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Title: Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 734, January 19, 1878
Author: Various
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and Art, No. 734, January 19, 1878" ***

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[Illustration: CHAMBERS’S JOURNAL

OF

POPULAR

LITERATURE, SCIENCE, AND ART.

Fourth Series

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.

NO. 734.      SATURDAY, JANUARY 19, 1878.      PRICE 1½_d._]



THE STORY OF THIERS.


In a densely populated street of the quaint sea-port of Marseilles
there dwelt a poor locksmith and his family, who were so hard pressed
by the dearness of provisions and the general hardness of the times,
that the rent and taxes for the wretched tenement which they called
a home had been allowed to fall many weeks into arrear. But the good
people struggled on against their poverty; and the locksmith (who
was the son of a ruined cloth-merchant), though fallen to the humble
position of a dock-porter, still managed to wade through life as if
he had been born to opulence. This poor labourer’s name was Thiers,
and his wife was a descendant of the poet Chenier; the two being
destined to become the parents of Louis Adolphe Thiers, one of the most
remarkable men that ever lived.

The hero of our story was at his birth mentally consigned to oblivion
by his parents, while the neighbours laughed at the ungainly child,
and prognosticated for him all kinds of evil in the future. And it is
more than probable that these evil auguries would have been fulfilled
had it not been for the extraordinary care bestowed upon him by his
grandmother. But for her, perhaps our story had never been written.

Under her fostering care the child survived all those diseases which
were, according to the gossips, to prove fatal to him; but while his
limbs remained almost stationary, his head and chest grew larger, until
he became a veritable dwarf. By his mother’s influence with the family
of André Chenier, the lad was enabled to enter the Marseilles Lyceum
at the age of nine; and here the remarkable head and chest kept the
promise they made in his infancy, and soon fulfilled Madame Thiers’
predictions.

Louis Adolphe Thiers was a brilliant though somewhat erratic pupil. He
was noted for his practical jokes, his restlessness, and the ready and
ingenious manner in which he always extricated himself from any scrapes
into which his bold and restless disposition had led him. Thus the
child in this case would appear to have been ‘father to the man,’ by
the manner in which he afterwards released his beloved country from one
of the greatest ‘scrapes’ she ever experienced.

On leaving school Thiers studied for the law, and was eventually called
to the bar, though he never practised as a lawyer. He became instead
a local politician; and so well did the rôle suit him, that he soon
evinced a strong desire to try his fortune in Paris itself. He swayed
his auditory, when speaking, in spite of his diminutive stature,
Punch-like physiognomy, and shrill piping speech; and shout and yell
as his adversaries might, they could not drown his voice, for it arose
clear and distinct above all the hubbub around him. While the studious
youth was thus making himself a name in his native town, he was ever on
the watch for an opportunity to transfer his fortunes to the capital.
His almost penniless condition, however, precluded him from carrying
out his design without extraneous assistance of some kind or other;
but when such a stupendous ambition as that of governing one of the
greatest nations of the earth filled the breast of the Marseilles
student, it was not likely that the opportunity he was seeking would be
long in coming.

The Academy of Aix offered a prize of a few hundred francs for a
eulogium on _Vauvenargues_, and here was the opportunity which Louis
Adolphe Thiers required. He determined to compete for the prize,
and wrote out two copies of his essay, one of which he sent to the
Academy’s Secretary, and the other he submitted to the judgment of
his friends. This latter indiscretion, however, would appear to have
been the cause of his name being mentioned to the Academicians as a
competitor; and as they had a spite against him, and disapproved of his
opinions, they decided to reject any essay which he might submit to
them.

On the day of the competition they were as good as their word, and
Thiers received back his essay with only an ‘honourable mention’
attached to it. The votes, however, had been equally divided, and the
principal prize could not be adjudged until the next session. The
future statesman and brilliant journalist was not, however, to be cast
aside in this contemptuous manner, and he accordingly adopted a _ruse
de guerre_, which was perfectly justifiable under the circumstances. He
sent back his first essay for the second competition with his own name
attached thereto, and at the same time transmitted another essay, by
means of a friend, through the Paris post-office. This paper was signed
‘Louis Duval;’ and as M. Thiers knew that they had resolved to reject
his essay and accept the next best on the list, he made it as near as
possible equal to the other in point of merit.

The Academicians were thoroughly out-generalled by this clever
artifice, and the prize was awarded to the essay signed ‘Louis Duval;’
but the chagrin of the dons when the envelope was opened and the name
of Louis Adolphe Thiers was read out, can be better imagined than
described. The prize, which amounted to about twenty pounds, was
added to another sum of forty pounds gained by his friend Mignet for
essay-writing; and with this modest amount, the two friends set out
on their journey to Paris. On their arrival there, both of them were
at once engaged as writers on the _Globe_ newspaper, and M. Thiers’
articles soon attracted such attention that the highest political
destinies were predicted for their author.

Alluding to the small stature of our hero, Prince Talleyrand once
said: ‘_Il est petit, mais il grandira!_’ (He is little, but he will
be great!) Meanwhile, the young adventurer, as we may call him, was
engaged on general literary work for the press, writing political
leaders one day, art-criticisms the next, and so on, until a publisher
asked him to write the _History of the French Revolution_. He accepted;
and when published, the work met with so great a success that it placed
him in the front rank of literature, and gained for him the proud title
of ‘National Historian.’ After this the two friends published the
_National_ newspaper, an undertaking which we are told was conceived
in Talleyrand’s house, and was largely subscribed to by the Duke
of Orleans, afterwards King Louis-Philippe. M. Thiers disliked the
Bourbons; and when, in 1829, Charles X. dissolved a liberal parliament,
he took the lead in agitating for the reinstating of the people’s
rights. The king having determined to reply to the re-election of the
‘221’ by a _coup d’état_, the nature of which was secretly communicated
to M. Thiers, the latter hastened to the office of the _National_
and drew up the celebrated Protest of the Journalists, which before
noon was signed by every writer on the liberal side. As M. Thiers was
leaving the office, a servant of Prince Talleyrand placed in his hand a
note, which simply bore the words, ‘Go and gather cherries.’ This was a
hint that danger was near the young patriot, and that he should repair
to the house of one of the Prince’s friends at Montmorency--a place
famous for its cherries--and there lie hidden until the storm had blown
over.

M. Thiers did not immediately accept the hint, but remained in the
capital during the day, to watch the course of events and endeavour to
prevent his friends from doing anything rash. He energetically sought
to dissuade those who were for resisting the king’s decree by force of
arms; but did not succeed. When the barricades were raised, he left
Paris, because he thought that the people were doing an unwise thing,
which would lead to a fearful slaughter, and perhaps result in himself
and friends being shot.

When, however, the battle between the army and the people had really
begun, the indomitable little man returned to Paris, and heedless of
the bullets that were flying about, he ran here and there trying to
collect adherents for the Duke of Orleans. He also had a proclamation
of the Duke, as king, printed, rushed out with it, damp as it was from
the press, and distributed copies to the victorious insurgents; but
this operation nearly cost him his life, for the crowds on the Place
de la Bourse were shouting for a republic, and a cry was immediately
raised to lynch M. Thiers. He only escaped by dashing into a
pastry-cook’s shop, and taking a header down the open cellar which led
to the kitchen.

Nothing daunted by this _contretemps_, however, he sought out M.
Scheffer, an intimate friend of the Duke of Orleans, and started off
for Neuilly with him (without consulting anybody else), to offer the
crown of France to the Duke. When they found the Duke, he despatched
M. Thiers to Prince Talleyrand to ask his advice on the subject; and
the latter, who was in bed at the time, said: ‘Let him accept;’ but
positively refused to put this advice in writing. Thus the Duke of
Orleans became King of the French under the name of Louis-Philippe, and
the Marseilles student found himself a step nearer the accomplishment
of his aim. The poor locksmith’s son had overthrown one king and
established another!

It was M. Thiers who caused the remains of Napoleon to be removed from
the gloomy resting-place in St Helena to the church of the Invalides in
Paris, where they were re-interred amid great pomp and circumstance.
He it was who also invented or gave currency to the now well-known
constitutional maxim, ‘The king reigns, but does not govern.’

In this reign M. Thiers commenced his great work on the _Consulate and
the Empire_, in which he so eulogised the First Napoleon and flattered
the military fame of France, that he unwittingly paved the way for the
advent of the second Empire.

The revolution of 1848, which led to the abdication of Louis-Philippe,
found Thiers but a simple soldier in the National Guard, and parading
the streets with a musket on his shoulder, despite his diminutive
stature. A man of his transcendent ability, however, could not be left
long in so humble a position, and we therefore find the newly elected
sovereign Louis Napoleon trying hard to win over to his side this
unique citizen. But Thiers declined the honour, and remained a thorn in
Napoleon’s side during the whole period of his reign. When the _coup
d’état_ of 1851 was struck he was one of the leading statesmen whose
arrest was ordered and carried out. The patriot was seized and forcibly
taken out of his bed at an early hour in the morning, and imprisoned at
Mazas for several days. He was then escorted out of the country, and
became an exile from the land he loved so well.

While the excitement in Paris, which culminated in the outbreak of the
war with Germany, was at its height, and the whole nation was singing
the _Marseillaise_ and shouting ‘à Berlin,’ M. Thiers’ voice was the
only one raised to protest against France precipitating herself into an
unjust and unnecessary war. He was unheeded at the moment; but a few
weeks sufficed to prove the soundness of his reasoning; and when the
Germans were marching on Paris, it was to the locksmith’s son that the
whole nation turned in its distress.

The Napoleonic dynasty was deposed, and at the elections for the
National Assembly which afterwards took place, M. Thiers was elected
for twenty-six Departments--a splendid national testimony to his
patriotism and ability. As soon as the Assembly met he was at once
appointed ‘Chief of the Executive Power’ of the French Republic.
Thus the poor student of the Marseilles Academy had become, almost
without any effort of his own, the governor of his country; and how he
acquitted himself of the onerous and self-sacrificing task, let the
living grief of Frenchmen for his loss at this moment proudly attest.

Previous to this appointment, however, and while the German army was
thundering at the gates of Paris, the brave old statesman had, in
his seventy-fourth year, shewn his unalterable devotion to France by
the famous journey he made to all the European courts to endeavour
to obtain assistance. Failing in this, he came back, and being made
President, as above mentioned, he made peace with the Germans on the
best terms he could get, turned round and beat the Communists in the
streets of Paris; and within three short years he had not only paid the
heaviest war indemnity ever known, but had cleared his country of the
Germans, consolidated her resources, and reorganised her army.

