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Title: David Poindexter's Disappearance, and Other Tales
Author: Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934
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.

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Among the records of the English state trials are to be found many
strange stories, which would, as the phrase is, make the fortune of a
modern novelist. But there are also numerous cases, not less
stimulating to imagination and curiosity, which never attained more
than local notoriety, of which the law was able to take but
comparatively small cognizance, although they became subjects of much
unofficial discussion and mystification. Among these cases none,
perhaps, is better worth recalling than that of David Poindexter. It
will be my aim here to tell the tale as simply and briefly as
possible--to repeat it, indeed, very much as it came to my ears while
living, several years ago, near the scene in which its events took
place. There is a temptation to amplify it, and to give it a more
recent date and a different setting; but (other considerations aside)
the story might lose in force and weight more than it would thereby
gain in artistic balance and smoothness.

David Poindexter was a younger son of an old and respected family in
Sussex, England. He was born in London in 1785. He was educated at
Oxford, with a view to his entering the clerical profession, and in the
year 1810 he obtained a living in the little town of Witton, near
Twickenham, known historically as the home of Sir John Suckling. The
Poindexters had been much impoverished by the excesses of David's
father and grandfather, and David seems to have had few or no resources
beyond the very modest stipend appertaining to his position. He was, at
all events, poor, though possessed of capacities which bade fair to
open to him some of the higher prizes of his calling; but, on the other
hand, there is evidence that he chafed at his poverty, and reason to
believe that he had inherited no small share of the ill-regulated
temperament which had proved so detrimental to the elder generations of
his family.

Personally he was a man of striking aspect, having long, dark hair,
heavily-marked eyebrows, and blue eyes; his mouth and chin were
graceful in contour, but wanting in resolution; his figure was tall,
well knit, and slender. He was an eloquent preacher, and capable, when
warmed by his subject, of powerfully affecting the emotions of his
congregation. He was a great favorite with women--whom, however, he
uniformly treated with coldness--and by no means unpopular with men,
toward some of whom he manifested much less reserve. Nevertheless,
before the close of the second year of his incumbency he was known to
be paying his addresses to a young lady of the neighborhood, Miss Edith
Saltine, the only child of an ex-army officer. The colonel was a
widower, and in poor health, and since he was living mainly on his
half-pay, and had very little to give his daughter, the affair was
looked upon as a love match, the rather since Edith was a handsome
young woman of charming character. The Reverend David Poindexter
certainly had every appearance of being deeply in love; and it is often
seen that the passions of reserved men, when once aroused, are stronger
than those of persons more generally demonstrative.

Colonel Saltine did not at first receive his proposed son-in-law with
favor. He was a valetudinarian, and accustomed to regard his daughter
as his nurse by right, and he resented the idea of her leaving him
forlorn for the sake of a good-looking parson. It is very likely that
his objections might have had the effect of breaking off the match, for
his daughter was devotedly attached to him, and hardly questioned his
right to dispose of her as he saw fit; but after a while the worthy
gentleman seems to have thought better of his contrariness. Poindexter
had strong persuasive powers, and no doubt made himself personally
agreeable to the colonel, and, moreover, it was arranged that the
latter should occupy the same house with Mr. and Mrs. Poindexter after
they were married. Nevertheless, the colonel was not a man to move
rapidly, and the engagement had worn along for nearly a year without
the wedding-day having been fixed. One winter evening in the early part
of December, Poindexter dined with the colonel and Edith, and as the
gentlemen were sitting over their wine the lover spoke on the topic
that was uppermost in his thoughts, and asked his host whether there
was any good reason why the marriage should not be consummated at once.

"Christmas is at hand," the young man remarked; "why should it not be
rendered doubly memorable by granting this great boon?"

"For a parson, David, you are a deuced impatient man," the colonel said.

"Parsons are human," the other exclaimed with warmth.

"Humph! I suppose some of them are. In fact, David, if I didn't believe
that there was something more in you than texts and litanies and the
Athanasian creed, I'll be hanged if I'd ever have let you look twice at
Edith. That girl has got blood in her veins, David; she's not to be
thrown away on any lantern-jawed, white-livered doctor of souls, I can
tell you."

David held his head down, and seemed not to intend a reply; but he
suddenly raised his eyes, and fixed them upon the colonel's. "You know
what my father was," he said, in a low, distinct voice; "I am my
father's son."

"That idea has occurred to me more than once, David, and to say the
truth, I've liked you none the less for it. But, then, what the deuce
should a fellow like you want to do in a pulpit? I respect the cloth as
much as any man, I hope, but leaving theory aside, and coming down to
practice, aren't there fools and knaves enough in the world to carry on
that business, without a fellow of heart and spirit like you going into

"Theory or no theory, there have been as great men in the pulpit as in
any other position," said David, gloomily.

"I don't say to the contrary: ecclesiastical history, and all that: but
what I do say is, if a man is great in the pulpit, it's a pity he isn't
somewhere else, where he could use his greatness to more advantage."

"Well," remarked David, in the same somber tone, "I am not contented:
so much I can admit to the father of the woman I love. But you know as
well as I do that men nowadays are called to my profession not so much
by the Divine summons as by the accident of birth. Were it not for the
law of primogeniture, Colonel Saltine, the Church of England would be,
for the most part, a congregation without a clergyman."

"Gad! I'm much of your opinion," returned the colonel, with a grin;
"but there are two doors, you know, for a second son to enter the world
by. If he doesn't fancy a cassock, he can put on His Majesty's uniform."

"Neither the discipline nor the activity of a soldier's life would suit
me," David answered. "So far as I know my own nature, what it craves is
freedom, and the enjoyment of its capacities. Only under such
conditions could I show what I am capable of. In other words," he
added, with a short laugh, "ten thousand a year is the profession I
should choose."

"Ah," murmured the colonel, heaving a sigh, "I doubt that's a
profession we'd all of us like to practice as well as preach. What! no
more wine? Oh, ay, Edith, of course! Well, go to her, sir, if you must;
but when you come to my age you'll have found out which wears the
best--woman or the bottle. I'll join you presently, and maybe we'll see
what can be done about this marrying business."

So David went to Edith, and they had a clear hour together before they
heard the colonel's slippered tread hobbling through the hall. Just
before he opened the door, David had said: "I sometimes doubt whether
you wholly love me, after all." And she had answered:

"If I do not, it is because I sometimes feel as if you were not your
real self."

The colonel heard nothing of this odd bit of dialogue; but when he had
subsided, with his usual grunt, into his arm-chair beside the
fire-place, and Edith had brought him his foot-stool and his pipe, and
pat the velvet skull cap on his bald pate, he drew a long whiff of
tobacco smoke, and said:

"If you young folks want to set up housekeeping a month from to-day,
you can do it, for all I care."

Little did any one of the three suspect what that month was destined to
bring forth.

David Poindexter's father had been married twice, his second wife dying
within a year of her wedding-day, and two weeks after bringing David
into the world. This lady, whose maiden name was Lambert, had a brother
who was a gentleman farmer, and a tolerably successful one. His farm
was situated in the parish of Witton, and he owned a handsome house on
the outskirts of the town itself. He and David's father had been at one
time great friends, insomuch that David was named after him, and
Lambert, as his godfather as well as uncle, presented the child with
the usual silver mug. Lambert was never known to have married, but
there were rumors, dating as far as back David's earliest
recollections, to the effect that he had entertained a secret and
obscure passion for some foreign woman of great beauty, but of doubtful
character and antecedents. Nobody could be found who had ever seen this
woman, or would accept the responsibility of asserting that she
actually existed; but she afforded a convenient means of accounting for
many things that seemed mysterious in Mr. Lambert's conduct. At length,
when David was about eight years old, his godfather left England
abruptly, and without telling any one whither he was going or when he
would return. As a matter of fact he never did return, nor had any
certain news ever been heard of him since his departure. Neither his
house nor his farm was ever sold, however, though they were rented to
more than one tenant during a number of years. It was said, also, that
Lambert held possession of some valuable real estate in London.
Nevertheless, in process of time he was forgotten, or remembered only
as a name. And the new generation of men, though they might speak of
"the old Lambert House," neither knew nor cared how it happened to have
that title. For aught they could tell, it might have borne it ever
since Queen Elizabeth's time. Even David Poindexter had long ceased to
think of his uncle as anything much more substantial than a dream.

He was all the more surprised, therefore, when, on the day following
the interview just mentioned, he received a letter from the late David
Lambert's lawyers. It informed him in substance that his uncle had died
in Constantinople, unmarried (so far as could be ascertained),
intestate, and without blood-relations surviving him. Under these
circumstances, his property, amounting to one hundred and sixty
thousand pounds, the bulk of which was invested in land and houses in
the city of London, as well as the country-seat in Witton known as the
old Lambert House, and the farm lands thereto appertaining--all this
wealth, not to mention four or five thousand pounds in ready money,
came into possession of the late David Lambert's nearest of kin, who,
as it appeared, was none other than the Reverend David Poindexter.
"Would that gentleman, therefore be kind enough, at his convenience, to
advise his obedient servants as to what disposition he wished to make
of his inheritance?"

It was a Saturday morning, and the young clergyman was sitting at his
study table; the fire was burning in the grate at his right hand, and
his half-written sermon lay on the desk before him. After reading the
letter, at first hurriedly and amazedly, afterward more slowly, with
frequent pauses, he folded it up, and, still holding it in his hand,
leaned back in his chair, and remained for the better part of an hour
in a state of deep preoccupation. Many changing expressions passed
across his face, and glowed in his dark-blue eyes, and trembled on the
curves of his lips. At last he roused himself, sat erect, and smote the
table violently with his clinched hand. Yes, it was true it was real;
he, David Poindexter, an hour ago the poor imprisoned clergyman of the
Church of England--he, as by a stroke of magic, was free, powerful,
emancipated, the heir of seven thousand pounds a year! And what about
tomorrow's sermon?

He rose up smiling, with a vivid color in his cheeks and a bright
sparkle in his eyes. He stretched himself to his full height, threw out
his arms, and smote his chest with both fists. What a load was gone
from his heart! What a new ardor of life was this that danced in his
veins! He walked with long strides to the window, and threw it wide
open, breathing in the rush of bright icy air with deep inhalations.
Freedom! emancipation! Yonder, above the dark, level boughs of the
cedar of Lebanon, rose the square, gray tower of the church. Yesterday
it was the incubus of his vain hopes; to-day it was the tomb of a dead
and despised past. What had David Poindexter to do with calling sinners
to repentance? Let him first find out for himself what sin was like.
Then he looked to the right, where between the leafless trees Colonel
Saltine's little dwelling raised its red-tile roof above the high
garden-wall. And so, Edith, you doubted whether I were at all times my
real self? You shall not need to make that complaint hereafter. As for
to-morrow's sermon--I am not he who wrote sermons, nor shall I ever
preach any. Away with it, therefore!

He strode back to the table, took up the sheets of manuscript from the
desk, tore them across, and laid them on the burning coals. They
smoldered for a moment, then blazed up, and the draught from the open
window whisked the blackened ashes up the chimney. David stood,
meanwhile, with his arms folded, smiling to himself, and repeating, in
a low voice:

"Never again--never again--never again."

By-and-by he reseated himself at his desk, and hurriedly wrote two or
three notes, one of which was directed to Miss Saltine. He gave them to
his servant with an injunction to deliver them at their addresses
during the afternoon. Looking at his watch, he was surprised to find
that it was already past twelve o'clock. He went up-stairs, packed a
small portmanteau, made some changes in his dress, and came down again
with a buoyant step. There was a decanter half full of sherry on the
sideboard in the dining-room; he poured out and drank two glasses in
succession. This done, he put on his hat, and left the house with his
portmanteau in his hand, and ten minutes later he had intercepted the
London coach, and was bowling along on his way to the city.

There was a dramatic instinct in David, as in many eloquent men of
impressionable temperament, which caused him every now and then to look
upon all that was occurring as a sort of play, and to resolve to act
his part in a telling and picturesque manner. On that Saturday
afternoon he had an interview with the late Mr. Lambert's lawyers, and
they were struck by his calm, lofty, and indifferent bearing. He seemed
to regard worldly prosperity as a thing beneath him, yet to feel in a
half-impatient way the responsibility which the control of wealth
forced upon him.

"It is my purpose not to allow this legacy to interfere permanently
with my devotion to my higher duties," he remarked, "but I have taken
measures to enable myself to place these affairs upon a fixed and
convenient footing. I presume," he added, fixing his eyes steadily upon
his interlocutor, "that you have thoroughly investigated the
possibility of there being any claimant nearer than myself?"

"No such claimant could exist," the lawyer replied, "unless the late
Mr. Lambert had married and had issue."

"Is there, then, any reason to suppose that he contemplated the
contingency that has happened?"

"If he bestowed any thought at all upon the subject, that contingency
could hardly have failed to present itself to his mind," the lawyer

David consented to receive the draft for a thousand pounds which was
tendered him, and took his leave. He returned to his rooms at the
Tavistock Hotel, Covent Garden. In the evening, after making some
changes in his costume, he went to the theatre, and saw Kean play
something of Shakespeare's. When the play was over, and he was out in
the frosty air again, he felt it impossible to sleep. It was after
midnight before he returned to his hotel, with flushed cheeks, and a
peculiar brilliance in his eyes. He slept heavily, but awoke early in
the morning with a slight feeling of feverishness. It was Sunday
morning. He thought of his study in the parsonage at Witton, with its
bright fire, its simplicity, its repose. He thought of the church, and
of the congregation which he would never face again. And Edith--what
had been her thoughts and dreams during the night? He got up, and went
to the window. It looked out upon a narrow, inclosed court. The sky was
dingy, the air was full of the muffled tumult of the city. His present
state, as to its merely external aspect, was certainly not so agreeable
as that of the morning before. Ay, but what a vista had opened now
which then was closed! David dressed himself, and went down to his
breakfast. While sitting at his table in the window, looking out upon
the market-place, and stirring his cup of Mocha, a gentleman came up
and accosted him.

"Am I mistaken, or is your name Poindexter?"

David looked up, and recognized Harwood Courtney, a son of Lord
Derwent. Courtney was a man of fashion, a member of the great clubs,
and a man, as they say, with a reputation. He was a good twenty years
older than David, and had been the companion of the latter's father in
some of his wildest escapades. To David, at this moment, he was the
representative and symbol of that great, splendid, unregenerate world,
with which it was his purpose to make acquaintance.

"You are not mistaken, Mr. Courtney," he said, quietly. "Have you
breakfasted? It is some time since we have met."

"Why, yes, egad! If I remember right, you were setting out on another
road than that which I was travelling. However, we sinners, you know,
depend upon you parsons to pull us up in time to prevent any--er--any
_very_ serious catastrophe! Ha! ha!"

"I understand you; but for my part I have left the pulpit," said David,
uttering the irrevocable words with a carelessness which he himself
wondered at.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Courtney, with a little intonation of surprise and
curiosity, which his good breeding prevented him from formulating more
explicitly. As David made no rejoinder, he presently continued:
"Then--er--perhaps you might find it in your way to dine with me this
evening. Only one or two friends--a very quiet Sunday party."

"Thank you," said David. "I had intended going to bed betimes to-night;
but it will give me pleasure to meet a quiet party."

"Then that's settled," exclaimed Courtney; "and meanwhile, if you've
finished your coffee, what do you say to a turn in the Row? I've got my
trap here, and a breath of air will freshen us up."

David and Courtney spent the day together, and by evening the young
ex-clergyman had made the acquaintance of many of the leading men about
town. He had also allowed the fact to transpire that his pecuniary
standing was of the soundest kind; but this was done so
skillfully--with such a lofty air--that even Courtney, who was as
cynical as any man, was by no means convinced that David's change of
fortune had anything to do with his relinquishing the pulpit.

"David Poindexter is no fool," he remarked, confidentially, to a
friend. "He has double the stuff in him that the old fellow had. You
must get up early to get the better of a man who has been a parson, and
seen through himself!"

David, in fact, felt himself the superior, intellectually and by
nature, of most of the men he saw. He penetrated and comprehended them,
but to them he was impenetrable; a certain air of authority rested upon
him; he had abandoned the service of God; but the training whereby he
had fitted himself for it stood him in good stead; it had developed his
insight, his subtlety, and, strange to say, his powers of
dissimulation. Contrary to what is popularly supposed, his study of the
affairs of the other world had enabled him to deal with this world's
affairs with a half-contemptuous facility. As for the minor
technicalities, the social pass-words, and so forth, to which much
importance is generally ascribed, David had nothing to fear from them;
first, because he was a man of noble manners, naturally as well as by
cultivation; and, secondly, because the fact that he had been a
clergyman acted as a sort of breastplate against criticism. It would be
thought that he chose to appear ignorant of that which he really knew.

As for Mr. Courtney's dinner, though it may doubtless have been a quiet
one from his point of view, it differed considerably from such Sunday
festivities as David had been accustomed to. A good deal of wine was
drunk, and the conversation (a little cautious at first, on David's
account) gradually thawed into freedom. It was late when they rose from
table; and then a proposition was made to go to a certain well-known
club in St. James's Street. David went with the rest, and, for the
first time in his life, played cards for money; he lost seven hundred
pounds--more money than he had handled during the last three years--but
he kept his head, and at three o'clock in the morning drove with
Courtney to the latter's lodgings, with five hundred pounds in his
pocket over and above the sum with which he had begun to play. Here was
a wonderful change in his existence; but it did not seem to him half so
wonderful as his reason told him it was. It seemed natural--as if,
after much wandering, he had at last found his way into the place where
he belonged. It is said that savages, educated from infancy amid
civilized surroundings, will, on breathing once more their native air,
tear off their clothes and become savages again. Somewhat similar may
have been David's case, who, inheriting in a vivid degree the manly
instincts of his forefathers, had forcibly and by constraint of
circumstances lived a life wholly opposed to these impulses--an
artificial life, therefore. But now at length he had come into his
birthright, and felt at home.

One episode of the previous evening remained in his memory: it had
produced an effect upon him out of proportion with its apparent
significance. A gentleman, a guest at the dinner, a small man with
sandy hair and keen gray eyes, on being presented to David had looked
at him with an expression of shrewd perplexity, and said:

"Have we not met before?"

"It is possible, but I confess I do not recollect it," replied David.

"The name was not Poindexter," continued the other, "but the
face--pardon me--I could have taken my oath to."

"Where did this meeting take place?" asked David, smiling.

"In Paris, at ----'s," said the gray-eyed gentleman (mentioning the
name of a well-known French nobleman).

"You are quite certain, of that?"

"Yes. It was but a month since."

"I was never in Paris. For three years I have hardly been out of sight
of London," David answered. "What was your friend's name?"

"It has slipped my memory," he replied. "An Italian name, I fancy. But
he was a man--pardon me--of very striking appearance, and I conversed
with him for more than an hour."

Now it is by no means an uncommon occurrence for two persons to bear a
close resemblance to each other, but (aside from the fact that David
was anything but an ordinary-looking man) this mistake of his new
acquaintance affected him oddly. He involuntarily associated it with
the internal and external transformation which had happened to him, and
said to himself:

"This counterpart of mine was prophetic: he was what I am to be--what I
am." And fantastic though the notion was, he could not rid himself of

David returned to Witton about the middle of the week. In the interval
he had taken measures to make known to those concerned the revolution
of his affairs, and to have the old Lambert mansion opened, and put in
some sort of condition for his reception. He had gone forth on foot, an
unknown, poor, and humble clergyman; he returned driving behind a pair
of horses, by far the most important personage in the town; and yet
this outward change was far less great than the change within. His
reception could scarcely be called cordial; though not wanting in the
technical respect and ceremony due to him as a gentleman of wealth and
influence, he could perceive a half concealed suspense and misgiving,
due unmistakably to his attitude as a recreant clergyman.

In fact, his worthy parishioners were in a terrible quandary how to
reconcile their desire to stand well with their richest
fellow-townsman, and their dismayed recognition of that townsman's
scandalous professional conduct. David smiled at this, but it made him
bitter too. He had intended once more to call the congregation
together, and frankly to explain to them the reasons, good or bad,
which had induced him to withdraw from active labor in the church. But
now he determined to preserve a proud and indifferent silence. There
was only one person who had a right to call him to account, and it was
not without fearfulness that he looked forward to his meeting with her.
However, the sooner such fears are put at rest the better, and he
called upon Edith on the evening of his arrival. Her father had been in
bed for two days with a cold, and she was sitting alone in the little

She rose at his entrance with a deep blush, and a look of mixed
gladness and anxiety. Her eyes swiftly noted the change in his dress,
for he had considerably modified, though not as yet wholly laid aside,
the external marks of his profession. She held back from him with a
certain strangeness and timidity, so that lie did not kiss her cheek,
but only her hand. The first words of greeting were constrained and
conventional, but at last he said:

"All is changed, Edith, except our love for each other."

"I do not hold you to that," she answered, quickly.

"But you can not turn me from it," he said, with a smile.

"I do not know you yet," said she, looking away.

"When I last saw you, you said you doubted whether I were my real self.
I have become my real self since then."

"Because you are not what you were, it does not follow that you are
what you should be."

"Surely, Edith, that is not reasonable. I was what circumstances forced
me to be, henceforth I shall be what God made me."

"Did God, then, have no hand in those circumstances?"

"Not more, at all events, than in these."

Edith shook her head. "God does not absolve us from holy vows."

"But how if I can not, with loyalty to my inner conscience, hold to
those vows?" exclaimed David, with more warmth. "I have long felt that
I was not fitted for this sacred calling. Before the secret tribunal of
my self-knowledge, I have stood charged with the sin of hypocrisy. It
has been God's will that I be delivered from that sin."

"Why did you not say that before, David?" she demanded, looking at him.
"Why did you remain a hypocrite until it was for your worldly benefit
to abandon your trust? Can you say, on your word of honor, that you
would stand where you do now if you were still poor instead of rich?"

"Men's eyes are to some extent opened and their views are confirmed by
events. They make our dreams and forebodings into realities. We
question in our minds, and events give us the answers."

"Such an argument might excuse any villainy," said Edith, lifting her
head indignantly.

"Villainy! Do you use that word to me?" exclaimed David.

"Not unless your own heart bids me--and I do not know your heart."

"Because you do not love me?"

"You may be right," replied Edith, striving to steady her voice; "but
at least I believed I loved you."

"You are cured of that belief, it seems--as I am cured of many foolish
faiths," said David, with gloomy bitterness. "Well, so be it! The love
that waits upon a fastidious conscience is never the deepest love. My
love is not of that complexion. Were it possible that the shadow of
sin, or of crime itself, could descend upon you, it would but render
you dearer to me than before."

"You may break my heart, David, if you will," cried the girl,
tremulously, yet resolutely, "but I reverence love more than I love

David had turned away as if to leave the room, but he paused and
confronted her once more.

"At any rate, we will understand each other," said he. "Do you make it
your condition that I should go back to the ministry?"

Edith was still seated, but the condition of the crisis compelled her
to rise. She stood before him, her dark eyes downcast, her lips
trembling, nervously drawing the fingers of one hand through the clasp
of the other. She was tempted to yield to him, for she could imagine no
happiness in life without him; but a rare sanity and integrity of mind
made her perceive that he had pushed the matter to a false alternative.
It was not a question of preaching or not preaching sermons, but of
sinful apostasy from an upright life. At last she raised her eyes,
which shone like dark jewels in her pale countenance, and said, slowly,
"We had better part."

