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Title: A Girl Among the Anarchists
Author: Meredith, Isabel
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A GIRL AMONG THE ANARCHISTS

By Isabel Meredith



PREFACE


In spite of the fact that there are certain highly respectable
individualists of a rabid type who prefer to call themselves Anarchists,
it must be owned that it requires some courage to write about Anarchism
even with the sympathy befitting a clinical physician or the scientific
detachment of a pathologist. And yet it is certain that Anarchists are
curiously interesting, and not the less in need of observation from the
fact that apparently none of the social quacks who prescribe seriously
in leading articles has the faintest insight into them as a phenomenon,
a portent, or a disease. This book, if it is read with understanding,
will, I feel assured, do not a little to show how it comes about that
Anarchism is as truly endemic in Western Civilisations as cholera is in
India. Isabel Meredith, whom I had the pleasure of knowing when she
was a more humble member of the staff of the _Tocsin_ than the editor,
occupies, to my knowledge, a very curious and unique position in the
history of English Anarchism. There is nothing whatever in "A Girl among
the Anarchists" which is invented, the whole thing is an experience
told very simply, but I think convincingly. Nevertheless as such a human
document must seem incredible to the ordinary reader, I have no little
pleasure in saying that I know what she has written to be true. I was
myself a contributor to the paper which is here known as the _Tocsin_. I
have handled the press and have discussed details (which did not include
bombs) with the editor. I knew "Kosinski" and still have an admiration
for "Nekrovitch." And even now I do not mind avowing that I am
philosophically as much an Anarchist as the late Dr. H. G. Sutton, who
would no doubt have been astounded to learn that he belonged to the
brotherhood.

Curiously enough I have found most Anarchists of the mildest
dispositions. I have met meek Germans (there are meek Germans still
extant) who even in their wildest Anarchic indignation seemed as little
capable of hurting a living soul as of setting the Elbe on fire. For it
must be understood that the "red wing" of the Anarchists is a very small
section of the body of philosophers known as Anarchists. There is no
doubt that those of the dynamite section are practically insane. They
are "impulsives"; they were outraged and they revolted before birth.
Most of the proletariat take their thrashing lying down. There are
some who cannot do that. It is out of these who are not meek and do not
inherit even standing-room on the earth that such as "Matthieu"
comes. Perhaps it may not be out of place to suggest that a little
investigation might be better than denunciation, which is always wide
of the mark, and that, as Anarchism is created by the social system of
repression, more repression will only create more Anarchism. However, I
am perfectly aware that the next time a wild-eyed philosopher, who ought
to be under restraint in an asylum, throws a bomb, all the newspapers in
Europe will advocate measures for turning all the meeker Anarchists
into outrage-mongers. For of the Anarchists it is certainly true that
repression does not repress. Anarchism is a creed and a philosophy,
but neither as creed nor philosophy does it advocate violence. It only
justifies resistance to violence. So much, I think, will be discovered
in this book even by a leader-writer.

In conclusion I cannot do better than quote from Spinoza's _Tractatus
Politicus:_--

"In order that I might inquire better into the matter of this science
with the same freedom of mind with which we are wont to treat lines
and surfaces in mathematics, I determined not to laugh or weep over the
actions of men but simply to understand them, and to contemplate their
affections and passions such as love, hate, anger, envy, arrogance,
pity, and all other disturbances of soul not as vices of human nature,
but as properties pertaining to it in the same way as heat, cold, storm,
thunder pertain to the nature of the atmosphere. For these, though
troublesome, are yet necessary and have certain causes through which
we may come to understand them, and thus by contemplating them in their
truth, gain for our minds as much joy as by the knowledge of things
which are pleasing to the senses."

I think that Isabel Meredith, so far as the outlook of her book extends,
is a disciple of Spinoza. But she can speak for herself.

MORLEY ROBERTS.



CONTENTS


I. A STRANGE CHILDHOOD

II. A GATHERING IN CHISWICK

III. AN ABORTIVE GROUP-MEETING.

IV. A POLICE SCARE

V. TO THE RESCUE

VI. A FOREIGN INVASION

VII. THE OFFICE OF THE _TOCSIN_

VIII. THE DYNAMITARD'S ESCAPE

IX. SOME ANARCHIST PERSONALITIES

X. A FLIGHT

XI. A CRISIS

XII. THE _TOCSIN'S_ LAST TOLL.



CHAPTER I

A STRANGE CHILDHOOD


In the small hours of a bitter January morning I sat in my room gazing
into the fire, and thinking over many things. I was alone in the house,
except for the servants, but this circumstance did not affect me. My
childhood and upbringing had been of no ordinary nature, and I was used
to looking after myself and depending on my own resources for amusement
and occupation.

My mother had died when I was yet a small child and, with my elder
sister and brother, I had grown up under our father's eye. He was a
chemist and a man of advanced ideas on most things. He had never sent us
to school, preferring to watch in person over our education, procuring
for us private tuition in many subjects, and himself instructing us
in physical science and history, his two favourite studies. We rapidly
gained knowledge under his system and were decidedly precocious
children, but we had none of the ordinary school society and routine.
Our childhood was by no means dull or mopish, for there were three of
us and we got on very well together, but we mixed hardly at all with
children of our own age, our interests were not theirs, and their
boisterous ways were somewhat repellent to us.

Our father was a great believer in liberty, and, strange to say, he
put his ideas into practice in his own household. He was a devoted and
enthusiastic student, and for days, nay, weeks together, we would see
but little of him. He had fitted himself up a small laboratory at the
top of our house on which he spent all his available money, and here
he passed nearly all the time he could dispose of over and beyond that
necessary for the preparation and delivery of his scientific lectures.
As we grew out of childhood he made no difference in his mode of life.
He gave us full liberty to follow our various bents, assisting us with
his advice when requested, ever ready to provide the money necessary
for any special studies or books; taking an interest in our readings and
intellectual pursuits. The idea of providing us with suitable society,
of launching us out into the world, of troubling to see that we
conformed to the ordinary conventions of society, never occurred to him.
Occasionally some old friend of his would drop in, or some young admirer
who had followed his scientific work in the press would write asking
permission to call and consult him on some point. They were always
received with cordiality, and my father would take much trouble to be
of any assistance he could to them. We children used generally to
be present on such occasions, and frequently would join in the
conversation, and thus we got to know various people, among whom
foreigners and various types of cranks were fairly in evidence.

We lived in a large old-fashioned house in Fitzroy Square where our
father had settled down somewhere in the seventies soon after his
marriage to a South American Spaniard, whom he had met during a
scientific research expedition in Brazil. She was a girl of seventeen,
his junior by some twenty years. During his journeys into the interior
of Brazil he had fallen seriously ill with malarial fever, and had been
most kindly taken in and nursed by a coffee-planter and his family.
Here he had met his future wife who was acting as governess. She was of
Spanish descent, and combined the passionate enthusiasm of a Southerner
with the independence and self-reliance which life in a new and only
partially civilised country breeds. She was an orphan and penniless, but
our father fell in love with her, attracted doubtless by her beauty and
vivaciousness in such striking contrast with his bookish way of life,
and he married her and brought her home to London. He truly loved her
and was a good husband in all essential respects, but the uncongenial
climate and monotonous life told on her health, and she died three years
after my birth, much mourned by her husband, who plunged all the more
deeply into scientific research, his only other thought being a care for
our education. He had lived on in the same old house which grew somewhat
dingier and shabbier each year, whilst the neighbourhood fell from its
pristine respectability to become the resort of foreigners of somewhat
doubtful character, of Bohemian artists and musicians.

As I sat gazing into the fire many pictures of those old days rose
before me. I saw our large drawing-room with its old-fashioned
furniture, handsome, often beautiful, but ill-kept; its sombre hangings
and fine pictures. I recalled a typical scene there with a large fire
burning cheerily in the big grate, relieving the gloom of a late winter
afternoon with the bright flickering of its flames. Ensconced in a
roomy arm-chair, our father is seated by the fire in a skullcap and list
slippers, with his favourite cat perched on his knee. Opposite him sit
two ladies, the elder of whom--a quaint, nice-looking old lady, dressed
neatly in black, but whose innate eccentricity succeeded in imparting
something odd to the simplest and quietest of attires--is leaning
eagerly forward, pouring forth a long tale of woe into my father's
sympathetic ear. She is denouncing the London roughs, landlords, and
police, who, apparently, are all in league to ruin her and turn her
cats astray upon an unkind world. The brutality of the English poor, who
consider their duty towards the feline race fully performed when they
have fed them, and who pay no more attention to their morals and higher
feelings than if they were stocks and stones, arouses her ire; sympathy
is what she needs, sympathy to help her to face the world and continue
her crusade against cruelty. She says all this in a scattered and
disconnected style, jumping from one point to another, turning
occasionally to her friend for support or confirmation. This friend is
a meek, subdued-looking person of uncertain age, somewhat washed-out
and bedraggled in appearance. Her attire is nondescript, and seems to
consist of oddments bought solely because they were cheap and bearing
no relation whatever one to the other. Mrs. Smuts, growing more and more
absorbed in the course of her harangue on the great cat question, states
that she believes in marrying cats young in life and looking strictly
after their morals; and as she appeals to Miss Meggs whilst voicing this
sentiment, the latter timidly interjects, "But do you think, my dear
Maria, that cats can maintain themselves chaste on a meat diet? I never
give mine anything more exciting than cold potatoes and rice pudding,
and I find that they thrive on it, Mr. Meredith!"

At this point we children, stifling our laughter, rush headlong from the
room, to vent our mirth in safety in the kitchen.

Another frequent visitor whom my imagination summoned from the grave
in which he had lain now for several years past, was a tall, thin,
delicate-looking man of some thirty years of age. He was by birth a
Frenchman, but had lived mostly in England, his parents having come
over as political exiles from the tyranny of Louis Napoleon, afterwards
settling permanently in this country. He was an engineer by profession,
but a poet at heart, and all his spare time and thought he devoted to
tackling the problem of aerial navigation. His day was spent earning a
scanty living in a shipbuilding yard, but his evenings and nights were
passed in constructing a model of a flying-machine. He would bring his
drawings round to our father for discussion and advice; and although he
never attained success, he was always hopeful, trusting that some one
of the ever fresh improvements and additions which his fertile brain
was always busy conceiving would solve the difficulty which had hitherto
beset him. His sallow face with its large dreamy eyes and his spare
figure, clad in an old bluish suit, rusty with age and threadbare with
brushing, stand out clear in my memory. There was also an old professor,
a chemist like my father, who often assisted him in his experiments.
He was somewhat formidable in appearance, wearing gold spectacles, and
helping himself freely to the contents of a snuff-box, but he was one of
the most kind-hearted of men. Children were great favourites with him,
and his affection was returned with interest as soon as the shyness
consequent on his somewhat gruff manner was overcome. He used to enjoy
drawing us out, and would laugh heartily at our somewhat old-fashioned
remarks and observations, at which we used to grow very indignant, for
we were decidedly touchy when our dignity was at stake. He had nicknamed
me Charlotte Corday, for, after a course of Greek and Roman history,
studied in Plutarch and Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," I had plunged
into the French Revolution, glorying in its heroisms and audacity, and
it had become a favourite amusement with all three of us to enact scenes
drawn from its history, and to recite aloud, with great emphasis if
little art, revolutionary poetry. The old professor loved to tease me
by abusing my favourite heroes; and when he had at last roused me to
a vigorous assertion of revolutionary sentiments, he would turn to my
father and say, "There's a little spitfire for you; you will have to
keep a look-out or she will be making bombs soon and blowing us all up,"
at which my father would smile complacently.

Our father was very charitable. He did not like to be bothered or
disturbed, but he would willingly give a little assistance when asked,
and the result was that our door was always besieged by beggars
of various nationalities, Spaniards and Italians forming the chief
contingent. Generally they confined themselves to sending in notes,
which used to be returned with a shilling or half-crown as the case
might be, but sometimes one would insist on a personal interview. I
remember one wild-looking Hungarian, whose flowing locks were crowned
by a sort of horse's sun-bonnet, who used to rush round on one of those
obsolete bicycles, consisting of an enormously high wheel on the top
of which he was perched, and a tiny little back one. He was generally
pursued by a crowd of hooting boys, advising him to "get 'is 'air cut,"
and inquiring, "Where did you get that 'at?" He used to insist on seeing
my father; but the help he solicited was not for himself but for various
political refugees in whom he was interested. One day the professor
happened to meet this wild-looking creature at our door, and inquired
of my father who that maniac might be. "Oh, he is a Hungarian refugee;
a good fellow, I believe. I have noticed something rather odd in his
appearance, but I do not consider him mad," replied his friend.

Amid such surroundings we grew up. My elder sister, Caroline, had a
notable musical gift, and even as a small child had a fine voice, which
developed into a rich contralto. Our father, always anxious to do his
duty by us, gave her a first-rate musical education, sending her abroad
to study under famous Continental teachers, and at eighteen she made
her first appearance in public, exciting much attention by the powerful
dramatic qualities of her voice. It was evident that her right course
was to go in for operatic singing, and this she did. She continued on
the most affectionate terms with her family, but naturally her pursuit
took her into quite another path of life, and we saw less and less of
her as time went on. This threw my brother and myself more together.
There was only a year's difference between us, and we studied together,
walked, talked, played, and read together--in fact, were inseparable.
Raymond was no ordinary boy. In character and in manners he was very
like my father. His favourite study was physical science in its various
branches; mine, history and sociological subjects. He saw things from
the scientific standpoint, I from the poetical and artistic; but we were
both by nature enthusiastic and dreamers, and sympathised heartily with
each other's views. His ambition was to become a famous explorer;
mine, to die on a scaffold or a barricade, shouting Liberty, Equality,
Fraternity.

Our father took a great pride in Raymond, and carefully supervised his
studies. He passed various brilliant examinations, and at eighteen,
having decided to go in for medicine, was already walking a hospital.
Shortly after this our father died suddenly. He was at work as usual in
his laboratory when he was seized by a paralytic stroke, and in three
days he was dead.

This blow quite stunned us for a time. Our father was everything to us;
and the possibility of his death we had never contemplated. Though, as
I have explained, he had always left us free to follow our own devices,
still he was the centre round which our family life circled; we were
passionately attached to him, and now that he was gone we felt at a loss
indeed. We had no relatives living of our father's; our mother's
family we had never known, and they were too distant to be practically
available. Our father's friends were not such as to be of much help to
us. Cat enthusiasts and scientific dreamers are all very well in their
way, but they almost always take far more than they give in the mart of
friendship. The old professor had preceded my father to his grave.

Our father left us comfortably off. The house was our own, and property
yielding a comfortable income was divided equally between us. Our home
seemed desolate indeed without our father, and very gloomily did the
first months of his absence pass; but in time hope and youth reasserted
themselves and we gradually settled down to much our old way of
life. Caroline obtained several engagements and was still studying
enthusiastically. Raymond passed most of his time at the hospital, where
he had rooms, though he frequently came home; I was the only one who had
not a definite occupation. I read a great deal and wrote a little also,
chiefly studies on historical subjects which interested me, but I had
printed nothing. In fact I had never been in the way of the literary
world, and did not know how to set about it. Time used often to hang
rather heavily on my hands in the big house where I was generally alone.
I was the housekeeper, but such cares did not take up much of my time.
The result of so much solitude and lack of occupation was that I became
restless and dissatisfied. Mere reading without any definite object did
not and could not suffice me; to write when there seemed no prospect of
ever being read, and keenly alive as I was to my own deficiencies, did
not attract me; friends I might say I had none, for the few people my
father knew were interested in him and not in us children, and ceased to
frequent our house after his death. Caroline's musical friends did not
appeal to me, so that the whole interest of my life was centred round
my brother. When he came home we used always to be together, and
conversation never flagged. Never having been to school he had none of
the schoolboy's patronising contempt for a sister. We had always been
chums and companions, and so we continued, but whereas, as children,
it was I, with my more passionate and enterprising nature, who took
the lead, now it was he who, mixing with the outer world, provided the
stimulus of new ideas and fresh activities for which I craved. Brought
suddenly face to face, after the studious seclusion of home, with the
hard facts of life as seen in a London hospital, he had begun to take
a deep interest in social questions. The frightful havoc of life and
happiness necessitated by the economic conditions of nineteenth-century
society, impressed him deeply, and he felt that any doctor who looked
upon his profession as other than a mere means to make money must tackle
such problems. Following up this line of thought he became interested
in economics and labour questions. His views were the result of no mere
surface impression, but the logical outcome of thought and study, and he
arrived at socialism by mental processes of his own, uninfluenced by
the ordinary channels of propaganda. I shared his interests and read
on parallel lines. We had no friends in Socialist circles, no personal
interest of any kind balanced our judgment. The whole trend of our
education had been to make independent thinkers of us. What we saw in
the whole problem was a question of justice, and for this we were ready
and anxious to work. A new interest was thus brought into our lives,
which, in my case, soon became all-absorbing. I was always begging my
brother to bring me home fresh books. The driest volumes of political
economy, the most indigestible of philosophical treatises, nothing came
amiss. From these I passed on to more modern works. Raymond had made
friends with a student who was a professed socialist and through him he
came into possession of a number of pamphlets and papers, all of which
I devoured eagerly, and some of which made a lasting impression on my
mind. Krapotkin's "Appeal to the Young" was of this number. I remember
in my enthusiasm reading it aloud to my sister Caroline, who, however,
took scant interest in such matters, and who tried, but in vain, to put
a damper on my enthusiasm.

I was always fond of scribbling, and the outcome of all this reading was
that I, too, flew to pen and paper. I used to read my papers to Raymond
on those rare occasions when I fancied I had not done so much amiss.
They would provide the material for an evening's conversation, then I
would toss them aside and think no more about them. One day, however,
Raymond brought his Socialist friend home with him. It seems they
had talked about me and my all-absorbing interest in social subjects.
Hughes, my brother's friend, had been surprised to hear from Raymond
that I knew no socialists in the flesh, and that all my hero-worship was
laid before the altar of mental abstractions, of my own creation for the
most part.

Great was my excitement when Raymond told me that I might expect him and
his friend, of whom I had heard so much, to turn up together one Sunday
evening. So great was my ignorance of the world, so wild my enthusiasm,
that I imagined every socialist as a hero, willing to throw away
his life at a moment's notice on behalf of the "Cause." I had had no
experience of the petty internal strifes, of the jealousies and human
frailties which a closer knowledge of all political parties reveals. I
remember how ashamed I felt of the quite unostentatious comfort of
our home, how anxious I was to dissemble the presence of servants, how
necessary I thought it to dress myself in my oldest and least becoming
clothes for the occasion, and how indignant I felt when Caroline, who
was going off to sing at a concert that evening, said, on coming in to
wish me good-bye, "Why, surely, Isabel, you're not going to receive that
gentleman looking such a fright as this?" As if a Socialist could care
for dress! How I felt he would despise me for all the outward signs
which proved that I was living on the results of "unearned increment"
(_vide_ Karl Marx) and that I was a mere social parasite!

When at last the longed-for, yet dreaded moment came, I was surprised,
relieved, and I must add somewhat disappointed, at seeing a young man
looking much like any other gentleman, except that he wore a red tie,
and that his clothes were of a looser and easier fit than is usual.
"What a jolly place you have!" he exclaimed after my brother had
introduced us and he had given a look round. I felt considerably
relieved, as I had quite expected him to scowl disapproval, and my
brother, after saying, "Yes, it is a nice old house; we are very fond of
it," suggested that we should adjourn to supper.

During this repast I took an animated part in the conversation, which
turned on recent books and plays. At last reference was made to a book,
"The Ethics of Egoism," which had excited much attention. It was a
work advocating the most rabid individualism, denying the Socialist
standpoint of the right to live, and saying that the best safeguard for
the development and amelioration of the race lay in that relentless law
of nature which sent the mentally and morally weak to the wall. I
had read the book with interest, and had even written a rather long
criticism of it, of which I felt distinctly proud. In the course of the
discussion to which this book gave rise among us, my brother mentioned
that I had written something on it, and Hughes begged me to read my
performance. Though I felt somewhat diffident, I acceded, after some
persuasion, to his request, and was elated beyond measure at earning his
good opinion of my effort.

"By George, that's about the best criticism I've read of the work. Where
do you intend publishing it, Miss Meredith?"

"Oh, I had never thought of publishing it," I replied; "I have never
published anything."

"But we cannot afford to lose such good stuff," he insisted. "Come,
Raymond, now, don't you think your sister ought to get that into print?"

"I think you should publish it, Isabel, if you could," he replied.

"Could! Why any of our papers would be only too delighted to have it.
Let me take it down to the _Democrat_," he said, mentioning the name of
a paper which Raymond often brought home with him.

"Oh, if you really think it worth while, I shall be only too pleased," I
replied.

Thus was effected my first introduction to the actual Socialist
party. My article was printed and I was asked for others. I made the
acquaintance of the editor, who, I must confess, spite of my enthusiasm,
soon struck me as a rather weak-kneed and altogether unadmirable
character. He thought it necessary to get himself up to look like an
artist, though he had not the soul of a counter-jumper, and the result
was long hair, a velvet coat, a red tie, bumptious bearing, and an
altogether scatter-brained and fly-away manner. In figure he was long
and willowy, and reminded me irresistibly of an unhealthy cellar-grown
potato plant. My circle of acquaintances rapidly enlarged, and soon,
instead of having too much time on my hands for reading and study, I
had too little. At one of the Sunday evening lectures of the Democratic
Club, at which I had become a regular attendant, I made the acquaintance
of Nekrovitch, the famous Nihilist, and his wife. I took to him
instinctively, drawn by the utter absence of sham or "side" which
characterised the man. I had never understood why Socialism need imply
the arraying of oneself in a green curtain or a terra-cotta rug, or
the cultivation of flowing locks, blue shirts, and a peculiar cut of
clothes: and the complete absence of all such outward "trade marks"
pleased me in the Russian. He invited me to his house, and I soon became
a constant visitor. In the little Chiswick house I met a class of people
who stimulated me intellectually, and once more aroused my rather waning
enthusiasm for the "Cause." The habit of taking nothing for granted, of
boldly inquiring into the origin of all accepted precepts of morality,
of intellectual speculation unbiassed by prejudice and untrammelled by
all those petty personal and party questions and interests which I had
seen occupy so much time and thought at the Democratic Club, permeated
the intellectual atmosphere. Quite a new side of the problem--that of
its moral bearings and abstract rights as opposed to the merely material
right to daily bread which had first appealed to my sense of justice and
humanity--now opened before me. The right to complete liberty of action,
the conviction that morality is relative and personal and can never
be imposed from without, that men are not responsible, or only very
partially so, for their surroundings, by which their actions are
determined, and that consequently no man has a right to judge his
fellow; such and similar doctrines which I heard frequently upheld,
impressed me deeply. I was morally convinced of their truth, and
consequently more than half an Anarchist. The bold thought and lofty
ideal which made of each man a law unto himself, answerable for his own
actions only to his own conscience, acting righteously towards others as
the result of his feeling of solidarity and not because of any external
compulsion, captivated my mind.

The Anarchists who frequented Nekrovitch's house were men of bold and
original thought, the intellectual part of the movement, and I was never
tired of listening to their arguments. Meantime the more I saw of the
Social Democrats the less I felt satisfied with them. A wider experience
would have told me that all political parties, irrespective of opinion,
are subject to much the same criticism, and that Socialist ideas are
no protection against human weaknesses; but extreme youth is not
compromising where its ideals are concerned, and I expected and insisted
on a certain approach to perfection in my heroes. True, Nekrovitch made
me hesitate some time before taking the final step. His attitude in such
discussions was one of sound common sense, and he never ceased reminding
his Anarchist friends, though all in vain, that we must live in our own
times, and that it is no use trying to forestall human evolution by some
thousand years.

At home I had become more and more my own mistress. I was now full
eighteen years of age, and had always been accustomed to think and
act for myself. Caroline, with whom I was on most affectionate terms,
despite our frequent differences on politics, had accepted an engagement
as _prima donna_ with a travelling opera company which was to visit the
United States and the principal cities of South America; her engagement
was to last two years, and she had left just three weeks before the
opening of my first chapter.

Raymond slept at home, but as the date of his final examination drew
near he was more and more occupied, and frequently whole weeks passed
in which I only caught a glimpse of him. He knew and sympathised with
my new line of thought; he had accompanied me more than once to the
Nekrovitchs', whom he liked much, but he had no longer the time
to devote much thought to such matters. Of money I always had a
considerable command; ever since our father's death I had kept house,
and now that Caroline was away I had full control of the household
purse.

Turning over all these thoughts in my mind as I sat toasting my feet
before the fire, I felt more and more inclined to throw in my lot with
the Anarchists. At the same time I felt that if I did take this step it
must be as a worker and in no half-hearted spirit. The small hours of
the morning were rapidly slipping by as I turned at last into bed to
dream of Anarchist meetings, melting into a confused jumble with the
rights of cats and the claims of the proletariat.



CHAPTER II

A GATHERING IN CHISWICK


As my first actual acquaintance with Anarchists was effected in
Nekrovitch's house, it will not be out of place for me to give a slight
sketch of the gatherings held there and of my host himself.

An interminably dreary journey by tram and rail, omnibus and foot, the
latter end of which lay along a monotonous suburban road, brought you
to the humble dwelling of the famous Nihilist. Here from time to time
on Sunday evenings it was my wont to put in an appearance towards ten
or eleven, for the journey was deceptively long from Fitzroy Square,
and Nekrovitch, like most Russians, was himself of so unpunctual and
irregular a nature, that he seemed to foster the like habits in all his
friends. The nominal hour for these social gatherings to commence was
eight, but not till past nine did the guests begin to assemble, and
till midnight and later they would come dribbling in. Only one
conscientiously punctual German was ever known to arrive at the
appointed hour, but the only reward of the Teuton's mistaken zeal was to
wait for hours in solitary state in an unwarmed, unlighted room till his
host and fellow-guests saw fit to assemble.

The meeting-room, or parlour, or drawing-room in Nekrovitch's house was
by no means a palatial apartment. Small and even stuffy to the notions
of a hygienic Englishman, and very bare, scanty in furniture, and yet
poorer in decoration, this room bore evidence to its owners' contempt
for such impedimenta, and their entire freedom from slavery to household
gods. It was evidently the home of people used to pitching their tent
often, and to whom a feeling of settled security was unknown. But its
occupants usually made up for any deficiencies in their surroundings.

The company was always of a very mixed cosmopolitan character--Russian
Nihilists and exiles, English Liberals who sympathised with the Russian
constitutional movement, Socialists and Fabians, Anarchists of all
nationalities, journalists and literary men whose political views were
immaterial, the pseudo-Bohemian who professes interest in the "queer
side of life," all manner of faddists, rising and impecunious musicians
and artists--all were made welcome, and all were irresistibly attracted
towards the great Russian Nihilist.

The most notable figure in this assembly, and he certainly would
have been in most assemblies, was Nekrovitch himself. Nekrovitch was
essentially a great man; one of those men whom to know was to admire and
to love; a man of strong intellect, and of the strong personal magnetism
which is so frequently an adjunct of genius. Physically he was a huge
powerful man, so massive and striking in appearance that he suggested
comparison rather with some fact of nature--a rock, a vigorous forest
tree--than with another man. He was one of those rare men who, like
mountains in a landscape, suffice in themselves to relieve their
environments, whatever these may be, from all taint of meanness. He
stood out from among his guests the centre of conversation, of feeling,
and of interest. He was almost invariably engaged in eager conversation,
pitched in a loud tone of voice, broken at intervals when he listened
to the other disputants, while puffing the cigarettes which he was
constantly rolling, and looking intently out of his deep-set penetrating
eyes.

Nekrovitch's wife, a Russian like himself, had been a student of
medicine at the Russian University until, along with her husband, she
had been compelled to take flight from the attentions of the Russian
police. She was a curly-headed brunette, with bright hazel eyes and a
vivacious manner; a very intelligent and highly "simpatica" woman, as
the Italians would put it.

Round Nekrovitch there always clustered an eager crowd of admirers and
intimates, discussing, disputing, listening, arguing. They were mostly
foreigners, of the shaggy though not unwashed persuasion, but two
English faces especially attracted notice. One belonged to a young
woman, still on the right side of thirty, dressed without exaggeration
in the aesthetic style, with a small but singularly intellectual head
and an argumentative manner, whom I knew as Miss Cooper. The other was
a man of some thirty-seven years, with auburn hair, which displayed a
distinct tendency to develop into a flowing mane; tall, slim, and lithe
of limb, with a splendid set of teeth, which showed under his bushy
moustache whenever his frank, benevolent smile parted his lips. He was
somewhat taciturn, but evidently tenacious; a glance at his spacious
forehead and finely-shaped head revealed a man of mind, and the
friendly, fearless glance of his eyes betokened a lovable nature,
though, as he listened to his opponents or answered in his low
distinct voice, there was an intensity and fixedness in their depth not
incompatible with the fanatic.

This Dr. Armitage was one of the most noticeable figures in the English
Anarchist movement, and it was with him that I first discussed Anarchist
principles as opposed to those of legal Socialism. Nekrovitch and others
often joined in the discussion, and very animated we all grew in the
course of debate. Nekrovitch smiled sympathetically at my whole-hearted
and ingenuous enthusiasm. He never made any attempt to scoff at it or to
discourage me, though he vainly attempted to persuade me that Anarchism
was too distant and unpractical an ideal, and that my energies and
enthusiasm might be more advantageously expended in other directions.
"Anyway," he once said to me, "it is very agreeable to a Russian to see
young people interested in politics and political ideals. It reminds him
of his own country."

Among the other Anarchists who frequented Nekrovitch's house was the
Anarchist and scientist, Count Voratin, a man who had sacrificed wealth
and high position and family ties for his principles with less fuss
than another rich man would make in giving a donation to an hospital. He
seemed always absolutely oblivious of his own great qualities, as simple
and kindly in manners as a _moujik_ but with a certain innate dignity
and courtliness of demeanour which lifted him above most of those with
whom he came in contact. I nourished an almost passionate admiration
for Voratin as a thinker and a man, and his writings had gone far
to influence me in my Anarchist leanings. Never shall I forget the
excitement I felt when first I met him at Nekrovitch's house. I
reverenced him as only a youthful disciple can reverence a great leader.

From Armitage and Nekrovitch I heard much from time to time of another
Russian Anarchist, Ivan Kosinski, a man actively engaged in the
Anarchist propaganda all over Europe. He was much admired by them for
his absolute unswerving devotion to his ideas. A student and a man of
means, he had never hesitated between his interests and his convictions.
He had come into collision with the Russian authorities by refusing to
perform military service. In prison he would not recognise the right
of judges and jailers, and had consequently spent most of his time in
a strait waistcoat and a dark cell. His forte was silence and dogged
unyielding obstinacy. On escaping from Russian prisons he had gone to
America: he had starved and tramped, but he had never accepted any
sort of help. How he lived was a mystery to all. He was known to be
an ascetic and a woman-hater, and had been seen at one time selling
fly-papers in the streets of New York. In revolutionary circles he was
looked up to as an original thinker, and it was rumoured that he played
a leading part in most of the revolutionary movements of recent years.
He was also engaged on a life of Bakounine which was to be the standard
work on the famous revolutionist, for which purpose he was always
reading and travelling in search of material.

And at last one evening Nekrovitch announced that Kosinski was expected.
I had heard so much about this man that I spent my whole evening in a
state of suppressed excitement at the news. For many months past I had
sympathised with the Anarchist principles, but I had taken no particular
steps towards joining the party or exerting myself on its behalf. I was
waiting for some special stimulus to action. Half unconsciously I found
myself wondering whether Kosinski would prove this.

I had passed a pleasant evening in the little Chiswick house between
the usual political and ethical discussions and the usual interesting or
entertaining company. I had assisted at a long discussion between Miss
Cooper and Dr. Armitage, which, commencing on the question of Socialism,
had gradually deviated into one on food and dress reform, a matter upon
which that lady held very strong views. I had felt a little irritated at
the conversation, for I entertained scant sympathy for what I regarded
as hygienic fads; and the emphasis with which the lady averred that she
touched neither flesh nor alcohol, and felt that by this abstinence she
was not "besotting her brain nor befouling her soul," amused me much.
Dr. Armitage, to my surprise, expressed some sympathy with her views,
and treated the question with what I considered undue importance. This
discussion was brought at last to a termination by Miss Cooper breaking
off for a meal (she always ate at regular intervals), and retiring into
a corner to consume monkey-nuts out of a hanging pocket or pouch which
she carried with her.

The evening advanced, and I began to despair of Kosinski's ever
arriving. Every time there was a knock at the door, I wondered whether
it was the much-expected Anarchist, but I was repeatedly disappointed.
Once it was the musical infant prodigy of the season whose talents had
taken London by storm, another time it was a Nihilist, yet another a
wild-looking Czech poet. One loud rat-tat made me feel certain that
Kosinski had arrived, but I was again disillusioned, as an aesthetic,
fascinating little lady made her entry, dragging triumphantly in tow
a reluctant, unengaging and green-haired husband. Nekrovitch gave me a
significant glance. "So sorry to be so late," the little lady began in
a high-pitched voice, "but I had to attend a meeting of our society
for the distribution of sanitary dust-bins; and Humphry got quite
disagreeable waiting for me outside, although he was well wrapped up in
comforters and mits. My dear Anna (this to Madame Nekrovitch), _do_
tell him that he is most absurd and egoistic, and that it is his duty to
think less of personal comfort and more of humanity."

At this last word the injured Humphry, who had approached the fire, and
was attempting to thaw his nose and toes, gave utterance to a suppressed
groan; but a cup of steaming tea and some appetising buttered toast
diverted his spouse's thoughts, and she was soon deep in a confidential
chat with Anna.

At last, long after eleven, appeared the new-comer of whom I had heard
so much. I must confess that my preconceived notions (one always has
a preconceived notion of the appearance of a person one has heard much
spoken of) fell to the ground. I had imagined him dark and audacious,
and I saw before me a tall, big, well-built man, with a slight stoop
in his shoulders, fair of skin, with a blonde beard and moustache,
lank long hair, a finely-cut, firm-set mouth, and blue dreamy eyes,
altogether a somewhat Christ-like face. He was clad in a thick, heavy,
old-fashioned blue overcoat with a velvet collar, which he refused
to remove, baggy nondescript trousers, and uncouth-looking boots.
He saluted his host and hostess in an undemonstrative style, bowed
awkwardly to the other guests, and settled down to crouch over the fire,
and look unostentatiously miserable.

From the first moment Kosinski interested me. His manners were not
engaging; towards women especially he was decidedly hostile. But
the marked indifference to opinion which his bearing indicated, his
sincerity, his unmistakable moral courage, perhaps his evident aversion
to my sex, all had for me a certain fascination.

I felt attracted towards the man, and was pleased that a discussion on
Anarchism with Armitage at last afforded me an opportunity of exchanging
a few words with him--even though on his side the conversation was not
altogether flattering to myself. It happened in this way.

Nekrovitch, Armitage, and myself had, according to our wont, been
discussing the great Anarchist question. For the hundredth time the
Russian had endeavoured to persuade us of the truth and the reason of
his point of view.

"So long as men are men," he maintained, "there must be some sort of
government, some fixed recognised law--organisation, if you will, to
control them."

"All governments are equally bad," answered the doctor. "All law is
coercion, and coercion is immoral. Immoral conditions breed immoral
people. In a free and enlightened society there would be no room for
coercive law. Crime will disappear when healthy and natural conditions
prevail."

And Nekrovitch, perceiving for the hundredth time that his arguments
were vain, and that Armitage was not to be moved, had left us to
ourselves and gone across to his other guests. Doctor Armitage, always
eager for converts, turned his undivided attention to me.

"I hope yet to be able to claim you for a comrade," he said: "you are
intelligent and open-minded, and cannot fail to see the futility of
attempting to tinker up our worn-out society. You must see that our
Socialist friends have only seized on half-truths, and they stop short
where true reform should begin."

"I can quite see your point of view," I replied; "in fact I am more than
half a convert already. But I should like to know what I can do. I
have been interested now in these problems for a year or two, and must
confess that the electioneering and drawing-room politics of Fabians and
Social Democrats are not much to my taste; in fact I may say that I
am sick of them. A few men like our friend Nekrovitch, who ennoble any
opinions they may hold, are of course exceptions, but I cannot blind
myself to the fact that ambition, wire-pulling, and faddism play a
prominent part in the general proceedings. On the other hand you seem
to me to sin in the opposite direction. No organisation, no definite
programme, no specific object!--what practical good could any one like
myself do in such a party?"

The doctor smiled a quiet smile of triumph as he proceeded to overthrow
my objections: "Why, the very strength of our party lies in the
fact that it has not what you are pleased to call an organisation.
Organisations are only a means for intriguers and rogues to climb to
power on the shoulders of their fellow-men; and at best only serve
to trammel initiative and enterprise. With us every individual enjoys
complete liberty of action. This of course does not mean to say that
several individuals may not unite to attain some common object, as is
shown by our groups which are scattered all over the globe. But each
group is autonomous, and within the group each individual is his own
law. Such an arrangement, besides being right in principle, offers
great practical advantages in our war against society, and renders it
impossible for governments to stamp us out. Again, as to our lack of
programme, if a clear grasp of principle and of the ultimate aim to be
attained is meant, it is wrong to say we have no programme, but, if you
mean a set of rules and formulas, why, what are they after all but a
means of sterilising ideas? Men and their surroundings are unceasingly
undergoing modification and change, and one of the chief defects of all
governments and parties hitherto has been that men have had to
adapt themselves to their programmes, instead of their programmes to
themselves. We make no statement as to specific object: each comrade has
his own, and goes for it without considering it necessary to proclaim
the fact to the whole world. Now you ask me how you could help this
movement or what you could do, and I have no hesitation in saying, much.
Every revolution requires revolutionists, we need propagandists, we need
workers, we need brains and money, and you have both."

"So you think that one ought to place one's property at the service of
the Cause, and that thus one is doing more good than by helping in the
ordinary way?"

"Why, of course, the revolutionist aims at eradicating the causes of
poverty and vice, whereas benevolence, by making it just possible for
people to put up with their circumstances, only strengthens the chains
which hold mankind in slavery."

We had unconsciously raised our voices in the heat of discussion, and
Kosinski, who had caught our last observations, broke in unexpectedly.
It was the first time he had opened his mouth to any purpose, and he
went straight to the point: "It is you bourgeois Socialists, with your
talk of helping us, and your anxiety about using your property 'to
the best advantage,' who are the ruin of every movement," he said,
addressing me in an uncompromising spirit. "What is wanted to accomplish
any great change is enthusiasm, whole-hearted labour, and where that is,
no thought is taken as to whether everything is being used to the best
advantage. If you are prepared to enter the movement in this spirit,
without any backward notion that you are conferring a favour upon any
one--for indeed the contrary is the case--well and good: your work will
be willingly accepted for what it is worth, and your money, if you have
any, will be made good use of; but if not, you had better side with your
own class and enjoy your privileges so long as the workers put up with
you."

These outspoken remarks were followed by a momentary silence. Mrs.
Trevillian looked dismayed; Miss Cooper evidently concluded that
Kosinski must have dined on steak; Dr. Armitage agreed, but seemed to
consider that more amenity of language might be compatible with the
situation. Nekrovitch laughed heartily, enjoying this psychological
sidelight, and I, who ought to have felt crushed, was perhaps the only
one who thoroughly endorsed the sentiment expressed, finding therein
the solution of many moral difficulties which had beset me. Kosinksi was
right. I felt one must go the whole length or altogether refrain from
dabbling in such matters. And as to property I again knew that he was
right; it was what I had all along instinctively felt. Private property
was, after all, but the outcome of theft, and there can be no virtue in
restoring what we have come by unrighteously.

Small things are often the turning-point in a career; and, looking back,
I clearly see that that evening's discussion played no small part in
determining my future conduct. I was already disposed towards Anarchist
doctrines, and my disposition was more inclined towards action of any
order than towards mere speculation. I was the first to speak. "Kosinski
is quite right; I am the first to recognise it. Only I think it a little
unfair to assume me to be a mere bourgeois, attempting to play the part
of lady patroness to the revolution. I am sure none who know me can
accuse me of such an attitude."

Kosinski grumbled out a reply: "Well, of course I may be mistaken; but
I have seen so many movements ruined by women that I am rather
distrustful; they are so rarely prepared to forgo what they consider the
privileges of the sex--which is but another phrase for bossing every one
and everything and expecting much in return for nothing; but of course
there may be exceptions. Perhaps you are one."

Nekrovitch laughed aloud: "Bravo, bravo, you are always true to
yourself, Kosinski. I have always known you as a confirmed misogynist,
and I see you still resist all temptations to reform. You carry
boorishness to the verge of heroism."

