead my cause. And mark me, sir! I'll find her yet. I swear to
you I'll never rest until I find her again. And now, sir, once and
for all, I have the honor to wish you a very good day!" saying which
the Viscount bowed, and, having re-settled his arm in its sling,
walked away down the corridor, very upright as to back, yet a little
uncertain in his stride nevertheless, and so was gone.

Then Barnabas, becoming aware of the polite letters, and cards,
embossed, gilt-edged and otherwise, swept them incontinent to the
floor and, sinking into a chair, set his elbows upon the table, and
leaning his head upon his hands fell into a gloomy meditation. It
was thus that the Gentleman-in-Powder presently found him, and,
advancing into the room with insinuating legs, coughed gently to
attract his attention, the which proving ineffectual, he spoke:

"Ex-cuse me, sir, but there is a--person downstairs, sir--at the door,
sir!"

"What kind of person?" inquired Barnabas without looking up.

"A most ex-tremely low person, sir--very common indeed, sir. Won't
give no name, sir, won't go away, sir. A very 'orrid person--in
gaiters, sir."

"What does he want?" said Barnabas, with head still bent.

"Says as 'ow 'e 'as a letter for you, sir, but--"

Barnabas was on his feet so quickly that the Gentleman-in-Powder
recoiled in alarm.

"Show him up--at once!"

"Oh!--cer-tainly, sir!" And though the bow of the
Gentleman-in-Powder was all that it should be, his legs quivered
disapprobation as they took him downstairs.

When next the door opened it was to admit the person in gaiters, a
shortish, broad-shouldered, bullet-headed person he was, and his
leggings were still rank of the stables; he was indeed a very horsey
person who stared and chewed upon a straw. At sight of Barnabas he
set a stubby finger to one eyebrow, and chewed faster than ever.

"You have a letter for me, I think?"

"Yessir!"

"Then give it to me."

The horsey person coughed, took out his straw, looked at it, shook
his head at it, and put it back again.

"Name o' Beverley, sir?" he inquired, chewing feverishly.

"Yes."

Hereupon the horsey person drew a letter from his pocket, chewed
over it a moment, nodded, and finally handed it to Barnabas, who,
seeing the superscription, hurriedly broke the seal. Observing which,
the horsey person sighed plaintively and shook his head, alternately
chewing upon and looking at his straw the while Barnabas read the
following:

  Oh, Barnabas dear, when shall I see you again? I
  am very foolish to-day perhaps, but though the sun shines
  gloriously, I am cold, it is my heart that is cold, a
  deadly chill--as if an icy hand had touched it. And I
  seem to be waiting--waiting for something to happen,
  something dreadful that I cannot avert. I fear you will
  think me weak and fanciful, but, dear, I cannot help wondering
  what it all means. You ask me if I love you.
  Can you doubt? How often in my dreams have I seen
  you kneeling beside me with your neck all bare and the
  dripping kerchief in your hand. Oh, dear Wood of Annersley!
  it was there that I first felt your arms about me,
  Barnabas, and I dream of that too--sometimes. But
  last night I dreamed of that awful race,--I saw you
  gallop past the winning post again, your dear face all cut
  and bleeding, and as you passed me your eyes looked into
  mine--such an awful look, Barnabas. And then it
  seemed that you galloped into a great, black shadow
  that swallowed you up, and so you were lost to me, and
  I awoke trembling. Oh Barnabas, come to me! I want
  you here beside me, for although the sky here is blue and
  cloudless, away to the north where London lies, there is a
  great, black shadow like the shadow of my dream, and
  God keep all shadows from you, Barnabas. So come to
  me--meet me to-morrow--there is a new moon. Come
  to Oakshott's Barn at 7:30, and we will walk back to
  the house together.

  I am longing to see you, and yet I am a little afraid
  also, because my love is not a quiet love or gentle, but
  such a love as frightens me sometimes, because it has
  grown so deep and strong.

  This window, you may remember, faces north, and
  now as I lift my eyes I can see that the shadow is still dark
  over London, and very threatening. Come to me soon,
  and that God may keep all shadows from you is the
  prayer of

  Your
  CLEONE.


Now when he had finished reading, Barnabas sighed, and glancing up,
found the horsey person still busy with his straw, but now he took
it from his mouth, shook his head at it more sternly than ever,
dropped it upon the carpet and set his foot upon it; which done, he
turned and looked at Barnabas with a pair of very round, bright eyes.

"Now," said he, "I should like to take the liberty o' axing you one
or two questions, Mr. Barty, sir,--or as I should say, p'r'aps,
Mr. Beverley."

"What," exclaimed Barnabas, starting up, "it's you again, Mr. Shrig?"

"That werry same i-dentical, sir. Disguises again, ye see. Yesterday,
a journeyman peg-maker vith a fine lot o' pegs as I didn't vant to
sell--to-day a groom looking for a job as I don't need. Been
a-keeping my ogles on Number Vun and Number Two, and things is
beginning to look werry rosy, sir, yes, things is werry promising
indeed."

"How do you mean?"

"Vell, to begin vith," said Mr. Shrig, taking the chair Barnabas
proffered, "you didn't 'appen to notice as that theer letter had
been broke open and sealed up again, did ye?"

"No," said Barnabas, staring at what was left of the seal.

"No, o' course you didn't--you opened it too quick to notice
anything--but I did."

"Oh, surely not--"

"That theer letter," said Mr. Shrig impressively, "vas wrote you by
a certain lady, vasn't it?"

"Yes."

"And I brought you that theer letter, didn't I?"

"Yes, but--"

"And 'oo do ye suppose give me that theer letter, to bring to
you,--the lady? Oh no! I'll tell you 'oo give it me,--it vas--shall ve
say, Number Two, the Accessory afore the fact,--shall ve call 'im C.?
Werry good! Now, 'ow did C. or Number Two, 'appen to give me that
theer letter? I'll tell you. Ven Number Vun and Number Two, B. and C.,
vent down to Hawkhurst, I vent down to Hawkhurst. They put up at the
'Qveen's 'ead,' so I 'angs about the 'Qveen's 'ead,'--offers myself
as groom--I'm 'andy vith an 'orse--got in the 'abit o' doing odd
jobs for Number Vun and Number Two, and, last night, Number Two
gives me that theer letter to deliver, and werry pertickler 'e vas
as I should give it into your werry own daddle, 'e also gives me a
guinea and tells as 'ow 'e don't vant me no more, and them's the
circumstances, sir."

"But," said Barnabas in frowning perplexity, "I don't understand.
How did he get hold of the letter?"

"Lord, sir, 'ow do I know that? But get it 'e did--'e likewise broke
the seal."

"But--why?"

"Vell now, first, it's a love-letter, ain't it?"

"Why--I--"

"Werry good! Now, sir, might that theer letter be making a
app'intment--come?"

"Yes, an appointment for to-morrow evening."

"Ah! In a nice, qviet, lonely place--say a vood?"

"Yes, at a very lonely place called Oakshott's Barn."

"Come, that's better and better!" nodded Mr. Shrig brightly,
"that's werry pretty, that is--things is rosier than I 'oped, but
then, as I said afore, things is allus blackest afore the dawn.
Oakshott's Barn, eh? Ecod, now, but it sounds a nice, lonesome
place--just the sort o' place for it, a--a--capital place as you
might call it." And Mr. Shrig positively chuckled and rubbed his
chubby hands together; but all at once, he shook his head gloomily,
and glancing at Barnabas, sighed deeply. "But you--von't go, o'
course, sir?"

"Go?"

"To Oakshott's Barn, to-morrow evening?"

"Yes, of course," answered Barnabas, "the appointment is for
seven-thirty."

"Seven-thirty!" nodded Mr. Shrig, "and a werry nice time for it too!
Sunset, it'll be about--a good light and not too long to vait till
dark! Yes, seven-thirty's a werry good time for it!"

"For what?"

"V'y," said Mr. Shrig, lowering his voice suddenly, "let's say for
'it'!"

"'It,'" repeated Barnabas, staring.

"Might I jest take a peep at that theer letter, v'ere it says
seven-thirty, sir?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, pointing to a certain line of Cleone's letter,
"here it is!"

"Ah," exclaimed Mr. Shrig, nodding and rubbing his hands again,
"your eyes is good 'uns, ain't they, sir?"

"Yes."

"Then jest take a good look at that theer seven-thirty, vill you,
sir--come, vot do you see?"

"That the paper is roughened a little, and the ink has run."

"Yes, and vot else? Look at it a bit closer, sir."

"Why," said Barnabas staring hard at the spot, "it looks as though
something had been scratched out!"

"And so it has, sir. If you go there at seven-thirty, it von't be a
fair lady as'll be vaiting to meet you. The time's been altered o'
course--jest as I 'oped and expected."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, slowly and very softly, and clenched his fist.

"So now, d'ye see, you can't go--can ye?" said Mr. Shrig in a
hopeless tone.

"Yes!" said Barnabas.

"Eh?  Vot--you vill?"

"Most assuredly!"

"But--but it'll be madness!" stammered Mr. Shrig, his round eyes
rounder than ever, "it'll be fair asking to be made a unfort'nate
wictim of, if ye go. O' course it 'ud be a good case for me, and
good cases is few enough--but you mustn't go now, it 'ud be madness!"

"No," said Barnabas, frowning darkly, "because I shall go--before
seven-thirty, you see."



CHAPTER LV


WHICH NARRATES SUNDRY HAPPENINGS AT OAKSHOTT'S BARN

Even on a summer's afternoon Oakshott's Barn is a desolate place, a
place of shadows and solitude, whose slumberous silence is broken
only by the rustle of leaves, the trill of a skylark high overhead,
or the pipe of throstle and blackbird.

It is a place apart, shut out from the world of life and motion, a
place suggestive of decay and degeneration, and therefore a
depressing place at all times.

Yet, standing here, Barnabas smiled and uncovered his head, for here,
once, SHE had stood, she who was for him the only woman in all the
world. So having paused awhile to look about him, he presently went
on into the gloom of the barn, a gloom damp and musty with years and
decay.

Now glancing sharply this way and that, Barnabas espied a ladder or
rather the mouldering remains of one, that led up from the darkest
corner to a loft; up this ladder, with all due care, he mounted, and
thus found himself in what had once served as a hay-loft, for in one
corner there yet remained a rotting pile. It was much lighter up here,
for in many places the thatch was quite gone, while at one end of
the loft was a square opening or window. He was in the act of
looking from this window when, all at once he started and crouched
down, for, upon the stillness broke a sudden sound,--the rustling of
leaves, and a voice speaking in loud, querulous tones. And in a
while as he watched, screening himself from all chance of observation,
Barnabas saw two figures emerge into the clearing and advance
towards the barn.

"I tell you C-Chichester, it will be either him or m-me!"

"If he--condescends to fight you, my dear Ronald."

"C-condescend?" cried Barrymaine, and it needed but a glance at his
flushed cheek and swaying figure to see that he had been drinking
more heavily than usual. "C-condescend, damn his insolence!
Condescend, will he? I'll give him no chance for his c-cursed
condescension, I--I tell you, Chichester, I'll--"

"But you can't make a man fight, Ronald."

"Can't I? Why then if he won't fight I'll--"

"Hush! don't speak so loud!"

"Well, I will, Chichester,--s-so help me God, I will!"

"Will--what, Ronald?"

"W-wait and see!"

"You don't mean--murder, Ronald?"

"I didn't s-say so, d-did I?"

"Of course not, my dear Barrymaine, but--shall I take the pistols?"
And Mr. Chichester stretched out his hand towards a flat, oblong box
that Barrymaine carried clutched beneath his arm. "Better give them
to me, Ronald."

"No,--w-why should I?"

"Well,--in your present mood--"

"I--I'm not--d-drunk,--damme, I'm not, I tell you! And I'll give
the f-fellow every chance--honorable meeting."

"Then, if he refuses to fight you, as of course he will, you'll let
him go to--ah--make love to Cleone?"

"No, by God!" cried Barrymaine in a sudden, wild fury, "I-I'll
sh-shoot him first!"

"Kill him?"

"Yes, k-kill him!"

"Oh no you won't, Ronald, for two reasons. First of all, it would be
murder--!"

"Murder!" Barrymaine repeated, "so it would--murder! Yes, by God!"

"And secondly, you haven't the nerve. Though he has clandestine
meetings with your sister, though he crush you into the mud, trample
you under his feet, throw you into a debtor's prison to rot out your
days--though he ruin you body and soul, and compromise your sister's
honor--still you'd never--murder him, Ronald, you couldn't, you
haven't the heart, because it would be--murder!"

Mr. Chichester's voice was low, yet each incisive, quick-spoken word
reached Barnabas, while upon Barrymaine their effect was demoniac.
Dropping his pistol-case, he threw up wild arms and shook his
clenched fists in the air.

"Damn him!" he cried, "damn him! B-bury me in a debtor's prison,
will he? Foul my sister's honor w-will he? Never! never! I tell you
I'll kill him first!"

"Murder him, Ronald?"

"Murder? I t-tell you it's no murder to kill his sort. G-give me the
pistols."

"Hush! Come into the barn."

"No. W-what for?"

"Well, the time is getting on, Ronald,--nearly seven o'clock, and
your ardent lovers are usually before their time. Come into the barn."

"N-no,--devilish dark hole!"

"But--he'll see you here!"

"What if he does, can't g-get away from me,--better f-for it out
here--lighter."

"What do you mean? Better--for what?"

"The m-meeting."

"What--you mean to try and make him fight, do you?"

"Of course--try that way first. Give him a ch-chance, you know,
--c-can't shoot him down on s-sight."

"Ah-h!" said Mr. Chichester, very slowly, "you can't shoot him on
sight--of course you can't. I see."

"What? W-what d'ye see? Devilish dark hole in there!"

"All the better, Ronald,--think of his surprise when instead of
finding an armful of warm loveliness waiting for him in the shadows,
he finds the avenging brother! Come into the shadows, Ronald."

"All right,--yes, the shadow. Instead of the sister, the
b-brother--yes, by God!"

Now the flooring of the loft where Barnabas lay was full of wide
cracks and fissures, for the boards had warped by reason of many
years of rain and sun; thus, lying at full length, Barnabas saw
them below, Barrymaine leaning against the crumbling wall, while
Mr. Chichester stooped above the open duelling-case.

"What--they're loaded are they?" said he.

"Of c-course!"

"They're handsome tools, Ronald, and with your monogram, I see!"

"Yes. Is your f-flask empty, Chichester?"

"No, I think not," answered Mr. Chichester, still stooping above the
pistol in his hand.

"Then give it me, will you--m-my throat's on fire."

"Surely you 've had enough, Ronald? Did you know this flint was loose?"

"I'm n-not drunk, I t-tell you. I know when I've had enough,
g-give me some brandy, Chit, I know there's p-precious little left."

"Why then, fix this flint first, Ronald, I see you have all the
necessary tools here." So saying, Mr. Chichester rose and began
feeling through his pockets, while Barrymaine, grumbling, stooped
above the pistol-case. Then, even as he did so, Mr. Chichester drew
out a silver flask, unscrewed it, and thereafter made a certain quick,
stealthy gesture behind his companion's back, which done, he screwed
up the flask again, shook it, and, as Barrymaine rose, held it out
to him:

"Yes, I'm afraid there's very little left, Ronald," said he. With a
murmur of thanks Barrymaine took the flask and, setting it to his
lips, drained it at a gulp, and handed it back.

"Gad, Chichester!" he exclaimed, "it tastes damnably of the
f-flask--faugh! What time is it?"

"A quarter to seven!"

"Th-three quarters of an hour to wait!"

"It will soon pass, Ronald, besides, he's sure to be early."

"Hope so! But I--I think I'll s-sit down."

"Well, the floor's dry, though dirty."

"D-dirty? So it is, but beggars can't be c-choosers and--dev'lish
drowsy place, this!--I'm a b-beggar--you know t-that, and--pah! I
think I'm l-losing my--taste for brandy--"

"Really, Ronald? I've thought you seemed over fond of it--especially
lately."

"No--no!" answered Barrymaine, speaking in a thick, indistinct voice
and rocking unsteadily upon his heels, "I'm not--n-not drunk,
only--dev'lish sleepy!" and swaying to the wall he leaned there with
head drooping.

"Then you'd better--lie down, Ronald."

"Yes, I'll--lie down, dev'lish--drowsy p-place--lie down," mumbled
Barrymaine, suiting the action to the word; yet after lying down
full length, he must needs struggle up to his elbow again to blink
at Mr. Chichester, heavy eyed and with one hand to his wrinkling brow.
"Wha-what w-was it we--came for? Oh y-yes--I know--Bev'ley, of course!
You'll w-wake me--when he c-comes?"

"I'll wake you, Ronald."

"S-such a c-cursed--drowsy--" Barrymaine sank down upon his side,
rolled over upon his back, threw wide his arms, and so lay,
breathing stertorously.

Then Mr. Chichester smiled, and coming beside him, looked down upon
his helpless form and flushed face and, smiling still, spoke in his
soft, gentle voice:

"Are you asleep, Ronald?" he inquired, and stirred Barrymaine
lightly with his foot, but, feeling him so helpless, the stirring
foot grew slowly more vicious. "Oh Ronald," he murmured, "what a
fool you are! what a drunken, sottish fool you are. So you'd give
him a chance, would you? Ah, but you mustn't, Ronald, you shan't,
for your sake and my sake. My hand is steadier than yours, so sleep,
my dear Ronald, and wake to find that you have rid us of our good,
young Samaritan--once and for all, and then--hey for Cleone, and no
more dread of the Future. Sleep on, you swinish sot!"

Mr. Chichester's voice was as soft as ever, but, as he turned away,
the sleeping youth started and groaned beneath the sudden movement
of that vicious foot.

And now Mr. Chichester stooped, and taking the pistols, one by one,
examined flint and priming with attentive eye, which done, he
crossed to a darkened window and, bursting open the rotting shutter,
knelt and levelled one of the weapons, steadying his wrist upon the
sill; then, nodding as though satisfied, he laid the pistols upon
the floor within easy reach, and drew out his watch.

Slowly the sun declined, and slowly the shadows lengthened about
Oakshott's Barn, as they had done many and many a time before; a
rabbit darted across the clearing, a blackbird called to his mate in
the thicket, but save for this, nothing stirred; a great quiet was
upon the place, a stillness so profound that Barnabas could
distinctly hear the scutter of a rat in the shadows behind him, and
the slow, heavy breathing of the sleeper down below. And ever that
crouching figure knelt beside the broken shutter, very silent, very
still, and very patient.

But all at once, as he watched, Barnabas saw the rigid figure grow
suddenly alert, saw the right arm raised slowly, stealthily, saw the
pistol gleam as it was levelled across the sill; for now, upon the
quiet rose a sound faint and far, yet that grew and ever grew, the
on-coming rustle of leaves.

Then, even as Barnabas stared down wide-eyed, the rigid figure
started, the deadly pistol-hand wavered, was snatched back, and
Mr. Chichester leapt to his feet. He stood a moment hesitating as
one at a sudden loss, then crossing to the unconscious form of
Barrymaine, he set the pistol under his lax hand, turned, and
vanished into the shadow.

Thereafter, from the rear of the barn, came the sound of a blow and
the creak of a rusty hinge, quickly followed by a rustle of leaves
that grew fainter and fainter, and so was presently gone. Then
Barnabas rose, and coming to the window, peered cautiously out, and
there, standing before the barn surveying its dilapidation with round,
approving eyes, his nobbly stick beneath his arm, his high-crowned,
broad-brimmed hat upon his head, was Mr. Shrig.



CHAPTER LVI


OF THE GATHERING OF THE SHADOWS

Surprise and something very like disappointment were in Mr. Shrig's
look as Barnabas stepped out from the yawning doorway of the barn.

"V'y, sir," said he, consulting a large-faced watch. "V'y, Mr. Beverley,
it's eggs-actly tventy minutes arter the time for it!"

"Yes," said Barnabas.

"And you--ain't shot, then?"

"No, thank heaven."

"Nor even--vinged?"

"Nor even winged, Mr. Shrig."

"Fate," said Mr. Shrig, shaking a dejected head at him, "Fate is a
werry wexed problem, sir! 'Ere's you now, Number Three, as I might
say, the unfort'nate wictim as was to be--'ere you are a-valking up
to Fate axing to be made a corp', and vot do you get? not so much as
a scrat--not a westige of a scrat, v'ile another unfort'nate wictim
vill run avay from Fate, run? ah! 'eaven's 'ard! and werry nat'ral
too! and vot does 'e get? 'e gets made a corp' afore 'e knows it. No,
sir, Fate's a werry wexed problem, sir, and I don't understand it,
no, nor ever shall."

"But this was very simple," said Barnabas, slipping his hand in
Mr. Shrig's arm, and leading him away from the barn, "very simple
indeed, I got here before they came, and hid in the loft. Then,
while they were waiting for me down below, you came and frightened
them away."

"Ah! So they meant business, did they?"

"Yes," said Barnabas, nodding grimly, "they certainly meant business,
--especially Mr. Chich--"

"Ssh!" said Mr. Shrig, glancing round, "call 'im Number Two. Sir,
Number Two is a extra-special, super-fine, over-weight specimen, 'e
is. I've knowed a many 'Capitals' in my time, but I never knowed
such a Capital o' Capital Coves as 'im. Sir, Vistling Dick vas a
innercent, smiling babe, and young B. is a snowy, pet lamb alongside
o' Number Two. Capital Coves like 'im only 'appen, and they only
'appen every thousand year or so. Ecod! I 'm proud o' Number Two.
And talking of 'im, I 'appened to call on Nick the Cobbler, last
night."

"Oh?"

"Ah! and I found 'im vith 'is longest awl close 'andy--all on
account o' Number Two."

"How on his account?" demanded Barnabas, frowning suddenly.

"Vell, last evening, Milo o' Crotona, a pal o' Nick's, and a werry
promising bye 'e is too, 'appened to drop in sociable-like, and it
seems as Number Two followed 'im. And werry much Number Two
frightened that 'andsome gal, by all accounts. She wrote you a letter,
vich she give me to deliver, and--'ere it is."

So Barnabas took the letter and broke the seal. It was a very short
letter, but as he read Barnabas frowned blacker than ever.

"Mr. Shrig," said he very earnestly as he folded and pocketed the
letter, "will you do something for me--will you take a note to my
servant, John Peterby? You'll find him at the 'Oak and Ivy' in
Hawkhurst village."

"Vich, seeing as you're a pal, sir, I vill. But, sir," continued
Mr. Shrig, as Barnabas scribbled certain instructions for Peterby on
a page of his memorandum, "vot about yourself--you ain't a-going
back there, are ye?" and he jerked his thumb over his shoulder
towards the barn, now some distance behind them.

"Of course," said Barnabas, "to keep my appointment."

"D'ye think it's safe--now?"

"Quite,--thanks to you," answered Barnabas. "Here is the note, and
if you wish, John Peterby will drive you back to London with him."

"V'y, thank'ee sir,--'e shall that,--but you, now?" Mr. Shrig paused,
and, somewhat diffidently drew from his side pocket a very
business-like, brass-bound pistol, which he proffered to Barnabas,
"jest in case they should 'appen to come back, sir," said he.

But Barnabas laughingly declined it, and shook his chubby hand
instead.

"Vell," said Mr. Shrig, pocketing note and weapon, "you're true game,
sir, yes, game's your breed, and I only 'ope as you don't give me a
case--though good murder cases is few and far between, as I've told
you afore. Good-by, sir, and good luck."

So saying, Mr. Shrig nodded, touched the broad rim of his castor,
and strode away through the gathering shadows.

And when he was gone, and the sound of his going had died away in
the distance, Barnabas turned and swiftly retraced his steps; but
now he went with fists clenched, and head forward, as one very much
on the alert.

Evening was falling and the shadows were deepening apace, and as he
went, Barnabas kept ever in the shelter of the trees until he saw
before him once more, the desolate and crumbling barn of Oakshott.
For a moment he paused, eyeing its scarred and battered walls
narrowly, then, stepping quickly forward, entered the gloomy doorway
and, turning towards a certain spot, started back before the
threatening figure that rose up from the shadows.

"Ah! So you 've c-come at last, sir!" said Barrymaine, steadying
himself against the wall with one hand while he held the pistol
levelled in the other, "ins-stead of the weak s-sister you find the
avenging brother! Been waiting for you hours. C-cursed dreary hole
this, and I fell asleep, but--"

"Because you were drugged!" said Barnabas.

"D-drugged, sir! W-what d' you mean?"

"Chichester drugged the brandy--"

"Chichester?"

"He meant to murder me while you slept and fix the crime on you--"

"Liar!" cried Barrymaine, "you came here to meet my s-sister, but
instead of a defenceless girl you meet me and I'm g-going to settle
with you--once and for all--t-told you I would, last time we met.
There's another pistol in the c-case yonder--pick it up and t-take
your ground."

"Listen to me," Barnabas began.

"N-not a word--you're going to fight me--"

"Never!"

"Pick up that pistol--or I'll sh-shoot you where you stand!"

"No!"

"I'll c-count three!" said Barrymaine, his pale face livid against
the darkness behind, "One! Two!--"

But, on the instant, Barnabas sprang in and closed with him, and,
grappled in a fierce embrace, they swayed a moment and staggered out
through the gaping doorway.

Barrymaine fought desperately. Barnabas felt his coat rip and tear,
but he maintained his grip upon his opponent's pistol hand, yet
twice the muzzle of the weapon covered him, and twice he eluded it
before Barrymaine could fire. Therefore, seeing Barrymaine's
intention, reading his deadly purpose in vicious mouth and dilated
nostril, Barnabas loosed one hand, drew back his arm, and
smote--swift and hard. Barrymaine uttered a cry that seemed to
Barnabas to find an echo far off, flung out his arms and, staggering,
fell.

Then Barnabas picked up the pistol and, standing over Barrymaine,
spoke.

"I--had to--do it!" he panted. "Did I--hurt you much?"

But Ronald Barrymaine lay very white and still, and, stooping,
Barnabas saw that he had struck much harder than he had meant, and
that Barrymaine's mouth was cut and bleeding.

Now at this moment, even as he sank on his knees, Barnabas again
heard a cry, but nearer now and with the rustle of flying draperies,
and, glancing up, saw Cleone running towards them.

"Cleone!" he cried, and sprang to his feet.

"You--struck him!" she panted.

"I--yes, I--had to! But indeed he isn't much hurt--" But Cleone was
down upon her knees, had lifted Barrymaine's head to her bosom and
was wiping the blood from his pale face with her handkerchief.

"Cleone," said Barnabas, humbly, "I--indeed I--couldn't help it. Oh,
Cleone--look up!" Yet, while he spoke, there came a rustling of
leaves near by and glancing thither, he saw Mr. Chichester surveying
them, smiling and debonair, and, striding forward, Barnabas
confronted him with scowling brow and fierce, menacing eyes.

"Rogue!" said he, his lips curling, "Rascal!"

"Ah!" nodded Mr. Chichester gently, "you have a pistol there, I see!"

"Your despicable villainy is known!" said Barnabas. "Ha!--smile if
you will, but while you knelt, pistol in hand, in the barn there,
had you troubled to look in the loft above your head you might have
murdered me, and none the wiser. As it is, I am alive, to strip you
of your heritage, and you still owe me twenty thousand guineas. Pah!
keep them to help you from the country, for I swear you shall be
hounded from every club in London; men shall know you for what you
are. Now go, before you tempt me to strangle you for a nauseous beast.
Go, I say!"

Smiling still, but with a devil looking from his narrowed eyes,
Mr. Chichester slowly viewed Barnabas from head to foot, and, turning,
strolled away, swinging his tasselled walking cane as he went, with
Barnabas close behind him, pistol in hand, even as they had once
walked months before.

Now at this moment it was that Cleone, yet kneeling beside Barrymaine,
chanced to espy a crumpled piece of paper that lay within a yard of
her, and thus, half unwitingly, she reached out and took it up,
glanced at it with vague eyes, then started, and knitting her black
brows, read these words:

  My Dear Barnabas,--The beast has discovered me.
  I thought I only scorned him, but now I know I fear him,
  too. So, in my dread, I turn to you. Yes, I will go now--
  anywhere you wish. Fear has made me humble, and I
  accept your offer. Oh, take me away--hide me, anywhere,
  so shall I always be

  Your grateful,

  CLEMENCY.

Thus, in a while, when Barrymaine opened his eyes it was to see
Cleone kneeling beside him with bent head, and with both hands
clasped down upon her bosom, fierce hands that clenched a crumpled
paper between them. At first he thought she was weeping, but, when
she turned towards him, he saw that her eyes were tearless and very
bright, and that on either cheek burned a vivid patch of color.

"Oh, Ronald!" she sighed, her lips quivering suddenly, "I--am glad
you are better--but--oh, my dear, I wish I--were dead!"

"There, there, Clo!" he muttered, patting her stooping shoulder,
"I f-frightened you, I suppose. But I'm all right now, dear. W-where's
Chichester?"

"I--don't know, Ronald."

"But you, Cleone? You came here to m-meet this--this Beverley?"

"Yes, Ronald."

"D'you know w-what he is? D'you know he's a publican's son?--a vile,
low fellow masquerading as a g-gentleman? Yes, he's a p-publican's
son, I tell you!" he repeated, seeing how she shrank at this.
"And you s-stoop to such as he--s-stoop to meet him in s-such a
place as this! So I came to save you f-from yourself!"

"Did you, Ronald?"

"Yes--but oh, Cleone, you don't love the fellow, do you?"

"I think I--hate him, Ronald."

"Then you won't m-meet him again?"

"No, Ronald."

"And you'll try to be a little kinder--to C-Chichester?" Cleone
shivered and rose to her feet.

"Come!" said she, her hands once more clasped upon her bosom,
"it grows late, I must go."

"Yes. D-devilish depressing place this! G-give me your arm, Clo."
But as they turned to go, the bushes parted, and Barnabas appeared.

"Cleone!" he exclaimed.

"I--I'm going home!" she said, not looking at him.

"Then I will come with you,--if I may?"

"I had rather go--alone--with my brother."

"So pray s-stand aside, sir!" said Barrymaine haughtily through his
swollen lips, staggering a little despite Cleone's arm.

"Sir," said Barnabas pleadingly, "I struck you a while ago, but it
was the only way to save you from--a greater evil, as you know--"

"He means I threatened to s-shoot him, Clo--so I did, but it was for
your sake, to sh-shield you from--persecution as a brother should."

"Cleone," said Barnabas, ignoring Barrymaine altogether, "if there
is any one in this world who should know me, and what manner of man
I am, surely it is you--"

"Yes, she knows you--b-better than you think, she knows you for a
publican's son, first of all--"

"May I come with you, Cleone?"

"No, sir, n-not while I'm here. Cleone, you go with him, or m-me,
so--choose!"

"Oh, Ronald, take me home!" she breathed.

So Barrymaine drew her arm through his and, turning his back on
Barnabas, led her away. But, when they had gone a little distance,
he frowned suddenly and came striding after them.

"Cleone," said he, "why are you so strange to me,--what is it,
--speak to me."

But Cleone was dumb, and walked on beside Ronald Barrymaine with
head averted, and so with never a backward glance, was presently
lost to sight among the leaves.

Long after they had gone, Barnabas stood there, his head bowed,
while the shadows deepened about him, dark and darker. Then all at
once he sighed again and, lifting his head, glanced about him; and
because of the desolation of the place, he shivered; and because of
the new, sharp pain that gripped him, he uttered a bitter curse, and
so, becoming aware of the pistol he yet grasped, he flung it far
from him and strode away through the deepening gloom.

On he went, heeding only the tumult of sorrow and anger that surged
within him. And so, betimes, reached the "Oak and Ivy" inn, where,
finding Peterby and the phaeton already gone, according to his
instructions, he hired post-horses and galloped away for London.

Now, as he went, though the evening was fine, it seemed to him that
high overhead was a shadow that followed and kept pace with him,
growing dark and ever darker; and thus as he rode he kept his gaze
upon this menacing shadow.

As for my lady, she, securely locked within the sanctuary of her
chamber, took pen and paper and wrote these words:

  "You have destroyed my faith, and with that all else. Farewell."