"Then my sins be upon your head!" cried David, passionately.

The blood mounted to her cheeks at the injustice of this rejoinder, but
she either could not or would not answer again. She remained erect and
proud until the door had closed between them; what she did after that
neither David nor any one else knew.

The apostate David seems to have determined that, if she were to bear
the burden of his sins, they should be neither few nor light. His life
for many weeks after this interview was a scandal and a disgrace. The
old Lambert mansion was the scene of carousals and excesses such as
recalled the exploits of the monks of Medmenham. Harwood Courtney, and
a score of dissolute gentlemen like him, not to speak of other
visitors, thronged the old house day and night; drinking, gaming, and
yet wilder doings gave the sober little town no rest, till the Reverend
David Poindexter was commonly referred to as the Wicked Parson.
Meanwhile Edith Saltine bore herself with a grave, pale impassiveness,
which some admired, others wondered at, and others deemed an indication
that she had no heart. If she had not, so much the better for her; for
her father was almost as difficult to manage as David himself. The old
gentleman could neither comprehend nor forgive what seemed to him his
daughter's immeasurable perversity. One day she had been all for
marrying a poor, unknown preacher; and the next day, when to marry him
meant to be the foremost lady in the neighborhood, she dismissed him
without appeal. And the worst of it was that, much as the poor
colonel's mouth watered at the feasts and festivities of the Lambert
mansion, he was prevented by the fatality of his position from taking
any part in them. So Edith could find no peace either at home or
abroad; and if it dwelt not in her own heart, she was indeed forlorn.

What may have been the cost of all this dissipation it was difficult to
say, but several observant persons were of opinion that the parson's
income could not long stand it. There were rumors that he had heavy
bills owing in several quarters, which he could pay only by realizing
some of his investments. On the other hand, it was said that he played
high and constantly, and usually had the devil's luck. But it is
impossible to gauge the truth of such stories, and the Wicked Parson
himself took no pains either to deny or confirm them. He was always the
loudest, the gayest, and the most reckless of his company, and the
leader and inspirer of all their wild proceedings; but it was noticed
that, though he laughed often, he never smiled; and that his face, when
in repose, bore traces of anything but happiness. For some cause or
other, moreover--but whether maliciously or remorsefully was open to
question--he never entirely laid aside his clerical garb; he seemed
either to delight in profaning it, or to retain it as the reminder and
scourge of his own wickedness.

One night there was a great gathering up at the mansion, and the noise
and music were kept up till well past the small hours of the morning.
Gradually the guests departed, some going toward London, some
elsewhere. At last only Harwood Courtney remained, and he and David sat
down in the empty dining-room, disorderly with the remains of the
carousal, to play picquet. They played, with short intermissions, for
nearly twenty-four hours. At last David threw down his cards, and said,

"Well, that's all. Give me until to-morrow."

"With all the pleasure in life, my boy," replied the other; "and your
revenge, too, if you like. Meanwhile, the best thing we can do is to
take a nap."

"You may do so if you please," said David; "for my part, I must take a
turn on horseback first. I can never sleep till I have breathed fresh

They parted accordingly, Courtney going to his room, and David to the
stables, whence he presently issued, mounted on his bay mare, and rode
eastward. On his way he passed Colonel Saltine's house, and drew rein
for a moment beside it, looking up at Edith's window. It was between
four and five o'clock of a morning in early April; the sky was clear,
and all was still and peaceful. As he sat in the saddle looking up, the
blind of the window was raised and the sash itself opened, and Edith,
in her white night-dress, with her heavy brown hair falling round her
face and on her shoulders, gazed out. She regarded him with a
half-bewildered expression, as if doubting of his reality, For a moment
they remained thus; then he waved his hand to her with a wild gesture
of farewell, and rode on, passing immediately out of sight behind the
dark foliage of the cedar of Lebanon.

On reaching the London high-road the horseman paused once more, and
seemed to hesitate what course to pursue; but finally he turned to the
right, and rode in a southerly direction. The road wound gently, and
dipped and rose to cross low hills; trees bordered the way on each
side; and as the sun rose they threw long shadows westward, while the
birds warbled and twittered in the fields and hedges. By-and-by a clump
of woodland came into view about half a mile off, the road passing
through the midst of it. As David entered it at one end, he saw,
advancing toward him through the shade and sunlight, a rider mounted on
a black horse. The latter seemed to be a very spirited animal, and as
David drew near it suddenly shied and reared so violently that any but
a practiced horseman would have been unseated. No catastrophe occurred,
however, and a moment afterward the two cavaliers were face to face. No
sooner had their eyes met than, as if by a common impulse, they both
drew rein, and set staring at each other with a curiosity which merged
into astonishment. At length the stranger on the black horse gave a
short laugh, and said:

"I perceive that the same strange thing has struck us both, sir. If you
won't consider it uncivil, I should like to know who you are. My name
is Giovanni Lambert."

"Giovanni Lambert," repeated David, with a slight involuntary movement;
"unless I am mistaken, I have heard mention of you. But you are not

"Only on my mother's side. But you have the advantage of me."

"You will understand that I could not have heard of you without feeling
a strong desire to meet you," said David, dismounting as he spoke. "It
is, I think, the only desire left me in the world. I had marked this
wood, as I came along, as an inviting place to rest in. Would it suit
you to spend an hour here, where we can converse better at our ease
than in saddle; or does time press you? As for me, I have little more
to do with time."

"I am at your service, sir, with pleasure," returned the other, leaping
lightly to the ground, and revealing by the movement a pair of small
pistols attached to the belt beneath his blue riding surtout. "It was
in my mind, also, to stretch my legs and take a pull at my pipe, for,
early as it is, I have ridden far this morning."

At the point where they had halted a green lane branched off into the
depths of the wood, and down this they passed, leading their horses.
When they were out of sight of the road they made their animals fast in
such a way that they could crop the grass, and themselves reclined at
the foot of a broad-limbed oak, and they remained in converse there for
upward of an hour.

In fact, it must been several hours later (for the sun was high in the
heavens) when one of them issued from the wood. He was mounted on a
black horse, and wore a blue surtout and high boots. After looking up
and down the road, and assuring himself that no one was in sight, he
turned his horse's head toward London, and set off at a round canter.
Coming to a cross-road, he turned to the right, and rode for an hour in
that direction, crossing the Thames near Hampton Wick. In the afternoon
he entered London from the south, and put up at an obscure hostelry.
Having seen his horse attended to, and eaten something himself, he went
to bed and slept soundly for eighteen hours. On awaking, he ate
heartily again, and spent the rest of the day in writing and arranging
a quantity of documents that were packed in his saddle-bags. The next
morning early he paid his reckoning, rode across London Bridge, and
shaped his course toward the west.

Meanwhile the town of Witton was in vast perturbation. When Mr. Harwood
Courtney woke up late in the afternoon, and came yawning down-stairs to
get his breakfast, he learned, in answer to his inquiries, that nothing
had been seen of David Poindexter since he rode away thirteen hours
ago. Mr. Courtney expressed anxiety at this news, and dispatched his
own valet and one of David's grooms to make investigations in the
neighborhood. These two personages investigated to such good purpose
that before night the whole neighborhood was aware that David
Poindexter had disappeared. By the next morning it became evident that
something had happened to the Wicked Parson, and some people ventured
to opine that the thing which had happened to him was that he had run
away. And indeed it was astonishing to find to how many worthy people
this evil-minded parson was in debt. Every other man you met had a bill
against the Reverend David Poindexter in his pocket; and as the day
wore on, and still no tidings of the missing man were received,
individuals of the sheriff and bailiff species began to be
distinguishable amid the crowd. But the great sensation was yet to
come. How the report started no one knew, but toward supper-time it
passed from mouth to mouth that Mr. Harwood Courtney, in the course of
his twenty-four hours of picquet with Poindexter, had won from the
latter not his ready money alone, but the entire property and estates
that had accrued to him as nearest of kin to the late David Lambert.
And it was added that, as the debt was a gambling transaction, and
therefore not technically recoverable by process of law, Mr. Courtney
was naturally very anxious for his debtor to put in an appearance. Now
it so happened that this report, unlike many others ostensibly more
plausible, was true in every particular.

Probably there was more gossip at the supper-tables of Witton that
night than in any other town of ten times the size in the United
Kingdom; and it was formally agreed that Poindexter had escaped to the
Continent, and would either remain in hiding there, or take passage by
the first opportunity to the American colonies, or the United States,
as they had now been called for some years past. Nobody defended the
reverend apostate, but, on the other hand, nobody pretended to be sorry
for Mr. Harwood Courtney; it was generally agreed that they had both of
them got what they deserved. The only question was, What was to become
of the property? Some people said it ought to belong to Edith Saltine;
but of course poetical justice of that kind was not to be expected.

Edith, meanwhile, had kept herself strictly secluded. She was the last
person who had seen David Poindexter, but she had mentioned the fact to
no one. She was also the only person who did not believe that he had
escaped, but who felt convinced that he was dead, and that he had died
by his own hand. That gesture of farewell and of despair which he had
made to her as he vanished behind the cedar of Lebanon had for her a
significance capable of only one interpretation. Were he alive, he
would have returned.

On the evening of the day following the events just recorded, the
solitude of her room suddenly became terrible to Edith, and she was
irresistibly impelled to dress herself and go forth in the open air.
She wound a veil about her head, and, avoiding the main thoroughfare,
slipped out of the town unperceived, and gained the free country. After
a while she found herself approaching a large tree, which spread its
branches across a narrow lane that made a short-cut to the London
highway. Beneath the tree was a natural seat, formed of a fragment of
stone, and here David and she had often met and sat. It was a mild,
still evening; she sat down on the stone, and removed her veil. The
moon, then in its first quarter, was low in the west, and shone beneath
the branches of the tree.

Presently she was aware--though not by any sound--that some one was
approaching, and she drew back in the shadow of the tree. Down the lane
came a horseman, mounted on a tall, black horse. The outline of his
figure and the manner in which he rode fixed Edith's gaze as if by a
spell, and made the blood hum in her ears. Nearer he came, and now his
face was discernible in the level moonlight. It was impossible to
mistake that countenance: the horseman was David Poindexter. His
costume, however, was different from any he had ever before worn; there
was nothing clerical about it; nor was that black horse from the
Poindexter stables. Then, too, how noiselessly he rode!--as noiselessly
as a ghost. That, however, must have been because his horse's hoofs
fell on the soft turf. He rode slowly, and his head was bent as if in
thought; but almost before Edith could draw her breath, much less to
speak, he had passed beneath the boughs of the tree, and was riding on
toward the village. Now he had vanished in the vague light and shadow,
and a moment later Edith began to doubt whether her senses had not
played her a trick. A superstitious horror fell upon her; what she had
seen was a spirit, not living flesh and blood. She knelt down by the
stone, and remained for a long time with her face hidden upon her arms,
and her hands clasped, sometimes praying, sometimes wondering and
fearing. At last she rose to her feet, and hastened homeward through
the increasing darkness. But before she had reached her house she had
discovered that what she had seen was no ghost. The whole village was
in a fever of excitement.

Everybody was full of the story. An hour ago who should appear riding
quietly up the village street but David Poindexter himself--at least,
if it were not he, it was the devil. He seemed to take little notice of
the astonished glances that were thrown at him, or, at any rate, not to
understand them. Instead of going to the Lambert mansion, he had
alighted at the inn, and asked the innkeeper whether he might have
lodging there. But when the innkeeper, who had known the reverend
gentleman as well as he knew his own sign-board, had addressed him by
name, the other had shaken his head, seemed perplexed, and had affirmed
that his name was not Poindexter but Lambert; and had added, upon
further inquiry, that he was the only son of David Lambert, and was
come to claim that gentleman's property, to which he was by law
entitled; in proof whereof he had produced various documents, among
them the certificates of his mother's marriage and of his own birth. As
to David Poindexter, he declared that he knew not there was such a
person; and although no man in his senses could be made to believe that
David Poindexter and this so-called Lambert were twain, and not one and
the same individual, the latter stoutly maintained his story, and vowed
that the truth would sooner or later appear and confirm him. Meanwhile,
however, one of his creditors had had him arrested for a debt of eight
hundred pounds; and Harwood Courtney had seen him, and said that he was
ready to pledge his salvation that the man was Poindexter and nobody
else. So here the matter rested for the present. But who ever heard of
so strange and audacious an attempt at imposition? The man had not even
made any effort to disguise himself further than to put on a different
suit of clothes and get another horse; and why, in the name of all that
was inconceivable, had he come back to Witton, instead of going to any
other part of the earth's surface  What could he expect here, except
immediate detection, imprisonment, and ruin? Was he insane? He did not
seem to be so; but that interpretation of his conduct was not only the
most charitable one, but no other could be imagined that would account
for the facts.

Witton slept but little that night; but who shall describe its
bewilderment when, early in the morning, a constable arrived in the
village with the news that the dead body of the Reverend David
Poindexter had been found in some woods about fifteen miles off, and
that his bay mare had been picked up grazing along the roadside not far
from home! Upon the heels of this intelligence came the corpse itself,
lying in a country wagon, and the bay mare trotting behind. It was
taken out and placed on the table in the inn parlor, where it
immediately became the center of a crowd half crazy with curiosity and
amazement. The cause of death was found to be the breaking of the
vertebral column just at the base of the neck. There was no other
injury on the body, and, allowing for the natural changes incident to
death, the face was in every particular the face of David Poindexter.
The man who called himself Lambert was now brought into the room, and
made to stand beside the corpse, which he regarded with a certain calm
interest. The resemblance between the two was minute and astonishing;
it was found to be impossible, upon that evidence alone, to decide
which was David Poindexter.

The matter was brought to trial as promptly as possible. A great number
of witnesses identified the prisoner as David Poindexter, but those who
had seen the corpse mostly gave their evidence an opposite inclination;
and four persons (one of them the gray-eyed gentleman who has been
already mentioned) swore positively that the prisoner was Giovanni
Lambert, the gray-eyed gentleman adding that he had once met
Poindexter, and had confidently taken him to be Lambert.

An attempt was then made to prove that Lambert had murdered Poindexter;
but it entirely failed, there being no evidence that the two men had
ever so much as met, and there being no conceivable motive for the
murder. Lambert, therefore, was permitted to enter undisturbed upon his
inheritance; for he had no difficulty in establishing the fact of the
elder Lambert's marriage to an Italian woman twenty-three years before.
The marriage had been a secret one, and soon after a violent quarrel
had taken place between the wife and husband, and they had separated.
The following month Giovanni was born prematurely. He had seen his
father but once. The quarrel was never made up, but Lambert sent his
wife, from time to time, money enough for her support. She had died
about ten years ago, and had given her son the papers to establish his
identity, telling him that the day would come to use them. Giovanni had
been a soldier, fighting against the French in Spain and elsewhere, and
had only heard of his father's death a few weeks ago. He had thereupon
come to claim his own, with the singular results that we have seen.

Here was the end of the case, so far as the law was concerned; but the
real end of it is worth noting. Lambert, by his own voluntary act, paid
all the legal debts contracted by Poindexter, and gave Courtney, in
settlement of the gambling transaction, a sum of fifty thousand pounds.
The remainder of his fortune, which was still considerable, he devoted
almost entirely to charitable purposes, doing so much genuine good, in
a manner so hearty and unassuming, that he became the object of more
personal affection than falls to the lot of most philanthropists. He
was of a quiet, sad, and retiring disposition, and uniformly very
sparing of words. After a year or so, circumstances brought it about
that he and Miss Saltine were associated in some benevolent enterprise,
and from that time forward they often consulted together in such
matters, Lambert making her the medium of many of his benefactions. Of
course the gossips were ready to predict that it would end with a
marriage; and indeed it was impossible to see the two together (though
both of them, and especially Edith, had altered somewhat with the
passage of years) without being reminded of the former love affair in
which Lambert's double had been the hero. Did this also occur to Edith?
It could hardly have been otherwise, and it would be interesting to
speculate on her feelings in the matter; but I have only the story to
tell. At all events, they never did marry, though they became very
tender friends. At the end of seven years Colonel Saltine died of
jaundice; he had been failing in his mind for some time previous, and
had always addressed Lambert as Poindexter, and spoken of him as his
son-in-law. The year following Lambert himself died, after a brief
illness. He left all his property to Edith. She survived to her
seventieth year, making it the business of her life to carry out his
philanthropic schemes, and she always dressed in widows' weeds. After
her death, the following passage was found in one of her private
journals. It refers to her last interview with Lambert, on his

".... He smiled, and said, 'You will believe, now, that I was sincere
in renouncing the ministry, though I have tried to serve the Lord in
other ways than from the pulpit.' I felt a shock in my heart, and could
hardly say, 'What do you mean, Mr. Lambert?' He replied, 'Surely,
Edith, your soul knows, if your reason does not, that I am David
Poindexter!' I could not speak. I hid my face in my hands. After a
while, in separate sentences, he told me the truth. When he rode forth
on that dreadful morning it was with the purpose to die. But he met on
the road this Giovanni Lambert, who so marvelously resembled him, and
they sat down together in the wood and talked, and Giovanni told him
all the story of his life.... As Giovanni was about to mount his horse,
which was very restive, he saw a violet in the grass, and stooped to
pick it. The horse lashed out with its heels, and struck him in the
back of the neck and killed him.... Then the idea came to David to
exchange clothes with the dead man, and to take his papers, and
personate him. Thus, he could escape from the individuality which was
his curse, and find his true self, as it were, in another person. He
said, too, that his greatest hope had been to win my love and make me
his wife; but he found that he could not bring himself to attempt that,
unless he confessed his falsehood to me, and he had feared that this
confession would turn me from him forever. I wept, and told him that my
heart had been his almost from the first, because I always thought of
him as David, and that I would have loved him through all things. He
said, 'Then God has been more merciful to me than I deserve; but,
doubtless, it is also of His mercy that we have remained unmarried.'
But I was in an agony, and could not yet be reconciled. At last he
said, 'Will you kiss me, Edith?' and afterward he said, 'My wife!' and
that was his last word. But we shall meet again!"


One cool October evening--it was the last day of the month, and
unusually cool for the time of year--I made up my mind to go and spend
an hour or two with my friend Keningale. Keningale was an artist (as
well as a musical amateur and poet), and had a very delightful studio
built onto his house, in which he was wont to sit of an evening. The
studio had a cavernous fire-place, designed in imitation of the
old-fashioned fire-places of Elizabethan manor-houses, and in it, when
the temperature out-doors warranted, he would build up a cheerful fire
of dry logs. It would suit me particularly well, I thought, to go and
have a quiet pipe and chat in front of that fire with my friend.

I had not had such a chat for a very long time--not, in fact, since
Keningale (or Ken, as his friends called him) had returned from his
visit to Europe the year before. He went abroad, as he affirmed at the
time, "for purposes of study," whereat we all smiled, for Ken, so far
as we knew him, was more likely to do anything else than to study. He
was a young fellow of buoyant temperament, lively and social in his
habits, of a brilliant and versatile mind, and possessing an income of
twelve or fifteen thousand dollars a year; he could sing, play,
scribble, and paint very cleverly, and some of his heads and
figure-pieces were really well done, considering that he never had any
regular training in art; but he was not a worker. Personally he was
fine-looking, of good height and figure, active, healthy, and with a
remarkably fine brow, and clear, full-gazing eye. Nobody was surprised
at his going to Europe, nobody expected him to do anything there except
amuse himself, and few anticipated that he would be soon again seen in
New York. He was one of the sort that find Europe agree with them. Off
he went, therefore; and in the course of a few months the rumor reached
us that he was engaged to a handsome and wealthy New York girl whom he
had met in London. This was nearly all we did hear of him until, not
very long afterward, he turned up again on Fifth Avenue, to every one's
astonishment; made no satisfactory answer to those who wanted to know
how he happened to tire so soon of the Old World; while, as to the
reported engagement, he cut short all allusion to that in so peremptory
a manner as to show that it was not a permissible topic of conversation
with him. It was surmised that the lady had jilted him; but, on the
other hand, she herself returned home not a great while after, and,
though she had plenty of opportunities, she has never married to this

Be the rights of that matter what they may, it was soon remarked that
Ken was no longer the careless and merry fellow he used to be; on the
contrary, he appeared grave, moody, averse from general society, and
habitually taciturn and undemonstrative even in the company of his most
intimate friends. Evidently something had happened to him, or he had
done something. What? Had he committed a murder? or joined the
Nihilists? or was his unsuccessful love affair at the bottom of it?
Some declared that the cloud was only temporary, and would soon pass
away. Nevertheless, up to the period of which I am writing, it had not
passed away, but had rather gathered additional gloom, and threatened
to become permanent.

Meanwhile I had met him twice or thrice at the club, at the opera, or
in the street, but had as yet had no opportunity of regularly renewing
my acquaintance with him. We had been on a footing of more than common
intimacy in the old days, and I was not disposed to think that he would
refuse to renew the former relations now. But what I had heard and
myself seen of his changed condition imparted a stimulating tinge of
suspense or curiosity to the pleasure with which I looked forward to
the prospects of this evening. His house stood at a distance of two or
three miles beyond the general range of habitations in New York at this
time, and as I walked briskly along in the clear twilight air I had
leisure to go over in my mind all that I had known of Ken and had
divined of his character. After all, had there not always been
something in his nature--deep down, and held in abeyance by the
activity of his animal spirits--but something strange and separate, and
capable of developing under suitable conditions into--into what? As I
asked myself this question I arrived at his door; and it was with a
feeling of relief that I felt the next moment the cordial grasp of his
hand, and his voice bidding me welcome in a tone that indicated
unaffected gratification at my presence. He drew me at once into the
studio, relieved me of my hat and cane, and then put his hand on my

"I am glad to see you," he repeated, with singular earnestness--"glad
to see you and to feel you; and to-night of all nights in the year."

"Why to-night especially?"

"Oh, never mind. It's just as well, too, you didn't let me know
beforehand you were coming; the unreadiness is all, to paraphrase the
poet. Now, with you to help me, I can drink a glass of whisky and water
and take a bit draw of the pipe. This would have been a grim night for
me if I'd been left to myself."

"In such a lap of luxury as this, too!" said I, looking round at the
glowing fire-place, the low, luxurious chairs, and all the rich and
sumptuous fittings of the room. "I should have thought a condemned
murderer might make himself comfortable here."

"Perhaps; but that's not exactly my category at present. But have you
forgotten what night this is? This is November-eve, when, as tradition
asserts, the dead arise and walk about, and fairies, goblins, and
spiritual beings of all kinds have more freedom and power than on any
other day of the year. One can see you've never been in Ireland."

"I wasn't aware till now that you had been there, either."

