Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Lady Penelope
Author: Roberts, Morley
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lady Penelope" ***

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



[Illustration: Cover art]



[Illustration: LADY PENELOPE BRADING Who had ideas of her own]



                             Lady Penelope


                                   By

                             Morley Roberts

              _Author of_ "Rachel Marr," "The Promotion of
                           the Admiral," etc.



                            _Illustrated by_
                          Arthur William Brown



                          L. C. Page & Company
                                _Boston_
                               _Mdccccv_



                        _Copyright, 1904, 1903_
                        BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
                             (INCORPORATED)

                         _All rights reserved_


                        Published February, 1905

                            _COLONIAL PRESS
            Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
                         Boston, Mass., U.S.A._



                        *LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS*


LADY PENELOPE BRADING . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_
       Who had ideas of her own.

CAPTAIN PLANTAGENET GOBY, V.C., LATE OF THE GUARDS
       Who was ordered to read poetry.

LEOPOLD NORFOLK GORDON
       Some said his real name was Isaac Levi.

AUSTIN DE VERE
       He wrote poetry, and abhorred bulldogs and motor-cars.

THE MARQUIS DE RIVAULX
       Anti-Semite to his manicured finger-tips.

RUFUS Q. PLANT
       Born in Virginia.

CARTERET WILLIAMS, WAR CORRESPONDENT
       He wrote with a red picturesqueness which was horribly
       attractive.

JIMMY CAREW, A.R.A.
       He was the best looking of the whole "horde"

THE EARL OF PULBOROUGH
       Clever; but indolent.



                            *LADY PENELOPE*



                              *CHAPTER I.*


All the absurd birthday celebrations were over, and Penelope was
twenty-one.

She declared that her whole life was to be devoted to reform.  She meant
to reform society, to make it good and useful and straightforward, and
simple and utterly delightful.

She let it be understood that men were in great need of her particular
attention.  They were too selfish and self-centred, too extravagant, too
critical of each other, too vain.  They acknowledged it humbly when she
mentioned it, for Lady Penelope Brading’s beauty was something to see
and to talk of; major and minor poets agreed about it; artists desired
to paint her and failed, as they always do when true loveliness shines
on them.  She had the colour of a Titian; the contours of a Correggio;
the witchery of a Reynolds, and under wonderful raiment the muscles of a
young Greek athlete.  She wiped out any society in which she moved.
When sweet Eclipse showed herself, the rest were nowhere.  The other
girls did not exist; she even made married beauties quake; as for the
men, they endured everything she said, and worshipped her all the more.
She was strange and new and a tonic. She had no sense of humour
whatsoever; she could not understand a joke even if it was explained by
an expert on the staff of _Punch_.  This made her utterly delightful.
Her beautiful seriousness was as refreshing as logic in a sermon.  She
believed in clergymen, in politicians, in the Deceased Wife’s Sister, in
all eminent physicians, in the London County Council, in the City of
Westminster, in the British Constitution, in herself, and hygiene.  She
read the _Times_, the _Athenæum_, the Encyclopædia Britannica, Herbert
Spencer, Mr. Kidd, and the late Mr. Drummond.  She used Sandow’s
exercises and cold water.  She was opposed to war; she admired the
leader of the opposition and the lord mayor; she subscribed to a society
for establishing a national theatre to play Mr. Bernard Shaw’s
tragedies, and to the nearest hospital.  She was the most delightful
person in England, and was against vaccination.  She had money and lands
and houses and ideas.

"We ought all to do something; to be something," said Lady Penelope
Brading.

It was an amazing statement, a shocking statement, and clean against all
class tradition when she interpreted it to the alarmed.  Was it not to
be something if one was rich, let us say?  Was it not to do something if
one spent one’s money on horses and sport and dress and bridge?  Heaven
defend us all if anything more is asked of man or woman than killing
time and killing beasts!  Hands went up to heaven when Penelope
preached.

Not that she preached at length.  Her sermons lasted five seconds by any
clock, save at the times when she warmed her ankles by the fire with
some pet friend of hers, and took into consideration how she was to use
her power for the regeneration of the world which was hers.  Now she was
with Ethel Mytton, a remote relative of the celebrated Mytton who drank
eight bottles of port a day, and was a sportsman of the character which
makes all Englishmen prouder of sport than of their history. Ten
thousand on a football field would put him higher than Sir Richard
Grenville.  Sidney was a fool to him.  Her father was a cabinet
minister.

But Ethel was meek and mild, and followed Penelope at a humble distance,
modelling herself on that sweet mould of revolution.  So might a penny
candle imitate an arc-light; so a glowworm worship the big moon.

"But you’ll get married, dear," said Ethel, "of course you’ll get
married."

Penelope was pensive.

"There are other things than marriage," said Penelope.

"Oh, are there?" sighed Ethel.  She did not think so, for she was in
love.  Penelope loved theories best.

"Which of them will you marry?" asked Ethel.

"Which what?"

"Silly, them," said Ethel.  "What the duchess calls your ’horde.’"

"I don’t know," replied Penelope.  "I’m like Diogenes, and I’m looking
for an honest man."

"Oh, honesty,—yes, of course, I know what you mean.  But there are
plenty of them, Pen dear.

"Boo!" said Pen; "so the other Greeks said to the man in the tub."

Ethel sighed.

"What Greeks and what man in what tub?" she inquired, plaintively.

And Penelope did not enlighten her darkness, for in came the Duchess of
Goring, her aunt, whose Christian name was Titania.  She weighed sixteen
stone in glittering bead armour, and had a voice exactly like Rose Le
Clerc’s in "The Duchess of Bayswater."  She rarely stopped talking, and
was ridiculously moral and conventional, and, except for her voice, she
might have been a shopkeeper’s wife in any suburb.

"My dear Penelope," said Titania, "I’m glad to see you again.  You look
positively sweet, my darling, after all these parties and carryings-on,
and what not, and now at last you are quite grown up and yourself and
your own and twenty-one.  I wish I was.  I was nine stone then
exactly,—not a pound more.  Oh, and it’s you, Ethel.  I hope your dear
papa is not overworking himself, now he’s a cabinet minister.  Cabinet
ministers will overwork themselves.  I’ve known them die of it.  Tell
him what I say, will you?  But of course he will pay no attention, and
in time will die like the rest. It’s no use advising men to be sensible.
I’ve given it up.  Ah, here at last is Lord Bradstock."

Titania flowed on wonderfully; she flowed exactly like the twisting
piece of glass in a mechanical clock which mimics a jet of water.  She
turned round and never advanced.  But Augustin, Lord Bradstock, was as
calm as a mill-pond, as a mere in the mountains.  He was tall and thin
and ruddy and white-haired at fifty.  He had been twice a widower.

"Why at last, Titania?" he yawned, as he stood with Penelope’s hand in
his.  He was still her guardian in his heart, though she was out of
tutelage.

"I say at last, Augustin, because you were not here before me," cried
Titania.  "And I expected you to be here before me from what you said
this morning.  I told you I meant to come in and speak quietly and
seriously to Penelope, and you said you would come, too."

Penelope’s eyes thanked her guardian, and they smiled at him
half-secretly, saying as plain as any words: "What a dear you are to
come in and dilute aunty for me!"

"Yes," said Bradstock, "I think I said I would prepare her."

"I’ve not had a single chance lately to say a word for her good," cried
Titania, "what with this person and that person and the horde.  I think
it is time now, Penelope, that you reorganized your amazing circle of
acquaintances, mostly men, by the way. While Augustin was responsible
for you, of course you were obstinate, but now you are in a position of
greater freedom you will see the advisability of being guided by your
aunt.  I’m sure, I’m positive of it."

Now the real sore point with the duchess was this matter of the "horde."
It was the only picturesque phrase she ever invented in her life, and
without any doubt it did characterize in some measure the remarkable
collection of men who were pretenders to Penelope’s hand and fortune.

"Out of the entire, the entire—"

"Caboodle," said Bradstock, suggestively.

The duchess shook her head like a horse in fly-time.

"No, Augustin, not caboodle; pray, what is caboodle?  Out of the
entire—lot, Penelope, there are hardly three who belong to your class.
I entreat you to go through them and dismiss those of whom we can’t
approve, I and Lord Bradstock."

"Don’t drag me in," said Bradstock.  "They are all very good fellows; I
approve of them all."

"Tut, tut," said Titania, "is this the way you help, Augustin?  You are
a hindrance.  I believe it is entirely owing to you that Penelope has
these strange and alarming ideas.  Yes, my dear, I’m afraid it is.  He
is not the kind of man who should have been your guardian.  I ought to
have been consulted.  I knew a bishop who would have been admirable,
most admirable.  He’s dead, dear man, and the present one is a scandal
to the Protestant Church, what with incense and processions and candles
and confession-boxes.  But, as I was saying, I do hope you will dismiss
some of these men.  And I hope you will be sensible and not say shocking
things.  No one should say shocking things till they are married, and
even then with discretion.  Socialism and reform and marriage!  Dear me,
you really must not talk about marriage, but you must get married to a
suitable person.  I’m sure, Augustin, we should have no insuperable
objection to, let us say, young Bramber.  He’ll be an earl by and by.
And you mustn’t talk about reforming society, my dear love.  It is quite
impossible to reform society without abolishing it, my pet.  Ethel
darling, many cabinet ministers have owned as much to me with much
alarm, almost with tears.  It’s no use trying.  Tell your dear father
so, Ethel.  I forgot to mention it the other day when we discussed the
London County Council and its terrible extravagance compared with the
economy of the government.  We talked, too, about the War Office, and I
told him that it couldn’t be reformed without abolishing it, which was
not to be thought of for an instant. What should we do without a War
Office, as we are always fighting?  He sighed deeply, poor man. Dr.
Lumsden Griff says sighing is cardiac in its origin, and I wish your
father would see him, Ethel. He’s the first doctor in London for the
ventricles of the heart.  So every one says.  But about your ideas,
Penelope—"

"Good heavens, aunty, I haven’t any left," said Penelope.  This was not
in the least surprising, for Titania reduced any ordinary gathering to
idiocy at the shortest notice.

"Oh, but you have," said Titania, "and society cannot endure ideas, my
love.  Anything but ideas, darling."

"Well, well," sighed Bradstock, "what is the use of talking to her,
Titania?  Pen is Pen, and there’s an end of it."

"I wish there was," cried the duchess.  "But she rails against marriage.
And she’s only twenty-one.  Dear, dear me!"

"She pays too much attention to you married women," said Bradstock.
"How’s the duke, by the way?"

As the duke was engaged in running two theatres at the same time, not
wholly in the interests of art or finance, Bradstock might have asked
after his health at some other juncture.  Titania ignored him.

"She rails against marriage," lamented Titania.

"I don’t," said Penelope.

"You do," said her aunt.

"It’s only the horrible publicity," said Penelope, "and the way things
are done, and the ghastly presents and the bishops and the newspaper men
and the horrible crowd outside and the worse crowd inside, and all the
horrid fluff and flummery of it. If I’m ever married, I’ll get it done
in a registrar’s office."

"Oh, Penelope," wailed Ethel.

But Titania became terrible.

"You shall not be, Penelope," she cried.  "I could not stand it.  As
your aunt, my dear—  Oh, my love, I knew some one who was married in
that way, and it was a most shocking affair, and of course it turned out
that he had been married before and was a bigamist.  The scandal was
hushed up, and the first wife, who was the sweetest girl, and died of
consumption shortly afterward at her father’s vicarage in Kent or
Yorkshire, near Pevensey or Pontefract; at any rate it began with a P,
and the man, though a villain, was a gentleman, for he married the
second one all over again in a foreign place, with a chaplain
officiating; much better than a registrar, who can marry you, I’m told,
in pajamas if he likes, though not like a bishop, which one might have
expected in his case.  You all knew him slightly, at any rate.  Never,
my dear, get married at a registrar’s."

"It’s better than the open shame of a cathedral and a bishop," said
Penelope.  "Being married is one’s private business, and it’s nothing
but horrid savagery to have crowds there!"

"Bravo!" said Bradstock, and Titania turned on him.

"Did I not say all this was your fault, Augustin? You were no more fit
to be her guardian than you are to be Archbishop of Canterbury.  Am I a
savage, Penelope? and did I not get married in a cathedral, a most
beautiful cathedral, all Gothic and newly restored at a vast expense?
My dear, I am amazed and horrified and shocked to think that you should
not perceive the quite exquisite fitness of being married in a piece of
lovely Gothic architecture, to the very loveliest music, breathing over
Eden, and so on, while all your dearest friends shed tears of purest
joy—"

"To see her got rid of," said Bradstock.

And even Ethel Mytton laughed.

"Augustin!  Ethel Mytton!  How can you say such things and laugh?  It’s
wicked; it’s indecent!"

"Yes," said Penelope, "that’s what I say. There’s nothing to choose
between your way and the American way the millionaire women have over
there, when they hold a flower-show in a gilded room, and get married
under a bell of roses at the cost of a hundred thousand dollars.  I’d
rather be knocked down by a nice savage, or run away with by a viking,
or caught by a pirate.  I won’t be breathed over in Eden by a stuffy
crowd.  If—if—"

"Oh, if what?" gasped Titania.

"If I ever do get married," said Penelope, "I’ll never tell any of you
beforehand!"

"Good heavens!" said the duchess, "you won’t tell us?"

"I won’t."

"You’ll let us find out!  Shall I know nothing of the marriage of my
brother’s child till I read it in the _Times_?  It shall not be!
Augustin, does she mean it?"

Augustin lighted a cigarette and walked to the window, which looked down
on the traffic of Piccadilly.

"I give it up," said Augustin.  "When could I answer riddles?  Do you
mean it, Pen?"

And Penelope, rising up, stood on the hearthrug and, looking like the
descendant of a viking and some fair Venetian, declared that she did
mean it.  And she further went on to say, in great haste and with a most
remarkable flow of words, that it shouldn’t be in the _Times_ or any
other paper. And she said that if Titania, Duchess of Goring, was her
aunt, it couldn’t be helped, and that her principles were more to her
than any one’s approval. Though she loved her aunt and her dear sweet
guardian, these same principles were even dearer than they were.  And
she said that they had no principles ("not even Guardy dear"), and that
they only thought of a demon thing called Society, which was at once a
fetich and a phantom.  And she became so excited that she talked like a
real woman orator upon a platform, and expressed her intention of using
her influence to bring about reform, especially in such matters and with
regard to young men who did nothing, and seemed to think they had been
created for that very purpose.  And, as she talked, there wasn’t a man
in the world who would not have yearned to take his coat off and ask for
a pick and shovel at the least, for she was as beautiful as any young
goddess fresh from Grecian foam or from high Olympus.  Even Bradstock
sighed to think that he had never done anything for the human race,
which required so much help, but sit in the Upper House, a speechless
phantom. And Ethel Mytton cried with an imparted enthusiasm, while the
duchess wept with horror.

"And more than that," said Penelope, who broke down in her eloquence and
resorted to the tone of conversation, "more than that, I’ll never, never
let you know whom I marry!  I mean it!  That—that’s flat!"

And after this damp but awful peroration, she sat down with heaving
bosom, and poor, bewildered Titania shook her head till it looked as if
it would come off.  She found no flow of words to oppose Penelope with.
The biggest river is nothing when it flows into the sea, and, if Titania
was the Amazon, Pen was the South Atlantic.

"Not who he is?" said the duchess, as feebly as if she were no more than
a brook in a meadow.

"I will not," said Penelope, like a sea in a cyclone.

"Not—  Oh, I must go home," piped Titania. "Augustin, she’s capable of
marrying a chauffeur, because he can drive at sixty miles an hour,—or—or
a groom!"

"I’d rather marry either or both," said Pen, furiously, "than be mobbed
and musicked into matrimony with a grinning crowd of idiots looking on."

"This is immoral," said Titania, "it’s very immoral; you couldn’t marry
both.  I’ll go home, Bradstock."

And Bradstock took her there.

"You’ve done it, Titania," he said, as they drove. "She’s as obstinate
and as violent as a passive resister.  You’ve put her bristles up, and
Pen never goes back from what she says."

"You are very like a man, Augustin," sobbed the duchess.

"She’s more like a woman than I’m like a man," growled Bradstock.

He had never risen to eminence, and only once to his feet in the Upper
House, and sometimes this rankled.

"Yes, I mean it, I mean it," said Penelope.

"And I wanted to be your bridesmaid," sobbed Ethel.

"You never will be, and you can tell every one what I say."

"I won’t," said Ethel, "I won’t."

And she went away and told them.



                             *CHAPTER II.*


In spite of what good conventional people said, there was nothing
abnormal in Penelope’s character. The walking world appears abnormal to
an institute for cripples; good going is an absurdity, and as for
running—  The truth is that Penelope, by some unimaginable freak of
fortune, had been born quite sound and sane, barring her one lack, that
of humour.  The providential death of her parents at an early age saved
her from a deal of teaching. Bradstock saved her from a great deal more,
and she saw to the rest.  It pleased Augustin, Lord Bradstock, to play
with gunpowder, in spite of what he said about dynamite.  He encouraged
her to trust to herself in a way that every well-regulated woman
considered highly dangerous, and he used to enrage her in order to hear
what she had to say to him.  There was a period in which she swore
vigorously.  She learnt her language from an old stableman, who adored
her even more than he did any horse.  This was at the age of three.  Her
first interview with her aunt, the Duchess of Goring, was positively so
shocking to Titania, who was mid-Victorian, and never got over it, that
the poor thing almost fainted when Penelope, a shining brat of three,
damned her eyes with terrific vigour. Goring, who was that very curious
and absurd survival of a thousand ages, known as a sportsman, roared
with laughter.  There was humanity in him.  There was none in Titania,
though there might have been if she had married any one but a duke.  And
Penelope damned her eyes for saying she mustn’t go to the stables
without a retinue, an escort, a bodyguard of footmen and nurses and
governesses.

"I haven’t a governeth now," lisped Penelope. "I thacked the latht one,
didn’t I, Bradstock?"

Lady Bradstock, number two, was then reigning without governing as far
as Bradstock was concerned, and governing without reigning as far as
another was concerned, and she paid no attention to Penelope, except to
encourage her to amuse her guardian.  Thus Penelope grew like a tree in
the open, and there were no Dutch gardeners to clip her.  At fifteen she
greeted her last governess, a lady of great learning and no ability,
with the news that she had had her luggage got ready, and that there was
the carriage at the door for her.  There is no defending such conduct.
Pen never defended it herself in later years.  She acknowledged she had
been a brute to Miss Mackarness, and gave her a position as housekeeper
in one of her own houses, that she never visited, with permission to
receive the shillings some visitors paid to see a mansion like a
sarcophagus, with one treasure of a Turner in it.

The trouble was that Penelope was natural.  She had not been trained to
become so; she grew so. There is no more painful and laborious a process
than to learn to be natural in later life.  But to grow like it!  Ah,
that was splendid, and many unthinking people laughed to hear Pen when
she swore, or cried, or begged for pardon, or dominated the whole little
world around her.  The world indeed smiled on Pen, and now she was
twenty-one and splendid, mobile, gracious, Venetian, strong, and as rich
as an American heiress, and she already had as many wooers as Penelope
of old.  But the little bow of Cupid was too much for them. Other
defence was too good.  And now these strange notions grew up in her.
There was some natural shame in her heart that the crowd of duchesses
and what not could not understand.  When He came at last, riding
gallantly, a brave male, virile, strong, and bold, armed in shining
armour, should she lead him out into Piccadilly, investing him in a
frock coat for his armour and a cylinder for his helmet, and marry him
in a crowd, while a paid organist played something about Eden?  Oh,
where was Eden?

Here’s romance then, and in a new guise in a young woman.  For the true
romantic age is the age of feminine desperation.  When one has been
"taught" all one’s best years, it’s hard to be romantic till one wears
through one’s fetters at the very foot of the scaffold, when it’s too
late.  How many sweet women sour in cream-jugs, and escape the cat, or
some roaring lion, for nothing but sourest contemplation.  They crowd
feminine churches.

Pen’s brother, or, rather, half-brother, was ten years her senior, and
played a suitable part in the orchestra of the House of Lords as Lord
Brading. He voted for the government when it was conservative, and
against it when it was liberal with perfect certainty and good-will.
There was nothing remarkable about Brading but the strange, almost
awestruck admiration with which he worshipped Penelope.  A man even of
the most absurd conservative solidity must be a radical and an anarchist
somewhere, and indeed he pretended to be something of a socialist.
Nevertheless, he had humour.  Brading thought his half-sister a wonder,
and had no criticism for her.  Indeed it is believed that he helped the
groom mentioned above to teach her unrefinements of the English language
peculiarly shocking to early and mid Victorians.  But in his heart
"Bill" Brading considered Pen’s mother accounted for, excused
everything.  The last Lady Brading was an American who wallowed in
money, which she invested in repairing her husband’s character and his
castles.  When he died, and nothing could be done for his character but
suppress biographers, she invested in ancient demesnes on Pen’s behalf,
and bought her rat-riddled and ghost-haunted mansions of historic
character till there were few (and among them Penelope could not be
counted) who could tell how many of them she owned.  Then Lady Brading
went to a newer world than the United States, and left Pen to the care
of Augustin, Lord Bradstock, a man of brains and no voice when on his
legs.  It is reported that he learnt a speech of his own composing by
heart, and when he rose to deliver it all he said was, "Good God," in an
astonished whisper, and collapsed, struck by a form of paralysis which
rarely attacks fools and which bores cannot suffer from.

Penelope was richer than her half-brother, for her mother, having paid
her husband’s debts, rebuilt Brading House, and saved his life from
being written after a very quiet and gentlemanly departure, considered
she had done her duty to the family. She left her stepson five thousand
pounds, it is true, and, with a want of ostentation not peculiarly
American, she left another five to Penelope, and modestly made her
residuary legatee.  The residue was considerably over a million dollars.
And then there were the houses, most of them ineligible properties in
ring-fences, fit for immediate occupation after they had been restored.
For poor Lady Brading had a passion for ruins, and collected castles as
some do bric-à-brac.  The two great griefs of her life were that she
could not buy Haddon Hall and Arundel Castle.

Well, there is the situation plainly outlined.  Pen was as savage as
Pocahontas, so some said, and she could, an she liked, wallow in money.
She owned property all over England, to say nothing of a chateau near
Tours, a palazzo in Venice, and a building in New York which brought in
more than the rest cost to keep up.  She had a brother, a peer with a
voice, a guardian a peer without one, an aunt who was a duchess, and
strange ideas of her own which got up and talked on the most unsuitable
occasions.

But then there was her beauty as clamant as a rose of fire, as sweet as
violet or verbena!  The rose can be gilded it seems, like a lily, and
the gold was a power to her, giving authority over men. She who had
enough to command the work of many thousands at current wages (for this
is money truly) commanded that strange respect for power as well as love
for herself.  Her lovers were numberless, so people said, and there was
this truth in their being beyond arithmetic that no one troubled to
count them.  Marriageable beauties of a lesser order of loveliness
prayed for her extinction in matrimony.  Mothers of the marriageable
prayed for it with a fervour only equalled by the fervour of her
hopeless lovers, if there can be fervour without hope.  It is the
command of true beauty that it can.  Had not all the painters, all the
sculptors, from Pheidias down to the unselected classics of our own
time, met together when she rose, a newer Aphrodite from the sea of the
unknown!  Her loveliness was sweet and intolerable; one ached at it.
Cowards shrank from it.  Brave men cried for her.  There are strange
tales!

What a strange motley gathering she selected. They had one thing in
common, to be discovered shortly, one would think.  She discovered their
qualities by inspection.  Many would-bes she drove away overcliff.  She
knew men of many classes adored her, wondering and humble.  One great
lover of hers, who was very good to horses, and only reasonably bitter
against motor-cars, was her groom, Timothy Bunting.  He didn’t know he
loved her.  Indeed, he imagined he loved her maid.  But there is this
quality in a great love, that it asks all or nothing.  Tim was perhaps
as great as the greatest, but he rode behind her even when the Marquis
de Rivaulx or Rufus Q. Plant rode alongside her with a quiet and
unjealous mind.  There was much in Timothy, as much or more than there
was in the French marquis, who rode "well enough," as Tim said, or as in
Plant, who rode "all over ’is ’orse," as became one bred in Arizona.
These must show themselves by and by.  They had the quality, at any
rate.  Even Tim knew it.

But what was it that gave permission to Mr. Austin de Vere to join the
throng?  He wrote poetry.  He followed her as close as a rhyme in a
couplet.  He never wrote her any, for which she was pleased to be
flatteringly thankful.  There are some things that cannot be set down in
verse even by the greatest, and the poet De Vere acknowledged this
humbly.  He had the character of being the most conceited and
immitigable ass in England, and when he was with Penelope he was as
humble as a puppy in leash.  There was something great in his mighty
subjection.  Not even Goby, late of the Guards, was so mitigable and so
mitigated when Pen was by.  And Goby’s V.C. was almost as much valued by
him as his clothes and boots. He gained it by a fit of angry rage, such
as had led him to pay several sovereigns at a desk in a back office at a
police-station, and came out of his temper to discover he was a hero.
So much for luck when a big man, with the quality and temper of a bull,
gets into a row in a sangar without any police to stay his hand.

"As for that De Vere," said Goby, "why, I could crush him with one
hand."

"And he could make you sore with a few words," said Penelope.

"He couldn’t," bragged Goby.

Penelope smiled.

"No, perhaps he couldn’t," she said, pensively, and Goby was pleased
with her opinion of his bull’s hide.  Europa had at any rate scratched
him.  He indicated the sea of matrimony with inarticulate bellows.  But
of course he was really quite possible. As Chloe Cadwallader said, his
boots were inspiration, polished, and his Christian name was
Plantagenet.  He had some obscure right to it.

Then there was Lord Bramber.  Some folks said if she married any one,
she would marry Bramber, because his father was the Earl of Pulborough.
They forgot all the rest of the aristocratic mob. If any title pleased
her democratic soul, she could pick strawberries.  One senile and one
merely silly duke pursued her panting.  But she certainly liked Bramber,
and showed her partiality for him or her unpartiality with frankness.
She had hopes of him, though he appeared hopeless now at the age of
twenty-seven.  She maintained that men were half their age and women
twice it, at the least.

"Dear Titania is ninety," said Penelope, "and Guardy is twenty-five.
Lord Bramber will perhaps think of doing some work when he is fifteen."

There came with these, with and not after, Jimmy Carew, who was an
A.R.A.  He painted portraits, and talked about art with eloquence till
no one, even an artist, could guess what he meant.  But he believed
things with such faith that many of his fair sitters agreed with him.
He was the best looking of the whole "horde," as Titania called Pen’s
adorers.

The "horde" included Leopold Norfolk Gordon, who had a house in Park
Lane and ever so many people’s money to keep it up with.  As may be
guessed from his name, he was a Jew.  Several people, with whom he could
not share the money he had acquired by unsullied dishonesty, said his
real name was Isaac Levi.  Goby, who hated him bitterly, consoled him
when a less successful Israelite called him "Ikey," at Ascot, by saying:

"It’s damned hard lines, Gordon.  A man may be born in Whitechapel
without being a Jew."

So near may insolence come to wit.  When this was pointed out to Goby,
he told the story everywhere with many chuckles.  But it was impossible
to deny certain attributes to poor Gordon, whether his name was Levi or
Moses, or Ehrenbreitstein, for that matter.  Penelope had no racial
prejudices, and anti-Semitism was unnatural and abhorrent to her.  She
said things about negroes to Rufus Q. Plant (born in Virginia) which
made his flesh creep almost as badly as if he had been born in Delaware.
So in spite of Gordon’s looking somewhat Semitic, she asserted there
were the qualities she required in the poor man, who indeed was not
bumptious or loud or peculiarly offensive in her presence.  He that
stole millions feared a girl.  He polished his last week’s hat with
trembling hands, that had signed death-warrants in the city, when he
spoke with her.

And to round off the "horde" with another sample, there came in Carteret
Williams.  He was the biggest of the lot, and had a voice like a
toastmaster’s, or that of the man who announces the train at Zurich.  It
is worth going there to hear him, by the way.  Many good Americans
travel for less.  Williams was a writer, a journalist, a
war-correspondent, or, as he said, a "battle vulture."  When he could
dip his pen in blood, he wrote with a red picturesqueness which was
horribly attractive. He belonged to a very decent family, and took to
his present trade by nature.  That gives some hint of why Penelope liked
him.

What was the secret, then, the secret that brought young Bramber, and
Rufus Quintus Plant, and "Ikey Levi," alias Leopold Norfolk Gordon, and
Captain Plantagenet Goby, and the verse-making De Vere, together with
the Marquis de Rivaulx and Jimmy Carew, under one table-cloth, so to
speak, at the Tattenham Corner of wooing?  Some said Penelope wouldn’t
have anything to do with any one who was not a Man.  It is true she
abhorred those who were not men; but so much depends upon a definition.
In the West (and the East, for that matter) a Man goes for what he is
worth, and is common currency, as he should be, and a "White Man" is the
gold.  To be called a White Man is the true compliment, and
implies,—well, it implies what the "horde" implied.  They were men and
Man, and "White," so Penelope said when she had picked up the
picturesque figure from Rufus Q. Plant.  They might be asses (and some
were, or at least mules), but they meant to run straight.  They were
lazy, or some were, but the laziest lay under the delusion that laziness
was their godlike duty.  They needed the spur.  They might be brutes in
the way of business (you should read what has been written in a New York
paper about Plant, or hear what a certain disembowelled set in the city
say of Gordon, who turned them inside out), but they played the game.
They knew what cricket was, even when it was played with red-hot shot,
and not to carry one’s bat meant blue ruin. After saying that they were
all this, which implies they were men of honour, each according to the
code of their fellows (for this is honour), I shall show you how they
came, or how many of them came, to utter grief in curious ways under
very odd stresses.  What can a man of honour do in an entirely new
position, one not provided for in any code?  It would puzzle a jury of
archangels to say.

"Have you heard?" asked Goby, with wondering eyes.

"What she says?" replied Gordon.

"Shade of Titian!" cried Jimmy Carew.

"Well, I’m damned!" said Carteret Williams.

"This is romance," sighed the De Vere.

"I’m—I’m—that’s what I am," whistled Rufus Q. Plant.

"Imphm!" murmured Lord Bramber.

"Sapristi!" shrieked the French marquis.

Wasn’t it enough to make them exclaim when it was reported all over
London, and in the country, and in papers and cables to New York that
Penelope Brading had sworn, with a great oath, that she meant to upset
the holy apple-cart of all tradition (at least since Adam) by never
letting any one know who her husband was!  They knew her, and knew her
word was sacred.  Now let all unwhite men, all unrealities, all ghosts,
all vain folks vanish one by one.

With one voice the "horde" exclaimed, as they set their teeth:

"Well, we don’t care!"

What does this say for Penelope’s faculties of distinguishing men from
monkeys, and white from gray?



                             *CHAPTER III.*


All that happened now only shows one how the greatest sense of modesty
may end in the biggest advertisement.  Penelope, though determined to do
her duty, which was mainly to educate mankind, meant doing it
unobtrusively, and there was not a man or woman in the British Isles or
in the United States who did not hear of her quiet intention.  The
cables hummed with Penelope’s name; it was whispered in the great deeps
of the sea; wireless telegraphists caught Lady Penelope Brading out of
Hertzian waves; ships ploughed the ocean laden with Penelope and copy
about her.

In two twos the notoriety hunters in London sank into insignificance;
professional beauties were neglected, and the sale of their photographs
fell off. There was an immense demand for Penelope’s, which, luckily, no
one could satisfy until an enterprising New Yorker flooded the United
States with portraits.  Before it was found out that this particular
photograph was one of a young actress whom he proposed introducing to
the public shortly, he sold amazing quantities of them.  When there was
one in every inquiring household from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico,
the real sitter for it wrote to the papers and complained bitterly.  She
is now playing to crowded houses.  There are many paths to fame.

Poor Pen was at first horribly shocked.  She was young.  And yet she was
human.  She said: "Oh, dear, oh, dear!" and, swearing that she would
never read a word about herself, she subscribed to a newspaper cutting
agency.

From the New York papers alone one could cull a highly coloured account
of her whole history. And they gave Bradstock’s history, too, not
omitting his two-word exclamatory speech in the House of Lords.
Bradstock stood it like a Trojan, like a Spartan.  He never turned a
hair even when they said that he was going to marry Penelope himself.
They gave a full biography of Titania, with a real photograph.  When the
duchess saw it, she was silent for full five minutes, such was the shock
it gave her.  Then she talked for five hours, and called on the American
ambassador.

"Cannot you do anything for me?" asked Titania, perorating.

"I’m afraid not, your Grace," said the ambassador, wearily.  He said it
was an awful thing to be an ambassador sometimes, though it had its
points.

Being discomfited for once by an ambassador, she turned on Bradstock,
and rent him limb from limb.  And then she went to Penelope.

"I’m only doing my duty," said Penelope, with her beautiful lips as firm
as Grecian marble.

"Your duty!" shrieked the duchess; "and look at the papers!"

"I can’t help what they say, aunt.  One’s duty—"

"They tell my weight," said Titania.  "How did they know?"

"They must have guessed it," said Penelope.

"I don’t _look_ it," pleaded the duchess, now suddenly plaintive.

"No, no, dear auntie, you don’t," said poor Penelope.  "Oh, it’s cruel
of them."

"Help me, then," said Titania.  "Get married at once in a cathedral, and
all this will stop.  I’ll ask the dear archbishop to officiate,
Penelope.  Oh, my darling!"

But Penelope became Pentelican marble again; she froze into a severe
goddess, and she saw Titania weep.

"It’s scandalous!  Oh, and they have a list of them all," said Titania.

Indeed, the _New York Dustman_ had the "horde" set out in a row like the
entries for the Derby. They said the betting was on Rufus Q. Plant, of
course.  They gave a short and succulent biography of them all.  They
headed the list "The Lady Penelope Handicap."  They used some slang
about "weight for age."

"Great heavens!" said Titania, "all town is ringing with it.  If this is
the result of looking on marriage as one’s private business, give me
publicity!"

There would have been less of it if a prince had married a publican’s
daughter in St. Paul’s, and had presented the dean with a set of pewter
pots.

"And if she does what she says!"

The only men who did not talk much about Penelope were naturally those
who aspired to win her.  Every one neglected politics and sport to
discuss her.  She became politics and sport.  Huge sums of money were at
stake as to whether she would keep her word; as to the length of time
she would keep the secret, and as to who the man was to be.  There were
public and private books made on the series of events.  And there was a
Penelope party and an opposition.  Many young people who were
revolutionary in their sentiments said she was right.  There was a
Penelope Cave in the House of Commons.  Some of those who fought year in
and year out for the Deceased Wife’s Sister backed her up.  It was
whispered that the prince was a Penelopian; two princesses threatened
with objectionable persons of the royal blood were heard to observe that
there was something in what she said. Penelope was within measurable
distance of becoming a national, or even an international, question.
Mrs. X. wrote an article in the _Fortnightly_ on "Secret Marriage in
History."  Mr. Z. sat down and wrote a novel, bristling with "wit and
epigram," in ten days, which ran into the third edition of two hundred
and fifty copies in thirty.  It was said that questions were to be asked
in the House. A play on the subject was forbidden by the lord
chamberlain.  The wittiest article on the subject was written by a Mr.
Shaw.  He argued that no really beautiful woman had any right to be
married at all.  He said plaintively that it wasn’t fair, and convinced
the ugly in two syllogisms.

And, as the result of this, Penelope went away into the country, though
it was May, with Ethel Mytton and Mrs. Cadwallader, who was called
Chloe, and stood by Pen remorselessly in every difficulty.  For Pen had
helped her out of an awful mess, the history of which would make a whole
story of itself.  As a result of it, Cadwallader was in the Rocky
Mountains shooting, and a certain young soldier was taking too much
liquor and too little quinine in Nigeria, and Chloe got her diamonds
back from Messrs. Attenborough, and was eternally grateful to Penelope
in consequence.

"And I shall send for them one by one," said Penelope.  "They can come
down by the ten o’clock train from Paddington, and go back by the five
o’clock one from here.  And after lunch I shall explain my ideas to
them."

"And I’ll be with you," said Chloe, who was as dark-locked as a raven’s
wing.

"Oh, I don’t mind," said Penelope; "of course you will.  I’m too young,
am I not, to be left alone, Chloe?  Is it true, Chloe, that the older a
woman gets the bigger fool she is?"

Chloe said it was true.

"I’ll ask Titania to let Bob come over," said Penelope.  "He’s the
wisest person I know."

Bob was Titania’s grandson, and was certainly young enough to be wise,
as he was only fourteen. He had been sent to three of the great public
schools, and had been taken away because of his fighting capabilities.
He never knew when he had enough, and it is quite impossible to keep a
boy at any school if he breaks out of bounds to fight some young butcher
or baker in a back alley at least once a week.  Now he had a tutor who
had been an amateur boxer of great merit.  It began to take the tutor
all his time to handle his pupil.  But if Bob was knocked endways about
three times a week, it sobered him and made him do his work.  He did not
yet know whether he wanted to be a prize-fighter or the
commander-in-chief.  But he loved Penelope.

"I’ll send for Bob," said Penelope.

And Bob came with Mr. Guthrie, his tutor, and Titania was glad to get
rid of him for a time.

"Oh, Pen," said Bob, "how jolly kind of you to ask me.  I’m sick of
grandmother; she worries me to death.  Always says, ’Robert, you
mustn’t.’  I say, have you read Kip’s ’Cat that Walked by Himself’?  Mr.
Guthrie says it’s splendid, and I say it’s rot.  But old Guth likes
Virgil and Horace.  Isn’t that strange, for he can box like anything.
Baker, the groom, says he can.  And Baker’s awful good with the mitts.
But I say, Pen, what’s all this about you in the papers?  Grandmother
wails when she sees one now.  I ain’t sure I like having you so much in
the papers, Pen."

"I don’t like it, either," said Penelope, "but I can’t help it."

"Is it true that you’re going to be married and never tell any one?"
demanded Bob from the bottom of a huge rocking-chair, as they sat on the
lawn.  They were in one of Pen’s habitable houses, and the lawn ran down
to the Thames.

"I won’t if I don’t want to," said Penelope. "But you’re a boy, Bob, and
don’t understand these things."

Bob snorted and smiled, not unsubtly.

"Oh, Pen, don’t be like grandmother.  I understand pretty nearly
everything now.  Granny’s always saying that, and it’s jolly rot.  You
can’t be like me, turned out of three schools, and not know something.
Are you going to get married soon?"

Pen shook her head.

"She’s very savage at your knowing that Jew cad, Gordon, but grandfather
isn’t.  He says that Gordon may be a Jew, of course, but he’s all right.
I asked him if I could get put on a board as a director, and he was so
mad with me.  I think Gordon’s asked him to be a director, and he’d like
to only he daren’t.  He’s got none too much money, you know, Pen.  But
about all these chaps, Pen?"

He went through the horde seriatim, and pronounced upon them all with
ineffable wisdom.

"Goby’s an ass, but a good ass, Pen," he said, as he kicked with his
legs.  "He gave me a thick-un a year ago when I was in difficulties.
But he hasn’t the brains to make a good corporal.  Baker says that.
Baker was a sergeant in the Dublin Fusiliers. I like Plant, though, Pen.
Baker says he rides in a rummy fashion, more like a circus man than
anything else, but he can stick to a horse.  And there’s your Frenchman.
I say, how does he come to be called Rivaulx?  Was he called after
Rivaulx in Yorkshire, or was it called after him?  Ask him if he shoots
larks in his native country.  All Frenchmen do, old Guth says.  He says
he read a book the other day in which a French priest says he never sees
a lark without wanting to shoot it.  What a miserable rotter, wasn’t he?
But Rivaulx isn’t so bad, though.  He’s a gentleman, at any rate, though
he is French.  I say, why do foreigners never look like gentlemen?
Dashed if I know.  I’ve often wondered, because grandfather likes them,
through his having been an ambassador.  Sometimes a German does, though.
And Bramber’s all right, Pen. I don’t think I’d mind your marrying him."

"I won’t marry any one who isn’t a useful citizen," said Pen.

"He’s all right," urged Bob.  "He’s as strong as a bull.  Baker says
he’d peel better than most prize-fighters.  What is a useful citizen?  I
say, if you get married, you’ll tell me who it is?"

"No," said Penelope.

"I call that mean," said Bob.  "I’d not tell any one, and I’d help like
fun."

"I’m sure you would, Bob.  But I may never get married."

"Rot," said Bob, "a girl like you not get married! Oh, I say!"

And he continued to say for some hours, and proved himself most
entertaining company, quoting Baker, who had been a sergeant in the
Dublin Fusiliers, and had been very severely knocked about by Jem Mace,
and appealing to Mr. Guthrie, who came over with him to get him to look
at a book in the mornings, to back him up.  He was really very modest
and gentlemanly, at the same time that he was exceedingly bumptious and
arrogant, after the best manner of the extremely healthy English boy.

And at twelve o’clock he came running to Penelope and Chloe by the
river-bank in wild excitement.

"I say, Pen, I say, Pen, there’s old Goby coming, and with that
miserable rotter who makes poetry. What’s brought ’em here?"

"I asked them to lunch," said Pen.

"Eh, what?" cried Bob.  "Goby and that rotter, Austin de Vere!  I say,
Mr. Guthrie—"

He ran off to Guthrie, bawling:

"I say, Mr. Guthrie, here’s that poet chap, Austin de Vere, come.
Didn’t you say he mostly wrote rot?"

And Goby and De Vere came across the lawn together, like a mastiff and a
Maltese in company. They made each other as nervous as cats, and
couldn’t for their lives understand why they were asked together.

"The clumsy brute," said De Vere.

"The verse-making monkey," said Goby.

But tailors could have admired them both.  They were perfect.  And lunch
was a most painful function, only endurable to Penelope because she was
on the track of her duty, and to Chloe because she laughed internally,
and to Mr. Guthrie (who was really a clever man) because he liked to
study men and manners, and to Bob because he talked all the time, owing
to the silence of the others.

"I say, Captain Goby, I’ve got a splendid bull-pup.  Baker got him for
me, cheap, for a quid,—a sovereign, I mean.  You remember Baker.  He was
a sergeant,—oh, I told you that just now. Do you like bulldogs, Mr. de
Vere?"

De Vere was politely sulky.

"Bulldogs, oh, ah, well, I do not know that I do."

He looked at Goby, who was also sulky and feeling very much out of it.
But the subject of bulldogs appealed to him, because he saw it didn’t
amuse his rival.

"I’ll give you a real good pup, Bob," he said, good-naturedly; "one that
no one could get for a sovereign.

"A real pedigree pup?"

"With a pedigree as long as your own," said Goby.

Bob sighed, and laid his hand on Goby’s.

"I say, Pen, isn’t Captain Goby a real good ’un?" he asked.  "Baker
says—"

But what Baker said does not come into this history, as the lunch
finished, and they all went into the garden.  Goby spoke to Bob as they
went out.

"I say, Bob, get hold of that ass De Vere, and talk to him as hard as
the very deuce, will you?"

"You meant that about the pup?" said Bob.

"Of course, Bob."

"I’ll talk his beastly head off," said Bob.

And this was why Penelope spoke confidentially to Captain Goby before
she did so to the poet.  She was exceedingly pale and very dignified,
but she lost no time in getting to the point.

"Captain Goby," she said, "you have asked me to marry you at least three
times."

Goby sighed.

"Is it only three?" he demanded, and he added, firmly, "it will be more
yet."

"And I said ’no’ because I had no idea of marrying any one."

"That was rot," said Goby.  "For, if you married no one else, you would
marry me."

"Certainly not as you are," retorted Penelope. "I want you and all men
(that I know) to reform."

Goby was not astonished at anything Penelope said.

"I reformed long ago," he said.  "As soon as I saw you, I said I’d
reform and I did.  It was a great deal of trouble, but I did it.  Oh,
you’ve no idea how I suffered.  But I said, ’Plantagenet, my boy, if you
are to be worthy, you must buck up!’"

This was encouraging.

"I’m glad I’ve had so much influence," said Pen, who didn’t quite know
what his reforms had been. "But there are other things.  This is merely
negative.  What are you doing to be useful to the state? Are you loafing
about on your money?  Do you do any work?  Are you educating yourself?"

Goby gasped.

"I say, come, Lady Penelope, I’ve done all that! Education! why, I had a
horrid time at school and at a crammer’s—"

"Do you read?" asked Pen, severely.

"Why, of course," said Goby.

"What?"

Goby rubbed his cropped hair with two fingers.

"Papers?"

"Anything?" said Pen.

"Well, I read the _Sportsman_ and the _Pink Un_ (at least, I did before
I reformed) and the _Referee_," said Goby.

"Books?"

"Not many," said Goby.  "But I will.  What do you recommend?"

"I think Tennyson and Shelley would do you good," said Pen, "but you had
better ask Mr. de Vere.  And do you do anything useful?"

"De Vere!  Oh, Lord!" cried Goby.  "Anything useful?  Why, I was in the
army—"

"And now you do nothing.  Well," said Penelope, "I think you had better
begin at once.  Any man I know has to do something useful.  You must go
to the War Office and ask to be made something again.  I think a
colonelcy of a militia regiment would suit you.  And I am going to ask
Mr. de Vere to take an interest in your reading."

"The devil!" said Goby.  "I say, my dear Lady Penelope, I can’t stand
him.  Why, you may have seen we are barely civil to each other."

"I shall speak to him firmly," said Penelope, "and it’s for his good,
too.  He leads an unhealthy indoor life.  I want you to change all that.
You row a great deal still, don’t you?"

"Since I reformed I began again," said Goby. He felt the muscles of his
right arm with complacency.

"Take him out and make him row, then," said Pen, "and while he rows you
can read poetry to him, and so on.  It will be good for both of you."

"But—" said Goby.

"Yes?"

"If I do this, will you marry me?"

Penelope shook her head.

"If you do it, I’ll think whether I’ll marry you."

"Oh," said the soldier, "and if I just can’t hit it off with that poet?"

"Then I won’t think about it," replied Pen. "I’ll never, never consider
the possibility of marrying any one who isn’t leading a useful life, and
educating himself, and living on less than a thousand a year.  Can you
do that, too?"

"Dashed if I see how it can be done," said Plantagenet Goby.  "But I’ll
try, oh, yes, I’ll try."

"Now you talk to Chloe," said Penelope, and she went away to the rescue
of the poet.  For Bob had got him in a corner.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN PLANTAGENET GOBY, V.C., LATE OF THE GUARDS. Who
was ordered to read poetry]

"I say, Mr. de Vere, wasn’t that ripping of old Goby to say he’d give me
a real pedigree bull-pup? He knows a bull-pup from a window-shutter, as
Baker says.  You don’t like them?  No, but you would if you had one.  I
feed mine myself, and I wear thick gloves, so’s not to get hydrophobia
when he bites.  He’s a most interesting dog, and not so good-tempered as
most bulldogs.  When he sees a cat, oh, my, it’s fun!  Look here, when
Goby gives me the new pup with the pedigree, you can have mine, if you
like, cheap.  I know you have a place in the country, and you must want
a bulldog. Will you buy him?"

"Good heavens, no!" said the poet.

"Humph!" cried Bob, who of course had quite forgotten that he was doing
all this for Goby, and was just enjoying himself.  "Why, what do you do
in the country without a dog?  Do you ride?"

"No," said De Vere.

"Well, of all—I say, Mr. de Vere, what do you do?  Do you walk about and
make poetry, and do you like making it?  Old Guth, I mean Mr. Guthrie,
he’s my tutor, and he’s over there talking to Mrs. Cadwallader, he reads
a lot, and some of yours, too."

"Oh, does he!" said De Vere, who began to take some interest.  "Does
he?"

"Oh, a lot of yours, he says; most of it, I think."

"And does he like it?"

Bob put his head on one side.

"Well, he says it’s not bad, some of it."

De Vere flinched at this faint praise.

"Indeed!  And what does he like best?" he asked.

"Oh, the beastliest rot," returned Bob, "Browning and Shelley, and I
say, do you see that bulge in his pocket?  That’s Catullus.  He reads
him all day.  But here comes Pen.  I say, won’t you have my bull-pup?
I’ll let you have him for half a sovereign; I got him for a sovereign,
at least, Baker did.  _I_ think your poetry’s very fine, sir; Mr.
Guthrie lent me some."

But Penelope came across the lawn, and De Vere forgot Bob and the
bull-pup, and fell down and worshipped.  And the goddess took hold of
him, and stripped a lot of his poetry away, and set a few facts before
him and made him gasp.

"I heard a very strange rumour, Lady Penelope," he said, when he was
once more standing upright before Aphrodite.  "I heard—oh, but it was
absurd!  I can’t believe it."

"Then it is probably true," said the goddess, breathlessly, "for I mean
to have my own way and to initiate a reform in marriages, Mr. de Vere. I
have been reading the accounts of some fashionable weddings lately, and
they made me ill.  What you have heard is quite true."