On the morning of the 4th September last, France was suddenly plunged
into the deepest grief and dismay by the announcement that her greatest
citizen had been taken from her by death on the previous evening, at a
time when the whole nation was looking to him as the one man who could
save it from the dangerous crisis through which it was at that moment
passing.

The funeral was a magnificent one, and though a wet day, there was not
a citizen in Paris that did not join the throng, which lined the whole
of the way to the cemetery. As the body of the great patriot was borne
along every hat was raised, and many among the crowd shed tears. A riot
was expected on the occasion, but the people behaved admirably and with
great forbearance; the greatest tribute of respect which they could
have shewn to the memory of one who had done so much for his country.

The modesty of this great citizen was in perfect accordance with his
republican principles; for while President of the French Republic, his
card never bore anything more on it than the simple ‘Monsieur Thiers;’
nor did he wear any uniform or decoration other than that one which is
so dear to the heart and eye of every true Frenchman, ‘the Legion of
Honour.’ Surely never did a worthier breast bear that famous Cross than
that of the man who, despite every obstacle both physical and moral,
and despite evil prognostications, bitter taunts, and the crushing hand
of poverty, rose by the grand yet simple force of his own indomitable
will from the position of a labourer’s son to that of the ruler of a
mighty nation. But even greater than all this was the fact, that having
attained to this grand position, he was ready, at what he believed
to be the call of duty, to lay aside his dignity, to step from his
proud position, and once more to assume the humbler rôle of a private
citizen. Such a sublime act of self-abnegation was sufficient to assure
to him the enthusiastic love and respect of an intelligent people,
and the esteem of the whole world, which may be said to have joined
with France in weaving a chaplet of immortelles to place upon the tomb
of one whose memory will be revered by all who respect indomitable
perseverance and true nobility of character.



HELENA, LADY HARROGATE.


CHAPTER III.--THE LETTER.

When Sir Sykes, left alone, addressed himself to the perusal of the
crumpled letter which he had hitherto crushed in his clenched hand,
it was with no light repugnance that he applied himself to the task.
Slowly, and with shaking fingers, he unfolded and smoothed the ruffled
paper, spread it on the table before him, and not hastily, but with a
deliberate care that was evidently painful to him, read as follows:
‘Although a stranger to you, Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet, I am no
stranger to what took place on March 24, 18--. Should you wish this
matter to remain, as it has hitherto done, untalked of by the world,
I must request that you will meet me this evening at _The Traveller’s
Rest_, by the cross-roads. I shall wait there for you until ten o’clock
to-night, and will then name the terms on which alone you can reckon on
my future silence.--Inquire for yours respectfully, DICK HOLD, staying
at _The Traveller’s Rest_.’

The baronet read and re-read this letter with the patient endurance of
a sufferer under the surgeon’s knife. Nothing but his labouring breath
and the deepening of the lines around his mouth and the furrows on his
high forehead, betrayed the pain that this precious document, indited
in a large sprawling hand, occasioned him. When he had gone through
it for the second time, he rose, and filling a glass with water from
a bottle that stood on a side-table, he drank a deep draught, and
then paced to and fro with hasty irregular steps, as some men do when
suddenly called upon for earnest thought and prompt decision.

‘I will not go!’ he said authoritatively, but in a low voice--‘I will
not go.’

Such a peremptory summons as that which he had received implied more
than it stated. It was couched in terms which were sufficiently civil;
but the tone was still that of command, not of entreaty or persuasion.
Most gentlemen of the degree of Sir Sykes would have treated such a
demand either as a piece of insufferable insolence or as the freak
of a madman. The baronet knew well enough what sort of reception
his neighbours, Lord Wolverhampton, Carew of Carew, or Fulford of
Carstennis, would have given to a request so impudent. He was, as they
were, a justice of the peace and deputy-lieutenant, owner of a fine
estate, one whose name was mentioned with respect wherever men did
congregate.

The meekest of us all are apt to rebel against unwarranted dictation.
And Sir Sykes was not meek. His friends and his servants--lynx-eyed
as we are apt to be to the foibles of others--knew that he was in
his unobtrusive way a proud man. The stronger, therefore, must have
been the influence that drew him, as the magnet draws iron to itself,
towards that unsavoury house of entertainment whence his unknown
correspondent had dated his missive. The first dressing-bell clanged
out its call unheeded, and it was only when the second bell rang that
Sir Sykes recalled his wandering thoughts sufficiently to remember that
it was time for him to dress, and that whatever cares might be busy
at his heart, he must yet wear his mask decorously before the world.
Dinner on that day at Carbery Court was not a peculiarly genial meal.
The baronet had taken, with his accustomed regularity, his place at
the table; but he was pale, and looked older by some years than he had
done a few hours since. Yet he resented Lucy’s half-timid inquiry: ‘You
are not ill, papa, I hope?’ and quietly declared that he was perfectly
well. The domestic relations differ so much in varying conditions of
life, that there are parents whose every thought and deed appear to
be the common property of the home circle, and others who sanction no
trespass on the inner self, the _to auton_ of the Greeks, which each of
us carries in the recesses of his own heart.

Sir Sykes Denzil was one of those men who, as husband and father, never
carry their confidences beyond a certain convenient limit. He was no
tyrant, and his daughters, who fondly loved him and who believed in his
love for them, looked with regret on the cloud that so often rested
on his yet handsome features. But he had known how to preserve his
jealously guarded individuality from the encroachments of affectionate
interference, so that it was but very rarely that his actions were
the theme of open comment. Blanche and Lucy, therefore, though with
feminine nicety of observation they noted that their father could not
eat, but that he emptied his glass again and again, said nothing;
while Jasper, as he watched Sir Sykes with a stealthy inquisitiveness,
made the mental reflection that ‘the governor must be hard hit, very
hard indeed;’ and secretly determined to turn the occasion to his own
peculiar profit.

‘Jasper!’ said Lucy anxiously, some time after the dinner had come to
an end; ‘what is the matter with papa? Do you know if he is really
unwell, or if anything has gone wrong? I waited here for you, in case
you might know what is amiss.’

Jasper, who had been intercepted as he was leaving the house for his
customary twilight stroll, with a cigar between his lips, turned lazily
round. ‘How can I tell, Lucy?’ he returned indifferently. ‘I’m not the
keeper of my father’s conscience, as the Lord Chancellor, by a polite
fiction, is supposed to be of the king’s.’

‘I only meant, has anything occurred, to your knowledge,’ pleaded Miss
Denzil, ‘calculated to annoy or distress him? Anything, for instance,
about you?’

‘How about me!’ demanded Jasper with a slight start and a slight frown.

‘Don’t be angry, brother; I only meant, dear, about your--debts,’
answered the girl, laying her hand on Jasper’s arm.

‘Has he been talking to you on that delightful subject?’ retorted the
brother, almost roughly. ‘No; I see that he has not; at least not very
lately. One would think, to hear that eternal refrain of debts, debts,
debts for ever jangling in my ears, that I was the first fellow who
ever overran the constable. Surely I’m punished enough, if I _did_
owe a trifle, by being caged up in this wearisome old Bastille of a
house, and---- There, there; Lucy, don’t cry. I’ll not say a word more
against Carbery, and you may set your mind at rest. If the governor has
anything to vex him, be assured that it is not in the least connected
with so insignificant a person as myself.’ And, as though weary of the
subject, he sauntered off.

It was Sir Sykes’s habit on most evenings to spend a short time, half
an hour or so, in the drawing-room. He liked music; and Blanche, his
younger daughter, who had been gifted with the sweet voice and delicate
sense of harmony which are often found in conjunction with frail
health, knew the airs and the songs that best suited him. He never,
under any circumstances, remained long in company with his daughters,
being one of those men to whom the society of women is in itself
uncongenial; but on this particular evening he went straight from the
dining-room to the library, and sipped his coffee there, while the
twilight deepened into the gloom of night.

The day had been fine enough, but the sun had sunk in a cloud-bank of
black and orange, and there were not wanting signs that a change of
weather was at hand. The wind had risen, and the clouds gathered as
the sun went down, and it seemed as though the proverbial fickleness
of our climate would soon be illustrated. But Sir Sykes, as he went
forth shortly after the clock on the turret had struck nine, paid no
heed to the weather, save that once or twice he glanced upwards with
a sort of half-conscious satisfaction at the darkling sky. The night,
with its friendly shadows and its threats of a coming storm, suited far
better with his purpose than cloudless azure and bright moonlight would
have done. The moon, not as yet long risen, was young and wan, and her
feeble lustre fell but at rare intervals through the wrack of hurrying
clouds. The larches in the plantations quivered and the aspens by the
trout-stream trembled as the gusts of wailing wind went by; while the
giant trees in the park, each one a citadel of refuge to squirrel and
song-bird, sent down a rustling sound, as though every one out of their
million leaves had found a tiny voice of its own to give warning of
the approaching gale. Sir Sykes skirted the lawn, passed through the
shrubbery, and struck into a path seldom trodden except by the feet of
his keepers, which led northwards through the park.

There is something ignominious in the very fact that the master of
any dwelling, howsoever humble, should steal away from it with as
earnest a desire to elude observation as though he had been a robber
of hen-roosts or a purloiner of spoons. And perhaps such a proceeding
appeared still more so in the case of the owner of so stately a place
as Carbery. Sir Sykes felt as he glided, unseen as he hoped, past
paling and thicket, at once angry and ashamed. So repugnant to him was
the errand on which his mind was bent, that on reaching a private door
in the northern wall of the park he came to a halt, and held as it were
parley with himself before proceeding on the quest of the writer of the
letter.

‘I do not know this fellow,’ he muttered wrathfully: ‘the man’s very
name is strange to me. But the twenty-fourth of March--_that_ can be no
mistake, no coincidence. That fatal date has burned itself too deeply
into my brain for me to disregard or to forget it. Yes, I must go; I
suppose that I must go.’

And with a heavy sigh, the master of that fair demesne and of many a
broad acre beyond it felt in his pocket for the key that would open
the postern before which he stood, unlocked the door, went out, and
reclosed and fastened it behind him. Then, without further hesitation,
he entered into a lane, the straggling branches of the hazels that
grew on the high banks to left and right almost brushing against his
person as he walked briskly on. So long as he had been within the
limits of Carbery Chase, Sir Sykes had done his best to escape notice,
keeping as often as he could tree and bush and rising ground between
himself and the grand house of which he was absolute proprietor. But
now he ceased to turn his head and look or listen for any sign that he
was followed, and pushed on, assured that his clandestine exit from
Carbery was unknown to any but himself. Sir Sykes, however, was very
much mistaken. He was dogged by the very pursuer whom, perhaps, of all
others he would have wished to keep in ignorance as to his conduct.
Jasper, whose feline vigilance, once awakened, could not readily be
lulled to sleep, had kept watch upon his father’s actions with a quiet
patient steadiness which nothing but vengeance or the greed of gain
could possibly have inspired. There is a certain sympathy, especially
with crooked motives, which enables us to anticipate the stratagems of
those with whom we have intercourse, and of this Jasper had his full
share.