"Yes, I have been in Ireland. Yes--" He paused, sighed, and fell into a
reverie, from which, however, he soon roused himself by an effort, and
went to a cabinet in a corner of the room for the liquor and tobacco.
While he was thus employed I sauntered about the studio, taking note of
the various beauties, grotesquenesses, and curiosities that it
contained. Many things were there to repay study and arouse admiration;
for Ken was a good collector, having excellent taste as well as means
to back it. But, upon the whole, nothing interested me more than some
studies of a female head, roughly done in oils, and, judging from the
sequestered positions in which I found them, not intended by the artist
for exhibition or criticism. There were three or four of these studies,
all of the same face, but in different poses and costumes. In one the
head was enveloped in a dark hood, overshadowing and partly concealing
the features; in another she seemed to be peering duskily through a
latticed casement, lit by a faint moonlight; a third showed her
splendidly attired in evening costume, with jewels in her hair and
cars, and sparkling on her snowy bosom. The expressions were as various
as the poses; now it was demure penetration, now a subtle inviting
glance, now burning passion, and again a look of elfish and elusive
mockery. In whatever phase, the countenance possessed a singular and
poignant fascination, not of beauty merely, though that was very
striking, but of character and quality likewise.

"Did you find this model abroad?" I inquired at length. "She has
evidently inspired yon, and I don't wonder at it."

Ken, who had been mixing the punch, and had not noticed my movements,
now looked up, and said: "I didn't mean those to be seen. They don't
satisfy me, and I am going to destroy them; but I couldn't rest till
I'd made some attempts to reproduce--What was it you asked? Abroad?
Yes--or no. They were all painted here within the last six weeks."

'"Whether they satisfy you or not, they are by far the best things of
yours I have ever seen."

'"Well, let them alone, and tell me what you think of this beverage. To
my thinking, it goes to the right spot. It owes its existence to your
coming here. I can't drink alone, and those portraits are not company,
though, for aught I know, she might have come out of the canvas
to-night and sat down in that chair." Then, seeing my inquiring look,
he added, with a hasty laugh, "It's November-eve, you know, when
anything may happen, provided its strange enough. Well, here's to

We each swallowed a deep draught of the smoking and aromatic liquor,
and set down our glasses with approval. The punch was excellent. Ken
now opened a box of cigars, and we seated ourselves before the

"All we need now," I remarked, after a short silence, "is a little
music. By-the-by, Ken, have you still got the banjo I gave you before
you went abroad?"

He paused so long before replying that I supposed he had not heard my
question. "I have got it," he said, at length, "but it will never make
any more music."

"Got broken, eh? Can't it be mended? It was a fine instrument."

"It's not broken, but it's past mending. You shall see for yourself."

He arose as he spoke, and going to another part of the studio, opened a
black oak coffer, and took out of it a long object wrapped up in a
piece of faded yellow silk. He handed it to me, and when I had
unwrapped it, there appeared a thing that might once have been a banjo,
but had little resemblance to one now. It bore every sign of extreme
age. The wood of the handle was honeycombed with the gnawings of worms,
and dusty with dry-rot. The parchment head was green with mold, and
hung in shriveled tatters. The hoop, which was of solid silver, was so
blackened and tarnished that it looked like dilapidated iron. The
strings were gone, and most of the tuning-screws had dropped out of
their decayed sockets. Altogether it had the appearance of having been
made before the Flood, and been forgotten in the forecastle of Noah's
Ark ever since.

"It is a curious relic, certainly," I said. "Where did you come across
it? I had no idea that the banjo was invented so long ago as this. It
certainly can't be less than two hundred years old, and may be much
older than that."

Ken smiled gloomily. "You are quite right," lie said; "it is at least
two hundred years old, and yet it is the very same banjo that you gave
me a year ago."

"Hardly," I returned, smiling in my turn, "since that was made to my
order with a view to presenting it to you."

"I know that; but the two hundred years have passed since then. Yes; it
is absurd and impossible, I know, but nothing is truer. That banjo,
which was made last year, existed in the sixteenth century, and has
been rotting ever since. Stay. Give it to me a moment, and I'll
convince you. You recollect that your name and mine, with the date,
were engraved on the silver hoop?"

"Yes; and there was a private mark of my own there, also."

"Very well," said Ken, who had been rubbing a place on the hoop with a
corner of the yellow silk wrapper; "look at that."

I took the decrepit instrument from him, and examined the spot which he
had rubbed. It was incredible, sure enough; but there were the names
and the date precisely as I had caused them to be engraved; and there,
moreover, was my own private mark, which I had idly made with an old
etching point not more than eighteen months before. After convincing
myself that there was no mistake, I laid the banjo across my knees, and
stared at my friend in bewilderment. He sat smoking with a kind of grim
composure, his eyes fixed upon the blazing logs.

"I'm mystified, I confess," said I. "Come; what is the joke? What
method have you discovered of producing the decay of centuries on this
unfortunate banjo in a few months? And why did you do it? I have heard
of an elixir to counteract the effects of time, but your recipe seems
to work the other way--to make time rush forward at two hundred times
his usual rate, in one place, while he jogs on at his usual gait
elsewhere. Unfold your mystery, magician. Seriously, Ken, how on earth
did the thing happen?"

"I know no more about it than you do," was his reply. "Either you and I
and all the rest of the living world are insane, or else there has been
wrought a miracle as strange as any in tradition. How can I explain it?
It is a common saying--a common experience, if you will--that we may,
on certain trying or tremendous occasions, live years in one moment.
But that's a mental experience, not a physical one, and one that
applies, at all events, only to human beings, not to senseless things
of wood and metal. You imagine the thing is some trick or jugglery. If
it be, I don't know the secret of it. There's no chemical appliance
that I ever heard of that will get a piece of solid wood into that
condition in a few months, or a few years. And it wasn't done in a few
years, or a few months either. A year ago today at this very hour that
banjo was as sound as when it left the maker's hands, and twenty-four
hours afterward--I'm telling you the simple truth--it was as you see it

The gravity and earnestness with which Ken made this astounding
statement were evidently not assumed, He believed every word that he
uttered. I knew not what to think. Of course my friend might be insane,
though he betrayed none of the ordinary symptoms of mania; but, however
that might be, there was the banjo, a witness whose silent testimony
there was no gainsaying. The more I meditated on the matter the more
inconceivable did it appear. Two hundred years--twenty-four hours;
these were the terms of the proposed equation. Ken and the banjo both
affirmed that the equation had been made; all worldly knowledge and
experience affirmed it to be impossible. "What was the explanation?
What is time? What is life? I felt myself beginning to doubt the
reality of all things. And so this was the mystery which my friend had
been brooding over since his return from abroad. No wonder it had
changed him. More to be wondered at was it that it had not changed him

"Can you tell me the whole story?" I demanded at length.

Ken quaffed another draught from his glass of whisky and water and
rubbed his hand through his thick brown beard. "I have never spoken to
any one of it heretofore," he said, "and I had never meant to speak of
it. But I'll try and give you some idea of what it was. You know me
better than any one else; you'll understand the thing as far as it can
ever be understood, and perhaps I may be relieved of some of the
oppression it has caused me. For it is rather a ghastly memory to
grapple with alone, I can tell you."

Hereupon, without further preface, Ken related the following tale. He
was, I may observe in passing, a naturally fine narrator. There were
deep, lingering tones in his voice, and he could strikingly enhance the
comic or pathetic effect of a sentence by dwelling here and there upon
some syllable. His features were equally susceptible of humorous and of
solemn expressions, and his eyes were in form and hue wonderfully
adapted to showing great varieties of emotion. Their mournful aspect
was extremely earnest and affecting; and when Ken was giving utterance
to some mysterious passage of the tale they had a doubtful, melancholy,
exploring look which appealed irresistibly to the imagination. But the
interest of his story was too pressing to allow of noticing these
incidental embellishments at the time, though they doubtless had their
influence upon me all the same.

"I left New York on an Inman Line steamer, you remember," began Ken,
"and landed at Havre. I went the usual round of sight-seeing on the
Continent, and got round to London in July, at the height of the
season. I had good introductions, and met any number of agreeable and
famous people. Among others was a young lady, a countrywoman of my
own--you know whom I mean--who interested me very much, and before her
family left London she and I were engaged. We parted there for the
time, because she had the Continental trip still to make, while I
wanted to take the opportunity to visit the north of England and
Ireland. I landed at Dublin about the 1st of October, and, zigzagging
about the country, I found myself in County Cork about two weeks later.

"There is in that region some of the most lovely scenery that human
eyes ever rested on, and it seems to be less known to tourists than
many places of infinitely less picturesque value. A lonely region too:
during my rambles I met not a single stranger like myself, and few
enough natives. It seems incredible that so beautiful a country should
be so deserted. After walking a dozen Irish miles you come across a
group of two or three one-roomed cottages, and, like as not, one or
more of those will have the roof off and the walls in ruins. The few
peasants whom one sees, however, are affable and hospitable, especially
when they hear you are from that terrestrial heaven whither most of
their friends and relatives have gone before them. They seem simple and
primitive enough at first sight, and yet they are as strange and
incomprehensible a race as any in the world. They are as superstitious,
as credulous of marvels, fairies, magicians, and omens, as the men whom
St. Patrick preached to, and at the same time they are shrewd,
skeptical, sensible, and bottomless liars. Upon the whole, I met with
no nation on my travels whose company I enjoyed so much, or who
inspired me with so much kindliness, curiosity, and repugnance.

"At length I got to a place on the sea-coast, which I will not further
specify than to say that it is not many miles from Ballymacheen, on the
south shore. I have seen Venice and Naples, I have driven along the
Cornice Road, I have spent a month at our own Mount Desert, and I say
that all of them together are not so beautiful as this glowing,
deep-hued, soft-gleaming, silvery-lighted, ancient harbor and town,
with the tall hills crowding round it and the black cliffs and
headlands planting their iron feet in the blue, transparent sea. It is
a very old place, and has had a history which it has outlived ages
since. It may once have had two or three thousand inhabitants; it has
scarce five or six hundred to day. Half the houses are in ruins or have
disappeared; many of the remainder are standing empty. All the people
are poor, most of them abjectly so; they saunter about with bare feet
and uncovered heads, the women in quaint black or dark-blue cloaks, the
men in such anomalous attire as only an Irishman knows how to get
together, the children half naked. The only comfortable-looking people
are the monks and the priests, and the soldiers in the fort. For there
is a fort there, constructed on the huge ruins of one which may have
done duty in the reign of Edward the Black Prince, or earlier, in whose
mossy embrasures are mounted a couple of cannon, which occasionally
sent a practice-shot or two at the cliff on the other side of the
harbor. The garrison consists of a dozen men and three or four officers
and non-commissioned officers. I suppose they are relieved
occasionally, but those I saw seemed to have become component parts of
their surroundings.

"I put up at a wonderful little old inn, the only one in the place, and
took my meals in a dining-saloon fifteen feet by nine, with a portrait
of George I (a print varnished to preserve it) hanging over the
mantel-piece. On the second evening after dinner a young gentleman came
in--the dining-saloon being public property of course--and ordered some
bread and cheese and a bottle of Dublin stout. We presently fell into
talk; he turned out to be an officer from the fort, Lieutenant
O'Connor, and a fine young specimen of the Irish soldier he was. After
telling me all he knew about the town, the surrounding country, his
friends, and himself, he intimated a readiness to sympathize with
whatever tale I might choose to pour into his ear; and I had pleasure
in trying to rival his own outspokenness. We became excellent friends;
we had up a half-pint of Kinahan's whisky, and the lieutenant expressed
himself in terms of high praise of my countrymen, my country, and my
own particular cigars. When it became time for him to depart I
accompanied him--for there was a splendid moon abroad--and bade him
farewell at the fort entrance, having promised to come over the next
day and make the acquaintance of the other fellows. 'And mind your eye,
now, going back, my dear boy,' he called out, as I turned my face
homeward. 'Faith, 'tis a spooky place, that graveyard, and you'll as
likely meet the black woman there as anywhere else!'

"The graveyard was a forlorn and barren spot on the hill-side, just the
hither side of the fort: thirty or forty rough head-stones, few of
which retained any semblance of the perpendicular, while many were so
shattered and decayed as to seem nothing more than irregular natural
projections from the ground. Who the black woman might be I knew not,
and did not stay to inquire. I had never been subject to ghostly
apprehensions, and as a matter of fact, though the path I had to follow
was in places very bad going, not to mention a hap-hazard scramble over
a ruined bridge that covered a deep-lying brook, I reached my inn
without any adventure whatever.

"The next day I kept my appointment at the fort, and found no reason to
regret it; and my friendly sentiments were abundantly reciprocated,
thanks more especially, perhaps, to the success of my banjo, which I
carried with me, and which was as novel as it was popular with those
who listened to it. The chief personages in the social circle besides
my friend the lieutenant were Major Molloy, who was in command, a racy
and juicy old campaigner, with a face like a sunset, and the surgeon,
Dr. Dudeen, a long, dry, humorous genius, with a wealth of anecdotical
and traditional lore at his command that I have never seen surpassed.
We had a jolly time of it, and it was the precursor of many more like
it. The remains of October slipped away rapidly, and I was obliged to
remember that I was a traveler in Europe, and not a resident in
Ireland. The major, the surgeon, and the lieutenant all protested
cordially against my proposed departure, but, as there was no help for
it, they arranged a farewell dinner to take place in the fort on

"I wish you could have been at that dinner with me! It was the essence
of Irish good-fellowship. Dr. Dudeen was in great force; the major was
better than the best of Lever's novels; the lieutenant was overflowing
with hearty good-humor, merry chaff, and sentimental rhapsodies anent
this or the other pretty girl of the neighborhood. For my part I made
the banjo ring as it had never rung before, and the others joined in
the chorus with a mellow strength of lungs such as you don't often hear
outside of Ireland. Among the stories that Dr. Dudeen regaled us with
was one about the Kern of Querin and his wife, Ethelind
Fionguala--which being interpreted signifies 'the white-shouldered.'
The lady, it appears, was originally betrothed to one O'Connor (here
the lieutenant smacked his lips), but was stolen away on the wedding
night by a party of vampires, who, it would seem, were at that period a
prominent feature among the troubles of Ireland. But as they were
bearing her along--she being unconscious--to that supper where she was
not to eat but to be eaten, the young Kern of Querin, who happened to
be out duck-shooting, met the party, and emptied his gun at it. The
vampires fled, and the Kern carried the fair lady, still in a state of
insensibility, to his house. 'And by the same token, Mr. Keningale,'
observed the doctor, knocking the ashes out of his pipe, 'ye're after
passing that very house on your way here. The one with the dark archway
underneath it, and the big mullioned window at the corner, ye
recollect, hanging over the street as I might say--'

"'Go 'long wid the house, Dr. Dudeen, dear,' interrupted the
lieutenant; 'sure can't you see we're all dying to know what happened
to sweet Miss Fionguala, God be good to her, when I was after getting
her safe up-stairs--'

"'Faith, then, I can tell ye that myself, Mr. O'Connor,' exclaimed the
major, imparting a rotary motion to the remnants of whisky in his
tumbler. ''Tis a question to be solved on general principles, as
Colonel O'Halloran said that time he was asked what he'd do if he'd
been the Book o' Wellington, and the Prussians hadn't come up in the
nick o' time at Waterloo. 'Faith,' says the colonel, 'I'll tell ye--'

"'Arrah, then, major, why would ye be interruptin' the doctor, and Mr.
Keningale there lettin' his glass stay empty till he hears--The Lord
save us! the bottle's empty!'

"In the excitement consequent upon this discovery, the thread of the
doctor's story was lost; and before it could be recovered the evening
had advanced so far that I felt obliged to withdraw. It took some time
to make my proposition heard and comprehended; and a still longer time
to put it in execution; so that it was fully midnight before I found
myself standing in the cool pure air outside the fort, with the
farewells of my boon companions ringing in my ears.

"Considering that it had been rather a wet evening in-doors, I was in a
remarkably good state of preservation, and I therefore ascribed it
rather to the roughness of the road than to the smoothness of the
liquor, when, after advancing a few rods, I stumbled and fell. As I
picked myself up I fancied I had heard a laugh, and supposed that the
lieutenant, who had accompanied me to the gate, was making merry over
my mishap; but on looking round I saw that the gate was closed and no
one was visible. The laugh, moreover, had seemed to be close at hand,
and to be even pitched in a key that was rather feminine than
masculine. Of course I must have been deceived; nobody was near me: my
imagination had played me a trick, or else there was more truth than
poetry in the tradition that Halloween is the carnival-time of
disembodied spirits. It did not occur to me at the time that a stumble
is held by the superstitious Irish to be an evil omen, and had I
remembered it it would only have been to laugh at it. At all events, I
was physically none the worse for my fall, and I resumed my way

"But the path was singularly difficult to find, or rather the path I
was following did not seem to be the right one. I did not recognize it;
I could have sworn (except I knew the contrary) that I had never seen
it before. The moon had risen, though her light was as yet obscured by
clouds, but neither my immediate surroundings nor the general aspect of
the region appeared familiar. Dark, silent hill-sides mounted up on
either hand, and the road, for the most part, plunged downward, as if
to conduct me into the bowels of the earth. The place was alive with
strange echoes, so that at times I seemed to be walking through the
midst of muttering voices and mysterious whispers, and a wild, faint
sound of laughter seemed ever and anon to reverberate among the passes
of the hills. Currents of colder air sighing up through narrow defiles
and dark crevices touched my face as with airy fingers. A certain
feeling of anxiety and insecurity began to take possession of me,
though there was no definable cause for it, unless that I might be
belated in getting home. With the perverse instinct of those who are
lost I hastened my steps, but was impelled now and then to glance back
over my shoulder, with a sensation of being pursued. But no living
creature was in sight. The moon, however, had now risen higher, and the
clouds that were drifting slowly across the sky flung into the naked
valley dusky shadows, which occasionally assumed shapes that looked
like the vague semblance of gigantic human forms.

"How long I had been hurrying onward I know not, when, with a kind of
suddenness, I found myself approaching a graveyard. It was situated on
the spur of a hill, and there was no fence around it, nor anything to
protect it from the incursions of passers-by. There was something in
the general appearance of this spot that made me half fancy I had seen
it before; and I should have taken it to be the same that I had often
noticed on my way to the fort, but that the latter was only a few
hundred yards distant therefrom, whereas I must have traversed several
miles at least. As I drew near, moreover, I observed that the
head-stones did not appear so ancient and decayed as those of the
other. But what chiefly attracted my attention was the figure that was
leaning or half sitting upon one of the largest of the upright slabs
near the road. It was a female figure draped in black, and a closer
inspection--for I was soon within a few yards of her--showed that she
wore the calla, or long hooded cloak, the most common as well as the
most ancient garment of Irish women, and doubtless of Spanish origin.

"I was a trifle startled by this apparition, so unexpected as it was,
and so strange did it seem that any human creature should be at that
hour of the night in so desolate and sinister a place. Involuntarily I
paused as I came opposite her, and gazed at her intently. But the
moonlight fell behind her, and the deep hood of her cloak so completely
shadowed her face that I was unable to discern anything but the sparkle
of a pair of eyes, which appeared to be returning my gaze with much

"'You seem to be at home here,' I said, at length. 'Can you tell me
where I am?'

"Hereupon the mysterious personage broke into a light laugh, which,
though in itself musical and agreeable, was of a timbre and intonation
that caused my heart to beat rather faster than my late pedestrian
exertions warranted; for it was the identical laugh (or so my
imagination persuaded me) that had echoed in my ears as I arose from my
tumble an hour or two ago. For the rest, it was the laugh of a young
woman, and presumably of a pretty one; and yet it had a wild, airy,
mocking quality, that seemed hardly human at all, or not, at any rate,
characteristic of a being of affections and limitations like unto ours.
But this impression of mine was fostered, no doubt, by the unusual and
uncanny circumstances of the occasion.

"'Sure, sir,' said she, 'you're at the grave of Ethelind Fionguala.'

"As she spoke she rose to her feet, and pointed to the inscription on
the stone. I bent forward, and was able, without much difficulty, to
decipher the name, and a date which indicated that the occupant of the
grave must have entered the disembodied state between two and three
centuries ago.

"'And who are you?' was my next question.

"'I'm called Elsie,' she replied. 'But where would your honor be going

"I mentioned my destination, and asked her whether she could direct me

"'Indeed, then, 'tis there I'm going myself,' Elsie replied; 'and if
your honor'll follow me, and play me a tune on the pretty instrument,
'tisn't long we'll be on the road.'

"She pointed to the banjo which I carried wrapped up under my arm. How
she knew that it was a musical instrument I could not imagine;
possibly, I thought, she may have seen me playing on it as I strolled
about the environs of the town. Be that as it may, I offered no
opposition to the bargain, and further intimated that I would reward
her more substantially on our arrival. At that she laughed again, and
made a peculiar gesture with her hand above her head. I uncovered my
banjo, swept my fingers across the strings, and struck into a fantastic
dance-measure, to the music of which we proceeded along the path, Elsie
slightly in advance, her feet keeping time to the airy measure. In
fact, she trod so lightly, with an elastic, undulating movement, that
with a little more it seemed as if she might float onward like a
spirit. The extreme whiteness of her feet attracted my eye, and I was
surprised to find that instead of being bare, as I had supposed, these
were incased in white satin slippers quaintly embroidered with gold

"'Elsie,' said I, lengthening my steps so as to come up with her,
'where do you live, and what do you do for a living?'

"'Sure, I live by myself,' she answered; 'and if you'd be after knowing
how, you must come and see for yourself.'

"'Are you in the habit of walking over the hills at night in shoes like

"'And why would I not?' she asked, in her turn. 'And where did your
honor get the pretty gold ring on your finger?'

"The ring, which was of no great intrinsic value, had struck my eye in
an old curiosity-shop in Cork. It was an antique of very old-fashioned
design, and might have belonged (as the vender assured me was the case)
to one of the early kings or queens of Ireland.

"'Do you like it?' said I.

"'Will your honor be after making a present of it to Elsie?' she
returned, with an insinuating tone and turn of the head.

"'Maybe I will, Elsie, on one condition. I am an artist; I make
pictures of people. If you will promise to come to my studio and let me
paint your portrait, I'll give you the ring, and some money besides.'

"'And will you give me the ring now?' said Elsie.

"'Yes, if you'll promise.'

"'And will you play the music to me?' she continued.

"'As much as you like.'

"'But maybe I'll not be handsome enough for ye,' said she, with a
glance of her eyes beneath the dark hood.

"'I'll take the risk of that,' I answered, laughing, 'though, all the
same, I don't mind taking a peep beforehand to remember you by.' So
saying, I put forth a hand to draw back the concealing hood. But Elsie
eluded me, I scarce know how, and laughed a third time, with the same
airy, mocking cadence.

"'Give me the ring first, and then you shall see me,' she said,

"'Stretch out your hand, then,' returned I, removing the ring from my
finger. 'When we are better acquainted, Elsie, you won't be so

"She held out a slender, delicate hand, on the forefinger of which I
slipped the ring. As I did so, the folds of her cloak fell a little
apart, affording me a glimpse of a white shoulder and of a dress that
seemed in that deceptive semi-darkness to be wrought of rich and costly
material; and I caught, too, or so I fancied, the frosty sparkle of
precious stones.

"'Arrah, mind where ye tread!' said Elsie, in a sudden, sharp tone.

"I looked round, and became aware for the first time that we were
standing near the middle of a ruined bridge which spanned a rapid
stream that flowed at a considerable depth below. The parapet of the
bridge on one side was broken down, and I must have been, in fact, in
imminent danger of stepping over into empty air. I made my way
cautiously across the decaying structure; but, when I turned to assist
Elsie, she was nowhere to be seen.