The poet shook his head.

"I have had the honour to beg you to believe a thousand times that I am
devoted to you—"

"Three times, I think," said Pen, who was good at arithmetic.

"Is it only thrice?  But do I understand that, if I were to have the
inexpressible delight of winning your love, Lady Penelope, that the
marriage would be a secret one, that no one would know of it?"

"I mean that," said Penelope, enthusiastically. "It is a new departure,
an assertion of a just individualism, although I am a socialist.  I
abhor ceremonies, and will not be interfered with.  I have stated with
the utmost clarity to all my relations that I shall not consult them or
let them know until I choose, and I shall only get married (if I ever
do) on these terms."

"I agree to them," said the poet.  "Lady Penelope, will you do me the
inexpressible honour to be my wife?"

"Oh, dear, no," said Pen.  "Why, certainly not, Mr. de Vere.  I don’t
love any one yet, and perhaps I never shall.  But what I say is this:
I’ll think as to whether I shall marry you if you do as I wish about
this matter and about others."

"My blessed lady," said the poet, "is there anything I would not dare or
do?"

"I’ve told Captain Goby exactly the same thing," said Penelope, thereby
putting her pretty foot upon the sudden flowers of De Vere’s
imagination, "and what I want of you is to be more an out-of-door man.
You live too much in rooms, hothouses, Mr. de Vere, and in your own
garden."

"I was in a garden, I a poet, with one who was (oh, and is) an angel,"
said De Vere, "but now I dwell in arid deserts, shall I say the Desert
of Gobi?  What have I to do with him?  Shall he dare to pretend to you,
dear lady?"

"He’s a very good chap," said Pen, quite shortly, "and I think it would
do you good to associate with him more.  I’ve told him so, and he
agrees. I want you to make him read a little, and exercise his
imagination.  And he can take you out rowing and shooting perhaps, and I
think a little hunting wouldn’t do you harm.  You might ask him to stay
with you, and he’ll ask you.  And I want you to go out in motor-cars."

"Good heavens!" said De Vere.

"I know it will be hard," said Pen, consolingly. "But you know what I
want.  It’s not enough to be rich and write poetry, Mr. de Vere.  I
think you might read statistics; statistics are a tonic, and I want you
to be a useful citizen, too.  There are things to be done.  Just look at
my cousin Bob. Now he’ll be a splendid man."

"He wanted to sell me a bull-pup," murmured the poet.

"He’s a good boy," said Pen, affectionately, "and his instincts are to
be trusted.  I think a bulldog would do you good perhaps.  And I shall
expect to hear you have asked Captain Goby to stay with you.  And don’t
forget the statistics."

"I’ll do it," said the unhappy poet, "for while the One Hope I have
exists, and until ’vain desire at last and vain regret go hand in hand
to death,’ I am your slave."

And, as he went away, he called Bob to him.

"I’ll give you half a sovereign for that bulldog," he said, bitterly.

"Oh, I say.  But Baker says he’s worth two sovereigns," cried Bob.

"I’ll give you two," said the poet.

And Bob danced on the lawn.



                             *CHAPTER IV.*


If Penelope had had any sense of humour, she would have deprived the
round world of much to laugh at in sad times, when laughter was wanted.
But thanks be to whatever gods there are, some folks have no humour, and
some have a little, and a few much, and thus the world gets on in spite
of the spirit of gravity, which, as may be remembered by students of
philosophy, Nietzsche branded as the enemy.  Pen went ahead, bent on
cutting her own swath in the hay-field, and she cut a big one.  Goby and
the poet must stand as exemplars of her clear and childlike method.  It
was Pen’s Short Way with Her Lovers.  She got Rivaulx, who was
Nationalist and Anti-Semite to his manicured finger-tips, and had been
mixed up in the Dreyfus case, and set him cheek by jowl with Gordon,
alias Isaac Levi.

She made them dine together in public, and the poor marquis, being head
over heels in love with the earnest creature who was so beautiful,
submitted like a lamb.

"Very well, I will," said Rivaulx.  There were almighty shrieks in the
Paris press.  The _Journal_ had an article that was wonderful.  The
affair woke up anti-Semitism again.  Rivaulx had been bought by Jewry;
France was once more betrayed; the bottom of the world was falling out.

Pen, with no sense of humour, had a native capacity for discovering
every one’s real weakness. As the Frenchman would rather have died than
dine as he did, so Gordon would almost prefer to die suddenly than to
run the risk of it.  He had wonderful brains, and was a power in
finance: he could risk a million when he hadn’t it or when he had it as
coolly as most men can risk a penny on the chance of a slot-machine
working.  But physically he was timid.  Rivaulx went ballooning.  He
intended to rival Santos-Dumont.

"You must go with him, Mr. Gordon," said Penelope.  Gordon nearly
fainted, but Pen was firm, as firm as a rock.  Gordon offered to
subscribe to all the hospitals in London if she would let him off.  He
offered to build a small one and endow it; he even suggested that he
would build a church. But the poor man had to go.  It was now thoroughly
understood that any man who refused to do exactly what she told him was
struck off the list.  The comic papers were almost comic about it.  On
the day that Gordon went up with Rivaulx in an entirely non-dirigible
balloon, the Crystal Palace grounds were crowded with all the Frenchmen
and all the Jews in London.  The balloon came down in a turnip-field
fifteen miles from anywhere, and Gordon got back to London and went to
bed. He was consoled by a telegram from Penelope, who congratulated him
on overcoming his natural cowardice, and suggested he should do it
again.

"I’ll give her up first," said Gordon, knowing all the time that he
could no more do it than give up finance.  He went out and robbed a lot
of his friends as a compensation for disturbance, and found himself a
hero.  In about forty-eight hours the sensation of being looked on as a
man of exceptional grit so pleased him that he adored Penelope more than
ever.  He was as proud of having been in a balloon as Rivaulx was of
having dined _tête-à-tête_ with him in the open.

She sent for Rufus Q. Plant, and she introduced him to Lord Bramber.
Plant was a big American with the common delusion among Americans that
he had an entirely English accent.  But he hated aristocrats.  Bramber
had an Oxford accent (Balliol variety), and disliked Americans more than
getting up in the morning.  He was a fine-looking young fellow with a
good skull, who did nothing with it.  He had the tendencies of a citizen
of Sybaris, and got up at noon.  Plant rose at dawn. Bramber loved
horses and hated motor-cars.  Plant had a manufactory of motors.  Pen
sent them away together on a little tour, and hinted delicately to Plant
that his English accent would be improved by a little Oxford polish.

"And as for you, Lord Bramber, when you come back, I hope you will be
more ready to acknowledge that you don’t know everything.  Mr. Plant
will do you good, and will teach you to drive a motor!"

She had never been so beautiful.  She showed at her best when her
interest in humanity made her courageous and brutal.  The colour in her
cheeks was splendid; her eyes were as earnest as the sea.  If Bramber
choked, he submitted, though he blasphemed awfully when he got alone.

"Go at once," said Penelope.

She paired off Carteret Williams with Jimmy Carew, A.R.A.  Williams knew
as much about art as a hog does of harmony.  Jimmy thought the war
correspondent a howling Philistine, as indeed he was, and believed
anything that could not be painted was a mere by-product of the
universe.

"You’ll do each other good," said Pen, clasping her beautiful hands
together with enthusiasm. Jimmy wanted to draw her at once.  Williams
wished for an immediate invasion, so that he could save her life and
write a flamboyant article about it.

"Show him pictures, Mr. Carew, beginning with Turner and Whistler."

"Make him understand that art isn’t everything, Mr. Williams."

She sent them away together, and was wonderfully pleased with herself.

"They are all fine men," she said, thoughtfully, "but it is curious that
every man I know thinks every other man more or less of a fool or an
idiot, or a cad.  They are dreadfully one-sided.  When they come back
they will be much improved.  This is my work in the world, and I don’t
care a bit what people say."

People said lots, though after a bit the fun died down, except among her
own people.  And even they laughed at last.  At least, every one did but
Titania, and she had no more sense of humour than Penelope herself.
Indeed, she had less, for Penelope could understand a joke when it was
explained to her carefully, and Titania couldn’t.  And in after years
Pen came to see the humourous side of things. She even appreciated a
joke against herself, which is the crucial test of humour.  But Titania
died maintaining that life was a serious business, and should be taken
like medicine.

"I never heard of more insane proceedings," said Titania, "never!  The
notion of sending that poor Jew up in a balloon with that mad Frenchman!
Balloons at the best are blasphemous.  And to make Captain Goby read
with poor little De Vere!  I’m sure there will be murder done before
she’s married.  And now it’s an understood thing that she will marry one
of them.  And Brading laughs!  If he is only her half-brother, I
consider him responsible.  And Augustin smiles and smokes and smokes and
smiles.  And Chloe Cadwallader, whom I never approved of and never
shall, backs her up, of course. One of these days I shall tell Chloe
Cadwallader what I think of her!"

"I say, granny, what do you think of her?" asked Bob.

"Never mind," said Titania; "there are things that you know nothing of,
Robert."

"Oh, are there?" said Bob.  "I say, granny, I ain’t sure of that.  I’ve
been expelled from three schools, and Baker says—"

"Oh, bother Baker," cried his exasperated grandmother.  "I think Mr.
Guthrie might keep you away from Baker."

"He can’t," said Bob, cheerfully.  "Old Guth and I have made a treaty.
I do what he tells me between ten and twelve, and what I like afterward.
If we are reading Latin, and the clock strikes twelve, I say, ’Mr.
Guthrie, don’t you think Latin’s rot?’ and he says, ’Oh, is it twelve?
I thought it was only eleven!’  I get on with Guth, I tell you."

And he was very thick with Goby, who had given him the pedigree
bull-pup.  Mr. de Vere now owned the interesting one which had to be fed
with gloves on, and loathed it with an exceeding hatred only exceeded by
his hatred for Goby.

"I say, Pen, you go it," said Bob.  "There’s heaps of fun in this.  They
all tip me now like winking."

But Pen did not see the fun.  It was a serious business.  She looked
after her lovers with the greatest care.  They brought her reports; they
complained of each other.  She smoothed over difficulties, and explained
what they were to do.

"How the devil am I to live on a thousand a year!" said Goby.  But he
tried it and found it quite exciting.  It exercised his self-control
wonderfully.  He went into the War Office once a week and demanded some
kind of job, and was put off with all kinds of regulations.  He sent a
telegram to Penelope the first week, saying that according to his
accounts he had spent no more than £20. She wired congratulations, and
received another wire:


"Have made a mistake.  Forgot to include a few bills.  Will be more
careful in future.

"GOBY."


Plant said:

"What, a thousand a year!  That’s easy.  I can live on thirty shillings
a week.  My dear Lady Penelope, I’ve done it on half a dollar a day.
I’ll show you."

He took one room in Bloomsbury, and sent in his bills and accounts to
her weekly.  She suggested he should find out if his great success in
the United States had ruined any one in particular, and if so that he
should compensate them.  This cost him a hundred thousand dollars.
Almost every other day she got a telegram something like this:

"Have found another person I ruined.  Am cabling five thousand dollars
to widow and orphans. Man is dead."

Or,—

"Another find.  Man said to be a lunatic, but perfectly sane except on
point of Trusts.  Have cabled for his transfer to more comfortable
asylum."

Or,—

"Widow refuses money with insults.  Have settled it on daughter, and
have given son job."

Or,—

"Man in question has given amount cabled to Republicans of New York.
Has recovered and has started a Trust himself."

This was very satisfactory.  Penelope saw she was doing good.  In the
middle of her joy, she received a wire from Goby.


"May I stop poetry with De Vere?  Doctor says I am overdoing it.  GOBY."


She also received one at the same time from De Vere:


"If I could have a week to myself to write satire, should be eternally
grateful.  Doctor says rowing may be carried to excess.  The bulldog is
well.

"DE VERE."


The Marquis de Rivaulx, after a fortnight with Gordon, asked to be
allowed to go over to Paris to see his mother.  But he acknowledged that
Gordon was not a bad chap, though he was as white as a sheet in the
balloon.

"And he told me, my dear lady, what to buy. He knows very well what to
buy and what to sell. He is immensely clevair, oh, yes.  And may I go
and see _maman_?"

She let him go, but not before he promised to take no part in any
further anti-Semitic proceedings.  She told Gordon not to brag so much
of having been in a balloon.

"You know you were afraid," she said.  "The marquis said you were."

"Of course I was," said Gordon, "but I went, didn’t I?"

That was unanswerable.

She had an "at home" once a week.  It was understood that no one but her
own relatives and members of the horde were to call on that day. She
then issued any directions that she thought of during the week.
Bradstock was now openly and recklessly on her side.

"I believe you’re doing good, real good," said Augustin.  "I’m proud of
you.  Don’t mind my laughing, Pen.  Oh, but you are wonderful."

He gave her advice.

"Kick young Bramber into public life," he said. "He’s got brains."

"Lord Bramber," said Pen, "you are to go into Parliament at once.  Speak
to Lord Bradstock about it, and I’ll talk to Mrs. Mytton on your behalf.
I expect you to be an Under-Secretary of State at once."

"Damn!  this is worse than Plant," said the obedient Bramber.
Nevertheless, he owned that Plant was a man, and a real good sort.

"I go to see him, Lady Penelope, in his room in Bloomsbury.  He’s living
on about half a crown a day.  I—oh—yes, I’m coming down to the thousand
by degrees.  And of course if you want me to go into the House, I’ll
go."

Carteret Williams was there, and was put through his paces by Pen about
art.  He had learnt something about it by rote.

"The Academy is composed of painters," he said, mechanically, "but there
are few artists in it. I quite agree with Carew, who had his pictures
chucked before they made him an associate through fear.  Turner is a
very great artist.  He shows how near the sublime can get to the
ridiculous.  Whistler is also great.  He shows how near the ridiculous
can go to the sublime.  Art is a combination of the material and the
spiritual.  So Carew says.  He showed me a lot of Blake, and he says
that the beauty of Blake is that you can’t understand him by any
ordinary means, such as the intellect.  I’m not up to Blake yet.  The
old masters are very fine. I admit it.  Velasquez is dry, but wonderful.
Rembrandt appeals to me because he is very dark; I think he would be
better if he were darker.  We go to the National Gallery every day, and
then I take him to the Press Club, where he hears about real life."

When Carew came, he owned that Williams wasn’t a bad sort.

"And he’s doing his level best to understand," said Carew, with
enthusiasm.  "He stands before a picture of mine every day for an hour
while I explain it.  He sees something in it at last.  And he’s reading
about art, and is beginning to see why a photograph isn’t the last word
of things.  He’s led a wonderful life, Lady Penelope, and when he gets
on what he’s seen and done, I feel almost ashamed to live as I do."

"That’s right," said Pen; "every artist should. And every man who is not
an artist should be sorry that he is not.  We are far from perfect yet."

How beautiful she looked, thought Carew.

"She lives in the world of the ideal, and so do I."

"I am very much pleased with everything," said Pen at large to the
assembly, and De Vere, who was having a holiday for his satire, was
pleased too.  And Goby was delighted at being let off poetry for awhile.

"Not but what there’s something in it, I admit," said Goby, critically.
"Robert Lindsay Gordon is a fair snorter at it.  I can’t say I’m up to
Shelley yet.  De Vere read me the Epi-something-or-other."

"’Epipsychidion,’" said Pen.

"That’s it, a regular water-jump of a word," said Goby, "and he took it
in his stride, while I boggled on the bank.  However, I’m coming up hand
over hand with him.  I’m reading Keats with him.  He’s all right when
you get to know him, Lady Penelope, and rowing’s doing him no end of
good.  He’s a well-made little chap, and getting some good muscle.  If
I’m not dead by the time I can take the Epi-what’s-his-name, I’ll make a
man of him."

Rivaulx, who had come in with Gordon on his return from seeing his
mother in Paris, was very proud of himself.

"A year ago I should not have had the courage to show myself with a
Jew," said Rivaulx, triumphantly.  "Lady, dear lady, I thought I should
have died when I asked him to dinner.  But now I like him.  He is
wonderful.  When he says ’buy,’ I buy, and heigh, presto! the shares go
up like my balloon.  And when he says ’sell,’ I sell, and they go down
like a barometer when you go up. Oh, yes, and all your aristocracy
admire him.  I saw seven great lords with him the other day, and they
said: ’What company am I to be a director of, Gordon?’ and he said he’d
ask his clerk.  But I have refused to be a director.  I should not like
_maman_ to know I know him.  She is very dreadful against Jews, owing to
the _affaire_ in France."

And that was the celebrated afternoon that Penelope, who found that she
was doing good in every way to all mankind by obliterating all class and
professional jealousies, raised passion and curiosity to its highest
point by saying, with the sweetest blush:

"Very well, then, I promise to marry one of you!"



                              *CHAPTER V.*


Penelope was the swan, and all her relations were the ducks.  The noise
they made was simply unendurable.  For, besides Titania, she had cousins
and other aunts, or people who were in the position of aunts, and she
had friends who had been friends of her mother, and they came down on
her like the Assyrian.  They objected to publicity, especially for other
people, and for a young woman to become a public character was something
worse than immorality.  Nothing but Penelope’s entire singleness of
character and her humourous want of humour enabled her to meet and
overcome them. And even she felt at times that flight was the only thing
left.  She sent to her solicitor for a list of all the houses and
mansions and castles that she owned, and she took her motor-car and her
pet chauffeur, and, having borrowed Bob from his grandmother, she set
off on a tour.  She disappeared for a week at a time.  Then she
disappeared for two weeks.  She was even lost for a month.

"She ought to be in an asylum," said Titania, "and I have to let Bob go
with her.  He is some kind of a safeguard.  How do I know she isn’t
married already?  Bob, dear Bob, has ceased to confide in me.  When I
interrogate him, he puts me off.  I get nothing out of him.  The only
thing that I can congratulate myself on is that now, instead of ’Baker
says,’ it is ’Pen says.’  And I doubt, I own I doubt, and I cannot help
it, whether Bob is not being done serious harm to, considering that he
will one day be a duke.  A duke should be brought up properly.  Goring
was brought up badly, I deeply regret to say.  He laughs at Penelope’s
behaviour, and says girls will be girls.  I say they will be women, and
he says, ’Thank the Lord,’ and I don’t know what he means.  But, as I
say, this wretched girl may be married by now.  It is already months
since she said, in my hearing, to a whole crowd of men, ’I promise to
marry one of you!’  Was there ever an aunt in a more unfortunate
position?  I feel as if I should become a lunatic.  Augustin, do you
hear me, I am rapidly becoming insane."

"Oh, ah," said Augustin, who always knew more about Pen’s actions than
any one else.  She wrote to him from a hundred places.

"Keep your eye upon Mr. Gordon," she said. "And what are people saying
about Lord Bramber’s speech?  I shall be up in town in time to see Mr.
Carew’s new picture.  I got a letter from Mr. de Vere, saying that
Captain Goby was learning Wordsworth’s ode on the ’Intimations of
Immortality in Childhood’ by heart.  Mr. de Vere says he is doing what I
told him, and is keeping his eye on Mr. Roosevelt.  I told him to model
himself on the President of the United States.  He says he rows and has
bought a Sandow exerciser, and he says it does not make him so tired
now. Mr. Williams told me when I was last in town that he was thinking
of writing a guide to Dulwich Gallery if war didn’t break out.  I am
afraid he hopes it will.  Mr. Plant’s last weekly accounts were only
10*s*. 6*d*.  I advised him to see a doctor if he thought it was doing
him harm.  The marquis has written a very good article in the _Revue des
Deux Mondes_ against anti-Semitism.  I am greatly pleased with this.  I
hope Mr. Carew’s picture is intelligible. I told him it was no absolute
sign of genius to be entirely incomprehensible.  He took it very well. I
think Mr. Williams will have a good effect on him.  I have visited ten
mansions, seven castles (two with moats; mother used to love moats,
because there are none in America), and several other houses of mine.
Most need repairs.  I shall be home next week.  Tell aunt that Bob is
very well and brown, and is learning to drive my car at full speed down
a narrow road with sharp turns in it. Smith says he will be the best
driver in England when he is grown up, if he goes on and doesn’t have
his nerve broken up early by an accident.  But I think his nerve is
good, though I can’t always tell, as I shut my eyes when we go very
fast. Good-bye now, dear Guardy.

"Your loving
       "PENELOPE.

"P. S. I am sure I am doing good!"


Bob was very sure of it, too.

"I say, Pen, old Guth will be lonely, won’t he? But he’s all right if he
has a bally Catullus in his pocket, and he draws his screw just the
same. Granny is very decent to him, take it all around. And I like him
because he likes dogs.  I must wire to Baker to hear how ’Captain’ is
getting on.  I called him Captain because old Goby gave him to me.  I
say, Pen, don’t you think Smith is a ripping good driver?  He says that
he’ll be my chauffeur when I’m a duke, if you don’t want him.  He says
him and me’ll win every bally race.  I’d like to do that.  I begin to
think horse-racing is rot.  You see three or four people can’t ride a
race-horse, and the responsibility of driving you fast when the road’s
crooked is the fun.  Every time I miss a cart, Pen, I feel as happy as
if I’d hit Rhodes for four every time he sent a ball down to me.  That
would be fun.  Baker says—no, I mean Smith says that all other sports
are rot of the worst kind. He says if he’s ever rich, he’ll go through
the city every day as fast as he can.  He hates the police, and some of
them hate him.  He rode over a sergeant in the Kingston Road once, but
he didn’t hurt him much.  When shall we leave this castle and go to
another one?  I hope the next is a long way off.  Smith says he wants a
good road to show what she’ll do when she’s out to the last notch. And
it must be down-hill."

And in town, while Pen was going about the country, people’s tongues ran
as fast as any motorcar.

"It is nonsense," said one; "she’s married already."

"I know she’s not.  I paid a shilling and looked it up at Somerset
House."

"That’s nothing," said a barrister.  "They could have been married under
wrong names."

"That wouldn’t be legal."

"Yes, it would.  It’s only illegal if a false name is used and one of
the parties doesn’t know.  Then the one who is deceived can get a
declaration of nullity," said the barrister.

"Oh, well, but who is it?"

"It’s no one.  I don’t believe she’ll marry at all."

"She’s a crank."

"It’s madness.  I hear the Duchess of Goring has taken to her bed."

"Well, Goring hasn’t.  I saw him at the Frivolity."

"Who is it now?"

"I don’t know her name.  But where’s Lady Penelope?"

No one knew but Bradstock, and even Augustin was behind by a post or
two.  None of the "horde" knew, and they began to get suspicious of each
other.  Goby watched De Vere, and De Vere kept his eye on Goby.  It was
obvious from the newspapers that Bramber was in the House.  Gordon was
seen at his Club.  And then Carteret Williams was missing.  Carew hunted
for him in vain at the Press Club and at the office of the _Morning
Hour_.  There was no war yet, though there were rumours of it in the
Balkans as usual.

It got about that she had married Williams, though he had only run away
from Carew for a week.

"The very worst of the lot," wailed Titania. "I knew it would be
Williams.  He’s hardly a gentleman, though he comes of a good family.
Being a war correspondent makes a man brutal. I knew, I knew, I knew it
was Williams, and now I shall never speak to her; and he will beat her
in time, I know it, and there will be a horrible scandal; and what, oh,
what can she have done with Bob? Augustin, go at once and find where Bob
is.  I knew it would be Williams!  Didn’t I always say it would be
Williams?  I could have forgiven her any one else."

Gordon came to ask Bradstock if it was true. And Bradstock had a sense
of humour, if Pen had none.

"My dear sir," he said, "how can I tell?  She liked him very much, took
a great interest in him. She told me he was writing a guide to the art
of Dulwich Gallery.  Do you think that a bad sign?"

Gordon groaned.

"It looks bad, Lord Bradstock.  But I don’t believe she takes much
interest in him.  She takes an interest in me, my lord!  Why, I went up
in a balloon all on her account.  I went with that madman, the French
marquis, and as sure as my name’s Le—  I mean Gordon, there’s not
another woman in the world I’d have done it for.  Don’t you think that
going up in a balloon, when you’d rather die than do it, ought to touch
a woman’s heart?  I give you my word that she as good as said, ’Go up in
a balloon and I’ll—’ well, or words to that effect.  I tell you what,
Lord Bradstock, I know you ain’t a rich man, not a very rich one, that
is, but, if you’ll be on my side, I’ll put you on to a good thing, the
best thing in the market.  It’s going up like—oh, like a beastly
balloon, sir,—my lord, I mean.  I’m making it go up, and I’ll tell you
when to sell.  Oh, Lord, I’m very unhappy, my lord.  I love the ground
she walks on.  I’d like to buy it at the price of a city frontage.  Come
in with me, my lord, and you shall have a tip that half a dozen dukes
are dying for.  There’s a room full of bally dukes waiting to see me
now, and I gave them the slip.  Will you come in with me?  Do, do!"

He was a lamentable object, and there was a spot upon his hat which did
not shine.  He worked at it eagerly with his sleeve, and stood waiting
for a reply.

"I don’t mind telling you," said Bradstock, "that my income is only five
thousand a year."

"Poor beggar!" murmured Gordon.

"But I only spend four.  And if I had more what could I do with it?"

"Give it me," said Gordon, eagerly, "and I’ll make more of it for you.
Man alive,—my lord, I mean—I can make it millions."

There was a faint suspicion of the "millionth" in the word.

"I can make it millionth," said Gordon.  "I’ve put a pound or two into
that Frenchman’s pocket, I can tell you, though he did take me up in a
balloon, and I’ll put fifty for one into yourth, so help me."

"I don’t want it."

"Well, you can give it away," shrieked Gordon. "They’ll make you a duke
if you only give away enough.  If there wathn’t a faint thuspithion of
Jewish blood in me, I’d be a baron now at leathth. Give it away to
hospithalths, build a lunatic asylum, finanth your party.  And if that
don’t thucktheed, go into beer or biscuits, and you’ll be made anything
you like."

"If they would make me thirty, I’d do it," said Bradstock.

"Thirty dukes?" asked Gordon, in bewilderment.

"Thirty years old," said Bradstock.

[Illustration: LEOPOLD NORFOLK GORDON. Some said his real name was Isaac
Levi]

Gordon advanced on him and took him by a button.

"My lord," he said, solemnly, "money ith youth and strength and
everything except Lady Penelope. If you had a million, you’d feel
twenty-five.  When I had a measly hundred thousand, I was thin and
always going to doctors.  When I got two, I got fatter and gave ’em up.
Now I’m worth two millionth."

But Bradstock said, brutally: "No, Mr. Gordon, I don’t want money, and I
don’t want you to marry Lady Penelope.  If I had a million, I’d rather
lose it than see her do so."

"Did you tell her that?" asked Gordon.

"I did."

"I’m damned glad," said Gordon.  "If you want a cat to go one way, pull
its tail the other."

"Tut, tut," said Bradstock, and Gordon went away sorrowfully, for he had
great riches, and saw no good in them without Pen.

Bradstock had to interview all the lovers one after one.  They came to
implore his vote and interest.  He saw Rivaulx, whose great desire was
to look like an Englishman and act like one. Rivaulx adopted a stony
calm, which sat upon him like a title on a Jew, but did not stick so
tight. He ended a talk which began most conventionally in a wild and
impassioned waltz around Bradstock’s room, with despair for a partner.
He tore at his hair, but, having had it clipped till it was like a
shaved blacking-brush, he could not get hold of it.

"I must wed her," he howled.  "I told _maman_ so, or I shall perish.  I
will become an Englishman. _Mon Dieu_, I am sad.  I am fearfully
mournful.  I weep exceedingly.  Have I not done all?  I have eaten
largely in public with Mr. Gordon.  I have bought his shares and have
sold them, but in my heart I cannot.  When I return to Paris, I shall
fight duels because I have written for Dreyfus with tears in my eye and
my tongue in my cheek for sorrow.  Where is she, Lord Bradstock?  Tell
me where she is?  I will go to her and say I have done all and can no
more!"

De Vere tackled him, too.

"My dear chap," said Bradstock, "I don’t know her mind."

"She knows her own," said De Vere, with much bitterness, "and so does
that boy Bob.  I bought a bulldog of him, because she said she thought
one would do me good.  I don’t know why, and now Bob sells me dogs by
telegram, and I daren’t refuse ’em."

"Great Scott!" said his host; "but why?"

"That young ruffian has an influence over her," mourned the poet.  "He
is always with her.  He is capable of saying I am a ’rotter’; yes, a
rotter, a dozen times a day if I refuse, and to have him doing that
would be more than I can endure.  I want her to love me, and so I buy
his dogs.  I have a bulldog which hasn’t done me any good.  All he has
done is to tear my trousers and trample over my flower-beds.  I have an
Irish terrier who is now being cured of bulldog bites by a veterinary
surgeon.  I’ve a retriever who howls at night and makes the bulldog
unhappy.  I have a Borzois with bronchitis and no hair on his tail.  Bob
wrote to say the hair would grow if I put hair-wash on it myself.  He
said men couldn’t be trusted to do it. And then I’ve Goby on my hands.
I speak in confidence, Lord Bradstock."

"Of course," said Bradstock.

"Then I own I loathe Goby," said De Vere, viciously.  "He has less
brains than my bulldog, and I think the bulldog has less brains than the
retriever.  He reads poetry because she said he was to, and he makes me
explain mine to him.  Explain it!  And he makes me row every day he’s
with me, and he says I’m not imitating Roosevelt if I don’t. She said I
was to imitate Roosevelt.  Why should I?  I loathe Republicans.  She
also told me I was to imitate Sven Hedin.  On inquiry I found Sven Hedin
was an ass who explored deserts, and went without water for many days.
Goby can do that, as my wine-cellar can testify.  He says he only tastes
water when he cleans his teeth, and then it makes him sick.  And, though
I keep wine for my friends, I am a water-drinker.  How can I do without
it?  I am very unhappy."

"I should chuck Goby and give it up," said Bradstock.

"I wish I could," said the poet, "but my nature is an enduring one.  We
learn in suffering Gobies and bulldogs what we teach in song.  A dog may
be the friend of man, but a bulldog is a tailor’s enemy.  And I believe
they gave Goby the V.C. to get rid of him.  Do they ever give
decorations to get rid of people?"

Bradstock said he thought so, and wondered what he could give De Vere.

And then the poet sighed and rose.

"I have to meet Goby and lunch with him.  And afterward we read Shelley
together, and then he will teach me billiards at his club.  I loathe
billiards. It is the most foolish game on earth except keeping bulldogs.
And Goby’s friends are not sympathetic. They are sportsmen, and ought to
be hunted with bulldogs."

He went away sadly, and Bradstock lay on a sofa and laughed till he
cried.

"Pen will be my death and the death of a dozen," he said.  "And as for
Bob—"

No sooner had De Vere departed than young Bramber was announced.

"Conceited young ass," said Bradstock.  But Bramber was in the House,
and was supposed to be doing very well.  He had brains, no doubt, and
the manner of Oxford (Balliol variety, as aforesaid) sat on him well.
He made speeches, and Mr. Mytton congratulated him on one of them.
Nothing but his passion for Penelope prevented him being as conceited as
Bradstock supposed him to be.  But it must be remembered that Bradstock
couldn’t make speeches.

"I thought I’d come and look you up," said Bramber.  "I thought you
could tell me something about Lady Penelope."

"I can’t," replied Bradstock.  "I spend all my afternoons in saying so.
I’ve had Rivaulx and Austin de Vere and Gordon here already, and after
you go I don’t doubt that Goby or Plant will turn up.  How do you get on
with Plant?  Do you know, Bramber, I believe Plant is the best man of
the lot of you."

Bramber frowned.

"He has an accent that can be cut into slabs, to use his own dialect,"
said Bramber.

"Your own accent is equally disagreeable to an American," said
Bradstock, who had been in the United States several times.

"I have no accent," said Bramber, haughtily.

"Oh," returned Bradstock.  "And how do you get along with Plant?"

Bramber was obviously more jealous of Plant than any one.  But he made a
tremendous effort to be fair.

"He’s a very able man," he said at last, "but there’s no man I should
find it so hard to get on with.  He says just what he thinks in the most
awful way.  And because Lady Penelope said he was not to spend more than
twenty-five pounds a week, he is living on ten shillings out of bravado.
I hate bravado.  He made me dine with him in Soho, and our dinners came
to elevenpence each. Where is Lady Penelope?"

"I don’t know," said Bradstock.

"I didn’t see Plant yesterday," said Bramber, uneasily.

"The devil!"

"You don’t think?"

"I don’t know what to think," said Bradstock, wickedly.  "I hear that
Jimmy Carew hasn’t been seen for days, either."

Bramber fidgeted on his chair.

"She _can’t_ marry Carew.  He’s a thorough outsider."

"Women don’t understand the word, my dear chap.  How are you getting on
in the House?  And have you been motoring with Plant?"

"Yes," said Bramber; "we killed three fowls and a dog yesterday.  And
Plant was fined ten pounds a week ago.  He said he would wire to Lady
Penelope to know if that was business expenses.  I believe he wants to
break my neck."

"I shouldn’t be surprised," said Bradstock. "Has he gone out alone
to-day, do you think?  I suppose you know Penelope is doing a lot of it
now?"

"The devil she is!" said Bramber.  "I think I’ll go and look up Plant."

Bradstock got some amusement out of the situation, if Titania didn’t.



                             *CHAPTER VI.*


Penelope came back to town about a week later and saw every one.

"I wonder whom I love," said Pen, "for I’m sure I love some one.  And
they are all so kind and sweet and good.  I’m sorry I shall have to hurt
so many of them, for the poor dears all adore me."

It was marvellous how they had developed in a short time under Pen’s
system, which was evidently sound, as Bradstock declared.  Plant, under
his ten-and-sixpence-a-week scheme, had lost a stone weight, and was as
hard and fine as a coil of wire. His search after the people he had
ruined gave him a peace of mind to which he had long been a stranger,
for American millionaires in business have no peace of mind.

"I feel good," said Plant, meaning it both ways, "and my endurance of
young Bramber has stiffened my moral fibre."

"Whether I marry you or not, Mr. Plant," said Penelope, "I am awfully
pleased with you.  And how has Lord Bramber behaved?"

"He’s been death on what he called my accent," said Plant, a little
bitterly, "and it is notorious I’ve none to speak of; and, for that
matter, his own you could cut with a knife.  However, I think he’s a
good boy, and will discover he has brains.  I’ve talked to him straight,
Lady Penelope.  I told him you meant me to.  I said he might be a lord
and the son of an earl, but that he was a lazy, loafing scallawag, and
that, if he’d been my son, I’d have cowhided him.  That did him good; it
made him sit up, I tell you.  Oh, he fairly fizzled and felt like going
for me, but he knew better.  He has brains, and I’ve talked with members
of your legislature who say he’ll do well.  Put this down to me, Lady
Penelope.  Credit me with this.  I’ve looked after him like a baby, and
I’ve hustled him around in my motor till he can’t help going when he’s
out of it.  You and me together, my dear young lady, could educate the
entire universe.  If you’ll only marry me, I’ll start a university on
these lines of yours."

The idea was a pleasing one, but of course Pen pointed out to him that
it was his duty to do it whether she married him or not.

"Duty is duty," said Pen.  "I’m doing all this out of a sense of duty."

"Don’t marry out of a sense of it," retorted Plant.  "I just want to be
loved.  I’m going around feeling I want to be loved.  I’ve never been
loved properly all my life, and I begin to hanker after it wildly.  And,
if you do marry me, Lady Penelope, I want you to understand right here
and now that I don’t want you to do your duty by me.  If you begin to do
that, I’ll take a Colt’s forty-five and scatter my brains out.  I want
love, that’s what I want.  I want it straight, without water in it."

"I see what you mean," said Penelope.  "I think you are a very
noble-hearted man, Mr. Plant."

And away went poor Plant to draw up a scheme for a university.

"I think I could almost love him," said the pensive Penelope.  "I
could—almost—"

Her contemplations were interrupted by Captain Goby.  He was a little
paler than usual, and perhaps a trifle more intelligent.  And he was
more in love than ever.

"I’ve done everything you told me," he said, as he sat down and eyed her
wistfully.  "I’ve gone into poetry like a bull at a hedge, Lady
Penelope. I begin to see what it means.  Old Austin (poor old josser)
has taken the deuce’s own pains over me.  He’s read ’The Lady of the
Garden’ to me seventeen times.  He wrote it ten years ago.  He says he
wonders how he did it, and so do I.  I’ve been trying to write poetry to
you, do you know. That showed me there must be some special gift in it,
for I never did anything worth the horrid trouble. And I’ve been
worrying the War Office like a bulldog.  They say they’ll think of me,
and haven’t gone any further, and talking of bulldogs, Bob’s bulldog bit
Austin de Vere, and he swore like a man.  I was surprised.  But if I
were you, I’d tell Bob to stop sending him more dogs.  He’s very kind to
them, but they worry him.  Bob’s prices are very high, too.  How is Bob?
Oh, by the way, I’m living on ten pounds a week.  Need I reckon tailor’s
bills in, do you think?  Oh, yes, this bulge is the Golden Treasury.  I
take it out and read a lyric between meals.  The chaps at the Rag chaff
me like blazes, but I don’t mind so long as I improve.  I want to
improve so as to be worthy of your intellect, Lady Penelope."

"The poor dear," said Pen, when he was gone, "I think I could almost
love him!"

As luck would have it, Bob and Austin de Vere came in almost at the same
minute.  For now Titania couldn’t keep Bob away.  For the matter of
that, she did not want to.  Bob was to be Penelope’s safeguard.  He was
much better than Chloe Cadwallader, said Titania.

However, De Vere came in first.  He held Penelope’s hand no longer than
a poet should, as poets naturally hold girls’ hands rather longer than
other people.

"You are looking really well, Mr. de Vere," said Penelope, when she was
free.

"I am well," said the poet, "exceedingly well in a way.  My dear lady of
the beautiful garden, I owe all that to you.  At first I was afraid of
Captain Goby.  I told Lord Bradstock so the other day.  I’m afraid I
left him under a false impression as to my feelings to Goby, by the way.
I’m quite proud of Goby.  He says I am really a powerful man, and he
made me row till I was worn out. And then he insisted that I should use
Sandow’s exerciser.  I own I did it with reluctance.  I pointed out to
Goby that I did not wish to look like Mr. Sandow.  Goby always stopped
by the posters in which Mr. Sandow is lifting ten tons or so, and
pointed out certain muscles to me as ideals.  I was recalcitrant, for,
although I admire Mr. Sandow immensely, I think muscle can be overdone.
However, I used the machine, which is ingenious and elastic, and only
dangerous if the hook comes out of the wall, and I’ve found I rather
like it.  I should miss it now.  I think it imparts a certain vigour to
verse, if not overdone.  Oh—"

For in came Bob.  He rushed at Pen and kissed her hair, and then bounced
at the poet.

"I say is it true the bulldog bit you?  I saw Goby yesterday in the
park, and he said so," asked Bob, in great excitement.

"It is true," said the poet.

Penelope shook her head at the late owner of the dog.

"Oh, Bob!  Mr. de Vere, I’m very sorry."

"So was I," said De Vere.

"Where did he bite you?" asked Bob, anxiously. "Was it the arm or the
leg?  And did he hang on like a proper bulldog?  Baker says that if a
bulldog once gets hold, you have to use a red-hot poker to make him let
go.  Did you use a red-hot poker?"

"He only snapped and fetched blood," said De Vere.

"Ah!" cried Bob, "I always thought he wasn’t a real good bulldog."

"At any rate, he bit the Irish terrier," said the poet.  "I mean the one
you sold to me for three pounds."

"I’m glad he did, sir.  That Irish terrier, though he’s splendidly bred,
Baker says, has an awful temper and is very troublesome.  Does Rollo,
the retriever, howl much at night, sir?"

"Oh, not so very much," said De Vere.  "It’s only when the moon is near
the full that he does his best."

"I never thought of that," said Bob, "but now I remember that it was
very moony when I sent him over to you.  Baker said you’d like him.  His
kennel is next to Baker’s house."

"I’m much obliged to Baker," said De Vere. "But the tail of the Borzois
is still bald, Bob."

Bob opened his eyes wide.

"Oh, dear, I thought you would have cured him by now; and how about his
bronchitis?"

"That’s better, I hope and trust," said the poet. And Penelope, who was
very greatly touched by his kindness to all these dogs, sent Bob into
the library.

"It’s so good of you to be kind to Bob," she said.  "Bob’s a dear, and
he adores me.  He says that he’s going to live with me always, even when
I’m married."

[Illustration: AUSTIN DE VERE. He wrote poetry, and abhorred bulldogs
and motor-cars]

"Oh!" gasped De Vere.  "We were talking about Goby, I think, when dear
Bob came in.  You’ll find him much improved, I’m sure, my dear Lady
Penelope.  He has read a great deal of Shelley and Keats and Browning
with me.  He was especially struck with ’Sordello.’  I read it to him
and he sat with his hand to his forehead taking it all in.  And every
now and again he said, ’Great Scott!’ which is his way of expressing
wonderment and admiration.  I do not know its origin.  I’ve written to
Doctor Murray to ask him if he knows. And Goby, oh, yes, you’ll find him
improved.  I’ve done my best with him, and I’ve really struggled hard.
Any improvement you notice is, I really believe, under you and
Providence, due to me."

And when he went, Penelope sat thinking.

"The poor dear, how nicely he took the bulldog bites and the howling of
the retriever.  I think—I think I could almost love him!"

And that afternoon and evening she saw Bramber and Carteret Williams and
Jimmy Carew and Gordon, and they were all most marvellously improved.
Bramber was alert and bright, and began to show that he had some
ambition in him, and, if he did not tell Penelope his exact mind about
Plant, he did show some little appreciation of the American’s qualities.

"Associating with him has done you good," said Pen.  "I see it has.  You
lived far too much for yourself, Lord Bramber.  I cannot endure
selfishness."

"I’m not selfish any more, I think," said Bramber. "I rather like Plant.
He seems a man, take him all around.  He is abrupt, perhaps, and brutal.
I own I’ve found him trying, and he says things one finds it hard to
forgive."

"Yes, he told me," said Pen, delightedly.  "Oh, he told me he said you
ought to be beaten severely, and he said you took it very nicely.  Did
you?"

Bramber bit his lip.

"I did."

"That’s right," said Pen.  "Oh, I’m improving you all so much.  You’ve
no idea how much improved you are.  Mr. Mytton said he’d make something
out of you, Lord Bramber."

"Did he really?"

"Oh, yes.  He said he made fair successes out of very much worse
material.

"He’s quite a dear," she sighed, when he was gone, but, before she could
add that she might almost love him, Carew and Williams came in together.
And before she could greet them, Gordon came, too.  Williams eyed him
with strange ferocity, for he was by nature a hater of Hebrews, and
wanted to dust the floor with him.  Pen, who was as quick as lightning,
caught his glances and said to him, sweetly:

"I think you would get on nicely with Mr. Gordon."

And Williams blenched visibly.

"Oh, I couldn’t leave Carew," he said.  "I’m deep in art, very deep; I
adore it.  Carew has introduced me to several Academicians, and I have
bought a box of paints.  One Academician took me home with him and
showed me his pictures. He doesn’t agree with Jimmy altogether, and he
says Jimmy will alter his opinions presently.  His idea is that when a
man is an A.R.A., he is only beginning, you see.  He also explained to
me the attitude of the R.A. with regard to the Chantrey Bequest.  He
says that if they found a good picture not by an Academician, they would
buy it, which is interesting, isn’t it?  He was painting a picture
called ’War,’ and wanted my opinion.  I said I’d ask Jimmy, because I
didn’t know anything about war except what I’d seen.  I don’t know why
he was chuffy about it.  I find artists get chuffy and huffy very quick,
and I don’t know what for. Do you think there will be war soon?"

Penelope didn’t know, and said she wanted eternal peace and happiness
for every one, and meant having it if it could be got by any legitimate
influence.

"War is horrible!"

"It is," said Carew, who joined in just here, after getting away from
Gordon, who told him to buy Hittites at 3-1/8.  "War is horrid.
Williams is always talking of it."

"I’m not," said Williams, angrily.  "I want peace, eternal peace and
happiness for every one."

"Ah, so do I," put in Gordon.  "My idea is to have a peaceful life, far
from the roar of London, in a deep green vale, where I shall hear no one
talking of shares, and where mines are unknown, and there are no Chinese
or crushing reports.  Why is it that most reports from mines are
crushing? I wish I knew."

"Ah, how sweet it would all be," said beautiful Penelope.  "You could
keep cows, Mr. Gordon."

"I adore them," said Gordon.  "There is a breed without horns, isn’t
there?"

"They look incomplete," said Jimmy.

"What are you painting now?" asked Pen.

"I’m not really painting, I’m modelling in clay, as you told me," said
the obsequious lover.  "Don’t you remember saying I was to model in
clay?  I’m doing Williams in clay.  He looks very well in it. I’m also
doing a bull going at a gate.  When I get tired of Williams, I do the
bull, and when I’m fatigued by the bull I go back to Williams."

"And are they like?" asked Penelope.

"Oh, exactly," replied Carew.

And the interesting conversation was interrupted by Chloe and Ethel.
But Penelope said to herself that they were all dears.

"Mr. Williams is greatly improved," she murmured happily.  "And Mr.
Carew looks more healthy and less engrossed in himself.  I was awfully
glad to hear Mr. Gordon speak like that about a peaceful life."

And Williams slipped Carew on the door-step and went to his club.  He
roared of war till two o’clock in the morning, and then got three
out-of-work war correspondents in the corner and told them the great
story of his love.  But Jimmy went down to Chelsea, and damned modelling
in clay to other impressionist painters, and had a real good time.  As
for Gordon of the "deep green vale," he went home and found a clerk
waiting with a bundle of cables from all quarters of the mining globe.
He sent a wire to Bramber to be let off an engagement to hear a debate
on drains.

On the whole, every one was tolerably happy, if we do not include
Titania and the retriever who howled at nights.



                             *CHAPTER VII.*


It is possible that Penelope never enjoyed herself so much as she did at
this period.  She was so busy that she had no time to worry; her team
took all her time.  She was young, she was beautiful, she was adored,
she was popular, she was even notorious.  A dozen reporters dogged her
footsteps, and when they lost her they followed her lovers.  They
haunted her door-step armed with kodaks; they invented paragraphs; they
hunted her men and her maids.  They made love to the girls, and seduced
the men into neighbouring bars.  One newspaper man, who belonged to the
_Mayfair Daily_, got into her establishment as a footman, and was
discovered by the butler drawing Penelope at dinner when he should have
been drawing corks.  A search in his clothes revealed some pencils and a
note-book and another book of drawings.  They were of such a character
that the reporter was put outside into the street.  The butler could
have forgiven the sketch of his mistress: there was one of himself that
no man could forgive.

The great desire of all these men was to spot the winner.  Penelope’s
maid, Harriet Weekes, who was more or less engaged to Timothy Bunting,
the groom (a sad _mésalliance_, by the way), found it impossible to go
out without being accosted respectfully by a new admirer, who tried to
lead the conversation around to her mistress.

"If you please, my lady, another of them spoke to me to-day.  I hope, my
lady, you don’t think it my fault," said Weekes.

"What do they say?" asked Penelope, curiously. She took great interest
in the manners and customs of other classes, perhaps with a view of
altering them when she got time.

"Oh, my lady, they always say the same thing. I think men are very much
the same all over the world.  They say ’It’s a fine day,’ even if it’s
raining, and of course it is, and they say they want to walk a little
way with me (begging your pardon), and that I am very beautiful, and
that they have long loved me, if you please, my lady, and have been
trying to speak about it for years.  And I tell ’em I don’t want ’em,
and I don’t, to be sure, though one (he’s on the _Piccadilly Circus
Gazette_) is a very handsome man with a heagle’s glance, dressed in gray
tweeds.  And they won’t be put off, I assure you, my lady.  Men on
newspapers are hextremely persevering with a fine flow of language.  And
if, being persuaded to take a little walk, for they are difficult to put
off by trade, I do take one, they begin to ask, begging your pardon, I’m
sure, my lady, if I am your sister, and I’m sure I’m as like you as a
butterfly is to a beetle, as Mr. Bunting says, though he adores the
ground I walk on, if he’s to be believed, which I’m not sure of yet, and
the butler is very angry with me about the whole affair.  And one, who
said he was the editor of the _Times_, which I don’t believe in the
least, because it doesn’t seem likely, does it, my lady, that the editor
of the _Times_ would do such things himself? said he wanted to marry me
and put me on the staff as his lovely bride.  I must say he spoke most
beautifully, and he said he knew Captain Goby, and also Mr. Gordon, and
he said they were getting thin he thought.  And another, quite the
gentleman, though by his trousers poor and careful, said he owned most
of the _Daily Telegraph_. And I couldn’t help looking at his clothes.
He was very quick, and said that was owing to the competition of the
half-penny papers.  Would I save the _Daily Telegraph_ from himpending
ruin by telling him which it would be, he said.  And I said flatly that
I wouldn’t.  I never saw such wicked impudence.  Oh, yes, my lady, your
hair’s done now, and it’s as lovely as a dream."