The hours had slipped by rapidly, and Mrs. Trevillian took the hint
which her spouse had long tried to give by shuffling restlessly in his
seat and casting side glances at the clock which pointed to half-past
one. She rose to go. "We really must be leaving--it is quite late, and
Humphry is never fit for anything unless he gets at least six hours'
sleep. Good-bye; thanks for such a pleasant evening," and she bustled
out, followed by her husband. I rose to follow her example and, turning
a deaf ear to Nekrovitch, who remarked, "Oh, Isabel, do stay on; it is
not yet late, and as you have lost your last train it is no use being
in a hurry," I shook hands with my friends, including Kosinski, who had
once more subsided into a corner, and left, accompanied by Dr. Armitage,
who offered to walk home with me.

We walked rapidly on through the keen night air. I felt excited and
resolute with the feeling that a new phase of existence was opening
before me. Dr. Armitage at last spoke. "I hope, Isabel"--it was usual in
this circle to eschew surnames, and most of my friends and acquaintances
called me Isabel in preference to Miss Meredith--"I hope, Isabel, that
you will come to our meetings. I should like you to know some of our
comrades; there are many very interesting men, quite original thinkers,
some of them. And I think human beings so often throw light on matters
which one otherwise fails to grasp."

"I should much like to," I replied, "if you can tell me how and when;
for I suppose one requires some sort of introduction even to Anarchist
circles."

"Oh, that is easy enough," he replied. "I have often mentioned your
name, and the comrades will be very glad to see you; we make no sort of
mystery about our meetings. There will be a meeting at the office of
our paper, the _Bomb_, next Saturday. Do come. The business on hand will
perhaps not interest you much, but it will be an opportunity for meeting
some of our men, and I shall be there."

"Oh, I shall be so glad to come!" I exclaimed. "What will you be
discussing?"

"Well, to tell the truth, it is a somewhat unpleasant matter," replied
the doctor with some hesitation in his voice. "There have been some
strange reports circulating about the Myers case, and we are anxious
to get at the truth of the business. It may strike you as a rather
unsuitable introduction, but come nevertheless. The movement is always
in need of new blood and fresh energies to keep it from narrowing its
sphere of activity, and it is well that you should know us as we are."

"Very well, I will come if you will give me the direction."

"Let us say nine o'clock at the office of the _Bomb_ in Slater's Mews,
---- Street; you will find me there."

"Agreed," I replied, and conversation dropped as we walked rapidly
along. I was much occupied with my own thoughts and Dr. Armitage was
noted for his long periods of silence. At last we reached my doorstep. I
fumbled for my latch-key, found it, and wished my friend good-night. We
shook hands and parted.



CHAPTER III

AN ABORTIVE GROUP-MEETING


Before describing the strange committee or group-meeting about to be
dealt with, it is necessary to say a few words concerning the mysterious
affair which gave rise to it.

On the 17th of December 189- the posters of the evening papers had
announced in striking characters:--

"DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST: ATTEMPTED OUTRAGE IN A LONDON PARK."

That same afternoon a loud explosion had aroused the inhabitants of a
quiet suburban district, and on reaching the corner of ---- Park whence
the report emanated, the police had found, amid a motley debris of
trees, bushes, and railings, the charred and shattered remains of a man.
These, at the inquest, proved to have belonged to Augustin Myers, an
obscure little French Anarchist, but despite the usual lengthy and
unsatisfactory routine of police inquiries, searches, and arrests,
practically nothing could be ascertained concerning him or the
circumstances attending his death. All that was certain was that the
deceased man had in his possession an explosive machine, evidently
destined for some deadly work, and that, while traversing the park, it
had exploded, thus putting an end both to its owner and his projects.

Various conflicting theories were mooted as to the motive which prompted
the conduct of the deceased Anarchist, but no confirmation could be
obtained to any of these. Some held that Myers was traversing London on
his way to some inconspicuous country railway station, whence to take
train for the Continent where a wider and more propitious field for
Anarchist outrage lay before him. Others opined that he had contemplated
committing an outrage in the immediate vicinity of the spot which
witnessed his own death; and others, again, that, having manufactured
his infernal machine for some nefarious purpose either at home or
abroad, he was suddenly seized either with fear or remorse, and had
journeyed to this unobserved spot in order to bury it. The papers hinted
at accomplices and talked about the usual "widespread conspiracy"; the
police opened wide their eyes, but saw very little. The whole matter, in
short, remained, and must always remain, a mystery to the public.

Behind the scenes, however, the Anarchists talked of a very different
order of "conspiracy." The funeral rites of the poor little Augustin
were performed with as much ceremony and sympathy as an indignant London
mob would allow, and he was followed to his grave by a goodly _cortège_
of "comrades," red and black flags and revolutionary song. Among the
chief mourners was the deceased man's brother Jacob, who wept copiously
into the open grave and sung his "Carmagnole" with inimitable zeal. It
was this brother whose conduct had given rise to suspicion among his
companions, and "spies" and "police plots" were in every one's mouth.
The office of the _Bomb_, as being the centre of English anarchy, had
been selected as the scene for an inquiry _en group_ into the matter.

Thus on a wet and chilling January evening--one of those evenings when
London, and more especially squalid London, is at the height of its
unattractiveness--I set out towards my first Anarchist "group-meeting."
And certainly the spirit which moved me from within must have been
strong that the flesh quailed not at the foul scenery amid which my
destination lay.

Half-way down one of the busiest, grimiest, and most depressing streets
in the W.C. district stands a squalid public-house, the type of many
hundreds and thousands of similar dens in the metropolis. The "Myrtle
Grove Tavern," pastoral as the name sounds, was not precisely the abode
of peace and goodwill. From four A.M., when the first of her _habitués_
began to muster round the yet unopened doors, till half-past twelve
P.M., when the last of them was expelled by the sturdy "chucker-out,"
the atmosphere was dense with the foul breath and still fouler language
of drunken and besotted men and women. Every phase of the lower order of
British drinker and drunkard was represented here. The coarse oaths of
the men, mingled with the shriller voices of their female companions,
and the eternal "'e saids" and "she saids" of the latter's complaints
and disputes were interrupted by the plaintive wailings of the puny,
gin-nourished infants at their breasts. Here, too, sat the taciturn man,
clay pipe in mouth, on his accustomed bench day after day, year in year
out, gazing with stony and blear-eyed indifference on all that went
on around him; deaf, dumb, and unseeing; only spitting deliberately
at intervals, and with apparently no other vocation in life than the
consumption of fermented liquor.

The side-door for "jugs and bottles" gave on to a dirty and odoriferous
mews, down which my destination lay. The unbridled enthusiasm of
eighteen years can do much to harden or deaden the nervous system,
but certainly it required all my fortitude to withstand the sickening
combination of beer and damp horsy hay which greeted my nostrils.
Neither could the cabmen and stablemen, hanging round the public-house
doors and the mews generally, be calculated to increase one's democratic
aspirations, but I walked resolutely on, and turning to my left,
dexterously avoiding an unsavoury heap of horse manure, straw, and other
offal, I clambered up a break-neck ladder, at the top of which loomed
the office of the _Bomb_.

The door was furtively opened in response to my kick by a lean,
hungry-looking little man of very circumspect appearance. He cast me
a surly and suspicious glance, accompanied by a not very encouraging
snarl, but on my mentioning Dr. Armitage he opened the door a few inches
wider and I passed in.

It took me some seconds before I could accustom my eyes to the fetid
atmosphere of this den, which was laden with the smoke of divers
specimens of the worst shag and cheapest tobacco in the metropolis. But
various objects, human and inanimate, became gradually more distinct,
and I found myself in a long, ill-lighted wooden shed, where type and
dust and unwashed human beings had left their mark, and where soap and
sanitation were unknown. Past the type racks and cases, which occupied
the first half of this apartment, were grouped benches, stools,
packing-cases, and a few maimed and deformed chairs for the
accommodation of the assembly. Then came a hand printing-press, on which
were spread the remains of some comrade's repast: the vertebral column
of a bloater and an empty condensed-milk can, among other relics. The
floor, from one extremity to the other of the "office," was littered
with heaps of unsold revolutionary literature, the approximate date
of which could be gauged by the thickness of dust in which it was
smothered. On the walls and from beams and rafters hung foils and
boxing-gloves; artistic posters and cartoons, the relics of a great
artist who had founded the _Bomb_, and the effigies of divers comrades
to whom a pathway to a better world had been opened through the
hangman's drop. But what most riveted my attention was an indistinct
animate _something_ enveloped in a red flag, rolled up in a heap on
the frouziest and most forbidding old sofa it had ever been my lot to
behold. That this _something_ was animate could be gathered from the
occasional twitchings of the red bundle, and from the dark mop of black
greasy hair which emerged from one end. But to what section of the
animal kingdom _it_ belonged I was quite at a loss to decide.
Other stray objects which I noted about this apartment were an
ostentatious-looking old revolver of obsolete make, and some chemical
bottles, which, however, contained no substance more dangerous than
Epsom salts.

The human occupants were not less noticeable than the inanimate, and
some of them are deserving of our attention.

The man Myers, round whom the interest of the meeting was principally
centred this evening, was to all appearances a mean enough type of the
East End sartorial Jew. His physiognomy was not that of a fool, but
indicated rather that low order of intelligence, cunning and intriguing,
which goes to make a good swindler. The low forehead, wide awake, shifty
little eyes, the nose of his forefathers, and insolent lock of black
hair plastered low on his brow--all these characteristics may frequently
be met with in the dock of the "Old Bailey" when some case of petty
swindling is being tried.

Next Myers I noticed Dr. Armitage, who stood out in striking contrast
from the rest of his companions. The smile with which he welcomed me was
eloquent of the satisfaction with which he noted this my first entrance
into an Anarchist circle.

The short bench on which he sat was shared by a man in corduroys of
the navvy type, a large honest-looking fellow whose views of the Social
question appeared to be limited to a not very definite idea of the
injustice of third-class railway travelling and the payment of rent, and
he expressed his opinions on these knotty problems with more freedom
and warmth of language than was perhaps altogether warranted by the
occasion.

Gracefully poised on one leg against an adjoining type-rack leaned a
tall youth with fair curling hair, a weak tremulous mouth, and an almost
girlish physiognomy. This youth had been drummed out of the army, the
discipline of which he had found too severe, for feigning illness,
since when he had passed his time between the bosom of his family, the
workhouse, and the Anarchist party. He paid very little attention to the
proceedings of the meeting, but discoursed eloquently, in a low voice,
of the brutality of his parents who refused to keep him any longer
unless he made some attempt to find employment. I remember wondering,
_en passant_, why this fair-haired, weak-kneed youth had ever entered
the Anarchist party; but the explanation, had I but known, was close at
hand.

This explanation was a square-built, sturdy-looking man of some forty
years. His appearance was the reverse of engaging, but by no means
lacking in intelligence. He was ill-satisfied and annoyed with the
universe, and habitually defied it from the stronghold of a double
bed. Thither he had retired after the death of his father, an old
market-porter, who had been crushed by the fall of a basket of potatoes.
The son saw in this tragic circumstance the outcome and the reward of
labour, swore a solemn oath never to do a stroke of work again, threw
up his job, and from that day became a confirmed loafer in the Anarchist
party. Some months previously, while propagandising in the workhouse,
he found the youth there, and learned from his own lips how, being
disinclined to become a burden on his poor old parents after his exit
from the army, he had seen no other alternative but to become a pauper,
and make the best he could of the opportunities afforded him by the
poor-rates. From the workhouse he was dragged triumphantly forth by
his new friend, and became an easy convert to anarchic and communistic
principles.

The only feminine element in this assembly was a fair, earnest-looking
Russian girl, whose slight knowledge of English did not allow her to
follow the proceedings very accurately. She was an almost pathetic
figure in her naïve enthusiasm, and evidently regarded her present
companions as seriously as those she had left behind her in Russia, and
seemed to imagine they played as dangerous a rôle, and ran the same risk
as they did.

There were several others present among whom the loafer type was perhaps
in the ascendant. But there were also many of the more intelligent
artisan class, discontented with their lot; labourers and dockers who
had tramped up after a hard day's work, a young artist who looked rather
of the Social Democratic type, a cabman, a few stray gentlemen, a clever
but never-sober tanner, a labour agitator, a professional stump-orator,
and one or two fishy and nondescript characters of the Hebraic race.
O'Flynn, the printer of the _Bomb_, was a cantankerous Irishman with a
taste for discoursing on abstract questions, concerning which he grew
frightfully muddled and confused. He had a rather mad look in his eye
and a disputatious manner.

When at last inquiry was made whether all companions expected were
present, the red flag began to quiver and writhe most noticeably and
finally to unfurl, and there emerged from its depths the dirtiest and
most slovenly man I had ever seen, and the frouziest and most repulsive
of dogs. This man, if man I may call him, was bony and ill-built, and
appeared to consist largely of hands and feet. His arms were abnormally
long and his chest narrow and hollow, and altogether he seemed to hang
together by a mere fluke. His ill-assorted limbs were surmounted by a
sallow, yellowish face, large repulsive lips, and a shapeless nose, and
to him belonged the long, black greasy hair which I had already noted
amid the folds of the red banner. Large gristly ears emerged from his
uncombed mop of hair, and the only redeeming feature about the abject
creature was his large, brown, dog-like eyes. He crept forward, grinding
his teeth and rubbing his bony hands, and subsided into a waste-paper
basket which was the only available seat left unoccupied.

And now at last, after much talking and shifting about, and not before a
young German hairdresser had been stationed with one eye glued to a hole
in the outer wall of the shed, in order to make sure that no detective
was listening outside, the proceedings commenced.

Banter, the little man who had opened the door to me, rose to his feet,
cleared his throat, and said "_Com_rades" in a stentorian voice. Then
followed a long and rambling statement which he read out, from amid
the grammatical inaccuracies and continual digressions of which I was
enabled to gather that he had noticed of late something very peculiar
about the conduct of Jacob Myers, who had appeared to exercise undue
influence and power over his brother Augustin; that, moreover, Jacob
had been seen by a third party drinking a glass of rum in the "Nag and
Beetle" in company with a well-known detective, and that, in final and
conclusive proof of some very fishy transactions on his part, three
undeniable half-crowns had been distinctly observed in his overcoat
pocket the previous week. "And how should he come by these by honest
means?" indignantly inquired Banter. "He says he's out of work, and he's
not got the courage to steal!"

"'Ear, 'ear! Why pay rent to robber landlords?" the navvy, Armitage's
neighbour, ejaculated at this juncture, after which irrelevant inquiry
he spat defiance at Society.

Then followed the speeches for the prosecution, if the use of such a
word may be permitted in connection with an Anarchist transaction. The
chief accusations made against Myers were his violent blood-and-thunder
speeches which he had in no wise carried out in action, but which he
had delivered under the eyes and in the hearing of the police who had
listened and seen it all with quite commendable Christian forbearance.
Besides this several sensational articles had appeared in the daily
press in connection with Augustin's death, exaggerating the importance
of the affair and hinting at dark plots; of which articles he was
suspected of being the author. Jacob was in fact accused of having egged
on his unfortunate brother to his doom in order that he might turn a
little money out of the transaction between newspaper reports and police
fees. It apparently mattered little to this modern Shylock whence came
his pound of flesh or what blood ran or congealed in its veins.

Through all these statements and questions Myers sat in stolid and
insolent silence--occasionally whistling snatches of some music-hall
air. At last when reference was made to some chemicals which he was
alleged to have procured and handed on to his brother, he roused up from
his affected indifference and appealed to Armitage for assistance. "Dr.
Armitage knows," he exclaimed indignantly, "that I only procured the
sulphuric acid from him for domestic purposes."

My eyes were riveted on the doctor's face, and only to one who knew him
well could the expression be at all decipherable. To me it distinctly
denoted disappointment--that humiliating sense of disappointment
and disillusion which must invariably come upon a man of strong and
fanatical convictions when brought into contact with the meanness and
cowardice of his fellows.

Dr. Armitage was a fanatic and an idealist, and two convictions were
paramount in his mind at this time: the necessity and the justice of the
"propaganda by force" doctrine preached by the more advanced Anarchists,
and the absolute good faith and devotion to principle of the men
with whom he was associated. A man of the Myers type was quite
incomprehensible to him. Not for a single instant had Armitage hesitated
to throw open the doors of his Harley Street establishment to the
Anarchists: to him the cause was everything, and interests, prudence,
prospects, all had to give way before it. And here was this man who had
professed the same principles as himself, with whom he had discoursed
freely on the necessity of force, who had openly advocated dynamite
in his presence--this man who had spoken of the revolution and the
regeneration of Society with the same warmth as himself--talking of
"domestic purposes," and ready to recant all that he had preached and
said. And what lay behind this reticence and these denials? Treachery of
the basest kind, and the most sordid, abominable calculations which it
was possible to conceive.

These thoughts I read in the doctor's face, and turning my eyes from
him to the abject Jacob I could only wonder at the naïve sincerity of
Armitage, which could ever have laid him open to such illusions and
disillusions.

After some seconds' hesitation Armitage replied: "I do not desire or
intend to go into any details here concerning my past conversations
or relations with Jacob Myers, neither do I consider myself in any way
bound to discuss here the motives which prompted, or which I thought
prompted his actions, and the requests he made of me. As Anarchists
we have not the right to judge him, and all we can do is to refuse
to associate ourselves any further with him, which I, for one, shall
henceforth do. The knowledge of his own abominable meanness should be
punishment enough for Myers."

The doctor's words were received with very general approval.

"Armitage is perfectly right," said Carter. "We Anarchists cannot
pretend to judge our fellows, but we can form our own opinions and act
accordingly. Myers' conduct proves him to be no better than a spy; we of
the _Bomb_ can have no further relations with him."

"Damn about judging and not judging," exclaimed a sturdy-looking docker.
"All I know is that if Myers does not quickly clear out of the _Bomb_
I'll kick him out. He ought to be shot. I don't pretend to understand
none of these nice distinctions. I call a spade a spade, and if...."

"'Ear,'ear! Down with ..." commenced Elliot again, and Jacob opened his
mouth to speak, but he was saved from any further need of self-defence
or explanation, for at this moment the door of the office was broken
rudely open and there entered like a hurricane a veritable fury in
female form--a whirlwind, a tornado, a ravening wolf into a fold of
lambs. This formidable apparition, which proved to be none other than
the wife of the suspected Myers, amid a volley of abuse and oaths
delivered in the choicest Billingsgate, pounced down on her ill-used
husband, denounced Anarchy and the Anarchists--their morals, their
creeds, their hellish machinations; she called on Jehovah to chastise,
nay, utterly to destroy them, and soundly rated her consort for ever
having associated with such scoundrels. And thus this formidable
preacher of dynamite and disaster was borne off in mingled triumph and
disgrace by his indignant spouse.



CHAPTER IV

A POLICE SCARE


I left the office of the _Bomb_ towards 1 A.M., undecided whether
to weep or to laugh at what I had witnessed there. This, my first
introduction into an English Anarchist circle had certainly not been
very encouraging, but I was too deeply persuaded of the truth and
justice of the Anarchist doctrines to be deterred by such a beginning,
and I did not for one instant waver from my resolve to enter and take
part in the "movement." That some insincere and dishonest men and some
fools should also play their part in it I from the first recognised
as inevitable, but I could not see that this affected the Anarchist
principles or rendered it less necessary for those believing in them
to advocate and spread them. Dr. Armitage accompanied me part of my way
home and we talked the matter over _en route_. "Why trouble ourselves,"
he exclaimed, "about a few unprincipled men in such a wide, such a
universal movement? Our objects and ideals are too far above such
considerations to allow us to be influenced by them. Men like Myers are
but the outcome of unnatural and vitiated conditions; they are produced
by the very society which it is our object to abolish--as all manner
of disease is produced by vitiated air. With better conditions such men
will disappear; nay, the very possibility of their existence will be
gone."

"But in the meantime," I rejoined, "they are surely damaging our Cause,
and scenes like the one we have just witnessed would, if known to the
public, bring our party into ridicule and discredit."

"The Cause is too great and too high to be influenced by such men or
such scenes," answered the doctor with conviction. "Moreover it is our
duty to bring fresh blood and life into the party, so that no place will
be left to renegades of the Myers type."

And in face of Armitage's unswerving faith and optimism my moment of
disgust and perplexity passed, and I felt more than ever determined to
bring my quota of time and strength to the propagation of the Anarchist
ideals. "I have only seen a very limited and narrow circle," I said
to myself; "the field is wide, and I only know one obscure and unclean
corner of it. I cannot judge from this night's experience."

As far as the squalor of the men and their surroundings was concerned,
although it was at first something of a shock to me, I did not allow
myself to be disconcerted on its account. I had no desire or ambition to
be a mere dilettante Socialist, and as dirt and squalor had to be faced,
well, I was ready to face them. A famous Russian writer has described
a strange phase through which the Russian youth passed not many years
since, the "V. Narod" ("To the People!") movement, when young men
and girls by the thousands, some belonging to the highest classes
in society, fled from their families, tore themselves free from all
domestic and conventional yokes, persuaded that it was their duty to
serve the cause of the masses, and that in no way could they better
accomplish this object than by settling in the people's midst, living
their life, taking part in their work. I was passing through a similar
phase of mental evolution.

I felt a strong desire to free myself from all the ideas, customs, and
prejudices which usually influence my class, to throw myself into the
life and the work of the masses. Thus it was that I worked hard to learn
how to compose and print, that I might be of use to the Cause in the
most practical manner of all--the actual production of its literature.
Thus it was also that I resolutely hardened myself against any
instinctive sentiments of repulsion which the unclean and squalid
surroundings of the people might raise in me. I remember reading an
article by Tolstoi which appeared in the English press, dealing with
the conditions of the Russian _moujik_, in which he clearly and
uncompromisingly stated that in order to tackle the social problem, it
is necessary to tackle dirt and vermin with it. If you desire to reach
your _moujik_ you must reach him _à travers_ his dirt and his parasites:
if you are disinclined to face these, then leave your _moujik_ alone. It
was in fact a case of "take me, take my squalor." I determined to take
both.

Dr. Armitage left me at the corner of Oxford Circus, but before I had
taken many steps farther, I heard him suddenly turn round, and in an
instant he had come up with me again.

"By the way, Isabel," he exclaimed, "I was quite forgetting to mention
something I had done, to which I trust you will not object. You know
how full up my place is just now with hard-up comrades. Well I took the
liberty to send on to you a young Scotchman, I forget his name, who
has just tramped up from the North; a most interesting fellow, rather
taciturn, but with doubtless a good deal in him. He had nowhere to pass
the night, poor chap, and no money, so I told him that if he waited on
your doorstep some time after midnight you would be certain to give him
a night's lodgings when you returned. Did I do right?" and the doctor's
kindly face beamed with the look of a man who expected approbation.

"Ye--es," I gasped out, somewhat taken aback, "quite right, of course;"
for I felt that any hesitation would be feeble, a mere relic of
bourgeois prejudice.

And, sure enough, on reaching my domicile, I found installed on the
doorstep a most uncouth and villainous-looking tramp. Taciturn he
certainly was, for he scarcely opened his mouth to say "Good-evening,"
and indeed during the three days of his residence with me he hardly
ever articulated a sound. As I was getting out my latch-key the local
policeman chanced to pass: "That fellow has been hanging about for the
last hours, miss," he said to me. "Shall I remove him for you?"

"Certainly not," I replied firmly, and opening the door, I requested
my unknown comrade to enter. I can still see in my mind's eye that
constable's face. It looked unutterable things.

After conducting the tramp to the pantry, and letting him loose on a
cold pigeon-pie and other viands, and finally installing him on the
study sofa, I retired to my own apartment, well prepared to enjoy a good
night's rest.

This was destined, however, to be of short duration. Towards 6.30 I was
roused from sleep by a loud rat-tat at the front door and, the servants
not being up at such an hour, and suspecting that this early visit
was in some way connected with the Anarchists, I hastily slipped on a
wrapper and ran downstairs.

On opening the door I found one of the members of the previous night's
meeting, the taciturn hero of the potato tragedy.

"It's rather early to disturb you," he began, "but I came to let you
know that last night, after you had all gone, Comrades Banter and
O'Flynn were arrested."

"Arrested!" I exclaimed, as yet unused to such incidents; "why, what on
earth are they charged with?"

"Well," answered Carter, "the charge is not yet very clear, but so
far as we can understand, it is in some way connected with the Myers
business. They are charged with manufacturing explosives, or something
of the sort. The fact is, the police and Jacob Myers are at the bottom
of the whole matter, and Banter, O'Flynn, and Augustin have all played
into their hands."

"Come in here," I interrupted, leading the way to the dining-room. "Let
us sit down and talk the matter over together;" and we entered, Carter
casting a distinctly disapprobatory glance at the "bourgeois luxury" of
this apartment.

As soon as we were seated my companion returned to the question of the
moment. "I fear," he said, "that it is rather a serious affair for the
comrades. That Myers is a police emissary there can no longer be any
reasonable doubt, and the death of his brother is clear proof that he
has not been wasting his time lately. And it is only too likely that
the same hand which provided Augustin with explosives may have placed
similar material in the possession of Banter and O'Flynn."

"How abominable!" I exclaimed indignantly.

"Yes, but Anarchists should not be stupid enough to take any one into
their confidence in such matters," returned Carter. "It is merely
encouraging _mouchards_ and police plots. However, the question now
is--What can be done to help the comrades out of the mess?"

"I am willing to do my best," I answered; "only tell me how I can be of
use."

"You can be of great use, if you care to be," answered Carter. "A
barrister must be procured to defend them, witnesses must be found,
money procured (and here he cast a side-glance at my plate), and some
one ought to interview the comrades in Holloway, and take some food to
the poor fellows."

"I am quite willing to do my best in all these matters," I answered
enthusiastically.

Carter stayed some little while longer instructing me in the various
things I was to do, and then left me, retiring presumably to his double
bed again, for I saw no more of him till long after the trial was over.
He had handed the work over to me, and doubtless felt that so far as he
was personally concerned his responsibilities were at an end.

As soon as the morning papers arrived I scanned them eagerly and from
them learned further particulars of the arrest. A widespread conspiracy
was suspected, the object of which was to blow up the West End of
London, and leaders were devoted to the denunciation of the Anarchists
and their infamous teachings. Explosives, it was alleged, had been found
in the possession of the arrested men, "evidently destined to carry
into effect the deadly work which was only stopped by the hand of God in
Queen's Park three weeks ago."

Having disposed of a hasty breakfast, I left the house, and my morning
was spent in places which were new and strange to me--Holloway Jail,
the Old Jewry, and the Middle Temple. Holloway Prison was my first
destination, for before any other steps could be taken it was necessary
to ascertain what views the prisoners themselves held as to the course
to be adopted in their defence.

I awaited my turn in the prison waiting-room along with a motley crowd
of other visitors--burglars' and forgers' wives, pickpockets' mates, and
the mother of a notorious murderer among others. Their language was not
very choice when addressing the jailers, but sympathetic enough when
talking among themselves and inquiring of one another, "What's your man
up for?" or, "How did your mate get copped?" I felt painfully conscious
of the tameness of my reply: "It's a friend: incitement to murder." How
far more respectable murder itself would have sounded in the midst of
such superior crime!

One burglar's spouse confided to me that her husband had been "at it
for years, but this was the first time he'd been copped:" which latter
incident she seemed to consider an unpardonable infringement of the
privileges and rights of citizenship. She was a bright buxom little
woman and had evidently flourished on his plunder.

In striking contrast to the burglar's wife, I noticed the daughter of a
would-be suicide, a tall, beautiful girl, who formed a pathetic
contrast to her surroundings. Her unfortunate father--an unsuccessful
musician--had succumbed in the struggle for an honest life, and the
cares of a large family had driven him to desperation. As I gazed at the
poor girl with her tear-swollen eyes and noted her extreme thinness
and the shabbiness of her well-worn clothes, and as, from her, my eyes
turned to the cheerful burglar's wife, I meditated on the superiority of
virtue over dishonesty--especially in the reward accorded to it.

At last, having stated my name, the name of my prisoner, the
relationship or lack of relationship between us, and declared my
non-connection with the case, and having received a tin number in
return for this information, I was ushered through various passages and
apartments into a kind of dark cage, separated by a narrow passage from
a still darker one, in the depths of which I perceived my Anarchist,
O'Flynn, as soon as my eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness. I had
several questions to ask him during the few minutes at our disposal,
and conversation was anything but easy; for on all sides of me other
prisoners and their relatives were talking, weeping, arguing, disputing,
and shouting one another down with all their might and lungs.

Two things struck me in Holloway Prison on this my first visit to such
a place. Firstly, the outward cleanliness, and I might almost say
pleasantness, of the place; and secondly, the illogical nature of the
law which treats the unconvicted men, who in its eyes are consequently
innocent, like convicted criminals. Nothing could be more uncomfortable
and unattractive than the conditions under which the detained men are
allowed to see their relatives; no privacy of any sort is allowed them,
the time allotted is of the briefest, and only one visitor a day is
permitted to pass. The censorship over books allowed is very strict and
hopelessly stupid, and altogether everything is made as uncomfortable as
possible for those under detention.

Later in the course of my Anarchist career I had occasion to visit
Newgate on a similar errand, and was struck by the same incongruity in
the system. The external impression made by Newgate was very different,
however.

There is no suggestion of pleasantness about Newgate. It strikes you
indeed as the threshold of the gallows, and is calculated to arouse
qualms in the most strenuous upholder of capital punishment. A constant
sense of gloom is settled like a pall over the whole building, blacker
even than the soot and grime which encrust it. Inside, the dreary
atmosphere is ominous of the constant vicinity of the hangman's drop,
doors seem for ever to be swinging heavily and locking, keys and chains
clanking, and over all the uncompromising flagstaff looms like an
embodied threat.

After my many dreary wanderings round London, the clambering in and
out of omnibuses and other vehicles, and prison interviews, I found the
old-world tranquillity of the Temple quite a relief.

Here began a new order of search. I had to find a barrister, and that
without delay. But how, whom, and in what court or lane did the right
man dwell? During one brief moment indeed my thoughts turned towards our
family solicitor as a possible counsellor in this matter, but only to be
promptly diverted into other channels. That worthy gentleman's feelings
would certainly not have withstood so rude a shock. I could picture him,
in my mind's eye, slowly removing his gold pince-nez and looking at me
in blank but indulgent surprise, as at one who had suddenly taken leave
of her senses. No, this would never do. Barristers by the score must
surely reside in the labyrinths of the Temple, and I determined to seek
one first hand.

And thus it was that, after some little hesitation, I finally ascended
the stairs of a house in Fig Tree Court in the hope that J. B.
Armstrong, Esq., selected at random, might answer my purpose.

The clerk who opened the door looked politely surprised at my appearance
and inquired my business, into which I promptly plunged headfirst. His
eyebrows gradually ascended higher and higher into the regions of his
hair, and his face grew stern and sad as I proceeded. "Allow me to
inquire," he interrupted, "the name of the solicitor who is instructing
the case."

"I have not got a solicitor," I replied, somewhat taken aback.

Then he re-opened the door. "I feel confident, madam, that Mr. Armstrong
would not care to undertake such a case. Good morning."

I retired from this gentleman's presence neither bent nor broken, though
slightly disappointed. "So it is usual to engage a solicitor first," I
reflected, "and to communicate through him with the barrister, is it?
Well, a solicitor can't be afforded here and we must do without him."
The Anarchist in me revolted at such red-tapeism. "Well, here's for
another plunge," I said to myself; "let us try a B this time. C.
Bardolph sounds promising." And I ascended another staircase and knocked
at another inhospitable door.

Mr. Bardolph I saw in person, a very pompous gentleman with manners the
reverse of polite. He could scarcely contain his outraged feelings when
it came to the question of the solicitor. "I can have no connection
with such a case," he said firmly, and I again retired, feeling quite
disreputable.

My next defeat occurred in the chambers of Mr. Anthony C. Frazer. No
sooner did my eyes fall on that gentleman than I regretted my entry, and
the utter hopelessness of my mission was borne in upon my mind, for I
was beginning to realise the difficulties of the situation and to scent
failure in the very air. Mr. Frazer requested me to be seated and eyed
me curiously, as though I were some queer zoological specimen recently
escaped from captivity, and listened with an incredulous smile to my
narrative. He did not even wait for the missing solicitor. "This is
scarcely in my line, madam," he said, rising. "You have certainly made
some mistake." And he left his clerk to accompany me to the door.

I descended the stairs from this gentleman's chambers feeling distinctly
crestfallen and tired, and at my wits' ends as to where next to go,
when, turning the corner into another court, I became aware of rapid
footsteps in my pursuit, and next moment I was overtaken by the youth
who had ushered me out from the scene of my last defeat.

"I think, miss," he began, "that I can direct you to a--er--barrister
who would just do for your business. On no account say that I
recommended you to him, or you will get me into trouble. But you try
Mr. Curtis in Brick Court. He undertakes the defence of burglars
and swindlers and all sorts of people, and you'll find him cheap and
satisfactory."

I thanked the youth, and although this did not strike me as altogether
the most promising introduction, I thought it best to try my luck
in this new direction, and, having at length discovered the house, I
ascended the three rickety flights of stairs which led to Mr. Curtis's
apartment and entered.

This Curtis was a small, wizened old man, of obsolete cut, but
with remarkably up-to-date manners, and a pair of keen little eyes,
penetrating as Röntgen rays. His hair was weedy, and his clothes snuffy
and ill-fitting; but spite of this there was something uncommonly
brisk and wide awake about the little man, and a certain business-like
directness in his manner which impressed me favourably. I felt hopeful
at once.

One of the first remarks he addressed to me--for we primarily discussed
the financial aspect of his services--struck me by reason of its
uncompromising common sense. "Five guineas down and another three next
Tuesday, miss, and I make no inquiry where the money comes from," he
said, "not so long as it is the current coin of the realm and paid
punctually. Without this, however, I cannot undertake or proceed with
the case."

On my immediately producing the required sum he requested me to be
seated, and sitting down opposite me himself, he asked me for full
particulars of the case. These I gave him to the best of my ability and
he took notes.

The question of witnesses he tackled with the same uncompromising lack
of veneer which had characterised his remarks on the money question.
"Witnesses to character and so forth must be found," he said, "the
more authentic and reputable the better, but at all costs they must be
procured. Whom can you suggest?"

I confessed that I could for the moment think of nobody.

"You will think of somebody," he replied persuasively, "you _must_
remember somebody," and there was that in his voice which did not brook
or encourage contradiction, "some one in a respectable position, of
course," he continued, "a man pursuing one of the liberal professions,
or a business man of means. Plenty of doctors and professional men
among your people, are there not? The evidence of such a man would
carry weight. The court's belief in a witness's veracity is, generally
speaking, proportionate to his means. Doubtless you will be able to
think of a desirable man ... who knows the prisoners," he added, rapidly
turning over his notes, and speaking in such a manner as to convey to
me the idea that the exact extent of the witness's knowledge of the
prisoners was not of any very great consequence, so long as he was
prepared to swear to their respectability, and that his banking account
and general appearance were satisfactory.

"I will look round and let you know the result to-morrow," I answered.

"Good," replied Curtis, "two witnesses at least, and men of position and
education at all costs. Good afternoon."

I had enough to do during the remainder of the day in finding those
witnesses, but found they were at last, though not without a tremendous
effort on my part and some considerable degree of ingenuity. When
attired in some of my brother Raymond's discarded clothes, and
produced for Curtis's inspection the following day, they really made
a respectable couple, and I felt proud of them--one a physician of
superior accomplishments and aristocratic appearance, the other a
master-tailor, of prosperous if not very _distingué_ presence. I
likewise discovered a cabman who had been present in Hyde Park at an
allegedly incriminating speech made by Banter; and on jogging his memory
with a little whisky he distinctly recalled several points valuable to
the defence.

Up till the very day of the trial my time was kept well occupied with
such errands. Indeed, remarkable as the fact may appear, practically the
whole labour of preparing the defence devolved upon me.

It was neither an easy nor a very encouraging task. The greater number
of the English Anarchists mysteriously disappeared at this approach of
danger. Mindful of the truth of the axiom that discretion is the better
part of valour, A thought it well to suddenly recollect his duties
towards his family; B discovered that he had a capacious stomach, which
required feeding; C, that the Anarchist policy was in discord with his
own true principles. At such a moment, therefore, and surrounded, or
rather unsurrounded by such men, the task in front of me was not easy,
and in the actual state of public opinion it was not very hopeful
either.

Public feeling was against the Anarchists. So long as violence and
outrage had been reserved entirely for the benefit of foreign climes,
the British public had regarded the Anarchists with tolerance and
equanimity. But the mysterious death of Myers had alarmed and disquieted
it, and heavy sentences were generally invoked against the prisoners.

That the whole conspiracy was a got-up affair between Jacob Myers and
the police was evident. Neither Banter nor O'Flynn was a dangerous
man; a little loud and exaggerated talk was the utmost extent of their
harmfulness. Neither of them was any better capable of making a bomb
than of constructing a flying-machine, and they were less capable of
throwing it than of flying. But political detectives would have a slow
time of it in this country unless they occasionally made a vigorous
effort on their own behalf, and an unscrupulous and impecunious man like
Myers proved a valuable tool to help such gentlemen along, and fools of
the Banter type suitable victims.

And thus it was that these two men now found themselves in the dock with
twelve serious-minded tradesmen sitting in solemn conclave to consider
their crimes.

The trial itself was a ridiculous farce. Jacob Myers, who would have
been the one witness of any importance, was not subpoenaed; he had in
fact discreetly quitted the country under his wife's escort. The police,
with imperturbable gravity, brought ginger-beer bottles into court which
had been found in O'Flynn's apartment, and which, they averred, could be
converted into very formidable weapons of offence. Many gaseous speeches
made by the prisoners, or attributed to them, were solemnly brought up
against them, and a shudder ran through the court at the mention of such
phrases as "wholesale assassination" and "war to the death."

The evidence, however, sufficed to impress the jury with the extreme
gravity of the case and to alarm the public, and the prisoners were
found guilty.

I well recollect the last day of the trial, which I attended
throughout in more or less remote regions of the Old Bailey, recruiting
recalcitrant witnesses, sending food in to the defendants, &c. Two other
cases were being tried at the same time, one of which was a particularly
revolting murder, for which three persons were on trial. The prisoners'
relatives were waiting below in a state of painful excitement. "Guilty
or not guilty," was on all their lips, "release or penal servitude, life
or death, which was it to be?" Friends were constantly running in and
out of the court giving the women news of the progress of the trials.
"It is looking black for the prisoners!" "There is more hope!" "There is
no hope!" and finally "guilty" in all the cases was reported. The wife
of a horrible German murderer who had strangled his employer's wife,
while a female accomplice played the piano to divert her children's
attention from her cries, swooned away at the news. O'Flynn's old mother
went into hysterics and became quite uncontrollable in her grief when,
a few minutes later the news, "Five years' penal servitude," was brought
down.



CHAPTER V

TO THE RESCUE


The first weeks of my experience in the Anarchist camp had flown by with
astounding rapidity. The chapter of my experiences had opened with the
expulsion of an alleged spy and _agent provocateur_, and had closed with
a sentence of penal servitude passed on two of my new-found comrades.
Between these two terminal events I seemed to have lived ages, and so I
had, if, as I hold, experience counts for more than mere years. Holloway
and Newgate, Slater's Mews and the Middle Temple, barristers and
solicitors, judges and juries and detectives; appointments in queer
places to meet queer people--all this had passed before me with the
rapidity of a landscape viewed from the window of an express train; and
now that the chapter had closed, I found that it was but the preface to
the real business I had set my shoulder to.

The morning after the conclusion of the trial I met Armitage by
appointment, and together we wended our way towards Slater's Mews. The
doctor was preoccupied, and for some minutes we proceeded in silence;
the problem of what to do with the _Bomb_ was evidently weighing on
his mind. At last he spoke: "It is our duty," he said, "to see that
the movement be not unduly crippled by the loss of these two men. Poor
fellows, they are doing their duty by the Cause, and we must not shirk
ours. The _Bomb_ must be kept going at all costs; we can ill afford to
lose two workers just now, but the loss of the paper would be a yet more
severe blow to our movement. How thankful I am that you are with us!
It is always so. The governments think to crush us by imprisoning or
murdering our comrades, and for one whom they take from us ten come to
the fore. I am sure you must agree with me as to the paper."