"What had become of the girl? I called, but no answer came. I gazed
about on every side, but no trace of her was visible. Unless she had
plunged into the narrow abyss at my feet, there was no place where she
could have concealed herself--none at least that I could discover. She
had vanished, nevertheless; and since her disappearance must have been
premeditated, I finally came to the conclusion that it was useless to
attempt to find her. She would present herself again in her own good
time, or not at all. She had given me the slip very cleverly, and I
must make the best of it. The adventure was perhaps worth the ring.

"On resuming my way, I was not a little relieved to find that I once
more knew where I was. The bridge that I had just crossed was none
other than the one I mentioned some time back; I was within a mile of
the town, and my way lay clear before me. The moon, moreover, had now
quite dispersed the clouds, and shone down with exquisite brilliance.
Whatever her other failings, Elsie had been a trustworthy guide; she
had brought me out of the depth of elf-land into the material world
again. It had been a singular adventure, certainly; and I mused over it
with a sense of mysterious pleasure as I sauntered along, humming
snatches of airs, and accompanying myself on the strings. Hark! what
light step was that behind me? It sounded like Elsie's; but no, Elsie
was not there. The same impression or hallucination, however, recurred
several times before I reached the outskirts of the town--the tread of
an airy foot behind or beside my own. The fancy did not make me
nervous; on the contrary, I was pleased with the notion of being thus
haunted, and gave myself up to a romantic and genial vein of reverie.

"After passing one or two roofless and moss-grown cottages, I entered
the narrow and rambling street which leads through the town. This
street a short distance down widens a little, as if to afford the
wayfarer space to observe a remarkable old house that stands on the
northern side. The house was built of stone, and in a noble style of
architecture; it reminded me somewhat of certain palaces of the old
Italian nobility that I had seen on the Continent, and it may very
probably have been built by one of the Italian or Spanish immigrants of
the sixteenth or seventeenth century. The molding of the projecting
windows and arched doorway was richly carved, and upon the front of the
building was an escutcheon wrought in high relief, though I could not
make out the purport of the device. The moonlight falling upon this
picturesque pile enhanced all its beauties, and at the same time made
it seem like a vision that might dissolve away when the light ceased to
shine. I must often have seen the house before, and yet I retained no
definite recollection of it; I had never until now examined it with my
eyes open, so to speak. Leaning against the wall on the opposite side
of the street, I contemplated it for a long while at my leisure. The
window at the corner was really a very fine and massive affair. It
projected over the pavement below, throwing a heavy shadow aslant; the
frames of the diamond-paned lattices were heavily mullioned. How often
in past ages had that lattice been pushed open by some fair hand,
revealing to a lover waiting beneath in the moonlight the charming
countenance of his high-born mistress! Those were brave days. They had
passed away long since. The great house had stood empty for who could
tell how many years; only bats and vermin were its inhabitants. Where
now were those who had built it? and who were they? Probably the very
name of them was forgotten.

"As I continued to stare upward, however, a conjecture presented itself
to my mind which rapidly ripened into a conviction. Was not this the
house that Dr. Dudeen had described that very evening as having been
formerly the abode of the Kern of Querin and his mysterious bride?
There was the projecting window, the arched doorway. Yes, beyond a
doubt this was the very house. I emitted a low exclamation of renewed
interest and pleasure, and my speculations took a still more
imaginative, but also a more definite turn.

"What had been the fate of that lovely lady after the Kern had brought
her home insensible in his arms? Did she recover, and were they married
and made happy ever after; or had the sequel been a tragic one? I
remembered to have read that the victims of vampires generally became
vampires themselves. Then my thoughts went back to that grave on the
hill-side. Surely that was unconsecrated ground. Why had they buried
her there? Ethelind of the white shoulder! Ah! why had not I lived in
those days; or why might not some magic cause them to live again for
me? Then would I seek this street at midnight, and standing here
beneath her window, I would lightly touch the strings of my bandore
until the casement opened cautiously and she looked down. A sweet
vision indeed! And what prevented my realizing it? Only a matter of a
couple of centuries or so. And was time, then, at which poets and
philosophers sneer, so rigid and real a matter that a little faith and
imagination might not overcome it? At all events, I had my banjo, the
bandore's legitimate and lineal descendant, and the memory of Fionguala
should have the love-ditty.

"Hereupon, having retuned the instrument, I launched forth into an old
Spanish love-song, which I had met with in some moldy library during my
travels, and had set to music of my own. I sang low, for the deserted
street re-echoed the lightest sound, and what I sang must reach only my
lady's ears. The words were warm with the fire of the ancient Spanish
chivalry, and I threw into their expression all the passion of the
lovers of romance. Surely Fionguala, the white-shouldered, would hear,
and awaken from her sleep of centuries, and come to the latticed
casement and look down! Hist! see yonder! What light--what shadow is
that that seems to flit from room to room within the abandoned house,
and now approaches the mullioned window? Are my eyes dazzled by the
play of the moonlight, or does the casement move--does it open? Nay,
this is no delusion; there is no error of the senses here. There is
simply a woman, young, beautiful, and richly attired, bending forward
from the window, and silently beckoning me to approach.

"Too much amazed to be conscious of amazement, I advanced until I stood
directly beneath the casement, and the lady's face, as she stooped
toward me, was not more than twice a man's height from my own. She
smiled and kissed her finger-tips; something white fluttered in her
hand, then fell through the air to the ground at my feet. The next
moment she had withdrawn, and I heard the lattice close. I picked up
what she had let fall; it was a delicate lace handkerchief, tied to the
handle of an elaborately wrought bronze key. It was evidently the key
of the house, and invited me to enter. I loosened it from the
handkerchief, which bore a faint, delicious perfume, like the aroma of
flowers in an ancient garden, and turned to the arched doorway. I felt
no misgiving, and scarcely any sense of strangeness. All was as I had
wished it to be, and as it should be; the mediaeval age was alive once
more, and as for myself, I almost felt the velvet cloak hanging from my
shoulder and the long rapier dangling at my belt. Standing in front of
the door I thrust the key into the lock, turned it, and felt the bolt
yield. The next instant the door was opened, apparently from within; I
stepped across the threshold, the door closed again, and I was alone in
the house, and in darkness.

"Not alone, however! As I extended my hand to grope my way it was met
by another hand, soft, slender, and cold, which insinuated itself
gently into mine and drew me forward. Forward I went, nothing loath;
the darkness was impenetrable, but I could hear the light rustle of a
dress close to me, and the same delicious perfume that had emanated
from the handkerchief enriched the air that I breathed, while the
little hand that clasped and was clasped by my own alternately
tightened and half relaxed the hold of its soft cold fingers. In this
manner, and treading lightly, we traversed what I presumed to be a
long, irregular passageway, and ascended a staircase. Then another
corridor, until finally we paused, a door opened, emitting a flood of
soft light, into which we entered, still hand in hand. The darkness and
the doubt were at an end.

"The room was of imposing dimensions, and was furnished and decorated
in a style of antique splendor. The walls were draped with mellow hues
of tapestry; clusters of candles burned in polished silver sconces, and
were reflected and multiplied in tall mirrors placed in the four
corners of the room. The heavy beams of the dark oaken ceiling crossed
each other in squares, and were laboriously carved; the curtains and
the drapery of the chairs were of heavy-figured damask. At one end of
the room was a broad ottoman, and in front of it a table, on which was
set forth, in massive silver dishes, a sumptuous repast, with wines in
crystal beakers. At the side was a vast and deep fire-place, with space
enough on the broad hearth to burn whole trunks of trees. No fire,
however, was there, but only a great heap of dead embers; and the room,
for all its magnificence, was cold--cold as a tomb, or as my lady's
hand--and it sent a subtle chill creeping to my heart.

"But my lady! how fair she was! I gave but a passing glance at the
room; my eyes and my thoughts were all for her. She was dressed in
white, like a bride; diamonds sparkled in her dark hair and on her
snowy bosom; her lovely face and slender lips were pale, and all the
paler for the dusky glow of her eyes. She gazed at me with a strange,
elusive smile; and yet there was, in her aspect and bearing, something
familiar in the midst of strangeness, like the burden of a song heard
long ago and recalled among other conditions and surroundings. It
seemed to me that something in me recognized her and knew her, had
known her always. She was the woman of whom I had dreamed, whom I had
beheld in visions, whose voice and face had haunted me from boyhood up.
Whether we had ever met before, as human beings meet, I knew not;
perhaps I had been blindly seeking her all over the world, and she had
been awaiting me in this splendid room, sitting by those dead embers
until all the warmth had gone out of her blood, only to be restored by
the heat with which my love might supply her.

"'I thought you had forgotten me,' she said, nodding as if in answer to
my thought. 'The night was so late--our one night of the year! How my
heart rejoiced when I heard your dear voice singing the song I know so
well! Kiss me--my lips are cold!'

"Cold indeed they were--cold as the lips of death. But the warmth of my
own seemed to revive them. They were now tinged with a faint color, and
in her cheeks also appeared a delicate shade of pink. She drew fuller
breath, as one who recovers from a long lethargy. Was it my life that
was feeding her? I was ready to give her all. She drew me to the table
and pointed to the viands and the wine.

"'Eat and drink,' she said. 'You have traveled far, and you need food.'

"'Will you eat and drink with me?' said I, pouring out the wine.

"'You are the only nourishment I want,' was her answer.' This wine is
thin and cold. Give me wine as red as your blood and as warm, and I
will drain a goblet to the dregs.'

"At these words, I know not why, a slight shiver passed through me. She
seemed to gain vitality and strength at every instant, but the chill of
the great room struck into me more and more.

"She broke into a fantastic flow of spirits, clapping her hands, and
dancing about me like a child. Who was she? And was I myself, or was
she mocking mo when she implied that we had belonged to each other of
old? At length she stood still before me, crossing her hands over her
breast. I saw upon the forefinger of her right hand the gleam of an
antique ring.

"'Where did you get that ring?' I demanded.

"She shook her head and laughed. 'Have you been faithful?' she asked.
'It is my ring; it is the ring that unites us; it is the ring you gave
me when you loved me first. It is the ring of the Kern--the fairy ring,
and I am your Ethelind--Ethelind Fionguala.'

"'So be it,' I said, casting aside all doubt and fear, and yielding
myself wholly to the spell of her inscrutable eyes and wooing lips.
'You are mine, and I am yours, and let us be happy while the hours

"'You are mine, and I am yours,' she repeated, nodding her head with an
elfish smile. 'Come and sit beside me, and sing that sweet song again
that you sang to me so long ago. Ah, now I shall live a hundred years.'

"We seated ourselves on the ottoman, and while she nestled luxuriously
among the cushions, I took my banjo and sang to her. The song and the
music resounded through the lofty room, and came back in throbbing
echoes. And before me as I sang I saw the face and form of Ethelind
Fionguala, in her jeweled bridal dress, gazing at me with burning eyes.
She was pale no longer, but ruddy and warm, and life was like a flame
within her. It was I who had become cold and bloodless, yet with the
last life that was in me I would have sung to her of love that can
never die. But at length my eyes grew dim, the room seemed to darken,
the form of Ethelind alternately brightened and waxed indistinct, like
the last flickerings of a fire; I swayed toward her, and felt myself
lapsing into unconsciousness, with my head resting on her white

Here Keningale paused a few moments in his story, flung a fresh log
upon the fire, and then continued:

"I awoke, I know not how long afterward. I was in a vast, empty room in
a ruined building. Rotten shreds of drapery depended from the walls,
and heavy festoons of spiders' webs gray with dust covered the windows,
which were destitute of glass or sash; they had been boarded up with
rough planks which had themselves become rotten with age, and admitted
through their holes and crevices pallid rays of light and chilly
draughts of air. A bat, disturbed by these rays or by my own movement,
detached himself from his hold on a remnant of moldy tapestry near me,
and after circling dizzily around my head, wheeled the flickering
noiselessness of his flight into a darker corner. As I arose unsteadily
from the heap of miscellaneous rubbish on which I had been lying,
something which had been resting across my knees fell to the floor with
a rattle. I picked it up, and found it to be my banjo--as you see it

"Well, that is all I have to tell. My health was seriously impaired;
all the blood seemed to have been drawn out of my veins; I was pale and
haggard, and the chill--Ah, that chill," murmured Keningale, drawing
nearer to the fire, and spreading out his hands to catch the warmth--"I
shall never get over it; I shall carry it to my grave."


"What a beautiful girl!" said Mr. Ambrose Drayton to himself; "and how
much she looks like--" He cut the comparison short, and turned his eyes
seaward, pulling at his mustache meditatively the while.

"This American atmosphere, fresh and pure as it is in the nostrils, is
heavy-laden  with reminiscences," his thoughts ran on. "Reminiscences,
but always with differences, the chief difference being, no doubt, in
myself. And no wonder. Nineteen years; yes, it's positively nineteen
years since I stood here and gazed out through yonder gap between the
headlands. Nineteen years of foreign lands, foreign men and manners,
the courts, the camps, the schools; adventure, business, and
pleasure--if I may lightly use so mysterious a word. Nineteen and
twenty are thirty-nine; in my case say sixty at least. Why, a girl like
that lovely young thing walking away there with her light step and her
innocent heart would take me to be sixty to a dead certainty. A rather
well-preserved man of sixty--that's how she'd describe me to the young
fellow she's given her heart to. Well, sixty or forty, what difference?
When a man has passed the age at which he falls in love, he is the peer
of Methuselah from that time forth. But what a fiery season that of
love is while it lasts! Ay, and it burns something out of the soul that
never grows again. And well that it should do so: a susceptible heart
is a troublesome burden to lug round the world. Curious that I should
be even thinking of such things: association, I suppose. Here it was
that we met and here we parted. But what a different place it was then!
A lovely cape, half bleak moorland and half shaggy wood, a few rocky
headlands and a great many coots and gulls, and one solitary old
farmhouse standing just where that spick-and-span summer hotel, with
its balconies and cupolas, stands now. So it was nineteen years ago,
and so it may be again, perhaps, nine hundred years hence; but
meanwhile, what a pretty array of modern aesthetic cottages, and plank
walks, and bridges, and bathing-houses, and pleasure-boats! And what an
admirable concourse of well-dressed and pleasurably inclined men and
women! After all, my countrymen are the finest-looking and most
prosperous-appearing people on the globe. They have traveled a little
faster than I have, and on a somewhat different track; but I would
rather be among them than anywhere else. Yes, I won't go back to
London, nor yet to Paris, or Calcutta, or Cairo. I'll buy a cottage
here at Squittig Point, and live and die here and in New York. I wonder
whether Mary is alive and mother of a dozen children, or--not!"

"Auntie," said Miss Leithe to her relative, as they regained the
veranda of their cottage after their morning stroll on the beach, "who
was that gentleman who looked at us?"

"Hey?--who?" inquired the widow of the late Mr. Corwin, absently.

"The one in the thin gray suit and Panama hat; you must have seen him.
A very distinguished-looking man and yet very simple and pleasant; like
some of those nice middle-aged men that you see in 'Punch,' slenderly
built, with handsome chin and eyes, and thick mustache and whiskers.
Oh, auntie, why do you never notice things? I think a man between forty
and fifty is ever so much nicer than when they're younger. They know
how to be courteous, and they're not afraid of being natural. I mean
this one looks as if he would. But he must be somebody remarkable in
some way--don't you think so? There's something about him--something
graceful and gentle and refined and manly--that makes most other men
seem common beside him. Who do you suppose he can be?"

"Who?--what have you been saying, my dear?" inquired Aunt Corwin,
rousing herself from the perusal of a letter. "Here's Sarah writes that
Frank Redmond was to sail from Havre the 20th; so he won't be here for
a week or ten days yet."

"Well, he might not have come at all," said the girl, coloring
slightly. "I'm sure I didn't think he would, when he went away."

"You are both of you a year older and wiser," said the widow,
meditatively; "and you have learned, I hope, not to irritate a man
needlessly. I never irritated Corwin in all my life. They don't
understand it."

"Here comes Mr. Haymaker," observed Miss Leithe. "I shall ask him."

"Don't ask him in," said Mrs. Corwin, retiring; "he chatters like an

"Oh, good-morning, Miss Mary!" exclaimed Mr. Haymaker, as he mounted
the steps of the veranda, with his hands extended and his customary
effusion. "How charming you are looking after your bath and your walk
and all! Did you ever see such a charming morning? I never was at a
place I liked so much as Squittig Point; the new Newport, I call
it--eh? the new Newport. So fashionable already, and only been going,
as one might say, three or four years! Such charming people here! Oh,
by-the-way, whom do you think I ran across just now? You wouldn't know
him, though--been abroad since before you were born, I should think.
Most charming man I ever met, and awfully wealthy. Ran across him in
Europe--Paris, I think it was--stop! or was it Vienna? Well, never
mind. Drayton, that's his name; ever hear of him? Ambrose Drayton. Made
a great fortune in the tea-trade; or was it in the mines? I've
forgotten. Well, no matter. Great traveler, too--Africa and the Corea,
and all that sort of thing; and fought under Garibaldi, they say; and
he had the charge of some diplomatic affair at Pekin once. The
quietest, most gentlemanly fellow you ever saw. Oh, you must meet him.
He's come back to stay, and will probably spend the summer here. I'll
get him and introduce him. Oh, he'll be charmed--we all shall."

"What sort of a looking person is he?" Miss Leithe inquired.

"Oh, charming--just right! Trifle above medium height; rather lighter
weight than I am, but graceful; grayish hair, heavy mustache, blue
eyes; style of a retired English colonel, rather. You know what I
mean--trifle reticent, but charming manners. Stop! there he goes
now--see him? Just stopping to light a cigar--in a line with the
light-house. Now he's thrown away the match, and walking on again.
That's Ambrose Drayton. Introduce him on the sands this afternoon. How
is your good aunt to-day? So sorry not to have seen her! Well, I must
be off; awfully busy to-day. Good-by, my dear Miss Mary; see you this
afternoon. Good-by. Oh, make my compliments to your good aunt, won't
you? Thanks. So charmed! _Au revoir_."

"Has that fool gone?" demanded a voice from within.

"Yes, Auntie," the young lady answered.

"Then come in to your dinner," the voice rejoined, accompanied by the
sound of a chair being drawn up to a table and sat down upon. Mary
Leithe, after casting a glance after the retreating figure of Mr.
Haymaker and another toward the light-house, passed slowly through the
wire-net doors and disappeared.

Mr. Drayton had perforce engaged his accommodations at the hotel, all
the cottages being either private property or rented, and was likewise
constrained, therefore, to eat his dinner in public. But Mr. Drayton
was not a hater of his species, nor a fearer of it; and though he had
not acquired precisely our American habits and customs, he was disposed
to be as little strange to them as possible. Accordingly, when the gong
sounded, he entered the large dining-room with great intrepidity. The
arrangement of tables was not continuous, but many small tables,
capable of accommodating from two to six, were dotted about everywhere.
Mr. Drayton established himself at the smallest of them, situated in a
part of the room whence he had a view not only of the room itself, but
of the blue sea and yellow rocks on the other side. This preliminary
feat of generalship accomplished, he took a folded dollar bill from his
pocket and silently held it up in the air, the result being the speedy
capture of a waiter and the introduction of dinner.

But at this juncture Mr. Haymaker came pitching into the room, as his
nature was, and pinned himself to a standstill, as it were, with his
eyeglass, in the central aisle of tables. Drayton at once gave himself
up for lost, and therefore received Mr. Haymaker with kindness and
serenity when, a minute or two later, he came plunging up, in his usual
ecstasy of sputtering amiability, and seated himself in the chair at
the other side of the table with an air as if everything were charming
in the most charming of all possible worlds, and he himself the most
charming person in it.

"My dear Drayton, though," exclaimed Mr. Haymaker, in the interval
between the soup and the bluefish, "there is some one here you must
know--most charming girl you ever knew in your life, and has set her
heart on knowing you. We were talking about you this morning--Miss Mary
Leithe. Lovely name, too; pity ever to change it--he! he! he! Why, you
must have seen her about here; has an old aunt, widow of Jim Corwin,
who's dead and gone these five years. You recognize her, of course?"

"Not as you describe her," said Mr. Drayton, helping his friend to fish.

"Oh, the handsomest girl about here; tallish, wavy brown hair, soft
brown eyes, the loveliest-shaped eyes in the world, my dear fellow;
complexion like a Titian, figure slender yet, but promising. A way of
giving you her hand that makes you wish she would take your heart,"
pursued Mr. Haymaker, impetuously filling his mouth with bluefish,
during the disposal of which he lost the thread of his harangue.
Drayton, however, seemed disposed to recover it for him.

"Is this young lady from New England?" he inquired.

"New-Yorker by birth," responded the ever-vivacious Haymaker; "father a
Southern man; mother a Bostonian. Father died eight or nine years after
marriage; mother survived him six years; girl left in care of old Mrs.
Corwin--good old creature, but vague--very vague. Don't fancy the
marriage was a very fortunate one; a little friction, more or less.
Leithe was rather a wild, unreliable sort of man; Mrs. Leithe a woman
not easily influenced--immensely charming, though, and all that, but a
trifle narrow and set. Well, you know, it was this way: Leithe was an
immensely wealthy man when she married him; lost his money, struggled
along, good deal of friction; Mrs. Leithe probably felt she had made a
mistake, and that sort of thing. But Miss Mary here, very different
style, looks like her mother, but softer; more in her, too. Very little
money, poor girl, but charming. Oh! you must know her."

"What did you say her mother's maiden name was?"

"Maiden name? Let me see. Why--oh, no--oh, yes--Cleveland, Mary

"Mary Cleveland, of Boston; married Hamilton Leithe, about nineteen
years ago. I used to know the lady. And this is her daughter! And Mary
Cleveland is dead!--Help yourself, Haymaker. I never take more than one
course at this hour of the day."

"But you must let me introduce you, you know," mumbled Haymaker,
through his succotash.

"I hardly know," said Drayton, rubbing his mustache. "Pardon me if I
leave you," he added, looking at his watch. "It is later than I

Nothing more was seen of Drayton for the rest of that day. But the next
morning, as Mary Leithe sat on the Bowlder Rock, with a book on her
lap, and her eyes on the bathers, and her thoughts elsewhere, she heard
a light, leisurely tread behind her, and a gentlemanly, effective
figure made its appearance, carrying a malacca walking-stick, and a
small telescope in a leather case slung over the shoulder.

"Good-morning, Miss Leithe," said this personage, in a quiet and
pleasant voice. "I knew your mother before you were born, and I can not
feel like a stranger toward her daughter. My name is Ambrose Drayton.
You look something like your mother, I think."

"I think I remember mamma's having spoken of you," said Mary Leithe,
looking up a little shyly, but with a smile that was the most winning
of her many winning manifestations. Her upper lip, short, but somewhat
fuller than the lower one, was always alive with delicate movements;
the corners of her mouth were blunt, the teeth small; and the smile was
such as Psyche's might have been when Cupid waked her with a kiss.

"It was here I first met your mother," continued Drayton, taking his
place beside her. "We often sat together on this very rock. I was a
young fellow then, scarcely older than you, and very full of romance
and enthusiasm. Your mother--". He paused a moment, looking at his
companion with a grave smile in his eyes. "If I had been as dear to her
as she was to me," he went on, "you would have been our daughter."