He was scarcely surprised when from his place of espial he saw his
father quit the house and thread his way through the grounds after such
a fashion as made it manifest that the baronet desired his excursion
to remain a secret to those beneath his roof. That something abnormal
should happen as a consequence of the letter which Sir Sykes had
received, and the reading of which had so powerfully affected its
recipient, the captain had considered as so probable, that he thought
it worth his while to lie in wait for the surprisal of the secret. Of
two probable hypotheses, Jasper, whose imagination was of a chastened
and practical order, had chosen rather to fancy that some stranger
would arrive, than that the baronet should himself go forth to meet
that stranger. But when he saw his father’s tall figure vanish amidst
the shadows of the dense evergreens and leafy lime-trees, he was not in
the least astonished.

‘When it was a question of nobbling the _Black Prince_,’ he said
meditatively, ‘I wouldn’t trust myself, nor would Gentleman Pratt, to
talking it over anywhere but on Bletchley Downs with the vagabonds
who hocussed the horse, and who would for a fiver have sold their own
fathers.’

Some recollection that he, Jasper Denzil, late a captain in Her
Majesty’s service, was at that moment engaged, so far as in him lay,
in the questionable operation of ‘selling’ his own father, here
caused a twinge to his callous heart. But we are seldom without some
moral anodyne wherewith to lull to sleep that troublesome monitor,
conscience; and Jasper had but need to remember his debts, his
difficulties, and the fact that men at his club spoke of him as ‘Poor
Denzil--played out, sir!’ to assuage the momentary pang which some as
yet smouldering sense of honour occasioned to him.

The skill with which he followed Sir Sykes, keeping the object of his
pursuit fully in view, yet never for an instant compromising himself
by coming into the range of vision, should the baronet, as he often
did, turn his head, would have done credit to a Comanche Indian on the
war-path. It was by a subtle instinct, not by practice, that he availed
himself of the shelter of tree and brake and hollow, until at length,
himself unobserved, he made sure that Sir Sykes was heading towards the
private door in the northern wall of the park. There was a side-gate
kept continually unlocked on account of the right of way, some six
hundred yards to the eastward, and from this the captain could issue
without difficulty. As for the private door, Sir Sykes had a key to fit
its lock; Jasper had none. The latter’s mind was instantly made up.

Idle sybarite though he was, the captain was fleet of foot, an
accomplishment perhaps more common among languid men about town than
healthy hardy dwellers in the country would readily imagine. He had
made money once and again by the lightness of his heels, and they did
him good service now, as, after a rapid rush across the elastic turf of
the park and a quick traversing of the heathery surface of the rugged
common-land beyond, he caught a glimpse of his father’s stately figure
as it passed in between the tall hedges of the lane.

‘It’s lucky I can run a bit!’ gasped out Jasper as he paused for an
instant to take breath, and then passing his cambric handkerchief
across his brow, on which the heat-drops stood thickly, plunged into
the dark lane between the steep banks of which the object of his
pursuit had disappeared. And now his task was the easier, in that Sir
Sykes, intent on what lay before him, and confident that his manner of
leaving his home was unknown, never once turned his head to look back.

A ghastly sight it was--had human eye been there to note it--which the
wan moon shewed, when at uncertain intervals her white light fell on
the pale faces of these two men, father and son, so much and so little
alike, who were wending their way thus along the deep Devonshire lane.
In front was Sir Sykes, moody indeed and downcast, but a gentleman
of a goodly presence; while behind him came with feline footfall his
only son, as craftily eager in the chase as even a garrotter, our
British Thug, could have been. Once beyond the lane, the baronet and
his kindred spy had to traverse a tract of ragged and desolate common,
where the horse-road dwindled to a track of cart-wheels in the peaty
soil, and where Jasper felt that concealment would have been difficult,
had the baronet but looked behind him.

But the rain, long threatened, came on, urged by the strength of the
sobbing wind, and Captain Denzil congratulated himself on the friendly
darkness that ensued. Nor was it long before Sir Sykes caught sight of
the dead tree, on a knotted bough of which was the signboard of _The
Traveller’s Rest_, the dilapidated roof and battered front of which
could dimly be seen through the gloom of night.

‘After all, why not?’ ejaculated Jasper, as he saw his father, after a
moment’s hesitation, disappear within the ruinous porch of the roadside
public-house.


CHAPTER IV.--AT THE TRAVELLER’S REST.

‘Person of the name of Hold? I should think so, rather. Want to see
him, do you? Turn to your right, then; get up them stone steps, and
just keep straight till you’re past the water-butt, and you’ll twig the
tap-room door.’

It was a sharp-eyed sharp-tongued boy who spoke, a boy in a tattered
jacket that had once been blue, and had once been garnished with brass
anchor buttons; but who retained his Cockney accent and his air of
brisk effrontery, like that of a London sparrow.

‘Can’t you make out Her Majesty’s English, Mr Stiffback?’ said this
impudent servitor of _The Traveller’s Rest_, seeing that Sir Sykes
hesitated.

‘You keep a civil tongue, Deputy,’ broke in a deeper voice from within
the darkling passage. ‘This, I suppose, is the gentleman who received a
letter from a party called Hold? Very good. This way, sir, please; and
mind you don’t hurt your head against the beam, for the ceiling’s low
and light’s scarce. So. Here we are; and this is the tap-room, and my
name is Hold. At this end of the room we’ll be quietest.’

And the baronet passively permitted himself to be led up some stone
steps and down some brick steps, and finally into a long low room,
at one end of which, although the weather was warm and the season
summer, there glowed and crackled a large fire of mingled peat and
wood, around which were clustered seven or eight persons male and
female, two of whom were smoking short discoloured pipes, while the
others were conversing in hoarse tones, or sniffing, with somewhat of a
wolfish expression of countenance, the savoury fumes that arose from a
frying-pan which a gaunt man in frowsy black was carefully holding over
the hottest part of the fire.

There was a low wooden screen or partition, about breast-high, which
stretched across some three-fourths of this delectable apartment, which
was rudely furnished with some wooden settles and rush-bottomed chairs,
and a couple of greasy tables, vamped and clamped with sheet-iron to
repair the injury which excitable customers had done to the woodwork.

‘My name, Sir Sykes, is Hold,’ said the owner of the name, when the
baronet had taken his seat on one of the mean-looking chairs, and
his singular correspondent had placed himself on one of the benches
opposite.

‘I never heard it before, nor, to the best of my recollection, have we
ever met,’ said Sir Sykes dryly.

‘Ah, yes, but we have met, Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet,’ returned Hold,
with a twinkle of satisfaction in his bold black eyes; ‘not that it’s
any wonder you do not remember so humble a chap as yours truly. I have
the advantage of you.’

These last words were uttered with a malicious emphasis which caused
Sir Sykes to look again and keenly in the man’s face, while cudgelling
his memory, though in vain, to find some guiding clue. He saw a
hard, fierce, swarthy countenance, dark hair partly grizzled, and a
powerfully built frame, such as matched well with the face. Had Sir
Sykes on the Bench been consulted by his brother magistrates as to
the number of calendar months of imprisonment with hard labour to be
allotted to such a one as Hold, he would have said at once: ‘Give him
the heaviest sentence warranted by law, for, unless Lavater’s science
be false, there could scarcely exist a more dangerous scoundrel.’

Sir Sykes, however, was not on the bench, nor Hold in the dock at
quarter-sessions. So he merely replied with a steady look: ‘No, Mr
Hold, or whatever your name may be. To the best of my belief, I never
in my life saw you.’

‘Very good,’ quietly returned the man, taking out a black pocket-book
much frayed and battered, and rustling over the dog’s-eared leaves.
‘Let me see; yes, March the twenty-fourth is the first important date.’

‘And may I ask,’ interposed Sir Sykes, with somewhat of the cold
haughtiness which had stood him in good stead in many a moral duel,
‘what is the meaning of these perpetual references to a specified day
in March?’

Hold’s low inward laugh was one of sincere enjoyment. ‘It’s not only
at cards, Sir Sykes,’ he said with a chuckle, ‘that the game of brag
can be played. But come, it’s of no use, Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet. My
hand’s too strong--chokeful of court-cards, kings, queens, knaves, and
aces--to give you a chance. I have entries here’--slapping the black
pocket-book--‘for more days than one. Take one of ’em at random. You
have cause to remember the ninth of April in the same year, Sir Sykes.
So have I.’ And with a nod and a wink, Hold slid back the book into an
inner pocket of his rough coat.

The baronet’s blanched face and anxious eye betrayed how deeply he was
agitated by what he had heard.

‘What do you want of me?’ he asked abruptly, but in a tremulous voice.

‘Hark ye, shipmate!’ rejoined the other, leaning his head on his hand,
while his elbow rested on the stained and chipped table beside him;
‘all in good time. Business is business, and is not to be disposed of
in that sort of hop, skip, and jump way. Take another look at me, if
you like; and since you can’t tell who I am, say _what_ I am.’

‘I should say,’ answered Sir Sykes, gazing with undisguised repugnance
at the outward man of his dubious acquaintance, ‘that you have been a
sailor.’

‘No great wit wanted, I reckon,’ retorted Hold roughly, ‘to make
out that much. The very mermaid on my arm here, and the crown and
the anchor,’ he continued, baring his brawny wrist so as to exhibit
the blue tattoo marks which it bore, ‘would tell you that. But I’ve
followed more trades than one; tried them all in turn, sir. How does
that idle string of words that schoolboys say, come off the tongue? Ay,
I have it--Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor. Why, I’ve been everything
on the urchin’s roll-call except thief; I never was quite that--or
gentleman, which is a cut above me.’

‘You have seen the world evidently,’ said Sir Sykes in a bland tone;
‘but you must remember, Mr Hold, that you have not as yet explained to
me with sufficient clearness the nature of your business with me.’

‘Labour lost, if I did,’ rejoined Hold with a cynical smile. ‘A secret
is best of course when it belongs to one only. Two may get some good
out of it; but once it’s common property, the goose that laid the
golden eggs is picked bare to the last bone. Do you see,’ he added,
dropping his voice, ‘our good friends yonder, and do you suppose
that such as they are not all ears, as it were, to snap up any odds
and ends of our talk? He with the frying-pan is as knowing a hand as
any in England--a begging-letter writer, as the newspaper paragraphs
call it. And the others, well! the others are all on the lay more or
less, to scratch up a living by their wits. It’s only the cream of
the cadging profession that can afford to patronise the _Rest_. It’s
quite a genteel hotel of its class, I assure you. But now you know why
I don’t speak out. Better deal with me singly, than with all these
blood-suckers, I should say. And so, as we understand each other, we
need not enlighten others.’