Which done, she stamped a small, yet vicious foot upon a certain
crumpled letter, and thereafter, lying face down upon her bed, wept
hot, slow, bitter tears, stifling her sobs with the tumbled glory of
her hair, and in her heart was an agony greater than any she had
ever known.



CHAPTER LVII


BEING A PARENTHETICAL CHAPTER ON DOUBT, WHICH, THOUGH UNINTERESTING,
IS VERY SHORT

It will perhaps be expected that, owing to this unhappy state of
affairs, Barnabas should have found sleep a stranger to his pillow;
but, on the contrary, reaching London at daybreak, he went to bed,
and there, wearied by his long ride, found a blessed oblivion from
all his cares and sorrows. Nor did he wake till the day was far spent
and evening at hand. But, with returning consciousness came Memory
to harrow him afresh, came cold Pride and glowing Anger. And with
these also was yet another emotion, and one that he had never known
till now, whose name is Doubt; doubt of himself and of his
future--that deadly foe to achievement and success--that ghoul-like
incubus which, once it fastens on a man, seldom leaves him until
courage, and hope, and confidence are dead, and nothing remains but
a foreknowledge and expectation of failure.

With this grisly spectre at his elbow Barnabas rose and dressed, and
went downstairs to make a pretence of breaking his fast.

"Sir," said Peterby, watching how he sat staring down moodily at the
table, "sir, you eat nothing."

"No, John, I'm not hungry," he answered, pushing his plate aside.
"By the way, did you find the cottage I mentioned in my note? Though,
indeed, you've had very little time."

"Yes, sir, I found one just beyond Lewisham, small, though
comfortable. Here is the key, sir."

"Thank you, John," said Barnabas, and thereafter sat staring
gloomily at the key until Peterby spoke again:

"Sir, pray forgive me, but I fear you are in some trouble. Is it
your misunderstanding with Viscount Devenham? I couldn't help but
overhear, and--"

"Ah, yes--even the Viscount has quarrelled with me," sighed Barnabas,
"next it will be the Marquis, I suppose, and after him--Gad, John
Peterby--I shall have only you left!"

"Indeed, sir, you will always have me--always!"

"Yes, John, I think I shall."

"Sir, when you--gave a miserable wretch another chance to live and
be a man, you were young and full of life."

"Yes, I was very, very young!" sighed Barnabas.

"But you were happy--your head was high and your eye bright with
confident hope and purpose."

"Yes, I was very confident, John."

"And therefore--greatly successful, sir. Your desire was to cut a
figure in the Fashionable World. Well, to-day you have your
wish--to-day you are famous, and yet--"

"Well, John?"

"Sir, to-day I fear you are--not happy."

"No, I'm not happy," sighed Barnabas, "for oh! John Peterby, what
shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world, and lose his
soul!"

"Ah, sir--you mean--?"

"I mean--the Lady Cleone, John. Losing her, I lose all, and success
is worse than failure."

"But, sir,--must you lose her?"

"I fear so. Who am I that she should stoop to me among so many? Who
am I to expect so great happiness?"

"Sir," said Peterby, shaking his head, "I have never known you doubt
yourself or fortune till now!"

"It never occurred to me, John."

"And because of this unshaken confidence in yourself you won the
steeplechase, sir--unaided and alone you won for yourself a place in
the most exclusive circles in the World of Fashion--without friends
or influence you achieved the impossible, because you never doubted."

"Yes, I was very confident, John, but then, you see, I never thought
anything impossible--till now."

"And therefore you succeeded, sir. But had you constantly doubted
your powers and counted failure even as a possibility, you might
still have dreamed of your success--but never achieved it."

"Why then," sighed Barnabas, rising, "it seems that Failure has
marked me for her own at last, for never was man fuller of doubt
than I."



CHAPTER LVIII


HOW VISCOUNT DEVENHAM FOUND HIM A VISCOUNTESS

Night was falling as, turning out of St. James's Square, Barnabas
took his way along Charles Street and so, by way of the Strand,
towards Blackfriars. He wore a long, befrogged surtout buttoned up
to the chin, though the weather was warm, and his hat was drawn low
over his brows; also in place of his tasselled walking-cane he
carried a heavy stick.

For the first half mile or so he kept his eyes well about him, but,
little by little, became plunged in frowning thought, and so walked
on, lost in gloomy abstraction. Thus, as he crossed Blackfriars
Bridge he was quite unaware of one who followed him step by step,
though upon the other side of the way; a gliding, furtive figure, and
one who also went with coat buttoned high and face hidden beneath
shadowy hat-brim.

On strode Barnabas, all unconscious, with his mind ever busied with
thoughts of Cleone and the sudden, unaccustomed doubt in himself and
his future that had come upon him.

Presently he turned off to the right along a dirty street of squalid,
tumble-down houses; a narrow, ill-lighted street which, though
comparatively quiet by day, now hummed with a dense and seething life.

Yes, a dark street this, with here and there a flickering lamp, that
served but to make the darkness visible, and here and there the
lighted window of some gin-shop, or drinking-cellar, whence
proceeded a mingled clamor of voices roaring the stave of some song,
or raised in fierce disputation.

On he went, past shambling figures indistinct in the dusk; past
figures that slunk furtively aside, or crouched to watch him from
the gloom of some doorway; past ragged creatures that stared,
haggard-eyed; past faces sad and faces evil that flitted by him in
the dark, or turned to scowl over hunching shoulders. Therefore
Barnabas gripped his stick the tighter as he strode along, suddenly
conscious of the stir and unseen movement in the fetid air about him,
of the murmur of voices, the desolate wailing of children, the noise
of drunken altercation, and all the sordid sounds that were part and
parcel of the place. Of all this Barnabas was heedful, but he was
wholly unaware of the figure that dogged him from behind, following
him step by step, patient and persistent. Thus, at last, Barnabas
reached a certain narrow alley, beyond which was the River, dark,
mysterious, and full of sighs and murmurs. And, being come to the
door of Nick the Cobbler, he knocked upon it with his stick.

It was opened, almost immediately, by Clemency herself.

"I saw you coming," she said, giving him her hand, and so led him
through the dark little shop, into the inner room.

"I came as soon as I could. Clemency."

"Yes, I knew you would come," she answered, with bowed head.

"I am here to take you away to a cottage I have found for you--a
place in the country, where you will be safe until I can find and
bring your father to you."

As he ended, she lifted her head and looked at him through gathering
tears.

"How good--how kind of you!" she said, very softly, "and oh, I thank
you, indeed I do--but--"

"But, Clemency?"

"I must stay--here."

"In this awful place! Why?"

Clemency flushed, and looking down at the table, began to pleat a
fold in the cloth with nervous fingers.

"Poor little Nick hasn't been very well lately, and I--can't leave
him alone--" she began.

"Then bring him with you."

"And," she continued slowly, "when I wrote you that letter I
was--greatly afraid, but I'm--not afraid any longer. And oh, I
couldn't leave London yet--I couldn't!"

Now while she spoke, Barnabas saw her clasp and wring her hands
together, that eloquent gesture he remembered so well. Therefore he
leaned across the table and touched those slender fingers very gently.

"Why not? Tell me your trouble, my sister."

Now Clemency bowed her dark head, and when she spoke her voice was
low and troubled: "Because--he is ill--dangerously ill, Milo tells me,
and I--I am nearer to him here in London. I can go, sometimes, and
look at the house where he lies. So you see, I cannot leave him, yet."

"Then--you love him, Clemency?"

"Yes," she whispered, "yes, oh yes, always--always! That was why I
ran away from him. Oh, I love him so much that I grew afraid of my
love, and of myself, and of him. Because he is a great gentleman,
and I am only--what I am."

"A very good and beautiful woman!" said Barnabas.

"Beauty!" she sighed, "oh, it is only for that he--wanted me, and
dear heaven! I love him so much that--if he asked me--I fear--" and
she hid her burning face in hands that trembled.

"Clemency!"

The word was hoarse and low, scarcely more than a whisper, but, even
so, Clemency started and lifted her head to stare wide-eyed at the
figure leaning in the doorway, with one hand outstretched to her
appealingly; a tall figure, cloaked from head to foot, with hat
drawn low over his brows, his right arm carried in a sling. And as
she gazed, Clemency uttered a low, soft cry, and rose to her feet.

"My Lord!" she whispered, "oh, my Lord!"

"Dearest!"

The Viscount stepped into the room and, uncovering his head, sank
upon his knees before her.

"Oh, Clemency," said he, "the door was open and I heard it
all--every word. But, dearest, you need never fear me any
more--never any more, because I love you. Clemency, and here, upon
my knees, beg you to honor me by--marrying me, if you will stoop to
such a pitiful thing as I am. Clemency dear, I have been ill, and it
has taught me many things, and I know now that I--cannot live
without you. So, Clemency, if you will take pity on me--oh!
Clemency--!"

The Viscount stopped, still kneeling before her with bent head, nor
did he look up or attempt to touch her as he waited her answer.

Then, slowly, she reached out and stroked that bowed and humble head,
and, setting her hands upon his drooping shoulders, she sank to her
knees before him, so that now he could look into the glowing beauty
of her face and behold the deep, yearning tenderness of her eyes.

"Dear," said she very gently, "dear, if you--want me so much you
have only to--take me!"

"For my Viscountess, Clemency!"

"For your--wife, dear!"

And now, beholding their great happiness, Barnabas stole from the
room, closing the door softly behind him.

Then, being only human, he sighed deeply and pitied himself mightily
by contrast.



CHAPTER LIX


WHICH RELATES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, HOW BARNABAS LOST HIS HAT

Now as Barnabas stood thus, he heard another sigh, and glancing up
beheld Mr. Shrig seated at the little Cobbler's bench, with a
guttering candle at his elbow and a hat upon his fist, which he
appeared to be examining with lively interest.

"Sir," said he, as Barnabas approached, wondering, "I'm taking the
liberty o' looking at your castor."

"Oh!" said Barnabas.

"Sir, it's a werry good 'at as 'ats go, but it's no kind of an 'at
for you to-night."

"And why not, Mr. Shrig?"

"Because it ain't much pertection ag'in windictiveness--in the shape
of a bludgeon, shall ve say, and as for a brick--v'y, Lord! And
theer's an uncommon lot of windictiveness about to-night; it's
a-vaiting for you--as you might say--round the corner."

"Really, Mr. Shrig, I'm afraid I don't understand you."

"Sir, d' ye mind a cove o' the name o' 'Vistling Dick,' as got
'isself kicked to death by an 'orse?"

"Yes."

"And d' ye mind another cove commonly known as 'Dancing Jimmy,' and
another on 'em as is called 'Bunty Fagan'?"

"Yes, they tried to rob me once."

"Right, sir,--only I scared 'em off, you'll remember. Conseqvently,
p'r'aps you ain't forgot certain other coves as you and me had a bit
of a turn-up vith v'en I sez to you 'Run,' and you sez to me 'No,'
and got a lump on your sconce like an 'ard-biled egg according?"

"Yes, I remember of course, but why--"

"Sir, they 're all on 'em out on the windictive lay again to-night,
--only, this time, it's you they 're arter."

"Me--are you sure?"

"And sartin! Corporal Richard Roe, late Grenadiers, give me the
office, and Corporal Richard's never wrong, sir. Corporal Dick's
my pal as keeps the 'Gun' in Gray's Inn Lane, you may remember, and
the 'Gun' 's a famous chaffing-crib for the flash, leary coves. So,
v'en the Corp tipped me the vord, sir, I put my castor on my sconce,
slipped a barker in my cly, took my stick in my fib--or as you might
say 'daddle,' d' ye see, and toddled over to keep a ogle on you. And,
sir, if it hadn't been for the young gent as shadowed ye all the way
to Giles's Rents, it's my opinion as they'd ha' done you into a
corp as you come along."

"But why should they want to do for me?"

"V'y, sir, they'd do for their own mothers, j'yful, if you paid 'em
to!"

"But who would employ such a gang?"

"Vell, sir, naming no names, there's a party as I suspect from
conclusions as I've drawed, a party as I'm a-going to try to ketch
this here werry night, sir--as I mean to ketch in flay-grant
de-lick-too, vich is a law term meaning--in the werry act, sir, if
you'll help me?"

"Of course I will," said Barnabas, a little eagerly, "but how?"

"By doing eggs-actly as I tell you, sir. Is it a go?"

"It is," nodded Barnabas.

"V'y, then, to begin vith, that theer coat o' yours,--it's too long
to run in--off vith it, sir!"

Barnabas smiled, but off came the long, befrogged surtout.

"Now--my castor, sir" and Mr. Shrig handed Barnabas his famous hat.
"Put it on, sir, if you please. You'll find it a bit 'eavyish at
first, maybe, but it's werry good ag'in windictiveness."

"Thank you," said Barnabas, smiling again, "but it's too small, you
see."

"That's a pity!" sighed Mr. Shrig, "still, if it von't go on, it
von't. Now, as to a vepping?"

"I have my stick," said Barnabas, holding it up. Mr. Shrig took it,
balanced it in his grasp and passed it back with a nod of approval.

"V'y then, sir, I think ve may wenture," said he, and rising, put on
his hat, examined the priming of the brass-bound pistol, and taking
the nobbly stick under his arm, blew out the candle and crossed to
the door; yet, being there, paused. "Sir," said he, a note of
anxiety in his voice, "you promise to do eggs-actly vot I say?"

"I promise!"

"Ven I say 'run' you'll run?"

"Yes."

"Then come on, sir, and keep close behind me."

So saying, Mr. Shrig opened the door and stepped noisily out into
the narrow court and waited while Barnabas fastened the latch; even
then he paused to glance up at the sombre heaven and to point out a
solitary star that twinkled through some rift in the blackness above.

"Going to be a fine night for a little walk," said he, "Oliver vill
be in town later on."

"Oliver?" inquired Barnabas.

"Ah! that's flash for the moon, sir. Jest a nice light there'll be.
This vay, sir." With the words Mr. Shrig turned sharp to his left
along the alley towards the River.

"Why this way, Mr. Shrig?"

"First, sir, because they're a-vaiting for you at t'other end o' the
alley, and second, because v'en they see us go this vay they'll
think they've got us sure and sartin, and follow according, and third,
because at a certain place along by the River I've left Corporal
Dick and four o' my specials, d'ye see. S-sh! Qviet now! Oblige me
with your castor--your 'at, sir."

Wonderingly, Barnabas handed him the article in question, whereupon
Mr. Shrig, setting it upon the end of the nobbly stick, began to
advance swiftly where the shadow lay blackest, and with an added
caution, motioning to Barnabas to do the like.

They were close upon the River now, so close that Barnabas could
hear it lapping against the piles, and catch the indefinable reek of
it. But on they went, swift and silent, creeping ever in the gloom
of the wall beside them, nearer and nearer until presently the River
flowed before them, looming darker than the dark, and its sullen
murmur was all about them; until Mr. Shrig, stopping all at once,
raised the hat upon his stick and thrust it slowly, inch by inch,
round the angle of the wall. And lo! even as Barnabas watched with
bated breath, suddenly it was gone--struck away into space by an
unseen weapon, and all in an instant it seemed, came a vicious oath,
a snarl from Mr. Shrig, the thud of a blow, and a dim shape staggered
sideways and sinking down at the base of the wall lay very silent
and very still.

"Run!" cried Mr. Shrig, and away he went beside the River, holding a
tortuous course among the piles of rotting lumber, dexterously
avoiding dim-seen obstacles, yet running with a swiftness wonderful
to behold. All at once he stopped and glanced about him.

"What now?" inquired Barnabas.

"S-sh! d'ye 'ear anything, sir?"

Sure enough, from the darkness behind, came a sound there was no
mistaking, the rush and patter of pursuing feet, and the feet were
many.

"Are we to fight here?" demanded Barnabas, buttoning his coat.

"No, not yet, sir. Ah! there's Oliver--told you it vould be a fine
night. This vay, sir!" And turning to the left again, Mr. Shrig led
the way down a narrow passage. Half-way along this dim alley he
paused, and seating himself upon a dim step, fell to mopping his brow.

"A extra-special capital place, this, sir!" said he. "Bankside's
good enough for a capital job, but this is better, ah, a sight better!
Many a unfort'nate wictim has been made a corp' of, hereabouts, sir!"

"Yes," said Barnabas shivering, for the air struck chill and damp,
"but what do we do now?"

"V'y, sir, I'll tell you. Ve sit here, nice and qviet and let 'em
run on till they meet my four specials and Corporal Richard Roe,
late Grenadiers. My specials has their staves and knows how to use
'em, and the Corp has 's 'ook,--and an 'ook ain't no-vise pleasant
as a vepping. So, ven they come running back, d' ye see, theer's you
vith your stick, an' me vith my barker, an' so ve 'ave 'em front and
rear."

"But can we stop them--all?"

"Ah!" nodded Mr. Shrig, "all as the Corp 'as left of 'em. Ye see
they know me, most on 'em, and likevise they knows as v'en I pull a
barker from my cly that theer barker don't miss fire. Vot's more,
they must come as far as this passage or else drownd theirselves in
the River, vich vould save a lot o' trouble and expense, and--s-sh!"

He broke off abruptly and rose to his feet, and Barnahas saw that he
held the brass-bound pistol in his hand. Then, as they stood
listening, plain and more plain was the pad-pad of running feet that
raced up to the mouth of the alley where they stood--past it, and so
died down again. Hereupon Mr. Shrig took out his large-faced watch
and, holding it close to his eyes, nodded.

"In about vun minute they'll run up ag'in the Corp," said he,
"and a precious ugly customer they'll find him, not to mention
my specials--ve'll give 'em another two minutes." Saying which,
Mr. Shrig reseated himself upon the dim step, watch in hand. "Sir,"
he continued, "I'm sorry about your 'at--sich a werry good 'at, too!
But it 'ad to be yours or mine, and sir,--axing your pardon, but
there's a good many 'ats to be 'ad in London jest as good as yourn,
for them as can afford 'em, but theer ain't another castor like
mine--no, not in the U-nited Kingdom."

"Very true," nodded Barnabas, "and no hat ever could have had a
more--useful end, than mine."

"V'y yes, sir--better your castor than your sconce any day," said
Mr. Shrig, "and now I think it's about time for us to--wenture forth.
But, sir," he added impressively, "if the conclusion as I've drawed
is correct, theer's safe to be shooting if you're recognized, so
keep in the shadder o' the wall, d' ye see. Now, are ye ready?--keep
behind me--so. Here they come, I think."

Somewhere along the dark River hoarse cries arose, and the confused
patter of running feet that drew rapidly louder and more distinct.
Nearer they came until Barnahas could hear voices that panted out
fierce curses; also he heard Mr. Shrig's pistol click as it was
cocked.

So, another minute dragged by and then, settling his broad-brimmed
hat more firmly, Mr. Shrig sprang nimbly from his lurking-place and
fronted the on-comers with levelled weapon:

"Stand!" he cried, "stand--in the King's name!"

By the feeble light of the moon, Barnabas made out divers figures who,
checking their career, stood huddled together some yards away, some
scowling at the threatening posture of Mr. Shrig, others glancing
back over their shoulders towards the dimness behind, whence came a
shrill whistle and the noise of pursuit.

"Ah, you may look!" cried Mr. Shrig, "but I've got ye, my lambs--all
on ye! You, Bunty Fagan, and Dancing Jimmy, I know you, and you know
me, so stand--all on ye. The first man as moves I'll shoot--stone
dead, and v'en I says a thing I--"

A sudden, blinding flash, a deafening report, and, dropping his
pistol, Mr. Shrig groaned and staggered up against the wall. But
Barnabas was ready and, as their assailants rushed, met them with
whirling stick.

It was desperate work, but Barnabas was in the mood for it,
answering blow with blow, and shout with shout.

"Oh, Jarsper!" roared a distant voice, "we're coming. Hold 'em,
Jarsper!"

So Barnabas struck, and parried, and struck, now here, now there,
advancing and retreating by turns, until the flailing stick
splintered in his grasp, and he was hurled back to the wall and
borne to his knees. Twice he struggled up, but was beaten down again,
--down and down into a choking blackness that seemed full of griping
hands and cruel, trampling feet.

Faint and sick, dazed with his hurts, Barnabas rose to his knees and
so, getting upon unsteady feet, sought to close with one who
threatened him with upraised bludgeon, grasped at an arm, missed,
felt a stunning shock,--staggered back and back with the sounds of
the struggle ever fainter to his failing senses, tripped, and falling
heavily, rolled over upon his back, and so lay still.



CHAPTER LX


WHICH TELLS OF A RECONCILIATION

"Oh, Lord God of the weary and heavy-hearted, have mercy upon me! Oh,
Father of the Sorrowful, suffer now that I find rest!"

Barnabas opened his eyes and stared up at a cloudless heaven where
rode the moon, a silver sickle; and gazing thither, he remembered
that some one had predicted a fine night later, and vaguely wondered
who it might have been.

Not a sound reached him save the slumberous murmur that the River
made lapping lazily against the piles, and Barnabas sighed and
closed his eyes again.

But all at once, upon this quiet, came words spoken near by, in a
voice low and broken, and the words were these:

"Oh, Lord of Pity, let now thy mercy lighten upon me, suffer that I
come to Thee this hour, for in Thee is my trust. Take back my life,
oh, Father, for, without hope, life is a weary burden, and Death, a
boon. But if I needs must live on, give me some sign that I may know.
Oh, Lord of Pity, hear me!"

The voice ceased and, once again, upon the hush stole the
everlasting whisper of the River. Then, clear and sharp, there broke
another sound, the oncoming tread of feet; soft, deliberate feet
they were, which yet drew ever nearer and nearer while Barnabas,
staring up dreamily at the moon, began to count their steps.
Suddenly they stopped altogether, and Barnabas, lying there, waited
for them to go on again; but in a while, as the silence remained
unbroken, he sighed and turning his throbbing head saw a figure
standing within a yard of him.

"Sir," said Mr. Chichester, coming nearer and smiling down at
prostrate Barnabas, "this is most thoughtful--most kind of you. I
have been hoping to meet you again, more especially since our last
interview, and now, to find you awaiting me at such an hour, in such
a place,--remote from all chances of disturbance, and--with the
River so very convenient too! Indeed, you couldn't have chosen a
fitter place, and I am duly grateful."

Saying which, Mr. Chichester seated himself upon the mouldering
remains of an ancient wherry, and slipped one hand into the bosom of
his coat.

"Sir," said he, leaning towards Barnabas, "you appear to be hurt,
but you are not--dying, of course?"

"Dying!" repeated Barnabas, lifting a hand to his aching brow,
"dying,--no."

"And yet, I fear you are," sighed Mr. Chichester, "yes, I think you
will be most thoroughly dead before morning,--I do indeed." And he
drew a pistol from his pocket, very much as though it were a
snuff-box.

"But before we write 'Finis' to your very remarkable career," he
went on, "I have a few,--a very few words to say. Sir, there have
been many women in my life, yes, a great many, but only one I ever
loved, and you, it seems must love her too. You have obtruded
yourself wantonly in my concerns from the very first moment we met.
I have always found you an obstacle, an obstruction. But latterly
you have become a menace, threatening my very existence for, should
you dispossess me of my heritage I starve, and, sir--I have no mind
to starve. Thus, since it is to be your life or mine, I, very
naturally, prefer that it shall be yours. Also you threatened to
hound me from the clubs--well, sir, had I not had the good fortune to
meet you tonight, I had planned to make you the scorn and
laughing-stock of Town, and to drive you from London like the
impostor you are. It was an excellent plan, and I am sorry to
forego it, but necessity knows no law, and so to-night I mean to rid
myself of the obstacle, and sweep it away altogether." As he ended,
Mr. Chichester smiled, sighed, and cocked his pistol. But, even as
it clicked, a figure rose up from behind the rotting wherry and, as
Mr. Chichester leaned towards Barnabas, smiling still but with eyes
of deadly menace, a hand, pale and claw-like in the half-light, fell
and clenched itself upon his shoulder.

At the touch Mr. Chichester started and, uttering an exclamation,
turned savagely; then Barnabas struggled to his knees, and pinning
his wrist with one hand, twisted the pistol from his grasp with the
other and, as Mr. Chichester sprang to his feet, faced him, still
upon his knees, but with levelled weapon.

"Don't shoot!" cried a voice.

"Shoot?" repealed Barnabas, and got unsteadily upon his legs.
"Shoot--no, my hands are best!" and, flinging the pistol far out
into the River, he approached Mr. Chichester, staggering a little,
but with fists clenched.

"Sir," cried the voice again, "oh, young sir, what would you do?"

"Kill him!" said Barnabas.

"No, no--leave him to God's justice, God will requite him--let him go."

"No!" said Barnabas, shaking his head. But, as he pressed forward
intent on his purpose, restraining hands were upon his arm, and the
voice pleaded in his ear:

"God is a just God, young sir--let the man go--leave him to the
Almighty,"

And the hands upon his arm shook him with passionate entreaty.
Therefore Barnabas paused and, bowing his head, clasped his
throbbing temples between his palms and so, stood a while. When he
looked up again, Mr. Chichester was gone, and the Apostle of Peace
stood before him, his silver hair shining, his pale face uplifted
towards heaven.

"I owe you--my life!" said Barnabas.

"You are alive, young sir, which is good, and your hands are not
stained with a villain's blood, which is much better. But, as for
me--God pity me!--I came here to-night, meaning to be a
self-murderer--oh, God forgive me!"

"But you--asked for--a sign, I think," said Barnabas, "and you--live
also. And to-night your pilgrimage ends, in Clemency's loving arms."

"Clemency? My daughter? Oh, sir,--young sir, how may that be? They
tell me she is dead."

"Lies!" said Barnabas, "lies! I spoke with her tonight." The Apostle
of Peace stood a while with bowed head; when at last he looked up,
his cheeks were wet with tears.

"Then, sir," said he, "take me to her. Yet, stay! You are hurt, and,
if in my dark hour I doubted God's mercy, I would not be selfish in
my happiness--"

"Happiness!" said Barnabas, "yes--every one seems happy--but me."

"You are hurt, young sir. Stoop your head and let me see."

"No," sighed Barnabas, "I'm well enough. Come, let me take you to
Clemency."

So, without more ado, they left that dreary place, and walked on
together side by side and very silent, Barnabas with drooping head,
and his companion with eyes uplifted and ever-moving lips.

Thus, in a while, they turned into the narrow court, and reaching
the door of Nick the Cobbler, Barnabas knocked and, as they waited,
he could see that his companion was trembling violently where he
leaned beside him against the wall. Then the door was opened and
Clemency appeared, her shapely figure outlined against the light
behind her.

"Mr. Beverley," she exclaimed, "dear brother, is it you--"

"Yes, Clemency, and--and I have kept my promise, I have brought you--"
But no need for words; Clemency had seen. "Father!" she cried,
stretching out her arms, "oh, dear father!"

"Beatrix," said the preacher, his voice very broken, "oh, my child,
--forgive me--!" But Clemency had caught him in her arms, had drawn
him into the little shop, and, pillowing the silvery head upon her
young bosom, folded it there, and so hung above him all sighs, and
tears, and tender endearments.

Then Barnabas closed the door upon them and, sighing, went upon his
way. He walked with lagging step and with gaze ever upon the ground,
heedless alike of the wondering looks of those he passed, or of time,
or of place, or of the voices that still wailed, and wrangled, and
roared songs; conscious only of the pain in his head, the dull ache
at his heart, and the ever-growing doubt and fear within him.



CHAPTER LXI


HOW BARNABAS WENT TO HIS TRIUMPH

The star of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, was undoubtedly in the
ascendant; no such radiant orb had brightened the Fashionable
Firmament since that of a certain Mr. Brummell had risen to
scintillate a while ere it paled and vanished before the royal frown.

Thus the Fashionable World turned polite eyes to mark the course of
this new luminary and, if it vaguely wondered how long that course
might be, it (like the perspicacious waiter at the "George")
regarded Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, as one to be flattered, smiled
upon, and as worthy of all consideration and respect.

For here was one, not only young, fabulously rich and a proved
sportsman, but a dandy, besides, with a nice taste and originality
in matters sartorial, more especially in waistcoats and cravats,
which articles, as the Fashionable World well knows, are the final
gauge of a man's depth and possibilities.

Thus, the waistcoats of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, or their
prototypes to a button, were to be met with any day sunning
themselves in the Mall, and the styles of cravat affected by
Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, were to be observed at the most
brilliant functions, bowing in all directions.

Wherefore, all this considered, what more natural than that the
Fashionable World should desire to make oblation to this, its newest
(and consequently most admired) ornament, and how better than to
feed him, since banquets are a holy rite sanctified by custom and
tradition?

Hence, the Fashionable World appointed and set apart a day whereon,
with all due pomp and solemnity, to eat and drink to the glory and
honor of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire.

Nevertheless (perverse fate!) Barnabas Beverley was not happy, for,
though his smile was as ready as his tongue, yet, even amid the
glittering throng, yea, despite the soft beams of Beauty's eyes, his
brow would at times grow dark and sombre, and his white, strong
fingers clench themselves upon the dainty handkerchief of lace and
cambric fashion required him to carry. Yet even this was accepted in
all good faith, and consequently pale checks and a romantic gloom
became the mode.

No, indeed, Barnabas was not happy, since needs must he think ever
of Cleone. Two letters had he written her, the first a humble
supplication, the second an angry demand couched in terms of bitter
reproach. Yet Cleone gave no sign; and the days passed. Therefore,
being himself young and proud, he wrote no more, and waited for some
word of explanation, some sign from her; then, as the days
lengthened into weeks, he set himself resolutely to forget her, if
such a thing might be.

The better to achieve a thing so impossible, he turned to that most
fickle of all goddesses whose name is Chance, and wooed her fiercely
by day and by night. He became one of her most devoted slaves; in
noble houses, in clubs and hells, he sought her. Calm-eyed,
grim-lipped he wooed her, yet with dogged assiduity; he became a
familiar figure at those very select gaming-tables where play was
highest, and tales of his recklessness and wild prodigality began to
circulate; tales of huge sums won and lost with the same calm
indifference, that quiet gravity which marked him in all things.

Thus a fortnight has elapsed, and to-night the star of Barnabas
Beverley, Esquire, has indeed attained its grand climacteric, for
to-night he is to eat and drink with ROYALTY, and the Fashionable
World is to do him honor.

And yet, as he stands before his mirror, undergoing the ordeal of
dressing, he would appear almost careless of his approaching triumph;
his brow is overcast, his cheek a little thinner and paler than of
yore, and he regards his resplendent image in the mirror with
lack-lustre eyes.

"Your cravat, sir," says Peterby, retreating a few paces and with
his head to one side the better to observe its effect, "your cravat
is, I fear, a trifle too redundant in its lower folds, and a little
severe, perhaps--"

"It is excellent, John! And you say--there is still no letter
from--from Hawkhurst?"

"No, sir, none," answered Peterby abstractedly, and leaning forward
to administer a gentle pull to the flowered waistcoat. "This coat,
sir, is very well, I think, and yet--y-e-es, perhaps it might be a
shade higher in the collar, and a thought tighter at the waist. Still,
it is very well on the whole, and these flattened revers are an
innovation that will be quite the vogue before the week is out. You
are satisfied with the coat, I hope, sir?"

"Perfectly, John, and--should a letter come while I am at the
banquet you will send it on--at once, John."

"At once, sir!" nodded Peterby, crouching down to view his young
master's shapely legs in profile. "Mr. Brummell was highly esteemed
for his loop and button at the ankle, sir, but I think our ribbon is
better, and less conspicuous, that alone should cause a sensation."

"Unless, John," sighed Barnabas, "unless I receive a word to-night I
shall drive down to Hawkhurst as soon as I can get away, so have the
curricle and grays ready, will you?"

"Yes, sir. Pardon me one moment, there is a wrinkle in your left
stocking, silk stockings are very apt to--"

But here the legs of the Gentleman-in-Powder planted themselves
quivering on the threshold to announce:--

"Viscount Devenham!"

