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Title: Fiddles - 1909
Author: Smith, Francis Hopkinson
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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FIDDLES

By F. Hopkinson Smith

1909


This is Marny’s story, not mine. He had a hammer in his hand at the time
and a tack between his teeth.

“Going to hang Fiddles right under the old fellow’s head,” he burst out.
“That’s where he belongs. I’d have given a ten-acre if he could have
drawn a bead on that elk himself. Fiddles behind a .44 Winchester
and that old buck browsing to windward”--and he nodded at the elk’s
head--“would have made the village Mayor sit up and think. What a
picturesque liar you are, Fiddles”--here the point of the tack
was pressed into the plaster with Marny’s fat thumb--“and what a
good-for-nothing, breezy, lovable vagabond”--(Bang! Bang! Hammer at play
now)--“you could be when you tried. There!”

Marny stepped back and took in the stuffed head and wide-branched
antlers of the magnificent elk (five feet six from skull to tips) and
the small, partly faded miniature of a young man in a student cap and
high-collared coat.

I waited and let him run on. It is never wise to interrupt Marny. He
will lose the thread of his talk if you do, and though he starts off
immediately on another lead, and one, perhaps equally graphic, he
has left you suspended in mid-air so far as the tale you were getting
interested in is concerned. Who Fiddles was and why his Honor the Mayor
should sit up and think; why, too, the miniature of the young man--and
he _was_ young and remarkably good-looking, as I well knew, having seen
the picture many times before on his mantel--should now be suspended
below the elk’s head, would come out in time if I loosened my ear-flaps
and buttoned up my tongue, but not if I reversed the operation.

“Ah, you young fraud,” he went on--the position of both head and
miniature pleased him now--“do you remember the time I hauled you out
from under the table when the hucksters were making a door-mat of your
back; and the time I washed you off at the pump, and what you said
to the gendarme, and--No, you never remembered anything. You’d
rather sprawl out on the grass, or make eyes at Gretchen or the
landlady--fifty, if she was a day--maybe fifty-five, and yet she fell in
love” (this last was addressed directly to me; it had been reminiscent
before that, fired at the ceiling, at the hangings in his sumptuous
studio, or the fire crackling oil the hearth), “fell in love with that
tramp--a boy of twenty-two, mind you--Ah! but what a rounder he was!
Such a trim, well-knit figure; so light and nimble on his feet; such a
pair of eyes in his head, leaking tears one minute and flashing hate the
next. And his mouth! I tried, but I couldn’t paint it--nobody could--so
I did his profile; one of those curving, seductive mouths you sometimes
see on a man, that quivers when he smiles, the teeth gleaming between
the moist lips.”

I had lassoed a chair with my foot by this time, had dragged it nearer
the fire, and had settled myself in another.

“Funny name, though for a German,” I remarked carelessly--quite as if
the fellow’s patronymic had already formed part of the discussion.

“Had to call him something for short,” Marny retorted. “Feudels-Shimmer
was what they called him in Rosengarten--Wilhelm Feudels-Shimmer. I
tried all of it at first, then I bit off the Shimmer, and then the
Wilhelm, and ran him along on Feudels for a while, then it got down to
Fuddles, and at last to Fiddles, and there it stuck. Just fitted him,
too. All he wanted was a bow, and I furnished that--enough of the
devil’s resin to set him going--and out would roll jigs, lullabys,
fandangoes, serenades--anything you wanted: anything to which his mood
tempted him.”

Marny had settled into his chair now, and had stretched his fat legs
toward the blaze, his middle distance completely filling the space
between the arms. He had pushed himself over many a ledge with this same
pair of legs and on this same rotundity, his hand on his Winchester,
before his first ball crashed through the shoulder of the big elk whose
glass eyes were now looking down upon Fiddles and ourselves--and he
would do it again on another big-horn when the season opened. You
wouldn’t have thought so had you dropped in upon us and scanned his
waist measure, but then, of course, you don’t know Marny.

Again Marny’s eyes rested for a moment on the miniature; then he went
on:

“We were about broke when I painted it,” he said. “There was a fair of
some sort in the village, and I got an old frame for half a mark in a
pawnshop, borrowed a coat from Fritz, the stableman, squeezed Fiddles
into it, stuck a student’s cap on his head, made it look a hundred years
old--the frame was all of that--and tried to sell it as a portrait of a
‘Gentleman of the Last Century,’ but it wouldn’t work. Fiddles’s
laugh gave it away. ‘Looks like you,’ the old man said. ‘Yes, it’s my
brother,’ he blurted out, slapping the dealer on the back.”