Mary looked out upon the bathers, and upon the azure bay, and into her
own virgin heart. "Are you married, too?" she asked at length.

"I was cut out for an old bachelor, and I have been true to my
destiny," was his reply. "Besides, I've lived abroad till a month or
two ago, and good Americans don't marry foreign wives."

"I should like to go abroad," said Mary Leithe.

"It is the privilege of Americans," said Drayton. "Other people are
born abroad, and never know the delight of real travel. But, after all,
America is best. The life of the world culminates here. We are the prow
of the vessel; there may be more comfort amidships, but we are the
first to touch the unknown seas. And the foremost men of all nations
are foremost only in so far as they are at heart American; that is to
say, America is, at present, even more an idea and a principle than it
is a country. The nation has perhaps not yet risen to the height of its
opportunities. So you have never crossed the Atlantic?"

"No; my father never wanted to go; and after he died, mamma could not."

"Well, our American Emerson says, you know, that, as the good of travel
respects only the mind, we need not depend for it on railways and

"It seems to me, if we never moved ourselves, our minds would never
really move either."

"Where would you most care to go?"

"To Rome, and Jerusalem, and Egypt, and London."


"They seem like parts of my mind that I shall never know unless I visit

"Is there no part of the world that answers to your heart?"

"Oh, the beautiful parts everywhere, I suppose."

"I can well believe it," said Drayton, but with so much simplicity and
straightforwardness that Mary Leithe's cheeks scarcely changed color.
"And there is beauty enough here," he added, after a pause.

"Yes; I have always liked this place," said she, "though the cottages
seem a pity."

"You knew the old farm-house, then?"

"Oh, yes; I used to play in the farm-yard when I was a little girl.
After my father died, Mamma used to come here every year. And my aunt
has a cottage here now. You haven't met my aunt, Mr. Drayton?"

"I wished to know you first. But now I want to know her, and to become
one of the family. There is no one left, I find, who belongs to me.
What would you think of me for a bachelor uncle?"

"I would like it very much," said Mary, with a smile.

"Then let us begin," returned Drayton.

Several days passed away very pleasantly. Never was there a bachelor
uncle so charming, as Haymaker would have said, as Drayton. The kind of
life in the midst of which he found himself was altogether novel and
delightful to him. In some aspects it was like enjoying for the first
time a part of his existence which he should have enjoyed in youth, but
had missed; and in many ways he doubtless enjoyed it more now than he
would have done then, for he brought it to a maturity of experience
which had taught him the inestimable value of simple things; a quiet
nobility of character and clearness of knowledge that enabled him to
perceive and follow the right course in small things as in great; a
serene yet cordial temperament that rendered him the cheerfulest and
most trustworthy of companions; a generous and masculine disposition,
as able to direct as to comply; and years which could sympathize
impartially with youth and age, and supply something which each lacked.
He, meanwhile, sometimes seemed to himself to be walking in a dream.
The region in which he was living, changed, yet so familiar, the
thought of being once more, after so many years of homeless wandering,
in his own land and among his own countrymen, and the companionship of
Mary Leithe, like, yet so unlike, the Mary Cleveland he had known and
loved, possessing in reality all the tenderness and lovely virginal
sweetness that he had imagined in the other, with a warmth of heart
that rejuvenated his own, and a depth and freshness of mind answering
to the wisdom that he had drawn from experience, and rendering her,
though in her different and feminine sphere, his equal--all these
things made Drayton feel as if he would either awake and find them the
phantasmagoria of a beautiful dream, or as if the past time were the
dream, and this the reality. Certainly, in this ardent, penetrating
light of the present, the past looked vaporous and dim, like a range of
mountains scaled long ago and vanishing on the horizon.

And was this all? Doubtless it was, at first. It was natural that
Drayton should regard with peculiar tenderness the daughter of the
woman he had loved. She was an orphan, and poor; he was alone in the
world, with no one dependent upon him, and with wealth which could find
no better use than to afford this girl the opportunities and the
enjoyments which she else must lack. His anticipations in returning to
America had been somewhat cold and vague. It was his native land; but
abstract patriotism is, after all, rather chilly diet for a human being
to feed his heart upon. The unexpected apparition of Mary Leithe had
provided just that vividness and particularity that were wanting.
Insensibly Drayton bestowed upon her all the essence of the love of
country which he had cherished untainted throughout his long exile. It
was so much easier and simpler a thing to know and appreciate her than
to do as much for the United States and their fifty million
inhabitants, national, political, and social, that it is no wonder if
Drayton, as a modest and sane gentleman, preferred to make the former
the symbol of the latter--of all, at least, that was good and lovable
therein. At the same time, so clear-headed a man could scarcely have
failed to be aware that his affection for Mary Leithe was not actually
dependent upon the fact of her being an emblem. Upon what, then, was it
dependent? Upon her being the daughter of Mary Cleveland? It was true
that he had loved Mary Cleveland; but she had deliberately jilted him
to marry a wealthier man, and was therefore connected with and
responsible for the most painful as well as the most pleasurable
episode of his early life. Mary Leithe bore some personal resemblance
to her mother; but had she been as like her in character and
disposition as she was in figure and feature, would Drayton, knowing
what he knew, have felt drawn toward her? A man does not remain for
twenty years under the influence of an unreasonable and mistaken
passion. Drayton certainly had not, although his disappointment had
kept him a bachelor all his life, and altered the whole course of his
existence. But when we have once embarked upon a certain career, we
continue in it long after the motive which started us has been
forgotten. No; Drayton's regard for Mary Leithe must stand on its own
basis, independent of all other considerations.

What, in the next place, was the nature of this regard? Was it merely
avuncular, or something different? Drayton assured himself that it was
the former. He was a man of the world, and had done with passions. The
idea of his falling in love made him smile in a deprecatory manner.
That the object of such love should be a girl eighteen years his junior
rendered the suggestion yet more irrational. She was lustrous with
lovable qualities, which he genially recognized and appreciated; nay,
he might love her, but the love would be a quasi-paternal one, not the
love that demands absolute possession and brooks no rivalry. His
attitude was contemplative and beneficent, not selfish and exclusive.
His greatest pleasure would be to see her married to some one worthy of
her. Meantime he might devote himself to her freely and without fear.

And yet, once again, was he not the dupe of himself and of a
convention? Was his the mood in which an uncle studies his niece, or
even a father his daughter? How often during the day was she absent
from his thoughts, or from his dreams at night? What else gave him so
much happiness as to please her, and what would he not do to give her
pleasure? Why was he dissatisfied and aimless when not in her presence?
Why so full-orbed and complete when she was near? He was eighteen years
the elder, but there was in her a fullness of nature, a balanced
development, which went far toward annulling the discrepancy. Moreover,
though she was young, he was not old, and surely he had the knowledge,
the resources, and the will to make her life happy. There would be, he
fancied, a certain poetical justice in such an issue. It would
illustrate the slow, seemingly severe, but really tender wisdom of
Providence. Out of the very ashes of his dead hopes would arise this
gracious flower of promise. She would afford him scope for the
employment of all those riches, moral and material, which life had
brought him; she would be his reward for having lived honorably and
purely for purity's and honor's sake. But why multiply reasons? There
was justification enough; and true love knows nothing of justification.
He loved her, then; and now, did she love him? This was the real
problem--the mystery of a maiden's heart, which all Solomon's wisdom
and Bacon's logic fail to elucidate. Drayton did what he could. Once he
came to her with the news that he must be absent from an excursion
which they had planned, and he saw genuine disappointment darken her
sweet face, and her slender figure seem to droop. This was well as far
as it went, but beyond that it proved nothing. Another time he gave her
a curious little shell which he had picked up while they were rambling
together along the beach, and some time afterward he accidently noticed
that she was wearing it by a ribbon round her neck. This seemed better.
Again, on a night when there was a social gathering at the hotel, he
entered the room and sat apart at one of the windows, and as long as he
remained there he felt that her gaze was upon him, and twice or thrice
when he raised his eyes they were met by hers, and she smiled; and
afterward, when he was speaking near her, he noticed that she
disregarded what her companion of the moment was saying to her, and
listened only to him. Was not all this encouragement? Nevertheless,
whenever, presuming upon this, he hazarded less ambiguous
demonstrations, she seemed to shrink back and appear strange and
troubled. This behavior perplexed him; he doubted the evidence that had
given him hope; feared that he was a fool; that she divined his love,
and pitied him, and would have him, if at all, only out of pity.
Thereupon he took himself sternly to task, and resolved to give her up.

It was a transparent July afternoon, with white and gray clouds
drifting across a clear blue sky, and a southwesterly breeze roughening
the dark waves and showing their white shoulders. Mary Leithe and
Drayton came slowly along the rocks, he assisting her to climb or
descend the more rugged places, and occasionally pausing with her to
watch the white canvas of a yacht shiver in the breeze as she went
about, or to question whether yonder flash amid the waves, where the
gulls were hovering and dipping, were a bluefish breaking water. At
length they reached a little nook in the seaward face, which, by often
resorting to it, they had in a manner made their own. It was a small
shelf in the rock, spacious enough for two to sit in at ease, with a
back to lean against, and at one side a bit of level ledge which served
as a stand or table. Before them was the sea, which, at high-water
mark, rose to within three yards of their feet; while from the
shoreward side they were concealed by the ascending wall of sandstone.
Drayton had brought a cushion with him, which he arranged in Mary's
seat; and when they had established themselves, he took a volume of
Emerson's poems from his pocket and laid it on the rock beside him.

"Are you comfortable?" he asked.

"Yes; I wish it would be always like this--the weather, and the sun,
and the time--so that we might stay here forever."

"Forever is the least useful word in human language," observed Drayton.
"In the perspective of time, a few hours, or days, or years, seem alike

"But it is not the same to our hearts, which live forever," she

"The life of the heart is love," said Drayton.

"And that lasts forever," said Mary Leithe.

"True love lasts, but the object changes," was his reply.

"It seems to change sometimes," said she.

"But I think it is only our perception that is misled. We think we have
found what we love; but afterward, perhaps, we find it was not in the
person we supposed, but in some other. Then we love it in him; not
because our heart has changed, but just because it has not."

"Has that been your experience?" Drayton asked, with a smile.

"Oh, I was speaking generally," she said, looking down.

"It may be the truth; but if so, it is a perilous thing to be loved."


"Why, yes. How can the lover be sure that he really is what his
mistress takes him for? After all, a man has and is nothing in himself.
His life, his love, his goodness, such as they are, flow into him from
his Creator, in such measure as he is capable or desirous of receiving
them. And he may receive more at one time than at another. How shall he
know when he may lose the talismanic virtue that won her love--even
supposing he ever possessed it?"

"I don't know how to argue," said Mary Leithe; "I can only feel when a
thing is true or not--or when I think it is--and say what I feel."

"Well, I am wise enough to trust the truth of your feeling before any

This assertion somewhat disconcerted Mary Leithe, who never liked to be
confronted with her own shadow, so to speak. However, she seemed
resolved on this occasion to give fuller utterance than usual to what
was in her mind; so, after a pause, she continued, "It is not only how
much we are capable of receiving from God, but the peculiar way in
which each one of us shows what is in him, that makes the difference in
people. It is not the talisman so much as the manner of using it that
wins a girl's love. And she may think one manner good until she comes
to know that another is better."

"And, later, that another is better still?"

"You trust my feeling less than you thought, you see," said Mary,
blushing, and with a tremor of her lips.

"Perhaps I am afraid of trusting it too much," Drayton replied, fixing
his eyes upon her. Then he went on, with a changed tone and manner:
"This metaphysical discussion of ours reminds me of one of Emerson's
poems, whose book, by-the-by, I brought with me. Have you ever read

"Very few of them," said Mary; "I don't seem to belong to them."

"Not many people can eat them raw, I imagine," rejoined Drayton,
laughing. "They must be masticated by the mind before they can nourish
the heart, and some of them--However, the one I am thinking of is very
beautiful, take it how you will. It is called, 'Give all to Love.' Do
you know it!"

Mary shook her head.

"Then listen to it," said Drayton, and he read the poem to her. "What
do you think of it?" he asked when he had ended.

"It is very short," said Mary, "and it is certainly beautiful; but I
don't understand some parts of it, and I don't think I like some other

"It is a true poem," returned Drayton; "it has a body and a soul; the
body is beautiful, but the soul is more beautiful still; and where the
body seems incomplete, the soul is most nearly perfect. Be loyal, it
says, to the highest good you know; follow it through all difficulties
and dangers; make it the core of your heart and the life of your soul;
and yet, be free of it! For the hour may always be at hand when that
good that you have lived for and lived in must be given up. And
then--what says the poet?

  "'Though thou loved her as thyself,
  As a self of purer clay,
  Though her parting dims the day,
  Stealing grace from all alive,
  Heartily know,
  When half-gods go,
  The gods arrive.'"

There was something ominous in Drayton's tone, quiet and pleasant
though it sounded to the ear, and Mary could not speak; she knew that
he would speak again, and that his words would bring the issue finally
before her.

He shut the book and put it in his pocket. For some time he remained
silent, gazing eastward across the waves, which came from afar to break
against the rock at their feet. A small white pyramidal object stood up
against the horizon verge, and upon this Drayton's attention appeared
to be concentrated.

"If you should ever decide to come," he said at length, "and want the
services of a courier who knows the ground well, I shall be at your

"Come where?" she said, falteringly.

"Eastward. To Europe."

"You will go with me?"

"Hardly that. But I shall be there to receive you."

"You are going back?"

"In a month, or thereabouts."

"Oh, Mr. Drayton! Why?"

"Well, for several reasons. My coming here was an experiment. It might
have succeeded, but it was made too late. I am too old for this young
country. I love it, but I can be of no service to it. On the contrary,
so far as I was anything, I should be in the way. It does not need me,
and I have been an exile so long as to have lost my right to inflict
myself upon it. Yet I am glad to have been here; the little time that I
have been here has recompensed me for all the sorrows of my life, and I
shall never forget an hour of it as long as I live."

"Are you quite sure that your country does not want you--need you?"

"I should not like my assurance to be made more sure."

"How can you know? Who has told you? Whom have you asked?"

"There are some questions which it is not wise to put; questions whose
answers may seem ungracious to give, and are sad to hear."

"But the answer might not seem so. And how can it be given until you
ask it?"

Drayton turned and looked at her. His face was losing its resolute
composure, and there was a glow in his eyes and in his cheeks that
called up an answering warmth in her own.

"Do you know where my country is?" he demanded, almost sternly.

"It is where you are loved and wanted most, is it not?" she said,

"Do not deceive yourself--nor me!" exclaimed Drayton, putting out his
hand toward her, and half rising from the rock. "There is only one
thing more to say."

A sea-gull flew close by them, and swept on, and in a moment was far
away, and lost to sight. So in our lives does happiness come so near us
as almost to brush our cheeks with its wings, and then pass on, and
become as unattainable as the stars. As Mary Leithe was about to speak,
a shadow cast from above fell across her face and figure. She seemed to
feel a sort of chill from it, warm though the day was; and without
moving her eyes from Drayton's face to see whence the shadow came, her
expression underwent a subtle and sudden change, losing the fervor of a
moment before, and becoming relaxed and dismayed. But after a moment
Drayton looked up, and immediately rose to his feet, exclaiming, "Frank

On the rock just above them stood a young man, dark of complexion, with
eager eyes, and a figure athletic and strong. As Drayton spoke his
name, his countenance assumed an expression half-way between pleased
surprise and jealous suspicion. Meanwhile Mary Leithe had covered her
face with her hands.

"I'm sure I'd no idea you were here, Mr. Drayton," said the young man.
"I was looking for Mary Leithe. Is that she?"

Mary uncovered her face, and rose to her feet languidly. She did not as
yet look toward Redmond, but she said in a low voice, "How do you do,
Frank? You--came so suddenly!"

"I didn't stop to think--that I might interrupt you," said he, drawing
back a little and lifting his head.

Drayton had been observing the two intently, breathing constrainedly
the while, and grasping a jutting point of rock with his hand as he
stood. He now said, in a genial and matter-of-fact voice, "Well, Master
Frank, I shall have an account to settle with you when you and my niece
have got through your first greetings."

"Mary your niece!" cried Redmond, bewildered.

"My niece by courtesy; her mother was a dear friend of mine before Mary
was born. And now it appears that she is the young lady, the dearest
and loveliest ever heard of, about whom you used to rhapsodize to me in
Dresden! Why didn't you tell me her name? By Jove, you young rogue,
I've a good mind to refuse my consent to the match! What if I had
married her off to some other young fellow, and you been left in the
lurch! However, luckily for you, I haven't been able thus far to find
any one who in my opinion--How do you do, Frank? You--came so suddenly!"

"I didn't stop to think--that I might interrupt you," said he, drawing
back a little and lifting his head.

Drayton had been observing the two intently, breathing constrainedly
the while, and grasping a jutting point of rock with his hand as he
stood. He now said, in a genial and matter-of-fact voice, "Well, Master
Frank, I shall have an account to settle with you when you and my niece
have got through your first greetings."

"Mary your niece!" cried Redmond, bewildered.

"My niece by courtesy; her mother was a dear friend of mine before Mary
was born. And now it appears that she is the young lady, the dearest
and loveliest ever heard of, about whom you used to rhapsodize to me in
Dresden! Why didn't you tell me her name? By Jove, you young rogue,
I've a good mind to refuse my consent to the match! What if I had
married her off to some other young fellow, and you been left in the
lurch! However, luckily for you, I haven't been able thus far to find
any one who in my opinion would suit her better. Come down here and
shake hands, Frank, and then I'll leave you to make your excuses to
Miss Leithe. And the next time you come back to her after a year's
absence, don't frighten her heart into her mouth by springing out on
her like a jack-in-the-box. Send a bunch of flowers or a signet-ring to
tell her you are coming, or you may get a cooler reception than you'd

"Ah! Ambrose Drayton," he sighed to himself as he clambered down the
rocks alone, and sauntered along the shore, "there is no fool like an
old fool. Where were your eyes that you couldn't have seen what was the
matter? Her heart was fighting against itself all the time, poor child!
And you, selfish brute, bringing to bear on her all your antiquated
charms and fascinations--Heaven save the mark!--and bullying her into
the belief that you could make her happy! Thank God, Ambrose Drayton,
that your awakening did not come too late. A minute more would have
made her and you miserable for life--and Redmond too, confound him! And
yet they might have told me; one of them might have told me, surely.
Even at my age it is hard to remember one's own insignificance. And I
did love her! God knows how I loved her! I hope he loves her as much;
but how can he help it! And she--she won't remember long! An old fellow
who made believe he was her uncle, and made rather a fool of himself;
went back to Europe, and never been heard of since. Ah, me!"

"Where did you get acquainted with Mr. Drayton, Frank?"

"At Dresden. It was during the vacation at Freiberg last winter, and I
had come over to Dresden to have a good time. We stayed at the same
hotel. We played a game of billiards together, and he chatted with me
about America, and asked me about my mining studies at Freiberg; and I
thought him about the best fellow I'd ever met. But I didn't know
then--I hadn't any conception what a splendid fellow he really was. If
ever I hear anybody talking of their ideal of a gentleman, I shall ask
them if they ever met Ambrose Drayton."

"What did he do?"

"Well, the story isn't much to my credit; if it hadn't been for him,
you might never have heard of me again; and it will serve me right to
confess the whole thing to you. It's about a--woman."

"What sort of a woman?"

"She called herself a countess; but there's no telling what she really
was. I only know she got me into a fearful scrape, and if it hadn't
been for Mr. Drayton--"

"Did you do anything wrong, Frank?"

"No; upon my honor as a gentleman! If I had, Mary, I wouldn't be here

Mary looked at him with a sad face. "Of course I believe you, Frank,"
she said. "But I think I would rather not hear any more about it."

"Well, I'll only tell you what Mr. Drayton did. I told him all about
it--how it began, and how it went on, and all; and how I was engaged to
a girl in America--I didn't tell him your name; and I wasn't sure,
then, whether you'd ever marry me, after all; because, you know, you
had been awfully angry with me before I went away, because I wanted to
study in Europe instead of staying at home. But, you see, I've got my
diploma, and that'll give me a better start than I ever should have had
if I'd only studied here. However--what was I saying? Oh! so he said he
would find out about the countess, and talk to her himself. And how he
managed I don't know; and he gave me a tremendous hauling over the
coals for having been such an idiot; but it seems that instead of being
a poor injured, deceived creature, with a broken heart, and all that
sort of thing, she was a regular adventuress--an old hand at it, and
had got lots of money out of other fellows for fear she would make a
row. But Mr. Drayton had an interview with her. I was there, and I
never shall forget it if I live to a hundred. You never saw anybody so
quiet, so courteous, so resolute, and so immitigably stern as he was.
And yet he seemed to be stern only against the wrong she was trying to
do, and to be feeling kindness and compassion for her all the time. She
tried everything she knew, but it wasn't a bit of use, and at last she
broke down and cried, and carried on like a child. Then Mr. Drayton
took her out of the room, and I don't know what happened, but I've
always suspected that he sent her off with money enough in her pocket
to become an honest woman with if she chose to; but he never would
admit it to me. He came back to me after a while, and told me to have
nothing more to do with any woman, good or bad except the woman I meant
to marry, and I promised him I wouldn't, and I kept my promise. But we
have him to thank for our happiness, Mary."

Tears came silently into Mary's eyes; she said nothing, but sat with
her hands clasped around one knee, gazing seaward.

"You don't seem very happy, though," pursued Redmond, after a pause;
"and you acted so oddly when I first found you and Mr. Drayton
together--I almost thought--well, I didn't know what to think. You do
love me, don't you?"

For a few moments Mary Leithe sat quite motionless, save for a slight
tremor of the nerves that pervaded her whole body; and then, all at
once, she melted into sobs. Redmond could not imagine what was the
matter with her; but he put his arms round her, and after a little
hesitation or resistance, the girl hid her face upon his shoulder, and
wept for the secret that she would never tell.

But Mary Leithe's nature was not a stubborn one, and easily adapted
itself to the influences with which she was most closely in contact.
When she and Redmond presented themselves at Aunt Corwin's cottage that
evening her tears were dried, and only a tender dimness of the eyes and
a droop of her sweet mouth betrayed that she had shed any.

"Mr. Drayton wanted to be remembered to you, Mary," observed Aunt
Corwin, shortly before going to bed. She had been floating colored
sea-weeds on paper all the time since supper, and had scarcely spoken a
dozen words.

"Has he gone?" Mary asked.

"Who? Oh, yes; he had a telegram, I believe. His trunks were to follow
him. He said he would write. I liked that man. He was not like Mr.
Haymaker; he was a gentleman. He took an interest in my collections,
and gave me several nice specimens. Your mother was a fool not to have
married him. I wish you could have married him yourself. But it was not
to be expected that he would care for a child like you, even if your
head were not turned by that Frank Redmond. How soon shall you let him
marry you?"

"Whenever he likes," answered Mary Leithe, turning away.