"I quite agree with you in the main," I replied, "but I fear that the
_Bomb_ itself is past hope. It strikes me it had got into somewhat
bad hands, and I fear it would be useless to try to set it on its feet
again. It is hardly fair to a paper to give it a Jacob Myers for editor.
Really it seems to me to have died a natural death. The entire staff
has disappeared--Myers, the editor; Banter, the publisher; O'Flynn, the
printer--who remains? where are the others? It seems to me they have all
vanished and left no trace behind."

"Oh, that is hardly the case, I think," said the doctor in a tone
of deprecation. "I went up to the office last night and found Short
sleeping on the premises."

"Short? Is not he the man whom I first saw wrapped in the red flag of
glory?"

"Yes, that is the man; perhaps his appearance is somewhat
disadvantageous, but he is constant to the Cause, anyhow."

"Well, I should not have thought him much of a staff to lean on; still,
appearances are often deceptive. But, anyhow, do you not think it would
be advisable to start a new paper, rather than to attempt to galvanise a
corpse?"

"The idea would not be a bad one; in fact I think you are right, quite
right," returned Armitage. "It is not wise to put new wine into old
skins. Anyhow, here we are, I dare say other comrades have mustered in
the office who will have something to say in the matter."

We had now reached our destination, and passing the curious scrutiny of
several cabmen and scavengers assembled at the entrance of the mews, we
prepared to ascend the break-neck ladder leading to the office. I had
but put my foot on the first step when I heard the loud yelping of a dog
followed by a string of oaths, and the office door opened, emitting a
tall brawny man in shirt-sleeves with a very red face and close-cropped
hair, who appeared holding out at arm's length a pair of tongs which
gripped some repulsive-looking fronts and collars. On seeing me, he
exclaimed, "Take care," and proceeded to drop the objects on a heap of
rubbish below. We were both somewhat surprised at this apparition, but
realised without difficulty that the office was still in the possession
of the police. They were, in fact, contrary to the doctor's expectation,
the sole occupants of the place. The comrades had not seen fit so far to
muster round the paper. To say there was none, however, is an injustice,
for there on the sofa, still huddled in the red flag, lay Short,
apparently little affected by what had taken place since I last saw him.
He had been aroused from his slumbers by the yelping of his dog, whose
tail had been trodden on by one of the detectives, and he had raised
himself on his elbow, and was looking round, uttering curses volubly.
He nodded slightly on seeing us enter, but did not change his position.
There he lay, quite heroic in his immovable sloth; of all the many
fighters he alone remained staunch at his post; and that because he was
positively too lazy to move away from it.

Dr. Armitage on entering had gone up to one of the three detectives and
spoken to him, and the man now turned to me.

"We are just having a final look round before leaving, miss," he
remarked. "It is not at all pleasant work, I assure you, to be put in to
search such a filthy place. Look there," he exclaimed, pointing at the
recumbent Short with his outstretched tongs. "I shall have to burn every
rag I have on when it is over, and I'd advise you to be careful," and he
resumed his occupation, which consisted in raking out some old papers,
while his two companions, having contrived to resume an official
appearance, prepared to leave.

The police once gone Dr. Armitage and I found ourselves in sole
possession of the office and the lethargic Short. It was no sinecure, to
be sure. Heaps of "pie," some due to the police and some to Banter, who
previous to his arrest had put his foot through several "forms" which it
was inadvisable to let fall into the hands of the police, encumbered the
floor. Everything was intensely chaotic and intensely dirty, from the
type cases and the other scanty belongings to the dormant compositor.
Armitage understood nothing of printing and I very little, and there we
stood in the midst of a disorganised printing-office whence all had fled
save only the unsavoury youth on the couch. I looked at Armitage and
Armitage looked at me, and such was the helpless dismay depicted in our
faces that we both broke into a laugh.

"Well," I said at last, "what shall we do? Suggest something. We cannot
stay on here."

"The only thing I can think of," he rejoined after a pause, "is that
I should go around and look up some of the comrades at their addresses
whilst you remain here and get Short to help you put up the type, &c.,
as best you can, so that we may remove it all elsewhere. Here certainly
nothing can be done and we must start our new paper amidst new
surroundings."

"So you are thinking of starting a new paper?"

We looked round, surprised at this interruption, for Short had
apparently returned to his slumbers, but we now saw that he had emerged
from the banner and was standing behind us, fully dressed (I discovered
later on that he had discarded dressing and undressing as frivolous
waste of time), a queer uncouth figure with his long touzled black hair
and sallow, unhealthy face. He had a short clay pipe firmly set between
his teeth, and his large lips were parted in a smile. He held his head
slightly on one side, and his whole attitude was somewhat deprecatory
and cringing.

"Well," said the doctor, "Isabel and I think that would be the best
plan. You see the _Bomb_ seems thoroughly disorganised, and we think
it would be easier and better to start afresh. I was just saying that I
would go round and hunt up some of the comrades and get their views on
the subject."

"Oh," rejoined Short, "you can save yourself that trouble. One half of
them will accuse you of being a police spy, the others will be ill or
occupied--in short, will have some excuse for not seeing you. They
are all frightened out of their lives. Since the arrest of Banter and
O'Flynn I have not seen one of them near the place, though I have been
here all the time."

This remark confirmed what we both half suspected; and as Short, who by
right of possession seemed authorised to speak on behalf of the _Bomb_,
seemed willingly to fall in with our idea of starting a new paper,
taking it for granted--which I was not exactly prepared for--that he
would install himself in the new premises as compositor, we decided to
take practical steps towards the move. Short informed us that six weeks'
rent was owing, and that the landlord threatened a distraint if his
claims were not immediately satisfied; and in spite of the advice,
"Don't pay rent to robber landlords," which stared us in the face,
inscribed in bright red letters on the wall, I and Armitage between us
sacrificed the requisite sum to the Cause.

Whilst we were discussing these matters the dog warned us by a prolonged
bark that some one was approaching, and the new-comer soon appeared. He
greeted Short, who introduced him to us as Comrade M'Dermott. He shot a
scrutinising glance at us from his keen grey eyes and proceeded to shake
hands with friendly warmth.

He was a very small man, certainly not more than five feet high, thin
and wiry, with grey hair and moustache, but otherwise clean-shaven. His
features were unusually expressive and mobile from his somewhat scornful
mouth to his deep-set, observant eyes, and clearly denoted the absence
of the stolid Saxon strain in his blood. His accent too, though not that
of an educated man, was quite free from the hateful Cockney twang. His
dress was spare as his figure, but though well worn there was something
spruce and trim about his whole demeanour which indicated that he was
not totally indifferent to the impression he created on others. He
looked round the "office," took a comprehensive glance at Short, who was
occupying the only available stool and smoking hard with a meditative
air, and then walked over to me, and addressing me in an undertone, with
the same ease as if he had known me all my life, he said, with a twinkle
in his eye, jerking his head in the direction of Short, "There's a
rotten product of a decaying society, eh?" This remark was so unexpected
and yet so forcibly true, that I laughed assent.

"So you're the only ones up here," he continued. "I expected as much
when I heard of the raid on the office. I was up in the North doing a
little bit of peddling round the country, when I read the news, and
I thought I'd come to London to see what was up. What do you think of
doing with the paper anyway? It seems a pity the old _Bomb_ should die.
It would mean the loss of the only revolutionary organ in England."

"Oh, it must not die," I replied, "or at least if it cannot be kept up,
another paper must take its place. Comrade Armitage agrees with me in
thinking that that would be the best plan. You see this place looks
altogether hopeless."

Armitage, who had been engaged in looking over some papers, now joined
us and the conversation became general.

"Well, how did you get on up North?" inquired Short, who seemed to wake
up to a sense of actuality. "How did you hit it off with young Jackson?
Did you find him of much use?"

"Use!" retorted M'Dermott with an infinite depth of scorn in his voice.
"A fat lot of use he was. If it was a matter of putting away the grub,
I can tell you he worked for two, but as to anything else, he made me
carry his pack as well as my own, on the pretext that he had sprained
his ankle, and his only contribution to the firm was a frousy old
scrubbing-brush which he sneaked from a poor woman whilst I was selling
her a ha'p'orth of pins. He seemed to think he'd done something mighty
grand--'expropriation' he called it; pah, those are your English
revolutionists!" and he snorted violently.

Short gave vent to an unpleasing laugh. He always seemed to take
pleasure at any proof of meanness or cowardice given by his fellows.
Armitage looked pained. "Such things make us long for the Revolution,"
he said. "This rotten society which breeds such people must be swept
away. We must neglect no means to that end, and our press is one. So now
let's set to work to move the plant and start a new paper, as we seem
all agreed to that plan. Who'll go and look for a suitable workshop?"

Short volunteered, but M'Dermott scouted the idea, declaring that the
mere sight of him would be enough to frighten any landlord, and this we
all, including Short, felt inclined to agree with. At last we decided
to fall in with M'Dermott's suggestion that he and I should sally forth
together. "You see, my dear," he said with almost paternal benevolence,
"you will be taken for my grand-daughter and we shall soften the heart
of the most obdurate landlord."

The field of our researches was limited by a few vital considerations.
The rent must not be high. For the present anyhow, the expenses of
the paper would have to be defrayed by Armitage and myself. Short had
proposed himself as printer and compositor, on the tacit understanding
of free board and lodging, and the right to make use of the plant
for his own purposes; I was willing to give my time to the material
production of the paper, and to contribute to its maintenance to the
best of my ability; and Armitage's time and means were being daily more
and more absorbed by the propaganda, to the detriment of his practice;
but he was not of those who can palter with their conscience. The
individual initiative inculcated by Anarchist principles implied
individual sacrifices. Another consideration which limited our choice
was that the office must be fairly central, and not too far from my
home, as, spite of my enthusiasm for Anarchy, I could not wholly neglect
household duties. We talked over these points as we walked along, and
M'Dermott suggested Lisson Grove, where a recent epidemic of smallpox
had been raging, as likely to be a fairly cheap neighbourhood, but after
tramping about and getting thoroughly weary, we had to acknowledge that
there was nothing for us in that quarter. We were both hungry and tired,
and M'Dermott suggested a retreat to a neighbouring Lockhart's. Seated
before a more than doubtful cup of tea, in a grimy room, where texts
stared at us from the walls, we discussed the situation, and decided
to inquire about a workshop which we saw advertised, and which seemed
promising. Our destination led us out of the slummy wilderness into
which we had strayed, into cleaner and more wholesome quarters, and at
last we stopped before some quite imposing-looking premises. "We seem
destined to consort with the cabbing trade," I remarked; "the
last office was over a mews, this place seems to belong to a
carriage-builder." There was, however, no other connection between the
unsavoury mews and the aristocratic carriage-yard, whose proprietor,
resplendent in side-whiskers and a shiny chimney-pot hat, advanced
to meet us, a condescending smile diffusing his smug countenance. I
explained to him our object, and he showed us over the shop, which
consisted in a large loft, well lighted and fairly suitable, at the back
of the premises.

In answer to Mr. White's inquiries, I informed him that I needed it as a
printing-office, for a small business I had, and he quite beamed on me,
evidently considering me a deserving young person, and expressed the
opinion that he had no doubt I should get on in that neighbourhood.

M'Dermott, who was greatly enjoying the fun of the situation, here
broke in: "Yes, sir, my grand-daughter deserves success, sir; she's a
hardworking girl, is my poor Emily," and here he feigned to wipe away a
tear, whilst casting a most mischievous side-glance at me.

"Dear, dear, very affecting, I'm sure," muttered the prosperous
carriage-builder.

Everything was soon satisfactorily settled. I gave him my name and
address, and that of my brother's Socialist friend as a reference, and
we agreed that I should move in on the following Monday morning.

Great was the amusement at Slater's Mews at the account of our
adventures, given with a few enlargements by M'Dermott. He had an
artist's soul, and would never consent to destroy the effect of a tale
by slavish subservience to facts.

"Well, I fear he will find he has taken in wolves in sheep's clothing,"
Armitage remarked; "anyhow, I am thankful that matter is settled and
that we can get to work without further delay. I met Kosinski, and he
has promised to give us a hand with the move. I shall not be able to be
here all the time as I have to attend an operation on Monday, but I will
put in an hour or two's work in the morning. I suppose I can get in if
I come here at five on Monday morning?" he said turning to Short who was
"dissing pie," his inseparable clay pipe still firmly set between his
yellow and decayed teeth.

"Oh, yes. I shan't be up, but you can get in," the latter surlily
remarked. He was evidently no devotee of early hours.

On Monday a hard day's work awaited me. At Slater's Mews I found the
poor doctor, who had already been there some two hours, packing up
the literature, tying up forms, and occasionally turning to Short for
instruction or advice.

The latter, seated on a packing-case, was regaling himself on a bloater
and cheesecakes, having disposed of which he took up a flute and played
some snatches of music-hall melodies. He seemed quite unconcerned at
what took place around him, contenting himself with answering Armitage's
questions. Soon after I arrived on the scene Kosinski appeared. It was
the first time I had seen him since the memorable evening at Chiswick,
and I felt a little nervous in his presence, overcome by a half-guilty
fear lest he should think I was merely dallying, not working in true
earnest. I was conscious of my own sincerity of purpose, yet feared his
mental verdict on my actions, for I now realised that his uncompromising
words and scathing denunciation of dilettanteism had had much to do with
my recent conduct; more than all Armitage's enthusiastic propagandising,
much as I liked, and, indeed, admired the latter. Kosinski shook hands
with Armitage and Short. The latter had stepped forward and assumed an
air of unwonted activity, having pulled off his coat and rolled up his
shirt sleeves, and there he stood hammering up a form and whistling
"It ain't all Lavender"--very appropriate verses, considering the
surroundings. The Russian merely recognised my presence with a slight
bow, not discourteous, but characterised by none of the doctor's
encouraging benevolence; I, however, felt more honoured than snubbed,
and worked away with a will.

"Well, I must be going," said Armitage; "it is nearly ten, and at
half-past eleven I have an appointment at a patient's house. You will
stay, won't you, Kosinski, and help our comrades to move the plant?"

"I will do what I can," replied the Russian. "I do not understand
printing, but I will wheel the barrow, and do anything I may be told."

"That's right. Well, good luck to you, comrades. I will try and get
round about five. I suppose you will then be at the new place?"

"Oh, yes," I replied, "you will be in time to help us get things
ship-shape."

"Well, good-bye, Isabel; good-bye, comrades," and he was off.

For some time we all worked with a will. Kosinski was set to stowing
away the literature in packing-cases. Short "locked up" forms and
"dissed" pie, and I busied myself over various jobs. M'Dermott had
come round, and he stood at my elbow discussing the propaganda and
the situation generally. He was much rejoiced at the turn matters
were taking on the Continent, and deplored the lukewarmness of English
Anarchists. "You cannot have a revolution without revolutionists," was a
favourite phrase of his, and he was at no trouble to conceal his opinion
of most of the comrades. I was as yet too new to the movement and too
enthusiastic to endorse all his expressions, but the little man was
congenial to me; his Irish wit made him good company, and there was an
air of independent self-reliance about him that appealed to me.

"That Kosinski's a good fellow," he continued. "He knows what Revolution
means. Not but what there is good material in England too, but it is
_raw_ material, ignorant and apathetic, hoodwinked and bamboozled by the
political humbugs."

"Have you known Kosinski long?" I inquired, interrupting him, for I saw
he was fairly started on a long tirade.

"Oh, some seven years," he replied. "He was over here in '87 at the time
of the unemployed riots; he and I were at the bottom of a lot of that
movement, and we should have had all London in revolt had it not been
for the palaver and soft-soap of the official labour-leaders. After that
he went to America, and has only been back in England some six months."

Our preparations were now well advanced, and M'Dermott and I set out to
procure a barrow whereon to transport our belongings.

I had expected on my return to find everything in readiness. Short had
spoken as if he would work wonders, and I had hoped that within an hour
we should be off. What was my surprise, then, to find that during the
half-hour of my absence a change had come o'er the scene. Instead of
the noise of the mallet locking up forms, the melodious notes of a flute
greeted my ear as I approached the office, and I must confess that my
heart sank, though I was not yet prepared for the truth. On entering
I found things just as I had left them, not a whit more advanced, but
Short was again seated, and opposite him lounged the weak-kneed youth
whom I had noted on the occasion of my first group-meeting, Simpkins by
name, as I had since found out; between them stood the small hand-press
which Short had promised to take to pieces for removal, on the "bed" of
which now stood three bottles of ginger-beer, a parcel of repulsive and
indigestible-looking pastry, and a packet of tobacco. My look of dismay
and surprise was answered by Short, who explained that his friend had
come up, bringing with him the wherewithal for this carouse; which
statement Simpkins supplemented by the information that he had been
occupied that week in "planting" an aunt and possessing himself of his
share of the good lady's property.

"My married sister got in first, but father waited his opportunity, and
whilst they went out to 'ave a 'alf-pint at the pub round the corner, he
got in. They thought themselves mighty clever, for they had locked the
door and taken the key, but father got in by the scullery window
which they had forgotten to latch, and when they came back they found
themselves sold. The guv'nor's a sharp one, 'e is, but I was fly too; 'e
always keeps me short, grumbles 'cause I won't let myself be exploited
by the capitalists; but I did 'im this time. I 'ad a good old-fashioned
nose round whilst the guv'nor left me in charge whilst 'e went for a
drink, and I found ten bob the old girl 'ad 'idden away in a broken
teapot, so I just pocketed 'em. We planted 'er the day before yesterday;
she was insured for twelve quid, an' everything was done 'ansome.
Yesterday I felt awful bad, but to-day I thought I'd come an' see 'ow
the paiper was getting on."

"Well, you see we're moving," I said. "If you care to give us a hand
you'll be welcome. Come, Short, the barrow's here; let's get the things
down."

"Oh, I'm going to have a half-day off," was his cool reply; "I'm tired.
Armitage woke me up at five this morning, and I couldn't get any sleep
after he came, he made such a damned noise."

"But surely you're going to help us get this move over; to-morrow you
can sleep all day if you like."

"You can do as you like; I'm not going to move," was his only reply,
and he calmly filled his pipe and puffed luxuriously. Simpkins giggled
feebly; he evidently was wavering as to his proper course, but Short's
calm insolence won the day.

I confess that at the moment I was blind to the humour of the situation.
I fancy people with a keen sense of humour are rarely enthusiasts;
certainly when I began to see the ludicrous side of much of what I had
taken to be the hard earnest of life, my revolutionary ardour cooled.
My indignation was ready to boil over; I could have wept or stamped with
annoyance. "Oh, but you _must_ help!" I exclaimed. "You promised. How
are we ever to do anything if you go on like this?"

Short merely puffed at his pipe complacently.

For the first time since his arrival Kosinski spoke. I had almost
forgotten his presence; he was working quietly, getting things ready,
and now he stepped forward.

"The comrade is right," he said; "he does not want to work; leave him
alone; we can do very well without him. Let us get off at once. There is
enough ready to make a first load, anyhow."

The calm indifference of Kosinski seemed to take some of the starch out
of Short, who looked more than foolish as he sat over his ginger-beer,
trying to feign interest in the flagging conversation with Simpkins. I
was relieved at the turn matters had taken, which threw the ridicule on
the other side, and before long we were ready, little M'Dermott having
made himself very useful, running actively up and down the ladder laden
with parcels. We must have looked a queer procession as we set off. The
long stooping figure of Kosinksi, wrapped in his inseparable dark-blue
overcoat, his fair hair showing from under his billycock hat, pushing
the barrow, heavily laden with type-cases and iron forms, packets of
literature and reams of printing paper; I in my shabby black dress and
sailor hat, bearing the furled-up banner, and M'Dermott following on
behind, carrying with gingerly care a locked-up form of type, the work
of poor Armitage, which was in imminent danger of falling to pieces in
the middle of the street. We found that quite a crowd of loafers of both
sexes, the habitués of the "Myrtle Grove Tavern," had assembled outside
to witness our departure, and, as I never missed an opportunity to
spread the light, I distributed among them some hand-bills entitled
"What is Anarchy?" regardless of their decidedly hostile attitude. The
London loafer has little wit or imagination, and their comments did
not rise above the stale inquiry as to where we kept our bombs, and the
equally original advice bestowed upon Kosinksi to get 'is 'air cut. A
half-hour's walk brought us to our destination, but our Odyssey was not
so soon to end. The man who accompanied the carriage-builder when he
showed us over the shop was waiting at the entrance to the yard, and,
recognising me, he asked me to step into the office. He had a rather
scared appearance, but I did not notice this particularly at the moment,
and supposing that Mr. White wanted to give me the keys I told my
friends I should be back in a minute. The carriage-builder was awaiting
me in the little office where he usually received his fashionable
clients. He was still the self-same consequential figure, resplendent
in broadcloth and fine linen, but the benevolent smile had vanished from
his unctuous features, and he looked nervous and ill at ease.

"I am sorry to say, Miss Meredith," he began, "that I find I am unable
to let you the shop. I much regret having caused you inconvenience, but
it is quite impossible."

This was a staggerer for me. Everything had been settled. What could
have happened?

"What on earth does this mean?" I exclaimed. "Why, Saturday evening you
called at my house and told me you were satisfied with the references,
and that I could move in to-day."

The poor man looked quite scared at my indignation.

"I am very sorry, I assure you, but I cannot let you the shop," was all
he replied.

"But surely you will give me some explanation of this extraordinary
behaviour. I am not to be trifled with in this way, and if you will not
answer me I will get some of my friends to speak to you."

This last threat seemed quite to overcome him. He looked despairingly at
me, and then determined to throw himself on my mercy.

"Well, you see, the fact is I did not quite understand the nature of
your business--that is to say, I thought it was a printing business just
like any other."

Light dawned upon me. The police had evidently been at work here. I
was too new to the revolutionary movement to have foreseen all the
difficulties which beset the path of the propagandist.

"And since Saturday night you have come to the conclusion that it is
an _un_usual printing office?" I inquired somewhat derisively. I
could still see in my mind's eye the benevolent smile and patronising
condescension with which he had beamed on M'Dermott and me on the
occasion of our first meeting.

"You are a sensible person, Miss Meredith," he said, with an almost
appealing accent, "and you will, I am sure, agree with me that it
would be impossible for me to have revolutionary papers printed on my
premises. It would not be fair to my clients; it would interfere with my
business success. Of course every one has a right to their opinions, but
I had no idea that you were connected with any such party. In fact I
had gone out of town, and intended staying away two or three days when
yesterday afternoon I received this telegram," and he handed me the
document. It was from Scotland Yard, and warned him to return at once as
the police had something of importance to communicate.

"Of course I came back," continued the tremulous White. "At first I
thought it must be all a mistake, but I was shown a copy of the _Bomb_,
and told that that was what you intended printing. Now you must agree
that this is not a suitable place for such an office."

"I cannot see," I replied with some warmth, "that it can make any
difference to you what I print. I pay you your rent, and we are quits.
Of course if you refuse to give me the keys of the shop I cannot
force myself in, but I have reason to think that you will regret your
extraordinary conduct."

"Is that a threat?" inquired White, growing visibly paler, and glancing
nervously towards the door.

"No, it is only the expression of a personal opinion," I replied. At
this moment the door opened, and M'Dermott appeared.

"Well, are you coming with the keys? We are getting tired of waiting,"
he inquired.

"This man," said I, pointing with scorn at the abject carriage-builder,
"now refuses to let me the shop on the ground that he disapproves of
revolutionary literature."

M'Dermott gave a low whistle, "Oh, that's how the wind blows, is it?"
he remarked; "I thought I saw some 'narks' hanging round. So this is the
turn your benevolent interest in my grand-daughter has taken? Well,
come along, Isabel, we have no time to waste, and I am sure this good
gentleman will not feel comfortable till we are off the premises. He is
afraid we might waste some dynamite on him, I do believe."

At the word dynamite White seized a bell-pull and rang it violently,
and we could not help laughing heartily, as we left the office, at
his evident terror. Whilst crossing the yard we saw two well-known
detectives lurking on the premises. White had evidently thought it
necessary to take precautions against possible outrage.

We found Kosinski patiently waiting. He did not seem much surprised at
our news, and in answer to my inquiry as to what on earth we were to do,
he suggested that we should take the barrow back to Slater's Mews, and
then resume our search for a shop. This advice was so obvious and tame
that it almost surprised me coming from him, still there was nothing for
it, and back we went, looking somewhat more bedraggled (it had now come
on to rain) and decidedly crestfallen. We found Short as we had left
him, but I was still too indignant at his conduct to deign to answer
his inquiries. I was tired and worried, and could almost have wept with
annoyance. Kosinski at last came to the rescue. When he had brought the
last parcel up the stairs and deposited it on the floor he came up to
me.

"If you like we might go and look at a workshop I have heard of and
which might suit. Some German comrades rented it for some time; I
believe they used it as a club-room, but I dare say it would answer your
purpose, and I believe it is still unoccupied."

Of course I readily assented; it was indeed a relief to hear of some
definite proposal, and together we set off. Little M'Dermott, who
evidently did not much relish Short's company, armed himself with
leaflets and set off on a propagandising expedition, and Kosinski and I
wended our way in search of the office. At last we stopped in front of a
little green-grocer's shop in a side street off the Hampstead Road. "The
place I mean is behind here," explained Kosinski; "the woman in the shop
lets it; we will go in and speak with her."

Kosinski stepped inside and addressed a voluminous lady who emerged from
the back shop.

"Oh, good day, Mr. Cusins," she exclaimed, a broad smile overspreading
her face; "what can I do for you?"

Kosinksi explained our errand, and the good lady preceded us up a narrow
yard which led to the workshop in question. She turned out to be as
loquacious as she was bulky, a fair specimen of the good-natured cockney
gossip, evidently fond of the convivial glass, not over-choice in
her language, the creature of her surroundings, which were not of the
sweetest, but withal warm-hearted and sympathetic, with that inner
hatred of the police common to all who belong to the coster class, and
able to stand up for her rights, if necessary, both with her tongue and
her fists. She showed us over a damp, ill-lighted basement shop, in
a corner of which was a ladder leading to a large, light shop, which
seemed well suited to our purpose, meanwhile expatiating on its
excellencies. I was satisfied with it, and would have settled everything
in a few minutes, but Mrs. Wattles was not to be done out of her jaw.

"I'm sure you'll like this place, my dear, and I'm glad to let it to
you, for I've known your 'usband some time. I used to see 'im come when
those others Germans was 'ere, and----"

"Kosinski is not my husband," I interrupted. "I'm not married."

"Oh, I see, my dear; just keeping company, that's all. Well, I don't
blame yer; of course, 'e is a furriner; but I'm not one to say as
furriners ain't no class. I was in love with an I-talian organ-grinder
myself, when I was a girl, and I might 'ave married 'im for all I know,
ef 'e 'adn't got run in for knifin' a slop what was always a aggravatin'
'im, poor chap. And I don't say but what I shouldn't be as well off as
what I am now, for Wattles, 'e ain't much class."

I ventured some sympathetic interjection and tried to get away, but her
eye was fixed on me and I could not escape.

"It was a long time before I forgot 'im, and when my girl was born I
called 'er Ave Maria, which was a name I used to 'ear 'im say, and a
very pretty one too, though Wattles does say it's a 'eathen-sounding
name for the girl. I was just like you in those days, my dear," she
said, surveying my slim figure with a critical eye. "No one thought I
should make old bones, I was that thin and white, and nothin' seemed to
do me no good; I took physic enough to kill a 'orse, and as for heggs
an' such like I eat 'undreds. But, lor', they just went through me like
jollop. It was an old neighbour of ours as cured me; she said, says she,
'What you want, Liza, is stimilant; stout 'ud soon set you right.'
An' sure enough it did. I took 'er advice, an' I've never 'ad a day's
illness since, though Wattles's been mighty troublesome at times, and
would 'av driven me to my grave long ago if it 'adn't been for stout.
You should take it, miss; you'd soon be as like me, and as 'arty too.
Two glasses at dinner and two at supper is my allowance, and if I chance
to miss it, why I jest seems to fall all of a 'eap like, an' I 'ears my
in'ards a gnawin' and a gnawin' and a cryin' out for stout."

I felt quite overcome at this charming picture of my future self, if
only I followed Mrs. Wattles's advice. I expressed my intention of
thinking the matter over, and, after shaking hands, paying a deposit
on the rent--which she informed me she should expend in drinking my
health--and settling to move in on the morrow, I made good my escape.

Cheered and elated by our success, I returned with Kosinksi to the
office of the _Bomb_. He was naturally very nervous and reticent with
women, but the events of this long day had broken down some of the
barriers between us, and I found it less difficult to talk to him as we
trudged on our way.

"I hope you will help us with the new paper," I said. "I feel really
very unfit for the responsibility of such a task, but Armitage thinks
I shall manage all right, and I do not wish to be a mere amateur, and
shirk the hard work entailed by our propaganda. You see, I remember your
words that night at Chiswick. I hope you do not still think that I am
merely playing."

He positively blushed at my words, and stammered out: "Oh no, I do not
in the least doubt your sincerity. I am sure you do your best, only I
have seen so much harm done by women that I am always on my guard when
they propose to share in our work. But you are not a woman: you are a
Comrade, and I shall take much interest in your paper."

We met Armitage coming up Red Lion Street. He greeted us with a look
of relief. "Where on earth have you been?" he exclaimed; "I went to the
address you gave me, but when I inquired for you the fellow looked as
scared as if he had seen a ghost, and said he knew nothing about you,
that I must have made a mistake; and when I insisted and showed him the
address you had written, seemed to lose his head, and rang a bell and
called for help as if I were going to murder him. I thought he must
be mad or drunk, and so turned on my heel and came away. In the yard I
recognised some of our friends the detectives, and I felt quite anxious
about you. At Slater's Mews the door is locked; there is no light, and
nobody answered when I knocked. I am quite relieved to see you. I was
beginning to fear you had all got run in."

"Well, you see we are still alive and in fighting form. As you say the
_Bomb_ has closed, I suppose Short has gone off to the music-hall with
Simpkins, as he hinted at doing. Anyhow, come home with me; you too,
Kosinksi, if you don't mind; there is a lot to say, and many things
to settle, and we can settle everything better there than here in the
street."

My proposal was agreed to, and we all three repaired to Fitzroy Square,
where over a cup of tea we settled the last details of the move,
including the name of our new paper, which was to be known as the
_Tocsin_.



CHAPTER VI

A FOREIGN INVASION


Thus was the question of the new paper and its quarters settled. The
shop, as I had hoped, did well enough for our purposes. True, the
district in which it lay was neither salubrious nor beautiful, and the
constant and inevitable encounters with loquacious Mrs. Wattles and
her satellites something of a trial; but we were absorbed in our work,
absorbed in our enthusiasms, utterly engrossed in the thought of the
coming revolution which by our efforts we were speeding on.

During the first months, besides writing and editing the _Tocsin_, I
was very busily employed in learning how to set type, and print, and the
various arts connected with printing--and as I grew more proficient at
the work my share of it grew in proportion.

The original staff of the _Tocsin_ consisted of Armitage, Kosinksi, and
myself, with Short occupying the well-nigh honorary post of printer,
aided by occasional assistance or hindrance from his hangers-on. But our
staff gradually increased in number if not in efficiency; old M'Dermott
was a frequent and not unwelcome visitor, and as time went on he
gradually settled down into an inmate of the office, helping where he
could with the work, stirring up lagging enthusiasms, doing odd cobbling
jobs whenever he had the chance, and varying the proceedings with
occasional outbursts of Shakespearian recitation. These recitations were
remarkable performances, and made up in vigour for what they perhaps
lacked in elegance and _finesse_. Carter would at times put in an
appearance, mostly with a view to leaning up against a type-rack or
other suitable article of furniture, and there between one puff and
another at his pipe would grumble at the constitution of the universe
and the impertinent exactions of landlords. Another Englishman who in
the earlier days frequented the _Tocsin_ was a tall, thoughtful man
named Wainwright, belonging to the working-classes, who by the force of
his own intelligence and will had escaped from the brutishness of the
lowest depths of society in which he had been born.

Thus with little real outside assistance we worked through the spring
and early summer months. Besides bringing out our paper we printed
various booklets and pamphlets, organised Anarchist meetings, and during
some six weeks housed a French Anarchist paper and its staff, all of
whom had fled precipitately from Paris in consequence of a trial.

The lively French staff caused a considerable revolution in Lysander
Grove, which during several weeks rang with Parisian argot and Parisian
fun. Many of these Frenchmen were a queer lot. They seemed the very
reincarnation of Murger's Bohemians, and evidently took all the
discomforts and privations of their situation as a first-class joke.
Kosinksi detested them most cordially, though, spite of himself, he was
a tremendous favourite in their ranks, and the unwilling victim of the
most affectionate demonstrations on their part: and when, with a shrug
of his shoulders and uncompromising gait, he turned his back on his
admirers, they would turn round to me, exclaiming fondly--

_"Comme il est drole, le pauvre diable!"_

They could not understand his wrath, and were obstinately charmed at his
least charming traits. When he was singularly disagreeable towards them,
they summed him up cheerfully in two words, _Quel original!_ They soon
learned, however, not to take liberties with Kosinski, for when one
sprightly little man of their number, who affected pretty things in the
way of cravats and garters, presumed to dance him round the office, the
Russian, for once almost beside himself, seized his persecutor by the
shoulders and dropped him over the balustrade below, amid the cheers of
all present.

He appeared, however, to be their natural prey, and his quaint habit of
stumbling innocently into all manner of blunders was a perpetual fount
of amusement to the humour-loving Gauls. His timidity with women, too,
was a perennial joy, and innumerable adventures in which he figured as
hero were set afloat.

One little escapade of Kosinski's came somehow to the knowledge of the
French Comrades, and he suffered accordingly. Although careless and
shaggy enough in appearance in all conscience, Kosinski happened to be
fastidiously clean about his person. I doubt whether he was ever without
a certain small manicure set in his pocket, and an old joke among his
Russian friends was that he had failed to put in an appearance on
some important occasion--the rescue of a Nihilist from prison, I
believe--because he had forgotten his tooth-brush. This was of course a
libel and gross exaggeration, but his extreme personal cleanliness was
none the less a fact. Now when he first reached London he had scarcely
left the station, besooted and begrimed after his long journey, when his
eye was arrested by the appearance of a horse-trough. "Most opportune!"
mused Kosinski, "how public-spirited and hygienic this London County
Council really is!" and straightway divesting himself of his hat and
collar and similar encumbrances, and spreading out on the rim of the
trough his faithful manicure set and a few primitive toilette requisites
secreted about his person, he commenced his ablutions, sublimely
unconscious of the attention and surprise he was attracting. Before
long, however, a riotously amused crowd collected round, and the Russian
had finally to be removed under police escort, while attempting to
explain to the indignant officer of the law that he had merely taken
the horse-trough as a convenient form of public bath for encouraging
cleanliness among the submerged tenth.

With the departure of the _Ça-Ira_ the office resumed once more, during
a brief interval, the even tenor of its ways. Kosinski who, in a
spirit of self-preservation, had practically effaced himself during its
sojourn, made himself once more apparent, bringing with him a peculiar
Swede--a man argumentative to the verge of cantankerousness--who for
hours and days together would argue on obscure questions of metaphysics.
He had argued himself out of employment, out of his country, almost out
of the society and the tolerance of his fellows. Life altogether was one
long argument to this man, no act or word, however insignificant, could
he be induced to pass over without discussing and dissecting, proving or
disproving it. Free-love was his particular hobby, though this, too, he
regarded from a metaphysical rather than a practical point of view. Like
everything else in his life it was a matter for reason and argument, not
for emotion; and he and Kosinski would frequently dispute the question
warmly.

One day, not long before Christmas, and after I had been nearly a year
in the movement, when all London was lost in a heavy fog and the air
seemed solid as a brick wall, there landed at the _Tocsin_ a small batch
of three Italians fresh from their native country. It was the year of
the coercion laws in Italy, of the "domicilio coatto" (forced domicile),
and the Anarchists and Socialists were fleeing in large numbers from the
clutches of the law.

None of these Southerners had ever been in England before, and having
heard grim tales of the lack of sunshine and light in London, they took
this fog to be the normal condition of the atmosphere. Stumbling into
the lighted office from the blind stifling darkness outside, the
leader of the party, a remarkably tall handsome man well known to me by
reputation and correspondence, gave vent to a tremendous sigh of relief
and exclaimed in his native tongue:

"Thank Heaven, friends, we have overcome the greatest danger of all and
we are here at last, and still alive!"

They then advanced towards me and Avvocato Guglielmo Gnecco held out his
hand. "You are Isabel Meredith?" he said in a sonorous voice, and I gave
an affirmative nod. "I am very glad to meet you at last, Comrade," and
we all shook hands. "So this is London! I had heard grim enough tales of
your climate, but never had I conceived anything like this. It is truly
terrible! But how do you live here? How do you get through your work?...
How do you find your way about the streets? Why, we've been wandering
about the streets ever since eleven o'clock this morning, walking round
and round ourselves, stumbling over kerb-stones, appealing to policemen
and passers-by, getting half run over by carts and omnibuses and cabs.
Giannoli here sees badly enough at all times, but to-day he has only
escaped by the skin of his teeth from the most horrid series of deaths.
Is it not so, Giacomo?" Giannoli, who had been engaged in enthusiastic
greetings with Kosinski, who was evidently an old friend, looked up at
this.

"Oh, I've had too much of London already," he exclaimed fervently. "We
must leave here for some other country to-night or to-morrow at the
latest. We should be better off in prison in Italy than at liberty here.
You see, Comrade," he said, turning to me with a smile, "we Anarchists
all belong to one nationality, so I have no fear of wounding your
patriotic sentiments."

"But London is not always like this, I assure you," I began.

"Oh, make no attempt to palliate it," Gnecco interrupted. "I have heard
English people before now defending your climate. But I see now only too
well that my compatriots were right in calling it impossible, and saying
that you never saw the sun here," and all attempts to argue them out of
this conviction proved futile.

The avvocato, as above mentioned, was an exceptionally good-looking man.
Fully six feet two inches in height, erect and slim without being in
the least weedy, he carried his head with an air of pride and
self-confidence, and was altogether a very fine figure of a man. His
features were regular and well cut, his abundant hair and complexion
dark, and his eyes bright with the vivacity of the perennial youth of
the enthusiast. The delicacy of his features, the easy grace of his
walk, and the freedom and confidence of his manners, all suggested
his semi-aristocratic origin and upbringing. He was evidently a man of
romantic tastes and inclinations, governed by sentiment rather than by
reason; a lover of adventure, who had found in Anarchism an outlet for
his activities. His eloquence had made him a considerable reputation all
over Italy as an advocate, but the comparative monotony of the life of
a prosperous barrister was distasteful to him, and he had willingly
sacrificed his prospects in order to throw in his lot with the
revolutionary party.

Giannoli, in his way, was an equally interesting figure. Between Gnecco
and himself it was evident that there existed the warmest bonds of
fraternal affection--a sentiment whose fount, as I discovered later,
lay in a mutual attachment for a certain Milanese lady, who on her side
fully reciprocated their joint affection. Both these Italians were warm
exponents of the doctrine of free-love, and, unlike their more theoretic
Northern confréres, they carried their theories into practice with
considerable gusto. Many Anarchists of Teutonic and Scandinavian race
evidently regarded free-love as an unpleasant duty rather than as a
natural and agreeable condition of life--the chaff which had to be
swallowed along with the wheat of the Anarchist doctrines. I remember
the distress of one poor old Norwegian professor on the occasion of
his deserting his wife for a younger and, to him, far less attractive
woman--a young French studentess of medicine who practised her
emancipated theories in a very wholesale fashion.

"I felt that as an Anarchist it would have been almost wrong to repel
her advances," the distressed old gentleman confided to me. "Moreover,
it was ten years that I had lived with Rosalie, uninterruptedly....
_Cela devenait tout-à-fait scandaleux, Mademoiselle_.... I no longer
dared show myself among my comrades."

I felt quite sorry for the poor old fellow, a humble slave to
duty, which he performed with evident disgust, but the most heroic
determination.

Giannoli, when seen apart from Gnecco, was a tall man. But at the time
of his arrival in London he was already falling a victim to ill-health;
there was a bent, tired look about his figure, and his features
were drawn and thin. A glance at him sufficed to reveal a nervous,
highly-strung temperament; his movements were jerky, and altogether,
about his entire person, there was a noticeable lack of repose. He
was about thirty-five years of age, though he gave the impression of
a rather older man. The fact that he was very short-sighted gave a
peculiar look to his face, which was kindly enough in expression; his
features were pronounced, with a prominent nose and full, well-cut mouth
hidden by a heavy moustache. There was a look of considerable strength
about the man, and fanatical determination strangely blended with
diffidence--a vigorous nature battling against the inroads of some
mortal disease.