“Where did you pick Fiddles up?” I asked.

“Nowhere,” answered Marny; “he picked me up. That is, the gendarme did
who had him by the coat collar.”

“‘This fellow insists you know him,’ said the officer of the law. ‘He
says that he is honest and that this rabbit’--here he pointed to a pair
of long ears sticking out of a game bag--‘is one he shot with the Mayor
this morning. Is this true?’

“Now if there is one thing, old man,” continued Marny, “that gets me hot
around the collar, it is to see a brother sportsman arrested for killing
anything that can fly, run, or swim. So I rose from my sketching stool
and looked him over: his eyes--not a bit of harm in ‘em; his loose
necktie thrown over one shoulder; trim waist, and so on down to the
leather leggings buttoned to his knees. If he was a poacher and subject
to the law, he certainly was the most picturesque specimen I had met in
many a day. I had, of course, never laid eyes on him before, having been
but a few days in the village, but that made the situation all the
more interesting. To rescue a friend would be commonplace, to rescue a
stranger smacked of adventure.

“I uncovered my head and bowed to the ground. ‘His Honor shoots almost
every day, your Excellency,’ I said to the gendarme. ‘I have seen
him frequently with his friends--this young man is no doubt one of
them--Let--me--think--was it this morning, or yesterday, I met the
Mayor? It is at best a very small rabbit’--here I fingered the head and
ears--‘and would probably have died of hunger anyway. However, if any
claim should be made by the farmer I will pay the damages’--this with a
lordly air, and I with only a week’s board in my pocket.

“The gendarme released his hold and stood looking at the young fellow.
The day was hot and the village lock-up two miles away. That the rabbit
was small and the Mayor an inveterate sportsman were also undeniable
facts.

“‘Next time,’ he said sententiously, with a scowl, ‘do you let his Honor
carry the game home in his own bag,’ and he walked away.

“Oh, you just ought to have seen Fiddles skip around when a turn in the
road shut out the cocked hat and cross-belts, and heard him pour out his
thanks. ‘His name was Wilhelm, he cried out; it had only been by chance
that he had got separated from his friends. Where did I live? Would I
let him give me the rabbit for a stew for my dinner? Was I the painter
who had come to the inn? If so he had heard of me. Could he and his
friends call upon me that night? He would never forget my kindness. What
was the use of being a gentleman if you couldn’t help another gentleman
out of a scrape? As for Herr Rabbit--the poor little Herr Rabbit-here he
stroked his fur--what more honorable end than gracing the table of the
Honorable Painter? Ah, these dogs of the law--when would they learn not
to meddle with things that did not concern them?”

“And did Fiddles come to your inn, Marny?” I asked, merely as a prod to
keep him going.

“Yes, a week later, and with the same gendarme. The cobbler in the
village, who sat all day long pegging at his shoes, and who, it seemed,
was watch-goose for the whole village and knew the movements of every
inhabitant, man, woman, and child, and who for some reason hated
Fiddles, on being interviewed by the gendarme, had stated positively
that the Mayor had _not_ passed his corner with his gun and four dogs
on the day of Fiddles’s arrest. This being the case, the gendarme had
rearrested the culprit, and would have taken him at once to the lock-up
had not Fiddles threatened the officer with false arrest. Would the Herr
Painter accompany the officer and himself to the house of the Mayor and
settle the matter as to whether his Honor was or was not out hunting on
that particular morning?

“All this time Fiddles was looking about the dining-room of the inn,
taking in the supper-table, the rows of mugs, especially the landlady,
who was frightened half out of her wits by Cocked Hat’s presence, and
more especially still little Gretchen--such a plump, rosy-cheeked,
blue-eyed little Dutch girl--with two Marguerite pig-tails down her
back. (Gretchen served the beer, and was the life of the place. ‘Poor
young man!’ she said to the landlady, who had by this time come to the
same conclusion--‘and he is so good-looking and with such lovely eyes.’)

“When we got to the Mayor’s the old fellow was asleep in a big armchair,
his pipe out, his legs far apart--a keg-shaped kind of a man, with a
head flattened on his shoulders like a stove-lid, who said ‘Ach Gott’
every five minutes, and spluttered when he talked.