And, as Miss Weekes finished, she wondered, quite as much as any of the
newspaper men, who it was to be.

"It’s my belief," she said to Timothy, a little later, "that my lady is
beginning to incline to one of ’em.  I’ve noticed she’s quieter like and
more gentle.  And there’s a soft sadness in her eye and a colour that
comes and goes."

"There ain’t one of the biling worthy of her," said Timothy, bitterly.
"But there, Miss Weekes, there ain’t no man worthy of a real beautiful,
good lidy.  A fair wonder how I dares to hope that some day far off,
when motor-cars has killed every ’orse, you’ll be Mrs. Bunting."

"It’s a great come down, Tim," said Harriet. "Mr. Gubbles says he
wonders, too."

"If he wasn’t the butler, and old, I’d plug ’im," said Timothy, crossly.
"It’s all right for me to wonder, but he ain’t in it."

"Ah, but class distinctions is hard to get over, Mr. Bunting," said
Harriet.  "You must pardon a butler’s feelings.  Even Mr. Gubbles has
his feelings.  And he agrees with you that there’s no one but a duke
ought to marry our dear lady.  And she demeaning herself (if I dare say
so) with Academicians and war correspondencies and Jew men; not but what
Mr. Gordon is very gentlemanly and generous.  Only yesterday, Mr.
Bunting, he says to me when he met me outside, ’Do you read?’  And I
says, ’Yes, sir,’ being some flustered, and he says, ’You read that.’
And it was a five-pound note.  And he adds something about ’your vote
and hinfluence.’  But I can’t do it, Mr. Bunting, I can’t. If it was
Captain Goby, I might, and if it was young Lord Bramber I might more so,
and even if it was Mr. de Vere, with a duke remote in his family, but
for a Jewish man I can’t.  So I said, ’Thank you, sir,’ and he went off.
But some one is beginnin’ to rise up in my lady’s mind, I saw it plainly
when I was dressing her.  It would be worth more than five pounds to
know who is risin’."

"Yes," said Timothy.  "’Ow much would it run to, do you think?"

"I believe it would be worth a public ’ouse."

"Beer and spirits?" asked Timothy, eagerly.

"And a corner ’ouse at that," replied Harriet, nodding her head.

"Oh, ’Arriet," said Timothy, with a gasp, "you fairly dazzle me."

The newspaper men had dazzled Harriet.

But indeed what she said seemed true to her. And it seemed true to Lord
Bradstock, who had, like the man of the _Circus Gazette_, an eagle’s
glance.

"She has been playing fair," said Bradstock, "but one of them is drawing
ahead, Titania."

"Good heavens, who is he, and how do you know?" asked Titania.

"It’s intuition," said Bradstock, "intuition combined with, or founded
on, a little observation. She’s different, Titania.  She takes no
interest in the London County Council."

"You don’t say so!" cried the duchess, in alarm.

Bradstock nodded.

"It’s a fact.  I asked her if she had read the last debate, and she
hadn’t, and when I mentioned the Deceased Wife’s Sister she yawned."

"That looks bad," said Titania, "for only a week ago she raved about
her, and Goring said he’d vote for her if she insisted on it.  And she
did insist, and tears came in her eyes about the poor thing."

"Well, I told you so," said Bradstock, "and I do hope it isn’t Williams.
I’m afraid of Williams. He’s capable of knocking her down and carrying
her off on his shoulder.  Do you remember with what joy she read us the
account of the savage tribe somewhere (was it the east of London?) where
they do that?"

"It made me shiver with apprehension," said Titania.  "Oh, if she was
only married safely to a good duke, one not like Goring!  Is there a
good duke, Augustin?"

"Several, so I’m informed," replied Bradstock, "and there are quite a
number of good earls, some quite admirable.  But I wish you’d get hold
of Chloe Cadwallader, and find out something."

Titania bristled like a porcupine.

"There is no need to find out anything about Mrs. Cadwallader," she
said.  "If Penelope wasn’t too dangerously innocent to be single, she
would not have anything to do with her."

"I’m sure the poor woman was only silly," said Bradstock.  "Haven’t we
all been silly in our time, Titania?  Didn’t I marry twice?  And you
married once."

"I’ll speak to her," said the duchess, hastily. "If we can only find out
who it is, we can, I’m sure, prevent her doing as she says and making a
secret marriage of it.  The scandal would be horrid.  Oh, Augustin,
suppose she did it, and had a large family suddenly.  I should die of
it."

"Good heavens," said Bradstock, "you alarm me, Titania, you are so
gloomy.  She would surely acknowledge her marriage then?"

Titania threw up her hands.

"Augustin, I’m sure of nothing with Penelope. I cannot answer for her.
She will bring my gray hairs with sorrow—"

"To cremation," said Bradstock.  "She has invested money in a
crematorium."

"I thought it was dairy-farming," cried Titania. "Oh, but think,
Augustin, of the horror of the situation as it might be!  What would her
Royal Highness say to me?  Imagine her marrying and keeping it dark, and
having, as I say, a large family suddenly without a husband producible
on the moment to answer natural inquiries!  Imagine her saying _then_
that her marriage was her own business, and her certificate of marriage
firmly withheld by a young and obstinate mother in a safe!  She has a
safe.  She has a safe, Augustin, with many keys. I wish I could get at
it, and find things out that are in it.  I wish I knew a burglar, a good
honest and reliable burglar, married and trustworthy, that I could send
in to break it open.  Most girls have a desk with an ordinary key, easy
to open, but Penelope has a Lord Milner’s safe with patent things to
keep it shut.  It’s not natural, it’s wicked. Oh, I did hope, when I
found out what the duke was like and what his ways were, that I knew the
extent of my troubles, but there is no end to them, and Penelope begins
where Goring leaves off."

"Is it as bad as that?" asked Bradstock.

"And then there’s Bob—"

"By Jove," said Augustin, "I believe Bob’s the key to the safe!
Titania, he’s more likely to find something out than any one."

Titania nodded solemnly.

"Augustin, you are right.  I’ll speak to Bob."

"Let me do it."

"No, no, Augustin.  He is very quick and suspicious, and he loves her,
he adores her.  This requires a feminine intelligence.  I will work upon
him quietly."

And she went away to work upon Bob quietly.



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*


Now Titania believed that she was very smart and very clever, and that
she would do things subtly and do them better than Bradstock or a
barrister, even if he was a K.C.  And as it is the most invariably weak
point in people that they think young people fools, or at any rate
easily hoodwinked, she really believed that Bob, her dearly beloved
young scoundrel of a grandson, would be as easy to work on as butter.
And yet she had the sense to see that Bob adored Penelope.

"I am very greatly troubled about Penelope, Bob," she said to him, as
soon as she got him alone.

"Don’t you worry about Pen, granny," replied Bob, cheerfully, "she can
take care of herself. Why, she can drive a motor-car now up to about
thirty miles an hour, and Geordie Smith says she’s all there.  And so
does old Guth.  He had long talks with her, and he says she has brains.
I tell you old Guth knows ’em when he sees ’em."

Titania nodded.

"Oh, I know she is clever, dear, but her ideas are so extraordinary."

"Ain’t they?" said Bob.  "I do wonder which of ’em she’ll marry, don’t
you?"

"Indeed I do," replied his grandmother.  "Have you any idea, Bob, which
she likes best?"

Bob shook his head.

"Not me.  I wish it was Goby; old Goby is a ripping good sort.  He knows
what’s what, does old Goby."

Goby tipped him freely and frequently, and Bob sold him a spavined pony,
aged fifteen years.

"He’s a bit of a fool, of course," said Bob, thoughtfully.  "Do you
know, granny, he isn’t the judge of horses you’d think he is?"

"Does Penelope ever confide in you, Bob?" asked Titania.

There was a touch of anxiety in her voice that the boy felt at once.  He
put his head on one side and looked at her out of the corner of his eye.
He didn’t answer the question.

"I say, granny, don’t you think I can have a bigger allowance now?  I
find mine much too little.  If I had ten shillings a week more, I could
get on for a bit."

"You shall have it," said Titania.  "Does she ever confide in you, Bob?"

"Some," said Bob, carelessly.

"Which do you think she likes best?" asked Titania.

"I don’t know," said Bob, "but I dare say I could find out.  I say,
should you be very angry if it was Gordon?"

Titania uttered a little scream.

"Great heavens, Bob, I should die of it!"

Bob sat down and looked at her.

"He’s not bad, granny, not half mean, oh, no, not at all!"

He had given Bob as much as he gave Miss Harriet Weekes about three days
before.

"I rather like him," said Bob.  "Pen thinks he’s much improved since she
put him in harness with the Frenchy.  It touched her his going up in a
balloon.  I say, may I go up in a balloon?  Rivaulx said I might."

"No!" screamed his grandmother.  "Oh, Bob, you wouldn’t?"

"I won’t if you don’t want me to," sighed Bob, "but it’s a horrid
disappointment.  He says going up in one is jolly, and London underneath
is ripping.  If I don’t, will you ask grandfather to give me another
hunter?"

"Yes, of course," said poor Titania; "but what do you think about
Penelope?  Could you find out anything, Bob, if I let you go and stay
with her?"

Bob’s eyes gleamed.

"Rather," he said, "of course.  But I needn’t worry about old Guth if I
do?  I’ve been working very hard, and I think a holiday would do him
good, too.  I’m very much overworked.  Do I look tired, granny?  I
always feel tired now in my head. Guth says a breakdown from overwork is
much worse than most fatal diseases."

"You shall go to Penelope if she’ll have you," said his anxious
grandmother.  "Do you have headaches, Bob?"

"Not headaches," said Bob, "I shouldn’t call ’em headaches exactly.
They’re pains, and old Guth says he had ’em when he was at Oxford. They
get worse, he says, and then the breakdown comes, and you have to take a
very long rest.  I’ll go on working if you like, though."

He sighed.

"You shall go to your cousin’s," said Titania, "and my dear, dear Bob,
keep your eye on Penelope and tell me all you discover.  Her ideas are
very strange, you know, and we are all so anxious about her future."

"So am I," said Bob.  "If she married the wrong one I shall be out of
it.  I couldn’t get on well with old De Vere, and if she married him I’m
quite convinced he wouldn’t buy any more dogs.  I want her to marry Goby
or Bramber. But I think Bramber is rather mean in some ways, and very
thoughtless of others.  I told him I wanted some salmon fishing at his
father’s place in Scotland, and he’s said nothing about it since."

"I shouldn’t mind Lord Bramber so much," said Titania.  "But I’m afraid
it won’t be Bramber."

"Cheer up," said her grandson.  "I’ll look after her.  But don’t forget
about the extra ten shillings and the horse.  Could you give me the ten
shillings for six weeks now, granny?"

And he went off to Penelope’s house and marched in on her.

"Pen, I’m coming to stay with you if you’ll have me," he said.

"Of course I will," said Penelope.  "But how did you manage it?"

"I’m overworked," said Bob, solemnly, "and sitting on chairs and
learning Latin don’t agree with me.  I want more open air, I think, or I
shall get consumption."

He was fat and ruddy and as strong as a bull-calf. He put his arm around
Pen’s neck.

"I say, Pen, I do love you," he said.  "I think it’s rot I’m so young,
or I’d have married you myself.  Granny’s in an awful state about you,
Pen.  She asked me if I knew who it was you liked best, and she threw
out hints a foot wide that I was to find out if I could."

"Indeed," said Pen; "and what did you say?"

Bob chuckled.

"I said the best thing would be for me to come and stay with you.  And
that’s why I’m here.  But I say, Pen, I’ll never sneak, not even if you
marry Mr. de Vere.  Granny’s raised my allowance ten bob a week, and I’m
to have another hunter.  I got too big for the pony, so I sold him to
Goby; Goby looked very melancholy, but he said he wanted him badly for
some reason.  And he said he hoped I’d be his friend always.  I like
poor old Goby.  I think I’ll go into the park, Pen.  My things will be
here by and by.  Couldn’t we go to the theatre to-night?  There’s a
ripping farce with a fight in it at the Globe.  And will you have plum
pudding for dinner, and ice meringues?"

He went into the park and met Williams there.

"I say, Mr. Williams, where’s Mr. Carew?" he asked.

"Damn Carew," said Williams.  "I don’t know where he is, and I don’t
want to."

"I’m staying at my cousin’s," said Bob.

"At Lady Penelope’s?" asked the war correspondent.

"That’s it," said Bob.  "Would you like to know what theatre we are
going to to-night?"

"Yes," said Williams, eagerly.

Bob shook his head.

"I don’t suppose I ought to tell you.  Tell me something very exciting
about some bloody war, Mr. Williams."

Williams grunted.

"Or an execution.  Have you ever seen heads chopped off with a sword?"

"Often in China, Bob."

"I say, what fun!" said Bob.  "Tell me all about it.  Is it true they
smoke cigarettes while they are being chopped?  And do they mind?  Could
I see one if I went out?  I say, if you’ll describe it, I’ll see if I
can tell you about the theatre."

Carteret Williams described it.

"Seventeen!" said Bob.  "By Jove, I’ll tell this to Penelope.  She’ll be
greatly interested.  Do you think I could be a war correspondent, Mr.
Williams?  I’d like to be, because Latin wouldn’t be needed.  I’m
awfully sorry for war correspondents in those days when no one but the
Roman chaps did any fighting.  I’ve enjoyed that story of yours more
than anything I’ve heard for years, Mr. Williams. When they write about
these things in books, why don’t they describe the blood the way you do?
It’s the Globe we’re going to; there’s a ripping farce there.  I wish
they would do an execution of pirates.  I say, don’t tell Pen I told
you; she might be waxy with me.  Think of something else to tell me.
Good-bye."

And he went to look at the ducks.

"Williams is all right," said Bob; "I wonder if it is Williams."

And at home Pen began to know who it was. And Ethel Mytton began to know
it was some one.  And so did Chloe Cadwallader.

Miss Weekes was right, there is no mistake about that.



                             *CHAPTER IX.*


Penelope was certainly on the verge of being in love, to go no farther
than that.  She discovered that certain of the horde had a curious
tendency to disappear from her mind, though none of them lost any
opportunity of appearing in her drawing-room. She was so sorry for those
she didn’t love that her kindness to them increased.  Her dread of the
one she began to adore forbade her to show how soft she had grown to
him.  Not even Ethel and Chloe together could make anything out of it,
which shows every one, of course, that they were two simple idiots, or
that Penelope had a very remarkable character.  It seems to me that the
latter must have been the case, for Chloe was no fool in spite of the
folly she had shown on one particular occasion.

"Am I a fool?" she asked Ethel Mytton, "or is Penelope the deepest,
darkest mystery of modern times?  I am convinced she has made her
choice."

"Oh, which do you think?" asked Ethel, with much anxiety.  "Do you—do
you think it is Captain Goby?"

"I don’t know," replied Chloe; "it may be.  I give it up.  I shall ask
Bob."

"I’ve asked him," said Ethel, "and he won’t say anything.  I think he
knows more than we do. He’s a sweet boy, but just as cunning as a
ferret."

But of course Bob knew no more than they did, though he would never own
to it.  He threw out casual hints that he was wiser than his elders, and
the only one he was in the least frank with was Lord Bradstock, who
asked him to lunch and was infinitely amused with him.

"I say, Lord Bradstock, if you’ll keep it dark, I’ll tell you
something!"

Bradstock promised to keep it as dark as a dry plate.

"All these women think I know who Penelope’s sweet on, and I don’t.
And, what’s more, I wouldn’t tell if I did.  Would you?"

"Certainly not," said Bradstock.

"You can’t think how I’m chased," said Bob. "Ethel Mytton is the worst.
She’s dead nuts on poor Goby, and Goby doesn’t see her when Pen’s in the
room.  And Mrs. Cadwallader, she’s always mugging up to me with
chocolates or something to get things out of me.  And the newspaper
Johnnies are on me, too.  And Williams takes me out, and Carew (I don’t
care for Carew), and I like Goby best.  Mr. de Vere is a rotter, don’t
you think? The marquis was at Pen’s, and he said that if Pen didn’t
marry him he’d go up in a balloon and never come back.  I want him to
take me in a balloon. Don’t you think I might go?  Granny’s cross when I
speak of it.  I’ve always wanted to go in a balloon, and I think it hard
lines I can’t go because she doesn’t like ’em.  Pen won’t go, either.
She thinks that if she did, Rivaulx would never let her come down again,
or something.  I daresay he wouldn’t; he’s quite mad, I think,
sometimes.  Baker says all Frenchmen are mad.  Do you think so?"

Bradstock didn’t know; he wasn’t sure of it, though he owned to thinking
it was possible.

"After all, Bob," he said, when Bob went at last, "and after all I dare
say Penelope won’t marry any of them."

And of course that is what a good many people said.  They said it was
Lady Penelope’s fun.  The Marchioness of Rigsby, who settled every one’s
affairs, said so to Titania.

"Why wasn’t she beaten, my dear, when she was young?" asked the
marchioness.  "I was severely beaten; it did me good; it gave me sense.
I always used to beat my girls with the flat of my hand, and now they
are _most_ sensible and married excellently, although I own they are not
beauties.  I can afford to own it now.  I shall speak to Penelope
myself."

She did it and was routed.  Pen was direct; she beat no one, and
certainly did not beat about the bush.  She had no fear of the world,
and dreaded no marchioness.

"I’ll attend to my own affairs, thank you," said Pen.

"My dear love," said the marchioness, "you ought to have been beaten
while you were still young. This conduct of yours is a scandal.  It is
merely a means of attracting public notice.  And I am old enough to
speak about it.  I will speak about it."

Pen left her speaking and went out.

"She is distinctly rude," said the marchioness, viciously.  "I wish she
was about ten and I was her mother!"

But Pen could not endure being spoken to.

"I love him," said Pen, "and what business is it of theirs?  If they
disapprove I shall hate them! If they approve I shall hate them worse.
Oh, I almost wish I was going to marry some one who would make them
die!"

"Mark me," said the marchioness to Titania, "this will end in her
marrying a groom.  Has she a good-looking one?"

Titania started.

"Oh, a very good-looking one," she cried.

"What did I say?  Remember what I said," said the marchioness, darkly.
"No really good girl could act as she does.  She will marry a groom!"

She went around saying so in revenge for Penelope’s want of politeness.
The journalists took Timothy Bunting’s photograph, and Miss Weekes was
proud till she heard the dreadful rumour. Timothy beat a man on a paper,
and Bob was delighted.  Titania took to her bed, and said the end of the
world was at hand.  Bradstock laughed till he cried, and cut the
marchioness in the park. Her husband was very much pleased at this, and
said it served her right.  Chloe Cadwallader wrote her first letter
since the scandal to Cadwallader in the Rockies, for she felt he would
be the only man in the world who hadn’t heard of it.  Ethel lay wait for
Captain Goby, and asked him to kill some one.  There was not a soul in
London who did not hear of it.  And then Timothy quarrelled with Harriet
Weekes.  He went to Penelope, and with a crimson face and bated breath
and much humbleness asked to be sent down to the country.

"You shall go," said Penelope, with great decision.  "I can trust you, I
know."

"My lady, you can trust me with untold gold and diamonds," replied
Timothy Bunting, almost with tears.

"I shall send you to a house of mine you have never heard of," said
Penelope.  "And I expect you, Bunting, not to write to any one from
there. I do not wish any one to know I live there."

"I’ll not tell the Harchbishop of Canterbury ’imself, my lady, not if he
begged me on his knees, with lighted candles in his ’and," said Bunting.
"And, above all, my lady, I’ll not tell it to Miss Weekes.  Her and me
’ave quarrelled, and ’ave parted for hever.  And I wouldn’t trust her,
my lady, not farther than you can sling a bull by the tail, my lady.
I’ve trusted her to my rueing, so I have, and if she finds out hanything
she’ll sell it to the _Times_, which ’ave promised her a public ’ouse at
a corner."

This revelation of the methods of Printing House Square shocked Penelope
dreadfully.

"Oh, I always thought the _Times_ was a respectable journal," she said.

But Timothy Bunting shook his head.

"Their sportin’ tips ain’t a patch on many of the penny papers, my lady.
But don’t you forget what I says of Miss Weekes.  She’s a serpent in
your boodore a-coiling everywhere, and speaking to newspaper men outside
the harea like an ’ouse-maid. Not but that I knows an ’ousemaid far
above such dirty work, my lady."

A little encouragement might have led him to say more about the
housemaid who would not condescend to talk with journalists.  But
Penelope gave him an address, verbally.

"You will go to this place to-morrow," she said. "There are no horses
now, but there will be next week.  I trust you to do what I tell you."

"Miss—my lady, I mean," said Timothy, proudly, "I wouldn’t reveal where
I was if the Hemperor of Germany crawled to me for that purpose all
along of the ground, making speeches as he went."

Penelope smiled at her faithful henchman kindly, and she wondered how it
happened that he thought of placing the emperor in such an absurd
position; a position, too, which was very unlikely.

"Now are you sure you remember, Bunting?" she asked.

"Miss Mackarness, Moat ’Ouse, near Spilsby, Lincolnshire," repeated
Timothy.

"And you will speak personally to Miss Mackarness, who will give you
every instruction," said his young mistress.  "I hope you don’t drink,
Bunting?"

"Never," said Bunting, promptly, "at least I won’t from now on till you
give the word, my lady. But, my lady, as I’m goin’ from here I don’t
mind revealin’ to you that Mr. Gubbles does.  Mr. Gubbles ’as been very
unkind to me, and—"

"That will do," said Penelope.  "Good-bye, Bunting.  I expect to see you
in about a month.  It may be less."

"I ’opes, my lady, it will be much less," said the groom, and as he went
away he nodded his close-cropped head.

"This is a damned rum start," he murmured. "Wot’s up, I wonder?  This
’ere Miss Mackarness was ’ousekeeper at Upwell Castle, and I’m a
Dutchman if any one of us ’as ever ’eard of Moat ’Ouse. She’s goin’ to
do it, as she said, goin’ to be married and keep it dark.  Women is
wonderful strange and, so to speak, dreadful.  I thot I knew ’Arriet
Weekes through and through, and she turned out to be a serpent with
false teeth, ready to sell Lady Penelope to the _Times_.  And my lady
’as turned me round ’er finger.  I’m knee-deep in secret hoaths, and,
without knowin’ what I was doin’, I’ve swore off drink.  Well, I always
did like ginger-beer!"

But he sighed all the same.  And that afternoon he packed up and
disappeared, and no one knew what had become of him.  Neither he nor any
one of those who hunted for news had any notion of the fame which would
presently be his. Nor did Penelope see quite what she had done when this
nice-looking young man suddenly vanished by her orders.

But Penelope was in love.



                              *CHAPTER X.*


Love is a pathological state which can only be cured by one means.  It
is a disease, and robs the most humourous of their humour.  When
Rabelais was in love he no doubt wrote poems which he afterward
destroyed.  When Dante was in love he did the Paradiso.  When he cheered
up he wrote the Inferno.  Neither of these is any joke.  But then, Dante
had no more humour than Penelope. It can be imagined (or it cannot be
imagined) how unhumourous Pen became when she found she had made her
choice between Plant and De Vere and Goby and Carew and Williams and
Bramber and Gordon and Rivaulx.  She wept at night over those she could
not marry.  And it added grief to grief to think that the unmarried
would probably relapse into their evil ways.

"What can one poor girl do with so many?" she asked.  "I’m sure they
will turn around on me, and once more follow their dreadful instincts!
And they have improved so much!"

The result of her sorrow was such pity that every poor wretch of them
all was convinced she loved him better and better.  They were quite
cheerful. They looked at each other almost sympathetically. They grieved
for each other, and struggled on the hard cinder-path of duty, with
Penelope at least a long lap ahead.  The amount of good they did was
wonderful.  Plant got his university started, Rivaulx went over to Paris
and asked Dreyfus to dinner, Goby was deep in Imperial Yeomanry and
rifle ranges, Bramber spoke on every opportunity in the House and voted
with the insistence of a whip.  De Vere wrote a monograph on outdoor
sports, with an appendix on bulldogs.  He also owned that poetry was not
everything, and went so far as to say that the poet laureate was a very
good fellow.  Gordon floated a company without any water in the capital,
and ran the whole affair with absolute honesty and no waiver clause.
Carew learned to draw, and spoke sober truth about the Chantry Bequest.

Williams never swore in public, and painted in water-colours.  And none
of them played bridge or went into good society.

"And when they know?" said poor Penelope.

"I wonder if I ought not to sacrifice him and myself on the altar of
duty?" said Pen.  But she was in love, and the motor-car in which she
was to disappear stood ready.  She made weekly trips in it with Bob.
Sometimes they stayed away for three days, sometimes even for a week.

"Oh, Bob, I’m so unhappy: so happy," said Pen.

And Bob looked at her critically.

"Well, you look stunning, anyhow," he replied, "you get better looking
every day, Pen.  Old De Vere said so.  He let on that you were a cross
between a lily and a rose, or some such rot.  You mark me, Pen, he’ll go
back to poetry if you marry him, and give up dogs.  I don’t want him to
do that. Baker has some pups coming on, a new kind of very savage dog,
and I’m halves in ’em.  Can’t you give me a tip as to whether it’s De
Vere?  If it is, I’ll sell him one now, cheap."

But Pen looked beautiful and kept her mouth shut.  Neither Bob nor
Titania nor Bradstock could extract a word from her.  And, nevertheless,
the whole world grew suspicious.  The society papers said she had made
her choice.  The sporting papers gave tips.  They said, "For the _Lady
Penelope Stakes_ we give Plant or Bramber," or at least one of them did.
Others selected De Vere, and one rude man said a rank outsider would get
it.  Of course he didn’t believe in Pen’s word.  But then, no one did.

And still Pen kept her teeth shut and was as obstinate as a government
mule to all persuasion. Ethel cried and said:

"Oh, is it Captain Goby?"

Chloe laughed and laid traps for Penelope saying:

"Oh, by the way, I saw Lord Bramber just now."

Or it might be De Vere or Carew or Williams. But no one got a rise out
of Penelope.

"I am entirely determined to give a lead to those who wish to be married
without publicity.  I shall found a society presently," said Penelope.

When Titania, whom nothing could discourage, went at her furiously,
Bradstock smiled.

"If she has a daughter, some day we shall see the girl married in
Westminster Abbey," said Bradstock. But even he was very curious.

"Have you found out anything yet, Bob?" he asked that young financier.

"I’m on the way," said Bob, "give me time, Lord Bradstock.  I feel sure
it’s not De Vere.  He’s buying all the dogs I offer him.  If he was
sure, he wouldn’t."

But Bradstock wasn’t certain.  Penelope might have no humour, but she
was quite equal to ordering De Vere to buy in order to blind Bob.

"I never thought of that," said Bob.  "I frankly own Pen’s a deal worse
than Euclid.  And I never thought to say that of anything."

And upon a certain day in June, when June was doing its best to live up
to the poet’s ideal, Pen disappeared, by herself, leaving Bob at home
with Guthrie, who now came over each day to keep the young vagabond
doing something.  She came back after lunch, and Bob found her
abnormally silent. She had nothing to say, and there was a curious
far-off look in her eyes.  Her interest in dogs was nil; she showed no
appreciation of ferrets; when he spoke she said "Oh" and "Ah" and
"what’s that you say?"  And Bob had no suspicion whatsoever, just as
clever people never have when they might be expected to show their
wisdom.

When she did speak, though, it was to the point.

"I think, Bob, it is time you went back to your grandmother’s," she
declared, suddenly, and back he went in spite of all his cajoleries.
Pen was very strange, he thought, and rather beastly.  There certainly
was a change in her, for she dismissed Harriet Weekes with a douceur
which did not really sweeten that lady’s departure.

And in the afternoon Pen casually remarked to Chloe that she was going
out of town for three days.  When she said so the motor-car was at the
door, and Geordie Smith was there too.

If Timothy Bunting had known that Smith was as deep in his lady’s
confidence as he was himself, he would have been jealous.  But he must
have been, for Pen said to him, when they were out of Piccadilly:

"How long will it take to get to Spilsby, Smith?"

"My lady, with this new racing-car I’ll get there when you like,"
replied Smith, firmly.

Pen remembered that Bob said Smith’s ambition was to ride through the
city regardless of fines.

"I wouldn’t try to do it under three hours," she said.

"Unless we are followed," said Smith.  "If we are followed, my lady, may
I let her go?"

"Yes," said Penelope.

Geordie Smith nodded to himself.

"Fines be damned, and legal limits ditto," said Smith to himself; "wait,
my darling, till we get through the traffic."

He meant "darling" for his new car.  He adored it as much as he did his
mistress.  He used to dream of it at night and had nightmares about it.
Dream ruffians cut up his tires; he was in the middle of Salisbury Plain
without petrol; "she" refused to spark; he was held up by gigantic
policemen with stop watches the size of a church clock. But now she
moved under him smooth and cosy, with a vast reserve of power; she was
quick, swift, docile, intelligent, fearless of policemen, careless of
the limping law.

"If my lady wants to go quick, I’m the man," said Geordie.  "But I
wonder what’s up?"

Geordie played the car as Joachim plays the violin, or Paderewski the
piano.  She skated, she swam, she shot like a water-beetle, she was
responsive to his lightest touch.  He heard her music as every engineer
does, and found it as lovely as a dream song.

"Oh, for a clear road," said the player.  He found some of it clear
before they reached Barnet, and then he fingered the keyboard, as it
were, like a master.

"Horses, horses," said Smith, "the poor miserable things!  Ain’t I sorry
for Tim Bunting!  Here we go, my lady."

He broke the law magnificently, and with such skill that Penelope
wondered.  But only once he ran against the law in the shape of a
policeman, north of Hatfield, who saw him coming and signalled to him to
stop.

"Shall I?" said Smith.

"No!" shrieked Pen, against the tide of wind.

They passed him flying and saw him run as they passed.

"He’ll wire to Hitchin and have us there," said Smith.  But he knew his
roads.  "Oh, will he?"

He took the right fork of the roads at Welwyn and roared through
Stevenage to Baldock and found the main road again at Sandy.  They
reached Huntington, sixty miles from town, in an hour and three
quarters.

"And I’ve never let her out but once," said Smith; "she’s a daisy!"

The eighteen miles to Spilsborough they did at a speed that made
Penelope bend her head.  She felt wonderful: she was on a shooting-star.
They slackened on the outskirts of the cathedral city and rolled through
it delicately.  She looked about her and remembered the dear bishop who
had christened her when he was no more than a vicar.

"We’ll go by Crowland and Spalding, Smith."  A car followed them out of
Spilsborough, and Smith, going easy, looked back and saw it.

"Catch us, my son," he said, contemptuously. But when they were well
clear of town and he turned her loose, so to speak, Pen’s nerve went, or
it appeared to go.

"Don’t go so fast, Smith," she commanded.

And Smith obeyed sorrowfully.

"They can’t stand it," he said; "none of ’em can stand it really.  They
let on they can, but it’s no go.  A few hot miles gives them the
mulligrubs."

But nevertheless they were running over thirty miles an hour.  The car
behind crawled up to them.

"All I’ve got to do, my lady, is to ask her to shake ’em off, and away
we go and leave ’em," he suggested.

"Oh, no, no," said Pen.

At Spalding the pursuer, if he were one, was not a hundred yards behind.
But in the town Smith got ahead.  He did not see Penelope trembling.
Smith had taken a look at the one behind.

"There’s power there," he said, savagely.  "If he lets her out and my
lady squeals, I’m passed!"

She did "squeal" the other side of Spalding, but not for herself.  The
other car had to stop.

"That’s done ’em," said Smith; "they’re in the ditch."  He gained ten
miles on them, and Penelope wept.

And just as they were coming into Boston at an easy gait, Smith turned
and saw the other car coming up behind like a meteor, with the dust
astern of her in a fume.

"That chap can drive after all," said Smith. "Won’t you try to let me
get away from him before we get to Spilsby, my lady?"

"I—I don’t want to," said Pen.

And five miles outside of Spilsby the pursuing car drew up with them.
Two indistinguishable monsters drove it, and through his glaring goggles
Smith glared at them as they came alongside.

"Stop," said Penelope, suddenly.  "Stop, Smith."

And the other car stopped too.

"I’ll go on with the other car," said Penelope. She took her place by
the most unrecognizable portent of the two, and disappeared in a sudden
and terrific cloud of dust.

"Damned if I know who it is, even now," said Smith.



                             *CHAPTER XI.*


It was Friday when Penelope disappeared from London in a motor-car, and
was carried off by a motor pirate, unknown to any one, because he wore a
peak cap, a fur coat with the fur outside, and gigantic goggles, making
him resemble a diver or a cuttlefish.

It was Monday when she returned to town in a motor-car with Geordie
Smith.  And all the way into town Geordie said:

"Blessed if I’d ha’ thought it.  I always reckoned it would have been
one of the others.  I lose money on this, but if I do, it warms the
cockles of my heart to see my lady happy.  Bless her sweet face, I wish
she’d leave the blooming world alone and have a good time.  I never set
eyes on such an aggravatin’ beautiful sweet lady for interferin’ with
men.  Just as if the queen herself could alter our ways!  Women always
gas that they can or mean to, and they’re just like hens with men for
ducks."

If he had been a classical scholar he might have remembered Ariadne up
to her knees in the sea, with her lover on the deep in a boat.

"When I saw who it was at Moat House," said Geordie, "you could have
knocked me endwise with something less than a steel spanner.  And that
horse-whipping ass of a Bunting was equal took aback.  For somehow we
never spotted him as likely to make the non-stop run.  Humph, humph!"

And he left Penelope at her house just in time for afternoon tea.  As
she lay on the sofa she handed a paper to Chloe Cadwallader, saying:

"I wish you would send out cards to all these people for Thursday
night."

"That’s very short notice, darling," said Chloe.

"They’ll come," said Pen.

And when Chloe looked at the list she found it included only Pen’s
particular friends, her most bitter relations, and the whole of the
"horde."

"I wonder—" said Chloe, and she wondered somewhat later with Ethel.

"Is it?" said Ethel.

"Can it be?" cried Chloe.

"It can’t be," said Ethel.

"Who knows?" asked Chloe.  "She is so plain and so simple and
straightforward that there is no certainty about anything she does.  I
understand the wicked and the weak, but Penelope—"

She threw up her hands, and presently wrote out the cards.  And Penelope
was trying "to a degree," as Chloe said all Monday and Tuesday and
Wednesday. And on Thursday she sent for Bob, who came helter-skelter in
a hansom.

"You’ll stand by me, Bob," said Pen, clutching him.

Bob put his hands in his pockets and stood straddle-legs.  He stared at
her.  What was hidden from the wisdom of Chloe was revealed to the
simplicity of this boy.

"Pen," said Bob, solemnly, "I’ll stick by you till death.  But ain’t you
going to tell me who it is?"

"Who what is?" asked Pen, feebly.

"Him," said Bob.  "Pen, you’ve been and gone and done it."

Pen, the strong and mighty Pen, wept a little.

"Don’t snivel," said Bob.  "It can’t be helped now, I suppose, unless
you get a divorce.  Do you want one?"

"Oh, no!" said Pen.  "Not at all!"

Bob considered the matter for a few minutes.

"I say, what makes you cry?" he asked.

"I—I don’t know," said Penelope.

"Girls are very rum.  Baker says they are.  He’s not married, you know.
He says mules are easy to them.  He drove mules once in India, he says.
You know you are doing all this off your own bat, Pen, ain’t you?  Why
don’t you chuck it?"

"Chuck what, dear?"

"Oh, this notion of not letting on.  Baker says it’s the rummest start
he ever knew, and he says he’s seen some rum things in his life,
especially when he was a sergeant in the Dublin Fusiliers. Can’t you
chuck it?"

"Oh, no, certainly not," said Pen, firmly.  "It’s only, Bob, that I’m
not used to it yet, you see."

"Of course not," said Bob.  "Being married is strange at first, I
suppose.  Baker says he knew a woman who was married four times, and by
the fourth time she wasn’t nervous to speak of.  But is it true, Pen,
that you won’t tell any one who it is?"

"I won’t," said Pen.

"Bravo," cried Bob.  "Stick to it.  Oh, it will make granny so savage!
Has Bill spoken about it to you?"

"He laughs," said Pen.  "He always does laugh."

"He tells rattling good stories," said Bob.  "He told me a splendid one
about a man who stole a parrot the other day.  I’ll tell it you sometime
when I remember it.  Is anything going to happen to-night, Pen?"

Pen shivered.

"Oh, dear, I don’t know.  Mind you come, too, Bob."

Bob vowed he wouldn’t miss coming for worlds.

"I believe you’re thinking of telling ’em you’ve done it," he said, and
Pen said she was thinking of telling them.

"You won’t tell me who it is?  I’m as close as wax," urged Bob.

"I can’t, dear," said Pen.

"Oh, by Jove, I remember Bill’s parrot story, Pen.  A man stole a
parrot, and when he was caught he said he took it for a lark.  And the
man who owned it said he’d make a bally fine judge at a bird-show."

"Oh," said Pen, rather blankly; "but if he only took it for a lark, I
suppose they let him off.  Did they?"

"Let him off what?"

"Why—going to prison, of course," said Pen.

"I don’t know," replied Bob, staring.  "Don’t you see it’s a joke?"

"Yes, I see, of course," said Pen.  "Why, the man said it was a lark,
and it was a parrot.  I think it’s a very good story, Bob."

And Bob went away wondering whether it was or not.

"I’ll tell it to Baker," he said, thoughtfully.

He turned up at nine o’clock that night with Titania, who was in a state
of mind requiring instant attention from a physician.

"Good heavens, what is it, I wonder," said Titania.  "Robert, I wonder
what it is?  But what do you know?  I am in a tremble; I am sure she
will do or say something even more scandalous than she has done yet.  I
put it all on Bradstock; to make him her guardian was a fatal error.  My
nerves—but I have none.  I quiver like a jelly; I shake; I must be pale
as a ghost.  Why should we take so much trouble over anything?  I must
think of myself.  I will go to bed and stay there for a week, and send
for Dr. Lumsden Griff."

But Bradstock was as calm as a philosopher without anything in the
objective world to worry him.

"What does it matter?" he inquired.  "Does anything matter?"

Brading, whom no one had seen for many months, as he had spent the whole
winter in a yacht down the Mediterranean, was perfectly good-humoured.

"You see, she’s a dear, but only my half-sister after all," he said to
Bradstock, "and women are so wonderful!  I can tell you a story by and
by of a Greek lady, and one about a Spaniard.  And, to tell the truth, I
almost agree with Pen.  I’m a bit of a socialist, or an anarchist, if
you like.  Have you read Nietzsche?"

"Who wrote it?" asked Bradstock.

But the horde came in one by one, and Penelope, who was dressed in the
most unremarkable costume at her disposal, and looked like a lily,
received them at the door.

"A most awful and improper situation," said Titania.

"I say, I’ll tell you about that Greek girl," said Brading.  "Do you
think Pen could stick a knife in a fellow?"

Bradstock didn’t think so, and listened to the story of the lady who
suggested the notion.

"Right through my coat and waistcoat," said Brading.  "Only a very stiff
piece of starch saved my life!"

"Good heavens!" cried Bradstock.

The room was full, and Bob buzzed around it like a bluebottle in an
orchard.

"Oh, I say," he cried to every one.  He told the story of the parrot
after he had asked Brading whether he had it right.  He tried it on De
Vere and failed.  Goby roared handsomely.  Bramber was absent-minded
with his eye on Penelope. Gordon said, "Yes, yes, a ripping good story."
The Marquis de Rivaulx balked at it, but was led to understand it.

"And when can I go up in a balloon?" asked Bob.  He waited for no
answer, but told it to Williams, suggesting that the war correspondent
might pay for it by a story with blood and torture in it, please.  And
all of a sudden it was noticed that the hostess had slipped out of the
room.

"Where—where is Penelope?" asked trembling Titania.  "Mrs. Cadwallader,
where is Lady Penelope?"

Bob ran her to earth in her bedroom, and after many appeals he was let
in.

"Oh, dear, oh, dear," said Penelope.  "Bob, let me take hold of you.  Do
I tremble?"

"Rather," said Bob.  "I’ll bet you couldn’t drink a glass of wine
without spilling it.  What’s wrong?  Buck up.  Ain’t you comin’ in to
tell ’em? I’ve broken it a bit for you."

Pen screamed.

"You wretched boy, what have you done?"

"Bless you, nothing to speak of," said Bob.  "I only said you would make
’em sit up presently. They think I know something, and want to bribe me.
I say, Pen, if you say nothing for a few days, I believe old Gordon will
make me a director. Can you?  I want to make money and restore the
family property.  I say, do."

But Pen paid no attention to him.  She groaned instead.

"Where’s the pain?" asked Bob, anxiously. "Shall I get you some brandy?"

"No, no, Bob!  I _must_ go in and tell them."

"Come on, then," said Bob, eagerly.  "I don’t care about the
directorship.  They’re all white and shaking.  I _guess_ they _are_ in a
stew."

But still Pen did not move, and when Chloe came she sent her away,
saying, "In a moment, in a moment!"

Then Bob had a brilliant idea.

"I say, Pen, I’ll do it!"

"Do what?"

"I’ll go in and tell ’em you’ve done it.  It would be a lark!"

But Pen shook her head.

"No, I must, I will be brave.  If a woman has ideas she must live up to
them.  I have done good so far.  Are they not very much improved, Bob?"

"Some, I think," said Bob, carelessly.  "But I dare say they’ll go
regular muckers now.  Come on, Pen, I do want to see their jaws drop."

And Pen went with him.  She stayed outside the door, and Bob went in
first.

"She’s coming," said Bob.  And Pen entered with her eyes on the floor.
Bob took her hand.

"Buck up and spit it out," he said, in an encouraging whisper, which was
audible in the farthest corner of the room.  Some of the horde turned
pale; Titania fell back in her chair; Bradstock leant against the wall.
Brading put up his eyeglass, and then told Bradstock Pen reminded him of
a girl who had once tried to smother him with a pillow.

"She had Penelope’s straightforwardness, and never gave in, just like
Pen," said Brading, thoughtfully.

And now Penelope took hold of her courage, so to speak, and opened her
mouth.

"S-sh," said Bob, who looked on himself as the master of the ceremonies,
"s-sh, I say."

And he took hold of Pen’s hand.

"I’m so glad to see you here to-night," said the reformer, "for I am so
much interested in you all, you see.  And you’ve all been so brave."

"Hear, hear," said Bob.

"So brave in different ways, about balloons and motor-cars and curing
yourselves of your weak points," went on Penelope.  "That’s what I hoped
my influence would do.  I said I was only a girl, but even a girl ought
to do something, and I knew you all liked me very much, for you all said
so, and I said, what can I do for you?  And I did my best, and you did
yours, I’m sure, for I’ve heard from every one of you all about the
others."

This made many of them look rather queer, as no doubt it might.

"And months ago I said—I said—"

"Go ahead, Pen," whispered Bob.  "You mean you said you’d marry one of
’em."

"I said I’d—marry one of you."

Titania groaned in the corner of a vast settee. Bradstock and Brading
whistled, or it seemed so. But the other poor wretches stared at
Penelope, and saw no one, heard no one, but her.

"And I wanted you to come to-night so that I could ask you all to go on
in the path of rectitude and simplicity and courage, balloons and hard
work and healthiness and thought for others, even if I was married,"
said Pen, with a gasp.  "Will you, oh, will you?"

"We will," said the crowd, Goby leading with a deep bass voice and tears
in his eyes.

"Oh, I’m so glad," said Penelope, "for I shall not have lived in vain
even if I died to-night.  And now—and now—I have to tell you something."

"Great heavens," said Titania, in an awestricken and penetrating
whisper, "what is she going to say now?"

"I have kept my word," said Penelope, with her eyes on the floor.  "I
have kept my word!"

"What—what word?" asked the collapsed duchess, and Pen tried to say what
word she had kept.

"Speak up," said Bob, "speak up, Pen!"

And she did speak up.

"For—for," gasped Penelope, "for, you see, I _have_ married one of you!"

Titania uttered a scream and promptly fainted. The men looked at each
other furiously and suspiciously, while Pen was on her knees beside the
poor duchess.  At that moment a message was brought in for Gordon, and
an urgent note from the whip for Bramber.  Brading stood in a corner and
whistled.  Bradstock shrugged his shoulders, and Bob buzzed all over the
room like a wasp in a bottle.  By dint of water and smelling-salts and
the slapping of hands Titania was brought to, and when she had recovered
consciousness to the extent of knowing what it was that had bowled her
over, she uttered words on the spur of the moment which were almost as
much of a bombshell as those Penelope had spoken.

"I don’t believe she’s married at all," said Titania.



                             *CHAPTER XII.*


To talk about the grounds of certainty is to talk metaphysically, and
metaphysics being the highest form of nonsense, becomes sense in that
altitude, as it must be if Hegel is to be believed.  But in the conduct
of life the grounds of certainty are an estate beyond the rainbow.  If
Penelope believed any one thing with more fervour than another, it was
that her truthfulness must be self-evident.  The course of events after
the evening on which Titania fainted and recovered so sharply showed her
that nothing was certain, not even self-evident truths. For though she
said she was married, few, if any, believed her.  Titania, who believed
in her intuitions, as all right-minded women must, because reason is
only an attribute of man, declared that Penelope had lied, to put it
plainly.  She invented an hypothesis to account for it.

"She found out she didn’t want to marry any of them, and her courage to
say so failed her.  This notion of hers gives her time, and of course,
my dear, as you see from what I say, she’s not married in the least."

Bradstock, who was a philosopher, disagreed with her, and agreed with
Bob.

"Not married in the least, eh?" said Bradstock. "What is the least
degree of marriage which would meet with your moral approval, Titania?"

"Don’t talk nonsense, Augustin," replied Titania, tartly.

"I cannot help it," said Augustin, "the situation is so absurd."

And so it was for every one but the Duchess and Penelope, who did not
understand a joke even with illustrations.  And they undoubtedly had the
illustrations.  There were leading articles in several papers on the
subject of marriage, with discreet allusions to Penelope’s case.  There
was a long and rabid correspondence in the _Daily Turncoat_, a new
halfpenny paper, to which every lady with a past or a future
contributed.  The editor of the _Dictator_ wrote a moral essay with his
own hand, obvious to every student of his immemorial style, which proved
that another such case would knock the bottom out of the British Empire
and bring on protection.  He showed that marriage, open and
unadulterated, in a chapel, at the least, was the minimum on which
morality could exist, and he pointed out with sad firmness that the
ethical standards of the true Briton were the only decent ones at
present unfurled in the universe, and that they were in great danger of
being rolled up and put away.  As every one knows, all he said was
undoubtedly fact.  The true Briton is the only moral person in the
world. As a result Penelope felt that she wasn’t a true Briton, and it
made her very mournful, as it should have done.  Nothing but her native
obstinacy, which was imperial if not British, made her stick to her
ideas, when her half-brother came to her and asked her crudely to
"chuck" it.  For, though he was humourous, it was past a joke now, and
his admiration of Pen was tinged with alarm.

"I say, old girl, chuck it," said Bill.

"I can’t!  I won’t!" said Penelope.

"Nobody believes you."

Penelope couldn’t help that.

"I’ve spoken the truth."

"Why, even the other men don’t believe it," said her brother.  "Why, I
met three of ’em to-day, and they all said, ’Oh, yes, we understand.’  I
say, Pen, this is too much.  Chuck it!"

"Once for all, dear, I won’t," said Penelope. "Much as I dislike this
publicity, I see it is doing good.  I get letters every day from scores
of people saying that I am doing good.  Three to-day declared that they
were following my example in a registrar’s office, and three more are
thinking of it.  One lady writes, saying she hopes I would go in for
abolishing marriage altogether when public opinion was prepared for the
extinction of the race. I don’t agree with her, but she was
enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is a great thing."

"I shall go yachting for a year," said Bill.

"I wish you would, dear Bill," replied Penelope. "It will do you good.
You look quite pale, and I don’t like you to do that.  Have you any
cough?"

"Damn it, no," said Brading, crossly.

And he went yachting again without publicity but with a lady.  He was no
true Briton, and never read the _Dictator_.

His departure took one thing off Pen’s hands, but none of her lovers
departed.  Titania’s words had sunk deep in their minds.

"She’s not married," they said.  "And if she says she is, it is only to
try us."

They all interviewed Bob, and made things very pleasant for that rising
statesman.  If he believed Pen was married there was no reason to say so
openly.

"Am I old enough to be a director, do you think?" he asked Gordon.
"What I want is to make pots of money and rebuild Goring, which is a
bally ruin."

"You don’t answer my questions," said Gordon.