‘Is there no more private place?’ the baronet began.

But Hold broke curtly in: ‘None, Sir Sykes, in a crib like this.
Up-stairs, we’d double the risk of being overheard. Walls have ears,
you know. Now here, where we can see into the garden from this open
window at my elbow, we’re pretty safe.--Deputy!’ (this was addressed to
the sharp boy in the ragged jacket) ‘two glasses of rum, d’ye hear?’

Sir Sykes had had time to think, and it was in a firm tone that he now
spoke.

‘Now, Mr Hold,’ he said, ‘I am a man of the world, and as such will not
affect indignation or astonishment in the fact that you wish to bargain
with me, for your own advantage, as to certain painful events of my
earlier life. Name your terms, but be moderate. The law, as you are
aware, is not very indulgent towards those who extort money by means of
threats or calumnies.’

Hold’s face, hitherto good-humoured, wore an ugly scowl. ‘Drop that
style of argument, if you’re wise, baronet,’ he said resolutely. ‘Dick
Hold is not often backward, when folks will fire shotted guns instead
of harmless blank cartridge. Come, come, commodore; if you dared to
indict me, you’d hardly be here. Try that game, if you choose. It only
serves the turn of those who can come into court with clean hands.
Yours mayhap would shew a stain or so.--Here is Deputy with the rum.
Let us drink, sir, to our better acquaintance, and be friends.’

Sir Sykes, however, pushed back the glass which Hold proffered him.
Sunk in his own estimation though he might be, he could not stoop to
pledge a ruffian of the stamp of this one.

‘Your very good health, Sir Sykes Denzil, Baronet,’ said Hold
unconcernedly, as he tossed off his liquor. ‘We wear well, both of us;
though many a year has gone over our heads since that ninth of April
that you know of.’

‘Were you at Sandston, then, on that day?’ asked the baronet, thrown
off his guard, and a slight quivering of Hold’s eyelid told that a
point had been scored against his incautious opponent.

‘Not so. At Tunbridge Wells rather,’ returned Hold slowly. ‘I remember
seeing the funeral--that of the poor little girl of yours who died, Sir
Sykes.’

Sir Sykes grew almost as white as he had done when first he began the
reading of the letter which had drawn him to such a rendezvous.

‘You will oblige me, sir,’ he said in a voice that he vainly tried to
render firm and calm, ‘by being silent in future as to--as to’----

‘So that we understand one another, I agree to anything,’ was Hold’s
half-sullen rejoinder.

‘And now to come to terms. You want money, no doubt?’ said Sir Sykes
more composedly.

‘All people, to the best of my belief, want money,’ replied Hold with
a grin. ‘I am no cormorant, no shearer and skinner of such as come
under my handling. Just now, Sir Sykes, I will only ask you for five
hundred--a fleabite!’

The demand, considering the baronet’s rank and means, was unexpectedly
moderate. Sir Sykes in turn produced his pocket-book. ‘Few men,’ he
said, ‘keep such a sum in ready cash. But it so happens’--laying down
a roll of bank-notes upon the squalid table--‘that I have money, two
hundred and thirty pounds, with me; and here’--pencilling a few words
on a leaf which he tore out of the book--‘is my written promise for two
seventy. I will send you a cheque to-morrow.’

‘Nothing,’ observed Hold, ‘could be more satisfactory. Don’t send a
groom; grooms chatter; the post is safer. You won’t drink the rum, Sir
Sykes? I will.’ And he swallowed the alcohol at a gulp, and then swept
notes and paper into his pocket. ‘One thing more, Sir Sykes. I did not
come here for hush-money and nothing else. I want you to take into your
house and as a member of your family a person--of my recommending, Sir
Sykes.’

‘I fail to comprehend you, Mr Hold,’ said the baronet stiffly.

The other laughed. ‘Her name,’ he said, ‘is Ruth.’

‘Ruth!’ exclaimed Sir Sykes, starting from his seat, and speaking so
unguardedly that the unwashed crew at the firelit end of the room
turned to peer at him.

‘Yes, Ruth. Don’t you like the name?’ asked the fellow coarsely. ‘My
sister, Ruth Hold.’

‘Ruth--your sister--yours--at Carbery?’ gasped out the bewildered
baronet.

‘You need not be afraid,’ was the rough reply: ‘she won’t disgrace your
fine house or your dainty ways. I doubt if your misses at home are more
thoroughly the lady than Ruth Hold--my--sister.’

‘You must see, your own good sense must shew you,’ stammered out Sir
Sykes, looking the picture of abject terror, as the smoky glare of the
lamp fell on his pale face, ‘that even were I willing to consent to so
extraordinary---- In short it cannot be.’

‘Sorry for you, then!’ returned Hold with a shrug; ‘for on your
acceptance of these terms alone is my silence to be bought. Come,
come, shipmate! hear reason. Ruth shall bear any surname you like, and
it can’t be hard to account for her coming to Carbery. You knew her
father--an old friend--military--died in India--left you her guardian,
Ruth’s guardian; eh, Sir Sykes?’

‘I--I will take time to think of it,’ said the baronet confusedly. ‘You
shall hear from me to-morrow. And now, I had better go.’

And he rose. Hold re-conducted him, civilly enough, as far as the outer
door, and watched him depart through the howling wind and driving
rain towards Carbery. But what neither Hold nor Sir Sykes could have
conjectured was that Jasper Denzil, hidden in a crazy arbour among the
sunflowers and pot-herbs of the inn garden, hard by the open window,
had during the greater portion of the interview played the part of an
unsuspected eavesdropper, and was now on his way by another route to
Carbery Chase.



ANALOGIES OF ANIMAL AND PLANT LIFE.


The boundary-line between the lowest forms of animal and vegetable
life is of a most indefinite character. Nature would seem to have
been guilty of many inconsistencies in her arrangement of these
organisms; for a being which at one period of its existence exhibits
the common characteristics of a plant, may at another period possess
the attributes of an animal. Such an organism is found in the form of a
fungus which grows on the surface of tan-pits. Under slightly altered
conditions it becomes a locomotive creature capable of feeding upon
solid matter. Naturalists have therefore always felt a difficulty in
deciding which of these doubtful organisms should be classed with the
one kingdom and which with the other. Indeed it has been seriously
proposed to form a separate class for their reception, a kind of
‘no-man’s land’ to which they might by general consent be relegated.

It would at first appear that a sufficient distinction would be made
if such organisms as possess the power of spontaneous movement were at
once called animals. But this classification would prove to be most
erroneous, for many plants possess the power of movement in a very
high degree. The swarm-spores of such algæ as seaweeds, for instance,
swim actively about by means of minute filaments or _cilia_. They
were on this account long supposed to be animalcules, and it was not
until they were found to ultimately develop into the plants from which
they sprung, that their real place in nature was determined. These
swarm-spores, common enough in the sea and in pools and ditches all the
world over, are particles of matter which detach themselves from their
parent cells, and after a longer or shorter time of activity, come to
rest and form new algæ. They are provided with two or more vibratile
cilia--minute processes which we more fully alluded to in a recent
paper on ‘Bell Animalcules.’

The suggestion that animals should be distinguished by their motor
powers is also fallacious, for the reason that many animals do not
possess this power. Sponges, for instance, are organised bodies which
remain stationary attached to rocks. But their system of pores and
vents, through which a constant circulation is maintained, and by means
of which they are supplied with particles of solid matter as food, most
certainly entitle them to be ranked as animals.

The similarity between the lowest organisms of the two kingdoms does
not seem so extraordinary after all, when by the help of the microscope
we examine their structural details. In both we find a similar
semi-fluid matter called protoplasm, which has been defined as ‘the
physical basis of life.’ In the cellular tissues of many plants this
fluid may, with a sufficiently high magnifying power, be seen in a
state of ceaseless activity. It is composed of four elements, namely
carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. An analogous substance is
found in white of egg, and protoplasm itself is one of the constituents
of blood. Many of our readers will know that the colour of blood is due
to innumerable red bodies called corpuscles, so minute, that myriads
will be contained in one drop of the vital fluid. But there are also
other corpuscles quite devoid of colour. These are minute particles
of protoplasm, and like the same matter in plants, they exhibit
peculiar phenomena of motion, allied to those seen in the _Amœba_
or ‘Proteus-animalcule.’ We may therefore conclude that the vital
principle in both animals and plants is the same, and that the tissues
of both are built up of this protoplasm; the point of difference being
that, whereas animals obtain it ready-made from plants, the latter are
the manufacturers of it from mineral or inorganic sources.

There are of course, besides the mere chemical constituents of
protoplasm, other conditions necessary to vitality. A certain range
of temperature would seem to be the most important, if we except
perhaps the presence of water, without which life can hardly exist.
But even here a curious exception is presented to us in the Rotifera
or wheel-animalcules--formerly alluded to in this _Journal_ in an
article on ‘Suspended Animation’--which may be kept in a state of dried
dust for many years, and which, on the addition of a drop of water,
will resume their original vigour and rapid movement. The so-called
mummy-wheat which is said to germinate after a burial of some thousands
of years, is an instance of this retention of the life-principle in
plants. Light as well as heat also plays an important part in the
mystery of vitality, although it is a curious but well-authenticated
fact that the mere growth of plants is most rapid in darkness. We may
see an instance of this in the stems of a growing plant which is placed
near a window. They will all be bent towards the glass. Hence it is a
common saying that they are attracted by the light. But the real reason
for this bent form is, that their darker side grows more rapidly than
the rest of the plant, forcing it to assume a curved form.

It is in the nature of their food that plants and animals shew the most
marked points of difference. We may state as a broad rule that all
living things have the power of taking in foreign matter, wherewith to
supply and replenish their various parts. This process, in which the
many units which make up the structure are constantly dying away and
being reproduced, constitutes what we call growth. In carrying out this
function, animals convert organic into inorganic matter, whilst plants
do precisely the reverse. They may both be described as digesting
their food--if we accept as a definition of the term digestion, that
process by which insoluble food is reduced to a soluble form fitted for
absorption. In the animal this process is performed by means of glands
or their analogues in lower animals, which open upon the internal
surface of the stomach, and which secrete an acid fluid called the
gastric juice. This fluid contains pepsine--a dried preparation of
which, obtained from the stomach of the pig, forms a valuable remedy in
the treatment of indigestion. Its power of dissolving organic matter
is so subtle, that even after death it may act upon the stomach
itself, as well as upon any of the other organs with which it may
come in contact. The problem as to why the stomach is during life
preserved from destruction by its own secretion, was long a puzzle to
physiologists; but it has been decided according to one opinion, that
the alkalinity of the blood, which constantly circulates through the
tissues, protects them from injury by its neutralising influence.