The third member of the trio was a shortish, thickset man of
extraordinary vigour. He somehow put me in mind of a strongly-built,
one-storey, stone blockhouse, and looked impregnable in every direction;
evidently a man of firm character, buoyed up by vigorous physique. He
was a man rather of character than of intellect, of great moral strength
rather than of intellectual brilliancy--a fighter and an idealist, not
a theoriser. I knew him very well by renown, for he was of European
fame in the Anarchist party, and the _bête noire_ of the international
police. Enrico Bonafede was a man born out of his time--long after it
and long before--whose tremendous energy was wasted in the too strait
limits of modern civilised society. In a heroic age he would undoubtedly
have made a hero; in nineteenth-century Europe his life was wasted and
his sacrifices useless. These men, born out of their generation, are
tragic figures; they have in them the power and the will to scale the
heights of Mount Olympus and to stem the ocean, while they are forced to
spend their life climbing mole-hills and stumbling into puddles.

Such, briefly, were the three men who suddenly emerged from the fog into
the office of the _Tocsin_, and who formed the vanguard of our foreign
invasion. All three were at once sympathetic to me, and I viewed their
advent with pleasure. We celebrated it by an unusually lavish banquet
of fried fish and potatoes, for they were wretchedly cold and hungry
and exhausted after a long journey and almost equally long fast, for of
course they all arrived in a perfectly penniless condition.

Seated round a blazing fire in M'Dermott's _eleutheromania_ stove (the
old fellow had a passion for sonorous words which he did not always
apply quite appositely) the Italians related the adventures of their
journey and discussed future projects. As the fog grew denser with the
advance of evening, and it became evident that lodging-searching was
quite out of the question for the time being, it was agreed that we
should all spend the night in the office, where heaps of old papers
and sacking made up into not altogether despicable couches. Moreover,
publication date was approaching, and at such times we were in the habit
of getting later and later in the office, the necessity for Short's
assistance rendering it impossible to get the work done in an
expeditious and business-like way.

We worked on far into the night, the Italians helping us as best they
could with the printing, one or other occasionally breaking off for a
brief respite of slumber. We talked much of the actual conditions in
Italy, and of the situation of the Anarchist party there; of how to keep
the revolutionary standard afloat and the Anarchist ideas circulating,
despite coercion laws and the imprisonment and banishment of its most
prominent advocates. Kosinksi joined enthusiastically in the discussion,
and the hours passed rapidly and very agreeably. I succeeded at length
in dissuading Giannoli and Gnecco from their original intention of
precipitate flight, partly by repeatedly assuring them that the state of
the atmosphere was not normal and would mend, partly by bringing their
minds to bear on the knotty question of finance.

The three Italians settled in London; Gnecco and Bonafede locating
themselves in the Italian quarter amid most squalid surroundings; while
for Giannoli I found a suitable lodging in the shape of a garret in the
Wattles's house which overlooked the courtyard of the _Tocsin_. They
were frequently in the office, much to the indignation of Short, who
could not see what good all "those ---- Foreigners did loafing about."
Short, in fact, viewed with the utmost suspicion any new-comers at the
_Tocsin_.

"These foreigners are such a d----d lazy lot," he would say; "I hate
them!" and there was all the righteous indignation in his tones of the
hard-worked proletariat whose feelings are harrowed by the spectacle of
unrighteous ease. Short had a habit of making himself offensive to every
one, but for some mysterious reason no one ever took him to task over
it. It was impossible to take Short seriously, or to treat him as you
would any other human being. When he was insolent people shrugged
their shoulders and laughed, when he told lies they did not deign
to investigate the truth, and thus in a despised and unostentatious
way--for he was not ambitious of _réclame_--he was able to do as much
mischief and set as many falsehoods afloat as a viciously-inclined
person with much time on his hands well can. His physical and mental
inferiority was his stock-in-trade, and he relied on it as a safeguard
against reprisals.

After a prolonged period of fog the real severity of the winter set in
towards the end of January. One February morning, after all manner
of mishaps and discomfort, and several falls along the slippery icy
pavement, I arrived at the office of the _Tocsin_. The first thing that
struck my eye on approaching was the unusual appearance of the Wattles's
greengrocery shop. The shutters were closed, the doors still unopened.
"What has happened?" I inquired of a crony standing outside the
neighbouring pub. "Surely no one is dead?"

"Lor' bless yer, no, lydy," answered the old lady, quite unperturbed,
"yesterday was the hanniversary of old Wattles's wedding-day, and
they've been keepin' it up as usual. That's all."

I was about to pass on without further comment when my attention was
again arrested by the sound of blows and scuffling inside the shop,
mingled with loud oaths in the familiar voice of my landlady, and hoarse
protests and entreaties in a masculine voice.

"But surely," I urged, turning once more to my previous informant,
"there is something wrong. What is all that noise?" as cries of "Murder!
murder!" greeted my ear.

"Why, I only just told you, my dear," she responded, still quite
unmoved, "they've been celebratin' their silver weddin' or somethin' of
the sort. It's the same every year. They both gets roarin' drunk, and
then Mrs. Wattles closes the shop next mornin' so as to give 'im a jolly
good 'idin'. You see, these hanniversaries make 'er think of all she's
'ad to put up with since she married, and that makes things a bit rough
on poor old Jim."

Perceiving my sympathy to be wasted I proceeded, and on entering the
office of the _Tocsin_ I found that here, too, something unusual was
going on.

A perfect Babel of voices from the room above greeted my ear, while
the printing-room was bedecked with a most unsightly litter of tattered
garments of nondescript shape and purpose laid out to dry. I was not
surprised at this, however, as I had long grown used to unannounced
invasions. Unexpected persons would arrive at the office, of whom nobody
perhaps knew anything; they would stroll in, seat themselves round the
fire, enter into discussion, and, if hungry, occasionally partake of
the _plat du jour_. The most rudimentary notions of Anarchist etiquette
forbade any of us from inquiring the name, address, or intentions
of such intruders. They were allowed to stay on or to disappear as
inexplicitly as they came. They were known, if by any name at all, as
Jack or Jim, Giovanni or Jacques, and this was allowed to suffice. Every
Anarchist learns in time to spot a detective at first sight, and we
relied on this instinct as a safeguard against spies.

But on reaching the composing-room on this particular morning an
extraordinary sight presented itself. Accustomed as I was to the
unaccustomed, I was scarcely prepared for the wild confusion of the
scene. What at first sight appeared to be a surging mass of unwashed and
unkempt humanity filled it with their persons, their voices, and their
gestures. No number of Englishmen, however considerable, could have
created such a din. All present were speaking simultaneously at the top
of their voices; greetings and embraces mingled with tales of adventure
and woe. The first object which I managed to distinguish was the figure
of Giannoli struggling feebly in the embrace of a tall brawny, one-eyed
man with thick curling black hair, who appeared to be in a state of
demi-déshabille. By degrees a few other familiar figures became one by
one discernible to me as I stood mute and unobserved at the head of the
stairs. Bonafede and Gnecco were there; they, too, surrounded by the
invading mob, exchanging greetings and experiences. Old M'Dermott,
standing up against his stove, was striking a most impressive attitude,
for the old fellow had to live up to the reputation he had established
among foreigners of being the greatest orator in the English
revolutionary party. Two cloddish-looking _contadini_ stood gazing
at him, rapt in awe. Kosinksi stood little apart from the rest, not a
little bewildered by the enthusiastic reception which had been accorded
him by old friends. In one corner, too, I recognised my old friend
Short, fully dressed, as usual, in his frowsy clothes, as though
eternally awaiting the call-to-arms, the long-delayed bugles of the
social revolution; there he lay, much as when I first set eyes on him,
wrapped up in old banners and rugs, blinking his eyes and muttering
curses at the hubbub which had thus rudely interrupted his slumbers.

The others were quite new to me. They were evidently all of them
Italians--some ten or twelve in number--though at the first glance,
scattered as they were pell-mell among the printing plant of the
overcrowded work-room, they gave an impression of much greater number.
They appeared mostly to belong to the working-classes. Their clothes,
or what remained of them, were woefully tattered--and they were few and
rudimentary indeed, for most of what had been spared by the hazards
of travel were drying down below. Their hair was uncut, and beards
of several days' growth ornamented their cheeks. Their hats were of
incredible size and shape and all the colours of the rainbow seemed to
be reproduced in them. Littered around on divers objects of furniture,
they suggested to me a strange growth of fungi.

My advent, as soon as it was perceived amid the confusion and noise
of the scene, created something of a sensation, for by now my name
had become well known in the International Anarchist party. "Isabel
Meredith" was exclaimed in all manner of new and strange intonations,
and a host of hands were extended towards me from all directions.

At last Gnecco managed to make his voice heard above the din of his
compatriots. "All these comrades," he explained in Italian, "have
escaped like ourselves from the savage reaction which actually holds
Italy in its sway. They arrived this morning after a fearful journey
which lack of money compelled them to make mostly on foot."

Before he could get any further an outburst of song interrupted his
words as the whole band broke into an Anarchist war-whoop. This over,
my attention was arrested by the groans of a dark young man of
extraordinarily alert physiognomy who had shed his boots and was gazing
dolefully at his wounded feet. "What would I not give," he exclaimed,
"to be back in prison in Lugano! Oh for the rest and comfort of those
good old times!" He was utterly worn out, poor fellow, nipped up with
the cold, and seemed on the verge of tears.

"Well," exclaimed M'Dermott at last, "propaganda implies propagandists,
and propagandists entail bellies! All these fellows seem pretty well
starving. What would they say to a little grub?"

On my interpreting the old fellow's suggestion he and it were received
with universal acclaim. Bonafede produced from the innermost depths of
his pockets a huge quantity of macaroni which was put on to boil, and
several bottles of wine; one of the new arrivals, a sober-looking young
fellow with a remarkably long nose, contributed an enormous lobster
which he had acquired _en route_, while Kosinski volunteered to fetch
bread and other provender. A Homeric repast ensued, for all these
Anarchists had cultivated the digestions of camels; they prepared for
inevitable fasts by laying in tremendous stores when chance and good
fortune permitted. While they were eating a noticeable silence fell on
the scene, and I had leisure to observe the immigrants more in detail.

Beppe, the tall, one-eyed man, already referred to, seemed to be the
life and spirit of the band. He was a rollicking good-natured fellow,
an unpolished _homme du peuple_, but not inadmirable in his qualities of
courage and cheerfulness--the kind of man who would have cracked a
joke on his death-bed and sung lustily _en route_ to the gallows. He
possessed, too, a heroic appetite, and as he made away with enormous
heaps of macaroni his spirits rose higher and higher and his voice rose
with them.

The long-nosed youth was something of an enigma. From the scraps of
conversation which, during the repast, fell principally on the subject
of food, or the lack of food, during the tramp, I gathered that they had
relied principally on his skill and daring in the matter of foraging
to keep themselves from actually dying of hunger on their journey. Yet
there was about him such a prudent and circumspect air that he might
well have hesitated to pick up a pin that "wasn't his'n." He was
evidently of an acquisitive turn, however, for over his shoulder
was slung a bag which appeared to contain a collection of the most
heterogeneous and unserviceable rubbish conceivable. "_Eh!... possono
servire!_" ... was all he would volunteer on the subject when I once
chaffed him on the subject of his findings. "They may serve yet!..."

Somehow this youth struck me at once as a man who had made a mistake.
At home as he appeared to be among his comrades, there was yet something
about him which suggested that he was out of his proper sphere in the
midst of the Anarchists, that he was _desorienté_. He was cut out for an
industrious working-man, one that would rise and thrive in his business
by hard work and thrift; he was destined by nature to rear a large
family and to shine in the ranks of excellent family men. He was moulded
for the threshold, poor boy, neither for the revolutionary camp nor for
the scaffold, and it was thwarted domestic instinct which led him to
steal. There was good nature in his face and weakness; it was the
face of a youth easily led, easily influenced for good or bad. As a
revolutioniser of his species he was predestined to failure, for years
would certainly show him the error of his ways. Old age seemed to be his
proper state, and youth in him was altogether a blunder and a mistake.
I found myself vainly speculating what on earth could have led him among
the Anarchists.

The others comprised a silent young artisan who was evidently
desperately in earnest with his ideas, a red-haired, red-bearded Tuscan
of clever and astute aspect, a singularly alert and excitable-looking
young man of asymmetrical features, who looked half fanatic, half
criminal, and others of the labouring and peasant class. One other of
their number arrested my attention, a stupid, sleepy young man, who
seemed quite unaffected by the many vicissitudes of his journey. His
features were undefined and his complexion undefinable, very greasy
and suggestive of an unwholesome fungus. He was better dressed than his
companions, and from this fact, combined with his intonation, I gathered
that he belonged to the leisured classes. There was something highly
repellent about his smooth yellow face, his greasiness and limp, fat
figure. M'Dermott christened him the "Buttered muffin."

Dinner over, the one-eyed baker, Beppe, proceeded to give us their news,
and to recount the vicissitudes of their travels. Gnecco and Giannoli
were anxious for news of comrades left behind in Italy. So-and-so was in
prison, another had remained behind in Switzerland, a third had turned
his coat, and was enjoying ill-gotten ease and home, others were either
dead or lost to sight.

The present party, who were mostly Northern Italians, had left Italy
shortly after Giannoli and Gnecco, and had since spent several weeks
in Italian Switzerland, whence at last they had been expelled in
consequence of the circulation of an Anarchist manifesto. Beppe gave
a glowing account of their stay in Lugano, and consequent flight to
London. "You know," he said, "that I reached Lugano with two hundred
francs in my pocket in company with all these comrades who hadn't got
five francs among them. It is not every one who could have housed them
all, but I did. I could not hire a Palazzo or a barrack for them, but
we managed very comfortably in one large room. There were fourteen of
us besides la Antonietta. There was only one bed, but what a size! We
managed well enough by sleeping in two relays. However, even in two
relays it took some organisation to get us all in. It was a fine double
bed, you know, evidently intended for three or four ... even for five
it was suitable enough, but when it came to seven!... there was not much
room for exercise, I can tell you.... But with four at the top and three
at the bottom, we managed, and Antonietta slept on a rug in a cupboard.
We did our best to make her comfortable by sacrificing half our clothes
to keep her warm, but we might have saved ourselves the trouble, for she
deserted us for the first bourgeois who came along. She was not a true
comrade, but I will tell you all about her later on.

"We had some trouble with the landlord, a thick-headed bourgeois who got
some stupid idea into his head about overcrowding. I have no patience
with these bourgeois prejudices. One day he came round to complain about
our numbers, and at not receiving his rent. But we were prepared for
him. We assembled in full force, and sang the _Marseillaise_ and the
_Inno dei Lavoratori_, and danced the _Carmagnole_. I took out my eye
and looked very threatening--one glance at us was enough for the old
fellow. He made the sign of the cross and fled before we had time to
tear him to pieces.

"Well, my two hundred francs was a very large sum, and not paying the
rent was economical, but it dwindled, and I had to look round again for
ways and means to feed us all. The money came to an end at last and
then the real struggle began. Old Castellani, the landlord, kept a large
stock of sacks of potatoes in a cellar, and every day he used to go in
and take a few out for his own use, and then lock the cellar up again,
mean old brute! But once again I was one too many for him. I collected
large quantities of stones in the day-time, and then at night with a
skeleton key I had acquired--it came out of Meneghino's bag which
we always jeered at--I let myself in and from the farthest sacks I
abstracted potatoes and refilled them with stones. I calculated that at
the slow rate he used them he would not notice his loss till March. What
a scene there will be then, _Misericordia_! During the last fortnight of
our stay we lived almost entirely on my potatoes. I don't know how the
devil they would all have got on without me. It is true that a waitress
at the Panetteria Viennese fell in love with Meneghino, and used to pass
him on stale bread; but then you all know his appetite! He ate it
nearly all himself on the way home. One day I sent Bonatelli out
to reconnoitre. He returned with _one mushroom_!" It would be quite
impossible to convey an idea of the intense contempt contained in
these last words. It was a most eloquent denunciation of impotence and
irresolution.

"All the same we had a grand time in Lugano. And the week I and
Migliassi spent in prison was a great treat. Why, they treated us like
popes, I can tell you--as much food as you like, and the best quality
at that; no work, a comfortable cell, and a bed all to yourself! And the
bread! I never tasted anything like it in my life: they sent to Como for
it all. Lugano bread was not good enough. Ah, Swiss prisons are a grand
institution, and I hope to spend a happy old age in such a place yet.

"Then came Bonafede's manifesto, and that scoundrel Costanzi betrayed
us all to the police. Then the real trouble began. We had not ten
francs among the lot of us, and we twelve had orders to clear out of the
country within forty-eight hours! Once again they were all at a loss but
for me!" and here he tapped his forehead in token of deference to his
superior wits. "I had noticed the fat letters Morì received from home
the first day of every month, and how jolly quiet he kept about them.
I also noticed that he used to disappear for a day or two after their
receipt, and return very sleepy and replete, with but scant appetite for
dry bread and potatoes."

At this point Morì, the greasy Neapolitan youth, blinked his eyes and
laughed foolishly. He seemed neither ashamed of himself nor indignant at
his companions, merely sluggishly amused.

"Well," continued Meneghino, "that letter was just due, and I
intercepted it. It contained one hundred and eighty francs; would you
believe me? and that went some way to get us over here. Altogether we
managed to collect sufficient money to carry us to the Belgian frontier,
and for our passage across from Ostend. But that tramp across Belgium,
_dio boia_!"

Here a clamour of voices interrupted Beppe, as each one of the
travellers chimed in with a separate account of the horrors of that
ghastly tramp across country in mid-winter.

For many years Europe had not experienced such an inclement season.
Everywhere the cold counted innumerable victims. Along the country
highways and byways people dropped down frozen to death, and the paths
were strewn with the carcasses of dead birds and other animals who had
succumbed to the inclemency of the elements. All the great rivers
were frozen over, and traffic had to be suspended along them. Unwonted
numbers of starving sea-gulls and other sea-birds flocked to London in
search of human charity, for the very fishes could not withstand the
cold, and the inhospitable ocean afforded food no longer to its winged
hosts. All Europe was under snow; the railways were blocked in many
places, and ordinary work had to be suspended in the great cities;
business was at a stand-still.

Neither the temperaments nor the clothes of these Italians had been
equal to the exigencies of their march in the cruel Northern winter. As
they tramped, a dismal, silent band across Belgium, the snow was several
feet deep under foot, and on all sides it stretched hopelessly to the
horizon, falling mercilessly the while. Their light clothing was ill
adapted to the rigours of the season; boots gave out, food was scanty
or non-existent, and they had to rely entirely on the fickle chances of
fortune to keep body and soul together. By night, when chance allowed,
they had crept unobserved into barns and stables, and, lying close up
against the dormant cattle, they had striven to restore animation to
their frozen limbs by means of the beasts' warm breath. Once an
old farm-woman had found them, and, taking pity on their woebegone
condition, had regaled the whole party on hot milk and bread; and this
was now looked back on as a gala day, for not every day had afforded
such fare. At times in the course of their weary tramp the Anarchists
had made an effort to keep up their flagging spirits by means of song,
revolutionary and erotic, but such attempts had usually fallen flat,
and the little band of exiles had relapsed into gloomy silence as they
tramped on noiselessly through the snow. One of their number had quite
broken down on the road and they had been compelled to leave him behind.
"Lucky fellow, that Morelli," exclaimed Meneghino, "enjoying good broth
in a hospital while we were still trudging on through that infernal
snow!"

"And Antonietta?" inquired Giannoli, when the relation of these
adventures had terminated. "You have not yet told us her end, nor how
she incurred your displeasure."

"Oh, Antonietta!" exclaimed Beppe. "I was forgetting. You who believed
her to be such a sincere comrade will scarcely credit her baseness. She
ran away with a horrible bourgeois; she was lured away from the Cause by
a bicycle! Yes, Antonietta weighed a bicycle in the scales against the
Social Revolution, and found the Social Revolution wanting! So much for
the idealism of women! Never speak to me of them again. The last we
saw of her she was cycling away in a pair of breeches with a disgusting
banker. She laughed and waved her hand to us mockingly, and before we
had time to utter a word she was gone. I never shall believe in a woman
again!"

His indignation choked him at this point, and only the expression of his
mouth and eye told of the depth of scorn and disgust which he felt for
the young lady who had thus unblushingly cycled away from the Social
Revolution.



CHAPTER VII

THE OFFICE OF THE _TOCSIN_


To the ordinary citizen whose walk in life lies along the beaten track
there is a suggestion of Bohemianism about the office of any literary or
propagandist organ; but I doubt whether the most imaginative among them
in their wildest moments have ever conceived any region so far removed
from the conventions of civilised society, so arbitrary in its hours and
customs, so cosmopolitan and so utterly irrational as the office of the
_Tocsin_.

In other chapters I attempt to describe the most noticeable among the
genuine Anarchists who belonged to it, but I wish here to convey some
faint idea of the strange medley of outside cranks and _déclassés_ whose
resort it in time became. There appeared to be a magnetic attraction
about the place to tramps, _désoeuvrés_ cranks, argumentative people
with time on their hands, and even downright lunatics. Foreigners of all
tongues assembled in the office--Russians, Italians, French, Spaniards,
Dutch, Swedes, and before very long they practically swamped the English
element. The Anarchist and revolutionary party has always been more
serious on the Continent than in England, and what genuine Anarchists
there are here are mostly foreigners.

Trades and industries of the most heterogeneous kinds were carried on
at the _Tocsin_ by unemployed persons who could find no other refuge for
their tools nor outlet for their energies. In one corner old M'Dermott
settled down with his lasts and leather, and there industriously
hammered away at his boots, alternating his work with occasional
outbursts of Shakespearian recitation. In winter the old fellow was
positively snowed up in the office, where he crouched shivering over the
fire until the advent of spring revived him. On the first warm sunny
day he suddenly flung down his tools, and rushing out into the courtyard
amazed and terrified Mrs. Wattles and her colleagues by shouting at the
top of his voice, "Let me shout, let me shout, Richard's himself again!"
"'E gave me such a turn, Miss, with 'is carryin's on that I got the
spasims again, an' I don't know what ever I shall do if I can't find
the price of a 'alf-quartern o' gin." And I took the hint, for Mrs.
Wattles's alliance was no despicable possession among the savages of
Lysander Grove.

A shed was erected in the corner of the composing-room, which served by
night as a dormitory for numbers of otherwise roofless waifs, and here
during the daytime a young Belgian and his wife set up a small factory
of monkeys up sticks, which when completed they proceeded to sell in the
streets. In another corner two Italians settled down to manufacture a
remarkable new kind of artificial flower with which they traded when
opportunity permitted. Small plaster-casts of Queen Victoria and Marat
were also manufactured here. When the influx of starving Italians
necessitated it, a kind of soup-kitchen was inaugurated over which Beppe
presided, and very busy he was kept too, manufacturing _minestras_
and _polenta_, a welcome innovation to me, I may mention, after a long
régime of small and nauseous tarts, bread and jam, and cheese. In
short, the headquarters of the _Tocsin_, besides being a printing and
publishing office, rapidly became a factory, a debating club, a school,
a hospital, a mad-house, a soup-kitchen and a sort of Rowton House, all
in one.

When I look back on the scene now, and recall all the noise and hubbub,
the singing, the discussions and disputes, the readings, the hammerings
on this side, the hangings on that, the feeding, and M'Dermott's
Shakespearian recitations, I find it very difficult to realise the
amount of hard work which I and the other few serious and earnest
comrades got through.

The chief impediment to the progress of the work, however, was Short,
the compositor. On close acquaintance with this creature, I found that
he did not belie my first impression of him as the laziest and most
slovenly of men; and I soon realised the two dominant characteristics
which had made of him a Socialist--envy and sloth. So deeply was he
imbued with envy that he was quite unable to rest so long as anyone else
was better off than himself; and although he did not care one jot
for "humanity" of which he prated so freely, and was incapable of
regenerating a flea, he found in a certain section of the Socialist and
Anarchist party that degree of dissatisfaction and covetousness which
appealed to his degraded soul. Besides which the movement afforded him
grand opportunities for living in sloth and sponging on other people.

Short was not without his humorous side, however, when only you were in
the right mood to appreciate it. His envy of the superiority which he
noted in others was only equalled by his intense contempt for himself.

I can still picture the poor brute lying with his dog in a corner of
the office amid a heap of rubbish, unwashed, unkempt (he never divested
himself of his clothes), and verminous in the extreme. There he would
blow discordant notes on a mouth-organ, or smoke his rank old pipe, eat
jam tarts, and scowl his wrath and envy on the world. If he could get
hold of some unoccupied person to whom he could retail all the latest
bits of Anarchist scandal, or from whom he could ferret out some little
private secrets, he was contented enough, or, leaning out of the
office window he would deliver a short autobiographical sketch to the
interested denizens of the surrounding courts. A small bill, posted
outside the office door, announced that Short was prepared to undertake
extraneous jobs of printing on his own account; and this was responsible
for many of the queer customers who found their way to the office of the
_Tocsin_.

One of the queerest of all the queer oddities who haunted it was a small
man of hunted aspect, known to every one as the "Bleeding Lamb." He had
acquired this peculiar name from the title of a booklet which he had
written under the direct inspiration of the Holy Ghost, a sort
of interpretation of the Apocalypse, wherein was foretold a rapid
termination of the universe. The printing of the "Bleeding Lamb" was
undertaken by Short, whose dilatoriness in executing his work doubtless
prolonged by a few years the existence of the terrestrial globe.

There was all the fervour of a prophet in the eye of the "Bleeding
Lamb," but inspiration ceased here, and even what there was of inspired
and prophetic in his eye was overcast by a certain diffident and
deprecating look. He was the victim, poor man, of a twofold persecution
in which heaven and earth joined hands to torment him--the archangel
Michael and the Metropolitan police being the arch offenders.

One of the first things that struck you about the Bleeding Lamb was the
helpless look of his feet. They were for ever shuffling and stumbling,
getting in the way, and tripping up himself and others. His hands too
had a flabby and inefficient expression, and his knees were set at a
wrong angle. His stature was insignificant, his colouring vague; longish
hair and beard of a colourless grey matched the grey of his prophetic
and persecuted eye.

He would enter the office furtively, and cast a rapid glance round as
though he almost expected to find the archangel Michael or an inspector
of the Metropolitan police lurking in a corner, and it would take
him some few seconds before he could muster up sufficient courage to
inquire, as was his invariable custom, whether anyone had been round to
ask after him. On being assured that no one had called for that
purpose he appeared relieved, and gradually, as he became more and more
reassured, he would warm to his subject of the coming cataclysm, and
launch out into prophecy. "Ah," he exclaimed to me one day after a long
discourse on the universal destruction at hand, "won't Queen Victoria
just shiver in her shoes when she receives the revised edition of the
'Bleeding Lamb.' Little does she dream at this moment of what is in
store for her." I recollect also that Nelson was in some way connected
with his prophecies and his perplexities, but in what particular
connection is not quite clear to my mind. The sympathy which he
apparently felt for the Anarchists was, I suppose, due to the fact that
they too were engaged--on a somewhat smaller scale it is true--on a
policy of destruction, and also to their avowed antagonism to the law
and the police, whether metropolitan or otherwise.

The Bleeding Lamb had a formidable rival in the field of prophecy in
the person of another strange frequenter of our office--a demure-looking
gentleman named Atkinson who professed to be the reincarnation of
Christ, and who preached the millennium. He was a less depressed-looking
person than the Bleeding Lamb--whom he treated with undisguised
contempt--and affected a tall hat and Wellington boots. The Lamb, on his
side, denounced the Messiah as a fraud, and went so far as to suggest
that he had only taken to prophecy when the alteration in the fashion of
ladies' pockets compelled him to abandon his original profession. "That
Lamb is not quite right in the upper storey," whispered Atkinson to
me one day; "he may even become dangerous, poor creature!" Shortly
afterwards I was taken aside by the gentleman in question who warned me
to keep my purse in safety as "that Messiah is no better than a common
thief."

The approach of either of these prophets was invariably the signal for a
stampede on Short's part, who, never having completed his work, dreaded
encountering the mournful scrutiny and reproachful bleating of the Lamb
no less than the sad, stern rebukes and potential Wellington boots of
the Messiah. Into no single item of the day's programme did he put
so much zest as into the grand dive he would make into any available
hiding-place, and he would lie for hours flat on his stomach under
M'Dermott's bed sooner than "face the music."

One day the perspiring Lamb entered the office red in the face and
considerably out of breath, rapidly followed by a lugubrious individual,
talking volubly in an argumentative monotone. This person seemed to be
very indignant about something.

"Marcus Aurelius was a just ruler and a philosopher," he was saying,
"and he saw the necessity for suppressing the Christian factions. He was
among the severest persecutors of the early Christians.--What does that
argue, you fool?"

"Nothing against my contention with regard to the seven-headed beast in
the Apocalypse," replied the Bleeding Lamb with a defiant snort.

"The seven-headed beast has nothing to do with the case," retorted his
interlocutor, putting all the warmth into his monotonous drawl of which
he appeared capable. "The seven-headed beast can't alter history, and
my case is conclusively proved in the course of this little work, to
the production of which I have devoted the best years of my life.
The seven-headed beast indeed! Pshaw for your seven-headed beast, you
dunder-headed dreamer!"

Whilst I gazed on dumbfounded at this little scene, making futile
efforts to grasp the vexed point under discussion, the strange
new-comer, whom the Lamb addressed as Gresham, deposited on the floor
a huge and shapeless brown-paper parcel, under whose weight he was
staggering, and sitting down by its side he carefully untied the string,
and dragged triumphantly forth tome after tome of carefully-written
MSS., which he proceeded to read out without further preamble.

"'Atheism _v._ Christianity,'" he drawled, commencing at the title,
"'being a short treatise on the Persecutions of the Early Christians,
the object of which is to prove that they were persecuted by the just
emperors and protected by the unjust; that, consequently, they were
wrong; that Christianity is wrong, and the Deity a palpable fraud;
by Tobias Jonathan Gresham,'--and let the seven-headed beast in the
Apocalypse put that in his pipe and smoke it!" casting a defiant glance
at the Bleeding Lamb.

As this concluding remark was made in the same monotone as the foregoing
sentence, I was at some loss to determine whether or not it formed part
of the title of that momentous work.

The Bleeding Lamb here cast me a knowing glance, which said as plainly
as words that his unfortunate acquaintance was mad, but that it was as
well to humour him, and so he magnanimously sat down on a stool facing
his rival, while the latter proceeded to read out his book, which was
destined soon to mount up the long list of Short's sins of typographical
omissions. This was but the herald of a long series of readings from
the "short treatise," which were carried on at intervals for some weeks.
Minute after minute and hour after hour Gresham drawled on from one
tedious reiteration to another, never raising his voice nor altering
its key, till a sense of dizziness overcame his audience, and his voice
became as the singing in one's ears which accompanies high fever or
heralds a faint. Indeed I have never suffered from fever or faintness
since that date without my sensations recalling Gresham's dreary,
argumentative drawl; then gradually his voice would grow fainter and
somewhat spasmodic, until at length it gave way to snores, as the weary
Lamb and the atheist Lion, like the kid and the leopard of Isaiah, sank
down together in a confused heap on the floor, and there slept out a
miniature fulfilment of the word of the prophet.

Then there was a Polish count who found his way to the _Tocsin_--a most
deplorable aristocratic débris, who might have stepped straight out of
the pages of Dostoievsky. I never set eyes on a more depressed-looking
mortal than Count Voblinsky. He looked as though he bore on his bent
shoulders the weight of all the ill-spent lives in Christendom. He was
a damp, unwholesome-looking man, whose appearance suggested long
confinement in a cellar. He was pale and hollow-eyed, and almost mouldy;
altogether a most cadaverous-looking person. He was always attired, even
at eleven A.M., in an old dress suit, green and threadbare with age, and
a furry tall hat, into which garments he seemed to have grown and taken
root. But despite the decay of his person and his attire, there was a
certain degree of aristocratic refinement about Voblinsky's features,
last ghastly traces of his ancient nobility. He vaguely recalled to my
mind a long-ago Continental trip of my childhood, and an unfortunate
elephant in the Marseilles Jardin des Plantes who, from long inactivity
in the corner of his cage, had become overgrown with moss. There was the
same incongruous touch of erstwhile nobility, the same decay, the same
earthy smell. By what shady and circuitous paths had the unfortunate
count reached this unhappy pass? Perhaps his wife was responsible;
for if ever woman was calculated not to lead her mate on to higher and
better things it was the Countess Voblinska. The countess was worse
than slovenly: she was downright dirty. Her tumbled, frowsy hair, with
patches of golden dye in it, was surmounted by an appalling hat of
incongruous dimensions and shape, trimmed with what appeared to be
archaeological relics, thick in dust. To approach it brought on a
perfect paroxysm of sneezing. Her clothes, which were very greasy and
never brushed, hung together by strings, tatters, and safety-pins. Her
hands and face were begrimed with several coats of dirt, and a top coat
of _poudre de riz_. No ordinary imagination dared speculate on what lay
hidden beneath those tattered rags she wore. She gesticulated much,
and discoursed on the subject of some lecture she was to give, in the
intervals of volleying forth abuse and swearing in Parisian argot at
her long-suffering husband, who received it all with most ludicrous
courtesy. Often a strong smell of gin mingled with the eloquent flow of
the countess's language.

On the whole, however, the Anarchists and their queer associates might
be regarded as a fairly temperate set. One of the most potent causes of
drink is the monotony of the existences led by most people, the hopeless
dreariness of their confined, narrow lives, the total lack of interest
and excitement. This is not the case in revolutionary circles, where not
only are there plenty of ideas afloat to occupy men's minds and distract
them from the narrow circle of their dreary domestic lives, but where
also the modern craving for excitement, factitious or otherwise, finds
plenty of nourishment.

The office of the _Tocsin_, however, did not lack the occasional
presence of the habitual drunkard. There was one queer fellow who
frequently put in a dissipated appearance for the purpose of complaining
of the ill-usage to which his wife's tongue subjected him. He looked
forward to the Social Revolution as the only escape from this thraldom,
and certainly no man ever made more strenuous, albeit ill-directed
efforts, on its behalf.

Then there was a bibulous Welshman who at times would startle the
unwashed denizens of the neighbouring slums by appearing in a tall
hat and irreproachable shirt front. He was a doctor by profession, who
succeeded in maintaining a certain reputation in polite circles, but an
alcoholic soaker by inclination, one of those men who somehow contrive
to keep ahead of ruin by sleeping out periods of financial distress in
friends' houses.

Our proof-reader was a benevolent old gentleman of obsolete customs, who
in an age of open-air cures still wore a mouth and nose respirator.
He was such an eminently respectable person that I never could quite
understand why he associated himself with anything so disreputable as
the _Tocsin_. I always half suspected that he came there principally
on my account, chivalrously determined that I should not be surrounded
_solely_ by scum. But besides this motive he had some pretensions
to being a man of advanced views, and was a purchaser of "advanced"
literature. The introduction of this into the precincts of his home was
a great trial to his better half, who had no kind of sympathy with such
leanings. New-fangled ideas of any description were tabooed by her,
and all preachers and holders of such she unconditionally consigned to
hell-fires. Her husband she regarded as a brand to be snatched from the
burning, and she and a few select female relatives worked hard to snatch
him. But although new-fangled ideas on social organisation and political
economy were bad enough, one thing alone was beyond all human endurance
to the mind of Mrs. Crawley, and that one thing was free-love.

One day Mr. Crawley brought home "The Woman Who Did," and neglected to
conceal it. It was found by his wife lying on the dining-room sofa.

"My fingers itched to seize and burn the impudent huzzy, lying there as
unconcerned as though she had been the 'Private Meditations and Prayers
of the Rev. Bagge,'" Mrs. Crawley confided to her Aunt Elizabeth, "but
it was a six-shilling book, and I knew how Crawley valued it, and for
the life of me I did not dare touch it."

It was a sore trial indeed to Mrs. Crawley to live under the same roof
with such a person, but she dared not so far outrage the feelings of
one whom she had sworn to love, honour, and obey, as to execute the
offending lady. She long meditated some revenge, some outlet for her
outraged feelings; it was long in coming, but come it did at last. The
"Man Who Didn't" followed in the footsteps of his irregular mate, and
in a fourpenny-halfpenny edition. This was more than the worthy matron
could stand, and either he or she herself must leave the house. She
summoned Aunt Elizabeth, a lady of irreproachable moral standard, the
whites of whose eyes had a habit of turning up spasmodically, and the
corners of whose mouth down, and to her she unburdened her feelings.

"My dear Eliza," she said, "I have too long tolerated 'The Woman Who
Did,' but when it comes to the 'Man Who Didn't,' that--er--well, that
disgusting 'Man Who Didn't'--and how am I to know that he didn't, the
brazen creature!--it is time I asserted my authority. I cannot and I
will not stand him."

The offending and irresolute gentleman was then seized upon with a
pair of tongs, carried in solemn procession to the remotest room in the
house, and burnt. The sanctity of matrimony had reasserted its rights.

A young bank clerk who accompanied Crawley to the office was a type of
what I might call the conscientiously unprincipled man. It being wrong
to steal, he made a point of annexing small objects. Cleanliness is next
to godliness, and he devoted himself heroically to dirt; it was not at
all his natural tendency, and the more disagreeable he found it the more
strenuous was he in its pursuit. Being by nature punctual, he made it an
absolute point of honour never to keep an appointment; and, as a lover
of domestic peace, he was for ever working his way into scrapes and
rows. He was a comical object, with his limp yellow hair brushed
ferociously on end, and his mild yellow eyes scowling defiance at
mankind.

When the Cuban revolution broke out a wave of sympathy for the oppressed
islanders passed over the whole civilised world, and nowhere did this
find a warmer echo than in the Anarchist party and the _Tocsin_ group.
Many Anarchists were in favour of going out to the assistance of the
insurgents. Opinion was divided on the question. Some said: "It is our
duty to remain in Europe to carry on the work of Anarchist propaganda
here. The Cuban revolution is a race struggle, and no concern of ours."
Others said: "We Anarchists are internationalists, and in whatsoever
part of the world there is revolt against oppression, and wherever the
revolutionary forces are at work, there is our opportunity to step in
and direct those forces into the proper course, towards Anarchism."
These Anarchists saw in the uprising of this small and comparatively
insignificant race against the Spanish throne the possible dawn of a
wider, vaster struggle, in which the whole world would join hands to lay
low thrones, altars, and judgment seats.

A small band of Italian comrades, led by an adventurous Sicilian, got
up a subscription for the purpose, and left the office of the _Tocsin_,
amid great revolutionary enthusiasm, to journey to the assistance of the
insurgent island. Only one of their number ever returned alive to
Europe to tell of the horrors and hardships of the fierce struggle there
endured, of the cruelty of the Spaniards, and the uselessness of the
fight from the Anarchist point of view.

The Cuban fever was very catching, and after the departure of this first
band there was a regular epidemic of departure at the _Tocsin_. Carter
and Simpkins turned up at the office one afternoon very much in earnest
about it all and persuaded that a little British grit was what was
needed in Cuba, "to keep things humming." Simpkins recalled his old
army days and the valour he had several times displayed when under the
influence of liquor. He waved an old belt appertaining to those times,
and would, I believe, have sung something about the Union Jack and the
beer of old England, had not his friend recalled him to a better sense
of his duty as an Anarchist and Internationalist. It appeared that
Carter had come into a small sum of money consequent on the death of an
uncle, with which he was bent on paying their passage out to Cuba. "What
is an Anarchist to do in this wretched country?" he asked. "I am tired
of lying in bed waiting for the revolution. It's too slow coming."
"Yah!" muttered Short under his breath to me, "the springs are out of
order, and he finds it hard. That's about how much he cares for the
revolution."

After Carter and Simpkins had taken their leave of the staff of the
_Tocsin_ I watched a very moving scene from the window, when they bade
good Mrs. Wattles farewell. The good lady was very deeply affected, and
with tears in her eyes she begged them to think again before betaking
themselves to "them furrin' parts" where she had heard "the drink was
something awful and not fit for a Christian stomach." She was only half
reassured when told that rum came from somewhere in that direction.

But Carter and Simpkins never reached Cuba. Some few minutes' walk from
the office of the _Tocsin_, at the corner of Lysander Grove, stood an
inviting house of call, the "Merry Mariners," where the valiant warriors
dropped in on their way, to refresh themselves, perhaps in anticipation
of the dreary prospect which Mrs. Wattles's words had opened before
them. When several hours later Short returned from his accustomed
evening stroll round the neighbourhood, he described with great relish
the pitiable termination of their voyage. He had found Carter just sober
enough to cart his incapacitated disciple home on a wheelbarrow, after
which he painfully betook himself to his bed, there to bemoan the
tardiness of the revolution, and the broken condition of the spring
mattress.