"Oh, about Pen," said Bob.  "She’s queer.  I don’t know, Mr. Gordon, I
can’t tell.  She may be, for all I know.  She’s so clever, I don’t know
that she hasn’t married you, and put you up to coming and asking me
questions."

Gordon couldn’t help grinning.

"I think you’ll be a director of something some day," said he.  "I can’t
make you one now, but if you have a hundred pounds I’ll invest it in
something for you, my son, that will make your hair curl."

"Like yours?" asked Bob, curiously, and Gordon flinched.

"Well," went on Bob, without waiting for an answer, "I haven’t a hundred
pounds, but I’ve an idea how to get it."

"Yes?" said the financier.  "What’s your idea, Bob?"

"It’s a safe and a certain investment, is it?"

"Why, of course," replied Gordon.

"Then I’ll tell you what, you lend it me," said Bob, brightly, "and
invest it for me."

"Damned if I don’t," cried Gordon.  "Bob, when you are twenty-one I’ll
make you a director and ask your advice!  And you’ll come and tell me if
you find out anything about Lady Penelope?"

Bob looked at him and shook his head.

"I say, you’re so clever, I don’t know how to take you.  I dare say it’s
you!"

The flattered financier smiled.

"Oh, by the way," said Bob, rather in a hurry, "I suppose I should get
nearly as much if I invested ninety pounds as if I put in a hundred?"

"Nearly," said Gordon, who hoped to be let off a little, "only ten per
cent. less."

"That’ll do me," said Bob.  "Then you can give me the tenner now, Mr.
Gordon, and put in the rest for me."

"I wish I had a boy like that," said Gordon. He went away ten pounds
poorer, but with a great admiration for Bob, who was determined to
restore the faded splendour of Goring.

"Hanged if I know who it is," said Bob.  "It may be Gordon after all.
And every one but De Vere and Bramber have been at me.  Is it one of
these?"

He had a remarkable list of all those who had pretended to Penelope’s
hand, for he was very curious, like all the rest of the world.  He was
also a little sore with Pen for not confiding in him.

"I told her I’d find out," he said, "and I will."

This was his list, and a curious document it was, written in a big,
round hand that "old Guth" could never get him to modify.  His spelling
was almost ducal in its splendour.


"_Plant_.  It isn’t Mr. Plant, because he said would I like to go out in
a motor, a new one, ninety-horse power, and I said rather, if he’d let
her rip.  And he looked anshious I thought.  He tiped me.

"_Goby_.  It isn’t Goby, Goby says he’ll always be my friend.  He said
had I another pony not sound, to experiment with.  He stamped up and
down, some.  He tiped me.

"_Williams_.  It isn’t Williams, he took me to lunch and told me lots of
things about the Chinese that his paper wouldn’t print.  They were
orful. He said if I’d keep in with him he knew worse.  He didn’t tip me
this time because the lunch was so much.  I had turtell three times.

"_Rivaulx_.  It isn’t the Frenchy because he tore his hair, and said I
could go up in a baloon any day.  At least, he didn’t tear his hair;
it’s too short. He keeps it up with Gordon too but looks horrid. He
tiped me.

"_Carew_.  It isn’t him.  He’s very anxshus and says he can’t paint:
says the crittics are right.  He was a sad sight to see, walking around
in his studio. He said would I sit to him for an angel.  He stops
walking and tries to do Pen quick.  I think it’s muck. I wouldn’t like a
tip from him, for if an artist can’t paint through grief what becomes of
him? Do the others buy him for the Chantrey Bequest?"


"That’s the lot so far," said Bob.  And he added to his notes:


"_Gordon_.  It isn’t Gordon.  He lent me a hundred pounds to invest in
something to make hair curl.  I said make it ninety and give me ten now,
and he did.  He didn’t tip me, but I don’t think him mean on that
account."


"That leaves only De Vere and Bramber," said Bob, "and she never seemed
much stuck on either to my mind.  But if they don’t say anything to me I
shall begin to suspect."

He said so to Bradstock, who called him a young devil.

But about three days later Bob added to his notes:


"_Bramber_.  It isn’t Bramber.  I met him in the park.  He took me to
the House and gave me a beastly lunch.  But he didn’t notice it as he
couldn’t eat and looked very pale and savidge.  He tiped me.

"_De Vere_.  It’s not the poetry rotter.  He wants me to stay with him
and look after the dogs.  He said if I had a sick one he’d rather have
it than not. He said he was desprit.  I don’t know why, but suppose it’s
Pen.  He tiped me."


"Now where am I at?" he said, blankly.  "I’ve written down it isn’t any
of ’em.  And that’s what granny says.  But I don’t believe her."

He chewed his pencil till it was in rags, and then a sudden idea struck
him.

"I’ll buy all Sherlock Holmes and read him right through," said Bob.
"That’s the way to find out anything.  I wish I knew the man that wrote
him. I wonder if De Vere knows him?  I’ll ask Baker to get a sick dog
from the vet’s, and I’ll go down and stay with De Vere if I can make
granny say ’yes.’  I wonder why old De Vere wants a sick dog, though.  I
can’t understand poets."

It was no wonder Gordon wished he had a boy like Bob.



                            *CHAPTER XIII.*


It was all very well for Bob to declare that his grandmother was
altogether "off it" when she said that Penelope wasn’t married at all.
For, little by little, after furious discussions in ten thousand houses,
in the court, the camp, and the grove, that came to be the general
opinion.

Titania expressed the general opinion:

"She is mad, of course.  What can one expect when her mother was an
American?  All Americans are mad.  Bradstock assures me there is a
something in the air of the United States (oh, even in Canada) which
makes one take entirely new views of everything.  And that, of course,
is madness, my dear, madness undoubted and dangerous.  He assured me,
poor fellow, that six months in that absurd country made him tremble for
his belief in a constitutional monarchy!  He adds that he has only
partially recovered, by firmly fixing his eyes on what a limited monarch
might be, if he tried. Yes, she was an American, and adored our
aristocracy, not knowing what we are, poor thing. And yet where
Penelope’s ideas come from I do not know.  I firmly believe Bradstock is
the cause of them.  When she was a little girl he would take her on his
knee and pour anarchism into her innocent ears.  You know his way; he
runs counter to everything, though now comparatively silent.  And
Penelope was always ready to go against me, though she loves me.  This
was an early idea of hers; Augustin owns that he suggested it
humourously to her years ago.  There is nothing so dangerous as humour;
it is always liable to be taken seriously. Mr. Browning, the poet, said
so to me at a garden-party; he said he was a humourist, and he said Mr.
Tennyson (oh, yes, Lord Tennyson) lacked humour, while he himself had
too much of it.  He explained Sordello to me, and made me laugh
heartily.  But as I was saying, Penelope took up the idea and gave it
out, and now is sorry, and, not having the courage to say so, she has
taken refuge in what I am reluctantly compelled to characterize as a
lie, and it is a great relief to me.  The scandal will blow over;
already the halfpenny papers are tired of her.  I expect she will marry
by and by. Oh, no, of course she isn’t married!"

And as Penelope’s ideas were in every way absolutely contrary to what
one has a right to expect, it is only natural that, proof of the
contrary being lacking, the whole world began gradually to come around
to Titania’s opinion.  A duchess has a great deal of influence if she
only likes to use it, and the public is no more proof against her than
the public offices are.

And Pen set her teeth together and ignored every one, and had very
little to say to society.  Her apparent passion was for motor-cars, and
she went out in the sixty-horse Panhard almost every day. And every end
of the week she disappeared, coming back on Monday or Tuesday.

"I could tell ’em something," said Geordie Smith, "couldn’t I, old
girl?"

The "old girl" he referred to was the machine he loved next best, at
least, to Lady Penelope.

"Me and Bunting could wake ’em up some," he said.  "I’d like Bunting if
he’d only get rid of the notion that horses are everything.  I hope to
see the time when there won’t be any except in parks, running wild like
deer."

It was an awful notion, and it was a wonder that he and Bunting got on
without fighting.

"My lady _uses_ your bloomin’ tracking engine," said Tim,
contemptuously, "but she _loves_ ’orses. You can’t give carrots to your
old thing, and it ain’t got no smooth and silky muzzle to pat. Faugh!
the smell of it makes me sick; give me the ’ealthy hodour of the stable,
Smith!"

"Find me a horse that’d carry her and me a hundred and twenty miles in
three hours and damn the expense in fines," replied Smith, "and I’m with
you.  My lady loves this car a’most as much as I do.  Who can catch her
and me, flying along? Let ’em come, let ’em try, and I’ll put her out to
the top notch and let her sizzle.  You come out and try, Tim; one drive
and you’ll be another man, looking on horses as what they are, mere
animals and not up to date.  My lady’s up to date and beyond it."

"When I go in your bally machine hit’ll be by my lady’s horders," said
Timothy, "and it’ll be tryin’ my hallegiance very ’ard.  Come and ’ave a
drink, if you hain’t too advanced for that!  ’Ave you been chased lately
as you brought my lady ’ome?"

"I thought I was," replied Smith, "but I shook ’em off.  I’m egging her
on to get a ninety-horse in case.  That young cousin of hers let on to
me that she’ll be followed up some day, and I told her. She’ll do it!"

"I wonder what’s her game?" said Tim. "Blowed if I hunderstand."

"So far’s I see," replied Smith, "it’s a general notion that a party’s
private biz is their private biz.  And the others says it isn’t, and
there’s where the trouble begins.  I agree with her in a measure, don’t
you?"

"I agrees with my lady hevery time," said Tim. "She’s a sweet lady, and,
my word, if I didn’t I’d get the sack, which I don’t want.  What she
says she sticks to, bein’ in that different to hany woman I never met.
That’s what the trouble is, that and reformin’ lovers and husbands and
law and so hon!"

But the real trouble was that what she said she stuck to.  She began to
care much less for reform, and now never read Herbert Spencer and the
greater philosopher, who has discovered that man doesn’t think so much
of yesterday as he does of to-morrow. She forgot the Deceased Wife’s
Sister, and ignored the London County Council, and didn’t read the
_Times_ except on great occasions.  She spent the days in dreaming, and,
except when she was devouring the space between London and Lincolnshire,
she lay about on sofas and read poetry or listened to Bob, and looked
ten thousand times more beautiful than ever, like the Eastern beauties,
of whom one reads in the Arabian Nights, returning from the bath.  She
was wonderfully affectionate to Bob, who was a most considerate boy, and
didn’t worry her when he had once discovered that asking questions was
no use.  He told her of his vain efforts to find out whom she had
married, and was very amusing.  He began to have great ambitions.

"Mr. Gordon says I’ve a great future before me, Pen.  He thinks no end
of me.  He says being a duke by and by is all very well, but I agree
with him there are greater things than merely being one. He says the men
with power are the rulers of the world.  He told me how he and
Rothschild stopped a war in a hurry.  He didn’t say which war.  I asked
him why he didn’t stop the South African War, and he said that was
different.  I asked him did he bring it on then, and he said ’No.’  But
I think he did, somehow.  Will you ask old Sir Henry if he did?  I don’t
like Sir Henry, though, do you?"

He went on to tell her about Sherlock Holmes.

"I’m reading him through again, Pen.  And when I go down to De Vere’s I
shall ask De Vere to invite the man that wrote him.  I’m going to De
Vere’s to take him a sick dog.  He said he wanted one, and I’ve got one
from Baker.  Baker says he must want to vivisect him, and he doesn’t
like the idea.  Baker’s a very kind man to animals, but I’ve given my
word that the dog sha’n’t be vivisected.  You don’t think a poet would,
do you? Did you tell him to learn to be a vet or anything? If you did,
that would explain it.  I’ve been through the whole list, Pen, and,
though I won’t worry you, I’ve come to the conclusion so far that I
don’t know which you’ve married.  If I find out I won’t tell."

"You’re a dear," said Pen, languidly.

"I’ve got a notion how to find out, though," said Bob.  "At least, I
shall have when I’ve finished Sherlock Holmes.  I’d rather be Sherlock
Holmes than a duke.  It seems to me that unless you are the Duke of
Norfolk or the Duke of Devonshire you are out of it.  Being a common
duke is dull, but being Holmes must be very exciting."

One thing that he told her made her think furiously.

"Not one of ’em really believes you, Pen, and they’re much more jealous
of each other than they were.  I believe they’ll be fighting presently."

"Don’t talk nonsense," said Pen, anxiously.

Bob shrugged his shoulders, a trick he had caught from the marquis.

"It’s not nonsense.  I can see bloodshed in their eyes.  The marquis
looks awfully ferocious, and Williams, too.  Of course, I don’t say that
Gordon would fight much.  And I should snigger to see old De Vere in a
duel, shouldn’t you?  But if Bramber and the marquis and Williams and
Goby get together, I shouldn’t be surprised if they fought with swords
or guns.  I think Rivaulx would like that. He would stick them all and
make ’em squeal, I can tell you.  He’s a whale at fencing.  He took me
to see him once, and when he stamped and said ’Ha-ha,’ like a war-horse,
I wondered the other man didn’t run."

"If they had a duel, any of them, I shouldn’t speak to them again," said
Penelope.  "I abhor duels and warfare and weapons, and think they should
be abolished in universal peace.  And as I am married now, Bob, I hope
you will do what you can to make them believe it."

"You can make ’em believe it at once," said Bob.  "I do think this is
absurd.  And don’t you see it’s funny, too, Pen?"

"No," said Pen, "it’s not.  It’s right, and what is right can’t be
funny."

Bob reflected.

"Well, there’s something in that.  It ain’t much fun generally."

And he returned to Sherlock Holmes.

"I wonder what he would do," said Bob to himself, pensively.  "There
ain’t any footsteps or blood in this.  I suppose he’d take a look at Pen
and then have a smoke and go out in a hansom and come back very tired.
I’ve looked at Pen a lot, but smoking still makes me sick, and I don’t
know where to go in a hansom.  And I think Holmes would think it mean to
follow her when she goes off with Smith in her car.  Besides, a hansom
can’t catch a sixty-horse Panhard unless it breaks down.  I think he
would get at it by looking at the men."

That put him on the track of a dreadful scheme, a most wicked and
immoral scheme, that his hero would have disapproved of.

"I believe I have it," said Bob, starting up in wild excitement.  "If I
go around to them all and say that I’m sure she’s not married, but that
she loves the one they hate most, they will jump and be in a rage, won’t
they?  I should be, I know.  And the one that doesn’t jump will be him.
I dare say De Vere won’t jump, but he’s not a jumping sort, but he’ll
cry, likely.  Rivaulx _will_ snort if it isn’t him."

He sat and pondered over this lovely scheme.

"But if she loves one of ’em, why don’t she own it to him, and why this
mystery?  They’ll ask that, of course.  Oh, but that doesn’t matter;
they’ll do the snorting first.  And, besides, I could let on that not
all of them are in earnest.  Ain’t it possible that the one she loves
won’t ask her now, and she’s covering up her disappointment?  That would
make Rivaulx fairly howl, I know.  He’s a real good chap, and between
howling and weeping he says he wants her to be happy.  I’ll do it."

He went off to do it at once.

"Ha, ha, my beautiful boy," said the Marquis of Rivaulx, whom he found
in his rooms in Piccadilly, "have you come with news for me, the devoted
and despairing?"

"Well, I don’t know, marquis," returned Bob, soberly.  "I’ve been
thinking about it, and I’m in a state of puzzle."

"And I am in a state of the devil himself," replied Rivaulx.  "I suspect
every one.  I am enraged. I suspect you, Bob, my boy."

Bob shook his head.

"I suspect you, too.  I’ve never got over thinking that it may be you,"
he said, "for you are all just like each other, and it’s obvious some
one is telling me lies."

Rivaulx smiled, a deep and dark French smile, which was agonizing to
behold.  It puzzled Bob dreadfully.

"There," he said, "you smile, and so does Pen, and you all smile.  But I
believe I’ve discovered something."

"About who or which?" asked Rivaulx.  "Is it about that Goby?"

He might loathe Gordon, but he was jealous of Goby.  He promenaded the
room, and was already in a rage.

"Yes," said Bob, boldly.  "I believe she’s not married, and I believe
she likes him best."

"The hound, the vile one, the unmeasured beast," roared Rivaulx, "it
cannot be.  If she loves him (no, I can’t believe it), why does she not
wed him? I shall slay him.  Is she unhappy?  Does she weep? I adore her,
but if she loves him he shall marry her or I will stab him to the
heart."

"I dare say he’s not in earnest," said Bob.  And the marquis ground his
teeth and foamed at the mouth, and again tried to tear his close-cropped
hair without the least success.

"Not—oh, sacred dog of a man,—ha—let me kill him!"

He tore around the room and knocked two ornaments off the mantelpiece
and upset a table, which Bob laboriously restored to its place.  After
he had put it back three times, he gave it up and cowered under the
storm.

"I shouldn’t be surprised if this was put on," said Bob, rather
gloomily.  "I know he can act like blazes; Pen says he can.  She said he
was finer than Irving or Toole in a tragedy.  I don’t think it has the
true ring of sincerity."

And making his escape from the cyclone, he went off to see Goby, who was
hideously jealous of Carteret Williams.

"I hope he won’t be as mad as the marquis," said Bob.  "That table
barked my shins horribly the last time it fell.  I wish Frenchmen
wouldn’t shout so when they’re angry; I’m nearly deaf."

There was the devil to pay with Goby.  He announced his intention of
assaulting Williams at once.

"Oh, I say, you mustn’t," cried Bob, in great alarm.  "She’ll never
forgive you."

"That Williams!" said Goby.  "I always did hate war correspondents.  I
don’t believe it."

But it looked as if he did.

"I dare say you are putting it on," cried Bob. "I don’t know where I
am."

Goby said he didn’t, either, but that if this turned out to be true he
would wring Williams’s neck in the park the first fine Sunday in June.

"He would have acted just the same if he was married to her, and thought
she loved Williams best after all," said Bob to himself.  "I’ll try
Bramber and Williams, and then give it up."

Bramber was in a furious temper, and when Bob assured him that Penelope
loved Gordon best of any one, he swore horribly.  As he rarely swore,
this was very impressive, and Bob almost shivered.

"I say, you mustn’t kick Gordon," he urged. "After all, I may be
mistaken."

"I wish you were dead," said Bramber, "and you will be if you don’t get
out."

Bob got out, and when he was in the open air he sighed.

"I don’t think I’ll try Williams," he said, thoughtfully.  "He’s much
bigger and stronger even than Goby, and they say he’s a terror when he’s
very angry.  My scheme doesn’t seem to work; there’s something wrong
with it."

But there was nothing wrong with it, and it worked marvellously.  The
report that Bob said positively that Pen wasn’t married carried much
weight. Goby and Rivaulx both gave it away.  And all the men now loathed
each other openly.  Rivaulx cut Goby and Goby cut Williams and Bramber
sneered at Gordon, and there was great likelihood of there being the
devil to pay.  Pen tried to patch up peace among them, and failed, and
wept about it, seeing so much of the good she had done melt like sugar
in warm rain.  At last she announced her intention of leaving them and
the world alone.

"I almost think I’ll give up reform," she sighed.

And the season went by and the autumn came, and Titania found herself at
Goring in October with a large house-party which didn’t include
Penelope.

"She is, of course, somewhat ashamed of herself," said Titania, happily.
"This comes of having ideas and foolishly attempting to carry them into
practice.  Now that I am certain she is not married and that she only
says so, I feel quite different.  I no longer abhor the poor, foolish
men who are so much in love with her.  I see plainly (for I, too, am
naturally a democrat of the proper kind) that they have fine qualities.
I have marked my sense of this in a way which appears to amuse Lord
Bradstock for some reason that I do not follow,—but then, I never could
follow Augustin, poor fellow,—by asking them all down here.  I dare say
they think Penelope will come, for they have all accepted.  I am
delighted, for I really admire them.  Mr. Carew is the handsomest young
man in London, and will paint my portrait between meals. I wonder
whether I shall try to get thinner by eating less, or will it be better
to tell Mr. Carew to make me thinner in his picture.  That seems the
easiest course; for if Penelope’s conduct has not made me thin, what
would?  Neither hot weather nor despair has the least effect upon me.  I
shall trust to Mr. Carew’s idea of what is right and proper.  I wish I
could rely with equal confidence upon poor, dear, misguided Penelope."

There was much discontent in the camp when the lovers learnt that their
beloved was not one of Titania’s house-party.  They were not civil to
each other, and with difficulty were civil to Titania.

"Confound the old harridan," said Goby.  This was wicked, for Titania
was very sweet, and retained much more than a trace of her youthful
beauty.  She belonged to the modern band of those who sternly refuse to
grow old.

"Great Scott!" said Carteret Williams.  The others made equally
appropriate exclamations.  They damned Goring in heaps, and looked at
each other like a crowd of strange dogs.  Owing to Penelope’s influence
they all came in motor-cars.  Even De Vere turned up in one which was
guaranteed by age and its maker not to go more than ten miles an hour.
There wasn’t room to get them into the temporary garage out of the wet.
But the marquis did not come in a balloon or a flying-machine.  That was
something, at any rate, though Bob growled about it bitterly.  Pen’s
request that he should do his best to make the world believe she was
married was entirely forgotten.  Without quite meaning to say so, he
practically asserted in every word that she was not.

"After all," said Bob, "I believe she is capable of deceiving even me,
for she is a woman.  Horace, in his Odes, seems to think that.  It seems
to me that classical authors had a very poor opinion of women."

He went to Rivaulx crossly.

"I say, I think you ought to have come in a flying-machine.  Why didn’t
you?  Pen will be mad."

He introduced De Vere to Baker (who had been a sergeant in the Dublin
Fusiliers), and left him with him, discussing hydrophobia and bulldogs.

"Baker says he has a great admiration for you, sir," said Bob.  "He has
lots of pups for you to look at.  There’s a very queer spotted one that
Pen said she was sure you would like.  It’s very cheap for a spotted dog
of the kind, Baker says."

But they were an unhappy crowd, and even the shooting, which was fairly
good for a poor duke’s place, hardly consoled them.

At night the women, who all gambled, naturally were very cross.  It
appeared that not one of the men would play bridge, because Penelope had
made them swear off.  There were only three men in the house not in love
with Penelope.  Titania had a dreadful time, and much regretted her
hospitality. Carew was furious, of course, and his notions of colour
were very morbid.  And he appeared to see the duchess as she was, in
spite of the hints the poor woman threw out to the desperate painter,
who looked at her sorrowfully and sighed as he shook his head.

"Being painted is an ordeal," she said.  Not one of the others consoled
her.  De Vere wept with her in the drawing-room; Williams wrecked her
orchids in the hothouse; Plant and Gordon quarrelled in the
smoking-room.  And Bramber, who was only there for four days, looked
horridly sorry for himself, and sneered at every one.  The marquis went
around the park in a ninety-horse-power racer seventeen times between
breakfast and lunch.  The chauffeurs quarrelled furiously; they even
fought in the stable yard with Baker as umpire and Bob as timekeeper.

At the dinner-table was the only time of peace, and then it was too
peaceful.  Nobody but Bob and Ethel Mytton and Titania did any talking.
Bob spoke of very little but Penelope, which was natural but awkward.
He told them what Baker said, till they all desired to go out and
strangle Baker. Bradstock encouraged him, for Bradstock was the only man
there who had any apparent desire to be amused.  The rest of them played
with the soup, toyed with the _entrées_, fooled with the roasts, choked
over the birds, and went out and oversmoked themselves.  Then they met
in the big hall and the drawing-room, and Titania had to assure them all
one after the other, that she was certain Penelope was not married.

"Then why does she say she is?" they asked, bitterly.

"It must be to try you," said Titania.  "Augustin, don’t you think it is
to try them?"

Bradstock made that sound which the English write as "Humph" and the
Scotch put down as "Imphm."  It means a great deal, but is intelligible
to the intelligent.

"Yes, it is to try you," said Titania.  "She is a dear, sweet thing, but
has ideas which do not commend themselves to me.  I understand them, of
course, but regret them.  It may be, of course, that she does not love
any of you, and is trying to get out of it.  By and by you will find out
if that is so.  She is enthusiastic and impulsive.  Oh, these impulses
of youth!  How well I remember the delightful impulses of youth, when
one feels as if one could fly with wings!  Even now I get impulses.
Poor Penelope!  Ah, dear, I wish she would come.  I have written again
and again to ask her, but I’m afraid she will not."

And, indeed, no one at that moment knew where she was, unless, indeed,
it was Timothy and Geordie Smith and Miss Mackarness and the pirate in
goggles of the motor-car who carried her off.

Titania and Bob between them, at any rate, accomplished one thing.  No
one pretended to assign a satisfactory reason for Pen’s conduct, but
every one, except one, perhaps, believed she was still single.  They
were sure of it, and grew surer every day.  As a result, they recovered
some little peace of mind; they quarrelled less and ate more and shot
straighter. Rivaulx only went fifteen times around the park before
lunch; De Vere bought more dogs; Plant agreed to go into some scheme of
trust robbery with Gordon, who assured the rest of them that he had
Rothschild up his sleeve.  Williams stamped less on flower-beds and
swore half as much as usual.  Goby and Bramber went out walks together
with Bob and Ethel Mytton.  Titania’s barometer went up and her size
went down in Carew’s picture.  He saw her less yellow, and did not
insist on her wrinkles. Augustin sat in the library and read books which
were of so humourous a character that they compelled him to put them
down and laugh continually. It was certainly a most amusing house-party.

"I thought there would have been duels in the park," said Augustin.  "I
wonder what the deuce Pen would think of them if she saw them now."

And then one day something serious happened. It was on a Sunday, and on
Sundays the post came in at half-past ten, just at the time they were
all having breakfast before going to church.  They were just about as
happy as they could ever hope to be till Penelope married one or all of
them.  Bob, who was especially greedy that morning, was eating against
time and winning.  Only Ethel was sad, for Goby seemed quite cheerful.
When he was mournful she was happier always.  Titania flowed
wonderfully.  Augustin was saying the kind of thing he could say when
sitting down.  Goring himself was eating as if he was in rivalry with
Bob.  He never said anything, but looked like a duke, which is a very
fine thing when a man is a duke, and can afford it with care.  Gordon
was eating bacon as if he had no great appetite for it.

"Oh, here’s the post," said Titania.  Augustin took Saturday’s _Times_
and opened it.

"I wonder whether dear Penelope has written to me," said Titania.  The
"horde" looked up; they hoped even yet that Penelope would give in and
come at last.

"Any news?" grunted Goring.

"I don’t see any," replied Augustin.

"What are Jack Sheppard’s United?" asked Gordon, slipping a piece of
bacon into his pocket.

And Augustin made his celebrated speech over again, his single speech in
the House of Lords.

"Good God!" said Augustin, and he turned almost as white as the _Times_
paper before it went through the machines.  Every one stared at him.

"What is it?" screamed Titania.  Bob jumped up and deserted a pig’s
cheek just as it was showing signs of utter defeat.

"It’s—it’s—" said Augustin, and he stammered vainly.

"I say, let’s look," cried Bob.  "Granny, it’s something in the Births,
Marriages, and Deaths!"

"Good heavens, speak, Augustin!" implored Titania.

The band of lovers went as white as Augustin; they stood up
simultaneously.

"I see it, I see it," said Bob, and he actually snatched the paper from
Lord Bradstock’s hand.

"Is she married?  Is she dead?" asked Titania.

"No, no," said Bob, sputtering and aflame with wild excitement; "it’s
’Brading—Lady Penelope Brading on the 18th of a son!’"



                             *CHAPTER XIV.*


There are blows which stun; this was, of course, one of them.  Titania
did not shriek or faint at the awful intelligence conveyed by the
Thunderer of Printing House Square.  She nodded her head as if she was
partially paralyzed, and at last murmured in a dry whisper:

"Of a son!  Of a son!"

Bradstock’s eyebrows were as high as they would go, and he stared at
Titania, and then look around on the circle of men and women.  Ethel
squeaked a little squeak, like a mouse behind the wainscot and was
silent.

"Oh—of a son," said Goby, sighing and looking at the floor.

"Of a son!" said Plant, eyeing the ceiling.

"_Un fils!_" shrieked Rivaulx.

Gordon said "Damnation;" De Vere shook like a stranded jelly-fish;
Bramber went as scarlet as a lobster, and then as white as cotton;
Carteret Williams looked blue, and Carew looked green, and Bob said: "My
eye!"

There is something organic in any given number of people acting under
the same shock or the same impulse.  What one thinks another thinks; and
now all the room fixed their eyes on Titania, whose lips moved in
silence.

"This is dreadful!" said Titania to herself.  "I don’t believe she’s
married at all.  One of these men is a scoundrel, a ruffian, a seducer!"

No one heard what she said, but as she thought it the men looked at each
other with awful suspicions.  And then Titania, whose mind was whirling,
said feebly:

"We—we must hush it up!"

And there lay the _Times_!  Hush it up indeed! And Bradstock recovered
some of his equanimity.

"Nonsense!  She’s married, as she says," he remarked, with comparative
coolness.

But no one believed it.  The men drew apart from each other.  De Vere
moved his chair, because Goby was looking at him like a demon. Carew
shrank from Carteret Williams.  Gordon went livid under Plant’s eyes.
Bramber looked at them all as if he would die on the spot.  Rivaulx rose
up and waltzed around the room.  It was a happy chance that he did so;
it is possible that he saved immediate bloodshed.  Bradstock and Bob
caught the Frenchman in their arms, and led him outside to the lawn,
where there was ample room for a frantic _pas seul_.

"Steady, old chap!" said Bradstock, "steady! Her husband _must_
acknowledge now who he is!"

"Oh, no," said Bob, in immense delight, "not much!  If she’s married at
all, she’s sworn him not to.  She told me she’d swear him not to!  And
she said if he broke his oath she’d never see him again!"

"Great heavens!" said Bradstock, "so she did. I remember now, she _did_
speak of oaths, dreadful oaths!"

Rivaulx danced over a flower-bed, came in contact with a fence, fell
over it, and uttered a howl which brought every one into the garden.  He
tumbled into a ditch, fortunately a comparatively dry one, and lay
there, using the very worst French language.

The gloomy crowd lined the ditch and listened, and wished they
understood.  As a matter of fact, only Bradstock and Bramber knew
sufficient decent French to guess what Rivaulx said, and they shivered.
In the background Titania and Ethel hung to each other and wept; old
Goring remained inside sucking at an unlighted cigar.

"The terrible, terrible disgrace!" said Titania. She believed the very
worst at once.  "Is it the marquis?  Is he smitten with remorse?"

Rivaulx got out of the ditch on the wrong side, and walked out into the
park, where he addressed a commination service to a nice little herd of
Jersey cows.  After five minutes of this exercise, he returned toward
the house and climbed the fence. Then he shook his fist at the others.

"One of you is a _scélerat_," he howled, "a scoundrrrel!  I challenge
you all to fight!  Ha, ha!"

Bradstock took him by the arm and led him away.

"One of us is a hound!" said Goby.

"Yes," said the others, "yes!"

They glared at each other horribly, and clenched their fists.  Bob ran
around them in the wildest excitement.

"Look here, I say, Captain Goby.  Oh, Mr. de Vere!  I say, Mr. Plant, if
you want to fight, come into the stables.  Granny says you mustn’t fight
here."

He grabbed several of them, and was hurled into space at once.  He
finally laid hold of De Vere, who wasn’t capable of hurling a ladybird
off his finger.

"You shall fight Goby if you want to," he roared.

[Illustration: THE MARQUIS DE RIVAULX. Anti-Semite to his manicured
finger-tips]

"But I don’t want to," shrieked the poet. "What shall I do?  My heart is
broken!"

"Oh, what rot!" said Bob.  "I don’t understand what the row is about.
Pen said she married, and she’s got a kid.  It will make her happy, for
she always loved kids."

But then the notice in her maiden name!  Was it not awful, horrible,
brazen, peculiar, anti-social, against all law?  It was wicked, immoral,
indecent. Behind it there must be a dreadful story.

"By God!" said Bradstock, speaking at large to all but Rivaulx, who was
breaking up a cane chair at a short distance, "I do think, oaths or
none, that the man who is married to her should tell the duchess in
confidence."

But Rivaulx heard in the intervals of destruction, and stayed his hand.

"Ha, ha!" he said aloud, "I love her!  I am a man!  I love her!  What
shall I do?"

He threw the fragments of the chair into a fountain, kicked over a
flower-pot, and ran again into the park, taking the fence in his stride.

"I believe it’s remorse," said Titania.  "I begin to suspect the
marquis!"

But everybody suspected everybody, and yet at the very height of their
rage what Bradstock said sank into their hearts.  Pen had selected them
with care for their inherent nobility.  They said to themselves that
they would show how noble they were. With one accord they straightened
themselves up, and an air of desperate resolve was upon every man’s
face.

"I will think it out and make up my mind this afternoon," said each of
them.  They walked away in different directions, and in five minutes not
one of them was in sight but the marquis, who was knocking his head
against a sapling in a way that caused the herd of Jerseys to revise
their estimate of humanity.  Even he gave up at last, and went off into
the distance with great strides.

"I say," said Bob, "I don’t know what to make of this.  Where are they
going, and what are they going to do?  I wish I knew where Pen is; I’d
send her a telegram."

The rest of the party said nothing.  Titania wept. Old Goring asked
Bradstock for a light, and at last got his cigar going.  He said nothing
whatsoever. Ethel Mytton was in a fearful state of nervousness, and
shook with it.  Bradstock walked up and down whistling.  The men who
were not in it gathered in the billiard-room, and said they thought they
had better have urgent calls to town.  They wanted to discuss the
scandal in their clubs.  They knew that there wasn’t a house in England
that would not consider their presence in the light of a tremendous
favour, considering all that had occurred at Goring while they were
there.  They went, and regretted it afterward, for much occurred that
very afternoon that no man could have foreseen.

Not a soul came in to lunch but Bob and Bradstock and the old duke.

"Augustin, my boy," said Goring, "these are surprising events, very
surprising events.  I thought I understood something about women, but I
find I’m as ignorant as a two-year-old.  What the devil does Penelope
mean?"

Bob intervened.

"I believe, grandfather, that she wants to make you all sit up," he
said, eagerly.

"Shut up, Bob," said the duke.  "Eat pie and hold your tongue.
Augustin, is she married, or isn’t she?"

"I’m sure of it," said Bradstock, "but—"

"I think it’s a damn silly business," said the duke.  "I can’t remember
any parallel except when Miss Wimple, who was a devilish pretty girl
fifty years ago, married Prince Scharfskopf morganatically, and kept it
dark in spite of twins.  There was a devil of a fuss, but it was kept
quiet, no announcements in papers, and so on.  The emperor boxed
Scharfskopf’s ears in court when it came out, for it upset his
diplomatic apple-cart, as Scharfskopf was to have married Princess
Hedwig of Wigstein.  She was virtuous and particular, and made trouble,
being thirty-five.  Do you think Penelope has married any damn prince,
for instance?"

Bradstock didn’t think so.

"Was any prince sneaking about, eh?"

"Oh, I say," cried Bob, who was listening eagerly, "there was the Rajah
of Jugpore!"

"Good heavens!" said Goring, "so there was. I say, Bradstock, what have
you to say to that? I’d like to have a look at the infant.  Damme, it’s
a wonderful world!"

And this bore its fruit afterward in scandal and conjecture, for Bob
threw out hints about it.  But in the meantime they could only talk, and
presently they saw the marquis coming across the lawn.  He kept on
stopping and looking up at the sky, as if for help or a balloon, and he
smote his breast repeatedly in a very peculiar fashion.

"Queer cuss, Rivaulx," said Goring.  "Takes it hard.  Give me a light,
Bob.  Look at the Johnny smiting himself in the chest.  What’s he
thinking of now?  Looks as if he was bound upon a desperate deed.  Dear
me, I hope there will be no bloodshed, Bradstock!  I’m too old for
bloodshed now.  I won’t have duels in the immediate neighbourhood of the
house, Bradstock, mind that."

"All right," said Augustin, still looking at Rivaulx gesticulating
violently in front of a large laurestinus.  "Bob, give me those
glasses."

Through the glass Rivaulx’s face was plain to see.

"Damn!" said Augustin to himself, "what’s up?  He’s going to do
something, something desperate.  He is looking like a hero on a
scaffold. He has an air of sad nobility.  Oh, Pen, Pen!"

Rivaulx advanced on the house with his head up.  He came in and sent
word to the collapsed duchess that he desired most humbly an audience
with her.  Bob listened.

"He wanted to see granny," said Bob.

"Let him," said the duke.  "I don’t; I want peace."

Titania sent down word that she would see him.

"Poor sad Penelope, poor mournful Penelope!" said Rivaulx.  "Ha, but I
will save her from further woe!"

He found Titania on a sofa, and he kissed her hand.  This pleased poor
Titania; it reminded her of her youth.

"Oh, marquis, I am in despair!" she cried.

"Despair not," said Rivaulx, as he stood up and smote his forehead,
"despair not.  All is not lost.  But for me, I stand between two
dreadful alternatives, and I have resolved to do my duty."

There was an air of tragedy about him that covered him like a robe.
Titania shivered.

"What is it?  What have you to tell me?"

"Ah, what!" cried Rivaulx.  "But I shall do it.  I shall do it at once,
immediately, if not sooner, as your poet says."

"You won’t kill any one, at least not here," shrieked Titania.

"Far from it," replied the marquis.  "Oh, but it is terrible, for I have
to smash, to break an oath. I swore not to reveal what I am about to
reveal."

"Good heavens!" said Titania.  "Oh, what? Is it—can it be—no—"

"Yes, yes," cried Rivaulx, "it is true; I own it!"

"Own what, marquis?"

He smote his breast and looked above her.

"I am the man!"

"Oh, what man?" squealed the duchess.

"I am the husband—and—and—the father," said Rivaulx, with a gulp, as if
he were swallowing an apple whole.

"Of my Penelope?"

"Yes, yes," said the marquis.  "Say nothing. It is a secret, full of
oaths.  Why, I know not, but she, the dear, insists, and what am I?"

Titania lay and gasped.  The relief was tremendous.  Three hours ago she
would have refused to think of Rivaulx as Pen’s husband.  Now she
welcomed the notion; she sighed and almost fainted.  Rivaulx muttered
strange things to himself.

"Can I announce it?"

"No," said the marquis, "it is a secret.  But it is all right.  I go."

"Take my blessing," said Titania.  "Go to her quickly, poor dear, and
implore her to let me come to her, and bid her tell all the world.  What
is her address?"

"I cannot give it," said Rivaulx, pallidly.  "It is a secret.  But I go,
I hasten.  Adieu, duchess; I am distracted.  Oh, my mother and my
country!"

He fled from the room, and, leaving his man to bring on his things, went
away at an illegal speed toward London.

"Well, well," said Titania, with a gasp, "I cannot understand anything.
But, after all, the marquis is a fine man and of a good family.  I could
almost sleep a little."

But just as she was composing herself to rest, Mr. Plant sent up word
that he wished to see her for a few moments on urgent business before he
went back to town.

"Let him come up," said the duchess.  When Plant entered, he stood bolt
upright in front of her, with a strange air of determination.

"I shall surprise you, I reckon," he said, in an American accent as
thick as petrol fumes.  "I know I shall."

"No, you won’t," said Titania.  "Nothing can surprise me now, I assure
you."

"I shall surprise you, ma’am," said Plant, "and you’ll have to own it.
Prepare yourself and remember that what I tell you is in the nature of a
secret.  I can stand it no longer.  I have to let it out.  To hear Lady
Penelope, whom I adore, spoken of as I do, makes my blood boil.  She may
have made some mistakes, but I’ve made some, too. I am going to surprise
you—"

"No, you are not, Mr. Plant," said Titania.

"I—I am Lady Penelope’s husband," said Plant, desperately, fixing his
eyes on space.

"You are _what_?" shrieked Titania.

"Her husband—and—the parent of the announcement in the _Times_," said
Plant, firmly.

"Am I mad?" asked Titania.

"No, but I am," said Plant, who was as pale as a traditional ghost.
"I’m mad both ways.  I want to kill."

"You mustn’t," cried Titania, feebly.  "I don’t know where I am.  What
did you say?  Oh, say it again!"

He said it again, and before she could say anything further, he rushed
from the room and bounded down-stairs.  She heard him turn his motor-car
loose, and knew that in twenty seconds he was a mile away.

"What’s wrong with everything, and me, and them?" asked Titania.  "I
wish I was a dairy-maid in a quiet farm, and had no relations.  Am I
mad?  Did the marquis say it?  Or did I dream it?"

Lord Bramber was announced.

"Oh, oh, oh!" said Titania.  "Yes, I’ll see him."

Bramber came in fuming, and, like the others, fixed his eyes over her
head.  He was nervous and abrupt.

"I can’t stand any more, duchess," he began.

"I can’t stand much," said Titania.

"It’s a secret of course," said Bramber, "and I’m breaking my word!"

"Are you the husband of Penelope?" asked Titania.

"I—I am," replied Bramber, "and the cause, so to speak, of the notice in
the _Times_."

"I thought so," said Titania.  "Look at me, Ronald.  Do I look mad? does
my hair stand on end? do I seem wild and wandering?"

"No, of course not," said Bramber.  "I’m telling you this because I feel
I ought to.  Now I’m going to her at once.  This last news was rather
unexpected, of course.  Good-bye—"

"Stay!" shrieked Titania, but she was too late. Bramber was down-stairs
and bounded into his motor-car and let her rip.

"What’s the matter with everybody?" wailed Titania.  "The marquis made
me happy, but now I’m confused, very sadly confused, and I can’t think
she’s married them all."

Gordon was announced, and in about three sentences he told her that,
though the affair was a secret, he was Penelope’s husband.

"I knew you were," said Titania.  "When I heard you wanted to see me, I
knew you were coming to say so.  Oh, good-bye.  Ask Lord Bradstock to
send for a doctor.  Good-bye, Mr. Gordon. Go now."

And Gordon went, just as De Vere came in.

"You have come to say you have married Penelope, I _know_," said
Titania.  "I feel sure you have."

"I have a heart for sorrow, for disgrace, for all things lovely.  I—I am
responsible for everything, even the _Times_," said De Vere, who was as
pale as plaster.

"Leave me," said Titania.  "Go and see her at once.  Settle who it is.
Go!"

And when he had gone, Carteret Williams and Carew came one after the
other with the same confession.  And she received them sadly, and
appeared to wander.  When the house was empty, she sent for Bradstock.

"Augustin, dear Augustin," she said, "you won’t let them put me in an
asylum.  Have me taken care of at home, won’t you?  Don’t let Goring
give me cruel keepers.  I am quite gentle and broken down!"

"I won’t let anything beastly be done," said Bradstock.  "But, my dear
child, what’s the matter?"

And Titania told him:

"By the Lord," said Bradstock, "they are damned good chaps! but where
the devil are we?"

He went down-stairs when the doctor came and told everything to Goring.
And Goring told Bob. For Titania forgot to mention to Augustin that all
the husbands had insisted it was a dead secret.

"I say," said Bob, "of all the larks I’ve ever heard of, this takes the
cake!  I wonder what I ought to do.  I think I’ll ask Baker."

And he asked Baker.  And in less than twenty-four hours the world knew
all about it.



                             *CHAPTER XV.*


But when it is said that all the world knew of it, Penelope herself must
be excepted.  She knew nothing for some time, and, whoever her husband
was, he certainly never acquainted her with the horrible details of all
the good men who sacrificed their honour in the noble attempt to save
her from the results of the terrible misfortune they believed had
happened to her.  It was, indeed, Miss Mackarness who told her about it,
and Miss Mackarness was the old governess whom Penelope had once sacked
and sent away.  The poor woman was in a terrible state of mind about the
affair, and in that was no different from all the rest of the world. To
her went Timothy Bunting with the strange story.

"If you please, ma’am, Geordie Smith ’as just brought in a paper wiv a
true and pertic’ler account of ’ow all the gents that was courtin’ our
lady told the Duchess of Goring as ’ow they ’as married ’er!"

"What!" said Miss Mackarness.

"A true and perticuler account as ’ow they ’ad hall married our lady,
sayin’ as they ’ad concealed it till they could no longer!" repeated
Timothy more loudly.

"Good heavens!" said Miss Mackarness, trembling very much, "I fear it
will upset Lady Penelope, to say nothing of the infant.  Do they all
claim the infant, Bunting?"

"I presume so, ma’am," said Bunting.  "It looks likely."

"Under these circumstances, Bunting," cried Miss Mackarness, "I feel it
is my duty to communicate the facts to our lady.  Give me the paper,
Bunting!"

Bunting said he would get it, and came back with a hatful of fragments.

"If you please, ma’am, this is hall I can rescue of the details.  The
cook and the parlour-maid and the two ’onsemaids ’ave fought over it in
the servants’ ’all, and are now in tears, not ’aving read a word."

And Miss Mackarness took the hatful up to Penelope, who sat with her
nurse and the cause of all the trouble in a south room overlooking the
moat.

"In the name of all that is wonderful, what’s in that hat?" asked
Penelope.

"It is Timothy Bunting’s hat, my lady," replied the Mackarness.

"So I perceive," said Penelope.  "Is a bird in it?"

"Oh, no, my lady.  It’s the bits of a newspaper," replied the
housekeeper, as if she served up the _Times_ in a groom’s hat every day.
"It’s Timothy’s hat, but a clean new one."

"But why do you bring it, and why do you put newspaper in it?" asked
Penelope.

"If you please, my lady, I cannot help it.  The cook and the
parlour-maid and the two housemaids fought over it in the servants’
hall, and are now in tears, not having read a word of it."

To all appearance the housekeeper had lost her senses.  Though this was
no wonder, Penelope wondered at it.

"Well," she said at last, "I see what’s in the hat, but what’s in the
newspaper?"

"If you please, my lady, according to Timothy Bunting and Smith, who
appear to have read it, it contains the true account of what happened at
Goring House the other day, when all the gentlemen staying there,
hearing from the _Times_ that your ladyship had a fine boy on the
eighteenth, and no husband named by your ladyship’s particular
directions, all got up one after the other, and, requesting private
interviews with her upset Grace, the duchess, declared upon their oaths,
though in secret, that they had married you themselves!"

She recited this in a strange, mechanical way, which would have been
extremely effective upon the stage, as a picture of hopeless
conventionality wounded to death, and at last dying in sheer
indifference to all things.

"Dear me!" said Penelope, "dear me!"

"It furthermore appears, my lady, begging your pardon for mentioning it,
and I have reproved Bunting bitterly for daring to do so, though I
haven’t read the fragments in the hat, that no one believes your
ladyship’s word at all as to your being married."

"Oh, how shameful!" said Penelope.  "Why, here’s baby!"

The nurse coughed and hid her mouth with her hand.

"Yes, my lady, so he is," said Miss Mackarness. "There doesn’t seem any
doubt whatsoever about that, but—"

And Penelope sighed.  Suddenly her face lighted up.

"Ah!" she said, "I see why they said it to aunty.  How very, very noble
of them!  I knew they were all splendid men; men of the highest
character and attainments and possibilities.  Will you have telegrams
written out to all of them, saying, ’Your conduct is noble, and I am
deeply grateful’?"

"Yes, my lady," replied the housekeeper, "and how will you sign it?"

"Sign it Penelope Brading," said Penelope. "And tell Smith to take his
car as quickly as he can to Spilsborough, and send them from there."

She lay back in her pillows.

"They are noble fellows," she said.  "I have done them an immense amount
of good.  A year ago not one of them could have risen to such heights of
abnegation, such love, such tenderness.  I shall see them bringing in a
new era yet.  Leopold Gordon will inaugurate a new and pure finance.
The dear marquis will abolish anti-Semitism and duelling in France.  De
Vere will write poems of a purity appealing equally to Brixton and
Belgravia, and my dear friend Carew will vindicate the Royal Academy’s
policy of showing that charity begins at home.  And the rest—ah, me!
Poor dear aunty, how I love her!"

And by the time that she had pondered over a renewed world, Geordie
Smith was sending off the wires from Spilsborough with wonderful
results.

"I like this," said Smith.  "This is what I like! There’s nothing dull
about it.  I wonder what’ll happen now?  I’ll lay five to one I can
guess!"

He guessed right as to some, for in about four hours Rufus Plant arrived
in Spilsborough on his racing-car, and put up at the Grand Hotel.

"I guess she must be somewhere in this neighbourhood," said Plant.  "And
here I stay till I find her.  And by the tail of the sacred bull,
whatever happens, I’ll marry her right here in this hyer noble pile of a
cathedral.  And if she’ll do it, I’ll restore it for the authorities
free of charge, till it’s as gawdy as a breastpin and right up to date."

He ran against Gordon, and the two men fell back in horrible surprise.

"You—"

"You!"

"Oh, yes," said Plant, "I’m here on business connected with the
cathedral."

"And I’m to see the—bishop, who will join the board on allotment,"
mumbled Gordon.

And then Goby roared into town on his motorcar. The others saw him, and
he saw them, and ignored them palely.  He, too, put up at the Grand, but
never spoke to them.  And De Vere came in while they were at dinner, and
sat down opposite to Goby.  He said, "Oh!" and, rising, at once bolted
from the table.