In plants the function of digestion is the same in principle, although
the absence of a mouth and special digestive organs renders it
different in detail. Plants require inorganic matters for support.
Potatoes and turnips will, for instance, withdraw immense quantities of
alkaline matter from the soil. Beans and peas will rob the ground in
like manner of its lime, while the various kinds of grasses will choose
silica for their nourishment. It is this selective property of plants
which renders necessary the rotation of crops. A succession of alkaline
plants would in time render the ground quite unproductive of vegetation
of that kind; but if a proper rotation of crops be observed--the soil,
whilst giving up one of its constituents, is gradually regaining those
which it has previously lost. A consideration of these conditions of
agriculture forms the very groundwork of scientific farming.

Exceptions to the rule that plants consume inorganic matter are
furnished by certain fungi and also by the insectivorous plants. One
of these latter, the _Dionæa muscipula_, or Venus’s flytrap, we fully
described some months ago; but the subject is so replete with interest
that we shall not hesitate to recur to it and to refer to some of the
other members of the same family.

Without reproducing our description of the _Dionæa_, we may assist
our readers’ memory by shortly stating that the leaf of the plant is
formed of two lobes joined by a midrib, and that each half of the leaf
is furnished with three sensitive hairs. On a fly or other insect
settling on the leaf and so irritating these hairs, the two lobes
gradually close and imprison the intruder. The most remarkable property
of the plant is that it not only kills insects in this way, but that
it actually _digests_ them in a manner exceedingly similar to that by
which animals are nourished; for after the prey is secured, a liquid
secreted in the upper part of the leaf is exuded, and this liquid is
analogous with that furnished in the case of animals by the glands of
the digestive mucous membrane. The closeness of the analogy will be
better understood by referring to an experiment which was made with a
view to testing the solvent powers of this secretion. A slice chipped
from a dog’s tooth was placed between the lobes of a _Dionæa_ leaf.
After some days the lobes were separated, and the piece of tooth was
found to be in such a soft fibrous condition that it was torn to shreds
by the slight force employed in removing it. This energetic power of
the secretion will remind the reader of what we have already said
regarding the action of the gastric juice upon the animal tissues after
death. Another curious point of similarity between the two fluids is
observed in the fact that in both cases the secretion is stimulated by
the presence of food.

It seems almost incredible to think how such a peculiarity in a plant
should have, until very recent years, remained in obscurity. It is
true that more than a century ago an English naturalist described
it, and submitted his observations to Linnæus. But since that time
the matter had aroused very little interest, until some few years ago
when Darwin published his wonderful book on Insectivorous Plants.
This want of attention is evidently due to the fact that Linnæus
himself merely looked upon the plant as one, like the sensitive plant,
having an excitable structure. He regarded the imprisoned insects as
merely an accidental occurrence, stating it as his opinion that they
were probably released when the leaf re-opened. The matter was thus
quietly set at rest by a great authority, and no more was heard of the
_Dionæa_ until an able naturalist of North Carolina, where the plant is
indigenous, again called attention to it.

Another plant belonging to this group has several peculiarities which
are worthy of notice. We allude to the _Sarracenia_, which is found
in the eastern states of North America. This plant grows in bogs and
similar moist neighbourhoods. The leaf consists of a trumpet-shaped
tube half covered with an arched lid. This tube exhibits a smooth
and slippery surface for some distance down its interior; but lower
still it is studded with bristles, its lowest depths being filled with
a fluid of intoxicating properties. Round the mouth of the pitcher
thus formed exude drops of a sweet viscid fluid. The _Nepenthes_
form another branch of the family of Pitcher-plants, including many
different species. Indigenous to the Asiatic Archipelago, their
appearance is that of a half-shrubby climbing plant, the leaf of which
terminates in a long stem, to which is attached a hanging pitcher.
These pitchers vary in length from an inch to a foot, or even more;
indeed some are large enough to entrap a bird or small quadruped. Their
structure is not so complicated as those of the _Sarracenia_, although
in other respects they greatly resemble them; while in both cases the
digestive functions are closely allied with those of the _Dionæa_. But
the most seductive of all these traps for unwary insects is certainly
the _Darlingtonia_. Its victim is first of all attracted by the bright
colour of its petals, and after it has settled upon the plant, and
helped to fertilise it by the movement of its body against the pollen,
it slips into a treacherous pitcher, to be first intoxicated, and then
totally annihilated. Surely there will be no difficulty in finding an
analogy here to certain social institutions belonging to the higher
order of animals!

The electrical phenomena common to both plants and animals must next
claim our attention. The celebrated Galvani was the first to direct
attention to the existence of an electrical current in the muscle
of a frog’s leg. Volta disputed this, and insisted that the current
produced by Galvani was due to certain metallic connections which he
employed, and not to any inherent electricity in the muscle itself.
Since Galvani’s time, however, numerous investigators have followed up
his researches; and it is now an accepted fact that every exertion of
muscular force is accompanied by a current analogous to electricity,
the strength of which is in exact proportion to the mechanical power
called into play. It is a curious fact that this peculiar force remains
in the muscle for a certain time after death, but it is totally lost
so soon as rigidity sets in, and no earthly power can recall it. It
may therefore be considered as essentially a vital phenomenon. It is
moreover greater in mammals than in birds, and is least noticeable in
reptiles and fishes. But we must not omit to mention that among the
latter are found several which have a powerful electric battery as
their chief defensive power. The Mediterranean torpedo--one of the Ray
or Skate family of fishes--after which our most modern engines of war
are named, is the chief of these.

Although it has long been known that currents of electricity existed
in plants, such currents were attributed to chemical reaction between
the external moisture and the internal juices of the plants themselves,
and also to atmospheric disturbance. They have therefore hitherto
borne very little analogy to the muscular electricity of animals. But
very recently the subject has received great attention; in fact the
electrical disturbance consequent on the excitation of the leaf of our
old acquaintance the _Dionæa_, formed part of the subject of a paper
lately read before the Royal Society. The authors of this contribution
to our knowledge of a very obscure subject, proved by numerous delicate
experiments that the current which accompanied the closure of the leaf
in question was in every respect similar to that obtained from the
muscles of animals.



THE BELL-RINGER.

IN FOUR CHAPTERS.


CHAPTER IV.--THE ANTHEM OF THE BELLS.

It was a solemn gathering when two hours later, the physician entered
Bertram’s room in company with Squire Peregrine, Colonel Lindsay, and
Gertrude. The change in the Squire was marvellous; his sternness had
left him; he followed his daughter and his old friend; he hung upon
every word which fell from the lips of the man of science; and during
the time when the doctors were alone with their patient and Nathan,
he paced his room in a state nearly bordering on mental distraction.
Meeting the doctors as they at length emerged from the sick-room, he
grasped them by the arm. ‘Will he live? will he live?’ he reiterated
wildly. ‘Tell me the truth. My son, my son!’

In vain they urged him to be calm; his reasoning powers seemed to have
deserted him.

‘He must not die; he shall not die!’ he repeated; until Colonel
Lindsay, laying his hand upon his shoulder, whispered: ‘There is hope.
Do not despair. My old friend, remember how much yet remains to be
done for him. The active cause of mischief is at last removed.’ He
produced a small piece of the blade of a knife, at the sight of which
the Squire shuddered. ‘Humanly speaking, you owe his life twice over to
Nathan Boltz. As to the perpetrator of the outrage, he will be dealt
with according to his deserts; at present, we have no clue to his
whereabouts.’

This speech of the Colonel’s was intended to answer two purposes--to
give the Squire time to recover himself, and to arrest any remarks
which might fall from the medical men, who were to remain all night
at the Hall. It had the desired effect; they saw that private family
affairs were connected with this murderous attack and remained silent,
only insisting that Nathan (whom Bertram had faintly recognised) should
remain with him. The Squire sent for him, and in the presence of all
his family, grasped him by the hand and begged him to stay. How he
overcame all his scruples, how he placed himself in the position of
a debtor, was made plain to all who heard him; and Gertrude felt her
heart throb almost to pain as she sat by listening to the words of her
father, the proudest of the Peregrine race.

Therefore it was that Nathan took his place in the sick-room,
surrounded by every luxury which appertains to wealth. It was a
strange position; but he entered upon it with his usual large-hearted
earnestness, believing he was fulfilling his promise to the mother of
the sick man.

In the meantime, Patricia was undergoing a torment of fear and
suspense. A week had elapsed, Oliver had not returned, and no inquiry
had as yet been made concerning him. She dared not question any one,
and though many an eye was bent upon her in a half-pitying manner,
she would not for worlds betray her wretchedness. She asked not to be
confirmed in her miserable doubts and horrible fears, for she felt
certain her lover was somehow concerned in her brother’s illness. Yet
why this change in her father? She could not understand; and pondering
day by day, became pale and ill, restless and depressed.

Christmas-day came and went much in the same way as other days. There
were no decorations in the church, and no sound of the sweet loud bells
of Linden Tower, for Bertram lay hovering between life and death, and
all bell-ringing was suspended on his account. Another week passed on;
wearily dragged the hours; when at the close of a dark day of rain and
wind, a messenger arrived with a note for Patricia, which caused her
heart to throb and her pulse to rebound with agonising pain. The writer
of the dirty ill-spelt letter begged her to go at once to a farm-house
ten miles distant, where Oliver Peregrine lay dying. Now Patricia knew
she must put away her mask for ever. With eager haste she ran with the
summons to her father, and the utter wretchedness in her face made him
full of pity for her.

‘Jenkyns shall bring the carriage for you, my darling, immediately.
I know the spot; close to the stone quarries--a dangerous place. Be
brave, Patricia. But you must not go alone; Colonel Lindsay will
accompany you.’

She made no reply; her white lips moved, but no sound came forth.
After a vain attempt to speak, she left the room, and shortly after
was handed by Colonel Lindsay into the carriage. Their drive was
accomplished in silence. Patricia’s agonising suspense was too great
for speech; and her gallant companion felt too much to attempt
commonplaces.

When they arrived at the farm, Patricia descended from the carriage,
and entered the house alone. In an inner room a woman was busy making
a clearance of such articles as she could stuff away in corners and
behind chairs, while a faint moaning told that the unhappy man occupied
the apartment.