"And won't his guv'nor just give Simpkins a ragging when he gets home.
He'll give him Cuba," gloated the unsympathetic printer.

Another relief expedition from the _Tocsin_ met with scarcely more
brilliant success. Beppe and Meneghino set out under the guidance of old
M'Dermott, on tramp to Cardiff, whence they hoped to work their way
out to the insurgent island. They, too, set out full of brave hopes and
generous enthusiasm, but with too confident a trust in the beneficence
of Providence as caterer to their material needs on the journey. Before
a fortnight had elapsed, they also were back at the office, Beppe
bearing the poor old Irishman on his shoulders in a quite crippled and
exhausted condition. He had to be put to bed, and remained there
several weeks, before he was in a fit state to get about again. They
all complained bitterly of the inhospitality of the country-folk to whom
they had appealed for help, and of the uncourteous reception they had
met with in the Cardiff docks. Poor Meneghino reached London barefooted,
his faithful canvas bag hanging disconsolately over his shoulder--and
all with woefully vacant stomachs. They formed a comically dismal group
as they collapsed into the office in an exhausted heap.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amid these many strange and dubious, ludicrous or pathetic characters,
some few heroic figures appeared. From time to time there came into our
midst Vera Marcel, the Red Virgin of the barricades, the heroine of the
Commune of Paris--a woman of blood and smoke and of infinite mercies
towards men and beasts. I can see her still, almost beautiful in
her rugged ugliness, her eyes full of the fire of faith and insane
fanaticism, her hair dishevelled, her clothes uncared for. I can hear
the wonderful ring of her tragic voice as she pleaded the misery of the
poor and suffering, of the oppressed, the outcast, the criminal, the
rejected, and as it rose higher and higher to invoke fire and sword and
bloodshed in expiation. Then I seem to hear its magic and inspired ring
as her wonderful faith conjured up visions of the future when the whole
of humanity shall live in peace and brotherhood, and the knife, which
in time of revolution had shed the blood of the oppressors, shall "cut
nothing deadlier than bread." A strange gaunt figure she was, a woman
who had never hesitated at shedding blood in the good Cause, nor feared
to face death for it; but with her friends, and especially with children
and dumb animals, she was as gentle as the gentlest of her sex; and no
words can describe the extreme sweetness of her voice.

As publication time approached, all-night sittings became necessary,
when all this heterogeneous assembly met together, and amidst Anarchist
song and Anarchist enthusiasm forwarded or hindered, each in his
degree, the publication of the _Tocsin_. I can see in my mind's eye the
much-littered, overcrowded office in all the confusion of those nights,
with its dark corners hidden in shadow, where slept tired fighters weary
of the fray, and its brightly-lighted patches, under the lamps, where
the work of the night was being carried on. Some dozen voices, more
or less musical, are chanting Anarchist war-songs, and the _Inno di
Caserio_ and the _Marseillaise_ ring out through the open windows to
the dormant or drunken denizens of Lysander Grove. The Reincarnation
is patiently turning the wheel of the printing machine, and rolling out
fresh _Tocsins_, thinking, no doubt, of that tocsin which, at no
distant date, shall ring out from a loftier sphere to rouse the deluded
inhabitants of this globe to a different millennium from that dreamed
of by Anarchists. But, whatever his thoughts, he grinds away with much
Christian endurance and fortitude. Wainwright, who is tired after a long
turn at the wheel, subsequent to a hard day's work in the brick-yard, is
relating to a few interested listeners the strange story of his life, or
discussing points of Anarchist principle and propaganda.

Then, somehow, the Bleeding Lamb would find his way in, and looking over
at his reincarnated rival at the wheel with undisguised contempt, he
whispers: "I know what sort of a wheel his unhallowed hoof ought to be
turning!"

Armitage and Kosinski at such times would be busy folding the papers,
both absorbed in their work, happy to think that they were thus
advancing the great Cause. And Short, shivering discontentedly at the
cold, or swearing amid much perspiration at the heat, would smoke his
pipe and eat his unattractive pastry, whilst crawling into his rugs and
banners, until Beppe, in an outburst of indignation, drags him out by
the scruff of the neck and compels him to lock up the forms.

One night there was a grand banquet, for Beppe had turned in, bearing
under his long cloak a prime conditioned tom-cat, whose disconcerted
mews were rapidly ended by a dexterous twist of the neck, and whose
plump person was before long stewing in wine and vinegar in the _Tocsin_
stockpot, after his liver had been previously fried for the private
consumption of the ever-hungry Beppe.

When this succulent repast had been disposed of towards 3 A.M. (all the
_Tocsin_ workers had admirable digestions) a brief respite from work
ensued, during which Beppe sang pieces of Italian opera, accompanied by
Gnecco on his mandolin, and M'Dermott treated us to brief recitations
from Shakespeare. Much stamping and gesticulation accompanied, I
remember, the soliloquy of Hamlet, and our flesh crept at the witches'
incantations from "Macbeth." The old cobbler delighted in Shakespeare
and dictionaries, between the perusal of which he spent most of his
time. "Like Autolycus in the 'Winter's Tale,'" he said to me one day, "I
am a 'snapper-up of unconsidered trifles,' and during the riots of 18--I
snapped up a sufficient number of these to enable me to set myself up
with a small library, and I did no work during eighteen months, devoting
my entire time to Shakespeare and Johnson's Dictionary."

Sometimes a phrenologist who had strayed into our midst would follow
on with a brief phrenological séance, and nothing afforded the comrades
more satisfaction than to be informed that their bumps showed undoubted
criminal propensities.

Then again the heavy roll of the machine would drown all lesser noises
with its monotonous grinding, as the most resolute and earnest among us
returned undaunted to the fray, whilst others, less energetic, curled up
on the floor in varying uncomfortable attitudes about the office--inside
the dormitory shed and out, propped against posts and type-racks, or
stretched on stacks of paper--and slumbered in blissful ignorance of the
future fortunes of the _Tocsin_.



CHAPTER VIII

THE DYNAMITARD'S ESCAPE


May-Day was at hand, and we had been working all night at the office of
the _Tocsin_ in order to have the paper ready in time to distribute to
the provincial groups. Since Friday morning I had hardly left the
office at all--merely going home for dinner and returning at once to the
fray--and by four o'clock Sunday morning we had rolled off the last of
the five thousand copies of the _Tocsin_, which, along with two thousand
leaflets drawn up by myself and Armitage, were ready for distribution.
The 1st of May fell on the following Wednesday, and we had for once the
satisfaction of knowing that we had taken Time by the forelock.

Short had retired to his shake-down in the dormitory about midnight, and
the loud creaking of his boots against the boards was the only sign
he gave of life. Kosinski, Armitage, and Giannoli, after making up and
addressing the last parcel, had left for their respective abodes; Beppe
and Meneghino, having turned the wheel the whole evening, had fallen to
sleep exhausted, stretched on a bench in the machine-room; and I, after
having partaken of a cup of tea and some hot buttered toast which old
M'Dermott had provided for me, sat nodding and dozing on one side of
the fire. The old cobbler had fallen fast asleep on the other side while
poring over a dictionary, noting down sonorous and impressive-sounding
words with which to embellish the oration he intended to deliver on
May-day in Hyde Park.

About half-past five, just as the first cold rays of the chilly spring
dawn cast a ghastly blue light on the dormant figures around me,
deadening the yellow flame of the lamp which was burning itself out,
I was roused from my torpor by a light rap at the outside door. In the
office all was quiet, but for the heavy and rhythmic snores of the weary
comrades, and wondering who could claim admittance at such an unearthly
hour, I rose with a shiver and opened the door. To my surprise I found
myself face to face with Bonafede.

Since that bitter January day when Bonafede and his companions had
emerged from the London fog and made their unexpected entrance on the
scene of the _Tocsin_, I had not seen very much of him, though we had
never quite lost sight of one another, and I frequently heard his news
through mutual friends. As I have already stated, Gnecco and Bonafede
had retired to lodgings in the Italian quarter in the unsavoury
neighbourhood of Saffron Hill. They had a little money, but only enough
to last for two or three weeks. Gnecco had a few valuables in the shape
of a gold watch and chain, a pearl breast-pin, and a fur-lined coat, and
he soon had recourse to my friendly help to dispose of these articles to
the best advantage with a pawnbroker, and on the proceeds, eked out by
some small help which he received from his family, he managed to rub
along, and he and his mandolin were soon familiar features at the
office. But with Bonafede the case was different. He was a man of too
active and independent a character to be long idle. He was by profession
an engineer, and in Italy, before his career had been interrupted by
his political activity, he had held an important post on the Italian
railways. But for many years his life had been a stirring one, and he
had learned to turn his hand to whatever offered, and had in turn worked
as a dock labourer, a sailor before the mast, a gilder employed
in church decorations, a house-decorator in a lunatic asylum and a
cutter-out of military trousers at Marseilles, a warehouse porter and
a navvy. Whatever job turned up he accepted; if it was work at which
he had no experience he would look up some comrade in that line and get
from him a few hints, and this, supplemented by reading up particulars
in some trade encyclopaedia at a public library, enabled him to
accomplish his task satisfactorily. He had hardly been in London
a fortnight when he looked about him for work, and, nothing better
offering, he engaged himself as washer-up at one of Veglio's many
restaurants. After six weeks he was rescued from the uncongenial
drudgery of scullion by a comrade, a fellow-Calabrian, who earned a
good living as decorator of West-end cafés, and who took on Bonafede to
assist him in frescoing a ceiling at the Trocadero, not, however, before
the latter had laid the foundations of a _lega di resistenza_ between
the Italians employed in restaurant kitchens. At the end of a month the
ceiling was painted, and Bonafede parted company with his compatriot,
pocketing £10, plus his keep whilst the job lasted. One of his first
steps was to visit me at the office of the _Tocsin_ and arrange for the
printing of an Italian pamphlet and of a booklet of revolutionary songs,
the production of Gnecco, which were to be smuggled into Italy for
distribution. The cost of paper and carriage of these works ran into the
better part of £3. With the remaining cash in his pocket, Bonafede went
to look up old friends and comrades in the French and Italian quarters.
A's wife was expecting her confinement, B needed an outfit in order to
enter on a job as waiter which he had secured at a club; C had been out
of work for three months and had five small mites to feed and clothe,
and so forth. At the end of this expedition rather less than 15s.
remained in his pocket, and once more he sought employment. This time
he got taken on by a contractor who asphalted the London streets, a
work done entirely by Italians. Here he remained for nearly two months,
during which time he organised the men into a union and induced them to
strike for better conditions. The men won their point, and returned to
work on the condition that the agitator who had got up the strike should
be dismissed, and Bonafede left of his own accord, unwilling to cause
loss to the men by prolonging the struggle. After a few weeks' enforced
idleness, during which he was lost sight of by the comrades, he
reappeared one evening at a group meeting held at our office, and
informed us that he was taken on as electrician at the Monico.

Ten days had now passed since I last saw him, and my expression was
eloquent of my amazement at his unexpected appearance.

"You are surprised at my coming at such an unusual hour, Comrade," he
began with his strong Calabrian accent; "but you will understand when
I tell you that ever since yesterday evening I have been awaiting an
opportunity to get round here without being followed by my guardian
angels of Scotland Yard. Gnecco told me that you were passing the night
in the office, and so I seized on a favourable moment and came." He
stopped, glanced round the room, walked up to the bench on which the
two Italians were sleeping the sleep of the just, and having satisfied
himself that no one could overhear us he explained the motive of his
visit to me.

"You doubtless know that Jean Matthieu, suspected of complicity in the
P.... bomb explosions, has been hiding in London for some time past."
I nodded assent: he had even been pointed out to me one evening by
Giannoli at a meeting in the East End.

"Well, since yesterday we have the certainty that the police are on his
track, that they are aware of his whereabouts. It has become absolutely
necessary for him to leave London without further delay--within the next
twenty-four hours. Everything is arranged. The police will be watching
the Continental trains, so he will go for the present to Leicester, and
stay with a comrade who has a French wife, and who will pass him off as
his wife's uncle. From there we hope, within a week or so to get him off
to America; but all this requires money: the least that we can give him
is twenty pounds. I had five by me, left with me to make use of for the
Cause, a few French comrades have handed me over another seven. But we
are still in need of eight pounds to make up the necessary sum. Could
you let us have it?"

The last days of the month always found me at the end of my resources.
I had but two pounds in my purse. "What a pity," I exclaimed, "that you
could not let me know yesterday! Today is Sunday; it will be impossible
for me to get at any money. Raymond is certain only to have a pound or
two on him, if he has as much; the Bank is closed. I have some jewellery
by me on which I could easily raise ten or twelve pounds, but the
pawn-shops are not open on Sundays. What am I to do? Can you not wait
until tomorrow?"

Bonafede explained that every minute was of consequence: Matthieu must
leave at once or he would inevitably be arrested. We both remained
silent, hesitating, for a few minutes. At last he spoke: "Madame
Combrisson has the money by her, I am sure, but she will never give it.
You say, however, you have some jewellery that you would be willing to
pledge: perhaps with that as security she would advance us the money.
Anyhow we can but try."

It was arranged that I should go home for my valuables and repair to the
house of the Combrissons, where, Bonafede informed me, Matthieu was at
that moment concealed.

"But do you think he is safe there?" I inquired.

"Oh yes, perfectly. Jules is a good comrade, and both he and his wife
have every reason to wish to remain on good terms with the Anarchists.
They know on which side their bread is buttered. I shall go now and you
will find me at the Combrissons'."

I knew the French couple well by reputation, though I had never yet
crossed their threshold. Combrisson had come over to England some twelve
years ago; he had been mixed up in the Anarchist propaganda, and
had seen fit to expatriate himself; it was rumoured that he had been
actively mixed up with a gang of coiners, amongst whom were several
Anarchists who thought it good warfare to make the hated bourgeois pay
for the propaganda by falsifying the currency. They had not been long in
London when they took a large house in Grafton Street, letting out
rooms to comrades. They also kept on the ground floor a small _depôt_ of
foreign revolutionary literature, and received for a consideration the
correspondence of the refugees. Combrisson, who worked as a carpenter
and joiner, had the reputation of being a good comrade, and always set
down to his wife's account all actions not strictly in accordance with
the principles of solidarity, such as turning out comrades who did not
pay their rent, refusing small loans and subscriptions, and such like.

By eight o'clock I was in Grafton Street. As I turned down the corner
which leads from the Tottenham Court Road, I became aware that I was
being followed. A young man with a sandy moustache, a celestial nose,
and fishy blue eyes, got up to look like a counter-jumper on a holiday,
whom I had long since learned to know as Detective Limpet, was walking
a few steps behind me on the other side of the road. I stopped at Number
9, my destination, and I saw Limpet likewise stop outside a public-house
which stood opposite, and exchange a few words with a hulking brute
leaning against the wall, characterised by a heavy jaw, lowering brows,
and a strong Irish brogue, in whom I recognised Detective O'Brien. They
both turned their eyes on me as I stood on the door-step pulling the
bell handle, and I saw a stupid grin overspread the countenance of the
Limpet.

The door was opened by a little maid-of-all-work who seemed doubtful
as to whether she should let me in or no, till a head adorned with
curl-papers appeared above the kitchen steps, calling out in a shrill
voice, "Jane, you fool, show the young lady in."

Next minute I was in the front kitchen, where Madame Combrisson, her
husband, and Bonafede awaited me.

The house was a good-sized, solidly-built one, originally intended for
a gentleman's residence, but fallen now on evil days. An odour of fried
onions and sawdust pervaded the establishment, for Madame Combrisson
boarded three or four of her lodgers, regaling them principally on
"_soupe à l'ognon_," and Combrisson carried on in the back kitchen his
carpentry business at which he kept these same lodgers employed, paying
them in kind with food and house-room, and doling out a few shillings
now and again as pocket-money. In this way he succeeded in combining
philanthropy and business, and though, after a few months, his employees
invariably left as soon as they had learned a little of the English
language and English prices, still there were always new-comers willing,
nay anxious, to replace them.

After a few preliminary words of introduction, I produced the jewellery
for Madame Combrisson's inspection. She was a small wiry woman, with
hard, covetous grey eyes, grizzled hair screwed up in a tight knot on
the top of her head, a nose like the beak of a bird of prey, and thin
blue lips. Her eyes lit up as her hands turned over the little diamond
brooch and finely-chased gold bracelet which I submitted to her
inspection.

"Of course I am not a judge," she said, "but I should think we could
easily raise a little money on these. I wish I had it myself, I would
willingly give it for the Cause, but, _que voulez vous, mademoiselle_?
we are but poor folk; however, I know some one near here who might
perhaps be able to oblige us; I will go and see."

Bonafede winked at me and I could see that he considered the matter
settled. He and Combrisson left the kitchen and I remained alone with
madame, who proceeded to take her fringe out of the curl-papers, and to
exchange her petticoat and red flannel jacket for a somewhat rusty black
dress. Whilst performing her toilette she eyed me carefully. I noticed
that since she had inspected the jewellery she had involuntarily assumed
a more respectful tone in addressing me. "I hear from the comrades that
you are very active in the Cause, mademoiselle; have you been long in
the movement?"

I replied that it was getting on for two years.

"And your family, are they Anarchists also?"

I explained that my parents were dead and that I was the only one of
my family who worked in the movement. She seemed surprised at this
information, "But you must be rich," she said: "that jewellery you have
brought is very beautiful; you are young, you could enjoy yourself,
mix with those of your own class; why do you work in a printing-office
instead?"

"But I am an Anarchist. We must all do what we can to help the Cause, I
do my best; not more, however, than other comrades."

She seemed by now to have summed me up, though I was evidently still
somewhat of a mystery to her, and she merely said:--

"Oh, of course we are all Anarchists; we all do our best for the Cause."

As she was leaving, Bonafede came down and said that Matthieu would like
to see me if I saw fit, and together we mounted to the back attic where
the dynamitard was concealed.

Nobody could have guessed on sight that the puny little man before me
could be the dreaded Anarchist for whom the police of Europe had been
searching high and low during the past seven months. Matthieu was a
tailor by trade, and his physique bore traces of the sedentary work
and of the long hours passed in close unhealthy rooms. He was slightly
hunchbacked, his chest narrow and hollow, his legs bowed; his pale blue
eyes with their swollen red lids had the strained expression of one
accustomed to make use of the last rays of daylight before lighting the
lamp. His massive jaw and firm round chin, and high narrow forehead
were the only features which revealed in him the man of action and the
fanatic. Yet this was the man who, by a series of explosions culminating
in the blowing up of a police station, had spread terror in the ranks of
the French bourgeoisie.

We shook hands, and I told them how I had been followed by Detective
Limpet and how he and O'Brien were stationed opposite the house.

"Yes," said Bonafede, "it is certain that they suspect Matthieu's
presence here; we must try to get rid of them in some way for a short
while; set them off on some false scent, so as to enable our comrade to
leave the house."

"If you would only let me do as I wish," broke in Matthieu, "I would
soon be out of this. I have a good revolver and I am not afraid to
use it. I would make a rush for it, and ten to one I should get off
scot-free; and anyhow better be taken fighting than caught like a rat in
a hole."

We both tried to dissuade him, arguing that there was always time to
take such a step, and that with a little patience and ingenuity it was
almost certain that a means would be found for his safe escape.

In a few minutes Madame Combrisson entered the room. She handed me over
£10 and a receipt for the pledges, adding that her friend would not be
induced to lend more. I handed the sum over to Bonafede. He had now £22
in hand, so that the financial side of the difficulty was solved. Madame
Combrisson, however, had news. A neighbour had informed her that Chief
Inspector Deveril had been seen in the street, and that, after giving
instructions to his two subordinates not to move from their post
of observation, he had left, it was supposed, in order to procure a
search-warrant. This news filled us with alarm. Almost any minute now
the police might claim entrance to the house, and then Matthieu would
inevitably be caught. What was to be done? I was told off to look out
of a front window from behind a curtain and report on the situation, but
only to return with the news that Limpet and O'Brien were both leaning
airily on their sticks studying the heavens with imperturbable calm.
Matthieu was growing restless. He walked up and down the small room like
a caged beast, nervously clutching at the revolver which he kept in his
trouser pocket. Madame Combrisson kept bemoaning her fate, saying that
it would be the ruin of her house if the police entered. Bonafede alone
remained calm and collected. At last he exclaimed, looking at his watch,
"It is now past eleven, in another half-hour the public-houses will
open, let us hope that our friends below may turn in to refresh
themselves. In that minute Matthieu must escape; we must have everything
ready; he had better change his clothes and disguise himself as much as
possible. We will leave together; we are both armed, and if the worst
comes to the worst we will sell our lives dearly."

"Oh, my poor house, my poor house!" moaned madame, "this business will
be the death of us all."

Bonafede turned on her savagely. "This is no time for recriminations,"
he exclaimed. "Sharpen your wits and see if you cannot find some means
of getting rid of those spies. You are clever enough when it is a
question of serving your own interests."

Madame Combrisson seemed electrified by these words.

"I will try, Comrade, only give me time to think." Next minute, she
exclaimed, "How would it do to send down two of the comrades to pick a
quarrel in the street? They could start a fight, a crowd will assemble,
the detectives will go to see what is up, and you and Matthieu can avail
yourselves of the confusion to escape."

"Good!" replied Bonafede, "go and see about it at once. I will help
Matthieu to get ready, and you, Isabel, be on the look-out, and let us
know when the right moment has come."

I stationed myself behind the curtain at the front parlour window. In
a few minutes I saw a young German who lodged in the house rush up
the area steps into the street, followed by Combrisson. They were both
shouting and gesticulating loudly, and Combrisson seemed to be demanding
money which the other refused. A few passers-by stopped to listen to the
two foreigners, who danced around, growing ever more noisy; but Limpet
and O'Brien stood firm. They looked at the combatants, but seemed to
consider the matter as a joke, and only crossed over to our side of
the way when they saw a crowd begin to assemble. The quarrel between
Combrisson and his lodger began to flag when they saw that their object
had failed, and the German soon walked off in the direction of Tottenham
Court Road. I watched the detectives cross over to their former post of
observation, and was just going to inform the comrades of the negative
result of this manoeuvre when I saw Inspector Deveril coming down the
street. For a second I stood paralysed with apprehension: all was up
with my friends! Next moment I had climbed the four flights, and given
the dreaded news.

Matthieu rushed to the attic window. It gave on to a wide gutter which
ran along several roofs. "This is my only means of escape. I will get
into one of these other houses by the skylight, and escape at the front
door whilst they are searching here."

"And if any one tries to stop you?" I exclaimed.

"So much the worse for them," he replied, clutching his revolver.

He was already outside the window when Bonafede spoke, advising him to
wait a minute whilst we saw what was going on. As soon as the police
knocked, he could carry out his plan. To be noticed by them on the roof
would be fatal to its success.

At that moment Combrisson rushed in. "I cannot tell what has happened.
Deveril spoke to those two spies and has walked off. The public-house
has opened, Limpet has gone inside, and only O'Brien remains on guard."

We all three went downstairs to watch proceedings, leaving Matthieu by
the window, ready at a moment's notice to put his desperate project into
execution.

Sure enough, all was quiet in the street below; passers-by were hurrying
home to their Sunday dinners, the smell of which pervaded the street
and house, and O'Brien stood at the door of the opposite pub, leaning
gracefully on his stick and gazing at the windows of our house. We stood
watching for about a quarter of an hour, fully expecting to see the
police appear; the room had gradually filled with the lodgers, all on
the _qui vive_, and jabbering fluently in foreign tongues. As nobody
came and all seemed quiet, Bonafede and I returned upstairs to reassure
Matthieu.

In a few minutes we heard a ring at the door.

"It is they!" we exclaimed, and Matthieu leapt to the window, whilst
Bonafede rushed to the door, which burst open, giving admittance to a
strange-looking figure. The new-comer had the slight build and nervous
carriage of a Frenchman, but was got up in the most aggressively British
attire. Clean-shaven, with a short bulldog pipe in the corner of
his mouth, a billycock hat set rather jauntily on his head, a short,
drab-coloured overcoat of horsy cut, black and white check trousers,
red-skin riding gloves, square-toed walking shoes, a light cane, and a
rose in his buttonhole; you would have taken him at first sight for
a sporting tipster. Matthieu, who had stopped short at this sudden
apparition, and Bonafede, both stood staring in amazement. The new-comer
looked at them with a wicked twinkle in his eye, and burst out into a
hearty laugh.

"Why, it is you, Sylvestre," the Italian at last said, whilst Matthieu
jumped down into the room. "But what on earth have you done to yourself?
I should never have recognised you?"

"Ah! so I look in character, then? If you did not recognise me no wonder
that I was able to take in those gaping clodhoppers, fresh from their
turnip-fields, in the street below. I have news for you. Just listen,"
but here he broke off, for, looking round the room, he had caught
sight of me (I had stood speechless in a corner whilst this scene was
enacted). "First though, my dear fellow, I must beg you to introduce
me to the lady. The emotions of the moment seem to have made you and
Matthieu forget all manners."

Bonafede turned smilingly towards me, and introduced us: "Armand
Sylvestre, a French comrade; Isabel Meredith, editor of the _Tocsin_."

The Frenchman made me an elegant and profound bow in strange contrast
with his sporting appearance, removing his hat, which he had till then
kept on.

"But what has happened to you, Sylvestre?" exclaimed Matthieu. "Your
hair has turned purple."

"Oh, for Heaven's sake don't look at my hair. A most awful fate has
befallen it. Yesterday I heard from Cotteaux that you intended leaving
soon, so I settled to come down here this morning, and thought it would
be as well to disguise myself; one never knows, one can sometimes get
such a lot of fun out of those heavy-witted, pudding-eating police. So
I asked Marie to go into a West End hairdresser's and procure some black
hair-dye, as I know my gold locks are well known to our friends below.
She asked for some, explaining that it was for theatricals, and last
night I tried it. With what result you see!--and mind I only made up my
mind to come out after washing it some dozen times. Now, with a hat on,
it's not very noticeable, but if you could have seen it last night; it
had turned the real imperial shade of purple! It was a sight for the
gods!"

We all laughed heartily at his adventure, the humour of which was
heightened by the mock pathos and tragedy with which he narrated it.
But Matthieu, who was straining his ears to catch the slightest sound
downstairs, asked him to proceed with his news.

"_Oh, mais vous saves, mademoiselle, votre pays est tout-à-fait
épatant_," he began, turning to me. "As I came down the street I noticed
Deveril speaking with those two satellites of his outside the 'Cat and
Mouse.' I at once guessed something was up here, and thought I would
try and pump them, so I walked into the bar and asked in my best English
accent for a whisky and soda, throwing down a half-sovereign to pay for
it, and began talking about racing bets with the barman. As I expected,
after a few minutes, Limpet entered, asking for a glass of bitter; he
soon got interested in our talk. I was giving tips with the air of a
Newmarket jockey, and as he had finished his drink I offered to treat
him. He hesitated, saying that he was in a hurry, and I then pumped the
whole tale out of him, how he and his comrade were watching this house,
where they had reason to know that a dangerous French Anarchist was
concealed, and so forth and so on.

"'But,' I said, 'if this is so, why do you not get a warrant to search
the house?' And he then explained to me that the inspector had wished so
to do, but that the magistrate, spite of his entreaties, had refused to
sign the warrant because it was Sunday!! Yes, this is an extraordinary
country. Society must be saved, but before everything the Sabbath must
not be broken. _C'est delicieux!_ Having gained this information, I
politely wished him good day, and walked over to this house. You should
have seen the faces of those two men. I expect their mouths are open
still."

We all stared at each other at this information. This, then, was the
secret of the situation. The English Sunday had saved our comrade!
Bonafede went downstairs to summon the Combrissons and relieve their
minds. We had now nearly twenty-four hours before us; it was certain
that till nine o'clock on Monday morning the search-warrant would not be
signed. In this interval Matthieu must leave the house, but how?

Sylvestre, who evidently looked upon the whole question as a good
joke--_une bonne blague_--suggested that the dynamitard should dress up
in his sporting attire; he urged that the detectives had seen him enter
and could not be surprised at his leaving, and that this would be the
best solution of the difficulty. The idea seemed feasible, and it was
tried on. Matthieu got into the check trousers and horsy overcoat,
but the effect was too ludicrous, and he was the first to laugh at the
figure he cut in the looking-glass. Something else must be found. Madame
Combrisson came to the rescue. She reminded us of a Jewish comrade,
also a tailor by trade, who was not unlike Matthieu, being slightly
hunchbacked. Her idea was to get him round, dress him in the fugitive's
clothes, let Bonafede call a cab in an ostentatious style, into which
the false Matthieu was to jump and drive off; the detectives would
probably follow on their bicycles, and then was our opportunity. Only,
how to get this man on to the scene without his advent being noticed by
them? For if he were seen to enter, the game was up; his exit would not
cause surprise. We were still face to face with the same difficulty, and
Matthieu once more began to pace the room like a wild beast in a cage.

Sylvestre broke the silence. "The only way out of the difficulty is to
disguise our man. Dress him up as a woman; he will then enter without
causing observation."

In a few minutes all was settled. I was to leave with the hand-bag in
which I had brought in the jewellery to be pawned; but this time it was
to contain a dress belonging to Madame Combrisson. With this I was to
proceed to the lodging of the Jewish comrade, Yoski, taking care to lose
on the way any detective who might be following me. Yoski was to dress
himself in the woman's clothes, and return with me to Grafton Street,
care being taken that the detectives should notice his entry. He was
then to exchange his female attire for Matthieu's clothes and drive off
in a cab, as previously arranged, and then Matthieu, in his turn donning
the skirt and blouse, was to leave the house on my arm, whilst the
police would be rushing after a red-herring. Sylvestre turned a
somersault to express his joy, and, slapping Matthieu on the shoulder,
said, "Why, before long, _mon vieux_, you will again be treading the
flags of Paris, and, let us hope, frightening the bourgeois out of their
wits."

By two o'clock I was on my way. When I left the house Deveril was
talking with O'Brien over the way; Limpet had disappeared for the time
being. The inspector at once noticed my presence, and, calling to a
corner-boy lounging at the public-house door, he spoke to him, pointing
me out, and this "copper's nark" followed doggedly in my steps. Yoski
lived in a turning off the Mile-End Road, but anxious to give no inkling
as to my destination, I turned in the opposite direction, and after
a lengthy _détour_ stopped at my own door. I stayed indoors nearly an
hour, hoping that my attendant's patience would give out, but he showed
no signs of moving, time was precious, and I decided to set out once
more. This time I walked down the Euston Road to the beginning of
Marylebone Road, where I jumped on to a bus going towards Maida Vale.
The youth did likewise, and at the beginning of the Kilburn High Street
I descended, making my way up that dreary road. I began to despair of
ridding myself of my pursuer. I was miles out of my way, the hours
were passing, and he still dogged my steps. I trudged along, weary and
worried, weighed down with the responsibility of my position. Suddenly
my eyes caught sight of a solitary hansom coming slowly towards me, I
hurried forward, the youth was some paces behind me on the other side
of the road, and before he had time to realise what I was up to I had
boarded that hansom and shouted to the cabman, "Five shillings, if you
set me down at Baker Street Station in ten minutes," and away we went.
I looked out of the spy window in the back of the cab and saw my "nark"
standing staring in the middle of the road. At Baker Street I took a
ticket for the Edgeware Road and there I jumped into a train for Aldgate
Station. When I once more found myself in the streets I looked carefully
around me and to my relief was able to assure myself that no one was
following me. Taking a circuitous route, for greater precaution, I at
last reached my destination.

I seemed to be in a foreign country. Dark-eyed comely women and
pretty children, dressed in gay colours, were walking up and down. The
shop-signs and advertisements were mostly written in Hebrew characters,
loud conversation in a foreign language accompanied by vivacious
gesticulation, caught the ear. The narrow, dirty street was swarming
with inhabitants, the front doors were mostly open, and many people had
placed chairs on the doorsteps and pavement and were sitting out, though
it would be an euphemism to speak of enjoying the fresh air in such a
neighbourhood. The house at which I stopped was a six-roomed "cottage,"
but whilst I stood on the doorstep, waiting to gain admittance, at
least fourteen persons passed in and out. At last a wizened old woman,
scrutinising me suspiciously, answered my inquiries.

"Yoski! yes, he live on the tird floor back, vis his vife and schwester.
Yes, you will find him in."

Yoski was a small, unhealthy-looking man, not much unlike Matthieu,
though darker in colouring, and of a weaker type of face. He was a
serious, silent, earnest man, a model of solidarity, regularly setting
aside his weekly contribution to the Cause out of his meagre earning on
which he had to maintain a wife and four children and a young sister.
They all lived in the one room, but one felt that this did not cause
them any suffering; they were evidently used to it. The three grown-ups
were all at work when I entered, and the children clustered round like
inquisitive little animals. I explained briefly my identity and the
object of my visit, talking English, which was not understood by his
female relatives. He nodded gravely, and said: "But I cannot change
here; it would cause too much curiosity. I will tell my wife that I must
go with you for some work, and I will go into the room of a friend of
mine who is out and dress there." He did as he said and we left the room
together.

On the landing I handed him the bag. "Is everything here?" he inquired,
"hat and all?"

The hat! Who had thought of it? And yet without that it was impossible
to go out.

"Cannot you get at your wife's or your sister's?" I inquired.

"Impossible," he replied, "they would never give me a moment's peace
till they knew why I wanted it. You might, however, try with Rebecca
Wiesmann; she is a comrade and lives two streets farther down. Do not,
however, tell her all this matter; make up some story and see if you can
manage."

Much doubting my success, I went round to Rebecca's. I had seen her
sometimes at meetings, but I felt that she would be surprised at my
appearance, and still more at my errand. Still there was nothing for
it, the shops were all shut, and so I went round to her. This girl lived
alone, having separated from her parents, who were strictly orthodox and
intolerant Jews. She was indeed taken aback at seeing me, but did not
like to refuse my request. I told her that I was expected at a comrade's
house, that I had been followed by detectives and wished to lose
sight of them, and she, with the foreign Jews' dread of policemen as
omnipotent beings, swallowed the tale and provided me with a showy best
hat quite unlike my own. This I donned and left with my own in a paper
under my arm, in spite of her pressing offer to keep it for me.

In a few minutes I was knocking at the door Yoski had pointed out to
me. I found him ready, carefully shaved of his moustache, and quite
transformed in appearance. The hat and veil completed the disguise.
By six o'clock we were in Grafton Street. I was relieved to find that
Deveril had left, and that only Limpet and O'Brien were on guard. They
took a good stare at us as we passed them by.

Combrisson himself opened to us. "Oh, here you are at last. We began to
fear you would never come. It has been as much as we could do to prevent
Matthieu from spoiling everything by making a rush for it. Come in,
there is not a moment to lose. Deveril may be back any minute, and he's
not so easily gulled as those two mugs."

We found Matthieu in a state of great nervous excitement. The long,
anxious hours of waiting had told on him. A nervous twitch convulsed his
mouth. He jumped spasmodically to his feet as we entered the room. "At
last," exclaimed Bonafede, with a sigh of relief on seeing us. "Now,
Matthieu," he said, laying a hand encouragingly on the man's shoulder,
"there is no time to be lost. Isabel will go downstairs whilst you two
exchange clothes. As soon as you are ready I will fetch the cabs. Be
courageous, and, above all, calm, and in half-an-hour all will be over."

I went downstairs with Madame Combrisson, and we paced nervously up and
down the front parlour. Every other minute one of us went to look out of
the window. It was nearly dark. The street lamps were lighting up, and
still the two detectives watched on the other side of the road.

"Where is Sylvestre?" I at last inquired, to break the tense silence.

"Who knows? He left about half-an-hour ago, saying he would soon be
back. He is off on some madcap expedition, you may be sure. He is a
dreadful _farceur._"

At that moment no fewer than three barrel-organs came up the street,
stopped nearly opposite the house, and started playing "The man who
broke the bank at Monte Carlo," and other similar classics. I was at the
window and saw Sylvestre go gravely up to the detectives, bow, say a few
words, and cross over to our door. Madame rushed out to open to him.

"So here you are, Mademoiselle. All is well, I hope?" he inquired.

I nodded assent.

"Oh, what a game it will be to see their faces to-morrow when Deveril
comes round with his warrant! Meanwhile, I was sure those poor devils
were boring themselves to death, so I went down to the Italian quarter
and brought back these musicians. I have just told them that I hope the
music will help them to pass a pleasant half-hour."

Just then Bonafede came down, followed by the false Matthieu. The lower
part of his face was concealed in a muffler, and the illusion was really
very deceptive.

"I am going now for the cab," said the Italian. "As soon as I return
Yoski must hurry out, jump in rapidly, and drive off. I shall be waiting
for you, Isabel, and Matthieu with a cab just by Shoolbred's; time
to leave the house five minutes after the departure of Yoski. Here is
Matthieu; you, Madame Combrisson, see if his dress is right; now I am
going."

"Wait a minute," exclaimed Sylvestre, "give me a bottle of whisky and
two glasses, I will go over and offer some to the 'tecs; it will look
as if I am trying to distract their attention from Bonafede and the cab,
and will lend truth to the scene."

All passed off to perfection. As the hansom drew up, Sylvestre, with
a polite bow, offered a drink to Limpet and O'Brien. The latter caught
sight of the cab, just as the false Matthieu hurriedly jumped in, and,
pushing the Frenchman roughly aside, he leapt on his bicycle and rushed
off in pursuit just as the cab disappeared round the street corner.
Bonafede had quietly slipped off down the Tottenham Court Road. Limpet
was pacing up and down distractedly, uncertain whether to stick to his
post or join his comrade in pursuit. In five minutes' time I quietly
walked out, arm in arm with Matthieu, turning round on the doorstep to
shake hands with Madame Combrisson. We walked boldly past Limpet, and
were soon at Shoolbred's, where I left the dynamitard with Bonafede,
and, taking a roundabout walk, returned within half-an-hour to Grafton
Street. In an hour's time Bonafede joined us. "All is well!" he
exclaimed; "within a couple of hours our comrade will be safe in
Leicester. It has been an anxious day, but it has ended better than I
had dared hope for."

"And now let us get some dinner," broke in Sylvestre, "I am just
fainting with hunger. Here is a sovereign, Madame; see if you can get
us something fit to eat, though I fear that, with this hateful English
Sunday, everything will be shut."

"Do not abuse the English Sunday," rejoined Bonafede, "to its sanctity
we owe our friend's escape."

We were soon enjoying a supper which Madame Combrisson got in from
the neighbouring Italian restaurant. We were all in high spirits, and
laughed and chatted freely. Limpet, and O'Brien who had returned after
satisfying himself as to the true identity of the false Matthieu, who
had driven straight home, kept pacing up and down in front of the area
railings, evidently half suspecting that we had played them a trick.

All that night we sat round the kitchen fire, chatting and dozing
alternately. At midnight Deveril came, accompanied by two other
officers, who relieved Limpet and O'Brien. The next morning, as the
clock hands pointed to 9.15, a loud rat-tat resounded through the house.
Deveril, with our two friends of the previous day, accompanied by three
uniformed policemen, were on the doorstep. Combrisson opened to them
with his most engaging smile. He politely read the warrant which the
inspector handed him, and bowed him in, saying that he was happy that
he should persuade himself that Matthieu was not, and never had been, on
the premises. Deveril seemed rather taken aback by this reception, but
was too sure of his case to feel much doubt.

Never shall I forget that man's face when, after a three hours' hunt in
every hole and corner of the building he had to come down persuaded that
his victim had escaped him.

He was perfectly green with rage. Turning to Bonafede who, with us
others, was sitting in the front parlour, he said, "Well, Signore, you
have been one too much for me on this occasion, but remember, he laughs
best who laughs last. We shall doubtless meet again soon."

Bonafede merely shrugged his shoulders and turned aside, whilst the
crestfallen Limpet, who had evidently received a severe wigging from
his superior for allowing his quarry to escape, turned on me a look of
intense hatred and hissed out,

"Remember, miss, you may not always be in London; you will yet pay
me for this!" and with this melodramatic threat he and his comrades
departed amidst the jeers of the assembled lodgers.

In the street they were met by deafening shouts of "Vive Deveril! Hurrah
for the detective force!" Sylvestre, who had slipped out a few minutes
before the arrival of the police, had assembled in the road all the
Italian comrades of the _Tocsin_ group, several Frenchmen of his own
acquaintance, and four or five organ-grinders, and amidst the ironic
cheers of their enemies, the dejected guardians of law and order made
their shamefaced exit from the scene.