He still carried his arm in a sling, but, excepting this, the
Viscount was himself again, Bright-eyed, smiling and debonair. But
now, as Peterby withdrew, and Barnabas turned to greet him, gravely
polite--he hesitated, frowned, and seemed a little at a loss.

"Egad!" said he ruefully, "it seems a deuce of a time since we saw
each other, Beverley."

"A fortnight!" said Barnabas.

"And it's been a busy fortnight for both of us, from what I hear."

"Yes, Viscount."

"Especially for--you."

"Yes, Viscount."

"Beverley," said he, staring very hard at the toe of his varnished
shoe, "do you remember the white-haired man we met, who called
himself an Apostle of Peace?"

"Yes, Viscount."

"Do you remember that he said it was meant we should be--friends?"

"Yes."

"Well I--think he was right,--I'm sure he was right. I--didn't know
how few my friends were until I--fell out with you. And so--I'm here
to--to ask your pardon, and I--don't know how to do it, only--oh,
deuce take it! Will you give me your hand, Bev?"

But before the words had well left his lips, Barnabas had sprang
forward, and so they stood, hand clasped in hand, looking into each
other's eyes as only true friends may.

"I--we--owe you so much, Bev--Clemency has told me--"

"Indeed, Dick," said Barnabas, a little hastily, "you are a
fortunate man to have won the love of so beautiful a woman, and one
so noble."

"My dear fellow," said the Viscount, very solemn, "it is so
wonderful that, sometimes, I--almost fear that it can't be true."

"The love of a woman is generally a very uncertain thing!" said
Barnabas bitterly.

"But Clemency isn't like an ordinary woman," said the Viscount,
smiling very tenderly, "in all the world there is only one Clemency
and she is all truth, and honor, and purity. Sometimes, Bev, I feel
so--so deuced unworthy, that I am almost afraid to touch her."

"Yes, I suppose there are a few such women in the world," said
Barnabas, turning away. "But, speaking of the Apostle of Peace, have
you met him again--lately?"

"No, not since that morning behind the 'Spotted Cow.' Why?"

"Well, you mentioned him."

"Why yes, but only because I couldn't think of any other way
of--er--beginning. You were so devilish high and haughty, Bev."

"And what of Clemency?"

"She has promised to--to marry me, next month,--to marry me--me, Bev.
Oh, my dear fellow, I'm the very happiest man alive, and, egad, that
reminds me! I'm also the discredited and disinherited son of a
flinty-hearted Roman."

"What Dick,--do you mean he has--cut you off?"

"As much as ever he could, my dear fellow, which reduces my income
by a half. Deuced serious thing, y' know, Bev. Shall have to get rid
of my stable, and the coach; 'Moonraker' must go, too, I'm afraid.
Yes, Bev," sighed the Viscount, shaking his head at the reflection
of his elegant person in the mirror, "you behold in me a beggar, and
the cause--Clemency. But then, I know I am the very happiest beggar
in all this wide world, and the cause--Clemency!"

"I feared your father would never favor such a match, Dick, but--"

"Favor it! Oh, bruise and blister me!--"

"Have you told Clemency?"

"Not yet--"

"Has he seen her?"

"No, that's the deuce of it, she's away with her father, y' know.
Bit of a mystery about him, I fancy--she made me promise to be
patient a while, and ask no questions."

"And where is she?"

"Haven't the least idea. However, I went down to beard my Roman, y'
know, alone and single handed. Great mistake! Had Clemency been with
me the flintiest of Roman P's would have relented, for who could
resist--Clemency? As it was, I did my best, Bev--ran over her
points--I mean--tried to describe her, y' know, but it was no go, Bev,
no go--things couldn't have gone worse!"

"How?"

"'Sir,' says I--in an easy, off-hand tone, my dear fellow, and it
was _after_ dinner, you'll understand,--'Sir, I've decided to act
upon your very excellent advice, and get married. I intend to settle
down, at once!' 'Indeed, Horatio?' says he,--(Roman of eye, Bev)
'who is she, pray?' 'The most glorious woman in the world, sir!'
says I. 'Of course,' says he, 'but--which?' This steadied me a
little, Bev, so I took a fresh grip and began again: 'Sir,' says I,
'beauty in itself is a poor thing at best--' 'Therefore,' says my
Roman (quick as a flash, my dear fellow) 'therefore it is just as
well that beauty should not come--entirely empty-handed!' 'Sir,' says
I--(calmly, you'll understand, Bev, but with just sufficient
firmness to let him see that, after all, he was only a father) 'Sir,'
says I, 'beauty is a transient thing at best, unless backed up by
virtue, honor, wisdom, courage, truth, purity, nobility of soul--'
'Horatio,' says my father (pulling me up short, Bev) 'you do well to
put these virtues first but, in the wife of the future Earl of
Bamborough, I hearken for such common, though necessary attributes
as birth, breeding, and position, neither of which you have yet
mentioned, but I'm impatient, perhaps, and these come at the end of
your list,--pray continue.' 'Sir,' says I, 'my future wife is above
such petty considerations!' 'Ah!' says my Roman, 'I feared so! She
is then, a--nobody, I presume?' 'Sir--most beautiful girl in all
England,' says I. 'Ha!' says my Roman, nodding, 'then she _is_ a
nobody; that settles it.' 'She's all that is pure and good!' says I.
'And a nobody, beyond a doubt!' says he. 'She's everything sweet,
noble and brave,' says I. 'But--a nobody!' says he again. Now I'll
confess I grew a little heated at this, my dear fellow, though I
kept my temper admirably--oh, I made every allowance for him, as a
self-respecting son should, but, though filial, I maintained a front
of adamant, Bev. But, deuce take it! he kept on at me with his
confounded 'nobody' so long that I grew restive at last and jibbed.
'So you are determined to marry a nobody, are you, Horatio?' says he.
'No, my Lord,' says I, rising, (and with an air of crushing finality,
Bev) 'I am about to be honored with the hand of one who, by stress
of circumstances, was for some time waiting maid at the 'Spotted Cow'
inn, at Frittenden.' Well, Bev--that did it, y' know! My Roman
couldn't say a word, positively gaped at me and, while he gaped, I
bowed, and walked out entirely master of the situation. Result--
independence, happiness, and--beggary."

"But, Dick,--how shall you live?"

"Oh, I have an old place at Devenham, in the wilds of Kent,--we
shall rusticate there."

"And you will give up Almack's, White's--all the glory of the
Fashionable World?"

"Oh, man!" cried the Viscount, radiant of face, "how can all these
possibly compare? I shall have Clemency!"

"But surely you will find it very quiet, after London and the clubs?"

"Yes, it will be very quiet at Devenham, Bev," said the Viscount,
very gently, "and there are roses there, and she loves roses, I know!
We shall be alone in the world together,--alone! Yes, it will be
very quiet, Bev--thank heaven!"

"The loneliness will pall, after a time, Dick--say a month. And the
roses will fade and wither--as all things must, it seems," said
Barnabas bitterly, whereupon the Viscount turned and looked at him
and laid a hand upon his shoulder.

"Why, Bev," said he, "my dear old Bev,--what is it? You're greatly
changed, I think; it isn't like you to be a cynic. You are my friend,
but if you were my bitterest enemy I should forgive you, full and
freely, because of your behavior to Clemency. My dear fellow, are you
in any trouble--any danger? I have been away only a week, yet I come
back to find the town humming with stories of your desperate play. I
hear that D'Argenson plucked you for close on a thousand the other
day--"

"But I won fifteen hundred the same night, Dick."

"And lost all that, and more, to the Poodle later!"

"Why--one can't always win, Dick."

"Oh, Bev, my dear fellow, do you remember shaking your grave head at
me because I once dropped five hundred in one of the hells?"

"I fear I must have been very--young then, Dick!"

"And to-day, Bev, to-day you are a notorious gambler, and you sneer
at love! Gad! what a change is here! My dear fellow, what does it
all mean?"

Barnabas hesitated, and this history might have been very different
in the ending but, even as he met the Viscount's frank and anxious
look, the door was flung wide and Tressider, the thinnish, youngish
gentleman in sandy whiskers, rushed in, followed by the Marquis and
three or four other fine gentlemen, and, beholding the Viscount,
burst into a torrent of speech:

"Ha! Devenham! there you are,--back from the wilds, eh? Heard the
latest? No, I'll be shot if you have--none of you have, and I'm
bursting to tell it--positively exploding, damme if I'm not. It was
last night, at Crockford's you'll understand, and every one was
there--Skiffy, Apollo, the Poodle, Red Herrings, No-grow, the
Galloping Countryman and your obedient humble. One o'clock was
striking as the game broke up, and there's Beverley yawning and
waiting for his hat, d' ye see, when in comes the Golden Ball. 'Ha,
Beverley!' says he, 'you gamble, they tell me?' 'Oh, now and then,'
says Beverley. 'Why then,' says Golden Ball, 'you may have heard that
I do a little that way, myself?'  Now you mention it, I believe I
have,' says Beverley. 'Ha!' says Golden Ball, winking at the rest of
us, 'suppose we have a match, you and I--call your game.' 'Sir,'
says Beverley, yawning again, 'it is past one o'clock, and I make it
a rule never to play after one o'clock except for rather high stakes,'
(Rather high stakes says he! and to the Golden Ball,--oh curse me!)
'Do you, begad!' says Golden Ball, purple in the face--'ha!
you may have heard that I occasionally venture a hundred or so
myself--whatever the hour! Waiter--cards!' 'Sir,' says Beverley,
I've been playing ever since three o'clock this afternoon and I'm
weary of cards.' 'Oh, just as you wish,' says Golden Ball, 'at
battledore and shuttlecock I'm your man, or rolling the bones, or--'
'Dice, by all means!' says Beverley, yawning again. 'At how much a
throw?' says Golden Ball, sitting down and rattling the box. 'Well,'
says Beverley, 'a thousand, I think, should do to begin with!'
('A thou-sand,' says he, damme if he didn't!) Oh Gad, but you
should have seen the Golden Ball, what with surprise and his cravat,
I thought he'd choke--shoot me if I didn't! 'Done!' says he at last
(for we were all round the table thick as flies you'll understand)
--and to it they went, and in less than a quarter of an hour,
Beverley had bubbled him of close on seven thousand! Quickest thing
I ever saw, oh, curse me!"

"Oh, Bev," sighed the Viscount, under cover of the ensuing talk and
laughter, "what a perfectly reckless fellow you are!"

"Why, you see, Dick," Barnabas answered, as Peterby re-entered with
his hat and cloak, "a man can't always lose!"

"Beverley," said the Marquis, proffering his arm, "I have my chariot
below; I thought we might drive round to the club together, you and
Devenham and I, if you are ready?"

"Thank you, Marquis, yes, I'm quite ready."

Thus, with a Marquis on his right, and a Viscount on his left, and
divers noble gentlemen in his train, Barnabas went forth to his
triumph.



CHAPTER LXII


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS TRIUMPHED IN SPITE OF ALL

Never had White's, that historic club, gathered beneath its roof a
more distinguished company; dukes, royal and otherwise, elbow each
other on the stairs; earls and marquises sit cheek by jowl;
viscounts and baronets exchange snuff-boxes in corners, but one and
all take due and reverent heed of the flattened revers and the
innovation of the riband.

Yes, White's is full to overflowing for, to-night, half the
Fashionable World is here, that is to say, the masculine half; beaux
and wits; bucks and Corinthians; dandies and macaronis; all are here
and, each and every, with the fixed and unshakable purpose of eating
and drinking to the glory and honor of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire.
Here, also, is a certain "Mr. Norton," whom Barnabas immediately
recognizes by reason of his waistcoat and his whiskers. And Mr. Norton
is particularly affable and is graciously pleased to commend the
aforesaid flattened revers and riband; indeed so taken with them
is he, that he keeps their wearer beside him, and even condescends
to lean upon his arm as far as the dining-room.

Forthwith the banquet begins and the air hums with talk and laughter
punctuated by the popping of corks; waiters hurry to and fro, dishes
come and dishes vanish, and ever the laughter grows, and the buzz of
talk swells louder.

And Barnabas? Himself "the glass of fashion and the mould of form,"
in very truth "the observed of all observers," surely to-night he
should be happy! For the soaring pinions of youth have borne him up
and up at last, into the empyrean, far, far above the commonplace;
the "Coursing Hound," with its faded sign and weatherbeaten gables,
has been lost to view long and long ago (if it ever really existed),
and to-night he stands above the clouds, his foot upon the topmost
pinnacle; and surely man can attain no higher, for to-night he feasts
with princes.

Thus Barnabas sits among the glare and glitter of it all, smiling at
one, bowing to another, speaking with all by turns, and wondering in
his heart--if there is yet any letter from Hawkhurst. And now the
hurrying tread of waiters ceases, the ring and clatter of glass and
silver is hushed, the hum of talk and laughter dies away, and a
mottle-faced gentleman rises, and, clutching himself by the
shirt-frill with one hand, and elevating a brimming glass in the
other, clears his throat, and holds forth in this wise:

"Gentlemen, I'm an Englishman, therefore I'm blunt,--deuced
blunt--damned blunt! Gentlemen, I desire to speak a word upon this
happy and memorable occasion, and my word is this: Being an
Englishman I very naturally admire pluck and daring--Mr. Beverley has
pluck and daring--therefore I drink to him. Gentlemen, we need such
true-blue Englishmen as Beverley to keep an eye on old Bony; it is
such men as Beverley who make the damned foreigners shake in their
accursed shoes. So long as we have such men as Beverley amongst us,
England will scorn the foreign yoke and stand forth triumphant,
first in peace, first in war. Gentlemen, I give you Mr. Beverley, as
he is a true Sportsman I honor him, as he is an Englishman he is my
friend. Mr. Beverley, gentlemen!"

Hereupon the mottle-faced gentleman lets go of his shirt-frill, bows
to Barnabas and, tossing off his wine, sits down amid loud
acclamations and a roaring chorus of "Beverley! Beverley!"
accompanied by much clinking of glasses.

And now, in their turn, divers other noble gentlemen rise in their
places and deliver themselves of speeches, more or less eloquent,
flowery, witty and laudatory, but, one and all, full of the name and
excellences of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire; who duly learns that he
is a Maecenas of Fashion, a sportsman through and through, a shining
light, and one of the bulwarks of Old England, b'gad! etc., etc., etc.

To all of which he listens with varying emotions, and with one eye
upon the door, fervently hoping for the letter so long expected. But
the time is come for him to respond; all eyes are upon him, and all
glasses are filled; even the waiters become deferentially interested
as, amid welcoming shouts, the guest of the evening rises, a little
flushed, a little nervous, yet steady of eye.

And as Barnabas stands there, an elegant figure, tall and graceful,
all eyes may behold again the excellent fit of that wonderful coat,
its dashing cut and flattened revers, while all ears await his words.
But, or ever he can speak, upon this silence is heard the tread of
heavy feet beyond the door and Barnabas glances there eagerly, ever
mindful of the letter from Hawkhurst; but the feet have stopped and,
stifling a sigh, he begins:

"My Lords and gentlemen! So much am I conscious of the profound
honor you do me, that I find it difficult to express my--"

But here again a disturbance is heard at the door--a shuffle of feet
and the mutter of voices, and he pauses expectant; whereat his
auditors cry angrily for "silence!" which being duly accorded, he
begins again:

"Indeed, gentlemen, I fear no words of mine, however eloquent, can
sufficiently express to you all my--"

"Oh, Barnabas," cries a deep voice; "yes, it _is_ Barnabas!" Even as
the words are uttered, the group of protesting waiters in the
doorway are swept aside by a mighty arm, and a figure strides into
the banqueting-room, a handsome figure, despite its country
habiliments, a commanding figure by reason of its stature and great
spread of shoulder, and John Barty stands there, blinking in the
light of the many candles.

Then Barnabas closed his eyes and, reaching out, set his hand upon
the back of a chair near by, and so stood, with bent head and a
strange roaring in his ears. Little by little this noise grew less
until he could hear voices, about him, an angry clamor:

"Put him out!"

"Throw the rascal into the street!"

"Kick him downstairs, somebody!"

And, amid this ever-growing tumult, Barnabas could distinguish his
father's voice, and in it was a note he had never heard before,
something of pleading, something of fear.

"Barnabas? Barnabas? Oh, this be you, my lad--bean't it, Barnabas?"

Yet still he stood with bent head, his griping fingers clenched hard
upon the chair-back, while the clamor about him grew ever louder and
more threatening.

"Throw him out!"

"Pitch the fellow downstairs, somebody!"

"Jove!" exclaimed the Marquis, rising and buttoning his coat,
"if nobody else will, I'll have a try at him myself. Looks a
promising cove, as if he might fib well. Come now, my good fellow,
you must either get out of here or--put 'em up, you know,--dooce
take me, but you must!"

But as he advanced, Barnabas lifted his head and staying him with a
gesture, turned and beheld his father standing alone, the centre of
an angry circle. And John Barty's eyes were wide and troubled, and
his usually ruddy cheek showed pale, though with something more than
fear as, glancing slowly round the ring of threatening figures that
hemmed him in, he beheld the white, stricken face of his son. And,
seeing it, John Barty groaned, and so took a step towards the door;
but no man moved to give him way.

"A--a mistake, gentlemen," he muttered, "I--I'll go!" Then, even as
the stammering words were uttered, Barnabas strode forward into the
circle and, slipping a hand within his father's nerveless arm,
looked round upon the company, pale of cheek, but with head carried
high.

"My Lords!" said he, "gentlemen! I have the honor--to introduce to
you--John Barty, sometime known as 'Glorious John'--ex-champion of
England and--landlord of the 'Coursing Hound' inn--my father!"

A moment of silence! A stillness so profound that it seemed no man
drew breath; a long, long moment wherein Barnabas felt himself a
target for all eyes--eyes wherein he thought to see amazement that
changed into dismay which, in turn, gave place to an ever-growing
scorn of him. Therefore he turned his back upon them all and, coming
to the great window, stood there staring blindly into the dark street.

"Oh, Barnabas!" he heard his father saying, though as from a long
way off, "Barnabas lad, I--I--Oh, Barnabas--they're going! They're
leaving you, and--it's all my fault, lad! Oh, Barnabas,--what have I
done! It's my fault, lad--all my fault. But I heard you was sick,
Barnabas, and like to die,--ill, and calling for me,--for your father,
Barnabas. And now--Oh, my lad! my lad!--what have I done?"

"Never blame yourself, father, it--wasn't your fault," said Barnabas
with twitching lips, for from the great room behind him came the
clatter of chairs, the tread of feet, with voices and stifled
laughter that grew fainter and fainter, yet left a sting behind.

"Come away, John," said a voice, "we've done enough to-night--come
away!"

"Yes, Natty Bell, yes, I be coming--coming. Oh, Barnabas, my lad,
--my lad,--forgive me!"

Now in a while Barnabas turned; and behold! the candles glowed as
brightly as ever, silver and glass shone and glittered as bravely as
ever, but--the great room was empty, that is to say--very nearly. Of
all that brilliant and fashionable company but two remained. Very
lonely figures they looked, seated at the deserted table--the
Viscount, crumbling up bread and staring at the table-cloth, and the
Marquis, fidgeting with his snuff-box, and frowning at the ceiling.

To these solitary figures Barnabas spoke, albeit his voice was
hoarse and by no means steady:

"My Lords," said he, "why haven't you--followed the others?"

"Why, you see," began the Marquis, frowning at the ceiling harder
than ever, and flicking open his snuff-box, "you see--speaking for
myself, of course, I say speaking for myself, I--hum!--the fact
is--ha!--that is to say--oh, dooce take it!" And, in his distress, he
actually inhaled a pinch of snuff and immediately fell a-sneezing,
with a muffled curse after every sneeze.

"Sirs," said Barnabas, "I think you'd better go. You will be
less--conspicuous. Indeed, you'd better go."

"Go?" repeated the Viscount, rising suddenly. "Go, is it? No, damme
if we do! If you are John Barty's son, you are still my friend,
and--there's my hand--Barnabas."

"Mine--too!" sneezed the Marquis, "'s soon as I've got over
the--'ffects of this s-snuff--with a curse to it!"

"Oh Dick!" said Barnabas, his head drooping, "Marquis--"

"Name's Bob to--my friends!" gasped the Marquis from behind his
handkerchief. "Oh, damn this snuff!"

"Why, Bev," said the Viscount, "don't take it so much to heart, man.
Deuced unpleasant, of course, but it'll all blow over, y' know. A
week from now and they'll all come crawling back, y' know, if you
only have the courage to outface 'em. And we are with him--aren't we,
Jerny?"

"Of course!" answered the Marquis, "dooce take me--yes! So would
poor old Sling have been."

"Sirs," said Barnabas, reaching out and grasping a hand of each,
"with your friendship to hearten me--all things are possible--even
this!"

But here a waiter appeared bearing a tray, and on the tray a letter;
he was a young waiter, a very knowing waiter, hence his demeanor
towards Barnabas had already undergone a subtle change--he stared at
Barnabas with inquisitive eyes and even forgot to bow until--observing
the Viscount's eye and the Marquis's chin, his back became immediately
subservient and he tendered Barnabas the letter with a profound
obeisance.

With a murmured apology Barnabas took it and, breaking the seal,
read these words in Cleone's writing:

   "You have destroyed my faith, and with my faith all else. Farewell."

Then Barnabas laughed, sudden and sharp, and tore the paper across
and across, and dropping the pieces to the floor, set his foot upon
them.

"Friends," said he, "my future is decided for me. I thank you deeply,
deeply for your brave friendship--your noble loyalty, but the fiat
has gone forth. To-night I leave the World of Fashion for one better
suited to my birth, for it seems I should be only an amateur
gentleman, as it were, after all. My Lords, your most obedient,
humble servant,--good-by!"

So Barnabas bowed to each in turn and went forth from the scene of
his triumph, deliberate of step and with head carried high as became
a conqueror.

And thus the star of Barnabas Beverley, Esquire, waxed and waned and
vanished utterly from the Fashionable Firmament, and, in time, came
to be regarded as only a comet, after all.



CHAPTER LXIII


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS HEARD THE TICKING OF A CLOCK

It was a dark night, the moon obscured as yet by a wrack of flying
cloud, for a wind was abroad, a rising wind that blew in fitful gusts;
a boisterous, blustering, bullying wind that met the traveller at
sudden corners to choke and buffet him and so was gone, roaring away
among roofs and chimneys, rattling windows and lattices,
extinguishing flickering lamps, and filling the dark with stir and
tumult.

But Barnabas strode on heedless and deaf to it all. Headlong he went,
his cloak fluttering, his head stooped low, hearing nothing, seeing
nothing, taking no thought of time or direction, or of his ruined
career, since none of these were in his mind, but only the words of
Cleone's letter.

And slowly a great anger came upon him with a cold and bitter scorn
of her that cast out sorrow; thus, as he went, he laughed suddenly,
--a shrill laugh that rose above the howl of the wind, that grew
even wilder and louder until he was forced to stop and lean against
an iron railing close by.

"An Amateur Gentleman!" he gasped, "An Amateur Gentleman! Oh, fool!
fool!" And once again the fierce laughter shook him in its grip and,
passing, left him weak and breathless.

Through some rift in the clouds, the moon cast a fugitive beam and
thus he found himself looking down into a deep and narrow area where
a flight of damp, stone steps led down to a gloomy door; and beside
the door was a window, and the window was open.

Now as he gazed, the area, and the damp steps, and the gloomy door
all seemed familiar; therefore he stepped back, and gazing up, saw a
high, flat-fronted house, surely that same unlovely house at whose
brass-knockered front door Captain Slingsby of the Guards had once
stood and rapped with trembling hand.

The place was very silent, and very dark, save for one window where
burned a dim light, and, moved by sudden impulse, Barnabas strode
forward and, mounting the two steps, seized the knocker; but, even
as he did so the door moved. Slowly, slowly it opened, swinging back
on noiseless hinges, wider and wider until Barnabas could look into
the dimness of the unlighted hall beyond. Then, while he yet stood
hesitating, he heard a sound, very faint and sweet, like the chime
of fairy bells, and from the dark a face peered forth, a face drawn,
and lined, and ghastly pale, whose staring eyes were wide with horror.

"You!" said a voice, speaking in a harsh whisper, "is it you? Alas,
Barnaby Bright! what would you--here? Go away! Go away! Here is an
evil place, a place of sin, and horror, and blood--go away! go away!"

"But," said Barnabas, "I wish to see--"

"Oh, Barnaby Bright,--hear me! Did I not tell you he was marked for
destruction, that evil begetteth evil, and the sword, the sword? I
have watched, and watched, and to-night my watch is ended! Go away!
Go away!"

"What is it? what do you mean?" demanded Barnabas.

With his eyes still fixed and staring, and without turning his head,
Billy Button raised one hand to point with a rigid finger at the wall,
just within the doorway.

"Look!" he whispered.

Then, glancing where he pointed, Barnabas saw a mark upon the
panelling--a blur like the shadow of a hand; but even as he stared
at it, Billy Button, shuddering, passed his sleeve across it and lo!
it was gone!

"Oh, Barnaby Bright!" he whispered, "there is a shadow upon this
place, as black as death, even as I told you--flee from the shadow,
--come away! come away!"

As he breathed the words, the madman sprang past him down the steps,
tossed up his long arms towards the moon with a wild, imploring
gesture, and turning, scudded away on his naked, silent feet.

Now after a while Barnabas stepped into the gloomy hall and stood
listening; the house was very silent, only upon the stillness he
could hear the loud, deliberate tick of the wizen-faced clock upon
the stairs, and, as he stood there, it seemed to him that to-night
it was trying to tell him something. Barnabas shivered suddenly and
drew his long cloak about him, then, closing the door, took a step
along the dark hall, yet paused to listen again, for now it seemed
to him that the tick of the clock was louder than ever.

"Go--back! Go--back!"

Could that be what it meant? Barnabas raised a hand to his brow and,
though he still shivered, felt it suddenly moist and clammy. Then,
clenching his teeth, he crept forward, guiding himself by the wall;
yet as he went, above the shuffle of his feet, above the rustle of
his cloak against the panelling, he could hear the tick of the
clock--ever louder, ever more insistent:

"Go--back! Go--back!"

He reached the stairs at last and, groping for the banister, began
to ascend slowly and cautiously, often pausing to listen, and to
stare into the darkness before and behind. On he went and up, past
the wizen-faced clock, and so reached the upper hall at the further
end of which was the dim light that shone from behind a half-closed
door.

Being come to the door, Barnabas lifted his hand to knock, yet stood
again hesitating, his chin on his shoulder, his eyes searching the
darkness behind him, whence came the slow, solemn ticking of the
clock:

"Come--back! Come--back!"

For a long moment he  stood thus, then, quick and sudden, he threw
wide the door and stepped into the room.

A candle flared and guttered upon the mantel, and by this flickering
light he saw an overturned chair, and, beyond that, a litter of
scattered papers and documents and, beyond that again, Jasper Gaunt
seated at his desk in the corner. He was lolling back in his chair
like one asleep, and yet--was this sleep?

Something in his attitude, something in the appalling stillness of
that lolling figure, something in the utter quiet of the whole place,
filled Barnabas with a nameless, growing horror. He took a step
nearer, another, and another--then stopped and, uttering a choking
gasp, fell back to the wall and leaned there suddenly faint and sick.
For, indeed, this was more than sleep. Jasper Gaunt lolled there, a
horrid, bedabbled thing, with his head at a hideous angle and the
dagger, which had been wont to glitter so evilly from the wall,
smitten sideways through his throat.

Barnabas crouched against the wall, his gaze riveted by the dull
gleam of the steel; and upon the silence, now, there crept another
sound soft and regular, a small, dull, plashing sound; and, knowing
what it was, he closed his eyes and the faintness grew upon him. At
length he sighed and, shuddering, lifted his head and moved a
backward step toward the door; thus it was he chanced to see Jasper
Gaunt's right hand--that white, carefully-tended right hand, whose
long, smooth fingers had clenched themselves even tighter in death
than they had done in life. And, in their rigid grasp was something
that struck Barnabas motionless; that brought him back slowly,
slowly across that awful room to sink upon one knee above that pale,
clenched hand, while, sweating, shuddering with loathing, he forced
open those stiffening fingers and drew from their dead clutch
something that he stared at with dilating eyes, and with white lips
suddenly compressed, ere he hid it away in his pocket.

Then, shivering, he arose and backed away, feeling behind him for
the door, and so passed out into the passage and down the stairs,
but always with his pale face turned toward the dim-lit room where
Jasper Gaunt lolled in his chair, a bedabbled, wide-eyed thing of
horror, staring up at the dingy ceiling.

Thus, moving ever backwards, Barnabas came to the front door, felt
for the catch, but, with his hand upon it, paused once more to listen;
yet heard only the thick beating of his own heart, and the loud,
deliberate ticking of the wizen-faced clock upon the stairs. And now,
as he hearkened, it seemed to him that it spoke no more but had
taken on a new and more awful sound; for now its slow, rhythmic beat
was hatefully like another sound, a soft sound and regular, a small,
dull, plashing sound,--the awful tap! tap! tap! of great,
slow-falling drops of blood.



CHAPTER LXIV


WHICH SHOWS SOMETHING OF THE HORRORS OF REMORSE

With this dreadful sound in his ears, Barnabas hurried away from
that place of horror; but ever the sound pursued him, it echoed in
his step, it panted in his quickened breathing, it throbbed in the
pulsing of his heart. Wherever he looked, there always was Jasper
Gaunt lolling in his chair with his head dangling at its horrible
angle,--the very night was full of him.

Hot-foot went Barnabas, by dingy streets and silent houses, and with
his chin now on one shoulder, now on the other; and thus, he
presently found himself before a certain door and, remembering its
faulty catch, tried it but found it fast. Therefore he knocked,
softly at first, but louder and louder until at length the door was
plucked suddenly open and a woman appeared, a slatternly creature
who bore a candle none too steadily.

"Now then, owdacious," she began, somewhat slurring of speech.
"What d'ye want--this time o' night--knocking at 'spectable door of
a person?"

"Is Mr. Barrymaine in?"

"Mist' Barrymaine?" repeated the woman, scattering grease-spots as
she raised the candle in her unsteady hand, "what d'ye wan' this
time o'--"

Here, becoming aware of the magnificence of the visitor's attire,
she dropped Barnabas a floundering curtsy and showered the step with
grease-spots.

"Can I see Mr. Barrymaine?"

"Yes, sir--this way, sir, an' min' the step, sir. See Mist'
Barrymaine, yes, sir, firs' floor--an' would you be so good as to ax
'im to keep 'is feet still, or, as you might say, 'is trotters, sir--"

"His feet?"

"Also 'is legs, sir, if you'd be so very obleeging, sir."

"What do you mean?"

"Come an' listen, sir!" So saying, the woman opened a door and stood
with a finger pointing unsteadily upwards. "Been a-doing of it ever
since 'e came in a hour ago. It ain't loud, p'r'aps, but it's
worriting--very worriting. If 'e wants to dance 'e might move about a
bit 'stead o' keeping in one place all the time--'ark!" And she
pointed with her quavering finger to a certain part of the ceiling
whence came the tramp! tramp! of restless feet; and yet the feet
never moved away.

"I'll go up!" said Barnabas, and, nodding to the slatternly woman,
he hurried along the passage and mounting the dark stair, paused
before a dingy door. Now, setting his ear to the panel, he heard a
sound--a muffled sound, hoarse but continuous, ever and anon rising
to a wail only to sink again, yet never quite ceasing. Then, feeling
the door yield to his hand, Barnabas opened it and, stepping softly
into the room, closed it behind him.

The place was very dark, except where the moon sent a fugitive beam
through the uncurtained window, and face downward across this pale
light lay a huddled figure from whose unseen lips the sounds
issued--long, awful, gasping sobs; a figure that stirred and writhed
like one in torment, whose clenched hands beat themselves upon the
frayed carpet, while, between the sobbing and the beat of those
clenched hands, came broken prayers intermingled with oaths and
moaning protestations.

Barnabas drew a step nearer, and, on the instant, the grovelling
figure started up to an elbow; thus, stooping down, Barnabas looked
into the haggard face of Ronald Barrymaine.