“I went in first, leaving the two on the porch until I should send for
them. I didn’t know how things were going to turn out and had become a
little anxious. I had run up from Munich for a few weeks’ outdoor work
and wanted to stay out, not behind iron bars for abetting crime.

“‘Your Supreme Highness,’ I began, ‘I have heard of your great prowess
as a sportsman, and so I wanted to pay my respects. I, too, am a
shootist--an American shootist.’ Here I launched out on our big game (I
had been six months in the Rockies before I came abroad, and knew what
I was talking about). He was wide awake by this time and was listening.
Dropping into the chair which he had drawn up for me, I told him of
our elk--‘As big as horses, your Honor’; of our mountain lions--savage
beasts that could climb trees and fall upon the defenseless; of our
catamounts, deer, wolves, bears, foxes--all these we killed without
molestation from anybody; I told him how all American sportsmen were
like the Nimrods of old. How galling, then, for a true shootist to be
misunderstood, decried, denounced, and arrested for so insignificant a
beastie as a rabbit! This indignity my very dear friend, Herr Wilhelm
Fuedels-Shimmer, had suffered--a most estimable young man--careless,
perhaps, in his interpretation of the law, but who would not be--that
is, what sportsman would not be? I had in Wilhelm’s defense not only
backed up his story, but I had gone so far as to hazard the opinion to
the officer of that law, that it was not on some uncertain Tuesday
or Friday or Saturday, but on that very Wednesday, that his Supreme
Highness had been wont to follow with his four accomplished dogs the
tracks of the nimble cotton-tail. Would his Highness, therefore, be good
enough to concentrate his giant brain on his past life and fish from out
his memory the exact day on which he last hunted? While that was going
on I would excuse myself long enough to bring in the alleged criminal.

“Fiddles stepped in with the easy grace of a courtier accustomed to
meeting a Mayor every day of his life, and, after a confirmatory wink
from me, boldly asserted that he had followed behind his Honor--had
really assisted in driving the game his way. His Honor might not
remember his face, but he surely must remember that his Honorable Honor
had extraordinarily good luck that day. The rabbit in controversy--a
very small, quite a baby rabbit--was really one his Honorable and
Most Supreme Highness had himself wounded, and which he, Fiddles, had
finished. He was bringing it to his Honor when the estimable gendarme
had stopped him.

“‘And what day was that?’ interrupted the Mayor.

“‘On last Wednesday.’

“‘The cobbler said it was Tuesday,’ insisted Cocked Hat. ‘On this point
hangs the case. Now on which day did your Honor take the field with your
dogs?’

“There was a dead silence, during which the Mayor’s eyes rested on the
culprit. Fiddles returned the look, head up, a smile on his lips that
would have fooled the devil himself. Then his Honor turned to me
and said: ‘My memory is not always very good, but this time the
cobbler’s--who is a meddlesome person--is even more defective. Yes,
I think it quite possible I was hunting on last Wednesday. I can
sympathize with the young man as to the size of the rabbit. They are
running very small this year. My decision, therefore, is that you can
let the young man go.’

“Oh, but that was a great night at the inn. Gretchen was so happy that
she spilled the beer down the apothecary’s back and the landlady could
talk of nothing but Fiddles’s release. But the real fun began an hour
later, when shouts for the Herr Mahler, interwoven with the music of a
concertina, made me step to the door. Outside, in the road, stood
four young men--all pals of Fiddles, all bareheaded, and all carrying
lanterns. They had come to crown the American with a gold chaplet cut
from gilt paper, after which I was to be conducted to the public house
where bumpers of beer were to be drunk until the last pfennig was spent.

“On hearing this, Gretchen, the landlady, the apothecary, the hostler,
and the stable-boy--not the cobbler, you may be sure--burst forth with
cries of: ‘Hip! Hip!--Hock! Donder und Blitzen!’ or whatever they do
yell when they are mad with joy.

“Then the landlady broke out in a fresh place: ‘No public-house for
you! This is my treat! All of you come inside. Gretchen, get the mugs
full--all the mugs--Sit down! Sit down! The Herr Painter at the top of
the table, the Herr Feudels-Shimmer on the right; all the other Herrs
anywhere in between. Hock the Mahler! Hock the Hunter! Hock everybody
but the cobbler!’ Here a groan went round. ‘Hock! Hip and Blather
skitzen for the good and honorable Mayor, who always loves the people!’