CHAPTER IX

SOME ANARCHIST PERSONALITIES


There has been of late years a remarkable, and, on the whole, a very
futile tendency among certain men of science to dissect and classify
abnormal people and abnormal ideas, to discover that geniuses are mad,
and that all manner of well-intentioned fanatics are born criminals.

But there were elements in the Anarchist party which defied the science
of the psychological analyst, so strangely and intricately were the most
heterogeneous qualities blended in certain of their number--fanaticism,
heroism, criminality, and not unfrequently a spicing of genius.

The primary difference between the ordinary normal man and the
fanatic--as between the normal man and the madman or the genius--is the
totally different standpoint whence each views life. This it is which
renders it impossible for the normal man really to understand or judge
fanatics. He cannot grasp their motive, their point of view, and is
therefore morally incapable of judging them.

Among the Anarchists, who may be said to represent the intellectual
rather than the material side of the Socialist movement--there were many
fanatics. This fanaticism showed itself in different ways--sometimes
in the most admirable self-abnegation, in the sacrifice of wealth,
position, and happiness; frequently in abnormal actions of other kinds,
and most noticeably in deeds of violence.

Very diverse in nature were the motives which prompted the committal of
these acts of violence--these assassinations and dynamite explosions--in
different men. With some it was an act of personal revolt, the outcome
of personal sufferings and wrongs endured by the rebel himself, by his
family or his class. In others violence was rather the offspring of
ideas, the logical result of speculation upon the social evil and the
causes thereof. These Anarchists referred to their actions as Propaganda
by Deed.

Émile Henry, the dynamitard of the Café Terminus, belonged to the number
of what I may call the theoretical dynamitard. His terrible acts were
the outcome of long and earnest thought; they were born of his mental
analysis of the social canker. He committed them not in moments of
passion, but with all the _sang froid_ of a man governed by reason.
His defence when on trial was a masterpiece of logical deduction and
eloquent reasoning.

To the average man it is no doubt very difficult to conceive that when
he threw his bomb among the crowd in the Café Terminus, maiming and
killing indiscriminately, Émile Henry was performing his duty according
to his own lights just as much as a soldier when he obeys orders and
fires on the enemy, a city man when he embarks on the day's business, or
a parson when he preaches a sermon against prevailing vices. It was his
sermon--however vigorously preached--against the prevailing vices and
injustices of Society, and against the indifference which all classes
displayed towards these. He took upon himself to strike a blow against
this indifference on behalf of all the weaker and more unfortunate
members of society. Being a man of intellect and some culture, he could
not, like his more ignorant _confrères_, imagine that one man or one
small group of men, was responsible for these. Earnest thought and
reflection told him that if any section of society suffered, then
society at large was guilty: all the thoughtless, all the indifferent
members of society were equally responsible for its abuses. Now this may
be true enough theoretically, but no one but a fanatic or a madman would
carry the reasoning farther to the point of saying: "Society at large is
guilty; society at large must suffer. Society is fairly well represented
by the mixed crowd in a café. I will attack this crowd indiscriminately,
and kill as many of their number as I can. I will unreluctantly end my
days on the scaffold in order to accomplish this very obvious duty;" and
proceed from words to deeds.

There is something terribly, if pervertedly logical in this reasoning,
and although nothing could be farther from the attitude of the ordinary
delinquent, it is no doubt more dangerous to the peace and continuance
of society; and such was the attitude and the reasoning which rendered
the Anarchists so formidable, and which led up to many of their most
terrible outrages. Émile Henry was in his own way a well-meaning youth;
kindly in private life, frugal in his habits; studious, industrious, and
free from vice, he lived with his old mother and mixed little with his
fellows, and no one who knew him could have suspected that this quiet,
studious boy would have developed into the terrible assassin whose act
sent a thrill of horror through the world.

To Anarchists of this order, abstract ideas and opinions replaced all
the ordinary forces of life. Their every action was prompted by some
theory, and they fashioned their lives to fit their peculiar views of
what it ought to be. Émile Henry belonged to this number no less than
Kosinski, Bonafede, and certain so-called Christian Anarchists. For in
some fanatics the Anarchist ideas, instead of leading to violence, led
to the absolute negation and rejection of it.

Among the many frequenters of our office and of the weekly discussion
meetings held there, was a Christian Anarchist, one of those holding
what was known as the "non-resistance to evil" creed. He, too, was a man
who fitted his life to his ideas, who lived in ideas, whose whole being
centred round his ideas. He was a religious fanatic whose course had
deviated into strange paths.

Norbery was a pale, anxious-looking Lancashire man, with weak, restless
eyes and a resolute mouth, who did not lack a certain dignity of
bearing.

Both the organisationists and the individualists united in abusing and
despising the Christian Norbery, but no amount of insults or invective
ruffled his temper or aroused his wrath. "When you preach force or use
force," he said to his opponents, "you imitate the very methods used by
Governments. You will never attain universal peace and brotherhood by
such means. As Anarchists we have no right to use other than passive
resistance, for by using coercion we are defeating our own ends and
justifying the actions of our persecutors."

The more indignant his Anarchist opponents became in the course of
debate, the calmer and more complacent grew Norbery. "Abuse me," he
would say, "insult me, use violence towards me, if you will; I shall
turn the other cheek." Once a hot-headed Italian Anarchist lost patience
with him and threw him downstairs. He lay where he fell with a sprained
ankle, repeating good words from the Sermon on the Mount, until his
adversary, overcome with shame and remorse, picked him up and bandaged
his injured limb. Once during certain strike riots in the North of
England, Norbery journeyed to the scene of trouble to preach passive
measures and the Anarchist principles to the rioters. He was dragged
from his platform by the police and badly hustled and knocked about.
But Norbery was determined on having his say; he procured a chain and
padlock, chained himself to a lamppost, threw away the key, and resumed
the interrupted course of his harangue. A large crowd gathered round the
persistent orator, attracted partly by his eloquence and partly by the
novelty of his situation. The police hurried to the scene and tried to
drag him down; his coat and shirt, torn to shreds, remained in their
hands, while the semi-naked Anarchist preached away to the constantly
increasing crowd. The officers of the law foamed with rage, and
threatened and pommelled the enchained and defenceless Norbery. Norbery
grew more eloquent and more argumentative under this treatment. Nearly
an hour passed before a file could be procured and the chain severed,
and by that time Norbery had ample opportunity to finish his discourse,
and was conveyed to the police station in a fainting and exhausted
condition.

Armitage and I engaged in endless discussions with Norbery on the
question of violence, maintaining on our side that violence could only
be overcome by violence, and that, however peaceful our ultimate aims
might be, force must inevitably be used towards their attainment. We
argued and adduced reasons in support of our views, and Norbery argued
and adduced counter-reasons in support of his views, but neither the
one nor the other of us was ever in the least affected by his opponent's
eloquence, and at the end of the discussion we were all, if anything,
more staunchly persuaded of the sense and justice of our own case than
at the start. So much for the profitableness of debate between confirmed
partisans.

Émile Henry was representative of the theoretical dynamitard; Matthieu,
like Ravachol, of the dynamitard by passion. A----, who belonged rather
to the Ravachol type, and ended by killing one of the crowned heads
of Europe, was during a few weeks a frequenter of the _Tocsin_. He had
turned Anarchist in revolt against the society which had cramped his
life, starved him in childhood, overworked his body, underfed his mind,
where he had found neither place nor welcome. Born into the lowest
depths of society, dragged up amid criminals and drunkards, he had spent
his early years between the streets and the jail-house, at times working
his undeveloped muscles, at other times begging or picking pockets.

"It is all very well," he said to me one day, "for those on the top
rungs of the ladder to talk of the unrelenting laws of nature and the
survival of the fittest. For my part I have felt very forcibly one great
law of nature, the law of self-preservation: the right to live when you
have once been born, the right to food and to the pleasures of life, and
I determined to survive at all costs. When my stomach is empty and my
boots let in water, the mere sight of a replete and well-clothed man
makes me feel like murder. It may be true that it is natural for the
strongest and the best men to rise above their fellows, but even this
is not the case in our society of to-day. The weakest and the worst have
somehow got to the top, and giants are bolstering up the impotence of
dwarfs. These dwarfs are crushing the life-blood out of us. We must pull
them down, exterminate them; we must turn the whole world upside down
before we can create a new and better order of things."

His action was not a theoretical protest translated into deeds; it was
an act of vengeance, of personal and class revenge.

Giannoli was a type apart. His desires and actions were responsible for
his views. They coloured and distorted his opinions and destroyed all
sense of proportion. An incident in his private life would stand up
giant-like in the way of all the doctrines in the world, dwarfing
opinions and creeds. He was a physically active man and his ideas grew
out of his life, whereas men like Kosinski might be said to abandon the
material life in the pursuit of an ideal.

Giacomo Giannoli was a man of some education, and no ordinary degree of
natural refinement and culture, one whom you would pronounce at first
sight to be a gentleman. He was the son of a fairly well-to-do builder
in a provincial town of Lombardy, and had received a good general
education in boyhood. Early left an orphan by his father's death, he
had inherited his business, and for some years he carried it on
prosperously, living with his mother and sisters. But before he was
two-and-twenty his naturally erratic disposition asserted itself, and he
chafed under the restraints and monotony of life in a small provincial
town. He sold up his business at a great loss, well-nigh ruining his
family, had it not been for his mother's small private means; and with
his share of the proceeds of the sale he travelled about for some years,
leading a roving life, and devoting most of his time and cash to the
Anarchist propaganda, constantly getting into troubles and bothers, at
times in hiding, at others in prison, always in difficulties, growing
harder and harder up as the months went by, and his moderate means
slipped through his untenacious fingers.

Two convergent factors had led up to this sudden change in his life.
Firstly, an incident of a private nature which revolutionised his
notions of individual morality, and secondly, the discovery of the
Anarchist doctrines which gave form to his new views. The incident which
was primarily responsible for his new views of life, he recounted to me
not long after his arrival in London.

"It was a woman," he said, "who completely altered my views of life, and
made me see how perverted and unnatural are our ideas of sex and love
and morals, and, in short, of everything. She was an ignorant peasant
girl who lived in a neighbouring village, but a woman of rare mind and
character. I shall never forget her, nor what I owe her. I was a young
fellow of some twenty-one years at the time, and I loved this girl with
all the passion and faith of a youth of those years. Teresina loved me
in return, and for some two years we lived on happily till one day it
was brought to my knowledge that she was unfaithful to me. I was beside
myself with grief and mortification and jealous fury. For some hours I
just raged up and down my room like one demented, crying like a child
one minute, cursing and meditating revenge the next. I felt that I
must have blood at all costs to appease my passion--Teresina's or her
lover's, or somebody's. I was to meet Teresina that evening as usual
towards nine o'clock, and I thought the intervening hours would never go
by. One hope suddenly suggested itself to me, and I clung desperately to
it. 'Perhaps it is false!' I said to myself. 'I will ask Teresina. It is
all a lie,' and then 'Proofs, proofs, I must have proofs!' I cried, and
once more my thoughts turned back to murder. Thus I went through the
long hours, and at last evening came--a beautiful warm May evening, and
long before the appointed hour I was at our rendezvous in a deserted
_podere_ on the mountain-side, overgrown with flags and other spring
flowers, among which the fireflies were flitting noiselessly. I had no
eyes for the beauty of the scene, however. I paced up and down waiting
for my sweetheart, cursing the treachery of women and the blindness
of men. Suddenly she appeared, dark against the clear evening sky,
graceful, gay, and unconscious as ever. Without a word of welcome
I rushed at her, seized her by the arm, and hurled forth all my
accusations and all my reproaches.

"'Tell me it is not true,' I cried at last, 'tell me it is not true, or
I will kill you where you stand!'

"I expected the usual routine of tears and protestations of innocence,
all the lies and subterfuges with which women are wont to defend
themselves against the unreasoning savagery of their mates. I was
disappointed. Teresina stood perfectly silent till I had finished
speaking; then without flinching, without one instant's hesitation, she
answered, 'It is true. Every word of it is true.'

"If the moon and the stars had all dropped simultaneously out of heaven
at my feet I should not have been more astonished. The calmness of her
answer, the steady earnestness of her gaze as she looked back fearlessly
into my eyes, her utter lack of subterfuge, took away my breath.
I dropped her arm and stood staring at her, bereft of speech and
understanding. At last I blurted out stupidly that I did not understand
her, that I must be going mad, and entreated her to explain.

"'I said it was true; that I love Giordano, and have accepted his love,'
she answered. Still I did not fully grasp her meaning.

"'But, Teresina, I thought that you loved me; have you lied to me then?'
I exclaimed.

"'No, I have not lied,' she answered me. 'I have never lied to you,' and
she took my hand in her strong little hand, and led me like one blind
or intoxicated to the projecting root of a tree close by, and there sat
down by my side.

"'Listen,' she said, still holding my hand in hers, 'I ought to have
told you what I have to say before now. I only hesitated because I
knew it would cause you acute suffering at first ... until you could
understand. Believe me, I do love you as much as ever I did, and I could
not bear even the thought of living without you. I love Giordano too,
in a different way it is true, but still I love him. He has not got
your mind or your heart, or your wonderful knowledge' (she was a very
ignorant girl, so far as learning was concerned, and my small knowledge
of books appeared to her little short of miraculous, poor child!), 'but
then he has some qualities you do not possess. Well, I love him for
these, and I enjoy being with him in a quite different way from what I
experience with you.'

"I was silent, and she continued after a short pause:--

"'Nothing is more brutish or more selfish than jealousy, my friend. If I
thought another woman could give you a moment's happiness, I should
say: "Take it, enjoy it!" We do not grudge our friends every moment of
enjoyment not enjoyed in our company. We wish them other friendships and
other joys. What is there in the love between man and woman which should
make us so selfish and so unreasonable? For my part, I must have freedom
at all costs, absolutely at all costs. It is dearer to me than anything
else in life, and I had sooner sacrifice even love and happiness;
indeed, I cannot love or be happy without it. For God's sake grant me
this liberty as I grant it to you! Take my love as I can give it to you,
but do not ask me to be your slave on its account! Be sure you have my
heart, and little of it remains to be squandered in other directions.
What does the rest matter? I do not grudge you your loves, your
pleasures, your caprices! Do not grudge me mine. Life is necessarily
full of sorrows; do not let us embitter it unnecessarily.'

"She ceased speaking. She had risen to her feet and stood in front of
me as she spoke, then as she finished she sank down on her knees by my
side.

"'Do you understand?' she asked me. 'Can you love me on these terms?
liberty--absolute liberty for us both?'

"I answered 'Yes,' nor did I ever regret the answer.

"I think that was the most momentous day in my life, for it wrought the
greatest change in me. My eyes were opened by the peasant girl's words,
and from that evening forward I regarded life quite differently. For the
first time I realised the necessity to the individual to enjoy absolute
personal freedom in love as in all else in life. All my previous ideas
and prejudices appeared to me monstrous and iniquitous. I saw the
falseness of all our ideas of morality, the absurdity of placing
conventions before nature and the detestable character of our dealings
with women and of our attitude in such matters. And with this suddenly
awakened vision I looked anew on life, and it seemed to me that till
then I had never lived. All that which I had before taken for granted
I now began to question. I found that instead of thinking out life's
problems for myself I had allowed myself to grow into other peoples'
ideas, that I had tacitly taken for right what they had pronounced
right, and for wrong what they had stigmatised as wrong. My spiritual
world now turned, as it were, a complete somersault, and I was re-born a
new man--an Anarchist.

"I and Teresina and Giordano lived very happily for some months, much
to the scandal of the narrow-minded, bigoted village folk, until I
was compelled to absent myself from the country owing to some little
disturbances in the neighbourhood in which I had got implicated.

"Teresina followed me into exile, and with little intermission remained
with me during all those early years of wanderings and adventure. She
cared little about Anarchist doctrines, though herself a born rebel and
an innate Anarchist. She did more for me than all the doctrines in the
world. Poor child! When at last I got through all my money, and life
from day to day grew harder and more precarious, food scantier, clothes
raggeder, and surroundings more dangerous, she still remained faithful
to me in her own way, but the life was too hard for her. We had spent
the summer in Paris, and there I had got seriously implicated in a
little Anarchist venture and found it necessary to flee the country
with all haste. Teresina followed me into Belgium in the bitter winter
weather. She died of consumption in a Brussels hospital shortly after
our arrival."

Such, in his own words, were the influences and the circumstances which
revolutionised Giannoli's entire life and his outlook on things.
He became one of the leaders of the most advanced section of the
"Individualist Anarchists," who maintain that not only is government of
man by man wrong and objectionable, but that no ties or obligations of
any sort bind men together. The ethics of "humanity" and "brotherhood"
are unknown to these Anarchists. They recognise no laws, social or
moral, no obligations or duties towards their fellows, no organisation
or association of any sort. They claim absolute freedom for the
individual, freedom to live, die, love, enjoy, think, work, or
take--this freedom in each individual only curtailed by others claiming
equal rights. And I am bound to admit that the question whether such
individual freedom would not tend to individual licence and domination
by the stronger and cleverer or more unscrupulous man in the future, met
with little consideration.

That it led to such licence in the present among themselves was an
indubitable fact. All the individualist Anarchists agreed that, being
at war with existing society, which interfered with, coerced, and used
violence towards them, they were at liberty to use all means against
society in retaliation--force and even fraud if expedient. But the
less intelligent and more ignorant men who came in contact with these
principles considered themselves not only at liberty to use all means
against society, the enemy; but honour or scruples of any sort among
themselves were tabooed. A naturally honourable man like Giannoli was,
of course, free from the danger of falling victim to such perverted
sophistry. But the manner in which these doctrines succeeded in
perverting the minds of fairly intelligent and well-meaning men is
illustrated by the following incident.

One evening, some months after the advent of Giannoli and his friends,
there arrived at the office of the _Tocsin_ a small party of three men
and one woman--all of them Spaniards. They requested me to help them to
procure lodgings for the night, and, as they knew nothing of the English
language, to assist them the following morning in procuring tickets,
etc., with a view to their immediate re-departure for the States.
Giannoli, who knew the men, having spent some years in Spain, explained
to me that the leader of the party, a handsome, well-spoken young man,
was an engineer belonging to a good Barcelona family. The second one,
a good-natured giant, was his brother and an engineer like himself. The
third male member of the party was a lanky, scrofulous journalist, a
man of many words and few wits. The lady, a pretty brunette, was their
"compagna." She had escaped from her family and eloped with Fernandez,
the engineer, but was apparently shared on communistic principles.

I settled the party for the night in a small hotel and procured their
tickets for the morrow's journey, after which they proceeded to hand
over to Giannoli, with many cautions and precautions, a mysterious linen
bag which, it was whispered, contained some twelve thousand lire in
bank-notes (about five hundred pounds sterling). Then, having been
assured by Giannoli that I was to be trusted, they told me their story.

The two brothers, the engineers, had till quite recently been employed
by a large electrical engineering firm in Barcelona, of which an elder
brother, some years their senior, was the manager. For some time the
two younger men had been engaged, unknown to their family, in Anarchist
propaganda, and had fallen in with the section of the _individualisti_.
Fernandez was in love with Adolfa, the daughter of a well-to-do
merchant, and had secretly talked her over to his own ideas. The girl's
parents objected to the match on account of the extreme youth of
the couple--the girl was not quite eighteen and the young man still
considerably under age. Therefore they settled to elope, and Fernandez's
brother and Vanni, their journalist friend, expressed a desire to form
an addition to the elopement. This Fernandez had at first objected to,
but the girl, who had made rapid strides into the Giannolian free-love
theories, insisted. Lack of money formed the only obstacle to this
scheme, but an unforeseen circumstance enabled them to remove it.

The eldest brother, who had charge of the finances of the establishment,
and whose business it was to pay the men their wages, wished to absent
himself from the works for a few days, and, without the knowledge of his
employers, he broke rules to the extent of handing over to his brother
Fernandez, as to one beyond suspicion, the men's wages--the five hundred
pounds now contained in the mysterious linen bag.

"Now," argued Fernandez to himself, "I, as an Anarchist, do not
recognise private property, nor any set moral laws. The company's money
is the result of plunder; they can afford to lose it and have no right
to it; I stand desperately in need of it--and it is in my hands.... My
brother?... oh, my brother, he is after all nothing but a bourgeois, and
I, as an Anarchist, admit of no family ties."

Thus when, two days later, the unfortunate manager returned, he found
his brothers gone, the money nowhere to be found, and disgrace and ruin
ahead. Driven to despair, and not knowing in what direction to turn
for the necessary sum, the wretched man ended his perplexities with
a bullet. This was the first news which greeted the runaways on their
arrival in the States.

Now the younger brothers who had perpetrated this cruel thing were not
hardened criminals. From what little I saw of them, they appeared to
be kindly, courteous, and, by nature, fairly honourable men. What they
lacked was moral strength. Under ordinarily good influences they would
have acted in an ordinarily proper way. They had not the force of
character necessary for handling the Anarchist individualist doctrines,
which, excellently as they may work with men of character, are fatal
to weaker men. The man who recognises no law outside himself must be
capable of governing himself.

The office of the _Tocsin_ was the constant scene of debate and dispute
between the two rival camps in the Anarchist party--the organisationists
and the individualists. Bonafede and Gnecco belonged to the former,
while most of the active staff of the _Tocsin_--myself among
others--adhered to the latter section. A curious feature of the
matter--and I fancy it is not exclusively characteristic of the
Anarchist party--was the amount of invective and hatred, which both
factions ought properly to have expended on the common enemy, but which
instead they spent most of their time in levelling at one another. A
casual witness of these internal strifes might have imagined that the
two parties were at the antipodes in their ideas and objects, rather
than comrades and participators in a common belief. Their dissensions
were alone forgotten in a common hatred of government and existing
society. And even in their efforts to upraise the social revolution--the
great upheaval to which all Anarchists aspired--I doubt whether there
lurked not some secret hope that the detested rival faction might
be demolished in the fray. Bonafede and Giannoli were warm friends
personally, and held one another in great esteem. Yet I can clearly
recollect Giannoli one evening, with tears in his eyes, assuring me that
his first duty when the Revolution broke out would be to disembowel his
dear friend.

"He is my friend," Giannoli said to me, "and I love him as such, and as
a man I admire him. But his doctrines are noxious; in time of Revolution
they would prove fatal to our Cause; they would be the undoing of all
the work for which we have suffered and fought. Organise a Revolution,
indeed! You might as well attempt to organise a tempest and to marshal
the elements into order! I know Bonafede to be above personal ambition,
but, take my word for it, most of these organisationists hope to
organise themselves into comfortable places when their time comes! It is
our duty to destroy them."



CHAPTER X

A FLIGHT


No man, having once thrown himself into an idea, was ever more sincerely
convinced of the truth of his beliefs or more strenuous in his efforts
to propagandise them than Giannoli. To destroy utterly the fabric
of existing society by all possible means, by acts of violence and
terrorism, by expropriation, by undermining the prevailing ideas of
morality, by breaking up the organisations of those Anarchists and
Socialists who believed in association, by denouncing such persons
and such attempts, by preaching revolution wherever and whenever an
opportunity occurred or could be improvised, to these objects he
had blindly devoted the best years of his life. His was a gospel of
destruction and negation, and he was occupied rather in the undoing of
what he had come to regard as bad than with any constructive doctrines.

All existing and established things were alike under his ban: art no
less than morals and religion. He nourished a peculiar hatred for all
those links which bind the present to the past, for ancient customs and
superstitions, for all tradition. Had it been in his power he would have
destroyed history itself. "We shall never be free," he used to say, "so
long as one prejudice, one single ingrained belief, remains with us. We
are the slaves of heredity, and of all manner of notions of duties, of
the licit and the illicit."

One day I took him to the National Gallery. I was quite unprepared
for the effect of this step. He walked about nervously for some time,
looking from one picture to another with evident displeasure. At last
he stopped in front of Leonardo's "Madonna delle Roccie," and remained
gazing at it for some minutes in silence, while a heavy frown gathered
round his brows. "I hate art," he exclaimed at last. "I consider it
one of the most noxious influences in the world. It is enervating
and deteriorating. Art has always been the slave of religion and
superstition, from the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians to our own times.
You see something beautiful, perhaps, in these pictures, in these saints
and Madonnas and Immaculate Conceptions? Well, when I look at them, all
the darkest pages of history seem to open before me, and generations
upon generations of superstitious slaves, toiling on and suffering with
the ever-present terror of hell-fires and chastisement, pass before
my mental vision. I should love to burn them all, to raze all these
galleries and museums to the ground, and libraries with them. For what
are libraries but storehouses of human superstition and error? We must
free ourselves from the past, free ourselves utterly from its toils,
if the future is to be ours. And we shall never free ourselves from the
past until we have forgotten it. Let us leave here. I cannot stand it
any longer! I do not know which is most repugnant to me, the asceticism
of these early Christians or the senseless fantasies of the Greeks," and
without further ado he fled.

Fired by this gospel of destruction, he spent his life wandering about
Europe, never resting for a month together, wrenching himself free from
all those ties which might curtail the freedom of his actions. Although
not fashioned by nature for enduring hardships, he alternately suffered
cold, hunger, heat, fatigue, privations, and dirt. In Paris one week,
making a brief sojourn in Spain the next, fleeing thence under warrant
of arrest to find himself some days later in hiding in Italy; at times
in prison, always in danger and uncertainty; starving one day, in fairly
flourishing conditions the next, never certain what fortune the morrow
might bring: thus the years went by, until, escaping from _domicilio
coatto_, or worse, in Italy, he had at length made his way to London and
the office of the _Tocsin_, quite broken down in health after the long
winter tramp. As I knew him, among his few personal friends, Giannoli
was loyal and honourable in the extreme, independent and proud. Like
many other Anarchists he entertained an almost maniacal prejudice
against plots and conspiracies of any kind, maintaining that such
organisations were merely police traps and death-gins. "Propaganda by
deed"--outrage, in short--they maintained should, and could, be the
outcome only of entirely individual activity. Never, indeed, did police
or press make a greater blunder than when they attributed deeds of
violence to associations and large conspiracies, and sought for or
denounced accomplices. Every one of those outrages and assassinations
which startled Europe was the act of a single man, unaided by, and
frequently unknown to other Anarchists.

This horror of plots and associations was, when I first met him, one of
the most noticeable traits about Giannoli. He was beginning to lose
his earlier assurance, worn out by the roving life he had led, and was
growing suspicious in the extreme. "Such-a-one is a police emissary," or
"So-and-so is not to be trusted" were words constantly on his lips.

To me he took a great liking, and he always showed implicit faith in me
both as an Anarchist and an individual. "You are a true Anarchist," he
said to me one day, "and I would trust you with anything, _even_" and
he emphasised the word so as to give greater weight to the compliment,
"_even_ with _explosives_!"

His suspiciousness, however, grew by leaps and bounds during his sojourn
in London. Every day he threw out hints against some new person or some
fresh imaginary conspiracy. There was a plot brewing, he informed
me, among various false comrades to ruin him. He was the victim of a
conspiracy to deprive him of his liberty and perhaps even of his life.
Not a day passed but some covert threat was made against him; men whom
he had believed his comrades, and to whom he--fool that he was!--had
confided the deadliest secrets in the past, had given him to understand
the power they held over him, and had made it clear that they would
avail themselves of it should it serve their purpose. "What fools
we Anarchists are," he exclaimed to me one day, "ever to feel any
confidence in any one! We are no longer free men when we have done this.
We are slaves."

I watched the progress of this monomania with painful interest, for
among all the Anarchists there was no individual for whom I entertained
a more genuine regard than for Giannoli. One of the worst aspects of
the matter, moreover, was that I was really unable to judge how far
Giannoli's suspicions were true and how far imaginary. As to his
sincerity there was no possibility of doubt, and this lent to all he
said an air of verisimilitude which was most convincing. I did not know
the majority of the other Italians well enough to feel positive as to
their honesty, and many of them were uncertain and somewhat suspicious
characters. Morì, for instance--the youthful Neapolitan already referred
to, the enigmatic "buttered muffin"--was quite incomprehensible. He was
a youth of no particular intelligence, and certainly of no ideality or
genuine political or anti-political convictions, and I was quite at a
loss to conjecture why he had followed the Anarchists into exile--his
only apparent reason being a disinclination to study and a desire to
escape from school. When Giannoli informed me that he was a police-spy I
really did not know whether to believe him or not.

And as the weeks passed on, Giannoli's condition grew worse and worse,
and I could see that a crisis must inevitably follow. Nor was I mistaken
in this conviction.

Late one afternoon, towards the end of September, I was busy in the
printing-room "making up" the pages of the forthcoming number of the
_Tocsin_, when, looking up from my work on which I was very intent, I
saw Giannoli walk in hurriedly with his usual restless step, and look
about the place in a nervous short-sighted way, evidently in search of
somebody. He was just about to leave again, not having noticed me, when
I called to him. "Oh, Isabel," he replied, evidently much relieved, "are
you here then!" and he came up to me. "I did not see you!" and then,
casting a glance round the room, he inquired, "Are we quite alone?"

"There are others upstairs," I answered. "If you wish to speak to me
alone I will come to your room a little later, when I have finished this
work."

"Oh, thank you, thank you," he exclaimed; "I _must_ speak to you;
I shall wait for you till you come;" and he hurried away, once more
looking furtively round the office as though fearing he were watched.

From his manner it was evident to me that he was terribly perturbed
about something and that his fears and suspicions were reaching a
climax. "Whatever can be the matter?" I asked myself as I hammered away
at my form. "Has anything serious really happened?"

Towards seven o'clock I left the printing-office and the work to the
tender mercies of Short, who was just writhing out of a peaceful sleep
of some hours' duration on the "bed" of the machine, and made my way
towards Giannoli's room, which though quite close was by no means easy
of access. Turning to my right, half-way down the court-yard, I passed
into Mrs. Wattles's house, at the summit of which my friend was located;
and here at once my progress was arrested by that lady herself, only
half sober and in a mood evidently requiring sympathy.

"Oh, my dear," she exclaimed, "are you going up to see that pore young
man? I don't know what's gone wrong with 'im of late, but for all the
world 'e looks as if 'e were sickening for something. To look at 'im's
enough. It just sets my inn'ards all of a 'eave and a rumble, and I 'ave
to take a little drop o' something warm to settle 'em again."

"Damnation!" I muttered inwardly at finding myself trapped at such a
moment; but there was nothing for it; I had to wait and hear out the
long and weary recital of the sickness and agony of her deceased son, to
whom she had suddenly discovered a resemblance in Giannoli. At the end
of a long discourse, full of those "sickening details" in which women
of her class delight, she summed up her case with a brief but telling
epitome of his career, to the effect that he never smoked, nor drank,
nor swore, but that he "only gave one sniff and died;" and I, determined
to escape from the inevitable sequel, when Wattles senior's vices would
be declaimed in contrast to the son's virtues, beat a hasty retreat.
A few scraps of this anticlimax, mingled with hiccups and sobs, wafted
after me as I wended my way up the uneven wooden stairs. At the top
of these a perilous-looking ladder gave access to a trap-door, through
which I dexterously made my way into Giannoli's room.

The interior was familiar to me--a squalid little den, some ten feet
square, whose dirty, brown-paper-patched window looked out over the
chimneys and yards of the "Little Hell" district. In one corner of the
room was a mysterious cupboard, through which a neighbouring chimney
contrived to let in a constant supply of filthy black smoke. The bare
unwashed boards were rotting away, and at one spot the leg of the bed
had gone through the floor, to the considerable alarm of its dormant
occupant. The wall-paper, which had once been a gorgeous combination of
pink and cobalt and silver, was tattered and discoloured, and so greasy
that one might imagine that generations of squalid lodgers had made
their meals off it. The furniture consisted of a small table, now
covered with a perpetual litter of papers; a ramshackle wash-hand stand,
on which a broken vegetable dish served as a receptacle for soap and
such objects; a bed, which bred remarkable crops of fleas, and to which
clung an old patchwork quilt, but which was otherwise poor in adornment;
a chair, and an old travelling-box. As I have already mentioned, a
trap-door in the floor gave access to this apartment. There was no other
door.

When I entered Giannoli was sitting at his table with his face buried
in his hands, so deeply absorbed in his own reflections that for some
seconds he did not notice my advent. When at last I made my presence
known to him he gave a violent start, and, holding out both his hands,
he wrung mine for some moments in silence. Then he motioned me to the
box; I seated myself; once more he became silent; then, suddenly raising
his head, he looked me full in the face.

"Do you know why I wished to speak to you?" he asked; "can you guess?
Oh, it is no light matter, Isabel, which has led me to trouble you,
no pleasant matter either. I am on the brink of ruin, threatened and
betrayed by my most trusted friends. I must leave here at once, go right
away from London and England. My life is not safe here for another day."
He spoke in Italian, and as he grew more excited his voice rose higher
and higher, though every now and again he was minded to control it, as
though fearing he might be overheard. "Yes," he continued, "those men
whom I have most trusted, whom I have treated as my own brothers, with
whom I have often shared my last shilling and the very clothes off my
back, have turned against me. They are in league to destroy me. They are
plotting against my liberty and my life!" For some minutes he raved on
in this style, every now and again breaking off into curses, while I
listened half horrified, half incredulous.

"For goodness' sake," I exclaimed at last, "do try and be calmer,
Giannoli, and tell me what has happened and what you wish me to do."

"You are right," he answered, making an effort to control himself; "I
must explain the matter or you cannot understand.... I will talk to you
frankly, for you at any rate are above suspicion. You may perhaps be
aware that I have been connected with many serious Anarchist ventures
in the past. The explosions at St. ----, the affair in V---- three years
ago, the sacking of the bank in Barcelona. All of these were, of course,
very dangerous matters, in which I risked my life; but it all tended
towards the destruction of society, and I readily took the risk. As far
as possible I avoided taking other comrades into my confidence--partly
out of regard for my own safety, partly with a view to theirs. To one or
two well-trusted men, however, I confided my projects, so that in case
of my arrest all proper measures might be taken." (Gnecco was one of
these "trusted comrades," B---- and Morì were others.) "I was mistaken
in my estimate of these men, mistaken in my confidence in them. From
their lips my secret has been wormed or bought by others, until now it
has become a byword, and every indiscreet fool and paid spy in our midst
knows the tale of my past better than I do myself. I no longer
dare attend our meetings, for all around me I hear whisperings and
insinuations, and my name being passed from one mouth to another along
with references to my past actions. The torture is becoming unendurable.
Some of these cowards even descend to taunting me with their knowledge;
and when I, in any way, cross their purposes in our discussions, they
threaten me covertly with exposure. That disgusting young fool, Morì,
only to-day, being jealous of me in some trivial matter, tried to
intimidate me by hinting at the V---- affair. I felt that I could have
struck him down where he stood; and then a sense of my own impotence
overtook me, and I stood there, silent and confused, trying to laugh
the matter off, as though I had not grasped his meaning. But I can stand
this state of things no longer: it is driving me mad. When I am alone
now I suddenly start with the feeling that some one is coming on me
unawares. This afternoon, wishing to be alone and to think matters over,
I took a walk about the Park, but the very trees seemed to be whispering
about me, and before long I perceived that I was followed, that my
movements were being dogged step by step. When I am alone in my room
they do not even leave me in peace. They obtain entrance here by means
of that Wattles woman, who is evidently in their pay. B---- cannot
forgive me for not having appropriated to our private use the money
expropriated in Barcelona for the propaganda; and this indeed is one
of their principal grievances against me. Would you believe it, Isabel,
last night he actually got into this house and woke me from sleep by
shouting the name of the bank through that hole? When I rushed down to
find him, determined to teach him a sound lesson, he was gone. But what
use is there in my enlarging on this subject? You cannot fail to see
the danger I am in, and the absolute imperative necessity for flight.
Another day's procrastination may be my undoing. Who knows what signal
they are awaiting to denounce me, and how many others may be implicated
in my ruin? I must get away from here; I must flee in absolute secrecy,
and none of them must be allowed to suspect where I am gone. You and
Kosinski alone I can trust. You alone must be in the secret of my
flight. Will you help me, Isabel?" and at this point Giannoli seized my
hand, and then, overcome and unnerved by excitement, he allowed his head
to sink on to the table and sobbed convulsively.

My head was fairly swimming by this time. How far was all this true? how
far the imaginings of an over-wrought, over-excited brain? However, the
immediate urgencies of the situation gave me no time to carefully weigh
the matter. I must either act or refuse to act, thereby leaving my
friend alone to his despair and possible ruin. I decided on the former
course.

"I think that you exaggerate, Giannoli," I answered him. "You are ill
and over-wrought, and require rest and change. Get away from here by all
means if there is any danger in remaining, but do not take too gloomy a
view of the situation. I am at your disposal and willing to help you in
every way in my power. Tell me where you think of going, and what I can
do. But in the meantime, had we not better get supper somewhere, and
discuss the situation over a little reassuring food?"

This unheroic but practical suggestion met with poor Giannoli's
approbation, and he confessed to not having broken his fast all day.
He also seemed relieved at the prospect of leaving the vicinity of the
office where he was convinced that spies surrounded him, and having
thanked and re-thanked me over and over again for my proffered
assistance, he led the way down the ladder, and together we gained
the street. I was horribly shocked at the haggard strained look of the
unfortunate Italian which the clearer light down here revealed. He
had aged ten years since his arrival. We made our way towards a
small restaurant in Soho frequented principally by the lower order of
_cocotte_, and here over a savoury but inexpensive meal we discussed our
plans.

"I can scarcely dare believe that this hell is coming to an end!"
exclaimed Giannoli. "The assurance of your sympathy is already
lightening my burden. I am beginning once more to take hope and courage!
Oh, to have at last left that awful den where night and day I have felt
myself watched by unseen treacherous eyes, and my every breath noted by
my enemies! I shall never put foot there again. You and Kosinski must
get my things away from there to-night, and to-morrow I leave London by
the first continental train."

"Where do you purpose going?" I inquired.

"To South America, as soon as the arrival of funds will allow it, but,
this not being practicable for the moment, I propose going first to
Lisbon. There I will hide for a few weeks until I restart for Buenos
Ayres, and I trust that this will have the advantage of putting my
'friends' off the track. Even for this little voyage I do not at the
present moment possess the necessary funds, but in this you can no
doubt assist me, for in a few days I expect some thirty pounds from my
relations in Italy. If you will return to my room to-night you might
rescue my guitar and what few little objects of value I possess and pawn
them, and burn all papers and documents of any kind."

"You have left everything till rather late!" I could not help
exclaiming, not a little taken aback at the amount to be done, and at
the rapidly advancing hour.

Supper over, I left Giannoli in Oxford Street, and made tracks for his
lodging, which by great good luck I reached without any obstruction. I
locked myself in, rescued a few papers of importance, burnt the rest,
put his scanty personal belongings together in a box which it had been
agreed I was subsequently to send Kosinski to fetch, and having secured
his guitar, a silver-handled umbrella, and two or three other articles
of small value, I proceeded with these to a neighbouring pawnbroker. I
may mention here that since my connection with the Anarchist movement,
and its consequent demands on my pocket, I had become quite familiar
with the ins and outs, and more especially the ins, of these most
invaluable relatives.

I reached the side door of Mr. Isaac Jacob's establishment on the stroke
of eleven, but as Providence and would-be drunkards had mercifully
ordained that pawnbrokers should remain open later than usual on
Saturday, I was still able to effect an entrance. I laid my goods down
on the counter, and politely requested the temporary loan of 3 pounds.
"Three pounds for this damned lot of old rubbish," exclaimed the
indignant Jew. "Do you take this for a public charity? It's not worth
fifteen shillings to me, the whole lot!" and he turned the things over
with his greasy hands, as though they were objectionable offal. We
finally compromised for thirty-two shillings, with which sum in my
pocket I triumphantly sallied forth.

My next move was to disinter Kosinski, whom I felt pretty certain of
finding at a certain coffee-stall where, at that advanced hour, he was
in the habit of making his one and only diurnal, or rather nocturnal
repast. This coffee-stall was situated at the corner of Tottenham Court
Road and a side street, and there, sure enough, stood Kosinski, munching
sardines on toast, and buns, and drinking coffee, surrounded by a motley
group of cabmen and loose women. These had evidently grown used to his
regular attendance and treated him with marked respect and friendliness,
many of the unfortunate women having often had to thank him for a meal
and the price of a night's lodging when luck had failed them in other
directions.

Kosinski was somewhat taken aback at my sudden appearance. "You,
Isabel!" he exclaimed in some confusion, "what can have brought you
here? But may I offer you a little supper? These buns are excellent!"

Tired and worried as I was, I could not help smiling at the awkward
manner in which he made this offer. "No, thank you," I answered, "I
am not hungry. I have come to fetch you in connection with a rather
important matter. Can you come with me when you have finished your
supper?"