"Beverley!" he gasped, "w-what d'you want? Go away,--l-leave me!"

"No!" said Barnabas, "it is you who must go away--at once. You must
leave London to-night!"

"W-what d' you mean?"

"You must be clear of England by to-morrow night at latest."

Barrymaine stared up at Barnabas wide-eyed and passed his tongue to
and fro across his lips before he spoke again:

"Beverley, w-what d' you--mean?"

"I know why you keep your right hand hidden!" said Barnabas.

Barrymaine shivered suddenly, but his fixed stare never wavered, only,
as he crouched there, striving to speak yet finding no voice, upon
his furrowed brow and pallid cheek ran glittering lines of sweat. At
last he contrived to speak again, but in a whisper now:

"W-what do you mean?"

"I mean that tonight I found this scrap of cloth, and I recognized
it as part of the cuff of your sleeve, and I found it clenched in
Jasper Gaunt's dead hand."

With a hoarse, gasping cry Barrymaine cast himself face down upon
the floor again and writhed there like one in agony.

"I d-didn't mean to--oh, God! I never m-meant it!" he groaned and,
starting to his knees, he caught at Barnabas with wild, imploring
hands: "Oh, Beverley, I s-swear to you I n-never meant to do it.
I went there tonight to l-learn the truth, and he th-threatened
me--threatened me, I tell you, s-so we fought and he was s-strong
and swung me against the w-wall. And then, Beverley--as we
s-struggled--somehow I g-got hold of--of the dagger and struck at
him--b-blindly. And--oh, my God, Beverley--I shall never forget how
he--ch-choked! I can hear it now! But I didn't mean to--do it. Oh, I
s-swear I never meant it, Beverley--s-so help me, God!"

"But he is dead," said Barnabas, "and now--"

"Y-you won't give me up, Beverley?" cried Barrymaine, clinging to
his knees. "I wronged you, I know--n-now, but don't g-give me up.
I'm not afraid to d-die like a g-gentleman should, but--the
gallows--oh, my God!"

"No, you must be saved--from that!"

"Ah--w-will you help me?"

"That is why I came."

"W-what must I do?"

"Start for Dover--to-night."

"Yes--yes, Dover. B-but I have no money."

"Here are twenty guineas, they will help you well on your way. When
they are gone you shall have more."

"Beverley, I--wronged you, but I know now who my c-creditor really
is--I know who has been m-my enemy all along--oh, blind f-fool that
I've been,--but I know--now. And I think it's t-turned my brain.
Beverley,--my head's all confused--wish D-Dig were here. But I shall
be better s-soon. It was D-Dover you said, I think?"

"Yes,--but now, take off that coat."

"B-but it's the only one I've got!"

"You shall have mine," said Barnabas and, throwing aside his cloak,
he stripped off that marvellous garment (whose flattened revers were
never to become the vogue, after all), and laid it upon the table
beside Barrymaine who seemed as he leaned there to be shaken by
strange twitchings and tremblings.

"Oh, Beverley," he muttered, "it would have been a good th-thing for
me if somebody had s-strangled me at birth. No!--d-don't light the
candle!" he cried suddenly, for Barnabas had sought and found the
tinder-box, "don't! d-don't!"

But Barnabas struck and the tinder caught, then, as the light came,
Barrymaine shrank away and away, and, crouching against the wall,
stared down at himself, at his right sleeve ripped and torn, and at
certain marks that spattered and stained him, here and there, awful
marks much darker than the cloth. Now as he looked, a great horror
seemed to come upon him, he trembled violently and, stumbling forward,
sank upon his knees beside the table, hiding his sweating face
between his arms. And, kneeling thus, he uttered soft, strange,
unintelligible noises and the table shook and quivered under him.

"Come, you must take off that coat!"

Very slowly Barrymaine lifted his heavy head and looked at Barnabas
with dilating eyes and with his mouth strangely drawn and twisted.

"Oh, Beverley!" he whispered, "I--I think I'm--"

"You must give me that coat!" persisted Barnabas.

Still upon his knees, Barrymaine began to fumble at the buttons of
that stained, betraying garment but, all at once, his fingers seemed
to grow uncertain, they groped aimlessly, fell away, and he spoke in
a hoarse whisper, while upon his lip was something white, like foam.

"I--oh I--Beverley, I--c-can't!"

And now, all at once, as they stared into each other's eyes,
Barnabas leaning forward, strong and compelling, Barrymaine upon his
knees clinging weakly to the table, sudden and sharp upon the
stillness broke a sound--an ominous sound, the stumble of a foot
that mounted the stair.

Uttering a broken cry Barrymaine struggled up to his feet, strove
desperately to speak, his distorted mouth flecked with foam, and
beating the air with frantic hands pitched over and thudded to the
floor.

Then the door opened and Mr. Smivvle appeared who, calling upon
Barrymaine's name, ran forward and fell upon his knees beside that
convulsed and twisted figure.

"My God, Beverley!" he cried, "how comes he like this--what has
happened?"

"Are you his friend?"

"Yes, yes, his friend--certainly! Haven't I told you the hand of a
Smivvle, sir--"

"Tonight he killed Jasper Gaunt."

"Eh? Killed? Killed him?"

"Murdered him--though I think more by accident than design."

"Killed him! Murdered him!"

"Yes. Pull yourself together and listen. Tomorrow the hue and cry
will be all over London, we must get him away--out of the country if
possible."

"Yes, yes--of course! But he's ill--a fit, I think."

"Have you ever seen him so before?"

"Never so bad as this. There, Barry, there, my poor fellow! Help me
to get him on the couch, will you, Beverley?"

Between them they raised that twitching form; then, as Mr. Smivvle
stooped to set a cushion beneath the restless head, he started
suddenly back, staring wide-eyed and pointing with a shaking finger.

"My God!" he whispered, "what's that? Look--look at his coat."

"Yes," said Barnabas, "we must have it off."

"No, no--it's too awful!" whimpered Mr. Smivvle, shrinking away,
"see--it's--it's all down the front!"

"If this coat is ever found, it will hang him!" said Barnabas.
"Come, help me to get it off."

So between them it was done; thereafter, while Mr. Smivvle crouched
beside that restless, muttering form, Barnabas put on his cloak and,
rolling up the torn coat, hid it beneath its ample folds.

"What, are you going, Beverley?"

"Yes--for one thing to get rid of this coat. On the table are twenty
guineas, take them, and just so soon as Barrymaine is fit to travel,
get him away, but above all, don't--"

"Who is it?" cried Barrymaine suddenly, starting up and peering
wildly over his shoulder, "w-who is it? Oh, I t-tell you there's
s-somebody behind me--who is it?"

"Nobody, Barry--not a soul, my poor boy, compose yourself!" But,
even as Mr. Smivvle spoke, Barrymaine fell back and lay moaning
fitfully and with half-closed eyes. "Indeed I fear he is very ill,
Beverley!"

"If he isn't better by morning, get a doctor," said Barnabas,
"but, whatever you do--keep Chichester away from him. As regards
money I'll see you shan't want for it. And now, for the present,
good-by!"

So saying, Barnabas caught up his hat and, with a last glance at the
moaning figure on the couch, went from the room and down the stairs,
and let himself out into the dingy street.



CHAPTER LXV


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS DISCHARGED HIS VALET

It was long past midnight when Barnabas reached his house in St.
James's Square; and gazing up at its goodly exterior he sighed, and
thereafter frowned, and so, frowning still, let himself in. Now,
late though the hour, Peterby was up, and met him in the hall.

"Sir," said he, anxious of eye as he beheld his young master's
disordered dress and the grim pallor of his face, "the Marquis of
Jerningham and Viscount Devenham called. They waited for you,--they
waited over an hour."

"But they are gone now, of course?" inquired Barnabas, pausing, with
his foot on the stair.

"Yes, sir--"

"Good!" nodded Barnabas with a sigh of relief.

"But they left word they would call to-morrow morning, early; indeed
they seemed most anxious to see you, sir."

"Ha!" said Barnabas, and, frowning still, went on up the stair.

"Sir," said Peterby, lighting the way into the dressing-room,
"you received the--the letter safely?"

"Yes, I received it," said Barnabas, tossing aside his hat and cloak,
"and that reminds me,--to-morrow morning you will discharge all the
servants."

"Sir?"

"Pay them a month's wages. Also you will get rid of this house and
furniture, and all the carriages and horses--except 'The Terror,'
--sell them for what they will fetch--no matter how little,
only--get rid of them."

"Yes, sir."

"As for yourself, Peterby, I shall require your services no longer.
But you needn't lack for a position--every dandy of 'em all will be
wild to get you. And, because you are the very best valet in the
world, you can demand your own terms."

"Yes, sir."

"And now, I think that is all, I shan't want you again tonight--stay
though, before I go to bed bring me the things I wore when I first
met you, the garments which as clothes, you told me, didn't exist."

"Sir, may I ask you a question?"

"Oh, yes--if you wish," sighed Barnabas, wearily.

"Are you leaving London, sir?"

"I'm leaving the World of Fashion--yes."

"And you--don't wish me to accompany you, sir."

"No."

"Have I--displeased you in any way?"

"No, it is only that the 'best valet in the world' would be wasted
on me any longer, and I shall not need you where I am going."

"Not as a--servant, sir?"

"No."

"Then, sir, may I remind you that I am also a--man? A man who owes
all that he is to your generosity and noble trust and faith. And, sir,
it seems to me that a man may sometimes venture where a servant may
not--if you are indeed done with the Fashionable World, I have done
with it also, for I shall never serve any other than you."

Then Barnabas turned away and coming to the mantel leaned there,
staring blankly down at the empty hearth; and in a while he spoke,
though without looking up:

"The Fashionable World has turned its polite back upon me, Peterby,
because I am only the son of a village inn-keeper. But--much more
than this--my lady has--has lost her faith in me, my fool's dream
is over--nothing matters any more. And so I am going away to a place
I have heard described by a pedler of books as 'the worst place in
the world'--and indeed I think it is."

"Sir," said Peterby, "when do we start?"

Then, very slowly, Barnabas lifted his heavy head and looked at John
Peterby; and, in that dark hour, smiled, and reaching out, caught
and grasped his hand; also, when he spoke again, his voice was less
hard and not so steady as before:

"Oh, John!" said he, "John Peterby--my faithful John! Come with me
if you will, but you come as my--friend."

"And--where are we going, sir?" inquired John, as they stood thus,
hand in hand, looking into each other's eyes.

"To Giles's Rents, John,--down by the River."

And thus did Barnabas, in getting rid of the "best valet in the world,"
find for himself a faithful friend instead.



CHAPTER LXVI


OF CERTAIN CON-CLUSIONS DRAWN BY MR. SHRIG

Number Five St. James's Square was to let; its many windows were
blank and shuttered, its portal, which scarcely a week ago had been
besieged by Fashion, was barred and bolted, the Gentleman-in-Powder
had vanished quite, and with him the glory of Number Five St.
James's Square had departed utterly.

Barnabas paused to let his gaze wander over it, from roof to pavement,
then, smiling a little bitterly, buried his chin in the folds of his
belcher neckerchief and thrusting his hands deep into his pockets,
turned and went his way.

And as he went, smiling still, and still a little bitterly, he needs
must remember and vaguely wonder what had become of all that Polite
notepaper, and all those Fashionable cards, embossed, gilt-edged,
and otherwise, that had been wont to pour upon him every morning,
and which had so rejoiced the highly susceptible and eloquent legs
of the Gentleman-in-Powder.

Evening was falling and the square seemed deserted save for a
solitary man in a neckcloth of vivid hue, a dejected-looking man who
lounged against the wall under the shade of the trees in the middle
of the square, and seemed lost in contemplation of his boots. And
yet when Barnabas, having traversed Charles Street and turned into
the Haymarket, chanced to look back, he saw that the man was
lounging dejectedly after him. Therefore Barnabas quickened his steps,
and, reaching the crowded Strand, hurried on through the bustling
throng; but just beyond Temple Bar, caught a glimpse of the vivid
neckcloth on the opposite side of the road. Up Chancery Lane and
across Holborn went Barnabas, yet, as he turned down Leather Lane,
there, sure enough, was the man in the neckcloth as dejected as ever,
but not twelve yards behind.

Half-way down crowded Leather Lane Barnabas turned off down a less
frequented street and halting just beyond the corner, waited for his
pursuer to come up. And presently round the corner he came and, in
his hurry, very nearly stumbled over Barnabas, who promptly reached
out a long arm and pinned him by the vivid neckcloth.

"Why do you follow me?" he demanded.

"Foller you?" repeated the man.

"You have been following me all the way."

"Have I?" said the man.

"You know you have. Come, what do you want?"

"Well, first," said the man, sighing dejectedly, "leggo my neck,
will ye be so kind?"

"Not till you tell me why you follow me."

"Why, then," said the man, "listen and I'll tell ye."

"Well?" demanded Barnabas.

But, all at once, and quick as a flash, with a wrench and a cunning
twist, the man had broken away and, taking to his heels, darted off
down the street and was gone.

For a moment Barnabas stood hesitating, undecided whether to go on
to Barrymaine's lodging or no, and finally struck off in the
opposite direction, towards Gray's Inn Lane and so by devious ways
eventually arrived at the back door of the "Gun," on which he
forthwith knocked.

It was opened, almost immediately, by Corporal Richard Roe himself,
who stared a moment, smiled, and thereupon extended a huge hand.

"What, is it you, sir?" he exclaimed, "for a moment I didn't know ye.
Step in, sir, step in, we're proud to see ye."

So saying, he ushered Barnabas down two steps into the small but
very snug chamber that he remembered, with its rows upon rows of
shelves whereon a whole regiment of bottles and glasses were drawn
up in neat array, "dressed" and marshalled as if on parade; it was
indeed a place of superlative tidiness where everything seemed to be
in a perpetual state of neatness and order.

In a great elbow chair beside the ingle, with a cushion at his back
and another beneath one foot, sat Mr. Shrig puffing at a pipe and
with his little reader open on the table at his elbow. He looked a
little thinner and paler than usual, and Barnabas noticed that one
leg was swathed in bandages, but his smile was as innocent and
guileless and his clasp as warm as ever as they greeted each other.

"You must ax-cuse me rising, sir," said he, "the sperrit is villing
but natur' forbids, it can't be done on account o' this here leg o'
mine,--a slug through the stamper, d' ye see, vich is bad enough,
though better than it might ha' been. But it vere a good night on
the whole,--thanks to you and the Corp 'ere, I got the whole gang,
--though, from conclusions as I'd drawed I'ad 'oped to get--vell,
shall ve say Number Two? But Fate was ag'in me. Still, I don't
complain, and the vay you fought 'em off till the Corp and my
specials come up vas a vonder!"

"Ah! that it were!" nodded the Corporal.

"Though 'ow you wanished yourself avay, and v'ere you wanished to,
is more vonderful still."

"Ah, that it is, sir!" nodded the Corporal again.

"Why," explained Barnabas, "I was stunned by a blow on the head, and
when I came to, found myself lying out on the wharf behind a broken
boat. I should have come round here days ago to inquire how you were,
Mr. Shrig, only that my time has been--much occupied--of late."

"Veil, sir," said Mr. Shrig, puffing hard at his pipe, "from all
accounts I should reckon as it 'ad. By Goles! but ve vas jest
talking about you, sir, the werry i-dentical moment as you knocked
at the door. I vas jest running over my little reader and telling
the Corp the v'y and the v'erefore as you couldn't ha' done the deed."

"What deed?"

"V'y--_the_ deed. The deed as all London is a-talking of,--the
murder o' Jasper Gaunt, the money-lender."

"Ah!" said Barnabas thoughtfully. "And so you are quite sure that
I--didn't murder Jasper Gaunt, are you. Mr. Shrig?"

"Quite--oh, Lord love you, yes!"

"And why?"

"Because," said Mr. Shrig with his guileless smile, and puffing out
a cloud of smoke and watching it vanish ceilingwards, "because I
'appen to know 'oo did."

"Oh!" said Barnabas more thoughtfully than ever. "And who do you
think it is?"

"Vell, sir," answered Mr. Shrig ponderously, "from conclusions as
I've drawed I don't feel at liberty to name no names nor yet cast no
insinivations, but--v'en the other traps (sich werry smart coves too!)
'ave been and gone an' arrested all the innercent parties in London,
v'y then I shall put my castor on my napper, and take my tickler in
my fib and go and lay my 'ooks on the guilty party."

"And when will that be?"

"Jest so soon as my leg sarves me, sir,--say a veek,--say, two."

"You're in no hurry then?"

"Lord, no, sir, I'm never in an 'urry."

"And you say you think you know who the murderer is?"

"V-y no, sir,--from conclusions as I've drawed I'm sure and sartin
'oo did the deed. But come, sir, vot do you say to a glass o' the
Vun and Only, to drink a quick despatch to the guilty party?"

But the clock striking eight, Barnabas shook his head and rose.

"Thank you, but I must be going," said he.

"V'y if you must, you must," sighed Mr. Shrig as they shook hands;
"good evening, sir, an' if anything unpleasant should 'appen to you
in the next day or two--jest tip me the vord."

"What do you mean by unpleasant, Mr. Shrig?"

"Vell, took up p'r'aps, or shall ve say--arrested,--by some o' the
other traps--sich werry smart coves, too!"

"Do you think it likely, Mr. Shrig?"

"Vell, sir," said Mr. Shrig, with his placid smile, "there's some
traps as is so uncommon smart that they've got an 'abit of arresting
innercent parties verever found, d'ye see. But if they should 'appen
to lay their 'ooks on ye, jest tip me the office, sir."

"Thank you," said Barnabas, "I shan't forget," and, with a final nod
to Mr. Shrig, turned and followed the Corporal into Gray's Inn Lane.

Now when Barnabas would have gone his way the Corporal stayed him
with a very large but very gentle hand, and thereafter stood,
rubbing his shaven chin with his shining hook and seeming very much
abashed.

"What is it, Corporal?" Barnabas inquired.

"Well, sir," said the soldier diffidently, "it's like this, sir, my
pal Jarsper and me, 'aving heard of--of your--altered circumstances,
sir, wishes it to be understood as once your pals, ever your pals,
come shine, come rain. We likewise wish it to be understood as if at
any time a--a guinea would come in 'andy-like, sir--or say two or
three, my pal Jarsper and me will be proud to oblige, proud, sir.
And lastly, sir, my pal Jarsper and me would 'ave you to know as if
at any time you want a friend to your back, there's me and there's
'im--or a roof to your 'ead, why there's ever and always the 'Gun'
open to you, sir. We wishes you to understand this and--good evening,
sir!"

But, or ever the blushing Corporal could escape, Barnabas caught and
wrung his hand:

"And I, Corporal," said he, "I wish you both to know that I am proud
to have won two such staunch friends, and that I shall always esteem
it an honor to ask your aid or take your hands,--good night, Corporal!"

So saying, Barnabas turned upon his heel, and as he went his step
was free and his eye brighter than it had been.

He took an intricate course by winding alleys and narrow side-streets,
keeping his glance well about him until at length he came to a
certain door in a certain dingy street,--and, finding the faulty
latch yield to his hand, entered a narrow, dingy hall and groped his
way up the dingiest stairs in the world.

Now all at once he fancied he heard a stealthy footstep that climbed
on in the darkness before him, and he paused suddenly, but, hearing
nothing, strode on, then stopped again for, plain enough this time,
some one stumbled on the stair above him. So he stood there in the
gloom, very still and very silent, and thus he presently heard
another sound, very soft and faint like the breathing of a sigh. And
all at once Barnabas clenched his teeth and spoke.

"Who is it?" he demanded fiercely, "now, by God--if it's you,
Chichester--" and with the word, he reached out before him in the
dark with merciless, griping hands.

The contact of something warm and soft; a broken, pitiful cry of fear,
and he had a woman in his arms. And, even as he clasped that
yielding form, Barnabas knew instinctively who it was, and
straightway thrilled with a wild joy.

"Madam!" he said hoarsely. "Madam!"

But she never stirred, nay it almost seemed she sank yet closer into
his embrace, if that could well be.

"Cleone!" he whispered.

"Barnabas," sighed a voice; and surely no other voice in all the
world could have uttered the word so tenderly.

"I--I fear I frightened you?"

"Yes, a little--Barnabas."

"You are--trembling very much."

"Am I--Barnabas?"

"I am sorry that I--frightened you."

"I'm better now."

"Yet you--tremble!"

"But I--think I can walk if--"

"If--?"

"If you will help me, please--Barnabas."

Oh, surely never had those dark and dingy stairs, worn though they
were by the tread of countless feet, heard till now a voice so soft,
so low and sweet, so altogether irresistible! Such tender, thrilling
tones might have tamed Hyrcanean tigers or charmed the ferocity of
Cerberus himself. Then how might our Barnabas hope to resist, the
more especially as one arm yet encircled the yielding softness of
her slender waist and her fragrant breath was upon his cheek?

Help her? Of course he would.

"It's so very--dark," she sighed.

"Yes, it's very dark," said Barnabas, "but it isn't far to the
landing--shall we go up?"

"Yes, but--" my lady hesitated a moment as one who takes breath for
some great effort, and, in that moment, he felt her bosom heave
beneath his hand. "Oh, Barnabas," she whispered, "won't you--kiss
me--first?"

Then Barnabas trembled in his turn, the arm about her grew suddenly
rigid and, when he spoke, his voice was harsh and strained.

"Madam," said he, "can the mere kiss of an--inn-keeper's son restore
your dead faith?"

Now when he had said this, Cleone shrank in his embrace and uttered
a loud cry as if he had offered her some great wrong, and, breaking
from him, was gone before him up the stair, running in the dark.

Oh, Youth! Oh, Pride!

So Barnabas hurried after her and thus, as she threw open
Barrymaine's door he entered with her and, in his sudden abasement,
would have knelt to her, but Ronald Barrymaine had sprung up from
the couch and now leaned there, staring with dazed eyes like one new
wakened from sleep.

"Ronald," she cried, running to him, "I came as soon as I could, but
I didn't understand your letter. You wrote of some great danger. Oh,
Ronald dear, what is it--this time?"

"D-danger!" he repeated, and with the word, turned to stare over his
shoulder into the dingiest corner: "d-danger, yes, so I am,--but
t-tell me who it is--behind me, in the corner?"

"No one, Ronald."

"Yes--yes there is, I tell you," he whispered, "look again--now,
d-don't you see him?"

"No, oh no!" answered Cleone, clasping her hands, and shrinking
before Barrymaine's wild and haggard look. "Oh, Ronald, there's--no
one there!"

"Yes there is, he's always there now--always just behind me. Last
night he began to talk to me--ah, no, no--what am I saying? never
heed me, Clo. I--I asked you to come because I'm g-going away, soon,
very s-soon, Clo, and I know I shall n-never see you again. I suppose
you thought it was m-money I wanted, but no--it's not that, I wanted
to say good-by because you see I'm g-going away--to-night!"

"Going away, Ronald?" she repeated, sinking to her knees beside the
rickety couch, for he had fallen back there as though overcome by
sudden weakness. "Dear boy, where are you going--and why?"

"I'm g-going far away--because I must--the s-sooner the better!" he
whispered, struggling to his elbow to peer into the corner again.
"Yes, the s-sooner the better. But, before I go I want you to
promise--to swear, Clo--to s-swear to me--" Barrymaine sat up
suddenly and, laying his nervous hands upon her shoulders, leaned
down to her in fierce eagerness, "You must s-swear to me n-never to
see or have anything to do with that d-devil, Chichester, d' ye hear
me, Clo, d' ye hear me?"

"But--oh, Ronald, I don't understand, you always told me he was your
friend, I thought--"

"Friend!" cried Barrymaine passionately. "He's a devil, I tell you
he's a d-devil, oh--" Barrymaine choked and fell back gasping; but,
even as Cleone leaned above him all tender solicitude, he pushed her
aside and, springing to his feet, reached out and caught Barnabas by
the arm. "Beverley," he cried, "you'll shield her from him--w-when
I'm gone, you'll l-look after her, won't you, Beverley? She's the
only thing I ever loved--except my accursed self. You will shield
her from--that d-devil!"

Then, still clutching Barnabas, he turned and seized Cleone's hands.

"Clo!" he cried, "dearest of sisters, if ever you need a f-friend
when I'm gone, he's here. Turn to him, Clo--look up--give him your
hand. Y-you loved him once, I think, and you were right--quite
r-right. You can t-trust Beverley, Clo--g-give him your hand."

"No, no!" cried Cleone, and, snatching her fingers from Barrymaine's
clasp, she turned away.

"What--you w-won't?"

"No--never, never!"

"Why not? Answer me! Speak, I tell you!"

But Cleone knelt there beside the couch, her head proudly averted,
uttering no word.

"Why, you don't think, like so many of the fools, that he killed
Jasper Gaunt, do you?" cried Barrymaine feverishly. "You don't think
he d-did it, do you--do you? Ah, but he didn't--he didn't, I tell you,
and I know--because--"

"Stop!" exclaimed Barnabas.

"Stop--no, why should I? She'll learn soon enough now and I'm m-man
enough to tell her myself--I'm no c-coward, I tell you--"

Then Cleone raised her head and looked up at her half-brother, and
in her eyes were a slow-dawning fear and horror.

"Oh, Ronald!" she whispered, "what do you mean?"

"Mean?" cried Barrymaine, "I mean that I did it--I did it. Yes, I
k-killed Jasper Gaunt, but it was no m-murder, Clo--a--a fight, an
accident--yes, I s-swear to God I never meant to do it."

"You!" she whispered, "you?"

"Yes, I--I did it, but I swear I never m-meant to--oh, Cleone--" and
he reached down to her with hands outstretched appealingly. But
Cleone shrank down and down--away from him, until she was crouching
on the floor, yet staring up at him with wide and awful eyes.

"You!" she whispered.

"Don't!" he cried. "Ah, don't look at me like that and oh, my God!
W-won't you l-let me t-touch you, Clo?"

"I--I'd rather you--wouldn't;" and Barnabas saw that she was
shivering violently.

"But it was no m-murder," he pleaded, "and I'm g-going away, Clo--ah!
won't you let me k-kiss you good-by--just once, Clo?"

"I'd rather--you wouldn't," she whispered.

"Y-your hand, then--only your hand, Clo."

"I'd rather--you didn't!"

Then Ronald Barrymaine groaned and fell on his knees beside her and
sought to kiss her little foot, the hem of her dress, a strand of
her long, yellow hair; but seeing how she shuddered away from him, a
great sob broke from him and he rose to his feet.

"Beverley," he said, "oh, Beverley, s-she won't let me touch her."
And so stood a while with his face hidden in his griping hands.
After a moment he looked down at her again, but seeing how she yet
gazed at him with that wide, awful, fixed stare, he strove as if to
speak; then, finding no words, turned suddenly upon his heel and
crossing the room, went into his bed-chamber and locked the door.

Then Barnabas knelt beside that shaken, desolate figure and fain
would have comforted her, but now he could hear her speaking in a
passionate whisper, and the words she uttered were these:

"Oh, God forgive him! Oh, God help him! Have mercy upon him, oh God
of Pity!"

And these words she whispered over and over again until, at length,
Barnabas reached out and touched her very gently.

"Cleone!" he said.

At the touch she rose and stood looking round the dingy room like
one distraught, and, sighing, crossed unsteadily to the door.

And when they reached the stair, Barnabas would have taken her hand
because of the dark, but she shrank away from him and shook her head.

"Sir," said she very softly, "a murderer's sister needs no help, I
thank you."

And so they went down the dark stair with never a word between them
and, reaching the door with the faulty latch, Barnabas held it open
and they passed out into the dingy street, and as they walked side
by side towards Hatton Garden, Barnabas saw that her eyes were still
fixed and wide and that her lips still moved in silent prayer.

In a while, being come into Hatton Garden, Barnabas saw a hackney
coach before them, and beside the coach a burly, blue-clad figure, a
conspicuous figure by reason of his wooden leg and shiny, glazed hat.

"W'y, Lord, Mr. Beverley, sir!" exclaimed the Bo'sun, hurrying
forward, with his hairy fist outstretched, "this is a surprise, sir,
likewise a pleasure, and--" But here, observing my lady's face, he
checked himself suddenly, and opening the carriage door aided her in
very tenderly, beckoning Barnabas to follow. But Barnabas shook his
head.

"Take care of her, Bo'sun," said he, clasping the sailor's hand,
"take great care of her." So saying, he closed the door upon them,
and stood to watch the rumbling coach down the bustling street until
it had rumbled itself quite out of sight.



CHAPTER LXVII


WHICH  GIVES SOME ACCOUNT OF THE WORST PLACE IN THE WORLD

A bad place by day, an evil place by night, an unsavory place at all
times is Giles's Rents, down by the River.

It is a place of noisome courts and alleys, of narrow, crooked
streets, seething with a dense life from fetid cellar to crowded
garret, amid whose grime and squalor the wail of the new-born infant
is echoed by the groan of decrepit age and ravaging disease; where
Vice is rampant and ghoulish Hunger stalks, pale and grim.

Truly an unholy place is Giles's Rents, down by the River.

Here, upon a certain evening, Barnabas, leaning out from his narrow
casement, turned wistful-eyed, to stare away over broken roof and
chimney, away beyond the maze of squalid courts and alleys that
hemmed him in to where, across the River, the sun was setting in a
blaze of glory, yet a glory that served only to make more apparent
all the filth and decay, all the sordid ugliness of his surroundings.

Below him was a dirty court, where dirty children fought and played
together, filling the reeking air with their shrill clamor, while
slatternly women stood gossiping in ragged groups with grimy hands
on hips, or with arms rolled up in dingy aprons. And Barnabas
noticed that the dirty children and gossiping women turned very
often to stare and point up at a certain window a little further
along the court, and he idly wondered why.

It had been a day of stifling heat, and even now, though evening was
at hand, he breathed an air close and heavy and foul with a thousand
impurities.

Now as he leaned there, with his earnest gaze bent ever across the
River, Barnabas sighed, bethinking him of clean, white, country roads,
of murmuring brooks and rills, of the cool green shades of dewy
woods full of the fragrance of hidden flower and herb and sweet,
moist earth. But most of all he bethought him of a certain wayside
inn, an ancient inn of many gables, above whose hospitable door
swung a sign whereon a weather-beaten hound, dim-legged and faded of
tail, pursued a misty blur that by common report was held to be hare;
a comfortable, homely inn of no especial importance perhaps, yet the
very best inn to be found in all broad England, none the less. And,
as he thought, a sudden, great yearning came upon Barnabas and,
leaning his face between his hands, he said within himself:

"'I will arise, and go to my father!'"

But little by little he became aware that the clamor below had
ceased and, glancing down into the court, beheld two men in red
waistcoats, large men, bewhiskered men and square of elbow.
Important men were these, at sight of whom the ragged children stood
awed and silent and round of eye, while the gossiping women drew
back to give them way. Yes, men of consequence they were, beyond a
doubt, and Barnabas noticed that they also stared very often at a
certain window a little further up the court and from it to a third
man who limped along close behind them by means of a very nobbly
stick; a shortish, broadish, mild-looking man whose face was hidden
beneath the shadow of the broad-brimmed hat. Nevertheless at sight
of this man Barnabas uttered an exclamation, drew in his head very
suddenly and thereafter stood, listening and expectant, his gaze on
the door like one who waits to meet the inevitable.

And after a while, he saw the latch raised cautiously, and the door
begin to open very slowly and noiselessly. It had opened thus
perhaps some six inches when he spoke:

"Is that you, Mr. Shrig?"

Immediately the door became stationary and, after some brief pause a
voice issued from behind it, a voice somewhat wheezing and hoarse.

"Which your parding I ax, sir," said the voice, "which your parding
I 'umbly ax, but it ain't, me being a respectable female, sir, name
o' Snummitt, sir--charing, sir, also washing and clear-starching, sir!"

Hereupon, the door having opened to its fullest, Barnabas saw a stout,
middle-aged woman whose naturally unlovely look had been further
marred by the loss of one eye, while the survivor, as though
constantly striving to make amends, was continually rolling itself
up and down and to and fro, in a manner quite astonishing to behold.