“‘And Hock! too, for the honorable and good gendarme!’ laughed Fiddles,
dropping into his chair. ‘But for him I would be in the lock-up instead
of basking in the smiles of two such lovely women as the fascinating
landlady and the bewitching Gretchen.’

“After that Fiddles and I became inseparable. That I hadn’t a mark
over my expenses to give him in return for his services--and there was
nothing he would not do for me--made no difference. He wouldn’t take any
wages; all he wanted was to carry my traps, to sit by me while I worked;
wake me up in the morning, be the last to wish me good night. Soon it
became a settled fact that, while the landlady fed two mouths--mine and
Fiddles’s--and provided two beds--Fiddles in the garret--my single board
bill covered all the items. ‘That is the Herr Painter and his servant,’
she would say to inquiring strangers who watched us depart for a day’s
work, Fiddles carrying my easel and traps.

“This went on for weeks--might have gone on all summer but for
the events which followed a day’s outing. We had spent the morning
sketching, and on our way home had stood opposite a wide-open gate--a
great baronial affair with a coat of arms in twisted iron, the whole
flanked by two royal lamps.

“‘Step inside, Master,’ said Fiddles. ‘It is hot, and there is a seat
under that tree; there we will get cool.’

“‘It’s against the rules, Fiddles, and I don’t know these people.’

“‘Then I’ll introduce you.’

“He was half-way across the grass by this time and within reach of a
wooden bench, when an old lady stepped out from behind a tree--a real
old aristocrat in black silk and white ruffles. She had a book in her
hand, and had evidently been reading.

“You should have seen the bow Fiddles gave her, and the courtesy she
returned.

“‘Madame the Baroness,’ said the rascal, with an irradiating smile as I
approached them, ‘has been good enough to ask us to accompany her to the
house. Permit me, Madame, to present my friend, a distinguished American
painter who is visiting our country, and who was so entranced at the
beauty of your grounds and the regal splendor of your gate and château
that rather than disappoint him--’

“‘You are both doubly welcome, gentlemen,’ ‘This way, please,’ replied the
old lady with a dip of her aristocratic head; and before I knew it we
were seated in an oak-panelled dining-room with two servants in livery
tumbling over each other in their efforts to find the particular wine
best suited to our palates.

“Fiddles sipped his Rudesheimer with the air of a connoisseur, blinking
at the ceiling now and then after the manner of expert wine tasters, and
complimenting the old lady meanwhile on the quality of the vintage.
I confined myself to a glass of sherry and a biscuit, while Fiddles,
rising from his seat, later on, stood enraptured before this portrait
and that, commenting on their coloring, ending by drawing an ancient
book from the library and going into ecstasies over the binding and
type.

“On our way home to the inn from the chateau there was, so far as I
could see, no change in Fiddles’s manner. Neither was his speech or gait
at all affected by the bottle of Rudesheimer (and he managed to get away
with it all). I mention this because it is vitally important to what
follows. Only once did he seem at all excited, and that was when he
passed the cobbler’s corner. But then he was always excited when he
passed the cobbler seated at work--so much so sometimes that I have seen
him shake his fist at him. To-day he merely tightened his jaw, stopped
for a moment as if determined to step in and have it out with him (the
cobbler, I afterward found out, was to leave the village for good the
next day, his trade having fallen off, owing to his being so unpopular),
and then, as if changing his mind, followed along after me, muttering:
‘Spy--informer--beast--’ as I had often heard him do before.

“Judge of my astonishment then, when, an hour later, Gretchen came
running into my room wringing her hands--I had caught him kissing her
the night before--and burst out with:

“‘He is under the table--the huckster’s feet on him--He is there like a
dog--Oh, it is dreadful! Mine Herr--won’t you come?’

“‘Who is under the table?’

“‘Wilhelm.’

“‘Where?’

“‘At the public-house.’

“‘How do you know?’

“‘Fritz, the stable-boy has just seen him.’

“‘What’s the matter with him?’

“Gretchen hung her head, and the tears streamed down her cheeks,

“‘He is--he is--Oh, Meinherr--it is not the beer--nobody ever gets that
way with our beer--it is something he--’

“’ Drunk!’

“‘Yes, dead drunk, and under the table like a hog in the mud--Oh, my
poor Wilhelm! Oh, who has been so wicked to you! Oh! Oh!’ and she ran
from the room.