"Yes, certainly," answered Kosinski, "if there is anything I can do.
Just let me finish these few mouthfuls and I will follow you. In the
meantime will you explain what is the matter?"

Without further ado I explained to him the whole Giannoli affair as I
understood it. It was a relief to me to do so, and I was anxious to
hear his opinion. He was silent for some minutes after I had finished
speaking, and munched reflectively the last relics of his supper.

"I am afraid," he said at last, "that Giannoli is not quite well--not
quite well, mentally, I mean," he added after a slight pause. "At the
same time, it is quite possible that there is some truth in what he
suspects. Spies have always been abundant in our party and Giannoli is a
very likely victim. He has been imprudent in the past, too believing and
too foolhardy. I do not know very much about the men whom he primarily
suspects, but Gnecco certainly I believe to be above suspicion. In any
case it will be safer for him to leave.... I am ready now.... What can I
do? Where are you going?"

"Home, and to bed," I answered. "I have been on my feet all day and I am
very tired. Moreover, there is nothing that I can do till to-morrow."

I then explained to him what he was to do, where we were to meet on
the following morning, and where he could find Giannoli that night. He
acquiesced and we parted.

Early the following morning I found Giannoli and Kosinski, as
prearranged, awaiting my arrival under the bridge of Waterloo Station.
Both looked very washed out, with the fagged and pasty look of people
who have been up all night. They were strolling up and down, carrying
Giannoli's box between them, and making a fine but very obvious show of
indifference towards a policeman who eyed them suspiciously. "Here, move
on, you fellows," he was saying gruffly as I came up with them, and on
perceiving me they seemed glad enough to be able to do so.

"That stupid policeman wanted to arrest us as rogues and vagabonds,"
Kosinski explained to me as we made our way towards a neighbouring
coffee-shop for breakfast. "A pretty fix that would have been just
now! We had scarcely settled down for a quiet sleep on the box when the
meddlesome fool came up and asked our names and addresses, what we had
there, what we were doing at that hour, and threatened to take us in
charge unless we moved on. When I explained that we were simply waiting
for our train he laughed, and said that was a likely tale! If you had
not come along and thus confirmed our assertion that we expected a
friend, I really believe he would have arrested us."

"Well, is everything arranged?" I inquired as we settled down to our
breakfast. "How did you get on last night?"

"Oh, we have had nothing but mishaps and adventures all night," returned
Kosinski. "What a night! Thank goodness it is over at last. After you
left, towards one o'clock, I went off to Giannoli's room to fetch his
box. I confess that I felt a little nervous about this, for I dreaded an
encounter with that horrible Mrs. Wattles. She talks and talks and talks
to me whenever she sees me, and insists upon asking the most indelicate
questions. She is a perfect savage. But no matter; let me get on. As I
crawled upstairs, I heard her in her room abusing her poor husband in
the most disgusting terms. I held my breath and crept up. I found the
trunk right enough in the corner, though it was none too easy to find,
as there was no light in the room, and I was afraid of lighting even a
match for fear of attracting attention. But on the way down a terrible
accident occurred. My foot caught in a scrap of oilcloth at the top of
the stairs, just outside Mrs. Wattles's room, and I fell. Crash down
the stairs went the box, and I rattled after it. The noise, of course,
brought Mrs. Wattles screaming and swearing to the door. Then, bruised
and bewildered as I was, I seized on the box and fled. Down the
remaining stairs, out through the door, and into the street, I ran as
for dear life. Oh I have never run like that before, Isabel! I remember
years ago, when escaping from prison in Russia, my life depended on the
efficiency of my legs. But I did not run with such fervour as I ran last
night from that woman. I still feel unspeakably grateful when I think
that I escaped without being recognised. She raced down after me, but
being half-drunk she fell in the passage, and it was that which saved
me.... I found Giannoli in Trafalgar Square."

The remainder of the night they had spent peacefully enough, wandering
about the streets, occasionally being "moved on" by a policeman, until
the sceptical officer already referred to had evinced an intention of
arresting them both as rogues and vagabonds. I could not help smiling
at the peremptory manner in which poor Giannoli's adventures had almost
been brought to a conclusion.

I gave Giannoli the proceeds of the previous night's pawnings, and I and
Kosinski turned out on the table what money we had about us. It was
just sufficient to cover the expenses of the first stage of Giannoli's
journey.

We proceeded--a quaint procession--to the station. Kosinski led the way
with head bent forward and even resolute tread, apparently untired and
unaffected by his night's vicissitudes, with the much battered box
on his shoulders. Behind him followed Giannoli and myself, the former
nervous and unstrung, constantly turning from right to left with the
idea that we were being followed. In the station, half deserted this
Sunday morning, we had another long wait. We talked of many things
together, and I had never found Kosinski so friendly and communicative
before. There existed between Giannoli and himself the keen sympathy and
understanding of two men equally devoted to an idea, equally willing to
sacrifice everything to it. The Russian was more of a philosopher than
the Italian, more engrossed in abstractions, more oblivious of his own
personality, and this it was that had saved him from the possibility of
Giannoli's terrible malady. At the same time he was by no means inclined
to make light of Giannoli's fears, and together they talked them over,
Kosinski promising to investigate them after his friend's departure, and
to see if it was possible to discover who was really at fault.

"No man can ever hold such threats over me," said Kosinski, "for I have
never taken any one into my confidence. I have always acted alone. Some
day it may fall to my lot to pay with my life for some action on
behalf of our ideas. When that moment comes I shall be ready for the
sacrifice."

"I too," exclaimed Giannoli with fervour--"I too would not hesitate
to make the sacrifice if I felt the right moment had arrived. If
to-morrow--if at this very moment--I saw the means of advancing the
Anarchist cause by the sacrifice of my life, I would give it without
regret or hesitation. But to lose it for no purpose, before I have
finished my work, to fall a victim to the envy and treachery of my own
comrades, and to involve others in my own ruin, I cannot bear. When my
time comes to die I wish to feel that my death is at any rate of some
use. There are moments when an Anarchist can help his ideas on better by
dying than by living. But for me the moment is not yet quite ripe."

He then relapsed into silence, and the two friends sat together,
engrossed in their own reflections, without saying a word.

After a time Giannoli turned to me: "I will write to you as soon as I
reach Lisbon, Isabel, and let you know how I am getting on. There
at least I am little known, and I will stay with an old friend whose
sincerity is above suspicion--Avvocato Martini. You and Kosinski are the
only two persons whom I regret in leaving London. You have done more for
me than I can ever thank you for. You have saved my life, and although
I do not value life for itself, it may be of value to our Cause, and
I hope yet to give it for some good purpose. Give what explanation you
think fit of my disappearance. Above all, let no one suspect where I am
gone."

The train left at ten o'clock. Giannoli was deeply affected at parting
from us, and as the train was about to leave he seized our hands and
embraced us. "Something tells me," he exclaimed, "that I shall never see
either of you again. Write to me sometimes and bear me in mind. Do not
believe any lies you may be told about me. I have only our principles at
heart. Good-bye," and the train steamed out of the station.

I remained alone with Kosinski. The hour was still quite early, and
there was much to be talked over together. "Let us go to some picture
gallery," I suggested, "so as to talk things over and to settle what we
are to give out concerning Giannoli's disappearance."

"No, please, don't," answered the Russian in genuine alarm; "you know
how I hate art, Isabel. It goads me to madness. We must think of some
other place."

We strolled out of the station together and wended our way across the
bridge and along the Strand, up by St. Martin's Church, and eventually
found ourselves close to old St. Giles's Churchyard. "Let us sit down
here," I said, indicating a seat; "I am tired of walking."

"It is little better than a picture gallery," murmured Kosinski, "but it
will do if you are tired," and we sat down. Kosinski advised me to feign
absolute ignorance of Giannoli's whereabouts and to set afloat the idea
of his having committed suicide. He asked me to let him know as soon
as I received news from the fugitive, and he, in the meantime, would
investigate the matter of the "conspiracy." As we parted he said to me:

"I am very glad, Isabel, that I have had to deal with you in this
matter. You may sometimes have thought me unduly harsh in my estimate of
your sex. I am not without reason in this. Women are rarely of much
use in a movement like ours. They so rarely seem able to forget
_themselves_, to detach themselves from the narrow interests of their
own lives. They are still the slaves of their past, of their passions,
and of all manner of prejudices. But you are different.... There have
even been moments when I felt that I had other things to say to you,
things which it is better to leave unsaid. I must not be guilty of the
weakness which I condemn in women. An Anarchist's life, you see, is
scarcely his own. He has no time to indulge in personal sentiment.
Good-bye," and before I had time to answer he was gone.

I returned home and spent the remainder of the day locked in my room,
absorbed in many conflicting thoughts. I was grieved beyond words at
Giannoli's trouble, at the possibility of foul play, at the almost more
grievous possibility of mental disorder in him. Then again and again
Kosinski's last words recurred to me, and I could not help reflecting
that, slight as they were, he had probably never said so much to any
other woman. I was compelled to admit to myself that the Russian, for
all his strange ideas and brusque manners, had grown to be a great deal
to me. But I felt that he was a hopeless case--the kind of man to whom
personal happiness was unknown, and who would succeed in rendering
unhappy any one rash enough to care for him. "How easy happiness might
be," I reflected, "with our ideas, with our freedom from prejudice. And
yet it is these very ideas which will ruin his life, which----" Half
unconsciously I found that my thoughts had been drifting from abstract
ideas and abstract enthusiasms to persons, and with this divorce from
abstractions began a feeling of weariness, of nausea. I thought of
Kosinski's words again, of his contempt for personal sentiment in an
Anarchist, of what he had said about women; and I struggled hard within
myself to turn my thoughts into other channels. It was useless, and at
last, weary of the effort, I retired to bed and took refuge in slumber.

During the following weeks I worked on fairly regularly at the _Tocsin_
and saw Kosinski not unfrequently, on which occasions he most carefully
avoided any recurrence of personalities, however vague these might be.
Giannoli's disappearance created considerable commotion, and every one
was at a loss to imagine what could have become of him. My relations
with those Italians whom he had suspected were naturally very strained
and uncomfortable, for I did not know what to think of them, how far to
trust or mistrust them. Kosinski, as promised, investigated the
matter as carefully as he could, but the exact truth was difficult to
ascertain. Gnecco we neither of us for one instant suspected, but we
felt some degree of uncertainty about the others. Whether or no there
had been some amount of unclean work going on, it was anyway quite
certain that a great part of Giannoli's suspicions were the outcome of
his overwrought and exhausted mental condition.

About a fortnight after his departure I received at last a letter from
Giannoli. This consisted of a few words, written evidently in much
hurry and perturbation of spirit. He thanked me for the money from his
relatives, which I had forwarded, which would, he said, enable him to
leave at once for Argentina. "It has arrived in the very nick of time,"
he wrote, "for here I am no longer safe. Avvocato Martini, of whom I
spoke to you in such high terms, is not to be trusted. He intercepts
my letters, and has, I believe, communicated with my enemies in London.
Thank Heaven! I am now able to get away. In South America I shall once
more settle down to the propaganda work, and I shall be out of the power
of these informers. My old friend, Giovanni Barelli, awaits me there.
We shall live together and life will once more become endurable. I am
anxious to hear from Kosinski. What is the result of his inquiries? My
best love to him and to you, dear friend, and again a thousand thanks to
you both. I will write at greater length from America."

I showed the letter to Kosinski. He read it through with a serious
expression. "I fear," he said, "that it is a case of hallucination, and
that there is but very slight foundation of truth to his suspicions.
I have looked into the matter and can see no adequate grounds for
suspecting the men whom he regarded as his enemies over here. Giannoli
exaggerates and distorts everything. I must write to him and try to
reassure him about this. I will tell him that he is mistaken. We cannot
afford to lose such a comrade."

"Beware," I returned half in jest--"beware, lest you too fall under his
ban."

"Oh, there is no fear of that," answered Kosinski with assurance. "He
knows me too well. I am the oldest friend he has. I can and must tell
him the truth."

Kosinski wrote, and the weeks passed on. A month after Giannoli's
arrival in Buenos Ayres I received another letter from him. Once again
he declared that he was not safe, that he must take flight. Barelli, of
whom he had always spoken with the most brotherly affection, had turned
against him. He and other false comrades had entered into a plot to
murder him, and at the time of writing he had fled from their ken and
was in hiding in some remote and populous district, awaiting the arrival
of money which would enable him to return to Europe. Then, later on,
there arrived another letter from Lisbon, disconnected in matter, shaky
in writing, full of the wildest and most improbable statements.

"I feel like a hunted animal," he wrote; "I have been driven about from
pillar to post, from one end of the civilised world to another. I am
growing very weary of all this, and am trying to devise how to terminate
a situation which is growing intolerable. Here I am again in hiding, and
dare not venture from my lair till the dead of night. What money I had
is almost at an end. My clothes are falling off my back. I have not
changed my linen for weeks, having forgotten my old valise in my hurried
departure from Buenos Ayres. My health is failing, and I feel utterly
helpless and wretched. You would be horrified if you could see me now.
I am ill, and at night I can get no sleep. Every moment I expect them to
break in, murder me, and seize my papers. Those devils from Buenos Ayres
are already on my track. I have not heard from Kosinski. His letter
has no doubt been intercepted. As soon as possible I shall proceed
to Gibraltar. I am thinking out a plan to end all this. _Do you
understand?_"

Some weeks later I received from Gibraltar a letter in which Giannoli
informed me that yet once more he was compelled to abscond himself,
further plottings against him rendering this necessary. He had been
seriously ill, he wrote, and his strength was quite giving out. He was,
at the time of writing, on the eve of departure for Barcelona, where
he was determined "to end it all." He had at last received Kosinski's
letter, and would write at greater length from Barcelona. He warned me
to beware of false friends.

These last sentences troubled me very much. What could it all mean? What
was impending? And Kosinski; did he doubt _him_ too?

But this state of uncertainty as to his meaning was destined to be but
of short duration. Barely a week had elapsed since my receipt of the
above letter when, as I stood alone in the composing-room one morning,
I was surprised to see the figure of an unknown man appear above the
balustrade leading from below. He was evidently a foreigner and a
Southerner, and walking straight up to me he asked in Italian, but with
a distinct Spanish accent, "Are you Isabel Meredith?"

On my answering in the affirmative, he handed me a sealed note on which
was written my name in Giannoli's familiar hand.

"This is for you," he said, "I bring it direct from Barcelona. It is
strictly private. Good morning," and as mysteriously as he had appeared
he was gone.

Even before opening it, the shaky writing on the envelope told me only
too eloquently that matters were no better with Giannoli at the time he
penned it. Moreover, I felt certain, from the extraordinary nature of
its delivery, that it must contain news of exceptional moment. A dull,
sick feeling of dread overcame me as I stood irresolute, holding the
unopened letter in my hand. I was tempted to put it aside and postpone
the knowledge of any unpleasant news it might contain. I knew this,
however, to be a weakness, and so with an effort I tore it open. It read
as follows:--

"DEAREST FRIEND,--This is a letter which it would be unsafe to consign
to the post. Therefore I send it to you by hand, by means of an old
friend who can be trusted. He is not a comrade, and has no knowledge of
its contents. A few days back I wrote to you from Gibraltar, telling you
of the serious break-down in my health, and of the circumstances which
had compelled me once again to leave Lisbon. Now, at last, I feel in a
measure more composed, for my resolution is taken, and I mean to end my
life--not without benefit to our Cause, I hope. You are the only person
with whom I am communicating. Even Kosinski has been bought over by my
enemies. A letter from him was forwarded to me in Lisbon, in which
he sided with the spies who have been trying to ruin me, and which
contained covert threats which I understood only too well. Thus another
illusion is shattered! The burden of all these disillusions, all these
disgusts and disappointments, is too heavy to bear any longer. I must
get away from it all before my health and intellect are completely
shattered. I have always thought suicide a cowardly death for an
Anarchist. Before taking leave of life it is his duty to strike a final
blow at Society and I, at least, mean to strike it. Here the moment is
in every way ripe. Ever since the explosion in Madrid, eight months ago,
the Anarchists have been the victims of the most savage persecutions. I
have seen one man with his nails torn off, and another raving mad with
thirst, after having been kept without water, and fed on salt cod during
sixty hours. Others have been tortured in prison in other ways--some
tortures so vile and filthy that I would not tell you of them. I write
this in order to show you that the moment is ripe here for some vigorous
act of reprisal. It is impossible to strike a blow at all those who are
responsible, for the whole of Society is to blame: but those most guilty
must suffer for it. I am prepared to strike my final blow before I take
my leave, and you will learn from the papers in a few days' time the
exact nature of the act I contemplate.

"And now I must beg you to pardon me for all the trouble and disturbance
I have occasioned you, dear friend; I can never thank you enough. You,
and you alone, have been true to me. For your own sake, I entreat you
also to beware of false friends--especially avoid Kosinski.----Yours
ever,

"GIACOMO GIANNOLI."



CHAPTER XI

A CRISIS


The flight of Giannoli, and all the worry and turmoil occasioned
thereby, told on my health. I did not admit as much to myself, and I
still kept on at the paper as usual through the very thick of it all.
For one thing, this was necessary in order not to arouse the curiosity
of many of the comrades, and moreover there is no doubt that whatever
line of life we may adopt we gradually become the creatures of our
habits, however much we may scoff at such a notion. Thus, though I had
grown out of the first stage of youthful enthusiasm when I revelled in
squalor and discomfort, and sincerely believed myself to be one of the
hubs round which the future Revolution and the redemption of mankind
circled, and though experience had opened my eyes to much that was
unlovely, and not a little which was despicable, in my associates, still
I stuck at my post and continued my work on the paper.

On arriving at the office towards nine every morning, my first task
was to get Short out of pawn in the neighbouring coffee-shop, where
he retired--regardless of the fact that his pockets were but capacious
vacuums--in order to regale himself on shop eggs and fly-blown pastry,
and where his person was detained as a pledge till my purse redeemed
him.

I would then work away, "dissing" or "comping," "locking up forms," or
writing a "leader," till some of the Italians, keenly alive to their
ownership of stomachs, would call me off to partake of a Milanese
_minestra_, or to pronounce on the excellencies of a mess of _polenta_.
Then would follow an hour devoted to digestion and talk, when Short, if
in a bad temper, would smoke abominable shag, and raise the bowl of
his clay pipe into quite perilous proximity with his eyebrows, and if
genially inclined, would entertain some one member of the company to
dark tales and fearsome hints as to the depraved habits and questionable
sincerity of his or her dearest friend.

He had of late developed a great interest in my welfare, and Kosinski
had been his special butt. He had always hated the latter on account of
his vast moral superiority to himself, and seemed specially desirous of
discrediting him in my eyes. The Russian came pretty frequently to the
office during the months following on Giannoli's disappearance. He was
always singularly uncommunicative about his own concerns; his intimate
friends were not aware of his address; how he lived or what his home
life was none seemed to know; and, indeed, he was one of those men who,
without ever saying a word to that effect, make one feel that their
private life is no concern of any one but themselves. Short, however,
hinted at things he _could_ say if he _would_, spoke in general terms of
the disgracefulness of exploiting the affections of women, referred in
an undertone to "that Kosinski's" luck, adding that, of course, one had
a right to act according to one's inclination, still Anarchists should
set an example, &c., &c. I, of course, took such observations at their
true value; I knew Short and Kosinski too well to give two thoughts to
the matter. Still when, on top of all this mysterious talk, I received
Giannoli's letter, in which he spoke of his folly in trusting his
supposed friend, and accused him of being neither more nor less than an
agent in the hands of the International police, I felt my brain whirl,
and really wondered whether I was the sole sane person in a mad world,
or whether the reverse were not the case.

It was now some weeks since I had last seen Dr. Armitage. He had written
to explain his absence, alleging stress of work, in which I readily
believed; for though I knew his regular practice had been much neglected
during the preceding year, I also knew that there was not an Anarchist
within twenty miles who did not expect him to attend on himself and
family when in illness or trouble, an obligation with which the doctor
willingly complied, though not only did he take no fees, but generally
had to provide the patients with all their creature comforts. No sort
of change had occurred in our relations to each other, but lately he
had seemed more than ever preoccupied, absorbed in the propaganda, ever
devising new plans for spreading the "movement." He seemed less and less
inclined to keep up his West End connection, and confessed that he
had but scant patience wherewith to listen to the polite ailments and
sentimental troubles of fashionable ladies. He had given much time to
the _Tocsin,_ writing many really remarkable papers for it, but lately,
since Kosinski had come more to the front, and I had been so much taken
up with Giannoli's affairs, he had, perhaps intentionally, kept more
away from the office.

It was with a feeling of real pleasure that I saw him enter at last one
Saturday evening early in April. I had been feeling tired and depressed,
and only by an effort of will had I kept myself at my work. I was struck
at the change that a few weeks had wrought in the doctor's appearance.
His hair had grown unusually long, quite noticeably so, his tall figure
was somewhat bent, and there was an unusual appearance about his dress.
He had not yet cast aside the garb of civilisation, but his trousers
evinced a tendency to shrink, and he appeared to contemplate affecting
low necks in the matter of shirts. His feet were shod in sandals of a
peculiar make, and there was a feverish look in his eyes. As he came
towards me his characteristic kindly smile lit up his drawn features,
and he grasped my hand with friendly warmth. I was delighted to see him,
but somewhat shocked at the alteration in his looks. In answer to my
inquiries as to his prolonged absence, he explained that he had been
very busy for one thing, and that he had also been much preoccupied with
his own thoughts on questions of principle and propaganda.

"You know, Isabel," he said, "my habit of silence when confronted
by mental problems. I think I must belong to the race of ruminating
animals, and it is only by quietly chewing the cud of my ideas that
I can digest and assimilate them. It used to be just the same in my
student days, and doubtless the habit will stick to me through life.
When I have once thought out a point, and settled in my own mind on the
right course of action, I am not as a rule troubled by hesitation or
doubts, and then I like to talk and discuss, but the initial stage seems
to need solitude. Besides, I know you have been very much taken up of
late months. I have seen Kosinski sometimes, and had your news from him.
You are not looking well; you must have been overtaxing your strength,
and need a rest."

"Doctor, cure yourself, I might well say," I rejoined. "There is nothing
much amiss with me. I am a little fagged perhaps, nothing more. But you
look very much run down. I am sure you have been neglecting yourself
very much of late."

"Oh, no, on the contrary," replied the doctor, "I have been giving much
thought lately to food and dress reform in their bearings on the social
question, and I have been putting some of my ideas into practice in my
own person. I have never felt in better health. All superfluous fat has
been got rid of, and my mind feels singularly lucid and clear. I have
been going on quite long rounds propagandising, often walking as much as
twenty and thirty miles a day, and, thanks to my somewhat more rational
dress and to my diet of raw oatmeal and fresh fruit, I have found no
difficulty in so doing. But will you not come for a walk with me? It is
a beautiful evening, and here the atmosphere is so close and stuffy. Do
come, I should so enjoy a quiet talk with you. I have much I want to say
to you, and I have come this evening in the hope of an opportunity to
say it."

I agreed, and we sallied forth. At the entrance to the courtyard we
encountered Mrs. Wattles holding forth to a group of gossips amongst
whom stood Short (for no scandal-mongering was too trivial to
interest him), on the disappearance of Giannoli from her house and
her suppositions as to his fate--a theme of which she never wearied. I
managed to slip by without attracting her attention, so absorbed was she
with the enthralling mystery, only to find myself in for another almost
worse danger. For there at the corner of P. Street and the Euston Road
stood the Bleeding Lamb, surrounded by a hooting and uproarious crowd.
He had, it appeared, interrupted the Gospel-preaching of the Rev.
Melchisedek Hicks with some inappropriate inquiry as to the probable
whereabouts of Nelson on the resurrection day. This was considered
irreverent by the admirers of the Rev. Hicks, who forthwith began to
jibe and jeer at the Bleeding Lamb, who, in his turn, exchanging the
meekness of the traditional victim for the righteous indignation of
a prophet misjudged, had volleyed a torrent of abuse on all present,
consigning them unconditionally to hell-fire. As Armitage and I
neared the scene a constable was taking the names and addresses of all
concerned, and was manifesting his intention of marching off the poor
Lamb to durance vile.

Armitage took in the situation at a glance, and, hurrying up, addressed
the man in blue. "I know this man very well, officer," he said in an
authoritative voice. "I can answer that he gives his name and address
correctly; there is no need to arrest him."

"And who are _you?_ I should like to know," inquired the irate
policeman; "I think I can answer for your address, Colney Hatch ain't
far off the mark."

"This is my card," answered the doctor, handing one over to the
constable with a dignified gesture. The latter seemed somewhat impressed
and taken aback, and after grumbling some remarks in an undertone and
eyeing the Lamb in a suspicious and unconvinced manner, he told him to
be off sharp if he did not wish to find himself in the cells, and
then vented his spleen and unappeased zeal on behalf of his country
by cuffing, shoving and abusing the corner-boys who had assembled to
witness the fun. We availed ourselves of the consequent confusion to
make good our escape, dodging the Lamb, who manifested an intention of
coming along with us; and soon we found ourselves, thanks to a penny
tram fare, in fresher, cleaner quarters. We got down at the corner of
Parliament Hill. The sun had just set and the clear spring twilight lent
a wonderful charm of serene peace to the scene. The undulating expanse
of Heath was growing darker and darker; in the west still lingered the
last sunset hues of pink and saffron and green; and overhead in the deep
blackening blue of night the stars were just becoming visible. We had
strolled on in silence for some time, hushed by the solemn stillness
of the evening. At last Dr. Armitage exclaimed, "Ah, Isabel, how I
sometimes long for rest and peace, and sweet wholesome surroundings! How
beautiful life might be passed with a companion such as you. The earth
is beautiful, man is naturally good; why cannot we all be happy?"

I was a little taken aback at the doctor's remark, though I had half
expected something of the sort. During the early months of my Anarchist
career, when battling with the first difficulties of starting the
_Tocsin_, we had been so constantly together that we had got into a way
of divining each other's thoughts and feelings almost without the need
of words. We never thought or talked of anything but abstract questions
of principle or the immediate needs of the propaganda, yet, as was only
natural, an undercurrent of personal sympathy had sprung up between us
which I had felt to be somewhat more pronounced on the doctor's side
than on my own. However, with him, excess of emotion always manifested
itself in renewed and redoubled zeal for the propaganda, leading him to
elaborate some quite extraordinary schemes for advancing the Cause, such
as, for instance, supplementing his daily work by keeping a coffee-stall
at night, as he considered that such a plan would afford an excellent
opportunity for quiet personal argument and for the distribution
of literature to probable converts; so that he had never broached
personalities in any definite style. Then events had followed on one
another with surprising rapidity; the advent of the Italian refugees
had contributed to change the _personnel_ if not the principles of the
_Tocsin_; a common friendship for Giannoli had brought Kosinski and
myself more together and I had, always had a decided sympathy for the
Russian, increased perhaps by the instinctive feeling that if there were
one man who would refuse to budge one inch from his principles for a
woman that man was he. I seemed to have lived ages, my character was
developing, a sense of humour was gradually modifying my views of many
matters, and during these last few months Armitage and I had drifted
somewhat apart.

There was something pathetic in his voice that night as he spoke. His
whole appearance told me that he had been passing through an acute
mental and moral crisis, and a queer feeling came over me which seemed
to warn me that something irreparable was about to take place between
us. I felt deep sympathy for this noble nature struggling for the ideal
in a world all out of gear; so thoroughly unselfish and self-sacrificing
as hardly to grasp clearly the personal side of its sufferings, and
slowly and unconsciously, in its very effort to free itself from
material trammels, falling a victim to monomania--striving too high only
to fall in a world where the sublime is divided by but a step from the
ridiculous, and where all are capable of laughing and sneering, but few
indeed of appreciating qualities such as Armitage possessed.

"We might well ask 'what is happiness?'" I rejoined in answer to his
remark, anxious to steer the conversation clear of personalities. "How
vain and trivial all our struggles seem whenever we find ourselves face
to face with the serene indifference of Nature. What are we, after all,
but fretful midges whizzing out our brief hour?"

"Ah, one is often tempted to think so," answered Armitage--and I confess
that I gave vent to a sigh of relief as I realised that he was now
started on a discussion--"but as long as injustice prevails we must
continue the struggle. I often long for rest, silence, oblivion; but the
mood passes and I awake more keenly alive than ever to the greatness of
our Cause, and our duty toward the propaganda. Nothing must be allowed
to interfere with our devotion to it, and, what is more, Isabel, we
must strive to live in such a way as to free ourselves from all
considerations that might hamper our action on its behalf. We must
simplify our lives; we must not neglect to set an example even in small
matters. The material claims of life absorb far too much of our time.
We are constantly selling our birthright for a mess of pottage. We shall
never be truly devoted propagandists till we have freed ourselves from
all care for the morrow."

"You are right," said I, "but such ideas may be carried to an excess.
We must live our lives; and as that is so we must attend more or less to
our personal wants."

"That I do not deny, Isabel," answered the doctor; "what I aim at is to
simplify them as much as possible. Thanks to my new diet I shall never
have to waste time to procure the wherewithal to fill my stomach.
Nuts and raw fruit are easily procured, and contain all the elements
essential to physical health. I am sure you will agree with me on this
point when you have considered it at length. Then again in the matter of
dress, what could be more hateful or harmful than our modern costume?
It is awful to think of the lives wasted in useless toil to produce
the means by which a so-called man of fashion contrives to make himself
hideous and ridiculous in the eyes of all sensible people. Besides there
is no doubt that we are all the creatures of our surroundings, and so
the influence of food and dress on character must be inestimable."

"Oh, doctor, do not harp so on this dress and food question!" I could
not help exclaiming. "Really, seriously, I think you have let your mind
run somewhat too much in a groove lately. Talk of vegetarianism and
dress reform! why, what you need, it seems to me, is a steak at the
Holborn and a starched shirt collar! Seriously, it grieves me to think
that you should be giving yourself up so entirely to such notions. I
consider you could do far more good to the Cause by keeping up your
practice, pursuing your studies, and working on the lines you used to be
so successful in."

Hardly had I spoken than I regretted the hastiness of my remark. I could
see at a glance that my friend was pained, more at feeling that I was
out of sympathy with him than at my actual words. He suggested that
we should turn homewards. We were nearing Fitzroy Square when he
exclaimed--

"You know, Isabel, that I have always had a great admiration for you.
I have thought you would prove one of the great figures of the coming
Revolution; I still think so, but I see that our ways are parting. You
laugh at me; yet I feel sure that my position is right. I am sorry I
have not your sympathy in my work. I had counted on it; I had come this
evening to tell you so. Perhaps some day you will understand my views
and agree with them. Till then, good-bye. I am due at a comrade's
house at Willesden; he is going in for the No Rent Campaign, and I have
promised to help him move to-night, but first I must go home and get
out of these cumbersome clothes into a more rational dress; coats and
trousers impede one's every thought and movement. Good-bye," and he
grasped my hand and was off, walking with a rapid, almost feverish
stride.

On reaching home the servant informed me that a gentleman had called
for me, and that on hearing I was out he had expressed his intention of
returning. The girl could not remember his name, but I gathered from her
description that he was a foreigner.

Just then a ring at the door interrupted her remarks, and I was
surprised to see Kosinski enter the room. He walked straight up to me
with an unwonted look of perturbation about him.

"Could you come with me at once?" he said in low, hurried tones.

"Where?" said I, feeling quite alarmed. "What is the matter?"

"With me, to my room. I need the help of some woman, but there is no
time to waste. I will explain _en route_. Will you come?"

"Certainly, at once," and I walked out with him.



I had not chanced to see him since Giannoli's last letter in which he
was denounced as belonging to the ranks of the Italian's false friends,
since when I had only heard the insinuations of Short, which, as can
easily be imagined, had not deeply impressed me, coming from such a
quarter. Still I should not have been surprised had I felt a momentary
embarrassment at finding myself suddenly in his company, and under such
decidedly unusual circumstances, but such was not the case. No one could
look into Kosinski's steady grey eyes and earnest face, pale with the
inward fire of enthusiasm, and not feel conscious of standing face to
face with one of those rare natures who have dedicated themselves, body
and soul, to the service of an ideal. I walked on hurriedly, keeping up
with his swinging stride, wondering where we were going, but not liking
to break in on his reserve by probing questions. Suddenly he seemed to
wake to a sense of reality, and turned sharply round to me.

"We are going to my room in Hammersmith," he said. "I want your
assistance, if you care to come; there is a woman there dying, a friend
of mine. You are the only person of whom I should care to ask such a
favour. Will you come? I hardly think it will be for many hours."

So then Short was right; there was a woman at the bottom of Kosinski's
life; and simultaneously with this idea there flashed across my brain a
feeling of shame at having for one instant entertained a mean thought
of my friend. "I will come," I answered; "you did well to count on my
friendship." We hurried on for several minutes in silence. Then again
Kosinski spoke:

"I had best tell you a little how matters stand," he said. "I am not
fond of talking about private concerns, but you have a right to know.
Eudoxia has lived with me for the past two years. I brought her over
with me from America. She has been suffering with consumption all this
while, and I do not think she will last the night."

"Is she a comrade?" I ventured to inquire.

"Oh, no. She hates Anarchists; she hates me. It will be a blessing to
herself when she is laid to rest at last. She was the wife of my dearest
friend, perhaps my only friend outside the Cause. Vassili had a great
intellect, but his character was weak in some respects. He was full of
noble ambitions; he had one of the most powerful minds I have known,
a quite extraordinary faculty for grasping abstract ideas. I was first
drawn towards him by hearing him argue at a students' meeting. He was
maintaining a fatalistic paradox: the total uselessness of effort, and
the vanity of all our distinctions between good and bad. All our acts,
he argued, are the outcome of circumstances over which we have no
control; consequently the man who betrays his best friend for interested
motives, and the patriot who sacrifices happiness and life for an idea
are morally on the same footing--both seek their own satisfaction,
aiming at that goal by different paths; both by so doing obey a blind
impulse. I joined in the argument, opposing him, and we kept the ball
going till 4 A.M. He walked with me to my lodgings and slept on a rug on
the floor, and we became fast friends. But though his mind was strong,
he was swayed by sensual passions. He married young, burdening himself
with the responsibility of a woman and family, and went the way of all
who do so. He would have lost himself entirely in the meshes of a
merely animal life; he seemed even to contemplate with satisfaction the
prospect of begetting children! But I could not stand by and witness the
moral degradation of my poor friend. I kept him intellectually alive,
and when once stimulated to mental activity, no one was ever more
logical, more uncompromising than he. Soon after my imprisonment he got
implicated in a conspiracy and had to flee to America. When I arrived
there after my escape I found him in the most abject condition. His
wife, Eudoxia, was ill with the germs of the disease which is now
killing her, and was constantly railing at him as the cause of their
misfortune, urging him to make a full confession and throw himself on
the mercy of the Russian authorities. Poor thing! she was ill; she had
had to leave behind her only child, and news had come of its death.
Vassili would never have done anything base, but he had not sufficient
strength of character to rise superior to circumstances. Another weak
trait in him was his keen sensibility to beauty. It was not so much the
discomfort as the ugliness of poverty which irked him. I have always
noted the deteriorating effect art has on the character in such
respects. He was grieved at his wife's illness, goaded to desperation by
her reproaches, sickened by the squalor of his surroundings, and
instead of turning his thoughts inwards and drawing renewed strength
and resolution from the spectacle of the sufferings caused by our false
morality and false society, he gave way completely and took to drink.
When I found him in New York he was indeed a wreck. He and his wife were
living in a filthy garret in the Bowery; he had nothing to do, and had
retired permanently on to a rotten old paillasse which lay in a corner;
his clothes were in pawn; he could not go out. Eudoxia earned a few
cents daily by slaving at the wash-tub, and most of this he spent in
getting drunk on vile, cheap spirits. When he saw me arrive he railed at
me as the cause of all his woes; blamed me for having dragged him on to
actions he should never have done if left to himself; and pointing to
his wife and to the squalid room, he exclaimed, 'See the results
of struggling for a higher life.' Eudoxia, for her part, hated me,
declaring that I was responsible for her husband's ruin, and that, not
content with making his life a hell on earth, I was consigning his soul
to eternal perdition. Then Vassili would burst into maudlin tears and
weep over his own degeneracy, saying that I was his only true friend.
I grieved at the decay of a fine mind; there was no hope now for him; I
could only wish that his body might soon too dissolve. I gave him what
little help I could, and he soon drank himself to death. I was with him
at the last. He seemed overcome by a great wave of pity for himself,
spoke tearfully of the might-have-beens, blamed me for having urged him
to deeds beyond his strength, and ended by exclaiming that he could
not even die in peace, as he did not know what would become of his poor
wife, whose strength was already rapidly failing. 'I am leaving her
friendless and penniless. I dragged her away from a comfortable home,
promising her happiness. She has had to sacrifice her only child to my
safety, and now, prematurely old, soured by misfortune and illness, I
am abandoning her to fight for herself. She is my victim and yours, the
victim of our ideas; it is your duty to look after her.' I promised him
so to do, and she has been with me ever since."

I had walked on, absorbed in the interest of his tale, heedless of
the distance we were covering, and now I noticed that we were already
skirting Hyde Park, and reflected that our destination must still be far
ahead.

"As your friend is so ill had we not better take the 'bus? You said we
were going to Hammersmith, and there is still quite a long walk ahead of
us," I suggested after a few minutes.

"Oh, are you tired?" he inquired; "I ought to have thought of it. I
always walk." I noticed that his hand strayed into the obviously empty
pocket of his inseparable blue overcoat, and a worried look came into
his face. I at once realised that he had not a penny on him, and deeply
regretted my remark. Not for worlds would I have suggested to him paying
the fares myself, which I should have thought nothing of doing with most
of the others.

"Oh, it was not for me," I hastened to rejoin, "I am not in the least
tired; I only thought it would be quicker, but after all we must now be
near," and I brisked up my pace, though I felt, I confess, more than a
little fagged.

Again we trudged on, absorbed in our thoughts. At last, to break the
silence I inquired of him if he had seen Armitage lately.

"It must be quite ten days now since I last saw him at a group-meeting
of the Jewish Comrades. I fear he is developing a failing common to
many of you English Anarchists; he is becoming something of a crank. He
talked to me a lot about vegetarianism and such matters. It would be a
thousand pities were he to lose himself on such a track, for he has both
intellect and character. He is unswerving where principle is at stake;
let's trust he will not lose sight of large aims to strive at minor
details."

Again a silence fell on us. My companion was evidently reviewing his
past; my brain was occupied in blindly searching the future; what would
become of us all? Kosinski, Armitage, myself? Vassili's words, "This is
the result of struggling for a higher life," haunted me. Should we after
all only succeed in making our own unhappiness, in sacrificing the weak
to our uncompromising theories, and all this without advancing the cause
of humanity one jot? The vague doubts and hesitations of the past few
weeks seemed crystallising. I was beginning to mount the Calvary of
doubt.

After a quarter of an hour Kosinski exclaimed: "Here we are. You
must not be taken aback, Isabel, if you get but scant thanks for your
kindness. Eudoxia is not well disposed towards our ideas; she looks upon
her life with me as the last and bitterest act in the tragedy of
her existence. Poor thing, I have done what I could for her, but I
understand her point of view."

Without further ado we proceeded along the passage and up the mean
wooden staircase of a third-rate suburban house, pushing past a litter
of nondescript infancy, till we stopped before a back room on the top
floor. As Kosinski turned the door handle a woman stepped forward with
her finger to her lips. "Oh, thank Gawd, you're here at last," she said
in a whisper, "your sister's been awful bad, but she's just dozed off
now. I'll go to my husband; he'll be in soon now."

"Thanks, Mrs. Day. I need not trouble you further. My friend has come to
help me."

The landlady eyed me with scant favour and walked off, bidding us
good-night.