"Which my name is Snummitt," she repeated, bobbing a curtsy and
momentarily eclipsing the rolling eye under the poke of a very large
bonnet, "Mrs. Snummitt, sir, which though a widder I'm respectable
and of 'igh character and connections. Which me 'aving only one heye
ain't by no manner of means to be 'eld ag'in me, seeing as it were
took away by a act o' Providence in the shape of another lady's
boot-'eel sixteen summers ago come Michaelmas."

"Indeed," said Barnabas, seeing Mrs. Snummitt had paused for breath,
"but what--"

"Which I were to give you Mr. Bimby's compliments, sir, and ax if
you could oblige him with the loan of a wine-glass?"

"Mr. Bimby?"

"Over-'ead, sir--garret! You may 'ave 'eard 'im, now and then--flute,
sir, 'armonious, though doleful."

"And he wants a wine-glass, does he?" said Barnabas, and forthwith
produced that article from a rickety corner-cupboard and handed it
to Mrs. Snummitt, who took it, glanced inside it, turned it
upside-down, and rolled her eye at Barnabas eloquently.

"What more?" he inquired.

"Which I would mention, sir, or shall we say, 'int, as if you could
put a little drop o' summat inside of it--brandy, say--'t would be
doing a great favor."

"Ah, to be sure!" said Barnabas. And, having poured out a stiff
quantum of the spirit, he gave it to Mrs. Snummit, who took it,
curtsied, and rolling her solitary orb at the bottle on the table,
smiled engagingly.

"Which I would thank you kindly on be'alf o' Mr. Bimby, sir, and,
seeing it upon the tip o' your tongue to ax me to partake, I begs to
say 'Amen,' with a slice o' lemming cut thin, and thank you from my
'eart."

"I fear I have no lemon," began Barnabas.

"Then we won't say no more about it, sir, not a word. 'Evings forbid
as a lemming should come betwixt us seeing as I am that shook on
account o' pore, little Miss Pell."

"Who is Miss Pell?"

"She's one as was, sir, but now--ain't," answered Mrs. Snummitt and,
nodding gloomily, she took down the brandy in three separate and
distinct gulps, closed her eyes, sighed, and nodded her poke bonnet
more gloomily than before. "Little Miss Pell, sir, 'ad a attic three
doors down, sir, and pore little Miss Pell 'as been and gone
and--done it! Which do it I knowed she would."

"Done what?" inquired Barnabas.

"Five long year come shine, come rain, I've knowed pore Miss Pell,
and though small, a real lady she were, but lonesome. Last night as
ever was, she met me on the stairs, and by the same token I 'ad a
scrubbing-brush in one 'and and a bucket in the other, me 'aving
been charing for the first floor front, a 'andsome gent with
whiskers like a lord, and 'oh, Mrs. Snummitt!' she sez and all of a
twitter she was too, 'dear Mrs. Snummitt,' sez she, 'I'm a-going
away on a journey,' she sez, 'but before I go,' she sez, 'I should
like to kiss you good-by, me being so lonesome,' she sez. Which kiss
me she did, sir, and likewise wep' a couple o' big tears over me,
pore soul, and then, run away into 'er dark little attic and locked
'erself in, and--done it!"

"What--what did she do?"

"'Ung 'erself in the cupboard, sir. Kissed me only last night she did
and wep' over me, and now--cold and stiff, pore soul?"

"But why did she do it?" cried Barnabas, aghast.

"Well, there was the lonesomeness and--well, she 'adn't eat anything
for two days it seems, and--"

"You mean that she was hungry--starving?"

"Generally, sir. But things was worse lately on account of 'er heyes
getting weak. 'Mrs. Snummitt,' she used to say, 'my heyes is getting
worse and worse,' she'd say, 'but I shall work as long as I can see
the stitches, and then, Mrs. Snummitt, I must try a change o' scene,'
she used to say with a little shiver like. And I used to wonder
where she'd go, but--I know now, and--well--the Bow Street Runners
'as just gone up to cut the pore soul down."

"And she killed herself--because she was hungry!" said Barnabas,
staring wide-eyed.

"Oh, yes, lots on 'em do, I've knowed three or four as went and
done it, and it's generally hunger as is to blame for it. There's
Mr. Bimby, now, a nice little gent, but doleful like 'is flute, 'e's
always 'ungry 'e is, I'll take my oath--shouldn't wonder if 'e don't
come to it one o' these days. And talking of 'im I must be going, sir,
and thank you kindly, I'm sure."

"Why, then," said Barnabas as she bobbed him another curtsy,
"will you ask Mr. Bimby if he will do me the pleasure to step down
and take supper with me?"

"Which, sir, I will, though Mr. Bimby I won't answer for, 'im being
busy with the pore young man as 'e brought 'ome last night--it's 'im
as the brandy's for. Ye see, sir, though doleful, Mr. Bimby's very
kind 'earted, and 'e's always a-nussing somebody or something--last
time it were a dog with a broke leg--ah, I've knowed 'im bring 'ome
stray cats afore now, many's the time, and once a sparrer. But I'll
tell 'im, sir, and thank you kindly."

And in a while, when Mrs. Snummitt had duly curtsied herself out of
sight, Barnabas sighed, and turned once more to stare away, over
broken roof and crumbling chimney, towards the glory of the sunset.
But now, because he remembered poor little Miss Pell who had died
because she was so friendless and hungry, and Mr. Bimby who was
"always hungry" and played the flute, he stifled his fierce yearning
for dewy wood and copse and the sweet, pure breath of the country,
and thought no more of his father's inn that was so very far from
the sordid grime and suffering of Giles's Rents, down by the River;
and setting the kettle on the fire he sank into a chair and
stretching out his long legs, fell into a profound meditation.

From this he was roused by the opening of the door, and, glancing up,
beheld John Peterby. A very different person he looked from the neat,
well-groomed Peterby of a week ago, what with the rough, ill-fitting
clothes he wore and the fur cap pulled low over his brows; the
gentleman's gentleman had vanished quite, and in his stead was a
nondescript character such as might have been met with anywhere
along the River, or lounging in shadowy corners. He carried a bundle
beneath one arm, and cast a swift look round the room before turning
to see the door behind him.

"Ah," said Barnabas nodding, "I'm glad you're back, John, and with
plenty of provisions I hope, for I'm amazingly hungry, and besides,
I've asked a gentleman to sup with us."

Peterby put down the bundle and, crossing to the hearth, took the
kettle, which was boiling furiously, and set it upon the hob, then
laying aside the fur cap spoke:

"A gentleman, sir?"

"A neighbor, John."

"Sir," said he, as he began to prepare the tea in that swift, silent
manner peculiar to him in all things, "when do you propose we shall
leave this place?"

"Why, to tell you the truth, John, I had almost determined to start
for the country this very night, but, on second thoughts, I've
decided to stay on a while. After all, we have only been here a week
as yet."

"Yes, sir, it is just a week since--Jasper Gaunt was murdered," said
Peterby gently as he stooped to unpack his bundle. Now when he said
this, Barnabas turned to look at him again, and thus he noticed that
Peterby's brow was anxious and careworn.

"I wish, John," said he, "that you would remember we are no longer
master and man."

"Old habits stick, sir."

"And that I brought you to this dismal place as my friend."

"But surely, sir, a man's friend is worthy of his trust and
confidence?"

"John Peterby, what do you mean?"

"Sir," said Peterby, setting down the teapot, "as I came along this
evening, I met Mr. Shrig; he recognized me in spite of my disguise
and he told me to--warn you--"

"Well, John?"

"That you may be arrested--"

"Yes, John?"

"For--the murder of Jasper Gaunt. Oh, sir, why have you aroused
suspicion against yourself by disappearing at such a time?"

"Suspicion?" said Barnabas, and with the word he rose and laying his
hands upon John Peterby's shoulders, looked into his eyes. Then,
seeing the look they held, he smiled and shook his head.

"Oh, friend," said he, "what matters it so long as you know my hands
are clean?"

"But, sir, if you are arrested--"

"They must next prove me guilty, John," said Barnabas, sitting down
at the table.

"Or an accessory--after the fact!"

"Hum!" said Barnabas thoughtfully, "I never thought of that."

"And, sir," continued Peterby anxiously, "there are two Bow Street
Runners lounging outside in the court--"

"But they're not after me yet. So cheer up, John!" Yet in that moment,
Peterby sprang to his feet with fists clenched, for some one was
knocking softly at the door.

"Quick, sir--the other room--hide!" he whispered. But shaking his
head, Barnabas rose and, putting him gently aside, opened the door
and beheld a small gentleman who bowed.

A pale, fragile little gentleman this, with eyes and hair of an
indeterminate color, while his clothes, scrupulously neat and
brushed and precise to a button, showed pitifully shabby and
threadbare in contrast with his elaborately frilled and starched
cravat and gay, though faded, satin waistcoat; and, as he stood
bowing nervously to them, there was an air about him that somehow
gave the impression that he was smaller even than Nature had intended.

"Gentlemen," said he, coughing nervously behind his hand, "hem!--I
trust I don't intrude. Feel it my obligation to pay my respects,
to--hem! to welcome you as a neighbor--as a neighbor. Arthur Bimby,
humbly at your service--Arthur Bimby, once a man of parts though now
brought low by abstractions, gentlemen, forces not apparent to the
human optic, sirs. Still, in my day, I have been known about town as
a downy bird, a smooth file, and a knowing card--hem!"

Hereupon he bowed again, looking as unlike a "smooth file" or
"knowing card" as any small, inoffensive gentleman possibly could.

"Happy to see you, sir," answered Barnabas, returning his bow with
one as deep, "I am Barnabas Barty at your service, and this is my
good friend John Peterby. We are about to have supper--nothing very
much--tea, sir, eggs, and a cold fowl, but if you would honor us--"

"Sir," cried the little gentleman with a quaver of eagerness in his
voice and a gleam in his eye, both quickly suppressed, "hem!--indeed
I thank you, but--regret I have already supped--hem--duck and green
peas, gentlemen, though I'll admit the duck was tough--deuced tough,
hem! Still, if I might be permitted to toy with an egg and discuss a
dish of tea, the honor would be mine, sirs--would be mine!"

Then, while Peterby hastened to set the edibles before him, Barnabas
drew up a chair and, with many bows and flutterings of the thin,
restless hands, the little gentleman sat down.

"Indeed, indeed," he stammered, blinking his pale eyes, "this is
most kind, I protest, most kind and neighborly!" Which said, he
stooped suddenly above his plate and began to eat, that is to say he
swallowed one or two mouthfuls with a nervous haste that was very
like voracity, checked himself, and glancing guiltily from
unconscious Barnabas to equally unconscious Peterby, sighed and
thereafter ate his food as deliberately as might be expected of one
who had lately dined upon duck and green peas.

"Ah!" said he, when at length his hunger was somewhat assuaged,
"you are noticing the patch in my left elbow, sir?"

"No indeed!" began Barnabas.

"I think you were, sir--every one does, every one--it can't be missed,
sir, and I--hem! I'm extreme conscious of it myself, sirs. I really
must discard this old coat, but--hem! I'm attached to it--foolish
sentiment, sirs. I wear it for associations' sake, it awakens memory,
and memory is a blessed thing, sirs, a very blessed thing!"

"Sometimes!" sighed Barnabas.

"In me, sirs, you behold a decayed gentleman, yet one who has lived
in his time, but now, sirs, all that remains to me is--this coat. A
prince once commended it, the Beau himself condescended to notice it!
Yes, sirs, I was rich once and happily married, and my friends were
many. But--my best friend deceived and ruined me, my wife fled away
and left me, sirs, my friends all forsook me and, to-day, all that I
have to remind me of what I was when I was young and lived, is this
old coat. To-day I exist as a law-writer, to-day I am old, and with
my vanished youth hope has vanished too. And I call myself a decayed
gentleman because I'm--fading, sirs. But to fade is genteel;
Brummell faded! Yes, one may fade and still be a gentleman, but who
ever heard of a fading ploughman?"

"Who, indeed?" said Barnabas.

"But to fade, sir," continued the little gentleman, lifting a thin,
bloodless hand, "though genteel, is a slow process and a very weary
one. Without the companionship of Hope, life becomes a hard and
extreme long road to the ultimate end, and therefore I am sometimes
greatly tempted to take the--easier course, the--shorter way."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, sir, there are other names for it, but--hem!--I prefer to
call it 'the shorter way.'"

"Do you mean--suicide?"

"Sir," cried Mr. Bimby, shivering and raising protesting hands,
"I said 'the shorter way.' Poor little Miss Pell--a lady born,
sir--she used to curtsy to me on the stairs, she chose 'the shorter
way.' She also was old, you see, and weary. And to-night I met
another who sought to take this 'shorter way'--but he was young, and
for the young there is always hope. So I brought him home with me
and tried to comfort him, but I fear--"

Peterby sprang suddenly to his feet and Mr. Bimby started and turned
to glance fearfully towards the door which was quivering beneath the
blows of a ponderous fist. Therefore Barnabas rose and crossing the
room, drew the latch. Upon the threshold stood Corporal Richard Roe,
looming gigantic in the narrow doorway, who, having saluted Barnabas
with his shining hook, spoke in his slow, diffident manner.

"Sir," said he, "might I speak a word wi' you?"

"Why, Corporal, I'm glad to see you--come in!"

"Sir," said the big soldier with another motion of his glittering
hook, "might I ax you to step outside wi' me jest a moment?"

"Certainly, Corporal," and with a murmured apology to Mr. Bimby,
Barnabas followed the Corporal out upon the gloomy landing and
closed the door. Now at the further end of the landing was a window,
open to admit the air, and, coming to this window, the Corporal
glanced down stealthily into the court below, beckoning Barnabas to
do the like:

"Sir," said he in a muffled tone, "d' ye see them two coves in the
red weskits?" and he pointed to the two Bow Street Runners who
lounged in the shadow of an adjacent wall, talking together in
rumbling tones and puffing at their pipes.

"Well, Corporal, what of them?"

"Sir, they're a-waiting for you!"

"Are you sure, Corporal? A poor creature committed suicide to-day; I
thought they were here on that account."

"No, sir, that was only a blind, they're a-watching and a-waiting to
take you for the Gaunt murder. My pal Jarsper knows, and my pal
Jarsper sent me here to give you the office to lay low and not to
venture out to-night."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, beginning to frown.

"My pal Jarsper bid me say as you was to keep yourself scarce till
'e's got 'is 'ooks on the guilty party, sir."

"Ah!" said Barnabas, again, "and when does he intend to make the
arrest?"

"This here very night, sir."

"Hum!" said Barnabas thoughtfully.

"And," continued the Corporal, "I were likewise to remind you, sir,
as once your pals, ever and allus your pals. And, sir--good-night,
and good-luck to you!" So saying, the Corporal shook hands,
flourished his hook and strode away down the narrow stairs, smiling
up at Barnabas like a beneficent giant.

And, when he was gone, Barnabas hurried back into the room and,
taking pen and paper, wrote this:

  You are to be arrested to-night, so I send you my friend, John
  Peterby. Trust yourself to his guidance.

    BEVERLEY.

And having folded and sealed this letter, he beckoned to Peterby.

"John," said he, speaking in his ear, "take this letter to Mr. Barrymaine,
give it into his hand, see that he leaves at once. And, John, take a
coach and bring him back with you."

So Peterby the silent thrust the note into his bosom, took his fur
cap, and sighing, went from the room; and a moment later, glancing
cautiously through the window, Barnabas saw him hurry through the
court and vanish round the corner.

Then Barnabas turned back to the table, and seeing how wistfully
Mr. Bimby eyed the teapot, poured him out another cup; and while
they drank together, Mr. Bimby chatted, in his pleasant way, of
bitter wrong, of shattered faith and ideals, of the hopeless
struggle against circumstance, and of the oncoming terror of old age,
bringing with it failing strength and all the horrors of a debtor's
prison. And now, mingled with his pity, Barnabas was conscious of a
growing respect for this pleasant, small gentleman, and began to
understand why a man might seek the "shorter way," yet be no great
coward after all.

So Mr. Bimby chattered on and Barnabas listened until the day
declined to evening; until Barnabas began to hearken for Peterby's
returning footstep on the uncarpeted stair outside. Even in the act
of lighting the candles his ears were acutely on the stretch, and
thus he gradually became aware of another sound, soft and dull, yet
continuous, a sound difficult to locate. But as he stood staring
into the flame of the candle he had just lighted, striving meanwhile
to account for and place this noise, Mr. Bimby rose and lifted a thin,
arresting hand.

"Sir," said he, "do you hear anything?"

"Yes. I was wondering what it could be."

"I think I can tell you, sir," said Mr. Bimby, pointing to a certain
part of the cracked and blackened ceiling; "it is up there, in my
room--listen!"

And now, all at once Barnabas started and caught his breath, for
from the floor above came a soft trampling as of unshod feet, yet
the feet never moved from the one spot.

"Indeed," sighed Mr. Bimby, "I greatly fear my poor young friend is
ill again. I must go up to him, but first--may I beg--"

"Sir," said Barnabas, his gaze still fixed upon a certain corner of
the ceiling, "I should like to go with you, if I may."

"You are very good, sir, very kind, I protest you are," quavered
Mr. Bimby, "and hem! if I might suggest--a little brandy--?" But
even as Barnabas reached for the bottle, there came a hurry of
footsteps on the stair, a hand fumbled at the door and Mr. Smivvle
entered with Peterby at his heels.

"Oh, Beverley!" he exclaimed, tugging nervously at his whiskers,
"Barry's gone--most distressing--utterly vanished! I just happened
to--ah--pop round the corner, my dear fellow, and when I came back
he'd disappeared, been looking for him everywhere. Poor Barry--poor
fellow, they've got him safe enough by now! Oh Gad, Beverley! what
can I do?"

"Sit down," said Barnabas, "I think he's found." So saying he turned
and followed Mr. Bimby out of the room.



CHAPTER LXVIII


CONCERNING THE IDENTITY OF MR. BIMBY'S GUEST

It needed but a glance at the huddled figure in the comfortless
little attic to assure Barnabas of the identity of Mr. Bimby's
"poor young friend"; wherefore, setting down the candle on the
broken table, he crossed the room and touched that desolate figure
with a gentle hand.

Then Ronald Barrymaine looked up and, seeing Barnabas, struggled to
his knees:

"Beverley!" he exclaimed, "oh, thank God! You'll save her from that
d-devil--I tried to kill him, b-but he was too quick for me. But
you--you'll save her!"

"What do you mean? Is it Cleone? What do you mean--speak!" said
Barnabas, beginning to tremble.

"Yes, yes!" muttered Barrymaine, passing a hand across his brow.
"Listen then! Chichester knows--he knows, I tell you! He came to me,
three days ago I think--while D-Dig was out, and he talked and talked,
and questioned me and questioned me, and s-so I--I told him
everything--everything! But I had to, Beverley, I had to--_he_ made
me--yes _he_, Jasper Gaunt. So I told C-Chichester everything and
then--he laughed, and I t-tried to k-kill him, but he got away and
left me alone with--him. He's always near me now--always c-close
behind me where I can't quite s-see him, only sometimes I hear him
ch-choke, oh, my God, Beverley!--like he did--that night! I r-ran
away to escape him but--oh Beverley!--he's followed me, he was here
a moment ago--I heard him, I t-tell you! Oh, Beverley, don't l-look
as if you thought me m-mad, I'm not! I'm not! I know it's all an
illusion, of c-course, but--"

"Yes," said Barnabas gently, "but what of Cleone?"

"Cleone? Oh, God help me, Beverley, she's going to g-give herself to
that devil--to buy his silence!"

"What--what," stammered Barnabas. "What do you mean?"

"I got this to-day--read it and see!" said Barrymaine and drew from
his bosom a crumpled letter. Then Barnabas took it, and smoothing it
out, read these words:

  Ronald dear, I'm sorry I didn't let you kiss me good-by. So
  sorry that I am going to do all that a woman can to save you.
  Mr. Chichester has learned your awful secret, and I am the price of
  his silence. So, because of my promise to our dying mother, and because
  life can hold nothing for me now, because life and death are alike to
  me now, I am going to marry him to-night, at his house at Headcorn.
  Good-by, Ronald dear, and that God may forgive and save you in this
  life and hereafter, is the undying prayer of

         Your Sister,
                 CLEONE.

Barnabas refolded the letter and, giving it back to Barrymaine, took
out Natty Bell's great silver watch.

"It is a long way to Headcorn," said he, "I must start at once!"

"Ah! You'll g-go then, Beverley?"

"Go? Of course!"

"Then, oh Beverley, whatever happens--whether you're in time or no,
you'll--k-kill him?"

"I think," said Barnabas, putting away his watch, "yes, I think I
shall."

"The house is called Ashleydown," continued Barrymaine feverishly,
"a b-big house about a m-mile this side the village."

"Ashleydown? I think I've heard mention of it before. But now, you
must come with me, Smivvle is downstairs, you shall have my rooms
to-night."

"Thanks, Beverley, but do you m-mind--giving me your arm? I get
f-faint sometimes--my head, I think, the faintness came on me in the
s-street to-night, and I f-fell, I think."

"Indeed, yes, sir," added Mr. Bimby with a little bow, "it was so I
found you, sir."

"Ah, yes, you were kind to me, I remember--you have my g-gratitude,
sir. Now, Beverley, give me your arm, I--I--oh, God help me!"
Barrymaine reached out with clutching fingers, swayed, twisted
sideways and would have fallen, had not Barnabas caught him.

"Poor boy!" cried Mr. Bimby, "a fit, I think--so very young, poor boy!
You'll need help, sir. Oh, poor boy, poor boy!" So saying, the
little gentleman hurried away and presently returned with John and
Mr. Smivvle. Thus, between them, they bore Ronald Barrymaine
downstairs and, having made him as comfortable as might be in the
inner room, left him to the care of the faithful Mr. Smivvle.

Then Barnabas crossed to the narrow window and stood there a while,
looking down at the dim figures of the Bow Street Runners who still
lounged against the wall in the gathering dusk and talked together
in gruff murmurs.

"John," said he at last, "I must trouble you to change coats with me."
Peterby slipped off the garment in question, and aided Barnabas to
put it on.

"Now, your fur cap, John."

"Sir," said Peterby all anxiety in a moment, "you are never thinking
of going out, tonight--it would be madness!"

"Then mad am I. Your cap, John."

"But--if you are arrested--"

"He will be a strong man who stays me tonight, John. Give me your cap."

So Peterby brought the fur cap and, putting it on, Barnabas pulled
it low down over his brows and turned to the door. But there Peterby
stayed him.

"Sir," he pleaded, "let me go for you."

"No," said Barnabas, shaking his head.

"Then let me go with you,"

"Impossible, John."

"Why?"

"Because," answered Barnabas, grim-lipped, "tonight I go to ride
another race, a very long, hard race, and oh, John Peterby--my
faithful John, if you never prayed before--pray now, that I may win!"

"Sir," said Peterby, "I will!"

Then Barnabas caught his hand, wrung it, and striding from the room,
hurried away down the dark and narrow stair.



CHAPTER LXIX


HOW BARNABAS LED A HUE AND CRY

The shadows were creeping down on Giles's Rents, hiding its grime,
its misery and squalor, what time Barnabas stepped out into the court,
and, turning his back upon the shadowy River, strode along,
watchful-eyed, toward that dark corner where the Bow Street Runners
still lounged, smoking their pipes and talking together in their
rumbling tones. As he drew nearer he became aware that they had
ceased their talk and guessed rather than saw that he was the object
of their scrutiny; nor was he mistaken, for as he came abreast of
where they stood, one of them lurched towards him.

"Why, hullo, Joe," exclaimed the man, in a tone of rough familiarity,
"strike me blue if this ain't fort'nate! 'Ow goes it, Joe?"

"My name isn't Joe," said Barnabas, pausing, for the man had lurched
in front of him, barring his way.

"Not Joe, eh?" growled the man, thrusting his head unpleasantly
close to Barnabas to peer into his face, "not Joe, eh? Why then
p'r'aps it might be--Barnabas, eh? P'r'aps it might be--Beverley, eh?
Barnabas Beverley like-wise, eh? All right, Ben!" he called to his
mate, "it's our man right enough!"

"What do you mean?" inquired Barnabas, casting a swift glance about
him; and thus, he saw a moving shadow some distance down the court,
a furtive shape that flitted towards them where the gathering shadows
lay thickest. And at the sight, Barnabas clenched his fists and
poised himself for swift action.

"What do you want?" he demanded, his gaze still wandering, his ears
hearkening desperately for the sound of creeping footsteps behind,
"what do you want with me?"

"W'y, we wants you, to be sure," answered Runner No. 1. "We wants you,
Barnabas Beverley, Esk-vire, for the murder of Jasper Gaunt. And,
wot's more--we've got ye! And, wot's more--you'd better come along
nice and quiet in the name o' the--"

But in that moment, even as he reached out to seize the prisoner,
Runner No. 1 felt himself caught in a powerful wrestling grip, his
legs were swept from under him, and he thudded down upon the cobbles.
Then, as Barnahas turned to meet the rush of Runner No. 2, behold a
dark figure, that leapt from the dimness behind, and bore No. 2,
cursing savagely, staggering back and back to the wall, and pinned
him there, while, above the scuffling, the thud of blows and the
trample of feet, rose a familiar voice:

"Run, sir--run!" cried John Peterby, "I've got this one--run!"

Incontinent, Barnabas turned, and taking to his heels, set off along
the court, but with No. 1 (who had scrambled to his feet again)
thundering after him in hot pursuit, roaring for help as he came.

"Stop, thief!" bellowed No. 1, pounding along behind.

"Stop, thief!" roared Barnabas, pounding along in front.

Round the corner into the street of tumble-down houses sped yelling
Barnabas, scattering people right and left; round the corner came
No. 1 Hard in his rear.

"Stop, thief!" bellowed No. 1, louder than ever.

"Stop, thief!" roared Barnabas, louder still, and running like the
wind. Thus, No. 1 continued to bellow along behind, and Barnabas ran
on roaring before, by dint of which he had very soon drawn about him
divers other eager pursuers who, in their turn, taking up the cry,
filled the air with a raving clamor that grew and ever grew. On sped
Barnabas, still yelling "thieves," and with a yelling rabblement all
about him, on he went by crooked ways, plunging down gloomy courts,
doubling sudden corners, leading the pursuit ever deeper into the
maze of dark alleys and crooked back streets, until, spying a place
suitable to his purpose, he turned aside, and darting down a dark
and narrow entry-way, he paused there in the kindly shelter to
regain his breath, and heard the hue and cry go raving past until it
had roared itself into the distance. Then, very cautiously and with
no little difficulty, he retraced his steps, and coming at length to
the River, crossed Blackfriars Bridge and hurried west-wards; nor
did he stop or slacken his swift pace until he found himself in that
quiet, back-street at the end of which his stables were situated.
Being come there, he hammered upon the door which was presently
opened by old Gabriel Martin himself.

"Martin, I'm in a hurry," said Barnabas, "have 'The Terror' saddled
at once, and bring me a pair of spurred boots--quick!"

Without wasting time in needless words, the old groom set the
stable-boys running to and fro, and himself brought Barnabas a pair
of riding-boots, and aided him to put them on. Which done, Barnabas
threw aside the fur cap, stripped off Peterby's rough coat, and
looked about for other garments to take their place.

"If it be a coat as you're wanting, sir, there be one as you wore at
the race," said Martin, "I keep it upstairs in my room. It be a bit
tore, sir, but--"

"It will do," said Barnabas, nodding, "only--hurry, Martin!" By the
time the old groom had returned with the scarlet hunting-frock and
helped Barnabas into it, "The Terror" was led out from his box, and
immediately began to snort and rear and beat a ringing tattoo with
his great, round hoofs to a chorus of chirruping and whoa-ing from
the stable-boys.

"A bit fresh-ish, p'r'aps, sir!" said Martin, viewing the
magnificent animal with glistening eyes, "exercised reg'lar, too!
But wot 'e wants is a good, stretching, cross-country gallop."

"Well, he's going to have it, Martin."

"Ah, sir," nodded the old groom, as Barnabas tested girth and
stirrup-leathers, "you done mighty well when you bought 'im--theer
ain't another 'oss 'is ekal in London--no, nor nowheers else as I
knows on. 'E's won one race for you, and done it noble, and wot's
more sir--"

"Tonight he must win me another!" said Barnabas, and swung himself
into the saddle. "And this will be a much harder and crueller race
than he ran before or will ever run again, Martin, I hope. Pray what,
time is it?"

"Nigh on to 'alf-past eight, sir."

"So late!" said Barnabas, grim-lipped and frowning as he settled his
feet in the stirrups. "Now--give him his head there--stay! Martin,
have you a brace of pistols?"

"Pistols! Why yes, sir, but--"

"Lend them to me."

Forthwith the pistols were brought, somewhat clumsy weapons, but
serviceable none the less.

"They're loaded, sir!" said Martin as he handed them up.

"Good!" nodded Barnabas, and slipping one into either pocket,
gathered up his reins.

"You'll not be back tonight, sir?"

"Not tonight, Martin."

"Good night, sir."

"Good night, Martin."

"Are you ready, sir?"

"Quite ready, Martin."

"Then--stand away there!"

Obediently the stable-boys leapt aside, freeing "The Terror's" proud
head, who snorted, reared, and plunged out through the open doorway,
swung off sharp to his right and thundered away down the echoing
street.

And thus "The Terror" set out on his second race, which was to be a
very hard, cruel race, since it was to be run against no four-legged
opponent, no thing of flesh and blood and nerves, but against the
sure-moving, relentless fingers of Natty Bell's great, silver watch.



CHAPTER LXX


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS RODE ANOTHER RACE

Over Westminster Bridge and down the Borough galloped Barnabas, on
through the roaring din of traffic, past rumbling coach and creaking
wain, heedless of the shouts of wagoners and teamsters and the
indignant cries of startled pedestrians, yet watchful of eye and
ready of hand, despite his seeming recklessness.

On sped the great, black horse, his pace increasing as the traffic
lessened, on and on along the Old Kent Road, up the hill at New
Cross and down again, and so through Lewisham to the open country
beyond.

And now the way was comparatively clear save for the swift-moving
lights of some chaise or the looming bulk of crawling market-wagons:
therefore Barnabas, bethinking him always of the long miles before
him, and of the remorseless, creeping fingers of Natty Bell's great
watch, slacked his rein, whereat "The Terror," snorting for joy,
tossed his mighty crest on high and, bounding forward, fell into his
long, racing stride, spurning London further and further into the
dimness behind.

Barnabas rode stooped low in the saddle, his watchful eyes scanning
the road ahead, a glimmering track bordered by flying hedges, and
trees that, looming ghost-like in the dusk, flitted past and, like
ghosts, were gone again. Swift, swift sped the great, black horse,
the glimmering road below, the luminous heaven above, a glorious
canopy whence shone a myriad stars filling the still night with
their soft, mysterious glow: a hot, midsummer night full of a great
hush, a stillness wherein no wind stirred and upon whose deep
silence distant sounds seemed magnified and rose, clear and plain,
above the rhythmic drumming of "The Terror's" flying hoofs. Presently,
out of the dimness ahead, lights twinkled, growing ever brighter and
more numerous and Bromley was before him; came a long, paved street
where people turned to stare, and point, and shout at him as he
flashed by, and Bromley was behind him, and he was out upon the open
road again where hedge, and barn, and tree seemed to leap at him from
the dark only to vanish in the dimness behind.

On swept the great, black horse, past fragrant rick and misty pool,
past running rills that gurgled in the shadows, by wayside inns
whence came the sound of voices and laughter with snatches of song,
all quickly lost again in the rolling thunder of those tireless
galloping hoofs; past lonely cottages where dim lights burned, over
hill, over dale, by rolling meadow and sloping down, past darkling
woods whence breathed an air cool and damp and sweet, on up the long
ascent of Poll Hill and down into the valley again. Thus, in a while,
Barnabas saw more lights before him that, clustering together, seemed
to hang suspended in mid-air, and, with his frowning gaze upon these
clustering lights, he rode up that long, trying hill that leads into
the ancient township of Sevenoaks.