As a matter of fact, they were married the following winter. A week
before the ceremony a letter arrived for Mary from New York, addressed
in a legal hand. It contained an intimation that, in accordance with
the instructions of their client, Mr. Ambrose Drayton, the undersigned
had placed to her account the sum of fifty thousand dollars as a
preliminary bequest, it being the intention of Mr. Drayton to make her
his heir. There was an inclosure from Drayton himself, which Mary,
after a moment's hesitation, placed in her lover's hand, and bade him
break the seal.

It contained only a few lines, wishing happiness to the bride and
bridegroom, and hoping they all might meet in Europe, should the
wedding trip extend so far. "And as for you, my dear niece," continued
the writer, "whenever you think of me remember that little poem of
Emerson's that we read on the rocks the last time I saw you. The longer
I live the more of truth do I find in it, especially in the last verse:

  "'Heartily know,
  When half-gods go,
  The gods arrive!'"

"What does that mean?" demanded Redmond, looking up from the letter.

"We can not know except by experience," answered Mary Leithe.


_New York_, _April 29th_.--Last night I came upon this passage in my
old author: "Friend, take it sadly home to thee--Age and Youthe are
strangers still. Youthe, being ignorant of the wisdome of Age, which is
Experience, but wise with its own wisdome, which is of the unshackeled
Soule, or Intuition, is great in Enterprise, but slack in Achievement.
Holding itself equal to all attempts and conditions, and to be heir,
not of its own spanne of yeares and compasse of Faculties only, but of
all time and all Human Nature--such, I saye, being its illusion (if,
indeede, it be illusion, and not in some sorte a Truth), it still
underrateth the value of Opportunitie, and, in the vain beleefe that
the City of its Expectation is paved with Golde and walled with
Precious Stones, letteth slip betwixt its fingers those diamondes and
treasures which ironical Fate offereth it.... But see nowe what the
case is when this youthe becometh in yeares. For nowe he can nowise
understand what defecte of Judgmente (or effecte of insanitie rather)
did leade him so to despise and, as it were, reject those Giftes and
golden chaunces which come but once to mortal men. Experience (that
saturnine Pedagogue) hath taught him what manner of man he is, and
that, farre from enjoying that Deceptive Seeminge or mirage of Freedome
which would persuade him that he may run hither and thither as the whim
prompteth over the face of the Earthe--yea, take the wings of the
morninge and winnowe his aerie way to the Pleiadies--he must e'en plod
heavilie and with paine along that single and narrowe Path whereto the
limitations of his personal nature and profession confine him--happy if
he arrive with muche diligence and faire credit at the ende thereof,
and falle not ignobly by the way. Neverthelesse--for so great is the
infatuation of man, who, although he acquireth all other knowledge, yet
arriveth not at the knowledge of Himself--if to the Sage of Experience
he proffered once again the gauds and prizes of youthe, which he hath
ever since regretted and longed for--what doeth he in his wisdome?
Verilie, so longe as the matter remaineth _in nubibis_, as the Latins
say, or in the Region of the Imagination, as oure speeche hath it, he
will beleeve, yea, take his oathe, that he still is master of all those
capacities and energies whiche, in his youthe, would have prompted and
enabled him to profit by this desired occurrence. Yet shall it appeare
(if the thinge be brought still further to the teste, and, from an
Imagination or Dreame, become an actual Realitie), that he will shrinke
from and decline that which he did erste so ardently sigh for and
covet. And the reason of this is as follows, to-wit: That Habit or
Custome hath brought him more to love and affect those very ways and
conditions of life, yea, those inconveniences and deficiencies which he
useth to deplore and abhorre, than that Crown of Golde or Jewel of
Happiness whose withholding he hath all his life lamented. Hence we may
learne, that what is past, is dead, and that though thoughts be free,
nature is ever captive, and loveth her chaine."

This is too lugubrious and cynical not to have some truth in it; but I
am unwilling to believe that more than half of it is true. The author
himself was evidently an old man, and therefore a prejudiced judge; and
he did not make allowances for the range and variety of temperament.
Age is not a matter of years, and scarcely of experience. The only
really old persons are the selfish ones. The man whose thoughts,
actions, and affections center upon himself, soon acquires a fixity and
crustiness which (if to be old is to be "strange to youth") is old as
nothing else is. But the man who makes the welfare and happiness of
others his happiness, is as young at threescore as he was at twenty,
and perhaps even younger, for he has had no time to grow old.

_April 30th_.--The Courtneys are in town! This is, I believe, her first
visit to America since he married her. At all events, I have not seen
or heard of her in all these seven years. I wonder ... I was going to
write, I wonder whether she remembers me. Of course she remembers me,
in a sort of way. I am tied up somewhere among her bundle of
recollections, and occasionally, in an idle moment, her eye falls upon
me, and moves her, perhaps, to smile or to sigh. For my own part, in
thinking over our old days, I find I forget her less than I had
supposed. Probably she has been more or less consciously in my mind
throughout. In the same way, one has always latent within him the
knowledge that he must die; but it does not follow that he is
continually musing on the thought of death. As with death, so with this
old love of mine. What a difference, if we had married! She was a very
lovely girl--at least, I thought so then. Very likely I should not
think her so now. My taste and knowledge have developed; a different
order of things interests me. It may not be an altogether pleasant
thing to confess; but, knowing myself as I now do, I have often thanked
my stars that I am a bachelor.

Doubtless she is even more changed than I am. A woman changes more than
a man in seven years, and a married woman especially must change a
great deal from twenty-two to twenty-nine. Think of Ethel Leigh being
in her thirtieth year! and the mother of four or five children,
perhaps. Well, for the matter of that, think of the romantic and
ambitious young Claude Campbell being an old bachelor of forty! I have
married Art instead of Ethel, and she, instead of being Mrs. Campbell,
is Mrs. Courtney.

It was a surprising thing--her marrying him so suddenly. But,
appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, I have never quite made up
my mind that Ethel was really fickle. She did it out of pique, or
pride, or impulse, or whatever it is that sways women in such cases.
She was angry, or indignant--how like fire and ice at once she was when
she was angry!--and she was resolved to show me that she could do
without me. She would not listen to my explanations; and I was always
awkward and stiff about making explanations. Besides, it was not an
easy matter to explain, especially to a girl like her. With a married
woman or a widow it would have been a simple thing enough. But Ethel
Leigh, the minister's daughter--innocent, ignorant, passionate--she
would tolerate nothing short of a public disavowal and discontinuance
of my relations with Mrs. Murray, and that, of course, I could not
consent to, though heaven knows (and so must Ethel, by this time) that
Mrs. Murray was nothing to me save as she was the wife of my friend,
during whose enforced absence I was bound to look after her, to some
extent. It was not my fault that poor Mrs. Murray was a fool. But such
are the trumpery seeds from which tragedies grow. Not that ours was a
tragedy, exactly: Ethel married her English admirer, and I became a
somewhat distinguished artist, that is all. I wonder whether she has
been happy! Likely enough; she was born to be wealthy; Englishmen make
good husbands sometimes, and her London life must have been a brilliant
one.... I have been looking at my old photograph of her--the one she
gave me the morning after we were engaged. Tall, slender, dark, with
level brows, and the bearing of a Diana. She certainly was handsome,
and I shall not run the risk of spoiling this fine memory by calling on
her. Even if she have not deteriorated, she can scarcely have improved.
Nay, even were she the same now as then, I should not find her so,
because of the change in myself. Why should I blink the truth?
Experience, culture, and the sober second thought of middle age have
carried me far beyond the point where I could any longer be in sympathy
with this crude, thin-skinned, impulsive girl. And then--four or five
children! Decidedly, I will give her a wide berth. And Courtney
himself, with his big beard, small brain, and obtrusive laugh! I shall
step across to California for a few months.

_May 1st_.--Called this morning on Ethel Leigh--Mrs. Deighton Courtney,
that is to say. She is not so much changed, but she has certainly
improved. When I say she has not changed much, I refer to her physical
appearance. Her features are scarcely altered; her figure is a little
fuller and more compact; in her bearing there is a certain quiet
composure and self-possession--the air of a woman who has seen the
world, has received admiration, and is familiar with the graceful
little arts of social intercourse. In short, she has acquired a high
external polish; and that is precisely what she most needed. Evidently,
too, there is an increased mental refinement corresponding to the
outward manner. She has mellowed, sweetened--whether deepened or not I
should hesitate to affirm. But I am quite sure that I find her more
charming to talk with, more supple in intercourse, more fascinating, in
a word, than formerly. We chatted discursively and rather volubly for
more than an hour; yet we did not touch on anything very serious or
profound. They are staying at the Brevoort House. Courtney himself,
by-the-by, is still in Boston (they landed there), where business will
detain him a few days. Ethel goes on a house-hunting expedition
to-morrow, and I am going with her; for New York has altered out of her
recollection during these seven years. They are to remain here three
years, perhaps longer. Courtney is to establish and oversee an American
branch of his English business.

They have only one child--a pretty little thing: Susie and I became
great friends.

Mrs. Courtney opened the door of the private sitting-room in which I
was awaiting her, and came in--beautifully! She has learned how to do
that since I knew her. My own long residence in Paris has made me more
critical than I used to be in such matters; but I do not remember
having met any woman in society with manners more nearly perfect than
Mrs. Courtney's. Ethel Leigh used to be, upon occasion, painfully
abrupt and disconcerting; and her movements and attitudes, though there
was abundant native grace in them, were often careless and
unconventional. Of course, I do not forget that niceties of deportment,
without sound qualities of mind and heart to back them, are of trifling
value; but the two kinds of attraction are by no means incompatible
with each other. Mrs. Courtney smiles often. Ethel Leigh used to smile
rarely, although, when the smile did come, it was irresistibly winning;
there was in it exquisite significance and tenderness. It is a
beautiful smile still, but that charm of rarity (if it be a charm) is
lacking. It is a conventional smile more than a spontaneous or a happy
one; indeed, it led me to surmise that she had perhaps not been very
happy since we last met, and had learned to use this smile as a sort of
veil. Not that I suppose for a moment that Courtney has ill-treated
her. I never could see anything in the man beyond a superficial
comeliness, a talent for business, and an affable temper; but ho was
not in any sense a bad fellow. Besides, he was over head and ears in
love with her; and Ethel would be sure to have the upper hand of a
nature like his. No, her unhappiness, if she be unhappy, would be due
to no such cause, she and her husband are no doubt on good terms with
each other. But--suppose she has discovered that he fell short of what
she demanded in a husband; that she overmatched him; that, in order to
make their life smooth, she must descend to him? I imagine it may be
something of that kind. Poor Mrs. Courtney!

She addressed me as "Mr. Campbell," and I dare say she was right. Women
best know how to meet these situations. To have called me "Claude"
would have placed us in a false position, by ignoring the changes that
have taken place. It is wise to respect these barriers; they are
conventional, but, rightly considered, they are more of an assistance
than of an obstacle to freedom of intercourse. I asked her how she
liked England. She smiled and said, "It was my business to like
England; still, I am glad to see America once more."

"You will entertain a great deal, I presume--that sort of thing?"

"We shall hope to make friends with people--and to meet old friends. It
is such a pleasant surprise to find you here. I heard you were settled
in Paris."

"So I was, for several years; the Parisians said nice things about my
pictures. But one may weary even of Paris. I returned here two years
ago, and am now as much of a fixture in New York as if I'd never left

"But not a permanent fixture. Shall we never see you in London?"

"My present probabilities lie rather in the direction of California. I
want to make some studies of the scenery and the atmosphere. Besides, I
am getting too old to think of another European residence."

"No one gets old after thirty--especially no bachelor!" she answered,
with a smile. "But if you were ever to feel old, the society of London
would rejuvenate you."

"It has certainly done you no harm. But you have the happiness to be

She looked at me pleasantly and said, "Yes, I make a good
Englishwoman." That sounded like an evasion, but the expression of her
face was not evasive. In the old days she would probably have flushed
up and said something cutting.

"You must see my little girl," she said, after a while.

The child was called, and presently came in. She resembles her mother,
and has a vivacity scarcely characteristic of English children. I am
not constitutionally a worshiper of children, but I liked Susie. She
put her arms round her mother's arm, and gazed at me with wide-eyed

"This is Mr. Campbell," said mamma.

"My name is Susan Courtney," said the little thing. "We are going to
stay in New York three years. Hot here--this is only an hotel--we are
going to have a house. How do you do? This is my dolly."

I saluted dolly, and thereby inspired its parent with confidence: she
put her hand in mine, and gave me her smooth little cheek to kiss. "You
are not like papa," she then observed.

I smiled conciliatingly, being uncertain whether it were prudent to
follow this lead; but Mrs. Courtney asked, "In what way different,

"Papa has a beard," replied Susie.

The incident rather struck me; it seemed to indicate that Mrs. Courtney
was under no apprehension that the child would say anything
embarrassing about the father. Having learned so much, I ventured

"Do you love papa or mamma best?" I inquired.

"I am with mamma most," she answered, after meditation, "but when papa
comes, I like him."

This was non-committal. She continued, "Papa is coming here day after
to-morrow. To-morrow, mamma and I are going to find a house."

"Your husband leaves all that to you?" I said, turning to Mrs. Courtney.

"Mr. Courtney never knows or cares what sort of a place he lives in. It
took me some little time to get used to that. I wanted everything to be
just in a certain way. They used to laugh at me, and say I was more
English than he."

"Now that you are both here, you must both be American."

"He doesn't enjoy America much. Of course, it is very different from
London. An Englishman can not be expected to care for American ways and
American quickness, and--"

"American people?" I put in, laughingly.

"Don't undress dolly here," she said to Susie. "It isn't time yet to
put her to bed, and she might catch cold."

Was this another evasion? The serene face betrayed nothing, but she had
left unanswered the question that aimed at discovering how she and her
husband stood toward each other. After all, however, no answer could
have told me more than her no answer did--supposing it to have been
intentional. I soon afterward took my leave, after having arranged to
call to-morrow and accompany her and Susie on their house-hunting
expedition. Upon the whole, I don't think I am sorry to have renewed my
acquaintance with her. She is more delightful--as an acquaintance--than
when I knew her formerly. Should I have fallen in love with her had I
met her for the first time as she is now? Yes, and no! In the old days
there was something about her that commanded me--that fascinated my
youthful imagination. Perhaps it was only the freshness, the ignorance,
the timidity of young maidenhood--that mystery of possibilities of a
nature that has not yet met the world and received its impress for good
or evil. It is this which captivates in youth; and this, of course,
Mrs. Courtney has lost. But every quality that might captivate mature
manhood is hers, and, were I likely to think of marriage now, and were
she marriageable, she is the type of woman I would choose. Yet I do not
quite relish the perception that my present feminine ideal (whether it
be lower or higher) is not the former one. But,--frankly, would I marry
her if I could? I hardly know: I have got out of the habit of regarding
marriage as among my possibilities; many avenues of happiness that once
were open to me are now closed against me. Put it, that I have lost a
faculty--that I am now able to enjoy only in imagination a phase of
existence that, formerly, I could have enjoyed in fact. This bit of
self-analysis may be erroneous; but I would not like to run the risk of
proving it so! Am I not well enough off as I am? My health is fair, my
mind active, my reputation secure, my finances prosperous. The things
that I can dream must surely be better than anything that could happen.
I can picture, for example, a state of matrimonial felicity which no
marriage of mine could realize. Besides, I can, whenever I choose, see
Mrs. Courtney herself, talk with her, and enjoy her as a reasonable and
congenial friend, apart from the danger and disappointment that might
result from a closer connection. I think I have chosen the wiser part,
or, rather, the wiser part has been thrust upon me. That I shall never
be wildly happy is, at least, security that I shall never be profoundly
miserable. I shall simply be comfortable. Is this sour grapes? Am I, if
not counting, then discounting my eggs before they are hatched? To such
questions a practical--a materialized--answer would be the only
conclusive one. Were Mrs. Courtney ready to drop into my mouth, I
should either open my mouth, or else I should shut it, and either act
would be conclusive. But, so far from being ready to drop into my
mouth, she is immovably and (to all appearances) contentedly fixed
where she is. I suppose I am insinuating that appearances are
deceptive; that she may be unhappy with her husband, and desire to
leave him. Well, there is no technical evidence in support of such an
hypothesis; but, again, in a matter of this kind, it is not so much the
technical as the indirect evidence that tells--the cadences of the
voice, the breathing, the silences, the atmosphere. There is no denying
that I did somehow acquire a vague impression that Courtney is not so
large a figure in his wife's eyes as he might be. I may have been
biased by my previous conception of his character, or I may have
misinterpreted the impalpable, indescribable signs that I remarked in
her. But, once more, how do I know that her not caring for him would
postulate her caring for me? Why should she care for either of us? Our
old romance is to her as the memory of something read in a book, and it
is powerless to make her heart beat one throb the faster. Were Courtney
to die to-morrow, would his widow expect me to marry her? Not she! She
would settle down here quietly, educate her daughter, and think better
of her departed husband with every year that passed, and less of
repeating the experiment that made her his! I may be prone to romantic
and elaborate speculations, but I am not exactly a fool. I do not
delude myself with the idea that Mrs. Courtney is, at this moment,
following my example by recording her impressions of me at her own
writing-desk, and asking herself whether--if such and such a thing were
to happen--such another would be apt to follow. No; she has put Susie
to bed, and is by this time asleep herself, after having read through
the "Post," or "Bazar," or the last new novel, as her predilection may
be. It is after midnight; since she has not followed my example, I will
follow hers; it is much the more sensible of the two.

_May 2d_.--What a woman she is! and, in a different sense, what a man I
am! How little does a man know or suspect himself until he is brought
to the proof! How serenely and securely I philosophized and laid down
the law yesterday! and to-day, how strange to contrast the event with
my prognostication of it! And yet, again, how little has happened that
might not be told in such a way as to appear nothing! It was the latent
meaning, the spirit, the touch of look and tone. Her husband may have
reached New York by this time; they may be together at this moment; he
will find no perceptible change in her--perceptible to him! He will be
told that I have been her escort during the day, and that I was polite
and serviceable, and that a house has been selected. What more is there
to tell? Nothing--that he could hear or understand! and
yet--everything! He will say, "Yes, I recollect Campbell; nice fellow;
have him to dine with us one of these days." But I shall never sit at
their table; I shall never see her again; I can not! I shall start for
California next week. Meanwhile I will write down the history of one
day, for it is well to have these things set visibly before one--to
grasp the nettle, as it were. Nothing is so formidable as it appears
when we shrink from defining it to ourselves.

I drove to the hotel in my brougham at eleven o'clock, as we had
previously arranged. She was ready and waiting for me, and little Susie
was with her. Ethel was charmingly dressed, and there was a soft look
in her eyes as she turned them on me--a look that seemed to say, "I
remember the past; it is pleasant to see you, so pleasant as to be
sad!" Susie came to me as if I were an old friend, and I lifted the
child from the floor and kissed her twice.

"Why did you give me two kisses?" she demanded, as I put her down.
"Papa always gives me only one kiss."

"Papa has mamma as well as you to kiss; but I have no one; I am an old

"When you have known mamma longer, will you kiss her too?"

"Old bachelors kiss nobody but little girls," I replied, laughing.

"We went down to the brougham, and after we were seated and on our
way," Ethel said, "Already I feel so much at home in New York, it
almost startles me. I fancied I should have forgotten old
associations--should have grown out of sympathy with them; but I seem
only to have learned to appreciate them more. Our memory for some
things is better than we would believe."

"There are two memories in us," I remarked; "the memory of the heart
and the memory of the head. The former never is lost, though the other
may be. But I had not supposed that you cared very deeply for the
American period of your life."

"England is very agreeable," she said, rather hastily. She turned her
head and looked out of the window; but after a pause she added, as if
to herself, "but I am an American!"

"There is, no doubt, a deep-rooted and substantial repose in English
life such as is scarcely to be found elsewhere," I said; "but, for all
that, I have often thought that the best part of domestic happiness
could exist nowhere but here. Here a man may marry the woman he loves,
and their affection for each other will be made stronger by the
hardships they may have to pass through. After all, when we come to the
end of our lives, it is not the business we have done, nor the social
distinction we have enjoyed--it is the love we have given and received
that we are glad of."

"Mamma," inquired Susie, "does Mr. Campbell love you?"

We both of us looked at the child and laughed a little. "Mr. Campbell
is an old friend," said Ethel. After a few moments she blushed. She
held in her hand some house-agents' orders to view houses, and these
she now began to examine. "Is this Madison Avenue place likely to be a
good one?" she asked me.

"It is conveniently situated and comfortable; but I should think it
might be too large for a family of three. Perhaps, though, you don't
like a close fit?"

"I don't like empty rooms, though I prefer such rooms as there are to
be large. But it doesn't make much difference. Mr. Courtney moves about
a good deal, and he is as happy in a hotel as anywhere. These American
hotels are luxurious and splendid, but they are not home-like to me."

"I remember you used to dislike being among a crowd of people you
didn't know."

"Yes, and I haven't yet learned to be sociable in that way. A friend is
more company for me than a score of acquaintances. Dear me! I'm afraid
New York will spoil me--for England!"

"Perhaps Mr. Courtney may be cured of England by New York."

She smiled and said, "Perhaps! He accommodates himself to things more
easily than I do, but I think one needs to be born in America to know
how to love it."

Under the veil of discussing America and things in general, we were
talking of ourselves, awakening reminiscences of the past, and
discovering, with a pleasure we did not venture to acknowledge,
that--allowing for the events and the years that had come between--we
were as much in accord as when we were young lovers. Yes, as much, and
perhaps even more. For surely, if one grows in the right way, the
sphere of knowledge and sympathy must enlarge, and thereby the various
points of contact between two minds and hearts must be multiplied.
Ethel and I, during these seven years, had traveled our round of daily
life on different sides of the earth; but the miles of sea and land
which had physically separated us had been powerless to estrange our
spirits. Nothing is more strange, in this mysterious complexity of
impressions and events that we call human existence, than the fact that
two beings, entirely cut off from all natural means of association and
communion, may yet, unknown to each other, be breathing the same
spiritual air and learning the same moral and intellectual lessons.
Like two seeds of the same species, planted, the one in American soil,
the other in English, Ethel and I had selected, by some instinct of the
soul, the same elements from our different surroundings; so that now,
when we met once more, we found a close and harmonious resemblance
between the leaves and blossoms of our experience. What can be more
touching and delightful than such a discovery? Or what more sad than to
know that it came too late for us to profit by it?

Oh, Ethel, how easy it is to take the little step that separates light
from darkness, happiness from misery! Remembering that we live but
once, and that the worthy enjoyments of life are so limited in number
and so hard to get, it seems unjust and monstrous that one little hour
of jealousy or misunderstanding should wreck the fair prospects of
months and years. Why is mischief so much readier to our hand than good?

We got out at a house near the Park. I assisted Ethel to alight, and,
as her hand rested on mine, the thought crossed my mind--How sweet if
this were our own home that we are about to enter!--and I glanced at
her face to see whether a like thought had visited her. She maintained
a subdued demeanor, with an expression about the mouth and eyes of a
peculiar timid gentleness, and, as it were, a sort of mental leaning
upon me for support and protection. She felt, it may be, a little fear
of herself, at finding herself--in more senses than one--so near to me;
and, woman-like, she depended upon me to protect her against the very
peril of which I was the occasion. No higher or more delicate
compliment can be paid by a woman to a man; and I resolved that I would
do what in me lay to deserve it. But such resolutions are the hardest
in the world to keep, because the circumstance or the impulse of the
moment is continually in wait to betray you. Ethel was more fascinating
and lovely in this mood than in any other I had hitherto seen her in;
and the misgiving, from which I could not free myself, that the man
whom Fate had made her husband did not appreciate or properly cherish
the gift bestowed upon him, made me warm toward her more than ever. I
could scarcely have believed that such blood could flow in the sober
veins of my middle age; but love knows nothing of time or age!