“I started on the run, Gretchen and the good landlady close behind. If
the Rudesheimer had upset Fiddles it had worked very slowly; maybe
it had revived an old conquered thirst, and the cheap cognac at the
public-house was the result. That he was not a man of humble birth,
nor one without home refinements, I had long since divined. Had I not
suspected it before, his manner in presenting me to the old Baroness,
and his behavior in the dining-hall, especially toward the servants,
would have opened my eyes. How then could such a man in an hour become
so besotted a brute?

“And yet every word of Gretchen’s story was true. Not only was Fiddles
drunk, soggy, helplessly drunk, but from all accounts he was in that
same condition when he had staggered into the place, and, falling over
a table, had rolled himself against the wall. There he had lain, out of
the way, except when some dram-drinking driver’s heavy cowhide boots had
made a doormat of his yielding body--not an unusual occurrence, by the
way, at the roadside taverns frequented by the lower classes.

“We worked over him, calling him by name, propping him up against the
wall, only to have him sag back; and finally, at the suggestion of one
of the truckmen--he was in a half-comatose state really from the liquor
he had absorbed--we carried him out into the stable yard, and I held his
shapely head, with its beautiful hair a-frowze, while a stream of cold
water from the pump struck the back of his head and neck.

“The poor fellow stared around wildly as the chill reached his nerves
and tried to put his arm around me, then he toppled over again and lay
like a log. Nothing was left but to pick him up bodily and carry him
home; that I did with Fritz’s, the stable-boy’s, help, Gretchen carrying
his cap, and the landlady following behind with his coat, which I had
stripped off when his head went under the pump. The bystanders didn’t
care--one drunken man more or less made no difference--but both of
the women were in tears, ‘Poor Wilhelm! Somebody had drugged him; some
wicked men had played a trick, etc., etc. I thought of the Rudesheimer,
and then dismissed it from my mind. Something stronger than Rhine wine
had wrought this change.

“We laid him flat out on a cot in a room on the second floor, and
dragged it near the open window so he could get the air from the garden,
and left him, I taking the precaution to lock the door to prevent his
staggering downstairs and breaking his neck.

“The next morning, before I was dressed, in fact, a row downstairs
brought me into the hall outside my door, where I stood listening over
the banister. Then came the tramp of men, and three gendarmes mounted
the steps and halted at Fiddles’s door.

“Bang! bang! went the hilt of a short-sword on the panel. ‘Open, in the
name of the law.’

“‘What for?’ I demanded. Getting drunk was not a crime in Rosengarten,
especially when the offender had been tucked away in bed.

“‘For smashing the face of a citizen--a worthy cobbler--the night
before, at the hour of eight,--just as he was closing his shutters. The
cobbler lay insensible until he had been found by the patrol. He had,
however, recognized Fuedels-Shimmer as the--’

“‘But, gentleman, Herr Fiddles was dead drunk at eight o’clock; he
hasn’t stirred out of the room since. Here is the key,’ and I unlocked
the door and we all stepped in, Gretchen and the landlady close behind.
They had told the officers the same story downstairs, but they would not
believe it.

“At the intrusion, Fiddles rose to a sitting posture and stared
wonderingly. He was sober enough now, but his heavy sleep still showed
about his eyes.

“The production of the key, my positive statement, backed by the women,
and Fiddles’s wondering gaze, brought the gendarmes to a halt for a
moment, but his previous arrest was against him, and so the boy was
finally ordered to put on his clothes and accompany them to the lock-up.

“I got into the rest of my duds, and began waving the American flag and
ordering out gunboats. I insisted that the cobbler had lied before in
accusing Fiddles of shooting the rabbit, as was well known, and he would
lie again. Fiddles was my friend, my servant--a youth of incorruptible
character. It is true he had been intoxicated the night before, and that
I had in consequence put him to bed, but that was entirely due to the
effects of some very rare wine which he had drunk at a luncheon given
in his honor and mine by our very dear friend the Baroness Morghenslitz,
who had entertained us at her princely home. This, with the heat of the
day, had been, etc., etc.

“The mention of the distinguished woman’s name caused another halt.
Further consultation ensued, resulting in the decision that we all
adjourn to the office of the Mayor. If, after hearing our alibi--one
beyond dispute, and submitting our evidence (Exhibit A, the key, which
they must admit exactly fitted the lock of Fiddles’s bedroom door),
his Honor could still be made to believe the perjured testimony of the
cobbler--Fiddles’s enemy, as had been abundantly proved in the previous
rabbit case, when the same mendacious half-soler and heeler had informed
on my friend--well and good; but if not, then, the resources of my
Government would be set in motion for the young man’s release.