At the further end of the town he turned aside and, riding into the
yard of the Castle Inn, called for ale and, while he drank, stood by
to watch the hissing ostlers as they rubbed down "The Terror" and
gave him sparingly of water. So, into the saddle again and, bearing
to the right, off and away for Tonbridge.

But now, remembering the hill country before him, he checked his pace,
and thus, as he went, became once more aware of the profound
stillness of the night about him, and of a gathering darkness.
Therefore lifting his gaze to the heavens, he saw a great, black
cloud that grew and spread from east to west, putting out the stars.

Now, with the gathering cloud, came sudden fear to clutch at his
heart with icy fingers, a shivering dread lest, after all, he be too
late; and, clenching sweating palms, Barnabas groaned, and in that
moment "The Terror" leapt snorting beneath the rowelling spur.

Suddenly, as they topped River Hill, out of the murk ahead there met
him a puff of wind, a hot wind that came and so was gone again, but
far away beyond the distant horizon to his left, the sombre heaven
was split and rent asunder by a jagged lightning flash whose
quivering light, for one brief instant, showed him a glimpse of the
wide valley below, of the winding road, of field and hedgerow and
motionless tree and, beyond, the square tower of a church, very
small with distance yet, above whose battlements a tiny weather-vane
flashed and glittered vividly ere all things vanished, swallowed up
in the pitchy dark.

And now came the wind again and in the wind was rain, a few great
pattering drops, while the lightning flamed and quivered upon the
horizon, and the thunder rolled ever louder and more near.

Came a sudden, blinding flame, that seemed to crackle in the air
near by, a stunning thunder-clap shaking the very firmament, and
thereafter an aching blackness, upon whose startled silence burst
the rain--a sudden, hissing downpour.

Up--up reared "The Terror," whinnying with fear, then strove madly
to turn and flee before the fury of wind, and flame, and lashing rain.
Three times he swerved wildly, and three times he was checked, as
with hand, and voice, and goading spur, Barnabas drove him on
again--on down the steep descent, down, down into the yawning
blackness of the valley below, on into the raging fury of the storm.

So, buffeted by wind, lashed by stinging rain, blinded by vivid
lightning-flash, Barnabas rode on down the hill.

On and ever on, with teeth hard clenched, with eyes fierce and wide,
heedless alike of wind and wet and flame, since he could think only
of the man he rode to meet. And sometimes he uttered bitter curses,
and sometimes he touched and fondled the weapons in his pocket,
smiling evilly, for tonight, if he were not blasted by the lightning
or crushed beneath his terrified horse, Barnabas meant this man
should die.

And now upon the rushing wind were voices, demon voices that
shrieked and howled at him, filling the whirling blackness with
their vicious clamor.

"Kill him!" they shrieked. "Whether you are in time or no, kill him!
kill him!"

And Barnabas, heedless of the death that hissed and crackled in the
air about him, fronting each lightning-flash with cruel-smiling mouth,
nodded his head to the howling demons and answered:

"Yes, yes, whether in time or no, tonight he dies!"

And now, uplifted with a wild exhilaration, he laughed aloud,
exulting in the storm; and now, crushed by fear and dread, and black
despair, he raved out bitter curses and spurred on into the storm.
Little by little the thought of this man he meant to slay possessed
him utterly; it seemed to Barnabas that he could actually hear his
soft, mocking laughter; it filled the night, rising high above the
hiss of rain and rush of wind--the laugh of a satyr who waits,
confident, assured, with arms out-stretched to clasp a shuddering
goddess.

On beneath trees, dim-seen, that rocked and swayed bending to the
storm, splashing through puddles, floundering through mire, slack of
rein and ready of spur, Barnabas galloped hard. And ever the mocking
laughter rang in his ears, and ever the demons shrieked to him on the
howling wind:

"Kill him! kill him!"

So, at last, amidst rain, and wind, and mud, Barnabas rode into
Tonbridge Town, and staying at the nearest inn, dismounted stiffly
in the yard and shouted hoarsely for ostlers to bring him to the
stables. Being come there, it is Barnabas himself who holds the
bucket while the foam-flecked "Terror" drinks, a modicum of water
with a dash of brandy. Thereafter Barnabas stands by anxious-eyed
what time two ostlers rub down the great, black horse; or, striding
swiftly to and fro, the silver watch clutched in impatient hand, he
questions the men in rapid tones, as:

"Which is the nearest way to Headcorn?"

"'Eadcorn, sir? Why surely you don't be thinking--"

"Which is the nearest way to Headcorn?" repeats Barnabas, scowling
blackly; whereat the fellow answers to the point and Barnabas falls
to his feverish striding to and fro until, glancing from the watch
in his hand to "The Terror's" lofty crest, observing that his heaving
flanks labor no more and that he paws an impatient hoof, Barnabas
thrusts watch in fob, tightens girth and surcingle and, having paid
his score, swings himself stiffly into the saddle and is off and away,
while the gaping ostlers stare after him through the falling rain
till he has galloped out of sight.

Away, away, down empty street, over rumbling bridge and so, bearing
to the left, on and up the long hill of Pembury.

Gradually the rain ceased, the wind died utterly away, the stars
peeped out again. And now, upon the quiet, came the small, soft
sound of trickling water, while the air was fragrant with a thousand
sweet scents and warm, moist, earthy smells.

But on galloped the great, black horse, by pointed oast-house, by
gloomy church, on and ever on, his nostrils flaring, his eye wild,
his laboring sides splashed with mire and streaked with foam and
blood; on he galloped, faltering a little, stumbling a little, his
breath coming in sobbing gasps, but maintaining still his long,
racing stride; thundering through sleeping hamlets and waking echoes
far and near, failing of strength, scant of breath, but indomitable
still.

Oh, mighty "Four-legs"! Oh, "Terror"! whose proud heart scorns defeat!
to-night thou dost race as ne'er thou didst before, pitting thy
strength and high courage against old Time himself! Therefore on, on,
brave horse, enduring thy anguish as best thou may, nor look for
mercy from the pitiless human who bestrides thee, who rides
grim-lipped, to give death and, if need be, to taste of its
bitterness himself, and who, unsparing of himself, shall neither
spare thee.

On, on, brave horse, endure as best thou may, since Death rides thee
to-night.

Now, in a while, Barnabas saw before him a wide street flanked on
either hand by cottages, and with an ancient church beyond. And, as
he looked at this church with its great, square tower outlined
against the starry heaven, there came, borne to his ears, the
fretful wailing of a sleepless child; therefore he checked his going
and, glancing about, espied a solitary lighted window. Riding thither,
he raised himself in his stirrups and, reaching up, tapped upon the
panes; and, in a while, the casement was opened and a man peered
forth, a drowsy being, touzled of head and round of eye.

"Pray," said Barnabas, "what village is this?"

"Why, sir," answered the man, "five an' forty year I've lived here,
and always heard as it was called Headcorn."

"Headcorn," said Barnabas, nodding, "then Ashleydown should be near
here?"

"Why, sir," said the man, nodding in turn, "I do believe
you--leastways it were here about yesterday."

"And where is it?"

"Half a mile back down the road, you must ha' passed it, sir. A
great house it be though inclined to ruination. And it lays back
from the road wi' a pair o' gates--iron gates as is also ruinated,
atween two stone pillars wi' a lion a-top of each, leastways if it
ain't a lion it's a griffin, which is a fab'lous beast. And talking
of beasts, sir, I do believe as that theer dratted child don't never
mean to sleep no more. Good night to ye, sir--and may you sleep
better a-nights than a married man wi' seven on 'em." Saying which,
he nodded, sighed, and vanished.

So back rode Barnabas the way he had come, and presently, sure enough,
espied the dim outlines of the two stone columns each with "a lion
a-top," and between these columns swung a pair of rusted iron gates;
and the gates were open, seeing which Barnabas frowned and set his
teeth, and so turned to ride between the gates, but, even as he did
so, he caught the sound of wheels far down the road. Glancing
thither he made out the twinkling lights of an approaching chaise,
and sat awhile to watch its slow progress, then, acting upon sudden
impulse, he spurred to meet it. Being come within hail he reined in
across the road, and drawing a pistol levelled it at the startled
post-boy.

"Stop!" cried Barnabas.

Uttering a frightened oath, the postilion pulled up with a jerk, but
as the chaise came to a standstill a window rattled down. Then
Barnabas lowered the pistol, and coming up beside the chaise looked
down into the troubled face of my Lady Cleone. And her checks were
very pale in the light of the lanterns, and upon her dark lashes was
the glitter of tears.



CHAPTER LXXI


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS, IN HIS FOLLY, CHOSE THE HARDER COURSE

"You! Is it you--Barnabas?" she whispered and thereafter sighed, a
long, quivering sigh. "I--I've been hoping you would come!"

And now, as he looked at her, he saw that her cheeks were suffused,
all at once, with a warm and vivid color. "Hoped?" said Barnabas,
wondering.

"And--prayed!" she whispered.

"Then, you expected me? You knew I should come?"

"Yes, Barnabas. I--I hoped you would see my--letter to Ronald--that
was why I wrote it! And I prayed that you might come--"

"Why?"

"Because I--oh, Barnabas, I'm afraid!"

"You were going to--Chichester?"

"Yes, Barnabas."

"You don't--love him, do you?"

"Love him!" she repeated, "Oh, God!"

And Barnabas saw her shudder violently.

"Yet you were going to him."

"To save my brother. But now--God help me, I can't do it! Oh, it's
too hateful and--and I am afraid, Barnabas. I ought to have been at
Ashleydown an hour ago, but oh, I--I couldn't, it was too horrible--I
couldn't! So I came the longest way; I made the post-boy drive very
slowly, I--I was waiting--for you, Barnabas, praying God that you
would come to me--"

"Because you--were afraid, my lady."

"Yes, Barnabas."

"And behold, I am here!" said Barnabas. But now, seeing the quiver
of her white hands, and the light in her eyes--a sudden glow that
was not of the lanterns, he turned his head and looked resolutely
away.

"I am here, my lady, to take you back home again," said he.

"Home?" she repeated. "Ah, no, no--I have no home, now! Oh, Barnabas,"
she whispered, "take me, take me away--to my brother. Let us go away
from England to-night--anywhere, take me with you, Barnabas."

Now, as she spoke, her hands came out to him with a swift gesture,
full of passionate entreaty. And the lanterns made a shining glory
of her hair, and showed him the deep wonder of her eyes, the quick
surge of her round, young bosom, the tender quiver of the parted
lips as she waited his answer; thus our Barnabas beholding the
witchery of her shy-drooping lashes, the scarlet lure of her mouth,
the yielding warmth and all the ripe beauty of her, fell suddenly
a-trembling and sighed; then, checking the sigh, looked away again
across the dim desolation of the country-side, and clenched his hands.

"My lady," said he, his voice hoarse and uncertain, "why do
you--tempt me? I am only--an amateur gentleman--why do you tempt me
so?" As he spoke he wheeled his horse and motioned to the flinching
postboy. "Turn!" he commanded.

"No!" cried Cleone.

"Turn!" said Barnabas, and, as the post-boy hesitated, levelled his
pistol.

But now, even as the postilion chirruped to his horses, the chaise
door was flung open and Cleone sprang down into the road; but even so,
Barnabas barred her way.

"Let me pass!" she cried.

"To Chichester?"

"Yes--God help me. Since you force me to it! Let me go!"

"Get back into the chaise, my lady."

"No, no! Let me pass, I go to save my brother--"

"Not this way!"

"Oh!" she cried passionately, "you force it upon me, yes--you! you!
If you won't help me, I must go to him! Dear heaven! there is no
other way, let me go--you must--you shall!"

"Go back into the chaise, my lady."

Barnabas spoke very gently but, as she stared up at him, a movement
of his horse brought him into the light of the lanterns and, in that
moment, her breath caught, for now she beheld him as she had seen
him once before, a wild, desperate figure, bare-headed, torn, and
splashed with mud; grim of mouth, and in his eyes a look she had
once dreamed of and never since forgotten. And, as she gazed,
Barnabas spoke again and motioned with his pistol hand.

"Get back into the chaise, my lady."

"No!" she answered, and, though her face was hidden now, he knew
that she was weeping. "I'm going on, now--to Ashleydown, to save
Ronald, to redeem the promise I gave our mother; I must, I must, and
oh--nothing matters to me--any more, so let me go!"

"My lady," said Barnabas, in the same weary tone, "you must get back
into the chaise."

"And let Ronald die--and such a death! Never! oh never!"

Barnabas sighed, slipped the pistol into his pocket and dismounted,
but, being upon his feet, staggered; then, or ever she knew, he had
caught her in his arms, being minded to bear her to the chaise. But
in that moment, he looked down and so stood there, bound by the spell
of her beauty, forgetful of all else in the world, for the light of
the lanterns was all about them, and Cleone's eyes were looking up
into his.

"Barnabas," she whispered, "Barnabas, don't let me go!--save me
from--that!"

"Ah, Cleone," he murmured, "oh, my lady, do you doubt me still? Can
you think that I should fail you?

"Oh, my dear, my dear--I've found a way, and mine is a better way
than yours. Be comforted then and trust me, Cleone."

Then, she stirred in his embrace, and, sighing, hid her face close
against him and, with her face thus hidden, spoke:

"Yes, yes--I do trust you, Barnabas, utterly, utterly! Take me away
with you--tonight, take me to Ronald and let us go away together, no
matter where so long as--we go--together, Barnabas." Now when she
said this, she could feel how his arms tightened about her, could
hear how his breath caught sudden and sharp, and, though she kept
her face hid from him, well she knew what look was in his eyes;
therefore she lay trembling a little, sighing a little, and with
fast-beating heart. And, in a while, Barnabas spoke:

"My lady," said he heavily, "would you trust yourself to--a
publican's son?"

"If he would not be--too proud to--take me, Barnabas."

"Oh, my lady--can't you see that if I--if I take you with me tonight,
you must be with me--always?"

Cleone sighed.

"And I am a discredited impostor, the--the jest of every club in
London!"

Cleone's hand stole up, and she touched his grimly-set chin very
gently with one white finger.

"I am become a thing for the Fashionable World to sharpen its wits
upon," he continued, keeping his stern gaze perseveringly averted.
"And so, my lady--because I cannot any longer cheat folks into
accepting me as a--gentleman, I shall in all probability become a
farmer, some day."

Cleone sighed.

"But you," Barnabas continued, a little harshly, "you were born for
higher and greater fortune than to become the wife of a humble
farming fellow, and consequently--"

"But I can make excellent butter, Barnabas," she sighed, stealing a
glance up to him, "and I can cook--a little."

Now when she said this, he must needs look down at her again and lo!
there, at the corner of her mouth was the ghost of the dimple! And,
beholding this, seeing the sudden witchery of her swift-drooping
lashes, Barnabas forgot his stern resolutions and stooped his head,
that he might kiss the glory of her hair. But, in that moment, she
turned, swift and sudden, and yielded him her lips, soft, and warm,
and passionate with youth and all the joy of life. And borne away
upon that kiss, it seemed to Barnabas, for one brief, mad-sweet
instant that all things might be possible; if they started now they
might reach London in the dawn and, staying only for Barrymaine, be
aboard ship by evening! And it was a wide world, a very fair world,
and with this woman beside him--

"It would be so--so very easy!" said he, slowly.

"Yes, it will be very easy!" she whispered.

"Too easy!" said he, beginning to frown, "you are so helpless and
lonely, and I want you so bitterly, Cleone! Yes, it would be very
easy. But you taught me once, that a man must ever choose the harder
way, and this is the harder way, to love you, to long for you, and
to bid you--good-by!"

"Oh! Barnabas?"

"Ah, Cleone, you could make the wretchedest hut a paradise for me,
but for you, ah, for you it might some day become only a hut, and I,
only a discredited Amateur Gentleman, after all."

Then Barnabas sighed and thereafter frowned, and so bore her to the
chaise and setting her within, closed the door.

"Turn!" he cried to the postilion.

"Barnabas!"

But the word was lost in the creak of wheels and stamping of hoofs
as the chaise swung round; then Barnabas remounted and, frowning
still, trotted along beside it. Now in a while, lifting his sombre
gaze towards a certain place beside the way, he beheld the dim
outline of a finger-post, a very ancient finger-post which (though
it was too dark to read its inscription) stood, he knew, with
wide-stretched arms pointing the traveller:

       TO LONDON.    TO HAWKHURST.

And being come opposite the finger-post, he ordered the post-boy to
stop, for, small with distance, he caught the twinkling lights of
lanterns that swung to and fro, and, a moment later, heard a hail,
faint and far, yet a stentorian bellow there was no mistaking.
Therefore coming close beside the chaise, he stooped down and looked
within, and thus saw that Cleone leaned in the further corner with
her face hidden in her hands.

"You are safe, now, my lady," said he, "the Bo'sun is coming, the
Captain will be here very soon."

But my lady never stirred.

"You are safe now," he repeated, "as for Ronald, if Chichester's
silence can save him, you need grieve no more, and--"

"Ah!" she cried, glancing up suddenly, "what do you mean?"

"That I must go, my lady, and--and--oh, my dear love, this harder
way--is very hard to tread. If--we should meet no more after tonight,
remember that I loved you--as I always have done and always must,
humble fellow though I am. Yes, I think I love you as well as any
fine gentleman of them all, and--Cleone--Good-by!"

"Barnabas," she cried, "tell me what you mean to do--oh, Barnabas,
where are you going?" And now she reached out her hands as though to
stay him. But, even so, he drew away, and, wheeling his horse,
pointed towards the twinkling lights.

"Drive on!" he cried to the post-boy.

"Barnabas, wait!"

"Drive on!" he cried, "whip--spur!"

"Barnabas, stay! Oh, Barnabas, listen--"

But as Cleone strove desperately to open the door, the chaise
lurched forward, the horses broke into a gallop, and Barnabas,
sitting there beneath the ancient finger-post, saw imploring hands
stretched out towards him, heard a desolate cry, and--he was alone.
So Barnabas sat there amid the gloom, and watched Happiness go from
him. Very still he sat until the grind of wheels had died away in
the distance; then he sighed, and spurring his jaded horse, rode
back towards Headcorn.

And thus did Barnabas, in his folly, forego great joy, and set aside
the desire of his heart that he might tread that Harder Way, which
yet can be trod only by the foot of--A Man.



CHAPTER LXXII


HOW RONALD BARREYMAINE SQUARED HIS ACCOUNT

A distant clock was striking the hour as Barnabas rode in at the
rusted gates of Ashleydown and up beneath an avenue of sombre trees
beyond which rose the chimneys of a spacious house, clear and plain
against the palpitating splendor of the stars. But the house, like
its surroundings, wore a desolate, neglected look, moreover it was
dark, not a light was to be seen anywhere from attic to cellar. Yet,
as Barnabas followed the sweep of the avenue, he suddenly espied a
soft glow that streamed from an uncurtained window giving upon the
terrace; therefore he drew rein, and dismounting, led his horse in
among the trees and, having tethered him there, advanced towards the
gloomy house, his gaze upon the lighted window, and treading with an
ever growing caution.

Now, as he went, he took out one of the pistols, cocked it, and with
it ready in his hand, came to the window and peered into the room.

It was a long, low chamber with a fireplace at one end, and here,
his frowning gaze bent upon the blazing logs, sat Mr. Chichester.
Upon the small table at his elbow were decanter and glasses, with a
hat and gloves and a long travelling cloak. As Barnabas stood there
Mr. Chichester stirred impatiently, cast a frowning glance at the
clock in the corner and reaching out to the bell-rope that hung
beside the mantel, jerked it viciously, and so fell to scowling at
the fire again until the door opened and a bullet-headed,
square-shouldered fellow entered, a formidable ruffian with pugilist
written in his every feature; to whom Mr. Chichester appeared to
give certain commands; and so dismissed him with an impatient
gesture of his slim, white hands. As the door closed, Mr. Chichester
started up and fell to pacing the floor only to return, and,
flinging himself back in his chair, sat scowling at the fire again.

Then Barnabas raised the pistol-butt and, beating in the window,
loosed the catch, and, as Mr. Chichester sprang to his feet, opened
the casement and stepped into the room.

For a long moment neither spoke, while eyes met and questioned eyes,
those of Barnabas wide and bright, Mr. Chichester's narrowed to
shining slits. And indeed, as they fronted each other thus, each was
the opposite of the other, Barnabas leaning in the window, his pistol
hand hidden behind him, a weary, bedraggled figure mired from heel
to head; Mr. Chichester standing rigidly erect, immaculate of dress
from polished boot to snowy cravat.

"So," said he at last, breaking the ominous silence, "so it's--yes,
it is Mr.--Barty, I think, unpleasantly damp and devilish muddy, and,
consequently, rather more objectionable than usual."

"I have ridden far, and the roads were bad," said Barnabas.

"Ah! and pray why inflict yourself upon me?"

"For a very good and sufficient reason, sir."

"Ha, a reason?" said Mr. Chichester, lounging against the mantel.
"Can it be you have discerned at last that the highly dramatic
meeting between father and son at a certain banquet, not so long ago,
was entirely contrived by myself--that it was my hand drove you from
society and made you the derision of London, Mr. Barty?"

"Why, yes," sighed Barnabas; "I guessed that much, sir."

"Indeed, I admire your perspicacity, Mr. Barty. And now, I presume
you have broken into my house with some brutal idea of pummelling me
with your fists? But, sir, I am no prizefighter, like you and your
estimable father, and I warn you that--"

"Sir," said Barnabas softly, "do not trouble to ring the bell, my
mission here is--not to thrash you."

"No? Gad, sir, but you're very forbearing, on my soul you are!" and
Mr. Chichester smiled; but his nostrils were twitching as his
fingers closed upon the bell-rope. "Now understand me--having shown
up your imposture, having driven you from London, I do not propose
to trouble myself further with you. True, you have broken into my
house, and should very properly be shot like any other rascally thief.
I have weapons close by, and servants within call, but you have
ceased to interest me--I have other and weightier affairs on hand,
so you may go, sir. I give you one minute to take yourself back to
your native mud." As he ended, Mr. Chichester motioned airily
towards the open window. But Barnabas only sighed again and shook
his head.

"Sir," said he, more softly than before, "give me leave to tell you
that the Lady Cleone will not keep her appointment here, to-night."

"Ah-h!" said Mr. Chichester slowly, and staring at Barnabas under
his drawn brows, "you--mean--?"

"That she was safe home three-quarters of an hour ago."

Mr. Chichester's long, white fingers writhed suddenly upon the
bell-rope, released it, and, lifting his hand swiftly, he loosened
his high cravat, and so stood, breathing heavily, his eyes once more
narrowed to shining slits, and with the scar burning redly upon his
cheek.

"So you have dared," he began thickly, "you have dared to interfere
again? You have dared to come here, to tell me so?"

"No, sir," answered Barnabas, shaking his head, "I have come here to
kill you!"

Barnabas spoke very gently, but as Mr. Chichester beheld his calm eye,
the prominence of his chin, and his grimly-smiling mouth, his eyes
widened suddenly, his clenched fingers opened, and he reached out
again towards the bell-rope. "Stop!" said Barnabas, and speaking,
levelled his pistol.

"Ah!" sighed Mr. Chichester, falling back a step, "you mean to
murder me, do you?"

"I said 'kill'--though yours is the better word, perhaps. Here are
two pistols, you will observe; one is for you and one for me. And we
are about to sit down--here, at the table, and do our very utmost to
murder each other. But first, I must trouble you to lock the door
yonder and bring me the key. Lock it, I say!"

Very slowly, and with his eyes fixed in a wide stare upon the
threatening muzzle of the weapon Barnabas held, Mr. Chichester,
crossed to the door, hesitated, turned the key, and drawing it from
the lock, stood with it balanced in his hand a moment, and then
tossed it towards Barnabas.

Now the key lay within a yard of Barnabas who, stepping forward,
made as though to reach down for it; but in that instant he glanced
up at Mr. Chichester under his brows, and in that instant also,
Mr. Chichester took a swift, backward step towards the hearth;
wherefore, because of this, and because of the look in Mr. Chichester's
eyes, Barnabas smiled, and, so smiling, kicked the key into a
far corner.

"Come, sir," said he, drawing another chair up to the table,
"be seated!" saying which, Barnabas sat down, and, keeping one
pistol levelled, laid the other within Mr. Chichester's reach.
"They are both loaded, sir," he continued; "but pray assure yourself."

But Mr. Chichester stood where he was, his eyes roving swiftly from
Barnabas to the unlatched window, from that to the door, and so back
again to where Barnabas sat, pale, smiling, and with the heavy
weapon levelled across the narrow table; and as he stood thus,
Mr. Chichester lifted one white hand to his mouth and began to pull
at his lips with twitching fingers.

"Come," repeated Barnabas, "be seated, sir."

But Mr. Chichester yet stood utterly still save for the petulant
action of those nervous, twitching fingers.

"Sir," Barnabas persisted, "sit down, I beg!"

"I'll fight you--here--and now," said Mr. Chichester, speaking in a
strange, muffled tone, "yes--I'll fight you wherever or whenever
you wish, but not--not across a table!"

"I think you will," nodded Barnabas grimly. "Pray sit down."

"No!"

"Why, then, we'll stand up for it," sighed Barnabas rising.
"Now, sir, take up your pistol."

"No!"

"Then," said Barnabas, his teeth agleam, "as God's above, I'll shoot
you where you stand--but first I'll count three!" And once more he
levelled the pistol he held.

Mr. Chichester sighed a fluttered sigh, the twitching fingers fell
from his mouth and with his burning gaze upon Barnabas, he stepped
forward and laid his hand upon the chair-back, but, in the act of
sitting down, paused.

"The candles--a little more light--the candles," he muttered, and
turning, crossed to the hearth and raised his hand to a branched
silver candlestick that stood upon the mantel. But in the moment
that his left hand closed upon this, his right had darted upon
another object that lay there, and, quick as a flash, he had spun
round and fired point-blank.

While the report yet rang on the air, Barnabas staggered, swayed, and,
uttering a gasp, sank down weakly into his chair. But, as Mr. Chichester
watched him, his eyes wide, his lips parted, and the pistol yet smoking
in his hand, Barnabas leaned forward, and steadying his elbow on the
table, slowly, very slowly raised and levelled his weapon.

And now, as he fronted that deadly barrel, Mr. Chichester's face
grew suddenly livid, and haggard, and old-looking, while upon his
brow the sweat had started and rolled down, glistening upon his
cheeks.

The fire crackled upon the hearth, the clock ticked softly in the
corner, the table creaked as Barnabas leaned his weight across it,
nearer and nearer, but, save for this, the place was very quiet. Then,
all at once, upon this silence broke another sound, a distant sound
this, but one that grew ever nearer and louder--the grind of wheels
and the hoof-strokes of madly galloping horses. Mr. Chichester
uttered a gasping cry and pointed towards the window--

"Cleone!" he whispered. "It's Cleone! She's coming, in God's
name--wait!"

The galloping hoofs drew rapidly nearer, stopped suddenly, and as
Barnabas, hesitating, glanced towards the window, it was flung wide
and somebody came leaping through--a wild, terrible figure; and as
he turned in the light of the candles, Barnabas looked into the
distorted face of Ronald Barrymaine.

For a moment he stood, his arms dangling, his head bent, his
glowing eyes staring at Mr. Chichester, and as he stood thus fixing
Mr. Chichester with that awful, unwavering stare, a smile twisted his
pallid lips, and he spoke very softly:

"It's all r-right, Dig," said he, "the luck's with me at l-last--
we're in time--I've g-got him! Come in, D-Dig, and bring the
tools--I--I've g-got him!"

Hereupon Mr. Smivvle stepped into the room; haggard of eye he looked,
and with cheeks that showed deadly pale by contrast with the
blackness of his glossy whiskers, and beneath his arm he carried a
familiar oblong box; at sight of Barnabas he started, sighed, and
crossing hastily, set the box upon the table and caught him by the
arm:

"Stop him, Beverley--stop him!" he whispered hurriedly. "Barry's
gone mad, I think, insisted on coming here. Devil of a time getting
away, Bow Street Runners--hard behind us now. Means to fight! Stop
him, Beverley, for the love of--Ah! by God, what's this? Barry,
look--look here!" And he started back from Barnabas, staring at him
with horrified eyes. "Barry, Barry--look here!"

But Ronald Barrymaine never so much as turned his head; motionless
he stood, his lips still contorted with their drawn smile, his
burning gaze still fixed on Mr. Chichester--indeed he seemed
oblivious to all else under heaven.

"Come, Dig," said he in the same soft voice, "get out the barkers,
and quick about it, d' you hear?"

"But, Barry--oh, my dear fellow, here's poor Beverley, look--look at
him!"

"G-give us the barkers, will you--quick! Oh, damnation. Dig, y-you
know G-Gaunt and his hangman are hard on my heels! Quick, then, and
g-get it over and done with--d'you hear, D-Dig?" So saying,
Barrymaine crossed to the hearth and stood there, warming his hands
at the blaze, but, even so, he must needs turn his head so that he
could keep his gloating eyes always directed to Chichester's pale
face.

"I'm w-warming my pistol-hand, Dig," he continued, "mustn't be cold
or s-stiff tonight, you see. Oh, I tell you the luck's with me at
last! He's b-been so vastly clever, Dig! He's dragged me down to hell,
but--tonight I'm g-going to-take him with me."

And ever as he spoke, warming himself at the fire, Ronald Barrymaine
kept his burning gaze upon Mr. Chichester's pale face, while
Barnabas leaned, twisted in his chair, and Mr. Smivvle busied
himself with the oblong box. With shaking hands he took out the
duelling-pistols, one by one, and laid them on the table.

"We'll g-give him first choice, eh, Dig?" said Barrymaine. "Ah--he's
chosen, I s-see. Now we'll t-take opposite corners of the room and
f-fire when you give the word, eh, Dig?"

As he spoke, Barrymaine advanced to the table, his gaze always upon
Mr. Chichester, nor did he look away even for an instant, thus, his
hand wandered, for a moment, along the table, ere he found and took
up the remaining pistol. Then, with it cocked in his hand, he backed
away to the corner beside the hearth, and being come there, nodded.

"A good, comfortable distance, D-Dig," said he, "now tell him to
take his g-ground."

But even as he spoke, Mr. Chichester strode to the opposite corner
of the long room, and turning, stood there with folded arms. Up till
now, he had uttered no word, but as Mr. Smivvle leaned back against
the wall, midway between them, and glanced from one to the other,
Mr. Chichester spoke.

"Sirs," said he, "I shall most certainly kill him, and I call upon
you to witness that it was forced upon me."

Now as his voice died away, through the open window came a faint
sound that might have been wind in the trees, or the drumming of
horse-hoofs, soft and faint with distance.

"Oh, g-give us the word, D-Dig!" said Barrymaine.

"Gentlemen," said Mr. Smivvle, steadying himself against the
panelling with shaking hands, "the word will be--Ready? One! Two!
Three--Fire! Do you understand?"

An eager "Yes" from Barrymaine, a slight nod from Chichester, yet
Mr. Smivvle still leaned there mutely against the wall, as though
his tongue failed him, or as if hearkening to that small, soft sound,
that might have been wind in the trees.

"The word, Dig--will you give us the word?"

"Yes, yes, Barry, yes, my dear boy--certainly!" But still Mr. Smivvle
hesitated, and ever the small sound grew bigger and louder.

"S-speak! Will you s-speak, Dig?"

"Oh, Barry--my dear boy, yes! Ready?"

At the word the two pistols were raised and levelled, almost on the
instant, and with his haggard eyes turned towards Barrymaine's corner,
Mr. Smivvle spoke again:

"One!--Two!--Three--"

A flash, a single deafening report, and Ronald Barrymaine lurched
sideways, caught at the wall, swayed backwards into the corner and
leaned there.

"Coward,--you fired too soon!" cried Smivvle, turning upon Mr. Chichester
in sudden frenzy, "Villain! Rouge! you fired too soon--!"

"S-stand away, Dig!" said Barrymaine faintly.