"I’m damned," said Goby, and he lost his appetite.

"How many more of us?" they asked themselves.

They looked up at every one who entered.

"Bramber will be in any moment," said Plant.

Poor De Vere sat in his bedroom and was ill.

"If I look out into the corridor, I know I shall see that beast
Williams," he sobbed.

"Where’s that French fool, Rivaulx?" asked Gordon.  They all believed
the other was the scoundrel of the dreadful drama.

And then the evening papers came in.  They declared in big lines that
there had been "A Fracas in High Life."  They added that it had taken
place in the Row at four o’clock that very afternoon. They went on to
say that Lord Bramber and the Marquis de Rivaulx, well known as a great
sportsman and a balloonist, had fought in a flower-bed, and had been
torn from each other’s arms and a big rhododendron by two dukes, three
earls, and a viscount.  They further declared that it was a matter of
public notoriety that all the trouble rose out of the mystery connected
with the _Times_ and Lady Penelope Brading.  They promised more details
in later editions.

"They’ll fight," said Gordon, savagely.  "I hope they’ll kill each
other.  But especially I hope that the marquis will be killed first and
most!"

And about eleven o’clock Rivaulx turned up with his chauffeur and a bad
black eye.

"He shall fight me here," said Rivaulx.  "This is a quiet town.  No one
will think of Spilsborough!  He does not know that _she_ sent me a
telegram from here!"

He put up at the Angel, and escaped seeing the others for the time.  On
his way up he had sent a defiant telegram to Bramber, desiring him to
come to Spilsborough, and fight there with swords or pistols or any
weapon that commended itself to him. This telegram Bramber never got,
for, on reaching home and washing away the traces of the struggle in
Hyde Park before all the loveliness of London, he had found his telegram
from Spilsborough sent by Geordie Smith.  After looking in the ABC
guide, and finding no good train, he pelted off in his motor-car,
leaving a note for Rivaulx, saying that, though duels were absurd and
illegal, he would not refuse to meet the marquis in France or Belgium,
if he desired to make a bigger fool of himself than he had already done
in the park.

"Curse and confound them all," said Bramber, who was horribly cross and
exceedingly sick of the whole world, even including Penelope.  "I wonder
what she means by this telegram.  I wish I was dead!  Is she at
Spilsborough?"

Just in the middle of Spilsborough he met Rivaulx and pulled up short,
not having the least notion, of course, that he would meet him there.
But Rivaulx grinned a ghastly smile and raised his hat, as Bramber
stopped.

"Ha, I am pleased to see you," said the French marquis.  "You have come
quickly.  It is a fine night, there is a moon, and close by here under
the shadow of the cathedral there is a most beautiful piece of grass.
There we will fight.  I have brought swords with me.  Or have you
brought guns?"

"I haven’t brought guns," said Bramber, who was entirely stunned and at
a loss for a word.

The marquis bowed.

"We will fight with swords, my lord.  I think this hotel is good; the
lady is amiable; there are rooms to spare.  When the moon rises, ha!  I
will call you forth."

And Bramber went to the hotel to think what he should do.

"The ass! the lunatic!  How did he get here? I can’t get out of fighting
him."

He sat outside in his car.

"No, I won’t.  I’m damned if I do!" he said.

He went in and wrote a note for Rivaulx, who was out in the cathedral
close picking what he considered a good place for a duel.  The spot he
chose was not far from the dean’s house.

"I wish it had been Mr. Plant," he said.  "Of Bramber, who is a young
ass, I am not jealous. But of Plant I am horribly jealous, and he is a
bad man.  If I met Plant I would say, ’Fight me at once now, and I will
put off Lord Bramber till another day.’"

And, going around the corner, he ran right into Plant, who was raging
about the town, wondering where Penelope was and how everything was
going to end.

"The scoundrel is that marquis," said Plant. And he ran into the
scoundrel’s arms.

And just while Bramber was shaking the dust of Spilsborough from the
tires of his motor-car, Bob himself came into the town in a hired
Daimler, full of the most extraordinary news.  And Titania was having a
series of fits down at Goring, with Dr. Lumsden Griff in attendance.



                             *CHAPTER XVI.*


It cannot be imagined that Titania, who had survived so many shocks, was
ill for nothing.  When Bob discovered what she was ill of, he stood
outside on the lawn with his hands deep in his pockets and with his legs
wide apart.

"I must tell ’em this at once," said Bob, gloomily. "If I don’t tell
Gordon, he’ll forget he’s invested a hundred of mine in something to
make hair curl, and I shall lose the money.  I mean to make money to
keep up Goring by and by.  And he said he’d make me a director, too.
For the sake of the family, I can’t neglect him.  Or De Vere, either.
Or any of ’em.  But—but I never thought it of Pen!"

With his pockets full of money derived from the sale of dogs to De Vere,
he rushed off to the station and caught a train for town.  When he
reached London, he sent a wire to "Old Guth."

"I’m in town on important business.  Break it to grandmother between
fits.  I hope to be back to-morrow."

He rushed off to Park Lane to find Gordon.

"Mr. Gordon has gone to Spilsborough, sir," said Gordon’s man.

"D—  I mean confound it!" said Bob.  He went to Plant’s.

"Mr. Plant went to Spilsborough in a great hurry this afternoon, sir,"
said Plant’s landlady. The American millionaire still lived in
Bloomsbury, though not on ten shillings a week.

"Oh," said Bob, "I wonder what this means. There’s a secret here!"

He drove in a hansom to find Bramber.  A very ingenuous piece of
humanity in buttons told Bob that Lord Bramber came in about four
o’clock torn to ribbons, and found a telegram waiting him.

"And off he went in his motor-car."

"Where?" asked Bob.

"I don’t know," said the buttons.  But on Bob’s going to Bramber’s room,
he found the ABC open on the table at the page with Spilsborough on it.

"Sherlock Holmes would say he has gone to Spilsborough," cried Bob.
"And if Gordon and Plant have gone there, too, I’ll bet all the rest
have gone.  I’ll go, too."

But there was no train for three hours!

"I’m done," said Bob, "No, I’m not.  I’ll hire a motor-car."

He went to the nearest place in Regent Street and hired one.

"Very well, sir," said the man, "but it’s rather expensive, you know."

Bob pulled out a handful of sovereigns.

"Take as many as you think fair," he said, grandly.  "And don’t forget I
want a speedy one, and a man that can drive, and I’ll pay the fines of
course!"

That was how he came to Spilsborough just in time and about the hour
when the moon was to rise.  He passed a motor-car in the ditch about ten
miles out of the cathedral city, and did not stop to find out what was
the matter.  He thus missed the discovery that Bramber and his chauffeur
were both sitting upon the wreck, using very awful language to each
other on the subject of losing the way and coming bolt down a side road
into the opposing hedge.  It is astonishing how an accident at thirty
miles an hour brings owners and mechanics down to the same human level.

When Bob reached Spilsborough, he was covered with dust, but was as spry
as a grasshopper and awfully full of his news.

"You _can_ drive," said Bob to his man.  "I’m very much pleased with
you.  Stop at this hotel."

He went into the Angel, and staggered blithely to the office.

"Is Mr. Gordon here, or Mr. Plant, or the Marquis of Rivaulx?" he
demanded.

He thus discovered the marquis.

He drove off to the Grand, and found Plant and Goby and De Vere and
Gordon were there.  They were all in bed but Plant, and Plant had gone
to see the cathedral by moonlight.

"All right, we’ll put up here," said Bob, "and I’ll see if I can find
Plant.  I say, I wonder what Baker will think of this?  It beats me!"

He got to the cathedral precincts just about an hour after Rivaulx and
Plant had run into each other’s arms.  Much had occurred since then.

For Rivaulx started back from Plant and almost forgot the existence of
Bramber.

"You are a scoundrrrel," said Rivaulx, rolling his r’s in the most
fearful manner.

"You are a lunatic," replied Plant, coolly; "when did you escape?"

"I have not escaped, I am here," snorted Rivaulx, "but you shall not
escape.  I meant to kill Lord Bramber upon this spot, but I prefer to
keel you.  I let him go; he is nothing.  You are the scoundrrel!"

"Oh, dry up!" said Plant, crossly.  "You tire me, you fatigue me very
much.  I am exhausted by looking at you.  Go home, or I will break you
in three pieces and eat them!"

Rivaulx foamed at the mouth.

"Do you refuse to fight me, sare?"

"Certainly not," said Plant.  "Take your coat off and hang it on a
tombstone, and I’ll leave nothing of you but a smear."

"I do not fight with fists," said Rivaulx, contemptuously.  "I fight
with swords, with steel, with guns or pistols."

Plant shook his head.

"I’ve none of ’em about me, my son!"

"At the hotel I have swords," cried Rivaulx, eagerly.  "I brought them
to kill Bramber, who punched my eye in the Rotten Row, and we rolled in
bushes.  But I will first fight you.  Wait and I fetch the swords."

He ran violently into the darkness, and Plant sat on a railing.

"What am I to do?  Am I to wait and fight a lunatic?  Or shall I go back
to the hotel?  I think I’ll go back.  If that raging idiot is found
prancing about here with swords, they will run him in."

But he did not know how fast the marquis could run and how near the
hotel was.  Before he had made up his mind to go, Rivaulx came back
again. He flung the swords at Plant’s feet.

"Take one and let us begin," he said.

"I think on the whole I’ll have both," said Plant, suiting the action to
the word.  "Now go home, marquis, like a good little boy, and come to
the Grand Hotel in the morning and tell me why you want to be hanged in
England."

He put both the weapons under his arm.

"You will not fight?" said the marquis, gasping like a dying dolphin.

"What kind of a galoot do you reckon me?" asked Plant, quite
unintelligibly.

"Ha!" said the marquis, "I know not what a galoot is, but I will fight
you here and leave your body on the grass."

Neither of them had observed the approach of a portly and pleasant
gentleman behind them.  He was now leaning upon the railing, watching
them with a great deal of kindly curiosity.

"I think, gentlemen, that the dean will object," he said at length, and
they both turned around suddenly.

"You must not interfere," said Rivaulx; "we do not know you."

[Illustration: RUFUS Q. PLANT. Born in Virginia]

"To be sure, to be sure," replied the gentleman, who was dressed very
curiously, as Rivaulx noticed. "I hate interfering, especially with
anything belonging to a dean.  Deans, gentlemen, are very touchy about
matters connected with their cathedrals.  Now Dean Briggs, gentlemen,
takes the very greatest care of that grass on which you both are now
illegally trampling, and I understand that he has made a rule never to
have duels upon it. He is very firm on that point.  Do I mistake you if
I say that it looks to an unprejudiced observer as if you were going to
fight a duel?"

Rivaulx bowed.

"I do not know you, sare, and I do not want to. I want to keel this man,
who is a scoundrrel."

The stranger addressed Plant.

"And are you equally anxious to break this very rigid rule of the
dean’s?" he asked, suavely.

"Certainly not," replied Plant; "I want to go to bed."

"I am delighted to hear it.  I am intensely gratified to hear it.  If
one duellist, having possession of both deadly weapons, desires to go to
bed, I cannot see anything to hinder him, unless, indeed, he wants to
lie down on Mr. Dean’s grass.  You see, gentlemen, I am a bishop, and a
bishop’s first desire is to be on good terms with the dean.  If Mr. Dean
heard that I encouraged any one to break his rules about duelling or
going to bed in the precincts of this cathedral, I should _not_ be on
good terms with him, I assure you."

"I do not understand," said Rivaulx.  "I want to fight, that is all I
want to do!"

"Stay!" said the bishop, mildly.  "If the somewhat excited gentleman,
who is, I gather, not an Englishman, will accompany me a few yards, we
will go to the dean’s, with whom I have been dining, and will refer the
matter to him."

"Of course," said Plant, "that is the right thing to do.  Marquis, his
lordship the bishop suggests the only course open to gentlemen.  I trust
you will accept his offer, and, if you do, I undertake to fight you if
the dean gives his permission."

"Stay, sare, my lord the bishop," said Rivaulx, "one moment, sare, the
bishop.  Is this dean of whom you speak a gentleman?"

"Certainly, certainly," replied the bishop, hastily. "He is of the
highest breeding, and in his youth he fenced like a fencing-master."

"Then he understands the code of honour, sare the bishop?"

"Absolutely, for a dean," replied his lordship.

"Then I agree, sir lord," cried Rivaulx.

"Ha, we will go to his house, then," said the bishop, "if you will step
over this railing.  But stop here one moment and observe the moon rising
over Mr. Dean’s cathedral.  Is it not a peaceful, pleasant spot,
gentlemen?"

"It beats thunder," said Plant.

"It does, it does," nodded his lordship.  "Many Americans, who admire
this cathedral immensely, have made the same acute observation.  May I
ask your names, gentlemen?  I am the bishop of this diocese."

"My name is Plant, Rufus Q. Plant, and my friend is the Marquis of
Rivaulx."

"Indeed," returned the bishop, "is the gentleman the French nobleman who
is interested in balloons?"

"Yes," said Plant.

"Dear me!  I am delighted," said his lordship. "I, too, am interested in
balloons.  I saw one go up once."

"You like them?" asked Rivaulx, warmly. "That is good!  I will take you
up in one."

"We will talk of it later," said the bishop, rather hastily for a man of
his gentle flowing speech. "But this is the dean’s house.  If I knock at
this window, he will put his head out."

He knocked at the window, and Mr. Dean did put his head out.

"I am _so_ loath to disturb you, Mr. Dean," said his lordship, "but, as
I was leaving you and taking a little stroll before retiring, I met two
gentlemen, one from the United States and one a French marquis, who were
engaged in a warm discussion on a point of honour.  I am ignorant of the
exact point, and I dare say there is no necessity for our knowing.  As a
result of this discussion, the French marquis desired to fight a duel
with swords (you will observe them under the arm of the gentleman from
the United States), and I ventured to intervene, as the duel was to take
place upon your grass."

"Humph, indeed!" said the dean, in great astonishment. "And what did you
say?"

"I said that it was against your rules to allow any one to fight duels
there.  Was I not right?"

"Rather!" said the dean.  "I should say so."

"And on the other hand," continued the bishop, "the gentleman from
across the Atlantic wished to go to bed."

"Then why the—why doesn’t he?" asked the dean.

"It seemed to me that the gentleman from across the water wanted to go
to bed upon your grass," said the bishop.  "I pointed out to him that
there was a very old and strict rule dating from the time beyond record
which forbade this.  Was I not right?"

"You were," said the dean.  "I never go to bed on the grass myself, and
do not permit others to do so.  I never fight duels there, either, and
do not allow it."

"You see, gentlemen," said the bishop, but before he could add another
word Bob rushed right upon the group outside the dean’s windows, and saw
that Plant made one of them.  He saw the swords also, and then
recognized Rivaulx.

"Oh, I say," said Bob, "you were going to fight a duel about Pen!  I’ve
come in time!  It’s no good. She has married Timothy Bunting, her
groom!"



                            *CHAPTER XVII.*


It was such an awful shock to Plant and Rivaulx, and, for the matter of
that, to his lordship the Bishop of Spilsborough, that they all gasped
dreadfully. Plant took the bishop by the sleeve.  Rivaulx lay down upon
the grass under the dean’s window, and howled as he tore at the turf.
The dean said:

"I’ll come out!  This is becoming serious!"

He came out, and, as he opened the door, the light of the hall lamp fell
upon Bob’s face.

"Good heavens!" said the bishop, "I thought I knew the voice.  Is that
you, Robert Goring?"

Bob said it was, but added that he didn’t know the bishop.

"Boy, I christened you," said the bishop.  "Is all this trouble about
Penelope Brading, whom I also christened?"

"Yes," replied Bob; "shall I tell you about it?"

"Let us retire a few paces, and you can tell me," said the bishop.  "In
the meantime, Mr. Dean, I beg you to exercise patience with the French
nobleman on the grass.  Come, Bob."

"Well, it’s awful rot, you know," said Bob, speaking very rapidly.  "We
don’t know where we are in the family, and grandmother is lying on a
sofa screaming."

"Why, Bob?"

"You must have heard of it."

The bishop had heard a great deal, but not all.

"Pen says she’s married and has a kid," said Bob, "and she won’t say who
it is.  And all these jossers, including Plant, he’s the American over
there, and the marquis chewing the grass, said they had married her
themselves.  Do you see, sir,—my lord, I mean?"

"I see," said the bishop, putting his finger-tips together.  "It was, I
think, very noble of them."

"But granny said it was very trying, and it made her ill, for she wasn’t
any further than before, unless Pen had married them all.  And
grandfather, who kept cool, said that was unlikely."

"It certainly seems unlikely," said the bishop. "But when you came to
us, you made some very astonishing remarks about a groom, one Bunting, I
think.  Now what is there to know about him?"

"Weekes said that, the beast!" cried Bob.

"Who is the beast Weekes?" asked the bishop.

Bob told him who Miss Harriet Weekes was.

"And not an hour after these had said they were married to Pen, this
Weekes woman came in black and in a cab and said she must see granny.
And granny saw her, and is now in fits, with the doctor feeling her
pulse and giving her brandy.  For Weekes was very solemn (I listened),
and she said: ’Your Grace, I shall reveal the truth, which lies upon my
bosom like a tombstone.  Her ladyship treated me cruel, and gave me the
sack moreover, and I’ve no call to be silent no more ’avin’ diskivered
the truth.’  She talks like that.  Weekes is an uneducated beast, and
why Pen ever had her as a maid I can’t tell.  And granny was confused
with the others, having said they were all married to Pen, and she
waggled her head awfully.  ’I shall surprise your Grace,’ said Weekes,
and granny said she wouldn’t.  And she said, ’I shall surprise your
Grace, for I’ve to reveal that I know the man, the serpent, that her
ladyship ’as married.’  And granny smiled very curiously, and said,
’Weekes, who do you say it is?’  And then Weekes cried, the crocodile,
and she said that Penelope had married Timothy Bunting, the groom, and
that Timothy had been engaged to her, and had as good as told her that
he was looking high and despised a public-house at a corner.  I don’t
know what she meant. And she was so solemn and furious that granny
believed her, and went off into fit after fit most awful, my lord, and
they sent for the doctor, and I came away, for I knew the others would
fight when they learnt that all of them had said the same thing.  And I
believe it is Timothy myself."

"Dear, dear me!" said the bishop, "this is even more remarkable than I
anticipated from the very strange reports in the papers.  But I think
you have done well, Robert, and I do not regret having christened you by
any means, which is more than I can say for some of the aristocracy.
Let us return to the dean, who is, I am afraid, having some trouble with
the French marquis.  He is not accustomed to foreign noblemen and to
Americans, except when they come here to see his cathedral."

They turned toward the deanery, where Rivaulx was still rolling on the
grass.

"Do you think it is Timothy?" asked Bob.

The bishop shook his head gently.

"I do not see what grounds we have to go on, Robert.  Here we have an
American who states, if I understand you rightly, that he has married my
poor Penelope, and a French marquis of high repute who also states the
same.  And there are others—"

"Five or six!" said Bob.

"And there are five or six others who commit themselves to the same
statement.  And then a lady’s maid says she knows that Penelope has
married a groom.  I do not see what logical grounds we have for
concluding anything more than that some one has told a lie, or that
Penelope has been breaking the law by marrying more than one man at a
time.  Speaking _a priori_, I think this latter alternative unlikely,
and, as a matter of probability, I am forced to believe that only one at
least out of seven (is it seven?) gentlemen of unblemished reputation
has told the truth."

It was all very sad.  But there were practical details to be attended
to.  Though the marquis had ceased to raise the echoes of the stilly
night, to say nothing of the echoes of the cathedral’s west front, he
was still in a fearfully mournful condition.  He was now weeping in the
dean’s arms, and the dean was endeavouring to soothe him as best he
could. When the bishop came back, Mr. Dean seemed much relieved.

"Don’t you think you could get them to go away, bishop?" he inquired,
pathetically.  "This kind of thing is beyond my experience, and I am
extremely fatigued by it."

"I will do my best," replied the bishop.

Turning to the marquis, he said:

"Get up, marquis.  I will walk with you to the hotel.  Mr. Plant, please
follow with Robert, and be good enough to take care of those lethal
instruments, which are, I rejoice to say, little understood in a quiet
cathedral town.  It appears to me we are all in a state of mind which
needs repose.  On the morrow, after I have slept upon it, I shall be
happy to receive you all and give you the best advice in my power.  Now,
marquis, I am waiting for you. The grass is damp."

And they walked to the hotel, leaving the dean staring open-mouthed.

"This is very unusual," sighed the dean.  "I cannot recollect anything
exactly like it in my long experience."

No more could the bishop.  Plant was in the same state of mind.  Rivaulx
wept silently.  Bob was in the seventh heaven of delight, in spite of
Bunting.  He thoroughly believed in what Harriet Weekes said.  Neither
Plant nor Rivaulx knew that he knew they both claimed to be Pen’s
husband.

"This story of Bunting is a goldarned lie," said Plant, hoarsely.  Bob
did not reply.  He was sorry for them all, and relied on the bishop.
What he relied on him for he did not know.  All he did know was that the
bishop seemed fully equal to the situation.

"How many more of you are there, Mr. Plant?" he asked at length.

"Gordon and Goby and De Vere," replied Plant, miserably.

"I must see Mr. Gordon," said Bob.  And then they came to the Angel.  By
this time Rivaulx and the bishop were great friends, for Rivaulx was a
clerical in his heart of hearts, and, if there wasn’t a Catholic bishop
to lean on, a Protestant one was a good substitute.  He stopped weeping,
and held the bishop’s hand.

"You are a good man, sare bishop," he said. "I wish I was a good bishop,
but I cannot.  Life is a very terrible thing.  I wish I could cut my
throat.  I am weary."

"I should go to bed," said the bishop, "and I’ll look in and see you in
the morning.  Bed is the best place when one is weary.  I assure you
that I am not wholly ignorant of the world, or of the desire to cut my
throat, but I find that after a good night’s rest the wish to do so
evaporates, and one determines to live for another twelve hours at
least. But before you go, I hope you will give me your word that you
will cut no one else’s."

"I give it," said Rivaulx.  "The desire to kill Mr. Plant has left me.
I am no longer furious, even with Bramber.  I am simply sad and
fearfully mournful.  I thank you, sare; good night."

"Good night," said the bishop.  "Stay, marquis, I think Mr. Plant has
the weapons."

The marquis waved them off.

"I have no need of them.  I give them you, sare bishop.  Take them."

And when the bishop had bidden Plant and Bob good night, and had
arranged to see Bob in the morning, the curious sight might have been
witnessed of a great ornament of the Episcopal bench walking through the
precincts of the cathedral to his palace, with a couple of
duelling-swords under his arm.

"This has been a very interesting evening," said the bishop.  "I very
much wonder what Ridley will think when he sees me come in.  A butler’s
mind is naturally limited."

He went in and gave the swords to Ridley.

"Take these," said his lordship.

"Yes, m’lord," said Ridley, stolidly.

"I think you can hang them up in the dining-room, Ridley."

"Yes, m’lord."

"They are trophies, Ridley."

"So I perceive, m’lord," said Ridley.

"What are trophies, Ridley?"

"These, m’lord," said Ridley.

"Exactly so," said his lordship.

And while he was taking off his gaiters and thinking of Penelope, Bob
was sitting on the edge of Gordon’s bed and telling him all about it.

"Why are you here?" asked Bob.

"She sent me a telegram," said poor Gordon.

"I say, what about?"

"Sayin’ I wath a noble character and so on," replied Gordon, miserably,
"and I came here at onth becauth the telegram came from here."

As the sleep went out of his eyes, he talked less Hebraically.

"I thought she might be here," he added, shaking his curly head.

Bob thought very hard.

"I say, this is awfully mixed, Mr. Gordon, because I know you told
granny you were married to Pen!"

Gordon gulped something down.  It was probably very bad language.

"So—so I am," he said, sternly, without looking at Bob.

"Rivaulx says so, too."

"The devil!" cried Gordon.

"And so does Goby and Rivaulx and Bramber and De Vere and all of ’em!"

Gordon fell back on his pillows.

"So you see," said Bob, "we’re no further than we were, except that
Weekes, who used to be Pen’s maid, came to granny this afternoon and
told her, the beast, that Pen had married Timothy Bunting!"

Gordon bounced out of bed in his night-shirt.

"Who the devil is Timothy Bunting?" he roared.

Bob told him.

"It’s a lie—a lie!"

"Of course it must be, if you’ve married her, as you say," said Bob.
"But perhaps I’m disturbing you.  Would you like to go to sleep?"

"Very much indeed," replied Gordon.  "I should like to go to sleep and
stay asleep.  I wish you’d go and serve Goby and De Vere as you’ve
served me!"

"I’m so sorry," said Bob, "but you always said you wanted any news, and
that’s why I told you first."

Gordon held out his hand, and Bob shook it warmly.

"By the way," he asked, "what about the hair restorer?"

"What hair restorer?" asked the astonished Hebrew.

"The one you put ninety pounds of mine in, sir."

"It wasn’t in a hair restorer.  What makes you say so?"

"Well," replied Bob, "I thought it was.  You said it would make my hair
curl.  How much did it make, whatever it was?"

A glow of pleasure spread over Gordon’s sad countenance.  Making money
was something even in despair.

"My boy, I bought you Amalekites at half a crown, five hundred and sixty
of ’em, and now they’re at £4."

"Dear me," said Bob, "how much does that make?  Why, it’s £2,240."

"Less commission," agreed the financier.

"By Jove, that’s a very, very good beginning," said Bob.  "Do you think
they will go up more, Mr. Gordon?"

Gordon looked at him and sighed.

"They might.  But don’t you think it would be safer to get out now,
Bob?"

Bob shook his head.

"I’ll follow your advice, sir, of course.  If it was only myself, I’d
take the money, but I’m thinking of Goring, when my father and
grandfather and uncle die.  What I want is fifty thousand, at least.
Grandfather often says that is the least that can put the house on its
legs again.  Let me see, £2,240 is eight times four times £90.  That’s
thirty-two times £90.  What’s thirty-two times £2,240?"

"Seventy-one thousand six hundred and eighty," replied Gordon, promptly.

"That would do very well indeed," said Bob. "Please go on, sir, till
it’s that.  Or shall I take half and ask Mr. Plant to do something with
it? He offered to help me."

"Certainly not," replied Gordon, angrily. "Plant’s a reckless speculator
and a liar, and he’ll wake up some day worth half a million less than
nothing.  I’ll do my best for you and Goring, Bob."

"I’m sure you will, sir," said Bob.  "Good night, Mr. Gordon.  I’m sorry
if I’ve worried you."

And he went off to worry Goby.  Gordon walked up and down the room
weeping.

"If I only had a boy like that!" he cried.  "By Moses and all the
prophets, I’ll put Amalekites up sky-high, and squeeze the bears till
they howl.  Oh, Pen, Pen!"



                            *CHAPTER XVIII.*


By breakfast-time or a little later, Goby and Gordon and De Vere and
Rivaulx knew not only what was said about Timothy Bunting, but also that
every one of them had told the Duchess of Goring that he was married to
Penelope.  When the bishop looked in to see the marquis, he found him
exceedingly difficult to manage.  He wanted the duelling-swords back in
order to fight every one.  His especial desire now was to put cold steel
through Gordon, and this led to a general evacuation of Spilsborough.

"I say, Mr. Gordon," said Bob, rushing in upon the financier while he
was shaving, "I’ve just met the bishop, and he wanted to know if I knew
you, and I said ’rather,’ and he said would I ask you, in the interests
of peace, to go back to London, because the marquis wanted to cut your
throat with swords hanging in the bishop’s dining-room.  I say, will you
go, or stay and fight?"

Gordon cut himself, and then, as Bob said, "cut his stick" and went back
to town shaved on one side and not on the other.  As a result of this,
several men in the city sold bears of everything that Gordon was
interested in, and they got left most horribly, especially on
Amalekites.  Never afterward did they venture to think that any
financier was on the borders of ruin if he came into the city partially
shaved.  In fact, three very shady Jews, with some wildcat stock to
boom, played the trick successfully, and, through not being shaved
themselves, they shaved others.

But this is all by the way, and it only shows that a real financier in
love or in despair is just as dangerous as at other times.  Bob and the
bishop talked the situation over in Spilsborough while Gordon was going
to town, and the result was what might have been expected.

"All we know is that Penelope, poor dear Penelope is near Spilsborough,"
said the bishop.

"And that she’s married," said Bob.

"We infer that from general grounds, our knowledge of her character,"
said the logical bishop. "Strictly we cannot be said to know it.  It is
not a primary datum of consciousness, nor is it a judgment or a purely
rational conclusion, Bob."

"Oh," said Bob, "well, perhaps not."

"I think," said the bishop, "that I shall write to her—"

"Where to?"

"To everywhere," said the bishop, "and ask her to come and confide in
me.  And in the meantime, as the others have gone, and your presence
here is no longer necessary, I think you should go home and console your
grandmother, and apply yourself to work."

"All right," said Bob; "I don’t think it’s interesting here any more.
But are you glad I came in time to stop the duel?"

"I am glad," said the bishop.  "But, to tell the truth, Robert, I should
not have allowed a duel on Mr. Dean’s ancient grass and under his
immemorial elms without a remonstrance, even a physical remonstrance."

Within the memory of this portly and admirable pillar of the Church to
which the British Empire owes all its greatness, and to which it pays a
great deal of its money, were many fierce encounters at Oxford, that
haunt of ancient peace and modern progress.

"Would you have knocked ’em down?" asked Bob, eagerly.

"Certainly," said the bishop.  "I would have knocked them as flat as a
flounder."

And Bob bade him good-bye.

"I think he’s a ripping good bishop," said Bob. "I’ll ask Mr. Gordon to
help restore the cathedral."

He got back to Goring to find Titania no longer suffering from fits.
Fits were not equal to the situation.  All her friends were writing to
her to condole with her on the marriage of Penelope to Timothy Bunting.
They came down in droves to condole and to get the latest intelligence,
while gamekeepers and grooms were keeping journalists out of the grounds
with guns and pitchforks.

For the world was absolutely certain that Miss Weekes was right, and
Pen’s _ci-devant_ maid was making the salary of a star at the Empire by
according interviews to those halfpenny papers which are England’s glory
and her hope.  The editors endeavoured to interview the lovers, but they
were stern and savage.  They would not speak to each other and avoided
strangers.  But it was no secret now that they each claimed to be Lady
Penelope’s husband.  As the acutest journalist of them all remarked,
this was hardly possible.  The only theory that held water (or, at
least, "good" water, as the Baboo pleader remarked) was the Bunting
theory. But if Bunting was the man, where was he? and why this mystery?
A journalist solved it, or said he did.  Bunting was a very handsome
man.  There was no doubt of that.  But he was an uneducated man.  That
was quite certain.  If a lady of Penelope’s standing married a man of
Bunting’s, what would she do?  The answer was easy.  She would send him
to Oxford to acquire the accent and the aplomb and the insolence which
have rendered Oxford men the idols of the mob, and have put them into
every position where tact with inferior races is a _sine qua non_.  This
is what the journalist said. He ought to have known, as he had been
brought up in the Yorkshire Dissenting College, and dissented from all
other codes of manners, except those popular with the non-conformist
conscience, which, equally with the Church of England, has made the
empire what it is and what it should be.

But this journalist knew his market.  The eyes of the civilized world
once more turned to Oxford.

"If it’s Bunting, I’ll kill him," said all the lovers who were not
married to Penelope.  "She has made a mistake, if it’s true, and he must
be got rid of."

Now was the time of the Marchioness of Rigsby’s glory.

"Did I not tell you she had married her groom?" she demanded of Titania.
"Penelope was extremely rude to me.  I am almost glad she has married a
groom.  If he is a nice groom, he may improve her manners."

"She hasn’t married any groom," cried Titania, furiously.  "I am
perfectly certain it is the Marquis of Rivaulx."

She was certain of nothing.  Bradstock was certain of nothing.  They
both asked Bob what he was certain of, and Bob replied all the lovers
were in such a state of mind that it couldn’t be any of them.  And then
at last Titania hit upon a certain truth.

"Whoever it is would be just as miserable as all the others," she said.
"He’ll be sorry now that he agreed to it, and he’ll be asking her to
give in, and she won’t.  And they’ll quarrel."

"You’re right, Titania," cried Bradstock, slapping his thigh.  "Bob, I
believe the most miserable of them all is the man.  Which is the most
miserable?"

Bob thought.

"Gordon cried a little."

"Ha!" said the duchess.

"But Rivaulx cried a good deal," said Bob.

"Oh," said the duchess.  "But which do you think it is, Robert?"

"I think it’s Timothy Bunting," said Bob. "And I want to go to Oxford to
find out if he’s there.  Baker says—"

"Do you discuss these matters with Baker?" demanded his grandmother,
haughtily.

"He knows a great deal about the world," said Bob, "and about Bunting,
you know.  Baker says—"

"You may go to Oxford," cried Titania, "and I will go to bed and stay
there.  I am a most unhappy woman, and Goring does not care!"

So Bob went to Oxford all by himself, and called upon an undergraduate
who had just come up from Harrow, one of the schools which Bob had been
requested to leave on account of pugilism.  Jack Harcourt was four years
Bob’s senior, but could not fight so well in spite of that, and there
was much more equality between them than would seem possible at first
sight.  But then it is almost impossible to feel very much superior to a
boy who has knocked you absolutely senseless, as Bob did Harcourt.  And
Bob was one of those boys who make all the world equal.  He was familiar
with princes, and said "Baker says" to cabinet ministers.  And if his
uncle didn’t marry, he was bound to be a duke.  Dukes are very important
people, somehow, and the fact that Bob never showed any side was much in
his favour over and above that important fact.

"I say, is there a man up here called Bunting?" asked Bob.

And Harcourt, after consulting a calendar, said there was.

"Timothy Bunting?" asked Bob, jumping as if he were shot.

"Thomas," said Harcourt.

"Oh, he’d say Thomas, I dare say," said Bob. And he told Harcourt all
about it.

"Do you think she’s married him?" asked the undergraduate.

"Who knows what girls will do?" said Bob. "Don’t you remember the
black-eyed one in the pastry-cook’s at Harrow who wouldn’t look at you
and was in love with that beast Black?"

Harcourt did remember, but changed the conversation as quickly as
possible.

"This fellow is at All Saints," he said.  "I dare say, they’d let a
groom in there."

"Let’s go and find him," said Bob.  "Poor old Bunting will be sick to
see me.  I’m very sorry for him if he is a presumptuous beast.  It will
be very awkward for the family.  But we must know.  The uncertainty is
killing my grandmother, and Baker says it’s always best to know the
worst at once. Baker’s the best judge of dogs and horses I know. He was
a sergeant in the Dublin Fusiliers.  Oh, I told you that!"

And when they got into the High Street, they ran right into Plant, who
smiled a sickly smile and said he had come up to have a look at Oxford.

"I say, Mr. Plant, what’s the matter with your clothes?" asked Bob.
"Have you fallen downstairs?"

Plant murmured something unintelligible and hurried away, leaving Bob
staring.

"That’s one of ’em, Harcourt," he said to his friend.  "He’s a
millionaire."

"Then I think he might afford a hat without a dint in it," replied
Harcourt.

Bob shook his head.

"I can’t make it out.  He’s very particular," he said.  "But let’s get
on."

Around the next corner they bumped into Gordon, who also announced that
he had been struck with a wild desire to have a look at the ancient
university city.  Bob shook his head.

"I say, Mr. Gordon, you want brushing badly. Do you know you look as if
you had fallen downstairs?" he asked.

Gordon said, "Do I?" and bolted.

"I can’t make this out," said Bob.  "This has all the appearance of a
mystery, Harcourt."

"It has," said Harcourt.  As they entered All Saints, they saw a man run
across the grass and disappear under the far archway which led out into
the Turl.

"That looked very much like De Vere," said Bob, "very much.  Only I
never saw him run except that time when the bulldog chased him.  And
then he ran differently.  But of course it can’t be De Vere."

After asking two reverend-looking members of the university, who looked
as if they knew all about the subjective world, and a scout with every
appearance of a deep acquaintance with the objective one, they
discovered Mr. Bunting’s rooms.

"I think he’s havin’ some gents to lunch, though I’m not his scout, sir,
and they seems to be enjoying themselves now very much," said the scout.
"Mr. Bunting is readin’ ’ard, so I ’ear, but he’s relaxin’ a little
to-day.  Just now I see a gentleman drop hout of ’is window, sir.  And
you’re the third lot I’ve directed there.  This is ’is staircase, gents,
first floor.  Thank you, sir, I’m sure.  I’ll drink your ’ealth."

And here Harcourt said he thought he’d leave Bob.  So Bob went up about
six dark steps by himself, and then he stopped.

"Whoever he is, he’s making a devil of a row," said Bob, pausing, "a
devil of a row.  I wonder if it is Bunting.  I think Harcourt might have
stayed.  But he never did like fighting or rows."

He climbed up another step or two, and heard a mighty uproar.

"I think they must be having a boxing party," said Bob.  And then he
heard a door open on the landing above him.

"Confound you, sir! to the devil with you, sir!" said a voice that he
certainly did not recognize.  Then he heard a noise which was presently
explained by the fact that Carteret Williams fell down the stairs,
turning a crooked corner most wonderfully in company with a very large
Liddell and Scott’s Dictionary of that beautiful language, Greek.

"Oh, is that you, Mr. Williams?" asked Bob.

Williams appeared rather confused.

"Yes, Bob," he said, as he hugged the dictionary. "I—I think so."

"Why have you fallen down-stairs?" asked Bob.

"That damn groom threw me down," said Williams. "At least, he threw this
book at me, and I came down."

[Illustration: CARTERET WILLIAMS, WAR CORRESPONDENT. He wrote with a red
picturesqueness which was horribly attractive]

"What, is it really Bunting?" roared Bob, eagerly.

"He says his name’s Bunting," replied Williams. "But he’s very difficult
to handle."

"Oh, Tim can box," said Bob.  "But is he our Bunting?"

"Whichever Bunting he is, you are welcome to him," said the enraged war
correspondent.

"I must go up and see," said Bob.  "Do you think he threw Mr. Plant and
Mr. Gordon down, too?  I met ’em just now, and they looked as if he
had."

"I’m sure he’s capable of it," said Williams, bitterly.  "Here, take
this book with you.  I don’t want it."

And Bob climbed up, hugging several pounds’ weight of Greek with him.
He stood at the door and listened, and heard a man inside snorting
violently and slamming things about as if he was very much disturbed in
his mind.  Bob knocked at the door, and it was opened suddenly.  The man
who opened it was in deep shadow.

"It is—it is.  No, it isn’t," said Bob, quite aloud.

"Are you another of ’em?" asked the occupier of the rooms.

"Oh, it isn’t," said Bob.  And, choking down his disappointment, his
politeness returned.

"Is this your Greek dictionary?" he asked, courteously.  "I found it
lying on Mr. Carteret Williams on the next landing, and he said he
didn’t want it."

The man named Bunting seized the dictionary, and then took Bob by the
shoulder and led him in. Bob went like a lamb, for this Mr. Bunting was
six feet high, about three feet across the chest, more or less, and had
a grip like clip-hooks on a bale.

"Was that man named Williams?" he asked.

"Yes," said Bob.

"You know him?"

"Why, of course," said Bob.  "I know ’em all."

"All I’ve thrown down-stairs this afternoon?"

"I think so," said Bob, modestly.  "At least, I met Mr. Plant and Mr.
Gordon, who looked very much as if they had fallen down-stairs.  And I
think the little gentleman you dropped out of the window on the grass
must have been Mr. Austin de Vere."

"Oh," said Mr. Bunting, "sit down, boy, and look at me.  Do I look mad?"

Bob looked at him and then at the room.

"The room looks mad," he replied.  And it certainly did.

"That was the last one," said Mr. Bunting. "He was very troublesome."

"He’s a war correspondent," said Bob.  "But why is your name Bunting?"

"How the devil do I know?" asked the other, in reply.  "Perhaps, as you
seem to know them, you can explain what it all means?"

"I will try, sir, if you will tell me what occurred," said Bob.

"First of all," said the outraged member of All Saints, "the American
person knocked and came in, and he said: ’Is your name Bunting?’  And I
said, ’Yes, confound you, for your infernal impudence, and what is
yours?’  And he said, ’What the devil do you mean by saying you have
married her?’  And I said I’d said nothing of the kind, and I said if he
didn’t get out in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, I’d throw him out.  And
he was furious, and couldn’t and wouldn’t explain, so I did throw him
out.  And, as he tumbled down-stairs, he said he’d married her himself.
And he went away, and I sat down to read Thucydides.  He’s under the
sofa now somewhere.  And then the Jew came, and he said: ’You mutht
contradict the report of your being married to her at onth,’ and that
made me very cross, and I said I wouldn’t, and that made him very wild,
so I said I was married to her just as he said he was—"

"Oh," said Bob, "and are you?  Oh, dear, I am so confused!  Are you
really, really married to Pen?"

"I shall drop you out of the window in a minute," said Mr. Bunting.  "I
said it to annoy him, and it did, and he said I was a liar.  So I opened
the door and took him by the neck and dropped him down-stairs, and he
howled awfully.  And I said to him over the bannisters, ’I am married to
her, and have been married for years to her, and she loves me very much,
and we are going to acknowledge it as soon as I’ve taken my B.A.’  And
he went away holding his neck, and then the little man came in.  Did you
say he was a poet?"

"A very good poet, too," said Bob.  "And I sell him bulldogs."

"Oh," said Mr. Bunting, blankly, "you do, do you?  Why?"

"Because Pen thought they would do him good."

Mr. Bunting shook his head.

"Thicksides is lucid compared with this!" he murmured.  "But patience,
patience, and I shall construe it yet."

"And what did Mr. de Vere say?" asked Bob.

"The same thing.  He stood there and said I must contradict it.  And he
said of course it was very kind of her to have me educated, but that, if
I had a spark of decency, I should know that a man who had once occupied
the position I had couldn’t possibly marry her.  And, by the way, what
position had I occupied in regard to her?"

"A groom," said Bob.  "You were supposed to have been a groom."

"Dear me," said Mr. Bunting, "how interesting and remarkable.  Still no
light, no real light!  And of course I said I had married her, and I
asked him did he think I would desert the lady now?  And he went
scarlet.  Why did he go scarlet do you think?"

"I know," said Bob, "it must have been on account of the baby!"

Mr. Bunting smote his forehead.

"So it must," he said.  "I never thought of that. What a fearful
complication!  And then he, too, said I was a liar.  So I took him by
the collar and led him to the window, and I opened it and dropped him
out.  And then the one you call Williams came, and he also was
indignant, and said I was to deny it, and I wouldn’t of course.  And
then we fought, and the furniture was much disarranged and Thicksides
went under the sofa, and at last I got him outside, and finished him
with Liddell and Scott. And now you know all!  In your turn you can
explain what it means.  I beg you to do it, and then we will have some
tea."

And Bob explained the whole story.

"You might have seen it in the papers," said Bob.

"I don’t read ’em," said Bunting, "except to turn a _Times_ leader into
Greek.  But it seems a complicated situation, doesn’t it?"

"It is very complicated," sighed Bob, "and my grandmother is very ill
about it.  And now she will wonder if it’s you, after all!"

"Dear me, so she will," said Bunting.  "Have some tea."

They had tea, and Bob rose to go.

"Will you write to the _Times_, and say you haven’t married her?" he
asked.

"Certainly not," said Mr. Bunting.  "Didn’t I say to the others that I
threw down-stairs that I _had_ married her?"

"So you did," said Bob.  "But of course you haven’t?"

Bunting smiled.

"Good-bye.  When you come to Oxford again, come and see me.  I must
crawl under the sofa now."

"What for?" asked Bob.

"For Thucydides, of course," replied Mr. Bunting.

And when Bob was in the train for London, he turned very pale.

"Good heavens!" he said, "how do I know it isn’t this Bunting, after
all?"



                             *CHAPTER XIX.*


After this, things by no means cleared up, as they should have done
considering the amount of trouble that all the world took to find out
the truth.  Every one said something different from some one else. Bob
gave horribly imaginative accounts of his adventures at Oxford, and
threw out suggestions that Pen was really married to a Bunting, if not
to Timothy Bunting.  But when he appealed for corroboration to Gordon,
that gentleman shuffled and prevaricated dreadfully, as he did not like
to acknowledge he had been thrown down-stairs.  There was a very curious
scene, in which Gordon and Bob had the best part of a row before
Titania, who came up to town to be near Dr. Lumsden Griff, who knew all
about the left or right ventricle of her heart.  As his jealous
confrères said he knew nothing else, perhaps he did.  However, that is
by the way.

"Tell it me again, Robert," said Titania.

Bob told her again.

"He said he was married to her?"

"He said he said so to Mr. Plant and Mr. Gordon, and Williams and De
Vere," said Bob, gloating over the details of the row.  "And he slung
’em all down-stairs.  He’s about six feet six high, and as broad as a
billiard-table, and as strong as three Sandows, I should say."

"I am much confused again," said Titania, plaintively.  "I had come to
the point where certain news of her marriage to a groom would have been
a relief to me.  Where are we now?"

As she asked, Gordon was announced.  Bob rushed at him.

"I say, Mr. Gordon, tell us how he threw you down-stairs, and what he
said?"

"He didn’t throw me down-stairs," said Gordon, quite crossly.  "I threw
myself down—I mean I slipped."

"Tell us how you slipped, then, and why," said Bob.

But Gordon wouldn’t.

"Oh, I say!" said Bob.

Titania begged Gordon to tell her.

"But then he told me he had married Pen," she said to herself.  "What is
the use of asking any one anything?"

"How did you find him?" asked Bob.

"I looked him up," said Gordon.

"Why did you look him up?"

"Because I wanted to find him out," returned Gordon, sulkily.  "But I
didn’t come to be cross-examined by you, Bob."

In spite of the large sums of money which Gordon owed Bob, Bob was on
the point of an explosion.  But trouble was averted by Plant’s entrance.
Before he could say a word, a telegram was brought to Titania, and she
read it at once and uttered dismal groans.

"What is it?" chorused the two men and Bob.

"It’s from Penelope."

"Please read it out."

Bob read it for his grandmother.


"Am exceedingly displeased with latest reports and news.  Contradict at
once.  Am not married to Bunting, who is much upset by report, and can
hardly look me in the face.  PENELOPE."


"Bunting is with her!" said Titania.

"Which Bunting?" asked Bob.  "He—I mean the one at Oxford—told Mr.
Gordon and Mr. de Vere that he was married to her."

Gordon groaned, and, seizing his hat, fled from the room.  He came back
again.

"Where does the wire come from?"

"From Spilsborough," said Bob.  "Granny, I wonder if the bishop is in
it."

Gordon groaned and went.  And went a little too early, for another wire
came.  It was a very long one.

Titania looked at the signature first, and she sat up.

"It’s from Penelope’s husband," she cried.

"Who is he really?" shrieked Bob.

"It’s signed Penelope’s husband, I mean," said Titania, "and he seems
very unhappy."

The telegram read:


"Am in great distress.  Penelope is furious because told you confidence
that was married to her. She has heard this, and has learnt that others,
lying scoundrels, said they were, too.  She says their noble conduct
saved her, and will not speak at present, though holding out hopes of
reconciliation later to her and infant, which is doing well, if I say
nothing and do not fight with others, but do my duty, which I find hard
under peculiar circumstances.  Hence am precluded from confirming what I
told you, and can only communicate anonymously, as Penelope threatens to
have divorce or equivalent, being headstrong, as you are aware, and I am
in distress about it.  Wire reply.

"PENELOPE’S HUSBAND."


"He’s mad," said Titania.  "How can I wire reply to a man I know nothing
of?"

She turned to Plant.

"You told me in confidence, Mr. Plant.  Did you send this?"

Plant turned all the colours of the rainbow.

"Yes," he said, desperately, and he bolted from the room and the house
and disappeared, while Bob gasped, and Titania nodded her head in a most
awe-inspiring manner.

"Get some telegraph forms," she said.  And when Bob brought them, she
dictated telegrams to all the horde in the diplomatic form of identic
notes.


"Have received sad telegram signed Penelope’s husband.  Recognize under
painful circumstances he cannot reveal himself.  Am much composed and
have given up hope.  It appears it cannot be Bunting, though Bunting is
with her.  Contradict this; also the rumour that it is the Rajah of
Jugpore.

"TITANIA GORING."


"Send them," she said, "and let me rest.  I presume that the right one
will get it.  The only trouble is that six of the wrong ones will, too."

"Goby will go insane," said Bob.  "I know he will.  I can’t see how this
will end without murder."