‘I found the gentleman lying at the bottom of a quarry,’ said the man
who lived on the farm. ‘It’s a fortnight back, sir, that going round
the place as late as ten o’clock, I heard as it were close to me some
one groaning as if in dreadful pain. It was some time before I could
find out where the noise came from. At last my wife and me together
got down to the bottom of the quarry, and managed between us to drag
him to the top. He was wonderful bad, but refused to tell his name or
let a doctor be fetched, and only let my boy run with the note because
he felt he was dying. We have done what we could, sir; but you see we
don’t know many folks about here, or we might have helped him more.’

Patricia listened intently as the man gave these particulars, and made
her way alone to the side of her cousin. He lay upon a bed placed
hastily on the floor, his face worn to a shadow with intense suffering
of mind and body. As Patricia gazed upon the helpless sufferer, all her
love for the man burst forth; she knelt down, covered her face with her
hands, and wept piteously.

The woman who stood by, with true woman’s instinct, guessed the nature
of her sorrow, and said gently: ‘You see, miss, the gentleman would
not say who he were, or we should ha’ sent before. I have done what I
could; but I fear he’s very, very bad.’ She wanted to break the truth
as gently as she could, for her experienced eye had noted every change.

‘I am dying,’ said Oliver in a low voice. ‘’Tis nearly over, Patricia;
but the pain has almost left me; and if I have strength, I must tell
you a very painful story, for I need your forgiveness, as you will
find. Do not grieve for me, Patricia.’ He paused. ‘Are you alone?’

Patricia shook her head.

‘Who is with you?’

‘Colonel Lindsay.’

‘Tell him to come here.’

At this crisis, wheels were heard outside, and Colonel Lindsay returned
with Patricia, bringing with them Mr Downes, the surgeon.

‘Mr Downes is here,’ said the Colonel, ‘through a message which I sent
him previous to leaving home; he will probably think it advisable to
remain with us for a time.’

Then Patricia knew that the surgeon was there not only in his medical
capacity, but as a witness to whatever might fall from the lips of her
lover; and yet her dread of any unpleasant revelation was intensified
by her great love for the man whose humiliation and shame she would
fain have spared. Mr Downes having carefully examined the patient,
administered a restorative, and Oliver related with pain and difficulty
the following story.

‘You know that Bertram and I were in college at the same time, where
my naturally extravagant habits led us both into debt. When we left
college, my uncle, believing me all that I ought to be, begged me
to remain at the Hall as companion to his son; at the same time he
proposed that I should qualify myself for the Church, and behaved to
me with the kindness of a father. I managed to fix the burden of our
debts upon Bertram, whose easy disposition and generous nature led
him to trust me thoroughly. During a London season we again became
steeped in difficulties beyond our power to remove. Returning to the
Hall, I fancied myself fascinated by the beauty of Ruth Boltz. How I
overcame her scruples, and finally induced her to fly to London with
me, I have no strength to tell; nor how I beguiled her to remain there,
leading her to hope for marriage. I had come to town for more purposes
than one. While at the Hall, our creditors had become clamorous; and
Bertram, in despair of obtaining any help from his father, and not
daring to tell of his entanglements, took counsel with me as to what
was to be done. By degrees I opened up my plan, filled in a cheque, and
forced Bertram by threats of exposure to forge his father’s name. This
done, I took care that he himself should present it at the banker’s. My
uncle who was unusually precise and correct in all business matters, at
once discovered the fraud. It was easy to cast the blame on Bertram,
whom I had persuaded to remain in London; and the fact of his absence
sealed his guilt. Ruth’s flight was at once connected with his; and
enraged beyond expression, his father forbade him the house, tore up
his letters unopened, and refused ever to acknowledge him again. In
vain Bertram appealed to me to speak for him; I only traduced him the
more while appearing to shield him; and persuaded him to go abroad
while he had the means of doing so. Seven months later, poor Ruth came
home and applied to me in her distress. Again I promised her marriage,
and from time to time made her an allowance. She promised to keep my
secret; yet her presence in the village was a continual annoyance to
me, for I feared that some time, in her despair, she might reveal the
truth. But I could not prevail upon her to leave the neighbourhood, and
I waited year after year before I could mature my plans to secure the
position which I had always coveted. At last she died, worn out with
trouble, and would no doubt have spoken out at last. But sending for my
aunt, the latter arrived too late. Poor suffering Ruth was dead.’...

Here the sufferer paused in mental agony, and after partaking of
stimulant, resumed his dread confession. ‘Then I was elated with my
false freedom. My uncle had long since erased Bertram’s name from his
will, and named me as his heir. I soon proposed to my cousin Patricia,
and we were on the point of marrying, when my aunt’s death postponed
it. In the midst of all my prosperity, I had a vague terror of Nathan
Boltz, believing that he knew my secret, and I hated him for his
supposed knowledge of it. Once more my marriage was about to take
place, and again Hilda’s death interposed, and saved Patricia from a
life of shame. Bertram returned; and deceived by his sister, Nathan
believed that in him he saw her betrayer. Then the grand principle of
his life was worked out--forgiveness. The return of Colonel Lindsay
helped on my ruin. I made a desperate effort to retain the prize which
I felt slipping from my grasp. After that dreadful scene in the church,
I fled in frantic haste across the country, eager to escape from
myself. But the hand of God was upon me; I could not elude that; and
believing that I had been a murderer, I looked upon myself as paying
the penalty of my sin, for I knew from the first that I must die. I
have no more to add, only to express my grief and my repentance, and to
pray that God may pardon my fearful sin.’

He stopped, greatly exhausted; and Mr Downes again did what he could
for his relief. All through the night, Patricia sat holding his hand in
hers, assuring him of their forgiveness, and ministering to his wants;
and Oliver Peregrine blessed her with the solemnity of a dying man. At
daybreak it was all over. Patricia’s watching had been a short one; but
she knew that henceforth she would walk through life alone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Oliver Peregrine was buried in Linden churchyard; and Nathan, at the
Squire’s urgent request, witnessed the last rites, and stood uncovered
while the earth was filled into the grave of the man who had so wronged
him. Never again, however, would he prepare the narrow resting-place in
which dust mingles with its kindred dust, or stand in the belfry tower
as master of the bells. Nathan had parted from the old life, which
would know him no more. After Bertram’s recovery, he travelled with him
for two years, and learned to know him as a brother. On their return,
the village people could scarcely recognise the quondam bell-ringer in
the accomplished gentleman and travelled man of the world. The soil had
been ready to receive the seed; but while the intellect was enlarged
the heart of the man remained the same. Thus it came about that on a
certain happy day, Nathan, who was the affianced husband of Gertrude,
stood once more in the belfry tower; and with her by his side, and the
ringers clustered round, while Bertram and Colonel Lindsay looked on
from the doorway, he begged that he might try his hand again. A proud
consent was given, and prouder than ever were the ringers, of him who
had been their chief. After a slight pause, Nathan’s hand, now white
and shapely, grasped the rope once more. ‘Now lads!’ he cried--‘now!’
and the bells chimed out a right merry peal.



UNDER FIRE.


Most men who have been under fire will frankly confess that the
sensation is anything but a pleasant one. But inspired by a sense of
duty and a lively enthusiasm, the anxious feeling soon passes off. The
skirmishers load and fire, the gunners work their guns without much
thought of their own danger. Indeed it is well if this indifference
does not go too far, for then reckless excitement and careless haste
take the place of soldierly deliberation and prudence.

At Waterloo the fighting between two armies armed with old weapons
of short range was all at what we now call close-quarters. The most
effective range for artillery was about five hundred yards, and
musketry-fire was exchanged at less than half that distance. Rifled
weapons of long range have changed all this, and the introduction
of breech-loading small-arms has worked a perfect revolution on the
battle-field. In 1866 the Prussian needle-gun shewed in the fighting in
Bohemia the terrible effects that can be produced by rapid rifle-fire.
Every army in Europe was soon provided with breech-loading rifles; and
in the war of 1870, for the first time two great armies thus formidably
armed met in battle. In the first conflicts of the war the Prussians
attacked in close order, as they had done in 1866; but in the great
battle of Gravelotte, fought on August 18, 1870, they learned a lesson
which made them completely change their tactics; and every European
army (but one) has followed their example. The lesson was dearly
bought. On that day the French army, one hundred and twenty thousand
strong, lay along the hills to the west of Metz, where it was attacked
by two hundred thousand Germans. The village of St Privat, on holding
which the security of the whole French position depended, was held by
Marshal Canrobert’s corps. The village is surrounded by long gentle
slopes; and in fighting it is always found that it is more difficult
to storm such a place than one that stands upon a steep hill. The very
steepness of the ascent in some degree protects the attacking party as
they ascend, by making the fire of the defenders more vertical; whereas
on a gentle slope each bullet has a longer course and more chances of
doing harm. As a preparation for the attack on St Privat, and in order
in some degree to destroy the steadiness of the defenders, the place
was bombarded for some time with one hundred and twenty guns; then
when it was hoped that the artillery-fire had cleared the way, three
brigades of the Guards, the picked men of the German army, were ordered
to carry the village.

Massed in close order, with a front of two thousand paces, and covered
by clouds of skirmishers, the Guards began their advance up the slopes.
In ten minutes the attack was over, and had utterly failed. Brief as
it was, it was a terrible time. The German official Report does not
deal in exaggerated language, and it speaks of the ‘storm of bullets
that came beating down from St Privat’ and forced the Guardsmen to
crowd together in every hollow and behind every wave of the ground. The
French used their chassepots to deadly purpose; in those ten minutes
six thousand of the Prussian Guard had fallen. But the rapid fire of
the French had all but emptied their cartridge-boxes, and the defective
arrangements made by the staff had not provided properly for supplying
the deficiency. This is always a danger to which men armed with the
breech-loader are liable, and it is an awkward one, for in modern war
the man who is without cartridges is virtually disarmed. The cartridges
of the dead and wounded were collected and distributed; but this was a
poor resource. The enemy had formed new columns of attack, composed of
Saxon and Prussian troops, and these, though not without heavy loss,
carried the village, and decided the battle which shut Marshal Bazaine
and his great army up in Metz. The day after Gravelotte was fought and
won, the German headquarters staff published an order that an attack in
heavy masses like that which had won Sadowa but had failed at St Privat
should never be attempted again.

The deadliness of breech-loading fire has produced another effect upon
tactics in battle. The spade has taken a place second only to the
rifle, and no General occupies a position in battle even for a couple
of hours without rapidly strengthening it with light intrenchments.
These consist generally of a shallow trench, the earth from which
is thrown up towards the enemy, so as to form a little parapet in
front of it. This is the shelter-trench which we hear of so often in
war correspondence. Effective shelter-trenches can be constructed in
from eighteen minutes to half an hour, according to the nature of the
ground and the skill of the men engaged in the work; and they have this
advantage, that they can be continually improved, the trench being
deepened, the parapet raised, and a ditch formed outside it, if the
position is occupied long enough; so that what was at first a mere
shelter-trench, gradually becomes a formidable line of earthworks.
A trench is a very efficient protection against artillery-fire, for
unless the shells drop actually into it, or upon the parapet, the
fragments are not likely to hurt the men crouching or lying down in
it; and such accurate hits are rare, most of the projectiles falling a
little behind or a little short of the line aimed at.