"Oh, Barry--you're bleeding! By God, he's hit you!"

"Of c-course, Dig--he never m-misses--neither do I--w-watch now, ah!
hold me up, Dig--so! Now, stand away!" But even as Barrymaine, livid
of brow and with teeth hard clenched, steadied himself for the shot,
loud and clear upon the night came the thudding of swift-galloping
horse-hoofs.

And now, for the first time, Barrymaine's gaze left Chichester's face,
and fixed itself upon the open casement instead.

"Ha!" he cried, "here comes G-Gaunt at last, D-Dig, and with his
hangman at his elbow! But he's t-too late, Dig, he's too l-late--I'm
going, but I mean to take our friend--our d-dear friend Chichester
w-with me--look now!"

As he spoke he raised his arm, there came the stunning report of the
pistol, and a puff of blinding smoke; but when it cleared, Mr. Chichester
still stood up rigid in his corner, only, as he stood he lifted his
hand suddenly to his mouth, glanced at his fingers, stared at them
with wide, horrified eyes. Then his pistol clattered to the floor and
he coughed--a hideous, strangling sound, thin and high-pitched.
Coughing still, he took a swift pace forward, striving to speak,
but choked instead, and so choking, sank to his knees. Even then he
strove desperately to utter something, but with it still unspoken,
sank down upon his hands, and thence slowly upon his face and lay
there very still and quiet.

Then Barrymaine laughed, an awful, gasping laugh, and began to edge
himself along the wall and, as he went, he left hideous smears and
blotches upon the panelling behind him. Being come to that inanimate
figure he stood awhile watching it with gloating eyes. Presently he
spoke in a harsh whisper:

"He's dead, D-Dig--quite dead, you see! And he was my f-friend,
which was bad! And I trusted him--which was w-worse. A rogue always,
Dig, and a l-liar!"

Then Barrymaine groaned, and groaning, spurned that quiet form
weakly with his foot and so, pitched down headlong across it.

Now as they lay thus, they together made a great cross upon the floor.

But presently shadows moved beyond the open window, a broad-brimmed,
high-crowned hat projected itself into the candle light, and a voice
spoke:

"In the King's name! I arrest Ronald Barrymaine for the murder of
Jasper Gaunt--in the King's name, genelmen!"

But now, very slowly and painfully, Ronald Barrymaine raised himself
upon his hands, lifted his heavy head and spoke in a feeble voice.

"Oh, m-master Hangman," he whispered, "y-you're too l-late--j-just
too late!" And so, like a weary child settling itself to rest, he
pillowed his head upon his arm, and sighing--fell asleep.

Then Mr. Shrig stepped forward very softly, and beholding that
placid young face with its tender, smiling lips, and the lashes that
drooped so dark against the dead pallor of the cheek, he took off
his broad-brimmed hat and stood there with bent head.

But another figure had followed him, and now sprang toward Barnabas
with supporting arms outstretched, and in that moment Barnabas sighed,
and falling forward, lay there sprawled across the table.



CHAPTER LXXIII


WHICH RECOUNTS THREE AWAKENINGS

The sunlight was flooding in at the open lattice and, as if borne
upon this shaft of glory, came the mingled fragrance of herb and
flower and ripening fruit with the blithe carolling of birds, a very
paean of thanksgiving; the chirp of sparrows, the soft, rich notes
of blackbirds, the warbling trill of thrushes, the far, faint song
of larks high in the blue--it was all there, blent into one
harmonious chorus of joy, a song that spoke of hope and a fair future
to such as were blessed with ears to hear. And by this, our Barnabas,
opening drowsy eyes and hearkening with drowsy ears, judged it was
yet early morning.

He lay very still and full of a great content because of the glory
of the sun and the merry piping of the birds.

But, little by little, as he hearkened, he became conscious of
another sound, a very gentle sound, yet insistent because of its
regularity, a soft click! click! click! that he could in no wise
account for. Therefore he would have turned his head, and
straightway wondered to find this so difficult to accomplish;
moreover he became aware that he lay in a bed, undressed, and that
his arm and shoulder were bandaged. And now, all at once he forgot
the bird-song and the sunshine, his brow grew harassed and troubled,
and with great caution he lifted his free hand to his neck and began
to feel for a certain ribbon that should be there. And presently,
having found the ribbon, his questing fingers followed it down into
his bosom until they touched a little, clumsily-wrought linen bag,
that he had fashioned, once upon a time, with infinite trouble and
pains, and in which he had been wont to carry the dried-up wisp of
what had once been a fragrant, scarlet rose.

And now, having found this little bag, he lay with brow still
troubled as one in some deep perplexity, the while his fingers felt
and fumbled with it clumsily. This was the little bag indeed; he
knew it by reason of its great, uneven stitches and its many knots
and ends of cotton; yes, this was it beyond all doubt, and yet?
Truly it was the same, but with a difference.

Now as he lay thus, being full of trouble because of this difference
which he could in no wise understand, he drew a deep sigh, which was
answered all at once by another; the soft clicking sound abruptly
ceased and he knew that some one had risen and now stood looking down
at him. Therefore Barnabas presently turned his head and saw a face
bent over him, a face with cheeks suspiciously pink, framed in curls
suspiciously dark and glossy, but with eyes wonderfully young and
bright and handsome; in one small, white hand was a needle and silk,
and in the other, a very diminutive piece of embroidery.

"Why, Barnabas!" said the Duchess, very gently, "dear boy--what is it?
Ah! you've found it then, already--your sachet? Though indeed it
looks more like a pudding-bag--a very small one, of course. Oh, dear
me! but you're not a very good needlewoman, are you, Barnabas?
Neither am I--I always prick my fingers dreadfully. There--let me
open it for you--so! Now, while I hold it, see what is inside."

Then, wondering, Barnabas slipped a clumsy thumb and finger into the
little bag and behold the faded wisp had become transfigured and
bloomed again in all its virgin freshness. For in his hand there lay
a great, scarlet rose, as sweet and fresh and fragrant as
though--for all the world as though it had been plucked that very
morning.

"Ah, no, no, no," cried the Duchess, reading his look, "it was no
hand of mine worked the transformation, dear Barnabas."

"But," murmured drowsy Barnabas, speaking with an effort--
"it--was--dead--long ago--?"

"Yet behold it is alive again!" said the Duchess. "And oh, Barnabas
dear, if a withered, faded wisp may bloom again--so may a woman's
faith and love. There, there, dear boy! Close your eyes and go to
sleep again."

So, being very weary, Barnabas closed his eyes and, with the touch
of her small, cool fingers in his hair, fell fast asleep.



II

Now as Barnabas lay thus, lost in slumber, he dreamed a dream. He
had known full many sleeping visions and fancies of late, but, of
them all, surely none had there been quite like this.

For it seemed to him that he was lying out amid the green, dewy
freshness of Annersley Wood. And as he lay there, grievously hurt, lo!
there came one hasting, light-footed to him through the green like
some young nymph of Arcady or Goddess of the Wood, one for whom he
seemed to have been waiting long and patiently, one as sweet and
fresh and fair as the golden morning and tender as the Spirit of
Womanhood.

And, for that he might not speak or move because of his hurt, she
leaned above him and her hands touched him, hands very soft, and cool,
and gentle, upon his brow, upon his cheek; and every touch was a
caress.

Slowly, slowly her arms came about him in a warm, clinging embrace,
arms strong and protecting that drew his weary head to the swell of
a bosom and pillowed it sweetly there. And clasping him thus, she
sighed over him and wept, though very silently, and stooped her lips
to him to kiss his brow, his slumberous eyes, and, last of all, his
mouth.

So, because of this dream, Barnabas lay in a deep and utter content,
for it seemed that Happiness had come to him after all, and of its
own accord. But, in a while, he stirred and sighed, and presently
opened dreamy eyes, and thus it chanced that he beheld the door of
his chamber, and the door was quivering as though it had but just
closed. Then, as he lay watching it, sleepy-eyed, it opened again,
slowly and noiselessly, and John Peterby entered softly, took a step
towards the bed, but, seeing Barnabas was awake, stopped, and so
stood there very still.

Suddenly Barnabas smiled, and held out a hand to him.

"Why, John," said he, "my faithful John--is it you?"

"Sir," murmured Peterby, and coming forward, took that extended hand,
looking down at Barnabas joyful-eyed, and would have spoken, yet
uttered no other word.

"John," said Barnabas, glancing round the faded splendors of the
bed-chamber, "where am I, pray?"

"At Ashleydown, sir."

"Ashleydown?" repeated Barnabas, wrinkling his brow.

"Sir, you have been--very ill."

"Ah, yes, I was shot I remember--last night, I think?"

"Sir, it happened over three weeks ago."

"Three weeks!" repeated Barnabas, sitting up with an effort,
"three weeks, John?--Oh, impossible!"

"You have been very near death, sir. Indeed I think you would have
died but for the tender nursing and unceasing care of--"

"Ah, God bless her! Where is she, John--where is the Duchess?"

"Her Grace went out driving this morning, sir."

"This morning? Why, I was talking with her this morning--only a
little while ago."

"That was yesterday morning, sir."

"Oh!" said Barnabas, hand to head, "do you mean that I have slept
the clock round?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hum!" said Barnabas. "Consequently I'm hungry, John, deuced sharp
set--ravenous, John!"

"That, sir," quoth Peterby, smiling his rare smile, "that is the
best news I've heard this three weeks and more, and your chicken
broth is ready--"

"Chicken broth!" exclaimed Barnabas, "for shame, John. Bring me a
steak, do you hear?"

"But, sir," Peterby remonstrated, shaking his head, yet with his
face ever brightening, "indeed I--"

"Or a chop, John, or ham and eggs--I'm hungry; I tell you."

"Excellent!" laughed Peterby, nodding his head, "but the doctor,
sir--"

"Doctor!" cried Barnabas, with a snort, "what do I want with doctors?
I'm well, John. Bring me my clothes."

"Clothes, sir!" exclaimed Peterby, aghast. "Impossible, sir! No, no!"

"Yes, yes, John--I'm going to get up."

"But, sir--"

"This very moment! My clothes, John, my clothes!"

"Indeed, sir, I--"

"John Peterby," said Barnabas, scowling blackly, "you will oblige me
with my garments this instant,--obey me, sir!"

But hereupon, while Barnabas scowled and Peterby hesitated, puckered
of brow yet joyful of eye, there came the sound of wheels on the
drive below and the slam of a coach door, whereat Peterby crossed to
the window and, glancing out, heaved a sigh of relief.

"Who is it?" demanded Barnabas, his scowl blacker than ever.

"Her Grace has returned, sir."

"Very good, John! Present my compliments and sa'y I will wait upon
her as soon as I'm dressed."

But hardly had Peterby left the room with this message, than the
door opened again and her Grace of Camberhurst appeared, who,
catching sight of Barnabas sitting up shock-headed among his pillows,
uttered a little, glad cry and hurried to him.

"Why, Barnabas!" she exclaimed, "oh, Barnabas!" and with the words
stooped, quick and sudden, yet in the most matter-of-fact manner in
the world, and kissed him lightly on the brow.

"Oh, dear me!" she cried, beginning to pat and smooth his tumbled
pillows, "how glad I am to see you able to frown again, though
indeed you look dreadfully ferocious, Barnabas!"

"I'm--very hungry, Duchess!"

"Of course you are, Barnabas, and God bless you for it!"

"A steak, madam, or a chop, I think--"

"Would be excellent, Barnabas!"

"And I wish to get up, Duchess."

"To be sure you do, Barnabas--there, lie down, so!"

"But, madam, I am firmly resolved--I'm quite determined to get up,
at once--"

"Quite so, dear Barnabas--lay your head back on the pillow! Dear me,
how comfortable you look! And now, you are hungry you say? Then I'll
sit here and gossip to you while you take your chicken broth! You may
bring it in, Mr. Peterby."

"Chicken broth!" snarled Barnabas, frowning blacker than ever,
"but, madam, I tell you I won't have the stuff; I repeat, madam,
that I am quite determined to--"

"There, there--rest your poor tired head--so! And it's all a
delicious jelly when it's cold--I mean the chicken broth, of course,
not your head. Ah! you may give it to me, Mr. Peterby, and the
spoon--thank you! Now, Barnabas!"

And hereupon, observing the firm set of her Grace's mouth, and the
authoritative flourish of the spoon she held in her small, though
imperious hand, Barnabas submitted and lying back among his pillows
in sulky dignity, swallowed the decoction in sulky silence, and
thereafter lay hearkening sulkily to her merry chatter until he had
sulked himself to sleep again.



III

His third awakening was much like the first in that room, was full
of sunshine, and the air vibrant with the song of birds; yet here
indeed lay a difference; for now, mingled with the piping chorus,
Barnabas was vaguely conscious of another sound, soft and low and
oft repeated, a very melodious sound that yet was unlike any note
ever uttered by thrush or blackbird, or any of the feathered kind.
Therefore, being yet heavy with sleep, Barnabas yawned, and
presently turning, propped himself upon his elbow and was just in
time to see a shapeless something vanish from the ledge of the open
window.

The sun was low as yet, the birds in full song, the air laden with
fresh, sweet, dewy scents; and from this, and the profound stillness
of the house about him, he judged it to be yet early morning.

Now presently as he lay with his eyes turned ever towards the open
casement, the sound that had puzzled him came again, soft and
melodious.

Some one was whistling "The British Grenadiers."

And, in this moment a bedraggled object began to make its appearance,
slowly and by degrees resolving itself into a battered hat. Inch by
inch it rose up over the window-ledge--the dusty crown--the frayed
band--the curly brim, and beneath it a face there was no mistaking
by reason of its round, black eyes and the untamable ferocity of its
whiskers. Hereupon, with its chin resting upon the window-sill, the
head gently shook itself to and fro, sighed, and thereafter
pronounced these words:

  Devilish pale! Deuced thin! But himself again. Oh, lucky dog! With
  Fortune eager to dower him with all the treasures of her cornucopia,
  and Beauty waiting for him with expectant arms, oh, lucky dog! Oh,
  happy youth! Congratulations, Beverley, glad of it, my dear fellow,
  you deserve it all and more. Oh, fortunate wight!

  But, as for me--you behold the last of lonely Smivvle, sir, of
  bereaved Digby--of solitary Dig. Poor Barrymaine's star is set and
  mine is setting--westwards, sir--my bourne is the far Americas,
  Beverley.

"Ah, Mr. Smivvle!" exclaimed Barnabas, sitting up, "I'm glad to see
you--very glad. But what do you mean by America?"

"Sir," answered Mr. Smivvle, shaking his head and sighing again,
"on account of the lamentable affair of a month ago, the Bow Street
Runners have assiduously chivvied me from pillar to post and from
perch to perch, dammem! Had a notion to slip over to France, but the
French will insist on talking their accursed French at one, so I've
decided for America. But, though hounded by the law, I couldn't go
without knowing precisely how you were--without bidding you
good-by--without endeavoring to thank you--to thank you for poor
Barry's sake and my own, and also to return--"

"Come in," said Barnabas, stretching out his hand, "pray come
in--through the window if you can manage it."

In an instant Mr. Smivvle was astride the sill, but paused there to
glance about him and twist a whisker in dubious fingers.

"Coast clear?" he inquired. "I've been hanging about the place for a
week hoping to see you, but by Gad, Beverley, you're so surrounded
by watchful angels--especially one in an Indian shawl, that I didn't
dare disturb you, but--"

"Pooh, nonsense--come in, man!" said Barnabas. "Come in, I want your
help--"

"My help, Oh Gemini!" and, with the word, Mr. Smivvle was in the room.
"My help?" he repeated. "Oh Jupiter--only say the word, my dear
fellow."

"Why, then, I want you to aid me to dress."

"Dress? Eh, what, Beverley--get up, is it?"

"Yes. Pray get me my clothes--in the press yonder, I fancy."

"Certainly, my dear fellow, but are you strong enough?" inquired
Mr. Smivvle, coming to the press on tip-toe.

"Strong enough!" cried Barnabas in profound scorn, "Of course I am!"
and forthwith sprang to the floor and--clutched at the bedpost to
save himself from falling.

"Ha--I feared so!" said Mr. Smivvle, hurrying to him with the
garments clasped in his arms. "Steady! There, lean on me--I'll have
you back into bed in a jiffy."

"Bed!" snorted Barnabas, scowling down at himself. "Bed--never! I
shall be as right as a trivet in a minute or so. Oblige me with my
shirt."

So, with a little difficulty, despite Mr. Smivvle's ready aid,
Barnabas proceeded to invest himself in his clothes; which done, he
paced to and fro across the chamber leaning upon Mr. Smivvle's arm,
glorying in his returning strength.

"And so you are going to America?" inquired Barnabas, as he sank
into a chair, a little wearily.

"I sail for New York in three days' time, sir."

"But what of your place in Worcestershire?"

"Gone, sir," said Mr. Smivvle, beginning to feel for his whisker.
"Historic place, though devilish damp and draughty--will echo to the
tread of a Smivvle no more--highly affecting thought, sir--oh demmit!"

"As to--funds, now," began Barnabas, a little awkwardly, "are
you--have you--"

"Sir, I have enough to begin with--in America. Which reminds me I
must be hopping, sir. But I couldn't go without thanking you on
behalf of--my friend Barrymaine, seeing he is precluded from--from
doing it himself. Sir, it was a great--a great grief to me--to lose
him for, as I fancy I told you, the hand of a Smivvle, sir--but he
is gone beyond plague or pestilence, or Jews, dammem! And he died,
sir, like a gentleman. So, on his behalf I do thank you deeply, and
I beg, herewith, to return you the twenty guineas you would have
given him. Here they are, sir." So saying, Mr. Smivvle released his
whisker and drawing a much worn purse from his pocket, tendered it
to Barnabas.

Then, seeing the moisture in Mr. Smivvle's averted eyes, and the
drooping dejection of Mr. Smivvle's whiskers, Barnabas took the
purse and the hand also, and holding them thus clasped, spoke.

"Mr. Smivvle," said he, "it is a far better thing to take the hand
of an honorable man and a loyal gentleman than to kiss the fingers
of a prince. This money belonged to your dead friend, let it be an
inheritance from him. As to myself, as I claim it an honor to call
myself your friend, so let it be my privilege to help you in your new
life and--and you will find five thousand guineas to your credit
when you reach New York, and--and heaven prosper you."

"Sir--" began Mr. Smivvle, but his voice failing him he turned away
and crossing to the window stood there apparently lost in
contemplation of the glory of the morning.

"You will let me know how you get on, from time to time?" inquired
Barnabas.

"Sir," stammered Mr. Smivvle, "sir--oh, Beverley, I can't thank
you--I cannot, but--if I live, you shall find I don't forget and--"

"Hush! I think a door creaked somewhere!" said Barnabas, almost in a
tone of relief.

In an instant Mr. Smivvle had possessed himself of his shabby hat
and was astride of the window-sill. Yet there he paused to reach out
his hand, and now Barnabas might see a great tear that crept upon
his cheek--as bright, as glorious as any jewel.

"Good-by, Beverley!" he whispered as their hands met, "good-by, and
I shall never forget--never!"

So saying, he nodded, sighed and, swinging himself over the
window-ledge, lowered himself from sight.

But, standing there at the casement, Barnabas watched him presently
stride away towards a new world, upright of figure and with head
carried high like one who is full of confident purpose.

Being come to the end of the drive he turned, flourished his shabby
hat and so was gone.



CHAPTER LXXIV


HOW THE  DUCHESS MADE UP HER MIND, AND BARNABAS DID THE LIKE

"Gracious heavens--he's actually up--and dressed! Oh Lud, Barnabas,
what does this mean?"

Barnabas started and turned to find the Duchess regarding him from
the doorway and, though her voice was sharp, her eyes were
wonderfully gentle, and she had stretched out her hands to him.
Therefore he crossed the room a little unsteadily, and taking those
small hands in his, bent his head and kissed them reverently.

"It means that, thanks to you, Duchess, I am well again and--"

"And as pale as a goblin--no, I mean a ghost--trying to catch his
death of cold at an open window too--I mean you, not the ghost! And
as weak as--as a rabbit, and--oh, dear me, I can't shut it--the
casement--drat it! Thank you, Barnabas. Dear heaven, I am so
flurried--and even your boots on too! Let me sit down. Lud,
Barnabas--how thin you are!"

"But strong enough to go on my way--"

"Way? What way? Which way?"

"Home, Duchess."

"Home, home indeed? You are home--this is your home. Ashleydown is
yours now."

"Yes," nodded Barnabas, "I suppose it is, but I shall never live here,
I leave today. I am going home, but before I--"

"Home? What home--which home?"

"But before I do, I would thank you if I could, but how may I thank
you for all your motherly care of me? Indeed, dear Duchess, I cannot,
and yet--if words can--"

"Pho!" exclaimed the Duchess, knitting her brows at him, but with
eyes still ineffably soft and tender, "what do you mean by 'home,'
pray?"

"I am going back to my father and Natty Bell."

"And to--that inn?"

"Yes, Duchess. You see, there is not, there never was, there never
shall be quite such another inn as the old 'Hound.'"

"And you--actually mean to--live there?"

"Yes, for a time, but--"

"Ha--a publican!" exclaimed the Duchess and positively sniffed,
though only as a really great lady may.

"--there is a farm near by, I shall probably--"

"Ha--a farmer!" snorted the Duchess.

"--raise horses, madam, and with Natty Bell's assistance I hope--"

"Horses!" cried the Duchess, and sniffed again. "Horses, indeed!
Absurd! Preposterous! Quite ridiculous--hush, sir! I have some
questions to ask you."

"Well, Duchess?"

"Firstly, sir, what of your dreams? What of London? What of Society?"

"They were--only dreams," answered Barnabas; "in place of them I
shall have--my father and Natty Bell."

"Secondly, sir,--what of your fine ambitions?"

"It will be my ambition, henceforth, to breed good horses, madam."

"Thirdly, sir,--what of your money?"

"I shall hope to spend it to much better purpose in the country than
in the World of Fashion, Duchess."

"Oh Lud, Barnabas,--what a selfish creature you are!"

"Selfish, madam?"

"A perfect--wretch!"

"Wretch?" said Barnabas, staring.

"Wretch!" nodded the Duchess, frowning, "and pray don't echo my words,
sir. I say you are a preposterously selfish wretch, and--so you are!"

"But, madam, why? What do you mean?"

"I mean that you should try to forget yourself occasionally and
think of others--me, for instance; look at me--a solitary old
woman--in a wig!"

"You, Duchess?"

"Me, Barnabas. And this brings me to fourthly--what of me, sir?
--what of me?"

"But, madam, I--"

"And this brings me to fifthly and sixthly and seventhly--my hopes,
and dreams, and plans, sir--are they all to be broken, spoiled,
ruined by your hatefully selfish whims, sir--hush, not a word!"

"But, Duchess, indeed I don't--"

"Hush, sir, and listen to me. There are days when my wig rebukes me,
sir, and my rouge-pot stares me out of countenance; yes, indeed, I
sometimes begin to feel almost--middle-aged and, at such times, I
grow a little lonely. Heaven, sir, doubtless to some wise end, has
always denied me that which is a woman's abiding joy or shame--I
mean a child, sir, and as the years creep on, one is apt to be a
little solitary, now and then, and at such times I feel the need of
a son--so I have determined to adopt you, Barnabas--today! Now! This
minute! Not a word, sir, my mind is made up!"

"But," stammered Barnabas, "but, madam, I--I beg you to consider--my
father--"

"Is a publican and probably a sinner, Barnabas. I may be a sinner too,
perhaps--y-e-s, I fear I am, occasionally. But then I am also a
Duchess, and it is far wiser in a man to be the adopted son of a
sinful Duchess than the selfish son of a sinful publican, yes indeed."

"But I, madam, what can I say? Dear Duchess, I--the honor you would
do me--" floundered poor Barnabas, "believe me if--if--"

"Not another word!" the Duchess interposed, "it is quite settled. As
my adopted son Society shall receive you on bended knees, with open
arms--I'll see to that! All London shall welcome you, for though I'm
old and wear a wig, I'm very much alive, and Society knows it. So no
more talk of horses, or farms, or inns, Barnabas; my mind, as I say,
is quite made up and--"

"But, madam," said Barnabas gently, "so is mine."

"Ha--indeed, sir--well?"

"Well, madam, today I go to my father."

"Ah!" sighed the Duchess.

"Though indeed I thank you humbly for--your condescension."

"Hum!" said the Duchess.

"And honor you most sincerely for--for--"

"Oh?" said the Duchess, softly.

"And most truly love and reverence you for your womanliness."

"Oh!" said the Duchess again, this time very softly indeed, and with
her bright eyes more youthful than ever.

"Nevertheless," pursued Barnabas a little ponderously, "my father is
my father, and I count it more honorable to be his son than to live
an amateur gentleman and the friend of princes."

"Quite so," nodded the Duchess, "highly filial and very pious, oh,
indeed, most righteous and laudable, but--there remains an eighthly,
Barnabas."

"And pray, madam, what may that be?"

"What of Cleone?"

Now when the Duchess said this, Barnabas turned away to the window
and leaning his head in his hands, was silent awhile.

"Cleone!" he sighed at last, "ah, yes--Cleone!"

"You love her, I suppose?"

"So much--so very much that she shall never marry an innkeeper's son,
or a discredited--"

"Bah!" exclaimed the Duchess.

"Madam?"

"Don't be so hatefully proud, Barnabas."

"Proud, madam--I?"

"Cruelly, wickedly, hatefully proud! Oh, dear me! what a superbly
virtuous, heroic fool you are, Barnabas. When you met her at the
crossroads, for instance--oh, I know all about it--when you had her
there--in your arms, why didn't you--run off with her and marry her,
as any ordinary human man would have done? Dear heaven, it would
have been so deliciously romantic! And--such an easy way out of it!"

"Yes," said Barnabas, beginning to frown, "so easy that it was--wrong!"

"Quite so and fiddlesticks!" sniffed the Duchess.

"Madam?"

"Oh, sir, pray remember that one wrong may sometimes make two right!
As it is, you will let your abominable pride--yes, pride! wreck and
ruin two lives. Bah!" cried the Duchess very fiercely as she rose
and turned to the door, "I've no patience with you!"

"Ah, Duchess," said Barnabas, staying her with pleading hands,
"can't you see--don't you understand? Were she, this proud lady, my
wife, I must needs be haunted, day and night, by the fear that some
day, soon or late, she would find me to be--not of her world--not
the man she would have me, but only--the publican's son, after all.
Now--don't you see why I dare not?"

"Oh, Pride! Pride!" exclaimed the Duchess. "Do you expect her to
come to you, then--would you have her go down on her knees to you,
and--beg you to marry her?"

Barnabas turned to the window again and stood there awhile staring
blindly out beyond the swaying green of trees; when at last he spoke
his voice was hoarse and there was a bitter smile upon his lips.

"Yes, Duchess," said he slowly, "before such great happiness could
be mine she must come to me, she must go down upon her knees--proud
lady that she is--and beg this innkeeper's son to marry her. So you
see, Duchess, I--shall never marry!"

Now when at last Barnabas looked round, the Duchess had her back to
him, nor did she turn even when she spoke.

"Then you are going back--to your father?"

"Yes, madam."

"To-day?"

"Yes, madam."

"Then--good-by, Barnabas! And remember that even roses, like all
things else, have a habit of fading, sooner or later." And thus,
without even glancing at him, the Duchess went out of the room and
closed the door softly behind her.

Then Barnabas sank into a chair, like one that is very tired, and
sat there lost in frowning thought, and with one hand clasped down
upon his breast where hidden away in a clumsily contrived
hiding-place a certain rose, even at that moment, was fading away.
And in a while being summoned by Peterby, he sighed and, rising,
went down to his solitary breakfast.



CHAPTER LXXV


WHICH TELLS WHY BARNABAS FORGOT HIS BREAKFAST

It was a slender little shoe, and solitary, for fellow it had none,
and it lay exactly in the middle of the window-seat; moreover, to
the casual observer, it was quite an ordinary little shoe, ordinary,
be it understood, in all but its size.

Why, then, should Barnabas, chancing to catch sight of so ordinary
an object, start up from his breakfast (ham and eggs, and fragrant
coffee) and crossing the room with hasty step, pause to look down at
this small and lonely object that lay so exactly in the middle of
the long, deep window-seat? Why should his hand shake as he stooped
and took it up? Why should the color deepen in his pale cheek?

And all this because of a solitary little shoe! A quite ordinary
little shoe--to the casual observer! Oh, thou Casual Observer who
seeing so much, yet notices and takes heed to so little beyond thy
puny self! To whom the fairest prospect is but so much earth and so
much timber! To whom music is but an arrangement of harmonious sounds,
and man himself but a being erect upon two legs! Oh, thou Casual
Observer, what a dull, gross, self-contented clod art thou, who,
having eyes and ears, art blind and deaf to aught but things as
concrete as--thyself!

But for this shoe, it, being something worn, yet preserved the mould
of the little foot that had trodden it, a slender, coquettish little
foot, a shapely, active little foot: a foot, perchance, to trip it
gay and lightly to a melody, or hurry, swift, untiring, upon some
errand of mercy.

All this, and more, Barnabas noted (since he, for one, was no casual
observer) as he stood there in the sunlight with the little shoe
upon his palm, while the ham and eggs languished forgotten and the
coffee grew cold, for how might they hope to vie with this that had
lain so lonely, so neglected and--so exactly in the middle of the
window-seat?

Now presently, as Barnabas stood thus lost in contemplation of this
shoe, he was aware of Peterby entering behind him, and instinctively
made as if to hide the shoe in his bosom, but he checked the impulse,
turned, and glancing at Peterby, saw that his usually grave lips were
quivering oddly at the corners, and that he kept his gaze fixed
pertinaciously upon the coffee-pot; whereat the pale cheek of
Barnabas grew suffused again, and stepping forward, he laid the
little shoe upon the table.

"John," said he, pointing to it, "have you ever seen this before?"

"Why, sir," replied Peterby, regarding the little shoe with brow of
frowning portent, "I think I have."

"And pray," continued Barnabas (asking a perfectly unnecessary
question), "whose is it, do you suppose?"

"Sir," answered John, still grave of mouth and solemn of eye,
"to the best of my belief it belongs to the Lady Cleone Meredith."

"So she--really was here, John?"

"Sir, she came here the same night that you--were shot, and she
brought Her Grace of Camberhurst with her."

"Yes, John?"

"And they remained here until today--to nurse you, sir."

"Did they, John?"

"They took turns to be with you--day and night, sir. But it was only
my Lady Cleone who could soothe your delirious ravings,--she seemed
to have a magic--"

"And why," demanded Barnabas, frowning suddenly, "Why was I never
told of her presence?"

"Sir, it was her earnest wish that you were not to know unless--"

"Well, John?"

"Unless you expressly asked for her, by name. And, sir--you never did."

"No," sighed Barnabas, "I never did. But perhaps, after all, it was
just as well, John? Under the--circumstances, John?"

But seeing Peterby only shook his head and sighed, Barnabas turned
to stare out of the window.

"And she--left this morning--with the Duchess, did she?" he inquired,
without looking round.

"Yes, sir."

"Where for?"

"For--London, as I understood, sir."

Hereupon Barnabas was silent for a time, during which Peterby
watched him solicitously.

"Is 'The Terror' still here?" Barnabas inquired suddenly.

"Yes, sir, and I took the liberty of sending for Gabriel Martin to
look after him."

"Quite right, John. Tell Martin to have him saddled at once."

"You are--going out, sir?"

"Yes, I am going--out."

Peterby bowed and crossed to the door, but paused there, hesitated,
and finally spoke:

"Sir, may I ask if you intend to ride--Londonwards?"

"No," answered Barnabas, stifling a sigh, "my way lies in the
opposite direction; I am going--back, to the 'Coursing Hound.' And
that reminds me--what of you, what are your plans for the future?"

"Sir," stammered Peterby, "I--I had ventured to--to hope that you
might--take me with you, unless you wished to--to be rid of me--"

"Rid of you, John!" cried Barnabas, turning at last, "no--never. Why,
man, I need you more than ever!"