And Titania laughed dreadfully.  She laughed so queerly that Doctor
Griff was sent for, and refused to allow her to see De Vere and Goby and
Bramber and Gordon and Plant and Williams and Carew.  The last turned up
first in a hansom cab, with a large palette knife in his hand.  He had
forgotten to put it down.  As hansom after hansom came up and discharged
one furious lover after another at the steps of Titania’s town house, it
looked as if Bob’s foreseen murder would occur there and then.  It is
possible that nothing but the timely arrival of Bradstock saved London
from the desirable news of a murder in high life and Belgrave Square.
He got hold of the men one by one, and sent them away.  As they went, a
telegraph boy came to the house with another telegram addressed to
Titania.

"I shall open this, Bob," said Bradstock.  It was another from Pen.


"Have just learnt that you and others have been trying to discover my
whereabouts.  If I am pursued, I shall leave and go elsewhere.  This is
final.

PENELOPE."


"From Spilsborough, Bob," said Bradstock.

"She’s heard that I and Goby and Rivaulx and the others were there,"
said Bob.  "Do you think the bishop knows where she is?"

"I wouldn’t trust a bishop," said Bradstock. "I daresay he does.  It is
said that bishops steal Elzevirs and umbrellas, Bob.  I think I shall go
to Spilsborough myself.  Have you seen the evening papers, Bob?"

Bob had seen none of them.

"Some say now that she is married to Jugpore, and others say it is a
morganatic marriage to the mediatized Prince of Bodenstrau."

"Oh, I say, Pen will be mad," cried Bob.  "Isn’t he a real bad un?"

"The very worst," said Bradstock.

"And are you really going to Spilsborough, Lord Bradstock?"

"I really think so," said Bradstock.  "I begin to think I must do
something."

He stood pondering.

"May I come with you?"

Bradstock declined the honour.

"If I don’t succeed, you may go again if you like," he said.  And that
very afternoon he went to Liverpool Street and took the train for
Spilsborough to call on the bishop.

"My dear Bradstock, I am delighted to see you," said his lordship.  "I
presume you, too, have come here about Penelope?"

"I have," said Bradstock, "every one does."

"Did young Bob tell you all about the peculiar occurrences which took
place here only lately? They were quite remarkable."

Bradstock agreed that they were remarkable.

"A duel on the dean’s grass, now!  Who would have thought of that but a
Frenchman?  Have you seen the marquis lately, and that very agreeable
financier, the American?  I was much grieved not to be able to ask him
to dinner, owing to his sudden departure.  He showed considerable skill
in grasping the essentials of the situation, for, when the marquis, who
was literally foaming at the mouth, offered him the choice of swords in
a violent but perfectly gentlemanly way, he chose both of them, and put
them under his arm.  It is not every one who could have displayed such
readiness in preventing violence.  One would not have expected it in an
American, for I understand disorder and disturbances leading to
bloodshed are quite common even in Washington."

"I have frequently seen most bloodthirsty duels behind the Capitol
during the sessions of Congress," said Bradstock, gravely.

"Ah, so I understand," replied the bishop.  "But is there no news of
dear Penelope?"

"Come, bishop, let us be frank," said Bradstock. "Have you no idea whom
she has married?"

The gentle bishop looked much surprised.

"I?  My dear Bradstock, I haven’t the least idea. But I gather that both
the gentlemen I interrupted the other day claim to be her husband, to
say nothing of many others whom I have not yet set eyes on."

"And you have no notion where she is?"

The bishop lifted his hands.

"I think she must be near this place," he said. "I consider there can be
no doubt of that, owing to matters with which Bob made me acquainted. By
the way, I think this young Bob a very remarkable boy, Bradstock."

"So do I, bishop," said Bradstock.

"A very remarkable boy.  The dean, who saw very little of him, came to
that conclusion.  He said he would be an ornament to the House of Lords,
or the biggest young rip that ever disgraced it."

"Your dean must be a clever man," said Bradstock.

"Do not call him my dean," replied the bishop. "He is the cathedral’s
dean, and very difficult to handle.  However, he is said to be clever,
and I dare say is clever, especially about grass and a choir and things
material.  But, as I was going on to say, I consider it quite easy to
find out where Penelope is, provided we go about it skilfully.  I cannot
but remember that I christened her, and I still take an interest in
her."

"How do you propose to discover her whereabouts?" asked Bradstock.

"She sends telegrams from our Spilsborough post-office, does she not?"

"Yes," said Bradstock.

"Then some one should watch the post-office for her messenger.  It seems
probable that you would know him, as she is not likely to confide in
strangers. Who can say that the very man she has married does not send
them?"

That was easily disposed of, for, to Bradstock’s certain knowledge, all
the lovers were in town when the last wires came.

"Well, I suggest you watch the post-office," said the bishop.  "It is, I
opine, a perfectly legitimate thing to do."

Bradstock objected that she mightn’t send any more for weeks.

A brilliant idea struck the bishop.

"Send her one which requires an answer, Bradstock."

"Where to?" asked Bradstock.

"Tut, tut!" said the bishop, "how foolish of me.  Stay, I have it.  Put
something in the _Times_ which requires an answer."

"I will," said Bradstock.

"And send for young Bob to watch," said the bishop.  "It is time that
this scandal was stopped. I am exceedingly grieved with Penelope for
getting married in a registrar’s office.  I will offer to marry her all
over again in this very cathedral.  And now you shall come and have
lunch, and I will show you the swords given me by the marquis."

After lunch and an inspection of the trophies in the dining-room,
Bradstock and the bishop drafted an advertisement for the _Times_,
imploring Pen to telegraph to Bradstock, saying how she was, as there
was a rumour afloat that she didn’t feel well. This was sent by wire to
town, and was accompanied in its flight by one to Bob, asking him to
come up in a motor-car at once.

"I think," said the bishop, "that I should like to go in a motor-car.
There must be something delightful in speeding through the country
feeling that steel and petrol do not suffer any of the strain that comes
on horses.  I shall ask young Bob to take me out."

"He will be delighted," said Bradstock.  "I’m sure he will be delighted.
They say he is an enterprising driver for his youth."

"I love enterprise," murmured the bishop.  "I am surprised now to think
of my own.  I entered the Church meaning to be a bishop, and I am a
bishop.  I love enterprise.  All curates seem full of it.  Deans, I
regret to say, are seldom vigorously enterprising.  Archdeacons, too,
have a tendency to take things easily, too easily."

"What do you think of the Higher Criticism?" asked Bradstock.

"Ha!" said the bishop, "ha!  I think—oh, I think a great deal of it.
That is, I think of it a great deal.  I do not think all enterprise is
praiseworthy.  Would you like to know the dean?"

They spent the afternoon in the dean’s cathedral, and walked on the
dean’s grass, and about six o’clock Bob rolled into the cathedral close
in a fifteen-horse-power Daimler, and drew up in front of the bishop’s
palace.

"Have you found her out?" he demanded, eagerly, of Bradstock.

"No, but you shall," said Bradstock.



                             *CHAPTER XX.*


The bishop was very kind and amiable to Bob. Some people say that
bishops are always kind and good to people who will be dukes by and by.
One never knows what a duke can do for one later, and, of course, a
bishop wants to be an archbishop.  That is only natural: even a cardinal
wants to be Pope, although he almost always says he is sorry he became
one when he finds himself at the end of his tether.  The bishop was a
human being, but a nice one, and he really liked Bob, who suggested
youth and strength and the future, all of them agreeable things to those
who are not young and see their future behind them.  So he talked to Bob
almost as if he was one of the Bench of Bishops.  He was familiar and
jovial, and told some good stories of other bishops and even one of an
archbishop.  And he suggested to Bob that he rather wanted to see what a
motor-car was like.

"There is a prejudice against them here," said the bishop.  "Perhaps a
natural prejudice among those who own chickens and dogs and children.
But Providence works in a mysterious way, and I should be the last to
hasten to blame even the gentleman known as a road hog.  I begin to
perceive an unwonted sprightliness in the villagers as the elimination
of the unfit, the rheumatic, the undecided, and the foolish proceeds
apace.  A young man, who told me that he had in the course of his career
as an owner of cars killed nearly a thousand dogs, two thousand five
hundred fowls, several aged persons, some idiots, and a policeman, said
that he noticed nowadays an air of bright alertness in his immediate
neighbourhood which was at once a pleasure and an encouragement.  He
asserted that the dogs who remained were of a higher type of intellect
than the others; and he said that even the fowls now stood sideways in
the road and used their natural advantage of looking both ways at once.
There was, too, a great improvement in village children and even in
policemen.  Oh, yes, I think much may be said for the motor-car."

"I should very much like to take you out in one, my lord," said Bob.

The bishop smiled graciously.

"You shall, my boy, as soon as this matter of Penelope is settled.  I
shall greatly enjoy passing rapidly through the country.  I think of
buying one for purposes of my pastoral visitations.  Perhaps I may wake
up some of my more somnolent clergy. I may even raise their general
intellectual average, which is low, really low."

Bob’s chauffeur put up at the Angel, but Bob himself had a bed in the
palace, and dined in state with the bishop and Bradstock.  They
discussed Penelope all dinner-time, even before Ridley, for, as the
bishop explained, Ridley took no interest in anything whatever but wine.

"I believe," said the bishop, with a chuckle, "that I might venture in
his presence to advocate the disestablishment of the Church, or to give
vent to heretical or even atheistical sentiments without his being aware
that I was doing anything surprising, improper, or unusual.  By all
means, let us talk before Ridley.  How do you think Bob should proceed,
Bradstock?"

"He must stay in his car near, but not too near, the post-office," said
Bradstock.  "If Bob is properly goggled, this George Smith, whom we
suppose to bring Pen’s letters and telegrams, will not notice him.
Shall you know him, Bob?"

"Rather," said Bob.  "He walks very queerly. I could tell him a mile
off."

"Very well, then," Bradstock continued, "when he goes, you will follow
him at a distance.  He must not be lost sight of."

"I much underrate our young friend’s enterprise if he loses him," said
the bishop.  "There are occasions when exceeding the legal limit becomes
a duty, Bob."

"Rather," said Bob.  "Oh, I’ll do it."

They calculated that the _Times_ would reach Pen about noon, as they
believed she must be within twenty miles of Spilsborough.  Bob
accordingly arranged to take up his watch at the post-office before one
o’clock.

"And perhaps to-morrow night the mystery will be solved," said the
bishop.  "It is really remarkable.  I am not at all able to follow
Penelope’s mind."

Bob explained it to him.

"They ragged her," he said,—by "they" meaning Titania and others,—"and
she loves peace and hates showing off, and she’s as obstinate as a pig.
And grandmother said she was to be married in Westminster Abbey by a
bishop, and that put her back up.  Oh, Pen’s easy to understand, I
think."

"You have no idea whom she has really married?" asked the bishop.

"Not much," said Bob.  "I give it up.  I’ve thought it was all of ’em,
and every one has done or said something that could be taken both ways.
I was sure it was Goby, and then I was certain it was Bramber, and then
I fairly knew it was Rivaulx, and I could have sworn it was Plant.  And
I’m very much worried by what occurred at Oxford. This new Bunting was
very surprising."

The bishop had not heard of the new Bunting, and listened to Bob’s story
with great interest.

"The world is a very surprising place," said the bishop, with emphasis;
"a very surprising place indeed.  We do not need to go to Africa for new
things.  We are surrounded by the unexpected, by the marvellous.  Bob’s
delightful story makes me feel that no one can reckon with certainty
upon anything.  I am half-inclined to think that this new Bunting must
be a relation of the other Bunting, and that Penelope has met him, been
struck with him, and has married him and lives in temporary retirement,
while her husband struggles with Thucydides under a sofa.  But after
to-morrow we shall know more."

"I hope so," said Bradstock.

"I feel sure of it," said the bishop.

And Bob went to bed.

"Do you know, Bradstock," said the bishop, as he stroked his leg, which
was a very reasonable leg for a bishop, "I wonder you didn’t think I had
married Penelope."

"Good heavens!" said Bradstock, "have you?"

"Certainly not," replied the bishop, "but it is odd she should be near
Spilsborough, isn’t it?"

"She must be somewhere," said Bradstock, rather irritably.  "Hang it!
the girl must be somewhere."

"When you think of it, she must," said the bishop.  "Yes, yes, you are
right.  Still, Spilsborough—yes, it’s odd, but not remarkable.  As you
say, she must be somewhere.  I hope it’s not the Jew, Bradstock."

So did Bradstock.

"It looks very much as if she was ashamed of him.  But I’m incapable of
judging, not having been married," said the bishop.

"I’ve been married twice," said Bradstock, "and Pen is a woman, which
means she resembles no other woman in any respect whatever as regards
her ways, manners, customs, and thoughts."

"You say that coolly?" asked the bishop.

"Icily," replied Bradstock.

The bishop shook his head.

"You surprise me," said the bishop, "and I think I will go to bed."

Bradstock went to bed, too.

"I shouldn’t be surprised if she had married the bishop and was under
this roof now," said Bradstock.  "Nothing would surprise me unless I
discover she’s married to Rivaulx or Bramber.  I don’t think I should
mind either of ’em."

And next day at half-past twelve Bob and his chauffeur took up a
position near the post-office.  As Geordie Smith knew Bradstock, he kept
quietly at the palace.  But the interested bishop who had not married
Penelope kept bustling about the neighbourhood in quite an excitement.

"I wish I was coming with you, Bob."

"Oh, do!" said Bob.

"I almost think it would be advisable," said the bishop.  "What I said
would have weight with Penelope, I believe."

"I rather wish you’d come," cried Bob.  "It would be fun, and you said
you’d like to go in a motor-car."

"So I did," said the bishop, "but I’ve never been in one.  No one has
seen me in one.  I fear a crowd would assemble."

"At any rate, my lord, you might get in and sit down a minute."

The bishop looked around.

"I really think I will," he said.  And he entered the car.

"This is really comfortable, Bob, very comfortable, quite like an
armchair.  Is your driver a good one?"

"A ripper," said Bob.  "The best they have where I got the car.  It’s
not mine, but when I get all the money that Gordon owes me, I’ll buy
one."

The chauffeur got down and did something inexplicable to the machinery
with a spanner.  And the spanner broke.

"I’ll just run across and get a new one, sir," said the chauffeur.

"It’s getting late," said Bob.  "Don’t be long, and before you go start
her up."

The driver set her going, and the bishop caught hold of Bob.

"You’re not off?  This is very surprising.  It makes a very curious
noise."

"There won’t be any to speak of when we get her moving," said Bob.  "You
see the engine is going, and when we like we can start at once."

He was happy, bright, and eager.

"There’s a motor-car coming," whispered the bishop.

Bob jumped.

"I say, it’s yellow like Pen’s big new one," he said.  And the car
stopped in front of the post-office ten yards away.  Bob grabbed the
bishop’s arm.

"That’s Geordie Smith," he said.  "That’s Geordie getting out.  I could
tell his legs a mile off.  Where’s my man?"

But the man didn’t come, and Geordie was back in his car.  He went off
sweetly.

"The north road," said Bob.  "I’m sure he’ll take it.  He’s going quick.
We can’t wait for my man."

He grabbed the steering-wheel, shifted the lever, and the car moved off
on the first speed.

"I’ll—I’ll go a little way with you," said the bishop.

"You’ll have to unless you jump," replied Bob. "I’ll keep in sight if I
die for it."

This encouraged the bishop very much, of course, and it is possible that
he might have jumped if he had not caught sight of the dean and a minor
canon, who were staring hard at him with their mouths as wide open as
the grotesque muzzle of a Gothic gargoyle.

"I’ll not jump," said the bishop, and he waved his hand to Mr. Dean.
"No, I’ll not jump before the dean if I die for it."

Before he knew it, they were out on the road, and the dust of the yellow
car in front was like the pillar of smoke to the Hebrews in the desert.
Bob let her out to the second speed, and the bishop gasped.

"We go very quick," he said.

"Oh, not at all," replied Bob.  "I don’t want to go fast.  If Geordie
thinks he’s being followed, he’ll go sixty miles an hour, and I don’t
think I can do more than forty-five in this."

"Can’t you?" asked the bishop.  "I’m almost glad you can’t."

"Is this the great north road?" asked Bob.

"No," said the bishop, "it’s the road to Crowland and Spalding.  I’ve
often driven on it, but never so fast as this."

Geordie’s car drew ahead, and Bob put his car on the third speed.

"Bob!" cried the bishop, as he clutched the sides of his seat.  "Bob!"

"Yes?"

"Isn’t this an illegal speed?"

"Rather," said Bob.

"I cannot aid and abet you in going at it, then," said the bishop, as
firmly as he could.  "I must request you to be legal."

Bob kept his eyes ahead.

"Please don’t talk," he roared, "or I shall have an accident.  You must
remember I’m not at all experienced."

What could the poor bishop do?  He groaned and sat very tight indeed,
and, seeing the landscape eaten up by this monster at the rate of thirty
miles an hour, came to the conclusion that there was nothing stable in
the universe, not even theology.  And about a mile ahead of them rose a
pillar of dust.

"This is a remarkable situation," thought the bishop; "a situation which
requires some firmness of mind.  I am a bishop, and I am no better than
half my clergy who break the law regularly.  This must be nearly a
hundred miles an hour!  I wish, I almost wish Penelope had died soon
after I christened her.  This Bob is an infernal young ruffian; his
manner is not respectful.  I should like to cane him.  But how can I
stop him?  I do not understand these strange brass things.  I could as
soon play the big organ in the cathedral that I wish I was in.  If I
pull Bob he will have an accident.  If I speak to him, I may divert his
attention—oh!"

They executed a fowl which had not learnt to stand sideways, and slammed
through a village, scattering several ancient inhabitants who were
enjoying a gossip in the middle of the road.  As a matter of fact, they
were damning Geordie Smith in heaps when the pursuing Bob fell upon
them. They passed a church, and the bishop saw a clergyman staring over
the wall.  The village fell into the category of things which had been
and slid away behind them.

"We are stopping still and the world slides," said the bishop, "but that
was Griggs, I know, and he knew me.  He has eyes like a hawk’s.  I am
much surprised at myself.  I have seventeen engagements this afternoon.
Ridley will be alarmed. The dean—oh!"

They slammed a barking dog into the middle of the week after next.

"That was a near shave," roared Bob, exulting. "I’ve seen a smaller dog
than that capsize a bigger car than this!"

"May I speak now?" implored the bishop.

"Righto," said Bob.  "Here’s a good straight bit.  What is it?"

He was the superior: he was a big bird and the bishop was a beetle.  He
was the head master; his lordship of the see of Spilsborough was a new
boy. The bishop felt small, terrified, amazed, humiliated.

"Are we going a hundred miles an hour?" asked the bishop.

"Rot!" said Bob, "we’re only doing about thirty."

They scorched through quiet Crowland.

"Please put me down," implored the humble bishop.

"I can’t stop," said Bob.  "I’m afraid he’s getting ahead.  Sit tight,
bishop, I’m going faster now."

"You mustn’t, you can’t," said the bishop.

Bob stooped for an answer and turned on the fourth speed.  The bishop
felt the machine sailing underneath him.  He fell back and lost all
ordinary consciousness.

"It is true," said his mind deep inside him; "it is true that all things
are illusion!  I have sometimes suspected it.  We are a mode of motion;
we are affections of the ether.  I believe Professor Osborne Reynolds is
right.  I am a kind of vortex spinning in piled grains of ether.  Bob is
a vortex. We are in a vortex.  We are straws in ether; we are shadows.
I have a real non-existent pain in my real imaginary non-existent
stomach.  I am not alive and I am not dead.  I am brave; I am a coward;
I am a bishop.  This is very wonderful. I shall preach about it when I
return to earth.  Is that a hedge?  Did I see a cow?—a strange,
elongated, horned, lowing, permanent, impermanent possibility of
sensation and milk in a field made of matter, which is energy, which is
an illusion. I become calm; motion is relative.  I almost enjoy it.  I
become a Hegelian.  I see that being equals non-being; that pain becomes
pleasure if you only have enough of it.  I no longer pity those who
suffer sufficiently.  There is apparently too little pain in the
universe.  Torquemada did his best to remedy it.  Oh, was that a dog?  I
quite enjoy myself.  I wonder if he can go faster.  If he can, I wish he
would.  We are going slow, too slow!"

And, as Geordie’s dust showed up much nearer, Bob put his car again at
the third speed, and the bishop gasped.

"How do you like it?" asked Bob, as they spun through Spalding.

The bishop’s face was a fine glowing crimson; his bloodshot eyes
glittered like opals; he was intoxicated with movement and with new
lights on philosophy.

"I—I should like to go a thousand miles an hour at night," said the
bishop.  "I think it is wonderful, Bob.  Are you Bob, and I a bishop?
Where is Spilsborough?  Is there a Spilsborough?"

"Steady on!" said Bob.  "I say, you’re excited!"

"I am," replied the bishop.  "I am excited; I feel peculiar.  I think I
can originate a new philosophy.  Why are we doing this?"

"We are trying to find out where Penelope is," said Bob.

"Penelope, Penelope," said the bishop.  "Penelope is a vortex.  Yes, she
is a vortex.  Men and women are vortices.  I shall study mathematics and
apply it to theology."

"Hello!" said Bob, and he stopped almost dead. For Geordie’s dust had
suddenly died down.

"I’ll bet he has a puncture," said Bob.  And the bishop sighed and
stared about him, as if he were just awakened.

"Where are we?" he asked.

"Blessed if I know," said Bob.  "But you ought to know."

"I don’t," said the bishop.  And he got out and stood on the dusty road.
He reeled, and the dean would have said he was intoxicated.  And so he
was.

"Geordie’s off again," said Bob.  "Come, jump in."

"I won’t," said the bishop.  "Certainly I won’t. That machine is a kind
of devil.  It undermines the strongest convictions.  I am afraid of it.
I shall have to resign my bishopric if I ride another mile."

"Oh, rot!" said Bob.  "Aren’t you coming? I can’t wait."

"Take the devilish thing away," cried the bishop. "Anathema maranatha
and all the rest of it!"

Without another word, Bob pulled the lever and sailed off up the road,
leaving a trail of petrol vapour behind him.

"Mentally and physically, I don’t know where I am," said the bishop.  "I
don’t know who I am, either.  From my clothes I conclude I am a bishop,
but to come to that conclusion I have to assume that I have the right to
wear them.  I have had a remarkable experience.  Yes, I am a bishop.
This is the earth and very dusty.  It is hot, and I am miles from
anywhere."

He looked up the road and saw a far cloud of dust.

"Under that dust is Bob," said the bishop.  "As I said, Penelope is a
vortex.  Everything is much more remarkable than I thought, much more
remarkable.  I shall write to the professor to discover what he means.
It is dreadful that what may be called a mere physical experience should
incline me to look on some of my fellow bishops and the higher criticism
with a more lenient eye.  I don’t see how any dogma can survive a
hundred miles an hour.  But Bob has not treated me altogether well.  He
plumps me down somewhere between Spalding and Spilsby or Boston or some
other dreadful locality under the ghostly influence of my brother of
Lincoln, and disappears in dust and smell.  He was distinctly
disrespectful.  He said, ’Sit down, bishop,’ in a very authoritative
manner. He told me I was excited.  I own I was, but I resented being
told so by a boy, because he was a boy, or was it because I am a bishop?
An unaccustomed bishop in a motor-car is plainly nobody compared with an
experienced boy in one.  I wish Penelope was a sensible person, or that
I had never known her, or that she hadn’t been born!  I wonder what I am
to do.  I must walk; I may be overtaken by a cart and get a ride in one.
I anticipate much talk in Spilsborough about this.  I wonder what Ridley
will say.  Ridley is a stoic; perhaps he will say nothing.  I wish I was
near Ridley; I am thirsty.  This road is dusty.  It also appears long
and interminable.  I am as dry as convocation.  I much resent Bob’s
treatment of me.  I wish Bradstock was here, and I was where Bradstock
is. Bradstock is in my library, in my chair, with a book in his hand and
a whiskey and soda by his side. He takes things with great calmness.  I
wish he was here to take this with calmness."

And he walked south for three hours and got back to Spalding, and there
took a train for Spilsborough.



                             *CHAPTER XXI.*


"I don’t think I quite understand the bishop," said Bob, as he left the
dignitary of the Church stranded long miles from anywhere.  "He looked
very queer.  But I suppose they’re made bishops because they are queer,
unless it’s on account of their legs.  I can understand the gaiters, but
the apron licks me.  I’ll ask him about it some day. But I wonder where
we are, and how much longer Geordie will go on.  It’s luck I’ve had no
puncture and no breakdown.  I thought it was all up when I sent that dog
over the hedge.  He did fly. I wonder whether any bobbies have spotted
my number.  I don’t care.  Gordon owes me a lot of money by now.  What’s
thirty-two times two thousand odd?  Oh, I can’t remember.  I’m getting
rather tired."

But he stuck to Geordie like a burr to a sheep, and between the two of
them they stirred up more ancient peace and the haunts of it than any
other two cars in the United Kingdom.  They fairly bounded through
sleepy old Boston, and a policeman, waked up from sleep by Geordie, was
wide-awake enough by the time Bob came through to call on him to stop.

"I wouldn’t stop for an army of policemen," said Bob, recklessly.  "I
don’t care.  I’ll catch Geordie if I die for it.  Gordon will pay my
fines. I wonder how the bishop is.  This is the Spilsby road, is it?  I
wonder whether Pen’s at Spilsby? Will she be very cross with me?  Oh,
that was a hen!  I _do_ think hens shouldn’t be allowed in a road."

A dog stood in the middle of the way and barked. In the middle of his
second bark, the front wheel caught him.  He ended his bark in the
ditch, and was very dreamy about the whole affair for some time
afterward.

"That was a dog," said Bob.  "I _do_ think dogs shouldn’t be allowed in
a road."

He missed a horse by a hairbreadth a mile farther on, and felt very
cross.  He said horses shouldn’t be allowed in a road.  He said the same
of carts and of a carriage, of children and agricultural labourers.
They were so slow.  For now Geordie was going pretty fast, and Bob had
to go on the fourth speed, which is highly illegal and wicked and very
dangerous.  He had never enjoyed himself so much before, and he was
undoubtedly the happiest boy in the three kingdoms.

"Geordie doesn’t know I’m after him," he said. "I’ll bet he’s riding
along easy.  That car of Pen’s can go like lightning if he lets her out.
He will be mad when I come up."

And suddenly he perceived down a long, white road that Geordie was going
more slowly.

"This must be Spilsby," said Bob.  He saw Geordie’s dust go off at a
right angle toward the right.

"I’ve done it," said the exultant boy.  "We must be near Pen’s now."

For to turn to the right in the neighbourhood of Spilsby means to go
toward the North Sea.

Bob ran into Spilsby quite meekly on the second speed, and turned after
Geordie.  A mile farther on, Bob saw a house in some trees, and all of a
sudden there was no more dust from Geordie’s car. Bob pulled up in the
middle of the road.

"By Jove, I’ve done it, I know," said Bob, "and now I feel a bit
nervous.  I wonder what Pen will say, and whether her husband is there,
and what the kid’s like.  Well, here’s for it!  She can’t do more than
eat me."

And he drove on till he came to the house, which was an ivy-covered
building like a square barrack, and would have been hideous without its
creepers. There was a moat around it and big elms hid it from a
distance.  The gate was open, and by the front door stood Geordie and
his car.  Bob gave a view-halloo, and, twisting through the gate, came
to a standstill alongside Pen’s big yellow racer.

And Penelope herself came to the door, and saw not only Geordie, whom
she recognized simply by the fact that he was in a car she knew, but an
undistinguishable stranger also.

"Oh!" said Bob.

"Eh?" said Geordie.

"Who—" said Penelope.

And Bob staggered out of his machine, and fairly reeled when he stood
upright.  He had no notion that no one, not even Titania, could have
recognized him.  He forgot his goggles, and he forgot he was so dusty
that one might have planted cabbages on his cheeks.  He did not know
that he weighed several pounds more than usual, owing to the amount of
Lincolnshire that he carried on him. He had no idea that he was awful,
hideous, a goggled, dirty portent.  He smiled, and the dirt cracked upon
him, and Penelope shrank back.

"Oh, I say, Pen, are you mad with me?" he asked.

And Penelope shrieked and ran to him, and, falling upon him, embraced
him with horrible results to her clothes.

"Oh, Bob, Bob, is it you?" she cried.

"It’s me, right enough," said Bob.  "I say, can I have a drink?  I’m
dying!  Am I dusty?  Yes, so I am.  Oh, Pen, it’s come off on you!  I
say, I do want a drink.  It’s such a warm day, and Geordie would go so
fast.  I followed Geordie."

Geordie looked horribly disgusted, but neither Pen nor Bob paid the
least attention to him.

"Followed up by a boy," groaned Geordie, "and in that thing!"

He regarded the mean fifteen-horse-power concern with great contempt.
"Well, I’m blessed!"

"Oh, come in, Bob, dear Bob," said Pen.

"Are you glad to see me?"

"Oh, I’ve been dying to see you."

"Upon your honour?" asked Bob.

"Yes, yes," said Penelope.  "I want to ask you so much, and I’ve got so
much to say.  But tell me, tell me quick.  Does any one else know where
I am?"

Bob shook dust out of his head.

"Not a soul, unless it’s the bishop," he replied.

"What bishop?"

"The Bishop of Spilsborough," replied Bob.  "I left him on the road."

"Oh!" gasped Pen, "is he following you?"

"Not much," said Bob.  "He got scared and got out and wouldn’t get in
again, and he talked such rot I thought he was mad, for a bishop, so I
left him, and suppose he’s walking home again."

Pen almost shook him.

"But what was he doing with you?"

"He wanted to come part of the way in my car, so I let him, and he was
awfully funky.  I don’t think much of bishops if they’re all like him,
though he did stop Plant and Rivaulx fighting with swords in the
cathedral."

"Fighting? with swords?  Oh, what—" said Penelope.

"To be sure, I forgot you very likely didn’t know.  I’ll tell you by and
by.  Bradstock’s at Spilsborough.  Where’s my drink, Pen?  I say, did
you hear of Mr. Bunting at Oxford?  That was fun.  He threw De Vere out
of the window, and knocked Carteret Williams down with Liddell and
Scott."

"What Mr. Bunting?"

"They thought he was Timothy Bunting, but he wasn’t.  I had tea with him
afterward.  I’ll tell you by and by.  Do you know grandmother had fits
about it all?"

Penelope knew nothing, or very little, and as the results of her fatal
conduct were thus revealed to her in dreadful incomplete chunks, her
heart almost failed her and she half-forgot her own terrible troubles.

"Am I mad, or is Bob?" she asked.  "Oh, the bishop and Guardy and duels
and fits and Mr. Bunting and windows and Liddell and Bob having tea!"

She ran for a drink herself, and poured it over Bob in her eagerness for
more news.

"I say, Pen, be careful!  That went down my neck," said Bob, "and
outside it, too.  I say, who’ve you married?  Tell me.  Where’s the kid?
May I see it?  I say, Pen, you look splendid, but sad somehow and rather
worried.  I feel better now.  I don’t mind what went down outside.  I’ll
have a bath soon.  Where’s the kid?  They _do_ talk a lot about it in
town.  They say, some of ’em, that you’ve married the Rajah of Jugpore,
the little beast, and that the baby is black, or partly black.  Is it?
I know it isn’t."

"Oh, oh!" said Pen, "how horrible of them!"

She rushed at the bell, and when the servant came she commanded the
instant appearance of the baby and the nurse.

"You know they said you married Timothy Bunting," said Bob.

Penelope flushed crimson.

"It was wicked of them."

"That beast Weekes told granny you had.  She said she knew it.  That’s
how I had tea with Mr. Bunting at Oxford, after he’d chucked Plant and
Gordon down-stairs.  They were sick.  Oh, oh! is this the kid?"

Pen took the precious infant in her arms, and told the nurse she might
go and have tea.  When she had disappeared, Pen burst into tears.

"He’s—he’s all I’ve got," she said, sobbing.

Bob started.

"I say, what do you mean?  You don’t mean you aren’t married at all?"

"No, no," said Penelope.  "I mean—oh, it’s terrible!  Oh, baby, I love
you!"

She kissed the baby, who was certainly a very fine baby, and wept again.
Bob inspected the boy with great interest.

"I say, I rather think it’s like Plant," he said.

Pen gasped.

"But in this light, it’s rather like Gordon."

"Oh!" said Penelope.

"And its forehead is like De Vere’s a little. I say, won’t you tell me
who you’ve married?"

Penelope hugged the baby and howled.

"I can’t, I can’t.  We’ve q-quarrelled," she said, "and he’s furious,
and I’m f-furious with him."

"Why?" asked Bob, still inspecting the baby for signs of his male
parentage, "why?  Oh, I say, sideways he reminds me of Williams and
Rivaulx, and upside down he’s a little like Carew and Goby. But why have
you quarrelled, Pen?"

Pen explained with tears how it had happened.

"You see, I said he wasn’t to tell," she said. "And he went to your
grandmother and told!"

"So did all the rest," said Bob, "and that was where granny got very
confused.  I listened.  I know it was a sneak thing to do, but I was
thinking of your interests, and she said to the last of ’em: ’I know
you’ve come to say you’ve married dear Penelope.’  It was very pathetic,
Pen.  I never thought granny could be pathetic before.  She usually
makes me pathetic instead, or she used to. But was he one of ’em?"

"He was," sniffed Pen, "and he broke his solemn oath.  The others were
noble.  I sent them telegrams to say they were noble."

"That’s why they all went to Spilsborough, where you sent the telegrams
from," said Bob, "and that’s why Plant and Rivaulx fought with swords
under the cathedral, till the bishop and the dean stopped them.  I tell
you the dean _was_ mad."

"Oh, dear, dear!" said Penelope.  "I wish they wouldn’t.  Did they hurt
each other?"

"Not much, I think," replied Bob.  "I didn’t see any blood.  But when I
told ’em you’d married Timothy Bunting, Rivaulx lay on the grass and
tried to bite it and howled dreadfully."

"Poor marquis!" said Pen.  "But why did you tell them so dreadful a
story?"

Bob shook his head.

"I’m sorry, Pen, but I believed it.  Weekes said she _knew_, and granny
had fits.  There’s something about fits that makes you believe almost
anything. But you haven’t told me who it is.  I say, with the light
sideways on that baby, he reminds me of Bramber.  But who is it?"

"We’ve p-parted," said Penelope.  "He came and said he’d told, and I was
very f-furious, and we had a r-row.  And he was so cross and mad,
because without me he couldn’t prove it.  For we were married in other
names, and I wrote my name in another handwriting, and I said I would
deny it.  And he flew into a passion and into a motor-car and went away.
And I’ve only my p-pride and b-baby left.  And I’m so sorry for every
one.  And how did you find me?"

Bob told her how he had done it, and told her of Bradstock’s
advertisement, and told her about the bishop, and more about Mr. Bunting
of All Saints, Oxford, who was the strongest man he had ever seen.
Carteret Williams was nothing in his hands.

"And now I’ve told you everything, won’t you tell me who it is?"

"No," said poor Penelope; "it would humiliate me to tell now, and I
won’t."

"But they must know here," said Bob.

"Only three," replied Penelope.  "Miss Mackarness and Geordie Smith and
Timothy.  And Timothy was so unhappy when he heard he had married me
that I sent him away to Upwell, where there are more horses.  But he’s
back now.  And Miss Mackarness and Geordie Smith have sworn not to tell.
And I expect you not to ask them."

Bob snorted a little at this.

"Oh, all right, but I shall have to say where you are when I go back to
Spilsborough."

"Oh, you won’t," said Pen.

"I must," said Bob.  "Bradstock is terribly worried about it now, and
thinks you’ve treated him badly, and the bishop is very curious, and he
asks questions in a way that it’s difficult not to answer somehow.  And
besides there’s granny and all the rest.  I say, do you know Gordon has
been speculating for me, and has made seventy thousand pounds for me?"

"You don’t say so?" cried Pen.

"I think it must be Gordon," said Bob.  "When the shadow’s on that kid,
he looks rather like Gordon, if you can think of Gordon as a baby, which
is hard.  But when I’m a duke, I shall rebuild Goring and pay off some
of the mortgages.  Whoever you’ve married, I’m very grateful to you,
Pen, about Gordon and De Vere.  De Vere bought the spotted dog I told
you of.  I found Goby weeping with Ethel.  That made me think it wasn’t
him. But now you say you’ve quarrelled with him, I’m not sure again.  I
say, I’m very sleepy.  May I stay to-night?"

"Of course," said Penelope.  And then a brilliant idea struck her.

"Bob, you do love me, don’t you?"

"What rot! of course," said Bob.

"Then stay here altogether for a time," said Pen.

"By Jove, what fun!" cried Bob.  "I’ll send ’em a wire, and I will.  Can
Geordie go somewhere else but Spilsborough and send one?"

"Certainly," said Penelope.  And it was arranged that Geordie should go
to Lincoln to send it from there.  This is the telegram Bob sent to Lord
Bradstock:

"I have found Penelope.  She won’t say who it is because she has
quarrelled with him, and she won’t let me come back yet.  I will take
care of her. Tell grandmother and Guthrie.  She quarrelled with him
because he said he was married to her. But the baby is not black."

And Bradstock swore.  The bishop was too tired to swear, perhaps, but he
was very cross.  So were all the others, including her husband.



                            *CHAPTER XXII.*


They had relied greatly upon Bob.  The bishop, though rather bitter on
the subject of Bob, tried to be fair to him, and said he was a very
promising boy.

"I think it most remarkable," said his lordship, when his fine but tired
legs were beneath the mahogany once more, "that he should be able to
drive these dreadful machines with such skill.  He missed a great many
things that he might have hit, but, as he said, he ’boosted’ one dog
over a hedge in a most skilful way.  He said ’boosted,’ a very peculiar
word.  I must write to Doctor Murray about it.  But I do not think he
has been brought up with care.  He was not altogether respectful to me,
Bradstock."

"I much regret it," said Bradstock, "but what can you expect at Goring?
On the whole, his manners are not so bad.  Perhaps you annoyed him. He
does not like being annoyed."

"Indeed," said the bishop, "indeed!  Well, I may have worried him in a
way that I do not quite understand.  But I have to own that for a boy to
put his hand on my shoulder and say, ’Sit down, bishop,’ in a most
authoritative way, made me a little cross.  And when I refused to enter
the motorcar again, I think he might have given me more time to reflect
on the fact that I was a very long way from anywhere.  He was very short
and peremptory with me.  It was most curious, and I regret I did not go
on with him, for I am extremely anxious to put an end to this scandal.
One never knows what will happen.  The duel in the moonlight under the
cathedral was most remarkable.  I wonder when Bob will return."

"So do I," said Bradstock, drily.

"Why do you say so in that tone?" asked the bishop.

"Because I doubt whether he will return at all if he finds Penelope,"
replied Bradstock.

"Good heavens!" cried the bishop, "but he went for the very purpose of
discovering her."

"You don’t know Pen," said Bradstock, "and he worships her.  If she
doesn’t want to be discovered, she will keep him.  I am certain of it."

This showed that Bradstock, though a silent peer, was a very sensible
one.  The bishop frowned and smote the table.

"I shall be extremely angry with Bob if you turn out to be right," he
said, firmly.  "I shall be extremely angry with him."

"Much he will care about that," said Bradstock. "You ought to have gone
on with him."

"I believe I ought to have done so.  Yes, you are right, Bradstock; it
was an error of judgment. I was a coward.  I was afraid to die.  I did
not like the idea of being ’boosted’ over a hedge.  I am ashamed of
myself."

"Never mind," said Bradstock, consolingly, "I have seen heroes quail in
a motor-car.  I myself have quailed in one."

The bishop shook his head.

"Nevertheless, I blame myself.  I ought not to have been afraid, even
though I felt peculiar and unwonted sensations in my gaiters," he
murmured.

He smote the table again.

"I will make amends, Bradstock.  I will devote myself to the task of
finding Penelope at any speed that is necessary.  I cannot quite
reconcile myself to the notion that I am a coward.  I will find her if
Bob deceives us."

"You can’t," said Bradstock, rather gloomily.

"I can, I will," said the bishop.  "I will use my brains."

It was a happy thought.  The bishop mused. There was a knock at the
outer door.  It was a double, a telegraphic knock.

"From the duchess?" asked the bishop.

"From Bob, or I am a bishop," said the peer.

And Ridley gave him a telegram.  Bradstock read it slowly, lifted his
eyebrows, rubbed his handsome white head, and handed it to the bishop.

"From Bob, bishop, a very remarkable Bobbish document."

The bishop read it.

"It certainly is a remarkable document, a very remarkable document,
indeed," said his lordship. "I see it was handed in at Lincoln.  She
won’t say who it is because she has quarrelled with him. With her
husband, that is to say.  She will not let Bob come back.  She
quarrelled with _him_ because he said he was married to _her_.  Very
remarkable! Somewhat confusing.  But it is a relief to hear that the
baby is not black, Bradstock."

Bradstock was pessimistic.

"It may be half-black," he said, mournfully.

"Which half?" asked the bishop, with alarm. "If it is, I hope it will
not be the top half."

"Absurd!" said Bradstock.  "I mean it may be dun or yellowish."

"Let us trust not," replied the bishop.  "I am inclined to think Bob
would have said it was not very black if it had been at all coloured.  I
think we may dismiss the Jugpore legend."

"I trust we may," said Bradstock.

"I have an idea," said the bishop, "I have a luminous idea.  Let us go
to the library."

They adjourned to the library, and Bradstock lighted a cigar.

"What is your idea?" he asked.

"I will tell you in a few minutes," said the bishop, as he laid a big
atlas upon his table. Bradstock watched him curiously.  The bishop
opened the atlas and laid a flat ruler on it.  He shifted it once or
twice, nodded his head, said "Ah!" and nodded it again.

"I believe I have it," said the bishop.  "It will be worth trying, at
any rate."

"What is it?" asked Bradstock.

"Come and look at the atlas," said the bishop, and Bradstock did as he
was asked.

The bishop put his finger-tips together and began:

"Bob was following this person named Smith, and went north, did he not?
Let us say north. I believe it is technically north by east.  He put me
out, or, to be fair even to Bob, I got out and was asked to return very
casually, north of Spalding in the Boston road, miles from anywhere.
This Smith was going back to Penelope.  For while Bob and I were away,
you got her telegram dated Spilsborough, sent to London and
re-telegraphed to you here, saying that she was well, in reply to your
_Times_ advertisement.  Obviously, Penelope lives somewhere north of the
spot where Bob left me without time for argument.  Do you follow me?"

"Certainly," said Bradstock.  "It is all as clear as quaternions."

"Now we get this very remarkable document from Lincoln."

"We do, bishop."

"It is obvious she doesn’t live at Lincoln.  She has sent this very fast
Smith there to send off Bob’s telegram.  Is that not so?"

"Of course," said Bradstock.

"Let us imagine that Lincoln is nearly as far from where she is as
Spilsborough is."

"Let us imagine it," said Bradstock.  "I am willing to imagine it."

"What conclusion do you draw?" asked the bishop.

Bradstock shook his head.

"Really, Bradstock," said the bishop, "I am surprised at you.  If she is
between Spalding and Lough, as I’m sure she is, an equal distance from
her to Lincoln and from her to Spilsborough would place her about
Boston, or perhaps farther north. Now, if on inquiry we find she is not
near Boston, she must be near a decent road fit for motor-cars to
Lincoln.  Do you follow me?"

"I do," said Bradstock.

"Then if she is not near Boston, where is she?" Bradstock studied the
map.

"I should say Burgh, or Warnfleet, or Spilsby."

"Right," said the bishop.  "I am almost sure of it.  For if she had been
farther north, she would not have chosen Spilsborough to telegraph from
in the first instance.  What do you say to that?"

"I say that I am not surprised that you are a bishop, though I may
wonder why you are in the Church," said Bradstock.

"What do you mean by that, Bradstock?" asked his lordship.

"Nothing, nothing at all," replied Bradstock, hastily.  "I agree with
you.  What shall we do?"

The bishop eyed him a little doubtfully, but returned to his muttons.

"I want to bowl out Bob," he said.

"A bishop is a human being, after all," thought Bradstock.

"He might have reasoned with me," said the bishop.  "I am quite free the
day after to-morrow, and we will go to Boston and make inquiries.  If
they fail, we will try Warnfleet and Spilsby and Burgh."

"We will," said Bradstock.  "I think this idea of yours exceedingly
clever, bishop."

"You do?"

"Certain, I do."

"I forgive your recent gibe," said the bishop. "It was clearer than
quaternions to me, and much clearer than Bob’s rudeness, which I
continue to find inexplicable.  And now I think the duchess should be
informed of his telegram.  It will console her, I am sure, to learn that
this fatherless infant is not black."

"Not very black," insisted Bradstock.

And the bishop sent a wire to Titania, saying that Bob had disappeared
into space, but had telegraphed saying that he had found Penelope with a
normal infant.

"After all, he only said it wasn’t black," sighed Bradstock.

But the bishop would not listen to him.  So he went out and sent a wire
to Titania himself.

"I should like to make Bob black and blue," the bishop said.  For his
legs still ached.



                            *CHAPTER XXIII.*


Next morning the bishop had an hysteric telegram from Titania.  It was
obscure and of great length:

"Do not understand anything, but have hopes. Your telegram arrived
before Augustin’s.  You say normal; he says Robert’s words do not convey
anything but negation of extreme blackness. Jugpore going back to India,
owing to scandalous conduct at music-hall.  India Office furious.
Secretary of State in bed.  Rumour now affirms infant not Penelope’s.
Says adopted.  Have just seen Plant and Gordon and Carteret Williams,
and expect the others.  They say they knew it all the time.  Say they
gave her the infant.  Am confused, but hope you and Augustin will clear
up details and find Penelope.  Am exceedingly vexed with Robert. De Vere
has just come, weeps, but seems pleased. Bramber wires wishes to see me,
but father is ill at Pulborough, doctors (three) giving up hope. Goby
just left.  Will come to Spilsborough myself to-day if doctor permits,
owing to palpitations. Keep me informed."

"Dear me!" said the bishop, "this seems quite a new development, a very
surprising one.  But I am sorry to see, Bradstock, that you sent another
telegram without consulting me."

"I didn’t want you to give her too much hope," replied Bradstock.  "You
were so certain.  Your telegram was not logical.  What is not black is
not necessarily white, for not-black may be green, or blue, or magenta."

"You are a pessimist," said the bishop.  "However, I forgive you.  What
surprises me is this adoption story.  I don’t believe it."

Bradstock was fractious.

"Well, I don’t know, bishop.  She always said if she had none of her own
she would adopt one."

"Nonsense!" said the bishop.

"It is not nonsense," said Bradstock.

"Why don’t you say they are twins?" demanded the bishop.

"What are twins?"

"It," said the bishop.  "Really, Bradstock, don’t you see you are
unreasonable?  You will believe anything."

"And this from a bishop," murmured Bradstock. "Why should I say it was
twins?"

"If she adopted one, she might adopt two," said the bishop.

"That is ridiculous.  I never heard of twins being adopted," cried
Bradstock.  "Besides, Bob says ’the baby.’"

"Well, well," said the bishop, "do not let us argue passionately about a
detail."

"I do not see that twins can be called a detail," said Bradstock,
crossly.

"Very well, call them what you like," said the bishop, hastily.  "But I
expect the duchess will be here any moment."

Bradstock said he shouldn’t wonder if she was.

"She will insist on coming with us to-morrow," he said.

The bishop started.

"Bradstock, we will go to-day.  I will put off my business and go at
once.  The duchess is a remarkable woman, but she talks too much."

And such was his lordship’s energy that they started by train for Boston
in less than half an hour.

"I rather enjoy this," said the bishop.  "This is an unusual event in a
life like mine, Bradstock. I wonder whether we shall succeed, and I
wonder what the young rascal will say when he sees me. He will be rather
abashed, I fancy."

"Do you fancy that?" asked Bradstock.  "Is imagination necessary, by the
way, for the clerical or episcopal life?"

"It is highly necessary, but rare," said the bishop.

"So I should imagine," said Bradstock.

"What do you mean by that?" asked the bishop, a little warmly.

Bradstock said he meant nothing by it, except that he was glad it was
necessary.  Nevertheless, the bishop looked at him sternly for some
minutes, and he felt rather uncomfortable.

"I should not be surprised if Titania was now at the palace," he said,
to change the conversation.

"Ridley and my housekeeper must deal with her," said the bishop.
"Ridley deals with every one calmly.  Kings and curates come equally and
easily within his powers.  Ridley may most distinctly be called an
adequate butler.  He will offer her my best spare bedroom, or arrange
for her sojourn at the Grand.  I do not believe an archbishop in a fit
would throw Ridley off his balance. I rather wondered whether it would
disturb him to see me come in with two duelling-swords under my arm upon
that memorable occasion of the duel, but Ridley was as calm as—as an
adequate butler. I rejoice in Ridley.  If we fail to-day, I think I will
ask his advice.  He is a sound and solid thinker.  I hardly think I
should have been a bishop to-day, but for Ridley.  When I was a vicar of
St. Mary’s at Ray Pogis, he came to me, then deeply engaged in smashing
Harnack into dust, and said: ’Sir, the Prime Minister is staying at
Pogis House.’  I knew if he was at Pogis House, he would attend New
Pogis church.  The incumbent at New Pogis was one of those men whom it
would require much courage to make an archdeacon of, and he was under
great obligations to me.  I spoke to him.  He fell ill most opportunely.
I preached a sermon which had every appearance of spontaneity, though I
had spent months upon it, keeping it by me for some such occasion, as it
dealt with the duties of men in high position, and three months later I
was offered Spilsborough. But for Ridley, I might still be a vicar.
This, I believe, Bradstock, is Boston."