The room was of a fair size for the style of dwelling and was divided in
two by a long paper screen. The first half was evidently Kosinski's, and
as far as I could see by the dim light, was one litter of papers, with
a mattress on the floor in a corner. We walked past the screen; and the
guttering candle, stuck in an old ginger-beer bottle, allowed me to
see a bed in which lay the dying woman. There was also a table on which
stood some medicine bottles, a jug of milk, and a glass; an armchair of
frowsy aspect, and two cane chairs. The unwashed boards were bare, the
room unattractive to a degree, still an awkward attempt at order was
noticeable. I stepped over to the bed and gazed on its occupant. Eudoxia
was a thin gaunt woman of some thirty-five years of age. Her clustering
golden hair streaked with grey; small, plaintive mouth, and clear skin
showed that she might have been pretty; but the drawn features and
closed eyelids bore the stamp of unutterable weariness, and a querulous
expression hovered round her mouth. The rigid folds of the scanty
bedclothes told of her woeful thinness, and the frail transparent hands
grasped convulsively at the coverlet. As I gazed at her, tears welled
into my eyes. She looked so small, so transient, yet bore the traces
of such mental and physical anguish. After a moment or two she slowly
opened her eyes, gazed vacantly at me without apparently realising my
presence, and in a feeble, plaintive voice made some remark in Russian.
Kosinski was at her side immediately and answered her in soothing tones,
evidently pointing out my presence. The woman fixed on me her large
eyes, luminous with fever. I stepped nearer. "Is there anything I can
do for you?" I inquired in French. "No one can do anything for me
except God and the blessed Virgin," she replied peevishly, "and they are
punishing me for my sins. Yes, for my sins," she went on, raising
her voice and speaking in a rambling delirious way, "because I have
consorted with infidels and blasphemers. Vassili was good to me; we
were happy with our little Ivan, till that devil came along. He ruined
Vassili, body and soul; he killed our child; he has lost me. I have sold
myself to the devil, for have I not lived for the past two years on his
charity? And you," she continued, turning her glittering eyes on me,
"beware, he will ruin you too; he has no heart, no religion; he cares
for nothing, for nobody, except his cruel principles. You love him, I
see you do; it is in your every movement, but beware; he will trample on
your heart, he will sacrifice you, throw you aside as worthless, as he
did with Vassili, who looked upon him as his dearest friend. Beware!"
and she sank back exhausted on the pillows, her eyes turned up under her
eyelids, a slight froth tinged with blood trickling down the corners of
her mouth.

I was transfixed with horror; I knew not what to say, what to do. I put
my hand soothingly on her poor fevered brow, and held a little water to
her lips. Then my eyes sought Kosinski. He was standing in the shadow,
a look of intense pain in his eyes and on his brow, and I knew what he
must be suffering at that moment. I walked up to him and grasped his
hand in silent sympathy; he returned the pressure, and for a moment I
felt almost happy in sharing his sorrow. We stood watching in silence;
at regular intervals the church chimes told us that the hours were
passing and the long night gradually drawing to its close. Half-past
three, a quarter to four, four; still the heavy rattling breath told us
that the struggle between life and death had not yet ceased. At last the
dying woman heaved a deep sigh, she opened her wide, staring eyes and
raised her hand as if to summon some one. Kosinski stepped forward, but
she waved him off and looked at me. "I have not a friend in the world,"
she gasped; "you shall be my friend. Hold my hand and pray for me." I
knelt by her side and did as I was bid. Never had I prayed since I
could remember, but at that supreme moment a Latin prayer learned in my
infancy at my mother's knee came back to me; Kosinski turned his face to
the wall and stood with bowed shoulders. As the words fell from my lips
the dying woman clutched my hand convulsively and murmured some words in
Russian. Then her grasp loosened. I raised my eyes to her face, and
saw that all was over. My strained nerves gave way, and I sobbed
convulsively. Kosinski was at my side.

"Poor thing, poor thing!" I heard him murmur. He laid his hand
caressingly on my shoulder. The candle was flaring itself out, and
everything assumed a ghastly blue tint as the first chill light of dawn,
previous to sunrise, stole into the room. I rose to my feet and went
over to the window. How cold and unsympathetic everything looked! I
felt chilly, and a cold shudder ran down my limbs. Absolute silence
prevailed, in the street, in the house, in the room, where lay the dead
woman staring fixedly before her. Kosinski had sunk into a chair, his
head between his hands. I looked at him in silence and bit my lip. An
unaccustomed feeling of revolt was springing up in me. I could not and
did not attempt to analyse my feelings, only I felt a blind unreasoning
anger with existence. How stupid, how objectless it all seemed! The
church clock rung out the hour, five o'clock. Kosinski rose, he walked
to the bedside, and closed poor Eudoxia's staring eyes, and drew the
sheet over her face. Then he came over to me.

"I shall never forget your kindness, Isabel. There is yet one thing I
will ask of you; I know that Eudoxia wanted a mass to be said for her
and Vassili; will you see about carrying out this wish of hers? I cannot
give you the money to pay for it; I have not got it."

I nodded in silent consent.

He paused a few minutes. He seemed anxious to speak, yet hesitated; at
last he said, "I am leaving London, Isabel, I can do nothing here, and
I have received letters from comrades in Austria telling me that there
things are ripe for the Revolution."

I started violently: "You are leaving! Leaving London?" I stammered.

"Yes, I shall be able to do better work elsewhere."

I turned suddenly on him.


"And so you mean to say that we are to part? Thus? now? for ever?" A
pained look came into his eyes. He seemed to shrink from personalities.
"No," I continued rapidly, "I will, I must speak. Why should we ruin
our lives? To what idol of our own creation are we sacrificing our
happiness? We Anarchists are always talking of the rights of the
individual, why are you deliberately sacrificing your personal
happiness, and mine? The dead woman was right; I love you, and I know
that you love me. Our future shall not be ruined by a misunderstanding.
Now I have spoken, you must answer, and your answer must be final."

I looked at him whilst the words involuntarily rushed from my lips, and
even before I had finished speaking, I knew what his answer would be.

"An Anarchist's life is not his own. Friendship, comradeship may be
helpful, but family ties are fatal; you have seen what they did for my
poor friend. Ever since I was fifteen I have lived solely for the Cause;
you are mistaken in thinking that I love you in the way you imply. I
thought of you as a comrade, and loved you as such."

I had quite regained my self-possession. "Enough," I said, interrupting
him. "I do not regret my words; they have made everything clear to me.
You are of the invincibles, Kosinski; you are strong with the strength
of the fanatic; and I think you will be happy too. You will never turn
to contemplate regretfully the ashes of your existence and say as did
your friend, 'See the result of struggling for a higher life!' You do
not, you cannot see that you are a slave to your conception of freedom,
more prejudiced in your lack of prejudice than the veriest bourgeois;
that is your strength, and it is well. Good-bye."

He grasped my proffered hand with warmth.

"Good-bye, Isabel. I knew you were not like other women; that _you_
could understand."

"I can understand," I replied, "and admire, even if I deplore.
Good-bye."

Slowly I moved towards the door, my eyes fascinated by the rigid lines
of the sheet covering the dead woman; slowly I turned the handle and
walked down the mean wooden staircase into the mean suburban street.



CHAPTER XII

THE _TOCSIN'S_ LAST TOLL


As I walked home from Kosinski's in the early morning I felt profoundly
depressed. The weather had turned quite chilly and a fine drizzling
rain began to fall, promising one of those dull, wet days of which we
experience so many in the English spring. The streets were deserted
but for the milkmen going their rounds, and the tired-looking policemen
waiting to be relieved on their beats. I felt that feeling of physical
exhaustion which one experiences after being up all night, when one
has not had the opportunity for a wash and change of clothes. I was not
sleepy, but my eyes were hot and dry under their heavy eyelids, my bones
ached, my muscles felt stiff; I had the uncomfortable consciousness that
my hair was disordered and whispy, my hat awry, my skin shiny; and this
sub-consciousness of physical unattractiveness heightened the sense of
moral degradation.

I felt weary and disgusted, and it was not only, nor even principally,
the knowledge that Kosinski had gone out of my life which accounted for
this. I felt strangely numbed and dull, curiously able to look back
on that incident as if it had occurred to some one else. Every detail,
every word, was vividly stamped on my brain: I kept recurring to them as
I trudged along, but in a critical spirit, smiling every now and again
as the humour of some strangely incongruous detail flashed across my
brain.

What really weighed me down was a sense of the futility, not only of
Anarchist propaganda but of things in general. What were we striving
for? Happiness, justice? And the history of the world shows that man has
striven for these since the dawn of humanity without ever getting much
nearer the goal. The few crumbs of personal happiness which one might
hope for in life were despised and rejected by men like Armitage,
Kosinski, and Bonafede, yet all three were alike powerless to bring
about the larger happiness they dreamed of.

I had acquired a keener sense of proportion since the days when I had
first climbed the breakneck ladder of Slater's Mews, and I now realised
that the great mass of toiling humanity ignored our existence, and that
the slow, patient work of the ages was hardly likely to be helped or
hindered by our efforts. I did not depreciate the value of thought, of
the effort made by the human mind to free itself from the shackles of
superstition and slavery; of that glorious unrest which spurs men on
to scrutinise the inscrutable, ever baffled yet ever returning to the
struggle, which alone raises him above the brute creation and which,
after all, constitutes the value of all philosophy quite apart from the
special creed each school may teach; and I doubted not for a moment that
the yeast of Anarchist thought was leavening the social conceptions of
our day.

But I had come to see the almost ludicrous side of the Anarchist party,
especially in England, considered as a practical force in politics.
Short and Simpkins were typical figures--M'Dermott, an exceptionally
good one--of the rank and file of the English party. They used long
words they barely understood, considered that equality justified
presumption, and contempt or envy of everything they felt to be superior
to themselves. Communism, as they conceived it, amounted pretty nearly
to living at other people's expense, and they believed in revenging the
wrongs of their classes by exploiting and expropriating the bourgeois
whenever such action was possible without incurring personal risk. Of
course I was not blind to the fact that there were a few earnest and
noble men among them, men who had educated themselves, curtailing their
food and sleep to do so, men of original ideas and fine independent
character, but I had found that with the Anarchist, as with the
Socialist party, and indeed all parties, such were not those who came
to the surface, or who gave the _ton_ to the movement. Then, of course,
there were noble dreamers, incorrigible idealists, like Armitage, men
whom experience could not teach nor disappointment sour. Men gifted
with eternal youth, victimised and sacrificed by others, yet sifting
and purifying the vilest waste in the crucible of their imaginations,
so that no meanness, nor the sorrow born of the knowledge of meanness
in others, ever darkens their path. Men who live in a pure atmosphere of
their own creation, whom the worldly-wise pity as deluded fools, but who
are perhaps the only really enviable people in the world. Notable, too,
were the fanatics of the Kosinski type, stern heroic figures who seem
strangely out of place in our humdrum world, whose practical work often
strikes us as useless when it is not harmful, yet without whom the world
would settle down into deadly lethargy and stagnation. Then in England
came a whole host of cranks who, without being Anarchists in any real
sense of the word, seemed drawn towards our ranks, which they swelled
and not infrequently brought into ridicule. The "Bleeding Lamb" and his
atheist opponent Gresham, the Polish Countess Vera Voblinska with her
unhappy husband who looked like an out-at-elbows mute attached to a
third-rate undertaker's business, a dress-reforming lady disciple of
Armitage, a queer figure, not more than four feet in height, who looked
like a little boy in her knickers and jersey, till you caught sight of
the short grizzled hair and wrinkled face, who confided to me that she
was "quite in love with the doctor, he was so _quaint_;" and numerous
others belonged to that class; and finally a considerable sprinkling of
the really criminal classes who seemed to find in the Anarchist doctrine
of "Fais ce que veux" that salve to their conscience for which even the
worst scoundrels seem to crave, and which, at worst, permitted them to
justify their existences in their own eyes as being the "rotten products
of a decaying society." Such were the heterogeneous elements composing
the Anarchist party with which I had set out to reform the world.

The neighbouring church chimes rang out half-past six as I approached
home, and on reaching the doorstep of the Fitzroy Square house I found
my brother Raymond just letting himself in. On seeing me he exclaimed,
"Oh, Isabel, where have you been so early?--though really your
appearance suggests the idea that you have never been to bed rather than
that you have just risen!" I confirmed his suspicion and together we
entered his study.

"Well, where have you been? Is there something new on with the
Anarchists? I have seen so little of you for the past six months that I
feel quite out of the world--your world at least."

It was a great relief to me to find my brother so conversable. We had
both been so occupied of late in our respective ways that we had had
but scant opportunity for talk or companionship. Raymond had now started
practising on his own account; he was popular with his poor patients in
the crowded slums round King's Cross, amongst whom his work chiefly lay,
and day and night he toiled in their midst. Certainly the sights he saw
there were not calculated to destroy his revolutionary longings, though
they were often such as might well have made him doubt of the ultimate
perfectibility of the human race.

"Oh, I am so glad to find you, Raymond, and I should enjoy a nice long
talk together; but you must be tired; you have, I suppose, only just
come in after working all night?"

He explained to me that he had been summoned after midnight to attend a
poor woman's confinement, and had stayed with her till past four, when,
feeling more inclined for a walk than for his bed, he had wandered off
in the direction of Highgate and had only just got home.

"By the way, Isabel," he said, "as I was coming down the Caledonian
Road I met your friend Armitage. He is a good fellow whom I have always
liked, so I stopped him and we had a chat. He explained to me that he
was attired in his new pedestrian costume, which indeed struck me as
almost pre-Adamite in its simplicity. He had been helping some of
his friends to move--to shoot the moon, I fancy, would describe the
situation. He inquired of me what I was doing, and we got talking on all
sorts of scientific and philosophic problems. It is extraordinary what
an intellect that man has. Only he lives too much in a world of his own
creation; he seems absolutely oblivious of self, and I feel sure his
hygiene and vegetarianism are simply the outcome of his desire to free
himself from all worldly cares which might impede his absolute devotion
to his Cause. He seems to have practically abandoned his practice. As we
were wandering on rather aimlessly, I suggested accompanying him home,
but he did not appear to jump at the idea, and as I know that it is not
considered etiquette amongst you folk to press inquiries as to address
and so on, I was going to drop the subject; but Armitage, after a short
silence, explained that the fact was he had not exactly got a home to go
to. I concluded that he was in for the bother of changing diggings, and
made some sympathetic remark to that effect; but he said that was not
exactly the case--that, in fact, he had given up having a fixed abode
altogether. As you can imagine, Isabel," continued my brother, "this
information somewhat staggered me. I knew through you that he had
long ago given up his Harley Street establishment and moved into more
populous quarters, where I quite supposed him still to be residing. But
he calmly went on to explain, as though it were the most natural thing
in the world, that he had been in need of a rather considerable sum of
money some weeks back for purposes of propaganda, and that, not knowing
where else to obtain the money, he had sold up all his belongings and
cleared out of his lodgings without paying his rent, 'by way of an
example.' All this he explained with the air of a man adducing an
unanswerable argument, and as his manner did not admit of remonstrance,
I simply asked him what he thought of doing now, which started him off
on a long account of the opportunities for propaganda afforded by such
establishments as Rowton House, the casual wards, and the Salvation Army
Shelters. 'We want to get at the oppressed, to rouse them from their
lethargy of ages, to show them that they too have rights, and that it
is cowardly and wicked to starve in the midst of plenty; we want to come
amongst them, not as preachers and dilettantists, but as workers like
themselves, and how can this be done better than by going in their midst
and sharing their life?' I could not but feel amazement and admiration
at the enthusiasm and sincerity of this man, mingled with sorrow at the
thought that such an intellect as his should be thus wasted. He is a man
who might have done almost anything in the scientific world, and now he
seems destined to waste his life, a dreamer of dreams, a sort of modern
St. Francis in a world lacking in idealism, and where he will be looked
upon as a wandering lunatic rather than a saint."

I sat silent for a few minutes. I had not quite realised that poor
Armitage had come to this--a frequenter of casual wards, a homeless and
wandering lunatic; my brother was right, the world would judge him as
such. I was not, however, in the least surprised at the news.

The servants had by now come down and we had breakfast brought to the
study, and I gave Raymond an account of my night's proceedings. When I
concluded my brother said,

"Well, Isabel, you will remain almost alone at the _Tocsin_. Kosinski is
leaving, Giannoli is gone, Armitage is otherwise occupied. Will you be
able to keep it going?"

"Oh, I could keep it going," I replied. "There are still a lot of
comrades hanging on to it; new ones are constantly turning up. The
work can be done between us, there is no doubt of that. It is rather
of myself that I doubt. I begin to feel isolated in the midst of the
others; I cannot believe that people like Short and Simpkins can change
Society; they would have to begin reforming themselves, and that they
are incapable of. I can admire a man like Kosinski: I cannot exactly
sympathise with him. As to Armitage, I can only grieve that he should
thus waste his life and talents. Probably, had he thought a little more
of his personal happiness, he would have avoided falling a victim to
monomania, for such he is in part. And then--and then--it is not only
of others that I doubt, but of myself. Am I really doing any good? Can
I sincerely believe that the _Tocsin_ will help towards the regeneration
of mankind? Can mankind be regenerated? When such questions never
occurred to me, or, if they did, were answered by my brain with an
unhesitating affirmative, then it was easy to work. No difficulties
could daunt me; everything seemed easy, straightforward. But now--but
now...."

"Well, then, why don't you give it up, Isabel?"

"Give it up? Oh, how could I? I have never really thought of that. Oh
no; the paper must come out. I have undertaken it. I must go on with
it."

"And you an Anarchist! Why, I always thought you believed in the
absolute freedom of the individual, and here you are saying that
you must go on with a work in which you no longer feel the
requisite confidence, for the mere reason that you once, under other
circumstances, started it."

"You are right, Raymond, logically right, but life is not ruled by
logic, whether we be Anarchists or Reactionaries. I feel that I could
not give up the _Tocsin_, my interests centre round it; besides, I do
not say that I have altered my ideas; I am still an Anarchist, I can
honestly work for the Cause; I only said that I doubt. I feel depressed.
Who has not had at times periods of depression and doubt?"

"Well, we shall see," replied Raymond. "I got a letter from Caroline
last night which I wanted to show you. She says she will be home in
another three months, as she has accepted a further engagement for the
States now that her tour is nearly over. When she comes home it will be
a little company for you in the house. She has friends, and she is sure
to be much sought after now, as she seems fairly on the road to becoming
a celebrity in the musical world."

I read the long letter, written in the brilliant style which
characterised everything about Caroline. She described her triumphs in
the various cities of the Argentine and Brazil, the receptions given
in her honour, the life and society of these faraway countries, with a
brightness and humour which brought home to me the whole atmosphere of
the places and people she described. Caroline had always been fond of
society, and even before leaving England had become quite a favourite
in musical circles; but her quick, bright intelligence had never
allowed her to be blind to much that was vulgar and ludicrous in her
surroundings. I was truly glad to think that we should meet again before
long. The common memories and affections of our childhood formed a solid
basis for our mutual friendship, but I could not help smiling as I read
the last paragraph of her long epistle: "I expect by now Isabel has had
time to grow out of her enthusiasm for revolutions and economics, and
will feel less drawn towards baggy-trousered democrats and unwashed
philosophers than when I left. Perhaps she may even have come round to
my view of life, _i.e._, that it is really not worth while taking things
too tragically, and that it is best to take the few good things life
brings us without worrying one's brains about humanity. Selfish, is it
not? But I have generally noticed that it is your stern moralists and
humanitarians who cause the most unhappiness in the world. Anyhow, if
Isabel is less wrapped up in Socialism and Anarchy we shall be able
to have a good time when I come home. I am sure to be asked out a good
deal, and if the fashionable people who patronise musical celebrities
are not free from their foibles and ridicules we shall anyhow be able to
amuse ourselves and laugh at them up our sleeves."

So Caroline already counted on my having outgrown Anarchy and unwashed
philosophy, as she phrased it, and grown into drawing-room etiquette!
But she was wrong! I should go on with the _Tocsin_. I should still
work in the Cause; I had done so till then, and what had happened
since yesterday to alter my intentions? Nothing, or at least nothing of
outward importance. Only, since my last interview with Armitage and my
parting with Kosinski, I had begun to formulate to myself many questions
which till then I had only vaguely felt. Still I repeated to myself that
I should go on with the paper, that I should continue to lead the same
life. Of course I should! How could I do otherwise? And even if I had
changed somewhat in my ideas and my outlook on life, I certainly did
not feel even remotely attracted towards the sort of society Caroline
referred to. I had a vivid recollection of once accompanying her to an
_at home_, given in a crowded drawing-room, where the heavily-gilded
Louis XV. mirrors and Sevres vases and ornaments, with their scrolls
and flourishes, all seemed to have developed the flowing wigs which
characterised the Roi Soleil, and where the armchairs and divans were
upholstered in yellow and pink satin, and decked out with ribbon bows to
resemble Watteau sheep. Oh no; certainly I should not exchange the low
living and high thinking of my Anarchist days for such artificiality
and vulgar display. Sunday was generally a very busy day with me, almost
more so than week-days, for there were meetings to be held, literature
to be sold and distributed, and lectures and discussions to be attended.
I was in the habit of rising rather late, as very often Saturday night
was an all-night sitting at the office of the _Tocsin_, and Sunday
morning was the only time I found it convenient to pay a little
attention to the toilet. But I used generally to manage to be by twelve
in some public place, and help Short and M'Dermott to start a meeting.
Short, influenced by his inherent laziness, had succeeded in persuading
the Italians that he was a great orator, and that they could not better
forward the Cause in their new country than by carrying for him the
movable platform from which he delivered his spirited harangues; so that
one or two of them were generally present helping to form the nucleus
of an audience, and ready to lend their valid support should any drunken
loafer or top-hatted bourgeois, outraged in his feelings, attempt to
disturb the proceedings. Hyde Park was generally my destination in the
afternoon, and in the evening we used to repair in force to the hall
of the Social Democrats, there to take part in the discussion which
followed the lectures, or else some meeting in Deptford, Canning Town,
or Stratford would claim my attendance. But on this particular Sunday I
felt too tired and despondent to think of rushing out in my usual style.

I shut myself in my room and tried to rest, but I could not free myself
from the sights and thoughts which had beset me during the night. The
words of Kosinski's friend, "And this is what comes of struggling for
the higher life," still haunted me; the dead woman, staring blindly into
space rose before me, an image of the suffering forced on the weak by
the strong. Then my thoughts reverted to Giannoli. What was he doing?
I had not heard from him for over a month, and his last letter had
been far from reassuring. He hinted at some desperate enterprise he
was engaged on, and as I had no further news of him from any quarter I
thought it not unlikely that he had been arrested, and was, even then
perhaps, suffering unknown tortures in one of those dreaded Spanish
prisons, where the old systems of the Inquisition still prevail, though
modern hypocrisy requires that all should pass in silence and darkness,
content on these conditions never to push too closely its inquiries,
even though some crippled victim who may escape should rouse for a
moment a spasmodic outburst of indignation in the civilised world. And
even were this not his fate, it was a sad enough one in all conscience:
to rush all over the world, wrecked in health, driven from place to
place by his wild suspicions, the offspring of a diseased imagination;
deprived of friends, for his mania of persecution drove them off;
deprived of means, for he had sacrificed his all to the propaganda, and
his health and mode of life did not permit of any settled occupation.
I felt strangely anxious about him, and this led my thoughts back once
more to Kosinski, with whom I had been brought so closely into contact
through our relations with Giannoli. I should never see him again in all
probability. He had told me he was going to Austria. He too belonged
to the _knights of death_, as an Italian comrade had named a certain
section of the Anarchists; and he was working out his inevitable
destiny. I wondered now how I had ever allowed myself to conceive of him
otherwise. I had always known it was impossible, and I felt that it was
only an impulse of rebellion against fate which had led me to speak.

Finding sleep out of the question, I got up and attempted to write an
article which I had promised to bring down to the _Tocsin_ the following
morning. The subject I had chosen was "The Right to Happiness," and I
argued that man has a right not only to daily bread, as the Socialists
maintain, but also to happiness, consisting in the fullest development
and exercise of all his faculties, a condition only possible when the
individual shall be perfectly free, living in a harmonious society
of free men, untrammelled by artificial economic difficulties, and by
superstitions inherited from the past. Some days previously we had had
a discussion on the subject at the office of the _Tocsin_, and I had
maintained my views victoriously against the pessimistic dogmatism of
a German comrade. But now my arguments seemed hollow to myself, mere
rhetoric, and even that of third-rate quality. Happiness! Did not the
mere fact of attaining our desires deprive them of their charm? Life was
an alternating of longing and regret. I pushed paper and pen aside, and
began roaming aimlessly about the house. The large old-fashioned rooms
impressed me as strangely silent and forlorn. I wandered up to the attic
which our father had used as a laboratory, and which had always struck
us children as a mysterious apartment, where he did wonderful things
with strange-shaped instruments and bottles which we were told contained
deadly poison. His apparatus was still ranged on the shelves, thick in
dust, and the air was heavy with the pungent smell of acids. The large
drawing-rooms with their heavy hangings looked shabbier and dingier than
of old; I could not help noticing the neglected look of everything. I
had hardly entered them during the past year, and now I vaguely wondered
whether Caroline on her return would wish to have them renovated. Then I
remembered how I had received there for the first time, some four years
ago, my brother's Socialist friend, and I could not help smiling as I
recollected my excitement on that occasion. I was indeed young in those
days! I picked up a book which was lying on a table thick in dust, and
sat down listlessly in the roomy arm-chair by the fireside, which had
been my father's favourite seat. I began turning the pages of a volume,
"The Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius," and gradually I became absorbed in
its contents. Here was a man who had known how to create for himself in
his own soul an oasis of rest, not by practising a selfish indifference
to, and isolation from, public matters--not by placing his hopes in
some future paradise, the compensation of terrestrial suffering, but by
rising superior to external events, and, whilst fulfilling his duty as
emperor and man, not allowing himself to be flustered or perturbed by
the inevitable. "Abolish opinion, you have abolished this complaint,
'Some one has harmed me.' Suppress the complaint, 'Some one has harmed
me,' and the harm itself is suppressed." What wisdom in these words!

It was a long while since I had thus enjoyed a quiet read. For several
months past my life had been a ceaseless round of feverish activity.
Looking back, it seemed to me that I had allowed myself to be strangely
preoccupied and flustered by trifles. What were these important duties
which had so absorbed me as to leave me no time for thought, for
study, no time to live my own life? How had I come to give such undue
importance to the publication of a paper which, after all, was read by a
very few, and those few for the most part already blind believers in the
ideas it advocated? Yet I told myself that the _Tocsin_ had done good
work, and could yet do much. Besides, I had undertaken it, I must go
on with it; life without an object would be intolerable. The slow hours
passed, and when night came I felt thoroughly worn out and exhausted,
and soon got to sleep.

I awoke on Monday morning with a sense of impending misfortune hovering
over me. I had taken refuge in sleep the previous night from a host of
troublesome thoughts and perplexing doubts, and I now experienced the
hateful sensation of returning consciousness, when one does not yet
recollect fully the past, yet realises vaguely the re-awakening to
suffering and action. I wanted to get to the office early that morning,
for publishing day was near at hand and there was a lot of work to be
finished. I felt that the drudgery of composing would be a relief to my
over-strained nerves; so, without waiting for breakfast and the morning
paper which I generally scanned before leaving home, I dressed rapidly
and set out for the _Tocsin_. I had not gone many yards when my
attention was attracted by the large placards pasted on the boards
outside a newspaper shop:--

"Shocking outrage in Madrid. Attempt on the life of Spanish
Prime-Minister--Many victims. Arrest of Anarchist Assassin. London
Police on scent."

Giannoli! The name flashed across my brain as I rushed into the shop and
purchased the paper. My heart thumped with excitement as, standing in
the shadow of some houses at the corner of the street, I hastily opened
and folded the sheet and ran my eyes down the long column, freely
interspersed with headlines.

"On Sunday evening, at half-past six, when the fashionable crowd
which throngs the Prado at Madrid was at its thickest, and just as the
Minister Fernandez was driving by in his carriage, a man pushed his way
through the crowd, and shouting 'Long live Anarchy,' discharged at him
three shots from a revolver; the aim, however, was not precise, and
one of the bullets wounded, it is feared mortally, the secretary, Señor
Esperandez, who was seated beside his chief, whilst the Minister was
shot in the arm. Several people rushed forward to seize the miscreant,
who defended himself desperately, discharging the remaining chambers of
the revolver amidst his assailants, two of whom have sustained serious
injuries. He was, however, overcome and taken, handcuffed and bound, to
the nearest police station. On being interrogated he refused his name
and all particulars as to himself, only declaring that he attempted the
life of the Minister Fernandez on his own individual responsibility,
that he had no accomplices, and that his object was to revenge his
comrades who had been persecuted by order of the Minister. When informed
that he had missed his aim, and that Fernandez had escaped with a broken
arm, whilst his secretary was in danger of death, he expressed his
regret at not having succeeded in his object, saying that this was due
to his wretched health, which rendered his aim unsteady; but as to
Señor Esperandez, he declared that he considered him also responsible,
inasmuch as he was willing to associate himself with the oppressor of
the people. Neither threats nor persuasion could induce him to say more.
The police, however, are making active inquiries, and have ascertained
so far (midnight of Sunday) that the prisoner is an Italian Anarchist
recently landed at Barcelona from America, passing under the name of
Paolo Costa. This name, however, is considered to be false. He is a tall
man, of rather distinguished appearance. The police do not credit
the idea that he has no accomplices, and during the evening extensive
arrests have been made in Madrid and Barcelona. Over a hundred of the
most noted Anarchists and Socialists in these cities are now in prison."

Such was the brief outline of facts as given by the _Morning Post._ Of
course I had not the slightest doubt as to the identity of the prisoner;
the state of weakness and ill-health which had caused him to miss his
aim was conclusive, added to the many other reasons I had for supposing
him to be Giannoli. This, then, was the deed he had been contemplating!
Only the day before I had been wondering why I had no news of him; but a
few hours previously he went forth to his death. For it meant death, of
course; of that I had no doubt. He would be garotted; I only hoped
that he might not be tortured first. I gave a hasty glance at the other
details given by the paper. A column was dedicated to the virtues of the
prime-minister. He was upheld as a model of the domestic virtues (a few
months back Continental papers had been full of a scandalous trial in
which Fernandez had been involved), and was represented as the man who
had saved Spain from ruin and disaster by his firm repression of the
revolutionary parties: by which euphonious phrase the papers referred
to the massacres of strikers which had taken place at Barcelona and
Valladolid, and the wholesale arrest and imprisonment of Anarchists and
Socialists in connection with a recent anti-clerical movement which had
convulsed the Peninsula.

These arrests had given rise to a great political trial for conspiracy
before a court-martial, which had ended in a sentence of death passed
on five of the prisoners, whilst the others were sentenced to terms of
imprisonment varying from thirty to five years. It was to revenge the
injustice and the sufferings caused by this policy that Giannoli had
attempted the life of the Spanish minister. Another paragraph caught my
eye:--

"London police hot on scent: raids and arrests."

"Our correspondent has interviewed a leading detective at Scotland
Yard who for some years past has been charged with the surveillance
of suspicious foreign Anarchists. This clever officer informs our
correspondent that he has no doubt the plot was hatched in London, and
thinks that he could name the author, an Italian Anarchist of desperate
antecedents who disappeared from London under mysterious circumstances
nearly seven months ago. London is a centre of Anarchist propaganda,
and foreign desperadoes of all nationalities flock hither to abuse the
hospitality and freedom which this government too rashly concedes them.
Englishmen will one day be roused from their fool's paradise to find
that too long have they nursed a viper in their bosom. We trust that
this lesson will not be wasted, and that the police will see to closing
without delay certain self-styled clubs and 'printing-offices' which are
in reality nothing but hotbeds of conspiracy and murder."

I hurried along as I read these last words. We were evidently once
more in for troublous times. The office of the _Tocsin_ was clearly
designated in the paragraph I have quoted; perhaps the office would be
raided; perhaps the Italian comrades who were staying there would be
arrested. I rapidly reviewed in my mind's eye the papers and letters
which were in the office, wondering whether anything incriminating would
be found; but I did not feel much perturbed on that score, as it was my
invariable custom to burn all papers of importance, and I felt certain
that nothing more compromising would be found than the Bleeding Lamb's
tract on the Seven-headed Beast, which, according to its author,
would "make the old Queen sit up a bit," and Gresham's treatise on the
persecutions of the Early Christians. I was glad to think that Kosinski
had settled to leave the country. I knew that Giannoli had left with him
much of his correspondence, and I trusted that this would not fall into
the hands of the police.

I had now nearly reached my destination and, as I turned up the corner
of Lysander Grove, I at once realised that something unusual had taken
place at the office. The shutters were still up at Mrs. Wattles's
green-grocer's shop, and that lady herself loomed large at the entrance
to the courtyard leading to the _Tocsin_, surrounded by her chief
gossips and by a dozen or two of dirty matrons. Several windows were up
in the houses opposite and slatternly-looking women were craning out
and exchanging observations. I hurried on and, pushing my way past Mrs.
Wattles, who I could see at a glance was in liquor, and heedless of
her remarks, I ran down the narrow courtyard to the office door which I
found shut. I knocked impatiently and loudly; the door opened and I was
confronted by a detective.

What I had expected had happened. The office had been raided, and was
now in the hands of the police. In answer to my inquiring look, the
detective requested me to come in and speak to the inspector. In the
ground-floor room three or four Italian comrades were gathered together.
The one-eyed baker, Beppe, was addressing the others in a loud voice; as
far as I could gather from the few words I caught, he was relating some
prison experiences. The group looked unusually animated and jolly; the
incident evidently reminded them of their own country. As soon as they
saw me enter they interrupted their talk, and Beppe stepped forward to
shake hands, but the officer of the law interposed: "Now, you fellows,
stay there; the young lady is going to speak to the inspector." I told
Beppe I should soon be down, and he retired, pulling a wry face at the
detective, and making some observation to his friends which made them
all roar with laughter. Upstairs a scene of wild disorder greeted my
eye. Four or five policemen were turning over heaps of old papers,
searching through dusty cupboards and shelves; heaps of pie lay about
the floor--evidently some one had put a foot through the form of type
ready set for the forthcoming issue of the _Tocsin_; on the "composing
surface" stood a formidable array of pint pots, with the contents of
which the men in blue had been refreshing themselves. On a packing-case
in the middle of the room sat Short, his billycock hat set far back
on his long, greasy hair, smoking a clay pipe with imperturbable calm;
whilst little M'Dermott, spry as ever, watched the proceedings, pulling
faces at the policemen behind their backs, and "kidding" them with
extraordinary tales as to the fearful explosive qualities of certain
ginger-beer bottles which were ranged on a shelf. At the editorial
table, which was generally covered with a litter of proofs and
manuscript, more or less greasy and jammy, owing to our habit of feeding
in the office, sat the inspector, going through the heaps of papers,
pamphlets, and manuscript articles which were submitted to his scrutiny
by his satellites. I took in all this at a glance, and walking
straight up to the inspector, I demanded of him an explanation of this
unwarranted invasion of the office.

His first answer was an interrogation.

"You are Isabel Meredith, are you not?"

This opened up an explanation which was brief and conclusive. The
inspector showed me a search-warrant, duly signed by a magistrate, and
another warrant for the arrest of Kosinski, and informed me that the
office had been opened to him by Short, who had represented himself as
one of the proprietors. The primary object of the search was to see if
Kosinski, who was wanted by the police in connection with the Madrid
outrage, were not on the premises, and also to see if there were no
incriminating documents or explosive materials concealed there.

"And have you found anything very alarming?" I inquired sarcastically.

"No, miss," the inspector replied in the same tone; "the most dangerous
object in this place seems to be your printer" (he pointed at Short),
"and we have kept at a fairly safe distance from _him_. Still, of
course, I have to go through all these papers; they may yet give us a
clue to the whereabouts of Kosinski or your friend Giannoli;" and here
he looked me straight in the face.

"Maybe," I simply replied with a shrug. I felt perfectly tranquil on
that score, and had but small doubt that Kosinski was by now already on
his way out of the country, as he would judge from the papers that the
police would be on his track.

"And when will this search be over?" I inquired.

"Oh, I cannot exactly tell you. It will take me some days to go all
through these papers. We shall probably be here for two or three days."

I looked around me. Everything was disorganised. The type cases had
all been emptied into a heap in the middle of the room, the forms ready
locked up had been pied, the MSS. and papers sequestered. It was utterly
hopeless to think of bringing out the _Tocsin_. The scene reminded me
of my first experience of an Anarchist printing-office after the police
raid on the _Bomb_; but now I no longer had Armitage to encourage me
with his unswerving optimism and untiring energy, nor Kosinski to urge
me on with his contempt of dilettantism and half-hearted enthusiasm.
True, Short was there, much the same as in the old days; even his dog
could be heard snarling and growling when the policemen administered to
him some sly kick; but as I looked at the squalid and lethargic figure
with its sallow, unhealthy, repulsive face, I was overcome by a feeling
of almost physical nausea. I realised fully how loathsome this gutter
Iago had become to me during the past few months, during which I had had
ample opportunity to note his pettifogging envy and jealousy, his almost
simian inquisitiveness and prying curiosity. I felt I could not work
with him; his presence had become intolerable to me. I realised that
this was the _finale_, the destined end of the _Tocsin_ and of my active
revolutionary propaganda. I had changed. Why not let the dead bury their
dead?

At this moment the policeman who had opened the office door to me came
up bringing a letter, which he handed to the inspector.

"It is for you, miss," that functionary said, reading the address, "but
I have orders to open all correspondence. You will excuse my complying
with them."

My heart stood still. Could it be from Kosinski or Giannoli? After a
moment the inspector handed the note to me. It was from the landlord--a
notice to quit. I walked up and showed it to Short.

"Well, what will you do?" he inquired. They were the first words we had
exchanged that morning.

"I shall leave," I replied.

"And how about the paper? Do you think of starting it again?"

"No, I do not think so; not for the present at any rate."

"And the 'plant'?"

"I shall leave that too. You can look after it, you and the comrades!"

"Oh, the comrades!" sneered Short, and returned to his pipe.

I turned once more to the inspector. "I am free to leave, I suppose?" I
inquired. "I cannot see that my presence here serves any purpose."

"Oh yes, miss, you can go if you like. The presence of the printer is
sufficient for us. I understand he is one of the proprietors?"

"Oh yes, he is a proprietor," I replied, and turned on my heel.
M'Dermott came up to me.

"Well, my dear," he said, "so you are leaving. Well, I don't blame you,
nor wish you to remain. After all, it is no use trying to tinker up our
rotten system, or to prop up society with such wretched supports as our
friend here," and he pointed at Short. "What we need is to get
round them by our insidious means, and then go in for wholesale
assassination!"

I could not help smiling as the little man gave vent to this
bloodthirsty sentiment in an undertone; he wrung my hand warmly, and we
parted.

"What do you intend doing with those Italians who stay here?" I inquired
of the inspector as the sound of a guitar proceeding from downstairs
recalled my thoughts to them.

"I think it best to detain them here until I have finished searching the
place thoroughly; then if I find nothing to incriminate them, they will
be free. You need not worry about them, miss, they do not seem likely to
suffer from depression."

The twanging of the guitar was now accompanied by Beppe's powerful
baritone voice, whilst the others joined in the chorus:

  "_Noi, profughi D'Italia...._"

I walked down the stairs.

"Good-bye, Comrades!"

"Good-bye, a rivederci!" and after giving one last look at the familiar
scene, I walked out.

As I made my way down the yard leading to the street, I encountered Mrs.
Wattles at the back door of her shop. She had now reached the maudlin
stage of intoxication. Her eyes were bleary, her mouth tremulous, her
complexion bloated and inflamed. There was something indefinite in her
appearance, suggesting the idea that her face had been boiled, and that
the features had run, losing all sharpness of outline and expression.
She fixed me with her fishy eye, and dabbing her face with the corner of
her apron began to blubber.

"S'elp me Gawd, miss," she began, "I never thought as I should come to
this! To have them narks under my very roof, abrazenin' it out! I always
knew as there was something wrong abart pore Mr. Janly, and many's the
time I've said to 'im, 'Mr. Janly, sir,' I've said, 'do take a little
something, yer look so pale.' But 'e always answered, 'No, Mrs. Wattles,
no; you've been a mother to me, Mrs. Wattles, and I know you're right,
but I can't do it. 'Ere's for 'alf a pint to drink my health, but I
can't do it.' And I dare say as it were them temp'rance scrupils like as
brought 'im to 'is end."

At these tender recollections of Giannoli the good lady quite broke
down.

"To think that it was I as let you that very shop two years last
Christmas, and that pore Mr. Cusings, as was sweet on you then--I've not
seen 'im lately--and now the coppers are under my very roof! It seems
a judgment on us, it really does. But I always told Wattles that if he
went on treatin' of 'is wedded wife more like a 'eathen than a Christian
woman, as a judgment would come on 'im, an' now my words is proved."

She seemed by now quite oblivious of my presence: a quivering shapeless
mass of gin-drenched humanity she collapsed on to the doorstep. And with
this for my last sight and recollection of the place which had witnessed
so much enthusiasm, so many generous hopes and aspirations, and where
so many illusions lay buried, I walked forth into the London street a
sadder if a wiser woman.


THE END





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