It is a fact that the actual number of men put _hors de combat_ by
artillery-fire is very few in any case. It really is meant to produce
an effect on the _morale_ of the troops attacked; that is to say,
to make them nervous, excited, liable to panic, and apt to give way
before a sudden onset. Hundreds of shells exploding on the ground and
in the air, and scattering showers of fragments on all sides, dropping
neatly over walls and barricades, crashing through walls and roofs, and
searching woods and thickets, are apt to gradually break down the nerve
of all but the steadiest men.

As a matter of actually killing and maiming a large number of the
enemy, it is coming to be believed that the old artillery of Napoleon’s
days used at close quarters, that is at about four hundred yards,
against heavy masses, was more deadly than the modern rifled gun.
Artillery is now effective up to two thousand five hundred yards, and
sometimes even beyond that range. Rifle-fire generally begins at four
hundred yards, though picked marksmen may be engaged at longer ranges.
The ordinary fighting range of the rifle is thus now equal to that of
the field-gun of thirty years ago, and the accuracy of the fire is
increased in even a greater ratio. With the old musket the chances
of a bullet finding a human billet were extremely uncertain. At one
hundred yards there was a deviation of two feet to right or left, which
at two hundred yards had increased to more than six feet. The average
deviation of the Martini-Henry is about seven inches at three hundred
yards, a little less than a foot at five hundred, and about twenty
inches at eight hundred; or less than the error of the old musket
at one hundred yards. Without aiming, a rapidity of fire equal to
twenty-five shots per minute has been obtained with the Martini-Henry
with which our army is now furnished. How different from the weapons
used in the Peninsula and at Waterloo.

Yet it is singular that the proportion which the loss in battle
bears to the number of men engaged is on the whole decreasing,
notwithstanding (or perhaps in consequence of) improved armaments. At
Marengo in 1800 the loss in killed and wounded amounted to one-sixth of
the effective force engaged; at Austerlitz (1805) it was one-seventh;
at Preuss-Eylau (1807), as much as one-third; at Wagram (1809), rather
more than one-ninth; at Borodino (1812), one-fourth; and at Waterloo
(1815), rather more than one-sixth. Coming now to more recent battles,
we find that at Solferino (1859) the loss was only one-fourteenth; at
Sadowa (1866), one-eleventh; at Gravelotte (1870), one-ninth; at Sedan,
only one-seventeenth. It would seem that the diminution of the loss is
the result of the open order, the use of cover, and the briefness of
the struggle at the decisive points, where, on account of the severity
of the fighting, it cannot last very long. Men will stand longer under
a fire that knocks over only one man in a minute, than they will under
one that kills a score in the same time. The heavy fighting at Plevna
before its fall, was an exception to this diminution of loss, for in
one of their attacks the Russians lost as much as one-fifth, but this
was the result of their fighting in heavy columns, in defiance of the
experience of 1870. Statistics from both the Russian and the German
armies shew that at all times the officers in proportion to their
numbers lose more than the men. Naturally they are liable to attract
attention and to be picked off by the enemy’s marksmen.

With the immense armies of our day the total loss of men is enormous.
At Sadowa the Prussians lost 10,000 men out of 215,000 engaged; the
Austrians and Saxons 30,000 out of 220,000. At Gravelotte the French,
120,000 strong, lost 14,000; the Germans 20,000 out of 200,000. At
Sedan the losses of the Germans were 10,000; of the French, 14,000. The
heaviness of the German loss at the battle of Gravelotte was as we have
already said, largely due to the failure of the Guards at St Privat.

From these statistics of loss in battle it may be imagined what a
painful task and what severe labour are thrown upon the army which
remains in possession of a battle-field at the end of the fight. The
length of the lines in a general engagement like Sadowa is enormous,
ranging from ten to fifteen miles; and the depth of the tract over
which the fighting rolls perhaps from two or three to five or six
miles; so that the ‘battle-field’ is a tract of country from thirty to
eighty square miles in extent, and this immense tract is strewn with
thirty or forty thousand killed and wounded. Here they lie scattered,
so that it is a long walk from one fallen man to another; but over
there on that hill-side, or in that village where the fight was close
and hot, they are thrown together in little heaps, and there is no need
of searching for them. Wherever there is water, wounded men are sure to
be found, who have dragged themselves down to it. Perhaps they are dead
at the brink. There is little blood to be seen; the rivers of blood
shed on the battle-field exist only in poetry. Of the actual blood
in a pool here and there on the field, most has come from cavalry or
artillery horses killed by shell-fire.

The victors in the fight have thrown on their hands not only their own
wounded, but those of the enemy. The hurried telegram which announces
their success gives also in round numbers a rough estimate of the loss
on both sides; generally it is an unintentional exaggeration, for it
is hard to judge correctly. In two or three days the real numbers are
known; for the dead have been collected, counted, and buried, with
great mounds of earth that will mark the battle-field for centuries,
and shew too where the fight was hottest. The wounded, much more
numerous than the dead, have been collected in the field-hospitals, and
as many as possible are being sent off by train to the great hospitals
of distant cities, in order to relieve the strain upon the resources of
the medical staff and the volunteer aid societies working in the field.
Hard work it is to deal with the immense mass of suffering men. Think
what it is to have to arrange suddenly for even two cases of severe
illness in an ordinary household, and then try to imagine what labour,
care, and forethought are required to provide for many thousands of
wounded men in the open country.

The care for the wounded begins while the fight is actually in
progress. No help is so efficient as that which comes at once. A man is
hit. If the wound is slight, he perhaps does not know anything about
it till the fight is over, when he perceives that there is something
wrong with his leg or his side; or if he does perceive it, he is able
to bandage it at once with a handkerchief, or the bandage that now is
carried by almost every soldier. The surgeon of the battalion gives him
his assistance if he is at hand; but most men have to do without him
if the work is hot, for he cannot multiply himself or be everywhere,
though he does his best to accomplish something like it. In most
armies, if the men are attacking, he can only attend to the slightly
hurt, who are able to keep up with the rest. It is only when the
battalion is halted or on the defensive that he can attend to the more
seriously injured who fall, for they must not be left behind. The first
help is always the most important; given at once to a slightly wounded
man, it saves him from having to go into hospital and keeps him in the
ranks; given to a fallen man, it probably saves his life. The great
danger is exhaustion from loss of blood or from the nervous shock that
follows a bullet-wound, which makes a man seem as if he were dying,
though with a little help it soon passes off. To stop the bleeding with
a tourniquet or a bandage, to give a drink of water or a little brandy,
is the aid needed at the outset. This is done actually under fire.

The next help is provided by the field ambulances, or as they are very
appropriately called in our service, ‘dressing-stations;’ these are
established in shelter-places upon the actual battle-field in rear
of the fighting line. Sometimes an inn, a farmhouse, or some barn is
available for this purpose; if not, there are hospital tents or the
shade of trees. Here is to be found a staff of surgeons and dressers,
with appliances for the more necessary operations, and a store of
stimulants and sustaining food. To bring the wounded men out of the
firing, there are attached to each regiment a few trained bearers with
stretchers. These bearers being provided, no man is allowed to leave
the ranks to help the wounded; otherwise, every man that fell would be
the means of withdrawing two others from the fight, and whole companies
might melt rapidly away. The bearers remove as many as they can to the
dressing-stations; they take those nearest to hand, and the wounded man
who attracts their attention is lucky. Many more less fortunate than
he have to wait till the battle is over, for comparatively few can be
carried off during the actual fighting. Some, though too disabled to
remain in the fight, can themselves make their way to the stations.
They ask their way of any bearers they meet; or if they meet none,
they look out anxiously for the white flag with the red cross that
flies over the little harbour of refuge of which they are in search.
The wounded men who are thus brought or come into the stations have
their wounds dressed by the surgeons, with the help of chloroform if
necessary; a record of the nature of the wound and of the treatment so
far, is rapidly written on a card; and if the man will bear removal,
his stretcher is placed in an ambulance-wagon, and an easy journey of
three or four miles places him in the field-hospital, established in
tents or buildings well out of even long-range artillery-fire.

These field-hospitals, rapidly organised with _matériel_ that is
conveyed with every well-organised army, can accommodate several
hundreds of men; and while the battle proceeds, fresh field-hospitals
are being got ready wherever buildings or tents are available, for
the night will bring in a host of patients. At first there are few
men in them; most of the wounded that have been treated are still at
the field ambulances. In the evening they arrive more rapidly; next
day they come in crowds, and the hospitals are encumbered with them.
And now the railway system of the country comes to the help of the
overburdened medical staff. Hospital trains--that is to say trains
fitted with hanging-beds or stretchers, and provided with nurses and
surgeons--carry back to the hospitals of great cities in the rear, all
those of the wounded who can safely bear the journey. Gradually death,
recovery, or removal clears the field-hospitals; one by one they are
closed, their _matériel_ and appliances are packed in the wagons of
the hospital service, and with their staff of surgeons, dressers, and
nurses, they follow the armies in the field. Meanwhile the hospital
trains have distributed the wounded into the permanent hospitals at
home or into special ones provided for the war. If the army is an
English one, ships comfortably fitted up as hospitals have received the
wounded at the nearest coast to the battle-field, and they are lying
in comfortable hammocks, between airy decks, perhaps at anchor in some
roadstead, or better still, going rapidly under sail and steam towards
home.

We can dwell with satisfaction on this work of mercy, in which so
many willing hands engage to repair, as far as can be done, the wreck
and ruin of war. It is a work of mercy which ought to bind nations
together, for men of many lands meet to labour under the red cross of
mercy wherever war devastates Europe. For many, alas! the help comes
too late; the bullet has done its work swiftly and surely; life is
gone; or the wound is mortal and the sufferer dies, and will lie under
the long green battle-mound. An officer will look at the tablet under
his uniform that gives the name and corps of the fallen man, and make
an entry in his list of dead; and the news is sent to his friends far
away at home. These are the messages that give more pain even than the
bullet or bayonet, and terrible it is to think that when men meet in
battle the rapid fire of the rifle is doing its work not only in the
field, but far away in distant cities and villages, where the sound of
the fighting cannot be heard; and where there are women and children
and old men to whom that fight will bring sorrow and pain and even
death, as surely as if the rapid rifle-fire itself had swept them down.
This is perhaps the darkest side of the picture, the portion of the
loss caused by war, which our statistics cannot touch.