They left the train and began to make inquiries just about the time that
Ridley was dealing with the duchess.  He knew all about her, all about
the duke, all about Penelope, all about Bradstock, and all about the
"horde."  He had read all the telegrams, those which were sent and those
which he had picked out of the bishop’s waste-paper basket.

"Yes, your Grace," said Ridley, "his lordship the bishop was called away
early with Lord Bradstock on important business.  He wrote a letter
which his lordship has probably taken away in his pocket, and desired me
to ask your Grace whether you would prefer to stay here or at the Grand.
The Grand is comfortable, but this is quiet."

"I will stay here," said the duchess.  "I should like to lie down at
once."

And when she was comfortable, Ridley cross-examined her maid about
everything, and was soon on firm ground.

"You may rely on his lordship," said Ridley. "With me at his back, he
will be an archbishop yet.  No, certainly not.  The baby is not black if
his lordship says so."

"But they do say she’s not married and it isn’t hers," said the lady’s
maid, shaking her head. "They say now that she has adopted it."

"When I hear of young ladies adopting infants in obscure parts of the
country, I know what to think," said Ridley.

"Lord, Mr. Ridley, but I can’t believe it of her," urged the maid.

"I am alleging nothing against her young ladyship," said Ridley.  "She
states it is hers.  I said that if she stated that she had adopted it, I
should know what to think.  When she states it, I will tell you what I
think.  And in the meantime I may say that I expect every one connected
with this unseemly business to be here shortly.  I am a man of some
discernment.  This adoption rumour will encourage these poor gentlemen,
who are all mad, and they will follow her Grace here, or I am a mere
footman in a poor family and my name’s not Ridley."

It apparently was Ridley, for there was a very loud knock at the door.

"Mr. Ridley, will you see this gentleman?" said the footman, handing the
butler a card, on which was engraved the name of Leopold Norfolk Gordon.
"He seems very excited.  I think he’s a Jew."

"A Jew!" said Ridley.

"By the looks of ’im a Jew," said the footman. And her Grace’s maid gave
them a few details of Mr. Gordon’s career.

"Oh, yes, of course," said Ridley.  "I remember. Let him wait, Johnson.
He can wait in the little room.  As a Christian, I confess to feeling
bitter against Jews, especially as I once borrowed money from one."

"This is a very nice one, though," said the lady’s maid, "and Mr. Robert
is quite fond of him."

"I cannot stomach the idea," said Ridley.  "I thought better of the boy.
But I suppose I must see what he wants, though I can guess."

He interviewed Gordon in the little room.

"I want to see his lordship the bishop," said Gordon.

"His lordship the bishop is absent on important business, sir," said
Ridley.  He added to himself, "As the butler of a Christian bishop, I
object to calling him ’sir;’ but as a butler in the habstract I must."

"Where has he gone?" asked Gordon.  "Do you know?"

"He has gone to look for her young ladyship, sir."

"Ah!  I guessed it!  With Lord Bradstock?"

"Yes, sir, with his lordship."

"Which way has he gone?"

"I don’t think, sir, that I should be justified in mentioning which way,
sir," said Ridley.

"Oh, yes, you would," said Gordon.  He put his hand in his pocket.

"I do not think so, sir.  At least, I have doubts," said Ridley, with
modified firmness.

Gordon took out a sovereign and scratched his nose with it.

"Which way?"

"Boston way," said Ridley.  "Thank you, sir. But I do not think you can
find him or catch him. Could I assist you in any manner, sir?  Things
are mixed, sir.  Have you heard the news that Mr. Robert sent?"

"What news?" asked Gordon.

"I ’ardly think I should be justified in repeating it, sir," said
Ridley.

"Oh, yes, you would," said Gordon, as he put his hand in his pocket.

And Ridley told him all about everything. Gordon knew very little beyond
the fact that Bob had sent a telegram to Bradstock, who had sent it to
the duchess, who had published it on the wires that the infant was not
black.  And of course he knew the fresh London rumour that Penelope had
adopted it.

"Her Grace the Duchess of Goring is now in the palace, sir," said
Ridley.  "And between you and me, sir, I should not be surprised if all
the other gentlemen came.  I suppose you heard of the duel, sir?"

"What duel?" asked Gordon.

"I do not think I should be justified in saying which duel, sir," said
Ridley.

"Oh, yes, you would," said Gordon, thinking that a Christian butler was
a very expensive person to deal with.  And Ridley told him.

"You’ll send me word to the Grand when his lordship comes back?" said
Gordon.

"I should hardly be—"

"Of course, you would be," said Gordon.

"Very well, I will, sir," said Ridley.

Gordon went back to the hotel, and Ridley went back to the others.

"He’s not at all bad for a Jew," he said, contemplatively, "not at all
bad.  I only hope that the Christian gentlemen whom I expect every
moment will be as reasonable."

Before the evening was over, he interviewed with varying results Mr.
Rufus Q. Plant, Mr. de Vere, Captain Goby, and Mr. Carteret Williams.
He knew that Lord Bramber couldn’t come on account of the illness of the
earl, and he heard that Carew was down with influenza and delirious on
the subject of Penelope.  He told the others what he thought of them
all.

"Mr. Plant is a man I should like to meet often," said Ridley.  "I have
heard people say unpleasant things of Americans.  It may be true that
they know little of cathedrals.  I myself have heard an American speak
of our best Norman harches as vurry elegant Gothic.  I have known one
voluble with hadmiration of a beastly bit of late perpendic’lar. But a
man may know little of harchitecture and be a very worthy person for all
that.  This Mr. Plant has ways that I’ve heard described as befitting a
nobleman.  My own opinion is that very few noblemen have ideas befitting
an American millionaire.  Dukes are often mean; earls also.  I am
acquainted with one viscount who is viciously careful.  Mr. Plant is a
gentleman far above the others, even above Captain Goby, who has a
generous mind.  Mr. Williams is peculiar, but, for a poor man, not mean.
His second cousin, Lord Carteret, when I knew him, was as fine an
open-handed, swearing nobleman as one would wish to meet.  Mr. Austin de
Vere is peculiar; mad, I think, about dogs especially.  Young Mr. Robert
told me he collected bulldogs.  He said it with a wink which I did not
understand.  I wonder where his lordship is now."

His lordship the bishop and Lord Bradstock were both cross.  They had
drawn Boston blank, and found it too late and too hot to go on to
Spilsby and Waynfleet and Burgh.

"Well," said the bishop, "we have proved a certain amount.  She isn’t at
Boston."

"Nor at Windsor or Manchester or Bristol or Plymouth," said Bradstock,
whose temper was rapidly going.

"I am surprised at you," said the bishop, who felt it necessary not to
be cross when Bradstock was.  "We have also proved that a yellow car
comes through here very often, mostly without disastrous results.  She
is farther north.  We will go to Spilsby to-morrow, I think."

"I think I will stay at home," replied Bradstock, "or at your place, and
I’ll read theology."

The bishop raised his eyebrows.

"It will do you good, if you can understand it," he said, a little
tartly.

"I do not expect to understand it," said Bradstock.

"Then why read it?"

"Only to see if the theologians understand it," replied Bradstock.

It was quite evident that events were proving too much for Bradstock.
It was also evident that Bradstock was proving too much for the bishop.

"As a layman, you had better stick to Paley," said the bishop, tartly.
"But let us return to Spilsborough.  I own my temper is a little touchy
to-day, Bradstock."

Bradstock’s heart softened.

"Bishop, I apologize for touching it," he said. "Penelope is rather too
much for me."

"She is too much for all of us, I fear," said the bishop.

They took the train for home, and, as they moved out of the station, a
man in the waterproof clothing of a chauffeur came on the platform.  He
was not wearing goggles.

"Bishop," said Bradstock, "that man is Geordie Smith."

"Do you think he saw us?"

"How do I know?"

"I didn’t ask how you could know.  I only asked what your opinion was,"
said the bishop.

"My opinion is worthless," said Bradstock.

"Dear me!" said the bishop, blandly.



                            *CHAPTER XXIV.*


England was excited, and London was more excited still.  But
Spilsborough was the most excited of them all.  How it came out, no one
knew, but the fact that the bishop was hunting for Lady Penelope
Brading, who was married, who was unmarried, who had an infant which was
black, which was white, which was adopted, was blazed all over that
quiet episcopal town.  Dean Briggs was very much annoyed, for the
cathedral was no longer the centre of interest in the place.  The clergy
and the choir and the beadles and the tradesmen all discussed Lady
Penelope.  They stood in knots and fought and wrangled and argued till
they were metaphorically black in the face.  The lovers were pursued by
gangs of boys who knew their names, and expected them to fight when they
met, and followed them around in the hope of making a ring for them.
All the world was aware that the duchess was at the palace.  As a
result, every one called there who was on terms with the bishop.  It is
not at all surprising that rumour ran fast, east and west and south and
north.  It is not every day that a quiet cathedral town is the centre of
a vast social cyclone.  Boston and Spalding had their eyes on
Spilsborough.  Boston knew that the bishop had made an unepiscopal
visitation there with a white-haired peer.  Spilsby heard of it, and was
jealous. Spilsby talked of it and began to wonder who the young married
lady at the Moat House was.  Spilsby wondered slowly.  In Lincolnshire
things move slowly.  Lincolnshire is not fast.  Folks there are rooted
to the soil; they consider matters firmly and stolidly.  And of course
it has to be remembered that they belong to the see of Lincoln and do
not think very much of Spilsborough.  Spilsborough was all very well, no
doubt, but Lincoln was older and finer and much more wonderful.
Nevertheless, though the Lincolnshire folks are slow, they get there at
last.  It was all very well for Penelope to call herself Mrs. Bramwell.
The Spilsby people began to see through the matter.  In another month
they would have solved the problem, and would have given away the
solution by calling Mrs. Bramwell "Your ladyship."  But this was not to
be, for when Geordie came back from Boston, he went to Bob at once.

"Mr. Robert, the gaff is pretty nigh blowed," he said, earnestly.

"Is it?" asked Bob.

"Safe as houses," said Geordie.  "I’ve my suspicions that the whole show
is up the spout, or very nigh up!"

"You don’t say so?" said Bob.

"Blimy, but I do say it," replied Geordie.  "I saw that gaitered josser,
the bishop, at Boston this very afternoon.  Her ladyship will be spoofed
and smelt out.  Some one is givin’ the game away.  I don’t trust that
bishop."

"No more do I," said Bob.  "He’s very mean, Geordie.  He encouraged me
to follow you so that I could tell them where my cousin was."

"Bah!" said Geordie, "and they call him a bishop!  Her ladyship wishes
not to be found out, and she sha’n’t be—by a bishop.  I own I don’t
understand her ladyship’s idea."

"I do," said Bob.  "Suppose some one said you couldn’t do something,
Geordie, a hundred miles an hour for instance."

Geordie shook his head.

"I’d show ’em!"

"And that you wouldn’t after you said you would."

"I’d show ’em," repeated Geordie.

"And that you shouldn’t?"

"Shouldn’t be damned, beggin’ your pardon, Mr. Robert.  I’d show ’em!"

"That’s my cousin’s idea," said Bob.

"And a dashed good idea, too," said Geordie. "I hate interferin’ folks
worse than policemen. I’d tell her ladyship about this here bishop.  And
Lord Bradstock was with him, sir."

"The devil!" said Bob, and he ran to Penelope bawling.

"I say, Pen, you’ll have to go," he roared, bursting into the room where
Pen was lamenting over her many griefs.  "The bishop is after you.
Geordie’s seen him and Bradstock, too.  And I feel quite certain that
all of ’em will be at Spilsborough now."

"I won’t go," sniffed Pen.

"Oh, but you must," said Bob.  "You can’t be caught here now by the
whole lot."

"I don’t seem to care," said Penelope.

"Oh, what rot!" cried Bob.  "You won’t break down now, Pen, just in the
middle of the game. I mean in the middle of your idea.  Just think how
they’ll crow over you and the baby."

That roused Penelope.

"They—they sha’n’t!"

"Well, they will, unless you’ve got the one you are married to here,"
said Bob.  "Or are you going to tell me who it is?"

Pen snuffled sadly.

"How can I when we’ve q-quarrelled?" she demanded.

"Then we’ll start at once," said Bob.  "I’ll tell Miss Mackarness and
Tim and all of ’em, and we’ll get your car and mine and we’ll go
somewhere else."

"But where?" asked Pen.

"What rot!" said Bob.  "You’ve got heaps of houses; any of ’em that are
deserted.  Upwell Castle will do."

"So it will," said Penelope, helplessly.  "But we can’t go to-day, Bob.
Baby is always asleep at this hour.  Can’t it be to-morrow?"

Bob shook his head.

"It’s very dangerous, with the bishop on our track," he said; "it’s very
dangerous.  He’s very determined, except in motor-cars.  In motor-cars,
going fast, he’s not at all determined.  But out of ’em he’s a terror.
I’d go to-day."

"No, no, to-morrow," said Penelope, weeping.

And Bob went away.

"I wish Baker was here," he said.  "Baker is quite as determined as the
bishop, and his advice would be very valuable.  I wish I knew how to
treat Gordon.  I’m afraid he’ll be angry.  If he’s angry, he may keep my
money.  Well, I don’t care."

He told Miss Mackarness to pack up, and Miss Mackarness said she would.
Miss Mackarness remarked that the world was not what she had imagined it
when she was young.  It had in fact come to an end.  She said she was
not surprised at anything and never would be again.  She said she had
never been in a motor-car, but wanted to be in one, because death seemed
quick and easy in a motor-car. She also said that if she escaped, and
Lady Penelope was killed, she knew of a good opening in a lunatic asylum
for a woman without nerves, who could not be surprised, and had been
accustomed to the ways of the highest society.

"Oh, yes, yes; we’ll be ready," said Miss Mackarness.  And Bob went away
to instruct Geordie and Timothy Bunting, and he spent the whole
afternoon, covered with dirty oil, dancing about the two motor-cars,
while Geordie put them into first-class trim.

"We ain’t going to be run to ground by a bishop," said Bob.

"Not much we ain’t, sir," said Tim.  "I’d sooner go in one of these
machines, so I would."

It was the first time he had ever said as much, and Geordie paid him a
compliment from under the car.

"That’s the first sensible remark I’ve ever heard you make, Tim," said
the concealed chauffeur.

"Thank you," said Timothy.  "I always said you were a good chap,
Geordie, even if you was wrapped up in muck and grease."  And an idea
came to Bob.

"I know what I’ll do about Gordon," he said. "I’ll write something about
this now so’s to show it him afterward."

He wrote:

"Pen is very sad.  I fear she has quarrelled with Gordon.  I’m sure she
has married Gordon.  I wish she would let me send to him to come, but
she has sworn me not to.  I think the baby is very like Gordon.  It is
clever like him, only, being younger, not so clever.  I don’t mind if it
is Gordon. Gordon has been very kind to me, knowing how poor the family
is.  I wish I was as clever as he is."

He read it over carefully.

"He’s more jealous of Rivaulx than any one. I’ll put something in about
him."

He added:

"I think Rivaulx an ass because of balloons."

"That will please Gordon," said Bob, as he stowed his note-book away.
"But I do wish I knew who it is.  Women are very fond of secrets. They
seem to like babies and secrets best.  Pen likes both together, and it’s
very confusing to any one."

They started next morning in the two cars for Upwell Castle, taking the
whole household.  Bob installed an old villager and his wife as
caretakers. He had selected them himself on the ground that they seemed
the stupidest people in the village. Bob was very clever, if not so
clever as Gordon.

"I think we’ve spoofed ’em, Pen," said Bob.

Penelope hugged her baby and wept.

"Why are you crying?" asked Bob.

"I don’t know," said Penelope.

"Then don’t," said Bob.  "It makes me very uncomfortable."

They devoured space, and Timothy held on to the car and to Miss
Mackarness.  Miss Mackarness said it altered her ideas.  Tim said it
didn’t, but then he was very conservative.

"Now, let ’em all come," said Bob.



                             *CHAPTER XXV.*


Titania fell on Bradstock’s neck when he came back with the bishop.  She
very nearly fell on the bishop’s neck, too, which alarmed him very much
indeed, though he had all that confidence with women which marks the
celibate clergy, especially when they are beautiful.

"My dear-r Augustin," said Titania, "I came at once.  I felt I had to.
I felt I must.  There is no sympathy at home for me in my troubles.  The
duke laughs, laughs in my face, and says Penelope is damn fine sport!"

"Tut, tut!" said the bishop, who was loath to think that dukes could use
bad language.  "I very much regret to hear it."

Titania waved her hands at large.

"But I do not care.  I am wrapped up in woe, and in Robert.  Where is
he?  Show me the telegram he sent."

They showed her the telegram.

"Not black!  Oh, Augustin, that might mean anything."

"So it might.  What did I say, bishop?" asked Augustin.

"Nonsense!" said the bishop.  "I do not believe it is even dark.  This
is all waste of time. Time cannot now be wasted.  This scandal grows.
Ridley tells me all these unfortunate gentlemen, but Lord Bramber and
Mr. Carew, are in the town. I have had telegrams from both of those
asking for information, most excited telegrams. Mr. Carew says he is
delirious with fever, and I believe him.  Lord Bramber says his father
is delirious, which I much regret.  I think the son is also delirious,
though he does not say he is.  He implores me to remember that he is
entitled to know first where Penelope is, as he is her husband.  This is
the telegram."

Augustin and Titania read it.

"If we could only believe it," said Titania.

"We cannot," said the bishop.  "Ridley declares they all say the same.
They also say the infant is an adopted one.  I do not remember, in the
course of all that wide experience which comes to a country clergyman in
a place like Ray Pogis, any situation equal to this.  As a bishop with a
wider experience, I have seen nothing so absurd even in the conduct of
my clergy, who are indeed hard to beat in stupidity.  I regret we did
not go on to Waynfleet and Spilsby, Bradstock."

"So do I," said Bradstock, eyeing Titania.

"We will go to-morrow," said the bishop.  "I have an intuition that
to-morrow we shall find her. I feel sure of it."

"I will come with you," said Titania.  "I must! I must!  I cannot help
fearing, Augustin, that the very worst may have happened.  I have now no
confidence whatever in dear, misguided Penelope’s morals.  I do not feel
sure that the child is not black, or that it is adopted!"

"Good heavens!" said Augustin.

"Good heavens!" echoed the bishop.

"I haven’t," affirmed Titania, dreadfully.  "No such thing has happened
in our family since the time of Charles the Second, which was lamentable
but natural, and has long since been forgiven.  I mistrust the general
attitude of all these men, bishop.  I mistrust it!"

"Certainly they seem in great distress," said the bishop.

Titania rose and looked awful.

"Only upon one supposition can I account for it, bishop.  This is their
remorse.  They are remorseful.  They have treated her badly, and she has
fled from them in her shame and will not see them!"

"Ha!" said the bishop, "there is something in that!"

"A great deal in it," boomed Titania, in her deepest tone of tragedy.
"It explains everything."

But Bradstock said:

"Infernal nonsense, Titania!  Bishop, I am surprised at you.  They can’t
_all_ be remorseful."

"Why not?" demanded Titania; "why not, Augustin?"

"Of course not," interjected the bishop, hastily.

"Why not, I ask?" repeated the duchess.

"Oh, well, you know," said Bradstock, "when you come to think of it,
wouldn’t _one_ be enough to be remorseful for having behaved like a
scoundrel?"

The duchess collapsed.

"Dear me! so it would," she said, weakly. "Now I come to think of it,
one would be sufficient. Nothing is explained or can be explained till
we find Penelope."

The same feeling of desperation inspired the lovers in the various
hotels.  Their hopeless passion grew upon them.  The sense of mystery
deepened.  They were sorry for Penelope, for the others, for themselves.
What did she mean by it?  They were all agreed now about the adoption
theory, though they stuck to it manfully that they were married to her.
Each one believed the infant was adopted, while he nobly claimed it as
his own. They were really noble creatures, and showed themselves worthy
of a better fate.  A peculiar feeling of sympathy grew up among them, as
it does among the unfortunate who are yet strong enough not to be
overwhelmed.  They spoke to each other again. Goby took De Vere’s arm
and walked about with him.

"I wish I could tell you all the truth, old chap," sighed Goby.

"Ah, so do I," said the poet.  "A great passion is a wonderful thing,
Goby."

"So it is, old chap," said Goby.  "Do you remember the happy days we
spent in your home when we read Browning and Shelley together, and you
explained your poems to me?"

Austin de Vere sighed.

"Ah, they were happy days, when my nose peeled on the water and my hands
were blistered by rowing."

"Do you remember the bulldog?" asked Goby.

"Ah, and the terrier he bit!"

"And the howling retriever?"

"And the bald, bronchitic Borzois," said De Vere, with enthusiasm.  "I
bought them all of Bob because she loved him."

"I didn’t like you then, Austin, old chap," said Goby.

Austin gripped his arm.

"Plantagenet, we will be friends always.  Now I can confess that I
loathed you.  I told Bradstock so.  I said you were an ass."

"So I am," said poor Goby.  "I admit now I can’t understand Browning."

Austin looked about him:

"My dear chap, no more do I," he said, in an alarmed whisper.  "He’s a
much overrated man."

"I never overrated him myself," said Goby, sagely.  "Look here, Austin.
You know, of course, that I’m married to Penelope?"

"Of course," said Austin.  "And you know that I am?"

"We’ll quarrel about nothing now.  To-morrow we’ll look for her.
Ridley, the bishop’s butler, told me Bradstock and the bishop were going
to Spilsby to-morrow.  I gave him a sovereign."

"So did I," said Austin.  "Let’s go in to dinner.  I’m glad we are
friends, Plantagenet."

"So am I, old chap," said Goby.

At a near table to them were Rivaulx and Gordon. Farther off Plant was
with Carteret Williams. Plant regretted that Bramber wasn’t there.
Williams sighed for the artistic company of the delirious Carew.  Not
one look of envy or hatred or malice passed between any of them.

"Marquis," said Gordon, gloomily, "will you come to-morrow with me to
find my—I mean, Penelope?"

"I will, my dear Gordon," replied the marquis. "To Spilsby."

"How did you know?"

"Ridley, the bishop’s man, said it."

"He told me, too.  I gave him five pounds," said Gordon.

"I gave him four."

"I’ll bet he’s told ’em all," said Gordon.  "I say, marquis, those were
jolly, happy days before this misery came on, when you and I dined
together."

"And went up in balloons," said the marquis.

Gordon shook his head.

"Well, yes, even the balloons.  Do you know, marquis, I hated you then.
I don’t now.  I think you a real good chap."

The marquis held out his hand, and Gordon shook it.

"Gordon, I used to despise you.  It was a great trial to dine with you.
I’m glad I did it now.  I’m a wiser, better man for the trials.  I see
that Jews can be noble by nature just as they can be barons by creation.
I finally absolve Dreyfus.  I almost love you now!"

"Good old marquis," said Gordon.  "When we get up to town, I’ll put you
on the betht thing in the market.  I will, so help me!"

Carteret Williams and Plant got on well together. They talked first of
Bramber and Carew.

"Carew’s all right," said Williams; "all right for an artist.  I was in
the Ashanti war with an artist once.  I put his head in a bucket of
water!"

"Why?" asked Plant.

"Because he was too drunk to draw," said Williams.  "He hated me when he
got sober, and caricatured me.  I never liked artists afterward.  But
when Penelope put me into harness with Carew, I found there was good
stuff in him.  He could work.  He talked awful rot, but there was
something at the back of it.  I had to own it.  How did you get on with
Bramber?"

"I thought him a damn fool," said Plant.  "But I found out he wasn’t.
There’s stuff in Bramber. My—I mean, Penelope knew that.  I say, as he
isn’t here, poor chap, will you come to Spilsby with me to-morrow?"

Williams started.

"How did you come to think of Spilsby?" he asked, suspiciously.

"The bishop’s butler told me.  I gave him five pounds," said Plant.

"I gave him two," said Williams.  "Yes, I’ll go with you, as Carew isn’t
here.  I like Carew now.  Poor Carew!"

"And I like Bramber, poor chap," said Plant. "And now I’ll go and shake
hands with the marquis, who wanted to kill me last time I was here."

"I wish I’d seen that," said Williams, simply. "I like seeing fights!"

They spent a happy evening together and talked of Bob.  Austin was great
upon Bob.  And so was Gordon.  Austin told them all about the dogs. Goby
spoke about the spavined pony he had bought. Gordon told them how Bob
had borrowed a hundred pounds of him to be put into something.

"I owe him fifty thousand pounds, at least," said Gordon.  "The boy is a
financier.  I wish I had a boy like Bob."

And just then Carew walked into the room.  He looked ill, but was as
handsome as paint.  Williams jumped to his feet.

"Oh, Jimmy, I heard you were delirious," he said, anxiously.

"I was," said Jimmy, "very delirious, extraordinarily so.  I’m not sure
that I’m not delirious now."

He looked around the room anxiously, and drew Williams into a corner.

"Do you know anything about delirium?" he asked, anxiously.

"A lot about delirium tremens," said Williams. "Most of the artists I’ve
been with in Africa had it.  They said it was malaria.  But have you
been drinking?"

Carew shook his head.

"Not much, but I see the room is full of ’em!"

"Full of what?"

"Things, visions, phantasms!" said Jimmy, creepily.  Williams looked
around in alarm.

"You don’t say so!"

"Yes," said Jimmy.  "This influenza is awful! I could swear I see the
marquis and Gordon and that ass Goby and De Vere!"

"Pull yourself together," said Williams. "They’re here all right!"

"Are they real?" asked Jimmy.  "They’re not delusions?"

"Devil a bit!" said Williams.

"Oh," said Jimmy, "then I think I’ll have some brandy.  What are they
doing here?"

[Illustration: JIMMY CAREW, A.R.A. He was the best looking of the whole
"horde"]

"What are we doing here?" asked Williams. "We’re mad!  Oh, but, Jimmy,
I’m dashed glad to see you," said Williams, with a lurid string of
emphatic war expressions.  "Those were happy days when I learnt about
art with you, and you learnt about life with me!"

"They were," said Jimmy.  "But now I’m almost sick of art."

Williams implored him not to say so.

"Think of Rembrandt and Velasquez and Whistler!"

"I can’t think of them.  I think of Penelope!"

"Try to think of Monet and Manet," said Williams.  "They’ll do you
good."

"To be sure, to be sure," sighed Jimmy.  "I’ll try to."

They talked till two in the morning, and the only man missing was
Bramber.

"Perhaps he’s chucked it," said Williams.  "The last time I saw him he
looked sick enough to chuck anything.  But I suppose the old earl is so
rocky he can’t get away."

"I hate earls," said Jimmy, jealously.  He added with extraordinary
irrelevance, "But I’m glad she adopted him."

No doubt he referred to the infant.



                            *CHAPTER XXVI.*


While Pen and Bob and the baby were going as fast as they could toward
Upwell Castle, Pen wept at intervals and hugged the child that all the
"horde" were glad she had adopted.

"My only darling," said Pen, convulsively.

Bob shook his head.

"I say, Pen, I really don’t understand you, you know!  I say, this is
rot!  You mustn’t cry; I can’t stand it.  And you keep on saying it’s
your only one in a very silly way.  You irritate me very much, Pen!"

"Why, Bob?" asked the desolate creature at his side.

"You could stop all this if you wanted to!"

"Not now," said Pen, "since we’ve quarrelled!"

"Rot!" said Bob.  "You tell me who it is and I’ll bring him along.  But
I’m glad it isn’t Timothy, you know."

Timothy was now with Geordie in the other car.

"I can’t tell you," said Pen.

"Then don’t snivel, please," said Bob, crossly, "or I shall drive into
something and kill the baby."

"Oh!" said Pen, "oh, please don’t!"

"I think it’s very hard lines," said Bob, "especially as Geordie and Tim
know, and Miss Mackarness.  If they know, I ought to."

"I had to tell them, Bob.  Besides, they knew him," said the incautious
Pen.

Bob’s eyebrows lifted, and he drove rather fast down the next straight
bit of road.

"I say," he said to himself, "I ought to make something of that."

He thought very hard and did not speak for a mile.  He thought all the
more.

"Tim knows ’em all, of course.  And Geordie may, though I remember his
saying he didn’t. But who does Miss Mackarness know?  If I can spot
that, I can spot the winner."

He went back to the time of Pen’s youth, which he only knew by hearsay,
as he wasn’t much more than born then, and went through the list one by
one.

"By Jove!" he said, suddenly, and Penelope started.

"Yes, Bob."

"No," said Bob, thoughtfully; "no, I’m not sure."

"What aren’t you sure of, dear?"

"Him," said Bob, and Penelope sighed.

After another mile’s silence, Bob spoke again.

"By Jove!"

"You said that before," cried Pen, irritably. He turned his eyes upon
her, and she saw them full of strange intelligence.

"Oh, what is it?" she asked, in alarm.

Bob shook his head.

"You’ve told me who it is," he said.

"I haven’t."

"You have," said Bob.  "Pen, you’re a wonder! I say, are all girls like
you?"

Penelope said she didn’t know, and demanded his meaning.

"If they are, they’re interesting but trying," said Bob.  "You couldn’t
have made more fuss about it if it had been Bunting.  Pen, you are a
wonder.  Well, I don’t mind; I like him well enough.  He’s all right.  I
hope Bill will like him."

"You are an annoying, irritating boy," said Pen, crossly.  "And you know
nothing."

"Bar him and Miss Mackarness and Timothy and Smith, I’m the only one
that does," said Bob, drily.  "I know you, Pen.  You were ashamed of
him, after all you used to say.  All right, don’t get angry.  I’m all
right.  I’ll keep it dark till you say pull up the blinds.  It’s not my
business.  But I’m glad I know.  For granny doesn’t, and no one has
guessed, not even Baker.  And he’s had great experience with girls in
all parts of the world, just as he has had with dogs."

Pen wept.

"You are saying all this to worry me.  How can you know?" she cried.

"I’ll tell you some day," said Bob.  "But because you haven’t told me
yourself, and have made me find out, I won’t tell you who it is till I
want to.  But one thing I’ll say, I don’t think your brother Bill really
likes him."

He whistled and let the car out till she fairly hummed.  Pen was
exceedingly cross, and hugged the baby, hoping that they would both be
killed at once.

"I don’t know what’s going to happen," she said.  "I’ve done my best,
and nothing but trouble comes of it.  If I had to begin again, I don’t
think I’d try to reform anything.  I—I hate reform!"

In the meantime Miss Mackarness’s ideas got sadly altered.  She did not
mind dying at first, but when Bob really went fast, it seemed to her
that she loved life better than she thought.

"If I am to die," she said, "I would rather die in my bed, much rather.
I want peace, and my dear lady gives me none.  This young wretch is no
better than a murderer.  He laughs.  I can’t laugh. I can’t even speak.
The wind stops my screaming. I want to get out and die quietly."

They pulled up close to a village to let a wagon loaded with long
timbers get into a side road.  Miss Mackarness seized her chance, and,
opening the door, jumped to the ground.

"If you please, my lady, I’m going no farther. I will come on later in a
cart."

Penelope remonstrated with her.  Bob was urgent and impatient.

"We may be caught any minute," he said. "Pen, let her come on in a
cart."

"If you prefer it," said Penelope.

"My lady, I much prefer it," said the housekeeper.

Bob let the car go, and Geordie, coming on behind, pulled up to
interview Miss Mackarness.

"Sooner than go in one a mile farther," she said, firmly, "I would lie
down and die."

"That’s silly, ma’am," said Geordie.

"I would rather live silly than die wise," replied Miss Mackarness.  "I
may be used to much and past surprises, but I can’t stomach these cars."

They left her in the road.  And now they drove fast, for Bob set the
pace, and made it a rapid one.

"I say, Geordie," said Timothy, about twenty miles farther on, "don’t
you think you could go slower?"

"How can I, with the other car ahead, man?" demanded Geordie.

"Well, I feels queer inside," said poor Timothy. "I’d rather ride a
bucking man-eater than go another yard.  Set me down!"

"Not me," said Geordie.  "Be a man, Tim!"

"I won’t," said Tim.  "Set me down.  I’ll walk."

"Or come on in a cart," sneered Geordie. "Why, Mary here don’t mind, do
you, Mary?"

Mary did mind, but she adored Geordie, and said she didn’t.  She
preferred to die with Geordie than to ride with Miss Mackarness in a
cart.

"I don’t care," said Tim; "if Mary wants to die in a blazin’ fiery mass
of petrol under a wreck, I don’t.  Let me down."

And Geordie let him down.

"A mad bull sooner," said Tim.  "And, though I ’ates walkin’, bein’ a
groom, I’d rather walk to hell than motor into paradise."

But peace was established in the cars by now. Geordie and Mary sat side
by side, and whenever the pace was hot, she grabbed him so tightly that
he remonstrated.

"My dear, I’d rather you hugged me when we go slow," he said at last.

"Lor’, Mr. Smith, I wasn’t huggin’ you," remonstrated the blushing Mary.

"To an outsider it would appear so," said Geordie.  "When a young lady
puts her arms around a man’s neck, it looks like huggin’.  Mind I don’t
say I object, but I _might_ run into the hedge."

"What a very amusin’ gentleman you are," said Mary.  "I’ve a very small
opinion of Mr. Bunting except upon an ’orse.  I’m surprised he preferred
to walk."

"I’m not," said Geordie.  "I expected it, and if we went really fast,
you’d want to walk."

"Never," said Mary.  "I love goin’ fast.  There’s great po’try in a
motor-car, Mr. Smith."

"Poetry, well, maybe," said Geordie.  "To my mind, there’s more
machinery and oil.  I wonder what the next thing will be with my lady,
Mary."

"Ah," said Mary, "that’s more than I can say. She’s very sweet and kind,
but I’ve give up tryin’ to understand ’er.  And such an ’usband, too.
If I ’ad an ’usband, I’d like to show ’im off, if I was proud of ’im,
and I would."

"Would you be?" asked Geordie.

"I ’ope so," said Mary.

"I guess you’d expect him to do what you wanted, like my lady," said
Geordie.

"Oh, no, never," said Mary.  "I’d do hexactly as I was told by ’im I
loved.  I don’t believe in a woman ’angin’ on a man and tellin’ ’im to
do this or that!"

And just then a mighty fine stretch of road opened before them, and Bob,
half a mile in front, turned his car loose at the top speed.  Geordie
put his on the third, and Mary squealed.

"Hush your row, my dear," said Geordie. "Why, bless me, what’s the
matter with the girl!"

She had him tight by the neck.

"Oh, I’m frightened, Mr. Smith.  Don’t go so fast," she screamed.

"Lemme go," gasped Geordie, whom she was nearly strangling.  "Lemme go,
girl!"

"Never, never!" said Mary, settling on him tighter still.  "Stop, stop!"

"I won’t," said Geordie.  "D’ye think I’ll let that young un get away
from me?"

"You must," screamed Mary, "or I’ll get out."

"Then get out," said Geordie, rudely.

"Oh, you cruel, cruel Mr. Smith!" wailed Mary. "Let me down before I’m
killed."

Geordie wrenched himself free.

"D’ye mean it?" he asked.

"Yes, you brute!" said Mary, "I does mean it."

He put her down there and then.

"You’re no gentleman," said Mary.

"I never said I was," retorted Geordie, with his eyes on the vanishing
Bob.

"And I hate you, you coward," sobbed Mary.

"There’s a village a mile up the road," said Geordie.  And he left her,
disappearing in a whirlwind.

"Oh, I’m a sad, des’late, disappinted, jilted woman, with thin shoes and
three and tuppence in my pocket," said Mary.  "And I don’t know where I
am!"

She sat on a pile of road metal and cried bitterly. She took it much
harder than the bishop did in a similar situation.

"Well, it can’t be helped," said Geordie, "and I don’t know that I’m
sorry.  She’d have proposed if I’d kept her at the second speed, I know
that; so perhaps I’m well out of it."

He whirled after Bob and his lady, and soon caught them up.

There was peace on that car, too, for Bob hadn’t been able to keep his
discovery to himself.

"Yes, you’re right, Bob," sighed Penelope. "But what could I do after
what I’d said?  And what can I do now?"

"Cheer up!" said Bob.  "I’ll fix it for you somehow.  Do you know, Pen,
I begin to think that after all women aren’t as difficult to understand
as Baker says."

They came to Upwell in the early afternoon, and were ignorant that the
world was on their track. Bob sent a telegram to "Mr. Bramwell" as soon
as they got there.



                            *CHAPTER XXVII.*


The bishop was excited.  There is no doubt about it.  Nor is it any
wonder, for the sporting element exists even on the episcopal bench, and
the hunting of Penelope was peculiar and choice sport. The clergy of his
diocese were moderately tame, and when he pointed his episcopal gun at
them, they said they would come down, just as the celebrated squirrel
did when Colonel Crockett raised his weapon.  Not for a long time had he
felt so pleased with himself.  He was quite certain that Penelope was to
be run to earth in the neighbourhood of Spilsby, and, when he had found
her, he proposed to speak to her like a father.

"I shall certainly suggest a religious ceremony in the cathedral," he
said, blandly.  "Oh, yes, I shall insist on it."

"You’ll do what?" asked Bradstock, who was with him and the duchess in
the early train to Spilsby.  "You’ll do what?"

The bishop rubbed his hands.

"As the one who christened her, I shall insist on a religious ceremony,"
he replied.

"Will you?" asked Bradstock.

"To be sure I shall," said the bishop.

"Did you ever hear of Mrs. Partington?" asked Bradstock, "or of King
Canute, or of any other celebrated character in history or fiction whose
insistence did not come off?"

"I scarcely understand you, Bradstock," said the bishop, with dignity.
"I can hardly imagine that you mean to hint, not altogether obscurely,
that Lady Penelope will treat any suggestion of mine with disrespect."

Bradstock intimated that that was what he did mean, and Titania, who had
got up too early and felt like it, said that she expected nothing from
Penelope now but the worst.

"I don’t know why I am here, or why I am going there," she said.  "I
cannot imagine why any of us are doing anything but hiding our disgraced
heads in the remoter parts of the country, while Penelope flaunts a
black, adopted, illegitimate child in some peculiar part of
Lincolnshire, while she is being chased on motor-cars by remorseful
scoundrels, of whom I saw about a dozen as we left Spilsborough.  Little
did I think that I should be running after her with Augustin and you,
bishop, while the duke stays at Goring saying she is sport, and Robert
is with her when he ought to be at home with Mr. Guthrie learning to
spell.  And as a result of Penelope’s being away like this, that
disgraceful Chloe Cadwallader, of whom I shall always have the lowest
opinion, is living in her house in Piccadilly, and I dare say spending
her money right and left.  The marchioness said she knew, on the highest
authority, that this was so.  The marchioness always goes on the
principle of believing the worst, though, of course, she hopes the best.
I hope the best for Penelope, but I’m sure the worst is before us.  I’m
sure of it."

The bishop asked her to cheer up, and Augustin stroked her hand to calm
her.  But nothing calmed or cheered her.

"I am calm," she said.  "I am even peaceful. What can be worse than the
worst?  I am cheerful, for I believe there is a better world than this,
in which even a duchess may find some kind of rest on the highest
authority.  I shall be glad to go there, and leave you all."

"Don’t say so," said Augustin.

"I do say so," said the duchess.  "I say it firmly and with faith.  You
don’t dare to deny there is a better world than this, Augustin?"

"Certainly not, in the presence of the bishop," replied Augustin.
"Though, in looking out of the windows, I should not be surprised to
learn that there is a more exciting spot than Spilsby."

For they had arrived.

"_I_ will make inquiries," said the bishop, "while you look after the
duchess in the waiting-room. I see that my wishes have been attended to.
I telegraphed for a carriage to be in attendance, and it is in
attendance.  I will speak with the driver."

He spoke to the driver, who was much intimidated by the apron and the
gaiters of the clerical dignitary.

"This is the carriage I ordered, I think," said the bishop.  "I want to
drive to—to Lady Penelope Brading’s house.  Do you know it?"

"No, sir," said the driver.  "I never heard owt of it, sir."

"Dear me, dear me!" said the bishop.  "Well, well!  But that is easily
explicable, my good man, for my young friend is in the peculiar position
of having several names.  This is rare; yes, rare I admit, but not
altogether so very rare.  Can you tell me if there is any one lately
come to this neighbourhood known, let us say, as Mrs.—Mrs. Plant, for
instance?"

"No, sir, there be not as I knows," said the driver.

"Or Mrs. Gordon, shall I say?"

The driver scratched his head.

"I never heard of her," he replied.

"How remarkable," said the bishop, smiling. "But I am not surprised.
Indeed, in this last case I am almost gratified, though I withhold my
reasons for saying so.  Are you then acquainted with any one called De
Vere?  No; or with a Mrs. Carteret Williams?"

Light dawned in the driver’s face at last. "Mrs. Williams!  Ay, sure
enif.  She do sell sweets and tobacco."

"Indeed," said the bishop, "indeed, how remarkable! But I don’t think
she will do.  Have you heard of a Mrs. Rivaulx or a Mrs. Goby?  Perhaps
I surprise you in this part of Lincolnshire, but in London it is not at
all uncommon for married ladies to have several names, not at all
uncommon."

"No, sir, I never heard o’ none of ’em," returned the driver, thinking
that this gentleman talked most remarkable "cat-blash."

"Good heavens!" said the bishop, "this new custom is trying.  Do you
then know a Mrs. Carew or Mrs. Bramber?"

Again the man scratched his head and shook it. What did this strange
person in gaiters mean?

"Oh! ah!" he said at last.  "There be a Mrs. Bramwell at the Moat
House."

"Indeed," said the bishop.  "Perhaps that may be the lady.  At the Moat
House!  Do you know Mr. Bramwell?"

"I’ve seen un," said the driver.

"What is he like?" asked the bishop.  "Is he fair or dark, or tall or
short?"

"He’s fairish to dark and betwixt and between," said the driver, wishing
to be accurate, "and mostly goes in big spectacles in his engine."

"Ha!" said the bishop, "we are on the scent! And what is Mrs. Bramwell
like?"

"She do mostly go in the engine with specs on, too, sir.  But my wife do
say she be a very fine woman."

The bishop nodded.

"I think you may drive us to the Moat House," he said.  "I will bring my
friends out."

He rubbed his hands and congratulated himself on the skill with which he
had discovered the object of his search.

"I really believe I have found her," he said, when he entered the
waiting-room.  "I really believe it."

"No!" said the duchess.

"Yes," said the bishop.  "By a series of skilful questions and the
exercise of a little pardonable deceit, I have learnt that there is a
Mrs. Bramwell here, who is said to be a very fine woman, and goes out in
goggles in a motor-car with her husband, who is fairish to dark and tall
and short and also wears goggles."

Augustin nodded.

"This looks like—something," he said, hopefully. "Bramwell!  Perhaps
really Bramber, Titania."

"No, no," said Titania.  "I expect disaster.  I anticipate the Jew or
Williams."

"But Bramwell—the first syllable being Bram," suggested the bishop.

"I cannot build on Bram," said the duchess. "We are an unfortunate
family.  Lord Bramber may be an earl at any minute, and she has married
a coal-heaver, of course!  Let us go at once."

When they got into the carriage, the bishop told the man to drive to the
Moat House.

"Did you say Moat House?" asked the duchess.

"I did," replied the bishop.

"Augustin, do you remember that Penelope’s mother loved houses with
moats?  I think the bishop may be right.  I tremble with nervousness."

She had more reason to tremble in a moment, for a big motor-car shaved
them and scared the horse.

"Perhaps—" she cried.

"No," said Augustin, "it’s Plant and Williams and Carew!"

The duchess gasped.  And before she could say another word, another car
swept by them.

"Perhaps—" she cried.

"No," said the bishop; "in spite of goggles, I recognize the marquis and
Mr. Gordon and Mr. Austin de Vere.  This is very remarkable, and not a
little annoying.  We shall all descend upon Penelope at once, and I fear
it will somewhat disturb her.  I should have much preferred to see her
quietly in order to bring her to a just sense of her peculiar, and our
painful, position."

When they got to the house, they found all the lovers but Bramber
assembled at the gates.  If it hadn’t been for the illness of the Earl
of Pulborough, he would have been there, they knew.

"Oh, which is it?" moaned Titania.  "They all said they were married to
her, and I know it’s none of ’em."

The bishop greeted the crowd in the most courteous manner.  He shook
hands with those he knew, and bowed to those he hoped to know.

"I think, gentleman, that, with your permission, I will go in first and
see Lady Penelope before any one else does."

And while he went up the carriage drive, Titania glared at the lovers.

"Don’t look at ’em like that, Titania," said Augustin.

"Like what, Augustin?"

"Like a Gorgon, Titania," said Augustin.

"I look as I feel," said Titania.  "I hate them all.  I shall not be
able to restrain myself when I see Penelope.  I shall shake her.  I
shall say what I think.  No, I won’t be wise, Augustin!  I decline to be
wise.  I am full of bitterness.  From her earliest youth, she has been a
thorn.  And it is your fault; you encouraged her in reform, in
anarchism. Don’t speak to me!  I shall explode!"

And Augustin got out just as the bishop rang the door-bell across the
moat.  Instead of the kind of servant he expected to see, he was greeted
by a bent old woman, whose chief glory was her rheumatism, though her
claim on Bob had been her stupidity.

"Is Mrs. Bramwell at home?" asked the bishop, with a beaming smile.

"Naw," said the old lady, not beaming in the least.

"No?  Then when will she be back?"

"I don’t know," replied the caretaker.

"You don’t know!  Will it be soon?"

"She never said," snarled the old lady.

"Did she go early?"

"Maybe an hour ago, maybe two."

"Will she be back late?"

"Eh?  I’m ’ard of ’earin’."

"Will she be back late?" roared the bishop.

"She didn’t say."

"What did she say, then?"

"Nothin’ as I knows of."

"Where did she go, my good woman?"

"She didn’t say."

"Dear me, how vexing!" said the bishop.

"I’m ’ard of ’earin’, I tell ye," said the old dame.

"Who went with her?"

"All of ’em, so I ’eard."

"Who were they?" asked the desperate bishop.

"All as was ’ere.  There ain’t one left."

"Was a boy with her?"

"To be sure, a young gentleman as fetched me ’ere, and give me a
shillin’."

"What was his name?"

"’E didn’t say," said the old woman, and the bishop wiped his fevered
brow and tried again.

"Was Mr. Bramwell with her?"

"I never seed un."

"How did they go?"

"In two engines."

"Ha!" sighed the bishop, "in two motor-cars."

"Likely."

"Will they be back to-night?"

"I ’ope not," said the woman.

"Why do you hope not?" asked the wretched bishop.

"Because of fifteen bob a week, to be sure."

"Then Mrs. Bramwell has gone, has left?"

"Ain’t I been sayin’ so this last hour?" asked the exasperated old
person.  "Me, with rheumatics, standin’ on cold stones for hours arglin’
that she and all have gone in engines!"

"Good heavens!" said the bishop, "she has escaped!  She has eluded us!
She has kept her word and has fled!  This is remarkable; it is annoying.
I feel nearer losing my temper than I have done with any one but the
dean for the last ten years. I must go back and tell them."

He went back to the gate.

"Is it—" they cried.

"This is her house," said the bishop, who looked rather flushed, "but I
have discovered by a series of skilfully devised questions that she is
no longer here.  Duchess, Lord Bradstock, marquis, and gentlemen, she
went away this morning in two motorcars with all her household, leaving
behind her no one but a caretaker who, in my humble opinion, ought to be
taken care of in an idiot asylum!"

The duchess sighed.

"Then she has kept her word!  Finding out that we are still pursuing
her, she has fled from us. Oh, I think it wicked of her, wicked to all
of us. When I get hold of Robert, I shall take steps to show him what I
think of him.  Do you give it up, bishop?"

The bishop’s eyes flashed with indignation.

"Never!" he said.  "I propose that we pursue her at once.  She cannot
have thought we should be here so soon.  If we find out which road she
took, we may yet overtake her."

"In what?" asked Bradstock, with his hand on the ramshackle landau the
duchess sat in.  "In this conveyance, for instance?"

The bishop looked at the two big motor-cars, and at their wretched
owners, Plant and Rivaulx.

"Taking my courage in both hands," he said, bravely, "I propose that we
lose no time.  _I_ will go in this car with the marquis, if he will take
me."