"I do not like this house," Susie declared, when we had been admitted
by the care-taker. "It has no carpets, nor chairs, nor pictures; and
the floor is dirty; and the walls are not pretty!"

"I suppose one can have these houses decorated and furnished at short
notice?" Ethel asked me.

"It would not take long. There are several firms that make it their

"I have always wanted to live in a house where the colors and forms
were to my taste. I don't know whether you remember that you used to
think I had some taste in such matters. Mr. Courtney, of course,
doesn't care much about art, and he didn't encourage me to carry out my
ideas. A business man can not be an artist, you know."

"You yourself would have become an artist if--" I began; but I was
approaching dangerous ground, and I stopped. "This dining-room might be
done in Indian red," I remarked--"the woodwork, that is to say. The
walls would be a warm salmon color, which contrasts well with the cold
blue of the china, which it is the fashion to have about nowadays. As
for the furniture, antique dark oak is as safe as anything, don't you
think so?"

"I should like all that," said she, moving a little nearer me, and
letting her eyes wander about the room with a pleased expression, until
at length they met my own. "If you could only design our decoration for
us, I'm sure it would be perfect; at least, I should be satisfied.
Well, and how should we... how ought the drawing-room to be done?"

"There is a shade of yellow that is very agreeable for drawing-rooms,
and it goes very well with the dull peacock-blue which is in vogue now.
Then you could get one of those bloomy Morris friezes. There is some
very graceful Chippendale to be picked up in various places. And no
such good furniture is made nowadays. But I am advising you too much
from the artist's point of view."

"Oh, I can get other sort of advice when I want it." She looked at me
with a smile; our glances met more often now than at first. "But it
seems to me," she went on, "that the way the house is built docs not
suit the way we want to decorate it. Let us look at a smaller one. I
should think ten rooms would be quite enough. And it would be nice to
have a corner house, would it not?"

"If the question were only of our agreement, there would probably not
be much difficulty," I said, in a tone which I tried to make merely
courteous, but which may have revealed something more than courtesy
beneath it.

In coming down-stairs she gathered her dress in her right hand and put
her left in my arm; and then, in a flash, the picture came before me of
the last time we had gone arm-in-arm together down-stairs. It was at
her father's house, and she was speaking to me of that unlucky Mrs.
Murray; we had our quarrel that evening in the drawing-room, and it was
never made up. From then till now, what a gulf! and yet those years
would have been but a bridge to pass over, save for the one barrier
that was insurmountable between us.

"What has become of that Mrs. Murray whom you used to know?" she asked,
as we reached the foot of the stairs. She relinquished my arm as she
spoke, and faced me.

I felt the blood come to my face. "Mrs. Murray was in my thoughts at
the same moment--and perhaps by the same train of associations." I
answered, "I don't know where she is now; I lost sight of her years
ago--soon after you were married, in fact. Why do you ask?"

"You had not forgotten her, then?"

"I had every reason to forget her, except the one reason for which I
have remembered her--and you know what that is! Have you mistrusted me
all this time?"

"Oh, no--no! I don't think I really mistrusted you at all; and long ago
I admitted to myself that you had acted unselfishly and honorably. But
I was angry at the time; you know, sometimes a girl will be angry, even
when there is no good reason for it. I have long wished for an
opportunity to tell you this, for my own sake, you know, as well as for

"I hardly know whether I am most glad or sorry to hear this," I said,
as we moved toward the door. "If you had only been able to say it, or
to think it, before ... there would have been a great difference!"

"The worst of mistakes is, they are so seldom set right at the time, or
in the way they ought to be. Come, Susie, we are going away now. Susie,
do you most like to be American or English?"

"English," replied Susie, without hesitation.

Her mother turned to me and said in a low tone:

"I love her, whichever she is."

I understood what she meant. Susie was the symbol of that inevitable
element in our lives which seems to evolve itself without reference to
our desires or efforts; but which, nevertheless, when we have
recognized that it is inevitable, we learn (if we are wise) to accept
and even to love. Save for the estrangement between Ethel and myself,
Susie would never have existed; yet there she was, a beautiful child,
who had as good a right to be as either of us; and her mother loved
her, and, as it were, bade me love her also. I took the little maiden
by the hand and said, "You are right, Susie; the Americans are the
children of the English, and can not expect to be so wise and
comfortable as they. But you must remember that the Americans have a
future before them, and we are not enemies any more. Will you be
friends with me, and let me call you my little girl?"

"I shouldn't mind being your little girl, if I could still have the
same mamma," was Susie's reply. "Papa is away a great deal, and you
could be papa, you know, until he came back."

I made some laughing answer; but, in fact, Susie's frank analysis of
the situation poignantly kindled an imagination which stood in no need
of stimulus. Ah, if this were the Golden Age, when love never went
astray, how happy we might be! But it is not the Golden Age--far from
it! Meanwhile, I think I can assert, with a clear conscience, that no
dishonorable purpose possessed me. I loved Ethel too profoundly to wish
to do her wrong. Yet I may have wished--I did wish--that a kindly
Providence might have seen fit to remove the disabilities that
controlled us. If a wish could have removed Courtney painlessly to
another world, I think I should have wished it. There was something
exquisitely touching in Ethel's appearance and manner. She is as pure
as any woman that ever lived; but she is a woman! and I felt that, for
this day, I had a man's power over her. Occasionally I was conscious
that her eyes were resting on my face; when I addressed her, her aspect
softened and brightened; she fell into little moods of preoccupation
from which she would emerge with a sigh; in many ways she betrayed,
without knowing it, the secret that neither of us would mention. I do
not mean to imply that she expected me to mention it. A pure woman does
not realize the dangers of the world; and that very fact is itself her
strongest security against them. But, had I spoken, she would have
responded. It was a temptation which I could hardly have believed I
could have resisted as I did; but such a woman calls out all that is
best and noblest in a man; and, at the time, I was better than I am!

When we were in the brougham again, I said, "If you will allow me, I
will drive you to a house I have seen, which belongs to a man with whom
I am slightly acquainted. He is on the point of leaving it, but his
furniture is still in it, and, as he is himself an artist and a man of
taste, it will be worth your while to look at it. He is rather deaf,
but that is all the better; we can express our opinions without
disturbing him. Perhaps you might arrange to take house and furniture
as they stand."

"Whatever you advise, I shall like to do," Ethel answered.

We presently arrived at the house, which was situated in the upper part
of the town, a little to the west of Fifth Avenue. It was a comely
gabled edifice of red brick, with square bay-windows and a roomy porch.
The occupant, Maler, a German, happened to be at home; and on my
sending in my card, we were admitted at once, and he came to greet us
in the hall in his usual hearty, headlong fashion.

"My good Campbell," he exclaimed, in his blundering English, "very
delighted to see you. Ah, dis will be madame, and de little maid! So
you are married since some time--I have not know it! Your servant,
Madame Campbell. I know--all de artists know--your husband: we wish we
could paint how he can--but it is impossible! Ha, ha, ha! not so! Now,
I am very pleased you shall see dis house. May I beg de honor of
accompany you? First you shall see de studio; dat I call de stomach of
de house, eh? because it is most important of all de places, and make
de rest of de places live. See, I make dat window be put in--you find
no better light in New York. Den you see, here we have de alcove, where
Madame Campbell shall sit and make her sewing, while de husband do his
work on de easel. How you like dat portiere? I design him myself--oh,
yes, I do all here; you keep them if you like; I go to Germany, perhaps
not come back after some years, so I leave dem, not so? Now I show you
my little chamber of the piano. See, I make an arched ceiling--groined
arch, eh?--and I gild him; so I get pretty light and pretty sound, not?
Ah! madame, I have not de happiness to be married, but I make my house
so, dat if I get me a wife, she find all ready; but no wife come, so I
give him over to Herr Campbell and you. Now we mount up-stairs to de
bed-rooms, eh?"

In this way he went over the entire house with us. His loud, jolly
voice, his resounding laugh, his bustling manner, his heedless,
boy-like self-confidence, and his deafness, made it impossible to get
in a word of explanation, and, after a few efforts, I gave up the

"Let him suppose what he likes," I said aside to Ethel, "it can make no
difference; he is going away, and you will never see him again. After
all these years, it can do no great harm for us to play at being Mr.
and Mrs. Campbell for an hour!"

"It is a very beautiful house," she said, tacitly accepting what I had
proposed. "It is such a house as I have always dreamed of living in. I
shall not care to look at any others. Will you tell him that we--that I
will take it just as it stands. You have made this a very pleasant day
for me--a very happy day," she added, in a lower tone. "Every room here
will be associated with you. You will come here often and see me, will
you not? Perhaps, after all, you might use the studio to paint my--or
Susie's portrait in."

"I shall inflict myself upon you very often, I have no doubt," was all
I ventured to reply. I could not tell her, at that moment, that we must
never see each other again. She--after the manner of women--probably
supposes that a man's strength is limitless; that he may do with
himself and make of himself what he chooses; and she supposes that I
could visit her and converse with her day after day, and yet keep my
thoughts and my acts within such bounds as would enable me to take
Courtney honestly by the hand. But I know too well my own weakness, and
I shall leave her while yet I have power to do so. Tomorrow--or soon--I
will write to her one last letter, telling her why I go.

Sudden and strange indeed has been this passionate episode in a life
which, methought, had done with passion. It has lasted hardly so many
hours as I have lived years; and yet, were I to live on into the next
century, it would never cease to influence me in all I think and do. I
can not solve to my satisfaction this problem--why two lives should be
wasted as ours have been. Courtney could have been happy with another
wife, or with no wife at all, perhaps; but, for Ethel and me, there
could be no happiness save in each other. But were she free to-day, the
separation that has already existed--long though it has been--would
only serve to render our future union more blissful and complete. We
have learned, by sad experience, the value of a love like ours, and we
should know how to give it its fullest and widest expression. But oh!
what a blank and chilly road lies before us now!

I drove her back to her hotel; we hardly spoke all the way; my heart
was too full, and hers also, I think; though she did not know, as I
did, that it was our last interview. It must be our last! Heaven help
me to keep that resolution!

Susie was not at all impressed by the pathos of the situation; she
babbled all the time, and thus, at all events, afforded us an excuse
for our silence. At parting, one incident occurred that may as well be
recorded. I had shaken hands with Ethel, speaking a few words of
farewell, and allowing her to infer that we might meet again on the
morrow; then I turned to Susie, and gave her the kiss which I would
have given the world to have had the right to press on her mother's
lips. Ethel saw, and, I think, understood. She stooped quickly down,
and laid her mouth where mine had been. Through the innocent medium of
the child, our hearts met; and then I saw her no more.

_May 3d_.--Of course, it may not be true, probably it is not; mistakes
are so easily made in the first moments of such horror and confusion;
the dead come to life, and the living die. Or, at the worst, he may be
only wounded or disabled. At all events, I decline to believe, save
upon certain evidence, that the poor fellow has actually been killed.
Were it to turn out so, I should feel almost like a murderer; for was
not I writing, in this very journal, and perhaps at the very moment the
accident occurred, that if my wish could send him to another world, I
would not spare him?

_Later_.--I have read all the accounts in the newspapers this morning,
and all agree in putting Courtney's name among the killed. There can be
no doubt about it any longer; he is dead. When the collision occurred,
the car in which he vas riding was thrown across the track, and the
other train crashed through it. Judging by the condition of the body
when discovered, death must have been nearly instantaneous. Poor
Courtney! My conscience is not at ease. Of course, I am not really
responsible; that is only imagination. But I begin to suspect that my
imagination has been playing me more than one trick lately.

And now, with this new state of affairs so suddenly and terribly
brought about, what is to be done? I am as yet scarcely in a condition
to reflect calmly; but a voice within me seems to say that something
else besides my conscience has been awakened by Courtney's death. Can
it be that imagination, dallying with what it took for impossibilities,
could so far mislead a man? Well, I shall start at once for the scene
of the disaster, and relieve the poor fellow's widow of whatever pain I
can. Ethel Courtney a widow! Ah, Ethel! Death sheds a ghastly light
upon the idle vagaries of the human heart.

_May 15th_.--_Denver_, _Colorado_.--Magnificent weather and scenery;
very different from my own mental scenery and mood at this moment. I am
sorely out of spirits; and no wonder, after the reckless and insane
emotion of the first days of this month. One pays for such indulgences
at my age.

I have been re-reading the foregoing pages of this journal. Was I a
fool or a coward, or was I merely intoxicated for eight-and-forty
hours? At all events, Courtney's tragic end sobered me, and put what I
had been doing in a true light. I am glad my insanity was not permitted
to proceed farther than it did; but I have quite enough to reproach
myself with as it is. So far as I hare been able to explain the matter
to myself, my prime error lay in attributing, in a world subject to
constant change, too much permanence to a given state of affairs. The
fact that Ethel was the wife of another man seemed to me so fixed and
unalterable that I allowed my imagination to play with the picture of
what might happen if that unalterable fact were altered. Secure in this
fallacy, I worked myself up to the pitch of believing that I was
actually and passionately in love with a woman whose inaccessibility
was, after all, her most winning attraction. Moreover, by writing down,
in this journal, the events and words of the hours we spent together, I
confirmed myself in my false persuasion, and probably imported into the
record of what we said and did an amount of color and hidden
significance that never, as I am now convinced, belonged to it in
reality. Deluded by the notion that I was playing with a fancy, I was
suddenly aroused to find myself imbrued in facts. The whole episode has
profoundly humiliated me, and degraded me in my own esteem.

But I am not at the bottom of the mystery yet. Was I not in love with
Ethel? Surely I was, if love be anything. Then why did I not ask her to
marry me? Would she have refused me? No. That last look she gave me
from under her black veil, when I told her I was going away.... Ah, no,
she would not have refused me. Then why did I hesitate? Was not such a
marriage precisely what I have always longed for? During all these
seven years have I not been bewailing my bachelorhood, and wishing for
an Ethel to cheer my solitary fireside with her gracious presence, to
be interested in my work and hopes, to interest me in her wifely and
maternal ways and aspirations? And when at last all these things were
offered me, why did I shrink back and reject them?

Honestly, I can not explain it. Perhaps, if I had never loved her
before, I might have loved her this time enough to unite my fate with
hers. Or, perhaps--for I may as well speak plainly, since I am speaking
to myself--perhaps, by force of habit, I had grown to love, better than
love itself, those self-same forlorn conditions and dreary solitudes
which I was continually lamenting and praying to be delivered from.
What a dismal solution of the problem this would be were it the true
one! It amounts to saying that I prefer an empty room, a silent hearth,
an old pair of slippers, and a dressing-gown to the love and
companionship of a refined and beautiful woman!--that I love even my
own discomforts more than the comfort she would give me! It sounds
absurd, scandalous, impossible; and yet, if it be not the literal
truth, I know not what the truth is. It is amazing that an educated and
intelligent man can live to be forty years old and still have come to
no better an understanding of himself than I had. Verily, as my old
author said, thought is free, but nature is captive, and loveth her
chain. Yes, my old author was right.


Mathew Morriss, my father, was a cotton merchant in Liverpool
twenty-five years ago--a steady, laborious, clear-headed man, very
affectionate and genial in his private intercourse. He was wealthy, and
we lived in a sumptuous house in the upper part of the city. This was
when I was about ten years old. My father was twice married; I was the
child of the first wife, who died when I was very young; my stepmother
came five years later. She was the elder of two sisters, both beautiful
women. The sister often came to visit us. I remember I liked her better
than I liked my stepmother; in fact, I regarded her with that sort of
romantic attachment that often is developed in lads of my age. She had
golden brown hair and a remarkably sweet voice, and she sang and played
in a manner that transported me with delight; for I was already devoted
to music. She was of a gentle yet impulsive temperament, easily moved
to smiles and tears; she seemed to me the perfection of womankind, and
I made no secret of my determination to marry her when I grew up. She
used to caress me, and look at me in a dreamy way, and tell me I was
the nicest and handsomest boy in the world. "And as soon as you are a
year older than I am, John," she would say, "you shall marry me, if you

Another frequent visitor at our house at this time was not nearly so
much a favorite of mine. This was a German, Adolf Körner by name, who
had been a clerk in my father's concern for a number of years, and had
just been admitted junior partner. My father placed every confidence in
him, and often declared that he had the best idea of business he had
ever met with. This may very likely have been the fact; but to me he
appeared simply a tall, grave, taciturn man, of cold manners, speaking
with a slight German accent, which I disliked. I suppose he was about
thirty-seven years of age, but I always thought of him as older than my
father, who was fifty. Another and more valid reason for my disliking
Körner was that he was in the habit of paying a great deal of attention
to my ladylove, Miss Juliet Tretherne. I used to upbraid Juliet about
encouraging his advances, and I expressed my opinion of him in the
plainest language, at which she would smile in a preoccupied wav, and
would sometimes draw me to her and kiss me on the forehead. Once she
said, "Mr. Körner is a very noble gentleman; you must not dislike him."
This had the effect of making me hate him all the more.

One day I noticed an unusual commotion in the house, and Juliet came
down-stairs attired in a lovely white dress, with a long veil, and
fragrant flowers in her hair. She got into a carriage with my father
and stepmother, and drove away. I did not understand what it meant, and
no one told me. After they were gone I went into the drawing-room, and,
greatly to my surprise, saw there a long table covered with a white
cloth and laid out with a profusion of good things to eat and drink in
sparkling dishes and decanters. In the middle of the table was a great
cake covered with white frosting; the butler was arranging some flowers
round it.

"What is that cake for, Curtis?" I asked.

"For the bride, to be sure," said Curtis, without looking up.

"The bride! who is she?" I demanded in astonishment.

"Your aunt Juliet, to be sure!" said Curtis, composedly, stepping back
and contemplating his floral arrangement with his head on one side.

I asked no more, but betook myself with all speed to my room, locked
the door, flung myself on the bed, and cried to heartbreaking with
grief, indignation, and mortification. After a very long time some one
tried the door, and a voice--the voice of Juliet--called to me. I made
no answer. She began to plead with me; I resisted as long as I could,
but finally my affection got the better of my resentment, and I arose
and opened the door, hiding my tear-stained face behind my arm. Juliet
caught me in her arms and kissed me; tears were running down her own
cheeks. How lovely she looked! My heart melted, and I was just on the
point of forgiving her when the voice of Körner became audible from
below, calling out "Mrs. Körner!" I tore myself away from her, and
cried passionately, "You don't love me! you love him! go to him!" She
looked at me for a moment with a pained expression; then she put her
hand in the pocket of her dress and drew out something done up in white
paper. "See what I have brought you, you unkind boy," said she. "What
is it?" I demanded. "A piece of my wedding-cake," she replied. "Give it
me!" said I. She put it in my hand; I ran forward to the head of the
stairs, which Körner was just ascending, dashed the cake in his face,
and then rushed back to my own room, whence neither threats nor coaxing
availed to draw me forth for the rest of the day.

I never saw Juliet again. She and her husband departed on their
wedding-trip that afternoon; it was to take them as far as Germany, for
Körner said that he wished to visit his father and mother, who were
still alive, before settling down permanently in Liverpool. Whether
they really did so was never discovered. But, about a fortnight later,
a dreadful fact came to light. Körner--the grave and reticent Körner,
whom everybody trusted and thought so highly of--was a thief, and he
had gone off with more than half my father's property in his pocket.
The blow almost destroyed my father, and my stepmother, too, for that
matter, for at first it seemed as though Juliet must have been privy to
the crime. This, however, turned out not to have been the case. Her
fate must have been all the more terrible on that account; but no news
of either of them ever came back to us, and my father would never take
any measures to bring Körner to justice. It was several months before
he recovered from the shock sufficiently to take up business again; and
then the American Civil War came and completed his ruin. He died, a
poor and broken-down man, a year later. My stepmother, who was really
an admirable woman, realized whatever property remained to us, took a
small house, and sent me to an excellent school, where I was educated
for Cambridge. Meanwhile I had been devoting all possible time to
music; for I had determined to become a composer, and I was looking
forward, after taking my degree, to completing my musical education
abroad; but my mother's health was precarious, and, when the time came,
she found herself unequal to making the journey, and the change of
habits and surroundings that it implied. We lived very quietly in
Liverpool for three or four years; then she died, and, after I had
settled our affairs, I found myself in possession of a small income and
alone in the world. Without loss of time I set out for the Continent.

I went to a German city, where the best musical training was to be had,
and made my arrangements to pass several years there. At the banker's,
when I went to provide for the regular receipt of my remittances, I met
a young American, by name Paton Jeffries. He was from New England, and,
I think, a native of the State of Connecticut; his father, he told me,
was a distinguished inventor, who had made and lost a considerable
fortune in devising a means of promoting sleep by electricity. Paton
was studying to be an architect, which, he said, was the coming
profession in his country; and it was evident, on a short acquaintance,
that he was a fellow of unusual talents--one of those men of whom you
say that, come what may, they are always sure to fall on their feet.
For my part, I have certainly never met with so active and versatile a
spirit. He was a year or so older than I, rather tall than short,
lightly but strongly built, with a keen, smiling, subtle face, a
finely-developed forehead, light wavy hair, and gray eyes, very
penetrating and bright. There was a pleasing kind of eagerness and
volubility in his manner of talking, and a slight imperfection, not
amounting to a lisp, in his utterance, which imparted a naive charm to
his speech. He used expressive and rapid gestures with his hands and
arms, and there was a magnetism, a fascination, about the whole man
that strongly impressed me. I was at that period much more susceptible
of impressions, and prone to yield to them, than I am now. Paton's
rattling vivacity, his knowledge of the world, his entertaining talk
and stories, his curiosity, enterprise, and audacity, took me by storm;
he was my opposite in temperament and character, and it seemed to me
that he had most of the advantages on his side. Nevertheless, he
professed, and I still believe he felt, a great liking for me, and we
speedily came to an agreement to seek a lodging together. On the second
day of our search, we found just what we wanted.