"Sir," exclaimed Peterby, flushing suddenly, "do you--really mean that?"

"Yes, John--a thousand times, yes! For look you, as I have proved
you the best valet in the world--so have I proved you a man, and it
is the man I need now, because--I am a failure."

"No, no!"

"Yes, John. In London I attempted the impossible, and today
I--return home, a failure. Consequently the future looms rather dark
before me, John, and at such times a tried friend is a double
blessing. So, come with me, John, and help me to face the future as
a man should."

"Ah, sir," answered Peterby, with his sudden radiant smile,
"darkness cannot endure, and if the future brings its sorrows, so
must it bring its joys. Surely the future stands for hope and--I
think--happiness!"

Now as he ended, Peterby raised one hand with forefinger outstretched;
and, looking where he pointed, Barnabas beheld--the little shoe. But
when he glanced up again, Peterby was gone.



CHAPTER LXXVI


HOW THE VISCOUNT PROPOSED A TOAST

"Oh--hif you please, sir!"

Barnabas started, raised his head, and, glancing over his shoulder,
beheld Milo of Crotona. He was standing in the middle of the room
looking very cherubic, very natty, and very upright of back; and he
stared at Barnabas with his innocent blue eyes very wide, and with
every one of the eight winking, twinkling, glittering buttons on his
small jacket--indeed, it seemed to Barnabas that to-day his buttons
were rather more knowing than usual, if that could well be.
Therefore Barnabas dropped his table-napkin, very adroitly, upon a
certain object that yet lay upon the table before him, ere he turned
about and addressed himself to the Viscount's diminutive "tiger."

"What, my Imp," said he, "where in the world have you sprung from,
pray? I didn't see you come in."

"No, sir--'cause you jest 'appened to be lookin' at that there
little boot, you did." Thus Master Milo, and his eyes were guileless
as an angel's, but--his buttons--!

"Hum!" said Barnabas, rubbing his chin. "But how did you get in, Imp?"

"Froo de winder, sir, I did. An' I 've come to tell you 'is
Ludship's compliments, and 'e's a-comin' along wiv 'er, 'e is."

"With--whom?"

"Wiv my lady--'er."

"What lady?"

"Wiv 'is Ludship's lady, 'is Vi-coun-tess,--'er."

"His Viscountess!" repeated Barnabas, staring, "do you mean that the
Viscount is--actually married?"

"'T ain't my fault, sir--no fear, it ain't. 'E went and done it be'ind
my back--s'morning as ever was, 'e did. I didn't know nothin' about it
till it was too late, 'e done it unbeknownst to me, sir, 'e did, an'
she done it too a' course, an' the Yurl went an' 'elped 'em to do it,
'e did. So did the Cap'n, and the Doochess an' Lady Cleone--they all
'elped 'em to do it, they did. An' now they're goin' into the country,
to Deven'am, an' I'm a-goin' wiv 'em--an' they're a-drivin' over to
see you, sir, in 'is Ludship's noo phayton--an' that's all--no,
it ain't though."

"What more, Imp?"

"Why, as they all come away from the church--where they'd been
a-doin' of it, sir--I met the little, old Doochess in 'er coach, an'
she see me, too. 'Why it's the little Giant!' she sez. 'Best respex,
mam,' I sez, an' then I see as she'd got Lady Cleone wiv 'er--a fine,
'igh-steppin', 'andsome young filly, I call 'er, an' no error.
'Where are you goin', Giant?' sez the Doochess. 'I'm a-goin' to drop
in on Mr. Bev'ley, mam, I am,' I sez. 'Then give 'im my love,' she
sez, 'an' tell 'im I shan't never forget 'is pride and 'is
selfishness,' she sez,--an' she give me a crown into the bargain,
she did. An' then--jest as the coach was a-drivin' off t'other
'un--the young 'un, give me this. 'For Mr. Bev'ley,' she sez in a
whisper, and--here it be, sir."

Saying which, Master Milo handed Barnabas a small folded paper
whereon, scribbled in Cleone's well-known writing, were these three
aphorisms:

  1. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty
     spirit before a fall.

  2. Selfishness shall find its own reward.

  3. Journeys end in lovers' meetings.

Long stood Barnabas devouring these words with his eyes; so puzzled
and engrossed was he indeed, that not until Master Milo ventured to
touch him on the arm did he look up.

"'Ere's 'is Ludship, sir," explained Milo, jerking his thumb towards
the open window, "a-drivin' up the av'noo, sir, in 'is phayton,
and wiv 'is noo Vi-coun-tess along of him--and a reg'lar 'igh-stepper
she looks, don't she? Arter all, I don't blame 'im for goin' an' doin'
of it, I don't. Ye see, I allus 'ad a tender spot for Miss Clemency,
mam, I 'ad, and a fine, proper, bang up Vi-coun-tess she do make,
an' no error, sir--now don't she?"

"Surely," nodded Barnabas, looking where Milo pointed, "surely she
is the handsomest, sweetest young Viscountess in all England, Imp."

So saying, he strode from the room with Master Milo trotting at his
heels, and being come out upon the terrace, stood to watch the
phaeton's rapid approach.

And, indeed, what words could be found in any language that could
possibly do justice to the gentle, glowing beauty of Mistress
Clemency Dare, transformed now, for good and all, into Beatrix,
Viscountess Devenham? What brush could paint the mantling color of
her cheek, the tender light of her deep, soft eyes, the ripe
loveliness of her shape, and all the indefinable grace and charm of
her? Surely none.

And now, Master Milo has darted forward and sprung to the horses'
heads, for the Viscount has leapt to earth and has caught at
Barnabas with both hands almost before the phaeton has come to a
stand.

"Why, Bev--my dear old fellow, this is a joyful surprise! oh, bruise
and blister me!" exclaimed the Viscount, viewing Barnabas up and
down with radiant eyes, "to see you yourself again at last--and on
this day of all days--this makes everything quite complete,
y'know--doesn't it, Clemency? Expected to find you in bed,
y'know--didn't we, Clem, dear? And oh--egad, Bev--er--my wife, y'know.
You haven't heard, of course, that I--that we--"

"Yes, I've just heard," said Barnabas, smiling, "and God knows, Dick,
I rejoice in your joy and wish you every happiness!" And, speaking,
he turned and looked into the flushing loveliness of Clemency's face.

"Mr. Beverley--oh, Barnabas--dear brother!" she said softly,
"but for you, this day might never have dawned for us--" and she
gave both her hands into his. "Oh, believe me, in my joy, as in my
sorrow, I shall remember you always."

"And I too, Bev!" added the Viscount.

"And," continued Clemency, her voice a little tearful, "whatever
happiness the future may hold will only make that memory all the
dearer, Barnabas."

"Gad, yes, that it will, Bev!" added the Viscount. "And, my dear
fellow," he pursued, growing somewhat incoherent because of his
earnestness, "I want to tell you that--that because I--I'm so
deucedly happy myself, y' know, I wish that my luck had been
yours--no, I don't mean that exactly, but what I meant to say was
that I--that you deserve to--to--oh, blister me! Tell him what I mean,
Clemency dear," the Viscount ended, a little hoarsely.

"That you deserve to know a love as great, a joy as deep as ours,
dear Barnabas."

"Exactly!" nodded the Viscount, with a fond look at his young wife;
"Precisely what I meant, Bev, for I'm the proudest, happiest fellow
alive, y' know. And what's more, my dear fellow, in marrying
Clemency I marry also an heiress possessed of all the attributes
necessary to bowl over a thousand flinty-hearted Roman P's, and my
Roman's heart--though tough, was never quite a flint, after all."

"Indeed, sir--he would have welcomed me without a penny!" retorted
Clemency, blushing, and consequently looking lovelier than ever.

"Why--to be sure he would!" said Barnabas. "Indeed, who wouldn't?"

"Exactly, Bev!" replied the Viscount, "she cornered him with the
first glance, floored him with a second, and had him fairly beaten
out of the ring with a third. Gad, if you'd only been there to see!"

"Would I had!" sighed Barnabas.

"Still there's always--the future, y' know!" nodded the Viscount.
"Ah, yes, and with an uncommonly big capital F, y' know, Bev. It was
decreed that we were to be friends by--well, you remember who,
Bev--and friends we always must be, now and hereafter, amen, my dear
fellow, and between you and me--and my Viscountess, I think the
Future holds more happiness for you than ever the past did. Your
turn will come, y' know, Bev--we shall be dancing at your wedding
next--shan't we, Clem?"

"No, Dick," answered Barnabas, shaking his head, "I shall never marry."

"Hum!" said the Viscount, fingering his chin and apparently lost in
contemplation of a fleecy cloud.

"Of that I am--quite certain."

"Ha!" said the Viscount, staring down at the toe of his glossy boot.

"But," continued Barnabas, "even in my loneliness--"

"His loneliness--hum!" said the Viscount, still contemplating his
resplendent boot. "Clemency dear, do you suppose our Barnabas fellow
will be groaning over his 'loneliness'--to-morrow, say?" Hereupon,
the Viscount laughed suddenly, and for no apparent reason, while
even Clemency's red lips curved and parted in a smile.

"But," said Barnabas, looking from one to the other, "I don't
understand!"

"Neither do we, Bev. Only, dear fellow, remember this, 'there is a
destiny which shapes our ends,' and--occasionally, a Duchess." But
here, while Barnabas still glanced at them in perplexity, John
Peterby appeared, bearing a tray whereon stood a decanter and glasses.

"Ha!--most excellent Peterby!" cried the Viscount, "you come pat to
the occasion, as usual. Fill up for all of us, yes--even my small
Imp yonder; I have a toast to give you." And, when the glasses
brimmed, the Viscount turned and looked at Barnabas with his boyish
smile. "Let us drink," said he, "to the Future, and the Duchess's
move!"

So the toast was drunk with all due honors: but when Barnabas sought
an explanation, the Viscount laughed and shook his head.

"Pray ask my Viscountess," said he, with a fond look at her, and
turned away to rebuckle a trace under the anxious supervision of
Master Milo.

"Indeed, no, Barnabas," said Clemency, smiling, "I cannot explain,
as Dick well knows. But this I must tell you, while you lay here,
very near death, I came to see you often with my dear father."

"Ah!" exclaimed Barnabas, "then you met--her?"

"Yes, I met Cleone, and I--loved her. She was very tired and worn,
the first time I saw her; you were delirious, and she had watched
over you all night. Of course we talked of you, and she told me how
she had found my letter to you, the only one I ever wrote you, and
how she had misjudged you. And then she cried, and I took her in my
arms and kissed away her tears and comforted her. So we learned to
know and love each other, you see."

"I am very glad," said Barnabas, slowly, and with his gaze on the
distance, "for her sake and yours."

Now as she looked at him, Clemency sighed all at once, yet
thereafter smiled very tenderly, and so smiling, gave him both her
hands.

"Oh, Barnabas," said she, "I know Happiness will come to you, sooner
or later--when least expected, as it came to me, so--dear Barnabas,
smile!"

Then Barnabas, looking from her tearful, pitying eyes to the hand
upon whose finger was a certain plain gold ring that shone so very
bright and conspicuous because of its newness, raised that slender
hand to his lips.

"Thank you, Clemency," he answered, "but why are you--so sure?"

"A woman's intuition, perhaps, Barnabas, or perhaps, because if ever
a man deserved to be happy--you do, dear brother."

"Amen to that!" added the Viscount, who had at length adjusted the
trace to his own liking and Master Milo's frowning approval. "Good-by,
Bev," he continued, gripping the hand Barnabas extended. "We are going
down to Devenham for a week or so--Clemency's own wish, and when we
come back I have a feeling that the--the shadows, y' know, will have
passed quite away, y'know,--for good and all. Good-by, dear fellow,
good-by!" So saying, the Viscount turned, rather hastily, sprang into
the phaeton and took up the reins.

"Are you right there, Imp?"

"All right, m'lud!" answers that small person with one foot posed
negligently on the step, waiting till the last possible moment ere
he mounts to his perch behind. So, with a last "good-by" the
Viscount touches up his horses, the light vehicle shoots forward
with Master Milo swinging suspended in mid-air, who turns to Barnabas,
flashes his eight buttons at him, touches his hat to him, folds his
arms, and, sitting very stiff in the back, is presently whirled out
of sight.



CHAPTER LXXVII


HOW BARNABAS RODE HOMEWARDS, AND TOOK COUNSEL OF A PEDLER OF BOOKS

It was well on in the afternoon when Barnabas, booted and spurred,
stepped out into the sunshine where old Gabriel Martin walked
"The Terror" to and fro before the door.

"Very glad to see you out and about again, sir," said he, beaming of
face and with a finger at his grizzled temple.

"Thank you, Martin."

"And so is the 'oss, sir--look at 'im!" And indeed the great, black
horse had tossed up his lofty crest and stood, one slender fore-leg
advanced and with sensitive ears pricked forward, snuffing at
Barnabas as he came slowly down the steps.

"He doesn't seem to have taken any hurt from the last race we had
together," said Barnabas.

"'Arm, sir--lord, no--not a bit, never better! There's a eye for you,
there's a coat! I tell you, sir, 'e's in the very pink, that 'e is."

"He does you great credit, Martin."

"Sir," said Martin as Barnabas prepared to mount, "sir, I hear as
you ain't thinking of going back to town?"

"To the best of my belief, no, Martin."

"Why, then, sir," said the old groom, his face clouding, "p'r'aps I
'd better be packing up my bits o' traps, sir?"

"Yes, Martin, I think you had," answered Barnabas, and swung himself
somewhat awkwardly into the saddle.

"Very good, sir!" sighed old Martin, his gray head drooping.
"I done my best for the 'oss and you, sir, but I know I'm a bit too
old for the job, p'r'aps, and--"

But at this moment Peterby approached.

"Sir," he inquired, a little anxiously, "do you feel able--well
enough to ride--alone?"

"Why, bless you, John, of course I do. I'm nearly well," answered
Barnabas, settling his feet in the stirrups, "and that reminds me,
you will discharge all the servants--a month's wages, John, and shut
up this place as soon as possible. As for Martin here, of course you
will bring him with you if he will come. We shall need him hereafter,
shan't we, John? And perhaps we'd better offer him another ten shillings
a week considering he will have so many more responsibilities
on the farm."

So saying, Barnabas waved his hand, wheeled his horse, and rode off
down the drive; but, glancing back, when he had gone a little way,
he saw that Peterby and the old groom yet stood looking after him,
and in the face of each was a brightness that was not of the sun.

On rode Barnabas, filling his lungs with great draughts of the balmy
air and looking about him, eager-eyed. And thus, beholding the
beauty of wooded hill and dale, already mellowing to Autumn, the
heaviness was lifted from his spirit, his drooping back grew straight,
and raising his eyes to the blue expanse of heaven, he gloried that
he was alive.

But, in a while, remembering Cleone's note, he must needs check his
speed, and taking the paper from his bosom, began to con it over:

  1. Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty
  spirit before a fall.

  2. Selfishness shall find its own reward.

  3. Journeys end in lovers' meetings.

Now as he rode thus at a hand-pace, puzzling over these cryptic words,
he was presently aroused by a voice, somewhat harsh and discordant,
singing at no great distance; and the words of the song were these:

  "Push about the brisk bowl, 't will enliven the heart
    While thus we sit down on the grass;
  The lover who talks of his sufferings and smart
    Deserves to be reckoned an ass, an ass,
    Deserves to be reckoned an ass."

Therefore Barnabas raised his head and, glancing to one side of the
way, beheld the singer sitting beneath the hedge. He was a small,
merry-eyed man and, while he sang, he was busily setting out certain
edibles upon the grass at his feet; now glancing from this very
small man to the very large pack that lay beside him, Barnabas
reined up and looked down at him with a smile.

"And pray," he inquired, "how do books sell these days?"

"Why, they do and they don't, sir. Sermons are a drug and novels
ain't much better, poems is pretty bobbish, but song-books is my meat.
And, talking o' songbooks, here's one as is jest the thing for a
convivial cock o' the game--a fine, young, slap-up buck like you, my
Lord. Here's a book to kill care, drive away sorrer, and give a
'leveller' to black despair. A book as'll make the sad merry, and
the merry merrier. Hark to this now!"

So saying, the Pedler drew a book from his pack, and opening it at
the title-page, began to read as follows, with much apparent unction
and gusto:


                  THE HEARTY FELLOW:

                          OR

               JOYOUS SOUL'S COMPANION.

                       BEING A
           Chaste, Elegant, and Humourous
                COLLECTION OF SONGS,
             for the ENTERTAINMENT of:

  The TENDER MAID, the PINING LOVER, the CHOICE
  SPIRIT, the DROLL DOG, the JOVIAL SPORTSMAN, the
  DARING SOLDIER and the ROUGH, HONEST TAR:
  and for all those who would wish to render themselves agreeable,
  divert the Company, kill Care, and be joyous; where the
  high-seasoned WIT and HUMOUR will be sufficient Apology for
  a bad Voice, and by which such as have a tolerable one will be
  able to Shine without repressing the Laugh of the merrily
  disposed, or offending the Ear of the chastest Virgin.

  To which is added:

  A complete Collection of the Various TOASTS, SENTIMENTS,
  and HOB-NOBS, that have been drank, are now
  drinking, and some new Ones offered for Adoption.

"There you are, sir--there's a book for you! A book? A whole
li-bree--a vaddy-mekkum o' wit, and chock full o' humor! What d' ye
say for such a wollum o' sparkling bon mots? Say a guinea, say
fifteen bob? say ten? Come--you shall take it for five! Five bob for
a book as ain't to be ekalled no-how and no-wheer--"

"Not in Asia, Africa or America?" said Barnabas.

"Eh?" said the Pedler, glancing sharply up at him, "why--what, Lord
love me--it's you, is it? aha! So it did the trick for you, did it?"

"What do you mean?"

"Mean, sir? Lord, what should I mean, but that there book on Ettyket,
as I sold you--that priceless wollum as I give you--for five bob,
months ago, when the larks was a-singing so inspiring."

"Yes, it was a lovely morning, I remember."

"Ah! and you left me that morning, a fine, upstanding young country
cove, but to-day--ah, to-day you are a bang up blood--a gent, inside
and out, a-riding of a magnificent 'oss--and all on account o'
follering the instructions in that 'ere blessed tome as I sold
you--for five bob! And dirt-cheap at the money!"

"And I find you exactly as you were," said Barnabas thoughtfully,
"yes, even to the bread and cheese."

"There you are wrong, sir--axing your pardon. This time it's 'alf a
loaf--medium, a slice o' beef--small, and a cold per-tater--large.
But cold per-taters is full o' nourishment, if eat with a contented
mind--ah, there's oceans o' nourishment in a cold per-tater--took
reg'lar. O' course, for them as is flush o' the rhino, and wants a
blow-out, there's nothin' like two o' leg o' beef with a dash o' pea,
'alf a scaffold-pole, a plate o' chats, and a swimmer--it's
wholesome and werry filling, and don't cost more than a groat, but
give me a cold per-tater to walk on. But you, sir," continued the
Pedler, beginning to eat with great appetite, "you, being a reg'lar
'eavy-toddler now, one o' the gilded nobs--and all on account o'
that there priceless wollum as I--give away to you--for five bob!
you, being now a blue-blooded aris-to-crat, don't 'ave to walk, so
you can go in for plovers or pheasants or partridges, dressed up in
hartichokes, p'r'aps, yes--frogs'-legs is your constant fodder now,
p'r'aps--not to mention rag-outs and sich.  Oh, yes, I reckon you've
done a lot, and seen a lot, and--eat a lot since the morning as I
give you a priceless wollum worth its weight in solid gold as was
wrote by a Person o' Quality--and all for five bob! jest because
them larks 'appened to be singing so sentimental--drat 'em!   Ah well,"
sighed the Pedler, bolting the last morsel of beef, "and 'ow did you
find London, young sir?"

"Much bigger than I expected."

"Ah, it is a bit biggish till you get used to it. And it's amazing
what you can see--if you looks 'ard enough, like the tombs in St.
Paul's Churchyard, f'r instance. I knowed of a chap once as spent
over a week a-looking for 'em, and never see so much as a single
'eadstone--but then, 'e were born stone-blind, so it were only
nat'ral as 'e _should_ miss 'em, p'r'aps. But you, young sir, 'ow
did you pass your time?"

"Principally in dressing and undressing."

"Ah, jess so, jess so--coats cut 'igh and coats cut low! But what
more?"

"And in eating and drinking."

"Ah, French hortolons, p'r'aps, with a occasional tongue of a lark
throwed in for a relish, jess so! But what more--did ye marry a
duchess, f'r instance?"

"Alas, no!"

"Elope with a earl's daughter, then?"

"No."

"Well--did ye fight any dooels?"

"Not a single one."

"Lord, young sir--you 'ave been a-missing of your opportunities, you
'ave, playing fast and loose wi' Fortun', I calls it--ah, fair
flying in the face o' Providence! Now, if instead o' selling books I
took to writing of 'em, and tried to write you into a novel, why,
Lord, what a poor thing that there novel would be! Who'd want to read
it?--why, nobody! Oh, I can see as you've been throwing away your
opportunities and wasting your chances shocking, you 'ave."

"Now I wonder," said Barnabas, frowning thoughtfully, "I wonder if I
have?"

"Not a doubt of it!" answered the Pedler, swallowing the last of his
potato.

"Then the sooner I begin to make up for it, the better."

"Ah!" nodded the Pedler. "I should begin at once, if I was you."

"I will," said Barnabas, gathering up the reins.

"And how, sir?"

"By going my allotted way and--striving to be content."

"Content!" exclaimed the Pedler, "lord, young sir, it's only fools
as is ever content! A contented man never done anything much worth
'aving, nor said anything much worth 'caring as ever I 'eard. Never
go for to be content, young sir, or you'll never do nothing at all!"

"Why, then," said Barnabas, smiling ruefully, "it is certain that I
shall achieve something yet, because--I never shall be content!"

"That's the spirit, young sir--aim 'igh. Jest look at me--born in
the gutter, but I wasn't content wi' the gutter so I taught myself
to read and write. But I wasn't content to read and write, so I took
to the book trade, and 'ere I am to-day travelling the roads and wi'
a fairish connection, but I ain't content--Lord, no! I'd like to be
a dook a-rolling in a chariot, or a prince o' the blood, or the
Prime Minister a-laying down the law. That's the sperrit--shoot 'igh,
ah! shoot at the sun and you're bound to 'it summat if it's only a
tree or a 'ay-stack. So, if you can't be a dook or a prince, you can
allus be--a man--if you try 'ard enough. What--are ye going, young
sir?"

"Yes," answered Barnabas, leaning down from the saddle, "good-by,
and thank you for your advice," and he stretched out his hand.

Hereupon the pedler of books rose to his feet and rather diffidently
clasped the proffered hand. So Barnabas smiled down at him, nodded
and rode upon his way, but as for the Pedler, he stood there,
staring after him open-mouthed, and with the yellow coins shining
upon his palm.



CHAPTER LXXVIII


WHICH TELLS HOW BARNABAS CAME HOME AGAIN, AND HOW HE AWOKE FOR THE
FOURTH TIME

Evening was falling as Barnabas came to the top of the hill and,
drawing rein, paused there to look down at a certain inn. It was a
somewhat small and solitary inn, an ancient inn with many lattices,
and with pointed gables whose plaster and cross-beams were just now
mellowed by the rosy glow of sunset.

Surely, surely, nowhere in all broad England could there be found
just such another inn as this, or one more full of that reposeful
dignity which only age can bestow. And in all its length of days
never had "The Coursing Hound" looked more restful, more comfortable
and home-like than upon this early Autumn evening. And remembering
those two gray-headed men, who waited within its hospitable walls,
eager to give him welcome, who might, perchance, even now be talking
of him one to another, what wonder if, as our Barnabas gazed down at
it from worn steps to crooked chimney, from the faded sign before
the door of it to the fragrant rick-yard that lay behind it, what
wonder (I say) if it grew blurred all at once, and misty, or that
Barnabas should sigh so deeply and sit with drooping head, while the
old inn blinked its casements innocently in the level rays of the
setting sun, like the simple, guileless old inn that it was!

But lo! all at once forth from its weather-beaten porch issued two
figures, clean-limbed, athletic figures these--men who strode strong
and free, with shoulders squared and upright of back, though the
head of each was grizzled with years. On they came, shoulder to
shoulder, the one a tall man with a mighty girth of chest, the other
slighter, shorter, but quick and active as a cat, and who already
had gained a good yard upon his companion; whereupon the big man
lengthened his stride; whereupon the slighter man broke into a trot;
whereupon the big man fell into a run; whereupon the slighter man
followed suit and thus, neck and neck, they raced together up the
hill and so, presently reaching the summit, very little breathed
considering, pulled up on either side of Barnabas.

"Father!" he cried, "Natty Bell! Oh, it's good to be home again!"

"Man Jack, it's all right!" said Natty Bell, nodding to John, but
shaking away at the hand Barnabas had reached down to him, "_our_
lad's come back to us, yes, Barnabas has come home, John, and--it
_is_ our Barnabas--London and Fashion aren't spiled him, John,
thank God!"

"No," answered John ponderously, "no, Natty Bell, London aren't
spiled him, and--why, Barnabas, I'm glad to see ye, lad--yes,
I'm--glad, and--and--why, there y'are, Barnabas."

"Looks a bit palish, though, John!" said Natty Bell, shaking his head,
"but that's only nat'ral, arter all, yes--a bit palish, p'r'aps, but,
man Jack--what o' that?"

"And a bit thinnish, Natty Bell," replied John, "but Lord! a few
days and we'll have him as right as--as ever, yes, quite right, and
there y' are, Natty Bell!"

"P'r'aps you might be wishful to tell him, John, as you've had the
old 'Hound' brightened up a bit?"

"Why, yes, Barnabas," nodded John, "in honor o' this occasion--though,
to be sure, the sign would look better for a touch o' paint here and
there--the poor old Hound's only got three legs and a tail left,
d' ye see--and the hare, Barnabas, the hare--ain't!"

"P'r'aps we'd better take and let him see for hisself, John?"

"Right, Natty Bell, so he shall."

Thus, presently, Barnabas rode on between them down the hill,
looking from one to the other, but saying very little, because his
heart was so full.

"And this be the 'oss you wrote us about--hey, Barnabas lad?"
inquired Natty Bell, stepping back and viewing 'The Terror' over
with an eye that took in all his points. "Ha--a fine action, lad--"

  'Pray haven't you heard of a jolly young coal-heaver
  Who down at Hungerford used for to ply--'

"A leetle--leggy? p'r'aps, Barnabas, and yet--ha!"

  'His daddles he used with such skill and dexterity,
  Winning each mill, sir, and blacking each eye--'

"His cannons'll never trouble him, Barnabas, come rough or smooth,
and you didn't say a word too much in your letter. Man Jack--you
behold a 'oss as is a 'oss--though, mark you, John, a leetle bit
roundish in the barrel and fullish in the shoulder--still, a animal,
John, as I'm burning to cock a leg over."

"Why, then, Natty Bell, so you shall," said Barnabas, and forthwith
down he swung himself and, being a little careless, wracked his
injured shoulder and flinched a little, which the slow-spoken,
quick-eyed John was swift to notice and, almost diffidently drew his
son's arm through his own. But, Natty Bell, joyful of eye, was
already in the saddle; whereat "The Terror," resenting the change,
immediately began to dance and to sidle, with, much rearing up in
front and lashing out behind, until, finding this all quite
unavailing, he set off at a stretching gallop with Natty Bell
sitting him like a centaur.

"And now, Barnabas," said John slowly, "'ow might your shoulder be,
now?"

"Nearly well, father."

"Good," nodded John, "very good! I thought as you was going to--die,
Barnabas, lad. They all did--even the Duchess and Lady--the--the
doctors, Barnabas."

"Were you going to say--Lady Cleone, father?"

"Why," answered John, more ponderously than ever, "I won't go for to
deny it, Barnabas, never 'aving been a liar--on principle as you know,
and--and--there y'are, my lad."

"Have you ever--seen her, then?"

"Seen her," repeated John, beginning to rasp at his great square chin,
"seen her, Barnabas, why, as to that--I say, as to that--ah!--here
we be, Barnabas," and John Barty exhaled a deep breath, very like a
sigh of relief, "you can see from here as the poor old 'Hound' will
soon be only tail--not a leg to stand on. I'll have him painted back
again next week--and the hare."

So, side by side, they mounted the worn steps of the inn, and side
by side they presently entered that long, panelled room where, once
on a time, they had fronted each other with clenched fists. Before
the hearth stood John Barty's favorite arm-chair and into this,
after some little demur, Barnabas sank, and stretched out his booted
legs to the fire.

"Why, father," said he, lolling back luxuriously, "I thought you
never liked cushions?"

"No more I do, Barnabas. She put them there for you."

"She, father?"

"One o' the maids, lad, one o' the maids and--and there y'are!"

"And now, father, you were telling me of the Lady Cleone--"

"No, I weren't, Barnabas," answered his father hastily and turning
to select a pipe from the sheaf on the mantel-shelf, "not me, lad,
not me!"

"Why, yes, you spoke of her--in the road."

"In the road? Oh, ah--might ha' spoke of her--in the road, lad."

"Well--do you--know her, father?"

"Know her?" repeated John, as though asking himself the question,
and staring very hard at the pipe in his hand, "do I know her--why,
yes--oh, yes, I know her, Barnabas. Ye see--when you was so--so near
death--" But at this moment the door opened and two neat, mob-capped
maids entered and began to spread a cloth upon the table, and
scarcely had they departed when in came Natty Bell, his bright eyes
brighter than ever.

"Oh, Natty Bell!" exclaimed John, beckoning him near, "come to this
lad of ours--do, he's axing me questions, one a-top of t' other till
I don't know what! 'Do I know Lady Cleone?' says he; next it'll be
'how' and 'what' and 'where'--tell him all about it. Natty Bell--do."

"Why then--sit down and be sociable, John," answered Natty Bell,
drawing another chair to the fire and beginning to fill his pipe.

"Right, Natty Bell," nodded John, seating himself on the other side
of Barnabas, "fire away and tell our lad 'ow we came to know her,
Natty Bell."

"Why, then, Barnabas," Natty Bell began, as soon as his pipe was in
full blast, "when you was so ill, d' ye see, John and me used to
drive over frequent to see how you was, d' ye see. But you, being so
ill, we weren't allowed to go up and see you, so she used to come
down to us and--talk of you. Ah! and very sweet and gentle she
was--eh, man Jack?"

"Sweet!" echoed John, shaking his head, "a angel weren't sweeter!
Gentle? Ah, Natty Bell, I should say so--and that thoughtful of
us--well, there y' are!"

"But one day, Barnabas," Natty Bell continued, "arter we'd called a
good many times, she _did_ take us up to see you,--didn't she, John?"

"Ah, that she did, Natty Bell, God bless her!"

"And you was a-lying there with shut eyes--very pale and still,
Barnabas. But all at once you opened your eyes and--being out o'
your mind, and not seeing us--delirious, d' ye see, Barnabas, you
began to speak. 'No,' says you very fierce, 'No! I love you so much
that I can never ask you to be the wife of Barnabas Barty. Mine must
be the harder way, always. The harder way! The harder way!' says you,
over and over again. And so we left you, but your voice follered us
down the stairs--ah, and out o' the house, 'the harder way!' says
you, 'the harder way'--over and over again."

"Ah! that you did, lad!" nodded John solemnly.

"So now, Barnabas, we'd like the liberty to ax you, John and me,
what you meant by it?"

"Ah--that's the question, Barnabas!" said John, fixing his gaze on
the bell-mouthed blunderbuss that hung over the mantel, "what might
it all mean--that's the question, lad."

"It means, father and Natty Bell, that I have been all the way to
London to learn what you, being so much wiser than I, tried to teach
me--that a sow's ear is not a silk purse, nor ever can be."

"But," said John, beginning to rasp at his chin again, "there's
Adam--what of Adam? You'll remember as you said--and very sensible
too. Natty Bell--you'll remember as you said--"

"Never mind what I said then, father, I was very young. To-day,
since I never can be a gentleman, I have come home so that