“The Mayor’s first words were: ‘Ah, you have come again, is it, Meinherr
Marny; and it is the same young man, too, Herr Fuddles. Well, well, it
is much trouble that you have.’ (I’d give it to you in German, old man,
but you wouldn’t understand it--this to me in a sort of an aside.)

“Fiddles never moved a muscle of his face. You would have thought that
he was the least interested man in the room. Only once did his features
relax, and that was when the cobbler arrived with his head swathed in
bandages. Then a grim smile flickered about the corners of his mouth, as
if fate had at last overtaken his enemy.

“Of course, the Mayor dismissed the case. Gretchen’s tearful, pleading
face, the landlady’s positive statement of helping put the dear young
gentleman to bed; the key and the use I had made of it; the reluctant
testimony of the officers, who had tried the knob and could not get in
until I had turned the lock, together with the well-known animosity of
the cobbler (and all because Fiddles had ridiculed his workmanship on
a pair of shoes the boy had left with him to be half-soled), turned the
tide in the lad’s favor and sent us all back to the inn rejoicing.

“Some weeks later Fiddles came into my room, locked the door, pulled
down the shades, looked under the bed, in the closet and behind the
curtains, and sat down in front of me. (I had to return to Munich the
next day, and this would be our last night together.)

“You have been very good to me, Master,’ he said with a choke in his
voice. ‘I love people who are good to me; I hate those who are not. I
have been that way all my life--it would have been better for me if
I hadn’t.’ Then he leaned forward and took my hand. ‘I want you to do
something more for me; I want you to promise me you’ll take me home to
America with you when you go. I’m tired dodging these people. I want to
get somewhere where I can shoot and hunt and fish, and nobody can stop
me. I snared that rabbit; been snaring them all summer; going to keep
on snaring them after you’re gone. I love to hunt them--love the fun
of it--born that way. And I’ve got something else to tell you’--here a
triumphant smile flashed over his face--‘I smashed that cobbler!’

“‘You, Fiddles!’ I laughed. ‘Why, you were dead drunk, and I put you
under the pump and--’

“‘Yes, I know you thought so--I intended you should. I heard every word
that you said, and what little Gretchen said--dear little Gretchen, I
had studied it all out, and to play drunk seemed the best way to get at
the brute, and it was; they’d have proved it on me if I hadn’t fooled
them that way--’ and again his eyes snapped and his face flushed as the
humor of the situation rose in his mind. ‘You’ll forgive me, won’t you?
Don’t tell Gretchen.’ The light in his eyes was gone now. I’d rather
she’d think me drunk than vulgar, and it was vulgar, and maybe cowardly,
to hit him, but I couldn’t help that either, and I’m not sorry I did
it.’

“‘But I locked you in,’ I persisted. Was this some invention of his
fertile imagination, or was it true?

“‘Yes, you locked the door,’ he answered, as he broke into a subdued
laugh. ‘I dropped from the window sill when it got dark--it wasn’t high,
about fifteen feet, and the waterspout helped--ran down the back way,
gave him a crack as he opened the door, and was back in bed by the help
of the same spout before he had come to. He was leaving the next day
and it was my only chance. I wasn’t out of the room five minutes--maybe
less. You’ll forgive me that too, won’t you?’”

Marny stopped and looked into the smouldering coals. For a brief instant
he did not speak. Then he rose from his chair, crossed the room, took
the miniature from the wall where he had hung it and looked at it
steadily.

“What a delightful devil you were, Fiddles. And you were so human.”

“Is he living yet?” I asked.

“No, he died in Gretchen’s arms. I kept my promise, and two months
later went back to the village to bring him to America with me, but a
forester’s bullet had ended him. It was on the Baroness’s grounds, too.
He wouldn’t halt and the guard fired. Think of killing such an adorable
savage--and all because the blood of the primeval man boiled in his
veins. Oh, it was damnable!”

“And you know nothing more about him? Where he came from?” The story had
strangely moved me. “Were there no letters or notebooks? Nothing to show
who he really was?”

“Only an empty envelope postmarked ‘Berlin.’ This had reached him the
day before, and was sealed with a coat of arms in violet wax.”





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