It was an old house, on the outskirts of the town, standing by itself,
with a small garden behind it. It had formerly been occupied by an
Austrian baron, and it was probably not less than two hundred years
old. The baron's family had died out, or been dispersed, and now the
venerable edifice was let, in the German fashion, in separate floors or
_étages_, communicating with a central staircase. Some alterations
rendered necessary by this modification had been made, but
substantially the house was unchanged. Our apartment comprised four or
five rooms on the left of the landing and at the top of the house,
which consisted of three stories. The chief room was the parlor, which
looked down through a square bow-window on the street. This room was of
irregular shape, one end being narrower than the other, and nearly
fitting the space at this end was a kind of projecting shelf or
mantelpiece (only, of course, there was no fireplace under it, open
fireplaces being unknown in Germany), upon which rested an old cracked
looking-glass, made in two compartments, the frame of which, black with
age and fly-spots, was fastened against the wall. The shelf was
supported by two pilasters; but the object of the whole structure was a
mystery; so far as appeared, it served no purpose but to support the
looking-glass, which might just as well have been suspended from a nail
in the wall. Paton, I remember, betrayed a great deal of curiosity
about it; and since the consideration of the problem was more in his
line of business than in mine, I left it to him. At the opposite end of
the room stood a tall earthenware stove. The walls were wainscoted five
feet up from the dark polished floor, and were hung with several smoky
old paintings, of no great artistic value. The chairs and tables were
plain, but very heavy and solid, and of a dark hue like the room. The
window was nearly as wide as it was high, and opened laterally from the
center on hinges. The other rooms were of the same general appearance,
but smaller. We both liked the place, and soon made ourselves very
comfortable in it. I hired a piano, and had it conveyed upstairs to the
parlor; while Paton disposed his architectural paraphernalia on and in
the massive writing-table near the window. Our cooking and other
household duties were done for us by the wife of the _portier_, the
official corresponding to the French _concierge_, who, in all German
houses, attends at the common door, and who, in this case, lived in a
couple of musty little closets opening into the lower hall, and eked
out his official salary by cobbling shoes. He was an odd, grotesque
humorist, of most ungainly exterior, black haired and bearded, with a
squint, a squab nose, and a short but very powerful figure. Dirty he
was beyond belief, and he was abominably fragrant of vile tobacco. For
my part, I could not endure this fellow; but Paton, who had much more
of what he called human nature in him than I had, established friendly
relations with him at once, and reported that he found him very
amusing. It was characteristic of Paton that, though he knew much less
about the German language than I did, he could understand and make
himself understood in it much better; and, when we were in company, it
was always he who did the talking.

It would never have occurred to me to wonder, much less to inquire, who
might be the occupants of the other _étages_; but Paton was more
enterprising, and before we had been settled three days in our new
quarters, he had gathered from his friend the portier, and from other
sources, all the obtainable information on the subject. The information
was of no particular interest, however, except as regarded the persons
who dwelt on the floor immediately below us. They were two--an old man
and a young woman, supposed to be his daughter. They had been living
here several years--from before the time, indeed, that the portier had
occupied his present position. In all these years the old man was known
to have been out of his room only twice. He was certainly an eccentric
person, and was said to be a miser and extremely wealthy. The portier
further averred that his property--except such small portion of it as
was invested and on the income of which he lived--was realized in the
form of diamonds and other precious stones, which, for greater
security, he always carried, waking or sleeping, in a small leathern
bag, fastened round his neck by a fine steel chain. His daughter was
scarcely less a mystery than he, for, though she went out as often as
twice or thrice a week, she was always closely veiled, and her figure
was so disguised by the long cloak she wore that it was impossible to
say whether she were graceful or deformed, beautiful or ugly. The
balance of belief, however, was against her being attractive in any
respect. The name by which the old miser was known was Kragendorf; but,
as the portier sagaciously remarked, there was no knowing, in such
cases, whether the name a man bore was his own or somebody's else.

This Kragendorf mystery was another source of apparently inexhaustible
interest to Paton, who was fertile in suggestions as to how it might be
explained or penetrated. I believe he and the portier talked it over at
great length, but, so far as I am aware, without arriving at any
solution. I took little heed of the matter, being now fully absorbed in
my studies; and it is to be hoped that Herr Kragendorf was not of a
nervous temperament, otherwise he must have inveighed profanely against
the constant piano-practice that went on over his head. I also had a
violin, on which I flattered myself I could perform with a good deal of
expression, and by and by, in the long, still evenings--it was
November, but the temperature was still mild--I got into the habit of
strolling along the less frequented streets, with my violin under my
shoulder, drawing from it whatever music my heart desired. Occasionally
I would pause at some convenient spot, lean against a wall, and give
myself up to improvisation. At such times a little cluster of auditors
would gradually collect in front of me, listening for the most part
silently, or occasionally giving vent to low grunts and interjections
of approval. One evening, I remember, a young woman joined the group,
though keeping somewhat in the background; she listened intently, and
after a time gradually turned her face toward me, unconsciously as it
were; and the light of a street-lamp at a little distance revealed a
countenance youthful, pale, sad, and exquisitely beautiful. It
impressed me as with a vague reminiscence of something I had seen or
imagined--some pictured face, perhaps, caught in a glance and never to
be identified. Her eyes finally met mine; I stopped playing. She
started, gave me an alarmed look, and, gliding swiftly away,
disappeared. I could not forget this incident; it haunted me strangely
and persistently. Many a time thereafter I revisited the same spot, and
drew together other audiences, but the delicate girl with the dark-blue
eyes and the tender, sensitive mouth, was never again among them.

It was at this epoch, I think, that the inexhaustible Paton made a
discovery. From my point of view it was not a discovery of any moment;
but, as usual, he took interest in it enough for both of us. It
appeared that, in attempting to doctor the crack in the old
looking-glass, a large piece of the plate had got loose, and come away
in his hands; and in the space behind he had detected a paper,
carefully folded and tied up with a piece of faded ribbon. Paton was
never in the habit of hampering himself with fine-drawn scruples, and
he had no hesitation in opening the folded paper and spreading it out
on the table. Judging from the glance I gave it, it seemed to be a
confused and abstruse mixture of irregular geometrical figures and
cramped German chirography. But Paton set to work upon it with as much
concentration as if it had been a recipe for the Philosopher's Stone;
he reproduced the lines and angles on fresh paper, and labored over the
writing with a magnifying-glass and a dictionary. At times he would
mutter indistinctly to himself, lift his eyebrows, nod or shake his
head, bite his lips, and rub his forehead, and anon fall to work again
with fresh vigor. At last he leaned back in his chair, thumped his hand
on the table, and laughed.

"Got it!" he exclaimed. "Say, John, old boy, I've got it! and it's the
most curious old thing ever you saw in your life!"

"Something in analytical geometry, isn't it?" said I, turning round on
my piano-stool.

"Analytical pudding's end! It's a plan of a house, my boy, and, what's
more, of this very house we're in! That's a find, and no mistake! These
are the descriptions and explanations--these bits of writing. It's a
perfect labyrinth of Crete! Udolpho was nothing to it!"

"Well, I suppose it isn't of much value except as a curiosity?"

"Don't be too sure of that, John, my boy! Who knows but there's a
treasure concealed somewhere in this house? or a skeleton in a secret
chamber! This old paper may make our fortune yet!"

"The treasure wouldn't belong to us if we found it; and, besides, we
can't make explorations beyond our own premises, and we know what's in
them already."

"Do we? Did we know what was behind the looking-glass? Did you never
hear of sliding panels, and private passages, and concealed staircases?
Where's your imagination, man? But you don't need imagination--here it
is in black and white!"

As he spoke, he pointed to a part of the plan; but, as I was stooping
to examine it, he seemed to change his mind.

"No matter," he exclaimed, suddenly folding up the paper and rising
from his chair. "You're not an architect, and you can't be expected to
go in for these things. No; there's no practical use in it, of course.
But secret passages were always a hobby of mine. Well, what are you
going to do this evening? Come over to the café and have a game of

"No; I shall go to bed early to-night."

"You sleep too much," said Paton. "Everybody does, if my father,
instead of inventing a way of promoting sleep, had invented a way of
doing without it, he'd have been the richest man in America to-day.
However, do as you like. I sha'n't be back till late."

He put on his hat and sallied forth with a cigar in his mouth. Paton
was of rather a convivial turn; he liked to have a good time, as he
called it; and, indeed, he seemed to think that the chief end of man
was to get money enough to have a good time continually, a sort of good
eternity. His head was strong, and he could stand a great deal of
liquor; and I have seen him sip and savor a glass of raw brandy or
whisky as another man would a glass of Madeira. In this, and the other
phases of his life about town, I had no participation, being
constitutionally as well as by training averse therefrom; and he, on
the other hand, would never have listened to my sage advice to modify
his loose habits. Our companionship was apart from these things; and,
as I have said, I found in him a good deal that I could sympathize
with, without approaching the moralities.

That night, after I had been for some time asleep, I awoke and found
myself listening to a scratching and shoving noise that seemed quite
unaccountable. By-and-by it made me uneasy. I got up and went toward
the parlor, from which the noise proceeded. On reaching the doorway, I
saw Paton on his knees before one of the pilasters in the narrow end of
the room; a candle was on the floor beside him, and he was busily at
work at something, though what it was I could not make out. The creak
of the threshold under my foot caused him to look round. He started
violently, and sprang to his feet.

"Oh! it's you, is it?" he said, after a moment. "Great Scott! how you
scared me! I was--I dropped a bit of money hereabouts, and I was
scraping about to find it. No matter--it wasn't much! Sorry I disturbed
you, old boy." And, laughing, he picked up his candle and went into his
own room.

From this time there was a change vaguely perceptible in our mutual
relations; we chatted together less than before, and did not see so
much of each other. Paton was apt to be out when I was at home, and
generally sat up after I was abed. He seemed to be busy about
something--something connected with his profession, I judged; but,
contrary to his former custom, he made no attempt to interest me in it.
To tell the truth, I had begun to realize that our different tastes and
pursuits must lead us further and further apart, and that our
separation could be only a question of time. Paton was a materialist,
and inclined to challenge all the laws and convictions that mankind has
instituted and adopted; there was no limit to his radicalism. For
example, on coming in one day, I found him with a curious antique
poniard in his hands, which he had probably bought in some old
curiosity shop. At first I fancied he meant to conceal it; but, if so,
he changed his mind.

"What do you think of that?" he said, holding it out to me. "There's a
solution of continuity for you! Mind you don't prick yourself! It's
poisoned up to the hilt!"

"What do you want of such a thing?" I asked.

"Well, killing began with Cain, and isn't likely to go out of fashion
in our day. I might find it convenient to give one of my friends--you,
for instance--a reminder of his mortality some time. You'll say murder
is immoral. Bless you, man, we never could do without it! No man dies
before his time, and some one dies every day that some one else may

This was said in a jocose way, and, of course, Paton did not mean it.
But it affected me unpleasantly nevertheless.

As I was washing my hands in my room, I happened to look out of my
window, which commanded a view of the garden at the back of the house.
It was an hour after sunset, and the garden was nearly dark; but I
caught a movement of something below, and, looking more closely, I
recognized the ugly figure of the portier. He seemed to be tying
something to the end of a long slender pole, like a gigantic
fishing-rod; and presently he advanced beneath my window, and raised
the pole as high as it would go against the wall of the house. The
point he touched was the sill of the window below mine--probably that
of the bedroom of Herr Kragendorf. At this juncture the portier seemed
to be startled at something--possibly he saw me at my window; at all
events, he lowered his pole and disappeared in the house.

The next day Paton made an announcement that took me by surprise. He
said he had made up his mind to quit Germany, and that very shortly. He
mentioned having received letters from home, and declared he had got,
or should soon have got, all he wanted out of this country. "I'm going
to stop paying money for instruction," he said, "and begin to earn it
by work. I shall stay another week, but then I'm off. Too slow here for
me! I want to be in the midst of things, using my time."

I did not attempt to dissuade him; in fact, my first feeling was rather
one of relief; and this Paton, with his quick preceptions, was probably
aware of.

"Own up, old boy!" he said, laughing; "you'll be able to endure my
absence. And yet you needn't think of me as worse than anybody else. If
everybody were musicians and moralists, it would be nice, no doubt; but
one might get tired of it in time, and then what would you do? You must
give the scamps and adventurers their innings, after all! They may not
do much good, but they give the other fellows occupation. I was born
without my leave being asked, and I may act as suits me without asking
anybody's leave."

This was said on a certain bright morning after our first fall of snow;
the tiled roofs of the houses were whitened with it, it cushioned the
window-sills, and spread a sparkling blankness over the garden. In the
streets it was already melting, and people were slipping and splashing
on the wet and glistening pavements. After gazing out at this scene for
a while, in a mood of unwonted thoughtfulness, Paton yawned, stretched
himself, and declared his intention of taking a stroll before dinner.
Accordingly he lit a cigar and went forth. I watched him go down the
street and turn the corner.

An hour afterward, just when dinner was on the table, I heard an
unusual noise and shuffling on the stairs, and a heavy knock on the
door. I opened it, and saw four men bearing on a pallet the form of my
friend Paton. A police officer accompanied them. They brought Paton in,
and laid him on his bed. The officer told me briefly what had happened,
gave me certain directions, and, saying that a surgeon would arrive
immediately, he departed with the four men tramping behind him.

Paton had slipped in going across the street, and a tramway car had run
over him. He was not dead, though almost speechless; but his injuries
were such that it was impossible that he should recover. He kept his
eyes upon me; they were as bright as ever, though his face was deadly
pale. He seemed to be trying to read my thoughts--to find out my
feeling about him, and my opinion of his condition. I was terribly
shocked and grieved, and my face no doubt showed it. By-and-by I saw
his lips move, and bent down to listen.

"Confounded nuisance!" he whispered faintly in my car. "It's all right,
though; I'm not going to die this time. I've got something to do, and
I'm going to do it--devil take me if I don't!"

He was unable to say more, and soon after the surgeon came in. He made
an examination, and it was evident that he had no hope. His shrug of
the shoulders was not lost upon Paton, who frowned, and made a defiant
movement of the lip. But presently he said to me, still in the same
whisper, "John, if that old fool should be right--he won't be, but in
case of accidents--you must take charge of my things--the papers, and
all. I'll make you heir of my expectations! Write out a declaration to
that effect: I can sign my name; and he'll be witness."

I did as he directed, and having explained to the surgeon the nature of
the document, I put the pen in Paton's hand; but was obliged to guide
his hand with my own in order to make an intelligible signature. The
surgeon signed below, and Paton seemed satisfied. He closed his eyes;
his sufferings appeared to be very slight. But, even while I was
looking at him, a change came over his face--a deadly change. His eyes
opened; they were no longer bright, but sunken and dull. He gave me a
dusky look--whether of rage, of fear, or of entreaty, I could not tell.
His lips parted, and a voice made itself audible; not like his own
voice, but husky and discordant. "I'm going," it said. "But look out
for me.... Do it yourself!"

"Der Herr ist todt" (the man is dead), said the surgeon the next minute.

It was true. Paton had gone out of this life at an hour's warning. What
purpose or desire his last words indicated, there was nothing to show.
He was dead; and yet I could hardly believe that it was so. He had been
so much alive; so full of schemes and enterprises. Nothing now was left
but that crushed and haggard figure, stiffening on the bed; nothing, at
least, that mortal senses could take cognizance of. It was a strange

Paton's funeral took place a few days afterward. I returned from the
graveyard weary in body and mind. At the door of the house stood the
portier, who nodded to me, and said,

"A very sad thing to happen, worthy sir; but so it is in the world. Of
all the occupants of this house, one would have said the one least
likely to be dead to-day was Herr Jeffries. Heh! if I had been the good
Providence, I would have made away with the old gentleman of the
_étage_ below, who is of no use to anybody."

This, for lack of a better, was Paton's funeral oration. I climbed the
three flights of stairs and let myself into our apartment--mine
exclusively now. The place was terribly lonely; much more so than if
Paton had been alive anywhere in the world. But he was dead; and, if
his own philosophy were true, he was annihilated. But it was not true!
How distinct and minute was my recollection of him--his look, his
gestures, the tones of his voice. I could almost see him before me; my
memory of him dead seemed clearer than when he was alive. In that
invisible world of the mind was he not living still, and perhaps not
far away.

I sat down at the table where he had been wont to work, and unlocked
the drawers in which he kept his papers. These, or some of them, I took
out and spread before me. But I found it impossible, as yet, to
concentrate my attention upon them; I pushed back my chair, and,
rising, went to the piano. Here I remained for perhaps a couple of
hours, striking the vague chords that echo wandering thoughts. I was
trying to banish this haunting image of Paton from my mind, and at
length I partly succeeded.

All at once, however, the impression of him (as I may call it) came
back with a force and vividness that startled me. I stopped playing,
and sat for a minute perfectly still. I felt that Paton was in the
room; that if I looked round I should see him. I however restrained
myself from looking round with all the strength of my will--wherefore I
know not. What I felt was not fear, but the conviction that I was on
the brink of a fearful and unprecedented experience--an experience that
would not leave me as it found me. This strange struggle with myself
taxed all my powers; the sweat started out on my forehead. At last the
moment came when I could struggle no longer. I laid my hand on the
keyboard, and pushed myself round on the stool. There was a momentary
dazzle before my eyes, and after that I saw plainly. My hand, striking
the keys, had produced a jarring discord; and while this was yet
tingling in my ears, Paton, who was sitting in his old place at the
table, with his back toward me, faced about in his chair, and his eyes
met mine. I thought he smiled.

My excitement was past, and was succeeded by a dead calm. I examined
him critically. His appearance was much the same as when in life; nay,
he was even more like himself than before. The subtle or crafty
expression which had always been discernible in his features was now
intensified, and there was something wild and covertly fierce in the
shining of his gray eyes, something that his smile was unable to
disguise. What was human and genial in my former friend had passed
away, and what remained was evil--the kind of evil that I now perceived
to have been at the base of his nature. It was a revelation of
character terrible in its naked completeness. I knew at a glance that
Paton must always have been a far more wicked man that I had ever
imagined; and in his present state all the remains of goodness had been
stripped away, and nothing but wickedness was left.

I felt impelled, by an impulse for which I could not account, to
approach the table and examine the papers once more; and now it entered
into my mind to perceive a certain method and meaning in them that had
been hidden from me before. It was as though I were looking at them
through Paton's intelligence, and with his memory. He had in some way
ceased to be visible to me; but I became aware that he wished me to sit
down in his chair, and I did so. Under his guidance, and in obedience
to a will that seemed to be my own, and yet was in direct opposition to
my real will, I began a systematic study of the papers. Paton,
meanwhile, remained close to me, though I could no longer see him; but
I felt the gaze of his fierce, shining eyes, and his crafty, evil
smile. I soon obtained a tolerable insight into what the papers meant,
and what was the scheme in which Paton had been so much absorbed at the
time of his death, and which he had been so loath to abandon.

It was a wicked and cruel scheme, worked out to the smallest
particular. But, though I understood its hideousness intellectually, it
aroused in mo no corresponding emotion; my sensitiveness to right arid
wrong seemed stupefied or inoperative. I could say, "This is wicked,"
but I could not awaken in myself a horror of committing the wickedness;
and, moreover, I knew that, if the influence Paton was able to exercise
over me continued, I must in due time commit it.

Presently I became aware, or, to speak more accurately, I seemed to
remember, that there was something in Paton's room which it was
incumbent on me to procure. I went thither, lifted up a corner of the
rag between the bed and the stove, and beheld, in an aperture in the
floor, of the existence of which I had till now known nothing, the
antique poisoned dagger that Paton had showed me a few weeks before,
and which I had not seen since then. I brought it back to the
sitting-room, put it in a drawer of the table, and locked the drawer,
at the same time making a mental note to the effect that I should
reopen the drawer at a certain hour of the night and take the dagger
out. All this while Paton was close at hand, though not visible to
sight; but I had a sort of inner perception of his presence and
movements. All at once, at about the hour of sunset, I saw him again;
he moved toward the looking-glass at the narrow end of the room, laid
his hand upon one of the pilasters, glanced at me over his shoulder,
and immediately seemed to stoop down. As I sat, the edge of the table
hid him from sight. I stood up and looked across. He was not there; and
a kind of reaction of my nerves informed me that he was gone
absolutely, for the time.

This reaction produced a lassitude impossible to describe; it was
overpowering, and I had no choice but to yield to it. I dropped back in
my chair, leaned forward on the table, and instantly fell into a heavy
sleep, or stupor.

I awoke abruptly, with a sensation as if a hand had been laid on my
shoulder. It was night, and I knew that the hour I had noted in my mind
was at hand. I opened the drawer and took out the dagger, which I put
in my pocket. The house was quite silent. A shiver passed through me. I
was aware that Paton was standing at the narrow end of the room,
waiting for me: Yes--there he was, or the impression of him in my
brain--what did it matter? I arose mechanically and walked toward him.
He had no need to direct me: I knew all there was to do, and how to do
it. I knelt on the floor, laid my shoulder against the pilaster, and
pushed it laterally. It moved aside on a pivot, disclosing an iron ring
let into the floor. I laid hold of this ring, and lifted. A section of
the floor came up, and I saw a sort of ladder descending
perpendicularly into darkness. Down the ladder Paton went, and I
followed him. Arrived at the bottom, I turned to the left, led by an
instinct or a fascination; passed along a passage barely wide enough to
admit me, until I came against a smooth, hard surface. I passed my hand
over it until I touched a knob or catch, which I pressed, and the
surface gave way before me like a door. I stumbled forward, and found
myself in a room of what was doubtless Herr Kragendorf's apartment. A
keen, cold air smote against my face; and with it came a sudden influx
of strength and self-possession. I felt that, for a moment at least,
the fatal influence of Paton upon me was broken. But what was that
sound of a struggle--those cries and gasps, that seemed to come from an
adjoining room?

I sprang forward, opened a door, and beheld a tall old man, with white
hair and beard, in the grasp of a ruffian whom I at once recognized as
the portier. A broken window showed how he had effected his entrance.
One hand held the old man by the throat; in the other was a knife,
which he was prevented from using by a young woman, who had flung
herself upon him in such a way as to trammel his movements. In another
moment, however, he would have shaken her off.

But that moment was not allowed him. I seized him with a strength that
amazed myself--a strength which never came upon me before or since. The
conflict lasted but a breath or two; I hurled him to the floor, and, as
he fell, his right arm was doubled under him, and the knife which he
held entered his back beneath the left shoulder-blade. When I rose up
from the whirl and fury of the struggle, I saw the old man reclining
exhausted on the bosom of the girl. I knew him, despite his white hair
and beard. And the face that bent so lovingly above him was the face
that had looked into mine that night on the street--the face of the
blue-eyed maiden--of a younger and a lovelier Juliet! As I gazed, there
came a thundering summons at the door, and the police entered.

       *       *       *       *       *

My poor uncle Körner had not prospered after his great stroke of
roguery. His wife had died of a broken heart, after giving birth to a
daughter, and his stolen riches had vanished almost as rapidly as they
were acquired. He had at last settled down with his daughter in this
old house. The treasure in the leathern bag, though a treasure to him,
was not of a nature to excite general cupidity. It consisted, not of
precious stones, but of relics of his dead wife--her rings, a lock of
her hair, her letters, a miniature of her in a gold case. These poor
keepsakes, and his daughter, had been the only solace of his lonely and
remorseful life.

It was uncertain whether Paton and the portier had planned the robbery
together, or separately, and in ignorance of each other's purpose. Nor
can I tell whether my disembodied visitor came to me with good or with
evil intent. Wicked spirits, even when they seem to have power to carry
out their purposes, are perhaps only permitted to do so, so far as is
consistent with an overruling good of which they know nothing.
Certainly, if I had not descended the secret passage, Körner would have
been killed, and perhaps my Juliet likewise--the mother of my children.
But should I have been led on to stab him myself, with the poisoned
dagger, had the portier not been there? Juliet smiles and says No, and
I am glad to agree with her. But I have never since then found that
anniversary upon me, without a shudder of awe, and a dark thought of
Paton Jeffries.


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