A NARROW ESCAPE.

FROM THE FRENCH OF ALEXANDRE DUMAS’ ‘LE MAÎTRE D’ARMES.’


The death of the famous dog Sutherland--thus named after the
Englishman who had made a gift of it to the Empress Catharine II. of
Russia--nearly caused a tragic mistake, in so far as it nearly cost the
donor, a celebrated banker, his life. The occurrence took place at St
Petersburg.

One morning, at daybreak, Mr Sutherland, the gentleman who had
presented the dog to the Empress, and who was consequently a favourite
with that august personage--was suddenly awoke by his man-servant.

‘Sir,’ said the footman, ‘your house is surrounded with guards, and the
master of the police demands to speak to you.’

‘What does he wish with me?’ exclaimed the banker, as he leaped from
his bed, somewhat startled by this announcement.

‘I know not, sir,’ answered the footman; ‘but it appears that it is a
matter of the highest importance, and which, from what he says, can
only be communicated to you personally.’

‘Shew him in,’ said Mr Sutherland, as he hastily donned his
dressing-gown.

The footman departed, and returned some minutes afterwards with His
Excellency Mr Reliew, upon whose face the banker read at the first
glance some formidable intelligence. The worthy banker, however,
maintained his calmness, and welcoming the master of the police with
his usual urbanity, presented him with a seat. His Excellency, however,
remained standing, and in a tone the most dolorous which it was
possible to assume, said:

‘Mr Sutherland, believe me when I assure you that I am truly grieved
to have been chosen by Her Majesty, my very gracious sovereign, to
accomplish an order, the severity of which afflicts me, but which has
without doubt been provoked by some great crime.’

‘By some great crime, Your Excellency!’ exclaimed the banker. ‘And who
then has committed this crime?’

‘You, doubtless, sir, since it is upon you that the punishment is to
fall.’

‘Sir, I swear to you that I know not of any reproach with which to
charge myself as a subject of our sovereign; for I am a naturalised
Russian, as you must know.’

‘And it is precisely, sir, because you are a naturalised Russian
that your position is terrible. If you had remained a subject of His
Britannic Majesty, you would have been able to call in the aid of the
English consul, and escape thus perhaps the rigour of the order which I
am, to my very great regret, charged to execute.’

‘Tell me then, Your Excellency, what is this order?’

‘Oh, sir, never will I have the strength to make it known to you.’

‘Have I lost the good graces of Her Majesty?’

‘Oh, if it were only that!’

‘Is it a question to make me depart for England?’

‘Oh! no; even that must not be.’

‘Mon Dieu! you terrify me. Is it an order to send me to Siberia?’

‘Siberia, sir, is a fine country, and which people have calumniated.
Besides, people return from it.’

‘Am I condemned to prison?’

‘The prison is nothing. Prisoners come out of prison.’

‘Sir, sir!’ cried the banker, more and more affrighted, ‘am I destined
to the knout?’

‘The knout is a punishment very grievous; but the knout does not kill.’

‘Miserable fate!’ said Sutherland, terrified. ‘I see indeed that it is
a matter of death.’

‘And what a death!’ exclaimed the master of the police, whilst he
solemnly raised his eyes with an expression of the most profound pity.

‘How! what a death! Is it not enough to kill me without trial, to
assassinate me without cause? Catharine orders, yet’----

‘Alas! yes, she orders’----

‘Well, speak, sir! What does she order? I am a man; I have courage.
Speak!’

‘Alas! my dear sir, she orders---- If it had not been by herself that
the command had been given, I declare to you, my dear Mr Sutherland,
that I would not have believed it.’

‘But you make me die a thousand times. Let me see, sir, what has she
ordered you to do?’

‘She has ordered me to have you STUFFED!’

The poor banker uttered a cry of distress; then looking the master of
the police in the face, said: ‘But, Your Excellency, it is monstrous
what you say to me; you must have lost your reason.’

‘No, sir; I have not lost my reason; but I will certainly lose it
during the operation.’

‘But how have you--you who have said you are my friend a hundred
times--you, in short, to whom I have had the honour to render certain
services--how have you, I say, received such an order without
endeavouring to represent the barbarity of it to Her Majesty?’

‘Alas! sir, I have done what I could, and certainly what no one would
have dared to do in my place. I besought Her Majesty to renounce her
design, or at least to charge another than myself with the execution
of it; and that with tears in my eyes. But Her Majesty said to me with
that voice which you know well, and which does not admit of a reply:
“Go, sir, and do not forget that it is your duty to acquit yourself
without a murmur of the commissions with which I charge you.”’

‘And then?’

‘Then,’ said the master of the police, ‘I lost no time in repairing
to a very clever naturalist who stuffs animals for the Academy of
Sciences; for in short, since there was not any alternative, I deemed
it only proper, and out of respect for your feelings, that you should
be stuffed in the best manner possible.’

‘And the wretch has consented?’

‘He referred me to his colleague, who stuffs apes, having studied the
analogy between the human species and the monkey tribe.’

‘Well?’

‘Well, sir, he awaits you.’

‘How! he awaits me! But is the order so peremptory?’

‘Not an instant must be lost, my dear sir; the order of Her Majesty
does not admit of delay.’

‘Without granting me time to put my affairs in order? But it is
impossible!’

‘Alas! it is but too true, sir.’

‘But you will allow me first to write a letter to the Empress?’

‘I know not if I ought; my instructions were very emphatic.’

‘Listen! It is a last favour, a favour which is not refused to the
greatest culprit. I entreat it of you.’

‘But it is my situation which I risk.’

‘And it is my life which is at stake.’

‘Well, write; I permit it. However, I inform you that I do not leave
you a single instant.’

‘Thanks, thanks. Pray, request one of your officers to come, that he
may convey my letter.’

The master of the police called a lieutenant of the Royal Guards,
delivered to him the letter of poor Sutherland, and ordered him to
bring back the answer to it immediately. Ten minutes afterwards, the
lieutenant returned with the order to bring the banker to the imperial
palace. It was all that the sufferer desired.

A carriage stood at the gate. Mr Sutherland entered it, and the
lieutenant seated himself near him. Five minutes afterwards they were
at the palace, where Catharine waited. They introduced the condemned
man to her presence, and found Her Majesty in convulsions of laughter.

It was for Sutherland now to believe her mad. He threw himself at her
feet, and seizing her hand in his, exclaimed: ‘Mercy, madame! In the
name of heaven, have mercy on me; or at the least tell me for what
crime I have deserved a punishment so horrible.’

‘But my dear Monsieur Sutherland,’ replied Catharine with all the
gravity she could command, ‘this matter does not concern you at all!’

‘How, Your Majesty, is it not a matter concerning me? Then whom _does_
it concern?’

‘Why, the dog of course which you gave me, and which died yesterday
of indigestion. Then in my grief at this loss and in my very natural
desire to preserve at least his skin, I ordered that fool Reliew to
come to me, and said to him: “Monsieur Reliew, I have to request that
you will have Sutherland immediately stuffed.” As he hesitated, I
thought that he was ashamed of such a commission; whereupon I became
angry and dismissed him on his errand.’

‘Well, madame,’ answered the banker, ‘you can boast that you have in
the master of the police a faithful servant; but at another time,
pray, I entreat of you, to explain better to him the orders which he
receives.’

The four-footed Sutherland was duly promoted to a glass case _vice_ the
banker--relieved.



AN INTERNATIONAL POLAR EXPEDITION.


In a former paper on Polar Colonisation we mentioned that an American
enthusiast had suggested that, with a view to the achievement of
greater results, the enterprise of exploring the Arctic regions should
be made an international one. A somewhat similar idea appears to have
occurred about the same time to Count Wilczek, and Lieutenant Charles
Weyprecht, of Arctic fame. After many months of careful consideration,
these gentlemen lately issued at Vienna the programme of the work
which they propose should be undertaken by an International Polar
Expedition. The elaborate scheme therein propounded was originally
prepared with a view to its details being fully discussed by the
International Meteorological Congress which was to have met at Rome
in the month of September of last year, but which, owing to political
events, it has been found necessary to postpone till the present
year. The peculiarity of their project is that they aim at purely
_scientific_ exploration in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and that
they leave geographical discovery out of their programme, intending
that it should be undertaken by a separate expedition. To accomplish
the highly important end they have in view, they suggest that each of
the states participating in the work should equip an expedition and
despatch it to one of the stations enumerated by them. Each of the
powers interested will be left to decide how long it will continue the
work and what questions should be studied beyond those laid down in
the international programme. The investigations to be undertaken in
common will only include the phenomena of meteorology and terrestrial
magnetism, _auroræ boreales_, and the laws which govern the movements
of ice. As of course uniformity and the utmost possible accuracy in
the observations to be taken are absolutely necessary for purposes
of comparison, the propounders of the scheme enter into very minute
details, especially as regards the magnetic observations. The following
are the places which are considered the most favourable for the
purposes above indicated: (In the northern hemisphere), the north coast
of Spitzbergen, the north coast of Novaya Zemlya, the vicinity of the
North Cape of Finmark, the north coast of Siberia at the mouths of the
Lena, New Siberia, Point Barrow at the north-east of Behring Strait
(occupied by Maguire 1852-54), the Danish settlement on the west coast
of Greenland, and the east coast of Greenland in about latitude 75°;
(in the southern hemisphere) the neighbourhood of Cape Horn, Kerguelen
or Macdonald Islands, and one of the groups south of the Auckland
Islands. Each state interested, it may be mentioned in conclusion, must
establish a station for a year at least, and conform strictly to the
terms of the programme.



THE FIRST PRIMROSE.


    A Primrose awoke from its long winter sleep,
    And stretched out its head through its green leaves to peep;
    But the air was so cold, and the wind was so keen,
    And not a bright flower but itself to be seen.
    ‘Alas!’ sighed the Primrose, ‘how useless am I,
    As here all alone and half hidden I lie;
    But I’ll strive to be cheerful, contented to be,
    Just a simple wild flower growing under a tree.’
    Soon a maiden passed by, looking weary and sad,
    In the bright early spring-time, when all should be glad,
    But she spied the sweet Primrose so bright and so gay,
    And the sight of it charmed all her sadness away;
    And the Primrose gave thanks to the dear Lord above,
    Who had sent it on such a sweet mission of love.

        CATHARINE DAVIDSON.

       *       *       *       *       *

Printed and Published by W. & R. CHAMBERS, 47 Paternoster Row, LONDON,
and 339 High Street, EDINBURGH.

       *       *       *       *       *

_All Rights Reserved._





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