The marquis said through his clenched teeth that he would.

"Bradstock, you will escort the duchess back to Spilsborough."

"Certainly not," said the duchess.  "I am coming, too.  I must and I
will.  Whatever the condition of Penelope may now be, it is my duty.  I
come with you!"

"And so do I," said Bradstock.

They packed themselves in the cars, and moved away from the deserted
house of the moat.  In the village they soon discovered that "Mrs.
Bramwell" had gone northwest by the road to Horncastle, and a moment
later the bishop said, "Oh!" as Rivaulx fairly launched his car into
space.  Even Bradstock in Plant’s car said something, and the duchess,
losing the repose which stamps all duchesses the moment they become
duchesses, uttered a scream. Gordon consoled the bishop, being very much
pleased to find himself with one, by saying that he had been in a
balloon with Rivaulx, and found him careful and very trustworthy.

"I do not think any one who goes in a balloon," gasped his lordship,
"can properly be described by any such terms."

Williams said he didn’t care if he was killed, as soon as Penelope had
acknowledged she was married to him.  Gordon, who was desperately scared
of Williams, said nothing, but gave the bishop to understand by signs
that the war correspondent was mad.  Carew, who was still suffering from
influenza, sat in his corner and wept at intervals.

In Plant’s car the duchess and Goby and De Vere got on admirably.
Bradstock sat by Plant and prepared to die.  The duchess held Captain
Goby’s hand.  De Vere said some poetry before the speed was very great.
Afterward he said his prayers, and wished he was at home with his
bulldogs.

"What does anything matter?" he asked, as he clutched Goby’s offside.

And all of a sudden Rivaulx’s motor pulled up so quickly that the bishop
was nearly precipitated upon the road.  A scared, oldish woman in
respectable and sub-freak garments had done her best to get run over.
Rivaulx swore terrible French oaths, and the bishop, who knew French far
better than he dared acknowledge except in a literary conversation on
Rabelais or _argot_, sympathized with him in awestruck silence.

"You accursed old lady!  Why?" demanded Rivaulx.

"Hush, hush!" said the bishop, and, leaning from the car, he said: "It
is all right, my good woman.  I hope we have not alarmed you."

Miss Mackarness said they had.  It was very hard to have got out of one
car and then to be almost killed by another.  Then the car behind came
up, and the duchess looked at the lady who had given her a little
respite.  The duchess absolutely screamed again.

"Augustin, it is Miss Mackarness!  I remember her well!"

"Who the deuce is Miss Mackarness?" grumbled Bradstock.

But Titania paid no attention to him.  Her eyes brightened.  She became
clever all at once.

"I remember," she said, "I remember!"

She called to the stranger in the road.

"I am so pleased to see you again after such a long time, Miss
Mackarness," she said, kindly. "Are you still at Upwell Castle?"

"I’m going there now, ma’am," said the housekeeper, who didn’t recognize
her Grace.

"Are you walking?" asked Titania, kindly. "It is a long way to walk.
You don’t remember me, I see."

"No, ma’am," said Miss Mackarness.

"I am the Duchess of Goring," said Titania.

"Oh, your Grace!  I beg your Grace’s pardon, but, of course, you are,"
gasped Miss Mackarness.

"And I am going to Upwell now to see my niece."

Miss Mackarness gasped again and could not speak.

"To see Mrs. Bramwell, you know," said Titania, sweetly.  "Of course,
_I_ know all about it, Miss Mackarness."

"To be sure, your Grace," replied her victim, not knowing what to do or
say.

"Then _good_-bye," said the duchess.  "I hope you will enjoy your walk,
Miss Mackarness.  It’s such pleasant weather for a walk."

They left the poor woman in the middle of the road, an easy victim to
the slowest vehicle in the county.

"Oh, I’ve done wrong, I know!" said Pen’s housekeeper.  "What shall I do
now?"

"I said that on purpose," said Titania, viciously. "She has known all
along, and ought to have told me.  But now we know all about it,
Augustin!"

"What about ’Mr. Bramwell’?" asked Augustin. Goby and De Vere turned
pale, and the duchess threw up her hands.

"I might have asked her!" she cried.

"Captain Goby looked at her severely," said Augustin, "and so did De
Vere."

Goby and De Vere denied it.

"Never mind," said the duchess, "this time she can’t escape.  We are on
the track."

They passed a man a few miles farther on, and only Augustin noticed him.

"You are right, Titania; we are certainly on the track.  That man was
Timothy Bunting," he said.  "Pen has been shedding her retainers all
along the road.  I suspect Bob of furious driving."

A few miles farther, at the foot of a steep rise, they saw a young and
pretty woman weeping on a heap of stones.

"I wonder if that is another of ’em," said Augustin.

It was Mary, whom Geordie had deposited on the road half-way between two
villages.

"Have two motor-cars gone this way?" asked Bradstock.

"Yes, sir," sobbed Mary.

"Why are you crying?" asked the sympathetic peer.

"Because Geordie Smith is no gentleman," said Mary.

"That’s Mrs. Bramwell’s driver, isn’t it?  I know her well," said
Bradstock.

"Yes, it is, and he ain’t a gentleman.  He drove so fast he frightened
me, and I got out."

"How sad," said Bradstock.  "We are going on to Upwell Castle now.  Can
we help you?"

"I would rather walk to Australia than get in another one of ’em," said
Mary.

"You are right," said Augustin.  "Titania, you are right.  In half an
hour we shall see Penelope."

"And I shall see Bob," said Titania, viciously.

But the bishop felt rather pleased with Bob now. He was in a car driven
by Rivaulx.  And Rivaulx was desperate.  And when Rivaulx was desperate
he lacked consideration for others.



                           *CHAPTER XXVIII.*


As all antiquarians know, Upwell Castle consists of two wings and a kind
of centrepiece joining two civilizations and two divergent schools of
architecture.  The right wing is Tudor, and ruined; the left is
Georgian, and habitable; the centre is nondescript and pseudo-Palladian.
It cost a great deal to keep up, and nothing could keep it from falling
down.  Penelope’s mother fell in love with it on first sight, and fell
out with her husband about the price.  Its value has fallen since then,
for landed property is the only stable thing which always falls.  There
were pictures in it that connoisseurs gloated over, and some that
picture-cleaners had restored till they were as valuable as a Gothic
cathedral brought up to date by a resurrected Vandal.  There were
carvings by Grinling Gibbons to be seen, and some that were not by
Grinling Gibbons.  There were some rooms decorated by Adams that would
have made Adam ill.  There was an oak staircase there that a thousand
intoxicated noblemen had fallen down; there was another that no sober
gentleman could go up.  It was ruinous, romantic, and rat-haunted;
tapestry waved in its corridors, ghosts loved its precincts; there was a
room stained with something that the servants said was blood, and that
the skeptical averred to be port wine.  The only thing against the
latter theory was that the dining-room was not stained, though some said
it had been so flooded all over that nothing showed.  It was a
delightful place, and Penelope never stayed there.  Miss Mackarness did,
but then she was a Scotchwoman, and didn’t count.  Bob adored it, but
then Bob was Bob, and nothing could change him.

"I’ll fix this all up," said Bob, "and make her happy.  She’s silly.
I’ll blow the gaff, as Baker says.  She’s up-stairs now, crying her eyes
out, and making the baby bellow."

He wandered about the grounds, and wondered where Mary and Bunting and
Miss Mackarness were.

"Silly fools!" said Bob; "the idea of being afraid of going in a
motor-car.  By Jove, I wonder what’s become of my man at Spilsborough!
I suppose those people in Regent Street think I’ve stolen the car.  What
fun!"

He explored the ruined wing, and ruined it a little more, and came out
again into the Queen Anne garden.

"By Jove, I do wish I knew where they all were!" he said.  "I wonder
what granny is doing. Is she having fits, and Dr. Lumsden Griff to look
after ’em?  I think Griff’s a soft-soapy ass.  He says, ’Well, how are
we this morning?’  By Jove, all the rest of ’em will have fits, too.
They will be sick.  But I’m glad they’re out of it.  I wonder where Lord
Bradstock is.  He’ll pull my wig when he sees me.  And the bishop!
Well, he’s not a bad old boy.  I rather like bishops, but their legs are
queer.  By Jove, but it’s fun having skipped and done them!  If they
ever get to Spilsby and find us gone, they’ll be mad!"

He walked around the corner of the house, and _paff_ came a motor-car
and made him jump.  Another one followed like a streak of light.  Bob
went quite pale for a boy with a complexion like an ancient red brick,
and made a bolt for the door. He was too late, for Bradstock and the
bishop stood in his way.  Bob slowed down, put his hands in his pockets
and whistled.

"I say," said Bob, "how did you find this place out?"

"I own to being surprised and disappointed with you, Robert," said the
bishop; "very much surprised and greatly disappointed."

Bob wagged his head to and fro.

"Why, what about?" he asked.

"At your not returning, sir," said his lordship. "You treated me and
Lord Bradstock, I regret to say, with great disrespect."

"I’m very sorry," said Bob, "but I couldn’t help it.  Pen—Oh, Lord!
there’s granny!"

The duchess intervened.

"Robert, where is Penelope?"

Bob hesitated.

"Gone to—t-to London for Paris and Marseilles and Australia," said Bob,
hurriedly.  "She said she couldn’t wait, but had an appointment there
somewhere.  And she said I was to say she was sorry if any one called."

"Robert," said the duchess, severely, "do not keep your eyes fixed upon
the distant landscape. Look me in the face.  Are you speaking the
truth?"

Bob wriggled and shuffled.

"No, I’m not," he said.  "It’s a beastly lie. But she did say the other
day that she would go to the ends of the earth.  And that’s Australia,
ain’t it?"

"Bob," said the bishop, "this is very painful to me.  Speak the truth
like a man."

"I won’t," said Bob; "it isn’t my truth.  I won’t give Pen away to any
one."

His vision cleared, and he saw the lovers ranked behind his grandmother
and the bishop.

"Oh, Mr. Gordon," he cried, "do come and help me!  Would you tell if you
were me?"

"No," said Gordon, "no, of course not."

"I always liked you," said Bob, "so I won’t."

"I command you," said Titania, looking at Gordon furiously.

"It’s no good," said Bob, rapidly; "Pen’s a great way off, far enough,
that is, and I swore I’d never disclose the secret of her whereabouts to
any one.  At least, if I didn’t swear it, I said it, and, if I said it,
my lord, and broke my promise, it wouldn’t be honourable, would it?"

"I don’t care," began Titania.

"Would it, my lord?" asked Bob.

"I’m afraid not," said the bishop, "though perhaps in the circumstances,
which are very peculiar—"

"Well, I won’t," said Bob, "and that’s flat. Goby wouldn’t, I know,
would you, Captain Goby?"

But the duchess waved Goby into the background.

"I mean to have the truth.  Shall we listen to your foolish scruples
now?  If you won’t tell us where she is, tell us whom she has married.
Is it one of these gentlemen?"

"I won’t give any of ’em away," said Bob.

"Then you know?"

"Of course I know," said Bob.

"Ah," sighed the duchess, "then she is married?"

"She says so," said Bob, "and, if it’s true, as I suppose, I know who it
is.  But Pen, before she went up—before she went, said I wasn’t to
speak."

Bradstock smiled.

"Titania, Penelope is in the house.  Let us go in," he said, and he
marched up the steps.  Bob shook himself free from the duchess and
darted indoors before Bradstock.  He bolted up-stairs to Penelope, and
burst in upon her like a whirlwind.

"Pen, they’re all here, all the gang!  I couldn’t keep ’em out!"

"Who are here?" asked Pen, in awful dismay.

"All of ’em, and the bishop and Bradstock and granny!"

"Oh, what shall I do?" wailed Penelope.

"I’ll tell you," said Bob.  "Let’s sneak down the back way and steal one
of their cars now, and get away!"

"No, no," said Penelope, "it wouldn’t be dignified.  I must be
dignified, Bob, I must be; I will go down and see them."

"No," said Bob.

"I will," said Penelope.

"And tell ’em the truth?"

Penelope started.

"I can’t, I can’t, because we’ve quarrelled.  But I will see them; I
must."

She went red and white and red again, and once more as pale as dawn.
She kissed the sleeping, adopted, illegitimate, normal-coloured infant
as he sprawled upon an historic bed, and went to the door.

"Come with me, Bob."

"I’ll hold your hand, Pen.  I say, you shake!"

"Squeeze my hand till you hurt me," said Pen. "Now come!"

She swept down the big staircase, with Bob in tow, and found herself in
the presence of the entire "gang," as Bob had called them.

"Penelope!" said Titania, recoiling.

"Oh, Pen," said Bradstock, advancing.

"My dear Lady Penelope," said the bishop, sweetly, "do you recollect
that I christened you at the early age of three months?"

"No," said Penelope.

"No!" said the bishop, "no, to be sure, how could you?  But I did."

"It—it was very kind of you," said Penelope. Titania recovered herself
and advanced.  Gordon and the rest hung about in the distance, looking
as wretched as the ruined wing of the castle.

"Are you married, Penelope?" asked Titania.

"Yes," said Penelope.

"Of course she is," said Bob.

"Hold your tongue, Robert," said his grandmother. "And to whom?"

"I won’t say," replied Penelope.  "I told you I wouldn’t, and I won’t."

"I said she wouldn’t," cried Bob.

Titania pointed her hand at the shrinking horde.

"Every single one of these gentlemen, to say nothing of Lord Bramber,
who is with his invalid father at the present moment, came to me and
said he was married to you!  Every one of them without an exception!"

"I am very much obliged to them," said Pen. "In the circumstances, I
think it was noble of them."

"Are you alluding to the advertisement in the _Times_?" asked Titania.
"Are you aware that every one now says that you have adopted an infant?"

"What rot!" said Bob.

"Robert," cried his grandmother, "be silent, I command you.  I will not
be interrupted by you. Are you aware, Penelope, that it is said all over
England and Europe and the blatant United States that you have adopted
an infant?"

Penelope shook her head.

"It’s the first I’ve heard of it," said Penelope, who was the colour of
a rose.

"Is it true?  Do not evade my question," cried Titania.

"I don’t see, granny, what right you have to ask ’em," said the
irrepressible Bob.  "I sent you a wire to say it wasn’t black, and it
isn’t."

"Augustin, silence that boy," said Titania.

But Augustin shook his head.

"Don’t you answer anything, Pen," said Bob. "No one has any right to ask
you anything."

He marched over to Gordon.

"Don’t look so sad, Mr. Gordon."

"I can’t help it, my boy," said Gordon.  "It’s a horrid situation.  I
don’t care whether it’s adopted or not.  If she’ll marry me, I’ll have
her."

Bob squeezed his hand.

"I ain’t _absolutely_ sure it isn’t you yet," he said. "Pen hasn’t told
me all, you know.  By the way, Mr. Gordon, did that speculation come
off?"

"Not so well as I thought by ten thousand," said Gordon.

"Oh, I say," said Bob, "but, after all, it doesn’t matter.  I’ll make
fifty or sixty thousand do."

"You’re a fine boy," said Gordon.  "But, Bob, I would like to strangle
your grandmother."

"Would you?" asked Bob, eagerly.  "I dare say Pen does, too.
Grandmothers and aunts are very trying.  At least, I find them so."

The duchess’s voice rose now quite above the limits of social decency,
except when any one is playing or singing.

"I will not be put off, Penelope.  You will say who it is, and you will
be married again by the bishop in his fine Gothic cathedral—"

"Mr. Dean’s cathedral," interjected the bishop.

"With a proper service and the usual hymns, breathing over Eden, or I
will stay here till you do."

"Steady, Titania," said Bradstock.  "If she won’t, she won’t."

"But she shall," shrieked Titania.  "Gentlemen, which of you is it?  I
am now entirely desperate; which of you is it?"

No one said a word.

"Marquis, is it you?" asked the duchess.  "You said so before."

"How can I say?" asked poor Rivaulx.  "She says no one must."

"Quite right," said Bradstock.  "Who will believe any one, Titania?
Let’s have lunch and be friendly and stop this.  I’m very hungry, Pen.
And let’s see the baby."

The duchess shivered.

"I cannot and will not see it," said Titania. "For by all accounts, it
is an adopted illegitimate child.  If Penelope will send it back to the
person she got it of, and own the truth, I will forgive her and have
lunch, for I am very faint."

"I want to see the baby, Pen," said Augustin, with his hand on Pen’s
shoulder.  "You know, Pen, they still say it’s rather dusky."

Penelope was very indignant.

"He’s not," she cried.  "They sha’n’t say it any more.  Bob, tell that
girl up-stairs to bring him down."

And Bob ran up-stairs like a monkey up a stick.

"I decline to see it," said Titania.  "A baby without a name is a
terrible object to me.  It is an insult to the bishop and to the Church
to bring one into the room.  I will retire into the open air and try to
breathe again."

Goby assisted her outside.

"This is a calamity," said Titania.  "It’s a catastrophe.  What is the
truth, Captain Goby?  Are you a liar, too?"

Goby sobbed.

"How can I say?" he asked.  "You know I can’t."

He looked out into the park.

"Here’s some one coming in a motor," he cried. They all ran to the
windows.  But just then Bob and the nurse came down with the infant,
who, though evidently awed by the number of creatures he saw about him,
behaved like a gentleman, and not in the least like an adopted child.

"I congratulate you, Pen," said Bradstock. "The mother must be a
devilish pretty woman! Does she miss it much, Pen?  Oh, Pen, what a
queer, mad darling you are!  I begin to see daylight."

But nobody else did.  Penelope blushed and hugged the baby tenderly,
while Bob danced around her in the wildest state of excitement.

"I say, Captain Goby, come and look at it!  Mr. de Vere!  I say,
marquis!  Ain’t it a ripper, and as fat as a pup, and hardly a squeal
out of it day or night!  Granny dear, won’t you look at it?"

"No, no," said Titania.  "I cannot, cannot bring myself to do so!"

"You’ll soon be jolly sorry, I can tell you," cried the loving grandson.
"I’ll bet you’ll be sorry."

He ran to Pen.

"I say, Pen, give the kid to me, or you’ll drop it."

"Drop him!" exclaimed Penelope.  "Oh, Bob, is it likely?"

"Very likely," said Bob, "if you knew that I sent a telegram to some one
just as soon as we got here!"

Pen flushed scarlet.  But not with anger.

"Oh, Bob!"

"I did!  You ain’t angry?"

"Oh, Bob!"

"I don’t care," said Bob, as he took the child. "I don’t care a hang.
I’m ruined with all these jossers now.  De Vere will never buy any more
dogs of me.  I say, who’s that?"

A motor-car stopped outside the great hall door, and a gentleman in
black got out.  He came up the steps rapidly, and stopped dead when he
found all the world in front of him.

"I thought so," said Bradstock.  "Now the catalogue is complete."

"Lord Bramber!" cried the others.  Penelope stood in the centre of the
great hall as if she were turned to marble.  But no marble ever had so
sweet a colour.

[Illustration: THE EARL OF PULBOROUGH. Clever; but indolent]

"I believe it is now the Earl of Pulborough," said Bradstock, gravely,
to the newcomer.

"Yes," he replied.  "Penelope, you sent for me?"

Pen fell upon his neck before them all and did not deny it.

And, as they stood still in great amazement, Bob danced the baby up and
down till that young gentleman made up his mind to roar as soon as he
got his breath.

"This—this is Lord Bramber," howled Bob, triumphantly.  "Now admit you
feel sorry you spoke, granny!"

He gave the baby to the nurse, and grabbed Goby by the arm.

"I say, I’m awfully sorry, but it isn’t my fault, Captain Goby, and
Ethel Mytton is a very nice girl, and dead in love with you."

"Is she?" sighed Goby.

"Mr. de Vere, I’ve got a bulldog—"

"Damn bulldogs!" said De Vere.

Bob seized Gordon.

"Do you feel very bad, Mr. Gordon?" he asked, sympathetically.  "I
almost wish it had been you."

"It can’t be helped," said Gordon, gloomily.  "I never had a chance.
Come and see me in the city next week, Bob."

Rivaulx and Carew and Williams took their hats and slipped from the
house, while Bob did what he could to soften things for them.

"I’ll come and see you all very often," he cried. "Good-bye now!"

An hour later, when Titania had the baby upon her capacious lap, and
said how certain she had been the whole time that Bramber was Penelope’s
choice, Bob walked around the garden with the bishop and Lord Bradstock.

"Oh, it’s quite easy to understand," said Bob. "After all she said, you
expected she would marry some outsider, and you see she took the pick of
the basket, and of course was ashamed.  Oh, I know Pen."

"You are a wonder, Bob," said Bradstock.

The bishop said that upon adequate reflection he was inclined to agree
with Bradstock.

"Well, Pen’s all right," said Bob.



                                THE END.



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



*L. C. Page and Company’s
Announcement List
of New fiction*



*The Flight of Georgiana*

A ROMANCE OF THE DAYS OF THE YOUNG PRETENDER.  By ROBERT NEILSON
STEPHENS, author of "The Bright Face of Danger," "An Enemy to the King,"
"The Mystery of Murray Davenport," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated . . . $1.50

Mr. Stephens’s novels all bear the hall-mark of success for his men are
always live, his women are always worthy of their cavaliers, and his
adventures are of the sort to stir the most sluggish blood without
overstepping the bounds of good taste.

The theme of the new novel is one which will give Mr. Stephens splendid
scope for all the powers at his command. The career of "Bonnie Prince
Charlie" was full of romance, intrigue, and adventure; his life was a
series of episodes to delight the soul of a reader of fiction, and Mr.
Stephens is to be congratulated for his selection of such a promising
subject.



*Mrs. Jim and Mrs. Jimmie*

By STEPHEN CONRAD, author of "The Second Mrs. Jim."

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated . . . $1.50

This new book is in a sense a sequel to "The Second Mrs. Jim," since it
gives further glimpses of that delightful stepmother and her philosophy.
This time, however, she divides the field with "Mrs. Jimmie," who is
quite as attractive in her different way.  The book has more plot than
the former volume, a little less philosophy perhaps, but just as much
wholesome fun.  In many ways it is a stronger book, and will therefore
take an even firmer hold on the public.



*The Story of Red Fox*

Told by CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS, author of "The Watchers of the Trails,"
"The Kindred of the Wild," "Barbara Ladd," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, with fifty illustrations and cover
design by Charles Livingston Bull . . . $2.00

Mr. Roberts’s reputation as a scientifically accurate writer, whose
literary skill transforms his animal stories into masterpieces, stands
unrivalled in his particular field.

This is his first long animal story, and his romance of Red Fox, from
babyhood to patriarchal old age, makes reading more fascinating than any
work of fiction.  In his hands Red Fox becomes a personality so strong
that one entirely forgets he is an animal, and his haps and mishaps grip
you as do those of a person.

Mr. Bull, as usual, fits his pictures to the text as hand to glove, and
the ensemble becomes a book as near perfection as it is possible to
attain.



*Return*

A STORY OF THE SEA ISLANDS IN 1739.  By ALICE MACGOWAN and GRACE
MACGOWAN COOKE, authors of "The Last Word," etc.  With six illustrations
by C. D. Williams.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

A new romance, undoubtedly the best work yet done by Miss MacGowan and
Mrs. Cooke.  The heroine of "Return," Diana Chaters, is the belle of the
Colonial city of Charles Town, S.C., in the early eighteenth century,
and the hero is a young Virginian of the historical family of Marshall.
The youth, beauty, and wealth of the fashionable world, which first form
the environment of the romance, are pictured in sharp contrast to the
rude and exciting life of the frontier settlements in the Georgia
Colony, and the authors have missed no opportunities for telling
characterizations.  But "Return" is, above all, a love-story.

We quote the opinion of Prof. Charles G. D. Roberts, who has read the
advance sheets: "It seems to me a story of quite unusual strength and
interest, full of vitality and crowded with telling characters.  I
greatly like the authors’ firm, bold handling of their subject."



*Lady Penelope*

By MORLEY ROBERTS, author of "Rachel Marr," "The Promotion of the
Admiral," etc.  With nine illustrations by Arthur W. Brown.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

Mr. Roberts certainly has versatility, since this book has not a single
point of similarity with either "Rachel Marr" or his well-known sea
stories.  Its setting is the English so-called "upper crust" of the
present day.  Lady Penelope is quite the most up-to-date young lady
imaginable and equally charming.  As might be expected from such a
heroine, her automobiling plays an important part in the development of
the plot.  Lady Penelope has a large number of suitors, and her method
of choosing her husband is original and provocative of delightful
situations and mirthful incidents.



*The Winged Helmet*

By HAROLD STEELE MACKAYE, author of "The Panchronicon," etc.  With six
illustrations by H. C. Edwards.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

When an author has an original theme on which to build his story,
ability in construction of unusual situations, skill in novel
characterization, and a good literary style, there can be no doubt but
that his work is worth reading.  "The Winged Helmet" is of this
description.

The author gives in this novel a convincing picture of life in the early
sixteenth century, and the reader will be delighted with its originality
of treatment, freshness of plot, and unexpected climaxes.



*A Captain of Men*

By E. ANSON MORE.

Library 12mo, cloth, illustrated . . . $1.50

A tale of Tyre and those merchant princes whose discovery of the value
of tin brought untold riches into the country and afforded adventures
without number to those daring seekers for the mines.  Merodach, the
Assyrian, Tanith, the daughter of the richest merchant of Tyre, Miriam,
her Hebrew slave, and the dwarf Hiram, who was the greatest artist of
his day, are a quartette of characters hard to surpass in individuality.
It has been said that the powerful order of Free Masons first had its
origin in the meetings which were held at Hiram’s studio in Tyre, where
gathered together the greatest spirits of that age and place.



*The Paradise of the Wild Apple*

By RICHARD LEGALLIENNE, author of "Old Love Stories Retold," "The Quest
of the Golden Girl," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

The theme of Mr. LeGallienne’s new romance deals with the instinct of
wildness in human nature,—the wander spirit and impatience of tame
domesticity, the preference for wild flowers and fruits, and the glee in
summer storms and elemental frolics.  A wild apple-tree, high up in a
rocky meadow, is symbolic of all this, and Mr. LeGallienne works out in
a fashion at once imaginative and serious the romance of a young man
well placed from the view of worldly goods and estate, who suddenly
hungers for the "wild apples" of his youth.  The theme has limitless
possibilities, and Mr. LeGallienne is artist enough to make adequate use
of them.



*The Grapple*

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

This story of a strike in the coal mines of Pennsylvania gives both
sides of the question,—the Union and its methods, and the non-Union
workers and their loyal adherents, with a final typical clash at the
end.  The question is an absorbing one, and it is handled fearlessly.

For the present at least "The Grapple" will be issued anonymously.



*Brothers of Peril*

By THEODORE ROBERTS, author of "Hemming the Adventurer."

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated . . . $1.50

"Brothers of Peril" has an unusual plot, dealing with a now extinct
race, the Beothic Indians of the sixteenth century, who were the
original inhabitants of Newfoundland when that island was merely a
fishing-station for the cod-seeking fleets of the old world.

The story tells of the adventures of a young English cavalier, who, left
behind by the fleet, finds another Englishman, with his daughter and
servants, who is hiding from the law.  A French adventurer and pirate,
who is an unwelcome suitor for the daughter, plays an important part.
Encounters between the Indians and the small colony of white men on
shore, and perilous adventures at sea with a shipload of pirates led by
the French buccaneer, make a story of breathless interest.



*The Black Barque*

By T. JENKINS HAINS, author of "The Wind Jammers," "The Strife of the
Sea," etc.  With five illustrations by W. Herbert Dunton.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

According to a high naval authority who has seen the advance sheets,
this is one of the best sea stories ever offered to the public.  "The
Black Barque" is a story of slavery and piracy upon the high seas about
1815, and is written with a thorough knowledge of deep-water sailing.
This, Captain Hains’s first long sea story, realistically pictures a
series of stirring scenes at the period of the destruction of the
exciting but nefarious traffic in slaves, in the form of a narrative by
a young American lieutenant, who, by force of circumstances, finds
himself the gunner of "The Black Barque."



*Cameron of Lochiel*

Translated from the French of PHILIPPE AUBERT DE GASPÉ by PROF. CHARLES
G. D. ROBERTS.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

The publishers are gratified to announce a new edition of a book by this
famous author, who may be called the Walter Scott of Canada.  This
interesting and valuable romance is fortunate in having for its
translator Professor Roberts, who has caught perfectly the spirit of the
original.  The French edition first appeared under the title of "Les
Anciens Canadiens" in 1862, and was later translated and appeared in an
American edition now out of print.

Patriotism, devotion to the French-Canadian nationality, a just pride of
race, and a loving memory for his people’s romantic and heroic past, are
the dominant chords struck by the author throughout the story.



*Castel del Monte*

By NATHAN GALLIZIER.  Illustrated by H. C. Edwards.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.5O

A powerful romance of the fall of the Hohenstaufen dynasty in Italy, and
the overthrow of Manfred by Charles of Anjou, the champion of Pope
Clement IV.  The Middle Ages are noted for the weird mysticism and the
deep fatalism characteristic of a people believing in signs and portents
and the firm hand of fate.  Mr. Gallizier has brought out these
characteristics in a marked degree.



*Slaves of Success*

By ELLIOTT FLOWER, author of "The Spoilsmen," etc.  With twenty
illustrations by different artists.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

Another striking book by Mr. Flower, whose work is already so well
known, both through his long stories and his contributions to
_Collier’s_, the _Saturday Evening Post_, etc. Like his first success,
"The Spoilsmen," it deals with politics, but in the broader field of
state and national instead of municipal.  The book has recently appeared
in condensed form as a serial in _Collier’s Magazine_, where it
attracted wide-spread attention, and the announcement of its appearance
in book form will be welcomed by Mr. Flower’s rapidly increasing
audience.  The successful delineation of characters like John Wade, Ben
Carroll, Azro Craig, and Allen Sidway throws new strong lights on the
inside workings of American business and political "graft."



*Silver Bells*

By COL. ANDREW C. P. HAGGARD, author of "Hannibal’s Daughter," "Louis
XIV. in Court and Camp," etc.  With cover design and frontispiece by
Charles Livingston Bull.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

Under the thin veneer of conventionality and custom lurks in many hearts
the primeval instinct to throw civilization to the winds and hark back
to the ways of the savages in the wilderness, and it often requires but
a mental crisis or an emotional upheaval to break through the coating.
Geoffrey Digby was such an one, who left home and kindred to seek
happiness among the Indians of Canada, in the vast woods which always
hold an undefinable mystery and fascination. He gained renown as a
mighty hunter, and the tale of his life there, and the romance which
awaited him, will be heartily enjoyed by all who like a good love-story
with plenty of action not of the "stock" order.  "Silver Bells," the
Indian girl, is a perfect "child of nature."



*Selections from
L. C. Page and Company’s
List of Fiction*



                               *WORKS OF
                        ROBERT NEILSON STEPHENS*



*Captain Ravenshaw;* OR, THE MAID OF CHEAPSIDE.  (40th thousand.)  A
romance of Elizabethan London.  Illustrations by Howard Pyle and other
artists.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

Not since the absorbing adventures of D’Artagnan have we had anything so
good in the blended vein of romance and comedy.  The beggar student, the
rich goldsmith, the roisterer and the rake, the fop and the maid, are
all here: foremost among them Captain Ravenshaw himself, soldier of
fortune and adventurer, who, after escapades of binding interest,
finally wins a way to fame and to matrimony.



*Philip Winwood.*  (70th thousand)  A Sketch of the Domestic History of
an American Captain in the War of Independence, embracing events that
occurred between and during the years 1763 and 1785 in New York and
London. Written by his Enemy in War, Herbert Russell, Lieutenant in the
Loyalist Forces.  Presented anew by ROBERT NEILSON STEPHENS.
Illustrated by E. W. D. Hamilton.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

"One of the most stirring and remarkable romances that have been
published in a long while, and its episodes, incidents, and actions are
as interesting and agreeable as they are vivid and dramatic."—_Boston
Times_.



*The Mystery of Murray Davenport.*  (30th thousand.)  By ROBERT NEILSON
STEPHENS, author of "An Enemy to the King," "Philip Winwood," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth, with six full-page illustrations by H. C. Edwards .
. . $1.50

"This is easily the best thing that Mr. Stephens has yet done. Those
familiar with his other novels can best judge the measure of this
praise, which is generous."—_Buffalo News_.

"Mr. Stephens won a host of friends through his earlier volumes, but we
think he will do still better work in his new field if the present
volume is a criterion."—_N. Y. Com. Advertiser_.



*An Enemy to the King.*  (60th thousand.)  From the "Recently Discovered
Memoirs of the Sieur de la Tournoire."  Illustrated by H. De M. Young.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

An historical romance of the sixteenth century, describing the
adventures of a young French nobleman at the Court of Henry III., and on
the field with Henry of Navarre.

"A stirring tale."—_Detroit Free Press_.

"A royally strong piece of fiction."—_Boston Ideas_.

"Interesting from the first to the last page."—_Brooklyn Eagle_.

"Brilliant as a play; it is equally brilliant as a romantic
novel."—_Philadelphia Press_.



*The Continental Dragoon:* A ROMANCE OF PHILIPSE MANOR HOUSE IN 1778.
(43d thousand.)  Illustrated by H. C. Edwards.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

A stirring romance of the Revolution, the scene being laid in and around
the old Philipse Manor House, near Yonkers, which at the time of the
story was the central point of the so-called "neutral territory" between
the two armies.



*The Road to Paris:* A STORY OF ADVENTURE. (25th thousand.)  Illustrated
by H. C. Edwards.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

An historical romance of the 18th century, being an account of the life
of an American gentleman adventurer of Jacobite ancestry, whose family
early settled in the colony of Pennsylvania.



*A Gentleman Player:* HIS ADVENTURES ON A SECRET MISSION FOR QUEEN
ELIZABETH.  (38th thousand.)  Illustrated by Frank T. Merrill.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

"A Gentleman Player" is a romance of the Elizabethan period.  It relates
the story of a young gentleman who, in the reign of Elizabeth, falls so
low in his fortune that he joins Shakespeare’s company of players, and
becomes a friend and protégé of the great poet.



                               *WORKS OF
                         CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS*



*Barbara Ladd.*  With four illustrations by Frank Verbeck.

Library 12mo, gilt top . . . $1.50

"From the opening chapter to the final page Mr. Roberts lures us on by
his rapt devotion to the changing aspects of Nature and by his keen and
sympathetic analysis of human character."—_Boston Transcript_.



*The Kindred of the Wild.*  A BOOK OF ANIMAL LIFE.  With fifty-one
full-page plates and many decorations from drawings by Charles
Livingston Bull.

Small quarto, decorative cover . . . $2.00

"Professor Roberts has caught wonderfully the elusive individualities of
which he writes.  His animal stories are marvels of sympathetic science
and literary exactness.  Bound with the superb illustrations by Charles
Livingston Bull, they make a volume which charms, entertains, and
informs."—New York World.

"... Is in many ways the most brilliant collection of animal stories
that has appeared ... well named and well done."—_John Burroughs_.



*The Forge in the Forest.*  Being the Narrative of the Acadian Ranger,
Jean de Mer, Seigneur de Briart, and how he crossed the Black Abbé, and
of his Adventures in a Strange Fellowship.  Illustrated by Henry
Sandham, R.C.A.

Library 12mo, cloth, gilt top . . . $1.50

A romance of the convulsive period of the struggle between the French
and English for the possession of North America. The story is one of
pure love and heroic adventure, and deals with that fiery fringe of
conflict that waved between Nova Scotia and New England.  The Expulsion
of the Acadians is foreshadowed in these brilliant pages, and the part
of the "Black Abbé’s" intrigues in precipitating that catastrophe is
shown.



*The Heart of the Ancient Wood.*  With six illustrations by James L.
Weston.

Library 12mo, decorative cover . . . $1.50

"One of the most fascinating novels of recent days."—_Boston Journal_.

"A classic twentieth-century romance."—_New York Commercial Advertiser_.



*A Sister to Evangeline.*  Being the story of Yvonne de Lamourie, and
how she went into Exile with the Villagers of Grand Pré.

Library 12mo, cloth, gilt top, illustrated . . . $1.50

This is a romance of the great expulsion of the Acadians, which
Longfellow first immortalized in "Evangeline."  Swift action, fresh
atmosphere, wholesome purity, deep passion, searching analysis,
characterize this strong novel.



*By the Marshes of Minas.*

Library 12mo, cloth, gilt top, illustrated . . . $1.50

This is a volume of romance, of love and adventure in that picturesque
period when Nova Scotia was passing from the French to the English
regime.  Each tale is independent of the others, but the scenes are
similar, and in several of them the evil "Black Abbé"," well known from
the author’s previous novels, again appears with his savages at his
heels—but to be thwarted always by woman’s wit or soldier’s courage.



*Earth’s Enigmas.*  A new edition, with the addition of three new
stories, and ten illustrations by Charles Livingston Bull.

Library 12mo, cloth, uncut edges . . . $1.50

"Throughout the volume runs that subtle questioning of the cruel,
predatory side of nature which suggests the general title of the book.
In certain cases it is the picture of savage nature ravening for
food—for death to preserve life; in others it is the secret symbolism of
woods and waters prophesying of evils and misadventures to come.  All
this does not mean, however, that Mr. Roberts is either pessimistic or
morbid—it is nature in his books after all, wholesome in her cruel moods
as in her tender."—_The New York Independent_.



                               *WORKS OF
                              LILIAN BELL*



*Hope Loring.*  Illustrated by Frank T. Merrill.

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.50

"Lilian Bell’s new novel, ’Hope Loring,’ does for the American girl in
fiction what Gibson has done for her in art.

"Tall, slender, and athletic, fragile-looking, yet with nerves and
sinews of steel under the velvet flesh, frank as a boy and tender and
beautiful as a woman, free and independent, yet not bold—such is ’Hope
Loring,’ by long odds the subtlest study that has yet been made of the
American girl."—_Dorothy Dix, in the New York American_.



*Abroad with the Jimmies.*  With a portrait, in duogravure, of the
author.

Library 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.50

"A deliciously fresh, graphic book.  The writer is so original and
unspoiled that her point of view has value."—_Mary Hartwell Catherwood_.

"Full of ozone, of snap, of ginger, of swing and momentum."—_Chicago
Evening Post_.

"... Is one of her best and cleverest novels ... filled to the brim with
amusing incidents and experiences.  This vivacious narrative needs no
commendation to the readers of Miss Bell’s well-known earlier
books."—_N. Y. Press_.



*The Interference of Patricia.*  With a frontispiece from drawing by
Frank T. Merrill.

Small 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.00

"There is life and action and brilliancy and dash and cleverness and a
keen appreciation of business ways in this story."—_Grand Rapids
Herald_.

"A story full of keen and flashing satire."—_Chicago Record-Herald_.



*A Book Of Girls.*  With a frontispiece.

Small 12mo, cloth, decorative cover . . . $1.00

"The stories are all eventful and have effective humor."—_New York Sun_.

"Lilian Bell surely understands girls, for she depicts all the
variations of girl nature so charmingly."—_Chicago Journal_.

_The above two volumes boxed in special holiday dress, per set, $2.50_.



*The Red Triangle.*  Being some further chronicles of Martin Hewitt,
investigator.  By ARTHUR MORRISON, author of "The Hole in the Wall,"
"Tales of Mean Streets," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

This is a genuine, straightforward detective story of the kind that
keeps the reader on the _qui vive_.  Martin Hewitt, investigator, might
well have studied his methods from Sherlock Holmes, so searching and
successful are they.

"Better than Sherlock Holmes."—_New York Tribune_.

"The reader who has a grain of fancy or imagination may be defied to lay
this book down, once he has begun it, until the last word has been
reached."—_Philadelphia North American_.

"If you like a good detective story you will enjoy this."—_Brooklyn
Eagle_.

"We have found ’The Red Triangle’ a book of absorbing
interest."—_Rochester Herald_.

"Will be eagerly read by every one who likes a tale of mystery."—_The
Scotsman, England_.



*Prince Hagen.*  By UPTON SINCLAIR, author of "King Midas," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . . $1.50

In this book Mr. Sinclair has written a satire of the first order—one
worthy to be compared with Swift’s biting tirades against the follies
and abuses of mankind.

"A telling satire on politics and society in modern New
York."—_Philadelphia Public Ledger_.

"The book has a living vitality and is a strong depiction of political
New York."—_Bookseller, Newsdealer, and Stationer_.



*The Silent Maid.*  By FREDERIC W. PANGBORN.

Large 16mo, cloth decorative, with a frontispiece by Frank T. Merrill .
. . $1.00

A dainty and delicate legend of the brave days of old, of sprites and
pixies, of trolls and gnomes, of ruthless barons and noble knights.
"The Silent Maid" herself, with her strange bewitchment and wondrous
song, is equalled only by Undine in charm and mystery.

"Seldom does one find a short tale so idyllic in tone and so fanciful in
motive.  The book shows great delicacy of imagination."—_The Criterion_.



*The Spoilsmen.*  By ELLIOTT FLOWER, author of "Policeman Flynn," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

"The best one may hear of ’The Spoilsmen’ will be none too good.  As a
wide-awake, snappy, brilliant political story it has few equals, its
title-page being stamped with that elusive mark, ’success.’ One should
not miss a word of a book like this at a time like this and in a world
of politics like this."—_Boston Transcript_.

"Elliott Flower, whose ’Policeman Flynn’ attested his acquaintance with
certain characteristic aspects of the American city, has written a novel
of municipal politics, which should interest many readers....  The
characters are obviously suggested by certain actual figures in local
politics, and while the conditions he depicts are general in large
cities in the United States, they will be unusually familiar to local
readers....  Ned Bell, the ’Old Man,’ or political boss; Billy Ryan, his
lieutenant; ’Rainbow John,’ the alderman, are likely to be
identified....  and other personages of the story are traceable to their
prototypes."—_Chicago Evening Post_.



*Stephen Holton.*  By CHARLES FELTON PIDGIN, author of "Quincy Adams
Sawyer," "Blennerhassett," etc. The frontispiece is a portrait of the
hero by Frank T. Merrill.

One vol., library 12mo, cloth, gilt top . . . $1.50

"In the delineation of rural life, the author shows that intimate
sympathy which distinguished his first success, ’Quincy Adams
Sawyer.’"—_Boston Daily Advertiser_.

"’Stephen Holton’ stands as his best achievement."—_Detroit Free Press_.

"New England’s common life seems a favorite material for this sterling
author, who in this particular instance mixes his colors with masterly
skill."—_Boston Globe_.



*Asa Holmes;* OR, AT THE CROSS-ROADS.  A Sketch of Country Life and
Country Humor.  By ANNIE FELLOWS JOHNSTON.  With a frontispiece by
Ernest Fosbery.

Large 16mo, cloth, gilt top . . . $1.00

"’Asa Holmes; or, At the Cross-Roads’ is the most delightful, most
sympathetic and wholesome book that has been published in a long while.
The lovable, cheerful, touching incidents, the descriptions of persons
and things are wonderfully true to nature."—_Boston Times_.



*A Daughter Of Thespis.*  By JOHN D. BARRY, author of "The Intriguers,"
"Mademoiselle Blanche," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

"I should say that ’A Daughter of Thespis’ seemed so honest about actors
and acting that it made you feel as if the stage had never been truly
written about before."—_W. D. Howells, in Harper’s Weekly_.

"This story of the experiences of Evelyn Johnson, actress, may be
praised just because it is so true and so wholly free from melodrama and
the claptrap which we have come to think inseparable from any narrative
which has to do with theatrical experiences."—_Professor Harry Thurston
Peck, of Columbia University_.

"Certainly written from a close and shrewd observation of stage
life."—_Chicago Record-Herald_.



*The Golden Dog:* A ROMANCE OF QUEBEC.  By WILLIAM KIRBY.  New
authorized edition, printed from new plates.  Illustrated by J. W.
Kennedy.

One vol., library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.25

"A powerful romance of love, intrigue, and adventure in the times of
Louis XV. and Madame de Pompadour, when the French colonies were making
their great struggle to retain for an ungrateful court the fairest
jewels in the colonial diadem of France.  It is a most masterly picture
of the cruelties and the jealousies of a maiden, Angelique des
Melloises—fair as an angel and murderous as Medea. Mr. Kirby has shown
how false prides and ambitions stalked abroad at this time, how they
entered the heart of man to work his destruction, and particularly how
they influenced a beautiful demon in female form to continued
vengeances."—_Boston Herald_.



*The Last Word*.  By ALICE MACGOWAN.  Illustrated with seven portraits
of the heroine.

Library 12mo, cloth, gilt top . . . $1.50

"When one receives full measure to overflowing of delight in a tender,
charming, and wholly fascinating new piece of fiction, the enthusiasm is
apt to come uppermost.  Miss MacGowan has been known before, but her
best gift has here declared itself."—_Louisville Post_.

"The story begins and ends in Western Texas.  Between chapters, there is
the ostensible autobiography of a girl who makes her way in New York
journalism.  Out of it all comes a book, vivid, bright, original—one of
a kind and the kind most welcome to readers of the hitherto
conventional."—_New York World_.



*The Captain’s Wife.*  By W. CLARK RUSSELL, author of "The Wreck of the
Grosvenor."  With a frontispiece by C. H. Dunton.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

"Mr. Russell’s descriptions of the sea are vivid and full of color, and
he brings home to the reader the feeling that he is looking upon the
real thing drawn by one who has seen the scenes and writes from
knowledge."—_Brooklyn Eagle_.

"Every page is readable and exciting."—_Baltimore Herald_.

"This story may be considered as one of the best of his excellent tales
of the sea."—_Chicago Post_.

"There are suggestions of Marryat in it, and reminders of Charles Reade,
but mostly it is Clark Russell, with his delightful descriptions and
irresistible sea yarns."—_Phila. North American_.



*The Mate of the Good Ship York.*  By W. CLARK RUSSELL, author of "The
Wreck of the Grosvenor," etc.  With a frontispiece by C. H. Dunton.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

"One of the breeziest, most absorbing books that have come to our table
is W. Clark Russell’s ’The Mate of the Good Ship York.’"—_Buffalo
Commercial_.

"For a rousing, absorbing, and, withal, a truthful tale of the sea,
commend me to W. Clark Russell.  His novel, ’The Mate of the Good Ship
York,’ is one of the best, and the love romance that runs through it
will be appreciated by every one."—_Philadelphia North American_.

"Romantic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, and astounding achievements
keep things spinning at a lively rate and hold the reader’s attention
throughout the breezy narrative."—_Toledo Blade_.



*The Golden Kingdom.*  By ANDREW BALFOUR, author of "Vengeance Is Mine,"
"To Arms!" etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative . . . $1.50

This is a story of adventure on land and sea, beginning in England and
ending in South Africa, in the last days of the seventeenth century.
The scheme of the tale at once puts the reader in mind of Stevenson’s
"Treasure Island."

"Every one imbued with the spirit of adventure and with a broad
imaginative faculty will want to read this tale."—_Boston Transcript_.

"’The Golden Kingdom’ is the rarest adventure book of them all."—_N. Y.
World_.



*The Schemers: A Tale of Modern Life.*

By EDWARD F. HARKINS, author of "Little Pilgrimages Among the Men Who
Have Written Famous Books," etc. With a frontispiece by Ernest Fosbery.

Library 12mo, cloth . . . $1.50

A story of a new and real phase of social life in Boston, skilfully and
daringly handled.  There is plenty of life and color abounding, and a
diversity of characters—shop-girls, society belles, men about town, city
politicians, and others. The various schemers and their schemes will be
followed with interest, and there will be some discerning readers who
may claim to recognize in certain points of the story certain happenings
in the shopping and the society circles of the Hub.

"A faithful delineation of real shop-girl life."—_Milwaukee Sentinel_.

"This comes nearer to the actual life of a modern American city, with
all its complexities, than any other work of American fiction. The book
shows an unusual power of observation and a still more unusual power to
concentrate and interpret what is observed."—_St. Louis Star_.



*The Promotion of The Admiral.*  By MORLEY ROBERTS, author of "The
Colossus," "The Fugitives," "Sons of Empire," etc.

Library 12mo, cloth decorative, illustrated . . . $1.50

This volume contains half a dozen stories of sea life,—fresh, racy, and
bracing,—all laid in America,—stories full of rollicking, jolly, sea-dog
humor, tempered to the keen edge of wit.

"If any one writes better sea stories than Mr. Roberts, we don’t know
who it is; and if there is a better sea story of its kind than this it
would be a joy to have the pleasure of reading it."—_New York Sun_.

"To read these stories is a tonic for the mind; the stories are gems,
and for pith and vigor of description they are unequalled."—_New York
Commercial Advertiser_.

"There is a hearty laugh in every one of these stories."—_The Reader_.

"Mr. Roberts treats the life of the sea in a way that is intensely real
and intensely human."—_Milwaukee Sentinel_.

"The author knows his sea men from A to Z."—_Philadelphia North
American_.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lady Penelope" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home